December 22, 2008

pot roast

Maybe it's the weather, or the season, or maybe it's all the added stress at work due to the current economic situation. Maybe a girl doesn't really need a reason to crave comfort food. Something simple and satisfying that warms from the inside out after a day or romping in the snow or trudging through the cold.

Many of Mom's best recipes are so simple. Her pot roast is one of those, a few veggies, some meat, a dash of love and perfect meal is born. I was never a picky eater who pushed food around my plate or didn't let my vegetables to touch, but I still had my idiosyncrases. I remember that I used to eat my pot roast in a very specific order; first mash the potatoes and carrots to soak up the juice, then the pearl onions and then the meat (always save the best for last). Then, if there was any juice left, soak that up with a slice of bread, just like Dad. Oh, yes. I am my father's daughter through and through.

This pot roast is the simplest thing ever, and is perfect for any type of variation that pleases you. Every once in a while Mom would add peas at the very end, so that they didn't cook to long. I have left the potatoes out of this recipes, but Mom usualy used red skins or new potatoes.

Pot Roast
1 Sirloin 'spoon' roast, 3-6 pounds
1 tbsp olive oil
4 peeled tomatoes*
1 onion, quartered or a bag of pearl onions
2 carrots, quartered
3-4 bay leaves

In a large, heavy pot heat the olive oil and salt the roast. Sear all sides of the roast, about a minute on each side. Turn down heat and rest meat in pot. Place tomatoes, onions and carrots around the meat. Pour 2-4 cups of water into the pot, at least until the meat is half covered, and add the bay leaves. Cover and cook on very low heat for at least 3 hours, preferably 5, turning the meat over halfway through. If the broth seems to thin, remove the top and cook uncovered for the last half hour.

*To quickly peel fresh tomatoes wash the tomatoes, cut out the stem and score the top with an X. Place tomatoes top down in a large bowl or pot. Pour boiling water over tomatoes** and allow to sit for several minutes. Remove tomatoes and rinse with cold water if they are too hot to handle. Skins should slip right off.

**I like to save this water and use it to cook the roast in, that way I don't loose any of the tomato juices.

December 21, 2008

go ahead honey, it's gluten free! lucky foods

This month Heather at Life Gluten Free is hosting a new years lucky food edition of "Go ahead honey, it's gluten free". She wants us to prepare foods that are traditionally thought to bring luck in the year to come.

Now, when it comes to religious holidays and Western observances the Trainer and I are conscientious abstainers. We will be joining my parents and extended family on Thursday, but we will light the candles, bring in the evergreen bough and serve our lucky food today, on the shortest day of the year. The Winter Solstice.

Every native culture recognizes the winter solstice. Many Northern cultures display evergreens and burn lights to welcome back the sun and symbolize the eternal life of the sun. In the Trainer's country the Quechua, like their Inca forbears, are celebrating the inti rayme, a harvest festival celebrating the longest day of the year.

In ancient Rome both the Saturnalia and the festival of Sol Invictus fell on or near the shortest day of the year. They celebrated with a day or more of feasting and social role reversals. Decorating homes and cities with lights and evergreens. Customary gifts of good luck were dates, figs and nuts and the feast often centered around a stuffed suckling pig. The Romans were very fond of stuffing things, so this year we've prepared stuffed figs and dates.

Fructus Troianum*
Stuffed Fruits
1/2c. almonds
1/2tsp almond extract
1/2tsp cinnamon
20 dates
1/2c. walnuts
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
15 figs

Soak the almonds and walnuts for several hours and then rinse well. In a blender, grind the almonds, almond extract and cinnamon, adding water a tablespoon at a time until a paste forms. Slice dates on one side only, remove pit at fill with almond paste. Make a paste with the walnuts in the same way. Steam the figs over boiling water for 5-6 minutes to plump them. Cut the stems from the figs and cut a cross in the top half to open them. Fill figs with walnut paste. If you want the fruit a little dryer heat the oven to 350° then turn it off and place the fruit inside for several hours.

*This is a whole other story, but the Romans believed that they were descended from Aeneas, a prince of Troy and a group of Torjan who escaped to Italy after the war. Romans called stuffed suckling pig porcum troianum as a reference to the Trojan Horse.

December 19, 2008

sugar free scd mint jelly

Have you ever prepared a meal for the sake of the condiments? I remember when I was little my used to say that fish sticks were just a vehicle for catsup. Thanksgiving was all about the cranberry sauce, on everything. I can't remember what Dad's lamb chops tasted like, but I sure remember that jar of bright green mint jelly! What treat for those rare occasions we did have lamb.

This past weekend boneless leg of lamb was on sale, and being one who can never pass up a good deal, I got one. No time like the present to learn how to roast a leg of lamb. I did my research and already knew pretty much how I would do that. That's not the exciting part.

