Snow Day Kitchen Experiments: Quiche with Cauliflower Crust

snow

I must admit that I am really tired of winter and snow.  However, having a snow day does give me time to be in the kitchen and make delicious food for my family.  Anita called me yesterday morning and said, “What are you cooking?”  It took me off guard because I didn’t think I was making any noise when I picked up the phone. I said, “why do you think that I am cooking?”  She said, “because what else would you be doing on a day like today!”  I guess she really does know me.  Sisters!  So, yes, yesterday I spent the morning in the kitchen, that is after I spent time shoveling!  I never plan for what I am going to cook, it is more likely that I open my refrigerator, see what is in there, and then decide.  There was a beautiful cauliflower staring me in the face when I opened the refrigerator door, so I was inspired to try a recipe that I have seen floating around – quiche made with a cauliflower crust.  I love to make quiche ever since I got back from living in France.  Honestly it is more like a vegetable tart than a true quiche, but I find them easy to make and nice to have around for a breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The other thing that I must admit is that I have a difficult time following a recipe.  I will often look at the recipe and follow some or most of it, but generally I am always thinking, even before I make a recipe for the first time, how I can change it.  So the cauliflower crust was no different.  The recipe called for placing the cauliflower in a food processor, pulsing it until it resembled a fine crumb, then cooking it, and finally squeezing out all of the water so that it would resemble flour.  So as long as I am confessing things, I will also say that I am often looking for shortcuts.  These directions just seemed too labor intensive, so I changed them.

cauliflower

The crust

I used a medium sized head of cauliflower and pulsed it in my food processor until it resembled course crumbs.  Here is where I deviated the recipe.  I did not want to cook the cauliflower with water only to squeeze it out again, so I sprayed a shallow tray with olive oil and roasted the cauliflower at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, until they were slightly browned and soft.

crust

I placed the crumbs back in the food processor without squeezing out any water, because they were pretty dry from the roasting, added an egg and some salt and spices and turned it on to mix everything together.

crust1

I sprayed my pie plate with olive oil and pressed the crust into the pan.

crust2

I decided to precook the crust so that it would not be too soft when I added the vegetables and the eggs. I put it back in the 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes.

crust31

You can see that it was just slightly browned.  While the crust was cooking, I started to cook my vegetables.  My favorite quiche is leek and onion.  However, yesterday I only had one leek so I added asparagus as well.  Basically I chop my vegetables and cook them in a pan with olive oil until they are soft.  I usually lightly salt them as they are cooking.  When they are cooked I place them in the crust.

quiche

I usually fill the crust almost to the top with vegetables.  I will then add 4-5 eggs depending upon how many vegetables are in the crust.  If it is filled to the top, I will only use 4 eggs.  I did not have as many vegetables in this crust, so I used 5 eggs.  I beat the eggs and added some non-dairy milk with salt and herbs.  My secret ingredient is Herbamare.  It is a salt substitute that I think makes all the difference. I often add a non-dairy cheese but I did not have any yesterday so it was just plain vegetables.

quiche21

I put the quiche back in the oven at 375 degrees F and cooked it until it was brown on top and it puffed up in the middle.  It could take 30-40 minutes.  My quiches are not an exact science but that’s what makes them easy.  You can add any vegetables, any meat, any cheese, you can be as creative as you want, and they will still be delicious!

quiceh4

The edges on the quiche were a little darker than I normally would like but they were not burnt so I was fine.  It is best to let the quiche cool down slightly before you serve it.  It will collapse down, that is normal.  Cut and serve with a salad and you have a great dinner.  Tomorrow morning you have breakfast and the next day you have lunch.  Enjoy!

slice

 

Kitchen Experiments – Pancakes anyone?

I must say that being grain free has presented a challenge for breakfast if you are thinking about typical breakfast foods.  Most mornings when I am ready for breakfast I end up staring at the refrigerator thinking about what I can eat. Cereal? Out! Rice cake with nut butter? Out! Oatmeal? Out!  Oh boy!  What else is there? Hmm, how about pancakes?  No, not your typical pancake made with flour but pancakes made with nut flour!  Oh yes!  Thank goodness!  I love soup and I can eat it anytime of day all year round, but sometimes you just want something else.  It’s actually pretty amazing all of the things that you can make with nut flour.  The only stipulation is that most recipes call for eggs and lots of them!  As you might imagine, nut flours are a lot heavier than grain flours and therefore need something to give them a little lift.  I have made pancakes with and without eggs and while both of them are good, the egg free pancakes are just a tad denser than the ones made with eggs.  My new favorite egg replacement is 2 tablespoons chia seeds soaked in 3 tablespoons of water.  That equals one egg.

