Monday, April 30, 2012

Spelt Focaccia with Swiss Chard and Roasted Garlic

A couple of months ago when I was in the throes of my limited diet, I found this focaccia recipe at Cook (Almost) Anything. Not only was it easy to make, but versatile and really tasty. Alas, it turned out spelt was not distant enough of a cousin to wheat and had to be exiled from my diet. Fast forward to now when my ear is healed and my beloved breadstuffs are once again consumable, I made this focaccia again. Just as great as I remembered!

The swiss chard and roasted garlic are my additions, so make whatever pleases you. The original recipe called for dusting the top with fresh rosemary and that was it - simplicity at its best. But being an avowed bread-aholic, adding vegetables to the focaccia assuages my guilty conscience! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Roasted Potatoes with Sage

Potatoes are one of the loves of my life. They are always there for me - comforting, soothing, available, and lovely, no matter what kind of day I've had or how poor my behavior may have been. Also, they are packed with lots of nutrition, so do not let the low carb folks scare you away from them, potatoes are a force to be reckoned with, and for good reason!

These lovelies were on Stacey Snacks more than a year ago and heaven's knows why it took me so long to make them. Super easy and delicious, Stacey claims that this style of potato originated in a Swedish hotel called the Hasselbacken, thus their name of Hasselback potatoes. I'll take her word for it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Salsa with Home Canned Tomatoes

Salsa - it's what for dinner. At least that was what I thought after I graduated college and was living in New York City. Salsa, jalapeno corn chips, diet coke and cigarettes was a standard meal. Yikes! Glad to have left my 20s behind and moved on to better food, among other things! But I still adore salsa, so it shows up in my meals whenever possible; with burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and yes, simply with chips as well.

While I am not opposed to buying salsa, it is a lot of fun to make it at home and do it your way. My way is heavy on the chilies and cilantro with a squeeze of lime and a dash of cumin and sugar to balance it all out. Whiz it all in the food processor and you have spectacular salsa sitting in your fridge made by you!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Basic Canned Tomatoes - DIY Pantry

Canning - it is one of those activities that seems to strike irrational fear in the hearts of the uninitiated. Yes, I know improperly canned foods can grow grotesque things like botulism which can kill you. But folks, for at least a couple hundred years people have been canning foods and living to tell their children and grandchildren how to do it. And the easy thing is that your canned goods will look strange, smell bad, and generally be unappealing. So you will not eat contaminated food. Really, trust me. 

The canning bug bit me hard when I started my first garden and had such an abundance of tomatoes that I kind of panicked until I realized that it takes a lot of tomatoes to fill up a quart jar. Much canning ensued and jars of gorgeous tomatoes greeted me all winter when I opened my pantry cupboards, leading me to can even more the following year just for the view.

When I was living on my small farm in Cannon Falls, MN canning became a bit of an obsession. The tart cherries off my tree were canned; peaches, tomatoes, green beans and berries, also canned. I even had a pressure-caner for beets - disastrous experience, do not recommend at all. Of course you can always make salsa or tomato sauce and can that, but I prefer to have canned tomatoes on hand to make whatever I need.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dukkah Crusted Chicken

Judging by the picture above you would think that is some sort of cornmeal crusted chicken - wrong! Not only is it gluten free but its a traditional spice and nut (!) mixture called Dukkah, Egyptian in origin.

I discovered dukkah first at 101 Cookbooks - when it immediately went into the DIY bookmark file and settled down for a long winter's nap. Then while browsing through Smitten Kitchen's archives I realized how to use this wondrous find and was re-inspired all over again!

Although it is termed a spice mixture, it is a savory flavor, no heat involved. However, you could easily throw in some heat - cayenne, chili powder, red pepper flakes - if heat was your desire. While I enjoyed the crunchy texture and savory flavor, my next attempt will probably include more spice.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Vegan Pimento "Cheese" Spread

As soon as I spied this recipe at An Edible Mosaic it went into my must-make folder. My current fascination with vegan cooking is still going strong and anything that claimed to taste like a "cheese" spread falls squarely into that category. But other shiney objects jumped into my view and this recipe wallowed in the pile patiently waiting for me to make it. Finally, the day came and I have to tell you it was spectacular!

Similar to so many of the vegan items coming out of my kitchen lately, I sampled this out at work on unsuspecting omnivores. "This is GOOD!" and "Que Rico!" were the first responses to the tastes. While dairy-style pimento cheese spread is not something I have eaten in years, I can attest that there is definitely an umami cheese flavor in this spread, courtesy of the nutritional yeast flakes, which do the job beautifully.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Buckwheat and Flax Crackers - DIY Pantry

Finally! A homemade cracker I can post about with confidence and delight. And strangely enough the last time I attempted a homemade cracker was exactly a year minus a day ago - how wacky is that! My last attempt was a more traditional, Rosemary and Cracked Pepper Flatbread cut in crackers pieces. Not the best example of my DIY efforts, but can't always get it on the first try. Guess I was a tad scared off since my second attempt comes a year later. Ahhh well, at least there was a second attempt!

These crackers were not only delicious and easy to make, but an original recipe (pats self on the shoulder)! I am still on a wheat free diet and in desperate need of more fiber in my diet, so cooking up some kasha in search of something to combine it with I stumbled upon this idea; cooked buckwheat and ground flax seeds combined with seasonings makes a great cracker. This is a hearty tasting but delicate in form cracker that is perfect for cheese or spreading your favorite dip on; unfortunately it is not a scooper as you will most definitely loose your cracker to the dip!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vegan Creamed Spinach

A year ago (almost to the day!) I made a creamed spinach using the gorgeous Bloomsdale spinach from the farmers' market. Well, it's backkkkkkkkk! So this year I came up with a vegan version since my diet restrictions are still in full force. Definitely great comfort food, with or without the dairy!

What was even more exciting was the fact that this version was also gluten free since I used my Mary Gone Crackers "bread crumbs" and it turned out beautifully. Creamy, cheesy taste with the crisp of a crumble topping, healthy decadence at its best!

If you're a regular reader or know me personally, it will be obvious that it is the making of food, the transformation of ingredients into food that drives my passion for food, rather than the eating of it. Don't get me wrong, I like to eat, but I cook to create not to eat. So my co-workers are often the beneficiaries of my kitchen work, if they're interested! Right now it is this desire to create that is driving my vegan explorations.