Saturday, July 10, 2010
This spring my husband and I decided to plant about 6 vegetables with no expectations of them growing and producing. We picked up a large planter box and planted 1 banana pepper, 1 eggplant, 3 red pepper plants and one zucchini. When I lived in Hayward, zucchini was a big deal. In fact the Zucchini Festival is an annual event in Hayward, CA and I remember going as a kid and watching people filled with pride holding up their gigantic zucchinis as they hoisted them over the heads like the heisman trophy. Zucchini grew very well in Hayward and I loved picking it.
My husband is in charge of the planting, watering and tending to the vegetables and I am in charge of flowers and herbs. He did a great job because when our zucchini started to grow, it grew by leaps and bounds almost crowding the other plants. I'd go back in our yard and visit the plant, touch the leaves and smell my hands. The smell took me right back to zucchini picking in Hayward.
We have had an intense heat wave the past week in the tri-state and the squirrels in our backyard are quite thirsty. They pick off our neighbor's green tomatoes and bite into them eating about half just to get some water. And they are quite civilized these squirrels... they actually carry the tomatoes to our patio table and eat them there leaving the skin and the half eaten tomato for us to clean up. Not only are they eating the tomatoes but they chewed almost all the way through the roots of our zucchini plant. Thank you squirrels. I began to cut off the leaves to clean up the mess and was happy to find 3 decent zucchinis. I guess you know where I am going with this. Yes, it was zucchini for dinner.
Summer-Thyme Lemon Roasted Zucchinis &Tomatoes
3 zucchinis sliced diagonally
4 vine ripened tomatoes quartered
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large handful of fresh thyme sprigs
zest of one lemon
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2) Line 2 cookie sheets with foil
3) Toss sliced zucchini with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, lemon zest, and 1/2 handful of fresh thyme sprigs and scatter on cookie sheet
4) Toss quartered tomatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and 1/2 handful of fresh thyme sprigs and scatter on cookie sheet
5) Roast in oven for about 20-30 minutes (depending on oven)
6) Serve over rice for a delicious & light vegetarian, gluten-free meal
Friday, May 14, 2010
A favorite quote of mine is "You pass on more to your children and your grandchildren than your eye color." I think this is true in many aspects and if you are lucky, not only will you get their love, attention and character traits, you will learn the stories of their life and get handed their best recipes. My Great Grandmother Celeste made the best strawberry thumbprint cookies and they are my mother's favorite.
Growing up in California, we were fortunate to have weather that yielded a plentiful fruit, vegetable, and flower garden year-round. Out in my Great Grandmother Celeste's garden grew the most wonderful produce. It was a garden hip before it's time - local and organic. In this small plot of land she had persimmons, oranges, lemons, apples, kumquats, strawberries, figs, apricots, cherries, plums, zucchinis, green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, swiss chard, potatoes, green beans, fava beans, tomatoes and kale.
Preparing a meal was fun and educational. Grandpa would take my hand and lead me to the garden to pick the best zucchini for dinner. My Grandma steamed it with herbs and a touch of butter and it was delicious! Grandpa carried a small pocket knife and when in the garden, he would pick a fruit or vegetable, cut it open and tell me to "try it." I vividly remember disliking persimmons however he did open my eyes and taste buds to many different fruits and vegetables. I'll never forget my first bite into a fresh, juicy, California plum or the delight of picking our adorable little strawberries.
My grandparents lived next door to my great grandmother up on a hill in Northern California. On a clear night, I could sit with my friends on the deck with a Hansen lemon-lime soda in hand, gaze at the sherbert colored sunset and almost see the Golden Gate Bridge. During the summer, I had a blast with my Grandma & Great Grandma Celeste watching soap operas. I would watch The Young and the Restless with my Grandma and then run as fast as I could to my Great Grandmas to make it in time for The Bold the Beautiful and As the World Turns. (Ahh... those CBS Daytime summers!)
