Category Archives: GLUTEN FREE RECIPES

CHOCOLATE CHIP, MACADAMIA NUT, AND TOASTED COCONUT BARS

I love bar cookies because not only are they delicious, they are just so darned easy to prepare. And I needed an easy treat to serve the guys who would be rehearsing in our home later that afternoon.

So having just returned from Hawaii where macadamia nuts are considered a staple, I decided to include them with a couple of my other favorite tropical ingredients to create a simple bar cookie that would remind all of us of warm and sunny places. I also wanted to be able to leave my stand mixer in the pantry and while I was at it, make the cookies GF (gluten free). (I sometimes ask a lot of myself!)     

So I started with a basic Blondie (a butterscotch or vanilla flavored bar cookie) recipe and went from there.        

Now I know what you are thinking. Not an inexpensive cookie to make. And of course, you are right. But these are quite rich so you really don’t need to eat a very large bar to feel like you have just eaten a rare treat.

So if some day you find yourself short of time, but need a really good cookie to serve your family or friends, I would recommend you give this recipe a try. If you want to fancy up your bars to look like an expensive dessert that just came from the kitchen of a fine restaurant, place 1 bar on top of (at an angle) a second bar placed on a lovely small plate. Surround the bars with 2-3 small scoops of vanilla ice cream, dollop with a small amount of real whipped cream, sprinkle with finely chopped macadamia nuts, and finally top with a shave or two of dark chocolate. If that doesn’t impress your family and friends, I don’t know what would? Komoika (enjoy)

  • ¾ c. unsalted butter
  • 1½ c. GF flour (I use Cup4Cup) or unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1½ c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. lightly salted macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1½ c. toasted coconut

Melt the butter in a large glass bowl. Remove from microwave and set aside to cool. Meanwhile whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a separate bowl. Set aside.

When the melted butter is cool, stir in the brown sugar and mix until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix just until combined. Do not overmix. Gently stir in the chocolate chips, nuts, and coconut. Scoop the batter into a greased 9×13-inch baking pan and level with an offset spatula.

Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven (for glass) or 350 degree oven (if using a metal baking pan) for 30 to 40 minutes (takes longer when you use GF flour) or until the bottom is a nice golden brown and the top feels set when touched.

Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled and the chocolate chips have once again hardened, cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.   

 

 

GF BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS

OK, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I am not a muffin lover. But, and isn’t there always a but, these muffins are delicious. My friend Peggy described them as having a consistency reminiscent of angel food cake, but not quite as soft. And the nice little crunch provided by the sprinkling sugar just adds to the overall appeal. And blueberries, who doesn’t love blueberries? One of those guilty pleasures that is actually really, really good for you. Did I mention that these babies are really, really tasty?

Now the original recipe I found on Mel’s Kitchen website did not call for GF flour. But my friend Marsha, who suffers from celiac disease, turned me on to Cup4Cup, her favorite GF flour. She uses it in place of regular flour with amazing results. So I decided for my JazzVox brunch yesterday, I would give Cup4Cup a go in this recipe. And of course what usually happens when I think I am doing the right thing like offering up a GF dish, I read the very next day that I am playing into the hands of people who may be harming themselves by adopting a GF lifestyle. (I really can’t win!) 

According to Peter Green, MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, “The gluten-free diet is a trendy diet. It will save someone’s life if they have celiac disease, but its role in the general public is nonexistent. Many people who go on a gluten-free diet do so for “bogus reasons.”

So now what do I do? Throw the muffins out as not to pander to someone’s uninformed idea of what is good for them? Or do I simply serve the muffins knowing that they are delicious and who the heck cares anyway if they are made from something other than wheat flour? I tell you – it ain’t easy keeping up with everyone’s food allergies, likes and dislikes, vegetarianism, veganism, etc. etc. It’s like checking out alternate facts! What the heck is an alternate fact anyway? Isn’t a fact a fact? Has the dictionary definition (a thing that is indisputable) changed over the last 3 weeks? Should I start preparing alternate recipes in case we happen to find ourselves in an alternate universe? A universe without basil, for example. (God forbid!)  

