Monday, December 3, 2012

No Heartburn with a Nostalgic Eighties Gourmet Veggie Pasta

Earlier this year America lost a wonderful writer and filmmaker, Nora Ephron. I first encountered Ms. Ephron's writings through her collections of essays, like "Scribble, Scribble" and "Crazy Salad", books passed on to me by girlfriends whose passion for Ephron's humor and worldview became my own. 

When I subsequently read through "Heartburn", (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983), her semi-autobiographical novel about chef Rachel Samstat, who loses her way during her second husband's adultery, I knew she would always be a part of my pantheon of favorite authors.

I was delighted when "Heartburn" became the featured selection of Cook the Books, a bimonthly foodie book club that I and three of my good blogger buddies co-host. Simona, of the blog, Briciole, is the host of this round of Cook the Books, and she has enlisted Laura Lippstone, a big Ephron fan and blogger at Planet Lippstone, to serve as guest judge of the posts that we all write featuring our book selection and the foods we cook up inspired by our reading. 

Dipping back into "Heartburn" was a nostalgic read: there was the nostalgia of seeing that great dust jacket art, the familiarity of sinking back into Ephron's words like having a cozy conversation with a great friend that one hasn't seen in a bunch of years, and nostalgia for the 1980s world that pervades its pages. Ephron describes Samstat's longing for the great produce sections of New York City supermarkets and gourmet shops that she left behind when she moved to Washington D.C. and that made me remember how arugula and twelve different kinds of peppers didn't used to be a common site at the average food store.

And then there was that passage that made me laugh out loud when I first read and reread it to my friends back in the early Eighties, and which I read and snorted through and reread to my husband now that we're in the 2000-teens.

"When I was in college, I had a list of what I wanted in a husband. A long list. I wanted a registered Democrat, a bridge player, a linguist with particular fluency in French, a subscriber to THE NEW REPUBLIC, a tennis player. I wanted a man who wasn’t bald, who wasn’t fat, who wasn’t covered with too much body hair. I wanted a man with long legs and a small ass and laugh wrinkles around the eyes. Then I grew up and settled for a low-grade lunatic who kept hamsters. At first I thought he was charming and eccentric. And then I didn’t. Then I wanted to kill him. Every time he got on a plane, I would imagine the plane crash, and the funeral, and what I would wear to the funeral and flirting at the funeral, and how soon I could start dating after the funeral.” (p.83)

My homage dish to Heartburn is one that celebrates the dazzling bounty of what the grocery store produce aisle features most any time of the year (alright, the locavore in me is conflicted about how great that bounty is in terms of carbon footprints). I made this great pasta dish after sniping the recipe from my cousin-in-law Diane, a fabulous cook. I added some cubed winter squash, because I have an abundance and threw in some diced tomatoes, too, cause I had some hanging around, but otherwise it's Diane's fantastic recipe. It's delicious and I can assure you that it won't give you Heartburn:

Diane's Eighties Gourmet Pasta

1 small eggplant, peeled and diced small
1 small Delicata squash (or other winter squash), peeled, seeded and cubed (about 1 cup)
1 each red and yellow bell pepper, diced small
1 red onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
3 plum tomatoes, medium chop
1/3 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 lb. of your favorite small pasta shape (Diane uses orzo, I used GF rigatoni)

Pasta Dressing:

Juice of one lemon

1/3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper

4 scallions, minced (I used chives)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (I used walnuts)
3/4 cup feta, diced (not crumbled)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne

Toss all of the vegetables in the first part above with garlic, 1/3 cup olive oil, salt and pepper on a cookie sheet. Coat thoroughly with oil and then roast in a 425 degree oven until browned, turning at least once with a spatula.

Cook pasta and drain. Toss with roasted vegetables. Mix dressing and pour over pasta and vegetables.

Gently toss in scallions, nuts, feta and basil. 

Serve at room temperature. Serves 6-8.

Diane says to try throwing in some cremini mushrooms, yellow and green squash or zucchini, if you want.

Simona will be rounding up all the delicious Hearburn blog posts back at the Cook the Books site after today's deadline, so be sure to stop by and see what everyone cooked up. And don't forget to join us in reading, cooking and blogging up our thoughts about "The Hunger Games", by Suzanne Collins, both book and film, for our next round of Cook the Books!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Cake Mix Doctor Gets Unbelievably Gluten-Free in Her New Book

Bestselling author Anne Byrn, better known to the world as "The Cake Mix Doctor", has written a new gluten-free cookbook, "Unbelievably Gluten-Free" (NY: Workman Press, 2012) and I was honored to be chosen as an official stop on her book blog tour. I have made good use of my copy of her previous gluten-free cookbook, "The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free", which I reviewed here previously at the ol' blog (and that reminds me to make that meltingly delicious Bacardi Rum Bundt Cake again soon, because I like big bundts, and I cannot lie...)

The first recipe I have tried out of the new book is her version of that comfort food stand-by, Mac and Cheese. Now, I have made many different versions of Mac and Cheese in my day, most all of them delicious, but I believe Anne Byrn's recipe is definitely the richest and most velvety variety of them all. She dispenses with any thickening cornstarch or brown rice flour for the cheese sauce, preferring to "enrobe" the pasta with a reduced batch of heavy cream, and it makes for a truly decadent dish. You don't need a whole heaping helping to make a meal because it is very rich indeed. My family cleaned their bowls, and thus, paired with a fluffy green salad with vinaigrette, we feasted like Gluten-Free royalty.

