Tag Archives: Eggs

Daring Cooks: Handmade Gluten-Free Fettucine with Basil-Walnut Pesto

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with.

Of course, those recipes were merely inspiration for my dish. I went off to find my own gluten-free pasta recipe. I’ve made gluten-free pasta only once before (an egg-yolk ravioli that was tasty, but my pasta was too thick and heavy), so this was still a relatively new experience for me. I wanted to make sure I made it thin and light this time around. I wanted it to be delicious. Lucky for me, Shauna over at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef made pasta just a few days before I did. Her pasta was beautiful, and I loved the way she opted to incorporate psyllium husk to increase the flexibility/stretchiness of the dough. I’ve been using psyllium husk a lot more lately in my baking, and am enjoying the results. I was sold.

I wanted the flavor and texture of the pasta to shine through, so I wanted a sauce that wouldn’t overwhelm or cause the dish to be too heavy. After all, we’ve had temperatures at 100 degrees or more for nearly two weeks now, so a lighter dish was definitely a plus. My garden is overflowing with basil, so I opted for a fresh, bright, dairy-free pesto. Basil is one of those herbs that just screams summer to me. It was the perfect compliment to my pasta.

The pasta was somewhat finicky to make – rolling it thin wasn’t much of an issue, however, I had a bit of trouble with it breaking while rolling. After a bit of practice and patience, though, I fell into a rhythm. It started to work. I now understand why so many people love making pasta. It’s as soothing as making bread – a slow, repetitive, and strangely comforting process. I started to fall in love myself.

Once the pasta was all rolled and cut, the rest of the process was easy. Glazing the walnuts in the maple syrup, and then a quick blitz in the food processor, and the pesto was finished. The pasta took only 2 minutes to cook. A quick toss, and we were more than ready to eat.

So eat we did.

 

Gluten-Free Fettucine, adapted from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

3 oz white bean flour

3 oz millet flour

3 oz potato starch

1 t psyllium husk powder

1 t kosher salt

1 large egg

4 egg yolks from large eggs

1 to 2 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 T water

Combine the flours, psyllium powder, nutmeg, and salt in the bowl of the food processor to combine the flours. Mix the egg, egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the water. Pour the liquid into the flours. Run the food processor on pulse 8 to 10 times, then look at the dough. If the dough has formed crumbs that stay together when pressed, you’re done. If they are a little too dry, add the remaining olive oil, then pulse, look, then add more water, if necessary. If the dough looks a bit too wet, add another tablespoon of flour.

Turn out onto a dry, clean surface. Gather into a ball with your hands and press together. Once a ball is formed, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Cut ball of dough into 4 pieces. Lightly flour your working surface with any of the flours you used for the pasta. Roll out one of the pieces of dough in a rectangle until very thin, as thin as you can get it without breaking. Cut with a pizza cutter into strips, carefully placing each strip onto a plate. Cover the cut pasta with a damp cloth as you go.

To cook the pasta, bring a large, well-salted pot of water to a boil. Carefully lower your pasta into the water and cook for 2 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through but still retains some bite. Drain and toss with a bit of olive oil, then your sauce/pesto.

Serves 4.

Vegan Basil-Walnut Pesto

1 1/2 c walnuts

1 T maple syrup

1 T olive oil

1 1/2 c fresh basil leaves, packed

1 1/2 c fresh parsley leaves, packed

2 1/2 T nutritional yeast flakes

juice of 1 large orange

7 cloves garlic, peeled

1 t salt

1/2 t black pepper

1 t brown rice vinegar

In a small skillet at medium heat, add the walnuts, maple syrup, and olive oil. Cook, stiring slowly for 2-3 minutes or until syrup clings to the walnuts and starts to caramelize. Remove and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add basil, parsley, nutritional yeast, orange juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and brown rice vinegar and pulse, scraping the bowl as you go, until everything is finely chopped, but not a uniform paste. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Pasta, Vegetarian

Daring Cooks: Dill and Caper Red Potato Salad

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

Of course, I’ve made potato salad before. My mom has a straightforward recipe that I love (and have blogged about before – scroll down towards the bottom to view the recipe). But for this challenge, I wanted to make a bit of a different potato salad. Immediately, capers came to mind. Their briny, piquant flavor would compliment the creamy potatoes well. Of course, I’d still want to add some creamy texture, so a nice high-end mayonnaise would be needed. In the interest of keeping the salad lower in calories, though, I tried to keep the amount modest. Some fresh dill, dijon mustard, and smoked paprika helped round out what became a full-flavored, potato salad – a perfect accompaniment to any backyard barbecue.

