Sunday, June 21, 2020

Lidia Bastianich’s Free-Form Stone Fruit Tart (GF)

Watching a video by cookbook author and New York City restauranteur Lidia Bastianich feels like sitting in your Italian nonna's kitchen as she welcomes you in and teaches you how to cook easy, everyday food. Lidia likes to keep things simple and says no problem if you don't have an ingredient - just use what you have on hand.

I decided to try her Plum Galette. I had a few plums, a couple of strawberries and a peach. I wanted to try gluten-free flour and almost nailed it.

I let the dough sit in the fridge overnight. It rolled out perfectly on a lightly-floured silpat pad, but after spending the time to make the filling and arranging it in the center of the tart, the edges of the dough had softened and were stuck to the pad. I should have used the recommended parchment paper. I slid a pastry scraper  under the dough to fold it around the filling as best I could which turned out to be quite a work of art! It leaked a little and I accidentally left in a peach pit, but I'd like to think, no worries - Lidia would say it came out "just fine."

Check out Tutto Lidia videos here, or follow her on Instagram at @lidiabastianich to get notified when she goes live. The video for this tart is from the Today show here.
Lidia in her Kitchen
Image from

My Paleo Marin: 3 Persimmons*


For the dough:

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour, preferably Cup4Cup All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
6 tablespoons cold water

Filling and Topping:

1 1/2 pounds stone fruit, such as plums, peaches and/or apricots, pitted and cut into sixths
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons apricot jam
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably Ians Gluten Free Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Optional: There's a reason it's called a "tart;" don't hesitate to add a dollop of ice cream.


For the dough:

1. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse just to combine ingredients. Drop in the butter in pieces and pulse until the mixture is lumpy. With the processor running, add the 6 tablespoons of water and process just until the dough comes together in a lump. Add a little more flour if it is too wet, or a little more water if it is too dry. Scrape the dough into a ball and put on a floured work surface. Knead the dough a few times and flatten it into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator. Leave for 1 hour to up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

For the filling and topping:

1. In a large bowl, toss the fruit with the grated lemon zest and juice, 2 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar, the jam and the butter chunks. Taste for lemon and sugar. Add more as preferred.

2. In a small bowl combine the panko, cinnamon and remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.

To assemble the tart:

1. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour.

2. Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and place the dough in the center. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a rough circle about 14" to 15" in diameter. Cut the dough into a circle about 12" to 13" in diameter. Slide the dough and the parchment paper onto a baking sheet.

3. Sprinkle all but 1 tablespoon of the panko mix into the middle of the dough making about an 8" diameter circle. Add the fruit mixture (without the juice) to the center of the tart. Arrange the fruit in a concentric circle or spread it out freeform. Fold up the sides to form a crust of about 2" to 3". Sprinkle the exposed fruit with the remaining crumb mixture.

4. Begin baking the tart on the bottom rack of the preheated oven. Bake about 30 to 40 minutes. Move the baking sheet to the middle rack and finish baking for about 10 - 15 more minutes. The crust should be brown and the fruit mixture bubbly - 50 minutes to one hour total.

5. Let the tart cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack. Slide the tart and parchment paper onto the rack to cool a bit more. While still warm, slide the tart using a spatula onto a serving plate. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with a scoop of ice cream if desired.

Store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. Best when leftovers are reheated at 325º F for about 10 minutes.

#gluenfree #tart #Italian #Italy #lidiabastianich #fruit #stonefruit #plums #crostata #dessert #summer

Recipe adapted from Lidia Bastianich's Easy Free-Form Plum Tart here.

*My Paleo Marin Rating between 1-5 Persimmons
I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Ricotta Cheese Cake with Lemon Zest, Cardamom and Summer Fruit (GF) (DF**)

Most of the posts on the “New York Times Cooking Community” Facebook page are questions such as which instant pot is your favorite? Or how I can use a gift of Asafoetida Powder? Or what could I make with a single leek? But then there is that one post that encapsulates why we plod through every post and all its comments, and the group goes wild. This cake was one of those posts.

The original recipe for the cake came from the Bruni Bakery in Ireland. Developed by the multi-cultural owners of the bakery, it's a cross between a Polish cheesecake (Sernik) and an Italian lemon ricotta cake (Migliaccio) and no one's complaining. It's light and fluffy and topped with seasonal summer fruit. As the motto on the Bruni Bakery food blog says: "Skinny people are easier to kidnap. Stay safe - eat a cake!"

My Paleo Marin Rating: 5 Persimmons*


Notes: (1) Ricotta should either drain overnight (preferable) or be put in cheesecloth and squeezed tightly to remove as much liquid as possible before weighing. (2) For dairy-free ingredient options, see footnote** below).

