Recipe: Butternut Squash and Red Onion Pasta Sauce

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I attempted gluten-free gnocchi using a recipe from Mario Batali. While the gluten-free gnocchi didn’t turn out so well, his butternut squash and spicy red onion tomato sauce is fantastic!

This weekend, I watched Mario Batali’s gnocchi recipe video on the NY Times website, and thought I’d try to replicate the dish with gluten-free flour. I’m going to be honest – I had mixed results. The gnocchi did not stay together very well (I think the gluten definitely adds essential elasticity to the dumplings), but the  homemade tomato sauce Batali makes in the video was absolutely superb. The sauce has caramelized butternut squash and red onions, hot peppers, and tomato.  I’m going to try to make the recipe again sometime, substituting gluten-free pasta for the gnocchi.

Click here for a link to the cooking video.

Review: Mulu’s “Pop-Up” Ethiopian Night in Oxford, UK

IMG_2736I am really into Ethiopian food, and when I was an undergraduate student in New York City, I used to love eating at Zoma, an incredible Ethiopian place in Harlem. As far as I’m aware, there aren’t any Ethiopian restaurants in Oxford. However, I recently found out that there ARE incredible “Pop-Up” Ethiopian nights in town, where Ethiopian cooks take over local restaurants for a night, and serve up some amazing eats!

I’ve gone to Mulu’s Ethiopian “Pop Up” Night at the Magic Cafe in Cowley three times now, and have not been disappointed. The chef, Freha, grew up in Ethiopia, and used to run a local restaurant with her family there. She now recreates her family’s recipes at the pop-up in Oxford. Mulu serves a wide range of both meat and vegetarian dishes, and although their traditional injera bread is not gluten free (some recipes are), the organizers of the event- Freha and David – have been extremely accommodating, and always provide gluten-free bread for me to eat.

The last time I went to Mulu’s was two Saturdays ago, and as always, I had an amazing meal with friends. We also sampled their “Tej,” which is a traditional Ethiopian honey mead wine, and it was fantastic. After dinner,  Freha provided a showcase of Ethiopian dancing.

If you’re interested in booking the next Ethiopian night at Mulu, or want to get more information about their Ethiopian feasts, you can email mulu.info@gmail.com

Review: Door 74 in Oxford

When I first moved to Oxford almost 4 years ago, I thought that the majority of restaurants in town were quaint independent restaurants. Then, the first time I went to London that year, I was surprised to find out that almost ALL of them are chains (Cafe Rouge, Branca, Patisserie Valerie, Brasserie Blanc etc.) So, I’m always pleased to find a new tasty local restaurant in town that’s completely homegrown and unique to Oxford.

One of my favorite new truly local places is the romantic restaurant Door 74, which could be described as simple “British” cuisine. I went for the first time last December, and had a phenomenal halloumi salad as an appetizer with caramelized onion, balsamic reduction, and roasted butternut squash. Jon and I wolfed it down, and decided on the spot that we’d have to come back to try their three-course Valentines’ Day menu.

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A picture of the interior of Door 74

So, we went back on February 14, and it was incredible. In addition to a holiday appropriate kir royale, I had a french onion soup to start (completely vegetarian), followed by wild mushroom risotto, and a local cheese plate. I can’t wait to go back on another special occasion!

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French Onion Soup (starter)

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Risotto with wild mushrooms (main)

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Cheese dessert plate

Recipe: Chilean Carrot Tortilla

IMG_2725I came home after an early morning international law class, and decided to make the healthiest thing I could for lunch, out of the ingredients I had in my fridge. Luckily, I had everything I needed to make a delicious “Chilean” carrot tortilla!

I based my recipe on a Chilean dish from the blog Recipes from South America, which true to the name, has a lot of incredible recipes from Latin America.

Ingredients:

  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • salt pepper, seasoning
  • oil, for cooking
  • sriracha sauce (for serving)

Direction: Shred carrots, and pop them, along with the chopped onion, in a small frying pan with oil. Let cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring occassionally. Spread carrots out so that they are in a thin layer covering the pan, and pour two eggs on top. Let cook until firm, then flip the tortilla and cook for an additional minute. Serve with something caliente – I used sriracha sauce.

Recipe: Earl Grey Infused Flourless Chocolate Cake

IMG_2710In preparation for Valentine’s Day, I decided to try out a new flour-less chocolate cake recipe. Flourless chocolate cake is an incredible naturally gluten-free dessert, but it is extremely rich and decadent, so I only eat it on special occassions. Tonight, I decided to make a recipe that included a heavy load of chocolate with an earl grey infusion. Bliss!!

