Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hail Caesar!!!

I've really enjoyed my venture into blogging so far. I constantly find my self stumbling across new sites with mouth watering pictures and great ideas. I always think; "oh, that sounds great," or "I haven't made that in a long time." The vast array of food blogs have essentially created the world's largest cookbook via the Internet. With Summer weather heating up the Portland area lately, I've been thinking about cool refreshing meals. I came across Lydia's blog at The Perfect Pantry and her recipe for Caesar salad with shrimp. I knew right away that a Caesar salad was just what I needed for a quick delicious warm weather meal. Authentic Caesar dressing contains anchovies. I personally don't mind anchovies but I know many people turn away in disgust at the thought of these little salty fish. To omit anchovies in a Caesar salad would be a big mistake. They add a complex element to the dressing that gives it the perfect balance of flavors. I don't stock tins of anchovies in my pantry. On the rare occasion that I ever need them, I use a tiny bit and end up throwing the rest out. Lydia gave me the great idea to purchase a tube of anchovy paste. You can use just a little bit and then store the rest in the refrigerator for a long time until it is needed again. I'm not a squeamish person, I won't regale you with stories from years as an emergency medical care provider to prove it. But trust me, I've seen some unpleasant things. I have to admit that squeezing pureed salty fish goo from a toothpaste tube into something I'm about to eat is not very appealing. However, I know this is necessary to achieve a great tasting Caesar dressing. So squeeze away.

The biggest element missing from any gluten free Caesar salad is croutons. I took two slices of gluten free sandwich bread and cubed them. We use Whole Foods white sandwich bread. I lightly coated the cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper, sage, and thyme. I would have used garlic also but I forgot. I toasted them on a baking sheet in a 300 degree F oven for about 10 minutes. I turned them over and baked for about 5-10 minutes more until they were very crunchy.

Caesar Dressing:
From The Perfect Pantry
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp anchovy paste (mmm mmm good)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins is GF)
2 tsp lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
3 Tbs grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pinch of pepper
Mix together in a small bowl and refrigerate at least 20 minutes before using. I sampled the dressing before mixing into the salad. The dressing had an intense flavor that I wasn't too sure about. Once it mixed in with the lettuce and other salad ingredients it was perfect. Who eats big spoonfuls of dressing anyway?

I used nearly a whole head of Romaine lettuce torn into bite size pieces. Add croutons, shaved Parmesan cheese, and Caesar dressing. Add dressing a little at a time and toss. Taste the salad and stop adding dressing when you are happy with the flavors. I topped my salad with a grilled Herbs de Provence crusted chicken breast. A perfect meal to eat while sitting on the deck enjoying the great weather. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another Step Forward

I'm usually the last to know something, so if you are already aware that Betty Crocker has a line of gluten free mixes coming out this summer, please stop reading now. If you didn't know, you can check out Betty Crocker's website for more information. I'm sure this information has been out for a while. I'm just not up to date on all the breaking news for GF related products. But please, someone leave a comment to tell me I'm not alone. All I need is to know I broke this news to someone out there who didn't know months ago that this was coming. Gluten free goodness has come along way and it keeps getting better.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gluten Free Cookbook Review- Part 1

I just received a copy of Gluten Free Every Day from the fine folks at Andrews McMeel Publishing. The book is written by chef Robert Landolphi. My plan is to try a few of the recipes in the book and then give an overall review. Two things that really strike me about this book at first glance are: one, I have most of the ingredients used in the book in my pantry already and two, the recipes appear straight forward and as the title suggests, easy enough to prepare everyday. I had some left over fresh shrimp in my refrigerator that I had not used in my earlier taco recipe. As I flipped through the book, I came upon a Shrimp Pad Thai recipe. Perfect! I had most of what I needed already and a quick trip to the store completed my ingredient list.

Shrimp and Vegetable Pad Thai:
from Gluten Free Every Day
7 ounces uncooked gluten-free rice stick noodles
1/4 cup GF fish sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 Tbs dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbs Asian sesame oil
3 Tbs peanut oil
1 pound medium shrimp (peeled, deveined)
1 cup mung bean sprouts
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
4 green onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Prepare the noodles according to the package directions. Drain in a colander and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes until the sugar is dissolved.

Prepare all the vegetables. In a large pan, heat the sesame and peanut oils over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and saute until pink, about 3 minutes. Add the bean sprouts, carrots, bell pepper, shallot, garlic, and noodles and saute for 3-4 minutes. Pour the sauce into the pan and, using tongs, toss until combined and coated. When the sauce is almost evaporated from the bottom of the pan, add the peanuts and green onions and cook 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice and cilantro.

