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Archive for the ‘gluten-free’ Category

~Note: I wrote this post last year right before I went into labor and had the cutest kid in the world (for more on The Cutest Kid in the World, see previous post), Thousands of wipes, diapers, and spit rags later and here I am finally posting it. Now, that I’ve set you up for an appetizing read (recipe included) I hope you enjoy this blast from my past.  Last year seems light years away. If you’re going to travel that far and fast, you might want to bring something hearty along with you for the ride.  Moussaka it is! ~

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I recently had a friend bring over what must have been a 30lb foil tray of the closest thing I’ve ever had to an eggplant-free Greek-inspired potato casserole.It made me think of the fact that I would have been partially Greek if my goofy uncles hadn’t beaten up the poor guy who wanted to marry my very Sicilian grandmother back in the 1940s. Brokenhearted, she ended up marrying her, um, psychologically unhinged first cousin instead and had a wonderful marriage of ducking knife-throws and sauce spoon rampages by a bald man in a head scarf.  Don’t blame me – it was 70 years ago and people were strange, but I still think I would have made one heck of a good partial Greek (and Athena would have been such a cute middle name). But anyway, back to the casserole of wonders.

Upon tasting and devouring half of it for a week I decided to call the delightful dish Autumn Moussaka and ever since have scoured recipes for different variations of a dish my wonderful friend packed with so many different vegetables and cheeses I started to wonder if I would find the holy grail hidden between the layers of potatoes, ground beef, and copious amounts of mozzarella and ricotta.  Grail still missing in time, but what I did find gives a great alternative to the tried and true, yet exhaustively tired array of Anything Made With Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Something as a Wonderful Fall Meal.

I make mine sans the eggplant, since I’m still not sure if it’s a true allergy of mine or not, and haven’t had the gumption to sit in my car in the Good Samaritan Hospital parking lot with a big chunk of Baba Ganoush and toss the Food Allergy Dice – Swelled Tongue Edition. Plus, there’s nothing like a potato-based, baked, layered slice of delight for these chilly Fall evenings here on the East Coast.

Here you go, Loves – from my growing tummy to your deep dish baking pan.  Opa!

Autumn Moussaka

What you will need:

oven, preheated to 375

 medium-sized glass baking dish, foil pan or deep cast-iron skillet

about 4 Yukon Gold or White Potatoes, parboiled slightly and  sliced (peel if you wish)

1 med onion, sliced

1/2 lb ground meat or keep veggie if you wish, doubling the quantity of vegetables you use or fill in with a pack of med crumble tofu

assorted veggies: broccoli, cabbage, spinach, zucchini,root vegetables, etc – anything seasonal that you have on hand and want to throw in

end of season tomatoes (about 3 med) or a med can of whole tomatoes, sliced

1 cup each cheese of your choice: ricotta or other soft cheese, mozzarella or cheddar and a 1/2 cu, romano, parm or other hard cheese to grate on top cheese layer (you can also make this vegan by using a variety of non-dairy cheeses, or nutritional yeast, if you can handle the stuff)

2 eggs

oil for pan

butter or coconut oil

fresh basil leaves

 small bunch each end of year fresh herbs: rosemary, oregano, parsley, dill or dry herbs to taste

few dashes of paprika (smoked, if you have it)

How to:

 Saute onion in a large sauce pan in butter or coconut oil until just translucent.  Add cabbage (if using) and saute until soft, about 10 mins,stirring frequently. Throw in rest of veggies (except potatoes) until just slightly browned, salt and peppering mixture to taste. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat about a 1/2 c of butter or coconut oil under low heat, stirring, until browned.  Pour butter or oil in a bowl over sliced potatoes, add paprika, and stir carefully to mix.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix eggs with soft cheese.  Oil pan and start layering potatoes first, followed by meat, veggies, tomatoes, soft cheese mixture, and other cheeses on top of that laying or sprinkling herbs over last layer of hard cheese.  Keep layering all the way to top of pan making sure you save enough cheese for the top layer.  Make sure your herbs for the top layer go under one layer of med-texture cheese so they don’t burn on top.