Dill and Caper Red Potato Salad

1 lb small red potatoes

Salt

1 T lemon juice

3 T diced red onion

3 T olive oil mayonnaise (such as Spectrum)

1 t dijon mustard

1 t honey

1 T capers

1 t fresh dill, chopped

1/4 t smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan with a generous amount of salt and enough water to cover. Boil for 15 minutes or until pierced easily with a fork. Drain and allow to cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1/2 inch) and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and red onion. Stir to coat, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and honey. Add capers, dill, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add in the potatoes and eggs and toss with the dressing until evenly coated. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

Serve chilled. Makes 4 servings.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Southwestern Omelet and a Call for Recipe Testers

I love eggs. They’re not only healthy, a great source of inexpensive protein (even happy, free-range eggs don’t cost much), and one of the speediest things to cook, they also are SO tasty. One of my favorite ways to enjoy an egg is simply cooked sunny-side up, followed closely by poached. But sometimes, I want something with a little more flair, and more ability to incorporate the plethora of veggies in my kitchen. This is when an omelet is just the thing.

Omelets don’t need to be complicated. Of course, mine aren’t as delicately fancy and thin as some, but for my everyday breakfast, that’s fine by me. Just a single fold – enough to allow the filling inside to get all warm, melty, and mingled with the egg – works for my quick and healthy breakfast. I’ll save the fancier stuff for fancier occasions.

Another bonus about omelets – each one is customizable. That way, if you’re making omelets for other family members, everyone can pick out their favorite fillings. Today, I opted for a Southwestern style – a sauteed mix of shallots, diced tomato, serrano pepper, and spinach, topped with just a tiny bit of Daiya cheese. It was spicy, fresh, and packed with powerful flavors, but light enough so that I had energy to get on with my day. My kind of breakfast.

Southwestern Omelet (makes 1 omelet)

1 T olive oil

2 T sliced shallots

4-5 slices fresh serrano pepper (or more if you’re daring – my chile was HOT!)

1/4 c diced tomato

1 large handful of baby spinach

2 eggs, scrambled

2 T Daiya (or other non-dairy) cheese, or omit

1 T fresh chopped cilantro

Heat a small skillet (mine was about 8 inches) to medium heat and add half of the oil. Saute the shallots and serrano chile for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add tomato and spinach and continue to saute until spinach is wilted. Remove and set aside in a small bowl. Wipe out the skillet and add the rest of the oil. Swirl to coat well. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the eggs. Allow eggs to sit without stirring for a minute. Once eggs start to cook on the bottom, take a flexible spatula and carefully pull the edges of the eggs away from the skillet and allow the runny part to fill the space underneath. Do this all the way around the omelet. Repeat this once or twice more, or until the egg is starting to set up more. Once nearly set, add your veggie mixture on one side of the omelet and top with Daiya cheese. Top with a bit of cilantro. Then carefully flip the empty side of the omelet over onto the filling, holding the top in place for a moment or two, if necessary, until the egg stays folded. Allow to cook for another 30 seconds or so, and carefully remove from pan and put onto plate.

Enjoy.

Okay, by announcing it here, this makes it official, right? Are you ready? (Am I ready? Eeek!)

I am working on my first e-book! This book will be filled with gluten and dairy-free recipes that are tasty and healthy for the whole family, made from whole foods and real ingredients. But I need your help to make this happen. I will be furiously working on recipes here at home, but I need testers! If you’re interested in testing out recipes, please send me an email at alta2924 (at) hotmail (dot) com. I hope to be able to have recipe testing start in the next month or so. Thank you in advance for all of your help! This is a huge step for me, and I have so many dreams for this book – I certainly hope it’s as exciting for you as it will be for me!

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Filed under breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Daring Cooks: Eggs Benedict

Jenn from Jenn Cuisine and Jill (Jillouci) have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

While I’ve poached many an egg in my day (I even know how to do it in the microwave), I have actually never made eggs benedict, so I took this opportunity to try it out. It’s one of my favorite “classic” breakfast dishes, and I’ve neglected to make it on a weekend morning, simply because in my head, I felt that making hollandaise was “too fussy” and would take too long.