The exciting part would be the mint jelly. In deference to my childhood memories, I simply could not have lamb with out mint jelly. The challenge was to make a mint jelly without using cups and cups of sugar or artificial food coloring. I recalled Dad frequently reminding me that we weren't having mint jelly, we were having mint flavored apple jelly. And then I saw Helen's verrines and she gave me the perfect starting place for my SCD, sugar free apple-mint jelly.
Mint Jelly
2 cups (1 bunch) fresh mint leaves
2 cups apple juice, 100% juice not from concentrate
1/2 cup cold water
1 packet (1 tbsp) gelatin
Pour the water into a small dish and sprinkle the gelatin over top to bloom, set aside. In the blender, mix the apple juice and mint in a few short bursts. Transfer mixture to a small sauce pan and heat to boiling. Remove from heat and cover to steep for about 1 hour. Pour mixture through a fine sieve or cheese cloth, pressing to get as much liquid as possible. Discard mint (or use it again for tea). Return mint infused apple juice to the sauce pan and heat, slowly mixing in the gelatin until it dissolves completely. Transfer to a glass jar for storage and allow to cool and set in the refrigerator.

December 16, 2008

creamy harvest mushrooms

It's finally winter! I miss the white, snowy winters of my childhood filled with lake effect snow. I don't know if it's global warming or living on an island in the Atlantic that makes New York winter weather so different from Michigan, but winters since I've moved here have just been icky. Warming up, cooling off, snow and then rain. Not pleasant at all.

As I looked up from my computer, thinking of lunch, I saw huge, fat snowball sized snowflakes bombarding fifth avenue with purpose I was glad I had some comfort food for lunch. A little dish of warm, creamy, mushroomy deliciousness.

Last more than one fellow blogger was bitten by the mushroom bug. I understand it's mushroom season, obviously not here in The City, although there is an impressive red shelf fungus growing on a tree near the elementary school park. I was inspired by Bea's mushroom risotto and spent a few days trying to figure out how I could make something similar, without rice or fresh cream. I trolled Whole Foods looking for the best mushrooms I could find and made my own version.

I am so pleased with how this turned out. Fresh out of the pan it was just plain creamy goodness. Eating it today with a seasoned hamburger it reminded be of stroganoff base. With a little more broth and some blending it would make a perfect cream of mushroom soup or gravy. But best of all, if I tweak the seasonings a little, I will get something similar to Pork Chop Surprise, one of the few 'specialties' that Dad used to cook once in a blue moon.

Creamy Harvest Mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 shallot, finely diced
1 1/2 Lb assorted mushrooms; crimini, trumpet and portobello, cut as desired
3 tbsp yogurt or cream, I used yogurt made from half and half
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 c. grated pecorino romano
1/4 c. grated parmesan regiano

In a large skillet slowly heat the olive oil and thyme while cutting the shallot and mushrooms. Brown the shallot in the olive oil and then add the mushrooms and cook on high heat for 5 or 6 minutes. Turn down the heat and stir in the yogurt, parsley and grated cheese. Turn off the heat and pick out the thyme sprigs.

December 14, 2008

scd carrot cake and cream cheese frosting

It's been such wicked weather here. All in all a very blah week. I've felt run down and tired all week. Something about the drastically changing temperatures and the constant clouds and rain just does not agree with me.

I'm tired and achy and my skin has not been it's happiest. Yesterday, rather than go to the gym, I decided to try to run a few errands. In the few blocks I had to travel from the subway to the store my tights were soaked from the knees down and I had submerged my right foot in a puddle. After getting what I needed I met the Trainer tat Grand Central so we could make the last leg of our trip home to Queens.

We bought a second umbrella at the station, and it was turned inside out and broken several blocks before we made it home. As I stood in the mercifully hot shower, contemplating my pruned toes, I knew just what would cheer us up. A big, fat slice of Mom's good old carrot cake. The one I finally figured out.

This version turned out nice and moist, not to sweet with rich cream cheese frosting. It's no wonder this is Dad's favorite, and I'm sure he'll approve of this version too. The Trainer had to agree that it was great, even after his initial disgust when he saw that I was putting celery in the cake.

Carrot Cake

9 oz (3 cups) blanched almond meal
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs (or 5 whites)
1/2 c. coconut oil
1 1/2 c. grated carrot
1 c. finely chopped celery
8 oz crushed pineapple, well drained
12 dates, soaked, drained and pureed
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F, grease and flour a 9 inch spring form pan. In one bowl blend the dry ingredients, being sure to get rid of any lumps. In a second, large bowl beat the eggs until they are light yellow. Add the coconut oil, grated carrot, celery, pineapple, dates, vanilla and cider vineger and mix thoroughly. Mix in the dry ingredients and the then stir in the pecans. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, cake should appear dry on top and soild when pressed

SCD Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz strained yogurt, from 1 quart yogurt
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil
1 tsp almond extract
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Frost cake when it's cool.

December 11, 2008


I hit the jackpot last Friday. All the fruits came into alignment, you could say. The gentleman of indistinguishable yet decidedly ethnic background who often has his table on the corner of 42nd Street and 3rd Avenue had a fantastic selection.

I know that non of the fruit I bought was grown locally, but I also believe in supporting local business (or fruit stands, as the case may be). He knows me, and knows that I know my fruit. And since I buy so much from him, usually when he's getting ready to pack up, he always gives me a great deal, and extra fruit too.

So this is how I find myself sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by pomegranates, quinces, blueberries, pears and cherries. Almost banging my head to figure out what to do with all of this bounty before it goes bad. The blueberries get frozen, to go with my yogurt, and the pears and pomegranates can keep for a bit. But the cherries, those wine red fruits, won't last forever.

