Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Homemade gluten-free falafel and pizza!

A recent trip to the doctor confirmed that I have a mild wheat allergy. (wah. wah) Although, consuming wheat isn't as dangerous for me as it is for people with Celiac's, it’s still wise for me to avoid it when I can – especially since I notice an improvement in my overall health and vitality when I do.

You're probably thinking to yourself,"Wow, that sucks!" But for me, this has been an easy transition, as I tend to reserve my favorite wheat foods for Italian dinners and special occasions-- opting on most days for brown rice products, quinoa, and gluten-free desserts instead.

Because I've always suspected an allergy, and quite frankly love a good culinary experiment, I've done some gluten-free baking in the past. But up until now, I never realize just how many kinds of gluten free flours there are! From buckwheat to almond, the options seem to be endless!

During my last health-food store excursion, I decided to pick up chick-pea (Garbanzo bean) flour. Although it definitely did NOT pair well with the very experimental pumpkin bread I made on Sunday, (Sean was less than impressed) I learned that there is still quite a bit I can do with it.

First up, falafel! This goes great with tahini yogurt or hummus.
I happened to enjoy mine over a lovely bed of greens along side a bowl of lentil soup.

1 Cup Garbanzo bean flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic (I used the powder)
1/2 tsp oinion powder
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup hot water
2 tsp olive oil

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and blend thoroughly.
Add the lemon juice and hot water to the dry mixture and stir until combined.
Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.

In a frying pan, heat your olive oil on medium heat until hot. Add the batter by the tablespoon and flatten slightly. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Place on paper towel to drain oil.

Makes 10-12 falafel patties

Next up, Pizza!!

2/3 cup chickpea four
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup water
½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped tomato
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1.Preheat the broiler. Sift the chickpea flour with the salt into a medium bowl. Slowly add 1/4 cup of the water, whisking constantly to form a paste. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the remaining 3/4 cup of water and let the batter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then stir in the rosemary.

2.Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet. Stir the batter once, pour it into the skillet, flatten with your spoon and drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top. Cook the pizza over moderately high heat until the bottom is golden and crisp and the top is almost set, 2 to 3 minutes. Burst any large air bubbles with the tip of a knife.

3.Sprinkle the tomato, onion, Parmesan and pepper over the top, then place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the pizza is golden and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Slide the pizza onto a work surface, cut into wedges and serve hot.

These recipes are so simple, delicious and nutritous. What other yummy dishes do you think you can make with chick pea flour?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Friends, family, rosemary sweet potatoes, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies!

The title of my last blog post goes to show just how long it's been since I've written. Inspired by an amazing weekend with friends and family, I decided now is as good of a time as any to get back to the blog-o-sphere.

After a fabulous Friday night on the town with my boyfriend Sean, friend Maureen, and cousin Greg, I headed to NJ where my friends Lauren and Johnny hosted us for dinner. I must say, Lauren is a true domestic diva! From her pear and ricotta tartines, to her homemade apple pie, it was quite an impressive feast! Not a detail spared, their lovely home dazzled with candles, flowers, and beautiful place settings!

For dinner, Lauren made butternut squash ravioli, a fig and beat salad with a homemade cranberry dressing, and for our main course, roasted chicken with roasted veggies. Delish! Johnny did a fabulous job carving the chicken, and I made my favorite sweet potato dish. (see recipe below)

Although I suppose this makes me somewhat of a hyprocrite, I must admit that I also brought cupcakes from Crumbs. [tail between legs.]

I'm SORRY, but who doesn't love a good red velvet with cream-cheese frosting from time to time? I had originally planned on making organic pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (recipe also below), but the day got away from me, and Crumbs it was!

The following morning, we celebrated my beautiful baby nephew's christening. It was a truly special day -- one that I'll certainly cherish forever. My sister and brother-in-law were glowing, my mom was emotional as per usual (ok, so was I) and the rest of us were quick to celebrate with vino at the after party.

As I said goodbye to my family and headed back to Manhattan, I felt truly blessed.
And although I indulged in a few "sinful treats" over the weekend, I felt healthier than ever. From great friends, to wonderful family - to christening Lauren's china set, to christening my God-son, from tears of joy to tears of laughter - it was an amazing weekend! And as we approach Thanksgiving, I hope you will each take a moment out of your busy routines, to reflect on all that you have to be grateful for too!

Now, without further ado, the recipes!!!

Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled and cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (more, if you like)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a large non-stick baking sheet.

Bake until the potatoes are cooked through and golden, about 30 minutes. Season to taste.

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

2 sticks organic butter, softened
1 cup Sucanat
2 organic eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 bag organic dark chocolate chips
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine butter and Sucanat. Add all wet ingredients and blend. Stir in flours and other dry ingredients until well mixed. Scoop heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.