Archive for September, 2010

My hubby, Mark, and I are the featured “Buffalo Foodies” on Buffalo Eats today. Check it out, we’re chatting about our favorite places for yummies here in Buffalo.

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Gluten-Free Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms

There is not much else to say about this dish, than “WOW!” This is a super simple and easy, perfect Autumn weeknight meal. Every year when we are in Seattle, I spend a significant amount of time (and money) at Delaurenti – Specialty Food and Wine, at the Pike Place Market. They have a great selection of artisanal foods, gluten-free products, wines and chocolates (and so so much more). That is the only place I have ever found gluten-free gnocchi. They are imported from an Italian company called rustichella d’abruzzo . So each year, I pick up a bag or two and I usually just serve them with a little fresh marinara and some nice cheese. I came across this recipe on Food & Wine’s website recently and decided to give it a try with the gnocchi I bought this year. I definitely want to find a great recipes for homemade gluten-free gnocchi (if you know of one, please send it my way) and I am sure that would take this dish over the top, but for a weeknight, packaged or frozen artisanal gnocchi is perfect. You could also use a homemade chicken, mushroom or vegetable stock as well, but since I didn’t have any homemade stock on hand, I went with a low-sodium organic free-range chicken stock. Certainly you could also use a store-bought vegetable or mushroom stock to make this recipe vegetarian. And obviously, if you aren’t gluten-free buy a nice store-bought gnocchi (frozen or fresh) or make your favorite gnocchi recipe. I unfortunately didn’t get my hands on any truffle oil to finish this, but that just means I will have to make this again with fresh homemade gluten-free gnocchi and truffle oil. Darn!

Gluten-Free Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms
serves 4
adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, November 2006

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 – 1/2 pounds mixed wild mushrooms, stemmed if necessary and thickly sliced (I had a nice mix of baby bella, shiitake, oyster, porcini and chanterelle)
2 shallots, minced
1/4 cup dry vermouth
3/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth (you can also use vegetable or mushroom broth or stock, to make this vegetarian)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound fresh or frozen prepared gluten-free gnocchi (I love rustichella d’abruzzo brand gluten-free gnocchi)
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)

Preheat the broiler. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil with the butter. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 12 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook until evaporated. Add the stock, cream and thyme, season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the gnocchi until they float to the surface, about 3 minutes. Drain well. Add the gnocchi to the mushrooms and simmer, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan on top.

Broil the gnocchi 6 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Drizzle with truffle oil and serve.

Gluten-Free Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms

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Gluten-free Apple Crisp

NOTE: I posted an updated version of this recipe – here! The new version is still gluten-free but it is also vegan and refined sugar free!

This is my Mom’s recipe, she is an incredible baker. My Dad does most of the cooking and my mom does all of the baking. Every Fall she whips up a pan of this just for me, with the freshly picked apples from the tree in their yard and it is the best. She made a big pan of it for dessert for the big dinner I made last night. This is what Autumn tastes and smells like! This recipe is super simple, I have made it a couple of times myself, though somehow it is never as good as when my mom makes it.

Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

4 cups of peeled and sliced apples (4 med)
2/3 – 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup gluten-free flour (your favorite all-purpose will work perfectly)
1/2 cup certified gluten-free oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Rolled Oats)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup butter softened

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Grease a square 8″ x 8″ pan. Place apples in pan.
Mix remaining ingredients cutting butter in to make crumbly consistency.
Sprinkle over the apples and bake 30 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm topped with fresh whip cream or your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Gluten-free Apple Crisp

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Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes with Honey

This is a lovely Autumn recipe that my good friend April shared with me years ago. It is a staple in our house once the cooler weather hits, perfect with so many meals. It is super easy to throw together and it’s very tasty. The sweetness from the honey, the salt and the tang from the lime all match-up so perfectly, then the distinct flavor from the cilantro finishes it off so nicely. If you are vegan and want to skip the honey, a nice organic brown sugar would be nice, too.

I had my parents over for a delicious Autumn dinner last night and this was the perfect side. Our entire meal was made from either our gardens, the farmers market or Sojourner Farms. We had a baked smoked ham from our pork share at Sojourner, these fantastic sweet potatoes, a green salad and southern-style green beans. My mom even made her delicious gluten-free apple crisp from the apples growing on the tree in their yard. (Recipe to follow).

Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes
serves 4

2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 4-6 potatoes, depending on size)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons honey (You can find great local honey from your farmers market)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime zest
fresh lime juice from one lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F.
Toss sweet potatoes with oil, honey, lime juice and salt in a shallow baking pan. Top with lime zest. Arrange potatoes in 1 layer and roast, stirring halfway through roasting, until tender, about 30 minutes total. (You can taste halfway too to see if you need more of any of the ingredients – sometimes you may need a bit more of something) Remove potatoes from pan to a serving bowl, top with a bit more fresh cilantro, lime juice, lime zest and kosher salt to taste. Toss slightly and serve.