I remembered a dessert that I had seen posted several other places. One that I had never heard of, and probably don't even say correctly either. Clafoutis. I researched the clafoutis a while ago, and even had a tentative recipe in my note book. It seemed like my overfull bag of cherries were going to provide a perfect opportunity to try this new dessert.

According to my buddy wikpedia, clafouti is a custard like French dessert traditionally made with cherries. At The Joy of Baking it said that the original clafouti was baked with the cherry pits in, which gave the custard an almond-y flavor. This seemed like the perfect dessert to use almond flour in, since it would mimic the flavor of the cherry pits.

As I said, I've never had clafouti before, but what I got was a superb cherry custard that was a great dessert fresh and a great breakfast the next morning. And it looked an awful lot like the picture on wikipedia. The Trainer restrained himself from eating more than one piece because he insisted it was MY treat.

serves 8 or more
1/2 c. blanched almond meal
1 c. yogurt
3 eggs
2 T. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 Lb cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, yogurt and honey until smooth, add the almond meal and beat some more. Evenly spread cherries in the bottom of a pie pan or 6inch square baking dish. Pour batter over cherries. Bake for about 55 minutes, it should be golden and a little puffed in the center.

December 7, 2008

roasted tomato soup

It's cold outside. And it snowed for the first time today! At least it snowed for a few minutes while I was out an a little expedition. Even after a short walk outside, I wanted something smooth and warm and comforting.

I don't even know what made me decide to make a tomato soup. I remember the Campbell's commercials with the tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, or goldfish crackers, or whatever. But we shunned tomato soup in our household. I always felt that tomato soup was just pasta sauce that wasn't trying hard enough. The fact that I don't think I've ever had a bowl of classic tomato soup before does seem kind of silly given my adoration of all things tomato.

So I set out to make my own version of tomato soup. And is absolutely hit the spot when I got home, rosy cheeked and pink nosed with my little bag of booty.

Roasted Tomato Soup
serves 4

6 vine ripe tomatoes
1 large red pepper
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
3 cups broth or stock
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
3 leaves sage
olive oil for sauteing
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with foil. Cut tomatoes and red pepper in half and arrange skin down on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. While the tomatoes are cooling, chop the onion and garlic, saute in a large skillet on low heat with a little olive oil until onions are translucent. Place onions and broth in a medium size sauce pan. Carefully remove skins from roasted tomatoes and pepper, putting the meat into the saucepan with the broth and onions. Add spices and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Puree soup in a blender until smooth, being careful with the hot liquid. Return to pot and taste for salt and pepper.

Serve warm, garnish with creme fraiche, yogurt, pesto or croutons.

December 3, 2008

savory carrot muffins

In preparation for this month's "Go ahead honey, it's gluten free!" I wanted to make an SCD version of Mom's carrot cake. Actually, Heather just adopted me and made the original recipe for her family's Thanksgiving dessert. I am just tickled pink!

In my experimentation I have not yet acheived the elusive carrot cake, but I did manage to make some really good savory muffins. I loved them from the first little pick I took when they came out of the oven but the Trainer needed more convincing. He tried these twice and turned up his nose. Then, Sunday morning he asked for a piece of one and decided that they really were good, just not what he was expecting the first few times he tried them.

I've been having these for breakfast, pan toasted with a little sliver of cheddar cheese melted on top. The sharp cheddar really compliments the carrot undertones. They'd also be great with cream cheese, farmer cheese or home made yogurt cheese.

Savory Carrot Muffins
makes 12 muffins
9 oz (3 cups) blanched almond meal
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
6 oz (1 1/2 cup) grated carrot
8 oz apple sauce
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350° F and prepare a muffin pan with liners. In one bowl mix the almond meal, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a second bowl, mix carrot, apple sauce and vinegar. Add dry ingredients and then stir in pecans. Evenly fill 12 muffin cups and bake for 30-40 minutes.

December 1, 2008

go head's gluten free! veal scaloppini

A vandal, or as I prefer to think, a guerrilla artist, has put electrical tape 'Hitler' mustaches on all the advertisements around Time Square. A man in suite weaves by on a kick scooter with a tennis racket around his neck. Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. Or, in my case, Ann Arbor, MI.

Which is good because this month 'Go ahead honey, it's gluten free!' is being hosted by Nooshin at For The Love of Food and she choose Foods From Our Childhood as our theme. She wanted us to recreate something special from our childhood. Something that makes us feel warm and fuzzy and think of home.

We always had a home cooked meal (or 'planned overs') but when I think back I can only remember a few of Mom's stand-bys. I have already made her chicken soup, and I make Nonna's pasta sauce all the time. Grilled chicken is, frankly, fairly boring, and though I haven't had a comforting pot roast or stew in a while these I wanted to dig deeper. I wanted to fix a truly special meal from my childhood. A special occasion meal.

Mom had a meal that she prepared she prepared once or twice a year, if that. A recipe that she learned from her Nonnie, my great-grandmother and namesake. Another family recipes passed down from the Old World. We had veal scaloppini for Christmas, and for my birthday when I asked for it.

