CarrotTopPestoChef’s favorite flower?  Cauliflower, of course!

I love the texture of steamed cauliflower.  It has such a comfort aspect!  When you have to avoid so many other culinary vices, due to allergies and sensitivities, one simply finds comfort in other dishes.

Honestly, I’m perfectly happy just snacking on it, as is, but sometimes one needs to dress up a bit.  Have you ever tried making Carrot Top Pesto?  It’s easy, it’s beautiful, it has an immense level of flavor and your compatriots ’round the table will be thrilled.  The pictured dish was served with some lovely pork chops.

Carrot Top Pesto

3-4 Cloves of garlic

1/4 C Pine Nuts, toasted

Fresh carrot tops from 2-3 carrots, organic

Olive oil


Lemon Juice

Simply drop your garlic and cooled pine nuts into the food processor.  When they are rough chopped add the carrot tops and a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  Go for it.  If the greens won’t chop, push them down with a rubber scraper and add a touch more olive oil. When everything is emulsified add a dash of salt, a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice and more olive oil until you have the desired texture. 

Carrot Top Pesto can be used in many of the same ways you would use Basil Pesto.  I garnished my cauliflower and pesto dish with some Pecorino Romano cheese.  Many individuals with dairy sensitivity can indulge in cheeses made from sheep and/or goat milk.  Pecorino means sheep.  Do check labels, like always, though.

You have food allergies or sensitivities.  What about your pet?  Does your dog have similar problems with the foods he eats?  Hey, he’s just thrilled to get all those beg-able treats!  Why would he question a good thing like that?!?  Do you know what’s in those goodies you’re tempting him with?

People used to tease me that, of course ‘MY’ dog had allergies, since I do.  It was no joke.  What she ate, was potentially causing a lot of major symptoms.  I started doing some reading on the subject.

Research shows that dogs can be allergic to beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and/or fish. Many dogs with food allergies are are found to be allergic to more than just one item on the list.

My research showed that symptoms could include:  chronic ear inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea and gas, licking their feet, or an itchy rear end.

The best way to determine if this is a problem is thru elimination.  Read the ingredients!  Take away the most common culprits, just like you would do for yourself.  After the symptoms clear up, you can test by reintroducing an ingredient, to confirm. Dietary changes can have a rapid and profound affect.   Don’t be surprised when you find yourself with a healthier, happier dog!

My girl had so many issues that I made her food myself.  People assumed it was because I was a Chef, so my dog had to eat gourmet meals, too!  She certainly enjoyed what I created for her, but honestly, my big scary girl had a very delicate intestinal system and suffered from severe skin problems if she ate a number of different ingredients.  It was so much easier to just make food for her most of her life.  She took care of me and I took care of her.

I am not recommending you start making your own dog food.  It’s a pretty big job.  With so many excellent products available now, you will probably be able to find a food and treats that works for your best friend.  If you are considering this step, I would recommend Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health For Your Dog.  This is a book I recently added to my collection.  You will find it will take you through the minefield of canine diet in a clear and do-able format.


My girl!


The roast chicken I made last night was perfect!  So good that, upon opening the refrigerator this morning, I am faced with the evidence of our sins; over indulgence; gluttony… No reminder quite as stern, as a nearly decimated chicken carcass.  Not picked totally clean, mind you!  No, we showed a certain level of restrain; mostly the result of food coma onset.

So, how does one atone for this?  What to do with the gleanings of this once proud bird?  I’m thinking soup!

While contemplating the thick puddle of fat my once feathered culinary cohort is residing in, I conclude that overindulgence is something he/she could have clearly related to.  Fat = Flavor!  This is gonna be wonderful stock to make my soup with.  (If you aren’t familiar with making stock from scratch, I have included instruction at the bottom of the recipe)

Further perusal of the fridge’s deeper recesses produces a poblano, one lonely roma tomato, an onion, half of a delicata squash, a couple carrots and some celery.  I’m getting ideas!  Diligence yields fresh corn tortillas, cilantro and avocado!  Yup!  I’m going to make

Tortilla Soup

This can be a complicated soup or a very simple soup.  I think of it as Mexican Refrigerator Soup.  Once you have the basics, there are many additional ingredients that are good in it.

If you are in a hurry, grab some commercial stock and do a quick poach with fresh chicken.  I prefer to use thighs for the flavor, but you can use breast meat if you would rather.

Mire poix ~ minced onion, carrot & celery

Olive oil

Garlic, minced




Mildly Hot Pepper – you can use whatever heat level you enjoy.  If using a larger pepper, like a poblano, you will need to roast and peel it before mincing.  The seeds contain a lot of the heat.  I usually discard them.  I want the flavors in balance. 