85 grams (just under 3/4 cup) gluten free flour, preferably Cup4Cup All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
Image from
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (rounded)

180 grams (just under 1 cup) pure cane sugar (later divided in half)
Zest of 1 lemon
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom

80 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
5 large eggs, room temperature, separated
Ricotta cheese: 500 grams (2 cups) total after draining excess liquid (500 grams = 18 oz. so buy extra), OR
Note: I purchased 1 package of Bellwether Farms Whole Milk Ricotta 12 oz (340 grams). I put it in a small colander with a plate underneath, pressed down on the top with a paper towel, and let it drain overnight. It weighed 267 grams after draining the excess liquid. I added a little over 1 cup of sour cream to make up the difference to 500 grams (2 cups) and the texture was perfect.
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Seasonal fruit: Raspberries, pitted cherries, apricots, peaches, and/or blueberries to cover top
Confectioner's sugar to decorate top of cake


Preheat oven to 362º F (per recipe), or 350º F for longer baking time (I used 375º F in my old gas oven - adjust for your oven accordingly).  Butter the bottom and sides of an 8" cake pan; cut a circle of parchment paper to cover bottom and another strip or two to go around the side. Butter all the parchment paper.

1. Mix the flour with baking powder and sift. Set aside.

For the ricotta batter:

2. If using all ricotta cheese, measure out the drained cheese to weigh 500 grams, or measure 2 cups. If using ricotta and sour cream, measure the ricotta cheese and add sour cream to equal 500 grams (2 cups) total; mix well with a spoon and set aside.

3. Mix sugar with lemon zest and cardamom. With the palm of your hands, rub the zest into the sugar to release the flavor. Set aside.

4. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Add 90 grams (1/2 cup) (half the sugar mixture) to the butter, 1/3 at a time. Beat until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

5. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix after each addition.

6. Turn the speed to low, and add 2 tablespoons at a time of the ricotta OR ricotta/sour cream mixture until it is all combined. Add the flour, 1/2 at a time and mix gently (lowest speed) only until no flour pockets remain. Carefully pour the batter into a large bowl and set aside.

7. Clean the bowl of the mixer and with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites on medium high until fluffy (about 1-2 minutes). Add the remaining 90 grams (1/2 cup) of sugar mixture. Beat until firm peaks appear (about 2-3 minutes). Add the kosher salt at the end and beat for a few seconds.

8. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the ricotta mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Add fruit on top, leaving some room between pieces so the cake can rise.

9. Bake for about 50 minutes and check the cake. When the top has browned and a skewer comes out clean, the cake is done. Open the oven door and let the cake sit for 10 minutes. Remove the cake and place on a wire rack; give the side of the pan a little tap. The cake will deflate a bit. Let the cake cool awhile, and then remove the parchment paper around the side. Flip the cake and remove the paper on the bottom, and return the cake to the wire rack to fully cool.

10. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar before serving. Store cake in the fridge lightly covered for about 3-4 days.

#cake #ricotta #cheese #lemons #cardamom #summer #fruit #cheesecake #Italian #Polish #dessert #glutenfree #dairyfree #vegeterian #recipes #paleo #paleo-inspired

Recipe adapted from the Bruni Bakery website.

**For dairy free, substitute Miyokos European Style Cultured Vegan ButterKite Hill Almond Milk Ricotta Alternative, and Follow Your Heart Non-Dairy Sour Cream. I have not tried these products in this dish; they are offered as suggestions.

*My Paleo Marin Rating between 1-5 Persimmons
I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Baked Orange Chicken (or Tofu) Nuggets with Steamed Bok Choy & Orange Slices (GF) (DF) (V)

Week Six of Quarantine Cooking had me longingly looking at recipes for the food we used to order when we ate out. My daughter loves orange chicken, but “fried" and “greasy” came to mind about that dish.

It took a leap of faith and a combination of recipes to get a good crisp baked chicken nugget and a pleasing sauce, but this version of Orange Chicken was light and crunchy and spicy! ~ all in a healthy and delicious way.

One chef had found that processing panko in a food processor for a few seconds added just the right amount of crunch; no need for frying at all. An adaptation of another sauce highlighted the taste of the oranges rather than being bogged down in sugar and vinegar. And steamed bok choy in the pan at the end was a perfect side dish to soak up leftover sauce and complete the meal.

It was so good, I worked on a tofu recipe to remake later for our vegetarian family members. With just a slight difference in texture, the dish completely fooled my daughter who came in and scooped up the second batch before I had a chance to tell her it wasn’t chicken (wink wink).

