gluten free

creamy roasted potato salad [sans mayo!]


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[Microphone crackles.]

Ahem.

We interrupt this travel-saturated blogging binge, punctuated by the occasional glutenous pastry, with a long-overdue post dedicated solely to food.

[Angels sing a heavenly chorus.]

Down to business.

The antithesis of my strong affection for mustard is my absolute hatred of mayonnaise. Sure, sure, its silky texture and satisfying fat content is nice, I suppose. But the flavor? Ew.

My unaccountable but consistent loathing for the sickly white condiment presented me with a quandary, especially growing up in the South: potato salad. Oh yes, that staple of church potlucks and homestyle diners; that ubiquitous, chunky mountain of starchy deliciousness; that best friend of juicy ribs, playmate of sliced ham, and neighbor to the greasy box of Bojangles fried chicken. That dish. I just didn’t like it. I wanted to, though. Over and over again, I sampled the savory ambrosia of the South. I tried a recipe with pickles, one with celery, some with eggs and some without, many with too much dill, and others with very little flavor at all. But each time I was repulsed by my familiar enemy: mayonnaise.

creamy roasted potato salad [sans mayo!]

So, for years I contented myself with the pure and simple potato salads favored by my mother and dressed with oil and vinegar. A version with arugula became our family favorite, and for years I was satisfied with feasting up on its peppy zing and forgot about traditional potato salad entirely.

Then recently, it hit me: mayonnaise can be circumvented. It does not own exclusive rights to creaminess! Hallelujah!

Enter plain yogurt. She and I became fast friends during the summer and part of the fall of 2013, when I breakfasted nearly exclusively on overnight oats or granola with yogurt. My mother tells me I used to eat plain yogurt like ice cream, during the first two years of my life when she fed me no sugar whatsoever. Well, those days have returned. Give me a spoon, and I’ll scoop that tangy goodness right out of the container and into my mouth.

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So, a few months ago in the beautiful kitchen of fairytale house in another southern state I now call home, I spooned some plain yogurt over roasted red potatoes, added a bit of this and a little of that – in accordance with my usual kitchen procedure – and at last I had my own mound of creamy, crunchy, salty potato salad. Mayo not included. Childhood saved.

I decided that, since I was going to take the time to cut potatoes into bite-sized chunks, I might as well roast them. While boiling does turn the potatoes soft and keep them moist, roasting makes everything taste better. And when you’re going to slather them in yogurt, who cares if your potatoes have a slightly lower water content? I don’t, and you shouldn’t either. Nope, flavor wins.

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And for more flavor, I settled on some honey to tame the tang of the yogurt,  little bits of garlic and onions for bite and pizzazz, a dollop dijon mustard – my love, my life, fair mustard! – for excitement, and a sprinkling of rosemary to tie it all together. Of course, the omnipresent twins, salt and pepper, also made their requisite appearance. The end result not have tasted exactly like those potato salads of bygone potlucks, but by golly, it tasted good to me.

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Creamy Roasted Potato Salad

  • 2 pounds red potatoes (or white, if you insist on being boring)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • several dashes of salt and pepper
  • 5 tablespoons minced red onion (~1/3 onion)
  • 6 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 boiled eggs, roughly chopped (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with several dashes each of salt and pepper, and roast on a baking sheet for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Let cool completely.

Honestly, then I just throw everything together and mix it. But, perhaps a bit more finesse should be taken in order to insure you end up with something to your taste.

So, mix together the yogurt, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper – adding the salt slowly and tasting as you go. Adjust this combination to your taste, or blindly follow my preferences; it’s up to you. Then add the onions and garlic. Finally, place the potatoes and eggs (if you choose to include them) in a bowl, and pour the sauce over them. Stir until everything is well-coated. Taste and adjust seasonings again. And then enjoy the marvelous, mayonnaise-less mound you have made.

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maple pecan granola with dates

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This is my favorite granola. Without a doubt. Hands down. No questions asked. End of story. (I’m out of cliché phrases for indubitably.)

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Here are some reasons why I love this granola:

  1. Pecans are my favorite nuts. They make everything taste good. 
  2. Maple is a delicious flavor.
  3. Pecans + maple is a stellar combination.
  4. Dates are incredibly naturally sweet.
  5. I have five or six sweet teeth – not just one sweet tooth, like most people.
  6. This granola is sweet.
  7. This granola is like dessert for breakfast, only healthy and filling.
  8. I love food.
  9. I love breakfast.IMG_1274

As with most things, this granola is a combination of things that taste good with each other. It goes like this: Maple and pecans is a good combination. Pecans and dates taste good together. Dates and maple couldn’t be a bad combination. So, dates and maple and pecans would certainly be delicious. Ahhh, logic. It applies even to food.IMG_1279

