Monday, February 28, 2011

Lamb and Lentil Stew (gluten free, too!)

A major winter storm hit the mountains of northern Arizona this weekend. Here at 5000' elevation, living in dense scrub oak, pinion, and juniper, snow is not unusual. But nearly a foot of snow is a bit out of the ordinary. But where we live, snow will melt almost immediately with the warm Arizona sun. And, today, only a trace remains. 

So, while we settled in for yesterday's "snow day" I popped this stew into the crock pot to enjoy on a cold winter's day.

Made using our own home grown Spring lamb Try this hearty stew for a wholesome one-pot meal!

1 T. olive oil
1-2 pounds shoulder, cubed (or use the whole steaks with bone in, separating later)
1-2 t. salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup lentils, washed and soaked overnight
3 cups broth
14 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
½ t. each dried thyme, basil, & sage
2 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
½ a lemon, zested and juiced
½ cup white cheese, grated (I used mozarella)

Heat oil in a heavy pot and and braise the seasoned lamb on both sides for about five minutes. Remove. Saute’ the onion and garlic in the lamb drippings for about five more minutes.

Place lamb and all remaining ingredients, except for spinach, lemon and cheese into crockpot. Set on low for 8 hours. In last 30 minutes of cooking time, fold in the spinach and lemon. Garnish individual servings with cheese when ready to serve.

Makes: Six to eight servings.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

San Francisco Polenta Bread

Simple, robust cornbread that is moist and flavorful.

1 cup GF flour blend
1 cup polenta
3 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
3 T. agave syrup
1 egg, beaten
1 cup low fat buttermilk
3 T. olive oil or unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Mix all ingredients together. Do not over blend. Pour into an 8 inch pan and bake 25 minutes or until golden. May also be made as muffins, but reduce cooking time by 10 minutes.

Bed & Breakfast Caramel Apple Skillet Cake

I created this impressive caramel apple-upside down cake for a good friend who is the owner of a local Victorian Bed and Breakfast to serve her gluten free guests. The cake is nearly completely made from start to finish in an ovenproof skillet.

Apple Topping:  
3 Golden Delicious apples (or other variety), sliced thin
⅓ cup unsalted butter
½ cup sugar, brown or raw sugar is best
½ cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
¼ cup raisins or currants, optional

Cake Batter:

½ of an additional apple, finely chopped
1½ cups sifted GF flour blend
1½ t. GF baking powder
¾ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup sugar
1 t. GF vanilla
1 t. minced, peeled fresh ginger or ginger paste in a jar, optional
2 large eggs
½ cup GF sour cream or plain yogurt

Topping: (optional): ½ cup butterscotch caramel sauce, warmed in microwave. (Mrs. Richardsons brand is GF)

Core the apples and cut into quarters. (I prefer to further slice the apples into thin wedges. You may choose to peel the apples; I do not.)

In a 10-14 inch skillet (cast iron or other oven proof), melt the butter over medium low heat. Add sugar and stir well to combine.

Arrange the sliced apples decoratively in the bottom of the skillet and sprinkle walnuts evenly between the apple quarters. Add raisins, if using. Cook, covered over low heat, without stirring, for 30 minutes until apples are tender and the sugar has caramelized. (All of the liquid should evaporate into the apples.)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cake Batter: Chop the remaining apple half finely and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

Beat butter and sugar in a medium-sized bowl with an electric mixer or hand-held whisk until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and ginger, if using, and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add sour cream or yogurt to the egg mixture, with mixer on low speed, and gradually beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Add chopped apple to batter by folding in gently. Batter will be somewhat thick.

With skillet now off the heat, carefully spoon batter over the caramelized apple topping and spread evenly with a spatula, taking care not to disturb the apples and leaving a ½ inch border edge of the apples not covered with the batter. Bake cake in center of oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Do not over bake.

Remove skillet from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes on a rack. Slide a thin knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, place a serving plate on top of the skillet, and invert it so the cake ends up on the plate with the apples now on top.

Top with butterscotch caramel by warming it in the microwave for about 15 seconds and then drizzling it over top of cake.

Serve warm (best!) or at room temperature with (or without) whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Makes: Eight large wedges of skillet cake.

