Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Steak and Potatoes Diet

When I realized that I would have to be on a gluten-free diet for the rest of my life, one of my primary thoughts was: I can still eat steak. In fact, when people try to have pity on me for my dietary restrictions, I tell them that I love my diet: it includes steak, potatoes, and ice cream.

You probably don't need instructions on how to cook steak and potatoes. I'm mentioning it for What's for Dinner? Wednesday not because I think people need to know more about steak and potatoes, but because I sometimes like to remind myself to keep it simple. Simple is delicious.

For more gluten-free dinner ideas see Linda at the Gluten-free Homemaker.

My friend and I bought all the main ingredients for this meal at the Portland Farmer's Market. The herbs were picked form the garden - they miraculously survived the winter. First I cleaned and prepped the potatoes. We put a dry skillet in the oven at 400 degrees to heat up. I mixed some walnut oil, salt, sage, and thyme together. I rubbed the oil mixture all over the potatoes and some purple carrots and placed them in the hot pan, which then went in the oven to roast. Some of the oil mixture was left over, and I basted the potatoes with that midway through cooking. The potatoes took about 40 minutes.

In the meantime we simply rubbed the steak with some walnut oil and seared it in a cast-iron skillet on the stove. That went in the oven for a few minutes too.

Once the steak was in the oven we cooked up some greens. We had already washed and dried some tatsoi greens and some black trumpet mushrooms (one is sitting on top of the steak in the picture below). Those got sauteed in some oil and salt in a skillet on the stove. When they were done we pulled everything out of the oven, salted the steak, and dished it up for a beautiful meal.



Sunday, March 29, 2009

7 Things You May Not Know About Me


1. I don't eat gluten. That means no wheat, barley or rye. People feel sorry for me when they hear of it, but I don't feel sorry for myself because I eat really well. I think that being on this restricted diet has made me a better cook. The only things I really miss are croissants and beer.

2. I have spent a lot of time worrying about "being efficient" and "conserving energy" when it comes to personal projects and work routines. Recently I realized that I was so worried about being efficient that I was often paralyzed with indecision, and I was so concerned with conserving energy that I never started anything.

3. I've spent most of my life sitting down and reading. When I read I become addicted to to a novel like it's crack cocaine. I think about it all the time and don't want to do anything else. If I didn't have a job I would probably never go out except for food while I'm in the middle of a novel. The only remedy is to finish it.

4. Since I (finally) got internet in my home a few months ago my worst fears have been realized: I am now addicted to the internet and haven't read a book in three weeks. I have, however, gotten several projects done that I've been sitting on for years. Still, I am not proud of how much time I spend online.

5. I really like wine, but I am not a snob. I am a gourmand - I just like what tastes good, and plenty of it. That being said, I am a lightweight when it comes to drinking.

6. I am very accommodating to my friends' and boyfriends' foibles, sometimes to a fault. However, I can on extraordinary occasions hit a point of no return. I become like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice; my good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.

7. I can remember whole conversations almost verbatim. This talent does me absolutely no good. Invariably, when I bring up something that has been said to me the speaker has either forgotten that we had the conversation at all or they didn't really mean it in the first place. I am very literal-minded. It took me about 25 years of my life to understand the importance of idle chitchat as a tool for social interaction, and that literal truth is often overrated outside the realm of journalism.

The rules are simple. Link to your original tagger and list these rules in your post. Simply share seven facts about yourself in the post. Tag seven people at the end of your post and let them know they’ve been tagged. And have fun!

Thanks to Linda the Gluten-free Homemaker for tagging me. Here are the seven people I'm tagging:

1. Jessie at Blog Schmog
2. Rebecca or Joy at The Green Baby Guide
3. Brian at Fire and Salt
4. Ben at Gluten-free PDX
5. Dave or Siena at Gluten-free Portland dot Org
6. Liz at The Good Eatah
7. Emilia at A Gluten-free Day

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tinkyada Brown Rice Fettucini Style Pasta Product Review

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For my What's for Dinner? Wednesday blog carnival post I decided to do a dual product review/easy dinner idea: pasta with tomato sauce. I dressed mine up a bit with some sausage from New Seasons (they don't add any wheat or other fillers to their deli sausage) and some broccoli. However, this is always a go-to meal when I want something fast and satisfying. This has always been a favorite meal.

