Thursday, January 27, 2011

How About a Weekend Brunch?

Well, its the weekend again. You want to know one of my favorite parts about the weekend? It's the lazy mornings. And do you want to know what goes well with lazy mornings? Brunch.

Here is a beautiful brunch recipe. An Oven Pancake, or a German Pancake or a Dutch Baby- whatever you call it, it's yummy! This one has apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar. And its easier than pancakes because you don't have to stand over the stove or griddle while everyone else is enjoying their breakfast.

So I suggest that you try this either Saturday or Sunday or tomorrow if you are like me and your weekends start on Fridays.

Apple Oven Pancake
2 apples (preferably tart)- peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup gluten-free self rising baking mix
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup rice milk
3 tablespoons butter

Quick Note: You can also make your own baking mix by adding flour, xanthum gum, and baking powder

Before you begin, set the oven to 425 degrees F.

Now, the first step is peeling and slicing up the apples. Once they are all sliced up mix them with the cinnamon and brown sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Toss it all around until all of the apples are well coated.

Next, take the dish you are going to prep it in (either a medium-small baking dish or a pie plate or a cast-iron skillet) and put 2 tablespoons of butter in it. Now place the dish in the oven while the oven continues to preheat so that the butter melts.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt, then add in the eggs, milk, and remaining butter.

Take the dish out of the oven (making sure the butter is completely melted) and swirl it around so that the butter is coating the entire bottom of the pan.

Now put the apple and cinnamon sugar mixture into the dish and spread it out evenly. Pour the batter over top and place back into the oven.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the pancake is puffed up and golden.

Straight Outta the Oven

Here's the most difficult part- wait to cool a bit before serving. But then comes the best part- slice it up and serve it with syrup, or more fruit, or powdered sugar- pick your poison. This serves about 4 people if you serve it alongside some fresh fruit or some other breakfast side.

They say the color red makes you hungry. Is it working?

Happy Weekend!!! And feel free to share what your cooking this weekend in the comment section.

As for me... I'm heading to Wales tomorrow to explore one of my many homelands (I think ) :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

In Case You're Ever in the UK

So, before I left I heard that the UK was more progressive when it comes to gluten free options, so I was excited about that but still nervous. I mean, on top of gluten-free I also have to deal with being dairy-free which oftentimes proves to be more difficult, or at least as difficult. Plus, what if these foods were really expensive or they were only at specialty foods out in the suburbs that I couldn't get to? So much to think about.

Well I have already found 2 grocery stores with great gluten free options, Sainsbury and Planet Organic. So, I know that most, if not all, of my readers are back in the US and can't visit either of these stores, but if you ever visit London this might be useful. And I just want to talk about it, hehe :)

A couple highlights from Sainsbury:
-the free from brand which carries pretty much everything. From sauces to cook with, to snacks, to dessert, to baking ingredients
-genius bread which is the best DF/CF bread I have ever had. It comes in two flavors as well: white and brown.

Sainsbury is a big name grocery store with shops on like every corner of the city. Some of them are large and some are small so their amount of gluten/dairy-free options varies but in the bigger ones they have an entire section full of options and everything I've tried from actually tastes good. They have the basics like rice milk, GF flour, rice pasta, etc, but they also have some British classics like mincemeat pies and sticky toffee pudding.
New products available in  the Sainsbury's freefrom range
Photo Source: Sainsbury's Website

And now on to my saving grace of London- Planet Organic- which happens to be right on campus. Not only do they have all of the groceries I need, but they also have a prepared food section that clearly labels what is in and what is not in all of the food, including gluten and dairy free baked goods that are incredible. Its a perfect breakfast stop on the way to class: a muffin and a soy latte. Oh how I much I have missed that basically nutrient-empty breakfast. Another good thing about Planet Organic is that it offers a ton of vegan options for those of you who are so inclined. It can be a tad expensive but everything here is expensive so you learn to live with it.