Boy, was I wrong. I made this for dinner last night (breakfast for dinner is something I really must do more often!) and it really didn’t take much time or effort at all! The hollandaise came together in a flash, and was creamy and delicious. I opted to use a Kinnikinnick hamburger bun instead of coming up with a gluten-free English muffin, and it worked just fine. I also substituted Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread for the butter, and it too was perfect. Now that I’ve realized how simple the basic, traditional eggs benedict recipe is to make, I have hopes to make a fancy, pimped out version again sometime soon. (Anyone have suggestions?)

Another great Daring Cooks challenge complete! Thanks to Jenn and Jill for this easy and delicious challenge!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Eggs Benedict

For the hollandaise:

3 large egg yolks

1-2 t water

pinch sugar

10 T dairy-free butter

1/2 t kosher salt

2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice

pinch cayenne pepper

For the eggs benedict:

4 eggs

1 T vinegar

4 thin slices ham (or Canadian bacon)

4 gluten-free English muffins (or other gluten-free bread)

 Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside. Whisk egg yolks and water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.

Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.

Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Keep the hollandaise warm while you poach your eggs.

Crack eggs individually into bowls. Fill a shallow pan with about 2 inches of water.  Add salt and a splash of vinegar (any kind will do). Bring to a simmer. Slip eggs directly into the very gently simmering water, making sure they’re separated. Cook for 3 minutes for a viscous but still runny yolk.

While waiting for the eggs, quickly fry the ham slices and toast your English muffin. Top each half of English muffin with a piece of ham. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, draining well, and place on top of the bacon. Top with hollandaise and garnish with chives or chopped sage, and enjoy!

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Filed under breakfast, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes

Gluten-Free Holiday: Holiday Breakfast and Brunch (Breakfast Tacos/Taquitos)

Can you believe we are in our 5th installment of Gluten-Free Holiday? Time flies, I tell you! This week we are celebrating over at Ginger Lemon Girl and sharing recipes for holiday breakfast and brunch. I can’t wait to check out what recipes have been shared. But even more exciting are the books that are up for grabs this week!

There will be 4 copies of Elana Amsterdam’s The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook and 3 Elana’s Pantry totes. I own this book, and love it – the recipes are simple, straightforward, and delicious!

2 copies of Cooking For Isaiah by Silvana Nardone – a book I have yet to get my hands on, but can’t wait to check out!

And 3 copies of Gluten-Free Diner by Diane Eblin of The W.H.O.L.E. Gang – another wonderful book I’m proud to own. She serves up delicious comfort foods in this book.

This week’s recipe links are of particular interest to me. Why? Well, our family doesn’t typically put much thought into holiday breakfasts. Christmas morning is a frenzy of emptying stockings from Santa, opening gifts, snapping photos of bed-head kids tearing apart wrapping paper, and bargaining with them on how many chocolates (from their stocking) they can eat for breakfast. (Usually it’s just 1 piece, and hey, it’s twice a year they get candy for breakfast!) If we’re not dashing off to someone else’s house to celebrate, then I might whip up a breakfast, but it’s not much different than any other weekend breakfast. The favorite among our kids is breakfast tacos (called taquitos around here – not sure why!), which is just a simple mix of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and cheese. Most of the time, I can pry the kids away from their new gifts for 5 minutes to gobble some of these down. This year, however, I might actually plan ahead and start a new tradition – we’ll see!

Check out the recipe for breakfast tacos/taquitos here! To make them dairy-free, I simply omit the milk and use Daiya cheese, if I have some. Otherwise, I just omit the cheese – I don’t miss it anymore.

Head on over to Ginger Lemon Girl and check out some amazing recipes for your holiday breakfast/brunch!

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Filed under breakfast, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy

Daring Cooks: Broccoli “Cheese” Souffle

Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.

While I’m no souffle expert, I have made a dessert souffle a few times (a banana, which I blogged about, and Gordon Ramsay’s chocolate recipe, which for some reason, didn’t make it on here!). So I wanted to try a savory souffle. Most savory souffles I’ve seen focus heavily on cheese. Since I don’t eat dairy, this seemed to be a bit of a challenge. When I came across a recipe at Eating Well for a broccoli goat cheese souffle, I thought perhaps that I could substitute Daiya for the goat cheese, and since there were other flavors included in the recipe, that it would still turn out well. It was an experiment, but when am I not up for an experiment?