I made slices for a bunch of friends, and am excited to hear their thoughts on how the cake turned out!

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All ready to go!

Recipe here, courtesy of Serious Eats and High Heels and Frijoles (I left out the lavender in their recipe, mainly because I couldn’t find any in Oxford).

Ingredients (caveat – this isn’t very healthy):

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon loose Earl Grey tea leaves
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 9 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar (to serve. I also just pulsated some regular granulated sugar in the blender until it had the consistency of confectioner’s sugar.

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with 1 tablespoon butter and line exterior of pan with foil. Sprinkle sea salt on the bottom of the pan.

  2. Pulse the sugar with 1 teaspoon tea. Set aside.
  3. Combine boiling water with the remaining 3 tablespoons tea in a liquid measuring cup; steep for 5 minutes. Strain mixture into medium heat-proof bowl, pressing on solids to release any liquid.
  4. Add chocolate and remaining 8 tablespoons butter to tea mixture and set over double-boiler (bottom of bowl should not be touching simmering water). Stir continuously until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth and shiny. Remove bowl from heat and set aside. (If you don’t have a double broiler, you can just melt everything in a pan).
  5. In a large bowl whisk egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar vigorously until mixture is a thick, pale paste. Add cocoa, vanilla, and tables salt and whisk until completely incorporated.
  6. Add about 1/4 cup of warm chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and stir until completely incorporated. Whisk in remaining chocolate.
  7. In large, clean, dry bowl beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. (If you decide to hand whip these, like I did, this step is a bitch. Friends, I made this cake for you because I love you a lot!)
  8. Whisk about 1/3 of the meringue into the chocolate batter until completely incorporated. With a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining meringue.
  9. Scrape batter into prepared baking pan. Bake until top begins to crack and cake tester has moist crumbs attached to it when inserted, about 1 hour.
  10. Transfer cake to cooling rack. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove springform mold and cool completely, about 1 hour. Sift cofectioners’ sugar over cooled cake.

GF Ingredients: M&S Gluten Free Salmon Fishcakes (With Tartar Sauce Recipe)

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Living in the land of fish and chips can be hard when you’re gluten-free (chips are gluten-free, but breaded fish fillets are NOT), so I was excited to stumble upon some great looking gluten-free salmon fish cakes at M&S today (you can order them online here, but they’re much cheaper in stores @ three pounds for two packs).

I decided to try them for lunch with some homemade tartar sauce. They were really good – very crisp on the outside, with nice pieces of fresh salmon flakes mixed with creamy potatoes in the inside.

Tartar Sauce Ingredients

  • mayonnaise
  • 1 medium sized pickle, chopped in to small pieces (pickles are called gherkins in England!)
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • pepper, pinch of garlic salt

Directions: Mix ingredients for tartar sauce in a small bowl. Serve with M&S gluten-free salmon cakes (baked in the oven, according to the package) and with fresh lemon slices.

Recipe: Homemade Sushi

IMG_2658This weekend, we had a sushi-making party at our house, and we made several types of sushi rolls, including salmon, tamago (egg omelet) , and spicy tuna. I’ve been into sushi-making for awhile – I took Japanese for four years in high school, and often made sushi for class projects. It was really fun to share my sushi tips with housemates, and the sushi we made was probably the best sushi in Oxford (there’s not much competition here).

I bought the fish at a local fishmonger that is located in the Oxford Covered Market, and it was extremely fresh. I looked for fish that was smooth and uniform in color.

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Fresh slices of raw salmon – yum!

Ingredients :

  • white rice
  • sushi seasoning (a vinegar you pour on the rice after it’s done cooking)
  • fillings: fish, egg, avocado etc. (note that fake crab meat is NOT gluten free. It’s made of wheat)
  • sushi nori (seaweed sheets)
  • bamboo sushi mat

Directions for sushi rolls:

Cook at least 3 cups of rice until soft, and add sushi seasoning when cooked.

Put it in a bowl to cool (you can’t begin making sushi until the rice is room temperature –  it burns your hands and shrinks the seaweed). Next, prepare your fillings – cut the fish into strips, slice the avocado, and fry the egg. One of my favorite sushi fillings is “spicy tuna”. To make this filling, mix fresh tuna (1 piece)  with sliced green onions, a tablespoon of mayonnaise, and about a tablespoon of sriracha hot sauce.

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The filling for “spicy tuna” rolls

To make the sushi, place one sheet of nori on a sushi mat, and follow these directions for placing ingredients and rolling the sushi into rolls.

