Category Archives: gluten free

Holy Cow!  108 is a mystical number, and a  beef stroganoff for champions.

November 5, 2016

The Cubs have won the World Series.  Let that sink in a little.  

After 108 years, the Chicago Cubs are World Series champs and what a series it was.  Hemingway couldn’t have written such a dramatic turn of events.  After a 3-1 deficit, the Cubs managed to come back and tie the series.  There would be a Game 7 after all.  We could believe again.

Right at the start of Game 7 their momentum was strong.  We hit a home run in the first inning, and suddenly we were leading 6-3.  Until the 8th inning that is, and then the drama started.  

Somehow, Cleveland managed to tie the game and the heart of every Cub’s fan from Chicago to Belize started to sink into the abyss.  They went from somehow hoping and believing that this was locked in to now seeing it all slip away from their hands. How could this happen?  The curse, that dreaded curse.  That stupid goat!

By the end of the 9th inning, the Cubs and Cleveland were tied.  This game was going to go extra innings.  My worst nightmare.  And then it happened.  The rain.  Because the game going to extra innings wasn’t torture enough, we had to wait to see if our hearts would forever be broken because of a rain delay.  Stupid rain!

Tears of Cubs fans started to pour down from the heavens.

Or was it divine intervention?  You know they say 108 is a mystical number in the Dharmic faiths.  Perhaps God was giving the Cubs a “time out”.  Perhaps even God had enough.  Maybe it was the break our beloved Cubs needed to collect themselves and pull it together?  A cosmic “talkin’ to” is what they needed.

At this point, I was preparing for the worst.  I wasn’t going to be mad.  I was going to be sad to be sure, but I would be proud of them.  If they lost, they lost giving it their all.  They didn’t give it away, or make it easy.  They fought tooth and nail and well…if it wasn’t in the cards, then it wasn’t.  But I decided they had played their hearts out and I was already very proud of them.

Well, it turns out the rain washed away any doubts.  It washed away the curse and all the heartaches and sorrows of the past.  Forever gone.  The Cubs scored 2 more runs and won the World Series 8-7.  They did it.  Every Cubs fan around the world breathed a collective sigh of disbelief and then cheered.  And we all cried the happiest tears of joy ever.

Everyone has a story related to the Cubs.  For instance this one:

You all know about a Greek old man named Bill Sianis and his goat and how he supposedly cursed the Cubs.  But do you know about a Greek old man named Emmanuel and how he could have possibly turned that curse around simply by switching his hat?  Well, Emmanuel, my dad, is that Greek old man.  And for very many years he wore a Sox hat.  Not because he was a fan.  He didn’t even like baseball.  I think someone gave it to him and he just just wore it.  Well, enter my husband, Jeff.  The biggest Cubs fan on planet earth.  Jeff couldn’t tolerate this any longer.  So this year, he ordered my father a Cubs hat of his very own and low and behold, the Cubs won the World Series.  Coincidence?  True story.

Speaking of my husband, some of his happiest memories as a kid were watching the Cubs on WGN with his grandmother Nancy while she ironed.  His grandmother Nancy was a typical housewife of that era, in the style of The Joy of Cooking and Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  She often cooked Beef Stroganoff.

So in honor of grandma Nancy, and her beloved World Champion Cubs I am making this deconstructed version of beef stroganoff.


Deconstructed Beef Stroganoff (inspired by grandma Nancy and adapted from Jamie Oliver)

Serves 2-3

3/4 lb filet mignon

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp lemon rind

1/2 small jar of cornichons (gherkin pickles)

2-3 shallots thinly sliced

1 cup parsley leaves chopped

2 tbsp parsley stems finely minced

1 cup rice

5 oz spinach

12 oz creaming mushrooms

1 clove garlic

1 cup cream

1.5 tbsp brandy

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 stick butter

salt pepper

Start by seasoning your filet mignon with salt, pepper, paprika and lemon rind.  Set aside.

Finely slice the cornichons and shallots and place in a bowl.  Add the minced parsley stems and chopped parsley leaves, a little salt and 1/2 the jar of pickle juice.  Set aside, stirring occasionally.

Next wash your spinach and slice your mushrooms.  Sautée the spinach in a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In the same pan, add 2 tbsp butter and sautéed the mushrooms until golden brown.  While you are sautéeing mushrooms, start boiling your rice which should take about 12 minutes.

At the same time as your mushrooms are sautéeing and rice is boiling you can begin to grill your filet mignon to your liking.

When the rice is done cooking, add 2 tablespoons of butter to coat and set aside.  When filet is finished put on a plate and cover with foil.

