Mango Salad Recipe

Short and sweet blog entry today – I knocked off this recipe this morning, and have a bunch of friends waiting on me to share it… so, good excuse to post this blog!

Shortly after moving to Ontario, we happened across a Vietnamese restaurant on our way into Toronto one day. We’d gone in wanting pho, or maybe a vermicelli noodle bowl… but we were intrigued by the mango salad on the menu. I’d never seen it before, and it sounded amazing.

Blew. My. Mind.

After that, we noticed it on other Asian restaurant menus – at the sushi place we like, at a Chinese restaurant we’d met friends at. I guess it’s a *thing* here… but none of those other salads lived up to that first one.

We’ve been back to that restaurant a few times, and that salad has me happily rocking in my seat each time.

… We may actually need to rename “The Sushi Rock” “The Mango Salad Rock”. (It’s one of my happy Autistic stims. Basically the complete opposite of my “IKEA 2 days before Christmas Flap”!)

Excuse my crappy cellphone photo of the source material. It’s kind of amazing I actually managed to get a photo before inhaling it!

I love the bright colours and flavours of it. It’s such a sunny dish, and the taste of it lingers (and burns a little!) on the lips for a fair amount of time afterwards, just a drawn out reminder of how amazing it was. Pretty sure it’s actually my favourite dish, now.

Anyway, I shared a photo on my personal Facebook this past weekend, raving about how amazing it was. Friends who don’t live in Ontario hadn’t heard of it, and I promised I would share my recipe as soon as I replicated it.

… and here we are.

Look at this other crappy cell phone photo of the preparation:

Even the separate ingredients just look amazing! LOVE.

Anyway. For this recipe, you’ll want under ripe mangoes – pick ones that are pretty hard. They’ll have the best texture for this, and besides… it’s a salad, not a dessert! It’s also vegetarian and gluten-free!

When it comes to servings… I have no idea. I can put away a truly embarrassing amount of this salad in one sitting, so it’s hard to estimate how much it makes. I’d say 3 as a main dish, and maybe 6 as a side?

Enjoy!

Mango Salad

Makes 3-6 servings

2 under ripe mangoes
1 Large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
½ Small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 Red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Fresh mint, chopped
3 Tbsp Fresh lime juice
4 Tbsp Vegetable oil
2 tsp Granulated sugar
1- 1 ½ tsp Crushed dried chilies
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
Cashew halves or pieces

Peel mango, slice fruit into long, thin strips (thicker than matchstick). Place in a large bowl, along with peppers, onion, cilantro, and mint – mix well.

In a small food processor or blender, combine lime juice, oil, sugar, chilies, pepper, and salt. Blitz until well combined, and chilies are finely chopped.

Pour dressing over salad, toss well to fully coat. Chill for 30 minutes or so before serving… assuming you can wait that long. (I could not)

Serve topped with a handful of cashews.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Chicken-Based Swedish Potato Sausage Recipe – Potatiskorv

Today’s recipe was a fun challenge to tackle.

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is no longer able to eat pork or beef, which has been … interesting… to work around. It’s not a religious or ideological thing, his body just can’t handle either any more.

SO, for the most part, he just eats chicken, fish, or vegetarian dishes, and doesn’t normally miss the pork or beef – save for the odd cheeseburger craving. For the few favourites that he didn’t want to give up, I’ve had great success with replicating the taste and texture, using non-pork ingredients. For instance, my Chicken and Mushroom Tourtiere, or my Vegan Donair “Meat”.

Early on in our marriage, my husband made mention of potato sausage he used to get as a kid. His extended family all went in on a bulk order of the stuff from some unnamed (to him) supplier, and they’d split it up, freeze it all, and eat it over the following month or two.

We bought a few different kinds over the years, all of which he found to be “meh” – they weren’t THE ONE. He knew.

Last year – our final Christmas in the US – I happened across a little Scandinavian store in Minneapolis, and picked up a bit of their sausage for the hell of it. As luck would have it, that was THE ONE.

Unfortunately… it’s a pork and beef sausage. He braved the consequences and had some anyway, just in the name of nostalgia, but I promised him I’d make a safe version. It felt like big shoes to fill, having seen how “meh” he was over everything that wasn’t IT.

I played around with chicken, mushrooms, potatoes, and spices, and came up with a recipe that was BANG ON, bringing him right back to his childhood on the first bite! Even his father was shocked and in disbelief – He seemed to think we were pulling his leg when we told him that we’d made it at home, and it was chicken!