Anyway, the thing to know is that these muffins are wonderful. They are easy to prepare, and regardless of whether or not you use GF flour or “the real thing”, you are going to be very happy with me for turning you on to this recipe. Enjoy the muffins my friends and thank you Mel for this amazing recipe.

  • 8 oz. (1 pkg.) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 T. (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ c. granulated sugar
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. Cup4Cup GF flour (or your favorite GF flour or if necessary, regular unbleached flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. fine sea salt  
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • 2 c. fresh blueberries
  • sprinkling sugar, opt.

Cream the cream cheese, butter, and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk; mix until well-combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the cream cheese mixture and mix just until combined. Do not over-mix. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Using a medium sized ice cream scoop, plop dough into 2 – 12 cup paper lined muffin tins. Top each muffin with a light sprinkling of sprinkling sugar. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 14-16 minutes or until the tops spring back lightly to the touch and the bottoms are a nice golden brown. Don’t overbake.  

Remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a covered container at room temp. or in the refrigerator for several days.

Thanks to the Mel’s Kitchen website for this delicious recipe. Makes 24 muffins.   

FRIED RICE

dscn0010

Yesterday while trying to decide what to fix for dinner, I remembered that I had some cooked white rice in the fridge. When I serve rice, it’s usually brown rice or some kind of pilaf. But the night before I had served a chicken curry, and I like curry best over white rice. (FYI – For my curry recipe, go to Curry Sauce for Chicken, Shrimp, Beef, or Lamb.) So with about 2 cups of cooked rice literally staring me in the face, I decided to make fried rice.

I have been making this recipe for decades. It is so tasty and the best part is that you can use as many or as few veggies as you happen to have on hand. I didn’t have any fresh mushrooms for example, so I used dry mushrooms. (Actually I prefer dried mushrooms in fried rice anyway. So no problem there.) Then I simply used the combination of veggies listed below, because they were what was in my veggie drawer. But you could add celery, bean sprouts, Fried Tofu (see recipe below), edamame, broccoli, or any other vegetable your little heart desires or you simply need to use up. (Soup and fried rice have a lot in common when it comes to using up fresh vegetables that scream at you every time you open the veggie crisper drawer!)

And the amounts listed below are merely a guideline. If you are crazy nuts about peas for example, add as many as you like. Hate mushrooms, leave them out. This recipe should be used as a simple road map to preparing a delicious side dish that is simple to make, inexpensive, and pretty to boot. And it goes well with just about any type of meat.

So do yourself and your family a favor. Get your wok out of storage, or your largest fry pan from its resting place, and build a treat for your family. Fried rice is simply an amazing dish. Kids don’t even realize they are eating veggies when they are gulping down this rice with its subtle Asian flavor. And what parent doesn’t like a little harmless subterfuge when it comes to providing their offspring with nutritious food? Or wife for that matter trying to get cruciferous veggies down her husband’s throat. (Not mentioning any names here, but I’m pretty sure you can figure out to which husband and wife team I am alluding!)

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 3 T. vegetable oil, divided
  • 3 tsp. sesame oil, divided
  • ½ c. chopped yellow onion
  • ¾ c. chopped button mushrooms or ½ c. chopped dry mushrooms, rehydrated and squeezed semi-dry
  • 2 c. cold cooked rice
  • 1/3 c. shredded carrot
  • ½ c. diced zucchini
  • ¾ c. finely sliced green cabbage
  • 2 T. vegetable, chicken, or beef broth
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T. Tamari, or more to taste (use GF Tamari to make this a GF dish)
  • ¼ c. frozen petite peas or fresh peapods, sliced
  • ½ c. sliced green onions

Beat eggs with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Heat 1 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium heat in a wok or large fry pan. Pour in beaten eggs. Stir eggs continuously until cooked dry and separated into small pieces. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil to the pan. Turn burner to medium heat. Add the yellow onion, mushrooms, and rice to the pan. Stir fry for 5 minutes. Add the carrot, zucchini, and cabbage; stir fry for an additional 4 minutes. Add the broth, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper, and Tamari. Stir to mix well. Add the peas, green onion, cooked eggs, and remaining 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Bring up to heat. Adjust seasoning and serve immediately.

