June 29, 2013 § 5 Comments
Adam made me this cutting board for Christmas – there is something so much more intrinsically beautiful in a gift that is made versus bought. He’s a little protective of it, though, re-sanding the surface every now and again to maintain the smooth, glassy finish. I’ve even been gently reproached for allowing strawberry hulls to sit too long on its surface. Once, he caught me washing it with a touch of soap and the kindest sort of lecture ensued. Soap is a cutting board no-no. Unfortunately, old habits die hard.
There is symbolism in this cutting board, as well. I doubt I’ve mentioned it here before, but my husband is a carpenter. And I don’t mean the hobbyist sort. However, he’s decided its time to take a leap, to set aside the architectural millwork and periodic case piece to pursue furniture making full-time. I’ll be sure to share more of his work going forward. It’s beautiful stuff.
This change also coincides with another. In the last year-and-a-half since Cecil was born we have become increasingly aware of the distance that separates us from our kinfolk, the sweet people who love us and our son the most. What was fun and independent in our 20’s – moving to the mountains, living the outdoorsy dream – has begun to feel incomplete in our 30’s, like we’re missing out on some of the good stuff in life. As we’ve talked, and talked, and talked some more about this decision, it has become abundantly clear that the time is now. Everything all at once.
At the end of July, with quiet enthusiasm and measured certainty, we will move back to the Oklahoma hills where Adam was born.
THAI JUNGLE CURRY + CAULIFLOWER “RICE”
Adapted from Whole Living
This is one of my favorite vegetarian/vegan dinners. It just feels good to get full on a bunch of colorful vegetables. You could totally substitute any number of different veggies: asparagus, green beans, a handful of spinach, etc. If cauliflower “rice” sounds too hard core, just substitute brown rice. Sometimes I even go halfsies and serve both for more bulk and a little grain.
2 cups cauliflower, florets only
1 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (olive oil works, too)
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup vegetable broth
//Thai Jungle Curry//
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste (more or less to suit your spice level)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup coconut milk (I prefer full fat, but “lite” would be fine)
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
3 tablespoons shelled and toasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or peanuts
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
fresh sprouts (optional)
fresh lime slices for garnish
Sriracha sauce, to serve
- Pulse cauliflower florets in food processor until they resemble the texture of rice (see pic above).
- Heat coconut oil in a medium sized skillet over medium-low heat, add onion and garlic and saute until softened, approximately 3-5 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower “rice”, a pinch of salt and veggie broth. Partially cover the pan and simmer/steam 5 minutes until broth has evaporated and the cauliflower is tender but still toothsome. Keep warm.
- While the “rice” cooks, make the curry. In a large skillet or wok, heat the remaining coconut oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, curry paste and brown sugar and cook for 1 minute, stirring to incorporate the ingredients. Add the veggie slices: onion, carrot, broccoli and red bell pepper. Stir-fry 2-4 minutes until tender-crisp and just beginning to brown on the edges. Decrease the heat to low and add the coconut milk, stirring to loosen any browned bits. Allow curry to simmer gently and thicken for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
- To serve, spoon veggies and sauce over cauliflower “rice”. Top with pumpkin seeds, cilantro, fresh sprouts, and a lime wedge.
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May 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
I’m afraid I’m asking you to endure an untimely braise of meatballs. My sincerest apologies. Spring and Summer have both been a little coy. Hopefully you’re eating gazpacho on the deck or something. If so, just bookmark this recipe for those first cool nights of September.
MEATBALLS IN CHIPOTLE SAUCE
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Mexican cookbook
We’ve been making these meatballs since we were first married. Naturally, the recipe has evolved quite a bit over that eight year span. When I get in a winter dinner rut, this is my go-to salvation. They’re spicy and unctuous and filling and comforting.
If you’re avoiding gluten, do carefully read the ingredients on the can of chipotle chiles. Some are gluten-free and some are most certainly not.
This recipe is the perfect divide-and-conquer sort. One person can make the sauce while the other person prepares the meatballs. Then just simmer it all together for 20 minutes. Serve over rice.
2 (14 1/2 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 – 2 chipotle chiles in adobo from a can, plus 1 teaspoon of sauce (adjust to your spice preference)
4 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
3/4 – 1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups beef or chicken stock
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (1 pound ground beef & 1/2 pound ground pork is also good)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 -2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
1 tablespoon milk of choice (cow, soy, rice, etc.)
