When in doubt, make soup!

Beef and Cabbage Stew 15

My parents are down in Florida and I’m looking after the house while they’re gone. This entailed cleaning out the fridge after they left, and so I arrived home with this oddment of groceries: 1 small zucchini, 4 wilted green onions, 2 baby bok choi, 9 multicoloured carrots, half a large sweet onion, half a large rutabaga, and half a large Savoy cabbage.

Beef and Cabbage Stew 1

Welp, that looks like a soup to me. Fortunately I had some stewing beef in the freezer which I chucked in the sink to defrost. Then I got to chopping.

Beef and Cabbage Stew 3

I also chopped up 1 head of garlic, and sautéed it with the onions in a large stockpot with a drop of olive oil until they were soft and sweet.

Beef and Cabbage Stew 4

Remember when cutting up rutabagas to be very careful. Slice off the top and bottom first so you have a flat surface to work on before you go after the skin, as it will be tough, especially if it’s been waxed.

Beef and Cabbage Stew 5

I added all the other chopped veg to the pot. I only scrubbed the carrots, didn’t peel them. All that vitamin-y goodness is in the skin and these are such tender carrots it seemed like a waste to remove the skin.

Beef and Cabbage Stew 6

Make sure to dry your beef before you brown it. It will make browning way quicker.

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I also like to dredge it in flour for a nice crust, and the flour will help thicken the stew as it cooks. You can use rice flour for a gluten-free option.

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Brown the meat until it has a nice seared edge all the way around.

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Then you can chuck that in the pot, too. I added about 8 cups water and two mini cups of concentrated beef bouillon, but go with whatever floats your boat.

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Give it a stir and set it to simmer for about 30-45 minutes, until the rutabagas are soft when you smush them with a spoon.

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I added in a pinch of ground nutmeg and cloves, as well as a few teaspoons of dried oregano. Add salt and pepper as well, if you like.

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To combat the bitterness of the cabbage I also added in a few tablespoons each of maple syrup and rice vinegar (it sounds weird, I know, but it works). You can also use cider vinegar.

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My scrumptious savoury stew!

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I shoved it into large freezer bags that I froze flat for easy storage. I can’t wait to haul one of these babies out in the dead of winter for some comfort food!

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Gluten-Free Pumpkin Dog Treats

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Dog Biscuits 19

This is the last pumpkin post, I swear.  We’re finally rid of it.  Fortunately, there is one member of our family who will never tire of pumpkin, and that is The Short and Spoiled One.

Experimenting with Animal Portrait Settings
Have we met?

This is a quick recipe that I put together with inspiration from Betty Crocker and Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups brown rice flour with 2 tablespoons ground flax meal (optional) and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  It occurs to me after the fact that you could also use a mixture of brown rice flour and quinoa flour, seeing as quinoa is the new superfood for dogs these days.  Very trendy of you.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Dog Biscuits 1

In another bowl, whisk together 2 large eggs with 1 3/4 cups (or 1 14 oz can) of pure pumpkin purée (not the pie filling) and 1/4 cup peanut butter (all natural, with no added salt or sugar, please).

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Dog Biscuits 2

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until a shaggy dough forms — you may need to use your hands.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Dog Biscuits 3

Sprinkle with more flour and stir that in if it’s still tacky.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Dog Biscuits 4

Take the dough and form it into a small ball with your palms.  Flatten it into a patty and place it on the baking sheet.  Angle your thumb sideways on one side of the cookie and press it into the dough.  Use the point of one of your fingers to make four indentations along the curve of your thumbprint.   So it looks like a wee paw print.  Cute, eh?

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Dog Biscuits 5

Bake for about 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of your cookie.  A finished cookie is crisp and dried out.

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Allow them to cool completely on a rack and store them in the fridge to keep them fresh for a couple weeks.  At room temperature in an airtight container they’ll keep for about a week.

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Gren obviously enjoyed testing them.  Here he is waiting for my okay.

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Scarfing down the first piece.

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Discovering the second.

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Scarfing that one too.

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Are there no more?

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Gren was nice enough to share with some of my coworkers’ dogs, and this was the review:

Photo credit: E. Wright

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Gluten-Free Cake Batter

Everybody needs a basic cake batter recipe to work from, even those who have a low tolerance for gluten.  Fussellette was coming for Easter and I wanted to serve a cake for dessert.  So I needed to come up with a cake that she could enjoy along with the rest of our guests.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Easy Cake Batter.  I replaced the flour in the recipe with a gluten-free mix I came up with myself, with a little bit of help from Ellen’s Kitchen.  If you are curious as to the right proportions when combining gluten-free flours, check out her suggestions — they are very useful.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

First we want to bring all our liquid ingredients to room temperature: 1 cup butter, 4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, and 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or soured milk). If you want to warm up your ingredients a little faster, try placing them in a warm water bath.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

In a bowl, whisk together 2 cups white rice flour, 2/3 cup almond meal (I find that the coarseness of the almond meal gives the cake crumb a springy, solid texture, with no fear of it falling if handled too roughly), 1/3 cup tapioca starch/flour, and1 tablespoon baking powder.  So the final result of this particular combination tastes like a sweet, more tender version of cornbread — it has a finer texture but that’s the best analogy I can come up with.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together your butter with 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, until it’s light and fluffy and creamy.  Don’t rush this process.  Let your mixer go on high for about 6 minutes, and you will see the difference between butter and sugar that are just well-combined versus butter and sugar that are well and truly creamed together. This is the just-combined stuff.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

This is the truly creamed stuff.  It makes all the difference in a cake, especially one where you need all the help you can get to keep the structure light and fluffy.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Mix in your eggs, one at a time, until they are well-combined.  Again, you add the eggs a bit at a time so that the mixer paddle will have a chance to properly emulsify all of it.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Add in at this point 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

Flip the mixer to its lowest setting and mix in about a third of your flour mixture.  Pour in half the buttermilk and let that get mixed in as well.  Then another third of your flour, mix that in, and the rest of the buttermilk.  When that’s mixed in, add the last of the flour and mix until just combined.  You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl. This picture is blurry because I like to cook in motion.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Now you have a basic batter with which you can do pretty much anything.  You can turn it into a layer cake, or mix it with other flavours like chocolate or fruit.  Or you can make it into cupcakes, like I did here (the frosting is a package of cream cheese mixed with a cup of icing sugar and some coconut).

Gluten-Free Cake Batter

This cake here I wrapped up and froze for a future event.

Gluten-Free Cake Batter

For Easter I poured the batter into two pans and then layered the cake with whipped cream mixed with raspberries.  DIVINE.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flat Bread

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

One of the benefits of having a friend who has a gluten intolerance is that I get to learn all sorts of new recipes.  This one I served up as an appetizer at Easter dinner.  At first, it seemed questionable and I doubted it would work, but when I did it, I was pleasantly surprised.

First, preheat your broiler (the top grill in your oven) to its highest setting and move the top rack as close to it as possible.

Then, using a scale, measure out 150g gluten-free flour.  For the purposes of this recipe I used half white rice flour and half soy flour.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

So you have your flour.  Now you also need olive oil, sea salt, and some warm water.  The amount of water you will need will vary but on this particular occasion I needed about 1 cup.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Slowly add the water to your flour mixture, stirring the whole time.  When you come up with a mixture closely resembling cake batter then you’re all ready to go.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Pour some olive oil onto your baking sheet and spread it around with your fingers.  In retrospect I would have used an older sheet where the oil would have stuck better to the surface.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Roughly spoon your bread batter onto the oiled sheet and drizzle some more oil over top.  Make your hands nice and oily too — it helps.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Use your fingers to spread the batter to the edges of the pan.  You will get some areas where the batter is translucent — this is a good thing — and this is where your big bubbles will happen when the bread cooks.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Sprinkle it with sea salt and whatever spices you want.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Place the bread under the broiler and keep an eye on it.  When it starts to char in places, after a few minutes, take it out.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

So this is the top:

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Use a spatula and your fingers to flip it over.  You can see how, because the oil moved away from the surface of the pan, I had some sticking issues.  This wouldn’t happen in an older pan.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Pop that under the element again until it’s nice and charred as well.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Use a pair of scissors to cut it into pieces and serve warm.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

On this night, when I was experimenting, I had it with home-made artichoke and asiago dip (recipe to come soon) and some goat cheese we got on sale.

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread

Surprisingly tasty and not too filling!

Five-Minute Gluten-Free Flatbread