Thursday, September 13, 2018

Tzimmes under pressure

Image result for carrots sweet potato

As Seen on TV Power Pressure Cooker XLSo I've been trying to replicate my grandmother's a''h and mother's tzimmes since I've had my own household.  I could never get the softness of the carrots right or the thickness of the sauce. I have tried it different ways, baking, simmering, with orange juice, with crushed pineapple and nothing worked. Since I have a love affair with my electric pressure cooker, I decided to give that a try. And the saying, try, try again paid off as I met with success! And, in minimal time.

So over the years I've learned a few things, baby carrots, for some reason, don't work, don't put too much liquid in the pot and there's no shame in using a little cornstarch for the thick glisteny texture you desire.

So in just 20 minutes (plus time to bring it up to pressure) I B"H had perfect tzimmes to accompany my Rosh Hashana meal, and enough to freeze for Yom Kippur!

This is a wonderful accompaniment to any roasted meat or chicken entree. It keeps for a week in the refrigerator, and reheats well.

My Heritage Tzimmes

4 large carrots, peeled and cut in 2 inch pieces
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup prunes, pitted
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1 large cinnamon stick (discard after cooking)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch cardamon
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon corn starch

Place all items in the pot of an electric pressure cooker in the order listed. 

Secure lid and set to rice/beans setting for 20 minutes.

When done cooking release pressure. 

Remove vegetables and fruit to a container. 

Whisk corn starch into remaining liquid with pressure cooker on keep warm setting. When liquid is glisteny and thickened, pour over tzimmes and stir gently.

Serve warm

Yield: 10-12 servings

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Image result for just mayo


When Just Mayo first introduced it's eggless mayo, I was in love. Now that it has FLAVORED mayo I'm over the moon!  I've been trying their new Garlic flavor product on a host of barbecue favorites like coleslaw, burgers and corn. It has a smooth consistency, the earthy spice of garlic flavor and best of all no weird, indescribable taste as, unfortunately is not uncommon in ersatz food products.

Image result for GFAF

Below I have a new and easy coleslaw recipe using convenient bagged cabbage and Just Mayo. If you love new learning about new gluten and allergy products, and love tasting them even more, come on down to the GFAF Expo. It will be in the Tri-State area at the conveniently located Meadowlands Convention Center in Secaucus, New Jersey on  October 13th and 14th. Check out all the news about the event on social media with #GFAFExpo.

If you love bargains as much as new products, click this link to get 30% off tickets with code EARLYBIRD (until September 12th)!

Easy Creamy Vegan Coleslaw
Try this on top of a burger.

1 cup Just Mayo Garlic Flavor
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon agave nectar
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped dill
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1-14 ounce bag coleslaw blend

In a large mixing bowl whisk the first 6 ingredients until smooth. Add the coleslaw and stir to blend. 

Chill 1 hour before serving. 

Store tightly covered in refrigerator

Saturday, September 1, 2018 don't know jack (fruit)!


If you're like me you love yourself a good pulled bbq sandwich. If you're also like me the summer heat can be oppressive and you don't care to stand over the stove or que tending to a good piece of brisket or roasting a chicken (I don't eat the "other" popular pulled meat). So my electric pressure cooker is my bestie in the summer when it comes to cooking tender meat, healthy soups and a host of other dishes without heating up my kitchen.

Recently I came across canned jack fruit in a local store. I've been wanting to try this fruit which is often used in recipes as a vegan meat substitute. It most definitely has the fibrous, yet tender texture of meat. And, like tofu it has a neutral flavor that will soak up any sauce with which it's cooked. The price tag also is a bonus, as it was about a third of the price of using meat in this dish.  A number of different recipes online called for cooking methods and sauces that were quite long. As I mentioned I want to get in and out of the kitchen in the summer. So I subbed a favorite bottled BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's) and a quicker cooking method (the electric pressure cooker). I did need to finish it in the oven to achieve that pulled meat texture, but only for 15 minutes.

Served on a gluten free Udi's baguette with a cool and crunchy slaw topping (I used bagged broccoli slaw with a quick vinaigrette) and I had a roadside favorite without the fuss, muss and heat making it would usually incur. Oh, and did I mention it was delicious?

Pulled-BBQ Jack Fruit Sandwiches
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove crushed
2-20 ounce cans Jack Fruit, drained
1/2-1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1-18 ounce bottle favorite gluten free barbecue sauce
1/4 cup water

Heat an electric pressure cooker with the lid off (I usually put it on the "chicken/beef" setting to saute) and heat the oil. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Saute until onions become translucent (about 5-6 minutes). Add the garlic and saute an additional minute.

