Posts Tagged coconut milk

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!

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Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

    March 15 was the day of the 2011 Soup Supper annual fund raiser for The Caring Place. Every year the best restaurants in Georgetown contribute gallons of their specialty soups and TCP volunteers donate cornbread and desserts. Aside from baking we also put on aprons and serve our guests who come to enjoy the meal.

    There is also a silent auction featuring some of the very nicest things from the in-house Fabulous Finds resale store. Clothing from the boutique is modeled to show off the incredible quality that can be found in that department.

    Once again I baked gluten-free cornbread. Last year I made one batch of scratch cornbread and one batch from a mix. The scratch gluten-free version was no doubt the favorite. So this year I baked two double batches of scratch cornbread.

    I made a test batch a few weeks ago just to be sure I would not mess up a lot of expensive ingredients and I am glad that I did. I found that the cornmeal remaining from last year, carefully stored in the freezer, had developed an ‘off’ taste. So every year that I make this I will be sure to buy a fresh bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornmeal.

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

Cornbread; Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Agave Sweetened

    Astigmatism makes cutting straight lines a challenge so I got out my ancient, trusty forms ruler from data processing days. Yes, the little sticker has my name on it. Back-in-the-day Don and I had his-and-her forms rulers; definitely a geeky household here.

Cornbread Measured with Forms Ruler

Cornbread Measured with Forms Ruler

    It is wonderful how many people turn out to support this organization. By the time I gathered my few remaining wits together we were winding down, most of the cornbread was gone, but I did manage to snap a photo of Amanda. She was charming and cheerful throughout the evening and the time passed very quickly.

Amanda Serving Cornbread

Amanda Serving Cornbread

    We were wearing the yellow construction ‘hard’ hats to call attention to the fact that work has already started on the new food pantry facility at The Caring Place. Donation boxes on the tables were another subtle reminder.

    Those of us who work in the pantry are delighted that this construction has begun. We are also anticipating a better warehouse area for managing the storage of food and more efficient stocking of the pantry.

Gretchen

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SO Cultured Coconut Milk

    Rita first became interested in the probiotic qualities of fermented foods during her studies in Virginia. And when Chef Alain Braux, Austin-based nutritherapist, spoke about how fermented foods can promote intestinal healing in people with damage from gluten intolerance I determined it was time to give them a try. For the past two months I have used some of the recommended products.

    We were on my first shopping trip to Natural Grocers when Rita introduced me to this tangy, creamy SO Cultured Coconut Milk product (also known as SO Coconut Milk Kefir). And how strong could it be after appreciating the very strong taste of fermented daikon radishes? So I came home with a bottle.

SO Cultured Coconut Milk Beverage

SO Cultured Coconut Milk Beverage

    Several bottles later, it reminds me of the cultured buttermilk that I used to mix with pineapple juice and no-cal sweetener to create a beverage that tastes like pineapple sherbet. And I plan to try that mixture again especially after discovering that this beverage is so very thick. In the meantime I mix it half & half with water, add a few drops of stevia and enjoy a tangy, refreshing drink that feels really good in the tummy. I am definitely hooked on this.

    Right now it makes a nice bedtime treat but come summertime I am already thinking of tall, frosty, fruity drinks.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Pumpkin Pudding Revisited and @TravelingRD

    Last year I wrote about our family tradition of Pumpkin Pudding as a childhood staple when Rita, Jorge, and Teresa were growing up. My children did not like carrots and would not eat other yellow veggies so I created this pumpkin pudding for them to get their vitamin A. It was made from canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, unflavored gelatin, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. It became quite popular with many family members.

    For years my younger brother, Jon, received his very own batch of Pumpkin Pudding at Thanksgiving. The recipe was published in The vonRosenberg Family of  Texas Cookbook as I mentioned last year in my Pumpkin Pudding post.  

    Teresa, our dietician, has shared the family recipe for Pumpkin Pudding many times. About 15 years ago she prepared it for pre-school children as a way of introducing pumpkin as a new food. Several years ago it was published as part of a gluten-free article that she wrote. Even now it is on the Dairy MAX website recipe section as Jack-o-lantern Pudding. More recently it has appeared in her guest post at Robinsbite, Kids Food Memories–The Proof is in the Pudding

     Teresa, Being ever mindful of her mission to promote good nutrition, especially in children, has substituted the cup of undiluted evaporated milk with low-fat milk; my taste buds prefer the richer mixture made with evaporated milk 😉

    Teresa’a  nutrition related blog is The Dairy Report.  And you can follow her on Twitter @TravelingRD.

    Even more recently I experimented with a new version inspired by Ricki’s various chia based puddings that she creates over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs. This one happened during a clear-out-the-refrigerator frenzy in preparation for Thanksgiving and it was yummy!

