Posts Tagged ‘Gluten-free’

I love the farmer’s market and I’m lucky to live in a town with a great one. It’s such fun to bike downtown and spend a leisurely morning browsing through all the fresh produce and wonderful specialty artisan foods offered by the vendors. All that beautiful food is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate!


Among other treasures, I found some beautiful english peas when I was shopping there recently. Impulsively, I bought a pound, without a plan. Once I got home, I spent the rest of the afternoon leafing through cookbooks, looking for inspiration, and, of course, shelling the peas.

Lucky for me, I had some great help. Morgan helped me release all those sweet orbs from their pods, even though it was tricky sometimes. For future reference, a pound of english peas yields about 2 cups of shelled peas.

I decided to make a fresh pea risotto, with a hint of lemon, and just a bit of salty ham (or proscuitto, if you care to upgrade). It was a good choice, as it highlighted the sweet grassy flavor of the peas without overwhelming them, and still was filling and satisfying as a main dish for supper.

If you find some of these beauties at the market, spare some for this lovely meal.

Spring Pea Risotto


1 1/2 cups arborial rice

4 1/2 – 5 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade, but good store-bought will do)

1/2 cup white wine

1 large shallot, diced fine

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup fresh peas

One lemon, zest and juice

An ounce or two of ham, or proscuitto, if you have it

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

2-3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chives and/or mint, chopped fine  (You could use any or all of these, I had all 3 in my herb garden.)


In a saucepan, bring chicken stock to simmer and keep on the back burner while you work on the risotto.

In another saucepan, sauté the shallots in the olive oil for a minute, then add the rice.  Stir, and let the rice cook over medium high for another minute or two, being careful not to burn.  Add the white wine, and stir until it is mostly absorbed.

Ladleful by ladleful, add the stock to the rice, each time cooking and stirring gently, as it is absorbed.  Keep the risotto covered in a film of stock, so it does not dry out.  It’s not necessary to stand at the stove stirring constantly, but don’t walk away from the pot for long.  Total time from the first ladleful to the rice being done is 18-20 minutes.  At the half-way point, throw in the peas and ham or proscuitto.  When you are getting close to the end of the cooking, and you’ve used up most of your stock, add the zest and juice from the lemon. When you taste the risotto at this point, the rice should be still slightly chewy, and possess a lovely creaminess. Add the parmesan, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper to your taste.

I served this with steamed asparagus and a glass of chilled, crisp sauvignon blanc.


Read Full Post »

It’s hot.

The last thing I want to do is heat up the kitchen, or eat a big plate of steaming food.

At times like this, I know the perfect food — gazpacho! It’s cool and delicious and absolutely positively guilt-free.

Like anything, it’s best made with fresh-from-the-garden produce and herbs, but I often am in the mood for it before it’s harvest time for tomatoes and cucumbers here in Colorado. So, I will let you in on a little secret. You can make this any time of year, and it’s still really good. Not quite as amazing as it is when tomatoes are ripe and luscious, but how long does that last, anyway? You can enjoy gazpacho tonight!


Janet’s Pretty Good Gazpacho


46 oz. tomato juice

2 lbs. or one large can crushed tomatoes

3 stalks celery, diced fine

1 1/2 bell pepper, diced fine

2 cucumbers, seeded and diced fine

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Fresh basil and/or tarragon, chopped, to taste

1/4 cup minced red onion

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Dash of ground cumin

Dash of cayenne or tabasco, if you like a little heat


Combine all ingredients in very large bowl. Combine thoroughly. Ladle some of the soup into a blender and puree. How much? You decide. You can puree it all, if you want a smooth soup, but I prefer chunks of vegetables suspended in a soup with some body, so I puree about a third to a half of the soup. You could leave it unblended, if you like the dark red color and lots of chunks.

Chill thoroughly and serve.

