Archive for December, 2009

Cinnamon Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted in baking, recipe on December 23rd, 2009 by Betsy – 1 Comment

As I head out for the holidays, I thought I’d leave you with one more delicious cookie recipe to add to your holiday baking.  Their name is a mouthful, but I promise that the flavors go perfectly together.

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I found these cinnamon ginger chocolate chip cookies on http://www.gfzing.com/ and I was immediately intrigued by the use of cinnamon and ginger in this recipe.  The recipe reminded me of snickerdoodles, but even better because they have chocolate chips!  I made some changes, but used the original recipe as my guide.  These cookies have been very popular among all of my gluten-eating friends and I’m making a big batch for the holidays.  David said this was a really good flour combination too so I might try it with some other cookie recipes to see how it works in my other baking endeavors.

I love the texture of these cookies because they’ve been rolled in sugar.  Yum!  I also tried refrigerating some of the dough for a couple of days and then using it to make a batch of cookies and it worked just fine.  The cookies came out a little smaller after their three days in the fridge, but the taste was still delicious!

Cinnamon Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies (From www.gfzing.com)

Ingredients;

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Flour Mixture (2 Cups)

  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¾ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup sorghum flour

Sugar for rolling dough

Preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine flours, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum.

In a separate bowl, with a mixer, cream butter, sugars, and vanilla.  Add egg and mix.

Add the dry mix to the mixer and blend with wet ingredients until blended.

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Stir in chocolate chips.

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Put sugar in a bowl.  Form 1-inch balls of dough and roll them each in the sugar.  Place on cookie sheet and flatten each cookie a little.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes on pan before transferring cookies to a wire rack.

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Enjoy!  These are a fun twist to your normal chocolate chip cookes.  For some reason, cinnamon reminds me of the holidays so I find that this recipe has a festive touch without being overly sprinkled or topped with gobs of icing.  Have a wonderful and healthy holiday.

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Cookbooks I Love

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21st, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

When we moved from Virginia to Atlanta this summer, we left a lot of our books behind in Virginia.  I could not bear to part with my beloved cookbooks though.  My cookbooks fill up the kitchen and pantry in our very tiny apartment.  My friend, Mary Stuart, couldn’t believe how many I own as she helped me unpack multiple boxes of cookbooks last summer.

I’ve learned so much from the pages of my cookbooks.  I feel like I know some of the authors personally, as I’ve made many of their recipes and read their thoughts and philosophies on cooking.  I even refer to them by their first names (especially Ina and Heidi) as I pull these old friends off of the shelf.

Are you looking for any last minute holiday gifts for a friend or family member?  I think cookbooks make great gifts as they are useful, and can reflect your interests.  I love how cookbooks have identities of their own, based on the writing, photographs, and personalities of the authors.  I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite cookbooks that I love using in my kitchen.  Who knows, maybe some day I’ll be asking you to buy my own cookbook!

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The New Best Recipe: Made by the folks at Cooks Illustrated, the authors of this cookbook experiment in their test kitchen to find the best recipe for many traditional favorites.  I’ve used the ‘thick and chewy’ chocolate chip cookie recipe as a guide to creating my own and I love their ‘oven fries.’  While there aren’t beautiful photographs in this cookbook, there are great illustrations for ‘how tos’.  The explanations are very clearly written and I love their discussion of why certain procedures and ingredients work better than others.  They explain everything from ‘shaping burgers the right way’ to ‘cleaning your food processor.’  I pull this cookbook off the shelf whenever I have questions about how to make something.  It’s a great guide in the kitchen.  The authors actually just came out with More Best Recipes this fall. I haven’t check that one out yet.

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Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking: This vegetarian cookbook has provided me with many delicious meals and ideas for vegetarian cooking.   Swanson also writes the blog 101 cookbooks which also offers great ideas in the kitchen.  I’m not a vegetarian, but this is one of my most used cookbooks.  I love her chapter titles, including, ‘Cook by Color’ and ‘Know your Superfoods,’ as opposed to the typical cookbook structure. Swanson writes a lot about using different grains, which is great for us gluten-free folks.  (I usually still have to make some substitutions but she has great explanations of different grains.)  Heidi’s Chunky Lentil Soup is one of my favorite winter dishes.  After the holidays, I’m going to make her ‘Do it Yourself Power Bars.’

