Alternative Daring Baker Challenge: Gluten-free Vegetarian Homemade Spinach Egg Pasta Recipe in Red Lentil Bolognese Lasagne/ Lasagna

March 29th, 2009 yum Posted in Dairy, Daring Baker, Gluten Free Pasta, Italian, One Dish Meal, Pasta, Spinach, Vegetarian 6 Comments »

gfdlasagna9This month I was delighted when I found that the challenge for Daring Baker was NOT just another sweet cake or high-calorie dessert but instead a lovely and savory one dish meal that I could really sink my teeth into; Spinach pasta lasagna. The original called for a non-vegetarian ragu sauce, but it was easily replaced by one of my favorite delicious vegetarian red-lentil bolognese sauces.

Of course, the original pasta recipe was not gluten-free, but Mary of Beans and Caviar offered a gluten-free version (sans spinach). I tweaked her gluten-free recipe a bit, using a superfine grind of brown rice flour for the corn flour she used as her base, and adding the spinach back in. I was concerned that the original gluten recipe’s suggestion of uncooked spinach might make it difficult to work with the dough, so I looked online for other homemade spinach pasta recipes and found that many called for blanched and pureed spinach. I tried it, and happily, it worked beautifully. I’d never had fresh gluten-free spinach pasta and certainly never made it before, so this recipe was a special treat all around. I did find that the dough was rather sticky and I had to strike a balance between using too much cornstarch and too little. Initially I rolled the dough out on wax paper and found I had to use a sharp knife to separate the pasta from the paper, but later experiments with saran wrap were an improvement and made the knife step largely unnecessary.


It’s just a shame that as usual, despite my enthusiasm, I procrastinated and found myself making the whole recipe, photographing it, and writing this post on the posting deadline. *cough cough* Because I also made a delicious gluten-free vegan version of this recipe, I ended up with enough lasagna for a month- but I have plans to freeze pieces and enjoy it slowly over time- I’m sure I will appreciate this dish all the more when I can take it out of the freezer at whim whenever hunger strikes. This pregnant lady is now thoroughly exhausted after daring-bakering on her feet all day, but I feel a great sense of satisfaction and am thrilled that I’ve got a working recipe for gorgeous, green spinach lasagna pasta.

How to Make Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Homemade Spinach Lasagne from Scratch:

Visit my Gluten-Free VEGAN version of this challenge HERE! (Different pasta recipe, allergy friendly un-cheese recipes etc.- it was even my DH’s favorite over the cheesy one, if you’ll believe it!)
For the record:
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Gluten Free Homemade Spinach Egg Pasta #1
1 c superfine brown rice flour (or other flour of your choice)
3/4 cup cornstarch
scant 1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup potato starch
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
6 eggs
10 oz. or a little more fresh spinach, a little water
3 T olive oil

Lots of cornstarch

Microwave fresh spinach with a little water for about two or three minutes and try to drain water. Then place in food processor and process until spinach is pureed.

Whisk together dry ingredients (brown rice flour through salt) and then add to the food processor with the spinach. Whir together and with processor running, add eggs one by one and finally drizzle in your olive oil.

When a ball of dough forms in your processor, remove and place in a piece of saran wrap, wrapping up into a nice ball. (You may need to use two pieces, placed to form a cross.) Let dough rest for about an hour and then remove one forth of the dough into a smaller ball.

Lay a piece of wax paper and then saran paper on your rolling surface. Sprinkle with lots of cornstarch and then place your dough ball on it. Sprinkle the ball of dough with more cornstarch and cover the dough with another large piece of saran wrap. Roll out dough as thinly as possible into a long strip of pasta and then cut into lasagna sheets. Peel off saran wrap to get sheets of pasta. You can use a sharp knife to separate the pasta from the saran wrap if it helps. (This is especially important if you roll it out on wax paper and not saran wrap.)

You can use immediately in lasagna or boil the pasta for a few minutes and then drain and use.

Gluten Free Dairy Béchamel – Brown Rice Flour White Sauce Recipe #2
2 & 2/3 cup milk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter and 2 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. superfine brown rice flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg
Mix the brown rice flour with 1/2 cup of cold milk. Heat the rest of the milk in a small sauce pan until steaming but do not boil. Add the milk/flour mixture to the steaming milk. Stirring constantly, raise the heat and heat the mixture until thick. Once it is thick, remove it from the heat and add the butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Have the béchamel warm or at room temperature ready to assemble the lasagne. Whisk the sauce occasionally if it becomes stiff or thick.
Worked well, nothing special.
Daring Bakers Lentil Bolognese Sauce Recipe #3
1 onion, chopped
2 whole garlic cloves
2 carrots, coarsely grated
3 tbsp. olive oil
2/3 cup red lentils
1 14 oz. can tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups GF vegetable stock
1 tbsp. fresh marjoram
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Saute onion, garlic, and grated carrot in olive oil in a large dutch oven until it is soft. Add lentils, tomato, tomato paste, stock and seasoning and simmer for 20 minutes until thick and lovely. Taste and season as needed.
Gluten-free Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe from Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)
(Serves 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 to 8 as a main dish)

Preparation Time: 15 minutes to assemble and 40 minutes cooking time

10 quarts (9 litres) salted water
1 recipe Spinach Pasta cut for lasagna (recipe in files)#1
1 recipe Gluten-Free Dairy Bechamel Sauce (recipe in files)#2
1 recipe Vegetarian Red Lentil Bolognese (recipe in files)#3
1 cup (4 ounces/125g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Extra cheese (I used sharp cheddar for topping)

The dough does not need to be precooked before being assembled into the lasagne *but in my opinion it might be nice if it is boiled for a few minutes before baking*.