Keep checking back for more grain free recipes because I found a delicious carrot cake recipe made with almond flour that I would love to share with you.  It made the perfect birthday cake for Anita!

pancakes

Hazelnut Flour Pancakes

1 1/2 cups hazelnut flour (I made my own in my vitamix but you can use the nut flour variety of your choice)

1 tsp. arrowroot flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 eggs

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

1 tsp. vanilla

  • In a small bowl, mix applesauce, non-dairy milk, vanilla and eggs and set aside.
  • Mix hazelnut flour, arrowroot, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a separate bowl.  Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.  Mix together.
  • Heat a large skillet on medium-low heat.  Lightly coat with cooking spray or oil of your choice. Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter into pan and spread out slightly for each pancake.  Cook pancakes 3-4 minutes, until bottoms have browned, then flip and cook 1-3 minutes more.  (Note: Do not wait for bubbles to appear on top of the pancake like you do when cooking regular pancakes.)
  • Spray the pan again and repeat with remaining batter.  Top with your favorite fruit, nuts and syrup and enjoy!

 

Kitchen Experiment – Lentil Loaf with Zucchini Latkes

I love it when you forget about something that you used to cook all the time and it suddenly pops into your head again! That is what happened the other night. We are still doing a 4 day rotation for the ALCAT diet and it was lentil night. Suddenly, lentil loaf popped into my head! I used to make it all of the time and it works for day 2 of my rotation. It is so easy to make and you can vary it depending upon which vegetables you have on hand. On our diet, day 2 is celery, scallions, and beet greens – so that is what I used. Prior to the diet I may have added onions or carrots and often spinach. I am not good at measuring so it is a recipe that you just have to eye. I used 1 cup of dry lentils and cooked them with 2 cups of water, oregano and a bay leaf. I often would could the vegetables right in with the lentils but I was running behind so I quickly threw the lentils in the pot and while they were cooking, sautéed the scallions, celery and beet greens in a separate pan. Once the lentils were cooked, I combined the lentils and vegetables in a large bowl and added rolled oats, 2 eggs, grated almond cheese and salt and pepper. I mix it all together and cooked it in my cast iron skillet. Usually, as the name implies, I would have cooked it in a bread pan, but I was in a rush and wanted it to cook a little faster. I placed it in a preheated 375 degree oven and baked it for about 30 minutes. In a loaf pan it probably would have taken about 45 minutes.

While that was cooking in the oven, I moved onto the zucchini latkes. I shredded 1 potato and 2 small zucchini and added them to a small colander. I added a little salt and let them sit for about 15 minutes. I squeezed out as much of the liquid as I could and then placed them in a bowl. I added 2 tablespoons of oat flour, 3 tablespoons of oat bran, along with salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and 2 eggs. I mixed it all together and heated my skillet over medium heat. I dropped the batter by the spoonfuls and cooked them for about 8-10 minutes, flipping them after about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, I quickly sautéed some shiitake mushrooms in a pan with some olive oil and added a little tamari for salt. I had a gravy in the freezer that I had defrosted and added to the shiitake mushrooms. And there was dinner!

lentil loaf Lentil Loaf with Shiitake Mushroom Gravy

latkes Zucchini Latkes

lentil and latkesDinner!

It was quite tasty! Until next time … Good Eating!

Kitchen Experiments – Baked Eggplant

Growing up in an Italian household, there were a few things that were a given, like Sunday dinners.  Typically we ate pasta and meatballs, one of my Dad’s favorite meals, which meant Monday school lunches were meatball sandwiches. There were several Italian kids in my class and you didn’t need to look any further than their lunch box to figure out who they were! In the summer time when all of the other neighbors were spraying their lawns trying to get rid of their dandelions, we were outside digging them up for a dandelion salad!

My mom was the main cook in our house and it was not often that she asked for help, but when the electric frying pan came out, you knew that someone was going to be in the kitchen with Mom frying eggplant! It was not one of those tasks like weeding the garden that we all detested because we couldn’t wait to dig in when they were done.  It was like an assembly line – one pie plate filled with flour, one with eggs and the last with Italian breadcrumbs.  When we were young, my Mom always sliced her eggplant in rounds. When we were older, she discovered eggplant rollatini which requires the eggplant to be sliced length wise.  There is nothing as good as a big bowl of sauce with a plate of fried eggplant alongside it.  No pasta required in my mind.  The only problem is that I could eat a whole eggplant all by myself!

It has been 7 months since we started the ALCAT diet, 7 long months without eggplant!  I was moderately sensitive to eggplant which meant I had to avoid it for at least 6 months.  Now that the time was up, I could not wait to make breaded eggplant.  Of course, I had to modify it for my current diet, but that was easy.

