Thai Curry with Cauliflower “Rice” {gluten-free, vegan}

Thai Jungle Curry + Cauliflower

Adam made me this cutting board. 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 then. I’ve even been gently reproached for allowing strawberry hulls to sit too long on its surface.

There is symbolism in this cutting board, too. In the early years of our marriage my husband was a full-time carpenter, a surprisingly lucrative job for a twenty-something in a ski-town. “Building America,” he would say with a wink. He loved the work. The life-style. However, with the arrival our first child he felt it was time to move up the ranks, to trade in the hammer and tool belt for collared shirts and client meetings. Management. He had arrived.

Life is full of irony. As it turns out, he quite liked that old hammer and tool belt. So much so that he’s decided its time to take a leap, to set aside the nine-to-five for a while and test out furniture making full-time. I’ll be sure to share more of his work going forward. It’s beautiful stuff.

Thai Jungle Curry + Cauliflower

This change coincides with another, perhaps even more important. 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. 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 CURRY WITH 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 easily substitute any number of different veggies: asparagus, green beans, a handful of spinach, etc. If cauliflower “rice” sounds too fringe/new-age-hippie I completely understand, sometimes I’m not feeling it either, so I just substitute brown rice. Or serve both for more bulk and a little grain.

Cauliflower “Rice”
2 cups cauliflower, florets only
1 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil  (olive oil works, too)
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt
1/4 cup vegetable broth

Thai 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

Garnish
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

  1. Pulse cauliflower florets in food processor until they resemble the texture of rice (see pic above).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. To serve, spoon veggies and sauce over cauliflower “rice”.  Top with pumpkin seeds, cilantro, fresh sprouts, and a lime wedge.

Serves 2

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Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce {gluten-free}

Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce {gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free}

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 dinner rut, this is one of my favorite back-pocket meals.  They’re spicy and unctuous 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.

Sauce:
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

Meatballs:
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.)

Sauce Preparation:

  1. In a blender, combine the sauce ingredients except oil (diced tomatoes through stock).  Process until smooth.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  2. 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.

Meatball Preparation:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Serves 4-6

Olive Oil and Maple Granola {gluten-free, vegan}

Olive Oil and Maple Granola {gluten-free, vegan}

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 more delightful!  More on our trip later.  I’ve been tarrying over this silly granola post the entire month of March.

Much like banana bread, I’ve never met a granola I didn’t like.  So to use superlatives like “best” would certainly show uncharacteristic partiality on my part.  BUT.  If I had to pick only one…

Olive Oil + Maple Granola {gluten-free, vegan}

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.

 

Maple-Sunbutter Cookies {gluten-free, nut-free, vegan}

Maple-Sunbutter Cookies {gluten-free,vegan}

I had a recent taste-bud epiphany.  Desperate for a snack, and having already raided my cupboards only to find stale tortilla chips, I settled upon the sad slice of cinnamon-raisin bread languishing away in the back of the freezer.

It became toast.  Because toasting improves everything.  I topped it with a few smears of sunflower seed butter.  Then, because this wasn’t interesting enough, I added a generous drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

Strangely, the combination was good.  The flavors pushed all those savory-salty-sweet buttons like a good peanut butter cookie. Thus the idea for this recipe was born.

Winter Daybreak

MAPLE-SUNBUTTER COOKIES
I’ve tried this recipe with all sorts of gluten free flours, oils, and, at times, I have even veered from my original plan by substituting other sweeteners.  However, maple syrup was my muse, and I just kept coming back to her.

The choice of oil seemed to make less of a difference.  I give a couple of options below.  If you opt for coconut oil, be sure it is melted.  Like butter, it solidifies at cooler temps and will seize up into little chunks when it meets a cold substance (like refrigerated maple syrup!).

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup sorghum flour (or brown rice flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients:
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I used grade A, but I bet grade B would be even better)
3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil (melted), olive oil, or organic canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.  Add the dry mix to the wet mix and stir until evenly moistened.  Allow the dough to rest a minute or two.
  • Using a tablespoon, drop the dough onto the cookie sheet and give each mound a gentle press to barely flatten into disks.
  • Bake 9-11 minutes, depending on your cookie personality: soft vs crumbly.

Yield: About 1 dozen

Ethereal Cream Biscuits {gluten-free}

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.

CREAM BISCUITS

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.

Dry Ingredients:
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

Wet Ingredients:
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

(Makes 12 biscuits)