Berbere Lentils Recipe (Yemisir Wat)

As you may know from previous blog entries – and social media posts! – we recently attended Folklorama, in Winnipeg. It’s my absolute favourite event every year, and has been kind of … therapeutic?… since moving to the USA.

Anyway, I’m planning to do a write up on it eventually, but in the meantime, back to today’s recipe!

The Ethiopian Pavilion is a must stop for us, every time that we make the trip for Folklorama. It’s not as big and flashy as many of the other pavilions, but what it DOES have is some of the absolute best food of the entire festival.

After returning from the trip this year, Porter requested that I figure out Ethiopian cooking – ESPECIALLY the firey lentils that he loves. So, I did a bunch of research and put together recipes for both the berbere seasoning (which seems to vary wildly, based on who makes it!), and the lentil dish named for the seasoning. Made a batch, LOVED it.

Couple days later, I get the following photos and a text of “YOU FINISHED THE LENTILS!?” from my husband:

… So I made another batch, and decided that I should probably blog the recipe. HIGHLY addictive stuff, this is!

First off, you’ll need to make the Berbere Seasoning. This makes more than you’ll need for the lentils recipe, but is great in almost anything that could use a kick. Try it as a dry rub on chicken!

Berbere Seasoning

½ cup dried chiles (packed!)
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cardamom seeds
½ tsp black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
2 Tbsp sweet paprika
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Measure chiles, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, peppercorns, and cloves into a dry, nonstick pan. Toast over medium heat, stirring constantly, until aromatic. Remove from heat, allow to cool.

In a spice grinder, process toasted spices into a fine powder. Allow to spices to settle a bit before opening the grinder – the powder can be irritating to lungs and nasal passages!. Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add remaining spices to the bowl, stir well. Store in an airtight container until use.

Berbere Lentils

Makes about 3 1/2 cups

1/2 cup canola oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped or grated
1/3 – 1/2 cup Berbere seasoning
1 Tbsp ginger puree
1 Tbsp minced, pressed, or pureed garlic
1 cup dried red lentils
3+ cups water
Salt and pepper

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, cook onions in canola oil until soft. Add Berbere (Start with 1/3 cup if you’re not used to this!), ginger, garlic, and lentils, stir well. Add 3 cups of water, bring to a boil.

Once mixture boils, turn heat down to medium or medium-low. Simmer lentils – stirring frequently – until water is absorbed and lentils are mushy. Remove from heat.

Taste, add more Berbere if you’d like, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot, with injera.

Cold Smoked Potato Salad Recipe

Last week, I happened across “smoked potato salad” at a specialty food store. Given that my husband is a sucker for anything smoked, I picked some up. It was ok – good even – but the smoked flavour only came from the mayo.

Of course, we discussed how we would have done it – smoking both the mayo and the potatoes. We discussed the other ingredients we’d use, and before I knew it, we were grocery shopping to make it happen.

Part of our discussion involved the various ways we could tackle the smoking. We could hot smoke the potatoes from raw, or we could pre-cook and cold smoke them. In the end, we decided to cold smoke them after boiling. It gave us more control over the finished texture, for one.

Secondly, I just prefer the texture of boiled potato salad, to roasted potato salad – and hot smoked potatoes would be closer to the texture of roasted.

Now, I’ve already got a great boiled potato salad recipe – my Grandma’s Potato Salad – which I believe to be the *best* potato salad ever… but this comes very, very close to that #1 spot for me, now.

Gramma’s will always have the nostalgia, but this one has a really great flavour, and it’s unique. This turned out fantastic, with a really great smoked flavour throughout! I think we’re going to have to smoke mayo on its own, just for use as a condiment on its own – it would be amazing on burgers and sandwiches.

Enjoy!

Cold Smoked Potato Salad

5 lbs small red potatoes
3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 ears corn, shucked(optional)
5 ribs celery, thinkly sliced
3 Green onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced in half, seeded, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
6 hardboiled eggs – cooled, peeled, and sliced

Wash potatoes, chop into 1″ cubes. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain, cool to room temp.