For those of you who never make it to London, sorry for wasting your time with this post, but for those of you who do come, don't worry because you WILL have something to eat.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vegan Basil Pesto

I think its time to introduce you to my favorite little kitchen helper... my Magic Bullet. I'm willing to bet that most of you have seen the infomercials and I'm also willing to bet that at least a couple of you were tempted to buy it. It may not be the miracle that the infomercial portrays it to be, but its always been a big help to me. I mean, I use it to grind my coffee, make smoothies, and as a make shift food processor. Its cheap too. I can't really afford a nice food processor and I don't really have a lot of room for a ton of different appliances, so a magic bullet is convenient for us college-age, tight-budgeted, or small-kitchened cooks. Another thing I love about my personal magic bullet... it was free. I won it at my high-school senior picnic and its still going strong about 3 years later.

Here he is! And notice the outlet converter... yes, I packed my magic bullet and carried it all the way to London.

This is my latest magic bullet creation: Vegan Basil Pesto. It is really good with pasta, or spread on a sandwich, or for anything really.

If you don't have a magic bullet, you can use a food processor obviously. And all though I hate to be disloyal to my little helper, a food processor is probably better because you can better control the consistency and how much you blend everything.

Vegan Basil Pesto
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1 whole lemon
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons miso paste
1/2 teaspoon salt

The cast of characters

*if you can't find miso paste or don't want to use it you don't have to, but it adds the flavor that the cheese would have given it in a non-vegan pesto

And once you have all of the ingredients out, it's super easy to prepare. You simply add all of the ingredients into your magic bullet/food processor and blend until its a creamy consistency.

Here's the sauce, all jarred and ready to go. That's one green sauce.

Another note about pesto- the basil can brown when heated so I would add the sauce after everything is cooked and try not to heat it too much. The taste isn't affected but a brownish-greenish sauce just isn't pretty.

pesto tossed with some pasta and topped with dairy-free parmesan and pine nuts

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pie Kick Continues Blueberry Style

So, when trying to figure out a gluten-free pie crust recipe, I made a little too much dough. That is part of the reason I have been on a pie kick recently. The other part is that I love pie and I love making pie. Does anyone else feel like pies are just filled with love? If you bake someone a pie, I feel like it just conveys love. More than any other food. I don't know why but thats what I feel about pie (I just created poetry).

I had one half of a pie crust recipe left, meaning I needed an open-faced pie recipe. When searching through my recipe files on my computer I found a recipe for an open-faced blueberry pie that my mom's friend (and I would say my friend) Myra sent me. Its incredibly simple and requires very few ingredients. I am also anxious to try this same recipe with strawberries or raspberries. I wonder if it would work?

When I told Myra that I made the pie she told me that she has started melting about 4 ounces of almond bark and drizzling it over the crust before filling it. Sadly I didn't do this but it sounds incredible, so I encourage you all to try it.

Alright, down to the point. Here is the recipe:
*Just a warning I filled a deep dish 91/2 inch pie plate. So, its a big pie. If you are using a smaller pie plate you may not need all of the filling.

Open-faced Blueberry Pie
1 egg white, lightly beaten
8 cups blueberries
1 cup water
4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt

Roll out the pie crust and place it in the pie plate. Crimp the edges any way you like to make it look pretty. For this pie you pre-bake the crust, so place parchment paper inside the plate on top of the crust, including the edges. Fill the plate with dried rice or beans for weight. Bake the crust with weights at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven, remove the weights and parchment paper. Prick the crust with a fork all along the bottom and sides. Put back into the oven for 5-10 more minutes, checking after 3 to prick any bubbles that may be forming. When the crust is baked and golden, remove and let cool for a few minutes before filling. After 3 minutes, brush the crust with the egg white.
Isn't that crust just beautiful?

To make the filling...

Take two cups of the blueberries and put them in a medium saucepan with 1 cup of water. Cover the pan and bring it to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 4 tablespoons of water and set it to the side.

When the water and blueberries come to a boil, lower the heat and keep the mixture at a simmer, stirring constantly for about 3-4 minutes or until the blueberries start to burst and juices begin to thicken. Continuing to stir constantly, add in the cornstarch mixture, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Once mixed together, simmer for a minute until the mixture becomes translucent.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 6 cups of blueberries. Spoon this mixture into the baked pie crust then let it sit for at least 2 hours so that the filling can thicken and set. And when its done setting you will have a beautiful pie that will probably turn your lips purple :)

Purple is my favorite color. Just another reason I love this pie.

