Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chickpea Farinata Bread

If you are like me and have never heard of or tried Italian farinata before, you are in for a treat.  This is one of the simplest loaves of bread you could hope to make, although I hesitate to lump it into the category of "bread" lest it mislead anyone about what to expect from the texture.  This is dense.  It's just chickpea flour and water, really.  Add a few spices, and it's ready to go in the oven.  Heck, we skipped the mixing bowl entirely and stirred this up right in the pan.  Don't be concerned when it looks....well....soupy when you stick it in the oven.  Ours resembled crepe batter (very thin and runny) and we exchanged dubious looks as we closed the oven door behind it.  It seemed impossible that it would solidify into anything bread-like and/or edible under any amount of heat.  But, seemingly miraculously, we opened the oven door 20 minutes later to find that it had browned on top and settled into the dense bread you see pictured.  Fantastic. 

The whole loaf only has 680 calories if you make it as directed below, and 24 grams of protein.  This makes a really dense loaf, so it can stand on its own as part of a main meal (perhaps served with soup or salad on the side).  But it was also great to have as a power snack during the day.

The great thing about this bread is how versatile it is in terms of flavor.  The original recipe also called for thinly sliced onions to be cooked into the bread, which my friend Lisa had had the first time she ate this (served by friends of hers), but which we omitted.  It also did not call for cumin originally, but we happen to love cumin - a lot - and it just goes so well with chickpeas that we dumped a ton into ours, with wonderful results.  Check out this post about farinata for some great ideas about how to customize it (topped with zucchini and parmesan cheese??  Yes, please!)  Feel free to make it your own.  Play around with it to find the flavor you like.  But if you're a fan of chickpeas like I am, you will find a new addiction in farinata. 

Chickpea Farinata Bread

For a flatter bread:
1 cup warm water
1 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 - 2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 thinly sliced onion, sautéed (optional - we did not add this into ours)

For a thicker bread (like the picture above):
2 cups warm water
2 cups chickpea flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
2 - 4 tsp. cumin
2 - 4 tbsp. olive oil
1 thinly sliced onion, sautéed (optional - we did not add this into ours)

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Spray a 9-inch round pan with cooking spray.

In a separate bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.  Pour into the pan and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or just until browned on top (for the thicker bread, you'll need to leave it in for 20 - 30 minutes; start checking for doneness after 20 minutes with a toothpick).  Remove from oven and let settle and cool for 5 - 10 minutes.  Serve warm.  If desired, sprinkle with addition cumin before serving.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Hummus (Vegan and Raw)

This is a lovely twist on traditional hummus dip.  In fact, I'm not entirely sure that it should even be called hummus, given the complete absence of the chickpeas, which are replaced entirely with cashews in this recipe.  All I know is that it was really, really tasty.  After several minutes of blitzing in the food processor, this raw dip was silky smooth, creamy, and wonderful.  It has a slightly sweet flavor from the roasted red peppers, with a salty tinge that lingers on your tongue.  I'm learning the art of keeping things simple, so I only added small amounts of a few other spices to this.  Not too many, though, because the roasted red peppers have such a strong flavor, and it's not fair to have to compete with that.

I ate this with corn chips, but it would be wonderful with pita chips as well, if you can find or make gluten-free ones.  I also used it in place of ketchup on a black bean burger I had this week, which was fantastic, and it would be great as a layer in a sandwich or as a tapenade with melted cheese on top, too.  Unfortunately, I ran out of the dip before I had time to try all of the different ways I thought of to use it.  But I'm sure that a few more batches will be coming my way before long...

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew "Hummus"

1 cup roasted cashews (I used the 50% reduced salt kind from Trader Joe's)
2 whole roasted red peppers, skin and seeds removed
1 - 2 tbsp. lemon juice (to taste)
2 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. salt (add more or less to your own taste)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Dash of cayenne pepper (to taste/tolerance)
Dash of cumin (to taste)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend on high speed for about 4 - 5 minutes, or until very creamy.  Remove and adjust spices as needed.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with corn chips or as a tapenade.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Roasted Broccoli and Edamame with Garlic

There's a lot of green in this post.  I was feeling the need for something really healthy for dinner tonight, and, feeling inspired by a friend who raved last night about some roasted broccoli she had made, I decided to try it out.  I've always prepared broccoli by boiling it or steaming it.  And don't get me wrong; I love it that way.  But I feel like I discovered broccoli for the first time with this recipe. Seriously, you will never look at broccoli the same way again.  No longer will your mind fly to adjectives like "smushed" and "overcooked" when you ponder broccoli.  Instead, you will think about slightly crisp yet soft florets, roasted under high heat with whole garlic cloves and simple spices.  I was definitely cursing the fact that I only had 1 1/2 cups of broccoli in my freezer tonight!  Check out the inspiration for this recipe here on the Amateur Gourmet's site.  He does a better job of raving about this broccoli than I have, plus offers a few more tips for ways to spruce this up if you feel it needs sprucing.  I adapted his recipe slightly and have re-posted it below.

