Monday, October 28, 2013

Public Class: Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free Cakes & Cake Decorating

I was recently going through the thousands and thousands of food pictures on my computer after our move and discovered a bunch of photos from classes I taught before leaving NY.  This is a vegan, gluten free, soy free cake and cake decorating class I taught at NGI.  I unfortunately don't recall what each of the cakes are, but they certainly look delicious!  And a lot of the time, when I look at a particular cake, I remember the student that decorated it.  And it brings back happy memories of a great time in my life.  Enjoy the pictures of these lovely, tasty cakes. 

I remember this cake was made by an 11 year old boy taking
the class with his mother.  He has gluten allergies and his twin
sister does not, so this was a great opportunity for him to make
something that he could do for his birthday.  So nice!

And this one was made by his mother.

This is half of a couple that attended together.  I believe the class
was a gift for the lady.  And she made this cake as a Thank You.

The top of this one almost looks like a pie.  Love it!

A sample plate of all the cake flavors.  Yum!



Friday, October 25, 2013

Mashed Potatoes with Corn Gravy, Mustard Sage Seitan, Steamed Broccoli, Simple Salad

I made this meal after browsing through the seemingly millions of cookbooks I have, and landing on Horizon Cafe's cookbook.  I looked through everything in the book and went with this recipe because I had the majority of the ingredients on hand and it seemed easy enough to make.  I was really curious about the corn gravy, thinking that there was no way I would really like it, but what the heck, as I keep telling myself, it is my impossible goal to make almost all of the recipes in the cookbooks I have, so another recipe down!  While I was making it, I was looking suspiciously at the corn simmering in the liquid and trying to imagine it as a gravy, but couldn't.  Same thing with the seitan.  I tried the marinade before it was cooked and was a little turned off - it was pretty strong.  But, I have learned that whenever you have a marinade that you whisk together and pour over a protein, and it includes an oil that has to be emulsified, the sauce will become nice and thick, which in and of itself makes a damn good sauce! 

When I placed the plate of food before both the Hubby and I, I was debating about telling him the names of the foods.  I was thinking I should just say, here's some baked seitan and potatoes and gravy and get on with it.  He wouldn't ask any questions and would dig right in, saying his usual "It's delicious honey, thank you".  But, of course I never learn to do that, so I told him I made Mustard Sage Baked Seitan and Mashed Potatoes with a Corn Gravy.  After looking at me a little strangely, then looking at the plate strangely, and giving everything a not-so-delicate sniff, he started eating.  After taking a bite of each the seitan and the gravy, he looked at me, surprised.  Then, after quickly skimming off and eating all the gravy from his potatoes, he holds up his plate and asks for more gravy.  He has never done that before with gravy.  Never!  So I knew it had to be ridiculously tasty, and was it!   Yum!  He ended up getting another serving of the potatoes and dousing it with the gravy.  Good choice of recipes to test!  I will definitely make both of these again!  So tasty!

Mashed Potatoes with Corn Gravy, Mustard Sage Seitan, Steamed Broccoli:

Serves 4

Corn Gravy:
1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups corn, thawed if frozen
4 ounces white wine
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetable boullion powder
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with your fingers
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Steamed Broccoli:
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, thick part of stem removed, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
pinch garlic powder
1.  While the seitan was cooking, I prepared the corn gravy.  In a large pot, add the olive oil over medium heat and allow it to become hot.  Once it is hot, add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, or until golden and softened.  Add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.  Add the corn and saute for an additional 5 minutes, or until the corn has browned.  Add the wine to deglaze the pan and allow it to reduce by half.  Add the water, boullion powder, sage, thyme, paprika and black pepper.  Allow this mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes.
2. Working in two batches, blend the mixture for several minutes, or until completely smooth.  Pour the gravy back into the pan with a mesh strainer on top, stirring until all of the gravy goes through.  The fiber from the corn is all that will be left in the strainer.  Discard and repeat with the remaining gravy.  Season to taste (it should taste amazing!) Cover the pot with a lid and keep warm.
3.  Prepare the broccoli.  Place a steamer basket in a medium sized pot over high heat, filling the bottom with water. Cover the pot and allow the water to come to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, add the prepared broccoli, covering the pot again.  Allow the broccoli to steam for a minute or so, checking its doneness by poking with a fork.  Cook to desired tender-crispness.  Place in a serving bowl and toss to coat with the olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and pinch of garlic powder.  Season to taste.
4.  To serve, place a portion of the mashed potatoes on the plate, creating a well in the center where the gravy will go.  Place a portion of the  gravy on the mashed potatoes (believe me, you will be back for more!).  Arrange a portion of the seitan, steamed broccoli and simple salad on the plate as well.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gluten Free Private Class: Chicago

Before moving away from New York, I taught a private class for a family that lived in Chicago.  They had three girls that were gluten free with several other allergies, including soy, dairy, eggs, nuts and probably a couple other things I am forgetting.  It was such a great experience to be invited into somebody's home as an educator and help the family learn to prepare the dishes for one another that they have not had in so long.  The mother told me stories about how her children felt bad going to parties or get togethers because they were not able to enjoy the same snacks and treats as the other children and would feel left out.  So we were sure to make recipes for cookies, muffins, brownies loaves and other goodies that they could make and bring with them or simply have at home.  It was such a nice experience and I just wanted to share some photos from that time.  I love how the three girls were willing and happy to help during the class- not just their mom.  We made so much food and desserts it was crazy.  I think her freezer was definitely full for quite a while after that!

