Sep 19 2014

Easy Turkey Breast Tenderloins

Published by under dinner,Holidays,turkey

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Thanksgiving Dinner, anytime.

While shopping at one of my favorite stores (love most things there, with the exception of the excess packaging), I spied these gigantic turkey breast tenderloins. They looked kind of funny, and I thought, many times, “what the heck would you do with those huge things?”. But, I was intrigued. I wanted to try them. The packages were anywhere from 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of meat. A lot, but it could be good for a meal with leftovers. And, the tenderloin part of the turkey breast might be a little more moist when cooked – especially given the weight, you could cook it fast without over cooking.

One of my concerns, though, was how to keep the outside of the turkey moist without coating it with breadcrumbs (not gf and kind of messy and more work than I wanted). Bacon, baby.

So, I took the plunge a while ago and made a very easy turkey breast tender dinner. Imagine 45 minutes to prepare a pretty delicious Thanksgiving, without any fuss. It just took me a while to post this.

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Turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. You can even roast the sweet potatoes in the oven with the turkey. Zero clean up for either one if you line the roasting pan with foil. Done and done!
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Apr 02 2014

Gluten Free Buckwheat Crepes

Published by under breakfast,dessert,Gluten Free

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Yet another item on J’s favorites became off limits when she stopped eating wheat: crepes. She has loved them ever since she was a baby. We spent time in France for S’s job, the first time when J was only 11 months old. These were not long-term relocations. Instead, they were short term stints – 3-4 weeks – where we accompanied him on long-term business trips. As glamorous as that sounds, it was hard to pick up from your routine and build a new routine in a new city with few friends and babies’ schedules. On the other hand, it was pretty sweet.

Back to the crepes though….

Near our apartment, a nice walk away to take les petites filles in their unwieldy double stoller (a old, heavy, Sit ‘n Stand), was a little crepe restaurant that had about 6 tables and served nothing but savory and sweet crepes. We would go there and I’d somehow maneuver the stroller in. L (2 1/2) would hold J (11 months) while I would fold the stroller (no high chairs). I’d get all of our winter layers off. We’d all offer a sigh of relief as we sat down to order our meal. The girls favorite was a ham and cheese crepe, which I positioned as a “French Quesadilla”. It was one of my many little “stories” (like Louis XIV’s famous edict “no complaining at the castle”) to help them behave, relate the foreign culture to our own, and have a bit of fun. They were hooked on the french style quesadilla. For dessert we usually had a simple crepe buerre et sucre. Still my personal favorite.

One excursion to this little restaurant was on a particularly raw, damp, cold day. We were literally steaming as we entered the warm restaurant environment. The girls and I had a nice little lunch. Everyone, myself included, was on best behavior. I managed to open the stroller, getting ready to leave, got J (in her warm snowsuit) into the contraption. Then, I set about getting L zipped up. At the time, and not so different from now, she was a cherubic visage – blond, wispy, curly hair; blue, blue eyes with long lashes; and a heart shaped, red mouth. She gave me a big kiss and hug as I was wrestling her into her outerwear and the entire restaurant broke into spontaneous applause. I had no idea anyone was watching. But the place was so tiny, how could they help it. A proud parenting moment.

So, how can I help trying to satisfy J and L’s love of crepes? Now, I make a gluten free variety.
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Mar 01 2014

Challah – Regular and Gluten-Free

Published by under bread,Gluten Free,Holidays

Challah

We are going to some friends for shabbat dinner tonight and I’m bringing the challah. I bake bread every chance I get these days, since those opportunities are so rare given our gf J. This time I decided to try to make an additional loaf of Gluten Free Challah. I always feel so badly for J that she should miss out on some of her favorite flavors and foods.

Gluten free breads are not difficult to make, but the process is quite different from traditional breads. There are good recipes (“good” being a relatively loose term) and horrible ones (mostly). In my search for a good one, today, I hit the jackpot. One thing to know is that gf breads have a different texture when fully baked, but also a very different texture when in their “dough” form. The dough is more like a thick batter than a dough. The challah dough that I made, for example, is spooned into a bread pan – it definitely can not be braided. I also read on a website, that it is important to cook the bread to a minimal internal temperature of 200 degrees – preferably a bit higher (mine was about 208 degrees and is still very moist inside).