Please note: If you want to include meat in your fried rice, add as much cooked meat or cooked shrimp as you would like along with the peas, green onions, etc.

FRIED TOFU

  • ½ block extra firm tofu
  • 2 T. cornstarch, or more as needed
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

Wrap tofu in a clean, absorbent towel and set something heavy on top, such as a cast iron skillet, to press out the liquid. Let sit for a few minutes. Cut tofu into ¼-inch slices and coat with cornstarch.  Combine the vegetable oil and sesame oil in a medium frying pan. Bring oil to medium heat and fry the tofu until both sides are a nice golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel. When cool cut into bite size pieces. Set aside. Add to the fried rice along with the peas, green onions, etc. Stir gentle so the tofu doesn’t break up.

 

GF CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

20161016_104821

In an effort to include recipes for everyone, young and old, sober or otherwise, vegetarians, gluten avoiders, spicy lovers, and even those poor souls who only eat meat and potatoes, I offer up this adaptation of a Bette Hagman GF recipe for all of my readers who are gluten intolerant. (Usually I can’t abide intolerance, but for gluten, I make an exception!)
And if ever there was a cake that almost everyone loves and should be able to enjoy, it’s carrot cake. My feeling is, if there’s a way around a problem like gluten flour, then let’s go for it. And Bette Hagman, one of the pioneers in GF cooking, did just that.
Now of course, I couldn’t leave even a Bette Hagman recipe alone! (I’d apologize to Bette, but she now resides with the angels, and my direct line to heaven seems to have been severed.) But even if I could apologize I would argue in my own defense. I simply like a spicier base cake, and I happen to think toasted coconut in a carrot cake is essential.
So if you and/or yours happen to be gluten intolerant or simply want to try giving gluten a rest, give this lovely cake a try. It’s moist and delicious, and I promise you, no one will miss the gluten. And really, when you think about it, who knows what gluten tastes like anyway? No one I know walks into my home and begs to be fed a soup spoon full of wheat flour. Or runs up to me, grabs me by the arm, leads me to the pantry screaming “give me flour, or give me death”! So who really gives a buttery French croissant if there is or is not a spec of gluten in a recipe? As long as the end result is delicious, which incidentally is the goal of everyone who spends any time in the kitchen, then life is good. So experiment my friends. And if you have a favorite GF recipe you would like to share with the world, please write it down and send it to my email address www.chezcarrcuisine@wavecable.com. I will gladly prepare the recipe and if it meets the exacting standards of Mr. C., I will post it and take all the credit. Just kidding. The glory and recognition will be all yours. And of course, the undying thanks from my GF readers.

  • 16 oz. crushed pineapple
  • 1 c. golden raisins
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c. mayonnaise (yes – mayonnaise)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. grated carrots
  • 1½ c. toasted chopped walnuts, divided
  • 1½ c. toasted coconut, divided
  • 1½ c. white rice flour
  • ½ c. soy flour
  • ½ c. potato starch
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground mace
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

Pour the pineapple plus juice into a small saucepan. Add the raisins and simmer over low heat until the raisins are plump and juicy. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl cream the sugar, eggs, and mayonnaise together. Add the vanilla, carrots, 1 cup of the toasted walnuts, 1 cup of the toasted coconut, and the cooled pineapple/raisin combination.

In another bowl, whisk together the flours, soda, salt, cinnamon, mace, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until well blended.

Pour into a lightly buttered and rice floured 10×16-inch glass baking dish*. Smooth top with an offset spatula or table knife. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven* for approximately 40-45 minutes. If already getting brown after 20 minutes or so, gently tent with aluminum foil to prevent further browning. Remove from the oven when a pick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack. Cool completely before topping with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below). Garnish with remaining half cup of toasted coconut and half cup of toasted walnuts.

