Grilled Peaches

Grilled Peaches side 2We are at the tail end of peach season here in Kansas City. The late varieties are showing themselves by the bushel at the farmer’s markets. Three years ago I took the plunge, decided we probably weren’t going to be moving anytime soon, and purchased three dwarf peaches for our backyard. I have been in peach heaven ever since. Why I waited so long to plant peach trees I will never know.

But, for those of you who own fruit trees, you know that when the harvest is in, it is IN! We have had peaches covering every available surface for the last 4 weeks. I know- my life is so hard. I will tell you though that the fruit flies are getting a little bit annoying.

So- what do do with all those peaches? Eat-em of course! We’ve enjoyed:

  • peach pancakes
  • peach sangria
  • peaches on salad, yogurt, and granola

But I think the new favorite would have to be grilled peaches. They are so easy, and are a great way to use up the less desireables- you know the ones I’m talking about- they may be bruised and beat-up. Perhaps you had to cut a bit out, or maybe they’re slightly green. Grilling brings out all the sugars and sweetness, and the flavor here was enhanced with a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon. Although I think cumin would be great too.

We enjoyed our grilled peaches plain, and over bitter greens. And the leftovers? They went into a boozy adult shake! Summer in the backyard doesn’t get much better than that!

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Chickpea Salad (Garbanzo Bean Salad)

garbanzo bean salad

For many of us, the month of July is filled with celebrations. Canada Day (1st of July), Independence Day (4th of July),  or Bastille Day (July 14th) are just a few that come to mind. With celebrations including afternoon picnics, evening fireworks, and long hours in the hot summer sun, this is a perfect recipe for foodborne illness. So- what to bring to a picnic that won’t spoil or melt, and that will taste good warm or cold?

You could bring a summer pie. Gluten-Free pie is always a great option, especially when they’re packed full of fresh fruit. Check out these combinations here and here.

Gluten Free Maple Glazed Peach Tart

Or you could try out this colorful & delicious Chick-Pea Salad. This recipe is super easy and packed full of antioxidants. And, like most salads, the potential for variations is endless. There’s nothing in here that will spoil, and it tastes great both lightly warmed, or right from the fridge. A winning combination for an outdoor party. This recipe size is perfect for a complete meal for 4 people with leftovers, or to bring to a party. You can probably get 16-20 party sized servings

Chickpea Salad

Chickpea Salad

4 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained

1 large sweet potato, diced into cubes

1 large red onion, diced

1 pint of cherry tomatoes- the bigger ones sliced in 1/2

1 bag, or several bunches of spinach, de-stemmed if necessary, and sliced in large pieces

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil + extra for cooking

3 tbs red wine vinegar

1 tbs dried rosemary

1 tbs herbes de provence

salt to taste

gluten free chickpea saladDirections

Dice the sweet potato and onion. Place on a large cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and cook in a 350 degree oven until softened- about 30 minutes.

Drain chickpeas and place in a large bowl. For those of you who prefer to cook dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) soak 2 cups dried beans in water for 2 hours. Then cook over medium heat in salted water until softened- about an hour.

Add tomatoes. When the sweet potato onion combo has finished cooking, add to the bowl.

Place a large pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot add about 1tbs extra virgin olive oil and give the pan a little shake. Add the spinach and lightly saute until the greens are barely wilted- about 2 minutes. Add to the bowl.

Using a large spoon, gently toss all the ingredients together.

Drizzle the 2 tbs olive oil, and the red wine vinegar over the salad and gently mix again.

Sprinkle the rosemary and herbes de provence, and any salt you’d like to add over the salad and mix one last time.

Enjoy!

 

 

Mushroom Leek Frittata & Roasted Asparagus- Under 30 Mins.

Mushroom Leek & Goat Cheese FrittataSpring finally arrived with the Easter Bunny this past week. And we welcomed it in style! To see a round-up of some of the fabulous food we cooked up in The Adventuresome Kitchen for Easter, go check out (and be sure to ‘like’) our facebook page.

While this post does include an egg recipe, it won’t be a ‘what to do with your leftovers’ kind of recipe. For that- I recommend checking out my Pesto Deviled Eggs. I did toy with the possibility of a new deviled egg recipe, but that will have to wait for another day. We ate all our hard-boiled eggs!

So in the spirit of fast meals- which seems to be how we’re rolling in the kitchen these days (With the exception of super-fancy-snobby-food-extravaganzas like Easter), it was breakfast for dinner again the other night. I tend to gravitate towards frittatas over omelets because I confess, I have trouble flipping the omelets. Julia Child might say that I’m not committed enough to my flipping- and that very well may be the case. There has to be no fear when it comes to flipping the omelet. Incidentally, if you want to read the best-ever description of flipping an omelet, go out and purchase Deariea biography of Julia Child by Bob Spitz. His description of her first television appearance will have you crying with laughter.

At any rate, I like frittatas because they’re fast and they make a great canvas for whatever leftover food pieces you need to rescue from certain death in the back of the fridge.  Oh yeah- and they’re naturally gluten-free, so they’re a no-brainer. Quiche, omelets, risottos and polentas can all work in the same manner, but I say frittatas are the fastest and easiest- hence their continual appearance in my kitchen.

This mushroom leek frittata also includes goat cheese. If there had been any leftover bacon from Easter (there wasn’t), I would have added that as well. The roasted asparagus literally took 10 minutes and cooked while the frittata was finishing in the oven. So delicious there were no leftovers!

The Adventuresome Kitchen is working on some long-term and very exciting projects, including collecting stories of people’s gluten-free experiences. If you are interested in sharing your story, or know someone who would be willing to share their story, please contact me at: adventuresomekitchen (at) gmail (dot) com

Mushroom Leek Frittata w/ Goat Cheese

Ingredients

See how the egg is starting to pull away from the pan? This mean's it's ready to go into the oven!
See how the egg is starting to pull away from the pan? This mean’s it’s ready to go into the oven!

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (about 2)

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1/2 cup goat cheese

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil- about 2 Tbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Heat a large pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, drizzle a generous swirl of olive oil in the pan (this is not an exact science). When the oil shimmers add the leeks and mushrooms. Cook about 5 minutes, until they are softened. Allow any juices to cook off so the pan is fairly dry.

While the leeks and mushrooms are cooking, beat the eggs and whisk in the goat cheese. Most of the goat cheese will ‘melt’ into the eggs, but there will be some pieces that don’t. This is fine.

When the leeks and mushrooms are ready, add in the eggs and give the pan a quick swirl to evenly distribute the egg mixture. Don’t stir the eggs- unless you want egg scramble (which would be okay). Sprinkle salt and pepper over the mixture and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.

When the eggs start to pull away from the pan, and begin to get a little firm in the middle, place the pan in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.

The eggs are done when they are firm in the middle- 10-12 minutes.

Oven Roasted Asparagus

Oven Roasted AsparagusThis is one of my favorite ways to prepare asparagus. For a small batch, use the toaster oven,  for a larger batch, use the regular oven.

Rinse the asparagus and snap the bottom ends off. If you’ve never snapped asparagus, it’s pretty easy. Grab the woody end with one hand, and hold the stalk with the other. Bend until it snaps. This gets rid of the tough woody part.

Place asparagus side by side on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your desired taste. Cook at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Et Voilá! Finger licking good.

Sweet Potato Polenta with Spring Greens

sweet potato polenta with spring greensSpring cannot arrive fast enough. It is the end of March and I am staring out the window at snow covered ground and a grey sky threatening to dump more of the white stuff. My cooking has turned to beta-carotene filled items reminiscent of hot days and summer sun. This sweet potato polenta not only fits the bill with its combination of spring and summer flavors, but it’s fast too. And these days, it’s all about making dinner in a hurry. I’m sure you can relate.

I’ve written about polenta before. It’s been awhile since we’ve enjoyed it, and it’s back in our regular rotation for awhile. It’s fast, delicious, and a great way to show off sauteed greens and other flavors. It also makes great leftovers. Wherever you are- may spring’s sunshine find its way into your kitchen!

Sweet Potato Polenta w/ Spring Greens

Polenta Ingredientssundried tomatoes, mushrooms and onions

1 cup cornflour, cornmeal or polenta (grits)

2 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)

1 cup milk

2 tbs butter

1 cup shredded cheese

1-2 cups mashed sweetpotatoes

Spring Green Saute

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms

1 1/2 cups sundried tomatoes (I use a 2oz pkg)

1 bag of mixed spring greens (if buying loose, use about 5 cups)

Directions

sweet potato polenta with spring greensBring the chicken stock and milk to a boil. When it’s boiling, whisk in the corn in a steady stream. Cornflour yields a finer polenta. Use what you have on hand or what you prefer. Whisk constantly until the polenta begins to thicken. Remove from the heat. Stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, the butter and the cheese. Cover and let sit while you make the greens.

