Posts Tagged braising

Review: The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen

When I was offered a copy of The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen for review, I wasn’t sure if I should accept.  It’s not a vegan book, not even vegetarian, and even though the recipes were dairy-free they could still contain eggs, which can be hard to replace in gluten-free recipes.  I looked into the author, Denise Jardine, and found out that she lives in the Bay Area and has worked at Whole Foods as a Healthy Eating Specialist.  And, I figured the publisher wouldn’t offer me a copy unless they thought I’d like it, so I signed on.

And I’m glad I did!  I don’t need to eat gluten-free, but I do sometimes coincidentally by eating a whole food vegan diet, and I certainly sympathize with those who do need to eschew gluten for medical reasons.  The Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free Kitchen is a great book to show anyone who might be worried about cutting out gluten that it can be done.  There is a chapter on basics like gluten-free flour mix, milk alternatives, beans and whole grains, and other sections for breakfast, small bites, salads and dressings, soups, vegetarian and companion dishes, sauces and spreads, yeasted and quick breads, sweet endings, and meat and fish dishes.  Vegetarians beware – there are pictures of meat and fish dishes sprinkled throughout those sections.

The first dish that caught my eye was Oyster Mushrooms Rockefeller.  For some reason I assumed the recipe wouldn’t be vegetarian, but it was completely vegan as written!  To turn it into a meal, I also made the Spicy Roasted Cauliflower.

The Oysters Mushrooms Rockefeller was really interesting and tasty.  You layer oyster mushrooms, wilted spinach and seasoned gluten-free bread crumbs, then top it off with a cashew cream.  The recipe calls for making bread crumbs from homemade gluten-free bread, but I had some store bought gf bread in the freezer so I just used that.

While the flavor of the overall dish was fantastic, I would change up the method a bit next time.  The mushrooms and spinach go in basically unseasoned, then the very flavorful bread crumb mixture went on top, so unless you got a bite with every layer it was a little unbalanced.  I would add a pinch of salt to the mushrooms and spinach, and maybe mix some of the breadcrumbs through, and then I think it would be really outstanding.

The Spicy Roasted Cauliflower was good, and also included carrots, potato and onion.  It was a basic roasted vegetable dish with curry powder and other spices, with some gf bread crumbs tossed in for crunch.

Next I wanted to veganize one of the meat dishes, since I figured it was a shame to skip over two whole chapters.  I chose the first recipe listed, Poached Cod Over Glass Noodles, because it sounded really healthy and flavorful.  My plan was to substitute tofu, although I wasn’t sure how well braised tofu would work out.

The answer is that braised tofu can be amazing.  You can’t really tell from the picture, but this tofu was so flavorful.  The broth was hearty, sweet, sour and pungent, with flavors from tomatoes, date syrup, lemongrass and ginger.  The bean thread noodles were a great textural complement, and while the bok choy was tricky to cut into, it made for a nice presentation.

I figured in order to do the book justice, I ought to try one of the breads using the gluten-free flour mix.  Many of the bread recipes do have eggs, so I attempted to veganize the Sweet Potato Cornbread.  I rounded out the meal with the Spicy Green Smoothie and the Sweet and Tangy Jicama Slaw.

I served the Spicy Green Smoothie as a cold soup, which worked out nicely.  It was light, refreshing and spicy, but also smooth from avocado.  The Jicama Slaw was crunchy and tasty, with cabbage, carrot, red bell pepper and a dairy-free mayonnaise based dressing.  I wouldn’t really say that I got the “sweet and tangy” part though, I thought the dressing could’ve been a little more flavorful.  Maybe it just seemed that way because I was having it with the spicy smoothie though.

The Sweet Potato Cornbread worked out pretty well, considering it was gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free AND sugar-free.  Right after baking it was pretty squishy and had a soft, dense texture, but after sitting overnight it firmed up a bit and felt more like “normal” cornbread.

Even though it’s not a vegan cookbook, I’m happy to have The Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen in my arsenal.  While some of the recipes are quite basic (I don’t think you need a recipe to make gf French toast if you know that gf bread exists), some of the recipes are really interesting and quite delicious.  I would definitely recommend the book to anyone seeking whole foods based dairy-free and gluten-free recipes.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.  The words, opinions and photos here are entirely my own.

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Weeknight Meals, Nacho Teese & Laptop Lunches

Here are a few more from the “what gets in my belly the fastest” files.

