Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Orange-Cranberry Sauce

For those of you who, like me, aren’t what one would call “planners.” For those of you who might be thinking, “hmmm, I suppose I should make some cranberry sauce tomorrow,” here ya go:

12 oz. fresh cranberries
1 large orange, zested and juiced
½ cup natural sugar
½ cup water

1. Combine water, orange zest, orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves (2-3 minutes).

2. Add cranberries and bring the mixture to a boil.

3. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries explode, about 7 minutes.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chiffon Cake

Since I’ve vetoed pie at Thanksgiving this year, I’ve been on a quest for alternative desserts. I’ve figured it out: we’ll have pumpkin pie pudding, chocolate peppermint bark and this cake. (If you’re coming for dessert and have problems with any of those selections, zip it, please.) This cake is light and fluffy and deliciously delicate. If I didn’t know better, I’d call it pumpkin angel food cake. But, thanks to, I know better. Apparently, chiffon cakes include egg yolks. Angel food cakes do not. Therefore, this is a chiffon cake.

1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 ¼ cup organic sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
9 eggs total (4 yolks and 9 whites—all at room temperature)
1 cup pureed pumpkin
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 325º. Lightly spritz a tube pan with canola oil.

2. Combine flour, ¾ cup sugar, pumpkin pie spice and baking powder in a large bowl. Mix well with a whisk.

3. Combine egg yolks and pumpkin in a medium bowl. Mix well with a whisk.

4. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir until smooth.

5. Place the 9 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk at medium speed until foamy, about 2 minutes.

6. As the mixer continues whisking, gradually add ½ cup sugar.

7. Turn the mixer speed up to high and beat the egg white mixture until it becomes stiff, but moist, 1-2 minutes.

8. Gently fold about a quarter of the egg white mixture into the pumpkin batter until no streaks remain. Repeat, gradually folding the rest of the egg white mixture into the pumpkin batter until no streaks remain.

9. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 55 minutes. (The cake should be sproingy.)

10. Let the cake cool for 5 minutes and then flip the pan over* so the cake can cool upside down for about 1 ½ hours.

11. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

*Our tube pan has spikes on the rim so we flipped the pan over and put it on top of a cooling rack. If your tube pan doesn’t have spikes, try balancing the tube on a narrow-necked bottle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin-Ricotta Gnocchi With Sage Brown Butter

We’ve had mixed success with gluten-free gnocchi. (And by “mixed” I mean we've had "very little" success.) Gnocchi is all about texture. If you nail it, it’s perfect. If you don’t, you’re stuck with little turd-like things with the consistency of soggy paper towels (in my opinion). 

This gnocchi was perfect—so perfect that I got cocky enough to make it again with pumpkin.

(Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Ricotta Gnocchi recipe in the New York Times)

Note: The ricotta and pumpkin measurements are approximate. The original recipe calls for 15 oz. of ricotta. I used the pureed pumpkin I had left over from the pumpkin pie pudding and filled the rest of the measuring cup with ricotta.

10 oz. fat-free ricotta cheese
5 oz. pureed pumpkin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ¼ cup shredded Parmesan (plus more for serving)
¾ to 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter
10 (or more) fresh sage leaves

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, ricotta, eggs and Parmesan cheese. Add about ½ cup of flour and stir. Add a little more flour and stir. Repeat until you get a very sticky dough.

3. Scoop a spoonful of dough and drop it into the boiling water. If it falls apart, add more flour to the dough and try again. If it stays together, wait until it floats to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

4. Once you have successful dough, cook the gnocchi in batches (about 5 spoonfuls at a time). One at a time, remove each floating gnocco from the water and set aside.

5. As you near your last batch of gnocchi, add butter to a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter melts and starts to brown, add the sage leaves.

6. Add the gnocchi to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until the gnocchi start to brown.

7. Serve immediately. Top with shredded Parmigiano.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

I have two confessions.

1.) I only like the innards of pumpkin pie. Sure, I’ve eaten plenty of pie crusts in my day, but only because Miss. Manners says it’s rude to scoop out the good stuff and leave a pathetic-looking crust on one’s plate. Of course, now that I don’t eat wheat, I have a perfectly valid excuse for leaving the crust on the plate…OR I could just make this pudding, which takes all the good stuff of pumpkin pie innards and makes it better—and more pudding-like.

2.) This is my second attempt at this recipe. It was successful. The first attempt produced a very tasty pumpkin pie soup. Why? Because I decided the directions were dumb. Why would you heat sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan over medium heat without any liquid? To make pudding, apparently. I learned my lesson. Trust the directions—in this case, at least. No need to go overboard.

(Adapted from Cooking Light)

6 tbsp organic sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 ¾ cup skim milk
1 egg
½ cup pureed pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
¼ cup walnut halves
2 tbsp organic sugar
¼ cup whipping cream

1. In a medium bowl, combine the milk and egg. Whisk. Set aside.

2. Combine 6 tbsp sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring gently with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes.

3. Gradually add the milk mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk! Keep whisking and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for 1 minute (keep whisking). Remove from heat.

4. Combine the pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir to combine.

5. Add the pumpkin mixture to the milk mixture (one dollop at a time), whisking constantly.

6. Move the saucepan back to the burner and cook the pudding over low heat—don’t stop whisking—for 3 minutes. (They warn you not to let the mixture boil. I say, if it boils, you don’t have it over low heat.)

