Monday, November 30, 2009

Sautéed Parsnips & Carrots with Agave

Thanks again to Effie for contributing another wonderful new addition to our family's traditional Thanksgiving meal. I absolutely love parsnips!


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound each of carrots and parsnips, peeled and cut into 4-inch sticks, cubed and/or diagonal slices
Sea Salt (or coarse kosher salt) and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 tablespoon blue agave sweetener or honey (wildflower) 
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)

  1. Heat the oil in a large skilled over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the carrots and parsnips.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Sauté until the vegetables begin to brown at the edges, about 12 minutes.
  5. Add the butter and agave sweetener to the vegetables.
Notes: (1) This recipe can be made a day ahead, covered and chilled. (2) For those who have never seen, eaten or cooked a parsnip, click here. (3) Rosemary is a wonderful, aromatic herb, but we prefer this dish without it. (4) If you are planning on sharing your meal with your baby or toddler, I suggest you read this warning about giving honey to babies.

Serves 6-8

'Tis the Season for Prickly Pear Aguas Frescas

The night before Thanksgiving, our family enjoyed a festive, filling and flavorful meal of my homemade spoon bread topped with Cookwell & Company all natural, gluten-free Green Chili Stew made with Hatch chilies, a green salad, chips and salsa, seedless grapes and Effie's incredibly delicious Prickly Pear Aguas Frescas.

Here is Effie's recipe for non-alcoholic Prickly Pear Aguas Frescas:


4 prickly pears (available fall/winter seasons), peeled with a knife and rubber gloves (a must)
1/4 cup white sugar
2 limes, juiced plus 1 lime for slices to garnish
1/4 teaspoon ground canela (Mexican cinnamon) or regular cinnamon
2 cups ice

  1. Puree the prickly pears in a blender.
  2. Pass through a fine sieve or mesh strainer in to a bowl to strain out ever seed; use rubber spatula.
  3. Puree the pear liquid again, adding in the sugar, lime juice and ice in a blender for 1 minute.
  4. Pour into glasses and garnish with lime.

Serves 2-4

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Butternut & Acorn Squash Casserole

Having one butternut and two acorn squash left from our garden harvest, I incorporated them into our Thanksgiving menu as a side dish in lieu of serving our traditional candied sweet potatoes. We all loved the not-too-sweet flavor and lightness of this casserole so much that we have decided to add it to our list of family holiday favorites.


3 cups butternut and/or acorn squash, mashed
1/2 cup white sugar
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
2 eggs, well-beaten

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup flour (gluten-free: use rice flour)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped


  1. Place halved and seeded squash face down on a foiled baking sheet in a 350-degree oven.
  2. Bake about 45 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and cool before handling.
  4. Scoop out the flesh of the squash and mash in a medium-sized bowl.
  5. Add to the bowl: white sugar, butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  6. Beat the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla and eggs until well-blended.
  7. Add the eggs to the squash and thoroughly combine.
  8. Place the mixture in a greased 1-1/2 quart casserole dish.
  9. Combine the topping ingredients, mixing well, and crumble on top of the squash.
  10. Bake at 350-degrees for 45 minutes.
Serves 6 - 8.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving - To Eat Good Food

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We ate a lot of good home-cooked food and enjoyed quality time together as a family. We always fit in a game or two of "Grandma's International Rummy". Although Effie brought along their lovely collection of Christmas music,  14-month old Sephira was only interested in dancing to Etta James. We missed family that was unable to join us this year, but enjoyed our chats by phone. I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones, and will share one of your favorite holiday recipes or traditions with me!

As usual, we cooked enough food to enjoy seconds, some thirds, another complete Thanksgiving meal the next day and leftovers for another week. I will be posting our family's favorites over the days and weeks ahead.

Our Family's Thanksgiving Menu:

  • Roast Turkey Supreme
  • Savory Chestnut Stuffing
  • Mashed Potatoes & Pan-Gravy
  • Creamed Peas & Pearl Onions
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Sauteed Carrots & Parsnips
  • Butternut & Acorn Squash Casserole
  • Grandma's Cranberry Salad
  • Raw Cranberry Relish
  • Wine-Curried Fruit
  • Homemade Pumpkin Pie
Did you know?   

USCB Fact: About 769,760 tons of green beans are produced for one of the most popular traditional Thanksgiving Day foods, green bean casserole.
    Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and enjoy this video montage on the culture of food as seen in film titled "To eat good food is to be close to God". Thanks, Kate!

    Note to vegetarians: there are scenes of meats being prepared and served in some of the film footage.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    In Search of the World's Best Crab Cakes

    My friends Tom and Holly are celebrating Thanksgiving at home this year and serving crab. I suggested they consider make crab cakes. However, the search for the best crab cake recipe in the world will be an ongoing quest.

    For those cooking gluten-free, we have the additional challenge of choosing the best gluten-free flour, cracker or bread that won't compromise the delicate flavors and texture of the cakes. I like cooking gluten-free with recipes like this using rice or tapioca flour.

    Here's a good one I came across, handwritten and crammed in with a bunch of other index card in a old box of recipes, which I bought last year from a neighbor at their yard sale. I made a couple of changes to accommodate my pepper allergy and gluten intolerance and they were the best crab cakes we've ever eaten!


    1 pound fresh crab, picked over to remove shell
    1 cup cooked corn
    1/2 cup each onion, green pepper and celery finely chopped
    1 cup mayonnaise
    1/2 teaspoon dry mustard and a dash of cayenne or green pepper sauce
    1 egg, beaten
    1-1/4 cups saltine cracker crumbs (for gluten-free use rice crackers, fine crumbs)
    2 tablespoons olive oil and to tablespoons butter


    1. Combine the crab, corn, onion, pepper, celery in one bowl; in another combine the mayonnaise, mustard and cayenne.
    2. Mix the two sets of ingredients together.
    3. Fold in the egg and 1/4 cup of the cracker crumbs to bind the ingredients together.
    4. Form the crab mixture into eight (8) patties.
    5. Roll them in the remaining cup of cracker crumbs.
    6. Fry the cakes in oil and butter 3-4 minutes per side.
    7. Serve with tartar sauce.
    Here's a recipe adding Louisiana hot sauce.

    Maryland Crab Cakes

    1 pound cooked crab, flaked
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    1 teaspoon dry mustard
    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
    2 eggs, beaten
    2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    1/2 cup cracker crumbs
    salt and pepper to taste
    flour for dredging


    Mix the parsley, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, eggs, and mayonnaise together.

    Add the crab and crumbs, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Divide the mixture into 8 cakes and dredge in flour.

