Tag archive for "Daring Cooks"

A Double Challenge! Curried Lentil Love Burgers

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A Double Challenge! Curried Lentil Love Burgers

13 Comments 14 February 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Daring Cooks’ February 2012 challenge was hosted by Audax & Lis, and they chose to present patties for their ease of construction, ingredients, and deliciousness! We were given several recipes and learned the different types of binders and cooking methods to produce our own tasty patties!

I decided to combine this challenge with another challenge.  This month I’m hosting Go Ahead Honey…It’s Gluten-Free, the brilliant creation of Naomi Devlin of Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried.  Since February is the month of love and passion, what could be more passionate than hot, spicy, and heart-shaped foods?

I’ve challenged readers to create something that’s Hot, Spicy, and Heart-Shaped.  So when I read The Daring Cooks’ February challenge, I knew exactly what to make.

Love Patties!

I started by cooking onions, mushrooms, carrots, and zucchini.

And I cooked up some lentils in vegetable stock.

Then I used the food processor to mix up the remaining ingredients and add the hot and spicy love.  Curry, tumeric, and a heart-shaped cookie cutter turned these veggie burgers into Love Burgers.

Browned on each side in grapeseed oil, a few at a time, I was able to make about 12 heart-shaped patties.

Each one looked unique, but they tasted absolutely delicious!

What a perfect Valentine’s dinner!

Curried Lentil Love Burgers

by Heather


  • 2 T. grapeseed oil, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • One 10-ounce container baby bella mushrooms, shredded
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 1 c. cooked lentils
  • 1 c. almond meal
  • 1/2 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1 T. curry
  • 1 tsp. tumeric
  • 1 tsp. sea salt


1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onions.  Cook until onions have softened.

2.  Meanwhile, place mushrooms, carrot, and zucchini through the chute of the food processor using the shredder disc.  Add the veggies to the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes or until veggies are soft.

3.  Place veggies in a large bowl and allow to cool.

4.  Stir in cooked lentils, almond meal, sunflower seeds, curry, tumeric, and sea salt.  Then transfer all to a food processor.  Using the S blade, pulse until combined.  Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until it reaches burger consistency.

5.  Press a palmful of batter into a heart-shaped cookie cutter and release it onto a plate.

6.  Heat a tablespoon of grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the burgers until they brown on each side.

7.  Serve on Udi’s Gluten Free Hamburger Buns with or without ketchup, or you can eat it on top of a green salad.

Makes 8-12 burgers, depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

Readers, dish!

  • What is your favorite kind of patty?
  • Have you tried Udi’s Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns?

This recipe is linked to:

Daring Cooks Make Tamales!

GF Recipes, GF Resources

Daring Cooks Make Tamales!

26 Comments 14 January 2012

Imagine my excitement when I read that this month’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge had a Mexican theme!  You know that I have a love affair with all things cullinarily Mexican. Maranda of Jolts & Jollies was our January 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess with the mostest! Maranda challenged us to make traditional Mexican Tamales as our first challenge of the year!

I found it interesting that our local Whole Foods, which tends to carry produce from around the world, much of which I’ve never even heard of, did not carry dried corn husks. Before freaking out and making a trip to the city to check the International Market, I thought about the ethnic diversity of the people in my town.  I teach at an elementary school where 27% of our students are hispanic.  Surely, these families do not shop at Whole Foods to get ingredients for their ethnic dishes.  Where do they go?

Kroger.  Thank you, Kroger, for having a WALL of corn husks above the various fresh peppers in the produce section.

My corn husks, made in Mexico, even had a special addition.  I’ll let you guess what this is.


A small price to pay for authentic tamales.

I loved that I only needed to purchase a few products, aside from the corn husks. Everything else was fresh produce.

I started with Maranda’s suggested Vegan Tamale recipe and altered it with some delicious suggestions from Natalie of Tasty Kitchen, because I just can’t resist the combination of Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes!

First I soaked the corn husks overnight.

 The next day, the tamale making began.  I broiled two poblano peppers.

After removing the skins and chopping up the peppers, I roasted them with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, green onions, and green, yellow, and red peppers.

 I added the roasted veggies to black beans and tomatoes.

 Mixed together with cumin, the house soon smelled divine!

While the veggies cooled, I prepared the masa dough.  It was quite simple using the Kitchen Aid.

Masa harina, chili powder, cumin, salt, olive oil, and veggie broth quickly mixed into a dough that was easy to work with.

Spreading dough on the corn husks was made easier by pressing it firmly with a sandwich baggie.  Just a spoonful of filling and a quick wrap of the corn husk, and that’s all it took.

For ONE.  But I found it easier to assemble two at a time.

Yes, it took quite a while to roll 28 tamales.

Since I didn’t have the correctly-sized steamer, I placed a round cake pan at the bottom of my large spaghetti pot so my tamales would stay above the water line.

