The Gluten-Free Cookbook

Friday, March 30, 2012

Vegan Baja Bowl

So there's a series of videos on YouTube the titles of which I feel I should not mention because, well, this is a family-friendly blog. Anyway, one of them depicts things people say to vegans and captures public perception of vegans and vegetarians perfectly. 

What do you eat? No seriously, what do you eat? 

What about protein?

So, like, if you were on a deserted island and there was only meat to eat...

Well, you still eat eggs at least, right? 

This is one of several posts in response to the question of what vegans eat. 

serves four

2 cups brown rice
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans
pinch of each, cumin, smoked paprika, coriander  
6 ripe tomatoes, diced and seeded
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1 large sprig mint, leaves only, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 green chile, minced
2 limes, juiced
pinch sugar
1 avocado, pitted and diced 
kosher salt

Bring a pot of 4 1/2 cups water with a generous pinch of salt to a boil. Rinse the brown rice, add to the boiling water, cover and simmer until al dente. 

Rinse and drain the kidney beans and place in a small saucepan over low heat with the spices until heated through. Squeeze the juice of half of a lime over the beans to finish. 

Make the pico de gallo by combining the tomatoes, herbs, shallots and chile. Squeeze in the remaining lime juice and season to taste with salt and a pinch of sugar. 

To serve, place a generous scoop of brown rice into a bowl. Top with beans, pico de gallo and avocado. 

Vegan Baking Failure

I knew it was a disaster long before Rich began making Jabba the Hut noises as the frosting fell languorously on itself like a melting snowman. But his blubbering sealed the deal. So sad. At least the frosting tasted good, which is more than I can say for the cake.

"Don't worry, hon! It's light as a feather," Rich said. "A feather wrapped in a brick."

I am coming to the conclusion that I am not a baker. Last night I tried to make a vegan white cake with vegan frosting. My purpose was twofold. First, Rich--the man behind many of the wonderful photographs on this blog--just signed an agreement to be an exclusive photographer with iStock photo. (See his portfolio here) We celebrated with a bottle of champagne and...  well, cake.

Second, I'm hosting a baby shower in one month. I'm going all in. They're having a girl, so I'm giving full vent to an obsession with pink. The invitations are in pink envelopes, with handmade pink paper, an excessive, pink, script font, even tulle. I'm planning to hang paper lanterns and make those tissue-paper poufs to hang from the ceiling of my conservatory. The menu will feature a mini garden patch display of vegetables, crackers with cherry-jalepeno preserves and cream cheese, pink lemonade and a seven-layer pink ombre cake. I know, I'm getting a little carried away.

I got to thinking, perhaps I could get away with serving a vegan, gluten-free cake at the shower without anyone noticing. That should have been my warning right there. I imagined my smug satisfaction. A gorgeous cake. Secretly vegan. With varying shades of raspberry-hued frosting. A stunning victory.

For all of these to take place, I knew I needed practice. I've never baked a vegan cake before. Sure, I make a great vegan apple-cinnamon swirl bread, from the cookbook Babycakes, but it's not the same as white cake.

I made the cake with coconut oil, a gluten-free flour blend, apple sauce, agave and plenty of leavening. I had hoped to create an ombre effect in the actual layers of the cake, but without the use of artificial colors, that was challenging. Pomegranate juice creates more of a grayish hue than pink when baked. As for the frosting, I used icing sugar, coconut oil, almond milk, a pinch of salt and raspberry puree to color it.

I've never thought so highly of dough conditioners as I do now. All of the franken-science and engineering and marketing that goes into boxed cake mixes make them fluffy and light and everything wonderful you expect in a cake. Oh yeah, and I'm sure eggs don't hurt either.

Most of the cake ended up in the bin. So also did my ambition to pass off a vegan cake at the baby shower. Furthermore, Brad just walked into the living room and said, "I thought you were going to save me a piece of cake, but I didn't see any on the counter, so I tasted it out of the garbage." Nice. I'm sure I'll try again sometime, but for now, I'm going to run right out to the store and pick up some BHT-laced cake mix and red-dye-#3-colored frosting. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eggplant Involtini

"We are really lacking in hero movies," Rich said as he came into the kitchen tonight. "We just watched Charlie Wilson's War, otherwise I think I could I could really live vicariously through Phillip Seymore Hoffman right now," he added.

After a particularly challenging day, one in which we both wanted to jump into a boxing ring just take the evening off, dinner was the last thing on my mind.