    These can be deep fried at 375 to 380 degrees for 2-3 minutes (or until golden brown). Or you may pan fry them on both sides in butter.

    Note: I've come across other Maryland crab cake recipes that add 1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning, celery seed, even Italian bread crumbs.  Other recipes add finely chopped green onion and tomatoes.

     Mendo Bistro’s Award-Winning Crab Cakes with Tarragon Aioli seems to be a popular recipe shared across the Internet.

    Watch how Tom Douglas, chef and author of I Love Crab Cakes! (50 recipes) makes his famous crab cakes. Scrumptous ingredients, excellent tips!

    Another excellent crab cake resource is the Crab Cake Guy. He posts about 24 crab cake recipes and links to a half dozen crab cake cookbooks.

    If you have a favorite crab cake recipe, I hope you will share it. If you try any one of the recipes I've posted here, I would love to hear about your culinary experience in the kitchen with crab.

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Pumpkin Bread

    Nikki Ostrower is the founder of NAO Nutrition. I took Nikki's challenge to make her 100% all-natural pumpkin bread. She claimed that it is “SO tasty you will not believe it's Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and has NO added processed sugar!!!” She’s right. Well, with a few trials and errors, I came to like her recipe as much, if not more than any conventional recipes I’ve tried in the past. Although my loaves turned out looking rather homely, it's great to have some tasty gluten-free baked goods around this holiday that I can enjoy!

    As I was adding the dry ingredients to the bowl for the first loaf, I discovered I was out of xanthan gum. Ugh. Far from the nearest store that sells such an ingredient, I pillaged my pantry for some  kind of an alternative. I settled on adding two packets of Knox gelatin to the dry mix. The texture was good; the consistency fine, except it was a little gummy on the bottom, though I baked it for an hour. 

    The second loaf that included the xanthan gum, which baked for an hour and ten minutes, rose higher, grew wider, split in the middle and collapsed, had a similar texture and consistency, but more flavor, because I added one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to Nikki’s original recipe:

    "Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8.5" loaf pan

    Combine in a large bowl:

    1 cup canned pumpkin
    1/2 cup organic canola oil
    1 cup grade B maple syrup
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 eggs

    Whisk together in a separate bowl:

    1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour - I used Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All purpose Baking Mix (you can always use just buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, brown rice flour)
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon xanthan gum
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon cardamom
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)


    Add the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and stir until smooth.
    Place the batter into the greased pan and cook for 50 minutes to an hour.

    Do the toothpick test to see if completely done.
    Cool the loaf and ENJOY!!!"

    Note: For me, I think a little more experimentation is in order with spices and trying other gluten-free, all-purpose baking mixes, and working with other individual flours.

    Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

    This meal is much better than I anticipated. Very good, in fact. It has been some time since I last cooked spaghetti squash. I don't recall it to be any more than baking the squash in the oven for nearly and hour, then serving store-bought spaghetti sauce of over top for a quick meal.

    Tonight's Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca is a dish I look forward to making again. What I like about this recipe are the fresh ingredients, the commingling of some of my favorite flavors and making it with tuna fish instead of anchovies. It is quick and easy to prepare, and a creative way to add more vegetables and fish to the diet.


    1 large spaghetti squash (3-4.5 pounds)
    16 ounces of cherry or grape tomatoes quartered, or small tomatoes chopped ( I used a can of stewed tomatoes, since I can't eat raw tomatoes)
    1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced or chopped
    2 cans (5 ounce) albacore tuna in water, drained and flaked
    1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped or sliced
    1 tablespoon drained capers, coarsely chopped
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (1 tablespoon, if using stewed tomatoes)
    Salt and pepper to taste (seasoned with sea salt and my herb blend with cayenne)
    Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
    Sprig of basil for garnish


    1. Pierce the spaghetti squash 6-12 times with a knife and place in a glass pie plate.
    2. Microwave the squash on high for 5 minutes per pound - 15-20 minutes.
    3. Let the squash cool down about 10 minutes, before handling and cutting open.
    4. In a medium bowl, mix together all the other ingredient, except the cheese and basil sprig.
    5. Once combined, you do not cook the sauce.
    6. Cut the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds.
    7. As you scoop out the flesh of the squash it will break into strands like spaghetti.
    8. Drain the squash if you like, and salt and pepper to taste.
    9. Divide the squash between 2-4 dinner bowls (shallow pasta bowls).
    10. Serve the spaghetti squash topped with the freshly made Puttanesca sauce.
    11. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and a sprig of fresh basil.
    Serves 2-4

    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Rice and Lentils with Wild Salmon Over Vegetables

    Thank you to my friend Elli for this fabulous Iraqi recipe Kichri - Rice and Lentils Dish. I prepared it this evening to serve with Zenobia's Wild Rice Over Vegetables entree from Raman Prasad's cookbook Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, on page 132. 

     Here is Elli's recipe and the background to this aromatic, savory dish: 

    Kichri - Rice and Lentils Dish

    "This is a simple and quick dish that is very tasty and nutritious. Plus some history of the middle east as a bonus.
    Iraqi cuisine is a fine cuisine. What we now call Iraq (name invented by the British when they created the country, as they did for the whole Middle East), was once a major trade route and the cultural center of the Islamic Empire during the Golden Age. This cuisine has mellow flavors that blend together -- certain flavors that you will not fine anywhere else.
    When the concept of fine dining -- which includes using silverware and glassware, eating three course meals, and maintaining certain table manners -- was invented in the Islamic capital, Europeans were eating bread, salt and roasted pigs with their hands, and would have to sell their house for an ounce of cloves. Being on a central trade route from India to the west meant that a wealth of spices was available to Iraqis and were commonly used in the country for centuries. There are minor resemblances to Indian cuisine, but you will not get the bombardment of spices in Iraqi cuisine, it is about finesse.

    I did some modifications to the original recipe by the advice of my sister, chef Hadas Levendiger. This makes it even quicker to make, at a minor price in flavor." Elli A.

    Active Time: 20 minutes
    Total Time: 1/2 an hour to 1 hour

    • 1 cup rice
    • 1/2 cup red lentils
    • 1 chopped onion
    • 5-7 spoons oil
    • 4 ounces tomato paste
    • 2-3 cups of boiling water
    • 10 crushed garlic cloves
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • Salt and pepper
    1. Wash rice and lentils
    2. Soak in water for at least 1.5 hours.
    3. In a pot, fry the onions until they are golden in color.
    4. Add crushed garlic and fry little bit more. Be careful not to burn the garlic; it burns very quickly.
    5. Add rice, lentils, and tomato paste to 2 ½ cups of boiling water. The water has to be boiling before you add them.
    6. Mix spices
    7. Bring to a boil again and cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
    [Note: I added a 1/2 cup more boiling water for more moisture near the end of the cooking time; stir occasionally as it slow-cooks without a lid.]
      Water and Cooking Time
      This largely depends on the type of rice you use. It varies between 2-3 cups of water and 20-45 minutes of cooking time. Plain white rice is the quickest and needs the least amount of water.