Please note: Most of the time when I bake cakes or breads that contain veggies or fruit, I freeze them for a couple of days before I frost and serve them. But with this cake, because I am a novice at working with flours other than wheat, I have not frozen the cake before serving. If any of you are GF experts, I would welcome your thoughts on the subject. Thank you.

*If using a metal baking pan, increase heat to 350 degrees and check if done after 35 minutes.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 3½ c. powdered sugar or more if needed

Cream butter and powdered sugar together until well blended. Add the vanilla and salt and enough powdered sugar to make a firm but not stiff consistency. Beat until smooth and easy to spread.

GF OATMEAL COOKIES

20161019_130126

My friend and neighbor Marsha made these cookies to share at our annual homeowners meeting. I had been on the board for 6 years serving as president the last year. And Marsha was on the board for my last year serving as a director-at-large. She is a most delightful woman, with a sterling intellect, logical mind, and a terrific sense of humor. In other words, an absolute delight! And, BTW, a fabulous addition to our homeowners board of directors, as well as being a great baker. And speaking of delightful – these cookies definitely fit that category. They are crisp, light, and full of flavor. You would never guess they were GF.

So if you or someone you know needs to stay away from gluten, then these are the oatmeal cookies for you or them. And a wonderful addition to a dessert table when you have no idea whether or not some of your guests might be gluten intolerant. Your only trouble is going to be keeping your non gluten challenged guests from keeping them all to themselves! A bit of hand slapping might be necessary. Or maybe baking a double batch would be the more politically correct course of action. I’m not sure. I used to have a pretty good idea what was and wasn’t politically correct. But this year’s presidential election has thrown everything I felt defined common decency or political correctness right out the window.  (I know, I promised no more commentary on politics, but I set myself up without any intention of going politically postal on all of you again!)

I’m OK now, but I think I need a cookie. And since I just happen to have baked a batch of these cookies for Mr. C. and the other members of the seven piece jazz group (Seabreeze Jazz Band) that are, as I write, rehearsing in our living room, I’m going to leave you now and grant myself an attitude adjustment. You’re on your own. But if you too need your attitude adjusted, these little darlings just might be the ticket. And no, I’m not going to say anything about tickets, political or otherwise! I’m simply going to stop now while I’m ahead.

Thanks again Marsha for this wonderful recipe.

  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. GF flour (see note about GF flours below)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 c. GF oats* (some of them aren’t!)

Cream butter and sugar until pale yellow. Add the vanilla. Whisk the flour, soda, salt, and nutmeg together. Add to the butter mixture and beat just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly blended. Mix in the oats. Drop by small ice cream scoop or rounded teaspoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet two inches apart. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are golden and middle is mostly set. (I found that it helped to turn on the convection option on my oven for the last 3-4 minutes to help brown the center of the cookies.)

Please note: For this recipe, Marsha uses what she calls her “Cookie Flour Blend”. (See recipe below.) It has a sweeter taste overall and is not as dry as other gluten free mixes. For all other cooking she uses GF Cup 4 Cup flour. It is the closest to wheat flour she has ever found. In place of her cookie flour and for easy baking she would have no qualms about using Cup 4 Cup in this or any other cookie recipe. GF flour can usually be found among the other flour varieties, or if not there, the grocery store might have a separate area dedicated to GF products. At least, the GF area is where I found my bag of Cup 4 Cup flour at our local Haggen.

COOKIE FLOUR BLEND (recipe found in a Washington Post article)

Equal parts:

  • mochiko flour
  • sorghum flour
  • tapioca flour
  • cornstarch
  • almond flour

Whisk all together and store in an airtight container. Use in any of your favorite cookie recipes.

*According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, “oats are technically gluten-free since they aren’t a type of wheat, barley, or rye grain, the three groups of whole grains that naturally contain the protein gluten.

