An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook


Cauliflower Pizza Crust

The cauliflower love continues, and in a new form. I mentioned in a previous post about a particular love affair with cauliflower and frequent roasting. So I began to research new methods of cooking this lovely cruciferous treat. You can shred it to look like rice, and make fried 'rice'. There are endless spicy Indian recipes. Potatoes can be substituted with cauliflower to make 'mashed cauliflower'. Then cauliflower pizza crust made an appearance on the screen. You simply shred, steam, and mix with a few binding agents...and a new form is born.

As my best friends and family know, pizza is my go-to food. Whenever I am visiting with S or A, my first suggestion of dining experiences is always pizza. In college when S would be out of town, for some reason, A and I always made these epic pizzas. My mom was just in town a few weeks ago, and we ate pizza at the very least once a day. There are so many varieties out there, the pizza journey is endless...thank goodness.

I grew up eating thick crust pizza. There was a place called Trotta's pizza in my home town that we used to frequent. Each slice probably weighed 1/2 pound. They were like the Cinnabon of pizza; thick doughy crust slathered in marinara and a heavy-handed portion of mozzarella and provolone. Two slices equaled nap time.

Then I moved to Colorado, where Beau Jo's pizza resides. This was my first experience of whole wheat crust. This too was a thick-crusted pizza. You walk in, and are enveloped with the warmth of the pizza oven and the happiness of everyone eating pizza. The special part about this pizza was that each table has a bottle of honey, with the suggestion to drizzle it over your crust as a sort of sweet finish to your last bite of the pizza. Brilliant.

Shredded cauliflower!

Then I moved to Seattle, where the pizza is of the thinner variety. Dozens of wood-fired pizza joints around town. Via Tribunali has the best wood-fired pizza topped with little disks of salami that pop into saucer shapes after the rendezvous with 500+ degree flames. I could go on and on and on with the love. But instead I will lead up back to the original topic of cauliflower pizza: shredded cauliflower disguised as pizza crust. Looks like my doughy adventures have a new twist.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Yields 1 medium pizza

There are several cauliflower pizza crust recipes floated around these days. This version is my third attempt, and so far the best one. Some recipes include nutritional yeast, or more cheese, different herbs, and cooking times. Let the experiments begin!

1/2 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup quattro formaggio cheese blend
Salt and pepper to taste

Place cauliflower pieces through the feeding tube of the food processor using the grating blade; pulse until all the cauliflower is shredded. (You can also grate the cauliflower using a box grater.) The cauliflower should look like a cross between white rice and shredded white cheese, as pictured above.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place shredded cauliflower in a steamer; steam until softened, about 15 minutes. Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl and chill in refrigerator for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times.

Mix egg, parsley, garlic, cheese, salt, and pepper into the chilled cauliflower until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture onto a parchment or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Shape the mixture into a pizza shape (square or oval) using your hands. Press down firmly so all the ingredients are holding together. Bake until slightly cooked and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover with sauce, toppings, and cheese. Bake until cheese is lightly browned, about 15 more minutes.


Restaurant-Style Hash Browns

Back in the day when I worked at a neighborhood bar and grill, I was the front of the house head brunch person. Although it was somewhat painful to get up early on the weekend, the hash browns and endless coffee pulled me out of bed. I would walk up the giant incline leading to the little restaurant-in-a-house perched atop the hill. I was a dyed-black haired vegetarian back then. So hash browns with sauteed vegetables and pepper jack cheese were my weekend treat. I knew the cook well, so I got giant servings. I can't quite imagine consuming those portions now. But they sure were delicious.

My day consisting of walking in a continuous huge circle. It was always in the same direction too. It always seemed I should do a reverse loop to balance out the clock-wise path. But that would have disrupted everyone else's path too. We had a system to follow.

As I would take my hundredth lap of the day, a peripheral glimpse of the 'ladle' would occur. It would be methodically dunked into the infamous tin, filled with a butter and oil mixture and then drizzled over the griddle filled with potatoes. It was an aspect of the crispy potato request I tried to ignore. For years I have shelved that nagging reason why restaurant potatoes are so much better than home version.

So a few weeks ago I gathered the courage to use butter and oil ad libitum with my hash browns to observe the tipping point of what is necessary for restaurant-level. It proved to be quite rewarding (and filling). So next time you don't feel like waiting in the nail biting, bloodshot-eyed line at your favorite brunch spot, give the home version a whirl. You may be starting your own weekend restaurant.

Restaurant-Style Hash Browns
Yields 2 -3 servings

This is the closest I have gotten to restaurant quality hash browns. The key is to embrace the butter and oil. This is what makes the restaurant hash browns so good. Being patient is also a key factor. This is a 'weekend recipe', if you will. By that I mean it is a little heavy and only suggested to be made occasionally. Serve alongside your favorite omelet.

8 small potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, or more to taste (optional)

Shred potatoes using the shredding blade in a food processor or manually with a box grater. Place shredded potatoes on top of a clean kitchen towel. Gather the towel around the potatoes so you are holding it in such a way that you can wring out the water. Continually twist the towel tightly until as much water is squeezed out as possible. When you open the towel, the potatoes should look significantly drier.

Preheat broiler of your oven.

Melt butter in a cast iron or oven-proof skillet over medium heat; add garlic and potatoes. Season with salt. Press down on potatoes with a spatula so the bottom layer browns; stir occasionally to evenly cook all the potatoes. Add olive oil to the potatoes, about 1/2 tablespoon at a time, to keep them from burning. Keep pressing and stirring for 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes seem done. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Place the skillet in the preheated oven. Broil until cheese is brown and crispy.