The BEST spinach dip there ever was and ever will be EVER and its gluten-free!

spinach dip The best ever

Last week, Steve of Gluten-free Steve asked a number of gluten-free bloggers a number of questions. The whole event can be found on his blog and is definitely worth the read. One of the questions he asked was: “What is your favourite gluten-free snack recipe?”. Well, he actually had a fill in the blank questionnaire which said: “My favorite gluten-free snack is:” but that is beside the point.

The actual point is, I gave Steve the recipe for the best spinach dip ever and I didn’t include a photograph! It was sad. So, I have re-posted the recipe (also available at Steve’s Blog) along with the photo (above) and a warning. The dip looks odd and green — two things that turn people off of the dip when they first encounter this delight. You’ll find that at a party, people will take small spoonfuls when they first approach the food table in order to be polite, but once they try the dip they go back for seconds, thirds and fourths. There won’t be much left at the end of the night. Because of this, I always make a double batch. My photo shows a double batch. I’m not sure the exact dimensions of my dish, but its roughly the size of a 8.5×11 inch (21.6×28 cm) piece of paper. Maybe a little smaller (definitely not larger).

The BEST spinach dip there ever was and ever will be EVER!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz (250 mL) (approximately one package) cream cheese. Yes, you can use light or fat free.

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) Parmesan cheese, preferably freshly grated but one time I was out and found that the powdery processed stuff also works in a pinch. Its not as good, but it works.

  • 1 rounded tablespoon (15-17 mL) freshly grated Romano cheese (again, the powdery stuff works but won’t be as tasty.)

  • 1 rounded tablespoon (15-17 mL) very finely chopped sweet red bell pepper.

  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 mL) garlic powder. DO NOT use garlic salt. Alternatively you can puree or finely mince 2 cloves of fresh garlic.

  • 2 green onions (scallions) white and greens finely chopped

  • 1/2 package frozen finely chopped spinach; (those frozen square blocks) thawed and squeezed dry. Do not use if the spinach is wet! You’ll ruin your dip.

  • 1/2 cup grated medium cheddar – old cheddar is too strong

  • 1 tsp (5 mL) of cayenne pepper — less if you don’t like spicy dip. I usually add 1/2 the regular amount if I’m serving to people who are very…er… meat and potatoes. You know, the sort of people who think anything other than salt and pepper is fancy — they tend not to like dishes with an edge.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Mix ingredients (except spinach) with a hand or stand mixer. If using a hand mixer that isn’t very powerful, you might want to consider microwaving your cream cheese for a minute or two. This will soften it up so you do not burn out your motor.

  3. Fold in spinach

  4. Transfer to the oven-proof dish in which you plan on serving this dip. If desired, sprinkle the top with some more cayenne pepper for decoration.

  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes. You’ll know the dip is ready when the edges begin to bubble.

  6. Remove from oven and serve with gluten-free nachos, gluten-free flat bread, raw vegetables, gluten-free breadsticks or gluten-free pumpernickel-like bread.

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Jerusalem artichoke dip

jerusalem artichoke dip

jerusalem artichoke dip

This dip is thick so you can dip crudites or GF bread sticks or spread this on a lovely GF bagel. I’ve heard you can also use dip/spread recipe instead of using pesto.The artichokes have quite a strong woodsy flavour, so if you do not like strong flavours you’re not going to like this dip/spread — again, think of pesto — if you add too much pesto the flavour is FAR too strong to eat.

Some more background: Jerusalem artichokes are not actually artichokes. They are the tuber a native Canadian (and American) wild sunflower. They can be eaten like a potato but have a much stronger mustier taste.

Jerusalem artichokes are very high in inulin, they help your body absorb calcium and magnesium and will promote the growth of healthy beneficial bacteria in your tummy. This is great for people who have had some sort of intestinal damage — does this sound like you? Because they affect your intestinal tract JA’s can cause.. er… wind, similar to that experienced if you ate too many beans.

Another warning: even though the Jerusalem artichoke is a native to Canada (and parts of the US), Agriculture Canada considers this plant to be an agricultural weed — it competes with crop plants. So, if you compost like me (i.e. I don’t turn over my compost, so the compost does not get very hot) do make sure you cut your unused tubers into tiny pieces before composting, if you don’t you may have a weed problem. That being said, the flowers of the Jerusalem artichoke are marvellously pretty, so maybe you do want a weed problem?