Pile high and eat. Enjoy!!!
I appreciate the simplicity of this recipe. I made it on a week night after working all day and it was perfect. I was in and out of the kitchen with minimal clean up. I loved the bold flavor combination of citrus from the lime, cilantro, and spicy/salty notes from the sauce. I had enough left over to take to work for lunch the next day. After sitting over night, I think the flavors melded even more and really made for a great lunch. I'll be back with another recipe review from Gluten Free Every Day soon. For more shrimp dinner ideas please visit Diane over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang for a Friday Foodie Fix.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eat My Gluten-Free Dust, Campbell's

OK, maybe my title is a bit harsh. I mean no disrespect to the fine folks at the Campbell Soup Company, who have been cranking out cans of soup since the dawn of time. I might be slightly envious of the whole portable, heat and eat, "Mmm Mmm Good" thing. However, in reality, there are times when I appreciate my wife's Celiac Disease. I know if my wife could eat whatever she wanted we would never look back. But really, gluten free cooking has forced allowed me to actually learn how to cook. I've discovered something that I enjoy and take pride in being able to do. Had I never met my wife, or if she didn't have Celiac, I would be eating a lot more prepackaged, made last year in a sweatshop, mechanically processed food. Instead, I get to create something that is all my own. Is regular pizza good? Yes. Is making pizza from scratch an accomplishment that you might not have experienced if you didn't eat gluten free? Absolutely. Think of it like all of the "art" your kids make you. Is a Monet painting beautiful? Yes. Is a sheet of notebook paper with fifty tiny penguin stickers in one corner, next to puffy fluorescent orange and green dinosaur stickers, with swirls from five different Crayons interlaced on the paper a masterpiece from a three year old? Absolutely. I'll take that over a Monet any day. In fact, I just happen to have that North Pole meets Land Before Time masterpiece on my refrigerator right now. My whole point, if there is one, is that while a gluten free diet can be frustrating and restrictive at times, it can also be adventurous and creative. I can't think of another time in my life that I've focused on food the way I do now. When my wife and I find a new food in the store or a restaurant serving gluten free items, we feel like we've just discovered buried treasure. We are almost giddy and want to give our support to the businesses making an effort to cater to restrictive diets. We're excited to share our discovery with others and let people in on the secret. Note: This analogy is used for illustrating a point only. If I really find buried treasure, there will be no sharing or letting anyone in on the secret. Wow, that sure is a lot of rambling leading up to a recipe for homemade chicken noodle soup. This is a meal that I can almost guarantee I would have never made from scratch if my wife didn't have Celiac. As it turns out, this soup far surpasses anything I have eaten out of a can.
Gluten Free Chicken Noodle Soup:
From Bette Hagman's: "The Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy"
1/3 Cup bean flour (I use Garfava flour)
1/3 Cup cornstarch
1/3 Cup tapioca starch
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs Olive oil
2 large eggs
1 Tbs oil
1 medium onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
4 ribs of celery (chopped) (reserve half)
2-3 large carrots (sliced) (reserve half)
3 quarts chicken broth (I happened to made homemade for this, but I usually used Pacific Foods Chicken Broth)
about a pound of cooked chicken meat (leftovers are great here) (reserve half)
1-1/2 tsp Sage
1-1/2 tsp Thyme
2 Bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste (about 1-2 tsps each)
In a large stockpot over medium heat, add oil and saute onion, garlic, and half of the carrots and celery for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, 1/2 the chicken meat, Sage, Thyme, Bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. While the soup it simmering, check the flavor of the broth periodically. Adjust seasonings as you see fit. After 20 minutes of simmering, add remaining chicken, carrots, celery, and uncooked pasta. Cook for and additional 6-10 minutes.

For the noodles: whisk dry ingredients together. Add eggs and oil. Mix thoroughly. The dough is very sticky. Once the dough is mixed, press it into a thick disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. Place dough in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Remove dough from the freezer. On a cornstarch or tapioca starch covered surface, cut the disc into four equal pieces. Roll until thin enough to go through a pasta maker or roll very thin and cut noodles by hand with a knife. I used a pasta attachment for my KitchenAid Mixer. I rolled it through a flat roller attachment twice to reduce the thickness. I then used a Fettuccine attachment to cut the noodles.

Eat up and take pride in your culinary treasure. Enjoy!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shrimp Tacos with Garlic-Chipotle Butter

I wanted to get this post done a bit earlier to contribute to the Friday Foodie Fix hosted by Diane at The W.H.O.L.E. gang. I suppose it's better late than never. Tonight I made shrimp tacos with garlic-chipotle butter and a tomatillo salsa. There is an ongoing list in my head of things that I never could have imagined about my life. I often think if I traveled back in time to have a chat with my late teens, early twenties self, what things about my life now would I be surprised by. Becoming a firefighter; never saw that coming. Marrying the love of my life and having a beautiful daughter; couldn't have pictured that either. Having a food blog focused on gluten free cuisine; A. I wouldn't have known what a blog was and B. I wouldn't have a clue what Celiac Disease and living gluten free is all about. Most shocking of all, I wouldn't believe that I would get sucked into watching the Food Network. There, I said it, I watch people cook food on TV. My dad would get a good laugh out of that. When I lived at home I was bored to death as my dad insisted on watching golf on TV. Now, I watch Iron Chef America, Good Eats, and Throwdown with Bobby Flay. It's almost depressing to see my admission in print. To top if off, I asked my wife for a Bobby Flay cookbook for my birthday. My recipe tonight comes from that cookbook: Bobby Flay's MESA Grill Cookbook.
There are a few recipes in the book for compound butters. To be honest, other than garlic butter, I have never thought about creating flavored butters with herbs and spices. I am just starting to experiment with compound butters and I am pleased by the results so far. I will give the full recipes, however, I have a small family so I usually cut the recipes in half.
Garlic-Chipotle Butter:
1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 small shallot ( I used a little yellow onion instead)
1-1/2 sticks of butter (12 Tbs) at room temperature
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (That's 2 whole chiles, not 2 cans of chiles)
Juice from 1 lime
pinch of salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic and shallots / onion until soft. Put butter, sauteed shallot/garlic mix, chipotles, lime juice, salt and pepper into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Scoop onto parchment paper. Roll the butter up in the paper and twist the ends like you're packaging a hard candy. Place in the refrigerator.

Tomatillo Salsa and Garlic-Chipotle Compound Butter

Tomatillo Salsa:
10 tomatillos, husked and scrubbed
3 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/4 finely chopped red onion
1 serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs honey
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Dice 5 tomatillos and place in a bowl. Take the other 5 tomatillos, cut in half and place in a blender or food processor. Add lime juice and blend until smooth. Pour into the bowl with the diced tomatillos. Add red onion, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Place salsa in the refrigerator. Just before serving, stir in the diced cilantro.

Prepare shrimp by deveining and removing the shell. Place about 2 Tbs of garlic-chipotle butter in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook thoroughly.

Prepare your tacos with your favorite ingredients. After adding shrimp to the tacos, place a little more garlic-chipotle butter on each shrimp to melt and give the taco even more flavor. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pot Roast and Gluten Free Gravy

When I think of comfort food, there are really only two meals that grab me and make me appreciate true home cooking. The first is a turkey dinner served at Thanksgiving and the second is a well-cooked pot roast. Don't get me wrong, I'll eat anything that is presented to me on a plate, however, turkey and pot roast are meals that completely satisfy me. They require loosening of the top button on my pants and no immediate plans to do anything afterward. In fact, I'm barely able to summon the strength to carry my plate to the sink. Oddly enough, I do have just enough energy left to operate a fork to dismantle a dessert should it come my way.

For my pot roast, I use 3-4 pounds of bottom round roast. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a pan and brown all sides of the roast. In the crock pot, empty 1 packet of dry Lipton's Onion Soup mix plus 3 cups of water. I also add chopped garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and 1 bay leaf to the crock pot. Place meat in the crock pot and cook on high for about 3-1/2 -4 hours. Add celery, onions, and carrots and continue cooking for 30-45 minutes.

My wife is the mashed potato wizard in the family. Hey, I like the sound of that. I may have to use that in the future. Wouldn't that make any woman proud to have that moniker? I can see it in cards; Happy Birthday Mashed Potato Wizard! Merry Christmas MPW! OK, back on track. My wife makes very creamy potatoes with a combination of butter, milk, sour cream, salt, and pepper all whipped into a frenzy of potatoee goodness. For my part, I make the gravy. I think gravy was one of my biggest challenges to make gluten free, second only to bread. Let me rephrase that. Making good gravy was a challenge. I had no problem making lumpy, gluey, flavorless goo. I think part of the problem lies in my culinary background. Rewind a few years. My exposure to cooking when I was in high school consisted of waiting for my mom to come home after a full day of work to prepare a meal for me. From the recliner in the living room, it was hard to see exactly how she prepared my food. (Mom, if you ever figure out how to get onto the Internet and happen to read this, I have a huge appreciation for all that you did. I love you.)
My college years were no better. If I needed gravy, I tore into a 19 cent packet of powdered mix and reconstituted it with water. Yum. All this being said, I had a bit of a learning curve when taking on gravy for the first time. Let alone gluten free gravy. There were plenty of disasters along the way, as my wife can attest to. Although she would always choke it down and say "well it's been so long since I've had real gravy, I don't really remember what it's supposed to taste like. " I'm thinking: 'I know what it's supposed to taste like, and this isn't it." So here are my lessons learned in the fine art of gravy making:
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs gluten free flour mix
1-1/2 cups juice/liquid from crock pot or from roasting pan if making turkey gravy
1/2 cup water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Begin by making a gluten free roux (equal parts fat and flour).
I usually make my roux with 2 Tbs of butter and 2 Tbs of gluten free flour mix but I'm sure you could substitute another fat or oil for the butter. The key is equal parts of flour and fat.
Melt butter in a sauce pan on medium-high heat. After foaming subsides, stir in flour until thoroughly mixed. About 30 seconds. Add all the liquid to the flour/butter mix and whisk continually. Bring to a boil. The gravy may be lumpy at first but it will smooth out as you whisk it. Season with salt and pepper. Start out slowly, you can always add more seasoning. Continue whisking occasionally for about 3-5 minutes. You don't want it to burn to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low. The gravy will thicken as it cools. Adjust seasoning as necessary. If the gravy is too thick, whisk in more liquid and return to a boil. If it is too thin, make a little more roux in another sauce pan, then whisk it into the gravy. It doesn't sound like rocket science but it took me awhile to make consistently smooth and tasty gravy. Pour over potatoes and anything else your heart desires.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Ode to my Traeger

O Traeger, so mighty, weathered, and dusty
So bold, so black, so rusty
You burn pellets made from wood
Whose smokiness makes my food so good
We've spent many evenings together
Grilling and smoking, despite inclement weather
You've filled a niche in my culinary desire
By transforming food, with hickory fire
From ribs to chicken and pork
I enjoy every last bite at the end of my fork
Beautiful, you ain't
But someday, I'll fix you up with a fresh coat of paint
To some, this ode is a snoozer
And I, a big loser
I will continue to praise the flavor
That I and my family savor
Now, I'm feeling a little ill
That I've thought this much about my grill
Though we've got many years left before you are retired
I best get back to work before I get fired

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gluten Free Lemon-Garlic Pork Tenderloin

Before I discuss dinner, I feel it is my duty as a Paramedic to share some basic precautions to take in regards to the worsening Swine Flu (H1N1) outbreak. First and foremost, the single best preventative step in controlling the spread of illness is to wash your hands thoroughly with warm soap and water. Secondly, avoid risky behaviours. In other words:

In all seriousness, I am kicking myself for not having a great Cinco De Mayo meal to post. My wife and I eat Mexican food on such a regular basis, I didn't even think to create something special for tonight. Instead, I have a simple meal full of flavor to present. I purchased a Hormel Lemon-Garlic Pork Tenderloin. Obviously the meat is gluten free but I wasn't sure about the lemon-garlic sauce. As I flipped the package over to read the ingredient list, I noticed a "gluten free" statement next to the ingredient list. It seems each day the world of gluten free living is getting just a little easier.

I didn't add any additional seasoning to the tenderloin. I did however cook it on my BBQ to impart a good smoky flavor to it. Recommended cooking time and temperature is 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes per pound until reaching an internal temperature of 160 degrees F

I served the tenderloin with buttered rice with scallions and steamed vegetables. Enjoy!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gluten Free Pound Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Gluten free baking often results in dense, compact cakes or breads. This is ideal when making a pound cake. With the amount of butter in this thing, my wife and I agree that it should be called pounds cake (as in you will gain pounds by eating it.)
Gluten Free Pound Cake:
Inspired by The Joy of Baking
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks- unsalted at room temp)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs (room temperature)
2 tsp vanilla
zest from 1 medium lemon
Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside
Cream together butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary.
Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and lemon zest. Gradually mix in flour mix just until combined. Spread batter into a well greased 9x5x3 inch bread loaf pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees F. Allow cake to cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes

Place pound cake on a wire rack to cool further.

Slice about 1 pint of strawberries and 1 large stalk of rhubarb. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp lemon juice. Stir 1 tsp of tapioca starch into 1/2 cup of water. Combine all these ingredients in a large sauce pan. Cook on medium high heat for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool for 2-3 minutes. Slice the pound cake, top with strawberry-rhubarb compote and whipped cream. Eat and repeat. Enjoy!!! For more gluten free strawberry dishes, visit Diane over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.