Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July Grilling Out Ideas - Things on Skewers!

Okay, I know that the summer makes it relatively easy to be gluten-free - especially when you fire up that grill. Everything on a skewer should be gluten-free, right? Here are some ideas for your next grill-out or party:

I like to use sturdy metal skewers that you can wash and re-use, but you can use wooden ones (soak them in water first to prevent burning) or even rosemary stems (same treatment)!

My current favorite dinner time skewer is:

--cubed beef tenderloin, button mushroom, and fennel skewer. Put your cubed beef, button mushrooms, and cubed pieces of fennel bulb in a pomegranate, brown sugar, salt, and safflower oil marinade, wait fifteen-thirty minutes, then thread on the skewer. Grill for about seven-ten minutes a side on medium heat. Fennel and mushroom can stand up to the amount of time it takes to grill meat, as opposed to a more delicate veggie (like a tomato). If you feel like you want a starch in there, I throw in little baby redskin potatoes that have been parboiled (boiled until they're still a bit raw, not soft) and then stick them right on that skewer - delicious in the same marinade. And for your vegetarian friends? Add in a sliced red pepper and onion, skip the beef, and you will have yourself a happy vegetarian.

--watermelon and feta (or halloumi) cheese skewers. A great use for leftover watermelon and creates a more savory flavor than fresh watermelon (and I think much better.) No need for a marinade, but you might want to brush with a little sugar water with a bit of your favorite oil in it and sprinkle a little sea salt on at the end. I think this skewer goes really well with mint or basil, too. Grill for five minutes on low-medium heat.

--Beet, avocado, fennel salad skewers! Delicious and unexpected, and so refreshing on hot days when you just aren't into meat. (I know, I know, but it does happen.) You could use steamed beets to speed up the process, but again, just brush everything with a little oil and sugar-salt-water mixture, then five minutes a side on medium heat. (Brushing a little lime juice on the skewer will keep the avocado from browning, if you don't like the appeal of brown grilled avocado. It's delicious either way!)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Gluten-Free Thanksgiving! An Alternative to Bready Stuffing - Spoonbread!

Yes, one of the things when I became allergic to wheat that I missed the most at Thanksgiving was stuffing. It seems mundane, but it's actually the starchy side that holds everything together. So, I was so delighted when I thought to replace it with a wonderful southern classic that is naturally gluten-free - Spoonbread! Some people have alternative recipes that are sometimes referred to as corn pudding or other names, but this version is pretty foolproof:
If you want to get fancy (which I did,) I'd recommend two extra steps - whip the egg whites separately and fold them into the mixture to get extra height, like a souffle, and add a touch of maple syrup to give it the old-pioneer-days sweetness that really makes it taste like "Thanksgiving." I also add a touch less butter as I'm casein-sensitive and the recipe didn't suffer. Serve with some sugared cranberries and extra maple syrup on the side.
Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vegan, Dairy-Free Caramels? Yes please! Glenn's Coconut Caramels

Coconut Salted Caramels (Vegan)This take on the classic salted caramel replaces the milk fat of butter and cream with coconut. You will need a candy thermometer.
⦁ 1 can full-fat coconut milk (refrigerated)
⦁ 1/4 cup coconut oil (we use virgin for more coconut flavor).
⦁ 1 tsp. sea salt.
⦁ 1 1/2 cup sugar.
⦁ 1/4 cup light corn syrup
⦁ 1/4 cup water
1. Spray an 8-inch pan with cooking spray or oil, line with parchment baking paper, and then spray the surface of the paper. Fit the liner to the pan by tracing the bottom of the pan on the paper, and then notching out the corners outside of the square. This lets the paper fold up the sides without overlapping or rising out of the pan.

2. Open the refrigerated can of coconut milk and spoon all of the solidified "cream" portion from the top of the can into a microwave safe bowl, add the coconut oil and salt, then microwave for ~30 sec to 1 minute until melted. Stir the mixture until uniform and set aside for later.

3. In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the water, sugar and corn syrup over high heat until the desired caramel color is achieved.
Once the sugar has dissolved, don't stir the liquid, just swirl the pan; vigorous stirring can cause the sugar to crystalize. For regular caramels, we usually go slightly past the point where the sugar mixture starts to turn a reddish-golden color and gives off a bit of smoke. A coconut caramel can't handle this much caramel flavor, so we usually take the caramelization process to where the sugar just darkens into the red range but hasn't yet started to smoke.

4. As soon as the desired color is reached, carefully add the cream mixture to the hot sugar, stirring continuously with a long spoon.
***Folks, we aren't kidding about the long spoon. Adding the cream mixture (which contains water) to the hot sugar rapidly generates a lot of steam, which will burn your fingers good if you are too close while pouring and stirring.

5. Continue to stir the mixture as you reheat it to 248°F (120°C), which is just above "soft ball" temperature on your candy thermometer, then immediately remove this very hot molten caramel from the heat and pour into the parchment-lined pan.

6. Allow to fully cool to room temperature, which takes several hours, then cut into squares.
Squares work very well, because they can be individually wrapped in squares of waxed paper and used for snacking at parties, as gift bag stuffers, or you can unwrap and melt them to make a caramel sauce or a caramel macchiato. We use a sturdy pizza cutter to cut the caramel sheet, as a knife often doesn't "cut it."

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Slightly After July 4 recipe: Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

Hello! Here we are - slightly late - with our July 4 Holiday Weekend Red, White and Blue Potato Salad recipe. You can modify it to be egg or dairy free, depending on your allergies - this year we tried it with sour cream instead of mayonnaise, and we've tried it with Greek yogurt and really liked it too! Different iterations give you slightly different tastes - some people hate sweet pickles, but growing up in the South, they were necessary to potato salad! My husband grew up in Cincinnati, so his version is vinegary, closer to the German origins. This is kind of a happy medium - missing mustard, including fennel instead of onion, and easily adaptable to tastes and allergies.

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad
July 5, 2013

Note: The secret of this hearty potato salad is that it can be readily modified be either non-dairy or egg-free, depending on your dietary needs. This is done by replacing source cream or yogurt with a diary-free mayonnaise and leaving out the eggs.
Note: Add some zip to this dish by adding acidic ingredients, such as vinegar or pickle juice, as your diet and predilections allow.

·         1 lb. whole red, white, and blue baby potatoes or small redskin potatoes, which work best.
·         2 Tbsp. table salt.
·         1/4 whole fennel (anise) blub, finely chopped.
·         1/2 cup whole sour cream, Greek yogurt, or mayonnaise--as tolerated.
·         Salt and sugar to taste.
·         (Optional) 2 hardboiled eggs, diced--if tolerated.
·         (Optional) 2 Tbsp. diced red onion--if tolerated.
·         (Optional) 2 medium Pickles, sweet or dill, diced--as tolerated.
·         (Optional) White vinegar or pickle juice, to taste--as tolerated.

1.       Place the potatoes in a medium pot, add two tablespoons of salt and enough cold water to cover potatoes with an inch of water. Bring potatoes to a boil and cook 10-15 minutes.
2.       After potatoes are tender enough that a knife can be easily inserted into the center of the potatoes, dump out the hot water and run cold water in the pot to cool down the potatoes.
Idea Use ice cubes to cool down the potatoes even faster.
3.       When cool, chop the potatoes into 1/4-1/2 inch cubes, which is 8 pieces per potato for baby potatoes. If you have trouble with insoluble fiber, peel the potatoes before you dice them.
4.       In a large bowl, combine the potato cubes and fennel, and optionally eggs, onions, or pickles. With a fork, work the sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, into the mixture to coat dry ingredients.
5.       Depending on the type of dressing used, you may need to add additional salt and sugar, to taste. Optionally, add a little pickle juice or white vinegar, to taste.
6.       Refrigerate for at least an hour in a closed container and serve cold.

Idea: When you take this or any potato salad to a picnic or if it must sit out, set the serving bowl into a bowl of ice. This helps keep the salad safe from spoiling for a little extra time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Trophy Cupcakes Now Has a Gluten-Free Cupcake - Red Velvet!

Now, what kind of gluten-free Northwest blogger guide would I be if I neglected to mention one of the best cupcakeries in the Northwest, and definitely in Seattle, offering a gluten-free option at their stores? Now you can get their famous Red Velvet cupcake gluten-free! Not sure what kind of flours they're using, or whether they're considered cross-contaminated (a no-no for the truly wheat-allergic, which unfortunately includes me) but I am excited to find out more! Here's hoping I can eat it - and that they include a salted caramel gluten-free cupcake in the coming months!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A New Thanksgiving Tradition - Individual Crustless Cranberry Meringue Pie!

Thanksgiving this year we've tried simplifying a bit as it will be just the two of us, but we did want to experiment a bit with a new dessert.

Cranberry Meringue Pie
 Lighter and more refreshing after a heavy dinner than traditional pumpkin pie, this was a really fun take on a Southern dessert from my childhood - lemon meringue pie.
We modified the recipe below by adding a tiny bit more sugar to the filling, substituting pomegranate juice for orange juice, and eliminating the crust (but a slightly salty nut crust would be delicious - next time maybe we'll try that!) Instead of making a whole pie, we put them in individual ramekins and adjusted the cooking time down a bit - much better if you have two or three at the table instead of twelve!
It is literally one of the most beautiful desserts I've ever made, especially if you pipe the meringue on top like my mother used to do.
It doesn't mention this in the Eating Well recipe, but you'll want to refrigerate this dessert pretty soon after it comes out of the oven.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Gluten-free Cupcakes at Cupcake Royale and Gluten Free Dining - Matador and Tango

A new discovery - Cupcake Royale (with an outpost in Downtown Bellevue) now carries gluten-free cupcakes! They only had double-fudge with vanilla frosting available on my last visit, but the texture was fluffy and the chocolate-ness was excellent. I'm just thankful that local cucake shops are starting to carry a safe option for those of us who can't eat wheat!

One of my favorite date restaurants downtown - perfect for a cocktail and tapas - is Tango. Tango has an extensive gluten-free menu which includes stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, Spanish tortillas, delicious corn tortillas and carnitas del puerco, paella and salads. The waitstaff and kitchen were very attentive and careful that I didn't accidentally eat something that had come in contact with wheat. And besides being perfect for a date, it's in a great location for out-of-towners who want to try something besides the average salmon-seafood Northwest cuisine.

One of the options for Redmond restaurants with good gluten-free options is the Southwest local chain Matador. Here's a link to the Seattle gluten-free menu, but Redmond's is very similar. I really liked the braised pork sopa but it's a great place to hit with co-workers for drinks and snacks after work without having to worry that the place won't have any options for you.