Monday, September 24, 2012

Smoky Hatch Chili, White Bean, and Broccoli Soup {Gluten-Free + Vegetarian + Vegan + Low-Carb}

Smoky Hatch Chili, White Bean, and Broccoli Soup: {Gluten-Free + Vegetarian + Vegan + Low-Carb}
Texans like grilling. A lot. But, for many of us who live in apartments in Houston, grilling isn’t always an easy option for meals. That’s why I’ve imported the smoky taste of the grill into this Hatch Chili, Broccoli, and White Bean Soup. Made with oven-roasted Hatch Chilis, smoked sea salt, and a dash of smoked paprika, the soup offers a hint of the grill’s satisfying smokiness while catering to audiences who are typically excluded from traditional grilling—vegetarians and vegans—in addition to those following low-carb and gluten-free diets. This soup, amendable to fit just about anyone’s dietary needs, packs the sweet, subtle heat characteristic of the celebrated Hatch Chili.

Hatch Chili Peppers

What are Hatch Chili Peppers, Anyway?

I had never heard of Hatch Chili peppers until I moved to Texas.  And, even then it took me about 5 years to learn of their existence.  Hatch Chili peppers are a seasonal ingredient produced in Hatch, New Mexico, the self-proclaimed “Chili Capital of the World”. Hatch Chili peppers become available in late August and have a short growing season. The peppers can be used in everything from Chilles Rellenos to soups and they can even be infused into chocolate. Several local grocery chains carry the peppers (Fiesta, HEB, Central Market) and HEB and Central Market both have dedicated Hatch Chili Festival events with featured Hatch Chili products for sale and even cooking contests.

[Recipe] Smoky Hatch Chili,White Bean, and Broccoli Soup

With a texture much like that of comfort-food soups like potato soup and broccoli and cheddar soup, this Hatch Chili, Broccoli, and White Bean Soup is great hot or cold and can be garnished with arugula and pepitas and shaved parmesan (omit for vegan).

Ingredients--

2 Hatch chilies (roasted in 450∘ F. oven for 7-10minutes and peeled)
1 large head broccoli (a little over 1lb or 7cups), cut into florets
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
7 garlic cloves, minced
1 and ½ 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained
3 cups vegetable stock (low sodium preferred)
Smoked sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Smoked Paprika, a dash
Hot pepper flakes, a pinch
To Garnish—
Roasted Pepitas, to taste
Shaved parmesan cheese, to taste (exclude to make vegan)
Arugula


Directions--

Roast Hatch Chilies under oven broiler for 7-10minutes or until skins are browned. Place chilies in air tight container or zip-lock bag to loosen skins. Remove and discard skins. Note: it is recommended that you use kitchen gloves when handling the chilies to prevent pepper burn from any that might be particularly hot.

Steam broccoli for 5 minutes or until tender but still bright green and firm; avoid overcooking. Set broccoli aside.

In large pot add olive oil and set burner to medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook until translucent, roughly 8-10minutes. Add smoked sea salt, pepper, smoked paprika and hot pepper flakes. Add cannellini beans and vegetable stock. Bring to a very low boil and cook roughly 5 minutes.

Transfer broccoli and bean mixture in pot in small batches to blender. Liquefy and transfer to large bowl. Continue to process batches of soup components in your blender until finished.

Serve soup warm or cold garnished with arugula, pepitas (roasted, salted pumpkin seeds), and shaved parmesan (omit parmesan if vegan).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumpkin "Pie" Super Smoothie {Gluten Free + Vegetarian + Low-Carb}

Pumpkin "Pie" Super Smoothie: {Gluten Free + Vegetarian + Low-Carb}

The Fall is a magical time.  Beloved squashes come into season to festively line the produce section of grocery stores while, in other corners of the store, ghoulish Lady Gaga, Marilyn Monroe, Vampire, and Frankenstein Monster costumes haunt the shelves hoping for a chance for a great debut trick-or-treating on Halloween.  The Fall is crisp, and warm, and spicy.  It's like biting into a pumpkin pie, rich creamy and complex with warming nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and clove.

For the past week I've celebrated the coming on of Fall by drinking it up in the form of  a Pumpkin "Pie" Super Smoothie.  What a great way to indulge in Fall flavors every morning!  

