All posts in Gluten Free

Eggplant Cannelloni

ok, I get it, this is not really cannelloni.  The only true similarity between this and cannelloni is that tube shapes are stuffed and baked- plus lots of tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Anyway, my version is healthier, vegetarian and gluten free! wooohooo!

My girlfriends and I try and get together once mid-week for a girls night.  This week, we decided to stay in at one of our houses and have a potluck.
My girlfriends and I are all healthy foodies, meaning we loooove good/whole food (none of that processed sh*t) lots of seasonal veggies, eating out at new SF restaurants, and we especially enjoy the cuisine of all cultures.  With that said, a lot of my girlfriends choose to eat vegetarian for health, animal rights and environmental reasons.

I actually was not a big fan of this eggplant cannelloni, I don’t like mushy food, I like my meals to have a crunch and some texture.  Everyone loved it though, so I thought I’d share it anyway.
I used Quinoa for the filling instead of ground meat (keeping it a full protein too).

2 globe eggplants, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup ricotta (full fat)
pesto and sun dried tomatoes (store bought is fine)
Chili flakes
1 Jar of tomato sauce
Fresh basil chopped
Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375
Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil and place the eggplant in a single layer
Brush both sides with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt
Roast for 10 minutes, flip the slices over and switch the pans in the oven
Continue roasting for 6 minutes
Let cool
Meanwhile, combine the quinoa, ricotta, pesto sauce and chili flakes to taste
Pour a little sauce into the bottom of your baking dish
On a clean surface, roll th eggplant around 1/4 cup of the filling
Arrange neatly in the baking dish
Top with tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and fresh basil
Cover with foil
Bake for 1 hour.
Remove the foil and continue baking for 15 minutes
Let rest for 15 minutes before serving
Top with fresh basil and cheese.  An arugula and radicchio salad would be perfect served along side.

Buon Appetito!

Holy Sweet!

Here’s the Scoop:

The Flavor is Vanilla
Oreos are my Childhood Favorite
Smothered with Skippy is my Guilty Pleasure 

I was introduced to this amazing Oreo Skippy combination by a friend when I was feeling a little blue…

I’ve been wanting to reinvent my Oreo Skippy obsession for some time now and that’s when the Ice Cream Sandwich idea came to mind!  
I made the cookies gluten free.  
Believe me, no one can tell, they are HEAVENLY
Wrap them in parchment paper, tie with baker’s yarn and store in the freezer. Could last at least a month in the fridge, but chances are, you’ll finish them in a week!
Gluten Free Cookie Recipe Adapted Here
I added about 3/4 cup of cocoa powder and a couple tablespoons of milk to moisten them a bit

Buckwheat Pancakes with Honey Rum Pecan Sauce

These little guys are somewhere between crepes and pancakes.  The recipe is for crepes though they didn’t spread and thin out like crepes should.  So I kept them tiny like little pancakes.

I’m not sure what inspired the rum with breakfast this morning, but it sure tasted good.  For the sauce I simply mixed 1 part rum to 2 parts honey and heated on the stove for a bit until well combined.

Toast chopped pecans at 350 for about 5 minutes

Recipe inspired here
1 1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 t salt
2 eggs
1 cup Buckwheat Flour
2 T Butter Melted
Put the milk, salt and eggs in a bowl and whisk well for 30 seconds
Add the flour and melted butter
Mix for a minute
Refrigerate for one hour before using
Heat a pan over medium heat
Add about a 1/4 cup of batter at a time
cooking for about 1 minute on each side


Honey Almond Cakes

When life hands you eggs, split them!

Last weekend I made LemoCrème brûlée for 8 people and hollandaise sauce for my brother, leaving me with a hell of a ton of egg whites!
There was no way I was going to let a hen’s hard work go to waste, so whether to use the whites or not was not a question.  Thinking of how to use them though got me very excited!
I have been wanting to make the little French tea cakes called financiers for quite some time now, and they call for only egg whites, how perfect.

I looked up a ton of recipes and combined a few to make my own amazingly moist delicious, sugar/gluten free version!
I have to admit, I am very proud of how well these turned out!!!

  Not to mention, they are as cute as can be! 
I baked half the batch with slivered almonds sprinkled on top.
This is a good option too, especially if you want to make these to bring somewhere.

These are so easy to make, you don’t even have to get out your mixer.
I used a ton of almond extract by accident because it came out really quickly! But it ended up making them taste amazing!

