Saturday, April 18, 2020

Gluten Free Fresh Fruit Cake

I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but every once in a while I just want some Cake. My favorite Cakes almost always have some kind of fruit in them or at least a fruit jam layer. And today, I really wanted Cake!  I recently had some Strawberries delivered, so Strawberry Cake was the one I made. I've made this Cake with many fruits besides Strawberries - Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Nectarines and Peaches all work well. I thought I had already posted this recipe, but I checked and there was only a previous post for a Strawberry Orange Cake, but it's not the one I usually make - so here it is!  

It's a simple Cake made from the usual ingredients - Butter, Sugar, Egg, Vanilla, Milk, Baking Powder and a Gluten Free Flour Blend - I used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1. Then place whatever fresh fruit you want to use on top. If you like your Cakes sweet, you can sprinkle more Sugar all over the top. About 40 - 45 minutes later, you have a delicious Cake that's not too sweet, so you can feel better about topping it with some Whipped Cream or Ice Cream if you want. I have to admit though, I like it just the way comes out of the oven and I eat it while it's still warm. Yum!

Gluten Free Fresh Fruit Cake

1 cup Gluten Free Flour Blend containing Xanthan Gum (or add 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 Tablespoons room temperature Butter
3/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Milk (I use Lactose Free)
1 Egg
12 Strawberries, trimmed and cut in half or about 1-1/2 cups fresh fruit
Optional:  1 Tablespoon of Sugar for sprinkling on top

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil a Springform Pan.

In a bowl, mix together the Gluten Free Flour, the Baking Powder and the Salt.

In another mixing bowl, cream together the Butter and Sugar until fluffy. Add in the Milk and Egg and stir to combine. Then add in the Flour Mixture and stir thoroughly. Pour into the Springform pan. Then place the Strawberries on the cake, cut side down. 

Bake  for 40 - 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.

Five Element Analysis

A sweet dessert is always an Earth Element food. But, the Strawberries make it a Fiery food too. Other Fruits would bring in different elements. Raspberries are Fiery, whereas Nectarines and Peaches are Fire and Earth. Blueberries or Blackberries would be Water Fruits. The Rice Flour in the Gluten Free Flour Blend along with the Butter and Baking Powder contribute the Metal Element and the Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch and Sorghum Flour add more Earth. The Egg brings in the Water Element too. While you wouldn't expect a cake to be a balanced food, it contains more Elements that I thought it would!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Collard Green Chips

In my quest to make sure I eat enough vegetables during this Shelter at Home time period, I have found myself ordering a lot of greens from the grocery store, as I love them. However, I've ordered so much that I have had to think about ways to cook them so that they can be eaten a bit later. So, last night I took a big bunch of Collard Greens and made Chips!  Now a lot of you have probably made Kale Chips and these are very similar. But, Collard Greens have a slightly thicker texture, which makes them less likely to crumble.

They are quite easy to make and can be seasoned in so many ways. I kept it simple, using only Garlic Powder, Onion Powder and Salt, but other spices like Cumin, Chili Powder, Curry Powder, Cayenne Pepper and even Nutritional Yeast would all be good, but not together though. The only other things you need to make them is a bit of Olive Oil and a 275 degree oven. They cook in about 30 minutes and they keep well in a covered container. I think these Collar Green Chips are delicious and they didn't keep very long because I ate them up very quickly!

Collar Green Chips

1 bunch of Collard Greens, washed and shake dry
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt, divided
Seasonings of your choice: Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, ground Cumin, Chili Powder, Curry Powder, Cayenne Pepper and/or Nutritional Yeast.

Cover 2 baking pans with parchment paper.

Pull the Collard Greens off the stem and tear into large pieces. Put onto the baking pans. Drizzle each batch with 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil and 1/8 teaspoon of the Salt. Season with any other seasoning of your choice.

Place both trays in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn over each piece. Return to the oven (on different shelves) and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the Chips are crisp but not burnt. Cool and eat or place in a covered container for later.