Here is Ms. Byrn's wonderful recipe for Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese, reprinted with permission from Workman Press:
Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese
 Serves 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 to 26 minutes
Bake: 8 to 10 minutes (optional)
Pinch of salt
8 ounces gluten-free elbow macaroni (I used brown rice pasta)
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter (I used butter)
3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
Dash of ground nutmeg
Dash of paprika, for sprinkling on top
1 cup gluten-free cracker crumbs, for topping the casserole (optional) (but I say they were essential for adding a nice crunchy counterpoint - I used Glutino crackers)
1 tablespoon butter, melted (optional)
1. Fill a large pot two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When the water is boiling add a pinch of salt and stir in the macaroni. Cook the macaroni until it is just done, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a colander and toss it with olive oil or butter. Set the macaroni aside.
2. If you are baking the macaroni and cheese, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Add the cream to the pot in which you cooked the pasta and let come to a boil over medium heat., stirring. Let the cream cook until it has reduced to half its volume, about 1 1/2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and nutmeg.
4.  When the cheeses have melted completely, stir the cooked macaroni into the sauce. You can serve the macaroni and cheese at once sprinkled with paprika. Or to bake the dish transfer the macaroni and sauce to a 2-quart baking dish. Toss the cracker crumbs with the melted butter and scatter them over the top. Sprinkle the cracker crumbs with paprika. Bake until the macaroni and cheese is bubbly and the crumbs have browned, 8 to 10 minutes. The macaroni and cheese can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days.

I will be back with more recipe reviews from "Unbelievably Gluten-Free" over the coming weeks, including trying my hand at some new recipes to add to my vegetable repertoire, so be sure to tune in for these blog posts as well as a chance to win a copy of this great new cookbook. You can enter to win a copy of each of Ms. Byrn's gluten-free cookbooks,  "Unbelievably Gluten-Free" and "The Cake Mix Doctor Cooks Gluten-Free". To enter, leave a comment below or at one of the next Crispy Cook posts about the book. I'll pick a random winner (U.S. and Canadian residents only) after the Blog Tour is over.

In the meantime, you can also hop on over to Anne's Facebook page tomorrow, November 14, starting at 6 pm Eastern Standard Time, for a chat with the author, or see what the other bloggers on the Tour think about this great new cookbook.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Picnic Farewell to the Saratoga Racing Season

It was an impromptu gathering of friends to celebrate the end of summer and a chance to hang outside watching beautiful thoroughbred race horses thunder past us. Our venue was the historic Saratoga Springs Race Track. on Labor Day, the last day of the summer racing season. The racetrack offered free admission for that day, which was a nice bonus. Dan and I went early in the morning to claim a picnic table at The Top of the Stretch (where the horses make their last straightaway sprint to the finish line) by draping our tablecloth on a table near the fence. Next time I will leave the vase of zinnias home, which, though it was kind of a classy addition, invited pesky yellow jackets and wasps to our table.

Husband Dan used to go more often in his youth and we were astonished at how many years had passed since we had attended the races. Neither one of us is much of a gambler, but it is always a fun time because the people watching is superb. You'll see fashions aplenty from nattily dressed and hatted ladies strolling through the clubhouse to cigar-chomping OTB regulars perusing the racing papers with great intensity.

We arrived early and brought our picnic fare and feasted like kings. The weather cooperated with sunshine and not too much humidity, though when the track guys came around in their track misters, we did enjoy the spray of water on our faces turning like sunflowers in the light.

Our friends brought a splendid array of delicious foods. We ate some luscious lemony deviled eggs (I'll have my friend Ellen's recipe posted up soon), rice and pasta salads, gazpacho, cheeses, fruit, and other edibles, all packed up in various non-glass containers as per track rules). Then there was this luscious cold zucchini salad, inspired by one of Laurie Colwin's essays from her book "Home Cooking".

You start with a platter of fried zucchini.

I used three largish zucchini, which kept me stationed over a large cast-iron frying pan for a good while the day before. I breaded my zucchini with a mixture of brown rice flour and chickpea flour. They were moist enough after slicing to not require any eggy painting to make the flour adhere. After I drained and cooled these fried zucchini slices, I layered them with dabs of an 8 oz. log of goat cheese, chopped parsley and basil, and sliced bits of a 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers. Salt and pepper went between the layers, they got a splash of olive oil and vinegar and that was a wonderful salad that was delicious at room temperature the next day and kept well under the hot temperatures during our al fresco track picnic.

Now, to focus more attention on Colwin's delightful book, Home Cooking, which is the featured selection for Cook the Books, the online foodie book club started by me, my buddy Deb of Kahakai Kitchen and my buddy Jo of Food Junkie, Not Junk Food. This book was published in 1988, and has been in my home library since shortly thereafter. Colwin was just a bewitching writer; she was witty, self-deprecating, passionate about the things she loved, and her descriptions of dinner parties (even the ones that went awry) are mouthwatering.

My favorite essay is entitled Kitchen Horrors, and I can read and reread this comic chapter and still chuckle out loud. There are so many disasters described in its pages, but none more hilarious than the strange English dessert Colwin attempted to make for an Easter dinner, called Suffolk Pond Pudding. It involved a sugar-encrusted lemon atop some butter and sugar, wrapped in a suet crust and then steamed in a kettle for FOUR HOURS. Well, that's enough description for me, and I certainly wouldn't want to have to ingest it, but Colwin sallied forth and when she produced her dessert, the comments on its appearances included suggestions that it looked like a baked hat and the Alien. The taste produced further editorial commentary: "This tastes like lemon-flavored bacon fat", "I'm sure it's wonderful, I mean, in England", and the straight-forward "This is awful". Ha!

Sadly, Colwin died at the tragically young age of 48 from a heart attack (her descriptions of her go-to comfort food, rosti, may have been a complicating factor), so there are not many other Colwin titles to read through, though there is a sequel to this book, More Home Cooking, to look forward to.

My zucchini salad was inspired by an essay in Home Cooking, entitled Red Peppers. In it, Colwin describes a favorite dish from an East Side restaurant that she didn't get to often enough. It involved layers of sauteed zucchini slices and pimento strips garnished with olive oil, fresh garlic and lemon juice, which sounds great too.

Deb is hosting this current round of Cook the Books, so be sure to check back at our book club website after the September 24th deadline to see Deb's roundup of all the Home Cooking posts.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Another Great Idea for Those Ever-Present Zucchini - Alta's Zucchini and Sun-Dried Tomato Casserole

It's so great to see so many other Gluten-Free blogs being written these days. Even five years ago there were only a handful of brave souls navigating the bloggy waters and letting other folks know about new gluten-free products or delicious new ways to eat. Nowadays there must be at least 300-400 gluten free blogs to peruse (see some of my favorites on the GF Blog List link above) so it is great to have an event like Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event, created by the Book of Yum to explore them in depth.