I took out my 3 pie plates and put rice flour in the first one, eggs in the second and rice bread crumbs in the 3rd with salt, oregano and basil added to make it more “Italian”. I sliced my eggplant into rounds and then started the dredging process.  A little flour, a little egg and then the breadcrumbs.  I have not fried my eggplant since I was a child.  I place mine on a sprayed baking sheet and then spray the top again before baking them in the oven.  They are crisp and delicious and not at all greasy.

eggplantI usually bake them at 375-400 degrees and turn them at least once. They are easy and delicious to make and oh so good to eat!

eggplant2With a big bowl of homemade sauce of course! Buon appetito!

Kitchen Experiment – Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pecan Bread

Have you ever been really excited to find a recipe that you just knew was going to be delicious? Well, this was one of those recipes. I can never follow a recipe without making some slight changes but since doing the Alcat diet, I have no choice but to make substitutions when needed. The problem of late is that I am often not just making one recipe but several all at once because when I am “in” the kitchen, I am “in” for hours.  So, I had some frozen pumpkin from last fall and decided I should use up.  Here is the recipe that I followed…

1/2 c. non-hydrogenated margarine, Earth Balance or another similar brand

1/2 c. agave nectar

1/4 c. date sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/3 c. pumpkin puree

1 tsp. orange flavor

1 1/2 c. oat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

2 Tbs. arrowroot powder

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. cloves

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. sea salt

3/4 c. pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking pan with non-baking spray.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, agave, date sugar, eggs, pumpkin and orange flavor.

In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, spices, sea salt and pecans.

Fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Transfer mixture to the prepared loaf pan.

Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

So, I followed the directions, made my substitutions, was careful to write down the changes that I made and stuck it in the oven and moved on to the next recipe I was making.  About 10 minutes later, all of a sudden I realized I forgot to add the baking powder!! Oh no, too late to take it out and change it, so I had to just let it cook.  Here it is…

pumpkin oat breadSo, as you can see, it is a little flat!  Oh well, the flavor is delicious!  I can’t wait to make it again with the baking powder!

 

Kitchen Experiments – Easter Bread

Well, it was a busy weekend of cooking and preparing some of the Italian traditional foods that we eat every Easter. It has been my “job” the last several years to make Easter Bread. The traditional recipe uses lots of eggs and candied fruit but most of the family does not like the candied versions so this year I made it using white raisins and dried cranberries. It took forever to rise! You make the bread first and let it rise without fruit. That took about 3 hours. Then you punch it down and knead in the fruit and let it rise again. That took about another 3 hours! Then I punched it down again and placed it in the well-greased pans to rise the third and final time. Maybe the 3 times has something to do with Jesus rising on the 3rd day? Interesting thought.

After the final rise – about another hour, into the hot oven it went! Well, this year was a good one. Check this out!

easter bread

Aren’t they beautiful!  I was so happy they turned out so well.  I was only able to eat a small piece because of the intolerance to wheat, but it was delicious.  I made a gluten-free variety as well, but forgot to take a photo of that bread.  It was pretty tasty as well! Hope you had a good Easter with some delicious food of your own!

Kitchen Experiments – Lentil Loaf with Gravy

Well, it was another day 2 in the ALCAT diet plan and I did not know what to make again.  Some days are harder than others.  While I do eat meat, more than once a week is tough for me.  We had turkey the night before and so I was not in the mood for chicken.  So what to make?  Then it came to me!  I had thought about it a few weeks ago and then forgot again – Lentil Loaf!

I used to make it on occasion and I would use lentils, vegetables, oats, soy or rice cheese, and bind it all together with eggs.  Well, I was in luck because almost all of those things were on my day 2 list.  So, I cooked up my lentils with water and oregano and then I let them cool.  I sautéed scallions, celery and beet greens and then added them to the lentils.  I used some gluten-free oats like I would use breadcrumbs, and then I added some vegan soy cheese mozzarella style and then bound it all up with eggs!  I mixed it until it was all nice and moist and placed it in an 8’x8′ pan and popped it in the oven at 375.   I would often put it in a bread pan but I did not have as much time to let it cook so the 8″x8″ pan allowed it to cook much more quickly. I would say it was cooked in about 35 to 40 minutes.

While it was cooking, I took a little olive oil and put it in a small sauce pan.  I ground up some oats to make oat flour and added that to the pan as well. I cooked it over medium heat just for a minute to make a roux and then slowly added my chicken broth.  I cooked it over medium heat for several minutes until it began to thicken and there I had my chicken gravy!

lentil loafI sliced up some lentil loaf put it on the plate and topped it with the chicken gravy!  I must say it was another delicious meal!  I will remember this one the next time day 2 rolls around and I don’t know what to make!