Sunday, May 20, 2012

GF almond doughnuts

This post is dedicated to the hard work of other amazing food bloggers. I love the vibrant, prolific exchange of creative energy and knowledge that is happening out there in cyberspace. I love being a small part of it, as well.

When I saw this recipe, I had Ryan order me a silicone mini doughnut pan and went out to buy the necessary ingredients. I finally got around to making them this morning, and true to their word, they are fluffy and light and moist. The recipe comes from the phenomenal gluten free food blog Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. I love her recipes; the ingredients she uses align perfectly with my tastes and she puts most other GF versions to shame. She writes cookbooks with her chef hubby and they have a very sweet story, which is intertwined into each post in a lovely way. She seems to know her stuff, or at least has advanced far in her journey.

Anyhow, she (her name is Shauna Ahern) posted a recipe for these almond flour doughnuts, very closely adapted from another website called Roost. This is another lovely blog to explore, with recipes and tidbits of information. Coco of Roost seems to be the original author of this interesting, easy and delicious recipe.

The version I made was closer to the gluten free girl's as I added powdered ginger and lemon zest. I didn't have honey so I added 1/4 cup of sucanat and a little bit of water to get the mess going in the blender. For a glaze I simmered 1/4 cup of almond milk, a few drops of almond extract, 2 cups of sucanat and a pinch of salt. After removing the doughnuts from the pan, I dipped them in the glaze and let them cool. Ryan came in with a chocolate glaze that we then dipped in coconut which was also divine.

I usually use my leftover almond pulp for baking recipes, and I think I shall try the next time with it, but for this time, I went out and bought almond flour, as I really wanted to honor the original recipe, to see just how fluffy they really were. I was not disappointed. They are seriously good.

Here is the original recipe: Roost 
Here is the recipe I used: Gluten Free Girl and the Chef

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

lemon rice with beet curry

This is a tasty combination we enjoyed recently, when I had a fridge drawer full of beets and a hankering for an aromatic, flavored rice dish. Remembering that lemons and beets pair nicely, I decided it would be worth a try.

It was, combining complex flavors in a simple recipe. You've gotta love those Indian spices. Paired with tangy yogurt and fresh cilantro, this dish is a no-brainer.

Healthy choices always at the forefront, I used brown basmati, which also loaned a nutty element to the dish. I was inspired by this beet recipe, which adds besan (chickpea flour) to the recipe before serving. This adds nutritional value, flavor and texture to the curry. Yum!

lemon rice
  • 2 cups brown basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove. You want a dry, fluffy rice rather than a sticky rice. Set aside.
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black lentils
  • 1-2 hot green chillies (Indian, serrano or jalapeno), minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida (if you've got it)
  • 4-5 curry leaves or 1 bay leaf
  • 1 TBS grapeseed oil or other cooking oil
  • salt to taste

In a large wok, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and wait for them to begin popping. Then add the chillies, lentils, asafoetida, curry leaves and turmeric. Fry for a minute longer to release the aromatics of the spices, and then add the rice, lemon juice, lemon zest. Stir to combine, salt to taste.

besan-beet curry
  • 6-8 beets, boiled or roasted and then peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 TBS garlic paste or 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1 TBS mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 hot green chillies (Indian, serrano or jalapeno)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • Oil for cooking
  • Plain yogurt & chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)

In a large wok, heat the oil. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and allow them to brown and begin popping. Add the onion, turmeric and hot peppers. Then add the beets and stir will. Add the besan, sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons water and continue cooking and stirring until the raw flavor of the besan goes away. Salt to taste.

For a groovy dome-shaped service, choose a round bowl of your preferred serving size. Fill the bottom third with beet curry and the rest with lemon rice. Press down firmly, put a small plate on top and flip over. Carefully remove the bowl, and top with plain yogurt and chopped cilantro. Bon app├ętit!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

playing with idli

One of my first posts on the veggie voyager was for a South Indian staple called idli. I have since mentioned idli multiple times, as it is a traditionally gluten free food that is easy to digest and a tasty vehicle for sauces, chutneys and other delicious dishes (usually Indian, I suppose).

A few months ago I invested in an idli steaming pan from our local Indian grocery store. For a while there I was buying premade idli batter, which is sold in plastic tubs. It is an easy, convenient way to have fresh idli at home, but I was curious about learning to make this dish from scratch.

I have since learned that the process is very easy, as long as you think ahead. All you have to do is soak lentils, rice and fenugreek seeds (separately), blend them (separately), combine, and leave overnight to ferment. The resulting bubbly goodness is a tangy batter that can be spooned into the idli pan and steamed up. Idli are tangy, spongy and delicious.

left to right: rice, quinoa, green lentils & chickpeas;
black rice & brown lentils;
brown rice & urud dahl

The other good news is that this batter, if thinned a little bit with water, can be used to make dosa as well, which you all know is a food I love very much. Dosa are a little more difficult to perfect though, as I especially like mine to be paper thin and dry, and the dosa I've made at home so far are more spongy  than I like. I am working on it though...

the three batters:soaked, blended and ready to ferment.

Because we like to experiment, we decided to try idli using different types of lentils and pulses. Our three experiments were: brown basmati rice and urud dahl (almost a standard, traditional idli), brown basmati and quinoa with green lentils and green chickpeas, and for the third, black rice and dark brown lentils. To the green version we also added spirulina powder and cilantro. The black rice batter got the addition of fresh ginger. After blending, this one morphed into deep purple.

Each was good. The green ones and the white ones won the contest, although we might not add spirulina again. I liked the purple idli but Ryan was not a fan. Our guests really enjoyed the novelty of the different colors and flavors. The traditional, white batter made the best dosa, followed by the green. As dosa, the purple batter was not quite as successful.

I am a firm believer in the wonders of traditional dishes that happen to be gluten free by virtue of their very existence. One does not need to settle for icky, stiff store-bought GF bread or $15 frozen GF pizzas when there are recipes out there that need no xanthan gum or tapioca starch to make them work for you. The fact that these are fermented is an added bonus: fermentation makes food more easily digestible, nutritious and in my humble opinion, better tasting.

If you'd like to experiment, the proportions remain the same, but the types of beans and grains change. All have fenugreek, which is a common Indian spice. Have wild! If you don't already have one, I hope you will add an idli steamer to your kitchen collection, it's fun to play with...

We invited friends over and enjoyed our idli (and dosa, and rice) with chana masala (chickpeas), baingan bharta (eggplant), aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower), mango chutney, cilantro chutney, tamarind chutney, and dahi (Indian yogurt). It was a feast fit for royalty. The chana masala was off the hook. I followed the linked recipe to the tee. I highly recommend that you try it.


  • 3 cups rice, or combination of rice and quinoa (brown rice, black rice, red rice, etc all should work)
  • 1 cup dahl or lentils (urud dahl is traditional, but depending on color and flavor you can experiment here)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds

Put the rice in one bowl, the dahl and fenugreek seeds in another, cover each with water. Soak overnight or for 6-10 hours. Next day, blend the dahl with a small amount of the soaking water until it is smooth, like shampoo. Transfer to a large bowl. Blend the rice up until it is also quite smooth (but not completely) and add it to the dahl mixture. Stir, cover with a towel and leave to ferment overnight. 

In the morning, the batter should be bubbly and tangy smelling. Stir to combine (it will have separated) and place in the fridge until you are ready to use.

Using a paper towel dipped in oil, lightly oil each idli tray. Fill the compartments, stack the tray and place in a large pot with a lid, with about 1 inch of water in the bottom. Cover and steam for 15-20 minutes, or until the centers of the idli are firmed up. Turn off the heat and allow the idli to sit for 20 minutes or so before using a rubber spatula to scoop each idli out of the tray. Arrange on a plate and serve with sambar, chutney or other sauce.

