Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cookbook Release Party, Show & Bake Sale!

So I have been working on a side project, and while the entire thing is not gluten-free, there is a big chunk of it that is, so I think its worthy of the space.

I had this wacky idea back in September about creating a community cookbook and, well, its happening! I haven't mentioned it here, but I spent part of my summer working at a gluten-free bakery and after wrapping up that gig and coming back to the wonderful world of office work, I realized that I truly missed making things.

I knew I did not want to go into business. Even if I donned protective gear, working in a traditional bakery once a week seemed like a horrible idea. Even a NASA space suit would still be covered in flour after a shift and wouldn't be the easiest to work in... thought perhaps the self contained hygiene system would be a perk. I digress.

So I realized that I have been asked to coordinate a lot of projects lately and that maybe that is the thing I am "good at." I love food and have thought about cookbooks for a while, but I don't feel like I am ready to pitch one on my own, but thought that coordinating and editing a cookbook might be something I could do.

If you work in publishing, you can start laughing now. I have no idea about how book making works, I just thought I would collect a bunch of recipes, make photocopies and bind them at Kinkos. Luckily many people have been interested in helping put this together, people far more knowledgeable than me. So fingers crossed, in just a few weeks a real book - perfect bind, that means it will be a paperback covered book - will be made and in my hot little hands!

The book will have a special icon for the over 40 gluten free recipes.

Here are the details and the other blog if you want to follow along:

Cook Food Every Day is a community cookbook with over 130 recipes and artwork from 38 contributors. All of the proceeds benefit the Greater Boston Food Bank. The cookbook release party, show and bake sale is going to be at 9pm on Dec. 16th @ PAs Lounge in Somerville. Come out, have snacks, listen to music and check out the book!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gluten free buns at b.good

b.good is now carrying gluten-free buns! I normally just get my burger sans bun, but I was excited to give it a try. The best part - they come TOASTED!
(I think they are a version or Jillian's, because they were tasty but fell apart within 45 seconds. Next time I will grab a fork and knife.)

Poll - VOTE!

The googler keeps asking me if I want to "monetize" this blog and until know I have been ignoring it. It doesn't get a ton of hits, but I thought... what if I did add ads, but the proceeds went to a celiac research foundation?

I am on the fence about it, because I hate being bombarded with advertisements when reading about food or news, but this seemed like a simple/easy thing I could do that would be different than just making a personal charitable donation.

To aid me in the decision-making processes, I added a poll.
Look to the right --->
Please vote!

Poll ends 11:55PM on December 10, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

NPR: A gluten-free Thanksgiving

Stephanie Stiavetti's piece A gluten-free Thanksgiving is riddled with recipes and her story of finding and making food she can enjoy on her favorite holiday.

Thanks to Liz for sharing.

TJI - Gluten Free Butterball Turkey with gluten free gravy

Ok, I am a stickler for the homemade stuff, but if you are turkey hunting you might be aware of the fact that some turkeys are processed with "natural juices" that contain gluten. Prepared gravy is almost always a no-no.

This just in: Butterball turkeys and their gravy packet are gluten free!

I found this by way of Gluten Free Food Reviews, thanks to them and Triumph for getting the word out!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Braised Pork Chops, test run of Thanksgiving gluten free Stuffing & THE BEST KALE EVER

This afternoon I began regretting not sticking my meat CSA pork chops in a brine. To be honest, pork chops are not my most favorite cut of meat - can anything compete with pork belly? - but part of the fun of a month bag of meat is the adventure. I also decided that it was due time to spot check my stuffing recipe before next Thursday. Craving something green, kale made it into the shopping basket and away we go!

Gluten Free Stuffing
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 rib of celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 tbsp of dried herbs (this looks like a lot, do not panic, I am serious, gluten free bread is boring)
I went with Italian seasonings, but sage or thyme would be lovely
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp butter (or veggie oil if you need it dairy free)
2 1/2 cups cubed, toasted gluten free bread (I used Enjoy Life's white rice bread)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
salt & pepper to taste

1. Sweat the onion, celery and carrot in 1 tbsp oil in a large pot. (You want room for the stirring)
2. Once the onions become translucent, add in the dried herbs, garlic and a few pinches of salt.
3. After 2 minutes, add in the butter, or extra oil, and toasted bread and stir to coat the bread.
4. Add in the stock - it is going to look like too much liquid - and turn off the heat.
5. Let the mixture rest for at least 5 minutes. Almost all of the liquid should be absorbed, but there might be some slopping around. This is ok. Gluten free bread is dense and needs a bunch of liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Put into a greased baking dish and bake at 350F till golden brown, about 30 minutes. I didn't pack it in, so if you have a lot more stuffing, in a bigger casserole, it will take longer.

