POLENTA MEN WITH KALE PESTO AND TEMPEH TOMATO SAUCE

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I'm finally getting into the holiday spirit. Since I'm really trying to avoid sugar, I'm trying to stay away from making a lot of holiday cookies for gifts because they're just too tempting!   But since those cookie cutters are just sitting there waiting to be used, I decided to go ahead and make a fun main course polenta dish using my gingermen cookie cutters. This is fun to have for the kids! It's gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan, too.

 

HOLIDAY POLENTA MEN WITH KALE PESTO AND TEMPEH TOMATO SAUCE

Soaking the cornmeal will shorten the cooking time. Don't be afraid to season the polenta with fresh or dried herbs. Instead of the ginger men cookie cutters, use other holiday cookie cutters. I also tried a few stars and candy canes that came out beautifully.

When using the kale pesto to decorate, I found it easier to control it by putting a little pesto on a knife and then adding it to the polenta. First I tried putting it in a pastry bag to decorate, but the kale was clumpy and the oil just separated from the kale and made a mess.

Serve on a bed of tempeh tomato sauce.

 

Serves 6

 

Ingredients 

1 cup organic nonGMO stone ground cornmeal

4 cups water

2 teaspoons sea salt 

Leaves from 1 sprig thyme

1 clove minced garlic

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing on polenta

Sea salt and pepper

 

Soak the cornmeal in the water for an hour.

Bring to a boil. Add salt.

With a whisk, slowly drizzle in the cornmeal. Continue whisking for about 3 minutes so the cornmeal doesn't clump. Add the salt, thyme and garlic.  Partially cover the pot, and let the polenta simmer. After 10 minutes, remove the lid and stir with a wooden spoon.  Repeat until the polenta is cooked, about 20 minutes.

When the polenta is finished cooking, drizzle in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour polenta on to a  sheet tray. It should be at least ½ inch high. Smooth the top. Cool until firm in the refrigerator, at least 30 minutes.

Using a ginger man cookie cooker, cut out little men. Save the scraps for another meal.

Brush the top with olive oil. Arrange polenta, oiled side down, on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of polenta with oil. Broil until heated through and lightly browned. Alternatively, you can grill them on a stove top grill pan. 

When they're cooled, add the kale pesto buttons with a knife or spoon. You can also try eyes, mittens or any other decorations.

Serve on the tempeh tomato sauce. 

 

KALE PESTO

I like kale pesto because it has a strong flavor. Since the polenta and the tempeh tomato sauce are a bit mild, the pesto gives the dish a surprising burst of flavor. Save the extra pesto for pasta, rice or as a spread on a sandwich. It's also delicious on a baked potato.

 

Ingredients      

1 bunch kale, (about 2 cups)

Sea salt 

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

¼ cup roasted walnuts or pine nuts

1 tablespoon white miso (for a vegan version)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Destem the kale. Rinse and roughly chop.

Boil a pot of water and blanch for 2 minutes.

Prepare a bowl with ice water.

Remove the kale from the water and shock in the ice water. When it's cooled,  wring out the water from the kale.

Put the kale in a food processor with the garlic, nuts, and miso and blend until smooth.

Add the lemon and salt and pepper to taste. 

 

TEMPEH TOMATO SAUCE

If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, stay away from the three grain variety because it contains barley.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups

 

Ingredients    

1/2 package organic tempeh, chopped with a hand grater

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

½ teaspoon oregano 

1 28 oz can peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped (Set juice aside).

 

In a saucepan, brown the tempeh in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.

Remove from pan and add onion. Cook until translucent and soft, about 5-7 minutes. 

Add the garlic and stir for about 1 minute.

Add the oregano, red pepper flakes and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat.

Cook uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When cooked, puree using an immersion blender.

Spoon on a plate and top with the polenta men and kale pesto.

EASY ASIAN KELP NOODLE SALAD

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Here's a change of pace from all that Thanksgiving cooking: kelp noodles. I'm sure maybe all of two of you out there have tried them in the past.