Friday, May 4, 2012

D-K-Che' in Imperial Beach

You know how sometimes you find yourself in a neighborhood that doesn't have a lot of veggie options, so you start thinking, "how bad is a little lard in my beans, really?", or, "just one donut isn't going to kill me..."?

Well, Imperial Beach in south San Diego can be that place. So I'd like to shout out to the ladies that run the new smoothie, torta and juice joint just up the road from Home Depot on Palm Avenue. Clean, friendly, fresh and a nice option for a refreshing pick-me-up.

We had the green juice, with fresh pineapple, celery, parsley, grapefruit, nopales, spinach and orange juices all in one glass. We also enjoyed tostilocos minus the cueritos (pork skin). This snack is a hodge podge of jicama, pepino, chaka chaka (?), cacahuate (peanuts), tajin (one of my mom's favorites), lemon, chile, and chamoy. It was cruncy, salty, tangy and spicy. There were salty round corn chips tucked throughout the mix as well.

Here is the pertinent info, so that next time you find yourself in IB, you know where to duck in to!


1555 Palm Avenue, San Diego, CA 92154
(619) 651 - 8595
8 am to 10 pm

Located at the corner of 16th and Palm Avenue, just west of the I-5 freeway.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

gluten free chia-flax-rice roti

While in India, every time I had a wheat based dish I'd start thinking about how when I got back to San Diego that I'd make a gluten free version of whatever I was eating. I had all kinds of ideas. I still do, so stay tuned for veggie voyager versions of all kinds of stuff.

This is my first contribution to the GF Indian flatbread family, and certainly not the last. I am looking forward to trying some Tibetan steamed bread recipes in the near future.

Chapatti and Roti are unleavened flatbreads traditionally made using whole wheat flour and cooked on a flat skillet called a tava. In some parts of India, hardly a meal is eaten without chapatti or roti.

We are staying with dear family/friends in Goleta, CA, just north of Santa Barbara. We are here to visit, to see Steve Martin play his banjo, plan another mosaic project, and eat good, healthy food.

of course, being californian, some of us did it taco style...

When I planned to make this meal, I didn't even realize that I was making a GF version of Camel Safari Masala, until Ryan pointed it out to me. I made a masala with brussels sprouts, black eyed peas, and cauliflower florets. It was tasty alongside cilantro chutney, raw mango chutney and fresh plain yogurt.

These flatbreads are a slightly pliable but not quite as soft as wheat based chapatti or roti (which are basically the same thing). The rice flour results in a slightly drier, crispier bread that is less heavy than its wheat-based relative. They are speckled throughout with chia seeds. They are perfect for conveying morsels of the masala over to the mouth region. I did not use a recipe per-say, but I will walk you through the process so you can enjoy them at home.

GF Chia-Flax-Rice Roti

  • 2 TBS chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup flax meal
  • 2 TBS oil of your choice (I used olive)
  • 2-3 cups rice flour (I like brown rice flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup of water or so

Combine the chia seeds, flax meal, oil, salt and water. Add one cup of rice flour and mix. Continue mixing and adding rice flour a little bit at a time until the dough forms a ball. Knead the dough as you would a wheat dough, adding small amounts of rice flour to prevent it from getting sticky. When the dough is elastic and smooth, create a log that is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 1 foot long. Cut this log into sections that are about 1 inch wide. Using your fingers, press each section into a flattened disk. Dust each side with rice flour and roll out using a rolling pin on a flour dusted surface until you have a thin, round sheet, not unlike a tortilla. Heat a skillet and rub with a small amount of oil. In India, they take a half potato or onion, stab it with a fork, dip the flat side into oil and use that to oil the pan. You don't need much oil if any at all for this, just an initial amount to help start the process. When the pan is hot, add one roti and cook until it begins to blister. Flip and continue cooking until it is cooked to your liking. Set aside and continue with the rest until you have a delicious stack of crispy roti. Enjoy with masala, curry or chutney.
ready for rolling out.