- In a blender, combine the sauce ingredients except oil (diced tomatoes through stock). Process until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Pour in sauce and bring to a lively simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to gently simmer, uncovered, until sauce has thickened almost reduced by half, about 5-10 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers, in a large bowl, add the beef, pork, cumin, garlic, and salt and pepper. Mix gently but thoroughly with your hands or a fork until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Stir in the breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon of milk.
- Gingerly roll meat mixture into golf ball-sized balls, being careful not to overwork the meat mixture. Drop each meatball as it is made into the gently simmering sauce. The sauce should at least come half-way up the meatballs and possibly almost cover them. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, remove one meatball to a plate and cut in half to check for doneness. If the meatballs begin to stick, stir in a tablespoon or two of water. Remove one meatball to a plate and cut in half to check for doneness. Serve directly from pot, ladled over rice.
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April 30, 2013 § 2 Comments
Travel has a way of awakening the senses, making every moment that much more vivid. The details of the day, even the most mundane, become forever-memorialized in the mind’s eye. Adam, the seasoned traveler in our home, pointed this out many years ago, and I must say it has made our periodic gallivanting even more enjoyable, knowing that the pleasure of travel doesn’t end abruptly when we return home. Quite the opposite is true. We get to revisit every memory, as often as we’d like, for the rest of our days.
It has long been a dream of mine to visit Italy. I know there is nothing really singular or unique about that statement. Nonetheless, these kind of desires still feel very personal. We started our ten day trek in Rome and then ventured on to Florence. It was rainy and chilly most days. No bother. The rain left a picturesque wet sheen on the streets and ruins; the cool air only made the atmosphere more romantic.
Rome was rumbling with excitement over the papal conclave, various colors of smoke, and eventually the selection and celebration of Pope Francis all while we were there. It was tremendously thrilling.
For the duration of our trip the daily routine was much the same. Fortified with the hotel’s breakfast and too many cappuccinos (Adam and I) and plenty of whole milk (Cecil), we would pound the streets of both great cities, cramming in as much as possible. Then we would cram our faces with good food, take a nap, repeat.
I did want to share a few of our favorite meals and restaurants. These were the highlights. We had a few more mediocre experiences than I was anticipating, but mostly when we were dining on the fly in touristy areas. The great news – eating gluten-free was pretty easy. Every establishment I entered was able to accommodate me. Italians are very well educated on Celiac Disease. I did bring one of those handy little gluten-free cards from Celiac Travel that you can find here. However, we ended up learning a few very basic Italian phrases for asking about/ordering senza glutine and never had to resort to the card.
Farmacia – Okay, so this isn’t a restaurant, just the term for Pharmacy in Italian. I swear there must be one if not two pharmacies on every block. This was the best place to find gluten-free snacks: pretzels, cookies, snack cakes, gluten-free mixes, etc. Grocery stores were very hit or miss, but the pharmacies were the mother-load. Italy’s (and Europe’s?) commercially made gluten-free snacks were very, very good. I especially loved this brand’s madeleines. Oh my. I should try making my own sometime.
La Soffitta Renovatio – Just around the corner from Vatican City. This place is a little pricy, but they have a very extensive gluten-free menu. I’m almost certain our waiter told me that they can make anything from the main menu gluten-free. I had a wonderful gluten-free pizza with buffalo mozzarella, the best gluten-free beer of my life, and then a heavenly dessert for which I have no name. My guess is that a handful of meringue cookies are piled into a saran-wrapped domed bowl and then covered with a mix of sweetened mascarpone cheese and whipped cream. Like an icebox cake, once set, the domed dessert is lifted from the bowl via the plastic wrap, which is then discarded, and finally the top of the dessert gets generously drizzled with a thick caramel glaze. This is definitely on my to-do list.
Vecchia Roma – By far our best meal in Rome and the best meal of the trip. The trattoria was full to the brim with tons of loud Italians! A very good sign indeed. Thankfully, we were there with a couple of Roman friends because these people were understandably not catering to the tourist crowd but locals. The restaurant’s specialty is the all’Amatriciana flambe with guanicale (pork jowl), which they apparently toss together in huge cheese wheels. It was divine. I so badly wanted to finish my bowl and then lick it clean, but I simply ran out of room. They even had gluten-free penne for me, cooked perfectly al dente. This was the most delicious and memorable pasta I have ever had. I have already set to work recreating this dish at home.
All’Antico Vinaio – I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is the #1 rated restaurant in Florence per Trip Advisor. It’s nothing flashy. As a matter of fact, you could easily walk right past it and never know. It is an inexpensive, good and filling little sandwich shop with a great selection of cured meats and cheeses. They only make sandwiches. Antico doesn’t claim to be gluten-free. I just brought my own bread (bought at the Farmacia) and asked a lot of quick questions in bad Italian. All went well, but this place would definitely be a slippery slope for someone with Celiac.
Sadly, this was our only really good meal in Florence. Don’t get me wrong, we still ate relatively well, but nothing exceptional or unique. I was far less prepared for Florence versus Rome.
All-in-all, a wonderful vacation full of inspirational sights, sounds and tastes. I can’t wait to return.
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March 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
First, I should probably address the obvious: Making Roma Roma has a new layout. I thought a little spring cleaning was in order. Please forgive some remaining untidiness as I get things shipshape.
In other news, we just returned from a lovely trip to Italy. It was somewhat last-minute and a wonderful whirlwind. Cecil came, too, and couldn’t have been a better little boy. I have so much insight to share on traveling with babies/toddlers/small children that I’ll have to postpone for another day. Today I just wanted to share my hands-down-favorite photo of the trip.
Much like banana bread, I’ve never met a granola I didn’t like. So to use superlatives like “best” would certainly denote uncharacteristic partiality on my part. BUT. If I had to pick only one…
In this version, the more traditional ingredients like honey and a neutral-tasting oil or butter are swapped out for the dark, heady flavor of real maple syrup and the grassy notes and pleasant bitterness of olive oil.
Not only is this unexpected pairing of flavors complimentary, but it also creates a markedly unusual texture. Whereas most granolas are pleasantly chewy – giving one the sense you’ve earned your morning nutrients through prolonged chomping – this recipe is almost brittle, crumbling to pieces in your mouth. I tend to hover over the hot heap right out of the oven, picking out the toasty coconut shards and eating them one-by-one.
This cereal doesn’t stop at breakfast, either. We eat it all day long: soaked in milk with the addition of dried cherries (Molly’s idea), a dry handful as we dash out the door, even sprinkled over greek yogurt for dessert. And, to bring things full circle, it makes a great snack for long-haul flights. It’s no wonder a single batch of the stuff never lasts more than 48 hours!
OLIVE OIL & MAPLE GRANOLA
This recipe was created by Nakisia Davis, owner/founder of Early Bird Foods. She was generous enough to share it eons ago with the good folks over at Food52 as part of their “Genius Recipes” column, a weekly post that’s been a real boon to anyone’s ongoing search for delicious food.
3 cups gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1 1/4 cups raw pecans, whole or roughly chopped
3/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl mix all ingredients together, stirring until everything is evenly moistened.
- Spread granola mixture onto lined sheet pan and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until toasty brown, approximately 45 minutes.
- (Try to) cool completely before serving or storing.
Yield: 7 cups.
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November 9, 2012 § 5 Comments
Our Saturday mornings are wonderfully the same around here; leisurely, relaxed. Well, except for getting up at 6:00 in the morning. Babies don’t seem to grasp the concept that weekends are made for sleeping in, but that’s quibbling, and certainly nothing multiple cups of coffee can’t fix. We lounge around in our pajamas, talking and sipping, while Cecil plays happily at our feet.
At some point the caffeine inevitably gets the better of us. Our cue to make breakfast.
Saturday’s breakfast is nothing short of a feast. Brown-butter fried eggs with runny yolks and sriracha. Thick, crispy bacon. Skillet potatoes. Whatever fresh fruit might be lying around. And of course something bread-y, like a dutch baby pancake or banana bread, but more often than not, we whip up these meltingly tender and crumbly-edged cream biscuits.
This is a quick, one-bowl endeavor. Whilst the oven preheats to a scorching 425 F, whisk together the dry ingredients, a mere two minutes of work, and then proceed to pour what feels like an obscene amount of heavy cream over the top. You might blush. I always do. Don’t fret.
Now, take a fork – any old fork will do – and incorporate the cream into the flour until it becomes a moist, crumbly mass. I like to pinch off a small wad of dough and give it a little squeeze in the palm of my hand. If it crumbles, a splash more cream is in order.
At this point you’ll want to haphazardly dust a relatively clean work surface with rice flour. I’ve grown fond of using my silpat for rolling out dough, its nonstick qualities makes things so much easier. Scrape the dough into a heap on your dusted surface, press it into a cohesive mound, give it a few good kneads, and then begin to roll it out, aiming for a 3/4″ thick rectangle.
Now, just cut your biscuits into whatever shape you prefer. Sometimes I use a biscuit cutter for the traditional round affect, but it is more convenient to simply cut the whole slab into squares, no re-rolling, no waste.
