Cardamom & Saffron Cake

Cardamom Saffron Cake 01For many the beginning of Spring means Easter eggs and flowers, or later sunsets.  For me it means these things too, but mostly it means sweet Persian cookies, getting ready for the new year, cooking with my family, and carrying on old traditions.  The first day of Spring is also Persian New Year, or Nowrooz (no-rooz).  In our house Nowrooz is right up there with Christmas!

The week before Nowrooz is spent preparing a traditional spread of symbolic items and spring cleaning of course.  Sweets also play a big part because we believe that if you start the New Year off sweet then the rest of the year will be sweet as well.  Who knows if that’s the case or not, but I’m not about to argue a tradition that says you need to have trays of sweets in your house!  Especially since many Persian cookies are made with rice flour or ground nuts, so they are gluten free without having to change anything.

This year we all got together at my cousin’s place and I wanted to take something a little different.  She asked me to bring dessert, but I knew she would already have all of the usual suspects on hand.  In my search for a cake with some eastern flavors, I came across something called a Persian Love Cake.  There are rumors as to why it’s called that but with flavors like cardamom, saffron, and rose water I’m in love already!

Of course the recipe needed to be tweaked a bit to make it gluten free.  I changed up the whipped cream filling as well, using cane sugar in the place of powdered sugar so it wasn’t really a frosting.  The result was amazing!  It reminded me a lot of a Victoria Cream Cake.  The cake was spongy and delicate and the flavor of the whipped cream was beyond heavenly.

It received great reviews from the family, and I will definitely be making this again soon!

 

Ingredients

1 cup, less 2 Tbs GF flour

2 Tbs potato starch

1/2 cup organic cane sugar

1/4 tsp xanthan gum

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cardamom seeds

3 eggs, seperated

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup vegetable oil

6 Tbs water

 

Saffron Whipped cream

16 oz heavy whipping cream

3 or 4 strands saffron

1 Tbs rose water

1/4 cup organic cane sugar

 

Method

Preheat oven to 325* F.  Grease two 8 inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Grease the parchment paper as well.

In a small mixing bowl whisk egg yolks, vanilla, cardamom seeds, and water together.  Take a 1 cup measuring scoop and place 2 Tbs potato starch in the cup.  Fill the rest of the cup with all purpose GF flour to make one full cup.  In a large mixing bowl blend that 1 cup of flour with the baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar.  Add in whisked egg yolk mixture and mix together.

In the bowl of your mixer beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Slowly add 1/4 cup sugar to the egg whites, continuing to beat them at high speed.  It should get really fluffy after a few minutes.  Then gently fold the egg whites into the flour mixture.  Once its all combined, pour half into one prepared pan and the rest into the other.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  When ready, place pans on cooking rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes.  Then wrap in plastic wrap and keep in fridge or at room temperature.  I assembled my cake the same day, but you can definitely make it ahead and assemble the next day.

For the whipped cream, pour half a cup into a small saucepan with 3 to 4 strands of saffron.  Make sure to put the rest of the whipping cream back into the fridge.  I usually ground all of my saffron for cooking so I used the smallest pinch.  Saffron is pretty potent stuff!  Heat on low to medium heat just until it starts to simmer.  Remove from heat and let sit for about 20 minutes then refrigerate until cold.  When the saffron whipped cream mix is ready, whip the remainder of the whipping cream and the rose water in a mixer at high speed, adding in the sugar and continuing to whip until it’s light and fluffy.  Strain in the saffron whipping cream and whisk on high speed just until blended.  If you used ground saffron, there’s no need to strain it.

Place one cake layer in a serving plate, flat side down.  Spread about 3/4 of the whipped cream on top of the first cake layer.  Put the second layer of cake on top of the whipped cream, flat side up.  This helps the cake look more even.  Spread the rest of the whipped cream over the top of the cake and sprinkle some slivered pistachios on top.  After having this cardamom saffron cake, I think berries or cherries would make a great topping as well.  Pour yourself a nice cup of tea and enjoy!

