Category Archives: Dairy-free

Adventures in (organic!) kimchi

csa-daikon

Audrey and her pet Daikon radish

On Saturday, my seven-year-old daughter, Audrey, picked a Really Big daikon radish from the fields at Crooked Sky Farms during CSA Member Day.

My husband Martin asked me, doubtingly, “What are you going to do with that?”

I replied, “I’m pretty sure you can make kimchi out of daikon.”

Martin gave me one of those looks and said, “I hope you don’t expect me to eat that.”

I think the grand count is now up to six or seven things I’ve made in our nearly-20 years of marriage that he doesn’t like.  Maybe eight.  I think his presupposition that he won’t like radish kimchi is based solely upon reputation, and report of friends who have gone to South Korea on ministry trips.

I found a recipe, and I’m making it right now — waiting for 30 minutes while the cubed radish “sweats”.

I’m really happy with all the ingredients.  Nearly all of them are organic:  the daikon, of course;  the green onion;  the dried red chile;  the sugar — all from Crooked Sky Farms, save the sugar.  I’ve also used sea salt, fresh garlic, and gluten-free soy sauce, simply because I’m out of fish sauce.

Radish kimchi (kkakdugi) veggies!

Radish kimchi (kkakdugi) veggies!

I just realized that I do not have fresh ginger, so my kimchi will be ginger-less.

And that big daikon only made one quart plus about 1½ cups of kimchi.  I’m only fermenting the quart container.  The end result didn’t seem as “wet” as the recipe suggested, so I ended up pouring all the “radish juice” back into the mixture.  From other fermented items I’ve made, the veggies must all be submerged in the liquid, and it took adding it all back in to bring the liquid to the top of the quart jar.

Anyway.

I had the thought, “I wonder if slightly adventurous cooks in Korea get a hold of, say, tomatoes, and determine that they will make ketchup, that ubiquitous and widely eaten American condiment.”  And their spouses look askance and wonder if they have to eat it.

The author of the recipe suggests that kkakdugi pairs well with a simple bone-broth soup.  Sounds good to me;  I have bone broth in the fridge right now!  I wonder which of my family will eat Korean Ox-Bone Soup accompanied by Kkakdugi…  I’ll try to remember to report back.

On a tangential note, there is a lady in the weekly small group Bible study I attend, and one of her daughters is a health-nut.  Nearly every week, my friend will report to me of the inedible culinary disasters her daughter has created in the name of health.  When I make a dish, I simply cannot make it in the name of health alone;  it must actually TASTE GOOD.  What’s the point of cooking your asparagus in coconut oil if no one enjoys the flavor, and it ends up in the trash?  (Personally, I think coconut oil is over-used.  However, that is a tangent to my tangent.)  I’ve only brought snacks twice in the last number of months, and both times, she asked repeatedly, while eating with gusto, “This is gluten free??  It’s healthy??”  To which I usually reply, “Well, it’s not healthy, as it has way more sugar than anyone should be eating.  But, it’s gluten-free and it’s nearly all organic.”  She just can’t believe that homemade goods can be better-for-you AND tasty.  I believe that they should be tasty.  I don’t believe in eating something solely because it’s good for you;  food should be enjoyed.

Butternut Squash with Apples and Cranberries (GFCF recipe)

I’ll admit it:  In this age of expert home food stylists and Pinterest beauty, I’m hesitant to post new recipes.  I snapped a pic of this with my phone, not my Nikon SLR (I don’t own a Nikon SLR or any other fancy camera).  It’s not gorgeous.  But, it is SO VERY delicious that I had to share.  And, it’s just in time for Thanksgiving.  Hopefully, it will become a wintertime staple in your home, as my family has proclaimed it must be in mine.

IMG_20131011_193938_996

This recipe calls for a 2½ lb butternut squash, but you can use any orange-fleshed winter squash:  baking/pie pumpkin;  Hubbard;  Delicata;  Kabocha; Red Kuri, and others.  Personally, I wouldn’t use acorn squash or spaghetti squash.  But, just about any other variety would do wonderfully.  You can even substitute yam.  You may also use MORE than 2½ lb.  You could use up to four pounds of squash without tampering with any of the other ingredients.

