Breakfast, Snack

Crunchy puffed grain granola with almonds and honey

Crunchy puffed grain granola with almonds and honey on alickofsalt.com

I adapted my previously posted granola recipe with some of the ingredients from Kashi’s GoLean Crunch cereal, the honey almond flax version. It’s not as crispy or salty or sweet on purpose but it is just as addictive.

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Dinner, Lunch, Pizza

Homemade pizza with crispy crust

Homemade pizza with crispy crust on alickofsalt.com

After suggesting that you use any leftover dough you may have if you don’t like the bread it gives you by making pizza more than three months ago, I finally have a pizza recipe ready for you. I made the low whole-wheat version of the dough here but reduced the salt a little more. Making the dough early enough to allow for at least an overnight refrigeration will make your life a lot easier when rolling it out. Remember that the dough can be used within 14 days of making it. The actual preparation of the sauce and toppings takes about as long as heating up the oven so this is a quick dinner once you have the refrigerated dough.

The basic tomato sauce is tomatoes, ground pepper, a tiny bit of salt (if you can afford it in your diet), and red chili pepper flakes if you like spicy food. We sometimes add garlic and other spices to the sauce. We always top with mushrooms and fresh mozzarella and, when we’re feeling fancy, with shrimp. I of course made the fancy version to post.

I assume in my directions that you have no experience making pizza. I also assume that you don’t have any of the pizza-making tools you could have because we certainly don’t. We cook our pizzas in our 12-inch cast iron pan, but see the tips section for suggestions on how to cook it on other mediums like cookie sheets or baking stones.

I learned the hard way that it’s not a good idea to roll out the dough and let it sit. The longer it stays out of the fridge, the stickier it gets and trust me, you don’t want to end up having to try to scrape it out of the pan after it’s cooked. Let’s just say that you generally don’t end up getting much of the crust when you have to do that. So, I recommend getting everything else ready before bringing the dough out of the fridge to form it into a ball and roll it out. Any surface the dough will touch should be generously dusted with flour to prevent from sticking, your hands included. More importantly, dusting cornmeal on the rolling surface and cooking surface is the only way we’ve found to prevent the dough from sticking. If you work with the dough quickly, don’t leave it out of the fridge for long, and dust the cooking surface with cornmeal, you probably won’t have any issues with it sticking to the cooking surface. But if you’re worried about the non-stickiness of the pan you choose to use and don’t want to risk having toppings with scraped up dough for dinner, you can line the cooking surface with parchment paper. This will, however, make the bottom of the crust a little less crispy and might not allow you to eat the pizza by holding it in your hands if that’s your preferred method to eat it.

To prevent the crust from getting soggy once it’s cooked, we eat it one slice at a time and leave the rest on the cutting board.

Oh, I should also mention that since posting the revised dough recipe, I’ve learned that the stickiness of the dough depends not on how much whole wheat flour I use, but on the brand of the flour I use. Using the high-end flour (you know, the most expensive brand) has given me the stickiest dough but the best results with the loaves (the interior is more moist and less shiny). As far as I can tell, there’s no difference in the result when making pizza, so I would actually recommend using the lower-brand flours for pizza, since the dough is less sticky and easier to roll out.

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Bread

Low-sodium bread, slightly revised

Low-sodium bread

I’ve wanted to post a pizza recipe for a while and I have some notes and photos with a dough enriched with grains but I’m not happy enough with it yet. While I’ve been perfecting the pizza recipe, I’ve also been perfecting the dough and loaves. Since posting my first bread recipe, I’ve tried to make the process a little less haphazard and to measure things out more carefully. I’ve also decided to try making the dough using only all purpose flour and, to my surprise, the dough behaved differently enough after the chilling period to warrant its own post. It is much stickier and much harder to work with than the light whole wheat dough. The directions here take this into account.

Also, I finally overcame my brutish ways and started to use parchment paper rather than plopping the dough from a cutting board into my palm then into the preheated pot. I cut the parchment paper to fit on the bottom of the cast iron pot uncrinkled. It helps to trace the bottom of the pot on parchment paper before cutting it. I let the dough rest on the parchment paper and then transfer the dough, parchment paper and all, into the pan once it is preheated. I have a 9-inch cast iron dutch oven with lid and the diameter of the parchment paper is around 6.25″. If you’re also using a small pot like mine but want to use a whole one pound of dough for the loaf, you might want to append two tabs to the parchment paper circle to help you lift the rested dough into the pot better.

