December 31, 2008

Sugar and Spice...

...and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of. 

And so are these great cookies I whipped up!  My friend and her little girl came over, and I swear neither of them could keep their hands off, or their mouths empty.  They're that good!  


These sugar cookies are beyond simple to make.  I believe they are going to become my go to cookie whenever I need something and I don't have the spare time to make up a batch of my beloved Basler Brunsli, after all, these take a fraction of the time!  

These have a wonderful mouth feel.  They are like little sweet clouds that just melt in your mouth.  They give easily, but they don't crumble.  And right in the centre, there is this wonderful chewy surprise.  What a joy to eat, and I can't wait until next cookie season when I can offer these up to everyone and watch people smile as they eat them.


Spiced Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 cups arrowroot starch

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cream together butter, sugar, spices and salt until smooth.  Add egg and vanilla, and beat/cream until fully incorporated.

Mix in xanthan gum.  Finally add arrowroot starch, in 1/2 cup increments.  Beat until a smooth dough forms.

Using a teaspoon place heaps of dough on cookie sheet.  Bake 10-13 minutes, remove from oven and cool.  

Makes 32 good sized cookies.

December 28, 2008

Leeks and Potatoes

After a long week, I am finally beating that cold that hit me Monday.  Why I tend to get sick at the Holiday's is a complete mystery, but with very few exceptions, every time I get really sick, it's Christmas.  Needless to say, I was not doing quite as much in the kitchen as I would have liked.  Thank goodness I wasn't hosting a Dinner!


Finally, yesterday afternoon, I finally felt well enough to make something, to stand in my tiny little kitchen and create something.  Nothing to crazy mind you.  

Just before the darn cold arrived, I had found several yummy looking items in the produce section of our local Planet Organic, and decided that it was time to put it to good use.  Originally I was crazy enough to pull out leeks, potatoes, cabbage, kale, carrots, onions, mushrooms, garlic and green peppers to throw together a simple meal with few flavors.  Yes, I quickly saw the problem with the few flavors versus my multitude of goodies.  Therefore I decided to pick on item, and then choose a few things to go with it.  The Leeks were calling my name, and from there the potatoes and garlic were a given.  I dug around in my fridge for a moment to locate my homemade chicken stock, and a little bit of heavy cream.  As I was putting everything else way, I was hit by a last minute need to keep out an onion.  From this my new favorite soup (yes, a soup that I actually adore!) was born.


Potato and Leek Soup

If you want more servings, just increase this recipe as need be.  I think it would double, triple, or even sextuple (X6) very well!

1/2 small onion, chopped
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup chicken stock, or other mild flavored stock
3 medium potatoes, diced small *I used Yukon Gold
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In large sauce pot, heat butter and olive oil.  Saute onion, garlic and leeks until fragrant, and golden.  

Add chicken stock, and potatoes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Simmer until potatoes are soft.  Mash lightly, leaving most, and stir in cream.  Heat through, and serve.

Simple, yet amazingly delicious, and all that garlic actually isn't over powering!  Of course, if you don't like garlic, leave it out!

December 22, 2008

Chicken Noodle Soup

The world must be coming to an end, I'm putting up more than one post in a day.  Heck, that's more than I manage to put up most weeks!  What is the reason for this madness?  A good chunk of Nova Scotia is currently powerless, including my place of work.  Earliest ETA for power restoration, 11:30 tonight, and where I work is one of the lucky places.  Other area's are looking at an ETA of 11:30 TOMORROW night.  Yep, that's right, they're going powerless for two days.  This is what happens when Winter decides to rear her very ugly head, and blow in with hurricane strength winds, snow, and freezing rain.  Tree's have been downed, the landscape is white, and most of all, it's still way to windy out there for much to be happening at the airport.  I'm glad I'm not trying to travel today.  


The good thing here is, I have the day to myself.  The last time this happened, feels like a lifetime ago.  Really, it was just over a week ago, but today it's literally just me and my cats.  My roommate is at his parents, or fiance's, or somewhere.  Not too sure where, and me, I'm all alone in my apartment :)  It's a nice change.  The downside, apparently my body chose today to come down with a bit of a cold.  Here's to hoping that having a restful day will mean that when I get up to head in for an absolutely crazy day at work tomorrow, I'm all better.  Wishful thinking?  Perhaps, but it won't stop me.

So while I wish I was baking and concocting some elaborate meal, I've been vegetating on the couch watching Martha Stewart and snuggling with my kitties.  Though I did stand in the kitchen long enough to whip up a delicious and simple chicken noodle soup.  Within half an hour I had a big bowl of steaming, nutrient stuffed soup sitting in front of me, making my nose run from the warmth.  Now if that doesn't conjure images of sexiness, I don't know what does!  As long as you have stock, pasta and greens (which you could leave out very easily if you either don't have or really don't like), and enough energy to stand for 30 minutes, you too can enjoy some soup.  And on a day like today, even if I wasn't sick, I think I'd have been enjoying a big bowl anyway.


Express Chicken Noodle Soup

3/4 cup rice macaroni, uncooked
2 cups chicken stock, homemade or store-bought
2-3 cups sliced greens of your choice

Cook macaroni in salted-like-the-sea water until nearly al dente.  Drain.

Return to pot with stock and greens.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until pasta are cooked to desired tenderness.

Spoon into a big bowl, and and enjoy the healing properties that can only come from chicken noodle soup.

Basler Brunsli

If there is one thing I love it is a recipe that is naturally gluten-free.  The next best thing?  One that is so easy to convert and make work that even the most novice of us can do it.  These Basler Brunsli would fall into the second category.  In case you are wondering what in Heaven's name is or are Basler Brunsli, allow me to enlighten you.  They are, simply put, a chocolate almond cookie.  But they are better than just something simple, they are delicious.  I find that the thick, rustic texture of them instantly makes me think of my Oma, and her wonderful meals she used to make for us.  You know, those ones that seem too simple and plain to be good, but really are the ones you remember forever.  While Oma never made us any Basler Brunsli, at least not that I can remember, I can easily picture her plunking a plate in front of us and telling us to eat.


I have my new favorite treat, and it is quickly becoming my perfect Christmas cookie.  At least until I manage to find myself a Lebkucken recipe that I can easily convert and will taste exactly like the ones I adore (which may well never happen).  These little gems are chewy and thick with a heavy bite.  I find that your tooth sinks in, and then for a moment it almost feels as though you'll get stuck, reminiscent of toffee!  Right after it gives the rest of the way and you have this wonderful pure chocolate taste.  

I found the recipe I worked from at Nicky's site delicious:days and all I have to say is even though I have never met her, nor her friend (Maike), and most particularly not Maike's Oma, I love them all. [see here for the post]  I have not placed a link back to her friend's post as it is in German and I do not know how many of you read German, though I'm sure it could be great fun to try for those of you unfamiliar with the language :)  Due to the fact that I obtained the recipe in weights, and my tendency to cook/bake in both North American and European measurements, I never converted it to cups.  Hopefully one day I will, and if not, perhaps someone else will and would be so kind as to share it with us all!

