Friday, January 23, 2009

Product Reviews: So Delicous

Before my stomach decided to rebel against my taste buds, I loved everything by Turtle Mountain.  My favorites were the mint chocolate soy ice cream, the cookie dough ice cream, and the fudge pops.  MMMM.   They've now introduced new coconut milk products, some of which are soy free and gluten free, and, as always, are vegan.

This is good stuff.  It's not as thick as soy yogurt or real yogurt, but I don't care.  It also has very little protein compared to soy and real yogurt, so view it as more of a sugary snack, and maybe serve with a rice cake and some nuts.  I've had the Passionate Mango, Raspberry, Vanilla and Strawberry Banana.  Whole Paycheck carries them, as does Madison.  Hopefully PCC will jump on the bandwagon soon.
Just so you know, every once in a while (like 1 in 4 containers), it seems like something in the yogurt isn't stirred correctly and it's a bit grainy.  It's still good, but not as good as the ungrainy kind.  Also, it is expensive!

I've tried the mint chip (on accident, it does contain soy) and the chocolate (Which does not contain soy).  Both were excellent.  For those on the soy free diet, try the chocolate or vanilla (in my freezer to try next).  These pints were a bit less pricey than Luna and Larry's and also had less of a pronounced coconut flavor (but you still know it's coconut).


GF Beef Stew

I'd like to apologize up front to my vegan readers (all two of you).  I love to eat meat, like big juicy steaks and lamb chops.  I am not strong enough to be vegan, and I admire you for your self control.  I do buy organic meat, when possible, but it's still meat.  So, you may occasionally find dairy free, egg free recipes that have meat on here.  Either sub in your favorite meat substitute, or skip the post.

This was one of the first allergen free recipes that I made, almost a month ago.  It seems more like years ago.  I never seem to be able to follow a recipe exactly, so it does differ from the original, mostly in vegetable substitutions.  This stew goes perfect with injera (as seen in the photo) and is perfect for these cold & rainy Seattle nights.  It also happens to freeze well.  I made up a huge pot, (the recipe said 6 servings but it was more like a million) and froze more than half.  I still have one container left, for one of those nights when I'm running behind.

Recipe (original here)

1 pound beef stew meat
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp sea salt -
or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tb saturated fat, like lard, palm oil, coconut oil. - 
You could also sub in an oil like canola, but it won't have quite the same flavor.  You could also skip the first step, mix the rice flour with 2/3 cup of water and add to the stew before it boils.  Eliminate the fat if you do that and add in the salt and pepper with the beef
1 large onion, sliced
1 tsp bay leaves
1/2 tsp allspice
chopped carrots
chopped celery
frozen corn - eliminate if you can't have corn.
8 -10 small new potatoes or fingerlings, quartered -
or use whatever you have on hand.  I did
6 cups hot water

Cut the stew meat into 1 inch cubes and remove the excess fat. Add it to a mixing bowl that contains the brown rice flour, salt and pepper. Stir and make sure that all the meat is covered by the flour mixture. Put the coconut oil in a stew pot (the largest one you have) and melt. Once the oil is melted and hot, add the meat to the pan and brown on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. 
Add the 6 cups of hot water to the Dutch oven (step back as you do this as the water will splatter). Stir the water and browned flour mixture. The flour mixture will have stuck to the bottom of the pan, but after about 10 minutes all of it will have come loose and will blend with the water. Add the bay leaves and allspice. Then add the beef and vegetables. Cook for 30 minutes. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the vegetables are tender. Serve over Injera, or with a slice of GF bread to sop up the gravy.


Injera is an Ethiopian pancake served with Ethiopian stew called wat.  Injera in the US is often a mix of wheat flour and teff flour.  It doesn't have to be that way though.  Teff flour is made from the seed of the teff plant, which grows in; you guessed it; Ethiopia.  Injera taste nothing like wheat pancakes, but they do have that bread taste to them.  They're also vegan, plus they require three ingredients, teff flour, salt, and water.  How many gluten free, egg free, dairy free,  nut free, soy free products can have that claim?  Not very many.  
The main thing injera requires is time!  A lot of time!  My first trial with injera went very well.  I fermented the batter for 24 hours.  The injera was good, but it didn't spread like I thought it should and it wasn't all that sour.  So, the next time I made it, I planned to let it go the full 72 hours.  After 60 hours, mine had sprouted big spots of blue mold!  I ended up dumping that, and serving my stew with tortilla chips.  This is probably due to the moldy nature of Seattle in general.  Everything molds here faster than it ever did in the desert.  

Teff flour can be found at most natural food markets.  For those of you who live around me, Madison Co-op in Capital Hill carries teff in their bulk section, which is great if you're trying out a new recipe.  PCC only carries it in a bag (they seem pretty limited in their GF flours in bulk).  