So pure oats themselves are GF and safe for most people with gluten-intolerance. The problem with oats in gluten-free eating is contamination. Most commercial oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and rye. So unless the packaging specifically states “GF”, you might not be safe eating just any old oats if you truly suffer from celiac disease. However, many people with just an intolerance to gluten are fine eating oats that are not specifically rated as being “GF”.

 

 

 

SAUTÉED CHICKEN WITH GRUYÈRE CHEESE, MUSHROOMS, AND WHITE WINE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is yet another chicken recipe that is quick and easy to prepare, making it a perfect dinner entrée after a hectic work or play day. And of course, it’s delicious. (Like I would post anything but a delicious recipe!)

But this is one of those recipes that works best when all the chopping, slicing, mincing, and assembling has been done in advance. In other words, get your act together and have all your ingredients prepped and in place before you start sautéing the chicken. (Hey, why not? You have to do it anyway. So why not get it over with before you actually fire up the burners and curse yourself for not heeding my warning to begin with?) Anyway……

The bones of this recipe come from the Food.com web site. And while I’m giving that site credit, I would like to get on my high horse (with a little help from a tall self-righteous attitude), and say what I really think about all the cooking sites out there in internet land. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! (Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you?) There isn’t a recipe under the sun that can’t be found either by title or ingredient combination. There isn’t a cooking technique, gadget, or unique ingredient that can’t be ordered on-line and delivered directly to your home. There isn’t an excuse in the world for someone to rely on fast food or packaged, processed products to feed their family when every resource imaginable to provide a healthy and delicious meal is at their fingertips! (That’s the high horse part in case you were wondering!)

So to all of those wonderful sites out in internet land that provide great recipes, cooking techniques, and commentary on every aspect related to culinary endeavor, I salute you. And to the Food network (I’m now back on my high horse again), please bring back more love (good cooks/chefs and their sterling recipes) and less war (cupcake, chopped, etc). I personally want recipes, not entertainment. If I wanted to occupy my time watching and listening to suspense, drama, and a staged production, I would watch the news and read every word written about the candidates and their race to be in next years’ presidential election!

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise, then cut in two (8 pieces in all)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • nutmeg
  • 3 T. butter
  • 8 medium sized button mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 small or 1 large shallot, finely minced
  • ½ c. dry white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • ¾ c. finely grated Gruyère cheese (you can use plain Swiss cheese, but a premium Swiss cheese is best)
  • dash paprika

Season one side of each piece of chicken with salt, pepper, and a light sprinkling of nutmeg. Melt the butter in a large, covered fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté until both sides are slightly browned and the chicken is cooked through. (Do not overcook the chicken.) Remove from pan, tent with aluminum foil, and set aside. Add the mushrooms and shallot to the pan, reduce the heat, and sauté until the mushrooms are starting to brown and the shallot pieces have all but disappeared from sight. Stir in the white wine and simmer until the wine has all but evaporated. Whisk in the cream, Gruyère cheese, and the paprika. Cook for one minute. Adjust seasoning. Stir in the reserved chicken along with any pan juices; remove from heat, cover, and let sit for about 3 minutes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Great served over mashed potatoes with a side green veggie or a nice crisp green salad. And of course, some more of that wonderful Pinot Grigio you used in the dish itself!

BRUTTI MA BUONI (UGLY BUT GOOD) ITALIAN HAZELNUT COOKIES

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These cookies are outrageously delicious and BTW – GF! With no added oil, fat, butter, etc. to make us feel guilty. (Of course the nuts themselves contain fat, but it’s mostly good fat, so it doesn’t count. Well at least in my mind it doesn’t count.) Plus ladies and gentlemen, these easy to prepare cookies contain only 5 ingredients! Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin is widely quoted as saying “The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.” I am absolutely convinced he must have had this cookie in mind when he coined this very well known phrase. Because these cookies are unlike any other cookie I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. They possess a wonderfully crisp exterior with an internal texture that is both soft and chewy. They are slightly reminiscent of macaroons, but that’s as close to a comparison of them to any other cookie as I can come.

