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Roasted Fall Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

Happy Autumnal Equinox!  Farmers markets are loaded with the end-of-summer goodies and the first of the fall vegetables.  I love the earthy tastes of fall/winter squashes, beets, and root vegetables.  To honor the equinox, I made a hearty salad of roasted fall vegetables, corn, beans, and quinoa.  The recipe makes a big batch of salad, probably 8-10 servings as a side or 6 servings as a meal.

Roasted Fall Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

2 cups quinoa, rinsed thoroughly

3 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1 lb, 4 oz butternut squash, cut into 1/2″ dice

4 beets, cut into 1/2″ dice

1 red bell pepper, cut into 3/4″ dice

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 3/4″ dice

2 medium red onions, cut into 1/2″ dice

2 tbsp olive oil

kosher salt and pepper

~1 tbsp rosemary leaves

1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (or 1 can corn)

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp honey mustard

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp thyme leaves

kosher salt and pepper

5 oz. arugula, spinach and radicchio mix (or all arugula)

1.  Preheat oven to 425F.

2.  Prepare quinoa.  Bring vegetable stock and quinoa to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook until stock is absorbed.  Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and steam for 10 minutes.   Spread on cookie sheet to cool.Quinoa

3.  While the quinoa cooks, chop the squash, beets, bell peppers, and onions.  Mix with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary.

Raw veggies

4.  Spread on baking sheet and roast in oven until tender and browned, 30-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on counter.

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5.  While vegetables are cooling, prepare dressing.  Mix together honey mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and thyme.  Slowly blend in olive oil with whisk.  Taste dressing and adjust flavors as desired.

6.  Mix together quinoa, vegetables, chopped parsley, and dressing.  Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend (yes, you can do this in the fridge as well).

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7.  Just before serving, gently mix in arugula mix.  Enjoy!

Roasted fall vegetable and quinoa salad with pork tenderloin steak and broccoli slaw

Roasted fall vegetable and quinoa salad with pork tenderloin steak and broccoli slaw

Birthday Dinner at Chef Tony’s in Bethesda

For those in the DC area or who are planning to visit the DC area, here is the review I wrote for Yelp about my birthday dinner at Chef Tony’s in Bethesda.  In a somewhat uncharacteristic manner, I did not take any photos of the food.

“I first heard about Chef Tony’s in an email about restaurants in Montgomery County that safely serve gluten-free food and I was excited by the prospect of eating there.  My husband and I made reservations for a gluten-free six course tasting menu dinner with paired wines for my birthday (I have celiac disease).  I contacted Chef Tony a few days ahead and confirmed that he could in fact prepare a gluten-free tasting dinner for us, and he eagerly accepted the challenge.

Our first course was roasted carrot soup, which was rich and flavorful, yet light enough for a hot summer evening.  The sweetness of the roasted carrot paired beautifully with flavors of garlic and curry.

Each of the appetizers and entrees was served on a single plate for my husband and I to share at our intimate table-for-two.  Our second course was fresh oysters on the half shell and seafood ceviche.  I had never eaten raw oysters so my husband showed me how to eat them.  The oysters, which were from Pungoteague Creek in Virginia, were mild-flavored and very fresh.  A splash of lemon juice was a perfect complement to the slight saltiness of the oysters.  The seafood ceviche with fresh salsa was a lovely balance of perfectly marinated shrimp, crab, and *white fish of some kind* with a light salsa of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and cilantro.  The oysters and ceviche were perfectly paired with a slightly sweet and refreshing Rose from New York State.

The cheese course was simply amazing.  We tasted three fresh goat cheeses from Cherry Glen Goat Cheese Co. in nearby Boyds, MD.  The cheeses were Ash, Silver (I think), and Chipotle… all were soft creamy cheeses reminiscent of Brie and each had a unique flavor to it.  The cheeses were expertly paired with an off-dry Riesling from New York State.

