Category: Cheese

Sourdough Salad Pizza

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Along with ice cream, chocolate, and burgers, pizza was definitely on my hit list when I started eating healthier. But like every single one of those foods, I have come up with a way of making them not only not bad for me, but actually good for me. If you live in the “pizza is junk food” world, this is the post for you, as I will single-handedly convince you that this universally loved indulgence can in fact, be nutritious.

It starts with the crust.

The pizza you’ll get at your local restaurant, in the freezer section of your grocery store, or out of the backseat of a teenage kid’s delivery car, is typically made with white flour. It also likely contains commercial yeast, the magical ingredient that makes dough rise quickly and predictably. There are of course other ways of making dough or crust, but these ingredients and methods can be more expensive and take more time. Most places stick to the quick and cheap, which almost always compromises our health. How do we make a healthier crust? The answer is fermentation!

Sourdough: what’s the big deal?
Sourdough is essentially fermented flour. And if you’re familiar with fermented foods, you’ll know that they are easier to digest, and contain far more nutrients than the original ingredients themselves. Sourdough bread is made by combining flour and water together with the natural yeasts that live on everything – our hands, our food, swirling around in the air – and after letting it hang out for a few days, you’ll have what’s called a “starter”.  This starter is added to a basic combination of more flour, water and salt, essentially inoculating it with all of the good bacteria and friendly yeasts. These organisms create lactic acid, which neutralize phytates, making nutrients more easily absorbed by the body. Lactic acid slows down the entrance of glucose into the blood stream, preventing the infamous glycemic index roller coaster. But my favourite of all, is that lactic acid helps break down the complex structure of gluten, making it far easier to digest. That means that people who have a sensitivity to gluten (except celiacs) can potentially eat sourdough bread without digestive upset, as the protein has been changed into a simpler arrangement that is easier to break down in the body.

Three cheers for that, eh?

Down below I’ve included the recipe for both sourdough starter and making pizza from that starter. I think sourdough pizza is a great place to begin because it is far easier to pull off than bread, in my experience. No matter if your dough gets a solid rise or not, you’ll still end up with a gloriously crisp, chewy crust that will your body will also thank you for.

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Toppings: not just a pretty face
The toppings on a pizza will make or break the overall flavour, but also the potential health benefits. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that gobs of cheese and pepperoni are not the most health-supportive choices. So, see topping your pie as an opportunity to get creative, while sneaking in all of those veggies!

The best advice I can give you on this front, is to remember to prepare the toppings – meaning that they should be in the state that you’d enjoy eating them before putting them on the pizza. Since this style of pizza is cooked very quickly, things like garlic, onions, mushrooms, and greens are not going to change all that much in the oven. If you wouldn’t mow down on a bunch of raw Swiss chard, take those leaves on a tour of a hot skillet first. Mushrooms should be marinated or cooked beforehand (unless you like them raw), and onions, in my opinion should be caramelized. Things like olives, zucchini, tomatoes, capers, and bell peppers can be added raw since they are delicious eaten that way.

Sauce is optional, especially if you’re going to use juicy toppings, but if you are using it, keep it sparse and don’t let it sit on the dough too long, otherwise it will get soggy and sad. Pesto is a great alternative to traditional sauce, as is tapenade, roast veggie puree, romesco, chimichurri, and harissa.

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And while we’re on the subject of health, did you know that pizza is THE perfect vehicle for salad? I discovered this a couple years ago when trying to make my healthy pizza even healthier. Instead of putting salad on the side, I thought, why not pile it on top? This delivers a fantastic textural contrast, while delivering that much-needed hit of freshness and bright acidity to cut the richness of the pizza. How is this not a thing?  I posted a shot on Instagram some time ago and it received a lot of positive feedback, so it seems like many of you are down with the salad pizza idea. It’s two of the world’s best foods combined, and that equals true tummy happiness.

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Every summer I go to my friends’ cottage, just down the river from my own in the Thousand Islands. They are enthusiastic foodies and love to cook and eat good food as much as I do. They are also passionate about a plant-based diet, fermentation, pickling, and sourdough – all things healthy and delicious! Needless to say, this weekend has become the culinary highlight of my summer.

The only difference between this year and previous ones, is that this time I was able to talk myself into snapping a few pics during this process and waiting to eat! Not an easy feat for me, you must know, but well worth it if it inspires any of you to try this recipe.

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Creating the sourdough starter
Although it may seem daunting, creating a sourdough starter, culture, or “mother” is far easier than you may think, and only requires three simple ingredients: water, flour, and a little patience. A starter takes about five days to develop, but perhaps more or less depending on temperature, humidity, and the type of flour you’re using. Nevertheless, it’s NOT complicated, and a very gratifying way to connect more to your food.

