Friday, November 30, 2007

Easy Pasta dish - no wheat or tomatoes (cheese & nuts optional)

I came up with an easy pasta dish:

1 package of brown rice pasta (or you can use wheat or quinoa)
Frozen vegetables such as peas, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, summer squash
Some pesto (see below)
Pine Nuts (optional)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, steam the frozen vegetables (I do this in the micro) until tender-crisp. Toss everything together and you have a pasta-pesto dish.

Pesto: Combine 1 clove garlic, some fresh basil leaves, olive oil, and pine nuts (optional) or parmesan cheese (optional) in the food processor. Process until it forms a thick paste.

This is a great easy dish for a family with multiple different food allergies, because you can reserve a little pesto without nuts (for the kids) and add cheese later for those who can have it. For those who can eat cooked chicken pieces, you can toss that in too. Otherwise, my husband just ate his with fish.

Freezing Vegetable Broth

Last blog, I wrote I would stop using the glass Ball/Mason Jars for freezing soups/broth and revert back to plastic or pyrex. Some advice from a recent Martha Stewart Living magazine came in handy...freeze broth in one-cup muffin tins (like ice cubes). Then you can pop them out and store them in a ziplock freezer bag until you're ready to use them. Just take out as many "ice cubes" as cups of broth called for in the recipe and you're done. It worked wonderfully. I just had to be very careful putting the filled muffin tins in the freezer, and I used my thumb to firmly press on the back of the muffin tin in the middle of the cup to remove the "ice cubes" of broth. They gently popped out and it worked very well. A little more work up front, but it was very easy to just pop two "cups" of vegetable broth out of the freezer to boil my cabbage.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Grandma B's Chicken Noodle Soup

My mom's most famous meals always involve putting a whole bunch of meat and vegetables in a huge roasting pan, and roasting them in the oven until they are so tender they simply fall apart when you put them in your mouth. My daughter and I were wanting some chicken noodle soup that we could keep in the freezer (an alternative to canned). Here's Grandma "B's" recipe for chicken noodle soup:

Rinse a whole, cut up chicken in cold water and put it in a roasting pan. Sprinkle in cut-up carrots, celery, and onions. Add at least 2" of water, cover with aluminum foil, and roast at 350 degrees for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Roast on the bottom rung of the oven. Then, dice up the chicken, cool and freeze the broth, vegetables and chicken. When ready to eat, simply thaw and add some pasta, noodles, or rice and water (if necessary) and cook in a saucepan on the stove until grain is tender. You can add your own salt/pepper to taste.

It's turned out great, but again I've had a problem freezing in the glass Ball canning jars. They keep breaking on me and it's hard to remember to take them out of the freezer in advance. If I do this again, I'm going back to plastic freezer containers or Pyrex.

Unfortunately, this one is only allergy-free for my daughter and also makes great "baby food" for my 14-month old in the blender. However, my husband loved the pork tenderloin I made in the slow-cooker with carrots, onions, garlic, parsnips and salt/pepper (another "Grandma B" dish).

Sushi and Granola Bars

When my sister came to visit, she gave me $20 and requested I pick up some California Rolls and Granola Bars for her at Whole Foods. While she's watching the kids, my husband and I go into the store and look at the California Rolls - we think about the nori, carrots, avocado, wheat-free tamari soy sauce and cooked frozen shrimp we have at home. We decide, "let's just roll our own at home, it will be fun!" So we pick up a cucumber, wasabi powder, and some special sushi rice out of the bulk food section and off we go. And as for the granola bars - I didn't want to spend hours reading boxes to find some without soy, peanuts, nuts, or trans fat in case my daughter were to want one (which is likely), so I decide to make those myself too, and we buy some chocolate chips (for a special treat).

When we got home, I cut up the vegetables while my husband de-thawed the shrimp and put the rice in the rice cooker. A couple of his rolling tricks: (1) put the rice in a wooden bowl to cool and absorb excess water, (2) use rice vinegar (we used brown rice vinegar) to make the rice not so sticky.

I made the granola bars after dinner, which were from the "Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook" and simply involved stirring all the ingredients together (I used 1/4 c honey and 1/2 brown rice syrup) and pressing them into the cookie sheet. I also added some unsweetened shredded coconut sprinkled on top.

It did take a little longer, but it was very rewarding to make our own food at home.

My Sister's Visit - Indian Dhal (Lentils)

I wanted to try out some new Indian recipes when my sister came for a visit - since I think it's probably her favorite kind of food. For all of you Indian cooking experts out there, please comment and tell me how I could do better! I tried a lentil soup called "Dhal Panch-phoron" which translates to "red lentils with five-spice seasoning." The basic recipe, from "Secrets From An Indian Kitchen" by Mridvla Baljekar, is the following:

1 cup red split lentils
4 1/2 cups of water
1/2 t ground turmeric
1 t salt
2 T ghee (I used canola oil)
1/2 t five-spice mix
2-4 small dried red chilies (which I omitted)

The five-spice mix consists of 1 t cumin seeds, 1 t fennel seeds, 1 t black mustard seeds, 1 t onion seeds, and 1/2 t fenugreek seeds. Basically you simmer the lentils for about 25 minutes. The really neat part is what you do with the spices: you heat the oil in a steel ladle over the gas stove, then add the five-spice mix and chilies and let them sizzle a few minutes (until the chilies are blackened). You want to be careful to not burn the spices, you are just infusing the oil with the flavors. The aroma in the house is beautiful! Then you carefully lower the hot ladle into the lentils, and the spices spread to the whole dish. It is a wonderful technique and I'm so glad I learned it!

