Brown Soda Bread

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Ireland is not a country known for its food, which is remarkably unfair. I was reading a novel a few weeks ago in which a man casually mentioned that his father was Italian and his mother was Irish — and thank God his father did the cooking.

(It was not a great book, overall. But I digress.)

Maybe it’s because it’s perceived as boring. People think Ireland and they think potatoes, corned beef, cabbage, and Bailey’s. Or they think England, which to many Americans means bland food with names like “Spotted Dick” and “mushy peas.”

The reality is a little more complex. Ireland, at least contemporary Ireland, has amazing salmon, lamb, and mollusks. I didn’t eat corned beef once while I was there. And when you’re in an Irish port city, it’s easy to see European influence (Spanish, French, a little Italian) on the cuisine as well.

But my favorite thing was the soda bread, a quintessentially Irish staple. Continue reading

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Banana Coconut Bread

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Banana bread is such an old standby, isn’t it? It’s one of the very first things I ever baked, using my mom’s old copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook — the one with the checked cover and the three-ring binder format.

Banana bread never loses its appeal for me, but sometimes, I do feel the need to tweak it just a little. I’ve replaced the eggs with flax seed, added chocolate, used gluten-free flour…everything. And it always holds up.

Continue reading

Small things and asparagus pizza


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I was listening to NPR the other day when a familiar voice came on. It was the voice of Melissa Arnot, one of the most amazing mountain climbers in the world. She was speaking with Robin Young from a satellite phone at the base of Everest, preparing to summit yet again. She’s already hit the top several times, but now she’s attempting to be the only American woman ever to do it without supplemental oxygen and without the help of a team of sherpas assisting her with gear. She’s doing this in part to raise awareness of the dangerous conditions sherpas endure on a daily basis and to raise money for the families of six sherpas who died in an avalanche last year. Continue reading

Grainless Lemon Scones and Cherry Jam

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These amazingly moist, grain-free, gluten-free lemon scones were a long time coming, and relied on a major evolution of forces in order to be made at all.

It started with the cherries, thoughtfully pitted and frozen by me last summer and promptly forgotten until we moved last month. A coworker and I chatted for a while a few weeks ago about what I could possibly do with these cherries, and she immediately suggested jam, to be served with lemon scones. Of course! What else?

gluten-free lemon scones 2And then, in one of those lovely coincidences that seem to only happen with the oldest of friends, my best friend from high school sent a housewarming gift that included a bag of light muscovado sugar. With its rich molasses notes, I knew this was just the thing to temper the tartness of the lemon juice, deepen the sweetness and warm the flavors up to something a little more appropriate for March, rather than June.

Further coincidence? It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and scones are still to this day one of the things I miss most about Ireland. I know it’s essentially a biscuit. I still miss them. And I’m pretty sure, anyway, that you can’t do better than this recipe for a gluten-free scone.

Grainless Lemon Scones
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Yummy grain-free scones, infused with muscovado sugar and lemon juice
Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 2 Tbsp cold butter
  • ½ cup muscovado sugar
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup milk of your choice
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and set aside.
  2. Combine almond meal, coconut flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add butter and work with your hands until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest and whisk until very fragrant and well-combined. Whisk into the other ingredients.
  4. Add lemon juice and milk, and stir with a spatula until very well combined. The mixture may be crumbly, but you’ll see it will come together when pressed.
  5. Dump dough onto the baking sheet and press into a ball. Flatten ball until the dough circle is about one inch high. Split with a knife into eight equal segments, wiggling the knife to create a solid separation between the wedges.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the outside is golden and the inside is still moist. Cool on a wire rack; serve with plenty of butter, margarine and/or tea.
 

 

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Crispy Cranberry-Almond Granola

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Granola, when I make it, normally turns out kind of heavy. It’s dense — tons of oats and nuts and fruit and all kinds of stuff. While that’s great, sometimes I want less, just a little crunch and burst of flavor with my yogurt, you know? Something lighter, that doesn’t feel like I just swallowed a literal sack of oats. Maybe some thing I can eat by itself like a normal cereal.

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This “granola lite” came about by accident, when I was trying to make power bars only to have them crumble and fall apart. In frustration, I almost threw them out, but instead, I dumped the crumbled bits on a baking sheet and threw them in the oven.

What came out was a little miracle. Light and crispy from the puffed rice, substantial thanks to the oats and a little bit sweet from the craisins, it goes beautifully with yogurt, as a snack, or just in a bowl with the milk of your choice.

And guess what? It also has a little protein punch from the nut butter and the protein powder. Depending on what protein powder you use (I used Tempt in the Vanilla Spice flavor), this is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and free of refined sugar. Just keep an eye on it in the oven — the edges of one of my pans burned a little bit. 

