Archive for February, 2009

Pumpkin Cranberry Upside Down Cake

    February 17 is the anniversary of the day I met my husband and the day we always celebrate as our anniversary. We have been together 32 years now. February 18 is the birthday of my daughter Rita. This time it was also the 32nd anniversary of the day that I baked the infamous 1 inch high angel food cake for her birthday. Having stayed out late the night before it was imperative to get up really early to bake that cake. The mixer was running and running and the bowl was not filling up – it seems that I was beating the packet of flour (instead of the dried egg whites) with the water . . . . And it went downhill from there. As it sometimes happens something that looks like a disaster tastes pretty good if you close your eyes so we survived it. Imagine a pile of broken up pieces covered with 7-minute frosting and birthday candles on top. This year I was determined to make her a birthday cake that she could enjoy and that also looked good.
    All of you cooks out there, fair warning – nothing is permanent but change. There is a new set of allergy parameters. Rita is now much less reactive to dairy, especially Mozzarella cheese, but now very reactive to egg. And she is so grateful that Candida is no longer a consideration.
    Rita and I went over the cake recipes that I had been considering and settled on Elana’s Pumpkin Cranberry Upside Down Cake with modifications based on Christina’s comments regarding flax seed for an egg substitution. Also we used almonds in the topping rather than the walnuts mentioned in the recipe. And since husband would eat none-of-this I made up only half the recipe.
    Rita and I judged it to be a 10 on the taste scale but she wants to try it at a later date using eggs as originally created by Elana. In the meantime we divided the leftovers and I had a piece for breakfast with my morning mug of tea. It is just barely, but very sufficiently sweet and I may continue to make this for a breakfast treat.

Pumpkin Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Pumpkin Cranberry Upside Down Cake

The Topping:
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup whole almonds, finely chopped and toasted
2 tablespoons agave nectar + 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar (didn’t have enough agave)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

The Dry Mixture:
1 ½ cups blanched almond flour
¼ teaspoon Celtic sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Pinch of ginger
1 ½ tablespoons ground flax seed

The Wet Mixture:
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar + 1 tablespoon agave nectar
½ cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin

1. Line an small pan with a piece of parchment paper (use scissors to cut to size)
2. In a small bowl, combine cranberries, almonds, brown sugar, agave and grapeseed oil
3. Pour cranberry mixture into lined baking pan and set aside
4. In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and ground flax seed. This was whirled briefly through the blender because the almond flour was a bit coarse. Then dump the mixture back in the bowl.
5. In the blender, combine oil, brown sugar, agave, water and cooked pumpkin; blend on high speed for 30 seconds. This was a very thick mixture and I kept adding a tablespoon of water at a time which caused the resulting ‘cake’ to be ve-r-r-y moist.
6. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
7. Spread batter evenly over cranberry mixture
8. Bake at 350*F for 30 – 40 minutes and do the standard straw test for doneness.
9. Remove from oven and let cool until the pan is easy to handle.
10. Run a knife around the edge of the baking pan, then place a large plate over the cake and invert cake and plate together.
11. Remove the baking pan from the cake and then peel off the parchment paper.
12. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve. This yields about 12 dessert servings.



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Rice & Beans Casserole

    At a local food pantry we distribute plenty of basics including rice and beans. Canned tomatoes and green chilies are also very popular items here in Texas. Filling a food order often causes me to consider what kind of tasty meal could be prepared with these items. So I was inspired to bring the following casserole to a potluck/meeting of pantry workers. It turned out to be really tasty and enjoyable as well as nutritious and very filling.

The Rice:
1 cup dry brown (white if you prefer) rice
1 can (15-16 oz.) diced tomatoes, Rotel, or tomato sauce + water for the rice

The Beans:
1 can (15-16 oz.) red kidney beans rinsed and drained or 2 cups home cooked beans

The Veggies:
½ cup chopped green chilies (or other veggie on hand like celery, bell pepper, finely chopped carrot, squash, cabbage or anything else fresh that needs to be used up)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 minced garlic cloves (if you have fresh)
1 tablespoon cooking oil

The Seasoning:
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder (if you didn’t have fresh)
4 total teaspoons of any of the following: chili powder, ground cumin, or red curry powder

The Secret Ingredient:
¼ – ½ cup coconut milk (keeps the casserole moist and mellows/blends the flavors)

Cook the brown rice with your choice of tomato option adding sufficient liquid to yield tender rice. This can be done the day before and put in the fridge. There will be about 3-4 cups total.

Sauté the raw veggies, celery, bell pepper, onion, etc. in oil. Add the beans, cooked veggies, and seasoning to the cooked rice. Stir in the coconut milk. Put it all in a casserole dish and bake at 350*F for 25 minutes. About 6-8 ounces of cheese melted on top adds nutritional value for those who can partake of dairy (I have to admit to being very partial to cheese even though milk doesn’t agree with me).

Note: Casseroles are by nature free-form so exact measurements are not critical.

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Onion-Brown Gravy

   Gravy has never been very high on my priority list but we needed some for dinner last night. We intended to prepare really lean thin-sliced round steak and it just looked like it would need braising to tenderize it. So my husband asked if I could make up some gravy for him to add to the pan for slow cooking. His idea for making gravy used to involve opening a packet or a jar. Since then we have experimented with several types of gluten-free gravy and this is one that works for both of us.
   The gravy was ready when he started dinner and after browning the meat he added it to the pan, covered it, and turned down the heat. It cooked for about an hour and was perfect.
   This gravy recipe could also be used in place of a can of condensed soup as sauce in a baked casserole dinner – a chicken, rice, and veggie combo comes to mind.

2 T. butter, margarine, oil, or shortening (we used Earth Balance this time)
¼ – ½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 T. + 2 T. cornstarch
2 cups of broth or water plus bouillon
salt & pepper to taste

Mix 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch with ¼ cup of the broth/water and set aside.

Sauté the onions in the fat (add salt to help draw out the juices). Continue until the edges of the onions are beginning to color a bit and most of the moisture is evaporated. Add the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the pan and continue stirring until it takes on a light golden brown color.

Quickly stir in the broth and bring slowly to a simmer. The gravy takes on a translucent quality as the starch cooks. Add the reserved liquid/starch mixture and stir it in quickly. Continue stirring while gravy simmers 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. If it gets too thick, add a little more broth or water. Serve hot.


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Pizza Crust I

    Pizza was one of the foods that Rita thought she might never experience again without serious concerns regarding a possible Candida flare up. Web research turned up many versions of pizza crust made with baking powder – most of them are labeled Crazy Crust Pizza. We have gluten-free baking powder in the pantry as well as the ever increasing assortment of gluten-free flours so the experiment began. Once again my dear husband was roped in as taste-tester. He is known within the family for his pizza creations so I knew that if he liked it then we had a real winner.
    How many variations can/should there be for a simple pizza? That seems to vary directly with the number of participants. Rita insisted on ground bison for its grass-fed antibiotic-free lean goodness and we were all in agreement with that. She also wanted grilled onions and we were good with that. I wanted mushrooms and no one else agreed. Rita needed dairy-free but two of us insist on cheese. Fortunately we all know geometry and so boundaries were established on the surface of the crust. The original recipe advises distributing your browned ground meat on the crust before the first trip into the oven. We have tried it both ways with equally good results. It is perhaps a little easier to eat with the meat firmly in the crust.
    In the meantime this is Pizza Crust I – Pizza Crust II experiments will begin soon to reduce or eliminate whole eggs for those of us who monitor cholesterol intake.

Pizza Crust Ingredients:
GF flour blend:
       1/3 cup each of sorghum, white rice, and tapioca flours
       1 teaspoon Xanthan gum
       ¼ teaspoon salt
       ¼ teaspoon GF baking powder
Sift all together until thoroughly blended.

3 eggs + 2/3 cup water (makes 1 1/3 cup total liquid)

Mix flour, eggs and water in a bowl. Beat 2 to 3 minutes with a hand-held mixer.
The batter becomes very light and increases in volume! Grease baking sheet; pour crust mixture onto sheet. Bake the crust for 25 minutes at 425* F. Remove it from the oven.

Add sauce, grilled onions, mushrooms, olives and optional other ingredients.
Cheese may be added if dairy is not a problem. Bake an additional 10 minutes.


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