Low-FODMAP Pineapple Salsa


I was expecting company last week and had meant to do some baking but the week had just gone from hectic to all-out-insane and I just couldn’t summon the will to turn on the oven. Still, I wanted to offer my guests something so I figured I’d just pick up some nice cheese on the way home and call it done.

Until, that is, I got a hankering for something a little more tropical and came up with this:


Low-FODMAP Pineapple Salsa

1 c diced tomatoes
1 c diced pineapples
1/2 c sliced green onion tops
1/4 c chopped cilantro*
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ready to serve. Good for about 3 days or so.

If you like more heat in your salsa you can, by all means, add a diced jalapeno or other peppers to the mix. Not knowing the heat tolerance of my guests and wanting something a bit on the milder side I left it out. And if you’re in a hurry, many of these items can be found in your local grocery store already chopped and ready to go!

I served it with tortilla chips, of course, but the leftovers made amazing nachos with a bit of shredded cheese and some avocado crema on top!

*Cilatro or Culantro?

When I was picking up said supplies, I needed some cilantro but didn’t really want to buy an entire bunch as I knew most of it would likely go to waste. Dried wasn’t really an option for this sort of preparation, so I was looking among the smaller packages up on the top shelf and found a pouch of Culantro which I mistook for cilantro until I noticed the leaves were actually long, flat blades about an inch wide or so. The packaging mentioned that it had the same flavor as culantro but was hardier–making it a better crop for gardens and a better staple in the fridge.

Preparing this for the salsa I noticed the same taste and flavor as cilantro but the texture was incredibly different. It was more of  a crisp leaf that shattered almost as much as it sliced, and had a crunchiness almost like bay leaves. Still, sliced thin enough and once it’s macerated a bit with the pineapple et al. it’s perfectly fine.

Pretzel Success, Chemistry Fail


As I mentioned last week, I finally gave in to my intentions of making pretzel bread over the weekend and, let me tell you, it’s definitely too easy to make. As in, I could make a batch every weekend without allotting much time and that’s dangerous.

But before I get into the specifics, I need to tell you how this whole thing got started.

On one of the digital scrapbooking forums I frequent, there was a thread about football foods, and a picture was posted of some doughnut-hole acorns made by dipping the top of a doughnut hole into Nutella, and then rolling them in chopped nuts or chocolate sprinkles. Finished off with a pretzel stick stem, they do sorta look like tasty acorns.

I thought, I can do that!

But I also wondered what sort of savory applications this illusion food technique could apply to. Someone suggested mini-corndogs, so that was a definite option, but I thought if I made mini pretzel rolls, dipped them in a cheese & mustard dip (I was thinking more like a fondue, but it turns out there’s a standard pretzel dip that more than fits the bill), and then rolled the tops in crumbled bacon, it’d be quite a hearty snack for that weekend’s game.

So of course I did all three.

Corndog, Doughnut, and Pretzel Acorns

(sorry about the glare, I was going for easy clean-up and the foil didn’t play nice with the camera)

Rather than re-post other people’s recipes, here are the 2 I used for the homemade portions of this project:

Bretzel Rolls (Bavarian Pretzel Sandwich Rolls) from food.com

Cheese and Mustard Dipping Sauce from countryliving.com

Both of these recipes are simple and straight-forward. I made the pretzel rolls as directed but I divided each of the 12 pieces of dough into 3, for 36 mini rolls. I did change one other part of the pretzel recipe, and that’s where the other half of my title comes in…

Pretzel bread isn’t really that different from any other yeast bread, it’s how they’re cooked that make them pretzels. Like bagels, the pretzels are first poached or par-boiled before baking to give them the chewy exterior. Unlike bagels, however, the water for poaching pretzels gets baking soda added to it, which gives it that distinctive flavor.

I decided, however, that using plain water was boring. Why not use something a little more flavorful, I thought, so for the 2 quarts of poaching liquid, I started off with 12 oz of beer, then made up the rest with water. Sure, once the liquids came to a boil it foamed up a bit (unanticipated consequence number 1), but that was easy to deal with.

It was when I had to add the baking soda to the boiling liquid that I discovered unanticipated consequence number 2.

Who remembers their science classes on combining vinegar and baking soda to make a volcano? The acid in the vinegar reacts with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to create carbon dioxide (and some other things), i.e. bubbles. Did you know that beer also contains an acid? Alpha acids, to be specific, found in the hop plants.

Yes, In the midst of making bagels, I made a beer-cano, too.

Alas, there are no pictures of this debacle as I was too busy trying to get the spewing pot from the stove to the sink. In fact, I’m lucky there are pictures of any of the process as my camera was on the counter between points A and B–I’m still cleaning off bits of baking soda out of the lens, but the camera appears to have escaped otherwise unharmed.

And speaking of unharmed, turns out baking soda can be used to treat burns. Which might account for the fact that two fingers on my left hand got doused in boiling, bubbling over water/beer/soda mixtures and only got a little red and puffy, didn’t blister, and were totally fine by the time I went to bed. So I suppose you could call that 2 crises averted, though I could have avoided the whole thing if I’d just given half a thought to the chemical make-up of what I was doing!

At any rate, the pretzels eventually got their dunking in the bicarb’ed water (with remnants of beer) and then baked to a golden brown.

Pretzel Rolls fresh from the oven

They were delicious. So delicious I was a little concerned I was going to eat them all before I could transform them into their acorn disguises!

Enough survived my carb-lust, however, and they made excellent appetizers for Sunday’s game, even if they weren’t as acorn-y as the mini-corndog versions.

MiniCorndog Acorns

mini corndogs, dipped in mustard-cheese dip, and rolled in crushed pretzel sticks

Pretzel Acorns

pretzel bread, dipped in mustard-cheese dip, and rolled in crumbled bacon

Doughnut-hole acorns

doughnut holes, dipped in Nutella, and rolled in chocolate sprinkles

I’d heated the Nutella spread on the stove before starting to dip the doughnut holes, but even then it got clumpy and lumpy pretty quick as the glaze from the doughnuts got mixed in. Unglazed or cake-style doughnut holes might hold up a bit better to this treatment.

And, then, from the just-because-it’s-there file:

doughnut acorns with nutella and bacon

I had leftover bacon crumbles and figured what the hell, right? When first dipped, though, the Nutella totally overpowered the bacon, but once they’d had a chance to sit out for a bit, the flavors equalized and it wasn’t half bad. Not something I’d be seeking out in the future, but I can see why some people are all over the bacon and chocolate craze.


What To Serve Before the Turkey?


Tis the season for roasting turkey and serving it up with all of the trimmings. But what, if anything, comes before it?

Back when we would gather for a 1 or 2 o’clock dinner it was quite common to skip breakfast (maybe grazing on the dishes as they were prepared–all in the name of quality control, of course) and just eat one big meal mid-day. Sometimes we’d have a relish tray set up: some deviled eggs, stuffed celery, that sort of thing. But it wasn’t really needed.

Due to family schedules we’ve pushed our main meal to 5:30 or so for the past couple of years. Not only is it no longer feasible to skip breakfast, we often have folks show up an hour or so before supper is scheduled plus the inevitable wait for the last one or two guests to arrive.

This means appetizers are called for. Just a little something to keep the hunger pains at bay (because usually a late breakfast led to a skipped lunch).

So far I’ve had a request for a delicious cheese we stumbled upon a few years back. St Andre is a double (almost triple) cream cheese that, when brought to room temperature, is amazing spread on slices of baguette–like butter, but better.

To go with it, I’m also preparing another family favorite, a simple combination of softened cream cheese, crab meat and cocktail sauce, layered in that order, that when scooped up with a buttery cracker is fantastic far beyond it’s otherwise simple preparation.

I like threes, though, so am casting about to find another little nibble to add to the pre-supper spread. What are you serving before the bird?

ICC: Pudachi Wadi


It’s time for another installment of the Indian Cooking Challenge! And this month the authentic recipe I bumble my way through is the traditional Maharastrian Pudachi Wadi (aka Coriander Rolls). Now, for those who don’t know, in the United States coriander refers to the seeds (whole or ground) of the plant we call–in it’s leafy state–cilantro. Since we’re using the leaves, they’d be called Cilantro Rolls in our neck of the woods.

For many years I was not a huge fan of cilantro, and I’m not alone. The flavor was too pronounced, almost soapy in some instances and really was not my cup of tea. But the more worldly one eats, the more one is likely to encounter different flavors and, in time, I became more tolerant of the herb.

Good thing, too! Because these rolls are delicious and it would have been a shame to miss out on them if I’d never been willing to try cilantro again.

Pudachi Wadi
from Archana of Tried & Tested Recipes

Pudachi Wadi


1 cup Gram Flour
1 cup Wheat flour
3/4 tsp Chilli Powder
heaping 1/4 tsp Turmeric
Salt, to taste
4.5 Tbsp warm Oil
Water, as needed


3 tsp Oil
1.5 tsp Garam Masala
3 tsp Tamarind Concentrate

3 Tbsp Shredded Coconut
1.5 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
1.5 Tbsp Sesame Seeds 

1.5 Tnsp Oil
1 Onion, diced
1.5 tsp Ginger-Green Chilli Paste
3 cloves garlic, minced

2 bunches Cilantro, chopped fine (approx. 2 cups)
3/4 tsp Chilli Powder
Half a Lime, juiced
1.5 tsp Sugar
Salt, to taste

Oil, for frying

This one takes a little time, mostly because of the different steps, but it’s worth a few hours on a weekend afternoon to give it a try. A large part of the time required goes into rolling and forming the dough. While it wouldn’t be quite the same, I’m betting the paste and filling would be fabulous inside regular spring roll wrappers and steamed or fried.

I did have to finagle one ingredient: the ginger-green chilli paste. I substituted equal amounts of minced ginger paste and green salsa. Having never had the original, I can’t say how close I came but it seemed a logical substitution. If we’d had any in the house, I probably would have used Recaito, as it’s cilantro-based.

Combining the dough ingredients Make the dough. 

Mix the dry dough ingredients together and then stir in the warm oil. Depending on things like your flour’s water content and the humidity in your kitchen, the amount of water you’ll need to add to the mixture to make a smooth dough will vary. Just mix it in a teaspoon or two at a time until the dough is firm.

Set aside.

The paste ingredients Make the paste. 

Combine the oil, garam masala and tamarind concentrate into a smooth paste and set aside until it’s time to
assemble the pastries.

Toasting the coconut, poppy and sesame seeds Make the filling. 

Toast the coconut, poppy seeds and sesame seeds in a non-stick skillet until the coconut and sesame seeds are golden brown. Allow to cool.

Sauteing the onions, garlic and ginger green chilli paste Meanwhile, saute the onions in the oil until tender. 

Add the ginger-green chilli paste and garlic and saute briefly—just a few seconds–before removing from the heat to cool off a bit.

Grinding the toasted ingredients Process the now-cool coconut, poppy and sesame seeds until coarse. Really all you’re doing is breaking up the coconut as the others are already pretty small to start with.
Combining all the filling ingredients Transfer the onion mixture to a bowl and add the ground and toasted mixture, the chopped cilantro and the rest of the ingredients for the filling. Mix well and season to taste with additional salt as needed.
Rolling out the dough To Assemble the pastries

Divide the dough into 16 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Roll each ball into a circle (about 3 inches wide).

Brushing on the paste Brush a bit of the paste onto the center of the dough…
Adding the filling Then place a spoonful of the filling mixture in the center.
Wrapping the filling up Fold the edges of the dough over the filling and press them together to make a tight seal. It may help to add a little water to the edges of the dough.Apparently these rolls can either be round tubes–like a traditional spring roll–or triangles. I did some of each just to see if it made a difference. For what it’s worth, the triangular ones seemed to have a better distribution of dough and filling per bite.
Toasting the pastries Toast each roll or triangle lightly on a griddle. I almost skipped this step but am grateful I didn’t: the toasting firms us the dough so that they don’t fall apart so easily when you fry them. And electric griddle set on 250° worked perfectly for this as I could put one on, roll the next and flip the first when the second was added.
The final fry Deep fry the rolls just before serving. Frying goes quickly and, unlike a lot of fried foods, these do not float to the surface and bob around, they just sit there and cook so you need to turn them over after a few moments to keep them from getting too dark on any one side.

I think you’d also be safe making these up ahead of time through the toasting step and then refrigerating or even freezing them so you can fry as many as you need at any given time. Get a few people in the kitchen with you and bang out several batches at a go so you’re ready for anything. Because they don’t really hold all that great, we found, and reheating doesn’t do much for them once they’re fried.


I enjoyed participating in the monthly Indian Cooking Challenge so much that I created a monthly challenge of my own! For more details, check out the Medieval Cooking Challenge and sign up for the mailing list.

ICC: Pani Puri/Gol Gappe


Hopping around some food blogs, recently, I came across a link to the Indian Cooking Challenge and immediately signed up: each month a recipe is given out for participants to attempt, staying as close to the source recipe as plausible, and then blog about the results on the 15th. I’m a little bummed that last month was a dessert and I missed it but this month we’re making Pani Puri (aka Gol Gappe).

Todd & I both adore Indian food (which is why this challenge was so tempting) but we’ve never had this particular dish. It’s a snack or appetizer made up of fried puffs of dough (puri) stuffed with a filling, chutney and some sort of spicy water (pani). This recipe calls for both potato and lentil fillings, a tamarind chutney and a tamarind water. I’m not a huge fan of frying, but I was able to gang up this recipe with a couple of other friend appetizers I wanted to test for the cookbook, so it actually worked out well.

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First, I had to find the ingredients which meant a little bit of deciphering of the recipe.

Pani Puri / Gol Gappe

For the Puri:
1/2 c Sooji (Semolina)
1/2 T Maida ( Plain Refined Flour)
1/2 t Cooking Soda(1)
Salt to taste
Oil for Frying

Potato Filling

1. Boiled Potato, finely chopped /mashed and mixed with salt and red chili.

For Spicy Pani or Spicy Water
1.5 c Chopped Mint Leaves
1 T Chopped Coriander Leaves(2)
1/3 c Tamarind(3)
1″ Ginger
4-5 Green Chillies(4)
1 t Ground Cumin Seed (roasted)
1.5 t Kala Namak (Black Salt)(5)
Salt to taste

Lentil Filling

1 c Cooked Channa or Peas
Salt to taste
1/2 t Chili powder
Turmeric powder
1/4 t Garam masala powder

For Red Tamarind Chutney

1 c Tamarind
1/2 c Jaggery(6)
2 T Sugar
1/2 t Red chili powder
1 t Dry Roasted cumin powder
1/4 t Kali Micrch (Black pepper) powder
2 Cloves
2 c Warm water
1 t Oil
Salt to taste

(1) Cooking soda I took to mean baking soda but, after reading the comments of those who tried out the recipe before me it seems that baking powder yields a better puff and a more satisfactory puri.

(2) In the US, coriander means the dried seeds of the plant while the leaves, also known as Chinese Parsley, we call Cilantro.

(3) The 2nd hardest ingredient to track down, tamarind is a fruit that was just not available in town until I checked out the International House of Food and found some pressed bricks of it. Upside? Finding them. Downside? The half-pound bricks included bits of the papery husks of the fruit as well as the seeds. There’s a little bit of work ahead.

In desperation I searched for tamarind substitutions and found that for tamarind paste a suitable sub is powdered amchur and lemon juice. What the hell is amchur, I’m sure you’re wondering: powdered mango! So, sure, you could sub some dried mango for tamarind though, after tasting one, I’d say subbing a mixture of dates (color and texture) and cranberries (tartness–tamarind is REALLY tart) or even pomegranate seeds would be the best mixture if you just can’t get tamarind for the chutney.

(4) Green chilies posed a bit of a quandary: there are a LOT of green chilies out there, which ones to use. I picked up 3 jalapenos but I’m sure there are better options out there.

(5) Black salt comes from volcanic islands and IHOF was out. Considering the small quantity here and the short time frame I didn’t have time to order any from a gourmet shop so we just went without.

(6) Jaggery, I’ve learned, is a non-centrifuged sugar with various purported health benefits. Another hard-to-find ingredient I decided to just use Demerara sugar which, while centrifuged, is unrefined and therefore pretty close I think.

Making the Puri

In a bowl take semolina, plain flour, Cooking Soda, salt, 2 tablespoons of oil and knead well to make a stiff dough, leave it bit stiffer than normal. Cover it with a wet muslin cloth and let it rest for 15 mins. Then pinch out very small balls and roll them into small circles. Put the rolled out circles back under the muslin cloth while you are rolling the rest and before they can be fried.

Seems simple enough, right? Well… The first batch of dough wouldn’t come together into anything usable. The second batch, where I used equal parts semolina and all purpose flours held together better so I let it rest and then tried a test run in the hot oil where it promptly disintegrated. I thought it might have something to do with the oil in the mix so tried, yet again, using water this time.

Not only did it resemble more of a dough, it actually held together when I placed the first few rounds into the oil. What they didn’t do, was puff.

It’s a good thing I’m not easily discouraged as I might have given up then and there. Being the determined sort, I headed online to find another recipe that might tell me what I’m doing wrong. I found one that used no leavening and 3 different flours: 1 part whole wheat, 2 parts semolina and 2 parts all purpose. Using just enough water to make a stiff dough and then adding a bit of oil at the end, I thought I was on the path to success.


There were signs of puffing but still not the round little puffs the pictures all of the Internet led me to expect.

I can certainly understand why everything I’ve read suggested buying them pre-made.

Puri Trials

Making the Pani (spicy water)

Extract pulp from the tamarind.

And here we run into the real reason I’m never doing this again. (And by “this” I mean dealing with tamarind that isn’t already cleaned and pulped and ready-to-go, not the challenge or Indian food in general.)

Considering the pressed, blocky nature of what I had I thought it might be best to soften things up a bit. I heated some water to just below boiling, poured it over the broken-up blocks of tamarind and let it sit for about 5 minutes before straining.

Then began the almost 3 hours of scraping and picking and ick that yielded barely 3/4 c of finished tamarind and burning fingertips–tamarind has a certain amount of acid (which makes it a great cleaning product, apparently) and my nail beds are still stained from this endeavor.

Add mint leaves, coriander, ginger, chillies and dry roasted cumin seed to the tamarind pulp. Add little water and blend to a smooth paste. Add salt and black rock salt to taste. Put it in the fridge to cool down. Add water as required.

As tamarind pulp was in short supply and this was for the “spicy water” I opted to use the tamarind “tea” left over from prepping the godforsaken fruit instead. But what I don’t quite understand is what it was cooling down from (it’s not cooked at any point) and the adding water as necessary? The pictures I’ve seen and the description of how to eat these suggest that there should be a LOT more water involved.

But we’ll move on for a bit.

Making the Red Tamarind Chutney

In a pan dry roast the cumin seeds and the cloves. Pound them into coarse powder. To the tamarind pulp add jaggery, sugar, red chili powder, black pepper powder, roasted cumin powder, cloves and salt. Put the mixture in a pan and heat for 5 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat and let it cool down. This will tend to thicken up, so add warm water if it becomes too thick. Once it cools, blend the contents in a blender to a smooth paste.

I’ve made chutneys before so I was pretty confident on this step. It was, however, approaching 9pm on a Saturday night and this was only 2/3 of dinner. I just tossed everything into the pot and let it cook, only then realizing that 2 cups of warm water was WAY too much for any chutney.

That’s when I started to wonder if maybe the water should have gone into the Pani mixture (it would have explained the cooling down bit and the whole submerging step for the eating), not the chutney. Still, it wasn’t like I could remove it now so I dumped half a packet of liquid pectin inside, hoping it would gel a bit more, and just decided to work with what we had.

Dry Water and Wet Chutney

On the left is the "spicy water", on the right the chutney--what's wrong with this picture?

The Fillings

The potato filling was the most simple thing in the world: peel and chop a potato, boil til tender, mash and add salt and chili powder. I also added 2 Tablespoons of milk to smooth out the mixture a bit, but that’s personal preference.

The lentil filling called for chana or peas–I had frozen peas available so used them. While they are both legumes, little green peas are not actually lentils, but I figure there’s wiggle room in the recipe since it did give them as an option. I microwaved the peas with a bit of water ’til cooked and then added the spices and microwaved another minute to heat.

Assembling and Eating

Poke a small hole in the center of the Gol Gappa/Puri. Add a tsp of mashed boiled potato/Channa in the middle of the puri. Add a little of the red tamarind Chutney. Dip it in the spicy water/pour some spicy water in it. Gulp it down.

Notes: Alternatively you can mix small quantity of Tamarind Chutney, Spicy water and pour this on stuffed puris and gulp down too.

Since our Puris didn’t puff very much we used them more as crackers or platforms for the toppings fillings, spooned a bit of the not-watery pani on top and then drizzled with the very liquid chutney. We also suggest chewing, not merely gulping 😉

Pani Puri

Pani Puri

*  *  *

The verdict: Way too much work but that might have more to do with the limited availability of certain ingredients which meant extra work and aggravation. The flavor combinations of the fillings were *really* tasty and will get added to our usual repetoire of side dishes. In the future, however, I will leave this particular recipe to the pros and look forward to next month’s challenge.