I implore you not to substitute any other ingredients.  This perhaps may seem like an odd mishmash of ingredients, but when it comes together, it’s perfect:  savory, sweet, a bit spicy, warm, bright, FRESH.  However, if you do find any subs that work beautifully, do return and comment here!

Also, recent research has shown that it’s more important than ever to buy organic winter squash!

Winter squash is a vegetable that might be especially important for us to purchase organic. Recent agricultural trials have shown that winter squash can be an effective intercrop for use in remediation of contaminated soils. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including pyrene, fluoranthene, chrysene, benzo(a)anthracene and benzo(a)pyrene are unwanted contaminants. PAHs are among the contaminants that can be effectively pulled up out of the soil by winter squash plants. When winter squash is planted as a food crop (as opposed to a non-food crop that is being planted between food crop seasons to help improve soil quality), the farmer’s goal is definitely not to transfer soil contaminants like PAHs up into the food. But some of that transfer seems likely to happen, given the effectiveness of winter squash in mobilizing contaminants like PAHs from the soil. For this reason, you may want to make a special point of purchasing certified organic winter squash. Soils used for the growing of in certified organic foods are far less likely to containundesirable levels of contaminants like PAHs.  ~from The World’s Healthiest Foods

In other words, squash does an excellent job of decontaminating the soil:  It pulls contaminants from the soil as it grows.  However, where do those contaminants go??  Very likely INTO the food you’re eating.  You can wash the outside of a conventional squash, or peel it.  But, you can’t wash the flesh of the pesticides and other contaminants that the growing plant has pulled from the ground.

Click here for a simplified, printable PDF version of this recipe.

Butternut Squash with Apples and Cranberries
makes 12 servings

  • 12 oz nitrate-free bacon, chopped
  • 3 oz shallots, sliced thinly (about two large cloves)
  • 2½ lb organic butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and diced into ¾” cubes
  • 4 small Granny Smith apples (or other tart apple), cored, peeled, and diced small
  • 1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries (you can use unsweetened just as well)
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh sage (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1½ tsp ground allspice
  • zest of one lime
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat, cook chopped bacon and sliced shallots, stirring often, until bacon is crisp.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Do not drain.
  3. In a large, heat-proof bowl (such as a glass or ceramic bowl), toss together the diced squash, diced apples, dried cranberries, minced fresh sage, sea salt, allspice, lime zest, and white pepper.
  4. Scrape the bacon, shallots, and rendered bacon fat over the squash mixture and toss to mix well.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish (or two medium-sized ones), and spread evenly.
  6. Cover tightly and bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring once, or until the squash is tender.
  7. Garnish with additional chopped sage (or Italian parsley, cilantro, or other pretty green).
  8. Serve hot.

 

Do you make your own babyfood?

I do.

Here’s part of a message I wrote to a friend, who has an 11 month-old with NO teeth, and is trying to figure out some non-milk ways to add protein to his diet.

For little ones, this sounds a little crazy, but I like serving beans. Of course, too much beans will make anyone gassy… But a small amount is a great source of protein. Garbanzo beans are the least gassy of all beans and have a very mild flavor that is appealing to most babies.

If you can find them, old-fashioned metal ice cube trays that feature a little loosening bar/contraption work even better.

Also, you can use a blender or mini food processor to mash up beans and even meat. It’s really easy, actually, to make your own baby food. Put some cooked brown rice, some cooked beef (stewed works well), some cooked garbanzo beans, and some spinach — raw or cooked — into the blender (or some other healthy combination you think he’ll like — cooked squash, chicken, oatmeal is another idea, or plain yogurt*, blueberries, and oatmeal) and blend to process. Put it in an ice cube tray, and when frozen, pop out and put the cubes in a Ziploc. Then you’ll have quick little portions. I’ve even saved store-bought babyfood jars, and in the a.m., put 2-3 cubes in the jar in the a.m., and by lunch time, they’re thawed and ready to eat.

