Tag Archives: food allergies

Chez Marcita Presents: Coq au Vin

I’m not sure who started the big-meal-on-Sunday tradition but it works well for Bill and me. It’s the one day we generally don’t go anywhere so we have plenty of time to cook in the kitchen together. I love making a one-pot meal in the oven those days, especially in the wintertime.

This demo on Coq au Vin is from our cooking videos series. It’s a variation on the recipe in my cookbook Nothing to Sneeze At, which is a variation on Julia Child’s recipe for Coq au Vin. No wheat, no corn, no dairy. I’ll show you how to make this easy chicken-in-a-pot-with wine. And I’ll even show you how to cut up a chicken!

Chez Marcita Presents: Bill’s Oatcakes

See what Sunday morning is like at the Davis-Holm house as Bill and I show you our wheat-free, corn-free oatcake breakfast ritual. (Warning, I’m actually wearing my pajamas but I’ll spare you my bed-head hair by donning a bandanna.)

Sorry, it’s a little long but it’s our first video!

Nutty Rice Porridge

For last night’s dinner (Day 3 of “How to Eat Healthy on $5.00 a Day”), I made  Cuban Black Beans with brown rice and purposefully made extra rice so Bill and I could enjoy it for breakfast. I love this recipe that I found at Tasteforlife.com and use it as a way to ease back into eating after my annual winter detox regimen.

Normally, I’d make this with the almond milk but since our rice was already cooked, I just reheated it in a pan with some raw milk and added the spices and apples. We skipped the walnuts and flaxseed due to cost, since this is our breakfast for Day 4 of our eating cheap and healthy challenge.

Nutty Rice Porridge
Adapted from Brenda Watson’s recipe on Tasteforlife.com
(Serves 2)

1 cup long-grain brown rice
2 cups almond milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 T ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 Fuji apple, chopped (Fuji apples are best for their texture and sweet taste, but you can choose another type of apple)

Place rice, milk, and nutmeg in medium saucepan.

Bring to boil, stirring frequently.

Cover pan and reduce heat to low.

Simmer for approximately 45 minutes.

Top with chopped nuts, ground flaxseed, and apple.

To make this recipe with pre-cooked rice, use 2 cups of cooked brown rice and one cup of almond milk. Place rice and milk in saucepan and heat thoroughly. Top with the rest of the ingredients.

A Special Dinner

Last night I had the privilege of collaborating with Butch’s Restaurant in Holland, Michigan to promote my cookbook, Nothing to Sneeze At, during a dinner for which Chef Adam prepared wheat-free, corn-free, cow-dairy-free recipes from the book. I think several of the dinner guests were pleasantly surprised when they tasted the dishes he made and realized how delicious they can be–even with substitutions. For me, it was a treat to taste my recipes made by a professional chef!

We had a great turnout of 20 people and dinner was held in one of Butch’s private dining rooms.

The evening started with a book signing and, after a brief introduction about the cookbook, we began our four-course meal.

Each of the courses was chosen by Chef Adam from one of four sections in the cookbook: soup, meat, pasta, and vegetarian.

Dessert was a yummy vegan chocolate cupcake provided by the baker at Uncommon Grounds in Saugatuck, Michigan, who also bakes for Butch’s.

The event was a fun way to share my experience with food allergies, which were first introduced to me by Bill.

Thanks to Butch for hosting the event–the first of its kind at his restaurant with a focus on food allergies–and showing how the restaurant values its customers by accommodating special dietary needs.

“Nothing to Sneeze At” Dinner, November 30, Butch’s Restaurant

On Wednesday, November 30, I’ll be teaming up with Chef Adam at Butch’s Restaurant to offer a wheat-free, corn-free, cow-dairy-free dinner featuring a menu from my cookbook, Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes For People With Allergies.

Here’s what Chef’s got planned:

Curried Roasted Squash Soup
Lamb Souviaki with Grilled Halloumi Cheese and Greek Salad
Wheat-Free, Dairy-Free Lasagna
Potato and Leek Quiche

The cost is $35 a person (plus tax/gratuity) and drinks are separate. Butch is hoping to offer organic wines and gluten-free beers.

I’ll have books to purchase at the great low price of $20 each. (Sells at retail for $26.86 on Lulu.com or as an e-Book on iTunes and Barnes & Noble for $13.99.) Don’t forget the food allergy sufferers on your holiday shopping list! Book signing will begin at 6:30pm and dinner will start at 7pm.

Reserve your space today by calling Butch’s Restaurant at 616-396-8227 because it’s filling up fast!

Sunday Night Is Pizza Night – Again

It’s another take on my lavash pizza….this time with avocados.

Spread some herb paste or pesto on spinach lavash flatbread. Add sautéed red onions, crispy fried bacon, sliced avocados, and grated pecorino cheese. Broil on low for 2-3 minutes. A simple, quick dinner for any night of the week!

Fassoulatha with a Twist

As Bill says, “anything is good with a ham hock.” Including Fassoulatha, or white bean soup. The ham hock is the twist to this Greek bean soup I made this week because it happened again: I had ham hocks in the freezer and used one in Split Pea Soup. But that was plenty of meat so I wasn’t sure what I’d do with the other hock.

Meanwhile, I’ve had this Fassoulatha recipe lying around and was looking for an opportunity to try it. Then it hit me: Why not throw the other ham hock in this soup?

Here’s the recipe I used, from a Middle Eastern cookbook my friend Carolyn loaned me. Of course, I improvised here and there, so this is the way it ended up.