My Paleo Marin: 5 Persimmons*


1 to 1-1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2” cubes, patted dry
1 package (10 oz.) firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2” cubes, preferably Hodo Organic Firm Tofu
(Note: there is currently a tofu shortage in the US due to import restrictions; this brand is made in Oakland, CA - their website has a store locator, and it’s also available online.)

1/2 cup of gluten free flour, preferably Cup4Cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup panko, pulsed in a food processor about 10-15 seconds (use Ian's Natural Foods Gluten-Free Panko Breadcrumbs for gluten-free option)

Image from Good Eggs
For the Sauce:

2/3 cup orange juice from 2 Cara Cara Oranges 
Zest of 2 Cara Cara Oranges 
1 teaspoon grated ginger
5-6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (personal preference)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder

For the Frying Pan:

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 small cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the Baby Bok Choy:

1 teaspoon olive Oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 heads of Baby Bok Choy, washed, bottoms cut off, and leaves separated

For Garnish: Orange slices; Cilantro sprigs


For the chicken:

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Cover two large baking sheets with silpat sheets or parchment paper. Set up 3 bowls in a line as follows: one with the flour; one with eggs; and one with the panko. Refresh bowls as necessary.

1. With tongs or your fingers, dip each chicken cube into the flour, egg, then panko in that order. Place on baking sheets without crowding the pieces. Wipe tongs or fingers as necessary. On the middle rack of the oven, bake each sheet one at a time for 20-25 minutes. The nuggets are done when the bottoms are browned and the nuggets move freely about the sheet when slightly shaken.

2. While the chicken is baking, make the sauce as follows: in a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, grated ginger, apple cider vinegar, salt and arrowroot powder. Set aside.

3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan, and add the minced garlic, grated ginger and red pepper flakes. Stir until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the prepared sauce and mix until heated through and thickened, stirring constantly, about 5-7 minutes.

4. Add the cooked chicken pieces to the frying pan and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce. Put the nuggets in a bowl or push them to one side of the pan off of the heat to make room to cook the bok choy.

For the Bok Choy:

Add the olive oil to the frying pan over medium heat and slightly brown the garlic. Add the bok choy and stir to coat in the excess sauce. Cook over low heat, turning a few times, until the greens slightly soften, a couple of minutes. If the stalks are large or thick, remove the nuggets, add a tablespoon of water, and cover and steam the greens over low heat for a minute or two.

For the Tofu:

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Cut the tofu into 1/2” cubes. To drain the excess liquid, put two paper towels on one of the baking sheets, add the tofu cubes, cover with a layer of paper towels. Add the second baking sheet on top and weigh it down with a large heavy pot for about 20 minutes. Remove the top baking sheet and the towels and wipe up the extra liquid. Pat the tofu dry. (Note: only one sheet is needed for baking the tofu).

1. Place the drained tofu cubes on a baking sheet covered with a silpat sheet or parchment paper.  Pre-bake for 5 minutes (to let them dry out a bit). Allow to cool off and air dry for a few minutes.

2. Heat the oven up to 400º F. and prepare as above for the chicken nuggets.

To Serve:

Place the bok choy on plates and cover with nuggets. Serve with any extra sauce, orange slices and cilantro sprigs.

#paleo #chicken #orangechicken #tofu #nuggets #bokchoy #glutenfree #dairyfree #Chinese #recipes #maincourses #Asianfood #panko #lowsugar #vegan #vegetarian #lowsugar #healthyeats

Recipe mostly adapted from Dinner then Dessert website here.

*My Paleo Marin Rating between 1-5 Persimmons
I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Cheddar-Walnut Gougères with Shaved Parmesan and Maldon Sea Salt Topping (GF)

Gougères are small savory cheese puffs made with the same type of dough used for cream puffs or éclairs. There are many variations of ingredients one can use, but this recipe by Dorie Greenspan in the The New York Times sounded good to me for a first attempt.

I divided the work in half by making the dough one evening, letting it sit covered in the fridge overnight, and forming and baking the gougères the next morning. I baked two-thirds of the cheese puffs and froze the other third for another time.

Ms. Greenspan writes that her favorite way to eat gorgères is hot out of the oven with a glass of wine. Ours were stored in a container, then later in the day sliced in half and used like biscuits under a slow-cooked beef and pepperoncini dish (recipe below*).

How do you like to eat your gougères? There are so many combinations of cheeses and herbs to choose from to begin with, I imagine the choices are endless here, too.

