Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spinach, Mushroom & Cheddar Quiche - Gluten Free

For those who are just trying to cook gluten-free, please keep in mind that it is a trial and error process. Some ingredients seem to combine differently so be very aware. For example, baking gluten-free is tricky. Gluten binds. You have to replace that. It is one of the challenges in making a gluten-free product let alone make tasty. Here is a recipe for a spinach, mushroom & cheddar quiche. Have fun!

Spinach, Mushroom & Cheddar Quiche
  • Yield: 3 quiches; each with 8(5oz.) slices
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes plus 1 hour unattended baking
  • Shelf-life: 1 day

Quiche is a perennial favoritefor lunch or a light dinner. In this version, the crust is made with cornmeal scented witha touch of thyme. You can fill it with any number of savory ingredients, including spinach, mushrooms, onions & cheddar cheese, as it is here. When rolling out the crust, it helps to keep gluten-free flour handy for dusting your workspace.


  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1lb. fine cornmeal (about 3 cups)
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 6oz. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 3 large eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Gluten-free flour for dusting


  • 3 tablespoons vegatable oil
  • 9oz. chopped yellow onions
  • 1.25lbs. white mushrooms, wiped, trimmed & sliced
  • 2lbs. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 3 cups light cream or milk
  • 12 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1.5lbs. shredded sharp cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 3 (9inch) Pyrex pie plates with vegetable spray.
  2. Combine cornmeal, salt & thyme in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add butter & pulse until it resembles fine meal. Pour in eggs & process until mixture draws together into a ball. Remove & divide into 3 equal balls.
  3. On a lightly floured workspace or pastry cloth, roll each ball into an 11 inch circle. Fit each into a pie plate, folding edges back & crimping them.
  4. Bake crusts for 10-12 minutes to set.
  5. Prepare the filling: Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions & sauté until golden, 3-4 minutes; add mushrooms & sauté until wilted, stirring often. Cool slightly; stir in spinach.
  6. In a large bowl, beat cream or milk, eggs, mustard, thyme, salt & pepper together. Stir in cheese & mushroom spinach mixture.
  7. Ladle filling into the crusts, return to oven & bake for about 50-55 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove.

Nutritional Data: (per 5oz. portion)

Calories: 370

Cholesterol: 196mg

Sodium: 660mg

Fat: 26g

Dietary Fiber: 3g

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Friday, March 19, 2010

St. Joseph's Day

The Life of St. Joseph

Relatively little is known about the life of St. Joseph except for what is written in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The genealogy of both Gospels place him in the line of David. Though St. Joseph was descended from royalty, it was not a title to rank or riches. Everything known about Joseph suggests he was poor, for example, the offering of only two turtle doves at the Temple. Joseph's family belonged to Bethlehem of Judea, but he had moved to Nazareth in Galilee to take up the occupation of a builder. There is no reason to suggest he was older than a normal age of 20-24 when he wed Mary, who would have been 15-20. Matthew mentions the annunciation to Joseph of Mary's conception, the visit of the Magi, the flight to Egypt and the return to Nazareth. Luke fills in the details of the birth of Christ, the Presentation and the temporary loss of Jesus in Jerusalem at the age of twelve. After that, Joseph disappears from the pages of the Gospel. Since he is not mentioned during the ministry of Jesus or at the Passion, it is assumed that he had already died by that point.
Other stories surround the life of Joseph, but most are believed to have been invented to satisfy popular curiosity. Some of these stories include a first marriage where Joseph was widowed, his great age (111 years) and his protracted death where he receives comfort from Mary and Jesus. The Gospels are really the only reliable source of information on Joseph's life and though they are brief, they give a good outline of his character. St. Joseph was a faithful, patient man, obedient to the demands of God and willingly accepting of hardships. Matthew calls him "a just man", illustrated by his loyalty in protecting and providing for his family. In 1870, Pope Pius IX proclaimed Joseph as the Patron of the universal Church, honoring his role of support, protection and guidance and named March 19 as "the [heavenly] birthday of St Joseph". Pius XII added a second feast of Joseph the Worker, which is celebrated May 1st, the traditional Labor Day. (source:

The Holiday

Many believe March 19th (St. Joseph's Day) is Joseph's birthday. Those with strong religious association and or of Southern Italian descent typically celebrate the day. The origin of this holiday traces back to Sicily, where St. Joseph is regarded by many as their patron saint. Thanks are given to St. Joseph for preventing a famine in Sicily. According to legend, there was a severe draught at the time and the people prayed for their patron saint to bring them rain. They promised that if he answered their prayers, they would prepare a large feast to honor him. The rain did come and the people of Sicily prepared a large banquet for their patron Saint. The fava bean was the crop which saved the population from starvation, and is a traditional part of St. Joseph's Day altars and traditions. Giving food to the needy is a St. Joseph's Day custom. In some communities, it is traditional to wear red clothing and eat sfinge/zeppole on St. Jospeh's Day.

Upon a typical St. Jospeh's altar, people place flowers, limes, candles, wine, fava beans, specially prepared cakes, breads & cookies (as well as other meatless
dishes), and zeppole. There is also a St. Joesph statue centerpice. Foods are traditionally served containing bread crumbs to represent saw dust since St. Joseph was a carpenter. Because the feast
occurs during Lent, traditionally no meat was allowed on the celebration table. The altar usually has three tiers to represent the holy trinity. (source: and family)

Well, enough history and explanation. Go find someone named Joe, pull his ear and eat a sfinge/zeppole.

Related Posts:
St. Joseph Bread

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Joseph's Bread

In preparation for St. Jospeh's Day tomorrow, we have provided a recipe to make St. Joseph's bread, also known as Pane di San Guiseppe, a white yeasted bread flavored with anise and golden raisins.

St. Joseph's Bread
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Ready Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Serves: 10Ingredients:
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2/3 cup hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons anise
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
Directions:1. In a large bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, honey, hot water, salt, butter and anise seeds. Mix into a smooth batter. Stir in the golden raisins, and beat for another 10 minutes, gradually adding flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. You may not need to use all of the flour. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
3. Grease a baking sheet and dust with cornmeal. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and punch out all of the air. Roll into a long tight loaf, and place seam side down onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a sharp serrated knife to make 3 or four diagonal slashes on the top. Cover with a tea towel, and let rise until double in size, about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Mist the loaf with water of vinegar before baking, and twice during.
5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the crust is golden brown, and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

NOTE: Traditionally, you shape the bread to look like a patriarch's beard by making five torpedo loaves of graduated lengths, 1 long, 2 medium and 2 short. Place them close together on a baking sheet in the following order: 1 short, 1 medium, 1 long, 1 medium, 1 short. They will rise together and you'll have Pane di San Guiseppe.
Check in tomorrow on St. Joseph's Day and learn more about this holiday while feeding on the bread you just learned to bake. A domani!

Related Posts:
History of St. Joseph

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Soda Bread Recipes

Just thought we'd post some more recipes. For St. Patrick's Day, here is a variant recipe of a sweet Irish Soda Bread. Following this recipe is a more traditional one. Enjoy!

Sweet Irish Soda Bread
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup currants
  • 2 tablespoons toasted caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon sanding sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well.
  3. Cut the butter and shortening into small pieces and add to the flour mixture.
  4. Using your fingers, work the cold butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Add the egg, the buttermilk, the currants and the caraway seeds and mix into the flour mixture until it is incorporated.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough forms a smooth ball.
  7. Place the dough into a lightly greased loaf pan.
  8. Score the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife.
  9. Brush the top of the loaf with melted butter.
  10. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  11. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Simple Irish Soda Bread
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda.
  4. Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to the flour mixture.
  5. Mix just until moistened.
  6. Stir in butter.
  7. Pour into prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.
  10. Wrap in foil for several hours, or overnight, for best flavor.