Cilantro Lime Sweet Potatoes with Honey

Here is a photo of the beautiful smoked ham that we baked from Sojourner Farms. Hands down, the tastiest ham I have ever had.
The beautiful baked smoked ham from Sojourner Farms

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Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic and Basil

Considering I had so many tomatoes, I decided that I wanted to make a big pot of tomato soup and I thought that roasting the tomatoes would bring even more flavor to the soup. I had a bowl of this soup for lunch today, it was rustic and had so much flavor. I had a bit of a stuffy head today, so the heat from the soup and the hint of spice from the red pepper flakes really did wonders for me. This is a very simple recipe, with just a few ingredients and it could be served hot or if you like gazpacho, it would also be great cold.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic and Basil
serves 4

3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
6 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon (or more) dried crushed red pepper
6 cups low-salt organic vegetable stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle tomatoes with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Roast until tomatoes are brown and tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Transfer tomatoes and any accumulated juices to processor. Using on/off turns, process until slightly chunky.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, about 1/4 of the fresh basil and dried crushed red pepper. Add vegetable stock; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until soup thickens slightly, about 25 minutes. Stir in the remaining basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

If you want to make it a day or two ahead of time (it keeps very well), remove the soup from heat, save the fresh basil. Rewarm the soup over medium-high heat before continuing. Then stir in the remaining basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

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Eggplant Parmesan (gluten-free)

This is one of my favorite dishes to make once the temperatures allow for the oven to be used again. This delicious and simple dish of battered eggplant, sauce and cheese is an authentic Italian dish that could be great as an appetizer but makes a wonderful main dish. I usually serve it with a side salad and a small side of pasta and if I have it, a slice or two of some crusty bread. This time I used the fresh tomato sauce that I had just made, this was first time I have ever made this dish with fresh homemade sauce as compared to a jarred marinara and OH MY GOSH, that plus the beautiful eggplant I got at the farmers market this weekend, really put this over the top. This dish is officially amazing!

If you would rather fry the eggplant than bake it, just heat your olive oil in a large skillet. Follow the instructions below to dress the eggplant, add to the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes, turning once. Place on a paper towel-lined plate. Salt to taste.

My hubby Mark told me last night after we finished eating, “this is THE best Italian food that I have ever had”. That is quite the compliment.

fresh eggplant for the Eggplant Parmesan

To dress the Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan (Gluten-Free)
serves 4
adapted from The Gluten Free Italian Cookbook, by Mary Capone

1 large purple globed eggplant, thinly sliced
1/3 cup tapioca flour, plus more if needed
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs, plus more if needed
3 eggs, beaten
olive oil for drizzling
3 cups Fresh Chunky Tomato Sauce, or your favorite tomato sauce
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat over to 375°F. Set out a 9 x 9″ baking dish.

Slice eggplant into 1/4″ thick slices. Place slices in a single layer on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Blot moisture and excess salt from the eggplant.

On 2 separate place, add tapioca flour and bread crumbs. Lightly beat 3 eggs in a medium bowl.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Dust eggplant with tapioca, dip in egg, and on pat onto the plate of gluten-free bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on the baking sheets. Drizzle olive oil over the top, and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in the 375°F oven until tender and slightly brown, about 15 minutes.

Ladle 1/4 cup of the sauce into the baking dish. Add eggplant pieces in a single layer. Add another ladle of sauce to the top, and sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and 1/4 of the mozzarella and 1 tablespoon fresh basil. Repeat the process until all the ingredients are used up. Cover the top with the remaining sauce, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and decorate with fresh basil.

Bake in oven covered with a tightly fitted lid of foil for about 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Let set for 5 minutes.

Eggplant Parmesan (gluten-free)

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Fresh Chunky Tomato Sauce

This time of year, as soon as the temperatures start to drop, and the leaves start to fall, I begin thinking about all the things I can make in a large pot. Soups, stews, sauces, etc. – I love it all. Seeing as the tomatoes I planted in my garden this year have been getting eaten by an unknown little critter and I didn’t get nearly the amount of tomatoes I thought I would, I bought an 8-quart crate of plum tomatoes from the farmers market this past weekend. I decided I would make tomato sauce and soup.

Though this seems like a complicated and time-consuming recipe, it really isn’t. It is somehow very therapeutic and calming to peel and squeeze all the tomatoes one at a time and to have a big pot of sauce, made entirely from fresh ingredients. The smell of this sauce simmering is incredible and I really can’t see myself ever buying jarred sauce again.

If you have a food mill you can run your tomatoes through them on a fine setting and it will remove both the seeds and the skin. Then you can skip the first two steps.

Obviously, everyone has their preferences on their tomato sauce, sweet, spicy, chunky, smooth, etc. – this recipe is very versatile so play around.

Fresh Chunky Tomato Sauce
makes about 4 cups sauce

4 quarts plum tomatoes (or any variety of tomato you prefer)
1/4 cup olive oil
Small onion
3 small cloves of garlic
1 stalk of celery
2 bay leaves
red pepper flakes
fresh thyme
fresh oregano
fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
glug of red wine
Slivers of fresh basil, to finish

Bring a pot of water to boil. Cut a small X at the bottom of each tomato. Blanche the tomatoes in the boiling water for approximately 30 seconds, and shock in an ice water bath. Peeling the tomatoes will now be very easy. If any of them give you trouble, toss it back in the boiling water for another 10 seconds until the skin loosens up. Discard the skins.

If using plum tomatoes, halve each lengthwise. If using beefsteak or another round variety, quarter them. Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer over a bowl and reserve the juices. (Discard the seeds.) Either coarsely chop the tomatoes or use a potato masher to do so in your pot, as they cook.

Prepare your vegetables by finely chopping the onion, celery and garlic. Heat your olive oil in a large pot over medium. Cook the onion, celery and garlic until they just start to take on a little color, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fresh thyme, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and bay leaves, bring to a simmer, lowering the heat to medium-low to keep it at a gentle simmer. I also added a glug or two of some red wine that I had open. At this point, if you haven’t chopped your tomatoes yet, use a potato masher to break them up as you cook them. Simmer your sauce, stirring occasionally. Allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, longer if you have it.

If your sauce is thicker than you would like, you can add back the reserved tomato juice as need. If your sauce is too lumpy for your taste, use an immersion blender to break it down to your desired texture. I prefer a chunky, almost marinara type sauce, myself. Season with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt to taste. Scatter fresh basil over the pot before serving. Taste again.

8-quarts of plum tomatoes from the farmers market for Fresh Chunky Tomato Sauce

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