A Hot Pockets dream come true

It has been a long-held dream of mine to make gluten-free hot pockets. I can’t even remember why anymore. (It’s sort of like what happened at the conclusion of the Great Dutch Oven Quest.) I’ve never even eaten a hot pocket of the Hot Pocket ™ variety. (Because, EW.) But the dream persists nonetheless.

(awesome image by n8less)

I’m really not a savory baker. (A baker of savory things? I like to think that I myself am fairly savory. If “savory” is the opposite of “unsavory.”) I don’t bake much bread – I’ve never baked a loaf of gluten-free yeast bread in my life. But I really like this idea of having a freezer full of hand-pies, delicious little meals that are all packaged up in their own goodness, waiting to be brought back to life by the toaster oven. I just had no realistic idea of how to make this dream come true.

So when a friend showed me his newly purchased copy of Flying Apron’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Baking Book, and I thumbed through and saw they had recipes for several different kinds of “apron pockets” I got super excited and ran to reserve the book from the library. Many months later, my name had worked its way to the top of the reserve list and a copy of the cookbook landed in my hot little hands. After a few nights of contemplation and one trip to the farmer’s market, I knew what I wanted to put in my pockets. The actual project went smoothly (I even tracked down my never-used rolling pin!) – the filling was just the right amount for the pockets, and the dough held its integrity while being folded and crimped. I popped them in the oven and when they emerged I could scarcely believe my eyes. There they were, the hot pockets of my dreams! And let me tell you – these babies taste SO good they almost didn’t make it to my freezer.

The Flying Apron pockets call for cooking up a delicious sauce and a yummy filling and then folding these into a disc of dough made using the bakery’s eponymous Flying Apron House Bakery Bread. The bread recipe is the bakery’s signature recipe so, as I did with The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook’s brownie recipe, I am going to refrain from posting it here. I will assure you, however, that it makes a terrific hot pocket wrapper. (Though I would add a bit of salt or herbs to the dough as the texture is great but the flavor is a bit bland.)

I will tell you how to make the filling I chose and how to assemble and bake your pockets. And I’ll be delighted to hear how it goes if you try a different GF dough for the wrappers. I am so baking-ignorant that I have no idea if there are special requirements to make a bread dough serve double duty as a pocket-wrapper.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Hot Pockets

Pocket dough:
1 batch of gluten-free, vegan yeasted bread dough

Roasted Eggplant Caponata (adapted slightly from GF Goddess’s Eggplant Tapenade)
1 large or 2 smallish eggplants
Sea salt
1/2 red onion
5 cloves garlic
2 large tomatoes
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Dried oregano, thyme, marjoram
1/2 cup cured pitted olives (like Kalamata, Nicoise etc., not black olives)
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon or more chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400.
Peel your eggplants and cut them lengthwise into slices about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle them with sea salt and set them aside to let the salt leach out bitterness from the eggplants.
Chop the onion and garlic into large pieces and quarter the tomatoes.
After 10-15 minutes of sitting with the salt, the eggplant should be exuding moisture. Blot with a paper towel and then cut the slices into rough chunks.
In a large bowl, toss the eggplant, onion, garlic, and tomatoes with good-sized glugs of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with the dried herbs. Stir to coat.
Line a roasting pan with parchment paper (or oil the inside) and put the eggplant, onion, garlic, and tomatoes into the pan. Face the tomatoes cut side up.
Roast in the oven until the eggplant is very tender – this should take an hour or more. Remove from oven and let the veggies cool.
Put the eggplant mixture into a food processor with the olives, pulse until the mixture is mostly pureed. It doesn’t need to be completely smooth.
Mix in capers and chopped parsley. Taste test for seasoning adjustments- more salt? Vinegar? Olive oil? Some pepper? Cover and chill until serving.

Mushroom, Spinach, and Navy Bean Filling (adapted from Flying Apron’s Vegan and Gluten-Free Baking Book)
1 T. olive oil
1 medium red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz. crimini, baby bella or white button mushrooms, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
1 T. finely chopped fresh basil
1 t. dried oregano, plus more for sprinkling the pockets
1 t. dried rosemary, plus more for sprinkling the pockets
1/2 t. dried thyme, plus more for sprinkling the pockets
1 15 oz. can navy beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 23 cup cooked navy beans)
5 oz. frozen spinach (half a bag), thawed
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the red onion and sauté until slightly brown, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and herbs (fresh basil, dried oregano, thyme, rosemary) and cook, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. The mushrooms will have started to soften and release their juices. Add the navy beans and stir to combine. Stir in the frozen spinach (it’s okay if it is still a little frozen) and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 7 more minutes.

