Friday, February 27, 2009

A Salad of Salted Seaweed Knots

Trying saying that ten times fast. Well, the experimentation continues with the edible "toys" acquired in my recent expedition to some of Albany, New York's ethnic markets. One of these intriguing edibles was a package of salted seaweed knots. The instructions were somewhat open-ended on the preparation of this product ("boil and use in your favorite recipes"), so I did a little online research and found this recipe for Salted Seaweed Salad with Lemon and Freshly Grated Ginger, which I followed and enjoyed.

You must rinse and soak the seaweed according to the recipe, and I also made sure to boil the seaweed knots as directed by my package instructions too. This step filled my house with a briny scent of ocean water, not unlike steaming a big pot of clams, so it was sort of like getting immersed in a little bit of summer even though the icy fist of winter has been throttling us since the beginning of December here in upstate New York. The seaweed knots expanded a great deal and of course, got a softer texture, though they were still fairly springy and chewy. One needs good, strong choppers for this dish.

The volume of my 300 gram package of salted seaweed grew exponentially after the boiling water bath, and while Dan and I enjoyed this refreshing Japanese-flavored salad, we were satisfied with eating two or three knots at a clip and so this seaweed salad lasted well over a week in our refrigerator, and we ended up getting a little sick of having it around.

The final verdict: We might make this recipe again if we were going to bring it to a party of appreciative gourmets, but we have a limited desire to eat a whole mound of it. The knots are really quite jaunty and it makes a lovely presentation, but it ended up being too much of a good thing for our two tummies (the kids wouldn't even try a nibble, though they love nori and my Sushi Salad).

I'm going to send my leftovers over to Laurie at Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska, this week's host of Weekend Herb Blogging, the popular foodie blog event that celebrates vegetables, fruits and herbs. Weekend Herb Blogging was started by Kalyn's Kitchen and is now headquartered by Haalo at Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once. Hop on over to see Laurie after Sunday's deadline to see what other interesting recipes people have contributed in the weekly WHB roundup.

Off to play with some other exotic edibles...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater Salad

The Leftover Queen has once again summoned her courtiers for a Royal Foodie Joust and this time the three ingredients which must be alchemized into something delicious include edible flowers, shallots and setsumas (or other orange citrus). This trio of ingredients has proven once again to be a challenge to the Crispy Cook, especially as it is the middle of an especially harsh and icy winter here in upstate New York and I don't anticipate any flowers to nosh on until at least Mother's Day when my purple and white violets and chive blossoms will bloom in the garden and lawn.

Originally I planned to force some Chinese chives to blossom by planting them in a pitcher of water, which I refreshed daily for a week, until I gave in to the forces of nature (and the ravages of two naughty chive-chomping felines) and realized that they would just dry out and sag before they bloomed. These chives were beautiful specimens from my recent discovery of Lee's Market in Albany, with triangular stems and a garlicky scent and flavor.

I was not sure that a bunch of wizened chive buds would qualify as flower, so I ransacked the Crispy Cupboards to see what other floral edibles might be lurking about, and then I spied a bottle of rosewater which I had purchased recently and figured I could put together a perfumed salad of greens, chopped chives (and withered blossoms!), orange sections and rosewater vinaigrette. It was quick and easy and I thought it was really savory. My husband was less impressed with having a salad that smelled like a rosebush, but I thought it was delightful and somewhat Middle Eastern.

Here, then, I present to you and my Queen, an elegant salad, with literary tribute to Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. for extra delectability:

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater Salad

2 cups romaine lettuce, washed, dried and sliced
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 orange, peeled and pith removed, and sliced into chunks
2 Tbsp. dried cranberries or Craisins
1/4 cup snipped Chinese Chives and withered blossoms
2 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly and separated into rings


1/2 cup light vegetable oil (don't use olive oil or other strong-flavored oil as this will dilute the perfume of the rosewater)
1/4 cup rosewater
1/4 cup rice vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Arrange romaine on salad plates. Adorn with mushrooms, oranges, dried cranberries shallots and chives.

Blend together dressing ingredients and sprinkle over salad. Remaining dressing should be capped to retain rosewater perfume. It was delightful over cooked rice the next day for a quick salad.

Makes 2 salads.

Do check back with the Leftover Queen at the end of the month to see what other edible flowers will grace the Royal Table.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Culinary Tour Around the World: Ethiopia

Joan at Foodalogue continues her great blog event to promote awareness of world hunger and the work of BloggerAid with her virtual culinary trip around the world. Our last stop was Ethiopia, an ancient culture with a spicy and complex culinary tradition. I was determined to research Ethiopian food and make a meal for my family to introduce us all to this country and culture and it proved an interesting and tasty experiment.

I found a great website with lots of Ethiopian recipes tailored for American home cooks and decided to make injera (a spongy, fermented bread made from the tiny native grain, teff) and two kinds of vegetarian stews to place on top: Doro Wat (spicy tomato sauce with tofu cubes, traditionally made with chicken or beef) and Atar Allecha (a spicy green pea porridge).

I attempted to make injera, which serves as a sort of edible platter for moister stews and foods. I got some teff from the health food store and soaked it in water for three days to try to get it fermenting, but somehow it never got to the sour-smelling, pancake stage and just ended up smelling very swampy and suspect, so I was forced to abandon that part of my project. (In hindsight, I suspect that teff and teff flour are two different items).

The Tofu Dorwat and Atar Allecha were mercifully easier to reproduce and my husband and I especially liked the latter, an intriguingly-flavored peas porridge hot. Instead of injera for our base, we had plain steamed rice, and enjoyed it very much.

Joan will be posting a roundup of other Ethiopian recipes in a few days, so do look for that. I also wanted to let people know that the BloggerAid group, now comprised of over 140 bloggers from around the world, is preparing a fundraiser cookbook for the UN World Food Programme's School Meals initiative. School Meals provides meals to hungry children all around the globe and the extended deadline to submit an original recipe is now March 31st. Please consider joining us. For a sneak peak at some of the dishes that will be included, check out this sexy badge below:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tracking Down Exotic Ingredients in the Albany Capital District

Dan and I had a delightful day in Albany poking around the Historic Albany Foundation Warehouse and Silver Fox for historic hinges and other architectural parts for our perpetual home renovation project. We found a few treasures and then wanted to hunt down some lunch and to explore a couple of the ethnic food markets we found on this cool list.

When you explore the world of gluten-free cooking, there are always some funky ingredients and special flours that require detective work, but we found two fantastic local markets that provided us with bags of inexpensive, yet hard-to-find, ingredients for many kitchen experiments to come.

We ended up first at Lee's Market, at 1170 Central Avenue and had a blast. It was not as hard to search for gluten-free foods with new allergen label requirements, though Dan made sure to bring his reading glasses Not having a working knowledge of any Asian language is a little daunting when scanning labels in Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and other unfamiliar Asian alphabets, but we had plenty of time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we prowled the shelves. The fresh produce was just great, with lots of Asian greens, unfamiliar fruits and interesting-looking knobs and tubers in abundance. Lee's has a pretty fishy smell from the seafood counter, where logy crabs waved their claws slowly in the air from baskets on the floor and many varieties of fish and shellfish languished on crackd ice.

Next time we would bring a cooler to scoop up some cleaned squid or something from the freezers and refrigerator cases, though we will avoid the numerable varieties of wheat gluten, to be sure. Sweets lovers will love the aisles of Japanese candies and biscuits, but we mostly stocked our shopping cart with condiments, flours and canned goods.

Lee's was a fantastic shopping bargain. We filled six grocery bags for $62 and found many things to experiment with since the prices were so cheap: bay leaves, sweet potato starch, mung bean flour, bonito flakes, shallots ($1.25 for a small sack of about 25 shallots!), rice noodles of all kinds, pickled ginger, nori, various kinds of flavored and fried tofu, and sesame oil (12 oz. for only $3.00, instead of $4.50 for a smaller bottle!). Here's some of our Lee's Market Treasures:

We were excited to check out one more ethnic market before going home and headed further east to India Bazaar at 1321 Central Avenue (near the renowned Kurver Kreme ice cream stand). This was another bargain spot, this time with no meat or fish counter, but with a lovely selection of exotic vegetables: bitter melons, fresh curry leaves, okra, a bodacious assortment of eggplants and loads and loads of spices and all kinds of lentils, beans and other pulses. Interestingly, there were only male shoppers in attendance and everyone seemed to fall silent when we entered the shop, but the shopkeeper was friendly and helpful and gave me some cooking tips for those yardlong beans I grew last summer.

Again, another bargain, with four bags for $48, as displayed here by your friendly Bollywood hand model:

That night I was somewhat overwhelmed playing around with all my new toys, but I ultimately selected a crisp bunch of a flowering pac choi variety which I wokked up with a brown sauce. Pac choi is an Asian green that has fleshy stems and dark green leaves and is a great cool weather garden crop. It is a member of the cabbage family and is rich in fiber, calcium and Vitamins A and C. I've grown other varieties of bok choy in the garden and they are ridiculously easy to grow, as long as you harvest them before the hot, humid weather sets in, as they tend to bolt.

Without further ado, here's my recipe for using this architecturally-beautiful, healthy, tasty, Asian vegetable:

Braised Pac Choi with Mushrooms

1 (1.5 lb.)bunch pac choi (bok choy), washed and trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths
6 dried shitaki mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes, liquid reserved
4 shallots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 (one inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3 Tbsp. peanut oil

3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. honey
1 cup vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Mix together soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and vegetable stock (use mushroom soaking liquid as part of vegetable stock). Mix cornstarch with a couple of Tablespoons of this sauce in a separate bowl and blend until smooth. Mix back into remaining sauce and stir until smooth. Set aside.

Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallots and ginger and stir fry several minutes, or until ginger and garlic are golden. Add pac choi and stir around wok several minutes or until wilted. Chop mushrooms and add to pan and stir fry another several minutes. When greens are crisp-tender, add sauce and stir several minutes more, or until thickened.

Serve over hot rice.

Serves 6.

I've been busy with some other new ingredients from our Albany foray and will post some other recipes soon. In the meantime, I'm sending a bowl of this saucy pac choi to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Susan, the Well-Seasoned Cook, and which is now permanently headquartered at Haalo's tasty blog, Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once. Susan will have a roundup of posts featuring veggies, fruits and herbs after the Sunday evening deadline, and I always learn a lot and bookmark a few recipes from this event.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to Make Gluten-Free Veggie Burgers

My husband Dan has been on a quest for the perfect gluten-free bean burger. There are many veggie burgers out there gathering ice crystals in grocery freezers but most are not gluten-free and of the safe remainder, many are unfortunately also taste-free. Since we have been growing a plentiful crop of soybeans over the last several garden seasons, we have bags of frozen blanched soybeans in the freezer and bags more dried soybeans in the cupboard.

Dan's been doing a little gastronomic experimentation and found a tasty soybean burger recipe that he's been slamming down for lunch quite often. It does take a lot of time to make the GF buns, make a batch of homemade barbecue sauce and cook and process the beans. It is the slowest of slow food, but these are some tasty burgers! You need an overnight to cook the beans and about 3.5 hours of prep time, so save it for a day when you can luxuriate in the kitchen.

Dan's Famous GF Veggie Burgers

1 cup dried soybeans
2 bay leaves

2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (Dan used Orgran GF crumbs)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 cup thin barbeque sauce (we used Dad's special recipe)

Place soybeans in crockpot with water to cover (we used our little 1 quart crockpot and add 3 cups water) and cook overnight or at least 8 hours, or until beans are tender. You may need to check the crockpot and add a little water, if necessary.

In a food processor, combine soybeans and eggs. Puree until fairly smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well blended.

Place in bowl and cover and chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours.

When ready to cook up bean burgers, shape into eight patties and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Baste burgers with barbeque sauce and bake 1 hour, carefully turning and basting burgers every 15 minutes to give them crispy, crusty edges. They are a little delicate, so turn with care.

Makes 8 luscious bean burgers.

Dan likes them on a split Crusty French Roll (recipe is in Bette Hagman's "The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread") with lettuce, cheese, home-canned sweet cucumber relish and more of Dad's barbeque sauce on the side. Now that's eatin'!

I'm contributing this Veggie Burger recipe to The Well Seasoned Cook's Eighth Helping of "My Legume Love Affair", a popular food blog event that celebrates those tasty, healthy, frugal legumes that we should all celebrate on our plates more often. Susan is the Well Seasoned Cook and she is accepting recipes for MLLA until February 28th, so feel free to join in the fun with a beany recipe until then.

Monday, February 9, 2009

101 Gluten-Free Food Blogs

Last June I posted a synopsis of 70 or so gluten-free blogs and have since kept updating the list on the Crispy Cook 2 as I have become aware of new GF bloggers that have entered the scene.

Below is my list of mini-reviews of these wonderful resources now that the list has topped the hundred mark. Each brings a different perspective to world of gluten-free cooking, whether they live in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Europe, Australia or other part of the world. Some are young singles sharing restaurant reviews and their first forays into cooking for themselves; others are parents in need of kid-friendly recipes; some have multiple food allergies; some are expert bakers and some are adventurous cooks dipping into the world's cuisines. Whatever your cooking style, you are sure to find some kindred spirits on this list to help with menu planning.

I have used this list to help me select different bloggers for the Book of Yum's frequent Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger event and have enjoyed cooking up recipes from Jeena's Kitchen (Onion Bhajis), Gluten-Free South Africa (Panforte and Zucchini Madeleines), Gluten A Go Go (Coca-Cola Cake), Brownie Tart (GFCF Experience), A Gluten Free Day (Baked Rice Paper Rolls), Fresh Ginger (Lard Nah), Chickpea Crackers (Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen) and Sea at the Book of Yum herself (Cilantro Chutney). All delicious!

If you are a new gluten-free blogger who would like to be added to this list in the future, please leave a comment below and I'll be sure to visit your blog soon.

I hope this list and summary helps others who enjoy a gluten-free life. I know I am grateful for all the camaraderie, recipes and information I have gleaned from the fantastic and supportive Gluten-Free blogging community when we needed to "retool" three years ago with my husband's celiac diagnosis. Hope you find some new friends and new favorite recipes among the following:

Absolutely Not Martha - Jackie blogs about La Vida Gluten-Free, fashion, recipes, and GF celebrities. She also runs Vanilla Spoons, a GF gift basket company.

Aprovechar - Sally's got lots of healthy, gluten and other allergen-free recipes and meal plans, along with a dollop of contemplative essays about women's health and the importance of nurturing one's self.

The Art of Gluten-Free Cooking - Blog host Karen specializes in gluten-free desserts and has lots of stunning art and poetry to accompany her recipes.