Read Full Post »

Meatloaf is classic midwestern comfort food, one of America’s favorite dishes. I’ve heard it said that one should never eat anyone’s meatloaf except your mother’s. But, then again, not every mother makes great meatloaf. My mom made perfectly serviceable meatloaf, but the recipe is lost to posterity, which never seemed like a great tragedy, honestly.

I wasn’t really looking for a meatloaf recipe when, years ago, a friend enthusiastically shared this healthy version of the traditional dish. It’s moist and tasty, and hits those basic comfort food notes. While this meatloaf is not gourmet fare, we like it enough that it makes it into our family meal rotation with some regularity.  It has the benefit of being low fat, and having a good amount of vegetables in it, but in such small bits that even my persnickety 8 year old doesn’t mind.

I bet my mom would like it, too.

Turkey Meatloaf

Makes 2 loaves (each about 6 servings).


1 cup onion

3/4 cup carrot

1/2 cup celery

1/2 cup red pepper

2 cloves garlic

2 1/2 lbs ground turkey (93% lean)

1 cup oats

1/3 cup ketchup

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander

2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)


Whirl onion, garlic, carrot, celery and bell pepper together in food processor until finely chopped.

Sauté vegetables in 2 tsp. canola oil until tender.   Set aside.

In large bowl combine remaining ingredients. Add cooled vegetables and mix well.

Grease 2 (9″x 5″) loaf pans.

Fill with meat mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes.

Top with mixture of 1/3 cup ketchup and 3 Tbsp. brown sugar.

Bake additional 30 minutes.

Nutrition Information, per serving:  192 calories, 8.6 g fat, (2.4 g sat fat), 100 mg cholesterol, 21 g protein, 356 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 1.3 g fiber, 3.2 g sugar, 45.5 mg calcium.

Read Full Post »

Lemon Bars, two ways

Lemon bars are a classic cookie, and often show up at bake sales and coffee shops. But I am frequently disappointed, and perhaps because I’ve been spoiled. Too often, I’ve bit into one, hoping for that contrast of sweet and sour, creamy and crisp, only to get a mouthful of limp and pasty. Yuck.

In my opinion, a good lemon bar depends on an outstanding, lemony topping on a cookie crust that is buttery and just firm enough to support the layer of lemon curd on top.  And this recipe, from the incomparable Rose Levy Berenbaum, never fails to deliver. Once you try her lemon curd topped shortbread, you’ll never go back.

Even though I know better than to tamper with perfection, I recently experimented with a gluten-free version, with very good success. Since gluten is what makes a tough cookie tough, traditional shortbread recipes try to minimize it. So, making a shortbread cookie base with gluten-free flours seemed like a natural, and was almost as good as the original.

Both recipes start with homemade lemon curd, which is cooked on the stove and then poured over the baked shortbread base. This is what distinguishes quality lemon bars from the inferior types, which rely in adding flour to the lemon topping and having it thicken in the oven.

I usually double the lemon curd recipe, to have extra on hand, because this stuff is just so good. It’s great on scones for breakfast or tea-time, or, as my British friend Michael confesses, just spread on toast. Personally, I like to just lick it off a spoon. Makes me pucker up just thinking about it…

adapted from Rose’s Christmas Cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Prepare 8″x8″ baking pan, by lining with an 8″ x 16″ piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. (This makes it easy to remove the bars from the pan without breaking.)

Traditional shortbread base:


8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (6.25 oz.)

Alternative Gluten-free shortbread base:


8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 cup rice flour

Directions for either shortbread base:

Cut the butter into 1 inch cubes, wrap and refrigerate.

In a food processor with the metal blade, process the sugars for 1 minute or so, until the sugar is very fine. Add the butter and pulse in until the sugar disappears. Add the flour and pulse in until there are a lot of little moist crumbly pieces and no dry flour particles remain.

Dump the mixture into a plastic bag and press it together. Remove the dough from the bag and knead it lightly until it holds together.

Pat the dough into the prepared pan. Use a fork to prick the dough all over. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the top is pale golden (do not brown).

While the shortbread is baking, prepare the Lemon Curd.

Lemon Curd

Makes 1 cup, enough for one 8″x8″ pan of lemon bars


4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

3 fl. ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 2 or 3 lemons)

Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

pinch of salt


In a heavy noncorrodible saucepan, beat the yolks and sugar until well blended. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, except the lemon zest. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened enough to thickly coat a wooden spoon, but still liquid enough to pour. The mixture will change from translucent to opaque and begin to take on a yellow color. It must not be allowed to boil or it will curdle. Whenever steam appears, remove briefly from heat, stirring constantly, to keep from boiling. When the curd has thickened, pour at once through a strainer into a heat-proof bowl or Pyrex measuring cup. Press with the back of a spoon until only coarse residue remains. Discard the residue. Stir in the lemon zest.

If using to top lemon bars, pour over shortbread crust at this point. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Return pan to oven and bake for additional 10 minutes.

Cool the lemon curd topped shortbread completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes to set the lemon curd completely before cutting into bars. Place some powdered sugar in a strainer and tap the strainer to sprinkle a thick, even coating, entirely covering the lemon.

Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pan and the pastry on the 2 sides without the aluminum foil. Use the foil to life out the lemon curd covered shortbread onto a cutting surface. Use a long, sharp knife to cut the shortbread into even pieces. Wipe the blade after each cut.

The powdered sugar will start to be absorbed into the lemon curd after several hours, but it can be reapplied before serving. Or, better yet, don’t sprinkle them with sugar until shortly before you are ready to serve.

Keeps up to 3 weeks, refrigerated.

Note: If saving the lemon curd for other uses, pour into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. The curd will continue to thicken while it chills. Store it in the refrigerator. It will keep quite a while, but the flavor will dull a bit after three weeks. Mine never lasts that long.

Read Full Post »

Lamb has become our “go-to” meat when company is coming for dinner.  It’s tasty, it’s local, and it’s a bit uncommon. In fact, most of our guests either have never had lamb, or are a bit wary. Sometimes they have bad memories of dried out lamb with gooey mint jelly, or maybe they’re thinking of how cute the little guys are. In every case, though, we win them over and they leave our table converts to the delights of eating properly cooked lamb.

Lamb can be grilled with great success, but this weekend I made a delicious stew, with Moroccan spices, apricots and garbanzo beans. Like any stew, the work is front-loaded. You do all your prep, get it cooking, and then go about your day, maybe getting ready for guests, while it bubbles away and comes together into sweet spicy goodness on your stove.

I like to serve this with couscous flavored with chopped mint, toasted slivered almonds, and grated lemon zest. Lightly steamed green beans provide a touch of contrast, and a full-bodied red wine like Shiraz or Malbec is a fine complement.

Note: Shoulder is a good cut for stew, but I’ve had success with leg of lamb, when shoulder wasn’t available.  A leg is usually close to five pounds, so double the recipe and invite a few more friends.

Serves 6.

Adapted from Bon Appétit


1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 1/2 pounds trimmed lamb, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks

4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

2 cups low-salt chicken broth

15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

1 cup dried apricots (about 5 ounces), halved

15 ounce can diced tomatoes

2 cinnamon sticks

1 Tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

2 teaspoons (packed) grated lemon peel

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add lamb and toss to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add lamb to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally and adding 2 more tablespoons oil to skillet between batches, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to another large bowl after each batch.

Add onion and tomato paste to drippings in skillet. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add broth, garbanzo beans, apricots, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and lemon peel and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Return lamb to skillet and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until lamb is just tender, about 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer lamb and sauce to bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Read Full Post »

“Enough with the sweets already!,” you’re saying.  I understand. It’s time for dinner, and you’re wondering what I’ve got in the light, nutritious and flavorful category. Well, fear not.  I’ve got just the thing — baked tilapia over nutty brown rice, black beans, pineapple and salsa.  How’s that?  You’re welcome.

Adapted from Ingrid Hoffmann


1 cup long grain brown rice

2 cups chicken broth

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Zest of one lime

Juice of one lime

Cilantro, chopped

Salt & Pepper

4 (~6 oz.) tilapia filets

2 cups of your favorite chunky tomato salsa (jarred or homemade), drained

15 oz. can Black Beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups diced pineapple (fresh is best, but canned works in a pinch)

Fresh limes for garnish


Combine rice and chicken broth in a pot.  Bring to boil.  Lower heat to “low” and cover.  Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until rice is tender and broth is completely absorbed.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir together the cooked rice, salsa, beans, and pineapple. Spread in a 9×13 pan or other shallow 2-3 quart casserole dish.

Brush tilapia with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Squeeze lime over the fish and lay the filets over the top of the rice mixture.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Bake until the fish flakes easily, is opaque and cooked through, 25-30 minutes.

Serve with lime slices.

Read Full Post »

I’m not a fan of food that tries to be something it’s not.  For example, I never appreciated tofu hot dogs and tofurkey at Thanksgiving.  There are whole strains of vegetarianism that adopt this approach, I know, but they leave me cold.  You can eat wonderful vegetarian foods, delicious and satisfying in every way, without having it pretend to be meat. Similarly, folks I know who have to eat a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or gluten intolerance enjoy a great variety of tasty and satisfying meals, without having to bake something that pretends to be bread.

Where this approach fails is when one begins to feel deprived, left out, or conspicuously different.  If you’ve grown up eating something that has all sorts of memories and symbolism attached to it, and now can no longer have it in your diet, it’s normal to feel that as a loss.  Food has emotional and cultural power; it’s not just a bunch of nutrients for our body.

So it is that I found myself searching on the internet for recipes for Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls recently.  I’d been invited to Easter Brunch at our good friends’ home, and I had offered to bring sweet rolls.  Two of the guests at the table were gluten-intolerant, including a two year old who would not take kindly to being told “no, you may not have the sweet, gooey, enticing treat that everyone else is having.”  The older guest would presumably have been more gracious, but nonetheless disappointed.  So, I took it upon myself to find an acceptable alternative.

And what I found is that some very creative and determined people had been working on this problem for some time.  If you must be gluten-free, this is a good time to do it.  There are many more options than there were just a few years ago. One particularly great resource is the website, Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, which is where I found this terrific recipe.  Turns out, Gluten Free Girl had been working on finding acceptable cinnamon rolls, making batch after batch, and recently declared these rolls to be “The Cinnamon Rolls of My Dreams.”  Which is pretty high praise, I think.

The dough takes a bit of getting used to — it doesn’t behave quite like a normal gluten-filled dough would.  But her instructions are very clear and helpful, and the rolls turned out to be a convincing facsimile.  Everyone at the table enjoyed them, and no one had to feel deprived.  Which is something to celebrate, any time of year.

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls

Adapted from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef


1 1/2 cups water

3 tablespoons sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons active-dry yeast

4 ounces almond flour (1 1/4 cup)

4 ounces corn flour (3/4 cup)

4 ounces sweet rice flour (3/4 cup)

4 ounces potato starch (2/3 cup)

4 ounces tapioca flour (1 cup)

1 tablespoon xanthan gum

1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup milk powder (we used goat milk powder in this batch)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

Filling for Cinnamon Rolls

4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick or 8 tablespoons)

2/3 cup brown sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

4 tabelspoons cream cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

Activating the yeast. Bring 1 cup of the water to 115°. This is a good temperature for yeast — not too hot, not too cold. If you want to be particular about it, you can use a thermometer to measure the temperature. I like to turn on the tap water and run it over my wrist. When the water feels like the temperature of my skin (with no cold splashes or hot pockets), it’s ready. Mix the water, yeast, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Set it aside to rise, about 15 minutes.

Mixing the dry ingredients. Combine the almond flour, corn flour, sweet rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, and salt together. Whisk them together in a food processor, or in a stand mixer, or with a whisk. Combining them into one flour will help the final cinnamon rolls to be light, rather than dense and lumpy. Add the brown sugar and milk powder. Stir to combine.

Finishing the dough. Bring the remaining 1/2 cup of water to 110°. If you have a stand mixer, move the dry ingredients into the bowl of the stand mixer. (If not, you can make this dough with a hand mixer or by hand.) Turn the mixer on medium-low speed and add the yeasty water, then the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing in between. Mix for a few minutes until the dough comes together. If the dough feels a bit too dry, add the remaining water. (I always seem to need it.) The dough should be soft and a bit shaggy but not soggy. It will NOT be as firm as you expect a gluten dough to be. Instead, you are aiming for pliable and a bit spongy, like a cookie dough.

Yeast doughs will vary in behavior depending on the weather. These measurements are a guide. If you find you need another splash of water to make the dough feel right, then go ahead. If the dough feels too wet (like you need to wipe your hands after touching it), then add a touch more potato starch. Start to trust your instincts.

Letting the dough rise. Move the dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and set the bowl in a warm place in the kitchen. Allow it to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. The dough will have become a bit more pliable, a little more like gluten dough, at this point.

Rolling out the dough. Grab a Silpat (or piece of parchment paper) and lay it on a large baking sheet. Move 1/2 of the dough onto the Silpat and cover it entirely with plastic wrap. Slowly, roll out the dough to the edge of the baking sheet. (You’re rolling out its width, first.) I try to make the dough the width of the rolling pin. Next, spin around the baking sheet and roll out the dough lengthwise. You probably won’t take it as far as the edge. Simply roll it out to about 1/2-inch thick. Take off the plastic wrap.

Making the filling. Melt the butter on the stove, on low heat. Put half the brown sugar, cinnamon, agave nectar, golden raisins, and walnuts onto the rolled-out dough. Drizzle 1/4 of the melted butter on top.

Rolling the dough. Here’s the important part: go slowly. Grab the Silpat on the edge farthest from you and pull it up gently. The edge of the dough should start to roll away from the Silpat and toward the dough. If not, then nudge it with your fingers. Make tight rolls, moving slowly and patting the dough gently as you go. Roll the dough, then press it down with the Silpat, then roll some more, with the dough falling toward you, going slowly. If the filling oozes out as you reach the end, that’s okay. It’s a sign you’re going to have good cinnamon rolls.

(Nothing of this should be about being perfect, anyway.)

Cutting the dough into rolls. Go grab your dental floss. Yes, your dental floss. Cut a long piece of it, longer than two hand widths apart. Slide the piece under the log of dough, then bring the two edges together to cross over the top. By doing this, you should be slicing a piece off the log. This makes for lovely, neat pieces, instead of jagged hunks. Make your way down the log of dough with the dental floss. You should end up with about 8 pieces, with ragged end bits as well.

(Sometimes I bake the ragged ends separately, as little cinnamon swirls. Sometimes I just throw them in.)

Preparing to rise the rolls again. Pour 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into the bottom of a pie pan. Place the sliced rolls into the buttered pan, tightening the rolls if they have begun to unravel. Set them aside to rise.

Repeat this process with the other half of the dough and remaining filling.

Allow the rolls to rise for 1 more hour. Gluten-free doughs do not rise as high as gluten doughs do on the second rise, but they do puff out nicely. It’s worth it.

Baking the rolls. Preheat the oven to 350°. When the oven has come to temperature, slide in both pans. Bake until the rolls fill firm to the touch when you press on both sides of one, but still with some give, about 25 minutes.

Allow the rolls to cool for about 10 minutes, then invert them onto a plate.

Frosting the rolls. Put the butter and cream cheese into a food processor. Whirl them up. While that is mixing, pour in the vanilla extract. Add the powdered sugar in handfuls, looking at the texture of the frosting between batches. It usually takes about 2 cups for frosting to be thick and rich in our food processor, but you may like a different texture. This is only a guide.

Frost the rolls when they have reached room temperature. 

Go at it.

Makes about 15-16 cinnamon rolls.

Read Full Post »