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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Carrot Greens Pesto

Recently I splurged on a bunch of pretty rainbow-colored carrots with beautiful green tops. A friend told me you can use the greens to make pesto, so that's what I decided to do with them instead of feeding the composter. I was afraid the tops would be very bitter, so I scoured the net to find recipes featuring carrot greens. Turns out, you can use them to flavor stocks, accent salads, turn them into soup, and cook them like any other green. You can even use them as a mouthwash. I never knew! Taking a cue from this recipe, I blanched them before turning them into pesto and used cashews* to help offset any bitterness.

The verdict? This pesto is not bitter at all. In fact, it's delicious! It's surprising how much the girls love it! Anna enjoyed hers over spaghetti squash and Megan enjoyed hers stuffed into some celery. I'm doing all sorts of weird stuff lately...sprouting seeds, feeding our composting worms, making pesto out of carrot tops...the girls don't even bat their eyelids anymore. "What are you making, Mom?" "Well, my dears, I'm cooking carrot tops!" "Can we taste?" Awesome.

Carrot Greens Pesto

1 large bunch fresh carrot greens
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 - 4 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup nuts, if desired** (pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews, or sunflower seeds)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Pinch off the feathery fronds of the carrot tops, leaving the stems behind (you can save those for your compost heap or use several to flavor homemade stock). Rinse the carrot greens three times in a water bath to make sure you get rid of all the grit and dirt.

Bring a pot of water to boiling. Add the carrot greens to the water and simmer for a couple of minutes, until the greens are wilted and bright green. Drain and place into a food processor with the garlic, olive oil, water, lemon juice, nuts if desired, salt and pepper. Process until combined, adding more olive oil and/or water to reach your desired consistency (I like my pesto thick). Taste and adjust salt if necessary. Serve and enjoy!

*I've been slowly reintroducing Anna to tree nuts. So far, so good...she is now able to eat hazelnuts and cashews in moderation.

**If you can't do nuts, try adding a little flax meal, 1 or 2 tbsp., to the pesto to help thicken if desired.

Peach Pie Filling

The other day I intended to make peach pie, but I ran out of time. So I threw the filling into a baking dish, topped it with Nut Free Crumb Topping, and baked it at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes and called it dessert. It was so good we called it breakfast the next day, too.

As an aside...supposedly, peaches are easiest to peel when you dunk them into boiling water for a few seconds. The skin is supposed to slip right off. I never understood all the work that goes into that...bringing water to a boil, blanching the peaches, draining them and letting them cool so you can handle them. I think it's easier and faster to take the skins off peaches with a knife - if your peaches are ripe, the skin will peel right off with little effort and nearly no mess.

Peach Pie Filling

8 large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and thickly sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. tapioca flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl and toss them with the lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients, then toss with the peaches. Use the filling for pies, cobblers, crisps, etc.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crock Pot Boston Brown Bread

I grew up with Boston Brown Bread. It is a steamed bread traditionally served with baked beans, but I liked it better served plain for breakfast with butter or cream cheese. I only ever had it from a can (B&M) and for me it was an acquired taste. It was dense and very filling, tasting strongly of wheat and rye and molasses. As is the case with so many other foods I introduce my girls to, I ran across an old recipe for homemade Boston Brown Bread for the crock pot. Not having to turn on the oven in this heat and making bread in the crock pot instead was very appealing. I thought the recipe would convert to being gluten-free and starch-free really well, so I decided to give it a whirl. I'm really happy with the result. The bread is lighter in flavor and texture than I remember the original being and I like the taste much better. The best part is that the girls really like it too. We enjoyed this for breakfast plain, but it'd also be good with Earth Balance margarine or pan-fried in a little bit of coconut oil.


crock pot
three 14.50z metal cans
tin foil
rubber bands or twine

Dry Ingredients
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour* (OR other flour, such as amaranth - see note below)
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup rice bran
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 cup dried currants

Wet ingredients
1 cup rice milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup molasses
about 2 tbsp. agave nectar

First, wash and dry 3 14.5 oz metal cans. Grease the insides well with canola oil or non-stick cooking spray. Cut out three pieces of tin foil to cover the tops of the metal cans and grease one side with canola oil. Have three rubber bands or pieces of twine nearby.

Set a medium pot on the stove full of water and turn the heat on high. Bring it to a boil while you make the bread batter.

In a large bowl whisk together the buckwheat flour through the allspice. Add the currants and toss to coat. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup whisk together the rice milk through molasses. Add enough agave nectar to equal 1 1/2 cups liquid, whisk well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to mix well.

Divide the batter evenly among the metal cans. Do not fill the cans more than 2/3 full. Cover the tops of the cans with the tin foil, greased side down. Secure the tin foil around the top of the cans with rubber bands or twine. Place the cans inside your crock pot and turn to low. Pour the boiling water around the cans and into the crock pot - do not pour the water on top of the cans. Fill the crock pot with water 1/3 to 1/2 full, taking care that the water does not touch the tin foil on the cans. Cover the crock pot with its lid.

Cook on low for 4 hours. Turn off the heat, take off the lid and with a potholder carefully remove the cans to a wire rack. Take off the tin foil and let the bread cool in the cans until cool enough to handle. Then turn the cans upside down and shake a little bit to release the bread from the cans. The bread should slide out easily, if not then run a butter knife between the bread and the can to help loosen. Cool bread completely before slicing.

*Because I used chickpea flour, which acts as a binder, I did not need to add any xanthan gum to my bread. However if you choose to use a different flour, such as amaranth, I recommend adding a little xanthan gum to the recipe.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blueberry Kuchen

Blueberries are on sale! I love blueberries in baked goods and decided to make some blueberry kuchen for breakfast. I decided to follow a Penzey's recipe, which converted to being gluten free and vegan splendidly. It was easy to make, taking only a few minutes to throw together, and the end result is delicious. My pictures don't do it justice.

For this recipe, I decided to replace the egg with So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt and a little baking soda. It was a great choice - the yogurt kept the tart dough moist without being sticky and the finished crumb was perfect. I have very strong feelings about how to replace eggs in my recipes. I really don't believe there is one magic bullet (or even two) to use as a replacement, so I refuse to keep Egg Replacer in the house. I'd rather pick and choose from an arsenal of potential egg replacers based on what they can offer to my baked good. Every recipe is different, every baked good has a different personality. What is the egg doing in the recipe in the first place? Is it for moisture, binding, leavening, thickening, more than one of the above, none of the above?

I like to replace eggs with one or more of these possibilities: bananas, applesauce, prune butter, avocado, yogurt, flax seed gel, chickpea flour, gelatin or pectin and a little extra leavening. Other choices I have not played with (yet) include agar agar and chia seed gel. What I first liked most about gluten-free baking was the flexibility I had with all the different flours - each lends a different taste and texture to the end product. It is the same with replacing eggs. It keeps life really interesting and challenging. I am not a chemist, just a home cook. But I love learning, I love having choices and I love thinking outside the box. It works for me - and this time, yogurt works for this kuchen!

Blueberry Kuchen

1 1/4 cups GF flour blend
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum, if desired
1/4 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt

1/3 cup palm shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 dry pint blueberries, rinsed
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling, if desired

1 tbsp. melted coconut oil
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. GF flour blend
pinch cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour* a 9-inch round cake pan, set aside.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour through the salt, set aside. In a large bowl cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth.

Turn the dough into the prepared pan. Sprinkle a little flour evenly over top of the dough and press with your hands evenly over the bottom of the pan and 1/2 inch up the sides. Spread the blueberries over the bottom of the dough. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of the cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Combine the coconut oil through the cinnamon and stir until smooth. Take this mixture and rub between your fingers to sprinkle it over the blueberries evenly. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges are puffed and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before serving. Serves 6 or 8, depending on how you cut it. Or 4, depending on how hungry your kids are!

*To flour the pan, throw in a tablespoon or so of the gluten free flour blend you are using to make the dough into the pan. Tap lightly along the bottom and over the sides so a thin layer of flour covers the greased areas of the pan. Turn the pan over and tap with your fingers several times to shake loose any excess flour. Greasing and flouring the pan helps to keep the tart from sticking to the pan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

UnSoy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Last week I tried making Gluten Free Gobsmacked's Radish Cakes. I also tried roasting them as she mentioned she'd done. As interesting as these things sounded, I'm just not sure I'm a fan of radishes. However, I am a fan of Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce! I have modified Kate's recipe to be soy-free. The coconut aminos make the sauce taste very slightly like coconut, but it's not distracting. In fact, DH really enjoyed the sauce and he's not soy-free. I'm so happy to have a sauce I can enjoy with sushi, spring rolls, rice, etc. now...I might not miss soy sauce again!

2 tbsp. coconut aminos
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. fish sauce*
1/2 tsp. lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust fish sauce and/or lime juice according to your taste. You can accent this with thinly sliced scallions if you like. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and use within one week.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chipotle Sweet Potato Biscuits

I braved the temperature (hot, hot, hot!) and turned on the oven today to make biscuits. I had leftover mashed sweet potatoes - they gave my biscuits a lovely orange color with a hint of a bite. It was definitely worth it to turn on the oven. We'll have biscuits with dinner tonight and we'll split them tomorrow and enjoy them as sandwiches for lunch. What to use as a filling? I'm thinking sliced bananas and honey!

1 1/2 cups GF flour blend
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
dash cayenne pepper
1/4 cup palm shortening or diary free, soy free margarine
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes mixed with 1 tbsp. adobo sauce* or to taste
rice milk as needed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour through the cayenne pepper. Cut in the shortening or margarine with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Stir in the mashed sweet potatoes. Blend with a fork to make a soft, slightly stiff dough - at first it will look too dry, but keep mixing. The flour should be all incorporated and the dough should be neither sticky nor dry. If it is too dry, add a small splash of rice milk and mix until the dough clumps together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured piece of wax paper and knead a few times until smooth.

Pat the dough into 1/2 inch high square. Cut the dough into 6 or 8 equal pieces.

Place the biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops of the biscuits with a little rice milk. Bake about 15 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Don't have adobo sauce? Try 1/4 tsp. ground chipotle, a dash of salt and a splash of lime juice. Adjust to taste.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Beets from Our Garden

The other day I harvested two medium beets from the garden. For dinner I decided to cook them on the stove top because it's really far too hot to roast them in the oven. They turned out quite good sauteed with garlic, white wine and their leafy green tops. I regret not planting more beets, because they are so delicious! They were also different than what I can buy in the stores - a softer red color and a softer texture (not totally soft, but not rock-hard like I'm used to, either). Next year we'll plant more beets. Hopefully by then I can get the girls to like them, too.

a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
2 medium beets with their green tops
1 or 2 large cloves of garlic, depending on your taste
splash or two of white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Liberate the beets from their leafy green tops (does anybody else watch Posh Nosh?). Wash the greens and chop them coarsely (I like to include the stems as well) and set them aside.

Wash the beets and peel them. Chop them into matchsticks and set aside. Mince the garlic, set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the chopped beets and cook until almost tender, stirring often. Add the white wine when they seem a bit dry. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute. Add the chopped greens and cook until the greens are wilted. Turn off the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 2.