Five Element Analysis

Well since the main ingredient is a dark green leafy vegetable, you know that this snack is primarily a Wood food and the Olive Oil adds even more of the Wood Element. The spices bring in the Metal Element. So these Chips can help balance other meals of the day. 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Maple Glazed Cashews

I was talking with my friend Liz this afternoon and she told me that she had just made some Maple Glazed Cashews that were so good that I just had to try them. So I made them and they were surprisingly good!  The recipe couldn't be simpler - there are just 3 ingredients - Cashews, Maple Syrup and Salt - that's it!  And they only cook for 10 minutes - what could be easier?

I'm not usually a fan of sweetened nuts, but these Cashews are so delicious cooked like this that I will be making this over and over again. The Cashews come out only lightly sweet and the Salt is the perfect counterpoint. I was so impressed that I had to share this recipe with you. This is a wonderful snack and these Maple Glazed Cashews would also be great on Yogurt or even in a salad. I think you'll be impressed too!

Maple Glazed Cashews

1 cup Raw Cashews
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/8 teaspoon Salt

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the Cashews in a bowl and drizzle with the Maple Syrup and Salt. Toss to mix. Put a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and pour the glazed Cashews onto it. Place in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Then, using a spoon, turn the Cashews over, scooping up some of the glaze to recoat the Cashews. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool before eating.

Five Element Analysis

Cashews, as a nut is part of the Water Element, but the texture and color also give it a bit of the Earth Element too. The Maple Syrup is a combination of Wood as it's made from tree sap and Earth, since it is boiled down to become very sweet. The Salt of course adds a bit more Water and I ate them with a cup of Tea, which added some Fire. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Ajvar - Roasted Red Pepper Spread

I ordered a number of things from Costco and had them delivered. The only problem is that you get so much of everything. I had way too many Red Peppers so I decided to make a Red Pepper Spread called Ajvar. I often buy this in a jar and it frequently also has Eggplant in it too. Ajvar is a fairly mild condiment that's wonderful on Crackers. I usually serve it with Rice Crackers. It's quite simple to make and only requires the you roast the Peppers first and then puree them with Olive Oil, Garlic, Vinegar, Salt and a little bit of Red Pepper if you like heat. I think you will really enjoy Ajvar!

Ajvar - Roasted Red Pepper Spread

4 Red Peppers, cut in half, stem and seeds removed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil for Cooking + 3 Tablespoons for Spread
2 larges Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar (I used White Balsamic)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Optional: Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes - Aleppo or Cayenne
Optional: 2 Japanese Eggplants roasted with the Peppers, skin removed. 

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil over the Pan and place the Red Peppers, cut side down. Roast for 20 minutes. Then turn over and cook for about 10 minutes more or until the Red Peppers are blistered and blackened at the edges.  Remove from the oven and place in a bowl, covering with plastic wrap or foil for about 10 minutes. 

Using a small, serrated knife, peel off the skin of the Peppers and discard. Place the Roasted Peppers in a food processor or blender and add in the remaining Olive Oil, Garlic, White Vinegar, Red Pepper flakes and Eggplant (if using) and Salt. Puree until mostly smooth.  Pour into a bowl and serve with Crackers.

Five Element Analysis

Red Peppers belong to the Fire Element because of the color and also because they look like Hearts. The Red Pepper, if you use it adds even more Fire. The Olive Oil and Vinegar both contribute the Wood Element. The Garlic brings in the Metal Element and the Rice Crackers I served them with adds even more. The Water Element is present if you use the Eggplant and the Earth Element shows up if you use Almond Crackers (Simply Mills) like I did. Then this becomes a balanced snack. Otherwise, serve a Water and Earth food at a later meal.  

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Anellini Pasta with Broccoli and Ham

I was in the mood for Pasta but didn't want any Tomato Sauce, so I decided to make what I often cook for my grandson, who is 2. He loves Pasta and I like to throw in some vegetables in whatever sauce I make for him, so that he will get more nutrition. His current favorite is Anellini Pasta with Broccoli and Ham. I buy Le Veneziane Anellini Pasta online, which is a wonderful Gluten Free Pasta from Italy. It's made from Corn and my friends who are not Gluten Free cannot even tell that it's not regular Pasta He loves the little round circles of Anellini Pasta and he loves Butter and Garlic so that's what I season it with. He likes it with Ditalini Pasta too and I think Orzo would also be good. I mince up the Ham and Broccoli - usually some luncheon meat and some leftover steamed Broccoli from the night before and he just loves it.  He wasn't here, but I did have those ingredients and made it for myself. The only difference in how I made it was to use fresh minced Garlic instead of Garlic Powder. My son liked it too and he topped his with Parmesan Cheese. It's easily doubled if you want to make more. I ate it with a spoon and was very happy!

