Gluten Free Stonewall Donuts

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.59.29 PM

Very excited to find a mix for gluten-free donuts from Stonewall Kitchen – that purveyor of delicious condiments, dips and spices.  I’d not tried any of their baked goods mixes before but I grabbed this one when I saw it in the food section of Marshalls (you just never know where interesting gluten-free produce will show up!)

“It’s bad”, said my sweet toothed Celiac daughter when I served her the tenderly made steaming fresh donut.  Well they looked good.  But unfortunately she was right..they taste like the lint you pick out of your tumble dryer – I’ve not tried it myself, but that gives you a good idea of the texture of the donuts.

What a disappointment.  This one is a no-no.

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 1.01.33 PM

Looks just aint enough, as every mother knows!

On the upside, these Nairns oatmeal cookies are the bees-knees.  They come in snack packs and unlike many other cardboard like gluten free cookies these ones are actually indistinguishable from non gluten-free food.  And the cookies are GUARANTEED GLUTEN-FREE; they are grown on a farm in Wisconsin by a farming family who are all Celiacs and take this stuff very seriously.

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.57.55 PM

Gooooooo Wisconsin Farmers.

Thanks.

 

Summer Salad Starring Seasonal Fruit

peachesandvinegar

This time of year we naturally gravitate towards lighter fare–and the summer’s bounty of seasonal fruit makes that all the more tempting.  My latest obsession is a green salad generously interspersed with a chopped summer fruit and some crumbled cheese, and drizzled lightly with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  So far, I have tried the following combos with great effect:

Arugula, strawberries, almonds, crumbled goat cheese.

Baby kale, peaches, cashews, ricotta salata.

Spring mix, blueberries, pecans, asiago.

arugula

 

The combination of flavors is terrific; the crunchy salt of the nuts plays beautifully with the sweetness of the fruit, and the cheese adds depth which brings the dish from a basic, healthy side to something quite special.  And it looks beautiful on the table because of the array of colors.

Please share any unique salad combos you may have discovered recently–we’re always on the hunt for interesting uses of fresh, seasonal produce!

 

Korean Chicken Sliders

 

With less than 24 hours notice, my son informed me he was hosting friends to watch the USA play Belgium in the World Cup – and could I put on some food for them.  Always ready to feed said son and friends (it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble), I chose to test out a ridiculously simple chicken sliders recipe.

I found the recipe in a gluten-free mag and unlike most gluten free recipes, the ingredient list was short and sweet:

Ingredients:

1lb chicken breasts off the bone and skinned

1 jar of gluten free Asian bbq or Korean style bbq sauce

Small bunch of scallions

Rolls to serve

It’s hard to believe it’s that easy!

 

Instructions:

1. Place chicken and sauce in slow cooker

2. Cook on high for two hours and low for approx four hours.   (Test the chicken breast; you know when it’s done when it falls apart easily)

3. Lightly toast bread rolls and then fill with the cooked chicken meat and sprinkle finely diced scallions on top of the chicken.

 

Pep it up!

Having tried this once now, I plan to chop and change the recipe and pep it up a bit…

* Add extra heaped teaspoon of pureed garlic to make sauce flavor more intense

* Add 1 cup of ginger beer to increase that Asian dynamic!

* Make a side salad of fresh bean sprouts, chopped coriander, sliced tinned water chestnuts finely sliced and a couple of finely chopped radishes; add 1 tbsp of mayonnaise and make an Asian-style slaw to serve as a side.

* Use sesame topped bread rolls to add to the crunch

My photos tell the story. By adding some interesting sides and garnishes, what was initially a quick fix supper becomes a proper robust dinner.  Serves 4.

USA lost by the way.  The goalie was my “man of the match”, if you’re interested.

 

 

Butter Tomato Sauce: Grazie, Marcella Hazan

In this season of bountiful tomatoes, I’m always on the hunt for a good use of them.  Thanks to the esteemed Marcella Hazan’s justifiably famed Butter Tomato Marinara, I recently discovered a new one.  Here’s the recipe.

I did use fresh tomatoes, which means I peeled them.  Not my favorite use of time, but the first time I try a new recipe I try to follow it accurately.  Since the rest of the sauce was so blissfully simple and undemanding, I actually might repeat this method.  But, it is also recommended to use high quality canned (read:  already peeled) tomatoes, and particularly if I were feeding a crowd, I would go that route.

 

Per the recipe, I peeled and coarsely chopped the tomatoes, and placed them in a pot with butter, salt,  and an onion cut in half.