This month I have adopted Alta of Tasty Eats at Home down in steamy Texas. Her blog is gluten-free and dairy-free and shows off how imaginative Alta is in the kitchen. You'll find recipes for Swordfish Souvlaki, Creamy Chipotle Butternut Dip (I bookmarked that one for my first home-grown crop of those winter squashes), Vegan "Cheesy" Crackers, Korean Short-Ribs Tacos, and Habanero-Pear Jam. Wow. That's kitchen adventuring!

For my adoption, I looked at my kitchen counters and saw all that garden produce, most notably those forgotten zukes that hide under the umbrella-like leaves of the mother plant and sproing overnight into baseball bats. Luckily, Tasty Eats at Home came to the rescue with a really fantastic plan: Zucchini and Sun-Dried Tomato Casserole.

Just when I think I've exhausted the zucchini repertoire, in comes a new dish to transform this most malleable and productive vegetable, and voila, another fantastic recipe! This combination of so many of my favorite, vibrantly-flavored ingredients, smoked paprika, snipped fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, really zips up the old summer squashes. I used a couple of those zuke bats in this recipe - one had been chomped on the surface by those nasty squash bugs, so I peeled it - and they provided the perfect palette for all those other zesty flavorings.

I made this recipe in a 9 x 12 glass baking dish so that the zucchini would spread out and some of its moisture would bake out (Alta's recipe also instructs the cook to drain off the vegetable juices after sauteeing, which I did - right into my freezer container for future vegetable soups). Fresh sage, thyme and parsley came from the garden, as did the zucchini and tomatoes (slow-roasted rather than sun-dried and reconstituted), so everything tasted so fresh. The only deviation I made from Alta's recipe was to use real Cheddar cheese, rather than the cheese alternative called for in her original, dairy-free recipe (a cheese alternative-alternative, if you will), as we didn't have that on hand.

Alta is also hosting this round of Adopt-A-Gluten-Free Blogger, so be sure to see who else got adopted and shots of all the scrumptious food everyone cooked up back at Tasty Eats at Home after the September 5th deadline. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Crispy Cook Meets Gluten Free Baking on a Podcast

One of our local gluten-free gurus and cookbook authors Elizabeth Barbone of Gluten-Free Baking, has begun publishing podcasts full of recipes, interviews, baking tips and information for food lovers on gluten-free and other allergy diets on a new website, Cook Bliss.

I was honored to be interviewed by Elizabeth recently about blogging, cooking for my mixed gluten-free/gluten-full family and about kitchen disasters (mine, not hers). If you would like to hear about these things or if you just have a burning desire to hear my Crispy voice, check out Episode 006 at Cook Bliss. I'm up after an interesting heirloom pancake recipe and a chat with musician Darius Lux about how he stays gluten-free on the road.  I'd love to hear what you think.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Curried Zucchini Coins

It's that time of the garden year when bowls of cukes, zukes and tomatoes overtake the kitchen real estate. A really hot and dry July burned out my broccoli and greens, except for a hardy patch of escarole in some semi-shade, but our sun-loving vegetables are really enjoying this warm patch of weather.

I've been keeping up fairly well with the veggie bounty, making batches of pesto, zucchini bread and muffins, sauteed grated zucchini with basil and garlic, zucchini stewed with tomato and garlic, and other summer zuke standards in our repertoire, but then the other day I tried a few different spices with my zukes and husband Dan said that the recipe was a keeper. I tried it out again the next day and have to concur. Maybe you will too.

Curried Zucchini Coins

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. mild curry powder
1/2 tsp. celery salt
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, peeled, halved and cut into thin rings (we grew purple onions this year)
6-7 small zucchini (about 1.5 - 2 inch diameter) topped, tailed and cut into thin coins

Melt butter in large skillet. Add olive oil and let it bubble up. Add in curry powder, celery salt, onions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Add in zucchini coins and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes, or until onions are soft and golden and the zucchini is floppy, but still has some bite. You don't want to overcook tender, young zucchini.

Please use small zucchini for this dish, as the bigger, older zucchini that one tends to overlook in the patch under the leaves will be too seedy and watery.

Makes 6-8 servings.

The curry, celery salt and sauteed onions lend such a nice earthy, mellow taste to this dish.

I am sending over a virtual plate of this delicious way to deal with zucchini abundance to Susan the Well-Seasoned Cook, who is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging this week. Weekend Herb Blogging is a long-standing weekly food blog event hosted by Haalo of Cook Almost Anything that celebrates edible plant ingredients.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Laura's Brown Rice and Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions

At a recent summer soiree, my friend Laura brought an exotic-tasting salad to the party buffet. It had nubby brown rice, lentils and a blend of mellow, earthy flavors that sent me pestering her for the recipe. The special secret ingredient that knit everything together was a pair of slowly caramelized onions.

I made up another batch of this great side dish for my family last week and it was perfect for the sweltering temperatures we've been having. With a simple dressing of balsamic vinegar, spices and herbs, there's no risk of spoilage in the heat, making it a terrific addition for hot weather dining.

I didn't have green lentils on hand, just the cute little orange ones that turn to mush when you cook them, so I rooted around my cupboards and came up with a forgotten bag of horse gram, a legume closely related to the lentil, which is a staple in some southern Indian cooking traditions. A lentil will take much less cooking time than the horse gram, which I cooked before adding to my salad, in a pot of boiling salted water for 30 minutes.

Here's Laura's recipe for:

Brown Rice and Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions

2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. butter

2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup brown lentils, cooked
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepepr to taste

Melt butter in a frying pan. Add onions, and cook slowly, over low heat, until they are soft, golden and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.

Mix all ingredients together in a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6-8.  Double this batch to bring to a party. Serve warm or at room temperature to let flavors mellow.

I am sending over a virtual plate of this awesome summer salad to No Croutons Required, a monthly vegetarian recipe challenge alternately hosted by Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa's Kitchen. The challenge this month is for a soup or salad that is suited for hot summer weather, so Laura's recipe is a stellar fit!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to Make Gluten Free Crumpets

It's October in the genteel city of Charleston, South Carolina, and tea shop owner Theodosia Browning is not only busy with her regular business, but there's an important catering job to plan and carry out with aplomb: the city's annual candlelight historic homes tour. Unfortunately, while the blackberry scones were a hit with the partygoers, Theodosia's tea gets a bad reputation when one of the guests is found to have dropped dead over his cup and saucer.

