Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yemista: Greek Stuffed Tomatoes & Peppers with Potatoes

Yemista means "to stuff" in Greek. Baked tomatoes and peppers, stuffed with rice and ground meat seems to be a ubiquitous meal at most Greek tavernas. Yemista makes the most of summer vegetables.  In Greece yemista is made from whatever is freshest at the market, from the farmers, or from their own gardens. The most common are tomatoes and peppers. Everyone’s favorite is usually the tomatoes. Yemista makes for a soul satisfying meals, yet light, wholesome, and allergy friendly. No eggs, no gluten, no milk or cheese. A simple dish that everyone can enjoy with no worries. This recipe can modified in what meat you choose and can left out for vegetarian.

Usually, the tops are saved to use as caps in the baking process. When I am done coring out the vegetables, they are not pretty enough to save. I have found that topping of the stuffed vegetables with oiled potatoes works best: keeping the filling moist and crisping up the potatoes. Traditional, the potatoes are peeled, but I prefer to keep the skins on for addition nutrition and interest. I was looking forward to making stuffed zucchini, too. However, every farmer said that this summer proved too dry to successfully grow any. I cannot emphasis how important it is to procure ground meat from your local butcher. They will grind any meat you choose, quickly. I find that meat from the butcher is more lean, tastier, and you can trust it. The only item (besides salt, pepper, sugar) used for this recipe that I had to buy from a traditional grocery store was the rice. I used a pearl rice, a Valencian type of medium grain rice from the Latino section. Even the Yukon gold potatoes I bought from a local farmer. Be aggressive with seasoning. Oregano and cinnamon are quintessential Greek. In particular, there is something about the synergy of cinnamon, meat, and tomato are a basis of many Greek dishes. Count on 3 stuffed tomatoes/peppers per person for the heartiest of eaters. Makes 6-8 servings.

  • 10-14 medium Tomatoes (if no peppers, use 16-18)
  • 4-6 small/med Peppers, sweet bell, of your choice (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 medium Onion, yellow, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs Ground Meat (Beef, Pork, Lamb, &/or Turkey/Chicken) I like beef + pork best.
  • 1 cup Rice, medium grain, uncooked
  • Handful Parsley, fresh, chopped (curly or Italian/flat)
  • To taste Salt (generous), Pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons Greek oregano (fresh or dry)
  • 4-6 medium Russet / Idaho Potatoes, largely diced (reds will burn)
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. Slice a piece from the top of each tomato and remove the, liquid, pulp, and seeds with a teaspoon. Blend, chop, or process the pulp and put into a large bowl, saving all the liquid. Arrange tomatoes in an oiled roasting pan and sprinkle ½ teaspoon sugar into each one. Slice the top off the pepper and use the teaspoon to remove the seeds and membrane. Place the peppers in the roasting pan.
  3. Brown the ground meat in a lightly sprayed large saute pan over medium heat. Frequently turn and break up with a spatula until all pink is gone. Transfer to the large bowl with the tomato liquids, straining out and disposing of any excess fat as needed. Using the same fry pan, saute the onion until translucent over medium heat. Add the cooked onions to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add rice, parsley, salt, pepper, oregano, and cinnamon to the large bowl with tomato liquids, sauteed meat, and onions. Taste and adjust for correct seasoning. I find that a little extra salt is needed since the vegetables absorb
  5. Fill the tomatoes and peppers, leaving room for the rice to swell and for the potatoes.
  6. Stuff any extra filling in the pan, around the bottoms of the vegetables.
  7. At this time, have the diced potatoes tossed with olive oil, salt, & pepper. Place in spaces in between the vegetables and put on top of the filled veggies.
  8. Tent with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Remove from oven once the potatoes are browned. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before digging in. Keeps well as leftovers. Reheats with even more flavor.