When I make babyfood, I will often just set aside an unseasoned portion of whatever I’m making for the family either to grind up for baby’s dinner that night OR I’ll save brown rice one night, beef the next, squash the next, etc. and then when I have small bowls in the fridge of a good babyfood combo, I will put them in the blender and make the babyfood.

I do that, though, because I’m cheap + healthy. Gerber and Beechnut typically have so many crappy additives, especially in the stage 2 & 3 meals, but the organic baby food is SUPER expensive. And once you get in the habit, it literally is about five minutes extra of your time to make and freeze babyfood cubes.

For babies younger than 11 months, it’s even simpler, as you should only use one food at a time — steamed carrots, baked squash, etc.  When your baby is around 7-8 months, they can usually tolerate a simple combination of two foods at a time.  The older they grow, the better able they are, typically, to digest more complex food.

Making your own babyfood is more trendy than when I started to do it, nearly  15 years ago.  Responding to consumers, the are now a number of babyfood cookbooks, “kits”, and other supplies… Although I love cookbooks and kitchen gadgets, I find most of that stuff to be kind of a waste of money.  Just take plain versions of what YOU eat — provided that you eat healthy, whole foods — and prepare it as babyfood.  Voila!  No cookbook needed.  And if you have a blender or a mini-prep food processor and some ice cube trays, you don’t need any special gadgets.

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*And, yes, I know I just said “non-milk” and there was a reference to yogurt in there.  It appears that her little one MIGHT have a sensitivity to milk — but milk sensitivities can be tricky.  Is it just lactose?  Lactose is milk sugar.  In honest, fully cultured yogurt, there is virtually no lactose;  the yogurt cultures “eat” the milk sugar, and the resulting fully cultured yogurt has no lactose.  Same with hard, aged cheeses — like cheddar.  The process eliminates lactose.  But, if a child has a sensitivity to casein or whey or another milk protein, you’re up a creek, and even yogurt won’t help;  you have to quit all milk products altogether.

 

Do you live in the north Glendale area of Arizona?  Are you looking for some weekly, inexpensive, naturally-grown produce to add to your health and palate???

The Crooked Sky Farms CSA is ON!!!!!   The cost is $20 per week for 12 weeks. We will start on February 13.  Pick up is at my house from 3:00 – 5:00 every Wednesday. Produce is Certified Naturally Grown, which has higher standards than USDA Organic and is more appropriate for small, direct-to-consumer farms. Pay in full in advance or half up-front (on or before February 13) and the other half midway through. Send me an e-mail at karenjoy@onlysometimesclever.com if you are interested and I will send you a contract and an info sheet later this week.  If you decide it is right for you and your family, let me know soon and I will add you to the list!!

Spicy Orange Chicken Recipe (Crockpot, GFCF)

I’ll admit it:  I crave junk food from time to time.  Lately, what has been haunting my wishful ponderings has been the sickly sweet orange chicken dish, found at “fast casual” Chinese restaurants, like Panda Express.  I last had Panda’s orange chicken more than ten years ago, and I still remember…  If there was a gluten-free version sold somewhere, I’d probably gobble it up.  So, perhaps it’s best for my sugar-intake that I haven’t found it anywhere.

A couple of days ago, a bloggy friend sent me a recipe for Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken from The Comfort of Cooking.  Perhaps you’ve seen it;  it’s been making the rounds like wildfire, thanks to some fabulous pictures and Pinterest.  I looked at it and thought, “That is a LOT of honey.”  I buy semi-local honey, from The Honeyman in Prescott Valley, Arizona.  It’s raw, thick, and amazingly delicious.  It’s also expensive.  My thought was, “A cup of honey is worth roughly $2.75.”  I’m sorry, but that’s too much invested, honey-wise, into one recipe.

I also thought, “Two pounds of chicken?  That’s not going to feed my family.”  Along those lines, my friend Tina mentioned that she had doubled the chicken and the recipe had still turned out well.