Asparagus Thin - Manda is a Philadelphian and gluten-free, vegetarian blogger. Baking is her passion.

The Baking Beauties
- Jeannine is a Manitoba Mom who knows her way around the kitchen and is navigating a new gluten-free lifestyle just, well, beautifully! Great baking recipes and photos.

Baking for John - A non-celiac wife learning how to bake gluten-free for her celiac husband. Hmmm. That sounds familiar!

Baking Love - This gluten-free baker not only knows how to make scrumptious gluten-free baked goods, but she makes them look like they came in a pretty white box tied up with string from a professional bakery. Awesome.

Book of Yum
- Vegetarian with some fish and seafood recipes added, this blog features a lot of Asian recipes and recipes that are not only gluten-free, but dairy and egg free. Book of Yum also has a lot of raw food and vegan recipes to try and is the home of the monthly Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger Event.

Celiac Chicks - These New York City gals know where all the good gluten-free restaurants, delis, pizzerias and foodie havens are and also dish out good gluten-free advice about travel. If you sign up for their email newsletter you can also enter contests for free gluten-free products.

Celiacs in the House - A thrifty mom of two teenagers (now that sounds familiar!) in Columbus, Ohio reports on her gluten-free home cooking experiments and thrifty meal ideas.

Celiac Teen - Lauren's a Canadian teenager interested in good food and fashion.

Cindalou's Kitchen Blues - Cindalou has a clean and well laid-out blog featuring gluten-free, dairy-free and pareve recipes, with healthy eating as the primary focus.

Crazy Orange Turtle - Canadian Shauna is a plant scientist, cat lover and lives the gluten-free life with lots of slow-cooked Dulce de Leche.

The Crispy Cook - Hey, that's my blog! Gluten-free and mostly vegetarian recipes, with the occasional fish and seafood recipe. Some product reviews, gardening posts and other fun stuff.

Daring to Thrive - Lauren's finishing up her PhD in social psychology in the Portland, Oregon area and reports of gluten-free recipes and doings in the Portland area.

Deliciously Gluten Free - Blog host Vittoria is a jewelry designer in New York City who frequents the farmer's markets for fresh, naturally gluten-free meals.

Delightfully Gluten Free - Cassandra is actively involved with the North Texas Gluten Intolerance Group and shares her recipes, posts about celiac disease and product/restaurant reviews.

Don't Need No Stinkin' Wheat - This California grad student dishes up lots of fabulous food that is gluten- and lactose-free.

Easy Gluten-Free Baking - Elizabeth Barbone, author of the "Easy Gluten-Free Baking" cookbook maintains this blog about baking tips and updates on her gluten-free baking classes and other information.

Elana's Pantry - Elana's a Little League baseball coach and Boulder, Colorado businesswoman whose elegant site promotes gluten-free cooking, healthy homemaking and environmentally-friendly information.

Everyday Gluten Free
- Sarah has been living gluten-free since 2007 and shares her recipes and frugal shopping advice.

Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen
- While not a gluten-free blog per se, there is a wonderful archive of gluten-free recipes on this popular food blog.

Faking it Gluten Free Style - Who can resist a blog with Betty Boop as the mascot? Great recipes abound on this excellent blog.

For the Love of Food
- Noosh is the host of this gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free and soy-free blog with excellent recipes, including Persian culinary delights.

Free From - Lucy is a U.K. mother of three, one of whom is a celiac, and has years of experience documented in this blog about the gluten-free lifestyle, product reviews, and resource links.

Fresh Ginger - Ginger is a wheat-free, but not totally gluten-free blog (she can tolerate spelt) with loads of fabulous farm-fresh and international recipes. Look for her Appetizer and Cocktail Recipes of the Week. Awesome photography to boot!

The GFCF Experience - Blog host Thomas is a Montana father of four who feeds his family a gluten-free, casein-free diet. You'll find lots of great recipes, information about Autism Spectrum Disorder and parenting anecdotes.

Ginger Lemon Girl - Carrie is from North Carolina and has a particular penchant for gluten-free baking. She also hosts a Gluten-Free Girl interview feature which showcases other gluten-free bloggers and a Kid-Friendly Fridays event for gluten-free goodness that kids will lap up.

Gluten A Go Go - Sheltie Girl is a Westchester County, New York baker extraordinaire whose experiments with various wheat-free flours, thickeners and binders are inspirational and beautiful.

Gluten-Free Bay - Isaiah in upstate New York cooks up wonderful gluten-free food with an emphasis on heart-healthy recipes and food that is Ashkenazi Jewish, Ethiopian and Indian. Awesome stuff.

Gluten Free Cooking for a Busy Mom - I would agree that being the mom of four boys might tend to make one busy! Jen is a Wisconsin mom with lots of homestyle recipes to share.

Gluten Free Cooking School - Mary Frances has a tasty blog of recipes and wonderfully detailed cooking lessons for the beginning or advanced gluten-free cook.