Sweet red pepper, seeded and minced

Using a soup pot, start cooking the mire poix in the olive oil.  You want to sweat it down with moderate heat.  When it’s about half done, add the peppers, and garlic.  Continue to cook.  I like to also put my spices in at this time.  The heat opens up the flavors for maximum impact.  When the vegetables are done add the rest of the ingredients

Chicken stock

Chopped or shredded chicken meat

Tomato – I prefer to have the chicken element at the forefront, so chose to use a small amount of V-8.  If you want more tomato, by all means use your favorite tomato puree or even roasted & chopped tomato.

Cilantro, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Other ingredients that work well:

Beans, corn, winter squash, and/or a small amount of chiffonade baby kale at the finish

Corn tortillas (check ingredients to be sure they do not contain any wheat) Cut into julienne strips

Avocado, cut into small bites

Cilantro rough chopped

Fresh Lime

Fry the tortillas just before it’s time to plate.   Fry them quickly, either in a deep fryer or using stove top method.  Toss with salt and allow to drain.

Mix the avocado, cilantro and lime in a bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

To plate:  place some fried tortilla in the bottom of the bowl.  Top with a ladle of soup.  Top with the avocado salad.  Garnish with additional tortilla strips and serve.

This is a fun recipe to play around with.  It’s super easy to avoid:  gluten, soy, nuts, and dairy

How to make stock from  left over chicken

Remove as much of the meat as possible.  Set aside.  Place the carcass in a stock pot and cover with cold water.  Add aromatics, ie:  onion, celery, carrot, fresh lemon, bay leaf, cinnamon stick.  I do NOT add salt to my stock.  I prefer to have total control of the salt levels in the dishes I make.  Salt in the stock can be quite the ‘wild card’ detail to work around.  Making stock from a left over roast chicken, can have some salt remaining from the initial roasting.  Just be aware of it.

Allow your stock to come to a full simmer and hold it there for an hour, or more.  The longer it cooks, the more flavor it will have.

For soup, I don’t generally remove the resulting fat.  I want that flavor in the finished product.  If I am using the stock for sauces, etc.  I definitely do not want it.  To remove, allow the stock to cool in the refrigerator.  The health department recommends the stock be no more then two inches deep while cooling.  This should be a small enough batch of stock that that won’t be a problem.  Do be aware of other ingredients in the refrigerator stored near the cooling liquid.  You don’t want them to become warm.

Once the liquid is fully cooled, the fat will rise to the surface.  Simply scoop it off.

It is possible to carefully skim off a lot of the fat with a ladle, while it’s hot, but cooling first gets more and gives a chance for the flavors in the fat to meld with the liquid.

BBgranolabarGr…………………anola bars!  Blueberry!  Gluten Free Granola Bars!

Do you live with lovers of granola bars?  Those individuals that are always in a hurry/snack seekers/lovers of seemingly healthy morsels to nosh on at random times?

I assume you’ve noticed the increasing array of choices, as well as the way a handful of these beauties make you do a double take when the grocery checker gives you the total for that ONE bag of groceries!  Now, I must inquire… have you read the INGREDIENTS?  Some brands, actually ARE healthy, but, many sadly are not.

I’ve been playing around with some recipes.  This is today’s favorite!  The peanut butter ones disappeared before I could get any pictures.  I’m told they taste exactly like peanut butter cookies.  I’ll share that recipe soon.  You got this picture because I’m home alone.

  Gluten Free Blueberry Granola Bars

This recipe is also free of:  Dairy, nuts, soy, corn and processed sugar.  Don’t tell the fam, but they are even vegan…

1 1/2 Cups Toasted Gluten Free rolled oats                                                   (place on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven, shaking occasionally, until lightly browned)

1 Cup pitted dates, emulsified in a food processor

3/4 Cup dried apricots, minced either with a food processor or by hand.  note:  I used unsulfured, but that’s a personal choice.

3/4 Cup dried blueberries

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/3 C hot agave syrup

While the oats are in the oven, emulsify the dates and mince the apricots.  Place in a mixing bowl with the blueberries and salt.  When the oats are done, immediately add to the fruit mixture.  Heat the agave in the microwave until just about to boil.  Pour this into the bowl and mix everything together.  Press the granola mixture into a plastic wrap lined 8×8 baking dish.  Refrigerate.  When they are fully chilled and firm, cut into bars, wrap individually and put back into the fridge.

Caution:  Stampede Warning!