This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we are focusing on is the glorious tomato! Here are other delicious features on tomatoes:

Big Girls Small Kitchen: Seared Chicken with Cherry Tomato Pan Sauce
Haute Apple Pie: Heirloom Tomato & Three Cheese Tart
What's Gaby Cooking: Zebra Tomato and Burrata Crostini
Zaika Zabardast: Balsamic Roasted Tomato-Basil Ice
And Love It Too: Healthy Lunchbox - Garlic Tomato Basil Pesto Bruchetta
Chez Us: Roasted Tomato Sauce
Daily*Dishin: Refreshing and Rustic - Tuscan Bread Salad
Glory Foods: Fresh Tomato Salsa
Dishin and Dishes: Tomato Tart Tatin
The Purple Cook: Eggplant Parmesan Caprese Salad
I Am Mommy: Tomato Crudite
Cooking With My Kid: Gluten-Free White Bean Chive Cakes with Heirloom Tomatoes
FN Dish: Easy Tomato Appetizers
Add a Pinch: Simple Caprese Salad Skewers
Sweet Life Bake: Salsa Cruda
Virtually Homemade: Farfalle with Roasted Tomato Sauce, Bacon and Shaved Romano
Dixie Chik Cooks: Tomato, Basil and Olive Bruschetta
Mooshu Jenne: Sun Burst Tomato Pasta
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Book Club, Tomatoes and a Recipe for Chicken Provençal?
Cooking With Elise: Tomato Parmesan Biscuits
From My Corner of Saratoga: Cooking from the Garden - Bruschetta Pizza
Fritos and Foie Gras: Tomato Terrine
Creative Culinary: Fresh and Savory Tomato Pie
Big Apple Nosh: Caprese Salad/Tomato Carnage
Spices and Aroma: Quick and Easy Paneer Curry
Zaika Zabardast: Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Breakfast Rolls

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fresh Corn Fritters with Lime Chipotle Chive Yogurt (Gluten-Free)

Every Saturday morning in August my step-father, Fred, and I would look forward to getting corn from Mr. Schneider at the Farmer’s Market near Lunken Municipal Airport.  Mr. Schneider grew the best corn and Fred would only buy corn from him.  Usually we would eat it boiled, on the cob, with butter and salt.  Once in a while Fred would make corn fritters.  Those fritters were a treat, and frequently requested by his fussy foodie friends.  His fritters focused on the fresh flavor of the sweet corn.  I went many years since Fred passed away since I have tried to recreate his corn fritters.  And I never gave much thought to attempting making his fritters gluten-free since my Celiac/DH diagnosis. Until recently I change my approach to developing recipes that highlight the ingredients rather than a gluten-free version of it.

Fast forward to last year.  While working in Spain at Fundacio Alicia my roommate from Venezuela, Vivi, shared some traditional Venezuelan dishes at the house.  Our favorite were arepas, a thick pan-fried corn cake split and made into a sandwich.  Such a treat, it made all of our mouths drool.  Arepas were one of those amazing dishes that I found new and different at first yet somehow familiar and nostalgic.  I love that.  To make the arepas, make a slurry of harina P.A.N., water, and a pinch of salt and cook on a lightly oiled surface on low-medium heat until a thick crust has formed on both sides. "Harina" is Spanish for flour.  P.A.N. is a dream come true for cooking with corn since it is precooked, the texture is always tender and getting a nice crust is a snap.

So when I decided to recreate Fred’s corn fritters, I wanted to emphasize the corn flavor as much as possible.  It only made sense to me to use P.A.N. and cornstarch to punch up the corn flavor.  The cornstarch ensures that the batter does not become too runny.  Then add in other flavors to give complexity to corn such as lime, chipotle, yogurt, and chives.  The lime brightens the corn, especially using both the juice and zest.  Not to mention the nice color the lime zest gives.  Using milk or broth of your choice adds a creaminess or savory flavor per your preference.  A touch of sugar ensures the fritters stay moist and reinforces the sweetness of the corn.  The slight smoky heat from the chipotle, the fresh aromatic quality of the chives, and creaminess from the yogurt pulls it together as one very satisfying treat.  The only way to make this better is to add crumbled bacon on top.  Hindsight is 20/20.  Bacon makes everything better.  This treat is perfect for sharing as a light dish, appetizer, tapas, mezes, etc.  Makes about 8-10 fritters.  Enjoy!