Put it in the oven and start on the meat!

Cider braised pork chops
2 pork chops
half of an onion, sliced
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup water or chicken stock
1 tsp dried sage
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp potato starch, mixed in water

1. Salt the pork chops and in a really hot heavy bottom skillet (caste iron is great) sear the pork chops.
2. Flip the pork chops over, throw in the sliced onions, sage, cider and stock/water into the skillet.
3. Place the skillet into a 375F oven to braise.
4. When the pork chops are almost cooked through, remove them from the pan.
5. Bring the pan drippings up to a simmer and add in the apple cider vinegar and a bit of the potato starch slurry - while constantly stirring.
6. Continue to simmer until sauce thickens. Serve over rested pork chops.

(I recommend keeping a better eye on them than I did. I over did em)

1 lb. kale, deveined and chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
half a small onion, sliced
handful of pecans
handful of golden raisins
1/4-1/2 tsp Aleppo chili
salt to taste
1 tbsp water

1. Saute the onion in oil till it begins to brown.
2. Add a few pinches of salt in the pot and throw in the pecans to toast.
3. Add in the Aleppo, raisins and kale. Stir over medium-high heat.
4. Add in water (if necessary) to help cook the kale quickly. Remove from heat before its completely cooked - the goal is to keep the green color, before it starts turning a muddy brown, but not have it raw. If you are worried, err on the side of raw, seriously.

(My stove is dirty because it us used. I see this as a point of pride.)

I think this worked so well because there was the sourness in the pork chop sauce right next to it. So good.

Oh yeah, and then there were baked apples. (In my new yellow pyrex!)

Baked Apples
4 apples cored
ground cinnamon
ground allspice
brown sugar

1. Place the apples in baking dish.
2. Sprinkle with allspice and cinnamon.
3. Fill the center with brown sugar (you are going for 1-2 tbsp an apple).
4. Put a pat of butter (<1 tbsp) on each apple.
5. Sprinkle again with cinnamon.
6. Bake in a 350F oven for 30-45 minutes or until the apples are soft but not mushy, well unless you like mushy.
Let these cook for at least 5 minutes before eating.

Its bubbly and too hot to eat. SERIOUSLY HOLD OFF FOR A FEW MINUTES. But don't forget to spoon some of the butter & sugar sauce over your apple!

Gluten free Thanksgiving (planning & ideas)

The first time I made a gluten free Thanksgiving, everyone thought I had gotten sick because after the meal I went upstairs to sleep. I was perfectly fine, it was just the tryptophan kicking in. That first year I sort of over did it. I was cooking for 8 hours strait and learned a bunch of lessons, mainly, that I needed to plan ahead and let some unnecessary dishes fall by the wayside.

Putting together a feast can be a little daunting, when all of a sudden you want to have classic dishes and you don't have a ton of time to do recipe testing and half of your ingredients are new, foreign and expensive.

The most important thing is to plan, in advance. While many stores are getting better about carrying gluten-free alternatives, they don't always order a ton. Stock up on staples, essentials and non-perishables before the holiday rush. So pretty much ignore the fact that I have yet to figure out the plan for dinner or stock up on millet bread. (I love Enjoy Life's gluten-free millet bread for both stuffed mushrooms and stuffing/dressing.)

Talk it out
If you are hosting or going somewhere for the big day, talk to participants ahead of time about cross-contamination and labeling. Set up a game plan but build in some emotional padding because its going to be hard for anyone new to this to succeed 100%. I think the hardest thing for friends and loved ones of those who cannot eat the gluten to understand is that most people don't have an instant, violent reaction. If a mistake is made in the kitchen or at the table, we are not going to get rushed, via ambulance, to the hospital in anaphylactic shock. Its a pain in the ass, literally and figuratively, but part of sharing meals is often explaining what happens with our bodies. Get yourself a few good articles that you can email - see list below - that will help clarify what is going on. Its also a good idea to have a rather standardized spiel about what you can and cannot eat. This way, everyone involved will be getting the same, clear message.