Heat a large saute pan over medium. When the pan is hot add the olive oil, the mushrooms, onions and sundried tomatoes. When the onions are translucent an the mushrooms have softened- about 6 minutes- turn off the heat and add the greens. The residual heat will easily wilt the greens without overcooking them.

Et Voila! Dinner in less than 30 minutes!

To serve: Place sweet potato polenta in a shallow bowl, top with greens. Sprinkle with parmesan and for added sunshine- a little lemon zest. Top with salt and pepper to taste. We enjoy truffle salt!

Sauteed Kale with Quinoa- 20 Minute Easy Meal

IMG_0771

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This also happens to be the 3rd Anniversary of The Adventuresome Kitchen- so my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have shared the journey and spread the word about this community. Without your support and encouragement, none of this would have been possible. I am so excited about what The Adventuresome Kitchen will be rolling out in the next couple of months- so stay tuned!!

GF Irish Soda Bread FinalOne of the inspirations for starting this blog three years ago was my ongoing effort to come up with a good Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread. I don’t make it much anymore- especially since our diet has moved away from a lot of unnecessary carbs. But for St. Patty’s or another special occasion, where you want a simple quickbread with great flavor and texture,try it out.

Pan Seared Chipotle Rubbed Corned BeefI’m very proud of it. And, upon further review- since it’s yet again cold and rainy- I think perhaps some pan seared chipotle corned beef is in order too!

However- if simple and fast is all you have time for- and that about sums up my life these days. Enjoy a nutritious, healthy and delicious meal of Sauteed Kale over quinoa. We’ve been eating this a lot lately. It’s one of those dishes that leaves you filled up both in stomach and heart. And it’s super high in protein and antioxidants. How can you go wrong?

Sauteed Kale with Quinoa

IngredientsSauteed Kale & Quinoa

2 cups uncooked quinoa (we used tri-color, but any will do)

4 cups water

2 bouillon cubes (optional)

16oz de-stemmed kale leaves, chopped into small strips

2 tbs olive oil or butter

salt or other herbs of your choice

lemon juice and/or parmesan for garnish

Directions

Rinse quinoa and place in a medium pan with 4 cups water. Add bouillon or salt if you desire. Bring to a boil and turn heat to low. Cook until water has absorbed and seeds have popped- about 20-25 minutes

When the quinoa is ready, heat a large skillet. Add olive oil or butter. When the olive oil shimmers, add the kale. Saute very briefly- no more than 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. The residual heat will wilt the leaves the rest of the way. Add salt, truffle salt, herbes de provence, or other seasonings of your choice.

To serve- place quinoa in a bowl, top with Kale. Garnish with your preferred flavorings: A squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of parmesan, or a drizzle of garlic tahini or even pesto. YUM!

See? I told you this was easy!!

Gluten Free Fondue

Kansas City Blizzard 2013Before I get going, I must thank my friend Steve, author at Oui Chef, for inspiring me to hop on the fondue bandwagon last night. Kansas City has been buried under snow again. This is highly unusual- especially considering that the last two winters left us with less than 11 inches of snow combined! Steve is one of my favorite bloggers. He trained at Le Cordon Bleu, and is passionate about subjects such as local food and food sustainability. And most importantly, teaching his children to cook- as am I. While not everything on his blog is gluten-free, it’s a place I go for inspiration and encouragement to explore new flavors and techniques. If you don’t subscribe to his blog-you should!

Yesterday, Steve posted a great fondue recipe by Rachel Ray (it also happens to be gluten-free!). As I was sitting at home wondering what to cook as the snow started to fly- fondue seemed perfect. It brings up images of snowy chalets, cosy fires, and decadent eating.

gluten free fondueNow, I am probably the only fondue fan in the world who doesn’t actually own a fondue pot. They’re unitaskers, and I am firmly opposed to unitaskers. Until I can justify a rarely used piece of equipment taking up precious space in my cabinets, I won’t be buying a fondue pot. But don’t despair. If you find yourself in the same boat, a good stainless steel pot or my favorite- enameled cast iron, will do the trick nicely. I pulled out my small Le Creuset and went to town. If you opt to use a regular cooking pot, your fondue will thicken as it cools and get a bit stringy. If that bothers you- simply place the pot back on the stove for a few minutes to melt everything again.

My gluten free fondue recipe was adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook. Many cheesy fondue recipes call for the addition of a few tablespoons of flour. You can easily substitute sorghum flour, rice flour, or even cornstarch in these instances, and not compromise the flavor or texture of the end result.

herbes de provenceI also opted out of the traditional nutmeg seasoning in favor of the sunnier and warmer flavors invoked by herbes de provence. I happened to be lucky enough to receive some freshly dried herbes from my dad, and they’ve gone into everything I’ve made over the last few days. They are a great way to jazz up everything from broccoli to eggs to soups and salads.

Lastly, there are no hard and fast rules about what to serve with fondue. We enjoyed broccoli, mushrooms, gluten-free toasted garlic bread (directions will appear below), pears & bresaola. Basically- anything you enjoy with cheese is a candidate to dip in the fondue pot. As always- feel free to modify this recipe as your heart desires. Fondue is a fun finger food to enjoy with the people you love!

Gluten Free Fondue (a main dish for 4 or an appetizer for 8-10: adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook)

gluten free fondue with gluten free garlic toastIngredients

1 1/4 lbs shredded gruyere, emmental, or comte cheese (or a combo)

5 tbs sorghum flour (other gf flours would work too)

1 garlic clove, + 2 tbs minced garlic

1 1/2 cups dry white wine (we used a burgundy)

3 tbs herbes de provence

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk

Directions

Toss the shredded cheese with the flour. Make sure that the flour is evenly distributed and coats and many of the cheese shreds as possible.

Rub the whole clove over the inside of the pot. Place the minced garlic and the wine in the pan. Bring to a simmer. Add the cheese one handful of a time and allow to absorb completely before adding the next handful. It is really important to not let the mixture actively boil. Your pot needs to be hot enough to melt the cheese, but not so hot that it boils. For my stove, this was just under the half-way mark on the stove.

When the cheese has been fully incorporated add the milk, herbes, salt & pepper, and continue to stir. The fondue is ready when it’s a thick, liquidy (ie non-stringy) mass. Bring to the table and enjoy with your dipping ingredients.

Dipping Ingredients

raw vegetables or fruit, gluten-free crackers, or gluten-free garlic bread. Gently roasted vegetables (enough that they’re partially cooked and softened, but not so much that they’re mushy- you want them to hold up in the sauce)

roasted broccoli & mushroomspears & pomegranates

To Make Gluten Free Garlic Toast

gluten free garlic toastTake 4 (or whatever number you like) pieces of gluten-free bread. Place them on a toaster oven tray or a cookie sheet if using the oven. Brush olive oil over the tops- make sure you get into the little nooks and crannies. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until you start smelling the bread toasting.

Remove from the oven. Take a clove of garlic, cut off the end, and rub it vigorously over the toasted top. One clove is usually good for about 4 slices. Of course, if you like bread that is more garlicky- you can be more generous, or scrape the garlic on both sides of the bread. Discard the skins and enjoy!

The History of Crepe Day

Gluten Free Galette on the Griddle
Gluten Free Galette on the Griddle

Happy Ground Hog’s Day! Happy Crepe Day! (In our house that’s gluten free crepe day!)We’re halfway through winter!

The History of Crepe Day

Crepe Day is February 2nd, and in Europe is also called St. Brigid’s Day, St. Bride’s Day, or Candlemas. In France, Crepe Day is called Chandeleur. Originally a Pagan fertility and planting festival called Imbolc paying tribute to the Mother Goddess Brigid,  it was co-opted by the Catholic church in the Middle Ages and turned into a celebration marking Christ’s presentation at the temple.

This is where the Candles come in- Priests would bless candles on this day and hold candlelight processions honoring the idea that Christ was the light of the world. However, the Goddess Brigid was so popular throughout the British Isles that the priests eventually made Brigid a ‘Saint’ and gave her the feast day of February 1. The origins of Brigid predate even the Celtic Druids, and as February 2nd marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, this date has been important to humanity for millenia. It has always been associated with light coming out of darkness, new growth and birth. In fact, many farmers today begin planting spring crops like peas, kale, radishes and broccoli on February 2nd.. (at least if you live in a place where the ground is likely to be unfrozen!)

Gluten Free CrepeIn France- Chandeleur has become “Crepe Day”. People across the country take the opportunity to stop and make crepes together. It’s said that on February 2nd,  if you can flip a crepe with only your right hand you will have good fortune for the rest of the year! I like that, and intend to make some crepes today.

I realized that I have several gluten free crepe recipes already posted- so below you’ll find links to previous Adventuresome Kitchen Gluten Free Crepe posts. Wherever you find yourself, and whatever your spiritual belief- know that for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere- we’re halfway to warmer, sunnier days! Cheers!

Basic Crepe Recipe
Basic Crepe Recipe
Gluten Free Chicken & Spinach Crepes
Gluten Free Chicken & Spinach Crepes

 

Gluten Free White Asparagus Crepes
Gluten Free White Asparagus Crepes

 

Gluten Free Galette de Sarrasin (Gluten Free Savory Crepes)
Gluten Free Galette de Sarrasin (Gluten Free Savory Crepes)

Gluten Free Pierogies

Gluten Free PierogiesNine and a half years ago, Mr. Kitchen Diva and I landed here in the midwest on a new adventure with nothing but our two kitties, a Ryder Truck full of mostly college-type furniture, and the apple of our eye- our eldest Kitchen Diva in Training. We had moved here for a job I took that among other things didn’t allow us to leave town during the holidays. That first year, far from friends and family, we were pretty lonely. But into our lives walked a Christmas Angel of sorts.

A fellow singer and adventurous chef took us under her wing and said “Let us be your family here!” She invited us for Christmas Dinner and didn’t bat an eyelash when I somewhat timidly mentioned my issue with gluten. In fact, she promptly set about making sure there was plenty on the menu I could enjoy. The twist in this story comes because everything on the menu was Polish. Kansas City has a very strong Polish heritage and community, and my dear friend and her husband both grew up in the heart of this community.

That Christmas, we were introduced to the delicious aromas and tastes of galumpkies, Traditional Polish Borschtborscht, and kapusto- all naturally gluten-free. We also tasted pierogies for the first time- yes, even me. My friend called a few days before Christmas saying she’d found a GF recipe for pierogies and would I like to come see how they’re made? Quite frankly, I was blown away.

Even after years of being GF, there are times when it still feels very awkward to disclose my dietary needs. There’s so much emotion tied up in food. Double that around the holidays. To this day, that simple act of hospitality has informed how I set my own table.

Treasured Polish Recipes for AmericansA few days before Christmas, the mini Kitchen Diva in Training (who was just more than two) and I arrived; aprons, rolling pins, and GF flours in hand to consult the grandmother’s Polish cookbook, and compare with a GF dough recipe we thought might work. A beautiful friendship was born in that warm kitchen 9 years ago. One that has sustained us, and led to many ensuing meals of Polish deliciousness. The pierogies? Not bad. Honestly, I didn’t care. I was so amazed someone cared enough to cook something special for me. We decided there was room for improvement, and over the years we’ve attempted to create Gluten-Free Pierogies off and on. A few years ago, Conte’s Pasta came out with their own version of Gluten-Free Pierogies. We started using them namely for the sake of time. Pierogies of any kind are an undertaking. We agreed there was still room for improvement.

Gluten Free Pierogi filled with potato-onion- cream cheese-green chile-bacon-chive filling.
Gluten Free Pierogi filled with potato-onion- cream cheese-green chile-bacon-chive filling.

Fast forward to this year, when for some crazy reason it seemed like I had gobs and gobs of time before Christmas. So I volunteered to tackle and improve our Gluten-Free Pierogies and bring them for Christmas Dinner. The traditional filling for Pierogies is a mixture of potatoes, onions and melted (usually cream) cheese. I got all ambitious and decided to improve upon this by adding green chiles, chives, and bacon. I even peeled the potatoes! Sadly, the filling was so delicious we gobbled it up while we were making and rolling the dough for the other fillings, and only made about 4!

We also made two additional fillings. The first blended crimini and black-trumpet mushrooms, onions, sour cream, rosemary & nutmeg. The second- butternut squash, onion, cream cheese, and sage.

According to the Polish Kitchen Diva, the dough we finally settled on ‘tastes like it should’. I don’t think there could be higher praise. Be warned- this dough is very delicate, and at times can fall apart. I found that a little water helped fix the cracks, and that in spite of the delicacy in rolling out the dough, it held up nicely through the boiling and frying steps.

On this Twelfth Night of Christmas, as we celebrate the end of a season and remember the gifts of the Magi- I invite you to remember those unbidden, seemingly small gifts you may have received from friend or stranger. The best gifts are usually not material. Rather they are acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and hospitality. May we all have the grace to receive such gifts, and the boldness to pay them forward.

Gluten Free Pierogies-makes 2-3 doz depending on the size

IngredientsGluten Free Pierogies

1 cup sorghum flour

1 cup millet flour

1 cup corn starch

1 cup potato starch

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 stick salted butter (if using unsalted, increase salt to 1tsp)

1 cup sour cream (full-fat)

ingredients for the filling are up to you

Directions

Gluten Free Pierogi doughBefore starting, have your filling ready to go, and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Allow all the dough ingredients up to room temperature- it’s important to let the butter get very soft.

Place dry ingredients in a stand mixer, or if working with a 1/2 batch, in a food processor. I actually prefer to make my dough in the food processor, so I work in 1/2 batches.

Give the dry ingredients a whirl or a few pulses so that they are sufficiently mixed together.

Mix the eggs and sour cream, and softened butter together. It should have a smooth consistency.  Add this to the dough. Mix or begin to pulse.  As soon as the dough has come together, pull it from the mixer/food processor and place on a large piece of floured (with cornstarch or tapioca starch) parchment. Break off a chunk of dough, and sprinkle with additional cornstarch (or tapioca starch). Knead gently, reflour, and roll to 1/8th inch thick.

Using a biscuit cutter, make circles in the dough and remove the scraps. Gluten Free PierogiesPlace a generous tablespoon of the filling in each center and gently fold the dough in half. Using wet fingers, press the dough together so that the edges are slightly scalloped. You can also use a fork to get a different look.

Note: This dough is very fragile and more prone to breakage. Overfilling will definitely lead to breakage. However, it’s easy to squish the dough back together again- they just won’t look as pretty.

Place 3-4 pierogies in the boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes. They will begin to float to the top as they near readiness. Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove them from the water and gently shake them to remove excess water.

Gluten Free Pierogies boiling

 

If you are planning to fry and eat right away: Preheat a medium saute pan while the pierogies are boiling. Place a dab of butter in the pan (I am generous with my dabs, but the amount is up to you. You could even use Olive Oil).  Once the butter has foamed, place the boiled/shaken pierogies in the pan and fry on each side until they start to turn a nice golden brown. How long you cook is really up to you. I like the color of a longer-cooked pierogi, some prefer them gently warmed through and not golden brown.

If you are saving for later use: you may place the boiled pierogies in a storage container (I used a stainless steel mixing bowl) and place a little butter on them. The heat from the pierogies will melt the butter, and help prevent sticking when you’re ready to fry them. Seal. I have read that pierogies will last over a week in the fridge, and even longer if you choose to freeze them. Mine have never stuck around that long!

Ideas for fillings Mushroom filling for Gluten Free Pierogies

Potatoes, cheese, onion (traditional)

Sweet potato or butternut squash and onion

broccoli and cheese

sausage and onion, or sausage and kraut

mushroom and shallot

blueberries, cream cheese and lemon zest (dessert, obviously, sprinkle these with powdered sugar before serving)

apples, butter, cinnamon

You get the idea- PLAY!

Vegan Tacos w/ Quinoa & Black Beans

This post is a little bit special to me, as the recipe was developed with great enthusiasm by the Kitchen Divas in Training. I love more than anything that my girls are expanding their culinary horizons and working to create delicious, nutritious meals. I also love watching how a recipe idea takes shape and then morphs as they move through the process. This originally started out as a quinoa-salad, but as the flavors combined the girls thought it would be even better in a taco- and I have to say I wholeheartedly agree! The recipe is pretty simple, and could be used as a salad if you don’t have taco shells available. Enjoy, and don’t forget to play with your food!
Vegan Tacos- serves 4 with leftovers

Ingredients

1 cup red quinoa (white is also okay)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 large tomato

1/2 large onion

1 can black beans

1 small cucumber

1 small red pepper

1/2 cup cilantro

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

2 tbs lime

salt and pepper to taste

8-10 cabbage leaves

Avocado and hot sauce for garnish

Taco Shells

Directions

Rinse quinoa, and place in medium pan with stock. Bring to a boil and turn to low. Cook about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, chop the tomato, onion, cucumber, pepper, and parsley and set aside. Thinly chop the cabbage leaves, squirt with a 1/4 lime and set aside for garnish.

When the quinoa has cooked, pour into a large bowl. Add all the vegetables except the cabbage and combine.

Fill taco shells, and garnish with cabbage, avocado, and of course- New Mexico Red Chile Sauce! Squirt with a lime and eat your heart out!

Watermelon Gazpacho with Strawberry Salsa

Happy 4th of July to my U.S. readers! Normally the 4th of July is cause for lots of grilling at our annual gathering. However, it’s still Hotter than Blazes here, with no end in sight to the oppressive heat or the drought. And this year, we’ll be huddling near the air-conditioning vents trying to stay cool. It’s still too hot to do much more than eat watermelon and cold soups. The watermelons are especially good right now, so I decided to merge the two in the form of a cold soup. The cool, sweet watermelon combined with the spicy-sweet tang of chiles, strawberries and cilantro offer a satisfying respite from the heat. Enjoy!!

 

Watermelon Gazpacho with Strawberry Salsa

Ingredients 

Soup: Scoop the contents of 1/2 a medium sized watermelon into a bowl or pitcher. Blend with an immersion blender.  Or, scoop the contents into a blender and mix in batches. I do NOT recommend using a food processor. The watermelon liquifies pretty quickly and oozes out everywhere.

Salsa

1 cucumber (abt 1 cup diced)

1/2 large green pepper (about 3/4 cups diced)

1/2 red onion (about 1 cup finely diced)

1 Serrano pepper or jalapeno- minced

1 lb of strawberries (rough dice)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro (finely diced)you could also use mint 

Balsamic Vinegar

Croutons

Cut 4 pieces of GF bread into large cubes. Toss in olive oil until the pieces are evenly coated. Place on a cookie sheet (When it’s this hot, I use my toaster oven) and bake at 350 until the pieces are deep golden brown. Stir occasionally. When the bread is done, toss with salt and pepper.

Plating:

Dice all salsa ingredients and gently mix. Pour watermelon into a bowl and mound a handful of croutons in the center. Spoon a generous amount of salsa over the croutons and drizzle soup with balsamic vinegar if you desire.

Cafe Gratitude

There’s a new restaurant in town that has captured my heart and my imagination. Cafe Gratitude is a new restaurant in Kansas City that is vegan, has a mission to use locally sourced ingredients, and is almost entirely Gluten-Free! I went there for lunch a few weeks ago when my Mother-in-law was out for a visit and was blown away. One of the most impressive parts of my experience there was reading the menu- every menu item is a personal affirmation! How lovely to sit and read a menu of “I Am Fabulous”, “I Am Trusting”, “I Am Extraordinary”- how can you not love food that makes you feel so loved and beautiful?!?

And the food was good, too. So good, in fact that I forgot to take pictures! We don’t eat out very much anymore- in part, because as the kids have grown and we’ve tried to preserve our budget, we’ve discovered we’re a lot more picky about where we spend our dollars. It’s disappointing to spend 40 or 60 dollars on a meal that’s not as good as what you can create at home- for less than 1/2 of the cost. However, Cafe Gratitude will be a place we return to when we can- the food and flavor combinations were delightful, reasonably priced, and the atmosphere was uplifting. Another touch I loved was that the waitstaff posed a question of the day- one we could answer or not, but it was posed to get us thinking. Our question: Who are you in love with today? Lastly- I was impressed that there was a selection on the menu that was priced as donation only, with the understanding that you may pay what you choose, and that no one will be turned away. In this day of increasing food insecurity for the poorest among us, it’s nice to know that anyone can come to Cafe Gratitude and be fed a wholesome, nourishing meal. I’ll be supporting them again for this reason alone. Check out their inspirational menu here.

The photos included in today’s post are a riff on the meal I enjoyed at Cafe Gratitude- I Am Whole. I didn’t have sea vegetables to add to mine, so I used zucchini noodles (made by using my carrot peeler) gently warmed with a little olive oil and ginger. The kimchi was homemade (napa cabbage, radishes, onions and poblano peppers mashed into a quart jar, salted and left to ferment for a week on the counter- YUM!), as was the tahini (process sesame seeds in your food processor until smooth, slowly add sesame oil until you create a paste. For this post I added the juice of one lemon and a heaping spoonful of herbed garlic powder.) Serve over quinoa with shredded kale, carrots, chopped tomato, avocado, and a sprinkling of almonds. It tastes best when you mash it all together. We’ve also tried the leftovers with a fried egg on top!

Best Vegan Chili *Ever*

“Best Vegan Chili Ever” might seem like an oxymoron. I confess I’ve never been a huge fan of vegan fare- I tend to associate it with tasteless fake products created from soy. So many thanks to one of the Kitchen Divas’ surrogate Aunties who brought this recipe for Christmas this past year. I kid you not- it is FREAKING DELICIOUS!

Did I mention that it’s also super-easy? Dinner can be on the table in less than an hour. It is so flavorful that everyone has requested it for dinner over and over again- often 2 or 3 times a week this winter.  And, as a result, by simply adding more vegetables into our diet my husband and I have trimmed up a bit- a small miracle in a house with 4 foodies. Over the last 5 months I’ve adapted the recipe to suit our tastes- a bit more of this, none of that, a lot more of something else. This recipe screams to be adapted so as you read it and hopefully recreate it, add your own twists and flavors. You will not be disappointed. And you get the added benefit of knowing you’re being good to your body.

What makes this recipe so fast is that the beans and tomatoes are canned. I tend to avoid cans, mostly because of the BPA, and because I believe local and seasonal is better. This recipe is one of the rare exceptions. I have made it with beans that I’ve soaked and cooked, but it does make the end result a 2-day affair, and Mama just doesn’t have time for that anymore.

I have found BPA-free cans at the healthfood store, and of course, everything I purchase is organic and fair-trade/fair work practices where I can get it.  This is especially important if  you’re following the plight of the Tomato Pickers in Florida. I refuse to let my dollars go to support business practices that exploit others. If you’re buying canned food of any kind- do your homework.

One of the big changes we made to this recipe was the addition of fresh lime, fresh cilantro, avocado and LOTS of New Mexico Red Chile sauce… do you see a recurring theme in some of my recipes?!?

We also go vegan-ish by using real cheese and not vegan-cheese. If you like, this recipe would taste great with the addition of meat, however, before you add it, I encourage you to try it like this- you might find as we did that this recipe is so flavorful and satisfying, you don’t need or want the meat! As always, substitute, add, or leave out ingredients as it pleases you. Never pass up the opportunity to play with a recipe!

For those of you who are curious, I will be happy to email you the recipe as it was given to me- just drop me an email. Otherwise, enjoy what has become a family favorite around here!

Gluten-Free Vegan Chile

2 cans organic pinto beans 

2 cans organic red kidney beans

1 28oz can organic chopped tomatoes

1 16 oz bag frozen corn

2 small cans chopped green chiles (optional)

2 red peppers, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 heaping tablespoons oregano

2 heaping tablespoons garlic powder (we like Herbed Garlic)

2 heaping tablespoons cumin

2 bay leaves

12 twists of pepper from a pepper grinder (abt 1/2 tsp)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp red chile powder (or more if you want more heat)

3 tbs apple cider vinegar

2 tbs molasses

Garnish Ingredients

2 cups crushed almonds

2 cups shredded cheese (vegan or regular, flavor of your choice)

2 bunches of cilantro, chopped finely

1 avocado chopped into pieces

New Mexico Spicy Goodness, or other hot sauce of your choice

2 limes, quartered

Directions

Place all ingredients except the garnish ingredients in the largest pot you have (5-8qt stockpot). Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes or longer. You can also make this ahead of time in a crock-pot. Place everything in a large crockpot and cook on low for at least 4 hours.

While the chile is simmering crush (if you bought whole almonds) the almonds into tiny pieces. Place them in a 375 oven or toaster oven and cook until they are toasted, fragrant, and a rich golden brown. This only takes about 5 minutes, so watch closely. The difference between delicious and burned is often only 30 seconds!

When you’re ready to serve, ladle the chile into a bowl, sprinkle the cheese on first, then top with the almonds and cilantro. Lately we’ve been adding avocado pieces as well. Squeeze a lime over the bowl and add any chile sauce – remember, it doesn’t have to be blazing hot to be delicious!

