Ground Breaker Brewing

** Harvester Brewing Company is now Ground Breaker Brewing! Still the same fabulous beer though! They just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign so look for their beer to appear in cans soon!

Happy Friday fellow Foodies! Thanks to my friend Tana Fryer- proprietor of an awesome new joint in Tuscon called Blu-a Wine & Cheese Stop– for introducing me to what is quite possibly the best gluten free beer anywhere.

Harvester Brewing Company– a dedicated GF craft beer company in Portland Oregon (how come Portland has all the best beer?) is setting the GF Beer-world on fire. I tend to  be pretty skeptical of GF Beers. Before being diagnosed with celiac I was a craft-beer drinker who especially appreciated a good, thick, creamy dark beer. Stouts, Porters- you name it. I am desperately waiting for some brewing genius to come up with a GF Oatmeal Stout that will make my dreams come true. Sadly, that hasn’t happened yet. And in the meantime, I will have to comfort myself with the fabulous beer that is being produced by Harvester Brewing.

Since I don’t live in Portland, the only way I can get this beer is via mail at Let’s Pour. (click on the link and then search for ‘Harvester Brewing’) And so in the spirit of Adventure, I took the plunge and ordered a couple of bottles of each beer they offer.

I have to say- shipping was almost as much as the beer itself- but was it ever worth it.

Here’s a brief rundown of what I got in the mail:

Harvest Brewing Experimental Ale

Harvester Brewing Experimental Ale

This Experimental Ale was a fall seasonal produced with squash and spices. Of all their beers, this was one of my favorites. I don’t know if I got a bottle from the first batch, or the second, stronger batch-but either way, it was great, and it worked beautifully with our family favorite Vegan Chile. I found the flavor to be smooth, and the squash and spices subtle.

Harvester Brewing Pale Ale

Harvester Brewing Pale Ale

This was perhaps the biggest surprise for me. Unless it’s the middle of a God-Awful Sticky Kansas City Summer, I tend not to gravitate towards Pale Ale. Even then, my taste lies more in the Raspberry Ale land- like the one New Planet Beer makes. But this…. This pale ale was a delightful surprise. It’s not sour or overly hoppy. It’s light, balanced, and has a faint hit of citrus. I found myself gravitating to this repeatedly, and really enjoyed it- with or without food accompaniment.

Harvester Brewing Red Ale

Harvester Brewing Red Ale

It’s been ages since I’ve been able to enjoy a good Red Ale. I tend to gravitate to the more malty less hoppy beers, and no one in the GF Beer World has successfully managed to come up with a full-bodied Red Ale. Congrats to Harvesters for pulling this off.

Harvester Brewing Dark Ale

Harvester Brewing Dark Ale

Can I just start out by saying this beer pairs perfectly with a brick of Comté?!? It was so good in fact, that neither cheese nor beer lasted long.

I was initially surprised at how light the beer was in terms of mouth-feel. To me it’s reminiscent of the German Black-Beers. There is a definite toast that comes across in the flavor that I really appreciate.

One of the things I admire and respect most about Harvester Brewing is their dedication to locally sourcing ingredients. In this era of factory farming, I firmly believe that local/regional sourcing helps rebuild, preserve and maintain our local economies.

But what’s a celiac to do when your local economy (like mine) has no immediate plans or desire to hatch a GF Brewery? Well, fling your net far and wide, and support those who support a local economy somewhere.

My hat goes off to the Brewmasters at Harvester Brewing. You are doing incredible, innovative work, and bringing hopes of decent beer to celiacs everywhere. Just please, please, please- consider distributing beyond the boundaries of the Pacific Northwest? Pretty Please? I know some great shops in Kansas City who will happily carry your beer!

For those of you who are lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest- run- do not walk- to your nearest vendor and support these folks. For the record- Mr. Kitchen Diva, who can consume gluten at will, enjoyed these beers as much as I did.

In closing, I have one request for you folks at Harvesters- How about a Stout? Porter? Milk Stout, Coffee Stout, Chocolate Stout, Imperial Stout? Bourbon barrel aged Stout? If anyone can create something like this, I have faith it will be you!

Thanks for the great beer and keep brewing!

Crab Bisque

Snow crab was on sale the other week, so of course I had to bring some home. I have fond memories of snow crab. Years ago, back in my undergraduate days in the Pacific Northwest, I had my first taste of snow crab at a backyard crab boil/bake on a starry fall night. Thankfully, flash freezing brings the fresh taste of crab to the midwest. And while I love cracking legs and dipping the meat in lemon and butter, sometimes I just want something, well, a little more refined. This soup undoubtedly fits that definition. But,  you shouldn’t prepare this for just anyone. Any way you slice it- or crack it in this case- peeling boiled crab is a time consuming, labor intensive process, and this meal should be reserved for those you love most- those who will appreciate the labor of your love! This is creamy, crabby goodness, and if you like sharing kitchen duties, invite your dearest to join you in the kitchen. The peeling will go faster with a little help- so why not have a crab boil of your own, and end it with a beautiful crab bisque?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, a little proud mama moment. Quite unexpectedly, my oldest suggested the dinner menu tonight at the grocery store, and I flippantly replied that she was making it- which she enthusiastically agreed to do!  She made dinner entirely on her own- complete with a hand printed menu- although dad did drain the hot pasta water. She had good fundamentals to work with, but put it all in the pan, turned on the heat, thawed the sauce, and shredded the cheese. It was beautifully presented, and tasted delicious! It was positively endearing to see a little foodie taking her love of food to the next level. After dinner she announced she wanted to start cooking a meal a week! Not bad for a 9 year old! Like I said…. proud mama!! Now onto Bisque!!