And this is all that was left at the end of the night...

PS: I don't know if you noticed but its 4:15 AM here. I cannot sleep. This does not bode well for my productivity or attention span tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Good Ole American Apple Pie

I have a confession to make. These past few recipes I made a couple weeks ago when I was home. I was cooking so much and wanted to share so many of the recipes but didn't want to throw them all at you at once. So I stockpiled. Don't hate me for it, but trust me you don't want what I have been cooking in my new London home just yet. I have been so preoccupied with getting settled that I've been living off of microwave meals and toast. And jet lag hasn't helped. My eating times are way off. I can't seem to shake it. I know I need to stop napping but with only 3 hours of sleep at night its almost impossible not to. Oh well, I will figure it out soon enough.

Until then, I will give you a really American recipe: Apple Pie. But to make it a little relevant I have researched (via wikipedia like all good college students do) the history of apple pie. It turns out that Americans have been making pie since the 18th century. But do you want to know how long the Brits have been making it? Since about 1381 in which the ingredients listed were "good apples, good spices, figs, raisins and pears"

Somewhere along the way, however, apple pie became an American tradition. Some people claim that in prohibition times, the Apple Marketing Board of New York State was hurting from the lack of cider production so they started slogans such as "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" and "as American as apple pie."

Also, during WWII the stock answer for soldiers as to why they were going into the war was "for mom and apple pie" and Chevrolet used the phrase "baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet" to appeal to patriotism.

Interesting how a traditional English food was made into a sign of American patriotism huh? But I guess England was our mother country so a lot of our culture has been adapted from them. And it seems that when it comes to apple pie we may have outdone their recipe. A couple of my friends had apple pie at an English cafe and took one bite and scooted it to the side. Here is a pie that follows the American pie tradition and I don't believe would ever be scooted to the side:

Classic American Apple Pie
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1 tablespoon cinnamon
6 tart Granny Smith apples, sliced and peeled
Non-dairy milk and sugar for dusting

First preheat the oven to 450 degrees F as it might take the oven awhile to reach this temperature.

Now roll out the dough. I think I mention all of this in the pie crust recipe post, but there are a few things to keep in mind when rolling out the dough. First, you can do it one of two main ways. (1) the old school way with a large surface and everything floured or (2) between two pieces of parchment paper. I have found that sometimes the dough still sticks to the parchment paper however. So it is not a full-proof method at least for me. I generally use the old-school way. Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes it is hard to get the crust into the pie plate in all one piece. Don't worry you can patch it together in the pie plate. There is no gluten, so you cannot overwork the dough. I had to patch mine together and in the end it still looked and tasted good. Also, once you have rolled out the bottom pie crust put the other half back into the fridge while you assemble the rest of the pie to keep it cold.
Ok, so now that you have rolled out the bottom crust and it is in the pie plate, mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl. Add the peeled apple slices and mix well. I do not have a handy apple peeler or anything so I end up spending far too long peeling all of it with a knife and end up making a mess of the kitchen with my peelings, but hey a messy kitchen is a used kitchen.
Once you have mixed everything together, layer the covered apples evenly all around the crust, fitting them together as tightly as you can. Every once in awhile take any clumps of sugar and cinnamon at the bottom of the bowl (if you have some) and sprinkle over the apples. Keep layering until you have used up all of the apples, even if you have to make a mound on top. Actually, a mound makes the pie oh so much better

Now dot the pie with vegan butter, meaning layer small pieces of butter evenly distributed on top of the apple mixture. I just take two tablespoons of a stick of Earth Balance and shave off little pieces all over the top with a knife. Now roll out the top layer of the crust and lay it over the top of the pie. Trim any excess edges and pinch the edges of the two crusts together. Brush the top of the crust with any non-dairy milk of your choosing and sprinkle lightly with sugar. This will give a crisp sweetness and shine to the outside of your pie. Make a few slits in the top of your pie to help with ventilation during baking.
And now its time to bake! Bake for 40-50 minutes at 450 degrees. If you need to you can cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil if they start to get too brown somewhere along the baking process. When it is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool a bit and then you have a simple and beautiful apple pie that should have you waving an American flag and drinking coke out of a glass bottle while singing the national anthem. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Judy's Breakfast Casserole

For the record, my mom's name is Judy. I could have put Mom's Breakfast Casserole but that makes her sound old, so for her sake Judy's Breakfast Casserole it is. No disrespect intended. I am actually not at all sure where this recipe originally came from. We have been having this casserole for holiday and special breakfasts for as long as I can remember. Its yummy, its homey, and it makes good leftovers if it lasts that long. And this year she has perfected making it gluten and dairy free. So, I am sharing it now! Please make this. You will not regret it.

