• 22Feb

    Many of us have or suspect we have food sensitivites. Many of the symptoms we experience do not seem to be related to ingestion of a particular food. For instance, a rash or eczema, joint pain, headaches, foggy brain… And then the symptoms that we may associate with something we have eaten: nausea, intestinal distress. In my case, I suspect egg protein is causing a small patch of eczema. I’ll eliminate egg from my diet for a month or so and see if the patch clears.

    Wanting a little sweet – I decided to make a gluten free and egg free cookie and here is what I came up with (I made the almond version):

    Peanut Butter or Almond Cookies
    48 cookies

    1/2 cup butter, unsalted
    8 ounces peanut butter — or almond butter
    2/3 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup flax seed — ground
    2 tablespoons milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla — or almond extract if making almond cookies
    1 cup brown rice flour
    1/3 cup glutinous rice flour
    1/4 cup almond meal
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/3 cup sesame seeds — to roll; optional

    Cream butter and sugar. Add milk, extract and flax seed. Mix together rest of ingredients and add to butter mixture. Form into 1″ diameter balls. Roll in sesame seeds. Bake 375 for 8-10 minutes

    Per Cookie: 84 Calories; 5g Fat (56.8% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 6mg Cholesterol; 89mg Sodium.

    If you want to make these dairy free you can substitute the butter with coconut oil and the milk with water.


  • 24Feb

    so versatile the garbanzo aka chick pea aka cicci aka channa. It comes in so many forms and participates in so many cuisines.

    A new Indian restaurant opened up a few blocks away – Flavors of India. We’ve been there four times now and give it a double thumbs up! The service is great – warm and friendly. The food is so flavorful and delicately spiced, not overly greasy. The naan breads are soft with a nice chewiness to them. I am so happy!

    One of my favorite appetizers is the Pakora – chunks of vegetables coated in a spicy batter made from garbanzo flour, then deep fried. They serve this with a trio of mint chutney, fiery pickled ‘something’ and my all time favorite tamarind chutney. It is always difficult to decide between the Pakoras or the Samosas.

    As you may recall I love Socca’s which are also made of garbanzo flour. I’d been meaning to try out the Indian version of the garbanzo (gram or besan) flour pancake called Pudla or Chilla. So when I was trying to decide a menu for a dinner party last night I decided to make a variation of the Pudla. I had in mind the pakora and Korean vegetable pancakes (Buchim). I also wanted to serve these with a tamarind chutney. So basically a pudla with lots of veggies in the batter.

    Here is a pic of one of the pancakes frying:

    and a fuzzy one of the pancake flipped over:

    Here is the recipe for the Pudla along with a recipe for the Tamarind Chutney:

    * Exported from MasterCook *

    Indian Chickpea Pancake with Vegetables – Pudla or Chilla

    Recipe By :
    Serving Size : 6 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories :

    Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    2 cups garbanzo (aka gram or besan) flour
    1 3/4 cups water
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1 teaspoon cumin seed — toasted and ground
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    1/4 teaspoon ground chili pepper — more if you like it spicy
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    2 small zucchini — cut in halve lengthwise and thinly sliced
    1/2 small red pepper — cut into thin 1 1/2-2″ strips
    1/2 medium red onion — thinly julienned
    1 medium jalapeno pepper — finely diced
    3 tablespoons cilanto — chopped
    vegetable oil

    Mix first nine ingredients (up to the black pepper) in a 3 quart mixing bowl – whisk into a smooth batter. Batter should be the consistency of a thin pancake batter while a tad thicker than a crepe batter.

    Fold in remaining ingredients.

    Heat a 10″ cast iron pan – or other nonstick pan with 1-2 T of vegetable (I like grape seed) oil. Use about 4-5 fl. oz for each pancake. Fry each side until golden brown. Remove to a rack on a sheet pan while you cook the remaining pancakes. These can be made ahead and heated in a 350 oven for 10 minutes.

    Serve hot with tamarind and/or mint chutney.