I sat down at my computer at 8:00 with a glass of wine and still only vague plans for dinner. My aunt messaged me asking if I had any recipes for cabbage rolls. Suddenly it hit me: eggplant involtini. I messaged her back. Pinenuts. Feta. Mint. Raisins. Garlic. Wrap it up in whatever you like.

Within minutes, I had whisked all of the ingredients out of the fridge, fried up the eggplant, mixed together the filling, and tossed it into the oven. Vegetarian comfort food never came together so fast. If only life worked out that way.

serves two-four
adapted from Nigella Lawson's Eggplant Involtini recipe

2-4 eggplants, sliced lengthwise

8 ounces feta cheese
1/4 cup mint, roughly chopped
1/4 cup pinenuts
1/4 cup currants or raisins, soaked in hot water then drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 slice Udi's gluten-free bread, toasted and roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup tomato passata

1 cup olive oil

Parmesan cheese, grated

Fry the eggplant slices in olive oil until soft. Remove to a plate to cool.

Whisk together the feta, mint, pinenuts, currants, garlic and bread crumbs. Season to taste.

Wrap the filling in the eggplant slices and nestle down into a baking dish. Top with tomato passata and freshly grated Parmesan.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gluten Free Romesco with Poached Egg over Grilled Vegetables

I enjoyed my very first romesco sauce over grilled asparagus at the Portland, Oregon restaurant Beaker and Flask (photo above from the actual dinner). The smoky sweetness of roasted pepper, balanced by red wine vinegar and complex Oregon hazelnuts lured me into a food dream state. Everything around me stopped. The din of conversation became a muffled blur.

Or maybe it was just the sangria.   

The poached eggs make this enough for a light lunch or hearty appetizer. For my vegan friends, toast two additional tablespoons of hazelnuts, roughly chop and garnish the dish with them.  

Serves 4
1 red bell pepper, halved and cored
6 fresh, ripe tomatoes, halved
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons hazelnuts
1/8 teaspoon red chili flake
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon corn tortilla, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Sea salt
Freshly ground smoked black peppercorns

1 pound seasonal vegetables
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

4 very fresh eggs

Preheat your broiler. Place the tomatoes and pepper cut-side down on a broiler pan and brush with olive oil. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until the tops are charred. Remove the pepper to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts for a few minutes until lightly fragrant. Place in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.

Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and cook the shallots, garlic, red chili flake and corn tortilla pieces until fragrant. Scrape this mixture into a food processor with the nuts.

When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, slip each out of its skin. Remove the blackened skin of the pepper as well, roughly chop it and add it and the tomatoes to the food processor.

Season the mixture with smoked paprika, red wine vinegar, a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper, smoked if you can get it.  Pulse until the mixture is combined. Give it a quick taste and adjust the seasonings. You can cover and refrigerate at this point and reheat when ready to serve.

Trim and season the vegetables with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Using a backyard grill or hot grill pan brushed with oil, cook the vegetables until fork tender.

Poach the eggs in about 3 inches of lightly-simmering water with one tablespoon of vinegar added to help keep the whites intact. If you're new to poaching eggs, it may take a bit of practice. See this how to poach an egg recipe from Smitten Kitchen for more instruction.   

When you’re ready to serve, divide the vegetables between four plates. Top with romesco and one poached egg, or toasted hazelnuts. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chocolate Cream Pie

Confession: sometimes when I’m watching a movie or television show I become obsessed with making and eating whatever I see on the screen. It’s like food porn.

Yesterday I was home sick with a cold and it was raining, so I turned on Julie & Julia and cuddled up on the couch with Brad. He ended up getting bored--no surprise--but not before I saw the chocolate cream pie Julie makes the night she decides to start a food blog.

The weather improved in the late afternoon enough to walk to the market with both kids and pick up some Green & Black's 85% cacao chocolate, shortbread cookies and heavy cream. Brad jumped in puddles and collected sticks along the way. After a quick stop at the park, I came home and whipped up what has to be my newest, new favorite dessert: chocolate cream pie.

Gluten-free Crust
16 ounces gluten-free shortbread cookies
2 tablespoons butter or vegan buttery spread
Sea salt
Light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Whiz the shortbread cookies in a food processor until they resemble coarse sand. Drizzle in the butter or spread and pulse again. Give the mixture a taste and then add sea salt and or brown sugar to taste. I prefer a minimally-sweetened crust with texture and a hint of the sea salt to offset the creamy sweetness of the chocolate filling. Press into a pie dish or spring form pan and bake for about 10 minutes.

