Comfort Food You Can Feel Comfortable With
When all the Holiday lights are turned off and the frantic hustle and bustle dies down, our chilly and dimly lit evenings could use something delicious to keep us satiated and satisfied. Believe it or not, during this health-crazed start to the year, pizza may be the answer. Cauliflower pizza, that is.
January, perhaps more than any other month of the year, calls for comfort food. While October through December seem to have the market cornered on all things rich and indulgent, given the onslaught of Holiday cheer, cold, gray and quiet January could use a little help. A month rich with resolutions, restrictions and post-Holiday-regret, needs a healthy dose of feel-good food.
While pizza certainly checks the 'comfort food box', I bet you didn't think it could make it onto the 'healthy' list, as well. But you see, when you substitute a traditional pizza crust for its cauliflower alternerative, you're ticking more boxes than you may have thought possible.
As opposed to a standard, white-flour pizza crust, which really offers very little nutritional value (albeit delicious), a cauliflower crust is low in carbohydrates and packed full of all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants this cruciferous vegetable has to offer. In fact, one serving of cauliflower contains over 75% of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C, not to mention lots of good fiber to aid in digestion. Pizza's starting to sound like a really good idea, right?
While many cauliflower crusts claim to be a healthy alternative to 'the real deal', they also seem to be packed full of more cheese than most standard delivery pizzas wear on top. Sure, they're gluten free, but 'healthy' may be a bit of a stretch.
This simple rendition goes easy on the cheese, without sacrificing flavor, and makes for a meal you'll feel really good about.
Just because it's January, doesn't mean you need to sip every meal through a straw - you can have your pizza, and eat it, too.
For the pizza crust:
For the toppings:
Set your oven to 400*F.
In a food processor, process the cauliflower into an even crumb. Once it looks a bit like quinoa and has a fine, granular texture, turn the machine off. Alternatively, you can use a hand-grater, if you don't own a food processor.
In a large bowl, combine the processed cauliflower, almond meal and cheese, and mix well. At this point, season it to taste with salt and pepper - remember, there's a fair amount of salt in the cheese, so season gradually.
Once you're happy with the level of seasoning, add in your eggs and mix well to combine.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the cake ring in the center of it. Now, scoop the cauliflower mixture into the ring and pat it out evenly. Try to give yourself a bit of a raised edge around the outside, by gently pushing the mixture ever-so-slightly up the sides of the ring. This will ensure that the egg stays on the pizza when you add it later.
Using a paper towel, blot any excess moisture from the pizza crust by pressing into it gently. Cauliflower contains a lot of water, and you want to get rid of some of it, before you bake it.
Remove the ring and bake the crust until golden around the edges, about 30 minutes.
While the crust bakes, add the olive oil to a pan, over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for one minute, then add the tomatoes and sauté until blistered and soft, about 5 minutes longer. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.
Top the baked crust with the cooked tomatoes and the remaining 2 tablspoons of cheese, then crack the egg into the center of the pizza.
Set the oven to broil and bake the pizza for a further 6 minutes or so, until the egg white is set, but the yolk is still runny.
Finally, top the pizza with the arugula, and drizzle it with a finishing touch of olive oil.
*Real Pecorino cheese is made from sheep's milk, which I find easier to digest than cow's milk. If lactose isn't a problem for you, you can by all means substitute Parmesan cheese here.
Because after the Holidays Die Down, you need little Moments of indulgence to look forward to
As I slowly emerge from the foggy-headed and bleary-eyed stupor that is the emotional hangover induced by the conclusion of 'the Holidays' and the jet-lag brought on by a nine hour time change, it dawns on me that we have made the leap into January and the beginnings of a new year. A year full of hope, possibilities, and second chances (or third, fourth and fifth chances, in some cases), is upon us, and the much anticipated, annual 'reset' that somehow makes January 1st rich with a brand of optimism that the end of the previous year could no longer sustain, has begun.
But let's be real, just for a second. All that well-meaning #newyearnewyou, #freshstart and #lookout2017 aside, the middle through the end of January can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster. And by a bit, I mean the whole damn amusment park - all six flags.
Though Thanksgiving and Christmas have us stressed out, running around and sneaking whiskey into coffee cups for those moments when family discussions turn from pies to politics (just me? I think not), the stress they induce is eclipsed by an undeniably welcome feeling of anticipation and excitement. No matter what you celebrate, the end of the year gives you something concrete to look forward to, and a finish line to cross.
And yes, the first few days of January find our hearts aflutter with excitement and determination, but come about the 5th of the month, those feelings are often followed by a thundering anti-climax, at which point we realize that the cold was only made warm by the glittering of twinkling ligths and the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby on the radio. (Actually, if I'm honest, for me, Christmas has always played to the tune of Wham's 'Last Christmas', and probably always will. Sorry, Bing.)
January can be a little bleak - especially when you've spent the last few months enjoying some of the best food the year has to offer, only to be met with a feeling of guilt about having eaten it and an abrupt (and decidedly liquid) shift toward all things 'detox.'
Given the extreme turnaround, it's easy to find oneself feeling equal parts hopeful and deflated.
So, particularly during these introductory weeks, it's important to recognize that just because Starbucks has gone back to its very ordinary white cup, devoid of snowflakes, hearts and cheer, doesn't mean you aren't allowed to find moments for indulgence and comfort, in everything from your cup of coffee to your choice of breakfast foods.
No, it's not Christmas, it's Tuesday. Sure, you may well have started your day with a juice promising eternal life and complete detoxification, but you can still end it with a cookie and a cocktail, without all being lost.
The tree may be down, the ornaments may be stowed, but the opportunity for atmosphere, merriment and enjoyment wasn't put away when Bing dropped the mic.
Light some candles, pour yourself a glass of wine, revisit less seasonally specific gems by Wham, and make yourself these chewy, lemon-y almond cookies. No, not because it's a Holiday tradition - just because you want a cookie. (And don't worry, they're gluten and dairy-free, so it's basically like having a juice, anyway.)
Set your oven to 350*F.
Combine the almond flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and mix well.
Add the agave, lemon zest and vanilla extract, and mix until a homogenous dough forms.
Using your fingers, pinch off bits of dough, about a tablespoon each, and roll them into balls between your palms.
Place the balls unto a lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Using the bottom of a glass, or the like, gently press the cookies into discs. Don't push too hard, as the cookies will split. Once you see that the edges start to splay a little, you're good. Mine were just over a 1/4-of-an-inch thick.
Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, until they're a very pale, golden color, then let them cool completely.
For the glaze, I combined about 1/2 a cup of powdered sugar with about a tablespoon of lemon juice, and mixed them well with a fork. You want a consistency that spreads, but doesn't run off the cookie. Start with a teaspoon of liquid and work your way up, until you're happy with it.
Spoon the glaze onto the cookies, sprinkle them with a little more zest, if you're feeling fancy, and let the glaze set.
These cookies are great right away, but if you keep them in an airtight container overnight, they take on this amazing, super chewy, consistency - almonst like baked marzipan.
Now sit back and enjoy - November and December can't possibly have the monopoly on treating yourself...and January can't be all about fiber. #theresalwaysfebruary