For other GF dinner ideas, visit Linda at the Gluten-Free Homemaker.

When I discovered Tinkyada pasta for the first time, I was pretty excited to try a new brand. They have a white rice pasta which I reviewed last month and thoroughly enjoyed. Then I realized that everyone else knew about Tinkyada pasta before I did! It's sold in most of the stores I frequent, including New Season's on NE 33rd and at Food Front on NW Thurman. (It's also widely available on the internet.) I read several blog posts about how good their brown rice pasta was, and I was eager to try it.

Well, I was disappointed. I actually like the Trader Joe's brown rice pasta better, if you want to campare apples with apples. To read about my all-time favorite pastas, Ancient Harvest and Mrs. Leeper's, read my review The Best and Worst of Gluten-free Pasta.

This pasta gave me problems from the start. Trying to be fair, I tried it three times. The first time I under-cooked it, and the noodles stuck together, probably because I paused before stirring to take this picture:
That picture was really not worth it. The second time I stirred it diligently so it wouldn't stick to itself, then I over-cooked it. The third time I stirred it and timed it diligently, I tested it often, I took it off the stove five minutes early (for a 13-minute stated cooking time, a 5-minute difference is significant), and it was still over-cooked.

I like my pasta al dente, it's true. It's possible my standards are too high. But for a product that proclaims right on the front of the packaging "NOT MUSHY AL DENTE" I thought it was pretty soft. It certainly didn't live up to the Tinkyada white rice pasta I had before (which I still haven't seen anywhere in town - any ideas?) It also didn't live up to its claim that it could "withstand quite a bit of over-cooking." I found the texture smooth enough for brown rice pasta, but otherwise the texture was a disappointment. I also found the flavor a bit lacking. I salted the water, but it the pasta was pretty bland.

Enough kvetching. Here is what I did for dinner:

I started some water boiling and heated a saucepan on another burner. I cut some sausage up into pieces and threw them in the saucepan. When the water started boiling I threw in the pasta and stirred it diligently. Then I put some chopped broccoli in the pan with the sausage. I stirred that for a bit then threw in some Classico spaghetti sauce (my favorite when I can't get home-made). By the time the pasta was done the sauce was hot and I served everything piled on a plate and with cheese on top. This whole process takes about 15-20 minutes.


Then I eat.

This is a shot of the meal prepared with the Ancient Harvest linguini. It was so much better!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Time to Plant a Garden!

I'm inspired by the daffodils popping their heads up in my yard suddenly! Next week I'll have blooms. I decided that today was the day to plant a few seeds. I'm not getting too industrious yet: I'll buy some starts in May and get those in my raised-bed garden. Today I just put a few lettuce seeds down in planter pots to see what will happen. I haven't had much luck with lettuce yet in my garden, and I'm hoping it's not already late to plant this cool-weather crop. I also planted a little bit of broccoli to see what would happen. I suspect that the planter pots are not the best place for lettuce, but I was too lazy to actually break ground an fertilize my small patch of soil.

It looks like my laziness had a purpose. It suddenly started to hail, and I'm safe inside already!

Who else out there is planting a garden? What are your favorite things to grow? Any tips for a lazy gardener like me?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Flan or Creme Caramel recipe with a Pumpkin Variation

Here is a recipe that is surprisingly simple. It's a good recipe for making dairy-free. Simply substitute all of the milk and cream for coconut milk. I would imagine that a full-fat almond milk would taste lovely in this recipe too, though I haven't tried it yet. This is my own modification of the Joy of Cooking's recipe.

The trickiest part of making this recipe is in preparing the caramel sauce. It has few ingredients but it takes some patience and attention.

