Category Archives: cheese

Carbonara – The Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Way

carbonaraI see Pasta Carbonara recipes on the cooking channels all the time. They look wonderful, creamy, yummy. It just always seemed complicated or too tricky. And, I don’t eat bacon, of course. But, that didn’t stop me from giving it a try and finding a fantastic, quick ,and decadent dinner. Trust me, it sounds strange if you haven’t tried it, or if you are a meat-eater and want to add bacon, go right ahead. I don’t think it’s missing anything without the bacon. The Parmesan gives it a salty, creamy texture and the eggs add a bit of protein and a hearty flavor. I used spaghetti, but go ahead and try it with penne or even fusilli if you like. I know I’ll be making this again since it’s so easy and comforting.

Veggie Carbonara, Gluten-Free Style

3/4 lb of gluten-free spaghetti (I used Trader Joe’s corn pasta, you can use what you like. I used about 3/4 of the bag)

2 eggs

1/4 cup half & half (maybe a little less, depending on how big your eggs are. Mine were on the small side)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 cup chopped broccoli and cauliflower

olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

1. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, salt the water and add the pasta, cooking for 8 minutes (or whatever the instructions are for the pasta you are using).

2. While the pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a sauté pan and add cauliflower and broccoli. Add a bit of salt and sauté until brown and softening. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, add eggs, half & half and most of the Parmesan and mix well with a fork. Add a pinch of salt/pepper.

4. Drain the pasta, reserving a bit of the water in case you need to soften up the sauce.

5. Here’s the important part—take the saute pan off the heat and then add the drained pasta to the pan. Coat with the oil in the pan, and then add the egg mixture, tossing to get all the noodles coated. The sauce will thicken up as the eggs set, but as long as it’s off the heat you won’t have scrambled eggs instead. If it’s too thick, just add a little bit of the reserved cooking water to thin it out.

6. Top with a bit more Parmesan if you like, and the chopped fresh parsley.

If you don’t have broccoli and cauliflower in your fridge (I had a small bag of mixed), go ahead and use zucchini or even sauté some carrots. The veggies don’t matter, you can even leave them out and just make it plain. You probably have a couple of eggs and a bit of half & half in the fridge. That really all you need, along with Parmesan and pasta. Be creative.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Filed under broccoli, cauliflower, cheese, cooking, dinner, egg, eggs, gluten free, pasta, vegetarian

Gluten Free Ciabatta Pizza

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Once again, I failed to plan for lunch and found myself famished while working. Improvising proved to be a good thing again when I created these little beauties. I grabbed a package of Schar’s Ciabatta rolls and sliced them into three thin slices. They are thick enough and make the perfect crust for an impromptu pizza. I just used two rolls and got six little pizzas, enough to share.

Gluten Free Ciabatta Pizza

2 Schar Ciabatta Rolls
3 TBS olive oil
Pinch of garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, basil
6 TBS marinara sauce
3 TBS grated Parmesan
6 TBS shredded Mozzarella

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix olive oil with spices in a small bowl
3. Distribute olive oil mixture evenly over bread slices
4. Bake rolls for about 5-9 minutes
5. Layer 1 TBS marinara, 1/2 TBS Parmesan and 1 TBS mozzarella on each slice
6. Broil on low for about 3 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Enjoy, and try to keep everyone from stealing these. I’m thinking about trying these for my next book club since they are so easy and so good. Maybe a bit of spinach next time?

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Filed under cheese, cooking, crust, dinner, gluten free, marinara, mozzarella, pizza, Pizza Crust, quick meal, vegetarian

Kinnikinnick to the rescue with a gluten-free pie crust

Pie. It’s just something I never thought I’d miss when giving up wheat. I was never a big pie eater to begin with. But when someone says you can’t have something anymore, you want it. Am I right? I have tried making my own pie crust before and it’s turned out pretty well, although I’m not a fan of taking all that time to make one. I was thrilled when I happened upon Kinnikinnick’s frozen gluten-free pie crusts at Whole Foods, and they were on sale. But at a regular price of about $4.99 for two 8-inch crusts, that’s not bad for the GF market.