      Original Recipe
      Same as above, but do NOT add garlic, turmeric and cumin to the pot. When the dish is ready, fry the garlic and spices in a frying pan, and then mix it in.
      This is an extra step that emphasizes the flavor of the spices. Cooking them in water does have flavor degradation.
      Serves 6 

      Wild Salmon Over Vegetables

      I made some changes to the ingredients in the original recipe*. Here's my version, using what I had on hand:


      3/4 pound wild salmon fillet, with skin left on (option to remove it)
      garlic salt, dill weed and lemon peel to taste
      1 tablespoon olive oil
      Bragg's organic Ginger & Sesame Salad Dressing
      1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
      1-1/2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
      1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

      1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
      2. Lightly oil glass baking dish with olive oil.
      3. Layer the thinly-sliced vegetables on the bottom.
      4. Lightly pre-cook the vegetables in the microwave for 2 minutes. 
      5. Lay the salmon across the top of the layered vegetables.
      6. Rub the seasoning on the topside of the salmon.
      7. Drizzle the ginger and sesame seed salad dressing over all.
      8. Bake uncovered for 20-minutes.
      I was pleased at how well this dish turned out; not at all fishy. The seasoning and dressing gave both the fish and the vegetables a fresh, delicate flavor. For those that don't have much time to spend in the kitchen, this is a very simple way to prepare salmon and cut down the time it takes to cook a meal.

      Serves 2

      * Zenobia's ingredients to serve 7 to 8:

      1-1/2 pounds wild salmon skinned
      salt and pepper to taste
      1 tablespoon sesame oil
      3/4 teaspoon olive oil
      3 cloves garlic, minced
      1 large onion, finely chopped
      3 to 4 portobello mushroom caps, finely chopped

      Wine-Curried Fruit for the Holidays

      An elegant casserole to serve dinner guests. I baked this fruit medley to take as a buffet side dish for a holiday party we attended and for the day-after-thanksgiving feast this year. It was a big hit both times!


      2 Bananas
      1- 29 oz. can of Peaches, halved
      1 - 26 oz. can of Pears, halved
      1 - 20 oz. can of Pineapple, chunks
      2 - 6.5 oz. cans of Mandarin Oranges
      1 - 8 oz. jar of Maraschino Cherries
      1/2 cup Butter (1 stick), softened
      1/2 Brown Sugar
      1 tablespoon Cornstarch
      1/2 cup Dry White Wine
      1 teaspoon Curry Powder
      Pecans, chopped or halved (optional)

      Use as many organic ingredients as you can, when making this recipe. Check with your local natural foods market for their selection of organic canned products.


      1. Diagonally slice the bananas in 1-1/2 inch chunks.
      2. Drain the juice from all the other fruit and arrange all in a 2-1/2 quart baking dish.
      3. In a sauce pan, combine the sugar, softened butter, cornstarch, wine and curry powder and cook, stirring continually, until it begins to thicken.
      4. Pour the sauce over the fruit.
      5. Bake uncovered in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
      6. Serve hot.

      Serves 12-14

      Pan-Roasted Turnips

      Eat your vegetables. Eat a variety of vegetables! Splendid Table on NPR featured this delicious Italian pan-roasted turnip dish. It will change your mind about some of the under-appreciated vegetables you pass by at the market. Follow this recipe and add a variety of other root vegetables like rutabagas and parsnips for a colorful and flavorful medley.


      4 tablespoons unsalted butter
      2 pounds turnips, scrubbed and quartered
      Salt and freshly ground black pepper
      2 tablespoons poppy seeds
      1 tablespoon paprika
      1/4 cup red wine vinegar


      1. In a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until it melts and begins to brown. Add the turnips, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat well. Add the poppy seeds and sauté until the turnips are light golden brown, 8 to 9 minutes.
      2. Add the paprika, tossing to coat. Add the vinegar, bring to a boil, and cook until it has evaporated. Serve hot.

        Excerpted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home. © 2005 by Mario Batali. Published by Ecco Press.

        Makes 4 servings

      Ribollita - Tuscan Soup

      Delicious! This twice-cooked Tuscan soup recipe can be made with leftovers. The name Ribollita is Italian for "reboiled".


      2 cups cannellini (white beans (or any white bean, for that matter), cooked, drained and rinsed
      1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      1 tablespoon each of fresh, chopped garlic and fresh chopped rosemary
      1 large onion, chopped
      1 carrot, peeled (or not, my preference) and chopped
      1 large Yukon Gold potato, diced
      2 celery stalks, chopped
      1 bunch kale, coarsely chopped
      1 cup canned or fresh tomatoes, chopped
      2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
      2 slices day-old crusty white country-style bread (or gluten-free), broken into chunks
      Salt & Pepper to taste
      Grated Parmesan cheese, optional


      1. Mash half (1 cup) of the white beans with the back of a fork in a bowl until smooth, then set aside.
      2. In a soup pot, gently cook the garlic, rosemary, onion, celery, carrot and kale in the olive oil for 20 minutes.
      3. Add both the whole and mashed beans, stock, potato and tomato.
      4. Simmer gently for about an hour or so, then add the bread and continue to cook until the bread completely dissolved into the soup.
      5. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
      6. Drizzle olive oil over the soup and top with the grated cheese.
      7. Tastes best the next day, so a great meal to make ahead!
      Makes four large servings.

      I came across this recipe in a runner's magazine. Marathoner, Matt Conors enjoys this nutrient-rich soup as a pre-race meal.

      Creamy Polenta

      Polenta is a very versatile staple to incorporate into your meals. Depending on what you add to it, you can dish up a tasty sweet or savory accompaniment to any breakfast, lunch or dinner meal or serve as a dessert.

      Recipe for Creamy Polenta


      Salt, to taste
      5 cups chicken stock or water
      1⁄4 cup heavy cream
      2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
      Freshly ground black pepper or cayenne, to taste
      1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
      4 ounces cream cheese, mascarpone or ricotta, at room temperature
      Milk or water, for the consistency you desire
      1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
      Herbs (optional), season to taste


      In a large, heavy saucepan, bring 5 cups of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the butter, cream, salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, pour the cornmeal into the water in a steady stream until all is combined. Continue to whisk until you are sure there are no lumps of unincorporated cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 20 minutes, uncovering frequently to stir.

