Tuesday, August 30, 2011


As always I am looking for a great new dish that is gluten free. I stumbled upon Arepas. Arepas are corn cakes made from pre-cooked corn flour, water, and salt and cooked on a griddle.It is funny if you google them. It is as if everyone is arguing over what Country they are from. Columbia, Venezuela, etc.. So whatever country you think they are from... here is what I think. You can top them with pretty much anything. That makes it more perfect. I am going to make half of them with Chicken and the other half vegetarian. To make these you need Masarepa, which living here in SoCal... you can find it at any market.

Masarepa is precooked, ground corn flour that is used to prepare arepas. Arepas were traditionally made by soaking the corn and then manually pounding the grains to remove the seed germ and the outer lining. The remaining part of the corn was then cooked and ground, and made into arepas. This labor intensive process is now done on an industrial level, so you can buy the dried precooked corn flour and make arepas quickly and easily. Masarepa should not be confused wtih masa harina which is for making tortillas and is ground corn that has been treated with lime.

2 cups masarepa
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups warm water
butter for grilling

1 TB Olive Oil
1/2 pound chicken
3 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 avocado, sliced
queso fresco or any nice melting cheese.

Rub your chicken down with all herbs and spices. Begin to brown your chicken in a large skillet over medium heat and Olive Oil. You want it to get nice and browned.
Add your garlic, onions and Cook for 5 minutes. Add Chicken stock and cover and cook on medium low for 2 hours. The chicken should pull apart really easily. I shred it.

In large bowl, combine masarepa, water, and salt and stir until combined. Allow to sit for five minutes. While you're allowing it to rest, heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat, melting enough butter to grill the cakes you're about to make. Now, form 8 small balls of the mixture, pressing each down until they make a 4-5 inch tortilla, about 1/2 an inch thick. Grill each until golden on each side.
Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Take your arepas, top with above meat mixture, queso fresco, and then top with the slices of avocado.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chicken Curry

Hubby is out of town in Oregon and a couple of my girlfriends are coming over for some food and fun. Sometimes the girls just need to get together and laugh. I am the one that loves to cook, so one of them suggested I make Chicken Curry. That is a great idea! It is naturally gluten free and very tastey. I am also making homemade naan and a salad. Here is the recipe I use to make Chicken Curry. Below it you will find a recipe for gharum masala. You can buy that at special markets, but I like to make my own. It keeps for 3 months and I can use it to make various indian dishes. I like it fresh.

1 whole chicken (3 lbs.)
2 med. yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2" piece of ginger, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. turmeric
3" stick cinnamon
2 c. chicken stock
2 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. gharum masala
1 c. coconut milk

Cut the chicken into pieces and brown in oil.

Remove and add chopped onion. Saute until tender.
Add garlic and ginger, make sure there is enough oil so that nothing sticks.

Add cumin and mustard seed. Fry until the mustard seeds begin to "pop".

Add the turmeric and curry powder and stir constantly to prevent any sticking.
Stir the "paste" until the curry powder becomes fragrant; this usually takes 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and stir until they form a sauce (3-4 minutes). Add the chicken broth, 

cinnamon stick and chicken. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked (approximately 45 minutes). add the coconut milk with the chicken broth. Stir in the gharaum masala (recipe below) and serve with white rice.

Recipe for gharaum masala:
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon, broken up
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon saffron (optional)
Put the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves in a dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the spices, stirring occasionally, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet smoky aroma, about 10 minutes. Do not raise the heat to quicken the process, or the spices will brown prematurely, leaving the insides undercooked. Cool completely.
Working in batches if necessary, transfer the mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the nutmeg and saffron. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

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Pickled Ginger

My husband loves Pickled Ginger. So does my friend. So since I am in the kitchen today and I have extra jars, I figured I should make up some pickled ginger for the 2 of them to have on hand. It is a simple process. Naturally gluten free. Here is how I do mine:

1 cup fresh young ginger root, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar

  1. Cut the ginger into chunks and place them into a bowl.
Sprinkle with sea salt, stir to coat and let stand for about 30 minutes. Transfer the ginger to a clean jar.

    In a saucepan, stir together the rice vinegar and sugar until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil, then pour the boiling liquid over the ginger root pieces in the jar.