Creamy Crab Bisque

Serves 6-8 (or four people who love crab!!)

Ingredients 

4 lbs crab (4 sets of frozen legs)

2 medium potatoes, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1/2 large onion, diced (or 1 small onion)

1/2 cup celery, diced (about 2 stalks)

3 cups milk

1/2 cup white wine

1/2-3/4 cups water

dulse flakes

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

In a large stockpot, place water, white wine and crab legs. Bring to a boil and steam for 10 minutes. Remove crab and run under cool water. Reserve cooking liquid. Shell crabs and reserve about 2 cups for garnish.

In a clean pot- or your stock pot minus the crab cooking water-, melt the butter, and when foamy, add the onion, celery, carrot, and potato. Stir until onions are translucent. Add the crab (minus the 2 cups), crab cooking water, and milk. Bring to a gentle simmer. Fill a food processor or blender 1/2 full with soup and process for 2 minutes or longer so that the soup is very, very smooth. Continue to process until all the soup has been brought to a smooth consistency. Of course, the texture is entirely up to you- if you like the flavor, but prefer a chowder consistency, only process a little of the soup.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with crabmeat, dulse and parsley. I chose to garnish with traditional flavors this time, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try sprinkling a little paprika or chipotle instead of the dulse and parsley. Whatever you choose, this soup is sure to put a smile on the face of those you love most!!


Crock Pot Chicken Soup

 Crock Pot Chicken Soup, made with a hearty bone broth is perfect for those going gluten free, suffering from diabetes, eating paleo, or healing their gut.

I tend to be a seasonal soup eater. While I may cook soup during the summer vegetable harvest, it gets frozen to be pulled out on those cold, windy, sometimes rainy winter nights- a little ray of sunshine in the dark of winter. If I eat soup during the spring or summer, it’s either gazpacho or some other springy cool soup. Certainly not Chicken Soup. So while my flowers tell me it’s May, it’s behaving like February or March. And the other day as the rain was pounding once again on the window, I found myself ready to freeze the chicken stock I’d simmered all night. I looked at what I had on hand and instead ended up with Chicken Soup. Lovely, toe-warming, comforting Chicken Soup. Perfect for a rainy, cold, March day…..In late May.

I used to enjoy the rain. Really, I did. I used to live in Seattle, where it rains constantly. But after nearly 2 decades (yikes!) away, my skin has grown thin. I’ve always been a daughter of the sun. Growing up in Colorado, where the sun shines more than 300 days a year, I relished brilliant blue sky, wind, and fresh air. Adjusting to the drizzle and grey of the northwest took a season, and a few sessions with a tanning bed. But then something happened. I began to appreciate the grey and soft rain. I felt like I was in a cocoon, all snuggly and enveloped by softness. I wore flannel and wool. And of course, when the sun did shine there, it was heaven on earth. A sparkling array of diamonds and rainbows reflected in every dewdrop.

Fast forward to the midwest, where when it rains, it pours. Actually, that’s an understatement. When it rains, the heavens open up and it comes in sheets. Like Noah’s Ark, or the second coming. The rain is so heavy here, that I can’t even use rain barrels. It’s rained nearly 8 inches in the last two weeks. I feel like the girl from The Cat in the Hat. At least when I lived in Seattle I could do things in the rain, like garden or hike. The other day I had to go fishing for my wool and flannel. I’d already packed it away in anticipation of the hot, humid summer that will invariably beat down upon us.

Note: I made this out of chicken that I’d simmered for stock all night. I will include those instructions, but this can be easily modified by using bouillon or premade stock, and chicken pieces of your choosing. You could get some breasts and thighs and cut them up into small pieces to cook in the stock, or you could use meat from a cooked bird. Either way it will turn out beautifully. Remember, use the ingredients you have on hand and that you enjoy. If you’re feeling adventurous, throw in a new ingredient. Remember less is more. Start with one new ingredient so you can really experience the flavor it’s adding.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:43]

 

Gluten Free Tortillas

Gluten-Free Tortillas: Heaven on a plate

Of the foods I have missed most on this ‘no wheat flour’ journey, a good stretchy tortilla has been close to the top. And a good gluten free tortilla has been hard- no, impossible- to find in the stores.

I grew up on a steady diet of tortillas. Breakfast burritos, bean burritos, quesadillas, the pot-luck favorite- tortillas with cream cheese and green chile, rolled up and sliced thin. You name it- if it was served up with a tortilla, I have probably consumed it. That is, before I knew they were making me sick. I try not to dwell on what I don’t have, because there really is so much delicious stuff I can eat, but periodically I catch myself pining away for a tortilla.