1 1/2 cups Almond flour or Almond meal (I used a combination of both)
1/4 Gluten Free baking flour
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup Honey
6 T Butter, melted
1 T almond extract
1/2 cup egg whites

Preheat the oven to 350
Combine the flours and salt in a bowl
melt the butter and add the honey, mix well to combine
Add the honey mixture to the flour mixture and whisk
Slowly pour in the egg whites, mixing well after each little pour
Add the Almond Extract

Line mini cupcake pans with papers
Add a tablespoon of batter to each paper
Bake for 15 minutes
Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before allowing them to fully cool on wire racks.

Yogurt Honey Topping:
Mix plain Greek yogurt with honey.
wow did I even need to say that?

All week for breakfast I enjoyed baked egg whites and spinach in ramekin,
 topped with cherry tomatoes, avocado and feta- delish.


Squeeze In One More Summer Lunch

Photo courtesy of Downtown Romantic

First, I must explain my recent 3 week disappearance… My best friend from Milan touched down in SF for a great 2 week visit.  We were so busy sight seeing and eating, I didn’t get a chance to stay connected.
We managed to eat out at some great San Francisco hot spots, play an American game of Sloshball and even party in LA for the weekend.  I will soon share some of the great recipes and meals enjoyed along the way, but for now, here is one dish that was inspired by Cecile’s Milanese-ness!
Risotto… famous in Italy and it is no wonder why.  It is rich, creamy and incredible satisfying. Risotto is always a crowd pleaser and perfect served anytime of the year made with what ever happens to be in season!
With that said, when I was asked to cater a small birthday lunch, I knew a Summer Risotto must make its way onto the menu.

I’ll post the recipes soon, but for now here is the Risotto recipe courtesy of my cousin who volunteered her afternoon to help me in the kitchen.  Helane was home visiting from New York where she works for in Fashion Media and when feeling inspired writes on her blog

Summer Lunch Menu:
To Drink:
Mint and Strawberry Lemonade (spiked with vodka if you are feeling up for it!)
Light Bites:
Melon, Prosciutto and Manchego
Summer Squash and Zucchini over Pesto and Feta Puff Pastry
First Course
Crab Cakes topped with Herb Aioli on a Bed of Lamb’s Lettuce (recipe)
Summer Risotto (recipe)
Something Sweet
LemoCrème brûlée 


Quinoa Tabbouleh

All the times I enjoyed tabbouleh in Greece and Turkey this summer, I thought, “how nice would this be made with quinoa as oppose to bulgur”

Well, quinoa has yet to find its place on shelves in Turkey, but it is available anywhere rice is sold here in California.  I assume always use quinoa in a recipe that calls for a grain.  Not only because it is gluten free but it is also a complete protein, making it the ideal grain for vegetarians.

I added chickpeas and stuffed into heirloom tomatoes (sorry no pic) and garnished with lemon zest and a mint leaf for a light lunch
For dinner, omit the beans to keep it as a side dish, serve along grilled salmon and and asparagus, oooo and lots of lemon zest! Perfect!

Serves 6 side or 4 main
1 cup quinoa
1 large cucumber, chopped
3 tomatoes, seeded and cubbed
2 cups parsley, finely chopped
1 cup mint, finely chopped
1 can Chickpeas, rinsed well

Lemon Dressing:
1 lemon, juiced
1-2 garlic cloves, to taste, minced
3 T good quality olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Cook the quinoa.  set aside in a bowl, even in the fridge, to cool completely.
Whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside

Meanwhile, prepare all the vegetables.

Toss the quinoa with veggies with the quinoa and gently toss with dressing
Season with sea salt and pepper
Garnish with lemon zest and whole pretty pieces of mint


Pick Me Up Rice Pudding

When you’re feeling a tad down in the dumps, there’s nothing better than a little warm creamy sweetness to get your happy pheromones jumping :o)
Rice pudding does the trick
I’m in Turkey and midway through my month long hiatus from reality (aka work and responsibilities) when I started feeling a little anxious.
The thoughts like, “What the hell am I doing?  I can’t just leave for a month? I have a life back home, emails to return, clients to cook for, responsibilities, bills to pay” started haunting me.
We had plans to go horseback riding in an hour and I knew I needed to calm my nerves before hopping on a horse.
At this point my stomach is turning, though I hadn’t eaten all day, and the only thing sounding appetizing is a bowl of creamy rice goodness.
Luckily for me, this is a specialty in Turkey and sold at every corner bakery.