So what are kelp noodles? Kelp noodles are made with kelp,  a sea vegetable often used in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisines. Kelp noodles are gluten-free, grain-free, and soy-free, and if you're counting calories, you'll be glad to know that they have almost none.

Like tofu, they take on the taste of whatever you're preparing them with. When raw, they have a crunchy texture. Soaked, they'll be a bit less crunchy.  I generally use glass noodles (mung bean thread) for Asian dishes but these are nice for a change of pace.  You can also use shirataki noodles. Look for them at most health food stores and even at Whole Foods.

Here's a few other ways you can prepare kelp noodles:

          Serve with a pesto sauce 

          Top with avocado cream

          Use in an Asian stir fry

          Add to a broth or miso soup

          Substitute for spaghetti and add tomato sauce     

          Make pad thai 

          Stuff them in Vietnamese summer rolls 

          Serve raw in a salad

 

EASY ASIAN KELP NOODLE SALAD

The first time you make a dish with kelp noodles, I would suggest keeping it simple. You'll want to see if you like the taste.  Soak the kelp noodles in warm water with some lemon juice for about a half hour before you prepare them so they won't be so crunchy. NOTE: If you have leftovers and put them back in the refrigerator, they will get crunchy again.

I prepared an Asian dressing and served them tossed with red mizuna, edamame and toasted sesame seeds. A Japanese friend of mine noted that wakame, another sea green, would also be excellent choice to add to the kelp noodles for a delicious gluten-free dish.

 

Serves 4 as an appetizer


Ingredients

One 12 ounce package kelp noodles 

Juice of a lemon

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds 

2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon agave or organic sugar

1 inch peeled and grated fresh ginger

1 cup chopped red mizuna

1/4 cup organic edamame, cooked

 

Rinse and soak the noodles for 30 minutes in warm water with the juice of one lemon.   Drain.

Toast the sesame seeds in a saute pan until lightly golden and fragrant, tossing frequently. Set aside.

Prepare the dressing in a large bowl by whisking together the brown rice vinegar, sesame oil, agave or sugar, and the ginger. 

Heat the noodles quickly in a saute pan or serve them cold.

Toss the noodles in the dressing. 

Add the red mizuna, edamame and toasted sesame seeds and serve.

 

 

GLUTEN-FREE HOLIDAY CHESTNUT AND MUSHROOM SOUP

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The first time I ate roasted chestnuts was on a trip to Italy. I bought them from a street vendor one gloomy winter afternoon in Vicenza while they were still warm and fragrant. I felt the way my daughter did the first time she ate chocolate. She gave me a look that said why have you been holding this back on me for so long?

The first time I had chestnut soup was back home in New York when David Bouley had a little takeout shop in Tribeca. It was bitter cold and I bought a cup of chestnut soup to go and walked around the neighborhood drinking it out of a cardboard coffee cup. It was the best bowl of soup I ever had, decadent and earthy at the same time.

Last week I was reading The New York Times and came across a mushroom soup recipe for Thanksgiving and I thought I'd give it a try with chestnuts. The recipe also had rice in it and (optional) heavy cream. I played around with it by omitting the rice and adding chestnuts and cauliflower. Pureed cauliflower in a soup will give it the consistency of cream. I think I came up with a winner. The trick is to get the right proportion of cauliflower to chestnuts. My version is gluten-free, vegetarian and dairy-free.

 

GLUTEN-FREE HOLIDAY CHESTNUT AND MUSHROOM SOUP

You can substitute port for the sherry. For a thinner soup, leave out the cauliflower. If you want a richer soup, you can substitute heavy cream for the cauliflower. Serve with minced parsley or chives.


Makes 7 1/2 cups

 

Ingredients

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 medium leek, white part only, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 rib celery, roughly chopped

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ pounds regular or cremini mushrooms, sliced or coarsely chopped

1  6.5 ounce package peeled and cooked chestnuts roughly chopped (I used Trader Joe's)

1 cup cauliflower, cut into florets

4 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade. If using boxed and it has a strong taste, dilute it so it's half stock, half water

Bouquet garni of 2 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs parsley and 4-5 peppercorns

2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari

2 tablespoons dry sherry or port

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped parsley or chives

 

To prepare the dried porcini, steep them in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Strain the liquid to remove any sand and set aside to use later for stock in the soup.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a soup pot. Add the chopped onion, leek, carrot, celery and the salt. Saute for 8-10 minutes, until the onions are almost translucent.