I peeled away the corn husk having no idea what to expect.  What a pleasant surprise to find that the tamale stayed together perfectly!  And the flavor was delicious.


Vegan Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tamales

Adapted from Squidoo and Natalie of Tasty Kitchen


  • 1 – 8 oz. bag dried corn husks, soaked


  • 2 poblano peppers, broiled, peeled, and chopped
  • 4 large mushrooms, sliced
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • 3 peppers (one yellow, red, and green), finely chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 – 15.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 – 14 oz. can diced tomato, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 c. chopped cilantro

For the masa dough:

  • 6 c. masa harina (I used Maseca instant masa mix.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 3 3/4 – 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1⁄2 tsp. sea salt


Prepare corn husks:

1.  Soak corn husks overnight.

2.  Take 3 large corn husks and tear them into 1⁄4 inch strips. Keep them in water until you are ready to use them to avoid breakage.

Prepare filling:

1.  Cut poblano peppers in half and seed them.  Brush with olive oil and broil until black spots form, 3-5 minutes.  Flip and broil the other side for 3-5 more minutes.  Peel skins off, and then chop the peppers.

2.  Combine chopped poblanos, sweet potato cubes, 1-2 c. of the tri-colored peppers, mushrooms, and the green onions.  Coat in 1 T. of olive oil and roast at 425 for 25-30 minutes on a foil-lined jelly roll pan.

3.  In a large wok or skillet, warm 1 T. olive oil over medium heat and saute garlic until it begins to brown.  Add black beans, tomatoes, roasted veggies, and cumin.  Stir in cilantro and remove from heat.

Prepare dough:

1.  Combine masa harina, salt, chili powder, cumin, and olive oil in an electric mixer on medium speed.

2.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly add vegetable broth.  After 3 3/4 cups, test the consistency of the dough and add more broth if needed.

Prepare tamales:

1.  Lay two corn husks on a flat surface.  Place 1/4 c. of dough at the top of a husk and flatten it.  Pressing down with a plastic bag will prevent your fingers from sticking to the dough.

2.  Place a heaping tablespoon of filling down the center of the dough.

3.  Roll the corn husk so it wraps snuggly around the dough and tie it with a corn husk strip.

4.  Stand the tamales up in a steamer.  Add 2 inches of water to the bottom of the pot and steam for an hour or until the dough pulls easily away from the husk.

5.  Share with LOTS of friends!

Makes 25-30 tamales

Great challenge, Maranda!  I look forward to seeing all of the creative tamale recipes that my Daring Cooks Friends come up with!

Other Mexican recipes you may enjoy:

Reader questions:
  • Have you ever made tamales?
  • What is your favorite Mexican dish?

These tamales are also shared at:

Daring Cooks Tea Creations: Brown Rice and Green Tea Porridge

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Daring Cooks Tea Creations: Brown Rice and Green Tea Porridge

9 Comments 14 November 2011

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess, and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

I love teas, but I have never cooked with them, so this challenge was perfect for me, especially with examples given like:

Doesn’t that get your creative juiced flowing?  Yummy.

But lately my tummy has needed a little rest.  Fresh juices and smoothies have given me much of the rest I’ve needed, and I was able to find a gentle, soothing, tea-inspired meal to complete this challenge as well.

I made this Brown Rice and Green Tea Porridge by Just Hungry because of her description of the dish.  She explained that the Japanese have a tradition of eating rice porridge after the New Year’s feasting period, to rest the stomach and to bring the body back into balance.  Since that is exactly what I was after, I knew I had found the answer to my challenge.

With these simple ingredients, how could the belly not be happy?

The secret to the unique flavor of the porridge is cooking the brown rice and lentils with green tea bags.

Simmer for an hour for a gentle meal that has a subtle green tea flavor.

You must have some right off the stove, but the leftovers are wonderful reheated.

Brown Rice and Tea Porridge with Lentils

(renzu mame iri genmai chagayu)

by Just Hungry (original recipe here)


  • 1 c. brown rice
  • 1/4 c. firm green or brown lentils
  • 3 green tea bags
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Water


1.  Rinse the brown rice in cold water.

2.  Put the rice in a heavy pan with 6 cups of water and salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to low, and add the tea bags and lentils.

3.  Cover with a lid, and let it slowly simmer for about an hour or more, stirring occasionally.

4.  Remove the tea bags. If the consistency is too watery for you, turn up the heat and simmer with the lid off, to allow some of the water to evaporate.

5.  Serve as is, for a very subtly flavored porridge, or mix in dried fruit, nuts, or seeds.

Yields 5-6 cups

Happy tummy.

Have you ever tried cooking with tea?

Daring Cooks Make Moo Shu

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Daring Cooks Make Moo Shu

10 Comments 14 October 2011

I am usually terrified when starting the monthly Daring Cooks’ Challenge, but this month I was really excited to jump right in and get started.  The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry, and sauce.  I love to stir fry, flip pancakes, and experiment with sauces. In addition, I love Chinese food, but I rarely make it myself.  This challenge would give me an excuse to enjoy all of this in one meal.

