Friday, October 31, 2008

Photo Phriday: Happy Halloween!

For a few years now my dear sister has sent me bizarre Halloween cards in the mail, well actually she's only done it once before this one, but I loved the card so much it remained on my refrigerator for over three years. The stranger, the kitchier -- the better. Her latest one is of my dear little niece...
And the one that started it all: a beautiful rendition of her cat Cormac wishing me a Happy Halloween:
This makes me miss my sister even more than I normally do, so I had to create a Henry one... it's a rush-job, nowhere near as cool as my sister's, but it will have to do. He's a commando for Halloween in honor of the A-man (please note the hat hanging from his neck; he wanted nothing to do with it).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Simple Lentil

There is something incredibly satisfying about making an entirely vegan meal and feeling full afterwards. Before I went gluten and casein(dairy)-free I equated vegan eating with salads and feeling hungry; little did I know that my gluten and dairy intolerances would lead me to eat naturally vegan foods that now make up a large part of my diet. Foods that are satisfying, healthy and simple to put together.

Lentils are pretty cool. There are many different varieties of this round legume: brown, green, black, and yellow just to name a few; brown are the easiest to find around here. They are filling, probably due to the high amount of protein in them and have a good deal of dietary fiber. Also, for the ladies out there -- they're high in folate which is an important to have in your diet if you're thinking about reproducing.

I don't know if anyone else out there is like me, but I often cook right when I get up in the morning. Sure, a lot people probably cook eggs and pancakes first thing in the morning, but for some reason this morning I wanted lentils -- so lentils it is. I adapted a lentil recipe in Mark Bittman's book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and I do enjoy it quite a bit. I hope you do too.

Simple Lentil (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk (including leaves)
1 carrot, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
1 cup of dried lentils
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to a pan on medium high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and saute for about five minutes. Add the garlic, saffron, cayenne pepper and lentils and saute for one minute. Then, add the water, bring to a boil and then down to a simmer for at least thirty minutes until the majority of the liquid has reduced. It shouldn't be a soup, but it shouldn't be dry either.

I'm hoping at some point to ground dry lentil into a flour and create a batter to replicate the Indian daal wraps (they have a name that I cannot remember) that I get at Indian restaurants. They are amaaaazing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mom's Stuffed Pumpkin

If you can't tell by my Monday posts, Sunday is usually family day for the Good Eatah clan. In the past few months, the table has only been set for four people since my beloved sister, bro-in-law and niece moved to the mid-west. Come Thanksgiving though, we'll have a table set for thirteen which I'm really looking forward to. The A-man and his family will be coming down, my aunt and uncle will be in attendance and my sister, bro-in-law and niece are coming for a whole week! My mother is an amazing cook (or a "good cooker" as I used to call her when I was little) and always puts together an amazing spread and is now trying really hard to make her signature dishes gluten-free.

My sister, father and I are gluten-free and we all really love stuffing -- my mom's stuffing made with milk (gluten) crackers to be exact. We attempted to make hers with some gf crackers last year and there was something missing. Just yesterday however, my mom made an amazingly delicious wild rice stuffing that rivals her milk cracker stuffing. I couldn't get enough of it. She was kind enough to share with me her recipe and it's quite simple. I hope this makes an appearance for this year's Thanksgiving feast.

Mom's Wild Rice Stuffing in a Roasted Pumpkin (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves 4 for dinner

1 sugar pumpkin with a hole cut on top and scooped of seeds

1 lb gluten-free breakfast sausage (if sausage is in a casing, remove casing and discard)
1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped
3 large celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice blend (or just mix half brown rice/half wild rice)
2 eggs. whisked (optional)
1-2 teaspoons of Bell Seasonings
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a pan on medium heat, cook the sausage for a few minutes until lightly brown. Add the onion and cook with the sausage for another five minutes. Add the celery and cook another few minutes. Then, add the rice, two eggs and Bell Seasonings and salt and pepper to taste. Stuff in the pumpkin and place in a water bath in a casserole dish. Bake for one hour.

To serve simply scoop pumpkin with stuffing, or cut the pumpkin into slices and serve with stuffing on top.

And Henry wasn't sitting still long enough to take a picture of him with the food -- so Grandma gets to be in the shot again. She had never seen anyone stuff a pumpkin with stuffing and referred to it as "interesting" but still managed to gobble it up.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Photo Phriday: Sneaky Henry

This is a photo of me and three of my girlfriends (all three are going to be in my wedding party - yay!) taken last Friday night at my place. If you follow the yellow arrows you will see Henry in the background attempting to steal pad thai off of my counter.

He's a sneaky little bugger.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hearty Potato Soup with Crumbled Turkey Bacon

And so it begins: the cold, rainy, raw New England weather made it's first showing of the season today with temperatures in the forties (and a wind chill of 35), cloudy skies and cold rain. On days like these I need comfort. I need food. I need... comfort food.