I doubled the Dijon mustard to boost the flavor, and substituted potato starch for the flour. It was great fun watching the souffles rise – I turned the light on in the oven and admired the show. (Conversely, it was not as much fun trying to capture photos before the souffle settled – from the first photo to the last, you can see the slow fall of the dish! Definitely a race against time.) We enjoyed our souffles with a steak, and they were a perfectly light and delicious counterpart. Next time, I might opt to increase the Dijon and broccoli even more to boost the flavor, but it was still a lovely dish.

If you’ve never tried souffles before, and they seem intimidating, don’t be discouraged! They’re a lot easier than their reputation suggests. And even if they don’t rise as much as they should, you still have a lovely mousse to enjoy. This was a great Daring Cooks challenge!

Broccoli “Cheese” Souffle, adapted from Eating Well

1 1/2 c finely chopped broccoli florets

2 T grapeseed oil

2 T potato starch

1 1/4 c non-dairy milk (I used half almond milk, half coconut milk)

2 t Dijon mustard

1/4 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1/4 t salt

1/2 c Daiya mozzarella or other non-dairy cheese

3 large eggs, separated

2 large egg whites

1/4 t cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 4 10-ounce ramekins with cooking spray.

Place broccoli in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes or until broccoli is tender-crisp. Set aside.

Melt oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in potato starch and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Add non-dairy milk, Dijon mustard, thyme and salt and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in Daiya and 3 egg yolks. Transfer to large bowl.

Beat 5 egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, spoon half of the egg whites into the milk mixture and gently fold in. Add the other half of the egg whites and the broccoli and fold in just until no white streaks remain. Transfer to prepared ramekins.

Bake on a baking sheet until puffed, firm to the touch, and an instant-read thermometer reaches 160 degrees F, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Filed under Appetizers, Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Poached Egg in the Microwave – Guest Post at City|Life|Eats

By now, we all know that packing a lunch, rather than eating out, saves money and is healthier for us (At least, if we pack whole, unprocessed foods. A can of soup or ramen doesn’t really count as “healthier”.). But it takes time and effort to pack a lunch every day, and sometimes, you can fall into a rut. Valerie over at City|Life|Eats has been hosting a lunchbox series, where she highlights various healthy, unprocessed lunchbox ideas. I thought this was a great idea, so when she asked me to write a guest post, I was honored. I pack my lunch every weekday, and thought it’d be fun to contribute my thoughts and ideas. Today I’ll be sharing a great “trick” – how to poach an egg in the microwave! Head on over to City|Life|Eats to check it out, and while you’re there, browse around for some other great lunch ideas!

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free

Guest Post at Ginger Lemon Girl – Quick & Easy Gluten-Free

Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl has been hosting a 30-day series called 30 Day Gluten Free Quick  & Easy. Each day, she has a different guest blogger share a recipe that takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and is healthy and fresh! This is definitely a series I can get into. While I love to spend my free time in the kitchen and love to cook, sometimes, there just isn’t free time! This series will definitely generate some great speedy recipes for those times. I am sharing a gluten-free egg and vegetable wrap at Ginger Lemon Girl today. Visit here to check it out, and while you’re there, browse around for other great quick & easy gluten-free recipes!

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Filed under breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

Kids in the Kitchen: Breakfast Tacos (Taquitos)

This morning, my husband and I were awakened at 7 AM. The kids were awake already. For a Saturday, that’s pretty early. You see, Matt was excited about making breakfast this morning. We had agreed on starting at 9 AM, but by the noise eminating from the living room, he was obviously ready to go well before then. Breakfast tacos (Or taquitos, as they’re called in our house – why? I have no idea.) are Matt’s favorite breakfast treat, and I often make them on weekends. These babies trump any other imagined breakfast food, including donuts, coffee cakes, pancakes – I bet they’d even win over ice cream. When we modified Kids in the Kitchen to include breakfast, it was immediately Matt’s dream to make them.

Of course, the version of breakfast tacos enjoyed at our house are not authentic Mexican by any stretch. A straightforward mix of scrambled eggs, cheddar, and spicy pork sausage, wrapped in a tortilla (corn for me, but the kids prefer flour) – there’s nothing pretentious or complicated about this meal. But when you’re feeding hungry teenagers first thing in the morning while still trying to clear the cobwebs from your head, complicated is not what you need.

So after a mandatory cup of coffee (for me, not Matt), we started. In the pan went some slices of bacon, and Matt set to grating cheddar. (The hardest part of preparation – he groaned about the task!)  After the bacon was removed from the pan, things came together fairly quickly. We browned sausage and drained it, and scrambled the eggs along with the cheddar and sausage. Once the eggs were cooked through, we filled tortillas with the egg-cheese-sausage mixture and rolled them up. The kids could opt to slide a piece of bacon inside, or sprinkle it with Tabasco. I opted for a bit of cilantro. And just like always, there were no leftovers.

You can always change up the ingredients in breakfast tacos to your liking. I would love a vegetarian version – black beans, chopped tomato, and jalapenos, or another favorite – nopalitos con huevos. The beauty of a recipe like this is that there really is not a recipe – it’s so versatile and forgiving that you can throw in any combination of ingredients. My favorite kind of recipe!

Breakfast Tacos/Taquitos

8 oz pork sausage

12 eggs

1/4 c milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 c grated cheddar cheese

12 tortillas, warmed (I lightly toasted corn tortillas in a cast iron skillet)

Pan-fried bacon, for serving

Tabasco hot sauce, for serving

Cilantro leaves, for serving

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. If making bacon, go ahead and fry it now and set aside to drain on paper towels. Add the sausage into the pan and crumble with spatula. Brown sausage crumbles until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Remove and set on paper towels to drain. Scramble the eggs along with the milk; season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat to medium-low and pour in the eggs. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add in the cheddar and sausage crumbles, and continue to cook, stirring fairly often, for about 6-8 minutes or until eggs are cooked through.

Fill tortillas with about 3-4 tablespoons of the egg mixture and fold over or roll up. Serve with bacon, Tabasco, and cilantro.

Serves 5-6.

Don’t Forget! There is still time to win some free Xagave nectar and the Where Delicious Meets Nutritious cookbook! Check it out here!

Also, check out Chocolate Covered Katie, she’s giving away a Vita-Mix!

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Filed under breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Farm Fresh Egg-Stravaganza

chickenEarlier this year, during a little visit to Local Harvest,  I stumbled upon a local farm. This farm happened to be relatively close to my house, and they offered farm fresh eggs. Curious, I contacted Cindy Telisak at Jacob’s Reward Farm. Little did I know that over the coming months, I would gain so much. Not only have we enjoyed a wonderful bounty of the freshest of eggs, but I gained a friend and a new level of appreciation for the hard work and devotion of our local farmers.

Cindy bottle-feeding a baby lamb

Cindy bottle-feeding a baby lamb

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Cindy and her family own Jacob’s Reward Farm, a small farm north of Dallas, where they raise sheep, alpacas, and chickens. Over the past few months, I’ve regularly visited Cindy to pick up fresh eggs from her farm, during which we have been well-acquainted. Last weekend, I was honored to cater to her “Spinning Yarns: Cowboy Stories and Song” event. So this month, when I submitted an idea to conduct an interview with Cindy as part of a Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event, I was ecstatic to find out that my idea was selected. Cindy has been an inspiration to me, and has been a key influence in my decision to actively support local farmers whenever possible.  

Alta: How did Jacob’s Reward Farm get its start?

Cindy: “Jacob’s Reward” got its start before I even left the suburban life in Plano.  I’ve always loved sheep and longed for a homesteading lifestyle, but for many years we had to tough it out in the composite-roof-privacy-fence jungle.  In order to get as close as I could to the shepherd’s life, I learned to knit, crochet and spin, and I struck a friendship with a local couple who raise Jacob sheep.  I lived the life vicariously through them for several years.  When the opportunity arose to buy 4.5 acres here in Parker, we jumped at it.  And though there have been many significant challenges, we’ve not looked back.  The name “Jacob’s Reward” refers to the story in Genesis when God blessed Jacob with vast herds of sheep and goats as a reward for his years of faithfulness.

Alta: What made you decide that raising sheep, alpacas, and chickens was your calling?

