Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gluten-Free Chocolate Orange Pancakes (For Smurf!) and Tempeh Chorizo Crumbles

Breakfast time again!  I wanted to develop a recipe for chocolate orange pancakes a few weeks ago, and a friend of mine commented that she couldn't eat pancakes due to a possible wheat sensitivity.  Now, not being able to eat pancakes is just terribly unfortunate - bordering on criminal, so I decided to try my hand at developing a gluten-free recipe.  This is my first serious foray into gluten-free cooking, and I'm pretty pleased with the results.  I might continue to mess around with different types of flour and tweak things a bit (the texture of the pancakes wasn't bad, but you could definitely tell the difference from regular pancakes), but all-in-all I'd say these were a success.  They were scarfed down here at the Fur Ninja house quite readily, anyway. 
I also made tempeh chorizo to go with the pancakes.  The chorizo crumbles are great not just for breakfast, but also for pasta, pizza, or pretty much anywhere you think spicy sausage would be delicious.  I have a recipe for southwest lasagne that I'll be posting soon that includes the tempeh chorizo as well.  It's easy to make, and (according to Andy, the Fur Ninja's primary omnivore taste-tester) is pretty close to the real thing in both taste and texture.  The tempeh doesn't need long to marinate (you can mix it up and cook it immediately if you wish) but if you're making it in conjunction with other dishes, make the chorizo mix first so the flavors have some time to meld before you throw it in the pan to cook.  If you're making it with the pancake recipe, make the chorizo mix first and let it sit while you make the pancake batter.  Then fry up the chorizo while you cook the pancakes.  I made breakfast with both of these recipes and some roasted red potatoes as well.  Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Orange Pancakes with Tempeh Chorizo Crumbles

Tempeh Chorizo Crumbles


8 ounce package tempeh
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon oregano
dash cloves
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (see instructions)
several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon canola or olive oil for frying

Crumble the tempeh into a medium bowl using your hands, or you can use the large-hole side of a box grater.  Add all of the remaining ingredients except the fennel seeds and mix well.  You need to slightly crush the fennel seeds before you add them to the mixture.  If you happen to have a mortar and pestle, now is the time to use it, or you can just put the fennel seeds in a small bowl and crush them with something hard and flat like the back of a strong-handled spoon.  Personally, I used the bottom of my sea salt grinder because I do not have a mortal and pestle myself (although I really do need to get one; they are definitely ninja!) and it worked fine.  You're not trying to totally pulverize the seeds, just gently crush them a little so the flavor gets released a bit.  Add the crushed seeds into the tempeh mixture with everything else and mix well.
Once you're ready to cook your chorizo, heat the 1 Tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the chorizo mixture and cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo is lightly browned.  Enjoy with lots of ketchup and hot sauce!

Gluten-Free Dark Chocolate Orange Pancakes


3/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons flax seed
3/4 cup soy milk
1 ounce square baking chocolate, melted
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon orange or vanilla extract
zest of one orange

Mix together the flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together the melted chocolate, orange juice, extract, and orange zest.  Place the flax seeds and soy milk in a blender and blend until creamy.  Add to the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well.  Add wet ingredients into dry and mix just until combined - if you over-mix, your pancakes will be tough.  Allow the batter to sit for 5-10 minutes before cooking the pancakes.  If the batter seems too thicken too much, add more soy milk or orange juice, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the consistency is right.
Coat a large skillet or electric griddle with cooking spray or canola oil and heat on medium-high.  Cook the pancakes until lightly browned on both sides.  The pancakes are ready to flip when the edges are slightly dry and the bubbles that form on the top start to pop.  Cook the second side until browned and slightly firm.  Continue with the rest of the pancake batter, re-oiling your pan/griddle as needed.  Serve with lots of real maple syrup or top with poached oranges (recipe found HERE); enjoy!