Stick it in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes until a large skewer or fork goes through middle of casserole easily and cheese is melty and bubbling on top.

Let sit for about 10-15 minutes and happily devour.

This would also be good accompanied by a white sauce.  Here’s a nice, basic coconut milk based recipe:

Dairy-free White Sauce

If you don’t want to go dairy free completely, feel free to add some grated cheese in with the coconut milk for a really creamy, rich texture.

  • 1 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 3 tbs butter or cooking oil
  • 3-4 tbs arrowroot, corn, or tapioca starch
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • additional seasonings as desired – like Italian seasoning, or Herbes de Provence
  • 1 sm onion or 2 sm shallots,  1 stalk celery,, minced
  • 1/4 broth -veg or other

How to:

Melt butter or heat oil over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add minced garlic or shallots, and celery and sauté until tender.

Mix 3 TBS starch into the saucepan, it should become a thick paste. If it’s runny, add a bit more starch until it’s thick.

Whisk in the broth, continue whisking, and pour in the coconut milk. Add salt and spices and continue whisking over med head until sauce thickens to desired texture.

Try not to drink it straight from the pan (always my downfall).

Athena may not publicly approve but she’d lick her lips between forkfuls in the privacy of her own temple atop Mt. Olympus while going over final blueprints of the EuroDisney mini Greek Parthenon exhibit.  Or something like that.  Just go with it.

Opa!

Cellina – The Hopeful Foodie.

Special thanks to Julie Baker for inspiring this recipe and filling my tummy with Large Baked Things on an almost weekly basis.

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I don’t know who first came up with the concept of reaching into a dead, plucked, and fully scoured bird’s orifice for the very reason of stuffing a loaf of bread up there only to reach in there yet again a few hours later, take it out and eat it.  I’m always amused, however, by how protective we Americans are of our families’ stuffing creations.  So protective, in fact, that we have to lock the recipe in the family vault and make sure no young whippersnapper ever comes along and tries to change it (even a tiny, little bit) for any reason what-so-ever.  You’d think with all of that effort and secrecy we’d found a way to stuff our missiles with that mixture of bread, eggs, and more sage than an Apache reservation.  But no, we reserve this load of carbs and sulfur for a very special celebration each year where we fill ourselves with so much food and family togetherness that by the time the December holidays come around all we want to do is escape to Euro Disney till January 1st rears it’s snowy head.

But I digress.  Some of you may be able to relate to this set-in-stone stuffing tradition, and even more if you’ve been chosen to be the red-headed stepchild of family change due to your or your kids’ food allergies.  Nothing says family togetherness like angry, tight-faced relatives reacting to “this new re-vamped, more intestine-friendly” Thanksgiving menu you’ve come up with, especially if it includes defiling the sanctity and holiness of Mom’s (or Dad’s or dead Aunt Bea’s) Special Stuffing.  I realized this when we informed my father-in-law (who’s been so good with “all this crazy food stuff”) a few years ago that we were making cornbread stuffing that year instead of the traditional stuff to better accommodate our food allergies and change things around a bit.  For him, that was  the sacred altar of food ritual that you just did not put your slimy little hands all over.  Breading the Tuesday night fish with rice flour instead of wheat? Fine.  Gluten-free pancakes in Ocean City? Sure.  But do not mess with an 85 year old man’s sage stuffing.  Just don’t do it.

Well, we did it, and it was awesome, even to the aging, set-in-his-ways Sicilian (who took it home to eat all week).   It first started out with just caramelized onions and cornmeal, then the year after we added sausage to the mix, which was incredible.  This year, I decided roasted garlic and chestnuts would be a great addition to this ever-evolving new tradition in our allergy-friendly family.  It’s just the one thing I can’t pass up, and this carb-loving girl is not gonna let the yeast get her down for the nosh-happiest holiday of the year (besides Easter, where we gorge our way to salvation).

So anyway, here’s the recipe extraordinaire for all you brave, sassy stuffing changers out there.  By the way, if we were really being traditional, we’d be eating Bambi and Loosey Goosey for dinner on Turkey Day……but I digress again.  Bon appetit!

