Broccoli

My quest to find bread and dough substitutes continues and when you start delving into this realm, the possibilities are endless. You are only limited by your imagination and I am discovering new ways all the time. The boundaries of bread are definitely being pushed, mostly by Vegetables.

Of course there are plenty of gluten-free bread/pizza base products available, however these products generally contain a cocktail of ingredients such as Xanthum Gum, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose or the dreaded Corn Starch which help the bread to retain a soft texture and nice attractive look. They are usually also high in sugar and fat to make them tastier. When it comes to a pizza base, nothing and absolutely nothing substituted is ever truly going to ‘taste’ like the classic traditional Italian, melt in your mouth dough consistency they have been masters of for decades. But it doesn’t hurt to try something new in the kitchen and experiment just to see what you can create. And in the case of a Broccoli Base Pizza, it won’t hurt your waistline either, you can eat as much as you want without the guilt factor. Win. (Unless it’s loaded with cheese of course).

Perhaps we should refer to this as something other than a pizza as am sure this concept would seem completely unethical to any fans of a great pizza, which would have to be the majority of us. I’ve decided on a Broccoli ‘Flammkuchen’ – a German name which is the translation of the French ‘Tarte Flambee’. Fancy I know but it in generic terms basically just means pizza made of very thinly rolled bread dough, cooked in a wood-fired oven, traditionally topped with Creme Fraiche, thinly sliced onions and bacon.

Flammkuchen
Flammkuchen

I sampled my first Flammkuchen in Switzerland recently after my musical European friends dismissed my plight of eating no-dough as a bit of a no-go. They weren’t wrong, it was incredibly delicious, as was the accompanying crisp white wine.

You can put whatever toppings you like on this, up to you. In this recipe I have substituted Creme Fraiche with a Blanched Almond, Tahini and Garlic spread, then topped with Caramelised Onions cooked in Organic Coconut Oil. So, no-gluten and no-dairy and you could eliminate the coconut sugar from the onions and it would be no-sugar as well, but they wouldn’t caramelise nicely. Some might say ‘no-fun’ either but it tastes good and is good for you. You’ve saved yourself a few high carbs and calories and earned yourself a nice glass or two of Cab Sav to go with it ūüôā

Broccoli Base Pizza

 

Broccoli Flammkuchen: *

1 Head of Broccoli

3 Tbs Ground Almonds

1 Tbs Sesame Seeds

1 Egg

Method:

1) Break Broccoli into florets, whizz them all up in a food processor till in tiny bits (do this in batches)

2) Place in a steamer or in the microwave and steam for five minutes, let cool

3) Put steamed broccoli in a tea towel, gather the sides up, scrunch into a ball and squeeze out all the moisture

4) Put in a bowl and mix together with almonds, sesame seeds and egg till well combined

5) Place a piece of baking paper on top of a pizza tray or stone and mould the mix out with your hands to flatten so it resembles a pizza base like this:

Broccoli Base
Broccoli Base

6) Bake in 180 C oven for fifteen minutes

7) Remove from oven and spread with almond paste and caramelised onions (recipe below) or whatever toppings you like.

8) Bake for another 15 minutes

 

Almond, Tahini and Garlic Paste:*

1 Cup of Blanched Almonds

2 Cloves Garlic

1/4 Cup of Olive Oil

1 Tbs Tahini

Juice of one Lemon

Dash of Paprika

Salt and Pepper

Method:

1) Place all ingredients in a food processor and grind up to a paste

 

Caramelised Onions: (Quick Version)

1 Red Onion, cut in to quarters lengthwise and then into slithers

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

1 Tbs Coconut Sugar (or Brown Sugar)

Splash of Water

Method:

1) Melt coconut oil over medium heat, then add onions and let sizzle for a few minutes

2) Add sugar and water, fry gently stirring often till the onions start to soften and get a bit syrupy, about 15 minutes or so.

 

* Note:

Here is the inspiration for the pizza base (where you will find many other great recipes and restaurant reviews by the very talented Not Quite Nigella) originally made with Cauliflower  Low Carb Gluten Free Cauliflower Base Pizza

I wanted to see if it also worked with Broccoli after making the Cauliflower version. It’s a different texture but still tasty.

The recipe for the Almond Paste is originally from here Eat Drink Paleo another wonderful site full of excellent recipes and nutritional information.

Chilli Oil
Chilli Oil

I am addicted to chillies. ¬†Did I mention that I love chillies? This love affair has been going on for around twenty-five years now. ¬†A bit of background here, this relationship did not start harmoniously or gently feeling our way by any means. ¬†Our introduction to each other was rather hurtful and very painful, and almost set us on the path never to be reunited again as I really did bite off more than I could chew and didn’t see the point of pursuing connections any further, the memory still resounds firmly.

I persisted though, and had no choice as the musicians and people I was associating with at the time were all big chilli freaks and was surrounded by all things chilli, constantly. ¬†If it wasn’t in the cooked dishes, it was on the side as sauces, in marinades, salads and even fried up till they were black and used as sandwich filler. ¬†(I never actually tried this, but an old flatmate used to cook this up from time to time, you had to vacate the premises because of the associated breathing difficulties).

Eventually, I started to introduce my taste buds with chilli correctly, in small doses and gradually. A resistance level to the pain must be built up with this fiery fruit, you need to feel your way with it. ¬†The pain threshold is now no barrier, I have reached the point where it’s no problem to consume large amounts and am no longer fearful, I am in love.

You see, chillies are actually physically addictive. They contain a compound called ‘capsaicin’ which is a natural chemical sending the burning sensation from the nerve endings in the mouth directly to the brain. Endorphins, natural painkillers in the body are then secreted causing a physical ‘rush’. This natural ‘high’ is what keeps us coming back for more, and just like any other addiction, you start craving higher doses the more you use it and your tolerance level builds. However, there is no evidence that eating too much chilli is unhealthy or ulcer causing and capsaicin is actually used in anti-inflammatory creams to treat arthritis and shingles.

Although, on the other extreme I would advise against entering into a chilli-eating competition any time soon.  A greatly talented musician friend I have worked with over the years has recounted a story of this to me. The contestants were made to eat chillies during a few rounds, where after each had to open their mouths to show the chillies had been chewed up firstly, then swallowed and no water in between. The overall winner had to be hospitalised!

I think best to just stick with the Chilli Sauce for now. Or try this recipe for Chilli Oil, a great way of using them when you have a chilli bush loaded with fruit and not sure what to do with them all.

Chilli Oil

1 cup of Birds Eye Chillies (or more depending on your heat threshold)

3 cups of good quality olive oil

1) Pre-heat oven to 180 C

2) Spread chillies evenly in a roasting tin

3) Roast chillies for approximately fifteen minutes or until well roasted, but not completely black, cool slightly

4) Place chillies in a jar, pour in olive oil

5) Cover with glad-wrap and place in a dark cupboard for three days

6) Strain oil into a bottle and discard chillies. ¬†If it’s too hot, pour in some more olive oil to dilute.