Category Archives: gluten free

If You Lived Here*, You’d Be Drinking Sangria Right Now

A Birthday Dinner Menu with Chocolate Cake

If you still lived here, you’d come over for birthday dinner. The weather would be perfect (not the cold damp it really is), and we’d have a fire in the chiminea. (Our children would be taken care of and nobody would wake up yelling mommee, mommeeee! And while I’m dreaming, they’d sleep late the next morning too. )

We’d drink sangria and eat tapas (which somehow we are cooking and enjoying while outside by the fire).

We’d have olives and cheese to start. Then we’d eat spanish tortilla and garlicky shrimp (I’ll forget for a moment that you eat neither eggs nor shrimp. It’s my birthday after all). We’d have roasted tomatoes with garlic and olive oil and grilled asparagus. We’d have cheesy stuffed portabellos. And we’d sop up olive oil and juice from all our food with bread.

Then, feeling really full, we’d have flourless chocolate cake with raspberries and barely sweetened whipped cream. (And since the kids are sleeping in we have dark roasted coffee with plenty of cream.)

Given the title, I should be writing about sangria here, but what’s a birthday without cake.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 stick butter (every recipe I’ve looked at calls for unsalted, but I always have salted on hand and use that)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 375° F and grease an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan (a springform pan is great, but not necessary) pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper (This is important especially if you use a regular cake pan as the cake is quite likely to stick).

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In the top of a double boiler, melt chocolate with butter over barely boiling water, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk until fully combined. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to the chocolate mixture (if you are not lazy, sift the cocoa powder over the chocolate mixture) and whisk until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in middle of the oven for 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

This is dense and rich and excellent as I described above with raspberries and whipped cream. It also makes a truly decadent layer cake described below.

Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Butter Frosting and Ganache Glaze

Make two flourless chocolate cakes as described above.

While they are cooking or even before, make the filling. (It takes a while to chill.)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup butter ,softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

In a medium sauce pan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa powder and blend well. Gradually stir in the milk, and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (I find it usually takes longer) or until thoroughly cool.

In a large mixer bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until well blended. Gradually add cooled chocolate mixture. Beat until light and fluffy.

Make the glaze.

  • 3/4 c. whipping cream
  • 8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Place the chopped chocolate in a heavy, heat resistant mixing bowl.

Place the cream in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. While stirrring, bring just to a boil, stirring. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Put it all together:

Place one cake on serving plate (you can frost the plate under it lightly to keep the cake from sliding). Spread a thick layer of frosting on top of the first cake. It’s optional to cover with raspberries, but I like the way the raspberries break up the chocolate a little. (I usually use raspberries I’ve frozen myself, though I’m sure fresh would be fine. My experience with commercially frozen raspberries, has been that they leak a lot more juice—and don’t taste as good.) Place second cake on top of the frosting/raspberries. Pour glaze over cake and smooth with a flat spatula. You can use any extra frosting to decorate top and sides of cake.

Cut small slices as this is really rich.

*I try not to start things with “if you still lived here,” but I will today, just for my birthday.


Lemon chicken and feta rice

I’m back too, and, my excuse was that I had a baby and I was lucky to get dinner on the table never mind write about it. But we’re settled in and I’m in on the rice theme. I made this for a pot luck dinner tonight. I wanted something quick that didn’t require a long cook because it’s too hot out for that. Oh, and it had to be gluten free.

My ” inspiration” was the package of feta that’s been sitting in my fridge since my last trip to Trader Joe’s and the thin sliced chicken breasts on sale.

For the chicken you’ll need:

  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh parsley
  • coarsely ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 lbs chicken breast, pounded or sliced thin

For the rice, you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup rice (I used a wild rice blend)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 lb. spinach or one big bunch
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 4-5 oz. feta cheese

Mix the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, parsley and garlic in a container you can marinate in. Pepper the chicken, toss in the marinade and let sit for about an hour. 

While chicken is marinating, cook the rice. Set aside in a serving bowl.

Heat oil in a skillet and add the chicken (pour extra marinade into the pan). Cook for about 5 minutes; flip. Cook until both sides are slightly browned and chicken is cooked through. I did this in two batches. 

Remove chicken to a plate. Add a little more olive oil to the skillet. Add spinach to the pan and cook until wilted. Put the spinach in the bowl with the rice. Pour the pan juices and any juices that have accumulated on the chicken plate in with the rice and spinach. Add the additional lemon juice and feta. Mix it all together.

Serve the chicken over the rice.

We ate this warm, but I think it will be good cold too—I’ll let you know.

You could make a vegetarian version of this that would probably be tasty, but I think the garlicy chickeny flavor really added a lot to the rice.

Rice and ____ Gratin

Wow, we are a couple of blog slackers. I don’t know what Sara’s excuse is, but I’ve been in a major cooking rut for quite some time. Cooking for 2 kids and no other adults just got depressing. But…good news! My other half got a new job and is home for dinner at least 4 nights a week now, which has breathed new life into my menu planning.

