Today is a day for soup!

With below freezing temperatures, today is definitely a day for soup!  Sometimes I make a batch  just to be able to wrap my hands around a steaming hot bowl…  I love soup because you can always make it no matter what ingredients you have in the house!

In the pics below, I had vegetables in the house that had to be used so I invented this recipe for Vegetable Soup (serves 3):

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   Sautéing vegetables

 

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Vegetable Soup, ready to eat!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, diced

2 cups baby bella or shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 large carrot, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

3 cups chicken stock (unsalted if possible)*

sage (2-3 small leaves) and rosemary (small sprig)

pinch of salt

*I will publish a separate post with an easy chicken stock recipe.  You can always use a store bought stock and you can substitute beef or vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

Directions:  Add olive oil and garlic to medium pot.  Sauté on low heat until garlic begins to turn translucent.  Add mushrooms and pinch of salt, increase heat to medium low and sauté until mushrooms are cooked through, stirring occasionally.  Stir in carrots and cook for a few minutes.  Stir in celery and add a ladle of chicken stock.  Reduce heat to low and cook for a couple of minutes.  Stir in potatoes with another ladle of stock and cook for a few minutes.  Add rest of chicken stock and cover pot.  Simmer soup until potatoes are soft. Stir in sage and rosemary.  Remove from heat and allow to rest 5 minutes.  Serve piping hot!

I put this recipe together based on the vegetables I had in the house and those that needed to be used.  You can easily substitute any of the vegetables above depending on what you have available!  I find that soups have more flavor if you start by sautéing olive oil and garlic and/or onion, then sautéing each vegetable for a few minutes depending on their cooking time, before adding the stock.  Additions can be made such as stirring in cooked beans: kidney, chick peas or lentils when adding the herbs.  Also, if you prefer pasta in your soup instead of potatoes, simply follow the directions above, omitting the potatoes, and bring the soup to a low boil and add a handful of small shaped pasta such as fusilli.  Cook until pasta is al dente and add salt to taste.

Soups are great to make in large batches so you can freeze one or two cup portions in tupperware.  I love having single portion soups that I can easily pull out of the freezer, heat and serve…no more canned soup 🙂

Buon Appetito!

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Crepes!

ImageEating gluten free doesn’t mean you have to give up food like muffins, pancakes and crepes!  When I had a craving for crepes, I went in search of a simple crepe recipe and found this wonderful Buckwheat Crepe recipe by Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.  It is fantastic to use because it is based on a ratio of 2 parts egg, 2 parts liquid and 1 part flour which means 2 large eggs (4 ounces), 4 ounces milk, and 2 ounces buckwheat flour.  That simple!  I used Hodgson Mill buckwheat flour, but note that it is made in a facility that also processes gluten products.  In the future, I will be using Arrowhead Mills buckwheat flour that is made in a certified gluten free facility (just to be on the safe side :).  The beauty of crepes is that they can be made savory or sweet depending on the fillings that you choose.  In the photo, I started with a crepe with goat cheese and capers.  To finish off, I rolled the remaining crepes with peanut butter and marmalade.  You will also find a list of more crepe recipes with different flours and fillings with the above link.  Buon Appetito!

The Benefits of Olive Oil

If you are consuming as much olive oil as we are, you will enjoy this article by the Olive Oil Times:

Components in the Mediterranean Diet May Prevent Some Cancers

I have started using a Californian extra virgin olive oil called California Olive Ranch and it can be found in large supermarkets (see the store locator on their website) or ordered online.  This is a great olive oil for dressing up vegetables, fish, meat and anything you want and for cooking!

Bob’s Red Mill Birdseed Stir Fry

You probably know Bob’s Red Mill, but have you ever seen their Birdspotter recipes?  I just discovered them and I love this recipe for a millet stir fry.  I will be breaking out my wok to try this next week since I need to go buy hulled millet.  I have used millet flour in baked goods, but I haven’t cooked millet yet.  I think this would be a good recipe to use to start.  Let the adventure begin and Buon Appetito!