Fall Squash
My Pumpkin "Pie" Super Smoothie is Gluten-Free, Vegetarian and Low-carb, and is made with organic pumpkin puree, 0% Plain Greek Yogurt, hydrated Chia Seeds, Almond Milk, a frozen banana, and those warming pumpkin pie spices I mentioned above, and Bob's Red Mill Hemp Protein Powder--a GREAT easily incorporated source of extra protein--that USED to be produced under Gluten Free certified conditions.

I'm sad to report that shortly after I got my batch of Hemp Protein Powder Bob's Red Mill issued a statement on their website saying that it is no longer going to be producing the product as Gluten Free.  While I give Bob's credit for posting the change in production quality, I'm disturbed by the switch from producing a Gluten Free certified product to a non-certified product and disconcerted that many potential consumers who've used the Gluten Free certified batches produced in the past won't have any easy way to learn about the change in the production standards.  


If you need an easy, Gluten-Free Hemp Protein replacement I've got you covered.  Try blending Hemp Hearts--easily available at specialty stores or online--into a powder and still enjoy that extra boost of protein and Hemp's nutty flavor.  This is going to be my new go-to solution for incorporating Hemp Protein into my diet.


[Recipe] Pumpkin "Pie" Super Smoothie

Bob's Red Mill Hemp
Protein Powder, formerly GF

Ingredients--

  • 1/3C. Organic Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/3C. 0% Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 4TBsp Hemp Powder (if no GF Hemp powder is available, grind Hemp Hearts into a powder in your blender)
  • 2-3TBsp Hydrated Chia Seeds
  • 1 Frozen Banana, peeled and chopped into sections
  • 1/4C. (approx) Almond Milk (I used vanilla, no-sugar-added variety)
  • 3-4 Ice Cubes
  • Pumpkin Pie Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove)
  • Optional: Stevia or other sweetener

Directions--

  1. Blend all ingredients together in blender until smoothie consistency is achieved.  Serve immediately and enjoy!






Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Butternut Squash, Coconut and Red Curry Soup {Gluten-Free + Vegetarian + Vegan + Low-Carb}

Butternut Squash, Coconut, Red Curry Soup {Gluten-Free + Vegetarian + Vegan + Low-Carb}

Fall is just right around the corner.  The weather is cooling down, the trees (in some parts of the US, anyway) are starting to just hint at turning color, the Halloween decorations and costumes are becoming a staple of a(ny) store near you, and a variety of squash are coming into their full seasonal glory.  Including, of course, the Butternut Squash.

Butternut  Squash, Coconut and Red Curry Soup
There are few things more comforting to me than the warmth of soup combined with favorite fall foods like Butternut Squash.  So, when I found a recipe for Butternut Squash and Red Curry soup I got extra excited because it combined two favorite Fall food stuffs with a third food stuff that I could probably eat massive proportions of any time of the year--no matter how hot or cold--for any (or every!) meal: Thai Curry.

Thai Curry was something I discovered a little later in life through family vacations to, usually larger, cities with more adventurous and exotic food choices than the meat-and-potatoes Mid-Western fare I grew up with (not an especially satisfying diet for a vegetarian).  I remember eating Thai for the first time in Washington DC, probably a pretty awesome place to take one's first dive into the cuisine, and I've made Thai an enduring part of my (lately abandoned) traveling career ever since.  

I've tried Thai restaurants out in everywhere from Kennebunkport, Maine, to Santa Barbara, California, to Salem, Massachusetts, to Houston, Texas.  The point, in case it hasn't hit home, is that I really, really like Thai.  But, most especially I like a good spicy red or green curry and I even made a Red Curry with Tofu and Pumpkin when pumpkins are in season.  

Butternut Squash
This Butternut Squash, Coconut, Red Curry Soup delivers everything I love about Thai Curry--the mix of spices and actual spiciness from chili peppers as well as the decadent and creamy texture of the coconut milk-base.  But, notably, what the soup is missing compared with a Curry dish you'd get at a restaurant is the rice--the carbs!  

I promise you won't miss the rice / carbs.  I tried the soup out on a few friends at a small dinner party over the weekend and nobody even mentioned rice.  The sweet, buttery flavor of the Butternut Squash along with the coconut milk, red curry paste, and chili peppers was a bit hit just as it was, although I could probably see myself adding small chunks of grilled tofu to it in the future just for a little texture.