 

marcellatomatoprep

 

I simmered it, uncovered, on med-low for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing the large tomato pieces with the spoon.

marcellatomatosauce

 

When the sauce was a uniform texture, it was done.  I served it with fresh spinach gnocchi, topped with parmesan cheese and snipped basil leaves pulled from the garden that afternoon.

Gracie, Marcella.

gnocchidone

Bon Appetit Boiled Shrimp with Mustard-Lime Dressing

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 12.44.23 PM

I’ve never boiled shrimp before.

Fried shrimp, grilled shrimp, jambalaya-d shrimp, you name it …but   I’ve never boiled up shrimp.  I always imagined they’d be soggy and wet.

In need of a quick fix July 4th appetizer, I tried this boiled shrimp recipe in July’s issue of Bon Appetit and I was blown away.

This one is definitely a keeper..

My shrimp taking swimming lessons...

My shrimp taking swimming lessons…

As I was out of Old Bay, I turned to a stalwart seasoning in my pantry – Beck’s Devils Dust.  The result was phenomenal.  Needless to say I am a convert to boiled shrimp – when they are cooked for no more than 3-4 minutes and are bathed in a mix of Old Bay and lemon juice.

Try it: Bon Appetit Shrimp

 

 

 

 

 

Honeyed Hazelnuts, a Great Addition

hazelnutsHoneyed Hazelnuts add a sweet crunch to just about anything.

I was throwing together dinner one hurried evening last week and the salad began to look rather forlorn.  That is pretty inexcusable these days when produce is at its summer best.  But, the crisper drawer was pretty bare save some decent salad greens, so I put my thinking cap on.

hazelnutsinpan

I foraged and found some good looking hazelnuts in my pantry, but again, they needed something.   Inspiration struck, and i dumped them into a skillet with some honey, a pinch of salt and a grind or two of fresh pepper, and let them cook for about 5 minutes to coat thoroughly.    Then I dumped them onto a plate, and to accelerate the hardening process, put them in the fridge for about 15 minutes. The result was a slightly sticky and totally delicious crunch.

 

The finished product did clump together a fair bit and I had to pry them off the plate, but no one cared.  The salad, which was also gussied up with some crumbled goat cheese and chopped prunes was consumed down to the last leaf, thanks mostly to the hazlenuts.

 

These would be delightful on a cheese plate, sprinkled over ice cream, or decoratively placed atop a cake.

 

Beef Pot Roast – the Foundation for Beachside Tacos

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 3.25.48 PM

I’ve made a major discovery.  Whilst my picky eater teen daughter won’t readily eat pulled pork, she will eat beef pot roast.  I’m guessing it must be something to do with the texture and density of the two meats: Pork is slightly stringier with longer fibers while a beef pot roast produces a crumblier meat.  Whatever.  I’m just happy to have found an easy cook recipe for the Summer.

During the Summer, I love to cook meat in the crock pot (the kitchen stays cool) and I must confess I prefer meats that are cooked this way – rather than slow roasted in the oven.  I just think the texture is better overall.

I’m a devotee of meats slow cooked with beer, but since said picky eater is a Celiac, beer is off the menu.  (How much longer before she leaves home???)  Ginger ale is a perfect substitute for beer.  And I go crazy.  I use two individual sized bottles in this dish, because I like the warmth and flavor of ginger.

The recipe is equally good for pork or beef:  Here’s the marinade for the slow cooker:

Ingredients:

2 bottles of ginger ale

3 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue sauce

Lots and lots of freshly ground salt and pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

Beck’s Devil Dust (I use 1 heaped tbsp)

1 tbsp of honey

Oil to brown meat in frypan

 

Recipe:

1. Pat your choice and cut of meat dry

2. Assemble all your spices and roll the meat in the spices coating all sides of the meat

3. Heat oil in frypan and brown all sides of the meat to maintain flavor and moistness

4. Put all other ingredients in slow cooker and place meat in slow cooker

5. Set on high for 2 hours

6. Cook on medium for 6-8 hours – depending on the power of your cooker

7. Test the meat with a fork.  When it flakes off then you know it’s ready for consumption

 

We live off tacos throughout the Summer; we consume fish tacos, scallop tacos, beef and pork tacos.  This pot roast recipe will last us for 2-3 different meals.   You actually don’t need much meat  per person if you get creative and load up your tacos with:

  • roasted corn
  • coleslaw in garlic aioli
  • salad greens – we like funky pea shoots!
  • beans of all description (my daughter’s favorite is chick peas

The options are endless.

