Tag Archives: Cooking

You Gotta Panna Cotta

I think I have expressed my affection for custards several times before on this blog. And as the custard-making foods like eggs and cow dairy go AWOL from my diet and join the Allergy-Bad-They-Want-to-Kill-Me camp, it’s really nice to find some custards that I can actually eat.

Panna cotta is truly dreamy. I don’t think my recipe is dreamy, but I think it’s as close as I’m likely to get for a while. My next attempts with panna cotta will probably be in the savory category and include chevre and bacon, something along these lines. I think the chevre would give it the richness and mouth feel I’m craving.

For now, this works pretty darn good. I’m sorry it’s not vegan. I worked on this for a while, so I kind of ran out of steam to go that extra mile. However, I’m sure now that it could be done by a determined vegan using arrowroot powder, nut or rice milk, and coconut milk. If you come up with something, do let me know. I can no longer experiment with this recipe because I’ve eaten twice my body weight in coconut milk this month.

Panna Cotta for the Cow-Allergic

1/2 c goat milk

all but 3/4 tsp of a gelatin packet

1 can of coconut milk

1/4 c agave syrup

pinch of salt

1 tsp coconut or vanilla extract (depending on your end flavor goal)

1/4 c sheep yogurt

Put the goat milk in a bowl and gently sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let that stand for about 10 minutes or so to soften the gelatin, like so:

Gelatin in Goat Milk

In a saucepan, heat one can of coconut milk with a pinch of salt over medium heat until it just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add 1/4 c agave syrup and 1 tsp of extract. Whisk in the goat milk-gelatin mixture.

When the mixture is warm-ish, add 1/4 c of sheep yogurt (I find it’s less tangy than goat, and here you want less tangy; otherwise, this just ends up tasting like stiff yogurt). Pour this mixture into ramekins and refrigerate overnight.

Important Note: You really need to let it sit if not overnight, then several hours or it won’t gel correctly. You don’t want it stiff. You want it to just hold together and be lovely.

To serve, either eat it straight from the ramekin, like so:

Panna Cotta in Ramekin

Or add some fruit on the side or a quince glaze, thusly:

Panna Cotta with Quince Glaze

Or, my favorite, add some chocolate sauce for a little Mounds bar theme. If you can eat almonds, sprinkle some of those around and call it Almond Joy Panna Cotta.

If you’re going to eat it out of the ramekins, dislodging it can be tricky. First, hold a warm cloth to the ramekin for a few seconds. Next, run a sharp knife around the edge. Then put a plate face down on top of the ramekin. You see where we’re going with this right? Now turn the whole thing upside down to plop the panna cotta onto the plate. Your goal is something like this:

Mounds Panna Cotta



Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, goat/sheep cheese, Recipes

How to Make Really Bad Marmalade

  1. Start with beautiful Seville oranges and a few lemons. Place them on your fabulous new bamboo countertop.
  2. Follow the recipe from one of your favorite cookbooks, Mary Anne Dragan’s Well Preserved.
  3. Cut the oranges into the tiniest darn slivers you can possibly manage. These? These are way too big. Don’t do it like this.
    Oranges Slivered for Marmalade
  4. Spend all of your Saturday night sweating over the stove happily jamming away. You’re making marmalade after all, and you know how much you love marmalade.
  5. In your excitement, give two jars of the stuff to your brother-in-law who happens to be visiting so that he can take them home to your sisters-in-law (note: he is not married to two women, but your sisters-in-law do live in the same town). Do this without first tasting the marmalade to make sure it’s good. Say to yourself: “Wow, these look awesome! They’re going to be fantastic. My sisters-in-law are going to be so very impressed!”Orange Marmalade in Jars
  6. Wake up the next day and make gluten-free scones. Pour (uh-oh, why is it pouring out of the jar–it didn’t gel?!) copious amounts of the liquid orange stuff onto your beautiful scones.
  7. Watch your husband’s face as he tries to hide his displeasure.
  8. Take a bite.
  9. Die a little inside as you realize your marmalade totally sucks–it’s bitter and soupy–and you actually gave away two jars of it to your poor, unsuspecting female relations.
  10. Learn these hard lessons about making marmalade:
    • Cut the orange slices thin, microscopically thin.
    • Don’t trust the recipe for cooking time nor your thermometer for Jelly temperature.
    • Use the thermometer and the plate test to test for gelling consistency before you put the marmalade in the cute little jars and process them.
    • Always, always, always taste things before you serve them to people, or god forbid, send them to your sisters-in-law. (You thought you had learned this lesson a long time ago, but alas, you are a bad student.)
  11. Console yourself with how pretty it looked on the scones.

Scones with Marmalade

      Leave a comment

      Filed under Cooking, food, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan

      Reader Recipes: Chocolate Pudding

      A while back, Allergy Mom sent me a recipe for chocolate pudding. It came at a great time as I had begun to wonder if I’d ever eat chocolate again. It had been on my list of suspects. I’m happy to report that for now, anyway, it doesn’t seem to bother me. Hallelujah choir sing!