Unlike the Nicky's and Maike's recipes I did not use Kirsch.  I have only started building up a mini bar (read I think I have two or three items), and therefore do not have any.  To add to the richness of the chocolate I added some vanilla, which highlighted and warmed the chocolate tones - trust me, I made it both with and without, with is better!  This way, these cookies are also suitable for those of you who do not consume alcohol, gluten, or grains of any form.  Thus they make a great addition to your cookie tray for special diets.  I hope they are as well received by you and yours as they were by me and my co-workers!


Basler Brunsli

150 g dark chocolate
300 g almond meal
75 g unsweetened cocoa powder
200 g sugar
pinch of salt
50 g sorghum flour, extra for dusting
4 egg whites
1 Tbsp vanilla

Slowly melt chocolate in a double boiler, taking care not to burn.  When melted remove from heat, and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl combine almond meal, cocoa powder, cocoa powder, sugar and sorghum flour.  

Whisk/beat egg whites until stiff.  Fold egg whites, melted chocolate and vanilla into almond mixture.  The dough is stiff, it might take a little bit of elbow grease.

Divide into two disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for one or more hours in fridge.  If making dough in advance, you can freeze, and remove to fridge the day before you wish to bake them.

Preheat the oven to 425 F, roll dough out, sprinkling generously and often with sorghum, until between 0.5 and 1 cm thick.  I like mine a little thicker and therefore chewier.  Cut out with a rounded cookie cutter, or in pieces with a knife.  They are a slightly more rustic cookie, so they don't have to look perfect.

Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake 5-7 minutes, until crisp on the outside, and chewy in the middle.  Of course if you are aiming for a crisper cookie, cook longer if needed.

Cool and store in an air tight container.  Watch them disappear.

December 17, 2008

Rice Pudding

In spite of our spectacular snow storm in November, here in Nova Scotia we've been flirting with the continued presence of Fall trying to hold onto every last minute of warmth. I for one have been hoping that for some reason Winter will choose to play shy and not make an appearance this year. Every year I have this same hope, the same dream. I imagine Winter turning into a lovely Summer. I picutre myself able to wander the city, wearing tanktops and my Birks. And just when I let myself truly think that maybe this Winter will be a good one, it goes and rears it's ugly head. For example, at 7 this morning it was -1 C, and we were dropping to our high of the day at -7 C. Our high was lower than our early morning temperature. Am I the only other person who sees a problem with this? In case I haven't already mentioned this, please allow me to do so again - I hate Winter!


What is a girl to do? I can't hide away in a nice warm bed for about 5 months (and that's not really much of an exaggeration, maybe an extra week or two has been added). Nor can I afford to become a snow bird, at least not until I hit retirement age. I'm trying to make the best of things, I have managed to make myself a lovely Advent wreath, and I've been baking up a storm (more of those to come). But none of that warms my soul. But there is one thing, one dish that can do that. It's creamy, and sweet with lovely hints of vanilla. Why, I'm talking about rice pudding of course! Such a simple treat, yet so satisfying. It's one of those great treats you can enjoy hot or cold, for breakfast or dessert. And best of all, it involves next to no work! Mix it all in a pot, let it simmer, and eat. What more could I ask for?

There are surely a million different rice pudding recipes out there. I honeslty don't know if there is another one like mine, the recipe I orginally used was from Martha Stewart, but I left out large parts, and change several quantities. All it contains is rice, milk, sugar and vanilla. Beyond that, it's all mine. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have, and that it brings a little bit of warmth to your Winter.


Rice Pudding


4 cups milk

1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup short grain rice

1 vanilla bean

pinch of salt


Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pot. Over low heat bring to a simmer and let gently bubble away until most of the liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender. Since I never set the burner to more than low, it took about an hour in total. But if you want to use a slightly higher heat (no more than medium-low) cooking time will be decreased some.


Serve hot or cold and enjoy.

December 16, 2008

I'm not dead, I promise...

...but my camera is currently MIA.  Here's to hoping I locate it quickly and then can start posting again.  Keep yours eye's peeled for rice pudding, macaroni and cheese, two more cookie recipes, and hopefully many more!

Catch you all again soon.

December 10, 2008

Creamy Cashew Rice with Vegetables

I have no story to go with this dish.  You see, there was no inspiration, in reality this was a dish of desperation.  I failed to do a proper grocery run this past weekend, and therefore the pickings are going to get very slim before Sunday rolls around.  Frankly I have images of me eating nothing but plain rice for a day or two...and I have to say, I really hope that does not come to pass.


In my cupboard, when I went looking today, I found rice and cashews, in the fridge onions, carrots and a pint of grape tomatoes, and finally in the freezer I found the ends of a bag of frozen peas.  This is pretty much what I have to work with for the remainder of the week - do not expect any great recipes after today until I've been shopping!  But for something that was hobbled together, I have to say, it might just be a new favorite budget friendly meal. To make it even better, it took me no more than 30 minutes to prepare, cook, and serve.  Who can complain about that?



Creamy Cashew Rice with Vegetables

1 cup arborio rice
3 cups stock
1/2 cup plain cashews
1 carrot
1 onion
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in quarters
coconut oil, or oil of your choice
sprinkle of cheese, optional

In a medium sauce pan bring the stock to a boil.  Add rice and cashews, reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, slice onion and carrot.  Heat some oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  When hot add onion and carrot and cook until starting to soften.  Add the peas, and cook stirring until everything is cooked through.  Finally add the tomatoes, reduce heat to low, and leave until rice is ready - giving the occasional stir.

When rice has absorbed the stock, remove from heat and give it a good stir to make sure the cashews are well mixed in.

Serve rice with vegetables over top.  Make 3-4 servings, depending on size.

December 8, 2008

Veggie Quinoa

One of my favorite discoveries from just before going gluten free is quinoa - as an example of it's versatility, don't forget about my Quinoa Muffins. Let me tell you, I'm thrilled that it's one of those foods I didn't have to say good bye to. A little nutty, and with a wonderful bite, it makes a brilliant rice alternative. High in protein and fibre, I just feel healthy and well cared for when I eat it.

When I have a long day, I know I'm going to want something filling, hearty and healthy to eat. And if I'm needing to bring both lunch and supper with me, I really don't want to spend too much extra time preparing it all. Quinoa is the perfect food for this reason. And really, through in some great flavors, a few veggies, and you've got a great meal with very little effort.


Veggie Quinoa

In your rice cooker place 1 scoop of quinoa, and add recommend amount of water. If you don't have a rice cooker, use approx 3/4 cup to a cup of quinoa with an equivalent volume of water.

To quinoa add:
1 diced carrot
1 scoop frozen peas
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
basil to taste
pinch of salt and pepper

Turn on rice cooker and let it work it's magic. Alternatively, bring to boil on stove, reduce to a simmer and cook until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked.

If desired, drizzle a little olive oil when done, and serve or package for lunch.

December 7, 2008

Veggie Stock

I promised a stock recipe, and I have finally delivered.  Sorry for the absence, however I have been rather busy with three jobs.  Here's to hoping things start to settle back down soon!

