GF Pavlova with a Twist by Allison

I tried making pavlova two times before with my hand-held “immersion blender/tool” but it was an epic fail. The egg whites just never got stiff enough and my “Tesco special” was not making the grade. So I gave up…..until I pulled my cobalt blue KitchenAid mixer out of my top cupboard. Why yes, I had a KitchenAid mixer but couldn’t ever get it to work properly as my voltage converter I had wasn’t working properly. A friend was getting rid of hers so whallah! I knew where all of the fuse boxes were and had access to all of them in case I blew any fuses, which I did, but I got my prized KitchenAid mixer to work! This definitely called for a re-do of the pavlova as I knew my KitchenAid would be able to get the job done. You see, I was such an avid baker that I decided to carry my KitchenAid mixer back with me from the U.S. to Prague in my carry-on bag several years ago. Oh you should have seen the looks on the security personnel’s faces! They were pulling each other towards the screen and shaking their heads in disbelief! One gentleman pulled me aside and said, “Mam, is this mixer yours?!” I replied, “Yes it is sir….” with a smile of course and he said, “Oh, well Mam, we haven’t seen a KitchenAid mixer come through here before! It is quite an unusual item to carry with you but everything is fine from our side, hope it makes the journey for you” and that was that! I knew it was a questionable item to take on the plane but I did have my Mom wait before she left the airport in case they wouldn’t allow it so I could give it to her to take home. But I gave my Mom the thumbs up signal and waved goodbye before I headed towards my gate on the other side of security.
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Luckily I was flying business class on award miles and no one questioned the weight of my bag along my journey. In case you’re wondering, I was able to lift it into the overhead compartment on my own on two different flights as well! So you can imagine how rewarding it was for me to finally use it and to pull off a pavlova to serve at Easter brunch! The twist is the pavlova has cinnamon and vanilla bean in it…..and it is delicious, seriously delicious.

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Now I just need to work on preventing the cracking of the pavlova so next time I won’t cook it as long!

recipe for the pavlova slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients 

For the pavlova:
6 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon balsamic vinegar
seeds scraped from a vanilla bean

To assemble:

2 small containers or 1 large container of liquid whipped cream 40% fat
2 Tbsp. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups mixed berries for the top

To make the pavlova: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until satiny peaks form. Add the sugar, 1 spoonful at a time, and continue beating until the mixture becomes stiff and very shiny.

Using a spatula, fold in the cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla bean. Spoon the mixture onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, forming a 10-inch circle that is about 2-inches thick.

Place in the oven, and immediately turn the oven down to 300°F or 150°C. Bake for about 1 hour . When the pavlova is done baking, it should look and feel dry on top. Remove from the oven, and let cool in a dry place overnight.

The next day, invert the pavlova onto a serving dish, peel away the parchment and reverse onto another serving dish. The pavlova shell can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Be sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap and keep it in a dry place until ready to assemble.

To make the whip cream: Use an electric whisk to beat the whipping cream until smooth. Whisk in the icing sugar and vanilla extract.

To assemble the pavolva: Dollop the whipped cream into the center of the pavlova, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the fruit over the cream. Enjoy with friends and family!

 

 

Totally Amazing Tomatoes – GF, SF, DF, NF, and V of course

Once you’ve had fresh tomatoes from the garden that have been grown with love and tender loving care, then there’s just no comparison to the taste of mass-produced tomatoes that can be found at your go-to grocery store chain. The taste, the flavor, the color and even the texture are different between the home-grown or farmer’s market tomatoes and store-bought tomatoes. Don’t you agree? I adore tomatoes. Really truly. Sun-dried tomatoes are a must-have in my pantry at all times. I cannot run low on sun-dried tomatoes. Speaking of which….have you seen the ingredient list on the back of a sun-dried tomato jar? Brace yourself. Vegetable oil to top the list and too many other crazy things in there that shouldn’t be in there to be honest. So I took matters into my own hands. I bought a dehydrator and set out to dry my own tomatoes! The result?! Incredibly tasty tomato chips if you like crunchy things without preservatives and artificial ingredients. They are absolutely delicious. I’ve also made dehydrated tomatoes and am preserving them in olive oil. They are waiting to be consumed with other Italian delicacies one day soon. This is not a new idea, many people have dehydrated tomatoes, but I’m here to share with you how easy and amazing they really are and urge you to get a dehydrator!  photo 3photo 1

