Quinoa Pizza Bites
Guest blog by the Mother of All Mavens (aka Carolyn Drebin)
I recently had the pleasure of participating in a Delicious Dish cooking class with occupational-therapist-turned-self-taught-chef Carolyn Cohen. I’d heard about her classes for years. The menus were hoarded secrets. Sharing recipes was considered to be horribly bad form. Verboten? Forbidden fruit? I wanted in! After managing to coax a few tidbits from some willing rule-benders, I tried a couple of recipes.
They were, indeed, delicious dishes.
It wasn’t long before I was on Carolyn’s email list. Schedules were listed, but menus were not. And while I debated whether to sign up, the classes would fill up and sell out within hours of being posted. Who was this Carolyn Cohen? And, more importantly, what was she dishing out? Finally, a friend asked if I wanted to join a private group she was organizing and I jumped at the chance.
The class was designed to be healthy, family friendly, good for entertaining and “gluten-free optional”—meaning, the recipes could be made either with or without gluten. I am not so healthy, though I try to start off the week that way. My family rarely eats the masterpieces I cook. And I am nothing if not a glutton for gluten. I was in.
A week before the event, the original organizer had to drop out, along with half of the class. After a mad scramble to collect a minimum of 10 bodies—10 $95 pre-paid bodies—we ended up with 13 rarin’ to go.
Carolyn called me to plan the menu. At her suggestion, we swapped some of the original planned mains and agreed to go completely gluten free because we had a celiac among us, as well as the founder of the Gluten Free Garage. Carolyn was used to all kinds of special dietary requests, so going GF didn’t faze her in the slightest.
The night of our class, we descended upon Carolyn’s kitchen, where she commandeered 13 of the chattiest ladies in town. Pouring glasses of red, to go with the Quinoa Pizza Bites she provided as a starter, Carolyn got right down to business. She was a mountain of information both healthy and practical. Onion goggles to stop the waterworks. Kevlar gloves to prevent slicing off fingers. A list of suppliers and shops—and salts. Kitchen scales. Dough scoopers. Slicers. Pine nuts. Olive oil. She had it all covered, right down to the gluten-free breadcrumbs! We all laughed, learned and ate. A lot.
No more tears: Delicious Dish’s Carolyn Cohen dons her onion goggles.
This is Lily, BC (before celiac), chillin’ with my Bubby Fran.
Bubby had a way with babies. After five kids and 10 grandkids, she was a real natural.
When it came to her role as great grandmother, Fran never phoned it in. She approached baking in the same way. You could taste the love in her cakes.
This is Bub’s famous banana chocolate chip cake—gluten-free style!
You might be thinking, “gluten-free banana cake, a dime a dozen.” Google it, and 9,990,000 recipes pop up on your screen.
Not this banana cake, oh no. I’ve perfected a gluten-free version of my Bubby Fran’s famous banana chocolate chip cake. It’s super moist (even on day two!) and full of flavour, with the same taste and texture as my Bub’s cake. Fresh out of the oven, you would NEVER know it’s gluten free (be careful not to devour the entire thing). Not only have my dad, aunts and uncle come back for seconds, they’ve also given me permission to share this beloved, slightly tweaked family recipe with you.
For the gluten-free makeover, I follow Fran’s recipe to a T, substituting either Cup 4 Cup Gluten-Free Flour or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, depending on what’s in the cupboard. (If it’s the Bob’s Red Mill, I use xantham gum as well). It might also work with other gluten-free flour blends but I’ve only tried it with these so far. The other key difference is I don’t bake it for as long as the original recipe called for.
It may not be the healthiest banana cake recipe around, and I’m not claiming it is. There are plenty of those out there—go ahead, just google it. But this is my Bubby’s banana chocolate chip cake, gluten-free style. And Lily gets to enjoy it, the same banana cake that I grew up on. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Note: You can attempt to make this cake healthier by using low-fat sour cream instead of full fat, or coconut sugar instead of regular white sugar, but Fran would frown on this. And, trust me, your cake won’t taste as delicious. Besides, can’t a girl have her gluten-free cake and eat it too? more…
Tomato Burrata Salad = cherry tomatoes, burrata cheese, fresh basil ribbons, black pepper, sea salt, glug of extra-virgin olive oil
Avocado Goat Cheese Toast = gluten-free toast (I’m a huge fan of Organic Works quinoa and honey bread), avocado, honey goat cheese, hemp seeds, black pepper, squeeze of fresh lime juice
Cornucopia = fresh corn niblets + feta cheese + paprika
Lemony Kale Salad = kale + pine nuts + pecorino + currants + vinaigrette
Both of these salads are like a fresh burst of summer (click here for the full Lemony Kale Salad recipe). They would be delicious anywhere but are especially so at a cottage (isn’t everything?).
Last week I got out of Dodge with my three nearest and dearest childhood girlfriends and headed up north for three peaceful days to a cottage by the lake. Here’s what happened, in the words of my bestie Bonnie: “Other than running, we did everything we wanted and then some. We ate, laughed, cried, danced, partied, ate some more, rested, laughed some more, perfected the fine art of selfies, and reaffirmed our deep and sustaining lifelong friendship.”
We practiced the fine art of selfies.
The photo above was taken after a few glasses of this bubbly pink concoction.
It wasn’t all so soulful. Happy hour began quite early (it was 5 o’clock somewhere!). We played Cards Against Humanity, a hilarious “party game for horrible people” that I highly recommend for some serious side-splitting laughs. And we took a quick trip to Target, where I bought this gorgeous woven tote!
My Target find.
But I digress: Seeing as the The Ex opens this week in Toronto, symbolizing the approach of the end of summer, I suggest that you savour these salads with a cold glass of Prosecco…stat!
First come the currants. Place them in a small bowl and cover with 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar works too). Set aside.
Toast the pine nuts. Keep an eye on them because they brown pretty quickly.
Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp white wine vinegar, lemon juice and rind, honey, olive oil and salt. Whisk.
Lay several leaves of kale on top of each other and cut crosswise into thin ribbons. Place in a large bowl.
Add vinaigrette, pine nuts and currants (including any vinegar left over from soaking) to the kale and toss to combine. Let sit for at least 20 minutes at room temp, tossing occasionally. The longer you let the kale macerate (become softened by soaking), the better.
Take a nice sharp hunk of pecorino, cut into shavings and sprinkle on top of salad.
This salad has it all: sweet, lemony, savoury and green.
Lemony Kale Salad ingredients
(recipe inspired by Gusto 101 and adapted from Fresh Ness)
2 tbsp dried currants
2 tbsp + 1 tsp white wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar also does the trick)
1 bunch lacinate kale, centre ribs and stems removed, washed and dried
3 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
Pecorino cheese shavings
After being blown away by the Cavolo Nero at Gusto 101, I vowed to learn how to make this kale salad at home. And eat it every night. And I did, for a while. Then came this video of Gusto 101 chef Daniel Mezzolo sharing tips for how to perfect his coveted Cavolo Nero. And now I vow to move to Italy.