Thursday, September 4, 2008


In case you didn't know, the RNC has been here all week. The swarm of helicopters hovering over hour home began a week ago. I am a die heart Hillary fan and watched the DNC every evening last week. I was brought to tears several times during the week, especailly when Hillary spoke on Tuesday and then called for the acclimation of votes on Wednesday. I admire her ability to step up for her party and will aquiese to her request to vote for Obama. So, on the first day of the RNC, the day Gustov hit the Gulf coast, while the republicans were preoccupied with "getting it right this time", I attended my big American political protest. I agreed, the RNC had to call off most events for the day, after all it just would't look good, conducting business as usual if fellow American's found themselves on roof tops like they did during Katrina. As for myself, I wanted to participate in a peaceful protest. While it was peaceful for the most part, there were hundreds of self proclamed anarchists who ripped through the Capital Area and downtown St. Paul, causing all kinds of scary trouble. At one point I found myself nearly swept up in the middle of their distructive activities, and surrounded by riot police. 

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Edamame Puree with Scallops

The photo does not do this appetizer justice! While it may be fussy to put together, it is a terrific appetizer with lots of flavor and color. There are three parts, two of which can be done ahead of time and then you can sear the scallops and assemble at the last minute. 

Edamame salad to garnish

1/2 cup shelled frozen edamame, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup red bell papper, chopped small
1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon asian chili paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

combine all ingredients and set aside

Edamame Puree

2 1/2 cups cooked edamame (essentially the rest of the package)
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mind
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

If the edamame are warm when you make this the puree will be ready to use. If you make it ahead of time, reheat it in a small skillet or the microwave.

Puree all the ingredients for the puree in a food processor until smooth.

6 large scallops
forbidden rice, ground to a flour to dust scallops, or just salt and pepper if you want.
Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet, sear scallops until golden brown, about a minute or two on each side, don't overcook!

Divide warm puree among 6 serving plates, top with scallops and garnish with the salad.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Ritz Carleton goes Gluten Free

We love the Ritz Carleton in Naples, Florida. When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease two years ago Tina and I spent a week at the Naples, Ritz. We spend a great deal of time in Naples, usually renting a condo or staying with Tina's mother. We had never gone during the hot summer months and we wanted to pamper ourselves after learning about my Celiac Disease. We could not pass up the summer rates at the Ritz. We spent four days sitting by the pool ordering bowls of fresh fruit and met Mario, the food and beverage director of the hotel. Mario took good care of me, making sure I ate safely. We have returned to the Ritz many time since then and Mario continues to deliver over the top GF treats for me. We decided on that first summer trip that it would be fun to take a summer beach trip with our nieces, this summer was our second annual trip with them to the Naples Ritz. The girls loved parasailing, kayaking, and hanging out at the pool and the beach. And once again, Mario made sure I had what ever I needed. One evening the chef made me a special GF pizza that we took to our favorite pizza spot so I could enjoy my own pizza. The morning we left, everyone had a gluten free pancake breakfast. Mario left homemade GF cookies in my room, fresh fruit, blueberry muffins, and other treats. It made for a wonderful, safe, carefree trip.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


This weekend the Olympic Torch will arrive in Tibet, Lhasa to be exact. In our effort to support our Tibetan community and stand up for human rights issues in Tibet we will keep the Tibetan Flag hanging all summer. This weekend we will display this banner which would be illegal in Tibet. There is no media coverage allowed in Tibet, so don't expect to see any coverage as China parades the Olympic Torch through the capital of Tibet. We stand in solidarity with our Tibetan friends, especially this weekend! We pray for those monks, nuns and citizens who have been oppressed, killed, beaten, imprisoned and "re educated" under the Chinese Government.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


We live in a condo, which means a shared yard. I don't like to garden so I stay clear of volunteering for any association yard work. I do however love to have my own fresh herbs on hand. I am sure they would do much better in the ground but my hanging pots work just find. Every spring I play hooke from work and go to the local farmers market with my partner and get my favorite herbs.  Tina re pots all of them for me. This year we have basil cilantro, parsley, thyme, mint, rosemary, basil and some dill which has already died. It is so fun to have fresh herbs on hand for what ever, when ever. I am partial to the rosemary and the basil. I love tossing diced potatos with olive oil, salt and fresh rosemary and roasting them. I use most of the cilantro for indian dishes. I am a bit conservative with using the basil since I love to make pesto in the fall and freeze it for the winter.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease my partner had a very difficult time dealing with the fact that I could never eat gluten again. She was mostly sad for me, but I know she was worried about how it would impact us. I had to reassure her that she did not need to be gluten free and that we would still enjoy cooking, eating out and sharing food together. Initially it was hard and every time I realized there was something else I would not be able to have Tina was sad. Early on I realized that for the most part I would have to give up french fries and onion rings, two things I just loved, especially in restaurants! Tina came home one day with a small fry daddy and said, we are going to master gluten free onion rings and safely fried french fries. She started with the fries. What a treat. While I had enjoyed many a french fry before, we have never made home fries. They were the best. Then she started working on gluten free onion rings. It did not take her long to perfect them! These onion rings are the result of some very simple steps. After cutting the onion Tina coats them in corn starch, dips them in egg white and then tosses them in Organ gluten free bread crumbs and fries them twice in the fry daddy using vegetable oil. This past Sunday we had some friends over for a grilled burger, tossed salad and these tasty onion rings. They were a big hit!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Fresh squeezed lemonade, the quintessential flavor of summer. It is so easy to make the real thing, and once you taste the difference, you will never drink those awful imitations again. I use the follow as a general guide line, one cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet or tart you like your lemonade and four cups of water. I usually strain the juice before mixing it all together and I love to freeze some in ice cube trays. Using lemonade ice cubes prevents a watered down treat! I also zest all of my lemons before I juice them. I save the zest in zip lock bags in the freezer. That way I have fresh lemon zest on hand!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I have not been tempted by anything until I made this Hungarian Shortbread. By the reactions of those who could indulge, if I ever do decide to cheat, this will be the culprit! I never ache for anything, I find myself completely satisfied on  my gluten free diet, but oh, this does look good. I also don't keep a gluten free kitchen. We are very very careful, two toasters, separate wooden spoons,  a separate freezer for all our gluten free flours, well labeled jars in the fridge and a partner who is equally careful. If I do bake with wheat flour, or any gluten, it is after I have complete my gluten free cooking. This light, crumbly shortbread is the result of a clever technique: freezing the dough and grating it. It is based on a recipe by Dorie Greenspan.

2 cups wheat flour, plus more as needed
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp fine salt
1/2 pound sweet, unsalted butter, plus more to prepare pan
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup good raspberry jam (I use the kind with seeds from Stonewall)

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside. Cream butter in a kitchen aide mixer using the paddle attachment for 2 minutes. Add sugar and egg yolks and continue to cream for another 4 minutes. With the mixer on slow, add the flour mixture until it comes together, about a minute. Turn dough onto a light floured surface and bring together with your hands. Divide dough into two disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for at least an hour and up to 3 hours. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan. Remove disks from freezer, unwrap, and grate one disk using the large holes of a box grater, directly into the the prepared pan. Gently pat grated dough to even it out. Spread the jam evenly over the dough leaving a half inch border around the edges. Grate remaining disk over the jam layer and pat gently to even out the surfaces. Bake until light golden brown, about 45 - 60 minutes, depending on your oven. Cool on a wrack completely before removing from pan. Dust with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Medjool Dates

My sister-in-law turned me on to these decadent treats! O.K., so maybe they are mostly sugar but I can think of a lot of reason why they are good for someone with Celiac. Dates are full of phosphorus, calcium and Vitamin A (helpful in absorbing calcium) and they are loaded with iron. Mine are repackaged locally by my grocer and the label says they are processed in a plant where there is wheat. As soon as I get home, I open the package and wash them really well and put them in my own container. I love to eat them as desert but recently I discovered stuffing them with a small cube of good Parmesan, wrapping them in bacon and roasting them in the oven renders the best treat ever. I don't have a photo to share but trust me these are really good. You can make how ever many you want.

Half the dates width wise and remove the pit.

Stuff a small piece of good Parmesan cheese into each half, you can eyeball the size. You want enough to notice the cheese, if the piece is too small it will simply disappear.

Wrap each stuffed date in about 1/3 a piece of bacon (I like Nueskes) secure with a toothpick.

Cook in a 450 degree oven for about 7 minutes, turn the dates and cook another 7 minutes or so, until the bacon is done. You can assemble these a day ahead if you want and store in an airtight container until your ready to cook.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fresh Pea Soup

I had no idea that some people just don't like peas. My partner Tina is one of them. When I ask people about pea's, I get some very strong, emotional reactions. One person actually said, "evil".  As for myself, I love peas and I look forward to the spring harvest of fresh peas I can shell myself.  For the moment I will settle for frozen peas to make this soup.  You can serve this warm, or chilled, garnished with gluten free croutons and fresh cut chives.
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (about 2 medium leeks)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups chicken stock (I used Kitchen Basics Vegetable broth)
5 cups freshly shelled peas, or 20 ounces frozen peas
2/3 cups fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup gluten free croutons
Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add leeks and onion and cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until tender. Add broth/stock, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the peas, cook 3-5 minutes, until tender. Off the head, add mint, salt and pepper. Puree the soup in a blender until smooth and return to saucepan. Whisk in creme fraiche. For a truly velvet like texture force the soup through a tamis (drum sieve) or a chinos. I used a tamis and the result was remarkable. Serve hot or chilled with gluten free croutons and chives.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Daisy Cake

How's this for a beautiful cake! I made this for my partner to take to work one day using a fun daisy cake pan. I love lemon, lemon anything and this pound cake is irresistible, especially paired with fresh fruit and lemon curd. You can cut the recipe in half and use a loaf pan instead of the daisy cake pan. The cake is infused with a lemon syrup while still warm and then covered with the lemon glaze. The recipe below makes enough batter for a full cake, or two loaf cakes and is easily cut in half.

