What Life Dishes Out A Gluten Free and (almost) Vegetarian Cooking Blog

July 12, 2010

A Passage To India – Part 1: Spicy Lentil Dal

This recipe came from a good vegetarian and fellow-homeschooling friend of mine, when our families were doing an Indian Feast as part of our Unit Study on the country.   I loved this dish immediately!  I pretty much demanded the recipe and have made it nearly weekly since.  It’s full of so many really good-for-you foods like Turmeric, Garlic, Onion and of course, Lentils.  This versitile dish can be served as your main course over Basmati Rice, or as a spread on freshly baked flatbread, or as a dip for chips! 

What you need:

2-3 cups Vegetable Broth

1 cup dried Lentils, well rinsed

1-2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 Large Onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp Yellow Mustard Seed

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

1/2 tsp Coriander

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

1 Tbsp Tomato Paste

Juice of 1 Lime

What to do:

In a medium saucepan, cook lentils in 2 Cups Vegetable Broth over medium heat until tender. 

While lentils are cooking, chop onion.  There is an easy way to do this:

Cut off stem end of onion.

Then, cut in half from root end to cut end…

…and remove outer skin.

Ooooh…they’re NAKED.

Now, cut in about 1/2 inch slices, but not all the way through to the root end.

Then, turn onion and slice the opposite direction.

Keep going…

TA DAH!  Chopped Onion – quick and easy!

Now, chop garlic. 

I can’t recommend an easy way to do this, but my preferred method is to ask my hubby to do it for me. 

He likes to play with knives anyway, just like my boys.

You can also use a garlic press or even jarred garlic, as those are my two back-up plans in the event he isn’t around and I am feeling too lazy to chop it myself.

I think my favorite step in this recipe is measuring all the wonderful, aromatic spices into a small bowl. 

It always makes me feel as if I’ve created a masterpiece.  Isn’t it pretty?

Now, heat the canola oil in a large skillet, then add the onions and garlic to the pan.

Saute for just a minute or two.  Then, add the spices. 

Warning:  This is going to smell really good.  You may need to grab a quick snack at this point, since this won’t be ready for a while.

Stir the spices around and continue to saute until your onions are translucent.

Then, add the coconut milk, tomato paste and lime juice to the pan.

Then, add the lentils.

It is with the utmost regret that I tell you I don’t have a photo of the remaining steps.

I will get better at remembering to take photos while cooking, I swear.

I just get so carried away with the cooking part to remember the photo-taking part.

I’m just not good at multi-tasking, I guess.

Again, I’m truly sorry.

Okay, so add the cooked lentils and let simmer until thickened.  You actually may have to add some vegetable broth at this point if the lentils have soaked up all the juice.  I usually add about another cup of liquid, and then let simmer until thickened back up.

Save the rest of the vegetable broth in the refrigerator (I buy mine in a 32 oz container) because you are going to need it for tomorrow’s recipe.

Fortunately, I did have sense enough to take a photo before I ate.

The Spicy Lentil Dal is up there between 12 and 3 o’clock, sitting happily atop Brown Basmati Rice, and beside Spicy Green Beans, and Indian Cauliflower.   I’ll be posting those recipes in the next two parts of this series, coming over the next couple days, so please check back!

July 10, 2010

Zucchini Au Gratin

Filed under: Recipes,Sides,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 9:39 am

This is my favorite dish to make with Zucchini.

This is one of the very first things I ever cooked after being married (not counting the burned stew incident), and this is most definitely the very first recipe I ever invented myself.  We’ve been enjoying this great summer Zucchini dish for well…let’s just say…MANY years!

First, slice a large Vidalia (or other sweet) Onion.

Then, slice 2-3 medium to large Zucchini.

Cover bottom of 9 x 13 glass caserole with a layer of Zucchini, overlapping like this:

Follow with a layer of onion rings.

Repeat the process, layering Zucchini and Onion again.

Okay…you caught me!  I used the same photo as above, but you get my drift.

Finish with a layer of Zucchini.

Just because this is so complicated , let’s be sure you’ve got it:  That’s Zucchini, Onion, Zucchini, Onion, Zucchini.

I’m feeling a little sarcastic this morning, can you tell? 😉

You can cover with aluminum foil and bake in an oven at 350 degrees until Zucchini is fork tender, OR if you are in a hurry like I was last night, you can cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 7-10 minutes until tender.  You’ll want to be able to easily pierce the squash with a fork.

Here’s what it will look like once the squash is cooked and ready for the next step, which happens to be my favorite part:

You can see them beaded up with all the sweat from their little trip to the sauna.

