Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gluten free Pizza

So it is Wednesday again, and that means another recipe from Gluten free girl and the Chef's great book. This week we were asked to make her recipe for pizza.

We have really been missing pizza. There are lovely pizza restaurants all over our neighbourhood, and there is such a lovely convenience to ordering pizza once and a while, but with Seyfi's celiac, we haven't done that in a long time.

Now, as you know I am a newly made 'housewife', so I really don't need the convenience of ordering pizza, but I have not really gotten around to making pizza from scratch. At out local gluten free/health food store they sell a lovely pizza crust, so I have been using those when we are in desperate need of pizza. They are nice, but not exactly what I would like to be eating all the time. Really this 'assignment' couldn't have come at a better time!

I am going to start by saying that we are thick crust people, and this recipe isn't thick crust. However, we loved it. In fact there are a few reasons why we loved it, and I guess we could just roll it out thicker to make it a thicker crust. The rolling out was actually one of the reasons I loved it, too easy!! not at all sticky or 'shrinky'.

The dough is also nice and chewy, has a lovely base flavour that could easily be added to. I liked this because I could use a variety of different toppings, and they all went really well with the crust. I did a plain cheese and salami and cheese, salami and jalapeno peppers on a tomato sauce, and caramelized onion, spinach and pastirma on a white sauce. They were both really yummy.

The recipe did ask for a pizza stone, and I haven't got one, but I do think will be getting one. I found that the bottom did brown up nicely, and if that was what the pizza stone does, not a problem for now, but if it does something to make this delicious pizza any better I'd like to know what that is.

I'm really happy to have found this recipe, easy to make, yummy to eat, and Seyfi couldn't believe that I had made the whole thing myself (I don't know who he thought made it, but never mind.) Thank you Gluten free girl and the Chef for another great Wednesday Recipe!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What we did last weekend- Castles

I have always been a very big fan of history, and there is nothing that I love more than seeing history in action. Here in Belgium there are many castles to be visited and the two that we were at last weekend were wonderful.

The first castle was in the Namur area, in a small town of Celles-Veres. The castle is beautiful, set up on a small hill with its towers it looks like something from another time. Inside of the castle, they have opened the rooms with traditional furniture and settings. We had a lovely time at this castle.

The second castle that we went to was in Sainte-Anne. It was a completely different type of castle, not as tall, but definitely interesting. Also, with lovely furniture and settings inside. This castle had a mote surrounding it and lovely gardens inside the court.

These were the first European castles that I have ever been too, and I really enjoyed seeing them. I think what was even greater was that I am reading the new Phillipa Gregory book (The Red Queen) and it was nice to have a real life picture to go with the book.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dinner Party.... and Boeuf Bourguignon

I think one thing that I have really missed since we moved here is good friends. Friends that you can invite over to dinner, they already know what your cooking is like, you can give them anything, you sit around chatting, kids are playing and the evening just flies by, because you are having so much fun.

Last Saturday we had some work friends of Seyfi's over for dinner. It was our first real dinner party since we have been here, and let me tell you, I was a bit nervous. I had only met these people a few times, and they had never eaten anything that I had prepared. Also, it was my first time cooking for a large group of people in my minimal kitchen, and I had decided that I wasn't going to do an old standby...

Usually when I have people over, I do a lasagna, or a roasted chicken, or roast beef, something easy, that is always well received. But on Saturday, I shook things up a bit, and made a few changes to my standard menu.

To start, when everyone came in, a served homemade hummus with multi-coloured bell peppers. When I was growing up, we always has a veggies and dip tray when people came over. I have fond memories of my sister and I planting ourselves in front of the tray, and eating most of the veggies. I love this combination of hummus and peppers, it's just a nice twist on veggies and dip.

When it was time to eat dinner, I had made up little salads with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, olives and balsamic vinaigrette (that I had made) and had them sitting on the table for everyone to help themselves to. I made Pioneer Woman's tomato soup, which I may start calling my soup soon, because I make it so much! It went over so well I couldn't even believe it!

For the main course, we had Boeuf Bourguignon. Now, why did I choose to make this? There are actually a few reasons, 1. We are near France, this is a french recipe and I can get great wine here. 2. When my parents were here a few weeks ago, we made this dish, and it was so wonderfully delicious that we all ate two helpings, so I knew it would be great. 3. It sounds so fancy, looks delicious, and besides it have a bunch of steps, it is actually really easy to make.

Here is my recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon (Serves 8)

Olive oil
four slices of pastirma (a Turkish cured beef)

Saute the pastirma in a the olive oil until it is almost crispy and the oil has change colour (it'll be darker). Take it out of the oil and put it on a plate.

1 kilo cubed beef- dried and seasoned with salt and pepper

In the pastirma oil, in small batches, sear off all sides of the beef and remove to the pastirma plate.