Chicken pot pie. Meatloaf. Roasted vegetables. They're all great, but they all take time and I have yet to attempt to make chicken pot pie gluten free. So I made a quick and simple potato soup and it certainly did the trick. Well, actually I made it last night because I knew the weather forecast for today would be a gloomy one. And what do you know -- it's already all gone.

Hearty Potato Soup with Crumbled Turkey Bacon (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves 2 as a meal

8 baby red bliss potatoes (or four small white potatoes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 slices of turkey bacon
1 cup of soured almond milk (one cup of almond milk mixed with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, let sit for five minutes -- or use buttermilk)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock

Add the tablespoon of cornstarch to the almond milk mixture and let sit. Cut the potatoes into small, bite-size pieces and microwave in a bowl for ten minutes, stirring halfway through (you could boil the potatoes if you don't have a microwave). Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, add the olive oil and the turkey bacon (the turkey bacon I buy has very little fat on it, so it requires the olive oil). Fry until crispy and remove from pan. Add the onion to the now bacon flavored olive oil and cook for at least five minutes. Then, add the mostly cooked potatoes to the pan and combine with the onions. Take a potato masher and mash the potatoes in the pan. Then, add the soured almond milk/cornstach mixture and stock. If it is too thick, add more stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Serve warm and crumble the turkey bacon on top.

Poor Henry didn't even have a chance of getting a bite (there are onions in it after all).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Grandma's Stuffed Cabbage

The afternoon of cooking stuffed cabbage with my nintey-five year old Grandmother began with a request from her: "Do me a favor and taste the meat. I can't tell if it needs more salt." The meat she was referring to was two and a half pounds of raw ground beef sitting in a bowl on the kicthen table. So I asked her, "You want me to taste the raw meat?" And she replied "yes." There's a lot that I would do for my Grandmother, in fact, anything if it's what she needed, but eating raw ground beef to test it's salt content wasn't something I was willing to risk, so I told her I thought it might upset my sensitive stomach and that was good enough for her.

Grandma comes from a different time, a time apparently, when eating raw meat was okay: she was born in 1913 and grew up with four older brothers who were all born in Lithuania -- she was the only one in the family born in the U.S. Needless to say, the majority of her cooking is Lithuanian, but it can really be lumped into the Eastern European category: stuffed cabbage, kugeli, kushlanah (I'm spelling phonetically here on the last one -- it's gelled brains of some sort and my mother and grandmother are the only people I know who eat it). It's not pretty, delicate food -- but it sure is hearty and tasty (well, except for the brains one).

Grandma's Stuffed Cabbage (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves six people

2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 head of cabbage
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 potatoes, cubed (any kind will do)
3 large carrots, cut into chunks
5 cups tomato sauce

Add the whole cabbage to a large pot of boiling water and cook until tender, about ten minutes. Be careful when taking the cabbage out and let cool another ten minutes before handling. Peel each leaf of cabbage off and set aside. Mis the rice with the beef in a bowl and season with salt and pepper (but please don't taste at this phase like Grandma).

Next, add about two tablespoons of meat per leaf of cooked cabbage and roll like a burrito. Place in a casserole dish, add the potatoes and carrots on top and cover well with tomato sauce. Cook for one hour at 350 degrees.

Although our recent batch wasn't "her best" she stated (but really, she says that about everything), she still ate like a good eatah.

And it was perfectly salty.

Coming soon, Henry and Elsa's French Apple Pie...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Photo Phriday: The Travel Bug

When I got back from Taiwan in August, I got this feeling -- the same feeling I had when I was studying abroad in Australia during college: the urge to travel. Soon after settling back home, I booked a flight to Seattle and I'm happy I did. There's nothing like exploring new places, meeting new people, and of course -- eating new food to awaken the soul and put things into perspective.

When I travel I'm present, experiencing things in the moment, but it makes me appreciate what I do have back home: a loving family, a great set of friends and a job I love.

This photo was taken in Taiwan, it's of me talking about a "bubble fish" or "blow fish" on camera for a documentary I'm currently working on about our experience. And this post is food related, I ate the same type of fish for lunch just a few hours before that was shot. It was quite good and delicate, and is supposedly is good for the skin.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gluten-free in Seattle

I spent the long weekend in Seattle with my dear friend Lauren. Other than spending time with a friend I've had since I was four years old and exploring a new city, I was really looking forward to all the gluten-free food I could eat in Seattle.