Add the jack fruit, hot sauce, salt and pepper, barbecue sauce and water. Stir until well combined. 

Turn off pot and attach lid according to manufacturer directions.  Set pressure pot to cook for 20 minutes on the "chicken/beef" setting. When done release pressure valve.

Pre-heat oven to 400F degrees. Spread cooked jack fruit mixture on a large non-stick baking sheet. With two forks flake apart Jack Fruit until it looks like pulled brisket.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Serving suggestion: Spoon jack fruit onto crusty rolls or a baguette. Top with slaw of your choice and serve warm. 

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, February 5, 2018

Ode to Samoas...


Make new friends, but keep the old, some are silver and the others gold.  That's how the famous Girl Scout song goes. It's been sung in a circle by myself and countless other girls over the years at Brownie and Girl Scout meetings. When I saw a Facebook friend post that once again it's Girl Scout Cookie season my mind wandered to my favorite varieties--Thin Mints and Samoas (recently renamed Caramel deLites). But for those of us who need to eat gluten, dairy or egg free, old favorites can be new enemies to our systems.  I was very happy to see that the Girl Scouts of America recognized this fact, and have added both gluten free and vegan choices to their repertoire. Leave it the Girl Scouts to remember the virtue of inclusiveness!

For those of you who can't find a Girl Scout to place your yearly order, try my "Ode To Samoas" cake, which will give you a taste of the old favorite within the parameters of a gluten free and allergen free diet. The recipe below is given with both vegan and non-vegan options.

This Bundt cake is very versatile and can be served with  a dusting of confectioners sugar instead of the suggested topping below. I left caramel sauce as "optional", even though it's an integral part of the Samoa cookie, because non-dairy caramel sauce can be hard to find.

Ode To Samoas Bundt Cake
2 cups granulated sugar or raw cane sugar (such as Florida Crystals)
2 cups all purpose gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs or 1-6 ounce container non-dairy yogurt (such as So Delicious vanilla or plain coconut milk yogurt)
1 cup non-dairy milk (i.e. rice, soy, almond or hemp)
1/2 cup canola or melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup hot coffee
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate bar)
2 teaspoons canola or coconut oil, or solid shortening
1/2 cup coconut flakes (toasted)*
1/4 cup caramel sauce (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a classic non-stick Bundt pan (10-12 cup size) with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together first 5 ingredients. Add eggs, milk,  oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the hot coffee and beat on low until blended. Pour into prepared baking pan. Smooth top with a spatula.
Bake in pre-heated oven, on middle rack for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack.
To assemble: 
Place chocolate and 2 teaspoons oil in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir until chocolate is melted. If it is not completely melted, return to microwave for 15 second increments, stirring after each one.
Place serving plate over cooled cake and flip over. Remove Bundt pan. With a teaspoon, drizzle melted chocolate all over cake. Sprinkle with coconut flakes. Allow chocolate to set, about 20 minutes. Drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired.
Yield: 10-12 servings
*To toast coconut flakes: Spread out in a thin layer on a non-stick baking pan or parchment covered baking pan.  Bake at 350F degrees for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. Watch carefully, as coconut can go from a lovely golden toast color to burnt in a few seconds. Cool before using. May be stored up to two weeks in an airtight container.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Miraculous M'jeddrah



So if you haven't heard of this delicious, and rather ubiquitous Middle Eastern dish, there are many ways to spell it: M'jeddrah, Mejadarah, Mujadrah. And the list goes on. The dish can be found from the Nile Delta to the Levant to the Gulf States. Subtle variations on the dish are found in Persian and Indian cuisines. It may seem exotic (read complicated), but it's not. Until now I've been doing my own version based on a few different recipes in a big stockpot on the stove. Then one busy day last week I decided to employ my electric pressure cooker (which I have a love affair with as described in previous posts).

I sautéed onions and bloomed my spices in the pressure cooker pot, then dumped in the remaining ingredients. I locked the lid, set the timer and hoped for the best.  After the 20 minutes cooking time, and waiting 10 minutes more for natural release (meaning don't flip the switch that lets steam escape...let it relax and escape naturally).

When I lifted the lid I was gifted with the aromatic smell of cumin and turmeric wafting towards me and the vision of PERFECT m'jeddrah before my eyes!  It's rare to hit upon the perfect outcome the on the first try, but Baruch Hashem, in this case I did! Below is my recipe for pressure pot m'jeddrah. There are variations on the spices, and you can play around with water amounts if you choose to use brown rice. It's a bit like stew in the sense that you can do your own riff on the recipe, and it will still come out good!