5 or 6 carrots, cut into big chunks on the diagonal
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped

Put into the empty meat pot and cook over a medium heat for about ten minutes.
Add the seared beef and pastirma.

1/2 a bottle of red wine (I used a bordeaux, but a Burgundy would probably be better)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups beef broth
1 Tbsp thyme

Add all of these to the pot, and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, put it in the oven at 180C and let it cook for an hour.

12-15 fresh pearl onions, with skins removed

Add these to the pot

Let it cook in the oven for about twenty more minutes. Take it out of the oven and put it back on the stove at a medium heat.

250grs mushrooms, quartered
2 Tbsp butter

In a saute pan, brown the mushrooms in the butter. Add to the pot that has just come out of the oven, let it simmer for about ten minutes.

3 Tbsp butter, soft
3 Tbsp flour (I use the Schar gluten free flour C)

Mix these together in a separate bowl and add to the meat. Stir it in well and let it continue to simmer for about twenty minutes until thickened.

I serve my Boeuf Bourguignon with creamy mashed potatoes.

I gave out super big portions (which I don't recommend doing), but in this case it wasn't a problem as everyone ate their entire plate of food! Even the man who hadn't eaten cooked carrots in thirty years ate all of his carrots! Apparently when you cook food in red wine it makes everything taste yummy!

For dessert we had apple crisp, with apples and walnuts from our trees, served with vanilla ice cream and Turkish tea. I really wanted to use some of the fruit and nuts from our garden, and the crisp was the perfect way to do that.

The dinner party was a success, everyone left late with a smile and a full tummy. I think we all need to change things up from time to time. I'm really happy that I tried a new dish, I think it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Soup

I don't know if I have ever mentioned this before, but I have got the best in-laws. Very traditional people from Turkey, they have always been very accepting and interested in where I came from, and the many different aspects of me. Whenever I make something that is 'foriegn' to them, they are always open minded and give it a try. They always finish their plates, and usually Seyfi's dad asks for seconds.

I remember one of my first experiences cooking for them involved pumpkin soup, I had invited Seyfi's parents over for dinner, and made them pumpkin soup. They had never had pumpkin soup before, they loved it. I think that was when I knew I wanted to be married to this family. It was funny though when Seyfi's dad said 'Soup from pumpkins, who knew this would be good?'

Why had they never had pumpkin soup before? Pumpkins in Turkey are 99% of the time used to make a dessert, not pie, but a steamed pumpkin topped with a sugary syrup and walnuts. It is yummy, (but not my personal favourite.)

Since we moved to Belgium, and I have been able to find sweet potatoes, I have been making an 'orange' soup quite regularily- carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and home made chicken broth, it's been going quite well actually. But this weekend- gluten free girl put out a tweet suggesting that every on make the pumpkin soup recipe from her book.

I just got this book last week. It is a beautiful book about a couples love of food, and the recipes that bring them together. I wouldn't classify it as only a 'gluten free' cookbook, rather, I would just call it a 'great food' cookbook. I've been leafing through it, trying to decide what to make next.

So when the tweet came though, I thought 'why not' and made it yesterday. It turned out really great. There are a few difference between her recipe and mine- mostly she puts cream in her soup. I love the flavour that cream adds to a nice soup, and this made it really nice.

I really liked the soup, but I knew it was good when Seyfi (a man who thinks that soup is 'boring') asked me if he could take some soup in a thermos in his lunch today. It must be really good!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just a Spoonful of Sugar- Alara recommends

Alara doesn't watch a lot of television. She really just doesn't seem to want to sit in front of it for too long. However, the other day, she was feeling a bit under the weather, so since I was bored of Charlie and Lola, Elmo, and the Wiggles, I put on Mary Poppins.

She loves it. All the singing and dancing, she likes Bert and and the children. And to be honest, I'm really happy that she does.

When I was younger, I used to watch Mary Poppins all the time. I would sing all the songs, and dance all the dances. I used to wish I had a nanny too. I will say this though, I don't think that I understood half of the dialogue when I was a child, because now that I am watching it again, I listen and think 'is that what they are saying?'

The funny thing about the accents is that Alara is trying to talk like Bert's cockney accent. She tries to tell me that the way he says words is the right way!

Mary Poppins is a movie that I am sure most people of seen (although I have learned that that does not include the Turkish people I know). But has your child?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gluten free Cinnamon Rolls- with Toffee glaze

The other day when I was at the bakery, I saw that there were some raisin rolls for sale. The looked so similar to cinnamon rolls, that I could not resist trying one. Boy was I disappointed, the bread part was nice, but there was no cinnamon, and it was all eggy inside, not at all what I was expecting.

