Category Archives: egg-free

Beat.

IMG_7716

It hardly seems appropriate to say Happy New Year, but here it is, 2014. Thinking retroactively, here’s what was on my winter to-do list:

• Finish edits on a cookbook
• Take a time-out
• Gather every preschool germ Graham brings home and filter it through my system
• Pitch stories to magazines I’ve never worked with before (some Not! About! Food!)
• Do my taxes
• Finish details of our basement remodel
• Take a writing class
• See a kid through two surgeries
• Apply to private and public kindergartens for said kid

In my mind, two months in, the last thing is the only thing that really happened.

“It’s not the school that’s bad,” soothed my husband one wintry morning. “It’s the system that’s bad.” I sniffed over the phone, and tried to compose myself on the damp bench outside my gym, where an impromptu conversation with the principal of our local elementary school had reduced me to tears and snot and hiccups. My purse sagged open into the dirt of a giant potted plant. But Jim was right. The principal had never met Graham. And he hadn’t, as I’d insinuated, actually told me that my son didn’t belong in his halls. He’d just said he wasn’t sure, and refused to speak with me further, because I hadn’t followed the (totally top secret) prescribed order of operations.

In Seattle, where public schools are arguably better than those in many spots across the country, the process of enrolling a child with special needs in a typical kindergarten classroom requires patience, time, and emotional stamina. In the past week, I have been told to enroll, not to enroll, to fill out the special education form, not to fill out the special education form, that the special education form doesn’t exist, to fill out the school choice form, not to fill out the school choice form, that I need to appear in person to enroll because of the choice form, that I shouldn’t have appeared in person to enroll, that my special ed form will be shredded, that I’m already enrolled, and that RIGHT NOW I’ll be enrolled anyway even though I shouldn’t be standing where I’m standing and don’t need to enroll.

Now, Graham is officially enrolled in our local public elementary school. Will we end up there? Time will tell. At least we have a back up plan. Does that mean the system beat me? Or did I beat the system? This parenting thing is not for the weak.

Out of the blue this morning, when I was getting whiny over all this school nonsense, Graham decided to take the stairs to into his current classroom for the first time. A friend put him up to it and offered to take his walker to the top, and he just agreed. Like it was the most normal thing in the world. Like in his little way, he was saying Mom, I got this thing beat. See?

(Thanks, kid. You sure do.)

Graham on the steps

Grilled Beets with Herbs and Preserved Lemon (PDF)
In my house, beets make excellent decorations, but they’re rarely the main event—mostly because I tend to chop them up and shove them into salads more quickly than they can stand up for themselves. Here, they shine between layers of crème fraîche and fresh herbs, punched up a bit with preserved lemon.

If I haven’t made my own, I buy preserved lemons at Picnic in Seattle, because the owners, Jenny and Anson Klock, do a consistently excellent job. To use them here, cut them into quarters. Push the lemon’s meat out of the fruit and discard it, then use a small knife to trim the thin white layer of pith away from the peel. Once you have just the yellow peel, it’s ready to chop and use.

Serves 4

3 fist-sized red beets, roasted, peeled, and cut into 3/4-inch rounds
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh herbs (leaves only)
Peel of 1/4 preserved lemon, pith trimmed, very thinly sliced
Chunky sea salt, for serving

In a large bowl, mix the beet slices together with the olive oil and salt until well blended.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. (You can use a regular heavy-duty pan instead, if you prefer.) When hot, add the beets, and cook, undisturbed, until well marked on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total, turning the beets once during cooking.

Meanwhile, smear the crème fraîche onto a serving plate. Pile the beets on top, then scatter the herbs and preserved lemon on top. Drizzle the beets with additional olive oil, sprinkle with chunky sea salt, and serve.

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Filed under commentary, egg-free, farmer's market, garden, gluten-free, Lunch, recipe, salad, Seattle

Back to school announcements

It’s been ages since I felt like the whole “back to school” thing affected me. But here I am, in full mom mode, having dropped my child off for his first day of preschool. He put his lunch away in his little cubby, kissed me goodbye, and charged into the classroom in his walker without looking back. I was so proud of him.