The only problem? When frozen and thawed, my sausage turned all kinds of ugly colours – like blue black, marbled in. After making some calls, we learned that this was safe – if unappetizing – it was just the raw potato oxidizing. The solution? Cook the potatoes first.

I tweaked the recipe, tested it out, and here we are! Once stuffed into casings, this sausage can be boiled right away, put in the fridge for a day or two if needed, or frozen – so do whatever makes the most sense for your needs, without worry about discolouration!

Note: Sausage making can be a bit of an… undertaking. This recipe can easily and successfully be halved, for a smaller batch!

Swedish Potato Sausage Recipe, Chicken Version.
Makes about 10 lbs of sausage

2 lbs Boneless skinless chicken breast
4 lbs Boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 lbs Russet potatoes
1 ½ lbs Yellow onions
1 lb Baby Bella / Crimini mushrooms
3 Tbsp Salt
2 Tbsp Pepper
1 ½ tsp Allspice
3/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 cup Milk
Casings*

* We used pork casings, available at most butchers, as it doesn’t cause him a problem, and it’s easy. If you need it to be NO pork, you’ll want to use synthetic casings – I have no experience with those, so I don’t have any advice there.

Peel potatoes, chop into 1″ cubes. Place in a large microwave safe dish and cook on high for 10-15 minutes, or until fork tender. Set aside

Peel and chop your onions, chop mushrooms. Add both to a food processor, process until finely chopped / pureed. Add to bowl of cooked potatoes, mash until not quite smooth. Set aside.

Set your food grinder with the coarse disk, and process the chicken down. In a large bowl, combine chicken with potato mushroom mixture. Add remaining ingredients, mix well.

Following the instructions on your meat grinder / sausage stuffer, set it up with the appropriate nozzle to make sausages. Make the sausages whatever size you like – we usually aim for about the diameter and length of a kielbassa ring, but you can make them longer or shorter – a whole coil, as pictured, or individual sausages. Tie off ends:

Use a fork to poke a few holes in each sausage.

To cook, place in a pot of boiling water, turn heat down to a simmer, and allow to cook for about 30 minutes.

To serve: Pan fry cooked sausage in butter, either whole or sliced up.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Replica Recipe: Trader Joe’s Tofu Edamame Nuggets (Gluten-Free)

A while back, a friend of mine posted on Facebook, lamenting the discontinuation of a food they were very fond of – Trader Joe’s Tofu Edamame Nuggets. One of my “big autistic superpowers” is being able to accurately replicate commercially produced food products (See: a big chunk of the recipes in “More Than Poutine!), so I wanted to help.

Problem 1: I’d never tried the source material.

Problem 2: The source material was no longer available… and my friend lived very far away!

I DO love a challenge though, so I offered to give it a go anyway. My husband is borderline vegetarian himself, and is always up for fun new treats.

First level research was easy: Finding the ingredient listing, nutritional data, and product images online – both commercially photographed, and photos from customers who bought them.

This gave me a good idea of what I’d need for my recipe – minus a few unnecessary commercial ingredients.

The next step was to fill in the missing pieces, the information that’s not as easily obtained through an ingredient list.

This is where thorough questioning came in. Lucky for me (and them, and all of you!), my friend is as good at answering questions as I am at asking them. Within a few minutes, I had a long list of very detailed information about the textures, mouth feel, ingredient sizing and proportions, and much more.

My lovely friend is also autistic, which was absolutely a blessing – NO ONE notice, catalogs, and clearly and efficiently relay fine details about things like an autistic!

Between the nutritional data and my friend’s detailed notes, I was able to put together a fantastic recipe. Aside from the “leave out unnecessary commercial ingredients” adjustment, I also developed this recipe to be gluten-free, as my friend has wheat issues.

I’m basically an obligate carnivore, and I’ve got to say – these are really tasty. REALLY tasty!

I’ve done up the directions so that you can cook and eat these fresh, OR be more true to the source material and par-cook them before freezing, so they’re available as a “throw it in the oven” convenience food, later on.

If you were a fan of the source material, be sure to try these and let me know what you think!