The local gluten free store, run by an eccentric lady (not the
one pictured).

Sandwich bread with a design from one of the girls.

Gluten free pizza to suit everyone - some with just sauce,
some with veggies and some with veggies and cheese. 
Kids are too funny!

Crispy eggplant with homemade gf breadcrumbs

Homemade baguette made into garlic bread.  Sooo good!

Giant pot of marinara.

The sauce for a lemon chicken dish my client wanted.  The sauce was great!

Vegetable Rissotto

Cooked gluten free quinoa pasta

Quinoa Tabouli

The Lemon Chicken Potato Dish

Gluten Free, Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

The table

Giant Platter of Eggplant Parmesan

More food.

And more.

And more.

The seriously delicious plate of gluten free, vegan food.

The happy family.

A tasty chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

The girls were very happy to put edible glitter on the cake!

Chocolate Cake, Banana Bread, Brownies

Seeded Sandwich Bread

Chocolate Chip Cookies - delicious!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Delicious blueberry muffins




Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rice, Bean & Veggie Saute, Chopped Salad with "Feta", Tostones & Guacamole

Looking at these pictures, I cannot tell you how much this dinner hit the spot.  It was so delicious and had all of the flavor and textural elements: crispy, creamy, crunchy, tangy, spicy, salty.  Yum.  It seems like such a hodge podge of items, which usually means that the hubby has made several strange requests, but this time he hit it right on the head.  We had several avocados and since I hadn't made  guacamole in quite a while, he suggested that, along with the tostones to dip in it of course.  Then we naturally needed a salad, which was my contribution.  And of course the main course of the rice and beans.  That was damn tasty!  Once I make something, write down the recipe and type it up, I don't usually revisit the recipes, because I am always thinking of more and more things to make, but I may just revisit this recipe.  Yum. 
For the salad, I was looking to replicate a kind of Greek-ish salad with the feta.  I used to love feta so much.  I would put it in salads, on pizzas, even eat small slices as is for the salty tanginess.  I made this feta with super pressed tofu.  It was easily pressing for a couple of hours.  I have made several different kinds of mock feta, most unfortunately being pretty hideous.  This was pretty good, almost there, especially texture-wise.  I am not going to post the recipe because it still needs a little tweaking, but I marinated it in olive oil, a couple vinegars, a few dried herbs, quite a bit of sea salt

Chopped Salad with Vegan Feta, Tostones,
Guacamole, Rice & Bean Saute

Tostones, Prepared
Yellow Rice & Bean Saute:
2 tablespoons garlic olive oil (minced garlic sauteed in olive oil)
2 small carrots, small diced, about 1/2 cup
1/2 orange pepper, small diced, about 1/2 cup
1/2 small green pepper, small diced, about 1/4 cup
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced, about 1/2 cup
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 cup snow peas, tough ends removed
2 cups cooked yellow rice (white rice cooked with 2 tablespoons annatto oil)
1 cup cooked pinto beans
2 teaspoons vegetable boullion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons tamari
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
Chopped Vegetable Salad:
1/2 cup medium diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup medium diced orange bell pepper
1/4 cup medium diced red onion
1/2 cup mock feta, small diced
1/4 cup medium diced Roma tomato
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared Italian Dressing
Pinch black pepper
1 extra large avocado, seeded and mashed
2 tablespoon minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced tomato
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1.  Prepare the chopped veggie salad first - the flavors are much better after marinating for a while.  Place all the chopped veggies and the feta in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir well.  Add the Italian Dressing and black pepper and toss to coat.  Cover and place in the refrigerator while preparing the rest of the meal.
2.  Begin the Rice, Bean and Veggie Saute.  Place a large wok on the stove over medium-high heat and add the garlic olive oil.  Allow it to become hot and add the carrots, orange, green and jalapeno peppers, onion and snow peas.  Saute for several minutes, stirring frequently, until veggies are crisp-tender.  Add the cooked rice and beans and stir to coat with the veggies.  Add the boullion powder, black pepper and tamari and toss to coat with all ingredients.  Season to taste.  Turn off the heat and cover.
3.  Prepare the guacamole:  in a medium bowl, add the mashed avocado and the remaining ingredients.  Stir well until ingredients are well mixed.  Season to taste. 
4.  To serve, portion amount of each the sauteed rice, beans and veggies, chopped salad, tostones and guacamole. 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fried Zucchini from the Garden

Since moving to Michigan, I have been having a blast with the garden.  There is always something coming out of it - even this late in the season.  About a month or so ago, there was some really cold weather that affected our zucchini and summer squash plants, our cucumbers and acorn squash plants.  They had produced for a couple weeks, then finished.  I was pretty disappointed in the harvest , and had been making all kinds of great plans for the harvest.  Then last week as I was making my rounds throughout the garden, I noticed that the plants were reflowering and teeny tiny baby squash were emerging from the flowers!  I was so surprised and happy!  We also have okra plants that my Hubby has been convinced were planted too late and will amount to nothing.  I have told him to be positive and that they will produce, even though I know nothing of the plants and despite the fact that his father used to grow them for income back in the Dominican Republic.  And imagine my surprise and happiness in noticing that those same okra plants that had flowered and done nothing about a month ago, have again flowered and teeny tiny okra are beginning to grow!  I really hope they continue to grow and produce, even if we only get a handful.  Our Japanese eggplants are re-growing again and are only a couple inches long right now, so I'm really hoping for some more nice, sunny weather.  Until then, I decided to make some fried zucchini to celebrate the new crop of squash and will hopefully be posting more about the delicious veggies from the garden.

Fried Zucchini:

Crispy, Salty Goodness!

Serves 2-3

1 large or 2 small zucchini, washed well and sliced into 1/4" circles

Wet Mix:
1/3 cup unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 generous pinches cayenne pepper, optional

Dry Mix:
1 cup unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 generous pinches cayenne pepper

1.  Place the sliced zucchini on a small plate and set aside until ready to use.
2.  Place the wet mix ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together until a batter forms.  Set that next to the zucchini. 
3.  In a second small bowl, add your dry mix ingredients and whisk together until all the ingredients are well combined. 
4.  Place a large saute pan over medium heat and place about 1/4" canola or other no-taste oil inside the pan.  Allow the oil to heat as you begin to prepare the zucchini. 
5.  Get two large clean plates ready.  Cover one plate with multiple layers of paper towels and set aside.  The second plate will be the place you put your dipped zucchini slices on. 
6.  Take a few of your zucchini slices and dip them in the wet mix.  Keep one hand for the wet mix and the other for the dry mix.  Using the wet hand, swish the zucchini around until they are well coated.  Now drain off any excess liquid and place them one at a time into the spiced flour mix.  Using your dry hand, toss them around until they are completely covered with the flour.  Shake off any excess flour.  Place the finished zucchini slices on the clean plate.  Continue to do this until the oil is hot. 
7.  Place the coated zucchini slices into the oil and allow them to fry for several minutes on each side, until they are golden and crispy.  Once they are cooked on both sides, transfer them to the plate with the paper towel and immediately sprinkle them with a little bit of the sea salt.  Continue dipping the zucchini and frying them until all have been fried.
8.  Try to wait at least a minute for them to cool before popping them in your mouth - I know it's almost impossible, but it really burns when the water inside the cooked zucchini squirts your tongue!  So yummy, crunchy and delicious! 



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Marinara with Fresh Tomatoes

We have sooo many tomatoes coming out of the garden right now that it's kind of ridiculous.  I've been canning tons of them - about 20 quarts so far.  I've also made about 6 quarts of homemade marinara sauce from those tomatoes and froze it, rather than canning it, although now that I think about it, I could probably make the marinara sauce and can it too.  We do have tons of onions in the garden and garlic that should be ready to harvest by the end of the month.  This is a basic marinara that can certainly be altered depending upon your preference, but I like to make it this way so that I can adjust the flavors to whatever I am making it with.  Back when I was living in Brooklyn and was given tons of ripe organic tomatoes from the place I was working, I made a salsa and canned it.  It wasn't great, but it was pretty good as a first attempt, so that may be what I'll make next.  I've also dehydrated tons of roma and cherry tomatoes for "sundried tomatoes" that I plan on reconstituting in olive oil in the winter.  Yum!  Any other tomato ideas would be appreciated!

Marinara with Fresh Tomatoes:

Fresh Tomato Marinara! So Tasty!

Fresh Tomato Marinara:
1 medium onion, small diced, about 1 1/4 cup
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes = 5 1/2 cups pureed sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
11/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1.  Prepare the tomatoes: wash, cut in half and remove the stem.  Chop the tomatoes into manageable pieces and  place them into the blender jar.  Blend until completely liquefied.  Set aside until ready to use.
2.  In a medium pot over medium heat, add the olive oil.  Allow it to become hot, then add the onions and garlic.  Saute for a couple minutes, or until fragrant. 
2.  Once the onions and garlic have cooked, carefully add the raw tomato puree.  Stir to combine with the veggies.  Lower the heat, add the herbs and stir again.  Allow to simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are cooked all the way through and the sauce is flavorful and thick. 
3.  Use as desired over pasta, or wherever else you would use marinara.