That's the set up for the first book in author Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mystery series, Death by Darjeeling, and the current selection of the online foodie book club Cook the Books. I am hosting this round of Cook the Books and am collecting submissions until July 30, 2012, after which time our guest judge, author Laura Childs herself, will be picking a winner to receive the coveted Cook the Books winner's badge and a copy of her latest Tea Shop mystery (#13), Agony in the Leaves. Cook the Books participants read the featured book, blog about it, and then cook up something inspired by their reading. New participants are always welcome, so feel free to stop by Cook the Books to find out more about the fun.

This is the quintessential cozy mystery, full of atmosphere, a fairly bloodless crime, quirky characters and then there's the interesting tidbits about tea making, tea varieties and the mouthwatering Indigo Tea Shop tea time treats!

For my Death by Darjeeling entry, I was inspired to make up a basket of crumpets. Now, before last week I couldn't tell you the difference between a crumpet and a trumpet, but after a little tea-soaked research (several cuppas in hand while I pored through my cookbook collection and looked online) it appears that the crumpet originated as very holey griddle cake that morphed into something a bit grander and yeastier on Victorian tea tables. They have been described as the love child of a pancake and an English muffin, with the main point being that there must be many, many airy pockets in the crumpet either on the top side or within, when split, that must be slathered with butter, jam, honey or golden syrup.

I found a recipe for Gluten-Free crumpets in the 2006 edition of the Glens Falls Regional Celiac Support Group cookbook "Tried and True Recipes", and with a little adjustment here and there, I made a very satisfactory batch of these fluffy little tea accompaniments. Just look at those gorgeous little air pockets above! These crumpets were so good straight out of the oven, split and served up with softened butter and some homemade strawberry jam, but they were just as good the next day when we toasted them and used them for sandwich buns.

Gluten Free Crumpets

1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar

Vegetable shortening

1/2 cup chickpea flour (also known as besan)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. Egg Replacer (found at most health food stores)

1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. poppyseed
1 egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. white vinegar

Mix warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar together and let stand in warm place until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.

Grease 6 egg rings or English muffin rings (I bought egg rings with the handles above pretty cheaply at a restaurant supply store, but you could also make your own from carefully cutting and filing down the rough edges of some small, 3 inch diameter, tin cans, like the ones you buy tuna fish, pineapple rings or clams in). Place greased rings on a baking parchment-lined baking sheet.

Whisk together chickpea flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, salt and egg replacer until well blended. If your chickpea flour comes out of the bag in small clumps, make sure to run it through a sieve first to make sure the flours will blend smoothly).

In a large mixing bowl, blend together 1Tbsp. sugar, egg, melted butter, vinegar, poppyseed and yeast-water. Beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Add in another third and then blend and repeat until dough is silky. It will be a bit moist, but then when you divide it and pour it into the greased rings, they will contain the dough and give it its shape when it rises and bakes.

Cover dough in the rings with, what else, a tea towel, and let it rise in a warm place, until the batter doubles (30-45 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake your crumpets for 18-20 minutes or until browned on top and crumpets have pulled away slightly from their metal girdles.

Makes 6 large crumpets. May be eaten hot or cold. Store in airtight container once cooled.

Having a spot of tea (lemon balm from the garden) with these crumpets on the side made for such a civilized afternoon break; almost as good as a Hobbit's Second Breakfast. And this project made for good excuse to break out some underutilized linens and doilies to make our tea break even more enjoyable.

One thing about crumpets. There appears to be some very naughty British slang usage for the term tea and crumpets, something Theodosia and Company would not likely approve of, so be forewarned, my fellow Americans, before you start spouting off about how much you are looking forward to eating these in bed or something else potentially embarrassing.

I hope you will join my booking and cooking friends in reading Death by Darjeeling (I've devoured books no. 2 and 3 in the series already and am savoring the thought of diving into no. 4 later this week) and joining us at Cook the Books. I will post the roundup of all the posts for this book selection shortly after the July 30 deadline over at the CTB website, so be sure to pop on by for a spot of tea and some good reading.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Until the Thin Sings for her Lemon-Blueberry Bars and Garlic Cheese Biscuits

Checking out another gluten-free blogger is always a fun assignment. Learning their writing style, checking out their food photography, reading their stories and test driving some new recipes is great inspiration. So it was with great relish that I spent time prowling around Until the Thin Lady Sings, a gluten-free, low-carb and chemical-free blog written by Rachel Cobb, a self-described foodie opera singer. I decided to adopt this wonderful blogger for the Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event founded by the Book of Yum and hosted this month by Enjoying Gluten-Free Life. 

Cobb is a wonderfully vivacious writer and she provides a lot of information about healthy foods, from bone broth to low carbohydrate baking, with plenty of recipes and kitchen tips on the side. I love the energy in her writing and her "evangelism" in giving readers the inspiration to try out new ingredients and cooking techniques.

For my adoption, the first thing I made was a batch of her terribly addictive Coconut Flour Cheese Biscuits. These were so moist and they filled the house with a tremendously inviting savory smell as they were baking. They were very easy to make too, so I have gotten this recipe in my permanent rotation.

I also tried out some of the Thin Lady's Blueberry Lemon Bars with Stevia. They weren't quite sweet enough (I use the stevia I had at home, which was in packets, so perhaps I undermeasured), so we added a little pure maple syrup drizzle to each serving and these were then quite heavenly with a lovely almond flour crust. The blueberries are soft and pop in your mouth.

I recommend the Cobb's blog to anyone who is looking for healthy, low-carbohydrate and gluten-free recipes and food posts. She is particularly fond of baking sweet, though sugar-free treats, and I intend to explore more of these as I work my way through more of her recipes.

Be sure to stop by Enjoying Gluten-Free Life in the next couple of days to check out the full roundup for the Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event. You'll see what other bloggers have been cooking up from our colleague's recipes and get some new favorite blogs to check out for yourself.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cilantro Crackers

They look innocent enough.