1/2 cup short grain pudding rice (I used sweet rice) rinsed thoroughly under running water
8 cups full fat milk
1-2 t vanilla extract
2 T rice flour
*Get creative with this: chopped nuts on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Use coconut milk and sprinkle with shredded coconut

Place the pudding rice in a deep, heavy pan, pour in enough water to just cover the rice and bring to the boil.
Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5-6 minutes, until the water has been absorbed
Pour in the milk and bring to the boil, stirring, then lower the heat and simmer until liquid begins to thickens
Add the sugar, stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in the vanilla a simmer for a further 15-20 minutes
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400
In a small bowl, moisten the rice flour with a little water to make a smooth paste
Stir in a spoonful of the hot liquid
Add the rice flour mixture to the pan of rice, stirring all the time to prevent lumps
Once the liquid has thickened a little, transfer the mixture to a large ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the pudding is lightly browned on top
Remove the pudding from the oven to cool, allowing a skin to form on top

Bodrum, Turkey

Cals: 365, Protein: 12, Carbs: 50, Fat: 13


Chickpea Balls

On mine and Mindee’s first night on Sifnos, Greece, we had a wonderful dinner at O Argiris in the port of Kamares.
We started our dinner with chickpea balls and a Greek salad followed by melt-in-your-mouth slow cooked lamb called Mastelo, all Sifian Specialties!

Chickpea balls are similar to falafel only not as spicy.  Falafel is made with cumin and coriander where chickpea balls call for fresh herbs and potato 

This recipe was adapted from a cookbook written by a Greek woman living on the island that does just about everything…. from wedding planning, dance lessons, ceramic classes, hike tours and cooking classes.  The cookbook is not very specific with ingredient measurements and cooking times… which just goes to prove the easy-going, laid-back mentality of the Greeks :o)

1 part chickpeas
1/2 part potatoes, boiled and peeled
1/2 part onions chopped
Parsley, dill, marjoram, mint
2 garlic
Red wine to kneed
Flour to roll in and oil to fry

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a blender
Put into a large bowl
Add a little wine at a time and kneed to combine
Roll about 1 heaping tablespoon
Roll in flour
Set aside
Fry about 5 at a time in oil
Drain on paper towels

Our view from the restaurant 

Gorgonzola, Caramelized Onion and Apricot Chutney Flat Bread

Savory gorgonzola and sweet apricots make a heavenly combination

My friend Kate from Seattle (we met 3 years ago while living in Thailand) came to visit for a couple of days and on her last night here we had a Sex And The City, Wine and Flat Bread Marathon.
Kate is a great cook (enjoying healthy foods like me!) and so fun to be in the kitchen with.  We also made a Margarita with Eggplant (a specialty of hers) and a Pesto with Fresh Tomatoes (a specialty of my mom’s).
Partially inspired by sipping wine while cooking, we’ll credit our healthy appetites to the 3.5 mile run across Golden Gated Bridge earlier that day :o)

This is an amazing combination worth trying on a panini or served in bowls along side crackers for an appetizer.  I don’t eat pork but I just thought of another good idea: apricot glazed pork tenderloin, thinly sliced, caramelized onions spooned over and blue cheese crumbled on top, serve hot and melting.  Maybe sprinkle with fresh thyme to add some color.  Oh, you could use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for an incredible rich and flavorful dinner entree.

Flat Bread, I used Udi’s Gluten Free
Chevre Cheese
Apricot Chutney (recipe here)
1 t olive oil
1 Sweet Onion thinly sliced
1 T brown sugar
1-2 garlic cloves chopped
Gorgonzola or another stinky blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 350
Make the caramelized onions:
Add the oil and onion to a heavy sauce pan (not too big)
Cook slowly over medium heat for a couple of minutes
Add the brown sugar and garlic
Spread a thin layer of chever of the bread
Followed by chutney
Caramelized onions and crumbles blue cheese
Sprinkle with good salt
bake for 15 minutes

Margarita Eggplant, with Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil and Tomatoes 
 A favorite of mine while growing up:
Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and Sun Dried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Basil, Feta and Parmigiano 


Lemon Torte

I have been craving lemon poppy seed cake… 
…so when my friend’s mom, Rosco, gave me a bag of Meyer lemons from the tree in their backyard, I was more than anxious to get home to my cookbooks…

Rosco is so loving and generous and insisted that I take home with a bag full of lemons.  This recipe only takes 4 lemons and I can not wait to try more recipes with the remaining 20 something lemons!
Serve along side bowls of whipped cream and fresh berries.  Simply whip heavy cream with a little sugar and lemon zest.  I used one of those little hand held, battery operated, frothers that are used for milk in your coffee.  Light and easy to transport to a friends house and simple to clean.