St. Patrick is of Italian (Roman) Descent

St Patrick was born Maewyn Succat in Scotland, son of Calphurnius and Conchessa Succat, Maewyn's father was a ROMAN Citizen, and Highly placed Roman Administrator, when Britain was part of the Roman Empire.
Maewyn was kidnapped and taken to Ireland where he was a slave shepherd. After 6 years of thought and prayer he escaped, and briefly returned to his family, and then went to study for the ministry at Tours, in southern France, where his mother was well connected. He also studied at Lerins in Savoy, He was then promoted to the priesthood, and between time in Turin and Rome, he did missionary work in Britain, but felt his mission was in Ireland.
Pope Celestine I on the recommendation of St. Germain, Patrick's patron, that Patrick was given his wish of the Mission to convert Ireland, after the failure of Palladius.
Patrick never chased any snakes out of Ireland, because there were none there to start with. It was used as a metaphor for paganism.
The Irish and Italian Flags are very similar. Both are Tricolore.
The Irish Flag is Green, White, and Orange. The green color on the flag represents the native people of Ireland (most of whom are Roman Catholic). The orange color represents the British supporters of William of Orange who settled in Northern Ireland in the 17th century (most of whom are Protestant). The white in the center of the flag represents peace between these two groups of people.
The Italian Flag is Green, White and Red. Derived from an original design by Napoleon. Green was said to be Napoleon's favorite color.

From New Advent The Catholic Encyclopedia
Maewyn Succat was born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in
Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 493. Other sources say 460 or 461 ?Ed.
He had for his parents Calphurnius and Conchessa. The former belonged to a ROMAN family of high rank and held the office of decurio in
Gaul or Britain. Conchessa was a near relative of the great patron of Gaul, St. Martin of Tours.
In his sixteenth year, Patrick was carried off into captivity by Irish marauders and was sold as a
slave to a chieftan named Milchu in Dalriada, a territory of the present county of Antrim in Ireland, where for six years he tended his master's flocks.
During his captivity, Patrick became very spiritual. prayed a great deal, acquired a perfect knowledge of the Celtic tongue. and, as his master Milchu was a
druidical high priest, he became familiar with all the details of Druidism from whose bondage he was destined to liberate the Irish race.
After six years he fled and in a few days he was among his friends once more in Britain, but now his heart was set on devoting himself to the ministry. He studies at St. Martin's monastery at
Tours, and again at the island sanctuary of Lirins Patrick put himself under the the guidance of St. Germain who a few years later promoted him the priesthood. Under St. Germain's guidance for some years was engaged in missionary work to Britain. Patrick's thoughts often turned towards Ireland.
Pope St. Celestine I, entrusted St. Patrick with the mission of gathering the Irish race into the one fold of Christ on the recommendation of St. Germain. Palladius (q.v.) had previously been unsuccessful.It was Celestine that gave him the name "Patercius" or "Patritius", not as an honorary title, but as a foreshadowing of the fruitfulness and merit of his apostolate whereby he became pater civium (the father of his people). Patrick on his return journey from Rome and turning aside to the neighboring city of Turin received episcopal consecration at the hands of its great bishop, St. Maximus, and thence hastened on to Auxerre to make preparations for the Irish mission.
It was probably in the summer months of the year 433, that Patrick and his companions landed at the mouth of the Vantry River close by Wicklow Head. The Druids were at once in arms against him. But Patrick was not disheartened. The intrepid missionary resolved to search out a more friendly territory in which to enter on his mission. First of all, however, he would proceed towards Dalriada, where he had been a slave, to pay the price of ransom to his former master, and in exchange for the servitude and cruelty endured at his hands to impart to him blessings
He continued his journey over land towards Slemish. He had not proceeded far when a chieftain, named Dichu, appeared on the scene to prevent his further advance. He drew his sword to smite the saint, but his arm became rigid as a statue and continued so until he declared himself obedient to Patrick. This was the first sanctuary dedicated by St. Patrick in Erin. It became in later years a chosen retreat of the saint. A monastery and church were erected there, and the hallowed site retains the name Sabhall (pronounced Saul) to the present day. Continuing his journey towards Slemish, the saint was struck with horror on seeing at a distance the fort of his old master Milchu enveloped in flames. The fame of Patrick's marvelous
power of miracles preceeded him. Milchu, in a fit of frenzy, gathered his treasures into his mansion and setting it on fire, cast himself into the flames. An ancient record adds: "His pride could not endure the thought of being vanquished by his former slave"....... (

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Irish Soda Bread: An Overview

A little soda bread history
Irish baking over the centuries has been affected by two main factors. The first is our climate. The influence of the Gulf Stream prevents either great heat in the summer or cold in the winter. As a result, hard wheats, which need such heat and cold, don't prosper. Those wheats make flour with a high gluten content that responds well to being raised with yeast. But soft wheats do grow well here.
The other factor has been the abundance of fuel. Ireland's various medieval overlords could never exercise the tight control over forest land that landowners did in more populous, less wild areas, like England and mainland Europe. This meant that Irish people had less trouble getting their hands on firewood. Where there was no wood, there was almost always heather, and usually turf too. As a result, anyone with a hearthstone could bake at home whenever they wanted to, rather than needing to use a communal bake-oven to conserve fuel.
These two factors encouraged the Irish householder of the past two centuries to bypass yeast for everyday baking. The primary leavening agent became what's now known here as bread soda -- just plain bicarbonate of soda, to US and North American users. Hence the name soda bread. But for a long time, most bread in Ireland was soda bread: "bakery bread" was only available in big cities. Soda bread was made either in a pot or casserole over the fire, or else baked on a bakestone, an iron plate usually rested directly in/on the embers. From these two methods are descended the two main kinds of soda bread eaten in Ireland, both north and south, to the present day.

About soda bread varieties

In Ireland, "plain" soda bread is as likely to be eaten as an accompaniment to a mai
n meal (to soak up the gravy) as it's likely to appear at breakfast. It comes in two main colors, brown and white, and two main types: cake and farl. People in the south of Ireland tend to make cake: people in Northern Ireland seem to like farl better -- though both kinds appear in both North and South, sometimes under wildly differing names.
Cake is soda bread kneaded and shaped into a flattish round, then deeply cut with a cross on the top (to let the bread stretch and expand as it rises in the oven). This style of soda bread is normally baked in an oven.
These days we'd normally bake it on a baking sheet / cookie sheet. But in earlier times, before ovens were commonplace, cake was routinely made in deep, lidded iron casseroles, hanging over the open fire or sitting right in it -- the casserole lids being concave to hold coals or burning turves from the fire on top, so that the bread would bake evenly in radiant heat from all sides.
The cake style of soda bread can of course be eaten hot. But it's more usual to let the loaf cool down before eating it (it's a little easier to handle then). It's also a lot easier to slice, and that's the way it's normally seen in supermarkets and convenience stores country-wide, in both brown and white versions.
Farl is rather different. When making farls, the soda bread dough is rolled out into a rough circle and cut all the way through, crosswise, into four pieces or farls ("farl" is a generic term for any triangular piece of baking), and usually baked in a heavy frying pan or on a griddle, on top of the range or stove rather than in the oven. It's a flatter bread than cake, and moister after the baking's finished. Each farl is split in half "the wide way" before eating. It's best when eaten hot off the griddle, but it's also allowed to cool and then grilled or fried as part of other dishes, especially the famous Ulster Fry.

One important note: in the US and North America generally, there's a tendency to think of soda bread as something with fruit in it. This is not the case in Ireland. While people have for many years sometimes added fruit to the basic dough as a treat or for a change of pace, this is not usually referred to as soda bread, but as tea bread, fruit soda, tea cake, and by many other names. We have recipes for these below as well. But everyday soda bread in Ireland does not contain fruit.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gluten Free Timballo

For those "foodies" who have seen the film Big Night, the climax of the film shows the huge feast that culminates in the presenting of the enormous timballo (timbale). When I first saw that, I thought that dish was fictitious. "There is no way that that's a real dish!" I thought. It reminded me of a Little Rascals episode when they made a "surprise" cake.
Anyway, that dish looked so good that I always wanted to try it. While researching different recipes, I came across an interesting article about gluten-free foods and discovered some gluten-free recipes that included a gluten-free Timballo recipe. I will provide the article within the next week but I wanted to share this recipe for those who were interested or simply a pasta lover.

Italian Timballo
Yield: 24 (12oz.) portions
Preparation time: 20-30 minutes + 1.5 hours unattended baking time
Shelf-life: 4 days under refrigeration.

  • Oil to grease molds
  • 2lbs. 2oz. ground beef
  • 1.5lbs. ground veal
  • 6 slices stale spelt or other gluten free bread, crust removed & torn into pieces (about a half loaf)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten plus 12 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 3/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2.5lbs. zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2.25 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2lbs. gluten-free penne or ziti (Doris has Sam Mills gluten-free pasta)
  • 6 large sheets fresh gluten-free pasta
  • 6 cups fresh mozzrella
  • 1 large #10 can (approx 84 oz.) San Marzano peeled tomatoes (undrained & finely chopped) (Doris has Cento Brand Certified San Marzano Tomatoes in a #10 can)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously oil a 10 quart round mold or 3 (3.5 qt.) molds. (11.5 inch metal bowls work well).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the meats. In a separate bowl, add the bread to the milk and let it soften (about 5 minutes), then squeeze and add it along with uncooked eggs, parsley, basil, zucchini & Parmigiano to the meat and mix gently. Season generously with salt & pepper.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add penne and cook until al dente; drain and gently stir into the meat mixture.
  4. If the fresh pasta sheets are not pliant, bring another pot of salted water to a boil and cook briefly. Drain & line the oiled mold(s) with the fresh pasta sheets. (If necessary, you can cut the sheets in pieces & patch them together in the mold and on top.) Add about a fourth of each into the pan: the meat mixture, the hard boiled eggs, the mozzarella & the tomatoes. (Repeat with 3 more layers, patting down the mixture as you work.)
  5. Lay remaining pasta over the filling, making sure it is covered, press the edges around the pan, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1.5 hours. Uncover & continue to cook until the top is lightly colored (about 15 minutes). Test the meat for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the center. It should read 160 degrees. If not, recover & cook for about 10-15 minutes more. Remove, run a knife along the edges, cover with a large platter, and let stand for at least 15 minutes before unmolding & cutting into wegdes & serving.
Nutritional Data: (per 12oz. portion)
  • Calories: 420
  • Cholesterol: 160mg
  • Sodium: 610mg
  • Fat: 15g
  • Dietary Fibre: 4g
If gluten free pasta sheets are hard to find, you can press the penne to almost mushing them along the mold.
(For a spicier version, use hot Italian sausage sauteed in olive oil)
(source: Specialty Food Magazine, March 2010)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Monday, March 8, 2010

Great Shrimp Scampi Recipe

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Buon appetito!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

But It Sounds Much Better in Italian... (Part 5)

It's nice to see people taking pride in their work and their lives as a whole. Many work very hard for what they have and that alone makes their accomplishments so sweet. Especially when it comes to someone's home. Whether it's a large home or a small condo, being able to have and tend to one gives a nice sense of responsiblity and accomplishment. For those who are proud, I have this saying, "Ad ogni ucello, suo nido é bello."
Translation: "Each bird thinks its own nest is beautiful." In other words, there's no place like home.

Here are some more:
"Chi la dura la vince."
Translation: "He who perseveres wins at last."

"Chi mangia solo crepa solo."
Translation: "He who eats alone dies alone."

"Chi trova un amico, trova un tesoro."
Translation: He who finds a friend finds a treasure."

"Finché c'é vita c'é speranza."
Translation: "Where there's life, there's hope."

"Meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani."
Translation: "Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow."

"Oggi a te, domani a me."
Translation: "Today to you, tomorrow to me."
Idiomatic Translation: "Every dog has its day."

"Se non é vero, é ben trovato."
Translation: "If it's not true, it's a good story."

See you next time! Ciao!

Related Posts:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4