Archive for June, 2009

Zucchini – Tales of Summer Squash

    Summer gardens are bursting with produce. It’s that time of year, as the joke goes, when you need to keep your car doors locked or you will find you have been gifted with a bag of produce, most likely zucchini. There are folks who are repulsed by this vegetable but as far as I am concerned – bring it on!

    The resident chef makes an awesome pasta sauce. Over the years he has learned just how useless it is to comment when I take a portion of his sauce to top off a plate of tenderly cooked squash – summer or winter varieties.

    You can classify me as a lazy cook. This recipe is one of those well-worn favorites and about as simple as it gets. I’ve had it for so long that it is yellowed, falling apart, and I have no idea from whence it came. But here it is for all to enjoy. Make it with any squash that comes your way and enjoy!

Zucchini with Walnuts – 6 servings
2 tablespoons cooking oil, butter, or vegan margarine
4 cups zucchini, washed, unpeeled, coarsely chopped
3/4 cups walnuts, bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil and then sauté the zucchini, walnuts, and seasoning until the zucchini is fork tender – maybe about ten minutes.

    This is a genius recipe for all of its simplicity – you won’t believe how good it is! Be sure to share it with your friends who are also in summertime produce overload.



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Sage Biscuits

   This biscuit recipe was originally created with oat bran replacing wheat flour long before anyone was talking about gluten-free anything (outside of a clinic) because I knew that wheat did not agree with me. The herbs and seasoning made it a hit with nearly everyone. This was during the oat bran craze and people were willing to try anything once.
   It surfaced a couple of days ago while I was digging through the recipe box for something else and the next thing I was in the kitchen converting flours and mixing a half batch to see what would happen. These are very savory biscuits from which you can create a breakfast sandwich or serve with soup, stew, or even the holiday dinner.

Sage Biscuits

Sage Biscuits

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon zatter green or 1 teaspoon ground thyme
    (zatter is a Middle Eastern mixture of thyme, toasted sesame, and salt)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup cooking oil (canola)
3 egg whites
   or 1 whole egg + 1 white
   or equivalent egg product
   or reconstituted dry egg white
1 cup milk, dairy, soy, or nut

   Preheat the oven to 350*F and prepare 12 Texas size muffin cups with cooking spray or oil.

   Sift all of the dry ingredients except the sage and thyme together into a medium size bowl. Add the sage and thyme. Stir the mixture with a whisk or spoon to be sure all of the ingredients are thoroughly blended.

   Whisk the egg and oil together. Add the milk and blend well. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until all of the flour is worked in and the liquids are well distributed. Work it with a spoon for a minute or so until it forms cohesive dough. At this point it could be rolled out as topping for a pot pie or patted into biscuits. I prefer to divide the dough between 12 cups of Texas sized muffin pans.

   Bake them at 350*F for about 20 minutes (your oven may bake differently – keep an eye on them) until the bottoms are lightly brown, they will only be very lightly colored on top. Allow them to cool a bit before turning them out on a rack.

Note: Rita and I focus intently on the nutrition profile of everything that we cook. You may notice that white flours seldom make an appearance in our recipes and I am working on getting them out of the pantry all together. Each flour in the recipe has been justified nutritionally. Just two tablespoons of coconut flour provide six grams of fiber. And did you know that potato flour (not potato starch) in three tablespoons has a whopping 35% of the standard daily vitamin recommendation; and 10% of vitamin C? It also adds fluffiness to balance other flours that are denser in nature.


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   The food that most people miss going gluten free is bread; then cake, cookies, muffins, bagels, biscuits – and all other baked goods. Add to that an assortment of allergies and other sensitivities and you can come to feel very deprived of both the sensory pleasures of food and the nutritional elements as well. Rita and I feel very strongly about the pleasure of good food, nutrition, and ease of preparation. She was visiting Texas the first week of June (happy, happy Mom here!) and we prepared these biscuits.
    We made the biscuits with coconut milk so that we could sample their quality for friends who must eat dairy free. The sugar is optional but just a small amount it makes them very versatile. First we had them with butter right out of the oven for taste-testing. That evening a favorite peach shortcake filling and whipped topping turned them into dessert. They were polished off the following morning with sausage and gravy for breakfast. The resident Chef approved all versions and enjoyed having us cook for him.
    Not everyone likes to spend in the kitchen and this recipe combines the essential fat component (for tender biscuits) and liquid all in one ingredient – that is why low-fat or light milk products are not suitable

1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons potato flour
1 teaspoon Xanthan gum
1 – 3 tablespoons sugar *optional
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

12 – 14 fluid ounces full-fat coconut milk, cream, or evaporated milk

1. Preheat oven to 400*F and prepare your baking sheet. We like parchment paper – it simplifies working with sticky dough.