I think what was most disappointing was that I have really been dying for a cinnamon roll. We haven't eaten them in such a long time, even before Seyfi was diagnoised with Celiac. Since then, I had just decided that we wouldn't be eating them ever again.

When Seyfi and I first moved in together I use to make cinnamon rolls all the time, at least once a month. I made them for ourselves, I made them when we were having guest over for brunch- I made them a lot. Then I guess we got a bit bored of them, so they kind of fell out of the baking rotation, and then we thought they had to be out of our lives forever.

However, today, after all the success I have been having with the new gluten free flour that I found, I thought that I would give them a whirl. I took Pioneer Woman's recipe for cinnamon rolls.

As I started the recipe, everything went exactly as they were suppose to, the dough was actually really easy to work with, not too sticky and they baked up really nicely. When I went to do her Maple icing, there was a small problem. I had no maple and no powdered sugar. I looked in my Martha Stewart cupcake book again and found a recipe for a toffee glaze, which I used and it turned out wonderfully.

I am happy with the way these rolls came out. They do not have the same texture as normal cinnamon rolls, but I'm getting use to the idea that gluten free baking will never be the same as normal baking. Either way, they taste and look great!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What we did yesterday- Rail Bikes

We've been trying to save a bit of money these days. We thought that one of the best ways to do this was to not do any BIG trips at the weekend, and anywhere that we went, we would bring a picnic with us, so when we woke up yesterday morning, and it was the most beautiful sunny day that we had seen in a long time, we needed to choose our outing carefully.

As we looked through the tourist book that we have, we found something that looked like great fun- Rail bikes. The are bike cars that sit on old railway tracks that go through the Namur valley in southern Belgium, only an hour from our house. The best part was that the whole day rental was only going to cost 25 euros for all of us. We were off with out picnic in our hands.

The rail bikes were a lot of fun, easy to use and the scenery was beautiful. We saw trees and rivers, castles, ruins and an abbey. It was an wonderful way to spend an afternoon together. Alara loved passing people who were on their bikes or walking and saying 'choo choo!'

I will give a warning though- if you are not a biker (which we are not), it is a bit of a long trip, and getting use to a bikes seat can be slightly uncomfortable. Not to over share, but out bums are a bit sore... but it was worth it!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gluten free Chocolate Cupcakes

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes have visited our house again! I'm continuing down the cupcake road, and have made a stop at chocolate.

Today we are having our first real guest over. They are coming over for tea after dinner. I always have trouble deciding what I should make for Turkish guests. I never know if I should do something 'typical' Turkish, or just make whatever I want...

As I thought more about it, I figured that since I would be making something gluten free any way, which will make whatever I make taste at least slightly different, I might as well make something completely not Turkish- therefore I am serving devil's food chocolate cupcakes with a chocolate ganache icing, apple sauce cupcakes with caramel butter cream icing and tomato bruchetta.

The chocolate cupcakes are great! I truly don't know how these cupcakes keep turning out so great, I think it is because of this Schar flour that I am using, it is amazing! I just used Martha's recipe, and exactly changed the flours out, and sprinkled in a bit of guar gum.

I gave some 'practice' cupcakes to some friends today, and didn't tell them they were gluten free- and the could tell the difference!

I will give one critique- I am not happy with the ganache- it didn't set up they way that it should have, I think it is because of the chocolate that I used, but it may have been the cream. It taste great, but doesn't have the right texture. That's what happens though when you are cooking in a new country, sometimes you just don't find that right ingredients the first time.

I'm looking forward to our guest tonight, it will be nice to meet some new people, plus it was a great motivation to give the house a clean!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


A year ago, when I thought about these three years that I wouldn't be working, I don't think that I expected them to be like this. I thought my days would be empty, that I would be bored without having any 'work' to do. What would I do without my daily routine? I used to think how will I fill the TIME?

Boy was I wrong. I have filled the time...

There is always something for me to do, getting the groceries, running Alara up to the library to our reading group, cleaning the house, running to the health food store to get Seyfi some bread, or making dinner, lunch, desserts, breakfast, in general food to be eaten at home. I'm a busy woman.

I often wonder why that is, and I think the reason that I am so busy now is because I feel like I don't have an excuse not to be. When I was working there was always a reason not to do something. I NEED to have a lady clean the house, I don't have time! We NEED to order dinner, I don't have time! We can't go to the library/park/zoo, I don't have time!

The thing is I love the way my days are filled. I don't sit around all day watching television, I fill my days with lots of other activities, and you know what the best part of that is, I do all of these things with my favourite little girl.

She has become quite the little helper, wants to help cook, likes to pick up, folds the laundry with me, and my new favourite, she likes to help me take out the garbage on Wednesday evenings she likes to help me take out the garbage.

