Monday, April 9, 2012


Free Kitchen has found a new home at! See you there!

All of these posts have transferred over, but they will remain here as well.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Orange Lemonade

Sometimes we forget how easy it can be to make certain food and drink. While watching Lemon Tree recently, I was reminded of how simple it is to make lemonade; all you need is the fresh juice of a lemon, a little sugar to taste, and cool water. Plus, with spring's new growth starting to peek out, I was in the mood for something that reminds me of warm, sunny days.

Here, I added the juice of a small orange for more complexity of flavor. If you want to make the flavor even more interesting, you can add a couple drops of orange blossom water to your glass.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup always reminds me of my elementary school days. Though that soup had wheat pasta, you can easily switch it out for rice pasta to make it gluten-free. I made this soup vegan as well. This time around, I included onion, fennel, garlic, carrot, Italian green beans, pink beans, zucchini, spinach, and rice pasta. I added a little tomato paste for color and flavor, as well as basil and fresh oregano.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Red Curry Soup

I made a basic Thai red curry (instructions often on containers of curry paste) with wild shrimp but thinned it out with some water, and then adjusted the flavor with some fish sauce, and extra galagangal, lemongrass, dry kaffir lime leaves, and Thai basil. The galangal, lime leaves, and basil were of the dried variety, because I unfortunately can't find fresh ones in these parts. I served it over rice noodles. That's it!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Tabbouleh: without any doubt, one of my favorite foods since I was a baby Diana. But, oh, the injustice that has been done to it! If you are someone who is not familiar with Arab food, go to Google and do an image search for tabbouleh. See those pictures that feature a ton of grain? That's not tabbouleh. Inexplicably, much of the tabbouleh made or marketed by non-Arabs has turned into something akin to pilaf. Once, in horror, I watched a television chef making "tabbouleh" by cooking grains in chicken stock and then adding a few tablespoons of parsley.

Real tabbouleh is a verdant, fresh parsley salad. Traditionally it contains bulgur (burghul in Arabic), a wheat product that you add uncooked to the salad. That means traditional tabbouleh contains gluten, making it unsafe to eat. The good news is that tabbouleh can be made gluten-free with no effort! A giant, family-sized salad bowl of traditional tabbouleh contains only a few tablespoons of burghul. So what happens to the texture and flavor of this salad when you leave the burghul out? Nothing! It's still as delicious as it always was! I see no reason to muddy this vibrant salad with quinoa or other gluten-free substitutes for the burghul.

Tabbouleh, being a salad, is easy to make, but does take a little bit of time. Get about two very large bunches of parsley for every 3 people you plan to serve. After washing the parsley very well, remove the leaves from the long stems. You can keep the smaller stems (the ones attached directly to the leaves) on if you like; I usually do. Traditionally, all the parsley is minced by hand. However, if you are short on time, energy, or knife skills, you can divide the parsley into batches and give them quick pulses in a food processor. (I was in a hurry this time around, so that's what I did here.) Be careful not to overdo it. You don't want to turn the parsley into soup. It should be noted that when you mince your parsley by hand, it's fluffier, which is preferable to the sort of pressed-down quality of the machine-chopped results. But either method is fine.

Then, finely chop (by hand, of course) some plum tomatoes (making the pieces about the size of a large bean), mince some onion, and mince a bunch of fresh mint. Dress with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, sea salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. I usually refrigerate the salad for about an hour, because it tastes best chilled and when all the ingredients have had time to marry. In fact, this is the only salad I know of that tastes better the next day!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Langoustines and Rice With Raisins

Nothing very fancy here. I bought frozen langoustines from Trader Joe's and sauteed them in olive oil with a little onion, lots of minced garlic, and some parsley, with sea salt to taste. I served it over rice cooked with raisins. (If you haven't eaten rice with raisins, you haven't lived.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Potato and Mushroom Soup

"Something with potatoes and mushrooms," was the request from my sister Grace. And so it was that I came up with this soup as I wandered the produce section.

