Dairy Free

  • Time Travel Chicken (1/4/2016)


    A brush of snow on the ground, heater running full blast, sweaters, slippers, a hot beverage… Yes, Winter has arrived and it’s time to get on that ‘Culinary Bus’ and head to the kitchen to create something that zings with flavors of warmer places and seasons!

    Porcini Mushrooms speak of Spring and hope for warmth!  Chefs and Foodies quiver with delight as these morsels hit the market every year.  So, being January, I delved into my stash of dried Porcini to create this dish!

    How to season this particular bird… A rub of ground Porcini will give it a rich earthy aroma and hints of the reawakening forest floor, but more is needed to convince my palate that, indeed, it will be Spring again!  Taking my nose through the spice jars led to Sri Lankan Curry!curry_sri_lankan_wholeThis beautiful blend of Indian Coriander Seed, Cumin Seed, Cinnamon, Fennel Seed, Fenugreek Seed, Cardamom Seed, Japones, Black and Tellicherry Peppercorn, and Cloves from Seattle’s World Spice Market added exactly the right amount of Zing, Pow, Bam needed to make this a highly memorable dish!

    After roasting the bird, use the drippings and a few more chopped porcini to make a risotto.  Enjoy!!  Chef Celinda

  • The Book of Betty (11/16/2015)

    oatmeal1“Rainy Days and Mondays” always make me think of warm couches, fires and cookies… So, I drug out my ancient, well, circa 1972, “Betty Crocker Cooky Book” for inspiration.  Turning those well thumbed pages, finding the dog eared treasures, with pictures (and greasy finger prints to match) unearthed a flood of warm memories.  Oatmeal seemed just the thing to make this rainy Monday perfect.  Feeling delightfully lazy, I figured bar cookies were the best thing to create…

    Gluten Free Oat Bars with Maple Buttercream

    Cream together:

    1 C softened unsalted butter

    1/2 C white sugar

    1/2 C packed light brown sugar


    2 eggs  Continue beating until creamy and smooth


    1 C Redmills 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour

    1 C Gluten Free Rolled Oats

    1 tsp Real Vanilla

    1 tsp Kosher Salt

    When well mixed, add:

    1/2 tsp baking soda

    1/2 tsp baking powder

    Just make sure these are mixed in thoroughly.  Don’t over mix at this point.

    Spread the soft dough across a lipped baking sheet that you have greased with either butter or a light coating of Olive Oil pan spray. Place into a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 12-14 minutes, or until the top browns and the cookies begin feeling firm.  Remember, these will continue to cook in the hot pan after you take them out of the oven.  Of course, if you want your cookies crisp, you are welcome to cook them a bit more.  It’s up to you!  When they are done, place on a rack to cool.

    The buttercream is super easy:

    1 1/2 C powdered sugar

    1/4 C softened butter

    1/2 C Real maple syrup

    Toss this all into the mixer and whip until smooth and creamy.  Spread over the cooled cookies.  When the buttercream is set, cut the cookies into whatever shape and size that makes you smile.  Enjoy your Monday!

    Thanks for visiting Fearless Feast!  Chef Celinda


  • Mi Masa Su Masa (4/20/2015)

    masa fish n plantains
    So many gluten free flour blends are heavy with rice flour.  These tend to magnify my waistline…  A perusal of my pantry turned up a lovely bag of masa harina; corn that has been soaked in lime, then ground into a flour.  This made a spectacular light coating for the long-line rockfish I picked up at Town & Country’s Central Market in Shoreline today.

    Cut your fish into serving size pieces, salt each side and dust lightly with the masa.  Brown on each side in hot olive oil.  Top with a mixture of fresh mango and minced jalapeno.  Pop into a preheated 400 degree oven.  You want to cook rockfish fully.  It will be flaky, white throughout and no longer opaque.

    To complete my theme I served the delicate fish with Abenaki’s Corn Polenta.  I picked up this beautiful multi-hued polenta from the people that grow the corn, grind it with utmost care and then sell it at the Eugene, Oregon farmer’s market a few weeks ago.  This is some of the best polenta I have encountered, to date. I cooked it with fresh stock and a squeeze of lime to bring out the lovely corn flavor. Check out their website www.lonesomewhistlefarm.com

    For some fun texture I made my own version of tostones; double fried green plantain.  Simply score the plantain down each side, snip the ends and pop into the microwave until soft and the skin is dark brown/black.  One large plantain took about three and a half minutes in my microwave.  Once the fruit is soft, let it cool just enough to handle and remove the skin.  Cut into 12-14 rounds.  The recipes I’ve seen call for all manner of methods to ‘smash’ the rounds, but being a chef with ‘cast-iron’ hands (who needs fingerprints, anyway!) I placed them between two pieces of wax paper and smooshed them fairly flat with the heel of my hand.  You could use a glass, a plate, a pan, whatever is handy.  Now fry them on one side in olive oil in a cast iron pan.  Turn them over in the oil and place the pan into your 400 degree oven with the fish, until they are done.  I made mine fairly crisp, but do them how ever you prefer.  They can even be cooked extra crisp and served with a dip for a fun appetizer.

    Some zucchini sauteed with World Spice’s Caribbean Curry and a bit of fresh minced cilantro to finish!  It was VERY quiet around the dinner table at my house!
    Enjoy!!  Chef Celinda

  • March Madness (3/27/2015)

    The sun is occasinoally popping out in startling glory, yet despite calendar exclamations of the changing season, my Spring Fever or March Madness is creating a longing for moist garden soil running through my fingers, outdoor expeditions and, above all, Warmth!

    To keep the depression at bay, brought on by malingering Winter evidence, I cook food from warm climates.  Tonight my home smells of the Caribbean!  Lime, coconut, allspice, nutmeg, such lovely acquaintances…

    To accompany a pork roast rubbed with lime zest and those warm friends, I created a “Caribbean Succotash”.  I am using that term loosely, since there were no lima beans involved, but it seemed like the perfect name for this dish.

    1 each yam and sweet potato, peeled and cut into small dice
    1/2 Yellow Onion, minced
    Organic Virgin Coconut oil
    1 small Jalapeno, seeded and  minced
    1/2 Cup shredded coconut
    1 banana, peeled and diced
    3 Tbsp World Spice’s Caribbean Curry blend
    6oz Pineapple Juice
    Kosher Salt

    Saute the sweet potato, yam, onion and jalapeno in the coconut oil until beginning to brown a bit.  Add the curry blend and cook for two more minutes.  Turn off the heat, add the pineapple juice, banana and coconut.  Toss together.  Salt to taste and place in a 350 degree oven.  Cook until nicely browned, about 45 minutes.

    Like every dish on Fearless Feast, this recipe contain no gluten nor many other allergens.

    Enjoy!!  Chef Celinda

  • Shanks! (3/4/2015)


    lambshankAw, for the love of Lamb Shank!  Spring is here!!! At least it is, in Seattle!

    A supremely simple pleasure to prepare:

    Season each shank with salt and pepper then brown on all sides.  Place in a dish large enough to hold them all.  Add chopped Spring Onion, fresh minced garlic minced orange peel and a non-oaked white wine to fill the pan to the half way point.  Add additional seasoning, seal with parchment, foil and the lid.  Place in a preheated 325 degree oven for about three and a half hours.  The shanks are ready to serve, but I prefer to do this a day ahead, chill uncovered, remove the fat layer and reheat.  You will find the texture to be much better, if you have the time to do this.

    To serve, Spring asparagus and carrots were the perfect touch with a garnish of gremolata made from citrus zest, mint, flat leaf parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

    Cooking without gluten is so very easy!!  Enjoy!  Chef Celinda

  • Silver for the King (2/22/2015)

    cohoPretty, wild Silver, also known as Coho, Alaskan salmon is incredible when prepared with dense, flavorful King Oyster mushrooms.
    This variety of mushroom combines the flavor, we love, of the oyster mushroom, with a dense meatiness that adds incredible texture to your dish.  You will find them to willlingly avail themselves of the flavors you introduce in the pan.  Tonight, I chose to saute them in butter with shallot and cardamom.  When they were sufficiently softened, I deglazed with Oloroso sherry, then a touch of maple syrup, the sweetness balanced by Jerez sherry vinegar.

    Coco, or Silver salmon are frequently found at a much better price in your fish market.  Being a smaller fish, you need to handle them pretty gently, when cooking.  They can dry out in a heartbeat!  Keep a close eye on them as you pan roast, poach or oven roast this wonderful fish.

    For those of you seeking to keep your diet free of allergens, fresh wild salmon is an excellent choice.  Firm fish, like salmon, do not need a coating, as do more delicate fish, like sole.  This means, you can usually count on it as a Gluten Free option on restaurant menus.  Do carefully read the menu description, though.  Ask you server, to be sure it is safe.  At home, Salmon is wonderful with so many flavors, sauces, cooking styles and accompaniments.  Be creative!  Enjoy!  Chef Celinda

  • Sword Fights (1/27/2015)

    1102-swordfish-filletsA thrust, a parry, dodge and lunge!  To the victor go the spoils; realized in Blood Orange Marinated Swordfish!  I scored a couple gorgeous Swordfish steaks at Pure Food Fish, in Pike Market!PureFood3
    Swordfish simply adores citrus.  An hour, bathing in a blend of blood orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper leaves you with a remarkably flavorful and tender piece of fish.  A quick sear, followed by a short rest and this delightful fish is ready to join your favorite side dishes.  The featured picture shows roasted Spring onions, baby artichokes and saffron risotto.
    Enjoy!  Chef Celinda

  • Dance of the Wallflower (1/20/2015)

    celeriac-root-with-tops-intactSome perfectly wonderful ingredients simply work at being ignored!  Celeriac, or also known as, Celery Root, is one of those ingredients.

    Yes, it’s kinda homely.  The name doesn’t necessarily inspire creativity.  Yet, it has a great deal going for it!  Celeriac can be prepared pretty much the same way you would a potato; in fact, some diners would never notice you slipped some onto their plate in place of the weight loss inhibiting potato…

    I’ve been endeavoring to work with celeriac.  It’s lovely raw, grated in a salad, or cook and then puree or mash this healthful treat.  The flavors are subtly bitter/sweet with notes of anise, celery, hazelnuts, and/or walnut.  Mashed Celeriac has a lovely fluffy texture.  The only hard part is peeling it.  Get out a nice sharp knife and just go for it.  A carrot peeler really isn’t going to touch this hunk of joy!

    I decided to try using Celeriac in a braise featuring Italian herbs and wine.  Oh, my!  The battle was on!  Those beautiful, soft, luscious chunks of roasted vegetable brought out the aggressive side to those at my table… So good!  Please do try this soon!

    Enjoy! Chef Celinda CelRoot2

  • Fishing For Sunshine (1/20/2015)

    I have a large desire to find myself surrounded by jungles, sand, soft breezes and the lulling sound of Caribbean water lapping the shore… Yeah, I know, not happening, but I can fool my taste buds, for a little while, anyway…

    Pretty cod, pan seared with Gluten Free flour, sits atop sweet potato, dusted with a blend of Turmeric, Allspice Berry, Indonesian Cassia, Cumin Seed, Indian Coriander Seed, Ginger Powder, Cardamom Seed, Tellicherry Black Peppercorn, Nutmeg, and Habanero, is then roasted with coconut, jalapeno and lime zest.  Fresh lime makes a side of escarole sing sultry tunes.  Cilantro lingers for a pungent reminder:  The Sun is always shining somewhere in the World!

    Enjoy!  Chef Celinda


  • In Search of Romance (1/19/2015)

    Morocco, a land of romance, camels, sand, and history.  A past that colors the food of it’s present with flavors hailing from France, Spain and North Africa. tagineBraised dishes are very popular in Moroccan cuisine.  They are typically prepared in an earthenware pot called a tajine or tagine which is also the name of the dish when complete.  The pot can be found painted or glazed.  The domed lid traps the rising moisture and directs it back into the food below.

    The tagine is so pretty and fun, it makes me want to create!  But, if you don’t have one, don’t fret, you can obtain the same results with any good braising pot or dutch oven.

    Make your braise the same way you normally would.  You are merely adding some different ingredients and spices to recreate the flavors of this exotic destination.

    The pictured dish above was a quick version.  Using left over roasted pork shoulder, I put this tempting creation together in a little over an hour.  Most of that time was spent in the oven!

    To create mine, saute minced onion with julienne sweet pepper and a hot chili.  Add bite sized pieces of pork, or other roasted protein, chopped pitted dates, dried apricots, raisins, pine nuts, lemon jest & juice and stock.  Now season with salt, pepper and ras al hanout.  This is a North African spice blend.  The name is Arabic for “the best of the shop”.  Each shop has their own blend and guards their recipe jealously.  You can anticipate the flavors of cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, clove, nutmeg, dry ginger, peppercorn, sweet and hot paprika, mace, alspice, fenugreek, chili pepper and dried turmeric.  Depending on where the blend hails from, it might also include ingredients like:  ash berries, chufa, grains of paradise, orris root, monk’s pepper, cubebs, dried rosebud, fennel seed or aniseed, galangal and/or long pepper.  Fun!!

    A typical Moroccan tagine is served over cous cous.  For a gluten free side, try using quinoa.

    Enjoy!!  Chef Celinda

  • Big Butts! (1/15/2015)

    PorkButtThere is little more appealing then a slice of fresh roasted Pork Butt/Shoulder, just out of the oven, steaming and dripping all over!

    It is commonly braised and used for pulled pork and a variety of other options.  I love to simply roast them.  The fat within bastes throughout during the cooking process, adding moisture and remarkable flavor.

    You can buy these with or without bones.  The bone-in has more flavor, but more challenging when it comes time to slice pretty pieces.  If you have a boneless one, be sure to open the flap created from removing the bones and season inside, as well.

    I don’t generally brine a butt/shoulder.  (and YES, the name is interchangeable for this cut of meat)  You certainly can brine, if you have desire and the space.

    Once seasoned, if cooking a boneless Pork Butt, you will want to tie it.  Otherwise, the top tends to lift up and become dry.

    Pork is so very versatile.  It lends itself to a wide variety of different cuisines, so when it comes to seasoning, its wide open.  If you are cooking a big piece, you may want to keep the seasoning simple, so you can use it to prepare several diverse meals.  I get a kick out of my “Deja-Food” machinations.  The challenge is to prepare of meal, using ‘left-overs’ while utterly fooling the picky eaters at the table.

    If you have the ability to handle a large quantity of Pork Butt, I would recommend going to one of the several Cash & Carry stores.  They are all over the Seattle area.  These stores are set up for restaurants and other food oriented retail operations, but they are licensed for non-commercial purchases, as well.  You will pay half the price per pound that you would spend at a grocery store.  You will ALSO have a package containing two full butts.  A ‘whole’ butt is from both sides of the pig, so two pieces. I generally cook one whole one, while cutting the other into two units that I freeze for another day.  You can cut the first smaller, as well.  You are in charge!

    Enjoy!! Chef Celinda


    Nic’s contribution…

  • Sq-isotto?? (1/15/2015)

    ButternutFennel'Risotto'What should I call a dish made with minced butternut squash, fresh minced fennel and onion cooked slowly, while adding small increments of stock?  Kinda like risotto, but no rice!

    This is one of those sneaky side dishes that will win the show every time.  The guests at the table, will all look at you and ask, “What is it?  Oh, it is soooo GOOD!”

    The essence of the fennel mellows with the subtle sweet squash flavors.  Being the first time I played with this concept, I didn’t look to add more then salt for seasoning and a touch of sherry vinegar to balance the sweetness from both vegetables and the onion.

    It would do well with hard cheeses, like Parmigianno.  Many of the warm spices would be good options, as well as your favorite chilies, cooked into the mixture from the beginning.  Fresh herbs can elevate in a large variety of directions.  Make your choices based on what you will be serving with this lovely side dish.

    Enjoy!!  Chef Celinda

  • Fennel Top Pesto (1/15/2015)

    FennelTopPestoIt’s Green.  It’s Easy.  It has an immense FLAVOR.  It is also very versatile!

    Try it tossed into pasta with Feta or Gorgonzola for a simple but amazing meal!

    Try is as a condiment with roast chicken, fish or pork entree’s

    Slather a thin layer on grilled bread and top with roasted Roma tomatoes and Pecorino Romano for a magnificent winter Bruschetta.

    Envision a sandwich featuring thinly sliced roast chicken, Gouda, fresh apple and a thin slather of this magnificent pesto!

    Fennel Top Pesto

    Save the long, thin stems and frilly leaves from  your next fennel bulb.  Chop it roughly and place in a food processor with fresh garlic and roasted pine nuts.  Pulse a few times to mingle the ingredients and start breaking it down.  Add a little extra virgin olive oil and blend.  Add more oil, a little at a time until it is the desired consistency.  I did mention that this recipe is ridiculously easy?

    Enjoy!!  Chef Celinda

  • Too Pretty to Eat? (1/13/2015)

    LambCCOrangeGremToo pretty?  Never!!  Grab me a fork!

    Rack of Lamb with Orange Gremolata

    Lamb Rack, frenched, typically eight bones
    Rosemary, minced
    Garlic, minced
    Cara Cara Orange, zested and supremed into separate dishes
    Salt and pepper
    Italian flay leaf parsley, chopped
    Shallot, minced
    Pine nuts, toasted

    Chef’s Secret:  The key to cooking lamb is patience.  To achieve the beautiful color in the picture, you need to allow it to rest.  If you don’t, when you cut it, all those lovely juices run free.

    Cut the rack into portions, allowing three to four ribs per person when using small imported lamb.  If you are using American lamb, it is usually from larger animals, so you won’t need as many ribs per person.

    Salt and pepper all surfaces.  Set it aside and allow to come to room temperature.  This creates more even cooking through out.

    Mix the orange zest, rosemary and garlic.  Set aside.

    Heat a cast iron skillet with a small amount of olive oil.  Place the lamb in it, meat side down.  Brown this.  When that is achieved, turn it over.  While the back side is cooking, rub the orange zest mixture all over the meat side of the rack.  Now, put the pan, with the lamb into a 400 degree oven. Cooking time will be determined by the size of the portions.  When the meat is no longer smushy, but beginning to be firm to the touch, pull the pan from the oven.  Transfer the racks, uncut, to a plate and set aside.

    While they are resting for 10-15 minutes you can complete any side dishes and make the orange salad garnish.  To make this, combine the orange supremes with the parsley, shallot and pine nuts.

    Once the lamb is fully rested, carefully cut between the rib bones to make chops.  They should be beautifully pink, warm all the way through and not losing their juices.  Plate them and top with the supreme salad.

    Enjoy!!   Chef Celinda

  • Sunday’s Comin’! (1/10/2015)

    porkcandyhashSunday, especially gloomy Winter Sundays are synonymous with BRUNCH.  And a memorable brunch needs to include PORK BELLY!

    Pork Candy Hash

    This delightful dish was a Parco creation.  You need to plan this ahead, but it’s easy to put together when it’s time to feed all the little Piggies at your table!

    For braise:

    Pork Belly, uncured

    Maple Syrup, REAL, preferably grade B (dark)


    For hash:

    Partially cooked red potatoes, diced (peel, if desired)

    Apple, cored, sliced with peel still on.  I like to use Pink Lady apples.  Great flavor and color!

    Onion, chopped or julienne, as desired

    Baby Kale, I always enjoy using Earth Bound Farms Organic Baby Kale blend

    Rosemary, minced

    Apple cider vinegar, Try Bragg’s!!

    Salt and pepper

    Eggs, preferably Organic, Cage-free hen eggs or your choice of other varieties

    You need to braise the pork belly first.  It’s super easy.  You will need a pan that will hold the belly, laid out and deep enough for the liquid.  Salt the belly on both sides and lay in the pan.  Add cold water to reach half way up the side.  You want it sloshy but not fully submerged.  Now drizzle on the syrup.  If you are in a pinch to make, but don’t have the syrup, try molasses or brown sugar.

    To braise, first cover the meat with parchment paper, then seal the top tightly with heavy foil.  Carefully place into the oven.  325 degrees for standard or 300 for convection.  Personally, I prefer to do my braises in a convection oven.  The texture is more consistent.  You will cook this for three hours.  When it’s done, remove the foil and paper then fully chill.

    When cooled, carefully remove the fat layer from the top of the liquid and discard.  Notice the beautiful gelatinous brown ‘jelly’ around the pork belly?  You want to save this, it’s BELLY JELLY and makes a wonderful ingredient to enhance other dishes.

    Place the cooked belly on a cutting board and cut into portions.  For the hash recipe, you will want to cut each portion into bite size pieces.  Place these in a good cast iron skillet with just enough olive oil to keep them from sticking.  Bring the morsels to temperature.  Be careful, they have a lot of moisture and will pop and snap.  Ow!!!  Once warm, pull from the heat and drizzle with more maple syrup.  No subs at this point!!  Place in a 350 degree oven until they caramelize.

    While the belly is lolling about in the oven, place the potatoes, apple slices, onion and rosemary in a size-able cast iron pan.  Note:  if you don’t have any, when you look into purchasing, look at Lodge brand pans.  Excellent quality and will last forever!  Cook potatoes until nicely browned.  The belly should be finished.  Carefully remove the morsels and mix into the potatoes.  You do not want the remaining fat in the caramelizing pan.  Watch that you don’t get burned on the HOT maple caramel!

    To finish the dish, add the baby kale and a dash of cider vinegar.  Adjust the seasoning and cook until the kale is just wilted.  Plate and top with a pair of eggs, sunny side up or basted.

    This meal epitomized FOOD FUN!!  Enjoy!  Chef Celinda

  • No Passport Needed (1/4/2015)


    Balsamico e Burro!  Park me in a chair, tighten my seat belt and hand me a fork! An ‘armchair’ vacation made in culinary heaven!

    This fresh Coho Salmon, wrapped with Speck prosciutto, in Balsamic, garlic and butter sauce will induce severe ‘Vacation’ brain.  It’s pretty easy to create, too!

    Salmon, boned and cut into 6 oz portions

    Speck prosciutto, have thinly sliced when you purchase

    Fresh rosemary, finely minced

    Shallot, julienne

    Garlic, thinly sliced

    Cold unsalted butter, cut into large cubes

    Salt and pepper

    Fresh Italian parsley, minced

    Extra virgin olive oil

    Salt and pepper the salmon fillets.  Massage a small amount of the minced rosemary into each.  Wrap with a slice of Speck Prosciutto. Heat a small amount of oil in a thick bottom saute pan.  When it’s hot, add the salmon, top side down first.  Make sure the Speck stays in place.  When the first side is done, carefully turn the fish over in the pan.  As it’s cooking, add the julienne shallot and garlic.  Watch that you don’t over cook the garlic!  When the fish is done, transfer to a plate to rest and finish cooking.  When the shallot and garlic are sweated and lightly browning, add balsamic vinegar.  Reduce 75% of the liquid.  Take the pan off the heat and add a small amount of the butter.  Whisk until dissolved.  Add more butter.  When you have a beautiful glossy sauce, quickly add the parsley and you’re done!  Quickly plate the salmon and top with the Balsamico e burro.

    The dish above featured low carb and gluten free steamed spaghetti squash that has been tossed with a lovely Marinara sauce and Pecorino Romano.  The fresh beans were cooked with more of the lovely Speck.

    The best kind of vacation!  Travel anywhere you want for the price of a meal and no suitcase to unpack later!

  • Oh, Coconuts! (12/24/2014)


    Take a stroll down a different path.  Skip traditional dull Winter recipes…

    Spice up tonight with Vietnamese Sweet Coconut Pork.  One of the pretty blends I bought on my recent foray to Savory Spice Shop at Alderwood, is an enticing Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry.  Joy in a jar!!

    Turmeric, lemongrass, cumin, black pepper, paprika, coriander, garlic, cardamom, sugar, salt and a myriad of this and that inspired this dish.  I got the meal started by, using the blend as a rub on pork tenderloin.  Once browned in pure sesame oil, the little piggy popped happily into the oven to finish.  Meanwhile, I sauteed yellow pepper, seeded jalapeno, onion, fresh ginger and garlic in natural coconut oil.

    When the tenderloins were close, they were moved to a plate and the cast iron pan returned to the stove top where I added a round of silver rum to deglaze.  With that bubbling merrily, it was time for some stock and juice from half of a large fresh lime.  A good shake more of the Lemon Curry added layers of additional flavors.  Just as the sauce was finished reducing I added a handful of sweet flake coconut.

    Serve over a bed of steamed rice.  The pic above features Basmati, since I seem to have an abundance currently.  Jasmine or another of your favorites are excellent ideas.

    Happy Holidays to all!!

  • The Sin-less Seven (12/23/2014)


    Alspice…Black Pepper…Cinnamon…Clove…Fenugreek…Nutmeg…Ginger, a lively group of ‘friends’ hailing from Lebanon that I picked up at Seattle’s Spanish Table recently.  They made the perfect addition to my pre-Christmas ‘exotic culinary adventures’.

    This is a cozy meal using roast lamb, butternut squash, spinach, onion, cilantro, a teaspoon of tomato paste, toasted pine nuts, chicken stock and plenty of Lebanese Seven Spice.  I served it over brown rice that I steamed with some bits of orange rind.  Quick and easy.  Now back to wrapping those Christmas gifts!



  • Sacrifices (12/19/2014)


    World Spice’s Mayan Cocoa always makes me think of sacrifices.  Not MINE, thank you very much!  Chocolate…sacrifice… Nope!  I feel the Mayans of old sacrificed enough.  It’s covered.

    I ran across a small package of this delectable combo while cleaning out my spice cupboard.  Dreary December evenings call for interesting dishes with bold exotic elements.  With a bite of this crazy good dish in your mouth, you will simply no longer care what the weather is doing outside!

    Mayan Cocoa is a blend of deep chocolate, mellow chile, true cinnamon and allspice from World Market in Seattle.  https://www.worldspice.com/blends/mayan-cocoa  If you aren’t nearby, they definitely ship all their lovely wares.  Check out the website.  If you’re in town, wander down there.  The heavenly smell of the shop, alone, is worth the parking and hills.

    Mayan Cocoa Encrusted Pork Tenderloin

    Pork tenderloin, trimmed of waste.  Cut into portions.  Each one will serve 2-3 guests

    Mayan Cocoa


    Oil for searing the pork.  I like coconut oil for this, but olive is always a great choice

    Chicken stock


    Fresh lime

    Simply rub the portions with the cocoa and salt liberally.  When your oil is heated, add the pork.  Brown lightly on all sides then put the pan into the oven at 350 degrees.  It will take roughly 15 minutes to finish cooking.  Since the tenderloin size can vary, you will want to keep a close eye on them.  Over cooked pork is so dry and flavorless.

    When it’s close to done, remove from the oven and place the pork on a plate to rest while you make the sauce.  Now place the pan on the stove top.  Bring the temperature up, if it has cooled down.  Add a round of rum, preferably a spice rum with vanilla notes.  If you are using gas, this will flame up.  Stir to deglaze any bits from the pan, add stock and a squeeze of fresh lime.  Reduce most of the way.  Season.

    While the sauce is finishing, slice the pork into rounds and plate.  The cocoa will have added a touch of pink to the cooked meat.  Don’t be alarmed.   Drizzle with the sauce immediately and serve.

    I accompanied my dish with a combo of sweet potato and yam sauteed with onion and seeded jalapeno.

    This splendid meal is free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Corn, Nuts and Eggs.

  • Gonners (11/30/2014)


    The game is on.  The ‘fans’ are working up an appetite. You are frightened to open the fridge.  That left over Thanksgiving turkey awaits.  Every creative cell in your body is screaming NOOOOOO!!!  You can’t even consider looking at another bite of the sacrificial beast, or worse, the accusatory glare of your family, should you consider it, but…

    Heck, just make some Gonners, Turkey Tacos with Pumpkin Seed Mole!  You know you want to…  Besides, it’s easy and it’s good for your ‘fans’!  No gluten, soy or tree nuts and only optional dairy

    Pumpkin Seed Mole

    Poblano and serrano peppers, oil roasted, peeled, seeded, chopped

    Jalpeno, seeded and minced

    Yellow onion, chopped

    Garlic, fresh, minced

    Oil to cook vegetables   note:  a true mole is best with lard, but olive oil will work fine in this

    Pumpkin seeds

    Coriander, ground

    Chicken stock,  note:  if you are making a vegetarian dish with the mole, vegetable stock is a great option

    Cilantro, chopped

    Flat leaf parsley, chopped

    Salt and pepper

    Fresh lime

    Using a cast iron pan, dry roast the pumpkin seeds over moderately high heat.  When they are nearly done, add the coriander.  Keep the pan moving, shake it gently, so the spice doesn’t burn.  You need it toasted to release it’s best flavors.  Add lard/oil and onion.  Cook until it begins to soften, add the garlic, do not brown this.  Add the chopped peppers and cook for a bit.  Add enough stock to moisten.  Keep cooking, adding more stock as needed.   You want to get the peppers and onion to begin breaking down.  You can do this ‘green’ mole fast, over higher heat then most brown moles that need time to develop their complex flavors.  If you aren’t in a hurry, turn the burner all the way down and let it do it’s thing.

    When you are ready to finish your sauce, add the chopped herbs, salt and pepper.  Cook just until herbs are heated thru.  Using an immersion blender, carefully emulsify your mole.  Don’t get burned!  Add fresh lime juice to taste and serve with warm shredded turkey and finely shredded romaine lettuce or napa cabbage,  in corn tortillas – preferably fresh ones, you just made, if possible (it’s pretty easy!)  For those that can enjoy dairy, some cotija would be lovely!

  • Twas The Night Before Turkey (11/25/2014)


    There are those days…  just before a big feast holiday, when it’s difficult to get excited about cooking, let alone being creative.  The kitchen is ready.  The fridge is stuffed to the gills with all the necessities your upcoming throng expects.  Unfortunately, you are hungry TODAY!  Others that occupy your home are giving you ‘the look’.  The phone is right there.  Pizza would be so easy, but you are going to feel so miserable after you eat all that gluten and dairy and…  Yeah.  I know you realize this.  It happens in every well meaning kitchen.

    Mariscos Ranchero

    Roma tomatoes, quartered

    Yellow onion, 1/2 inch slices

    Poblano peppers

    Optional additional hotter peppers

    Garlic, minced


    Prawns, shelled, cleaned

    Hard shell clams, cleaned

    Mussels, debearded, clean

    Cilantro, chopped

    Salt and pepper

    I like to make the sauce ahead, then finish cooking the shellfish right before serving.

    Place tomatoes, onions and peppers on a baking sheet under the broiler.  Keep an eye on the peppers.  You just want to blister the skins.  Keep turning them until you have blistered the entire surface.  Wrap them in a paper towel.  Finish cooking the tomatoes and onion until they begin to blacken.

    When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel them and discard the seeds and membrane.  Rough chop.

    Rough chop the onions and cook in a small amount of oil.  Add the garlic when they are nearly done.  Cook quickly and add the chopped peppers and the tomatoes.  Cook on medium until the vegetables begin to break down a bit.  Add enough stock to moisten.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set sauce aside unless you are cooking the shellfish to serve now.

    To finish, increase the stock to a just visible level.  Bring the sauce to a simmer.  Add all the shellfish.  Place a lid over the pan.  It will only take a few minutes for everything to cook.  The clams and mussels will be open when they are done.  Toss with fresh cilantro and put into individual serving bowls.

    Serve with some warm gluten free bread.


  • Black Sheep Chili (11/19/2014)


    Don’t you just hate realizing you have on an outfit just like someone else?  Well, I’m the same way with my cooking.  I simply do not possess the “do it just like everyone else always has” gene.  I gotta do my own thing; be the ‘black sheep’!

    Honestly, my greatest fantasy is to never cook the exact same dish twice.  Yes, I realize this doesn’t work in restaurant cuisine.  But, I’m at home, so NO RULES!!

    Black Sheep Chili features, yeah you know it, lamb!  Ground lamb is something I love to experiment with.  Years back, I served a lamb burger at my Seattle restaurant, 94 Stewart that got a write up in New York, alongside the burger from Daniel, of four star fame.

    You will find ground lamb to have all the flavor you are looking for in ground beef.  You know, that tantalizing meaty scent that makes your mouth water?  But, when you taste the beef, it simply does not follow thru with the flavor.  More then a let down; don’t you feel totally cheated?!?!

    Using lamb in a chili is definitely a bold move, though.  The slow cooking of the meat with onions, sweet and hot pepper, garlic, and tomatoes will result in an increase to the true earthy lamb flavor.  As a burger, the fast sear doesn’t accentuate those qualities like braising does.  That said, I chose to play up the spices a little differently.  Really, using cumin, cinnamon, coriander and oregano don’t sound like such unusual choices, but changing the ratios of one to another, with lamb and they become a Middle Eastern olfactory bizarre.

    Add some of your favorite beans, salt to taste, a titch of sherry vinegar to balance the flavors and top with fresh cilantro and sheep milk feta cheese.  Welcome to my world as a well adjusted Black Sheep!

  • Don’t give up! (11/5/2014)


    If you are allergic/sensitive to both gluten and dairy, you know that dessert is seldom an option for you.  It’s just sad to sit there reading all those incredible restaurant dessert menus… “Hmmmm… maybe this one? Oh, no it has dairy. That one?  Nope, gluten… I guess I’ll have the sorbet…” Woohoo! Sorbet, yeah… It’s COLD out, I WANT SOMETHING RICH AND WARM AND WONDERFUL!! 

    And you can have it!

    The Fall apple crop is rolling through the produce aisles.  So many to pick from!  What’s your favorite?  Personally, I like to cook with Pink Ladies, but there are so many that will work.

     Stuffed Apples

    Gluten free oats

    Walnuts, unless you are allergic to them

    Raisins or substitute chopped dates or currants


    Extra virgin coconut oil

    Agave to taste

    Dash of salt

    Fresh Apples, 1 per guest

    Simply mix everything, except the apples, together in a mixer or by hand.   Fill cored apples.   note: when coring, leave some fruit at the bottom, to keep filling from melting out.   Place filled apples on a baking sheet.  Line with parchment first, if you have it.  Way less mess! Pop into a 350 degree oven until the apples soften.  This will vary with apple variety and moisture content.  You will need to watch them and see.  Usually, I know something is done, when I begin to smell it!

    This dish can easily be made ahead and then reheated.  If they are in a low temp oven during the meal, you will totally torment your guests with the incredible scent…

  • Flowers, for me! (10/31/2014)


    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.

  • Penance Soup (10/28/2014)


    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.

  • Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr….. (10/22/2014)

    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!

  • Mouth Full of Summer (10/14/2014)


    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!

  • The Difficulty of… (10/9/2014)


    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.

  • My Favorite Salad (10/6/2014)

    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.


  • A Little Something On The Side (10/2/2014)

    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!

  • It just might be love (9/26/2014)

    You know when you bite into something new and the world slows down; the edges to things in your vision get a bit hazy; you need to consciously remember to breathe… Yeah, it was like that.  I’m not sure how long I can go without another opportunity to make a complete swine of myself with these glorious rings.

    image. squash

    Gluten Free Fried Delicata with Spiced Honey Glaze

    Got your attention now, do I?  But, before we get into recipes, are you familiar with Delicata Squash?  You can find them at most grocery stores currently.  I haven’t found any at the Farmers Markets get, but I’m hoping to.  I have personally grown them in Washington state myself, so know it’s doable with our seasons.  delicata

    One of the primary reasons to get excited about these little guys, besides that they taste wonderful, is that they are the only Winter Squash you do not have to peel.  Yes, the thin peels are entirely edible!  Score!  I don’t know about you, but peeling is NOT on my list of exciting and fun projects! Ha!

    To make this dish, you will need to prep your squash.  One will probably be enough for two servings.  Well, at least the first time you eat them.  Wash the squash and cut off the ends.  You do remember the part about sharp knives we discussed in the last recipe?  This is especially important when cutting something like this.  They can be a bit ‘resistant’.  When you are working with something that is hard to cut, you push harder.  A dull knife will require more effort and being dull, will tend to go the path of less resistance; your finger…  Need I say more?  Once the ends are gone, now cut it in half, the short way.  Using a pairing knife/peeler/spoon/whatever works, you are going to remove the seeds and membrane from the inside.  Yeah, it’s a bit challenging, but worth it. Remember you didn’t have to peel it, too!  When complete, you will have two hollow tubes.  Now you are going to cut these into quarter inch thick rings.  You can go thinner, but it’s pretty difficult to get them consistent.  Thicker won’t have the texture, in the finished product, you are looking for.  Set these aside.

    You are going to need a method to fry them.  I have a great little home deep fryer from Presto that I really like.  Way less mess then doing it on the stove.  Should you decide to purchase a fryer, the thing to look for is how much power it has.  You want the one with the most, that you can find.  An underpowered unit will not be able to keep up and your food will end up tasting greasy.  Ick!  If you are using a pan, you need something nice and stout with a heavy bottom.  It needs to be large enough, so that the rings can submerge and the oil doesn’t come over the sides.  Cast iron is always a good choice.

    What kind of oil should you use?  I have had the opportunity to cook with a lot of different oils and fats in my 35 year career.  I prefer to use things without additives or excessive processing.  In honesty, my very favorite to work with is lard.  The medical studies are now starting to agree with me, finally, that these are not bad for us in moderation.  The stuff we can’t pronounce, in our food, will always be a problem, though.  If the thought of lard frightens you, try rice bran oil.  A bit spendy, but fries really well and food doesn’t soak it up, like most other oils.  This dream of a dish really cries out for lard, though.  Just sayin’…

    A quick reminder regarding deep frying and gluten.  Since the oil is reusable a number of times, you absolutely must understand, that it can never have regular flour used in it, if you are planning to feed someone that can not tolerate gluten.  The gluten will stay suspended in the oil and attach itself to other things you are cooking afterwards.  Gluten that has been super heated in this way, is an immediate threat to those that are sensitive to it.  Reactions are immediate and frequently severe.
    That said, keep this in mind when ordering in a restaurant.  Unless you are in a restaurant that ONLY serves gluten free dishes, the individual that is sensitive must never order deep fried food of any sort.

    While the oil is heating, you can make up the honey.  You could also have it made ahead.  It will hold easily.  The more you can have prepped ahead of time, the easier it is to get the meal done without a bunch of stress.  This is the secret of why restaurant kitchens can work so effectively at getting out all those meals at the same time.

    Spiced Honey Glaze

    3 tablespoons clover honey, or your favorite

    1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

    1 tsp minced fresh hot pepper

    dash of cinnamon

    3/4 teaspoon ginger

    1/2 teaspoon coriander

    salt to taste

    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    Mix everything together, except the cilantro, with a whip or immersion blender.  Set aside.

    Grab those squash rings.  You are going to need to do a light dredge with some gluten free flour.  It’s super easy with a clean, dry plastic produce bag.  Throw the squash in the bag with about a half cup of the flour.  Twist the top to stop leaks and shake it about to coat the rings.  When you have them all coated, bop the, still closed, bag on the counter.  Excess flour will go to the bottom.

    When your oil is up to temp, start frying the rings in small batches.  They are ready to take out of the oil when they are lightly brown and floating.  Place them on a paper towel lined plate.  Since these are super moist, they can get soggy pretty quick, so to compensate I like to do a double fry.  When you have completed the first round of cooking and it’s nearly time to complete the rest of the meal, drop them back into the fryer.  Mine is large enough to hold the whole batch.  Do what works with your equipment.  If the oil shows any sign of cooling rapidly, get the product out immediately and do in smaller batches when it’s hot again.

    Once all the rings are ready, place in a large bowl.  Drizzle the honey over them and add the cilantro.  Toss everything together and plate.  Prepare yourself.  The lucky individuals, you are sharing these with, are going to be heaping massive quantities of adulation and praise upon you!