Caramelized Onion and Sausage Cornbread Stuffing

  • 2tbs butter or oil
  • 1 lg sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 lb loose pork sausage (sweet)
  • 1/4 c cooked chestnuts
  • 2-3 cloves of roasted garlic (we put them in the toaster oven, skins on, with a bit of olive oil in a ramekin and let roast on med low for a good 45 mins or so)
  • 6 lg cornmeal muffins, torn to bits*
  • Handful fresh sage and thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c heavy cream (dairy or soy) or non-dairy milk product (we use almond milk)
  • 1/4 c veg or chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

mmmhmmm

Melt butter or oil in a med skillet over med-low heat.  Add onions, sweat and cover for about 15 mins, stirring occasionally, until they caramelize a nice golden brown.  Add a little sea salt to the pan to bring out flavor.  Add sausage, chestnuts and roasted garlic (peeled)  and stir constantly for about 5 mins until flavors meld.  Sprinkle mixture with some pepper.  Add sage and scrape into a lg mixing bowl.  Add cornbread pieces and more s&p to taste as you toss to combine.

chopped chestnuts and roasted garlic - going steady

In a seperate bowl, whish together egg, cream or milk, and stock and pour that over cornbread mixture. Stir the stuffing together and either stuff your bird or plop into an oven- safe container to bake for the last 30 mins of your turkey cooking time.  Bake until hot and crusty on top.

no bluffin' for these muffins

*Cornmeal Muffins

Liquid Ingredients:

  • 2 lg eggs, lightly beaten, at room temp
  • 1 c milk (we use almond), at room temp
  • 1/3 cup oil (grapeseed or canola works well)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 c cornmeal (we use Bob’s gf)
  • 1 heaping c flour (we use Bob’s gf all purpose)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar or the agave/stevia equivalent of such
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease six cups of a muffin pan.

In a lg bowl, beat liquid ingredients with electric mixer on low until thoroughly blended.  In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients until also blended. With mixer on low, gradually beat in dry ingredients until blended and slightly thickened, like cake batter.  Pour mixture into each cup just about to top.

Bake 20-30 mins, until tops are firm and sides are lightly browned.  Cool in pan and transfer to cooling rack or bag for later use.

Happy Holidays!

Cellina – The Hopeful Foodie

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Ah, the joys of Winter:  bear-like hibernation, warm hearth-side fires, steaming bowls of hearty soup and the impending threat of something called The Flu Bug.

I think our very fear of Winter sickness and the belief that “it’s that time of year” and that it only makes sense that a cold will happen is the actual culprit that results in piles of used Puffs tissue and the much-loved hacking cough of this barren season.  It hit us both like a ton of bricks between Thanksgiving and Christmas and hasn’t taken many breaks since (save for a very nice do-nothing weekend spent on the Eastern Shore). This time it was the flu and it’s frustrated both of us to no end that while the fevers go up and the energy goes down, our writing endeavors are left floating in grammatical limbo, like this one, for example.

I promised a conclusion to my Foodalicious Christmas Gift Countdown, and even though it’s the beginning of February, I figure, why not.  After all, there’s still a dead Frazier Fir in our living room, the dining area looks like the Ghost of Christmas Way Back Then yakked all over the place, due to the fact that I got sick in the middle of reorganizing our holiday decor, and the three wise guys are wondering when they can head back home and stock up on the frankincense again (for all of your frankincense needs, please see the fourth Maji, Mr. Kevin Barr).

For this one, I decided to tell a story with one of my favorite things in the world, recipes.  I love to take a recipe and tweak it. These days it’s mostly for necessity, but I’ve always enjoyed playing with my food to make an old recipe new.  I’m not a vegan by any means, but when I helped make this incredible desert during a nutritional class at the city clinic I volunteer at I was astounded by how decadent and delicious something deemed “raw” could be.

This year we went raw for Christmas, well, with just one dish, but it was a hit and lasted through two Christmas dinners and one New Year’s Eve bash (with very good reviews). The secret ingredient takes the cake, well the brownies, to be exact, and totally disappears under the rich chocolaty taste the cocoa powder so nicely lends to this recipe (it’s like that time I went through The Great Tofu Phase of 1998. It drove my family crazy and they still get scared when I make smoothies, but I enjoyed it). I hope you enjoy it, too.