1/2 pound butter at room temperature.
2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6-8 large lemons)
3 cups gluten free flour (I like Bob's)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
For the glaze you will need:
 2 cups powdered sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease your pan
Cream the butter and two cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for about five minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, then add the lemon zest.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, begin and end with the flour. Pour batter into the pan, smooth the tops and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low until the sugar dissolves. When the cake is done, let it cook for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a rack, set over a tray, and poke holes in the cake with a long wooden toothpick. Spoon the lemon syrup over the cake and allow to cool completely. 
For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and mix with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cake and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Indian Food

I just love Indian cuisine! One of the best aspects of Indian food is that it is by an large naturally gluten free. You do however, need to check out your spices very carefully. I learned this the hard way after using something called Asafetida, or more commonly know as hing. The truth is, I got sloppy and I did not check all my Indian spices and this one slipped through the cracks as a result of my sloppiness. Hing is a gumlike resin made from three different fennel species. It is sold in a solid or powdered form and is often laced with flour to prevent clumping. After discovering that powdered hing indeed contained flour I consulted with my Indian cooking mentor, Raghavan Iyer who initially suggested trying the solid form. A few days later I got a second email from Raghavan warning me that the solid form may also have wheat in it and I should steer clear altogether! Raghavan is a local (Twin Cities, MN) cooking expert, author of three great Indian Cookbooks and instructor of Indian cooking. I have taken two classes from him and for my 50th birthday I hosted a home cooking class that Raghavan taught. I always struggle for an explanation when people ask, "What is curry". Raghavan's definition comes as close as any good explanation: "any dish that consists of either meat, fish, poultry, legumes, vegetables, or fruits, simmered in or covered with a sauce, gravy, or other liquid that is redolent with any number of freshly ground and very fragrant spices and or herbs." Since my partner does not like Indian food, I have to find moments when she is out of town or working late to experiment with this cuisine. I love Raghavan's approach to cooking Indian food and rely on his cookbooks for almost all of my recipes. One in particular that I really enjoy is a version of Malai Koftas that calls for opa (Indian squash) or zucchini.

Malai Koftas
Adapted from Raghavan Iyer

For the croquettes:

1 medium peeled opa squash, or two medium zucchini to render 1 1/2 cups 
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root
2 fresh Thai, Serrano or cayenne chilies, finely chopped
1 cup garbanzo bean flour (besan)
vegetable oil for frying
For the cream sauce:
1 tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon coriander seed, ground
1 teaspoon cumin seed, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon Garam Masaala
1 tablespoon cilantro finely chopped.
To make the croquettes mix the shredded squash with salt in a medium bowl and let stand for 30 minutes. Squeeze as much water out of the squash to drain and then mix with remaining croquette ingredients except oil. Shape into eight balls, slightly larger than a golf ball. Heat oil, 2-3 inches deep in a wok or other heavy pan, to 350 degrees (yes you need a thermometer!) Carefully drop the croquettes into the oil and fry for 2-4 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

To make the cream sauce heat the ghee in a 12 inch skillet over medium high heat. Add the whole cumin seed and let sizzle for 30 seconds. Add the onion and garlic and stir fry 2 -3 minutes, until golden brown. Stir in tomatoes, ground coriander, ground cumin, salt and turmeric. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer 5-6 minutes or until a thin film of oil forms on the surface. Gently stir in the fried croquettes. Cover and simmer 5-6 minutes or until the croquettes have absorbed the sauce and have softened. Remove from heat,  stir in the whipping cream and Garam Masaala, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Asparagus Soup

This is a quintessential spring soup. My friend Jennifer is coming for dinner tonight before we head out to a Lynne Rosetto Kasper event. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to make this soup with the first tender asparagus of the spring. It is inspired from a recipe in Eating Well

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
zest and juice from one lemon, divided
2 cups peeled, diced red potatoes
3 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you prefer)
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups trimmed asparagus, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup finely chopped scallion greens or fresh chives
slivered almonds toasted in sesame oil (optional)

Melt butter and oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, sweat until golden about 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder, ginger, lemon zest and potatoes, stir to blend flavors and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in broth, coconut milk and asparagus. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, partially cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool. Puree in a vitamix (or regular blender) until smooth. Season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper if you like. Strain through a chinos. Whisk creme fraiche lemon juice and scallion or chives in a small bowl and garnish with a swirl, top with toasted slivered almonds. May be served warm, or chilled.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I love Hummos and with the VitaMix, well it is easy to whip up every week. Lately I have been experimenting with different ingredients added into the hummos. My basic recipe calls for two cans of chickpea. You can sure soak dried chickpea and simmer until tender but I have not noticed a significant difference in quality. I add 6 cloves of garlic, juice from 1-2 lemons depending on how lemony I want the hummos, a tablespoon of salt, several good shakes of hot pepper sauce and 1/3 cup of tahini or four tablespoons of sesame seeds. I throw all of this into a Vitamix (you could sure use a food processor) and blend until smooth. My favorie additions are sundried tomato, oil packed, pesto or roasted red peppers.