A Gluten-Free Day - Wonderful gluten-free recipes and ethereal photography.

Gluten-Free Foodie - Cat is a Colorado writer and former culinary student who has been gluten-free and casein-free for a year and a half.

Gluten Free for Good - Melissa is a nutritional therapist who blogs about the healthiest gluten-free recipes. Wonderful advice and information with the added bonus of lovely food photography.

Gluten Free Frugal - Here's a budget-conscious mom chronicling the gluten-free life with little kids in South Dakota.

Gluten-Free Fun - Erin is a New York City resident who has lived gluten-free with gusto for 25 years! You can find product and restaurant reviews, recipes, and other information.

Gluten Free Gastronaut - Lynn is a Decatur, Georgia student and adventurous gluten-free cook.

Gluten-Free Girl - Shauna James Ahern married the Chef, published a book and is expecting a baby, all in one year. Her blog is more essay than recipe heavy, but when the recipes come, they are perfect and seasonally fresh. Make sure to buy her book, "Gluten-Free Girl", or make your local library buy it.

Gluten Free Gobsmacked - This girl Cheekalina can cook! Lots of great recipes for everyday comfort foods to the wildly exotic to all kinds of baking.

Gluten Free Goodness - Cheryl is an Alexandria, Virginia dietician whose blog features her tasty experiments in gluten-free and other allergen-free cooking.

Gluten-Free Greenie
- Wendy is an artist from North Carolina who provides delicious GF recipes and information about gluten-free dining and products in the Raleigh-Durham region.

Gluten-Free Guide - A stylish blog about life as a celiac with lots of recipes, travel tips, essential posts about Thanksgiving and cupcakes, and product/restaurant reviews.

Gluten-Free Hippie - Lyra resides in British Columbia, Canada and her beautiful blog is gluten-free and features scrumptious vegan and raw recipes.

Gluten Free in Cleveland
- Dana's started a new blog about gluten-free dining options in the Cleveland, Ohio area and dispenses some tasty recipes and photos.

Gluten Free in Georgia (and Florida)- I guess I can't say it any better than Ginger in describing her blog, "Adventures in Gluten Freedom with a Crazy Southern Blogger Chick". Decadently good gluten-free and sugar-free recipes, witty writing and lots of fun and useful GF information from this Mass Communications Professor.

Gluten-Free in the Greens - Follow this blog by a Vermont school teacher for great eats and gluten-free travel advice.

Gluten-Free in the Shaolin
- Kerrie shows us how to cook lots of great Italian dishes and other deliciousness from her Staten Island Shaolin, er, kitchen.

Gluten Free Journey - Dianne in the U.K. dishes about cooking gluten-free and experiments with lots of international cuisines.

Gluten-Free Kathy - The accent is on healthy eating for an active lifestyle on Kathy's blog.

Gluten Free Kay - She's a gardener, cook and excellent food photographer. Kay's gluten-free and has other food allergies, so check out this blog for lots of beautiful, tasty options if you or someone you cook for has a restricted diet.

Gluten Free LA
- Jennifer shares gluten-free recipes and dining opportunities in the Los Angeles, California area.

Gluten Free Mommy - Natalie is the North Carolina mom of two cute young sons and has lots of great, family-friendly recipes to share. She is also an incredible baker and the founder of the weekly Gluten-Free Menu Swap.

Gluten Free Momsense - Great parenting tips, recipes and resources from this Frederick, Maryland mom.

Gluten Free Saratoga - Suzanne in Saratoga Springs, New York, dishes out great recipes, tips on gluten-free eateries and groceries in Saratoga County and other interesting tips.

Gluten Free South Africa - Irish-born Aylena lives in South Africa and blogs about the gluten-free life in the Southern Hemisphere with lots of tasty recipes.

Gluten Free Sox Fan - She's a lawyer married to an Aussie and has some really great recipes, including a homemade mushroom ravioli with pesto.

Gluten Free Steve - Steve gives out the skinny on gluten-free products, recipes, and restaurant/eatery reviews for those in the Denver, Colorado area.

Gluten Free Wiggs - Jacie is an Ontario, Canada artist and inspired cook. Lots of great paintings on her blog.

Gluten Hates Me, But I'm Surviving -Marlow is a Southern gal who's having way to much fun in the kitchen cooking great gluten free foods and inventing cool new kinds of martinis.

The Gluti Girls - A mother-daughter blogging team with lots of luscious recipes.

Going Gluten-Free - This Pennsylvania homeschooling mother of three dishes out her gluten-free recipes.

The Good Eatah - Life with this Massachusetts native involves gluten-free, dairy-free cooking, in between skydiving and biking trips.

Good Without Gluten - Jeff in North Carolina appreciates good food and has a great recipe blog. The polenta recipes are my favorites.

Grain Damaged - A Portland, Oregon gluten-free support group with great information on area restaurants, bakeries and gluten-free hot spots.

Great Mastications - Torontonian Orla follows a gluten-free, legume-free, tomato-free and dairy-free diet, and the results are's delicious!