Anellini Pasta with Broccoli and Ham

1 cup Anellini Pasta (or another small pasta shape) 
1 cup cooked Broccoli, minced
1 cup minced Ham
2 large Garlic Clove minced (or use Garlic Powder)
6 Tablespoons salted Butter
Optional Parmesan Cheese for serving

Boil the Anellini Pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until done (according to the package directions) and then drain. 

In the meantime, in a frying pan, melt the Butter and add in the Garlic Clove. Cook until you can smell the Garlic Fragrance well. Then add in the Ham and Broccoli and cook until hot. Add in the drained Pasta when done and stir to combine, reheating if necessary. Serve with Parmesan Cheese.

Five Element Analysis

The Anellini Pasta is made with Corn so it belongs to the Earth Element. The Broccoli contributes the Wood Element and the Ham brings in the Water Element. The Garlic, Butter and Parmesan Cheese add the Metal Element. Only the Fire Element is missing, so it would be good to serve a side salad or maybe some Iced Tea to create balance.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Indian Spiced Potatoes and Cauliflower

Since we are all sheltering at home (or should be), I would like to share some of my pantry recipes with you.  I've bought a lot of vegetables that keep well, mostly from the Cruciferous family - Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts and several kinds of Cabbage. I also have a big supply of Potatoes, as I can't live without them!  I want to keep things interesting, so I am making foods from around the world and wanted to use some warming spices. Indian Food, in my opinion, is one of the countries that uses spices the best in combination. So, I pulled out some Turmeric, Coriander, Mustard Seed and Cumin and grated up some Ginger and minced some Garlic and I used them with Potatoes and Cauliflower. I don't use a lot of Spice, so you can certainly add more. And, you can also add in some Tomato and some Peas too if you like.

Now traditionally this dish is called Aloo Gobi, but I make it a bit different as I like to crisp up then Potatoes and Cauliflower. The method is simple, I cook the Potatoes in some Ghee until they are just starting to get soft Then I add in the Cauliflower and the Spices - you can easily add more if you like more Spice. I add a bit of Vegetable Broth and then steam it until the Cauliflower is cooked. Then, I add in some more Ghee and cook it until the Potatoes and Cauliflower are browned.  It's so good!  

Indian Spiced Potatoes and Cauliflower

1 pound of Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
1/2 of a head of a large Cauliflower, cut into florets
3 Tablespoons of Ghee, divided
2 large cloves of Garlic, minced
a 1" chunk of Ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Brown Mustard Seeds
1/2 cup Vegetable Broth
Optional: 1/8 teaspoon Kashmiri Chili Powder or Cayenne Pepper
Optional:  1 Roma Tomato, peeled and chopped
Optional:  1/3 cup Frozen Peas

In a large frying pan, heat half of the Ghee on medium high heat and add the Potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until the Potatoes start to soften. Then add in an additional Tablespoon of Ghee along with the Garlic and Ginger,  the Spices and Cauliflower and stir to combine and cook until you can smell the fragrance. Then add in the Broth, reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook until the Broth has been absorbed and the Cauliflower is tender.  Put in the remaining Tablespoon of Ghee and turn up the heat. Cook until the Potatoes and Cauliflower are browned. 

Five Element Analysis

Cauliflower is one of the few Metal Vegetables and the Garlic, Ghee and Spices add even more Metal. The Potatoes and Ginger contribute the Earth Element and the Vegetable Broth made with Carrots and Cabbage adds a bit more. It also contains some Celery for the Wood Element and Tomato for Fire along with the Chili Powder, if you are using it. You could add some chopped Tomatoes and Peas too if you like and that would add some more Wood and Fire.  This dish should be served alongside some others that include more of the Wood, Fire and Water Elements so think of dishes like Eggplant or Fish for Water, Tomato or Lamb for Fire and some more Green Vegetables or Chicken for Wood to create a balanced meal.