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Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day: If you’ve been following Gluten Freedom, you know that this is one of my favorites and go-to cookbooks.  Founder and owner of Foster’s Market in Durham, NC, Sara Foster makes beautiful food with fresh ingredients.  Foster’s recipes are all ‘doable’ and cooks of all levels can find delicious things to make here.  She also gives tips on how to use leftovers to ‘reinvent’ new meals and provides ideas for which side dishes go well with her entrée recipes.  Some of my favorites include Foster’s ‘Red Wine Braised Chicken with Onions and Thyme’ and ‘pumpkin white chocolate chip cookies.’

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Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Frank Stitt owns three restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama.  His cookbook is beautiful and has many unique recipes.  His recipes tend to involve a lot of ingredients, so I might purchase Stitt’s cookbook for one of my more culinarily ambitious friends.  If you like southern food, this is a great choice.  I only wish I used this cookbook more, so hopefully you’ll see some of his meals on Gluten Freedom in 2010.

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The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook: Last but not least, is Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten.  Besides Joy of Cooking, this was the first cookbook that I owned.  I love all of Barefoot’s cookbooks, and yes, I own them all,  but this one is my personal favorite, maybe just for old time’s sake.  My sister-in-law, Heidi, introduced me to Barefoot Contessa through her Perfect Roast Chicken and it is truly perfect.  David and I have been referring to Barefoot for recipe ideas throughout the last 5 years.  I love pulling this book off the shelf because it’s stained with red wine and bits of food and reminds me of many fun and delicious meals created with Ina’s help.  Definitely a well used cookbook!

You might have noticed that none of these cookbooks are specifically gluten-free.  These chefs use many recipes that are naturally gluten-free and I’m yet to find a recipe in one of these books that I can’t modify some in order to make it gluten-free and still delicious.  Tweaking recipes just makes the kitchen that much more of an adventure!

What are your favorite cookbooks?  I’m always looking for new ideas and recipes so please share your top choices with me.

Holiday Baking with Nigella

Posted in baking, recipe on December 18th, 2009 by Betsy – 2 Comments

I love Christmas.  There are many parts of Christmas that I love, but three of my favorite parts of this holiday season are decorating the tree, making holiday cookies, and Christmas music.  David has decided this year that we should have a new holiday tradition that involves him putting the lights on the tree while I make cookies and then he eats cookies, while I put on the ornaments.  I’m happy with this ‘newly created tradition’ as long as we listen to Christmas music too!  Since the night of tree decorating, I’ve been baking a lot and exploring new cookie recipes, so I thought I’d share some of my cookie experiments with you.

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I recently received Nigella Lawson’s new Christmas cookbook.  This is a great seasonal cookbook with lots of great entertaining ideas, and I particularly like the section called ‘All Wrapped Up’ that has great gift ideas, many a which are gluten-free.  While there are definitely some naturally gluten-free recipes in this cookbook, I decided to dive right in and work on making gluten-free versions of her cookie recipes.  My first cookie recipe was Nigella’s cranberry and white chocolate cookies.

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These cookies make great holiday treats because they look like Christmas to me.  The red from the cranberry and white from the chocolate chips are festive but not too ‘Christmasy.’  I love the combination of dried fruit, chocolate, chocolate and pecans.  Trail mix in a cookie!  Even if you don’t like fruit in your dessert, I suggest giving these a try.  Everyone who ate these thought they were delicious, despite those who were hesitant about mixing fruit and chocolate.

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I kept Nigella’s recipe exactly as is but changed the flour mixture and added xanthan gum.  I don’t usually like nuts in my sweets so I didn’t use as many pecans as Nigella called for, but I will actually use some the full ½ cup the next time I make these cookies.  This recipe works well gluten-free because it only calls for one cup of flour, resulting in fewer components of the cookie needing to be altered.  These are great for a holiday party and can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for 3 months so you can make them in advance.  Enjoy!

Nigella Lawson’s Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup white rice flour
  • ¼ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup sorghum flour
  • ¼ cup soy flour
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup gluten-free oats (Nigella says to use ‘quick cooking oats’ but I just used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 stick plus one tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon GF vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup roughly chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Measure the flour, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and oats in a bowl.

Put the butter and sugars into another bowl and beat together until creamy.  (I used an electric mixer.)  Then beat in the egg and vanilla.

Beat in the dry ingredient mixture, then fold in the cranberries, chocolate chips and pecans.