2. In a large bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients. Sift together several times so that they are completely combined. The various dry ingredients have different nutrients and/or baking properties and they all need to be well blended before the liquid is added.

3. Stir in your choice of milk product and be sure that all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Measure 1/4 – 1/3 cup scoops of dough onto your baking sheet and pat them to the desired thickness.
4. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake about 10 minutes depending on your oven and the thickness of the biscuit. They should be very lightly colored on top and just a pale tan on the bottom.

Note: Again we are thankful for the property of gluten free baking in that the dough does not toughen up as you work with it.


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Café Latte, Chai Latte, Latte Latte

   The high heat index has already topped 105*F and summer has just started. Staying hydrated is essential for avoiding heat exhaustion which has always been a problem for me. Some people get thirsty when they need to replenish the liquids in their system but I always seem to bypass that step.
   When we were growing up all we ever drank was ice water. We had a two gallon jug with a push spout and my mother kept it filled with water and ice. We all drank from the tin cup and we waited until whoever had it was finished and then refilled it from the jug. We took that jug and tin cup with us when we traveled.
   Now I have to try to remember to drink fluids on a regular basis. In the winter usually one 20-once refillable bottle of water is enough in addition to an occasional cup of tea or coffee. In this Texas summer weather you need a lot more than that especially if you like to work outside in the yard.
   So this is what I have come up with to minimize calories and sugar and maximize caffeine and flavor. If you cannot handle the caffeine then substitute your favorite decaf versions. I do this once in the morning and once in the afternoon with juice and water between. A few drops of vanilla jazzes up so many things, like fruit, juices, cereal, and/or hot coffee – that I keep an old recycled squeeze dropper bottle filled with vanilla extract to save trying to drip some out of the original bottle every time. This is about 40 – 50 calories; whatever is in the milk. Of course you can go all out and use real cream (oh yummy) but I can’t handle the calories.

Iced Cafe Latte

Iced Cafe Latte

6 ounces strong hot coffee or flavored tea, instant or brewed
1 cup ice chunks (they don’t seem to come in cubes anymore)
6 ounces unsweetened milk (dairy, almond, soy, etc.)
2 packets of stevia sweetener blend
A few drops of vanilla extract – gluten free
A few drops of almond extract or a shake of cinnamon – gluten free

1. Brew your beverage or boil water if you are preparing instant. Make it extra strong. Pour it into a tall (at least 20 ounce) glass. The glass should be about one-third full.
2. Add the sweetener and vanilla. If it is tea add a sprinkle of cinnamon or allspice. If it is coffee add a few drops of almond extract. Dissolve completely.
3. Add ice until the glass is about two-thirds full.
4. Add milk to fill the glass. Stir until the ice is mostly melted and then sip and enjoy. It is amazing what a pick-me-up you get simply by rehydrating when your body needs it.

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Apple Cobbler

    The apples came from a tree in our neighborhood which amazes me given the trouble that we have with the deer eating much of the landscaping. Pat says that the leaves get nibbled but that it is the birds that go after the fruit. She turns a lot of her fruit into fruit-only sauces such as apple-pumpkin-golden raisin or apple-pear-orange juice (fresh oranges, not condensed juice!) and those are wonderful as spreads or dessert. As of last week she is donating her fruit overflow to the local food pantry which I will pick up and deliver on her behalf. Sorting through the fruit to remove the ones with the more severe bird damage left enough pieces of good fruit to make a dessert. So I adapted my husband’s favorite peach cobbler and made apple cobbler that we both could eat.

    This was good! The top was like a light cake with a sugar crust. I’m thinking about reducing the sugar again. I had already cut it from the peach cobbler recipe but it seems that GF flours require less sugar. This definitely makes up for my pique over last Thursday’s bread disaster.

Apple Cobbler

Apple Cobbler

Ingredients for 4 – 6 servings:
2 tablespoons butter, non-hydrogenated margarine, or coconut butter
4 cups fresh tart apples, washed, cored, peeled, and sliced (4-5 large)
1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup sugar (this produced a very SWEET, sugar crusted top, try 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup milk, dairy, almond, or coconut (omit butter if using whole dairy milk or coconut milk)

Set the oven to 350*F. This recipe can be baked in a small round soufflé dish or an 8” or 9” square pan. Put the butter in the bottom of the pan if you are using it. Put the raisins and apples into the pan.

