Turkey Curry with Yummy Yammy Sweet Potato Salsa

YummyYammy_postcardSo my friend Lisa has this awesome company that sells sweet potato salsa- Yummy Yammy. Yeah- you read that right- sweet potato salsa. And it’s freaking delicious!!

In addition to running a boutique food company, Lisa- like me, has two amazing daughters, and divides her time between growing a company, her girls, and managing all the ins and outs of parenthood, homeownership, and spousehood. Plus she’s super cool, and she makes time to mentor other folks- like me. Ingredients for a super-hero as far as I’m concerned.

Yummy Yammy has been on my radar for well over a year. I LOVE salsa, but like many, I have to be careful about how much tomato I consume. These salsas have no tomato, but all the flavor you could want. They’re great on chips,  heated up over rice, with a fried egg (yeah we did that this morning!) or out of the container with just a spoon.

Added benefit? It’s good for you! They give you a huge dose of beta-carotene anti-oxidant love. Did I mention you won’t be able to stop eating it?

Yummy Yammy is in over 100 stores from Wisconsin to Florida- many of them Whole Foods! For those of you outside of that area, you can get them on Amazon.com though- and if you go to the Yummy Yammy Website and sign up to become a YAMBASSADOR (who doesn’t love that?!?) you can get a coupon for free shipping to try them. I recommend you try them all- they are that good! Also- any orders over $50 naturally come with free shipping. Guess what I’ll be doing for stocking stuffers this year?

YummyYammy Turkey Curry SauceNow about that Turkey…..

I’ve seen the facebook posts over the last few days- you all are sick of your turkey and ham. May I suggest an easy way to get rid of the rest of it that is so delicious you’ll stop eating long after your stomach screams it’s full?

I like curry, but I really like saying “turkey curry” because that reminds me of Bridget Jones- one of my favorite movies. One year I even had a turkey curry buffet birthday party (my birthday is close to Christmas). Of course, the curry was pork as I didn’t have turkey on hand, but who cares? And like the movie- I shamelessly orchestrated an introduction of two friends that culminated in their marriage last year 🙂 I wish all my matchmaking attempts turned out so well.

Onto the recipe! This is pretty fast to put together, and like many Adventuresome Kitchen recipes, there is plenty of room for creativity and modification. If you make some changes, let us know what you did in the comments below- we’d love to hear! And be sure to visit the Yummy Yammy website and check out all the fun things Lisa has going on over there!

Cheers & Happy Eating!

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Gluten Free Meatloaf w/ Barbeque Sauce

Gluten-Free MeatloafThere is nothing attractive about meatloaf…..except the taste. To be honest, until last week, I’d never made gluten free meatloaf. It’s not on my list of favorites. My impressions of meatloaf from childhood are less than positive.

But after repeated requests from Mr. Kitchen Diva- it’s his favorite after all, I took the plunge. Only in my case, because I can’t stomach the thought of cooking an enormous lump of ground beef with only eggs and breadcrumbs, I ‘hippiefied’ it with the addition of carrots and kale. Then I “Kansas Citified” it with the addition of our favorite locally produced BBQ sauce, Oklahoma Joe’s Cowtown Bar-B-Q Sauce.

Oklahoma Joe’s is a barbeque joint in a gas station at the confluence of KCK and KCMO. They have the reputation of being the best barbeque in the world. Seriously. People wait in a line that wraps around the gas station for hours for this stuff, it’s that good. We locals know better than waiting and just call it in. Their sauce is gluten free (yay!) and it’s also without that other nasty ingredient- high fructose corn syrup. Oklahoma Joe’s has a thriving mail order business which I linked to above- if you’re curious or just plain love good barbeque sauce, head over and order a few bottles. I promise you, your tastebuds will thank you! And when you get your jar in the mail, you can make this gluten free meatloaf and think about making Kansas City your next vacation destination!

 

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Salmon in Parchment a lá Rosalie

Salmon ready to be cooked in parchment
Salmon ready to be cooked in parchment

Have you ever been on the receiving end of an epic meal? I can think of at least three such meals off the top of my head: The Inn At Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island where I spent an incredibly romantic evening on my honeymoon (pre gluten-free). Our meal here was so fantastic I was dizzy. And not from the wine! It was the first time I realized that a meal could be a full-on sensual experience. This realization inspired me to start actively pairing food and wine, and taking serious flavor risks in the kitchen. I wanted to recreate how I felt eating this meal all the time!

And yes, nearly 15 years later, I could tell you exactly what we ate!

The second such meal was at Q’s at the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder. This was my first fancy gluten-free meal, and it was a revelation. I could still enjoy an incredible, flavorful, visually stimulating, and texturally interesting meal and feel great after! More recently, Salon Helene Darroze in Paris was another epic meal. It was also the first super fancy meal (not cooked by me) that the Kitchen Divas in Training got to enjoy. They savored every bite and commented on the dishes as if they were the Iron Chef judges. It was truly delightful.

What constitutes an epic meal? In my mind there are 3 things:

  • Company: A meal shared is a meal enjoyed. Food is meant to be shared, lingered over, experienced. The better the company, the better the meal- even if the food is average. Laughter can fill us up as much as the food.
  • Food that is prepared with heart and care: Notice I didn’t say super-snobby, fancy ingredients, fine crystal, etc. Often snobby-food meals like that are epic. But eat in a fine establishment with a rude waiter and your hopes for epic-ness are dashed. When you’re aware that you’re eating food that has been prepared with love, it’s transformative- no matter where you happen to eat it, or what the food is. I can think of a picnic I enjoyed in the middle of an ancient stone circle on a cool, sunny March day in the Cotswolds over a dozen years ago. We enjoyed freshly made local cheese and beer while we waited for the faeries to hop out and dance with us. Incredible. I can still remember the conversation I had with the shopkeeper who told us what cheese and beer to buy and where to find the faerie circle.
  • Heightened Senses: Think about the meals you’ve had where you remember the minute details of smell, texture, music, taste…Those meals that engage all of our senses, or that sharpen them, are the ones we remember for years to come.
Whether it's a meal for 2 or 20. Any shared meal can be epic.
Whether it’s a meal for 2 or 20. Any shared meal can be epic.

The other day, my friend Rebekah, who is currently living in a tiny village in Southern France, excitedly skyped me to tell me about this epic meal she’d enjoyed the night before. By the end of our conversation not only was I dying of jealousy, but I wanted to recreate a tiny fraction of what she experienced. This recipe is a loose interpretation of one component of her host Rosalie’s epic meal, and is named in her honor. I hope I get to meet Rosalie someday. She sounds like my kind of fellow cook and food-lover.

Saumon en PapilloteI have never made Salmon en Papillote before, and was surprised at how easy it was. The prep time is more lengthy than just putting salmon in a ziplock to marinate, but the results are worth it. The salmon is juicy and the flavors are intense. Don’t be afraid to really pile on the flavors. Salmon is rich and if you’re too delicate with your seasonings you will be left wanting something more from the dish. I was surprised at how generous I needed to be with the herbes de provence I used.  When I daintily sprinkled the herbes over the first few pieces, we couldn’t even taste them! It took sprinkling the herbes through every layer before they stood out and really added something to the dish!

Poached egg with Saumon en PapilloteBecause this dish at its core is so simple, you have complete freedom to add or subtract flavors based on your own personal tastes. Food should be a reflection of who we are, and those personal touches are often what elevates a meal from sustenance to memorable. In fact, we added a poached egg to the leftovers for breakfast, along with more herbes de provence, lemon zest, and truffle salt. Ooh Lo Lo! I just wish I had a bottle of champagne on hand to accompany it.

So here’s a toast to the Rosalies of the world. The love you bring to others through your food is a gift indeed!

What epic meals have you experienced in your life? Share them in the comments!

Saumon Rosalie (Salmon in Parchment a lá Rosalie)

Saumon en PapilloteIngredients

Salmon Filets, sliced into little 3-inch squares. (we used 2 sizable filets and made 10 packets.)

Fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly

Fresh tomatoes, sliced thinly

Fresh basil leaves- enough for 1-3 leaves on each piece of salmon

olive oil

1 tsp Herbes de Provence for each salmon packet

salt

1 lemon for zesting

Directions

If your salmon does not come de-skinned, remove the skin. Slice filet into 3-inch squares. No need to be exact on this. I made the squares bigger on the thinner side of the filet, and some squares were more rectangular. Do what seems right for your meal.

