Eating Safely at the Relatives

Hi folks, long time no post. It has been a tough 3 months. My 8 year old grandson left this summer to be with his family in Florida. My mom moved to Massachusetts just before Aiden left. Last week my mom passed to a higher plain. We had celebrated her big 100th birthday on Sept 9th. I brought up a gluten free scratch angel food cake baked the night before. I sliced it horizontally to make two layers. My sister made a fluffy icing of egg whites with boiling hot Karo syrup poured in slowly. I threw shredded coconut all over the cake. My mom ate 2 slices. She ate more for breakfast in the morning.

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My sister and I made our family’s company chicken dish; she used some gf flour to roll the chicken pieces in and for the sauce.  It is served with plain rice.  I made gf crab cakes for my mom the next day as lunch. We had steak tips that night with buttery mashed potatoes. The following day we had a second birthday celebration with wild rice salad that is quite beloved and swordfish kabobs done on the outdoor charcoal grill. I made an Indian cheesecake in the Instant Pot of two ingredients; a can of sweetened condensed milk and a cup of whole milk Greek yogurt. I flavored it with the zest of a small lemon and 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice. An uncooked oatmeal cookie crust underneath. Easy peasy baked in the IP for 30 min and chilled for 4 hours. You would never guess it was not made with eggs and cream cheese. Again, all gluten free and really no fuss either. Great food, made gluten free with a minimum of effort and from fresh ingredients.  The swordfish was layered with onion wedges, pepper chunks and cherry tomatoes from the garden. The best quality swordfish my sister could get at the fish market in town. Far better than swordfish I have eaten in fancy restaurants in Boston. My brother-in-law knows how to grill it to perfection; juicy and flavorful.  Our mom enjoyed it all. She had four servings of the wild rice salad; it has plenty of bacon, fresh spinach, red onion and a kick ass vinaigrette on it. We just love the flavors.

I went back up last week to say goodbye to my mom in her last days. My sister made simple food; gently roasted salmon with mashed potatoes one night and a trombolini squash lasagna that had the best homemade tomato sauce ever. No noodles yet flavor for days. The focus of my visit was on our mom and I could relax knowing I was able to eat safely. I made some carrot soup for lunch while I was there and a fig ricotta cake that disappeared before my eyes. A great use of the fresh figs I brought up. Even in sadness there can be tasty safe gf meals. Just takes a bit of planning; my sister keeps a bag of gf flour for when I visit and I brought the cup for cup flour for the fig cake and my own cheesecake pans both trips as using her pans would have been chancy. She bought me a 4 pack of Schar gf ciabatta buns and I got some excellent smoked ham at Trader Joe’s for sandwiches.  She opened a new jar of mayo and marked it gf for my safety. I brought gf oatmeal and cereal for breakfasts.  No fuss, no mealtime stress.  The focus was on our mom and meals were good but simple as no one was up for fancy. My mom loved flavorful fresh food. She taught me how to bake cookies and I taught myself all the rest. I do have several of her recipes and made them gf years ago. She used to say my angel food cake couldn’t be gf as it was so delicious. It was definitely gluten free Mom. I am glad I could bake it many times that way since I had to go gf in ‘13. Rest in peace and I know they have angel food cake up there for you Mom.

Fig and Ricotta Cake, GF 2.0

Figs, figs, figs! Enough to enjoy, not enough for making laborious batches of fig jam. Made one small batch and a smaller batch of fig mustard. Yeap, that’s a thing! Delish too. Anyway, I wanted to make another fig cake; a couple of weeks ago I made my beloved Turkish fig and yogurt cake which is super light and fluffy and I made an olive oil and honey fig cake the following week that was rather dense if delish and now this ricotta cake. This recipe is a big favorite of Ina Garten; you can find it on her barefoot contessa website. I reworked it a tiny bit to make it gluten free. It has a lovely crumb and a delicate flavor that is delightful. As much as I liked the other two I have recently made; this cake was perfect and is definitely one I would like to try and make with other fresh fruit, cherries? Apricots? Plums? All seem like great possibilities.

You can use small figs like I did or get larger yellow ones. Which tastes better is definitely a personal decision! Dried ones will not work. I think orange zest might be a delicious substitution for lemon zest. I think you can use any cup for cup gf flour as long as it is meant for direct substitution in recipes.

Don’t forget to let the eggs and all dairy items come to close to room temp; cold from the fridge is not good for gf baking. DO not underbake the cake; the center needs to look firm not squishy. Better to bake 5 more minutes than have a soggy center.

I think this cake tastes best warm but once it is cool it is still delish; you can warm slices briefly in the microwave before serving; I did this once and loved it.

brown turkey figs just picked

Fig and Ricotta Cake

Mixing up a storm of yumminess!
ready for figs!