      When I looked at the recipe, I said to myself, “Self, last time you made something with cocoa powder you thought it sucked. So let’s experiment, shall we?” We did.

      Here’s what my Self and I came up with. It’s Allergy Mom’s recipe on chocolate crack.

      (Vegan) Chocolate Pot de Creme

      2 C coconut milk (one can)

      1/4 C agave syrup

      5 T arrowroot powder

      1/2 C chocolate chips

      2 t vanilla

      Run the coconut milk through a fine sieve. This removes any stray coconut chunks–maybe mine was old, who knows. In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk and arrowroot powder. To prevent nasty arrowroot powder chunks, either put a small amount in with a small amount of coconut milk and stir out all the chunks as you would corn starch; or, when adding the arrowroot to the coconut milk mixture, sift it through a fine sieve while whisking the coconut milk. Does that make sense?

      Heat that up until it gets a little thick. Allergy Mom said to boil, but I’m not sure that was really necessary. You can have fun experimenting. Just get it hot. Then add the agave and vanilla and remove from the heat.

      While that’s heating up, melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler. When those are melted and smooth, add the mixture to your coconut milk mixture. Then, pour into ramekins and serve, or chill and serve. I think it was best chilled because it was more like pot de creme that way, which I never thought I’d have again. Also, to make it look a little nicer, you can top it with some kind of glaze (since, if you’re me, you can’t top it with whipped cream).

      Chocolate Pot de Creme

      Without a glaze or sauce, you can see these little pock marks. Doesn’t bother me, but you could dress it up a bit if you’re serving them to VIPs. Here’s a pic with a basic strawberry sauce, but my favorite was a quince glaze that I made from some quince jelly I made last fall. (FYI, quince has to appear in italics anytime it appears on this blog due to its very special place in my heart.)

      Chocolate Pot de Creme with Strawberry Sauce

      I really, really, really enjoyed this treat. I’m also happy that it’s vegan for my very special vegan friend, RCMB. Hope you like it, too!


      Filed under Cooking, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan, Recipes

      Football Food, Part 2

      Go Favre!

      Playing with the new oven today for our Championship meal. Woohoo! Can’t say I’m invested in either of the games this year, but I am loving the opportunity to play with my oven. Convection is fun! I had three pans in at the same time: one roasting an eggplant, another cookie sheet of mixed root vegetables, and a pan of flatbread. Roasting the eggplant took a mere thirty minutes (usually takes an hour).

      We went Middle Eastern this year; kind of a last-minute decision since I’m just not tolerating so many foods lately. I’ll write some other time about the food phobias that go with having food allergies and serious skin/health consequences. My hands are still healing from last week’s mysterious flare, so we kept today fairly simple and meat-free. Here’s the menu:

      Pimiento dip and baba ganoush with raw (cuke, green peppers, and carrots) and roasted vegetables (parsnips, carrots, celery root, red bell peppers), falafel, flatbread, and cana de oveja and goat camembert with Tulsi iced tea. Mmm!

      Sadly, both the falafel and flatbread were complete disasters. Such is cooking.

      I used two recipes I’ve never tried before: the falafel came from an old Mollie Katzen cookbook and the chickpea flatbread from the Millennium cookbook. I followed the falafel recipe to a T (not just a guide!), but couldn’t find an appropriately sized pan for the flatbread, which killed it. I should have known better. It turned out more like a chickpea custard/mush. So it goes.

      I had given up on the (vegan) Millennium cookbook a long time ago because there are just way too many recipes-within-recipes. You know, like to make this one dish, you have to make two other recipes, flip all over the book just to make a list of ingredients, etc. But I love the restaurant and have vegan friends, so I’ve kept it around. But in the last eight years I’ve used the cookbook just for the very good marinades.

      Happy I kept the book because now I’m rediscovering it since getting the dairy/eggs diagnosis. Whew.

      The nice thing about this meal was that it was gluten, starch, meat, cow dairy, and egg free, but still tasty.

      Sometimes I can’t believe I have to live like this. One thing I’ve learned dealing with it is that you can adapt to just about anything if you have to. I guess there’s some hope in that.

      Here’s today’s meal, followed by the falafel disasters:

      Championship Meal



      Filed under Cooking, Food allergies, Glorious Food, Gluten-free vegan

      Vegan Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

      Go ‘Niners!

      Okay, got that out of the way. As in totally out of the way since they didn’t do so hot this year. It’s a building year.

      My favorite football weekends are during the playoffs, specifically, the AFC/NFC Championship games. They’re usually so much better than the super-bowel.

      I spend a lot of time thinking about food, specifically, combinations of food, which I guess some people would call recipes. Typically, it goes something like this:

      “Hmmm. The AFC/NFC Championship games are this weekend. What should I make?”

      Then I spend many, many more hours thinking about the answer to that question. Last year for the super bowl (for some reason, I just can’t capitalize it) we did all manner of finger foods, including a watermelon jello that didn’t go so well. I remember writing all about this meal in my journal. Yet I honestly can’t remember who was in the game.

      Like you didn’t already know the depths of my OCD.