Prepare your smoker for cold smoking, based on your smoker’s instructions. Get smoke going!

Whisk together mayo, sour cream, and mustard. Spread on a small, rimmed cookie pan or baking dish. Fill another, larger (but small enough to fit in your smoker!) pan with ice. Place mayo pan on the ice.

Place stacked pans in smoker, along with cooled potatoes, and corn (if using). Cold smoke for 10 minutes.

Remove mayo mix pans from the smoker, allowing corn and potatoes to continue smoking. Stir the mayo mix, replace ice if melted. Return to smoker, continue to smoke for 10 more minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, celery, green onions, and jalapeno. If using corn, use a sharp knife to remove kernels from ear, stir kernels into potato mix.

Add about half of the mayo mix to the bowl of vegetables, mix well. Add more mayo mix, to taste. Season with salt and pepper, before gently stirring in sliced eggs.

Chill for an hour or two before serving.

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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.

Gyoza / Potstickers Recipe

Gyoza… what is there to say about gyoza?

Done right, these are supremely addictive. Yes, they’re supposed to be an appetizer, usually served 3-5 pieces per person… but I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve made a meal of them. (No, I’m not admitting to how many constitute a “meal”, either!). They’re ingredient-intensive and a bit of work, but SO worth it!

I love gyoza with a ton of flavour, so I developed this recipe with that in mind. The filling can be made a day ahead, just keep it well chilled. Finished gyoza can be frozen before frying/steaming – just be sure to allow them to thaw completely before cooking.

If you’re looking for a gluten-free recipe for Gyoza, look no further than my first gluten-free cookbook, Beyond Flour.

(Fun fact: The photos you’re looking at in this blog entry are actually of the gluten-free ones!).

Homemade Gyoza
Makes about 40

1/2 head Napa cabbage, finely shredded
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs ground pork
1-2 Tbsp grated ginger
5 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
1-2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp crushed chilies
1/2 tsp tsp sugar
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and finely chopped/shredded
Gyoza/potsticker wrappers (about 40)
Sesame, olive, or vegetable oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine cabbage and salt, stirring to evenly distribute the salt. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes – this will draw the moisture out of the cabbage. Once time is up, squeeze as much water out of the cabbage as you can, discarding the water. Place the squeezed cabbage back into the mixing bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients – aside from the wrappers and oil – to the bowl, and mix thoroughly. I like to use my hands for this – does a much better job of distributing everything than any mixing spoon will!

Cover and chill until ready to use.

To Assemble and Cook:

Roll filling into tight 1″ balls, placing one in the middle of each wrapper.

Use a finger/pastry brush dipped in water to moisten the edges of each wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling, creating a half circle. As you do this, try to push out as much of the air from the inside as possible – excess air can cause them to burst.

If you have a dumpling press, use it to seal and crimp the edges, or pleat the edges like this:



If you don’t have a dumpling press, you can fold and crimp the edges freehand. (It’s fussy though!)

Heat up 2 Tbsp vegetable, olive, or sesame oil in a frying pan – I prefer to use nonstick for this – and arrange a single layer of gyoza in the pan – not touching each other, frill side facing up. Cook until bottom side is nicely browned.

Alternatively: If you like your gyoza extra crispy, arrange them on their sides in the pan. Cook until the first side is nicely browned, flip and brown the other side before proceeding.

Once the bottom is browned to your liking, pour 1/3 cup of warm water into the pan, and quickly cover with a lid. Cook for 2-3 minutes without removing the lid.

After 2-3 minutes, remove the lid and allow Gyoza to continue cooking until all of the water has cooked off. Repeat in batches, as necessary.

Serve hot, with Gyoza sauce

Gyoza Sauce

1/2 cup Gyoza sauce
1/4 cup Rice vinegar
1 tsp crushed chilies

Stir ingredients together, refrigerate til serving.

