Friday, January 9, 2015

Cranberry/Orange Muffins√


On Sunday we went to the Edible Plant Project's Nursery out at Crazy Woman Farm to help Michael's on his last day before he heads South for 6 months.

I took it on myself to tidy the huge unwieldy mess of pots. Four years of leaves had fallen onto and into it and created a delicious mulch in all its nooks and crannies. All kinds of worms and ants were frolicking in the mulch and at the bottom of the biggest pile I found these on one of the supporting beams that had half-composted back to the earth.


Gabriella brought delicious naturally fizzy fruit and herb drinks... Norm brought tangerines picked that morning from his tree and I brought some scrummy gluten- and dairy-free muffins. 

There's often a volunteer who can't tolerate wheat and another who can't tolerate dairy but the eggs are a must for lightness. And protein. So they aren't vegan. Using half white rice and half brown rice flour makes the muffins less heavy and gritty than they would be with brown rice flour alone. Adding a bit of potato starch lightens the crumb! 

This is such an easy recipe it almost makes itself. If you are in a terrible hurry you can save time by forgetting about the zest (it'll be less orangey if you do) and throwing in the cranberries whole in which case you'll want to measure a few more.

Set the oven to 350 degrees and start by zesting the orange and halving the cranberries.

  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup grapeseed or sunflower oil (i.e. a light vegetable oil)
  • ¾ cup orange juice 
  • 1 cup fresh, halved cranberries (or 1½ cups whole berries)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange zest (or more or less to taste)
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
Spoon into a muffin tin (the cups should be about ¾ full) and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean). Cool on a rack for as long as you can bear to wait.
We ate ours with Roasted Fig and Lemon Jam I had made earlier this summer when I was engaged in mortal combat with a local squirrel who had scattered half eaten figs all over the yard. I picked the rest and made a big pot of jam.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Lentil Pâté√

Three months ago Shirley had a brilliant idea ... to throw a big party for all our friends who had gotten married that year. All 10 couples. It seemed like a great idea at the time and actually it was the best party ever, the most joyous. The couples were all gung-ho but we hit a road block when it came time to the catering. The local restaurants and caterers were just too expensive for our lean budget. So muggins here said 'I'll do it'. And I did - with a lot of help from my friends who chopped and grated and cracked eggs and sliced for days. Oh and washed up!

Carol chopped 20 lb of yellow onions and didn't cry at all. Shirley chopped a pound of green onions and cried like a baby. Lori washed and chopped leeks and shallots and herbs and goodness knows what else. Shirley sliced potatoes and goodness knows what else. Janet cracked hundreds of eggs and a bunch of jokes and measured and mixed for hours.

I made 6 Lentil Pâtés as the main protein for our gluten-free and vegetarian friends. They loved it. So did the carnivores! 


This Lentil Pâté is a delicious, inexpensive, easy to cook, vegan, gluten-free, protein- and iron-rich appetizer!

I garnished it with pomegranate seeds for fun and brightness and a zesty crunch ... if pomegranates are not in season a sprinkling of finely chopped red and/or orange and/or yellow bell peppers will do the trick.

The follow recipe will make one small-ish 'loaf.'
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 can coconut milk + ½ can water
  • 4 oz onion - diced
  • ½ oz fresh garlic – roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • ½ oz fresh finely chopped ginger
  • ¼ tsp mustard seed
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Melt the onion and garlic in the oil for 5-10 minutes - until translucent and light brown. 
Add the ginger and mustard seed and heat for a minute or two – until the room starts to perk up!
Add the garam masala and turmeric and stir for another minute.
Add the lentils, the coconut milk and the water.
Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring from time to time to make sure they aren't sticking. Add a little more water if it gets too thick. 
Once the lentils are cooked through (are nice and soft) turn off the heat and cool.
Throw into the food processor with the salt and the lemon juice and pulse well but don't overdo it.
Pack into a bread/loaf pan that has been lined with saran wrap. If it ends up too thin to set into a ‘loaf’ scrape into a bowl and serve as a dip!
Let it chill in the fridge for a good 12-48 hours or longer.
Turn out and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds 
Serve with pita bread or chips or any kind of veggie cruditées etc. 