Now, cover the whole darn thing with cheese –  glorious cheese!   I used mozzerella, but colby or cheddar works great, too.

Then, top with bread crumbs (Gluten Free, of course!). 

Do you know how to make your own bread crumbs?   I just cut or tear my gluten free sandwich bread into small pieces, run it through the food processor and then bake in the oven at 350 degrees, stirring every 5 minutes, until they are lightly browned and dry.  I store in a ziploc freezer bag in my freezer and they last for months this way.  You can take out what you need and place the bag back in the freezer for the next time.  No stale crumbs ever!

Okay, now pop the pan into the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, just until the cheese is starting to brown up a bit.   This is what it should look like when finished:

Let cool for a few minutes before cutting with a spatula to serve. 

My hubby likes this with ranch dressing.  I like it as is, simple and delicious!  This is sometimes served as our main dish (like last night) and sometimes sits on our plate beside pasta, grilled chicken, or fish.  However you decide to eat it, I hope you enjoy it!

July 9, 2010

Fresh From the Garden…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — admin @ 4:44 pm

 

…and I have plans for these guys tonight!  Stay tuned!

July 6, 2010

It’s Peachy Keen! Gluten Free Peach Cobbler, that is.

Filed under: Desserts,Fruit,Recipes,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 1:51 pm

(Edit: I’ve chosen this Peach Cobbler photo as my entry into Simply…Gluten Free’s GF Food Photo Contest.  I’m anxious to see all the tasty-looking photos of Gluten Free recipes when Carol posts the round-up on September 30th!  Wish me luck!!!) 

During a recent trip to my local fruit market, I found peaches on sale.  The sign actually said “We’re Practically Giving These Away”  and they were!  Only 49 cents a pound!  Well, I’m usually really more of a nectarine gal (just somthing about the fuzz, I guess), but I just had to fill up a bag to bring home.  These gems sat on my counter in a bowl for a few days and each day while I worked nearby, I’d catch a waft of their aroma.  I knew they were ripe and ready.  But what to make?  I thought about peach muffins, but finally decided on a cobbler.  Now, I’ve never made a cobbler before that I can recall – gluten free or otherwise – but I have done crisps and of course they are very similar.  So, I glanced at a few recipes to get some ideas and set to work on that night’s dessert:

First, wash 10-12 ripe peaches.

Butter an 8″ x 8″ baking dish (or a deep round pie plate) and set aside.

Peel and slice peaches.  To do this easily, I simply cut each fruit in half, twisted to pull the halves apart, and popped the pit out with my thumb.  Then I halved each half again, and carefully peeled the skin off each quarter before finishing slicing.  I lost very little peach this way, as opposed to using a knife to try to peel them.  Of course, it really helped that the peaches were plenty ripe!  Once they are sliced, place into a bowl adding 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp brown rice flour mix*.

 

Mix gently to combine.

Then pour into your buttered pan.

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup brown rice flour mix, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp Xanthan gum, 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1/4 tsp salt.

Cut 4 Tbsp. cold butter into small pieces, like this:

First using a pastry cutter, then your fingers, cut butter into flour mixture.

You’ll want it to resemble coarse cornmeal, like this:

In a glass measuring cup, combine 1/2 cup buttermilk (or regular milk mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice) with 1/2 tsp vanilla.  Pour into flour mixture and mix gently to just combine.  It will look lumpy, but do NOT overmix.

Scoop dough mixture onto top of peaches, leaving some areas naked.   Drizzle 2 Tbsp melted butter over exposed areas and then sprinkle the whole top with 2 Tbsp brown sugar.

Let sit for 20-30 minutes while you preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place into oven and bake  40-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the peaches bubbly.

Remove from oven and cool until just warm.

To serve, scoop a generous portion into a bowl and top with vanilla ice cream.  SO YUM!

To demonstrate how good this actually is, I had this for breakfast again this morning, after having it for dessert last night!   I just popped my bowl into the microwave for about 20 seconds to warm the cobbler, before scooping the ice cream on top (Breyer’s French Vanilla is the best!).  When the smooth vanilla ice cream starts to gently melt over the sweet peaches and crumbly topping, I just cannot wait for that first spoonful!

Ingredient List:

10-12 Ripe Peaches, peeled and sliced

1/2 Cup Sugar

1 Cup plus 1 Tbsp Brown Rice Flour Mix*

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Xanthan Gum

1/4 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Salt

2 tsp Sugar

4 Tbsp Butter, cut into pieces

1/2 Cup Buttermilk (or milk with 1 tsp lemon juice stirred in)

1/2 tsp Vanilla

2 Tbsp Butter, melted

2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

*All Purpose Brown Rice Flour Mix:

(from www.foodphilosopher.com)

2 Parts Brown Rice Flour

2/3 Part Potato Starch

1/3 Part Tapioca Starch

Combine well with a wire whisk and store in a sealed container.

July 4, 2010

Cooking became easier, and more fun, when I learned…

Filed under: Tips & Tricks,Uncategorized — Tags: , — admin @ 6:56 pm

(Note: This is my answer to Gluten Free Girl’s challenge to finish the above sentence.  I hope you enjoy it!)

…not to be afraid of failure.  

Early on (and way long before going Gluten-free), I used to become so discouraged when a recipe didn’t turn out like the photo in the cookbook.  I’d practically have a meltdown if I got past a step in the recipe and realized that I’d forgotten an ingredient.  I remember one particular time that I left the eggs out of the cookie dough and they were actually in the oven when I realized it!  You can imagine the results, and my embarassing attempts to add the eggs in AFTER baking.  Not pretty at all.  Now, when I have a bad result – and believe me, I still do – I at least can blame it on a newly-found poorly-written recipe, rather than on myself!

…practice makes perfect.

Through the years, as I’ve gained experience in the kitchen, I’ve also gained confidence.  This was no easy task.  When my husband and I were first married and returning home from our honeymoon, we found his mother had left a few meals in our fridge for us to just heat up in those first days of married life at home.  I guess she (bless her heart) realized that as newlyweds, we had better things (ahem) to do with our time than cook!   Anyway, it seemed easy enough to throw the pot on the stove and heat up the stew, but I even managed to burn our first meal at home!  Fortunately, my husband could cook, so we didn’t starve those early years. 

Several years later, when we moved out to the country, I could make a few dishes on my own, but for the most part, my husband was still the primary cook in the family.  This actually served quite well since when we had our first child he became the stay-at-home parent while I went off to the office each day.  I would come home to find a meal on the table, laundry done and a clean house.  I know – every woman’s dream, right?  Unfortunately, this made it too easy for me NOT to cook!

…to treat cooking like a hobby, not a job.   

As the kids grew, and once I began working from home, I had more time on my hands.  I used these hours to do those things I enjoyed: scrapbooking, gardening and even cooking!  Even though I wasn’t experienced at it, I still did enjoy cooking and relished those occasions when things turned out just right.  When I did have failures (like the aforementioned eggless cookie incident), I would just tell myself it was okay and try, try again.  Eventually, as I had more and more successes, I became more daring – trying things like Cream Puffs and Lemon Rice Soup.  At that time, I considered it a near superhuman feat to add raw eggs to anything hot and have it come out smooth and creamy, rather than curdly and lumpy!  

…recipes aren’t all that important!

Once my confidence was firmly in place, I was ready to venture into unknown territory.   Certainly, I would always use a recipe as a guide, but if I didn’t have a particular ingredient or spice, I’d freely substitute.  Some of my family’s favorites now were the result of a missing ingredient, substitution or improvisation of some sort.  My husband’s Love Soup was created entirely without a recipe!  He always just “eyeballed” the ingredient proportions, but when folks began asking for the recipe repeatedly, he finally had to pin down some measurements.   My (Nearly Famous) Spicy Szechwan Peanut Sauce was the co-mingling of several internet recipes combined with a lack of ingredients.  Yet, the result is perfection and an often requested recipe!   My Gluten Free Brownies are the adaptation of a recipe off the back of store-brand chocolate chips and Gluten Free Cream Puffs are an easy adaptation of my tried and true Cream Puff recipe that first built my cooking-confidence level many years ago.

…to accept (and believe) compliments about my cooking!

 

I’m the first to point out my own flaws.  That applies to every aspect of my life, not just my kitchen endeavors.  And it’s hard at first to quiet the comments that want to flow from my lips “Isn’t it too soft?  Too hard?  Too spicy?  What about the sauce – don’t you think it’s too thin?  No? Well then what about too thick?”  You get my drift, right?   But if somebody – particularly unsolicited – says something nice about something I’ve dished up – I have learned that a simple “Why, thank you!” is not only the most polite response but also much better on the ego! 

———

I’m really greatful to Gluten Free Girl for initiating this challenge.  It’s really been good to look back at the lessons I’ve learned which have proven themselves invaluable in my newer foray into Gluten Free cooking and baking.  I wouldn’t trade these experiences, both good and bad, because they are all part of the the wonderful journey that led me here, to this blog.  Now that I’m ready to share my story and my recipes with you, I just hope you can take away something that can be helpful to you in your own journey!

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