Sure, things might be changing for him, but I feel like they’re also changing for me. Sitting down, I feel like I need to have a little come to jesus with my computer. Where am I? Who am I? What am I writing next? I have so many exciting small projects, but I need big picture focus. I need lesson plans.

In the meantime, I want to share a few things with you. They’re like announcements, only the loudspeaker is hopefully much less annoying:

  • First, the September/October issue of Edible Seattle is out, and The Recipe of Summer (or The Recipe My Wife Won’t Put Away, if you ask a certain someone) is on the cover. Yup, that’s it, right up there – the vermicelli noodle bowl that’s taken over every dinner party, every weekend, and every ingredient in my refrigerator. I’ve made it a gazillion ways, often with squash, sometimes whirling hot peanut butter into the dressing, sometimes topping it with grilled spot prawns, sometimes containing it in rice paper wrappers, like Vietnamese-style summer rolls on steroids. I’ve tinkered with the vinaigrette until it’s just the way I love it. The recipe is below. Pick up a copy of Edible Seattle for more recipes; they’re designed to help you use the abundance of squash hanging fat on their vines these days.
  • Tomorrow, September 7th, a joint art exhibit opens at the Gage Academy in Seattle. Spearheaded by my friend Hannah Viano, a papercut artist, “Straight Back Home to You” explores the concept of home through physical art, dance, voice, and smell. (Guess where I come in?) You can experience all of them together at the opening reception on September 21st.

In the meantime, here’s that new favorite…

Summer Garden Vermicelli Salad (PDF)
Originally published in Edible Seattle’s September 2012 issue

serves 4 | start to finish: 30 minutes
This flexible, colorful salad takes advantage of whatever your garden gives. These days, that probably means cucumbers, carrots, and squash, but use whatever vegetables you prefer—think tomatoes, thinly sliced peas or beans, or shredded basil. Use the marinade on chicken, per the recipe below, or substitute tofu or fish. If you’re feeling fancy, fry thinly sliced shallots in canola oil and use them as a crunchy topping.

for the dressing
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup fish sauce
2/3 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 to 3 teaspoons sriracha, to taste

for the salad
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3), trimmed of excess fat
About 8 ounces rice vermicelli (8 little bundles)
2 large carrots, peeled
2 small yellow or green zucchini, trimmed
2 small cucumbers, trimmed, peeled if needed
2 cups thinly sliced crunchy lettuce, such as romaine
4 sprigs mint, finely chopped
12 sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

First, make the dressing: Whisk the dressing ingredients to blend in a medium bowl.

Combine 1 cup of the dressing, the canola oil, and the chicken breasts in a baking pan, turn to coat, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat (about 400°F). Soften the rice vermicelli according to package instructions.

Put the chicken on the grill, allowing any excess marinade to drip back into the pan first. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, turning once, or until the chicken is well marked on both sides and cooked through.

Meanwhile, divide the noodles between four large bowls or plates. Grate the carrots, zucchini, and cucumbers with a food processor or hand-held grater, and add them in little piles next to the noodles, along with the chopped lettuce. Slice the chicken and divide it between the salads. Top with the mint, cilantro, and peanuts, and serve while the chicken is still warm, drizzled with plenty of the dressing.

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Filed under egg-free, Et cetera, gluten-free, recipe, stir-fry, vietnamese

Energy

Seed & Nut Energy Bar cut

Look closely at this here energy bar. You’ll see Washington hazelnuts – that nifty, almond-shaped DuChilly variety that doesn’t need skinning after a good roast. There are pistachios, and pepitas, and sunflower seeds. Glance again, and you’ll see sweetness in the form of dried apricots and cranberries.

