Archive | July 2012

Quick Curry

One of my favorite dishes is curry, it’s simple and easy.  My most favorite one is this one.  Coconut milk, curry powder and split peas are a match made in heaven…

Unfortunately my husband wants to steer away from coconut milk.  (sigh)  I came up with this one one night when I didn’t have much in the cupboard, and was looking for a simple meal.  The secret ingredients here are the cashews.  Don’t leave them out!  If you do, you might as well make the recipe with coconut milk or yogurt.  The cashews just add a nice smoothness to this recipe.  Did I mention it’s EASY?  真的?


1 carrot, diced

1 onion, diced

1 tomato, diced

1 c. raw cashews

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. mild curry powder


Chop everything up, throw it all in a sauce pan with some oil.  Let it cook off the liquid a bit, then add about 2 c. water.  Cover and simmer until everything’s soft, about 30 minutes.  Check to make sure the cashews and carrots are soft.  Turn off the heat and let it cool for 30 minutes, then puree in the blender.  Serve over rice with bananas, raisins, coconut flakes and cilantro. 好吃 🙂


Lemon Bars

It is lime season here.  Those nice round, juicy, seedless limes.  (Key limes?)  So of course that means lemon bars or lemon meringue pie.  To make either of these recipes gluten free, all you need to do is change the crust.  For my crust I use ground almonds.  I grind my own because I like them kind of chunky, but you can also find ground almonds sold at the Food Material Mall on ChangPing.

Lemon Bars


2 c. ground almonds

1/4 c. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1 TB honey

Mix well together.  Press into a 9×9 pan. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden.  Watch carefully, the top burns easily.  (Do not use coconut oil in place of the olive oil, it gets really weird when chilled)


1 1/2 c. sugar

4 eggs

3/4 c. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. baking powder.

Mix well together until yellow and frothy.  Pour over the warm crust.  Reduce oven temp to 300, bake for 30 minutes until set.  You don’t need cornstarch or flour in the topping.  It has 4 eggs!  It’ll set up nicely.  When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and refrigerate until you serve it… or until your husband finds it the refrige and eats it all 🙂



Vegetarian Tamales

I really miss Mexican-American food when I live in other countries.  For some reason I was thinking about tamales the other day, so I looked up how to make them online.  Unfortunately all the recipes called for masa harina (not sold here), flour, and beef or chicken.  Well, I like to try things out my own way.  Masa harina is ground white corn, and I thought it can’t be that different from cornmeal…except that cornmeal’s gritty.  I came up with the following recipe on my first try.  It was amazing!  The husband loved it.  The kids…not so much.  We make it anyway.

Vegetarian Tamales


1 c. yellow cornmeal (I found mine at Bakery Supply in the freezer)

1/3 c. oil

2 c. water

1 tsp. salt

Place in a sauce pan.  Cook on medium-high until all the liquid’s used up.  Cover and let sit until cool, about 30 minutes.  Proceed with your filling.


1 sweet potato, skinned and chopped small (I prefer the yellow variety, but orange yams work fine as well)

1 onion, chopped small

1 c. chopped mushrooms (I think I used button mushrooms here)

1 tomato, chopped small

1/2 can black olives, cut in half

4 garlic cloves, minced or sliced

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

1 TB oil

Toss it all in a frying pan.  Cook until the liquid’s used up.  Add 1 c. water, cover and simmer on low until the water is all gone, and the potatoes are soft.  About 20 minutes.  Set aside until you’re ready with the dough.

Dough Continued

By now your cornmeal should be firm and cool to the touch.  Crumble it up with your hands and add:

2 eggs (I make mine egg free = 2 tsp ground flax and 1/3 c. water)

3/4 c. buckwheat flour

1/2 c. cornstarch

1 tsp ground flax seed

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Mix this well by hand.  It will be quite sticky and the consistency of playdough.  Using parchment paper or banana leaves: take about 1/2 c. of the dough, roll it out to 1/4 inch thick on the parchment in a rectangular shape.  Place 1/3 c. of the filling in the center.  Pull up the top and the bottom, and pinch the dough together.  Roll the dough to the top.  Grab both sides of the roll and squeeze gently together.  Twist the ends.  Place in your steamer and steam for 20-30 minutes.  Serve with salsa and sour cream.  I ran out of parchment paper, so made a tamale pie in a ceramic bowl.  This recipe usually makes about 8 rolls.  Serves 4.



Keep those peas weevil free

When I was in college, my room-mate and I decided to invite her older sister over for some tea.  We picked a time, she was delighted to come.  We pulled out the tea and decided to make some scones.  The scones were all mixed up, the older sister would arrive in 30 minutes.  We pulled out the raisins for the scones… and there was something weird about them, they were all clumped up.  There were weevils in our raisins!  We picked them out, we washed them, but weevils are black and so are raisins.  For some reason (probably the lack of sugar in the scones) we felt compelled to put the raisins in.  What were scones without raisins?  The sister came.  We had a lovely tea, with weevils in the scones.好奇怪!

Here I often find weevils in my rice…beans…split peas.  (My raisins are always kept in the refrige) So how do you keep them out of your grains/beans?