Add the garlic, stir, and cook for another minute.

Add the fresh and reconstituted porcini mushrooms, the chestnuts, the cauliflower, the vegetable stock, the mushroom water and the bouquet garni and simmer for 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is very soft.

Let the soup cool a bit.  Blend the soup in batches in a blender and then return it to the pot. You can also use an immersion blender but it won't be as smooth.

Once the soup is pureed, add the gluten-free tamari, sherry or port, and season to taste with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, thin it out with more vegetable stock. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or chives.

CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH MAPLE SYRUP

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When I went to culinary school, maple sugar was the only sugar we were allowed to use. Maple sugar and  maple syrup are natural products so it was advocated that if we're going to use any form of sugar, it should be good old unprocessed, unrefined maple. Maple syrup supports the immune system and also contains manganese and zinc. If you're going to buy maple syrup, don't skimp on the cheap stuff either! Grade A maple syrup is lighter and milder, Grade B has a more intense maple flavor.  Since I'm the one who always makes the cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, I thought this year I'd try it with maple syrup instead of the usual white, refined sugar.

Cranberry sauce gets very personal for people. Some people I know who eat very holistically insist on eating the canned cranberry sauce once a year, because that's what they grew up eating. Personally, I like mine homemade, but I don't like a lot of diced oranges in my cranberry sauce and I don't like nuts in it either. I just want to taste the cranberries.

This year, I bought some fresh cranberries from the farmers' market and thought I'd mix it up with another fall staple - apple cider. Because I love ginger so much and look for an excuse to put it in just about everything, and because it's so good for your digestive system, I added some to the cranberries. Since it's a holiday, you can go all out and use crystallized ginger instead, if you want.

When I was telling my friend Sarah Abrams from the New York Women's Culinary Alliance  that I made this wonderful cranberry sauce with maple syrup, she told me that her mom used to make cranberry sauce with horseradish in it. I didn't wince because for years, I used to add a little jalapeno pepper to mine. It tones down the tartness of the cranberries and gives it a nice little unexpected kick. I ran out to my local supermarket, which is conveniently right across the street, and bought a bottle of Gold's horseradish (don't worry, it's gluten-free!) and added a bit to the cranberry sauce. New tradition in my home! Thanks, Sarah!

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CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH MAPLE SYRUP

Serves a Thanksgiving crowd

 

Ingredients

1 ½ pounds fresh cranberries 

1 cup unfiltered apple juice

1 cup good quality maple syrup

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated or diced (about 2 tablespoons)

1 ½ tablespoons white horseradish (optional)

1 tablespoon lime juice plus lime zest from 1 lime

 

Wash the cranberries in a colander. Toss out any bad ones.

In a saucepan, add the cranberries, apple juice and maple syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil and then let simmer until the cranberries pop, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the ginger and horseradish, if using.

When cool, add the lime juice and lime zest.  

WALDORF CELERY ROOT SALAD

 

 

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I remember when I was a kid my mom ordered a Waldorf salad at a restaurant instead of her usual iceberg lettuce wedge with  Russian dressing. I tasted it and loved the crunchy mix of apples, celery and walnuts served on a bed of lettuce. The Waldorf salad was invented at the Waldorf Hotel in Manhattan (now the  Waldorf Astoria Hotel) in 1928, and it deserves a comeback.

I was recently working with my friend Barbara Goodman on a project and she served me a celery root remoulade for lunch, another seminal dish, which combines celeriac, also know as celery root,  with a mustard aioli.  It was so delicious that I was inspired to go home and make my own twist on the dish- a Waldorf celery root salad.

The classic Waldorf salad uses mayonnaise to hold it together, but I'm not a big fan of mayonnaise. For a lighter, fresher taste, I use Greek yogurt. It's a lovely gluten-free dish for fall and winter.

 

GLUTEN-FREE WALDORF CELERY ROOT SALAD 

Don't be shy with the mustard here. Start small, see if you like it and if you want it to have a bit more of a tang, by all means add more. This dish is great served over escarole or lettuce as an appetizer, or as a side dish with fish.  Feel free to add some chiffonaded kale to the salad, too. Since the celeriac can turn brown, it needs to be acidulated right after it's shredded. You can peel the apple, or leave it unpeeled. I liked the unpeeled little pieces of lime green Granny Smith for color. Garnish with the walnuts and lemon thyme. If the thyme isn't available, use parsley.

Serves 4-6

 

Ingredients

¼ cup walnuts

4 cups peeled and shredded celery root – about 1 large celery root

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

2 1/2 tablespoons organic plain Greek yogurt

1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

2 teaspoons fresh lemon thyme or parsley

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1 Granny Smith apple,  cored and diced ( approximately 1 cup)

Salt, as needed

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

 

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place the walnuts on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast  for about 8 minutes until lightly brown and fragrant, tossing frequently. Do not burn. Set aside. When cooled, roughly chop.

To prepare the celery root, cut off the top and bottom ends. Using a knife, cut down the sides the way you would cut a pineapple. Grate the celery root in a food processor or use a hand grater to shred. If you're not afraid of using a mandoline, like me, grate it into matchsticks.   Place the celery root in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and 1 ½ tablespoons of the lemon juice so the celery root won't turn brown. Set aside.

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together the yogurt, mustard, apple cider vinegar, lemon and lemon zest and salt. Add fresh pepper to taste.

Combine the vinaigrette with the celery root. Toss well. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Before serving, add the diced apple, toasted walnuts and lemon thyme.

 

CURRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH + APPLE SOUP

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The classic Curried Butternut Soup from The Silver Palate Cookbook is one of the first soups I learned to prepare for my family. It's always been an autumn staple in my home. I crave it when the leaves start to turn the same way I crave tomatoes and corn in the summer.  It's soothing, flavorful, and it's gluten-free, too.

This recipe is adapted from The Silver Palate. In my version, the chicken stock has been replaced with vegetable stock and I've added a few more spices.  Also, I used ghee instead of oil to saute the onions. Ghee is clarified butter and when used in moderation, it can lower cardiovascular risks, especially when used with a mostly plant based diet. It has a high cooking point, and it brings a bit of earthiness to the soup. I found some at Trader Joe's. It's also available at Indian cooking stores and of course, it's very easy to make.

Save the seeds and roast them, along with any pumpkin seeds you have from your Halloween pumpkin, and use them as a snack or as a garnish for this warming soup.

 

CURRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH  + APPLE SOUP WITH ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Makes 4-6 servings

 

Ingredients

3 cups butternut squash (about 1 large butternut squash)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons ghee

2 cups finely chopped onion

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1 quart vegetable stock, preferably homemade

1 cup unfiltered organic apple juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish: Roasted pumpkin or squash seeds

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and save them for roasting.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush some olive oil on the squash and place cut side down on the pan. Roast for about 35 minutes, or until tender. Cool, remove the skin and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a soup pot. Add the chopped onions, curry powder, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt and cook, covered over low heat until the onions are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

When the onions are soft and translucent, add the cooked squash, stock and apples and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered until the apples are tender, about 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. Add the apple juice and more vegetable stock, if necessary, and puree once more.

Garnish with roasted pumpkin or squash seeds.

 

ROASTED PUMPKIN OR SQUASH SEEDS

 

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Ingredients

Seeds from a pumpkin or butternut squash

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Scoop the seeds out of the squash or pumpkin. Put the seeds in a colander and wash and pick out the membranes.

Lightly dry the seeds and place them in a bowl.

Toss the seeds with olive oil, salt and optional paprika.

Roast the seeds for about 20 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet until golden brown, flipping halfway through.

BLACK + WHITE SESAME TAHINI BARS

 

 

East meets Middle East in these black and white gluten-free sesame treats. East is gomasio, Japanese black toasted sesame salt, and Middle East is the tahini, unhulled white sesame seeds and pistachios.  I like these little snacks because they satisfy my craving for a dessert, but yet they're not cloyingly sweet like the peanut honey bars you find in a lot of Indian stores.

My daughter and I have eaten them for breakfast a few times when we're in a rush, too.  Between the sesame seeds, tahini and nuts, they have a lot of protein, calcium and fiber. They're also great for an afternoon snack.  Just check your teeth after you eat them, as the black and white sesame seeds can get stuck between your teeth.

 

BLACK + WHITE GLUTEN-FREE SESAME TAHINI BARS

Make sure you mix the almond butter and tahini mixture thoroughly with the dry ingredients so they don't fall apart.  Use a good quality almond butter - once,  I made them using almond butter from a jar and they weren't holding up as well as when I had the almonds freshly ground at the health food store.

You can make them without the gomasio and just add more sesame seeds. You can add rose water, dates, apricots or spice it up with cardamom. This recipe is just a starting point. Cut them into squares, diamonds or rectangles.

 

Ingredients

 

1/2 cup raw cashew nuts

3/4  cups unsweetened dried coconut

1/3 cup organic almond butter

1/3 cup tahini

1/4 cup coconut sugar, sucanut or other organic sugar

1/2 cup raw honey, maple syrup or agave

1/2  teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1  cup raw white sesame seeds

1/2 cup gomasio

1/3 cup chopped pistachios

Optional: 1/3 cup chopped apricots, dates or golden raisins

 

 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Take an 8” x 8” baking pan and line it with a 8” x 10” piece of parchment paper. One inch will hang over on two sides and this will help you lift it out of the pan easier.

Spray some olive oil spray on the bottom of the parchment paper and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the cashews and coconut until they make a fine flour.

On the stove, heat the almond butter, tahini, coconut sugar, honey and vanilla until well mixed.

Don't overheat. Let it cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, combine the coarse sea salt, white sesame seeds, gomasio, flaxseed and pistachios.  Add the cashews and coconut mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed. If you're adding the dried fruits, add them here.

Pour the warm almond butter mixture in with the other ingredients, and with your hands thoroughly mix.

Press the mixture into the baking pan. Flatten it evenly with the bottom of a glass. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Refrigerate for several hours before you cut them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ZUCCHINI BABAGANOUSH

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I was lurking on Yotam Ottolenghi's website and saw he was experimenting making baba ganoush with zucchini. So of course I had to try this, since I try to avoid nightshades like eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers since they can cause joint pain and digestive issues for people with autoimmune diseases, arthritis and other health issues. 

It was a truly inspired idea. The zucchini version has a milder taste than the eggplant babaganoush, but it's really delicious. If you want to make it with eggplant instead,  just substitute the eggplant for the zucchini. I actually made both versions. I served the eggplant version, the zucchini version, and then I mixed them together.  Garnish with smoked paprika, cumin, dukkah, chopped parsley or toasted almonds.

ZUCCHINI BABAGANOUSH

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini

1 bulb roasted garlic or two cloves of minced raw garlic

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup tahini    

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Garnish of choice          

                                                                                                             

Char the zucchini by placing them over medium high heat on the stove. Char all sides until they are black.  They should feel soft and cooked all the way through. If they're not, tightly wrap them in foil and then place them on the burner and cook for another 30 minutes, turning halfway through.  Alternatively,  you can just put them in the oven broiler, poke a hole or two, and char the zucchini by rotating each side.

Let the zucchini cool.

Cut the  zucchini in half. Scoop the flesh away from the skin and discard the skin and as many of the seeds as you can.  Transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, salt and black pepper and mix until very smooth. Pulse in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, or pepper as needed.

Refrigerate for at least one hour to let the flavors blend. Before serving dust lightly with paprika, cumin, dukkah or parsley. Serve with raw vegetables or crackers

Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to five days.