Rather cute, actually. And the taste is good. But alas, my attempts to convert a gluten-ous cracker recipe into a gluten-free version failed miserably because these Cilantro Crackers are impenetrable by the human tooth. I might as well have mixed in stone dust with my flours because they baked into extremely hard cracker-resembling bits suitable perhaps for shingling a roof or outfitting a space missile.

Which is all a rather embarrassing introduction to my hosting post for the Gluten Free Ratio Rally. This merry band of bakers tackles a different gluten-free baking project each month using ratios of flour:egg:fat:liquid and measuring our ingredients like the professional bakers do, by weight rather than volume.We usually use ratios culled from Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking or Wayne Gisslen's Professional Baking, but neither book included information about this month's project: crackers and breadsticks.

 I picked crackers and breadsticks as our baking challenge because I had made both successfully in the past (my Sesame-Rosemary cracker recipe is particularly tasty), and because both items make great additions to the picnic basket and the al fresco dinner table this time of year. Without a ratio to start with, I decided to try to convert a good-looking wheat flour-based cracker recipe into one that was gluten-free. My blogger buddy Heather at Girlichef recently posted a recipe for Green Chile Crackers full of cilantro and heat and I tried to adapt that recipe.

 I tried a substituting the wheat flour with a blend of tapioca starch, white rice flour and buckwheat flour, with some soaked flax seeds for added fiber and texture, and though the dough rolled out beautifully,

 baking them at 400 degrees F may have been too high because these babies hardened up way too much. Or perhaps my choice of mortar mix, aka flours, may have been wrong (almond flour and chick pea flour worked well for me in the past) or the ingredient ratios too cement-like (4:1:1, flour, fat, liquid).

Luckily, we do have one member of the family who was rather fond of these way-too-hard crackers, my trusty kitchen hound, Martha!  Cilantro dog crackers!

Martha in mid-chew, enjoying a Toothpopper, alias Cilantro Cracker

While this particular cracker experiment did not turn out well for me, I hope you will hop on over to the other Ratio Rally bloggers to see what delicious crackers and breadsticks they cooked up:

Gluten Free Graham Crackers - by T.R. at No One Likes Crumbley Cookies

Zippy Garlic Crackers - by Heather at Discovering the Ordinary

Seafaring Crackers - by Claire at My Gluten Free Home

Savory Spice Crackers - by Jonathan at The Canary Files

Crisp Bread Sticks and Bread Stick Sparklers - by Angela of Angela's Kitchen

Gluten Free Cracked Pepper Crackers - by Mary Fran at Frannycakes

Gluten Free Breadsticks - by Shauna of Gluten Free Girl

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Green Leaf Lettuce Overdrive Needs A-Dressing

 My dear husband and I have been married for more than two decades. We've accomplished this feat through many a compromise and by leaving unsaid many critiques of each other's differing systems for doing things. Dan is the linear thinker; the rational one, who plans things out before plunging ahead on a project. I'm more apt to go with the flow and start in on something in a haze of creative chaos.

We had ONE garden plot when we first moved to our little parcel of rural heaven, but after the first year, we decided to each have our own separate garden spaces after we nearly did each other in with our hoes and trowels. Dan is banned from weeding my garden patch, having strangulated too many little plants that I thought would develop into something edible and I am banned from traipsing through his carefully tended rows (I apparently leave footprints in the wrong spots).

Here's my garden plot:

Note the mixture of flowers and herbs and vegetables and the somewhat crooked edging job that I did. I like to wait each Spring and see what stuff has reseeded itself before turning every over, unlike SOMEONE I know. The yellow flowering bush is actually a couple of kale plants that overwintered and went to seed. I left them in because they are pretty and attract lots of flying pollinators, but it makes Dan crazy to have something unproductive in there when we could be putting in something we are actually going to eat someday.

Now here's my beloved's garden spot:

I can assure you that all the plants are in perfectly straight rows (he uses string and stakes to lay out his seed furrows, whereas I kind of squat in and dig somewhat meandering rows when I plant). Weeds pretty much don't dare to show up in his garden beds. But he does have the biggest harvests by far. All his meticulous soil preparation and diligent diggings really do bring home the veggies.

Which brings me to the point of this post (about time!), which is to showcase the bumper crop of Green Leaf Lettuce that ol' Farmer MacGregor has been pumping out. It's been Lettuce-palooza this season with our abundant Spring rains and cooler temperatures. We have had some delectable, tender salads and have given away bags of lettuce to our friends and neighbors. You'd think it was zucchini season!

While we normally just dress our garden grown salads with a simple vinaigrette, maybe with a little crushed garlic and Dijon mustard if we really want to gussy things up, but I thought it would be a nice change of pace to make a creamy herb dressing to take advantage of the weeding I've been doing back in my garden plot. I usually have enough volunteer dill and cilantro plants to weed out of my spring rows and freeze in cubes for the winter, and those perennial chive plants pump out lots of chives and chive blossoms to grace our table as well. The chive blossoms have a mild onion flavor and when you pick them off of the blossom head they look so lovely sprinkled over pastas, salads and casseroles.

I pulled out the blender, got out some Greek yogurt and snipped away at a pile of spring herbs to make this delightful creamy herb dressing:

Springtime Creamy Herb Dressing

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. water
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped spring herbs: I used dill, chives and chive blossoms
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. sugar (optional, but I think it cuts the acidity of the vinegar)

Place all ingredients in a blender and whizz around until completely blended. It will be a delicate pastel green color.

Makes 1 cup dressing.

This really dresses up a plain plate of lettuce and makes it an elegant salad, with some extra snipped chives and chive blossoms to garnish the top.

I am sending this luscious salad dressing over to Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free, a monthly festival of food ideas started by Naomi of Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried, and hosted this month by Against All Grain.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spinach Quinoa Mediteraneo as a Side Dish and Salad

Recently I was contacted by Westside Market about their recipe for their popular Spinach Quinoa Mediteraneo dish.  This New York City market features freshly made prepared foods from recipes by Maria Zoitas, wife of the Market's founder and I jumped right into the kitchen to make this dish.