Our first entree was a Maryland Crab Cake served with roasted fresh sweet corn and garlic sauteed spinach.  The crab cake, which was made from jumbo lump crab meat and a nice blend of seasonings, was lightly griddled.  My husband, who does not have to eat gluten-free, “forced” me to eat most of the crab cake since I love them and most restaurants use bread crumbs or crackers as filler.  Chef Tony’s crab cake has lots of crab and no filler.  :)  The fresh roasted corn was a nice sweet touch and the sauteed spinach added a nice garlicky punch to the dish, which was paired with a slightly oaky NY State Chardonnay.

Our second entree was the Twin Filet Mignon Satay, which Chef Tony served to us with garlic mashed potatoes and a stir-fry of local fresh vegetables.  The beef was beautifully marinated and seasoned, then grilled to perfection.  The flavors were intense and paired magically with a Reserve Malbec from Don Miguel Gascon.  The garlic mashed potatoes were a perfect blend of potato, cream, butter and garlic.  They were even better when mixed with the jus from the beef!

This beautiful dinner ended with Creme Brulee and Chocolate Sin Cake.  The creme brulee was a lovely rich custard with a perfectly topping of caramelized sugar.  The cake was exactly as the name implies… sinful.  Rich dark chocolate flavored with espresso…  surprisingly light given its ingredients.  Both desserts paired well with a second pour of the Reserve Malbec.

What a perfect birthday dinner and a lovely date with my husband!  Chef Tony checked with us during or after every course and even presented a few of the dishes to us.  We talked a bit about the ingredients in nearly every dish and I thanked him profusely for such a wonderful gluten-free meal.  We’ll definitely go back!”

Pesto Chicken Pasta… with a kick

After a busy week of hosting out-of-town guests who have adorable young children, attending an out-of-town conference, and dealing with a crisis at work, my husband and I both needed a day of relaxation.  In our home, this generally means sleeping late, sitting on the couch most of the day, and ordering takeout food for dinner.  We couldn’t decide where we should get dinner when a light bulb went off in my head and I said… “how about pasta with chicken and pesto sauce?”!  I had the ingredients on hand and I was thawing chicken breasts to make a big batch of chicken fajitas, so I “repurposed” some of the chicken for a quick and tasty dinner.  The sauce was a mix of pesto sauce from a jar, muffaletta tapenade, and marinated artichokes with chicken and “Christy’s mirepoix” of garlic, onions, and bell peppers.  I used a muffaletta tapenade that contained some veggies  (bits of carrot, cauliflower, bell peppers) and had some heat in it, both of which contributed nicely to the sauce.  The dish, which I served with a large side salad (and garlic Texas toast for hubby) took less than 30 minutes to prepare.  :)  Buon appetito!

Pesto Chicken Pasta

1/2 lb gluten-free pasta, preferably spirals or macaroni (I used Tinkyada brown rice fusilli)

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1/2 medium sweet bell pepper, diced

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast (I used tenderloin), cut into bite-size pieces

~1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

8 oz. jar basil pesto

1/3 cup muffaletta tapenade, chopped

4 pieces marinated artichoke hearts, diced

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Drain.

2.  While pasta water is heating and pasta is cooking, prepare sauce.  Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium high heat.  Saute garlic, onions, and peppers until soft.  Add chicken and black pepper and saute until just cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

3.  Add pesto, chopped tapenade, artichoke hearts, and red pepper flakes to chicken mixture.  Add ~1/4 cup water to pesto jar, swirl to collect pesto, and add to saute pan.  Mix thoroughly and reduce heat to low.   Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked.

4.  As soon as pasta is drained, add to sauce and gently stir until pasta is coated in sauce.  Serve with shredded parmesan cheese, a Mediterranean side salad, and garlic bread (if desired).  Enjoy!

Pesto Chicken Pasta with a Mediterranean Side Salad and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pesto Chicken Pasta with a Mediterranean Side Salad and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Colcannon Boxties

Boxties are Irish potato pancakes and I love them!  This recipe starts with Colcannon, which is mashed potatoes with cabbage and leeks.  You can easily make the boxties with regular mashed potatoes instead of Colcannon if you prefer.