My Paleo Marin Rating: 2.5 Persimmons**


1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 4 chunks
1/2 cup whole milk, or water (paleo-friendly)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup gluten-free flour, preferably Cup4Cup All Purpose Flour

4 large eggs, room temperature + 1 large egg white, room temperature
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, preferably Edmond Fallet Original Dijon Mustard
1 1/2 cups loosely packed cheddar cheese (or mix of whatever cheese you like such as Comté, Gruyère, Swiss, Jack or other semifirm cheese)

2/3 cup lightly toasted finely chopped walnuts

Sprinkles of shaved parmesan cheese and Maldon English Sea Salt flakes


Set a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with silpat sheets or parchment paper.

1. In a medium saucepan, add the butter, milk, salt and water; bring to a boil. Add the flour all at once, set heat to medium-low and stir with a wooden spoon without stopping until the mixture pulls away from the pot and forms a ball. Keep up a vigorous stir of the dough for 3 more minutes; the drier the dough, the better the finished product. Scrape the dough into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or into a bowl if you are mixing by hand. Let sit for 1 minute.

2. With the mixer at medium speed, add the 4 eggs, one at a time. Beat for 1 minute after each egg goes in, scraping the bowl as needed. The dough may look grainy at this point but should come together after adding the egg white.

3. Beat in the egg white, then the mustard. Reduce the mixer speed to low and blend in the grated cheese and then the chopped walnuts. Give the dough a few good stirs with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula. The dough is now prepared.

Note: If making the gougères the next day, put the dough in a covered container in the fridge. Take out of the fridge about an hour before forming the gougères and follow the directions below.

4. Working with a cookie scoop measuring about 2 teaspoons, or a tablespoon and another spoon, form the balls and place on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with the shaved parmesan and Maldon salt. Ms. Greenspan made in 59 gougères; my total was 37.

Note: If you would like to freeze some of the gougères, now is the time: Gougères can be frozen separately on a plate and then placed in a container. When ready to eat, take them out and place on a prepared baking sheet while the oven heats up; bake for a minute or two longer, or as required.

To bake the gougères:

5. Turn the oven temperature down to 375º F. Bake one sheet at a time for 22 - 24 minutes, or a little more, until the gougères are puffed up, brownish on top, and firm enough to pick up. Serve immediately, or reheat briefly in a 350º F oven.

#paleo #gougères #French #cheddar #walnuts #parmesan #Maldon #snacks #cheese #savory #creampuff #eclairs #newyorktimes #nyt #doriegreenspan

Gougères recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe in The New York Times here.

*From the New York Times Cooking Community on Facebook (sorry, I don't know the person who posted it to credit them):

Italian beef: Throw the meat (1 pound beef stir fry), two med/large onions sliced, 6 cloves chopped garlic, 1-2 jars of pepperoncinis or banana peppers, 2 tbsp Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a slow cooker or Dutch oven. Cover with beef broth or water, just covered. Cook on low 8 hours, high for 4 hours. Serve over mashed potatoes, or in buns smothered in melted provolone. Save the cooking liquid in freezer for your next beef stew.

**My Paleo Marin Rating between 1-5 Persimmons
I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Tartine Bakery’s Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Ganache Icing (GF) (DF)

Who doesn't love a little chocolate cake with few ingredients and maybe a dusting of powdered sugar on top? From the book Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for Home Cooks this recipe sounded ideal: a "surprisingly moist crumb, especially considering there is no butter or oil in the cake other than what naturally occurs in the almonds."

The almonds the author speaks of are in the almond flour, already pretty dry. I substituted almond milk for whole milk which, as it turns out, has half the fat. An optional ingredient was dollops of blackberry jam around the top of the cake before baking. I made it both ways. While the jam was good for a bit of a flavor burst, both cakes were on the dry side. The highlight was the ganache icing made with Valrhona chocolate, maple syrup and coconut cream, decadently covering the top. A bit more work than a powdered sugar dusting, but definitely worth the time.

My Paleo Marin Rating: 3 Persimmons*


For the Cake: (Note: Double the ingredients for a two-layer cake)

Unsalted non-dairy butter substitute or spray for the baking pan
Image from Amazon here

2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup + 1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, sifted, preferably Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons pure cane sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup almond milk, preferably Califia Farms Original Almond Milk

Optional: 1/2 cup blackberry, raspberry, apricot, peach or strawberry jam

For the Ganache: (Note: Double the ingredients for a two-layer cake)

4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped, preferably Valrhona 70% Guanaja Dark Chocolate Bar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Pinch of kosher salt

1/2 cup coconut cream


For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350º F. Use a non-dairy butter substitute or spray to cover the bottom and sides of a 9” round cake pan. Add a layer of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan.

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. Set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (or hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugars and sea salt together on high speed until ribbons of batter fall back into the bowl, about 3 minutes.

