Quinoa stuffed cabbage. How's that for nontraditional?
It was a dark and stormy night...
Wait.This is a recipe post. Let me start again. Got your cocoa? Are you settled?
The tight blue tiled kitchen glowed in the afternoon sun that slatted through the western facing junipers and spilled across the cupboards in a honeyed glaze so dazzling she had to lower her eyes to keep from squinting as she grabbed a frayed dish towel and cracked the oven door an inch. The scent of sweet potatoes, apples and onion laced with garlic, nutmeg and cinnamon filled the room. She tugged her worn wooden spoon from the mustard crock and stirred the tender jewels bathed in apple juice. For the first time in days she felt connected to something tangible.
How does a person know this? To peel a cooked cabbage leaf so gently and not tear it. To spoon a spiced and savory filling into its center, wrap and roll it, snugging it into the curve of a empty dish. A row of translucent bundles. Plump. Expectant. Longing for sauce. Which Sophie, Irina or Josefa first boiled a cabbage and thought to stuff a single leaf? What brilliance is this, what simple wisdom born of practicality - or whim? Is memory in the head or in the heart?
Perhaps it lingers in the hands.
Chapter 13 1/2.
When the outside world turns on its axis and flirts with the taste of hate and the ancient flame of violence is paraded as remedy, when the color of your skin or your eyes or your state divides you from your neighbor and you tread in the quicksand of suspicion and anger- let go, Brother. Just breathe, Sister.
Trust the faith you so fervently stoke. If your faith is true and clear will it fail you? Or the harder, deeper question is, will it blind you?
Listen as a child, aware of the bigness, the intricate complexity that weaves a reality not always aligned to your expectations. Loosen your grip on your assumptions. Think about the stars and how your very atoms are stuff of the universe.
Cupcakes for the In Crowd... Gluten-free cupcakes are hot. Or should I say, HAWT. Tack on vegan status, too, and you've got a trend worthy of the most BoHo WeHo GoGo. So I'm reprising this chocolate cupcake recipe to tempt you into baking this weekend.
These little beauties remind me of Devil's Food Cake. Dark, moist and chocolatey.
So grab your inner Domestic Goddess by the hand and stir up some trouble.
But before we get to (what happens to be my favorite) chocolate cupcake recipe from the archives, I want to share something. Maybe it's the waxing moon, that cyclic siren pulling us toward wholeness, to embracing our shadow, urging us to let go, shed the outworn for the sake of authenticity. Or maybe it's the fresh start of a new year, possessing me with cravings for newly sharpened pencils and thick stacks of paper, clean as a cloud, conjuring flashes of new beginnings.
It's hard not to feel anxious these days. So much barking and blinking and chest thumping. So much posing and strutting, and grinding, voracious greed. It's mighty tough for a sensitive soul (prone to itchy bouts of worry) to cope with all the mishegas and mayhem of our overheated plugged-in self-promoting culture. Finding a little grace and respite amidst the noise can be hard.
That is why I am sharing (another) soup recipe. Just in case there is a kindred spirit out there in need of a bowl of creamy veggie comfort. A gluten-free vegan detox soup worthy of Peter Rabbit's sneaky excursions into Mr. McGregor's garden (that mischievous little rabbit- or as we like to say in my house... BUNNY!- close to my own greens adoring heart).
Bunnies aren't known for tongue-thrusting on YouTube, or spitting out criticism, or bullying, or, in general, wreaking havoc. Unless you count Peter's root vegetable stealing. Or (my sons' favorite) mischievous Max and his devouring love of chocolate chickens (have you read the Max books?).
Bunnies are (ostensibly, anyway) devoted to a milder temperament.
And qualities like kindness and cuteness and gentleness.
Grainy, whole grain bliss. One of our absolute favorite gluten-free bread recipes. This rustic round loaf is tender and flavorful, and lovely dipped in extra virgin olive oil, Italian style.
Crusty, fragrant gluten-free olive bread, warm from the oven.
Giving up bread is hard. Bread is basic. Almost a need. Like air. Like breathing. It is both routine and celebratory. Prosaic and divine. A simple, torn-off hunk of good bread embodies a deep sense of nourishment, for body and soul. The bewitching mix of a handful of flour, some yeast, some salt, some water.
Stir. Knead. Rest. Bake.
And as if by magic, this warm and fragrant alchemical creation called bread appears.
And all is right with the world.
When I think of our honeymoon in Italy (seventeen years ago, darling) I think of the color of the evening sky above the cypress. A shot of burnished gold that shimmered with the faintest veil of pink and lemon yellow. I think about the shopkeepers sweeping their doorsteps each morning, nodding their Buon giorno! as we walked to fetch a New York Times and a cappuccino not served in a paper cup. There was love, yes. And wine. And olives.
And there was bread.
The best bread I had ever devoured.
My go-to breakfast was a plate sized flat-bread studded with olives, paper thin tomato slices, or chopped fresh garlic. Chewy, salty, sweet, and earthy. A bread worth the walk into town. I must have eaten dozens in our too-short two week stay.
Here in southern California, I have been living almost breadless. By choice. The hundreds of gluten-free breads I have baked in the past nine years have not tempted me into the kitchen. Not even the best gluten-free bread recipes. Starch, you see, is not agreeing with me lately. I think we may be breaking up. For good. My body hums happily without it. My waistline is trimmer without it (though not quite up to honeymoon standards, I am seeing the promise of a waistline appear). But this week I started remembering.
And the craving began.
So I began bargaining with myself. The dialogue went something like this.
Okay. You want a piece of bread, darling? You're going to have to bake it without starch. Without sugar. You know that, right? And you are prepared to plunge into abject failure if this gluten-free whole grain concoction doesn't turn out? It is a risk, you know. Baking without gluten. Making bread without starches. It's tricky. It's fickle. So if this turns out badly, promise you won't despair.
I pulled out every non-starchy flour and ingredient from my snug little pantry and imagined my pre-celiac Italian memory. I stood and stared at the tumble of half-used bags and battered boxes on the counter for a good ten minutes. Steve walked by and glanced at his wife of seventeen years standing deer-in-the-headlights still.
He knew not to ask.
I grabbed brown rice flour. Almond meal. Millet flour. Quinoa flakes. Rice bran. Garlic. Sea salt. Olive oil. An impossible, motley crew of ingredients that would prompt any Italian baker to raise her eyebrows in a justified Che cosa succede?
Fabulous Chicken Enchiladas- worthy of a Game Day get-together.
Yummy. Easy. Chicken enchiladas. I never tire of them. And I'm not alone. My chicken enchilada recipes are among the most popular recipes on the blog. It's understandable. Enchiladas make a perfect make-ahead recipe for a weeknight supper, football Sunday, or a pot luck gathering. And they are (easily) gluten-free.
Today, a recipe. Scripted by Yours Truly. Our favorite gluten-free chili- hearty winter comfort.
INT. 5TH FLOOR APARTMENT - DAY
A chilly winter light slices into a SANTA MONICA apartment and illuminates every cobweb. (Obviously, a certain individual has been neglecting house work again). Said individual sighs audibly. Glances sideways into the mirror hanging above the kitchen sink cluttered with coffee spoons, grilled cornbread crumbs and half-filled tea mugs. She could never pass for Martha Stewart. Not in a million years.
Start the New Year light and fresh with these three hearty- and fabulous- soup recipes.
Happy New Year, Dear Reader! Welcome to a brand new day. The unwritten slate of 2018 awaits our choices, as clean and cold as a January dawn. What will you do with this gift of time? This fresh start? Where to begin?
I suggest soup.
Slow cooker comfort in a bowl.
Kind to your body. Nourishing to your spirit. A soother of cravings.
Back in the Northeast it's been one gnarly week. The word wicked does not even begin to cover it. Epic... might be a start. Massive... might be an understatement. The snow, you see, is record breaking. One might even say, crazzzzzy. It's enough to make a big dog weep.
In (previously) typical fashion, one might be tempted to throw up one's hands in defeat and shout, Let the carb cravings begin! But I might actually be in the mood to defy such cravings, yipping and gnawing inside my belly like so many tiny, quivering chihuahuas. Tugging my attention to mocha frosted vanilla cupcakes.
I might actually choose, instead, to grab a big pot. And start a batch of hearty, soul mending soup.
And living- as we did for three decades- on Cape Cod, you might guess I rustled up some classic clam chowdah. Or lobstah bisque. Nope. Instead, my inspiration comes via Wellfleet village. A gluten-free, cooking lighter take on a New England Portuguese mainstay. Kale soup. With andouille.
It's the perfect, spicy soup to brave this stuff called SNOW.
And in the meantime, keep those fairy lights lit. Gather some candles. And know I'm counting with you the lengthening days till Spring.