Friday, December 28, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls a Hit


Before the gluten-free lifestyle kicked in, I used to make homemade cinnamon rolls for our Christmas breakfast. The wheat recipe called for lots of rising time, punching down dough, and other prep steps, so this was a once a year thing for this some-time baker. This Christmas Eve I thought I would try a gluten-free version and found an excellent recipe on Ellen's "I Am Gluten-Free Blog" and while the dough was a challenge to work with, as it was extremely soft, the cinnamon rolls were a hit with our clan. I found they were better the second day, as the texture got a bit harder and less crumbly. You can find this recipe and lots of other great recipes on Ellen's blog or copy it down from here:

Cinammon Rolls
Serves 8 or 9

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons shortening or butter
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup of milk, room temperature
1 packet yeast (about 1 tablespoon)
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup potato starch
1 cup corn starch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

TO SPRINKLE ON BOARD COVERED WITH PLASTIC WRAP
1 - 2 tablespoons sugar

FILLING
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped nuts - (I used pecans)

GLAZE (I skipped the glaze, but it sounds good for next time)
¾ cup powdered or confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
milk to thicken

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, combine shortening and sugar. Mix well. Measure warm milk and add yeast to milk. Whisk well to fully dissolve.

Add milk/yeast to sugar mixture. Add remaining ingredients. Mix very well, being sure to remove all lumps. Dough will be quite soft.

Take a piece of plastic wrap and lay it out so it covers a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square. Sprinkle sugar on the wrap. Lay ball of dough on top of that. Then pull out another sheet of wrap and gently lay over the dough. Pat the dough down into a roughly squarish pancake. Lift the top wrap up and then reposition it. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough in between the two layers of wrap. Occasionally you'll have to lift and reposition the wrap because it gets "stuck" under the edges. You might have to occasionally flip the whole thing over. Make sure that when you're done you've got ABOUT a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square of dough.

Remove top piece of wrap. Combine filling ingredients. Spread evenly across dough's surface. Use the bottom piece of wrap to lift the edge of the dough and start to roll it up forming a long cylinder. Start with the sugary edge, which will be the center of your roll and roll toward the sugarless edge. Cut off or trim up the irregular ends of your "log". Then cut into 8 or 9 slices of similar size, about 1 1/2" wide. Place rolls into a greased round glass pie pan.

Bake approximately 20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned.

Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make glaze. The amount of milk you use will depend on how thick you want the glaze to be. Stir until all lumps are dissolved. Drizzle over warm rolls if desired.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Winter Caprese Salad


I have been eyeing these fresh mozzarella "perlini" balls in my supermarket dairy case for a while and thinking how cute they are. I tossed some in our green salads, but I came up with a really delicious and simple salad, in Christmas colors, no less, for our Christmas Eve meal tonight. It is sending us a needed blast of summer intensity for this darkest time of winter.

I used a thawed container of pesto from the freezer, which we put up nearly daily during August when the basil bushes grow with an intense vegetable energy, but you could substitute prepared pesto from a jar. But, please don't spend $5.00 on a hydroponic bouquet of limpy, wimpy basil from the produce aisle. Basil needs summer dirt in its toes and blistering summer sun to give up its goodness.

Wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my new gluten-free buddies with this twist on the traditional sliced mozzarella, basil leaf and tomato salad of summer:

Winter Caprese Salad

1 (8 oz.) container fresh mozzarella perlini (pearl-sized balls)
About 25 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup pesto
Splash of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and let flavors marry at room temperature for at least an hour before serving. Serve as an appetizer or spoon on top of your green salad.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Gluten-Free Holiday Cookies at Ft. Edward Bakery


The Saratoga Gluten-Free Goods elves have been hard at work in the kitchen churning out goodies and they are now selling a holiday cookie assortment at the Fort Edward Bakery, 192 Broadway (State Route 4) in Fort Edward, New York. Call the bakery at 518-747-5090 or stop by to scoop them up while supplies last. Wouldn't that make a great gift to bring to a holiday party or to give to your favorite wheat-free buddy? Beat me to the bakery!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gluten Suppositories!


Here I am innocently cataloguing books at the old bookstore, when this eyepopper jumps out at me. Tucked at the rear of a seemingly upstanding book, "Dick Cheveley", by the staid historical novelist, W.H. D. Kingston, are several advertisements, a common enough practice with nineteenth century publishers looking for extra simoleons. There is an ad for Sohmer pianos, and one for Sapolio soap, but then my gluten-sensitive peepers lighted on an advertisement for the Health Food Company of New York City and their marvelous GLUTEN SUPPOSITORIES!

E.L. Ripley of Burlington, Vermont, no shy hemorrhoidal victim he, notes "As Sancho Panza said of sleep, so say I of your Gluten Suppositories: God bless the man who invented them!". And the Rev. John H. Paton of Michigan, a chronic, constipated dypeptic, heaps accolades on the mighty tablets, stating "I believe their food-remedies to be worthy of the high praise which they are receiving on all sides". These gluten suppositories are billed to relieve intestinal torpor and kindred evils, but pity the poor celiac or wheat-sensitive soul who popped them in seeking relief.

Giving thanks for modern medicine.....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Using Up Pie Crust Scraps


As a little girl, I would love to help my mom and grandmas cook in the kitchen and one of the "specialties" I had was to take leftover pie dough trimmings and sculpt them into elaborate shapes for "cookies" or as Lilliputian pie shells for jam fillings. Neither tasted particularly good, but I had a lot of fun working the dough onto my own cookie sheet.

Now that I'm making gluten-free pie crusts and the time spent shopping for and money spent on various types of flours is so dear, I was eyeballing the scraps I had trimmed off two pumpkin pies I was baking the other day. The pie crust recipe I use is Bette Hagman's Featherlight Vinegar Crust (for recipe see my previous post for Apple Sour Cream Pie) and it is wonderfully flaky and has a nice flavor. I then spotted the bag of apples that had gone instantly mealy from the time I purchased them to their arrival at home. Voila! Apple crisp! The pastry scraps got fluffed around with a fork and I had an apple crisp topping. Double frugal score to boot!

Here's sort of a recipe:

6 past-due apples, peeled, cored, sliced
Brown sugar
Butter
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Pastry Scraps, fluffed up

Butter a small baking dish (1 quart will do). Toss apple slices with brown sugar and some cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Sprinkle on pastry scraps, some more brown sugar and dot top with butter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour.

Everybody ate it up, especially when I served it with our dinner, along with the pumpkin pies. Two desserts with dinner was a hit with the kids and I was pleased they were ingesting a vegetable and fruit on the same plate.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Some Gluten-Free Tidbits


There are some assorted bits of news and interesting Internet posts I thought I would assemble for a gluten-free sampler:

1) The GourmetSleuth blog has a useful grams to ounces converter that is helpful when adapting a recipe from the metric system to the American system of cups, ounces and teaspoons. There are a lot of great recipes from around the world so this should help with adapting recipes for home use. I am going to be putting this as a link in the sidebar on the right side of this blog.

2) Sea over at the exceptional gluten-free blog Book of Yum has a wonderful recent post about gluten-free snack packing and preparing for a long trip AND exciting and detailed posts on Indian cuisine and what to look for on an Indian menu that is safe to eat. Fascinating and beautifully photographed as ever. A must read.

3) The Chez Pim site has organized Menu of Hope 4 to benefit the United Nations Feeding Program in Lesotho, Africa. This great event features numerous raffles for dreamy food prizes, from cookbooks and cooking lessons, to tours of famous restaurants and shopping trips with world renowned chefs. Check it out until December 21st.

4) In a similar vein, you can help the UN World Food Program by testing your vocabulary at the Free Rice site. Of course we all love gluten-free rice, and this time-wasting and addicting site promotes a great cause.