I don’t eat pork, and I wanted to try a vegetarian version of the Moo Shu, so I replaced the pork with portobello mushrooms.  The deep earthy taste blended beautifully with the rest of the ingredients.

I was a little nervous about the thin pancakes, because I knew I’d have to figure out a way to make them gluten-free.  But substituting one of my favorite gluten-free all-purpose mixes from the Aherns did the trick.

Stir frying in my favorite wok is always a great experience.  I’ve learned that cooking is so much more enjoyable when you have the right tools.

It really couldn’t have been easier, unless I had a prep cook to do the chopping.  (Sadly, the Husband was out of town.)

Vegetarian Moo Shu:

adapted from Chinese Kitchen
by Deh-Ta Hsiung

  • Serves 4
  • Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 6-8 minutes


  • 3 large portobello mushrooms cut in large slices
  • 3⁄4 c. bamboo shoots
  • 3 c. Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), thinly cut
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2 scallions, sliced in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 T gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice wine
  • A few drops sesame oil
  • 12 thin pancakes to serve


1. Thinly cut the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and cabbage.

2. Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a preheated wok and scramble the eggs until they set. Remove and keep to one side.

4. Heat the remaining oil and stir-fry the mushrooms, bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage, and scallions.  Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining salt, soy sauce, and rice wine. Blend well and continue stirring for another 2 minutes.

5. Add the scrambled eggs, stirring to break them into small bits. Add the sesame oil and blend well.

6. To serve, place about 2 tablespoons of hot Moo Shu in the center of a warm pancake, rolling it into a parcel with the bottom end turned up to prevent the contents from falling out. Dip in hoisin sauce, and eat with your fingers.

Now for the thin pancakes.  The recipe was surprisingly simple, and substituting the gluten-free flour didn’t seem to make a difference at all.

I was a little hungry and didn’t quite care about perfectly round pancakes.

I halved the original recipe to fit the serving size of the Moo Shu.

Thin Pancakes

adapted from Chinese Kitchen by Deh-Ta Hsiung

  • Makes 12-15 pancakes
  • Preparation time: about 10 minutes plus 30 minutes’ standing time
  • Cooking time: 25-30 minutes



1. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Gently pour in the water while stirring and add the oil. Knead the mixture into a soft but firm dough. If the dough is dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, to reach the right consistency. Cover with a damp towel and let stand for about 30 minutes.

2. Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until smooth, then divide into small balls that would fit in the palm of your hand.  Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with a lightly damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out.

3. Press each piece into a flat pancake. Dust the worktop with more dry flour. Flatten each pancake into a 6 to 8 inch (15 cm to 20 cm) circle with a rolling pin, rolling gently on both sides.

4. Place an un-greased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and place the pancakes, one at a time, in the pan. Remove when little light-brown spots appear on the underside. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.

The Moo Shu was delicious!  Well, Marcy didn’t appreciate the vegetarian nature of the dish, but she was sure to find a central viewpoint in the kitchen just in case something struck her fancy.
Sorry, girl.

So, where’s the sauce, you ask?  After my meal was perfectly plated, and thoroughly savored, I reread the challenge and saw that we were required to make a sauce to compliment the Moo Shu!  Thankfully, there were plenty of leftovers with which to try a hoisin sauce.  Sadly, no pictures though.

Hoisin Sauce

adapted from epicurean.com


  • 4 T gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. peanut butter
  • 1 T molasses
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp sesame seed oil
  • 1⁄4 tsp Chinese style hot sauce
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper


Mix all of the ingredients together by hand. Be patient.  At first it does not appear like it will mix, but keep at it just a bit longer and your sauce will come together.

So, what did I think?  The Moo Shu filling was delicious.  That recipe is definitely a keeper. The thin pancakes worked, but the taste was rather bland.  After all, they’re just made from flour and water.  I think next time I make Moo Shu, I’ll be wrapping it in a brown rice tortilla. And the hoisin sauce?  Rich and yummy.

Thanks for the challenge, Shelley and Ruth!  I can definitely say that I never would have made Moo Shu without the support of my Daring Cooks Family!

What’s your favorite Asian-inspired dish?

Have you ever made Moo Shu?

Daring Cooks’ Make Consommé

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Daring Cooks’ Make Consommé

9 Comments 14 September 2011

I was thrilled to see that The Daring Cooks were challenged to make consommé, because ever since my trip to San Miguel, consommé has been on my list of foods to recreate.  Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”.  We were taught the difference between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear consommé if we so chose to do so, and we were encouraged us to share our own delicious soup recipes!

Why was I so thrilled?

In San Miguel, I was presented with this bowl.

And when I asked, “Que es?”  I was answered with a beautiful word pronounced in an even more beautiful Spanish accent, “Consommé.”

