Archive for the ‘Meatless Monday’ Category

TWD: Gluten free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Italian breads seem to be a recurrent theme with the TWD group over the last couple of months. First pizza, now focaccia. Not that we are complaining. Going back to our gluten eating days, we did enjoy focaccia on occasion, in fact, while living in Montana, a local health conscious baker, built his own wood fired oven, in order to do justice making some of the old style, rustic European breads. A lot of his breads were sourdough based, and focaccia was no exception. Usually only available on a weekend, unless you placed a special order, these specialty breads would disappear as soon as they emerged from the oven.  Since not everyone in our household shares our personal love for Italian food, focaccia is generally not at the top of the list, when baking bread. We do love a challenge, and never having tried focaccia gluten free before, we felt we couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

The contributing baker to the original recipe is Craig Kominiak, and he calls for two rising periods, followed by a resting period of 24-36 hours in the refrigerator. Generally, from our own humble experience, gluten free baking is not always amenable to these extra long resting periods. As a result, our own gluten free adaptation differs greatly from the original. When developing any recipe, we always cut the recipe in half, just in case it flops. This was no different.  The changes we made included the preparation of a simple sponge prepared a day ahead, consisting of sorghum flour, brown rice flour and water. The remaining flour blend included brown rice, tapioca, sweet rice and potato starch, along with psyllium seed soaked in coconut milk, one egg and the addition of 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar.  Fresh thyme and rosemary, along with a couple of tablespoons of fresh Parmesan cheese were worked into the dough before rising. The dough was allowed to rise for 1-1/2 hours, during which time it nearly tripled in size. Quite a feat for any gluten free dough.

TWD: Gluten Free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Spreading a dusting of rice flour onto a baking board, we divided the dough in half, and pressed it into rough oval shapes, about 1/2 inch thick. Using a fork we pierced holes throughout the dough, allowing it to bake evenly. We brushed the top with olive oil, sprinkled it with fresh thyme, rosemary and halved cherry tomatoes, along with salt and pepper.

TWD: Gluten Free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

The focaccia baked for about 15 minutes in a pre-heated 450°F oven. The best thing about making this recipe is how the entire house fills with the delicious aroma of fresh herbs and baking bread.

Never having made gluten free focaccia, we consider this recipe to be a great success, in both texture and flavor. We were also quite impressed how easy the dough was to work with, along with the fact that the final result mirrored the description in the Baking with Julia book, as well as our memories of regular focaccia (however faint – it is quite a while back now).

TWD: Gluten Free Focaccia, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

In the future, we will definitely give the “refrigerated resting time for the dough” a try, as well as experiment with a non-savory version.

Please check out all the wonderful contributions by the other TWD bakers at this link, as well as the beautiful contribution by this week’s host Sharmini of Wandering Through.

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Pasta Sauce with Shiitake Mushrooms and Gluten Free Fettucini, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

The other day, Whole Foods offered a great price on Shiitake mushrooms, and it made it into my shopping basket. The flu had already visited our family (an unwelcome visitor to say the least) and since so many health experts have credited shiitake mushrooms with immune strengthening abilities,  I wanted to include them in an easy to prepare dish. I also selected fresh thyme and oregano.

Before sharing this recipe, I should probably digress a little and share that I have not always been fond of mushrooms.  Raised in Germany, our family was not particularly familiar with mushrooms and certainly never collected any ourselves. To my knowledge, no one that I knew was very familiar with the types of mushrooms that would be safe to eat. During those days, mushrooms were not easily found in grocery stores. When talked about, mushrooms always seemed to have an air of danger attached to them. Probably too many images of toadstools in fairy tales.  A distant aunt apparently knew quite a bit about how to forage safely, but sadly, I never had an opportunity to go along on one of her forest walks. I would encourage anyone to take someone along that is very familiar with the varying types of fungi growing in the forests. This post will not teach you how to forage for mushrooms, since that lies beyond my level of expertise, but in researching this a little over the years there are quite a few valuable sites on the web that offer some interesting insights. You can even grown them yourselves, especially if you live in a moderate and relatively moist environment. Slightly more challenging, if not downright impossible, when you live in the High Desert of the Southwest. If mushroom cultivation is of interest to you, Rodale offers some interesting insights in how to go about it, and you can find additional information and even purchase growing medium kits at this Washington State site, as well as here. There is also a fun video on YouTube , created by Sergei Boutenko, showing how chantrelle mushrooms are collected in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. By the way, he also has a very useful Wild Edibles App on iTunes, demonstrating the safety of all Wild Edibles. Please note, that we have absolutely no affiliation with any of these sites and are mentioning them only because they caught our interest.

While living in the Pacific Northwest, we were introduced to many different and unfamiliar foods – shiitake mushrooms being one of them. A little time went by before I had the courage to try out these intriguing looking mushrooms for myself, after a Naturopathic Physician had suggested that they might be a valuable addition to our diet because of the anti-viral, anti-bacterial and generally immune strengthening properties.  After that initial slow and cautious  introduction, shiitake mushroom have become a staple in many of our dishes ranging from salads, quiches and pasta dishes to toppings for pizza. They are so versatile and easy to incorporate in so many dishes.

Pasta Sauce with Shiitake Mushrooms and Gluten Free Fettucini, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

With this particular purchase of shiitake mushrooms, I decided to create just a simple rice pasta dish, since we already had some Tinkyada Fettuccini pasta in the pantry. You could, however, also serve this pasta sauce over some raw zucchini pasta, which is equally delicious. This dish is gluten, dairy, corn and soy free and makes about 4 good size servings.

You will need the following:

  • 6 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms (you can use dried, just re-hydrate them ahead of them), thinly sliced.
  • 1 medium sized onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • pinch of Himalaya salt
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. of coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • several springs of thyme, stems removed
  • several springs of oregano, using the leaves only
  • 1 can (15 oz) of organic whole peeled tomatoes
  • a few watercress leaves to top each serving
  • 1 packet of Tinkyada gluten free rice fettuccini pasta


Prepare the pasta according to the directions, adding a little extra salt to the cooking water. While the pasta is cooking, in a large saucepan, heat the coconut oil and add the onions and garlic cloves and cook until translucent. Add the shiitake mushrooms and combine with the onions. Turn down the heat, cover and let simmer for a few minutes. Add the turmeric, salt and pepper. Add the peeled tomatoes to a separate bowl, and gently crush the tomatoes. Add all of this to the cooking mushrooms, together with the fresh oregano and thyme. Combine all the ingredients well, allowing for the herbs to infuse the sauce. Cover and let simmer for a few minutes on low heat.

Pasta Sauce with Shiitake Mushrooms and Gluten Free Fettuccini, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, Al rights reserved

Meanwhile drain the pasta. This particular brand of pasta does not require rinsing, unlike some others that are quite starchy. Serve the sauce over the pasta and top with the watercress leaves.

Whether or not you are in a position to safely forage for mushrooms yourself, or, like us, take advantage of good price options at Whole Foods or your favorite market, mushrooms do offer us another alternative to meat, filled with goodness and immune strengthening qualities.  In our case, we chose it in addition to green smoothies, lots of fluids and soups to fight off and ward of the flu.  We are all on the mend now and very happy about that. This dish is one of our favorite ‘quick go to meals’  any time of year, that can be easily prepared after a long day’s work, when long preparations are impossible. It also makes for a very satisfying quick lunch. The shiitake mushrooms lend an almost meat-like texture to the sauce. It is truly delicious.

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This is a fabulous dessert, which makes both a wonderful birthday/celebration cake as well as a delicious finish to any dinner. You only need a few basic ingredients, many of which can be substituted for whatever you have on hand. We used these ingredients because they were easily available to us at the moment.  The combination of gluten free rice crispy cereal,  chocolate chips, coconut milk ice cream and fresh fruit, invokes images of fun and childhood birthday parties. Many years ago, we used to make ice cream birthday cakes, using rice ice cream (Rice Dream), dressing it up with little umbrellas, fresh fruit and lots of candles. Just be forewarned, placing lots of candles too close to tiny paper umbrellas has, on occasion, presented some problems. Children and adults alike love this particular cake, especially, if you are limited to eating gluten, dairy and/or egg free.

The steps to make it are very simple and easy, you just need to set aside a little time for freezing the cake.

Ingredients needed:

  • 4 cups of gluten free rice crispies (Koala Crisp, by EnviroKidz)
  • 1/2 cup of gluten free chocolate chips
  • 1 pint of Purely Decadent Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream, slightly softened
  • 1 pint of Trader Joe’s Vanilla frozen Greek yoghurt, slightly softened (for a dairy free option, just use the vanilla coconut milk ice cream)
  • 3 fresh Nectarines, washed and thinly sliced (peaches, strawberries, or other fresh fruit of your choice)

Melt the chocolate chips over low heat. Mix with the rice crispies. Lightly grease the 9-inch spring form pan with a little butter. Fill the chocolate rice crispies mixture into the spring form, creating an even layer both on the bottom as well as the sides, which should be about 1-1/2 inches in height. Fill with the chocolate coconut ice cream, spreading it out evenly and smoothing out the top. This will be your bottom layer. Cover with a layer of the frozen vanilla Greek yoghurt (or vanilla coconut milk ice cream of your choice). Place the dessert in the freezer for about 2 hours.