Another thought:  “KETCHUP???  In an already sweet recipe??  Hmmm…  I’m not going to do that.  Tomato paste and apple cider vinegar would be better.”

Then, “Only a half cup of onion?  Crockpotted onions are amazing.  Needs more onion.”

And then, I looked in my freezer and saw a half container of orange juice concentrate that I keep specifically for cooking.  The gears in my brain, especially the ones marked Fiddling with Recipes, started whirring.

And the resulting recipe was so different than the original that, while I freely admit I used it as a launch pad, I thought I could probably safely call it a new recipe.

The resulting recipe was also AMAZING and TASTY.  When I sampled the first completed spoonful, I about melted.  So perfect.  So, so perfect.  Granted, it’s not as sweet as Panda’s orange chicken;  I think you’d need to throw in two or three cups of sugar to accomplish that.  However, it’s orangey-enough and sweet-enough to satisfy the cravings.  I was a bit afraid that it would be too spicy for my little girls, ages 4 and 6.  They made comment about the spiciness, but each of them simply picked up a cup of water and braved their way through, as the flavor was compelling enough to keep eating.  Everyone — all seven of us — really loved this recipe.  It received thumbs up and requests for me to make it again in the future.

One more recipe note:  You may notice that ½ teaspoon of citric acid is called for.  “Wha…?” may be your response and you may be tempted to omit it.  PLEASE DON’T.  Let’s call it the Secret Ingredient.  Citric acid enables you to taste the tang of the oranges.  It’s a must.  If you have a Sprouts in your area, you can find it in the bulk spice section for less than a dollar per ounce.  It can also be found in the canning section of any well-stocked grocery store.  Or, if you have a cheese-making store nearby, they will certainly stock it, as well.

OK.  One more recipe note:  The only mixed reviews were about the cooked orange peel in the recipe.  Some loved it, some picked them out.

Spicy Orange Chicken

Spicy Orange Chicken (Crockpot, GFCF)  In this pic, instead of green onion, chopped Italian parsley tops the dish.  I went to my veggie drawer which was inexplicably bare of the staple.  I did find some parsley, though, and it tasted fine and was pretty.  However, I do suggest you use green onion.

Click here for a printable PDF of the recipe.

Spicy Orange Chicken (Crockpot, Gluten-Free, Casein/Dairy-Free)
serves eight
Prep time:  About 10 minutes.
Cook time:  Four hours

8-10 fresh or thawed boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4-6 chicken breasts (3-3½ pounds)
sea salt and cracked pepper
one medium onion, chopped
½ cup honey
½ cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste — 1 tsp will make it noticeably spicy but not HOT)
1 small orange, divided use
5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 lb.)
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
5 tsp corn starch
1/3 cup water
½ tsp citric acid
2 tsp sesame seeds
3 green onions (scallions) chopped
2 cups uncooked brown rice
4 cups water

Cut chicken pieces in half, lightly season with salt and pepper, and place in the bottom of a Crockpot.  Turn Crockpot on high.

Chop onion and place on top of the chicken.

In a glass bowl, gently heat honey in a microwave until thin.  (Alternately, you can place the container of honey in a pan of hot water until warmed through.)  Into the warmed honey, whisk the orange juice concentrate, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.  Pour atop the chicken and onions.  Cover and cook on high for two hours.

Slice the orange in half, and slice each half very thinly.  Set aside half of the slices for garnish.  After the chicken has cooked for two hours, add the remaining slices to the simmering chicken, stirring to mix.  Turn Crockpot to LOW.  Cook for one hour.

After the chicken has cooked for an hour (for a total of three hours), the chicken should be very tender.  Break up the pieces, still in the Crockpot, with a wooden spoon.  In a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup water, the corn starch, and citric acid, combining well.  Stir into the simmering chicken, mixing well.  Then, stir in the chopped carrots and red bell pepper.