Read Labels
Ask people to save wrappers and packaging so you can inspect it and deem it safe. If people get touchy about it, most people don't like to feel like you are criticizing them or their food, just give an example of when you yourself thought something was gluten free and was surprised when it wasn't and that you got really sick for 2 weeks because [you ate the old version of Rice Chex, when the new gluten-free version was out].

Gobble tips
*If you are having a turkey, make sure that the bird itself isn't contaminated by being in "natural juices" of unknown origin.
*If a roaster bag is used, make sure that no one dusts the inside with flour - per the box's instructions.
*No gluten-stuffing in the bird. Don't let someone tell you that "oh you can have the drumstick" and just not eat the meat that's near the cavity. If you are stuffing a bird, your stuffing hands are all over that beast, flipping it and moving it around and no, its not gluten free. I am personally in the Alton Brown came of being against stuffing all together because it increases the cooking time and dries out the bird.

Making the food
Try to find recipes that you love or at least others have made several times with really clear, good directions. If you are making gluten free pie dough for the first time, its going to feel really weird. Find recipes that give good indications of color, touch and smell so you feel a bit more confident in your cooking/baking/preparations.

This is NOT the time to try out some new thing that you don't know if your body likes or not. (See me eating a bunch of cookies with soy flour and needing a nappity nap and some alone time shortly there after.) If friends bring along a gluten-free treat... you know, one of those pies from Whole Foods - there is NOTHING wrong with saying thank you and eating it the next day in the privacy of your own home with a pair of elastic waist pants to allow for the fun bubbles to easily accumulate and escape because you didn't think eating that much dairy could be "that bad."

Eating the food
My latest default is to be the excited person who dives into everything first -sometimes I even pull extra aside for seconds/left overs - so that I know what utensils have touched what. If you are feeling crafty (or channeling Martha) you could even make note or place setting cards to label each dish, and write "gluten-free" and/or "vegetarian" so everyone knows whats what.
Thanksgiving is about celebrating, and lets face it, eating a ton of food. So even if you label everything and remind people about cross-contamination... its still hard not to dollop on some mashed potatoes and avoid the spoon touching the stuffing.
So, either make everything gluten free, or seriously, serve yourself first.

Recipe & Resource Round-up Yeeeehaaaaah

Brining the Bird
Cooking the Bird

Gravy - arrowroot starch works the best! Use it like you would corn starch - mix it with cold water to make a slurry - and then slowly add it to the simmering pan drippings and stock, bring to a boil and lower down to a simmer. Add in salt and pepper to taste.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Cranberry Sauce

Apple Pie with a flaky crust

Vegan Pumpkin Custard (you can use this as pie filling)


Gling gluten free Thanksgiving's Thanksgiving guide

Karina's Kitchen Thanksgiving guide

Gluten-free Review's Thanksgiving guide

I have no idea what is going to make it to the table this year, but I am excited about mashed potatoes, stuffing/dressing, gravy and brussel sprouts for sure!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food Should Taste Good Olive chips

Food Should Taste Good Olive chips are really really good. I cannot get enough of these. At first I thought they were a little weird, but no, they are amazingly delicious.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Roasting a chicken

I am not the biggest fan of chicken. At its best it can be good, but its rarely something that wows me or that I crave. As of late, I have been a bit sassy when it comes to the ridiculous amount of how-to-roast-a-chicken-recipes that are out there, Jane Black wrote an interesting piece on Cook's Magazine about their multitude of chicken recipes. That said, when the weather gets crisp, a roasted chicken says comfort, and dinner for a few days. Plus there is the added bonus of making stock with the left over bones, and my frugal, ok cheap, side is all over that.

I was watching some episode of Diary of a Food with Ruth Reichl (I think its the spin-off called Adventures with Ruth) and actress Dianne Wiest. They were both in an Italian cooking school, and a bird of some sort was being roasted and the Italian cook placed the bird directly on the wire oven rack. No pan... well there was one, on the rack below to catch the drippings. Ruth had an "why didn't I think of that" ah-ha moment, when the process was being described and I decided my quasi-ban on chicken needed to be lifted to experiment, asap.