      So, anyway, this year I’m back on the topic. All I’ve come up with so far is popcorn with goat butter because it’s one of the few “treat” things I’m tolerating lately. Even that has been sketchy. If you haven’t yet tried popcorn with goat butter, get yourself ON IT NOW. Pop the kernels in olive oil, melt a little goat butter and pour over the popcorn, lightly salt. Taste sensation.

      Sometimes I think about meals that I can’t have. Or I think about meals that I would have with specific people. For example, if my dear old football-watching friend were still alive and I could eat the following foods, this is what I would make for us for the championship games: gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, my goat butter salted popcorn mixed with Crunch ‘n Munch, accompanied by North Beach pizza. This friend had a serious sweet tooth. But you could never just have those items as your meal. You had to have it with something healthy and filling. You know, like pizza.

      I have to think more on this topic before I develop any solid plans for Sunday. In the meantime, at long last, here is my gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe. Hope you like it.

      Vegan Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

      1 3/4 c flour*

      1/2 tsp baking soda

      1/4 tsp salt

      1/4 c brown sugar

      1/2 c sugar

      1/3 c canola oil (or margarine or melted dairy product of your choice–like goat butter)

      1 tbs flax meal

      1/4 c “milk” (think hazelnut, almond, hemp, soy, rice)

      1 tsp vanilla

      3/4 c chocolate chips

      Preheat oven to 375F. Sift together flour, soda, and salt. In a small bowl mix flax meal and milk. Add sugar and stir. Add oil and vanilla. Whisk until all ingredients are emulsified (about a minute).

      Mix wet ingredients into dry. Fold in the chips.

      Drop by tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving 1 1/2″ between cookies.

      Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove and cool 5 minutes.

      * A note about flours. Depending on what I have in the house, I use sorghum, garbanzo bean, or amaranth. I hesitate to specify here because it’s fun (for me) to experiment. If you don’t like experiments, I would start with just straight sorghum. I think the best combo is sorghum (1 c), bean (1/2 c), and tapioca (1/4 c).

      Leave a comment

      Filed under Cooking, Food allergies, Gluten-free vegan, Recipes

      How Dare My Body

      I’m not sure how my body can have the nerve to ask me to give up dairy. Get out the violins, but how dare it? Have I not given up ten years of my life to food allergy insanity? Have I not given up gluten, soy, and sulfites for the past three years? And for what? To now suffer joint pain, swollen, rashy hands, and an ongoing, albeit mild, rash all over my body? So that now I have to try giving up dairy for starters? No! No! No! It’s unfair. Un-fucking-fair. Because it wasn’t bad enough to have been struck down in my prime—when I had finally begun freelancing as a restaurant critic for one of the better weeklies in town, or that I was finally earning enough money to afford a steady diet of the city’s best bread, pate, cheese, and crème brulee. Forget that I had never been to France and now have no reason to go. What’s the point? Everyone knows you only go to France to eat. I can hear people speaking French on television or buy some Pimsleur CDs. And I just don’t want to be one of the Special People. One of the people you meet at parties that rattle off like a train schedule all the things they’re allergic to until you’re wondering if they’re making it up and living off tree bark and native snails. I recently overheard a list that went something like this: wheat, chocolate, eggs, corn, MSG, preservatives, caffeine, beef, sugar, alcohol, dairy, vinegars, citrus, fish, and most nuts. And don’t get her started on “cross-reactivity.” Hell, no, I won’t. In fact, she’d just had pine nuts that very morning and she’d had a migraine ever since. As she talked she had a maniacal gleam in her eye as if there were a part of her that enjoyed the shock value, the sacrifice, the glory. That is not what I want to be.

      I want to be M.F.K. Fisher or Julia Child, enjoying all of Mother Nature’s bounty, in moderation, with intelligent, well-mannered friends discussing art, beauty, love, and philosophy whilst in warm and tastefully decorated environs. Preferably overlooking a lake. In Europe. Instead, I’m on this path to the convent of Our Lady of Food Sacrifice and Virtue, where I’ll be digging snails and cultivating the tree bark. But it won’t be a choice I’ve made myself, like a real nun. It will be this body-imposed prison-of-being that shackles me like some poor motherfucker on a chain gang. Even as I write this my knuckles swell and little blisters bubble to the surface. And didn’t I already go through this once, no, several times? Aren’t we done with this yet? What will there be left for me to eat?

      And doesn’t the universe understand that I don’t want to lose weight? That I don’t want to take up less space in the world? And that you can’t maintain your weight on cabbage and Udo’s Oil Blend? I thought the Universe was all-knowing? What is my brain going to do without all this food? It’s going to shrivel up like bad fruit, neglected and left to rot. There won’t be anything feeding the damn thing. It’ll be like that pumpkin the neighbors left on their porch through November until it fell in on itself, its destroyed face and defeated, sad lump with one eye still peeking up at the sky like a melting wicked witch. Yes, that will be my brain. Not on drugs, and not on food.


      Filed under Candida, Cooking, Food allergies, Recipes, Restaurants, Uncategorized