My Adopted Gluten-Free Blogger- Naomi of Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried

June 6th, 2008 yum Posted in Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger, Blog Event, Fellow Food Bloggers, Gluten Free Blogs, Naomi Devlin, Recipe Review, Sweet Potato Flour 6 Comments »

This month the Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event was hosted by the always helpful Thomas Dzomba at The GF CF Experience. I was momentarily at a loss- which of the fabulous bloggers that have recently come across my radar should I adopt? Gazing at my recently updated list of gluten-free bloggers I happened to spy Naomi Devlin of Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried. Naomi is a force to be reckoned with in the gluten-free blogging community, not only for her incredible recipes, but also for her famous monthly Go Ahead Honey it is Gluten Free Blog Event. Naomi is also a pretty darned cool person all on her own, and is a homeopath across the sea in Bridport, Dorset. Naomi infuses her recipes with healthful ingredients in a creative way, and her blog is fun and interesting to read to boot. The tricky part for me this time was picking just one recipe. Luckily I was immediately inspired when I saw her photo for Sweet Potato Pitta Bread. Something about that orange, fluffy crust adorned with sesame seeds called my name, big time. And just like that, I had picked a recipe.

One slightly tricky thing about Naomi’s blog is that measurements are in ounces, and need to be weighed. Luckily I have a super handy kitchen scale that I picked up at Amazon just for these problems. Also, the recipe called for exotic sweet potato flour- this might seem like another problem except recently I discovered an incredible Korean Market, han kook in Sunnyvale that carried Sweet Potato Powder. This sweet potato powder was mixed with cornstarch, so if you want to buy some make sure you read the label. I don’t know if it is ever mixed with wheat starch, but anything is possible.

So, armed with all the ideal ingredients (except for date sugar), on one quiet weekday afternoon I prepared my ingredients, roasted a sweet potato, and tried Naomi’s tempting recipe.

I skinned and mashed my sweet potato, and as I was sifting the flour over it I started to have a really good feeling about the recipe. Sometimes you can just tell a recipe is well constructed. I got even happier as I mixed the dough. It was pliable and easy to work with, if a little sticky.

I shaped balls of dough:

And then I deviated from Naomi’s instructions a little. I put the ball of dough inside a quart sized ziploc bag:

And pressed it out into a circle by hand. It was so easy!

Without using any flour, the pita circle peeled right off:

I placed the dough circles in a pan:

I let the dough rise for an hour (although it didn’t rise much) and then baked it. The dough smelled and looked good, but unfortunately it didn’t puff for me the way it did for Naomi. I think it’s just one of those subtle things that happens when you get the recipe just-right. Then I split one of the pita to make a super tasty egg salad sandwich with fresh tomatoes and basil for garnish. Mmm… (And yes, tofu egg salad would have been just as good, if not better, but I was out…)

Our verdict?
I really liked the recipe and the balance of flours. The sweet potato added vibrant color, nutrition, and a great texture. Sorghum isn’t my favorite whole grain flour, but it worked here. I think Naomi’s come up with a winner with this recipe! DH liked it, but he didn’t rave. He is notoriously difficult to thrill with bread, though, and remember, he’s a glutenoid.
Any Changes?
If I were to make the recipe again, I think I would increase the yeast, because the pita really didn’t rise much for me. I think that would lighten them a bit and maybe (but not necessarily) make it more likely that they would do that lovely puffy air pocket thing. Many of the recipes that work well for me and are really reliable really amp up the yeast and I’d like to see what would happen here if I did that- I also might not let the dough rest before I rolled it out, or possibly might refrigerate the dough, but that’s crazy talk.
I had fun with this recipe and am so glad this event spurred me to make one of Naomi’s lovely recipes. And now, I really ought to get together an entry for her “go ahead honey” event, hosted this month by Ginger Lemon Girl. If somehow you haven’t seen Naomi’s blog, please go and take a look at her super-fabulous collection of recipes. Toothsome recipes that caught my eye include Poppyseed Cardamon Cake, Carrot Pulp Bread, and Peanut Butter and Coconut Mufins, but I have a feeling this is only the tip of the iceberg.
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Important Event Info:
For those interested, the next Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event will be held between June 23rd- July 7th. If you are interested in hosting, please comment immediately. I had the feeling that someone had asked to host this month, but I can’t track down the comment or email, so please, if that was you, please post a comment here and let me know. If we don’t have any takers, I’ll host this month. Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness will be hosting next month. Participants- you can always check the Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger Headquarters to verify the host(ess) and event dates! Thanks, dahlings! So glad we’ve managed to keep this fun event going!

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Vegan and Gluten Free Ratatouille Recipe

July 30th, 2007 yum Posted in French, Recipe Review, Vegan, Vegetarian 13 Comments »

provrat.jpgYou know, when I was watching it, I never would have guessed that the star recipe of the new foodie movie, Ratatouille, was both vegan and gluten free. It never even occurred to me that it might be, as French restaurants are not generally what I think of when I think of gluten free, vegan cuisine. Imagine my surprise as I read at Becks & Posh that the featured recipe for Ratatouille was both vegan and Gluten Free. When I discovered this, of course I had to make the recipe! I love dishes that “just happen” to be gluten free AND vegan, as they usually end up being DELICIOUS as well. The recipe was created by Thomas Keller, the genius behind French Laundry, and can be found here at the New York Times (with a free login) or at the Lunch Lady’s Blog.

But what is Ratatouille, anyway? According to Stacy Finz of the San Francisco Chronicle,

“Traditionally, ratatouille is a late-summer dish from Provence, incorporating the mainstays of the harvest in that southern French region — tomatoes, eggplant, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and fresh herbs, simmered in local olive oil. In Turkey, cooks prepare imam biyaldi, in which the eggplant acts as a shell to hold the vegetable filling. The name translates as “the cleric swooned” — presumably with pleasure when the dish was served. ” (source: BAY AREA FLAVORS FOOD TALE)

tomatoes.jpgslicedtoms2.jpgThomas Keller’s recipe for Ratatouille is called Confit Byaldi, and has three components- a piperade (an olive oil sautee of onion, sweet bell peppers, and tomatoes), the main vegetable layer, and a vinaigrette. It sounded absolutely lovely, but I felt that it needed a side dish of pilaf or perhaps French Bread to make a complete meal. Therefore I dipped into The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook : 250 No-Fail Recipes for Pilafs, Risottos, Polenta, Chilis, Soups, Porridges, Puddings and More, from Start to Finish in Your Rice Cooker to find a delicious recipe for French Pilaf that I adapted to be vegetarian. Because making Confit Byaldi is a lengthy process (about three hours from start to finish!) I started the piperade before beginning my rice, although I could have just let it sit in the rice cooker. This recipe relies on fresh, seasonal vegetables, and so I harvested some of the first tomatoes from the organic, heirloom tomatoes I’ve been growing on my balcony all summer. I heated olive oil in a pan and sauteed garlic, onions, diced roasted red peppers and tomatoes, letting them caramelize. Next I prepared my vegetables. Fist I tried using a mandoline to thinly slice disks of yellow squash and zucchini, but when I tried to slice my eggplant, it didn’t work well, so I finally dragged out my food processor. When I saw the perfect, beautiful disks it created in seconds, I wished I’d sliced all the vegetables in my food processor. (Note to self: next time forget the mandoline and go straight to the electronic appliance!) Next was the fun part. I took my simmered vegetable piperade and spread it evenly across the bottom of the cast iron pan. Next I took my gorgeous vegetable disks, along with sliced heirloom tomatoes, and placed them in the pan on top of the piperade, spiralling out from the center and making sure that 1/4 inch of each vegetable disc was exposed. Then I drizzled garlic thyme olive oil over the vegetables and seasoned them to taste. And next, because I’m silly that way, I took about a billion photos of the pretty thing that I’d made:

ratcloseup.jpg ratchair.jpgyinyangrat.jpg ratswirl.jpg ratplant.jpg

After patting myself on the back a few dozen times, I baked the vegetables, covered, on a low temperature for two hours. Then I started the French Butter Rice in my rice cooker, put the confit back in the oven, uncovered for another thirty minutes. I made the accompanying vinaigrette, and when it was done, placed the confit under the broiler for final browning, and plated my delicious, delicious gourmet French feast. DH, who ordinarily isn’t exactly thrilled by ANY of the ingredients, gobbled up his Confit Byaldi and French butter rice with as much enthusiasm as he would have for any meaty French dish, which is saying a lot. I thought it was a delicious summery dish, full of vegetable goodness. If it didn’t take so long, I would make it all the time. It’s an ideal dish for using up some of the most bountiful vegetables of the summer. If you have a surplus of tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant in your garden, why not take a leaf from a “little chef” from Disney that was inspired by a real live Bay area chef, and make your own Ratatouille? Your own in house critics of summer veggies might just have to change their minds, once they taste a bite of this heavenly summer dish.

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Related Links:
Interested in more French Laundry cuisine? Try the gorgeous blog French Laundry at Home that tests recipes from the French Laundry cookbook.

Want more Ratatouille Recipes?
A simple recipe for Ratatouille from the Canadian Food Network
Provence and Beyond’s recipe for ratatouille
An English/French recipe for Nicoise Ratatouille by La Tartine Gourmande
Smitten Kitten’s recipe for Ratatouille
Kalyn’s Ratatouille Wanna-Be
The Ratatouille Recipe from Cooking for Engineers

And if you’re in the mood for this recipe, you might like my original Eggplant Parmesan Recipe or my Zucchini Flatbread Pizza Recipe

French Butter Rice
Side Dish  Rice  French  
1/4 cup (or less) unsalted butter or olive oil (butter gives most flavor)
1/2 cup chopped onions of choice- white, red, or even shallots
2 cups favorite rinsed and drained white rice (not basmati)
3 1/4 cups vegetable stock (from bullion is fine, but of course from scratch is best)
1/2 tsp salt
Turn on rice cooker and melt butter (or heat oil) in the rice cooker pan. Add onions or shallots, and let cook until they are soft or until your rice cooker turns itself off. Stir occasionally. Put your drained rice in and stir thoroughly. Turn on rice cooker again or let it continue to cook. Stir occasionally until grains are coated with butter/oil and mixed with onions. The rice may become faintly translucent. Add vegetable stock and salt and let cook for the rest of a natural cooking cycle. (Or an entire cooking cycle).

Leave rice in machine on “warm” option for about ten minutes and then fluff the rice with a rice paddle or your favorite non metallic spoon. You can leave rice on warm until the rest of the meal is ready (not longer than 2 hours.) Serve warm. Also excellent reheated in the microwave for the next few days. Probably freezes well.

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