Colcannon

2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 pound green cabbage, shredded

2 leeks, white and light green parts only, quartered and diced

1 cup half and half

1 stick unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Boil potatoes until they are tender.  Drain.

2.  Cook shredded cabbage in boiling salted water for 15 minutes.  Drain, cool slightly, and chop.

3.  Combine leeks, half and half, and butter in a small saucepan and cook 8-10 minutes.  Alternatively, cook on high power in microwave until butter is melted and leeks are soft (2-3 minutes).

4.  Mix potatoes, leek mixture, salt and pepper.  Mash.  Add cabbage and stir to combine.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 3 cups Colcannon.

Colcannon Boxties

2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled

2 cups Colcannon

4 tbsp gluten-free flour mix

1 cup milk

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

Olive oil or butter for frying

1.  Line a large bowl with a piece of cheesecloth.  Grate the boiling potatoes (uncooked) into the bowl using the large holes of a box grater.  Squeeze the cloth to extract as much of the starchy liquid as possible.  Discard the liquid and return the potatoes to the bowl.  Stir in the mashed potatoes, flour, milk, baking powder, and salt.  Note: you may need less milk and/or more flour to reach the desired consistency.

2.  In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil or melt the butter.  Drop the potato mixture, 1 tablespoonful at a time, into the skillet, being careful not to crowd the pan.  Flatten each cake with a spatula and cook 3 to 4 minues on each side, until lightly browned and crisp.  Transfer the cakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200F oven.  Repeat until you have used all of the potato mixture, adding more oil/butter as necessary.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut Butter Blossoms (or Silver Bells as they’re called in my family) are my favorite Christmas cookies.  How can you go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate?!?!  Last year I adapted my great aunt’s Silver Bells recipe to make it gluten free and the cookies were great  :)

Silver Bells

2 cups gf flour mix*

1-2 tsp. xanthan gum

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 cup shortening

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup white sugar + more for rolling

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

4 tbsp. milk

2 tsp. vanilla

12 oz. package Hershey Kisses, unwrapped

1.  Preheat oven to 350F.

2.  Sift flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt.

3.  Cream together shortening, peanut butter, and sugars.  Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and mix well.

4.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

5.  Refrigerate dough for about one hour.

6.  Shape into balls about the size of walnuts and roll in granulated sugar.  Please about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

7.  Bake about 8 minutes or until cookies just start to crack.  Take out of oven and place a Hershey Kiss in the center of each cookie.  Return to oven for 2 to 5 minutes more until brown.

*The gf flour mix that I use most often for baking is a slight modification of the artisan gluten-free flour mix from “Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking” by Kelli Bronski and Peter Bronski.

For 3 cups gf flour mix

1 1/4 cups white (or brown) rice flour

3/4 cup sweet sorghum flour

2/3 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup potato starch

4 tsp. potato flour

1 tsp. xanthan gum

“Guinness” Beef Stew over Colcannon

When I think of hearty Irish food, dishes like Guinness Stew, Shepherd’s Pie, and Bangers and Mash come to mind.  Shepherd’s Pie is easy to make gluten-free, but the other two require some modifications.  My husband and I were at a beer, wine, and liquor superstore about a month ago and came across a pint of gf Green’s Dubbel Dark Ale.  I was excited because dark gf beers are not very common.  I don’t like the taste of beer at all, but I had been craving Guinness Stew, so we agreed that Dubbel Dark Ale should be a good substitute for Guinness. The recipe is a modification of a recipe in the Irish Pub Cookbook, which I love.  I made the Colcannon, over which I served the stew, from a compilation of recipes.  See my earlier post on gf Irish Soda Bread for the last element of this hearty Irish meal.

 

A few notes:

1.  Irish recipes rarely, if ever, call for garlic.  In my opinion, garlic is an essential ingredient when meat and onions are cooked together.  The traditional recipe does not contain garlic, but I’ve added it here.