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Dehydrated Tomatoes by Allison

Tools: 

sharp knife

dehydrator

delicious tomatoes from a farmer’s market

cutting board

Method:

Rinse tomatoes, you may also need to de-stem and de-core your tomatoes depending on the variety to prepare them for dehydrating. Cut tomatoes into 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch slices and place on the dehydrator trays. Leave space in-between slices so the warm air can circulate around and between the tomato slices. I dehydrate mine at 55 degrees Celsius for 20-24 hours depending on the variety of tomato I used. You can sprinkle with salt, oregano, basil if you’d like. They are finished when they are dry and leathery. Sometimes I dehydrate them for 24 hours until they are brittle and eat them like chips or crisps. Either way they are delicious! Store in a sealed jar or freeze. Enjoy!

 

Gluten-Free Blueberry Buckle by Allison

Blueberries by the basket you say? Yes indeed, I’ve been buying blueberries by the basket! Why not? Being from the Pacific Northwest I grew up with being able to have fresh berries at my fingertips. I can remember back when I was in college and seeking out “U-Pick Farms” and I got bucket loads of raspberries for 50 cents a pound! I made cartons of freezer jam that night until the wee hours of the morning! Now I’m in the Czech Republic which is also “Berry Land” and I’m lucky to be able to have access to local farmers who grow the berries. They just taste better than the kind you buy in large stores let me tell ya! So here’s one way to get some more antioxidants in your system, eat blueberry buckle!photo (4)

This is my Mom’s recipe and it is certainly a family favorite. You can use frozen blueberries as well just be sure to thaw them out before-hand and make sure they are without extra moisture. My crumbly topping sank to the bottom as I used a bit more butter than needed but they turned out great and they were very delicious!
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Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake
slightly adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free flour ( I like Schar Mix C gluten-free flour)

¾ cup sugar

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. butter

¾ cup milk

1 egg

2 cups well-drained blueberries

 

Topping:

½ cup sugar

1/3 gluten-free flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup soft butter

Mix and sprinkle over batter in pan.

 

Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease round layer pan, 9 ½ inches or square pan, 8″ x 8″ pan or pour into a muffin tin.  Blend all ingredients except blueberries and topping.  Beat for ½ minute.  Spread in pan.

Sprinkle topping over batter and bake for 45 to 50 minutes if baking it in a pan or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. My muffins baked about 20 minutes.

 

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Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Bake by Allison

There are so many beautiful cafes in Prague to enjoy breakfast in while you sit, savor and soak in your surroundings with friends or family. But sometimes a homemade breakfast in the comfort of your own home is what you’d like to offer your newly arrived guests from overseas after a long journey. Aromas of steaming hot double-shot coffee brewing in the french press and a pot of black or green tea steeping in a beautiful Polish pottery teapot await for thirsty guests.  The egg bake is cooking away in the oven while we enjoy greek yogurt with homemade granola and fresh fruits of the season, apricots, cherries and strawberries. One word, delicious.

 

There’s nothing like farmer’s market eggs or homegrown eggs in your own backyard. They taste better, they are fresher and it feels good to support local farmers at the same time. I try to only buy my eggs from the farmer’s market and especially for this recipe.

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Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Bake by Allison

Ingredients

Fresh mushrooms (1 large container or approximately two 1/2 to three cups of sliced mushrooms)

200 grams of fresh spinach

2 Tbsp. butter

2-3 cloves garlic

2 small onions

fresh thyme springs

12 eggs

2 cups grated cheese (can use cheddar or gouda or a smaller amount of parmesan)

1/2 cup of milk or cream

1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 185 degrees Celsius.