5) I ran across this article on celiac-friendly beer and wanted to share this with others. We have been very happy with Redbridge Beer available at our local supermarkets but it looks like there has been more of a growth in the gluten-free beer market over the last year, so it looks like a trip to our beverage distributor might be in order.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rudolph's Noses - Our favorite Gluten Free Christmas Cookie


Every family has its holiday traditions, and in our household it just would not be Christmastime if we didn't decorate the Christmas tree while listening to my eldest's punk rock holiday tunes, snip out paper snowflakes to tape onto the windows and pierce oranges with cloves to hopefully mummify into spicy sachets. If I also don't make a batch of Rudolph's Nose cookies and stain my hands from the red sugar they are rolled in, there will be Decemberish whining.

Originally I made this recipe, passed onto me by my friend Hope with the more elegant monniker of "Chocolate Cherry Bites", with a box of vanilla wafers, but now I use whatever kind of gluten-free shortbread or vanilla cookie is available on the grocery shelves.

HoHoHoping you will enjoy this Jagareski family tradition...

Rudolph's Nose Cookies

1 (9-12 oz.) box gluten-free vanilla cookies, smashed into crumbs
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
3 Tbsp. baking cocoa
3/4 cups chopped maraschino cherries (most of a 16 oz. jar)
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
Red sugar crystals (at least one 2.25 oz. jar, but buy a second jar because depending on your level of encrustation, more sugar crystals may be required)

The easiest thing is to use a food processor to smash the vanilla cookies, and chop the nuts and cherries. Otherwise, chop and smash using your favorite alternate method and mix everything except sugar crystals into a large mixing bowl.

Mix together until you can shape the cookies into little 1/2 inch balls. If you need to add more moisture, a dab of leftover maraschino cherry juice will do.

Roll cookies in red sugar crystals. You can also do a mix of red and green sugar crystals, but red is the smartest and most fashionable color of sugar crystal to accompany a chocolate brown cookie, so you gotta go with that.

Makes about 40 Rudolph Noses, more than enough to light the way for Santa's sleigh.

These keep about 2-3 weeks in a covered tin. After that the sugar leaches out the moisture from the cookie and they become unpleasantly sticky.

******************************************************************************

For lots of other gluten-free Christmas cookie recipes, check out these other links:

Aboutcom's List

Cookies in Motion website

Gluten-Free Mommy


And Carrie over at the Ginger Lemon girl blog promises a Gluten-Free Cookie Recipe Roundup later this month, so check out some other scrumptious options there.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cinderella Sweet Treats


The Cinderella Sweets Bakery of Woodmere, New York, sent our family a sample package of some of their gluten-free sweets and I am delighted to report that all of the goodies we've tried have been really great. The company, founded by baker Cindy Itzkowitz, sells its gluten-free goodies under the name "Shabtai Gourmet" at many metropolitan NYC area supermarkets and does a lot of mail order sales.

We certainly tucked into these treats in a hurry. The non-celiac daughters who turn up their noses at most of my gluten-free concoctions scarfed up the Pecan Meltaway Crumbs in a flash, and the "I'm-allergic-to-coconut" daughter wolfed down half of a delicate Raspberry Roll coated with the tropical flakes. The Chocolate Seven Layer Cake was scrummy, and while I didn't like the Ladyfingers by themselves (they were a bit dry) they made a marvelous dessert layered with whipped cream and sliced, sugared strawberries. I still have some gluten-free Brownies and Ring Tings (like the similar-sounding snack cake) in the freezer to bring out later.

So Four Thumbs Up from our clan for these light and delicious gluten-free snacks. They are also certified kosher, so you can adorn your holiday table with safe, delicious, and fancy desserts if you are so inclined. If you live in the New York City/Long Island area, you can find Shabtai Gourmet treats at Shop Rite, Key Food and other supermarkets. The rest of us can call the bakery to order them through the mail at (516)652-5671.

*****December 18, 2007 Addendum***********

Four of the Shabtai Gourmet gluten-free items are now being offered on Amazon dot com. You can order Chocolate Chip Cookies ($7.00), Gluten-Free bread crumbs ($5.00), Ladyfingers ($5.00) and the divine Chocolate Pecan Meltaway Crumbs ($7.00). Free shipping if you order $25.00 or more.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gluten-Free Goods in Fort Edward

Just a quick note to let folks know that the Fort Edward Bakery, 192 Broadway (State Route 4) in Fort Edward, New York, is now stocking Saratoga Gluten Free Goods items. I got some chewy, big chocolate chip walnut cookies there yesterday and there were also lemon tartlets and bread for sale.

Shirley Carson, owner of the Fort Edward Bakery, said she just started carrying these gluten-free items because so many of her bakery customers were asking for them. If you can eat wheat, you will be tempted by the famous garlic finger rolls and her delicious pastries. For directions to the bakery or for more information, call Shirley at the Bakery, 518-747-5090. See you there.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The 100th Post: Red Pepper Cheese Spread


I can't believe this is Blog Post #100 already; seems like I just got started a little while ago with this project. I've learned so much from other bloggers and Internet resources about the gluten-free life and am happy to be part of this online community, helping each other make adjustments to eating well without the wheat family.

This new way of cooking and shopping has become so much easier over the last two years. Just before Thanksgiving, I attended a Gluten-Free Living class held at a local Hannaford supermarket and learned a few new things from the dietician teacher, but was more delighted by being able to pass on a few things to a recently-diagnosed celiac. We and the other attendees, some of whom had been living gluten-free for 15 years or more, were able to swap recipes, restaurant reviews and tips about our favorite gluten-free products and help ease our new celiac buddy's worries that she wouldn't be able to eat "normally" again.

In that spirit, I am happy to share an appetizer spread that is great for the holiday feasting season. You can dunk carrot and celery sticks in it, spread it on crackers or use it as a sandwich filling (it's pretty rich, so just use a thin layer). I am not sure where I clipped this recipe from. I suspect it may be from a cooking magazine from at least ten years ago, but I am positive that it is delicious.

Red Pepper Cheese Spread

3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into several slices
1 small onion, rough chopped
2 red peppers, seeded and cut in half
olive oil
1-1/2 cups Cheddar cheese
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
2 Tbsp. snipped chives

Place garlic, onion, and red peppers (cut side down) in oiled glass baking dish. Drizzle with about 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Roast in preheated 375 degree oven 50-60 minutes. Place peppers in a brown bag or covered bowl to steam for 10 minutes. Peel skin off peppers.

Place all ingredients except chives in food processor and blend until mostly smooth. Add in chives.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to blend flavors.

Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder


In an effort to use up some refrigerator oddments and clear shelf space for the Thanksgiving feast, I decided to make a pot of soup the other day. I consulted my cookbooks for the best use of two baked sweet potatoes, some vegetable stock, a few corn tortillas and a bag of frozen corn that kept getting roughly shuffled around by various naughty Jagareskis with a resultant confetti of corn kernels sticking to all parts of the freezer compartment. Perusal of one of my favorite cookbooks, "Vegetarian Planet" by Didi Emmons (Boston: Harvard Common Press, 1997) offered up a delicious-sounding Corn and Sweet-Potato Chowder. I riffed on the recipe, which ingeniously uses bits of corn tortilla to thicken the chowder in a delightfully gluten-free way. Here's my version:

2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. white rice flour
6 cups vegetable stock
3 corn tortillas, cut into small pieces
2 cups frozen corn
2 sweet potatoes, baked and cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
1 small can green chiles, diced

Melt butter and olive oil in a heavy stockpot. Add onions, garlic, cumin and paprika and cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or until onions are softened.

Add flour and stir constantly with a whisk for 30 seconds. Gradually add stock, stirring all the while, to keep smooth. Add tortilla bits and frozen corn and bring back to a boil. Add sweet potatoes and chiles and cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in half-and-half and warm up chowder, but don't let boil.

