Archive for Mains

Vegetarian Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes

    Back in December 2010, shortly before Christmas, Rita and I attended a book signing at Book People in Austin. Chef Alain Braux was signing his book Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food  and serving samples of his legendary Flourless Chocolate Cake.

    At that time Alain gave us permission to publish his recipe for Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes. Since then I have cooked up many, many of those crêpes. The batter holds up very well in the refrigerator so I can have crêpes for several mornings before all of the batter is gone. Initially the filling centered on variations of ham, egg, and cheese but as we move into spring my thoughts turn to lighter versions. This concoction of smothered sweet onions, mushrooms, and calabacitas* in coconut milk sauce passed the taste test with our neighbors Barb and Dona.

*Note: Calabacitas is Spanish for ‘little squash’. It looks like a first cousin to zucchini being shaped slightly different and having a lighter, mottled green color. The seeds are finer and disappear almost entirely when cooked.

    The recipe for the crêpe can be found -> HERE. BTW, I cook these crêpes using coconut oil because  1) it has exceptional browning qualities and 2) coconut oil is very healing to the digestive system.

Savory Vegetable Filling
4 ounces mushrooms, chopped 3/8”
1 medium calabacita or zucchini, chopped 3/8”
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
sea salt, pepper, garlic powder
coconut oil for sautéing
1-2 ounces coconut milk (from a can)

    Sauté each of the vegetables separately in coconut oil until lightly browned and season each batch with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside the mushrooms and squash as they finish. When the onions have caramelized add the mushrooms and squash back into the skillet with the onions. Add the coconut milk, cover with a lid, and place over low heat to ‘smother’ until you are ready to fill and serve the crêpes.
    Extra filling may be stored in the refrigerator as well as extra batter.

Sauteed Onion, Mushroom, and Calabacita

Sauteed Onion, Mushroom, and Calabacita

    I had one of these crêpes for dinner. I took a picture of it for the blog, and then I inadvertently deleted it before saving it to the hard drive . . . . Maybe because I was daydreaming about how it would be possible to add ‘smell-a-vision’ to the picture. It was that good!

Gretchen

Update 2011-03-21: Another Savory Crêpe – yummy as well as beautiful!

Crepe for Dinner!

Crepe for Dinner!

Comments (3)

Quinoa – Learning to Love It

    Quinoa (kee-nwa) was an ancient food of the Incas – it was considered sacred and referred to as ‘mother of all grains’. Although no longer widely known or used it is gaining in popularity due to its nutritional qualities and versatility.

    Unlike most other grains and seeds quinoa contains all of the amino acids needed for humans to assimilate as a high-value protein. In addition to being gluten-free and easy to digest it is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.

    The quinoa seeds, as harvested, have a somewhat soapy and slightly bitter coating of saponins that discourage birds from consuming the seeds. Most quinoa available at your local grocers has been pre-soaked and rinsed to remove this coating. I always soak and rinse my quinoa whether it is presented in bulk or packaged and labeled as pre-rinsed. This insures that the seeds are clean, tender, and ready to accept the seasonings in your recipes be they sweet or savory.  Evidently a short-lived experiment in raising quinoa without the saponins coating resulted in birds consuming most of the harvest. And so I soak  . . . .

1) Measure out the quinoa and add enough water so that the mixture is slushy when stirred.

Quinoa Seeds Soaking

Quinoa Seeds Soaking

2) Pour the slush into a mesh strainer and thoroughly rinse. If the soaking water is only slightly hazy when stirring then 15-20 minutes is probably enough. These pictures are of bulk quinoa that needed about an hour of soaking and a change of water to clear.

Draining the Soaked Quinoa

Draining the Soaked Quinoa

3) Dump the soaked quinoa into your pan and cover with water. Turn the heat on medium until the mixture starts to bubble. Then turn the heat down low and put on the lid. Watch it very carefully until it settles down to a steady simmer because like oatmeal or pasta it will make fierce bubbles that climb the pot walls and boil over onto the stove.

Turning Up the Heat

Turning Up the Heat

4) The quinoa is done when it looks something like a sand dune on top with minor dips and valleys that are no longer moving. There should be no liquid visible when you take a spoon and check the bottom of the pot.