Hey, That Tastes Good!- Jill lives in Philadelphia and blogs about local gluten-free eateries and has some excellent recipes, as well as the occasional gluten-free travel report from Slovakia.

Hold the Gluten - Maureen is a New Jersey mom with lots of witty information and mouthwatering recipes about life on planet celiac. She even does podcasts...whoa!

I Am Gluten Free - Ellen is a musician and excellent cook, judging from the delectable range of gluten-free recipes on her popular blog.

It's Just Not Dinner Without Cat Hair - In our household it's all about the dog hair (St. Bernard-Golden Retriever), but Sheri concocts some wonderful gluten-free recipes, particularly for baked goods, interspersed with cute pix of her cat and dog menagerie.

Jeena's Kitchen - Jeena is a U.K. food blogger with a ton of gluten-free recipes in her index. Her focus is healthy and fresh food, with an emphasis on Indian recipes. My family is hooked on her Onion Bhajis recipe and all the variations with other vegetables that we cook up.

Karina's Kitchen - Karina is the Gluten-Free Goddess, whose blog reflects her background as an artist and writer, with lots of gorgeous food photography. Karina's gluten-free and other allergy-friendly recipes have a Southwestern flavor and a focus on fresh and natural ingredients.

Kat's GF Kitchen - Albany, New Yorker Kat has a husband who has recently gone gluten-free and this blog chronicles her cooking adaptations and experiments.

Kill.the.gluten - Two sisters in law cook gluten-free in a stylish and tasty manner and also offer good gluten-free product reviews.

Lea is Gluten-Free - Lea lives in Western New York on a farm with lots of animals of all kinds and cooks up some wonderful things to eat. I've bookmarked quite a few of her recipes.

Life Gluten Free - A gluten-free blogger mom with an emphasis on sugar-free and healthy cooking and eco-friendly lifestyle tips.

Lilac Kitchen - A blogger over in the U.K. whose lovely pastel purple kitchen inspires her to bake up scrumptious and Daring things.

Li Loves David - Somewhere in the Southeastern U.S., Li blogs about her gluten-free world as a celiac, with the occasional scrumptious recipe.

Life After Gluten - Denver, Colorado pastry chef Tiffany learns to live La Vida Gluten Free after a celiac disease diagnosis. Great recipes and travel tips on dining safely in Mexico.

Make Mine Gluten-Free - Another Coloradan named Tiffany has good information about gluten-free products and eateries.

Mrs. G.F. - Lots of great recipes for kids and for easy, tasty meals from the Slacker Mom.

Only Sometimes Clever - An Arizona homeschooling mom who blogs about the gluten-free lifestyle, books, GF products and hiking.

Pig in the Kitchen - This U.K. pig is one of the funniest food writers out there and her recipes for her family of many allergies are great to boot. Throw in some great food photos and it's a blog party!

Please Don't Pass the Nuts - This New York City psychotherapist and social worker shares recipes and lifestyle advice for gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, sugar-free, lactose-free and other -free diets.

Rachel's Recipe Box - This New England homeschooling mommy's blog contains a wealth of gluten-free, dairy-free recipes and advice about healthy living.

Radish Boy - A mom's blog about trying out recipes to feed her multiply-allergic son.

The Sensitive Baker - The blog attached to the gluten-free, kosher and allergy-friendly Culver City, California bakery.

So Familiar a Gleam - This Rochester, New York lady was raised in a bake shop and dreams about opening an allergen-free bakery some day. Until then, feast your eyes on her great recipes.

Sorry I Can't Eat That - Allie in Western Massachusetts gives out advice on gluten-free groceries, restaurants and other places.

The Spunky Coconut
- A Colorado mom and food coach/personal cook that specializes in gluten-free and allergen-free cooking dishes out some great, healthy recipes.

Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried - Naomi over in England is a homeopath and her recipes for lovely, healthy and kid-friendly treats are spectacular. She also started the blogging event, Go Ahead, Honey, It's Gluten-Free, to inspire theme-based gluten-free recipe roundups.

Strawberries are Gluten Free - A Canadian mom of three young kids and a celiac husband who shares her family-friendly recipes and menus.

Sugar and Spice - A Boston girl who likes to cook, read nonfiction, kick box and watch the Red Sox.

Sure Foods Living
- Alison, a California mom and her partners maintain a excellent informational blog about living gluten-free and avoiding other food allergens.

La Tartine Gourmande - French ex-pat Bea (accent aigue in there over the e) is a food and travel writer/photographer, whose blog is achingly beautiful. Find over 100 gluten-free recipes in her recipe index.

Trav's Gone Gluten-Free - Philadelphian Travis explores the gluten-free world, with many recipes and reviews of gluten-free beers and other products.

Triumph Dining - The publishers of the "Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide" and Grocery Guide have a blog packed with tips about finding gluten-free food throughout the U.S.

The Vegetarian Celiac - This Cincinnati, Ohio teacher offers meatless and wheatless recipes, the occasional gluten-free menu and some poems. Delightful.

