Burn night glutton without gluten: Yeasted gluten-free pizza crust

In 2011, my last year at Burning Man, we camped with new friends that built a pizza oven on the playa. It was a hot hot year and despite the heat, I could not wait until I could play with the blow torch, fire up the oven and make pizza after pizza. A pizza goddess was born in from the ashes and dust that year and I was determined to continue to flame the fire in the default world. With a wood burning stove in the back and a pizza stone for indoor use, I took my pizza skills to the next level working on dough moisture and consistency. I came up with a wonderful whole grain but gluten-full crust. We decided that this year, on burn night, we would reignite that flame and host a burning oven for our friends who, like us, were not at the actual Burn. I decided it was time to play with flours, starches and binders again to come up with a  gluten-free crust as part of our array of offerings.  Here is a yeasted gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gum-free dough sweetened for a very tasty crust.

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Stir it up, little darling: Asian inspired soy-free mushroom veggie soup with spaghetti squash noodles and a poached egg

I love soups from the east – miso soup, ramen, pho and more. Chef Ilan Hall, who you may know as one of the first winners of Top Chef, or his Brooklyn restaurant The Gorbals where he films the show Knife Fight, is a chef who likes to challenge himself. Knife Fight often includes ingredients like pigs head or live catfish or lamb belly or shark. Not exactly veg friendly. But he recently opened Ramen Hood in one of my favorite food places in LA – Grand Central Market. Ramen Hood is no ordinary ramen place – the dishes are vegan. He makes mushroom broth that is meaty, creamy, spiced with togarashi, filled with ramen and topped with a faux soft boiled egg – yes a faux egg. I have yet try to try Ramen Hood but I have been craving it already. While on the Whole30 I have been unable to eat some of my favorite soups as they contain ramen, or rice noodles or soy – fermented or fresh. So I decided it was time to make my own mushroom based, asian-inspired soup, with bok choy and spaghetti squash for noodles. I haven’t figured out a faux-egg yet, so I topped with with a real poached egg. The result was earthy, flavorful and hit the spot.

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Nacho your typical nacho: Baked sweet potato chips with gooey vegan cashew cheez

I blame everyone else’s talk of football – I don’t pay attention to the sport nor does anyone in my household, but I can’t help but pay attention to what people are making for game day snacks (they are talking about food, how can I not pay attention?) As a result, I end up with cravings for food like nachos. But I try to avoid corn chips, tortilla or cheese in my diet, which pretty much eliminates the main components of nachos. Anyone who knows me knows that I refuse to be limited. Each limitation is an open door to creating something new – something, as my daughter says is “same same but different.” So I made baked sweet potato chips topped with a vegan gooey cashew based cheez, salsa, guacamole, purple cabbage, purple kale, tomato, avocado, cilantro, jalepeno and scallion.

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Saag it to me: Indian fusion breakfast with chard-spinach-almond veg, sweet potato hash, eggs and raw almond parmesan

I have had a fix on saag lately. It all came about while in France. I was asked to make a an Indian green side dish for Christmas dinner that would complement everyone else’s fish main course. Saag seemed to be the simplest dish for me to make last minute and that did not require me to purchase unusual spices that would require a specialty store – and Indian/Pakastani restaurants or stores for products are not common in France as they are in many states and cities in the US. In fact, to my surprise, much of what I saw listed or heard as being referred to as an Indian dish – such as a samosa – did not contain a single ingredient that is found in traditional Indian cuisine, but rather North African/Middle Eastern cuisine. So I knew I could make something simple and Indian inspired. And unlike traditional saag, I added a boost of protein and texture with almonds. It was so good – I put it on everything I ate. But the best application was brunch – in a dish of sweet potato hash, saag and an egg over easy with a raw almond parmesan.

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I’m bout to get jalapeno business: Baked almond crusted jalapeno poppers with a faux cashew and pine nut based cheez

So I don’t follow, pay attention to or watch football (well, I should say US football. I do follow what football is to the rest of the world, especially around the World Cup). But one thing that I have liked in the past are the snacks and food associated it the game – the unhealthy, carb loaded, cheesy, fatty and sometimes spicy treats. Of course I almost never eat them. But with everyone so focused on football and speaking about it non stop compounded with the cold rainy weather and my current Whole30 restrictions, suddenly it is what I am craving. So what do I do – get down to business and make it my way – dairy-free, gluten-free, nut based and baked.

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I pita the fool who doesn’t like hummus: Legume-free zucchini almond hummus

This is my last post of the year. I started this blog in January along with a Whole 30 like challenge to help me change up and shake up my life. And it has been a successful journey – I quit my old job, was offered a new job that is better for me in every way at this stage in my career, have upped my game in the kitchen and discovered my creative juices in vegetarian recipe creation. While I don’t eat in a Whole 30-like fashion year round, it forced me to experiment on myself with elimination diets, do a bit of research and listen to others in terms of their dietary needs. I don’t have a problem with legumes, but people I know do. If they can’t eat chickpeas, they don’t often get to enjoy hummus which is unfortunate because I find it to be the best dipping sauce, best condiment, and best veg protein substitute. So to give my legume-free friends an experience with hummus, I created a chickpea-free hummus with zucchini, almonds, cashews and tahini.

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Whoa tell me baby, do you like it like this: Mashed purple potato, beluga lentil and vegetable bake

It’s finally winter in southern California…if you can call a high in the low 60’s winter (The east coaster in me thinks it is summer year round here and can’t tell one year to the next). But it’s all relative and given that it is no longer 90 degrees F outside, I can wear my boots, sweaters and scarves and actually feel like eating the potatoes that make an appearance in my CSA box every so often. In a healthy way – layered with veggies and lentils, garnished with either goat cheese or smoked shiitake “bacon” for an extra boost of flavor.

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If I knew you were comin’ I’d’ve baked a cake, so I made a raw vegan strawberry brownie tart instead

It was 4 PM. My husband called to tell me that he was stuck in traffic and that new neighbors were coming over for dinner at 6 – he thought he planned enough food but was not sure. I unable to host people for dinner and not have enough food – it just goes against my nature. I opened the fridge and strawberries fell out everywhere thanks to our recent strawberry harvest. The first thing that came to mind was chocolate covered strawberries, but I was really craving brownies…so I decided to make a nut-based vegan chocolate brownie tart with strawberry lemon cashew creme – gluten, dairy and soy-free using dates for sweetness.

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Sketches of Spain: Vegetarian paella with cauliflower rice

I like cooking classes because they are a great way to connect with people who love food and to learn tips, tricks and techniques. I am lucky to have more than one cooking school within walking distance from my house. I took a class on vegetarian cuisine at the New School of Cooking which encourages a love of crafting food in novice and experienced cooks alike. We made several dishes, including a vegetarian paella – but all that rice made me feel heavy.  So of course I modified it to meet my current dietary needs (and taste buds) – crispy cauliflower “rice” with vegetables, seeds, and spices. As the cooking instructor said, “make the recipe yours.”

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I’m gonna get me some meatless Shepherd’s pie

Saint Patricks’s day was earlier this week.  To tell you the truth, I don’t know much about it other than it is an Irish tradition, you wear green and eat and drink a lot. So I put on a green skirt, cracked open a beer and made a classic Irish dish my way – a gluten-free, dairy-free, meatless, legume-free Shepherd’s pie with veggies, mashed cauliflower and shiitake bacon.

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