This Batch Is Fully Cooked

This Batch Is Fully Cooked

    Cooking quinoa is similar to cooking pasta in that you may prefer it very tender or ‘al dente’. You may pre-cook it for a recipe or add it directly to liquids in the recipe. It has the capacity to absorb an amazing amount of flavor from added ingredients. I pre-cook it over low heat for 15-45 minutes; then turn off the heat and let it cool slowly on the burner. The longer it was soaked the shorter the cooking time. Also, if there is still water and it is cooked as long as you like then just drain of the excess water. If you cook it without salt or seasoning then you can use a portion of it in a sweet recipe and the remainder in a savory dish like this one.

    This basic recipe was served at a potluck lunch meeting and received very favorable comments. It was prepared with a large, sweet onion and two fresh tomatoes. I included some ground turkey breast to make it a main dish meal.

    When I make it for Rita, who is currently avoiding nightshade plants I use washed and chopped zucchini in place of the tomatoes. The resulting texture is very similar. I also add a small carrot cut in bits to provide some color,

Savory Quinoa Casserole
Ingredients:
1 cup of dry quinoa cooked with 2 total cups of liquid = 2-2.5 cups cooked quinoa
(If a can of organic diced tomatoes is used for part of the liquid then omit the fresh, sliced tomatoes.)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground yellow mustard (French’s yellow mustard works – it is gluten-free)
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced (optional, see above, or zucchini))
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Directions:
    Heat the oil on medium or medium high  in a large skillet that has a lid.  Add your mustard and bay leaf to the oil and let it sizzle. Stir while adding your cumin and wait a few seconds before adding the onion.
    Sauté the onion until it starts to soften and turn brown. Add ginger, tomatoes (or zucchini/carrot), and turmeric. Let soften and then add your quinoa, stirring it in gently and sprinkling with salt. Reduce heat and cover, cooking for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir once, sprinkle with cilantro, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.
    If you add meat, tofu, or beans then include it already prepared along with the quinoa. This is a good recipe to extend leftovers from another meal. And any local vegetables in season are excellent options.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

Comments (1)

Pork & Beans in Pumpkin Sauce

    Rita is a full-time student this semester and Mom is in the background supporting her efforts as best I can. It is most important these days to keep up the nutrition and avoid the gluten. Many of the new gluten-free products becoming available are still in the fast-food, empty-calorie, snack-food category that we try to avoid. And so we cook.

    This started out as a hearty chili recipe tailored to eliminate some of the elements that Rita is trying to avoid in addition to the gluten. One of those is all nightshade foods, especially tomatoes. The initial recipe caught my eye because the tomato in the recipe was replaced by pumpkin. We are both fans of all things pumpkin so we were very enthusiastic about the possibilities. The lean white pork also met with our approval although it can be substituted with a vegan option or eliminated entirely.

    I printed out a starter recipe and carefully noted every little change as I went along. The seasoning changes strayed so far from the original recipe that it had me quite anxious about the final result. Toward the end I emailed Rita what I had done so far and asked for her input on the choice of beans to be added. She chose navy beans but any favorite bean can be substituted.

    The result is something that I think is very tasty. Rita admitted to me that she liked it so well that she was having a bowl for breakfast as well as for dinner. So I am hoping that this is useful for all the nightshade-challenged individuals trying to stay healthy!

Pork & Beans in Pumpkin Sauce
Ingredients:
1/2 pound navy beans, soaked overnight, and cooked until tender
1 pound lean white pork, bite-size diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 cup celery, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
14 oz. water
1 15 oz. can pumpkin

1/3-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Process:
    Put the beans on to soak a day ahead of time so they can be cooking while you prepare the sauce. Drain, rinse and add enough water to cover and cook the beans in a 2-quart saucepan. Do not add salt as this can cause the beans to be tough. Cook gently on the lowest heat necessary to keep the water bubbling. When they are tender remove the lid and leave on low heat. Reduce the liquid to retain the nutrients without excess liquid when you add the beans to the remainder of the recipe.

    Use a 4-quart, heavy bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven to prepare the sauce. Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the pork (or substitute) over medium high heat until it is lightly browned. Stir in the onion and celery. Cook and stir for a few minutes until tender and fragrant.

    Stir in the cumin, coriander, garlic powder, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper, salt, savory, and marjoram. Also add the water and pumpkin. Bring the heat up slowly and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes or until the pork is tender.