Authentic Injera (original recipe found here)



1 1/2 cups ground teff 

2 cups water

sea salt, to taste

vegetable oil, for the skillet (I used palm oil)


1. Mix ground teff with the water and let stand in a bowl covered with a dish towel at room temperature until it bubbles and has turned sour; This may take as long as 3 days, depending on where you live.  Check every 12 hours to make sure it doesn't turn blue. The fermenting mixture should be the consistency of a very thin pancake batter.

This is good batter:
This is not-so-good batter:
Seriously, don't eat it if it looks like that!

2. Stir in the salt, a little at a time, until you can barely detect its taste.

3. Lightly oil an 8 or 9 inch skillet (or a larger one if you like); Heat over medium heat.
4. Pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the skillet; 
(original directions: About 1/4 cup will make a thin pancake covering the surface of an 8 inch skillet if you spread the batter around immediately by turning and rotating the skillet in the air; This is the classic French method for very thin crepes; Injera is not supposed to be paper thin so you should use a bit more batter than you would for crepes, but less than you would for a flapjack pancakes).  This is not how mine worked.  I ended up using closer to 1/2 C per pancake, and had difficulty spreading it as thin as the recipe says.  I ended up with very weird shaped pancakes, that still tasted great (see above picture)

5. Cook briefly, until holes form in the injera and the edges lift from the pan; Do not let it brown, and don't flip it over as it is only supposed to be cooked on one side.  

6. Remove and place onto serving plate (as in the actual plate from which it will be consumed.  Mine stuck to the serving plate, like it was glued, and was very difficult to remove.  Set aside and finish other pancakes.  (I like to heat my plates briefly in our toaster oven before I put any food on them, so the food stays warm longer.

7. Ladle your chosen dishes on top (e.g., a lovely doro wat or alicha). Serve additional injera on the side. Guests can be instructed to eat their meal without utensils, instead using the injera to scoop up their food. (or you can be like us and eat the stew with a spoon, scraping up bites of injera as you go).  
I served mine with beef stew on top

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Allergen Free Flat Bread

This was my first successful attempt at GF baking.  It worked pretty well, if you ask me.  Feel free to jazz up with fresh herbs instead of dried, or gourmet olives instead of black.  The hubby said it was pretty good for GF, and he even asked for extras.

The original recipe comes from The Book of Yum!

Allergen Free Flat Bread

4 tsp sugar
2 cup warm water (I use a thermometer to get mine to 115 F, but you don't need to be quite as anal as me.  Hot tub temperature will work)
2 packets dry yeast
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 tbsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
2 ener-g foods egg replacer eggs
2 tbsp. high quality olive oil
3/4 cup black olives (use 1/2 cup chopped in the dough, the rest for garnishing to taste)
1 tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil 
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp crushed dried thyme (crush between thumb and forefinger)
sea salt

Prepare a jelly roll pan by greasing with olive oil (a jelly roll pan is a cookie sheet with high side).

Combine sugar with water, add yeast. Combine dry ingredients (up to salt) in stand mixer. In a small bowl, combine the "eggs" with the olive oil. Add your proofed yeast water. Mix and then add your dry ingredients to your mixer (or just dump them both into the mixer at the same time), including 1/2 cup of your olives if you haven't added them already. beating on high for two minutes. Pour into the prepared pan, spread it with a spatula, and add any additional fresh herb sprigs, chopped olives, and salt to the top. Baste with a little more olive oil.

Cover and let rise for 40 minutes or so, while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes and tear off pieces to enjoy with high quality olive oil, or on their own.

When I made this recipe today, I made 1.5 times the recipe.  Before I mixed in the olives, I took out a third of the dough and spread it into a greased springform pan.  I baked this for the same amount of time as the recipe states.  This plain flatbread will be a pizza crust in a future post.

Dinner Tonight: Muhjadarrah

Tonight's dinner was inspired by the kitchn

My notes are in italics


serves 6

A few bits of advise: be sure to caramelize the onion very deeply and to use plenty of salt and pepper. These are your only seasonings, so they're very important. Also, be sure to use brown or green lentils, not the orange ones which will just dissolve to a mush.

6 T olive oil - I used half palm oil and half canola oil.  Olive oil is much to expensive to waste frying food.

1 very large onion (or two medium) sliced into rounds 1/4 inch thick - I needed double the onion to get enough for the whole pot

1 1/4 cups green or brown lentils, sorted and rinsed - I only used 1 cup

3/4 cup white or brown long-grain rice - I used one cup brown rice to compensate for being short on the lentils

salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes a rich, dark brown color, about 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, put the lentils into a saucepan with one quart of water. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. Add rice, plenty of pepper and more water, if needed, to cover. Cover and cook over low heat until rice is done, about 15 minutes (reverse these directions if you are using brown rice.  I cooked my lentils for the 45 minutes required to cook brown rice and they were mushy.  Start by cooking the brown rice, and add the lentils after 15 minutes). Stir in half the onions and about 1 teaspoon of salt, then cover and let stand off the heat for 5 minutes. Spoon the lentil-rice mixture on to a platter and cover with the remaining onions.

