Tag Archives: corn-free pie

Kitchen-Sink Soup – Kale and Carrot with White Beans

Kale and Carrot Soup with White Beans

I can always feel February coming because my green Le Creuset pot calls my name, asking me to fill it with, well, anything, really.  The holidays are a distant memory, and desperate yearnings for Spring aren’t making it come any faster.  Especially this winter, when we’ve been hit with storm after storm after storm, my kitchen and body and soul crave… soup.

Kitchen-Sink Soup is just that – anything that I have on hand or have miraculously thought to buy preemptively goes into my pot with broth and seasonings, then gets hand-blended into creamy perfection.  Soup is one of the easiest things to make well without a recipe.  All it takes are the tastiest and most natural of ingredients – vegetables, chicken or veggie stock, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and a protein such as beans, lentils or meat.  The simpler, in a way, the better.

But if you want a delectable recipe, follow this one, for Kale and Carrot Soup with White Beans.  For this soup I had picked up a few things: a bunch of carrots with the greens, as carrot greens are good for you and provide a rich carrot smell more than the carrots themselves, 2 cans of Cannelli beans, and a big bunch of green kale.  The rest I had around, and peeled and threw in for fun.

The result?  A blend of sweet (from the parsnips, sweet potato and carrots) and bitter (from the kale), made hearty from the white beans.  Easy to prepare, and it’s provided me with about 6 healthy servings to get through a week of working from home.

Ingredients

  • 1 small bunch of carrots (about 8 small carrots), scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 bunch of carrot greens, thoroughly washed, and chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 pint of clear vegetable or chicken stock
  • 4 cups of water
  • I bunch of Kale, chopped
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cans of white Canelli beans
  • olive oil to taste

Directions

  • Place the carrots, greens, parsnips, onion, sweet potato, broth and water in a medium pot (preferably cast iron), and bring up to a boil.
  • Lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 1/2 hour or until vegetables are almost cooked through.
  • Add kale and season with salt and pepper, cook for another 15 minutes until kale is soft.
  • With a hand blender or standing blender, blend soup until smooth.
  • Add Cannelli beans and cook until warmed through.
  • Add olive oil to taste when serving.

Buck Up with Buckwheat!

It’s cold in New York City.  I sit at the computer, writing away at articles for my job, gobbling hot tea constantly.  And as I puttered around the kitchen this morning, I realized my normal breakfast of eggs and veggies wasn’t gonna cut it. I need something warm, filling and slightly sweet.

Enter BUCKWHEAT.

buckwheat kernals

This gluten-free grain is often overlooked when compared with its massively produced cousin, Oatmeal, but it’s now readily available in health food stores large and small.  It’s not actually a grain, but a seed somewhat related to rhubarb.  It cooks very similarly to oatmeal, though, is as deliciously versatile and is wonderfully filling on mornings when there’s a lot of day to face.  It’s completely gluten-free and a very healthy-happy food.

Healthy-Happy Buckwheat!

  • Completely gluten-free as it’s a seed, so it’s digestible for those with celiac and gluten sensitivities
  • Contains a very high level of magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and therefore contributes to healthy blood flow and is good for the heart
  • Lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol (that’s a good thing…)
  • Helps lower and regulate blood-sugar levels by containing chiro-inositol.  Researchers are not sure why this does what it does quite yet, but in humans and animals alike, whole grains containing this compound lowered blood-sugar levels by 12-19% when compared with those given a placebo (check it out at WHFoods)
  • Generally high in antioxidants, so is generally an on-your-side superfood

Let’s Cook It!

Some cook buckwheat as an alternative to rice.  I prefer it as a porridge, all gooey and slightly sweet.  Below is my recipe for a coconut-buckwheat cereal.  Alternatives would be to cook with water or an animal milk, then add any variety of vanilla extract, cinnamon, dried or fresh fruits, carob powder, fresh nutmeg, chai… the list goes on.  I prefer coconut milk on some mornings because it makes the porridge thicker and naturally sweet and creamy.  I pressure cook my morning grains normally, as it adds to the digestion ease and also makes the grains that much more moist and fluffy.  Toasting them for a few minutes on dry heat before adding the liquid increases their digestibility.  Directions for pressure-cooking and stove top cooking are below.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of buckwheat
  • 2 cups of liquid – I used a can of light coconut milk and then topped off the rest with water
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (per serving)
  • dried cranberries, golden raisins or blueberries (preferably sugar and nitrate-free)
  • raw or toasted nuts (I used pecans, but hazelnuts or almonds would also be delightful)

Directions:

  1. Pressure Cook Grains: Add grains and liquid into a pressure cooker, bring up to full heat (you’ll know because it’ll be sizzling away, making lots of noise and releasing some steam), cook for 12 minutes, then turn off the heat and let pressure release naturally.
  2. Stove-top Cooking Grains:  Toast the grains in a dry pot on medium heat, stirring continually, until they become nutty and fragrant.  Add the liquid, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.   Cook about 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Serve with 1 tsp of maple syrup per serving, and a small handful of raw nuts and dried fruit.

Note: Adding a non-animal protein such as nut-butter or eggs is a great way to make this breakfast a perfect protein and aid digestion.  I actually rarely do such heavy grains first thing in the morning as I can’t digest nuts well in the early day, but as a sweet-treat and with some extra digestive boosting supplements, it’s a great way to face the rain.

How to make this a dessert? Simmer about 2 1/2 cups coconut milk on the stove, adding 4 tablespoons maple syrup, 2+ teaspoons each of vanilla extract and cinnamon and, if you want to live dangerously, a little dark rum.  Add grains and cook on low until thick and sweet.  Whip a whole egg and add in just before the grains are fully cooked, stirring thoroughly.  Taste and add seasonings to your preference.  Remove to a wide pan and refrigerate until cold.  Sprinkle with cinnamon, raisins and (if desired) a little more agave.

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cake – The Easiest Recipe Ever!

Adding a can of pumpkin to a boxed chocolate cake mix.  A gluten-peanut-dairy-soy-free chocolate cake mix?

Success!

I can say without a doubt that this is the easiest recipe for a vegan fudge chocolate cake EVER!  The pumpkin obliterated the dry, crumbly issue I had last weekend with the gf cakes, and the denseness and moistness balanced out the dark semi-sweetness of the chocolate.  My host commented on how you couldn’t taste pumpkin specifically, but that it added a vanilla finish instead.

I served the cake on a dish of coffee vanilla sauce, also vegan, and with a few fresh blueberries.  While one desserter noted that the sauce tasted like something you would get at a vegan restaurant, another said it was the coffee that hit them first and then the texture.  Not a bad pairing for the cake, but I’m going to find a better one.

Conclusion to this experiment?  I will, with confidence and excitement, use a can of pumpkin and a boxed allergy-free cake mix to make a cake for those with food sensitivities and food snobs alike.

Oh, and our hosts created a phenomenal dinner for us – short ribs that literally fell of the bone, beet and goat cheese salad, cheese and cured meats that were divine, and more bottles of Prosecco and red wine than I care to admit.

Not a bad Friday night for this tired, dusty baker.

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Corn-and-Dairy-Free Apple Pie

 

Dusty Dan - the Brother

My brother Dan’s friend Matt’s fiance Marissa can’t eat corn or dairy.  Dan is spending New Year’s Eve with them and some friends in Vermont.  I owe Dan a baking session as part of his Christmas gift.  On a snowy, cold evening in Washington Heights at the late hour of 11pm, we head into my kitchen to develop a recipe for a corn-and-dairy-free apple pie all the revelers will enjoy.