For more recipes, check out my cookbook: "Delicious! The Very Best of Gluten Free and Wheat Free Cooking. It is available at:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Do-it-yourself birdfeeders and (gluten free) suet

Today is a snowy day in northern Arizona. With seven or so inches and blowing white out conditions, there isn't much to do today except play with my blogs and watch the birds feast on these neat, do-it-yourself feeders.

From the minute this feed went outside to our local feathered friends, it was a frenzied feast of bird-feeding!
You will be AMAZED at your native birds' response to this suet, compared to store bought!

(Feeders and suet adapted from “Birds & Blooms” magazine.)

2-3 pounds suet (ask your butcher or local meat processor)
3 cups each (or more) wild bird seed mix, cornmeal, oatmeal, sunflower seeds*, and peanut butter.
12-16 toilet paper roll and paper towel (halved) inner roll cardboard tubes

Melt the suet and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the remaining ingredients and allow to swell slightly. Consistency should resemble mixing cement.

Pack into toilet paper and paper towel paper tubes that you have collected before hand. Cut the paper towel tubes in HALF. Scrunch tinfoil across the bottoms of the tubes and secure with rubber bands if necessary. (My mixture was so thick that rubber bands were not necessary.)

Store in refrigerator or freezer until ready to use, then tear away the paper covering and pop into the feeders.
Notes: *Or combination of the above
Makes: 12-16 tubes of suet, depending on whether you are using toilet paper or paper towel rolls tubes that have been halved.

You will need:
14 gauge galvanized wire*
Needle nose and wire cutting pliers
Glass spice jar or other 1-2 inch diameter jar**
Duct tape
Spray primer and paint

Cut the wire into a 3-5 foot section for the feeder body and a 12-14 inch piece for the feeder handle. Tape one end of the long wire section to the side of the spice jar or to whatever you are using for your wire wrapping form.

Smoothly wind all the wire around the jar or form. Now remove the coil from the jar or wrapping form and bend one end of the wire into a little curlique. This will keep the bottom of the suet from falling out. Stretch out the coil until it reaches the length that you desire.** (It will look like a slinky by now.)

Take your “handle” segment of the wire and bend it in the middle to create a handle shape. With the pliers, bend over about an inch on both ends to create hooks for attaching to the feeder top. Attach this to the first two coils of the wire slinky-feeder body and crimp the ends securely using both pairs of the pliers.

If painting the feeders, wash the feeders with soap and water and allow to dry. Then prime and paint the feeders and allow to dry.

Fill with home made suet or fresh fruit. Hang out for the birds and watch the flocks appear! SUET IS A COOL WEATHER BIRD FOOD AND MAY MELT ON WARM DAYS!

Notes: *I tested the use of vinyl covered 15 gauge wire, which removed the painting step. It requires a smaller form than the spice jar to bend it on, as the vinyl deters the bending capability of the wire a bit. Personally, I preferred this.

**The length of your completed coil feeder shape will be dictated by the length of the home made suet that you make. (See home made suet recipe using re-purposed toilet paper or paper towel rolls.)

Update: 2/23/11
I would recommend that you do not make your feeder coil or suet length any longer than 4-5 inches. For some reason, the birds eat the suet from the top only and refuse to eat from the SIDES of the coil. So, what happens when the suet is almost gone, is the bird will literally dive down to the bottom of the coil (from the top of the coil) and if the coil is too long, the bird may get harmed in the dive to the bottom and become caged. Yipes!  So make your feeder coils and your suet tubes only 4-5 inches long, no more.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sun Dried Tomato Bread (gluten free)

A moist and succulent bread with a Mediterranean twist. Bread machine version.

1 T. yeast
¼ cup buttermilk powder
1¾ gluten free flour blend + ½ t. extra xanthan gum*
½ t. sea salt
2 T. agave nectar or honey
1 cup warm water, (115
˚to 125˚)
2 eggs, room temperature
2 T. olive oil *
1½ t. cider vinegar
1½ T. garlic, finely minced
½ cup cooked white rice**
1/3 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomato**

Blend together dry ingredients with a whisk (first four ingredients). Mix the honey/agave nectar, eggs, oil and cider vinegar together. Stir in the garlic, cooked rice, and sun-dried tomato.

Pour the liquids (plus garlic, rice and tomato) into the bread machine pan. Pour in the dry ingredients and turn bread machine to
Quick Bread or 2 hour setting (or gluten free setting if you have it).