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Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls with your hands, then place them on you cookie sheet and squish dough balls down with a fork.

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Bake for 15 minutes; when ready, the cookies will be too soft to lift immediately so wait 5 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack.

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What will you be baking this holiday season?  If you don’t have time or ingredients to bake, I’m still baking away and taking cookie orders.

Welcome, Sally’s Bakery!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17th, 2009 by Betsy – 4 Comments

Sallys Bakery Logo

Imagine walking into a bakery, smelling of fresh baked goodness, and actually being able to eat everything on display behind that glass wall?  For gluten-eaters, this is quite normal, but for those of us that are gluten-free, it’s a rare occurrence.  I’ve gotten used to walking into bakeries and other places with yummy treats, and finding my options limited to a cup of coffee or hot tea.  Good news, gluten-free Atlantans!  A new bakery just opened that provides customers with delicious, gluten-free food.

On Monday I had the opportunity to check out Sally’s Bakery, a brand new, entirely gluten-free bakery that just opened this week.  Located at 5920 Roswell Road, in Sandy Springs, this bakery was well worth battling Lenox Mall Christmas traffic!

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Sally’s Bakery is owned and operating by Sally Owings with the help of her brother, Taylor, mother and father.  Sally, Taylor and their mom, Bonnie are all gluten-free.  Sally and her mom have been baking in their kitchen ‘laboratory’ for years and friends finally convinced them that they should open their own bakery.  I’d like to thank those people because I’m thrilled to benefit from Sally’s entrepreneurial endeavors!  I got to meet the whole family when I stopped by Sally’s and they were all enthusiastic about their products and eager to serve Atlanta’s gluten-free community.

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The first Sally’s item I tried were her chocolate chip cookies.  Now I make my own chocolate chip cookies that I’m very proud of but Sally’s were equally delicious.  David, my resident gluten-eater, loved them too!  He even asked the next night if we could have them again for dessert.

In addition to the chocolate chip cookies, I also bought Sally’s Honey Nutty Bread and Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins.  The English muffins smell so good and taste just as delicious as their scent.  David and I ate them for breakfast and it is without question, the best ‘bread item’ I have eaten since going gluten-free.  I toasted mine and put cream cheese and Linden jam on my muffin.  It was pure gluten-free foodie delight!  Look at all of that cinnamon swirl goodness!

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On Tuesday night we ate the Honey Nutty bread toasted with leftover lentil squash stew.  It was a perfect simple, but hearty, supper for yet another rainy Atlanta night.  The bread’s texture was nice and it tasted delicious with honey and butter.  You could also use it for sandwich bread as well.  This bread was also a hit with my glutie, David.  I’ll be slicing up the remainder of the loaf and freezing the slices in zip lock bags for future use.

Sally’s labels clearly list all ingredients on the packaging and she is extremely knowledgeable about her baking.  Many of her products are dairy and egg free, and they are very helpful in guiding you towards the products that will best fit your dietary needs.

I didn’t buy one of Sally’s pizzas but she makes pizzas with a variety of toppings as well as two dairy-free pizzas.  (All of her crusts are gluten, dairy and egg free.)  Sally uses a pine nut pesto instead of cheese for her dairy-free pizza.  A creative idea instead of just covering the pizza with fake, dairy-free cheese.  I might be buying one of their dairy-free pizzas in the future simply because I love pesto!

Sally’s Bakery offers a variety of products, including the following:

  • Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins
  • Hamburger buns
  • Pizzas
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Banana Bread
  • Sandwich bread
  • Cinnamon Raisin and Walnut (C.R.A.W.) bread

I highly recommend checking out Sally’s Bakery.  As of now, their hours are 10-6, Monday through Friday, and 10-2 on Saturdays.  Sally does ask that if you have a particular order in mind, that you call a day in advance so that they can make sure to have what you want.  Even if you forget to call in advance, you should still go to Sally’s because they always have yummy items for sale.

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Let me know what you’ve tried from Sally’s and how you’re incorporating it into your gluten-free meals!

Sally’s Bakery- 5920 Roswell Rd. Suite 108A- Sandy Springs, GA 30328- 404.847.0211
Sally's Bakery - A Gluten Free Place on Urbanspoon

Savory Millet & Sweet Potato “Polenta” with Smothered Peppers & Onions

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15th, 2009 by Betsy – 4 Comments

I love meat but I’m trying to make a more conscious effort cook more vegetarian dinners in our apartment.  David’s not always thrilled about this idea, but I recently made a delicious dinner that stunned even David by how little he missed meat being on the table.