 

MARCELLA HAZEN'S CHICKPEA WITH ARBORIO RICE SOUP

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I'm rehashing this blog post from my old blog about Marcella Hazen, who died recently. Her Chickpea Soup With Arborio Rice is still one of my favorites, and I will honor her memory by making it again this week. When I became gluten-free, it was comforting to know that I could still eat this hearty and easy to prepare chickpea soup.

Marcella Hazan is my Julia Child. I’ve cooked and eaten my way through much of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and learned, as they say in the musical  Nine, how to “Be Italian,” from this 1992 classic cookbook.

Ever the groupie, years ago I even went to see Ms. Hazan give a lecture at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, which goes to prove that cooking Italian food is a fine art. I remember a man in the audience asked her what her favorite recipe was for clams. She looked at him like he was crazy for asking such a question and said, “It depends what you’re in the mood for at the time,” an answer that only an Italian could give. It made perfect sense to me, even though I’m not Italian. (Although having been to Italy at least a dozen times, I like to think of myself as an honorary Italian).

I love this cookbook because as a home cook who grew up on Poptarts and canned vegetables, it taught me that if you respect your ingredients – the best meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, cheeses and herbs you can afford, there’s not a lot of fancy cooking you have to do.

Now that the weather is finally turned a bit colder, I went right to my Marcella Hazan bible and opened it to the Chickpea Soup with Arborio Rice recipe, which tastes almost like a risotto.  It’s one of our winter staples, with a salad and it will always be remembered as the recipe that got my daughter to become a fan of chickpeas, a good source of protein and manganese.  It’s a stick-to-your-ribs kind of dish that even Julia Child would love.

 

CHICKPEA SOUP  (from Marcella Hazan)

This is one of those really easy soups to make when there’s nothing to eat and you look through the pantry, and voila, there are all the ingredients. When I make this soup, I add a rind of parmesan cheese that’s usually in the refrigerator to act as a bone and give it some depth.

Serves 4 

 

Ingredients

4 whole garlic cloves, peeled

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed or a small sprig of fresh rosemary

2/3 cup canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up with their juices

¾ cup dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked or 2 1/4 cups canned chickpeas, drained 

1 cup homemade meat broth or 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup water (I use a vegetable broth when I make it)

Salt

Pepper

 

Put the garlic and olive oil in a pot that can subsequently accommodate all the ingredients and turn on the heat to medium.

Saute the garlic cloves until light brown, and then remove from the pan.

Add the crushed rosemary leaves or the sprig, stir, then put in the cut-up tomatoes with their juice.

Cook for about 20-25 minutes until the oil floats free from the tomatoes.

Add the drained chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes, stirring.                                             

Add the broth or bouillon, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.                                                   

Puree about half of the soup. If soup is too thick, add a little more water or broth.

Taste and correct for salt. Add pepper.

 

 

VERSION WITH RICE

The Chickpea Soup made from the preceding recipe

3 cups (or more) basic meat broth, or 2 bouillon cubes dissolved with 3 cups water. (I use vegetable broth)

1 cup rice, preferably Italian Arborio rice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt

 

Puree all but a quarter cupful of the chickpea soup with an immersion blender or use a food processor. Add the rest of the soup or the dissolved bouillon, and bring to a steady, but moderate boil.

Add the rice, stir, cover the pot, and cook, letting the soup bubble steadily, but moderately, until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite. Check after about 10-12 minutes to see if more liquid is needed. If the soup is becoming too dense, add more homemade broth or water. When the rice is done, swirl in the olive oil, then taste and correct for salt. Let the soup settle for two or three minutes before serving.

 

GINGER TURMERIC TONIC

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I was at the New Amsterdam Market recently (Welcome back folks!) and besides indulging in lots of obscure apples and ridiculously expensive Vermont Maple Syrup that I've been finding excuses to put on just about everything,  I also found a vendor selling Turmeric Tonic. He used actual fresh turmeric.