Remove from the freezer and top the cake with a layer of sliced nectarines before serving.

This makes for a great dessert any time of the year, but especially during the heat of the summer, when the mere thought of turning on the oven becomes unbearable. It is delicious, and the best part is, that it is gluten and egg-free! If you wish to make this recipe dairy free as well, just substitute the Greek yoghurt with vanilla coconut milk  ice cream.

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We definitely have not made popovers very often, since living gluten free. Baking anything gluten free, presents enough challenges, but baking without the use of baking powder, or other leavening agents, seems daunting – to say the least – if not downright impossible.  Since Julia’s recipe does not call for any sugar, we were doubly encouraged to give this a try. Popovers actually reminded me of a dish I grew up with in Germany, called ‘Pfitzauf.’ It is a Swabian Southern German recipe prepared with a little sugar, and mostly served with a hot fruit compote. Many times my mother would make this  on a Friday for lunch, after coming home from school – a perfect finish to the end of a school week. When setting aside the ingredients for this recipe and looking for an appropriate baking pan, I also recalled that my mother used some kind of an oven proof earthenware dish, looking somewhat like this image, courtesy wikipedia.

It would have been kind of fun baking this recipe using her baking pan, but the thousands of miles that separate us from my home town make that very difficult. We didn’t want to use our trusted old muffin pan, and, instead, went to our local Target store and found a popover pan by Nordic Ware, which is manufactured here in the USA.

By the way, today’s recipe is being hosted by two very talented bloggers: Paula of Vintage Kitchen Notes, who hails from Buenos Aires and Amy of Bake with Amy. Both also feature the original recipe by Julia and Marion Cunningham.  If you already own the book “Baking with Julia,” by Dorie Greenspan, the recipe is on page 213.

As suggested in the recipe, all ingredients were at room temperature. We substituted the gluten flour for our own gluten free blend of tapioca and rice flour. Not knowing how this particular recipe would turn out gluten free, we decided to make two different batches, following the original recipe completely with the first batch (minus the gluten), and tweaking it slightly on the second go around, by adding a little bit of sweet rice flour, rice bran, baking powder, cheese and chives. In both batches, we substituted regular milk with coconut milk.

Given the depth of the popover pan, we were a little worried whether the batter would rise enough to even reach the top of the pan, but were pleasantly surprised when we discovered small little domes above each cup. For all of you gluten bakers, this seemingly tiny event may seem insignificant, but remember our recipe is completely devoid of all the usual gluten helpers that allow all  baked goods to expand. We are trying  hard not to be discouraged by all the other TWD participants’ magnificent ‘pillowy’, almost high rise like creations. While our primary goal when converting a recipe is always to recreate the flavor, texture and overall familiarity of a gluten recipe, we have learned to accept a certain amount of diminished height in the rising of  certain specialty cakes and bread. Still overall, we were pretty impressed with how this recipe turned out. Having only prepared it two times, definitely warrants further tweaking and testing in the future. With our second batch, we already noticed, that the addition of a little baking powder allowed the batter to rise noticeably  faster and higher than the first one. But we still need to experiment to see whether it was just due to the baking powder, or had something to do with the additional of the cheese. We’ll keep you posted.

It would have been nice to serve this with a freshly made cherry compote, the way my mother used to prepare it, but cherries are not currently available locally. Instead, we tested our first batch by serving it still warm with a little mango jam. The second batch, being savory, will be an accompaniment to our dinner tonight. Naturally, we taste tested one and it was delicious, with a perfect blending of the herbs and the cheese.

This is such a classic and simple recipe that we are sure many of you will want to try it out for yourselves.

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Inspired by our last visit to Paris, here is our recipe for our own favorite savory galette. There are truly endless ways of preparing a filling for these galettes, only limited by what you have available at the moment. Since we find ourselves in the midst of Summer, tomatoes and herbs are generally readily available. Alas, our own garden was not as productive this year, due to the excessive heat and complete absence of any rain. We could only add a few small tomatoes from our own garden and purchased the rest.

