Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kasha in Honor of Rosh Hashanah

Try saying that ten times fast.

My local (and I mean local, I live about 500 feet from it) grocery store is very good about carrying Jewish food items. During Passover, they always have a wide variety of Shabtai Gourmet foods which I highly recommend in the packaged-gluten-free-dessert category, but yesterday in their dedicated Rosh Hashanah section I noticed kasha, which is buckwheat in it's full-on grain form. I had purchased kasha before and I didn't know what to do with it and ended up making a dish that was pretty boring, but this brand -- Wolff's, has recipe suggestions on the back of their box and label their product "gluten-free" right on the front. Very smart, Wolff's, very smart!

Now a disclaimer: I'm not Jewish. I'm not even Jew-ish. So, I'm not sure how this is actually supposed to taste and honestly, the smell of the kasha put me off at first -- I didn't know what to make of it. But, the texture and the taste won me over: hearty and nutty. So, if you're looking for a new gluten-free grain to experiment with, give kasha a try.

Wolff's Kasha (with a few additions of my own)

1 small onion, chopped
1/2 to 3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped
oil to saute in

2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or water)
2 tablespoons margarine (gf/df)

1 cup kasha
1 egg white

salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 dried apricots, chopped

In a skillet on medium heat, saute the onion and mushrooms for about five minutes. Meanwhile, place the broth and margarine in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. While that is happening, coat the cup of kasha with the egg white. Take the onion and mushrooms out of the pan and set aside. In the same pan on medium-high heat, add the egg white/kasha mixture and cook until the grains seperate -- about three minutes. Next, add the boiling broth/margarine mixture, salt, pepper, thyme, nutmeg and apricots. Cover tightly with a lid and cook for about ten minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste for seasoning and add whatever it needs.

I might try this with curry next time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How Do You Like Them Apples?

The A-man and I went apple picking on Monday at Doe Orchards in Harvard, MA. I have great memories as a child here: they have over sixty acres of land for guests to roam and over six different varieties of apples to choose from. I've kind of been obsessed with the idea of the two of us picking apples this fall and using them to make jars of apple butter to use as favors at our wedding. This is a lofty goal I know, but if I start soon and have some help, I'm sure it can get done! I've been eyeing some slow-cooker recipes, so that may be the route we go. I'll certainly be posting about it.

Here's the A-man enjoying the "fruits" of our labor (sorry, couldn't resisit). For some reason, it's very difficult for him to act normal in photos; he always feels the need to make a scary face, eat something, or don a wig and glasses. Oh A-man.

While the apple butter project will be put on hold for a few weeks (we're storing the apples in a cold, dark place -- also known as my porch) we decided to use up a few of our pickings with some individual apple crisps: gluten free, dairy free, and vegan (but don't tell him that).

I adapted the recipe from the food network show, The Neely's, found here. And speaking of the food network, Jen of Sugar and Spice and My Gluten Free Life has a great post about the channel here.

Individual Apple Crisps (gluten free, dairy free, vegan)

4 Macintosh Apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons sorghum flour (or any gf flour)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice

3/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (I used half white rice flour, half sorghum)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons of cold, vegan, gluten-free butter (I used Earth Balance)

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl and place in 4 8 oz ramekins (you may have a little left over). Next, for the topping, mix together the flour mix, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and cut in the "butter" with two knives, or with a pastry cutter until pea-size pieces form. Gently fold in the pecans and sprinkle over the filling.

Bake for twenty-five to thirty minutes and let sit for at least five minutes before serving.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Man Food

The A-man is home!

Well, home as in stateside; it's not like we actually live together -- that would be too easy. Nooo, he lives about 700 miles away, so once he got to the U.S. and decompressed a bit, he flew up to see me and we spent a glorious 72+ hours together. Ahhh, how lucky I feel! Really, I do. According to his math; he has been deployed for 44 out of the past 52 weeks so he needed some darn leave time, and he got it. But alas, he's off to train for over a month down south and so the distance continues.

We started off one meal with this delicious gluten-free hard cider -- J.K. Scrumpy's. We found it at Whole Foods and it wasn't too sweet, which I find to be the case with most hard ciders. Then came the food -- I eat differently around him; the word "hardy" comes to mind when I think of the food we eat. I often try to get him to eat kale and spinach and use agave instead of splenda, but when a man comes home from war -- you just want him to eat what he likes. So no off the cuff experimental foods. Steak and potatoes (and I even snuck an onion in there) were on the menu.