When all the pieces are ready, the last thing you want to make is the sauce.  When you remove the mushrooms from the pan, add a cup of cream to the pan and 2 tablespoons brandy, salt and pepper and bring to a boil until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

To assemble the dish, put some of the wilted spinach on the buttom of your plate and top with 1 cup of rice.  Next, top the rice with slices of filet mignon, 1/2 the cooked mushrooms and 2-3 heaping tablespoons of the pickle mixture.  Next top generously with the brandy cream sauce.

Enjoy!  Yeah Cubs!

-Kallie =)

The Cubs, Magical Popcorn and the Great Pumpkin too!

October 29, 2016

It’s almost Halloween you guys and as a tradition, I watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” every year.

I love how Linus and Charlie Brown argue about if the Great Pumpkin or if Santa Claus are real.  Very astutely Linus states, “If it’s one thing I have learned never to discuss: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.”

I adore Linus, not just because of his clever one liners, but because he represents innocence and unwavering hope, no matter what.  Don’t we all need that sometimes?  A little hope and belief in our dreams?

Like the hope that the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series.  If you’re in Chicago tonight or Belize…yes, I said Belize you are watching Game 4 of the World Series tonight.  Hoping and believing, like Linus.

So the Belize thing…apparently in the 1980s, Belize managed to pirate the signal from the Chicago television station, WGN.  A whole generation has grown up in Belize with an almost spiritual reverence for the Cubs and they are going nuts now!  Did you know that?

Come on Cubs!  The people of Chicago and Belize are depending on you!

Finally, I have this unwavering hope and belief that you are going to love this recipe I have for popcorn today.  I too promise you a real spiritual experience.  It’s buttery, nutty, sweetened with honey and just enough salt to make it all come together like magic in your mouth.

It’s the brown butter that’s the sexy little secret making this popcorn so special.

Oh, and why say “brown butter” when you can say “le beurre noisette”?  Doesn’t it sound better in French?  You have heard me say things like this before, here and here.  (Foreign languages are fun.)

Anyway, call this popcorn what you wish.  I call it “le popcorn avec le beurre noisette et le miel” but you can say “brown butter with honey” and it won’t matter.  It will be amazing.  It will be what you turn to, to sweeten up movie night or watching the Cubs, LOL.

So how do we make this religious batch of popcorn?


Brown Butter, Honey and Salt Popcorn

Serves 2 (or one person having a spiritual experience)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons popcorn kernels

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup honey

2 teaspoons sea salt flakes

Directions:

First pop your popcorn in an air popper.  This will take less than 5 minutes.  Set the fluffy white popcorn aside.

Next, carefully begin melting your butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Watch it carefully as it melts…slowly it will begin to bubble and you will see the milk solids separate.  It’s these milk solids that will start to brown.  You want to swirl your pan slowly as this happens until the milk solids have turned into a nice nutty color.

Once the butter browns, turn off the heat and add your honey to the butter and stir.  You should now have a light brown liquid.  Pour it carefully over your popcorn, add a teaspoon of salt and stir to coat.  Finish by topping it off with the final teaspoon of sea salt flakes.

Turn on the Cubs game or “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”.  Eat, pray and watch.

Enjoy!

-Kallie

img_0890.jpg

One of These Things Doesn’t Belong Here…

September 3, 2016

Zucchini Bread.

Fried Zucchini.

Stuffed Zucchini.

Zucchini Fritters.

muffin trio

I over did it guys.  I have too much zucchini in my life.  Between my mother and my overzealous eye at the farmers market in Logan Square.  I have WAY.  TOO.  MUCH.  ZUCCHINI.  Did you know the zucchini is technically a fruit?  Oh yeah, it is.

Speaking of Logan Square, if you have been reading this blog regularly, you know that I am a huge fan of Lula Cafe.  In fact, it’s the one thing I do EVERY WEEKEND.  I love this place.  They do vegetables Iike no one else.  They serve the best, most amazing coffee.  They have a cute outdoor patio.  Don’t believe me?  Look here, and here for proof.

grated zucchini

 

Lula also changes up their menu often.  Don’t you like how I just call it Lula?  Like we are old girlfriends?  Oh hey girl, what’s up?  Well, we are friends!  Lula rocks my life every Saturday and Sunday!  As I was saying, they change up their menu often. In fact, they have this sandwich called The Royale (capital T, capital R)  and it changes almost every month.  You guys, it was featured in the National Geographic!  The National Geographic!  Yes a magazine, that covers animal life, outer space and the planet earth at large, has noticed The Royale sandwich at Lula Cafe.  Look here.  The Royale is a tour de force.  And Lula Cafe is apparently the epicenter of food on planet earth.  I can’t anymore…

ingredients 3

Now this menu change-up usually is a good thing because it means we are eating the freshest and most tasty vegetables at the exact moment they are in season.  But the problem with an ever changing menu, is that sometimes my favorites go away…and don’t come back.  Whaaahhh!  Total FWP guys (first world problem.). Good-bye Nearly Summer Salad.  Good-bye Green Chorizo Sopas, I will miss you.  Maybe next year.  Lula?  Do you take requests?  Bring back my almost summer salad and green chorizo sopas!!!!  Please!!!  Pretty please?  Why you gotta always break my heart?

