Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: The Crispy Cook’s Smoky Sweet Potato Soup Recipe Reviewed

January 31st, 2009 yum Posted in Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger, Blog Event, Gluten Free Blogs, Gluten Free Recipes, Soup, Vegetarian 13 Comments »

When I first began the Adopt-a-Gluten-Free-Blogger Event, I had several reasons for doing this. First, I thought it would be great to get to know each other as individuals and each other’s food philosophy or style. I also thought it would be nice to have incentive to actually try and review some of the great recipes on other gluten-free blogs. And finally, I hoped it would be a good way to bring us together as a community. Recently I started introducing themes to the event to make the roundup more useful to readers. I started with a holiday celebration theme, and then most recently, had a Healthy Resolution theme for this January. Sometimes the gluten-free community has a serious sweet tooth, and we can concentrate on sweet recipes and bread-type recipes, neglecting some of the delightful healthy vegetable or protein recipes on our favorite gluten-free blogs.

Well, this month in the spirit of health, I adopted The Crispy Cook and searched her blog for an enticing and healthy recipe. I finally chose her Smoky Sweet Potato Soup Recipe because I’m always looking for more ways to prepare sweet potatoes. I found myself with a little bit of a conundrum as I began preparing it. I am firmly committed to NOT modifying adopted recipes as it is one of our most basic rules of AAGFB. Unfortunately lately garlic hasn’t agreed with me, so I was nervous about using four cloves in the recipe. My compromise was to reduce the garlic to two cloves and sauteed them whole to add subtle flavor and then remove them before pureeing the soup. Also, I have a long standing policy of leaving celery out of recipes ever since an unfortunate combination of the stomach flu and a celery stew in my childhood. I just hate the stuff. But, this time I resolved to trust the Crispy Cook and give celery in soup just one more try. Since it was pureed, I figured I would be less likely to run into chunks of celery flavor in the dish, and instead it would be diffused throughout. Finally, the DH (and lately me, a little) is very sensitive to spiciness, and I was pretty sure the chipotle peppers in adobe would be too much for him. Rachel did give us an option to use a teaspoon of red chili flakes instead, but said we might miss the smokiness. Luckily I have a solution to reduce heat, add flavor AND add smokiness- using smoked spanish paprika in recipes calling for chipotle pepper or chipotle in adobe. (Powdered chipotle would be a hotter option that would also contribute smokiness to the dish). Other than these very minor variations, I followed the recipe exactly as written. I was thrilled to use my immersion blender and find it worked beautifully on this particular dish. I like a nice creamy smooth soup (the less to find the celery, my dear), and was able to get a gorgeous, creamy orange texture. I served it to the DH with the fresh parsley and some toasted pine nuts that added the perfect nutty texture to the experience. I also made some fresh corn tortillas to go with it. Our verdict?

We LOVED it!
THANK GOODNESS we tried this recipe. I didn’t know such simple ingredients could come together in such a wonderful way, and without milk, cream, coconut, or any kind of nut butter that I often add to soups. The sweet potato really sings in this dish, and you know, prepared this way I couldn’t even distinguish the celery. It simply melded with the other flavors in harmony. The DH gave a BIG thumbs up, and I have to agree. We WILL be making this again. Thank you Rachel of the Crispy Cook. You shared a real winner with us!

But who Is the Crispy Cook, anyway?
When Rachel started her blog, it was called “Wheat-Free, Meat-Free”, but she changed over to the Crispy Cook title last year because she felt the new name was not only a little more memorable but also reflected the meal-planning conundrums she was faced with in feeding a family of omnivores, pescatarians, and vegetarians (one an on-again, off-again vegan that doesn’t like nuts or most vegetables). Rachel’s take on the gluten-free lifestyle is to try and cook things that are naturally gluten-free as much as possible. She doesn’t try to recreate gluten-packed food favorites so much as seek out new foods and ingredients to expand our culinary adventures, a philosophy that I can thoroughly appreciate. Read Rachel’s recent explanation of what her blog is all about

Personally, I’ve been reading Rachel’s blog for quite some time and got to know her through her blog’s inception as Wheat-Free Meat-Free. I appreciate her adventurous spirit, international and healthful recipes. Of course at first I identified with her blog because of its vegetarian theme, but I also enjoyed seeing pictures of her kitties and hearing about the bookshop she owns with her husband. I hope you will visit her soon and discover her blog for yourself!

Here are some other delicious recipes Rachel has featured recently on her blog:
Cream of Ratatouille Soup Recipe
Savory Rice and Cheese Muffin Recipe
Spicy Lentil Chili Recipe

Isn’t it time you got to know the Crispy Cook yourself?

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Gluten Free Chinese Food: Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup Recipe

February 8th, 2008 yum Posted in Chinese, Eggs, Soup, Spinach, tofu 2 Comments »

A while back Mountain View was hit by a cold front, with cold air that seemed to sink right into your bones and gray, gray skies that would occasionally open up to pour rain down on all the depressed Californians and my balcony. That is probably what inspired me, on a night when I wanted Chinese food, to pull out the soup pot and make a nice, warming hot and sour soup with extra veggies and seasonings. I made what is usually a small starter soup into a main course, serving it with hot, short grained rice sprinkled with black sesame seeds. DH is always happy when we have Chinese food, and we both enjoyed curling up at home, safe from all the unpleasant weather outside, with a nice, warm bowl of Chinese soup.

I have some great college memories of making egg drop soup with a friend of mine who had spent some of her high school years in Taiwan. It was fun to watch plain old egg turn into the strands that defined the dish, but I hadn’t made the recipe since. This hot and sour soup took the best parts of that recipe, and took it up a few notches to make it the satisfying center of our meal. The recipe turned out well, but I think it might be possible to make it even better with a little tweaking. Any suggestions? In the meantime, the next time you’re craving hot, soothing soup- why not take inspiration from a Chinese soup and make it your own? Winter just might seem a little farther away, with the right soup on the table.

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Hot and Sour Ginger Chinese Soup Recipe with tofu and spinach
Soup  Tofu  Chinese  
1 tbsp. peanut oil
One onion, diced
One knob of ginger, grated
3/4 of a small, firm tofu package
4 cups vegetable broth (from scratch or from GF vegetable bullion)
1 handful dried shitake mushrooms
1 cup boiling water, to soak mushrooms
1 can bamboo shoots
1 cup or more fresh spinach, shredded
2 tbsp. GF soy sauce (San-J low sodium)
3-4 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sugar (or sub 1 tbsp. mirin for one of the tbsp. of rice vinegar)
salt, to taste, and white or black pepper
1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. sesame oil
3 spring onions
Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain and chop, reserving liquid.

Slice your tofu and press in a kitchen towel for 30 minutes. Cut your tofu into strips. Heat peanut oil in your favorite pan (Cast iron or nonstick), throw in your onion ad cook it it becomes slightly translucent and then move the onion over to another side of the pan, add a little more oil and saute the tofu until golden and crispy on each side, throwing in your grated ginger and eventually mixing the tofu with the cooked onion. Add your four cups of vegetable broth and simmer for fifteen minutes. Finally add bamboo shoots and spinach, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar/mirin, white pepper, chili garlic sauce and the leftover shitake soaking liquid, as well as sliced white part of the green onions. Heat the ingredients until almost boiling. Mix your water and corn starch in a small bowl and then slowly add to your warm broth, stirring and letting broth thicken slightly. Take your beaten raw egg and either pour it through a fork or whisk through the stock so you get strands of egg throughout the broth. Finally add any extra salt or other seasonings to taste, including sliced part of the green onions and dribble toasted sesame oil throughout the soup or in individual serving. Yummy!

It’s best to only add egg to the portion of the soup you will be consuming right away. If you want leftovers, or to freeze some for later, pour whatever you don’t want to eat right away into a bowl to cool and then just drizzle beaten egg in the pot with the soup you plan to eat.
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