Gluten-Free Cauliflower Tortillas as Goat Cheese, Roasted Pepper & Spinach Pizza or Margherita Pizza

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I made these cauliflower tortillas as part of a recent effort to shed a few pounds – quickly.  I am cutting out bread, pasta, white rice, flour tortillas, potatoes – you know – white carbohydrates.  I am on day three of just cutting out those things & have lost four pounds already!  Of course, I lost two of them in just a single, one-hour class at my gym (owned by Billy Blanks siblings – Irene & Michael).  I lost two pounds this morning despite downing a 51 ounce bottle of water during the class.

At any rate, I made these with the plan to make tacos out of them last night but pizza just sounded so much better!  So – little 6″ pizzas it was.

This is really just a simpler variation of my Cauliflower Pizza Crust Dough recipe – but they really are easy & can be used as the basis for pizza or tacos or, as I will show soon, to replace hot dog buns.  One fairly large head of cauliflower produced about six 6″ tortillas.  The toppings I used were sorta random.  I had a bunch of jalapeno, red & orange bell, red jalapeno & poblano peppers that were getting a tad wilty.  I roasted them on the stove top.  You do this right on the burners (or under a broiler in the oven) by just charring the outside completely black.  You then steam them for 5-10 minutes by putting them in a covered container.  Under cool water, rub the skins off & remove the seeds.  Then just store them for later use.

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Gluten-Free Cauliflower Tortillas

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of cauliflower

3 eggs

Generous pinches of onion powder, oregano and S&P.

DIRECTIONS

Rice the cauliflower by grating it – either by hand or with a food processor.

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Put an inch or two of water in a large stock pot & add the cauliflower.  Bring to a boil & then reduce heat to med-low & simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Drain into a colander lined with a kitchen towel & run cold water over it.

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Squeeze as much water out of the cauliflower as possible.  The drier you get it, the better!

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Mix in a bowl with the eggs & spices.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & press the mixture into little tortillas about 1/4′ thick or thinner.

Bake in an oven pre-heated to 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes & then flip & repeat.

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Cool on a wire rack so they do not steam themselves & get soggy.

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I made two mini-pizzas from these guys by baking them (with toppings) at about 425 for about 10-15 minutes (or until cheese is bubbly & melted).  One was topped with:

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Goat cheese

Sliced tomato

Chopped roasted peppers

Crushed red pepper

and the other was simply – Margherita using:

Sliced tomato

Mozzarella

Crushed red pepper

Chopped basil as garnish

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Kraft Cauliflower No-Mac and Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I had this idea in the bathtub last night.  Relaxing & sipping wine in candlelight – I sat up with a start!

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What if I made my favorite crack-like meal – Kraft macaroni & cheese – but used ONLY cauliflower?   I Googled the idea a bunch & tried to see if someone else had done it.  What I found is some scandal that Kraft puts powdered cauliflower in one of their boxed dinners.  I’m not sure if folks are mad that something that could be touted (in a stretch) as “healthy” is being added to the toxic soup that is a Kraft Mac & Cheese dinner or if they are mad that Kraft is claiming that powdered cauliflower counts as a veggie – nor do I care.  WTF, people?  If you want your kids to eat veggies – fucking feed them veggies.  And – anyone that goes to MacDonalds or eats Doritos or Funyuns or Kraft diners (as I sometimes do – as much as I try not to) and then whines that the food isn’t healthy enough or made them fat – to you I also say, “What the fuck?”  Didn’t the minor chemical burns in your mouth from eating those things (especially Funyuns) tip you off?  Or Morgan Spurlock’s near liver failure after 21 days of eating McDonalds?   Or pop artist, Ron English, & his supersized Ronald?

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(photo stolen from the internet)

If you are unaware of Ron English, by the way, you should change that.  He is an incredible fine artist & social satirist & street artist.  From billboard pirating to vinyl dolls to tremdous paintings – he is a prolific genius.  Some more samples (photos from Ron’s site –  https://www.popaganda.com/ ):

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At any rate – those junk foods are as widely known to be JUNK as cigarettes are known to cause cancer.   So – save your whining for the real food issues out there – like GMO labeling etc and a corrupted FDA and – either embrace the poisons & their glorious nutrition vacuums or eschew them.