[Recipe]  Butternut Squash, Coconut, Red Curry Soup

Thai Kitchen Brand
Red Curry Paste

Ingredients

  • 1 Butternut Squash (cut in half, seeds removed, roasted in pan of shallow water on 350 degrees F. until cooked through)
  • 3 Cans Coconut Milk (I used 2 Lite, 1 Regular to cut down on fat/calories)
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers; roasted and peeled
  • 1 Medium Onion; chopped
  • 6 Cloves Garlic; minced (add more to taste)
  • 2 Serrano Chili Peppers (or Thai Peppers); adjust based on your personal tolerance for spiciness
  • 1 4Oz (approx) Jar Red Curry Paste (like Thai Kitchen brand)
  • 1 Tablespoon Ginger, freshly grated
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Cilantro; chopped (add as much or little as you prefer)

Directions

  1. Prepare Butternut Squash by cutting in half, removing seeds, and baking in a pan with a shallow layer of water in it (cut side of squash facing down) at 350 degrees F. until Squash is tender; about 35-40minutes.  At same time, place 2 Red Bell Peppers in separate baking dish, covered with light layer of olive oil, and cook on top rack until skins are brownish and loose.  Remove Red Peppers from oven when skins look dark and loose and let cool before skinning.
  2. Add chopped onion and garlic to a large sauce pan with olive oil.  Cook until onions are turning translucent.  Add Red Curry Paste, Ginger, Serrano Peppers (de-stemmed) and Coconut Milk.  Stir.  Add Butternut Squash (cubed) and peeled, roasted Red Peppers.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove soup from heat and add chopped cilantro.
  4. Transfer soup in batches into a blender and liquify.  Serve soup hot with Leeks (pictured), scallions, cilantro, or other garnish.
  5. Enjoy!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Cauliflower Pizza Crust {GF + Low-Carb + Vegetarian}

Guiltless Cauliflower Pizza Crust: Gluten Free  +  Low-Carb  + Vegetarian


The Versatility of Cauliflower--Who Knew?

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
It seems apparent to me now that in spite of all of the time I've spent watching shows like Chopped and Iron Chef America on the Food Network that I know practically nothing about cooking beyond the most conventional forms of cooking knowledge--stuff like, don't chop your fingers off and salt your water before cooking pasta as well as an understanding of basic ingredient combinations and uses.  But, recently, with my growing interest in eating vegetarian, raw, Gluten Free, and low-carb foods I'm discovering a whole different set of cooking techniques and ingredients, as well as some surprising but wonderful uses for those ingredients.

Perhaps the most versatile ingredient I've been working with recently is cauliflower.  Cauliflower seems, in many ways, to be a magical vegetable to eaters of raw, Gluten Free, and low-carb diets.  You can make it into a lower-carb version of mashed potatoes referred to as "Cauli-mash" or "Cauliflower Mash," you can food process it into a raw rice-like substance called "Cauli-rice," and you can use the florets in place of noodles in an otherwise traditional-style macaroni and cheese (I highly recommend this, by the way!).  But, cauliflower has yet another trick up it's sleeve--it can become that food of the Gods, PIZZA!  

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I've always heard that bacon is the hardest things for vegetarians and vegans to give up and, also, the hardest food for them to continue to resist eating through the course of their commitments to either diet.  I think pizza is that evil, siren of a food for a lot of Gluten Free and Low-Carb eaters.  In fact, I know that many people who have gone Gluten Free due to Celiac Disease or other issues crave pizza so much that they dream about it at night.

Happily, dreams can come true--at least in the realm of pizza consumption--regardless of whether you're eating a Gluten Free and/or Low-Carb diet through the versatile miracle that is cauliflower.  I discovered this through the website of The Detoxinista whose recipe for a cauliflower pizza crust formed the basis of my own.

The first time I made the cauliflower pizza crust I did not have all of the proper ingredients (I was  missing goat cheese) and I winged it, using a reggiano instead.  Needless to say, the recipe didn't turn out well.  BUT, it was a good trial and error experience because it led me to a Q&A with The Detoxinista about how to make the recipe itself--rather complicated--a bit more simplistic for the everyday, at-home cook.  And, it gave me a good idea of how much or little I can tweak the recipe without causing a pizza-tragedy to ensue.