1.  Always keep rice, beans or grains in the freezer


2.  When you buy grains/beans, immediately freeze them for 24 hours, remove and store on your shelf

Obviously I failed to do that to my split peas above.  Should you find yourself with split peas looking like this – grainy on the bottom, cocoon or spider web like strands inside – don’t throw out your grains, just pop them in the freezer, then sift them when you take them out.  Good as new.  And honestly eating a weevil or two won’t hurt you 🙂

Flax, my new best friend

I’ve been having so much fun experimenting with ground flax seed in my recipes the last few days.  It is amazing.  I replace the xanthan gum normally called for in a GF recipe with 1-2 tsp ground flax.  They have turned out wonderful.  No longer gummy, and the recipes cook up fine even if they are more liquidy than I would prefer.  I’ve made bread, chocolate cake, noodles and blueberry muffins.  Everyone is happy.  The blueberry muffins were perfect, and I didn’t bake them with eggs.  Just added 2 more tsp. of ground flax and about 1/3 of water to replace the 2 eggs called for.  I found both the blueberry muffins and noodle recipes on this website.  Seriously.  I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to try flax seeds.  And the best part?  Omega 3’s

Salad and Bread

We often have salad and bread, or soup and bread for dinner.  I was making this to take to a pot luck tonight, and snapped some pictures.  Lettuce is often quite wilted when I buy it here.  It generally doesn’t matter if that’s the case, unless it’s crushed and wilted. 真地?

Just soak it in some water for 20 minutes, and it will perk right up.

It’s a plant, it likes water.  Anyways… I don’t always buy sour cream, but I did for something

I am making tomorrow, and thought it would be divine in salad dressing.  This is a quite simple one really.  My mom always made this with yogurt, mayo and some parsley.  My parsley looks like this:Luckily, I had some frozen dill in the freezer and it was just the thing.  By the way, dill is sold in most markets with the rest of the leafy green items.  I buy it, wash it, chop it and freeze it .  Works great when you need a little extra something in a recipe.

Mock Ranch Dressing

1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 c. mayonnaise

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. pepper

1/4 – 1/2 tsp garlic granules

2-3 TB frozen/fresh dill

Mix together.  Taste, adjust seasonings, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle and the garlic to come out.  I added a bit of water to make mine more like a salad dressing instead of a veggie dip.

Serve with salad and bread:

As I’ve mentioned before, gluten-free goddess has a wonderful site with LOTS of great recipes.  Problem is… not all of them work for me, especially the bread.  I think it has to do with the humidity here – I need to add less water, and also my brown rice flour is puffed and then ground… I should experiment with less flour.  :/

This is a recipe that works.  I adapted a recipe I found in my bread machine manual.  While I’m not ready yet to replace the eggs, I did decide to be bold and skip the xanthan gum.  I replaced it with ground flax seed.  This bread turned out fine, with a nicer crumb than it had previously.  So a grand success with the flax, yeah!


(ingredients are listed in the order I put them into the bread maker.  Yours may be different.  Not using a bread maker?  See below…)

2 eggs placed in a 3/4 c. measure.  Fill water to the top

2 TB water

Mix flours together before adding them to the bread maker:

1c. buckwheat flour

3/4 c. brown rice flour

1/2 c. cornstarch

2 TB flax seeds, ground

2 TB milk powder (I used goat milk powder)

1 TB oil

1 tsp salt

3 TB honey

1 1/2 tsp yeast

This bakes up a bit small in my machine.  Adjust as needed for what might fit yours.  If you prefer to make this from scratch – mix drys, then wets.  Kneed to combine, but since this is gluten free flour, you don’t need to keep kneading the dough because there is no gluten to activate here 🙂  Let rise in your pan in a warm place 1-2 hours, bake at 350 25-30 minutes.

Buckwheat Crepes

As I’ve mentioned, my GF store bought options are very limited here.  When I finally perfected this recipe, I was stoked.  I make these about once a week, they are a staple around here.  We had them tonight as “tacos”.  They are also crepes with peanut butter, honey and banana; cheese quesadillas, pizza base, burritos, and enchiladas.

These crepes are a bit finicky, I often tear them flipping them over.  You could add another egg to the recipe, I’ve trying to use as few eggs as possible here.

Buckwheat Crepes

1 c. ground buckwheat flour

1/2 c. cornstarch

1/2 c. brown rice flour

pinch of salt

1 TB honey

2 eggs

2 1/2 c. water

Sift flours together, whisk in the rest of the ingredients.  The batter should be a little thick.  You want it to run around the pan when you tilt it.  Heat up your skillet (I use a cast iron pan) to med or med low, add about 1/2 tsp. oil.  Pour in the batter (about 1/3 c.), pick up the pan and tilt it until it spreads out in a nice disk.  Set it back on the heat, and spread out any areas that are too thick with your spatula.  Cook for a minute or two.  When the crepe is a uniform dull color and the sides are crispy, loosen edges and carefully flip over.  Like I’ve said this recipe tears easy, probably because it could use another egg.  Cook on the opposite side for a minute until brown.  Repeat and repeat until all the batter is used up.  I made about 9 8″ crepes tonight.

Fill as desired!

One more note – I’ve made these with all buckwheat flour, but they tended to crack when rolled and filled.  The rice flour and cornstarch make them more malleable.