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Considering that the colder months of the year have arrived, soups and stews are going to be making appearances on many a supper table.  The foundation for many a good warm up supper is a hearty stock.  Chicken stock, beef stock, seafood stock (don't expect to find that one on this blog) and of course veggie stock.  And really, what could be easier, healthy, or cheaper than to make your own veggie stock.  Well, if you eat veggies on a semi regular basis, and you can bring a pot of water to a boil, you can make veggie stock.  

The best thing about the recipe that I use, is that it's not much of a recipe, and you're using things you would normally just throw into your kitchen garbage or compost bin.  And all you need is a big pot, some water, and a large Ziploc bag. 

So, lets get started.


Vegetable Stock

The very first thing you need to do, is start keeping a large re-sealable bag in the freezer.  From now on, every time you prepare some veggies for your meals and snacks, place all the trimmings, peels, and guts into this bag.  When it's full, you're ready to make stock.

Empty frozen veggie bits into a stock pot.  Add: 1-2 bay leaves, 2-3 cloves of garlic (don't bother peeling), a pinch of salt, and around 10 whole pepper kernels. 

Next add 8 cups of water, and make note of where the water level is.  You'll need to know this for later.  I usually just stick a plastic spoon in, and note where it is on there.  Add another 4 cups of water.  Bring the whole mess to a simmer and leave uncovered.

When about 4 cups of water has evaporated - this is why you took note of the water level before - add another 4 cups in, and again simmer down to 8 cups in the pot.  Do this whole thing one more time.  It seems tedious, but it improves the flavour, which is all that one really wants.  Besides, it's not much work, and it makes the house smell like yummy stock.

After the final reduction, allow stock to cool, strain out solids, and pour into containers.  The used veggie trimmings can now be tossed in your compost or garbage, and the stock can be refrigerated and enjoyed.

November 26, 2008

Curried Butternut Soup

Have you ever bought something, and then forgotten you had it?  Well, it happens to me all the time, with the most recent items being sour cream and a butternut squash.  Sadly the sour cream didn't survive my bought of forgetfulness, but the squash did!  Thank goodness they last forever.  I don't even know what made me think of that squash, but for some reason I suddenly remembered it while at work today.  Actually, I also remembered the sour cream, and was going to use both, but it was kind of moldy.  Oops!

What to do with that squash though?  I really didn't want to roast it.  But then I thought that I could make a soup...heck, I could even use some of my most recently made stock (recipe still to come).  Looking around, I realized that I had several tins of coconut milk and some lovely red curry paste in my pantry.  A Thai inspired soup suddenly sprang to mind and off to work I went.  The heat from the curry adds such a lovely depth and warmth to the soup, and the coconut milk cools that heat down, and helps give the soup a luscious creamy texture.  

Give it a try, it's a great pick me up for a cold Fall or Winter day - we're back to Fall here, though I'm sure Winter will make another appearance soon enough.


Curried Butternut Squash Soup

15 mL olive oil
100 g onions, diced
500 g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
15 mL red curry paste 
250 mL veggie stock
1/2 tin coconut milk

In a large pot heat olive oil over med-high heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent.  Add curry paste and stir to coat onions.

Add cubed squash and veggie stock, bring to boil.  Once at a boil, reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender enough to be mashed with a fork.  Using a potato masher or hand blender, mash/puree squash.  Once uniform, stir in coconut milk and serve.

Makes enough for three.

November 25, 2008

Sauteed Kale

A while back I finally got up the guts to try Kale. I've always had a hard time with the greens, and other than spinach had yet to find one I liked. But thanks to this post by Gluten Free Girl, and the many glowing comments, I took the plunge. I can now say that Kale is my favorite of the greens. I have been eating crazy amounts of it, and plan to add it to my little patio garden next year. I love it with mashed potatoes and parsnip. So much that I went through a full bag of parsnips this way. Considering I live alone, that's quite the feat. But, as great as Kale tastes with those root vegetables, I wanted something different.


I ended up choosing to sautee it, which really isn't all that different...everyone seems to enjoy it this way. But really, I can't be creative all the time. But wow, it was delicious. Dead easy too. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I added my favorite flavor of all time, garlic, and some bacon fat for depth and meatiness. If you're vegetarian, or just don't like bacon, I think a lemon infused oil would make a great base, or any nutty oil...just make sure it can hold up to high heat before using it.

The garlic slices became crispy and flavorful, almost like little garlic chips mixed in. The bacon fat added flavor without overpowering the kale or garlic. As a result the Kale was still the star of the show, but it had to fantastically talented sidekicks.

With American Thanksgiving coming up - Thursday I believe, correct me if I'm wrong - I thought someone might want to try a slightly different side. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have been!



Sauteed Kale
(serves one)

1/3 bunch of organic kale *Any type of kale with do, but I used Lacinato
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp bacon fat

Stack kale leaves, and slice widthwise into 1 cm thick slices.

Heat fat over medium high.

Add kale and sautee for a minute or two. Until color is bright great and slices are more flexible.

Add garlic slices and continue to sautee about 4-5 minutes until everything is cooked and garlic is starting to turn golden.

November 23, 2008

Sugar Cookies

With the Holiday Season fast approaching I have decided that it is time for me to attempt some cookie recipes.  Really, I just want to try to figure out several kinds before tackling my beloved Lebkuchen.  If any one cookie needs to be successful, that would be the one.  Hopefully in my pursuit, I'll figure out a couple other yummy ones.  

That and I wanted to enter at least one cookie into Susan's (AKA Food Blogga) Holiday Cookie Round-Up (just click on the logo to go to the round-up).  


So, I figured I should start with something both easy for me to try to convert, and for gluten eaters to make for their gluten-free guests.  Sugar Cookies seemed like a promising cookie type, and one that should easily fit those two requirements.  So if you're a gluten eater, and you're planning making this for a non-gluten eater, feel free to replace the two starches with whatever starch you have on hand (ie./ cornstarch) and then you can easily just pick up some sorghum, or even ask to "borrow" a cup.  I'm sure your guest-to-be would be happy to help if it means they too can enjoy some cookies.


Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 cup sorghum flour

Cream butter with sugar and salt.  When well creamed add vanilla and egg, and combine thoroughly.  Slowly incorporate starches and flour until you have a smooth dough. 

Chill for 30 min or so, until stiffened.  Form dough into smallish balls (1.5 cm in diameter), and keep in fridge until ready to use.  

Heat oven to 375 F,  flatten dough ball on a cookie sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart, and bake for 10 minutes.  Cool and serve.

Makes 5 dozen cookies

November 22, 2008

Wicked Winter

As of this morning, there is no denying Winter has arrived in Nova Scotia.  Thirty centimeters (about 1 ft) of snow had fallen during the night.  Effectively covering the ground with a white blanket, and causing things to grind to a near halt.  We're Canadians, 30 cm slows us down, it doesn't stop us.  However, like most Haligonian's, I was snow bound for the morning, and spent part of my afternoon digging the car out from under all that snow.  