A couple of pointers: make sure you wet your fingers before adding rice/fillings to the nori. Otherwise, everything sticks to your hands. I find that the hardest part of making sushi is actually cutting the rolls. I use a very sharp knife, and make sure I dip the knife into water before I make each slice. This is definitely not traditional or professional, but it allows you to make a pretty roll.

Serve with gluten-free soy sauce and wasabi.

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Our sushi feast!

Directions for nigiri:

You can also make “nigiri” or stand alone pieces of sushi. To do this, cut your fish into thin slices, and place them on top of a ball of sushi rice. This worked really well with the salmon.

Recipe: Breakfast Parfaits

IMG_2640Today, Jon and I woke up early to go on a morning run in a local park. I’m not going to lie – this is the first time this has ever happened. Jon bought a new pair of running shoes yesterday, so he was excited to try them out. After we got home, I whipped up some healthy breakfast (in case this sounds anti-feminist, the deal is that I usually cook in the mornings, and Jon handles all the dishes). One of my favorite breakfast treats is a yogurt parfait. Today I made them with gluten-free granola, greek yogurt, artisanal maple syrup from my family’s farm in New Hampshire, and kiwis and bananas (this was just fruit I had lying around. You can use anything!).

For gluten-free folks, finding delicious breakfast cereal can be a challenge. I personally really like the Sainsbury’s wheat-free granola (from the UK), and that’s what I used in the parfaits. It has crispy faux-oat flakes, nuts, and raisins.

Ingredients

  • gluten-free granola
  • greek yogurt
  • maple syrup (it’s difficult to find in the UK. You can substitute honey)
  • fruit (I used kiwi and bananas, but you can use anything, including delicious raspberries)
  • a mason jar

Directions: Pour a small layer of granola in the jar. Top with a small layer of yogurt, then a small pour of maple syrup, and then fruit. Repeat one more time until you fill up the glass. make sure that the top layer is fruit – it looks prettiest.

Recipe: “Ghanaian” Jollof rice

IMG_2627I spent ten weeks in a small town in Ghana last summer when I was conducting research for my masters degree thesis. I was a little worried about finding gluten-free vegetarian food I could eat there, so before I left, I asked one of my Ghanaian friends, Isak, for recommendations. He gave me great advice, and highly recommended two traditional dishes: “red-red” (a mix of spicy beans served with fried plantains) and  jollof rice (a rice dish with tomato and spices).

I really liked both dishes. Because I didn’t have access to a kitchen in Ghana, I had to eat all my meals at local restaurants in town. I tried out several different types of jollof, and liked it best when the rice was soft, and came with several types of vegetables.

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This is the best jollof dish I had in a restaurant in Ghana. It was served with char-grilled squid.

I’ve tried to replicate jollof rice at home, and this is my best guess at a recipe. However, I’m sure many Africans will disagree with my directions. As this Guardian article points out, the recipe for the dish varies a lot between West African countries.

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A view of Accra, Ghana, from the Jamestown Lighthouse

Ingredients:

  • one onion, diced
  • two medium hot peppers, diced (I tried making the dish with hot peppers once, and that was a MISTAKE)
  • chopped carrots
  • tomato paste
  • vegetable stock cube
  • 2 cups of white rice
  • 4 cups of water
  • oil (for cooking)
  • garlic salt (for garnish).

Directions: In a cooking pot, fry the onion and peppers until soft. Add the chopped carrots and cook for approximately 3 more minutes. Next, add the stock cube and 4 cups of water, along with a generous portion of tomato paste (approximately 1/4 cup). Add the rice, cover and cook until soft (approximately 15 minutes). When the rice is cooked, add garlic salt for additional flavor, and more tomato paste, as needed. Serve with fish, or a simple omelet for protein.

Awesome Links: Vegetarian Cooking Blog from Tanzania

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One of my good friends from England recently moved to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, where she is working as a pastry chef. She’s been blogging about her experiences, and sharing some of her favorite vegetarian recipes with readers of the site.

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Here’s a map of Tanzania, for anyone shaky with African geography.

A lot of what she cooks isn’t gluten-free, but there are a few recipes that are including:

Red Pepper rolls: These are just incredible. When I made them, I left out the pine nuts and olives, for added simplicity.

 

Spicy Arrabiata Sauce :I make this a lot, but often leave out the cornflour, as I find it’s think enough as is. The sauce is also really great as a gazpacho-esque soup.

Did you try some of the recipes? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

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