Monthly Archives: November 2010

Delicious and delightfully different: Mollie Katzen’s Polenta Pie

This was a fantastic meal. EPC and I both loved it.

A crunchy cornmeal crust topped with vegetables, tofu and cheese.  It is a lot like pizza, only different.

With a cornmeal crust how could it not be different, but different in a very, very good way.

It is nice to have few celiac-friendly recipes under your belt and knowing that I have at least a couple of readers who need gluten-free meal ideas, I try to pick out at least one interesting option each month.

This particular recipe is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The New Moosewood Cookbook and surprising enough this is one cookbook I do not own. A friend from work lent it to me last week. She figured I would enjoy it and she was right. I love flipping through her cookbook and seeing all the stains and marks on the pages where her favourite recipes are.  Apparently the hummus is exceptional!

Mollie is certainly a big name in vegetarian cooking and the first edition of this book came out in 1977! I was first introduced to this cookbook almost 20 years ago and back then I remember not being too impressed by it. Of course at the time I was not as crazy about cookbooks as I am now and to be quite frank the version that I perused back then was the original edition. She made a considerable amount of changes to the cookbook since then and added some new recipes, making this cookbook a very impressive collection of vegetarian recipes.

I will definitely be making this recipe again and I can’t wait to try a few more before I return this cookbook to my friend.  In fact, I may have to pick up a copy for myself.

Polenta Pie

1 1/2 cups of cornmeal (I used medium)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of cold water
2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
5 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Freshly grated black pepper
salt to taste
1/2 block of firm tofu, grated (optional)

2 cups of grated provolone cheese
1 medium tomato, sliced, seeded and diced

First get the crust started:

  • Preheat the oven to 375°C
  • Add cornmeal, cold water and salt to a small bowl and stir to mix.
  • Have the boiling water in a pot on the stove and add the cornmeal mix while whisking to avoid any lumps.  You need to stir almost steady for about 10 minutes until the polenta is nice and thick.  Remove from heat and cool.
  • Oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish and add the polenta.  Smooth the polenta over the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
  • Brush or spray the crust with oil and bake at 375°C for 45 minutes.

While the crust bakes make the topping:

  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions for about 10 minutes until soft.
  • Add the bell pepper and zucchini and saute for 3 minutes more.
  • Add the garlic, basil and oregano and saute for a few more minutes.
  • Then add the grated tofu (if using) and stir to coat.
  • Remove from heat and wait for the crust to finish baking.
  • When the crust is ready remove from the oven and turn the oven on broil.
  • Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese on the crust and top with the diced and seeded tomatoes. Slather the vegetable topping on top of the crust and top with the remaining cheese.
  • Broil for about 5 minutes until brown and bubbling

Click to Print

Homemade Onion Rings!

Don’t these onion rings look delicious?

They are!

They are crispy and flavourful and in my mind the bread-crumb coating is reminiscent of A&W’s onion rings.  EPC says they are much better than that.  In fact, other than the bread crumb coating these onion rings are happily without all the fat, calories, and sodium that you would normally find in an A&W onion ring.

Not that fat and calories are bad and I like salty snacks as much as the next person, but I do not have a deep fryer and I do not want to get one.  So if you don’t want onion rings from a fast food chain, why not slice, dip, coat and bake them at 450°C to feed your craving.

I have been poking around on the Post Punk Kitchen website over the last few months eagerly awaiting the release of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new cookbook Appetite for Reduction.  Bye the way, I am first in line to preview the book once it arrives at the local library.  That is how excited I am. If you are not familiar with her work check out her site.  In a nutshell she has taken the vegan world by storm with her great vegan cookbooks, such as Veganomicom and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  I noticed last month that she had posted a few samples recipes from her soon to be released book, one of which is the delightful onion rings that I made to go along with tonight’s dinner.  The other recipes look delicious too.

I followed the recipe, but made a few changes.  I used whole wheat flour (of course), reduced the salt to 1/2 teaspoon, and used cow’s milk instead of almond milk.  If you are feeling creative I think that you could add some Cajun seasoning or even a bit of cayenne pepper  (or not, they are great just they way they are).

I can’t wait until Appetite for Reduction arrives this winter.  I am hoping she provides some other healthier options for comfort foods to get me through until spring.

Click here for the recipe

Is it a soup or stew? Neither, its Pasta e Fagioli!

This is a great weeknight meal.  It is quick to make, satisfying, and tastes even better for lunch the next day!

I love pasta dishes, but one of my complaints is that the vegetarian versions are often low on the protein side of things.  This dish has a whole can of cannellini beans along side the vegetables and pasta making it much more balanced and filling.  I made a  few simple changes to the original recipe, so that the sauce would be thicker and a little less soup like, and it worked really well!

In anticipation of making this popular  dish I picked up a new pasta shape from the Italian Grocery Store: whole wheat orecchiette.  It was fantastic: tender, yet chewy.  I am not sure if it was the brand of pasta, or if it was the particular shape, but I think it would work really well in a “macaroni” and cheese type dish.

I will save that for next time.  After all,  there are never a shortage of great recipes and ideas to try!

Pasta e Fagioli (adapted from Toni Fiore’s Totally Vegetarian)

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 teaspoon rosemary, minced
3 fresh sage leaves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 19 ounce can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (Hint: these are also called white kidney beans)
1 -15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups of dry pasta, I used whole wheat orecchiette (use brown rice pasta to make this recipe gluten-free)

Grated parmesan (optional)

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven and saute the onion, celery, and carrots for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the oregano, sage and rosemary
  • Add the beans, tomatoes and 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Add cooked pasta to individual bowls and top with the thick soup.
  • Garnish with grated parmesan if desired.

Click to print

Delicious Gingerbread Cookies!! And by the way, they are gluten free.

It is not unusual for people to turn up their nose when I mention gluten-free desserts. I am not sure why, perhaps it is because they feel that something must be missing; that they have to sacrifice taste or decadence, because the tasty treat has not been made with wheat flour.

That is certainly not the case! In fact, many delicious deserts are traditionally made without flour – think Pavlova – or without wheat flour, such as Scottish shortbread where rice flour is used.

This recipe does not forgo flour to be celiac friendly, but takes advantage of a great gluten-free flour mix from Bob’s Red Mill. I can’t compare this to other gluten-free flour mixes, as this is the only one I have tried, but I really love its light brown colour.

I made these cookies last year as part of the Christmas cookie pack that I give out to my friends and they all loved them.

The inspiration to spend the afternoon baking a batch of cookies comes from my dear friend who is half way through the National Novel Writing Month.  She has signed up for the challenge of writing of 50, 000 words over the month of November and, yes, she has a full-time job as well!  I figured she needed a few cookies to get her over the halfway point.

I found this recipe on the Canadian Living Website, so I have included the link for you. I did make a few changes: I subbed butter for the shortening and didn’t bother with the icing.  I also added 3/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum as suggested on the back of the flour mix (easy to find at your local health food store).  In addition, the recipe also works well as a drop cookie!

Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookie recipe