    I know I wasn’t being very seasonal with my choice of veggies. I like the red onion and red pepper but any other vegetable would be great – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, carrots, mushrooms…

    Here is the chutney recipe which is based on a google recipe search along with a recipe from this site

    Tamarind Chutney

    Amount* Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
    ——– ———— ——————————–
    3/4 cup water
    2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate — Note this is the Indian type of concentrated tamarind – it’s very thick and dark like molasses.
    6 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
    2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
    1 teaspoon cumin seed — roasted and ground
    1 teaspoon ginger root — grated
    1/2 teaspoon ground chili pepper
    1/2 teaspoon black salt — Indian black salt which is actually pink – smells like sulfur (or rotten eggs!)
    1/2 teaspoon garam masala
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    *The quantities of the ingredients can be varied depending on how spicy or sweet or sour you like your chutney.

    Put all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and serve at room temperature. Can be stored in the refrigerator for a few months.


  • 24Dec

    I am at this moment enjoying one of my Christmas gifts… dear sweet P had asked me what I wanted for Christmas a few weeks ago. I thought for a moment and realized in my contentment that I really am not wanting for anything… at least not that I knew of…

    P is a thoughful one, always filing away tidbits of things I do and say, came up with the perfect gift (as usual).What did P present to me but my first taste of the very famous Blue Bottle Coffee.  

    The folks there are fanatical about coffee and it shows! I have never tasted a more complex brew from the ‘3 Africas’ blend in all my coffee drinking days. Honestly, I had a hard time believing all the hype… I mean it’s just coffee! People spoke of Blue Bottle as if they were cult members. I thought it was rather scary… come on, we know how addictive coffee is too! But today, December 24th, 2005, I and my taste buds have been humbly educated!  

  • 28Nov

    Well, it was a nice rest after being up for so many hours. Our room is ok but the place has a odd odor that I am not partial to. Everything is kind of dreary cuz of the weather (no sun) and I think everything is covered in a coat of gray dirt – probably soot Plus the city smells oddly smokey outside in the ‘fresh’ air.    China so far has been interesting. I think it’s easier on Vince since it is obvious that he probably doesn’t speak Chinese. Patty and I are always spoken to in mandarin and haven’t a clue! Folks seem a bit frustrated with us. Chongqing is a very big city with 7 million in the city proper and 31 million altogether if you count the immediate surrounding area. That is a lot of people! There are lots of very dense hoods – very tall apartment buildings very close and then open space interspersed with shopping areas. We’ll get the city tour on Tuesday with other site seeing activities planned for Wednesday and Thursday.    Today is the big day…Gotcha Day! 10am Patty and Vince meet with the group coordinator and the other families to fill out some paper work, go to the bank to pay the fees and then leave at 2p for a 2:30 appt at the government building to finally meet Ruby!   For lunch we dash across the street…no actually we go underground in to the pedestrian underpass to the Chinese fast food chain “CKC” – Country Kitchen Cooking. It’s all noodles, all spicy…well, they did have rice plates as well with some pretty delicious looking morsels on them…mmm, twice cooked pork… We decide to have noodles though. I have a bowl of noodles with pork and chilis. It was very tasty though a tad hot.   

    Finally we gather in the lobby to board the bus for the government office to finally meet Ruby. Patty and Vince are excited as are the other eight families in our group. After a 20 minute ride we arrive at a very nondescript building – pretty run down by our standards. The entrance had a few shops along one side, we excitedly walk toward the dark interior where two very small and ancient elevators will take the families up to meet their new daughters and sons.   

    Patty and Vince go up on the first ride while we wait for the next. Unbeknownst to us Patty and Vince got their first glimpse of Ruby crying while being held by the director of the social welfare institute where she has been spending the first 10 months of her life. By the time Mom and I get up to the fourth floor, Ruby is clenched to Patty. Wow, there she was – finally. All cheeks and a head of hair you’d never believe. Patty immediately took on the role of Mom and Vince – there he was beaming. Ruby took glances at both as if she knew these two people were her destined parents. What a journey all three have taken to finally come to meet today. They looked like they belonged to each other.