A few words about lentils
Lentils come in all colors and sizes, from orange and green to brown and even black. I get mine from the Indian Supermarket where there's a plethora of choices. I have yet to cook the black ones but am dying to try them out.

Lentils shouldn't be cooked with salt as this can mysteriously stop them from cooking all the way through. I don't like my lentils al dente so I add the salt right at the end. 

Orange lentils are great for soups - they cook fairly quickly and make a delicious winter soup with lots of seasonal veggies. They are also great for thickening and adding flavor and color to any soup - I add 'em at the beginning so that they break down and become a background 'note.'

Lori and Shirley brought some Yellow Lentils back from Turkey and I used the last of them in a soup that I made with a base of rich turkey (!) stock and mostly yellow or orange vegetables: carrots, squash, corn - and potatoes.  

I brightened it at the end with a huge handful of chopped parsley and garlic chives. 

The little round, dark green lentils (the French Lentils de Puy) are brilliant as a side dish with any kind of meat. Cook them with as much butter as you dare and some finely chopped onion and garlic. Add a little thyme for flavor. Once they are cooked add salt to taste. I sometimes add carrots as well - cubed small. I add them 10-15 minutes before the lentils are finished cooking so they don't turn to mush. At other times I will cook these divine little lentils with olive oil (instead of butter), onion, garlic and half a Moroccan preserved lemon chopped fine with some Harissa for a spicy 'North African' treat!

Mass catering note!
For the intrepid who are cooking for a party here are the quantities for 6 large 'loafs'. They fed 230 people with only one loaf left over. Of course there was lots of other food on the table - this was one of 8 or 9 appetizers. These amounts made a subtler version than the one above - it wasn't quite as spicy. I would add more ginger and garam masala next time. 
  • 8 cups lentils
  • 32 oz. diced onion
  • 4 oz. chopped garlic
  • 2 oz. chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 3 tbsp. garam masala
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • 3 cans coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cans water
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 6 tbsp lemon
Shopping note!
In Gainesville my favorite Indian supermarket is the one on 34th and Archer (next to Goodwill). They have a fantastic variety of grains and beans and lentils and spices and the owner and his son are always happy to weigh in on recipes:
I get preservative-free coconut milk from the Citizen's Co-op:
India Bazaar is a popular Indian restaurant or grocery store serving Indian food and is located at 3314 Southwest 35th Blvd , Gainesville, 32608, USA - United States of America | 352.271.7571 - See more at:

India Bazaar is a popular Indian restaurant or grocery store serving Indian food and is located at 3314 Southwest 35th Blvd , Gainesville, 32608, USA - United States of America | 352.271.7571 - See more at:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Blueberry Muffins√

For New Year's Eve Brunch Shirley, Mary and Karen came to tank up before we all went for a 5 mile walk. I threw together a Spanish omelet made with a mixture of greens from the garden, orange juice from a mixture of oranges and tangerines from our friends gardens - and some divine wheat-free muffins.

They take 15 minutes to throw together and 10-15 minutes to cook.

Set the oven to 425 degrees then ...

Mix the dry stuff
  • 3 cups flours (1 cup chick pea flour, 1 cup fine rice flour, 1 cup ground almonds)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. soda
  • ½ cup soft brown sugar
  • zest from one large orange
Mix the wet stuff:
  • ½ cup light vegetable oil (grapeseed or sunflower are perfect)
  • 1 ¼ cups yogurt (low fat is good)
  • Juice of one large orange (1 cup)
  • 3 eggs
Mix the wet stuff into the dry stuff and add:
  • 2 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen - they don't need thawing)
Bake in muffin top tins at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes or muffin tins for 15-20 minutes. Muffin tops are brilliant - you get nice, light, thin muffins packed with berries ... I also have heart-shaped silicon 'tins' that make pretty muffins for special guests!!!
The muffins are done when nicely risen and golden brown.
Cool for a few minutes then devour as is or slathered with butter and blueberry jelly!
  • The chickpea and almond flours add protein and minerals.
  • The rice flour adds lightness.
  • The original recipe that this one is based on uses vanilla essence but I think it's overkill.
  • The original recipe also used 1 cup of sugar - too sweet for me
  • The original recipe used way more baking soda (3 tsp.) and less eggs - I hated the metallic taste and kept experimenting until I got a light muffin with a great taste!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rice Pudding√