As brown rice needs to cook for about 45 minutes, start it now:  In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the brown rice and four cups of water.  Bring to boil, then cover and turn heat to low, simmering the brown rice for 45 minutes.

Continue to cook the chicken and veggies on low for an additional hour (a total of four hours), stirring occasionally, breaking up more chunks of chicken as you stir until you have a shredded consistency, as in the picture above.

Ladle shredded chicken, veggies, and sauce into a serving dish.  Garnish with the remaining orange slices, sesame seeds, and chopped green onion.  Serve over hot, cooked brown rice.

Enjoy!

Creamy Lemon-Honey Slaw Recipe

So, I’m hesitant to post any more recipes as there has been an explosion in foodie blogs with fabulously styled pics that people can post to Pinterest and drool over while they are inspired…

Here’s my pic to go with this recipe:

Fi and Daddy with slaw, cropped

Classy, eh??

You may just have to believe me that this is an excellent recipe.  I have five children, and it is challenging to find or create a recipe that EVERYONE loves.  However, all seven of us were fighting over who could have thirds of this.  (In the end, no one had thirds.  We saved enough for my husband to take to work with him the following day with his lunch.)  My six year old, Audrey, who is not a particular fan of cabbage said, “You know what makes the red bells and the carrots and the cabbage taste so delicious?  It’s the sauce.”  I thanked her for her excellent review, and decided that I would post this recipe, even without a Pinterest-friendly photo.

Indeed, “the sauce” is what makes this slaw taste wonderful.  It has a flavor that is classic enough to make it taste like “real” coleslaw, but healthy enough that you may never again return to sugar-laden slaw again…  I have made our slaw like this for years, with no regrets.

Click here for a printable PDF of the recipe

Creamy Lemon-Honey Slaw
serves 8

1 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely grated
1 small-to-medium head of green cabbage, shredded
1/3 cup honey (preferably raw and local)
3 Tbsp organic lemon juice
2 tsp dijon mustard (I love Trader Joe’s!)
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup real mayonnaise (again, we use Trader Joe’s)

Into a glass container, measure the honey.  Warm (in either a pan of hot water or in the microwave) the honey so that it is thin.  While still warm, whisk in the lemon juice.  When incorporated, whisk in the dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.  When incorporated, whisk in the mayonnaise until the dressing is smooth.

Gently fold in the red bell pepper, carrots, and cabbage.

Enjoy!

A new-to-me gluten-friendly, family-friendly place to eat!!!

Our family eats out about once every two weeks.  We have a slim selection that is gluten-free, stuff everyone will eat, and isn’t too pricey.  I got an ad in the mail for a nearby place — Genghis Grill, a Mongolian-style barbecue.  The food looked good, so I went on the website.

It was hard to find, but I eventually stumbled on a PDF that, among other things, lists the ingredients for all of their sauces.  Three of them (Sweet & Sour; Dragon — which is a sweet & spicy chili-garlic sauce; and Roasted Tomato) are listed as “gluten-friendly” — meaning they have no gluten ingredients.  I thought, “Great.  But what about the meats?  And the veggies?” so I contacted the company.

They called me this morning — a GREAT customer service rep named Jax — turns out she is the Director of Culinary R&D — and she said that the ONLY meat that has gluten is the “Khans Krab” (it’s imitation made from fish and wheat starch — no surprise there).  None of their meats, marinades, veggies, etc., have gluten.  They don’t use soy sauce (which almost always contains wheat) in any of their marinades, though it is present in their fried rice and in their gluten-containing sauces.  She also said that if you let them know that it’s for a “food allergy”, they will clean the grill AND use a clean wok AND even cover your food while it’s cooking with a bowl to limit cross-contamination.  In addition, all of their spices are “clean” — 100% spice, no fillers like maltodextrin or starches.  Jax said that they take food issues seriously.  I really appreciate that.  They are very aware of the potential of cross-contamination, so they don’t make the claim of 100% gluten-free, but I REALLY appreciate the efforts they’re making, and you can be sure we’ll be eating there some time in the near future.