Wheatless Bay - Adventures in international cuisine is trademark for this ex-pat Canadian blogger. Try some of her Uzbek, Belarussian, or Tamil gluten-free recipes!

A Year of Crockpotting - Stephanie is the hilarious, gluten-free chef who has a strong attraction to her herd of crock pots--but she's OK with that. A funny and tasty food blog which started on January 1, 2008 with a new crock pot recipe each day in 2008 and the occasional entry thereafter.

This list is just an appetizer, there are so many other great gluten-free food bloggers out there that I haven't had time to taste and more sprout each day. If you have a gluten-free food blog that you would me to sample and add to this blogroll, feel free to leave a comment and I'll get to it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Blasphemous Bowl of Red: My Baked Bean Chili Recipe

Over on my bookstore blog, The Book Trout, I recently reviewed the classic chilihead bible "A Bowl of Red" by Frank X. Tolbert. It was a fun and informative book, full of culinary history about the development of and different species of chili, and I would recommend it to other foodie bibliophiles. There are lots of tales about crusty chuckwagon cooks, "son-of-a-bitch" stew (it's offal), ethnobotanical aspects about hot chili peppers and "paper napkin" restaurant reviews.

With the continued cold weather forecast by that diabolical Pennsylvania groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, (Crockpot Groundhog Chili, anyone?) I was inspired to whip up a batch of chili to warm my family up. With the vegetarian emphasis among the Crispy Crew, however, I did not try to reproduce Texas minimalist chili (beef, hot peppers, spices) but a beanier variety that would clean out my cupboards and freezer. Alas, I had no dried beans or even cans of cooked beans to work with, but I did have a large can of baked beans in the pantry left over from a summer side dish I forgot to cook up when we were entertaining. I'm not a huge baked bean fan, as I don't like their sweetness, but I did a little experimenting and raised the heat factor some, and the result was pronounced delicious by my Upstate New York cowpokes, so here it is in all its glory. Just don't serve it up to any Texans.

Blasphemous Baked Bean Chili

Baked Bean Chili

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 zucchini, trimmed and sliced into half moons

3 Tbsp. hot pepper sauce
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
2 cups frozen or canned corn
1 (28 oz.) can baked beans
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add garlic and onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add green pepper, cumin and coriander and cook, stirring, another 3-4 minutes. Add zucchini slices and cook, stirring, another 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, except for pumpkin seeds, and bring to boil. Cover and let simmer about 20 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper and extra hot sauce to taste. At the last minute, add pumpkin seeds and serve.

Garnish with sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese and a squirt of lime juice.

Serves 6-8.

A great chili to slap together on a busy night from the pantry and freezer. Some of the beans melt into the chili sauce and thicken it up nicely and some stay whole for texture. If I had a can of green chiles I would have added them too.

I'm sending over a bowl of this chili to my Cook the Books blogger buddy Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her weekly Souper Sunday roundup and a second bowl to Gloria of Foods and Flavors of San Antonio for her February Chili Cook-Off, both convivial and satisfying food blog events.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cilantro and Dill: Double Agents in the Garden

Cilantro and dill are two herbs that I have not had to replant for several gardening seasons. They grow so quickly that I have a hard time keeping up with the harvest of their aromatic green leaves and they reseed themselves throughout my untidy, yet productive garden beds of mixed herbs, veggies and flowers. I like to wait each spring to see where they (and an unending tangle of red poppies from a packet of seeds sown at least 8 years ago) will sprout.

This vexes my gardening partner, husband Dan, to no end, so he resorted several years ago to planting his own highly organized, well-edged garden. Where he sees weeds, I see delight in "volunteer" plants that spring unbidden from my soil. Where he sees order in straight, string-straightened rows of vegetables, I see wasted time in planting. His and Hers gardens seem to be equally productive, so we just raise an eyebrow, shake our heads at the other's gardening style and tend our own.

Back to my disorderly garden patch. The cilantro is harvested by washing, snipping and drying the green fronds. I then either freeze them in little baggies as is or mix up some cilantro chutney to freeze in ice cube trays. The frozen chutney cubes are then popped out and put in a baggie for easy access. The chutney cubes are great thawed and mixed with yogurt for a quick raita or used as is for a deceptively cool-looking condiment on the dinner plate.

When I forget about my cilantro patch for a couple of days in midsummer they plants quickly set up seeds, which are also welcome in the kitchen. Cilantro seeds are coriander, which can be used whole in pickles and curries, or can be ground to use in any number of spicy dishes. The seeds need to be thoroughly dried and then I store them in a glass jar, to be ground up as needed in the cheapo coffee grinder I have reserved just for grinding spices. Freshly ground coriander has a much more lemony scent than the store-bought jars of ground coriander.