Cindy: I love animals and have always thought a farm would be a dream come true.  Once I learned to knit and spin, it only made sense to raise my own fiber animals.  Chickens and fresh eggs are integral to a farm, and they contribute to a healthy diet.  And chickens are really fun to watch!

Alta: Tell me about a typical day at Jacob’s Reward Farm.

Cindy: I am not a morning person, so I have my animals trained not to expect their breakfast at the crack of dawn.  But my usual round of chores takes about 45 minutes, depending on the weather.  Muddy conditions make everything more complicated.  I give a little grain to the eight sheep on the north end of the property, and hay.  The front yard chickens are released from their coop to wander the property in search of bugs, seeds and various greens.  I feed Smokey the barn cat so that she’s fortified for a day of rodent patrol.  On the south side of the property, I feed my six alpacas and two Jacob sheep, and release three other sets of chickens.  I top off all the water buckets and fill the hay feeders.  I do a similar set of chores morning and evening, ending with locking up the free-range chickens in their coops every night to protect them from predators.  Between sets of chores, I take care of my house and my family, teach classes in my studio, and keep up with my farm supporters on my blog, website, podcast, newsletter and other social media.  I also try to squeeze in some knitting and spinning of my own.  There’s never a dull moment.

Breakfast time!

Breakfast time!

Alta: Tell me about your chickens.

Cindy: I have a handful of breeds of chickens that I have raised from day old chicks.  Right now, the flock numbers around 37 total, though 15 of those are just babies.

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Free-Ranging Buffs

Alta: Why are free-range, farm-raised chickens so much better than even the premium eggs you can purchase at the grocery?

Cindy:  “Free-range” is a buzz word that may or may not mean what the consumer thinks.  It may mean that your pricey grocery store eggs came from chickens who can see outside, or who have access to a tiny concrete slab outside.  My free range chickens do just that.  I let them out in the morning and they have complete freedom to roam the property, resting in the shade of the native landscape plantings or sunning themselves in the herbicide-free lawns.  They gather their own food, following the instinctive promptings God gave them.  I do supplement them with commercial grain to round out their diet.  My eggs don’t sit very long once they’re laid, either.  (Alta’s note: there have been times I’ve arrived and helped Cindy gather a few eggs to fill my dozen – eggs laid just hours earlier. Now that’s fresh!) No telling how old those grocery store eggs are!

Alta: Jacob’s Reward Farm has a new Fiber CSA. Could you tell me a little about this?

Cindy: This is our first year to offer CSA shares, so we are feeling our way a bit, and we are under the mentorship of a highly successful CSA fiber farm in the New York area. As a CSA (community supported agriculture) fiber farm, we sell shares of our fiber harvest roughly based on the amount of fiber we hope to get from this year’s shearing of alpacas and sheep, distributed to a limited number of shareholders.  But just like vegetable CSAs, we can’t guarantee an exact amount of fiber we’ll end up with; there are too many variables involved.  Vegetable farmers call it a “shared risk proposition.”  However, by limiting the number of shareholders, we believe we can safely assure each shareholder of a satisfactory amount of fiber once the distributions are made.  Also, we’ll be processing our fiber only into spinning roving, rather than yarn, because of the extra expense. I do teach spinning, and a spinning lesson and drop spindle are included in the price of the share.  Also, we offer lots of opportunities to come out to the farm and participate in the life and care of the animals, in community-building days where we knit or spin together, shear the sheep, picnic together, or other fun events. A CSA share will not result in “bargain” yarn, but the other included benefits bring the price down well under retail levels.  And many of my shareholders tell me that participation in the Jacob’s Reward Fiber Farm life and community is actually a priceless reward that they would pay for alone, with the fiber as “icing on the cake.”

jacobs reward event 052

Alta: What has been your biggest hurdle to overcome here at the farm?

Cindy: One hurdle we haven’t encountered is lack of interest in what we’re doing.  The response has been fantastic.  There are vibrant knitting and spinning communities in this area who find my fiber irresistible, and I have more egg customers than I can handle at some times of the year.  But since this is my first farming experience, I am learning a lot, and I’m learning every day.  The jobs around here are so varied that there is no excuse for being bored.  The farm also sits on the banks of Maxwell Creek, and heavy rains sometimes bring the water level a little closer to the house than we’d like.  But that hasn’t stopped us.  I’m continually working on ways to deal with lots of water on the place.  The farm is hard work, but it’s the kind of hard work that gives us a delicious, bone-weary sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.