    When you taste the sauce it will seem very flat. This is where the cider vinegar comes in. It adds the sweetness and tang that you are looking for in a chili. Start with 1/3 cup and taste to see if you want a bit more. The difference is quite amazing. Add the beans. Simmer for another few minutes. Top with the fresh cilantro if you are using it.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

PS – There were no pictures. I was too anxious to remember while in process and it went directly into the freezer until I was able to get it to Rita.

    However, here is a picture of my breakfast this morning. Ricki Heller at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  is writing a new cookbook centered on gluten-free breakfast dishes for those battling Candida infections. This was SO yummy – flavor, texture, and nutrition all wrapped up in one bowl of hot cereal!

Blended Cereal with a Boost

Blended Cereal with a Boost

Comments (3)

Gluten and Dairy-Free French Gourmet Food – Crêpes!

Book Signing Event
    Rita and I have enjoyed our gluten-free French gourmet adventures since meeting Alain Braux. After we had prepared his Brownies a la Farine de Coco for a fund raiser we found out about the book signing event at Book People in Austin. So of course we had to be there. Alain still has a trace of French accent so hearing him speak so knowledgeably about nutrition issues is a double treat.

Gretchen, Alain, & Rita

Gretchen, Alain, & Rita

    Alain’s first book, How to Lower Your Cholesterol With French Gourmet Food, as well as Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food are available at Amazon and both books are downloadable from Kindle.

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free With French Gourmet Food

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free With French Gourmet Food

Available at Georgetown Public Library
    I came home to Georgetown with an autographed copy of Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food plus a copy that Alain generously donated to the Georgetown Public Library.

Peoples RX Drug Store Visit
    Rita and I made arrangements to meet with Alain at the Peoples RX Drug Store location in the Westlake section of Austin where he cooks, consults, and advises people regarding nutrition. The store has an awesome selection of wonderful nutritious food in keeping with the philosophy of food as medicine. The refrigerators contain local sourced fermented foods, name brand staples such as Udi’s, and best of all, Alain prepared treats! I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful is the Flourless Chocolate Cake prepared from perfect organic ingredients. Several of these cakes were baking while we had a tour of Alain’s kitchen domain. I came home with a slice from the deli case to share with Don, who kept repeating, ‘you have the recipe for this’! Yes, it is in the book. I also bought some fresh fermented daikon radish and sauerkraut.

Crêpes!
    While in the midst of preparing for our family Thanksgiving it seems that I was focused entirely on Alain’s exquisite range of baked goods. Now that the holiday is over and going back over the book again to pick out another recipe I find that somehow I skipped completely over the sections on Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Meat and Eggs, Fish and Seafood, Side Dishes, and Desserts!
    A careful reading of the recipes reveal Alain, the Nutritherapist, at work in the kitchen with the respect he has for the healing power of the ingredients and the care with which they are combined. So then the dilemma: which one to prepare first. There are so many enticing recipes calling my name. However, Don and I had just been talking about pancakes as being a good soft food during his dental surgery recovery and Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes filled with finely minced ham, an over-easy egg and grated cheese might be a good start. And we definitely chose the crepes upon finding all required ingredients were in the house (too often the defining criteria).

Preparing a Crêpe

Preparing a Crêpe

    Don, healing very well, has returned to his usual self-prepared breakfast leaving me obsessed with these savory crêpes! After three batches I have finally started to turn out crêpes that are presentable as well as tasty. It is a matter of getting the batter thin enough and cooking them long enough – they may look done but they are much more flexible and fold nicely when they have cooked a bit longer.

Crêpe - Egg and Cheese Filling

Crêpe - Egg and Cheese Filling

Alain has given us permission to share his recipe for Brittany-Style Savory Crêpes.
Ingredients:
8 oz buckwheat flour
2 oz garbanzo bean flour
½ tsp xanthan gum
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper, ground
1 lb (1 pint) soy or almond milk
4 oz eggs (2)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb (1 pint) water

Procedure:
1. Weigh your wet ingredients in a large measuring cup or bowl: soy or almond milk, eggs, oil, and mix well together. Weigh your water separately.
2. Weigh the two flours with salt and pepper in your mixer’s bowl. With the whisk attachment, start mixing at low speed.
3. Add the liquid progressively as the machine runs. Adjust the consistency to fairly liquid with the water. Pour into a large ceramic bowl. Let rest covered for at least 1 hour.
4. When ready, heat some olive oil or coconut oil in your frying pan. Depending on the size of your pan, pour enough batter to cover the whole pan while whirling the batter around the pan. Cook until the sides turn light brown and start to detach from the sides of the pan. Flip over and finish cooking. Reserve on a hot plate kept warm. Cook all the crepes until your batter is used up.
5. To serve, place a crepe back into the pan on medium heat, place the ham slice at the bottom, then the egg, then the cheese or you can do ham and cheese only, or use ratatouille as a filling and so on. Your culinary imagination is the limit.

Notes from Alain:
    All over France, you can order your “galettes” with a multitudes of fillings. “La complete” is usually a slice of baked ham, an egg (sunny side up), grated Swiss cheese over it and folded like an envelope. In my region, we like it filled with ratatouille (see recipe in Side Dishes), folded and sprinkled with grated cheese and gratine under a broiler.
    For Casein-free, replace the cheese with Meat and Egg Dishes (pg 253) Swiss-style cheese alternative (see shopping list) and voila!

Note from Gretchen (Mom):
    Professional kitchen equipment is not a requirment. These came out very well with my usual bowl and whisk.

Note from Gretchen (Mom), Rita, and Don:
Yum!

Comments (3)

Zatter Dip, Spread, or Sauce for a Casserole

    It’s time for another SOS Challenge recipe hosted by Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  and Kim at Affairs of Living.  This recipe is submitted to the SOS Kitchen Challenge for October. Sesame seeds are a fantastic choice for this month’s SOS Challenge ingredient. Sesame seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients and rightfully deserve to be an SOS featured ingredient!
    My sweet-tooth had a nifty recipe planned out before seasonal allergies hit and left me dizzy, headachy, and spending most of my time in bed with my eyes covered. A savory recipe came to mind while I was dozing in a Benadryl induced semi-coma. It would not only taste good but it would be very helpful to my queasy stomach. All the requisite ingredients were in the pantry and so began the experiment – in ve-ry slow stages.
    First, I soaked the dried beans that would be the base of the sauce. Our mothers prepared dried beans by soaking them overnight or longer. Then one day someone started doing a ‘quick-soak’ and beans have not been the same since then. Soak and rinse several times over the course of 24 hours to remove a number of unpleasant compounds and your beans will cook more evenly, be cleaner, save energy and taste better. For a complete explanation -> bean prep.
    Then I thought about the zatter spice mixture. My zatter was not especially fresh but the ingredients are so simple that I decided to make it up on the fly. Zatter is an ancient mixture that in its simplest form is toasted sesame seeds, thyme, and salt. It is often mixed with olive oil, spread on pita bread and served with hot tea. So I pulled out the olive oil, sesame seeds (bought in bulk), thyme, and sea salt.
    I toasted the sesame seeds in olive oil over low heat after the beans were cooked and cooling. The beans went into the old faithful blender followed by the cooled sesame/oil mixture, sea salt, and thyme. The fragrance of the warm sesame seeds was validation enough for choosing to put it together this way. The resulting mixture was thick and rich with flavor.

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

    Part of my ‘delirious dream’ recipe was pasta! I had cooked up some Tinkyada brown rice shells while the bean/zatter mixture was in process. It was resting in an ovenproof dish and ready for the sauce. I had to add some water to thin the bean/zatter paste to sauce which had me thinking down the road to other uses for this tasty bean mixture – like a dip for veggies or as a sandwich spread.

Zatter Casserole
Zatter Casserole

The result is tasty, nourishing, soothing and a very different spin on rice and beans!

Zatter Casserole
2 cups of cooked white beans
1 cup dry Tinkyada brown rice sea shells pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon thyme

    The beans should be well soaked and cooked until tender. Cook the pasta according to package directions until ‘al dente’ or softer if you prefer. Transfer the cooked, drained pasta to a baking dish. Measure the beans into the blender jar.
    Pour the olive oil into a small skillet and add the sesame seeds. Cook over low heat stirring occasionally until the seeds look toasty and you can smell their savory goodness. Remove from the burner and allow it to cool for a bit so as to avoid a splattering hot oil incident. Then add the cooled sesame mixture to the blender jar. Measure the salt and thyme into the jar and process until smooth. You may need to add a bit of liquid if the mixture is too dry to process smoothly.
    Once the sauce is processed it can be stirred directly into the pasta. The pasta may have cooled somewhat by this time. The casserole can be stored in the fridge until needed or used immediately. It can be reheated in a microwave or conventional oven. This recipe makes about two grown-up servings.