I first made this exactly a year ago in April of 2012. I based it off of one of my first ever granola recipes, Spiced Cashews and Date Granola, which I’d come up with in September of 2011, right before leaving for Peru. That recipe included puffed wheat cereal as well as oats, which made for a unique texture combination. I was pleased with hint of warm spices along with the soft sweetness of the dates and the buttery crunch of the cashews. Swapping cashews for the even more flavorful pecans and adding maple syrup was the obvious next link in the chain of granola evolution.IMG_5415

Since last April every time I’ve made granola, I’ve made this Maple Pecan with Dates one, along with my other recipes. After tweaking it here and there, I think I have the amount of liquid and dry ingredients as well as the spices just about right, at least for my taste. It’s sweet. It’s crunchy. It’s oil-free, just like all of my granola. And it’s pretty healthy, as carbolicious breakfasts go. I love it.IMG_1285

You know what else I love? Having four days of classes left in the school year! YIPEE! Happily for me, my two exams fall on the first two exam days, so I get to leave on May 1st. Now if I can just make it through these three papers this week… I’ll be snacking on a lot of granola to get me through.IMG_5424

Maple Pecan Granola with Dates

  • 4 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 + 1/2 cups dates, chopped
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 300°F.

Toss all the ingredients – except for the dates -into a big bowl and mix well, until everything is evenly distributed. Spread on a baking sheet or two. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until lightly golden, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Mix in the chopped dates after the granola is finished baking. Enjoy by the spoonful, the handfull, the bowlfull!

sundried tomato hummus

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People find our yard attractive. By that I don’t mean that it’s particularly gorgeous – though it does have a certain verdant, pastoral appeal in late summer or early fall – but rather that people enjoy the novelty of what we have done our little swath of earth. I don’t particularly understand it, but I suppose we do have a bit of a menagerie. And people like that. It’s different from what they’re used to.

So, they come. We feed them burgers and various odd salads for which we have become known. They pet the goats, chase the chickens, queue up for the zipline, comment on the size of the garden, and inquire after our unoccupied beehives. It’s entertaining for everyone: for us, because it’s always fun to suddenly find the objects of our everyday life suddenly of interest to anyone; for them, because they get to wander a big, grassy yard or sit by a proper bonfire and actually see the stars; and for our dog, because she gets all the scraps.

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Tonight was one of those nights. Some of our friends came over and enjoyed the gloriously warm and breezy afternoon and crisp evening with us. We ate goat burgers. We had a bonfire. We made s’mores. The chickens were chased, the goats were petted, the zipline was ridden, and the dog’s ceaseless begging was more or less ignored. It was nice.

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As Mom was arranging vegetables for snacking a half an hour before everyone was due to arrive, I asked if she wanted me to make hummus. She was planning to just use ranch, but I had no intention of letting a hummus-making opportunity pass by. Hummus is just too easy and too tasty.

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I grabbed the last few dehydrated roma tomatoes from last summer’s garden from a bag in the freezer, opened a can of chick peas, and snagged some garlic and tahini paste from the fridge. My hand oscillated for an indecisive second between lemon juice and lime juice, but I decided on the latter. A few minutes in the Vitamix – and more than one exasperated growl from me about its lack of a pulse function – later: hummus! Too easy.

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Sundried Tomato Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 – 9 tablespoons chickpea canning liquid (or water)

Drain chickpeas, but reserve canning liquid. Toss everything (start with 7 tablespoons of chickpea canning liquid; add more to your preference) in a food processor and blend until smooth. Adjust salt to taste. Enjoy with veggies or chips or on sandwiches or however!

gingerbread granola

gingerbread granola

Well, Website Wednesday is on vacation for the moment – an inauspicious beginning to the series, I know – while I dedicate the full force of my descriptive powers to my critique of critical essays of Pride and Prejudice. You read right. Critique of critical essays. Oh, the things I have to write. Last semester I wrote about gravestones. That’s a long story.

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Anyway, since I’ve basically committed to posting twice a week now – Website Wednesday and a recipe post on the weekend – I decided I couldn’t post nothing. Actually, it would be incredibly sensible to post nothing. I think I’m a bit crazy to demand of myself two posts a week. Then again, no I’m not. This silly little blog is becoming just as important to me as my schoolwork, so by golly I’m going to devote myself to it as if it were schoolwork. I refuse to give in. Take that, German homework and Pride and Prejudice paper!

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So, tomorrow when I get up at 7:30 to keep working on said paper, I’ll munch on some granola. It’ll be Gingerbread Granola. Yeah. It’ll be an act of defiance of the very paper I’m working on, since I’ll have blogged about the granola when I should have been working on the paper. I may be a sleep deprived and muttering about “art versus nature” and “anti-jacobin sentiment” as I stumble to class, but I will have blogged about granola. Hah!