OR – do what I did and keep ALL the cancer-causing dyed toxic powder waste of a Kraft “cheese” packet & then save a few calories by losing the only actual food item in the box (the macaroni) and replace it with a real, live, honest to God VEGGIE!

I am telling you – I was so excited about this idea that I left directly from my 8:15am tae-bo class & headed, looking like a drown rat, to Ralph’s & bought the things I needed – namely the cauliflower & milk – as I always have Kraft & butter in my house.

And – when this was all said and done & I sat down to shovel it into my face – the only regret I had was that I hadn’t used the entire head of cauliflower.  I used half – trying to match the bulk that the macaroni would have provided.  As it turned out – I feel there was enough of the buttery sauce to accommodate an entire medium head.  The sauce did seems a tad watery, though.  Maybe the starch from the pasta thickens that up.  In an effort to remedy that, I added about 1/4 cup of a mixed grated cheese (mozzarella & cheddar) that I had.  I didn’t notice much of a difference & decided not to add more – lest I do serious damage to the integrity of my experiment.  Still – after I photographed the bejesus out of my erotically orange results (Yes.  Yes – I feel that way about Kraft dinner.  Live with it.) – I noticed that the remaining sauce in the pan I used to mix it the whole shebang up in had thickened a bit.  So – I added that to my neon-colored cauliflower before I devoured the whole thing.  And then – I began to actually drink the sauce that was left in my bowl once the cauliflower was gone – like one would drink the milk left behind in a cereal bowl – until I realized I was really just drinking chemical-enriched butter & reluctantly put the bowl in the sink.

So – all in all – I would recommend this very much.  I ate the whole of that once-powdery then buttery orange nectar (or the bulk of it) and I sit here writing now, an hour later, without a stomach ache nor a sense of bloat nor am I awash with the traditional accompanying guilt.  If you like Kraft & you like cauliflower – you must try this.  Or – if you are a parent really trying to get kids to eat veggies – this might be just the culinary training wheels required – especially if you include the pasta.

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Kraft Cauliflower No-Mac and Cheese

INGREDIENTS

1 box Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

4 TBS butter

1/4 cup milk (or less)

1/4 cup (or more) grated cheese (cheddar or mozzarella or something else bland) – OPTIONAL

1 medium head cauliflower – cut into florets

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DIRECTIONS

Boil the cauliflower until tender.  Five minutes or less.

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Melt the butter in a sauce pan & add the milk & grated cheese (if using) and the glorious Kraft cheese powder.  Whisk smooth.

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Drain the cauliflower & return to the pan.  Pour the sauce over it & mix to blend.  You might want to let it sit a few minutes to thicken.  S&P to taste & you are off to the races!

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I am obsessed with cauliflower.  It can be used to replace or replicate so many things and is inexpensive & free of so many things many people are trying to avoid, like carbs, calories & gluten.  This pizza crust was not my first attempt at using cauliflower as a base for pizza but, the last time I tried it, I wasn’t blogging so the results were never made public.  The results were that it tasted good but I thought it used too much cheese & felt like it was worse for you than regular pizza dough.

This crust is lighter & smelled incredible cooking, but it was a tad moist for my taste & didn’t set together as well as I’d hoped.  In fairness, no cauliflower crust is going to fool anyone into thinking they are eating a standard issue pizza on dough but this one still isn’t perfected.  I did dump a lot of wet ingredients on it (sliced tomatoes & fresh mozzarella) and that definitely contributed to the moisture factor.  Still, I could pick it up & eat it like a slice – just not a crispy one.

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The cooking time on this one will likely vary for everyone – depending on the calibration of your oven & how much moisture you manage to squeeze out of the cooked cauliflower rice & how thick you make your crust.  I kept going in five minute increments from the initial 25 minute cooking time I guessed at until it looked like this:

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I then transferred it (and tore it in the process) to this wire pizza rack thing I have – hoping the vented rack would allow the oven to dry the crust out more.  It looks like this:

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It didn’t really help.  Next time – I might start with the wire rack & cook the dough on parchment atop that & see if it impacts the crispness of the crust.

