Fire up the Grill!!

Here we are on the eve of Mothers’ Day, and appropriately, my husband did the majority of the work for tonight’s dinner 🙂

I have to thank Griffin’s Grub for the inspiration for tonight’s meal. He recently had a post about grilling fish on the Big Green Egg, and he recommended a stamped grilling tray. I promptly ordered this one for my husband’s early May birthday, and we tried it out tonight.

First, we put a Salt Rox tile (a birthday gift from one of my closest friends) on the grill, turned it on, and let it get to 700 degrees. Then we spread some olive oil on it and put four burgers on top. Roughly 25 minutes later, the burgers were done, and mmmmm! so delicious.

We also tossed some cut-up carrots and broccoli with olive oil and salt, placed them on the Weber grilling tray, and put the tray on the grill for about 15 minutes. I have never enjoyed vegetables so much. Unbelievable.

Now that we know how easy it is to use the grilling tray and the Salt Rox tile, we’ll be using them for fish, chicken, and all sorts of delights for the rest of the spring and summer. And maybe fall. And maybe winter, too 😉

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.

Warm Chicken Salad

Tomorrow, I’ll be eating next to nothing, but tonight, my daughter made up a great Holy Thursday dinner recipe, which worked out very well. Here goes:

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Put half a stick of butter (4 oz) into a skillet and turn the burner on low. Cut 1.5 pounds of chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and add them to the skillet. Cook them until they’re done. (I like to slice a few in half to be sure no pink is left, but you can also scoop one out of the pan and use a meat thermometer.) Add one package of frozen corn and 1 to 2 cups of water. Stir it all together, cover the skillet, and cook until the corn is done (roughly 5 minutes more). Then add 1 cup of fresh peas, cleaned and rinsed. Stir again and cook for 5 more minutes. With a slotted spoon, scoop the contents of the skillet into an oven-proof bowl and put the bowl in the oven to keep warm.

Pour 1 cup of sauvignon blanc into the skillet, stir it all together, and increase the burner to bring the liquid to a boil. Let it boil for several minutes, whisking steadily until it thickens. Pour the thickened sauce into a gravy boat and serve it alongside your bowl of warm chicken salad. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are not casein-free, dairy-free, or vegan, but they are gluten-free.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Soften 16 ounces (two sticks, usually) of grass-fed butter. (I like Organic Valley, Natural by Nature, and Kerrygold). In an electric mixer, cream the butter and 1.5 cups of organic sucanat. Beat in two eggs.

In a separate bowl, sift together 2.25 cups of organic amaranth flour (I LOVE Bob’s Red Mill), 1 teaspoon of baking soda (Bob’s again), and 2 teaspoons of xanthan gum (again, Bob’s). Add these sifted dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix it all together until it’s completely combined. Turn the mixer down to a very low speed and empty in a bag of SunSpire organic chocolate chips. (You can also do this last step by hand, with a large spoon.)

Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of batter onto a cookie sheet. (I like to line the cookie sheet with parchment paper, because aluminum is fairly food-reactive.) Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, but make sure they look done before you take them out of the oven. Remove them from the cookie sheet and let them cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Asian Chicken

This recipe is an extremely modified version of Peking Duck. It’s simple to make and quite tasty.

In a six-cup Pyrex dish, mix 1/4 cup sesame oil, 1/4 cup tamari, and 1/3 cup honey with a whisk (or a “whisky,” as my daughter says) until completely blended.

Cut two pounds of chicken breast into strips; place the strips into the Pyrex dish. Stir with a spoon to ensure that each piece of chicken is coated with the sauce. Put the lid on the Pyrex dish and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for two hours.

When the chicken has been marinated for two hours, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add a large splash of sesame oil and heat for about a minute, then add the chicken strips to the skillet and fry them (in batches, if necessary). Discard the marinade.

When the chicken is cooked, serve it with rice, noodles, or any side dish that suits your fancy.

White Pizza

This is a nice dinner for a cold winter evening. It doesn’t take too long to make it, and you don’t have to have a lot of ingredients on hand. I used a pizza stone, but you can bake it on a circular pizza tray if you choose.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Start with Garvey’s organic Irish brown bread mix (or your own recipe for a soda bread). Mix half of the package (1/2 pound, roughly) with 3/4 cup of plain whole milk yogurt, knead it for a bit, then place it on your pizza stone and spread it out a bit so it is the size and shape that you want your pizza to be. Set it aside.

Take 1/2 pound of sliced bacon, cut each slice in half, and saute the bacon in a frying pan in just a tiny bit of olive oil (medium-high heat) until it is just done. While the bacon is cooking, slice two onions extremely thin; when the bacon is done, add the onions to the pan with a hearty shake of all-purpose seasoning. Cook it all together over medium heat, stirring periodically with a fork, until the onions get slightly soft; then turn off the heat and use a fork or a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and onions from the pan to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

With a fork, mix together one egg yolk, 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese (or soft farmer’s / Georgic cheese), and 1/4 cup of plain whole milk yogurt. Spread it on the pizza dough, then cover it with slices of cave-aged Gruyere, then cover that with fresh basil leaves, then top it all with the bacon and onion mixture. Put the whole thing into the oven for 25 minutes. Be extremely careful when you take it out, as it will be tremendously hot Slice it up with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

Happy Hanukkah!

It’s the second night of the festival of lights, and I wanted to share my latke recipe. It’s good for one meal plus leftovers for three people (at least, when one of the people is yours truly). It’s also gluten-free and dairy-free. (You can make it corn-free if you substitute tapioca powder for the cornstarch.)

Peel and shred three large or four medium potatoes. You can do the shredding with a food processor, but I like to use one of those fancy Swiss peelers. Place the shredded potatoes in a bowl of cold water, then drain them in a cheesecloth-lined colander. Heat sunflower oil in a deep frying pan according to the pan’s instructions. Mix together in a large bowl the shredded potatoes, three eggs, 1/2 cup of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 good shakes of black pepper, and 2 heaping tablespoons of dried minced onions. (A purist will use 1/2 cup of shredded onions instead of the dried minced onions, but I never plan ahead enough to buy the onions. I don’t know why.)

Form the mixture into patties and fry a few at a time in the basket of the deep fryer, about three minutes per side, but use your judgment. They should turn golden, but not get too brown. Set each batch on a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and enjoy! I believe the traditional topping is applesauce, but some people like maple syrup instead.