Cindy’s undying optimism, drive, and determination have allowed her to influence a great number of people, including our family. Our kids have loved visiting the chickens, sheep, and alpacas. I’ve enjoyed learning so much about farm life from Cindy, and visiting the farm has brought me a sense of connectedness with the Earth and the changing of seasons.

Of course, making the side trip to pick up eggs at Jacob’s Reward Farm rather than just picking them up at the grocery does take extra time and planning. Depending on the weather and the season, the supply fluctuates. But for us, it’s well worth it. We trade convenience for a lot of worthwhile benefits. Not only are the eggs are fresher, tastier, and better for us, we are choosing to support our local farmers – farmers who practice ethical and sustainable treatment of their animals.

In an effort to celebrate the fresh eggs we’ve received from Jacob’s Reward Farm, I planned a Farm Fresh Egg-Stravaganza dinner for my family. Each dish was carefully planned, so that I could highlight the eggs throughout the entire meal.

The meal began with a small appetizer: Chinese Tea Eggs. These eggs, a typical dish for Chinese New Year, were steeped for 5 hours in a black tea, soy sauce (tamari, actually, so they were gluten-free), cinnamon, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried orange peel. They were gorgeous to peel, and a tasty first bite. I’ll definitely make these again. For the recipe, visit Steamy Kitchen’s beautiful blog.

chinese tea eggs

The second course? Gluten-Free Egg and Pancetta Tarts. I found a lovely tart crust recipe from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, a new cookbook from Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry. The crust was a mixture of almond flour, grapeseed oil, salt, agave nectar, and baking soda. Easy as pie tart! I pre-baked mini-tarts for 8 minutes, and then filled them with scrambled eggs, tomato sauce, sauteed pancetta, and shredded white cheddar, and baked them until the cheese was melted and bubbly. These tarts were tasty, although next time, I think I may add some herbs to the tart crust (Elana has an herbed tart crust recipe in her cookbook as well), which would work to increase the savory taste of the tart.

egg and pancetta tart

Gluten-Free Egg and Pancetta Tarts

1 recipe gluten-free tart crust (recipe from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook)

4 miniature tart pans (I used 5-inch pans)

6 oz pancetta, diced

1 T olive oil

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 c milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c tomato sauce (use seasoned jarred tomato sauce, or your favorite tomato sauce recipe)

1/2 c shredded white cheddar

2 T chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide tart dough into 4 balls, pressing one ball into each tart pan. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden. Remove and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, bring a large saute pan to medium heat. Add pancetta and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is crisp. Remove and set aside.

Add the olive oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium-low. Whisk the eggs and milk together, and pour into pan. Whisk occasionally, and allow to cook until eggs are just set. (Don’t cook all the way – you don’t want the eggs to dry out.) Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

To assemble the tarts: With a spoon, spread a little of the tomato sauce into each tart crust. Top with eggs, and sprinkle cheese and pancetta over. Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle parsley on top as garnish.

Serves 4.

The third course was the most “daring” for me to attempt – Soft Egg Gluten-Free Ravioli. Until yesterday, I had never made handmade pasta, much less gluten-free handmade pasta. I found a pasta recipe from Living Without that sounded promising, so I set out to make my own ravioli. But these ravioli weren’t just “normal” ravioli – inside each of these babies laid an entire, unbroken, sunny egg yolk. In my opinion, these were the ultimate way to celebrate the intense yellow yolks the Jacob’s Reward Farm chickens created.

egg ravioli

The flavor of these ravioli was tasty and rich, especially as they were topped with a white truffle butter sauce. However, I did learn that rolling out pasta by hand is hard – and I ended up leaving the pasta sheets too thick, which resulted in heavy, dense ravioli. Not a perfect dish, but I would definitely try again, using a pasta machine to ensure thin, light pasta. (note to self: put pasta machine on wish list!) These were served with sauteed swiss chard, which was delightful.