Extra crispy – fried on both sides

Traditional – Fried on bottom

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Braid with Balsamic Glaze

A couple weeks ago, one of my friends shared a post from the local renaissance festival. The post described a fancy dinner they were having, which included a description of a mushroom puff pastry thing. I made a comment about how I was pretty meh on most of it, but would like to spend some quality time with that mushroom pastry.

She replied in kind, and we both kind of got… whatever the food equivalent of “lecherous” is … about it. We decided that we would have to finally make some time to get together, and make one of them.

This weekend was the big day.. and she and her husband came down with a virus. BOO!

So, to not let the ingredients go to waste, I went ahead and made one for my husband. I took inspiration from my mushroom turnovers, and the filling was *SO* good. I really have to figure out how to make a gluten-free puff pastry… Hmmm.

Anyway, we glazed and drizzled it with balsamic vinegar. We had a bottle of fancy, expensive stuff that I’ve been afraid to even open – oh, it was good stuff! I’m still a little afraid / hoarding it, but at least I took the first step and used it once!

Enjoy!

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Braid
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer

1 lb baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup+ crumbled goat cheese
1 egg
1 Tbsp+ nice quality balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 400F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large pan, saute mushrooms, onion, and garlic in olive oil, until the liquid comes out and mushrooms are very soft. Add wine, continue to cook until all wine has boiled off. Stir in thyme, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Unfold thawed pastry sheet onto parchment lined pan. Roll out a little to elongate it slightly in both directions.

Use a sharp knife to make cut 1″ wide strips (like a fringe) along the two long edges, ending 1/3 of the way towards the center, like this:

Evenly spread filling over the center 1/3 of the dough, sprinkle with goat cheese.

Take one of the end strips and fold it across the filling, at a slight diagonal. Take the top edge strip from the other side, and fold it across the filling, ending just over top of the first one. Continue, alternating sides, until the whole thing is “braided”.

Whisk together egg and 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, use a pastry brush to liberally spread it over the whole braid.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown.

Remove from heat, drizzle with more balsamic vinegar if you like. Serve hot!

Rainbow Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Last week, I was doing my social media chores on Facebook, when I came across an ad for some takeout place way down south. I have NO idea why it was in my feed – driving 12+ hours for takeout isn’t reasonable! – but it featured a photo of a salad that I needed in my life.

I noted what I could see in it, and planned to make something like it at home. I made a few additions, based on our tastes – edamame, green onions and (optionally) avocado.

For dressing, I decided to throw together a carrot-ginger dressing. Not only were we both in the mood for something like that, it would go really well with the flavours in the salad. Also, I thought that the bright orange of it would be extra pretty against such a vibrant background. I was not wrong!

It actually took me two tries to get the dressing to where I wanted. Hit the flavour perfectly on the first go, but the texture left a bit to be desired. I’d used fresh carrots and pureed them, thinking that would be the easiest for people – not everyone has a juicer, after all.

I really wasn’t happy with the mouthfeel on it, though… so I went back to the original plan, and it was *perfect*. Freshly juiced is best, but if you don’t have a juicer – just buy some carrot juice in the produce section at your grocer.

Finally, this makes a ton of salad – a big, sharable bowl worth. We make it up and keep it in the fridge, picking away at it through a few meals. That is the ONLY reason I’m not including avocado in it – avoidance of brown avocado bits. If you’re making this up as a single serve thing – for a gathering, maybe? – I would recommend including an avocado or two. I love the texture and flavour of it in this!

Enjoy!

Rainbow Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing
Makes 8+ Servings

4 cups Shredded Brussels sprouts
4 cups Shredded red cabbage
2 cups bite sized broccoli florets
1-2 cups shelled cooked Edamame (Thawed, if frozen)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 zucchini, sliced
2 large radishes, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 red bell pepper, sliced
4 oz Pomegranate seeds (or 1 pomegranate worth)

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, cover and chill until use. Drizzle with carrot-ginger dressing before serving.

