Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chocolate-Dipped Apricots: A Gourmet Approach to Chanukah Gelt

As a child we played dreidel with chocolate-wrapped coins, called Chanukah gelt. Money given to a child by a parent on this holiday is also referred to as gelt. Here is a tastier take on Chanukah gelt, inspired by a recipe in this month's Martha Stewart Living. I used Ghirardelli bitterwsweet baking chocolate bars. These morsels make a great holiday gift, too. After you make the chocolate-dipped apricots, read up on how to play dreidel and use the candies in place of coins.


Makes about 4 dozen

1 pound dried apricots
1 pound dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Foil candy wrappers (optional)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Heat chocolate over a double-boiler. Allow the water in the boiler to get hot but not fully boil. Use a plastic spatula to scrape chocolate away from the sides. Remove from heat as soon as the chocolate is melted. If you prefer to use a microwave, melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in short intervals, stirring well with spatula.

Immediately add all the apricots to the pot melted chocolate, and stir gently until they are all coated fully. Carefully lift each piece out of the pot with a fork, allowing some of the excess chocolate to drip off. For a more sophisticated look, you can also try holding each apricot by one end with your fingers and dipping only half of it into the chocolate.

Place carefully on parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate has become firm (20-30 minutes). Store in ziploc bags or wrap in foil wrappers.

This recipe is part of the Festive Food Fair blog event.

Who am I?

Perhaps you have been wondering who I am. Or perhaps not.

Either way, allow me to introduce myself. Over there on the right hand is a slimmer, tight-pants-wearing cartoon version of me. If you don't recognize me on the street, I forgive you.

Here are some factoids:

  • I'm originally from New York. I worry sometimes that if I moved back there I'd have to change the name of my blog. Oh no!

  • My dad taught me how to cook. He did all the cooking in our house when I was growing up.

  • My favorite foods are mostly Ashkenazi Jewish, Ethiopian and Indian. I also have a big, big love for sushi.

  • I love to garden, and to grow my own herbs and vegetables. I live in a lovely little cottage. My porch is overflowing with potted plants, which makes me very happy.

  • All of my recipes are kosher, if you make them with kosher ingredients. You won't find recipes here that call for pork products, shellfish, etc - And none of my dishes mix dairy and meat together in the same recipe.

  • I worked in the food industry (catering and restaurant) for a number of years. I currently work as an office drone.

  • My plans for this blog include reworking more Jewish favorites and Ethiopian dishes, creating pierogies that taste like the real thing, and exploring the fascinating chemistry experiment that is gluten-free breadmaking.

  • I've been cooking way more regularly since I started this blog and have hardly been eating out at all. If you are looking for an incentive to eat at home, I recommend food blogging!

Any questions?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Weekly Gluten-Free Recipe Roundup: 11/29/06

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cranberry Bread

I had a pint of gorgeous organic cranberries in the fridge that weren't going to be good much longer. I had planned to make a decadent, rich cranberry upside down cake... but this evening I realized I didn't want something that sweet. So I set about baking a cranberry loaf that was less sweet than usual and featured the tart bite of the garnet colored berries. As opposed to the classic yellow color I generally associate with cranberry bread, I used Turbinado sugar to give it a rich brown tone and fuller flavor. I replaced the milk and butter with rice milk and Earth Balance margarine to make the recipe dairy-free / pareve since GFCF is the diet that my gut likes best and I overdid it on the dairy over my Thanksgiving vacation. This loaf should last me all week, my breakfast plan is to lightly toast a thick slice and slather it with margarine or the casein-free wonder that is ghee (clarified butter). Mmm... Yes. Perfect for a chilly fall morning.


3 cups Gluten-Free Cake Flour Mix
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup fresh or defrosted frozen cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup milk or milk substitute
3/4 cup orange juice
1 cup brown or Turbinado sugar
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1 tablespoon lemon or orange zest
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a large loaf pan. Beat eggs and sugar with electric beater or mixer. Add butter or margarine, milk or milk substitute, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Slowly beat in baking soda, baking powder, salt, all spices and flour. Mix until combined. Gently fold in chopped cranberries. Pour into loaf pan and smooth the top of the loaf with a rubber spatula. Bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly in loaf pan before inverting onto cooling rack.