      Stir the mixture until thick and creamy, with no taste of rawness, an additional 20 minutes or so. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the Parmesan, cream cheese and serve, garnished with the grated cheese.

      To Serve Bolognese: stir in leftovers and top with one of your favorite sauces.

      To Serve as Dessert: instead of adding cheese cheese, add cinnamon and vanilla for a rice pudding taste. Serve warm topped with ice cream or fruit (fresh or compote).

      Notes: Cornmeal: Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits. Cooking Directions from: Emeril Lagasse.

      Thursday, November 19, 2009

      Gluten-Free Mediterranean Pizza

      I took my friend Beth's challenge to try her Gluten-Free Pizza Crust recipe, which I will share with you below. I doubled her recipe. After procuring the flours needed, mixing and while baking the crust, I set to work preparing the toppings. I have to say it was easy, tasty and my husband loved it. He said it was better than the pizza at Pizza Research Institute. Not sure I agree, but I must say, it was quite good!

      Beth's Gluten-Free Pizza Crust: "The goal - a gluten free pizza crust worth its sauce. Am I there yet?"

      Active Time: 10 minutes
      Total Time: 30 minutes


      • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
      • 1/2 cup gluten free yellow cornmeal
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • water
      • 1 egg


      1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
      2. Mix flours and salt together in a bowl.
      3. Slowly add water and stir until you get a thick paste. Beat until batter has no lumps.
      4. Add egg and blend.
      5. Add water until mixture is the consistency of thin pancake batter.
      6. Spread about a teaspoon of olive oil over pizza pan. Stir batter to combine and pour over pan, rotating for even coverage.
      7. Put pan into oven and lower temperature to 300 degrees.
      8. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, until crust is firm to the touch and golden brown.
      9. Add sauce, toppings, etc. Bake again to heat sauce and melt cheese.
      "This also works using buckwheat or brown rice flour instead of the cornmeal.
      You might want to add a tablespoon or two more of each flour, depending on the size of your pan and how thick you like your crust.

      The idea was to create a gluten free pizza crust that uses whole grains and is free of gums and empty starches. While I'd still call it a work in progress, this is my best effort so far.
      If you try it, please share your thoughts - If you improve it, please share your recipe!"

      Once the crust had baked for 18 minutes, I removed it from the oven and added the following topping is this this order:

      • 6 ounces of pesto
      • 1/2 cup shallots, chopped and 1 cup chanterelles, chopped and quickly sauteed in olive oil with 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of my salt substitute herb blend.
      • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced (microwaved 2-minutes)
      • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced in rounds ( microwaved 2-minutes)
      • 1 red tomato, thinly sliced and placed on 1/2 of the pizza ( I can't eat raw tomatoes)
      • 5 ounces of marinated artichokes, coursely chopped
      • 15 Kalamata pitted olives, sliced
      • 3 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
      • 5 ounces of pizza-blend cheese ( mozzarella and cheddar)

      Baking the Pizza:

      Set the oven to pre-heated to 400-degrees, and made the crust with the quinoa flour and cornmeal. Pouring the pizza batter into a oiled rectangular baking pan with a lip, the pancake batter-thin mixture spread out into an even, but irregular shape. The pizza crust cooked for 18-minutes at 300-degrees.

      After topping the pizza, I returned it to the oven on "broil" (leaving the door ajar and the oven light on to watch its progress). I felt it would be better to finish cooking the pizza by broiling to melt the cheese and heat the toppings through than to put the pizza back into a 300-degree oven until the cheese slowly melted. It turned out to be a good decision. The crust did not dry out and become brittle, the toppings were hot and cooked through and the cheese was evenly melted on top. The edges crisped up, which I liked. The spatula had to work a bit to loosen the crisp edges, but the servings remained intact and could be cut with a knife on the plate or picked up to eat as individual slices of pizza.

      Let me know if you try making this pizza using buckwheat  or rice flour instead of cornmeal. I too would be interested to know how it turns out.

      Salt Substitute - Homemade Herb Blend

      Want to cut down your salt intake or simple incorporate more spices into your cooking? Whether you buy dried organic herbs or dry your own, this medley of herbs is a great flavor enhancer for savory entrees, veggies, salads and eggs.

      It took me five minutes to make this herb blend. I stored it in a clean, empty Spice Island jar I saved for such a time such as this. I used garlic salt, since I love salt and appear to be out of garlic powder right now.


      1 tablespoon each of Garlic Powder and Dry Mustard
      2 teaspoon each of the following dried herbs: Parsley, Dill Weed, Savory, Thyme, Onion Powder, Paprika, and Ground White Pepper
      1 teaspoon dried Lemon Peel


      If you have a garden, air-dry your own organic herbs. Be creative. Experiment with other herb and spice recipes that will compliment ethnic dishes, including desserts. Blend the herbs and seal the mixture in an airtight container or vacuum-seal to store or freeze. Homemade herb blends also makes excellent culinary gifts! Be creative. Make your own labels and gift tags.

      How to make and store herb salts.

      Vegetarian Borscht

      I love beets, but this borscht recipe is adapted for those who don't particularly care for beets. Make ahead the day of your gathering. The longer it sits the thicker it gets. It also freezes well.

      Use as many fresh, local and organic ingredients as you can. Directions are for preparing vegetables with a food processor. If you like beets, you can add them too (peeled and shredded). Other options: tomatoes, red wine vinegar, bay leaf, garlic, chopped parsley, a pinch of sugar, cinnamon, allspice etc. You can also use vegetable broth and water to cover the vegetables.

      • 1/4-1 pound beets (optional, peeled an shredded)
      • 2 medium onions, peeled
      • 3 ribs celery, with tops
      • 1 leek, white part only
      • 6 to 8 carrots, peeled
      • 1/4 cup margarine
      • 3 large potatoes, peeled
      • 2 medium turnips, peeled
      • 3 medium parsnips, peeled
      • 1 pound green beans
      • 1 bunch watercress, stems removed
      • 1 small head cabbage, cored and cut into 4 wedges
      • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
      • 4 teaspoons salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

      1. Place the slicing disk into the bowl of the food processor. Cut the onions, celery, leek, and carrots to fit feed tube. With light pressure, push the vegetables through the feed tube using the pusher.

      2. Over medium heat, melt the margarine in a large stockpot. Add the onions, celery, leeks, and carrots and saute until the onion is soft and limp, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.

      3. Insert the French-fry blade into the food processor. Cut the potatoes, turnips, and parsnips to fit the feed tube. Chop, using the pusher with firm pressure. Add these vegetables to the stockpot.