Place in a saucepan, preferably one with a light-colored inside:

3/4 cup sugar

Pour over the top:

1/4 cup water
Heat the mixture slowly, swirling the liquid occasionally until it clarifies. Increase the heat to high and boil for 2 minutes, covered. Uncover the pan after the two minutes is up and watch it boil until it begins to darken. At this point start swirling the syrup in the pan again to cook it evenly until it turns a dark brown. If you smell burning immediately remove it from the heat: you have cooked it a little long but burnt sugar has its own appeal. Sometimes I burn it intentionally, but usually I try for the darkest syrup possible without burning - an art in itself. While still very hot, pour the caramel into the bottoms of 6-8 ramekins. It will harden almost immediately.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Heat in a medium saucepan just until steaming:

2 Cups milk 1 cup cream or coconut cream

-or-

1 Cup milk 1 Cup cream 1 cup pumpkin

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together:

5 large eggs 1/2 cup sugar 1/8-1/4 tsp salt (optional)

Slowly whisk the heated milk mixture into the egg mixture. Strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl with a pouring lip. Mix in:

3/4 tsp vanilla
Pour the liquid into the custard cups. Bake in a water bath (with the custard cups set in a pan of hot water coming at least halfway up the sides of the cups) for 40-60 minutes, or until jiggly but not watery. Carefully remove the custard cups from the pan without getting water into the custard. Chill for at least 2 hours, but this dessert actually improves the longer you chill it.

To serve, set the custard cup in a dish of hot water. Run a knife along the edge of the custard to loosen it, then invert the custard on a dish. Use a light-colored dish to highlight the caramel-colored sauce that covers the custard.

Don't have ramekins?  Buy them online at Sur La Table (aff.).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Poached Trout with Cream Sauce, Saffron Rice, and Steamed Vegetables

My original idea was to create a full meal that could be completed in the time it takes to cook the rice. However, between chatting with my cooking partner, julienning, drinking wine, and general dawdling the meal ended up taking about an hour to cook up. In theory I could have done it faster, and perhaps my next attempt will be much speedier. I will write out the recipe as I imagine it should be organized, not how I actually cooked it. For more gluten-free dinner ideas visit The Gluten-Free Homemaker. She hosts our What's for Dinner? Wednesday blog carnival.

Julienne:

1-3 vegetables

Heat in a pan large enough to snugly accomodate the fish on a very low heat:

1-2 cups white wine (substitute a light broth if you desire)
salt
2 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs. We used tarragon and chives.
1/4 tsp of your favorite aromatic spice mix. Garam masala or a curry powder would work well.

In a small pan, heat on high:

rice
water
salt
a few pinches of saffron

(Once the water boils, turn the heat down to low and cook for 20 minutes, covered.)

While the rice is cooking, start the water boiling for your steamed vegetables and check the heat of the wine in your other pan. When it reaches 150 degrees, add:

2 pieces of trout, cod, halibut, or your favorite soft-fleshed fish.

Cover the fish tightly and cook until just done, about 5-10 minutes. When the fish is done, remove it to a platter and put it in a warm oven. Strain the liquid from the fish into a small pan and cook over a medium-high heat to reduce the liquid. Once it is reduced to the point that it has thickened somewhat, turn the heat down and add:

a touch of cream (optional)
salt to taste

Put the vegetable in the steamer and cook for about 1-2 minutes.

Arrange everything on a plate and serve.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Gluten-free Buckwheat Waffle Recipe: the Variations

For those of you who can't eat corn, I have not forgotten you.  I adore the taste of buckwheat, and it is by far my favorite variation on the waffle theme. All of these variations simply change the type of flour used, but not the quantity, which always comes to 2 cups total. Some flours will make the batter thicker than others, but the waffles almost always turn out no matter what the consistency of the batter.


Use your favorite GF Pastry Flour for the other cup of flour, and you're set. If you don't have pastry flour on hand, try your All-Purpose GF flour mix and sub out a few tablespoons of potato starch. Mix it up and have a some great waffles! This recipe is particularly good with buttermilk instead of regular milk.

If you love both the taste of corn and the taste of buckwheat, try using 1/2 cup corn flour and 1/2 cup buckwheat flour instead.


Buckwheat Waffle Recipe:

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup Deluxe GF Pastry Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour already has it)

1/4 cup sugar

Separate:

2 eggs

Beat until stiff in a separate bowl (preferably copper):

the egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar.

You will know they are ready when the eggs stick to the bottom of the bowl when tilted. At this point, stop beating immediately - you don't want the egg whites to be dry.

In a medium bowl mix together:

the 2 egg yolks
2 cups milk
or buttermilk
1 tsp vinegar (skip this if you are using buttermilk)
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted.

  
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour 1/4 of the fluffy egg whites into the batter and gently fold them in with a rubber spatula, then fold the rest of the egg whites in to the batter as well. you can stop folding when only a tiny amount of egg white is still distinguishable.