There are things you won’t see, also. You won’t really notice the crispy rice cereal and date puree that binds the bars together. You won’t see the bar I squashed in the bottom of my computer bag this morning, or the way I turned the bag inside-out around my fist so I could eat said squished bar without spilling the stray bits into my keyboard at my favorite coffee shop. And you won’t see the first or second version of these bars – both of which got eaten, but neither of which held together the way I wanted.

What I wanted, and what I wanted to give you, was a crunchy, crackly, naturally sweetened, portable energy bar. I wanted a rice krispy treat for grown-ups – something with the process and allure of that old childhood treat, but much more lasting oomph. These are them. I love the secrets they reveal when I cut them open with a big, heavy knife, and I love that I can pack one discretely into my gym bag and eat it before zumba class. (Don’t knock it, people.) But what I love most is that I had the energy to make these bars over and over until I got them just right.

I’m the kind of person who finds it easier to complain most profusely in hindsight. It’s a talent I’ve cultivated over the years, perhaps because in my house growing up, whingeing never really got me anywhere. But if a certain something has already happened? I can bitch about the past with the best of ‘em. I had the worst blisters. That man next to me on the airplane had the most terrible stench. It was the driest sandwich bread I’ve ever tasted.

So now I can say how effing annoying it was that it’s hurt to chew for months, and that although it’s a decent party trick, I really don’t like it when my fingers turn white and blue at random all day long. And though there are many inconveniences in life that I’m happy to deal with, being constantly exhausted is not one of them. These past few months, lupus has not been fun. More than anything, I hated feeling that I was always searching for energy.

But here’s my good news: the new lupus drug I’m on is starting to erase all that. Slowly. Surely. Most mornings these days, I wake up more quickly than usual, because I’m so surprised to meet a body in a little less pain. I’m shocked that my ankles can creak and pop freely, because the connective tissue in my feet has started loosening. I’m startled, because these days, I have energy. I’m exercising. I’m gardening. (Nothing boosts an ego like having full-grown peas before the rest of the block.) And people, I’m cooking. I’m cooking a lot.

This past weekend, BlogHer Food, a conference that gathers bloggers and food writers from all over, was in Seattle. I spoke, and I listened, and after meeting and greeting and laughing and eating, I bussed myself home with lists and lists of ideas—new blogs to read, new recipes to write, new people to love. And every night, the second my child’s head hits the pillow, I start cooking. There’s been strawberry-vanilla jam from Food in Jars, and those fabulously smokey nut-dusted green beans from Ripe (AKA The Cookbooks Of My Summer), and these bars.

This. This feels good.

Seed & Nut Energy Bars 2

Nut and Seed Energy Bars (PDF)
I know, I know, it’s a boring title for a recipe. But here’s the thing: it doesn’t really matter which nuts and seeds you pack into these portable little snacks, as long as the total is about 5 cups. I didn’t want to get all didactic on you. Go wild. Also, use peanut butter instead of almond butter, if you’d like, or chopped dried cherries or raisins in place of the apricots or cranberries. Just do me a favor: when you’re mixing the whole thing together in a big bowl, when no one’s looking, stick a hand into the mixture and squeeze. Just for a second. It’s sticky and messy, but it’s also fun—and isn’t that what snacks should be?

If you can’t find DuChilly hazelnuts, which don’t require skinning, toast and skin regular hazelnuts separately.

Makes about 2 dozen squares
Active time: 15 minutes

1 cup raw pepitas
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw hazelnuts
1 cup raw (shelled) pistachios
10 dates, pitted
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
1/4 cup unsalted almond butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
2 cups crispy rice cereal

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the pepitas, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios, stir to blend, and toast for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until the seeds and nuts are lightly browned. Set aside.

Meanwhile, whirl the dates in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment until pureed. (The mixture will be thick and pasty.)

Add the brown rice and maple syrups to a large soup pot. Bring the syrups to a boil over medium heat. Add the arrowroot powder, almond butter, sea salt, and date puree, and whisk until smooth. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the toasted nuts and seeds, cranberries, and apricots, then gently fold in the cereal.