Corn Fritters:
  • ½ cup harina P.A.N. (pre-cooked corn meal)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • juice of ½ lime, room temperature
  • ½ cup milk or chicken/vegetable broth, room temperature
  • kernels cut from 2 cleaned ears of corn (reserve a few for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, finely minced
  • zest from ½ lime
  • ½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable/canola/neutral oil

Lime Chipotle Chive Yogurt:
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • juice of ½ lime
  • zest from ½ lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped finely
  • 1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder (more or less to taste)
  • Salt to taste

Garnish (optional):
  • sautéed corn kernels
  • fresh chives, chopped finely
  • crisp bacon, crumbled

Corn Fritters:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the P.A.N. + cornstarch + sugar + salt + pepper until uniform.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the lime juice until light and frothy. Stir in the flour mixture and the milk in 1/3 portions alternating between the two. Stir well before each addition. Stir in the corn kernels, followed by the shallot, and zest. Lastly, add in the melted butter and stir in thoroughly.
  3. Heat a large fry pan or griddle over medium heat. Lightly oil the surface with oil. Too much oil will not give desired results. Pour or scoop out batter and carefully place in pan/griddle. Allow space between each fritter in order to cook well and for ease of flipping. Once the edges become set and slightly golden brown, flip and cook other side. Takes on average 3-5 minutes for each side to cook.
  4. Gently sauté the reserved kernels for garnish for a minute and set aside.

Lime Chipotle Chive Yogurt and Garnish:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the Greek yogurt + lime juice + lime zest + chives + chipotle + salt and mix well.
  2. Serve fritters on a platter, topped with a small dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of chives, corn, and bacon.
This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we're focusing on here is fresh corn! Here are other delicious features on corn:
Dishin and Dishes: Kicked Up Creamed Corn From Scratch 
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Fresh Corn Salsa with Basil and Mint 
Zaika Zabardast: Fresh Corn Risotto 
What's Gaby Cooking: Spicy Corn Salsa 
CIA Dropout: Truffle Roasted Corn Kohlrabi Soup 
Cooking Channel: Fresh Corn Muffins 
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Corn on the Cob Korma 
FN Dish: Southwest Corn Recipes 
Daily*Dishin: Sweet Corn and Couscous Main Dish Salad 
Pinch My Salt: Peter Reinhart's Fresh Cut Corn Bread with Bacon 
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Corn & Watermelon Salad 
Virtually Homemade: Summer Corn Salad 
Food2: Creamed Corn Cornbread 
Virtually Vegan Mama: Thai Corn Soup 
Sunshine and Smile: Scallops with Corn and Pepper Sauce 
Spices N Aroma: Corn Pilaf 
Dixie Chick Cooks: Fresh Corn with Basil Slaw and Feta 
Cooking With Books: Corn Favorites 
Purple Cook: Corn on the Cob with Cilantro

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cherry Almond Clafouti (Gluten-Free)

The clafouti (cla-foo-tee) or clafoutis is an old dessert from the Limoges region of France which can be traced back to the 19th century. I cannot tell you how long it has been since I have had intention to make a clafouti. Finally, I made it and it was delicious. Thanks to the Summer Fest started on the Food Network Blog, I was challenged to make something to showcase fresh cherries. Clafouti was the first thing to enter my mind. The clafouti is somewhere between a cake and a custard. Think of a bread pudding with fresh cherries in place of the bread. I thought it would be perfect with almond flour as a natural pairing with cherries. The French believe that leaving the pits in add a more intense cherry flavor. I prefer to pit mine beforehand, but a couple usually gets past me. Since this is such a rustic recipe, and not wanting to use the oven with the scorching heat, I wanted to bake this on the grill using a cast iron skillet. Of course, it can be baked in the oven, too. I just love how simple this is to make.

  • about 600 grams fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted
  • 4 large (200 grams) eggs, room temperature
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) milk, room temperature
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 80 grams (1/2 cup packed) blanched almond flour
  • 30 grams (1/4 cup) arrowroot starch or cornstarch
  • butter or non-stick spray for greasing pan
  • powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat grill to 350-375F or oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until mixed. While whisking, add in the milk, followed by the sugar, vanilla, salt, almond flour, and starch. Mix until uniform.