All that said – this pizza crust was very tasty & even my dogs gobbled up the cauliflower crust I gave them.  That might seem obvious to you but my Dexter is a very finicky eater.  So – I do not want to discourage you from trying this.  The spices I added were sort of random.  You can use the ones I did or not – or you can add some of your own.  Rosemary might be nice!

The pizza you see here that I made is finished with a tomato sauce, fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella & basil on one side & my Chard Pesto (which I recommend VERY highly) on the other.  You can top your crust any way you like.

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

INGREDIENTS

1 medium head cauliflower

1 egg – beaten

4 oz. goat cheese

1 TBS dry oregano

1 TBS dry parsley

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Chop your cauliflower & then either pulse it in your food processor (or, as I did, use the grater blade) and reduce the cauliflower to a rice-like consistency.  A regular cheese grater will work, too, but one of the drawbacks to cauliflower is that it pops everywhere when you cut it raw & it gets messy.  Still – the rice cauliflower can be achieved with just a regular cheese grater.

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Boil about an inch of water in a large stock pot.  Boil the cauliflower for about 5 minutes.  Drain it through a fine mesh sieve.  Cool it with cold water & then, in batches, wrap it is a clean kitchen towel & twist it tighter & tighter – squeezing out every bit of water you can.

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In a large bowl, beat the egg then add all the remaining ingredients, including the cauliflower.  With your hands, completely blend the ingredients into a moist dough.

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Line your pizza pan with parchment paper or REALLY grease it.  I suggest the paper – but in a pinch – grease will work.  I just fear it will stick to the pan on you.  No need to grease the parchment, though.  Press your dough into your pizza’s shape – even creating the deep crust on the edges, if you like.  Your pizza dough should be about 1/3 inch thick or so in the flat part.

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Bake this for about 30-45 minutes – watching it carefully because it will go from not done to burned in a flash.  When it reaches a nice golden color take it out of the oven.  Top it with your toppings & cook until your cheese is melted.  Voila!

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Gluten-Free Chipotle Potato Lasagna with Cauliflower, Kale & Corn

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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As you most likely know, yesterday, my home town of Boston was the victim of a double bombing.  The bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon at about the 4 hour mark & killed three people (including an 8 year old) and there are reports of over 170 injuries.  The bulk of the serious injuries are traumatic leg amputations, because the bombs were (according to reports) hidden in trash cans & loaded with shrapnel.  Lower extremities took the brunt of the impact.

It was a disgusting act of cowardice and it was impossible to have the TV on & not be deluged with images of the violence & theorizing by news people.  Still, I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV and focus on anything else so, I decided to just cook all day.  Cooking is a very zen way for me to occupy myself.  The result was this recipe.  My guesstimates on the quantities required to make a single lasagna were a tad over – so I used the extra stuff to make a second little tart-like thing.  You can either use a larger baking pan (mine was about 9x2x13) or be prepared to make a second dish from the remnants, as I did.  Here are the two final dishes – fresh out of the oven:

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I used roasted cauliflower, grilled corn & blanched kale in addition to the layered potatoes.  Any of these ingredients could easily be 86-ed without a negative impact on the final result.  There is no pasta in this lasagna so it is safe for those who are intolerant of gluten.  It could be made vegan by just using vegan cheese.  There are a lot of steps in this recipe but none are difficult.  Pacing is no issue as the assembly can wait as long as it takes for each element to be prepared.  If roasting cauliflower or grilling corn sounds like a pain in the ass, boil the cauliflower until soft & use raw corn.  This is a very forgiving recipe.  One thing though, you should make it (and bake it) several hours (or the day) ahead & let it rest & settle.  Then reheat it at 375 for about 20 minutes.   Please read through the entire recipe once before you begin.