Dressing:

1 1/2 cups carrot juice
1/3 cup rice or apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp sesame oil
½ small yellow onion
1 tsp sugar
2 clove garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients except salt and pepper in a blender, blitz until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to an appropriate container (we use a large mason jar), chill until use.

Separation will occur, so shake well before serving.

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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.

Wild Rice and Edamame Salad (Gluten-free)

Just realized it’s been slightly over 2 months since I posted anything – whoops!

It’s been pretty insane here, between Convention season, the upcoming release of Hedonistic Hops (Pre orders now available!), and development work on Beyond Flour 2.

I’m here with a new recipe now, though!

When my husband had to go vegetarian a few months ago, we started spending a ridiculous amount of time looking through local co-ops, trying to come up with ideas for him to get more protein in his new diet. At one point, we came across a ready-made wild rice and edamame salad that was SO good.. but could be better. I swapped out some ingredients, tweaked the dressing to be more to our tastes… and here we go!

Once you have the rice cooked, this salad comes together quickly and easily. It will last about a week in the fridge, but will probably be gone long before that. We were constantly snacking on it – it’s a bit addictive!

This recipe is inherently ALMOST gluten free – all you have to do to make it actually GF is to use a gluten-free soy sauce. Easy!

Enjoy!

Wild Rice Edamame Salad

Makes about 8 cups

2.5 cups prepared brown rice
2.5 cups prepared wild rice
10 oz shelled frozen edamame (thawed)
2 red peppers, chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sriracha
1 clove garlic

Prepare brown and wild rices according to package directions, allow to cool before measuring 2 1/2 cups of each into a large bowl. Add edamame, chopped red peppers, and sliced green onion, stir gently to mix well. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over rice mixture, stir well to coat.

Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

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.

The One CHEESE Ring!

Recently, I had to make something to bring to a Lord of the Rings themed potluck. I wasn’t in the mood to make my Lembas, and didn’t have time to order the Elderflower syrup to make my Miruvor.

I was on a big cheese kick (as always!), with a lot of cheese in the fridge. We started with the idea of somehow making a LOTR cheese ball (??), and that idea quickly spawned the final plan: We would make The One Cheese Ring.

I like to make cheese balls in the same way I make my Fromage Fort: See what we have in the fridge, use a bit of everything. What can I say, I like adventure! For the less adventurous / those without a ridiculous amount of cheese sitting around, you can always go with a mix of cheddars, goudas, etc – it’s all good!

When it comes to the black speech piped on the side, I decided to use Sun dried tomato paste, which you can buy in a tube. Really, you can flavour the cream cheese with anything you like, and tint it any colour you like. Dijon mustard, horse radish, pesto paste, etc. If using pesto paste, use one without nut chunks in it, or it will be hard to pipe. You can get basil paste in the produce section of many grocery stores.

Once you’ve piped the Black Speech onto the cheese ring, you may feel an overwhelming desire to keep THE PRECIOUS all to yourself … but you should probably share this with friends. 2 1/2 lbs of cheese is a lot, even for the tricksiest of Hobbits.

We’ll definitely have to serve one of these at Tol-Con – A new Middle Earth Fan Convention happening here locally in November!

The One Cheese Ring
Makes 2.5 lbs of cheese ring

1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 lb cream cheese, softened
Splash dry white wine
1 1/2 lbs cheese of choice, grated
Salt, pepper
~ 1.5 cups finely chopped pecans

4 oz softened cream cheese
Flavour paste of choice – we used sun dried tomato paste, pesto is available, etc.
Food colouring, optional

Place onion and garlic into food processor, blitz until finely chopped. Add mustard, cream cheese, and white wine, blitz until very smooth. Add cheese, blitz once more until mixture reaches desired texture. Taste, season with salt and pepper if desired.

Line a large plate with parchment paper, and wrap a wring of parchment paper around a large round can – large can of tomatoes works well, we used a can of mango pulp.

Center can on prepared plate, mound cheese mixture around the can evenly. Using very clean hands (we wear gloves), sculpt the cheese mixture into a rounded ring shape. Once you’re happy with the ring, chill for 2 hours or so.

With your final display plate nearby, carefully remove the can and the parchment paper from the center of the ring, and carefully turn the cheee ring over onto another plate, or your hand. Transfer (flipping in the process) to the display plate.

Using a hot wet knife, clean up any imperfections in your ring, if desired. Allow to sit for 10 minutes to warm up slightly.

Carefully press chopped pecans into all exposed surfaces of the ring, including in the center. Brush away excess nut pieces, chill ring.

In a small food processor, blitz cream cheese and flavouring paste together until very smooth. If using food colouring, tint to desired colour.

Transfer flavoured cream cheese to a pastry bag, pipe Black Speech around outside of ring.

PRECIOUSSSSSS.


Lorien, of The Feral Fellowship

***

Tolkien Fan? Be sure to check out these other posts:

How to make a Hobbit Hole Cat Shelter
Caturday: Tolkien edition
How I Made that: Dwarf Wig
So I’m Dressing My Husband up as Thranduil…
The Two Week Thorin Costume!
Thorin Costume!
How to make Thranduil’s Crown
Smaug the Terrible… I mean, Terribly AWESOME.
I am Fire, I am FRUITY – Smaug Fruit Bowl
Smaug Costume
Doing the Elf Meme Thing…
Gandalf the Fabulous

***

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.

Smoked French Fries Recipe

Sometimes, laziness is the mother of invention.

A couple weeks ago, I was deep frying something for Hedonistic Hops – wings, if I recall correctly. The recipe shoot was doubling as supper, and we hadn’t really planned on a side, outside of a couple artistically placed celery sticks.

We did have some leftover smoked potatoes in the fridge, however. I didn’t feel like pan frying them as hashbrowns – how I normally serve smoked potatoes – so I sliced them up into makeshift fries and deep fried them.

Holy. Mother. Of. God.

I’m not even as much into smoked foods as my husband is, and these were AMAZING. Definitely some of the best fries I’ve ever had! The smoke flavour was retained even after deep frying – without being overpowering – and they had an amazing texture. Tons of character!

So, we HAD to actually do up a recipe for them… and here it is! Enjoy!

Smoked French Fries

Potatoes*
Wood chips of choice (we use Jack Daniels chips)
Salt
Frying oil

Wash potatoes, slice into your choice of shape – regular fries, steak cut, wedges, disks … whatever. Arrange on smoker racks, allowing a little bit of space between each fry.

Smoke – following your smoker’s directions – for 1 hour at 225F **. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Heat oil to 360 degrees F

In small batches, cook fries for 10 minutes. This will NOT brown them, merely cook them. As each batch comes out, put aside.

Once all fries are par-cooked / blanched, turn the heat up to 375, and allow oil to reach temperature. In small batches, re-fry the potatoes until browned and crispy, about 3-5 minutes per batch.

Yes, it seems a little involved – but this is how to get fries that are cooked all the way through, and crispy on the outside!

Remove to paper towels to drain a little, season with salt, and serve immediately.

* Make more than you think you’ll need. You can use any type of potato for this – even sweet potatoes. Russets are most popular for traditional fries.

** This can also be done on a charcoal grill. Use indirect heat, watch the temperature carefully.

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.

Basil, Roasted Red Pepper, and Asiago Bread Braid

Late last week, the forecast for the weekend was looking great, so we decided to drop everything and catch up on some photo shoots. I had a few costume commissions I hadn’t had pro shots of yet, so we picked two locations and contacted everyone who had costumes suitable to them: one superheroes set, and one wintery location. It was a bunch of work to organize people, logistics, model releases, etc.. but the results were fantastic – I have some preview pics up on my Facebook page, here.

ANYWAY.

