The broccoli of our discontent

I have been very lazy about keeping this blog up-to-date, partly because I’ve had more freelancing to do (great!) and partly because I’ve been writing for (it’s fun to earn ten dollars a month for writing articles about celebrity health issues). Anyway, today I offer two recipes, but neither is my own.

The first recipe is one I meant to make at Hanukkah, but didn’t get around to doing until two nights ago. It is the amazingly delicious potato pancake recipe from … Simon and Garfunkel. Yes. Click through to Gothamist to read it and prepare it. You will thank me later. I substituted quinoa flour for regular wheat flour and added a teaspoon of xanthan gum, but otherwise, I obeyed the recipe, and made enough potato pancakes for dinner plus two lunches for our three-person family.

One reason that I made the latkes on Tuesday evening is that I planned to make broccoli on Wednesday evening. Now, my daughter is pretty good about eating steamed broccoli with butter and sea salt, but that recipe is getting old, and I have been in search of something new. I made a broccoli casserole from the Taste of Home Cookbook a week ago, and that went over pretty well, but it wasn’t the smashing success I’d hoped it would be. (Basically, it involved mixing one raw egg with a pound of chopped broccoli and placing it in a Pyrex dish, then pouring melted butter on top, then sprinkling breadcrumbs on top of that, then baking it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Nice, but not jazzy enough for a kid to eat more often than every other week.)

Anyway, I joked to my family that the latkes were a gift in preparation for the “broccoli of our discontent,” coming up on the following evening’s menu. I assumed they’d each eat a few bites of whatever I prepared and call it a day.

Then I unearthed my copy of The Autism Cookbook by Susan K. Delaine. This book aims to provide allergen-free, nutrient-dense recipes that kids will actually eat, and it generally succeeds. If you like this recipe, you should consider buying the book, because it has all sorts of fun recipes in the same style as this one:

Whisk together 1/2 cup of sesame oil (substitute olive oil if sesame allergy is a problem in your house), 4 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp of maple syrup, 1 tsp of ground ginger, and 1 tsp of sea salt. Add 1 lb chopped broccoli (I steamed mine first, but Ms. Delaine just washes hers and serves it raw) and mix together. Add 1 cup of dried cranberries and a shake of sesame seeds (omit the sesame seeds if sesame allergy is a problem in your house) and mix together. Finish by adding crumbled, cooked bacon. Yum! My daughter had two helpings, and my husband and I each had three helpings. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are rich in nutrients and are thought to reduce the risk of cancer. In a recipe like this, though, all you notice is the great taste 🙂

I still think of this recipe as “the broccoli of our discontent,” but fondly, as my predictions proved completely erroneous. Thanks for another great meal, Ms. Delaine!

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).

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.

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.


Tonight, we went out to dinner, to one of my three favorite restaurants in our area: Alando, a Kenyan place with amazing food at very reasonable prices. My daughter and I split a cardamom chicken entree (complete with lovely soft rice and shredded cabbage), and of course we also ordered a plate of bhajia. Bhajia is an amazing side dish that is essentially fried potatoes, but is so much more. The potatoes are dipped in a perfectly seasoned batter of chickpea flour (or something similar), and then fried in canola (or another vegetable) oil. I’ve tried to make them in the past, but that was before the deep fryer entered our kitchen (thanks, Mom and Dad!). I think I might try again, because I can’t go out to eat every time I get a craving for bhajia, but I am not quite sure of the seasonings. Anyone with Kenyan (or Indian — I think the two cuisines have a lot of similarities, and for all I know, bhajia originated in India) heritage, please feel free to post a comment with seasoning suggestions. I know there’s turmeric (because bhajia has a yellow tinge, but doesn’t taste like saffron), onion (because you can taste it), cumin (again, you can taste it), and salt. There may be a bit of something spicy, but it’s subtle enough that my anti-spicy daughter doesn’t notice / doesn’t care.

Baked Pork Cutlet

This is a great main dish, as long as you don’t overcook it. I buy my meat through Pure Sprouts; the pork cutlets are from free-roaming heritage pigs from Stryker Farm. The taste is incredible.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ Pyrex dish. (I use olive oil spray, but feel free to use butter if you can safely consume dairy products, or rub the inside of the dish with the oil of your choice. You just don’t want the meat to stick to the pan.) In a medium-sized bowl, stir or sift together 2 cups of rice flour (or corn flour or a rice-and-corn flour mix) and 2 tablespoons of salt. Dredge each piece of pork in the breading mixture, then place it carefully in the Pyrex dish. If you use 1 pound of meat, you should be able to just barely fit all the cutlets in the dish without overlapping, which is always my goal (for even cooking). Watch the cutlets carefully so they don’t burn. I usually bake the cutlets for 75 to 90 minutes, flipping the cutlets with tongs 40 minutes into the baking time.

Enjoy your baked pork cutlets with applesauce, coleslaw, sauerkraut, or another seasonal fall dish!

Quick Aioli

This recipe depends heavily on using very high-quality ingredients, but it is extremely quick and easy to make, and it’s delicious on everything from roast pork to quinoa crackers. In a bowl, mix together:

1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of cayenne (you can go a little light on the cayenne if you’re not a big fan of spicy things)
2 tablespoons of honey mustard
1/2 cup of mayonnaise

Cabbage, Collard Greens-Style

I owe this recipe to Dr. Daphne Miller’s excellent book, The Jungle Effect. This book describes Dr. Miller’s research into “cold spots” for various diseases around the world, including Cameroon, which is a “cold spot” for colon cancer.

I didn’t have any collard greens around the house today, but I did have a head of cabbage, so I cleaned it, cored it, cut it into sections, and separated the leaves to make this excellent recipe:

Bring the cabbage leaves to a boil in one cup of water in a saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Remove the cabbage from the saucepan, pour the water into a bowl–you’ll use it later–and melt one tablespoon of lard in the saucepan. Put the cabbage back in the saucepan. Stir one tablespoon each of ground ginger, garlic powder, and cumin into the water you set aside, then pour the mixture over the cabbage. Toss the cabbage a bit to distribute the sauce and continue to saute it over fairly low heat until nearly all the liquid is gone. When it’s ready, sprinkle it with salt and lemon juice (to taste), toss it, and serve it.

Slightly more tender than collard greens, and seasoned scrumptiously! My five-year-old found it delightful.

A Party Isn’t a Party Unless There’s a Goat

Many years ago, during my first year at college, my roommate was a girl from Kenya. One afternoon, when we were talking about family celebrations, she remarked, “A party isn’t a party unless there’s a goat.” As it turns out, truer words were never spoken. Without further ado, my recipe for goat meatballs, fit for any party:

With your hands, mix one pound of ground goat, one cup of Orgran rice crumbs, two tablespoons of all-purpose seasoning, one teaspoon of sea salt, and 1/2 cup of ketchup. Form the mixture into one-inch balls, and place the meatballs in a Pyrex dish. Make sure you leave plenty of room between the meatballs, because after you cook them for 60 minutes at 350 degrees (uncovered), you’re going to turn them over with a fork and cover them with a maple-sugar-and-ketchup sauce, and then cook them (still uncovered) for another 30 to 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Hot Stuff

I know, I know–it’s too hot to make soup–but this is one of the tastiest and most nutrient-dense soups you’ll ever eat. I modified the recipe slightly from one in Judy Converse’s amazing book, Special Needs Kids Eat Right.

Cut one pound of bacon into one-inch pieces. Cook the entire pound of bacon by frying it in a saucepan. Set the cooked bacon pieces aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Peel and dice one pound of potatoes. Parboil the potatoes for five minutes in enough water to cover them, in a Dutch oven. After parboiling the potatoes, add the bacon, five diced shallots, one cabbage (cored and cut into chunks), and a generous sprinkle of sea salt and pepper to the Dutch oven. Add enough water or homemade chicken broth to the pot to cover all the ingredients, reduce the heat so that the stew simmers, and allow the stew to simmer for at least an hour. (I cover it so the water doesn’t evaporate too quickly, and I lift the lid periodically (with a potholder!) to stir the stew with a wooden spoon and add water, if necessary.

Serve with homemade bread (like the sourdough rye bread in Heidi Swanson’s book here, which I make with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour instead).