Although the word was beautiful, that answer didn’t help me, because I didn’t know what consommé was.  It looked like chicken broth, but apparently there was something special about this soup that set it apart from broth.  Thanks to the Daring Cooks, now I know what it is.

Here’s the short version:  someone spent an entire day in the kitchen to make the most amazing broth ever.  In my eyes, that’s consommé.

In San Miguel, after we were served this consommé, this beautiful platter was passed around the table.

Thankfully, I was able to watch the host to see that this gorgeous assortment was to be used as toppings for the consommé.

And the warm, crispy corn tortillas were to crumble on top.

I dream about this soup.

And I fully intended to make this soup when I heard about the Daring Cooks’ Challenge.

While going through consommé recipes, I found a vegetarian recipe that I thought would work perfectly.  It did.  In fact, it worked more than perfectly.  When I took the stock to the consommé step and the tasted the deep, rich flavor, I knew it was all wrong for my San Miguel recreation.  I followed Peta’s recipe for Vegetarian French Onion Consommé, and this consommé was too sweet for a spicy Mexican soup, but it was incredible!  I’ll have to save the San Miguel challenge for another day.

I’ll share my process of making consommé, and I’ll end with Peta’s recipe.

Step one:  Chop, chop, chop.

Step Two:  Sweat the vegetables.

Step Three:  Cover with cold water and simmer for 1-2 hours.  I ended up simmering for two hours since it took so long to do steps 5, 6, and 7!

Step Four:  Strain the broth from the veggies.  (The recipe says to discard the veggies, but there was no way I was going to throw away pounds of organic vegetables!  See my solution at the end.)

Step Five (or in my case…meanwhile):  Caramelize 2 pounds of onions.  This took over an hour, but the result tasted like candy! After deglazing the pan with white wine, add thyme, bay leaves, mustard, and the stock.

Then strain the soup AGAIN.

(It’s a good thing I have lots of strainers.  But what I don’t have is counter space.  I had a makeshift dish rack on the floor made from a laundry basket lined with a towel.  I thought my solution was ingenious!)

Step Six:  Fry field mushrooms and let them cool.

Step Seven:  Create the “raft”.  I learned that the raft is the key to making consommé.  Peta explained that “a raft is a mixture of finely chopped vegetables and egg whites whisked vigorously into simmering broth and cooked over a low heat so that the proteins coagulate and form a ‘raft’ on the surface that traps the impurities (but not the flavor) of the broth thereby clarifying it.”

Step Eight:  Whisk the mushroom mixture into the stock, and allow the raft to form.  Skim off the bubbles and foam that arise through the hole in the raft.

My raft was partially successful.

It was successful in that I was able to ladle out and filter a bowlful of the most delicious, clear soup nectar that I’ve ever tasted.  But I think around hour five I had just about tapped my patience reserve.  I used a coffee filter to make sure that the very last impurities were removed from my bowl of consommé, and I was not about to repeat that process with the contents of the entire stock pot.

So I ended up making three different soups.  First, I have amazingly pure French Onion Consommé that tastes incredible.  Second, I replaced the caramelized onions in leftover consommé to create another French Onion Soup.  And third, I used the “discarded” stock veggies to make a Creamy South Asian Vegetable Soup.

We were also challenged to make an accompaniment for our soup.  Since I’m not eating baked breads, I thought this was a good time to try a raw bread recipe by Ani Phyo that my friend, Diane, shared with me.  This subtly flavored bread complimented the flavorful consommé perfectly.

Creamy South Asian Vegetable Soup

by Heather


  • Leftover stock vegetables
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 T. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper


1.  Puree all vegetables in a Vita-mix.  Add water as needed to achieve desired consistency.  (I did not add any water as there was enough stock in the bottom of my discard bowl.)

2.  Add lemon juice, garam masala, salt, and pepper, and blend again to mix through.

And should you ever desire to make the most flavorful consommé ever, try this far more challenging recipe!

Vegetable French Onion Consommé

by Peta, of Peta Eats


Step 1 – Stock

  • 5 litres (5 quarts) water
  • 400 gm (14 oz) onions, about 4 medium
  • 400 gm (14 oz) carrots, about 6 medium
  • 200 gm (7 oz) celery, about 4 large ribs
  • 2 leeks
  • 50 gm (13⁄4 oz) dried mushrooms, about 12
  • 250 gm (9 oz) tomatoes, about 2 medium
  • 200 gm (7 oz) broccoli stalk, two large stalks
  • bouquet garni

Step 2 – enriching your stock to a bouillon

  • 80 gm (51⁄2 tablespoons) (3 oz) butter (I used olive oil.)
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) brown onions, sliced in rings
  • 20gm (11⁄2 tablespoons) (3⁄4 oz) brown sugar (I used agave nectar)
  • 60 ml (4 tablespoons) cognac or port (I did not use any.)
  • 200 ml (3⁄4 cup + 1 tablespoon) red or white wine (I used 1 cup of white wine.)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 30 gm (2 tablespoons) (1 oz) Dijon mustard
  • 2 litres (2 quarts) mushroom/vegetable stock

Step 3 – Consommé (Using the egg white raft technique)

  • 1 clove garlic – finely minced
  • 500 gm (1 lb) dark coloured field mushrooms (I used portabella.”
  • 2 large egg whites – beaten
  • 1 cup crushed ice


Step 1 – Stock

1. Sweat the vegetables in the oil or butter until soft. Add the dried mushrooms.

2. Cover with cold water.

3. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat.

4. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, skimming foam from surface, for 1-2 hours.

5. Strain stock through a muslin-lined sieve. Discard solids.

Step 2 – Soup

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan and add the onions.

2. Add sugar and a little salt to help the caramelization process.

3. Cook over medium to low heat until the onions caramelize to dark brown. Stir regularly. This can take hours so don‟t be tempted to increase the heat to speed it up.

4. Deglaze the pan with cognac, port and wine and then pop in a couple of sprigs of thyme, bay leaves and the mustard and cook together.

5. Pour in the stock and reheat.

6. To make this soup into a consommé proceed to Step 3.

7. For the soup – taste it and adjust the seasonings.

8. It is now time to either strain out the solid bits or blend the whole lot or if you like chunky bits don’t bother. Ladle into hot bowls.

Step 3 – Consommé (clarified with egg whites)

1. Fry the mushrooms until brown and cooked. Allow any juices to cook off.

2. Add garlic and cook gently for 1 minute. You don’t want any burnt bits it will make your stock bitter.

3. Strain off any fat or remaining juices.

4. Allow the mushrooms to cool. (This is so your egg whites don’t cook.)

5. Strain the soup to remove onions etc.

6. Place egg whites in a bowl. This is the time to taste your stock and decide if it needs salt and pepper. Add seasoning to the egg whites.

7. Whisk the whites to a bubbly froth and add the crushed ice.

8. Add the cooked mushrooms. Mix together.

9. Add this mixture to the simmering stock. Whisk for a slow count of three.

10. Let it heat slowly back to a simmer. Don’t stir it again.

11. The raft is a delicate thing. It is vital it doesn’t break apart.  (If it breaks apart it will all mix back into the soup, and you’ll have to start again with the egg whites.)  You want to bring it up to a simmer very slowly. Keep a close eye on it. I try to push the middle back so I get a good hole. Once the raft is substantial, break a little hole in it if there isn’t already one.

12. As the consommé simmers, you will see bubbles and foam come up through your hole. Skim it off and throw it away. When the bubbles stop coming and the consommé looks clear underneath, then you’re ready to take it out. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for ten minutes.

13. Removing the consommé from underneath the raft is another nerve racking procedure. You want to break as little of the raft as possible, but you have to get underneath it to remove the liquid.

14. Enlarge your hole with a ladle and spoon it all out as gently as you can.

15. You can strain it if you want to, but hopefully the liquid is clear. Once you’ve removed all of the consommé from the pot, discard the raft. If you have never made a consommé before ,Victory dances and loud cheering are totally appropriate.

16. Now you are ready to serve.

What a wonderful challenge!  Thank you, Peta!

Have you ever made consommé?  I’d love to hear about it!

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Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Appam and Curry

18 Comments 14 August 2011

Every month I wait anxiously for the announcement that reveals the Daring Cooks Challenge.  I can’t wait to find out how this challenge is going to stretch me as a cook. Inevitably, as I read the challenge, my heart sinks.  I think, “How in the world am I going to pull it off this month.  I barely succeeded with last month’s challenge.”  But I always learn something, whether it’s about a new ingredient, a new cooking technique, or a new cuisine, I learn, and I grow.

This month was no different.  In fact, I was so terrified about the challenge that I put it off until the last possible day.  You see, Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is.  She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.  But this flatbread required a soaking and fermenting process that freaked me out enough to put the challenge on the back burner.

The flatbread is called Appam, and it requires soaking rice, blending it with yeast, and letting it ferment for 8-12 hours until the batter is ready.  Not a good idea to leave something to the last minute when fermenting is involved.  But, thankfully, once the batter was made, the appam itself was incredibly easy to make.

Just swirl the batter in a small skillet,

cover, and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes,

and you have this wonderful yeasty flat bread that is naturally gluten-free.

No flipping like pancakes, just a two minute cook time, and the bread slides out of the pan ready for its Sri Lankan accompaniment.

Servings: Makes about 15.