While I was researching these cookies I visited several sites. Each recipe was quite different from the others. Some had you using granulated sugar, some had you warm egg whites and granulated sugar before beating the heck out of the mixture, most contained flour, and some even contained chocolate. But what captured my fancy was this recipe from Oreste Molinari. His family bakery in Frascati, Lazio, Italy has been selling these cookies using this recipe since the 1800s. So I figured; if the recipe is good enough for the Molinaris, and they are still in business after all this time, it surely must be good enough for me!

So please do not hesitate to build yourself a batch of these little packages of heaven at your earliest convenience. And to those of you who are gluten intolerant, you owe me. (Your debt will be forgiven if you send me your favorite GF recipe(s) so that I can share it/them with others.)

And to Monsieur Brillat-Savarin (wherever you may presently reside), please accept my thanks for some wonderful quotes related to all things culinary. And because it’s my blog and I have nothing more to say about these cookies, I am going to share a couple of my favorite Brillat-Savarin quotes with you.

“A man who was fond of wine was offered some grapes at dessert after dinner. ‘Much obliged’, said he, pushing the plate aside, ‘I am not accustomed to taking my wine in pills’.”

“Whoever receives friends and does not participate in the preparation of their meal does not deserve to have friends.”

“Cooking is one of the oldest arts and one that has rendered us the most important service in civic life.”

And my favorite quote attributed to Brillat-Savarin, which I feel is as true today as it was in his day (1755-1826). “The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all areas; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure.”

Bon Appétit

  • 8 oz. roasted unsalted hazelnuts* – roughly 1¾ cups (best way to know for sure is to weigh the nuts)
  • 1½ c. powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 lg. room temperature egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

*I often use part dry roasted unsalted shelled almonds in these cookies because they are cheaper, more readily available, and considered by some to be slightly more nutritious than hazelnuts (aka filberts). And bottom line, using almonds does not affect the wonderful hazel nutty flavor of the cookies.

Preheat your oven to 400°. Spread the hazelnuts on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes or until the nuts are fragrant and the skins blister. (When I use almonds I toast them right along with the hazelnuts.) Transfer the nuts to a kitchen towel, swaddle them tightly, and let cool to room temperature. Then rub them together while still in the towel to remove the skins. (Don’t worry if all the skin doesn’t peel off. Just get as much off as possible. The rest – well its good roughage! And don’t worry about the light brown skin on the almonds either. Just provides a bit more texture to the cookies.)

In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts with the confectioners’ sugar and salt until finely chopped. Add the egg white and the vanilla and pulse just until the dough is thoroughly combined.

Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a very small ice cream scoop, (one that will contain about a tablespoon of water) drop the blops (a Chez Carr technical kitchen term) of dough onto the parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 1-inch apart. If you don’t have a small ice cream scoop, (and shame on you if you don’t have a couple of these in your kitchen) spoon tablespoon-size mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, again about 1 inch apart.

Bake the cookies in the center of your oven for about 11-13 minutes or until lightly browned all over. Watch carefully, because the bottom of the cookies can get too brown if baked too long. But the longer you bake them, the crispier on the outside they become. Which BTW, is what you want. So at least for the first batch you prepare, pay extra special attention to your oven temperature and the length of time it takes to bake these little darlings to perfection. Then of course – WRITE DOWN YOUR FINDINGS so that next time (and believe me, there will be a next time), you won’t have to tax your brain as much!

Brutti ma Buoni are best the first day, but will last for about 4 days if kept in an airtight container.

 

 

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM WILD RICE PILAF

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Recently I have become totally obsessed with finding healthy side dish recipes. So I can’t begin to tell you how delighted I am to share this recipe with you today. And who better to share my obsession with, than a captive audience sitting in front of a computer screen? (I figure you wouldn’t be visiting my site unless you too weren’t hungry (so to speak) for new and exciting ways to prepare healthy and delicious dishes.)

So, a couple of days ago I was at our local Bartells. (For those of you who live outside the Seattle area, Bartells is a local drug store chain.) And whenever I go to Bartells for legitimate drug store items, such as makeup, I always peruse the middle isle for packaged foods that are featured at a discounted price.

