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?*

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stir Fry Freedom

The Recipe: Stir Fry
  • My step-dad helped me through this one. He has a general formula in his head for making stir fry but varies the ingredients and spices for fun every time. So here is the written form of his general formula.
  • Note: we used a cephalon wok to even out the heat. 
  • If you don't have much time, try beef and broccoli over white rice. Ready in 25-30 min. I chose the longer version with a prep time of 50-55 min.
The Ingredients:

Basic ingredients: some form of rice, some form of meat, some form of vegetables, soy sauce/tamari, ginger, and garlic.

Rice: You'll want about a cup of cooked rice per person. The ratio is 1 c. uncooked rice takes 2 c. water to make (plus a little extra to avoid burning) and makes 3 c. cooked rice. Brown rice takes 45 min. to make and white rice takes 20 min. to make. Since we were adding lots of vegetables and needed lots of prep time, we started the brown rice then prepped and stir-fried, and were done with each at about the same time.

Meat: My step-dad's favorite meat to use is pork, but I like beef better, which is what I used this time. Chicken and shrimp also go well.

Veggies: I used broccoli, baby carrots, orange bell peppers, canned baby corn, snow peas, and water chestnuts. I would've used mushrooms but we didn't have any in the house.

Sauce: I used gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce because it often has gluten in it. As for the spices, fresh ginger root and fresh garlic are the best, but pastes and powders will also work. We used ginger paste and minced garlic from a jar this time. Those three ingredients are a must have and can work okay alone for a college student or a young adult starting out with few spices in an apartment. But we spiced it up a bit more by throwing in pinches of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili garlic paste. Note on the turmeric: it's orange and stains, so don't get any on your clothes and clean it up from the counter immediately. I think if my step-dad could choose any of these extras as a fourth sauce staple, he would choose the turmeric. Note on the garlic paste: I like mild but tasty and a tsp. of the garlic paste was just right for me, so if you like spicy add more.

The Directions:

1. Start water boiling for the rice, then add the rice and simmer on low for 45 minutes.

2. Cut up as many vegetables as you would like. We used a whole pepper, one broccoli stalk, a small can of water chestnuts, a can of baby corn, a large handful of baby carrots, and perhaps a cupish of snow peas. Note on organization: You will need to start cooking the more substantive vegetables first so that they cook longer. If you are putting your veggies together in a large bowl, put the substantive ones on top so you can spoon them out first.

3. Cut up meat. First cut off fat on the side by picking up the slab of meat and pulling the fat string off to the side while sliding the knife in between the fat and the meat. Cut the meat into long strips, each about 1/4 inch thick, then turn the strips and cut them into 1 inch squares.

4. With a little less than 20 minutes left to go on the rice, add a tbsp. or two of olive oil into the wok. Add to this about a tbsp. of ginger paste and a tbsp. of minced garlic, but if you aren't adding more spices later, compensate by adding more ginger and garlic. Turn heat up to med-high and saute for a couple min.

5. Put meat into the wok and turn the heat up a little. Add about a tsp. of each of the spices mentioned above or whatever spices you choose. Stir meat around until it's about 75% done (it will cook more later) and put it in a bowl.

6. Add a little water to the wok and cook the substantive vegetables first (such as broccoli), then add the other vegetables (such as pease and carrots) minus the canned vegetables. Cook to about 75% of your desired consistency (I prefer soft vegetables but my step-dad prefers more raw) and then set aside in a bowl.

7. Turn the heat down to med. and cover the bottom of the wok with tamari. Then take a 1/4 cup measuring cup, fill halfway with water, spoon in about a tbsp. corn starch (or flour if you can eat gluten), and stir so there aren't any lumps. Add to tamari and stir. Add more spices if you didn't get the chance earlier.

8. Turn heat a little higher and put veggies back into the wok. Add the canned veggies and stir for a couple min.

9. Add meat and stir for a few minutes until everything is cooked to your desire.

10. Serve the stir-fry over rice, and have extra tamari and hot sauce on hand for people to adjust the sauce to their taste, although the sauce should be splendid without it.