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Gluten-Free Chipotle Potato Lasagna with Cauliflower, Kale & Corn

INGREDIENTS

3 Russet potatoes

1 head cauliflower

2 ears corn

2 large onions – sliced very thin

1 head kale

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced (optional)

6 garlic cloves – chopped

6 chipotle peppers & 2 TBS adobo sauce – minced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dry oregano

2 TBS fresh oregano – chopped

2 28oz cans whole, peeled tomatoes

2 cups grated pepper jack cheese

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

6 scallions – chopped (both white & green parts)

1 each red, yellow & orange bell peppers (or three of whatever color are available)

olive oil

S&P to taste

Fresh cilantro – chopped – for sauce & for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

Remove the leaves & core of the cauliflower & slice into 1/2 inch steaks.  Rub with some olive oil & a bit of salt & roast at 375 for about 20 minutes or until the steaks are tender & being to brown. Remove from heat & set aside.

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Boil water & place the potatoes, whole & unpeeled, in it.  Boil for about 20 minutes.  They should be tender on the outside but not all the way through.  They will cook further in the oven.  Drain & cool the potatoes – reserving the hot potato water.  Once cool enough to touch, you can either try to slip the skins of with your hands or just use a peeler.  Set aside.

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Cut the thick vein out of each kale leaf.  Bring the potato water to a boil again & blanch the kale for about 5 minutes.  Drain & immerse in cold water.  Squeeze the excess water out & set aside.

Roast your peppers over a high flame on your stove top.  Turn them frequently but let them completely blacken.  Place them in a Tupperware container of some sort of in a bowl & cover with plastic wrap.  Let them sweat for about 15 minutes & until they are cool enough to touch.  Under running water, the blackened skins should slip right off.  Remove the seeds & then slice the peppers very thin.  Set aside.

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I grilled my corn because I have a stove-top grill.  If you have no easy way to grill your corn (grilled in the husks for about 20 minutes) – blow that off & just use raw corn cut from the cob.

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Open the tomatoes & put in a bowl.  Crush them with your hands.  This is an oddly satisfying task.  Set aside.

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Heat 2-3 TBS of olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the thinly sliced onion & chopped garlic to the oil.  Saute until the onions begin to brown – maybe ten minutes.

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Add the dry & fresh oregano, ground cumin, smoked paprika, chipotle peppers & adobo & stir to blend.  Add the tomatoes you crushed, stir & heat until bubbly.  Reduce heat & simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add a handful of chopped cilantro, chopped scallions and season with S&P to taste.

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Grate your cheeses.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Slice the potatoes into 1/8 inch slices.

Grease your baking pan(s).

Create a thin layer of sauce at the bottom of your pan.  The rest of the layering is really up to you.  I think I layered potato then more sauce then some peppers, the all the cauliflower, all the corn & all the kale.  Then some cheese, more potatoes & peppers & sauce.   Then more cheese & I sprinkled some diced jalapeno on top.  With the leftovers from this process, a made a second, shallow tart in a greased spring form pan.

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Bake the lasagna at 375 for about 45 minutes or until the edges are bubbling & the cheese in browning.

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Allow to settle for two hours & either serve at room temperature (as this will vastly improve the lasagna’s resiliency during cutting) or reheat it at 375 for 20 minutes.

This can be made a day ahead, refrigerated overnight & reheated the next day, too.

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Here is how the round tart turned out:

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Quick & Easy Quinoa Pizza Dough (Gluten Free)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans front vromans back

Hey!  It’s my book!  Why not read it?  It is HILARIOUS – I promise!

Fair warning – this recipe is definitely a work in progress but, I feel, it was successful enough to post the early results.

As is often the case with me, recipes are born of what I had handy.  In this case – I had a ton of cooked quinoa.  I eat way too much pizza and finding a less guilty version of it is always my goal.  Why not make a pizza crust from this quinoa, I thought.  Why not, indeed.  I Googled recipes for it and they were all so complex, requiring 8 hour soaking of dry quinoa (that ship had sailed – as mine was cooked) or sorghum flour, tapioca flour or nutritional yeast.  I was frustrated by the ingredients or the process (or both) in each case so I decided just to wing it.

But first – what is quinoa, you ask?  Here is an explanation:

What is quinoa?
While quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley. Try a quinoa pilaf salad recipe, or serve a vegetable stir-fryover cooked quinoa instead of rice. Quinoa is my favorite whole grain for three reasons: First, it takes less time to cook than other whole grains – just 10 to 15 minutes. Second, quinoa tastes great on its own, unlike other grains such as millet. Add a bit of olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice and – yum! Finally, of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it’s perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain, is kosher for Passover, and is almost always organic.