    Allow the mixture to cool, then put the lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator for at least one week. You will see that the liquid will change to slightly pinkish in few minutes. Don't be alarmed because it's the reaction of rice vinegar that causes the change. Only quality rice vinegar can do that! Some commercial pickled ginger has red coloring added. Cut pieces of ginger into paper thin slices for serving.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sabzi Polo ba Mahi

This week our theme for our Friday Night dinner with friends is "Persian Food". I have to be honest, a lot of Persian food calls for Meat. Lamb, Beef, and Pork. I sorted through hundreds of recipes learning what about their food culture and finally decided on this meal Sabzi Polo ba Mahi - Which is rice with greens that is typically served with fish. I chose Tilapia because it is a tender white fish that really takes on whatever flavor you cook it with. I also served it with a cilantro chutney with a little spice added. So it is Persian food with a twist. Here is the process...
3 cups rice
fresh parsley
green onions
lemon juice
garlic powder
flour ( I use better batter gluten free flour)

Chop up the parsley, cilantro, green onions and dill, This is now Sabzi. Use a food processor to chop it up.
I put the rice in a rice cooker along with 6 cups water. Add the Sabzi. It usually takes 30 minutes in the rice cooker. Once finished it is called Sabzi Polo.

For the fish that is served with the Sabzi Polo, first heat some oil in a frying pan.
Pour some flour in a bowl or plate and add salt, pepper, and garlic to it then mix together.
Put two eggs in a different bowl and mix it as well, then dip your fish into the eggs then into the flour.
Tilapia cooks very quickly.  After the fish is done frying you add some lemon juice to it.
Serve over the Sabzi Polo for Sabzi Polo ba Mahi. I also served Cilantro Chutney as garnish on the plate.

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Persian Love Cake

For our Persian Friday Dinner I am making a Persian Love Cake for dessert. I adapted this recipe from Epicurious.com. It is called a Persian Love Cake because it has candied rose petals on it and flavors of Persia.

Candied rose petals
          2 large egg whites
          1/2 cup sugar
          Petals from 2 organic roses
    14 tablespoons baker's sugar or superfine sugar, divided 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt 3 large eggs, separated 6 tablespoons water 1/4 cup canola oil 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 1/4 teaspoon cardamom Frosting  2 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided Pinch of saffron threads 2/3 cup powdered sugar 1 teaspoon rose water   
    For candied rose petals: Whisk egg whites in small bowl until foamy. Using pastry brush, brush rose petals on both sides with egg whites; sprinkle on both sides with sugar. Dry on nonstick rack at least 6 hours or overnight.  
    For cake: Preheat oven to 325°F.        Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line pan bottoms with parchment paper; butter parchment.
    Sift flour, 7 tablespoons baker's sugar, baking powder, and salt into large bowl. Whisk yolks and next 4 ingredients in small bowl until smooth.
    Add yolk mixture to dry ingredients; whisk until smooth. Beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 7 tablespoons powdered sugar; beat until whites resemble thick marshmallow fluff.
     Fold whites into batter in 3 additions.  Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until cakes are golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks, peel off parchment, and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap and store at room temperature.)  
    For frosting: Combine 1/2 cup cream and saffron in small saucepan. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat; let steep 20 minutes.
     Chill until cold. Beat remaining 2 cups cream, powdered sugar, and rose water in large bowl until soft peaks form; strain in saffron cream. Beat until peaks form. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours. Garnish cake with rose petals


Mast-o-musir is an appetizer that literally means yogurt and shallots in Farsi, which is Persian Language. It is a common Persian appetizer, usually served with pita chips. Of course if you are gluten-free, you are not going to use pita chips. You can make gluten free pita bread by following my recipe here. And then you can make chips out of them by cutting into triangles, brushing with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 for 15-30 minutes. Great for dipping in the Mast-o-musir. Here is the process to make it:
1 small shallot
1 container of Lebni (16 oz) or Greek Yogurt
Finely mince the shallot
Place the lebni (greek yogurt) and minced shallots in a bowl.
Mix them thoroughly. Cover and place in the fridge for a few hours.
Serve with Lots of Veggies and fruits, regular potato chips if gluten free or pita chips for those of you lucky ones that don't have a flour allergy.
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