I think that I tend to overbake my bread because I like the crust to be very crispy. If you’re not a crisp-fanatic like me, check out the notes about timing in the tips section.

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Dinner, Figs, Fruit, Grains, Lunch, Pomegranate, Quick, Quinoa, Salad, Vegan, Vegetarian

Baby kale autumn salad with figs and pomegranate

Baby kale autumn salad with figs and pomegranate

Here is a seasonal recipe combining the last of the summer fruit season with the beginning of the winter one. I really like the sweetness the ripe figs add to this salad but if you’re unlucky enough to live in a place where figs are no longer available, you can add some fig jam to the dressing or just skip the figs altogether.

The main sources of protein in this salad are the quinoa and pecans. I try to time it so that both the quinoa and the pecans are still warm by the time they go in the salad. We prep the fruit and vegetables while the quinoa is on the stove, the pecans go in to the oven just before the quinoa is ready to rest and we toss and dress the salad as the pecans cool.

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Chickpeas, Dinner, Legumes, Lunch, Quick, Salad, Vegan, Vegetarian

Crisped chickpeas and arugula salad

Crisped chickpeas and arugula salad

One of our quick, go-to meals when we’re feeling lazy is some version of this salad. This particular version is vegan. Its large amount of protein from the chickpeas and sunflower seed kernels should satisfy omnivores as well. We add just a simple dressing and we don’t add a lot of it. The cherry tomatoes, ripe avocado, and grated carrot and beet add a lot of flavor on their own.

We add a whole can of chickpeas because we never remember to use the rest of the chickpeas when we use only half. But it’s really quite a lot of chickpeas. If you soak your own or if you’re better at remembering to use the things that end up in your fridge, you could easily halve the amount in the recipe and still have a satisfying meal.

We prepare everything that goes in the salad while the oven is preheating and while the chickpeas are in the oven so the salad is pretty much ready to eat by the time the chickpeas are ready to come out of the oven.

This recipe, too, has in part been adapted from my cooking bible, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. The crisped chickpeas are adapted from the book and their recipe is also available on the Smitten Kitchen blog.

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Chicken, Dinner, Lunch

Favorite chicken with arugula salad

This is one of our favorite meals. It’s just the two of us, so we marinate the four pieces at the same time, have the first two that night with half of the salad and have the remaining two the following night. If we’re feeling exciting or if we’re left over with two small pieces on the second night, we cut up the cutlets after we fry them and add them to a heartier salad.

The chicken needs at least an hour to marinate but can be made ahead up to one day in advance.

Note: We get a package of thinly sliced chicken breasts, which has four breasts of varying sizes. If you have a really sharp knife, you can get two regular chicken breasts and butterfly them in half so you get four thinly sliced pieces that way.

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Bread

Low-sodium light whole wheat bread

Low-sodium light whole wheat bread

When you make the change to a low-sodium diet, one of the first things that may surprise you is the amount of salt used to make bread. It doesn’t taste salty, but the reason the amount of sodium on nutritional labels is so high is because a fairly large amount of salt is important to the rising process when using most methods of breadmaking. I’ve had very little luck by just reducing the amount of salt called for in most breadmaking recipes when I first started (trying) to make bread. After many failed attempts, I stumbled upon a no-knead recipe that does not require salt at all for the rising process. Not only that, but it’s super easy to make. No kneading or punching or poking or any other of the things you need to worry about if you’ve ever tried to make bread using traditional methods.

If you’ve never tried to make bread, you totally should! If all goes well, you’ll end up with a bread with a very crispy crust that’s much nicer than any bread you can buy in a bag from a grocery store. There’s very little effort involved on your part and I think that your chances of succeeding on your first try are pretty high. However, things can go wrong at the different stages which could lead you to baking a less than perfect bread. With all types of breadmaking, I think it’s fair to accept that you might not get it right on your first try. But don’t worry too much, because even if you don’t get a good loaf, you’ll still be able to use the remaining dough to make pizza or other bread-y things that are less fussy than bread.

The dough recipe makes a large batch which yields four small loaves of bread. You can easily halve this recipe on your first try. To make your life easier, make the dough a day before you want to bake the bread. On baking day, it’ll take about three and a half hours before you’ll be able to have your first bite.

Update: Find a revised version of bread-making in this post from Dec. 4th, 2014.

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