2.  I didn’t add either to the pot, but I think that fresh thyme and/or marjoram would be excellent additions to the stew.

 

Stout Beef Stew

2 lbs. good quality beef stew meat, cut into chunks

5 tbsp olive or canola oil

~1/2 cup rice flour

Salt and pepper

4 medium onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 pint gf Green’s Dubbel Dark Ale (or similar dark beer)

2 cups beef broth

5 carrots, chopped

4 parsnips, chopped

2 small turnips, chopped

2 tbsp corn starch in ~1/4 cup cold water

 

1.  Heat~2 tbsp oil over high heat in cast iron Dutch oven.  Season rice flour with salt and pepper.  Dredge half of stew meat with seasoned flour and sear in Dutch oven for ~5 minutes.  Transfer to bowl, heat 2 tbsp oil, and dredge and sear remaining meat.

2.  Remove meat to bowl.  Add 1 tbsp oil to pan and reduce heat to medium.  Add onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Cook  until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

3.  Return stew meat to pan.  Add beer and beef broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook ~75 minutes or until meat is nearly tender.

4.  Increase heat to medium high and add carrots, parsnips and turnips.  Bring to a boil and reduce to low.  Cook 30-40 minutes longer.

5.  If stew needs to be thickened, make a slurry out of corn starch and cold water.  Bring stew back to a boil and mix in the corn starch slurry.  Cook until stew is thickened.  Ladle over colcannon (see below) or mashed potatoes and serve with soda bread.

 

Colcannon

2-3 lbs red skin potatoes, washed and quartered

1/2 lb bacon or ham, diced

1 package shredded cabbage (I used red)

1 red onion, chopped

Salt and pepper

1-2 tbsp butter

1/2-3/4 cup milk

 

1.  Boil potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes.

2.  While potatoes are cooking, saute bacon over medium heat.  When bacon is partially cooked, add onion and cook until bacon and onion are browned.

3.  Add cabbage to bacon and onions.  Cook over medium low heat until cabbage is softened, about 5 minutes.

4.  While cabbage is cooking, drain potatoes and return to pan.  Add butter and milk and mash with a potato masher.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5.  Add bacon-onion-cabbage mixture to mashed potatoes and mix.  Enjoy!

 

 

Mediterranean Salad

Mediterranean Salad

I love salads for lunch (or dinner any time of the year), but especially in the summer when the produce is fresh from the farmer’s market.  Crisp lettuces, firm cucumbers and bell peppers, and perfectly ripe tomatoes are the base for most of my salads.  I always add protein in the form of cheese (feta), beans (garbanzo), and/or marinated chicken for satiety during the long afternoon to come.   Throw in some olives, nuts or seeds for flavor and crunch.  Toss with salad dressing and enjoy!  I’ve been in the mood for chopped salads lately, so here is my “recipe” for Mediterranean Chopped Salad.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

about 4 cups of mixed lettuces (more or less to your taste), chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

~3″ English or American cucumber, chopped

~1/3 cup chopped beefsteak tomato, or grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes cut in half

1/4-1/2 cup roasted vegetables (see previous post)

4-8 Kalamata olives, cut in quarters or halves

~1/4 feta cheese

~1/4 garbanzo beans, drained and washed

2-3 grilled chicken tenders (see below for a simple and tasty marinade for the chicken)

2 tbsp Balsamic vinaigrette (3 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, sea salt, cracked black pepper, Italian seasonings)

Combine vegetables, olives, cheese, beans, and chicken (if using) and mix.  Add salad dressing and toss to combine.  Enjoy!

Marinade for chicken

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or chicken tenders

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice

2-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tbsp Greek oregano

Lots of freshly cracked black pepper

1.  Combine all ingredients except chicken and stir thoroughly.

2.  Add marinade to chicken in a zip-top bag or plastic container.  Marinate at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

3.  Saute or grill over medium high heat until cooked through.  Enjoy!