Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gluten Free Turkey Day Recap & Super Simple Kale Dip

Part of the reason I'm able to stay healthy and stick to my gluten-free diet is because I have a wonderfully supportive family who does whatever they can to adapt and change their recipes to be safe for me to eat. For instance, this Thanksgiving there wasn't a single dish with gluten in it: turkey, ham, pureed butternut squash, cranberry bread, potato celery root puree, mushroom gravy, spinach pomegranate salad, sausage and cornbread stuffing, braised brussel sprouts, spiced cranberry chutney, Indian corn pudding, carrot cake and pies galore.

I could eat it all (and did). I'm one lucky gal.

I should really have my mother write a guest post describing how she did it; how she fed thirteen people with a deliciously satisfying meal, using mostly local ingredients and remaining sane while doing it. The whole family played a large role in fact -- my sister made the spinach salad, pureed butternut squash and braised brussel sprouts. I was in charge of the potato and celery root puree (aka mashed potatoes), pumpkin pie and kale dip. My soon-to-be mother in law made the cranberry chutney (made with wild picked Maine cranberries) and amazing cranberry bread (with a bit of orange zest in it -- yum) and the rest was up to dear mom. Hopefully, she'll take me through how she made the stuffing, because really it should be a staple in all gluten-free cooks repertoire.

And Dad. Dear Dad did all the dishes (and a lot of the food prep). The kitchen was overflowing with dishes once we were done and it was spotless when he was through with it. Now that's a team player.

I thought I'd finish off this post with a super simple recipe for kale dip that I made for our appetizer spread (which also included a cheese tray, shrimp cocktail, and rock crab).

Super Simple Kale Dip

gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian

1 cup light mayonnaise
9 oz package of frozen chopped kale, thawed
1/2 onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until combined (your goal is to make it look like a typical spinach artichoke dip, so try not to over-puree it).

Serve with gluten-free crackers (we used Blue Diamond brand nut thins -- the smokehouse flavor is also dairy-free), carrot sticks and celery.

And of course Henry was there right under the table, just waiting for the occasional crumb to drop.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photo Phriday: Polar Bear Butt Heart?

That's the only title I could come up with for this photo.
At work we recently held a screening for a documentary I co-hosted and produced on Taiwan and as I was looking through photos, I was reminded of this one, taken at the Ju Ming Museum, just north of Taipei.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Millet Solution

Jenny at Sugar and Spice and my Gluten-Free Life recently wrote about breakfast and her quest to find the best replacement for instant oatmeal. I am a big oatmeal fan, but unfortunately have discovered that I can't eat more than half of a cup (of the certified gluten-free kind) at a time without feeling ill (in the celiac/gluten intolerance world, it's still questionable whether oats are acceptable), so I'm in the market as well to find a replacement. After a few failed attempts to find that perfect warm dish of goodness, she came upon Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Mighty Tasty Hot Breakfast Cereal. I'm a fan of this stuff as well, but like a little variety in my mornings, so again on a note from my super-intelligent sis, I played around with some millet. And out came delicious goodness. I adapted a recipe that I found on recipezaar to my liking and what do you know, a warm breakfast that outshines my long foregone oats.

Millet Porridge (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

serves 4 for breakfast

3/4 cup dry millet
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup almond milk (or cow's, hemp, rice...)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt


dried cranberries (or dried apricots, coconut, raisins...)
pecan halves (or almonds, walnuts...)
maple syrup (or honey, agave...)
more almond milk if reheating

In a saucepan combine the millet, water, almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a light simmer and cover. Cook for 25 minutes and remove from heat and serve. Top with whatever you like, but I'm partial to a little maple syrup, dried cranberries and pecans.

It stays well in the refrigerator for a week; when re-heating, be sure to add a bit more almond milk until you reach your desired consistency.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Photo Phriday: Mischief

I have a set of stairs in my place that I often use to exercise Henry with: I throw a toy down the stairs, he chases after it, I wrangle it from his mouth and it goes on and on until he gets tuckered out. I recently threw his favorite rope toy down the stairs and it got stuck in the railing and for some reason that scared him; I just love the look on his face.

Also, notice the stuffed animal remains on the stairs? He's a wild pooch.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sweet Potato Pudding

I had such a difficult time trying to figure out what to call this: Sweet potato souffle? Sweet potato custard? Crustless sweet potato pie? Delicious sweet potato side-dish/breakfast/brunch/Thanksgiving day food? It could be all of them!

If you're a member of my family, or are the man I'm about to marry, you know I can be incredibly indecisive. In fact, I'm so indecisive that I didn't decide where I was going to go to college until about a week before I had to leave (I put two deposits in). So please, be proud of me here, I named it and I'm sticking with it: sweet potato pudding.

I'm kind of in love (darnit, there I go again with the indecsiveness...) I mean I am in love with it. I've already eaten half of my batch. It's pretty simple to put together and the main ingredient, the sweet potato, is another rarely allergenic food! I learned this from my sister because she is starting to introduce my niece to food that is not breast milk and is making an effort to use foods that are the least allergenic and avocado and sweet potato top that list.