Working Ahead:
The red lentil bolognese and the béchamel sauce can be made up to three days ahead. The red lentil bolognese can also be frozen for up to one month. The pasta can be rolled out, cut and dried up to 24 hours before cooking. The assembled lasagne can wait at room temperature (20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit) about 1 hour before baking. Do not refrigerate it before baking, as the topping of béchamel and cheese will overcook by the time the center is hot.

Assembling the Ingredients:
Have all the sauces, rewarmed gently over a medium heat, and the pasta at hand. Have a large perforated skimmer and a large bowl of cold water next to the stove. Spread a double thickness of paper towels over a large counter space. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius). Oil or butter a 3 quart (approx 3 litre) shallow baking dish.

Cooking the Pasta:
Bring the salted water to a boil. Drop about four pieces of pasta in the water at a time. Cook about 2 minutes. If you are using dried pasta, cook about 4 minutes, taste, and cook longer if necessary. The pasta will continue cooking during baking, so make sure it is only barely tender. Lift the lasagne from the water with a skimmer, drain, and then slip into the bowl of cold water to stop cooking. When cool, lift out and dry on the paper towels. Repeat until all the pasta is cooked.

Assembling the Lasagne:
*GF NOTE: Before assembly, pour plain water into the pan, enough to form a thin film of water over the bottom. A 9 x 13 inch or 25 x 33 cm pan required almost 1/2 cup (125 mL) of water.*
Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the bolognese. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of the cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese and, if you like, extra cheese.

Baking and Serving the Lasagne:
*GF NOTE: Once the lasagne is assembled, pour a tablespoon or 15 mL of water into each corner of the dish. (I didn’t do this part-Sea)*
Cover the baking dish lightly with foil, taking care not to let it touch the top of the lasagne. Bake 40 minutes, or until almost heated through. Raise temperature to 375 and remove the foil and bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the lasagne rest for about 10 minutes. Then serve. This is not a solid lasagne, but a moist one that slips a bit when it is cut and served.

I think I might try a different kind of cheese instead of parmesan reggiano next time to make a creamier, milder sauce that complimented the red lentil sauce a bit more.
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Daring Baker Challenge: Gluten-Free Flourless Chocolate Valentino Recipe and Indian Badam Cardamon Rose Pistachio Ice Cream

February 28th, 2009 yum Posted in Chocolate, Dairy, Daring Baker, Dessert, Indian, cake, ice cream 33 Comments »

Be still my heart- a naturally gluten-free flourless chocolate cake with only three ingredients!
When I found out that this month’s Daring Baker Challenge was a flourless chocolate cake, I have to admit my first thought was- Not more chocolate! Our five-billion step yule log burned me out on chocolate just a little bit. But then I looked more closely at the recipe. It had three, yes count them, three ingredients and was naturally 100 percent gluten-free. Be still my heart! And another great thing about this recipe is I would finally get to use up those (high quality) chocolate chips I’d been stockpiling thanks to ye old pregnancy cravings. We had made plans for a cozy Lost viewing party with friends including a certain chocoholic and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to whip up a little flourless chocolate cake and not have to eat it all myself! For the challenge, we were required to make the flourless chocolate cake but to make it a little more interesting, we also were supposed to make an ice cream recipe. I went with the straight-forward chocolate cake recipe because it sounded perfect just as it was, but I wanted to have a bit more fun playing with flavors for the ice cream. Luckily I’d recently been chatting with my chocoholic friend about an Indian milk-nut beverage called badam, often flavored with cardamom and rose water. I couldn’t imagine anything lovelier than pistachio-cardamom-rose ice cream to accompany a rich, dark flourless chocolate cake, and so a Daring Baker entry was born.

How was it? We all unanimously loved the taste of the flourless chocolate cake. I decided to make it as a small cupcake, a mini cake round, and as a large cake- with the result that each of these cakes was on the petite side. I loved being able to cut the large cake into either large, generous cake servings for friends or miniature fudge-type style servings for my personal chocolate needs. The cupcake was delightfully fluffy and (if it lasts that long) ideal for wrapping in plastic wrap and freezing for an emergency chocolate fix. I enjoyed the Badam ice cream, as did the DH, but perversely I wanted to try it as a hot beverage with lowfat milk. I know, I’m so difficult. However, the ice cream complimented the cake beautifully and was certainly a protein powerhouse with all the nuts, eggs, and dairy. (All of this is calorie-free, don’t you know…)

For the record:
The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Check out my other completed Daring Baker Challenges:
GF Lemon Vanilla Tuiles with Vanilla Custard
GF Yule Log
GF Vegan Pizza
GF Eclairs
GF Danish
GF DF Cheesecake Pops
GF Vegan Party Cake

Daring Bakers Valentino Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe
Dessert  Dairy  French  
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate chips combined with bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.
February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan
Indian Badam Milk Ice Cream Recipe
Dessert  Dairy  Indian  
1 1/4 cups 2% Milk
1 tsp cardamom seeds
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/4 cups Heavy Cream
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pistachios
2 to 3 tsp. rose water
1. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the cardamom and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Strain out cardamon and bring the milk back to the boil.
2. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy.
3. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Grind your nuts to a paste with a little milk and add to the warm milk with the rose water. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time
4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.
5. By Using and Ice Cream Maker: *Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker). You will probably need to put in the freezer to firm up for a few hours after churning, unless you have a better ice cream maker than mine.
*If I were to make this again, i would try adding the nut paste LATER, possibly either to the cream at the end OR at the last 5 minutes of stirring in the ice cream maker.

Also, I like the flavors, but the milk was a bit rich for me. I was afraid a lower fat milk would result in icy ice cream, but think I’d try it next time..

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