Originally, I was just going to make the broccoli, but at the last minute, decided to throw in the edamame for some protein (but did not add any extra oil to coat them).  I put them on separate halves of the pan so the edamame would have a chance to get crispy without being overshadowed by some of the larger broccoli florets, and they were fantastic, crispy, and full of spice.  So if you are in need of a green dinner, make this.  Trust me, you won't be sorry - you will never look at broccoli the same way again.

Roasted Broccoli and Edamame with Garlic

For the broccoli:
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, rinsed and patted dry
3 whole garlic cloves, chopped into large chunks
2 tsp. olive oil
To taste:
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
Dash of garlic powder
2 - 3 tsp. lemon juice
Optional:  Sprinkle of parmesan cheese or vegan parmesan cheese

For the edamame:
1/2 cup frozen edamame, thawed, rinsed and patted dry
1 - 2 garlic cloves, chopped into large chunks
To taste:
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper
Ground Cumin
Garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Line a baking dish with a sheet of foil.

Toss the broccoli, garlic, olive oil, and spices together in a bowl and spread onto one half of the lined baking dish.  Then toss the edamame and spices separately and spread onto the other half of the lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minute, stirring once or twice for even browning.  When the broccoli is browned and tender, and the edamame is crispy on the outside (but soft on the inside), remove from the oven.  Sprinkle the lemon juice over the broccoli.  Serve immediately.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Smoky Black Bean Burgers

It's been a long time since I've had a veggie burger - not to mention a good veggie burger.  The last time I checked, most of the ones commercially available brands use wheat gluten or some other gluten-ful product as a binder.  So when I found this recipe on a blog called "Voracious," I couldn't wait to try it out for myself.  These burgers are packed full of protein, with both black beans and quinoa as the base, and the liquid smoke gives them a lovely faux-burger-cooked-outside taste. (Colgin Liquid Smoke is gluten-free!)  And they hold together extremely well, despite being completely devoid of gluten binders.  We enjoyed them straight from the pan with some melted rice cheese and ketchup, and I reheated one the next day and topped it with some roasted red pepper cashew dip and Daiya Vegan Cheese.  But it turns out that they are also delicious right from the fridge as a snack!  We followed the recipe pretty much exactly as is, but made 6 pretty hefty burgers instead of the 4 from the original recipe.  These are quite filling, so you may or may not even need a slice of bread with them.  If you're like me and miss veggie burgers, these are definitely worth a try!

Find the original recipe here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quinoa Pilaf with Sweet Sausage, Dried Cherries, and Feta "Cheese"

This is a fantastically quick pilaf to throw together for when you're in a rush, or if you're so hungry you can't wait to for food that takes longer than 15 minutes to prepare.  Since recently discovering Sunergia Soy Feta Cheese (which is remarkably spot-on in flavor and texture, considering it's both dairy and gluten-free), I have been adding it to all kinds of things for an extra kick of flavor.  In this pilaf, it complements the tart cherries and sweet sausage perfectly, making for a quick and delicious meal.  I personally don't usually keep cooked quinoa on hand, but even if you don't either, the white kind only takes about 15 minutes to cook.  Once it's done, though, it's really just a matter of stirring the other ingredients in.  You'll be sitting down to eat before you know it. 

Quinoa Pilaf with Sweet Sausage, Dried Cherries, and Feta "Cheese"
Makes 2 small-ish servings

1 cup cooked quinoa (make as directed using chicken or vegetable broth)
2 Sweet Apple Maple Chicken Sausages (from Trader Joe's), sliced and sauteed until browned
1/3 cup dried cherries (can substitute cranberries)
2 - 3 tbsp. Sunergia Soy Feta Cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together, breaking up the soy feta cheese well to distribute evenly throughout the pilaf.  Season with salt and pepper to your own liking.  This pilaf can be eaten either hot or cold.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Healthy Truffles

You may be asking, how can truffles be healthy?  And with good reason.  Normally, truffles are buttery, silky smooth balls of intense chocolate.  They melt in your mouth and overwhelm you with their richness.  They embody indulgence.

People in grad school tend to do a lot of stress eating.  (Although, let's face it, I've always been a stress eater anyway, so I can't blame it entirely on grad school.)  Truffles, and chocolate in general, are an obvious default candidate for those frenzied hours of studying and snacking.  So I am in an ongoing quest to make my stress eating a little less awful by developing healthier versions of some of my favorite snacks.  My friend Sarah (whose adorable children I babysit) and I have been tweaking this recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough balls a little bit each time we make them, which is often (her kids devour them as quickly as she makes them.)  Sarah had the brilliant idea to add cocoa powder to the regular version to make a sort of "brownie bite," and from there, we just kept tweaking until this version came about.  In my chocolate-addled state of mind, I decided to take it a step further and roll them in cocoa powder (just to add to the chocolate quotient).  And, ta-da!  Truffles.

I brought some of these to school with me to share with some of my classmates, who loved them.  One friend said that the texture was great because it really fools you into thinking you're eating a truffle; another said they were simply amazing overall.  The best part is how quickly and easily you can whip up a batch because it's truly just a matter of throwing all of the ingredients into your food processor and hitting "blend."  And you can't really mess these up because you can always tweak them by adding a little more of one ingredient or a little less of another until you find the combination and texture you personally like.  The recipe is very forgiving in that way.  And if you don't feel like rolling them into balls, just put the mixture in a bowl and eat it with a spoon.  I won't tell (because I've definitely done that before). 

So go ahead.  Indulge.  Because now, it's healthy.

Healthy Truffles

7 Trader Joe's Fancy Medjool Dates (with pits removed)
1/3 cup cashews
1/4 cup gluten-free oats
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tbsp. Marshmallow Fluff or Vegan Ricemellow Marshmallow Fluff
1 1/2 tbsp. pure cocoa powder + 1 tbsp. for rolling truffles
1-4 tbsp. So Delicious Coconut Milk, as needed
1 tbsp. granulated sugar (for rolling truffles - optional)

Place the dates (be sure to remove the pits!), cashews, oats, vanilla, coconut, Fluff, and cocoa powder in a food processor and blend on the highest speed.  When the food processor seems to have done as much as it can with those ingredients, start adding the So Delicious Coconut Milk one tablespoon at a time.  You want these to be very creamy so the texture is like the inside of a truffle, but still firm enough that you can roll them into balls.  Continue to pulse on the highest speed so that they are as well-blended as possible.

On a plate, combine the 1 tbsp. cocoa powder and the 1 tbsp. sugar (you can leave the sugar out if you want, although they will taste slightly more bitter).  (If the mixture is too thin, you can put it in the fridge for a little while to harden it up before you roll it into balls.)  Remove the chocolate mixture by tablespoonful and roll into balls with your hands, and then roll in the cocoa and sugar mixture to coat.  Place on a plate.  Refrigerate them for at least two hours before removing them to a container where they are touching each other.  Eat as needed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Carrot Ginger Scone Cookies

I'm not sure whether to classify these as cookies or scones, because they are somewhere in between.  But what I can vouch for is the taste (if you are a fan of ginger, that is).  I recently went to a ginger-themed party and, as I often do, defaulted to baking for my contribution.  I loved the idea of the taste of carrot cake with an extra spike of ginger to complement the other spices I regularly use.  These turned out tasting pretty great, although the texture is definitely rather cake-y and not very chewy (at least, not in the way that cookies often are).  I'd actually suggest shaping these into triangles and serving for breakfast as a scone!  I personally liked the ones without raisins better than the ones with them.  I didn't add any nuts to mine, either, although I've included them below as an optional ingredient (some people like nuts in their carrot cake, and if you're one of those people, you'd probably like them in these, too).  So just let your own taste guide you in this one.  And gather all of your ginger-loving friends to help you eat these!

Do you have a favorite ginger recipe that you would have brought to the Ginger Party?  Please leave it below!

Carrot Ginger Scone Cookies

3/4 cup Spectrum Organic Shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg or Egg Replacer (for our vegan friends)
4 tbsp. So Delicious Coconut Milk
1 1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend (your favorite kind)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
optional: 1 cup raisins + 1/2 cup ground walnuts (although I liked these better without them)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix with an electric mixer on high speed until it is creamy.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg.  Add little bit little to the butter-sugar mixture, alternating with a tbsp. at a time of So Delicious Coconut Milk.  If the batter is too dry, add more coconut milk one tablespoon at a time. 

Add the shredded carrots, coconut, and oats and mix in by hand.  For larger cookies, drop by tablespoonful onto the cookie sheets and bake for about 14 - 16 minutes at 350 F, or until set on top and slightly brown on bottom.  For bite-size cookies, drop by teaspoonful and bake for 10 - 12 minutes.

Let sit on hot baking sheet for 2 - 3 minutes when they come out of the oven, then remove to a wire rack to cool.  When completely cooled, store in an airtight container.

If desired, top with a buttercream icing for a mini-carrot cake effect.  But they are delicious by themselves, too!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Flourless Orange Almond Cupcakes

It's a beautiful thing when you find a cake recipe that is already naturally gluten-free.  What's even more beautiful is when it's also naturally delicious.

A fellow blogger, Leah, told me about this recipe, which is from The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden.  You can find the original post about the recipe on the Jewesses with Attitude blog.  It sounded good, and hey, if it's a gluten-free dessert, chances are that I'll try it.

I am so glad I did.  Despite a rather long baking time, these cupcakes end up being ridiculously moist, and the flavor is amazing.  The orange shines through, and the almond flour rounds out the taste in a lovely, balanced way.  Don't worry about an icing or a glaze - these won't need it.  I suppose an orange drizzle would probably taste good, but seriously, these are so good on their own that no one will miss it.

Although boiling oranges for 1.5 hours is admittedly a bit of a pain, this is a breeze to throw together once that step is done.  You could do what I did and boil the oranges a day ahead of time, puree them, and stick them in the fridge (in an airtight container) until you're ready to use them.  Trust me, it will be worth the effort - these got rave reviews.  And no one will miss the flour because, well, it wasn't even there in the first place. 

Flourless Orange Almond Cupcakes (Adapted slightly from this recipe)
Makes 18 cupcakes

2 large oranges
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. orange extract (McCormick's is gluten-free!)
1 1/2 cups almond flour

Wash the oranges and boil them for 1.5 hours or until very soft.  Remove and cool.  Peel them gently (the peel will come off very easily, and I used a butter knife to slice most of it off).  Make sure there are no seeds left in the oranges and place them in a food processor.  Puree until very smooth.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line two cupcake/muffin tins with paper liners or spray with cooking spray (although I did not try it with just cooking spray - just a disclaimer!).

Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer on high speed until the color changes to a light yellow and it starts to get frothy.  In a small bowl, combine the almond flour with the baking soda and add it to the mixture.  Add the orange extract and pureed orange and continue to beat until very well mixed.

Distribute evenly among all of the cupcake tins.  They won't rise all that much, so you can fill them almost to the top.  (It might make a few more than 18 cupcakes depending on how big your tins are, but if you only use half of tne tray, be sure to use the middle tins, and not the ones on the outside!)  Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until they bounce back a little when you press on them gently.  They should be nicely browned on top.

Remove from oven and let sit in the cupcake tin for about 5 more minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool.  Either serve immediately or cool completely and then store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

**Note:  If you'd rather make this into a cake, you can do so by pouring the batter into a greased and floured 9 inch springform pan and baking it for an hour or until it is nicely browned on top and has completely set.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Strawberry Cream Pie

I know.  It's not exactly the prime time of year for strawberries.  But this winter has been so full of white and gray, snow and clouds, that it was time for a splash of color.  And.....February was a good time for pink and red (National Heart Month and all - oh, and Valentine's Day).  When I saw strawberries at Haymarket a few weeks ago, I grabbed them eagerly without any clear plan for them yet.  But I knew something good would come out of a carton of strawberries.

This was a pretty divine splash of color.  At first I thought it was going to be too sweet, but no - it was fantastic.  Everyone who tried it raved about it!  (That is, with the exception of a certain slightly picky 5 year old who hates coconut - but she still loved the strawberry filling sans crust.)  So if you're baking for a coconut-hater, not to worry - use your own favorite pie crust, but keep the filling.  The filling is definitely a keeper.

Strawberry Cream Pie 

For the filling:

16 oz. strawberries, sliced or chopped
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 package Knox unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups gluten-free, dairy-free whipped topping or vanilla custard (you want something that is pretty firm in consistency)
1 tbsp. vanilla

Slice the strawberries and combine with the sugar.  Set aside to rest together for 15 - 20 minutes.