    Wasn’t that fun?


  • A slow seduction (9/25/2014)

    Not everything we create in our kitchens must be made FAST.  The slowing down of the season is a lovely time to contemplate a bowl full of Beef Soup.

    This is a recipe, yet it’s not.  Honestly, the recipes I give you will always have room for your own imagination in small ways or expansive culinary coup!IMG_BeefSoup

    To get the ultimate in flavor and the texture you are craving, you need to cook the beef twice.

    Purchase a bone in  (Yes, and I do mean that.  Bone=flavor)  chuck pot roast, preferably choice or better.

    For the Braise

    Salt and pepper the roast generously, then dredge meat in gluten free flour and sear it in a small amount of oil.  I prefer to use cast iron.  It will cook more evenly.  At the point that you turn the meat over to brown the other side, add some wedges of yellow onion, peeled carrot and celery.  Beware of grease spatters as you cook!

    Once you have finished cooking the meat on all sides, turn off the burner.  Using the cast iron pan you seared the meat in, or place the meat and vegetables in another oven proof baking dish, add red wine… note on cooking with wine:  never cook with something you wouldn’t drink.  The dish will taste like the wine and you won’t like it.  Use the best you can afford; typically a variety that would go with the dish when it’s done.  Avoid reds with large amounts of pigment, like Syrah.  It will add more color to the finished dish then you want. (continuing recipe…) add red wine to fill the pan half way up the meat.  You can use stock for part or all of the liquid.  Now add some peeled cloves of garlic, bay leaf and any other fresh green herbs that sound good to you.  If you have it, place a piece of parchment paper on top of the meat.  Now, cover with enough foil to seal around the edges and put the pan lid firmly in place.  Put your pan of loveliness into a preheated 325degree oven.  This will need to cook for several hours.  The timing depends on how large your roast is.  Unless it is quite small, I’d estimate two and a half to three hours, but sometimes one can be surprised.  The roast that made the soup in the picture required an extra hour.  When a pairing knife slips into the roast easily, it’s time to take it out of the oven.

    You are now going to cool the roast, uncovered, in the refrigerator and pretend you don’t know it’s there…

    Now, for the Soup!

    Tomorrow!  You will cut equal parts yellow onion, celery and carrot into small dice.  This is called mire poix.  Please use a sharp knife!  Dull knives cause far more finger cuts then sharp ones!  One can never have too much mire poix, but I’d probably aim for roughly the same volume as the roast.  Cook this mixture with olive oil in a nice heavy bottom soup pot until wilted and beginning to just barely brown.  Thin bottom pans tend to lead to scorching.  When the mire poix is about 70% done, add several cloves of minced fresh garlic.  Keep stirring.  Garlic turns bitter very easily and you won’t be able to get rid of that flavor.

    When your vegetables are done add the liquid from the roast and an equal amount of stock.  note:  if you are purchasing stock PLEASE read the ingredients on the box/can.  Many contain allergens.  Now, dice up the cooled beef and add to the pan. Discard the vegetables and the bones from the braise.  They have done their work and are ready to ‘retire’.  If necessary, add more stock.   In fact, add whatever amount you wish.  Made it thick.  Make it thin.  This is YOUR soup!

    If you aren’t watching Carbs, add some diced potatoes, if you wish.  Another great gluten free ingredient is steel cut oats!  These must be certified as gluten free.  Oats will require more liquid then potatoes.  Keep a close eye on your creation, that it doesn’t burn while it simmers.  You will want to let it cook very slowly for the next hour or two.

    Once the vegetables, etc are nearly done, taste the liquid.  Add salt (don’t be shy!), pepper, spices and fresh herbs.  I like rosemary in beef soup, myself. But, this is now the time for your individuality to shine.  Hit those spice jars!  What sounds good to you?  Have some fun.

    You are almost there!  Heck, maybe you’re sitting there eating a bowl of YOUR soup right now, wondering why I’m still talking at you!  BUT, if that pan you’ve slaved over seems to be ‘missing’ something and you just can’t put your finger on it… Add a little vinegar.  Sherry or red wine vinegar would be my first choice.  Add a few drops, stir well and taste…???  See!  Your creation is ALIVE and wonderful; or add a few drops more until it is!

    Race you to the spoon drawer!


  • Eat me! (9/23/2014)

    IMG_AppleThe incoming Fall weather makes me want to bake.  The scent of apples and spice permeating the air is a great producer of smiles.  Here is an easy recipe that makes this possible for lots of people with pesky food allergies!  It contains no soy, wheat, gluten, corn, eggs, dairy, or tree nuts.  Have fun!

    Gluten Free Apple Crisp


    1/2 cup certified gluten-free rolled oats
    4 tablespoons coconut milk*
    3 cups sliced apples – This is an excellent excuse to visit a Farmers Market and       pick out something delightful!
    Agave syrup to taste. Depends on the tartness of the apple and your palate

    1 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh
    1/2 cup Red Mill gluten free flour
    1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    4 tablespoons coconut oil


    Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch round glass baking dish and set aside. Pay attention to what you use to grease the dish. Many sprays contain allergens!

    Place the gluten-free oats in a bowl and soak them in the coconut milk for ten minutes.

    Toss the apples with agave and lemon juice. Layer them in the prepared glass baking dish.

    Combine the gluten-free flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon with the oats. Mix well.

    Add the coconut oil in pieces. Rub the oat/flour mixture into the shortening with your fingers or two forks, creating a crumbly mix.

    Top the apples with the oat mixture.  Bake on the center rack for 1 hour. Top should be golden and bubbly. Serve warm or cooled.

    * Coconut milk comes in both fresh and shelf stable packaging. Read the label carefully. Some are made in facilities with soy, nuts, etc. If those enjoying this treat can not consume those items, you need to keep hunting for the right coconut milk. You may also use rice milk here. Just be very careful!

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