Serves 4-6 people.

This is a very rich chowder, so just serve with a green salad for a warming dinner on a cold night.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu

At our house we are planning a day of relaxing with some festive foods sandwiched between busy days at the bookstore. We usually have holiday shoppers and regular customers who stop in to see us once or twice a year when they are visiting folks, so we don't travel anywhere for Thanksgiving as we only take Thursday off. While there no line outside of the shop when we open, we have a respectable Black Friday and strong Thanksgiving weekend sales at our Old Saratoga Books, our used and rare bookstore. To fortify ourselves for the holiday shopping season, I have planned the following menu for our Thanksgiving Feast. An asterisk after the item indicates that a recipe is already shared here on this blog :


Spicy Toasted Nuts*
Grandma's Stuffed Celery*
Relish Tray

Creamed Onions
Gluten-Free Bread Stuffing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Turkey and Gravy (for the carnivores)
Roast Porta Bella Mushrooms and Gravy (for the vegetarians)
Sweet Potato Pudding

Salad
Cranberry Sauce (Dan insists on the quivering jellied mass from the can)
Mashed Turnips
Twice Baked Potatoes
Pumpkin Pie*

Now to find time to make all of this!

Nuts to You


Dan needed a football nibble to root on his beloved Giants yesterday and I tinkered with a Toasted Spiced Nuts recipe from one of my cookbooks to come up with this moderately spicy, naturally gluten-free snack. This would be a nice appetizer to bring to your Thanksgiving gathering or as part of a holiday party spread.

Spicy Toasted Nuts

5 cups nuts (I used a mix of cashews and walnuts, but pecans, peanuts, and almonds would also work too. And an addition of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds would be great additions as well. If nuts and seeds are previously toasted or roasted, skip the roasting and just add them in the mix later)

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 tsp. dried rosemary (or 2 tsp. fresh rosemary)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Heat oil in skillet until hot. Add rosemary and heat, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes, or until aromatic. Pour hot oil over nuts and coat well.

Mix remaining ingredients together. Mix this spice rub into the nuts.

Spread on a non-stick baking sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Let nuts cool and then start nibbling! Store in a sealed container to keep fresh.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Delicious Pumpkin Pie


Susan over at the Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen posted a great recipe for a gluten-free pumpkin pie that you whirl up in the blender and pour into some greased pie shells. Pop them in the oven and you've got a pumpkin pie that makes its own sort-of crust. The cornstarch and rice flour work a little alchemy to make the pie have a moist base that you can even pick up in your hand and snack on. This pie was a hit with the family, although I did find that it improved with a little pure maple syrup drizzled on top.

There are loads of other wheat-free, meat-free recipes over at the Fat-Free Vegan Blog and I am looking forward to making my way through some of them. There are a couple of chickpea and sesame flour cracker recipes which sound and look fantastic. And her food photographic skills are of a much higher caliber.

Here's Susan's recipe for:

Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie

1 1/2 cups soymilk
1 tbsp. Ener-G egg replacer*
1/4 cup water*
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups pureed or mashed cooked pumpkin (or cushaw or winter squash)
1/2 cup rice flour (or flour of your choice)
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. ginger powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch deep dish pie pan with cooking spray. (I used a Pyrex pan, and it came out with no sticking.) A deep dish is recommended because this pie will rise a lot during cooking but will fall back down as it cools.

Put the first five ingredients in the blender, and blend well. Add the pumpkin, and puree. Add the remaining ingredients and blend on high for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides a couple of times to make sure everything is thoroughly blended. Pour into a pie pan and bake for about 60 minutes. The top and edges should be brown, but the edges should not be over-done. (Since this is a custardy pie, using the standard toothpick or knife test does not work; it will remain somewhat moist in the center, but it shouldn't be uncooked.)

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the counter. For best results, refrigerate until chilled before eating.

*If you don't have Ener-G egg replacer, you can omit it and the 1/4 cup water and use any other replacement for two eggs. Of course, if you're not vegan, you could use two eggs, but why not give the vegan version a chance?

Makes 8 servings, each containing 153 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (7% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 34g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 264mg Sodium; 3g Fiber.Untitled

Copyright 2006 Susan Voisin and Fatfree Vegan Kitchen
All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Gnudi: Naughty, but Nice


Hold onto your pasties, celiacs! Gnudis (naughtily pronounced "nudies") were on our dinner table the other night and they were scandalously delicious. Basically, they are raviolis without their outer coverings -they're nude!--which you poach up delicately and then modestly blanket with a little sauce.

I first heard about these trendy dainties in an issue of Bon Appetit I was perusing in the orthodontist's office. When I got home, I did more Internet research (aka playing on my computer) and found that they are a Florentine specialty that have become "hot" menu items at many cutting-edge big-City restaurants. They are not difficult to make, however, and I would urge you to give them a try. We used the following recipe from Giada De Laurentis provided on the Food Network site, substituting white rice flour for the all-purpose flour. An alternate recipe with a divine-sounding mushroom sauce can be found on the epicurious website.

Now, go be a gnudist for dinner!


Gnudi

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons flour, plus 1 cup for coating
1 jar store bought marinara sauce, heated
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large bowl, mix ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and yolks. Stir in nutmeg, salt, pepper, and flour. Form mixture in to small, flattened balls.

Dredge the formed gnudi in flour to coat, tapping off the excess. Slide formed gnudi into the boiling water. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. Remove the gnudi using a slotted spoon after they float to the top and have cooked for about 4 minutes.

Arrange gnudi on a platter and lightly drizzle with marinara sauce.




Monday, November 5, 2007

Hannaford Hip to Gluten-Free Customers

Hannaford Supermarkets is having a Gluten Free Eating tour and sampling of goodies at two of their Glens Falls area stores this month:

Monday, November 19, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Glens Falls Hannaford, 175 Broad Street, Glens Falls, NY
Call (518) 798-0028 to register

and

Tuesday, November 20, 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Queensbury Hannaford, 190 Quaker Road, Queensbury, NY
Call (518) 798-8676


I also picked up a copy of the November-December 2007 issue of Hannaford's in-store magazine, Fresh, which is free with every $25.00 purchase (oh so easy to spend when you have to buy gluten-free). The magazine had a cover article on wheat-free desserts which caught my eye and I have also discovered that you can access the three yummy sounding dessert recipes online at this link. They include Apricot-Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies (make sure oats are not contaminated with wheat), Chocolate Fudge Cake with Raspberry Coulis and Spiced Honey Cake with Autumn Compote.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Love Loaf


My buddy Jill sent me a link to the Food Network's website highlighting recipes from a recent Vegetarian Italian episode and I tried my hand at Veronica's Veggie Meatloaf with Checca Sauce. I uncharacteristically shopped for all of the ingredients involved and followed the recipe to the letter, but found that while it looks loaf-like in the pan, my version didn't have any subsequent architectural integrity. It disintegrated into a floppy rice and beans medley which, however and more importantly, tasted delicious.

I took some ribbing for my culinary attempt, dubbed "Love Loaf" by my charming spouse (as he simultaneously reached for second helpings), but I will definitely make it again. Perhaps I didn't squeeze out my spinach sufficiently, so I will try to make things drier next time. Maybe add an additional egg. And while the original recipe states that prep time for this deliciousness is 30 minutes and cooking time is 1 hour and 30 minutes, there are so many steps involved that I found that I needed an entire morning to work on it on and off, so I would reserve a good block of time on one's day off to make it again.

Ciao!

