GF Pizza Foray

My general rule for cooking gluten-free is to seek out recipes that were never intended for wheat or other gluten-containing grains. For example, I love Asian recipes that feature rice, or Mexican recipes with corn tortillas. However, there are some traditionally wheat-based dishes that are just too much a part of our culture for me to ignore them — like chocolate chip cookies — so I make them with an “alternative flour,” as my dad calls it. You can use the classic chocolate chip cookie recipe very nicely with amaranth flour instead (plus two teaspoons of xanthan gum), for example.

Now, the pizza: I am not a gluten-free pro, because GF is not a necessity in our house, but more of a lifestyle choice. Therefore, making GF pizza crust is somewhat hit-and-miss for me, and has included the panicked addition of lots of extra flour — not exactly a relaxing evening in the kitchen. Imagine my happiness at finding a tasty GF pizza crust in the freezer case at Giant! I forget the brand, but based on the ingredients, the maker appears to have used a variant of this recipe. Whipping up a tasty pizza was pretty easy, with the crust already made.

First, pre-heated the oven to 375 degrees. Then I pan-fried some bacon and set it on a paper towel to dry. We get our pastured bacon from Stryker Farms, via Pure Sprouts organic delivery. I am incredibly happy with their quality, selection, and service. We get most of our groceries via Pure Sprouts. If you’re in eastern Pennsylvania (Northampton County and the surrounding area), check them out!

Next, I put the crust on a pizza stone, and poured half a bottle of strained tomatoes on top. After smoothing out the tomato sauce, I covered the pizza with three cheeses I had grated: Kerrygold Vintage Dubliner, Parmesano Reggiano (the real deal, from Italy, via Wegmans), and Jarlsberg. Then I sliced up a couple of onions, separated the rings, and spread them over the cheese. Finally, I topped it all with the pieces of bacon and put it in the oven for 12 minutes. Amazingly tasty. I could have eaten the whole thing, but my husband and our daughter wanted some, too 😉

Chicky-pum-pum Dumplings

My not-quite-six-year-old daughter made up the name. I can’t explain it. You will like this dish, though!

To make the chicky-pum-pum:

Cut one pound of chicken breasts into tiny pieces (smaller than bite-sized — you’re going to use these to stuff the dumplings, so make them about one centimeter by one centimeter by one centimeter) and toss them into a skillet with sesame oil over medium heat. As you add the chicken, keep scraping / stirring with a fork. When the chicken is completely cooked, add a nice shake of tamari. Then shred some carrots into the skillet with a vegetable peeler. Shake ginger, minced onion, salt, and pepper over the whole thing, and stir it all together until it’s well mixed. Turn off the heat and cover the skillet to keep it all warm while you make the wrappers.

To make the dumplings: In a large bowl, mix one cup of gluten-free baking mix, one cup of tapioca starch, and two teaspoons of xanthan gum with a fork. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and 3/4 cup of water, and stir some more. Knead the dough with your hands until it coheres into a ball. It should not be too squishy or too wet — if it is, add a bit more flour. Pull off small handfuls of the dough, one at a time, and flatten them into pancakes. You’ll want to make them as flat as possible without tearing them. Spoon a bit of chicky-pum-pum onto each pancake, pull up the sides, and pinch the sides closed along the top and down to each end. You should be able to make 12 to 14 dumplings from your dough. Now it’s time to fry them; feel free to use the skillet in which you cooked the chicky-pum-pum. Pour enough sesame oil into the skillet to cover the bottom. Set the dumplings into the skillet — you may need to do this in two batches — and cook them over medium heat until the bottoms brown. Then add 1/2 cup of water EXTREMELY CAREFULLY (because pouring water into hot oil can cause nasty splatters, which can burn) and cover the skillet. Cook the dumplings for another five to ten minutes, at which point they will be cooked all the way through, but not burned. Use a spatula to remove them from the skillet to a paper towel-lined plate. Enjoy!

My daughter made this recipe up yesterday — well, I had to do a bit of dumpling-making research on my own — and I tried it this evening with a side of steamed broccoli. All three of us were pleasantly surprised by how well it turned out. I think I’ll let her develop the recipes from now on! 🙂

One note: when you’re cutting the chicken, it really helps to have this awesome knife (or one like it).

Simmered Burgers

Periodically, I think about things like “am I creating too much acrylamide by preparing this item this way?” and I decide to try a different way to cook a familiar meal.

I am not a doctor or a scientist, but I think I recall reading that some methods of food preparation cause greater acrylamide formation than others. For example, boiling potatoes for 15 minutes and then mashing them is a lower-acrylamide cooking method than roasting the potatoes at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.

For that reason … and also because I was looking for a more tender burger … and also because I had some pureed tomatoes to get rid of … I decided to slow-simmer the burgers for dinner tonight instead of frying them. Here’s what I did:

Pour 1/2 bottle of strained tomatoes into a skillet. Add some salt, pepper, and shredded fresh basil leaves, and stir it all together over a very low heat. Form 1 pound of ground beef into patties, put them into the skillet, and cover it. Keep the heat very low. After about half an hour, remove the cover, flip the burgers (carefully — an apron is a must), and re-cover the skillet. After another 30 minutes, they should be ready to eat (but be sure to test them with a meat thermometer if you’re not sure). Delightful! Add a mustard-and-mayo topping if you like, or enjoy them as they are.