My Grandparents and Great Grandma Celeste had beautiful flower gardens. Just past the gate to my Great Grandmother's house climbed beautiful pink trumpet flowers and in her garden lived large vibrant roses. In the back of Great Grandma's flower garden was a brick grill area for family barbecues and a covered patio with glass walls. On the patio was an old swing that I loved. Lying on that swing, reading my mom's Nancy Drew novels and feeling the sunlight on my face was a perfect way to spend the afternoon. If I close my eyes and think back I can still smell the air, hear the crunch of the tarp-like fabric on the swing and feel that warm California sunlight. Sometimes my Great Grandma would come out and swing with me. And if I was lucky she would bring fresh, homemade orange juice and cookies.
This past Christmas, I surprised my mom. I called my Grandma and asked her for my mom's favorite recipes and one of them was my Great Grandma Celeste's infamous thumbprint cookies. I baked the cookies exactly as the recipe called for using regular all purpose flour so they would be exactly how she remembered them. My mother was so happy to have these cookies again, since Great Grandma Celeste stopped making them in the late 1980s and had passed away in 1998. We shared stories about her as everyone enjoyed them. I couldn't have them, but the joy these cookies brought my mom and sister brought the biggest smile to my face. I knew I would make them gluten-free for myself at some point. And I did. This one wasn't easy. I've been working on this one for some time. After a few tries I think I got it.
One of the best parts about my Great Grandma Celeste's thumbprint cookie recipe is they are easy and inexpensive to make. I didn't want to change too much especially the "easy" part so I experimented with several gluten-free flour blends. Each all purpose gluten-free flour delivered very different results and I found Bobs Red Mill All Purpose Flour the best for this recipe. I have been doing some experimenting with coconut oil lately so I decided to try that. If you do not have coconut oil on had, you can use margarine or butter however your measurement needs to be 1 cup vs. 2/3 cup of coconut oil.
Great Grandma made these with fresh homemade jam from fruit in her garden. Normally she made them with walnuts and strawberry jam and if my mom requested it, they were rolled in coconut. She also made them with her apricot jam. I made a coconut rolled thumbprint with a meyer lemon curd center which was delicious. Or you can make blackberry vanilla jam which is lovely as well. These cookies can be anything you want. Make them your own creation with your favorite chopped nuts or jam.
I hope you enjoy these as much as our family has for the past 75 years and that you continue the tradition of passing this recipe on to your gluten-free family and friends.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
When I think of Valentine's Day, I think of having a "date night." Perhaps it is a dinner at a really great restaurant followed by an amazing dessert I probably wouldn't have normally or a quiet dinner at home cooking with my husband. I figure if you are going to indulge, why not just once on Valentine's Day? This is an indulgent dessert. Not low fat. Not low sugar. It is pure decadence. If you choose to indulge, I have the perfect dessert for you and I call it the Valentine's Day Date Cake otherwise known as Sticky Toffee Pudding.
A few years back I was sent abroad for a business meeting and training with a retailer in London. This was my first time in Europe and I couldn't be more excited. My boss said if there was one thing I must do in London, it was to have sticky toffee pudding. This sounded a little gross at first. Who would want pudding that had sticky toffee in it? Little did I know that in England "pudding" means "cake." I visited Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge and had lunch on the rooftop. Following the most amazing crayfish salad, the waiter brought me the sticky toffee pudding. I remember sitting with our other employee and being completely speechless after I took a bite. It was almost as if all went quiet and I could hear the heavens open up and sing "you have arrived to dessert heaven." Upon returning home, I found Whole Foods had it however it did not compare to that delectable dessert in London. I hadn't had this dessert in over 2 1/2 years because of my gluten intolerance.