Gluten-Free Stuffing With Dried Fruit

Here's my dad's recipe for stuffing, adapted to be kosher and gluten-free. I suppose it is technically "dressing" but we've never called it that. Thinly sliced, white gluten-free bread that's on the dry side work best. Ener-G brand tapioca loaf is good for this recipe (you couldn't pay me to use it for anything else, but believe it or not it's perfect for this) or any store bought "white" gluten-free bread. You can use home-baked bread but it's best if it's on the dry side. Each time I've made this it was totally delicious and just like I remembered it from my childhood. You can play around with increasing the oil and cider for a moister stuffing, too. The chicken or turkey drippings also definitely help, in my decidedly non-vegetarian opinion.


6 slices gluten-free bread
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup pitted prunes, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup margarine
1 stalk celery, sliced lengthwise and then chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped finely
1 tablespoon Bell's seasoning (or other poultry seasoning)
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons poultry drippings or chicken fat (optional)

Cut bread in 3/4" cubes at 350 F until dry and crisp.

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high flame. Add onion and sautee until it begins to brown. Add celery and cook until it softens slightly. Remove from heat. In a large casserole dish, mix cooked celery and onion with salt, pepper, and Bell's seasoning.

Combine dried fruit, margarine and apple cider in a microwave-proof bowl or small saucepan. Microwave or heat over medium flame until margarine melts. Add to the celery and onion mixture. Add bread cubes and poultry drippings. Cover and bake for 1/2 hour at 350 F. Remove cover and continue baking until brown (maybe be heated briefly under broiler prior to serving).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hide & Seek: Hidden Gluten At the Holiday Table

Having food allergies and intolerances can be very stressful when one is invited to eat at another person's home. In one's own home, it is easy to control what goes into your mouth. At other peoples' houses it can be hard to make sure you're not eating something that will make you very sick, especially if you're worried about imposing on your host. Even the most understanding friends and family are often unaware of the sneaky places that allergens hide.

Here are some tips for avoiding gluten at your holiday meal:

  • Avoid self-basting turkeys.

  • Many people thicken their gravy with flour. However, it is extremely easy to thicken gravy using arrowroot starch or cornstarch.

  • Obviously, most stuffing is not gluten-free. You can follow most conventional stuffing recipes by using a gluten-free bread that you've cubed and dried out in the oven. Avoid stuffings made with sausage.

  • Soy sauce is a sneaky source of gluten, especially in vegetarian and vegan foods. Keep in mind that it's not only used in Asian dishes. Look for gluten-free soy sauce and tamari from San-J, Panda (Kari-Out), and Walmart Great Value.

  • Cheesecakes and pumpkin pie fillings are often gluten-free, but check to make sure the baker didn't add flour.

  • Many commercially available chicken broths have gluten in them. Some (but not all) of the following brands of stock are GF: Trader Joe's Hain's, Health Valley, Manischewitz, Swanson's, Shelton, Whole Foods 365, Imagine Foods. Celifibr, Herb Ox and Better Than Bouillon make GF bouillon cubes or pastes. Check the labels carefully.

  • Breadcrumbs are used on casseroles, in stuffed vegetables, and in other dishes. Use gluten-free cornflakes, packaged gluten-free breadcrumbs, or make your own breadcrumbs.

  • Cream sauces and other thickened sauces often have flour in them, so ask your host about what they used as a thickener. Karina recommends keeping around a bag of gluten-free baking mix (Pamela's Ultimate Baking Mix is great, while Bob's Red Mill and Gluten Free Pantry make dairy-free versions). Use it as a substitute in any recipe that calls for flour.

  • Most of the "cream of..." soups used in casseroles are NOT gluten-free. Health Valley and Progresso make gluten-free Cream of Mushroom soups.

  • French Fried Onions purchased in a grocery store have gluten in them. Make your own french fried onions for use in greenbean casserole, or try a greenbean dish without a different crispy topping, such as potato chips or toasted nuts.

  • Stick to gluten-free specialty beers or the alcoholic beverages on this list.

  • Be careful of vegetarian dishes made to taste or feel like meat. Most are made with wheat gluten / seitan, texturized vegetable protein (TVP) or hydrolized vegetable protein (HVP), which contain gluten.

  • Watch out for these ingredients: Corn flakes, fried onions, nondairy cream substitutes, sweets that are flavored with malt, commercial salad dressings, commercial fruit pie fillings, BBQ sauces, other condiments, breaded or fried foods. Gluten-free versions of most of these products are available.

  • If you are new to having celiac disease, or if you are new to cooking for a gluten intolerant person, please keep in mind that wheat-free does not necessarily mean gluten-free. Other unsafe grains include kamut, spelt, farro, semolina, graham (not gram) flour, bran, bulgur, barley and rye. A list of common food ingredients and their gluten-free status can be found here.
Don't hesitate to ask what's in each dish and advocate for your needs. Be considerate of your host by letting them know about your dietary restrictions ahead of time. Make sure they know this is a medical issue, not a "picky eater" issue. Offer to bring a dish or two of your own. Be gracious, but remember that your health comes first!

A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up

Still looking for gluten-free dishes to make for Thanksgiving? Judging by the amount of traffic this blog is getting right now from folks entering their gluten-free Thanksgiving food inquiries on various search engines... Not everyone already has their menu planned!

I've put together a list of recipes from the blogosphere and beyond that may be of interest to my dear readers. I tried to make sure that more than a few are vegetarian, vegan, or dairy-free. Not all are kosher but all can be easily made kosher (replacing butter with margarine, etc). If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, or are cooking for someone who does, here are some gluten-free recipes even the gluten-eaters will love:


Thyme-Roasted Almonds
Easy Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Soup with Wild Rice and Apples
Baby Spinach, Pear and Walnut Salad
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Arugula, Fennel, Apple, Mandarin Orange & Pomegranate Salad
Potato Sticks with Roasted Tomato Salsa
Non-Dairy Spinach Dip


Mom's Roast Turkey
Ginger Salmon
Roast Brined Turkey
Rack of Lamb with Rosemary Scallion Crust
Turkey Meat Loaf with Cranberry Glaze
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Pears, Wild Rice and Walnuts
Cranberry Turkey Rolls
Tofu Stuffed with Brown Rice & Mushroom Dressing (use GF soy sauce)


Rice and Nut Stuffing
Wild Rice Stuffing
Mona's Bread Stuffing
Southern Cornbread Stuffing
All Purpose Stuffing
Cajun Black Rice Stuffing


Chicken or Turkey Gravy
Herb Gravy
Roast Turkey Pan Gravy
Vegan Eggplant Gravy


Sweet Potato Puree with Brown Sugar and Sherry
Cranberry Rice
Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Milk
Wild Mushroom Risotto
Lacy Potato Kugel
Roasted Asparagus with Orange Vinaigrette
Low-Carb Green Bean Casserole with Onion Topping
Green Bean Casserole
Quinoa Pilaf with Cardamom and Sage
Roasted Butternut Squash with Sage
Buttermilk Whipped Potatoes
Browned Brussels Sprouts with Hazelnuts and Lemon
Cranberry Cherry and Port Relish
Balsamic-Honey Roasted Root Vegetables
Cranberry Apricot Sauce


Sweet Potato Corn Bread
No-Wheat Wheat Bread
Sweet Potato Bread
French-Italian Ciabatta Bread
Southern Biscuits
Pao de Quiejo (Brazilian Tapioca Flour Buns)
French Bread
Mama's Cheese Bread
Dinner Rolls


Pumpkin Seed Brittle and Burnt Sugar Ice Cream
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Karina's Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake
Dairy-Free No Bake Pumpkin Pie Filling
Cranberry Apple Crisp
Honey Cake
Pie Crust
More Pie Crusts
Curry and Cardamom Cookies
Brown Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Bars
Pumpkin Roll Cake
Pecan Pie
Roasted Apples with Fig & Hazelnut Stuffing
Clementine Sorbet
More Pecan Pie
Dried Persimmons
Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Pomegranate Poached Pears

Italian White Bean Turkey Soup With Sage
Leftover Turkey Lentil Soup

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Vietnamese-Style Fresh Spring Rolls with Salmon

[EDITED on 3/09 to add: This recipe unfairly taunts kosher readers, I suppose - I posted this when I was still keeping "ingredient kosher" (i.e. not caring about kosher certification as long as there was no unkosher meat, shellfish, or meat-milk mixtures). Now that I keep a strictly kosher kitchen it's near impossible to make this dish. Only one company that I know of makes kosher-certified rice wrappers, which is Sushi Metsuyan. These are hard to find on the retail market. One alternative is using large lettuce leaves to wrap these spring rolls in, since rice vermicelli are widely available.]