I have a “family discount” with my fabulously talented husband when it comes to his photography. This time, he asked to be paid in homemade bread. Bread that I can’t have, due to my gluten issues… so he’s been deprived of it for a while.

I decided to create a very special bread recipe just for him, utilizing a few of his favourite flavours… all done up in a visually stunning way. I made three different batches of dough, rolled, braided, and coiled them.. and it was a HUGE hit. The technique used for rolling the dough before braiding it results in almost a “pull apart bread”, and the garlic butter adds a great, complimentary flavour to all three doughs.

It’s a bit of effort and makes a ton of bread – 4 decent sized loaves! – but trust me when I say that it’s not hard to find some friends who are excited to take a loaf off your hands! This is totally worth the effort. This makes a soft, flavourful, and gorgeous bread.

Excuse the crappy in-progress photography. I had to take cell phone pics, as my photographer was busy building my kitchen 🙂

Basil, Roasted Red Pepper, and Asiago Bread Braid
Makes 4 loaves

Asiago Dough

1 1/3 cup Warm water
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Yeast
4 cups Flour
1 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp Olive oil

Add honey to warm water, stir till well blended. Add yeast and stir again. Allow to sit (somewhere warm!) for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, cheese, 1/3 cup olive oil, and foamy yeast mixture. Mix on low speed till well blended, then turn speed up a bit and let it “lazy knead” for 5 minutes or so. Dough should ball easily – if it’s too wet, add a bit of flour. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water.

Put 1 tbsp olive oil into a large bowl, add dough, flip over to coat. cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.

Basil Dough

1 1/4 cup Warm water
2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Yeast
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
4 cups Flour

Add honey and salt to warm water, stir till well blended. Add yeast and stir again. Allow to sit (somewhere warm!) for 10 minutes.

While yeast is hydrating, combine 1/3 cup olive oil and the basil leaves in a food processor or blended, blitz until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, basil olive oil, and foamy yeast mixture. Mix on low speed till well blended, then turn speed up a bit and let it “lazy knead” for 5 minutes or so. Dough should ball easily – if it’s too wet, add a bit of flour. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water.

Put 1 tbsp olive oil into a large bowl, add dough, flip over to coat. cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.

Roasted Red Pepper Dough

1 cup Warm water
2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Yeast
4 cups Flour
3 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
1/2 cup pureed roasted red peppers

Add honey and salt to warm water, stir till well blended. Add yeast and stir again. Allow to sit (somewhere warm!) for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, 2 Tbsp olive oil, red pepper puree, and foamy yeast mixture. Mix on low speed till well blended, then turn speed up a bit and let it “lazy knead” for 5 minutes or so. Dough should ball easily – if it’s too wet, add a bit of flour. If it’s too dry, add a bit more water.

Put 1 tbsp olive oil into a large bowl, add dough, flip over to coat. cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for one hour.

————

Assembly

1 cup butter
1 Tbsp pressed or minced garlic

Put butter and garlic in a microwave safe cup or bowl. Heat until just melted.

Gently knead each of the doughs to deflate slightly, divide each into two equal sized balls. Work with one set of 3 different doughs, while leaving the other set covered with plastic wrap.

Roll one dough ball out to about 12″ x 15″ rectangle – I like to do this on a large piece of parchment paper. Brush with melted garlic butter, leaving a 1″ border unbuttered.

Roll one long side towards the other long side, taking care to keep it tightly rolled, and not just slidding in the butter as you go. Repeat with other two doughs in the set.

Use a sharp knife to cut each long in half, lengthwise. Be careful in handling – each 1/2 log consists of concentric semi-circles of dough now, and can be prone to sliding around. Also, be careful not to stretch them out of shape.

Working with one strip of each colour, secure the three strips together at one end and carefully braid them, taking care to have the cut sides facing up the whole way. Pinch strips together at the end.

Gently coil braid into a round loaf – I like to tuck the start of the coil under itself, to elevate the middle of the loaf a bit. Tuck the end of the coil under the load to secure.