I remember going to the butcher in Kerry Town, still surrounded by the original red brick paving, the old world feel of the shop. The butcher there was the only one who cut the veal thinly enough to please Mom. I loved the whole process of visiting the butcher, working in the kitchen with Mom: mixing the milk and egg, dipping the veal in the bread crumbs, and the crisp golden crust on the veal, the whole event, not just the meal, was a special occasion for me.

Once, when the Trainer and I were first dating and I lived in Brooklyn I made this for him with gluten free bread crumbs, egg and milk and he really liked it. My challenge this time was to try to replicate the flavor with out the standard bread crumbs. So, with my thinking cap on, I served the Trainer his second plate of veal scaloppini and it tasted just the way I hoped.

Veal Scaloppini
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup blanched almond meal
1 Lb veal scaloppini
2 egg whites
olive oil
lemon wedges

Quickly grind pine nuts in a blender until they form a course meal, being careful not to over grind and create a 'butter'. Mix ground pine nuts and almond meal in a shallow bowl or deep plate. I a second bowl quickly beat eggs whites. Line a baking sheet with brown paper and paper towel. Heat a large skillet and pour in enough olive oil to well coat the bottom. While oil is heating prepare the veal: dip each piece of veal first in the egg whites and then into the nut meal, making sure both sides are coated. Lay veal in a single layer in the skillet. Cook on on side until golden brown and then flip. When first batch of veal is cooked lay it on the paper towel in the prepared baking sheet. Add more olive oil to pan as needed and cook the remaining veal

Serve with a squeeze of lemon

If you have a problem with nuts, use gluten free bread crumbs. If you can't do eggs, use egg replacement for two eggs.

November 29, 2008

scd whipped cream

Since Thanksgiving is a special holiday, and I wasn't planning to make a huge spread, I decided that I wanted to try making something really special for myself. What I really wanted was whipped cream. And I was determined to have it.

Those of us who are gluten free know that many recipes, especially the really special ones usually require advance planning. Special recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet require even more, and often advance preparation as well. Making SCD whipped cream is one of those recipes, but is absolutely worth the wait.

After my first attempt, which produced the goat's milk sweet cream, I conferred with S. I decided that the best way to go would be to actually make yogurt from heavy cream and she told me that it needed to culture for 48 hours, rather than a mere 24. So that's what I did. (When S tells me something, I know she's done her research) I owe this recipe entirely to S for her guidance, even if I did the 'work'.

Yesterday was a wonderful day. I had the Trainer all to myself for the whole day. He accompanied me around Queens on my errands. We rode our bikes through a cool, clear blue day from the library to the bike shop, to Trader Joe's and back again, and then with wide eyed wonder through the holiday market at Union Square. We went to three pet stores looking for the perfect clear plastic balls for the gerbils. At the end of the day, we came home to have David Lebivotz's rosy poached quince* with a dollop of whipped cream. Absolute heaven for the end of a heavenly day.

* I used three quince, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 lemon and 3 1/2 cups water

SCD Whipped Cream
12 oz heavy cream
3 1/2 oz yogurt or yogurt starter for 1 quart yogurt (right now I'm using Fage fat free yogurt)
3 oz (about 1/4 cup) honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
Three days before you want to serve thee whipped cream, start culturing the yogurt. In a medium size sauce pan heat the cream, while stirring, almost to boiling. Allow cream to cool to 100-110° F. Mix a small amount of cream with yogurt started until smooth with no lumps. Add starter mixture to remaining cream and mix thoroughly. Pour cream into three yogurt cups and culture in yogurt maker for 48 hours. When done culturing, chill in refrigerator over night. Mix cultured cream, honey and vanilla in a medium bowl. Begin beating with electric mixer on low speed until honey and vanilla are mixed through. Continue beating at a higher speed until whipped cream forms. Store in a jar or container in fridge. This will last up to a week (if you don't eat it all first) but it will start to separate just a little after the first two days.

November 27, 2008

cranberry apple crisp

One could say, in fact several have, that my living circumstances are very New York. Sometimes life here, in this apartment in Queens, with the Trainer and his family can be difficult. Trying, busy, crowded. Often the morning bathroom schedule gets thrown of and one or all of us are late. Sometimes have such awful misunderstandings with his mother, who doesn't speak English.

And most of all, the kitchen is not my own. I don't have the set of dishes I want. Things don't get stored the way I'd like. I have limited space for the tools I have or want to get. (Not to mention those slices of bread I'm always terrified will get passed over my food or plate) For a girl who grew up as an only child in a house in the Midwest, this is quite an adjustment. It's still an adjustment after almost a year and a half.

Often times when things get intense I retreat to our room and I tell the Trainer that I he has no idea how much I love him. This is my way of telling him how much I deal with for him. Because I do dearly love him. And part of what I love about him is how much he cares for his family, how much responsibility he feels for them, especially his brother. If he didn't insist that we think of his family he wouldn't be my Trainer and I wouldn't love him so much.

I woke at 7am to start and had the turkey in the oven by 7:30. In keeping with my minor obsession with cranberries I wanted to make something special with them for the trainer and I. At home, the crisp is king, and I thought that individual cranberry apple crisps would be perfect. I had them all ready to go into the oven when the turkey came out, and they were just cooled enough when we were done eating.