On a trip to Rainbow Grocery, which is kind of like specialty vegan product heaven, I picked up a package of frozen Nate’s Classic Flavor Meatless Meatballs.  I had seen them on a few other blogs and they seemed to be spoken of positively, so I figured I’d give ‘em a try.  Here they are perched atop wheat fettuccine and covered in Whole Foods marinara.

I like the meatless balls a lot.  The taste and texture are great, and they cook up in mere minutes.  However, at 90 calories per three I won’t be getting through the bag any time soon.

I also wanted a veggie side dish, and did not want to go to the grocery store, so I cooked the only vegetable I had – celery.  Now, I love me some raw celery, and it’s nice cooked with onions and peppers as the beginning of a dish, but who eats just cooked celery?

I do.  And it’s actually good.  And it uses up that celery in your fridge.  I know it’s there.  I have the remains of a stalk in my fridge right now.  Honestly, I made this a few weeks ago so I don’t remember exactly how I cooked it, but Google braised celery and you’ll find many ways.

One weeknight I found myself with some leftover takeout white rice, and that usually means clean-out-the-fridge-fried-rice.  I only had a bit of rice though and didn’t want to take the time to make more, so I said to myself “Quinoa cooks fast, I wonder if fried quinoa is good?”.

The answer is that fried quinoa is amazing.  And I didn’t feel like I had to add tofu or edamame like normal, since quinoa has so much protein on it’s own.  This version included sweet potato, carrot, cabbage and broccoli and it was quite nice, if I do say so myself.

On the aforementioned trip to Rainbow Grocery, I also snagged a tube of Nacho Teese.  Teese!  You may recall from my past experiments with Teese that I think it’s amazing, so I couldn’t wait to try the new flavor.  I wasn’t so judicious this time since it’s much easier to come by here than it was in Florida.

I knew that I wanted to make enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce, but since I’ve been trying to vary my grains, I thought about what I might use instead of tortillas.  I decided that swiss chard might just be a good enchilada wrapper, and I’m calling these Chard Enchiladas.  Because that’s what they are.

One of them was nice enough to open up in the oven and show us the filling, which was pinto beans, nacho teese, onions and chopped chard stem.

I didn’t precook the chard, which I probably should have because it was still a bit tough.  Overall though, this turned out pretty well.

What else do you make with nacho teese?  Duh, nachos.

Blue sesame corn chips, refried beans mixed with leftover enchilada sauce, salsa, teese, a quick guacamole, and these really good mild jalapeno slices that I found at Target.  The jalapenos made all the difference.

Closeup of the melty deliciousness:

This was so ridiculously filling, and so ridiculously good.

I haven’t made a whole lot of lunches lately because of all the holidays, but here are the few I’ve managed to take.

12-16 chard enchiladas, brown rice with corn & tomatoes,
avocado, candy cane jo jo’s

12-17 double fried quinoa (because it was that good),
edamame, persimmon & prunes

12-22 blue corn sesame chips, nacho dip (refried beans,
salsa, teese & jalapenos), carrots, clementine

12-23 toasted leftovers sandwich (tofurkey, spinach,
red onion, cream cheese, cranberry sauce), carrots
& celery, goddess dressing, dried apricot bar

Whew.  I feel better having caught up a bit.  Soon I’ll write posts about my New Year’s eats, sushi with a very special ingredient and my first CSA box, and hopefully find some time to catch up on reading other blogs too!

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Pantry Braised Red Cabbage

Since I still don’t have a job, I’m trying to eat everything out of my fridge before I buy anymore groceries.  I had a bunch of red cabbage left from making salads, and for some reason I was determined to braise it.  Mind you, I’ve never braised anything before, but in my head this was the only way I was going to prepare this cabbage.  I looked at some recipes online, all of which looked good, but all of which included items I didn’t have around, like onions or apples.  So I decided to make my own recipe with what I had on hand.  This smells really good while cooking, and the flavor is surprisingly complex for the small number of ingredients involved.

braised red cabbage

 

Pantry Braised Red Cabbage

1 Tbs Earth Balance
Half a head of red cabbage
2/3 cup apple juice
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbs agave nectar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp onion powder

1. Quarter and core cabbage, then slice crosswise into strips.
2. Melt Earth Balance in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add cabbage and saute about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cabbage starts to wilt.
3. Add remaining ingredients (apple juice through onion powder). Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove cover and continue to simmer 10 more minutes, until cabbage is tender and liquid is mostly evaporated.

Serves 3-4.

Cooked this way the cabbage still has some bite to it, it’s not completely cooked through.  If you want it really soft you could simmer for longer before removing the lid.

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