For the last few weeks I have been preparing myself for a Pizza Contest being held at our yoga center. The 1st prize was nice, worth $500 – the entry fee for one of our yoga retreats. And in this economy… that’s a HUGE prize.
There were a few rules we needed to stick by:
- The crust needed to be wheat-free. Spelt flour was allowed.
- If using cheese, it needed to be organic and rennet-free. Vegan cheeses were allowed.
- If baking the pizza at home, to make sure nothing had been exposed to any meat-products ever.
Easy enough, right?? NOT!!! Not when you are a challenged pizza dough maker. I am a pizza fan, but as you may have seen around this blog, when I make pizza at home, I make it on alternative crusts, namely flatbreads and pita bread. But I gave myself the opportunity to build the perfect wheat-free crust – crispy on the outside, with certain chew on the inside. Without the need of stand mixers to help me knead…
That’s why I turned my attention to no-knead doughs… I tried several recipes with NO SUCCESS!! I tried a recipe from foodwishes.com and a recipe from Paula Deen using the food processor to knead the dough instead of doing it by hand. I’ll be honest, the foodwishes one was more successful, but not where I wanted it to be.
So I moved my attention to at least try out the toppings recipes – if at least I could get the flavors combinations on point, I knew that the crust issue at some point would be resolved. I tried out a few tried and true recipes, and then experimented a few of my own. These were my possible entries into the contest:
A take on the pizza Rosa from Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix Arizona. People all over brag about how good these pizzas are. People make lines for them… and believe me I will go there if I ever visit Phoenix…
An eggplant pizza I had while in Montevideo, Uruguay – seasoned eggplant on a perfect crust, no cheese, no sauce.
A white pizza using garlic olive oil, topped with cheese and a few scallions – I got my inspiration from foodwishes.com and I thought it would be easy enough to try it out on the grill, instead of in the oven. I thought it would give me some edge…
Unfortunately, my crust experiment was a BUST and I decided to participate in the contest as a reporter for all of you. I was not going to put my name on something that I wasn’t completely proud of. I learned this from my Top Chef /Hell’s Kitchen/Kitchen Nightmares/Iron Chef /Next Food Network Star watching experience… And it was a shame because at least 4 people, some contestants among them, told me they were really looking forward to my pizzas and that they were even thinking I was a surefire winner if I was participating… apparently my reputation precedes me.
Fortunately, my fellow yoga people did have more success with wheat-free crusts than I did, (or they just have different standards) Anyhow, I want to share with you some of the contest entries and winners:
Chorizo Pizza by Yazmín Cabrera
This was a true trip back memory lane when we used to eat pizzas with real chorizos. The oily grease on the bottom of the crust was exactly as the judges remembered it. The crust is filled with cheese too…
Stuffed Pizza by Manolo Velazquez
With two crusts filled with delicious goodness – broccoli, scallions, cauliflower, mushrooms… and topped with tomatoes, peppers and lots of cheese. The judges loved it!!!
Mediterranean Pizza by Mili Ortiz
Even though the crust felt apart when we cut into it, the flavors impressed the judges – onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, black olives…
Tofu Pizza by Emma Lebrón, who is also Manolo’s mom
This was a true tofu-lovers pizza – using fried tofu, tofu pups, tomatoes and other pizza favorites.
I think it even has potatoes on it.
Some notable and interesting mentions…
Cheese Pizza on Rice Flour crust by Angie Cruz
This one was very delicious, but it did not win for being too simple… a hint for next year’s contest, Angie!!!
The Everything Pizza by Carmen Gonzalez
The judges said this felt like a whole meal on top of a pizza crust. It was a mile-high piled with ingredients such as a border made from tofu dogs, black and red kidney beans puree.
Now you be the judge… would you like to try some of these winning recipes?? Do you think I stood a chance with any of my planned flavors of pizza?? Which ones do you prefer?? Tell me all about it…
Stay tuned for some of the recipes…
I would like to thank the yoga center, Centro Cultural Yoga Devanand, for allowing me to take pictures and report on this Pizza Contest. If you live in Puerto Rico, Miami or NYC and you would like more information about the Devanand Yoga Center, please email me at karmafreecooking[at]yahoo[dot]com.