It's funny how well we work in the kitchen together. I chop, he mixes. I braise, he roasts. All while not bumping into each other (and Henry who is always at our feet waiting for something to fall) in my small kitchen. I think it says something about our future: may our married life be as easy as our time together in the kitchen.

We made a horseradish-crusted roast beef with roasted red onions and a baked potato. Both recipes are care of Tyler Florence

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Photo Phriday

As part of my Birthday present, my sister sent me two packages of gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher dark chocolate peanut butter cups from the Chocolate Emporium.

Seriously, these things are absolutely amazing and they came beautifully wrapped with a little birthday note... another great gluten-free vendor.

And P.S. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs -- this is as close as Henry got.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Henry!

Today is Henry's Birthday. Well, it could be. About a year ago I decided that Henry and I would have the same Birthday. You see, when you've got yourself a rescue pup and no one knows his history, you end up making up your own. For instance, I am convinced Henry spent his first year traveling with truck drivers; the way in which he cuddles up in my passenger seat and *places his head on the center console, keeping his eyes fixed on me while I drive makes me wonder. I am also convinced that he was bred to hunt squirrels and rabbits; his sense of smell and instinct to chase all things small and furry is primal.

When I imagine what his first year was like I also conjure up images of abuse, moving from home to home and running lost in the woods, but I like to focus on the present. Henry was rescued by the organization Pet Matchmaker last August, so just recently we had our one year anniversary. In honor of those significant dates and the fact that I am a strong proponent of adopting dogs from shelters and rescue organizations I give you a list of the ways in which this crazy, lovable, nub-tailed mutt has improved my quality of life:

1. He keeps me moving. I've always been one to go to the gym and workout, but I certainly have my days where it's the last thing I want to do. While Henry doesn't drag me to the gym, I know the consequences of not taking him for his daily walks and runs. Regardless of the weather, my mood, or how busy I am, the pooch needs his walk, which means I get mine too.

2. No matter how supportive your friends and family are, having the love of your life in a war zone can be lonely, depressing and can cause some major anxiety. Having someone to come home to with a wagging tail and excited howl lifts my spirits regardless of the day I've been having.

3. He's a vacuum cleaner. This is a cooking blog, so as you can imagine, I make a mess in the kitchen quite often. If food ever falls on the floor, no need to worry that it will go to waste, Henry will be there to gobble it up.

4. He can read me. One day I was feeling deathly ill and weak with a high temperature and had to leave work early. I was worried that once I got home Henry would be antsy to go for a walk and play. As soon as I stepped in the door I started crying -- the weakness and fever was overbearing and I threw myself onto the couch and Henry got it. This normally high-energy wacko jumped up on the couch, snuggled right in and comforted me for the night.

5. And since adopting Henry a lot has happened: I have moved into my own place, watched the A-man leave for war, watched my sister give birth to my beautiful niece, joyfully welcomed the A-man back from war, got proposed to, watched my sister, bro-in-law and new niece move to the middle of the country, watched the A-man leave for war again, and traveled halfway around the world for work. That's a lot of ups and downs for one year and this little guy has been by my side for all of it.

Henry's not perfect and neither am I. We had a rough start; his behavior issues and lack of training were extremely stressful to deal with. He's gotten loose and run off for hours at a time, he's ingested chocolate and scared me to death, and at one point his barking caused my new, grumpy, old neighbor to lecture me (I own up to all three of these instances; they were my fault) about my dog. Dog care isn't all fun and if it weren't for my parents who willingly take him on weekends that I am away and treat him like a member of their family, I probably wouldn't have a dog, but this dog, this somtimes smelly, somtimes loud, sometimes embarassing ball of muscle brings me so much love that I know I would feel empty without him.

To some people, a dog's a dog. To me, he's a whole lot more.

For a great resource on where you can view adoptable pets in your area, please visit Petfinder.com

*I do not recommend traveling with your pet in the front seat. There are many good harness seat-belt systems out there that are meant for dogs in cars.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I have a confession to make..

I had a slice of pie for breakfast this morning. And, in the past, I've eaten cake first thing in the morning. And once even, on a really hot day, ice cream (pre-dairy free) was my breakfast of choice.

I'm not proud of this. Nor do I recommend it, but sometimes you just eat what your body craves.