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At this rate I am beginning to think I should call myself “The Granola Queen” and start another blog with that name. It seems like every other recipe I post is granola. Oh well. This one tastes like Christmas break, which makes it especially appropriate to eat when you’re bogged down with work that puts you in an exceedingly un-Christmasy spirit. When you don’t have time to bake gingersnaps or gingerbread, you can still have the happy flavor of Christmas spices in your bowl for breakfast. There’s even that familiar little bite of baking soda. So, snag your pen, scoot up to your desk, or hunch over your textbook, and shovel some merry gingerbread flavor into your mouth at breakfast time. It just might help.

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Gingerbread Granola

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds or flax seed meal
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or other liquid sweetener, like agave)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat over to 275°F.

In a large bowl combine the spices, salt, oats, and other dry ingredients. Mix molasses, honey, and applesauce in a small bowl. Pour the liquid into the oat mixture and stir until all of the oats are coated. When you think you have stirred enough, stir some more. Once everything is perfectly incorporated, spread the granola on a baking sheet or two and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how thin you spread the granola on the baking sheets. Bake until the granola is lightly browned and mostly free of moisture. Enjoy!

inside-out vanilla peach crumble

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Ever since I made inside-out pear crumble way back when I first started blogging about food on here, I played with the idea of making something similar with peaches. But it was never peach season, and if it was, I was traveling somewhere. If there ever was a point when fresh peaches were sitting on our counter, I never had vanilla beans. And I was determined to make my crumble with real vanilla beans.

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Finally, at the beginning of last August the peaches and vanilla aligned. During our family trip to Italy, I purchased a little bag of vanilla beans at a spice shop in Sorrento. I also snagged some whole nutmegs; both spices cost less than half what they would have in the United States – reason number 2609 to love Italy.

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Once home from Italy, I threw myself into cooking again, attempting to fit in as much culinary bliss as possible before moving to my essentially kitchen-less dorm in mid-August. With my whole vanilla beans at last in hand, I wasted no time in concocting the dessert I had so long mused over: inside-out vanilla peach crumble.

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I combined a buttery crumble topping with the minuscule, caviar-like vanilla seeds. I supposed I could have ground the entire vanilla bean – an idea to which I was recently introduced from a post on Food Gawker by London Bakes who learned it from 101 Cookbooks – but I hadn’t heard of that at the time.

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Instead, I put the empty vanilla pod in a tupperware container of sugar, which gave the sugar a lovely vanilla flavor. I can’t remember where I read that idea, but it is clever, too.

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I spoon the crumble into the hollows of half of the peach halves, which I deepened a bit with a melon baller.
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Fruit for dessert is so wonderful!
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Roasting the peaches transforms their juicy flesh from luscious and firm to luxurious and succulent. The flavor of their sugars deepens and intensifies, melding with the savory butteriness and rich vanilla tone of the soft crumble filling. I only wish I had baked the peaches earlier in the day, so I could have taken advantage of natural light to snap a picture to do their deliciousness justice.

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Inside-out Vanilla Peach Crumble

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour (for gluten free: use a gluten free flour mix of your choice or a combo of brown rice, millet, and oat flours like the on in my gf pancakes recipe)
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 2 dashes salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 4 to 6 ripe peaches

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut butter into small chunks. In a medium bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Slice vanilla bean pods in half lengthwise and scrape the insides of the pods with a knife to remove the minuscule seeds. Mix the vanilla seed scrapings in with the rest of the crumble mixture.

Slice the peaches in half. Remove the pits of the peaches. Using a melon baller or a small spoon deepen and widen the cavity inside of the peach just enough to remove the pointy flesh where the pit used to be. Spoon crumble filling into one half of each of the peaches. Place all the halves skin side down in a baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes. If you want the crumble to both soft and crispy as opposed to just crispy, at the 15 minute mark place the tops of the peaches on their respective crumble-filled counterparts. If not, just watch the crumble carefully to be sure it doesn’t burn. Enjoy warm – with vanilla ice cream, perhaps?

apple cinnamon granola

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I’ve mentioned before that my breakfasts at college consist of granola, granola, and only granola that I make and bring from home. Last time, I posted two kinds of granola that I ate last semester: double almond and chocolate hazelnut. I thoroughly enjoyed those last semester.

But this is a new year, a new semester! A fresh chance to try new granola flavor combinations! The exciting possibility of novel breakfast choices is upon us! It would be shameful to miss such an opportunity.

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In the interest of taking advantage of every chance to further explore the granola universe, I made two new kinds. This is one of them: apple cinnamon granola. You can look for the other in an upcoming post.

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Though I had originally considered purchasing dried apples from Trader Joe’s to simplify the process for this recipe, I quickly discarded the idea. We have a convenient dehydrator that gets sadly neglected in the winter months, so I figured it would be happy to be of use.