Cut a length of parchment paper- about 8-10 inches wide. Fold it in 1/2 with the short sides touching. Then fold in 3rds- so it’s about the size of an envelope, and turn the paper so it’s long and skinny and fold in 3rd again so that it’s a rectangle that can fit in your hand. Unfold the 3rds, but leave so that it’s still folded in 1/2- you should see 9 sections. Pre folding helps once you’re folding the parchment around the filet. I learned this the hard way!

Place a filet in the center of a folded piece of parchment. Sprinkle a bit of salt and part of the herbes de provence. Add a piece of mozzarella (Cream cheese can also work as a substitute). Sprinkle more herbes de provence. Add a thin slice of tomato, or two. Sprinkle more herbes de provence. Top with a few basil leaves and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Just about anything can be used to close a parchment packet
Just about anything can be used to close a parchment packet

Fold the packet around the salmon and tie with a bit of string. You will notice in these pictures that I used kitchen string, satin ribbon, and a clothespin. I discovered just as I reached for the string that the Kitchen Divas in Training had absconded with my kitchen string and used it for a Mideval art project of epic proportions! Use what you’ve got on hand- the oven temperature is only 350, and will likely not damage anything you use to secure your packets.

Place the packets on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan and cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 180 degrees Celsius) for 20-25 minutes. The thinner filets will be done at 20. The thicker ones need a little more time.

IF and only IF, you know your fishmonger and you can get superfresh salmon – we cannot here in the Midwest- you might cook your thicker filets to 20 minutes. This would be very tender in the center. Ideal, but only if you trust your food source. Otherwise, make sure your fish is opaque at the center.

To Plate: Unwrap the packets and slide each piece of fish onto a plate. Sprinkle with more herbes de provence, a tiny bit of salt (we like truffle salt for this) and a generous sprinkle of lemon zest. You could even squeeze a bit of lemon over the top.

Most importantly- enjoy with people you love!

Gently reheat leftovers and top with a poached egg.
Gently reheat leftovers and top with a poached egg.

Ratatouille Burger

It’s high summer around here, and the heat has broken for a day or two. Just long enough for us to step outside and fire up the grill. And what says summer more beautifully than grilled veggies and burgers?  The heat will be returning with a vengeance this week, and we’ll be hiding in the cool of the basement and longing for cooler climes before we know it. The late summer vegetables have been at the farmer’s market for the last few weeks, and while my family is still sick of all the Ratatouille I made last August and September, the were at least open to enjoying those ingredients in a different form. Below you will find a Ratatouille Burger with a Sundried-Tomato Roulade,  perfect for an al-fresco evening when the temperature finally dips into the low 90’s or high 80’s… Yes, it’s been THAT hot here!

To make the perfect burger- we recommend checking out this post here (you may want to leave out the Feta, or use a different type of cheese though)

Ratatouille Burger with Sundried Tomato Roulade

Ingredients

1 eggplant, sliced for the grill 

1 zucchini, sliced for the grill

1 onion, sliced for the grill

Hamburgers of your choice

Sundried Tomato Roulade

6 oz sundried tomatoes

4 cloves garlic

2 cups fresh basil

olive oil

Directions

Cook the meat and grill the vegetables to your desired level of doneness.  Meanwhile, make the roulade by combining the sundried tomatoes, garlic and basil in a food processor. I always use dried sundried tomatoes, but if you use the sundried tomatoes preserved in olive oil, reserve the olive oil for the second step. Once you’ve processed the ingredients into bitty pieces, leave the processor on and slowly pour in the olive oil until a thick paste has formed. You can make this paste as thick or as soupy as you like. We preferred a thicker paste, but the consistency is entirely up to you.

Stack the ingredients on a lightly toasted GF Bun (We like Udi’s) brushed with olive oil. Schmear the roulade on the top bun and enjoy!

 

 

Gluten Free Fish and Chips w/ Chipotle Lime Mayo

This month’s 5 Star Makeover really kicked my ass.. It’s all about Sustainable Fish, and that is a great topic. Sustainable Fish is important. If we want to make sure that our oceans and rivers have food for future generations, Sustainable Fish is more than important- it has to become a way of life, and soon. Our large fish populations are in peril, our freshwater fish supplies are largely contaminated, and we foodies need to get the word out about the importance of using sustainably harvested fish. We do no less when we shout about this organic fruit, or that local veggie. But then we turn around and go all out at the sushi bar. I am one such person. I had no idea until this challenge that the only fish I like are the unsustainable kind….
I pride myself on being an adventurous eater…but during this challenge I realized the big caveat to that statement is ‘except where fish are concerned’. Chalk it up to the enforced fly-fishing practice in the backyard when I was a kid. Or the enforced fly fishing excursions where I was tramped through poison ivy only to be left alone on a stretch of river with my fly rod, which on the first cast invariably got stuck in the willows. Chalk it up to one too many trout bones choked down with a piece of bread… With all due respect to those of you who’ve found Zen Nirvana with the whole fishing thing- Thanks, but I’ll take my meat with legs.
As I hemmed and hawed and procrastinated about what to cook up, I had to confront the realization that with the exception of sushi, I really don’t like fish. In fact, I shamefacedly admit, it’s usually the last thing I would consider ordering on a menu. Good for the future viability of the fish population, bad for the adventuresome eater and wannabe Julia Child. Furthermore, on those occasions when I do have fish- I like it raw or with lemon and butter. Lemon and butter are lovely, but when doing a food makeover, they equal one thing: b.o.r.i.n.g.  Not very adventurous.
Faced with the choice of chickening out or sucking it up, I went with the latter and started to figure out what I was going to do. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great site, full of information about what fish is sustainably produced, what are good alternatives, and what you should stay away from entirely.
The biggest challenge for me here in the midwest was finding a fish labeled ‘best choice’. It was impossible, actually. Even at the one Whole Paycheck in town. There’s a dearth of good fish here- and given that we’re a two day drive in any direction from the nearest ocean, I can see why. I did however, find a ‘good alternative’ farm raised  blue tilapia from Ecuador, also deemed ‘Eco OK’ by the Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Selector.  I’ve never had tilapia before. I know, I know- I’m displaying my foodie ignorance and novice abilities here. It’s a nice, meaty white fish. And, when I thought about what fish I’d like to have, and never get because of my gluten intolerance- my mind immediately jumped to fish-n-chips! Gluten Free fish ‘n chips are impossible to get. Heck, even getting gluten free fries at a restaurant is impossible because the fries are cooked in the same oil as the onion rings, battered fish, squid, chicken tenders and cheese sticks.

So, as I thought about what would be a fun twist on fish and chips, I thought, why not cook the chips with the fish- in the batter? Frying everything all crispy, and then instead of tartar sauce, serve with a homemade chipotle-lime mayo in place of the traditional tartar sauce? And the dish was born. Not only was it a surprising combination- it was really fun to eat the crispy shoestring potatoes in the fish batter- I discovered that I LOVE tilapia!! In this preparation, the tilapia turned out meaty, flakey, and just a little bit juicy. It was the perfect compliment to the crispy outside. And the mayo? We’ll be spreading that on everything for some time to come. As for a beverage- a delicious gluten-free beer-  and I’m in pub heaven!

Now, I can’t say that I’ll be having fish once a week from here on out- but when sustainable tilapia is on sale- I’ll be bringing some home for sure! Maybe next time wrapping it in bacon!

Many, many thanks to fish guru Lazaro for patiently and kindly answering many of my questions related to this fish challenge!! For a complete round-up of all the 5 Star Makeovers and links to the other participants blogs, Visit Lazaro at Lazaro Cooks! and Natasha at 5 Star Foodie. You’ll be inspired by all the incredible and creative fish dishes you see.

Lastly- please visit my friend Sabrina at The Tomato Tart on Wed March 30th. Over 90 bloggers across 4 continents are coming together to sell their confections to the highest bidder to raise funds for Second Harvest Japan- that nation’s first foodbank. I’ve donated a batch of my gluten-free orange almond teacakes.