Remember that you have to factor in the time it takes to "come up to pressure" once you turn the pot on. In some cases it can be 30 minutes, and cooking time starts at that point. I find the fuller the pot and the more water the longer it takes to come up to pressure.  The beauty of the electric pressure cooker is that the you can press one button and walk monitoring a pot coming to boil which you have to reduce to simmer, etc. 

Electric Pressure Cooker M'jeddrah
(Vegan/Gluten Free)

1 1/2 cups brown lentils (soaked in a bowl of cold water for 2 hours)
1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed (but if you don't it's o.k.)
1/4 cup olive oil (EVOO or regular)
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch turmeric* (optional)
bay leaf (optional)
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
6 cups cold water

Turn on electric pressure cooker for sauté. I usually turn it on to the meat/chicken mode for this purpose. Add olive oil and heat to medium-high heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent and begins to brown.

Add spices, except pepper, and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add rice, lentils and pepper. Stir until well coated with oil and spices.

Add water and stir.  Secure lid on pressure cooker, and make sure safety valve is set to proper position for cooking.  Set cooker to 20 minutes on bean/rice mode. And walk away.

When the cooking is done, wait 10 minutes, or until steam dissipates on it's own to open lid. Serve or leave on keep warm setting for up to 2 hours.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

*Please not that turmeric can stain. I encourage my kids to change out of their white uniform shirts before we eat a dish containing a significant amount of turmeric. You can omit the turmeric in this recipe.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

We have a winner!


 I recall "days long ago" (yes that was a Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel reference in case you missed it) when my father stood in the kitchen and grated pounds of potatoes on a box grater.  As the gathered in a large bowl and turned pink, then brown, my mother frantically fried them to a golden crispness and the kids frantically ate them.
I have tried many vegan and gluten free latke recipes over the years, with varying degrees of success. I tried one that called for pureeing half the potatoes and shredding the other half. Using a slurry of potato starch and soy milk in lieu of eggs, and even trying to get a store bought mix to work in a pinch. But Isa Chandra Moskowitz came through with her great Rosti Latke recipe in her recent book, The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook,  that covers vegan food for just about every imaginable holiday. From Cinco de Mayo to Chinese New're covered! Plus lots of bonus content like, "Hosting for the Hopeless". Her irreverent voice (hey she is punk!), permeates the book.  Her easy to follow recipes sound like a friend is walking you through the steps. Best of all, Moskowitz chooses ingredients that are easy to find in any supermarket--not something I can say about all vegan cookbooks.

Like Moskowitz's other cookbooks, her latest one is consistently reliable. I also like that you do not have to jump through hoops to get a good vegan and gluten free dish.  The entire cookbook is not gluten free, but I've found substituting GF all purpose flour for the wheat flour called for in many of the recipes works fine.  I made her Rosti Latkes recipe twice this Chanukah and both times it was quick and easy with just 5 ingredients (plus oil for frying). Besides two types of potato latkes, you might want to try her Samosa Spiced Latkes or Gefilte Chickpeas to round out your Chanukah meal.

Another great recipe, which used up those half price candy canes you can get on December 26th, is her Candy Cane Fudge cookie (I subbed Freedom Delivered All Purpose Gluten Free Flour). The cookies are easy to make and visually appealing.  Overall I highly recommend the book as a great holiday gift for your favorite foodie!

Here are my annual frying tips to ensure you have golden and delicious latkes:
1) Make sure your pan is big enough--a 12 inch pan will comfortably hold 4 to 5 latkes at a time.
2)If your oil is hot enough (about 375F, that's medium high on the stove knob, or slightly left of center), you should have a golden, crispy product that doesn't absorb excess oil.
3) Test a small amount of batter to see if it's hot enough.
4) Put a piece of carrot in the oil to absorb the brown "yuckiness" that results in batch frying.
5) Set a wire rack on a paper grocery bag or a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. This allows the grease to drip down away from the food. If you set the food directly on a paper towel it just sits in the grease.
6) Pre-heat your oven to 275F, and have a non-stick pan handy to load up with the already fried latkes and keep them warm while you're doing the rest.

I found this is great with the usual applesauce topping, but my favorite new twist is with kimchi on top!   

Rosti Latkes
from Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, p. 372.

2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Lots of canola oil, for frying

Whether you're using a food processor with a grating blade or a box grater, shred the potatoes and transfer them to the middle of the unfolded cheesecloth. Over the sink, twist the excess cloth to wring out the liquid from the potatoes. Get them as dry as possible. It can take a few minutes to really squeeze the liquid out. When done, transfer the shredded potatoes to a a large mixing bowl, along with the onion (note: I found I didn't need to wrap the potatoes in cheesecloth to get out the extra water. But, if there is a lot of liquid after grating, I suggest you follow this step. I also just halved the onion and put it in the processor with the potatoes).