Summer’s harvest of gorgeous, ripe tomatoes, in all their glory, is a rapidly diminishing memory.  Sigh… I learned a trick, years ago, to make tomatoes taste good all year round!

Roasting tomatoes is super easy and does amazing things for the flavor.  As a bonus, they have no gluten, egg, dairy, corn, nuts, or any other allergens added, unless you are allergic to tomatoes or the nightshade family!!

This is a phenomenal ingredient to have in the fridge.  Layer them on a sandwich.  (By the way, we made an astonishing find; Franz has a really good gluten free bread out on the market! I know?!?!)  You can also toss them with gluten free pasta, in a salad, use with fresh mozzarella for a caprese, add them to soup, or just snack on them!

One of my secrets, as a Chef, is my mystery ingredient stash…  I keep such things in my fridge to add to dishes and make them magical with little or no effort.  Actually, I’m pretty lazy.  I’d much rather be hanging out with my family or dinner guests, instead of slaving away in the kitchen during those last hours before dinner is served.  Ingredients like this will get you that Culinary Goddess Tiara you’re eying…

Roasted Tomatoes

It feels like I’m cheating to call this a recipe.  Really, you just need some tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roma tomatoes are your best out-of-season option, generally.  Once washed, you will want to quarter them lengthwise.  If they are really large ones, cut into six pieces, if you wish.  Put them in a non reactive bowl.  Toss with a light dressing of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  You don’t have to use the paper, but it sure makes cleanup a lot easier.

You are going to put them in a 350 degree oven and let them roast until they start to soften; or cook them more if you prefer.  This will be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.  It totally depends on the moisture level of your tomatoes.  You can also do them in a slower, 300 degree oven for a longer period to make them a bit more intensely flavored.  Which ever way you like!

It’s so fun to walk by the massive piles of pumpkins outside the grocery stores.  I especially get a kick out of the monster pumpkins displayed in front of Central Market on Saturday.  Being me, my first thought involved, “How many pumpkin pies, cheesecakes, cookies, muffins, crisps, batches of pumpkin soup, pumpkin souffle, pumpkin hash… would one of those magnificent behemoths make?” Yeah, I know, those aren’t ‘sugar pumpkins’, grown for baking, but still… So, I came home and created a new gluten free Pumpkin Cookie recipe!


I am really pleased with the texture I achieved with this recipe.  So often, pumpkin cookies can be too cakey, doughy or rubbery. 

Gluten Free Maple Nut Pumpkin Cookies

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup packed C&H brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups Red Mill ‘1 to 1’ Gluten Free Baking flour
  • 2 cups Certified Gluten Free Rolled Oats
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla extract

1 (15-ounce) can Organic pumpkin purée

1/2 cup granulated Maple Sugar and 1 cup finely ground Walnuts to roll cookies in.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream the butter with the sugars.  When beautifully whipped, add the egg and whip until fully integrated.  Add the salt and the spices.  Stir.

Put the oats and the baking flour in a separate bowl and stir them together until well blended.  Put half this mixture into the bowl with the butter, sugar, etc.  Add half the pumpkin.  Stir.  Carefully add the rest of the oat mixture and pumpkin until both are all in.  Now add the baking powder and the vanilla.  Stir until just mixed throughout the batter.

Using a spoon, drop a walnut sized round of batter into the sugar and walnut mixture.  Carefully roll it around to cover.  Batter is soft, but this is do-able.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Space cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  The cookies should be light brown and somewhat firm to the touch.  Remove to a cooling rack immediately upon taking them out of the oven.  You don’t want the bottoms to continue cooking.

This would be a great cookie to take to work and NOT tell people they are good for them!



torta_nThe difficulty of cooking for someone that can’t eat gluten or dairy is especially hard at breakfast and brunch.  While the fam is chowing down of waffles and pancakes and toast and biscuits and cinnamon rolls and muffins and scones and… well, you get the point.  “I’ll have the boring eggs and bacon, please,” long suffering sigh….

So, let’s get creative with ingredients from the foods this person CAN have!  Tortas are super easy, taste great and look impressive!  The concept hails from both Italy and Spain .  For best results, use a cast iron skillet to prepare the dish in.  Single serving size pans, like in the picture, are fun to serve directly to the table on a charger plate.

In a nutshell, you simply throw some favorite ingredients in a pan; cooking raw ingredients in the pan first, add some scrambled raw egg and seasoning.  Pop the entire creation into a preheated 450 degree oven until the eggs are set and serve!

The pictured dish was a Parco favorite.