I don't remember to make quinoa often enough, though it's as easy to make as rice (and I even make it in my rice cooker for more simplicity).  Quinoa is so delightful in the mouth; the little seed kernels pop as you chew them, sort of like caviar, and the grain itself is one of those nutritional powerhouses, packed with iron, protein and calcium. Here's the recipe for this great side dish, which makes a bit batch, about 10-12 servings, so it's a good choice to bring to a potluck or picnic.

(recipe reprinted with permission from Westside Market)


·         8 oz. quinoa
·         1 bunch scallions (I used chives, which I have in abundance in the spring garden)

·         1 spanish onion
·         4 cups spinach
·         2 tablespoons olive oil
·         1 bunch parsley (I used Italian flat-leaf parsley)

·         1 bunch anise (I couldn't find anise, so I used a whole bulb of fennel)

·         1 bunch dill
·         2 teaspoon kosher salt
·         1 teaspoon black pepper
·         6 cups of water

·         Saute onion, scallion, parsley and anise, in olive oil
·         Add 6 cups of water and cook for 5 minutes
·         Add quinoa and cook for 15 minutes
·         Add the spinach and cook until wilted

My notes:

This was a delicious dish, but since it made such a big amount and my dill-phobic spawn wouldn't eat it, Dan and I decided to jazzed up the leftovers into an ever more Mondo Mediterraneo cold salad by adding 8 oz. crumbled feta cheese, juice of one lemon and 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Both versions were very good!

Thanks to Westside Market for sharing this gluten-free, vegetarian recipe. You can check out more of Maria's recipes at their website.

I am sharing this recipe with No Croutons Required, a monthly vegetarian recipe contest held over at Tinned Tomatoes. This month's theme for No Croutons Required is Leafless Salads, so I thought this would be a great entry. Hop on over to Tinned Tomatoes to check out the other entries this month.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Gluten Free Chickpea Sandwich Bread

Bread. The staff of life. The stuff of my celiac husband's dreams. Ironically, while the rest of our non-gluten-free family thinks bread is just okay, Dan must have something bready to complete his dining experience. A plate of pasta is not a whole meal if there is no roll to swab up the last luscious bits of sauce, breakfast isn't right without a couple of slices of toast on the side and breadstuffs are one of the holy trinity of the dinner hour.

Blame it on his Irish-Polish ancestry, and while we're at it, we can attribute the celiac gene to the paternal side of his family as well, though they were just known for their "sensitive stomachs" in the days before celiac disease was being diagnosed by the medical community.

So he and I bake a lot of gluten-free bread, buns and rolls and keep them, sliced and wrapped in the freezer for quick thawing for his meals. Dan prefers having buns and rolls around to slices of bread, so we've come up with some ways to get the soft, sticky, slidy gluten-free doughs (like using greased metal egg rings that restaurants use when they want eggs to stay in a perfect circle shape on the griddle) to stay in their bun shapes with some success. You can check out more GF bun baking tips at this post from the Crispy Cook archives and then pretty much adapt any gluten-free bread recipe into GF buns.

The recipe we use over and over again for sandwiches and for toast is Elizabeth Barbone's Sandwich Bread recipe from her cookbook "Easy Gluten-Free Baking". It makes a great basic white bread recipe that toasts beautifully and doesn't crumble easily.

With the encouragement of the Gluten Free Ratio Rally bakers, a group of gluten free food bloggers that tackles a different baking project each month and deconstructs/reconstructs them measuring ingredients by weight and recipes by ratios of flour/liquid/fat/egg, I was looking to make a different kind of sandwich bread to add variety to the freezer stash. This month's GF Ratio Rally Host, Karen of the Cooking Gluten-Free blog, picked BREAD as our baking challenge and initially I thought about trying to make a crusty, artisan-style loaf. I just ran out of time and schedule during this busy past month (note dearth of Crispy Cook posts) with various kid, business and garden activities on my plate, so I will hopefully be copying down someone else's recipe for such a gluten-free delight when Karen rounds up all the Ratio Rally posts on June 6th.

For my contribution to this bread rally, I wanted to use chickpea flour as my base flour. I find big bags of chickpea flour (labeled besan) at the Indian markets in Albany and they are economically priced. We use chickpea flour (and our other staple gluten free flour, brown rice flour) in lots of savory dishes to thicken sauces and curries, bread fish and veggies for pan drying and in one of our favorite meals, Bhajis with Rice. Chickpea flour also adds a nice bit of protein and fiber to our cooking, so that's a great bonus. My stab at converting a basic white bread recipe into a chickpea loaf was encouragingly successful. '

Here's what I did:

Chickpea Sandwich Bread

3 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 oz. warm water
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

8 oz. chickpea flour (also known as besan or garbanzo bean flour)
4 oz. cornstarch
4 oz. white rice flour
8 oz. tapioca flour
3 tsp. xanthan gum
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic (can use garlic powder)
1 tsp. dried basil

3 eggs, beaten
4 oz. warm water
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Vegetable shortening

Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.

Mix brown sugar, 4 oz. warm water and yeast together and let stand in a warm, draft-free place to proof for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl and whisk until completely blended. The flours are pretty fine, so keep the whisking motion low. And using a deep bowl helps keep the flour cloud down a bit.

In another bowl. blend eggs together with remaining water and oil. Add in yeast mixture and blend well. Add to dry ingredients and combine until blended and smooth. Scrape into greased loaf pan.

Heat oven to 170 degrees F and then turn off. Place loaf pan inside a clean plastic bag (I use a shopping bag from grocery or store) and loosely tent it. Close oven door and let rise until mostly doubled, about 1 hour.

Take loaf pan out, turn oven back on to 375 degrees F and remove plastic bag. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until top is nicely golden-brown. Let cool in pan for several minutes, then carefully tap it out onto a cooling rack and let finish cooling.

When completely cool, slice, wrap and stick it in the freezer to use as necessary.

Makes one loaf.