Sift all of the dry ingredients together. The sugar can be white, Sucanat, Lakanto or whatever you prefer. Whisk in the milk. Beat until all of the dry ingredients and liquid make a thin batter. Pour the batter over the fruit and move the pan into the oven.

Bake the cobbler for about 30 minutes; less if you are using a larger pan and the result is a thinner layer of fruit and batter in the pan. It should turn light brown on top and pull away from the sides of the pan – gluten-free flours do not brown so much. Turn off the heat and leave in the oven for another 10 minutes. This allows the batter to cook completely through using residual heat and without scorching the cobbler.

Remove from the oven to a cooling rack or hot pad. Allow to cool somewhat before serving as the fruit is very hot.


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Apple Salad

    Is anyone ready for a nice breakfast salad? When anticipating a whole morning of baking and taste testing it seems like a good idea for forego cereal and baked goods for breakfast. Not one to fuss for hours over a meal very often (birthdays and holidays the exceptions) fruit salad is a favorite. Recipes that are adaptable to any meal make life in the kitchen a bit less complicated and this one that combines apple with celery (my well-known obsession) and toasted nuts (for protein) is a big favorite.

Ingredients (per serving):
1 apple, washed, cored and diced
1 stalk of celery with leaves, washed and diced
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted lightly in the microwave (or your favorite nut)
1/2 tablespoon gluten-free mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 – 2 teaspoons sugar *optional (I used a no-calorie substitute)
A few drops of vanilla
A sprinkle of allspice

1. Dump all of the prepared ingredients into a serving bowl (if only for one) or a mixing bowl to hold a larger batch. Stir well to combine evenly.
2. Cover tightly and store in the fridge until needed. Or just stir your one serving and enjoy as a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.

Note: Thanks to the lemon juice this keeps longer than usual without the apples turning dark. Add more goodies like raisins, cranberries, romaine and/or parsley to create a larger meal with a wider range of nutrients.

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Cinnamon Tea Bread or Muffins

   The past few weeks have been an endless circle of baking and modifying a recipe after Rita challenged me to enter a healthy Christmas cookie recipe contest. My initial reaction was ‘isn’t that an oxymoron’? Nevertheless I started brainstorming and baking. One experiment was enough to convince me not to desecrate chocolate in this manner. So then the burden fell upon the much-loved gingerbread cookie. After quite a few versions and gracious friends nibbling and ranking them the recipe was written and submitted. It met Rita’s greatest hopes in that this delicious cookie is built from mostly nutrient dense gluten free flours and that it is also egg free and dairy free. She has friends that will benefit greatly from this combination. She and I also came up with an appropriate frosting/filling to make the basic recipe more festive. Even though the cookies are good I am so burned out on gingerbread right now. There are leftover cookies in the freezer so that in a few months I can think about a crumb crust for pumpkin cheesecake. And I will write all about it then.
   Quick bread recipes are versatile in that you may bake them as a loaf or divide into muffin cups for individual portions. This cinnamon bread recipe is my most happy accomplishment right now that I have been anxiously waiting to post. It is adapted from Erin McKenna’s Cinnamon Toasties recipe that she demonstrated on the Martha Stewart show and can be viewed on Martha’s website. I use tapioca instead of arrowroot and add ground flax seed as well as increase the xanthan. It can be made diabetic friendly by using a sugar substitute designed for baking – my choice is Lakanto but there are others available that are less expensive and locally available. The result is a firm loaf that slices beautifully. Small peanut butter sandwiches made with thin slices of this bread are a satisfying, healthy treat for breakfast, lunch, or snack!

1 cup garbanzo flour
1/2 cup potato flour
1/4 cup tapioca
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup sugar or sugar substitute for baking
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup store-bought unsweetened applesauce
1 cup hot water + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract +
1/4 teaspoon orange extract

Preheat oven to 325*F. Spray or oil a large loaf pan.

In a large bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients. Sift together several times so that they are completely combined. The various dry ingredients have different nutrients and baking properties and they all need to be well blended before the liquid is added.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together oil, applesauce, and orange extract. Then add the hot water to the mixture. 

Add the oil/applesauce mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and even it out across the pan and into the corners.
Transfer the pan to the oven and bake about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the loaf to remain in the oven for at least another 30 minutes. It will be toasty brown on the outside. Test with a cake tester just to be sure it is completely done. Let it cool completely on a wire rack or in the oven before unmolding. Then wrap it in a tea towel so that it does not dry out. When it is completely cold you may wrap it for storage.

This is an excellent keeper but after a day store it in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it.
Note: This loaf sinks slightly in the middle upon cooling but is definitely cooked all the way through.


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