Sunday, February 28, 2010

Product Review: Whole Foods' 365 Gluten-Free Baking Mix

This is the first of maybe a couple, maybe many, product reviews. I decided to do this for the simple reason that when I find something good, I want you to know about it. This month, I made a batch of Valentine Swedish Butter Cookies for the gluten-challenged members of my family who seriously miss having them at Christmastime. The cookies turned out great. They were a bit more crumbly than those made with wheat flour, but there was no compromise in flavor. Plus, you can't beat the conveniece of an all-in-one mix. If you are familiar with gluten-free baking, you know the time, effort, and money involved in finding all of the ingredients required for recipes like this one. This 16 oz. package was about $4 and contained exactly, and I mean exactly, the amount necessary a single batch. After measuring out what I needed for the dough, there was still a bit left in the bag for rolling and cutting. The only drawback was that the dough got super hard in the fridge, and needed some serious kneading before I could even think about rolling it. Overall, I give it a 5-star rating. Take that for what it's worth considering that this is the first batch of gluten-free cookies I have ever made. : )

Oh, and the frosting was the perfect use for that pink, gel food coloring I had sitting in my cabinet after the Red Velvet craziness.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

I have been roasting potatoes for a while. Get a few Idaho baking potatoes, dice them up, give 'em a toss in some oil and sprinkle with any combination of herbs and spices. Super easy and pretty delicious. But, when I came across the cute little container of baby gold (Yukon Gold) potatoes in the produce section I was inspired to put a twist on the old staple. Gold potatoes have a distinctly creamy, buttery flavor that other starchy and waxy potatoes lack, and the cute little baby ones are sweeter too. Try them, try them Sam I am! (Dr. Suess' b-day is just around the corner.)
Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
barely adapted from Ina Garten

I whisk the olive oil and spices together in a bowl before prepping the potatoes. This way the garlic and rosemary can begin to infuse the oil with their flavor. I would definitely recommend doing this if you use dried rosemary, as I did. The addition of the red pepper flakes gives it just a hint of heat.

1 1/2 pounds baby gold potatoes
2 Tbsp. good olive oil
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves or 2 tsp. dried
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
2. Cut the potatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Dump the potatoes on a baking sheet and spread out into 1 layer; roast in the oven for at least 1 hour, or until browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking to ensure even browning.
3. Remove the potatoes from the oven, season to taste, and serve. 

Besides using baby golds, I am pretty sure these taters came out better than any previous batches because I never cooked them long enough and I used to use a glass 13" x 9" pan. Roasting in a glass pan? I know, I know...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Coleslaw with Citrus Vinaigrette

I seem to get asked all kinds of weird questions about food. "Do you want a cabbage?" was a new one. A friend accidentally purchased a green cabbage mistaking it for a head of iceberg lettuce, and had no use the the crucifer. So I took it (a. because I didn't want it to go to waste, and b. it gave me a chance to be creative with something I had no intention of cooking with anytime soon), and made this lovely salad for the Superbowl party that we would both be attending. I don't know about anyone else, but we certainly enjoyed it-by the plateful. The dressing is a slight adaptation of a recipe from Bahama Breeze, one of our favorite restaurants. I just love it when restaurants post recipes on their websites and they have a bunch. There are however two different recipes on their site for "Citrus Vinaigrette," but I chose this one because I already had all of the ingredients and I thought it would be better for a coleslaw. The other one calls for creole seasoning, a flavor I really wasn't looking for for this.
Coleslaw with Citrus Vinaigrette
by me, with some help from Bahama Breeze


1 green cabbage, shredded
3 c. shredded red cabbage, most of a 10 oz. package
2 carrots, grated
1-1/2 c. diced red pepper
4-5 green onions, finely chopped, about a 1/2 c.

Citrus Vinaigrette

1/2 c. White Wine Vinegar
1/4 c. Orange Juice, fresh squeezed
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice, fresh squeezed
1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Mustard
1 Tbsp. Fresh garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt & Black Pepper, fresh ground

1. Combine vegetables in a large bowl.
2. To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a blender and process until thoroughly blended.
Vinaigrette can be made a day in advance and kept refrigerated.
3. Dress the coleslaw and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

This was much better the next day after the cabbage had a chance to soak up the dressing and soften up.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Whole-Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Well can't you see that it's just raining
there ain't no need to go outside...
But Baby, You hardly even notice
when I try to show you
this song is meant to keep ya
from doing what you're supposed to
like waking up too early
Maybe we can sleep in
I'll make you banana pancakes
pretend like it's the weekend now
-"Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson

These lyrics swim around my head every time I make pancakes for a weekend breakfast. I highly recommend sleeping in and making these pancakes. They turned out to be exactly what I was hoping for. Simple, comforting flavors, incredibly delicious, and healthy. I wouldn't change a thing! The extra prep time soaking the oats is well worth it, and gives you time to slice up some bananas or strawberries or pour yourself another cup of tea-which I am developing a particularly obsessive habit of.
soaking oats
Whole-Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
swiped from Gourmet

3/4 c. quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 c. plus 2 tablespoons well-shaken, low-fat buttermilk, divided
3/4 c. whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
Accompaniment: sliced bananas (Yes, please!!!)

1. Soak oats in 3/4 cup buttermilk  for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Stir egg, butter, brown sugar, remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, and oat mixture into dry ingredients until just combined.
4. Heat a griddle over medium heat until hot and lightly brush with oil. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle and cook until bubbles appear on surface and undersides are golden-brown, about 1 minute. Flip with a spatula and cook other side, about 1 minute more. (Lightly oil griddle between batches.)

In addition to bananas, we had sausage with our pancakes. "Hot and Spicy" pork sausage for Dan and MorningStar veggie sausage patties for me, which I tried for the first time, and also highly recommend especially since they're wrapped perfectly in little 2 packs.  Please, try these pancakes. You won't be disappointed and you'll want to have them at your next brunch or even for a quick dinner.

Monday, February 1, 2010


In college, especially my first 2 years, I wasn't exactly what you'd call a "joiner." I would drive out to school, go to class, maybe the library, and then head home. There was, however, one event that I made sure never to miss: Global Fest. It was a day long celebration of world cultures through the arts and food. Each student organization would plan a demonstration or display and provide a variety of foods. As you might imagine, the food lines went out the door. There was so much food it was incredible. We had tacos and quesadillas from the Spanish Club, quiche, brie, and escargot from the French Club (which I joined later), along with chow meins, fried rice, curry, kabobs, falafel, hummus-you name it. It was my first real exposure to Middle Eastern cuisine, and I have not been able to get enough since. Dan and I would routinely order carry-out after class, and a fattoush salad was almost always part of the order. Now I make it myself from time to time because it's just so easy there is no reason not to. The only special ingredient you may not already have is the sumac, which can be found in specialty markets, some well stocked grocery stores, and online from suppliers or cool little stores like Penzey's.

adapted from an unknown source, and not very exact at that

4 c. chopped romaine lettuce, about 1 small head
1 seedless, english cucumber, chopped
2-3 roma or vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
1/2 c. finely chopped parsley
2-4 green onions finely sliced
3/4 to 1 tsp. ground sumac
2 pieces of pita bread - we used whole wheat here
1/2 green pepper, chopped (optional)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Break pita bread into small pieces and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted and the edges are golden brown.
2. In a large bowl, mix salad ingredients with toasted pita.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over salad and serve immediately.

This recipe makes a conservative amount of dressing. We don't like our salads dripping with dressing. I have even made it with only 2 Tbsp. each of oil and lemon juice. So feel free to scale it up a bit with 1/4 to 1/2 c. of each. This salad is also exceptionally delicious topped with crumbled feta cheese.