You can check out the recipe at the Food Network site or eyeball it below:

Checca Sauce:
1 pint cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups, or 12 ounces), halved
3 scallions (white and pale green parts only), coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Lentil Loaf:
3/4 cup lentils (about 5 ounces)
3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup uncooked short-grain brown rice, rinsed well
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 celery rib, sliced
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons butter, divided
10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups cubed whole milk mozzarella cheese, divided (about 8 ounces total)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 tablespoons
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tomato, sliced

For the Checca Sauce:
Combine the cherry tomatoes, scallions, garlic, basil, and oil in a processor. Pulse the tomatoes until they are coarsely chopped, being careful not to puree. Set aside. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

For the Lentil Loaf:
Place the lentils in a large saucepan of cold water. Bring the water just to a boil over high heat. Carefully drain the boiling water and rinse the lentils. Meanwhile, in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat, bring the broth to a boil. Add the rice and return the liquid to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, cover the rice, and gently simmer without stirring for 10 minutes. Stir in the lentils, onion, carrot, and celery. Cover and continue cooking without stirring until the rice and lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes longer. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle the corn over the rice and lentils and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork. Cover and let stand for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread 1 tablespoon of the butter over a 10 by 4 1/2 by 3-inch loaf pan. In a heavy, large skillet, cook the spinach over medium heat until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Drain and squeeze the excess liquid from the spinach. Transfer the spinach to a work surface and coarsely chop.

In a large bowl, gently mix the lentil mixture, spinach, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, eggs, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, pepper, and half of the checca sauce. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Arrange the sliced tomatoes in a row over the lentil mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Dot the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.

Bake uncovered until the loaf is heated through and the topping is melted and starting to brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Slice the loaf into 2-inch slices, arrange on plates, and serve with the remaining checca sauce.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Potato Cheese Soup

Last weekend our school district held a showcase for kids talented in the arts, music and drama and some of the parents were asked to bring food. It was a grey and drizzly day, so I put together a nice warm pot of soup after consulting the following cookbook:
New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1987).

I did peel the potatoes and carrots, contrary to the recipe's instructions And I added some fresh thyme, which was still verdant and fresh in the garden with our mild autumn weather. I had a lot of positive comments and the triple batch of this soup all gone now, so this recipe is definitely a keeper, even though it's a bit of mess to clean up the food processor and inevitable slopping over that the pureeing entails.

Very Creamy Potato-Cheese Soup

3-4 Tbsp. butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 large potatoes, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
3 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tsp. dried dill (or 2 Tbsp. fresh dill)
4 oz. cream cheese
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese (3 oz.)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley

In a large soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in the butter until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes and carrots and saute for 5-10 minutes longer. Add the stock or water and dill and simmer until all the vegetables are tender.

Puree the vegetables with the cream cheese and milk in a blender or food processor. Return the soup to the soup pot. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the Cheddar cheese and reheat gently.

Serve each cup or bowl garnished with chopped fresh parsley.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Visit to Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Bakery & Cafe


Recently I had a nice long chat with a woman in the bookshop about gluten-free cooking, something that seems to be happening with greater frequency lately. Several weeks later I came in on a Monday morning to find some flyers for a new Gluten Free Bakery and Cafe in nearby Rensselaer County with a note from the owner, Sherry Lynn Birch, describing her new eatery and mentioning that recent bookshop visit. An opportunity for a book buy came up today in nearby Troy, so Dan and I made sure we made a detour to 1691 Route 7 in Brunswick to check it out.

What a treat! Open since September 1st, this new bakery and cafe is owned by the friendly and charming husband and wife team of Sherry Lynn and husband Howie. When we walked in there were platters of cookies, soups and ziti and pizza in the cooler and lots of frozen baked goods. Sherry Lynn offered us several things to sample, including some divine apple fritters, so we packed up a whole basketful of goodies to take home. I brought home some cute little peanut cupcakes with chocolate frosting that were devoured by our kids after school, so they were the home run of the day. Slices of pumpkin pie and broccoli-cheese soup were also gone within hours by our family of taste testers. Dan was appreciative of the hard rolls which really have a nice chewy texture, unlike so many biscuit-like breads we've tried. We also brought home some pizza slices, which were an improvement on our own homemade pizza, but still not quite the Holy Grail of chewy thin crust pizza that Dan's been missing.

Sherry Lynn's Bakery and Cafe is a much-needed oasis for gluten-free travelers and I am delighted to recommend their place to everyone out there. I just wish they were closer to us up here in Saratoga County!

Here's how to get there:

1691 New York Route 7
Brunswick, NY 12180 (east of Troy, NY)

Phone: (518) 279-9267

Hours: 8:30 am to 7 pm every day except Tuesdays.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hail to the Kale


The garden keeps poking along into autumn and we are now enjoying some delicious kale. It is a little mellower after the first frost, but we have had unusually warm weather, so no hard frost yet, just some overnight temperatures just kissing the freezing mark. We haven't been able to wait to eat our kale and our brussels sprouts.

The kale is so easy to grow and is generally pest-free. To cook it up, I usually just saute some garlic and onions, then throw in some chopped kale, maybe a little water or broth, and cook it down. I like some hot sauce or red pepper flakes to counter the strong mustard taste of the kale.

You can enjoy this over rice or pasta, or toss in some cubed tofu or leftover cooked potatoes and another one-dish meal is ready!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gluten-Free Breadsticks

Inspired by the Breadstick Success of Sea at Book of Yum and having hung onto the recipe from the fabulous gluten-free NYC shrine-restaurant, Risotteria, since forever, I decided to use my holy Day of Cooking (Sunday) to whip up a batch of breadsticks to accompany a homemade vat of vegetable soup.

My first batch was based on the Risotteria recipe, which we had ingested many samples of during our February pilgrimage to Gotham. Weirdly, the batter was thin and watery and I was barely able to dribble it into breadstick semblance. They never rose in the oven and were more like floppy crackers. They would never have stood proudly upright like a true breadstick without a good dose of Viagra. Dan, however, chowed them down and told me he appreciated my efforts despite their lack of curb appeal.

I went back to the venerated Book of Yum and found that she had used a modified version of the Risotteria recipe, and with a halving of the water and proofing of the yeast, I found edible architectural success. My breadsticks, while pointed from my inept Ziploc bag/pastry bag piping skills, are proudly upright and tasted great. Only two left today for lunch.

Here's the link to the modified breadstick recipe and here it is below as well. I sprinkled McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning on some of the sticks, and Gomashio (a spice blend of sesame seeds, sea weed and sea salt, much less salty) on the other sticks. Or you could try pressing in Italian parsley leaves into your sticks as Sea does for a really beautiful effect.

Recipe: Risotteria's Gluten-Free Breadstick (Revised version)

1-1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1-1/2 cup organic brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
2 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon of dried herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Nonstick spray or vegetable oil, for greasing baking sheet and breadsticks
Fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl fitted with standard beaters (not a dough hook), rice flour, tapioca starch, dry milk powder, xanthan gum, gelatin powder, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and herbes de Provence. Mix on low speed to blend. Put yeast in 1 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees) and add sugar. Let sit for a couple of minutes. Add to dry ingrediets with olive oil and vinegar. Increase speed to high, and beat 6 minutes. (Dough will stay very soft and should not pull off sides of bowl; if necessary, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough does not resist beaters.)

2. Liberally spray or oil a baking sheet, and set aside. Put dough into a large pastry bag with a plain round 1/2 -inch tip, and pipe 12-18 breadsticks about 8 inches long, leaving about 2 inches in between. Spray or brush tops of breadsticks liberally with oil, and salt generously with fleur de sel.

3. Bake breadsticks 10 minutes, turn and spray or brush again with oil. Continue to bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Serve warm.

Yield: 12-18 breadsticks.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Southern Style Fried Fish Supper


Dan has had a longtime hankering for a mess o' fried fish, so I did a little cookbook and Internet browsing and came up with this delicious, crispy fried fish dinner (looks a LOT better in person than in the photo).

First, I made quick cole slaw in the food processor with carrots, cabbage, a small bit of onion and some parsley, mixed with mayonnaise, salt and pepper.