Assembling the pockets:
Make dough, sauce, and filling. (I made the sauce a day ahead so it wasn’t such a time-consuming process.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Take balls of your bread dough and roll them out on a countertop sprinkled with brown rice flour or other gluten-free flour. You want 6-inch circles of dough that are fairly thin but still hold together – the thickness of the discs will depend on the composition of your dough.
Spread a large spoonful Eggplant Caponata over the circle, leaving a 1-inch margin around the perimeter of the dough. On one half of the circle, spread 1/2 cup of filling.
Using a large spatula or your hand (again, depending on how delicate your dough is), bring the other half of the dough up and over the filling. Seal the edges by crimping with your fingers.
Carefully transfer the pockets to a well-oiled baking sheet. Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle each pocket with dried herbs.
Bake until the thickest part of the pocket is firm and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. This took more like 45 minutes for me.
Eat and enjoy your hot, savory deliciousness!

Socca it to me!

I know, I know, terrible pun. I really couldn’t resist. Usually I exhibit much more restraint.

So the other day I was starving and having one of those “Waah, there’s nothing to eat!” days. What I did have, however, was a copy of The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook by Cybele Pascal, which is subtitled “How to bake without gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame.” I reserved this book from the library after I bought two gluten-free baking books and found their recipes nearly impossible to convert to vegan. Flipping through the book I saw good pantry lists and and substitution advice as well as yummy-sounding recipes, from muffins and scones to brownies and cupcakes to several different kinds of yeast bread.

Tucked in amongst the recipes for savory baked goods (this is a smaller section than I would have liked, since I tend to prefer the savory side) I found a recipe for “Socca de Nice,” or Mediterranean chickpea-flour crepes. Chickpea flour, while an esoteric flour for most cooks to have in their pantries, is a pretty standard staple for us gluten-free bakers. The recipe was simple and fast, used ingredients I had on hand, and on top of all that I’ve been curious about socca for years but had never tried one.

I whisked together the very brief list of ingredients, heated my cast-iron skillet in the oven, and swirled out a crepe to bake. These are not crepes as I tend to imagine them – something very thin and flexible that you can fold around something else. These are firm and a bit thick, very toothsome. The recipe recommends cutting them into wedges, and that’s exactly the sort of thing socca seems to want to become – nice sturdy wedges drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper, eaten hot immediately out of the oven. They have a very mild “beany” flavor (I used garfava flour, which contains both chickpeas and fava beans, so that might be why) that works wonderfully with their savory, hearty taste and mouthfeel. These would make a great easy base for a pizza-style dish (especially good for “top your own pizza” nights where everyone else is using a pre-baked wheat pizza crust – socca batter takes much less work than pizza dough but would make a satisfying flatbread-type base).

I enjoyed my socca plain and with two fast, easy toppings from my beloved Moosewood Cooks at Home: olive tapenade and creamy, garlicky butter beans. They were delicious and incredibly filling – my mouth was begging me to keep eating long after my stomach was pleading for me to stop!

Socca de Nice
from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook by Cybele Pascal

1 1/2 cups cold water
3 tablespoons olive oil*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon cumin
High-heat cooking oil like super canola oil, super safflower, avocado (I used peanut oil since I don’t have a nut allergy)

Preheat oven to 550 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together water, olive oil, and salt.

Add chickpea flour, a little at a time, whisking in completely. Stir in cumin. Whisk for about a minute. You want this batter smooth! Add a little more water if it seems too thick – you want it thin like crepe batter.

Preheat an 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven, 4-5 minutes. Remove (with an oven mitt or potholder, it will be HOT!). Put a little high-heat oil in the pan and swirl it around to coat. Then, working quickly, add a heaping 1/2 cup of the batter to the pan, swirling it around to fill the pan in an even layer.

Put pan in oven and cook 5-7 minutes, till browned a bit around the edges. Remove from oven. Flip. It should be golden brown on the bottom. Remove to plate, add a little more oil to the pan, another 1/2 cup batter and cook, and so on.

This recipe makes 4 socca, ie 4 servings. Eat hot. You can cut it into wedges and dip it into olive oil, or drizzle olive oil on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

* to add herbal flavor, you my heat 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs like rosemary or thyme in the olive oil for 2 minutes over medium heat. Let the olive oil cool before making recipe.

You may also make these on the stove top. Pascal says she likes the texture slightly better in the oven, but the stove top is much quicker. To do so, heat your cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add a little olive oil. Once hot, add batter. Cook about 1 minute, flip, cook 1 minute more. Remove from pan.

Gigondes (creamy, garlicky beans)
from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

1 1/2 cups drained canned gigondes, butter beans, or giant lima beans (14-oz can)
1 T. olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 T. minced fresh parsley or basil (I used 1 t. dried parsley)
1/2 C. Creamy Garlic Dressing (recipe follows)

Gently rinse beans and drain. Place drained beans in a bowl, sprinkle with olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, and 1/2 cup dressing. Mix gently with a wooden spoon. Store refrigerated up to 3 days, serve at room temperature.

Creamy Garlic Dressing
(this dressing is also amazing over warm polenta!)

1 1/2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/4 C. plus 2 T. olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 T. chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 t. dried)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 C. soy milk

Put the garlic, oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper into a blender or food processor and whir for a couple of seconds. With the blender still running, slowly add the soy milk, whirling until the dressing is thick and smooth. Covered and refrigerated, this dressing will keep for at least a week.
Makes 3/4 cup.

Olive Tapenade
from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

2 1/2 cups drained pitted black olives (2 6-oz cans)
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 T. pine nuts
1-2 T. extra-virgin olive oil

In a food processor or blender, whirl the olives with the garlic, pine nuts, and 1 T. of the olive oil until mixture is somewhat smooth. (It’s okay if some of the pine nuts remain whole.) If mixture is too stiff, add remaining olive oil.

Makes 2 cups. Covered and refrigerated, this spread should keep for about a week. It is best served at room temperature.

We’ll never go beanless again ~ The Steady Pulse Round-Up

Last month I invited all of you to help me to conquer my beanphobia by sending in your tried-and-true, tested and approved recipes for beans, lentils, dried peas, chick peas, and other pulses. I asked for recipes that were easy to make, made with common ingredients, and that you make and enjoy regularly, and I was thrilled to hear back from so many bean mentors and legume masters! These recipes will keep Duck and I enjoying nutritious, non-scary bean and legume meals for months to come! Read on for recipe inspiration and mouthwatering photos! Continue reading

Still crazy for pulses on a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

This week’s menu plan is sort of half-retroactive and half-hopeful. We get our CSA box on Wednesday so we’ve been trying to make our menu plan then, but I didn’t make it to the store for the rest of the stuff we needed until Thursday, so the whole week’s plan got moved to Friday. So this is the ghost of menus past, present and future.

Tangy red lentils over salad greens

We have another menu that’s heavy on the beans and lentils. We just can’t get enough! So cheap, so filling, such good protein and nutrients. We’ll get bored soon with the recipes in our own repertoire, though, so I hope there will be some great recipes in the Steady Pulse beans & legume recipe round-up!

This week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap is hosted by the lovely Cheryl of Gluten-Free Goodness. The theme for the menu swap this week is apples, and I don’t have any in my dinner plans, but we’ve certainly been crunching along all week long on the delicious first-crop apples that arrived in our CSA box! For millions more menu plans, check out the giant Menu Plan Monday compendium over at Orgunkie.

I usually do a little “mash-up” photo of some of the food from the menu plan to act as a header, but this week, for fun and inspiration, I give you the full-size experience!

Nasu dengaku (broiled eggplant with miso)
Steamed bok choy with pickled ginger
Sloppy sushi with avocado

Nasu Dengaku - Broiled Japanese Eggplant with Miso Sauce

Nasu Dengaku - Broiled Japanese Eggplant with Miso Sauce


GF Mac and cheese (or “cheeze”) with green beans, tomatoes, and kidney beans

Cumin-crusted potatoes (5 Spices, 50 Dishes)
Punjabi creamed greens with kale and chard (5 Spices, 50 Dishes) (made with soy yogurt)

Creamed Greens (chard and spinach)

Punjabi Creamed Greens (kale and chard)


Lentil dal (5 Spices, 50 Dishes)
Home-cooked cranberry beans
Dandelion greens with walnuts and raisins
Chocolate pumpkin loaf (made without eggs)

Sweet potato and kale soup with fennel seeds
Pamela’s drop biscuits

Sweet Potato and Kale Soup with Fennel Seed

Sweet Potato and Kale Soup with Fennel Seed

Tangy red lentils
Roasted broccoli with pine nuts and lemon zest
Brown rice

Tinkyada brown rice spirals with vegan pesto, roast zucchini, tomatoes

Gluten-free spirals with vegan pesto, zucchini, and tomato

Gluten-free spirals with vegan pesto, zucchini, and tomato

Don’t forget to send in your favorite tried and true recipes for beans, lentils, and other legumes and pulses!