      4. Insert the metal blade into the food processor bowl. Add the green beans and watercress. Pulse several times to chop, then add to the stockpot.

      5. Place 2 wedges of the cabbage into the processor bowl. Chop with several pulses. Add to the stockpot. Repeat with the remaining cabbage and add to the stockpot. Add the tomato paste, salt, and white pepper to the stockpot.

      6. Add enough cold water to cover the vegetables, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream, garnished with dill.

      Makes 5 Quarts

      Wednesday, November 18, 2009

      Fall Harvest Cream of Chanterelle Soup

      This is not your conventional cream of mushroom soup. Made with chanterelles picked in the wild, sautéed with lemon and thyme, slow-cooked in vegetable broth and cream, this soup is rich and unique in flavor and texture.


      • 1 pound of chanterelle mushrooms or a mix of wild mushrooms
      • 3 medium-sized shallots – finely chopped
      • 1 clove garlic, minced
      • 5-6 thyme sprigs or a tablespoon of dried
      • 2 bay leaves
      • Juice of 1 lemon
      • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
      • 2-3 cups vegetable broth (depends on how thick you want your soup)
      • 1 1/2 – 2 cups cream (light or heavy or both)
      • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
      • Salt and pepper (black or cayenne)
      • Parsley, chopped for garnish (optional)
      Preparing the Chanterelles:

      If your chanterelles are not clean. Sweep away any debris and dirt with a soft-bristled basting brush; use a small paring knife to cut away any unwanted portion; if necessary very lightly rinse and gently pat dry. Finely chop the chanterelles either with a knife or dice with a food processor (avoid over-processing).


      In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat; adding in the shallots, cook for 4-5 minutes or until translucent.  Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaves and chanterelle mushrooms and continue to cook over medium-low heat.  Salt the ingredients to help release the moisture.  Continue to cook them until all of this moisture has cooked off; perhaps another 10-15 minutes.  When the moisture is gone, add in the vegetable stock, cream, lemon zest, pepper and a pinch more salt.  Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for another 15-20 minutes.  Add in the remaining lemon juice and stir.  Taste the soup and adjust the salt levels as needed for your tastes.  If the soup is too thin, continue to cook and if it is too thick, add a little more vegetable stock. Top with chopped parsley. I garnished our servings with shelled hemp seeds by Nutiva.

      Serves 4

      Vegetarian Chili

      Fresh, delicious, and nutritious, this chili is a hearty and healthy alternative to the traditional chili con carne.


      Use as many fresh, organic and local products as you can when making this recipe.

      2 Onions, chopped
      3 Garlic Cloves, minced
      3 Celery Ribs, chopped
      1 Green Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
      8 ounces Mushrooms, sliced (wild, if you have them)
      2 Zucchini, sliced
      4 ounces Red Kidney Beans, home-cooked or canned, rinsed and drained
      4 ounces Tomatoes, chopped (fresh or canned)
      2/3 cup Tomato Sauce
      2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
      1 tablespoons Ketchup
      1 heaping teaspoon each: Chili Powder, Ground Cumin, and Ground Cilantro
      Salt & Cracked Pepper to taste
      Plain Yogurt, Cayenne Pepper and Fresh Cilantro to serve


      1. Put onion, garlic, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms and zucchini in a large pot; mix together.
      2. Add kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste and ketchup.
      3. Add chili powder, cumin and coriander; season with salt and pepper and mix well.
      4. Cover pot and bring the chili to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes longer.
      5. Stir occasionally, cooking until the vegetables are tender.
      6. Top with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprig of fresh cilantro.
      7. Serve with a rice medley (white basmati, yellow and brown jasmine), polenta or fresh artisan bread with a thick crust.
      Serves 4-6 depending on serving size - cups or bowls.

      Good Neighbor Bread

      A fresh-baked loaf wrapped in a new kitchen towel, tied with twine or raffia, makes a wonderful gift. This recipe is my Good Neighbor gift to you!

      I was given this recipe from an elderly friend, Erna Floyd, back in 1976, the year our first daughter was born. It's a labor or love, but it makes the best bread! It's a meal in itself and makes great toast, slathered with butter and homemade jam, and freezes well, too.

      Now that I know I am gluten-intolerant, I don't bake or eat this bread anymore, but it's the best ever homemade multi-grain bread I've ever made or eaten!


      6 cups Warm Water (almost hot)
      6 tablespoons Molasses
      6 tablespoons Honey
      1 cup Mashed Potatoes
      3/4 cup Cracked Bulgar Wheat (already swollen and moist)
      2 tablespoons Wheat Germ
      4 tablespoons Oil or Melted Shortening
      2 tablespoons Yeast

      Mix well in a large bread bowl; let stand 5 minutes.

      1-1/2 tablespoons Salt
      4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
      1 cup 7-Grain Cereal (uncooked)
      3 cups White Flour (to start)

      1. Add the flour by the cup full, stirring with a spoon.
      2. When it is too stiff to stir, flour the top and your hands, then mix by hand.
      3. Keep adding flour on top to keep it from sticking, and until the dough is the right consistency.
      4. When mixing by hand, knead vigorously, punching and folding.
      5. When it is easy to handle, work it on a floured board.
      6. When it is ready, put it back into the greased bread bowl.
      7. Lightly grease the top of the dough to prevent a crust from forming while it's rising.
      8. It will take 1-2 hours to rise depending on the temperature of the room.
      9. Punch the dough down once during the rising; turn over.
      10. Grease four (4) bread pans.
      11. Punch dough down again, and divide into four (4) equal sections.
      12. Leave the dough sections covered on a floured board for ten (10) minutes.
      13. Knead the dough sections to let the air out and shape into loaves.
      14. Put the individual loaves into the bread pans and let rise another hour.
      15. Let the bread bake in a 350-degree oven for 45-50 minutes.
      16. When done, rub oil on the tops of each loaf and let them cool on a rack.
      Makes 4 large loaves. 

      Note: This bread is not gluten-free.

      Fasolakia Fresca - Fresh Green Beans

      Fasolakia Fresca is sure to become a favorite, and an alternative to the traditional green bean casserole during the holidays.

      This recipe comes from my 1982 edition of Greek Cooking in an American Kitchen, page 169. Back then our family attended the annual Greek Festival that was held near the University of Washington campus at the St. Demetrios Church. The cookbook is their publication; recipes contributed by parishioners of the church; tested and selected by the cookbook committee.

      Use as many fresh, local and organic ingredients as you can, when making this recipe.