All this cold white stuff, that I'm anything but fond of, left me wanting something warm and satisfying for supper.  Really, when Winter hits there are only a few foods that will take off that chill.  One of the easiest and most satisfying is a great big bowl of Chili.  However, it is this specific desire for Chili is what lead me out into the snow to fight my way into a grocery store, and though the pathetically, poorly plowed roads.  Why couldn't I have wanted something that I had everything for already, as opposed to wanting Chili, when all I had for it was onions and garlic?  Thank goodness Sobey's is just around the corner.  

Lean ground beef was on sale this week, but due to the weather, there was no one around to put any out.  So I started looking at the alternatives, maybe some lower fat turkey, or mild pork.  I even looked over at the ground sausage.  Luckily, out of the corner of my eye I noticed some lovely local lamb for the same price.  Well, if I can have the extravagant purchase for the same cost, I'm going for it!  If you don't like lamb, use one of the other ground meats, any one of them will do.  After all, everything is about what will taste good to YOU (cheesy yes, but true).


After stocking up on the remaining necessary items, plus a few regular grocery items, I fought my way back home, and have determined that I truly need to move out of this frozen country.  Winter is not my friend.  Now, a little about my Chili before you go ahead and make it.  I like, no make that love, beans, therefore my Chili is a little heavier on the beans than most I've tried.  If you have a preferred type of bean, now is the time to use it.  I never use just plain old Kidney beans, so this time I used Chickpeas and Black Beans.  

Next, I've never been a big fan of tomato sauce, so while my Chili is tomato based, it is not as thick as your average Chili.  I find that the one I make, and love, is a more chunky style Chili.  Try, you'll like it.  Heck, my ex determined it was the best Chili she'd ever eaten, and I have yet to have a negative review on it - minus my friend who can not tolerate any beans what so ever in her Chili.


Chili

1 pound ground meat, use a lean meat, but not extra lean - you want some fat, it adds flavour
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
chili powder

In a large pot cook ground beef until no longer pink.  Do not drain out those lovely fat molecules!  To the cooked meat add all the veggies and cook, stirring constantly, one to two minutes.  Add chili powder - 2 Tbsp is a good starting point as it makes a very mild chili, if you like more heat, go from there.  I'm partial to the addition of about 4 Tbsp, but I like a fair amount of heat.

When chili powder has been mixed around and everything is coated with it, add the beans.  Give everything a nice stir before adding the diced tomatoes and bay leaves.  The Chili is going to look like there isn't enough moisture in it at this time, but don't worry, after it has cooked for a while, the veggies will let out some more water and you'll have plenty of liquid.  Bring to a simmer and leave on medium-low.  

After the pot has simmered away for about an hour, you can take it off and serve.  Corn bread would be a nice side, but the best is a slice of garlicky toast to soak of up the little bit of liquid that stays behind in your bowl.  

This makes a very large pot of Chili, enough for 6-8 servings.  

November 19, 2008

It's a curry kind of day.


Today was one of those horrible days.  You know the ones where it's not quite winter, not still fall, and has an air of the never ending spring rain?  Really, a fairly common kind of day out here in Nova Scotia, but I was raised an Ontario girl, and I just can't seem to adapt to this weather.  Seven years and I still cringe when it arrives.  It makes me wish I could hop on a plane and head somewhere warm, really, somewhere HOT would be even better.  Matters only become worse, when I realize that it was one year ago today that I came back from a lovely trip to Australia.  Why did I come back?

With the weather the way it is - slushy snow coming down horizontally - all I wanted was something warm and comforting for supper.  What I really wanted was a fantastic Thai Chicken and Noodle soup I ate a few years ago.  Sadly, I have no chicken, no noodles, and no stock in the house right now.  Heck, if I know that  The Italian Gourmet would have some available, and it was by some amazing chance gluten-free, I would have braved the crazy drivers and headed downtown to get some.  Alas, people can't drive, and I know it is not GF, so I headed straight home after work.

After I spent a few minutes staring blankly into my cupboards, I finally clued in that I had coconut milk and curry paste.  So, I satisfied my craving with a hearty bowl of "Thai" green curry.  It's most likely not actually authentic, but it's pretty darn good.  I don't yet make my own paste, I have a few recipes to try, I just haven't made it that far.  Feel free to make it if you can, or pick up a pre-made paste from the grocer.  You don't have to use Green Curry paste, you could use Red, or Yellow.  I like all of them, so I keep them in the freezer in a mini ice cube tray so I can use what I want, when I want. 


"Thai" Curry

1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp curry paste, more or less according to taste 
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
6 large mushrooms, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
1/2 bunch of kale, sliced
2 large handfuls of unsalted cashews

In a large sauce pan or wok, heat the oil over med-high heat.  When beginning to pop add the curry.  Stir until fragrant.  Add in all veggies except the kale.  Stir for a minute or two, to coat with paste. 

When veggies are evenly coated in the paste, add 1/2 the coconut milk.  Stir and bring to boil.  Leave to simmer a few minutes.  

Add kale, cashews and remaining coconut milk.  Bring back to a boil, and simmer until kale is wilted.  

Serve over a bed of rice to soak up some of the rich sauce.  

Makes enough for two main courses.

November 16, 2008

Gluten Free Bread with an unexpected twist

I was never a huge fan of bread.  I didn't like most sandwiches.  White bread always seemed to get soggy, and whole wheat was just too strong tasting.  I guess I was spoiled at a young age by living in Europe where they know how to make a good bread.  I'm afraid North Americans still have a little ways to go.  So, really, going gluten-free was almost like a blessing...suddenly I had a legitimate reason to not eat bread, beyond the "I don't like it" one.  No longer do people sound shocked that I'm passing bread up, ironically they just feel sorry for me.  


But,  just because I'm just not a fan, that doesn't mean I hate it.  I loved grilled cheese sandwiches and panini's.  Oh, the gooey cheese, and the crispy bread.  The layer of butter or oil on that lovely crunchy crust.  That I miss.  So finally, I began my search for a wonderful GF bread.  I'd heard all the horror stories of store bought, and I'm going to say, I agree.  None of that pre-packaged bread for me.  So I started searching through blogs (for some great GF bread baking tips, please seethe following advice from Shauna AKA Gluten Free Girl and Karina the Gluten Free Goddess. Surely someone has found a GREAT recipe.  I've tried a few different ones, and I still have a few I'm curious about.  But the other week, I found THE bread.  Here I go loving something else for Gluten-Free Mommy, but wow, it's good.  What is this bread I speak of, none other than her Whole Beer Bread.  And to top off having a great recipe, there are a load of bread backing tips.  Only problem is, here in Nova Scotia (and perhaps Canada in general) we don't have GF beer.  This means I can only get it when I go the States.  Which really, is only ever year or two.  I must limit my bread enjoyment it would seem.

Well, not if I get creative!  What can I use in place of GF beer.  I thought of using Ginger Beer, in particular the fantastic local one we have by Propeller, but that didn't seem quite right - I still might give it a try though.  Besides, I didn't have any in the house, and I wanted  bread now.  What else might work?  Root beer?  Eww, I hate that stuff.  Club Soda?  Might be a little flat tasting.  Same with mineral water.  Finally I realized that I have one type of soda/fizzy drink in the house right now anyway.  Coke.  Though I was worried it would make for a very sweet bread.  Take out some sugar, and away I went.  