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies

The Base

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dried dates
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • up to 1/4 cup coconut oil

The Icing

  • 2 avocados*
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 Tbs vanilla
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • Cinnamon and salt to taste

Directions

First, if you can’t find dates that aren’t sugar or sucrose coated, make sure you rinse them really well first.  Then, transfer them to a cutting board and chop into smaller pieces.  If you have a food processor or a really good blender you can use that, otherwise it’s fairly easy to mix by hand.  If using a food processor/blender, blend all base ingredients until mixed (adding more oil if needed) and then press mixture into a medium baking pan.  If mixing by hand, first, crush nuts in a chopper or under cutting board, then mix all base ingredients together in a medium bowl (adding more oil if needed, up to 1/4 cup) before transferring to a medium baking pan.

Next, for the icing, peel both avocados* and repeat the same steps above either in a food processor/blender or by hand. Spread icing over top of base using a firm mixing spoon or spreader, making sure you spread mixture evenly.  Chill in fridge for at least 4 hours (best if closer to 24).

*It’s important that your avocados are fully ripe.  If not, they won’t break down and smooth out properly, leaving you with a chocolate mixture with strange-looking green flecks.  If this happens you can fix it by sprinkling cocoa powder over the top of  the brownies.  It actually makes for a very nice-looking presentation. Plus, you don’t have to tell anyone about the avocados until after they devour the whole pan (which they will)!

There’s still a lot of green here in February, even though Christmas is long gone and the grass is fully covered with tightly-packed snow.  It’s not Christmas in July, but who needs July – I have a dead tree, under-ripe avocados and whatever the flu produces in my bronchial tubes to get me through till then.

Yours in belated foodiliciousness,

Cellina

The Hopeful Foodie

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There is something about this particular state that makes you feel like you’re living in a little town.  Maryland is special, not just because of its abundant watershed, beautiful western mountains, or high quantity of both the crabs you can eat and all the venereal diseases that Baltimore can offer (we were top in gonorrhea about 10 yrs prior!), but also because like living here is like setting up a cot in a themed restaurant that never goes to bed.  Whatever it is that you love food-wise, us crazy Marylanders will always cover it with our special touch.  Where else, on an ordinary Wednesday night,  for example,  am I going to prepare and eat oyster tacos?

Mmmmm – oyster tacos.  You read right.  We clipped the recipe out of our local Sun paper about a year ago and stuck it on the fridge for future use.  The time came this week when we looked at each other and said simultaneously, “What the hell are we having for dinner?!”  After ruling out an adventurous  experiment with Salmon Sous Vide, we both agreed on the quirky oyster recipe gaping at us from the fridge door.  What a scrumptious evening it was!

I hope you enjoy these, too.  There are two ways to prepare this meal, from super cheap and easy to slighty more elaborate.  In classic Maryland fashion, I bid you to, ” Half vuh grate meel, hon!”

Oyster Tacos with Chili Cream

  • 1 pint oysters
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup gluten free corn meal
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten with 1 tbs  water
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 8oz bag of coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup soy sour cream
  • a small can of roasted chili peppers (either chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, if you can find it at your local market, or a can of peppers and a separate jar of enchilada sauce.  You can also roast your own peppers and make your own enchilada sauce, which would be authentically yummy)
  • lime wedges and fresh cilantro for garnish
  • enough oil to fill a pan 2-3 inches high

Heat oven to 250.  Blend sour cream and chili peppers (and enough sauce to your taste); set aside.  Wrap tortillas in foil and place them in the oven.

To prepare fried oysters:

Combine flour, corn meal, s&p in a bowl.  Drain oysters, and dip each in beaten egg, then dredge in flour mixture.  Heat oil to 375 degrees in a frying pan.  Fry those babies, a few at a time, until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. The less time the better (otherwise, it’s like chewing a flattened, sea-flavored rubber ball).

When oysters are all cooked, remove tortillas from oven (make sure they are lying flat, so they don’t split apart).  On each tortilla, spoon on cream, coleslaw and top with the oysters.  Garnish with a squirt of lime and a few sprigs of cilantro.