Secondly – how the frig do you pronounce it?  Keen-wah.

OK – so, my finished dough had a set Jello consistency when raw – and it jiggled if you shook it.  It was also VERY sticky.  Most recipes described their dough as pourable – like pancake batter.  That seemed odd to me so I chose to thicken my dough with potato flour.  Having cooked one from this jello dough – I found the edges crisped but the center stayed sorta soft.  Perhaps the pourable dough lets go of its moisture better while cooking.  I will experiment & report back.   Either way – this was a fairly decent success & I would not dissuade you from attempting it.  One note – this definitely works as a pizza base but it is NOT bready.   This pizza dough is to traditional pizza dough what a Gardenburger is to a hamburger – a decent substitute.  Do not expect an old school New York slice from this dough.  That said – I found it quite delicious!

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Quick & Easy Quinoa Pizza Dough (Gluten Free)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups quinoa – already cooked in vegetable stock

1/4 tsp each (optional) of: oregano, parsley, thyme, basil, rosemary, garlic powder

1 tsp each of salt & pepper

2 TBS olive oil

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup (or less) potato flour

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DIRECTIONS

Blend all ingredients (except potato flour) in a food processor until very smooth – maybe 1-2 minutes.  Add the flour slowly using as much as you care to.  I used the whole 1/2 cup of potato flour.  I then rested the sticky dough on a sheet of wax paper greased with cooking spray & covered it with plastic wrap also greased with cooking spray.  I let it rest all day – but only because I made this midday & I was using it for dinner.  You could just proceed immediately.

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Be sure your oven is pre-heated to 450 degrees and that the oven has reached that temperature.  I greased a small pizza pan with cooking spray (greased parchment paper might help here, too) & spread 1/2 my dough on it with my palm – wetting my hand under running water after each pass.  Wet hands keep the dough from sticking to you.  I pressed it as thin as I could manage & baked it about 15 minutes.

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I then took a larger pizza pan, topped the smaller one and, wearing oven mitts, flipped the dough from the smaller pizza pan to the larger.  You could try just flipping the dough with spatulas, too.  I baked the second side 10-15 minutes – until it looked sorta golden.  I flipped it again & topped the pizza (in this case with: red pepper-tomato sauce and a grated cheese blend) and baked it until the cheese began to brown – maybe another 10-15 minutes.

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I removed it from the oven & topped this with chopped, fresh grape tomatoes & sliced fresh basil.  I ate it.  I enjoyed.

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CLOSED – Figueroa Produce – a Great Resource for Vegans-Raw Dairy Fans-Hormone Free Meat Eaters and Vegetarians

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http://figueroaproduce.com/

I’m writing today about something my pal Dave Wayne has long sung the praises of  (pardon that awkward grammar) – a great resource for vegetarians & vegans & even meat eaters who prefer hormone-free meats – Figueroa Produce.  It is located at

6312 N Figueroa St • Los Angeles, CA • 90042

just north of York – in a corner mall with one toe in Highland Park & the other in Eagle Rock – across the parking lot from a ubiquitous & DEPRESSING .99 cent store.  This is a counter-intuitive location for a supermarket of this kind.  The community is largely Hispanic & almost entirely low income.  Maybe the Eagle Rock – Highland Park corner is key?  Both Eagle Rock & Highland Park are trying to be the next Silverlake (think hipster) – with Eagle Rock having a substantial edge – but what’s up with hipsters?  Are they rich?  They actually CAN afford to buy the next size up (or three) in a skinny jean (which they desperately need) – but rather – opt to keep wearing the ones I can only assume they grew out of 150,000 calories ago because they like male muffin tops & that awful extra crotch area that is created when they are too fat to pull their pants up to the appropriate position?  At least hip hop kids who CHOOSE not to pull their pants up have UNDERWEAR ON beneath their defying-the-laws-of-physics-low-slung jeans – so we are spared any unwelcome information about their nether regions.  Hipsters actually cannot physically get their jeans up anywhere near the hip zone, strain their top button in a spot just below the pubic line creating a good four inches of crotch air in the upper-thigh area & another good four inches of ass-crackage revealed if they – God forbid – decide to squat.

Anyway – are these fuckers wealthy enough to regularly purchase vegan cheeses and pastured eggs & hormone & antibiotic-free meats?    Because somebody is keeping this place in business and I don’t think is is the Mexican & Guatemalan communities in there buying heirloom tomatoes, vegan egg yolk substitute, gluten-free flour & vegan chipotle sausage.

But I digress.  Figueroa Produce is a very friendly, community market selling high end products at FAR better prices than Whole Foods or my arch nemesis – Gelson’s.  They sell no alcohol or cigarettes but they have a whopping selection of specialty flours & grains (gluten-free and otherwise)

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Sorry these are blurry.  I always feel so suspicious-looking when I’m photographing inside grocery stores.  Not sure why.  And look at the refrigerated cheese section – with its nearly overwhelming selection of vegan dairy & meat items:

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Yeah!  You can’t see it well here but that is, in fact, NACHO TEESE!!!   And they carry both raw milk & cheese AND actual pastured eggs!

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Pastured eggs are eggs from chickens who live like they did on Green Acres – out on PASTURE – foot loose & fancy free.  There is no Federal definition of free range and if you think cage-free or free range means ANYTHING REMOTELY HUMANE is going on with the chickens – watch this VIDEO on Youtube.  It shows you a hundred free range chickens who – after doing their time as egg layers – got rescued by a sanctuary to live a happy life til their natural deaths.  Please look.  It isn’t gruesome – like slaughterhouse footage.  It just shows you how DEEEEEEPLY emotionally & physically scarred these poor birds are – and these are the “lucky” ones.  Factory farmed ones with no nod toward humane conditions create far worse results.  I can’t get these chickens out of my head – so – I was gratified to find there WERE humane alternatives.  They cost more – but so do jeans not made by children in sweatshops.  Where you spend your money creates the world we live in.  Who you give your money to is a large part of your own morality.  Six pastured eggs cost $5 – but the chickens are treated in a genuinely humane way – so there is no blood on your hands.  A more than fair trade – if you ask me.  And the more other egg (dairy, meat etc) producers see that there are people who will pay more for a kinder product – the more kind product gets produced.

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Stepping off the soap box – I continue.  There is a large MEAT section here –

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but I did not inquire as to the sources or kindness factors related to the contents.  I don’t eat meat – so I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.  There was a separate case with organic meats that said they were antibiotic-free – and there was seafood in there as well as – like – bison etc.

I saw a sign advertising HOMEMADE vegan sausage, however, and that intrigued me.  I inquired & was told that they were not currently available as the maker was tweaking the recipe.  A super friendly deli hipster offered me several samples of Daiya vegan cheese and some vegan sliced chicken & vegan sliced bacon.  They came in big square blocks, like cheese, and got sliced on the deli slicer like any other deli meat.  The faux chicken was good, the faux bacon was sorta chemically.  Then I was offered some jalapeno grilling cheese which had been pan fried & was served with a fresh basil leaf on top.  OMG!!!  I nearly bought every package they had in stock.  This shit is ridiculous!

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I bought a half pound of sliced Daiya cheddar for $4 and some shredded vegan mozzarella – to attempt a vegan pizza.  It looks grey & less than promising but – I’ll try anything once.  Kinda.

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Figueroa Produce also has – believe it or not – fresh PRODUCE!

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It seems pretty standard but the HUGE heirloom tomatoes were only $4 a pound.  I think Gelson’s charges you $4 just to look at their heirloom tomatoes – but maybe I’m exaggerating.  I’m not sure if everything they have there is organic or not but if I had to guess – I’d say probably.  They also had an interesting selection of bulk spices which I neglected to photograph.

They sell a brand or two of high end dog food & other staples.  I found these curious items there:

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Ew!  Sweet potato jello.  In a can.  Gross.  And zero-calorie jam!

They have $13 Salted Caramel ice cream – which I have had and it is awesome.  Basically – they have a tiny selection of the staples and a huge selection of the exotic (meaning vegan or gluten-free blah blah blah).  If you have special diet needs – Figueroa Produce just might be the place for you.   So break out your high school jeans & squeeze your fat thighs half way into them, don an ironic & hideous Christmas sweater & head on over to Figueroa Produce.  And BE SURE to ask someone to let you sample the Goddamn grilling cheese.  You are gonna shit yourself.  And not to worry – as you will have lots of room for it in your gapping crotched pants.

Gluten-Free Bhajji or Onion Pakoras or Indian-style Onion Rings

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

OK – I am going to post this recipe despite the fact that I am going to instruct YOU to do it differently than I did last night.  I will also instruct you not to try both a fried AND baked version at the same time of ANY item when it is 100 degrees outside & you don’t have any air conditioning.  The oven roasting away at 425 while you fry battered delicacies in boiling oil makes for one sweaty chef.  It was downright unpleasant…as were the unfortunate & soggy baked version of these.  So – I will only post the more successful fried version now.

The traditional recipe calls for besan flour (chick pea flour) but I had my dogs in the car waiting (like an arsehole) while I shopped for ingredients – and remember – it was 100 here yesterday.  They love rides in the car & in trying to give them a little excitement – I forgot how hot it was until I pulled up to the supermarket.  So – I had under 5 minutes to get the job done & besan wasn’t immediately discoverable.  Gluten-free flour was – so I grabbed that.  I stood in the check-out – twitching impatiently & craning to see my car (windows half open – moon roof open, too – so it wasn’t gonna KILL them- don’t worry) while the cashier sleepwalked through scanning the items of the customer ahead of me.  I was so fidgety as the cashier moved like cold molasses  – I am certain the guy in front of me either thought I was tweaking & scanning for my dealer or a wanna-be felon looking for cops before I pulled out a gun and held up the store.

Four years later, I got out of there for – I might interject – an outrageous sum.  That GD Gelson’s is like going to the vet: it costs $50 just to walk in the door.  Groceries are added to that so that you can never seem to get out of there for less than $65 – even if you just buy three bullshit little things like my $8 (I realized later) Gluten-free flour.

Anyway – in reality – I was gone probably less than 5 minutes.  The dogs were panting – but they were panting when they got IN the car & they no worse off than they were 6 hours later – after dark – near a fan and just laying in bed.

 

 

See?  It’s a short face thing.  But I was certain some well-intentioned stranger (unfamiliar with the regular strained-looking breathing of my French Bulldog & my pug) was gonna smash the windows in or call animal control.

In short – they didn’t.  And please – no lectures.  I know the dangers of heat & dogs  –  and TRUST that my dogs are routinely pampered & spoiled & kept safe due to my paranoid obsessiveness.

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NOTE:  I cut my onions in short, thick-ish slices.  THAT WAS WRONG!  You will have far greater success if you cut them into longer but VERY thin slices – so they tangle into little nests better & have more nooks & crannies to trap the batter.

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Gluten-Free Bhajji or Onion Pakoras or Indian-style Onion Rings

INGREDIENTS

Vegetable oil – enough to get about an inch of depth in your frying pan.  I used about 1/2 a regular size bottle.

2 medium onions – any variety

1 cup gluten-free flour (or gram flour which is also called besan or chick pea flour)

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 TBS turmeric

1 TBS ground cumin

1 TBS garam masala

1/2 tsp chili powder

salt & pepper to taste

1/3 cup water

fresh cilantro for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl & blend well.  Add the water & whisk into a batter.  You can make this batter thicker or thinner with the amount of water you use.  Thinner batter makes for a lighter final result.

Slice your onion up into thin slices maybe 3 inches long.  NOT LIKE YOU SEE PICTURED HERE.  These were too short & fat to nest together well.

Add the onions to the batter & stir until every onion is well-coated.  Heat your oil.  Add one slice of onion to the oil.  Once that has browned – remove it.  Make little nests (balls, patties – whatever) of the onion-batter mixture & CAREFULLY place into the hot oil.  Turn if you need to – so that they are nicely golden all over.  Remove from oil & drain on some bunched up paper towels.  Repeat until all your onion pakoras are cooked.

Put them in a serving dish & sprinkle with chopped, fresh cilantro and a little salt – if you desire.

These are good dipped in raita or a mint chutney – or all on their own.

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