Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Things are always changing at my house.....where the furniture is placed, where my art hangs, a new twist on an old favorite recipe......and French Onion Soup was next in line. However, this is a good new version.  Don't be concerned that there's goat cheese and Greek cream cheese in place of the traditional Parmesan, you may like this better as well.
I hope you enjoy....and of course, it's always nightshade free. 

Always a favorite at our house, this soup is better the next day
and freezes well.   (If there's leftovers?)                       Serves 6-8
Stick of butter
8-9 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 quart of beef stock
1 quart of chicken stock
½ cup Madeira sherry, or to taste
Salt, black and white peppers, to taste
3-4 tablespoons dried Italian herb mix
½ cup softened goat cheese, cut in pieces
½ cup softened Greek cream cheese, cut in pieces
                    2 slices of bread or 2 rolls (cut in half), 
                       topped with cheese for each bowl
                    1 lemon reserved

Optional:  If you prefer a thicker soup, mix
2 tablespoons cornstarch with ¼ cup water, 
add and simmer a few minutes more.

Place butter and onions, in large stock pot. Bring to medium high heat. SautĂ© onions for approximately 20-30 minutes, stirring often, until translucent.  Add  beef and chicken stocks, or use either stock doubled.  Add Madeira
sherry, salt, both peppers, and herb mix.  Simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings, including herbs. Add juice of ½ lemon and cheeses, blending well. Simmer a few additional minutes. When ready to serve, spread one or both cheeses on bread slices or split rolls, and toast. Ladle soup into serving bowls and float toasted bread in each.  Slightly submerge cheese toast into soup. Serve hot.

Nightshade free

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

PAELLA...........SUCH A VERSATILE DISH.............


This dish was inspired from a Daily Camera, Boulder, Colorado, recipe created by Dakota Soifer of CafĂ© Aion, December, 2012.  I wanted a paella to serve on Christmas Eve, however the original recipe contained several nightshades.  After a few additions and omissions, a nightshade free paella was born and Christmas Eve dinner was a success.  Preserved lemon replaces tomatoes in this recipe and adds acidity.                                        Serves 5-6.
Olive oil to cover bottom of pan (1/2 inch)
                    1 cup leek, minced
                    1 medium onion, chopped
4-6  garlic cloves, minced
10-12 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup celery, diced
1 ½  cup carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup black or other favorite olive, sliced
1 cup Spanish rice or similar other small grain rice
                     2/3 cup preserved lemons, minced
A large pinch saffron
2 teaspoons turmeric
½ cup white wine or dry vermouth
1-2 qts. chicken stock, or more as needed
White pepper, to taste
(Little to no salt if using salted preserved lemons)
1 ½  cup frozen green peas
Fresh Italian parsley, minced (and/or green onions)
Drizzle olive oil, to finish (optional)

In a large flat skillet or paella pan, add olive oil 1/2 inch deep. Raise temperature to medium high, add leek, onion, garlic, mushrooms, celery, carrots and olives. Cook until garlic is translucent and vegetables become al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Layer rice over vegetable mixture, tossing until rice becomes a beautiful golden brown, about 5-8 minutes (this is referred to as the golden moment). Add a splash of olive oil, if the mixture becomes dry.  Add preserved lemon, saffron, and turmeric mixing well.  If needed raise heat, then add ½ cup white wine or dry vermouth in pan; combine ingredients.  Distribute rice mixture, shaking pan. After this action, please do not move the rice until finished, but be careful not to burn. Begin to ladle chicken stock around the edges of the rice, carefully not to disturb the rice. Repeating this process may take up to 30-45 minutes for the rice to absorb necessary liquid. (When done, the rice should be tender, but not sticky.)  Season paella with white pepper, as desired.  Add frozen green peas, fresh parsley and/or green onions, and mix well to cook, over low heat.  Top with cooked seafood or chicken, before serving.  Note:  The paella can be prepared about an hour before serving, but when doing this, leave the rice   more firm as it will puff-up as it sits. Partially cover only. 

Note:  A favorite way to serve paella is to top with crispy roasted chicken wings.  Toss wings in olive oil and season well, or season with  nightshade free dry rub which pares well with the paella.

Nightshade free
Gluten free
Lactose free

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Traditional split-pea soup has been a long-time favorite at our house, but this version adds a bit of pizzazz with the addition of buttermilk, Madeira sherry, and a couple cheeses that blend nicely.

16 oz. dried split peas
1 whole onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic clovers, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
3-4 whole carrots, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup fresh parsley
1 quart chicken stock
¼ cup Madeira sherry
   (or ¼ cup dry vermouth)
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup goat cheese, softened
2-3 tablespoons Greek cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons dried Italian herb mix
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
Wash and drain the split peas and set aside.  In a large pan with lid, saute the onion and garlic in about 2 tablespoons olive oil, until translucent.  Add carrots, parsley, chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer and cook for approximately 25 minutes or until peas are tender. Then add the Madeira,  buttermilk, cheeses, and dried herbs.  Simmer until the cheese have blended well.  Add salt and pepper to taste with the lemon juice. Adjust seasonings.  (Madeira adds a bit of sweetness to the soup, but if preferred dry vermouth adds a pleasing flavor. Add water for desired consistency.)
Nightshade free
Gluten free

Monday, February 6, 2017

QUICK PRESERVED LEMONS...................

As some of you know, preserved lemons are a staple in my kitchen. My original recipe, which I have enjoyed for years, has been the "go to" for all kinds of foods: fish, Moroccan and Spanish dishes, many vegetarian choices, stews and soups, and the list goes on. The lemons just add a kick to my cooking choices that no other ingredient offers.  However recently, I was getting ready to make a paella and realized I had about 3 small slices of preserved lemons in the refrigerator. Panic of course was my first response as I need 1 1/2 cups minced, but then decided to try something that basically made sense. Here's my very quick preserved lemon recipe which surprised and delighted me. My original recipe takes about 45 minutes to prepare and five days to cure before use.  This new version, takes about 8-10 minutes and it's ready to use. 
This is a no-brain-er!

1.  Wash 3 lemons, trim both ends slightly, and cut in rounds.
2.  In a large skillet, add extra virgin olive oil about 1/4 inch deep.
3.  Arrange a layer of the lemon slices in the olive oil and sprinkle
     with a ample coating of sea or kosher salt.
4.  Saute for about 4 minutes on each side or until supple. Remove to a clean          container with tight cover (do not drain) and cook any remaining lemons            slices.    
5.  When cool, pour remaining olive oil and salt over the lemons and refrigerate.      Lemons will keep for a couple months, if they last that long! 

Let me know what you think, but this version is not only a time saver in preparation, but actually uses much less salt and olive oil.  It's a winner in my book.

Be well and pain free with nightshade cooking!

Friday, February 3, 2017


One of the things I'd  missed most about being nightshade-free is barbecue which is normally packed with nightshade seasonings.  However, the spicy dry rub that I created several years ago, has saved the day in my kitchen.  We now enjoy smoked ribs, barbecue chicken, wings, pork, etc. without causing any pain or discomfort from what we are eating.  I even have friends who say they prefer my rub over commercial rubs that contain cayenne pepper and paprika.  

My brother Teddy Burnett, an amazing barbecue chef in Southeast Missouri, suggested that I mix my ingredients (on pulse) in a blender to heighten the flavors. He was right and the taste has greatly improved. Thank you, Brother!

Here's the recipe and I hope you'll try it. You can also mix the rub in apple cider vinegar with a little olive oil to make a sauce for barbecuing or a marinade.

When marinating meat or poultry,  baste with add olive oil and vinegar before applying  rub.  The olive oil is a must! As you know, black and white peppers are not nightshades, but a distant cousin. 

3 tablespoon coarse black pepper
3-4 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoon garlic powder
3 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoon Italian herb mix  (or dried oregano)
2 tablespoon black peppercorn  (crushed)
2-3 teaspoons white pepper (more for extra heat)
2-3 teaspoons turmeric
2-3 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons ground ginger

Mix ingredients well in a blender to crush the black peppercorn to a finer spice. Use the pulse button.  This recipe doubles or triples easily. Store in a tightly sealed container. 

So happy grilling.....spring and summer are just around the corner!

Be well,


Thursday, February 2, 2017


Earlier today, I enjoyed a delicious Chinese dish at PF Chang, in Franklin, Tennessee.  As I often do, I explained to the waiter that I'm allergic (or actually have a toxic reaction) to nightshade foods that causes great pain in my hands. She sent her manager over to our table, who was terrific. He'd not heard of nightshade sensitives, but explained his chef was very familiar with this problem and would carefully prepare my luncheon selection so it would be totally free of nightshade, even washing the wok to prevent cross-contamination. You can bet, I'll go back to PF Chang and tell my friends. The manager explained they are very careful with gluten, lactose, etc. but seemed to appreciate learning about nightshades as well.  In reality, I've found most restaurants very helpful and courteous about helping with the nightshade issue, and I feel it's my job to spread the word. For those of you with nightshade or other food sensitivities, I hope you are finding the same excellent service and reception that I found at PF Chang today.
Happy Dining Out!


poached pears with blueberry reduction


I've avoided sugar for many years, maybe 17, and I'm always looking for desserts that are satisfying and pretty, but are basically sugar free.  Agave is a good choice for me, because the sweetness from agave doesn't trigger my appetite for more sweets, that regular sugar does. This pear recipe is interesting because of the blueberry reduction, pretty with so much color and texture, and a surprise finish I discovered recently, that adds a bit more flavor. Check this out!  (6 servings)

Wash 3 large pears, cut in half and remove center spine, creating a small indentation. 
In a large skillet with lid, add:
2 cups of water
splash dry vermouth or white wine
3-4 tablespoons agave
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Bring to a boil and add pears, cut side down. Cover with lid and cook over medium high for about 4 minutes. Turn pears over and repeat for 4 minutes. Use a pick to determine when done.  Remove pears, raise heat to reduce liquid to a golden thick syrup.  Set aside.

While the pears are cooking. add to a small skillet:
3 cups frozen blueberries
1/3 cup agave, or more as needed
3-4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons butter

Cook blueberries until liquid is reduced. Taste for desired sweetness and add additional agave if needed.  Set aside. 

Place pears on individual dessert plates. Drizzle the first reduction from cooking the pears over the pears (this finish adds additional color and flavor), then add a spoonful of the blueberry reduction in the indention on each pear.  Garnish with a sprig of mint and serve.

Happy Cooking Nightshade Free!