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb (340 g) Jerusalem artichokes
  • 1 bunch green Swiss chard or spinach (I used chard)
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) GF mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) real Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro (coriander leaves)

Instructions

  1. With artichokes with a brush, they tend to be dirty so scrub really well. If you cannot clearly see the rings around the tuber then you haven’t scrubed them enough. Dry them with a tea towel.
  2. LIGHTLY rub artichokes with oil. I cannot stress lightly enough. If you rub too much they will be a real pain to peel.
  3. Bake in a casserole dish or on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 375F (190C)
  4. Meanwhile, remove the stems and the hard centre vein of each green leaf (of chard or spinach) and steam until wilted. This shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes. Let leaves cool.
  5. When the artichokes are finished, remove them from the oven and let them cool.
  6. When cool enough to handle, peel the artichokes. This is the worst part of the whole recipe. Its a pain, but its worth it. Discard the peel.
  7. Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture is nice and smooth.
  8. ENJOY!

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Greenbeans with scallions and ground almonds (for two), naturally gluten-free

Today I’m too lazy to write an intro for this recipe. The photo speaks for itself. YUMMY!

green beans with scallions and ground almonds

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lbs (220 g) green beans
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced scallions (green onions), whites and greens
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter, olive oil, or non-dairy substitute. I used butter.

Directions

  1. Boil green beans in a pot of water for about 4 minutes, until bright green but still crunchy
  2. Place beans in a bowl of cold (or iced if you have it) water to stop the cooking process. To be honest, I just shoved the beans in cool tap water and placed them on the porch. Its -22 F (-30C) outside today.
  3. In a skillet, sauté scallions (medium heat) in butter/non-dairy substitute/olive oil, when soft and the whites have become transparent add the ground almonds
  4. Continue to sauté on medium heat until almonds are toasted a light brown
  5. Add the green beans to the skillet and cook until just heated through
  6. ENJOY!


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Awesome gluten-free oatmeal and honey bread (only for celiacs who can tolerate uncontaminated oats!!)

I got home from work today and I really wanted to make oatmeal bread. The trouble was that the recipe I normally make (from “Complete gluten-free cookbook by Washburn and Butt) called for a couple of ingredients I don’t have in the house at the moment. One of them being apple cider. I thought that I could possibly use apple juice, but I didn’t have any of that either.

I really wanted oatmeal bread! I began searching around the internet and found — nothing! Absolutely nothing! It was horrible. I’m sure the reason is that uncontaminated oatmeal and oat flour is difficult to find (at least it is in my area). So, I just winged the whole recipe! It came out wonderfully! I used the gluten-free setting on my cuisinart bread maker. I did stop the rise half way through the rise cycle as the loaf didn’t take very long (at all!) to rise, and if I had left it longer it would have collapsed. So, if you are using a breadmaker, only let the bread rise for 1/2 hour, then set the machine to bake for 1 hour. Of course you can just do the whole thing using a stand-mixer and a regular old oven. Who needs a bread maker? (Well I do, because I don’t own a stand mixer… its a sad state of affairs).

I can’t find my camera. I don’t know what I did with it! Hopefully I’ll find it before I eat the entire loaf. Regardless, here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

wet ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (177 mL) warm water
  • 3/4 cup (177 mL) warm milk
  • 1 egg (lightly whisked)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) apple sauce (sugar free)
  • 1 1/4 tsp (6.25 mL) cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) honey
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) walnut oil

dry ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups (375 mL) all purpose gluten-free flour mix, your choice.
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) certified gluten-free oats
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) certified gluten-free oat flour
  • 3 tbsps (45 mL) brown sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) salt
  • 3/4 (11 mL) tbsp yeast

Directions:

  1. If using a bread machine, put all of the wet ingredients in first. If your machine has a pre-heat cycle, let this run now! If using an oven: mix all th wet ingredients together with a whisk or wooden spoon.
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl or a bag so that the mixture is uniform.
  3. If you are using an oven: now is the time to combine the dry and wet ingredients with a stand mixer or a powerful hand mixer. Mix for 4 minutes! If you’re using a bread machine: put the dry ingredients into the machine now, and help the kneeding blade to mix the dough with a spatula or wooden spoon (just be careful not to break the moving blade!). If you are using an oven: put the ingredients into a large bread loaf pan, or split between 2 small loaf pans. Don’t try to cram it all into a 9×5 pan! It won’t fit!
  4. No matter what method you use, let the loaf rise for 1/2 an hour BUT NO LONGER! The oat flour is light and it doesn’t rise like other gluten-free flours.
  5. If using an oven: shove the loaf in an oven set to 350F (180C) for about an hour (or until the internal temperature is about 195F (91C). If you have two smaller loaves you’ll have to adjust the cooking time accordingly. If using a bread machine: make sure you stop the kneeding cycle early, and put the machine on a bake only cycle for 1 hour. If you have a crust and loaf size setting use a 2 lbs loaf setting and dark crust.
  6. Take the loaf(s) out of the pan(s) and let cool completley on the counter before slicing.
  7. ENJOY!

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Spicy bean, pesto and vegetable soup, with swiss chard – a gluten-free, vegan recipe

bean soup editedI was in the mood for soup so I whipped up this in no time flat! Super easy to make, and full of flavour!

Add less vegetable broth if you prefer — the soup becomes more chili-like.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large French shallots (or regular onions if you haven’t any shallots), roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 leeks, greens removed, whites sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
  • 1 large can crushed or diced tomatoes, preferably salt-free, do not drain!
  • 6 cups (1.5 L) vegetable stock, preferably salt free
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in cubes
  • 2 cups swiss chard, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut in cubes
  • 1 can Romano beans, drained and rinsed (2 cups (500 mL) dried, soaked overnight if you haven’t any canned)
  • 1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed (2 cups (500 mL) dried, soaked overnight if you haven’t any canned)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped very fine
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 tsp dried
  • 1/4 tsp chili oil, or more if you like things really spicy. Chili powder can be used if you don’t have chili oil, just add slowly until you have the taste you desire.
  • 1 tbsp pesto, canned or homemade
  • if you used salted tomatoes or vegetable broth, you probably don’t need any salt. If you used salt-free, add salt to taste. Frankly I don’t think this recipe needs any salt.
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • rice pasta (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a large stock pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and leeks, saute until soft.
  2. Add tomatoes, the juice from the can, the stock to the pot, the parsley and the thyme. Bring to a low boil.
  3. Add vegetables to the pot, simmer until carrots are soft, time will depend on how thick you sliced the carrots
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients (but NOT the rice pasta) to the pot. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile boil the rice pasta as per package instructions.
  6. To serve, add a bit of the rice pasta to the bottom of the bowl, pour soup over top of the rice. Don’t forget to discard the thyme springs! Nobody wants them in their bowl.
  7. ENJOY!

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Very simple gluten-free mac and cheese, a recipe

Today I decided to take my old gluten filled mac and cheese recipe and create a gluten-free version. All I did was use potato flour instead of all-purpose and then used glutino brown rice pasta elbows instead of my normal kamut pasta.

All I can say is YUM! There really was no difference in taste! The cost of the pasta was a lot steeper, but that was to be expected. Anyway, I am thrilled with the result! I forgot to take a photograph (I just wanted to eat! I was starving) but here is the very simple recipe. Makes 6-8 side servings, depending on how hungry you are!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box glutino brown rice pasta elbows
  • 10.5 oz (300g) old cheddar
  • 1.5 (300 mL) cups skim (fat-free) milk
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) potato flour/starch
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch salt
  • pinch freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta as per instructions, but subtract the cooking time by about 2 minutes. I boiled for 9 minutes when the package suggested 11.
  2. In a small sauce pan melt butter, add the milk and the flour. Stir constantly and simmer for 5 minutes or until it just starts to thicken.
  3. Add the cheese, and stir into the milk until melted.
  4. Put cooked pasta and sauce into a casserole, mix around until even.
  5. Bake in oven at 350F (180C) for 15 minutes, or until the top is starting to brown.
  6. ENJOY!

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Vegetable Stock- a step-by-step method

the bare min Yum! Vegetable stock. Canned vegetable stock cannot even begin to flavour your food as well (or as cheaply) as homemade stock. It is so versatile and so easy to make that I honestly don’t know why anybody would buy the stuff in cans. You don’t have to go running to the store to buy vegetables to make vegetable stock. USE WHAT YOU HAVE IN THE HOUSE! You can even use vegetable scraps to make the stock. Carrot tops, ends of celery, broccoli stems etc. can be frozen and then pulled out to make your stock. Yes, I know those items also make excellent compost, and if you’re an avid gardener (like me!) you will just go to the store and buy vegetables to make stock in order to make sure that your Summer harvest tomatoes are well fed. My point is you don’t have to throw anything out, you can use scraps, you can usually just use what you have in your fridge.

That being said, there is a bare minimum of ingredients you need to make a reasonable stock. I do realize that the more types of veg you put in your stock, the richer it will taste, but you can still make veggie stock that is far superior to anything canned with a few simple ingredients. The picture (above) illustrates my point. To make a vegetable stock all you need are three carrots, three stalks of celery, a garlic clove, a sweet onion (but any type of onion will do), enough water to cover the cut up veg, a cutting board, a knife and a stock pot. There are no seasonings like salt or pepper in a stock. You are going to use this stock to make another recipe, that is why it is a stock — it is never served on its own! If you add salt/pepper/other spices you have made a broth. Yup. Salt and pepper are really the only difference between a vegetables stock and a vegetable broth. This is not true of chicken/beef/pork broth stock. Animals stock is made from bones where animal broth is made using the whole carcass (or pieces of carcass) meat included. But I digress, you really want to know how to make stock! (more below the cut)

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