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While I stood contemplating the apple choices at the grocery store, an older man filling a produce bag with deep red apples recommended I purchase his favorite variety: winesap. “They’re really sweet; that’s why they’re called ‘winesap.’ And they’re only available around this time of the year.” Who was I to mistrust the information of a man who knew his favorite apple and its season? I bought a ten. Conveniently, they were the cheapest and had been grown in the North Carolina mountains. Success!

As promised, the apples were superbly sweet, albeit a bit soft. That made no difference since I planned to dehydrate them. I cored and sliced them with our apple peeler-corer-slicer – handy kitchen tool, that – and spread them on the racks of the dehydrator. The next day I made the granola.

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What goes better with apples than cinnamon? Not much. Add some walnuts for extra crunch and nuttiness, and you have it. Simple and tasty, people. You can’t go wrong with that.

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Apple Cinnamon Granola

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup flax meal or seeds
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 + 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon, divided
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup honey (or other liquid sweetener, like agave or brown rice syrup)
  • 2 cups dried apples, chopped

Preheat oven to 275°F.

Combine 1 + 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon with the rest of the dry ingredients, except the apples.  In a separate bowl whisk the applesauce and honey, and then pour over the oat mixture. Stir well, until all the oats are coated in the honey and applesauce mixture and everything is evenly incorporated. Spread the granola on a baking sheet or two. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. Baking time will vary depending on how thinly you spread the granola. After baking the granola, add the dried apples and remaining tablespoon of cinnamon. Enjoy!

thin pizza crust [gluten-free]

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One of the foods I miss most at college is pizza.

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I think I could start a dozen posts with that phrase: “One of the foods I miss most at college . . .” And every it would be true. I just miss food.

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Anyway, pizza. As with most dishes available in the dining hall, I refrain from consuming the pizza at school. Granted, the perfect circles of heat-kissed, unnaturally white crust bubbling with shimmering, pale cheese and creamy red sauce that emerge with astonishing frequency from gas-fired brick pizza ovens are well-presented. Sometimes they look downright alluring. Usually, though, I’m not tempted. I like my pizzas with lots of vegetables or fruits, often in somewhat odd combinations. So, I wait. One meal turns into ten and five days turn into five weeks, and I forget about pizza. And cheese.

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Once I come home and, in my rummaging through our cooking implements, am forced to shove aside our pizza stone several dozen times, I realize how much I have longed for a good piece of pizza. With cheese – any kind of cheese.

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Do you know how hard cheese is to come by on a college campus? Impossible. All that is available is feta crumbles and shredded soft cheeses for salads. Everything else is either a close relative of velveeta or already melted atop some greasy dish I don’t want to eat anyway. I think I’m repeating myself.

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Back at home, I make pizza. I’m one of those thin crust people. Actually, no. I’ll eat any sort of crust, but thin is what I make at home. Of course I don’t use white flour, so for the longest time I used a whole wheat pizza dough recipe that worked just fine. It consistently produced properly stretchy pizza dough sufficient for two pizzas. I used it as a base for several pizzas of  my own with reasonable success. But after a while I became discontent with how soggy the crust tended to become if I spread more than a thin layer of any sort of soupy sauce on it. I wanted a dependably thin and crisp crust. An impermeable crust. An impervious crust. A super crust!

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Pardon the dramatization. Pause for a second here and lower any expectations you might have. I like this crust; it’s good. But it’s really not a super crust. What it is is like eating pizza on a thick, slightly soft cracker. Perhaps that doesn’t sound appealing to you. Try it, though. I bet you’ll like it.

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Plus, it’s way faster than regular pizza dough. Forget proofing and rising and planning ahead. Want to make pizza? Go ahead. Now. You can mix together and roll out this crust in less time than it takes your oven to heat up.

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That it is gluten-free is incidental – a fortuitous bonus.

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Thin Pizza Crust [Gluten-Free]

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 cup soy flour (or more corn/flax meal or other flour; whatever!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons water

[Makes one average-sized pizza crust.]

Preheat your oven 400°F.

Place pizza stone or sheet in oven to heat. This is key. It’ll help the crust cook both on the top and the bottom and will make it crispy.

Combine all ingredients to make a moist dough with which you can form a ball. Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Take the pizza stone out of the oven and lay the dough on the stone. The edges of the dough will probably be a bit rough; patch them if you like. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges, before adding toppings. Bake again for 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted and toppings are heated thoroughly. Enjoy!

[Note about the flour: I’m not gluten intolerant, so sometimes I use some whole wheat flour because I can. But, I always stick to the base of the recipe: the 1/2 cup each of flax meal and cornmeal. That other half a cup of flour could be just about anything, I think.]

I’m trying something new and linking this post to Sunday School Blog Carnival at Butter Believer and Gluten Free Fridays at Vegetarian Mama.