Place the 1/2 cup cold water into a small saucepan.  Pour the packet of Knox gelatin and let dissolve.  Turn on the heat and bring to a boil, simmering until the gelatin is fully dissolved.  Remove from heat and mix in the lemon juice and almond extract.  Pour over the strawberry-sugar mixture and mix well.  Leave to sit for at least 15 - 20 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature.  The mixture will be very...gel-ly at that point.

When the strawberry mixture has cooled, fold in the vanilla and gluten-free, dairy-free whipped topping or vanilla custard.  Spread evenly into the prepared Coconut Almond pie crust and cover.  Chill in fridge for at least 4 hours before serving to allow it to fully set.  Keep refrigerated (unless eating!).  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gluten-free Thin Mints

Ok, if you miss Samoas, I know you miss Thin Mints.  Who can resist a sleeve of Thin Mints straight from the freezer?  (Did she say a whole sleeve?  Um, yes....easily.) 

These are...amazing.  They are everything you remember about Thin Mints: crispy when straight from the freezer, the perfect blend of mint and chocolate, and really, really addictive.  Despite possibly seeming complicated to make (because of what we imagine to be the mysterious veil of secrets shrouding Girl Scout Cookies), they're actually kind of a breeze.  They're really no harder to make than any other cookie.  And there will be no judgment from me if they are all gone within hours of being made - I promise. 

Gluten-free Thin Mints (Adapted from this recipe from Seattle Weekly)
Makes 4 dozen cookies

1 stick (1/2 cup) Fleishmann's Unsalted Margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. mint extract
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup pure cocoa powder
1 - 2 tbsp. sweet rice flour for dusting (or regular rice flour)

For chocolate coating:
1 cup Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Mint UFOs OR 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips + 1/4 tsp. mint extract
1 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread

This dough will chill in the fridge for a few hours, so don't preheat the oven yet!

Cream the margarine and sugar together with an electric mixer.  Add the egg and beat well.  Add the mint extract and continue to beat. 

In a separate bowl, measure out the flours and whisk together with the salt and cocoa powder.  Add little by little to the butter-sugar-egg mixture, beating with the electric mixer until very well-mixed.  Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, longer if possible.

When you're ready to make them, preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and put your 1 - 2 tbsp. sweet rice flour into a small bowl.  Scoop out the cookie dough by teaspoonful and roll into a ball with your hands.  Place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Dip a wide, flat spoon into the sweet rice flour to coat it and then use the spoon to flatten each little ball of dough into a rough circle.  Bake for 12 minutes (or until ever-so-slightly puffed up and set) and then remove.  Leave on the hot baking sheet for 2 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool.

In a small sauce pan or double boiler, place the chocolate and buttery spread.  Melt them together over very low heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning.  When they are melted, remove from heat.  Dip each of the cooled cookies into the chocolate mixture and coat completely with chocolate (you may need more chocolate than this depending on how well-coated you make them).  Remove from pan with two forks, using one to hold up the cookie and the other to scrape of any excess chocolate.  Place on waxed paper and place in the refrigerator or freezer to cool completely. 

I personally like to keep Thin Mints in the freezer, but you can store these in the fridge as well. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Quinoa Pilaf with Sweet Potato, Pears, Avocados, and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

I make a lot of quinoa around here.  This is partly because it's so healthy (complete protein!), but also because it's so easy to transport to school for the many meals I eat away from home.  Usually I toss it with sauteed vegetables, or chicken sausage, or both.  But recently, I created a totally new kind of pilaf.  I would never have tried this combination of flavors without my trusty copy of Culinary Artistry, which lists ingredients that are, shall we say, friendly with one another.  It was a bit like playing a matching game, looking up different ingredients to cross-check and make sure that they all (hypothetically) would pair well together.  And they did!  This was delicious, despite sounding a bit strange at first.  I will definitely add it to my repertoire of go-to quick and easy meals.

Quinoa Pilaf with Sweet Potato, Pears, Avocados, and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked as directed with chicken or vegetable broth and cooled (should end up being about 1 cup of cooked quinoa)
1/4 cup toasted unsalted sunflower seeds
1 medium sweet potato, baked or microwaved until tender and then chopped/shredded
1/2 avocado, chopped
1 small or 1/2 medium pear, chopped finely
1/2 tsp. sea salt (more or less to your own taste)
1 tbsp. agave nectar
1 tbsp. parsley, shredded finely (optional)
Ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and toss until well-mixed.  Serve immediately.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

**Hint:  If you are not serving/eating this right away, it is best to add the avocado and pear just before serving so they stay as fresh as possible and don't get brown.  If you're going to have leftovers, add the avocado and pear as you eat it