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Pineapple + Ham Pizza - Gluten Free Without Fuss

Pineapple + Ham Pizza - Gluten Free Without Fuss

What did you do this weekend? We were blessed with some great weather perfect for rambling in the city and outdoors. It was too good to spend much time in the kitchen, so it was a weekend for quickly made good meals, including this gluten free pizza creation!

There is something about pizza that is very more-ish. It is by far one of the easiest ways to put a smile on someone's face regardless of age. I brings out the child in people and the feeling of contentment that spreads like a glow within. It is a true equalizer amongst all; a channel to everyone's heart without a fail and largely, because it is so so so affordable.

Imagine then those who, like me, cannot eat wheat. It feels like your favorite toy has been taken away from you and you'll never see it again. Aye! Not foie gras, not oysters, to a gluten free/wheat free person, the pizza can become in the moment, the epitome of gastronomy, simply because of its forbidden-ness. Yet, what if It needn't be so?

With a little sorcery of gluten free flours, psyllium, yeast and determination, this crust comes out akin to a Neopolitan style pizza; very thin and crisp, yet chewy and satisfying wholesome. It is easily to cut in slices and easier still to hold and enjoy just like a pizza slice. I made a pizza that was divine retribution in of itself!

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5 things to do in Rome ..... in Three Hours....

Ok, before you judge.. No, I did not plan to be there for such a short time.. As it was, Rome happened to be in transit, getting from Italy to Spain.


On a foggy Umbrian morning, I bid a super early morning goodbye to my lovely friends, Juls, Regula and Simone as they went back home to Tuscany, Belgium and Holland; Nando graciously made breakfast for all us departees; and, was bid safe travels by Rolando (our Umbrian host of Casale degli Ulivi - story for another post, who reiterated, I would not have as good a time in Spain.. LOL) and Karin at Perugia train station..

(I know, I am rambling, I am barely up yet. My artistic excuse is that I am trying to recreate the brain fogginess of that morning.... So bear with me... If not, just look at the photos..)

After a minor on-board tribulation with a female Italian train conductor, an unwarranted euro 30 fine, I landed in Roma Termini, a bit worse for the wear and couple of hours to spare to be awe-inspired by this capital of Christianity...Which, meant, I steered clear away from churches and went for the rest of the history! ;-)

So, here is my list of 5 best things you can do, when in Rome on a short time leash -


1. First things first: Get a map
If you like the paper kind, get one that has reasonable street detail. If your smart phone works, you are set. I was lucky to have one handed to me, when standing in line for luggage storage at the Termini. I was kindly passed down a much dog-eared map of the city, by two German college girls, who, had just spent a week in the city (yes, the irony is NOT lost on me..) and some excellent suggestions on what's best to see...


2. Walk, walk, walk
Don't take the metro, or the bus tour. Get out of the transit station and walk around, even if aimlessly. This is true of any city but when you have little time, it is the best way to chance upon little alleys, major sights and in general (like the Santa Maria Maggiore here), the local life.

ruins across colosseum

3. Head to the Colosseo
You may be recommended Piazza de Spagna, as the place to see, the bustling heart of the city center. I think, it's far better use of time to see the Colosseo. As was told to me, there is a Piazza in every city, but there is indeed a Colosseo only in Rome! And, I cannot concur more. The structure is truly awe inspiring. I did not have time to do an interior tour but walking around the massive structure and surrounding buildings was sufficiently breathtaking. To have built such a massive structure at that time is indeed impressive!

Colosseum Gate

4. Get a coffee on the side streets
And chat up with whoever is sitting by you, tourist or local. They are great resources of non-touristy food joints! Around the streets of the Colosseum, away from the tourist trap, are some very nice, outdoor cafes to get a cuppa and catch a quick conversation

pizza and wine

5. Have a long lunch of Roman pizza
You probably have been walking around for a bit, at this point. Sit down, give your feet a rest, get a glass of wine! One of the tourists in a cafe recommended a nice pizzeria in the network of streets behind the Colosseo (whose name, I just cannot recall now) that was just perfect my leisurely sojourn with the infamous Roman pizza; thin crusted, delicate and melts in your mouth.. Ooh!!!!