1 raw Italian link (Read the ingredients! Many Sausages contain gluten, dairy and a host of other unnecessary things.)

Thinly sliced raw onion

Julienne strips of sweet red pepper or spicy pepper if you prefer.  If using hot peppers, you may want to mince them so they aren’t just bites of heat in the finished dish.

Cook these ingredients with a small amount of olive oil directly in the cast iron pan.  Once 90% done, add three well scrambled eggs, salt and pepper.

Put the pan in the oven.

When it’s done, eggs will be set, but still moist.  Please don’t over cook or they will be rubbery.

I liked to serve the dish with a garnish of Earthbound Farms Wild Baby Arugula and one of my house made savory jams like sweet pepper jam or smoked jalapeno jam.  You could use all manor of favorites from your fridge.

To complete, I served the Torta with fresh hash browns.  For a more Spanish presentation, try frying up some par cooked potato in the pan with the protein and vegetables, then top with the eggs.

This is one of the recipes with endless possibility.  Have fun and don’t be surprised when the rest of the family wants one, too.

kale salad_nWarm Kale Salad

This is an easy to prepare dish I created at my last restaurant.  Kale is such a popular ingredient.  I toyed with a couple different concepts, finally falling in love with this preparation featuring Organic Baby Kale.  Earthbound Farms packages my favorite blends.  Look for it in the packaged salad and greens aisle of your favorite grocery store.  Like so many recipes I created for my restaurants, it is free of gluten, soy, and corn.  This lovely dish also contains no nuts, egg or dairy.  So unless you can’t eat bacon, it’s a crowd pleaser!

To prepare the salad:

Earthbound Farms Organic baby kale  note:  You can use larger kale, but must carefully remove all stem material and tear into bite sized pieces.  These older greens will have a stronger flavor, but it’s all a matter of personal preference.

Crisp bacon crumbles I really like to use apple smoked bacon!

Bacon fat, reserved from cooking the bacon

Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Thinly sliced fresh garlic

Maple Sugar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the bacon fat in a sauce pan.  note:  you can substitute olive oil for some of the bacon fat, if you have concern at consuming the bacon fat.  Be aware that the flavor for the salad is primarily from this ingredient, though.  Add approximately half as much vinegar as fat.  When these are beginning to get hot, add the garlic.  Cook quickly, remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour over the clean baby kale. Toss gently.  Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of maple sugar and s&p to taste.  If substituting olive oil for part of the fat, you will need to season it heavier to compensate.   Finish tossing and serve immediately.  This is not a dish that can be left to sit.


IMG_CeleryRootSo often we may have a great idea for a dinner entree, but what on earth should we serve with it???  If we could just come up with a side dish that is as outstanding as the main dish!  It needs to complement, yet have just the right level of integrity to stand up to the item it is sharing a plate with.  There’s also that whole time issue.  Do you really want to spend hours, slaving over a bunch of different dishes?

This is a fun concept I have played with at a couple of my restaurants.  It uses healthy root vegetables and has a similarity to risotto in preparation and texture.  You can use yam, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, turnips and/or celeriac (celery root).  Do keep in mind, to use numerous items from the list you are going to end up with a sizable batch!  So, invite friends over!  Invite them early and they can help cut up the vegetables, too!

The dish in the picture is featuring celeriac.  I made it to go with wine braised chicken and mushrooms.  It is free of gluten, soy, corn, egg, nut, and is dairy free if made without the butter.  Using vegetable stock, makes it vegan as well.

Fall Celeriac ‘Risotto’

1 medium yellow onion, minced

1 smallish carrot, peeled and minced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 whole celeriac, peeled and minced

2-3 fresh sage leaf, chiffonade

chicken or vegetable stock

butter, optional

Using a small amount of olive oil, saute the onion and carrot until softened.  Add the garlic and cook until is begins to soften as well.  Add the celeriac, sage and salt and pepper to taste.  In the style of risotto, add a little stock at a time, cooking over medium heat, until your vegetables are nearly done.  Taste for salt levels, adjust if needed.  To finish, add the butter and allow to simmer for a bit to absorb the last little bit of liquid.  If you accidentally put in too much liquid, drain it off and finish as above.

I kept seasoning in this dish fairly simple.  I wanted the flavor of the vegetables to be the primary with the herbs and spice of the chicken I served with  it, carrying the responsibility.  Root vegetable risottos are a clean slate to play with different spice combinations.  If you are unsure what to use, my favorite culinary book is The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg.  It’s basically a chemistry book for chefs.  It has concise lists of suggested additions to complement your other ingredients in a dish.  This book is a great tool in any creative kitchen!