The Sizzling Sight

Wokcha lookin at?

Stare at me. I'm beautiful.

My Take on the Bake
It was delicious! I'm so happy I learned how to stir fry because now I can make many different dinners from just one recipe, and they are easily made gluten-free! The recipe is very flexible - I can be adventurous and try out different mixes of spices, AND it won't be the end of the world if I mix up the order of things or put in the wrong amounts. I think every 18 year old should exercise their newfound freedom by voting and learning how to stir fry. Stir-frying is so liberating!

My only note on flavor: my step-dad might've added more than a tsp. of turmeric, and while I like the flavor, I would use a lot less of it because it tends to over-power other flavors.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hallelujah! Mac 'N Cheese is Back on the Menu!!! And a Heavenly Swedish Dessert

The Recipe: Macaroni and Cheese

  • from
  • This recipe makes one serving. I used an entire 8 oz.  box of gluten-free pasta and an 8 oz. bag of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, which made 4 servings.
  • goes well with cooked frozen mixed vegetables
  • COLLEGE CUISINE ALERT = fast, few ingredients, only two saucepans

Ingredients for gluten free macaroni and cheese

  • 2-3oz gluten free pasta shapes or macaroni
  • 3oz grated cheddar cheese
  • 7 fl oz (1 cup) milk or milk substitute
  • 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (optional)


Bring a pan of water to the boil, then tip in the gluten free pasta. Check the packet for cooking times but generally it will take about 8-10 minutes. *The box I used said 4-6 minutes but it really took 8-10 minutes, as this recipe says.
Meanwhile pop the grated cheese, cornflour and paprika into a ziplock plastic bag or flour shaker and shake it to coat the cheese.
Pour the milk into a separate saucepan and warm gently, do not bring to the boil!
Once the milk is warmed and just beginning to make bubbles around the edge of the pan, take it off the heat and pour in the cheese mixture. Stir thoroughly and then return to the heat. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens, it won't take long. Remove from the heat while you strain the pasta.

The Miraculous Mirage

To make this yummy Swedish dessert, spoon refrigerated cloudberry jam onto vanilla bean  ice cream and gasp at the amazing sweet- and tangyness! You can get cloudberry jam at IKEA, but I don't know about other stores.

My Take on the Bake:
Within the first 5 seconds of me finding out I wouldn't be able to eat wheat for the rest of my life, I thought, "As long as I can eat ice cream, I'll survive." I should've thought, "As long as I can eat ice cream AND MAC 'N CHEESE, I'll survive!" With this gluten-free recipe, mac n cheese is back on the menu! Hallelujah! The end product had a little too much sauce, but a slotted spoon will fix this. The sauce was very creamy and cheesy - just right! With this dish, unlike the stroganoff that had many blended flavors, I could actually taste the lack of gluten in the noodles. It wasn't a bad taste, however, just something new. My dad and boyfriend couldn't actually taste the difference. My taste-buds must be better tuned to wheat now that they never get any...I would definitely be able to tell if I had some again. Wonder if I'll eventually forget what it tastes like? Who cares? I can eat gluten-free mac n cheese :)

Vegetable Stroganoff - Couldn't Believe this Amazingness was Gluten-Free!

The Recipe: Vegetable Stroganoff

  • from Moosewood Cookbook, recipes from Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY
  • I modified the ingredients to make it gluten-free by using GF tamari and GF noodles
  • serves 6
  • cook time = 1 hour

I. The Sauce

3 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. plain yogurt
3 tbsp. dry, red wine
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 lb.  chopped mushrooms
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dill weed
dash of gluten-free tamari sauce
dash of paprika
dash of black pepper
2 tbsp. butter

Saute onions and mushrooms in butter until onions are soft. Combine all ingredients in the top of a double boiler and heat gently about 30 minutes.

II. While the sauce simmers, steam 6 cups chopped, fresh vegetables. Highly recommended: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, celery, cabbage, peppers, or cherry tomatoes. *My family always cooks with broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.

