gluten-free broccoli-zucchini pie

gluten free broccoli zucchini pie

I haven’t blogged in a week because I’ve been busy with dissertation revisions. The weather is still in that funny inbetween state, between winter and spring. It’s been a long cold winter that’s reached into spring and touched me with the sniffles.  What a bother! This pie I made on a whim and threw in the brown rice flour instead of wheat flour. Who’d a thought! It’s delicious, substantial,  and colorful too. 

Gluten-Free Broccoli-Zucchini Pie

Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6-8

2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup sweet bell pepper , chopped (I used yellow for color contrast, but red or green will do)
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (or dill, tarragon)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (or thyme, sage)
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon grated Peccorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup brown rice flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup fat free milk
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper to taste
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly spray a 9 inch pie dish with cooking spray.
Heat olive oil in a large dutch pot. When the oil is hot, add the broccoli and cook it until it is bright green and slightly wilted. Add the pepper and onion an cook until slightly softened. Add the zucchini and cook until softened slightly.
Mix broccoli, zucchini, peppers, onions, herbs and cheeses in a large bowl.
Sift flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Add milk, 1 teaspoon olive oil, beaten eggs, salt, pepper, to flour mixture in the bowl.
Combine flour mixture with vegetable mixture, and mix well. Scrape into prepared pie dish.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until knife comes out clean when pierced near the center. Let it stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

apple cake with crumb topping and mixed berry compote

apple cake with mixed berry compote

This recipe is a mash-up of  three recipes: Marie-Hélène’s apple cake, Martha Stewart’s crumb topping, and Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen’s Mixed Berry Compote. It is truly a Sunday morning treat, a mouthful of not-too-sweet hot apple with the crunch of cinnamon-sugar, the smooth caress of butter,  and the whole thing made cool with tart berries in sauce, a ruby-red eye-candy.

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake with crumb topping
I thought this cake had a nice light apple flavor. However, it looked pale and wan and underdone after 60 minutes in the oven. I think my caramel apple cake recipe has a better texture. The advantage of this recipe is that it doesn’t require a mixer, just 3 mixing bowls, a whisk, and a silicone spatula. 

Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

Apple Cake (adapted from Marie-Helene on Epicurious)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum (or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract plus 2 1/2 tablespoons water)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Martha Stewart’s Crumb Topping (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)

Crumb Topping
Mix all ingredients the except butter in a small bowl. Cut the butter into the sugar mixture with two knives until the butter is roughly the size of peas. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch spring form pan and set it aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks. Put apples in a large bowl of cold water so that they don’t discolor.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Here the advantage of using superfine sugar becomes apparent; it’s easier to incorporate because the crystals are finer than granulated sugar. Whisk in the rum and vanilla.

Cake Baker’s Note: I used 1 teaspoon vanilla because I didn’t have rum, then added 2 1/2 tablespoons water to the batter to keep the liquid measurements the same.

Whisk in half the flour until it is just incorporated, then add half the melted butter,mixing until it is just incorporate. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula so that it’s even, making sure the batter goes all the way to the sides.

Sprinkle the crumb topping on top. You might have left over crumb topping. Just refrigerate leftovers for future use on another apple cake, coffee cake, quick bread or muffins,

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 minutes.

Cake Baker’s Note: Test the cake after 50 minutes. If the tester comes out moist, let it bake another 10 minutes. It took 60 minutes with the topping.

Carefully run a thin blade around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. Check to be sure no apples are stuck to the sides. Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature, about 1 hour. To remove the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan bottom, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

Serving the cake
The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. I recommend a mixed berry compote in the recipe below.

Storing the cake
The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature. Leave the cake on a plate and just press a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper against the cut surfaces. After two days, it must be refrigerated.

Mixed Berry Compote (adapted from Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen)

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup powdered sugar (or granulated sugar or honey)
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Wash berries. Place in medium-sized saucepan. Add sugar and vanilla. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Add mixture of cornstarch and water to thicken sauce. Remove 1/3 to half of the compote ingredients and puree in blender about 5 seconds. Add back into compote. Heat through. Serve over pancakes, waffles, or ice cream. Makes 5-6 cups compote.

sesame chicken nuggets with sweet and spicy dipping sauces

Sesame Chicken Nuggets with Sweet Potato Fries

Sesame Chicken Nuggets with Panko Breadcrumbs

Prep time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves 4

For Chicken Nuggets
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/8 cup salt
Cold water to cover
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups panko bread crumbs (can use whole wheat panko)
4 tablespoons cilantro, minced
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon white pepper

Sweet Honey-Ginger Mustard Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons honey (substitute: agave syrup)
2 tablespoons mustard
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
Juice of half a lime (substitute: lemon)

Nam Jim Spicy Thai Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 scallions, minced
1 chili pepper, minced
1 garlic clove, minced, or pressed through a garlic press
Juice of half a lime (substitute: lemon)


1. In a large glass bowl, put the salt and fill 1/3 with cold water. Add the chicken breasts and fill with enough water to cover. Let the chicken brine for 2 hours. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauces and set aside.
2. Heat the oven to 400˚F. Line 2 large rimmed baking trays with sheets of aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
3. In a large pie plate, put the half cup olive oil and set aside. In another pie plate, put the breadcrumbs, cilantro and seasonings. Mix well. Set aside.
4. Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and slice into 1 1/2 inch cubes. Dip each chicken cube in the oil and then in the breadcrumb mixture. Lay each coated chicken piece in a single layer on the prepared baking trays.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve at once with the dipping sauces. I recommend serving the chicken nuggets with a fresh salad and sweet potato fries.

spring vegetable risotto

spring vegetable risotto

It’s a cool day today, perfect for this spring vegetable risotto. The time it took standing over the stove to tend lovingly to the rice was well worth it. The risotto has the crunch of asparagus and the tartness of lemon in it. The gremolata was refreshing–I could taste the mint, the parsley, and the lemon zest.

