Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vanilla Balsamic Vinaigrette

You know what's really fun? When a friend beats down your door and says "taste this and help me replicate it!". The dish in question was a cobb salad from a local gluten free restaurant, but it was not the salad that was giving my friend fits. No, it was the dressing. We tasted and tinkered and tasted again, and eventually came up with something very close to the original. Surprisingly, I tasted vanilla in the original's interesting and very simple, but it works. I actually like the dressing as a dip for wedges of iceberg lettuce. I sent my friend home with the recipe we came up with and then told her to tinker with it some more and post her version on her blog. I'll link to it when she does (yes, M, that's a nudge to you!).

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (Modena or white - both are good)
1 tbsp. agave nectar
scant 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
8 tbsp. light olive oil or canola oil

Place the vinegar, agave and vanilla in a blender. Turn the blender on and and slowly add the oil in a thin stream. When the oil is incorporated, turn off the blender - the dressing will have thickened slightly. Serve over salad or let the kids try it as a dip for chicken nuggets. Store in the refrigerator up to a week.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chipotle Shredded Pork

Here's another recipe featuring chipotles in adobo sauce! I begged this off my friend, who throws in a whole can of chipotles into this dish. I use half that amount because I just can't take that much heat. Serve over rice and with sliced avocados or guacamole, which will help cut the heat. Believe it or not, this is great served on a hot summer day. The kids will not go anywhere near this dish, but DH and I love it!

one 3 pound pork loin
one 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14 oz. can tomato puree
1 large onion, sliced
1 tbsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
one 7 oz. can chipotles in adobo sauce

Combine the crushed tomatoes through the chipotles in a crock pot. Place the pork in the crock pot, turning to cover with the tomato mixture. Cook with pork fat side up on low 8 - 10 hours. Turn off the heat. With two forks, shred the pork into the sauce. Serve with rice or tortillas, avocado and shredded Daiya cheddar cheese.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Successful Gluten Free Vegan Cake!

The other day was Megan's birthday. All her 5 year old little heart wanted for her birthday was a doll, a dress, and a chocolate birthday cake. I was sweating bullets thinking about making her an egg-free cake. I tried last weekend to modify a cake recipe (Ina's, which looks delicious, flopped for me when I tried to replace the eggs and it went in the trash, ugh). This weekend I decided to hang up my hat and look at an actual gluten free and vegan cookbook. No Swedish Chef for me this time. I needed some serious help. This egg free baking is really hard.

With much skepticism, I decided to trust the Flying Apron. I was skeptical because she uses chickpea flour in her cakes and so far, I've had bad luck using chickpea flour successfully in cake or quick bread recipes. She also uses no starch flours, which was surprising because everything I've read about baking gluten free dictates the use of several flours, including starch flours, to mimic wheat flour. But she has a bakery and I don't, so I decided to take on her Dark Chocolate Cake.

In addition to there being chickpea flour, and no starch flour, there was a heckava lot of liquid in this cake recipe - lots of oil, water and maple syrup. I crossed my fingers and made two changes - I added xanthan gum and used half maple syrup and half agave nectar. And I could not believe my eyes - the cake behaved. It was light and springy! It was not soggy or gummy! I could handle it gently without it cracking! The three layers stacked nicely and frosted well. And then I served it.

I cannot even describe to you the silence that befell everyone as they dug into their slice of cake. The kids made absolutely no sound at all. We had to ask a couple of times how they liked the cake before we got a short "we like it" with an undertone of "leave me alone I'm inhaling cake" to their response. My friend, who is honest above reproach, told me that this was hands-down the best cake I've ever made (and I've made many).

In short, this cake is impossibly delicious, sinfully rich, mind-bogglingly fabulous. If you need to be baking gluten free and vegan as I do, then you really need this cookbook if only for this cake recipe. I can't wait to try other recipes, including breads. And now I can't wait to experiment on my own - I'll bet it's the starch flours that are the evil bedevilling my egg-free cakes conversions!

I leave you with a series of pictures of Megan's birthday cake. It was fabulous, a humongous success. I look forward all day to a slice of this cake after dinner. It really needs to leave the house before I pack on any weight! Anna has a birthday coming up soon and I don't need to be working off Megan's birthday cake when another birthday rolls around!

Oh and lastly, I was very pleased with the frosting. My friend made corn-free powdered sugar for me - it's been a year since I've had frosting! This was really good - fluffy, and the color was pretty. I ran out of cocoa so I used Ghiradelli Hazelnut Hot Cocoa and hazelnut milk to make the frosting, with a generous splash of vanilla extract, and it turned out great. Megan was very happy with her cake. Hooray!

Hazelnut Milk Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup dairy free, soy free margarine, such as Earth Balance
1/2 cup Ghiradelli Hazelnut Hot Cocoa
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
hazelnut milk

In a large bowl, add the margarine, cocoa, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and a splash of hazelnut milk. Beat the living daylights out of it with an electric handheld beater. For some reason, I'm finding the handheld makes fluffier frosting than my Kitchen Aid. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar at a time to this mix, beating constantly, with enough hazelnut milk to make a firm spreadable frosting, scraping down the sides as needed. If you have kids, let them lick the beaters!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spicy Chipotle Steaks with Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I love Adobo Sauce. I'd eat it straight with a spoon if it didn't burn a hole through my tongue. Even though I buy the small cans of chipotles in adobo, I never use them all and I hate throwing the leftovers away. So here's a recipe designed to go together to reduce chipotle waste. If you have any leftover chipotles and adobo sauce, use them in this black bean soup!

Spicy Chipotle Steaks

6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano
4 chipotles chilies in Adobo Sauce, minced
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. black pepper
6 tbsp. olive oil

4 steaks, such as NY strip

Mix together the garlic through the olive oil and pour into a gallon sized plastic ziplock bag. Add the steaks and marinate for at least an hour . Remove the steaks from the bag and grill, about 5 minutes per side depending on how thick they are and how you like them. Discard leftover marinade. Serve steaks immediately with the Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp. dairy free, soy free margarine
2 tbsp. Adobo Sauce, or to taste

Peel and cut the potatoes into 8 pieces. Steam about 10 minutes, or until soft. Drain any water from the potatoes. Add the chicken broth and the margarine and mash well with a potato masher. Stir in the Adobo Sauce to taste. Serve alongside the steaks.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies (Gluten Free & Vegan)

(If you don't need to be egg free, see these chocolate chip cookie recipes
here and here.)

Let me be honest with you. I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around my new vegan baking reality. I was okay with baking gluten free. After getting used to the way gluten free flours behaved, it was all good. And baking casein and soy free is no biggie. But it's a lot harder to replace eggs in baked goods. Bread turned out to be good (eternal thanks to Heather for suggesting a gelatin substitute), and so far quick breads are turning out to be good (recipes to follow soon). But cookies have been another thing completely, and I'm afraid to tackle cakes altogether - which I have to get over, as Megan celebrates a birthday next week.

In my mournful egg-free inertia, I ran across Gluten Free Gobsmacked's recipe for Chocolate Chip and Tahini Cookies. They looked really good, and they looked like they might take to being vegan fairly well. So I made a couple of changes and gave them a try. Well let me tell you, these cookies rock my kitchen. They taste awesome, they freeze well, they stay chewy without hardening. In a word, they are perfect. Thank you, Kate, for posting the original recipe and for giving me permission to post my changes. I'm so happy to have a good chocolate chip cookie recipe that my whole family can enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies

2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
generous 1 tsp. baking powder
generous 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup brown sugar
scant 1/2 cup casein free, soy free margarine (such as Earth Balance)
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract

10 - 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (casein and soy free, such as Enjoy Life)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, set aside.

Whisk together the flour through the salt, set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the margarine and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the almond butter, applesauce and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix until well-blended. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop the cookies by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between them. Bake about 10 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit on the baking sheet 1 minute before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: about 2 dozen.

*I like my cookies soft and chewy. If you like your cookies crispy, increase the margarine to a full 1/2 cup and decrease the flour by 1/4 cup.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

This velvety vegan chocolate pudding is made with avocados. And prunes. Yes, you read that right. I don't know how else to preface this recipe other than to say it's really good. The original recipe is by Rice of Life . ( I used prunes because they are easier to find than dates). My girls cannot get enough of this pudding, which is great because it's the only way either of them gets prunes or avocados (which they are clueless about, of course). You can't taste them. It tastes like really rich chocolate pudding, and not at all like avocados or prunes. I'm really not lying, this pudding is fabulous. Because avocado is a natural emulsifier, there is no need to thicken this pudding with starch. It's really fast to make too, it all comes together in the food processor in no time - no cooking or chilling required!

1/2 cup prunes
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and chopped
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup good quality cocoa (such as Penzey's Natural Cocoa Powder)
1/2 - 2/3 cup water

Soak the prunes in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and place in a food processor. Add the maple syrup, avocados and vanilla extract. Process until smooth, about a minute. Add the cocoa and process to combine. With the food processor running, add 1/2 cup water. Scrape down the sides and add more water (up to 2/3 cup) as needed to reach an airy consistency. Enjoy immediately, or chill for later. Serves 6.