Tag Archives: Gluten-free

Chef James Harris Spotlights Gluten Free Cuisine at Eggshells (with Recipe for Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free Chocolate Cupcakes)

26 Aug

Frosted cupcakes captionedRemember the other day when I talked about doing a cooking demonstration at the local Gluten Intolerance Group meeting? Because it was a busy day, I felt a little discombobulated and spazzy. Not my best presentation ever. 

But a good bit of my discombobulation was from being a bit nervous, due to a guest who showed up at said meeting. A chef. A “real” chef, one with years of experience specializing in gluten free cooking. (Although I have formal training, I shy away from the “chef” moniker because of my lack of restaurant experience.) 

He was gracious, not correcting me when he probably should have, and chiming in gently when I asked for his input. Only later did we find out he was Executive Sous Chef at the Pleasant Valley Country Club and former chef of the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness.

Dang. 

After the meeting, we also learned that this chef, James Harris, was holding a gluten free cooking class of his own at Eggshells Kitchen Co. the next Monday (yesterday). I had heard about this and meant to look into it further. Now I HAD to go!

I walked in the door of Eggshells, and lo and behold, a fellow culinary student was also in attendance. Ashley is now a pastry chef, working at one of the major bakeries in town. I visited with Chef Harris, joking about our earlier meeting and my less-than-stellar demo. He graciously blamed it on the low table I was using.

Somehow, during Chef Harris’ demonstration, I ended up cooking the risotto while he worked on other parts of the demonstration. Maybe it was me wildly waving my hand in the air, saying, “Ooh, ooh, ooh, let me help!” when he lamented not having an assistant. Ashley ended up helping later on — probably due to my hollering “ASHLEY WANTS TO HELP ICE THE CUPCAKES” — with the vegan, sugar free, gluten free dessert we enjoyed. (No, really; it was good!) Culinarians can be a rowdy bunch. 

Chef Harris’ risotto recipe, using shallots, mushrooms and asparagus, was an excellent example of how delicious naturally gluten-free meals can be. He also demonstrated cooking scallops and (cough) gave us a recipe for gluten-free pasta. Let’s just say live demos don’t always work out. Oh, how I know. 

Here’s the recipe for the cupcakes. This would be great for getting a “sweet fix” while on an elimination diet, or for those with multiple allergies or sensitivities. Heck, they were just good, just because. And I didn’t sugar crash after eating one. Okay, two. Sheesh.

Wanna see photos of the other food and fun? Keep scrollin’ on down, beneath the recipes. 

*************

Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten Free, Vegan, Sugar Free)
Recipe provided by Chef James Harris
Makes 10

  • 1 1/2 c. gluten-free flour (recommended: Cup 4 Cup)
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. gluten-free baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 c. maple syrup (pure)
  • 1/3 c. coconut oil
  • 1 c. almond milk
  • 1/3 c. coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. gluten-free vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in a muffin pan. 

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Puree avocado in a food processor until smooth. Add maple syrup, almond milk, coconut milk, oil and vanilla and blend until creamy.

Whisk avocado mixture into the flour mixture and combine until smooth. 

Spoon batter into muffin pan and bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick that is inserted into center comes out clean.

Allow to cool before icing. 

 

Chocolate Mousse Icing
Recipe provided by Chef James Harris
Icing for 10 cupcakes

  • 1 c. raw cashews
  • 1/4 c. coconut milk
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c. dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 T. maple syrup (pure)

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend together until very smooth. If it is too thick, add more coconut milk to thin it slightly. 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

About these ads

Gluten Free Chicken Pot Pie Class at PTC March 22

14 Feb
gluten free chicken pot pie

Amazeballs gluten free chicken pot pie, if I do say so myself. Learn to make your own at my class!

I had a lot to do last night.

Pinterest-y Valentines for the Kindergartener’s friends. A not-so-Pinterest-y Beyblade Valentine mailbox for same Kindergartener. Spray-painting elements for said box outside. Realizing that wasn’t going to work and going out for red plastic plates. Baths. Homework. All that momma stuff.

For some unknown reason, I decided it would be a dandy night to make chicken pot pie from scratch. Well, sorta from scratch; my mom brought a rotisserie chicken over at lunch, and the leftovers pretty much demanded to be pot pie. They told me so.

It’s just as well, since I’m teaching a class next month at Pulaski Technical College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute on this very dish. Why not practice a few times? Yum.

The whole pot pie. In class, we'll probably make individual-sized ones. Equally delicious.

The whole pot pie. In class, we’ll probably make individual-sized ones. Equally delicious.

Last night’s version used (gasp) frozen veggies, just because it’s what I had and I forgot to go to Kroger. Sue me. (In class, we’ll bust out our real knife skills on real-life veggies. Because you need the practice.) Well, I did dice a real onion and some garlic, so there’s that.

Want to make your own? Of course you do. This dish was amazing, even with cheater ingredients. We’ll go over how to mix your own gluten-free all-purpose flour (and save a ton of cash) in our class. I’ll teach you how to make flaky pie crust that nobody will know is gluten-free, even your picky gluten-eating family. And we’ll package them up to freeze and bake whenever the pot pie siren calls. (Or, you can bring it home for dinner that night.)

The class is $75 for four hours of instruction and lots of tomfoolery. But productive tomfoolery. Let’s just say we’ll have fun.

Sign up for this class by calling (501) 907-6670, ext. 3407 or emailing Emily Story, Director of Community Education at PTC. See you there!

Gluten Free Pot Pie Class
Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
Community Kitchen
Saturday, March 22, 2014
12:30 – 4:30 p.m.
$75 per person

Panic and Gluten Free Turkey Potstickers

10 Feb
My glorious plate of too-few GF turkey potstickers.

My glorious plate of too-few GF turkey potstickers.

Most of the time, I don’t really mind being gluten-free.

I’ve gotten used to GF bread (don’t eat much anyways). I’m better off skipping the cupcakes and such at the bakery anyways (with a notable exception). But there are two siren calls that still wail to me: doughnuts and Asian dumplings.

Not much I can do about the doughnuts right now, but I saw a post recently on Brokea** Gourmet that rekindled my hankering for potstickers, the close cousin of traditional steamed dumplings.

I’d found myself on the aforementioned site because I’m bootstrapping a new spinoff business, one that you’ll hear all about very soon. Things are going well, but the fancy food budget has been, well, constrained. The recipe fit right in, using small amounts of inexpensive ground pork or turkey and some other bits that I mostly happened to have around.

I probably would have rather used pork, although I usually don’t eat much of the stuff, but my local Kroger didn’t have any ground pork on hand. I picked up the turkey instead, remembering that the recipe said it would be fine with the addition of an egg yolk for added moisture.

It took me a while to find the rice paper, but when I did, I realized what a great deal it was. For a little over $2, I had like a bazillion wrappers for my little packets of Asian awesome. I couldn’t wait.

I made the mistake of coming home to cook dinner right after a major shopping trip. Hungry. Panicked. Must. Have. Dumplings. NOOWWWW.

In a move of total desperation, I put the husband on rice duty. Just cook some white rice, sauté the veggies and throw them together, I said. He looked at me like I was speaking Korean. “You did cook before we got married, right?” More blank stare. He ended up doing pretty well, despite charring the zucchini a bit — the daughter asked how I made it because it was so good. Heh.

Meanwhile, I got after the cumbersome task of the dumplings. The filling was easy enough, if you’re comfy with your knife skills; just some mincing and a quick stir. The wrappers, however, were a little more tricky.

In this recipe, you wet two large pieces of rice paper and stick them together, then cut smaller circles out of that using a cup or small bowl as a guide. A little cumbersome and time-consuming, but I got one sheet done, resulting in four small circles. Yay! Oh wait…I want to make more than four dumplings. Fill those, struggle with sticky edges, smoosh closed however they’ll smoosh. Repeat. Cook those, and repeat again.

Since you really can’t cook more than eight at a time anyways, the process was very staggered. After the second batch of eight, I was done. I could have eaten twenty more of them, but I was tired of it. And hungry. Darned shopping!

Everything said, these were delicious. If I do it again (and I probably will), I’ll start early, when I’m NOT HUNGRY, and make a bazillion dumplings all at once. To do this, I’ll have to keep them on a non-stick surface, maybe a Silpat or wax paper, covered with a wet towel to keep the wet rice paper from drying out and getting crunchy. Doable.

Also, I think I’ll fry them a bit more on each side before the steaming step. The linked recipe didn’t suggest this, but the rice paper did often taste a bit gummy on the side that didn’t meet the pan directly. A bit of oil and a little flip before steaming wouldn’t kill anyone.

Now that this subject is broached, maybe I’ll try a more authentic pastry-style dumpling next time, like this one by Gluten Free on a Shoestring. Or, I’ll just make a bazillion of the rice paper ones.

Either way, honey, you’re on rice and veggie duty. Fair warning.

Divinely Inspired Tamari Noodles with Kale and Roasted Tomatoes

30 Sep

Noodles pinWell, divinely inspired might be a stretch, but…

My fellow church folk will know what I’m talking about. You know that last five minutes or so of service, when you’re trying really hard to pay attention and hear the last announcements and sing the last song, but your brain just goes LUNCH LUNCH LUNCH?

I kinda went there yesterday.

The noodles awaiting the chicken on the plate.

The noodles awaiting the chicken on the plate.

Here I was, sitting in the choir loft, truly paying attention but also brainstorming what I’d make once I got home. I must be a tad nutrient-deprived, because I was craving kale like a mad woman. Mmmmm, kale…

Before the last note, I had created this very dish in my head.

Just to make it more appealing to my carnivorous husband (and to continue to play with my new OptiGrill), I grilled some plain chicken breasts with it. Well, loaded with olive oil and kosher salt and freshly ground pepper that my husband did for me because I had one raw-chicken-hand and the pepper grinder is a two-handed operation. But still.

Chicken breasts on the OptiGrill. Delish, but I think I'll take them off a tad earlier next time.

Chicken breasts on the OptiGrill. Delish, but I think I’ll take them off a tad earlier next time.

You should make this. Really. Even if you’re not gluten-free.

If you want, you could use soba or buckwheat noodles, or even plain old fettuccine.

Tamari noodles and kale and a gratuitous slab of chicken.

Tamari noodles and kale and a gratuitous slab of chicken.

*************************

Divinely Inspired Tamari Noodles with Kale and Roasted Tomatoes
Serves 4-6

  • 4 oz. glass noodles (often labeled Pad Thai, rice stick or rice noodles)
  • 1 T. gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 head kale, greens stripped from stalks and torn into bite size pieces, washed
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. vegetable or chicken broth
  • 8 oz. grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted sesame seeds or crushed chia or flax seeds (optional, which means I ran out of time)

Turn on your oven to broil (500 degrees or so, a slower broil, if it gives you the option) so it’s ready for the tomatoes later.

Boil the noodles in salted water until al dente just as you would with regular pasta. (You may have to break them up a bit before putting them in the pan…do this inside a plastic bag to avoid shooting shards everywhere!) Drain and immediately place in a bowl or back in the pot and toss with tamari/soy while still hot. Cover the container while you work on other stuff.

In a large, high-sided sauté pan, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and heat until the garlic is fragrant, no more than a minute or so. Add the kale pieces right on top of the garlic. Don’t worry about drying the kale; the water will help wilt it with steam. And also don’t freak out if it towers higher than your pan; it will cook down quickly. Stir and turn the greens occasionally to help them cook evenly and to move the garlic around so it won’t burn.

When the kale is wilted but not completely soft and turns a bright green (or sooner if the garlic starts to burn), add the broth and stir a bit. Add the vinegar and nutmeg, plus a sprinkle of kosher salt to soften things up, stir again, cover the pan. Turn down the heat to low.

On a sheet pan, toss the halved tomatoes with the remaining olive oil, along with a good sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place in the broiler for 5-10 minutes, depending on your oven and the rack’s proximity to the element. Just keep an eye on it, will ya?

Use this 5-10 minutes to deal with other parts of the meal (such as the chicken), get your kids off their butts to prepare their own drinks, or generally look busy in the kitchen until it’s time to plate this up.

When the tomatoes are slightly browned, blistered and awesome, remove from the oven.

Place the tamari noodles right into the pan with the kale, which should be gloriously wilted by now. Add a bit more broth to loosen up the noodles if they stick together. Turn the heat back up a bit, toss the stuff together. Add the tomatoes. Taste. Season as needed.

Put it on the plate, sprinkle on the seeds if you had more time to deal than I did, and feel like a bohemian kale-eating rock star. Or hungry choir girl.

Either way.

Fancy Pants Foodie Does Disney, Part One: The Disney Way

30 Jun
Amazing, totally gluten-free sushi from Tokyo Dining in Epcot's Japan, complete with GF soy sauce.

Amazing, totally gluten-free sushi from Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s Japan, complete with GF soy sauce.

I started out on our recent family trip to Disney World with a little bit of trepidation.

I’ve been able to almost completely eliminate the less-than-lovely symptoms that come with my gluten intolerance by cooking most everything myself, so travel can be sketchy at best. I’ll go over the getting-there parts another time (basically, bring food with you and know what restaurants are safe[r than others]).

But oh my holy goodness, let me tell you this: If you have an allergy, sensitivity or other food-related issue, Disney has you covered. I’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s a gold standard that has changed my view of foodservice completely.

For the unwashed, there are two types of foodservice on Disney property, counter service and table service. As outlined here on Disney’s own site, many counter service operations offer gluten-free options, and nearly every table service restaurant can take care of you in above-and-beyond fashion.

In either style establishment, mention “gluten-free” or “allergy” and they immediately summon a manager or chef, who reviews your options with you. And unlike the typical real-world restaurant, they seem genuinely happy to do so, taking plenty of time to ask and answer questions.

After one such conversation with the manager at Tokyo Dining in Epcot’s Japan, I told him I was amazed at the level of service offered to those with special dietary needs. He said it was simply part of the way they did things, and it freed him up to make people happy. He added that if he went on to another restaurant on the “outside,” he would carry that attitude with him.

It’s not just about allergies and such, either. Any question, comment, side-eye, request for directions to the nearest ice cream/restroom/roller coaster is met with enthusiasm and grace by every single Disney employee, or “cast member,” as they are called. In Epcot, this is particularly amazing because Disney trainers must deal with all the customs of their cast from all over this planet. Y’all, EVERY FOR-REAL FRENCH PERSON in “France” was endearing and affable. That’s Disney magic right there.

Is the customer always right? Of course not. But, in a hospitality situation, we can always make them feel awesome for being with us. In a nutshell, that’s what I learned.

I’ll outline my own experiences in a couple more posts, so stay tuned.

Tacos with Heirloom Tomato Beef, Coriander Rice and Avocado

14 May
Finished tacos, poorly lit, shortly before rapid consumption.

Finished tacos, poorly lit, shortly before rapid consumption.

Sometimes the vague idea of dinner presents itself, without a clear inclination of what it wants to be when it grows up. I like those times, because it usually ends up like an episode of Chopped.

Tonight, I wanted something sort of Mexican, but not spicy Tex-Mex. Strict adherence to cultural accuracy not required.

The basket: An avocado. An heirloom tomato. A large package of corn tortillas. A pound of ground beef.

Go.

**********

Appetizer:

The baked tortilla chips were dusted with kosher salt and a tiny sprinkling of garlic powder and pepper.

The baked tortilla chips were dusted with kosher salt and a tiny sprinkling of garlic powder and pepper.

Baked tortilla chips from the Cooking Matters workbook.

When I have taught this class in the evenings, we started one of the sessions with these chips and a bean dip that was also listed in the workbook.

Tonight, I had intended to make guacamole but only had the one avocado. Kept simple, that little green orb could reach higher levels of greatness in the main course.

For the chips, store-bought salsa it was.

Want to make some of these chips? No recipe to it, really. Just cut some tortillas (corn or flour if not GF) into triangles. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the triangles on the tray. Spray the tops of the triangles and sprinkle with salt — not too much! — and any other seasonings you might like to use. Bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until just turning brown here and there. Let sit for a few minutes before eating to let them crisp up.

**********

Main course:

I couldn’t really figure out what to call this, so I just added ingredient names together until it sounded as delicious as it was. How about Tacos with Heirloom Tomato Beef, Coriander Rice and Avocado? Sure, sounds good.

And be sure to capitalize all the words; that makes it even better.

**********

Tacos with Heirloom Tomato Beef, Coriander Rice and Avocado
Serves 4

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Pure lard (non-hydrogenated) or cooking spray

For the rice:

  • 1 c. brown rice
  • 2 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 4 T. chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley

For the beef:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 c. tomato sauce
  • 3/4 of a large heirloom tomato, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch

For garnish:

  • One firm avocado
  • One lime
  • 1/4 of the heirloom tomato, sliced
  • More cilantro or parsley (opt.)

In a medium pot, combine all ingredients for the rice except the fresh cilantro or parsley. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Brown rice takes about an hour to cook, so start this first. When the rice is done (probably after you’ve completed the other steps), fluff with a fork and fold in the fresh herb. Cover and keep warm.

Over high heat in a heavy-bottom skilled or pot (I used a Dutch oven), brown the ground beef. Add the garlic when the beef is almost done. When the beef is cooked through and the garlic is fragrant, drain fat and return to medium heat. Add the tomato sauce and cook until slightly darkened. Stir in the diced heirloom tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in the cumin, chili powder and salt.

Place the cornstarch in a small bowl or mug and add a couple tablespoons of cold water. Add an ice cube if it’s not very cold. Stir a bit until dissolved, remove the ice cube and pour the slurry into the beef mixture. Stir over heat until thickened. Cover and keep warm.

Using a sharp knife, cut the avocado lengthwise in half, cutting around the large seed in the middle. Using a butter knife, cut slices completely through each half with the skin still intact. With a large spoon, lift the slices out into a bowl. Repeat with the other half. Squeeze the juice of half the lime onto the slices and toss.

In a heavy cast iron skillet or griddle, heat a very small amount of lard until melted and hot, or spray with cooking spray. Heat corn tortillas (one at a time in the skillet; more if using a griddle and its size allows) until small brown spots appear. Flip and cook on the other side.

When the tortillas are ready, you can assemble the tacos. Spoon a bit of the meat mixture and then the rice into each taco. Top with an avocado slice and a slice of tomato. Squeeze a bit of lime juice on top or serve with lime wedges. If you like, garnish with more cilantro or parsley.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ERR NRR TERNADERS (I mean, gluten-free sugar cookies)

10 Apr
Gluten free sugar cookie I made in the midst of the oncoming storm. Bring it on.

Gluten free sugar cookie I made in the midst of the oncoming storm. Bring it on.

It’s about to throw down a storm tonight, or so they say.

Sure, in the back of my mind, I’m worried about it. I’m not a fan of weather when it’s outside of 80-90, still and sunny. But I also spent a good bit of the late afternoon working on some gluten-free sugar cookies with the boy, and they are darn tasty.

I used Alton Brown’s recipe (swapping GF flour for AP, of course), but from his book, not online. The online one will work fine, but know that the book has weight measures, if you’re more into that.

My favorite GF flour is Cup 4 Cup, but it’s rather expensive, and I’m out. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette recently ran a recipe to replicate it, reportedly “slightly adapted” (meaning they swiped it) from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. I had potato flakes rather than potato starch, and knowing it wasn’t the same thing, I tried it anyway. It was DELISH.

Mix, bake, outline, flood, hide in closet.

Mix, bake, outline, flood, hide in closet.

It was the first time I did the outline-and-flood technique, and for a newbie, it wasn’t half bad. It may be my imagination, but my royal icing seems to smell a little eggy from my stovetop pasteurization process. So, don’t do that; just use pasteurized eggs or boxed egg whites.

I’m pretty sure they’ll still eat. At least, I think so, after eating three or four of them.

This went to my head just a little.

This went to my head just a little.

Hunker down and carry on.

************************

Gluten-Free Faked-Out Cup 4 Cup
(slightly adapted from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s slightly-adapted-from Gluten Free on a Shoestring recipe)
(this is rather tongue-in-cheek if you’re not catching on)
(don’t copy recipes, okay? okay, just this once…)

  • 60 g. milk powder, buzzed in a food processor until fine
  • 180 g. white rice flour
  • 145 g. cornstarch
  • 85 g. tapioca starch
  • 80 g. brown rice flour
  • 20 g. potato flakes, buzzed in a food processor (original recipe is potato flour, same amount)
  • 10 g. xanthan gum

Mix all the ingredients with a wire whisk and store in an airtight container. Makes just over 4 cups or so.

Standby for super-cute overshare kid photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My Favorite Pasta Salad

28 Mar
Hearts of Palm Sunday Pasta Salad, also featuring artichoke hearts and roasted bell pepper.

Hearts of Palm Sunday Pasta Salad, also featuring artichoke hearts and roasted bell pepper.

First a side note: Sorry to spam y’all with two Food Blogger Bake Sale posts in a row, especially email subscribers. I had tried to make that second one a private one for media use, and I couldn’t make it work that way. Anywho, share it with your favorite media/internal comm person!

My personal Facebook friends got a chuckle (or eye roll) at this photo I posted on Facebook earlier this week, Hearts of Palm Sunday Pasta Salad.

I know, hardy har.

I just love pasta salad, and I thought I’d be clever and add hearts of palm for Palm Sunday. Problem is, I’m the only one in the house who will eat those, or the artichoke hearts that were also included. I’m enjoying it for lunch all week.

While this dish was a little silly, it’s a spin on my family-friendlier pasta salad that I make pretty often. These days I have to use gluten-free pasta, and the only one for the job is Le Veneziane penne. (You can order it from Amazon, not me, at the link.) It’s made of corn, as are many gluten-free pastas. But the difference is an emulsifier made of flax seeds, which adds stability and texture that most GF pasta lacks.

Besides, it’s made in Italy, where there is a surprisingly high incidence of celiac disease. You think they’re gonna mess around with crappy pasta, gluten free or otherwise? I think not.

Anyway, here’s the basic recipe. It can be used with or without gluten-free pasta or hearts of palm. ;) It could be a nice, light addition to your Easter table this Sunday!

*************************

Fancy Pants Pasta Salad
Serves 6

  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • 1/4 c. roasted red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 c. olives, any type, sliced or halved
  • 1/4 c. Italian or Caesar dressing of your choice, or homemade
  • 1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan or similar hard Italian cheese
  • 1 tsp. dry basil
  • 1 tsp. dry parsley
  • 1-14 oz. can marinated artichoke hearts, quartered (opt.)
  • 1-14 oz. can hearts of palm, sliced if whole (opt.)
  • 8 oz. cooked chicken pieces (opt.)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse well with cool water to stop the cooking process, but do not completely chill the pasta.

Gently fold all ingredients except the salt and pepper together. The warm pasta will absorb some of the dressing. If you’re not serving it immediately, put it in the fridge for a little while. (It’s fine to serve warm, too.) When you’re ready to eat, test and re-season with salt and pepper to taste.

Adventures in Grilled Cheese: Avocado with Roasted Bell Pepper

24 Mar
You can come over and have one, but the mood lighting costs extra.

You can come over and have one, but the mood lighting costs extra.

Grilled cheese sandwiches are one of the simple pleasures of life; this we know. Gluten free-ness adds a slight degree of difficulty, but only in convenience.

Being gluten-free for over a year now, I eat a lot fewer bread products, just because of the hassle of keeping GF bread around. But I do occasionally indulge in a loaf from Dempsey Bakery, or more recently (to avoid sweet temptation during Lent), a frozen yet delicious loaf from Rudi’s.

Recently, I threw together this beauty. I made the usual grilled cheese, using real butter in a cast iron skillet. But, in addition to some nice slices of cheddar, I threw in some roasted red bell pepper slices (Mezzetta is my favorite if I’m not making them myself) and — hold your breath — avocado slices.

In a word: Yum.

I wasn’t sure if I’d like the avocado, but it added a sweet/savory creaminess that was lovely. You should give this a try, what with all the fresh avocados available right now.

In an effort to blog more often and return to my roots of blogging meals, I’ll be sharing little things like this more often. If you see something I’ve posted on Facebook and want to see more, just let me know.

Scary Recipe: Savory Apple Pie with Pork, Gluten-Free Cheddar Crust

25 Oct Looks okay, except the brown, thick pork filling. The recipe as written here (with less flour) may prevent this, as would a full pastry top.

This goes down as one of the weirdest things I’ve ever made.

So, appropriate for Halloween? Maybe?

It started as my annual “this is what I’m gonna make for the Wildwood Park Harvest Fest culinary competition,” which also becomes the annual “I’m too exhausted to enter the event, so I’ll just make the dish I had planned at home, a week or two later.” This year’s Harvest Fest ingredient was apples, and by golly, I wasn’t going to make just any old sweet dessert-type-thing.

After a few ideas of my own followed up with a bit of research, here’s what I ended up with. The hubs and big kid dug in, but neither were enthusiastic about finishing. It was a little too weird: Not sweet enough, not savory enough… something.

But when said pie sat in the fridge overnight, something magical happened. The flavors melded. The texture improved. While I’ll still tweak a few things next time, this is now a pie worth eating. I think.

The recipe below includes a few of those added tweaks, such as a glaze and a little more seasoning.

I’m still not sure if it’s a winner, but it’s definitely worth a shot, if you’re brave. I actually like it.

Just keep it in the fridge overnight, will ya?

**************************

Savory Apple Pie with Pork and Gluten-Free Cheddar Crust
Serves 6-8

Crust:

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 c. cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2-3 T. cold water
  • Extra GF flour for dusting your work surface

Filling:

  • 1 lb. pork loin (I used breakfast chops that were on sale), small dice
  • 1 tsp. veg. oil
  • 1/2 c. yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. apple cider
  • 1 tsp. dried sage (1 1/2 tsp. if using fresh)
  • 4 whole allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 T. gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples
  • 3 medium Gala apples
  • 2 T. sugar (plain, but Turbinado [raw sugar] would be nice)

Glaze:

  • 1/2 c. apple cider

The crust can be made with regular, all-purpose flour if nobody in your family requires gluten-free. I tried a new GF blend, Gluten Free Pantry, with good results.

Mix the flour and salt in a medium bowl, then stir in the cheese until thoroughly combined. Cut the butter into the mixture with a pastry cutter until you get a sandy-looking mixture. Sprinkle in the water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing with your hand until the dough just holds together. You may not need all the water.

Press half the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate, working up the sides. (If you absolutely must roll it out old-school, be my guest, but this recipe works fine pressed in.) On a floured surface, roll the remainder into a disc to cover the entire top, or a flat piece for cutting out shapes. (I did this on a small flexible cutting mat that could be easily moved to the fridge.) Place both the pie plate and top into the fridge for now.

Place your diced pork loin and oil into a hot pot (I used my Dutch oven, but anything largish will work) and stir a couple minutes to sear. Turn down the heat to medium and add the yellow onion and salt. Cook another couple minutes to soften the onions, stirring occasionally.

Add the cup of apple cider, sage, whole allspice and bay leaf, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat and cover. Cook this over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pork is tender. Remove the allspice and the bay leaf.

In a small bowl, mix the 3 T. flour and milk until well combined. Watch for lumps! (The pie pictured used a 1/4 c. flour and less milk and was way too thick.) Stir this slurry slowly (say that five times fast) into the pork mixture and simmer, stirring, until it’s just thickened up.

Peel and slice the apples very thinly. I used a Pampered Chef apple corer/slicer/peeler (I know, chefs, don’t judge me!) with good results. If you go this route, cut your resulting spirals at least in half, maybe quarters so they’ll come apart. Sprinkle with lemon juice or Fruit Fresh if you do this a bit ahead. I did this while the pork was simmering in the cider.

Remove the pie plate with bottom crust from the fridge. Place half the pork mixture in the crust. On top of that, place all the apples, sprinkling with sugar as you go to evenly distribute it. And over the apples, place the last of the pork mixture, spreading it evenly across the top.

Place the remaining crust over the top and shape as desired, with vents or designs, or cut several shapes to place over the top.

While the pie is in the oven, reduce the 1/2 c. apple cider in a small saucepan until just thickened, and cool slightly.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes. When there are 10 minutes left, remove the pie from the oven, brush on the cider glaze using a pastry brush, and return to the oven for the final 10 minutes or until the crust is finished and browned.

Chills and reheats well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 204 other followers