 

 

 

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Brussels & Bacon

Brussels n Bacon 03

Brussels n Bacon 03

Yes, by brussels I definitely mean brussel sprouts!  I understand that they have a bad reputation, but with the right flavors they are really yummy!  They have actually managed to make it to my list of favorite veggies.

It all started around Thanksgiving.  I wanted to make some paleo friendly sides so my sister wouldn’t starve and all.  She’s doesn’t like turkey much so the sides are the only thing she eats.  I’ve been making gluten free stuffing for years now, but I needed some extras.

I threw this together and had no idea that it’s something she eats all the time!  Since then, brussels and bacon have been making a regular appearance in my kitchen as well.  Sometimes I top them with cranberries or pecans.  Tonight I had a heaping bowl just the way you see them in the picture.  Crispy turkey bacon, garlic, and seared brussel sprouts!

I’ve made them for friends several times now and even those who are a little skeptical of brussel sprouts, seem to like them. They’ve been served up alongside sausages, a grilled london broil, chicken, and enjoyed a la carte.  I think most omnivores will try anything involving bacon!

 

Ingredients

2 Tbs veg oil

1 lb brussel sprouts, cut in half

1 clove garlic, diced

3 slices uncured turkey bacon, diced

salt

pepper

 

Method

Cut each brussel sprout in half.  Heat 2 Tbs vegetable oil in a large pan on medium/high heat.  Place brussel sprouts in the pan with the flat side of each piece facing down.  Let cook for about 5 minutes or until the brussels look roasted, then flip them and cook another 5 minutes.


Brussels n Bacon 01                                          Brussels n Bacon 02                  

Add turkey bacon, garlic, and a dash of salt and pepper.  Let cook, stirring occasionally until the bacon is cooked.  Usually about 5 minutes is plenty.  Once the bacon is cooked, brussels bacon, it’s good to go!

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Korean Style Glass Noodles (JapChae)

Glass Noodles 04

Glass Noodles 03I love Korean food!  Thanks to my Junior High and High School besties, I’ve been hooked on Korean, Vietnamese, and Filipino food for a long time.  Anything with eggs and soy sauce in the recipe just makes my mouth water!

I usually stick to rice because of the gluten issue, but I recently discovered that Korean glass noodles (japchae) are made from sweet potato starch.  Does that mean that they are gluten free?? Yup, it sure does!!

We go out for Korean food on a fairly regular basis, and I’ve been meaning to try some recipes at home since we all love it so much.  I stopped in at the Korean store the other day to pick up some snacks my girls like, and I just happened to pass through the noodle aisle.  I was looking for Soba noodles, but found the glass noodles instead.  That is fine by me because I love these too!  My girls love Korean bbq, but I was a little surprised to see them devour this!  They both had seconds.

It took a minute to get the right flavor in the sauce for the noodles, but I think I got it.  Japchae usually has a hint of sweetness in addition to a light soy sauce flavor.  You can really top it with anything you like.  I saw some recipes that added sauteed onions and bell peppers, but I stuck to what we like.  There are also eggs and steak in this recipe, but you can definitely omit those to make it vegan friendly.

**If for some reason your body does not like soy.  Coconut aminos makes a great substitute for soy sauce.  If you go that route, leave out the honey in the sauce since coconut aminos is a little sweet.

 

Ingredients

6 cups water

1/4 of a 17oz package of glass noodles

1 cup sliced carrots

4 shitake mushrooms, sliced

2 cups baby spinach

1 egg

1 lb top sirloin steak or rib-eye, sliced into strips

2

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 Tbs GF soy sauce

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

salt

pepper

 

For the Noodle Sauce

1 clove garlic, crushed

4 Tbs GF soy sauce

1 Tbs Sesame oil

1 1/2 Tbs honey

salt and pepper to taste

 

Method

Mix 1 clove crushed garlic, 1 Tbs GF soy sauce, 1 tsp vinegar, 1 tsp sesame oil, and a dash of salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl.  Add sliced beef to the bowl and mix in with the marinade.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge while you prep the rest of the meal.

Glass Noodles 01

Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot.  While the water is heating you can start cutting all the veggies, unless you are super organized and have them all ready to go.  In which case, I applaud you!