So, you could use white or brown rice, ANY protein (minus the “crab”), ANY vegetable, and one of three gluten-friendly sauces.  In the limited world of g.f. eating, that’s actually quite a selection.

Additionally, unless I’m missing something, all of the sauces that are gluten-free are also dairy-free.

I think all of this will compel me to ignore the “cutesy” spellings using “Khan” throughout their website and menu.

Do any readers have experience with Genghis Grill?

YUM YUM YUM

Few things lately have made me as giddily elated as this:

A while back, when I embarked on a no-sugar Paleo-ish diet, I looked high and low for honey-sweetened chocolate for an occasional treat.  I was pretty aghast to find that the prices of such chocolate are typically around $3-4 for a one-ounce bar.  ONE OUNCE.  Plus shipping.  I couldn’t find any locally.  That was a no-go.  $64 a pound doesn’t work on this budget.

At Trader Joe’s on Thursday night, I stopped by their “new products” display and I think I gasped aloud when I saw the above package.  Then, I started to hyperventilate.  Well, not really, but I was really excited.

When I got to the car, I sampled.  These Dark Chocolate Honey Mints are SO GOOD.  They’re like junk-free peppermint patties, and an absolute dream for anyone who loves dark chocolate.  They’re $3.99 for a 7 ounce package, which isn’t cheap, but compared to all other honey-sweetened chocolate, and many chocolates in general, not unreasonable.  That works out to $9.14 per pound.  I can work with that.

My package contained 16 good-sized candies.  Per the nutrition info, there are 21 g carbs (17 g sugar, 2 g fiber) in three chocolates.  Not hyper-low-carb, but definitely workable for any reduced-calorie or reduced-carb diet.

As the package front proclaims, they have only three ingredients:  honey, chocolate liquor, and oil of peppermint.  The inside is a creamed honey flavored with peppermint.  This means that whether you’re gluten-free, dairy-free*, vegan*, vegetarian, refined-sugar-free, or on just about any hyper-restrictive diet, you can eat these.  In fact, one of my first thoughts was for a dear friend:  one of her daughters is on the Feingold diet, another is gluten-free and dairy-free.  I stopped by her home with the world’s smallest gift:  Five candies, one for each family member.  🙂  I should have purchased a whole package for her;  I was kicking myself for not doing so.  But, knowing that candy that fits the diets of her daughters has been really tough to find, I had to share, at least a little.  The look on the face of her oldest daughter — the one on Feingold — is imprinted on my memory.  She was SO THRILLED.  For someone who normally can’t have candy, these chocolates are like GOLD.

Another thought was for my Paleo-inspiration, Kim.  I sent her a text and a pic, and she was excited too — she shops at Trader Joe’s all the time and hadn’t seen them before!  Having Paleo-friendly chocolate is a rare, rare treat.

The only drawback is that the chocolate itself is wholly unsweetened.  It’s plain, pure, dark chocolate, and all the sweetness comes from the creamed honey center.  So, you really have to chew these to eat them, or it tastes like you’re licking a square of baking chocolate.  I prefer to savor my chocolate slowly, and don’t usually chew.  But… I kind of have to make an exception here.  Small quibble.

I had planned on eating one a day, but here it is, about 48 hours after I purchased the bag, and they’re all gone.  Now, I did share with my friend, and gave one to my hubby, and one to Fiala…  But, uh, that means I ate nine of them in two days.  That’s not sustainable — too much sugar for me, even if it’s sugar from honey.  So, the next package I buy, I’ll have to ration it more carefully.

So, y’all go out and buy some, so Trader Joe’s will keep this product on their shelves forever.

Here’s another review, with a bit more info.

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*the package does warn “may contain traces of milk”.

Tomato Confit Sauce (GFCF, vegan)

Mmmm….

This is my favorite sauce.  Truly, I could just ladle it into my mouth with rude slurping sounds, but I usually restrain myself and put it ON something.  It works as a pasta sauce or a topping for steamed veggies, baked fish or chicken, or just about any meat.  Or tofu.  It would make tofu taste good, I’d bet, which is an admirable feat for any sauce!