I have to admit that I had never seen these little orange knobs that looked like gnarled fingers before. I was so excited because an organic farmer was selling just-picked ginger at the farmers' market, and it reminded me that I should start making some ginger turmeric tonic while the fresh turmeric was available. (Of course you can use dried turmeric, but this is much more fun!)

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I'm so fortunate that  besides living near New York City's biggest farmers' market, I also live near Kalustyans, where you can find every herb, spice, bean or grain you'd ever want to cook with, and sure enough,  they had fresh turmeric. I went home and made this lovely drink using the ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, some honey and a little apple juice.  

Ginger, turmeric and cayenne all act as anti-inflammatory agents. In Aruyveda practices,  ginger is also used to stimulate circulation, help with digestion and fight off infections. It helps with nausea,  helps ward off colds and is great for menstrual cramps. Turmeric, which contains circumin, is an antioxidant and good for arthritis and healing wounds. In Chinese medicine it is used as a treatment for depression. Cayenne helps to clear congestion and helps boost immunity.

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Drink this ginger turmeric tonic chilled or at room temperature. It will last for about 5 days. If you're like me, and don't have a juicer, just use your blender. You'll have a few pieces of chopped turmeric and ginger in it, and there's nothing wrong with that.

 

GINGER TURMERIC TONIC

Makes 4 4oz servings

 

 

Ingredients

 

1 inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 inch piece turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped

Juice of 3 lemons

Juice of 1 lime

½ teaspoon honey, preferably raw

Dash cayenne

1 ½ cups water

½  cup organic apple juice

Optional: ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

 

 

Blend the ginger and turmeric in the blender.

Add the lemon, lime, honey, cayenne, water, and apple juice and blend to mix.

Add cardamom if using.

 

MISO VEGETABLE SOUP WITH GLUTEN-FREE RICE VERMICELLI

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I confess, I've had acid reflux (GERD) for years. Some health practitioners feel that a gluten-free diet helps reduce the symptoms of acid reflux, as does a diet without a lot of acidic foods, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, sugar and spicy foods.

If you're interested in food as medicine, one of the best remedies for acid reflux is miso soup. Miso has so many health properties – it's mineral rich,  antibacterial, high in antioxidants and it's alkaline. (Ladies, it's also good for hot flashes!)  I have a cup of miso broth many mornings when my throat is feeling sore from reflux, and it helps get me through the day.

At night, when I want to go all out, I'll make a big vegetable tofu miso soup.   It's just what the doctor ordered after I've been eating badly for awhile. I used to use barley miso in the winter, because with mushroom, it made such an earthy stock, but then I realized it wasn't gluten-free (duh, barley isn't gluten-free, so why would barley miso!), so now I use white, red or chickpea miso. I'll even mix them up. I add gluten-free rice vermicelli or mung bean thread noodles to the broth to make it more filling.  If you can find kelp noodles, they're a great gluten-free alternative to the rice noodles. If you're not gluten-free, try soba or udon noodles.

Do not boil the miso!  You should stir miso into a hot broth at the very end and take it off the flame. Boiling the miso destroys its healthy properties.

 

MISO VEGETABLE SOUP WITH RICE VERMICELLI

First,  make a vegetarian dashi with kombu. (You would use bonito flakes to make a non-veggie version). Kombu is a sea vegetable that is high in minerals and a good source of  iodine. Wakame is another delicious sea vegetable. Both are rich in antioxidants.

After you've made the dashi, the idea is to add whatever ingredients you want, and then add the miso at the end, right before you serve it.  (Since the miso paste is thick, it takes a while to dissolve in the dashi,  so it's a good idea to thin the miso in water first.)

You can use silken tofu or firm tofu, whatever your preference. You can substitute snow peas for the snap peas or add edamame or broccoli as your green. Bok choy would be wonderful, too.

Make the soup stronger, by adding more miso paste. A good rule of thumb is at least a tablespoon of miso per cup of water.  Some miso pastes are stronger than others so experiment and see what you like. In the warmer months, you might prefer a milder white miso. Also, the lighter the miso, the less salty it generally is. The lighter miso is  also less aged, so they will have less depth of flavor. You can even mix the white and red together. If you want to buy miso made from soybeans that are non-GMO, make sure you buy organically grown miso.