This is not your average rice pudding

1 cup of short grain, brown rice (organic if poss)
4 cups of water

simmer gently until all water is absorbed then add

2 cups of milk (whole or 2% or almond or coconut etc.!)
1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon (or your favorite spice)

simmer gently until the rice is really well cooked
brown rice does not go into a mush and there should be some liquid around the rice i.e. it shouldn't be dry
you can add another cup of milk and simmer it again for a softer rice with more 'sauce'!

add a sweetener ... my favorite is a cup of maple syrup
you can use honey or brown sugar ... adding more or less to taste or mixing them!

bring to a boil and turn off the heat
beat 3 large eggs until fluffy and strain them into the rice pudding stirring continuously as you do so and for a couple of minutes afterwards
the heat in the pudding will cook the eggs gently and make a divine custardy pudding
if you leave the heat on the eggs will curdle

you can eat the pudding as is - it will last a good week in the fridge and is a brilliant way to start the day (all 3 logs!)
sprinkle some toasted coconut, seeds and/or nuts on top for added texture and nutrition

you can ring the changes by adding one of the following
- 1 cup of pureed pumpkin (a flavorful, non-watery one like butternut or seminole)
- some fresh or dried apricots or prunes (chopped or pureed)

feel free to let me know of any other delicious variations that you come up with!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup√

In October I went to Bristol to be with my son Daniel, my daughter-in-law Abby and their beautiful, one week old baby girl - Amelia Freya - my first grand-daughter.

I took care of the shopping, cooking and washing up so that Daniel and Abby could get to know this new little person in their lives without having to worry about feeding themselves as well.

My kitchen frenzies were altogether gentler during that time ... quieter so as not to wake the baby but also as a gesture of respect to Daniel and Abby's beautiful new kitchen since I am naturally a messy, untidy cook at best. I noticed a slower pace also because my kitchen slave did not accompany me on this trip so I had to wash up as I went along.

Amelia is a precious little pixie who is gradually getting the hang of life outside that snug, convenient womb. For those first few weeks she was annoyingly wide awake in the middle of the night when everyone else wanted to sleep. We thought we might rearrange 'visiting times' for friends and rellies - having them come at midnight to play with the baby while we all slept!!!

Daniel, Abby & Amelia (one day old)

One particularly fine frenzied day I made a big pot of bolognese sauce, two monster meat loaves, a coconut lime drizzle cake and this bright, velvety soup. I made enough of everything to feed us with variations for a good couple or three meals with plenty left over for the freezer for rations after granny went home!!!

The soup is deceptively easy - it positively zings with flavor. It is particularly welcome to be reminded of the summer sunshine when the autumn leaves are crunching underfoot.

Tomatoes (nice red ones)
Red peppers (nice red ones)
Olive oil
(Fresh lime juice)

You'll need a bag of tomatoes and one of red peppers
The quantities and weight don't matter - the bags should be roughly the same size
If you make a smallish soup you can make it all in one pan
I always think this is a mistake - it doesn't take much more time or energy to make a huge pot of soup that will last at least 5 days in the fridge and/or freeze beautifully.