GF Challah

J was thrilled when I brought her a little piece of the challah when I picked her up at school. I had made a little roll with some of the excess dough so that I wouldn’t have to cut into the big loaf. Truthfully, I think the roll came out even better than the bread loaf. But, the loaf came out so well, I immediately ordered a challah mold so that I can make the GF Challah look like the real deal. It is particularly delicious toasted.

Here is a link to the Gluten Free Challah recipe. Note that I think the salt used in the recipe is table salt. Since I use kosher salt, I had to add a bit more (1 tsp.). Also, since I use a rapid rise yeast, I used a little less of that and the rising times were a little bit shorter (45 minutes and 40 minutes).

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Nov 17 2013

I Like Pie

Published by under Holidays,Pie

It’s that time of year again. Apple Pie. Mmmmm.

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Nov 02 2013

Gluten Free Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

Published by under cake,Gluten Free,Holidays


I made these gluten free pumpkin ginger cupcakes with J for the culinary club at her high school a couple of weeks back. They were a big hit. Today, I made them for an event at L’s high school and made them in mini-muffin tins. I do this so that J has a dessert that she can eat at the school event. The cupcakes are from a recent issue of Food and Wine Magazine and are divine. I did not “gild the lily” with the caramel sauce that they add. Really, that would be insane, as there is already about 1 1/2 lbs. of sugar in the recipe when you count the frosting, not to mention the 3/4 cup oil in the cupcakes and the 6 oz. marscapone and 6 oz. cream cheese. I don’t think heavy cream and sugar are necessary additions, but if you feel like it, go for it! Instead of caramel, I just sprinkle on a little plain ground cinnamon for looks and taste.

I modified the recipe slightly today because I didn’t have the exact flours on hand. Instead of the rice and tapioca flour, I added an equivalent total amount of Jeanne’s Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Mix. I couldn’t tell any difference and it was a bit easier to use what I had on hand. I will definitely keep using the prepared flour mix instead of the individual flours. The frosting is absolutely perfect as written. I never realized how much easier it is to frost cupcakes using a pastry bag. Prettier, with a higher frosting to cake ratio. That works for me. Especially with this frosting. Mmmm.

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Oct 21 2013

Pea Soup

Published by under food,soup,vegetables

This is a very basic, healthy (well, except for the smoked ham, I guess), very easy, delicious, soul gratifying split pea soup. There is absolutely nothing fancy about it. It doesn’t get much simpler. My friend SA said that she wanted to make pea soup and so I thought I would give her my recipe. Seriously, SA, you need to make this.

The only thing that I think makes this even more delicious than it already is: a really good grilled cheese sandwich. Either one alone is wonderful. Together, they make quite a meal. Tonight, S, J, L and I slurped and munched quite happily on just that meal. It finally feels like autumn. It is soup time of year.

Pea Soup
makes 6 big bowls, plus some extra
refrigerates and freezes very well

16 oz. (1 bag) split green (or yellow) peas, rinsed and picked over for any strange beans
1 smoked, meaty ham hock/shank bone, cut into 3 pieces by the butcher
1 large yellow onion, 1/2 inch dice
1 large rib of celery, 1/2 inch dice
1 large carrot, 1/2 inch dice
1 bay leaf
8 cups of water
pepper and salt to taste

Put all the ingredients into a soup pot (5 quart should do).

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Skim off the foam and discard. Cover and turn the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour, until the beans have all fallen apart.

The soup may seem thin – that is o.k., it will thicken as it cools slightly (when it is cold, it will be a block of soup). Turn the heat off. Remove the ham hocks to a plate and discard the bay leaf. Cut the ham off the bone and put it back in the soup, discard the bones. Season the soup with pepper and salt to taste (CAUTION: you may not need any salt because the ham hock is fairly salty already).

That’s it. And, if you don’t feel like using any meat, don’t. Just put in a couple of smashed cloves of garlic when you are cooking everything together. You’ll likely need salt. Or, if you don’t feel like getting a ham hock, just fry up some diced bacon, discard the fat and proceed. Infinite possibilities to add herbs, other meats or vegetables. But, eh, why bother. I like it this way the best.