Soft Egg Gluten-Free Ravioli, adapted from Living Without and Epicurious.com

For the filling:

1 c whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 egg yolks

1/8 t freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

1/8 t freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta dough (these instructions are for the use of a pasta machine – if you don’t have one, instead use a rolling pin and roll out sheets as thinly as possible.):

½ c tapioca flour or sweet rice flour

½ c cornstarch

⅓ c potato starch or arrowroot

⅓ c fine brown rice flour, more for rolling out

½ t salt

2 T xanthan gum

4 eggs

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 egg yolks

1 egg white, beaten (for egg wash)

For the butter truffle sauce:

1 stick salted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1 T white truffle oil

Mix ricotta, 2 egg yolks, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, and pepper in a small bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

Put the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend using the paddle. In a separate bowl, lightly beat together the 4 eggs and oil.

While the mixer is on, slowly add eggs/oil mixture to dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Dough will be soft like play dough. If it’s not, add water, one tablespoon at a time. Lightly dust your counter with cornstarch. Cut the dough into 8 pieces and cover 7 with a tea towel or plastic wrap.

Lightly dust a piece of dough with rice flour and flatten. Roll through the widest setting of the machine. Continue to roll it through, folding it in half each time and lightly dusting with rice flour if the dough is tacky. Do this until the dough begins to hold together and seems smooth. It may take 5 to 6 times. Then decrease the thickness one notch at a time and roll through until desired thickness is achieved. Cut out a 5-inch circle from parchment paper (or use another tool to measure a 5-inch circle – I used my tart pans), and cut out 16 5-inch circles from pasta dough. 

egg ravioli assembling

Place the ricotta mixture in a pastry bag (or do as I did, place it in a quart-size ziploc bag, and snip a corner off of the bag). In the center of eight of the pasta circles, make a circle with your pastry bag/ziploc bag full of the ricotta mixture, leaving about 3/4 inch from the edge of the pasta, as if you’re creating a nest. Place an egg yolk in the center of your ricotta “nest”. Brush the edges with egg wash. Top with another pasta circle, pressing together to seal the edges. (You can use a pastry wheel or the tines of a fork to seal the edges as well.) Place pasta on a cookie sheet. If layering the pasta, dust it with rice flour. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

To prepare the butter truffle sauce, place the butter and truffle oil in a small saucepan. Bring to medium heat, stirring, until bubbling. Reduce to low, and stir occasionally.

To cook the ravioli, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a dash of salt. Using a slotted spoon, carefully slide into boiling water. Cook until al dente. Fresh pasta cooks in just a few minutes. When the raviolis are done, drain and rinse it under hot water.

To serve, place two raviolis on a plate, and lightly drizzle with butter truffle sauce. Serves 4.

Of course, no “Egg-Stravaganza” would be complete without a dessert. But after the rich ravioli, a light dessert was in order. We enjoyed a pavlova – a lovely light-as-air meringue dessert that is popular in New Zealand. Pavlova has a meringue base, topped with whipped cream, and typically decorated with summer berries and kiwi. Since it’s not berry season, I opted to top it with pear slices, figs, banana, and clementines. It was very likely the best part of the meal – a lightly sweet, fresh, and airy finish to a wonderful evening.

pavlova

Pear, Fig, Banana and Clementine Pavlova, adapted from Saveur.com

4 room-temperature egg whites

pinch of salt

1 c plus 2 T superfine sugar (I placed sugar in my food processor to “pulverize” it)

2 t cornstarch

1 t white vinegar

few drops of vanilla extract

1 c heavy cream

1 banana, peeled and sliced

1 ripe pear, such as a Red Bartlett, peeled and sliced

2 clementines, peeled and sectioned

4 oz Black Mission Figs, quartered

2 T honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then trace a 10-inch circle on the paper. Put egg whites and salt in clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, and beat on medium-low until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until egg whites form stiff but not dry peaks. Gradually add 1 cup sugar while whisking, then increase speed to high and beat until stiff and glossy. Sprinkle cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla over egg whites, then gently fold in.

Fill traced circle with meringue, smoothing top and sides. Put meringue in middle of oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off and leave meringue inside until completely cool, 3-4 hours.

 Remove paper and place meringue on a cake plate. Whip cream and remaining sugar to soft peaks, then pile on top of meringue. Arrange cut fruit over whipped cream, and drizzle with honey. Slice into wedges to serve.

Serves 8-10.

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Filed under Appetizers, Baked goods, Desserts, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pasta