I think they do their breakfasts right in Taiwan. During my stay there most days breakfast consisted of rice porridge and a variety of greens and meats to serve with that porridge (another post on the subject with be posted soon). Traditionally, no sweets (pancakes, donuts, waffles, etc.) were served with breakfast and quite honestly that's probably the best way to do it (I noticed the ever-inspiring Sally does the same for breakfast). No sugar in the morning means you're starting your day off right without any spike in blood sugar. And that's a good way to start the day.

However, my pie this morning was homemade and I knew just how much sugar went into it, so I felt at least a little better about it. That, and it was practically calling my name.

My Grandma, the one who nicknamed me the good eatah (and who is in the background of the photo above), is also famous for her pies. Really, I went on a limb here making an apple pie that wasn't hers. At the tender age of 95 she's a bit confused about the whole gluten thing, so we made a deal for Thanksgiving this year: I'll make the crusts and bring them to her house and then we'll make the fillings together.

Apple Pie (gluten-free, dairy-free,vegatarian)

I took what I knew from making crusts with Grandma and mixed in some of my gf knowledge to come up with this:

1 cup brown rice flour (I use superfine)
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tablespoon xantham gum
2 egg yolks
1 cup organic shortening (I use Spectrum brand)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup cold water
dash of salt

5 apples, sliced, peeled and cored
1 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice (or cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice)
1/3 cup powdered maple syrup (you can certainly use regular sugar here, if so, I'd use 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons vegan butter-spread
1 tablespoon demerara sugar (optional)

I made my crust by hand since my glorious dishwasher disfigured my food processor bowl...

In a large bowl combine flours, xantham gum and salt and whisk together to get out any lumps. In a smaller bowl, combine the vinegar, egg yolks and water and whisk to combine. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and then cut in the shortening using two knives until the shortening is evenly distributed. Cut the dough in half and flatten into a dish and wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Once you are ready to use them, take them out of the frigde and let sit for about five minutes before working with them. Place one half of the dough between two large pieces of parchment or wax paper, and roll until slightly larger than whatever size pie dish you have (8 inch or 9 inch works with this recipe). With the other half you can roll out the dough in the same manner and make a lattice, like shown below (click here on a great guide on how to create a lattice top). My mom's a master at them and created the one for our apple pie.

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the peeled, cored and sliced apples into a bowl and add the apple pie spice. Mix until evenly coated and place into the pie dish. Add the powdered maple syrup (or sugar) on top and drop small pieces of the butter-spread among the apples. Add the lattice top, or rolled out dough and place in the oven. Cook for about an hour, or until the apples are well cooked. This crust does not brown very much.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Crazy About Quinoa

The recent comment from Emilia of Gluten Free Day (a beautiful and informative blog, check it out if you haven't been there before) on my latest quinoa post is something I can completely relate to:

"I sometimes worry that I eat too much quinoa and will become allergic to it too. I don't know if that's possible though."

I'm beginning to feel that way too. Since first throwing together this dish, I've managed to eat it three or four times already. There's something about the slightly spicy kick that my "secret ingredient" adds to the dish. It can certainly be prepared without being stuffed into a zucchini, but I really liked the change in texture between the crisp zucchini and the slightly chewy quinoa.

Kicked Up Quinoa (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

2 heaping cups of cooked quinoa
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon vegan butter spread
1 tablespoon (more of less depending on how much heat you like) Thai spicy chili sauce (my "secret" ingredient -- the brand I buy is similar to this)
Salt and pepper to taste

First, I cut two zucchini lengthwise and scooped out the seeds with a spoon.

Then, to a pan on medium high heat I sauteed the onion and pepper in olive oil for about five minutes.
Then, I added the cooked quinoa and added the "butter" and chili sauce. Cook for a few minutes and taste. Add salt, pepper and more butter and/or chili sauce to your liking.

Spoon the quinoa mixture into your zucchini, there will be plenty left over, so I just served it on the side.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Photo Phriday & A Recommendation

This is who I spent my Labor Day weekend with:

That's my niece and I am completely smitten. She's just over five months old and is a complete love. My sister even let me wear her in her Ergo baby carrier throughout the weekend. My sister, bro-in-law and niece used to live minutes away, but now they're living in the midwest, so it makes my time visiting them even more precious.

And that's the gluten-free, dairy-free pizza that we ate one day. It was AWESOME! I highly recommend Ener G pizza crust. And FYI, hormel pepperoni is gluten-free.