Cauli-Rice
While the original recipe from The Detoxinista calls for food processing cauliflower florets into a rice-like consistency, steaming this "cauli-rice," and then putting it into a cloth to wring out the extra water, I found that this process can be significantly simplified.  Instead of steaming the "cauli-rice" and then expelling the water from it--which, frankly, was not pleasant as the "cauli-rice" did not cool quickly and the water expelled was very hot!--you can freeze the food-processed cauliflower florets (no cooking necessary) ahead of time, defrost in a colander and THEN proceed on to your squeezing.  Still, perhaps, a little time consuming, but at least this way you are squeezing out cold water onto your hands rather than nuclear hot water!

Before I get on, finally, to the recipe let me say that this Cauliflower Pizza Crust is simply amazing.  To boost the flavor profile, I added some fennel seeds, a dash of smoked sea salt, and pepper to the crust "dough" in addition to the oregano called for and, also, opted to use herb-encrusted goat cheese for extra herby-flavor.  In the future I'd like to add some fresh rosemary and maybe garlic to the crust.

I got a little more creative with my toppings than The Detoxinista in her post, using an organic store-bought red sauce, mozzarella cheese, crumbled herbed goat cheese, minced garlic, chopped spinach, sundried tomatoes, and a ton of fresh, chopped basil.  

[RECIPE] Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Ingredients
Baked crust waiting
for toppings!
  • 1 Medium-Large Head Cauliflower, broken down into Florets
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 C. soft herbed Goat Cheese; plus more for topping
  • 1 Tsp. dried oregano
  • Fennel Seeds; to your taste
  • Smoked Sea Salt; to your taste
  • Black Pepper; to your taste
  • TOPPINGS--chopped spinach; goat cheese; mozzarella (fresh or shredded); organic red sauce; minced garlic; sundried tomatoes; fresh basil (chopped)
Directions
Done!
  1. Place cauliflower florets in food processor in batches and process into a rice-like consistency to make Cauli-rice.
  2. Freeze Cauli-rice in air-tight container or freezer bag.
  3. Remove Cauli-rice from freezer and let thaw in a colander; transfer to thin dish cloth or cheese cloth and wring out excess moisture.
  4. Beat egg and add 1/3 C. herbed goat cheese and Cauli-rice with excess water expelled; mix well to fully incorporate all ingredients.  Add oregano, fennel seeds, salt and pepper and mix.
  5. Cover a square or round baking sheet with parchment paper--Don't forget this!--leaving crust about 1/3inch thick (I just eyeballed it) press and form the dough into the pan making the edges a little higher to form a traditional crust-look.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 40minutes; remove from oven and cover with desired toppings before returning to the oven for additional 10 minutes.
  7. ENJOY!  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Faux Pho {Vegan + Vegetarian + Gluten Free + Low(er)-Carb}

Kate's Faux Pho

{Vegan + Vegetarian + Gluten Free + Low(er)-Carb}


I've been hearing a lot about faux Pho, a vegetarian version of the popular Vietnamese soup, practically since I moved to Texas. Specifically, I heard that I should get myself to Jenni's Noodle House to try it.

Recently, I did just that with a friend and absolutely loved the faux Pho. I love the spicy broth, the tofu, the noodles, but most of all, I love all of the toppings--cilantro, bean sprouts, sliced jalapeno, basil, and limes--that you get to add to the dish yourself. 

 There's something supremely interesting about this. It's interactive food! Food that you can spice and flavor using the toppings to suit your own palate. Maybe the most satisfying part of this interactive portion of Pho is the way you get to blend fresh and cooked food, as well as the way you can create layers of texture and flavor. Bottom line is that I was sold on it the first time I had it and have been craving it since.


Faux Pho, it's a piece of cake ... if you shop at Whole Foods

Which brings me to last weekend. I was home for my Dad's birthday and already had the glimmer of future faux Pho glimmering in my brain--I'd found a recipe already and pasted the link squarely in the center of my computer screen. While with my parents I stole (with permission) some of their dried Shittake mushrooms and got very excited that I was one ingredient closer to my Pho. Then, there came a trip to that magical, over-priced store Whole Foods. Cruising the asiles I found more ingredients for my Pho--what excitement.

First, I found Gluten Free Soba/ Buckwheat style nodles. The noodles seemed like a healthier alternative to traditional rice or other carb-heavy, low-nutrition noodles, and I liked that they were made from non GMO plants and were organic (for whatever the organic label is worth). 


 Whatever excitement I felt over these noodles paled in comparison, however, to my excitement at discovering the faux Pho motherload: Pacific Natural's Vegetarian Pho broth (gluten free; vegan, vegetarian).