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One of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks is Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.  Berley clearly takes into account seasonal cooking, as each of his chapters contain sections for every season.  There are no fancy pictures in this cookbook but the food speaks for itself.  His combinations don’t necessarily go with my culinary instincts but the recipes still grab my interest, I experiment with them, and end up thinking they’re delicious.  Unfortunately, a good number of the recipes contain gluten and are difficult to modify, but it’s still a handy and useful cookbook, even for those of us that must avoid gluten.

Recently I made Berley’s Savory Millet and Sweet Potato “Polenta” with Smothered Peppers and Onions.  It turned out to be delicious and a very filling vegetarian meal.  This recipe is also great if you’re cooking for vegans or vegetarians.  Millet is a delicious gluten-free grain, with lots of nutrients and good flavor.  The two components to this dish (the polenta and smothered peppers) go well together, but the polenta by itself is delicious and the peppers would be great with gluten-free pasta or on a pizza.

Savory Millet and Sweet Potato “Polenta” (4 to 6 servings)

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped sweet potato
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup millet, rinsed and dried
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Smothered Peppers & Onions

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 to 5 bell peppers (yellow, red or even purple), cored, sliced into ½-inch strips
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Black Pepper

To make the polenta, warm oil in a heavy 2- to 3-quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sweet potato and onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent browning.  Add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the water, millet and salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring vigorously several times during the course of cooking to help release the starch from the millet and to prevent sticking.  Remove the millet from the heat when it’s soft and creamy.  (For me, this only took about 40 minutes.)  Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf.  Set the millet aside to rest, covered for 5 minutes.

Lightly oil a 6 to 8 cup baking dish.  Pour the polenta into the baking dish, smoothing the top with a spatula (like you would if you were putting brownie mix into a baking pan).  Set aside to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate uncovered, until fully set, about 40 minutes.  (I made these earlier in the day and just took them out of the fridge when I was ready to make dinner.)

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Meanwhile, prepare the peppers and onions.  In a wide, heavy sauté pan over medium heat, warm the oil.  Add the onions, bell peppers, and ½ teaspoon salt.  Raise the heat and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring to prevent browning.  Add the thyme, wine, and vinegar and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until the peppers are meltingly tender.  Uncover, raise heat and reduce the pan juices until they form a syrup that covers the vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Slice the polenta onto a cutting board and slice into ½-inch thick pieces.  In a heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat.  Fry the slices for 5 to 7 minutes per side, until crisp.  This might take a couple of batches.

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Serve the polenta topped with smothered peppers and onions.

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As you can see from the recipe, this meal is a bit of a process but it was perfect for putting together on a Sunday afternoon.  These cakes were a different way of using gluten-free grains and filled up our bellies.  We had lots of leftovers so I just reheated them throughout the week for lunch.  I would sprinkle them with a little parmesan cheese when I reheated the cakes.  You can also save some to fry later to make them crunchy and fresh when you serve them.

I would have taken more photos of the final product but right after I took this one, I spilled my glass of red wine all over our white carpet, breaking the glass.  Sadly, my lack of depth perception put an end to the photo session, but David was able to salvage our carpet.

Perfecting Pot Roast

Posted in cooking, recipe on December 14th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

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Have you noticed that in restaurants it’s becoming trendy to make gourmet versions of traditional foods such as mac and cheese, meatloaf and pot roast?  I’m still not a huge fan of meat loaf, but I’ve been inspired to try to make delicious, perfect pot roast because one of my favorite restaurants in Washington, D.C., Firefly, makes the most amazing mini-pot roast that I’ve ever tasted.  Every bite literally melts in your mouth.  It is quite possibly one of my favorite meals.  They also have a gluten-free menu with many other items, but I usually just stick with the pot roast because it’s that good.

I tried making pot roast last winter and it was a total failure.  Dry meat and mush vegetables.  No good at all.  Everyone politely ate it but I knew it wasn’t good because I had to eat it too!  Recently I went for my second attempt to make perfect pot roast and the final produce was a huge improvement.  Still not the best meal I’ve ever made but a huge step in the right direction.  At least this time people got seconds.