There used to be this great burrito stand just off the University of Washington campus in Seattle,  where I went to college. If you’re from there, you may remember it just off the corner of 45th and “The Ave.” It was just a walk-up window and for five dollars you could get a burrito so big that half of it was the next meal. They had the hugest, stretchiest tortillas I’d ever seen. You could see someone making them in the back practically throwing the dough like pizza crust.

After college, I even worked as an office manager in a tortilla factory. That was fascinating until I noticed they were sharing warehouse space with a chop shop and the welding tools were sparking molten stuff into the lye basin for the corn tortillas. But that’s another story. Needless to say, I didn’t last much longer there.

Then of course, there were the New Mexico years. I spent a lot of time in New Mexico as a child, and grew up on that unique blend of Spanish, Mexican and Native American cuisine that you can find only in New Mexico. I also lived there for three years, consuming massive amounts of green chile, and looking longingly at the flour tortillas. By this time I knew they were a no-no, and made do with corn tortillas. “They’re writing songs of love, but not for me” goes the old Gershwin song. My swan song for a tortilla.

The problem with gluten-free tortillas is that they break. It is impossible to roll them. Even the little corn ones will break. I have tried a few nameless brands of tortillas and they either A) taste funny, B) break, or C) both. This morning was no exception, which leads me to the reason for today’s post.

We make “Special Breakfast” most weekends and occasionally, even on school days. And, now that the girls are getting bigger, they even cook parts of it. But, even “Special Breakfast” loses its luster when it’s some variation of pancakes. Don’t get me wrong- I love pancakes, and I have a great pancake mix (see the “What’s In My Pantry Page). Of course we’re very creative with what goes in the mix, but sometimes you just want….a breakfast burrito, or carne adovada smothered in red sauce, in….a tortilla. And these store bought ones don’t cut it. Not even close.

On a whim yesterday at the store, I grabbed a package of gluten-free tortillas with a slightly different ingredient list, thinking I’d give it one more shot. I got up early today, sliced an onion, threw in a couple of left over buffalo bratwurst and some green chile, tossed the gluten-free, organic tater-tots in the oven, and started scrambling eggs. I even went so far as to wrap the tortillas in aluminum and warm them in the oven. Excitedly, I pulled them out, spread them on a plate and started piling breakfast goodness in the center. I started to roll……crack. Maybe it was because I wasn’t gentle enough and didn’t pull the tortilla tightly enough around the filling. Maybe just maybe it was an accident….

It wasn’t. I wrapped them as best I could and gave them to the girls instructing them to hold on tightly. My youngest promptly spit it out and opened up the tortilla to get to the good stuff. Not a good sign. My oldest was holding hers in her hands and it split apart spilling eggs and melted cheese all over the kitchen floor and triggering a bout of tears and wailing. Determined, I clutched mine in two hands and bit in. Blech. That’s all I could think. It was dry, funny tasting, and not at all what I wanted out of my tortilla. Sighing, I placed it down on the plate and commenced helping my daughter sweep egg off the floor. My hopes of reliving breakfast burrito nirvana were dashed.

That is, until I remembered I am an adventurous cook! Tortillas are just flour and water and lard. That couldn’t be too hard to reproduce effectively should it? The challenge, of course would be the proper flour combination, and making sure there is adequate binder to replace the gluten. Well, Shazam! folks! I did it. And tonight, taste-tested and agreed upon by both girls and one really great husband, we enjoyed a second round of burritos, properly. The tortillas were stretchy, slightly chewy and tasted just like a tortilla should. I’m so excited I think I’ll be eating breakfast burritos for a week. Keep in mind, as these have no preservatives, they are best eaten the day you make them. If you have to store them, do so in a gallon freezer bag to keep them from drying out.

May all your Tortilla fantasies come true!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:38]

Gluten-Free Tortillas

makes 6-8 tortillas

Ingredients                    

3/4 cup sweet rice flour

3/4 cup tapioca starch

1/2 cup sorghum flour

2 tsp honey

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp salt

3/4-1 cup warm water

cornstarch for flouring board and rolling pin

Directions

Thoroughly mix dry ingredients. Add honey to warm water, and stir until dissolved. Make  a hole in the center of the dry mix. Pour in the water and stir in the dry ingredients from the outside edge. When mixture becomes too thick to stir, continue mixing using your hands.

Sprinkle cornstarch on a large piece of parchment paper as well as the rolling pin. Separate dough into 6-8 even balls (6 for an 8-10” tortilla, 8 for a smaller tortilla). Flatten one ball with your hand and roll out to about an 1/8th inch thickness, thinner if possible. Add more corn starch to the parchment or rolling pin if  your dough begins to stick. Turn onto a lightly greased hot pan- I use my cast iron skillet. Cook for 30-45 seconds, flip and cook another 30 seconds. Remove from burner, and stack on a plate, covering with a towel.