Monday, July 27, 2009

How does your garden grow?

On my walk home from the El, which I still cannot stop calling the T, I was pretty surprised to see someone this:

Someone on W. Diversy has a special place in my artichoke heart.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

BYON - Bring your own naan

I heard about the falafel at Sultan's Market, and that it is some of the best in the city and decided it was what's for dinner. Once confirming that their balls of golden fried goodness were gluten free, I thought it would be awesome to bring a flat bread/naan/pita in tow for a more complete experience.

I started with this recipe for
gluten-free nann / roti on, and then well, changed it.

Homemade Naan

2 tsp yeast
2 tsp sugar
150 ml warm water
1 cup sweet rice flour
3 tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp potato starch
3 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
150ml plain yogurt
2 tsp veggie oil *Plus more for shaping

parchment paper
disher - I used a 1.33oz
cookie sheets
Preheat oven to 500F

1. In a bowl combine the 2 tsp sugar, yeast and warm water. Allow to proof (get frothy and bubbly) for 5 minutes.
2. In another bowl, sit the dry ingredients together.
3. Add the yeast mixture to the dry ingredients and add in the yogurt, additional sugar and 2 tsp of oil. Mix together very well. (The batter is going to be very sticky, but you need to keep beating it to get rid of any lumps.)
4. Dish out the mixture onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Oil your hand and spread the mixture out until its less than 1/4" thick.
5. Allow the dough to proof for 10-20 minutes until it puffs up about 1.5x its size.
6. Bake at 450-500F for 3 minutes, rotate pans and then continue cooking until brown.
7. Allow to cool on pans.

Sticky dough.

Formed Naan.

Proofed for 10 minutes (it was a really hot day, it might take longer if your apt isn't 92F)


Falafel dinner from Sultan's Market w/hot sauce and all the fixins.

The loaded up flat bread ready for me to eat!

The falafel was really light, cripsy and not at all greasy. The hot sauce, it was some of the hottest I have ever had, but it was so so good. I was grateful for the cooling cucumber salad. And the best part is, I have 4 extra naan in the freezer for the next falafel outting.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Homemade Maple Granola

I used to omit the vanilla extract and add orange oil and coconut to the first version of this recipe. I like this one even more.

Maple granola
4 cups gluten free rolled oats
1 cup raw sliced almonds
1 cups raw pecan pieces
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds *shelled
1 cup raw peppitas (pumpkin seeds, shelled)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup maple syrup (grade b is great here)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp salt (I used sea salt, go 3/4 tsp if you use table salt)
1/2 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon
parchment paper
2 sheet cookie sheet or jelly roll pans with lip all the way around
1 cup dried tart cherries
1 cup dried golden raisins
1 cup dried apricots, quartered

1. Mix all ingredients except the fruit together in a bowl.
2. Spread out over parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 325F
3. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes, flipping the mixture at least once. You are looking for golden brown, but really watch the edges, they will burn quickly.

Once cooled, add the dried fruit.
Store in air tight bag/container.

Monday, July 20, 2009


The adventure in Chinatown ended with a seasonal discovery: Longans.
(I was honestly looking for tapioca starch, which I haven't been able to find in any of the grocery stores.)

Longans or Dragon's Eyes are a fruit that I have only come across 3 times before, during the summer in Chinatown in Boston. The fruit is surrounded by a thin, brown skin, not quite a shell. Once its peeled away, the opaque flesh surrounds a dark brown seed. The fruit tastes a bit like a combination of lychee and sweet corn.

They are a little labor intensive, but really refreshing on a hot day.

Sour Cherry Blueberry Pie

After a day checking out the parade in Chicago's China Town and an amazing meal at Pollo Express in Pilson - seriously, this was the best chicken I have ever eaten in my entire life. If you are in Chicago, you must go there - it was time to round out the evening with pie.

I didn't have enough sour cherries to fill the shell, but an excess of frozen wild blueberries in the freezer rewarded me with this sour cherry blueberry pie.

4-5 cups sour cherries, pitted
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 cups frozen wild blueberries
(extra sugar and 1 egg for assembly)

1. Mix all of the ingredients together and let rest at least 5-10 minutes before assembling pie.

Flaky Pie Dough - new modified version
2/3 cup tapioca starch
2/3 cup potato starch
1 cup sweet rice flour
2/3 cup corn starch
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cubed butter
2 eggs
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1. Mix all dry ingredients together.
2. Cut in the butter until its about the size of peas.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and cider.
4. Add the eggs & vinegar into the flour-butter mixture until combined.
5. Divide the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Pie Assembly
Preheat the oven to 350F

1. Roll out one of the balls of dough on a well floured surface. (Rolling out on floured parchment is really helpful here. Seriously you need to be very generous with your flour or it will stick.)
2. Line the pie plate, add the filling, then roll out the second ball of dough.
3. Whisk and egg with a little water and brush the edge of the bottom layer of dough to help the top layer stick.
4. Place the top layer on the bottom, crimp the edges. Cut a few steam vents.
5. Brush the remainder of the egg wash on the top crust and sprinkle with sugar.
6. Bake for 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown.
7. Allow the pie to cool before cutting. If you skip this your filling will ooze out.