For once, everyone was home to eat at the same time. After demolishing the bird the Trainer and I were ready for dessert. He turned to me and told me to go ahead and have mine, he would only have a bite of his so that his family could all taste that one. Of course I told him that we could share one and his family could share the other. They're not big on desserts, but this one was hit, served up with a dollop of SCD whipped cream (coming soon). I'm going to have to make two more tomorrow.

These moments when the whole family is together, and the Trainer's father is being charming, and I can give his mom a break in the kitchen. When we really are a happy family. These moments make everything else seem so trivial. These moments are the ones that count. The ones we simply must hold close to our hearts.

And now the turkey's been eaten, the bones are simmering for soup and the Trainer and I have been to the gym and back. On this day of giving thanks I am thankful for my family, my Trainer and my health, which I am steadily regaining through gluten free and SCD eating. Oh, and I'm thankful that the gym is open today too, even if it's only until 3pm.

Cranberry Apple Crisp
makes 4 8oz ramekin crisps
4 apples
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup apple or orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

6 oz (2 cups) blanched almond meal
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Wash, peel and chop the apples into medium size pieces. Coursely chop the cranberries. Mix together in a small bowl with vanilla, juice and cinnamon, stirring to distribute evenly.

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a second bowl mix the almond meal, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the almond meal. Add the honey and mash mixture with the back of a spoon untill it forms a crumbly mixture. Spoon apples into four 8 oz ramekins. Sprinkle crumb mixture over top. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Serve warm, maybe with a dollop of SCD whipped cream.

November 25, 2008

cranberry sauce

Thanksgiving is drawing near and all my favorite bloggers are sharing all their tips for a happy, healthy celebration. Somehow I imagine that they have all the time in the world to perfect these recipes and formulate these tips. I had visions of posts like these as well. But, whatever it is my fellows do for a living, I doubt any of them work as the personal assistant to Chicken Little.

Last year I prepared my first complete Thanksgiving meal for the Trainer and his family, who never had a traditional turkey and fixings before. It was a big hit, but I was left with a bird full of gluten free stuffing to eat by myself, along with the gravy, cranberry sauce and green vegetables. This year I'm only doing the bird, and cranberry sauce for myself.

Cranberries may have been one of the foods that the native Americans shared with the settlers in New England, where they are native. Some of the best cranberry bogs are in New Jersey. It's no wonder they have become a traditional Thanksgiving food.

I love cranberries and cranberry sauce. We are not a fancy cranberry relish or cranberry chutney family. We like our fresh cranberry sauce, and non of that canned stuff. This is our family's good old stand-by. I've tweaked it to be sugar free, and I venture to say it is just as good, if not better than the version we used to make with white sugar.

Cranberry Sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1 bag cranberries

In a large sauce pan heat water and honey, stirring until honey is dissolved. Add cranberries and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and boil until all the cranberries pop. Stir and simmer for several more minutes. Pour into a heat proof serving dish or container. Let stand to cool, then place in refrigerator over night.

November 23, 2008

inside out lasagna meatballs

Last night the trainer and I got to see that fantastic Chilean band Inti Illimani and it was amazing. We've been waiting over a two years to go to an Andean concert together. He invited me to one when we first started dating but I couldn't make it. (Listen here)

At intermission I bought their CD to give my parents for Christmas and after the show we had the opportunity to meet the musicians. Neither the Trainer nor I had a pen, but we begged and borrowed and I got all their autographs for my folks. I was so giddy, I've never been to a concert like that I hardly knew what to say to them. Of course, most of them spoke only Spanish which made speaking to them even harder. Good thing I had the Trainer to get me through.

We got home late and lazed around in bad this morning. I dragged myself out of bed and into my sweats for my big cooking day. Burger day, to be exact. I tried a few new things and I got to work on something that's been swimming circles around behind my eyeballs for the last several weeks.

I've been craving lasagna, and when I made that first batch of mock ricotta I thought I knew how to do it. This one pretty much speaks for itself, and I think the squirrel in the tree outside are window wanted some too, he was crying the whole time these were in the oven.

Inside Out Lasagna Meatballs
2 lb ground beef
8 oz ricotta or SCD mock ricotta
1/4 c. (3/4oz) grated Parmesan regiano
1/4 c. (3/4oz) grated pecorino Romano
3/4 c. diced parsley
1/2 c. (1 1/5oz) grated Gruyere
quick tomato sauce*
Mix ricotta, Parmesan, Romano and parsley in one bowl.
Divide ground beef into 2 oz portions. Create thin patties, put tablespoon size portions of cheese mixture in the middle of patties and mold meat around cheese. Place a wire rack in a baking dish or cookie sheet, arrange meat balls on wire rack and bake for 20 min. Serve covered with quick tomato sauce and a sprinkle of Gruyere.

Makes 16 meatballs

November 21, 2008

dark date & pecan spice bread

There is a distinct chill in the air, it almost smells of snow. Here in the city we have left fall behind us and are careening towards winter. All the signs are out. The huge Norway spruce has been selected and brought to Rockefeller Center, still shrouded in scaffolding as they swag it with lights.