Gluten Free Fish and Chips with Chipotle Lime Mayo

serves 6

Ingredients                                                             

Chipotle Lime Mayo

zest of 2 limes + extra for garnish

3/8 tsp chipotle powder (more if you like it hot)

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

2 tbs lime juice (fresh squeezed is best)

3/4 cup grapeseed oil

pinch of salt

twist of pepper

Gluten Free Fish and Chips

1 3/4 lb-2 lbs sustainable white fish like tilapia

1 egg + 1 egg white

2/3 cup sweet rice flour

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1 1/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp salt

12 twists from the pepper mill (about 3/4 tsp)

2 russet potatoes, shredded finely

enough shortening and /or oil to fill a fryer or dutch oven with at least 1 inch of liquid- about 1 1/2 lbs of shortening sticks

Cooking or candy thermometer (I have an electric one- very handy)

Directions

In a small bowl place eggs, lime zest, chipotle and lime juice. Using a hand mixer on high, whip the eggs until frothy and the yolk has begun to lighten. Very slowly add a few drops at a time of the oil into the mixture. Continue adding the oil by drops until the mixture has begun to thicken. When the mixture shows signs of thickening add the oil in a thin stream, but still go slowly. Keep beating on high. It will feel like your arms are going to fall off. When the oil has been completely absorbed, add the salt and pepper and give a quick mix. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. Garnish with additional lime zest.

disclaimer: yes- this is real mayonnaise, and yes- it has raw eggs. I know my farmer and where my eggs come from. I trust him implicitly. If you are concerned about salmonella or other yukky organisms I suggest you find a farmer you know and trust and buy your eggs locally. Foodborne illness from eggs comes from poor handling practices, and stressed out chickens. When chickens are raised in factory farms where they don’t see the light of day, never walk around, and poop on their neighbors heads, you get yukky organisms like salmonella. You also get eggs with higher cholesterol because the chickens are stressed out. Happy chickens=happy eggs=happy you…I eat raw eggs, and I shamelessly sample the cookie and cake batter. I’ve never been sick. Ever. That said- only you know where your eggs come from, and only you can decide if you are comfortable eating raw eggs. If you aren’t- then make this mayo by adding the lime juice, zest, and chipotle to a store bought jar.  The freshly made mayo will keep about a week. Do not leave it sitting out on the counter, and be sure to cover it when you put it back in the refrigerator.

For the Gluten Free Fish and Chips

In a separate small bowl, place the egg, egg white, sweet rice flour, tapioca, salt, pepper and buttermilk. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Finely shred the potatoes- think shoestring size- rinse in a colander, squeeze out the excess water, and set aside. Lastly pat the tilapia dry and slice into sections of even thickness. Most filets will be thick at one end and thin at the other. When you fry them, fry the thick pieces together, then the thin pieces. That way, everything in the pan is cooking for roughly the same length of time.

Place shortening into your fryer and turn the heat to medium-high.  I use my cast iron fryer. You could use a stainless steel pot, or dutch oven. What’s important is a pot or pan that can stand high heat and has a minimum of 4 inch sides. A splatter guard is helpful too.

While the oil is heating up, set up a dredging station on one side, and a cooling station on the other. For the dredging station, place a cooling rack over a cookie sheet. For the cooling station, place a cooling rack over another cookie sheet and cover with paper towels.

Dip the filets in the batter and place on the dredging station. Grab a small handful of shoestring potatoes and pat them onto the fish. Flip the fish and repeat. This is VERY MESSY work…embrace it- you will be happy when you eat your very crispy fish! If the potatoes start to slip off the fish, and they may, take your fingers or a small ladle and add a tiny bit of batter to the potatoes. The oil will be hot enough that when the batter hits the pan it will stick to the fish nicely.

When the oil temperature reaches 350 degrees fahrenheit, add 3-4 slices of fish. It will bubble like crazy, and you’ll see the temperature drop. This is normal, and why it’s important to only put a few pieces of fish in at a time. Wait until the oil is nearly back to 350 (about 3 minutes give or take) before flipping the fish. Allow to cook about 1 minute on the second side, and when the thermometer reaches 350, remove the fish. * Don’t let the oil get much over 350- the chemical make-up begins to change and ruins the taste.

The batter and potato color should be a rich golden brown, and the potatoes should be crispy and stiff. Place on the paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Cover and lightly pat with another paper towel. Add the next set of fish. Continue frying until all the fish have cooked. You may have a little extra potatoes and batter. If you do- fry them up too- they make great fritters and shoestring potatoes!



Buffalo Pot Pie with Gluten Free Green Chile Cheddar Drop Biscuits

This week’s crock pot recipe is hearty and flavorful- Buffalo Pot Pie w/ Gluten Free Green Chile Cheddar Drop Biscuits. Don’t let the length of the recipe intimidate you.

I went and got involved with another fun group of recipe swappers, this one hosted by the illustrious Christianna who blogs at Burwell General Store. She found an awesome old vintage cookbook, and for the past few months folks have been recreating and revamping one recipe a month. If you’ve stumbled across this in your blog wanderings, you’ll agree that the recipes have been fun and inventive!

(And special thanks to Toni from Boulder Locavore who was kind enough to help me get involved with this recipe group!)

This month’s recipe was Chicken Stew with Drop Biscuits.  Our challenge was to change 3 things about the recipe to make it our own and then post about it. I’ve had a sneak preview of some of my colleagues’ recipes, and they are mouthwatering and creative. I’m only sorry I can’t sample them right now! Once you’ve read my take on the recipe, pop on over to the Recipe Swap page at Burwell General Store, where you’ll see everything from crostata to curry. There are even a few additional gluten-free recipes! How cool is that?

I’ve been on a buffalo kick for the last month or so. There is a buffalo farm less than 20 miles from my house, and the owner sells her meat at many local grocers as well as the River Market. I had a great conversation with her a few weeks ago about stew meats,  cooking ‘low and slow’, and thought since the cold weather is refusing to give way to spring- at least for the time being- that a buffalo pie would be a nice twist on the chicken pie theme.  And, to save time and energy, I did it all in my crock pot! I have an older crock pot with a removable ceramic interior, which means it can go from crock to oven very nicely. I slow cooked the buffalo with some red wine and a few other ‘stewy’ ingredients, before adding my biscuits to the top and popping the whole thing in the oven!

If you don’t have a crock pot and a toaster oven in your kitchen, I highly recommend their addition. Both items are great in the summer when you don’t want to heat your kitchen any more than necessary. And, if you’re only cooking a little- it takes way less time and kilowats to run the smaller appliances. My toaster oven can even accommodate my small Le Creuset Gratin baker. Perfect for all sorts of side dishes! But I digress….

The crock pot gets a workout in this house because I’m very fond of throwing in a bunch of ingredients, walking away, and coming back to enjoy them several hours later. The key is to use the lowest setting and to allow cooking for a minimum of 6 hours. Anything beyond that just makes the meat even more tender. Normally, when I do a roast or a stew, I serve it with clear broth made from the cooking juices, but this time, I went out on a limb and added a little roux and cream. It was totally worth it, and I will absolutely consider doing it again. Hopefully not until next fall! The creaminess of the sauce worked nicely with the texture of the drop biscuits, and the green chiles added the tiniest bit of punch to the flavor. I could have used a little more myself, but wanting to make this accessible to a variety of people- including the Kitchen-Divas-In-Training… I went a little light on the chiles. Certainly add more if you like the heat- the dish is rich enough that it can stand up to a somewhat spicier biscuit! This is a recipe that can easily accommodate whatever changes and twists you’d like to add when you serve it up at your house. Remember always to have fun in your kitchen, and be sure to stop by the Burwell General Store Recipe Swap page for some outstanding recipes and a dose of inspiration! Who knows what might end up on your table?

Buffalo Stew

Serves 8

Ingredients

2 lbs of buffalo stew meat, cubed

1/2 cup red wine

4 shallots, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups potatoes, chopped (about 3 small)

1 cup carrots, chopped

1 tsp salt

2 tbs wheat-free tamari (soy sauce)

6 twists of fresh pepper

1 1/2 cups water

Roux:

2 tbs butter

3 tbs sorghum

1 cup milk, half n half, or heavy cream

Directions

Place all ingredients except the roux in a crock pot and simmer on low for 6-12 hours. A word- please use red wine you would drink. If it’s not fit to drink, it’s not fit to use in food you will eat… just sayin’…… See! I told you it was easy!

45 minutes before you are ready to eat, turn off the crock pot and remove the ceramic container. It will be hot, so be sure to use potholders and place it on a heat safe coaster. Turn your oven to 425, and begin preparing the green chile cheddar biscuits below. Just before putting the biscuits in the stew, make the roux. Melt the butter in a small saute pan. When the butter is foamy, add the sorghum and whisk briskly. When you start to smell the flour, but before it has darkened in color, slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk. Once the ingredients are fully incorporated, add to the stew and stir. Then add the drop biscuits and proceed as directed.

Gluten Free Green Chile Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Makes about 20 small biscuits

Ingredients         

1 cup millet flour

1 1/4 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

1 tbs baking powder

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 oz (one stick) butter

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup chopped green chiles

3 tbs honey

1/2 cup buttermilk

Glaze:

3 tbs butter

3 tbs honey

Directions

Place dry ingredients in a food processor and mix by pulsing about 6 times. Chop the butter into 8-10 segments and add to the dry ingredients. Pulse an additional 6-8 times, until the butter has been cut up to pea-sized bits. Add the cheddar cheese and pulse 2-3 more times.

In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, combine the honey, green chile, and buttermilk. Add to the dry ingredients and pulse several more times until mixture comes together in a ball-like form. Scoop into the stew (or onto a parchment lined cookie sheet) with a large melon-baller. To make the glaze, melt the remaining butter and honey in a microwave safe dish- it should take about 30 seconds. Brush the glaze onto the biscuits and then place the whole crock into the oven. Immediately turn down the oven heat to 375, and cook for 20 minutes, or until tops of biscuits are golden brown. The biscuits expand during the cooking process and make a lovely thick crust over the stew. Don’t be shy about cutting into this and serving the biscuits on top of, or next to the stew. Enjoy!!

 

Bresse Chicken Fricassee with Apples, Morels, and Thyme

One of the things I have really come to appreciate about French cuisine, and the people who make their living growing and cooking food, is the respect for terroir. As I have wandered the markets and foodstalls over the last two weeks I have been continuously surprised at the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) designations for things like cheese, honey, foie gras, and even butter.

I had no idea prior to this trip that AOC designation applied to anything but wine. But after seeing and experiencing what I believe are the best food products in the world, and learning how seriously the growers and producers take their craft, I have new respect for the AOC designation and its importance in protecting smaller producers and keeping food production sustainable.

While AOC designations come with a multitude of regulations, which American growers would likely find too restrictive, the regulations stem from a respect for what the earth can sustainably produce, and an understanding that where animals are concerned the better the animal is treated in production, the higher quality food it will yield. Makes sense to me. Happy plants/animals = happy, healthy food = happy, healthy people. Beyond that, EU (European Union) regulations mandate that no subtheraputic antibiotics or growth hormones can be used on any animal contributing to the food supply. Pesticides and Herbicides that are indiscriminately used by large factory farms here in the US are strictly regulated, and at times outright banned for use on food crops…Paris proper has banned the use of all herbicides and pesticides in its parks and gardens, and in a time where the honey bee population has suddenly and dramatically declined worldwide by more than 30%, Paris has experienced an explosion of honey thanks to its thriving bee population. There are rooftop and garden apiaries all over the city, and during honey harvest time, you can purchase honey from the hives at Opera Garnier, the Jardin des Luxembourg, and the Pere Lachaise cemetery among other places. And we wonder why the EU longevity is higher and per capita healthcare costs are lower! Maybe, just maybe, respecting the earth has something to do with it……but I digress…

I had the good fortune to strike up a relationship with the extraordinarily kind people at the boucherie (butcher) just steps from my apartment. To share conversations with people who are so proud of the quality of their goods, and who love to talk about which person made the sausage and the foie gras, and where the best chicken and ham comes from, is for me a delightful and profound gift. Not only was I, a stranger speaking not-so-great French, welcomed unconditionally, but we also quickly discovered our mutual appreciation and passion for quality food.  (So much so, that the kitchen divas in training and I brought them a freshly prepared box of my Oma’s cut-out cookies!) This enthusiasm, and yes- joy, seemed to permeate even their smallest interaction with people. Although I experienced this most profoundly at le boucherie, I saw this same passion and joy in most of the shops I frequented on my little market street; people deeply knowledgeable about their craft and willing to share their knowledge if given the chance. And while I didn’t get to know the other shopkeepers as well as I would have liked, I did have the pleasure of learning about Bresse chicken, and received a mini-butcherie demonstration to boot!

It is said that Bresse chicken is the best in the world. It received AOC designation in 1957, and growers are required to give a minimum of 10 square meters (107 square feet) of land per chicken- talk about free range! They grow up outside where they are allowed to live as chickens, eating bugs and weeds, and then, just before they’re brought to market, they are brought inside to rest for a week and fed nothing but the finest grains. This is what gives the meat its white color and beautiful texture. And yes- I have to say the texture of this meat was unequaled.

I have to admit, that I was a little concerned about preparing such a fine bird. I was terrified that I would overcook or undercook it, and either way, ruin it, and have to report back to monsieur le boucher that I had ruined the best bird in the world.  Thankfully, I nailed it, and it truly was a Christmas dinner to remember. After reading up on le Bresse, I opted for a fricassee, something that I never tried before, but that was recommended for more gamey types of meat. And, since we were in Paris, I thought it would be great to try something from Patricia Wells “Paris Cookbook”. I found a nice recipe, but of course didn’t have the discipline to leave it alone. Below is my significantly altered version of her Chicken with Morels and Cream. It was pretty delicious, and I even went so far as to spend the extra coin for dried morels- why not? The best bird deserves the best mushroom at least once! For dessert, we enjoyed a fabulous gluten-free pastry from Strohrer- the oldest patisserie in Paris, and just steps from my door. But you’ll have to wait until my macaron post to read about that!!

In conclusion, my heartfelt thanks to the dear people at Boucherie Davin. . Getting to know you has been the highlight of my trip, and I hope to be back soon buying sausage, ham, foie gras, and yes, another Bresse Chicken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bresse Chicken Fricassee with Apples, Morels, and Thyme

Serves 4-6 people

 

 

 

Ingredients

1 4-5 lb chicken (preferably a Bresse or free range chicken), separated into 8-10 segments

4 tbs butter + 2-3 tbs extra

2 cups dried Morels (can substitute dried porcinis or criminis)

2 shallots, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 cups cidre (hard apple cider) or a white wine with apple & pear overtones

2 apples, peeled and diced- about 2 cups (use a Comice or a similar yellow skinned apple)

3 sprigs of fresh thyme, bound with string + 4 tbs fresh thyme leaves

1 cup of heavy cream

salt to taste

Directions

Reconstitute the morels by rinsing thoroughly under cold water until all the gritty bits have been removed. Then place morels in a heat safe dish and just cover with boiling water. Allow to sit while you brown the chicken. You can save the mushroom water and use for vegetable stock. Remove the reconstituted morels using a slotted spoon.

Preheat a large dutch oven or similar vessel on medium-high. When you can feel the heat emanating from the bottom of the pan, add 4 tbs of butter and allow it to foam. Place 3-4 chicken pieces in the pan at a time, allowing the skin to become a deep golden brown- about 5 minutes on each side. To keep the butter from scorching, use a spoon to lift the butter over the chicken pieces, adding more butter to the pan if necessary. Remove browned chicken to a plate and lightly salt. When all the pieces have been browned, pour off most of the fat from the pan, leaving the browned bits.

Reduce heat to medium and add another tablespoon of butter and allow to foam. Add shallots and garlic and allow to soften in the butter. Do not let the garlic burn as it will turn bitter. Add the apples and the thyme sprigs, and stir for one minute. Add the cidre or wine, turn up the heat to medium high, and allow the wine to boil for 5 minutes to eliminate the alcohol.

Add the morels to the pan and stir gently. Add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Return the browned chicken to the pan, as well as any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Arrange the pieces so they all fit on the bottom of the pan, and spoon some of the mixture over the top. Reduce heat to medium, cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, turn the chicken pieces so that the side on top is now submerged in the mixture. Ladle some of the mixture over the chicken, and recover.

When you are ready to plate, place a piece of chicken in a shallow bowl or plate, ladle some of the cream mixture over the top, and sprinkle a teaspoon of fresh thyme over both the chicken and the morel apple mixture. Serve with a glass of the cidre or wine that you cooked with. In other words, you should only cook with wine you would enjoy drinking! Et Voilà!


 



Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin

Like my favorite weatherman around here always says:”It’s Friday Night in the Big Town!”….Many Fridays I can’t seem to get my act together to cook an actual meal. For those of you who have children, you know only too well the exhaustion that an average overscheduled week brings. We work hard to not overschedule our lives, but in spite of that, there’s always a sigh of relief when we’ve made it to 4 pm on Friday afternoon.

Today, after picking up the girls from school, we stopped in at the grocery store for a few essentials, and I ended up splurging on a nice Bordeaux and a single beef tenderloin filet. While those types of beef are typically purchased only on very special occasions, picking up one for a happy hour nosh seems much more justifiable. It was well worth it. We put together a quick cheese plate with some Asian Pears from a neighbor’s tree- yes we’re still getting a few stragglers in the summer produce department- and the beef tenderloin was simply seared in brown butter with black pepper and shallots spread on a bed of fresh greens. Too late I recalled an awesome post I read by fellow blogger Lazaro about cooking beef backwards- starting it in the oven and finishing with a sear on the stove. It looks amazing, and if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, I recommend giving it a whirl. Additionally, his blog is extremely entertaining and always makes me laugh. I will definitely have to do a better job remembering that technique next time I cook up a bit of beef. At any rate, we noshed our way through the dinner hour listening to my husband play the guitar (lucky me, I get to enjoy classical guitar music while I cook!) and the big girl finished it off by creating a simple salad. Nice way to spend a Friday evening, if I do say so myself.

Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin

about 8-9 little slices

Ingredients

1 cut of beef tenderloin filet- about 8 oz..

2 tbs olive oil

2 tbs butter, + an additional 2 tbs during the cooking (I used salted butter)

1 large shallot, finely diced

2 tbs crumbled bleu cheese

1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup mixed greens

salt and fresh cracked pepper

Directions 

Pat your beef dry with a paper towel and press freshly cracked black pepper into one side.  In a heavy skillet (I use my trusty cast-iron ) heat oil and butter over medium high until butter has foamed. Place beef in skillet, pepper side down. As butter starts to brown, take a spoon  and scoop up the butter, pouring it over the beef. This helps keep the butter from scorching. You’ll notice that the oil does reduce. Add in a 1/2 tablespoon of fresh butter. This will also help regulate the butter temperature so that it doesn’t burn.

After about 4 minutes, flip the beef. The bottom should have a nice crusty sear on it. Add more butter to the pan and continue to spoon the hot butter over the beef. (Continue adding 1/2 tablespoons of butter as needed, to keep the pan from drying out, and to keep the butter from burning) After about 4 minutes add the shallots. Stir quickly. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes, using your tongs or spatula to stir the shallots. To test the meat for doneness, press a little on the beef. It should give a little bit. I tend to overcook my meat in the effort to make sure that the animal I’m consuming is really dead. I find that if I pull the meat off a minute or two before I think it’s done, I tend to hit it just right. Remember, when the meat is resting, the internal temperature can still rise. Ideally, for beef, you want an internal temperature of 150-155 ( that is brown on the outside, rosy pink- not bloody on the inside) for a cut like a tenderloin filet, that temperature really showcases the texture and flavor of the meat. Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the meat to a plate that has been covered with fresh greens. The heat from the meat will wilt the greens.

Allow the beef to rest for about 5 minutes. Next, slice thinly against the grain (so that the lines of the muscle go up and down, not side to side) Take a tiny pinch of sea salt and gently sprinkle a bit on each slice. You don’t need much, a few grains on each, but the salt really brings out the flavor of the beef. Spoon the cooked and now carmelized shallots over the beef,  and top with a line of bleu cheese crumbles. Lasty, measure about a quarter teaspoon of balsamic vinegar into a soup spoon, and lightly drizzle over the bleu cheese/shallot mixture. Again, you don’t need much. I had originally intended to use a balsamic reduction, which I love, but I didn’t have enough vinegar to make that happen- however a tiny bit of regular vinegar helps brighten the flavor and is a great compliment to the richness of the beef and bleu cheese. Serve with a plate of your favorite happy hour cheeses and finger foods. We enjoyed asian pears, bleu cheese, domestic parmesan, chevre and the best cracker ever- Mary’s Gone Crackers. Oh yes, and don’t forget the wine!

Gluten Free Meatballs w/ Roasted Tomato Sauce

Gluten free meatballs are a treat at our house, especially when it gets cold. One of those things celiacs always have to prepare at home because most standard meatballs contain gluten- these are easy to make and your gluten loving peeps will never be the wiser.

Right now, the wind is blowing, the temperatures are falling, and still- the tomatoes keep arriving in my CSA bag! I know I’m on borrowed time for fresh tomatoes, and with the weather finally cooling to the point where I need socks and slippers during the day, a hearty meal is in order. In general this is a pretty simple endeavor. The act of making meatballs seems intimidating, but really it’s no different than making your own hamburgers. If you use high quality, locally sourced beef, and are creative with your flavor ingredients, they are really quite fun, and very versatile. Use my version as is, or as inspiration for your own flavors and creativity!

Oven roasting anything is a piece of cake. For the tomatoes,  just add a few fresh herbs from the garden (or the grocer), an onion, some garlic and a dash of olive oil. Once they’ve roasted in the oven it’s into the food processor. This makes a thick paste which can easily be frozen in icecube trays for some delicious summer flavor in January. Or if you like,  you can thin it with stock or tomato sauce for a fine meal right now. Either way, you’ll be glad you did it!

Gluten Free Meatballs 

makes 16-18 meatballs

Ingredients

2 lbs ground beef

1 onion, finely diced

1 cup parsley, finely chopped

1/3 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons diced garlic (about 3-4 cloves)

1/2 tablespoon fresh ground pepper

1 egg- well beaten

1/4 cup wine

1/4 cup water

Directions

Mix all ingredients except the wine and the water together. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty- you really want all the ingredients thoroughly mashed up. Form into small balls- slightly larger than a golf ball. Place in an electric skillet and turn the temperature to medium high. Add the wine and the water, cover and cook until your lid rattles- about 6 minutes. Turn to medium low and cook until internal thermometer reaches 170- about 20 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, you can cover with the tomato sauce.

For Stovetop Pans: Drizzle a little oil in the bottom of the pan, and allow to heat. When the pan is hot, add the meatballs and brown for 5-6 minutes, turning as needed. If the pan dries out, add some of the water. When the meatballs are lightly browned, turn the pan to low and add the rest of the water and the wine and allow to simmer until temperature reaches 170- another 10-15 minutes.

Serve over your favorite pasta (my favorite gluten-free brand is Tinkyada) and garnish with fresh parmesan and parsley!

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

Makes 2 cups of thick sauce

Ingredients

Tomato slices to fill a 1/2 sheet pan- about 8 tomatoes (this number depends largely on the size of the tomatoes)

1 onion chopped in strips

1 bulb of garlic peeled and separated

herbs as desired- thyme and rosemary are good choices

fresh cracked pepper

Olive oil- about 1/4 cup

Directions

Line a 1/2 sheet cookie pan with parchment and preheat the oven to 300. Place slices of tomatoes on cookie sheet. The tomato slices can be very close together- even overlapping slightly. Sprinkle onion, garlic, and herbs over the tomatoes. Add a few twists of pepper. Drizzle olive oil over all the ingredients, making sure each tomato has been partially covered. The object here is not to have the tomatoes and onions swimming in olive oil, but to slightly coat things so that nothing dries out in the oven.

Bake for 1 1/2-2 hours- until tomatoes have shrunk and onions have caramelized. Pour ingredients into food processor and puree for 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup red wine and puree an additional minute. This is a fairly thick paste, good for freezing. You can serve as is, or thin with an additional 3 tbs of olive oil and 1/2 cup of stock (beef, chicken or vegetable)

 


 

 

Greek Chicken Tacos

Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s another culture smash-up. This time inspired by my desire to have fish tacos, when in fact, I had a chicken thawing in the sink! (I had planned greek chicken) So my thought process went something like this: “Fish tacos sound really great right now-  a little citrus, a little crunch, a little fresh veg, a little heat….hmmmm…. but I have greek chicken ready to go..” So I figured, what the heck- greek chicken is lemon and garlic and oregano- and I happened to be using the spicy mexican oregano, so what if I subbed out the fish for the chicken, played up the citrus and added a little heat? Voila! Greek Chicken Tacos..

Now, I will say that the prep time was longer than I would have liked, but I was also feeling my way through the dish. Do plan for a little extra time to chop up the chicken. Of course, I was chopping up a 6 lb bird. You could just use a few boneless skinless breasts or thighs- it would go a lot faster….

This is one of those fun buffet dinners where you can add your favorite ingredients to your taco. I’ll give you a list of what we had on our ‘taco buffet’ and some brief instructions on how to bake the greek chicken. The point of this is to have fun- experiment with flavor combinations, and if you have kids- invite them to help prepare the buffet.

Here’s what we enjoyed: 

black beans pureed with cumin and a little chicken stock

white rice cooked in chicken stock with lemon wedges and cilantro

chopped tomatoes

chopped cilantro

lime wedges

greek chicken

feta cheese (leave out for paleo diet)

El Pinto red sauce (one of my faves!)

A shameless plug for El Pinto here. They are one of my favorite family owned restaurants in Albuquerque. The food is heavenly- there is nothing like authentic Rio Grande River Valley Cuisine- and yes, it gets its own category!  The service is just what you’d expect, and the chile sauce- both red and green…. well what can I say? When my family from New Mexico visit, they always show up with a few jars of El Pinto. Happily, when I’ve finished those, I can mail order. Once you’ve fallen in love with New Mexico green and red chile, there’s no going back.

Now onto the chicken

Greek Chicken 

enough for 1 bird, chopped into pieces- reduce if just using breasts or thighs

Ingredients

3 tbs olive oil

4 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 tbs lemon pepper

1 tbs dried mexican oregano (also called spicy oregano)

2 lemons

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350. Place pieces in an oven safe dish- I used a 9×9 clay brownie dish. You want them to fit snugly. Brush the pieces with olive oil and sprinkle on the garlic cloves, lemon pepper seasoning, and oregano. If you are feeling adventurous and you want to add a little heat at this point, you could sprinkle some chipotle powder on, or some diced jalapeños. Slice the lemon into thin disks and place on top of the chicken pieces. Depending on how much chicken you use, you may need as many as 2 lemons.

Bake until internal temperature on the thickest part of the bird is 170- about 1 1/2 hours. This will vary depending on how much meat you use, what you cook it in, and how hot your oven truly is. Use a thermometer, check after 1 hour, and every 15 minutes thereafter. If you’re cooking only a few pieces and are using your toaster oven, check the temperature every 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover and let rest an additional 10 minutes- this will not only give the juices time to redistribute, it will give it time to cool down enough that you can chop it into little bits.

Chop and serve with your favorite taco ingredients. Or, leave pieces whole and serve over a bed of rice. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Beef Burgers w/ Kale & Feta

We took our first family vacation (as in we didn’t have to work while away) to the ocean only to have major life events interfere. My husband had to cut his trip short to rush to the bedside of his dying brother. It doesn’t get any more real life than that. Suffice it to say that while sitting in paradise pondering life’s major questions and realities, I realized that while I love writing and blogging,  I just needed to be present- present to the sound of breaking waves and sand between my toes,  present to the realities of grief and love, joy and laughter, present to the good company we had, and yes- present to the incredible bounty of fresh seafood we experienced.  So while it’s belated- here is the best burger recipe ever (that is, until I come up with something even more scrumptious!) If you’re in the Kansas City area- sign up for the gluten-free cooking class I’ll be teaching on August 26th at my local Whole Foods. Be well, and enjoy a meal with your loved ones today!

The Best Burger Ever

I recognize that’s quite a claim, but in my subjective opinion, this was certainly the best burger I’ve had in quite some time. In large part because the meat I was using was so delicious. I can’t encourage you enough to seek out a local source of grass-fed and finished beef. If you’ve never had beef like this, it really does taste different than the .99/lb meat you get from your mega-market. Sure it may cost a few dollars more, but the meat is leaner, richer, and free from antibiotics, hormones, and other yucky stuff. For me, that is worth the extra cost. Happy cows=happy beef=happy body. You really are what you eat.

These burgers also have a healthy dose of kale added. I’ve posted about kale previously, and this is just another way to sneak all that goodness into a food  my kids happily gobble down. They like kale anyways, but they will tell you it’s fun to have green stuff in your burger. While I have yet to perfect a gluten-free hamburger bun- I’m working on it- I did discover that the Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread divided and cooked like drop biscuits works nicely. It’s flexible enough not to fall apart when you bite into the burger. Follow the directions, but once the oven is turned down to 350, shorten the cooking time to about 20 minutes. If you watch the tops of the biscuits, you’ll be able to tell when to pull them from the oven. As always, if you’re not a kale fan, or if you don’t like an added ingredient, experiment with adding something that’s tasty to you. Here are some other ingredients I’ve used in the past: sun-dried tomato, bacon, bleu cheese, spinach, green chiles.. you get the idea. Enjoy!

Beef Burgers with kale and feta, and chipotle mayonnaise

makes 8 small patties

Ingredients

Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread– cooked like  drop biscuits and sliced in 1/2

1 lb ground beef, preferably locally grown grass-fed/finished

1 small onion, diced

2 cups kale, julienned and chopped into pieces

1 cup feta crumbles

1/3 cup mayonnaise

chipotle powder to taste

Directions

For Buns: Follow directions for Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread, but instead of cooking in one large loaf, drop by large spoonfuls into 8 sections (think drop biscuits). Make the X shape on each one to facilitate rising, cook at the high temp for the allotted time, and then reduce the lower temp cooking time by 5-10 minutes. When they’re golden on top, they’re done.

For Burgers: Place beef in a bowl and with your hands work in the chopped onion. Next work in the kale, and lastly the cheese crumbles. Form into patties and grill or pan-fry to your desired level of done-ness. In a separate bowl place mayonnaise, and add chipotle seasoning to taste. Stirring until the powder is thoroughly mixed in. Cut one of the gluten-free Irish Soda-Bread biscuits in half, place a burger on the bottom, add a dollop of the mayonnaise and top with the other half of the bun. Serve with popcorn okra!

Peach Tart and Deep Fried Chicken (gluten free)

Summer is finally here. Officially, that is. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course, it’s felt like it for weeks, but now that it’s official, I feel I can unabashedly enjoy all of my favorite summer fare. For me that entails much more finger food: fruits that I normally don’t enjoy in the winter like grapes, berries, melons, and of course peaches. Is your mouth watering yet? How about fresh fried chicken, brats on the grill, grilled veggies, corn on the cob and shish kebobs? I find I slow down too. Not in the hibernating, bury yourself in a comforter and hole up until the first light of spring way, but in the sitting on the back stoop, drinking a cool beer (gluten-free in my case), sipping a sangria or an iced-tea, not wanting to move until the fireflies have finished their nightly romp, kind of way. Of course, my children are there at the ready to remind me that they do indeed have to eat. So I spend my days multitasking; hopping from work at the kitchen table, to parenting in the living room, to stirring up something at the stove. Making my rounds so that I can enjoy the twilight, the fireflies, and the company of whomever has popped over.

Last weekend we indulged in one of our yearly summer rituals- a picnic blanket dinner at our local Shakespeare festival. And of course, since it’s a festival, it calls for festive fare. Try a gluten free peach tart and fried chicken with potato salad served up with a chilled not-sweet rosé. Ultimate picnic indeed.  Below you’ll find a lovely and quite simple recipe for a maple glazed peach tart- made gluten free by using the proper crust.- and quick instructions on how to make a delicious deep fried chicken. It’s really quite easy and will give the ole’ Colonel a run for his money. A gluten-free picnic fit for a king- Richard III that is.

Maple Glazed Peach Tart      

makes one 8-9 inch tart

Ingredients

Gluten Free or regular pie crust

4 ripe peaches

4 tbs granulated sugar

4-5 tbs maple syrup

2 tbs butter

Directions

Prepare pie crust and turn onto a tart pan, crimping the edges as you like. (A tart pan has straight sides, whereas a pie pan has sides that lean outward. If you don’t own a tart pan, you could use a cake pan and even the pie pan.)

Prebake shell at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Since my last post about this crust, I’ve found when pre-baking that I prefer to grease a large piece of parchment, placing the greased side against the pie crust, and then filling the pan with uncooked beans. This makes for less sticking and a crust with sides less prone to collapse.

Partially pull out oven rack, leaving the crust still in the oven. Gather the corners of the parchment together and remove paper and uncooked beans to a nearby bowl to cook. Prick bottom of crust with a fork, and if the top part of crust is browning too quickly, cover with a ring of aluminum or a pie-crust ringfound at your local cooking store. Return crust to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, re-pricking bottom if crust begins to balloon. Crust will be ready to remove when it begins to look a bit dry and paper-y.

Allow to cool for a minimum of 15 minutes before continuing. When crust has cooled (at least partially) sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the bottom of the crust. Then, working quickly, but safely, slice peach in half longitudinally, and remove the pit. Then slice into thin strips about 1/4 inch thick. These will inevitably vary in size. This is fine, we’re going for a ball-park here, not perfection. Begin to layer by placing one slice on the outside of the crust with one end touching the side. Place slices in a ring along the outside, just overlapping. Look at the picture if you need help visualizing this part. Keep halving and slicing peaches until you’ve completed the first outside ring. Pick a starting place for the center ring, doing the same thing, and working to keep the peach points as close to the center as possible. One helpful trick is to choose peaches that are of similar size. Placing the peach slices can be more challenging when the slices are vastly different lengths.  

When the crust is filled, brush 2-3 tbs of maple syrup over the peaches, allowing the syrup to get into the little nooks and crannies. Sprinkle remaining sugar over the top and dot with pea-sized slices of the butter. Place in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Peaches should still retain their color and the juices should be starting to bubble. Remove from oven and brush with remaining maple syrup. You may have syrup left in your measuring cup- that’s ok- use what you like. The glaze is to keep the tart looking pretty and to enhance the flavor of the peaches. Allow to cool thoroughly before enjoying. You could serve this with whipped cream or ice-cream. We were at a picnic and didn’t have that option and it tasted heavenly just by itself.

Deep Fried Chicken

serves as many as you like

Ingredients

2 pints-1/2 gallon buttermilk, depending on how much chicken you are frying.

4-8 cups of flour, we used 1/2 sorghum 1/2 corn flour

Louisiana hot sauce or worcester (optional)

Salt, pepper, and other seasonings we added jerk seasoning to our mix

2 lbs vegetable shortening

Directions  

Place chicken pieces in a bowl and thoroughly cover with buttermilk. For a little extra zest, mix in 2-4 tablespoons of hot sauce or other spices you enjoy.  Allow to soak anywhere from 1 hour to overnight. The buttermilk is a flavor enhancer as well as a meat tenderizer, so the longer the chicken soaks, the more tender the meat will be.

In a bowl place 2 cups of flour (1 cup of sorghum, 1 cup of corn flour or corn meal), salt and pepper to taste and any additional spices you enjoy. Do the pinky test to make sure the flavor is where you like it (lick your pinky, dip and lick again. Of course the more sanitary way is to do this with a spoon, but given you’ll be frying at 350 degrees, what goobies if any that are on your pinky will be killed at first contact with the oil.)Some people say it’s a waste of spices to flavor the flour and that you should season the meat directly. This is entirely up to you. Each way affords a slightly different flavor experience.

Set up a dredging/draining area by putting a cooling rack over a cookie sheet next to the dredging bowl, and on the other side of your deep fry pan, placing an additional cooling rack over a cookie sheet. Once you’ve dredged the meat should rest about 2 minutes before going into the hot grease. This helps the coating to adhere more tightly to the meat. Only when you’re ready to go, place the shortening in a deep sided fryer- I use my trusty Deep Sided Cast Iron Fryer for this- and turn the heat on to medium-high. To ensure even cooking, keep a candy or meat thermometer in the oil at all times.

While the oil is melting remove a piece of chicken from the buttermilk, give it a good shake, and then dredge in the flour, thoroughly covering the whole piece of meat. Give another good shake and place on the cooling rack next to the dredging flour. Repeat this with 2-3 more pieces. Your oil should now be nearing 350 degrees. Once it hits that temperature, with tongs (to protect your hands) gently place pieces in the hot oil, towards the side of the pan. Do not cook more than 3-4 pieces at once. You should see the oil temperature drop on your thermometer, and over the next several minutes climb back up. Note: Don’t let the temperature get above 365-370. The oil begins to break down and the food can lose its flavor. After about 5-6 minutes flip your meat and allow to cook on the other side. This is really an eyeball thing- after a few rounds you’ll get to where you can judge if a piece is done. If you’re not sure, use the meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of your chicken is around 175. Breasts and smaller pieces will cook faster than larger, thicker, or bone-in pieces. Thighs and legs need to be cooked for a longer time, and the heat of the oil will have to be closely monitored so the outside doesn’t burn. You may have to turn down your heat here, or add additional meat to regulate the temperature of the oil.

When the meat has finished cooking, remove to the second cooling rack. If you’re storing for a picnic, once the meat has cooled, you can wrap each piece in a paper towel and place in a paper bag in the refrigerator. This will keep the crust happy and your meat delicious.

 

 

Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread and Pan Seared Chipotle Corned Beef

Today is Bloomsday, a seemingly inconsequential day in the life of James Joyce’s Everyman- Leopold Bloom. Modeled on Homer’s Odyssey, the life of Bloom is juxtaposed against the heroic encounters of Ulysses on his return home from war. For those of us with a bit O’Irish heritage, it’s another excuse to enjoy corned-beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and of course, Guinness. That is if you’re not gluten-free. It’s Irish coffee for this mama, and gluten-free soda bread.

I feel as if I’ve been on my own epic journey, working to create a soda bread that is gluten-free and delicious. And after 11 (yes, count ‘em 11!) incarnations, I’ve finally hit upon the proper combination of flour, leavening and heat that allows for a crusty outside, a soft but not gummy inside, and a taste that rivals the real deal. Yes- this has been a journey. I’ve tried buckwheat, sorghum, eggs, no-eggs, more buttermilk, less buttermilk, used up bags of flours and at times, sighed deeply in frustration. Most went straight to the trash. The rest, my supportive and adventurous family tried, and kept giving me feedback until I got it just right.

Irish soda bread developed because the wheat used in Ireland was soft, less gluteny, and didn’t rise well when yeast was added. The leavening used is baking soda, which when combined with an acid liquid like buttermilk, creates air bubbles. It’s not supposed to be a tall bread, rather a little dense. Traditional Irish soda bread has four ingredients: flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt. The gluten-free version has a little more than that. I tried to stick to the original 4 ingredients, but found that the loaf turned out like a hockey puck. The gluten-free version needed a little more acid than the buttermilk alone afforded, and a little additional structure/binder from an egg. Eggs are also considered an acid, so it helped with the leavening as well. Still, it’s a simple recipe, and will no doubt be used on non-Irish days around here. In fact, I think if you sliced it thin, brushed a little olive oil on it, and toasted it in the oven or on the grill, you’d have a great bruschetta.

As for the corned-beef recipe. This was one of those ‘happy accidents’ that happened last St. Patrick’s Day. Some friends came over for Irish dinner, and I didn’t realize until they had already arrived that the corned beef was supposed to simmer on the stove for the better part of a day. Oops… what arose was what Bob Ross would surely have called a ‘happy accident’- it was truly delicious, and far more interesting than your average corned-beef. While the directions call for pan searing, this could easily be accomplished on the grill, and enjoyed this summer. So as the Irish say: Sláinte!

Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread

makes one 9 inch round loaf

Ingredients

2 cups tapioca starch

1 cup millet flour

1 tbs baking powder

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

2 tbs honey

2 tbs cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions

Preheat oven to 450. Lightly grease a pie pan and place on the center of the stove (this preheats the pan a little) Place all dry ingredients except baking soda in a food processor. Place the egg, honey and vinegar in a bowl and mix until frothy. I used my stand mixer for this, but you could use a hand mixer, or even a wire whisk.

Add buttermilk and briefly incorporate. Turn on the food processor and allow dry ingredients to mix. In the liquid bowl, sprinkle the baking soda over the buttermilk liquid and mix until frothy. Turn off the food processor and immediately add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until just incorporated.

With a spatula, turn the batter onto the pie plate. The batter will be sticky. Smooth the surface of the batter, but don’t squish it down- the batter should be a little rounded. With a sharp knife, make a deep cross in the batter- dividing the batter into 4 triangles. Then with the knife cut a deep slice in each of the triangles. This helps facilitate rising, and will allow you to pull chunks of the bread apart once it’s finished.

Place the pie plate in the 450 degree oven for 5 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 350 and set the timer for 30 minutes. The top should be nicely browned and crusty. Turn the warm bread upside down onto a towel and allow to cool. Flip right side up once it’s cooled and enjoy with butter or jam.

Pan Seared Chipotle Corned Beef  

 

Take a 2 lb corned-beef brisket and slice in half horizontally (cutting the thickness by 1/2) Sprinkle chipotle seasoning on each side of the brisket pieces. Depending on the size of your cooking pan, you may need to cut the brisket halves into smaller sections.

Using medium-high heat, sear the brisket on the first side until the meat pulls away from the pan- about 5 minutes. Flip and sear again, turning down the heat after 5 minutes and putting the lid on. Allow to cook for an additional 6-8 minutes, or until you’ve reached the desired doneness. Serve with horseradish mayonnaise or mustard.

 

 

Carne Adovada, Gluten-Free Tortillas and Gluten-Free Cornbread

It’s been unseasonably cold here in the midwest. Cold and rainy. In fact, I’ve worn my rainboots so much I feel like I’m in Seattle or London. Alas, there are no flannel wearing, coffee consuming grunge-types to greet me, nor are there clipped accents, cockney cabbies, or the smell of fish and chips wafting out of every corner pub. Not that I could consume said fish and chips…. I’d have to make my own…. So, what’s a girl to do when the sun should be shining on the glorious garden flowers, and instead they’re bending from the pounding of the rain? Turn on a little desert heat. Oh yes- a red chile, southwestern, New Mexico cuisine extravaganza. The heat from the sun has been replaced by the belly warming desert heat of red chile. In the form of carne adovada of course. A shoulder of pork smothered in red chile sauce and slow cooked at low heat until the whole house is warm and toasty with the smell of it. It’s sure to bring a little sunshine to wherever you are and a smile to your face.

Carne Adovada                  

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 pork shoulder or pork butt- approximately 2-3lbs

1/2-1 cup of red chile powder (for authentic New Mexican flavor, get dried Hatch red chiles and crush them in your food processor. Be Advised- if you do this, wait 2 minutes for the powder to settle before transferring from processor to container. Or, wear a mask. Inhaling red chile powder is an experience you won’t forget.. Ever.)

2 cups of warm chicken stock

1tbs cornstarch (optional)

1 small can of tomato paste (optional)

A note: You can let this slow cook all night and serve for breakfast, or cook all day and serve for dinner. I get a side of pork every year from a local farmer, so 16-18 hours before I want to serve my meal I set my frozen pork on the counter in a bowl and let it thaw. This means I either leave it out all night and the carne cooks all day, or I leave the meat out all day and the carne cooks all night. It’s pretty easy, but it is a meal you have to plan for.

6-8 hours prior to the meal you want to serve the carne, turn the oven to 200. Cut the carne into 2-3 inch chunks and place in an oven safe container. Place the chile powder in a bowl and slowly add chicken stock. If you want a thick, hot chile sauce, use less stock and omit the tomato paste. If you want a milder sauce, but still want it thick, use the full 2 cups of stock and add the cornstarch and tomato paste. Add the cornstarch first. Do this by placing the cornstarch in a small cup or bowl and adding a ladlefull of the stock/chile mixture while whisking vigorously. Then add the cornstarch mixture back to the larger bowl of red sauce. The thickness and heat level is really up to you. My girls are starting to enjoy spicier food, so this has a bit of kick, but it won’t make your nose-hairs stand on end, or give you the hiccups. (Super spicy food always gives me the hiccups)

Pour the sauce (in whatever form you like it) over the carne, cover with a lid or aluminum foil and place in the oven. Walk away and come back 6-8 hours later. Garnish with fresh cilantro (from your garden if you grow it), and serve with gluten-free flour tortillas and gluten-free cornbread. Here’s a delicious gluten-free cornbread I developed especially to go with the carne. It’s a cakey recipe. Moist and not too crumbly. If you’re feeling wild and crazy add shredded cheese and green chiles to the recipe below. Put a little spanish guitar on the stereo, serve a sweet white wine or a Bard’s Tale Beer, and Olé! It’s a party!

Light & Fluffy Cornbread      

makes 16 squares

Ingredients

1 cup + 2 tbs corn flour (corn flour is a finer grind than cornmeal, but cornmeal is also ok)

1/2 cup millet flour

6 tbs tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)

2 tsp xanthan gum

2 heaping tsp baking powder

1/2 heaping tsp baking soda

1 cup milk

1/3 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk (I used yogurt)

2 eggs

2 tbs agave nectar

3 tbs bacon fat or other oil ( e.g.canola, grapeseed, or melted butter)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease a 9×9 square pan. (no need to do this if you have clay, or nonstick bakeware)

In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients leaving out the bacon fat.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just incorporated. Add the bacon fat and mix thoroughly.

Pour contents into baking dish and put into the oven. Cook on the lower 1/3 of the oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy with honey, butter, jam, or your favorite condiment.


Brussels Sprouts with Mint

Brussels Sprouts- those lovely stalks of mini-cabbage-like goodness.  Most children and adults cringe at the sound of its name. How did we think it’s a punishment to consume these dainty cruciferous wonders? Can they really be dreamy? Oh my heavens yes! A melt-in-your mouth explosion of bitter and sweet- it’s all in the preparation. And let me tell you- brussels sprouts with mint added? Oh mama..

I had some muddled mint and sugar mixture left over from the afternoon’s mint julep, horse race watching festivities, and I hated to throw it out. Waste not want not… it looked so pretty and green, just waiting to be used -a perfect spring ingredient- like mint sauce on lamb, or mint sun tea, or…..mint on brussels? Why not? I decided to give it a whirl, and oh mama! was it a sensation to behold. The sweet and bitter mixing with the salt of the bacon- my taste buds were dazzled. Really- you may think I’m going overboard, but I don’t know that I’ll ever make brussels any other way. And to think, at one point in my life, I was a cringer. See what happens when you step out of your comfort zone? You just might fall in love!

Brussel Sprouts with Mint

serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 lbs of fresh brussels sprouts

8-10 slices bacon

3 tbs olive oil

2 tsp bacon fat (optional)

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup shredded parmesan

2 Tbs of muddled mint sugar

Directions

In a colander, run brussels under cold water for about 30 seconds. With a paring knife trim off the rough bottom end. If brussels are larger than a walnut, cut in 1/2. Place into shallow baking dish. Sprinkle pine nuts over the top.

Drizzle olive oil over brussels and pine nuts and stir around until all the sprouts are evenly coated. If you like drizzle the bacon fat over the top. Turn oven to 400 and place pan in the bottom rack. Set timer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, on the stove, cook bacon until crispy and set aside.

In a food processor place equal amounts of mint and sugar. Blend until mint is thoroughly incorporated into the sugar, about 1 minute.

When 20 minutes have passed, open the oven and sprinkle the mint sugar over the brussels, stir and set timer for another 10 minutes. Brussels are ready when they are fork-tender. Keep checking at 5 minute intervals until they are ready- about 10-20 minutes depending on your oven. If you’re worried about some of the sprouts getting crispy you can cover the baking dish with a piece of aluminum.

When the brussels are done, pull from oven and place on a trivet. Crumble the bacon and add to the brussels. Stir, and sprinkle with parmesan.

These were an accompaniment to a special dinner that included Cheddar Cheese Polenta, and Bleu Cheese Encrusted Grass-Fed Beef. Delicious!

Cheddar Cheese Polenta

 

Ingredients

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup half-n-half

1 cup fine corn flour

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Place liquid in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Drizzle corn flour into boiling mixture while whisking constantly. Continue whisking after all the flour is mixed in, until mixture starts to thicken- about 1 more minute. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Incorporate shredded cheese and place a lid on the saucepan. Allow to sit for an additional 10-15 minutes while your other items are cooking. This recipe is a great building block for a meal- simply use different flavor cheeses to compliment what you’re creating. For a more italian feel, use parmesan or asiago. For something more southwestern, use pepper jack. Any cheese will work; you’re only limited by your imagination!

Bleu Cheese Encrusted Steak

 

Ingredients

4 oz gluten-free breadcrumbs

4 oz bleu cheese

1 1/2 lbs of steak (your choice of cut)

Directions

To make easy breadcrumbs, toast one slice of gluten-free bread, and pulverize in a food processor. To this, add the bleu cheese and blend until mixture is a paste. Set aside.

Thoroughly dry meat and sprinkle one side with salt and pepper. Place in a hot pan and brown for 4 minutes. Salt and pepper the side facing up. Flip meat and brown for another 4 minutes. Remove from heat and place on a cookie sheet. Smooth bleu cheese paste on top of the meat and place under the broiler for an additional 2-3 minutes- until the top is brown and bubbly.

This makes a steak that is medium-medium rare. If you like steak that is more done, brown for an additional minute on each side.

Serve over cheddar cheese polenta with dreamy brussels sprouts! Enjoy!