Gretchen (Mom)

Comments (3)

Tastier Than That Canned Pasta

   It was a novelty when first introduced and kids loved it – they still do. Something about canned pasta and tomato sauce appeals to kids and many grown-ups still choose it. It is one of the categories that we keep stocked at the local food pantry.
   One day I was thinking about how many children are affected by gluten issues and how easy it is now to prepare gluten-free pasta and that led to ‘how could you make this at home?’ Mentally scanning the pantry I realized all of the makings were right there.
   Thinking in the vegan mode I was going to use lentils (which I have loved ever since Mom’s lentil soup). But it became a meat based version once Don realized that I was preparing pasta. His culinary base is pasta, or as he refers to it, ‘the world’s major vegetable’ so it was prepared to be appealing to his taste as well as mine. Tinkyada pasta is so good that he always wants some of it.
   Isn’t this the gold-standard for gluten-free options? Something that is so good that nobody asks “where’s the gluten?”

Pasta About to Happen

Pasta About to Happen

Easy Gluten-Free Pasta and Sauce
Sauce:
1 medium onion, about 1/2 – 3/4 inch dice
1 Tblsp. olive oil for sautéing
Sprinkle of sea salt
12-oz can of tomato sauce (Hunt’s)
1/2 tsp. each of dry ground oregano and thyme
1 tsp. garlic powder
2-3 Tbsp. gluten-free barbeque sauce (Kansas City Classic™)

Protein Option:
3/4 – 1 lb. ground meat
Or:
1 cup dry lentils, cooked until tender

Pasta:
1/2 lb. dry whole grain gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada)

    Prepare the sauce by first sautéing the onion (and ground meat if preparing that option) in the olive oil. Add the seasonings and sauces. Cattleman’s Kansas City Classic™ sauce is gluten-free  and it is an optional, although wonderful, sweet-smoky addition. It does contain corn syrup, high fructose and regular, so some folks may reject it for that reason. I can easily rationalize its use by thinking of it as a flavor element – it’s not like we are slugging down shots of sauce.
    While the sauce is simmering gently prepare the pasta. One of the things I love about Tinkyada pasta, aside from the excellent taste and texture, is the absolute ease of preparation  . When ready just drain (no rinsing), add the sauce containing your choice of protein, combine and serve. Make a double batch if there are more than two of you because leftovers are just as good if not better than freshly prepared!

Gretchen (Mom)

Leave a Comment

Sausage-Shrimp Pasta

   When Don decided to take a year off from playing golf I feared that he would be restless, bored and unhappy; au contraire. The man has not been this busy in many years. He is involved in several different volunteer activities that center around his interests in public safety, emergency preparedness, and security. He is constantly on the phone with various management, law enforcement, suppliers, and television personnel. Some weeks there are more meetings than there are days. So much for that concern . . . .
   Occasionally my Chief Cook gets so busy that he has little time for meal preparation and so I fill in. I myself am involved for the foreseeable future in editing a book for one of my cousins. So earlier this week Don and I needed dinner and this one was pulled together from the pantry, freezer, and spice rack. Ordinarily it would serve 4-6 hungry people. For us it makes two dinners plus leftovers. I served it immediately after another one of ‘those’ meetings and never got a picture. By the time we had the second meal I totally forgot about it and now it’s all gone!

Ingredients
24 ounces of prepared GF pasta sauce from a jar*
1 – 1.25 lbs. very lean GF sausage**
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 pound of small, cleaned, frozen cooked shrimp (optional)

8 oz. GF pasta***

Directions:
Wipe a 9X12 baking pan or 4-quart casserole dish with olive oil and set aside.

Sauté the sausage in the olive oil over moderate heat in a large saucepan. Add the pasta sauce and the seasoning. Allow it to simmer on low heat for about an hour if you have the time to blend the flavors. Defrost the shrimp (if necessary dump it in a colander and run hot water over it) and drain them – add to the sauce at the very last minute.

Cook the pasta according to package directions except undercook it somewhat because it will also bake in the oven. Drain well. Dump the pasta into the baking dish. Pour the sauce (with the shrimp) over the pasta and stir enough to distribute the sauce through the pasta.

Bake in a 375*F oven for 20-25 minutes just until the sauce is bubbling.

    * Classico Tomato-Basil Pasta Sauce
  ** Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey with Italian Seasoning.
*** Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta

Comments (1)

Older Posts »