Cold weather means many things, but one in particular, this girl and her Trainer reach for a nice warm loaf of bread. It has become our evening ritual, a slice of bread and cup of tea and a little quite time before bed. I have been parading a variety of experimental loaves under his nose, all met with enthusiasm, but it all started when I was preparing for my trip to Alaska.

In the short time I was home I worked myself into a frenzy in Mom’s kitchen. What a joy it was to have all the space and tools I grew accustomed to in childhood. This is the kitchen of my childhood, full of love and fond memories, the room in our house where our small family of three most frequently congregated.

I danced around Mom at the stove and Dad in his seat reading the paper, brandishing my spatula and referring to two cookbooks and a recipe downloaded onto my iPhone. I experimented with various things I wanted to take with me to have as emergency food. I settled on one of Raman Prasad’s breads and one of Naomi’s

Evidently, all that recipe searching rubbed something off on me. In the fewer than 24 hours that I was in Michigan before my return to New York I was determined to make something new, my very own. I must give a nod to Naomi, Carol and Raman whose methods I have followed and incorporated into my own baking and recipe.

Now that I have recreated my original success, as has Mom, I am ready to share this recipe

Dark Date & Pecan Spice Bread

3 eggs, separated
3/4tsp cider vinegar
pinch salt

½ c. (15pc) prunes stewed in ½ c. water
4oz additive free apples sauce
2c. almond meal
1/4c. cashew butter
1tsp. baking soda
1/2c. dates, chopped
1/2c. pecans, chopped
1tsp. cinnamon
1/2tsp. cloves
1/4tsp. ginger
1/4tsp. anise extract

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a loaf pan with parchment paper

Puree the prunes and water in a blender.

Mix prune puree, apple sauce, egg yolks, almond meal, cashew butter and baking soda.

Add dates and pecans.

In a separate, large, dry bowl let egg whites warm to room temperature and add a pinch of salt.

Begin beating the egg whites with an electric mixer.

When egg whites have doubled in volume drizzle vinegar while continuing to beat.

When egg whites achieve soft peaks mix the prune puree mixture into the egg whites.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, when a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

November 18, 2008

cook the books: La Cucina

When Rachel first mentioned Cook the Books I had to run out and get La Cucina, A Novel of Rapture by Lily Prior. Actually, I went online and requested that it be transferred to my local library branch and then, about a week and a half later I picked it up. The idea of reading a book about food and then cooking was more than I could pass up. I love to read, love to cook and often find my cravings and food choices influenced by what I read. (My desire to cook indigenous foods came from reading about how the stampeders of the gold rush had to live off the land)

I toted La Cucina around with me for a few days while finished gluten-free girl. It is apropose, I believe, to say that I devoured this book, three days I think. Reading about the rich foods and culture of Sicily made me ache for the culture of my own Italian family, very little of which has survived to be passed down to me.

I keenly felt the story of Rosa's awakening to love through her cooking. It mirrors my own revitalization after going gluten free and finding the SCD and having the love and support of my like minded Trainer.

Every food discribed in loving detail made me pause, leaving little bookmarks to revisit sections. I really shouldn't read books like this at the gym. Pasticcio di Sostanza (I have a chicken heart and liver waiting in the fridge), 'strattu, caponata (which I've filled away for eggplant season) and the "little oranges", but the description of one treat in particular sounded like perfection.

Had I been too hasty in offering to give l'Inglese lessons? I asked myself, as I ground green almonds with my pestle. The power of my wrist uickly turned the almonds to powder. If only I could grind my worries away so easily.
I beat the ricotta, egg yolks, honey, sugar, lemon juice, and rind into the almonds...I whisked the egg whites into peaks in a matter of seconds... When the torta had baked to a golden, angels-scented crust, and after waiting impatiently for it to cool, I helped myself to a large slice with a thick dollop of cream. Ooh it was good.

And so I made a torta de ricotta. For my first batch I made five little tortas for two. The Trainer and the family loved them. This evening I made one large torta and the Trainer was on pins and needles until I told him it was cool enough to eat. Perfect with, or without lemon and topped with pomegranate molasses, raspberry preserves or cream. The Trainer's mother says I should open a bakery to sell these and some of my other recipes

Torta de Ricotta
8oz ricotta or "mock ricotta"★
5oz light honey
2 eggs seperated
Zest of 1 lemon
6 oz almond flour✲
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda✵
butter and flour for pan

Preheat oven to 325° F

Butter and flour an 8 inch round pan or five 8oz ramekins

Sift almond flour, salt and baking soda in a small bowl

Beat ricotta and honey until smooth, continue beating and add yolks one at a time, add lemon zest

Mix the dry ingredients into the ricotta

Whisk the egg whites and carefully fold into the batter

Turn out into prepared pan, or pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until set and golden brown

Turn onto a wire rack to cool

★following the advice of S I made my own SCD "mock ricotta" by mixing 5oz farmer cheese with 3oz slightly strained yogurt. I have found that both 0% and 1% fat yogurt works for this

✲ for this recipe I used finely ground, blanched almond flour from Digestive Wellness

✵ if you are using real ricotta use baking powder. The combination of the baking soda and the yogurt in the "mock ricotta" acts as a substitute for the baking powder

November 16, 2008

besos de novia (golden blossom marshmallows)

Yesterday the Trainer had four clients and headed of early, fortified with a breakfast of apple pancakes (a first run). I packed myself up and went to visit S. She's got a great kitchen full of gadgets that I have no room for AND a washer and drier in her apartment. In New York this is the height of luxury.

