Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rosemary and Orange Polenta Fries with Curry Mayo (Gluten Free)

These passed the husband test with flying colors.  He thought I was mad when I first told him about the recipe but soon as I took them from the oven, he was gobbling them up faster than I could take the photos!  You can pair these with a variety of different flavoured dips but I like the curry as it brings a unique element to the rosemary.

Rosemary and Orange Polenta Fries:

The liquid to cornmeal ratio below is a guide.  The end result should be a thick mixture, however, you need to have enough liquid to cook the polenta in the first place.  I recommend adding enough liquid to ensure the cornmeal is cooked and then slowly reduce it to the desired consistency.  Your finished product should be thick enough to spread but not too dry that your cornmeal is underdone.
  • 1 cup of seasoned broth of choice (chicken, beef, consomme, veggie)
  • 1 cup water
  • Juice of one orange plus half orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chopped rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil and Sea Salt

In a saucepan, heat liquids until they come to a boil.  Add polenta and mix continually.  Continue to add more water or orange juice if needed to cook through. Reduce until thick, being sure not to burn the bottom of the pan.  Add butter, parmesan cheese, orange zest, rosemary and salt and pepper.  Mix through and remove from heat.

Spread into a non-stick back pan so polenta is about 1/2 inch thick.  Refrigerate, uncovered, for about an hour. Cut into strips and carefully set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 400C/190F. Lightly drizzle a non-stick pan with olive oil. Place fries in pan, being sure not to overcrowd. Drizzle with more olive oil and a pinch of moldon sea salt. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown and the fries release easily from pan.  If the fries stick to the bottom of the pan, they are not ready.  You should be left with a lovely, golden brown fry that is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Curry Mayo Dip:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp rice wine or white wine vinegar
  • Dash of chili peppers (optional if you want more heat)

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Can be refrigerated for up to three days.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gourmet Potatoes 'n Cheese

An easy to make potato casserole, ideal for buffets or when you want to indulge in some cheesy carbohydrate goodness. Can be made ahead and frozen. Just be sure to defrost before baking. Sorry, this is soooo not low fat!  Lose clothing recommended.

  • Three large white potatoes (about three to four cups diced)
  • 1 cup gluten free condensed mushroom soup mix (see my blog for recipe)
  • 1 cup sour cream (low fat preferred - if not, regular is ok)
  • 1 cup shredded strong cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 rashers of bacon (cooked, drained and roughly chopped)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan (for topping)

Peel potatoes and chop into very small cubes - about half the size of a dice. Microwave for about two minutes to par-cook. Don't overcook or you will be left with a mushy mess!

In a bowl, mix together remaining ingredients (except parmesan). Add potatoes and mix well. Season to taste. Place in an oven proof casserole dish, sprinkle with half the parmesan and top with loose fitting tin foil. Bake in a 350C/180F oven between an hour and an hour and a half.  Once half way done, remove foil and add remaining parmesan. Potatoes should be cooked through and not crunchy. Let sit for about 10 minutes to set and serve.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Condensed Mushroom Soup Mix - Gluten Free Alternative

There are a lot of great recipes that call for 'condensed mushroom soup'. Unfortunately most canned soups contain wheat which acts as its primary thickener. They also contain a lot of salt which is bad for your health! Here is a great little recipe that is easy to make and tastes great!

If your recipe calls for one cup of condensed soup, use one cup of the gluten free version instead.  Because this version is less salty, be sure to check the seasoning of your recipe as it won't take into consideration the difference in salt.

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp dry powdered milk 
  • 1/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Approximately 1 cup consomme or your favourite seasoned broth (mushroom, chicken or beef)
  • 2 - 4  chopped white mushrooms
In a small bowl, combine powdered milk, gluten free flour, onion powder and salt. Place butter into small saucepan, and melt over medium heat, being careful not to burn the butter. Add dry mixture and consomme/stock and whisk continually, until thick and all lumps are removed.  If too thick, add a bit more stock until you get your desired consistency.

Chop mushrooms and saute in a frying pan with a bit of butter over medium heat. Once cooked and golden brown, de-glaze the pan with a bit of stock or white wine, removing all the delicious bits of flavours along with the mushrooms.  Mix into soup mixture and remove from heat.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eggs Benny Roll Ups (Gluten Free)

This is a nifty alternative to traditional eggs benny - you can make the roll-ups and hollandaise sauce ahead of time so all you'll need to do is pop the roll ups into the oven when you are ready to start your eggs.  Easy, breezy!

Hollandaise Sauce:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 tsp each salt, sugar, cayenne pepper, dry mustard.
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp white wine

In microwave, heat butter until boiling hot.  Combine all other ingredients in a blender. Keep blender on and slowly add the hot butter to the egg mixture, being careful not add too quickly or the sauce will split.  The hollandaise sauce can be served immediately, or kept in the fridge for three to four days.  Reheat over the top of a double boiler, over medium heat.  Careful not to reheat over boiling water or the sauce will split and you'll be left with a curdled mess.

Roll ups - per serving

  • Two (2) asparagus spears
  • 1 piece of Genius gluten free or regular white/whole wheat bread
  • 1 slice proscuitto ham
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp good quality parmesan cheese (or your favourite cheese of choice!)
  • Olive oil

Snap off ends of asparagus so you are left with approximately 4 inch tips. Blanch for 1 to 2 minutes in boing water and cool immediately in an ice bath. Remove from water, dry and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Set aside.

Remove crusts so you are left with a nice square piece of bread. Either flatten the bread with your hands, heavy weight or with a rolling pin.

*some gluten free breads tend to break and/or stick to the pin so if this happens, you'll have to use whatever technique that will work with the type of bread you are using.  From my experience, the fresher the bread, the better it handles.  But again, this all depends on the brand of bread you are using. I recommend Genius GF bread as it handles very well and toasts wonderfully.

Lay the proscuitto on the flattened bread followed by the asparagus, keeping them together on the edge closest to you. Cover with cheese and then roll gently from the bottom up being careful not to break the bread.  Don't worry if they don't stick together on their own as they'll keep their shape once toasted. Brush with olive oil. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and broil in the oven until golden brown.

Boil eggs to order and serve along side roll ups and a good size gob of hollandaise for dipping.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Homemade Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

I like this version as it's less oily than the store bought variety and can be made up in a jiffy.  It's a healthy choice for those outdoorsy folks who want a low GI snack packed full of protein, flavour and fiber.  Serve with carrot and celery sticks, or crackers.

  • 1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 Tbsp tahini or sesame paste
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • Approx 1/4 cup good quality olive oil (more if hummus appears to dry)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Good size pinch of any fresh herb such as fresh parsley or basil
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes (soft, packed in oil)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, add all ingredients (except herb and sun-dried tomato).  Blend until chopped but still coarse.  Add half the sun-dried tomato and continue to blend until smooth.  Hummus should be smooth and have a slight red tone from the tomatoes.  Taste and adjust seasoning to desired flavour and consistency (adding more lemon juice or olive oil if needed).

Add remaining sun-dried tomatoes and herbs and quickly pulse processor a few times to mix through - you don't want to puree these ingredients as you want to be left with little morsels of goodness throughout the hummus.

Oh My, Spinach Gomae!

Gomae (sounds like 'go-my') is a Japanese side dish translated as "sesame dressing". There are several types of gomae dishes, however, this is one of my favourite versions.  It's really easy to make and the dressing lasts forever in the fridge.  


  • 1/4 cup sesame paste or tahini
  • 1/4 cup white miso paste *slightly less if using a saltier miso
  • 2 Tbsp good quality honey
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar

In a mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together.  If too thick, add a small amount of water to desired consistency. Dressing should have a lovely nutty balanced flavour (like most dressings, a good balance between sweet, salty and  acid).  Depending on the saltiness of your miso, you may need to use slightly less miso so to not overpower your dressing.  

To prepare salad:

  • 2 bunches of spinach, cleaned and dried (or alternatively, on large bag of pre-washed, organic spinach)
  • Toasted sesame seeds or crushed peanuts for garnish

Blanch spinach leaves in simmering water for 30 seconds or until wilted.  Immerse into ice water bath and pat excess water.  Remove and squeeze out excess water. Or, place into plastic bag and place into microwave on high for about 2 minutes. Carefully remove from bag, immerse into ice water bath and place onto paper towels to squeeze out excess water.

Transfer spinach to chilled serving plates and top with dressing, and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds or chopped peanuts.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Easy Beef Stroganoff (Gluten Free)

This is a lovely recipe that the whole family will enjoy.  It's easy to make and can be frozen and made ahead for those busy winter work days.  Serve over your favourite gluten free pasta or garlic mashed potatoes.


1kg (2lbs) lean ground beef
375ml (1 1/2 cups) gluten free bread crumbs
60 ml (1/4 cup) milk
60 ml  (1/4 cup) chopped onion
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste

Stroganoff Sauce

250ml (1 cup) chopped onion
250ml (1 cup) thinly sliced mushrooms (cooked) or 1 can mushrooms, drained.
60 ml (1/4 cup) butter
60 ml (1/4 cup) gluten free flour
60 ml (1/4 cup) ketchup
500ml (2 cups)  Sour Cream
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (omit this ingredient in Canada as the Canadian version contains gluten.  US and UK are Okay!)
2 - 284ml (2-10oz) cans Baxters Beef Consomme (If you don't have Baxters, any other type of gluten free consomme will do)
Salt and pepper to taste

Meatballs:  combine all ingredients together in large bowl.  Form into balls and bake on a non-stick cookie sheet at 375F (190C) for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, drain and set aside.

Sauce:  Brown onion in butter.  Add flour and mix well.  Add ketchup and consomme, cooking slowly until thickened. Add sour cream, mushrooms and meatballs.  Place in a casserole dish and keep warm until ready to serve.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Salmon Gravalax (smoked salmon substitute)

This is a wonderful alternative to smoked salmon.   I love the taste and texture of the salmon as it melts in your mouth.  To me, it's a fresher/cleaner alternative to smoked salmon which has a very distinct flavour and can sometimes contain additives or gluten.  It's easy to make and more cost effective than purchasing the store bought variety.

1 fillet of good quality salmon (preferably a tail end piece)
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons sea salt
1 Tablespoon Grainy Dijon Mustard
1 - 2 Tablespoons Vodka or Gin
Chopped fresh dill

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except dill and salmon.

With the skin side down, apply a thick layer of of the mixture directly on the salmon filet.  Cover the salmon with the fresh dill so none of the flesh is showing through. Place salmon in a small zip lock bag and then into a shallow dish.

Cover with an additional layer of cling-film and weigh down with another dish or some other type of weight.  I used a similar size dish and a small bag of rice.  You can use whatever you can find in the house (canned food etc.) The key is to ensure there is constant pressure of the filet so the salt/sugar/dill mixture is firmly and continually pressed against the salmon.  This will ensure the ingredients penetrate the fish so proper curing can occur.  Let sit in the refrigerator for three to four days.

Once cured, the flesh should be firm and display a lovely orange color.  Scrape off dill and mustard and thinly slice salmon on a sideways angle towards the skin.  Toss away any dark bits of fresh and remaining skin.

Serve atop your favorite cracker along side chopped fresh dill, cream cheese and squeeze of lemon juice.

Gluten Free Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

These are berry, berry good!  They can be eaten on their own or enjoyed in a bowl under a splash of double cream.

1 3/4 cup Narin’s Gluten Free Oats (uncooked)
1 1/2 cup Self Rising Gluten Free flour (or plain flour and add 1 tsp baking soda)
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup chopped almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter; melted
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 F (170 C) and line the bottom of an 11x7-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, almonds and salt.  Add melted butter and mix through. You should be left with a soft crumbly mixture.  Set aside approx 1 cup of the mixture and press the remaining in the bottom of the prepared dish.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes to set.

In the meantime, combine blueberries, white sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about two minutes stirring occasionally.  In a small bowl, combine remaining water, cornstarch and lemon juice.  Stir into blueberry mixture until thick.  This should take less than one minute.  Remove from heat.

Spread blueberries evenly over cooked oats and top with remaining oat mixture.  Careful not to burn yourself as the berry mixture will be hot!  Try to evenly spread topping and press in slightly to ensure oats are adhering to the berries. 

Bake for an additional 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Let stand on wire rack to cool and then cut into bars.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday Cranberry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies – Gluten Free

I’d pay anyone a hundred bucks if they could tell these great little cookies are gluten free.  They are delicious, light and super moist!  Try finishing them off with a drizzle of white chocolate for that festive feeling.

1 cup self rising gluten free flour (or use plain and add 1tsp of baking soda)
1 cup Narin’s gluten free oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan gum
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. (180°C)  Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, Xanthan gum, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and oats and stir until blended. Stir in all chocolate chips and cranberries.

Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 14 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gluten Free Corn Bread Muffins

3 TBSP liquid honey
1/2 cup melted butter
3 large eggs
1 can 428g canned creamed corn
1 to 1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1½ cups gluten free flour
1 cup fine cornmeal
½ cup corn starch/flour
1 1/2 TBSP baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
*Chopped Jalapeno (optional)
*Cheddar Cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425˚F (220˚C) In a mixing bowl, whisk together honey and melted butter.  Add the eggs and creamed corn to combine. 

In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients using a whisk. Stir well to ensure there are no lumps.  

As gluten free flour needs more moisture than regular flour, ensure mixture is not too dry.  Add additional milk if required. Batter should be thick (not runny).  For a zesty version, add 1/4 cup Jalapenos or 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese to the batter.

Pour into 12x muffin tin lined with holders.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool before serving.

Dead-easy gluten free chicken fingers can make these in your sleep.  Make a bunch and toss them in the freezer.  You'll be happy you have them on hand for those crazy busy days.

  • 4 Skinless Chicken Breasts 
  • 1/2 cup Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise (company website confirms this product is gluten free)
  • 1 cup Nature's Path Organic Gluten Free Corn Flakes or your favourite gluten free crunchy cereal 
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Good quality olive oil
Crush corn flakes in a mini processor or by hand.  In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, spices, garlic, salt and pepper.   Transfer corn flakes to a plate.

Dry chicken breasts with a paper towel to remove any moisture.  Cut into approximately 1/2 to 1 inch thick strips.  Dredge each chicken strip in the mayo mixture, then press into the corn flake mixture so each strip is completely covered.

Transfer to a non stick baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Do not over crowd on sheet,  as you want to make sure any moisture has room to escape.  Bake at 400F (200C) for approximately 30 minutes or until done. Flip over half way through if desired (not necessary).  Chicken should be cooked through and golden brown.

TIP:  These can be made ahead and frozen.  Cool on a cookie rack and place in the freezer uncovered until frozen.  Place strips in an air tight zip lock bag and freeze for future use.  To reheat, bake on cookie sheet in a 400F (200C) oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until hot.

Enjoy with your favourite dipping sauces!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Ice Cream Cake

This is an awesome dessert for anytime of the year.  Great for dinner parties or a great birthday cake option.  Can be made in a square pan for smaller square portions, or in a pie plate for a pretty presentation. Use gluten free rice krispies for a gluten free version.  Either way you slice it, this is delicious!!!

1/4 cup corn syrup
2 TBSP brown sugar
3 TBSP butter or margarine
3 cups Nature's Path Organic Crispy Rice (do not use Kellogg's Rice Krispies as they contain gluten!)
1/2 cup chocolate ganache*
1 quart vanilla ice cream
Caramel sauce and chopped peanuts for topping

For the ganache:

  • 200g good-quality dark chocolate
  • 284ml carton double cream (pouring type)
  • 2 TBSP icing sugar  
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 TSP corn syrup                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Make the ganache: chop the chocolate into small pieces and tip into a bowl. Pour the cream into a pan, add the sugar, and heat until it is about to boil. Take off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add peanut butter and corn syrup.  Mix til smooth.  Cool.

Make the caramel sauce:  You can use store bought if you'd like, or boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for about 4 hours for a really decadent treat.  Be sure that the can is fully submerged under water the entire time or the can may explode! Let cool before opening.

Make the cake:  In a saucepan, combine corn syrup, brown sugar and butter. Bring to boil, stirring constantly and remove from heat.  Add syrup to puffed rice and mix well. Press evenly into greased pie plate or pan.  Cool in freezer or fridge for about 10 minutes to set/cool.   Top with the ganache and let cool again in the freezer for an additional 10 minutes.