III. Cook 4 cups gluten-free noodles (normally egg noodles) in boiling, salted water until tender. Drain. Put noodles in soup bowls, then add vegetables, then add the sauce.

The Deliciousness Poses for a Beauty Shot

My Take on the Bake
This dish tastes heavenly. I love the fresh and unique flavor the dill, wine, and tamari gives the sauce. Seriously, even if you have to indulge yourself and make this dish with glutenous noodles, you NEED to try this at home! In fact, why don't you indulge yourself with gluten-free noodles, because I didn't even notice they weren't made of wheat! It could've been that they were smothered in sauce and veggies, but regardless this dish made me feel that I'd never even heard of celiac disease before!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Navigating the Blogosphere *Warning, off-topic*

I just tried to figure out how to search for blogs on a certain subject through the Blogger ( website, but I couldn't find a way. Anyone know how? Instead I kept clicking the "next blog" button on the upper left hand corner of this blog. Wow, there are a ridiculous number of blogs that deal with wellness, including exercise, losing weight, and cooking. It's ridiculous how many people's blogs were just listings of that day's exercise (literally how many reps they did for what exercise) or progress in weight loss. Also silly to me was the number of, well basically online diaries people had. It's called paper people, it works and is really less lame. Very few of the blogs had an "About Me" section that actually explained what the blog was about. At least I think my blog makes sense and is well explained. I don't get how people can spend hours reading these blogs. Boring. Unless I haven't been able to find the interesting ones yet.*

A couple ones I did find interesting: is a blog by a fellow Obie about her winter term project recording and mixing music. For gluten-free blogs, the best I've seen for recipes and general tips are and

*Okay so I ran into a dead-end on, but I did eventually find which is very helpful. 

Trying Things I wouldn't Have Tried Before Celiac Disease Crept Into My Life

The Recipe: Nachos

Gluten-Free Nacho Cheese Dip Recipe (from

  • Cooking time = 10 min
  • Makes 1 1/4 cups
  • I doubled the recipe for nachos for 3 people, but I would've been fine without doubling it.

2 tbsp. amaranth flour or sweet rice flour (check your local grocery's gluten-free section or look at Dale's Natural Foods Store on Miller Rd. across from BD's Mongolian BBQ, Red Mill is a good brand)
2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 c. milk or dairy free substitute
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese, or whatever other cheeses you prefer
1 1/2 tsp. gluten-free taco seasoning (recipe below)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
2 tsp. finely diced fresh jalapeños or to taste (optional)

1. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan on medium low heat. Whisk in amaranth flour and stir until a bubbly paste forms. Cook for two minutes being careful not to let the mixture brown.
2. Add milk or substitute and whisk until the sauce is smooth and thick. Bring just to a slow bubbly boil and remove from heat.
3. Add grated grated cheeses, garlic powder, onion powder, gluten-free taco seasoning and jalapeños. Stir until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth and creamy.

Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons gluten free onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons crushed dried red pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons gluten free ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


Place all ingredients in an 8 ounce jar and shake until seasonings are well distributed. Makes about 6 tablespoons of mix, or enough to season 3 pounds of ground beef. Store in a cool, dry location.

The Rest:
I browned a pound of ground beef, heated up a can of refried beans, diced tomatoes, and cut strips of lettuce, then arranged everything over a plate of tortilla chips along with a few spoonfuls of salsa.

The Evidence, Plain and Simple

My Take on the Bake
Ahhh the adventures of cooking and online recipes. The nacho sauce turned out pretty bland and not sharp enough. For one thing, I used a Mexican blend of shredded cheeses from the store. I will forever more ignore the Mexican cheese mix when I'm making Mexican meals and instead use sharp cheddar. But the real problem was I thought that the direction listed by the gluten-free taco seasoning *see below* meant that it was made up of the next three powdered ingredients. Even though the amounts of ingredients didn't make sense for that, it was an online article, not a proofread cookbook I figured. I missed the link below hidden among many tips for the dip recipe. So if you make this, use taco seasoning and it'll turn out great. Also, I didn't season the meat, so it was also pretty bland. Next time I will also use taco seasoning for the taco meat.