On a recent trip to visit a friend in New York I just happened to be in Martha Stewart's neck of the woods. Rumor has it she shops at a particular food market and of course I just had to go in. On the counter sat the most beautiful dates and I remembered I did find a recipe in December's Everyday Food by Martha Stewart that could be used to set the framework for the recipe. So I snatched up those dates and as soon as I was home I began baking. It turned out perfect the first time and even better the second time I made it. I must give credit to the Grand Duchess of everything domestic: Martha Stewart for the original recipe. I've adapted this recipe to be gluten-free and made a couple of tweaks along the way and I think you will love it!
This dessert is sweet and is perfect for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day. You can even bake it in a heart shaped cake pan like I did or bake it in a regular 9X9 square pan. Also, you can use pre-chopped dates that are packaged however I highly recommend you go with fresh dates as they are not as dry and will make your cake more moist.
Behold literally the best dessert you may ever have...
Valentine's Day "Date" Cake
(aka Sticky Toffee Pudding)
Monday, January 18, 2010
Simple & Healthy Gluten-Free Veggie Pasta
1 pkg brown rice spaghetti or linguini (I prefer Tinkyada & Trader Joes)
1-2 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic - minced
12oz frozen artichokes (usually they are halves and quartered and in 12oz pkgs)
2 tsp sweet basil - fresh or dry
fresh cracked pepper
2 zucchini sliced and quartered (optional and recommended)
about 15 cherry tomatoes (crushed by hand) or canned diced tomatoes
1/3 cup dry white wine
1) In a large pot, bring water and a tsp of salt to boil. Once boiling add pasta and cook until al dente reserving about 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water.
2) In a large deep pan over medium heat, add olive oil, garlic and frozen artichokes. Add basil, fresh cracked pepper and stir until artichokes are about 1/2 thawed.
3) To the pan add zucchini, stir to combine and cover. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes (zucchini should be about 1/2 way cooked at this point).
4) Crush tomatoes into pan and stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes.
5) Don't worry if you see that some of the ingredients are starting brown on the bottom of the pan, the next step is magic and fixes it. Add the dry white wine and scrape bits off the bottom of the pan. The deglazing effect also makes clean up of the pan so much easier. Continue to cook at medium heat to cook off the alcohol in the wine (about 2-3 minutes)
6) Add in the 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and stir. This is going to thicken the sauce slightly.
7) Add drained pasta to skillet and toss with sauce and vegetables. Add a squeeze of lemon and serve. If you can tolerate dairy, add freshly grated parmesan reggiano on top.
Serves about 4
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I'll never forget my first attempt at cooking for my husband. We were in our early twenties and had been dating for about 3 months. We were watching a movie at my apartment and the clock ticked dinnertime and I seriously was not prepared to cook. I suggested we have some linguine with white clam sauce. His eyes lit up and he said "that sounds perfect." I run into the kitchen and put the linguine in the pot to boil. Next thing I know he walks in on me opening the can to the "white clam sauce." My husband is New York Italian and knows good Italian food. This is a guy who never had Ragu or Prego and I was serving him white clam sauce from a can. I thought he was going to collapse out of shock. He couldn't think I would make it fresh? Would I really have fresh clams in the fridge ready to go? The look of fear on his face as I brought the linguine over to the table told me I needed to really learn to cook. So I started to learn with the help of Food Network, cookbooks, many calls to my mom mid-recipe, experimentation, and intuition.
Friday, December 11, 2009
A couple of months ago a good friend asked me what my idea of happiness was. For some reason I pictured Snow White baking pies and singing and dancing with all of her little critter friends in the forest. Perhaps that is what happens when you "grow up Disney?" Hmmm… I think that would make me happy... but wait I can’t have gluten so that means NO GLUTEN which means NO PIES & NO BAKING & NO SINGING IN THE FOREST WITH CRITTERS! Luckily I have learned that is not necessarily true thanks to innovative gluten-free bloggers, chefs, and food companies out there which make our lives a little easier which is why I started this little blog- Gluten Free Crumpette. It’s my attempt to help people out there just like me live happily ever after in our own little gluten- free world.
Now, onto the food - that is really why you are here right?