Once the water comes to a boil, add a little salt to the water and throw in the noodles.  Cook the noodles on medium/high heat for 6 to 8 minutes.  They will be clear and soft, not too rubbery.  Once cooked, rinse noodles with cold water in a strainer.

While the noodles are cooking heat 1 tsp veg oil in a medium sized pan on medium heat.  Add the mushrooms, carrots, and spinach to the pan.  Saute the veggies, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes or until the carrots have lost a bit of their crunch. Reduce heat to medium/low. Prepare the noodle sauce by placing all of the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and whisking it together.  Pour the noodles and noodle sauce on top of the veggies and toss together until the noodles are covered with the sauce and have turned a darker color.  Lower heat to lowest setting to keep the noodles warm until they are served.

Glass Noodles 02

Beat the egg in a small bowl and fry it in a pan omelet style.  Just let it cook into one flat piece.  Flip to cook the other side. Remove the egg from heat and cut into strips.

Remove meat from the fridge and you can place it in the same pan you just cooked the egg in.  Cook on medium heat until both sides of each strip are cooked.  About 5 min.

Remove noodles from heat and serve!  Put the noodle and veggie mix in the bowl first and top with the egg slices and meat.  I doused mine with Sriracha because I like my Korean food with some heat!  Next time I’ll definitely be picking up some Kimchi before I make this.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lentil Rice

lentil rice 02Sweet raisins, lentils, sauteed onions, and a hint of cinnamon.  Your taste buds will be begging for more!

Lentil Rice (aka Adas Polo), is a traditional Iranian dish.  Usually served with chicken or some type of meat on the side.  I like it just the way it is!  The lentils offer enough protein so meat really isn’t necessary, and the sauteed raisins and onions add the perfect amount of flavor.

Of course, making this dish is supposed to be a much longer process, but I ain’t got time for that!  The way I make it may be slightly less traditional but it takes half the time so I don’t feel guilty about it.  This recipe is for 3 to 4 people, but can easily be doubled if you need more.  You can also use currants instead of raisins.  They are smaller than raisins and give the dish a more delicate look.

 

Ingredients

1 cup Basmati rice

1/2 cup green lentils (I buy the ones labeled “fancy lentils”.  They’re smaller and look a little nicer)

2 cups water

2 tsp salt

3 Tbs and 2 tsp veg oil

1 Tbs butter

1/2 raisins

1 large onion, sliced

1/2 tsp cinnamon

 

Method

Rinse lentils and place in a pot with 1 cup water.  Heat until the water begins to boil.  Let it boil for a few minutes, then remove the lentils from heat and drain.  Place rice in a bowl and rinse and drain 3 times with room temperature water.  Place the rice, lentils, 2 cups water, salt, and 3 Tbs veg oil in a pot.  Give it a light stir and heat on medium/high heat until it begins to boil.  Once the rice mixture begins to boil, lower the heat to medium/low and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the water is gone and the rice is cooked.  You can take a couple pieces out and try them to see if they’re ready.  Once the water is gone and rice is cooked, place a paper towel over the pot and put the lid on.  This will help absorb the rest of the water from the rice so it doesn’t come out too mushy.  Leave on very low heat for at least 5 min.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan and add the slice onions.  Saute on medium/high heat, stirring occasionally until onions start to turn a golden color.  Remove them from the pan and place to the side. In the same pan, add raisins and butter.  Heat until raisins are warm.  This usually takes 3 to 4 min.  Stir in the cinnamon, sauteed onions, and a dash of salt.  Heat for a couple minutes and its ready to go!

You can serve it individually or family style.  The lentil rice goes first and the raisins and onions get poured on top.  When its just us, I serve it individually because my little one isn’t crazy about the onions.  She loves those raisins though!

 

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Turkey Meatballs

GF Turkey Meatballs

GF Turkey Meatballs 03I have been making these gluten free babies for years!  The whole family loves them, and they make great meatball sandwiches if you have any leftovers.

Up until I was forced not to, I always put breadcrumbs in my meatballs.  I thought they were a necessary binding agent.  Turns out you don’t really need breadcrumbs.  You just need some ground meat, yummy spices, and lots of garlic of course!  I usually make these in pasta sauce, but you can bake them in the oven on their own or cook them in a pan.