Judy's Breakfast Casserole
1 pound sausage, cooked and drained (you should check your sausage brand to make sure that it is in fact gluten and dairy free)
6 eggs
1 cup dairy-free cheese
5 slices Udi's white sandwich bread, cubed
2 cups non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond, your choice)
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon salt

This is really easy to make. In fact, there are only 3 steps.

Step 1, Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.

Step 2, Refrigerate overnight.

Step 3, Bake at 350 degrees F for 30+ minutes.
*our oven is a little weird, but sometimes it can take up to an hour. You will know its done when the egg looks set and is golden and bubbly on top.

That's it. You're done. This is really easy and quick to make. The only thing is that you have to plan ahead because it is important to let it sit overnight so that the bread absorbs all of the other ingredients.
On another, breakfast casserole unrelated note, I am hoping to go to some of the open-air London markets soon and as soon as I do I will post some pictures of them and try to find some unique ingredients to work with. Please check back for that, because I am really excited about it!

Friday, January 7, 2011

London's Calling: Fish and Chips

So I am officially in London. I just moved into my new Flat/ Residence Hall and am currently stopped at an Internet Cafe while running some errands to make said flat livable. In honor of this exciting new location of mine I am offering to you this London inspired recipe...

You see, this Christmas Eve, my family started a new tradition- a british pub christmas. We decided to stereotype and make fish and chips- served with English Ale of course. The whole affair was even complete with "crackers" the little things you pull at both ends and pop, spilling out confetti and other fun goodies.

So, with all of the other Christmas cooking and baking we bought the "chips" instead of making them- please forgive me! But the fried fish we did make and after a few test runs this was my favorite recipe. A lot of it doesn't involve exact measurements because you really just have to play with amounts and consistencies.

The Fish of "Fish and Chips"

6 Tilapia Filets (or one for each person)
1 cup Bob's Red Mill pancake mix
1 egg
1 bottle of gluten-free beer (I used a sorghum beer)
garlic powder
gluten and dairy free panko style (or regular) breadcrumbs
sea salt

First, heat a skillet with about an inch of canola oil or another vegetable oil.

Next, mix together the pancake mix and egg in a medium-sized bowl. Now add in the beer a little at a time, stirring constantly, until you get a pancake batter consistency (probably thinner rather than thicker). Now add in garlic powder- exact amount doesn't matter, it depends on your tastes.

On a separate plate lay out a thin layer of the bread crumbs.

Take each salmon filet and cover it on both sides with the batter. Then roll the batter-covered fish in the bread crumbs.

Now, my dear friends, it is time for the frying. I just feel even more southern tossing something into a skillet of hot oil and hearing it crackle. I start talking in a southern drawl and begin coating everything in butter, channeling Paula Deen the whole time. Ok, not really, but frying anything does take me back to that good ole southern comfort food feeling.

Carefully drop the filet into the hot oil and cook on each side for about 3 minutes. This will vary based on the thickness of your fish. It is also important to make sure that your oil is not too hot. Overly hot oil will lead to burnt breading and raw fish. yuck. You want a light bubble and crackle without splattering oil and hissing. Just play around with it until you get it right.

When the fish is done frying, move it to a piece of brown package paper, a brown paper bag, or newspaper to drain off some of the excess oil. Also, while the fish s still hot and oily, sprinkle on a little bit of salt. And Voila! You have the Fish of Fish and Chips :)

Now all you have to do is grab your favorite beer and enjoy your British pub night!

And now I am in London where I no doubt will be introduced to new foods, ingredients, and ways of cooking and you, my lovely readers, will get to travel alongside me as I update you on my new inspirations. People always talk bad about British food but I am determined to find the good in it and absolutely cannot wait to try the infamous Indian food in London.