The Gluten Free Pasta Test

I know that I’ve found a good gluten free pasta when my Italian husband announces that he prefers my gluten free pasta, Le Veneziane and Schar brands, to his classic Barilla pasta.  After eating a plate of gluten free Le Veneziane penne pasta with extra virgin olive oil and parmigiano reggiano, I was happy to hear that my gf pasta had more flavor and in comparison Barilla pasta just seemed bland…

Le Veneziane and Schar are both Italian brands and while Schar can usually be found in supermarkets that carry gluten free products, I have only found Le Veneziane in a couple of specialty food, usually Italian, grocers.  Since the price of Le Veneziane pasta in stores is quite high, I reluctantly turned to the internet and found that you can buy cases of the pasta via Amazon.  I never thought that I would be buying food online, but since both my husband and I are now eating gluten free pasta, it makes sense to buy it in bulk.  Le Veneziane is made with corn flour and is delicious!  While we prefer that texture and taste of the penne pasta by Le Veneziane, we have found that we like the Schar spaghetti which is made from a combination of corn and rice flours.

All of this talk about pasta is making me hungry so maybe I should post a recipe.  Here is one of my favorites:

Le Veneziane penne pasta with Aglio, Olio, Pepperoncino sauce (garlic, olive oil and hot chili pepper fakes).

Serves 3 people

250 gr. package of Le Veneziane penne pasta

2.5 liters cold water

1 tbsp (approx.) coarse sea salt

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 small or 1 large clove of garlic

1/8 tsp hot chili pepper flakes

Bring water to boil (for best results use 1 liter of water per 100 gr of pasta).  Slowly add sea salt and a splash of olive oil.  Add pasta and stir.  Stir occasionally until pasta is al dente (approx. 9-10 min.)

Put olive oil in small saute pan along with garlic, cut into 1/4 in. pieces, and chili flakes. Place on low heat and cook slowly until garlic becomes translucent and slightly golden. Remove from heat and set aside.

When pasta is al dente, remove from heat and add a splash of cold water to pot to stop cooking. Drain pasta, leaving a small amount of cooking water on pasta, and return pasta to pot.  Leave a small amount of pasta in strainer.  Add olive oli sauce to pot and stir to coat pasta.  Put pasta from strainer into saute pan and swirl to absorb remaining oil and add this pasta to pot.

Serve pasta with grated parmigiano reggiano.

Buon Appetito!

Gluten Free Pizza thanks to Gluten Free Girl and the Chef & Stone Hearth Pizza Co.

Are you used to having pizza night every week?  I am and when I needed to start eating gluten free, I went searching for pizza places that make gluten free pizza and for gluten free pizza dough recipes.  There were many disappointments and trials, but I finally found the perfect solution for me!  I use the gluten free pizza dough recipe from the Gluten Free Girl and the Chef and tweak it a little bit depending on the gf flours/starches that I have in the house.

If you don’t know this website, I suggest you check it out.  The recipes are simple, clearly written and made with ingredients that you can easily find at a large grocery store.

For the pizza dough recipe, here is the list of ingredients from the website with notes of my changes:

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed or ground chia seeds
500 grams whole-grain gluten-free flour mix*
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
15 grams (4 teaspoons) active-dry yeast
50 grams (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil**
85 to 190 grams (1/2 to 1 cup) warm water, about 110F***

*For the whole-grain gluten-free flour mix, I use 125 gr of buckwheat flour, 125 gr of brown rice flour, 50 gr of teff flour, 125 gr of sticky sweet rice flour, 75 gr of potato starch.  Personally, I really like the texture of buckwheat flour since it seems to be the closest to a whole wheat flour.  Brown rice and teff flours add a nice flavor and more iron.  I use less starches than the original recipe, but I am happy with the result:  a crisp crust with a doughy center.

**I use only 1/8 cup of extra-virgin olive oil.  Following the recipe, I have added the olive oil into the yeast mixture, but I noticed that the yeast did not rise as much as it usually does with just the warm water.  So, I will add the olive oil directly to the flour mixture and combine only the yeast and water.

***When I prepare the yeast mixture, I use 1/2 cup warm water.  Then, I add another 1/2 cup or more of warm water until I get the right consistency.  In the winter with dry air, I probably use a total of 1 1/4 cup of warm water between the yeast mixture and the water added at the end.

I follow the same steps in the online recipe for mixing the dough.

Buon Appetito!

If you have a craving for take-out pizza, I have only found one place so far that I really like and that has not made me sick from cross contamination.  Around the Boston area, the place to go is Stone Hearth Pizza Co.  I hope to find other places during my travels in the US and in Italy, but so far this is the one restaurant I would recommend.  Just keep in mind that Stone Hearth is not a dedicated gluten free facility and more details about their products can be found on their website.