When bread cycle is completely, immediately turn loaf out onto a cooling rack. Let cool before slicing.

If not doing gluten free version, substitute wheat flour. **If using oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, reduce the olive oil in the recipe to 1 T. **I regularly add cooked rice to my bread recipes to act as a wonderful humectant.

This recipe is from my cookbook: "Delicious! The Very Best of Gluten Free and Wheat Free Cooking. It is available at:

Walnut Rosemary Herb Bread (gluten free)

This very special bread is baked in a pre-heated enamel or cast iron Dutch oven or can even be baked in a large lidded Pyrex bowl. The results are an immense round, beautifully crusted, fragrant loaf of bread, that is perfect for dipping in a garlic-seasoned olive oil with balsamic vinegar.

4 cups gluten free flour blend + 1 to 2 t. extra xanthan gum*

¼ cup buttermilk powder
1 t. salt
5 t. dry yeast
3 eggs, room temperature
1 t. apple cider vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 5 T. to use in Dutch oven
1 T. honey 
1-1¾ cups water, warmed to 110-115 degrees
2-4 T. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ cup walnuts, chopped

Place dry ingredients (first four) in a large mixing bowl and whisk until well blended.
In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs with a fork. Add vinegar, olive oil, honey and 1½ cup of the warm water and stir to blend. Mix at low speed, slowly adding liquid to dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. If the dough is too stiff add another ¼ cup (or slightly more) warm water until a thick, shaggy dough forms.

Add walnuts and rosemary and mix just until evenly distributed. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula and cover bowl with a tea towel. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400˚F while dough is resting. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in the 2.5 quart enameled or cast iron Dutch oven or ceramic ovenproof casserole dish. Place the pan or bowl, without the lid on, in the oven and allow to preheat.

After the dough has rested, carefully scrape the bread dough into the preheated baking pan. Use a moistened spatula or the back of a large spoon that has been dipped in water to smooth the top of the dough.
Pour the extra two tablespoons of olive oil down the sides and over the top of the dough. Cover with lid and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until an instant thermometer inserted into the middle of the bread reads 205 degrees. This is a very large loaf, so be sure that the center is done.

Remove bread from pan and let cool somewhat before cutting. Eat this bread fresh, or allow to cool completely and freeze.

Notes: *Use regular wheat flour if not doing gluten free.

Makes: One very large mounded loaf of bread.

This recipe is from my cookbook: "Delicious! The Very Best of Gluten Free and Wheat Free Cooking. It is available at:

Greater Phoenix Gluten Free Expo

April 16th, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chocolate Torte

A torte is a rich cake made with little or no flour. Works for me; how about you?! This one is almost like eating a candy bar.

¾ cup GF flour blend
1/3 cup cocoa
Pinch of sea salt
¼ t. baking soda
8 ounces semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate*
¾ cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks)
1¼ cups sugar
1 t. GF vanilla extract
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup toasted walnuts, separated**

4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
½ cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 350˚F. Use a non-stick 9 or 10 inch cake pan; no smaller.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda a set aside. 
Microwave chocolate and butter in a medium-sized bowl for one minute, stirring halfway though. Continue microwaving for 15 second intervals and stir mixture until smooth. 

Whisk in sugar and vanilla, then stir in beaten eggs, buttermilk and ¾ cup of the walnuts. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour batter into cake pan, tapping the pan against your countertop to assist in removing air bubbles. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and cool in pan for five minutes, then invert cake onto wire rack and cool completely.

Glaze: Place chocolate in a small bowl. Heat cream just until simmering and pour over chocolate. Stir until smooth and chocolate is completely melted. Pour glaze over cake and smooth over top and sides. Pat remaining ¼ cup of walnuts around the top of the cake. Serve cake when glaze is firm.

Notes:*I used Trader Joes giant-size Belgium chocolate bar. **I used black walnuts.

Option: I prepared a mixed berry glaze with mixed (thawed) frozen berries, 2 T. of raspberry preserves, and 1 T. of raspberry liquor and drizzled over the top of each serving. Decadent!

Makes: Eight to sixteen servings.

This recipe is from my cookbook: "Delicious! The Very Best of Gluten Free and Wheat Free Cooking. It is available at: