Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Summer Squash Pudding

This recipe is one of those favorites I grew up with, and this summer, presented with a bounty of yellow squash, I couldn't resist modifying this family favorite to my (mostly) gluten-free lifestyle.

First, I substituted the sour cream with goat cheese, as I had that from my CSA, and as I'm supposed to avoid dairy in general, I opted for the lesser of two evils (plus that goaty-ness from the cheese added depth of flavor). I then subbed gluten-free breadcrumbs in for traditional ones (these are readily available at Whole Foods. I'm still on the hunt in the Upper Valley). 

In general, I grew up with this dish baked in a large custard dish, so the egginess was more tender than I presented it. I wanted something a little firmer that wouldn't "ooze" when I transported it to work for lunch. I did something similar tonight here in VT, albeit baking it in a springform for more of a tart/flan than... custardy "bar??"

Either way -- this was delicious. So much I've been craving that comfort this week.

(If you're gluten free and don't have breadcrumbs, I tried mashing rice crackers -- like those Asian Seaweed ones -- into crumbs and topping it with those. It worked surprisingly well!).

Gluten-Free Summer Squash Pudding

5 small yellow squash, sliced thick and steamed until mushable
2 eggs
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp garlic and herb soft goat cheese
Salt, to taste
GF breadcrumbs, for topping

Bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees if in big pan, longer if deeper, until the egg is just set. (With about 1.75-2 inches, I baked this for 20 minutes. Perfect!)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Marcella Hazan - Comfort Food for All


The world lost a magnificent woman yesterday.

Marcella Hazan was a woman after my own heart. A biologist by training (like me, er, ecologist here?), she forever changed how we all at home cooked, and cooked Italian dishes, for sure.

She was bold and confident enough to admonish Mario Batali for his risotto cooking technique. And her patience, simplicity, and passion for Italian cooking could never be overlooked.

Marcella has left a rather large impression on me. I grew up devouring her tomato sauce, laden with the most tender, sweet sofrito ever (I became a sofrito believer because of her). And while her bolognese is a labor of love, made with milk and slowly cooked for hours, it has never let me down (and to this day, is the dish I turn to when feeling under the weather and in need of some TLC). I will always refer to her recipes for delicious, flavorful, and precise recipes, and can't wait to cook them (and pass them along) to the next generation.

If you've never tried her Bolognese, I implore you to do so this week. You'll thank me.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

This was one of the highlights of my summer adventures in the kitchen. Being back in a (another?) land-locked state, this time I had access to tons of super-fresh fish flown in daily from AK. And I had a mad hankering for salmon.

One night salmon, the next night leftovers. At 8,550, cold salmon salads don't have the same appeal as they do in hot and steamy NYC. Rather, where it's easily 50 degrees at night on the hottest summer days, this girl needs a little heat (spice?!) in her life. 

Summer rolls are super easy to make, and, when you have a glass of wine at hand, kind of therapeutic to make after a long day in the office. Plus, these are great for a party any day!

Spicy Peanut Sauce

1 tbsp ginger, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 serrano chiles, chopped
Salt, as needed
Less than ¼ honey
½ teaspoon crush red pepper flakes
2/3 cups unsweetened peanut butter (smooth)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup water, as needed

In a food processor, blend the first four ingredients until finely minced. Scrape down sides and add the remaining ingredients, through sesame oil. Puree well. Season to taste, thinning out the mixture as needed. Feel free to balance out the flavors. Let sit at room temperature for a couple hours for the flavors to blend and mellow.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Easy Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

And... more radio silence from me. It's been a busy month! I returned from an epic summer along the Wasatch Front and decompressed along the South Coast of Massachusetts for a couple of weeks before returning to one of my favorite places in New England: The Upper Valley. 

While the recipes may wane with classes underway, I'll try to post a couple of times a month. First up is one of the wild, new flavors I encountered this summer: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa. I should preface this with a) I've never willingly bought tomatillos and b) never really cooked with them. So when they come my way via a CSA not once, but TWICE, I knew some ingenuity would have to be mustered up.

First up, the one result I DID document digitally, oh and then LOSE: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa. It was a few days before I hosted a bunch of friends for a casual potluck-movie night at 8,550 feet. Roasting anything at that altitude takes some patience and additional moisture. But the thought of just blitzing raw tomatillos in a Cuisinart didn't appeal to me. I've said this a million times over: Everything is better roasted. And with some heat. 

For ease, and to add depth of flavor, I roasted the tomatillos, chiles, and garlic together (bathed in some water to keep them moist while completely roasting through - it's dry at altitude!). This is a mindlessly easy recipe, and delicious -- I think one guest (assisted by another) downed the entire bowl!

Another motivating factor for posting this today: It's a GREAT football Sunday snack!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

5 medium tomatillos
2-3 serrano chiles
3 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt

Peel and wash the tomatillos. Split and seed the chiles. Peel garlic. Roast the ingredients together in a foil package at 350 degrees until tender (time depends on altitude; I roasted mine for 45 minutes).

Add the roasted vegetables, cilantro, and salt to a blender. Process until smooth, thinning out with a bit of water if necessary. Season to taste, adding a bit of cilantro, cumin or lime, if you like. Serve with corn chips.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to Find the Perfect Bottle of Wine

Vino is my go-to tippler of choice. I used to be a whites girl (Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Sauv Blanc, CA Chardonnays) but now am more of a big red girl (CA Cabs, GSM blends, Zinfandels...).

I know so many people -- really, gentlemen, I'm talking to you here -- who don't know there way around wine simply because beer, for a single guy, is often easier. And I'm not saying that's bad. But one way to impress the next lady you take out to dinner is know the basics around a wine list via what you're looking for. Know what words to use when engaging the sommelier in conversation.

I just came across this and love it. Tasting wine should be an adventure. Consider this the first tool to master use of for your toolbox.

A Beginner
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Healthy Chocolate Krispy Treats

I first made these this past spring, in an attempt to use up various odds and ends in the pantry, namely crispy rice cereal, a key ingredient in these go-to breakfast bars. Interestingly enough, I found myself in a similar position this past weekend with two weeks to go left in my stint out in Utah.

I've been trying to stay away from chocolate, as I have, generally, an insatiable sweet tooth. Famous last words. I'd have to say, these are pretty virtuous -- no processed sugars (save what's in the Nestle chips I opted for this time; I usually use/have on hand Ghiradelli and/or Green & Black's) and all wholesome, minimally processed ingredients.

The best part? They're super easy to make and very satisfying. Just watch out for chocolate-covered fingers. Don't blame me if chocolate ends up dribbling down your front. Evidence of a tasty treat!

Healthy Chocolate Krispy Treats

The bars:
3/4 cup brown rice syrup (can also try half maple, half brown rice)
1/2 cup almond butter
3/4 cup chopped bittersweet (70%) chocolate
2 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 cups crisp rice cereal

The topping:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped bittersweet (70%) chocolate, plus more if desired
1/4 teaspoon flaky salt (such as Maldon)

Line an 8x8 square pan with a sling of parchment paper. In a large saucepan, bring the syrups to a rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula. Remove from the heat and stir in the nut butter, chocolate, coconut oil, and fine salt until everything is smooth and the chocolate is melted. Fold in the rice cereal and pack the mixture firmly and evenly into the lined pan (damp fingers can help here).

In a small saucepan (or the same big one, if you've scraped it clean), melt the remaining chocolate and coconut oil together over very low heat, stirring constantly just until melted (be careful not to scorch the chocolate). Pour the chocolate mixture over the rice mixture, spreading it smooth. Sprinkle the flaky salt over the top.

Let the bars set at cool room temperature (about 2 hours) or in the refrigerator (about 1 hour) until firm. Lift the sling out of the pan, trim away the edges if you like, and cut into 16 squares.

Makes 16 two-inch bars

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Perfect Soft-Boiled Eggs with Toast Soldiers

It's been eons since I've posted. Why?

Finishing up my third term at engineering school. Finals. Moving in with a (now) ex-boyfriend. Moving out of his place. Packing and unpacking and repacking for a summer out west all in 24 hours. Driving cross-country. Re-falling in love with my happy place in the summer. And doing more hiking and playing outdoors and making new friends than I ever could have imagined.

It's been the best summer, putting myself first and cooking lots of good, fresh food -- but I've failed in writing recipes (as I sit here scrambling to find a recipe for these bars I made this spring). I'll try and make good in the next two weeks, though, and catch up!

Here's one of my favorites, and something I may have this morning myself.... ENJOY!

Growing up, whenever my sisters and I were feeling under the weather, my mom would always make soft-boiled eggs, which she'd scoop on top of little cubes of buttered toast, so the molten center would soften each crispy piece. It was the best kind of comfort food — easy to prepare, satisfying, and, unlike a rich mac 'n' cheese, healthy!

Nowadays, I prefer to dip buttered toast soldiers into my egg, lightly seasoned with flakes of sea salt, rather than pour the egg on top. It's a simple and easy breakfast or snack, any time of day.

Soft-Boiled Eggs with Toast Soldiers

2 eggs, preferably heirloom varieties, at room temperature
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 slices toast, toasted
Sea salt, to taste

Submerge eggs in a small saucepan covered with 1 inch of water. Remove the eggs and bring the water to a boil over high heat and immediately add the eggs. Turn the heat down to medium-low, keeping the water at a gentle simmer (about 180 degrees). Once simmering, cook for about 3 minutes. Immediately remove the eggs and plunge into an ice bath for about 2 minutes, or until eggs are cool to the touch.

Meanwhile, spread still warm toast with butter to melt. Cut into ½-¾ inch spears.

Place each egg in a small cup and crack the pointy end with the end of a knife or spoon to crack shell. Gently peel skin away. Sprinkle with salt and use toast to dunk into molten yolk. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Merguez, Kale, and Sweet Potato Frittata

Whether you're entertaining two or 10 around the holidays, it's hard to beat a frittata when it comes to serving up a hearty and healthy breakfast.

Akin to a large, flat (i.e. unrolled) omelette, frittatas are the perfect brunch item, in my book. It's a vehicle for all sorts of toppings, here salty and spicy merguez sausage, rich green winter kale, chunks of roasted sweet potato, and delicate caramelized onions. All of the ingredients can be prepped in advance, so all you need to do is mix the eggs and add the ingredients about 20 minutes before you want to eat.

This recipe serves two, but it can be easily doubled or tripled to feed your group. Just use a larger sauté pan and be sure to cook the frittata until the center is just set — it will certainly take longer in the oven. Serve with toasted slices of hearty farm bread (I liked Zingerman's and Wave Hill pre-no-gluten), fresh butter, and jam.

Merguez, Kale, and Sweet Potato Frittata

1 Sweet potato, chopped into 1/4-by-1/2-inch chunks
Olive oil, for roasting
Salt, to taste
2 links Merguez sausage, casings removed
6 ounces baby kale, washed and torn into 3-inch pieces
4 eggs
2 ounces grated cheese, preferably fontina or Gruyère, if desired
2 yellow onions, finely sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 8-by-8-inch baking pan, combine the sweet potato with just enough oil to coat and a sprinkling of salt. Toss well. Roast in oven for about 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until the largest chunks are fork tender. Set aside.

While potatoes cook, heat a large saute pan over high heat. Add about a tablespoon of oil and then the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onions release their moisture, then turn heat down to medium-high. Cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and are lightly caramelized. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, add the sausage and cook over high heat. Break the meat into small chunks and cook until brown, about 3-5 minutes. Set the meat aside, making sure to reserve the juices in the pan.

In the same, still-hot pan, add the kale and cover with a lid. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, then stir. If there isn't a lot of moisture at the bottom of the pan, add a couple of tablespoons of water to help wilt the greens. Set the kale aside, uncovered, once tender, about 3 minutes more.

Turn oven down to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs well and lightly season. Heat a 10-inch skillet over high heat. Add 3 tablespoons oil and turn heat to medium-high. Add in the sweet potato, onions, sausage, and kale. Stir well and immediately pour into pan. Cook about 5 minutes on the stovetop, or until the sides begin to set, then transfer to the oven for about 5-10 minutes longer, or until the center of the frittata is just set. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Serve.

Recipe Details:

Can be made in advance and gently reheated in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until warm.

Servings: 2
Total time: 1 hour

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Easy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friend MEC took a picture recently of some cookies she'd made. I initially thought they were regular -- only to my delight did I see her note that they were gluten-free. 'They look like that and they're gluten-free?!' I thought... I HAD to try the recipe.

I've had a hankering for cookies, ever since being back at school. Blame it on the stress of 16-18 hour days. And no Italian Hot Chocolate from Watson's Shelter to keep it in check. I whipped these up late at night over MLK weekend after driving (suffering?) through Boston-area traffic from NH. Warning, be sure to have a full-tummy when making them. Or, you'll definitely be nibbling on the dough before the cookies emerge from the oven. Best yet? Serve sandwiching some vanilla ice cream, perhaps swirled with some salted burnt caramel sauce...

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Recipe derived from Bob’s Red Mill

1-1/3 cups King Arthur GF flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/3 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a large cookie sheet or line with parchment paper; set aside.
Stir together the GF flour, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt; set aside. 

In a large mixer bowl, cream together butter (room temperature, not melted), granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and egg; scrape sides of bowl frequently. Stir in flour mixture on low speed, mixing thoroughly. Stir in chocolate chips

Shape dough into flat disk, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2” apart on baking sheet, or roll into balls if dough is hard to work with. Bake 1 minutes on center rack of oven or until lightly browned. Cool 2-3 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Makes 16 cookies.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Easy Pinto Bean Hummus

No game day celebration, cocktail party, or even casual gathering with friends is complete without a snack, and I have to say, cheese and crackers aside, nothing quite beats hummus. It's perfect for us gluten-free folk, and equally as fabulous for vegetarians and vegans.

When I discovered a myriad of food sensitivities nearly two years ago, some made sense (Gluten. Oats. Dairy. Shrimp. CORN!). Others didn't, but after eating them again (Lentils. Chickpeas. Quinoa), I realized I couldn't fool my body.

So commenced a hummus dry spell in my life. Quite sad and unfortunate. Until I started experimenting with the two kinds of beans that didn't leave me doubled over in pain and my tummy frozen for days: Pinto Beans and Black Beans.

There are a number of ways of dressing up this blend. I kept it simple, with lots of garlic and ample seasoning, along with some cumin and cayenne for a kick. PERFECT with carrots, and awfully tasty with potato chips (hey, I can't do pita chips anymore) -- and fabulous with melted cheese on rice tortillas or in burritos.

For those of us allergic to chickpeas and sensitive to tahini, now you won't be deprived!

Easy Homemade Pinto Bean Hummus

12 ounces cups dried organic pinto beans (I used Laurel Hill's Heirloom beans) *preferred over canned
3 cloves garlic
Salt, to taste
Cumin, to taste
Cayenne, to taste
Paprika, to taste

Soak beans overnight. Rinse twice, agitating with hands each time. Cover beans with 2x their depth of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender and beans can be smushed with a fork easily.

Blitz garlic and 1/2 cup of beans, and 1/4+ of cooking water, in Cuisinart (I had to do mine in batches as all I have is a mini-prep). Place in bowl. Repeat with more beans, water, and seasonings. Repeat until all beans have been blended. Check for seasonings, adding more cumin, salt, or cayenne as desired.

Serve warm with pita chips and/or carrots -- or save as a spread for lunches. The sky is the limit!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Healthy Fudgy Brownies (Perfect for a Birthday)

I remember my first bean brownie experience. It was in Westport, CT, at this little natural foods store called Food for Thought. Everything and anything in there was virtuous and healthy. And flavorless and dull, or so I thought. Until my mom brought these home. Super moist, chocolaty, and a bit fudgy, I figured there had to be tons of butter and sugar in them…

Not black beans. Yeah, THOSE black beans.

Now that I’m gluten-free, these are the perfect, easy, chocolaty fix I often crave. Plus, I don’t feel all too bad knowing they contain black beans, packed with protein, nutrients, and other goodness. It’s like a super food sweet.

I recently made these for a friend for her birthday. Topped with one of my favorite Talenti flavors, and homemade whipped cream. Later this week, they’ll likely be served for a late-night, study-break/schoolwork snack infused with some peanut butter, perhaps – ‘cause we killed the caramel last week…

Birthday Black Bean Brownies 
1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed, and pureed until smooth
3 large eggs
1/3 cup melted butter, more for the baking dish
1/3 cup cocoa powder plus 2 tablespoons dark hot chocolate mix
1/8 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter an 8-inch baking pan. Place the black beans, eggs, melted butter, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, or with an immersion blender in a medium bowl, and blend until smooth. Remove the blade and gently stir in the chocolate chips. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Bake the brownies for 30 or so, or until just set in the center. Cool before cutting into squares.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Easy Carrot Top Pesto

I'm a huge fan of trying to use every little bit of a vegetable I have when cooking. I'll saute beet greens when I'm roasting beets for dinner. Celery leaves are a delicious salad ingredient, when accompanied by some herbs, a light vinaigrette, and some sweet dried fruit, salty roasted almonds, and perhaps some pungent blue cheese.

But I never quite figured out something tasty to make with carrot tops. And given that I try to purchase only fresh carrots, with their leafy tops intact, when at the market, I've tossed my fair share of carrot tops over the years.

Not anymore. When life gives you carrot tops, why not make pesto?

Really, part of me views this concoction as a vehicle for the tasty garlic-nut-cheese combination. I've been obsessed with roasting carrots for the past month of so, and this is a good accompaniment to serve along with steak (and those roasted carrots). Or in pasta. Or on toast, under a fried egg. Or alone. You really can't go wrong.

Carrot Top Pesto
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1 bunch of carrot tops, washed and trimmed
Freshly grated Parmigiano, to taste
Olive oil

In a Cuisinart, blend the garlic and almonds until a paste. Add the carrot greens and mix again. Add a bit of Parmigiano and salt, and a bit of oil. Blend. Continue adding oil until the pesto reaches a consistency you like. Check the seasoning and serve.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

An Easy Spring Lunch: Coconut-Spinach Rice Salad

I'll be honest here: I don't remember where the original inspiration for this recipe came from. Thinking back, it must have been somewhere in the Creamed Spinach realm, but for us gluten/dairy-free-tards (Shh, don't tell those-who-be that I sometimes indulge in my favorite cheeses...) there HAD to be another substitute. And then I remember seeing a recipe for something green-plus-coconut rice salad. SCORE! Sounds kinda tasty, no?

So in a moment of laziness, I swapped lacinato kale (because my local market didn't have anything organic/up-to-snuff) out for frozen spinach (aka a time-crunched-cooks-best-friend). I upped the coconut factor with coconut milk and coconut flakes. A bit of cayenne for heat (I love!). Salt. Cilantro (for fun). And a mix of primarily wild rice, but because I had the space (and fellow-ingredient-capacity...) added some brown rice for kicks. Warning: It turned out more like a risotto-like salad than a grainy salad. Given my craving for "comfort" food during the stressful parts of the term, it's a good thing. But, I'll give you due warning. (Not a fan of "creamyish" rice? Swap out full-fat coconut milk for low-fat, and don't stir the rice. Let it cook low and slow until done as you like). 

To be honest, I didn't expect this recipe to taste as indulgent as it turned out! I've been in a bit of a (stress-induced) funk, and this (and a glass of red wine) served as my midweek remedy. And it was quite an effective one. It's perfect for a portable lunch, a dinner accompaniment for the perfect roast rack of lamb, or if you're really missing your western home (like I am at times), delicious with truffle salami from Salt Lake City and dried cherries... FOR BREAKFAST. I suggest trying a fried egg on top... perhaps a grating of Parm too. Then let me know how it goes :)

Easy Spinach-Coconut Wild Rice Salad

1 large shallot, sliced fine
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cups rice (I used 1.5 cups wild, .5 cups brown rice)
2 boxes Cascadian Farms frozen spinach (not drained, defrosted)
1 can coconut milk
½ cup (more if needed) water 
Paprika and cayenne pepper, to taste
1 cup dried coconut flakes
2/3 cup chopped cilantro
Tamari almonds, chopped, for garnish

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, combine shallot and olive oil, sauteing over medium-high heat until tender. Add the rice and cook for about 2 minutes, until the grains are toasted. Add the spinach and cook until the moisture is reduced to nearly nothing. Season a bit and add the coconut milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are done to your preference, about 40 minutes, over low-medium heat. Add more water if needed. Season to taste with cayenne and paprika.

Once the rice is nearly done, add the coconut flakes. Cook 5 minutes. Then add the cilantro and season to taste. Serve with chopped Tamari almonds on top. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lunchbox-Friendly Asian-Inspired Meatballs

Who doesn't love meatballs?

This is a rift on a recipe I spotted on Tasting Table. Being a student, I try to make and pack lunch each day (key word: TRY). So I’m always on the lookout for packable meal-makings that are versatile, low-carb (I can’t fall asleep in my afternoon classes!), and flavorful.

These fit the bill.

The original recipe calls for gochujang, a Korean chili sauce, and pork. Now, in the Upper Valley, I have yet to discover an Asian market. Moreover, most Asian sauces have modified food starch or gluten of some sorts that I’m to avoid. So screw the chili sauce. I swapped in my favorite ground turkey from a local farm, and added a bunch more garlic, ginger, scallion, and soy to boost flavor. Mirin gives the meatballs a delicate sweetness to go along with the much-needed umami and seasoning from the tamari (and now that I write this, I think back to my other sweet-savory meatball concoction starring spinach, currants, and pine nuts…mmm).

I don’t know why I didn’t make meatballs more often in DUMBO. Oh, right. I was in a studio and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have my bed smelling like what I made for dinner the night before. Yeah. Not cool, says my inner OCD person. Anyways, making these here in my 4-bedroom house? SO easy.

The recipe below yields about 40 meatballs (about 1-1 ½ inches in diameter), more than a little me can eat in a week. So I kept 15 out for lunch, and froze the rest. Be sure to cook off a little meatball before you cook them all so you can taste for seasoning.

They’re great served with rice noodles, peppers, and peanut sauce – or, as I do, over roasted vegetables. My go-to lunch these days. Perfect for lunchboxes (no one is ever too old for a lunchbox). Oh, and they’re completely gluten-free!

Asian-Inspired Meatballs
Adapted from a recipe by Rachel Yang of Joule in Seattle, WA, published on Tasting Table

1 pound ground turkey (half regular meat, half dark meat - you could also use ground beef)
6 scallions, finely chopped
¼ cup mirin rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more as desired
5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (use the edge of a teaspoon to scrape off the skin) and finely chopped or grated
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large bowl, stir together the meat, scallions, mirin, soy sauce, garlic and ginger until combined (the mixture will be very wet). Use your hands to roll the mixture into 1½-inch meatballs. Place on foil-lined baking sheet.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the meatballs (cook the meatballs in batches if necessary). Cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes longer, and then transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet.

Place the meatballs in the oven and bake until they resist light pressure and are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel to drain and serve hot if possible.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Perfect Meatloaf Dinner

... or The-Perfect-Meal-to-Impress-Your-Date, perhaps?

Now is the time when the temperatures fluctuate from the mid-40s to 50s during the day, down below freezing at night. While I may dream of the days when I can again hop on the bike and wear shorts to the gym without freezing, there are nights I still crave warm, filling meals by the roaring woodstove and a big glass of red wine.

Such was the case last week. I had plenty of ground beef on hand, and I kept being taunted by the thought of my grandmother's meatloaf. Mmm. And salad. And, per my sous chef's request, mashed red bliss potatoes. Sounds awfully good.

I began with the basic meatloaf recipe my grandmother has somewhat followed for years (though I think there is ketchup in there somewhere, I forget). I adapted it a bit again this time, using a local tomato sauce rather than making my own (Bove's!! The best in VT) and adding a bit of Worcestershire sauce and basil to my meat mixture, along with toasted gluten-free bread in lieu of traditional breadcrumbs. I found the Worcestershire to impart the umami flavor I like in ketchup without the added sweetness. My only fault was that I wish I'd used 2 lbs of beef rather than one, because it went pretty fast and my onion:meat ratio was high.

My sous chef was in charge of the mashed potatoes (I'm wary of my abilities). Super easy. Wash and remove the eyes from the potatoes. Chop into 1-inch chunks. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are easily piercable with a fork. Drain and add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 stick of butter. Mash well, adding more cream or butter if desired. Season to taste.

I served this with my favorite salad du jour: Bibb lettuce with pear, avocado, and toasted walnuts, tossed in olive (or toasted walnut) oil, maple syrup, and Maldon salt. This one with spinach and roasted grapes would be good, too, as would this one with beets and blue cheese. Even this hearty kale-miso one, if you're super hungry!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Super Easy Thai Red Curry

This is a classic winter favorite that comes from a friend/talented chef/sous chef Claire Smallwood from Alta, Utah. Oh, and one sick skier ;)

When my grass-fed beef share served me up some stew meat, I postponed by grand Boeuf Bourguignon plans for something a bit more exotic, a lot easier, and did I mention less expensive (even though I splurged on a $5 organic red pepper. Geez…)

I made this with whole coconut milk, but you could also swap in two cans of light coconut. As well, I went heavy on the curry paste, because I like my food with a kick. The key ingredients to finish this off are the juice of a lime and fish sauce to taste. Served over sticky or jasmine rice, it’s a real winter evening treat!

Super Easy Thai Red Curry
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ pounds grass-fed beef stew meat (or chicken. Or tofu. Your pick.)
1 medium-large shallot, chopped in slices
Red curry paste, to taste (I used about 6 tablespoons)
2 bunches of baby bok choy, rinsed and chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1/3 cup sliced fresh basil
Salt, to taste
Juice of 1 lime, to taste
Fish sauce, to taste.

In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil and heat til it shimmers. Add the beef and cook until just cooked on one side. Add a sliced shallot and stir, browning the other side of the beef. Add the bok choy and red pepper and sauté briefly. Add the coconut milk and ½ can of water (if using full-strength coconut).

Bring to a simmer and reduce to low. Cook for 30 minutes or so (be careful NOT to boil the mixture), then add basil. Season to taste with salt, lime, and fish sauce. Serve hot over rice and garnish with more basil, if desired.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Wild Boar Ragù

On a cold winter night, nothing beats a hearty, meaty sauce for pasta. I recently had access to two wild boar loins out west, and having recently made a pulled-beef "bolognese" of sorts at home in VT, I knew EXACTLY what I had to do with these little guys: make one of my all-time favorite dishes (pre-no-gluten) to order at an Italian restaurant, Pappardelle al Ragù Di Cinghale or Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu.

This is shockingly easy, and the rewards are tremendous. I made this with rice spaghetti and fusilli, but I find it best with pappardelle (I'm still looking for rice pappardelle, good luck...). It will serve 8 easily, with extras for lunch or dinner the next day or two. Serve with a hearty green salad.

Wild Boar Ragu
4 cups tomato sauce:
  3 tbsp olive oil
  1 small yellow onion, chopped
  2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  1 stalk celery, chopped
  40-ounces canned whole tomatoes
  1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  3 bay leaves 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices bacon, rendered
2 pounds boneless wild boar meat, such as tenderloins
1 cup red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah
1 tbsp dried chili flakes
Cocoa powder, to taste (I used about a tablespoon)
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
3 sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste

For the sauce, heat olive oil until warm over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. Cook until the onions are translucent and vegetables tender. Add the tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook over low heat, partially covered, for 45 minutes to an hour. Set aside.

In a large cast-iron pot, heat the oil and add the bacon, cooking until the fat is rendered. Add the boar and gently brown. Add the tomato sauce, red wine, and seasonings and vinegar, to taste. Bring to a boil. Return to low heat.

Place in a 300-degree oven (at 8000 ft; 250 at sea level) for 2-3 hours, or until the meat is very tender. The longer you simmer the dish, the tenderer the meat will become.

The ragù is ready to eat when the meat has totally fallen apart and the meat has absorbed most of the liquid. Take out the cinnamon stick and bay leaves before serving.

Serve over a wide pasta of your choice and top with freshly grated Parmigiano cheese. Accompany with some crusty peasant bread and a good red wine, preferably a strong Italian, like Amarone or Barolo.

Even the puppies know what is going on ;)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Chocolate Lava Cakes for Two

This would have been the perfect Valentine's Day post, but it didn't occur to me to make these until I had a long day on the slopes and just needed some splurge that was tasty and sweet as a pick me up on a cold Saturday night. So easy, SO good. If you don't have ramekins, do as I did in a pinch and use small tea cups (if the walls are thick, try preheating the ceramic in the oven).

Top with a healthy spoonful of salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream!

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Butter, for ramekins
6 ounces dark chocolate
3 tbsp butter, plus more for ramekins
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar (I used a bit less as I like my chocolate chocolaty)
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 2-3 ramekins or tea cups well with butter.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter over water until just barely melted. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted.

Meanwhile, warm eggs to room temperature in hot water. Beat room temperature eggs and sugar together until creamy and lemon-yellow covered. Add the salt. Fold in the slightly-cooled chocolate. Pour into ramekins and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the top is just set. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve with warm caramel and vanilla ice cream. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Easy Winter Chili

Let's just say I've been a bit slow on posting what I've been up to over the past 10 weeks. There are a number of tasty recipes that are sure to come your way in the coming days, now that I've got a week off of class. First up, a winter favorite for the last few days of winter we have left (though if you're where where I am right now, spring and summer were totally chased away by a large gust of winter today; brr!). 

This was a lunchtime favorite many a day at school, served atop a bed of roasted vegetables. I also had it for dinner a few times, served with guacamole and black bean chips, then with a healthy grating of cheese. This is the perfect party dish to serve a crowd (double to serve 8+ people) or for a week's worth of nutritious and flavorful lunches. 

I made this with a mix of grass-fed ground beef and veal from my favorite local farmer. I suggest you do the same!

Easy Winter Chili

2 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, finely chopped
1 lb ground veal
1 lb ground beef
3 oz double concentrated tomato paste
One 14-ounce can diced Roma tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp dark Muscovado sugar
1 tsp chili flakes
8 sundried tomatoes, reconstituted overnight
1 carrot, peeled and cut into coins
1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces
6 bird chilies, soaked and finely diced
1 cup chicken stock
2 to 2.5 cups just-cooked (or canned) pinto beans, rinsed well
1 tsp salt

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the beef and brown. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes then add the spices and vegetables. Stir well. Add stock, beans, and salt. Bring to a simmer then reduce to low and cook for 2 hours (or longer). Season to taste and serve.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Easy Gluten-Free Scones

A couple of weeks ago, I was granted an afternoon to myself. I think the first time in 4-5 weeks?

The day started off like this: Up early, at 7, to head to the Skiway for a morning of testing and some fun runs. A stop for java along the way, and music blasting as I drive north along the Connecticut. Testing our device, and of course, the requisite fun runs.

The term, then (and until today), had been a blur. 12-14 hour days, with a night and a morning to myself, usually to go out to dinner, bed early, then blow some steam off at the gym or along the trail Saturday morning before hitting the books (or meeting) again.

This one Saturday, as the snowflakes started to swirl down, I had the chance to do whatever I damn well pleased. And, as I'd just finished a week of dinners out and exams, and I had the kitchen to myself,  all I really wanted to do was cook.

First up, my favorite gluten-free "granola" bars. A hearty and mind-numbingly easy Thai beef curry. And scones.

Living in Norwich, VT, I have the great pleasure to be so close to King Arthur Flour, which now being gluten-free, I regard as the BEST producer of an all-purpose gluten-free flour. Seriously. And no corn!

It's been nearly two years or more since I had my last scone, and these, while not as massive and doughy as my favorites available at Nantucket Greens, when my family still lived in New Canaan, they're pretty good, certainly rivaling many available at bakeries around the country today. Furthermore, this recipe is pretty foolproof and comes together in minutes.

The hardest part is resisting on sampling one fresh out of the oven. OK. Cave. Just wait 7 minutes!

Easy Gluten-Free Scones
Makes 16 small scones

2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar (add more if you like sweeter scones)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup dried currants, raisins, cherries, or cranberries
2 eggs, beaten well
1 cup heavy cream

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400°F.

Place flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse until just crumbly. Add fruit and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.

Whisk eggs together and then add in cream. Whisk mixture together with a fork until just combined. Pat together with hands into a round mass. Place on greased cookie sheet (or one lined with parchment or a silpat) and score wedges with a knife. Sprinkle with more sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Cool at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gluten-Free Almond-Poppyseed Muffins with Lemon Glaze

I have always loved muffins. The problem is/was that about two years ago, I went gluten (and relatively dairy) free. So long muffins of all kinds. Those 6am flights became trickier without a muffin and latte on the go for the flight. Sunday morning sleepy trips to Starbucks (or Grey Dog) weren't the same without a sweet wheat treat to go along.

And to be honest, I haven't really missed muffins/carbohydrates in general. I've found a couple of AMAZING gluten-free pizza crusts out there, actually prefer brown rice pasta to wheat, and thankfully can still indulge in French Fries. So, I've been OK.

Until two weeks ago, when I started going to the gym again at 5:45am (this time because it's the only time that my academic schedule permits, not because I was addicted to a specific 6:15am spin class (and working in midtown). A banana and muffin are the perfect accompaniment to my 8:45am Systems class. I'm already bored of Kind bars. Uh oh.

Luckily, one of my favorite (and conveniently Gluten-Free!) bloggers Jess Thomson saved my ass.(Literally. Gym. Will. Go. On. After all, I've got some Main Chute hiking and backcountry touring to stay in shape for...) She published a recipe inspired by Jeanne Sauvage's Applesauce Spice Muffins. I've taken the liberty to do away with yogurt (only butter and some alpine cheeses are OK for me...) and upped the almond factor. But don't worry -- they're awfully good :)

Lemon-Glazed Almond-Poppyseed Muffins 
Adapted from Jess Thomson, Hogwash

Makes: About 18 muffins

For the muffins:
Muffin liners
2 1/2 cups (350g) gluten-free all-purpose flour, such King Arthur
2.5 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons almond extract
2/3 cup almond milk
Toasted finely chopped almonds, for topping (optional)

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 18 standard muffin cups (or 12 standard cups and 12 mini cups) with muffin liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, lemon zest, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add half the dry ingredients and mix on low to blend. Stir the almond extract into the milk, add to the bowl, and mix again. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until just combined.

Spoon the dough into the prepared muffin cups, filling them about three quarters of the way full. Sprinkle the tops with almonds, if using. Bake the muffins until lightly browned (a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean), 12 to 15 minutes for mini muffins and 15 to 20 minutes for standard-sized muffins.

When the muffins come out, make the glaze: Stir together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer the muffins to a cooling rack, then drizzle or brush a little glaze onto each muffin. Let the glaze cool for about 10 minutes, then enjoy warm.

Note: Muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter Squash Tart

Is it a tart? Quiche? Pie?

There is no combination quite like that of sweet and tender caramelized onions, aromatic sage, nutty browned butter, and (well, at least this cucurbitaceae) golden sweet pumpkin.

My favorite dish of all time (pre-gluten-free days) is a variation on this – smooth butternut puree mixed with sweet crumbs of amaretti cookies, wrapped up in little handkerchiefs and then served atop thin slices of salty prosciutto, garnished with chunks of toasted hazelnuts, and a healthy drizzle of browned butter.

I was craving these cappellacci con zucca the other day, but had to turn to my gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi from Agata and Valentina, tossed in a browned butter sauce, garnished with crispy sage leaves – and of course, that prosciutto.

‘Twas not sufficient. That squash and sage hankering came back with a vengeance. Luckily I was armed with a rather large Rouge Vif De’Temps (in my book, the best cucurbitaceae member out there) with the most brilliant orange flesh that tasted most sublimely sweet, like sugar.

Initially, I panicked. What to do?

I’d already said no to sweets – can’t fuel that fire. This has got to serve as a meal. 

No risotto – have had enough of that over the past 9 weeks.

Muffins? Cake? Bread? Oh wait, I’m a glutard… and don’t have freezer space like I used to.

Soup? Don’t forget about the soup you've got in the freezer already, remember? (And then there is this soup... and pasta...)

Then those handkerchiefs floated back into my head. Must. Have. Now. But rather than pasta, can I create that combination of flavors in a savory tart?

This is less eggy than a quiche, heartier than those delicate tarts I love from Once Upon a Tart in NYC. Consider it a savory pie, good enough for lunch or dinner, but with a creamy filling, it’s surely satisfying enough to stand in for it’s sweeter sibling.

Armed with two basic tart recipes as research, and my no-fail tart shell favorite from Alice Waters, I set off to work late Friday afternoon (armed with a bottle of wine, of course). While my tart shell was a failure*, the pie itself was a huge success.

Winter Squash Tart (Pie)

Tart Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour, gluten-free if necessary
6 tablespoons very cold butter (I like Organic Valley’s Pasture Butter)
Salt, if desired
Herbes de Provence, as desired
Water, if necessary (Start with a dribble)

Click here for instructions – this is the same dough I used for a caramelized onion-black olive galette. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the dough and blind bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Tart Filling
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Olive oil, for cooking
2-2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree, still warm, from a roasted pumpkin
1 cup heavy cream (I like Robie Farm’s Raw Heavy Cream)
1/3 cup sage leaves, fine chiffonade
3 eggs, beaten well
Salt, to taste

In a large sauté pan, heat oil and cook onions until browned and meltingly tender. Set aside.

While onions cook, remove flesh from cooked pumpkin and let cool. Meanwhile, combine heavy cream and sage in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let steep.

Once cool, combine the pumpkin with the eggs and mix well. Add in the cream and sage leaves, then season to taste.

Top the blind baked tart shell with the caramelized onions. Pour over the pumpkin mixture. Set the pie plate atop a baking sheet in case the filling drips. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, or until the filling is just set in the middle.

Let sit for 10-15 minutes, and then serve with a side salad topped with salty prosciutto crisps. Then refrigerate your leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.

*(I’d experimented with King Arthur Flour’s gluten-free all-purpose blend, which has no cornstarch or other allergens for me. It works for pancakes and such, but the crust seemed to melt into a puddle rather than brown. Never fear, because the filling set nicely once baked, but this is a mystery I’ll have to experiment with this winter.)