Grease a 10” cast iron skillet (or cake/casserole pan). Put the cherries in the bottom. Top with the batter. Place on grill and cover, allow to cook for about 20-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Alternatively, cook in oven uncovered for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve while still warm, slicing in pieces like a pie. Garnish with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we're focusing on here are cherries! Here are other delicious features on cherries:

What’s Gaby Cooking: Cherry Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Cherry Cornmeal Cake
Cooking With Elise: Roasted Cherries with Lavender and Almond Panna Cotta
Daydreamer Desserts: Cherry Crumble Cake
Ingredient Challenge Monday: Black Forest Ice Cream Done Two Ways
Spices and Aroma: Dilkush with Cherries
And Love It Too: Cherry-Pecan Chicken Salad
FN Dish: The Ultimate Cherry Pie
Daily*Dishin: Simple French Cherry Clafouti
Glory Foods: Collard Greens and Cherry Reduction
Chez Us: Gluten-Free Cherry Clafoutis
Food for 7 Stages of Life: South Indian Hot and Sour Soup
Virtually Homemade: Dark Chocolate Cherry Kuchen
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Cherry Conserves
Cooking Channel: Very Cherry Sangria
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
Zaika Zabardast: Balsamic Cherry and Peach Crisp
Mooshu Jenne: Rainier Cherry Panna Cotta
Food2: A Very Cherry Recipe Round-Up
Virtually Vegan Mamma: Fresh Cherry and Almond Scones
CIA Dropout: Italian Cherry Cake
Sweet Life Bake: Honey-Tequila Pickled Cherries
Cooking With Books: Cherry Cooler
Recipe Girl: Cherry Limeade Pound Cake

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

Chocolate Hostess Cupcakes (Gluten-Free Dupes)

When Kate of Gluten-Free Gobsmacked hosted this month’s Gluten-Free Ratio Rally, the challenge was cake. Yes! Who doesn’t love cake?! As a Celiac, cake is one of those baked items I miss on a regular basis. Since I usually have to make it from scratch, cake and cupcake end up being a special occasion baked item. Usually just for myself. Since this was the challenge, I felt obliged to put in more of a concerted effort. Something nostalgic, a real treat, a chance to reinvent a classic and take it up. My choice was the Hostess Chocolate CupCake. The most critical components are a deep, rich, spongy devil’s food cake topped with a classic chocolate ganache. The marshmallow based filling should be mixing with just enough vanilla icing to pipe into the cupcakes. For the decorating icing for the distinctive white squiggles on top, a simple royal icing is made.

Sponge cake ratio (sponge refers to the method/order of addition) in Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio is 1:1:1:1 / egg : sugar : flour : butter. This sponge is started by whipping the eggs followed by gently folding in the sugar, flour, and melted butter. The end result is more like a butter cake which is delicious. I was more set on mastering a devil’s food cake; therefore my recipe/ratio differs significantly. For the best devil’s food cake, I found it critical to use cocoa powder for the intense dark chocolate flavor and color. Make sure to only use Dutch processed cocoa powder. Why? Because it is treated to make it more pH neutral with a process called broma alkalization. Yes, it sounds nasty, but the result is a wonderful thing. “Natural” cocoa tends to be extremely harsh and bitter and does not go into water well. Whereas Dutch cocoa goes into water more readily (easier to bake with), has a very mild flavor, and a darker color. I will only use Dutch cocoa. Try it! My recipe ratio turned out to be 0.8:1:1:1 / egg : sugar : flour : butter. However, I had some outlayers that affected my ratio such as my processing where I gelatinize the flours with boiling water, using cocoa powder, and sour cream to add to the richness. This recipe is a winner, definitely worth the work. And so cute! My husband paid the best compliment saying that this was the best devil’s food cake he had ever had, including box cake mixes. Granted, I must give this recipe its props. These take Hostess CupCakes to a new level. This devil's food cake is super moist, spongy, chocolaty without being cloyingly sweet. The ganache is refined, not a sweet icing. Overall, this is a gourmet redo of the classic with a more sophisticated palette.