Line a 9- by 13-inch pan with parchment or waxed paper, so the paper comes all the way up the sides of the pan. Dump the seed and nut mixture into the pan, spreading it out in a roughly even layer. Press another sheet of parchment or waxed paper on top, and use a drinking glass or a spice jar to press and roll the mixture into a flat, even layer. Let the bars cool completely.

Peel the top layer of paper off, invert the bars onto a large cutting board, and peel off the other layer of paper. Using a really big knife, cut the bars into 2- by 2-inch squares. (Be decisive when you cut; meek cutting will result in bars with jagged edges.)

Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days, or wrap and freeze individually. Grab and go in the morning!

19 Comments

Filed under egg-free, gluten-free, Great Food Blogs, lupus, recipe, Seattle Food Blogs, snack

Ice cream for breakfast

Mint Chip4

Confession #1: I had ice cream for breakfast. Confession #2: It woke me up more effectively than my coffee did. I’m not sure if this speaks to my coffee-making skills, or to this cloudy Seattle morning, or to the minty blast of the ice cream itself, but I’m awfully tempted to credit this last thing. Toothpaste comes in mint flavor for a reason, I suppose.

Do you know Molly Moon’s? It’s an ice cream shop in Seattle. Only, it’s not just an ice cream shop. It’s sort of an institution here. It’s where we took Graham for his first ice cream cone. It’s run by the effervescent miss Molly Moon Neitzel (yes, that’s her real name), who, it so happens, graduated from Boise High School, just like me. (When I sat down to interview her once for a Seattle Weekly story, right when the shop opened, I was shocked to realize I knew her.)

It’s been my go-to spot for excellent ice cream for years. But until her cookbook came out, I didn’t realize Molly Moon’s makes Philadelphia-style ice cream, which means it’s made without eggs (not with steak and cheese, although I’m sure someone with freshly pulled wisdom teeth and a craving has looked into that). I’ve been avoiding eggs, so homemade ice creams had sort of fallen off my radar. But this. This is a book I could freeze my way through, one recipe after the next. This weekend, I made this minty number, a take on her “Scout” mint ice cream (made with Girl Scout thin mints), plus her cappuccino ice cream, which tasted like a frosty version of the Vietnamese coffee I order at my local pho spot.

So what’s the upside, besides ice cream for breakfast? Short of pouring cream directly into your ice cream maker, Molly Moon’s ice cream doesn’t get any easier to make. Which could be a problem, if you’re feeling pessimistic. I just see it as a reason to put heavy cream and an extra bar of good Theo chocolate on my regular shopping list.

Mint Chip Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (PDF)
Recipe adapted from Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (Sasquatch, 2012)

This is Molly Moon’s recipe for her famous “Scout” Mint Ice Cream, which is (in my humble opinion) the world’s best minty ice cream, studded with the Girl Scouts’ thin mint cookies. My version uses pure dark chocolate in place of the cookies, because I failed to save any this year. Perhaps next year I’ll follow Molly’s buying habits; she purchases 325 boxes of those addictive discs (from every girl she buys from!) every year to make Scout for her shops–a total of over 5,000 boxes!

Makes 1 to 1 1/2 quarts

1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 (3-ounce) 70% dark chocolate bar, such as Theo Chocolate’s, finely chopped

Put the milk, cream, sugar, and salt into a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Before the mixture has come to a boil, remove from the heat. Pour the mixture into a shallow pan or bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly, 1 to 2 hours.

When the mixture is cold, stir in the peppermint extract. Pour it into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During the last few minutes of processing, add the chocolate pieces. (Make sure you include all the chocolate dust.) Using a rubber spatula, transfer the ice cream to an airtight glass or plastic freezer container. Cover tightly and freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least 4 hours.

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Filed under dessert, egg-free, gluten-free, recipe

Late Bloomer

Quinoa and Lentil Salad with Mint, Feta, and Cauliflower 1

When it comes to the vegetable world, cauliflower is a bit of an underdog. Not in a chubby turnip way, or even in a dread-headed celeriac way, but in a could-have-been-greener broccoli wanna-be sort of way. It doesn’t have the drama of an artichoke or the diva personality of spring’s first asparagus. (It would never dare to be bunched up with 15 of its closest pals and put on display at the front of the grocery store, Rockettes-style.)