2 cups dried navy, cannellini, or Great Northern beans
8 cups water
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup tomato puree
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, diced
1 T. dried parsley (or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. black ground pepper
1 ham hock
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried ground oregano
2 tsp. salt

Wash and sort beans. (I used Great Northern beans.)

Place in stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and leave pot covered until beans become plump, about 2 hours. (Time may vary depending on size of bean.)

Add remaining ingredients except for salt.

Bring to a boil, cover pot and boil gently for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove ham hock and cut meat from bone. Return meat to stock pot. Add salt and simmer, covered, about 30-60 minutes or  until beans are tender.

Serve with fresh chopped parsley. Of course, you could keep this a vegetarian dish and leave out the ham hock. I just didn’t want it to go to waste!

My Blueberry Muffin Experiment

As I’ve said before, I’m not much of a baker. But I have this stash of last summer’s blueberries in my freezer and have been trying to think of creative ways to use them. They are good in smoothies, but the skins don’t disintegrate well. (If you’re a texture girl like me, you probably don’t like blueberry skins in your teeth.) And, speaking of texture, frozen blueberries aren’t my favorite mixed with yoghurt either. (Fresh berries offer a completely different experience!)

Several of my friends suggested I make blueberry muffins. But that means measuring. Oy! I finally gave in, however, and made some last night. If I had been a true baker, I probably would have had paper muffin cups on hand. That would have made the process much easier! (Note to self for the next batch.)

My friend Lois sent me a recipe, which she says came from Fannie Farmer. So I looked up the recipe for “Muffins, Berry” in my own Fannie Farmer cookbook and found it.

The dilemma, as usual, was how to make it Bill-friendly. I followed some of my usual substitution rules: When a recipe calls for milk, use rice milk. When it calls for flour, use half brown rice and half oat flour. And when it calls for butter, use palm oil.

Another friend asked me recently, “What’s a good substitute for eggs?” I don’t have a good answer but I found a website called Kids with Food Allergies that had some good ideas. Fortunately, Fannie says you can actually omit the egg from this recipe! (If you try it, let me know how it turns out.)

Here’s the recipe I followed, with adaptations for people with wheat and dairy allergies.

Fannie Farmer’s Blueberry Muffins, Adapted for Food Allergies
2 cups flour (1 cup brown rice flour plus 1 cup oat flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup rice milk
1/4 cup melted palm oil
1 cup frozen blueberries
Sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a muffin pan with palm oil. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the flour over the blueberries.

In a large bowl, mix the remaining flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

In a small bowl, mix the egg, rice milk, and melted palm oil.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid mixture, stirring only enough to dampen the flour.

Lightly fold in the blueberries.

Spoon batter into muffin pans, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Sprinkle each muffin with sugar.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.


Is Raw Milk Cheese Here to Stay?

Would you eat cheese made from raw milk at a restaurant? I did, recently, at The Green Well in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

For those of you following my blog, you may think I’m beating a dead horse here with the raw milk issue. But a timely article in The New York Times cannot go unnoticed after my recent posts, “The Raw Milk Debate” and “How Ice Cream Gave Me the Warm Fuzzies.” And, I’m here to say I survived another raw milk experience.

According to the article, cheesemakers and foodies are worried because federal regulators may change the rules for the gourmet cheese industry. The government is concerned about two multistate E. coli outbreaks that sickened nearly 50 people. (Investigators have not said whether the contamination in those cases has been traced to the unpasteurized milk used to make the cheese.In one case, investigators documented unsanitary conditions that could have played a role in making the cheese unsafe; in the other, the company was charged with packaging cheese for sale before the required 60-day aging was complete.)

Raw milk cheese is made from unpasteurized milk, which cheesemakers claim have a certain rich flavor that is destroyed in the pasteurization process because enzymes and good bacteria add flavor to cheese. They also claim raw milk cheese derives flavors from the animals and the pastureland that produce the milk, much as wine is said to draw unique flavors from individual vineyards.

Current regulations require “cheese made from raw milk to be aged for 60 days before it is deemed safe to eat.” Since raw milk has not been heated to kill harmful bacteria (i.e., the pasteurization process), aging allows the chemicals in cheese, acids and salt, time to destroy harmful bacteria.

But cheeses vary in their needs for aging, so 60 days (an arbitrary number) may not be appropriate for every kind. The new proposal has the industry worried because raw milk cheese could be banned altogether; or the ones that pose a higher safety risk might be prohibited if made with raw milk. Another concern is that the aging period may be extended, perhaps to 90 days, making it difficult or impossible for cheesemakers to continue using raw milk for some popular cheese styles that are best when aged in less time.

Watch for the feds’ proposal over the next few months to see if raw milk cheese is staying or going.

Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies

There’s a little project I’ve been working on during the past six months with a few good and talented friends. And because many of my blog readers suffer from food allergies–or live with people who suffer from them–I thought I’d share the fruits of our labor: I just published my first cookbook and it’s called Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies.

In the last several years that I’ve lived with Bill, who is allergic to wheat, cow dairy, and corn, I learned how many unnecessary ingredients are in processed food. I also learned how to make substitutions for the foods he can’t eat: bread, milk, butter, tortillas, most cereals, waffles, cookies, crackers, yoghurt, ice cream, cheeses from cows, breadcrumbs, semolina pasta–and even regular ketchup–just to name a few.

Adapting and creating recipes–many of which are posted on this blog–simply became a fun challenge as I cooked in the kitchen. So I thought: Why not share the recipes with people who suffer from food allergies? Then others can see how easy it is to make delicious meals without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.

If you’re interesting in buying your own copy of Nothing to Sneeze At, please visit Lulu.com. I hope it offers hope and inspiration for those who suffer from allergies at the table!