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It took me 18 years to get up the guts to taste tapioca pudding. I couldn’t help but associate it with crusty cafeteria food – the only place I’d ever seen it was in a clear plastic cup next to similarly packaged red and green jello cubes. (Let’s take an extra moment to collectively gag over green jello. HUAGH!) But when I did it was a revelation. Now it’s a staple – a quick and easy dessert you can whip up in an hour. Here are two variations:

Classic Tapioca Pudding

  • 1/2 cup small tapioca pearls
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk (soy milk works, too, but rice milk is too watery)
  • 3/8 cup sugar, maple syrup, or honey
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg

Pumpkin Spice Tapioca Pudding

  • 3/4 cup small tapioca pearls
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk (soy milk works, too)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger
  • 1/8 t. allspice

Directions for both versions: Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Soak tapioca in water for 30-40 minutes. In mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients and mix well. Drain tapioca and place in a 1-quart covered baking dish. Pour liquid ingredients on top. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and stir, making sure to break up any lumps of tapioca-ness. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Arg. I’ve been cooking a decent amount lately and coming up with some tasty treats but I’ve had no time to sit and write down what I’m making. It’s insanely frustrating to try and remember what I did three months ago – that tart was fabulous… “What did I put in it, raspberries? How many?” Arg… So I’m forcing myself to record my recipes now. But forget pictures for a while. That will put me over the top.

Champignon Bourguignon
Serves four

2 lbs button or baby Bella mushrooms, quartered
Porcinis or other hearty mushrooms
1 lb pearl onions
4 carrots, thickly sliced
6 cloves garlic
4 cups red wine
4 cups broth
3T butter
1T fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
2T olive oil
2T sweet rice flour or another GF flour
Salt to taste

Serve with steamed new potatoes.

Prepare their pearl onions. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Plunk the pearl onions in, skins and all. Boil for three minutes and then plunge into cold water to stop cooking. Cut off the root end and squeeze to remove the skins. Careful not to squirt them across the room!

In a large saucepan, melt 3T of butter and brown the onions on high. Don’t worry about cooking them through – they’ll have plenty of time later. Once browned on at least one side, turn down the heat slightly and add the garlic and the carrots. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the wine, bay, thyme, and pepper and let cook down until the liquid is halved. Add the veggie broth and do the same. Salt to taste. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and sweet rice flour into a paste. Scoop out a 1/4 cup of liquid from the saucepan and whisk it into the flour and oil mixture. Add to the stew and stir. Simmer a few more minutes until sauce thickens. Serve over steamed new potatoes (tip: smash them with a wooden spoon to break the skins and let the bourgui-goodness in).

Could it be true?!? Have I discovered the answer to my four-year quest for gluten-free filo dough? This guy sounds legit, the video looks legit, and the baklava looks like it might just make my yiayia proud. Oh, nellie. You know what I’ll be up to this weekend!!!

So, like many celiacs, it took me a long time and buckets of perseverance to get diagnosed with celiac disease. Doctor after doctor told me they had no explanation for my debilitating symptoms and that I was perfectly healthy (How’s that for logic!?). Actually, the first thing that clued me into the fact that it might be gluten was that my mom had long insisted that she didn’t do very well on wheat.

So fast forward three hard years, a positive diagnosis, and then four more squeaky clean years and I’m now sharing gluten-free recipes back and forth with mom. She’s even starting up an intolerance support group in Ottawa, ON. So if you’re in the area and living without, comment on this post and I’ll get you in touch!

In the meantime, here’s a gf cookie recipe she sent me. I made them yesterday and the entire house smells like the most delectable chocolate brownie you’ve ever schnozzed. And the cookies are good, too! They remind me of a coconut-less macaroon. Delish.

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cookies - feel free to experiment around with other nuts like walnuts and pecans

Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Cookies

  • 3 C raw almonds (Mom says any nut will do)
  • 3 C icing sugar
  • ½ C plus 3T unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 oz (60grams) bittersweet chocolate, cut into pea-sized bits
    (I use Lindt 85% chocolate bars… ☺)
  • ¼ t salt
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread nuts on a baking sheet and roast until they begin to brown and smell divine.
Let cool, then chop very finely
Or process in food processor until mostly fine but with a few chunks remaining

Reset oven to 320 degrees
Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper
Mix almonds, icing sugar, cocoa powder, chopped chocolate, and salt
Whip egg whites to stiff peaks in another bowl, then stir in vanilla
Fold half of the whites into the almond/chocolate mixture
Fold in the remaining whites and mix until just combined
Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets (they won’t spread so you can place them close to each other)
Bake 16-18 minutes, till tops begin to show cracks
Cool completely and store in airtight container
Mom says they’re better the second day
Thanks, Mom!

Sad to say, Mark Bittman is ending the Minimalist, after 13 years writing the weekly column for the New York Times. He has been a wealth of inspiration, and especially in recent years, as he has cut his meat intake down in favor of a “less-meatarian” approach. Big fan. Anywhoo, as part of his farewell, he has posted his favorite 25 recipes from the Minimalist over the years. Check out these naturally gluten-free ones!

Red Pepper Puree
Socca (chickpea pancake)
Parsley Herb Salad
Fennel & Celery Salad
Eggplant Curry (omit asafetida – not always gf)
More-Vegetable-Less-Egg Frittata
Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding

My mother-in-law makes a killer granola – better than any store-bought variety, mainly because it’s not Chocolate Frosted Sugarbombs (Calvin & Hobbes reference, anyone???) masquerading as health food. Plus, it’s quick, massively inexpensive, and smells ridonkulously good baking in the oven. Hummenah.

Here’s my version of her deliciousness.

Gluten-Free Granola

  • 6 cups gluten-free oats
  • 2 cups “crunch” (any combination of sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, pumpkin seeds, chopped almonds, chopped pecan, chopped walnuts, gluten-free steel cut oats, or pine nuts)
  • 1/8-1/4 c. freshly ground flax meal
  • 1/2 c. honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat wet ingredients together with a fork in a 2-cup measuring cup (or something else equally easy to pour from). Pour wet over dry. Mix until all the oats and other goodies are well coated with goo. Bake in two pyrex dishes or cookie sheets at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, removing from oven every 10-15 minutes to stir. Keep a close eye on it – if you see the oats on the edges of the pan begin to brown, it’s time to give it a good stir. After 30 minutes, the granola should be lightly golden brown, but it may still be soft. Give it a good stir, let it stand for 10 minutes, and remove from cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container.

Ugh. I don’t mean no disrespect to carnivores, but they honestly have no inkling of how you can possibly make a meal without flesh. I can’t tell you the number of people who asked me last month whether we were cooking a tofurkey for Thanksgiving. Listen, meat-tards. If you would care to look up from your mountain of over-fattened, top-heavy, saline-injected Butterball bird, you might notice that pretty much every other dish on your table is vegetarian. HELLO! Thanksgiving is MADE for vegheads, and besides, anyone who eats fake meat should just man up and accept the fact that they crave hamburger.

Anywhoo, all this to say that whenever I go outside the confines of my carefully crafted gluten-free, veghead world for more than a day or two, I come home craving leafy greens and flave-tastic vegetarian food. In other words, give me Indian food or give me death.

With a little direction from my favorite veghead muse, Madhur Jaffries, I came up with the following version of Saag Aloo. Spinach. Dandelion greens. Inspiration.

Saag Aloo

Serves 2-3

  • 3 medium potatoes (about a pound and three quarters)
  • 1.5 lbs spinach (frozen or fresh), finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb. dandelion greens, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (ok to omit)
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1″ square fresh ginger, minced
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 fresh green chile (serrano or jalapeno)
  • 2 tsp roasted, ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 T ghee
  • 1/4 c. milk or cream
  • vegetable oil

Cube the potatoes and fry with salt and garam masala in a deep-sided fry pan until translucent. Remove from pan. In a food processor, puree the garlic, onion, ginger and green chile with 1/4 cup of water. Place into the frying pan and saute for 1 minute. Add the cumin and saute another minute. Add the spinach, dandelion greens, and dried fenugreek leaves and cover. Turn heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a tablespoon or two of water if it begins to scorch on the bottom. Add the potatoes back into the mix and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Add the cream and butter at the last minute. Salt to taste and serve over rice.

I love it when being gluten-free allows me to be totally gluttonous. For example: crustless pumpkin pie. There’s no reason why I couldn’t make a gluten-free crust, it’s more a matter of why bother? It’s the filling I’m after.

Gluten-Free Crustless Pumpkin Pie

  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 2 T gluten-free flour (all-purpose or sweet rice)
  • 1 t. cinnamon-a-mon-amon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger
  • 1/4 t. ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree (save yourself the BPA and get it from a real pie pumpkin)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 T maple syrup

Combine first 8 ingredients in bowl and mix. Add wet ingredients and beat until smooth. Put in greased pie plate. Bake at 450 °F for 10 minutes. Then turn down to 325 °F and bake for another 40 minutes until set.

Quick! Groupon is offering $40 of gluten-free goodness for $20 at Lincolnshire Gourmet in Highland Park, IL. Go, go, go!

While I’m on the topic of gluten-free beer… I went into our local Whole Foods today to snag a six pack of Bard’s Gluten-free Beer, but they were out :{. A nice sales person saw my sadface and immediately brightened my day by saying that they always stock at least one of three gluten-free beers. New Grist rice and sorghum ale is one of them. Highly recommend. Niiiiiize!

Another good gluten-free beer: New Grist