Looking forward to seeing what the other creative and talented GF Ratio Rally bakers will be pulling out of their ovens tomorrow! Be sure to check over at Karen's blog to see links to all the other blogger's bread recipes. And come back next month to see some gluten-free cracker and breadstick recipes when it's my turn to host the GF Ratio Rally.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The United States of Radish Leaves, I Mean Arugula, for Cook the Books Club

It's Cook the Books time once again and for this round of the online foodie book club, our host Johanna of Food Junkie, Not Junk Food picked a great book: The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation, by David Kamp. It's a very funny, well-researched look at how American cuisine came of age in the 20th century and he shares numerous anecdotes, foot notes and social history to show all the players that have influenced the American way of cooking, eating and dining out.

Kamp pays particular attention to the troika that are most well known for getting American food out of the canned, processed, instant, Jello-ed doldrums of the post World War II era: Julia Child, Craig Claiborne and James Beard, though there are many gossipy accounts of the minor players that had a hand in it too. I liked Kamp's descriptions of the kitchen hijinks at Chez Panisse, with doyenne Alice Waters lustily ripping through lovers and chefs with great rapidity and the story of Mexican food goddess Diana Kennedy tossing a young, creepily intense Rick Bayless out of her car after he stalked her down in Mexico and pestered her relentlessly with questions when she was having a bit of a crisis during the building of her home.

I really enjoyed reading through this book and it has earned a permanent place in my home library, where it will reread and consulted with a great deal of relish, I'm sure.

For the Cook the Books club, participants not only read and discuss the book selection, but then we get creative in the kitchen to come up with a dish that is inspired by our reading. I had hopes of picking some arugula from plants that went to seed last year, and picked a bunch to saute with olive oil and garlic and then incorporate in some sort of delicious pasta sauce. Fresh arugula is a wonderful, peppery green, but it is meltingly soft and delicious when cooked, a technique which I first tried in this terrific recipe by Mario Batali for an earlier round of Cook the Books.

I went out to the ol' Crispy Garden and picked a mess of arugula leaves. They tasted a little spicy, but they were much, much hairier than the arugula I remembered. I rinsed them off and spun them dry and they were much harder to get clean of dirt specks than the arugula I remembered. All those hairs kept trapping little dirt bits. I looked closer.

D'oh!  This wasn't arugula. These were volunteers from a red radish plant that went to seed and I let flourish in my autumn 2011 garden, thinking it would attract nice flying pollinators to my garden. Luckily, all was not lost, because I remembered reading somewhere that radish leaves were edible and actually made a good soup. I checked it out with my cookbooks and true enough, radish leaves are edible and so I cooked them up with a bit of garlic and olive oil and they were peppery, if not meltingly soft like the arugula. They had tougher stems and a more forthright peppery taste. Spring tonic and all.

This my contribution to this round of Cook the Books. I am delighted that Johanna was able to secure Mr. Kamp himself as our book club judge so you can check back at the CTB website to see the roundup and what our esteemed author thinks about our literary and culinary comments about his work at this link. 

Next round of Cook the Books will feature the first book in Laura Child's great Teashop mystery series, Death by Darjeeling, which will end on July 30th. Feel free to join in the fun by seeking out this book and then reading it and cooking up something inspired by it. Until then....

Friday, May 25, 2012

Presto Pasta Nights #265 Roundup

There's a whole lot of ca-noodling to do this week with Presto Pasta Nights #265. I had the privilege of hosting this week's round and have a range of dishes to tempt you with below, from down-home comfort food to elegant little pasta numbers. Ruth of Once Upon a Feast is the founder of Presto Pasta Nights , one of the longest running and most popular food blog events that I know about. Every Friday roundup presents new kinds of pastas and intriguing sauces and this week's batch is no exception.

So grab your pasta fork and tie on a napkin, and let's stroll through this week's PPN submissions:

Pizza Macaroni and Cheese was served up at Pictures of a Princess. Everybody in Jules' family really enjoyed this combination of two comfort food favorites.

Tigerfish at Tescape has a lovely, healthy and unusual bowl full of Peashoots, Carrot Greens, Almonds Pesto Fusilli to share with us. I was introduced the delights of eating pea shoots last year but didn't know that one could eat carrot greens. Another reason to grow carrots in the garden; they are a two-fer!

The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch is Shelby's blog. She reports that Grumpy, aka the Husband, has high standards when it comes to tomato sauce. She followed the lightened up recipe for Baked Ziti from the Cook This! Not That! Cookbook, and Grumpy lapped it up! It certainly looks mouthwatering.

Tandy is at the helm of Lavender and Lime, and she shares a toothsome concoction indeed: Lemon Garlic Linguine with Mascarpone and Prawns. Every single ingredient in that title sounds wonderful and I personally can't wait to try this recipe out for my crew. Bookmarked!

Stash of The Spamwise Chronicles offers up a plate of Mussel Risotto. Okay, I know what your thinking; rice is not a pasta or noodle, starchy though it may be. But since I love Stash's food photos and recipes over at his blog, am a mussels lover (and Ruth said it was okay to use my judgment), I had to include this awesome dish in the roundup this week.

Finally, we have The Crispy Cook contribution to the pasta party with Broccoli and Cheese Sauced Pasta with Spring Herbs. My gang cleaned their plates when I served this for supper. I got a little heavy handed with the herb garnish, so it's hard to see the broccoli nuggets studding this creamy dish, but I get a little excited when my chive plants are blossoming.

Thanks to all the great cooks who submitted recipes this week. I enjoyed reading through them all and will be cooking up some this week, for sure. Thanks also to Ruth at Presto Pasta Nights for allowing me to host this week. Next week it will be Stash's turn to host PPN and I look forward to sneaking over there to see what others are cooking up from their kitchens.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Broccoli and Cheese Sauced Pasta with Spring Herbs for Presto Pasta Nights

Looking for a crowd pleasing supper dish that's easy to make and beautiful to bring to the table? Well, I found one, thank heavens, for my finicky family and just in time too. I'm guest hosting Presto Pasta Nights #265 this week and needed some some gorgeous carbs to share with you all. 

For the uninitiated, Presto Pasta Nights is a weekly celebration of the world of pasta started by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast many moons ago. Each Friday roundup showcases interesting varieties of pasta: macaroni, noodles, spaetzle, pierogies, gnocchi and many glorious other species, prepared in traditional recipes or in intriguing new flavor combinations. You can check back at Presto Pasta Nights to research some of the archives for new recipe ideas or come back here this Friday to see what some great cooks are concocting in their pasta pots.