I’d hardly say I adapted the recipe from Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights Cookbook
I changed it around to make it a bit healthier (in my opinion) and ended up with extra batter.  This actually worked out for the better.  I filled 2 little dishes with the remaining batter and was able to enjoy a sample size for myself before bringing the torte to a friend’s house the following day.  It would have been painfully difficult to look at this torte on my counter for a day and not be able to try it!

I substituted honey for sugar.  1 cup for 1 cup is the same in recipes.  Though, you want to pay attention while baking that it does not brown too quickly (honey will do that).  Also, I added a 1/4 t of baking soda to neutralize  the acidity from the honey

1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup honey
6 eggs separated
3 lemons, zest and juice (3/4 cup juice)
2 cups blanched almonds, ground
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 baking soda

Preheat 400
Grease and flour a 9 inch springform pan

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside 
Cream the butter and honey

Add egg yolks one at a time, while dropping the whites into a separate large bowl
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form
Add to the butter mixture
Fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture with a spatula
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes
(with a cookie sheet on the rack below incase batter drips through the springform pan)
Turn the oven down to 285 and cook for another 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

When using honey instead of refind sugar you need to adjust cooking times and temps.
If you use sugar:
bake at 300, not 285
bake for 40 minutes not 35
you will not use baking soda

 cornmeal gives this a nice texture and makes this gluten free
 Cool completely on a rack before removing it from the tort pan

Almond and Coconut Berry Tart

I’ve been waiting for an excuse to experiment with coconut flour and coconut butter for some time now.
So, when my friends and I decided to take a trip to Tomales Bay to BBQ oysters, I thought, “What better opportunity?  If I happen to not like oysters, I’ll still have an entire tart to enjoy!”
Well, I happened to love BBQ oysters, especially the butter and hot sauce smothered on top (check out the BBQ here)

Not only is coconut flour gluten free, but it’s high in protein and fiber too.  Coconut butter is a good substitute to cow’s butter if you are looking for a vegan option.
Coconut flour and honey make this delicious dessert vegan and gluten/sugar free!

For the Crust:
2/3 cup Almond Meal (our almonds ground to a powder)
2/3 coconut flour
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut butter

For the Ganache:
12 oz good quality chocolate chips
1/4 cup coconut butter
3/4 cup almond (rice or coconut) milk

Preheat the oven to 350
Butter a spring tart pan
In a food processor combine the crust ingredients.
Do not over process, it will look a little dry, that is fine
Pour the mixture into the pan and press firmly down
Bake for about 7-10 minutes until lightly brown

Meanwhile make the ganache filling
In a double broiler melt the chocolate chips
Remove from the heat and add the butter and milk
mix well until well incorporated

Pour the chocolate ganache mixture over the crust and return to the oven for 15 minutes
allow to cool completely on a wire rack
Add berries
Top with shredded coconut (optional.  After I did this I thought it looked a little silly.  But it is a nice reminder to the eaters that coconut is incorporated in the crust and chocolate ganache too!)
I let mine sit over night on on a cooling rack and in the morning added the berries.
I added one nice line of berries along the border, pressing down a bit to hold them in, and then filled it in a little more casually.   I like food to look and more natural and not so uniform and perfect, but it’s up to you.  A mixture of berries would be lovely too.


Green Curry

I am currently obsessed with Thai Curry!  What’s better than a big bowl of warmth with a bit of a kick!?

I have started making curry daily for lunch AND/or dinner.  I have discovered that using almond milk, as oppose to coconut milk, gives the nice creamy texture without all the fat that comes with coconut milk.

The vegetable, grain and protein combinations here are endless.  Really, once you get the hang of making it, you can pretty much use a combination of whatever is in your fridge and pantry to make a wonderful curry.
I will give the recipe for this combo because I happened to photograph it, but I’ve made many and will list other possible combinations below

Serves 2
3/4 – 1 cup of a cooked grain (use your Basic Grain recipe that you should always have ready and on hand)
2 T Thai Curry Paste (red or green)
Handful of edamame beans
Handful of Snap Peas, cut crosswise
Handful of Cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 Baby Bok Choy, roughly chopped
2 Cups Almond Milk or one can Coconut milk

In a sauce pan, combine your grain, beans and peas, curry paste and about 2 T milk.
Saute for awhile so the vegetables really get a chance to cook in the curry and absorb the flavors
Add the remaining milk and bok choy
Simmer partial covered for a few minutes or until vegetables have reached desired tenderness

If you are making your grain at the same time, do not add it to the curry.  Simply pour your warm curry over your warm garin.  I mixed my grain into my curry because it had been in the fridge and needed to be warmed.
If you are using a meat, add it to the pan during the first step with the curry paste.
My Other Favorite Ingredients:
Shredded Carrot
Any type of beans
Japanese Eggplant
Can easily be doubles, tripled…  You really can not mess up here… So simple and delicious!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding

 This delicious bread pudding was inspired by my mom’s famous french toast.  She would soak cinnamon raisin bread in eggs, vanilla and milk overnight to really allow the flavors to come together and the bread to get nice and soft.  I have many memories of waking up to the smell of sweet cinnamon aromas coming from the kitchen

Top with toasted pecans and powdered sugar
Honey Pecan Butter I made is served along side (recipe)
The best thing about this breakfast is that it can/should be made the night before.  So, like the Savory Breakfast Cake (recipe) I made, this is a perfect dish to serve a crowd for brunch because all the work is done the night before, all you have to do is pop it into the oven 30 minutes before guests arrive.
I used gluten free cinnamon raisin Bread and this cinnamon bread is dangerously delicious too!

I thought it would be fun to make another pudding in a spring pan.  If you do not own one, don’t sweat it, a casserole dish will work just fine.  But, it sure is nice to own one!

About 8 cups of cubed Cinnamon Bread
2 cups milk (almond, soy…)
5 eggs
1/2 cup Apple Sauce
1/2 cup Raisins
1 cup Apple quartered and thinly sliced
Vanilla and Cinnamon to taste (I use a lot!)

Preheat the oven to 350
Spray the Spring Pan
Soak your cubed bread in milk
Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl
Add the bread and milk to the egg mixture
Pour into your prepared pan
(transfer to the fridge to soak overnight, optional)
Bake for 35-40 minutes
Allow to cool before running a knife along the outside and transferring to a platter.
Meanwhile, toast chopped pecan or almonds
Top with nut and powdered sugar right before serving


Comfy Cozy Breakfast for the “wait, what, it rained last night!?” kind of morning

Ok, the pros and cons of not having a television:
Pors: Obvious
Cons: will it rain or shine?

I woke up this morning to the smell of wet pavement.  Yes, I do love this smell, it brings me back to childhood for some reason, but, come on, it’s April!

My plan was to head to my favorite neighborhood cafe, Crave, order a Cafe Au Lait and work on my computer for an hour or so…
But, I think I’ll stay in this morning…

Ingredients to make a perfect Comfy Cozy Morning:
A warn bowl of gooe and coffee covered in foam!

Warm bowl of gooe
Yields 2 serving
1/3 cup Quinoa
1/3 cup Oats
1 1/5 cups Almond Milk (or what ever you have)
cinnamon stick
1 t vanilla extract
1 T ground flax seeds (optional)
2 T Pecans (or any nuts yo have on hand) toasted and chopped
drizzle of honey

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a sauce pan
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat to a simmer and cover
Cook until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes
Divide evenly in 2 bowls
Top with extra milk, honey and nuts

There is nothing more blissful than warm foam touching my lips!
I recently discovered how to make FOAM at home and have been walking on sunshine since!

Heat your milk in a small sauce pan
Pour into a french press
Pump vigorously

This was only about 1/4 of the way full, the rest you see here is the magical foam


ingrained in your memory…your Basic Grain Pilaf

Actually, there is not even a recipe for this post!
The point is, we need to always keep cooked whole grains on-hand in our fridge!
The first step to eating healthy:
Stock your fridge with healthy,  pre-made (by you) foods!
There are many verities for grain pilafs, my favorite is quinoa 
with this rice medley I buy in bulk (brown, red and black)

Having this on hand will keep you from turning to processed foods like toast for breakfast, croutons on your salad at lunch or pasta with your fish at super.  And it is always available and ready to eat, which mean NO work for you! And, it can keep in the fridge for days!

I know we all complain about “not having enough time to cook”… well, you can’t use that excuse anymore!

For example, you can use your already made Basic Grain Pilaf for:
Cook with eggs in a frying pan (2 minutes)
Heat up in a pot with milk, cinnamon, vanilla, raisins and almonds for porridge (2 minutes)

Throw on your salad (timeless!)
Mix with bean and wrap in a tortilla (1 minute)

Throw into your soup instead of pasta (I do this with Thai curry too yum yum)
Put in a baking dish with white wine, top it with fish, rosemary, tomatoes, capers etc and bake

If you know that you will be using your Basic Grain Pilaf for savory dishes only, substitute the water for broth and even cook up a chopped onion in the pot before adding the rice.
This will really add a lot more flavor.
I usually choose to make mine with water (and no onion obviously) so I can have the option to make porridge in the morning too

Get creative with your combinations, portions and quantities of each grain.
Combinations I enjoy:
Millet and Quinoa
Rice and Amaranth