  • 1 ½ cups (360 ml/300 gm/10½ oz) raw rice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml/5 gm) active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
  • ½ cup (120 ml) of coconut water or water, room temperature
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (22½ ml/18 gm) cooked rice
  • ½ teaspoon (2½ ml/3 gm) salt
  • about ½ cup (120 ml) thick coconut milk (from the top of an unshaken can)


1. Soak the raw rice in 4 to 5 cups of water for 3 hours.

2. Dissolve the sugar in the coconut water or plain water and add the yeast. Set aside in a warm area for 10-15 minutes, until very frothy.

3. Drain the rice and grind it in a blender with the yeast mixture to make a smooth batter. You can add a bit of extra water if needed.  Add the cooked rice, and grind/blend to combine well.

4. Pour into a large bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 8-12 hours. You not only want the mixture to rise and collapse, but to ferment. When it is ready, it will have a slightly sour and distinctly yeasty smell.

5. Add the coconut milk and salt, and a bit of water if necessary, so that you have a batter that is just a bit thicker than milk. Notice how it bubbles after you add the coconut milk.

6. Heat your pan over medium heat. Wipe a few drops of oil over it with a paper towel. (I used coconut oil.)  Stir the batter and pour in 3-4 tablespoons, depending on the size of the pan. Working quickly, hold the handle, and give the pan a quick swirl so that the batter comes to the top edge. Swirl once only, as you want the edges to be thin and lacy.

7. Cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Uncover and check. The center should have puffed up a bit and will be shiny but dry to the touch. When ready, loosen the edges with a small spatula and serve immediately. These need to be served hot out of the pan.

8. Make another, and another.

9. Leftover batter can be refrigerated for a day or two.

Mary gave several suggestions for South Indian dishes, and since I’ve been enjoying vegetarian meals lately, I latched on to her suggestion of Carrots with Tropical Flavors.  The only problem was that it called for 8 fresh curry leaves.  I had curry powder, but I had no idea where to even start looking for curry leaves.  I asked a produce worker at Whole Foods who suggested that I look in the dried spice aisle.  Then I asked another clerk stocking produce, just because we were making small talk over the tomatoes.  I wondered if maybe he knew something that the other clerk didn’t.  I had no idea that he would go right to the produce worker that I had already talked to in order to find out if they carried fresh curry leaves.  I didn’t get an “evil eye” from the guy, because they don’t do that at our Whole Foods, but I did kind of avoid eye contact and slink away.

I called the Husband, who works in Nashville just miles from the International Market, and I asked him if he could stop and find some fresh curry leaves.

H:  What do they look like?

Me:  I have no idea.

H:  How do you suggest I find them?

Me:  Stand in the middle of the market and yell, “Who has some curry leaves?”

Apparently, he didn’t have to do that, because within minutes, a worker stocking shelves told him to ask the man behind the register for fresh curry leaves.  The Husband asked the man behind the counter for 8 curry leaves, following his dear wife’s request, and he proceeded to pull out 8 bags of unmarked greens. Thankfully the Husband was able to see that it was entirely too much greenery for any recipe, challenge or not, and he bought one bag.

Then he called me.  I was in the midst of prep cooking.

H:  You’d better google this, because I’m not so sure I bought what you want.  I may have just bought marijuana or a weed that someone found in their backyard.

Me:  Open the bag and sniff it.  Does it smell like Indian spices?

H:  Everything here smells like Indian spices.

Thankfully, the Husband had not purchased anything illegal, but I only needed 8 little leaves, and this is just a portion of what he brought home.

All for a whopping 90 cents.

But it made an incredible carrot side dish.

When it starts with sauteing curry leaves, chiles, and shallots, how could the end result not be amazing?

Carrots with Tropical Flavors
Servings: 4 as a side dish


  • 1 pound (½ kg) carrots, about 5 medium, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
  • about 8 fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml/15 gm) minced seeded green cayenne chiles
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml/27 gm) minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) rice vinegar (I used lime juice)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml/6 gm) salt
  • ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml/1 gm) sugar
  • ½ cup (120 ml) coconut milk
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) water
  • coarse salt, optional
  • cilantro (coriander) leaves to garnish

1. Julienne or coarsely grate the carrots. Set aside.

2. Place a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then add half of the curry leaves, the chiles and the shallots. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring.

3. Add the carrots, stir, and add the vinegar, salt, sugar and mix well. Increase the heat and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until they give off a bit of liquid.

4. Add the water and half of the coconut milk and bring to a fast boil. Stir, cover tightly and cook until just tender, 5-10 minutes, depending on size. Check to ensure the liquid has not boiled away, and add a little more water if it is almost dry.

5. Add the remaining coconut milk and curry leaves. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with coarse salt and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

6. Transfer to a plate and serve hot or at room temperature.

But I had to make one more dish, and this recipe on Epicurious caught my eye.