I was inspired to create this dish when I was thumbing through my trusty copy of The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen -- a truly awesome cookbook.

Sweet Potato Pudding (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves 4 for dessert, or side-dish, or breakfast...

2 lbs sweet potato (or about two cups mashed), cooked and peeled (a simple way to cook a sweet potato is in the microwave: about 6 or 7 minutes should do)
1 cup almond milk (or soy, rice, hemp...)
3 eggs, whisked
2 teaspoons coconut oil (or any other light tasting oil)
1/3 cup agave
2 tablespoons mollasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a baking dish (sorry no measurements -- mine was round and ceramic) with a bit of coconut oil. Whisk together the almond milk, eggs, coconut oil, agave, mollasses, cinnamon, nuteg and salt. Add the sweet potato and either: transfer to a food processor to evenly mix eveything together, or use an immersion blender to incorporate all the ingredients -- I did the latter. Pour into dish and bake for just under an hour, or until a knife comes out clean in the middle.

Serve warm, or chill in the fridge and serve cold.

Henry really has a thing for sweet potatoes; I usualy end up baking the skins that I don't use and give them to him as treats.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bison & Black Bean Chili

One of my favorite things about going skiing happens after I get off the mountain: getting to a ski lodge, unloosening my ski boots and filling my stomach with chili. At that point, I'm usually too cold and my quads hurt too much to care what the chili is actually made of (in ski lodges, it's usually not pretty). All I really care about is the warmth, both from the temperature and the spiciness to heat up my usually frozen core. But now that I have to really investigate the foods I eat away from home, I find it easier to just cook it myself. And while I'm at it, I might as well make it a bit healthier too.

My mother was making a kasha chili when I was home last, and approached me with what beans I would rather have in it: red or black. After comparing the cans' sodium and fiber content, I decided the black beans were a better choice: more fiber, less salt. Also, bison has been my choice of meat in many recipes that normally call for beef. A few reasons why can be found here:

- Bison is the only red meat that is non-allergenic.
- Bison has 40% more protein than beef so you can eat 1/3 less volume and still come away satisfied.
- Bison meat has fewer calories and less cholesterol than chicken, fish, or ostrich.

And apparently they're the only mammal that doesn't contract cancer.

Bison & Black Bean Chili (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves 4 for dinner

1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb ground bison
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup of water (or stock)
5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon Thai red chili paste (optional -- use more chili powder if omitting)

In a pot on medium heat, add the olive oil and then the onion. Cook for about five minutes until fragrant. Add the yellow pepper and garlic and saute for at least one minute. If using, here is where I added the Thai red chili paste, if not, season with about a teaspoon of the chili powder. Then add the ground bison and cook until almost cooked through, about another five minutes. Add another teaspoon of chili powder. Then, add the crushed tomatoes, one cup of water, and beans and season again with chili powder. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and let simmer for at least twenty minutes until serving.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Photo Phriday: Drool Inducing

I didn't want to write anything before you got through with the photos because I didn't want to take away from the beauty that is Ricki's recipes. I've been testing out recipes for her cookbook entitled Sweet Freedom (coming out in February! yay!) for just under a couple of months now. And I could really get used to this: recipe tester/documentarian/dog runner. That might just be my ideal lifestyle.

All of her recipes are well thought out and use the healthiest of ingredients with lots of tips and tricks to make her baked goods the healthiest they can be. There really ought to be more cookbooks like this in the market; I think she's starting the trend.

From top to bottom: fruit and nut rice squares, almond cookies, chocolate mint cookies and macaroons. All vegan. Many gluten-free options. And all gosh-darn delicious -- even more reason I would need to be a dog runner/recipe tester: to keep off the pounds because I couldn't stop eating them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Lonely Celeriac

Just look at that guy: indented, dirty, and plain off-putting -- like a pineapple gone horribly bad. I don't think there's a vegetable out there that's scarier looking than the celeriac in it's natural form; it's the ugly duckling of the food world... which makes me like it even more.

I remember seeing an episode of Alton Brown's Good Eats where he spent an entire program on the celeriac, so I looked up the episode, found the recipe for his celeriac puree and tweaked it a bit to fit my food intolerances. With is subtle sweetness and earthy flavor, it's perfect for this time of year.

Celeriac and Potato Puree (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

serves 4 as a side

1 head celeriac
1 large potato (I used an Idaho)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
5 cups of water
2 tablespoons milk (rice, almond, hemp...)

Cut the top and bottom off the celeriac and peel the celeriac (do no wash or it will get slimy and become difficult to peel) and cut into cubes. Peel the potato and cut into cubes.

Add the olive oil to a saucepan on medium heat and cook the garlic, celeriac and potato for about five minutes. Increase the heat to medium heat and add the water. Cook the potato and celeriac in the water for about twenty minutes. Drain, place back in pan, add the milk and puree with an immersion blender for about a minute. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.

To keep with the Fall theme, you can even serve it in a hallowed out pumpkin (that's A-man in the back reading the paper).