3. With a hand whisk, mix the vinegar and milk into the egg mixture. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk by hand until well combined.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. If using, add the dollops of jam around the top of the cake.

5. Bake the cake until it is set and a toothpick or skewer comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a butter knife around the sides of the cake, turn it upside down on your hand, remove the parchment paper, and place on a serving plate.

Note: my cake started to break apart when I turned it over. It may not have cooled off long enough. It looked fine on the serving plate with the icing on top.

For the Ganache:

While the cake is cooling, make the ganache:

1. Add the chopped chocolate, syrup and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Bring the coconut cream to a low simmer, watching it carefully so it does not burn.  Pour the heated cream over the chocolate mixture until it has all melted together.

3. With a hand mixer, beat the chocolate mixture until the ganache comes together, about 6 minutes.

4. Cover the top of the cooled cake with the ganache and serve.

Keep the cake covered at room temperature for about 3 days.

#chocolate #cake #nondairy #glutenfree #desserts #almondflour #ganache #Valrhona

Cake recipe adapted from Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for Home Cooks.

Ganache recipe from Clair Saffitz’ article “Have Your Cake" in Bon Appétit April 2017.

*My Paleo Marin Rating between 1-5 Persimmons
I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The ‘Extraordinary’ Frankies' Sputino Fried Eggplant Sandwich (New York Times)

I'm not a Frequent Fryer, but Food Columnist Melissa Clark's enthusiasm for "The Frankies" eggplant sandwich convinced me to give this a try.

Ms. Clark appears in a video with the owners of Frankies' Sputino Restaurant in Brooklyn. They show us step-by-step how to make this 'extraordinary' sandwich using their Italian grandmother's recipe. It took all afternoon, but the result was a dish with layers of flavor that were a much welcome change from my usual fare.

No doubt the restaurant sandwich is better (professional fryer), but for a home cooked dish (using a minimum amount of oil), no complaints. The bread soaked up the homemade tomato sauce, parmesan, garlic and eggplant flavors, one of life's little pleasures. It was delicious hot out of the oven and tasted even better for leftovers over the next couple of days.

'The Frankies' Brooklyn Restaurant
Photo credit NYT
My Paleo Marin: 4.8 Persimmons             


1/4 cup olive oil
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
Pinch of red chili flakes
2 (28 oz.) cans whole, peeled tomatoes and juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

2 lbs of eggplants (2 extra large or 5 small)
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt

4 large eggs
6 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, more for topping
6 tablespoons Pecorino Romano, grated, more for topping
(Note: I used 12 tablespoons of Parmigiano-Reggiano per personal preference)

3/4 cup olive oil

1 large loaf of ciabatta bread (or frozen gluten free bread, defrosted)

Extra grated cheese for topping


1. In a dutch oven or other large deep saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it softens and is a golden color, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the chili flakes and cook for 30 seconds.

2. While the garlic cooks, pour the tomatoes and juices in a large bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hands. When garlic is cooked through, add the tomatoes, juices and salt into the pot. Stir and cook uncovered over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, about 2 hours. Stir frequently. Set aside.

3. Line 1 to 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the stem end off of the eggplants and peel and discard the skin. Slice the eggplants vertically into about 3/16" to 1/4" thick slices. Place the slices on the parchment paper and generously sprinkle both sides of the eggplant with kosher salt. Let stand 10 minutes. With paper towels, wipe well to get the salt and excess liquid off.

4. Line 1-2 large rimmed baking sheets with paper towels and place wire racks on top. In a large skillet, heat 1/2 cup of oil until a drop of water sizzles on top. Working in batches, fry the eggplant until just tender, about 20 - 20 seconds per side. Place the slices on the racks to drain. Wipe off any excess oil with paper towels. Turn off the heat.

5. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and 2 tablespoons of the Pecorino. Add 3/4 cup oil to the skillet and return to medium-high heat until the oil is sizzling.

6. Working in batches, dip just enough eggplant slices into the batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry in the oil until lightly golden and cooked through, 2 - 4 minutes per batch. Put next layer of eggplant slices in the batter while you fry this batch. Place the fried slices back on the wire racks. As in making pancakes, the second batch worked better. If the batter puffs up and sticks to the eggplant, the oil is hot enough.

7. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9" square baking pan. Arrange a layer of fried eggplants over the sauce in a tight, even layer. Spread 1/3 of the remaining cheese on top. Repeat layer of sauce, eggplant and 1/3 of the cheese. Finish with a final layer of eggplant, sauce and cheese. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and golden, 20 - 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. And additional cheese on top. Cool for about 20 minutes.

8. Cut eggplant into 6 equal pieces. Cut the bread to match the size of the eggplant servings. Split each portion of the bread horizontally and lightly toast. Add the eggplant portions between the bread and serve.

Serve sandwiches while warm, or refrigerate and reheat for leftovers.

#paleo #vegetarian #comfortfood #eggplant #sandwiches #tomatoes #garlic #newyorktimes #melissaclark #frankiessputinorestaurant #recipes #maincourse 

For original recipe from the New York Times, see link here.

*My Paleo Marin Rating between 1-5 Persimmons
I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Shitake Mushroom Steamed Buns with Marinated Veggies & Hoisin (or Plum) Sauce (GF)

Miss eating out at your favorite restaurants? Love Bánh Mi sandwiches as much as I do? Here's an easy substitute to tide you over for a while.

The steamed buns couldn’t be easier: pre-made pizza dough. These are sprinkled with sesame seeds, steamed, then filled with marinated veggies. The result is an international palette that combines Chinese (bun), Japanese (shiitakes) and Vietnamese (marinade) flavors and disappeared as quickly as I could put them together!

My Paleo Marin Rating: 5 Persimmons*


1/4 cup coconut aminos
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tsp. light brown sugar
1 large garlic clove, minced

8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cap sliced horizontally, or chopped into slivers, or combination of both
2 carrots, peeled and julienned

1 lb. fresh prepared pizza dough
(Note: due to current limited shopping options, I used Terranova New York Pizza Dough from Whole Foods (not gluten free). For gluten free pizza dough, two options are: Williams Sonoma and Essential Baking, or search online for a recipe to make it at home).

Olive oil for greasing hands

Black and White Sesame Seeds for sprinkling

Hoisen Sauce or Plum Sauce to coat insides of bun (personal preference)
2 scallions, thinly sliced and dipped in water to clean thoroughly
1 cucumber, julienned


A 4-tier aluminum momo steamer or bamboo steamer works best to prepare this dish. A pot with fitted metal steamer basket could also work but would take several batches to make.

1. Whisk together the coconut aminos, rice vinegar, brown sugar and minced garlic in a medium-sized storage container with a lid. Add the chopped shiitake mushrooms and marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Shake midway to coat the mushrooms. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the julienned carrots to marinade until ready to assemble the buns.

2. Cut the pizza dough into 12 pieces (about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 oz. each). Using oiled hands, gently shape into balls (do not press out the air). Arrange the balls on one layer of the steamer tray and sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds.

3. Spread the shiitakes on another steamer tray.

4. If using the aluminum steamer or pot, add 2-3 inches of water in the bottom pot. Bring to a boil. For the bamboo steamer, see link for preparation. Add the tray of mushrooms and then the tray of buns on top that. Cover and turn down heat to medium. Steam for 15 - 20 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through and the buns are puffed and have a glistened sheen on top.

5. Remove the trays and set aside to cool a bit. Remove the buns and carefully cut through the middle, leaving the back in tact. Brush the insides of the bun with a thin layer of either hoisin or plum sauce. Add mushrooms, carrots (after draining the marinade), sliced cucumber and scallions. Place extra dipping sauce out.

Mushrooms can be prepared one day in advance. Best served out of the steamer, but good anytime.

#paleo #glutenfree #dairyfree #steamedbuns #Chinese #Japanese #Vietnamese #shitake #mushrooms #snacks #vegetarian #vegan #stayinplace

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine recipe here.

*My Paleo Marin Rating between 1-5 Persimmons
I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Macademia Nut Digestives w/ Chunky Almond Butter & Tea Masala Spice (GF)

My craving for a childhood comfort food, peanut butter cookies, unexpectedly led to a healthier version of another cookie I also like, the traditional British "digestive." This semi-sweet biscuit was first developed by two Scottish doctors in 1839 to aid in digestion and is now popular worldwide.

Making paleo-friendly substitutions in the New York Times recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies led me down this path. Macadamia nuts replaced the ground peanuts (a legume whose properties can block good nutrients). Gluten free flour replaced whole wheat flour (for its anti-inflammatory properties). The sugar amount was cut in half. Crunchy almond butter replaced peanut butter and added the all-important crunch (provided by wheat germ in digestives but can be a possible cause of inflammation).

So how were the cookies? While not having the flavor punch of peanut butter cookies, they were 'good enough.' They reminded me of a digestive biscuit which I love but doesn't always agree with me; from their ingredient list, I can now see why. This recipe, however, produced the same dry texture of digestives, along with the satisfying crunch, and were eaten, enjoyed and happily forgotten about until the next time for tea!

