Tag Archives: gluten-free

Asparagus Frittata

Asparagus Frittata Recipe

Memorial Day is the traditional segue to summer. And in the Great Lakes, it’s the start of weekend gatherings–at home, at the cottage, and at the campsite. What’s a quick and easy way to enjoy breakfast together? A simple frittata with seasonal vegetables. And right now, it’s asparagus season.

Most people in Michigan can’t wait for the first asparagus to show up at farmers markets and roadside stands. I’m one of them. As soon as the Holland Farmers Market opened in May, I was there with my basket, loading up on this spring vegetable that can be prepared so many ways. Putting it in a frittata is one of my favorites. In addition to the asparagus, I buy the rest of the ingredients from our local farmers at the Holland Farmers Market: pastured eggs from Grassfields, red onions from Visser Farms, and goat cheese from Country Winds Creamery. (Another reason why I love this recipe? You can cook it over a campfire, too!)

Asparagus Frittata

Serves 4.

3 T. olive oil

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces

8 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Pecorino cheese,  or dollops of goat cheese

Optional: chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, tarragon, or parsley

Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil and vegetables into a large oven-proof skillet. Saute onions with asparagus on medium heat until nearly tender, about three minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from pan. (Note: You can also leave the veggies in and pour the eggs right over them but I remove them and do the next steps first so the frittata doesn’t stick to the pan.)

Add salt and pepper to eggs, then stir. (If using herbs, add them now.) Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat until bubbly. When oil is very hot, pour egg mixture into pan. As edges cook, lift up with a spatula and tilt pan so uncooked egg mixture runs underneath. Continue until eggs are no longer runny. (It will still be slightly soft.)

Preheat broiler on high. Spoon vegetables evenly over egg. Sprinkle cheese or place dollops over entire pan. Put pan in oven under broiler flame and immediately reduce to low. Broil about 3 minutes, checking occasionally. Frittata is done when the edges are brown and the cheese is bubbly (or soft for goat cheese).

Remove from oven and let set about a minute. Cut into eight slices and serve.

Asparagus Frittata Recipe

Cooking over a campfire? Just place foil on over the pan to cook the top of the frittata.

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

I am fascinated by the variety of Thanksgiving traditions people bring to their table. I love how we are influenced by our families, our heritage, and our experiences. But I have to say I can’t think of a single thing that I must have for Thanksgiving every year. As long as I get to cook—using local, organic, and seasonal ingredients as much as possible—I’m happy.

Most of the fun is the creative process in cooking but it’s also about trying new things. So when Bill and I had guests with vegetarian preferences this year, I was excited to look for recipes. I was also challenged to find ones that would accommodate both a vegetarian diet and Bill’s allergy restrictions: wheat, corn, and pasteurized cow dairy. Thankfully, the world is at my fingertips through the internet!

After a light appetizer–and a favorite at our house–of Warm Goat Cheese Toasts with Rosemary, Walnuts, and Honey (substituting Manchego cheese for goat cheese), we started with a bowl of Winter Squash Soup.

The rest of the meal was a selection of sides and two vegetarian main dishes: Veggie Balls and Potato Leek Quiche, but this time with a Greek twist on the quiche since I used sheep’s feta cheese and added spinach.

For sides, we had one of my favorites from Epicurious.com: Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Leeks and Corn (sans corn). Also, instead of just wild rice, this time I used Lundberg’s Wild Blend.

We also had Mark Bittman’s Mashed Cauliflower from his book How to Cook Everything. It’s a great substitute for mashed potatoes if you want to take advantage of a seasonal vegetable that’s difficult to store, or if you’re looking to lower carbs!

Finally, for a little greenery, I made a simple Raw Tuscan Kale Salad recipe from one of my fellow foodies over at 101Cookbooks.

And for dessert? Two choices: my first ever Pumpkin Pie, plus Gourmet magazine’s Flourless Chocolate Cake (made with raw milk butter!).

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.

Lavash Pizza with Bratwurst and Kale

I’m always looking for ways to whip up something quick and easy for dinner. My lavash pizza obsession is one way to solve the dilemma because the frozen Millet & Flax Lavash that Bill and I buy from Sami’s Bakery thaws quickly. So it’s just a matter of figuring out what to put on it.

We had a package of bratwursts from Creswick Farms that we recently got at the West Michigan Co-op. And I still had some curly kale in the garden. So here’s what I did….

First I braised the brats in a skillet to cook them through.

I let the water burn off in the skillet and added a little olive oil to brown them.

Meanwhile, I chopped the kale from my garden and steamed it, covered, in the microwave for one minute.

Then I sliced the brats and browned them again in the same olive oil and skillet.

Once they were done, I put them aside and sautéed half a large yellow onion, sliced, in the same pan.

When all the ingredients were ready, I browned the bottom side of two lavash pieces on a griddle.

Then it’s just a matter of assembly: First the onions, then the kale, then the brats, followed by some grated manchego sheep’s cheese.

The pizzas were browned under the broiler (set on low) on a cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes. The idea is to brown the cheese and heat the pizza through.

Once it’s ready, just place the pizza on a cutting board and immediately cut into quarters.

One pizza makes a nice meal for one person.

Mediterranean Lavash Pizza with Lamb

I keep experimenting with millet and flax lavash pizza and I really think I’m onto something. Easy and gluten-free, lavash pizza has become a quick and creative dinner option for Bill and me.

This weekend I was inspired by the recipe for Lamb Souvlaki I’ve made before. Instead of putting the lamb and halloumi cheese on a tortilla with salad on top, I put the lamb and manchego cheese on the lavash, broiled it, and added a tomato/onion/olive topping. It was delicious!

First, I browned a half pound of lamb (for two pizzas) and added some cumin, dried oregano, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. (Vegetarians: Skip the lamb and you’ll still have an awesome pizza!)

Then I chopped up a small red onion from Boeve Farm and sautéed it.

In a separate bowl, I combined one chopped tomato, about half a tablespoon of olive oil, a dash of salt, a squeeze of fresh lemon, a little black pepper, a sprig, each, of fresh mint and oregano, two chopped green onions and about five kalamata olives, sliced.

After browning the bottom side of the lavash, I placed then on a baking sheet, added the ground lamb, onions, and some grated manchego cheese, then broiled the pizzas for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.

After cutting them into quarters, I topped the pizzas with the tomato salad and served.

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.


Vegetarian Lavash Pizza – Tuscan Style

Bill and I have been making lavash pizzas every once in awhile and it turns out they’re a yummy light dinner or shared appetizer.

When I had some leftover Tuscan Kale with Canellini Beans in the fridge, I thought: Why not put it on a lavash?

After toasting the bottom side of the lavash on a griddle, I simply spread the (warmed-up) bean and kale mixture on top, added some shredded Bulgarian sheep’s cheese, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and broiled the lavash for about one or two minutes.

You get your protein, greens, and calcium all in one healthy dish! And, it’s a wheat-free, corn-free, cow-dairy-free option that accommodates vegetarians, too!

For another vegetarian lavash pizza idea, check out my Bosc Pear and Carmelized Onion Pizza. Meat eaters may want to try my Lavash Pizza with Sausage.

When There’s a Blizzard, Make Lamb Shanks

I’m a fan of a four-season climate so when it’s winter, I love winter. I’m about the only one in West Michigan who seems to feel this way but maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up here so I appreciate it more than the locals do. I love snow. And I love being snowed in. I guess it’s just the introvert in me.

So with my freezer full of meat and a blizzard at the doorstep, I decided to plan a dinner to celebrate the snow because I knew I wouldn’t be going anywhere today.

Bill and I buy a whole lamb from Lubbers Farm and we request that our butcher packages the lamb shanks in groups of two.

Tonight’s dinner was Braised Lamb Shanks, a recipe I got from Williams-Sonoma.

Because I was using two shanks instead of six, I had to do some math to alter the recipe. And, instead of beef stock, I used lamb stock that I had in the freezer after boiling down a shoulder from my favorite recipe for lamb shoulder. It lends an herbes de Provence essence to the lamb that is delicious.

On the side we had Wild Rice with Butternut Squash [Red Onion instead of Leeks], and Corn from Bon Appetit. (No corn, because Bill is allergic.) We got the wild rice from Native Americans in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on our trip there last summer.

Here’s the fun part about being a freelance writer: We started the evening with a bottle of champagne to toast the blizzard. Then we enjoyed some Pinot Noir (used in the lamb recipe) with our dinner, and finished the meal with some leftover flourless, dairy-free chocolate cake (substituting palm oil for butter) and raw milk ice cream with raspberry sauce–made from last fall’s fresh, local raspberries I preserved in the freezer.

Bring on the snow. All we need is a little food and a little booze, and we’re pretty happy.

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!

Take Back the Family Dinner

Mark Hyman, MD, wrote an article for The Huffington Post called “How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life.” While its focus is on how the industrialized food system in America has made the family dinner obsolete, he makes some interesting points about how to make home-cooked meals a priority. If you have a family, you might find this piece interesting. If you’re single, or a couple like Bill and me, there are still relevant points to consider, not to mention the research he cites.

For example, did you know that in 1900, 2 percent of meals were eaten outside the home, while in 2010, 50 percent were eaten away from home and one in five breakfasts is from McDonald’s? Or that regular family dinners protect girls from bulimia, anorexia, and diet pills?

If you don’t read the article, at least check out his seven tips that can help you take back the family dinner. Even if you are a family of one, these tips have value.

  1. Reclaim Your Kitchen: Throw away any foods with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats or sugar or fat as the first or second ingredient on the label. Fill your shelves with real fresh, whole, local foods when possible. And join a community support agriculture network to get a cheaper supply of fresh vegetables weekly or frequent farmers markets.
  2. Reinstate the Family Dinner: Read Laurie David’s “The Family Dinner”. She suggests the following guidelines: Make a set dinnertime, no phones or texting during dinner, everyone eats the same meal, no television, only filtered or tap water, invite friends and family, everyone clean up together.
  3. Eat Together: No matter how modest the meal, create a special place to sit down together, and set the table with care and respect. Savor the ritual of the table. Mealtime is a time for empathy and generosity, a time to nourish and communicate.
  4. Learn How to Cook and Shop: You can make this a family activity, and it does not need to take a ton of time. Keep meals quick and simple.
  5. Plant a Garden: This is the most nutritious, tastiest, environmentally friendly food you will ever eat.
  6. Conserve, Compost, and Recycle: Bring your own shopping bags to the market, recycle your paper, cans, bottles and plastic and start a compost bucket (and find where in your community you can share you goodies).
  7. Invest in Food: As Alice Waters says, food is precious. We should treat it that way. Americans currently spend less than 10 percent of their income on food, while most European’s spend about 20 percent of their income on food. We will be more nourished by good food than by more stuff. And we will save ourselves much money and costs over our lifetime.