As my regular readers know, this is a gluten-free blog, so wheat-based noodles don't get center stage. However, there are a wealth of other corn, quinoa, rice, buckwheat and other pasta varieties available in today's markets and of course, homemade gluten-free noodles are fun (if messy) to whip up. I used bright yellow corn noodles for my dish, which began with a couple of heads of broccoli, a wedge of smoked gouda and a trip out to the herb garden.

One of my family's favorite pasta dishes is a simple bit of steamed chopped broccoli bathed in a garlic butter sauce. It's quick to make for those busy weekday dinners and it suits all of my vegetarians and non-vegetarians, gluten-free and gluten-full eaters alike. I was thinking about that smoked gouda that had been hanging around my fridge, though, and thought that since steamed broccoli with cheese sauce is such a proven winner, pasta with a cheesy broccoli sauce would be a natural pairing.

After perusing some of my cookbooks and prowling the Internet, I see that this idea has not only been dreamed up before, it's sort of a standard. Well, it was new to me and my family, and with the addition of fresh spring herbs generously strewn on top, it was gobbled down mighty quick at Chez Crispy.  The smoked gouda really lends a rich flavor to this pasta sauce and the delicate onion taste of the snipped chives and chive blossoms just makes everything sing. You could substitute in another kind of cheese, but I think the smoked gouda was the key ingredient here.

Broccoli and Cheese Sauced Pasta with Spring Herbs

1 lb. of your favorite pasta (I used corn spaghetti)

2 broccoli crowns, chopped into florets and stems cut into small cubes
3 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. white rice flour
2 cups milk

1 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes: Parmesan cheese shavings, snipped fresh chives and chive blossoms, snipped dill

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse in hot water to remove starch and keep from sticking. Keep warm.

Bring 1 cup salted water to a vigorous boil in another large pot. Add in broccoli and steam until just crisp-tender, about 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water to keep green color bright. Set aside.

While pasta water is boiling, whip up your sauce:

Melt butter in large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add rice flour and blend together well. Gradually add in milk, stirring constantly to keep sauce smooth. When sauce starts to bubble and thicken, add in grated cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. When cheese is all melted and blended in, add cooked broccoli.

Dress pasta with broccoli and cheese sauce. Lay on a blanket of shaved Parmesan cheese, snipped chives and chive blossoms and a wee bit of dill and serve hot.

Makes 6-8 servings.

I love when my chive plants are blossoming and will be strewing these lovely lavender blooms on my salads, pastas and stir-fries as long as they keep coming (and the bumble bees allow me in to harvest them). Incidentally, fresh chives are ridiculously easy to put up for eating out of season. Just rinse, pat dry and snip. Pack them into freezer containers or bags and you can just pull them out whenever you need a bit of chlorophyll over the winter. They will be a darker green color and a bit limper when they thaw, but they are very welcome bit of greenery and spring flavor in the heart of winter.

I'll be accepting Presto Pasta Night submissions through early Friday morning (May 25), and plan to post the roundup later that afternoon, so please feel free to send me your awesome pasta blog posts until then. I've already received some really tasty entries that I am excited to share with you later.

Monday, May 7, 2012

From Rhubarb to Renette Apples: The Weekend Herb Blogging #332 Roundup

There's an array of new recipes to try and interesting vegetables and fruits to admire in this week's roundup of Weekend Herb Blogging. Haalo of Cook Almost Anything gave me the honor of hosting this weekly blog event once again, and I've delighted in the tasty posts that have shown up in my email box this week.

Join me at this virtual banquet as we sample some wonderful WHB submissions from bloggers all around the world. I'm in the mood for sweets first!

Rhubarb is showing up at the Florida markets, so Lynn of Cafe Lynnylu was inspired to make some Rhubarb Vanilla Scones. She's got some gorgeous food photography on her blog, in addition to wonderful recipes, so drop by for a peek.

A simple but seductive Orange Jam recipe is Fele's contribution from the Ukraine on her blog Fairy-tale.  How about a dollop of this beautifully-colored jam on one of Lynne's rhubarb scones?

Australia's own Haalo of Cook Almost Anything joins us with a slice of strudel made with Renette apples. This homely, but dry-textured variety lends itself to baking projects and Haalo reports that the strudel was particularly CRISPY and didn't suffer from unforgivable, soggy bottom syndrome.

And now, how about something savory?

Stash is at the helm of The Spamwise Chronicles in New York City and this week he shows us an aromatic way to prepare my all-time favorite spring vegetable with his recipe for Asparagus with Coconut, Black Mustard Seeds and Cardamom.

It's off to Toronto to sample Janet of Taste Space's Sushi Roll Edamame Collard Wraps with Green Onion-Miso Vinaigrette. These wraps look so easy to make and carry for lunch or a picnic, and they look like they are loaded with layer upon layer of flavor.

Singapore food blogger Tigerfish sends us a beautifully presented dish of Sauteed Mung Bean Sprouts with Green Onions. Her  blog Tezcape has many other tantalizing recipes I am excited to explore.

Back to Europe and the Serbian food blog Palachinka to snack on some of Marija's Radicchio Pork Rolls. I'm with Marija on this one: radicchio is lovely raw in salads, but even better cooked!

I hope you all have saved some room for a hunk of Terry's Lasagna with Wild Herbs. Check out the recipe in English or Italian on her bilingual blog, Crumpets and Company, which comes to us from Venice, Italy. This recipe used nettles, dandelion leaves, hops sprouts, and bladder campion shoots.

Finally, here at the Crispy Cook in upstate New York, we have a recap of what I did with last summer's bountiful garden harvest of hot peppers and a quick and easy recipe for hot pepper, olive oil and garlic paste that I froze and have used to spice up a variety of dishes.

Well, I'm certainly stuffed, so I will just push back my virtual chair, pat my tummy and pass off the Weekend Herb Blogging torch (I envision the torch looks like a big fat bunch of leeks) to Cindystar over in Italy, who will be hosting WHB #333 next week. Thanks to Haalo for letting me roundup this wonderful blog event!