Wash and dry the tomatoes and the peppers and peel the garlics

Cut the tomatoes in 4 (or 8 if you use big beefie toms) and place them skin side down in a large, shallow baking pan - don't smash them all up against each other
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
Cut the peppers in 2, pull and shake out the seeds and place them skin side UP on another pan (they don't need anything drizzling over them)
Place in a Very Hot Oven (450/225) - the peppers on the top shelf to start with - for 20-30 minutes - the skins should brown and even burn a bit
Pull them out once they have started to blacken

Throw a handful of peeled garlic cloves (you can never have too many) over the tomatoes
Move them to the top shelf and bake for another 15 minutes (until the garlic has started to brown)

While the tomatoes are cooking peel the blackened skins off the peppers
They will come off easily - you don't have to remove all the skin
Throw them into a blender
Add a cup of water (or stock) to the pan and 'deglaze' any juices in the bottom or sides
Add to the blender and blend until completely smooth, until the skins are completely liquidated!

Pour into a large pan or bowl
Once the tomatoes and garlic are cooked cool them a little then throw them into the blender
Add a cup of water (or stock) to the pan and 'deglaze' any juices
Add to the blender and blend until completely smooth, until the skins are completely liquidated!
Add to the blended peppers and add salt to taste.
Add the juice of 1/2 - 1 lime
This is not an essential ingredient and no one should be able to taste it but it does potentiate all the other flavors in a deliciously mysterious way.
If the soup is too thick then add water or stock until the texture is just right - not too thin, not too thick
Serve as is - it really doesn't need anything else.

If you must you can serve with a drizzle of olive oil, or basil or chilli oil, or a dollop of sour cream and some chopped herbs (basil or chives or parsley).

Bon appetite!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pantry Pie√

The trouble with a biggish pantry is that it's too easy (for me) to fill up. With all sorts of items that I might need one day. With 2 or more of something I can't buy at Publix ... that I picked up in an Indian grocery store: chick pea or lentil or rice flours, tins of alphonso mangoes, lime pickle, poppadoms ... 3 bottles of my favorite olive oil that were on sale ... or whatever. There are items that have been there for a year ... or longer. I have been hanging on to a bottle of clam juice and a tin of clams for making a clam chowder for at least 3 years. That's ridiculous. Our freezers have a similar disease. I am terrible at labeling things with either the contents (left over soups for example) or the date. Every now and then I defrost something and occasionally I never figure out what it once was. One of my (everything but the) Kitchen Sink Soups maybe ... a curried something or another ... a completely unidentifiable ice cream.

It really is counter-intuitive of me to be doing this at the height of summer ... when there's an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, but this week I decided we are going to eat out of the fridge and the pantry and the freezer until they are all lean and I can scrub them all clean. Today I made a great start with an unexpectedly successful sour cherry custard tart made almost completely out of pantry items ... and 3 fresh HennyPenny eggs.

The pantry items:
An Arrowhead Mills Graham Cracker Crust

A can of pitted sour cherries and a can of sweetened condensed milk

HennyPenny are still pullets and their eggs are about 1 1/2 oz. each
2 regular eggs would be fine.

Set the oven to 350

Open both cans.
Strain the cherries carefully ... shake them to get as much of the juice out as possible but don't squeeze or press them ... and leave them in the sieve over the bowl to drain a little more.
Crack the eggs into a bowl and add half the can of sweetened condensed milk.
Whisk like crazy then add the cherry juice and whisk again.
It seemed very liquidy and I panicked momentarily - all for naught since it thickened nicely without any additional agents.
Sprinkle the cherries into the pie crust and pour over the cherry custard.
Cook for 40-50 minutes.
Test it by pressing with your finger - it should be soft and springy ... if there are any wet cracks leave it a little longer.
The custard was silky smooth, the crust still intact (not soggy) and the sour cherries deliciously bright in every bite.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gazpacho Dos Colores√

Lori and Shirley came to dinner this evening and since they are so fond of gazpacho I decided to try out a new version on them. It was a triumph: delicious, refreshing and colorful.