Before I left, I did some research. Seattle is a forward-thinking city, much like Boston, with damn good coffee and an open market where I could (and did) spend hours and hours. Among the famous fish-throwing vendors and gorgeous flower stands, there was Pappardelle's Pasta whose charming employees call at you to try their chocolate pasta. After I declined and Lauren enjoyed a piece, I was asked again to try, I stated "Thanks, but I'm one of thsoe lucky people who's gluten intolerant", ready to explain what that meant I was caught off guard when the Papparadelle guy exclaimed "well, we have gluten-free pasta!" YES! Right in front of me was a bin full of gluten-free pasta. After chatting about all the gluten-free places I should try, I bought some and we were on our way. This was at 9AM on the first morning, we were off to a good gluten-free start.
Since it was 9AM, we needed some breakfast. We had already had our obligatory Seattle coffee (and yes, there is a Starbucks everywhere you turn) and it was strong and probably upped my blood pressure, so I needed some food in my stomach. Well, Pappardelle dude told me about Cinnamon Works, which was a mere fifty feet away (BTW, both of these places are located in Pike Place Market) and they have.... wait for it..... GLUTEN-FREE STICKY BUNS! I was so excited to hear this that I assumed the people that worked there would be as excited as me. Yeah, big let down there. The two chicks that I dealt with were about as excited as a rock. And about as pleasant as well, something not very pleasant. Regardless of the service, the sticky bun rocked and I had one again on Sunday.
I'm not sure if any other gluten-free bloggers like me automatically equate Seattle with Gluten Free Girl. I've been a reader of hers for well over a year, so of course I knew that her husband is the chef at the restaurant in Seattle called Impromptu. A wine bar and fine dining restaurant located in a cute part of the city, Madison Park. Well, before anything else, I knew I wanted to go there. So we made reservations for Sunday night and after spending the afternoon walking around Bainbridge Island (very cool place and a short and easy ferry ride from Seattle) I was ready to eat. Boy, it was good. I apologize for the lack of photos, it's dimly lit and small, so any sort of flash photography would have surely ruined the ambiance. To start with, we split the duck risotto and then I got the roasted chicken and Lauren got the trout. All were amazing, the service was great and prompt and pleasant, and I highly recommend it.

There were so many other places I wanted to try in Seattle: gluten-free, vegan pizza, freshly baked gluten-free bread, and an Ener-G Foods wholesale store.

Rock on Seattle. Rock on.

And it wouldn't be a good eatah post without the obligatory dog photo -- this is of a friendly Corgi we met on Bainbridge Island.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Really, I believed people when they said using fresh pumpkin was so much better than using canned pumpkin in recipes, but I always thought that roasting a pumpkin, or peeling, chopping and boiling a pumpkin would be time consuming. It is, not terribly so, but it is soooo worth it: the color is more vibrant, the taste is so fresh and there's something satisfying about carving the top out of a pumpkin and scooping out those hard-to-get seeds that puts a smile on my face.

The color of this soup, the flavor and the texture even is beyond any other soup I've ever made. I owe it to the roasting of the sugar pumpkin and the addition of coconut milk. I whipped this together in no time (but allow for at least an hour for the pumpkin to roast and then cool). Use an entire sugar pumpkin and double this recipe, I only used half a pumpkin because I'm going away this weekend and don't want it to go to waste.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

makes two dinner-sized portions

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
One heaping cup chopped roasted sugar pumpkin (1/2 small sugar pumpkin) [to roast a sugar pumpkin, cut the top off of the pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and roast in the over at 350 for about an hour, let cool at least 10 minutes before handling and chopping]
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup coconut milk (can use light)
1 teaspoon curry powder

In a pot on medium heat saute the onion in the olive oil for about five minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and pumpkin and saute briefly. Then add the vegetable stock, coconut milk and curry. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes. Take the soup off the heat and let cool a bit. You can either use a immersion blender and blend right in the pot, or transfer your soup to a blender or food processor to get the soup to it's desired consistency.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Photo Phriday: Pretty Pooch

My parents dog Elsa, sometime in August, having at her bone.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Kale My Favorite Way

Melissa's* recent post on cabbage got me thinking about it's cousin, and my favorite vegetable: kale. Superfood is the word that comes to mind when thinking about kale; it's my go-to leafy green. And for someone who doesn't eat milk products (three years ago I would have never believed I could be someone who doesn't eat cheese or milk, but that's another story...) and misses out on calcium; it helps to fill that void.

I remember reading somewhere that kale is thought of so highly in Scotland as a health food that the phrase "to be off one's kale" actually means to be ill.

There are many wonderful things to do with kale: kale mashed potatoes (must. make. this. soon.), kale chips (another simple favorite of mine that I make in small batches in my toaster oven) and kale sweet potato soup just to name a few, but here's my super-simple current favorite:

Apple Cider Kale

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 cups of loosely packed chopped kale leaves
2 tablespoons apple cider
dash of nutmeg

In a pan over medium-high heat, saute the onion in the olive oil for about three minutes. Add the kale and saute for another minute, then add the apple cider and nutmeg and saute until the cider has rendered (I like to do this over higher heat, so the kale doesn't wilt too much). You may find you want more or less of the cider, depending on how wilted you like your kale, I like mine pretty in tact, so 2 tablespoons works for me.

*You should also check out her recent post on sugar, it is filled with the facts you need to help cut the sugar habit (if you're like me, that is, and eat too many sweets).