February 21, 2012

Moroccan-Style Shepherd's Pie (Vegeterian Option)

I fell in love with sweet potatoes about 10 years ago, before they were really big in mainstream cuisine (at least where I lived). I tried to shove them into so many recipes. This recipe is inspired by both my love for sweet potatoes and a recipe in Cuisine at Home Magazine for a Moroccan-style chicken dish that is full of warm spices, briny olives and a hint of lemon. I grew up eating hearty shepherds pie, usually made with elk or venison (beef was expensive and hard to come by in rural Montana). I wanted to make a shepherds pie with sweet potatoes and I thought the Moroccan flavors would lend themselves to the potatoes sweetness. I served it with a big dollop of plain yogurt and fresh lemon wedges. Big hit in my house! Even my 4 and 5 year olds gobbled up seconds of this one.

Yield: About 6-8 servings, depending on how hungry you are

  • 3 - 4 medium sweet potatoes (actually, I used garnet yams), peeled and diced in 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 portabella mushroom caps (or equivalent), diced in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium onion, finely diced (or use 1/2 lb ground beef or lamb)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 3 (or 10) cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 can (1 1/2 cups) garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 cups mushroom broth (or beef broth if using meat)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp paprika (smoked or sweet, whatever you prefer)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp each fresh cilantro and parsley
  • lemon wedges
  • plain yogurt to serve
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover sweet potatoes in cool water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender. Drain and add 1 tsp salt. Mash to desired consistency. Note: You can add more sweet potatoes or leave some out, depending on how thick you like the topping.

In a large saute pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat till it shimmers. Saute mushrooms onion, carrot, celery and garlic till soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute more. Add lemon juice, broth, paprika, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer till liquid is reduced to about half. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp each cilantro and parsley. Transfer mixture to 8x8 square casserole dish. Spread mashed sweet potatoes on top. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the edges are bubbly. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with yogurt and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and parsley. Enjoy!

More to come with Love!

February 9, 2012

Corn Dogs

Corn dogs became a birthday tradition for my girls a few years ago, when I discovered that I could, in fact, make them gluten-free! We had a big birthday party for my oldest daughter's 3rd birthday and I wanted to make something that would be fun for the kids to eat as well as the adults. Since we are the only gluten-free family that was at the party, I wanted to make them taste good enough that no one would know the difference, other than that they were homemade. I started with my regular cornbread batter, dipped the skewered, uncured hot dogs in the batter and fried them. Its really easy and who makes corn dogs at home? Everyone was impressed and no one knew they were gluten-free. We only have them two times per year, on each of my daughters' birthdays. Without fail, each time I ask the girls what they want to eat on their special day, they enthusiastically reply, "Corn dogs!!". I hope your family enjoys the recipe as much as ours does.

Yield: 8 - 12 corn dogs

  • 1 to 2 packages gluten-free hot dogs. I use uncured hot dogs because we don't like nitrates or nitrites. I have even used uncured cocktail smokies for cute little corn dogs.
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup honey or sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil (your choice) or melted butter
  • 1 cup milk or water
  • rice flour for dusting hot dogs
  • oil for frying -  you can use any high-heat oil, just remember to use one without a strong flavor
  • 8 - 12 wooden corn dog sticks - available at most supermarkets (you can also use bamboo kabob skewers, cut in half)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a cookie sheet with a wire rack on top of it in the oven. Heat oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit on the stove top in a heavy bottomed pot. You want to fry the corn-dogs at about 350 degrees, but the temperature will drop as soon as you put the first batch in, so its good to start a little higher.

Insert wooden sticks at least two-thirds of the way into hot dogs. Set aside.

Put gluten-free flour mix, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Add egg, honey or sugar, oil or butter, and milk and mix until there are no lumps. Transfer batter to a tall container to make dipping the hot dogs easier. I used a quart yogurt container.

Put rice flour in a rectangular baking dish big enough to fit the skewered hot dogs end to end. Coat each skewered hot dog in rice flour. This helps the batter stick to the hot dogs. Dip each hot dog into cornbread batter and swirl to make sure the whole thing is covered in a layer of batter. Fry in batches for about 3 minutes or until golden brown, making sure the oil temperature remains at around 350 degrees. If the temperature goes below 350, wait for it to heat back up before frying another batch. Transfer finished corn dogs to the rack in the oven. Serve with your favorite condiments and enjoy!
Note: These freeze really well. Just put them in a bag in the freezer and when you want to reheat them, pop them into a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

More to come with Love!

February 4, 2012

English Muffins

Mmmm. . . English muffins. Wrapped around eggs and cheese or simply toasted with butter and jam, light and airy English muffins are a craveable snack. As with just about anything, homemade, made from scratch English muffins are tastier and more nutritious than store-bought. These gluten-free English muffins will satisfy all your cravings, from eggs benedict to breakfast sandwiches. They do require a little specialized equipment in the form of English muffin rings. You can either buy rings at a specialty kitchen store or on Amazon.com (they run about $5 for 4 rings and you need a dozen for this recipe), or you can improvise with sheets of aluminum foil folded into 1" strips and stapled into a circle, which is what I did.

Yield: 12 - 3" English muffins

  • 1/2 cup rice flour (try substituting my Multigrain Mix here)
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 tsp potato flour (not potato starch)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp almond meal
  • 2 Tbsp honey or sugar, divided
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp (one packet) active dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or whatever oil you like, I have used flax oil too)
  • about 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • olive oil spray
  • 12 English muffin rings, or equivalent
  • 12 - 3 1/2" squares of waxed paper or tin foil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place a cookie sheet inside the heating oven. Space waxed paper squares (they need to be individual squares so you can pick them up individually to pan-fry them) on a 12x18 half-sheet baking pan. Arrange English muffin rings on squares, sprinkle about 1 tsp cornmeal inside each ring and spray insides with oil spray.

Combine warm water, 1 tsp honey or sugar and yeast in a glass measuring cup and set aside to bloom.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine rice flour, tapioca starch, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, potato flour, salt and almond meal. With mixer on low speed, add egg, vinegar, remaining honey or sugar and oil and mix on low for 1 minute until well combined. Add yeast mixture and continue mixing on low for 30 seconds. Increase mixer speed to high and mix for 3 minutes, until dough (more like a batter) is smooth and free of any lumps.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into each ring. I use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop to portion but you can eyeball it too. Spray the tops of the muffins with oil spray and use a sheet of plastic wrap or a spatula to smooth out the tops. Note: You will notice that in many of my recipes, especially bread recipes, that I use plastic wrap to cover the dough for rising or to smooth out the tops for a uniform look. I don't like to waste anything so I simply fold up the plastic wrap after I am done with it and put it in the freezer to use again and again. I have been using the same pieces of plastic wrap for several months. Set the muffins in warm place to rise for about 20 to 30 minutes. You don't want them to rise too high because they will continue to rise when you fry them.

When the muffins are just about done rising, preheat a frying pan over medium heat. If you aren't using seasoned cast iron or a non-stick pan, spray the pan with olive oil. Working quickly and carefully, pick up a waxed paper square with the risen muffin dough and flip over onto the heated pan. Carefully remove the paper and repeat with as many as will comfortably fit in your pan. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until bottom is golden brown, and flip over and cook 1 minute longer and remove rings. Transfer to cookie sheet in oven and repeat with remaining muffins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy!

More to come with Love