As a finishing touch, add a squirt of sesame oil, a handful of shiso leaves, scallions or cilantro. Be creative!

 

Serves 6

 

Ingredients

6 cups water

2-3 pieces  of kombu

¼ cup wakame, soaked 5 minutes

1/3 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water

2 small .5 oz packages of rice vermicelli

½ block firm tofu

1 cup savoy cabbage or napa cabbage, shredded

1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3/4-1 cup white miso paste (or more to taste)

Garnish with snap peas, diced on the diagonal

Optional: Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, gomasio, cilantro or shiso leaves

Optional: Squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving

Optional: A squirt of toasted sesame oil

 

Boil the kombu in the water very slowly or soak overnight at room temperature. This will be your dashi stock.  Remove the kombu when finishing the preparation of the broth.

Soak 1/4 cup wakame in hot water for 15 minutes.

Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 15 mintues.

Soak the rice vermicelli or bean thread noodles in hot water for about 15-20 minutes.

Cut a ½ block of tofu and dice it into  one inch cubes.

Rinse the reconstituted wakame and chop. Set aside.

Chop the mushrooms. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring the dashi to a boil. Add the cabbage, carrot, ginger and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Add the wakame and mushrooms.

Put a spoonful of the miso into your bowl, add some of the broth and dissolve the miso, then add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl. Add the noodles (they will finish cooking in the hot broth), optional garnishes, and serve.

 

GLUTEN-FREE BRAZILIAN CHEESE ROLLS WITH TOMATOES AND PESTO

When you're gluten-free, it's a rare treat to eat a sandwich with bread that actually tastes good. I'll even pass for edible.  Well, these Brazilian cheese rolls are not only good, they're delicious.  I had a version of them at a lovely New York restaurant called Comodo  and went home and figured out how to make them.  They use tapioca flour so they're gluten-free.  They taste like gougeres, and you know how addicting they are.  

You can eat them as a roll or cut them in half and sandwich a burger between the bread and you've got yourself a slider. First attempt I made black bean burgers, and my daughter and I were very happy. But because the bread is so flavorful with all that parmesan cheese, it's nice to make the bread the star so I slathered on some pesto between the bread and filled with some end-of-summer tomatoes.  Now that was sublime. The simpler something is, the better it generally tastes. 

 

GLUTEN-FREE BRAZILIAN CHEESE ROLLS (PAO DE QUEIJO)

If you're from Brazil, you might not say this is 100% authentic, but to me, taste is what counts. The tapioca starch is also known as manioc, yuca or cassava. Some recipes call for tapioca starch, others for tapioca flour, but in America, they're basically the same thing. Bob's Red Mill makes a good tapioca flour.

In Latin America, they would use a Brazilian cheese called queijo minas instead of the parmesan cheese used in this recipe.  You can also use cotija. Next time I make them, I'm going to put some fresh herbs in the batter – rosemary, sage, parsley or thyme, depending on what I want to pair them with. Or better yet, some roasted garlic.


Makes about 24

 

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk

¼ cup butter + 1 tablespoon

¼ cup olive oil

2 cups tapioca flour

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 ¼ cups grated parmesan cheese

Salt to taste

Optional: Tablespoon of chopped rosemary or thyme

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


Line two muffin tins with the one tablespoon of butter.

Mix the milk, butter and oil in a quart sized pot.  Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally.  As soon as it boils, remove from the  heat. 


When the milk, oil and butter mix cools a bit, put it in a food processor. Add the tapioca flour.  Mix until blended.

Stir in the eggs, cheese and salt and mix well. 
Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough will be very stretchy and gooey.

Let the mixture cool for about 15 minutes so it's easier to handle.

With your hands dry and floured, shape the dough into balls and place them in the muffin tins. (You can use a baking pan, but this method seems less messier.)

Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are puffed up and start to become golden.

Serve warm.