Enjoy

 

Vanilla Souffle Cake

lemonsoufflebaked

 

Last Sunday after a delicious grilled steak dinner, someone at the table said, “A lemon souffle would be great right now.”  I briefly considered whipping one up, but immediately thought better of it and broke out some chocolate bars and ice cream.  But the lemon souffle stuck in my head, and by Monday evening, I had to have one.  After picking up various kids from various places, I got home, put dinner in front of them and set to work.

As I assembled the ingredients I came to a disturbing realization:  the lemons in my fruit bowl were long past their prime and their rind was in no shape to provide the fresh citrus-y zest needed for this dessert.  So I moved to plan B:  Vanilla souffle.

I had made this lemon souffle cake many times before–it’s pretty simple, aside from the water bath cooking requirement, which is a bit of a pain.    It serves 6 sensibly or 4 gluttonously, and is delightful with berries.  I figured it would easily translate into vanilla, and I was right. I followed the recipe to a T, with the following substitution:  omit lemon zest and juice; instead scrape the insides of 1 1/2 vanilla beans into a bowl, and add 2 tsp vanilla extract.  The verdict:  delicious.  It was not as refreshing as the lemon, lacking that citrus lightness, but had a delightfully rich vanilla custard feel, which fit the bill on a rainy summer evening.

Following the recipe in the above link, here’s a pictorial step by step:

Vanilla beans w/ egg, milk, flour, sugar….

souffleingredients

 

Whip egg whites til stiff:

whippingeggwhitesBake in water bath:

lemonsoufflebaking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sweet Potato Fries – a Huge Hit!

 

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 3.00.41 PM

Dead easy this.  The hardest part of this recipe is slicing the fries thinly without losing a fingertip.

The end result is amazing.  Fresh crunchy fries that you can serve as an appetizer with a spicy dip, with a burger at midday or as a side for cold meat and a salad.

I’ll be making this again in a hurry!

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes

1 bowl full of iced water

Canola or Coconut Oil spray

Chili powder and sea salt for flavoring

Recipe

  1. Wash sweet potatoes, leaving skin on
  2. Slice potatoes finely (1/8th inch).  Use a mandolin if you dare
  3. Put sliced fries into large bowl of iced water and leave for 20 minutes
  4. Drain fries and pat down
  5. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper and place fries on sheet
  6. Spray liberally with your choice of oil and sprinkle sea salt and chili on fries
  7. Flip fries and repeat 6
  8. Place fries in oven at 400, cook for about 35-40 mins
  9. Keep checking oven, as the fries all seem to cook at different speeds.  Remove cooked fries (they should be brown and crispy) and keep checking on remaining fries until you are happy that all are perfectly done
  10. Serve with a dip – our recommendation is a homemade blue cheese dip

Note these fries are best cooked and served immediately.  After a couple of hours they tend to wilt.  To refresh, pop back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes to perk them up.

Have fun.

 

Strawberries with Aged Balsamic and Ice Cream

strawberrybalsamicNormally, I’m a chocolate, caramel, cream, buttery cakey, ooey-gooey, dessert kind of girl.  But when I happened upon a quart of  beautiful, just picked strawberries in the Headhouse Farmers’ Market, they spoke to me.  I knew i needed to do something that really showcased the fruit and didn’t interfere too much with its texture, flavor or freshness.

As I rummaged through the cabinet seeking inspiration, I spotted a small bottle of aged balsamic vinegar, which had been part of a delightful gourmet gift basket I received awhile back.  An idea began to germinate–vanilla ice cream topped with sliced strawberries and balsamic vinegar.   Do note, aged balsamic is a sweet, thicker, almost syrupy concoction which works with desserts as well as some salads, particularly those that feature fruits and nuts tossed with the greens.  This oh-so-simple dessert was a showstopper; it highlighted the fruit, offered a unique and complementary flavor with the vinegar, and a bed of ice cream is the ideal summer treat.  Did I mention it took all of 45 seconds to prepare a serving?  And no oven required.

Here’s how to make heaven for one:

A scoop or two of best quality vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1 tsp (or more) 18 year old balsamic vinegar, drizzled over top.

Enjoy.

This would be wonderful raspberries, or with peaches as they begin to appear in markets.

If you can’t get your hands on aged balsamic (it can be hard to find and rather pricey–best to procure it the way I did as a gift!) then you can cheat and reduce regular balsamic.  For four servings, dump a cup of regular balsamic in a saucepan and boil til it’s thick and syrupy.    This may take about 20 minutes. Drizzle as above.