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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

Directions:

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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