Ingredients:

10 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 extra large eggs; I just picked the three largest in my dozen large eggs

1 cup whole milk ricotta; also at room temp.

2 Tbsp. sour cream; room temp.

1 Tsp. vanilla extract

½-1 Tsp. fresh grated lemon zest

1 ¼ cups Bob’s Red Mill One for One Gluten Free flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 Tsp. kosher salt

8 large or 12 medium figs, stems removed! Quarter if large, halve if smaller

1 Tbsp. coarse sugar or finishing sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a 8 inch removable bottom round cake pan. Tap out excess flour.

Beat butter and sugar in stand mixer at medium speed for 3 minutes, scrape down as needed. Until it is fluffy. Then add eggs one at a time, beating well between eggs.  Add ricotta, sour cream, vanilla, zest and mix until smooth. Mix dry ingredients in small bowl and add in thirds, mixing well between additions. Pour into prepared cake pan. Place figs, cut side up in pan; I started with a ring around the outside and worked my way inside pressing them in a bit. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 40-48 minutes until a cake tester in center comes out clean. I did 46 minutes. The top should be browned but not really dark.  Cool on a rack for 15-20 minutes before removing side panel. Serve warm with whipped cream, crème fraiche or ice cream. I actually like it best plain so I can focus on the amazing flavors and texture. Enjoy!

Cheese Ravioli with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce

We love fresh pasta especially stuffed pasta. The usual choice is ravioli although I sometimes make cannelloni; those long tube-shaped ones that I stuff with this same filling and bake with tomato sauce and mott cheese.  This time I made puffy ravioli well stuffed with a simple ricotta and parmesan cheese filling. The sauce was my homemade wild mushroom and cream sauce. Links of country sausage was added as a protein as well as a hearty side of steamed homegrown Romano green beans. It was a great meal. We enjoyed an excellent Riesling from Boundary Breaks Vineyard in the Finger Lakes of New York State with this meal; used some in the sauce too.

I have decided to share with you today both the pasta recipe, it’s filling and the sauce I served. This pasta dough can be formed into wide ribbons like fettuccini if you prefer.  The pasta dough is based on one from my favorite cookbook; Annalise Robert’s Classic GF cookbook: “Gluten-Free Baking Classics”. In the back she has a few items that are not so much baking but are essential recipes including this one. I upped it by half.

The sauce is a simple cream sauce. You could use baby Bella mushrooms or even plain white mushrooms. Do not use canned ones; this is definitely a recipe where the shrooms shine and canned is just unacceptable.  I used whole cream but I suppose you could use something lighter like half and half or whole milk. Nope on the skim milk folks!

Ravioli with Wild Mushroom Sauce

Pasta:

1 ½ cups King Arthur basic flour blend

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

3 eggs

Put flour and gum in stand mixer bowl; blend. Add eggs. Blend 1-2 minutes until a fully formed and smooth dough is created. Wrap in plastic if you aren’t using it immediately.  Roll out in thirds, keeping rest wrapped so it doesn’t dry out. I had to hand roll this batch as my pasta machine is just acting up. I made a long thin band about 4 inches wide. Due to my machine I lost nearly a quarter of the dough; you should get 4 long bands. I ended up with 15 ravioli; if you use all the dough  you should get 20.

Cheese Filling:

5/.6 of the container of whole milk ricotta

1 large egg

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese  – Mix  the ingredients in a bowl.

I put out a bowl of water to dip my finger in. I dollop about a Tbsp. of filling every 4 inches. My favorite tool for ravioli making is a wheel that cuts zigzag points. It seals the edges perfectly. So I cut between the filing bloops and fold over the dough for each after wetting the edges with my fingertips making sure to press out from the filling to get the air out of the ravioli . Press and then recut all around except the fold using your knife or ravioli roller. You could cut the fourth edge if you like. Be sure  to have a sheet pan sprinkled liberally with flour ready to receive the ravs. Put them about an inch or two apart on the sheet. Cover with plastic wrap to keep them moist. 

Mushroom Sauce:

Ingredients

½-1 lb. wild or baby Bella mushrooms sliced medium wide. Not thick or thin

½ a large onion or a whole smaller one, diced small

2 garlic cloves minced

3 Tbsp butter

½ cup dry white wine; Riesling works well

½ cup veggie or chicken broth

1 big sprig or 2 smaller ones of fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. cornstarch and 2 Tbsp cold water

2/3 cup heavy cream

1-2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Heat butter in big frying pan, add mushrooms and let them cook a few minutes; once they have shrunk a bit in size add the onion.  Cook a few more minutes until mushrooms and onion are softened. Add garlic; cook another minute. Add wine, cook 2-3 minute, add broth, cream and thyme. Simmer 5-6 minutes, do not boil or the cream may curdle. Should get thicker by half. Add cornstarch slurry and mix well. Let cook 1-2 minutes to thicken sauce.  Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Pour over pasta and enjoy!

Turkish Fig and Yogurt Cake

We enjoyed the most amazing cake last night.  I used 10 of my own homegrown figs in it.  It is sort of like if your cheesecake recipe and your dessert souffle recipe had a baby together: light in texture, delicate orange hints and quite scrumptious. Simply exquisite in my estimation. chicken-gumbo-002

Not that much sugar, lots of Greek yogurt, a few eggs, some flavorings and very little flour.  It was very easy to put together; sort of like making a dessert soufflé. I mixed the yolks with the sugar and then the flour added in bit by bit with a whisk.  My stand mixer made the egg whites into fluff and I folded them into the yolk/sugar mixture.  Spooned into a buttered cheesecake pan and laid the cut halves of the figs into the batter. Bake it and BOOM; an amazing dessert fit for a king and queen!  It does puff up a lot as it bakes; don’t worry; it will sink somewhat; can’t stay puffed when it cools.

The flavor was a lemony, fluffy light cake but the figs were the star attraction.  If you like figs; this is your cake!

The recipe is from fearless dining: here is a link to the original I used to create my cake.  http://www.fearlessdining.com/recipe/gluten-free-turkish-fig-yogurt-cake/.

I made only a couple of changes to fit what I had in my pantry.  This is a spectacular cake to serve to company. Just need those fresh figs and some yogurt. I got mine at Aldi’s.  Their store brand Greek yogurt in a big size has wonderful flavor and texture. Great price point too.

Turkish Fig and Yogurt Cake

Ingredients   (at room temperature)

4 eggs, separated

½ tsp. cream of tarter

½ cup sugar

3 tbsp. gf flour – I used King Arthur blend

½ tsp. xanthan gum (leave out if your flour has some in it already)

1/2 to 1 tsp. lemon or orange extract

1 tsp. water

1/2 tsp. lemon zest

½ tsp. orange or tangerine zest (optional; add if you don’t have orange extract)

1 ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, preferably whole milk

7-12 figs (big ones; only 7, small; use more) Halved

A tsp. of butter for greasing the pan

A bit of powdered sugar to sift on top.

Directions:  see the original post for directions –  http://www.fearlessdining.com/recipe/gluten-free-turkish-fig-yogurt-cake/.fig-cake-006

Blueberry Peach Crumb Pie

In Pennsylvania we are past the peak of both peach and blueberry season but we were both craving a great late summer pie.   The resulting pie was flavorful down to the last slice.

blueberry peach pie slice

This is so easy to make: slice and dump together the filling, crumb topping gets made in the mixer bowl you just used for bottom crust. You can store any leftover crumb mixture in a sealed container in the fridge; it keeps a few weeks.  This GF crumb topping is perfect for most any fruit pie.

To peel; heat 3 inches of water to a boil, drop the peaches gently in 3-4 at a time and poah them 1-2 minutes.  Allow to cool somewhat before peeling.  I like to do that over a bowl to catch the juices as I slice each peach.

Bake and enjoy summer in a pie in just a few minutes of work.  Don’t eat it piping hot; it should be cooled to close to room temperature.  You could certainly serve this with vanilla ice cream.  And this pie works perfectly with fresh nectarines or apricots.  Bonus: no peeling required!

GF Blueberry Peach Crumb Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Directions:

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour. I confess I forget to do this more often than I remember…still works.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you prepare the filling.

crust

Filling:

2 cups sliced fresh peaches, peeled and cut in thick slices

3 cups fresh blueberries – rinse and place in medium bowl

Mix with:

½ cup sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup quick tapioca

Add and stir in

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

blueberry peach pie filling

Let the filling stand while you prepare the crust, important for the tapioca so it does its job optimally.

Roll out pie crust in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  Fill with fruit mixture.

blueberry peach pie unbaked

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form.

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Directions:

Sprinkle the top of the pie with crumb mix; use as much as you like.  I like about a heaping cup and a half of the mixture.  Up to your personal taste… It sinks partially into the fruit mixture and adds lots of sweetness and eye appeal.

blueberry peach pie, done

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45-50 minutes until bubbly and the crumb crust is light brown.  I put a piece of aluminum foil on top for the last ten minutes.  Cool at least 2 to 4 hours before serving at room temperature.  I think it is best served the same day you make it, or no more then 10 hours after baking for optimal flavor.  The crumbs will get soggy if too much time passes.

Note: if you find your bottom crust is not browning enough bake it empty at 375 degrees for ten minutes before filling it with the fruit.  I have a bottom heat oven which gives me perfect pie crust if I put the pie on the very lowest shelf so I don’t ever have pale pie crust.

Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour (finely ground)

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour