Thursday, February 17, 2011

Savoury butternut squash muffins

Dear friends,

This weekend I baked and brought what turned out to be delicious savoury muffins to a brunch potluck, pictured to the left. These babies were packed with butternut squash, spinach, parsley, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, feta, and parmesan.

These delicious treats are hearty and filling, and even the gluten and dairy averse could not help themselves from partaking because they were so beautiful. I will link to the recipe (HERE) because I don't want to steal the text and am too lazy to make it my own. But don't be too lazy to make them because they are so tasty.


SOCCA - SO delicious.

alright i'm not just saying this because i'm no longer eating wheat, but socca (chickpea flour flatbread) is one of the best things to happen to me in a long time. it's one of the easiest things to make, is incredibly adaptable and has an amazing texture and flavour. you can use it as you would a roti or chapati. or as a bread with dinner. OR you could get really crazy with it and make socca pizza.

all you need:
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
olive oil
sea salt
ANY spice that you might want for flavour (cumin, rosemary, etc)
a cast iron skillet or other oven safe skillet

here's what you do:
mix together the water, chickpea flour and about a spoonful of olive oil. whisk together and let the batter rest (outside of the fridge) for preferably 2 hours. in a pinch, i have made this without enough resting time and the taste seems fine but the texture is not as fluffy.

when you're ready to get going, turn your broiler on as high as possible. put the pan in the oven on it's own to get it piping hot. I usually leave mine in for 5-10 minutes. then, add a bunch of olive oil (a few teaspoons at least if you're using cast iron). and pour a bit of the batter into the pan. you can use as much or as little as you want. for pancake style socca, 1 cup of flour usually makes about 3. broil on high until the socca cooks through and the top is browned.

remove from the oven, drizzle with olive oil, some kind of coarse salt i've you've got it, and whatever other seasonings you choose (rosemary is usually best to add after the fact while cumin should be mixed into the batter).

chickpea flour is high in protein, fibre, and all sorts of nutrients. AND it tastes amazing.


Friday, February 11, 2011

brightening up a gluten-free existence....

dear friends and lovers:

for various assorted reasons, i have been eating gluten-free these days after a month-long "detox". this likely explains my lack of blog posting. what kind of zeal could i possibly have in a life with no gluten? WELL. let me tell you. my need for treats has propelled me into the world of mystery flours: almond flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour....

First, a quick note on almond flour. It is VERY expensive. Sometimes its worth buying it pre-ground because it has a much finer texture. But you could also experiment with making your own in a food processor. It's all about finding the balance between ground almonds and almond butter. All you need are some blanched almonds (skin off) and you're good to go.

So for now, I will share an amazing cookie recipe that I made last night. Largely inspired by the amazing Elana at Elana's Pantry, here is a recipe for gluten free lemon lavender cookies.

you need:
1 1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons dried lavender, finely minced
1/4 cup oil (i used canola, but Elana recommends grapeseed oil - which is much healthier. It is, of course, much more expensive and canola worked fine).
3 teaspoons agave nectar (you could also use honey or maple syrup if you don't have agave and if you are less considered about high glycemic foods)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
juice of half a lemon

now, here's what you do:
1. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Whisk wet ingredients in a smaller bowl.
3. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones.
4. Form the cookie dough into 1/2 inch balls and press them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (no need to grease if you're using parchment)
5. Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes.

Be VERY careful not to overbake. Almond flour is funny so if you're experimenting with it, i'd recommend baking these in the upper portion of your oven. I baked mine closer the bottom and found that i had to leave them in for a bit longer than the 10 minutes since they weren't setting, but then the bottoms ended up burnt. If this happens to you, you can use a grater on the bottoms of these babies and they will be good as new.

enjoy hot out of the oven!
you won't even miss the wheat in these little gems.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Pasta that Almost Lead to Tenderness (aka Fettucine with Peas, Asparagus and Pancetta)

Last night had all the makings of a great night - a shower, a hot steamy evening (thank you tropical weather) and the decadence of pancetta. Tenderness guarantee, right? WRONG. BUT, the pasta was deeeelish. Like, make it for a co-worker you want to impress with your culinary prowess.
Or when you have someone who thinks they are better than you over for dinner. Oh really, person who thinks they're better than me? Have you tried this awesome fucking pasta? Just do not use this pasta on the path to tenderness, for that road is fraught with peril and early morning golf games.

Also, as a tenderness-related-P.S. and a heavily nostalgic note, I've been listening to the epic first wives' club "you don't own me" every morning while teeth brushing and/or bed making and I'd say it has improved my life at least 17%. If we add in my frequent bacon-product use, we might be up to a solid 20% improvement overall. The potent combo of feminist empowerment and grease should never be underestimated. Anyways, every day should start out that awesome and end off with me.

Finally, some alterations: I usually add a bit more lemon because I think it is more fresh and delicious that way. I substitute the whipping cream for whatever 1% or 2% milk I have in the fridge (add a bit less.) And I never add peas to this dish because I find them suspicious and gross, but if you're into that then go wild. Hope you lovers enjoy. xo

12 ounces fettuccine or penne
3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 1/4 pounds asparagus, trimmed, cut on diagonal into 1-inch pieces
2 cups shelled fresh green peas, blanched 1 minute in boiling water, drained, or frozen peas (do not thaw)
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, white and pale green parts separated from dark green parts
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, cook pancetta in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon drippings from skillet. Add asparagus to drippings in skillet; sauté 3 minutes. Add peas, white and pale green parts of green onions, and garlic; sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add vegetable mixture, 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, dark green parts of green onions, 1/2 cup Parmesan, cream, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon peel, half of parsley, and half of basil to pasta. Toss, adding more cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls if needed. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle pancetta, remaining parsley, and basil over. Serve, passing additional Parmesan cheese.