These meatballs are phenomenal on a bed of your favorite gluten free pasta!  If you’re not big on pasta, they’re super tasty on their own or topped with some Parmesan cheese.

 

Ingredients

1 lb ground turkey

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, crushed or diced

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 Tbs ketchup

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp sea salt

dash of pepper

 

Method

Put your homemade or store bought marinara sauce in a pot and heat over medium heat.  Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Wash your hands, and get in there.  Blend all the ingredients together.  Once that’s done, roll them into about 2 inch balls and add them to the sauce.  Cook for 20 min.  If your sauce seems a little runny, just turn up the heat and leave a crack open in the lid for 10 min or so.  That way, some of the water will evaporate but the marinara sauce won’t splash everywhere.  If you’re planning on making pasta, you can boil that up while the turkey meatballs are cooking.

GF Turkey Meatballs 02

 

 

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Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken 2

Butter ChickenCan’t make it to your fave Indian restaurant tonight? Try making some deliciously gluten free butter chicken at home!

This recipe is a healthier, less complicated version of butter chicken.  It doesn’t actually have butter in it!  I have substituted the butter and the cream that are usually called for in this dish, but kept all of the aromatic flavors.  Maybe we should change the name too? Nah, it still tastes like butter chicken!

If you’re unfamiliar with Indian cooking, then there is one spice that will sort of stand out in this recipe, the garam masala.  Garam masala is a blend of spices that is used in many Indian dishes.  It can be found at an Indian market and most middle eastern super markets are carrying it now too.  If you enjoy Indian food I highly recommend having some on hand, because you’ll need it.

My husband likes his food on the spicy side, but if you prefer mild then leave out the cayenne pepper.  Serve it up over white or brown rice and enjoy!

 

Ingredients

1 Tbs  and 1 tsp coconut oil

1 lb boneless & skinless chicken thighs, cubed

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 Tbs tomato paste

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup water

1/4 cup yogurt

 

Method

In a pan, heat 1 tsp coconut oil and add chicken.  Cook chicken on medium/high heat until both sides are a golden color.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbs coconut oil in a pot on medium heat.  Stir in diced onions and garlic.  When the onions become transparent, add the tomato paste and spices.  Lower the heat and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes then stir in water, chicken and yogurt.

Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes or until it has thickened and is no longer watery.

 

 

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Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake 02Every so often I get a craving for a Sprinkles red velvet cake with all that fluffy cream cheese frosting!  Sprinkles isn’t exactly around the corner and if they figured it out, then I knew there was hope!

My first attempt was for my sister-in-law’s birthday a couple of years ago.  The texture was great, but it had that gluten free taste to it.  I wasn’t completely satisfied so I tried again, and again, and again!  I was also trying to cut out some of the red food coloring, but it just ends up looking more like pink velvet instead of a red velvet.

The frosting is a basic cream cheese frosting recipe.  We’re all for sweets around here, just not too sweet, so I usually don’t add more powdered sugar to my frosting than needed for flavor. This time I used organic cane sugar, and it actually turned out great.

 

Ingredients

1 1/3 cup all purpose GF flour

3 Tbs cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

** For dairy free use 1/2 cup almond milk and 1tsp vinegar

1 Tbs red food coloring (I buy the one labeled “no taste”)

pinch of salt

 

Method

Before you get started be sure to throw on an apron.  Red velvet is amazing, but we’re talking red food coloring!

Preheat oven to 350* F and grease and flour a round nine inch pan.

In one bowl, sift together the four, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and a pinch of salt.  In the bowl of your mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar.

In a third bowl or in the measuring cup you used for the oil, add the vanilla and red food coloring to the oil.  Stir together lightly until it’s all mixed in together.

Add the buttermilk to the eggs and sugar in your mixer bowl and blend together on low speed.  Add dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time.  Pour in oil mixture, and be sure to stay on low speed so it doesn’t splash everywhere.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 min.  You can do the toothpick check, and if it comes out clean then your cake is done.