I used the recipe from Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day cookbook.  It’s relatively simple and easy to follow.  She uses carrots and potatoes, seasonally fresh veggies, as well as lots of fresh herbs.  I like her use of red wine in the liquids and of course I always love a reason to use the Dutch oven!

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“Mom’s Pot Roast” from Fresh Every Day

  • 1 3-pound beef chuck roast, at room temperature
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil (These are good for cooking at high heats, as opposed to olive oil, my usual oil of choice.)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 6 carrots, cut into two-inch pieces
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 6 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 to 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 pound small red-skinned or fingerling potatoes

Preheat oven to 325.

Season the roast (very) generously on all sides with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or deep, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  (I think the D.O. is the way to go for this recipe.)  Add the roast and sear to a rich, brown color, about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Transfer the roast to a plate and set aside.

Add the onion, 2 of the carrots and the herbs to the pot you cooked the roast in.  Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are light brown and the onion soft, 3 to 4 minutes.

Return the roast to the pan, add the wine and enough broth to nearly cover the roast, and bring to a low boil over medium heat.

Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and place the meat in the oven, roasting for 2 hours and 30 minutes.  Add the potatoes and remaining carrots and continue roasting for another 40 to 60 minutes, until the meat breaks apart easily and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.  (I actually put the potatoes and carrots in about 30 minutes earlier than the recipe said.  I don’t think you can overcook them.)

Transfer the roast to a shallow serving bowl and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.  Remove the herb stems from the pot.  Use a large spoon to skim the fat off the top of the pan juices, pour the juices and the veggies over the roast and serve warm.

Once you take the roast out of the Dutch oven, you want to serve it as soon as possible because it dries out quickly.  If your guests are running late, just leave it in the DO, in the oven, still soaking in the juices.

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Pot roast is best just served with the vegetables it cooked with and a simple salad.  As you can see, the pot roast wasn’t the most photogenic meal I’ve ever made, but still a good recipe for a hearty winter dinner.  I have room for improvement on this one, but definitely a step in the right direction.

Gluten Freedom’s Holiday Treats to Order

Posted in Uncategorized on December 9th, 2009 by Betsy – 1 Comment

Are you looking for a delicious gift for a gluten-free friend or family member this holiday season?  Are you hosting a family member with Celiac?  No worries!  Order your gluten-free treats before the holiday rush.

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All of my made from scratch goodies are made with certified gluten-free flours and quality ingredients.  Contact me at betsymetcalf@gmail.com if you would like to place an order or if you have any questions.

- Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies (with certified GF oats): $8/dozen

- Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies: $8/dozen

- Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Icing: $10/dozen

- Hearty Homemade Granola (w/ certified GF oats): $3.50/cup

- Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips or Golden Raisins: $12/dozen

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- Holiday Monster Cookies (with certified gluten-free oats): $8/dozen

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A Roasting Extravaganza

Posted in recipe, vegetarian on December 8th, 2009 by Betsy – 2 Comments

Roasting vegetables is a simple, and delicious, side dish to make and it’s naturally gluten-free.  I love roasting vegetables because the meal changes as the seasons change.  If you have a CSA or go to a farmer’s market, just pick up what’s fresh and local and you’re ready to go.  The only steps involved are scrubbing, chopping, tossing in olive oil and baking.  Beautiful on the plate and delicious!  Goes well with pretty much any meal or it can be a meal on its own.

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Our go to weeknight roasting vegetable is the sweet potato.  David sees sweet potatoes almost daily, but they’re just so fresh, delicious and easy!  On Sunday night, as we decorated our Christmas tree, I shook things up a little bit and added some other veggies to my roasting pan.  In between putting up the Christmas tree lights and the ornaments, we ate a dinner completely composed of fresh, roasted vegetables.  So delicious!

What did we roast last night?  Sweet potatoes (of course!), a variety of baby turnips, and sunchokes.  We also roasted romanesco cauliflower, as well as beets. A great meal and super easy cleanup!

Simple Winter Roasted Root Vegetables:

Select your desired vegetables.  For this recipe, I used baby turnips, sunchokes and two varieties of sweet potatoes.

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Preheat oven to 425.  Clean vegetables.  I didn’t even peel mine but you can if you prefer not to eat the skin.  Since mine were fresh from Crystal Organic Farm I knew that I didn’t need to worry about chemicals and the skins are so good for you!  Chop root veggies, depending on what size they are and how big you would like them.  The key is to have them all around the same size.