Replica Recipe: Trader Joe’s Vegetable Nuggets

Makes about 28 nuggets

Filling:

1 Brick medium-soft tofu, about 1 lb
½ White onion
1 Egg
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 ½ tsp Nutritional yeast, optional
3/4 cup Soy flour
1/4 cup Corn starch
1 tsp Garlic powder
½ tsp Pepper
3/4 tsp Salt
2/3 cup Shelled edamame
1/3 cup Shredded carrot (Large shred, not fine)

Drain tofu, wrap in 3 layers of paper towels, and place in a strainer. Add something a little heavy – we used a peanut butter jar – on top, to press. The tofu will mush a bit, that’s OK. Allow to stand for ten minutes. Discard paper towels, chop up pressed tofu and transfer to a food processor.

Grate onion. With clean hands, squeeze out as much water as you can. Measure 2 Tbsp squeezed onion into a food processor, along with egg, soy sauce, and nutritional yeast, if using. Blitz until smooth and well combined.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine soy flour, corn starch, garlic powder, pepper, and salt. Add tofu mixture, stir until smooth and well combined. Add edamame and carrot, stir until vegetables are well distributed.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using two tablespoons, scoop mounds of filling onto the prepared baking sheets – you’ll want rounded Tablespoons, close to about 2 Tbsp in volume. Use a wet finger to smooth mound into a “nugget” about 1.5″ x 2.5″, and about ½” thick. Once all nuggets are formed, transfer pans to freezer and allow to chill until firm.

Once your patties are prepared, heat vegetable oil to 375 F. You can use a deep fryer, or a heavy pan. If not using a deep fryer, use a deep, heavy pot, filled to at least 3″ deep. As oil is heating, prepare your batter:

Batter:

½ cup Masa flour
½ cup White rice flour
1/4 cup Corn starch
½ tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp Paprika (for colour)
1 Large egg
1 tsp Soy sauce (does this need salt?)
1 1/4 cup Cold water

Whisk together dry ingredients. Add egg and soy sauce, whisk until well combined. Add a small amount of water, stirring to combine. Continue adding cold water, stirring gently until just combined – mixture can be a bit lumpy.

For best results, set bowl of batter in another, larger bowl that is filled with ice. The colder the batter, the better the coating!

Gently dip chilled patties in the batter one at a time, slowly removing from the batter and allowing excess to drip off. Carefully transfer to heated oil. Fry a few at a time – turning every couple of minutes.

To eat immediately:
Fry until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer fried pieces to platter lined with paper towels. Salt lightly – if you’d like – and serve hot!

To freeze and heat/eat later:
Fry only until batter is no longer wet and is only lightly golden, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from oil, transfer to paper towels, and blot well. Cool to room temperature. Arrange on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, freeze. Once frozen, transfer to airtight freezer container until use.

To bake frozen nuggets:
Preheat oven to 350F. Place frozen nuggets on a baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes. Flip each nugget, bake for 10 more minutes. Serve hot!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Banh Mi Power Bowls (Gluten Free!)

One thing I’m loving about our new life in Ontario is the multiculturalism – and the food, by extension. Even the most mainstream grocery stores have a wide variety of interesting ingredients and prepared foods from around the globe. I can go grocery shopping, and hear 6+ different languages spoken, as I wander the aisles! LOVE IT.

There’s also an abundance of ethnic food available from restaurants. No exaggeration, you can find shawarma easier than a mainstream fast food chain: Shawarma places are everywhere, along with every other cuisine you can think of. There are several different places that specialize in banh me (Vietnamese sandwiches) AND deliver through the major services!

Our first few weeks here saw us eating banh mi on an almost daily basis. It was cheap, easy, full of good stuff, and was only $3-3.50 for a meal. Can’t beat it!

I’ve been getting more into making power bowls at home for meals lately. Combine that, with our love for banh mi, and the fact that our favourite place is a 15 minute drive away, and … today’s recipe was bound to happen. I’d seen mention of a banh mi bowl on social media, and decided to make my own take on the idea.

We eat a lot of chicken in this house, so that was the protein I chose. You can use whatever banh mi fillings you like, though. There’s a “dry” tofu that our fav Banh Mi place uses – we initially thought it was some kind of mushroom! – that we’ve since found at a local Asian grocery that would be great, sliced up over this. Use BBQ pork, or whatever else you like.

This makes a bit more pickled veggies than you’ll actually need for 4 servings. I like to use the extras to make actual banh mi, to put on other meals (they add a flavour punch to a variety of foods!), or just to munch on.

Also: To make this gluten-free, just be sure to use a GF soy sauce – it’s that easy!