You can serve it straight up, but since it is concentrated and PACKED with flavor, I will sometimes sauté chopped veggies on the side — zucchini or other summer squash, mushrooms, and red bell peppers are good choices — and stir it into the confit, with perhaps some canned (or fresh) diced tomatoes, to extend the sauce.  The result of this recipe is somewhere between a sauce and a condiment.  I think it would make a fabulous topping for bruschetta, and the other night, when I served this, my husband (who is much more keen on presentation than I am) said, “You could just make a schmear of this across a clean plate, and serve the fish on top of it.”  Good idea, especially as this highly-rated flounder recipe didn’t turn out quite as flavorful as I had imagined.

The ingredients are fairly flexible, depending on how much you have on hand, but here are the non-negotiables:  Tomatoes, onion, garlic cloves, fresh herbs, olive oil, and sea salt.  What transforms these usual suspects of the culinary arts is ROASTING them.

A reader, who is also a Facebook fan, suggested — oh, about a year ago, I think — that I try making “confit” from my tomatoes.  I had not enough to make paste from, but too many to just use in salads and sandwiches.  She said she got the idea from Martha Stewart, who does indeed have a Tomato Confit recipe.  However, I have tinkered and perfected, and now what I do hardly resembles the original, so I think it is transformed into something NEW, and even better.  Although I might hesitate to label this as a true confit — that is, I really do not know how long this would last, as a preserve — it still bears its confit roots.

The best part is:  IT IS SO EASY, and it makes your home smell like a pizzeria, without the actual pizza.  🙂  Speaking of, this sauce doubles as pizza sauce that is to die for!

So, here we go!

Tomato Confit Sauce

click here for printable PDF

makes about 3½ cups

  • 1½ – 2 lbs of fresh, ripe, small tomatoes.  Halve and remove the area around the stem, but no need to seed, peel, or core
  • 3-4 Tbsp fresh, finely-chopped herbs (I like rosemary and basil), divided
  • ½ large onion, cut in slivers (a regular brown or yellow onion would work best — something with some zip to it)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, halved
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • a generous pinch raw sugar
  1. As you prepare the ingredients, preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Into a 11″ x 7.5″ (or similarly-sized) glass or glazed stoneware baking dish, drizzle about 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the fresh herbs.
  3. Place tomatoes, cut side down, shoulder to shoulder in the baking dish.  They can overlap somewhat, but it’s best if they are all skin-side up, cut-side-down.
  4. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the rest of the herbs, the slivered onion, and garlic.  Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil, then sprinkle on the sea salt and very lightly sprinkle all with a pinch of sugar.
  5. Bake, covered with foil, in a 325°F oven for 45 minutes on a mid-to-low oven rack.  Then, remove the foil and continue to roast, uncovered, until everything is soft, and about half of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. It should look like this:
  7. Cool to room temperature (or until at least not-hot), and transfer all to a food processor or blender.  I use a Cuisinart Mini-Prep, and pulse back and forth on chop and grind (I have to do it in two batches, as the bowl doesn’t hold the whole recipe).  Process until the sauce is mostly-smooth, but not uniformly so.  You want to be able to see the flecks and small bits.
  8. Taste, and decide if it needs more salt or even some pepper (I’m not a big fan of black pepper), then restrain yourself from eating all that concentrated deliciousness, right there.
  9. Enjoy!

Cranberry-Almond Stickybread Recipe (GFCF, refined-sugar free)

Mmmm....

I came up with this recipe for a friend whose husband has been put on a really restrictive diet.  At first, I was disappointed, because my intention was to make a dough for rollable cinnamon rolls, but the dough was too wet so I had to glop it all in the baking dish.  My husband, however, vetoed my plans to rework the recipe.  “It’s perfect,” he proclaimed, stabbing his fork into the air as an exclamation.