Vietnamese fresh spring rolls with a spicy peanut dipping sauce are up there on my Top 10 Foods list. But most are made with shrimp, which is not kosher, or tofu, which doesn't sit right with my sensitive tummy. So I set about creating a soy-free, gluten-free spring roll without shellfish. I used yesterday's leftover salmon, which happened to be baked with cilantro butter, but you can feel free to use plain salmon or canned salmon. You may notice in the photos that the noodles I used inside the rolls are wider than the rice vermicelli the recipe calls for - Hey, even a food blogger can't always have their pantry fully stocked!

Rushed for time, I mixed a little Sriracha-style hot chili sauce with peanut butter and soy sauce. You can find more authentic Vietnamese dipping sauce recipes online.


5 rice paper wrappers (banh trang) - 8-inch size
1 cup of fresh cilantro or basil sprigs, loosely packed
1 cup of fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
4 large leaves of crisp green lettuce, sliced (remove ribs)
1 large carrot, shredded
2 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
2 ounces cooked or canned salmon, flaked gently into small pieces

Bring a quart of water to boil in a saucepan. Turn off heat and submerge noodles in water. Soak for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Rinse with cold water in colander, and drain.

Fill a pie pan or pot that is wider than 8" in diameter with hot water. Carefully remove one rice paper wrapper from the package and submerge it in this water. Let it soak until it's soft. For easier handling, allow parts of the sheet to remain a little bit stiff (some of the hatch marks that are in the design of most rice papers can still be visible). Remove from water very carefully.

Place the rice paper wrapper on a smooth, dry surface. Surface should be ceramic, plastic or glass - Rice paper wrappers can stick to wooden surfaces. Take 1/5 of noodles and arrange lengthwise 1 inch from the bottom of wrapper. Leave 1-2 inches of the wrapper uncovered on the sides, as well.

Add mint, cilantro or basil, lettuce, and 1/5 of the flaked salmon as separate layers on top of the vermicelli. Pull the bottom edge of the wrapper up to cover the filling. Now fold both sides of the wrapper up to cover the edges. Continue rolling, tucking the filling in towards you with your fingers and roll tightly so that the roll remains firm (but not so tightly that you rip the rice paper!)

Carefully move spring roll to cutting board and cut in half. Repeat steps with the remainder of the ingredients. Serve with spicy peanut dipping sauce.

Makes 5 rolls, which serves 2 to 5 people, depending on how hungry you are!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Blogging By Mail: Holiday Edition

Hey food bloggers, tonight at midnight is the deadline for Blogging By Mail. It would be great if all you gluten-free / food allergy bloggers signed up - The host tells me she's had gluten-free participants in the past and it's a great way to get yummy treats from people in other parts of the world (or country, at least). When you register you can specify any food preferences or intolerances. I'm really excited to start putting my package together.

In this post you can see a list of the participants from August's event and click on their blogs to see what they were sent by their Blogging By Mail buddies. It's a clever idea and I hope some of you will join in. Nothing like coming home to a care package!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Spice Is (Almost) Right: Quinoa Pilaf with Cardamom and Sage

Danielle of Habeas Brulee is this month's host of The Spice is Right. The theme for this event is using a spice (or blend of spices) in a way that is atypical or unusual. I chose powdered cardamom, as I had quite a bit of it in my cabinet. Cardamom is the seed of a ginger-like plant. One site describes it as "pungent, warm and aromatic... Warm and eucalyptine with camphorous and lemony undertones." Eucalyptine might just be my new favorite word. Honestly, I had little idea of what cardamom tasted like. I had only used it in curries and baked goods - Dishes that have so many other strong flavors that I could not clearly distinguish cardamom from the others. I had bitten down on a cardamom pod now and then in basmati rice at an Indian restaurant, but it had overall been a neglected spice in my cooking (and eating) repertoire.

Sage, on the other hand, is a familiar and common ingredient in my cooking. I usually cook with fresh sage from my garden, but I chose powdered sage this time since my sage plant is getting sparse now that I cut its leaves off several times a week for use in the kitchen! I had an instinct that sage would be an unusual but subtly appropriate compliment to cardamom in a lightly-spiced grain dish inspired by the Indian biryanis I enjoy so much. I chose quinoa, which is a versatile, high-protein gluten-free grain with a very mild flavor.

The result was an enjoyable, aromatic quinoa pilaf with a wonderful texture. The problem is, it was missing some... oomph. I can't for the life of me tell you what the missing ingredient is that would propel this from "enjoyable" to "delicious." My friend and I discussed adding more salt, some cayenne pepper, or garlic powder. Ultimately, I decided to leave it alone to be exactly what it is: A satisfying, filling side dish that would be best accompanied with meat or vegetables in a more emphatically spiced sauce. If you try this recipe out, let me know if you find its missing oomph!


1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup raisins

Heat olive oil in 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, and sautee until they begin to brown. Lower heat to medium and add garlic and carrots. Sautee for 1-2 minutes, then add quinoa, pepper, cardamom and sage. Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes.

Add chicken stock and salt, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Gently stir in raisins, cover and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Add lightly toasted pine nuts, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Dishes of Comfort

A wonderful Canadian food blogger has suggested writing on the topic of Dishes of Comfort. I have been trying to remember what my childhood comfort foods were and the memories associated with them.

That photograph on the left is a miniature knish I made a few weeks ago, just 2 inches across and utterly perfect. Let me tell you a little more about knishes. When I was in middle school my aunt Rima (z"l) married the Knish King of the Hudson Valley, a wonderful man who owned a company called Kisses Knishes in Rosendale, NY. Marvin's knishes were sold up and down the valley, and in New York City. From the time he entered our lives our refrigerator was frequently full of knishes, it seemed there was usually at least one hiding somewhere. At holidays, he would bring over trays of freshly baked miniature knishes. At other times he'd hand us boxes of different flavors of saran-wrapped full-size knishes. Kasha knishes, potato knishes, broccoli-potato knishes, tofu-blueberry knishes (the latter of which is the only flavor I refused to try). They ruined me for those deep-fried orange-tinted machine-made knishes sold by street vendors in New York City.

There is something comforting about dishes that incorporate more than one carbohydrate - Knishes made of dough-wrapped potato filling. Or the pasta-and-buckwheat combination of kasha varnishkes. I was shocked to read someone online explain knishes to a non-Jew as being like "Hot Pockets" - What a shonde! But it's true that there's something about any food that's wrapped neatly in a pocket of dough. It's convenient, satisfying, and a good snack when you're on the run.

As a school project in middle school we were asked to prepare, and bring to school, an ethnic food from our culture. I spent the day in the Knish Factory, learning how to make miniature knishes, a tray of which I proudly brought to school. Needless to say, they were a big hit.

Kisses Knishes closed this past year when Tante Rima was diagnosed with lung cancer. She passed away in September (Zichrona livracha, may her memory be for a blessing). I look forward to seeing the Knish King when I go back east for Thanksgiving, and to tell him I missed his knishes so much that I baked my own.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Gluten-free grilled cheese

There's nothing like real grilled cheese, made in a pan with extra-sharp cheddar cheese and butter. I only make grilled cheese a few times a year, and for me it is a special occasion truly worth its weight in LactAid pills.

The best gluten-free grilled cheese I've had was made with Ener-G Tapioca Loaf, which runs a bit dry but works well for sandwiches and is amazing when pan-grilled in butter. I hear it's also great for making gluten-free stuffing for Thanksgiving. The second runner up is I Can Eat That bread which is available only in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. It is purchased frozen and has to be baked at home. The sandwich in this photo is made on Food for Life Brown Rice Bread, which has to be well-toasted before using it for grilled cheese, since like most of Food for Life's loaves it has a good flavor but a tendency towards gumminess. I look forward to venturing into the world of breadmaking this winter. I haven't tried baking my own bread yet, and I have a feeling it won't be hard to outdo storebought gluten-free breads!

For a more sophisticated grilled cheese sandwich, I sometimes add a slice of tomato and kalamata olive tapenade.

Smoky Chipotle Black Beans

Sweet and spicy black beans. Brown rice made with chicken stock. Arugula and spinach sauteed in crushed garlic and olive oil with red pepper flakes. Homemade non-dairy sour cream. This was my dinner last night, simple comfort foods thrown together quickly so I could sit back, put my achy feet up at the end of a long day, and watch "The Office."