Crispy Cranberry-Almond Granola
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
A delicious vegan, gluten-free and soy-free granola with a punch of protein to get you going.
Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 cups rice cereal
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free quick-cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup craisins (original)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup nut butter of your choice
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine cereal, oats, craisins, almonds, salt and protein powder in a bowl. Heat maple syrup and nut butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until smooth. Pour mixture over the oat/cereal mixture and stir very well, until everything is coated and starting to clump.
  3. Spread granola onto two foil-lined baking pans. Bake for 15 minutes, switching the pans and stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  4. The granola will NOT be crispy when you remove it from the oven, but will crisp as allowed to cool. Once cool, store in an air-tight container for up to a week.
 

 

Black Beans and Cheesy Polenta

DSC_0048You know how I said that sometimes food is just about love? That’s true. And sometimes, it’s just about slapping something on the table and making sure everyone is fed.

I cried the other night about dinner. And not welling up, not just a single delicate tear tracing across my perfect cheekbone. An ugly, horrible, can’t-breathe, burying-my-face-in-the-dog’s-tummy-while-she-cleans-my-face kind of cry. There was heaving, sobbing and mucus. It was awful.

Ostensibly, I was crying because I was supposed to make dinner, but a series of miscommunications sent my husband storming off in search of a burger as I sobbed and threw a spinach omelet in the trash. But at its heart, the sobbing spell had everything to do with being on week eight of the most stressful period we’ve had in our entire relationship — buying a house and trying to move at a time when both of our jobs have heated up.  

These are good things, and we’re very lucky. It’s also been incredibly overwhelming, and the cumulative effects of weeks of miscommunication and frustration and exhaustion and selfishness on both of our parts welled up and spilled over when I couldn’t do something as simple as get dinner on the table.

I could have staved off that crying jag by throwing this meal on the stove, and in 30 minutes, all of my problems (well, most of them) could have been solved. Both of us could have been sitting down to a delicious, gluten-free meal that is good for the soul. Everything looks better once you’ve eaten.

This meal has its roots in a story I read in one of my favorite books on food, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant. One writer describes how he’d make black beans every night, simmering them with garlic and then serving them over homemade cornbread.

It sounded great, but I am not one of those people who just randomly has cornbread sitting around, nor am I the type to throw together a batch on a weeknight. So I tried it with polenta (infused with cheese, of course) and lo! This 30-minute meal was born.  You can skip the cheese for a yummy vegan option.

Black Beans and Cheesy Polenta
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • salt to taste
  • 1 can black beans and juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp Frank’s Red Hot
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • cilantro, sour cream, any other garnishes for serving
Instructions
  1. First, put the polenta and broth on to simmer. Stir very frequently and cook, uncovered, until thick and the general consistency of grits (this will take about 30 minutes). Stir in butter and cheese, allow to melt, then taste and add salt as necessary. Remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the beans and their juices over medium heat until they start to boil. Lower heat slightly, add garlic, cumin, cayenne and Frank’s and simmer, uncovered, until the polenta is done.The juices should thicken into a sauce. Stir in lime juice and remove from heat.
  3. Spoon polenta onto serving plates; top with beans and whatever accoutrements you desire.
 

 

Maple-Pecan Overnight Oats


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Once upon a time, I didn’t eat breakfast. When I did, I ate a banana and yogurt, or yogurt and peanut butter, something I could grab on my way out the door with a minimum of fuss.

But then I realized that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and skipping it in favor of another cup of coffee is probably my ticket to an ulcer. But what do you really feel like eating at 8 a.m. in between answering emails? Something healthy, something that’s not going to send my blood sugar too high, and something I can eat with a spoon. No messy powdered sugar donut fingers are coming anywhere near my keyboard. And it has to be something that takes next to no time to grab in the morning.

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Hence, overnight oatmeal. It takes five minutes the night before to mash a banana, pour in milk and oats, add nuts and a little maple syrup and stir. And the next morning, you have a delicious and nutritious breakfast that you can literally grab from the fridge as you are running out the door. It’s so easy, I make one for my husband, too. (Both saying that and actually doing it makes me feel like one of those 1950’s housewives, but it makes him happy, so…I do it.)

The best part? Gluten-free with no refined sugar. You can even skip the maple syrup if you want to, as the banana makes the oatmeal pretty sweet on its own. Play with the mix-ins, too! Nuts are just the easiest for us, but this would be great with dried fruit, chia seeds or peanut butter.

Vegan Overnight Oats
 
Author: Kate Wutz
Maple-pecan overnight oats that are vegan and gluten-free with no refined sugar. Take ten minutes to make these the night before, and you can grab and go in the morning. Perfect.
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (use more like 2/3 if you like your oatmeal thicker)
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
Instructions
  1. Stir together milk, oatmeal and banana in a mason jar until combined. I like to actually mash the banana in the mason jar first with a fork, add the milk using the measurement marks on the jar, then add the oats. Saves time and dishes.
  2. Add pecans on top, then top with maple syrup. Cover and keep in fridge overnight. Serve cold the next morning.