Here’s what you need:
4oz. / 115ml filtered water (un-chlorinated)
4oz. / 115g flour (choose whichever kind of grain-based flour you’d like – 100% rye and spelt are great choices)
a medium-sized glass container

Method:
1. Stir the flour and water together for about 30 seconds until it is a consistent batter. Cover the container with a tea towel, secure with a rubber band and set in a warm place.
2. After 24 hours, feed the starter with the same amount of flour and water. Stir to combine.
3. After another 24 hours, repeat with the feeding. By this time, you should see bubbles forming and smell something slightly sour. This is a good sign, and means that the wild yeasts are active. If there are no bubbles or sour aroma, keep feeding the starter and looking for signs of life.
4. After 24 hours, repeat with the feeding. By this time, you should see many bubbles of varying sizes and the aroma should be pleasantly strong.
5. Around day five, the starter should have doubled in size from day four, and is ready to use. If the starter has not risen, continue with the feeding program until it has. This process can take a few extra days if you’re in a colder environment. Don’t give up!

Storing your Sourdough Starter
If you would like to use the starter daily, then I recommend feeding it daily. Keep it at room temperature on your counter top so that you’ll remember to do so, and remove half of the starter each time so that there is always room for the fresh flour and water. If you would however like to store your sourdough for occasional use, keep it in the fridge where the fermentation process will slow down and will only require a feeding once a week.

To use again, simply remove the starter from the fridge about 12 hours prior to baking. Feed the starter to “wake it up” from hibernation. After about 12 hours from the last feeding, and once the starter is bubbly and smelling sour, it’s ready to go again!

Resources and Troubleshooting
There are so many resources for sourdough making out there, I’ll leave you with a few that I really like in case you run into any issues.
Cultures for Health
Nourished Kitchen
The Kitchn

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I hope that this post puts you in touch with your inner baker, and that you commit to starting your sourdough culture TODAY. Through this miraculous process, you’ll be joining centuries of tradition, ritual, and connection. Not to mention that your pizza will suddenly be good for you. And that is the most important thing of all, amiright?

Happy fermenting, friends!
xo, Sarah B

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In other THRILLING news, I’m co-hosting a retreat in Bali this coming January! Wild Heart, High Spirit is a 7-day revitalizing retreat for women, aimed to restore balance, cultivate inner peace, and nourish the body from inside out. Learn to take care of yourself on a deep level, and feel empowered moving forward in your life beyond our week together. Join Mikkala Marilyn Kissi of Living Yolates and I for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on the enchanted island of Bali to connect with your wild heart and your high spirit! Click here to find out more. 

Meatless Mondays with Martha Stewart – Stoplight Tomato Sandwich with Herbed Goat’s Cheese

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Seeing as I still don’t have a kitchen, I am eating a lot of things that don’t require much attention. Raw foods? Yes. Bread? You bet. Sandwiches have become part of the almost daily menu around here, and I can’t say that I am too torn up about it. I love a good sandwich.

Tomatoes are kind of old news this time of year as we move on to root veggies and squashes, but you must realize that I have been waiting for good tomatoes to arrive in cool-weather Copenhagen since I got back from North America. Tomatoes are at their height in late September/early October instead of July, which means that tomato-lovers can enjoy the fabulous fruit well into the fall. This sandwich has been in heavy rotation for the last few weeks because we are finally getting some decent-tasting heirloom varieties in the markets now.

I clearly remember the day when I realized that there was a world of tomatoes much larger than the grocery-store one in which I grew up. I saw a tomato that wasn’t red; it was yellow, in fact. With a delightful, sugar-sweet tang and almost creamy texture. Finding tomatoes in nearly every color of the rainbow may require a venture to a farmers’ market or natural food shop, but it’s worth it.

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For this sandwich, I liked the idea of slicing the tomatoes into rounds and making a stoplight pattern (just for fun), but you can, of course, use any variety of tomato you find that look’s delicious. The contrast of the sweet tomatoes with the tangy herb-y cheese is amazing. You can purchase affordable chévre at most grocery stores now, and it’s as simple as adding a handful of herbs to elevate ho-hum cheese into something totally elegant. I would recommend doubling this recipe if you are serving more than 2 or 3 people (also because you will want to eat most of it in one sitting – trust me). No basil or chives? Any fresh herb works: tarragon, rosemary, oregano, thyme.

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Stoplight Tomato Sandwich with Herbed Goat Cheese
Serves 2

4 slices whole-grain bread
1 clove garlic
3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced thick
Herbed goat cheese (recipe follows)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Herbs, for garnish (optional)

Directions
1. Toast bread until golden and crusty. Halve garlic clove and rub the cut side on top side of each toast.

2. Spread toast with herbed goat cheese and layer tomatoes. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with herbs, if using.