During our visit to Paris, the savory galettes were intriguing, reminding us somewhat of German Salzkuchen, a Swabian specialty in the Southwestern part of Germany.  This dish is by no means even similar to a galette, since the crust is made with a yeasted dough, except for the filling, which consists of sour cream, salt, eggs and herbs, sometimes found in the savory galettes offered in the patisseries of Paris. International cuisines tend to mingle in the close proximity of borders, that have happened to change many times over the  last couple of hundred years. Each region tends to lay claim to a particular dish, or method of cooking, when, in reality, memories tend to blur, and creative cooks draw inspiration from many areas, across borders and cultural boundaries. So many of our own recipes reflect this, in that they incorporate the best of our own experiences. Learning to prepare our own family meals entirely gluten free, we again had to draw inspiration from a multitude of different sources, incorporating the aspect of nutritional balance, and yet keep alive a sense of simplicity and fun.

This recipe reflects both the simplicity of preparation and cultural diversity in the ingredients used, and the combination of flavors created. This recipe is gluten free but does contain dairy. If this presents a problem, there is the possibility of using  plain coconut yoghurt, as well as any of the dairy free cheeses available to you.



  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. tapioca flour
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. rice bran
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. almond meal
  • 1 tsp. evaporated cane juice
  • 3 Tbsp. Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 7 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


  • 4-5 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • leaves of 2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 7-8 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • approx. 2 oz. mozzarella cheese, finely grated
  • approx. 2 oz. raw cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. Greek-style yoghurt


Place all the ingredients for the crust in a food processor and pulse until it forms into a ball. The dough will be very soft to the touch. This is normal.  Remove, cover in cling wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and slice the tomatoes and chop the herbs. Set aside.

Grate the cheese and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg and the yoghurt, and whisk to a creamy consistency.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a larger size cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Dust the parchment covered cookie sheet with a little rice flour and roll the dough out directly on the parchment paper, into an approximately 12-13 inch circle.

Place the shredded cheese and herbs on top of the dough, leaving about a 2-inch edge free. Top with the sliced tomatoes, allowing the edges to overlap in concentric circles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold in the edges of the crust over the outer edges of the tomatoes, making sure to smooth out any potential breaks in the dough where the filling could leak out. Now slowly pour the liquid egg/yoghurt filling over the tomatoes.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cheese filling has set.

Remove and let cool for about 5 minutes before cutting it with a pizza cutter. This makes four generous servings, if you are very hungry, and want to serve it as a dinner combined with a salad. This could serve as many as eight, i.e. as an appetizer, or as a small accompaniment to a meal.

Believe us when we tell you that this galette will disappear before your eyes, almost as quickly as you manage to slice it. It took extreme self-control to photograph it, since we made it on a day when all we had time to eat was a small breakfast that morning and this was dinner.

We served it alongside a large green Romaine salad, topped with shredded carrots, cabbage, small orange tomatoes, fresh apricots, sprinkled with a small amount of Parmesan cheese and tossed with a gluten free Balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Enjoy this simple, yet delicious, Internationally (German, French, Italian) inspired dish!

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This week’s participation in TWD called for a Berry Galette. We have been looking forward to making this recipe, since galettes can be easily converted into gluten free and offer a variety of options, both savory and sweet. In the past, we  created our own gluten free recipe, inspired by visiting Paris back in 2002, with its abundance of delicious food and patisseries around every corner. Of course, way back then, we did not yet realize the negative impact gluten had on our health (wow, this seems like a lifetime ago now?!). In Paris, we noticed that galettes are not just favorite desserts, but are acutally, more commonly, eaten as a lunch on the go. Many Parisiennes stop by their neighborhood patisserie/boulangerie to not only purchase their daily baguettes, but also purchase a favorite savory galette for lunch. We enjoyed versions made with spinach and cheese, tomatoes, herbs and cheese as well as some containing small amounts of meat. They are usually made in small individual sizes, serving just one person. These delicious treats are very clear in our memories as we recall our visit, but, sadly, we lack the pictures to share with you, since most of our film footage didn’t fair so well going through the airport security in place back then. X-rays do have a strong impact on even developed images, as we unfortunately found out the hard way.

Still, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to experiment with Julia’s/Flo Braker’s galette recipe to see how it compared to our own. If you would like to watch a demonstration of how to prepare these galettes, you can enjoy an episode of Baking with Julia, at this link. The original recipe can be found on the sites of this week’s hosts: Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness who outdid herself in this week’s TWD challenge, including beautiful photos of her picnic. Likewise, Lisa of Tomato Thymes in the Kitchen, is not to be missed, offering another beautiful take on her version of the recipe.