Tips and Tricks:

1. The nuances of gluten-free pancake batter - These pancakes are slightly more delicate than ordinary wheat-flour pancakes.  The trick seems to be to make them no bigger than 4-5" in diameter, and make sure that they are cooked enough on the first side to hold their shape before flipping.  Lift up the edge of your un-flipped pancake to check and see if it's browned at all; if not, be patient!

2. Not into gluten-free?  This recipe would probably also work wonderfully with regular wheat flour.  Just replace both the rice and chickpea flours with regular all-purpose or white whole-wheat flour.

Enjoy your hearty breakfast!  Coming soon - southwest lasagne using the chorizo recipe above, and "Andy's Curry of Doom!"  Also, wonderful news on the Fur Ninja front - my car will be fixed, inspected, and finally legal tomorrow....which means I can now drive to job interviews, and my move back to Philadelphia will hopefully be occurring soon!  Once I'm back in the city I may start doing some restaurant reviews on the blog to rate where is and is not veg-friendly in the city.  Hey, any excuse to go out and eat awesome food, right?  Until then, ninja headquarters will continue to be in Jersey, and I will continue to develop new and tasty recipes for all of my readers :)  Thanks to everyone who reads!

<3, The Fur Ninja

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Creamy Butternut Squash and Barley Soup

Brrrrr.....it's COLD outside!  I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting pretty sick of this snow-all-the-time business.  For anyone not in the Northeast, count your lucky stars because it is getting truly ridiculous here, and it's only February.  On the upside, nothing beats the cold like a hot bowl of soup and some crusty bread, so here's a recipe to keep your little ninja fingers and toes (and tastebuds!) toasty when it's freezing outside.

***Note: you will need to use dried beans for this recipe which require soaking for several hours, so plan ahead!  The best thing to do is put them in water to soak the night before and just leave them there while you snooze.  Or put them in water in the morning and let them soak while you're at work all day.  Just stick your beans in a bowl, add enough water to cover, and leave 'em for at least 6 hours.

Butternut Squash and Barley Soup


1/2 lb dried pinto beans, soaked for at least 6 hours
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 teaspoons minced fresh sage leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz cabbage, shredded
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
8 cups vegetable broth
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1/2 cup plain soy milk
1/2 cup cooked barley
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1.5 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Cook the onion until slightly softened, 3 minutes.  Add carrot, celery, sage, garlic, thyme, and rosemary and cook another 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add the cabbage, butternut squash, and salt and cook until the cabbage is limp, about 10 minutes.  Add the soaked beans and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until beans are tender.  Add the can of diced tomatoes, sprinkle with some black pepper, and cook another 15 minutes until the soup thickens slightly.  Place 2 cups of the soup into a blender with the 1/2 cup soy milk and puree.  Add the puree mixture back into the pot with the rest of the soup and stir to incorporate.  Add the cooked barley and parsley and cook another 5 minutes until everything is heated through.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust spices if necessary.  Garnish each bowl with a bit more parsley and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks:

1. Shredding cabbage - don't!  To make things easier on yourself, just buy a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix in the section of the grocery store where the bagged salads are.  There will be some carrots mixed in there most likely, but there's carrots in the soup anyway, so no harm done and you'll make your life much easier and your kitchen less messy.

2. Black pepper - why no measurements?  I don't put measurements for how much black pepper to put in most of my recipes, because you really should be using freshly ground black pepper from a grinder, and let's face it - measuring that would be a royal pain in the ass.  If you're not grinding your peppercorns, you truly should be because the flavor is by far superior to pre-ground pepper.  When you grind it yourself, you're getting all the oils from the peppercorns that you lose when it's pre-ground and packaged.  Start with a couple of grinds, taste, and repeat as necessary.  You'll learn pretty quickly how much pepper suits your taste.  Remember - you can always add more but it's much more difficult to take away once there's too much so go slowly!

3. For an even more warm and toasty experience, put a few drops of hot sauce in your soup before eating!

Well that's it for now, ninjas!  Spring must be just around the corner, but until then, keep those fingers and toes warm and those bellies full! 

<3, The Fur Ninja