Herbed Goat Cheese
3 oz (80 g) chévre (soft goat cheese)
Zest of 1 organic lemon
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 tablespoon minced basil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper (or red pepper flakes)

Directions
Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir. Season to taste. Store leftovers in the fridge.

ps – I finally got a phone that can actually take photos, so I am on Instagram now. My username is mynewroots.

xo, Sarah B

 

Grilled Halloumi and Peaches with Dukkah

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And so I have returned to the land of bikes and wind and sea and pastry.
This weekend was spent getting back into the swing of things and back onto the Danish clock on Bornholm, the island where my husband’s family has a seaside cottage. It’s a pretty idyllic place where days are spent in a blur of eating, reading, napping, and perhaps a walk if we’re feeling ambitious. Naturally this kind of dreaminess leads me to the “kitchen” (the beach) where I have a spectacular view of the ocean, salty sea air in my lungs, and a roaring fire to cook over. While my man is usually preparing something of the pork persuasion for himself, I get to play with the grill veggie-style. Or in this case, fruit-and-cheese style.

I first discovered halloumi last autumn while I was in London. It seemed to be absolutely everywhere – from the uber-fancy restaurants, to the cheap and cheerful take-out shops.  What was this mysterious halloumi and why was it donning every menu like some ubiquitous, common fare that I had never seen before? Well, you can imagine my delight when I found out that halloumi was a cheese made out of…wait for it…sheep and goat milk! Hooray for life! 

Hailing from the island of Cyprus, halloumi cheese is un-ripened, semi-hard, and brined and kind of like feta, but with different qualities. Firstly, halloumi has a distinct layered texture and a very salty flavour. Its most notable feature however, is its very high melting point, making this cheese uniquely grill-able. You can also fry halloumi into crispy, golden cubes for an interesting addition to salads and warm vegetable dishes. Soooo scrumptious.

Traveling south to Egypt we find the origins of dukkah – a nut, herb, and spice blend that is traditionally used as a dip for bread or fresh vegetables. Although there are many different versions containing a plethora of various ingredients, I kept mine fairly simple with hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. I had actually not tried this versatile condiment until this weekend when I made a batch specifically to garnish the grilled peaches and halloumi. My instincts told me that they would be a super delish combo, and blessed be; I was right on the money. The roasted nuts and seeds add richness to the juicy grilled peaches, and the crunch was a welcomed addition to the relatively soft textures of the fruit and cheese.  

Since then I have tried sprinkling dukkah on salad, grain dishes, avocados and eggs – all delicious! This is a very easy thing to whip up and have on hand to liven up just about any meal. It’s nutty, it’s toasty, it’s savory and spicy! A jar of this would make a great gift.

Grilled Halloumi and Peaches with Dukkah
Serves 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:
4 ripe peaches (organic if possible)
1 block halloumi cheese
to garnish: fresh mint, lemon, olive oil, honey or maple syrup

Directions:
1. Wash and cut peaches into 8ths, removing the pit.
2. Slice the halloumi into 1” cubes.
3. Skewer the peaches and cubes of halloumi.
4. On a medium-hot grill, cook the skewers on one side until the peaches have charred just slightly and the cheese has browned in places, then flip the skewer and cook until the other side is done (about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the heat of your grill).
5. Remove the skewers from the grill and place on a serving platter. Drizzle the skewers with honey, a little olive oil, a handful of chopped fresh mint leaves and a good douse of dukkah. Serve immediately.


Dukkah
Makes about 1 cup 
Ingredients:
1 cup hazelnuts
½ cup sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
1 ½ Tbsp. cumin seeds
1 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. sea salt

Directions:
1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, roast coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Place in a mortar and pestle and pound together with the peppercorns until pulverized (or grind in a coffee mill, or in a food processor).
2. In a dry skillet over medium heat, roast hazelnuts until fragrant, about 10 minutes (watch them carefully so that they don’t burn). Put hazelnuts on a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, rub the nuts together to remove the skin. Place in a food processor.
3. In the same skillet, roast sesame seeds until fragrant and they begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly. Place sesame seeds in the food processor with the hazelnuts. Pulse to chop hazelnuts until a chunky-sand texture results (do not blend as you will end up with hazelnut-sesame butter! Tasty yes, but not what we’re after).
4. In a large jar or bowl, empty the contents of the food processor and add the spice mix, along with the salt. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Store in an airtight glass container for up to one month.

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I am very excited to announce my first collaboration with a holistic therapy center here in Copenhagen. We have put together an intensive, two-week detox program designed to give you the tools and inspiration you need to make long-lasting changes in your life! I will be giving cooking classes and lectures on nutrition while guiding participants through a 14-day cleanse, including a juice fast. Participants will receive daily treatments in reflexology, full body massage, craniosacral therapy and yoga. This program is open to anyone in the world! Come join us in Copenhagen for this very special program. Learn more here.

Copyright 2012 My New Roots at mynewroots.blogspot.com