Add the potato starch, salt, and black pepper and toss with your hands to get everything well combined. Even though you squeezed those potatoes so well, there will still be a bit of liquid left to absorb the starch.

Preheat a large cast iron pan (note: I used a non-stick GreenPan) over medium-high heat. Have ready some brown paper bags or a baking sheet lined with paper towels for draining the oil from the latkes. Add about 1/2-inch of ail to the pan. While the oil heats, form some latkes by pressing the potatoes into 3/4 inch thick cakes that are about 2 inches in diameter (note:  press the mixture into a 1/4 cup measuring cup or ice cream scoop, and place it directly into the frying pan). 

The oil is hot enough when you drop in a pinch of batter and bubbles rapidly form around it. If it immediately smokes, then the heat is too high and you should lower it a bit. IF the bubbles are really lazy, just give it a few more minutes or turn up the heat a bit.

Fry the latkes until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side, checking the underside often so that they don't burn.

Transfer the latkes to the lined pan to drain, Sprinkle with a little salt, flip and sprinkle with salt again, the proceed with the remaining latkes. Serve warm.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Zany Brainy


Any event or holiday that has food as its focus can be scary and alienating for children with food allergies, Celiac and sensitivities.  A holiday that involves Snickers bars freely being handed around is a nightmare!

As a parent you always strive to create a safe environment for your children--on all levels. As a food allergy/Celiac parent, you need to do that with alternatives to "hazardous" food for your children.  It may involve offering fun alternatives to food, like parties that focus on crafts and activities--not candy. Or a special outing, such as an arcade or an indoor trampoline park or bounce house place.  As well, you can involve your kids in making their own treats. A recent visit to my local dollar store yielded a very cool (and cheap!) brain mold for gelatin or mousse and some cute pumpkin silicone ice molds I thought would be perfect for homemade chocolates.

The technique I use for melting the chocolate for the brain mold can also be used to make chocolates for any sort of mold, or even just put in circles on waxed paper or in paper cupcake tin liners.  You can add any of the following to the chocolate to make your own candy depending on individual's permitted foods:
-crisp rice cereal
-crushed GF Chex cereal
-chopped nuts
-caramel sauce
-marshmallow crème
-maraschino cherries
-dried fruit

To fill molds with instant kosher gelatin (which is normally fish based a bit looser than brands like Jello) I use  1 1/2 cups of water instead of the 2 cups called for on the box.  That works perfectly.  You can add gummy worms to the gelatin for an interesting and creepy element. First add a cup or two of the liquid gelatin to the mold, chill to set, then add your gummies and the remainder of the gelatin. This should keep the candy from sinking to the bottom of the mold. 

The mold I used is about 5 cups. A Pyrex bowl ay be used as well. For the mousse, you can also wrap individual bowls or custard cups in plastic wrap and dip the bottom the melted chocolate. Sprinkle with sprinkles, chopped candy or chopped nuts, if desired. Chill face down, then release and peel off the plastic wrap for decorative chocolate "bowls" for the mousse, ice cream or fruit.
Check out my youtube video of the chocolate brain at this link!

Chocolate Mousse Brain (Vegan)
2-10 or 12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
2 Tablespoon softened coconut oil or vegetable shortening, divided
1-14 ounce can coconut milk (full fat), shaken
1 Tablespoon instant coffee granules (optional) or 1 teaspoon any flavor extract

In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine 1 bag of chocolate chips and 1 Tablespoon coconut oil or shortening.  Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Stir until chocolate chips are fully melted.  If they are not melted after first 2 minutes, return to the microwave and heat in 15 second intervals, stirring after each one.  Stir until chocolate mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth. Pour into prepared chocolate mold, turning mold until it is evenly coated. Pour off any excess and reserve for another use.  Chill mold in refrigerator until firm.
In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine coconut milk, chocolate chips, 1 Tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable shortening and coffee granules.  Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Stir until chocolate chips are fully melted.  If they are not melted after first 2 minutes, return to the microwave and heat in 15 second intervals, stirring after each one.  Stir until chocolate mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth.  Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Pour into  chilled mold. Cover with plastic wrap and return to refrigerator until thoroughly cooled and set (several hours). 
When ready to serve place a plate over mold and flip over. Gently remove mold. If it doesn't easy loosen, run a paring knife around top edge of chocolate before flipping, and wet a cloth with hot water to place around outside of mold.
Serves: 10-12