Banh Mi Bowl

Serves 4

Pickled Veggies:

1 large carrot
1 small daikon radish
1 jalapeno
1 cup water
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt

Peel carrot and radish, slice jalapeno in half and remove the seeds (optional). Use a vegetable peeler to create long strips of the carrot. Even the smallest daikon radish is going to make a lot more strips than a large carrot, so I like to peel enough daikon to create about the same volume of strips as the carrot. Feel free to make more or less, depending on your tastes. Slice jalapeno into long, thin strips. Set vegetables aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Add carrot, radish, and jalapeno strips to this mixture, stir well to combine.

Cover bowl, refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Marinated Chicken:

2 large (or 3 medium) chicken breasts
1/4 cup soy sauce (Gluten-free if needed)
1-2 Tbsp ginger/garlic paste*
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1Tbsp Sriracha
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp fish sauce

* This is a paste I buy in jars, and use a lot when cooking Asian or Indian dishes. You can find it in Indian and/or Asian grocers, and sometimes in the Asian aisle of mainstream grocers. We use 2 Tbsp for a potent flavour, but you can cut it back to 1 Tbsp if you prefer more mild flavours.

Slice chicken into whatever form you prefer – strips, small cubes, etc – and place into a bowl or plastic baggie for marinating.

Whisk together soy sauce, ginger garlic paste, rice vinegar, Sriracha, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Pour over cut up chicken, stir well to coat. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

For serving:

3 1/4 cups chicken broth**
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ an English cucumber, sliced
Cilantro, chopped
Green onions
Sesame seeds

** Here in Canada, Campbell’s makes a “Thai” chicken broth, which is what we use for this. Regular chicken broth works just fine if you can’t get this, though!

To Assemble:

45 minutes before you want to serve it, cook the brown rice in the chicken broth.

When the rice is almost ready, use a slotted spoon to strain excess liquid off chicken (don’t throw out the marinade!), transferring chicken to a nonstick frying pan along with olive oil. Cook until browned, then add the leftover marinade and simmer for 2 minutes, or until chicken is cooked all the way through.

Divide rice among bowls. Top with cooked chicken, pickled veggies, cucumber, cilantro, and green onions. Drizzle with a little cooked marinade from the pan, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve immediately.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

“Extreme” Caesar Salad Recipe (And Homemade Croutons!)

About a year or so ago, I happened across a post – maybe it was a tweet? – where someone mentioned using mayo as a base for Caesar dressing.

I hadn’t considered it before – it’s easy enough to make an emulsion with a stick blender or food processor after all – but it was actually kind of brilliant. Not only did it make things a lot easier, it gets rid of the worries associated with the use of raw eggs.

I decided to mess around with making a mayo based Caesar dressing to our tastes, and came up with this… monstrosity.

This dressing smells TERRIBLE. It burns to eat. The lemon in it makes my tongue feel like it’s ripped to shreds halfway through.

… and it is – far and away – the BEST Caesar salad I’ve ever had in my life.

The weird thing about this recipe is that almost every rave I have about it sounds completely negative! This isn’t about “burst of flavour”, it’s more like “punch you in the face with flavour”. This recipe is definitely geared towards garlic lovers, so keep that in mind!

If you’ve never worked with anchovies before, you may have a weird idea of what to expect. Though this recipe has a lot of anchovy in it, it doesn’t taste fishy at all. Anchovy doesn’t really taste like fish, it just has a rich, salty, complex flavour that adds a ton of character to whatever you put it in. You buy them in little jars, either by the canned meats, or in the fresh fish aisle, depending on your grocery store.

This dressing whips up in just minutes, and makes a SUPER potent dressing. A little goes a long way, so use less dressing than you think you’ll need – you can always mix more in if you want to kick it up a notch or ten!

Anyway.

Making homemade croutons is a good way to accent this dressing, because who wants crappy store bought croutons when you’re serving a special dressing? Not I! So, I’m including a non-recipe recipe for my croutons at the end of the dressing recipe. It only takes about 3 minutes to prepare, and 15 or so minutes to bake – totally worth the effort!

Enjoy!

Caesar Dressing

Makes just over 1 cup of dressing

6 Anchovy fillets
5-6 Cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
1 tsp Grated lemon zest
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

In a small food processor or blender, combine anchovies, pressed garlic, and lemon juice, blitzing to create a smooth paste. Add zest, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, once again blitzing until combined and smooth. Add mayo and cheese, blitz once more to combine.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Homemade Croutons

Bread of choice*
Butter or oil**
Garlic powder
Dried parsley
Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or don’t. It’s not really needed, but makes clean up easier!)

First, cut your bread into cubes of whatever size you like, and place in a bowl that’s big enough to stir them around easily. I like to cut fairly big pieces, so that they can get toasty and crisp on the outside, and stay tender inside. Your mileage may vary!

Next, melt your butter (if using). Drizzle some butter or oil over the bread pieces, tossing well to coat. You want them lightly coated, not drowning in butter. Eyeball it – you can always add more if you feel it needs it!

Once you have the bread lightly coated, sprinkle on the remaining ingredients, to suit your tastes. Taste as you go!

Once you’re happy with the flavour, spread the bread pieces out on your baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes, stirring a few times during the baking. If you’re happy with the colour of them at 15 minutes, remove and let cool slightly before adding to your salad. If not, let them bake a little while longer, keeping an eye on them.

* While many people use stale bread, I don’t. I like soft interiors to my croutons, so I just chill a few slices for a bit to make them easier to cut nicely. If you like very crunchy croutons, use stale bread. In terms of type, I like bread with a little character – this was a flax seed bread. You can use whatever bread you like, however – even gluten-free!

** If you want to be *Extra* about it, you can use melted bacon drippings in place of butter or oil!

Crab Rangoon Pizza

A few weeks ago, a thread on a Facebook group – I don’t even remember what it was about – ended up drifting to the point where I learned something interesting: Crab Rangoon Pizza is a THING. I’d never heard of it, and had never considered the possibility, but all of a sudden I NEEDED IT.

I wanted it to be our own, so I brainstormed with my husband on what we would want “Crab Rangoon Pizza” to be. We decided no pizza sauce, using Rangoon filling as the sauce. I would do a higher proportion of crab to cream cheese than I normally do, to balance out the cheese that would top it. It would need a lot of green onions. The crust should be thin and crisp, as a stand in for the wontons.

Sweet chili sauce should be involved somehow. We debated this for a bit… Should we brush the crust with it before spreading the filling? (No, too messy). Should we drizzle it on before baking? After baking? Just use it as a pizza dip?

After some playing around with it, the clear winner was to drizzle it on after baking. Baking didn’t add anything to it, and it just looked nicer as a fresh, unbaked drizzle.

This was fantastic! A ton of flavour, a great alternative to traditional pizza flavours and textures. We made this gluten free, utilizing “Caulipower” crusts, but you can use any pre-made pizza crust or crust recipe that you like.

While I think thin crust works well with the idea of Rangoon, I think a thicker, softer crust would hit the comfort food feeling even more than this already did – I’m definitely going to try it that way in the future!

After we snarfed our pizza, we Googled to see how our creation compared to what was out there. Looks like we hit the same basic concept, had proportionately more crab (which it really needs!)… but the real stunner, for me, was that some people apparently make Crab Rangoon with fake crab? I had no idea – I’ve never had/seen if made with fake crab. Definitely use real crab if at all possible.

Anyway, enjoy!

Crab Rangoon Pizza
Makes enough “sauce” for 2 Medium pizzas or one extra large pizza

Sauce:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cans crabmeat (~6 oz each), well drained
4 green onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4-1/2 tsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

Assembly:

Pizza crust(s) of your choice
Thinly sliced green onions
Grated cheese – We like a mix of Mozzarella, Provolone, and Parmesan for this.
Sweet chili sauce

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in crab meat, green onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and sesame oil, stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, set aside.

Following the baking directions for your pizza crust, assemble the pizza. (Some crusts/crust recipes want you to bake it for a bit before putting toppings on, some don’t. Do whatever is supposed to work for the crust you’re using.)

– Spread crust(s) with sauce.
– Sprinkle generously with sliced green onions, top with grated cheese.

Bake as directed. Remove from oven, drizzle with sweet chili sauce, serve immediately.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Moi-Moi Recipe

The brain can be a funny thing some time. I’ve been craving moi-moi for over a week now, ever since seeing Black Panther (One of the best movies I’ve ever seen, Shuri is EVERYTHING, I will spare you a page full of raving!).

The movie never made mention of moi-moi, btw. I don’t think it made mention of food at all, now that I think about it… but the MUSIC. The music made me homesick for Winnipeg, by way of Folklorama, where my husband and I love the African pavilions in particular. (and the Greek pavilion… and the First Nations pavilion… and the Ukrainian pavilion.. well, basically everything!)

Being immersed in that music for a couple hours brought me back to the first time I had moi-moi, at the Africa Pavilion. We always try a bit of everything when we go to Folklorama, and I think we paid $1 for a serving of moi-moi. We had no idea what to expect, and we were presented with a pretty little mound that looked like a pink panna cotta. It was warm – which surprised us – and had a texture sort of like mousse, but more solid.

I was instantly in love, and broke my “don’t order more than one of the same thing at Folklorama!” rule… a few times. Whoops. Whatever, it’s healthy – moi-moi is MINE-MINE!

Anyway, yes… Black Panther -> joyous African music -> Boom, week long craving activated.*

Moi-Moi (or moin-moin) is a traditional dish in Nigeria, a steamed bean pudding. It can be vegetarian or not, it can be served straight up, or with any number of items baked into it – hard boiled eggs, corned beef, etc. It can be served warm or cold, and is just a really great, healthy dish.

I’m very much “the way I first have it is the RIGHT way” when it comes to things (even when I know otherwise – again, the brain is a funny thing!), so I make it based on the first way I had it – vegetarian, no “extras” baked in, served warm.

I’ve tweaked my recipe a few times, and I think I’ve got it almost accurate to the source material, save for one small thing – texture. I don’t get mine QUITE as smooth as they do, because I kind of mail it in when it comes to peeling the beans. Theirs was silky smooth, mine is just slightly short of that. Still has an amazing texture, and the flavour is amazing.

You know, I hate the term “greater than the sum of its parts”, but this is one instance where that phrase really applies. This is such a simple dish, with pretty basic ingredients… I have no idea how it ends up so flavourful and amazing. It doesn’t sound like much, on paper!

I like to eat this straight out of the oven, or sliced and reheated. Serve it with rice or a salad for a meal, or just munch on it alone as a high protein snack.

* It’s not the only time we’ve had powerful Folkloama cravings brought on by music. The song “Hot” (by Middle Phinger) on the “Beatclub – A Celebration of Canadian Dance Music” CD reminds us of the music Afro-Caribbean pavilion dancers use for the limbo dancing, and it always makes us crave Roti.

Moin-Moin / Moi-moi Recipe

Makes 2 bread pans worth of pudding

1 lb dry black eyed peas
2 large red bell peppers
1 large onion
2 habaneros
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 cubes of chicken or vegetable bouillon
2 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/3 cup vegetable oil

The night before you want to make this, get the beans started:

In a large bowl, cover the beans with hot water, allow to soak for 1 hour. Drain the water off, transfer beans to a food processor, and blitz about ten times, just to break them up a bit. Return beans to the large bowl, cover with hot water, and agitate – the skins will start to float.

Use a slotted spoon to skim off floating skins, and dispose. Stir the beans with your hands a bit, rubbing beans together as you go – more skins will float. Skim those off, and repeat.

Once skins stop floating, I pour the water off carefully – it’ll bring more water with it. I’ll scoop bits of skins off the surface of the beans – sometimes they don’t get carried off by the water. Cover with more water, and repeat.

Once I’m happy with the amount of skins removed, I’ll cover it with water one more time, and allow it to soak overnight.

To make the moi-moi:

Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C. Liberally spray two glass bread pans (or several ramekins) with cooking spray, set aside.

Chop and seed the bell and habanero peppers, peel and chop the onion. Add peppers, onion, garlic, and bouillon cubes to food processor, process until smooth.

Drain the beans, add beans to food processor and process til smooth. Add a little water, if you need, to get it going – but not a lot. I tend to let the food processor run for about 5 minutes, your mileage may vary.

Once smooth, add salt, paprika, and vegetable oil, blitz again until well incorporated.

Place each bread pan into a larger baking dish. Add water to large baking dish until about halfway up the sides of the moi-moi dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, transfer to oven.

Bake for about 2 – 2 ½ hours, until the sides of the moi-moi start to pull away from the baking dish. Allow to cool a little, before inverting onto a serving plate.

Serve warm, enjoy!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup with Gluten-Free Dumplings

This weekend, I’m finally getting around to doing belated American Thanksgiving. We’d actually taken a trip up to Winnipeg a couple weeks ago, so didn’t do anything really Thanksgiving-y at the time.

As with any time I roast a turkey, part of the grocery planning involves what do to with the leftovers – and that generally involves me making bone broth off the carcass. One of my favourite things to do with homemade broth is to make this soup, originally published in my first gluten-free cookbook, Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking. This is definitely a favourite at our house – rich, thick, hearty, and one of the ultimate comfort foods.

While the recipe was originally designed to be used with fresh chicken breast – for speed and ease – it’s easy to make this with leftover turkey. Skip the initial browning of the meat, and simply toss in chopped up roasted turkey breast leftovers with the wild rice, broth, and potatoes.

It’s very customizable, even beyond choice of poultry. Sometimes I’ll skip the dumplings, sometimes I’ll add some parsnip with the carrots, and sometimes I’ll toss a couple handfuls of frozen peas in, right near the end.

Whichever way you do it, enjoy!

Gluten-Free Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup with Dumplings

2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Large onion, chopped
3.5-4 lbs Chicken breast, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, pressed
3 Carrots, sliced
5 Celery ribs, sliced
1 1/2 cups Uncooked wild rice
10 cups Chicken broth
2 lbs Red potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Brown rice flour
1 cup White wine
3 cups Heavy cream
1 Tbsp Dried savoury
Salt and pepper

In a large, heavy pot, cook onions in olive oil until just starting to go translucent. Add chicken breast, cook until outside browns slightly. Add garlic, carrots, and celery, cook for one minute. Add wild rice, broth, and potatoes, bring to a boil. Set a timer for 35 minutes.

While soup is boiling, make your roux:

Melt butter in a medium sized pot. Stir in flour until smooth. Cook over medium or medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to turn slightly golden. Add wine, whisk until smooth. Add cream, continue whisking until smooth. Turn heat down to lowest setting, keep warm, while making the dumplings:

1 cup Light buckwheat flour
3/4 cup Millet flour
1/4 cup Potato flour
1 Tbsp Parsley or savoury flakes
2 tsp Tapioca starch
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Shortening or butter
1 1/4 cup Milk or buttermilk

In a medium sized bowl, mix together flours, parsley or savoury flakes, tapioca starch, baking powder,and salt. Measure shortening/butter into the same bowl, and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork(s). The idea is to work it in until it’s evenly distributed throughout, in very small pieces.

Add milk/buttermilk, stir just until dough comes together. Don’t over stir or beat it. If dough is too crumbly, add a small amount of extra milk. If the dough is sticky, add a small amount of flour.

When the timer goes off, add the roux mixture to the main soup pot, stirring to combine well. Add savoury, season with salt and pepper to taste. Drop rounded tablespoons worth of dough into boiling soup. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes WITHOUT LIFTING THE LID. Serve hot.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Spinach Pies Recipe

So, we’re at that point in the moving phase, where we’re starting to look at pre-move bucket lists : things we want to do here, before moving to Canada.

For me, that means spending time with friends when possible. For my husband – who grew up here – it’s more things like going to the State Fair, Valley Fair, etc one last time. Also: Have me create a great Spinach Pie recipe. There’s a great local Lebanese deli – Emily’s – that makes spinach pies that he adores.

While we’d usually go for a direct replica when it comes to something like this, he decided he preferred to have a bit of fun with it, developing a custom filling. So, if you’re looking for an Emily’s knockoff, this is not the recipe you’re looking for! (It is definitely in the same ballpark, though.)

To adjust it a bit more to my husband’s tastes, there is more filling than in the source material, as well as flavour additions like kalamata olives. Ours features an egg glaze, giving the outside of the crust a bit of sheen, and a bit of bite/crunch. For a softer finished crust, skip the egg glaze.

Enjoy!

Makes 6 large hand pies

1 cup warm – not hot – water
4 tsp yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
½ cup sour cream
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, beaten

4 packets frozen chopped spinach (40 oz total), defrosted
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
4 oz crumbled feta
3 Tbsp finely chopped kalamata olives
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 oz pine nuts, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper

1 egg
1 Tbsp water

Stir yeast and sugar into warm water, allow to stand for 10 minutes – it should get very bubbly.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl: combine flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine. Add sour cream, olive oil, and eggs; mix well to combine.

Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.

While dough is rising, make your filling:

Squeeze all of the water out of the spinach, set aside.

In a large pan, saute onion in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add spinach and garlic, stir well to combine, cook over medium heat until liquid is completely gone. Remove from heat.