The same gardening and harvesting methods are used for my never-ending dill patch. Fresh dill is put up in the freezer and thaws quickly to be used in dips, fish recipes, cucumber salads and as a garnish. Once again, my many mobile dill plants seem to grow overnight from fresh green fronds to the leggy, woody stalk stage so I let the heads develop and dry. Some dill heads are used when I put up refrigerator cucumber pickles and the rest are divested of their seeds, spread to dry on a cookie sheet in a sunny window and then stored in a glass jar.

We have an abundance of dill seeds right now, which are used in bread recipes and the occasional sauteed cabbage, but I could use some other recipes featuring dill seeds. Feel free to send me some recipes or links so I can reduce my stash of dill seeds.

I am sending this post over to Weekend Herb Blogging #169, which is hosted this week by the Daily Tiffin. Weekend Herb Blogging is an always enlightening, always delicious blog event hosted by Haalo at Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once, from sunny, hot Melbourne, Australia. Check back with the Daily Tiffin after Sunday's deadline to see what awesome cooks from around the world have to offer from their gardens, markets and kitchens.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Revisiting Mussels for A Culinary Tour Around the World

During the first blush of our courtship, I invited my future husband over for dinner to dine on mussels in some kind of creamy, garlicky French sauce. It wasn't until much later that he informed me about how revolting he found this particular dish. I was really surprised, since we had begun our romance in an Albany, New York tavern league (he was a baseball pitcher on the men's team, while I was a catcher on the ladies' softball team) where post-game drinking involved not a small number of beers accompanied with steamed clams.

Clams and mussels are almost the same thing, right? Well, Dan has continued his hatred of my beloved black bivalves over the course of two decades and I've only had them several times since as supporting players in a few plates of restaurant Zuppa di Pesce. I found myself eyeing them longingly last week at the supermarket fish counter and decided to grab a bagful, since they were so darn cheap ($2 a pound!). I'd cook some up for myself and see if I could attract anyone else to join me in a heavenly plate of mussels.

It had been so long since I had prepared mussels I had to look up how to do so in some of my cookbooks. I found out that one should try to get farm-raised mussels, if possible, which are grown on strings suspended in water, rather than mussels dug up from muddy sea bottoms, as the latter will contain much more dirt, even after long soaking and prep times. Well, my mussels had big chunks of stone attached to their lovely, long beards, so they were definitely children of the sea bottom. The mussels all got their beards barbered and their shells buffed and further spa treatment with an overnight soaking in the fridge, with some corn meal "bath salts" sprinkled in to encourage my shellfish to expel their sandiness.

The pampering was over the next day, when they got scrubbed again, rinsed in fresh water, trimmed anew and then readied for the cooking pot. You must also discard any mussels that won't close tightly. I decided to try recreating my romantic mussel meal of yore, but couldn't find an exact recipe, so I came up with this Frenchified version:

Mussels in a Romantic Sauce (Moules de l'Amour)

2 lbs. of mussels (cleaned and debearded as above)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
6 Tbsp. butter
1 cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp. Italian parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup half-and-half

Heat a heavy-bottomed soup pot over a medium flame. Melt butter and then add garlic and shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add white wine and bring to boil. Let boil, until reduced by about half and then add mussels. Cover and cook, 5-7 minutes, shaking the pot every couple of minutes, to make sure mussels are cooking evenly.

Uncover pot, remove any mussels that haven't opened and discard. Add salt and pepper to taste, parsley and half-and-half to pot and stir 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with lots of crusty rolls (Crusty French Rolls from Bette Hagman's wonderful "The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread" cookbook) on the side to mop up the luscious sauce.

Serves 2-4 (2 mussel lovers as a dinner entree, 4 first course servings)

In a surprise move, Dan tried them and announced that they were delicious and more delicate-tasting than he had remembered. He actually ate his whole portion! My daughters were not in love with my romantic Love Mussels and after dissecting them rather rudely at the table, went off in search of a peanut butter dinner, leaving more for their appreciative parents (and clearing the way for some clandestine post-prandial smooching!) Ooooh la la!

I am sending this romantic recipe over to Joan at Foodalogue, where we are taking a virtual tour of France this week for her Culinary Tour Around the World Event. Joan will have a French roundup in the next several days, and then I believe we are traveling to Portugal to check out the sites. And, the food, of course! Come join us...

Au revoir

Monday, February 2, 2009

February Book Giveaway

Last month I offered a copy of "Practical Rice Dishes" to one of the loyal readers of the Crispy Cook and the winner is Vivian. Congratulations Vivian! I will be contacting you to get your shipping address as soon as I finish this blog post.

For the February book giveaway, I have an entertaining little volume to tempt you with: "Gluttony: Ample Tales of Epicurean Excess", edited by John Miller (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1996). This compilation includes selections by John Kennedy Toole, M.F.K. Fisher, Fran Lebowitz, Woody Allen, Russell Baker, and William Shakespeare, among other bards, all describing the various aspects of overindulgence. If you are interested in winning this collection of cautionary tales for foodie readers, just leave a comment below by February 28, 2009, midnight (Eastern Standard Time) and I'll randomly select a winner. Good luck to all!