Not cauliflower. Cauliflower is modest. Cauliflower got her ears pierced at sixteen. She’s been sheltered all her life—in so many places, in that suffocating plastic wrap—and shoved into step beside more pedestrian vegetables like carrots and celery. But oh, people. This girl’s got hidden talent.

It’s not that I never wanted to get to know cauliflower. I met with her occasionally, pureed for soup, or pickled for a salad, or perhaps roasted, with raisins and garlic and pine nuts and lemon. But only today, after a run-in with grilled cauliflower showered with homemade almond dukka, did I realize she’s a natural-born star. And she was discovered late enough that she’s somehow still classy. Still genuine. Full of flavor, but not one to flaunt it. She keeps her right leg to herself, this one.

Maybe you’re a step ahead of me. Maybe you’ve been downing cauliflower all this time—since before your son discovered that if you squeeze lemon juice on it and let it sit for a bit, it turns pink, the same way the greener, more svelte vegetables turn brown in the same situation. (This girl’s used to adversity. She lasts a good ten days in the fridge, if you insist upon it.)

But suppose all that isn’t true. Suppose you’re still walking right by (like my husband, who refuses to believe she’s just a late bloomer, like me. He thinks she plays Bingo in Velcro shoes with eggplant, but we’ve agreed to disagree.) In that case, you’ll need to stop, the next time you see her, and bring her home, along with some quinoa and two handfuls of little green lentils. Grab some feta and fresh mint, while you’re at it; you’ll be making a giant salad that tastes as good spooned out of Tupperware in the ski area parking lot as it does warm, sitting at the dinner table. You’ll notice the cauliflower is still herself here, despite all the other things going on.

Yup. She’s a keeper.

Quinoa and Lentil Salad with Mint, Feta, and Cauliflower 2

Quinoa and Lentils with Mint, Feta, and Cauliflower (PDF)
Lentils have never made me swoon the way, say, chickpeas can. Ditto for cauliflower, an underdog of the vegetable world. But my friend Dan taught me that if you pair the two with crunchy quinoa, bright mint, salty feta, plus a swirl of olive oil and the punch of white vinegar, and you’ve got a main-course salad that puts the words “quinoa bowl” to shame. If you’re making this salad ahead, let the lentils and quinoa mixture cool to room temperature before folding in the cauliflower, mint, and cheese.

I suppose a can of lentils would work here in place of the home-cooked kind, but like most beans, they require very little actual work time.

Makes 6 servings

For the lentils
3 cups water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup green lentils
1 teaspoon salt

For the quinoa
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup quinoa

For the salad
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets, steamed until tender
1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
Salt and freshly ground pepper

First, cook the lentils: combine the water and vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the lentils, return to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer the lentils until tender, 45 to 60 minutes, adding the salt after about 30 minutes. Strain the lentils.

While the lentils cook, make the quinoa: combine the broth, water, and salt in another small saucepan. Bring to boil, then add the quinoa and cook over low heat, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Stir the hot quinoa together in a large bowl with the shallot, vinegar, and olive oil. When they’re done, add the lentils, then the cauliflower, feta, and mint. Stir to combine, and season with salt and pepper, if necessary, before serving.

4 Comments

Filed under cheese, egg-free, garden, gluten-free, grains, Modern, recipe, soy-free, vegetables, vegetarian

Parsley. In February.

Clams with Chorizo and Chickpeas 3

One of the things I really love about Seattle is having parsley in February. It spurts forth with a stubbornness even my two-year-old can’t muster, preening through the rain, ignoring our recent “snowstorm.” (The Idahoan in me still can’t call that a real storm.) I like to pick it right after 5 p.m., when people are walking home and watching, because it doesn’t feel as much like bragging when I don’t actually open my mouth. After I bring it inside, I peel off my socks, because I’m forever dreaming that somehow my socks won’t get wet if I run extra fast from the front door to the edge of the garden in the rain with a paring knife in my hand. Then I wash the parsley well, because I can’t seem to trust that someone hasn’t been fertilizing it with some magic chemical when I’m not looking. Finally, it sits on the drying rack, next to the Tupperware, and waits.