This broth makes creating Faux Pho at home incredibly simple and much less time consuming.  Making stock bases can be expensive--you have to buy all of the spices and other ingredients that flavor the stock--and it requires a good deal of time on the stove.  In other words, making stock requires planning in advance and some free time.  Pacific Natural Vegetarian Pho base makes it a much simpler affair.

I had some misgivings that the broth wouldn't be up to my standards--that it just wouldn't taste how the broth at Jenni's Noodle House did. But, I was wrong. The broth is a bit mellower--especially on the mushroom and anise flavor-- than Jenni's (a good thing in my mind).  

I found that by adding 3 cloves of smashed garlic, about 5 green onion blulbs, 2 key limes sliced in half, sliced jalapeno peppers, and a small hunk of ginger that the broth was more than suitably tasty. When the flavors of these items had infused the broth, I removed all but the garlic and jalapenos and discarded them.

To the pepped-up broth I added tofu which I marinated for a couple of hours and then grilled on my teeny tiny new George Foreman Grill (I marinated the tofu in a combination of GF Tamari brand soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, hot pepper flakes, and garlic and chili "sauce"). I then added my GF Buckwheat noodles and let the soup simmer for a while while I chopped up and otherwise prepared my toppings, which included: Mung Bean Sprouts, Limes, sliced Jalapenos, Green Onion, Cilantro, and Basil. 

The end result was delicious. My faux Pho was spicy, flavorful, and just absolutely satisfying.



[Recipe] Faux Pho

Ingredients--

  • 2 cartons Pacific Naturals Vegetarian Pho Broth (gluten free)
  • GF Soba/Buckwheat Noodles or GF Rice Noodles
  • 1 Cup Dried Shittake Mushrooms (added to broth)
  • 1 Package Firm Tofu (marinated, sliced, and grilled if you so desire--otherwise you can just plop it in the soup)
  • Sliced Jalapenos (for seasoning the broth and for serving on top of the soup)Mung Bean Sprouts (healthier than soybean sprouts, for serving on top of the soup)
  • Chopped Basil (for serving on top of the soup)
  • Cilantro (chopped for serving on top of the soup)
  • Limes (halved or quartered for seasoning the broth and for serving on top of the soup)
  • 1 Small bundle of Green Onions (bulbs removed and used to season broth, tops chopped and served on top of soup)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, smashed and added to broth
  • Fresh Ginger, small chunk peeled and added to broth

Instructions--

  1. Pour the Pacific Naturals Vegetarian Pho Broth into a large pot on the stove.
  2. Season with limes, garlic, green onion bulbs, ginger, and jalapenos and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until flavors are infused. Remove limes, green onion bulbs, and ginger.
  3. Prepare and add Tofu.  Marinate and grill tofu if desired or merely drain and press to release water.
  4. Add GF noodles.
  5. Simmer for 3-5 minutes while preparing ingredients to go on top of soup (bean sprouts, cilantro, basil, jalapeno, green onion).
  6. Pour faux Pho soup base into a large bowl and put "toppings" in a separate dish to add immediately before you consume soup.  Eat with a combination of spoon and chop sticks!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

[Post 2] Gluten Free Food Gifts and Party Favors Series

GF (no)Campfire Smores

Gluten Free (no) Campfire Smores
For anyone who has celiac disease or has a person in his/her life who suffers from celiac disease, cooking for oneself and others becomes a little more challenging because the health of yourself or someone you care about is on the line.

My series on "Gluten Free Food Gifts and Party Favors," however, is meant to mediate that challenge a bit by showcasing a few homemade Gluten Free food gifts or party favors that could easily be made to the delight everybody's taste buds--whether they have celiac disease or not!

The posts in the series will cover the following homemade (always the best!) Gluten Free food gifts and party favors:

  • [DONE!] Gluten Free and Vegan Pumpkin Butter see post at: Kate's GF Pumpkin Butter
  • Gluten Free (no)Campfire Smores with marshmallows, GF graham cracker crumbs, chocolate and peanut butter chips, and white chocolate drizzles
  • Gluten Free and Vegetarian Chocolate Bark with pistachio, dried cranberries, dried apricots, and white chocolate drizzle

Some Advice on Safe Gluten Free Cooking and Baking

As when doing any GF cooking, make sure all counter tops and kitchen materials have been properly cleaned to avoid cross-contamination. Even a few crumbs from your breakfast toast on the counter getting incorporated into the final product you give to a person with celiac can be very harmful to them.