Flash forward to semi-impromptu cooking with pals and watching Top Chef Wednesday. I feel like a post-modern Johnny Appleseed, trekking up the steep hills of Somerville toting a 4lb. chicken, plus a random gathering of potatoes, onions, herbs, spices and some spinach, that I added to my backpack as I stopped at the Sherman Market for something green. Realizing that muddying up a friend's oven, might be the quickest way to get myself uninvited from future fun, it was decided to modify the put-chicken-on-rack plan.

The basic recipe is chicken + spice + garlic + root veggies. Here are the specifics:
-chop up two preserved limes, flesh and all, toss with some zatar spice to cover, and put them into the cavity of the chicken
-peel 5 cloves of garlic and throw them in the cavity as well
-rub the chicken with zatar spice, all over

You really want to rub the chicken with oil/butter don't you. Well just stop right there and DON'T. You want the skin dry so it will crisp up.
-chop up your root vegetables - I used half a celeriac root, 3 onions, 5 potatoes, 6 more cloves of garlic
-toss veggies with salt and a little olive oil to coat

-put veggies in roasting pan, or weird paella-like dish you find in a cupboard
-put a wire rack over the roasting pan
-put the chicken on the wire rack
Throw the whole thing into a HOT (450-500F) oven to bake

We flipped the bird over (placing the breast side down) toward the end of cooking. I would recommend doing this at the half way point next time because the drumstick meat was starting to dry out a bit. On the whole, it was delicious. The meat was perfumed by the preserved limes, the vegetables got a lot of nice brown (ok, some where black) char on them and the celery root completely melted in with the chicken drippings, making a great sauce.

We had a side salad of spinach and thinly sliced daikon radish with a mustard vinaigrette.

Where is the "done" photo?
The entire thing was devoured too quickly.

I guess I will have to make again... soon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home smoking

There is something primeval about cooking meat over fire. I don't care how much I have read about it being a pretty old invention/revelation to humankind, its still amazing. Smoke is such a magical substance, turning ordinary things into complex textures and flavors. Perhaps it was my childhood spent cooking on an indoor, electric JenAir grill, but ever since I learned about charcoal grills, well my who perception of a cook out, has been changed.

I have a friend who won a Brinkmann smoker, his is in red. Last night I went over and we used it for the first time. We smoked bone-in chicken thighs with maple wood and cacao hulls (the leftovers from winnowing roasted cocoa beans). I was skeptical, really worried that the cacao would impart a bitter/burnt flavor, but it was not the case at all. The chicken came out beautifully! A dark, crisp mahogany color with a crisp skin - the excess fat was rendered off, and kept the chicken moist.

The joy of our success made us (ok me) a little smoke happy, which lead to us attempting to smoke raw potato slices and a quartered pear. The potatoes tasted leathery and uncooked, but the pear was warm, smokey and delicious. (We all agreed that perhaps cooking the potato first, then smoking it, was the way to go.

Needless to say, my jacket smells like a campfire and I am riddled with ideas for Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Apple Crisp, take 2 or 3

So I wrote everything down and made a pretty decent crisp. (Last time there was too much butter, this time I think too much flour.) I probably am not going to make this recipe again because I am 99% sure that oats, even gluten free ones, do not agree with me.

This will lead to a new gluten-free, oat-free crisp recipe in the very near future.

Apple filling
7 cups apples, chopped rather large (about 6 medium apples)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp flour mix

Flour Mix (this is something new I have been working on)
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup sweet rice flour

1 stick of room temperature salted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4tsp cinnamon
1/2 - 3/4 cup gluten free oats (depends on how oaty you like it)
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup flour mix

1. Mix the peeled, chopped apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon and 3 tablespoons of the flour mix. (You might need more or less of the flour mix depending on how juicy your apples are. Basically you want to coat them so there is no liquid oozing.)
2. Mix up the topping, using your fingers is the easiest.
3. Place apple mixture in a greased baking dish. Top with topping - you might have a 1/4cup+ extra. Just store it in the fridge or freezer for a baked apple for one.
4. Bake at 350F for 40-60 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

ALL THIS TO COOL COMPLETELY. You need to give the flours time to gel and set. If you cut it hot, you will have a soupy mess.