Stir in feta, olives, dill, pine nuts, lemon zest, and nutmeg, stirring until well combined. Add yogurt, stir until completely incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Once dough has doubled, punch it down, and divide it out. We divided the mixture into 6 equally sized balls, – but you can make them smaller by dividing into 8 sized pieces.

Preheat oven to 350 , line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stretch each dough ball into a round, approximately 8″ diameter. Scoop about 3/4 cup of filling into the center (1/2 cup, if making smaller ones), and fold the edges in to make a triangle, as shown below:

Gently flatten each pie out to about 1″ thick.

Once you have all of your pies formed, set them on lined baking sheets to rise for another 10 minutes.

Whisk egg together with 1 Tbsp of water, brush over the tops and sides of each hand pie. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm or room temperature, with tzatziki dip, if desired. (I have a great recipe for it in More Than Poutine!). Wrap any unused pies in plastic and chill until use.

Vegetarian Donairs / Vegan Donair Meat

Last May, I started dabbling in the creation of vegetarian meat substitutes – you may remember the entry on Boneless, Meatless Ribs, or the Vegetarian Chorizo Burger with Grilled Poblano and Cilantro Pesto.

Well, I was working on Donairs for More Than Poutine this week, and I was feeling a bit guilty that my husband wouldn’t get to try them. He’s never had a Donair, so that wasn’t helping things – he’s ALL about trying new foods.

So, as my own loaf of tasty tasty donair meat was almost ready to go in the oven, I decided I’d play around with my seitan recipe, and come up with a vegan donair meat for him. It was done completely as a surprise for him, he had no idea what I was up to. Frankly, I didn’t want to disappoint him if it didn’t turn out.

Well, I guess I was overly cautious, because it turned out amazing. I was kind of shocked at how much it looked, smelled, and felt like the real thing. I was actually able to taste a bite (I’m gluttening for the next week or so), and… damn. I could absolutely be tricked by it in a sandwich, had I not made the thing. Completely bizarre!

Anyway, he LOVED his first Donair ever, and joked that it should be called a “DON’Tair”, along the lines of food names being changed a bit to denote their vegetarian status. We also used red pepper instead of tomato, as he hates tomatoes.

While the Donair “meat” here is vegan, the sandwich itself is vegetarian. As he doesn’t have to be dairy free, I just haven’t played with the alternatives enough to have the first clue on how to make vegan donair sauce.

Vegetarian Donair Recipe
Makes enough for 4-6 Donairs

1 1/2 cups hot water
3 “Beef” flavoured vegetarian bouillon cubes
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
2 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
2 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
2 1/2 tsp Onion powder
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp Cayenne powder
2 Tbsp Almond butter

1 can (300ml) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 1/4 tsp garlic powder

4-6 pitas
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes (or, in his case, red pepper), chopped

Preheat oven to 325, grease a glass loaf pan (4″ x 8″ or similar size)

Dissolve “beef” bouillon cubes into hot water, set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and seasonings.

In a separate bowl, whisk together almond butter and 1 cup of the “beef” bouillon mix – a little at a time – until relatively smooth.

Once wet ingredients are well whisked, pour into dry ingredients and stir to form a lumpy dough. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface, and knead for at LEAST two minutes. This is important – if you don’t knead it enough, it’ll turn out puffy, and more like a baked good than a “meat” substitute. It won’t really look any different as you go, you just have to trust in your timing.

If you have a stand mixer, you can beat it in there on medium speed for a couple minutes, instead of kneading.

Press dough evenly into prepared loaf pan, bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool.

Excuse the crappy cell phone photo! I’m still shocked how proper it looks!

For sauce:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, vinegar, and garlic powder.

Use a whisk to mix together the sauce ingredients until well combined and thick. Transfer to a covered container, chill until use.

To Assemble:

Brush pitas with a little water, heat in a hot frying pan until warmed through.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan. Slice vegan donair meat into 1/4″ thick slices (or however thick/thin you prefer!), add to pan and reheat until desired texture (If you like the crispy edges, cook a little longer than you would if you don’t!)

Pile reheated “meat” on warm pita, drizzle generously with sauce, top with onions and tomatoes. Wrap in wax paper, parchment paper, or foil to hold it together while eating, serve immediately.

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

For MOST recipes that aren’t inherently gluten-free, high quality GF versions will be included.