I improvised on my five-spice mix, just using what I had in the house: cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seed and I had to just stir in some powdered fenugreek. But it still turned out absolutely wonderful. I'm sure it would be better if I got the right spices.

Pumpkin Pie Experiment - Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's an egg, dairy, refined sugar, and wheat-free pumpkin pie recipe I've devised, which has its roots from one that was in an old Martha Stewart "Pies & Tarts" cookbook.

I found vegan pie recipes on-line, but they were all made with soy (my daughter is allergic to soy). The pumpkin pie recipe in the "Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide" was made with gelatin and a refrigerated pie (no baking, except for the crust). I was determined to perfect, or come as close as I could to perfect, a pumpkin pie with no eggs, dairy, or refined sugar.

The first time I tried, I used a whole can of coconut milk and substituted the sugar with honey - and it turned out more like pudding than pie (first picture with coconut sprinkled on top). The second time (second picture) it was a much better consistency, and my sister (the avid taste-tester) said it tasted "normal."

For the crust, see the apple pie post (and just half that recipe if you only want one pie). The first crust (the filling that failed) I made with oat/millet flour, the second crust was oat/corn flour. Oat/brown rice also works too. You could use gluten-free flours for a gluten-free version. They were all tasty.

Pumpkin Pie Filling:
One 15oz can pumpkin puree (just get the one that's plain pumpkin, or make your own puree if you are so inclined)
1/2 cup coconut cream (do not shake a can of regular coconut milk...I used the Thai Kitchen brand...and skim the cream off the top of the can)
1/2 cup maple sugar
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
4 1/2 t of Ener-G-egg replacer mixed with three T of rice milk or water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients together with an electric mixer and pour into the pie shell. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Cool or refrigerate before serving (I let mine cool overnight in the refrigerator, which I think helps it to slice better). Also, I think that I mixed up the egg replacer with the rice milk too soon. The pie would probably rise higher if I blended the rest of the ingredients first, then mixed up the egg replacer and added that last, transferring to the pie shell and oven quickly to aid in leavening. Makes one 8" pie.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Happy Halloween - Carob Cupcakes

Like most moms, I really didn't want my kids eating a bunch of candy for Halloween - with enough refined sugar and chocolate (think, caffeine) it would mess up their sleep schedule and make them cranky for days. So I came up with Carob Cupcakes, my own variation of the Chocolate Cake recipe in the Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook.

1/2 c safflower oil
1/2 c honey or brown rice syrup
1 t vanilla
3 t Ener-G Egg Replacer, mixed with 4 T. rice milk
3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1 c oat flour
1 c brown rice flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 c carob powder
1/4 t salt
3/4 c rice milk

First beat together the oil and honey/brown rice syrup. Then add vanilla, egg replacer, and applesauce. Then I just beat in everything else all at once to save time. Pour into muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for about 17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (time will depend on how big your cupcakes are).

I made the frosting from the "Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook" too, and just used regular food coloring. If anyone knows of a "natural" food coloring, let me know, but for this Halloween I just used what I could find. We had green, orange, and yellow carob cupcakes.

Milo-Sweet Potato Muffins

The Milo-Sweet Potato Muffins in "The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide" are exceptional. Though I suppose you would say they were a "heavy" muffin, we all eat them like dessert since they're so sweet! If you have given up refined sugar, you will know they taste sweet. If you're still a sugar-addict though, they might not be for you.

Milo is also called Sorghum. I've used Bob's Red Mill Sorghum flour for these muffins. It's a great way to use up leftover sweet potatoes, and the recipe is so basic and easy - just sweet potato, milo/sorghum flour, salt, baking soda, unbuffered vitamin C powder, and oil. I believe that sorghum would also be gluten-free. I used unbleached baking cups from Whole Foods.

Quinoa/Apple Pancakes - A Success!

The headline sort of reminds me of my AQ Times writing years. A lot of headlines were "XXX - A Success!" Things have changed a lot since those good 'ol days. Anyway, these pancakes were finally "a success" after getting a non-stick griddle. I also made some adjustments to the basic recipe in "The Ultimate Food Allergy Cookbook and Survival Guide." The basic recipe calls for quinoa and tapioca flour, baking soda, unbuffered vitamin C powder, cinnamon, oil, and water. I used fresh apple cider for the water, and added apple and hazelnut chunks. They were different pancakes than "normal" - the texture is a little more sticky. But they were mighty tasty and made the whole house smell like fall.

Previously I tried the quinoa/tapioca pancakes in a stainless steel fry pan, and they stuck so badly it was impossible to cook them. The non-stick griddle worked exceptionally well. When I went to buy a non-stick griddle I was shocked by how much they cost. I ended up getting one from Target.