My Paleo Marin Rating: 3.5 Persimmons*


1 cup macadamia nuts, lightly toasted

2 1/2 cups gluten free flour, preferably Cup4Cup Multipurpose Gluten Free Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

8 oz. salted butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup cane sugar

1 cup crunchy almond butter, preferably Trader Joe's Crunchy Almond Butter, Salted

2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons tea masala spice, available here


Adjust oven rack to center position. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat sheet or parchment paper.

1. Lightly toast macadamia nuts. When cool, place in food processor and pulse until the texture is like bread crumbs. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with the whip attachment until creamy (or by hand). Add sugars, and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping sides as necessary.

3. Add crunchy almond butter and beat until incorporated. Add the eggs, slightly beaten, one at a time, and then the vanilla and tea masala spice. Beat just until mixed together.

4. Gently stir dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients. Fold in the ground macadamia nuts and distribute them throughout.

5. Drop the dough onto the baking sheet in spoonfuls a little bigger than a golf ball, about 2 inches apart. Dip a fork in cold water and press back the dough to flatten the ball to about a 1/4" thick cookie. This will use about 1/2 of the dough.

6. To bake: The original recipe says to bake the cookies at 350º F for 11-13 minutes until the edges are slightly browned. They will not look completely baked. Cool in the baking pan for 3 minutes and then cool on a rack.

One of the bakers in the "Comments" section recommended this method for extra crunchiness: Bake the cookies at 350º F for 10 minutes. Remove cookie sheet from oven and let cool completely. Return to the oven and cook for about 5 minutes more or until the edges turn brown.

7. Cool the cookies in the pan placed on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to the wire rack to cool completely.

8. Repeat with the remaining dough. Or, you can shape the cookies and put them on a plate to freeze. Then put the frozen uncooked cookies in a freezer bag to bake at a later date.

Cookies will keep up to 7 days in a  covered container in the fridge.

#paleo #glutenfree #digestives #almonds #almondbutter #Cup4Cup #teamasala #cookies #snacks #lowsugar

Recipe adapted from the NYT link here.

*My Paleo Marin Rating between 1-5 Persimmons
I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Wild Mushroom Galette with Fresh Herbs and Ricotta Cheese (GF)

If, like me, your decisions about buying mushrooms are mostly limited to whether to buy white or brown criminis, you will be as surprised as I was at the amazing flavors in the Maitake, Shitake and Tree Oyster Mushrooms used in this galette. The mushrooms are pre-roasted in olive oil to reduce moisture and intensify the meaty texture. Roasting fresh thyme, rosemary and sage along with the mushrooms, and then again in the galette, provide an added bonus: fragrant aromatherapy that may well boost your spirits as you wait for the galette to come out of the oven!

Known since ancient times for their medicinal purposes, wild mushrooms not only provide vitamins and fiber, but also contain a powerful antioxidant of selenium that can help boost the immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues.* But don't be misled. This galette is an elegant, delicious and nutritious dish for any special lunch or dinner.

My Paleo Marin Rating: 4.5 Persimmons**


For the Dough:

2 cups gluten free flour (about 8 1/2 oz.) plus more for dusting, preferably Cup4Cup Multipurpose Gluten Free Flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. granulated cane sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 oz.), chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup ice water, separated

For the Filling:

Maitake Mushrooms
18 oz. wild mushrooms, preferably organic Far West Fungi brand from Whole Foods, torn into 2" pieces as follows:
6 oz. Maitake Mushrooms
6 oz. Shitake Mushrooms
6 oz. Tree Oyster Mushrooms

2 tbsp. olive oil
6 thyme sprigs
4 rosemary sprigs
2 sage sprigs
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided

2 cups (1 lb.) whole milk ricotta, drained overnight (Note: For dairy free, use Kite Hill Almond Milk Ricotta)

3/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
3/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3/4 chopped fresh sage leaves

Shitake Mushrooms
1 large egg, beaten


For the Dough:

Note: Prepare the dough 2 hours to 1-3 days ahead of assembly.

1. In a large bowl, stir the flour, salt and sugar together. Add the butter and work into the flour with a pastry cutter or fork until the butter is the shape of small peas. Add 1/4 cup water and mix with a fork. Add additional tablespoons of water until the dough will hold together in a ball.
Tree Oyster Mushrooms

2. Flatten the ball into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

For the Filling:

Note: Prepare the Ricotta 1 day ahead, if possible.

1. Place cheesecloth or thick paper towels in a strainer. Place the strainer on a plate. Spoon the ricotta on top and cover with cheesecloth or paper towels. Press the cheesecloth down to drain any excess liquid. Add a heavy bottle or can and keep pressure on the cheese overnight in the fridge.