First melt the butter in a large frying pan/wok, then add the chopped onion and cook on low until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add garlic to the pan after cooking onions for 10 minutes and stir frequently to prevent from burning. Turn up the heat to medium and add mushrooms, thyme leaves and salt. Cook until the moisture in the bottom of the pan has cooked off, about 10 minutes or so. Then add fresh spinach in 2 handfuls at a time until it wilts and cooks down, continue to turn and stir. Remove from heat and in a large bowl crack 12 eggs and add in the milk and grated cheese. Beat mixture with a whisk until blended, be careful not to over beat. Add in the mushroom, onion and spinach mixture and stir gently. Pour into a large 9″ x 13″ pan and bake uncovered for the first 25 minutes, check frequently to see if the top is getting brown and cover with foil when you’ve reached the desired color on the top of the egg bake. Total baking time should be around 40-45 minutes depending on your oven. Serve warm and enjoy!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies by Allison (GF, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free)

While these cookies don’t taste like my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies, they taste really good when you’ve cut out all the nuts, dairy and grains on top of the gluten! By the way, nothing can beat my Mom’s cookies. Really truly. I’m serious. She has a gift, well many gifts, but one of them being the ability to make amazing cookies. Her sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, molasses crinkles, peanut butter blossoms, and oatmeal raisin cookies are all off the charts fabulous (and I’m not the only one who thinks so)!

I haven’t always been gluten-free, but the last three years I have and I don’t miss much as far as food or treats go, but I do miss my Mom’s incredible cookies. These coconut chocolate chip cookies can’t be measured against your cookies Mom, they are not even in this same world but they are interesting. They are a totally different kind of cookie than you’ve ever had before but I still think they are worth the calories! You can buy everything you need right here in Prague as well! Whip up a batch and have it with a glass of coconut milk and tell me what you think! Enjoy!

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free – but not taste free)

recipe adapted from The Lemon Bowl

 

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed plus 3 Tbsp. water (mix and let sit)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (melted )
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ cup coconut milk (I use homemade as coconut milk has a lot of additives in it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup + 2 Tbsp coconut flour (gf )
  •  ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips (I use Lifefood 80% sugar-free chocolate)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with baking paper or foil
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together ground flax seed and water, then set aside for a few minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl mix melted coconut oil, date sugar, coconut milk, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, stir in coconut flour, chocolate chips and flax seed mixture.
  5. Scoop cookies using a large tablespoon and form a ball, flatten with the palm of your hand and place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes or until slightly browned.
  6. Let cookies cool completely before removing from pan. Enjoy!

 

The Prague Basket’s 100th post! by Liezel

100 posts ago, I was trying to navigate through my new role in life, a mother of twins.

100 posts ago, I was searching for a way to fulfill a creative void.

100 posts ago, I was entertaining the idea of developing a new blog with the aid of my dearest gals in Prague, Allison and Nikki.

100 posts ago, The Prague Basket shared its first post.

100 posts later we are celebrating, and to commemorate this happy achievement we have a special gift for one of the readers/guests of our blog. The winner will receive a tender basket filled with goodies from the Andel Famers’ Market. Take a look…

A little thank you gift!

A little thank you gift!

To enter, please leave us a comment on the blog. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced by Tuesday, the 18th of June. In the meantime, click and reminisce with us a hundred posts ago… https://thepraguebasket.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/very-veggie-pasta-sauce-by-liezel/

Many thanks to our readers and we look forward to hearing from you. On behalf of The Prague Basket, we say “Dekuji!” (Thanks!)

L 🙂

Tortilla de esparragos/ Spanish Asparagus Omelette by L

Chrest season!

Chrest season!

I can’t believe how much my local farmers market has grown since last year! Normally, I would have to wait every other week to be able to take home the wonderful goods, but now the Andel market in Prague 5, is open every Friday and I look forward to it. This week a new stand appeared– asparagus season has hit and is in full force. Everywhere I look, bunches of asparagus spears are beckoning me to take them home.

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Andel Farmers’ Market, Praha 5

Even though it was my turn to post, I actually had no idea what I was going to cook or write about. Thank goodness for some farmers market inspiration. As soon as I saw the stand that is pictured above, I had tortilla de esparragos on my mind.

Best spot in town to buy eggs (and butter.)I'm a sucker for their packaging.

Best shop in town for fresh eggs and butter.  I’m a sucker for their packaging.