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 cups cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup water
1 carrot, chopped in small pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (2 tsp of adobo sauce set aside)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
Fresh cilantro, minced

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Add onions, and cook until translucent. Add carrot and sautee until it begins to soften slightly. Turn heat to medium and add garlic, cumin, paprika, and minced chipotle peppers. Sautee for 1-2 minutes, then mix in water, tomato paste, and reserved adobo sauce. Stir to combine, then add beans immediately. When the beans are hot, add vinegar and honey or sugar. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro before serving.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Eight Ball Squash Balsamica

My last Planet Organics produce box included these lovely little spherical summer squashes, a new variety called the Eight Ball squash. They have a feel and taste similar to zucchini.

eight ball squash
I used them in a brightly colored side dish. I sprinkled sliced squash with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and allowed the slices to absorb the sweet tartness of the vinegar for about 15 minutes. I then sauteed shallots and garlic in a large quantity of olive oil. I added the squash and sauteed over medium-high heat until they started to brown, then added some frozen oil-preserved basil. Just a minute before I turned the heat off, I threw in halved cherry tomatoes. "Eight Ball Squash Balsamica"... A taste of nostalgia for the long-gone summer.

eight ball squash

Monday, November 06, 2006

The promise of persimmons.

hachiya persimmons
I bought two pounds of organic Hachiya persimmons yesterday at the Berkeley Farmer's Market. My plan is to make the Persimmon Pudding Cake Recipe that Elise posted last week, using a gluten free flour mix. I'm not usually a big fan of persimmons but something about that recipe just looks so amazing, and the boxes and boxes of brightly colored fruit at the market convinced me to give persimmons another try. If I have some left over I will make persimmon salsa or freeze them for use in smoothies.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gluten-Free Knishes: Mission Accomplished

gluten-free knish[Edited 3/09 to add: Chebe mixes are no longer kosher certified! What a bummer. I will have to rework this recipe using a dough made from scratch.]

I've written before about my fear that I would never get to eat the Eastern-European Jewish foods I grew up with again when I went gluten-free. Kasha varnishkes, matzo balls, challah, potato knishes. I found gluten-free recipes online for most of the foods I missed, but the one thing I couldn't find anywhere was a recipe for a gluten-free knish. When I started this blog, I gave you my word that by the end of October I'd create a knish recipe. Well, I'm 4 days late, but consider this mission accomplished: A delish knish!

This recipe gives instructions for rectangular knishes, which are the easiest to make. However, if you're interested in making them round, simply use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to make circles instead of rectangles, and follow this diagram for folding.



1 7.5-ounce package Chebe All-Purpose Gluten-Free Bread Mix
2 large eggs
2 tbsp oil or softened margarine
5 tbsp milk, liquid milk substitute, or water
3 tbsp oil or beaten egg, set aside


1 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped finely
1 large baking potato
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 large onion
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a baking sheet thoroughly with cooking spray.

Dough Instructions:
Using a fork or a dough mixer, blend the contents of the Chebe mix packet in a bowl with 2 tbsp oil or softened margarine and 2 eggs. Add 5 tbsp of milk, milk substitute or water while continuing to mix. Knead dough with hands until all ingredients are fully blended and the dough is smooth. Roll dough into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch or less. Using a knife or pastry scraper, cut into 5x7 inch rectangles (Scraps of remaining dough can be kneaded together and re-rolled to create additional rectangles).

Filling Instructions: Peel potato, cut lengthwise and then into 2-inch slices. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Add potato pieces to the water, and boil until tender. Turn off heat. Drain potatoes and return to pot. Mash thoroughly. Add chopped spinach to potatoes, and mix until combined. Cover with lid to keep warm.

In a frying pan over low heat, add butter, oil and onion. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until soft, then remove cover and cook until the onions begin to turn golden brown. Remove from heat. Add onions to mashed potato/spinach combination, as well as pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Stir in one egg. Use wooden spoon or masher to combine.

To Assemble: Using a pastry scraper, carefully transfer each rectangle of dough to the greased baking sheet. Place a small amount of the mashed potato mixture (approximately 2-3 tablespoons) in the center of each rectangle, arranging it so that it there is at least a 1 1/2 inch perimeter of dough around the filling on all sides. Make absolutely sure that no filling or liquid gets on the perimeter of the dough, as it will keep the knish from sealing. Fold dough over widthwise (shorter side to shorter side). Use a fork to crimp the edges of the dough. Make sure all edges are sealed, and patch any holes with small scraps of dough.

Brush the 3 tbsp of oil or egg you have set aside over the top of each knish. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Eat while hot or warm. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers and reheat in the oven (without defrosting). Makes 5-6 knishes.

Rectangular Knish:

gluten free knishes
Round Knish:

round gluten-free knishes

Friday, November 03, 2006

What do you like on your crackers?

mary's gone crackersI had terrible heartburn yesterday after stupidly eating some tasty nachos for lunch at the new Cocina Poblana location in Emeryville. My digestive tract is like "cheese AND sour cream AND salsa AND pickled jalapenos? You've got to be kidding!" So I barely ate a thing for the rest of the day, and certainly didn't cook. I had one little pumpkin muffin for dinner. That's why I have no recipes or food photographs for you today, but I promise I'll cook (and post) this weekend.