South Indian Vegetable Curry
Bon Appetit May 2008


  • 1 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 (2-inch-long 1-inch-diameter) piece peeled fresh ginger (about 2 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala*
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 serrano chile, seeded, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves**
  • 2 whole green cardamom pods
  • 1 pound red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 12 ounces russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/4 cups finely grated peeled fresh coconut (about 4 ounces; grated in processor)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 tomatoes, cored, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces baby spinach leaves (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

* An Indian spice mixture; available in the spice section of supermarkets and at Indian markets.

** Leaves of the kaffir lime tree; sold frozen or sometimes fresh at Asian markets. If unavailable, substitute 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel for each lime leaf.


1.  Puree the first 7 ingredients in a food processor until a paste forms. Cook in a large pot over medium heat until it’s aromatic, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste. Cook until the mixture starts to darken and brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes longer.

2.  Add broth, brown sugar, lime leaves, and cardamom. Simmer 10 minutes, stirring often and scraping up browned bits.

3.  Add sweet potatoes, potatoes, coconut, carrots, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to mixture in pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Add spinach, if desired, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard the lime leaves and cardamom.

4.  Transfer curry to a bowl; garnish with cilantro and serve.

But this recipe called for another ingredient that I had never used before.

Cardamom pods

Shockingly, I forgot to discard the cardamom pods, but thankfully I was the lucky receptor of both of them!

I am now a huge fan of South Indian dishes, I know what curry leaves are, and I also know that leftover appam tastes incredible with almond butter and jelly.  So, I’m considering this Daring Cooks’ Challenge to be a complete success.  In fact, I do believe that this is my favorite challenge yet!

  • What is your favorite South Indian meal?
  • Have you ever had appam?
  • What is them strangest ingredient you’ve ever used in a recipe?
Daring Cooks’ Challenge:  My Noodle Hands!

GF Recipes

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: My Noodle Hands!

15 Comments 14 July 2011

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

No mixer, no food processor, no motorized tools — sounded like a great challenge to me! And, of course, my challenge would be even greater because of my need to make gluten-free noodles.  I’d made gluten-free ravioli before, but that recipe definitely required a food processor.  I needed a new gluten-free pasta recipe, so I turned to my friend Carol from Simply Gluten-Free.

I remembered that Carol had posted a recipe for Gluten-Free Fresh Pasta using the following flours, starches, and gum.

(Please see Carol’s blog for the exact recipe and other gluten-free delights.)

Her dough worked beautifully!  I was thrilled that I was able to hand mix the ingredients into a dough ball instead of the sticky mess that I’m used to with gluten-free doughs.

I borrowed a hand-crank pasta maker from a friend.  After thoroughly cleaning off the glutenous flour residue with a toothbrush for about an hour, I felt comfortable enough to use it.  I even threw my first few handfuls of pasta away to ensure that any remaining gluten had stuck to my dough and would not be ingested.

I had a little trouble getting the dough to work nicely with the pasta maker, but I did get a few good batches of noodles.

And I also got some noodles that clumped into a pile and stuck together.

I even tried the pizza cutter method.

I eventually made enough noodles to create a meal, but the noodles needed time to dry.  I tried the traditional pasta rack.

But within minutes my beautiful noodles were stretching, breaking in two, and falling to the table below.

So I dried the noodles on a flat surface.

Having had entirely too much fun for one day, I decided that we were having smoothies for dinner and postponed our homemade noodle dinner until the next day.

With a fresh perspective and a pile of quirky dried noodles, I was ready to start dinner.  The pasta cooked nicely, and in no time I had a gorgeous plate of noodles.

Although they were a little thicker than regular pasta, they were quite tasty.

I whipped up a little of what I like to call, “What’s On Hand Pesto” for my sauce.  This time it was a walnut pesto because we were out of pine nuts.  It was so delicious!

Walnut Pesto
adapted from The Pesto Template by Karina at Gluten-Free Goddess


  • 1 c. basil
  • 1 c. parsley
  • 1/2 c. walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt


Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until creamy.  Adjust the amount of olive oil depending on the desired consistency.

Topped with my Walnut Pesto, this meal was delicious.

Thanks, Steph, for a great challenge.  Thanks, Carol, for a great noodle recipe.  And thanks, Karina, for your pesto template.  I guess this was a group challenge!

  • Have you ever made homemade pasta?
  • What is your favorite gluten-free noodle recipe?
  • What’s the most challenging recipe you’ve made in the kitchen without an appliance?

To order any of the products I used click here:

Let’s Do…Organic Organic Tapioca Starch
Arrowhead Mills Organic Millet Flour
Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch
Bob’s Red Mill GF Sweet White Rice Flour
Bob’s Red Mill Xanthan Gum

The Walnut Pesto is linked to Grain-Free Real Food Linky Carnival hosted by Jill of Real Food Forager

Daring Cooks’ Challenge:  Gumbo

GF Recipes

Daring Cooks’ Challenge: Gumbo

18 Comments 14 May 2011

Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo!  She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

I’ve never enjoyed gumbo, so I’d never attempted to make it before.  But apparently I’ve not had authentic gumbo, because John Besh’s gumbo is incredible!  We had a choice between making seafood gumbo or chicken and sausage gumbo, and since I can’t eat animals that look like what they are, I went with the chicken.  I also don’t eat pork, so I used spicy turkey sausage instead.