Seattle garden parsley

Last week, it waited for a clam and chorizo stew I made with Kathy Gunst, when she was visiting. Kathy is my cooking Yoda. She’s not short, and doesn’t have big ears, but since an internship with her ten years ago, it’s her voice I hear when I’m standing in front of the stove, wondering what comes next, or what flavors work together. Over the years, I’ve spent days and days cooking in her kitchen, in Maine, but we’d never really cooked together in mine. I’d forgotten what it’s like to have a real cooking partner. It’s especially convenient when there’s a kid in the house; it’s like having four hands, instead of two, only they really can be in two places at once.

I threw chorizo into a high-sided pan, where it sizzled until a certain someone demanded I play ice cream shop. Kathy floated in, and when I returned, pretend-bloated with ten pretend cones’ worth, the stew was bubbling, ready for clams. When I held the long, steel handle of the pan, just to give the tomatoes a quick shake before adding the wine, the handle was still warm—not from the heating element, but from human touch.

Here’s something you might not know about me: I don’t often cook with other people. I like it well enough, but with the exception of my younger sister, who’s turning into a pretty clutch cook herself, my Seattle tribe consist of people who eat, but who don’t necessarily cook. And so often for me, being in the kitchen means a frazzled dance of stirring and writing and timing and judging, rather than just plain cooking. That warm pan handle reminded me how much enjoying cooking, for me, revolves around touch, instead of just taste.

In the end, the stew was good not just because the chorizo, from Seattle’s Rain Shadow Meats, seemed to have exactly the right amount of pimenton, or because the little Manila clams were gorgeous, or because I added the right amount of parsley. It was good because it made me remember that more than any book, or my upbringing, or even culinary school, Kathy’s two hands—the ones that had picked up cooking just where I’d left off, so seamlessly, mid-stew—are the hands that taught me to cook.

Clams with Chorizo and Chickpeas 2

Clams with Chorizo, Chickpeas, and Parsley (PDF)
It’s a simple enough dish to make, but loaded into bowls and served with good, crusty bread, this meal has the ability to transport—to Spain, for starters, with that smoky pimentón flavor, and then to the sea, because when the clams cook in tomatoes and wine, they release their briny juices right into the dish’s liquid. If you want this to be more of a stew, add eight ounces of clam juice along with the wine.

Look for pimentón de la vera in the spice section of a large grocery store, or online. Do not substitute regular paprika.

Time: 30 minutes active time
Serves: 2, or 4 with a hearty salad

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 pound chorizo, casings removed, broken into bite-sized pieces
1 medium leek, chopped (white and light green parts only)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon pimentón de la vera (high-quality smoky Spanish paprika)
1 cup dry white wine
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 pound clean Manila clams
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

Heat a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then the chorizo, and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring just once or twice, or until the chorizo is partly cooked but loose on the pan. Add the leek and garlic (and a swirl of additional olive oil, if the pan is still dry), and cook another 5 minutes, until the leek is soft. Stir in salt and pepper to taste and the pimentón de la vera. Add the tomatoes and wine, and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.

Add the chickpeas and clams, cover the pan, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until all the clams have opened. (Discard any unopened clams.) Stir in the parsley, season to taste, and serve piping hot, with crusty bread for dipping or over soft polenta.

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Filed under egg-free, gluten-free, kitchen adventure, Lunch, pork, recipe, shellfish, soy-free

Is there an allergy test for that?