7. Pour the pudding into individual bowls or ramekins. Cover the surface of the pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

8. Add 2 tbsp of sugar and the walnuts to a small nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar get gooey and turns golden brown. (They say this will take 3 minutes. Perhaps it will, if you’re using “low heat” with the ability to boil something, but it took our sugar 12-15 minutes to become gooey—and that’s after I turned the heat up to medium.) Toss the walnuts to cover them with the gooey sugar.

9. Transfer the gooey walnuts to a plate or a parchment paper-covered plate or a cooking spray-coated aluminum foil-covered plate. Let them cool, then chop into chunks.

10. Place the whipping cream in a bowl and beat at high speed until stiff peaks form.

11. To serve, top each bowl of pudding with whipped cream and candied walnuts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

General Tso's Tofu (or chicken)

We don’t remember the last time we had General Tso’s (or General Tsau’s or General Tau’s or General Gau’s or General Gao’s) chicken, but we know it was yummy and extraordinarily unhealthy. We can’t vouch for the accuracy of the General Tso’s taste in this dish, but it’s really tasty (and a hell of a lot healthier than the original deep-fried version).

(Adapted from the Canyon Ranch Demo Kitchen cookbook)

3 tbsp low-sodium gluten-free tamari sauce
6 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp hoisin sauce*
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cubed (or 1 lb. skinless chicken breast, cubed)
¾ cup organic chicken stock
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp canola oil
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 zucchini, diced

1. Combine tamari, vinegar, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Mix well.

2. Place the tofu or chicken in a shallow baking dish or pie plate and combine with ½ cup of the sauce. If using chicken, marinate for 1 hour. If you’re using tofu, 15 minutes’ll do.

3. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir well with a fork.

4. Add the chicken stock and the cornstarch-water concoction to the rest of the sauce. Set aside.

5. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Stir fry tofu or chicken until starting to brown (and until chicken is cooked through). Remove from wok and set aside.

6. Re-oil the wok, if necessary, and sauté the red peppers and zucchini until tender-crisp.

7. Add the tofu or chicken and the remaining sauce and cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

*Most store-bought hoisin sauce has wheat in it so we made our own (following a Canyon Ranch recipe):
2 tbsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch chili flakes
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp low-sodium gluten-free tamari sauce
5 tbsp white vinegar
3 tbsp water
1/3 cup black beans

1. Combine oil, garlic and chili flakes in a skillet over medium heat. Saute until garlic turns golden brown.

2. Add brown sugar to the skillet and cook until the sugar caramelizes.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the skillet and cook over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Set aside until cool.

4. Transfer sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. (Can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for a week.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pasta Al Forno with Butternut Squash (or Pumpkin)

I came across this recipe on the Food52 blog. Doesn’t it sound amazing? Now, check out the ingredients. Doesn’t it sound like a heart attack?

We lightened it up a little and came up with this decadent, yet delicate creation. We know it doesn’t look particularly delicious. The mustard yellow hue is a bit off-putting. And when you place a spoon in the pasta to serve it, it makes a dense gloopy sound that’s also rather off-putting. BUT, trust us. This is one tasty fall dish!

A 3 to 4 pound butternut squash or cheese pumpkin (we used butternut squash)
Olive oil
4 pieces of turkey bacon, cooked until crispy and broken into bits
16 oz. brown rice penne pasta
1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
¾ cup fat-free half and half
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded fontina cheese
2 tbsp. fat-free ricotta cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves
walnut halves (about a cup), toasted

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Line two baking sheets with foil.

2. Cut squash into equally thick slabs (leave the skin on) and place on the baking sheets. Drizzle the squash lightly with olive oil and bake until the squash is tender and slightly caramelized, about 1 hour. Set aside until it’s cool enough to handle.

3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta until it’s under-done (not even al dente), about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse and set aside.

4. Jack the oven up to 500º.

5. Cut the squash away from the skin and measure out 2 cups of squash, cut into chunks. Combine the squash chunks with the Greek yogurt and half and half in a blender. Puree until smooth.

6. Combine the squash puree with the cheeses, sage and bacon in a large bowl. Stir to combine.

7. Cut the rest of the squash into chunks and gently fold the squash chunks and the penne into the slop in the large bowl. (Remember: it tastes delicious!)

8. Spread the pasta, squash, etc evenly into a lasagna pan or casserole dish and bake for 7-10 minutes, until the top layer of pasta starts to brown and the bottom layer is tender.

9. Top each serving with toasted walnuts.   

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Southwestern Stuffed Squash

The squash fairy visited us last weekend. THANK YOU SQUASH FAIRY! We’ll be using the squash fairy’s squash to make one of our new favorite fall dishes: Southwestern Stuffed Squash.

(Adapted from Eating Well)

2 or more winter squash (any kind will do), halved and seeded
5 oz. turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed
1 cup (or so) of shredded swiss cheese

*Note: Due to miscommunication, we didn’t have black beans when we first made this recipe. We used white beans instead. It was really good, but it’s even better with black beans.

1. Preheat oven to 375º.

2. Spritz a baking sheet with oil and place squash cut-side down on baking sheet. Bake until tender (and slightly caramelized), about 45 minutes.

3. Spritz a large coverable skillet with oil and place over medium heat.

4. Add the sausage innards to the skillet and cook (breaking up the sausage as it cooks) until it’s lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.

5. Add the onion and bell pepper to the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, 3-5 minutes.

6. Add garlic and chili powder to the skillet and cook stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.

7. Add the tomatoes and beans to the skillet. Cover, reduce heat and let the mixture simmer until the tomatoes are broken down (10-12 minutes).

8. When the squash is done, turn the oven down to 325º. Fill the squash halves with the vegetable-sausage mixture and sprinkle with swiss cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, 8-10 minutes.