Yum, yum!  You can also feel free to add Old Bay Seasoning to your flour before dredging those sweet beauties in it.  I don’t know why, but there’s just something about a strange-looking, gray, bottom-dwelling scavenger from the sea that gets me all misty-eyed for my hometown.

Till next time,

Cellina

The Hopeful (and fishy-smelling) Foodie

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That statement above is what I left on my cousin’s answering machine last Saturday, upon inquiring what time we should invade their lovely home for Easter dinner.  Little did I know that the next day, that very statement would come true.

Picture a well-dressed young man frantically speed walking down the center aisle of a large, holiday-packed Catholic church on Easter Sunday loudly whispering in his wife’s ear, “The ham!  The ham!”  Now, see him grab his keys, run out the door, and hightail it across a busy  street only to jump in his father’s Cadillac and speed away in the middle of that very service.

A clever work of Easter-themed fiction found somewhere in the folds of the Twilight Zone, you ask?  No, sadly, not at all.  This is what happens at the end of Lent when you join together the father and son team of Oscar and Tim: someone’s gonna forget to turn off the ham.

The smoked meat in question ended up being just fine.  Tim even stated later that in all actuality it would have taken another 12 hours just for all of the water to boil off (that’s what happens when there are 35 people in your immediate family and you have to feed them all)!   House fire on Easter? No.  Insane family excitement during every holiday? A big, fat, smoked yes.

That ham, by the way, was gone in 15 minutes.  In its place was everything we couldn’t have and little bit of what we could.  We both had to say no to the cheesy potatoes (my large intestine thanked me profusely the next day), but in its place were the family standards: deviled eggs (now, with relish!), green beans almondine, and our famous baby greens salad, with almost all of its components in cute little dishes on the side, since I’m basically allergic to the whole damn recipe.  I bring my own dressing, Tim makes sure there is always a batch of gluten free cookies/brownies/(insert confection here) in tow and we end up making out pretty good, all in all.

Of course there are those times when a sneaky little ingredient catches your digestive system by surprise.

Introducing: Kombucha!

I drank this stuff four times a month as a probiotic drink (you know, to increase my health, or something like that), until I had a sweet little fungus outbreak (aka: allergic reaction).  You’d think the exploding bottle of the green version would have been enough of a sign to make me think twice, but even bloating  up like an inner tube didn’t defer me from sucking in the supposed fermenty goodness.

It’s a shame ’cause I really liked the idea of a cultured probiotic liquid that fizzes like a soda, has weird strands of God-knows-what in it, and makes my tummy all happy and junk. This girl, however is just too mold-sensitive to handle such sophisticated beverages.  I am now on my third elimination diet of the year because of this, but it’s cool.  The ham and I are in a sort of stove top limbo.  We both got through Easter together – in pieces, but pleased (and pleasing) none-the-less.

I promised a recipe in my last post, so here goes:

Famous weekday night gf biscuits from Heaven!

These babies go great with everything.  I hope you enjoy.

Dry Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose gf flour (we use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • a packet and a half of stevia (or 1Tbsp sugar)
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp xantham gum
  • 1/2 salt

Liquid Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or shortening
  • 1/2 cup milk (cow/rice/almond/soy)
  • 1 lg egg white
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease baking sheet or cover w/ parchment.
  2. combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in coconut oil/shortening until the consistency of small peas. Whisk together milk and egg white until mixed well.  Stir liquid into four mixture and stir until dough can be shaped into a ball.
  3. Place ball o’ dough onto baking sheet after lightly dusting it with rice flour (very important step!  Otherwise the biscuits will be super sticky). Pat ball into a circle about 3/4 in thick.  Use a medium sized glass (or bigger if you’re making burger buns) to cut out circle shape. Keep doing this until there is no dough left.
  4. Stick those babies in the oven for about 12-15 mins.  They will get nice and brown and will be flaky and delicious!
  5. Devour.

These should hold you over till the next wheat and sugar-filled holiday celebration.

Until then,

Cellina

The Hopeful Foodie

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