Do not leave Rome without tasting this awesome creation... You cannot but leave happy after that meal. And, the good news is, it overrides the disappointment of not having more time in the city for long enough to get you to the next destination and the thrill of a new adventure to kick in ;)

Of Springy thoughts...and Breakfast Pizza

Butternut Squash Pizza

Spring is in the air and so is snow... I know, wacky as it is.. it's true.

A few days back when I came back from Orlando, I thought I would bring the warmth back with me. But, poor little me and my mere 125 pounds could make nary a dent on the chill in the North East.

Yet, Spring is valiantly trying to make herself felt. The cherry trees are defiantly blooming despite the cold and the vagrant weather. Amidst all this confusion, and I must say, my gloom at not really being able to make NYC as sunny sweet as Florida, it's just easier to just chill and go with the flow...swing between the hot and cold...

Butternut Squash Pizza sliced

This pizza is heartfelt. It is all about a salute to finding the balance between indulgence and healthy and along the making it as made from scratch as possible. That is aside from me actually planting, farming and all that....

This pizza is really an ode to one of my favorite winter vegetables, Butternut Squash. There are so many great ways to eat it and roasting is just the simplest and easily best preparation. It does not need much more than a touch of salt to bring out the best in its flavor.

Instead of the standard tomato base, I made a puree of roasted butternut squash spiced with chopped chipotles in adobo sauce and smoked paprika. The sweetness of the Winter squash (enhanced by roasting) is balanced nicely by the heat of the chillies and full bodied flavor of the paprika.

Banana Ice Cream1

An homemade thin crust pizza topped with more chopped roasted squash, red onions, Bellavitano cheese and quail eggs is just the perfect, guiltless Sunday breakfast or even dinner, I say!

And, then rounding off with an easy, one ingredient, two step ice cream is my way of making Spring welcome!

Chipotle Butternut Squash Thin Crust Pizza

Butternut Squash Pizza

Standard Pizza dough (below), spiced with 1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 small butter nut squash
1 small red onion, julienned
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, deseeded and chopped fine
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp adobo sauce
other vegetables per your choice
3-4 quail eggs or other eggs
3 T of grated fresh Bellavitano cheese (it is a short aged cow's milk cheese that has a fruity parmesan flavor and yet creamy. also pairs beautifully with bold red wines)
salt to taste

The idea of using aged cheese is that a little goes a long way in bringing flavor.

Slice the squash into two halves. Remove the seeds of the squash. Retain one half as is. Peel and dice the other into half inch cubes. Wrap the other half in foil. Lightly toss the diced squash in very little oil and a touch of salt. Arrange on a sheet. Place the wrapped half as well on it. Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes.

Let the squash cool for a bit. Unwrap the foiled half and scoop out the flesh. Mash well. Mix in the paprika, adobo sauce, chipotle and mash together with the cooked squash. Season as needed.

Increase the oven temperature to 500 F. Roll the dough out as thin as you can. Lightly brush with oil. Spread the squash puree over the dough. Distribute the roasted, diced squash, onions and cheese over the pizza. Crack the eggs and distribute them around.

Bake for 7-8 minutes until lightly browning on the edges. Remove to board, slice and enjoy!

Pizza Dough

1 -1/4 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water + a bit more, if needed
1 T olive oil

Stir together the dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Knead the dough for a minute or two until it forms a smooth, tacky dough. Lightly oil the bowl, put the dough back in, turn it over to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place till it doubles in size.

When the dough has risen, on a floured surface gently degas using the balls of the your palms. Fold the dough into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes. The dough will be pretty elastic so you can stretch it bit and fit into a ball shape. It will retain shape once formed.

After about another half hour, the dough will be ready to be rolled out into a thin pizza base.

