Gluten-Free Noodle Kugel

Gluten-Free Noodle Kugel

Gluten-Free Noodle Kugel

Rice Noodles, Eggs, Ricotta, Cottage Cheese, Sour Cream, Cinnamon, Sugar
Golden Raisins, Cherries, Cranberries, Blueberries, Apricots

Perhaps you were one of the 85,000 people or the 3,500 vendors attending Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center last weekend? Maybe you had the opportunity to try gluten-free, organic, plant-based protein pastas by Explore Cuisine?

It was my honor and pleasure for the fourth year in a row to cook gluten-free pasta dishes to sample the crowds for my friends at Explore Cuisine. Among the most unique and quite popular was my gluten-free noodle kugel. Can I go out on a limb and gather that none of the other 3,500 vendors served a kugel?

Kugel is a beloved sweet Jewish dairy casserole that originated in Europe hundreds of years ago;  traditionally made with egg noodles, eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, and raisins. It is baked and dusted with cinnamon.

Explore Cuisine Brown Rice Fusilli is a kosher-certified,  gluten-free, whole grain pasta made in Italy of just two ingredients; organic brown rice and organic pea protein.

Kugel and rice noodles were a match made in heaven for those with gluten intolerance…those who are fans of original lokshen kugel and those who had never ever heard of kugel, all enjoyed this luscious gluten-free version.

Gluten-Free Noodle Kugel Recipe

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Egg Foo Young

Egg Foo Young, Shiitake Gravy

Egg Foo Young with Mung Bean Sprouts, Pork, and Scallions
Shiitake Gravy

It’s a nostalgic American egg dish borne of Chinese ancestry, one similar to the Italian frittata filled with vegetables and sometimes meat (but no cheese). Here, it’s cooked with a bit more oil than a frittata in order to conjure up the original deep-fried version of Egg Foo Young invented by resourceful Chinese immigrants to California during the Gold Rush.

Ten years ago I posted my Egg Foo Young recipe. A recipe that is still #trending today. Growing up, on most Sunday nights that I can remember, we would drive with our Dad to pick-up Chinese take-out for dinner. I loved that exotic deep-fried thick pancake then and still do…but what was it exactly?

I thought, of course Egg Foo Young was made with eggs. But it didn’t taste like any eggs that I was familiar with. It was oddly brown and mysteriously kind of crunchy. And who serves eggs with gravy, anyway? Gravy is for turkey.

Mom thoroughly enjoyed a Chinese cooking class back in the 60s and learned, among other wonderful things, that broccoli should be served bright green and crisp, not olive green and mushy. But “mung bean sprouts” did not show up in our home any other time except Sunday nights. The sprouts were also an ingredient in beef chop suey, another of our Sunday night favorites.

Recently I told my brother that I was writing about Egg Foo Young and asked if he had any recollection of it from our youth. He said, “Yes, loved egg foo young. Now I think it is too bland, but I order it anyway; because of the memories.”

Ok then, Donny, here is my updated Egg Foo Young recipe with wholesome ingredients reinvented from our past, it’s less greasy than the take-out version we remember because it is cooked in a pan, not deep-fried. It’s savory and evocative of Sunday nights long ago, and anything but bland.

Egg Foo Young Recipe

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Mexican Hot Chocolate with Molinillo

Mexican Hot Chocolate with Molinillo

Chocolate Caliente Mexicano
Chile de Arbol, Canela, Vainilla

Sweet and spicy, warm and frothy, authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate couldn’t be more delightful or welcome on a chilly winter’s day.

Spicy hot chiles de arbol and aromatic cinnamon sticks are simmered in a pot of hot milk for about ten minutes, then removed. Luxurious dark chocolate granules along with vanilla extract are stirred into the spiced milk until the chocolate has completely melted. A molinillo (Mexican whisk) is placed into the pot and rotated between the palms in a twisting motion to create espuma (froth).

The molinillo is hand carved from solid wood and burnt to create artistic darker shades by artisans in Mexico.

The elite ancient peoples of Mexico would ceremoniously pour their chocolate drinks from one cup to another to create a froth in which the spirit of the drink was said to lie.

Ingredients for Two Mugs of Mexican Hot Chocolate:

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Chicken Chorizo Stew with Baby Greens

Chicken Chorizo Stew with Baby Greens

Chicken Chorizo Stew
Baby Spinach, Kale, and Chard

A golden roux with lots of vegetables and kidney beans is the backdrop for this southern-style Chicken Chorizo Stew. This gumbo-esque meal is hearty but not thick. Instead of okra and sassafras, it is chock full of baby greens – spinach, kale, and chard. It’s served with steamed brown rice on the side. A splash of vinegary Crystal Louisiana Hot Sauce adds zippy notes and brightens the flavors.

Chicken Chorizo Stew with Baby Greens Recipe

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Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche

Crimini Mushroom Soup

Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche

I’m a bit embarrassed to showcase three hot soups in a row because the weather this winter in Southern California has been absolutely beautiful.

Yes, we would love more rain for our thirsty environment, but we keep seeing sunny 70°F + days… week after week. So, my Chicago family and friends and everyone Back East with shovels in hand, I am dedicating these three soups to you. Stay warm kids!

The crimini mushroom, also known as baby bella, is actually a young portobella. They are earthy and more flavorful than common white button mushrooms, therefore an excellent choice for mushroom soup. When paired with velvety rich and tangy crème fraîche, the result is a heavenly bowl of warming potage, no matter the outside temperature.

Soup #3

Crimini Mushroom Soup with Crème Fraîche

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Curried Red Lentil Soup

Curried Red Lentil Soup

Curried Red Lentil Soup
Tomato, Coconut Milk, Lime, Cilantro
Frizzled Shallots

I never met an Ottolenghi recipe that I didn’t like. And Curried Red Lentil Soup is no exception. The Israeli-British chef describes his soup as “healthy and hearty, spicy and straightforward, frugal and fragrant in equal measure.”

He touted his svelte recipe as an antidote to rich holiday foods…but since those holidays are now a distant memory, I’m garnishing with a generous topping of irresistible crispy fried shallots.

Curried Lentil Soup with Tomato and Coconut Recipe

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