You'll want to keep the issue of cross-contamination on your mind as you cook or bake--that bag of brown sugar you're dipping your measuring spoon into, have you ever dipped a measuring spoon into it when it had remnants of a wheat substance like flour on it? Often it's just safest to start with brand new bags of the basic ingredients unless you know--for sure--that you have been careful about preventing contamination.

Another thing to always keep in mind when cooking GF is that you must check your ingredients for GF labeling on the packaging. Some surprising foods are not GF (soy sauce is one example) and if you aren't conscientious about checking your packaging you could feed a friend or loved one something that will make them ill--definitely not the intention!

If you want to use a product but it has no GF label on it, you should search out additional nutritional information on the company's website and/or contact the company directly through phone or email to confirm the product is safe. Companies are very happy to answer these questions and usually do so in a reasonably short time period. 


Another option for figuring out whether a product is GF is to search online for reputable lists of GF items collected by GF eaters and GF communities and groups.  


Remember that your best bet when searching for certified GF products, for example the GF graham crackers used in the current recipe, is to go to a specialty store like Whole Foods, Central Market, or Trader Joe's. These stores tend to have more explicitly GF options available.

Gluten Free (no)Campfire Smores

This second post in the "Gluten Free Food Gifts and Party Favors" series is on making a giftable version of a traditional smore, which is basically layers of graham cracker surrounding marshmallow and chocolate.  Typically, smores are cooked over an open flame, most traditionally a campfire.   

Many of you have probably eaten smores cooked over the fire during family campouts or boy- or girl- scout outings.  I know I did!  For those of us who did indulge in this sweet treat as kids, they have a strong nostalgic hold on us. 

My Gluten Free (no)Campfire Smores honor the nostalgia that many of us adults have for smores while updating them for a GF audience and making them gift-able.   These smores require no flame--hence me naming them (no)Campfire Smores--they're made with Gluten Free graham crackers for safe GF consumption and, in the ever-popular cake-pop tradition, my (no)Campfire Gluten Free Smores come on a stick for easy eating and easy decorative packaging.  


Below is the recipe and I even give you tips about how you can package and decorate the Gluten Free smores for gifting for a birthday or holiday or for giving out as a party favor!  But, before we get to those steps, let's talk about Gluten Free Graham Crackers...


There are several brands of Gluten Free Graham Crackers on the market and you'll need to purchase a variety available to you either through advanced ordering online or in a local specialty foods or grocery store.  


Some brands of GF Graham Crackers to keep on the lookout for follow; click the brand to follow the link to further information on the makers' websites:



RECIPE: Gluten Free (no)Campfire Smores

Ingredients
Make sure to avoid
cross-contamination!

Yields 6-7 (no)Campfire Smores
  • Large Marshmallows
  • Bittersweet Baker's Chocolate (2 boxes, at least)
  • GF Graham Crackers, crumbed
  • GF Chocolate + Peanut Butter Chips
  • White Baker's Chocolate (1/2 box)
  • Skewers (for skewering marshmallows on)
  • Optional: Nuts, such as pecans

Directions

[1.] Impale 3 large marshmallows on each skewer. If skewers are very long, feel free to cut them in half with a pair of kitchen scissors to make them more managable (this is what I did).

[2.] On a plate or in a large bowl, mix the GF graham cracker crumbs and chocolate + peanut butter chips together; set aside until ready to dip your chocolate-covered marshmallows. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

[3.] In a double boiler (you can do a make-shift double boiler by filling a large pot up with a little bit of water and balancing a smaller pot inside it such that the bottom of the smaller pot *almost* touches the water level of the larger pot) add bittersweet baker's chocolate and stir constantly until melted. Note: It is *imperative* that you use baker's chocolate and not chocolate chips. Chocolate chips contain stabilizers that make them nearly impossible to melt down well.

[4.] Dip skewered marshmallows into chcolate and roll them in GF graham cracer and chocolate + peanut butter chip topping. Set on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until chocolatae has solidified.