Let's face it gazpacho is a trumped up salad. Finely chopped it's a labor of love to prepare. Blended it's a salad you don't have to chew but the red and green blended together make for a muddy result - or the often-used day-old bread dulls any remaining bright colors. I decided to deconstruct it and make it in two parts - one green and one red ... and to serve it carefully to preserve the colors ... and to let my guests play with their soup - mixing the two parts ... or not.

The green gazpacho is fabulously delicate and smooth with just a little spice from the jalapeno (add more for a spicier soup). The red soup is fresh and light with a spicy finish from the garlic. The two complement each other beautifully and the garnish adds some welcome texture.

This gazpacho was such a spectacularly healthy way to start the meal that I ate the skin from the roast chicken without one shred of regret. Lori and Shirley's signature fruit salad ended a meal jumping in summer antioxidants!

Green Gazpacho
1 ripe avocado: half, remove seed and peel
1 English cucumber: wash and roughly chop
1 large green pepper: wash, de-seed and roughly chop
1 jalapeno pepper: wash and de-seed
1/2 cup chicken stock (or water) - or none for a thicker soup
1 small lime: juice
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Blend the avocado, cucumber and peppers with the chicken stock
Pour into a bowl.
Stir in lime juice, olive oil and salt (be careful not to over-salt - start with 1/2 tsp.)
Cover and chill in the fridge for a good couple of hours.

Red Gazpacho
4-5 large, red, ripe tomatoes: wash and roughly chop
2 large red peppers: wash, de-seed and roughly chop
4 large cloves garlic (6 small cloves): peel
1/2 cup chicken stock (if your tomatoes are watery omit the stock or drain the tomatoes after you cut them)
1/2 small lime: juice
1 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste

Blend the tomatoes, peppers and garlic with the chicken stock
Stir in lime juice, olive oil and salt (be careful not to over-salt - start with 1/2 tsp.)
Cover and chill in the fridge for a good couple of hours.

Small bunch of scallions: clean and chop finely
Parsley (or cilantro): wash and chop finely

A note about the blending
We own a Vitamix blender ... it has a 2 horsepower engine and will blend absolutely anything to a pulp in seconds. Both parts of this soup should be super smooth ... if your blender cannot cope with the skins of the peppers (and/or the cucumber) then you will need to roast and peel them first.

To Serve
Serve the soups on the table each with a ladle and the garnishes in separate bowls with spoons.
I couldn't work out how to serve them in a yin/yang shape but I got close!
We devoured it with fresh bread and some good, cold butter.

Optional Extras
Pour over a drizzle of very good, fruity or peppery olive oil.
Sprinkle over a little red wine, sherry or balsamic vinegar.
Serve with a bowlful of freshly made croutons.

We took Ziggy for a walk between the roast chicken and the fruit salad ... and Noodle joined along with us for part of it but pooped out after a bit. It's been a brutally hot summer ... 45 days and counting of temperatures in the mid to high 90s with up to 100% humidity. A brisk walk was out of the question but we all did our best to enjoy what passes for fresh air in this sauna we call home. On the way back this beautiful leaf showed up on the path ... totally the same colors as the soup. Sweet!

It's a gazpacho weekend!
Dinner at Marilyn and Susie's the day after this one and gazpacho is on the menu. What fun!
A spicy redness - my fave - all the more delicious for being served in a delicate glass. How beautiful.
It had more texture than mine and I liked that. A lot.
It made me want to remake mine without the stock. And strain the tomatoes.
And to not blend it to smithereens but to let the texture of the tomatoes speak a little about their day.

Variations on the Theme
Another summer another year. This time Carmen and Joa came over so I replaced the chicken stock with water cos Joa doesn't eata da meata. And I wasn't sure about too much spice so I omitted the jalapeno as well. I added a handful of fresh cilantro and lots more avocado (one and a half). I added the inside soft bits from a fresh bagel to the red gazpacho ... a small handful. It created a perfect emulsion that didn't separate into tomatoes and water in the bowl. The extra avocado made the green one so divinely smooth I couldn't stop wanting just one more spoonful. And so the (gazpacho) beat goes on!!!