Strawberry Gazpacho

It’s 5 Star Makeover time again, and this month’s subject was Gourmet Picnic food. This subject is near and dear to my heart, as I love nothing more than dining al fresco. My inspiration? The movie Anne of Avonlea (renamed Anne of Green Gables, the Sequel)- a sweet, albeit somewhat cheesy and not very accurate adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars….but my favorite scene involves a picnic that is simply inspiring. Not only do the blankets and picnic baskets come out, but so does the porcelain, the silver, and of course, delicious food. I have enjoyed some pretty epic picnics in my time, and had high hopes that this evening would be another one for the annals of picnic lore……… of course the weather had other ideas.

Today was a day that I hope not to repeat for years to come, if ever. Tornadoes and Spring go hand in hand in this part of the country. If you’ve been following the news at all over the past few days, you know what I mean. In some ways, the frequency of the sirens creates an attitude of nonchalance. Of course, as we have witnessed in the tragedy of Joplin, Missouri- a few hours to my south- some who chose to ignore the sirens and go about their business did not survive. This has weighed heavily on my mind this week, as the other night I had to wake my children up at 11:30 pm and get them down to the basement. As usual, at least until today, the area of concern- while still in our county- was miles away. Nothing to worry about. And so we let the girls fall asleep in the basement in front of our favorite weatherman, and went about our business.

Today was supposed to be a day for celebration- and indeed, it turned out to be- but not in the way we intended. The big girl lost another tooth today- her last that the tooth fairy will visit for- and we were to have a beautiful picnic outside to celebrate a dear friend who is moving across the country this week (complete with pictures of a resplendent table for this post!). While we were out and about this morning, we heard the radio mention more tornado warnings for the area. But, as we didn’t hear any sirens in the vicinity, we decided to make a last stop at our local Lowe’s to grab rabbit repellent for the veggie garden.  The bunnies and squirrels have been having entirely too much fun with my beets and strawberries, and need to be redirected to the other plants in my garden set aside for them. Not long after we arrived- about 45 seconds actually- the sirens blew. My first reaction was to get home as we were less than 5 minutes away, but the big girl was very anxious due to all the tornado activities over the past few days, and so we decided to stay. Honestly, I didn’t think much about it because every time the sirens have blown in the last 8 years the storms have been in a far corner of our county.

As the training room began to fill up with customers and shortly after, employees, it became clear to everyone present that this was the real deal. The sirens really were for us this time. Tables were broken down and moved to the far wall, chairs were pushed to the corner, head counts were taken, and we sat down on the floor against a wall to wait and hope we’d be missed. I thought about the Home Depot in Joplin that had been flattened, and tried to reach Mr. Kitchen Diva to let him know where I was and that we were safe. But apparently everyone in the metro area had the same idea and the phone lines were completely jammed. There would be no contact with my husband until this event was over. The radar showed circulation over my neighborhood and I realized that if I was at home, the girls would be in the bathtub in the basement wearing their bicycle helmets. This was a day we had practiced for. This is why, even in our homeschool, we go over our tornado protocols once a month. Thirty minutes slowly ticked by as the sirens cycled off and on. We could hear the rain pick up, then the wind, and then calm. The girls were scared, and I was scared for them. The last thing you want to see as a parent is your children terrified, knowing you’ve done everything you can to protect them, and realizing that against the forces of nature, it’s not very much.

We were lucky today. I am grateful for my 85 year old house, and the 100+ year old houses a block away. They stand as a reminder to me that the chances of my house getting flattened by a tornado are astronomically small- even in an area like Kansas City. I’m grateful for Spring- even with the threat of tornadoes lurking in the back of my mind- for fresh strawberries, mint, and arugula, and for picnics with porcelain, delicious food, and dear friends- today the indoor kind because of the ongoing rain. You can’t tell from the pictures, but it’s actually raining quite steadily in them!

 

This month’s inspiration came from one of the best meals I’ve had in my life. I honeymooned on Prince Edward Island, and enjoyed a stellar meal at the Inn at Bay Fortune, a beautiful estate once owned by Colleen Dewhurst who played Marilla in the aforementioned Anne of Green Gable Movies. The inn specializes in producing incredible meals using as much locally sourced food as possible, and a different version of this strawberry gazpacho (in one of my favorite cookbooks), using balsamic vinegar and strawberry salsa, was one of the most memorable components of our meal there. I changed the recipe and used champagne instead of vinegar, and paired it with an arugula salad and a champagne-mint vinaigrette. I love the contrast of the slightly bitter arugula against the sweet acid of the strawberry. The mint brings a freshness and brightness to both. For transportation purposes, place the gazpacho in a mason jar, and pour into bowls, or even glasses. I often picnic with glass and porcelain- unless I have to hike a distance- then I use acrylic. Good food deserves good dishes. These recipes are simple and easy to prepare, and their flavor will leave you asking for seconds. You can use the salad as a garnish to the soup, or serve it on its own. If you are uncomfortable using alcohol that’s not going to be cooked out, you are welcome to substitute champagne vinegar. You will get a similar brightness and delicacy from the vinegar. Enjoy, and may your picnics be sunny and warm!

Be sure to stop by Lazaro Cooks and Five Star Foodie this Friday, for a complete round-up. You’ll be sure to discover some fabulous picnic food!

Strawberry Gazpacho

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 lb strawberries, cleaned with the stems removed

1/2 cup champagne, or champagne vinegar

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

Directions

Puree ingredients in a food processor for 3-4 minutes; until soup is glossy and smooth. Remove to a pitcher or jar and refrigerate until serving.

Arugula Salad with Champagne-Mint Vinaigrette

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 cups arugula, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

2 tbs  grapeseed oil

1/4 cup champagne, or champagne vinaigrette

juice from 1 lemon

2 tsp sugar

Directions

Place arugula in a bowl. Place remaining ingredients in a small jar. Cover and shake vigorously. Just prior to serving coat arugula with dressing and toss. Serve as a garnish to the gazpacho, or on its own.

Gluten Free Straw and Hay Pasta

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While we do get on our Irish around here, today’s post will not feature corned beef, colcannon, bannocks, boxtys or any other typical Irish fare…. But in keeping with the spirit of green everything today, this fun dish includes green pasta!

This recipe for Straw and Hay pasta was re-created by my oldest Kitchen Diva in Training. She has started working on geography by checking out cookbooks from different countries and then selecting a dish or two to prepare- how cool is that? And, since this has really been her project from start to finish, it’s only fitting that you hear from the KDiT herself about the ins and outs of this special recipe. Without further ado, I present to you one of my two amazing Kitchen Divas in Training!

KD: “A”, what was your inspiration for this dish?

KDiT: I like Italian food. I liked the way the straw and hay pasta looked with two different colors- green for hay and yellow for straw, and I liked all the ingredients used.

KD: Where did this dish come from?

KDiT: The city of Siena, in Tuscany.

KD: What was the biggest challenge for you?

KDiT: I think waiting for the pasta to cook.

KD: What was your favorite part of making the dish?

KDiT: I liked the cooking part- preparing and cooking the ingredients that went with the pasta.

KD: My favorite part was taking pictures of you. Did you have fun? What part was the most fun?

KDiT: YES!! I think it’s really fun when I get to cook- I make really good food. (She says with a satisfied smile…..)

KD: Yes, you do! What did you learn?

KDit: That the pasta takes a long time to cook; that you have to be super patient so that your food comes out the way it needs to be cooked. I also learned that Italian food uses lots of fresh produce….and lots of cheese!

KD: When I cook, I don’t really follow the recipe- I use it as a guide, and I always have to change something. You stuck to the recipe exactly the way it was written. Can you tell me your thoughts about that?

KDit: I stuck to the recipe because I wanted to try something new.  I like to cook the exact recipe out of the cookbook because sometimes when you cook off of the recipe it tastes different, and not like what the recipe intended. I wanted to see what this recipe tasted like!

KD: So, do you think you want to make another dish sometime?

KDit: Oh YES!!! (I was told I had to put in the capital letters!)

This dish comes from the children’s cookbook “Cooking the Italian Way” by Alphonse Bisignano. Thanks, A! You teach me so much when you cook. Enjoy the recipe and may your St. Patrick’s Day be filled with a little luck o’the Irish! Cheers!

Straw & Hay/Paglia e Fieno

4 servings

Ingredients 

4oz thin spinach noodles, uncooked (we used gluten-free)

4oz fettucini noodles, uncooked (we used gluten-free)

3 tbs butter,

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup peas

4 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced

3/4 cup heavy cream or half n half

1/2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

1/4 grated Parmesan, plus extra for the table.

Directions

Cook noodles in boiling salted water until they are al dente. Drain and toss with half the butter. Cover and set aside.

Melt remaining butter in a large saucepan. Saute garlic until golden.  Add peas and mushrooms and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. In a separate pan, heat the cream but do not boil.

Add the noodles, cream, salt and pepper to the vegetables and toss until noodles are thoroughly coated. Remove from heat and add cheese. Serve on warm plates.

Borscht

January in these parts tends to bring its fair share of snow days. And with the temperatures in the basement, we’ve been craving all sorts of hot food to keep our insides warm and toasty. There’s really nothing better than coming in from shoveling the driveway and enjoying a nice hot meal! But as cold as it is here, I really can’t complain. It’s waaaay colder in other places- especially, say……. Russia?

Natasha over at 5 Star Foodie has been inspiring me lately with all of her Russian dishes (incredible Beef Stroganoff and Herring under the Blanket, and it’s really been making me miss my friends on the other side of the world. Several years ago, my husband and I had the very good fortune to spend a week in the Russian Far East. The friendships we made there are the kind that last a lifetime- even over such a great distance! (Thank God for email and cheap international phone cards!!) I also have to say that the food was an incredible experience. Someday I’ll have to recreate the mushroom dish our friend made- with a bucket of wild mushrooms purchased on the side of the road for about 2 dollars. The mushrooms were delicious, and like none I’ve ever seen- or likely will until I return to Russia someday- their name literally translated is “Mushroom that grows under birch trees”- go figure.

But on this particular snow-day, I decided to recreate something a little more accessible than “mushrooms that grow under birch trees”. The year following our big adventure in Russia, our dear friend Olga paid us a visit. One night we hosted a Russian dinner for several friends, and she made the best borscht I’ve ever tasted. Borscht tends to get a bad rap in many circles. Many people are likely to turn up their noses when they hear ‘borscht’. They think of watery, weakly seasoned cabbage soup. However, borscht is anything but that! Properly created, borscht is a richly flavored, deeply colored, vibrant and delicious (like you can’t stop eating it delicious) soup. And it’s even better on the second day!

This soup isn’t exactly traditional- I did add a few extra ingredients, but it’s definitely borscht-ish, and a mostly faithful recreation of the delicious borscht that Olga made. I added a little red wine, some dehydrated tomatoes, and some dried chanterelles to my soup. I can’t bring myself to buy fresh tomatoes out of season- they’re just awful. So in the winter months I tend to reach for dehydrated, sundried, or stewed/strained tomatoes- the kind in the glass jar- they taste more like summer to me. This particular recipe makes a lot of soup- you can freeze half and still have enough for dinner and a few leftover lunches. Regardless of what the weather brings you in your area, may this soup help connect you to those you love! Enjoy!

Borscht 

Makes 5 quarts

Ingredients

3 tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 small potatoes, diced

1 large carrots, shredded

1/2 head cabbage, cut into thin ribbons

2 beets, shredded

16 cups vegetable stock

1/4 cup red wine

2 tbs salt

freshly ground pepper (about 10 twists from the pepper mill)

1/2 cup dried chanterelles

1/3 cup dehydrated tomatoes

1 tsp celery salt

Directions

Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic. When the onion starts to turn translucent, add the potatoes. Stir briefly, adding a little water if the potatoes begin to stick. Add the carrots and continue to stir. Add the red wine, cabbage and beets, followed by the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, and turn the heat to low. Allow soup to simmer for 30-40 minutes. 10 minutes prior to serving, rinse the chanterelles to remove the grit and add to the pot, along with the tomatoes. Season by adding salt, pepper and celery salt. Allow flavors to mingle for a few more minutes and serve. If you choose, you may garnish with sour cream or plain yogurt.

 

 

 

 

Gluten Free French Onion Soup – Braised Endive Apple & Bleu Cheese

Should I start with the story of how I ventured out on my own today, and purchased enough ingredients for two delicious meals? (Gluten Free French Onion Soup and Braised Endive w/ Apples & Bleu Cheese- see recipes below) or how I asked for eau mineral avec gas, when the waiter asked me how I wanted my steak done?

I may be able to make myself understood in the food department, but I still have a long way to go in terms of actually understanding what is said to me! C’est la vie! Two days in, and we’ve experienced sunshine, snow, sleet, and rain. The kitchen divas in training have been real troopers and have logged at least twelve miles of walking over the last two days. Once again, I’m such a proud mommy! The mini experiences are too vast to number, and I’m still crummy about taking pictures on our adventures out and about. Hopefully, as I get to know some of the vendors in this neighborhood, I’ll be able to post some cool food pics, but in the meantime, you’ll have to be content with a few anecdotes.

First off, being gluten free in Paris is far from a death sentence. In fact, I was thrilled to discover that on my market street (Rue Montorgueil) I can even get fresh gluten free bread! Now, after eating a few gluten free loaves around town over the last few days, I do think the French are behind the curve when it comes to gluten free bread- but I can see why- it’s not really their thing. I’ve had better fresh gluten-free bread in the states, and am still working on a GF sourdough-ish of my own that I like to think, when perfected, would make any Parisian smile. The Parisians take their bread very seriously- so much so, that as I wandered down the snowy street this morning in search of today’s meals, I noticed a woman leaving a boulangerie clutching a freshly baked, still warm loaf to her chest and smiling beatifically as if she was holding a baby!

We’ve eaten three meals out- and I’ve had no issues at all being gluten-free. I won’t go into that here, I’ll save all the restaurant reviews for a later post. I can say though, that in spite of the foul weather, I LOVE Paris! I always felt I was a New Yorker, but I think I can say unequivocally, after visiting here a few times in the winter, that if I could live anywhere in the world, it would be next to a market street in Paris. I do appreciate that everything here is done with an artistic eye. There’s an understanding here that food is as much as an art as music, or dance, or paintings. As an artist with experience in multiple disciplines, I respond to that.

On that note, enjoy a few visual highlights of The Adventuresome Kitchen’s first few days here, and a few very quick and easy recipes.  Groceries, by and large, are very affordable, although, finding ingredients that you need is another story. I accept that perhaps, I’m just looking in the wrong place- for instance, where does one find chicken stock? I ended up using vegetable bouillon for my onion soup- with surprisingly delicious results. But that was only because chicken stock was not on the shelves at the mini grocery store, nor did I see it at the meat vendor…. If anyone knows how to ask for it, and where to find it, by all means let me know.. The same for lardon… I know that lardon is the closest thing to bacon the French have, but I didn’t see it at the meat vendor’s…. I did, however, purchase something that had it been cured, would have been bacon, and the butcher behind the counter looked at me like I had three heads when I asked for one tiny slice, totaling 0.41 Euro.  And so what I hoped would be endive with bacon, was endive with pork. Still heavenly, but not what I had intended.. But, that’s part of the adventure, right? Cooking with new ingredients, less cookware, etc… and in the process, learning a thing or two! For instance, the oven in the petite apartment is too small for the jelly roll pan I brought. And now, I have to visit E. Dehillerin tomorrow to purchase something appropriate…. oh so sad (she says with a twinkle in her eye) and yet- if I’m bold, another adventure awaits!  More to come, and in the meantime, enjoy the recipes below!

Braised Endive with Bacon, Apples, Shallots and Bleu Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients 

2 endive, sliced in half, lengthwise

2-3 tbs olive oil

1 thick slice bacon (or uncured pork if bacon is not available)

3 shallots, diced finely

1/2 golden apple, diced

1 1/2 tbs sherry vinegar

1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles

Directions

Preheat the oven to broil. Slice endive in half lengthwise, and brush both sides with olive oil. Place face down on a broiling pan covered in parchment. Place in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until outer layer of endive has begun to carmelize and brown. Meanwhile, in a separate pan on the stove, sautee bacon (or pork) over medium until well cooked and beginning to crisp. Add shallots and stir briefly, allowing to saute until  shallots are translucent. Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar, and pull from the heat. Add the apples and gently stir.

Remove the endive from broiler, and with a pair of tongs, flip the pieces over so that the cut side is face up. Replace in the broiler for another 2-3 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the broiler. Spoon the bacon/shallot/apple over each endive, and crumble about 2 tablespoons of  bleu cheese over each half. Replace in the broiler, and allow to cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the bleu cheese is bubbling. Remove and serve promptly.