Millet-Pecan Carnival Cookies 2

Here’s how you make chocolate chip cookies: you beat the butter and sugar into a fluffy little frenzy, possibly forgetting about them both while you answer an email. You crack two eggs in, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each one, then swear at yourself for a) always throwing the vanilla into the baking drawer upside-down, since this time it leaked, and b) spacing out on the computer instead of blending the dry ingredients, because now you need them. You whisk flour—or flours, if you’re me, because I love the chew of chocolate chip cookies made with a mixture of bread and whole wheat pastry flours—with salt and some sort of leavening and perhaps a bit of spice, dump it all into the mixer, and stir. Then there are the add-ins—chocolate (always), oats (more often than not), dried fruit (sour cherries, please, never raisins), and toasted coconut. These are my favorite cookies.

That’s what I used to think. That’s what I thought until I morphed into one of those people who may or may not be allergic to certain things. (The horror.) That’s what I thought until today, in fact, when I decided that rather than substituting various things into my standard chocolate-chunk cookies—ground flax for the eggs, new flours for all-purpose, and the like—I need to research my standard definition of “cookie.”

I didn’t have to go much farther than Super Natural Every Day, Heidi Swanson’s newest cooking bible. I’ve liked Heidi’s recipes in the past because they’re fresh and creative, but in the last six months—yes, it’s been that long since I cut out gluten, eggs, and soy—her books have provided constant inspiration when I’m trying to find a path out of the way I used to cook (or at least from empty kitchen to warm dessert). She cooks things that are instantly familiar, even if you’ve never tasted anything remotely similar. She uses unique ingredients without making them seem like substitutions. And in my experience, every recipe works every time. Case in point: chocolate chip cookies.

Millet-Pecan Carnival Cookies batter

Heidi calls these “Carnival Cookies.” It’s fitting, given the original combination of peanuts, popcorn, and chocolate chips, but for me, the name is more about the fun. Stirring up something called a cookie without going through the normal cookie motions—for one, these don’t require a mixer, or even sugar—was somehow liberating, allergies be damned. Substituting a big handful of millet for some of the oats, and pecans for the peanuts, was easy enough, and made these safe for my father-in-law, who’s allergic to peanuts. They’ll work for my friend’s hypersensitive son. And they’ll work for me, because if I’m allergic to anything in this world, it’s a week without a great cookie.

Millet-Pecan Carnival Cookies 3

Millet-Pecan Carnival Cookies (PDF)
Changed only slightly from Heidi Swanson’s recipe for Carnival Cookies in her latest book, Super Natural Every Day (Ten Speed, 2011), these cookies are a blast. Between crunchy millet, swaths of chocolate, and little popcorn grenades, they’re far more interesting in the mouth than your average chocolate chip cookie—and appropriate for many with dietary restrictions.

Active time: 20 minutes
Makes about 24 cookies

1 1/2 cups well-mashed bananas (about 3 large)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup barely warmed (not solid) extra-virgin coconut oil
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup raw millet
1/2 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups popped corn

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the bananas, vanilla, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the oats, millet, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the pecans, then the chocolate chips, and finally the popped corn. (It won’t look like normal cookie dough.) Shape the dough into 1-inch balls with your hands, packing the dough firmly together. Place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, and press each ball down a bit with the palm of your hand, so each mound of dough is about 1/2-inch tall.

Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, or until the bottoms of the cookies are a deep golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool completely, directly on the baking sheets.

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Filed under Cookies, egg-free, gluten-free

No screaming. Just ice cream.

Honey-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Caramel 4

I didn’t scream when she told me. I didn’t even cry. I just put my fingers on the paper next to hers, and repeated what she’d just said: “Gluten, eggs, and soy.” Compared to the previous six weeks, those three foods seemed easy enough to avoid. After all, I’d be able to eat cheese, and fruit, and rice, and ohgoodlord, I might once again drink coffee. Slowly, I’ll be able to reintroduce things like beef, pork, chocolate, and corn . . . people, things are looking up.