Spring Vegetable Risotto (America’s Test Kitchen)

Total prep and cook time: 2 hours
Servings: 4-6

• 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves, stems reserved
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves, stems reserved
• 1/2 teaspoon finely grated zest from 1 lemon
• 1 pound asparagus , tough ends snapped off and reserved, spears cut on bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces
• 2 medium leeks , white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and sliced thin (about 4 cups),
• 2 cups roughly chopped dark green leek leaves, reserved
• 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth)
• 3 cups water
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup frozen peas
• 2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
• 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
• 1 cup dry white wine
• 1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup), plus extra for serving
• 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon

Make the gremolata: Combine parsley and mint leaves and lemon zest in small bowl. Set aside.

Make the broth for the risotto: Chop tough asparagus ends and leek greens into rough 1/2-inch pieces. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring chopped green leek leaves, reserved parsley and mint stems, broth, and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan, pressing on the solids to strain as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Cover the strained broth and set the pan over very, very low heat to keep the broth warm.

Cook the asparagus and peas: Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter melts add the sliced  asparagus spears, a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender and bright green, for about 4 to 6 minutes. Add peas and continue to cook 1 minute more. Transfer vegetables to a plate and set aside.

Cook the rice (This is the long part):

  1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks (the white and pale green parts), garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, about 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3-4 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups of hot broth to the rice in the pot. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
  3. Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 3 or 4 times until rice is al dente. (Cook’s Note: It took just 3 additions of broth.) Turn off the heat, and stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice; gently fold in asparagus and peas. The consistency will be like a very thick congee. If the risotto is too dry for your taste,  add up to 1/4 cup hot broth to loosen the risotto. Serve hot, sprinkling each serving with gremolata and passing Parmesan, red pepper flakes, and fresh ground black pepper  separately.

homemade ginger ale

homemade ginger ale

Today was the first day of 2013 that I did not wear a coat outside! The temperature went up to 76 degrees. Summer comin’ fe true. So tonight for dinner I made homemade ginger ale to go with the pepperoni pan pizza I made almost-from scratch. I saved time by buying fresh pizza dough from Whole Foods today. The ginger ale recipe, which came from epicurious,  has the freshness and sharpness of ginger. It’s very refreshing and so easy to make.

Homemade Ginger Ale (from epicurious)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Rest time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4-6

1 1/2 cups fresh ginger root
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice
about 1 quart chilled unflavored club soda or seltzer

Peel the ginger root with a spoon. Slice it into rounds, cut each round into sticks, then dice the sticks. Put the diced ginger  a small saucepan and cover with 2 cups water. On a low simmer, cook the ginger and water for 45 minutes partially covered. I rested the lid on two wooden chopsticks. Remove the pan from heat. Cover the pot tightly and let the ginger and water steep for 20 minutes.

Pour the ginger and water through a sieve set over a large bowl. Using the back of a spoon, press the liquid out of the ginger. Discard the solids. Return the ginger liquid to the pot. Add the sugar and cook until all the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Cool the syrup then pour it into a glass jar and refrigerate.

When the syrup is chilled, get a tall drinking glass. In it, pour 1/4 cup syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice, and 3/4 cup club soda/seltzer. Mix and add ice cubes. This makes one serving.

tomato avocado mozzarella salad

tomato avocado and mozzarella salad

This salad can be served on a bed of chopped romaine lettuce too. I used fresh mozzarella cheese because it tastes better, and kalamata olives because the salad needed something sour. Emeril Lagasse’s Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette is easy to make too, full of flavor–I do love garlic. I made one addition to the vinaigrette– a tablespoon of Dean Ornish’s Little Italian Seasoning.

Tomato Avocado Mozzarella Salad (inspired by Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: —
Servings: 2-4


2 ripe Italian plum tomatoes
2 ripe avocados
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
4 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste


Chop the tomatoes and avocados. Put them in a medium bowl. Chop the cheese into 1 inch pieces and add to the bowl. Top with olives. Pour the vinaigrette over all and gently toss. Add salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic Vinaigrette (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: —


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon Little Italian Seasoning (recipe to follow)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar


In a small bowl or two cup measure, add the vinegar and oil. Use a garlic press to squeeze the garlic into the bowl or measure. Add the Little Italian Seasoning, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Whisk to emulsify the mixture. Store remainder, covered, in the refrigerator.

Little Italian (adapted from Dean Ornish)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: —

2 tablespoons each of:

  • dried basil
  • dried marjoram
  • dried oregano
  • ground coriander
  • dried thyme
  • dried rosemary
  • dried savory

2 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice


Blend all spices together and store in the refrigerator. Use it to flavor salad dressing, meat, chicken, or fish.