There's a pro to a disease? Huh?
After adding some mild salsa (yes, this is spicy for me) I was more satisfied with my meal. I was excited to finally make my own nachos with the exact toppings I wanted and not just what the restaurant had on them.                
I'm excited to make more seasoned nachos next time. Would I ever have made nachos with my own personal pick of toppings that were satisfyingly fresh if I hadn't gotten celiac disease and struggled to find foods I could eat? Probably not. At least I can thank celiac disease for making me a more adventurous and satisfied person.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Back to my Roots (=Veggies) and Gluten-Free Junk Food Dessert Creation

Traveling in Swedish Style
On my way back from my sister's college, I found myself again in the travel predicament: how do I eat gluten-free on the road? This time my situation was a little different than the beginning of my voyage - I was meeting my boyfriend at the huge housing supply warehouse every college student dreams of visiting before move-in day = IKEA! I wasn't looking to buy, just to be awed and admire and think of how to decorate my next dorm or apartment. I was especially excited to visit IKEA because I'm of Swedish ancestry...but all those roots paid me back with was with vegetables at the cafe. I oggled at the Swedish meatballs but instead ate mashed potatoes, hot vegetables, Scandinavian potato chips, and potato/broccoli/onion cakes. Actually those vegetable sidedishes tasted really great! The mashed potatoes were made from russet or redskin potatoes and had some skins in them. I'll have to try that sometime, along with some gluten-FREE Swedish meatballs to dig into my roots.

The Veracious Vegetables

Fighting Back Loss of Bread with Deliciousness
That night I was still a little hungry, so my boyfriend invented a sweet and sinful snack for dessert. He took a glass of Sierra Mist Natural and added a large scoop of orange sherbet, turning my pop into a creamsicle smoothie! To top it off, he handed me some Veggie crisp sticks that he told me to use as straws. Mmm tasting deliciousness through salty veggie sweetness!

The EnTENCE Evidence

Monday, January 10, 2011

The College Kitchen Kerfuffle

The Recipe: Rice and Bean Casserole
  • College Cuisine alert, but only if you have the correct pot and pan ware (i.e. it's simple with few ingredients)
  • Feeds 4-6 people
  • est. cooking time = 1 hr 10 min
  • I normally eat this by scooping it up with tortilla chips.

The Ingredients:
1 large jar of salsa
2-3 c. sharp cheddar cheese
2 c. brown rice
4 1/4 c. water
2 cans red kidney beans

The Directions:
Boil water. Add rice. Bring to boil. Cook rice on low for 45 min. Mix rice, cheese, beans, and salsa together and bake approximately 20 min (could heat bean, salsa, and cheese mixture in the microwave if don't have an oven).

Exhibit K

My take on the kerfuffled bake
Let me just start by saying I didn't exactly follow my own directions. I have this tendency to add too much of an ingredient when it comes in a small bag or can - instead of measuring it out I pour it all in without thinking. I did this with the rice and kidney beans for this recipe. I ended up with twice as much rice as I needed and extra liquid from the kidney bean cans. Who knew you had to drain them first? Then I added more cheese to correct for the doubled rice, but then realized I didn't have any more salsa to add to the pot which already didn't have as much salsa as it was supposed to (I had bought a small jar of salsa instead of a big one).

To make matters worse, I didn't know how to proceed into phase two of the recipe. My sister had told me her friend had a bunch of cooking ware and we'd be able to use it, but we couldn't figure out if any of those pots and pans could go in the oven. We also didn't have anything to fit the now doubled casserole into the microwave with, and we were getting hungry. So I let the mixture simmer on the stove. Then my sister thought I should turn the heat up to make the cheese melt faster. Five minutes later I realized that the liquid in the pot was boiling, and there was a burned smell in the air. So I turned off the stove and settled down for a meal of burned cheesy rice stew. Okay, it actually didn't taste that bad - even my sister's friends thought it was fine. But not at all how I had planned it. Don't worry, it tastes great when you make it right!

Following Ms. Frizzle's Advice
I'll just have to have my mom show me which cooking wares are meant for the oven sometime soon. The food might not taste as good if Mom's missing while I'm cooking, but the adventures are more exciting, that's for sure! Cooking by myself is helping me get a feel for how things go bad in the kitchen and the instincts that will tell me what not to do in the future.As Ms. Frizzle would say, "Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Traveling gluten-free with Scrumptious Soup

The Recipe: Corn Chowder

  • serves 8

2 oz salted pork, diced and fried brown. Diced spiral cut ham is an easy alternative. Add 1 small sliced onion and cook 5 minutes.

Add in layers:
1 c. corn
2 c. diced potatoes
1 1/2 c. raw or canned tomatoes
1 T brown sugar
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
4 c. boiling water

Cook slowly until tender. Stir in 1 cup of milk or add a dash to individual bowls (for a beautiful swirl).

The Exquisite Evidence

Wheatless Welch flaunting her Inner French Chef

My Take on the Bake
A delicious and hearty soup to warm the soul. Feels great on a cold January evening. The chopping was a bother for me as I am still learning to confidently wield large sharp knives without chopping off my digits, but hopefully I'll get better with all of the practice this month. Normally we add a dash of milk to our soup bowls after serving, but I didn't have any milk to eat it with when I took this picture. It still tasted fine, just less chowdery without the dairy product.

My first travel experience gluten-free
I didn't have any milk because I am visiting my sister at college this weekend, and she didn't have any. I'm just starting to grasp how hard it will be on all of my future travels to eat gluten-free. During our 5 hour car drive,
we stopped at a Panera Bread and my sister ordered a panini. I asked if they had any gluten-free options, but they didn't. Instead I fed myself with a piece of fruit and tons of tortilla chips while driving. What if I had to go on a really long driving trip? I wouldn't have much luck at fast food places. Instead I'd have to pack a cold dinner and stop to eat. I'm thinking chips and salsa, salads, wraps, or sandwiches with gluten-free bread. As for staying someplace, I'm lucky my sister has a microwave or I'd be stuck with the above menu the whole time, or venture into unfamiliar restaurants and ask for gluten-free options. With just a microwave and no pots or pans I had to make the soup before I left home. Luckily her friend has some, so I'll be able to make rice for dinner tonight. My gluten-free traveling will just have to be very well thought out.

Lentil "Soup" and an Argument for Gen Ed Req's *

The Recipelentil soup as found on the back of a Ziyad Red Lentils package.
  • prep time: 40 minutes
  • very healthy! Nutrition facts on bag of lentils say for 1/4 cup, there is no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, but you get 28% of your dietary fiber! Happy pooping.
  • Serves 6 supposedly
2 c. Ziyad Red Lentils
8 c. water or broth
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. turmeric or paprika
1 large onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 bouillon cube of choice (optional)

1. Wash lentils. Combine with broth and bring to a boil. Cover for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally.
2. When lentils are tender, add dry spices and bouillon (optional) to the pot.
3. Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until golden brown. Then add to soup mixture.
4. Simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, add lemon juice and stir. Ladle soup into bowls.
5. Garnish with parsley and paprika. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

The Scrumptious Evidence

A gluten-free glutton and her glutenous glutton sharing some dessert

My Take on the Bake
I was surprised the recipe was called lentil "soup." It was more like a stew or a mushy pot of goodness. I couldn't even see the lentils at all, just their creamy remains. And it doesn't serve 6 people - it barely served the 5 people I was with plus salad as a whole dinner. I would recommend this dish for a group of 4 diners. It was very tasty and had a nice thick and creamy texture to it. I did, however, need to add a little pepper to spice it up a bit. My step-dad, who adds hot sauce to everything, said it was good and then added hot sauce, as well as my boyfriend. I prefer mild but flavorful dishes, but if you prefer spice I would definitely add some to this dish.