This last visit I found great prices on flavored almonds and Lundberg rice products. So I bought two packages of their wild rice blend.

When I got home I immediately went on line and visited the Lundberg site for recipe ideas. And this recipe literally jumped off the screen and onto a word document before I even knew what hit me. It is gluten free (if you use GF tamari), vegetarian, and full of nutritious ingredients. What can be better than that? Well the fact that it’s absolutely delicious sure doesn’t hurt either!

So however you want to approach this recipe, as a delicious side dish or as a healthy side dish, you’re 100% covered.

So hurry up and read the recipe and get thee to the grocery store if you need ingredients, or straight to the kitchen if you don’t, and build your family a side dish that comes with its own PhD. (P-painless to prepare, h-healthy, D-delicious) And thank you Lundberg for both the lovely wild rice blend and the recipe. (Sorry for the slight modification.)

  • ¾ c. dried mushrooms* (shiitake, chanterelle, porcini) cut or broken into small pieces
  • 1 c. very hot water
  • 1 c. combination wild and whole grain brown rice (or Lundberg Wild Blend)
  • 1¾ c. vegetable broth (I use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 med. onion, finely chopped
  • 2 c. fresh button mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced (about 8 medium mushrooms)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 oz. spinach, stems removed and rough chopped
  • 1 T. gluten-free tamari soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ c. sliced green onions or chives, garnish

*if you don’t have dried mushrooms, use another 2 cups of fresh button mushrooms

Place dried mushrooms in a bowl. Add the hot water and set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, bring the broth and rice to a boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from heat (with lid on) and let steam for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook until softened; stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more. Drain the re-hydrated mushrooms and add to the pan along with the spinach; cook until spinach just starting to wilt. Stir in the tamari, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gently fold mushroom-spinach mixture into cooked rice and garnish with green onions or chives.

ASIAN CHICKEN NOODLE BOWL

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yesterday it was kind of dreary outside. So I decided before the warm weather sets in (like that’s going to happen any time soon in the Puget Sound area), I would build some soup. But I wasn’t in the mood for a bean soup, or a creamy soup. I wanted more of a broth and vegetables kind of soup. I also had a few veggies that needed to be used, so I went on line to see what I could find.

What I found was a recipe from Kathleen Daelemans that looked delicious. I modified Kathleen’s recipe to better work for our tastes, and which not coincidentally included some of the veggies that were screaming at me from their refrigerator bin. I then added some other ingredients like tofu, spinach, and basil that I thought would work well in a noodle bowl. The recipe below is the result.

Now having just told you that Kathleen’s recipe looked delicious, I should explain why I made so many changes. First of all – that’s what I do! And if truth be told, I simply can’t help myself. That’s because I know what Mr. C and I like. And the knowing part just comes from eating together for so long and from experimenting with many, many dishes over the years. And because, first and foremost, most recipes for soups, stews, and the like are simply guidelines; wide open to be modified to suit your own tastes or to include ingredients you happen to have on hand. And my recipe below is no different from Kathleen’s recipe in that regard.

The amount of garlic or ginger, for example, can easily be changed. You happen to have carrots on hand; they can certainly be added. You hate pea pods; leave them out!

I guess what I am saying is that half the fun of cooking for me, and I suspect for you too, is the experimentation aspect. And you have to know, that if I can’t help myself from changing perfectly good recipes to suit my personal tastes, then I can’t expect you not to do the same.

So use my recipes following every ingredient and amount to the letter, or change any of my recipes to your heart’s content. Just do yourself a favor when you are making changes. Write the changes down as you go along. I can’t tell you how mad you are going to be at yourself if you create the perfect “whatever”, and then can’t repeat yourself because you have forgotten what you changed. And no, even if you think you are going to remember what you did, 3 months from now you aren’t going to remember. OK, if you’re only 23 you might remember. But if you are over 60, the chances are really slim. Heck, you might not even remember what day of the month it is, much less what changes you made to the original recipe. You really want to take that chance? I doubt that seriously. So simply have a pencil handy while you are building the dish and take notes as you go along. Someday you’ll thank me, I know you will. (I’m not going to hold my breath you realize. But I know some day I will hear from you with effusive words of thanks. It’s simply inevitable.)