Usually I make a recipe a number of times to work out the kinks… but after excellent results on the second time making it, I decided to go ahead and post the recipe.  I’m thinking I’m going to make this for Christmas morning.  I read up on Monkeybread, and I think the recipe would work in that style, too — in a Bundt pan, maybe even starting with frozen dough.  I’ll have to work on that, though.

This recipe uses no refined sugar:  honey and/or agave syrup are the only sweeteners.  I used egg whites, as my friend’s hubby can’t have yolks;  I think it would work without eggs entirely — if you try it without eggs, up the water content and leave a comment to let me know how it worked.  I used sweetened, dried cranberries, but any dried fruit would work (and would be necessary to make it truly sugar-free).  I used almonds, but pecans would work fine, too.

Last caveat:  The flours.  I use my favorite trio of gluten-free flours in this recipe, but you may find others that work just as well or better.  Post a comment if you alter the flours and let me know the result!

  • Garbanzo flour is made by Bob’s Red Mill, or you can find it in any Asian market as besan, chana dal, chickpea flour, or gram flour.  Expect to pay about $5-6 for a 4-pound bag of garbanzo flour at the Asian market.  My favorite brand is Brar, which is a product of Canada (and which used to be labeled as gluten-free and is no longer… though there isn’t any cross-contamination warning on it).
  • Mung bean starch is very common in Korean cooking;  most Asian markets are organized by nationality/region, so you’d find it on the Korean aisle.  Or Chinese.  I’ve purchased it from both.  It’s also known, cryptically, as green bean powder or green bean starch, since mung beans are small and green.  Mung bean starch is a bit pricey, at around $2.50 – 3.50 per pound in the store, and about double that online.
  • You can find gluten-free oat flour in many well-stocked grocery stores, or mill your own in a blender, sifting it through a wire sieve afterward.

 

Cranberry-Almond Stickybread (click for printable PDF)
About an hour and ten minutes from start to finish
Makes 15 servings

  • Grease a large baking dish (I use a 9″ x 13″ Pyrex, though size is flexible.  I also use Spectrum Organic non-hydrogenated Shortening to grease my pans.)
  • Turn on your oven to 350°F for only 2 minutes.  Turn off.  This provides a warm location for dough to rise.

1¾ cup warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
2 Tbsp honey

  • Gently combine water, yeast, and honey, and let sit (proof) for ten minutes

1½ cups garbanzo flour
1½ cups oat flour
1½ cups mung bean starch
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp xanthan gum

  • Whisk together these dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Set aside.

4 egg whites

  • When the yeast mixture is done proofing, whisk in 4 egg whites, stirring briskly to combine.
  • Add the yeast and egg mixture to the flour mixture, whisking quickly and thoroughly to combine.  Set aside to rest about five minutes.

½ – ¾ cup honey OR agave syrup OR a combination of the two
2 tsp cinnamon

  • Warm the honey to liquefy using a microwave for 10-15 seconds, or setting the container in a pan of very warm water.
  • Stir briskly to combine the cinnamon with honey.

½ cup almond meal
½ cup blanched, slivered almonds (or other chopped nut)
½ cup sweetened, dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)

  • Stir the dough, then with two spoons, drop spoonfuls of dough into the baking dish, using half to two-thirds of the dough.
  • Drizzle about half of the honey-cinnamon mixture over the lumps of dough, then top with about 1/3 cup of the almond meal and all of the slivered almonds and dried cranberries.
  • Drop the remaining dough in small lumps over the first layer.  Drizzle with remaining honey mixture and sprinkle with remaining almond meal.
  • Place into slightly warm oven or other warm place and let rise for 20 minutes.
  • Remove baking dish, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and preheat oven to 375°F for about ten minutes, for a total rising time of 30 minutes.  Dough will have doubled in size (or just a little less-than-doubled).
  • Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until top no longer feels spongy when touched lightly, and top is a nice, golden brown, and honey is sizzling along the sides of the dish.
  • Cut into 15 servings.  Serve warm, with a side of dairy-free ice cream, or topped with whipped cream if you can have dairy.  (Tastes good cold, too, on the off-chance that there are leftovers.)

 

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