This meant I needed to round up some eggs, which wasn’t going to be a problem. Just a few stalls down was my favorite stand that not only sells fresh eggs, but also fresh butter, home-made jams, musli and honey.

Tortilla de esparragos

Tortilla de esparragos

If you have ever traveled to Spain, you will know that the word tortilla does not refer to a thin flat piece of bread meant to hold some hearty mexican-seasoned fillings. The best way to describe a tortilla is to compare it to an omelette and Spain’s most famous one is Tortilla de patata. A thick omelette made from a combination of potatoes, onions and eggs. However, that’s not the only tortilla out there. When it comes to tortillas, I have been spoiled by my husband and my father-in-law. They can both whip up some delicious varieties that can include zucchini, tuna, and artichokes (my ultimate favorite).

Always accompanied by a few slices of great bread!

Always accompanied by a few slices of great bread!

The star of this tortilla is asparagus. It is a dish that is quick and easy to make. If you’re looking to get into the asparagus action, give this one a try. It’s a no fail recipe!

Tortilla de esparragos (Spanish asparagus omelette)

1 bunch of asparagus, clean, peeled and diagonally chopped into small pieces

1 small onion, chopped

3-4 tablespoons of very good olive oil

salt

4 eggs

Warm up a non-stick frying pan.

Add two to three tablespoons of olive oil.

When hot, add the onions and let cook for 7-10 minutes.

Then add the pieces of asparagus and cook until tender, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. (about 20-25 minutes)

Add a few pinches of salt.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs.

When the asparagus is cooked, add them to the eggs.

Stir and combine well.

If your pan looks dry, add another tablespoon of oil.

Add the mixture of vegetables and eggs to the pan.

On medium to low heat, let the egg cook through.

Run a fork around the edge of the pan to loosen the edges of the omelette.

When the edges appear cooked and the top of the omelette is slightly runny, take a plate that is big enough to cover the pan and place it on top.

Pick up the pan and use the other hand to hold the plate on top in place.

Standing over your kitchen sink, invert the pan and let the omelette fall onto the plate you have kept tightly over the pan.

Slide the omelette back into the frying pan and let it cook for another few minutes.

When done, place omelette on a platter and wait a few minutes to serve.

Be sure to accompany it with slices of great tasting bread.

Gluten-Free Roasted Cabbage with Thai Dressing by Allison

I’ve been craving Thai food for some reason……… maybe I should have paid more attention in the Thai cooking classes I took in Chang Mai, Thailand seven years ago! It was difficult to go back home and experiment with the new recipes as home at that time was Shanghai, China. At that time there wasn’t fresh lemongrass and galangal and kaffir lime leaves to be found on the shelves of any shop, although I’m sure there is now. I had dinner at Noi in Mala Strana here in Prague on Saturday night and the management was aware of gluten-free food preparation! Three cheers for Noi! Once you get a taste for the unique combination of: sweet, sour, salty, and last but not least spicy guess what? You crave it again. But luckily you don’t need traditional Thai ingredients to achieve a thai flavor for this side dish. Try it!IMG_0443

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So I roasted this cabbage in my oven (I so wish I had a deck and a BBQ but I don’t) and the charred bits of cabbage are very actually very tasty! IMG_0461

I whipped up the sauce in a few minutes while the cabbage was roasting. Super easy!
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Gluten-Free Cabbage Salad with Thai Dressing

slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

Juice of 3 limes (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-1 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (check to make sure this ingredient is gluten-free)
2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
10-15 drops of liquid Stevia (the plant-based sweetener)
1 head green cabbage
canola oil

If you have a charcoal or gas grill, fire it up! Cut the cabbage into 8 evenly sliced wedges while keeping the stalk in place. Brush the cabbage with a little bit of canola oil. Place on the grill for 5-7 minutes or until edges are blackened, flip, and repeat until desired tenderness is achieved.

If you only have an oven (like me) then turn on the broiler and crank the heat to pre-heat the oven. Cut the cabbage into 8 evenly sliced wedges while keeping the stalk in place. Brush the cabbage with a little bit of canola oil and place on a large roasting pan. Roast for 8-9 minutes on each side until the desired tenderness is achieved.

While the cabbage is grilling or roasting, place first 8 ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend ingredients. Drizzle dressing over the top of the cabbage wedges and serve immediately! Enjoy!