Golden Onion Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients

6 medium onions (white or yellow)

4 tbs butter (unsalted- if using salted, omit salt initially, and adjust for taste)

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tbs sorghum flour

1/3 cup white wine

2 cups vegetable stock (for traditional onion soup use beef stock)

1/2 tsp pepper

4 slices gluten-free bread

2 cups shredded gruyere cheese

Directions

Finely slice the onions lengthwise. Meanwhile, warm a stock pot over medium heat. Add the butter, and when it foams, add the onions. Cook until the onions have begun to change color- at least 20-30 minutes. The longer you cook the onions, the darker they will become and the darker your soup will be.

While the onions are cooking down, turn the oven on to broil. Take the slices of bread and place them on a parchment covered broiling pan. Sprinkle a 1/2 cup of gruyere cheese onto each slice, spreading evenly. Broil for 5 minutes, or until  cheese is bubbly and brown.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the sorghum over the onions and stir until sorghum has turned golden brown, and is beginning to stick to the bottom of the stock pot. Deglaze with the white wine. Stir until everything that has been sticking to the bottom of the pan has been removed. Add the two cups of vegetable stock and stir to incorporate the ingredients. Add the pepper, and if needed, more salt to taste. Cover and allow to heat through.

When you are ready to serve, ladle soup into the bowls, and float a piece of the toasted bread in each dish. Traditionally this is achieved by placing the soup in ovenproof ramekins, and broiling all at once. If you don’t have oven proof ramekins, this method will achieve the same result.

Broccoli Rabe w/Polenta

Broccoli Rabe– a veggie that defies classification. Kind of like myself actually- a little bit hippie, a little bit diva, although depending on the context I might be a lot of either of those…More closely related to the turnip than broccoli, it’s a little bit like broccoli met turnip, took a whirl on the dance floor and ended up with some unique collaboration that no one knew how to classify. My kind of veggie. And how can you turn up your nose at something so glorious and enormous?!?- Notice mine is as big as my stovetop! And to top it off, nobody can decide if it’s native to China or the Mediterranean…. It’s called Rapini, Broccoli Rabe, Broccoli Raap or Raab….it all depends on the context, or perhaps the veggie’s mood….a woman of mystery if you ask me. Since I originally heard that this lovely specimen was native to Italy, I chose a traditionally Italian presentation, briefly sautéed with lots of garlic, olive oil and tomatoes, served over a creamy polenta.  If I see it next spring in my CSA bag, I’ll certainly make this again. It was gobbled up like there was no tomorrow, which is a good thing, given that we’ve had some funky meals lately in an effort to clean out the refrigerator for our upcoming adventure.

There are parts of the fridge that haven’t seen the light of day, or a sponge, for quite some time, and there’s no time like the present to do a little spring cleaning, right? What else are you going to do when the temperatures are in the basement and you don’t have a fireplace to sit in front of while enjoying Christmas music and Hot Toddies? Actually the real reason is that I hate to come home to a yucky house. (and I won’t leave the housesitter with a fridge full of nasty leftovers) I will be the first to confess publicly that I am not the world’s neatest person. I’m a creative artist whose creativity can’t be contained in the brain, and so it spills over.. But I do have enough of an organizational streak to make sure I have a nice clean house to come home to, and to start packing for a big adventure days in advance.

You can see here from this picture, that the Adventuresome Kitchen is hitting the road for the first time ever- to Paris!! Not only will I be celebrating a milestone birthday in the shadow of the Tour Eiffel, I will be blogging about all things gluten free! There is an idea in the allergy world, and a perception in the non-allergy world that travel and adventure are impossible if you’ve got serious dietary issues. Not so. More challenging, yes- but I really look at this as an opportunity to get a little creative, as well as dive into and experience cuisine on a new and deeper level. There are celiacs who live quite happily in Paris. And yes, some people can enjoy all that Paris has to offer and never eat a croissant- not that I won’t be trying to duplicate one gluten-free…. I’m working on it! In the meantime, in addition to being a little entertaining for you, I hope that this type of documentation becomes a resource and an inspiration for people with food allergies. The world is your oyster- you just have to know how to shuck it!

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic & Tomatoes 

Serves 4-8

Ingredients

1 large broccoli rabe plant (about 6-8 cups)

1 bulb garlic, minced

3 tbs olive oil

1 32 oz container of stewed, chopped tomatoes (fresh is even better, but they’re now out of season)

Directions

Chop broccoli rabe- leaves and stems, discarding the thickest part of the stems.

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. When oil is hot, add the minced garlic. Stir for about 1 minute. When garlic is fragrant, add broccoli rabe stems. Saute for 2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe leaves and florets. Saute another minute. Add stewed tomatoes and heat through-about 1-2 minutes. Serve over creamy polenta.

Gluten Free Homemade Pasta Recipe: Chestnut Tagliatelli w/ Mushroom Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Here is the gluten free homemade pasta recipe that we enjoyed over Thanksgiving. Chestnut tagliatelli w/ mushroom brown butter sage sauce. Can you say delicious?

As I mentioned before, the last time I attempted a gluten-free homemade pasta recipe was over twelve years ago, right after I got diagnosed with celiac.

We had been given a pasta maker as a wedding gift, and I found a gluten-free homemade pasta recipe in an allergy cookbook. The resulting goo was so nasty that the pasta maker, along with the cookbook and bread machine promptly went to Goodwill.  And since I discovered Tinkyada’s amazing gluten free pastas a few years ago, I haven’t given much thought to making my own. Then I saw the chestnut tagliatelli recipe guest posted at More Than a Mountfull by Pattie from Bramasole (both blogs are so fun, I highly recommend stopping by!) Knowing I was getting chestnuts in my CSA pickup the following week, I thought why not try? I promptly headed over to my friend’s house, gluten-free flours in tow to try an experimental batch of pasta. We were both surprised at how good it tasted, and the meal planning commenced.

The dark brown color of this pasta comes from the rice bran. Rice bran is an ingredient in Tinkyada pasta, and as their pasta has great texture, I thought it would be a good idea to try some. Tinkyada isn’t brown pasta though, so I’m going to have to write them a letter and find out what they do differently. However, the color we achieved worked for the earthy dish we were creating, and the addition of the rice bran helped give the pasta enough flexibility and strength that it can easily be rolled out very thin. I did not try using a pasta machine with this, mostly because it was faster for us to roll out by hand, but I do think it would work well. The combination of the earthy mushrooms, sage, and brown butter beautifully compliments the sweetness in the pasta provided by the chestnut flour, and makes this the perfect dish for a winter evening by the fireplace! Enjoy!

Gluten Free Chestnut Tagliatelli with Mushroom Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Makes 8 servings

Pasta Ingredients

1 cup chestnut flour

½ cup rice bran

¼ cup + 2 tbs brown rice flour

1 tsp xanthan gum

6 egg yolks

4 eggs

splash of olive oil

cornstarch for flouring rolling surface

 

Directions

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until everything comes together into a ball. Flour your hands with a little cornstarch and knead lightly. Dough should be soft, but not tacky. Pull off a chunk, dust the rolling surface and the rolling pin with cornstarch and roll into a long rectangle. Using a dough scraper, pick the dough up, re-dust the rolling surface if necessary, and flip the dough over to the other side. If the dough gets too long as you’re rolling it out, use the scraper to cut off a portion and set it aside. Continue rolling dough until it’s about 1/16th of an inch thick (very thin) or to your desired thickness. This dough is surprisingly flexible and can be rolled out very thin. Cut 1/4 – 1/3 inch wide lengths of pasta and set aside. Roll out the remaining dough, cut to the desired length and set aside. If you have a pasta drier, you could drape the pasta noodles over the arms of the drier, but you can also lay them out flat on the counter. When you’re ready to cook the noodles, boil and salt a pot of water and add the noodles. The noodles are done when they float to the surface- about 5-6 minutes. Drain, then toss noodles in the mushroom brown-butter sage sauce. Stir for about 1 minute and serve. Directions for the sauce are below.

Mushroom Brown-Butter Sage Sauce

Ingredients

6 oz salted butter (if you’re using unsalted butter, add ¼ tsp of salt)

2 cups chopped mushrooms (porcini, crimini & shitake, or a combination of your choice)

leaves from 3 sprigs of sage

1 tbs dried sage leaves, crumbled

salt & pepper to taste

¼ cup asiago cheese, grated

Directions

Melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter foams, begin to stir gently. Watch closely as you stir, when you see the bits of milk fat begin to turn golden-brown, add the mushrooms and sage. Stir gently for approximately 2 minutes and if necessary, lift the sauce up by spoonfuls to prevent the butter from burning. The sage should be very fragrant.  Add in the fresh pasta and toss until noodles are thoroughly coated. Test the seasonings and add a dash of salt or pepper as you desire. Remove to a plate and sprinkle a little asiago cheese over each mound of pasta.

