Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

I have been craving sweet, biscuity cinnamon rolls for two weeks and finally got time to make them today, with much success! The dough is mostly Rebecca Reilly's delicious scone recipe from Gluten-Free Baking, with adaptations and additions as needed. If you're the kind of person who glazes cinnamon rolls, then glaze away, but these rolls don't need a glaze.

[This recipe is much easier to deal with than the other cinnamon roll recipe on this site. By a long shot.]

3 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 rounded tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup butter, cold
2 large eggs
1 tbsp liquid honey
1/2 cup whipping cream

First, blend softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

Combine flours and starches with baking pwder, xanthan gum, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until well blended. Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender or two knives until finely crumbed. Beat eggs, honey, and cream with a fork until well blended. Pour over crumbed mixture. Stir well, to make a well-mixed, moist but workable dough.

Turn out on a sheet of parchment or other pliable material that is well dusted with rice flour. Knead the dough 8 to 10 times. Pat out with fingers to a rectangle approximately 12" long and 9" to 10" wide, ensuring the dough is not too thin or weak at any point.

Crumble the reserved butter, sugar, and cinnamon mixture as best you can and sprinkle it over the dough as evenly as you can. Spread gently with fingers to ensure coverage, leaving one lengthwise edge uncovered so it will seal. Be careful not to tear dough. Roll the dough gently into a log lengthwise. Cut the 12" tube into approximately 16 pieces, 3/4" each. Set 2" apart on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 400F for 10 to 12 minutes, until puffed outwards and golden on top.

Makes 16 rolls to serve with hot tea.

Potato-Sweet Potato Bake

One more casserole. I always make this as a vegetarian dish, but I was once told the original recipe (from I know not where) called for a pound of cooked garlicky sausage, sliced into 1/2” chunks. It's often hard to say if sausage is gluten-free, unless you are on close terms with your sausage-maker. And let's face it -- that sounds kinky. Be generous in measuring the potatoes and sweet potatoes. There's plenty of tomato sauce.

about 2 pounds potatoes, diced and peeled
about 1 pound sweet potatoes, diced and peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 (19 oz) can tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt, to taste
1 cup old Cheddar cheese, grated

Steam potatoes and sweet potatoes until just tender. Pour into a casserole.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat oil and add onions and garlic. Sauté until soft. Add spices and sauté several more minutes. Add tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour over potatoes and sweet potatoes. Stir to cover vegetables. Sprinkle on grated cheese.

Bake at 400F for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

It's casserole week! Comfort food for the winter. Here's a simple vegetarian "shepherd's pie," because you can't spend all that time caring for woolly little sheepies and then eat them. My old flatmates in New Zealand deserve credit for this recipe!

6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp milk, cream, or buttermilk

2 medium onions, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oil
300 g diced mushrooms
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp thyme
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp arrowroot flour (or cornstarch)
1/2 cup potato cooking water or low-salt veggie stock
2 tbsp sour cream (optional)
about 2 cups cooked kidney beans (1 large can, well drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup grated Cheddar (optional)

Cook quartered potatoes in water until tender; reserve 1/2 cup of the drained cooking water. Mash potatoes with the cream, milk, or buttermilk.

Sauté the chopped onion and garlic in oil in a large frying pan. Add the diced mushrooms and sugar and cook until the onions are well browned. Stir in the salt, herbs, pepper, and arrowroot. Pour in the reserved potato cooking water slowly, stirring constantly, until the sauce is the consistency of thick gravy; remove from the heat and add the sour cream, if desired. Stir in the cooked drained beans. Pour into a 2L casserole. Top with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, until nicely bubbled up.

Makes about 6 to 8 servings, depending on appetites.

Garden Vegetable Lasagna

More stuck-together-food. With fresh (or frozen) garden tomatoes, the natural sweetness can be overpowered by meat, so we make a rich vegetarian lasagna. Brown rice noodles work best when pre-cooked only long enough to be flexible, so it is important to ensure there’s enough moisture in the lasagna to prevent the noodles from drying out. If you find your sauce is not liquid enough and your noodles are beginning to buckle, take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle some water (preferably reserved pasta-cooking water) on top.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, diced small (or one small eggplant, peeled and diced small)
200 g mushrooms, diced small (portobello mushrooms are ideal)
1 good-sized red pepper, diced small
1 hot pepper, minced (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 lg. can tomatoes (or equivalent frozen homegrown tomatoes), broken up with spoon
1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 tbsp dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped)
2 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tbsp fresh chopped)
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 2 tsp fresh chopped)
lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar

18 oz brown rice lasagna noodles (a box and a half of the brand I buy)
1 400 g pkg mozzarella cheese, grated
1 500 g pkg cottage cheese
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
10 oz fresh spinach, stems removed, leaves washed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
freshly ground black pepper

In hot oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan, sauté the chopped onion and garlic 5 minutes. Add the zucchini (or eggplant), mushrooms, and red pepper and sauté an additional 5 minutes, until vegetables are just beginning to be tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, vinegar, and sugar, and stir, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon or snipping them with scissors as needed. Simmer for a good long while, until slightly reduced and thickened. When you draw a spoon across the bottom of the pan, you want the sauce to fill in the gap in about 5 to 7 seconds.

In a pot with plenty of boiling water, precook lasagna noodles until pliable enough to handle and to shape easily into the pan, but not tender, a maximum of five minutes.

Skim some juicy sauce off the top and moisten the entire bottom of a 9x13” baking pan until well-coated with sauce. Spread on a layer of the lightly precooked lasagna noodles. Trim noodles with scissors as needed to make them fit snugly. Top with 1/2 the sauce and 1/2 the mozzarella cheese.

Add another layer of lasagna noodles. Cover with spinach, pressing down so it doesn’t fall out of the pan. Spread the spinach with the whole container of cottage cheese, grind on lots of black pepper, sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg, then top with another layer of noodles, again trimming the noodles to help them fit.

Top the noodles with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella, and sprinkle liberally with Parmesan and more black pepper.

Bake 40 minutes at 350F.

Serves 9 to 12, depending on appetites.

Chicken and Black Bean Casserole

My brother Patrick and sister-in-law Tara developed this yummy mixture, and my daughter, always happy to eat casserole (or, as we call it, "stuck-together food") was very pleased to taste-test it for them several times over the holidays. Writing down the proportions for the recipe seems to go against the spirit of how Tara and Patrick put it together. They are much more free-spirited in their approach. They have made it deliciously with beef or with chicken. The only ingredient they absolutely insist on is the salsa: it must be authentic Herdez Mexican salsa.

1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice

1 can (19 oz/540ml) black beans
1 bottle (16 0z/453 g) salsa
1/2 cup sour cream

500 g chicken thighs, diced (or equivalent amount of leftover cooked chicken, diced)
1 red pepper, diced
12 or so medium-sized mushrooms

Cook rice in a rice cooker in 3 cups of water. Pour into a casserole that will hold about 3 L.
Stir in rinsed and drained black beans, salsa, and sour cream.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, saute diced chicken in two batches until lightly browned. Stir into casserole. Saute red pepper and mushrooms lightly until just tender, 5 minutes. Stir into casserole.

If the casserole needs more moisture, add a bit more sour cream.

Bake at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes, until bubbling and hot all the way through. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 10 to 12 servings, depending on appetites at your house.