Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Total Oven Meal: Citrus Chicken and Roasted Vegetables and the Cooking Channel

The Recipes
  • I thought this would be a quick meal, but the prep takes really long. 
  • Serves 4.
Crunchy Citrus Chicken

The Ingredients:
1 lemon
1 lime
1 orange
3 c. gluten-free corn flakes cereal, coarsely crushed (I put them in a plastic bag and pounded them with the bottom of a jar)
3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
¼ freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts

The Directions:
Zest the lemon, lime and orange. Juice half of each citrus fruit with either a juicer or by squeezing fruit in one hand while twisting a spoon inside of fruit with the other hand. Thinly slice the remaining half of each citrus fruit. Arrange fruit slices in bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.

On pie plate, combine citrus juices. In a plastic bag, combine citrus zest, cereal, rosemary, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper (or if you don't have a big enough one, just stir together in a large bowl, like we did). Dredge chicken in citrus juice, then in seasoned crumbs. Place on citrus slices and sprinkle with leftover crumb mixture. Discard any excess juice.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until coating is golden brown and crispy, a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a breast registers 170 degrees F (75 degrees C), and chicken is no longer pink inside.

Roasted Vegetables

The Ingredients:
3 medium carrots
2 large parsnips
1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves
½ medium rutabaga
¼ medium butternut squash
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp vegetable oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh rosemary

The Directions:
Peel carrots, parsnips, garlic, rutabaga and squash. Chop carrots, parsnips and squash into 1 inch cubes. Chop rutabaga into ¾ inch cubes.

In a large bowl, combine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Add garlic and chopped vegetables and toss well to coat. Spread in a single layer in prepared pan and cover with foil.

Roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil, stir vegetables and sprinkle with rosemary. Roast uncovered, for 25 to 35 minutes, or until fork-tender.

The Rotund Roast

My Take on the Bake
This was a sumptuous meal. The citrus flavor went well with the chicken, and it made the chicken so juicy. As for the vegetables, let's go on a faux tangent that will actually lead us somewhere:
I've never watched the Cooking Channel before, but I decided it was time since I was now cooking so much. My boyfriend and I fell in love with the show "The Worst Cooks in America." Two chefs compete to teach their own team of bad cooks to cook professionally. A cook is eliminated every round from each team. The last two cooks standing cook a 3-course gourmet meal for food critics who think that they are judging food made by the professional chefs. The winner of the best meal gets $25,000, and the removal of the title "worst cook in America." I love this show because I can relate to it so much. Mostly I laugh at how terrible the cooks really are, or reminisce about my old cooking ignorance. But now, in the midst of learning to become a gluten-free superhero chef, Wheatless Welch, I found myself making some mistakes worthy of this show:
Apparently you're supposed to roast garlic cloves whole. Instead I minced them because I was so used to mincing immediately after spotting garlic on the ingredients list. This actually made a very tasty addition to the sauce; so good I might even try it again! Okay so that wasn't "worst cook" worthy. But next I didn't cover the pan in foil, so the vegetables came out very hard. Okay so that wasn't beginning worst cooks material, but possibly episode 3 material. It's okay, cooking is life-long learning process, and sometimes mistakes like mincing garlic instead of leaving it whole lead to better-tasting results :)

Italian Bliss: Fettucini Alfredo and Eggplant Parmesian

The Recipes:
  • My dad's friend, a pure Italian, taught me these family recipes. The fettucini alfredo recipe was already written down, but I dictated the eggplant parmesan recipe by my dad's friend's memory. 
  • This is possibly my favorite meal of this whole project so far! That or the curry.
  • The eggplant parmesan takes so long to make that we started it, then made and ate the alfredo, then got back to making the parmesan.
  • You could serve either of these as lone main dishes plus a salad perhaps. The fettucini alfredo serves four, or eight if a side dish. The eggplan parmesan serves at least eight, but I don't know how many for sure.

Fettucini Alfredo

The Ingredients:
1 lb. gluten-free fettucini pasta (or something spirally like we used)
knob of butter
1 medium clove garlic
1 c. heavy or whipping cream (not Bavarian Style)
1¼ c. freshly grated parmesan cheese (preferably Parmesan Reggiano)
Freshly grated black pepper to taste

The Directions:
Cook the gluten-free fettucini in plenty of boiling water. While it is cooking, melt butter in a skillet and brown minced garlic, then add in the cream. Simmer the sauce on med-low heat, stirring occasionally, until cream is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Do not let the cream come to a rolling boil or else the fat will
separate and you will lose the smooth texture of this sauce. Add ½ c. of parmesan to the cream and
continue stirring until cheese starts to melt.

When cooked, drain the pasta and place in a shallow serving dish. Pour the sauce over the pasta,
sprinkling with another ½ c. parmesan and black pepper. Toss lightly until the fettuccini is well coated.
Serve immediately.

Eggplant Parmesan

The Ingredients:
olive oil (enough for deep-frying)
6 cloves of garlic
28 oz. can (standard size) crushed tomatoes (or lots of fresh tomatoes)
6 oz. (standard size) can tomato paste
2 eggplants
2 eggs
parmesan Reggiano
black pepper
1-2 eggs
1 can buttermilk
2-3 c. gluten-free bread crumbs (we used corn bread crumbs)
parmesan (parmesan Reggiano preferred)

The Directions:

Preparing the sauce: Put a few tbsp. olive oil in a pot on medium heat. Peel 6 big garlic cloves, press garlic into pot with a garlic presser and brown slightly. Add in 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes and a 6 oz. can of tomato paste. Add 5 tbsp. total for all the spice, either adding thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, basil or adding 5 tbsp. from a basic Italian seasoning shaker into pot. Boil off water if using fresh tomatoes along with paste; let the sauce get nice and thick. Put top on askew to let steam out. Turn off burner and let cool (will melt cheese if hot when making the casserole).

Preparing the eggplant: Use common eggplants with or without the skins, preferably without skins because the skins are bitter and shrink so the breading falls off. Peel off skins with a sharp knife. Cut into 5/16 inch slices. If serving for a family, use 2 eggplants; if making a big batch, use 4 eggplants. Set up slices in rows on counter and sprinkle coarse kosher salt or regular salt on one side. Then flip and sprinkle on the opposite side and let sit for 15 min. This dries the eggplant. Rinse off the eggplant slices under the sink faucet with your hands. Dry again by putting them on top of a paper towel that's on top of a rag, and blot them with a paper towel held in your hands by a rag. Put slices on a platter.

Deep-frying the eggplant: Cover pan with a bunch of olive oil, and heat. Mix 1 egg and a 1/2 can or more of buttermilk to get coagulation with the gluten-free bread crumbs (you might have to make another mix later if you run out). Place a drop of egg mix into oil to test it; the oil is heated when the egg mix fries immediately. Dredge eggplant slices with egg mix, then gluten-free bread crumbs, then fry on each side until extra browned on edges and tan in the middle (about 2 min, depending on your bread crumbs). If the slices start browning a lot faster later than they did at the beginning, turn down the heat of the oil. Take from pan when done and blot with paper towel to de-grease, using towel over paper to blot if too hot. Add another clean paper towel before putting the next layer on. Deep fry all slices and layer on top of each other on one plate.

Constructing the Casserole: Spread a thin layer of the cold tomato sauce onto bottom of pan. Then add a flat layer of eggplant. Cut some slices into quarters and use them to fill in gaps near edges.
Save small slices to put into the center of each layer. Then spread another layer of tomato paste on, shake a bit of salt over the whole layer, then sprinkle/grate on parmesan (grated short and skinny) and mozzarella (grated long and thick). Put on layers of slices of eggplant, then tomato sauce, then salt, then cheese until at least three layers thick (ours was 5 layers), ending with cheese. Put in an oven preheated to 375 degrees F and bake for 35 minutes, then take off the lid and put in for another 20 minutes, or until browned with black edges. Cool off for 20 minutes to let thicken. Serve.

The Illustrious Italian

My Take on the Bake
Wow! Eye-popping goodness! 5-star gluten-free Italian is possible! Also fattening gluten-free food is possible. I never knew eggplant parmesan was served as a casserole, but apparently its the authentic way to serve it. This tastes much better than a breaded fillet of eggplant that you get in a restaurant. Glad I could capture these native Italian "secret" recipes. I was really glad I was with my dad's friend also because he was able to modify the recipe to help compensate for the different way gluten-free "bread" crumbs behave and taste, such as adding buttermilk to the egg and adding more spices and salt to stop the corn flavor from overcoming the tomato and eggplant. 

Warning: this meal can take 3 hours, or even more if you do what we did and pause for a while to make the alfredo. A shorter but still delicious version is to deep-fry eggplant slices and serve with a slice of fresh tomato and a bit of mozzarella on top of each slice. Other fun and tasty ways to prepare eggplants when they are in abundance in the summer: make baba ganoush or grill eggplant slices with the skin still on, then sprinkle on salt and pepper.

Gluten-Free Spaghetti - Easy Does It

The Recipe: Spaghetti

All you have to do is cook the gluten-free spaghetti noodles according to the directions and heat up some tomato sauce and frozen vegetables. It's helpful to measure out how many noodles you need to use with a spaghetti serving size measurer. Remember to test the softness of the noodle before turning your burner off - it's generally been taking me a few minutes longer to cook gluten-free pasta than its directions say. Piece of cake! Peace out.

The Easy Evidence

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Swedish Meatballs, "Take that IKEA!" Edition

Swedish Meatballs
  • My Grandma taught me how to make this specialty of hers. She is 100% Swedish, so she should know. She uses the recipe from the cookbook by Wickstroms's, Chicago, Clark Street.
  • Makes 36 meatballs, about 6 servings.
  • Idea: make extra mashed potatoes while making the mashed potatoes required for the meatballs, then serve the extra potatoes as a side with dinner.
  • This recipe is made gluten-free with a few easy substitutes, as noted below.

The Ingredients:
1 lb. beef, pulsed smooth and silky (we just mixed it in the bowl with our hands)
1 lb. pork, ditto
1 beaten egg
½ c. mashed potatoes
½ c. gluten-free bread crumbs (we used a brand that made them with corn)
3 tbsp grated onions
½ tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ginger
3 tbsp butter

2 tbsp gluten-free flour (we used all-purpose gluten-free flour that you could hopefully find in the flour section of your local grocery store)
1 c. broth
1 c. half and half
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg

The Directions:
Mix beef and pork until silky and smooth. Then add in mashed potatoes, onions, brown sugar, salt, pepper, nutmeg, ground cloves, and ginger. Roll the mixture into meatballs the size of walnuts. Roll meatballs in a bowl with a beaten egg then in a bowl with bread crumbs. Sauté in a 10" skillet or an electric frying pan at 250 degrees F in butter until brown.

Make roue: Stir flour, salt, and nutmeg in a pan on high heat until it steams. Slowly stir in broth and half and half. Add meatballs to the pan. Cover and cook 10 min. 

*Alternatively, if you don't make the sauce in a 10" pan, as we didn't: preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Put meatballs into pan and cover with sauce. Bake 10 min. Stir meatballs in thickened sauce and serve.

The Homeland Hearth

My Take on the Bake
The meatballs stuck to the pan excessively, so you might want to toy with the type of bread crumb substitute to make it easier on yourself. It might've also worked better if we had used a mixer to "pulse [the meat] silky and smooth." As is it was, it took some muscle to fry the meatballs. But it was worth it! This tasted so amazing, definitely a comfort food and a delicacy all in one. After being told that the Swedish meatballs at IKEA probably had gluten in them, so I couldn't order them, I was determined to make them and enjoy this famous food from my homeland. And I did! Score for my taste buds' to-do list! They are now enjoying a new stage of happiness, and so could yours if you try this dish!

Home-made Yogurt and Freedom from the Man

The Recipe: Plain Yogurt
  • My cousins also taught me how to make home-made yogurt. They've tried out the oven method and the towel method, but finally decided on the cooler method to insulate the yogurt overnight. Learn from their wisdom.
  • My cousins recommend Brown Cow and Stonyfield plain yogurt over Dannon and Yoplait for the starter yogurt because Brown Cow and Stonyfield put more healthy bacteria in their yogurt.
  • It's easy to make this before going to bed, then wake up in the morning to put the jars in the fridge.
  • Serve with jam, honey, fresh fruit, and/or nuts.
  • Makes 5 Mason jars worth of yogurt. 
gallon of whole milk (grass-fed and organic if possible :) )
1/2 carton of Brown Cow or Stonyfield plain yogurt, or some of the last batch of this yogurt

The Directions:
1. Pour the milk into a large pot and set on med-high heat. Warm the milk up to 180 degrees F, monitoring with a meat thermometer. Continually scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula so the milk doesn't burn. At the same time, set a kettle of water to boil.
2. Fill your sink with really cold water, put the pot of milk into the sink,  and cool the milk to 120 degrees F.
3. Use the boiling water to sterilize 5 glass jars, their lids, and a large spoon. Then pour this water into the cooler. Make another pot of boiling water and pour it into the cooler also.
4. Put a few spoonfuls of starter yogurt in each jar.
5. After cooling down the milk, cool the water in the cooler down to 120 degrees F by adding cold water.
6. Pour the milk into the jars and stir together the milk and starter yogurt, then close the jars and place them in the cooler.
7. Let sit in the cooler with the cooler lid on for 5-8 hours, with 8 hours being ideal. Then put in fridge. Ready to eat when cooled.

The Bedazzling Breakfast

Yep, I treat my plain yogurt as a plain canvas for amazingness!

My Take on the Bake
The yogurt turned out great when we made it with our cousins! They said it takes practice to get it just the right texture, but I'm sure I'll get it right in the future because I plan on practicing this dish a lot. Yogurt is a very healthy and filling breakfast that can be decked out with whatever you feel like - perfect for adding variety to your daily morning routine or for placating a picky family. Don't forget about all of the friendly bacteria this dish is adding to help your gut out :) It's also insanely cheap to make - you can  make 5 Mason jars full of plain yogurt on just one gallon of milk and half a carton of industrial yogurt. Take those 5 jars and multiply by the number of batches you make using your home-made yogurt as starter, and wham! You've got yourself a deal! My cousins called it freedom from the man because cereal is so expensive, and this helped them break "the habit."

*Note on using home-made yogurt as the starter: my cousins have only made batches from their old batches for 2-3 consecutive batches before getting lazy or forgetful and not perpetuating the (practically) free yogurt train. So I don't know if the quality of the yogurt diminishes if you perpetuate the yogurt batch train forever.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fusion Dinner: Vietnamese Spring Rolls and Greek Casserole

The Recipes
  • My cousins let me look through their array of world cookbooks, and I couldn't pick one country's cuisine to stick with, so I decided to make a fusion Vietnamese-Greek meal.
  • The spring roll recipe is from Authentic Vietnamese Cooking by Corinne Trang. It makes 40 rolls if you use small triangular rice papers, but all we could find were larger circle ones that made 30 rolls. The fish dipping sauce comes from the same cookbook, and it makes about 2 cups, which was exactly how much we needed for all of the rolls.
  • The Greek casserole recipe is from Greek Cooking by Rena Salaman and Jan Cutler. It serves 4 as the main dish - we had leftovers.

"Nuoc Cham"/Fish Dipping Sauce

The Ingredients:
5 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp water
1/3 c. fish sauce
1/2 c. lime or lemon juice (about 3 limes or 2 lemons)
1 large clove garlic, crushed, peeled, and sliced or minced
1 or more bird's eye or Thai chilies, seeded, and sliced or minced (optional)
1 shallot, peeled, thinly sliced, rinsed, and drained

The Directions:
1. Whisk together, or shake in a jar, the sugar, water, fish sauce, and lime or lemon juice in a bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the garlic, chili, and shallot, and let stand for 30 min before serving.

"Cha Gio"/Spring Rolls

The Ingredients:
2 oz. dried cellophane noodles (aka bean noodles, Chinese vermicelli)
1 oz. dried cloud ear mushrooms (we used shiitake)
1 lb. ground pork (70% lean)
1 med yellow onion, peeled and minced
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 carrot, peeled an grated
1 large egg
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
40 triangular rice papers (or 30 big round rice papers)
vegetable oil for deep frying
1 bunch mint, leaves only

The Directions:
1. Soak the cellophane noodles and cloud ear mushrooms in lukewarm water to cover until re-hydrated, about 15 min. Drain and squeeze the noodles and cloud ears to get rid of the excess water. Finely chop the noodles and cloud ears and put them in a mixing bowl.

2. Add the ground pork, onion, garlic, carrot, and egg and season with salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients with your hands until evenly combined.

3. Pour lukewarm water about 1" deep into a square or rectangular dish. Separate and soak 4 rice papers at a time until pliable, about 5 min. Place a clean kitchen towel on your work surface, then place each triangle, rounded side near you, on the towel. With another kitchen towel, blot each wrapper until it is no longer wet but remains sticky. Place about 1 tsp filling 1" from the rounded edge. Fold the wrapper once over the filling, then fold in the sides and continue rolling tightly to the pointed end. Repeat this process with the remaining rice papers and filling. *If using larger circular rice papers, don't soak beforehand. Instead, dip one into a bowl of water for about 5 seconds, set on a plate, then put about 1 tbsp filling 1" from an end and continue as above. Try to roll as tight as possible or air bubbles in the wrapping will form and make it hard to turn the rolls over in the pan.*

4. Heat the oil in a wok or a deep pan to 360-375 degrees F over med-high heat. Test the heat of the oil with one roll; the oil should sizzle around the roll but not so vigorously as to destroy the spring roll. Fry a few rolls at a time, turning them once immediately to prevent them from sticking together, then turning them occasionally until golden on all sides, 3-5 min. *If using larger rolls, it may take longer. Check to make sure the insides of the pork are cooked after the first batch.* Drain on paper towels and serve with mint and dipping sauce.

*Variation: Substitute 8 oz. fresh shredded crabmeat or minced shrimp for half of the ground pork amount and follow directions.

*Hint: As you make the spring rolls, stack them, covering each layer with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out, and refrigerate.Serve them freshly fried the next day. Freeze leftover rolls for up to a month; reheat them in a 375 degrees F oven for 15 min, turning once.

Potatoes with Feta Cheese and Olives

The Ingredients:
2 lb. potatoes
2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
 sprig of fresh rosemary
10 oz. feta cheese, sliced and then crumbled
1 c. pitted black and green olives
1 1/4 c. hot vegetable stock
salt and ground black pepper

The Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the potatoes in plenty of boiling water for 15 min, or until soft. Drain and cool slightly. Peel the potatoes and cut into thin slices.
2. Brush the base and sides of a shallow 6 1/4 c. / 2 1/2 pint rectangular oven-proof dish with some of the olive oil.
3. Layer the potatoes in the dish with the rosemary, cheese, and olives. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and pour over the stock. Season with salt and plenty of ground black pepper.
4. Cook for 35 min, covering with foil to prevent the potatoes from getting too brown. Serve hot, straight from the dish.

The Diverse Duo

My Take on the Bake
This was an intense dinner to make, and luckily I had lots of help. As the hint suggests, you could prepare the spring rolls the night before and fry them the night of the meal. The Greek casserole wouldn't have been the hardest all on its own to make. This was a very tasty meal. The two different dishes actually went well together. The casserole was a bit strong. It called for black and green olives, but we decided to use Greek kalamati olives rather than the black olives you might find in the store. Man do baked kalamati olives stink up a kitchen! Let's just say they were a bit strong. Definitely not a comfort food dish, but has a strong taste of Greek - I would serve it with lamb. Or just with regular black olives if I made it alone next time.

Cabbage Curry and Hummus

The Recipes
  • My cousins taught me how to make these.
  • We dipped carrot sticks, slices of yellow bell peppers, and tortilla chips in the hummus as an appetizer to appease our stomachs while we worked on the curry.
  • The hummus recipe came from Greek Cooking by Rena Salaman and Jan Cutler. It serves 4 to 6.
  • The curry recipe came from The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi, a cookbook I'm told is like Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Indian food. The recipe actually uses cauliflower, but my cousins decided to use cabbage instead. It serves 4 to 5.
  • The curry goes well over basmati rice with a little plain yogurt or raita added on top of the curry to cut the spice if needed. The curry also goes well served without rice.


The Ingredients:
14 oz can of chickpeas, drained
4 tbsp tahini
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
juice of 1/2-1 lemon
salt and ground black pepper

The Directions:
0. To make fresh chickpeas instead of canned, soak chickpeas overnight in a pot with an extra few inches of water above the chickpeas (they will expand). Then put the pot in the fridge to make later or cook for two hours, bringing to a boil then simmering.
1. Reserving a few whole ones for garnish, coarsely mash the chickpeas in a mixing bowl with a fork. If you like a smoother puree, process the chickpeas in a food processor (we used a processor) or blender until a smooth paste is formed.
2. Mix the tahini into the bowl of chickpeas, then stir in the chopped garlic cloves and lemon juice. Season to taste and garnish the top with the reserved chickpeas. Serve the hummus at room temp.
*Variation: Process 2 roasted red bell peppers with the chickpeas, then continue as above. Serve sprinkled with lightly toasted pine nuts and paprika mixed with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Spicy Cabbage with Braised Tomato

The Ingredients:
3-4 tbsp ghee (purified butter) or vegetable oil
1" piece of fresh ginger root, scraped and cut into thin julienne (we just scraped then grated)
1-2 jalapeño chilies, cored, seeded, and slivered (VERY optional :) )
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 large cabbage, cut in half then in long layers of strips
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
3 large tomatoes, each peeled and cut into eighths (we might've used more tomatoes, and we used canned)
1 tsp garam masala
3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh coriander or minced parsley
butter (optional)

The Directions:
1. Heat the ghee or oil in a large nonstick casserole or saute pan over med-high heat. When it is hot but not smoking, drop in the ginger, chilies (optional), mustard and cumin seeds. Fry until the mustard seeds pop and turn gray and the cumin seeds turn brown. Mix the ground coriander, turmeric, and salt in a little bowl, then stir into pan. Stir in tomatoes with sauce (if you used whole tomatoes from a can, put them in then break into smaller pieces with a spatula), stirring for a few minutes. Then add cabbage strips, cover pan, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15-20 min, shaking the pan occasionally to keep the vegetables from sticking, or until the cabbage leaves are just tender.
2. Uncover, raise the heat and stir-fry to evaporate all the liquid. Just before serving, sprinkle with the garam masala, fresh herb, and add a knob of butter, if  desired.
*Note: If using cauliflower instead of cabbage, brown the flowerettes with the spices and then put in the tomatoes.

For the basmati rice, if using: cover rice in pot with water, boil, then turn to low and heat for about 20 min.

The Evidence

My cousin-in-law pretending to be a strict supervisor.
My Take on the Bake
I'm beginning to love Indian food (and I already was in love with hummus). I didn't use the chilies and it was still spicy enough/cool enough for me, but I added the yogurt to cut it just a little and for the texture effect. This meal was yum-diddly-scrumptious!

We used canned whole tomatoes instead of ones from the grocery store because my cousins said the ones at the grocery store are picked green, shipped, then sprayed with ethylene to change color. But canned tomatoes are picked ripe and preserved that way, so they preserve more of the tomatoey flavor. They pointed out to me that canned products have salt in them, so if you use canned tomatoes, you should readjust the amount of salt you add (as in none for this recipe). So they recommended buying fresh tomatoes at a farmer's market in the summer and using canned ones in the winter. They also recommended the use of iron pans instead of Teflon because the coating eventually rubs off and gets in your food, and then the chemical in the coating never leaves your body.

Pizza Party!

The Recipe: Pizzaaaaaa!

  • This is what I did for a pizza party with my friends. I used gluten-free personal pizzas for me and normal pizza dough for everyone else.
  • The two large regular pizzas together fed 8 people with no leftovers.
  • *College Cooking Alert* The rolls of pizza or gluten-free personal pie crusts make this an easy meal to make in the dorm, as long as you have a cooking sheet or an aluminum pie pan. 

The Ingredients:
Glutino brand gluten-free pizza pie crusts
2 cans of rolled up pizza dough, I forget the brand
shredded mozzarella cheese, a whole bunch
tomato sauce, about one can
orange peppers, cut into bite size pieces
onions, diced
capers, drained
black olives, sliced
heated up slices of spiral cut ham, cut up into little squares (most of the time)
bacon, about a lb.

The Directions: 
Set out gluten-free pizza crusts to defrost. Next cook up the bacon, then prepare the other toppings in bowls on a large counter or table. Roll out each can of pizza pizza dough onto a greased pan. Spread gluten-free crusts with tomato sauce first to avoid contamination, then add tomato sauce to dough, leaving about an inch clear around the edge. Sprinkle enough mozzarella cheese on crusts and dough to fully cover tomato sauce. Preheat the oven. Add toppings as preferred. Add a bit of mozzarella cheese over toppings. Crimp the sides of the dough to make a crust. Put into oven using the setting and timing suggested on the pizza roll cans/bag of gluten-free crusts. Take out and cut gluten-free pizzas first to avoid contamination, then use the pizza cutter on the other pizzas. Enjoy!

Pizza Paparazzi

3 scrumptious pizzas fresh out of the oven. The two on the right are gluten-free personal pizzas.

The MAN pizza, pre-baking. The guys piled on lots of meat, including a large uncut square of ham and whole bacon strips. Protein for those muscles!

My sous chefs framing the toppings table.
My Take on the Bake
If you're having a party, at least if you're a teenager, you're probably going to order pizza for dinner (even if you're gluten-free, I heard you can still order appropriate pizzas at some places). Why cash out so much dough when you can make it right in your own home? Making the pizzas was a fun activity we all enjoyed! And it was easy to make both gluten-free and glutenous options. I'm definitely doing this again sometime. Plus you have the bonus that you can section off the pizza or use personal pizzas and everyone can choose their own toppings instead of have to agree. Yay! I <3 everything pizzas!

I also learned a bit about using the oven. If you're putting more than one dish in or putting it in near the top or bottom, the cooking time will probably change.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Autumn Quinoa Casserole

The Recipe: Autumn Quinoa Casserole
  • From Complete Gluten-Free Cookbook, by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt.
  • Serve as an accompaniment to grilled meats or poultry, or on its own. We served it with salad.
  • The recipe book says makes 6 servings, but I would say only if it's a side. It makes about 4 meal servings if served with side dishes.
The Ingredients:
1/4 c. long-grain brown rice
1/4 c. quinoa
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. diced peeled butternut squash
1 cup diced carrot
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1/2 c. orange juice
1 1/2 c. gluten-free vegetable stock
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried savory
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Directions:
1. In a large skillet, over med-high heat, cook brown rice and quinoa, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 min, or until lightly toasted and browned. Remove from heat.
2. In an ungreased 8-10 c. baking dish, combine onion garlic, squash, carrot, orange juice and stock. Stir in rice, quinoa, sage, and savory.
3. Cover and bake in preheated oven (375 degrees F) for 50 min. Uncover and bake for about 10 min, or until grains and vegetables are tender and liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Stir in parsley and orange zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The Austere Autumn Evidence

My Take on the Bake
You better not be too hungry when you start preparing this meal! It takes a while to prepare, and then you have to wait 50 min. It was worth the wait though. The sage and savory really gave this casserole an interesting taste, something out of the ordinary that will wake up your taste buds. The toasted rice and quinoa also added a nice crunch to complement the squishy squash. Not a comfort food dish, but definitely something to liven up the dead of winter.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Complete Indian Dinner

The Recipes
  • from a vegetarian Indian cookbook that I forgot to write down the name of (I was visiting friends and don't own the cookbook). 
  • Dinner concept: Make 3 curries, a raita to put on top to cut the spice, and put it all over basmati rice for a complete and varied dinner (or just have a bunch of one curry). Make extra curry, freeze, and after three times you can defrost and heat up a complete meal.
  • I didn't make the third curry shown in the picture, so I didn't include it here.
  • Each of these curries serves 4-6 people.
  • For basmati rice, wash using strainer or pot method, then cook. Do raita first and set in fridge to chill for meal, or make it the night before. Then set the potatoes to heat and prepare cauliflower while they cook, and make the garbanzo beans somewhere in there.

Cucumber Raita
  • Make a double batch and keep on hand for use on other curries.
1 large cucumber
2 to 3 tbsp finely chopped onions
2 c. yogurt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
chopped fresh cilantro

Peel the cucumber, then seed it by making diagonal cuts inward with a knife on both sides of the seeds and removing this section. Coarsely grate the cucumber, then put in a metal mesh colander and press it against the mesh with your fingers to get the excess water out. Stir together the cucumber, onions, and yogurt.

Stir together the cumin, cayenne, and salt to taste in a small bowl, then stir them into the yogurt mixture along with as much chopped cilantro as you like. Serve chilled with curries or other Indian dishes.

Cauliflower Curry

1 large head cauliflower
3 small potatoes
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds (or ground mustard powder)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed (peel and then crush with garlic press)
3 small onions, slivered (cut onion in half then cut in crescent-shaped slices)
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. water
1 med-sized tomato, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice

Trim and wash the cauliflower and break it up into very small flowerettes. Scrub the potatoes and boil them in salted water until they are nearly tender, but not quite done.

Heat the oil in a fairly large skillet over med-low heat and add the mustard seeds, heating until the seeds pop, just a few minutes. When the mustard seeds have finished popping, add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, garlic and onions. Saute this mixture over med heat, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 min.

Add the cauliflower and saute, stirring often, for 4 to 5 min, then add the salt and water and cover the pan tightly. Allow the curry to simmer, covered, for 5 min, while you cut up the parboiled potato into 1" cubes.

Add the potato, stir, cover again, and leave to simmer for 10 min. Then add the tomato and the lemon juice and stir, uncovered, over med heat, for another few min before serving.

Serve hot with rice, raita, chutneys, and other condiments.

Curried Garbanzo Beans

3 c. cooked garbanzo beans, with reserved liquid (or use cans to shorten prep time)
1 tbsp butter or oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
3/8 tsp ground cloves
3/8 tsp cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 tsp ground ginger
salt to taste
2 tbsp lemon juice, and more to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, and more to taste
1 firm tomato, cut in 1/2" dice

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Mix spices in a little bowl, then stir into the butter over low heat, stirring often and heating for a few min. *to grind the ginger root: scrape off skin with sharp knife, then grate the root's knobs first. Next grate its sides until the fibery part of the root starts to come off.

Stir in the garbanzo beans and enough of the reserved liquid to just barely cover them. Stir well, and mash a few of the beans with a fork or potato masher.

Cook the beans over a med flame for about 20 min, or until the sauce is quite thick, stirring often. Remove from heat.

Stir in the lemon juice, the chopped cilantro, and the diced tomato. Taste, and correct the seasoning.

The Spicy Sight

My Take on the Bake
I never liked Indian before. Whenever I went to a restaurant, the food would be either way too spicy or incredibly bland. Maybe I just didn't know what to order. But now I'm converted! Curry takes boring vegetables and transforms them into full meals without any grains, definitely without any wheat or even glutenous soy sauce, and sometimes without any meat. It's so different from Western cooking that it's a good way to "spice up your life" by cooking every once in a while. And I actually appreciate these spices in a small amount with some cool cucumber raita on top. I think I'll buy an Indian cookbook and use it at least twice a month. I'm getting into so many interesting things that I might never have gotten into if I didn't have to go gluten-free!

Gluten-Free Tuna Helper and Navigating the Grocery Store

The Recipe: Gluten-Free Tuna Helper
I accidentally recycled the box and forgot to save it for this post. The gist: make the noodles for about 10 minutes, drain, add in tuna and sauce powder, cook for a while, and serve. Really quick and easy dinner *College Cooking Alert*. It wasn't actually made by the hamburger/chicken/tuna helper brand (since I got rid of the box I also forgot the brand) but it worked the same way as the boxes you buy from that brand - i.e. it comes with everything except for the meat, which you buy separately. Goes well with a side of corn.

The Fishy Evidence

My Take on the Bake and the Gluten-Free Grocery List
It was a little salty, although for some reason I got over the saltiness a few bites in and was loving it by the end. I was really excited to find something like the tuna helper in the grocery store, because that means I can buy dinners that will be quick and easy for a rushed evening. Although the tuna helper was the only kind of "helper" box from that brand at Meijer's that I could find, the back of the box showed that the brand also produced gluten-free hamburger and chicken helpers.

Unfortunately, Meijer's does not mark its gluten-free sections of the store. My family found them by accident. (for those of you who don't know what a "Meijer's" is, it's a mega-grocery store that also sells other household items, a mid-western chain founded in Grand Rapids, MI) We found a gluten-free section in the freezer section that has frozen dinners, such as mac n cheese (again with the Hallelujah!), lasagna, and Indian dinners, personal pizzas, large pizzas, pizza dough, bread, and bagels. We found gluten-free baking flour next to wheat flour, a mix of gluten-free flours which we've used to substitute for wheat flour in several recipes. And we found a dry foods section that has gluten-free noodles, cereals, mac n cheese boxes (ditto H!), Quaker flavored rice cakes, veggie chips, crackers, specialty bread mixes, cake mixes, brownie mixes, pizza mixes, and  the tuna helper. So there's definitely stuff out there, it's just hard to find.

If you go to a natural foods store, you're more likely to find gluten-free oatmeal, tamari, quinoa, and special gluten-free flours such as quinoa, amaranth, and sorghum.

So now you know what's out there for celiacs :)

Korean BBQ and Rolls and Gluten-Free Friendly Foreign Cuisine

The Recipes: Korean BBQ
  • My boyfriend's mom taught me how to make this. She just did it all from her head, so we had to write down the recipe. 
  • Koreans often eat this for special occasions and holidays.
  • Goes well with seaweed rolls and kimchi
  • Serves at least 10, if not more.
The Ingredients:
9 lbs. beef short rib
1 peeled onion or Asian pear
1 ice-cream-scoop full of minced garlic
1 tsp. sesame seed oil
5 handfuls of sugar
1/4 c. red wine
2 c. gluten-free soy sauce or tamari

The Directions:
1. Rinse off beef under faucet, rubbing bones with fingers.
2. Cut off the fat. If you have thin fillets, move onto next step. If you have chunky cubes, cut like you are unrolling the meat to get to the juicy center, and it will be flat when you finish.
3. Pound the meat.
4. Blend 1 peeled pear or onion (we used the pear).
5. Mix gluten-free soy sauce or tamari, blended pear or onion, garlic, sesame seed oil, sugar, and wine in a large bowl.
6. Submerge each piece of meat in the sauce. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinade overnight in the fridge.
7. If freezing some of the meat, put it in a plastic bag and cover it with sauce. Put bag in the freezer. Take it out to defrost and marinade the night before eating.
8. Cover a baking sheet that has raised edges with aluminum foil. Put meat on the sheet and drizzle leftover marinade onto the meat. Broil on high for about 7 min on each side, or until thoroughly cooked. If the meat still doesn't look ready, broil it for about 3 minutes on the original side. *Note: We used chopsticks to pick up the meat to check it then flip it over. If possess less nunchuck skills than Napolean Dynamite, tongs would work well.
9. Cut into bite size pieces or strips by holding one end of the meat slice with chopsticks and cutting the other end with kitchen scissors. Or use a knife. If you buy the cut that has 3 bone slices in it, cut between the bones and leave the meat attached to create a square that you can hold by the bone and tare the other side off with your teeth.

Seaweed Rolls
  • Served as a side-dish, packed lunch, or snack.
  • Can add whatever you want as long as you can lay it in a thin row (such as cut up Korean BBQ and kimchi, additions that kick the flavor up a notch) or lay it in strips (such as the cucumber)
  • Can dip in gluten-free soy sauce or tamari. 
  • We made about 12 rolls, when most of our ingredients ran out, but there was still some rice left.
  • If you are making this with Korean BBQ, start the rice before the BBQ.
5 c. white rice
1 c. sweet rice
8 eggs (or however many it takes to fill your largest skillet)
4 carrots
a few tsp salt
olive oil
long plastic box of spinach
sesame seed oil
1/4-1/2 daikon radish
tbsp sesame seed oil
tbsp sesame seeds
tsp. salt
large seaweed squares (9"x9")

1. Wash rice. Put water in pot with white and sweet rice. Massage rice with hands, then pour water out. Repeat a few times, until the water is not cloudy white. Put into rice cooker. Cook for about 30 min. or whatever your settings say.
2. Prepare eggs. Whisk eggs in a bowl and fry on medium in large skillet, flipping when the underside is done. Cut cut into 1/4"-1/2" thick strips.
3. Peel carrots, then julienne or cut carrots into 3-4" long, thin strips. Fry in a few tsp. salt and olive oil for about 5 min or until tender, stirring occasionally to turn the carrots.
4. Blanch spinach to make soggy (add spinach to a pot of boiling water, then pour into colander and rinse under very cold water). Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove water. Put in a bowl and add salt and sesame seed oil to taste (avoid making it too salty).
5. Cut daikon (pickled) raddish into long strips.
6. Once rice is done, mix in the sesame seeds, sesame seed oil, and salt.
7. Place a large seaweed square on top of a sushi roller (made of thin strips of bamboo strapped together). You could try using aluminum foil or even paper towel instead if you don't have one. Spread a thin layer of rice onto the seaweed square, then add strips of the other ingredients 1" from the end nearest you.
8. Lift the free inch of seaweed paper over the other ingredients using the roller and clamp in. Repeat until rolled into cylinder. Then wrap fully in roller and squeeze along the whole roll with hands.
9. Cut into 1/2" pieces.
10. Continue making rolls until ingredients are used up.

Oriental to Oggle at

I was so into this yummy feast that I forgot to take a pic until after the leftovers were put away. Here are the seaweed rolls and uncut slabs of Korean BBQ.

This is how Koreans roll. Boo yah!

My Take on the Bake
This dinner was an adventure. My boyfriend had to translate about half of the directions his mom gave me because she only speaks a little English. And we only had time to marinate the meat for an hour, instead of overnight. It still tasted delicious, however. It was nice to have a flavorful variation on ribs without American BBQ sauce. I loved the rolls, especially the ones we added the kimchi and BBQ to. Anyone who thinks they wouldn't like authentic Asian food should try the rolls, and they would be instantly converted - they take stuff we eat in America, like rice and carrots, add a few Korean things like seaweed rolls, and put it all together in a comfort food way.

I'm now very interested in Asian foods because, among other reasons, Asian foods have little wheat. For many of the dinners I've been making lately, I've been making gluten-free substitutions with gluten-free flours and noodles to normally glutenous recipes. But Asian foods are more generally gluten-free. The main problem to watch out for is gluten in soy sauce, but there are many Asian dishes that don't use soy sauce at all. For example, if you keep reading my blog for a few posts, you'll find two naturally gluten-free Indian curry dishes.

Chicken Piccata and Schlepping

Project Status Update
Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I still have been making delicious dishes every night and plan to update the blog on every one of them. I've tried a lot of foreign cooking to branch out. In the meantime, I've been visiting family and friends for lessons in cooking these dishes. At first I was just staying home, and the most schlepping I did was to the grocery store. But now I've been driving 45 min - 3 1/2 hours every couple days. Ahh the life of a chef-in-learning. I think everyone should have a special family night or visit friends or family to learn a new dish and experiment. We used to go to the library once a month and check out a foreign cookbook to use for dinner. Food is fun! And if you're just scarfing down dinner on the go every night, I think you should shake it up a bit even if it requires some extra special schlepping.

The Recipe: Chicken Piccata

  • serves 4
  • goes well over gluten-free pasta
  • from gluten free Every Day Cookbook by Robert M. Landolphi

4 boneless chicken breast halves (1 1/2 lbs.)
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 tbsp. tapioca flour (couldn't find, even in the health food store, so substituted in amaranth flour)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. dry white wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. chicken stock or broth
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. capers, drained
1/4 c. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Place each chicken breast on a flat surface and cut it in half horizontally. Put each piece between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and pound lightly with a meat mallet or small skillet until the chicken is about 1/4" thick.

In a shallow bowl, combine the cornstarch, tapioca flour, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Stir to blend. In a large saute pan, melt 2 tbsp. of the butter with the olive oil over med-high heat. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Add the chicken breasts to the pan and cook until lightly browned, about 3 min on each side.

Transfer the chicken to a plate. Pour off the excess fat from the pan and return to med-high heat. Add the wine and garlic and cook while stirring to scrape up the browned bits fro the bottom of the pan, decrease the heat, and simmer for 2 to 3 min.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. butter and the parsley to the pan, whisking until incorporated. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

The Eye-Popping Italian

My Take on the Bake
This was one of my favorite Italian dishes before I went gluten-free, so I was super-excited to try it at home. The sauce was really thin, and I thought there wouldn't be enough, but it seemed to adequately cover everything. And the chicken turned out fine even though we didn't have the baking soda to add to it. This was a really tasty meal that you should definitely try at home! Again, I'm not one for hot spiciness, but I do enjoy flavorful things, and I really enjoyed the tart, unique flavor of the lemon and caper sauce over the chicken.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fee Fie Foe Fum, I'll Grind Your Sorghum to Make My Bread!

The Recipe: Ancient Grains Bread
  • Bread Machine Method
  • from "Complete Gluten-Free Cookbook"
  • Supposedly makes 15 slices
The Ingredients:
1 c. sorghum flour
3/4 c. amaranth flour
3/4 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. quinoa flour
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 tbsp xanthan gum
3/4 tsp bread machine or instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

The Directions:
1. In a large bowl or plastic bag, combine sorghum flour, amaranth flour, cornmeal, quinoa flour, tapioca starch, brown sugar, xanthan gum, yeast and salt. Mix well and set aside.

2. Pour water, oil, and vinegar into the bread machine baking pan. Add eggs and egg whites.

3. For this step the book had some directions that didn't fit with our simple bread machine. So we just added the mixed ingredients, guessed at a setting, and then let the machine do the work for us for about 3 hours.

The Grand Grains

My Take on the Bake
We got the diverse flours at a health foods store. They seem to be a staple of gluten-free baking if you're making recipes from gluten-free recipe books, but like I said in my last post, stores are now selling all-purpose gluten-free baking flour that you could use in your own recipes. We didn't have cider vinegar, so we substituted with Pinot Grigio vinegar, a great-smelling alternative.This turned out to be a very dense loaf of bread that probably only yields about 8-10 slices.

The aromatic smell filled the house and made my nostrils jump with joy as this bread baked. My first reaction when I tasted it, however, was disappointment. It was too dense and nutty flavored to enjoy plain with a bit of butter. Then my mom had the brilliant idea to toast it, and with a smearing of gooseberry preserves (from IKEA of course), this gluten-free toast tasted mahhhhvelous! Toasting it seemed to either dampen the nutty flavor or bring out the grainy flavor so it tasted more like normal bread. I'd definitely make it again and eat it with jam or make a toasted PB&J sandwich. Who needs wheat? Not I, Wheatless Welch! 

Fancy encrusted salmon recipe from "gluten free 'Every Day'" Cookbook

The Recipe: Hazelnut-Encrusted Salmon with Cilantro-Lime Creme

  • serves 4
  • *Fancy Enough to Impress your In-Laws* Alert
  • I served it with a side of salad and millet flavored with bouillon powder and assorted herbs.

The Ingredients:
1/4 c. sour cream
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp minced fresh cilantro
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. tapioca flour
1/2 c. hazelnuts, ground
1/3 c. gluten-free dried bread crumbs
2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
2 large eggs
olive oil, for panfrying
4 (6-oz) salmon fillets, skin and pin bones removed

The Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. For the creme: In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until needed.

For the salmon: In a shallow bowl, combine the tapioca flour and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside. In a 9-in. pie plate, combine the hazelnuts, bread crumbs, and rosemary; stir to blend. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until pale and frothy.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat 1/4 inch olive oil over med-high heat. Dredge both sides of the salmon fillets in the tapioca flour, then in the eggs, and then in the hazelnut mixture. Place the salmon fillets in the skillet and cook until lightly browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 min. Flip the salmon over and repeat on the other side. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until the salmon is flaky and slightly translucent, 5 to 7 min. Serve with a dollop of cilantro-lime creme.

The Elegant Evidence

My Take on the Bake
This was a very tasty dish! We couldn't find hazelnuts anywhere in the grocery store, so we used pecans instead, which tasted fabulous. We also couldn't find tapioca flour anywhere, so we substituted with gluten-free baking flour, a mix of different gluten-free grain flours, which we found in the normal flour aisle at Meijer's. It did take me a minute to get used to eating nuts on a meat, but I was won over by the end of eating my fillet. Add in the cilantro-lime creme and you've got an interesting medley of flavors for your tongue to play with.

My mom was surprised, however, to find this recipe in my cookbook titled "gluten free Every Day." She says nice restaurants serve this dish, and it certainly wouldn't be an every day meal. Unfortunately, most of the meals in this book are fancier dishes that take a long time to prepare. I think sometime soon I'm going to experiment with making some simple quinoa and polenta dishes that won't take long, because I do really need to learn how to make quick easy dinners for most days of the rest of my life when I don't live in a dorm *college ends sometime, really?*