I began the adventure by making the creole spice.  I’m so glad I have a lot left over.  This mixture will be great in stews and skillets.

Basic Creole Spices

From My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh
Makes ½ cup


2 T celery salt
1 T sweet paprika
1 T coarse sea salt
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground allspice


Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.

I was intrigued by one main gumbo ingredient.  Okra.  I’d never actually eaten okra before, so the adventure into new territory continued!

Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Minimally adapted from My New Orleans:

The Cookbook, by John Besh

Serves 10-12


1 c canola oil
1 c gluten-free flour
2 large onions, diced
1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
2 T Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows)
2 lbs spicy turkey sausage, sliced ½ inch thick
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 quarts Chicken Stock
2 bay leaves
2 c sliced okra, ½ -inch thick slices
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Filé powder, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
4-6 c cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)


1. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.

2. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.

3. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

(There are NO pictures of the roux, because it never looked quite right.  I don’t own a cast iron skillet, and I know that was a crucial part of the process.)

4. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.
5. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
6. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.
7. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
8. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
9. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
10. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.

11. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.

I loved the Louisiana White Rice recipe.  The olive oil and onions gave the rice a delicious, sweet creaminess.

Basic Louisiana White Rice

Adapted from My New Orleans:

The Cookbook, by John Besh
Servings: About 4 cups


1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1½ c Louisiana White Rice (or another long-grain white rice)
3 c Chicken Stock
1 bay leaf
1-2 pinches salt


1. Put the oil and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
4. Add the bay leaf and salt.
5. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.

Gumbo was a big success!  And I’m glad we like it, because I didn’t notice the “serves 10-12” until I realized that the pots and pans I own were way too small to contain all of the ingredients!  So we’ll be eating gumbo all week!  Anyone want to come over for dinner???


Daring Cook’s Challenge:  Mini Bread Bowls and Avocado Spinach Soup

GF Recipes

Daring Cook’s Challenge: Mini Bread Bowls and Avocado Spinach Soup

23 Comments 14 April 2011

I was so thankful to learn that this month’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge would fit perfectly with my Raw Challenge!  Well, part of it would anyway.

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

I have always been enamored with bread bowls.  Before learning of my gluten intolerance my favorite comfort food at Bread & Company was tomato basil soup served in a thick bread bowl.  The soup would slowly soften the bread as I sipped away, eventually leaving me with perfectly saturated bread that I could eat to my heart’s and tummy’s content.  Oh, pure happiness!

But I’ve had a hard enough time making gluten-free breads that can hold sandwich fixings, I couldn’t even imagine making a bread that would hold soup!

So as soon as I read about this challenge, I knew that I had to figure out how to make a gluten-free bread bowl that would stand up.

I did come up with a delicious raw soup to put in my bread bowl in keeping with my Raw Challenge.  But for the bowl itself I used Risotteria’s Gluten-Free Breadstick and Pizza Dough Mix, one of my favorites.  I figured if this dough could handle the gobs of toppings that I put on my pizzas it just might be able to handle soup.

I prepared the mix as if making pizza, but I divided the dough into 12 balls.

I flattened each ball.

And I formed them to the reverse side of a buttered muffin tin.

The dough needed a quiet, warm place to rise.

Then I lightly brushed each bread bowl with olive oil and baked them until they were golden.

Twelve sturdy little bread bowls ready for the soup!

(Aren’t they adorable???)

I’ve served this Avocado Spinach Soup twice this week, once in the bread bowls for the Husband, and again without the bread for a raw food potluck.  It was a big hit with everyone. The creamy, cool avocado and the spicy cayenne provide a delicious contrast, and the color is just gorgeous.

I hope you enjoy it!

Avocado Spinach Soup
by Heather


  • 2 Avocados
  • 2 c. Spinach
  • 1/2 Cucumber, peeled
  • 1/4 c. Cilantro leaves (save a few for garnish)
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 T. Lime Juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/8 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 c. Water (or more for thinner soup)
  • 1 Tomato, seeded and chopped
  • Fresh Ground Pepper to taste


1.  Place the avocados through cayenne pepper in a blender.  Slowly add a cup of water and blend until smooth.  Add more water if you like a thinner soup.

2.  Pour the soup into bread bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves, chopped tomato, and a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper.

Serves 12 as appetizers or 4-6 as a meal

What is your favorite edible container?

This recipe is also linked to:


A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, fitness fanatic, gluten-free foodie, high-raw vegan, and Mama Cat living in NYC. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. While I'm not 100% vegan, it's my favorite way to eat, and making and sharing raw foods makes me giddy. Living in the City has its joys and challenges, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

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