Grilling Pizzas at the Mill City, So You Can Too!

31 07 2011

"Don't Make Your Pizza Too Thick!"

I had the opportunity to do a cooking demonstration at the fabulous Mill City Farmer’s Market a couple of weeks ago, and of course, I wanted to grill pizza. Why? Well, for anyone still a little afraid of pizza on the grill, I want to show  how easy it is to make a really good meal from local and seasonal stuff on the grill. I was being selfish, too, I wanted to make something that did not require turning on the stove once in the whole process.

I was lucky to have some locally grown and ground flours from Sunrise Flour Mill:

I know there are people who think pizzas should be made with white flour dough, and I hope this crust will change some opinions. It’s got a fuller flavor and texture from the overnight slow rise, and I love the nutty taste of the fresh whole wheat flour.

When I arrived, toting my dough, it was raining and the wind was whipping through the market, but we had a feeling that it would clear up. After a few cloudbursts, the sun shone through. Heather Hartman, a fellow whole food teacher and chef runs the cooking stage, and she was going to follow me with a grilled smashed potato demo, so we got to stroll the market and pick out the freshest ingredients.

We picked out everything for the pizzas from the wonderful vendors there, from the huge bunches of basil I used for pesto, to amazing Shepherds Way Cheese for the topping. I grilled the veggies ahead of time in my grill wok, and we were ready for the show.

My Overnight Pizza Dough


Overnight Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Makes four or five pizzas

2 cups unbleached bread flour

3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/4 teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon sugar

3 cups water, room temperature


1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl and mix for one minute, to form a coarse, sticky gob of dough. Let the dough rest for five minutes, then mix again for one minute.Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, rub a little oil on your hands, and fold the dough into a smooth ball. Let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes and then stretch and fold the dough into a tight ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and immediately place in the refrigerator. The dough can be used anywhere from 6 hours to three days after it goes in the fridge.

2. When ready to make the pizzas, pull the dough from the refrigerator three hours prior to when you plan to bake. Divide the dough into four or five pieces. With either oil or flour on your hands, form each piece into a tight dough ball and place on a lightly oiled pan. Mist the dough balls with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or place the pan inside a large plastic bag. Give the dough at least 90 minutes before making the pizzas. If you don’t plan to use them all, place the extra dough balls inside of an oiled freezer bag and keep in the refrigerator (for up to three days) or in the freezer (for up to three months).

Stretching By Hand is Best

Each dough ball makes a 10-12 inch pizza, depending on thickness.

Grilled Pizzas: Pesto of the Day, Grilled Veggies, and  Local Cheese

Canola oil for the grill, cornmeal

4 cups of fresh herb- arugala, basil, cilantro

4 cloves garlic

½ cup nuts-pine nuts, toasted pumpkinseeds, pistachios, walnuts

½ cup aged cheese, shredded

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt, to taste

16 cups of veggies to grill: Zucchini, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, mushrooms, etc

Olive oil

1 pound of good cheese, chevre, fresh mozz, etc

Handfuls of fresh spinach or basil

1. Make the pesto, put the herbs, garlic , nuts and cheese in a food processor and process to chop finely. Add the olive oil gradually to make a smooth paste. Add salt and process. Scrape out into a bowl or cup. Cut up the veggies for grilling: if using a wok, cut in bite sized chunks, if not, slice in longer strips that will not fall in the grill. Put in a large bowl and toss with olive oil and balsamic, salt to taste.

2. Prepare the grill, preheating it on high. Get a cup and put a couple of tablespoons of canola oil in it, and get a paper towel and tongs for oiling the grate. Put your grill wok on and let it get hot, or brush the grate with oil. Put the veggies on and toss or turn to grill them until soft and ready to eat. Take off the grill and transfer to a bowl.

3. Roll or pat out each dough ball to desired thickness, place on a cutting board or pizza peel coated with cornmeal. Turn the grill to medium. Transfer to the hot oiled grill and quickly close the grill for just a couple of minutes-peek under the dough to see if it is browning. Open it and when the dough is stiff enough, turn the dough with the tongs, then quickly top with pesto, veggies, and cheese. Cover the grill until melted. Use tongs to slide back onto the cutting board and slice to serve immediately.

Just Slide It On The Grill

Spread That Pesto On Quickly

Ready to Slice

Everybody Got a Sample!

Marinated Grilled Veggies


It’s Time to Eat Your Peas

24 07 2011

My Sweet Pea Pesto Crostini

In recent news, our President admonished his opposition in Congress with a vegetable reference. He said  “So we might as well do it now. Pull off the bandaid. Eat our peas. Now is the time to do it. If not now, when?”

Of course, he was using the eating of the peas as an example of something that children do begrudgingly, because nobody really likes peas. Grown ups know that they must, so they get it over with, because it is good for them.

We know what he meant.

So, as a pea lover, I’d like to make the case for the maligned pea. Sure, if he is talking about slimy canned peas, well, that I can understand. Cooked to a gunmetal green, boiled and dumped on the plate, those guys turn off even a veg lover like me. But right now, I can buy fresh English peas at the Farmers Market, often already shelled. These peas are as different from icky canned peas as they can be. Sweet, creamy, full of pleasant flavors, they are a real treat. As long as you rush right home and cook them-because if you wait too long the sugars turn to starches, and you might as well be eating dried spit peas.

Maybe those are the peas he was talking about.

He’s right that we really should eat our peas, they are genuinely quite good for you.

And, 1 cup has 22% of the vitamin A, 97% of the Vitamin C, 16% of the folate and 12% of the iron you need for the day. 8g protein makes them a good source of vegetable protein, too.

Someone Else Did All the Work!

Of course, the pea also comes to us in Snow pea and Snap peas, with their crunchy edible pods. These are the best for stir fries, salads, and just eating out of hand. Unlike the fragile shell pea,  the edible pod peas stay sweet and snappy longer.

Thanks to Asian grocers, the pea shoot has started moving into the mainstream. Sweet, tender tips of pea plants taste like peas, and are delicious in salads, sandwiches, and stir fries. Look for them by the sprouts.

To really enjoy my shelled peas, I simply steamed them for about 5 minutes, then I made a quick pesto. A clove of garlic, a handful of basil, salt and olive oil to make a thick paste, and voila, I had a lovely lunch.

Sweet Pea Pesto Crostini

This makes about 1 1/2 cups of thick, spreadable pesto. If you thinned it out with more oil or some veggie stock you could sauce pasta with it.

2 cups of shelled English Peas

1 cup fresh basil leaf

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

extra virgin olive oil

toasted baguette slices

pea shoots

1. Steam the peas until tender, about 5 minutes. Run cold water over them to stop the cooking and let cool. In a food processor, mince the basil and garlic, then add the peas and process to chop finely. Add salt and gradually add olive oil to make a spreadable paste.

2. Smear on toasted baguette and serve topped with pea shoots.

Fettuccine With Smashed Peas

Popeye’s X-Ray Eyes

3 07 2011

Baby Collards in My Garden

Remember those old cartoons, where the character who ate carrots suddenly had super-x-ray-vision? Well, carrots are great, but of late, research keeps pointing to Kale. Specifically, to the Lutein found in kale and other leafy greens.

I don’t know about you, but I really like being able to see. In recent years, I have watched my Mother go through eye surgery, multiple treatments, and a steady loss of vision. Her sister also suffers from vision issues, and the two of them undoubtedly share genes with me that will lead me down a similar path. But I have been seeing an opthalmologist for annual screenings, and I think I have a secret weapon in my diet. Greens.

The latest study, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry ,says that lutein may protect the DNA of photoreceptive cells in the retina from the harmful effects of strong light. This adds to previous research showing that lutein helps protect us from age-related macular degeneration. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation reports that research shows that supplementation can actually replace lost pigments in the eye, and they recommend getting a daily dose of 6-30 milligrams of lutein and zeanthin, another carotenoid that is often present in the same foods.

These results have fueled a market for lutein supplements, which are, curiously, made from marigolds. But as long as you are trying to protect your health, maybe you should just load up on the green stuff. The highest amounts of lutein in foods are in leafy greens of all sorts, as well as in other colorful foods, like egg yolks, corn and oranges.

If you are going to eat with an eye to getting lots of lutein, remember to eat some fat with it, since it is a fat soluble nutrient, and needs fat to be absorbed. A cup of cooked kale has over 30 milligrams, which would be in the range of a good days worth. A cup of cooked spinach has over 14 mg, a cup of collards has at least 16.

Oh, and a baby carrot has 35 micrograms. That means you have to eat alot of them to get any significant amount of lutein.

No matter your age, you need to protect your eyes from damage. I’m betting on a steady diet of greens to help keep my eyes in top form, for whatever genetic curve ball is heading my way.

So, how do we get our greens? In a previous post, I extolled the joys of the green smoothie. I like to start every day with a blender drink made from 5 ounces of spinach, 1 ½ cups of frozen berries, a banana and 1 ½ cups of juice or kefir. If you are using juice or fat-free dairy, add something with a little fat, like a tablespoon of almond butter, or a splash of coconut milk.  It really tastes great, and I eat 55 mg of lutein before I leave the house.

Link to that post:

Kale is a source for other nutrients vegetarians need, like calcium and EFA’s, so it’s worth exploring. The simplest way to prepare it is sautéed in olive oil, with some garlic and chiles for an Italian flair. Stirred into soups, curried and pureed, or blanched and dressed for a salad, kale has a hearty flavor that is best with other strong tastes. Lately I like to finely shred kale into coleslaws, with vinaigrette dressing. Collards, turnip greens, and mustard are all from the same eye-loving family, so give them a try. Spinach is the sweetest and mildest of the lutein greens, so if that is easier for your palate, dig in.

I’ll be seeing you, thanks to my kale salad!

Marinated Kale Salad

Here is a link to a simple kale chip recipe on Vegetarian Times’ Website: