Monday, April 26, 2010

Like minds

It appears that the folks at Serious Eats have come to the same conclusion I have about gluten free beers.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Organic : what matters

Organic has gone past buzz-word status and now resides in the same bin as "natural" or "local". These words don't really have a universal definition, and even when they do, (like the USDA's definition of organic), its complicated, ever changing, and rarely what you think it means. There are times where I throw my metaphorical shopping arms up in the air and feel as though I am never going to actually know where all of my food comes from, how its grown, processed, handled and if it is having an impact. There is also the fact that avoiding all gluten means giving up a lot, and gosh darn it sometimes I don't feel like having any more restrictions.

But then I am reminded that it doesn't have to be all or nothing, choosing organic items with the most impact does matter, and it can be done on a budget. These suggestion are pretty basic, but its nice to be reminded every once in a while that buying in bulk, seasonally, and supporting local farmers and businesses does have in impact on not only my food choices, but on the availability of food in my community too.

Buttermilk Rice Pudding

I had some leftover buttermilk from an Irish Soda Bread recipe, that didn't get posted because it sort of went array, and it got me to thinking about rice pudding. I was at first hesitant, worrying that the cooking of the buttermilk might lead it to breaking more easily, so I modified 2 recipes (stove top and baked custard) to gently bring together some buttermilk and rice into a warm dessert.

Buttermilk Rice Pudding
1 1/3 cup cooked rice
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 sugar
2 tbsp butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten
Nutmeg for grating over top

Preheat oven to 175F
1. In a saucepan, combine the rice, buttermilk, sugar, butter and eggs. Stir constantly over medium-low heat just until the rice breaks down into individual pieces and the mixture is warmed. (You might be able to skip this step if all your ingredients are at room temp.)
2. Pour the warmed mixture into a greased baking dish.
3. Bake at 175-200F for 45-60 minutes or until the custard sets.
4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
5. Serve with a generous grating of fresh nutmeg or cinnamon on top.

I have no pictures because it went so quickly. It was barely sweet and a little tangy and creamier than I expected. The butter actually rose to the top creating a thin beautiful yellow surface.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gluten-free FDA Survey

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking adults diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten-intolerance or caregivers to such individuals to participate in a research study on their grocery shopping habits. Participants will be asked to take an Internet survey, which will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

The survey is available at

Please contact Katherine Kosa at or 1-800-334-8571, extension 23901, if you have any questions about the study.

To request a paper copy of the survey, please call 1-877-4GLUTN1.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Crab boil

What do you do with over 7 pounds of crab claws?
Experiment with new recipe ideas!
Two really great neighbors shared a wealth of frozen Jonah crab claws and I remember that I had a box of Zatarain's boil in the pantry.

The recipe on the box called for 1 bag of boil, 3 quarts of water, some salt and 1 lemon cut up. I mostly followed the directions but added in a few cloves of garlic and half a white onion into the mix.

While the boil, well boiled, I pulled out the crab from the freezer - about 2 lbs sitting, awaiting their soak.

Items were thrown in, brought back to a boil for 5 minutes, then the heat was shut off and they crab soaked for another 15.

Drained and then out came the heavy artillery:

Hammers and pliers to get at the meat:

Yes, that is some delicious butter for dipping in the background.

The meat was a sweeter than I expected, and really didn't take on a ton of the boil ingredient flavors. It was a lot more work to pry the meat from the shell, it took over an hour to make it through the 2 pounds or so, but it was worth it. Next time I will try the addition of vinegar to the boil. Apparently it suppose to help release the meat from the shell!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dining Hall Options

Boston Globe's piece on colleges adapting to their student's dietary needs and Zimmerman's piece last week about the difficulties of navigating dining options at Princeton, seem to be coinciding with the admissions season. Its nice to see some changes are being made.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What's for dinner?

I am feeling a little un-inspired, so consider this an open call for dinner ideas.
You suggest it, I make it. (And photograph the process.)

Bonus points if the whole thing costs under $10.

Gluten free lemon buttermilk brioche

I am not Greek, but growing up we added a braided lemon bread to the Easter roster. I loved that it pulled apart, almost like monkey bread but was barely sweet.

I modified my brioche recipe, which was a twice removed version from Zoe's, to come up with something that was firmer, more workable and with less honey. The result is a bit mixed. It totally over-proofed and the braiding is barely visible in the final product, but the taste... really good. The buttermilk came through and the lemon, the lemon just sung of spring. The original recipe with oil instead of butter was lighter and more brioche-like. This texture is more bread-like than brioche or an Easter bread (its not flaky at all) but is edible at room temp or toasted! I cut up and wrapped the left overs and have had a series of amazing breakfasts all week.

Proofed dough
Braided dough:
Egg wash:


Lemon Buttermilk Brioche
1 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 1/2 cup arrowroot flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1 cup millet flour
1 1/4 cup corn starch
2 tablespoons xanthan gum
2 packets of dry active yeast
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted*
4 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
-extra cornstarch for rolling dough
-1 egg plus a little cream for egg wash

1. Combine all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine. (A whisk or fork is great)
2. Combine all of the wet ingredients. (*If you melt the butter with the honey it will speed this up. Having the buttermilk and eggs are room temp will also make it go faster otherwise your butter will solidify once you add in the cold ingredients.)

3. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined and then mix for another 1-2 minutes till there are flour lumps. Scrape down the bowl at least once and mix really well.
4. Cover the mixture and let the mixture rest in the fridge for 2 hours. (You want the butter to get cold so its easier to handle the dough. I went overnight, but you are looking for the dough to proof 1.5x the size and for it to be cold all the way through.)
5. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it into 3 blobs. (Use a rubber scraper here, the dough is VERY sticky)
6. On a well cornstarch covered surface, form the dough into three long ropes of equal length.
7. Get your baking pan (I inverted a jelly roll pan and covered it with a silpat) ready.
8. Pinch the ends of the dough together and start braiding.
9. Get a buddy and transfer the dough onto the pan.
10. Using a pastry brush, brush on the egg wash and then allow the dough to rest/proof.
(I allowed it to proof for over an hour. It sort of EXPLODED)
11. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, lower the heat to 350F and bake for another 25-35 minutes. (I went with the high heat to prevent the dough from rising any further.)
12. Allow to cool.
Serve with optional butter on the side... yes you might actually want even more on this delicious, soft on the inside bread.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


The first time I had delicata was last year at Vee Vee in Jamaica Plain. It was stuffed with beans, wild rice, veggies and topped with grated cheese, then baked. I polished off the whole thing, amazed at how the sum of the ingredients tasted so much more than the parts. (Its trite, but very true.)
The great thing about delicata is that the skin and seeds are edible as well; I lovingly referred to it as an edible food boat. The seeds add a great textural contrasts, and preparing this gourd is a lot faster because you don't have to fight to get the seeds out.

The flavor is similar to an acorn squash, but a little softer in texture. The skin is thin and modeled with yellows, oranges and greens. I cut it in half, sprinkled it with  salt and a little oil and baked it... ok over baked it. But it was still delicious!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Unearthing the history of celiac disease - 1 AD!

The ANSA article "Ancient Roman gluten death seen" published yesterday highlights a theory that a young woman in the first century a.d. died from celiac disease. (I am going with theory here, because nothing has been published with any findings yet, specifically I will be stoked to see the genetic testing!)

I don't know why I am so excited by this... but I am!