Repeat braiding with rest of cut rolls, starting on a new piece of parchment.

Repeat rolling, buttering, cutting, braiding, and coiling on second set of dough, having each loaf on its own piece of parchment paper.

VERY LOOSELY cover each with plastic wrap. Start timing 30 minutes, preheat oven to 375 F.

Transfer each sheet of parchment / loaf to its own baking sheet. Don’t remove loaves from parchment!

Melt remaining garlic butter, gently brush over each loaf.

One or two loaves at a time, bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Next-Level Scalloped Potatoes

Today’s recipe has a bit of a weird inspiration/backstory – it all started with a Boxing Day trip to Walmart to snag cheapo gift sets for an upcoming party and gift swap.

It was early enough that the store was blissfully empty and quiet, but we were in a rush to get home and get to work. We decided to pick up a couple food items needed for the coming days. En route to pick up the cheapest, smelliest tuna they had (the cats prefer it that way!), I noticed something from the corner of my eye: Jalapeno cheddar instant scalloped potatoes. It kinda stopped me dead in my tracks- why hadn’t I ever thought to put jalapeno in scalloped potatoes. It was an epiphany!

We ALMOST bought it, but (at least!) one too many childhood experiences with dehydrated “Hamburger Helper” type potato products got in the way. Besides, we had potatoes and almost a litre of heavy whipping cream at home left over from other recipes, I’d just make my own from scratch.

After adding everything I wanted to it – beer, because I LOVE beer as an ingredient when it comes to cheese (even if I won’t drink beer as a beverage!), onions, garlic… it was amazing. The sauce almost didn’t make it to the potatoes, from uh.. “quality control”. 🙂

The smell coming out of the oven was maddening. Why is it that the recipes that put out the most tantalizing smells seem to start doing so the earliest in their cook times, and have the LONGEST cook times? I was very frustrated, and was pretty ravenous by the time it finished cooking – maybe not the best thing to make first thing in the morning, for breakfast!

Actually, I lie. It WAS the best thing to make for breakfast. SO GOOD. I love potatoes almost any way you could come up with making them (Yes, I live up to most stereotypes for my Irish heritage!), but this was WAY beyond any scalloped potatoes I’d ever had/made before. Hey, let me ask my husband for a 6 am, getting ready for work, several days after the fact food review!

“Well, they’re obviously much better than anything I’ve had from a box, all fancy and shit. I liked the little bit of zip from the 2 large jalapenos – it was great heat level for breakfast or lunch. For dinner, I like this a little more spicy so would add more jalapenos.”

So there you have it. “All fancy and shit”. 🙂

Enjoy!

Jalapeno Scalloped Potatoes
Makes ~ 8 servings

2-3 large jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup white rice flour*
1 cup gluten-free beer*
3 cups heavy cream **
1 cup grated Monteray Jack cheese
Salt and pepper
4 lbs red potatoes, washed
Pan spray
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F

In a medium or large saucepan, combine jalapenos, onion, garlic, and butter. Sautee for a few minutes, until onion and peppers soften up a little. Add rice flour, whisk until well distributed and free of clumps.

Add beer, whisking well until smooth. Add heavy cream, continuing to whisk, until smooth. Bring to a boil. As mixture starts to boil, add shredded jack cheese, continue stirring until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Peel potatoes if you like – we don’t bother, we like the skins! – and slice VERY thinly. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish, and layer about a third of the potatoes in there. Pour a third of the sauce over it, tilting the pan to let it seep through the layers.

Layer another third of the potatoes, pouring another third of the sauce over it. Repeat one more time, using up the remaining potatoes and sauce. Cover with foil.

Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil, return to oven for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven, scatter cheddar cheese evenly over the top, and return to the pven for another 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Serve hot!

* You can use regular flour and/or beer if you don’t need this to be gluten-free

** You can use Half and half or milk, if you prefer.

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