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Put vegetables on pan and drizzle with olive oil, about 2 tablespoons.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Last night I added fresh rosemary because we had some extra in the fridge that needed to be used.  Toss vegetables to coat with olive oil.

Cook vegetables for 20 minutes, then flip and cook for another 20 minutes.  Add more salt and pepper before serving.

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Roasted Beets:

I’ve developed an appreciation for beets in the last two years, thanks to my in-laws, Bob and Elaine, who grow beets in their garden.  Nothing beats fresh beets!  I enjoy them cooked and served simply.

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Preheat oven to 375.  Clean beets and cut off greens and long stems.  (Don’t peel them.)  Put beets on tin foil and drizzle with a little olive oil.  Wrap beets in tin foil.  Bake for 45to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the beets.  Remove from oven, let cool.  Peel beets.  (The peel should come off pretty easily when they’re done cooking.  Be careful, your fingers can turn purple as you peel!)  Slice beets or leave whole.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Other ingredients that go nicely with beets are goat cheese, walnuts, and balsamic vinegar.

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I used two varieties of beets, your typical beet that you find in a grocery store and the ‘candy cane’ variety.  You can see they’re red and white striped, like a candy cane!  Perfect for a night of Christmas tree decorating!

Roasted Romenesco Cauliflower:

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What a cool looking vegetable!  I love looking at it so I had to experiment with cooking with it.  You can boil romanesco or steam it just like you would regular cauliflower, but I decided to stick with the theme of the meal and roast it.

Preheat oven to 400.  Cut cauliflower into florets like you would broccoli or cauliflower and put on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat romanesco with olive oil.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, flip with spatula, and cook for another 10 minutes.

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Add ¼ cup of pine nuts  and 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese for the last 4 minutes of cooking.  Toss with a little red wine vinegar before serving.  (If you don’t feel like including this final step, the cauliflower is delicious simply roasted with olive oil too!)

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Since I made all three of these recipes in one night, I tweaked the cooking temps and baked everything at 400 and they turned out just fine.  You can judge how well you want your vegetables roasted.  I like a good brown crust on my roasted root vegetables so I keep an eye on them as they bake and just keep them in a little longer if need be.

So do you see a common theme with these recipes?  Vegetables and olive oil.  What more could you need?  Fresh, simple, delicious.  In one evening, we made a yummy, seasonal, vegetarian meal, put up the Christmas tree, and continued working on my ‘perfect chocolate chip cookie’ recipe.  Stay tuned for more details!

Entertaining Ideas: Turkey on the Grill

Posted in cooking, recipe, Uncategorized on December 7th, 2009 by Betsy – 1 Comment

Looking for ideas for a holiday dinner party that puts a unique spin on traditional holiday meals?  Turkey on the grill is a great way to liven up, and add more flavor, to an old favorite.

There were many things that were perfect about my Thanksgiving this year, but one of my favorite parts of our holiday weekend in Virginia was the turkey we ate at our Thanksgiving dinner.  We were inspired by Bon Appetit’s Grilled Turkey recipe and I must say this was one of the best turkeys I have ever eaten.  Turkey on the grill does not need to be reserved just for use on Thanksgiving either.  If you’re entertaining a large group of people for Christmas or New Years, cooking a turkey on the grill is a unique (and gluten-free!) way to prepare a turkey.  Logistically, cooking your turkey on the grill makes a lot of sense because it frees up the oven and makes more space in the kitchen, in general.  Also, it makes your ‘turkey dinner’ different from so many others and the ingredients in this particular rub, make the flavors much more complex and give a nice spicy kick to the meat.

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Now I wish I could take credit for the final product of this turkey, but I must give full credit to David as he worked with the bird from start to finish.  David prepared the turkey, made the rub, cooked it, carved it, and made the gravy.  I observed the cooking process and of course consulted David before writing this post.  A word of warning: Before you start your grilling marathon, make sure that you have a full propane tank.  Nothing’s worse than getting halfway through the cooking process and running out of gas!

Grilled Turkey with Toasted Fennel and Coriander and Fresh Thyme Gravy (from November 2009 Bon Appetit)

Turkey:

  • 1 12 to 14 pound turkey, rinsed and patted dry (Our turkey was 12 pounds.)
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, cut into ¾ inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into ¾ inch pieces
  • 3 medium parsnips, peeled, cut into ¾ inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh thyme
  • White wine

Gravy:

  • ½ cup reserved turkey fat (and butter if needed)
  • 2 to 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Turkey Preparation: Let turkey stand at room temperature 30 minutes.  Prepare grill for indirect grilling.  If using charcoal grill, light briquettes in chimney.  Remove top grill rack.  Place briquettes at left and right sides of bottom rack, leaving center empty.  Replace top grill rack.

If using a 3-burner gas grill (which is what we did), light burners on left and right, leaving center burner off. If using a 2-burner, light grill on just one side.

Toast fennel seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns in medium skillet over medium heat until fragrant and fennel seeds begin to darken, 2 to 3 minutes.  (This made our kitchen smell so good the rest of the day.)  Pour spices into spice grinder or small coffee mill.  Cool.

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Grind spices finely.  (We didn’t have a spice grinder or coffee mill so we just used a blender and it worked perfectly.)  Transfer to small bowl; mix in coarse salt.

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Brush turkey all over with oil.  Sprinkle inside and out with spice mixture.  Spread carrots, parsnips, celery, onion and thyme in a 13x9x2 inch metal roasting pan.  (We used two disposable pans, one inside the other, and this worked well.)

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Place turkey, breast side down, on vegetables.

Place pan with turkey on rack over unlit portion of grill.  Cover grill.  Insert stem of instant thermometer into hole in hood and maintain temperature as close to 350 as possible by opening and closing vents.

Cook turkey one hour.  Rotate pan.  Using oven mitts, turn turkey, breast side up.  Cover grill and continue cooking turkey until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh reads 165, covering any part of the turkey that seems to be browning too quickly with tin foil.  It should take another hour and a half to get to 165.

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Once during the cooking process, David injected the turkey with white wine.  This was not part of the original recipe, but it adds moisture and flavor to the bird.  I’m a big fan of the wine injecting method.

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Transfer turkey to platter.  Tent with foil and let rest 30 to 45 minutes, as the internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees.  Carve when ready to eat.

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Gravy: Strain pan juices into large measuring cup, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible.  Spoon off fat that rises to surface into 1-cup measuring cup and, if necessary, add enough butter to fat to measure ½ cup.  Add enough chicken broth to degreased juices to measure 4 cups.

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Heat turkey fat in large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Whisk in flour.  Cook roux until deep golden brown, whisking often, about 20 minutes.  Gradually whisk in broth mixture.  Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon, whisking often, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in thyme.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  (The gravy was delicious, but we ended up not needing nearly that much.)  Serve turkey with gravy.

Another great accompaniment to the turkey and gravy is a family tradition in our home of serving canned cranberry, sliced, on top of orange slices.  It’s nothing fancy, but yummy and pretty on the plate.

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The turkey was a huge hit at the dinner table and we even ate the veggies that cooked underneath the turkey.  The vegetables were very spicy from the rub, but delicious.  The rub made the skin of the turkey so flavorful and it added nice color to the turkey as well.

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We’ll definitely be making this turkey again, if David is willing.  The recipe appears pretty intensive but it did not take up the whole day, just a chunk of the afternoon/evening and David didn’t have to attend the grill the entire time, just checked on the turkey periodically.  Delicious!

Easy Snickerdoodle Cookies

Posted in baking, recipe on December 4th, 2009 by Betsy – 2 Comments

My friend, Kelly, threw this recipe together one afternoon for her toddler who is gluten intolerant.  Kelly sent it to me and I made them the next day.  So easy and even my gluten-eating friends said they taste like real snickerdoodles.  Pamela’s Baking Mix is a great item to have in your cabinet for days like this, when you don’t feel like creating your own flour mix.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup Pamela’s Baking Mix
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Additional cinnamon and sugar for dipping dough

Mix butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until blended.  Add egg and mix.  Add dry ingredients and mix.  Refrigerate dough for 10 minutes.

Make a cinnamon-sugar (1/4 part cinnamon to 1 part sugar) mixture in a bowl.  Make your dough into round balls and dip the dough-balls in to the cinnamon-sugar mixture before placing on baking sheet.

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Bake at 375 for about 8 minutes.  Mine were perfectly fluffy, yet crispy at the edges.

This is a great recipe if you need to make a large batch of cookies and they travel well because you don’t have to worry about melting chocolate.  Definitely satisfies my sweet tooth.

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Enjoy!