I must admit, I’m a little concerned about this assignment.  Butter is the one thing I can count on in baking when my sugar and flour sources are limited.  I completely avoid milk, cream, cheese and the like, but the minimal presence of protein in butter somehow makes it easy enough for me to digest without too much disturbance.  Especially clarified butter, where more protein has been removed.  So no matter the flour combination or inclusion/lack thereof of sweetener, I’ve always been able to rely on butter to add complexity and flavor.

Technically, butter also acts as the fat that binds the flour together in a crust.

Now, while I generally don’t use corn flour or products when I bake, I also haven’t been particularly attentive to it being in products I use.  So when Dan said Melissa uses Smart Balance Light as her “butter”, I stick to it.  I’m a bit confused about it’s being made with canola oil, which I assume is from corn.  Or if there’s a specific reason she doesn’t use Crisco shortening, which is made from palm and soybean oils.

After some quick googling I realize that canola isn’t made from corn but from rapeseed – who knew?!?

These are all questions to ask her at another time when we make “Melissa’s Apple Pie Take Two”.

For now, here’s how this basically plays out:  I use regular flour so that the gluten binds and develops the pie dough.  Other than replacing the butter with the Smart Balance and only using 1 tablespoon of water, we make the Williams-Sonoma Basic Pie Crust.  I also use white sugar in the dough and the filling, which I don’t usually do.  I figure this pie needs to be a gentle step for those who don’t have food allergies.

So – this pie is NOT gluten-free nor sugar-free.  Not a particularly alternative recipe, it just lacks corn and dairy together.  For tips on making the best of your apple pie, check out my posts on Apple Pie Filling and The Best Basic Pie Crust.

Ingredients: Apples

  • 12-16 hard, ripe apples, of three different varieties.
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, two varieties if possible (one sweet, one spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably ground fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions: Apples

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Peel, core and slice your apples, and spread them equally on two rimmed cookie sheets.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup white sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon cloves on EACH of the sheets.
  • Mix with your hands until all apples are coated.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes while you prepare your crust, turning the apples once, until softened.
  • Remove from oven and let cool before filling.

Ingredients: Crust

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 16 tablespoons cold Smart Balance Lite
  • 1 tablespoon ice cold water
  • 1 egg (for washing on top)

Directions: Crust

  • Fix a standing mixer with a paddle attachment and pour in flour, sugar and salt.  Whisk together.
  • Add the Smart Balance in little chunks and start mixer on low.  Mix until the dough just starts to pull together.
  • Add the 1 tablespoon ice water and mix until the dough forms a ball, being careful not to over mix.
  • Separate dough into two balls, flatten into disks, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until a bit harder.

Directions: Assembling and Baking the Pie

  • Turn the oven down to 375 degrees when the apples are done baking.

  • Flour your workspace and rolling pin, and place one disk of dough in the center (an option is rolling between two pieces of parchment paper).
  • Start rolling from the center out, in one direction, to stretch dough.  Because we used Lite Smart Balance, which I assume means the water content is higher and fat content lower, this dough has much more of an elastic pull and a bit more oil to it.  Rolling away from the center in one direction with a good amount of weight seems to help it extend.
  • Gently place the crust into the plate.
  • Fill with apples, pressing down slightly and roll the top crust.
  • Place the top crust gently on the filled pie and crimp edges with a fork.  This won’t crimp as easily as other crusts, but as long as the edges are together, the filling will steam nicely.
  • Wash the crust with the egg, slightly beaten, and dust with sugar.
  • Bake on a cookie sheet or “pizza” stone for 40 minutes at 350 degrees or until apples are fully tender and crust lightly browned, covering edge of crust halfway through with tin foil or a pie lip.
  • Cool before serving and, if you can wait, don’t eat until the next day! Enjoy!


Notes:  This crust doesn’t taste like much on its own.  But paired with lots of apples sweetened with white sugar and scented with cinnamon and nutmeg, it’s a hearty compliment.  The crust softened the day after it was baked, and continued softening so that it was still tasty (I’m told) days later, and somewhat even more so.

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