{VOTING OPEN} Pizza around the world: Turkish Pide and a Poached Pear Pizza

Na'Na Caramelised Onion & Olive Pide With Feta 1

Recently, I had reasons to do some research on the ubiquitous Pizza. I was amazed to find how ancient the concept of pizza is!! The common history of the birth of the pizza, as a popular dish, is a romantic story of how a poor man's meal became the comfort food of the high and mighty and the prosperous and has since become a truly democratic dish!

What I also discovered in my scouring was that the term "pizza" has been prevalent as early as 997 A.D but wasn't even given the status of being an edible dish until much later. It was initially a baker's tool used to verify oven temperature!!

But, once the concept of the pizza as a bread base topped with sauce, took off, it spread far and wide across many many cultures. The breadth and reach of the far flung Roman and the Ottoman empires must surely have aided the pizza's adoption into people's homes and hearts.

Na'Na Caramelised Onion

Each culture adopted the dish to be it's own, rendering it with distinctive flavors of the region as also shapes and customs of eating it. Today's practice of dotting the pizza with cheese began in 1889, as a tribute to the Queen consort of Italy. The Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito created the "Pizza Margherita" garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil, to represent the colors of the Italian flag. (citation: wikipedia)

Since then, cheese has become an integral part of the pizza's concept itself although some form of pizza continue to exist sans cheese even today, such as the Lahma bi Ajeen, from Lebanon. Middle Eastern food has always held a special appeal to me. Perhaps, it's the invitation of the spices, the subtle aromas of their intensely flavorful dishes. The mystery behind how something that looks so simple can blow your taste buds off in sheer ecstasy...

Na'Na Caramelised Onion & Olive Pide

I can wax eloquent for very long on the subject but what I am trying to say here is that borrowing a leaf from that cuisine, today, I present you the Turkish pizza called Pide.

The boat shaped beauty just stopped me in my browsing tracks. It's elegance belied the humble origins of the pizza.The deep earthy tones of the base, the golden brown hues that look a lot like that of bread and the simplicity of it's toppings spoke to me and I instantly bookmarked it.

Olive Tapenade

However, it wasn't until the PFB challenge, did I get the opportunity to revisit it and put my spin on it. Here, I present a

Pide with Na'Na (mint) caramelised Onions and Olive Tapenade.

Every meal in our house ends on a sweet note. Extending the pizza theme of the meal, I made individual pies with chocolate sauce topped with poached pears, orange candied walnuts all brushed with a sweet glaze of orange syrup.

Pear (cranberry poached) and Chocolate Pizza With Orange Candied Walnuts

This post is my official entry for the Round 5 challenge of the Project Food Blog

contest. Voting is now open until Oct 21 6pm. I do hope you like this post enough to honor me with your vote here. Thank you much!

a'Na, Caramelised Onion and Olive Pide

(recipe adapted from  Mansurovs)

For the Dough:

(makes 2 individual pides and 2 individual dessert


1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 T Rapid Rise yeast

1/2 cup warm milk (110 F)

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 egg, beated

1-1/2 T olive oil

For the topping:

1 large white onion, julienned

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp all spice

2 tsp dried mint, Na'Na

salt, pepper and oil as needed

4 oz olives in oil, (weight with pitts)

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Feta crumbles (optional)

1 tomato, diced

1/2 egg, beaten for the egg wash

Sprinkle the yeast in the warm milk with the sugar and set aside for 5-7 mins until it becomes cloudy and starts to foam. Add salt, egg and oil and mix well. Add the flour and mix to form a dough. Knead the dough gently to make a soft, tacky dough that is not sticky.

Coat the bowl and the dough ball in oil, cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Divide the dough into 3 portions. Use two to make the pides and divide the third into two to make the individual desserts or one large sweet pizza.

Meanwhile, over slow heat saute the onions with garlic, brown sugar, dried mint and all spice until caramelised, about 35 minutes. Set aside. Grind the olives along with the oil into a smooth paste. Mix in about a teaspoon of fresh olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Keep the dough not in use covered. Ball each portion into an egg shape. Using your hands stretch the dough into a rough oval. Now, roll out the dough into a larger oval of 1/4 inch thickness. Spread the olive tapenade over the base leaving a 1/2 inch border. Top with half the onion mixture and sprinkle half of the diced tomatoes and cheese.