I serve this with a bowl of cubed feta cheese or good, thick yogurt; some jarred roasted red peppers tossed with sherry vinegar, olive oil and a little garlic; and Trader Joe's middle eastern flat bread, heated in the toaster oven until it puffs. Occasionally I go all out and make a tangy little salad of parsley, capers, shallots, lemon, s & p.  ( I only used salt and pepper - but some of the extras like roasted red peppers would be good).

I served my Muhadarrah with Allergen Free Flat Bread, olive oil for the bread, and roasted brussels sprouts.  My carnivorous hubby didn't even say anything about the lack of meat.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Brussel Sprouts

I was never exposed to brussels sprouts while growing up.  The hubby was, and his experiences were not pleasant.  We both emerged into adulthood with no desire to eat brussels sprouts.  

It wasn't until I moved to Seattle this year that I actually saw fresh brussels sprouts.  I don't think they grew well in Tucson.  Still, I didn't try them until a month ago because I was intimidated by them.  With the bad rap they have, what cook wants to set herself up for failure?

About two months ago, I tried one off a friend's plate at Cafe Flora (fantastic vegan GF food, btw).  That sprout led to some web searching, which led to the following recipe.

This recipe happens to be the best way to cook brussels sprouts.  Actually, it's the only way I know how to cook brussels sprouts.  There is no need to try anything else.  

The original recipe is from my favorite food blog: Cheap Healthy Good.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Serves 6

1 lbs Brussels sprouts

2 tablespoons  olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 400F.

2) Cut off the ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves.  It helps to have the brussels sprouts all around the same size.  If not, slice the largest ones in half.  Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir until sprouts are equally oiled and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp outside and tender inside. Shake the pan from time to time, to brown the Brussels sprouts evenly (I like my outer leaves blackened). Sprinkle with more salt, if desired, and serve.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Jumping up and down!

This is my new discovery:

Shortening, Organic

Size: 24oz

Made with organic palm oil, Spectrum Organic Shortening is a healthy, trans-fat free alternative to traditional shortening for flaky crusts and crispy fries.

100% Organic Expeller Pressed Palm Oil.

It's not really a new discovery, but a re-discovery.  For two years, I used Spectrum shortening in bread and pie crusts.  Then, because I liked the convenience of Earth Balance shortening sticks, I switched.  The problem with Earth Balance products is they all contain soy :(  I gave up hope on being able to use shortening because I thought all shortening had soy (Crisco does as well).  But a soy-free book synopsis on Amazon said Spectrum shortening was soy free and sure enough it is.  This is excellent.  I was afraid I was going to have to render my own lard (which I may do anyways, just for the hell of it).

Dinner Tonight: White Fish with Wild Rice Dressing

Tonight's recipe was inspired by Ocean Perch with Wild Rice Dressing, from The Complete Food Allergy Cookbook.  Since I couldn't find Ocean Perch, I subbed in some kind of Sole that I found at the local co-op.  I also made a few other changes, like using a wild rice mix in place of the wild rice and chicken broth instead of the vegetable broth.

My favorite part about this recipe is you can freeze it for awhile.  Some nights, I come home and I just don't want to cook or I don't have time.  Or, I need my darling hubby to "cook" and I need an assembled meal for him.  This works great!  If your family eats a lot of fish, I recommend making doubling the recipe and making two pans of this.  Eat one right away (should only need 30 minutes to cook) and freeze one for later.  There is almost no extra effort and the benefits are immense!


Mild White Fish (I only used 1/2 lbs of fish, so our recipe only made 3 servings.  The original recipe calls for 10 fillets and is meant to serve 5).
1/2 C Wild Rice mix
2 1/3 Tbsp Oil, divided (I must confess I always eyeball the oil.  It's a waste to use a measuring spoon, I think)
1 medium shallot or onion
1/2 C celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, or to taste
1/2 to 2/3 C broth - chicken, vegetable, or fish
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
3/4 tsp salt (divided)
1/8 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice (if tolerated)

Cook wild rice mix according to package directions.  When done, heat 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet.  Add onion, celery, and garlic and saute 5 minutes or until soft.  Add cooked wild rice, broth, oregano, sage, dill, 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper.

Oil a casserole dish with oil.  add wild rice mixture to the dish.  Place fish fillets on top of mixture.  Brush with remaining oil and lemon juice.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover with aluminum foil.

Here is where I diverged wildly from the recipe:  Cover dish with plastic wrap, or with lid (I highly recommend casserole dishes with lids).  Place in freezer for up to 1 month.

When ready to eat, turn on oven to 350 F.  Remove lid or plastic wrap.  Place dish in oven, while it pre-heats.  Cook for 45-60 minutes, or "until fish flakes easily"  as the recipe states.  

Or, if you want to cook this right away, cook for 30 minutes at 350.