(Alternatively, put the ricotta in cheesecloth and tightly squeeze out as much moisture as possible.)

2. Preheat the oven to 400º F.  In a large bowl, toss together the mushrooms, olive oil, herb sprigs, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread the mixture out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake just until the mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the herb sprigs and set the mushrooms aside to cool to room temperature for at least 15 minutes.

To Assemble the Galette:

3. Reduce the oven temp to 325º F. (Note: I set my old Wedgewood oven to about 350º F.; adjust for your oven accordingly.)  Unwrap the dough and roll out on a lightly-floured surface to about a 15" diameter circle, 1/4" thick.

4. Put the drained ricotta in a small bowl. Stir in the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Spread the ricotta over the dough leaving 2" free around the edges. Spread the mushroom mixture evenly around the galette, sprinkle with the remaining chopped herb leaves, and fold up the sides of the dough, pleating it every 2". Lightly brush the sides of the dough with the beaten egg.

5. Bake the galette on a silpat map on a baking sheet until the crust is golden brown, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool about 10 minutes. Serve warm, or reheat leftovers at a later time.

#paleo #galette #foodandwine #mushrooms #herbs #aromatherapy #treeoystermushrooms #shitakemushrooms #maitakemushrooms #antioxidants #fungi #forager #mycologists #mycophagists #mycophiles #instafood #vegetarian #kitehill 

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine recipe here.

* See "Ancient Healing Powers of Medicinal Mushrooms" here.

**My Paleo Marin Rating between 1-5 Persimmons

I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Easy Dark Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread (GF) (DF)

Staring at yet another bunch of bananas too ripe to eat, I googled banana bread. What? Chocolate and bananas in an easy recipe? By one of my trusted recipe sources? This one by Smitten Kitchen did not disappoint.

It was so good, I actually bought ripe bananas to make it again and freeze. Just as good as the original when defrosted and reheated, the bread was a welcome addition to an early morning committee meeting served with butter and/or cardamom cocoa frosting leftover from the Valentine's Day Moroccan French Brownies.

Don't hold back. Gabrielle Hamilton in her memoir Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef said that two fats are always better than one. You're welcome.

My Paleo Marin: 5 Persimmons*


1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (Note: Substitute earth balance vegan buttery sticks for dairy free)

3-4 large ripe bananas, mashed in a bowl with a potato masher, pastry cutter, or fork, leaving some minor lumps of banana
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg, beaten lightly with a fork
1 cup gluten-free flour, preferably Cup4Cup Multipurpose Gluten-free Flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup gluten-free flour, preferably Cup4Cup Multipurpose Gluten-free Flour

1/4 cup dark cocoa powder (sifted if lumpy), preferably Ghirardelli Premium 100% Cocoa Unsweetened 
3/4 cup chocolate chips, preferably Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips


Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. (Note: my old gas oven bakes better at 375 degrees F so adjust accordingly for your oven.)

1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized pot over low heat. Remove from heat and add in the mashed bananas; beat with a wooden spoon until mostly smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and egg until thoroughly combined. Add 1 cup of flour, stirring just until it is mixed in.

2. Pour half of the batter into a second bowl (you can estimate it). Into one bowl, stir in the cocoa powder and chocolate chips. Into the other bowl, stir in the ground cinnamon and additional 1/4 cup of flour.

3. Place one dollop of the chocolate batter (about 1/3 cup) in the middle of the bread pan. Add a dollop of the cinnamon batter on both sides of the chocolate. On the next layer, place one dollop of the cinnamon batter in the middle and add a dollop of chocolate batter on either side. Alternate the dark and light batter in layers until it is all used up. Take a flat knife or offset spatula and smooth out the batter to the edges; then make 2 - 3 figure 8's in the batter. Don't overmix.

4. Bake 55-65 minutes, until a tester comes out batter free when placed in the center of the bread. Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn the bread out of the pan to rest on the wire rack until cooled off. Serve warm or at room temperature. If previously frozen, thaw completely on a wire rack and reheat in a 350 degree F oven for about 15 minutes.

To serve, slice and offer with room-temperature butter and/or frosting from the Moroccan French Brownie with Cardamom Cocoa Frosting recipe, if desired.

Store at room temperature wrapped in foil for about 4 days, or freeze in plastic wrap and foil to serve later.

#bananas #chocolate #bread #snacks #breakfast #lowsugar #glutenfree #chocolateswirl #paleoinspired

*My Paleo Marin Rating between 1-5 Persimmons

I try out these recipes so you don't have to (and modify them for Paleo where possible). The rating will reflect my opinion of the final result in terms of taste, ease of preparation, nutrition, and sometimes, cost.