I sauteed diced onions and fennel bulbs, and minced garlic, in olive oil. Then I added the chopped cremini, shiitake, and white mushrooms, which cooked down as well. I seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, nutmeg, and added boiling water. Then I threw in the diced potatoes, fresh tarragon leaves, and some lemon juice to brighten the earthy flavor of the potatoes and mushrooms. Those are chives on top.

(Thanks, Grace, for this placemat! Love it!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Massaman Curry

Mmmmm...massaman curry: beef, potatoes, and onions cooked in coconut milk and a curry paste that includes garlic, chilies, ginger, cardamom, cumin, coriander, and lemongrass, among other things, and garnished with peanuts. Serve it with rice to soak up the delicious sauce.

Though I love Thai cooking and experiment with it occasionally, yielding delicious results as seen here, I am no expert at this exquisite cuisine. However, Leela's She Simmers is a blog that has tons of Thai home cooking (and some non-Thai recipes). Even better, almost all her recipes are gluten-free! Here's the link to her massaman recipe so you too can enjoy it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Manaqeesh Za'tar

I always find it amusing when an ordinary Arab ingredient is exotic to Westerners. (And I'm sure I look silly to Southeast Asians for being intrigued by kaffir lime leaves and palm sugar.) It seems that the latest trend is the commonplace za'tar, which is the name for both a variety of species of  thyme and oregano, as well as the name of a mix made with these herbs, salt, sesame seeds, and sumac. On an average morning, it's eaten by dipping Arab pita into extra virgin olive oil and then into the za'tar mix, often accompanied by sliced tomatoes or cucumbers.

When you have more time to prepare or eat, you bake or buy manaqeesh (singular: manqousheh) za'tar, a sort of mini-pizza made with bread dough spread with an olive oil and za'tar blend. Of course, this has always been made with gluteny wheat dough. Until now. Behold, gluten-free manaqeesh:

I have yet to seriously experiment with gluten-free baking, so for now I've been relying on ready-made gluten free products when I occasionally want something bready. One day, I'll develop a gluten-free dough that is suitable for Arab breads and crusts, but for now we'll use Udi's pizza crusts, which worked very well, though they make a manqousheh that is thinner than the classic one.

The preparation is simple. Acquire some za'tar, which you'll find at your local Arab grocery. It may come with the sesame and sumac mixed in, or you may have to add them yourself (in which case, you should pick up some of those too). No Arab grocery in your area? You may find za'tar and sumac at your local gourmet shop, though they are likely to be wildly overpriced. You can play with the ratio of za'tar, salt, sesame seeds, and sumac until it's too your likely, but it should be herby and tangy. This za'tar blend is then mixed with enough extra virgin olive oil to form a loose paste. Spread the paste onto the crusts, and toast them for a few minutes in an oven that's been preheated to 450 degrees. You can eat them somewhat crunchy, but they taste better when they are softer. With these crusts, I found that using them right from the freezer yields a more pliable result. Keep an eye on your manaqeesh as they bake; they can quickly get too dry. Eat with sliced or diced tomatoes, which refreshingly counter the herbs.

Note: In it's classic form, this dish is vegan, and I am labeling it as such. Udi's crusts, however, have egg as an ingredient. If you can't eat eggs, use a crust that is free of them.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunchoke and Potato Soup

I remember seeing this soup on Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, Shauna and Danny Ahern's wonderful blog, and thinking I should make it right away. That was a year ago. Today, I finally made the soup. It was delicious! 

This is the first time I've eaten sunchoke, also known as Jerusalem artichoke. It looks like a cross between potato and ginger, and tastes a little like water chestnut. 

I rarely consult recipes when I cook. When I do, as in this case, I don't follow them precisely. I get the general idea and then I just do it, relying on my own skills, experience, and tastebuds, nary a measuring spoon in sight. In this case, I didn't want to deal with a blender, so I chopped the potatoes and peeled sunchoke extra small, and then gave them a rough mash in the pot once they cooked through. I also omitted the heavy cream, so that it would be dairy-free. Because of these two changes, you'll see that my version is less creamy looking, but I'm sure it's just as tasty.