Chocolate Filling
1 cup granulated white sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
3-4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 cups milk
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla

In a medium sauce pan, sift together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually whisk in the milk and egg yolks, until everything is well blended. In a separate Turn the heat on to medium and whisk constantly. As it heats up, scrape in the melted chocolate. It will not blend completely until near the end of the cooking process.
Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and mixture begins to thicken. It should easily coat the back of a spoon but still be pourable. Be careful not to overcook or the whole thing will split.

Or Vegan Chocolate Filling

1 block silken tofu
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons strong coffee
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons vegan buttery spread
11 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt the buttery spread and chocolate chips in a double-boiler, stirring until blended.

In a blender, cream the tofu, vanilla, coffee, and brown sugar until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and blend well.

Pour either the chocolate custard or vegan filling into the crust. Chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours before serving. 

Gluten Free Shortbread

Hello, my name is Pamela, and I love butter. I know I should not admit this on a vegetarian blog with vegan leanings. But it's true. It's even more true since I moved to Europe last fall.

If you do not share my affinity--or you do but you choose not to eat it for whatever reason--try Earth Balance Natural Spread's soy-free variety. Normally shortbread does not contain egg, but I find it helps hold the cookies together when using gluten-free flour. If you wish to make vegan shortbread, use the spread listed above and replace the egg with 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water.  

But shortbread is really all about the butter.

yields one dozen

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup fine granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium egg
1 1/3 cup gluten-free flour blend (white rice, potato and tapioca works well)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

3 ounces good quality dark chocolate, melted and tempered (How to temper chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add the vanilla and egg and whisk again. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Turn out onto parchment paper and roll to about 1/4-1/2" thick. Cut out into whatever shapes you like.

Bake on an unlined baking sheet for about 10 minutes, or until almost beginning to brown at the edges. Remove to a cooling rack. When cool, drizzle with melted chocolate or enjoy plain.

Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rustic Mushroom Soup with Dumplings

This is the official launch of Pamela's Modern Family Table, a blog devoted to gluten-free, vegetarian cuisine. Welcome all two of my followers! 

In anticipation of this new venture, I wrote a little poem, borrowing irreverently from the nursery rhyme: Jack Sprat could eat no fat; his wife could eat no lean. And so between them both they licked the platter clean. So it goes. As Rich eats no meat and I eat no wheat, I thought I was rather clever reappropriating it. 

He said I should never let my poem see the light of day.  And that's why you and I can both be grateful for my husband. You'll never have to hear my horrid poetry. Fortunately, he is more encouraging about my cooking. 

I love vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, but the problem I find with almost all of them is that they rely quite heavily on wheat. No wonder T. Colin Campbell of the acclaimed China Study says he felt awful upon commencing a vegan diet, all the wheat! More on why I don't like the grain in future posts.  

To kick off the new project, try my rendition of the River Cottage Veg Everyday Mushroom Stoup. You can make the soup and dumplings ahead of time and refrigerate both--separately of course--until about half an hour before you’re ready to serve. Just heat the soup to a simmer and proceed as usual.

serves 2-4

1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter, or Earth Balance Natural Spread
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 sprig rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Dumplings
1 sprig thyme, leaves only
1 stalk sage, leaves only, minced
2/3 cup cold butter, diced, or Earth Balance Natural Spread 
2 cups gluten-free, self-rising flour (or thoroughly sift together 2 cups gluten-free flour, ½ teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons baking powder)
1/3-1/2 cup cold water
Pour very hot water over the dried porcinis until they’re just covered. Set aside.

Melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat in a large stock pot. Add the onions and a pinch of sea salt. Sweat for 10 to 15 minutes until translucent. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another 5 minutes.
Turn up the heat and add the fresh mushrooms and brown for about 2 minutes.

Remove the soaked porcinis to a strainer. Pour the soaking liquid through a coffee filter, reserving it. Give the mushrooms a quick rinse in warm water to remove any residual dirt. You don’t want any sand in your soup! Add the porcinis, garlic, the soaking liquid, herbs and the vegetable broth to the soup. Simmer over medium low heat for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, whiz together the herbs, butter and flour in a food processor until rough and crumbly. Remove the blade and sprinkle in enough cold water just to bind. Gently form the dough into about 16 small balls, being careful not to press too tightly. They will expand when cooked.

Place all of the dumplings in the soup, cover with a lid and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until fluffy and cooked through. Ladle dumplings into soup bowls and cover with remaining liquid. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


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