  • 4 T. tamari (rich, naturally fermented soy sauce)
  • 2 T. shaohsing (Chinese rice wine) or mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 T. rice vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. Sriracha, plus more for the table
  • 8 c. chicken broth
  • 5-6 button mushrooms, halved and then thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast meat, cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 4 c. chopped Napa cabbage
  • 1 c. chopped fresh spinach
  • 6-oz. rice noodles, cooked according to the package directions
  • ½ block firm or extra-firm tofu, cubed
  • ½ c. thinly sliced pea pods
  • ¼ – ½ c. chopped fresh basil or cilantro leaves
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges, opt.

Mix soy sauce, shaohsing, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, rice vinegar, pepper, and Sriracha in a small bowl. Heat the broth in a medium saucepan. Add the soy sauce mixture, the mushrooms, chicken, Napa cabbage, and spinach and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for two minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in the cooked noodles, tofu, and sliced pea pods. Scoop soup into large bowls and garnish with basil and green onions. Pass lime wedges and Sriracha at the table as “do it yourself” garnishes.

Please note: to make this a GF dish, use GF tamari

 

FRIED MARINATED TOFU WITH GREEN ONIONS AND SESAME SEEDS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I know what you are thinking. Where in the world has Patti been that she hasn’t written a post in almost a month? First of all – sorry about that, but Mr. C. and I have been on the road with our ginormous 19 foot trailer taking in the sites and visiting family from here to Colorado and back. Touring with a trailer is a lovely way to experience our country and believe me, our country is worth seeing. For example, staying in a fairly primitive campground at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado, with snow still on the ground and deer grazing around the trailer is a fantastic experience. Never heard of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park? Well neither had we until I discovered it on line while I was planning our itinerary. Now I can hardly wait to return. Just for grins, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/blca/index.htm. I’m sure you will instantly become as fascinated with this amazing and little known area of Colorado as we were.

And speaking of amazing areas that are not as well known as say Yellowstone and coincidentally not as far away, Steens Mountain and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in SE Oregon are tops on our list of places to be visited with regularity. But enough with the travel guide prose. Let’s get on with the dish of the day.

This marinated tofu dish is absolutely delicious and ever so “in”. With all the press about eating organic, sustainable, local, slow, vegan, vegetarian, etc. etc., this dish comes as close to “realistic” healthy food as I can muster. And I do try to cook healthy, really I do. So give this fried tofu recipe a try. Mr. C tells me for him this tofu dish is analogous with “crack” (crack-cocaine), not that he has ever tried crack you understand, but you get the gist. He LOVES it.

  • ¼ c. soy sauce
  • ¼ c. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T. chili-garlic sauce or Sambal Oelek and 1 small clove finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 lb. firm tofu
  • 3 T. corn or peanut oil
  • ¼ c. cornstarch or more + 1 tsp., divided
  • ¼ c. thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds

Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce, sesame oil, and salt in a small container. Remove the tofu from the container and press gently between several sheets of paper towel to remove some of the liquid. Cut into 12 same size pieces and add to the marinade. Let tofu marinate for about 2 hours. When ready to fry add oil to medium sized frying pan and hot over medium high heat. When oil is hot, take each piece of tofu out of the marinade (reserving marinade), blot on a paper towel, dip in the ¼ cup cornstarch (or more as needed) and place in hot oil.  Fry the pieces until they are crispy brown on both sides.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Meanwhile pour the remaining marinade and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch into a small pan. Whisking the entire time, bring the mixture to a boil and stir until thickened. Remove from heat.

When tofu is crisp and golden brown, remove to a serving plate. Pour sauce over the tofu and sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Please note: Play around with the sauce. If you are a ginger lover, add some ginger. I know I am going to the next time I make this dish.