Though we're still new friends, S and I clicked the moment we met and I adore her. We both are dealing with celiac disease and are following the SCD. She is such a wealth of knowledge and I soak it up like a sponge whenever we're together.

I wanted to make Kendall Conrad's cashew bread and the recipe is huge and makes three loaves of bread. I only have one loaf pan so I thought I could do it there. Can't complain about the company either.

I also wanted to try making SCD marshmallows and if anyone had any suggestions I knew S would. We were both a little blitzed, or we might have realized that trying to whip eggs to hard peaks on a rainy day isn't the easiest thing, but we persevered and ended up with some very tasty little treats to show for it.

I found the original recipe posted to SCDrecipe by Maria and we modified it using the tools and knowledge that S possesses.

When I gave one to the Trainer's mother she thought they were great. "Rico sta!" she dubbed them. In Ecuador marshmallows are called besos de novia, or bride's kisses. Sweet and romantic, don't you think?

This is my first ever attempt at making marshmallows, or even candy for that matter, and without S it never would have worked, but it's really not as scary as it sounds. I will continue to tweak this to create a more precise recipe, but I've decided to post it for those who are hankering for an SCD marshmallow. (If you really don't think you can face it, let me know and we'll see what can be done)

Golden Blossom Marshmallows
2 envelopes or 5 tsp unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup water
3 egg whites or 6tbsp egg whites (1 egg white if you're using a hand mixer)
Almond flour or toasted coconut for dusting

Soften the gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water. In a 3 quart sauce pan (we used non-stick) combine the honey and 1/3 cup water. Cook on low heat until the mixture reaches soft ball stage, 260. If you don't have a candy thermometer, soft ball stage is when they honey forms a distinct ball when dropped in a cup of water. The mixture will foam up, this is to be expected.

Remove pot from heat and skim of the bubbles and film on top. Stir in the gelatin until it dissolved. Let cool for 10 or 15 minutes.

Wipe the bowl of a stand mixer with cider vinegar and whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Skim off the stiffest whites, about half the volume, and discard the wetter eggs.

Continue beating at high speed and pour in the syrup in a steady stream. Beat until the candy stands in soft peaks.

Prepare a 9x13 pan with parchment well dusted with almond meal or toasted coconut. Carefully pour into the pan. With a slightly wet spatula or spoon back smooth the marshmallow evenly around the pan.

Let stand overnight.

When the marshmallows are set, cut them into pieces. Dust all edges in almond flour or coconut.

Sent from my iPhone

November 15, 2008

blueberries and cream

One of my coworkers most vividly resembles a brick wall, both in appearance and attitude. Just conversing with her is difficult. Trying to achieve some sort of understanding can be painfully frustrating. I drink an awful lot of tea at work because of this woman.

After one especially exhausting encounter I found myself craving whipped cream. Now, I try very hard not use food as a source of comfort, hence the tea, but this one just wouldn't go away.

Most folks can stop at the corner and pick up a can of Reddi-wip but when you're sugar and lactose free as well, things are not so simple. I did a little research and lots of thinking, and then got foiled at the grocery store.

I took home a quart of goats milk, which wanted to try culturing in any case, rather than the heavy cream I was hoping to find. I had to culture the goats milk for yogurt before I could try anything. By the time that was done I still had the craving so forged on with my experiment.

The result was not whipped cream, just slightly tangy sweat cream, which was still very good and satisfied the sweet-creamy craving just fine. When I put it over frozen blueberries one night it froze, like rootbeer in a float, and it was an absolutely delicious sweet ending.

I'm sure this would work with any creamy, full fat plain yogurt if you are inclined to try it.

Sweet Cream Goats Milk Yogurt
1 tsp cold water
1/2 tsp gelatin
2 cups whole goats milk yogurt
2oz honey
Put the water in a small cup and sprinkle the gelatin over it.

In a saucepan heat yogurt and honey over medium heat, stirring until honey dissolves. Stir in gelatin, pour into a heatproof container and chill.

November 11, 2008


Before there was the Trainer there was Bob the Builder. Not a builder, as such, but with enough time, a few tokes and a lot of grunting he could fix just about anything. A comfortable guy, many years my senior, he was just not The One.

Bob the Builder was a great guy and I learned a lot from my time with him. He's a vegetarian and he introduced me to various veggie-friendly cuisines: Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Indian.

Beside rice noodles and stir-fry tofu, one of his favorites was saag, an Indian spinach dish. Pureed and stewed beyond recognition this dish has a great flavor, every restaurant seems to have their own recipe. Saag can be a great side by itself, or add farmers cheese for saag paneer, or add chicken, tofu, or legumes to make a main course.

I remember Bob the Builder fondly, even if I did break up with him, and I had a craving for this warm, comforting dish that I first made for him.

