Monday, December 20, 2010

Win Le Creuset

In the midst of this hectic Monday take a minute and visit David Lebovitz's blog. He's teamed up with Le Creuset to give away a six piece cookware set for Christmas. Hurry since the contest cut off times are based on Paris time:

It will probably be another week or more until I'm up and cooking. Right now Vega shakes are keeping me fed. A vegan, gluten-free, soy-free protein and fiber supplement is hard to find. One that tastes decent even more so. Add an wee umbrella to the glass and it will be your very own "Thomas Crown Affair" worthy gloppy, green breakfast.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Just read this excellent post on what tools a baking kitchen needs. Look for a new sections soon covering a kitchen witch's tools, pantry and freezer staples.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Comfort Food

I'm still struggling with medical issues and tests to try and figure out said issues. The current joke is my job is being a lab rat or medical experiment. Usually I freeze quarts of soups and stews for these stretches of time when trying to walk upright is a challenge. Right now I've worked through my entire stash. Which makes the box of Kettle Cuisine my good friend and neighbor gave me all the more welcome.

Chicken noodle soup is the quintessential don't-feel-good comfort food. As I recall it also is beneficial during colds, and other feverish, puny times. Mainly it tastes good, creating a feeling of lassitude and well-being, akin to a grandmotherly hug.

Now imagine a frozen soup actually tastes good, able to provide a modicum of those benefits, and you have Kettle Cuisine's gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free and soy-free Chicken Noodle Soup.

Does it compare to the best chicken soup I ever had in my life, last winter in Texas? Home-made with a roasting chicken, fresh chopped veggies, delicately seasoned, and brought over in a lovely tureen. Sort of. That tureen of soup will remain legendary in my gastronomic memories, along with the wonderful woman who made it. Cooking for someone with food allergies isn't a simple thing. Cooking and making it taste good is work. Everything has to be checked, even the spices that may be laced with corn-based anti-caking agents.

Kettle Cuisine's chicken noodle soup is clearly related to home-made and admirably 'real' for prepackaged food. It isn't overly salty, yet the broth is lightly flavorful, not bland and not so seasoned as to upset a twitchy stomach. The chicken pieces are real chunks of chicken, not pressed together mystery bits. The noodles are sturdy, flat, egg-style noodles, just long enough to slurp and not so long as to be spaghetti. Carrot slices, diced onion round out this much needed bowl of comfort. And all wrapped up in a package that microwaves in four minutes.

Of the three boxes I bought at Natural Grocers this morning I don't expect a one to last the weekend. They can also be found at Whole Foods. At just over $3 per bowl they aren't inexpensive. For the first time in over a decade to have the convenience of a fast bowl of steaming hot comfort food, they are well worth it.

Even if you don't have food allergies, try a bowl. I'll be consuming mine, each starting with a whispered thanks for good friends bearing food.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tomato Soup

In my memories tomato soup is as good as the old Campbell's soup commercials imply. Fragrant, creamy, soul-warming, nourishing yet decadent with a diagonally-cut grilled cheese sandwich to dip in a brimming hot mug. As good as grandma's lightly floury hugs, filling but not so much as to not have room for her fresh baked cookies.

It is another simple comfort food that became verboten for too long. Canned soups are full of corn syrup, boxed soups have cream or enough salt to pucker your face off, or worse taste like liquid cardboard. None of which evoke nostalgia or fulfill a craving. Then a couple years ago I stumbled onto a recipe. At the same time I bought my first immersion blender. Over the winter making the recipe mine involved changing proportions, deleting some ingredients and mugs upon mugs of soup.

This recipe is fairly forgiving, if you have two leeks and only half an onion, go ahead and make the soup. Craving garlic, add a bit more. Change up the peppers for roasted and add a dash of cilantro. Have yellow or orange bell peppers moldering in the crisper? Chop'em up and toss them in the pot.

Make a pot after work while enjoying a glass of the white wine or make it on a weekend while enjoying a couple glasses. This soup freezes very well making it as convenient as the old canned stuff.

Tomato Soup

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 leek (chopped)

1 yellow onion (chopped)

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

2 stalks of celery (chopped)

1 red bell pepper (chopped)

3-4 oz white wine, usually a sauvignon blanc

1 15oz can of pumpkin

1 tablespoon of basil (chopped) (or a palm of dried)

1 tablespoon of parsley (chopped) (or a palm of dried)

1 15oz can of diced tomato

1 small can of tomato paste

1 dash white pepper

4 cups of chicken broth, or veggie broth for a vegetarian option

Large pinch of kosher salt

Warm the olive oil in a dutch oven or soup pot. Add the chopped leaks, onion, celery, garlic and bell pepper.

Sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the white wine and simmer.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, pumpkin, broth, and seasonings. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

Purée with the immersion blender in the pot or transfer in batches to the blender. Let me know if what memories it evokes for you.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gluten Free cookbook give away on Cybele Pascal's blog

Visit this blog for a review of "Gluten Free Girl and the Chef" cookbook, and comment to enter for a free copy.

Then do read the book, at the store or at the library. The flat bread crackers recipe alone make the book a must-buy. I haven't read the story of their life, Shauna's writing is evocative and the beauty she'll describe will hurt right now. For now I skip through the recipe and plan to read their story next year.

I'm trying a version of "Blackbird Bakery's apple pie tomorrow. Will post it Sunday if it comes out as amazing as the recipe sounds.

Mean time, go enter, and enjoy