The weather is crappy this weekend but, I don't mind. It's giving me a chance to do something I haven't done in a long time--spend the day cooking. Yesterday I baked gluten-free banana bread, and apple-crisp. In case you're wondering what the point of gluten-free banana bread is, let me tell you, it's delicious. I also cut the sugar in the recipe with xylitol so we can eat it completely guilt free. I got the recipe from the Bob's Red Mill GF Mix package. The weird thing is, their website has a different recipe posted, so I'll post the one I used at the end.
Some of the ingredients I like to use are more expensive than regular grocery store items and with the rising cost of food, it can be hard to justify the upgrade to organic or additive-free alternatives. The way I look at it is prices are rising one way or the other, and I'd rather channel that extra money I'm paying toward supporting a more sustainable and healthy way of producing food than to support an un-environmental food distribution system. We're already paying a lot more for food thanks to rising transportation costs, so whenever possible, we can change the paradigm by buying more fresh local produce and maybe even cutting back a bit on processed food which is often actually more expensive when you consider the nutrition you're getting.
Yesterday, was also a good day for watching cooking shows. I was inspired by Lidia Bastianich who was making focaccia with her grandsons (she's such a good Grandma!) and José Andrés who was sipping Alberino and sampling fresh mussels. For lunch, I made a wonderful Tuscan-style cannenelli dish with sautéed diced nitrate-free fruitwood smoked BACON, diced red pepper, grated carrot, chopped garlic, ground sage, and a can of drained and rinsed cannenelli seasoned with paprika, sea salt, fresh parmesan and plenty of fresh extra virgin olive oil. My favorite Olive Oil available here locally is Paesano from Sicily. Of course, I've yet to try Spanish olive oil, and I hope to visit some day so I can try it... I also made a focaccia last night to go with some pesto stuffed lasagna.
I had a lot of leftover Béchamel from my mid-week butternut squash lasagna that I cooked for visiting family. So, I used some of it for the pesto stuffed lasagna (I threw grated cheese into the rest of the sauce and made macaroni and cheese). My downstairs neighbor is a proud Italian father and cook. He introduced me to a different way of preparing lasagna. Rather than laying out the lasagna in layers, he stuffs and rolls the individual noodles cannoli style. I had some wilting basil and a tub of non-fat cottage cheese laying around so, I made a pesto filling with it and rolled it up into four leftover lasagna noodles. You know; those four noodles that are always left because a pound of lasagna never actually fits into a 9x13 dish?
By the way, try that butternut squash lasagna recipe sometime--it's a fantastic Fall recipe (just beware the leftover Béchamel and four noodles). It's a lot of work, but you can spread it out over two days if necessary. We served it with some simple tossed greens and zucchini and summer squash cut lengthwise, marinaded in olive oil, balsamic, and tarragon, and grilled up on the old GFG (George Forman Grill). Delish.
But, what about the wine? Oh...right... Here is a little rundown of our food and wine pairings this week:
Bruschetta topped with chive chevre & caramelized onions:
Jewell Towne Vineyards Alden 2005
Butternut Squash Lasagna:
Bartholomew Park Merlot 2005
Pesto (stuffed) Lasagna:
Rijckaert Pouilly-Fuisse 2006
Bob's Red Mill GF Banana Bread
1/3 C. Canola Oil
2/3 C. Packed brown sugar
2 Large eggs
1 t. Vanilla extract
1 3/4 C. Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose GF Baking Flour
2 t. Baking powder
1 1/4 t. Cinnamon
1 t. Xanthan gum
1/2 t. Salt
1 1/2 C Mashed ripe bananas
1/2 C. Chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 9x5 inch loaf pan. Cream together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl. Add flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and cinnamon mixture to egg mixture, alternating with bananas. Beat until smooth. Add walnuts. Transfer to pan. Bake for 1 hour.