Best pie I have ever made.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Eating Well's Should You Go Gluten Free?

Here is one of the better articles I have read about celiac disease, which really makes me want to visit Brazil:

Thanks to Elizabeth for passing it along.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bastille Day Salad

With almost every ingredient coming from the Logan Square Farmers Market, this salad was partial made because the refrigerator was mistreating the veggies and the cucumber was starting to wrinkle, but totally delicious. I steamed the corn the day I got it, to keep it sweet. (Sweet corn starts converting the sugars into more complex starch carbohydrates the moment its picked.)

4 ears of sweet corn steamed and then cut off the cob
4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch batons
1 cucumber cut into bite size pieces
1 bunch of garlic scapes cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbsp whole mustard seeds
juice of one lime

1. In a heavy bottom skillet, sautee the bacon until its golden brown and rendered the fat.
2. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain it on a paper towel.
3. Over medium heat, sautee the cut garlic scapes in the remaining bacon fat until they turn a brighter green and become tender.
4. Remove the scapes from the pan and add in the mustard seeds. Cook until you begin to hear and see them popping.
5. Add the cut corn to the mustard seeds, stir until heated through.
6. Combine the corn with the bacon, scapes and add in the cucumber, juice of one lime and salt and pepper. Toss well and serve hot.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Logan Square Farmer's Market & La Pasadita

Last weekend it rained, so this one I was determined to check out the Logan Square Farmer's Market. I was surprised at well, the lack of farmers. There were a handful of farmers selling fresh corn, berries, tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers, greens and cherries, but the majority of the tents were filled with people selling prepared foods. This is not a bad thing, and I am not going to lie, the crepes were very tempting, and the cheese was really delicious, I was just surprised that there were more pickle vendors than fresh cucumbers being sold.

In addition to picking up some veggies and garlic scapes I tried fresh tart cherries for the first time! They are so different, more juicy than sweet cherries and man are they tart. I also go to talk to a family pork business from Michigan who were selling chops, sausages and bacon frozen. (A pound of their bacon made its way into my bag as well.)

After the market, I headed over to La Pasadita for tacos. I have to say that I was not ready for the awesome experience that followed. Upon sitting down at the yellow tables, chips and fresh salsa were brought over. The salsa was simple, fresh, spicy and addictive. I wanted to try the tongue taco, but I was nervous that perhaps it wouldn't suit my taste (hardy har har) so I also ordered the enchiladas. All served on corn tortillas, ordering was easy and the food arrived just when the chip basket ran out. The enchiladas were sauced right before they came out, so there was still a bit of crispness on the edges where the cheese oozed out. Not too salty, not too spicy, really good. I ordered the chicken and tongue taco (not the steamed tongue, which my dining companion got, that was a different beast) both came with cilantro and onions. The chicken was grilled, had a good smokey flavor that got even better with some of the homemade hot sauces. But the tongue taco stole the show. I could not get over how soft and tender the meat was - stringy in way brisket is, but not chewy at all. The steamed beef tongue taco, ordered by accident, was not as tender and did not have a sauce on it and arrived with tell tale signs (most notably the taste buds) that it was tongue. It was good, but not as good as the taco I got. The carne asada taco, marinated and grilled steak, well it was just phenomenal. My only regret was not getting one of my own.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Green's Quest

Green's Quest
Sweeter than expected. Small, light carbonation. Citrus notes, very fruity. Overwhelmingly it tasted more like wine than beer.

I still am excited about gluten free beers!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

St. Peter's Sorghum Beer

I have to admit that I was simultaneously skeptical and excited to try St. Peter's sorghum beer. I first heard about St. Peter's when I was working at a gourmet food shop. I really like their products and was thrilled to learn they were putting out a gluten-free option. The skepticism reared its ugly head when I read that it was a sorghum brew. I have previously tried both Bard's (previously Bard's Tale) and Redbridge. Both are made with sorghum, both have a sour off-putting aftertaste, though the Redbridge is markedly worse.

I was more than pleasantly surprised with St. Peter's. The light amber ale has a clean finish and light aroma. (The website and reviews say it has a citrus and mandarin nose, but I got coriander and a hint of amaretto.) The carbonation is light and very tiny bubbles but the most noticeable aspect of this drink is the fact that there are hops - hops that can be tasted. To be fair, its not a very hoppy beer, but the lack of hops is one of the things that I missed in Bard's, Bard's Tale, Redbridge, New Grits, and the two Green's I have tasted.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that St. Peter's Sorghum is the most beer-like gluten free beer I have had. I happened to be eating a spicy lentil curry and a sweet potato, coconut curry and it was refreshing, clean and crisp and a great addition to the meal.