Then, I perused gluten-free cornbread recipes and the winning recipe (winning because I had all the ingredients on hand, minus one) turned out to be from Celiac.com. It has a cheesy center and was a nice accompaniment. You can get this recipe "Cornbread #3" on the site or as listed below:

Cheesy Cornbread

Ingredients:
1 cup yellow cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup gluten-free sour cream
1 cup corn (didn't have it on hand and made it without)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded Cheddar

Directions:
Mix together all ingredients except Cheddar. Put half of mixture into a greased 9" square pan. Sprinkle with cheese and cover with remaining mixture. Bake at 375F degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.


Now, all we needed was the perfect crispy fried fish recipe and after a little cybersurfing, I found this great, easy recipe on another gluten-free website, GF-Zing!, and things just worked out wonderfully. I used tilapia and it was wonderfully moist inside and crunchy. Again, you can check out the recipe on GF-Zing! or below:

Batter Fried Fish

Seasoning for 2 pounds fish or scallops (marinate in this mixture for 2 hours):

1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1-2 jalapenos, minced (omit if you don’t like spicy food)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)
pepper
juice of 1/4 lemon

GF-Zing recommends using hake, cod or scallops. Cut into 2 x 1 inch pieces.

Then make batter:

3/4 cup corn starch
3 Tablespoons chick pea flour (store this in the freezer)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or other seasoning
1 teaspoon coarse salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
1 Tablespoon gluten free baking powder
3 Tablespoons peanut oil
2 large eggs
3 Tablespoons cold water

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet ingredients and stir until smooth. Dip pieces of fish in the batter and fry in very hot oil (2″ deep) until golden brown. If you use a deep fryer, the result will be superior.

A little homemade tartar sauce and you're in business!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Saratoga Gluten-Free Goods



I caught up with Jeanne and Marianne of the new baking company, Saratoga Gluten Free Goods, at their post at the Gansevoort Farmer's Market (open through the rest of the month on Thursdays from 3 pm to 6 pm) and was able to scoop up the last of their wheat-free baked goods. There were two loaves of multi-grain bread, one of which I gave to my celiac buddy Lisa that night as we carpooled off in a mad dash to attend the high school open house. Dan and I have yet to sample that, but it looked nicely browned and well-risen.

Dan gave two thumbs up to the cinnamon sugar donut holes and while he didn't favor the flavor of the Lemon Parmesan crackers, I really liked them. Marianne suggested making a dinner of them with some good cheese, apples and a glass of red wine. Sounds like a plan for tonight!

You can reach Saratoga Gluten Free Goods at their email address: saratogaglutenfree@mindspring.com for more information about their baking company and where we might be able to snap up their delicious goodies after the Gansevoort Farmers Market closes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cottage Cheese Muffins

I am a fan of Heidi Swanson's great 101 Cookbooks blog. She is a cookbook author and photographer and many of her recipes are gluten-free or can be adapted to be gluten-free, so I check it out regularly. I tried her version of Rose Elliot's "Sun Dried Tomato Cottage Cheese Muffin" recipe and it was indeed delicious, but I had problems with the outer edges of the muffins sticking to the paper cupcake liners. The next time I would make these I would try greasing my muffin pans and skipping the liners to see if they work better. I also didn't have soy flour on hand and used Bob's Red Mill baking mix instead, so perhaps this provided a greater adhesive character to my dough.

Nevertheless these are delicious little treats and made a good snack and breakfast food. They are savory rather than sweet like most of their muffin cousins, and would no doubt, as Heidi points out, make great cocktail snacks for a party. You can check out the recipe on Heidi's blog (as well as many other great recipes and food porn photos) or here below. Happy baking!

Sun-dried Tomato Cottage Cheese Muffin Recipe

You can use the flour of your choice in this recipe. The original recipe calls for soy flour (great for people looking for a gluten-free option), I use white whole wheat flour - unbleached all-purpose flour will work as well. To grind the almonds I gave them a whirl in my food processor. You are looking for a flour-like consistency - be sure to stop short of turning them into an almond paste.

1 cup plain cottage cheese (low-fat is fine)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 cup flour (see headnotes)
1 cup almonds, very finely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), finely chopped
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a muffin pan with medium-sized paper baking cups, you'll need nine of them.

Put the cottage cheese into a bowl with all but 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, water, and eggs, and season with salt, then mix all together.

Spoon the mixture into the muffing cups 3/4 full, scatter with the remaining Parmesan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set, risen, and golden brown. Serve as hot or at room temperature.

Makes 9 muffins.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Top Ten Gluten-Free Eats (and One Drink)



When my husband Dan went in to the doctor to check out why he had dropped so much weight and felt so lousy, he was told at the initial visit by the amazingly brilliant Dr. Bruce Harro of Schuylerville, New York that celiac disease was a possible culprit. The Good Doctor told Dan to enjoy his breadstuffs and beer while awaiting his blood test results, because he felt strongly that he might have celiac disease. Dan glumly enjoyed his beloved dark beers on his birthday, coincidently the last day before he would hear about his test results. He moped as he munched on some pizza and crackers and mourned the fact that he might never again sip a Newcastle Brown Ale.

The next day Dr. Harro confirmed his diagnostic suspicions and our adventure in gluten-free living began. It's been a year and a half, and we are both still experimenting with recipes and new products, but we've found that it does get easier over time to read labels, maneuver the grocery aisles and cook up gluten-free grub. There is now an explosion of interest in the wheat-free diet and many more people, even in our circle of friends and family, who need to eliminate gluten from their lives. The Internet has been an inspiring fountain of information for us and in that spirit of sharing and to help us all live a happy and healthy gluten-free life, Dan and I would like to share his Top Ten List of Favorite Gluten Free Edibles (and One Potable):

1) Cheddar Cheese Flavored Nut Thins - The Blue Diamond Almond company makes a line of gluten-free crackers that are wonderfully crunchy and come in an assortment of flavors. Dan enjoys the the Cheddar Cheese Nut Thins when he has been crafty enough to remember to hide them from our kids. Look for them in the supermarket in the gluten-free section or sometimes next to the gourmet cheeses. They are also available online directly from the Blue Diamond website. When browsing the home page, just ignore the cute almond dudes in Raybans smiling out from being entombed in almonds up to their armpits. Perhaps the marketing department might want to rethink this photo. Who's eating those almonds?

2) Roasted Vegetables - Browsing the wealth of gluten-free recipes on the Internet has given us a lot of new ideas and roasting pretty much any member of the Vegetable Kingdom is now a favorite way of getting our greens. We traditionally roasted potatoes and the occasional medley of root vegetables if we were really getting down and funky, but now we have tried roasting asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, and fennel. All yummy. Toss with oil, spices, snipped fresh herbs, chopped garlic and roast in a 375 degree oven until crispy.

3) Pirate's Booty - Yarrrhhh! These all-natural cheesy puffs are made from rice and corn and won't make your arteries recoil when you open the bag. They taste like they're really bad for you, as a good snack food should, but are only 130 calories per serving if you can restrain yourself to that. Gluten-free and booty-licious! Readily available in most grocery stores in our area.

4) Gluten-Free Pastas - Our fears that we would be bereft of all our beloved pasta were put to rest when we examined the shelves of our health food store and grocery. There are lots of great gluten-free pastas made from quinoa, brown rice, corn and my favorite, those rice vermicelli noodles. You soak them in hot water to soften and then use in stir fries, soups, noodle salads and in spring rolls. They have a great texture. I find that you need to pay closer attention to the cooking times with these pasta varieties as they have a tendency to go from al dente to mushy in the blink of an eye.

5) Anything from the Garden - No need to read labels or worry about chemical sprays in the garden, everything's naturally gluten-free! We renewed our gardening efforts greatly and have tried out some new crops in keeping with our new wheatless lifestyle. I would encourage everyone to try their hand at growing their own vegetables, even if it's just a porch pot of tomatoes and basil. It's good exercise, it keeps you connected to the earth and everything tastes better when you've invested a bit of yourself in it. Few things are more heavenly than biting your own sun-warmed tomato.

6) Jennie's Macaroons - Our supermarket carries these great little macaroons in the bright yellow cannister and they are scrumptiously moist and chewy. They are just the right size for when Dan wants a sweet treat.

7) Corn Tortillas - Pop one in a buttered skillet, top with grated cheese and bits of diced onions, peppers, or tomatoes, top with another tortilla. Press down, fry for 1-2 minutes, flip and fry another 1 minute and serve them up piping hot with sour cream, guacamole and/or salsa for a fast meal.

8) Quinoa - Dan and I read about this Aztec wonder grain and then went to the health food store to invest in some for our supper. We learned not to ask for "Kee-no-ah", but "Keen-wah" after receiving some dumbfounded stares from the owner, and glad we are to be corrected, for it is a great alternative when stuck in the rice or potatoes rut. Rinse the grains to remove a naturally-occurring bitter seed coating, and then throw it into the pot with water to cover. Cook just like rice. Makes a great tabbouleh.

9) Hot Sauces - At first I worried about vinegar-based condiments because most are made with white vinegar, but lots of research and reading seems to indicate that the distillation process removes the gluten, so we've been wantonly using lots of hot stuff to spice up our gluten-free meals. The hot sauce troika ever present in our cupboards: Peewee's Green, Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce (original flavor) and Tabasco Chipotle Sauce.

10) Fresh Gingerroot - We had used fresh ginger in the past, but not as readily as we are now in the post-gluten era. We are cooking up a lot more Asian recipes and find that grating a little fresh ginger into various recipes really kicks up the flavor. We now always try to keep some on hand in the refrigerator, and it has become a staple in our pantry, just as fresh garlic is.

11) Redbridge Beer - Dan wanted me to list this first, to indicate his complete happiness at finding a gluten-free potent potable that actually tastes great. We tried some of the other small gluten-free craft beers available in our area, and they just tasted weak or strange, or both. Redbridge is a nice red ale made from sorghum and I would describe it as being similar in taste to a Killian's Irish Red Ale. It is made by Anheuser-Busch and is readily available in our area in most supermarkets.

We are still on the prowl for a really good gluten-free pizza crust recipe and for an artisan bread of architecturally resplendent proportions (stunted loaves are the order of the day out of my oven to date), but the above top ten list keeps us happy and healthy in the interim.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eggplant Parmigiana: Hold the Gluten

Eggplant Parmigiana is a family favorite, but we hadn't tried to recreate the pre-celiac version we so enjoyed because of all the bread crumbs involved. We've made ratatouille, eggplant rollantine, baba ghanoush, and other eggplant parmagiana recipes in a gluten-free mode, but we greatly missed the traditional layering of fried eggplant, marinara sauce and gooey mozzarella. After a little experimentation, I found a great way to prepare our favorite eggplant dish without the crumbs but with the same deliciousness. It helps that I used tender baby eggplants from our home garden rather than the Double D-cup wizened eggplants that one usually sees languishing in the produce aisle.

Here is a photo of this eggplant success, which I battled to take before it was wolfed down by my platoon of hungry monsters. The lovely aster and cosmos bouquet in the background harbors a Japanese beetle which I unknowingly brought in from the yard. See if you can spot him/her.

Eggplant Parmigiana

2 medium size eggplants, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick (sometimes I leave the skin on, the way I prefer it, but the other Jags don't like to eat it)
3 eggs, beaten well
4 cups marinara sauce
1 (l lb.) package of mozzarella, grated
Olive oil for frying
2/3 cup white rice flour
2/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Several sprigs fresh basil, sliced thinly

Place 1 cup of marinara in the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish and spread to cover bottom.

Mix rice flour, Parmesan, oregano and garlic powder together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Dip eggplant slices in beaten egg and then in rice flour/Parmesan mixture to coat.

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in large frying pan. Fry eggplant in batches until golden brown. I found that medium high heat worked the best in keeping the eggplant slices from sticking to the pan. The rice flour coating does not absorb as much oil as the traditional bread crumbs, so this was a heart-healthy bonus. I didn't even feel that I needed to blot the eggplant on paper towels as was absolutely necessary with the bread crumb method of yore.

Place a layer of eggplant over sauce in baking pan. Throw on 1/3 of the grated mozzarella and maybe a little extra Parmesan if so inclined. I also had some roasted tomatoes on hand that I wanted to use up, so I stuck these in too. Top with some of the basil, more marinara and then repeat layers twice more as your eggplant is fried up.

Cover pan with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour or until cheese is bubbly.

I've heard that Eggplant Parm improves with age, but leftovers don't last long in these parts.

Mangia bene.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Late Summer Garden Harvest

The garden has quieted down from its vegetable chaos of mid-summer. Vines are drying up and production is now limited to tomatoes, basil, peppers, brussel sprouts and kale. We had a lovely cucumber year and put up lots of refrigerator pickles. Our favorite cucumber variety is Suyo Long, purchased from Johnny's Seeds. It is an Asian variety with thin, but spiky skin that curls into long tendrils if you stake them. These anthropomorphic cucurbits have very small seeds and once you rinse them and slake off the spines with your hand, you don't need to peel them for eating. We enjoy them cut up with tomatoes, onions and basil for a summer salad most nights or sliced thinly and dressed with rice vinegar, a splash of sesame oil and some snipped chives. They are very prolific and thrived even during our hot and dry summer this year.

We had a lot of zucchini from our Costata Romanesco zucchini plant, but as mentioned in a previous post, probably won't grow this beautiful, ridged zucchini variety again as it picks up a lot of dirt in the ridges and has a moist blossom end that rots quickly and is frankly gross to pick. We did enjoy these zukes in a lot of sautes with our plum tomatoes, garlic and basil. We also had some volunteer yellow pattypan squashes sprung from our compost pile that went into these dinners.

I attempted a line of leeks which I had gotten as seedlings from our local garden store and they were growing nicely in their trench. I added compost each week to cover the roots as they swelled and grew, but then I started to notice that individual leeks would suddenly get yellow and dry up. I plucked them out to discover that their roots had been chomped by what I suspect are our resident lawn mole population, so I pulled the remainders out early and sauteed them up with onions and garlic and added them to various omelets and steamed vegetables. The same thing happened when I grew tulips one year; I got lovely blossoms, and then the tulips would shrink back down into the ground several inches. When tugged, they slipped right out, rootless and gnawed. Ah well, I guess I can't grow leeks in these parts.

Our tomatoes have been very abundant this year and we have eaten lots fresh, given a lot away and had lots of delightful tomato salads with and without fresh mozzarella balls (they even have tiny little mozzarellitos in our grocery store!), but always drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, sliced basil, chopped fresh garlic and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Another way we store tomatoes for the winter is to roast them in the oven and then freeze them. Here's what you do:

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Cut up a whole batch of plum tomatoes by slicing them in half, chopping off the ends and then squeezing out as much of the seeds as you can. Dump in a pot with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss tomatoes to coat them.

Place in glass baking dishes, cut side down, as close together as possible. Roast in a 200 degree oven for 5-6 hours. Tomatoes will be soft and caramelized. When cooled, you can just slip off the skins.

Pack in freezer containers with olive oil and fresh basil leaves.

When you pull these bags out on a frosty day, the fragrant smell of summer will knock you down. Use these tomatoes on pizzas, in vegetable sautes, in omelets, or whir them up with some ricotta cheese for a nice dip.