  • 14Aug

    I love sandwiches – virtually any depending on the mood. Sandwiches are fun…the combinations are endless and vary from incredibly simple to really fancy.
    I just bought a pannini grill – what fun to play with my new toy. So far I’ve grilled eggplant, portobello mushrooms, medallions of pork tenderloin and a number of grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum.
    Lately I’ve been dining on the basic grilled cheese but also meatloaf with a big slice of cheddar and good ol’ american yellow mustard. Yum Yum
    But yesterday I had the most incredible sandwich – one that will be toasted into my memory forever. Do you ever have those experiences? When you eat something so incredibly good that you recall years later – “oh, that quail dish was so good…” Ok, maybe it’s just me…
    Back to the sandwich, my sister in law Cathy and niece Sammie trekked over to the City yesterday to visit Anne Gingrass at Desiree Cafe in the Presidio. I  hadn’t seen the cafe since she expanded and had a hankering for her cooking.
    We perused the menu and Cathy decided on the grilled Ham and Cheese and I decided on the grilled Cheese with Swiss Chard and Potato. As we anxiously waited for our sandwiches we sipped on refreshing Ginger Mint tea while we played with Sammie. 

    Our sandwiches arrived golden and crispy on the outside and hot and yummy on the inside. One bite into my grilled Cheese with Swiss Chard and Potato sandwich and my taste buds did a big high five. To my chagrin, when my hands were full of sandwich Cathy switched the other half of my sandwich with her ham version. The ham was great too but that chard sandwich…between two pieces of sturdy white sandwich bread was a slice of melted white cheddar, a generous layer of sauteed swiss chard and tender discs of creamer potatoes. I enjoyed every bite of my Chard sandwich and will be craving it for weeks to come.
    Luckily the chard I planted a few weeks ago in the garden are starting to sprout…off I go to check on their progress.

  • 10Jul

    Wow, it’s been a busy week! I’ve got some blogging to catch up with…  I’ve still got Indian food on my mind. Recently, a new Indian restaurant opened in the Rockridge neighborhood – ok, almost…it’s in Elmwood. A nice 20 minute walk so it’s not too far…better to work off the naan with the walk home. Anyway, it’s about time! I’ve been wishing for an Indian restaurant for the 7 years we’ve lived here. Unfortunately it took over the space of our favorite Chinese restaurant but alas, the restaurant business is tough and there were so many other Chinese restaurants to choose from within a few blocks. So, the new Indian place is called Naan n’ Curry. We’d been to the original in the Tenderloin in San Francisco – this outlet is considerably more upscale! The food I remembered from the Tenderloin outlet was tasty and cheap…though I do recall battling a bit of indigestion…authentic Indian food is not light fare, that’s for sure! Of course it had nothing to do with being a complete pig.  So, you ask? How is the food at the Elmwood Naan n’ Curry? Very tasty and cheap! We’ve been twice now and each dish was great though a tad on the rich side but like I said authentic Indian food is rich – it’s the ghee (butter that has the solids and water separated out – so pure butter fat). The naan bread is the best – light and airy with a nice chewiness too it – great for dipping into the curries. We’ve tried the garlic naan which had the perfect amount of garlic and the potato naan – yum. Of the curries we’ve had, we like the Aloo Gobi (cauliflower & potato), the Lamb Vindaloo and the Chicken Tikka Masala. Next time we’ll try the saag paneer and maybe some thing with eggplant. Every dish is pretty spicy so we just get naan and some plain rice to dampen the heat. The Biryani’s, as I recall are pretty darn hot. There are specials too that are listed at the front. We did try a fish dish but I thought it was a bit too fishy. Also, try the complementary Chai tea – it’s self serve in tall silver airpots in the front. The service is fast (order at the counter and they bring you the food) and ambience casual with lots of room for the kid’s strollers. Give Naan n’ Curry a try if you like spicy no nonsense Indian food.  Rumor has it that another Indian restaurant is on the way to Rockridge – going into the space where the liquor store use to be. Khana Peena is currently in the permitting process. Other favorite Indian Restaurants nearby:  Chaat Café on University and Martin Luther King in Berkeley. This has great tasting small dishes and the food is less greasy than most places.  

    Udupi Palace across the street from Chaat Café. This is my new favorite – a vegetarian South Indian place specializing in Indian pancakes called Dosas. I love the steamed rice cakes with the coconut chutney. Try it – you won’t be disappointed!  Vik’s Chaat House on Addison and Fourth in South Berkeley. This is in a warehouse space – very casual and a great cross section of people dining there at lunch time. There is also a store next door so you can stock up on all things Indian. Umm, now I am getting hungry.