This week I tried a new recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin. Scratch that. This is THE favorite cookbook in my house. Every single recipe is easy to prepare and full of flavor. There is seriously not one thing we’ve tried that we weren’t happy with. The recipe I made this week was Rice and Leek Gratin. It takes a little advance planning because you need to have 2-3 cups of cooked rice on hand, but is also a great way to use leftover rice. I did made a few modifications to the recipe and would make a few more if I made it again, which I’m sure I will because everyone loved it. One note, you could easily add any other veggies to this. I felt like the leeks alone would be a bit blah so I threw in some mushrooms, and I could picture many other additions–carrots, broccoli, etc–depending on what’s in your garden or market.

1 cup rice uncooked
2 1/2 cups stock or water (I used veg stock)
2-3 leeks, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced.
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded gruyere or other swiss cheese (I used jarlsberg because I’m cheap!)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs mixed with 1 tsp olive oil

Cook the rice. I like to toast mine in a teeny bit of butter before adding the stock.

Saute the leeks in a bit of olive oil until tender. Add any other veggies you’re using. Stir in the thyme and let mixture cool down to room temp.

Mix the veggies in with the rice. Stir in the milk, egg, and some salt and pepper. Stir in the shredded cheese. Press rice mixture into a 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top. Bake at 375 for about 30 mintutes, until the breadcrumbs are toasted.

Ricotta Quiche, or The Z Word Part 1

Zucchini is notorious for being overabundant. There are stories of people desperate to get rid of them, dropping them off on neighbors steps, abandoning them by the side of the road. For years I’ve heard these stories and wondered “Who are these people?,” because squash borers and squash bugs destroy our plants most years before we get tired of zucchini. Not this year.

With a veggie bin in the fridge full of zukes, I’ve been looking for new things to sneak them into. A few weeks ago a friend served me ricotta pie from the Moosewood Cookbook and I found it quite yummy.

With a couple of modifications (no crust, tapioca flour), it’s gluten free. And though I call it ricotta quiche, it’s not really eggy, a plus for non-egg lovers.

It would work with a number of vegetables, but right now I’m filling it up with zucchini.

Ricotta Quiche with Zucchini

  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. fresh chopped basil
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose or tapioca flour
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. grated sharp cheddar
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • paprika
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Saute the onion in a little olive oil. Add the zucchini slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook until both are soft, but not browned. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Mix the ricotta, egg, Parmesan and cheddar cheeses, flour, and herbs together. (I used tapioca only to make it gluten-free. If that doesn’t matter, regular flour works just fine.)
  4. Add the zucchini and onion and mix well.
  5. Spread the mixture into a 10-inch pie plate.
  6. Cover with cream cheese and sprinkle top liberally with paprika.
  7. Bake for 40–45 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

I found this worked well at a number of temperatures. We had it about 45 minutes after it was done and it was quite good. I’ve had it cold from the fridge, also good, but room temp or above is probably best.

Cheesy cauliflower casserole

I’m not really a fan of cauliflower. Still, when we were at our weekly potluck, I thought I’d try the cauliflower casserole. It was cheesy—how bad could it be?

I loved it, and K. loved it.

A few days later when a friend offered me a cauliflower from her garden, I gladly took it and did my own take of her casserole. It comes together pretty quickly. We had it with maple-mustard glazed grilled pork chops.

Cheesy cauliflower casserole

  • 1 cauliflower
  • mustard (enough to coat cauliflower) (I used Plochman’s Natural Stoneground)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. mustard seeds (yellow or black)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • sharp cheddar cheese (to taste) (I used Cabot hunter sharp)
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Remove leaves and any tough center stem of the cauliflower. Chop up the rest into small to medium-sized chunks. Steam until just tender.
  3. Coat cauliflower with mustard and place in a casserole dish.
  4. Saute onion in a little butter or olive oil. Toss in the mustard seeds. Cook until the onion is soft, but not browned. Add to the cauliflower and mix.
  5. Sprinkle liberally with chunks of cheese or shredded cheese.
  6. Bake until cheese is melted.

You can vary the flavor of this quite a bit by using different mustards or different cheeses.

More black beans

Hope you aren’t sick of black beans yet. Yesterday for pot luck, I made black beans and polenta. It took longer than I thought it should have to put together, but I think I’m just slow today.

  1. Make polenta according to package directions (about 1 1/2 cups dry should be about right). Mince one fresh jalepeno pepper and stir in while the polenta is cooking. (Jalepeno is optional if you like things less spicy.)
  2. Pour polenta into a oiled 9×13 pan. Set aside.
  3. Chop 1/2 onion and saute in a little olive oil.
  4. Chop 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 green pepper. Add to onions along with two cans drained and rinsed black beans.
  5. Stir in 1/2 cup salsa.
  6. Add cumin, chili powder, lime juice, and chopped cilantro to tasted. (Most of the time I make this without cilantro, but  happen to have a bunch on hand.) Cook until beans are heated.
  7. Sprinkle one small can of diced tomatoes over the polenta and spread the beans on top of that.
  8. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese. Cook until cheese is melted.
  10. Serve with guacamole and seasoned sour cream (add a little chili power and cumin to it).

It was a hit at the pot luck, but there was lots of good food so we came home with enough for dinner tomorrow.