Fold over the edges of the dough over the topping, making a pointy end on both ends to form the boat shape. Brush the edges with egg wash and divide any remaining egg over the pides.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the bread is browned. Remove, slice horizontally and serve topped with crumbled feta.

Farm to Table: Soup and Flat Bread for a rainy day

Leek, Potato and Fennel soup

August 26, 2010: This post was featured on FoodBuzz Top 9 today

It's been a wet couple of days in the North East. I had been away from my home and beloved kitchen for five days and returning yesterday night I was just overcome with relief and happiness. I don't know why.. I typically love travelling and have a constant itch for it. But, I suppose doing it every week is quite another story :) I just don't know how consultants do this packing-up-every-week-for-work thing!

I think what I missed most, is the comfort of my kitchen and home cooked food even it be a simple Poha that I toss up for myself. The restaurant where Mr. FSK was put up was very fine, indeed, but then there is nevertheless, too much of a fine thing. After a couple of butter soaked, French Chef-ed dinners, I was about all ready for good ol' rice and dal!

Heirloom Tomato, Zucchini  flatbread

Anyway, as you may have guessed, I haven't been knocking up much in the kitchen lately and I even have missed a couple of group postings lately..sighh.. So, today, I am posting about something that I had made before I left. As it happens, it seems perfect for the weather now...

Warm soup with fresh bread, I am craving now and perhaps I may just have to remake this Leek, Fennel and Potato Soup with Pancetta today! I love my carbs and for this soup I decided to go with a Zucchini and Heirloom Tomato Flatbread topped with raw cow's milk cheese. Ofcourse, in keeping with the Farm to Table theme, all of the produce, including the cheese came from my CSA! :)

Leek, Potato and Fennel soup and Zucchini Heirloom Tomato flatbread

Btw, I have an abundance of zucchini in my fridge. I have made the usual suspects with them - tarts, breads. I am sure there are more ways to enjoy this summer vegetable! I would really welcome any other recipe suggestions you have for them.

On that note, I wish you all a happy week ahead and I'll go, try to plough through my backlog of to-dos this week! :)

For more ideas on cooking fresh, seasonal produce, please click on the "Farm to Table Series" tab above.

Leek, Fennel and Potato Soup with Pancetta

1 leek, cleaned and sliced
1/4 cup fennel, sliced
1 clove of garlic minced
2 medium red potatoes
1-1/2 cup, chicken stock
2 oz pancetta, cubed
1/4 tsp paprika
salt, pepper and oil as needed

In a pan, saute the pancetta until the fat has rendered and the cubes are crispy. Reserve the cubes and leave the fat in the pan. To the hot fat, add the leeks, fennel and garlic and saute until soft. Add the potatoes and toss to coat with the leek and fat mixture. Add one cup of the stock, season and let cook until the potatoes are fully cooked.

Proces the mixture to a puree and return to the stove top. Add the remaining stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for five more minutes. Serve garnished with reserved fried pancetta and parmesan cheese.

Zucchini and Heirloom Tomato Flatbread

1/2 pizza dough
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 heirloom tomato, sliced
1 T spicy tomato chutney (I used a store bought one)
1/4 cup soft cheese (I used raw cow's milk cheese. Can substitute with fontina or smoked mozzarella)
salt and pepper as needed
Oil to saute the zucchini

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Lightly saute the zucchini and set aside. Roll out the dough to about 7 inches. Brush with olive oil. Spread the tomato chutney on the base, leaving a small 1/2 inch border. Arrange the sauteed zucchini around the base. Follow with a layer of tomato slices.

Bake for 5 minutes until the crust starts becoming golden. Since this is a really thin crust, it won't take long. So, keep an eye on it. Sprinkle the cheese over and return to the oven for a couple of minutes until the cheese has melted.

Cool on rack for a couple of minutes, slice and serve as is or with soup.

And, ofcourse I am sending this summery flat bread to Susan atYeastSpotting.

Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK