Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Italian Almond Cookies

These delicious gluten-free cookies won the Star Tribune holiday cookie contest.  I would call these marzipan cookies, because that is what they taste like. When I tasted the first batch I thought, "I've made these before."  Sure enough, these cookies taste very much like some marzipan and pine nut Easter cookies I used to make.  The problem with that recipe is that it requires a pound of expensive marzipan, while this recipe starts with less costly almond meal.  (Buy Honeyville blanched almond flour online.)

These are the kind of cookies you can make every year.  They are quick and easy to bake and nearly foolproof.  Besides, they taste amazing (if you're a fan of marzipan) and will be eaten very quickly.  The lemon zest is a touch of genius, don't omit it!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Date Balls

These date balls are a healthy sweet treat, a little like energy bar bites.  Try different combinations of nuts--I used pistachios instead of the cashews recommended in the recipe in this batch.  You can also spice them up with cinnamon, cardamom or nutmeg.  Roll the balls in cocoa powder or cinnamon sugar to gild the lilly.  There is no end of combinations!  They would make a festive addition to the holiday table.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sweet and Savory Roasted Cauliflower

I tried this for Thanksgiving and it was a hit!  I would never have thought that rosemary, olives, cumin and--surprise-- dates would be good together, much less over cauliflower but they are.  Also, I'm a believer in roasting cruciferous vegetables to reduce bitterness and enhance sweetness and this recipe takes advantage of that technique.  Definitely a keeper.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tres Leches Cake

Years ago our friend, Amy Edelstein, introduced us to Tres Leches cake.  Her recipe is made with pancake mix.  I like this version better for two reasons: it uses flour (which make it easier to convert to a gluten-free version since the leavening is separate) and coconut milk.  As far as I am concerned, more coconut milk is always better.  You can't have enough coconut milk!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Shitake Mushroom and Leek Quiche

I absolutely love Small Plates & Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga.  What a beautiful book!  And there are some wonderful recipes including this quiche.

While tasty, this quiche does take a bit of time to make, mainly because of the crust.  I made my own quinoa flour by grinding raw quinoa in a Nutriblast.  In the original recipe there wasn't enough filling for American tastes, so I've increased the amounts here which also increased the cooking time.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Salted Caramel Frosting

We were at the cabin for my husband's birthday and I needed a simple birthday cake solution.  I made chocolate cupcakes from a mix, and to make them special I decided to make salted caramel frosting.  Doesn't that sound like a good idea?  I thought so too, only I'd never made salted caramel frosting.  However, I was sure that someone somewhere had and that the recipe was only a Google search away.  Sure enough, I found this good and simple recipe and birthday bliss was secured!

This frosting can be made ahead, tightly covered, and refrigerated—it will last up to 7 days. Let it come to room temperature before using.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

Eight hours.  Eight hours!  That is how long it takes to slow roast these delicious plum tomatoes.  But, it's worth it!  Add some milk and cream and a drop of honey to a puree of these tomatoes and heat for a flavorful soup.  Or puree them to make a simple savory tomato sauce.  The best time to make this recipe is at the end of summer, when you can buy bushels of tomatoes for a song at the local farmer's market.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Vegetable Frittata

For a low-carb alternative to the quiche, the frittata is a solid weekday meal option.  This version calls for zucchini, bell peppers and black olives.  Feel free to substitute with other vegetables while keeping the quantities about the same.  It's important not to use vegetables that are too watery, like fresh tomatoes, otherwise the frittata won't set properly.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

This version of the Thai soup known as tom kha gai has been adapted for those of us who shop in Western grocery stores.  The only ingredient that might be difficult to get is lemongrass, although a substitution using lemon rind is noted.  Be sure to use only the lemon and lime peel with as little of the white pith as possible. The pith is bitter and will give the soup an off-taste.  I like to add additional veggies like the baby corn pictured above.

Herbed Lamb Meatballs with Coconut Milk

For a fairly simple recipe, the results are quite outstanding.  My whole family enjoyed these moist soft lamb meatballs and the accompanying creamy tangy sauce.  Use fresh herbs, if possible, for the most flavor.  If the cost of lamb is prohibitive, you can substitute ground chicken or turkey.

I like to serve these with mashed potatoes and a green salad.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Coconut and Yogurt Panna Cotta with Roasted Plums

On Saturday my son made several recipes from the new cookbook from Aran Goyoaga, creator of the beautiful Cannelle et Vanille blog.  Interestingly, all the recipes in her Small Plates & Sweet Treats cookbook are gluten-free which is rather amazing for a former pastry chef.

Westie spent half a day making clams, peas and potatoes en papillote, ricotta and quinoa gnocchi with pea shoot and almond pesto, a peach and tomato salad and this panna cotta for dessert.  Everything was delicious, but I have to say that the panna cotta was the real winner.  I love the coconut milk and the wonderful flavor of vanilla beans, but the roasted plums give it some visual zing and provide a tart/sweet foil to the creaminess of the panna cotta.  This is a great make-ahead option for entertaining.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Zucchini-Potato Pancakes

At the end of summer when the zucchini harvest comes in you can make these delicious pancakes.  They make a wonderful accompaniment to a soup and salad dinner.  I like to fry them in coconut oil which gives them a lovely fragrance, but if you don't care for that you can use high-heat safflower or peanut oil.  These make a nice appetizer in a silver dollar size, served with sour cream and chopped chives.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cherry Clafoutis

I'd like to thank Anne Burrell for this splendid recipe for Cherry Clafoutis.  I've made clafoutis before and couldn't see what the fuss was about.  It's basically an egg-y cake-pie thing with cherries.  Pretty bland actually, aside from the fruit.  But in this recipe, with the addition of ground almonds, the flavors are in better balance and the texture is good too.  Cherries are a fine choice when they are in season, but you could also try this with plums, pears or peaches.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Easy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is it cheating to use a mix to make cookies?  I think not.  These are doctored-up with tahini, so they are denser and moister than the classic mix cookie.  If you lack tahini (sesame seed butter) you can use another kind of nut butter.  (Almond butter is also very good.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Colombian Cheese-stuffed Arepas

I miss all the arepas we had when we visited my mother's family in Colombia.  That was nearly 20 years ago, so it is high time that I learned to make my own.  I used to have a very simple recipe that called for slapping the shaped arepas onto the oven rack to cook, but I've lost it.  Most recipes instruct you to fry the arepas in a pan, which I find tedious.  I converted this recipe to a broiler operation, which means it should also work well on an outdoor grill.  Serve with fruit and soup for a simple dinner.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Yogurt Cake

Yogurt cake or Gateau au Yaourt is the first cake French children learn to bake.  They use the empty yogurt container to measure out the rest of the ingredients.  It is a moist cake that goes well with summer fruits.

I have tried to replicate this recipe in an American kitchen with less than stellar results because of the difficulties of converting French ingredient measurements and oven settings to US standards.  Elisabeth Bard found this recipe on Clotilde Dusoulier's blog and included it in her entertaining memoir, Lunch in Paris.  This cake is a winner!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

German Apple Pancake

German puffed pancakes are a bit of culinary magic, like a very simple souffle.  I like this version with apples.  It's tasty and quick.  Double the recipe and you'll be ready for guests.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Pecan Cookies

The James Beard award winning pastry chef, Dominique Ansel, came up with the recipe for these simple gluten free chocolate cookies--clearly this guy is a genius!  Dark, moist and chocolatey, they are more like molten brownie pieces than your traditional cookie.  They are easy to make, but require an overnight rest in the refrigerator so planning ahead is essential.

The dough can be made ahead of time and kept for up to three days in the refrigerator.  Once baked, the cookies should be consumed within two days or stored in the freezer.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sauteed Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Port Sauce

For tender succulent pork in delicious sauce, look no further.  This recipe comes together quickly and will satisfy your family's weeknight appetite.  The recipe is easily doubled for a dinner party.  Serve with rice pilaf and a salad or steamed vegetables.

If you don't have dried cherries, you may substitute any other dried fruit.  I have used dried apricots, golden raisins, currants, and various combinations.  It always tastes pretty good anyway.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Curried Chicken Salad

Whenever I have enough leftover roasted chicken, I am tempted to make this recipe.  It's one that I've made for years and it has never failed me -- it's moist, flavorful and the cashews add a nice crunch.  This makes a nice luncheon meal, or a fine weeknight dinner.  The recipe makes a generous amount of dressing--any extra can be bottled and saved in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lazy Mary's Lemon Tart

Summer isn't summer without a killer lemon tart.  And this is the recipe!  It's quick and easy and tastes great. You can bake this filling in a standard pie crust in a pinch, but sweet tart crust is even better.  If you are looking for a recipe for tart dough, try this one.  For a gluten-free version, I use the pate brisee recipe from Blackbird Bakery.

For a crustless lemon tart, try baking the mixture in ramekins in a bain marie (water bath).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Braised Tofu in Mushroom Sauce

Tofu and mushrooms are a great combination and this flavorful recipe makes for an easy weeknight dinner with Asian flavors.  Serve over rice with a side of steamed edamame.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Thai Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Ladies, start your immersion blenders!  This is a very flavorful soup with a silky texture, but you have to puree it.  For this I prefer an immersion blender since pouring hot liquids back and forth from a blender is not my definition of a fun time.  This recipe also makes use of a slow cooker, one of my favorite appliances. You may garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of parsley or cilantro.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sticky Rice with Mango

My family loves sticky rice with mango, the quintessential Thai dessert.  I have tried several recipes, with the hopes of finding one that was simple enough that we could enjoy this dessert often during mango season.  I think I have succeeded, with a few adjustments.  If you don't have a rice cooker, you may want to follow the link below to the original recipe.  See what you think!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Caramel Flan

My mother's signature dish is flan.  She gave me her recipe once and it has never worked for me.  The caramel stuck to the mold and would not come out, and the flan itself was dense and heavy.  When she made it for us last Christmas, I realized that she was having the same problems with the recipe as I had. Clearly, it was time to find a new recipe for flan.

This recipe from the Star Tribune is a revelation.  It works!  And it tastes good.  Plus the custard has a light clean taste as flan should.  It's not complicated to make, but it does need to be made ahead of time as the flans must chill overnight.

Chicken with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Our friend, Celine, sent us her recipe for chicken with spicy peanut sauce over 20 years ago and I still use it.  You can make the sauce as spicy as you like by increasing or omitting the amount of cayenne pepper. This peanut sauce is easy to make and good over cooked chicken or tofu.  Serve with rice and a side of edamame for a tasty weeknight dinner.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Corn Chowder

I've been making this soup for years and it always satisfies.  Don't skip the bacon as it imparts a lot of flavor.  And use good quality corn: I like Trader Joe's Organic frozen corn kernels.  For good quality chicken broth Cook's Illustrated recommends Swanson's Organic chicken broth.  This recipe double easily for your next informal dinner party or family gathering.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Apple Raspberry Crisp

We went to Afton Apple Orchard last fall and had a grand time picking apples and raspberries.  I decided to take my recipe for Rhubarb-Strawberry Crisp and re-purpose it for the bounty at hand. I used golden raspberries because that was what we picked but red raspberries would be equally good.  You could also skip the raspberries altogether.

Depending on the apple variety you are using you might need more or less sugar.  For tart apples like Haralson, use the full amount of sugar in the filling.  The Sweet 16 apples I used were very sweet and probably didn't need any sugar. In fact a squeeze of lemon might be good if using apples that lack any tartness.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fried Smashed Potatoes

These excellent potatoes will be a family favorite.  They do take a little while to make, so probably best saved for the weekend.  Or, if you must have them on a weeknight, you could try boiling the potatoes ahead of time.  The combination of lemon, garlic and salt really make these very tasty.  Warning: could be habit-forming!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chicken Enchiladas

Whenever we have some leftover roasted chicken, I like to make these enchiladas.  They are delicious and relatively simple to prepare.  See if you can eat just one.  Any leftover enchiladas make great lunches!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Baked Eggs with Taleggio

For a baked egg dinner, this is sure to please and it's quick to make.  The first time I made this recipe, I stuck closely to the original ingredients, going so far as to find Taleggio, a mild semi-soft Italian cheese, at a local cheese shop.  The next time I made it, I was cleaning out the contents of the cheese drawer and used whatever odd chunks of cheese we had on hand.  This time I also added some chopped, sauteed zucchini and onion for a small but satisfying low-carb, one-ramekin meal.

The last few times I've made it, I fried some onions, mushrooms and fresh spinach and added that to the mix. From simple to grand, this makes a simple and quick weeknight dinner served with bread and a salad.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Gluten-free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I found this recipe for banana bread online and thought it looked very familiar.  It claimed to be the world's best recipe for banana bread, and when I compared it to my favorite banana bread recipe, I knew why. This is the same recipe I've been using for years, from The Martha Stewart Cookbook.  Usually I make a loaf, but the muffins are very handy for lunch boxes.

Even with gluten-free Cup4Cup flour, these are light, fluffy and moist.  Adding a few mini-chocolate chips makes them more kid-friendly without a lot of extra sugar.