In the meantime, I want to tell you about my favorite crackers: The ridiculously named Mary's Gone Crackers. Guess what? There is no need to be eating those anemic little white rice crackers. They have little nutritional value and are made of refined grains and often have added sugar. Yeah, sure, they're tasty and they're widely available. But if you're tired of them, like I was, there are other options available. Healthier, crunchier options with wholesome ingredients like brown rice, black sesame seeds and flaxseed.

Did you notice those pretty crackers in the salad pictures I posted? The little toasty bits sprinkled on top of the green salad, and the pile of crackers next to the hummus? Those were the Original flavor of Mary's Gone Crackers. They are vegan and kosher. They cost a little more than white rice crackers, but they are far more filling and a box will last you longer.

One of the best things about Mary's Gone Crackers is that they work wonderfully as a gluten-free substitution for croutons. Crumble them into your salad and you'll see what I mean.

I eat my crackers with hummus or, when my tummy's not being sensitive, with slices of sharp cheddar cheese. What do you like to put on your crackers?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pumpkin Muffins

gluten-free pumpkin muffinsLet it go on the record that I am not a big fan of pumpkin. I am one of those freaks who doesn't even like pumpkin pie. Until last year the only way I enjoyed everyone's favorite fall vegetable was in Thai curries. Then I tried making pumpkin bread, and the result was a moist, spicy cake that tasted nothing like pumpkin but quite a lot like heaven. At that moment, I was converted from an unbashed pumpkin hater to an ambivalent, tentative pumpkin eater. In honor of the season, and as an experiment in preparation for Thanksgiving (which will be my first opportunity to wow my family with my gluten-free creations), I made some GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) pumpkin muffins the other day. This recipe is designed with holiday feasts in mind, as it makes a big batch of two-dozen muffins. I warmed them in the toaster this morning for breakfast and before I knew it I had eaten three!

Pumpkin Muffins

2 1/2 cups of my Gluten-Free Flour Mix
3/4 cup coconut flour
2 cups pumpkin puree, or one 15 ounce can (unseasoned)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup sugar (I prefer Sucanat)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water or milk
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice mix
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk wet ingredients together in a separate bowl, then fold into dry mixture. Whisk all ingredients until combined and smooth.

Place muffin liners into two 12-muffin pans, and spray the insides of the papers with baking spray. Distribute batter evenly between muffin liners (approximately 1/4 cup each). Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 24 muffins.

Gluten-Free Cake Flour Mix

This is the flour mix I've been using lately. It's cheaper than a pre-made mix if you buy the ingredients in bulk. Substitute it cup-for-cup for regular flour in most cake and muffin recipes. No need to add additional guar gum or xanthan gum to the recipe you make, as it's included in the correct proportions.

Gluten-Free Cake Flour Mix

3 cups brown rice flour (fine ground)
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 1/4 teaspoons guar gum

Sift ingredients together, combining thoroughly. Use in place of flour in cakes and other baked goods. Store in airtight container or ziploc bag in refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A salad fit for a goddess (dressing)

Here's a recipe for a creamy dressing I've been enjoying as a zestier, gluten-free alternative to Annie's Goddess Dressing.

gluten-free salad
Green Goddess Dressing

1/4 cup tahini
1/2 to 1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup fresh parsley sprigs, lightly packed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup warm water
1 clove garlic

Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth. Use at room temperature. Store leftovers in a sealed container in refrigerator.

hummus and salad
(That's the original flavor of Mary's Gone Crackers and Spicy Hummus)

Roasted Butternut Squash With Sage

roasted butternut squash with sage
A simple combination of sweet and savory fall flavors, adapted from a recipe in the September 2002 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.

Roasted Butternut Squash With Sage

1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel squash, cut off stem and 1/2 inch of bottom end. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and pulp. Place flat side down on a cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch pieces.

Mix sage, olive oil, garlic powder, pepper and salt in a bowl and toss squash pieces in the mixture until they are evenly coated.

Place squash pieces in a single layer on a large baking pan or dish. Roast squash for 35-40 minutes or until tender and caramelized, flipping pieces half way through cooking.

Serve hot, garnished with a sprig of fresh or fried sage.