As some of you know, Little Sis is here visiting us in Middle Tennessee. Yeah! You’d think there’d be a whole lot of cooking and blogging going on… Sorry! There HAVE been a whole lot of fun trips with kids and LOTS of talking going on instead. However, there has been some eating going on as well, and where there’s eating … there’s cooking (at least around here)! So with Little Sis’ clan set to arrive late afternoon on Bro-in-law’s birthday, I certainly had some cooking to do.
Now for the variety part of my title. My fave Bro-in-law is a wonderful and trained cook, especially when it comes to cakes and pastry. What to make for his birthday dessert? On top of that consideration, my husband is going gluten-free, Little Sis is leaning heavily towards vegan-ism, her male twin is a meat lover and my 11 year old and Little Sis’ daughter are both pretty picky. Plus, the only thing you can count on the picky twin to eat is bread. Yikes!
Something for everyone was the only solution.
We started with crackers and olive tapenade copped from An Unrefined Vegan. YUM! Descriptions / recipes below for the rest of the menu!
Asian noodle salad
Almond Joy macaroons
The night before I had roasted a chicken after about 2 weeks with no meat. That meant a carcass calling out for soup! So I boiled the carcass with leek tops and swiss chard stems that I had in the freezer. What a heavenly smell! Picked the meat off the bones, chilled the broth to ease removal of some of the fat and then I added some Better Than Boullion, celery, carrots, grape tomato halves, brown rice and finally baby spinach. I think the most time consuming part of making soup is picking the carcass and that speeds up with practice. The chicken was roasted with garlic and fresh rosemary sprigs in the cavity so those flavors were in the mix as well.
That satisfied the gluten-free contingent as well as Little Sis’ son who LOVES meat. “Chicken! Yeah!” He said.
For an alternative dish I made a rice noodle salad. Here is the recipe adapted from Mark Hyman’s Ultimate Metabolism cookbook.
Cashew Chicken Salad:
4 ounces dry rice noodles
1 Tbsp cashew butter (I used almond)
1 Tbsp. plain unseasoned rice vinegar (I used seasoned)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp lime zest
1 cup cooked diced chicken (I left this out – vegan contingent)
2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 sliced scallions
1 cup sliced carrots (I omitted these in favor of extra red pepper)
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper
1 fresh orange cut into chunks (I used canned mandarins… shame on me!)
Cook noodles according to package directions. When cool, cut into smaller pieces.
Mix veggies and then mix everything
Then taste and if you think it needs more flavor or moisture you can add more rice vinegar and some sesame oil. If you think it needs a little more zing add some Bragg’s or soy.
And then for a gluten free bread-like-substance, I decided to try Dosas. I am embarrassed to say that I found this recipe on-line and did not note the website when I copied it into my recipe folder. Apologies to the author! This recipe is simple and could easily be amended and varied. Plus I’ve had Bob’s Red Mill chickpea/fava bean flour in the pantry for a couple of months working up the gumption to try some gluten free baking.
1 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup rice flour
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (I used this and this amount of cumin powder and it was not overly strong)
1 cup shredded zucchini
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add water slowly and mix thoroughly. Then add shredded zucchini, mixing it in. Heat up skillet until it is quite hot, add a small amount of olive oil and then add the dosa mixture, spreading it out like a bit flat pancake. Flip it over when the first side is cooked. I found that if the dosas are thick they are a little heavy and gummy, so try and thin with water and with spreading in the pan to make a thinner dosa.
Dessert was coconut macaroons adapted from a recipe found on Snack Girl which I made less sweet. They were pretty and VERY tasty. Bordering on too sweet for me (can’t believe I just said that) so I really think the sugar could be cut a little more. Here is the original with my changes in parentheses.
Almond Joy Macaroons Recipe
1/3 cup unsweetened crushed pineapple, well drained (I used fresh, chopped small)
1 3/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup liquid or fresh egg whites (I used fresh)
1/4 cup all purpose flour (I meant to use rice flour but in a rushed moment used wheat – ooops!)
1/8 tsp salt (I used 1/4)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
nonstick pan spray (I did not use at all)
30 whole almonds
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Put first 6 ingredients into sauce pan on medium and cook, stirring constantly for 5 or 6 minutes until mixture resembles oatmeal. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To bake: Preheat to 350 with rack in center. I used parchment paper or you can use silicone mat or spray.
Scoop out Tbsp. size balls and arrange 1/2 inch apart. They will not spread. Press an almond into the top of each cookie. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Rotate tray halfway through. Cool completely, at least 1 hour.
Melt chocolate in double boiler or slowly and gently in microwave and drizzle over the tops.
Will keep up to 1 week in container at room temp. Dough can be made up to 2 weeks in advance. These were very good and soft enough to shove a candle down into for singing Happy Birthday. I had to quickly make a chocolate chia pudding because I absent-mindedly used whole wheat instead of my intended rice flour so my husband could have dessert as well. Whew! Then I was done and we ate.
Ahhh… lots of leftovers for our trip to the science center the next day, and everyone had at least one thing they wanted to eat… even the picky twin and the picky 11 year old. Gotta love it.