It’s been two weeks now since my ayurvedic practitioner told me about my new allergies. Are they real allergies? I can’t be certain. I’ve spoken with a rheumatologist, a nephrologist, an acupuncturist, and numerous doctor pals about the results, and no one agrees what method of allergy testing is most reliable. But I do know one thing: avoiding them is worth a try. So for the past two weeks, I’ve been hitching up my britches and eating differently.

I’m not sure I’d have been quite so accepting if someone told me I was allergic to dairy. That might have killed me. But the day I came home from that appointment, when someone told me I’d need to change the way I eat not just for a few weeks, but for a lifetime, I plunked myself down on one of our tall wicker stools and started attacking a two-pound block of cheddar cheese. I didn’t care that the cutting board was a little dirty, or that the paring knife I’d grabbed haphazardly was so small that its hilt smeared through the cheese, leaving waxy streaks on my index finger’s middle knuckle. I took three jagged slices onto the porch, turned my face to the sun, and ate.

And since then, despite a trip that solidified my fear that in the future, it will be markedly less delicious to travel if I can’t be in charge of my own eating decisions (let’s just say luxury doesn’t always equal gustatory indulgence), I’ve been excited. I’ve been excited because there’s a possibility that I’ve hit on something that could make me healthier in the long term, and because I’ve tried new-to-me (and suddenly favorite) foods like socca, and because although I never knew it before, I’ve learned that ice cream can taste really, really good without eggs.

Last week, on my way to The Greenbrier Symposium for Professional Food Writers, in West Virginia, I made a pit stop in Columbus, Ohio. No lies, now; I wasn’t any more thrilled to land at CMH than you might be. But people, I’m telling you, there is an ice cream revolution there that I’d somehow missed. I knew folks had been swooning over Jeni Britton Bauer’s ice cream cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home but a) I didn’t know she was from Columbus and b) I didn’t know she skips the eggs, relying instead on a joint process involving reducing cream and adding a bit of cream cheese to produce sensationally silky, rich ice cream.

But Faith told me all this. (Thank goodness for Faith.) And the moment she was done feeding me Vij’s mustard seed-spiked cabbage and tender grilled chicken thighs and socca (there it is again!) smeared with goat cheese, she whisked me to her favorite Jeni’s location, where I melted under the pleasure of my first dessert in six weeks.

I ordered the book, of course. It hasn’t come yet, and I’m not a terribly patient person. So yesterday, I swirled up my own version—a cinnamon- and honey-spiked combination of Greek yogurt, reduced heavy cream, and cream cheese. It tastes like a batch of cream cheese frosting might taste if it tripped over the cinnamon and felt into a churning batch of rich frozen yogurt. It also tastes to me, in the dying evening light, like this new lifestyle-o-mine could be extremely delicious.

Honey-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Ice Cream 1

Honey-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Ice Cream (PDF)
This sweet treat was inspired by a stop at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio, where owner (and author of the cookbook Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home) Jeni Britton Bauer uses cream cheese to make her ice cream smooth and scoopable. Although hers only have the slightest hint of tang, this version, which is egg-free (like many of hers), puts the cream cheese flavor front and center. Dollop some on top of carrot cake, in place of cream cheese frosting, or on a simple fruit tart, or drizzle it with salted caramel—but know that it’s rich, so a little goes a long way.

Note: The ice cream base must be refrigerated before freezing, so it’s best to make it the night before you plan to serve it.

Time: 20 minutes active time
Makes: 1 scant quart

1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon good-quality honey
1 cup (8 ounces) plain (whole-fat) Greek-style yogurt
1 cup (8 ounces) regular cream cheese
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Cook at a strong simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the cream has reduced by half, to 1 cup. (Watch it closely and adjust the heat to prevent it from bubbling over.) Stir in the honey and set aside.

Whirl together the yogurt, cream cheese, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla in a food processor until smooth. Add the warm honeyed cream, and blend again to combine. Taste for seasoning; add more honey or cinnamon, if desired.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight, or until thoroughly chilled.

The next day, freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-proof container and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours, before serving.

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Filed under dessert, egg-free, gluten-free, lupus, recipe, soy-free