      2 pounds Fresh Green Beans
      1/2 cup Olive Oil
      1/3 cup Butter
      2 medium Onions, thinly sliced
      16 ounces Tomatoes (fresh or canned)
      2 tablespoon Tomato Paste
      1 cup Water
      1/2 cup Parsley, chopped
      1 teaspoon Sugar
      Salt & Pepper to taste


      Wash and cut the green beans and drain.
      1. In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil and butter; saute onions until soft.
      2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper; bring to a boil.
      3. Add the green beans; cover and cook over medium heat until beans are tender.
      4. As an option, you can add carrots and/or potatoes.
      Serves 6-8

      Veggilicious Lasagna

      Make this easy, cheesy and moist, very veggie and gluten-free lasagna your family's new and nutritious Italian classic favorite!


      I recommend buying as many fresh, local and organic ingredients as you can find to make this recipe:

      1 - 8 oz. package shredded mozzarella cheese
      1 - 15 oz. container of part-skim ricotta cheese
      2 large eggs
      1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      1 tsp. salt
      1 cup shredded carrots
      3 cups shredded zucchini, firmly packed
      1 - 26 oz. jar roasted garlic marinara
      1 package brown rice lasagna noodles

      Optional: include in your layering of vegetables - dried or thinly sliced tomatoes and raw baby spinach leaves.

      1. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese. In a bowl, combine the remaining mozzarella with the ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese and 1/2 tsp. salt.
      2. Cook the shredded carrots in the microwave for 2 minutes, then stir into the cheese mixture and set aside.
      3. In a separate bowl, stir the remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt into the zucchini.
      4. Spray a 5-quart slow cooker with a cooking spray (I use olive oil). Spread 1/3 of the marinara on the bottom. Break two noodles to fill and cover sauce. Spread 1 cup of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Top with 1 cup of the shredded zucchini and spread 2/3 cup of marina over all. Add another layer of broken noodles, and repeat with layers of cheese mixture, zucchini and sauce. Top with broken noodles, remaining sauce, and sprinkle with the 1/2 cup of the reserved mozzarella cheese.
      5. Cook in the slow cooker on high for 3 hours.
      Serves 8

      Note: Read the label on any pre-shredded cheese very carefully. Many brands are dusted with flour to prevent clumping, and as a result these cheeses are not gluten-free.

      Macadamia Encrusted Halibut

      In my recipe I call for macadamia nuts, but you can use pine nuts, also you can make this macadamia version with shredded coconut instead of Parmesan cheese.

      I recommend fresh halibut for this recipe.
      • 1/4 6-oz. Halibut fillets 4
      • 1 Tbsp. Grapeseed or Olive Oil
      • 4 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
      • 2 cup Macadamia Nuts, coarsely chopped
      • Salt to Taste
      • Squeeze of Lemon
      1. Rinse and pat dry the fillets on both sides. 
      2. You can either bake the fish in a preheat 425 ºoven for 10-15 minutes, or you can add a splash of oil to a non-stick skillet to cook at medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes a side, depending on how thick the fillets. Combine the macadamia nuts, Parmesan cheese and salt. 
      3. Place the halibut fillets on a baking sheet, or cook stove top in a flat-bottomed skillet large enough cook two to four fillets at a time . 
      4. Before I pat the macadamia mixture onto the halibut fillets, I brush oil on both sides (or you can brush on egg). 
      5. Pressing the mixture lightly to make it adhere. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the fish is opaque all the way through or cook on the stove top/ Since the crust is loosely patted onto the fish, turn gently. 
      6. When flipped to the other side, you can add any remaining crust mixture on top. 
      7. Add a thin slice of lemon and squeeze a little lemon juice and cracked pepper (optional) over all.
      Serves 4

      What's Your Curry?

      Green curry is sublime with chicken, seafood and/or vegetables. If you're not in a hurry, make your own homemade curry. It will have more flavor and aroma than what you can find at the market.

      Take your time to enjoy the process of cooking and enjoying the taste of Thai.


      Green Curry Paste
      • 15 to 20 Thai Green Chili Peppers
      • 2 stalks Lemon Grass, chopped
      • 3 Shallots, thinly sliced
      • 1 clove Garlic, chopped
      • 1 tablespoon chopped Kha*
      • 1 tablespoon chopped Kaffir Lime
      • 1/2 teaspoon Coriander
      • 1/2 teaspoon Caraway Seed
      • 1/2 teaspoon Fish Sauce
      • 1 tablespoon Sugar or a mild Honey
      • 1/2 teaspoon Shrimp Paste (optional)
      • 2 tablespoons Oil
      Check with your local Asian market for Thai Peppers, Kha, Kaffir Lime, Fish Sauce and Shrimp Paste.

      * Kha, also know as galangal or laos, looks similar to ginger, but has lighter, flesh and a different flavor than ginger. It is available fresh in selected Asian grocery stores. Fresh kha can be frozen to make it last longer. It is also available in dried slices and in powder. Dried kha should be soaked in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
        What's Your Curry? Prawns and Vegetables:

        • 2 tablespoons Grapeseed Oil, for stir-frying the vegetables
        • 1 large Onion
        • 2 stalks of Celery
        • 1-2 Carrots
        • 2 cups chopped Green Leafy Vegetable
        • 4 large Mushrooms
        • 1 13.5 ounce can of Coconut Milk
        • 3/4-1 lb. Prawns, pre-cooked and peeled
        • 1-2 cups Bamboo Shoots and/or Water Chestnuts, thin-sliced (optional) (comes in 4-ounce cans)


        • Blend all the Curry Paste ingredients together using a mortar and pestle. Use in the recipe according to taste.
        • Thinly slice the Vegetables; julienne the Celery and Carrots.
        • Remove the tails from the Prawns, rinse and let drain.
        • This dish can also be served over a bed of white Rice or Noodles. Cook and have ready to serve by the time you are done cooking the curry dish.


        1. In a large wok, on high heat, add the oil, then the assorted vegetables. Toss gently and continually.
        2. When the vegetables are almost tender, stir in the Green Curry Paste.
        3. Add all of the Coconut Milk and more Curry Paste, to taste.
        4. 1-2 minutes before serving, add the Prawns and lightly toss to warm through.
        5. Serve in wide bowls and garnish with a spring of fresh Basil.
        Serves 2-4

        My All-Time Favorite Cream of Zucchini Soup

        As soon as you harvest zucchini from your garden patch, make up a batch of this soup.  It has great flavor and is a wonderful soup to enjoy year-round!