Devil’s Food Cake:
  • 250 grams (1 cup) boiling water
  • 115 grams (4 ounces) Dutch process cocoa
  • 115 grams (3/4 cup) brown rice flour
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) tapioca flour / starch
  • 45 grams (1/4 cup) teff flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 240 grams (1 cup) vegetable oil
  • 1 teapsoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nescafe (optional)
  • 250 grams (1 ¼ cup) brown sugar
  • 125 grams (4 ½ ounces) sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (to neutralize acid from brown sugar & sour cream)
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature, whipped until light yellow and fluffy, a few minutes 

  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered/confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups marshmallow fluff / creme

 Chocolate Ganache Icing: 
  • 150 grams heavy (whipping) cream
  • 150 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Royal Icing: 
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered/confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk, room temperature


Devil’s Food Cake:

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine the cocoa + flours + salt in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low until mixed. Add in the boiling water all at once into the mixer with the powders. Allow to mix until thoroughly mixed. Slowly add in the oil, the vanilla and Nescafe, followed by the brown sugar, then the sour cream, and the baking soda. The batter will probably separate and will look like a mess. No worries, the eggs will bring it together. Slowly add add in the whipped eggs. Once it comes together and looks uniform, scrape down sides, and mix for an additional 30 seconds. Portion into a lined muffin tin and bake for about 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely before filling.


In a medium bowl, mix together the butter + powdered sugar + vanilla until smooth and uniform. Gently stir in the marshmallow fluff and mix until homogeneous. Fill a piping bag with a small round tip. When cupcakes are cool, pick up the cupcake holding palm of hand, press tip into the center and squeeze ½ tablespoons of the filling into the center. Repeat for all cupcakes. Remove any excess filling from the tops using your finger or small spatula.

Chocolate Ganache Icing:

In a small sauce pan, heat the cream until simmering. Remove from heat. Add in the chocolate and stir until smooth and uniform; this may take some time. Spread ganache while still warm over the tops of the filled cupcakes. Allow to set/cool before decorating. I put in fridge for a couple of minutes.

Royal Icing:

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Fill a piping bag, allow setting in fridge for a couple of minutes, and pipe the squiggles down the middle. Use your creativity!

P.S. Note on below photo: It was ooey, gooey, moist, spongy, and all yuminess.  However, if I had been more patient in allowing the filling and ganache to set up, it would be more "set" looking..... Matter of semantics. These were so good, they would not have lasted that long. Makes 20 standard size cupcakes.

For a complete wrap-up of this month's #GFreeRally (on Twitter), go to our host for August, cake, Kate of Gluten-Free Gobsmacked. Want to know more about gluten free pasta ratios creations? Check out all the posts by the participants in the Gluten Free Ratio Rally!

Banana Rum Cupcakes with Rum Glaze (alcohol-free!) by Claire @ Gluten Freedom
Basic White Birthday Cake by Kate @ Gluten Free Gobsmacked
Boston Cream Pie by Britt @ GF in the City
Chocolate Pistachio Pound Cake by Amie @ The Healthy Apple
Coconut Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes by Gretchen @ Kumquat-Blog
Confetti Cake by MaryFran @ FrannyCakes
Czech Cherry Bublanina by Rachel @ The Crispy Cook
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes by Caroline @ The G-Spot
Frangelico Cupcakes with Nutella by Lisa @ Gluten Free Canteen
Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Cake by Caneel @ Mama Me Gluten Free
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins by Marla @ Family Fresh Cooking
Lemon Tea Cake by Kate @ KateAlice Cookbook
Mocha Buttercream Yellow Birthday Cake by Dr. Jean Layton @ GF Doctor Recipes
Nina’s Hot Milk Cake by Charissa @ Zest Bakery
Tiramisu Cake by TR Crumbley @ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies
Traditional Birthday Cake by Karen @ Cooking - Gluten Free!
Vanilla Cupcakes by Winnie @ Healthy Green Kitchen
White Cake with Apricots & Blueberries by Brooke @ B and the Boy
White Chocolate Cupcakes by Caleigh @ Gluten Freek(k)

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure