Traditional Gazpacho (gluten free)

Twenty years ago this summer I lived in Madrid, Spain. While the actual event in and of itself is fairly significant, what’s even more so, for me, is that Spain was where I learned to cook and truly fell in love with cuisine. I was nineteen, and had come to Madrid from a small suburban Colorado town, where everyone knew each other. The kids in the apartment I was staying in were slightly younger than me and still in school. So for the first few weeks of my stay I was largely on my own during the day.

You can only imagine the shock and horror I experienced  my first day exploring the city when I was propositioned by someone my grandfather’s age! After a few episodes like this, and in an effort to avoid the constant cat calls that young women walking alone can receive in Latin countries, I did what any self-respecting teenaged girl did- I hid!

Enter Marisol the housekeeper. To this day I can still see Marisol’s short, wiry, frizzy, curly hair, cigarette tinged fingers, large round glasses and the light blue striped housecoat she wore when working at our apartment. Milagros, my mother for the duration of my stay, was a single parent, and Marisol helped keep the house working smoothly. She’d clean, hang the wash, prepare dinner, and while I was hiding out, sitting on a stool in the tiny galley kitchen, make me practice my spanish by recounting my previous day’s adventures and memorizing the dinner recipes. By the end of my stay I could make many of the traditional spanish dishes, all without measuring. I learned to taste and add seasonings along the way, I learned what spices worked together, and I learned that I loved to cook! Not bad for a girl who’d set the grilled-cheese sandwiches on fire a few months previously!

So Milagros, Marisol and all my dear friends from Madrid who I remember with love and fondness, this recipe’s for you: Gazpacho y Tortilla de Patata.

For ease of direction I have included measures for 4 people. Usually when I make this I make a lot more, and I confess I still don’t measure, I taste. But this will be a good starting off point for you, and then you can add or subtract flavors to your heart’s content. I have also included a chipotle mayonnaise recipe. I didn’t learn to make this in Spain, but it’s really tasty with the tortilla, so I included it. Lastly, and my apologies to Marisol who would probably be horrified that I do this, I did not call for peeling the tomatoes. When I learned to make this, I had to peel the tomatoes (no food processor). If you have a food processor, then there’s no need to peel the tomatoes. If you only have a wand mixer, then you’ll want to peel the tomatoes. It’s time consuming, but worth it. Also, if you can find them, try and use an acidic tomato, like a good beefsteak variety. The more acid types tend to impart better flavor to this dish. I always peel the cucumber, because the skin imparts a bitterness that I don’t care for. The amount of garlic you use is purely up to your taste. I toned the garlic down slightly for this recipe, usually I add more. The pique from the garlic is one of the key parts of this recipe. It’s not tomato soup- the garlic is very important. However, recognizing that raw garlic doesn’t sit well with many, I did tone it down slightly. So if you’re like me, bring on the extra cloves! Enjoy and feel free to post your own favorite food memories!

Gazpacho – Gluten Free

serves 6 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course

Ingredients

4 very ripe, medium sized tomatoes (about 2 cups)

1 medium cucumber (about 1 cup)

3 large garlic cloves (for this proportion I would use 4 or 5- it’s up to you)

1 small onion or 1/2 a medium onion (about 1/3-1/2 cup)

1 slice of bread (I prefer Udi’s Gluten Free) soaked in ice water

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs red wine vinegar

salt to taste

Directions.

Peel the cucumber, garlic (smashing it with the side of your knife then peeling skin away is easiest) and onion. Divide cucumber and onion into large chunks and place in the food processor. Add the peeled garlic and the tomatoes. Process for about 2 minutes. Gently squeeze the water from the bread and add to the food processor, along with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Process another 2 minutes or until soup is smooth and a little shiny. Depending on your taste you can add a little more olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt, and process for another 30 seconds.

Pour into a pitcher or mason jar and refrigerate, or serve immediately. Soup will keep a few days in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, give it a shake or a stir and pour into bowls.

* for a sea-food flare, add a large spoonful of lump crab that has been squirted with lemon to the center of your bowl.

Tortilla de Patata with chipotle mayonnaise  

Makes 8 2-inch slices

Ingredients

1 3/4-2 lbs potatos (wax or starch- whatever you have on hand)

1 large or 2 medium onions

2 tbs + 1/4 cup olive oil (if using stainless steel, you may need more)

2 tsp salt- more to taste

6-8 eggs

For Mayonnaise

1/3 cup mayonnaise

chipotle seasoning or powder to taste. (you will use less powder than seasoning- mix & serve)

Directions

A note about your cooking pan: The cooking pan you use is very important to the success of the tortilla. I learned how to make this using a large non-stick pan- about 10-12 inches wide. This is best because keeping the potatoes from sticking to the bottom is very important. Since I don’t use teflon, and I haven’t yet purchased a fancy enameled non-stick pan, I tend to use my cast-iron fryer. It’s not ideal- the sides are really to high- but I’ve managed to compensate. If you have stainless that you like, use it, but you will end up using more oil. I will include directions for the non-stick pans, as well as the short-cut I use with my cast-iron fryer.

 

Slice the potatoes and set aside. On medium, heat approximately 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of your pan. Add the potatoes, onion, and salt. Allow everything to cook down until the potatoes are thoroughly softened and can be broken with the edge of the spatula, about 20 minutes. Keep adding oil as you go so that the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan. (The potatoes will absorb oil as they cook, so you will need to add more as you go- it helps soften and flavor them) Taste for seasoning. The salt should enhance the flavor of the potatoes and onion, and depending on the variety of potatoes, you may want to use a little more salt. It’s entirely up to you. Mix the eggs in a separate bowl and set aside. The first time you do this use 6 eggs. It makes for a dryer tortilla and is slightly easier to flip. This is really a potato dish, not an egg dish. When the potatoes have softened, pour the egg mixture on top and smash the potatoes down with the back of your spatula. As the eggs cook, run your spatula along the side of the pan, loosening the mixture and allowing for more of the liquid to run off to the sides. Do this several times until the mixture begins to dry out, and the sides are looking cooked. The center will still be wet. At this point run the spatula along the sides and if possible, the bottom of the pan to help loosen the tortilla.

For non-stick pans: If you’re using a non-stick pan, give the pan a brisk shake to help disengage the tortilla from the sides and bottom. Grab a large plate and set it next to the stove. Very carefully, tip the pan up and encourage the tortilla to slide off the pan and onto the plate. Do Not move the tortilla if the bottom hasn’t set up- it will break. Next, put the palm of your hand underneath the plate, and with your other hand, turn the skillet upside down over the plate. Make sure the skillet is fully touching the plate. Very quickly, flip the whole thing over so that the plate is now on top and upside down. The tortilla should have flipped back into the pan. Give the pan a few more brisk shakes to help the tortilla settle, and cook for another 6-7 minutes, or until the egg is cooked all the way through. You can check this by placing a knife in the center of the tortilla and taking a peek. Once it’s cooked. Gently slide it back onto the plate and allow to cool. This dish is meant to be served chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with a little chipotle mayonnaise.

For cast-iron skillets or fryers: Once the bottom and sides of the tortilla have been cooked and loosened, turn the oven on to broil. Keep the oven rack at the second highest level- if it’s too high the dish will burn. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the top of the tortilla is nice and golden brown. Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the tortilla- eggs should be thoroughly cooked. Allow the pan to cool- the dish will shrink slightly, and this will help you remove the tortilla in once piece. With a flexible spatula loosen completely around the sides and bottom, and gently slide onto a plate. Serve at room temperature or chill. Garnish with chipotle mayonnaise.

When I lived in Spain, we would make bocadillos de tortilla (tortillas de patata on poorboy buns) and take them with us for lunch on our day trips. (yes, this was prior to the gf days) No mayonnaise needed. They keep very well in the heat and are very filling as a sandwich. We would use the spanish equivalent of bbq sauce with them this way. Delicious!


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.