Friday, September 14, 2007

At the Zucchini Bowl


The late summer garden is pumping out its last tomatoes and peppers and zucchinis and so I turned to the Internet for summer squash inspiration and found this excellent recipe for a Grilled Zucchini and Quinoa dish. As is often the case, I did not have all of the ingredients on hand, so I riffed on this deliciousness by substituting various ingredients and the grilling part (no charcoal at home). Here's this tasty recipe Dan has dubbed Green-wah (rhymes with Quinoa).

1 avocado
juice of 1/1 lemon
1/4 cup snipped chives
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs, hardboiled and cut into quarters for garnish

1 large zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch thick coins
1 onion, chopped,
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups cooked quinoa, cooked, room temperature
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

In a blender, place avocado, lemon juice, chives, garlic, sour cream, water, and salt and whirr until well-blended.

Heat frying pan and add oil. Saute walnuts until toasted and remove with slotted spoon. Add onions and zucchini and saute until soft.

Toss quinoa with dressing, walnuts, feta, zucchini and top with egg quarters.

Serves 4 to 6.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Chocolate of the Gods


We recently spent a lovely, lazy day at Friends Lake in the Adirondacks with Dan's cousins and enjoyed a great gluten-free feast hosted by our happening hosts, Mike and Jill. Jill has recently found out that she has a gluten sensitivity, so needless to say we were madly swapping recipes and cooking/restaurant tips. Jill spoiled us all with some decadent Chocolate Brownies, for which I begged for the recipe. They are more like a silken, semi-sweet kind of fudge and have a nice Aztec hint of spice. Run to the kitchen and whip up a batch of these:

Flourless Fudge Brownies

6 large eggs, room temperature

18 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup unsalted butter

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup heavy cream

4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a 9-inch square baking pan by lining it with foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray or brushing it with vegetable oil.
  3. Melt the semisweet chocolate and the butter in a double boiler (a pan set over a hot water bath); stir until smooth.
  4. Add vanilla and cinnamon; stir thoroughly to combine.
  5. Remove mixture from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  6. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the eggs on high speed until very frothy and about triple in volume (approximately 5 minutes).
  7. Fold half of the beaten eggs into the chocolate mixture and combine.
  8. Then fold in the remaining egg.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  10. Place the pan of brownie batter into a larger pan, like a roasting pan and fill that pan with hot water half way up the side of the smaller pan containing the batter.
  11. Place the pan on the middle rack of the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  12. Turn off the oven but keep the brownies in the closed oven for another 10 minutes.
  13. After 10 minutes, remove the brownies pan from the larger water bath pan and place it on a wire rack to cool while making the glaze.
  14. To make the glaze, heat the cream and the dark chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water.
  15. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  16. Pour the hot glaze over the brownies and smooth it out with a spatula.
  17. Set the pan aside to cool completely.
  18. When cool, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  19. Cut chilled brownie into 12 squares.
  20. Brownies taste best when allowed to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gluten-Free Baked Goods at the local Farmers Market

The Gansevoort Farmers Market is a new institution this summer and has a lovely selection of vegetables, meats, and baked goods available from local vendors on Thursdays from 3 pm to 6 pm at the Village Green (corner of State Route 32 and Wilton-Gansevoort Road). I stopped by after work to catch some delicious gluten-free treats baked by Jeanne Daley and two of her buddies. I stocked up on Chocolate Chip Bars, Apple Pie Cookies, Fudge and a beautiful little loaf of French Bread which I sliced, toasted and topped with some of our garden tomatoes chopped up with some fresh garlic, basil, olive oil and vinegar. I then ran it back in the toaster oven with some grated cheese on top and what a treat for my gluten-free husband!

The Gansevoort Farmers Market will run through the end of October each Thursday and the variety gluten-free baked goods is promised to change weekly. If you are in the area, stop by and check it out!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Baking in Honor of Bette



Sea over at the delicious and detailed Book of Yum blog came up with a wonderful idea to honor the memory of the late Bette Hagman, aka the Gluten-Free Gourmet, the trail-blazing gluten-free cookbook author. Bette's cookbooks were the first we consulted when faced with Dan's celiac diagnosis and we own three of her cookbooks. Sea had the inspiration to organize a bake-off from Bette's recipes and I was delighted to try my hand at making something sweet to show her family my appreciation for all of her hard work and inventiveness in the kitchen.

I made the Mini-Sponge Cakes with Lemon Cream from her book "The Gluten-Free Gourmet Makes Desserts" which I bought as a Christmas present to myself this past year.

Thank you Bette. You made the Jagareski family's life a little sweeter.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Traveling Gluten-Free in Central Vermont



My mom came to stay with the girls for two days and two nights, so Dan and I headed off for a romantic 48-hour trip to Montpelier, Vermont. Both of us had never been there before and we love country drives, book hunting and small cities, so this turned out to be a very relaxing and interesting trip. As parents, we are also counting down the days until school starts, so it was a much-needed break.

We drove small highways into Montpelier, the state capital, which has a lovely gold-domed capitol building featuring lots of Vermont granite and marble and topped with a statue of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture. There were lots of young folks playing frisbee, reading and basking in the sun on the Capitol lawns and we joined them the next day to loll about with our books. But the first order of the day was to scout the bookstores and find some lunch. We first stopped at Bear Pond Books, a new bookstore with lots of unusual titles and a great children's section upstairs. Got a couple of great books, then headed across the street to Rivendell Books, a used bookstore with lots of new remaindered titles. Rivendell Books has the added attraction of Veruca, the resident tortoise, whom I almost stepped on while in my book trance.

Feeling faint from our biblio-exertions, we needed some lunch, so after a walk around the funky downtown we decided upon Rhapsody Natural Foods, which was so good we ate there the next night. The place is painted a vibrant orange with art and photographs along the walls and features a self-serve buffet of cold, hot and sushi delights. All food is vegetarian (except for some fish sushi) and dairy-free, and most of the buffet salads and entrees had little signs next to them indicating what ingredients they contained. Nirvana for the gluten-free diner! The chef was right there in the open kitchen, so Dan was able to ask him about what specific items were safe for him to eat. We loaded up on Caribbean-style vegetable stews, vegetable sushi, barbecued tofu, artichoke salads and many more scrumptious offerings. They do use a soy sauce which contains wheat, so Dan had to steer away from that, but at least half of the items in the Rhapsody buffet were gluten-free, so he piled his plate high and left no crumbs behind when he was done eating. Highly recommended for gluten-free diners and omnivores alike, as everything tasted fresh and vibrant and was beautiful to behold besides.

We strolled around some more in this lovely college town and checked out another great new and used bookshop, The Book Garden, where we picked up a few local history titles and chatted with the lively owner about nutrition (she's a devotee of lacto-fermentation) and things bookish. We settled into The Capitol Plaza hotel, which was a nice, clean, family-run hotel located directly across from the town's movie theatre and unfortunately also across from the City courthouse with its hourly chiming of the clocks. However, we loved the Plaza porch and settled there for a drink and people watching both evenings.

A terrible dinner ensued at Julio's Cantina (I'll spare everyone the link to this "festive", pre-packaged Tex-Mex franchise), where our waitress kept nervously laughing at all our inquiries about what menu items might be gluten-free. Dan attempted a grilled portobella mushroom (hold the bun) and the world's smallest fungus arrived on his plate, overcanopied by its garnish, along with some tasteless beans and rice. I had a tasteless, forgettable item as well, so thumbs down on this one, even if you are not dining gluten-free.

Still hungry the next morning, we rose early in search of breakfast. We would have loved to tried Kismet Cafe for some gluten-free baked products (they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays), and wistfully perused the offerings at the New England Culinary School's bakery on Main Street, but wheat was much in evidence so we had a nice egg and home fries breakfast (hold the toast) at the Coffee Corner. A busy little community diner with great eats and a good view of the breakfast grill chefs with their patterned toques.

We headed out to Plainfield, Vermont to check out The Country Bookshop, a great labyrinth of books surrounded by beautiful gardens, and then headed south to Barre, an historic granite sculpting and quarrying town, where we scrounged for books in the local thrift shops and scooped up some Vermont-made goodies at L.A.C.E., a downtown grocery, cafe, community space started up by the late and fantastic Warren Zevon's daughter, Ariel. No gluten-free baked goods in evidence, but we got some cool condiments and maple candy to bring back home.

Heading west back to Montpelier, we ended up stopping at the cool ReStore that recycles various business leftovers for people to buy and reuse. I got some homemade paper scraps to forge into bookmarks and Dan acquired some big plastic tubs to add to his collection of big plastic tubs. Oy. Then, we had a grand lunch feast at Finkerman's Barbeque Restaurant on River Street which had advertised vegetarian barbeque items in some of the hotel guides. It was fantastic. I as the omnivore had a variety of items to choose from and settled on a pulled pork with kale and coleslaw. Dan ended up selecting a pan-fried trout with sweet potato fries and something else scrumptious and the waitress and chef were solicitous in checking to see that things were prepared gluten-free and fresh to order. They were even willing to whip him up something special if the trout wasn't gluten-free. Everything was delicious and the atmosphere on the porch overlooking the Winooski River was serene. Trotter thumbs up to Finkerman's!

Another round of drinks and reading on our hotel porch ensued as we digested our fabulous lunch and then we walked around downtown Montpelier again, ending up with another great round of chow at Rhapsody Natural Foods.

All in all, a very enjoyable trip to this eclectic and picturesque college town, with lots of gluten-free, farm-fresh dining choices.

*Photo of the Montpelier State Capitol Building is courtesy of www.photoninja.com.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Canning Dilly Beans


So the dewpoint is in the 70s and it's 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside and we are all sweating just sitting still in the shade. Time to boil up a cauldron of water and start canning!

It is ironic that harvesting and storing the garden bounty must be done in the steamiest of weather, but that's when the vegetables start bounding out of the garden at a lightning clip and you can actually hear them growing when the cricket chirps die down. My friend Hope taught me how to can many years ago when I was an energetic, single young lass and I enjoyed making all kinds of weird chutneys and pickle relishes that I would give out to my bewildered relatives. "What is this and how do I eat it?" was their common reaction. Once the kids came, my canning efforts ceased, as toddlers do not allow for the long preparation, focus and boiling water dangers that is necessitated. Now the kids are older and I have time to can again.

The bean patch started to really churn last week, so I harvested up my beautiful purple string beans, snipped off their ends and prepared them to be pickled for later consumption. It is especially nice to chop up these dilled beans and sprinkle them in winter salads, when the good, fresh vegetable selection at the market is sparse. If you have never canned before, see if you can find a friend to show you the basics, as there are a lot of health issues involved with making sure every part of the canning process is sterilized. If that is not possible, I would recommend getting a copy of the Ball Blue Book, published by the good folks at the Ball Canning Jar Corporation in Muncie, Indiana. There are also a lot of Internet resources, including this article from Organic Gardening Magazine, which is a good starter course.

Here, then, is the Dilly Bean recipe from the Ball Blue Book:

Dilly Beans

2 lbs. trimmed green beans
4 heads dill
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (I like to use red pepper flakes instead)
2-1/2 cups vinegar
2-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup canning salt (don't substitute regular salt, this is chemistry!)

Pack beans lengthwise into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. To each pint, add 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1 clove garlic and 1 head dill. Combine remaining ingredients in a large sauce pot (non-reactive, like an enamel or glass pot). Bring to a boil. Pour hot liquid over beans, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust caps. Process pints and quarts 10 minutes in boiling water bath.

Yield: about 4 pints.

Happy Canning!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Rice Noodle Salad with Tofu and Nori


Hot sticky nights require easy recipes for the gluten-free cook. I whipped up this Asian-inspired cold noodle salad featuring some of my favorite sushi seasonings and it was a winner all the way around. I didn't have to slave over the proverbial hot stove other than to boil up one pot of water to soften the rice noodles. The rest of the minimal kitchen time was spent chopping and mixing. Highly recommended for dining on muggy nights with a side of sliced cucumbers in vinaigrette.

Rice Noodle Salad with Tofu and Nori

1 (6.75 oz.) pkg. rice vermicelli or maifun (rice sticks)
1/2 lb. firm tofu, cubed
4 Tbsp. gluten-free soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 sheets nori (seaweed sheets for sushi), crumbled
2 Tbsp. pickled ginger, chopped
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (black seeds add a little color)

Bring a pot of water to a boil and then turn off the heat and add rice vermicelli to soak until softened, about 5 minutes. Don't let vermicelli soften too much, you want some bite here. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

Mix remaining ingredients and blend with noodles. Chill at least one hour before serving.

A little slivered red pepper would no doubt improve this dish by adding a little color.

Serves 6.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

South-of-the-Border Zucchini Pancakes












I treated myself to a new book purchase (rare for this used bookseller, I assure you) of Donna Klein's "The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen"NY: Penguin, 2007), and am delighted. There are so many exotic and delicious-sounding recipes which will take me years to explore fully.

Given the state of our garden and the exploding zucchini patch, Dan and I made a batch of Klein's zucchini pancakes and they are wonderful. We made them on our electric non-stick griddle and topped them with a slice of cheese to melt on during the last few minutes of cooking. Based on this culinary success, we can't wait to try some other recipes from this delightful cookbook.

South-of-the-Border Zucchini Pancakes

4 medium zucchini (about 6 oz. each), grated or finely chopped
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salsa, gluten-free shredded cheese, and/or sour cream, for topping, (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the zucchini and half of the salt. Transfer to a colander and let stand for 15 minutes. Press with the back of a large spoon to squeeze out the moisture. Transfer to several layers of paper towels and squeeze to get rid of excess moisture. Return to the bowl and add the eggs, cornmeal, remaining salt, oregano, cumin and pepper, tossing until thoroughly combined.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat half of the oil over medium-high heat. Working with about half the batter, drop the zucchini mixture by the heaping tablespoons into the skillet and cook until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining oil and batter. Serve warm, with the toppings (if using).

Makes 6 servings.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The High Summer Garden




























Summer is at its apex right now and our summer gardening is pumping out the veggies. We're cooking when it's not too steamy and giving away produce to our friends, doctor and bookstore neighbors, so this is a fun time. I like to grow colorful vegetables: Royal Burgundy string beans (they are easy to pick because they are deep purple, though they magically turn green after cooking), yellow, orange and red tomatoes, purple and green basil and summer squashes of various hues. I grew a new kind of zucchini this year, Costata Romanesco, from the always reliable Johnny's Selected Seeds catalogue. I figure that if vegetables can grow in Maine, they will grow in my Zone 4 garden. However beautiful this sculptural, ribbed zucchini is, it is a little off-putting when you pick it, because the blossom end doesn't really seal off into a cute little navel but remains juicy and slimy. I think I will go back to the darker, plain old zucchini varieties next year.

We've had various vegetable sautes in recent weeks featuring this rainbow bounty. I offer a skeleton recipe which can involve many vegetable variations. Prepare as your kitchen garden, farmer's market or local supermarket allows:

Vegetable Saute

1. Heat olive oil in pan.

2. Throw in chopped garlic and stir 1 minute. Don't use high heat, or garlic will burn and turn bitter.

3. Add chopped onions and saute until softened.

4. Add hard vegetables (string beans, zucchini, patty pan squash, peppers, carrots, celery, etc.). Saute until softened.

5. Add chopped tomatoes and any other liquid you might like (vegetable broth, wine, tomato juice). Bring to boil and then cover and simmer until vegetables are softened to your taste.

6. Season with salt, pepper, chopped fresh herbs and any other seasonings you prefer. Grated cheese is wonderful served on top too.

Always a winner!