I decided to make a Quiche first and give the crust a test. I made a simple spinach Quiche and it was a hit. The crust was flaky, tasty and not too strong. It really has a mild flavor for a crust, which to me is just what I want with a crust. A slight buttery flavor is good, as is a crust that doesn’t fall apart too quickly. It’s got to hold up to the filling, and it’s about the filling, right? The Quiche  consisted of one sautéed onion, Havarti and Jarlsberg cheese, frozen and thawed spinach, 2 eggs and 4 egg whites. That’s it. Just a bit of salt/pepper/nutmeg/thyme and garlic. I baked the crust first for about 10 minutes, then layered onions, spinach, cheese and poured in the egg mixture. Bake for 35 minutes at 375 and viola! Finally a Quiche with a crust.

And since that worked so well, I decided to try a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I used the recipe on the can of pumpkin (pumpkin, condensed milk, egg, sugar) and it was, once again, wonderful. Just a note, the recipe on the can of Libby’s pumpkin will make enough for two of these pie shells. Luckily, there are two in each box. Perfect.

Since you can never have enough pie, I also bought a fabulous cherry pie by Angel Cakes Bakery here in Phoenix. Angela makes the most wonderful pie crust of all, from scratch, and it’s gluten-free. Now, if I had my way that’s the only pie crust I would ever eat. But then I’d be calling her every week for more and I’d have to get a second job to pay for it. This was a treat and I highly recommend her cakes and pies. I’ve talked about her creativity and food before and I’ll continue to do so as long as she keeps baking. So, the dessert for the day was all set. What else do you need? Dinner, what dinner? What’s for dessert?

 

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Filed under allergies, baking, butter, celiac, cheese, cooking, crust, dessert, dinner party, gluten free, pie, quick meal, rice flour, spinach, Thanksgiving, vegetarian

Veggie-stuffed peppers

This is a quick and yummy meal that I thought up at the last minute. I was watching the Food Channel and saw someone making a traditional stuffed-pepper meal, meaning hamburger and bread crumbs. Uhm, not gonna work. But I remember loving my Mom’s stuffed peppers when I was a kid. So, with my daughter by my side, we came up with an even better, gluten-free, vegetarian version.

Quick and easy veggie-stuffed peppers

Veggie-stuffed Peppers

3 large peppers (I prefer red or orange since they are a little sweeter)

1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms

1/2 chopped zucchini

1 large sweet onion, diced

olive oil/salt/pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bag Trader Joe’s frozen Jasmine rice (about 2 cups)

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Oregano, basil (dried)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place olive oil, onions and garlic in saute pan and cook till tender. Add salt and pepper.

3. While onions are cooking, slice the top off the peppers. (when choosing peppers, try to pick out ones that will stand on their own.) Clean out the peppers and leave whole, placing them in a glass baking dish or pie pan so they stand on their own, then dice up the tops and reserve those for the filling.

4. Add peppers to the pan and saute till tender, then mushrooms to the pan and saute till brown.

5. Add zucchini last and cook for a few minutes until just tender.

6. Finally, add the rice, a bit more olive oil, oregano, basil, salt & pepper to taste. Cook until the mixture is warm and mixed well.

7. Fill each pepper halfway, then add a pinch of cheese (a little less than 1/4 cup) in each one.

8. Finish filling peppers and mound it on top.

9. Top off each pepper with another pinch of cheese.

10. Bake for about 30 minutes, then let sit for about 10 minutes. (These are piping hot inside and so good you’ll burn your mouth for sure.)

These can also be made with brown rice (which I didn’t have at the time) and any veggies you have hanging around in the fridge. It’s a great way to use up any leftover veggies, just saute with some rice and stuff a pepper. Enjoy!

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Filed under cheese, cooking, dinner, dinner parties, dinner party, egg-free, gluten free, mushrooms, quick meal, rice, squash, vegetarian, zucchini

I found the best GF pizza!

The good news is I finally found the best GF pizza out there and I didn’t have to make it. The bad news is that it’s in New York City and they don’t deliver this far. Last week in NY with my daughter, I ate my way through the gluten-free plates of the city and boy, are there a lot of them. If we lived in the city, my friends, we would be complaining a lot less about the quality, price, and taste of the gluten-free offerings out there. Seriously.

Yes, that’s gluten free. And yes, it was amazing!

