Anyone can be "the family chef". You just need good recipes and techniques! Chef Amy Fothergill shares her best recipes with you for quick and easy dishes with an emphasis on gluten-free.

Get information here about her cookbook, The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Roasted Eggplant Dip with Whole Grain Crackers

I always think it's fun when you have something in your fridge, just looking at you like "So, what are you going to do with me? Any ideas? Please, just don't throw me away!". Such was the case with an eggplant I bought recently.

When I was growing up, eggplant parmesan was king. But, the process to make it is not easy. You have to peel, slice and salt the eggplant. Then, make a batter and fry each piece. Once you've whipped up your fresh tomato sauce, that gets layered with the slices along with some cheese...I have new respect for my mom and aunt who did this all the time.

Again, I digress. So, eggplant parmesan was out. I've roasted eggplant in the oven (peeled and cubed) but that's not what I was craving. I have had roasted eggplant dips before and, for whatever reason, always thought they were hard to make. I'm not sure why. I just never tried it.

So, this week, I did a little research and found it's incredibly easy. The next time you are at the farmer's market, I hope you'll think twice about the eggplant. I know I'm happy I did.

And, my family was happy as well. I only put 2 cloves of the roasted garlic so it wasn't too strong. My husband thought it could have had more flavor but my 5 and 3 year olds thought it was guacamole. Ok honey, just add some salt next time! Anytime I can get my children to eat a dip that is basically made of vegetables, I don't mind adjusting the recipe. Next time I make it, I might try it with 3-4 cloves but this time, I wanted to play it safe.

I hope you try it. To me, it was still very flavorful. I even topped it with a little Bariani truffle oil I had in the pantry. Yum-yum.

Roasted Eggplant Dip
1 eggplant, cut in 2 pieces lengthwise
Olive oil
4-5 cloves of garlic
Fresh lemon
Salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F (or 350 convection).
2. Oil each piece of eggplant. Place flesh side down on a baking sheet. I like to use my Silpat mat that I place on a perforated sheet tray. You can also use parchment paper on a regular baking pan to prevent sticking.
3. Cut the very tops off of the garlic. This will help when it's done roasting so you can squeeze it out. Place garlic cloves on a small piece of foil. Drizzle a little olive oil on top. Close the foil to make a little pouch. Place that on the baking sheet next to the eggplant.
4. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the eggplants over and turn the pan around 180 degrees. This is always a good idea when baking so that the food cooks more evenly. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the eggplant is soft.
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Peel the skin and place the flesh in a food processor along with the garlic (remember, just squeeze it out), juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Add more olive oil if necessary.
6. Serve room temperature or cold.

Tip: to make baba ganoosh, add 1-2 Tbl of sesame tahini to this.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Homemade Granola-Regular or Gluten Free

Granola with Strawberries and Vanilla Yogurt

Granola can be very expensive. Have you ever wondered how to make it? It's quite easy. You need the right ingredients, a big bowl and a rimmed sheet pan. That's it. Oh, I suppose a good recipe helps, too.

Granola is a great snack. It can be used with yogurt and fruit or even on top of vanilla ice cream. When you make your own, you save money and can control how much sugar and fat goes in. Granola can be packed with fiber, vitamins and nutrients. And you can use whichever ingredients you like. Oats are the main ingredient in granola. You add sweet for flavor and fat for crispiness. Nuts are a nice accompaniment along with the cinnamon and sunflower seeds.

It's not easy to find gluten free granola. When you do, it can also be very expensive and some times it might have other ingredients you might not be able to have (this was the case when my daughter had food sensitivities). Making your own with the ingredients you like and/or can tolerate seems like a good idea.

I recently decided to go gluten free for a while to see if I experience any changes. Plus, it almost guarantees that I will eat less carbs. This version that you see is gluten free but you really can't tell. The key is buying gluten free oats. Oats do not have gluten inherently but it's picked up from other grains processed on the same machines. Some companies now harvest oats on separate machines which keeps the gluten out. That's great news for folks with celiac disease or anyone with gluten sensitivities.

I keep most of these ingredients on hand so when I decided this morning I wanted my own granola, it was done in about an hour. Ok, not counting the time I took to take the pictures and the time my daughter decided to help me. I like this recipe so much, it's going in the cookbook! Another bonus is that this granola has no refined sugar and lots of healthy ingredients like flax seeds and pecans. I hope you'll like it, too.

Homemade Granola (Regular or Gluten Free)

(makes 8 cups - about 1/2 gallon ziplock)

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats*
1 cup toasted wheat germ* (you can toast in a sauté pan the same way you do with nuts)
1/2 cup flax seeds
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3 Tbl molasses
2 Tbl agave nectar
1/3 cup canola or safflower oil
1/3 cup water

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees with rack in center. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, wheat germ, flax seeds, cinnamon, ginger, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and coconut.
2. Pour the molasses, agave nectar, oil, and water over the mixture and stir until it is well coated. Spread evenly in one or two rimmed baking sheets.
3. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until dry and lightly browned - about 40 minutes. Let granola cool to room temp, then add raisins and cranberries.
4. Store in an airtight container at room temp for up to 1 month.

*To make it Gluten Free, use GF oats and omit the wheat germ.