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.

Image preview

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.

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

Sheet Pan Chicken with Roasted Eggplant and Raw Veggie Caponata

This heat…I hate to run the oven.  But sometimes it is just worth it. This only bakes 30 minutes tops in a hot (450*) oven. I used boneless thighs. So I did  them a few minutes less than 30. No long marinading although I did put the cubed eggplant in salted water for a couple hours.  I had 3 Japanese eggplants from my garden and ripe  homegrown tomatoes galore. Chicken bought from Aldi’s. I found this recipe on Pinterest. I am so glad I tried it. The freshness of the raw and pickled vegetables in the caponata are what makes it so good. The chicken roasts on the sheet pan surrounded by the eggplant cubes tossed with olive oil.  While it roasts make the raw component. I am not really sure I will make this in the winter as summer tomatoes are just so superior in raw preparations like this delicious dish.

Here below is a link to the recipe. I will give the ingredients below. so you know what is needed to make it.  I promise you will love it.  I used some awesome paprika my goddaughter bought me in Germany.  Superior flavor. I used less red pepper flakes as I like most foods not too spicy.  I served mine with some small roasted potatoes I grew myself. So tasty.

https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/sheet_pan_chicken_with_roasted_eggplant_caponata/

tomato caponata salad

This is my slightly different version:

Sheet Pan Chicken with Eggplant and Raw Caponata

Ingredients: 

Chicken: 4 boneless chicken thighs

Rub: 1 tsp. sea salt

1 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil.

Eggplants:

2 lbs of cubed eggplant, 1 Tbsp olive oil

Caponata:

2 cups chunky fresh tomatoes cut in 1/2 inch cubes or sliced cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup sliced green olives

2 stalks celery sliced thin; hearts are best

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley chopped fine

2 Tbsp tiny capers

2 garlic cloves minced

Dressing: 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar; 2 Tbsp. EVOL and  1/2 tsp honey

I loved the fennel seeds in the roasted chicken and the raw salad. Enjoy!

roasted chicken and raw caponata

 

 

 

 

Savory Zucchini Cheese Tart

It is hot as heck today so what I chose to do was bake. Something simple though. And I actually used a pie crust mix I got for my birthday as a gift. I measured out half the package and used it for the base of my zucchini tart. Yeap I know; folks complain about too many zukes and too little flavor. Not this gorgeous tart. It is thin slices layered over a thin lemony cream and goat cheese filling and topped with very thin sliced onions. Baked until the crust was crunchy. Really perfect crust and it is so rich and creamy plus this is super easy to make. Nothing needs to be cooked or fried – all raw; layer it on the raw crust. Bake, Slice, Enjoy. Winner winner hot night’s dinner.

You can use store zuke: I did; had none of my own yet. I did use my own red onion. I bet you could try other veggies but this combo was just so sublime. Narrow slices would make amazing appetizers or maybe cut it into small squares.  If you don’t like goat cheese just use all cream cheese. This is a variation on a Ina Garten recipe; she is a master at this sort of recipe.  Enjoy!

zuke tart, unbaked

zuke tart bakedLemony Zucchini and Cheese Tart

 

Ingredients

One pie crust; I used Bob’s GF Pie crust mix; y ou need 10 Tbsp cold butter or combo of butter and some other buttery spread, 3 Tbsp ice water and that’s it! Follow the directions. Mine needed a good chilling in the fridge before rolling out.

2 medium small zucchinis

1 medium red onion (can use regular yellow onion) sliced very thin (1/2 cup)

4 oz goat cheese plain or herbs (I used herbed) at room temp

4 oz cream cheese at room temp

Zest of half a lemon and about 1-2 Tsp juice from it

½ an egg beaten well

¼ Tsp fresh rosemary, minced finely

½ Tsp. fresh thyme leaves, off stem

EVOL; about 1-2 Tbsp.

Fresh ground black pepper

Directions: Made the pie crust, let chill while you do the veggies.  Slice the zucchini about 1/8 thick; less than ¼ inch thick.  I used a sharp paring knife. I know, the mandolin slicer; I do have one but sometimes it is just seems like too much work to get it out and set it up. I didn’t want the slices super thin anyway. Plus I enjoy knife work. Suit yourself.  Slice the peeled onion across in very thin circles. Put zuke slices in a colander and sprinkle with sea salt; ½-1 Tsp.; try to get it on both sides. Let stand 30-40 minutes. Then wipe with a few paper towels or a lint free tea towel to get off most of the moisture.  In a small bowl mix the two cheeses until smooth; add egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, herbs. Blend well.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pie crust into 11 inch circle; put on heavy pizza pan. Top with cheese mix; spread to ½ inch of the edge of your crust. Top with the thin slices of dried off zuke overlapping a bit in concentric circles. To fill the entire area with the cheese spread. Then sprinkle on top the red onion, which you have separated into rings. Top with a good drizzle of decent EVOL and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Until crust is well browned. If it is getting too brown turn oven down to 375; I did. Monitor closely; no burnt top please! Let cool before cutting. Enjoy.  zuke tart slice

Graham Crackers 2.0…. GF and BETTER

Graham crackers make great pie crust for unbaked pies. And for cheesecakes. But GF ones are kinda lacking in the texture and flavor department if you eat a whole one; so hard on the teeth and they are soo expensive for the few you get. So I finally decided to try and make my own. Read a few recipes and then modified to make them my own. These are made with Earth Balance spread as I had some I wanted to use, no eggs; practically vegan; just the honey is an issue.

Pretty easy to make in my stand mixer. Then you roll out between two sheets of parchment and use the pizza cutter to draw lines between them. Can prick with a fork to form perforations. They will be soft and take the impressions of what you draw on. They do puff up some in the oven; beware edges falling off: a bit fell off one edge of my sheet of crackers and burnt up. Stinky when burnt!

graham crackers unbaked

Not too excited before baking, rolled out between parchment paper, kinda sad looking.

graham crackers out of oven

Freshly baked. Still soft and un-separated from other crackers.

GF Graham Crackers

Ingredients:

1  1/2 cups King Arthur Basic GF blend

1/2 cup brown sugar

1  1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance spread; cold

1 tsp. vanilla

3 Tbsp. water

3 Tbsp. honey

Directions: Put dry ingredients in stand mixer bowl. Blend. Add butter cut in cubes; blend until crumbly. Add vanilla, honey, water. If needed add an extra tsp of water.

Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on big baking board. Blop out batter on it. Top with another sheet of baking paper and roll thin to fill the space. Cut apart with a pizza cutter to make 15 cookies. Poke with a fork to add perforations as desired. Bake at 325 degrees for 17-20 minutes. At 17 minutes they will be soft cookies. 20 is needed for crunchy ones to break up for pie crust or to make s’mores with.  Let cool in pan 10 minutes then cool completely on drying rack. Store in plastic bag to keep moisture out.  They are delicious all by themselves. The homemade s’mores turn out well too!graham crackers on plate