I don’t do well with change.

zucchini batter

Well, these days Lula Cafe has this zucchini muffin studded with bits of chocolate, cherries and walnut.  Zucchini?  What madness is this?  Zucchini doesn’t belong in a pastry!!!  (Cue the song “One of these things just doesn’t belong here” in your head.)  You guys this muffin is practically a health food.  And you have a fridge full of summertime zucchini don’t you?  I do.  And I know you do, because I can see you thinking about what you are going to do with all of them.  Here is another idea for your zucchini surplus.

But for now, this muffin:  Grated zucchini which is low calorie.  Chocolate and cherries which have antioxidants and walnuts which have all those omega-3s.  I think for your own sake you should try these muffins.  Now.  Stat.  Isn’t that what they say on Grey’s Anatomy?

 

muffin layers

Le sigh, Grey’s Anatomy.  It just isn’t the same without Dr. McDreamy.  Why Shonda?  Why?  Why did you do me like that?  First you take away Sloan and then Shepherd?  I better not start on this tangent.  It won’t end well.  Forget I said anything.  (September 22nd new season.  It better be good.)

I don’t do well with change.

Go ahead Lula, take this one off the menu too.  I don’t care.  I will just make my own….humph!

Here’s how to make a health muffin:


Gluten Free, Choco-Cherry-Nut Zucchini Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

1 3/4 all purpose flour or gluten free flour (I like this one)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup olive oil (I’m Greek, this is the only oil I have, another health food, this is getting better)

1 cup zucchini, grated  (Yeah, I know.  Who knew zucchini a make excellent muffins)

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup chocolate chips, semi-sweet

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cups dried cherries

1 and a 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinammon

1/2 teaspoon clove

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F, line your muffin tin with paper liners.

2.  Mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, clove, and salt in a bowl.

3.  In another bowl beat the egg, add olive oil, milk and vanilla.

4. Stir your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then add the grated zucchini, chocolate chips, dried cherries and walnuts.

5.  Scoop the batter into your muffin tins about 3/4 full, top with a cherry half or walnut if you are feeling ambitious.  Or don’t.  No pressure.

6. Bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes and then eat quickly.  It’s for your health.

Enjoy,

-Kallie

 

dirty dish

 

The Finder of Lost Things

August 27, 2016

So I bet you didn’t know that today is a popular day amongst Greeks who have lost things.

whole cake wiht towel

What’s that you say?  Is it Greek National Lost Things Day?  Oh no, no.  It’s Greek National Find Lost Things Day.  Better known as Saint Fanourios Day, the patron saint of finding lost things.  His name means “to reveal” and so we bake a cake to have him reveal to us lost objects.

Why does this surprise you?  Greeks bake cakes with lucky coins in them for the New year, why wouldn’t we have a cake for helping us find lost things?  Makes perfect sense to me…right?  No?  Right.

bowl oranges

Here’s how it works:  Have you lost something?  Your keys?  Your glasses, even after checking the top of your head?  Maybe you have lost your sanity?  Have no fear, Saint Fanourios can help.  All you have to do is bake a very special olive oil and orange scented cake in honor of his mother.  You don’t even have to be Greek to enjoy this cake (which is more like a sweet bread) or to help you find lost things.

I don’t know very much about this Saint except that he was a Roman soldier and that an icon of him was found in a ruined church on the island of Rhodes. I also know, or so I have been told, that his mother was not exactly a very nice person, so in exchange for making a cake and saying a prayer for the forgiveness of his mother’s sins, Saint Fanourios will help you find something you have lost.  Or better said, he will reveal something to you…dramatic pause here.  Yes i am foreshadowing.  Please read on.

close up ingredients

The cake is made with a very specific number of ingredients.  They must number only 7 or 9.  What’s so special about 7 or 9?  Well I suspect it’s something mathematical in nature.  It must be because they are not evenly divisible.  Or that 7 is a prime number and that 9 is 3 sets of 3 of which the number 3 is also a prime number.  So 3 sets of 3 is like a super, magical woo-woo thing.

But much of the symbolism in numbers can be found in ancient lore which many times gets translated to religious beliefs.  For example,  the great religions believe that God created the the universe in 7 days.  As I mentioned before, the number 9 is three sets of 3.  And 3 is a holy number symbolic of the Trinity in the Christian faith.  In Greek mythology there are 9 muses and it took 9 days for a soul to cross the River Styx.  Whatever it is, ancient peoples, cultures and religions love odd numbers.  And odd things…

I have to confess, that I don’t think this cake can only help you find lost things.  I think Saint Fanourios might even send messages via the cake to reveal things to you.  Let me explain:

batter

I first made this cake with my girlfriend about 11 years ago.  We were training for the marathon and spent every Friday night carbo-loading for our long runs on Saturday mornings.  My friend noted that it was Saint Fanourios Day and that we should make the cake related to him.  Great!  I like cake and maybe he can help me find something, like a faster running time.  Seemed like a fair exchange.

We went shopping for the ingredients and brought them back to her boyfriend’s (at the time) studio to make the cake.  The problem with the studio however was that space was at a premium and that meant a small kitchen.  And a small kitchen meant it had a really small oven.  If it were any smaller it would be an easy bake oven.  Anyway, we dutifully made the cake with the prescribed number of ingredients and put the cake in the oven to bake. And about 45 minutes later we took it out of the sad little oven.  And exactly half the cake was burned.  The other half was perfect.

“Your oven is very uneven.”  I noted.

“That’s very peculiar,”  my girlfriend said.  “This has never happened before.”

“Do you think the saint is sending you a message?” I asked.

“Maybe St. Fanourios doesn’t want his cake baked in my boyfriend’s oven.  Maybe he is saying ‘lose this guy!'”  We chuckled and ate the good side of the cake.

Well, not long after that my friend broke up with this guy and ever since then we have had luck making this delicious cake.  True story.  Just saying…you come to your own conclusions.

cake slice

Here is how to find lost things:


Fanouropita

serves 7-9 LOL

Ingredients (9 is my favorite number, so I use 9 of them):

3/4 cup olive oil

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon clove

1/2 cup walnuts roughly chopped

1/2 cup raisins roughly chopped if needed

3 and 3/4 cups of all purpose flour (gluten free works too)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the olive oil and sugar in a mixer and beat for about 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar.

Add the orange juice, cinnamon, clove and baking powder.  Next add the flour in thirds and mix.

Right at the end add your walnuts and raisins and give it one more spin.

Place batter in a 9 inch round or square pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Or you can use a bundt cake pan if you like special patterns on your cake like me.  Also, I like busting the big fat Greek wedding myth that somehow Greek people don’t know what a bundt cake is.  So i use this cake shape.  All.  The. Time.  Click here for proof.

Let the cake cool and remove from the pan.  Share with friends or family and have them say a little prayer to St. Fanourios’ mom and to help you find your lost things.  Watch for things to be revealed in the days to come.  Woo-woo.

Enjoy.

-Kallie

cake opened

Behold the Sensitive Courgette!  (that’s a fancy word for zucchini)

August 7, 2016

Courgette, zucchini, summer squash, golden zucchini..same same.  So why all the name calling?  No matter what you call them, they are still squash, picked while young and have thin skins.  So don’t mock them, their feelings are easily hurt…Oh, the sensitive courgette.

You’re at the Farmers Market and you have been taken aback by the cute zucchini arrangement, the gold ones, the dark green ones, the light green ones,  the stripped ones.  So you buy them.  All of them. Maybe too many of them.  What do you do with them?


I have the answer. A one pan meal, perfect for summer!  Briami.  It’s what I call a Greek zucchini bake.  All along the Mediterranean, you find variations of this dish: Italy’s caponata, and Spain’s Pistou, and zee French ratatouille!  But I love the Greek briami the best!  No bias AT ALL!!  It might also be the easiest version to make however if that tempts you.

Observe in 3 steps:

First, slice up your zucchini.  All of them!

Next, add herbs, garlic, onions, olive oil and tomatoes.  Mix them up and pop them into a 400F oven.


Finally, let it bake, brown, meld their flavors together for a little over an hour and eat!  With feta!

It’s Mediterranean nirvana. Not the band with teenage angst, although they were thin-skinned and sensitive like zucchini too, but nirvana the Buddhist concept of “heaven”.  

Nevermind.  (See what I did there?  I made a Nirvana song reference?  Ok ignore me.)

Aaaaaaanywaaaaaay, It’s good. And good for you.  So try it! 🙂
So how do we make Courgette Nirvana?

Greek Briami

serves 4

2 medium zucchini

2 medium summer squash

2 medium potatoes

1 medium red onion

12 cherry tomatoes

Mint

Olive oil,

Salt pepper

1/2 cup crushed tomato

1/2 cup water 

1/4 cup olive oil 

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.  Slice the zucchini, squash, potatoes and cherry tomatoes place in a baking pan or dish. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, mint and olive oil and mix together in the same pan.  Add the water and bake for about 1-1.5 hours stirring half way to make sure thing brown evenly…and that’s it. Done! Presto! 
Enjoy with a piece of feta and assyrtiko wine.

-Kallie