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Sep 01 2013

Gluten Free Pot Stickers

J is still committed to maintaining a gluten-free diet. It really has not been that difficult to convert basic recipes for baking, though we haven’t broached many pies yet. What is a bit more difficult is savory foods that don’t have GF alternatives. Sure, you can get some pretty good GF pastas and breads. There are GF crackers, pretzels and pizza crusts available, too. We eat a lot of rice, quinoa and polenta, instead of other starches. Cooking at home has not been vastly altered by her diet. In fact, we eat more vegetables now and less starches because we realize that we don’t really need or crave a starch at many meals.

The biggest “food group” that we have trouble with is Asian cuisine. And, this was a major food group for J before her conversion to GF. She was a big fan of all Asian cuisines – Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese. You name it. But, most restaurants use heavy doses of soy sauce in preparation and marinades, and traditional soy sauce contains wheat. Thai restaurants seem to be the only ones where she can find something on the menu that she can be sure won’t have gluten. We bought a very good cookbook called “The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen”, by Laura B. Russell, which has given us a lot of inspiration for making our own Asian food.

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Mar 16 2013

Very Sweet 16 Cake

Published by under cake

L asked me to make Smitten Kitchen’s Pistachio Petit-Four Cake for her sweet 16. I’ve never made a cake this complicated (actually, strike that, I probably have) that uses so many different ingredients and requires such an exacting touch. I can’t believe I finished it, marzipan roses and all. L makes the prettiest roses with fondant. I hope she likes these!

We’ll need to have very small pieces of this cake. It is incredibly rich and sweet. Can’t wait to taste it tonight after the song has been sung, the wishes have been wished, and the candles are blown out. I can’t believe she’s 16 already. Sniff, sniff.

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Feb 14 2013

Strawberry Eclairs for Valentine’s Day

Published by under dessert,Holidays

I’m not a big Valentine’s Day celebrant. You should definitely treat every day as one to express your love, I think. Still, the food on Valentine’s Day is great and I’m never one to ignor a chance to bake something special. I made these mini strawberry eclairs today for staff appreciation day at L’s school. Parents bring in treats for the staff at her school on Valentine’s Day every year. A great tradition.

These are not gluten free, but could easily have been if I had made a GF choux pastry (like in the post I just did) and used a corn starch based pastry cream. With these, I just made a typical choux pastry (1 cup water, 1 stick unsalted butter, pinch salt, 1 cup flour, 5 eggs), piped it in 3-inch (or so) lines using a 1/2-inch pastry tip onto a parchment covered pan, and baked it at 400 degrees for 20-ish minutes. That simple recipe made a LOT of little eclair shells (45+). Then I made a pastry cream and lightened it with whipped cream. Chopped up some strawberries. Put it all together and VOILA. Actually, it was a lot of steps and took a while, but it was pretty easy and fun. I used white cupcake papers to make the eclairs easier to keep separate and easier to grab, and it looked kind of professional that way.

They taste like little, light strawberry shortcakes. Scrumptious.

Now, what do I make for the family? Something chocolate, I would imagine. I wonder if my old standby hot chocolate cake recipe would work with GF Flour? Hmmmmm. {YES it worked perfectly! I actually made 1/2 the recipe, since there are only 4 of us – I even wasted, which I hate doing, 1 egg white and half an egg yolk so that I could put in 1/2 an egg yolk. Girls were so surprised and very, very pleased. We love this cake.}

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Feb 05 2013

Gluten Free Chou Pastry – Chouquettes

I’ve been trying my hand at lots of gluten free baked goods using regular recipes with a gluten free flour mix. Many have been very successful. Today, I made a chou paste – using a very traditional ratio (I actually halved the usual recipe – so I used 1/2 stick butter, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup gf flour mix and 3 eggs) . It needed slightly more egg than I thought it would – a full 3 large eggs, versus 2 1/2 that I think I would have used if using regular flour). 400 degrees for 23 minutes or so. Delicious.

J is soooo happy.

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