Pumpkin Chia Pudding
4 tablespoons whole (or ground) chia seed
1 cup canned (or fresh) pumpkin puree (about 1/2 can)
1 cup coconut milk
Cinnamon to taste
Vanilla
Stevia to taste

Whisk or beat ingredients together until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until set. This is a great for breakfast or as a nourishing snack.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Responding to Accidental Gluten

Disclaimer: This is what happened and how I responded. Nothing that I did would have hurt me yet I don’t know if my first aid measures contributed anything at all to getting safely through. Perhaps I have avoided gluten for so long that my sensitivity level is reduced. But it was scary in a holding-your-breath kind of way and this is how it went down.

    I should have asked but I didn’t. Near the end of the shift there was cake on the break table with the initials of the baker scribbled on a piece of paper. I did not realize that this generous, recipe-sharing cook still made the gluten version for others. I thought that finally I would get to taste her old family favorite realized gluten-free. It was a pound cake and with a cup of coffee it was so wonderful that I not only had another piece I squirreled away a piece for later. Before returning to finish my shift I popped my head in her door to rave; and from the horrified expression on her face I instantly knew.

    I spent the next hour fretting over what I should do upon arriving home.

    Hopefully the fates were with me. Rita and I had learned a great deal in the previous weeks from Chef Alain Braux regarding the use of probiotics to heal a damaged gut. There were a couple of variations of fermented vegetables plus cultured coconut milk in the refrigerator. I had just started taking an extra probiotic dose in the evening as well as my usual morning one. And only the day before had sampled organic raw kambucha. I had weapons and a plan.

Friday 2010-12-17
    I arrived home about 4:30 pm and upon walking in the kitchen consumed a spoonful of organic fermented daikon radish.  Then I popped a mild laxative pill to encourage my often sluggish digestion to pass the gluten through as rapidly as possible.

    I cooked a full pound of frozen chopped spinach for dinner and ate as much of it as I could with a few rice crackers. Later on I finished it – that was a lot of spinach! About 30 minutes later I had a spoonful of the organic fermented sauerkraut. Then while cleaning up in the kitchen I prepared a generous portion of chia seed/pumpkin puree/almond milk pudding for breakfast and set it aside in the fridge. Just before going to bed I had that extra probiotic tablet plus an antihistamine.

    I woke up at about 4:00 am with my guts churning. I decided to sample about two ounces of the cultured coconut milk. It is thick, tummy soothing and tangy, sort of like buttermilk. And so far so good, no red swollen face reaction.

    Up again at 6:00 am and very uncertain as to how this would all play out. I had the chia pudding breakfast with a big mug of green tea and the morning probiotic plus the usual vitamins.

    My stomach was growling at 9:45 am as we departed for our fitness center workout. I decided on another shot of the cultured coconut milk just to keep me over until lunch.

    For lunch I used leftover chicken to make a big bowl of chicken salad with diced celery, romaine lettuce, and olive oil dressing with a spoonful of the fermented sauerkraut mixed in.

    A week later – post Christmas: with all of the above preventative measures plus very cautious eating choices I seem to have come through with no apparent residual effects. Again, nothing about this response was scientific – it was using what was on hand and hoping for the best.

    I am going into the New Year with renewed determination to avoid all gluten as one component for maintaining good health. Just when you think you have all the answers then new discoveries and interesting information appear on the internet and especially the blogosphere.

    Thanks to all of you who blog and those who comment and make suggestions as you participate and share in this incredible learning journey. Best wishes for a healthy and safe year ahead for all of our families, friends, and readers!

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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Cornbread

Inspired by a recipe from The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O’Brien.
Taste tested and certified by people who can eat any kind of cornbread they want.
Certified as ‘very good’ by two people who usually do not like cornbread!

   Our Georgetown, Texas organization known as The Caring Place (TCP) provides a wide variety of services for people. They have a yearly Soup Supper fund raiser. Local restaurants donate hearty soups while TCP volunteers bake cornbread and desserts. I volunteered cornbread; not that I have ever been a big fan of any kind of bread for the obvious glutenful reasons. Gluten-free cornbread was my objective and for this I needed help. I had to enlist taste testers who know how traditional cornbread is supposed to taste.
   My first attempt seemed dry and even gritty. My friend Ann verified this for me. I was working with gluten-free, stone ground cornmeal which is fairly coarse. For the next attempt I decided to go all out and try also to target those who have dairy and egg allergies which meant searching for a vegan recipe. The one I chose specified ‘egg replacer’ and neither that term nor product has ever appealed to me.
   Flax seed and chia seed both form a gelatinous, viscous mass reminiscent of egg white when soaked in liquid. Some recipes are beginning to call for these seeds as the binder to use in place of egg. And both of these seeds contribute substantial nutritional benefits – my idea of what you should use in your food. As best I can tell right now flax seed requires three times as much by measure to bind like chia. Earlier recipes just called for the ground seed mixed with the dry ingredients. But experience is proving that preparing the seed separately in advance gives much better results.
   For the non-dairy ‘milk’ I prefer a mixture of my favorite almond milk mixed half & half with regular canned coconut milk. These combine to enhance the slight sweetness of cornbread and provide extra moisture that contributes greatly to the unique taste and texture.