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

8 oz Cream Cheese, softened

1/4 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar (I used 1/4 cup organic cane sugar)

 

Method

Blend butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together.  Add powdered sugar.  Fold together with a rubber spatula just two or three times.  This helps blend the powdered sugar a bit so it doesn’t fly all over the kitchen when you’re mixing it in.  Then beat on high until its completely whipped together.  This should only take a few seconds.  Now you’re ready to frost your cake or cupcakes!

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Quinoa Tabouli

Quinoa Tabouli
Quinoa Tabouli

Tabouli is one of my all time favorite salads. It’s an incredibly refreshing Mediterranean side dish.  Of course, it calls for wheat.  Lots and lots of wheat.  Not cool!

Traditionally, the wheat is sort of cooked in lemon juice to soften it.  In this recipe, the quinoa needs to be cooked and cooled before the salad is prepared.  Quinoa also has a similar texture to wheat bulghar, so it makes a nice alternative.  That way I can still enjoy the tomatoes, cucumbers, and lemony goodness that is Quinoa Tabouli!

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup diced cucumbers

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup diced green onions

1 1/2 cups minced parsley

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

 

Method

Put all ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Toss all ingredients together and try not to eat the whole bowl. I almost did!

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Spinach Yogurt Curry

Spinach yogurt curry

Spinach yogurt curryMonday has always been a veg day in our house.  Out of respect for my Mother-in-Law’s beliefs, ever since I married my husband Monday was dubbed “Veggie Monday”.  It was really the only thing that wonderful woman ever asked of me!

At first it was a little hard for me to come up with vegetarian recipes that we both liked, and then the kids came along and it became even more difficult!  I came across this dish about 6 years ago.  I love yogurt, so I thought I’d give it a try.  I have made it many times since then.  It’s also gluten free on its own, so I didn’t need to substitute any of the main ingredients.

From what I know, this is a traditional Maharashtran dish.  Per wikipedia, Maharashtra is a state in the western region of India.  The curry is served over piping hot rice and mixed together in each plate individually.  It is a simply delicious dish that also has some protein, thanks to the spinach!

 

Ingredients

6 oz spinach

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 cup plain yogurt

3/4 cup water

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 bay leaf

1 Tbs butter

vegetable oil

salt

cayenne pepper

 

Method

Heat a little oil in a medium pan.  Add cumin seeds and spinach.  Cook over low heat until spinach is cooked, about 4 to 5 min.  Place spinach, yogurt, and water in a blender or food processor.  I use the Nutribullet.  Blend ingredients together until liquefied.  Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste and place in a serving bowl.

Heat butter in a small pan.  Once butter is melted add the mustard seeds and one bay leaf.  The mustard seeds may pop when heated. Keep on low heat for just a minute, then turn heat off and let the butter just soak in the flavors.

Pour butter and mustard seeds on top of the spinach yogurt curry.  The bay leaf is mainly for flavor, so it can be left in the pan.  Serve with basmati rice, or your rice of choice.

 

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake 06 In honor of cupid, I decided to make this divine dessert.  It is the first gluten free chocolate cake I ever attempted and has been a favorite ever since.  Rich, moist, and packed with chocolate!  This recipe is great for cupcakes too.

Many restaurants have flourless chocolate cake on the menu.  Some serve it with a berry reduction or ice cream.  Today I made a strawberry reduction to accompany this chocolaty delight.  Raspberries also pair very well with this cake because of their tart flavor. It’s basically pure chocolate on a plate.  Sign me up please!

 

Ingredients

5 eggs

18 oz dark chocolate baking chips (about 1 1/2 12 oz bags)

1 1/4 sticks butter

Salt

 

Method

Very lightly grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Pour all 5 eggs into mixer and add a pinch of salt.  Whip on high speed until eggs have become very fluffy (see picture).  This could take 5 to 8 minutes.

Flourless chocolate cake 02

Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Cut butter into 1 inch chunks and put them in the same bowl with the chocolate chips.  Microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until the chocolate chips have started melting.  Careful not to overheat.  Slowly blend chocolate chips and melted butter together with a rubber spatula.  Then fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs until it’s all blended together.

flourless chocolate cake 01

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 375*F for 25 minutes.  Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

 

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