        3 cups sliced Zucchini (4 small OR 1 lb.)
        1/2 cup water
        1 tablespoon Instant Minced Onion (or fresh onion very finely minced)
        1 teaspoon Season-All (McCormicks)
        1/2 teaspoon Parsley Flakes or finely minced Fresh Parsley
        2 teaspoons Chicken or Vegetable Stock Base
        2 tablespoons Butter
        2 tablespoons Flour (for gluten-free, use rice flour or potato starch to thicken)
        1/8 teaspoon White Pepper
        1/4 teaspoon Bon Appetit (McCormicks)
        1 cup Milk
        1/2 cup Light Cream
        Sour Cream, to top
        Paprika, to garnish

        If you have fresh onion and parsley on hand, use it rather than the dried.


        1. In a medium-size pot, combine zucchini, water, onion, Season-All, parsley flakes and 1 teaspoon of the stock base.
        2. Cook until zucchini is tender and very little water is left.
        3. Put the zucchini mixture in a sieve to mash, or puree in a blender (my preference).
        4. In a medium-size sauce pan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, remaining stock base, pepper, MSG and Bon Appetit; blend well.
        5. Stir in the milk and light cream. Simmer, stirring until it thickens.
        6. Stir in the zucchini mixture and thoroughly blend. If the soup is thicker than you prefer, add more milk until it is the consistency you like.
        7. Serve the cream of zucchini soup with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with paprika.
        Makes 4 Cups

        Recipe from McCormick's 1978 Spices of the World Cookbook.

        Moroccan Sweet Potato & Raisin Salad

        I love this salad - a flavorful, ethnic side dish to complement your Thanksgiving Dinner!



        1 lb. Sweet Potatoes
        5 oz. Raisins soaked in water
        1 Tbsp. of Honey
        Pinch each of Saffron, Turmeric Powder,
        1/4 tsp. each of Salt and Pepper
        1/2 tsp. of Cinnamon
        Note: Adjust seasonings to taste as you are cooking.
        Water, about a pint
        2-3 Tbps. of Olive Oil

        1. Peel the Sweet Potatoes, and cut into 1" cubes.
        2. Cook on medium heat; put the Olive Oil in the pan.
        3. Add the Sweet Potatoes and along with all the Spices.
        4. Cover with Water, and cover the pan; cook for 20 minutes - making sure there is always enough water in the pan.
        5. Drain the Raisins from their Water and add to the Sweet Potatoes.
        6. Add the Honey and stir, adding a little bit more of Water.
        7. Taste the Sauce in the pan and see if it need any adjustment to the flavor.
        8. Cover the pan, and let it cook for 10 minutes more to carmelized the sauce.
        9. To make sure the Sweet Potatoes are ready, poke them with a fork - they should be soft.
        10. This Moroccan salad can be served either hot or cold.
        Note: I learned to make this dish from Alia.

        Tuesday, November 17, 2009

        Quiching in the Dark

        Everything went black. It had been a cold and blustery evening. Maybe the wind caused a tree to fall across our power line; no one knows for sure. While the quiches were waiting for the wall-oven to come up to temperature, the whole house went pitch black. So black that we had to grope our way around the room to find the drawer with the lighter and the door to the laundry pantry where our candles and lanterns were shelved.

        My husband reminded me that our commercial oven runs on propane, so all was not lost. By the glow of lanterns and with me holding the flashlight, he got down on his hands and knees and lit  the pilot light, then set the oven to pre-heat to 425-degrees. With a glass of pinot noir in hand, we sat by the glow and warmth of the fire to wait. Quiching in the dark and eating fashionably late turned out to be quite lovely under the circumstances. The quiches turned out perfect! Photo made possible  with fluorscent lamplight (blue cast), flashlight and white paper to bounce more light on the subject....

        Bavaria Mills in Vancouver Washington makes specialty baked goods, including 9-inch gluten-free pie crusts. The pastry is made with white rice flour, palm oil, brown rice vinegar, eggs, chickpea flour, potato starch, water, rice vinegar, Xylitol, salt and xanthan gum. Quite good!

        We picked the chanterelles ourselves in the woods near our home, but that story will be one of my next blog posts. Here is my recipe for "Quiching in the Dark" Chanterelle and Feta Quiche:


        1-1/3 cup chanterelle mushrooms, coarsely chopped
        1/3 cup scallions (not green onions), finely chopped
        1 clove garlic, minced
        1/2 cup feta cheese
        6 eggs
        1/2 cup cream or Half & Half
        1 pie crust
        olive oil or butter for sauteing 
        sea salt, a pinch

        1. Lightly saute the onion, garlic and chanterelles for a couple of minutes in a little olive oil or butter. Let cool.
        2. Whisk the eggs and cream together.
        3. Fill the pie crust first with 1/2 of the feta cheese, followed by the mushroom saute and the remaining feta.
        4. Pour the egg and cream mixture over all and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt, some fine Parmesan cheese and paprika over the top.
        5. Bake in a pre-heated 425-degree oven for 20-30 minutes; until set like a custard. If the center remains a little too liquid, turn off the oven and let the quiche set; check in 5-minute intervals.
        I recommend not adding herbs or spices, as the delicate flavor of the chanterelles along with the tang of the feta are wonderful to experience without overpowering the taste with aromatic ingredients.  

        Serves 2-4

        Monday, November 16, 2009

        Raw Cranberry Relish

        Sunday afternoon was our November "Rawking Lane County" Potluck. My raw cranberry relish was a hit. I brought small, biodegradable serving cups along and made up a number of them with a large dollop of Nancy's vanilla yogurt in the bottom topped with the relish. Others enjoyed it plain... although far from plain, this particular cranberry relish bursts with raw goodness and flavor!

        I have a standard KitchenAid, but I don't have a food grinding attachment. However, my next door neighbors do; they have an industrial KitchenAid. Fortunately, their metal grinder fits my mixer perfectly. Using a food grinder, this recipe took me less than a half hour to make and clean up was easy!

        When I returned home from our gathering, I made a second batch, dividing the mixture between two quart-size freezer bags and now have them in the freezer until a day or two before Thanksgiving. I'll let the cranberry relish slow-thaw in the refrigerator, until I'm ready to serve it.

        Preparation time: 15-30 minutes.


        * 2 cups washed raw cranberries (I use a whole 12 ounce bag)
        * 2 skinned and cored tart apples (I leave the skins on)
        * 1 large, whole (peel ON) seedless orange, cut into sections
        * 1 to 2 cups granulated sugar (depending on taste; I like it best with 1-1/4 cups)


        1. Set up the grinder with a medium-sized blade on the edge of a table with a large roasting pan or bowl to catch the mix as it grinds. These old fashioned grinders tend to leak some of the juice down the grinder base, so you may want to set up an additional pan on the floor under the grinder to catch the drips. If you don't have an old-fashioned grinder you can use a grinder attachment on a KitchenAid mixer, you can chop by hand (though that will take a lot of work), or you can chop in a food processor (be very careful not to over-pulse, or you'll end up with mush).