As we mentioned earlier, this recipe is fairly easily converted into gluten free. However, it is important to note, that you cannot use ice water in the preparation of the crust.  Even in leaving this out, the dough is very soft and malleable, perfect as it turns out, after watching the above video. We did use 1 tablespoon of coconut milk, so it is not entirely devoid of liquid, and we replaced the sour cream with Greek-style yoghurt, which lends it a beautiful flavor and enhances the consistency of the dough. Due to our other allergy to corn, instead of corn meal, we used and equal blend of rice bran and almond meal. This choice also allowed us to leave out any of the usual gums (xanthum or guar gum) used in gluten free baking, which is very welcome, and we are going to explore this combination and potential replacement of gums some more in the future. Outside of the obvious gluten free flour replacement, we pretty much stuck to the recipe, except for the choice of fruit.  Having an abundance of fresh plums and apples in the house, we chose to use them instead of the berries (which is offered as an option in the recipe itself).

Alongside this dessert recipe, we also made a savory galette for dinner, which we will be posting tomorrow, including our recipe. So if you are new to galettes, and need a recipe to follow, check back with us tomorrow.

Gluten free dough, as is many times the case, is a little bit more finicky, and  needs to be carefully folded to make sure it contains the juices from the baking fruit. Unlike making a pie, the filling in this recipe is a little bit more on the dry side, but, refreshingly, not very sweet – but sweet enough. Please remember, we never use white sugar and also did not use honey, an optional ingredient, in this recipe.

We were very happy with the outcome and will continue to make this in the future. The great aspect of galettes, is  the sheer unlimited number of ingredients you can add to a filling, and create surprising new flavors every time. You may be only limited by the Seasons, or the choices in your freezer.

Happy baking!

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For those of you expecting a new TWD recipe today (semolina bread), we chose to forgo today’s recipe, due mostly to excessive heat, making the idea of turning on the oven an unappealing one to say the least. However, we may redo it at a later time if the weather cools down. Also, unlike some of our previous experiments, semolina bread is much more difficult to convert to gluten free. No gluten free substitute flour will taste exactly like semolina, or comes even close. Since the general TWD recipe line up calls for two participations per month, and July happens to have three this year, we felt it would be okay to sit one out. Since much of the US is suffering under an incredible heat wave at the moment, we thought a recipe for an ice-cold drink, would be a welcome substitute.

In the past, while living in the Pacific Northwest, the sun always held a very special place in our lives, as it probably does for most people living there. At the slightest glimmer of the sun’s rare appearance, everyone rushes outside, even risking sunburn to bask in it. Here in the desert, the opposite tends to be true. Don’t get us wrong, we still love the sun, but it holds a much greater strength at our high elevation. Here, houses have wide overhanging roofs, smaller windows, and high walled gardens, all in an effort to shield from the sun. Outdoor Summer activities, by necessity, are approached differently, always with a concern for appropriate shade and hydration.

Like July 4th and barbecues, lemonade is one of the classic rights of Summer. We’re not big fans of commercial soft-drinks in general, but home-made lemonade is something that makes a great alternative. Making it ourselves also allows us to control how much and what kind of sugar is being used.

Loving the bright light of the New Mexico sun, lavender grows easily and blooms with the most beautiful flowers throughout the month of July. Its aromatic fragrance fills the air, and we wanted to capture its unique essence in our lemonade. Like many common garden flowers such as roses, nasturtiums, johnny jump ups, and marigolds, lavender is also edible, and makes a delicious addition to chocolate, drinks, and baked goods.

Lavender Lemonade

2 quarts, or 8 cups of purified water

6  organic lemons, juiced

1 organic lemon, sliced thinly

6 Tbsp. organic sugar

Fresh raspberries

1 Tbsp fresh lavender blossoms

Ahead of time, fill one ice-cube tray with purified water, and place one or two raspberries inside each section. Freeze for several hours, or over night. In a pinch, you can add fresh raspberries directly to the lemonade, and just use plain ice.

Juice 6 lemons, straining all the seeds. Fill a glass jar with two quarts of water, and add the lemon juice, lemon slices and sugar, stirring until completely dissolved. Finally, add the ice and raspberries, top with the lavender blossoms. Allow the lemonade to be infused with the flavor of the lavender, by placing the lemonade in the refrigerator for about thirty minutes. Stir a couple more times before serving in tall glasses. Enjoy poolside, or under the shade of a tall tree.

We are on a constant quest to stay hydrated, not always easy to do in the arid southwest, where the normal eight glasses of water a day are never enough. This lemonade really quenches the thirst, making it much easier to achieve  the balance we are looking for. Here is to a fun week ahead. Stay cool and hydrated.

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