Friendly Feast

Last night my husband and I hosted a potluck dinner at our home. It being February in Toronto, we we...

Last night my husband and I hosted a potluck dinner at our home. It being February in Toronto, we were hit with a dreary and cold day. With a blast of snow, temperatures below freezing and major road closures we began to receive a steady stream of text cancellations. By the time we had all of our dishes in the oven we started to wonder if it would be just the two of us sitting down to a feast of baked pastas, chips and dip, veggies, salads and cheese and chutnies. Lucky for us, six of our bravest friends broke bread with us, and they all brought a dish of their own to share.

It was actually one of the best parties we've ever had. No one came in groups which forced all of us to interact. There was more than enough food for all, everyone took some leftovers and what remained will fill our fridge for this week.

I prepared a few dishes that were hearty enough to feed a chilled crowd. My husband and I made kale and zucchini lasagne with three varieties of goat cheese. I dreamed up a healthy macaroni and cheese dish with goat cheeses and a whole cauliflower hidden in the sauce. I also made a pasta salad which didn't impress me but two out of three successes isn't bad! For dessert I made my famous gluten free chocolate cupcakes.




All of our pastas featured goat cheeses. We used goat ricotta, goat mozzarella, goat gouda and chevre. The goat ricotta we purchased was hard to come by. It isn't sold in a lot of stores in Toronto and virtually nowhere near where we live. Lucky enough for us there was one shop near our house that carried it, but only if you were willing to purchase an absolutely enormous bag of it the size of your head, which we did! What remains of the cheese is now stored in our freezer for future experiments.

I think that the mac and cheese could have used more salt -- it might have been nice to include some feta in the mix. The cupcakes are actually a gluten free fancy box cake mix that I lovingly adapt to my own taste. I add three eggs, olive oil, vanilla rice milk, cinammon, sea salt, vanilla extract and half of a Green and Black's milk chocolate bar melted in coffee to the mix. The result is a dense, truffle like cake which I top with a ganache I prepare from scratch. I chill the cupcakes in our freezer before serving them. Serving them cold enhances their flavor and the density of the cake and ganache. I love this batter so much that I actually made my wedding cake with it!

I hope you give these dishes a try. They are all gluten free and delicious!


Kale and Zucchini Lasagne

 

1 box brown rice lasagne
1/2 jar marinara sauce
1/2 head of organic kale, finely chopped
3 medium organic zucchini, sliced and diced
3 cloves organic garlic, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
black pepper
red onion finely chopped (to your taste)
1 1/4 cups goat ricotta
3 tbsp chevre
1 cup shredded goat mozzarella

Boil the past until it is very al dente, it will continue to cook in the oven. Reserve a 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Saute the garlic and red onion for one minute in the olive oil over medium heat. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl break up the ricotta with a fork and mix in the chevre. Season the ricotta with salt and pepper, a little oil and the reserved cooking liquid.

Assembly:

Grab a large casserole dish or lasagne dish. Spoon a little marinara sauce onto the bottom of the dish and spread evenly over the surface. Layer half the noodles over top ensuring the full surface is covered. Top the noodles with a layer of half the ricotta mixture. Top the ricotta mixture with all of the sauteed zucchini evenly. Top the zucchini layer with all of the chopped kale. Top the kale with half the shredded mozzarella. Top that layer with the remaining noodles evenly. Top the noodles with the half of what remains of the tomato sauce. Top that with the rest of the ricotta mixture. Add the rest of the tomato sauce in spoonfuls. Add what remains of the mozzarella evenly. Drizzle some olive oil over the lasagne and add some freshly cracked black pepper. Bake until the cheese and sauce bubble and the edges. Serve hot.




Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese

 

1 bag of brown rice elbow macaroni
1 cup goat ricotta
100g goat gouda, shredded
1 small package chevre
1/2 small container of 2% greek yogurt
1 small organic cauliflower
sea salt
black pepper
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp feta cheese (optional)


Preheat oven to 350F. Cook the macaroni until just al dente, it will continue to cook in the oven. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

Boil the cauliflower until soft. In a food processor blend the cauliflower, reserved cooking liquid, chevre, yogurt, sea salt, black pepper, garlic and 1 tbsp of olive oil until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl. This can be a sauce or dip all by itself! Its absolutely delicious!

In a medium mixing bowl, break up the ricotta with a fork incorporating 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, the feta and some salt and pepper. In a large casserole dish, mix the cooked pasta with the the ricotta mixture. Add the reserved cauliflower mixture and mix until evenly incorporated. Mix in half the shredded gouda. Using the back of a spoon, press the pasta mixture down in the dish. Top with an even sprinkle of the remaining gouda, a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked black pepper. Bake at 350F until the cheese is melted. Turn up the heat to 400F or broil for a minute or two if you want a browned top. Serve hot.




Frosty Chocolate Cupcakes

 

1 package gluten free chocolate cake mix (I love Pamela's brand)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large eggs
1 cup vanilla rice milk
2 tsp cinammon
dash sea salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 Green and Black's milk chocolate bar
2/3 cup hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350F. Put 22-24 paper cupcake liners into cupcake pans.

Finely chop the chocolate and place in a small bowl. Add the hot coffee and mix until chocolate is melted.

In a large mixing bowl, blend all remaining ingredients and the chocolate mixture together with a hand mixer on low speed. Make sure that it is all mixed well. Pour mixture into prepared cupcake liners and fill each 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes until they are puffed up and a fork comes out clean when pricked, roughly for 15-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for at least half an hour before frosting.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 of a Green and Black's milk chocolate bar
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
dash sea salt
2 tbsp vanilla rice milk
1 tsp cinammon
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt all ingredients together, stirring constantly. When mixture is totally smooth and glossy, turn off the heat. Spoon a small amount of ganache onto each cupcake and spread out over the top with the back of the spoon to top evenly. Store cupcakes in freezer until ready to serve.




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