Oh. My. God.  It's just as good as Natalie's.  Heck, I like this stuff better than any real bread I've ever tried, and that's saying a lot, considering I grew up on delicious European breads!  I can eat bread whenever I want now, and so can you if you don't have access to GF beer.


Coca Cola Bread

1/2 cup arameth flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 cup arrowroot
1 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup almond meal
3 tsp xanthan gum
2 Tbsp molasses
1 whole egg
3 egg whites
6 Tbsp melted butter, unsalted
1 can of Coke, at room temperature  *I used Coke Zero, though I'm sure you could also use any type of Coke, Pepsi or generic brand
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 warm water

In a small bowl combine the yeast, sugar and warm water.  Leave to sit and proof.

In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients.  If you have a stand mixer (I'm very jealous let me tell you!) combine dry ingredients in the mixer bowl.

In another bowl combine remaining ingredients, minus the can of coke.

Once the yeast is all bubbly and happy, add it to the dry ingredients and combine well.  Once well combined add in the molasses mixture and mix thoroughly.  Finally pour in the room temperature coke and mix until you have a dough the consistency of a thick, stiff cake batter.

Scoop batter into a greased loaf tin, cover with a damp dish cloth and let rise until about doubled in size.  I like to bring my oven to the lowest temperature setting and the leave the pan in for between 30-45 minutes.  The temperature and humidity can and will affect rising times.

Once doubled in size, bake at 350 F from 55 minutes until a deep golden brown and it sounds hollow when knocked on.  Let cool, slice and enjoy!

October 23, 2008

Liquid Pie

Last month I took a day trip down to the Valley and while I was there I picked up a pie pumpkin (also called a sugar pumpkin).  The thought process behind this purchase was something like this, "I've never bought a cooking pumpkin before...what does one do with one of these?  Hum, maybe I should get one to make homemade pie.   Yes, I like pie, this is a good idea."  Hence, I came home with a pie pumpkin.  

As I've already mentioned, I didn't even make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year.  Nope, I went crazy and made Butternut Squash Pie.  So, I came home from work today, and realized that my poor pumpkin was STILL sitting on my table.  Everything else from that trip had been long eaten, and well, it just looked lonely and neglected.  Time to finally do something.

What did I do?  I roasted it.  After peeling the darn thing, which may have involved several curse words, and a trip to the store for a new veggie peeler because the one in my kitchen was so dull that it wouldn't take of the peel!  Oh, but the time it was peeled I was ready to throw it out the window and watch it smash to the ground 6 stories below.  I didn't.  I persevered.  Next step, cutting it in half.  This was easy, things are looking up!  Next, removing the seeds and guts.  Not so easy.  More curse words, dropped spoons, and scared cats.  I'm not a quiet complainer, and the older one seems to think he's in trouble if I so much as raise my voice at ANYTHING.  Well, I eventually even succeeded at that.  So, I chopped up my pumpkin and roasted it at 450 F for about 40 min.

Now, what does one lady do with all that pumpkin?  I still haven't' figured out what one does with pumpkin besides make pie.  And I sure as heck wasn't sitting down to make a pie after all that drama.  So finally, I had a thought - shocker, me of all people, having a thought...hehe - and I whipped out my blender.  The rest, as they say, is history.  


Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 cup roasted pumpkin
1 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
1 Tbsp organic cane sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  Pour into 2 glasses and serve.

As always adjust spices and sweetness to your own personal liking.

October 19, 2008

Lemonade

I always feel sad at the passing off Summer.  And while I know that it officially ended almost a month ago now, Nova Scotia is known for it's lovely warm Fall.  Heck, they are normally better than the actual Summer was!  As a result, up until very recently I was still pretending that we were in the full throws of Summer.

However, today when I headed out, I not only grabbed my vest - which I sometimes need DURING the Summer months, but also a pair of gloves.  I suppose this means that even out here we are truly and well into the Autumnal months.  

So, while the trees turn many vibrant colors, and my cats stop wanting to play on the deck, in my apartment I'm going to continue to pretend it's Summer.  How?  By dreaming of hot days at town fairs, and sipping cool, fresh Lemonade!


Fresh Town Fair Style Lemonade

1 glass (~12 oz.) water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp organic cane sugar *
ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a martini shaker.  Shake until well combined and chilled.  Pour into glass, sip, and imagine those lovely Summer days.

* this makes a sweet lemonade.  If you are partial to a tart lemonade, decrease sugar to 1 Tbsp.  You could also try switching this with various sweeteners.  Find a taste that you like best.

October 18, 2008

Cheese + Butternut Squash = Deliciousness

Up until very recently I had considered all squash as a savory food.  In my mind, pumpkin and squash are two very different things!  Squash is such a great fall food.  It's abundant, inexpensive, and pretty darn good.  Don't tell my Mom I just said that!  Growing up I used to abhor squash.  I'd avoid it, I wouldn't eat it, I'd complain.  I suspect Mom still thinks that squash and I are the best of enemies.  That being said, I'm reformed!

See, a few weeks ago, I was poking around on various food sites, looking for a delicious sounding, yet fairly simple pumpkin pie recipe, when somehow I stumbled upon this recipe for Butternut Squash Pie.  It was just different enough, and simple enough that I simply HAD to try it.  I made two changes, one intentional, the other, not so intentional.  We'll talk about the one that leads to the actual reason behind this post!  

For some reason I thought that I needed to use the whole cooked squash.  And thought I was cheating when I gave up after scooping out around 4-5 cups.  Everything else was the same amount as in the recipe, but that doubling of squash, resulted in a bunch of left over filling.  And it was such a good filling, I needed to find a use for it.  Hence the cheese.


Butternut Squash Cheesecake

For the crust: 

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, made into a paste * I used my little coffee grinder for this
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup pecan meal
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 cup melted butter

Combine all ingredients and press into a spring form pan.


For the Filling:

275 g Marscapone cheese
275 g Ricotta cheese, press out water
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
2 eggs
2 cups butternut squash mixture (use the one from Canadian Living, or make the mistake I did, and get both a pie and cheesecake from the deal!)
1/4 cup almond meal

Cream together both cheese and sugar.  When fluffy, beat in eggs, one at a time.

Fold in butternut squash mixture and almond meal.  Taste to see if needs any more spices and add as necessary.

Gently pour over top of pecan crust and smooth.  Bake in middle of oven preheated to 350 F for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Allow this cheesecake to cool fully before eating.  As tempting as it is to dig in right away, the texture improves as it cools.  

Serve, preferably with some fresh whipped cream, or even a maple syrup reduction.

October 13, 2008

Happy Turkey Day - Canadian that is

This weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving.  The day we all come to a dead stop and fill ourselves with as much food as possible.  Every day of this long weekend, I've been able to smell Turkey's roasting.  They smell so damn good, and I'm not even a fan of Turkey.  While every other family was putting a giant Turkey on the family table, my family was putting a, tiny in comparison, roast chicken on ours.  Instead of mashed potatoes, we ate potato dumplings.  Sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, turnips, all those traditional veggies we replaced with pickled red cabbage and canned peas.   To me, that is a proper Thanksgiving dinner.

Well, to be honest, I never liked the red cabbage.  And I prefer frozen peas to canned peas.  I do love  sweet potatoes, carrots and green beans.  But Turkey?  No, I'm with my family on that one.  And potato dumplings.  That is the most important part of the meal.  So important, that when my Mother informed me that they were having mashed potatoes in stead, I was in shock.  For my supper, I had potato dumplings.  But, this post isn't really about Thanksgiving dinner.  Mine looked ugly, Roast Chicken, while delicious is nothing special to make.  Potato dumplings have ALWAYS come from a box - and amazingly enough, to my profound excitement, a box that didn't contain gluten.  The stuffing I tried making was just gross, and the veggies, were just cauliflower and asparagus.  No, this post is about the left overs.

I made a full dinner...for just me.  Now, I'm a big eater, and did eat almost the whole box of potato dumplings, but even I can't eat EVERYTHING.  So, what is a girl to do with all those leftovers?  After a quick glance in my pantry I decided to make, Saucy Chicken and Pea Rice.  Kind of weird name, fantastic taste :)


Saucy Chicken and Pea Rice

Left over chicken and gravy from one roast chicken
One bowl of frozen peas, defrosted
1 unit of rice cooked in rice cooker *I used arborio rice

Combine all components, and leave on in rice cooker, on warm setting until chicken is warmed through.  Serve, and enjoy.  

Warm weather in a jar

In the last year and a bit, I have discovered the joy of making preserves.  As a result I have more jam than I can even dream of eating.  Christmas presents, here we come!  

Last year when I first started canning my own stuff, everything I made was from inside Certo packages.  Strawberry jam, Strawberry Rhubarb jam, Blueberry Jam, Plum Jam, Salsa - wait, that one came from Bernardin, same idea.  They're all delicious, but since anyone can get the recipes, I wont bore you with them.  However, my Golden Plum Jam, Raspberry-Cherry Jam, Blackcurrant-Blueberry Jam, and Oma's Apple Sauce, those you can only get from me.  And lucky for you, it's not too late for Apple Sauce!

Photo courtesy of FreeFoto.com
Oma's Apple Sauce

This is a rough recipe, as I didn't measure anything, and I had very basic directions to go on.  Between my Mom and Dad's memories of Oma's Apple Sauce I managed to make this.

Peel, slice and core apples.  I used enough to fill my large cooking pot.  Place about 1 inch water in pot with apple slices.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until slices are tender and can be mashed with a fork.  Remove from heat.  Sprinkle in a bit of cinnamon - to taste - and mash with a potato masher.  Enjoy right away, cool and store in Fridge, or preserve in hot, sterilized canning jars (use a boiling canner for 20 minutes).


Blackcurrent-Blueberry Jam

2 cups blackcurrants
2 cups wild blueberries
1 cup splenda
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 pouch liquid pectin *I used Certo brand

Crush blackcurrants and blueberries.
In large sauce pan bring a boil along with lime juice.
Add splenda and sugar
Boil rapidly for one minute.
Remove from heat and stir in pectin.
Stir for 5 minutes, removing foam.
Ladle into sterilized, hot canning jars.  Seal, and place in boiling water for 15 minutes.  

This jam has a tart undertone.  If you do not like tart foods, increase the splenda or sugar.  This will most likely affect the texture of the jam, but with a good stirring it should still be quite enjoyable.


Gingered Plum Jam

Approx 35 Golden Plums
2 Tbsp ginger paste
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup splenda
1 package light pectin *I used Certo Light

Pit plums and puree in food processor.
In large sauce pot combine plum puree ginger, and lemon juice.
Combine pectin with 1/4 cup sugar, and add to plum mixture.
Bring mixture to a boil and add remaining sugar and splenda.
Boil hard for one minute.
Remove from heat, stir for five minutes while removing foam.
Ladle into sterilized, hot canning jars.  Seal, and place in boiling water for 15 minutes. 

This makes a more saucy jam, and is fantastic on pancakes.

Raspberry-Cherry Jam

1 3/4 cup pureed raspberries
3 1/2 cups pureed cherries
3 1/4 cup sugar
1 package light pectin *again I used Certo Light

Combine raspberries, cherries and 1/4 cup sugar mixed with pectin in a large sauce pan.
Bring mixture to a boil and add remaining sugar and splenda.
Boil hard for one minute.
Remove from heat, stir for five minutes while removing foam.
Ladle into sterilized, hot canning jars.  Seal, and place in boiling water for 15 minutes. 

September 28, 2008

Gluten-Free Cornbread

We all have our favorite quite treat.  The one you make, and then eat the entire pan in one day.  It could be chocolate cake, pie, ice cream, bread, cinnamon rolls...the list could go on and on.  Mine, it's corn bread.  I've always adored corn bread, from the very first time I made it.  I think I was 12, and it was the recipe that I found on the back of a bag.  It was so good, I cut it out, and for years I followed that little plastic slip.  Eventually though, I lost it.  It's been so long, I don't even remember what brand I used, heck, for all I know, you can't even get that brand out this way.  

Then, a few months ago, I found a very good one posted by Natalie over at Gluten Free Mommy [here].  I have enjoyed it many time, but every time I made it, and promptly devoured it, I felt a little guilty.  All the refined carbs!  Now, don't get me wrong, I am anything but anti-carb.  I live for carbs.  Give me my pasta, my rice, my potatoes, and I am one happy lady.  But, I don't normally eat a whole bag of pasta, or rice, or potatoes in one go.  So, I needed to make some changes.

Damn, am I glad I did!  My new cornbread recipe has flavor, and texture, and sweetness, and staying power.  It's Divine!  Please give it a try, and if you like something a little less dense, I highly recommend Natalie's.

Lower Carb, Gluten-free Corn Bread

I won't lie, while lower carb, it's not lower fat - but it's mainly healthy fats :)

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt 
3 Tbsp agave syrup
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup oil
2 beaten eggs

Set oven to 400 F.  Place 1 Tbsp coconut oil in your pan (I use my cast iron pan - which is either 8 or 10").  Put pan in oven to come to temperature and melt the oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder.

In small bowl, or large measuring cup, combine agave syrup, almond milk, oil and eggs.

When oven reaches temperature, add liquid mixture to corn mixture.  Whisk until combined.  Take pan out of oven, and scoop batter into pan, smoothing once all is in.  Bake in middle of the oven for 30 minutes.

September 20, 2008

Chocolaty Triumph!

Finally!!  Just as I had pretty well given up hope, and all attempts at re-creating my beloved Chocolate Saucy Pudding Cake (courtesy of my ex) I have success.  For almost a month I have been making attempts at this cake, I have been slaving away in the kitchen, excitedly taking it out of the oven, photographing it because it looked good, taking a beautiful scoop, taking a bite, and almost screaming, cursing, throwing it across my tiny, little kitchen.  For goodness sake, I managed to go through an ENTIRE container of cocoa powder.  Who the hell, besides me, needs that many goes at a bloody simple recipe.  

No one.

But oh, the sweet taste of triumph.  It's even better than actually eating it.  

While the texture is not quite the same as the original, at least not so far as I can remember, the taste not so sweet, my word, I personally think this one is even better.  The taste is a little more grown-up, and the texture, there is a little more tooth to it.  I can't wait for my potluck.  I think I'll be showing everyone just how well you can eat even when you're gluten-free!

With no further adu, allow me to present my version of the Ex's cake.
GF Chocolate Cake with Hot Sauce

In an 8" square baking dish combine:

2/3 cup GF flour *see note
1/3 cup sweet  rice flour
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar

In a small bowl, combine:

1/4 cocoa powder
1/2 cup melted hard margarine (use butter if desired)

To flour mixture add:

cocoa/butter mixture
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup almond milk (use dairy or other alternative milk if desired)

Will make a very thick batter.  Make sure it is spread to all edges and corners for even cooking.

In additional bowl, combine:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa

Sprinkle sugar and cocoa over batter.  Pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over the entire mixture.

Bake at 350 F for 70 minutes.


*GF flour used:
I made a slightly different flour mix this time.  It is fairly similar to the one I normally use, so that should also work - cooking times may need to be adjusted.

Flour mix:
3 parts corn flour
2 parts soy flour
3 parts potato starch
1 part sweet rice flour

September 13, 2008

Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Besides my co-worker, is there a woman out there who does not on occasion crave something with chocolate?  Heck, once in a blue moon, even I want something.  Every now and then I find myself craving a moist chocolate cake.  That being said, I don't want a whole cake, that's just far too much for me.  And while I could make cupcakes and freeze them for my next craving, that's just asking for trouble.  If there is food, I will eat it, and the weight will creep back on.  Something that I, for one, do not want to have happen.

After a nice little Internet search for cake in a mug, and what seemed like 5 million recipes based off of cake mix, I found one on Ali's Home of the Lazy Dog.  Not only did I switch the flour, but I made a few other changes.  My favorite change by far, was the use of lemon olive oil.  Wow, the added flavor and the way it plays on your tongue...I think it's drool worthy.  Also, I like a less sweet chocolate, so using some agave and maple syrup in place of the sugar worked like a charm for me.  

Now, there is only one problem - this is almost as convenient as having chocolate cupcakes in the freezer, and not so sweet.  I'm afraid I'm going to want this a little too often!


Chocolate Cake in a Mug

3 Tbsp GF Flour
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp agave syrup
1 Tbsp maple syrup (use the real stuff, it's got more depth of flavor)
1 tsp lemon olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla hemp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients in a mug.  Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.  Frost if desired, but tastes delish as is.  Eat.  Repeat as needed.

September 11, 2008

Chunky Veggie's and Polenta

All day I was craving Fettuccine Alfredo.  I had no real desire to eat, in spite of the fact that I was starving out of my mind, but I really, desperately wanted Fettuccine Alfredo.  I don't have any pasta in the house.  If only my pants would stop "shrinking" then maybe I could keep it around me.    So, on my way home, I stopped by Planet Organic for some pasta, and while I wandered the isles I found that they had polenta on sale...and suddenly I wanted polenta.  

Wow, my cravings are insane, you'd think I was pregnant...um, next immaculate conception much?

A quick trip into the produce section yielded a lovely yellow zucchini, and supper was born!


Chunky Veggie's and Polenta

1 roll prepared polenta, any flavor (I used Basil-Garlic)
1/2 green pepper
6-7 mushrooms
2 medium carrots
1/2 white onion
1/2 small yellow zucchini
6-7 roma tomato's
2 tbsp roasted garlic
2 tbsp basil
1-2 tsp coconut oil
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Chop veggies into small chunks (approx 1 cm pieces), and slice polenta into 12 slices.  In wok or sauce pan, heat coconut oil over medium heat until liquid.  Add all veggies except tomato's and cook until tender crisp.  Reduce heat.  Add tomato's and continue to cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.  

Just after adding the tomatoes, pour olive oil into a large pan and heat over medium-high.  When oil is hot, add polenta rounds and fry 5 minutes before flipping.  Fry for an additional 5 minutes.

When finished cooking, divide among 4 plates, and enjoy!



September 7, 2008

GF Flour Mix

I know I have included this mix with one or two recipes, however, I believe that if I give it it's own post, you can locate it more easily.

I know I obtained this recipe from another blog, though I don't remember who.  If you are the original creator of this recipe, or who know who is, PLEASE let me know.  I would like to give credit where credit is due.

Gluten Free Flour Mix

3 parts* rice flour
3 parts* corn starch
2 parts* soy flour
1 part* corn flour

Combine all four flours and starches in a large bowl and sift together with a whisk.  Make sure that you have a homogenous mixture - in otherwords, everything looks the same, and is one color.  Transfer to an airtight storage container, and use as needed.

*I tend to use either 1/2 cup or 2/3 cup measure for each part, but if only a little is needed, feel free to use a teaspoon or tablespoon measure.

Pancakes

One would think I love breakfast food, it seems that every other post is something relating to that early morning feast.  Strangely enough, I'm not much of a breakfast eater.  Maybe that's why I keep making things.  After all, just like my waffles and quinoa muffins, pancakes are great for making in advance and keeping in the freezer.  What does that mean?  It means that even if you, like me, stay in bed til the last possible minute can still have something homemade to eat on the go.  


My favorite thing about these pancakes, is the fact that they are fairly thin.  I grew up eating a pancake that truly was a cross between a typical fluffy North American pancake, and a crepe-like German pancake.  Story of my life!  I'm only too glad to be eating a thinner pancake again.  And while the ones my ex taught me to make - first time cooking pancakes from scratch! - were very good, these ones are far better, and of course, gluten-free.  

A the flavor and texture of these pancakes is rich.  You can taste the egg, you can taste the different flours, the sugar is a sweet after tone that you can almost miss, but it's there.  Everything about these pancakes is a pleasure.  I love watching everything combine as I whisk it, from a lumpy mess, to a silky smooth batter.  The sound, if you listen really closely, of all the lovely little air pockets forming and popping, and best of all, the smell.  They just smell like home.  Heck, they are so wonderful, that I caught one of my cats on the counter eating them!  

This is my ideal pancake mix.  But play with it.  You might prefer a fluffier pancake.  If that's the case, I might try decreasing the amount of egg.  You might like a more crepe-like pancake, in that case, try leaving out some flour, and changing the amount of baking powder.  Try adding some spices, taking out or adding more sugar.  Make it yours.  And please let me know what you come up with!  The more idea's, the better the possible outcomes.

Quick and Easy Pancakes

1 1/4 cup GF flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk (replace with non-dairy milk if desired/necessary)
4 eggs
2 Tbsp oil

Whisk together dry ingredients until uniform.  Add all remaining ingredients and whisk until you have a silky smooth batter (will be runny, and some lumps will remain).

Heat a small (I think I used a 6") pan over medium high heat.  For the first pancake I like to spray a little bit of canola oil on the pan.  Once pan has come to temperature, add 1/4 batter to the pan.  Cook until covered with little bubbles and the bubbles have begun to pop.  Flip pancake and cook until golden on second side - this usually takes less than 30 seconds for me.  Continue cooking until all batter is used up. 

Serve to family and/or friends, or eat a couple and freeze the rest once cool between layers of wax paper for a quick breakfast on the go.

Makes 12 pancakes.

September 2, 2008

Quinoa Muffins

I love Martha Stewart.  About this I simply can not lie.  I love watching her, I love her magazines, and most of all, I love her food.  I still suscribe to Everyday Food knowing darn well that if I want to try something I am most likely going to be making changes.  It's things like this that make me hate being gluten intolerant, and at the same make me love the challenges and the excuses to play in the kitchen.  Tonight, I did just that.  I tackled her wonderful Quinoa Muffin recipe and made it not only gluten-free, but also vegan.  Why go half way, when you can go all the way.

Now, if you like sweet muffins, keep the recipe as is, though if you like them not so sweet, I'd cut back on the sugar to 1/2 cup.  That's what I'm doing next time, or maybe trying it with Agave syrup.  Dried fruit would be brilliant in here, and the orginal recipe called for it, I just didn't have any in the house.  Well, here goes nothing!

Quinoa Muffins

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 ripe avacado
1 1/3 cups soy flour
2/3 cup rice flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup hemp milk
1 small banana
2 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350 F.  Grease muffin tins with oil and lightly flour.  Do not use paper baking cups, as muffins will stick horribly to them (this I learned from experiance tonight).

In a large bowl combine soy flour, rice flour, quinoa, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  

Blend together avadacdo, banana, hemp milk and vanilla.  When smooth add to dry ingredents and mix well.  Divide evenly into 12 muffin tins.  Tins will be very full, not to worry, these muffins do not rise.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, depending on your oven, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Mine took 33 minutes.

Once cool, store in container in fridge.  Enjoy for a quick hearty breakfast.


September 1, 2008

Gourmet Garden Herbs

Like most lovers of food, I adore herbs. I herbs fresh from the garden or farmers market but most of them seem not to have any. Therefore when my local grocery store had a BOGO event on, I went crazy for these little wonders....refrigerated herbs in a tube by Gourmet Garden. Of course I only bought a few varieties, they have several more (10 to be exact).



Now I know that something from a tube is not as good as something fresh. I know it will have more stuff in it than just the herb. But all in all, I think they're pretty good. And no where on the ingredient list did I see something with a good chance of glutening me...sweet! I have been putting these babies to work for me. Tonight they made a piece of Tilapia palatable to me. Fish, I hate it, but must learn to eat it. This goes fantastically with lightly fried zucchini, steamed broccoli and baked fingerling potatoes. And makes a very simple and quick to prepare meal.




Herbed Tilapia
(For 1, increase as necessary for additional people)

1 fillet tilapia
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1.5 tsp garlic
1.5 tsp chili
1-2 tsp champagne vinegar

Whisk together oil, garlic, chili and vinegar in bowl. Coat Tilapia with this mixture.

Fry tilapia in a small amount of Olive Oil until opaque and firm, flipping once.
Serve with veggies of your choosing and enjoy :)

August 4, 2008

Waffles

I hate spending money, but I keep wanting to try all the GF goodies on the market.  After all, so far I can only make so many things on my own, and really, I can only eat so much cornbread.  Well, on Friday I lucked out.  My good friend John had a present for me when I got to his place to help him out.  He told me to look in the freezer, and what did I find?  Van's Waffles!  


I'd heard of these, I'd seen these, but I'd never tried them.  I could hardly wait until Saturday morning to try them out.  And damn, they were good.  They're way better than I remember Eggo's to be.  Not that I think that is the most amazing recommendation, but hey, for a frozen waffle, Eggo's weren't bad.  My only problem, the cost.  The box holds 6 waffles, and I think they're around $5 a box!  Those are some pricey waffles.

Enter my slowly developing GF cooking skills.  I hunted down my favorite pre-GF waffle recipe, and went to work.  Okay, so I didn't do much, I used the flour recipe I found somewhere on-line - if you recognize, please let me know where it is from so I can give due credit - and that was about it.  I also made them non-dairy, but I'm pretty sure any milk/milk substitute would work.  But hey, they turned out great, I made 15 waffles, and I swear it cost me way less then $5.  

Gluten-Free Waffles

3 large eggs
1 cup rice milk
1/2 cup oil (originally called for melted butter, but I'm too lazy)
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups GF-flour**
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar

Beat eggs with electric mixer until thick, approx. 5 minutes.  Beat in milk, oil and vanilla.  Sift dry ingredients together and slowly add to liquid mixture.  Cook in waffle iron.  Serve warm, or freeze for later use.

**GF-Flour
Combine:
3 cups rice flour
3 cups corn starch
2 cups soy flour
1 cup corn flour

Transfer to an airtight container and use as needed.  Recipe can easily be increased or decreased in quantities.

July 19, 2008

Raspberries

The middle of July has arrived and with it, Summer! We've been enjoying hot and dry days after several very long wet months. The spoils of the Earth have therefore sprung. My tomato plants are starting to produce fruit, and the market is overflowing with treats. Best of all, my favorite summer food is in season...raspberries. With their brilliant red color, and their lingering slightly sweet tartness, I find they sum up everything I love about summer. And just like summer, they never last long enough.




Yesterday it was HOT (29 C, with our normal highs being around 24 C) and sunny. So I did the logical thing, I closed up the apartment, threw on the AC for the cats, jumped in the car and headed into the Valley. What could take this suburban raised girl away from the city? A few hours spent at Dempsy Corner's Orchard picking raspberries and cherries. It took me nearly 1.5 hours to pick 4 pints of berries as I was far to busy eating them from the vine. Of course they were un-sprayed...and the bugs I fought were proof enough of that for me.


However, what am I to do with all these berries? I already have enough jam to sink a ship, and very little freezer space. I keep thinking of delicious "Himbeere Kuchen" I ate in Kassel. Sadly my day's of delectable cakes are gone. Or at least until I get better at this whole baking gluten free thing. After a hunt, and the combining of a couple recipes I came up with a very nice Gluten-Free Fresh Raspberry Pie.




Gluten-Free Fresh Raspberry Pie


For the crust:
1 1/2 cups rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
4 oz. (1/2 package) cream cheese
1 egg, well beaten
2-3 tbsp milk


Sift together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter or two knifes. Cut in cream cheese. When fairly uniform stir in the egg. Sprinkle milk over mixture and gently stir and knead into a ball. Roll dough into a circle approx 2 inch wider than your pie plate. Bake at 450 F fro 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat and cool.


I baked mine for 10 minutes, turned off the oven and left it in for the remaining 5. It came out nicely dried, with a lovely golden color on the top edges.





For the filling:
2 2/3 cups raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 1/2 tbsp corn starch


Measure out 2/3 cup of the berries and mash into a medium ceramic or glass bowl. Mix in sugar and water. Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes until bubbling.
Combine the cornstarch with a small amount of water and stir into the berry mixture. Place back in microwave and cook an addition 1-2 minute until thickened. Allow to cool. Once filling is cool, place remaining berries in the prepared pie shell and pour the glaze over. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.


Enjoy with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or just as is.