Chia Goop (binder):
1 teaspoon ground chia seed
3 tablespoons water
Mix together in a medium microwave bowl.
Heat the mixture for about 30-40 seconds (just until it boils).
Set aside for at least an hour; longer is better.
It should be viscous like egg white.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
4 teaspoons GF baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup GF cornmeal

Liquid Ingredients:
1 cup non-dairy milk (1/2 cup almond + 1/2 cup coconut)
1/4 cup agave nectar (low-glycemic; provides extra moisture)
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Oil a non-stick 8” square pan with the same vegetable oil used for the batter and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and blend with a whisk. Add the other wet ingredients to the chia preparation and whisk those together. Dump all of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour immediately into the prepared pan.

Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Test with a cake tester or toothpick to be sure. If you’ve done this before you can use the ‘touch test’. Cool briefly on a rack before cutting.

   I plan to pre-cut and wrap each serving piece separately to prevent cross-contamination with the regular cornbread. A package of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free cornbread mix will also be prepared. Gluten-free is very much in the news lately and this will be interesting to observe just how much demand there is for the gluten-free versions as opposed to traditional cornbread!

Mom

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Coconut Milk Panna Cotta

Those Neglected Bananas
   Those four-week-old over-ripe bananas finally were rescued. I love bananas but Don does not. Consequently it took me awhile to get around to preparing a recipe that could not go into the freezer to be used up gradually.

Those Poor Neglected Bananas

Those Poor Neglected Bananas

   I had been dreaming about trying something like this but now it was time to buckle up and go for it. Unflavored gelatin, a can of coconut milk, Mexican vanilla, stevia, and those four bananas went through the blender. The creamy result was poured in a mold and put in the refrigerator to set up. The liquid tasted a bit astringent – bananas and coconut milk each have a bit of that quality. By the time we returned from the fitness center it had set up and was ready to unmold. The astringent quality had mellowed.
   By the next morning (Panna Cotta for breakfast is like having ice cream for breakfast – decadent but still healthy enough) the astringency had mellowed even more. But then I thought I noticed the bananas in the panna cotta were causing it to darken and change color as if the bananas were continuing to ripen even more!
   Never-the-less it is still retains a good flavor – but I’m thinking along these lines:
1) Plan ahead – if it is made with bananas then you really need at least six or more people on hand to share it with.
2) Or, make it with apples – sautéed with a bit of coconut oil, sweetener, and cinnamon so that there is about 1 1/3 (a bit more or less) cups of apple to pulse in the blender. I’m going to try it this coming weekend when we have another cold front coming through (the kitchen will be a warm, cinnamon-scented refuge). My beloved husband loves apples so I can depend on him help me evaluate an apple version.

Banana Coconut Panna Cotta

Banana Coconut Panna Cotta

Ingredients:
4 very ripe bananas, peeled (or about 1 1/3 cups prepared fruit of your choice)
2 packets gelatin (I have agar but haven’t played with it yet to make it totally vegan)
1/4 cup water
1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Do this first:
Assemble and plug in the blender. Place the prepared fruit into the container. If you plan to use a mold you need one that will hold 3 cups of liquid and give it a very thin coat of Pam or coconut oil to help the panna cotta to unmold. You will still need to dip the mold in hot water for it to release neatly onto your serving plate.

Prepare the gelatin mixture:
Add the water to a small stainless steel saucepan. Sprinkle on the gelatin and add in the vanilla. Allow the gelatin to absorb the liquids and swell up. Then place the pan on the stove and turn the heat on very low. Slowly melt the gelatin. Pick up the pan occasionally and tilt to move the grainy bits around so they will melt more evenly. When all of the mixture is nearly melted use a metal spoon to gently pull any remaining unmelted grains out from the edges into the center of the pan (this IS tedious but essential). The gelatin must be completely melted before it will blend with the remaining ingredients. Unmelted gelatin will not congeal and the panna cotta will not ‘set’.

When the gelatin is entirely melted then quickly pour in the entire can of coconut milk, set down the can and stir the mixture to distribute the gelatin throughout the coconut milk. Scrap any remaining milk and solids from the can into the pan. Turn off the heat but leave it set for a few minutes.

Turn on the blender and pulse gently to puree the fruit. It doesn’t take but a few moments. Too much will oxidize the fruit, turn it brown, and degrade the flavor. Pour the warm mixture from the pan into the blender jar with the fruit. There should be about 3 cups of liquid altogether. Blend the mixture for about 30 seconds before pouring into a bowl or prepared mold. Chill for several hours until it is completely set.

Mom

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