Ok, that’s fine you say, but what about the pizza? I discovered Keste Pizza and Vino while searching the Internet for GF food. It’s a small place, so small you could miss it and walk right past it if you weren’t paying attention like we did. But it’s worth the walk, and worth the search, trust me. Mondays and Tuesdays are GF days for pizza, although they serve it all week. Mondays and Tuesdays, I was told, are exclusively GF to lessen the cross contamination. Sounded good to me, and since we happened to arrive in the city on a Tuesday, that was music to my ears. It was also egg-free, which made my daughter very happy.

The tiny storefront for Keste Pizza & Vino

The restaurant is tucked into a sweet part of Greenwich Village and conveniently right across the street from a gelato store. There are just a few tables, and I found out later that it can get crowded with a long wait, but we got there early and got lucky. The staff is wonderful, attentive and very friendly. We were seated and had menus and wine right away. Our friends had salads, which they said were very good. I was saving space for pizza.

We ordered a basic Margherita pizza to get the full, NY pizza experience and we were not disappointed. It was a full pizza size, not like the usual GF pizza which is so much smaller than regular pizzas (why is that anyway?) And at just $15 I was quite surprised, expecting NY to have a much higher starting price. After taking the first bite of the pizza, my daughter looked at me and said, “We’re gonna’ need another one.” She was right. I ordered two more…one for the table and one for the next day. The four of us devoured the pizzas much too quickly, but we had no control. The crust was chewy inside and crunchy on the outside, the sauce was slightly sweet the way it should be, and the mozzarella was fresh and melty. I’m still dreaming of it at night.

The cute store across the street, which I loved.

We opted out of the flourless chocolate cake to hit the market and gelato stand across the street. Now, I wish I’d had the cake, but I knew I couldn’t eat that much and I would have had no control. The saying, “Well, we’re only here for a short time,” seemed to give us carte blanche to eat anything we wanted, and as much as we wanted. I’m paying the price now, but it was worth it!

I highly recommend Keste Pizza & Vino and I know I’ll be back again and again, every time I have a chance to go to NY. I like to imagine I’m one of those super wealthy people who can order whatever they want and have it delivered, even if it’s cheesecake from Boston or bagels from New Jersey. I would order this, no question.

The pizza is just as good the next day, cold. We packed it in our bags and headed out to Central Park for a day in the sun. Perfect food to munch on in the city, don’t you think?

Stay tuned for the Mac & Cheese adventure in the East Village!

Perfection on a plate!

Cold pizza in Central Park. Just like the good old days, yum!

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Filed under cheese, crust, dinner, dough, mozzarella, pizza, Pizza Crust, restaurants, review, rice flour, Takeout Gluten-free Pizza, vegetarian, wine

My GF Pizza Obsession Continues at Detours Tavern

(NOTE: Detour Tavern is now closed…)

White pizza with kale, broccoli and mushrooms…YUM!

OK, once again we are back on pizza. I know, I know, you’re sick of me harping on the GF pizza quest. It’s my obsession to find something that comes close to real pizza, as you know. But trust me on this, it’s working. Last night, I got closer than I’ve gotten in a long time.

A dear friend invited me to dinner and said, “I saw gluten free on the menu, so let’s go.” Of course, that made me nervous, who knows what’s there and how they make it, right? But I always figure I can have a salad, and I’m touched that she thought of me and I love that she wanted to go with me.

Cut to a few nights later as we sit in Detours Tavern in Scottsdale. Not too much ambiance, more of a sports bar feel,  but not bad and it is clean. It used to be a Chinese restaurant that was anything but clean. So nice to see that gone at least. I checked the menu and noticed a few things I could order, but then noticed they had pizzas and a little note saying they had gluten-free pizza. Hmmm, after checking with the server, who assured me that they put the gf pizzas on a separate pan to bake and use separate utensils, I ordered a white pizza with kale, mushrooms and broccoli. One word-Wow! Thin, crispy, light, chewy, amazing. And it’s huge, not the usual tiny GF pizza that costs a fortune and isn’t worth the money. This did cost about $12, but it was totally worth it.