My parents say to let her help me do everything, because in ten years, she isn't going to want to do anything. I remember when I was 12, and they are right.

Having this little helper has made me slow down. We do things slowly now, so that she can learn, so that she can understand, so that she can do them right. There is no need to rush through ever little job, we don't need to run anywhere (unless she is wearing her sneakers...) there is no need to race, time is not important to us anymore, life is the journey. Alara has taught me to slow down and enjoy these days.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Buckwheat galettes, stuffed with vegetarian chilli and quinoa

I've had a small bag of organic buckwheat sitting in my cupboard for the past month. I picked it up during our second trip to Paris. It's just been sitting waiting for me to make something, anything with it.

Today I did just that. I made buckwheat crepes, or galettes with it. And boy were they ever good. Galettes are a French crepe that is made from buckwheat flour, which is gluten free (I had to wikipedia it to make sure), they are usually made in the Brittany region of France, but after reading a bit more, I found that they are also made in my little part of Belgium. I immediately took up the challenge.

The crepes were not difficult to make, but they sure were time consuming. Between letting the dough rest for at least two hours, and then making them one by one, they were not something that could just be whipped up on a whim. I was however very proud that I only ended up throwing away three of the twenty two crepes I made.

I didn't want to make dessert crepes, I wanted to eat them at dinner. When I lived in Uruguay we use to eat these wonderful crepes stuffed with meat, or spinach or mushrooms and bechamel, they were so delicious.

But I didn't have any meat, spinach or mushrooms at home, so I made a vegetarian chili, using chickpeas and kidney beans, grated carrots and zucchini, peppers and onions. It was really nice, but I needed to 'bulk' it up a bit more, so I threw in some quinoa, it gave the chili the nicest texture.

When everything was ready, and Seyfi (finally) got home, I rolled some of the chili up, added a bit of emmental cheese and served them with some plain yogurt. Seyfi was really happy with them, and Alara ate all of the chickpeas and kidney beans first, and then scooped up the vegetables and quinoa saying 'Alara quinoa like!'

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gluten free Cupcakes

I decided that I needed a bit of a goal when it comes to my new career as a domestic engineer, and since I have started on this new gluten free course, I thought I might as well choose a direction that directed me in this direction. After I bought my new ice cream maker, I thought ice cream would be good. I promptly went to the library to find a book about the ins and outs of ice cream making.

Unfortunately, there was no such book available at the library. However, I did find the Martha Stewart Cupcakes recipe book. I signed it out, and processed to leave it on the kitchen table for a week and a half.

Now, while it sat there, I was touring around with my parents, so I do have an excuse, and I did buy some pretty muffin papers, but to be honest, in the back of my head, I was thinking 'aren't cupcakes sooo five years ago??'

Then I watched Top Chef: Just Desserts, and one of the chefs (Morgan, who I'm not sure I'm a fan of yet) made these beautiful white cupcakes, and Alara started saying that she wanted to make cupcakes too...

So this afternoon, while Seyfi was a work (on a Sunday if you can believe it!) Alara and I picked out a cupcake from the book, but we didn't have any dutch process cocoa (any suggestions for substitutions?), finally we found one that we wanted, so Alara climbed onto the counter, and we got to work making Martha Stewart's Yellow Buttermilk cupcakes, gluten free...

It didn't go exactly to plan, we didn't have everything that we need to any sort of frosting, and since it is Sunday, and we live in Belgium, popping over to the store was not an option. So, we decided to put some chocolate pieces into the top (since we live in Belgium there is always chocolate in the house!)

We also didn't have any buttermilk, so we used plain yogurt, and we substituted the flour for the the gluten free cake flour that I have, and added some guar gum, the result? Perfection.

The cupcakes were so delicious, Seyfi has already eaten two today.

I'm really happy with this flour that I am using, I'm going to mention it, I'm not getting paid for this or anything, but it is great, and I love all there products- It is from a company called Schar- and they sell gluten free things all over Europe, and some of their products are available in North America as well. Just wanted to mention them because I am so happy with my baking when I use them.

Anyway, the cupcakes are awesome, and I am going to move on to another recipe in the book! Thanks Martha and Schar!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Paris.... with the parents

My parents of made it home safely, but I wanted to do a quick post about the two days we spent together in Paris.

I can honestly say that we had a really nice time, and actually saw a lot of the city. We walked from Pont Neuf, to the Eiffel tower, through St Germain and saw all kinds of fancy shops and people.

But the fanciest shops and people that we saw were in Madeline. We saw, Chanel and Gucci and Fauchon (a fancy food store) and the highlight was buying mustard in Maille. So yummy.

It was really nice to see Paris with my parents, and I am really happy that we had such a nice visit together. Can't wait for them to come again!