In the meantime, remove ice cream from freezer to left soften.  Once soft, evenly spread over chocolate base.  Finish with a drizzle of caramel or chocolate sauce and chopped peanuts.  You can also use chopped SKOR bars as well for a little extra crunch.

Cover and freeze until ready to serve.  YUM!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Le bon viveur: Chicken Wing Threesome - Gluten free

Le bon viveur: Chicken Wing Threesome - Gluten free: "Sorry if you were searching for some 'other' website!!! Since you are here, why not give these birds a try! These chicken wings are fantast..."

Chicken Wings - Gluten Free trio

These chicken wings are fantastic for parties.  You can play with various sauces depending on your tastes. This trio has a bit of everything - hot, sweet/tangy and crrrunchy! They'll be the life of the party!!!!

Serve with your favourite sporting event and lots of beer.

Soy/Ginger Wings (far left)

Crispy Party Wings (front center)

Buffalo Hot Wings
(top right)

Super Soy Ginger Wings:
This recipe was adapted from the Best of Bridge cookbook and has been modified to be gluten free.  The sauce is enough for about a dozen wings so make sure you adjust the recipe depending on your numbers.

15 chicken wings
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBSP cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp pepper
2/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup gluten free soya sauce

Cut wings in half at joint.  Discard tips.  Place on broiler rack and bake at 400F for 15 minutes, turn and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Mix the remaining ingredients together and cook over medium/high heat until mixture thickens.  Be sure to stir constantly. Boil for an additional two minutes and remove from heat.  Brush over wings and continue to bake wings for about 35 minutes.  During baking, brush soy mixture on wings frequently.  Serve warm or cold.

Crispy Party Wings / Buffalo Hot Wings:

24 chicken wings (same process as above)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 TSP dried chili flakes
3 to 4 TBSP olive oil
3 to 4 TBSP vegetable oil

In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and spices.  Toss in chicken wings and to evenly coat.  Add olive oil and ensure all wings are coated with the mixture.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Heat a shallow non-stick frying pan or wok with vegetable oil over medium to high heat.  Add chicken wings one at a time and fry until lightly brown.  Place chicken wings on non stick try and bake in the 400 degree oven for an additional 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

Toss half the wings in your favourite sauce.  Try hot, bbq or sweet chili - The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Terrific gluten free turkey stuffing

What is a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without indulging in some moist turkey stuffing smothered in gravy.  You can easily make a mouthwatering gluten free version in addition to your regular stuffing if you need an alternative.  
  • 1 loaf gluten free bread. Cut into cubes and dried
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 ribs celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries* (optional)
  • 15 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2.5 cups stock (turkey or chicken)
  • 1 tbsp Unsalted butter
To prepare the stuffing, preheat your oven to 350° degrees Fahrenheit.  Dice the onions, celery and carrot.  Melt the butter in a large fry pan over medium-low heat and add veggies.  Cook until translucent and mushrooms have released their water.

Chop the fresh sage and thyme. Add all of the herbs and spices and let cook until translucent. When done, add to the bread and toss to combine. Whisk the eggs and stock together. Add the mixture, a bit at a time, over the bread and toss. Add dried cranberries.  Butter a large casserole dish, add the stuffing and cover.

Cover and bake the stuffing for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes. Once the stuffing is golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gluten Free Mini Meatballs

These little meatballs are a sure-fire hit at any party.  They can be served as an appetizer in a chafing dish or slow cooker (on toothpicks), or can be served hot on their own.  Everyone is always asking for the recipe.  Now everyone can ask you for the recipe too.

Mini Meatballs:

2 lbs lean ground beef (1000g)
2 eggs
1 cup fine gluten free bread crumbs
6 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 cup chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce*

NOTE:, Canadian Worcestershire sauce contains gluten whereas the UK and US brands do not.  Please check the origin of your sauce.  This ingredient can be omitted or you can use a homemade Worcestershire sauce if desired.  Recipe for homemade Worcestershire sauce to follow soon.

Chili Grape Sauce:

12 oz bottle chili sauce
10 oz jar grape jelly
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp gluten free soy sauce

Mix ground beef with eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, onion, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Roll into small balls, no more than one inch in diameter.  Heat chili sauce, jelly, lemon juice, brown sugar and soy sauce in a large pot.  Bring to a boil and add uncooked meatballs.  Simmer meatballs in sauce for at least 30 minutes or until all meatballs are cooked through.

These can be made days ahead and either frozen or refrigerated the night before.  Delicious!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gluten Free Lemon Tarts

These are a bit finicky to make but well worth the effort.

Lemon Curd:
Juice and zest from two (2) lemons - try to get Meyer lemons as they are the best. If not, organic are nice too!!!
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup cold butter cubed
A few crushed tarragon or basil leaves

Do not turn the stove on just yet.  In a small bowl, mix together sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and crushed aromatic of choice.  In a pot, whisk eggs and add lemon juice.  Add the sugar mixture to pot and turn the stove onto low. Add the butter slowly, one bit at a time.  Continue to stir until mixture becomes thick.  Remove from stove and push mixture through a sieve.  Transfer to bowl and cool in fridge until ready to use.

Shortbread Tarts:

1 cup butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cup gluten free flour
1 Tsp cornstarch

Blend all ingredients really well with hand mixer until light and fluffy.  Gently press dough into small tart moulds with your fingers.  You can either blind bake these or poke a lot of holes in the bottom of the tarts to prevent them from puffing up.  This is the fiddley part.  Bake for about minutes until brown.  Let cool and carefully remove from pan.

Add filling and enjoy.

Home made energy bars

These home made energy bars are delicious and a fraction of the cost of what you'd pay for something similar in stores. They are really easy to make and they keep well in the fridge or freezer long term.

Look for Medjool dates as they are very tender, tasty and easy to work with.

12 Medjool dates (approx. 1 cup)
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup plain almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries, blueberries or raisins
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup puffed rice
1 heaping tablespoon organic peanut or almond butter
1/4 tsp salt or to taste

In a large bowl or pestle, mush pitted dates into a paste.  In a food processor, roughly chop cashews and almonds.  Don't over process or you'll be left with butter!!!!

Add all ingredients to the date mixture and mix well with hands.  Place mixture into cellophane lined pan.  Press well to ensure all ingredients are tightly packed.  Cover with remaining cellophane and refrigerate for about one hour.  Remove bars from pan and cut into desired portions.  Individually wrap and enjoy when you want a healthy snack!  Keep in the fridge to extend the shelf life.

Note:  Experiment with variety of ingredients!  Some ideas include:

  • Toast the nuts for a more intense flavour!
  • Add chocolate or yogurt chips for a kid friendly version
  • Other ingredient ideas - try adding flax, chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds!

Million Dollar Gluten Free Pizza

This pizza was inspired by friends of mine from Monaco.  It's packed full of flavour especially when using high quality/flavourful toppings.  It's meant to be eaten with a fork (gold plated or silver preferably) and a bottle of your best bubbly.  Mind you, they'd spend more than $100 on toppings but you can achieve the same million dollar experience on a pauper's budget. 

The secret is in the sauce, the quality of your ingredients, how the pizza is assembled and cooked.  I love it because it's packed full of healthy veggies and very hearty. I've adapted the pizza to be gluten free but you can get similar results on wheat based crusts as well.  To achieve optimum results, wheat based pizzas should be cooked on a hot pizza stone.

Million Dollar Pizza Sauce:
1 large can San Marzano Tomatoes (de-seeded through a food mill)
1 tube good quality tomato paste
1 onion finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 anchovies finely chopped
3-5 softened sundried tomatoes finely chopped
2 TSP Oregano
1 TSP thyme
Fresh Basil (6-8 leaves)
Salt to taste
Olive Oil
1/2 cup cold water if needed

On medium to low heat, saute onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil until transparent. Add sun dried tomatoes, anchovies and tomato paste and cook for another couple minutes. Add San Marzano tomatoes, oregano, thyme and salt to taste. 

The key to the sauce is to cook it on low heat for a long time until the sauce reduces to a flavourful, thick sauce packed with flavour (minimum 1 hour).  Keep an eye on the sauce and add more water if needed.  Once the sauce is almost done, add ripped basil leaves and finish with a swig of olive oil.  Your finished sauce should not be runny and have a wonderful, intense flavour.

Million Dollar Gluten Free Crust
This crust is thicker than most pizza crusts, however, it works well with this pizza as it holds the toppings well and is very flavourful.  It's important to par-cook the crust. From my experience, if you want to pile on a ton of toppings, make a thick crust.  If you want something a bit lighter, this recipe can be make into a thin crust as well.  

11⁄2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3⁄4 cup warm milk (110°F)
1  teaspoon sugar 
11⁄2 cups gluten free flour blend 
11⁄2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1  teaspoon dried thyme, crushed in your palm
1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
2  large eggs
2  tablespoons olive oil
1  teaspoon cider vinegar

1  tablespoon olive oil
11⁄4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1⁄4  teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm milk. Set aside to foam for 5 minutes. Generously grease a 11x7-inch nonstick pan. 

Combine all remaining bread ingredients in a large mixing bowl, add yeast mixture, and beat with electric mixer about the dough thickens, about 1 minute. Dough will be soft and sticky and have the consistency of runny mash potatoes.

Transfer dough to pan that has been sprinkled with the cornmeal and smooth top with wet spatula. Cover loosely with aluminum foil tent and let rise in warm place (75 to 80 degrees) for 40 to 50 minutes or until desired height. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle dough with topping ingredients. Par cook for around 15 minutes or until top starts to turn light golden brown and the crust is almost cooked through.  The second part of baking is only to darken/crisp up the sides and bottom of the crust.

Guidelines for Assembly:
  • Ensure all your veggies are thinly cut and uniform in size. 
  • Start assembling your pizza with the crust, lots of sauce, cheese and then veggies.  This allows for the veggies to caramelize, cook and release their moisture into the oven, not into your pizza crust!
  • When using mushrooms, make sure they are thinly sliced. Mushrooms release a ton of water when cooking.  These always need to be put on last.
  • Use the correct type of mozzarella cheese.  Yes, there is a difference and it's important that you use stretchy mozzarella not pressed mozzarella. Stretchy mozzarella is mild in flavour and will give you that nice smooth, stretchy consistency you've come to love from your local pizzeria.  If you use pressed mozzarella which is usually really high in fat, the cheese will release a ton of oil and become hard quickly.  
  • Place any meat slices on pizza the last ten minutes of cooking.  This prevents the meat from overcooking and releasing excessive oil into your pizza.  
  • Place any complimentary cheeses such as Parmesan, goats cheese or any other specialty cheeses on pizza the last five minutes of cooking. 
  • Once done, let sit for five minutes - dig in and enjoy!!!
Ingredients used on pizza shown above:
  • Red, Yellow and Green Peppers
  • Red Onion
  • Roasted Garlic Cloves (already cooked)
  • Red Chilies
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Finished with Parmesan cheese

Monday, September 27, 2010

Too Good To Be Gluten Free Brownies

These brownies are just delicious.  Regardless that these are suitable for both "O" blood type diets and Gluten Free diets.  Even if you want to sneak a bit more fiber and protein in your diet, these little babies will do the trick.  Don't let the beans fool you - these are better than some of the other gluten free brownies I've tried using gluten free flour.  The brownies come out super moist on the inside with the goodness of crumbly edges on the outside. 

Look for adzuki beans (small sweet red beans popular in Japanese cooking) in health food stores, Asian supermarkets and some regular supermarkets.  If you can't find them, use 1 3/4 cups (425ml) drained, rinsed canned or cooked black beans.

1/2 cup butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
1 can (14oz/398ml) adzuki* beans, drained and rinsed
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Line 9 inch square metal cake pan with parchment paper leaving a 1 inch overhang.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter with chocolate over low heat and set aside. Meanwhile, in a food processor, puree beans until smooth.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until pale and thickened.  Beat in the vanilla. Stir in chocolate mixture until combined.  Stir in beans until smooth.  Scrape into prepared pans.

Bake in centre of 350 degree (F) oven until cake tester inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging - about 45 minutes.  Let cool in pan on rack.  Cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate tunil cold, about two hours.  Using paper handles, remove brownies from pan and cut into squares.

Make-ahead:  Refrigerate in air tight container for up to five days or wrap individually and freeze for up to two weeks.

*adzuki beans are 'highly beneficial' on the O-type diet.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eat Right For Your Type

An amazing book by Dr. Peter D'Adamo with Catherine Whitney - I was skeptical when I was first introduced to the concept.  It was just coming off the whole Atkins and South Beach fad when carbs were considered 'evil' and bacon & eggs were 'fashionable'!  I thought this book was yet another ploy to separate us from our hard earned cash while promising new found health and weight loss.

I had quite a few people comment on how eating according to your blood type really worked - that being feeling better and of course, dropping those unwanted pounds.  As I've never been too overly concerned with weight, I did notice I was putting on a few extra pounds (ah, the joys of aging I guess) and felt very lethargic, bloated and just plain crappy. 

You see, I love food.  I don't necessarily eat a lot of it, but what I do enjoy are flavours, fat and the oooooh so good feeling of a gooey piece of chocolate cake as you wash the last bite down with a full bodied red wine.  Ohhhh so good.   I have loads of friends who are extremely happy to eat steamed fish and veggies every night. I can hardly stomach leftovers the next day let alone eat the same thing day after day after day.   These are the same people who can go to the best restaurant in town and order a bowl of lettuce with a plain piece of bony white chicken for $20.  Why bother....

The idea of going on any type of cleanse, diet or restricted meal plan was not my idea of fun.  I tried a ten day Wild Rose cleanse which almost killed me.  What?  I can't have gluten, diary, vinegar, coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar?  What was I expected to eat then????  In and around the same time I was told about the book, my girlfriend was just diagnosed with Celiac disease and was forced to go on a restricted diet.  So as a sign of solidarity, I decided to change my diet as well - just to see if I could do it.

The executive summary - different blood types react to different foods.  As not all foods are created equal, not all people are created equal as well.   The book explains in detail how and why this is and gives great examples of what foods and exercise programs work for the various blood types. The book breaks out all foods into three categories (highly beneficial, neutral and avoid).

Being an "O" blood type,  you will be pleased to know that I was ecstatic to learn that some of my favourite foods were listed under the 'highly beneficial' or 'neutral' category.  Yes, red wine was listed as well as chocolate.  Thank God!  But alas, the dreaded gluten and dairy had to rear its ugly head under the 'avoid' category.  I decided to give it a go for one month. 

I took a good look at all the ingredients and did an internal summary - if I was going to do this I needed to be creative.   As I got more and more into it, I realized I could continue to eat more or less along the same lines as I have previously have if I took a creative substitution versus an elimination approach.

For example, peanuts are a "no no" while almonds are considered 'neutral'.  So instead of having peanut butter on toast, I substituted almond butter on either gluten free bread or a rice cracker.  Or instead of ordering regular french fries (white potatoes bad), I happily indulged in a delicious side of yam fries. I order red wine instead of white wine or beer.  Sure it was an adjustment but it became quite easy to identify various options that still satisfied the pallet and allowed me to maintain some sort of commitment to this way of eating.

Within a few weeks, I started to feel really energetic and the bloating and fatigue I normally experienced disappeared.  I had more energy and became more active - not only did the weight start coming off, I felt great.  When I did occasionally cheat, I'd get instantly gassy and bloated.  It became really obvious what foods would react with my system.  It basically becomes a choice as to when you want to indulge (yes, bring on those five star restaurants), and when you try to follow the program as best you can.

My thoughts - it's a lifestyle thing (yes, we have all heard that before) - but this is pretty easy to follow as long as you are creative and cut yourself some slack once in a while.  I try to follow it as best I can but being a 'foodie', I'm kidding myself if I think I'd be living a full and authentic life if I only ate steamed fish and veggies every night. O blood types don't do well with condiments and I do cheat once in a while.  Some days I am giving it 100% while other days, I strive for 80%.  This seemed to work for me. 

Once you get into it, it gets much easier.  I now enjoy experimenting with recipes and seeing what substitutions work well.  I also identify tricks, tips and products that are available in some of our local grocery stores to help with the plan.  For now, my priority is the "O" type but I hope to post some good food finds for the other blood types as I come across them. 

I really recommend picking up a copy of the book and giving it a try.

Watch for recipe postings on my blog.