Grab a cookie sheet, preferably with a heavy bottom. If you don’t have one, a regular cookie sheet will work fine, just be sure to move your oven rack up to the top third of the oven; these cook quickly at high heat and the biscuit bottoms are prone to burn if not attended to.
The final step might feel like gilding the lily, what with all that cream, but never mind such thoughts, go ahead and brush your biscuits with a little melted butter and get them in the oven quick.
In 15 minutes you’ll have, arguably, some of the best homemade biscuits you’ve ever eaten.
Inspired by Marion Cunningham’s version in The Breakfast Book.
A few words on my choice of gluten-free flours. Trial and error has resulted in the persnickety list of ingredients and ratios below. The whole-grain base of brown rice and sorghum flours for their hearty, well-rounded flavors, a generous amount of cornstarch for extreme lightness, and tapioca flour to encourage browning and that desirable crumbly exterior.
These biscuits freeze remarkably well. Flash freeze the raw biscuits on a cookie sheet and then place in a freezer bag for storage. To heat them up, follow the same instructions below, 15 minutes at 425 F.
Lastly, if you’re not in the mood for biscuits, this recipe easily transforms into scones. Simply increase the sugar to 1/4 cup and add 1/2 – 3/4 cup of your preferred medley of chopped, dried fruit to the dry mix (raisins, apricots, figs, etc.), continue with the recipe as written, but pat the dough into a circle 10″ round, brush with butter, sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of sugar and cut into 12 wedges. Bake as outlined below.
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup sorghum flour (or more brown rice flour)
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tablespoon gluten-free baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 scant teaspoon xanthan gum (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 – 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Pour 1 cup of cream over the dry mix, reserving the remaining 1/2 cup of cream. Using a fork, fold the cream into the dry mix. If you find the mix is still dry and crumbly, add a little more cream, stir, repeat if necessary. The flour mix should be just moistened, but not sodden.
- Scrape the dough out onto a lightly rice-floured work surface. With your hands press the loose dough pieces together and knead a few times, sprinkle lightly with rice flour if things get too sticky. With a floured rolling-pin, roll the dough into a 3/4″ thick rectangle. Cut into 12 squares, place on a baking sheet 1/2″ apart.
- Brush the tops with melted butter.
- Bake 15 minutes until lightly browned
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October 2, 2012 § 4 Comments
I thought I’d share this new gluten-free, vegan quick bread I’ve been making a lot lately. Consider it a twist on the lemon poppy-seed sort. It swings a little more to the cake end of the spectrum than my other quick breads, but in a good way, with a light, springy texture and a tad extra sweetness. The lemon is subtle, just a teaspoon or so of zest. And chia seeds, while an excellent visual substitute for poppy seeds, play a structural role as an egg-replacer, too.
A Super Seed
Here are a few cool facts: chia seeds boast more calcium ounce-for-ounce than a glass of milk (great news for the dairy-free!), are a concentrated source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and provide complete protein all on their own (Vegans? Vegetarians? That’s for you.). Poppy seeds are cool and all, but chia seeds win my vote any day for their super-food bragging rights.
To read more about this super-seed and its fascinating history, check out Sarah’s post at My New Roots.
I’ve mentioned already that chia seeds stand in for the binding power of eggs in this recipe, but it is sparkling water that makes up for eggs’ leavening abilities. I find I am using sparkling water more often in my baking to give these arguably heavy gluten-free flours some lift and lightness.
Also, borrowing a trick from a friend (thank you Susan Griffin!), I like to dust the pan with sugar instead of flour, which creates a wonderfully crunchy sugar crust around the edges, especially at either end. Never have heel slices been so coveted on a loaf of quasi-bread.
LEMON CHIA SEED BREAD
1-2 tablespoons white sugar (for dusting the pan)
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (about half of a lemon)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
3 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
3 tablespoons neutral/mild flavored oil like canola
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (about half of a lemon)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sparkling mineral water, like Perrier (sea level bakers may need closer to 3/4 cup)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9×5 loaf pan and sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of white sugar, turn the pan to coat, and tap to remove any excess sugar.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the chia seeds and hot water. Set aside for 10 minutes to thicken.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, beginning with the brown rice flour through the salt. Add the lemon zest to the mix with your fingers so as to break up any clumps of zest.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the coconut oil, canola oil, and turbinado sugar. Add the chia seed gel and mix to incorporate. Add the almond and vanilla extract, along with the lemon juice, mix until fully incorporated. Alternately, add the dry flour mix and sparkling mineral water until the batter is just blended.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 45-50 minutes until the center is set and a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan and allow to cool fully on a rack.
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