Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gluten-Free Crêpes

Pronounced krāp; or krɛp doesn't make a difference to me because in the end you have a very thin "pancake" that you can fill with almost anything. You can go sweet or you can go savory.

Lately, I have been craving savory crêpes, oozing with healthy veg and some sharp cheese! Years ago when I first got into cooking, a dear friend of mine made some amazing crêpes that have stayed with me to this day- and all she did was put fresh spinach and garlic powder inside them rolled them up and voila! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Coming from college dormitory food at that time, you can see why I thought these were perfection! Really though, sometimes dishes made with the simplest ingredients can be the most satifying and memorable meals of all!

I have taken it up a notch since those days by adding goat cheese, shallots and fresh herbs, but I still love the flavor of the garlic powder too; so to the memory of those early crêpes, I still add this.

Amazingly, making them gluten-free has worked out well. You just need to let the batter sit and rest and mingle so the flours with all play happily together once they are sizzling away on the crepe pan. And the pan is very, very important! You really must have a crepe pan for them to come out super thin- I have been using the same pan for years and years and you can find one here or here. The best type hands down are the ones made of blue steel and made in France. After all, they should know! Once seasoned, it will turn out beautiful crepes for years to come.

Here is what I made recently for a satisfying and easy dinner:

Savory Spinach Crêpes


1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour (or try brown rice or garbanzo flour)
2 large eggs
1 pinch of salt
1 cup milk ( I used almond milk)
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp melted butter

For filling:

1 package of frozen spinach thawed and water squeezed out
1-2 shallots, minced
2 tbsp butter
Goat cheese or cheese of choice grated (about 1 cup)
salt and pepper to taste
dash of garlic powder (optional)
fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, chives) your choice


1. Blend ingredients in a blender, transfer to a bowl, cover and let rest for an hour. (this can be done ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to a day)*

2. Meanwhile prepare the filling: Saute shallots in butter in a pan until soft. Add drained spinach and heat through. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm.

3.Heat your crêpe pan and cook the crêpes a few minutes on each side. Remove to a plate and cover with a towel while you make the rest.

4. Fill your crêpes, being careful not to over fill with the spinach mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of cheese and herbs and either roll or fold.

*Batter makes enough for about 10 crêpes.

Some folks like to make a Béchamel sauce as well- but for me, I just eat them like this. Either way, served with a salad, this makes for a great weekday meal.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pint-sized Chefs

These girls are not only adorable, but my goodness! I am so impressed with their cooking skills and they are only 9 years old! They even have their own website where they have videos and recipes. Now that's what I call passion for something from the beginning- some of us take much longer to find our passion but these two cuties know that they want a life in food- and in good, healthy food at that- no fast food for this dynamic twin duo! They are out to change the way kids think about food and to show it's never too early to appreciate great ingredients!

When asked in an interview with ABC News, what they would order at a fast food restaurant, one of them replied, "A glass of water". Now that's my kind of kid! I am in awe and plan on following their mini careers!

Twin Chefs Lilly and Audrey
Photo by Meg Smith

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

"Laughter is brightest where food is best." - Irish Proverb

I couldn't let this day go by without a tip of the hat to the Irish! After all, my mother's side of the family does have it's roots in the Emerald Isle.

I adore Irish Soda Bread and woke up this morning craving it. I also realized I haven't made it in years either. So I got to thinking about what recipe I used and after 30 seconds it came to me!
Grandma Clark's Soda Bread from the New Basics Cookbook- it's more of a cake than a bread really because there is no yeast, but what makes it special is that you bake it in a cast iron skillet- much like grandma would have done!


4 tbsp unsalted butter

3 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 c granulated sugar

1 1/2 c dried currants
1 3/4 c buttermilk

2 eggs; well beaten
2 tbsp of butter melted and cooled to room temperature

1 tbsp caraway seeds; (optional)

Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Smear 2T of the butter evenly in a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Line the bottom of the skillet with a circle of waxed paper.

2. Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add currants and toss well to coat.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter. Add this to the dry ingredients, along with the caraway seeds and mix till blended, but do NOT over-mix.

4. Spoon batter into the prepared skillet or cake pan and smooth top gently with a spatula. Dot the top with remaining 2T butter.

5. Place skillet in oven and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 1 hour. Cool for 10 minutes in the skillet, either serve warm or continue to cool on a wire rack.

Now that is comfort in a skillet!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chocolate and Quinoa?

It's no secret I adore chocolate- been eating it since I can remember. My tastes have changed over the years from milk chocolate to dark, almost bitter chocolate, but memories of Nestle's Crunch Bar with always be with me. It was hands down my absolute favorite chocolate bar when I was a kid.

The combo of crunchy quinoa and Fair Trade dark chocolate of the new Alter-Eco Midnight Crunch bar is like the grown up and more refined version of the classic Nestle Crunch Bar. Not only will this satisfy my long lost love of crispy chocolate bites, this bar packs protein rich quinoa-and it's baked 12 times longer than rice to make it extra crispy, so that coupled with the dark chocolate sourced from Fair Trade Cooperatives, makes for a promising new substitute of my childhood favorite, and it supports farmers ethically. Now that's some powerful stuff!

Not that I need a reason to eat chocolate but this is double-duty winner. Can't wait to get my hands on this one! It's so new that I think it's only available on their website. I already checked out my local Whole Foods and it's not there yet....but they sell the line so with any luck, the shelves will be stocked soon!