2lb spinach and other greens, such as collard greens, mustard green, etc
2 small yellow onions
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 inch fresh ginger
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp tumeric
1tbsp garam masala
Wash and chop spinach. Fill a medium sauce pan about 1/4 full with water, add vegetables and simmer for 45 minutes

In a blender puree the spinach in batches and return to pot

Chop the onions finely and mince the garlic and ginger as fine as possible. Saute the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, cook until soft. Add sallt, turmeric and garam masala and stir until everything is well mixed.

Add onion mixture to spinach and simmer until it is the desired consistancy. At this point it will more closely resemble a science project and will glorp and burbly like a volcano. I assure you, it tastes great too.

November 9, 2008

go head's gluten free! october indigenous foods round-up

Welcome! Please step into my kitchen, well, my virtual kitchen at any rate, and join me for a fantastic feast of indigenous foods from across the country and around the world.

I am thrilled to have hosted October's edition on "Go Ahead Honey...It's Gluten Free!", the theme for which I selected indigenous foods. I hoped to stretch all your imaginations and test your knowledge, and I was properly impressed. Although Canadian Thanksgiving is past, and American Thanksgiving is later this month (and I'm not sure if you folks across the pond have a Thanksgiving), I would like to take a moment now to give thanks for this wonderful gluten free blogging community we are all a part of.

Let us begin with a toast to health and friendship with Naomi's sloe, apple and rose syllabub. A beautifully pink take on an old English favorite made from sloe gin, fresh apple juice, rose water and yogurt. All from the English country side.

Whilst we all chatter and get our bearings, we can snack on Rachel's roasted sunchokes, which, if I'm not mistaken were grown in her very own upstate New York garden. A simple dish that, I understand, is best shared amongst good friends.

Once we've all taken our seats around the table we can start with the soup. Kelly brought us on of the New Worlds favorites whipped up into a warming potato soup. To add a little color to the table Heather has presented us with a vibrant butternut squash soup. Don't be shy, have a bowl of each.

For the main course we have a dish that has traveled far. A quinessential Australian dish, made from the animal that Australia is famous for. Jacqui got creative and made some semi free-form kangaroo meat pies. Lauren mixed foods that are indigenous to the place she lives as well as the state she grew up in. All of the ingredients for her hazelnut apple wild rice salad were locally grown as well. The other New Yorker in the group, myself, made grilled venison and a new England fall fruit egg bake from the fruits that grow on the east coast of the United States.

I hope you all wore your stretchy pants, and if you didn't you ought to know better than to wear those skinny jeans to such a gathering of good foodie friends. The dessert is yet to come. Acorns are abundant in California and were a staples food source for the natives there. Sea whipped up a batch of acorn muffins in tribute to those who roamed California before her.

And for our dessert tour de force, Heather created a mesquite corn cake. Corn was a staple native to Colorado and much of America and mesquite was used by the natives for food, fuel, shelter and more before Europeans introduced wheat and refinded sugars.

Now that we've all eaten our fill, I'll pack you each off with a selection of delicious leftovers to share with your families. Thank you all so much for participating, I am so pleased that you did. I am given to understand the November's "Go Ahead Honey...It's Gluten Free!" is being hosted here, so be sure to check it out for November's theme.

Thank you all again, and especially Naomi, our fearless founder.

November 8, 2008

fennel leek soup for a fall day

Today was a perfect fall day. Not a Perfect Day, per say, but a perfect FALL day. My all-knowing iPhone told me that it was mid-fifties with a chance of rain. I threw on my long sweater, left the Trainer in bed and left to meet a friend in Manhattan.

As I stepped out the front door onto the front stoop I was greated by a grey sky and blowing mizzle. As my father and Mel Gibson would say "good Scottish Weather".

The trees across the street were spectacular, some like the Ginko, already changed and dropping their fruit, smelling of butyric acid and dinosaur times. Others still green with tops afire.

I gleefully crunched through the piles of crisp brown oak leaves piled high around the playground. The frisky wind that blew wet spatterings in my face chased the fallen leaves round and round in an endless game of tag.

When I reached the train station my ears were slightly cold, my nose was slightly red, and my eyes were bright with pleasure. This is a perfect day indeed. Perfect for staying close with friends. Perfect for a mug of mulled cider after a brisk walk. Perfect for a heart pot of filling soup.

Fennel Leek Soup
1 buld fennel
3 medium leeks
3 cloves garlic
3 cups broth or stock of your choice
1 tsp dried whole thyme
olive oil
fresh ground pepper

Wash the fennel and leeks. Discard the bottom of the fennel bulb and cut off any bruised or brown parts. Cut off the base of the leeks and seperate the "leaves" to clean out all the dirt. Discard any bruised or dried out sections.

Coursely chop the fennel, leeks and garlic. You can save some of the fennel fronds for a garnish if that's your thing, or chop up all the fennel.

In a medium sauce pan with a little olive oil saute the chopped vegetables until the leeks are bright green.

Add stock and simmer until vegetables are tender.

Puree in a blender in batches until the soup reaches your desired consistency.

Return soup to the pot, add thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer to allow flavors to meld.

This soup base is perfect for any type of addition. You can add yogurt to make it creamier of for protien: chicken, turkey, suasage or tofu. And it's great hot or cold.