Of course, that meant I had to grill the poor guy for all the particulars. He said they get it from Sysco and he thought it was made in AZ somewhere. The owner wasn’t there and he said he’d call me with the information. Of course, I couldn’t wait for that so I checked on my phone and found out that Sysco has three GF pizza crusts available- Schar, Ener-G, and Pane Riso/Kingsmill. It didn’t look like the Schar crusts, which I’ve seen before. But all the options have no eggs or gluten, which makes them work for EF/GF Daughter. Yay.

Quinoa salad over raw kale

My friend chose the quinoa salad over kale. It’s filled with black beans, corn and more. Yummy! There was a light vinaigrette over the salad and mixed in with the kale, which was raw on the bottom. The quinoa flavor wasn’t masked by the dressing, which is sometimes the case with most restaurants. I’m getting this next time, if I can resist not eating another pizza.

And one thing this restaurant does is serve big entrees. We shared both and were stuffed when we were done. You could easily have shared with another person, but I’m sure glad nobody else was there.

I highly recommend this place for a relaxed, casual dining experience. There aren’t a ton of GF items on the menu, but what they have looks and tastes wonderful. They have a full bar and flat screens all over, so I’m guessing on game night it’s The Place To Be. My friend said their sweet potato fries were wonderful, but unfortunately they are fried in contaminated oil with breaded food. Only bummer of the night.

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Filed under allergies, black beans, broccoli, cheese, gluten free, kale, pizza, Pizza Crust, quinoa, restaurants, salad, Takeout Gluten-free Pizza, vegetarian

Gluten-free Quick Taco Bites

Wanting something quick and tasty for dinner? Company drop by and you’re stuck? Check your cabinets, you’ve probably got everything you need.

Gluten-free Taco Bites
1 bag Tostito scoops
1 can black beans
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
1 container Trader Joe’s Mango/Papaya Salsa (any salsa will do, but this is my favorite store-bought)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch salt

1. Place chips face up on a platter in one layer.
2. Drop a little cheese in each cup and microwave for about 10-20 seconds to just melt the cheese. (covering plate with a paper towel helps the melting to even out.)
3. Heat beans in a small pot with garlic and paprika. Add a little handful of cheese to thicken the beans.
4. Remove chips and drop about 1 tsp of the beans into each cup. Top with a drop of the salsa.

Enjoy!

These are great as appetizers, or do what I did and treat yourself to a plate for dinner.

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Filed under appetizers, black beans, cheese, company, corn chips, dinner parties, mango, papaya, quick meal, salsa, smoked paprika, taco

Summer Gluten-free Eggplant Pizzas

In the mood for something comforting, but not in the mood for a filling pizza or pasta? I was in the same frame of mind today when I spotted the beautiful eggplants in the market. My daughter was quick to point out that a little sauce and cheese would make a great “pizza” without all the fuss. Love that kid! A quick grill of the eggplant and dinner is served!

Gluten-free Eggplant Pizza

2 med. eggplants, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick round slices
1/2 cup marinara sauce (I use Trader Joe’s organic)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (or whatever cheese you like)
4-5 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp dried parsley
salt/pepper/garlic powder

1. Grill sliced eggplant with a bit of olive oil and salt until softening and grill marks show, but be careful not to let it get too soft. It’s going in the oven for a few minutes, so don’t overcook.

2. Place the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet. Top with a 1-2 teaspoons of marinara sauce and a bit of shredded cheese.

3. Sprinkle salt/pepper, basil, parsley and garlic powder.

4. Place pan under low broil until cheese is melted. Watch closely, you only need a few minutes.

Voila! These are tasty and so yummy. I don’t miss the crust at all. If you want to do the entire meal on the grill, just layer the slices on a sheet pan, put it back on the grill and close the door for a few moments to melt the cheese. That quick and no need to fire up the grill in the summer.

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Filed under cheese, eggplant, girlling, gluten free, marinara, pizza, vegetarian

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Experiment #4

Pizza Crust No. 4 is a Winner

If you’ve been following the blog, you already know that I’m on a quest to find the easiest, tastiest pizza crust to make at home. Yes, I know I can buy a frozen one quite easily, but aside from the astronomical costs of these things (I took out a home equity loan for a GF pizza party), I think the flavors are just not right. Either they taste like cardboard or they are overly seasoned to cover up the bean-flour taste. There has to be something out there, right?

So, continuing the quest with #4, I decided to find out if a simple, quick crust can be made. This time I had no recipe (yes, I threw away the bag already) and just went with it. I had one cup of Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust mix in a bag from a previous attempt that was just begging to be used. (I know I used this mix in a previous test, but it was mixed with another flour and I wanted to try it on its own.) The rest was improv, and wow, it’s in the top 2. This crust is light and crispy around the edges, slightly chewy toward the middle and has a mild taste. Daughter said it tasted better than numbers 1 and 3 and I have to agree. I think this one is my favorite for two reasons: It is the easiest by far and it has the most basic pizza crust flavor. I can see adding all kinds of toppings and it would work with all of them. You could even bake it with cheese first, then top it off with whatever you like. This made a large 10-inch round pizza with eight nice-sized pieces. It could feed two to three hungry people easily. This makes it the most cost effective also since there are at least three-four cups of mix in each bag.

Quick, Easy Pizza Crust
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt/oregano/basil/pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Add all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until blended well. Use a fork, it will get very thick. Knead it a little with your hands to smooth it out a bit.
3. Turn out onto a greased cookie sheet and spread it out with your fingers.
4. Cover the dough with wax paper and roll out to a pizza-crust thickness (about 1/4 inch). Don’t forget to create a bit of a crust edge with your fingers.
5. Bake for 10 minutes.
6. Cover with marinara, cheese, etc. and put back in the oven for 10 minutes.

The big difference in this recipe is that I did not use the yeast packet that came with the mix and instead added the baking powder. I have used yeast in two of the four crusts and aside from the fact that neither one has risen much, I’m not sure it adds much to the mix and I don’t like the flavor. The recipe also calls for water but I had a little bit of milk left and decided to give it a go. That was also a good choice. Daughter asked me to make this one again for dinner so I’m checking this one off as a keeper.

Next time, I’ll do this one with added Parmesan in the crust for flavor and a bit more saltiness.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Bob's Red Mill, cheese, dinner, gluten free, pizza, vegetarian

The Continued Quest for Pizza Perfection #2

The pizza quest continued last night with a valiant effort to make an even better pizza crust. Success and at such an early stage, I may just let this go to my head.

Comments from the two teens who were taste testing were: “This is awesome,” (this one included a high-five), “This is better than the one you buy at the store,” and my favorite was, “You should definitely make this one again.”

Very wet pizza dough

This gluten-free crust is brought to you by King Arthur Flour, which is also nut free and soy free (and Kosher). I used the pizza crust picture here, and of course I felt the need to doctor it up a little. (You know I can’t resist, dear chef.)

In short, just use the directions on the back of the box (eggs, oil, yeast, warm water). I added a tiny bit of cider vinegar (1 TBS), 1 tsp each of salt, garlic powder, dried basil and dried oregano.

Directions on the box allow for it to rise once in a bowl for 30 minutes, then once again after you spread it out on the pan. Hint: This is more very thick cake batter rather than pizza dough. It doesn’t spread well unless you put some olive oil on top and spread it out with a spatula. Don’t even try to roll it out, you’d be wasting your time. But don’t let this scare you. I was a bit nervous at first, but it turns out just fine. As you can see in my photo, it’s a pretty wet mixture. And although it said to let it rise 30 minutes, it didn’t rise at all after this. Don’t know what I did wrong, or if the yeast was old, or maybe it wasn’t warm enough in the kitchen. Who knows.

Bake the crust first, then top it and bake again for about 10 minutes, just enough to melt the cheese and warm whatever you want on it. For this experiment, all pizzas have just marinara and mozzarella. We’re trying to keep the playing field even. (As much as possible.)

The result is a chewy crust with a light flavor. It’s firm enough to hold in one hand and eat like a slice of pizza, which was a pleasant surprise judging by the state of it before it was baked. It was much better than the biscuit crust from the prior night, although that was still very good. This had more of a pizza-crust texture. I was disappointed that it didn’t rise more and I think it would have been even better if it did. I’ll be making it again and hoping for a better rise. Could just be the cold, dry Arizona desert.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Let me know here, or head over to the FB page.
Enjoy!

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Filed under cheese, gluten free, King Arthur Flour, pizza, vegetarian