        2. Run fruit through a grinder. Use the entire (seedless) orange, peels, pith and all.

        3. Mix in the sugar. Let sit at room temperature until sugar dissolves, about 45 minutes. Store in the refrigerator.

        Makes about 3 cups.

        Thanks, Tom! Enjoy!

        Saturday, November 14, 2009

        Saturday's Omelet, the Perfect Omelet and Cracking an Egg with One Hand

        Typically my omelets are light and fluffy. This morning I left the heat on a little to high to start and browned the underside (outside). Despite a bit of overcooking, not what I call the "perfect omelet", it still turned out moist and delicious. Made with three eggs with a splash of water, I cooked the omelet in a little olive oil and filled the center while it was runny on top with a large pinch of sea salt, a dash of cayenne pepper, chopped and sauteed garlic, chantrelles, scallions, orange and yellow peppers, sour cream and avocado. I let it cook from the bottom up. No lid. On the side I served a dollop of Tuong Ot Toi Viet-Nam Chili Garlic Sauce.

        Try this technique for making the perfect omelet: 
        1. Crack three eggs in a bowl and beat until thoroughly mixed with a splash of milk or water. 
        2. Pour into a lightly oiled, oven-proof stainless omelet pan at room temperature; slow cook on medium heat on a stove top burner (gas or electric). 
        3. Roll the pan occasionally to see how it's cooking on the bottom. 
        4. While still a little runny on top, add your filling ingredients and shredded cheese. 
        5. Next, place the omelet in a pre-heated oven set to broil for two minutes. 
        6. Be sure to have your oven mitt on when pulling your omelet out of the oven by the handle. 
        7. Because you oiled your pan well, the omelet should slip right out and fold over. 
        8. Garnish the top if you like with herbs, and add a dollop of sour cream, sauce, salsa or another condiment and serve hot.

          I had hoped to share a link to an article by Tom Barkin of Slow Food Eugene and freelance writer. The archived article is unavailable, but here is an excerpt from the full article Tom sent me, written for The Register Guard and published on March 19, 2009:

          Eggs a la perfection - The simplest of dishes can be the most difficult to get just right; with eggs, start with the farm. 
           "Ah! The perfect fried egg. Picture it sitting on a warmed plate amidst freshly buttered toast and crisp, salty bacon. Steam rises from the cup of coffee sitting nearby. The morning paper lies within reach, waiting to be read. The vision calls up moments of peacefulness and indulgence.

          Or, consider the hard-cooked egg that for some inspires religious fervor. Visualize the Easter experience of some Christians for whom hard-boiled, red-dyed eggs symbolize the promise of eternal life. Or, consider Jews sitting at the Passover Seder table discussing the egg as a symbol of life, Biblical sacrifices in the Temple, the infinite nature of God, or springtime and rebirth.

          Even the raw egg can engender vehement argument and protest. One can imagine the theologian and the scientist debating passionately whether the egg preceded the chicken or vice versa.
          Eggs can do that for people. Some people, that is.

          For others, eggs spur moments of culinary obsession. Those are my people...." Tom Barkin

            Video: How to impress your foodie friends - Cracking an egg with one hand:

            Slow Food - Eugene

            Thursday night, we attended our local Slow Food convivium's annual fall members' meeting and potluck at Eugene's Garden Club on High Street. What a turnout (I overheard a headcount of 75) and what a feast!

            Thanks to the generosity of our kids, we were able to shop while we were in town earlier in the afternoon for fresh ingredients and baked a double batch of our Vegetable Strata in their oven in Springfield, as our kitchen was 20-miles away from our destination. Other members and guests contributed an array of fabulous entrees, side dishes and desserts. Fortunately for me, many of them were gluten-free and vegetarian! We filled our plates to overflowing with the bounty of colorful, savory and sweet foods made with mostly produce, meats and products grown or produced by members and bought from local natural foods markets: Polenta Pie, Homemade Bread Bowl filled with Cheese in Brie with Shitake Mushrooms, Kale and Quinoa Salads, Vegan and Mushroom Farro Soups, Lemon Chicken with Garlic Potatoes, Pizza, Yukon Potatoes with wild Mushrooms and Apples, Scalloped Potatoes and Potatoes (with milk and sour cream from chef's cow), Neapolitan Ragu,Vegetarian Pesto Salad, Beet Risotto, Carrot Date Nut Muffins, Hazelnut Tarts, Berry Cobbler and much more....

            Members bring their own eating and serving utensils, plates and bowls, cups and goblets, beverage of choice and a potluck dish to share with the group to all gatherings. We enjoyed the evening with our new friends and members John Karlik and Lynn Cosby of Good Food Easy, a CSA located in Creswell, Oregon, who graciously shared their soup spoons and wine with us.

            Education is an important feature of Slow Food gatherings. This evening was no exception. After introductions and announcements Tom Barkin awarded checks to several non-profits from fund-raising events this past year. We heard from Jim Crane about the Time for Lunch initiative - "It's time to provide America's children with REAL FOOD at school."  and the School Garden Project:

            We also enjoyed learning about the Farm to Table Program and the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition. Nicki Maxwell explained the Seed Ambassador program and introduced Seed Ambassadors Sareh Kleeger and Andrew Steel of AdaptiveSeeds to share their seed saving story with us.

            I hope you will be inspired to find a local chapter of Slow Food near you! Contact Slow Food USA.

            About the Eugene Convivium

            Slow Food Eugene: "The Willamette Valley Convivium was established in 2000 by Nonie Fish, food writer, restaurant reviewer, and cooking instructor. In 2002, a leadership board was established to sponsor educational events, form partnerships with other local organizations, and coordinate with Slow Food USA. Slow Food Eugene is a vibrant and diverse convivium whose members include restaurateurs, food purveyors, farmers, educators, and committed food-and-wine lovers from all walks of life.
            Eugene, Oregon is located at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. Eugene and the surrounding areas of Lane County are recognized centers of small-scale sustainable agriculture. Our markets overflow with organically raised vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat, poultry, and cheeses. Local wineries produce award-winning pinot noir, pinot gris, and many other varieties. The nearby Pacific Ocean provides the finest seafood. The Cascade and Coast Range mountains offer fish, game, and mushrooms. Slow Food Eugene is dedicated to the celebration and preservation of this bountiful heritage through events, education, and political action.

            Membership: Interested individuals and families are also encouraged to join Slow Food USA, the parent organization, to support the important goals of the national and international Slow Food movement and receive Slow Food publications."