 

 

Roasted Carrot Soup

Just a quick pictoral of our Thanksgiving meal, and a few links to some fun blogs. As many of you who are food bloggers know, if you’re working all the time developing your own recipes, it’s hard to find time to play in the kitchen with other people’s creations. And, if you’re like me, your in-box is filled with some pretty tempting recipes! So for Thanksgiving this year, my friend and I picked out a few tempting recipes to add to our own and came up with a pretty fun tasting meal with paired wines… We started off with a pan-roasted carrot soup. If you have the time to pan roast your vegetables prior to turning them to soup, it’s so worth it, as the flavors deepen and marry. This was paired with champagne, and the contrast between the smooth rich soup, and the sharp bubbly champagne was a real treat!  Whatever you ate for Thanksgiving, I hope it was delicious,  that your tastebuds were in heaven, and that your tummy was full!

Thanksgiving Morning started off with warm strawberry scones compliments of Jacob’s Kitchen. I converted to gluten-free of course, and the result was pretty tasty.. The kitchen divas in training were licking their fingers and asking for more.

 

Then it was on to the main event- an afternoon of cooking, wine, laughter and much food. My friend and I decided on a multi-course tasting meal so that we wouldn’t get too stuffed. It was a leisurely and fun way to spend the afternoon.

First up: pan roasted carrot soup with creme fraiche. Recipe below.

 

 

Next up: Scallops Two Ways. We chose a fun recipe with peas and cilantro from Michael Toa via a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers Chef Dennis at More than A Mountful and a very unusual, yet very delicious preparation of scallops poached in herb infused rioja from another of my favorite bloggers, Lazaro from Lazaro Cooks. This pairing really stumped the sommeliers, who looked at me like I had eight heads when I said that I was poaching scallops in rioja- but don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it- it was delicious, and worked well with the riesling we poured with it.

Next came an earthy chestnut tagliatelli with mushrooms sauteed in a brown butter sage sauce. This was adapted from a guest post that Pattie from Bramasole provided to More than a Mountfull. I’m particularly happy with this, as it was my first attempt in 12 years at gluten-free pasta. This was a much more successful endeavor than my last attempt. So much so, that I’m inspired to try making other kinds of pasta.. The dark brown color in this dish comes from the rice bran I added to my gluten free flour mix.

To cleanse our palates before the main course, we created mini goat cheese souffles and served them on a bed of arugula with a simple lemon juice vinaigrette and pomegranate pips. Served with Sauvignon Blanc, this was indeed the perfect palate cleanser! Recipe will be forthcoming!

 

And for the main event: Roasted turkey breast with pancetta and sour cherry glaze, my gluten-free stuffing from my guest post at Lindsey Evenson’s blog Fresh Air+Fresh Food, and pan roasted butternut squash, also with a sour cherry glaze. The glaze was simple and one I’ll use again on other meats:

 

 

 

1 quart tart cherry juice

3 tbs sugar

1/4 cup Honey Wild Turkey (this is delicious, almost like cognac!)

1 sprig rosemary

leaves from 3 sprigs sage

1 teaspoons white peppercorns.

Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let reduce by half.

After all that food, dessert was simple- homemade ginger ice cream with crumble topping……

And now- for the carrot soup recipe! Enjoy, and may this kick-off to the Holiday Season be the first of many delicious meals you share at your table!

Pan Roasted Carrot Soup

8 Servings

Ingredients

2 lbs carrots

1 large red onion

2 medium shallots

2 cups chopped apples

5 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 cup champagne

1 cup milk

Spice Mix

1 tbs poultry seasoning

1  1/2 tbs cumin

1/2 tbs salt

1/2 tbs pepper

1 tsp oregano

olive oil

creme fraiche

parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Scrub the carrots, chop the onion into large segments, peel the shallots, and place all three ingredients onto a large cookie sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle entire spice mix over the cookie sheet. Cook until carrots are fork tender, about 1 hour.

Remove to a large stock pot, and add chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. In a smaller pan, place chopped apples and champagne. Simmer until apples are softened, and add to the soup mixture. Add the milk, and puree with an immersion blender. For a super smooth texture, place a portion of the soup in a food processor and run for 2-3 minutes. Keep doing this until the soup is as smooth as you’d like.

For presentation, garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkle with a little fresh parsley.

Sweet Potato Risotto w/ Mushrooms and Kale

I have to say that I’d never cooked risotto prior to last year. During that time, it’s definitely become a staple. While risotto does call for more stove time than other dinner dishes, I do love its endless flavor possibilities. And the leftovers always taste fantastic- a big deal in this household.

We’ve also been intentional about eating vegetarian meals at least three times a week. It not only helps the pocketbook, it’s good for the body and the environment- a win/win situation if you ask me.  My latest risotto is a fun fall combination featuring some of our favorite ingredients. I had sweet potatoes from Farmer Jill, but not enough for a full side dish- at least in the quantity we like. But in a risotto they were the perfect amount- and who knew they’d color the rice so beautifully? Way prettier than the time I seasoned with red wine because I didn’t have white in the house. There’s a reason risotto recipes always call for white wine. Suffice it to say there was no blog photo taken of that night’s meal. It may have been tasty, but it looked awful- and that alone was cause for the leftovers to sit lonely and untouched in the ‘fridge. Who wants to eat ugly leftovers? So tonight- pretty and delicious.

I baked my sweet potatoes in the toaster oven and popped them out of their jackets, but you could easily use frozen sweet potato pieces, or even the canned stuff (so long as it’s organic and doesn’t have added sugar) I used a combination of wild mushrooms, but any would do- in fact a meaty mushroom like a portabella would be delicious. I will confess this isn’t technically vegetarian- I did use chicken stock. If you’re a purist, use a vegetable or mushroom stock. I happen to love chicken stock, and it’s easily accessible from my freezer. Lastly, we were challenged to come up with the proper seasoning- it needed more than the usual salt & pepper. After some experimentation on my part, and with help from my two little kitchen divas in training, we landed on lemon zest and nutmeg. The lemon really brightens everything up, and the nutmeg compliments both the sweet potatoes and the kale. If you don’t have a lemon on hand, try an orange, or even a lime- the important thing is to have fun, and to enjoy trying new flavor combinations. Happy Eating!

Sweet Potato Risotto with Mushrooms & Kale

Serves 4-6 as a main dish, with leftovers

Inredients

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups shallots

2 cups uncooked arborio rice or other short grain rice

1/2 cup white wine

8 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock to be truly vegetarian)

1 1/2 lbs (about 2 cups) sweet potatoes

2 cups wild mushrooms (or portabella, crimini, or shitake)

2 cups kale, chopped finely

1 1/2 cups parmesan, shredded

1 tsp salt

lemon zest

nutmeg

Directions 

If you are using whole sweet potatoes, rinse them and place in a toaster oven at 350. Turn after 20 minutes. Remove when skins looked puffy and meat is soft to the touch. Allow to cool. If you’re doing this while still hot- use a pot holder to hold the potato. Take a knife and make a slit from one end of the skin to the other. Then make an additional slit to open up the skin. Turn the cooked potato into a 2 cup measuring cup. Repeat as necessary for remaining potatoes. Mash gently with a fork, leaving as many chunks as you desire.

In a medium pot, heat to simmering 8 cups of chicken stock. In a large pot, heat olive oil and add chopped shallots. When the shallots are translucent, add the uncooked rice. Stir constantly to prevent sticking. When rice is translucent except for a dot in the middle, and all liquid is gone from the pan, add the wine- still stirring constantly. When the wine has been absorbed, and the rice is about to stick to the bottom of the pan, ladle in one cup of the chicken stock. Continue to stir. When the rice has absorbed the stock, add another cup, continuing to stir. Do not stop stirring. Repeat this until all but one cup of stock has been added to the rice. The rice should look very creamy at this point. When only one cup of stock remains, add the salt, and the cooked sweet potatoes. Keep stirring. When potatoes have been incorporated, add mushrooms and keep stirring. Then the kale. Lastly add the parmesan. Pour the remaining liquid into the risotto and pull from the heat. There will be enough residual heat in the dish to finish cooking the kale and absorb the last of the liquid. Spoon into bowls and garnish with a little lemon zest and nutmeg.

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