Recommended Presentation for Gifting

What You'll Need:

  • Clear Plastic Wrap (either regular kitchen wrap or decorative)
  • Decorating Ribbon (of your choice)
  • Decorative Gift Label (large enough to write the recipe on the back)
Directions:
  • Wrap "smores" in plastic wrap and secure plastic wrap with a little bit of ribbon. 
  • Tie multiple GF Smores together along with a label with "(no)Campfire Smores" on the front and the recipe on the back with a bow made out of colorful ribbon. 
  • Optional: Place wrapped GF Smores in cute coffee cup and encourage the recipient of your GF Smores to dunk into her morning coffee!  Yum!  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Product Review: Cafe Du Monde Chicory Coffee

Product Review: Cafe Du Monde Chicory Coffee
{GF* +  Vegan  + Vegetarian + Low-Carb}

Cafe Du Monde Chicory Coffee
with Almond Milk
When living a Gluten-Free, vegan, vegetarian, or low-carb lifestyle there are many amazing New Orleans food favorites that get taken, literally, off of the table.  Gumbo, Jambalaya, Po Boys and Beignets are forbidden to Gluten-Free eaters due to the flour-content of roux (used in much Canjun cooking) and also used for baking the Po Boy sandwich bread and Beignets.  For low-carb eaters, Gumbo and Jambalaya are taken out of the running by the high-carb rice they are served with, while vegetarian eaters probably won't be able to easily find veggie-friendly versions.  Vegans eaters are mostly just out of luck.

Pretty crappy, huh?  Well, don't get too down yet.  You CAN still get a taste of New Orleans even if you practice any one of these diets.  But, instead of *eating* New Orleans, you'll be *drinking* it.  I'm talking about Cafe Du Monde Chicory Coffee!

Cafe Du Monde Chicory Coffee: New Orleans Flavors for the Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian and/or Low-Carb Eater

Cafe Du Monde Chicory Coffee is available online at Cafe Du Monde's website, Cafe Du Monde Coffee, at many grocery stores in the South, including Super Target, and through online retailers such as Amazon.com.  

Cafe Du Monde's Chicory coffee is a great way to experience or remind yourself of the great flavors of New Orleans in the comfort of your home and without wandering outside of the Gluten-Free, Vegetarian or Vegan, or Low Carb diet(s) you practice.  

What is Chicory, Anyway?

Well now, that's a good question!  It's lettuce!  

Well, not exactly.  Chicory is made from the roots of endive plants, a type of lettuce that is from the same family as daisies.  You've probably eaten endive in salads and never known it--it comes in multiple varieties, including curly varieties sometimes referred to as frisee.  
Endive, leaf-form

The leaf of the endive can be somewhat bitter, but the roots--from which chicory is derived via roasting and grinding--is actually used to tame down the bitterness of coffee and to impart a slightly chocolaty flavor.  The end result is a more complex coffee drinking experience where the sometimes overpowering bitterness of coffee is subdued to allow for more subtle flavors, including the chocolate-like flavor of the chicory itself, to shine through.

Why is Chicory Coffee Representative of New Orleans Flavors?

As is true of much of New Orleans' most famous and well loved cuisine, Chicory coffee has its roots in French and French-Creole culture.  

Chicory itself became an additive in coffee during the French civil war.  With very small stocks of many food products, including coffee, the French would add chicory to their coffee to make their stores last longer.  This French culinary tradition was later brought to New Orleans along with many other French eating customs.  

Today, chicory coffee serves as the base of the Cafe Au Lait's (half milk / half coffee) you can (and should) order at many New Orleans eating establishments, including the famous Cafe Du Monde (made famous for their beignets).  

Chicory coffee is, I found from experience, such a cultural symbol of New Orleans food culture and history that old advertisements for chicory coffees constitute the subject matter of many postcards for sale at local bakeries and coffee houses.  If you've been to New Orleans you've probably spotted for yourself a postcard for sale like the one at the left!

Product Recommendation

Go for it!  Cafe Du Monde's Chicory Coffee is well loved and easily available--no matter how near to or far from New Orleans you are geographically.  I've been drinking my Cafe Du Monde Chicory Coffee with chocolate soy milk (to boost the chocolate flavor of the chicory) and with unsweetened plain almond milk.  Either milk substitute goes well in the Chicory Coffee.  

And, if you're feeling *really* authentic, bust out some dairy milk and mix yourself up a Cafe Au Lait--remember, it's just 1/2 milk and 1/2 Chicory coffee.  Easy!

* Note--There are no gluten containing ingredients in the Cafe Du Monde Chicory Coffee and GF eaters have routinely reported using this product safely (I could find no contradictory instances).  However, there is no GF labeling. 

Happy, Health, Weird Eating!
Kate

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