Cooks should relish their General Education requirements
As for the directions, I wish a scientist had written them. Or at least someone who was required to take a laboratory course or one of Dawson's classes at Oberlin College. I know it is said that cooking is more of an art than a science, but by including directions, producers of cookbooks and products with recipes on the back insert science into the cooking process. I am trained to follow step-by-step directions, but the order of some of the steps in this recipe is confusing. For instance, in Step 2, I am told to add spices to the pot when the lentils are tender. They felt tender enough after two minutes, yet did the writers of the recipe really intend for me to add spices in the first 2 minutes of a 30 minute window? In step 3, does it matter when I add the sauteed mixture? Possibly it doesn't, but I think the cook should have specified either when to add it or to add it anytime. And in step 4, do I simmer the soup for 5 minutes and then turn the heat off, or turn the heat off as a way to let it simmer? 

When I asked my Mom some of these questions, she made a few guesses and then reminded me that the dish would probably turn out fine in the end no matter how I interpreted these directions. In conclusion, I request recipe writers to be more clear, while on the other hand I am learning to let go of my anal analyses and enjoy whatever food comes out of the kitchen

*This is actually dinner from Thursday, Jan. 6.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

C-what?! Disease and my last glutenous meal.

The Disease
I bet most people don't go to college and find out that they have a life-altering disease within their first semester. Yeah, I consider myself pretty accomplished already. It all started with the subject header of an e-mail (Student Health Services is sooo advanced) saying that I probably had celiac disease. I held my breath as I opened the e-mail, but I found myself no more enlightened after reading it than when my eyes had set sight on the subject header in my inbox. I panicked for a brief minute (what the heck was celiac disease? Was I gonna die?) before I remembered that Google existed. According to Google Health, "Celiac disease is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats." A few months later my diagnosis was confirmed by a biopsy, and I became Wheatless Welch, eating what no Welch has eaten before *dun dun dun*

The Wheaty Goodness and Denial
Okay, I didn't particularly care for rye. Good riddance. Barley tasted good in stews, but when does a college kid ever eat stew anyway? But wheat, oh glorious carbohydrate that powered my nightly 2am study sessions and 4am weekend snacking sessions, how could I give it up? Oh Honey Nut Cheerios, oh pizza, oh Wasa crispbread, oh Triscuits, oh Ritz crackers, oh PASTA, oh PB&J sandwiches, could life go on without them? I would soon find out in a do or die experiment. At least I would have ice cream to cope. But first, to make a wonderful last meal commemorating wheaty goodness.

I decided on Monkey Bread, a favorite holiday breakfast of our family. I've been told it's called monkey bread because you have to pick it apart piece by piece to eat it, like a monkey supposedly eats. Great to keep kids occupied and make them forget about opening presents until you've finished cooking the rest of breakfast (goes well with quiche and fruit), as I've been told by my mom. It's insanely delicious! So for those glutenous folks who might read my blog, here's the recipe:

1. Cut 4 tubes of Pillsbury biscuit dough into quarters.
2. Mix cinnamon and white sugar in a ziploc bag or empty bread bag.
3. Toss several biscuit quarters at a time in the bag to coat with cinnamon and white sugar.
4. Melt 1 stick of butter and 1 cup brown sugar. Bring to boil. Add 1 tsp vanilla.
5. Put biscuits into greased bundt pan. Top with butter mixture.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes

It was so delicious this was all that was left!

The Project
Jesus once said "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,'" - Matthew 4:4. Yes, it's possible to live sans wheat bread! Just one problem - I don't know how to cook many glutenous meals, let alone gluten-free ones. Don't worry though, I'm not your normal college-kid-turned-celiac, I'm superhero Wheatless Welch! I'm going to attack this gluten-free life head on, and even get college credit for it. For my Oberlin College 2011 Winter Term project, I will cook my family a gluten-free dinner every night for a month. Gluten-free chef, here I come!