Spring’s Not Here, but the Farmers’ Markets Are! by L

Náplavka Farmers’ Market

Náplavka Farmers’ Market

The sun has been quite a tease around here in Prague. We’ve gotten a few warm days, but then the temperatures suddenly go down and we’re back to winter all over again. The coldest of seasons continues to linger on, but I know spring is coming because the farmers’ markets are back! A favorite of mine is the Náplavka Farmers’ Market, located on the Vltava River in Prague 2. There are a variety of stalls selling food and homemade goods by local artisans and farmers. On a good day, you can find a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Unfortunately, the day I visited, it wasn’t a good day for fresh produce. However, if you were looking for smoked meats, dairy products, fresh eggs, bread, chicken, fish or pop-up restaurants serving pasta, Balkan food, a cup of Belgian hot chocolate or a plate of fish and chips, then this would have been a good day for you.

The Market Crowd

The Market Crowd

There were cartons of potatoes, carrots, parsips, cabbage and onions which were all signs that winter was still here. Despite the bleak variety of vegetables and lack of fruits, it was still great to enjoy a sunny Saturday stroll at the market.  I indulged in a fresh almond croissant, along with a cup of Belgian hot chocolate to warm me up. In the end, I bought a bag of carrots and decided to make some fresh carrot-ginger-miso salad dressing. It’s not exactly salad weather, it still feels like we need some hearty soups (or cake in my case) to get us through these chilly days. However, summer will be here sooner than we imagine and I need to get ready for those sleeveless tops and shorts!

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Carrot Ginger Miso Dressing

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2 tablespoons peanut, corn or vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons white miso
2 medium carrots, grated
1 inch ginger root, diced into small pieces
1-2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
a few tablespoons of cold water

Put all the ingredients in your beloved blender, except the water.
After running it for a few minutes, slowly add a few tablespoons of water
until you get the right consistency.
I will leave that up to you, as some people prefer a creamier dressing and some a
thinner, liquid like type.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Mixed Greens with Fried Tofu Salad

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1 block firm tofu
Cornstarch to coat tofu
1 -2 tsp. salt
Your choice of mixed greens ( I used a bag of baby spinach leaves and some romaine lettuce)
1 tomato, sliced
1 scallion, diced
Neutral oil for frying

Drain and slice tofu into thin blocks.
Cover all sides in cornstarch and salt mixture.
Heat oil in shallow frying pan.
When ready, add the coated pieces of tofu.
It should take about 3-4 minutes for each side,
until it begins to turn golden.
Remove and drain excess oil.

Toss all the vegetables in a bowl.
Cut up the tofu into small square pieces.
Add to the salad.
Serve with carrot-ginger miso dressing.

Warm Roasted Butternut Squash Salad by Allison

Warm Roasted Butternut Squash Salad by Allison

I’m a sucker for squash. Really truly! The first year I arrived in Prague, there didn’t seem to be any butternut squash around the city. Maybe it is because I wasn’t “in the know” and didn’t know where it was available. The next year, it miracously arrived at Tesco in random spurts. I’d hear a co-worker talking about making butternut squash soup for dinner and I’d ask where they picked it up and by the time I got there 24 hours later, there was no trace of those tasty butternut squash left in the produce aisles. But now, thanks to the farmers and farmers markets, we seems to have an abudance of this lovely orange squash to consume! Lucky us!

I like making this warm salad on a crisp autumn day when the oven warms the kitchen and the aromas from the oven fill the rooms in my apartment. I picked up a large butternut squash from the Holesovice market along with some red peppers, garlic and goat chesse for this dish.

Warm Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

1/2 large butternut squash peeled, cored and cubed into 1 1/2 ” pieces

3 red peppers, deseeded and deveined, cut into chunks

1 can of rinsed chickpeas (15 oz)

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

olive oil for drizzling

salt and pepper

fresh goat cheese for the top

flat leaf parsley, 3 Tbsp. chopped finely

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Combine butternut squash cubes, red pepper cubes, chickpeas and garlic in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread on a roasting pan and roast uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and add parsley and goat cheese. Mix and enjoy!