Pour 1/2 to 1 cup of the batter into a heated, greased waffle iron and cook until the amount of steam coming out of the iron starts to decrease. Repeat until batter is used. Serve waffles right off the iron or put them in a 250 degree oven to keep them warm if needed.

A note about leftover pieces: waffles freeze really well. Just make sure they are cool before you put them in the freezer bag or container. When you're ready to eat them, just heat them up in the toaster and you're set!


New items: try my Quick Buckwheat Waffles, Buckwheat Pancake Recipe and my Easy GF DF Waffle Recipe!



Thursday, March 5, 2009

Gluten-free Corn Waffle Recipe

These savory and sweet cornmeal waffles are one of my favorite breakfast foods. I am not bragging when I say that these are the best waffles I've ever tasted. I'm simply telling the truth. This recipe is essentially the Joy of Cooking Cornmeal Waffles recipe that has been modified to be gluten-free. If you are on a no-dairy diet try almond milk instead of cow's milk and a mild-flavored oil (not olive) instead of butter. I'm afraid there's no helping the eggs - they are essential for making the waffles fluffy. If anyone has an egg-free version I'd love to hear it!

Corn Waffle Recipe

Mix together in a large bowl:


1 cup Deluxe Pastry Flour
(something with a lot of potato flour is excellent)

1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup corn meal
2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
(if your flour mix doesn't have it already included)

1/4 cup sugar

Separate:

2 eggs

Beat until stiff in a separate bowl (preferably copper):

the egg whites and a pinch of cream of tartar.

You will know they are ready when the eggs stick to the bottom of the bowl when tilted. At this point, stop beating immediately - you don't want the egg whites to be dry.

In a medium bowl mix together:

the 2 egg yolks
2 cups milk

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted.



Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Pour 1/4 of the fluffy egg whites into the batter and gently fold them in with a rubber spatula, then fold the rest of the egg whites in to the batter as well. you can stop folding when only a tiny amount of egg white is still distinguishable.

Pour 1/2 to 1 cup of the batter into a heated, greased waffle iron and cook until the amount of steam coming out of the iron decreased significantly. Repeat until batter is used. Serve waffles right off the iron or put them in a 250 degree oven to keep them warm if needed.

If you like this recipe, see some of my others:
Easy Gluten-free Dairy-free Waffles
Gluten-free Buckwheat Waffles

Don't want to mix all this stuff together?  Just buy my mix!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gluten-free Tempura Recipe




I had never mad my own tempura before creating this recipe.  However, I wasn't afraid to try it gluten-free.  This tempura recipe didn't come out looking like a typical all-over breading, but instead resulted in an ultra-light batter and a surprisingly tasty vegetable dish.
 

For a vegan version, see this recipe on I Am Gluten Free, which was my inspiration for creating a tempura recipe of my own.


Dipping Sauce Recipe:


Tempura is usually served with a simple dipping sauce. Combine:

equal parts (GF) soy sauce and water
a dash of rice vinegar
a dash of mirin (optional)
a bit of sugar

Gluten-free Tempura Recipe:



Cut in to pieces 1/4 inch thick:

4-5 assorted vegetables

Pat the vegetables dry.
Heat in a large skillet:

3/4 inch to 2 inches oil

I used mostly olive oil with some sesame oil. You will know that the oil is the right temperature when a little bit of batter dropped in it only sinks halfway to the bottom, then immediately floats back to the top.

Mix together:

1/4 cup corn starch (substitute potato starch if necessary)
1/4 cup glutinous rice flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt



In a large bowl, mix together:

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup iced water

Add the dry ingredients and whisk together.

When the oil is heated up to the right temperature as described above, dip some of the sliced, thoroughly dry vegetables into the tempura mix, coat on all sides, and carefully place them in the hot oil. Give the vegetables room in the pan. Cook for 40 seconds. If the tops have not cooked, turn the piece over and cook another 20-40 seconds. The breading doesn't have to brown - 40 to 80 seconds is plenty of time for most vegetables at this temperature. remove the vegetables and place them on a paper towel. You can keep the cooked vegetables in the oven to keep them hot while you fry more batches.

Serve hot. I enjoyed mine with rice and a marinated, roasted duck leg, the secret recipe of which belongs to a friend of mine.

Need a wok?