Archive for April, 2009

Celebration Meal

April 20, 2009

Tonight’s dinner is all Mark Bittman’s fault.

Well, in reality, he shares part of the blame with Gordon Ramsay. Let’s be fair to poor Mr. Bittman.
I had a doctor’s appointment this morning and ended up spending the day at home. I’m actually glad, because there was a torrential downpour going on when I woke up. Sitting in my living room, I watched as the rain slashed through the flowering cherry trees outside my window, scattering petals hither and thon, and I thought “I need something warm and filling tonight.
I’ve termed this a celebration meal because several things are going on that I feel need celebrating. 1) Keith is almost done with his class at BU! It’s been a difficult one and he’s very stressed about finishing it, so I thought that I would provide some incentive. 2) I got a new cookbook this weekend: “Mark Bittman takes on America’s Chefs”! Cookbooks are one thing that I don’t feel bad buying anymore. I used to feel like they were a luxury unless I KNEW they were amazing before I bought them. No more. I am buying cookbooks with abandon and expanding my horizons. You can’t go wrong with more food options when you’re eating gluten free! 3) I’ve decided that as bad as my job is, there are people out there that are worse off. People that don’t have jobs at all and are trying to take care of their families. I will not complain anymore.
So these glorious and transcendent chefs have inspired this evening’s menu. I watched Gordon Ramsay prepare a chicken (nothing like this one) but it made me want roasted chicken SO badly, I went out and bought a beautiful little organic bird and roast it up with some thyme, lemon and garlic. Yum!
Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Thyme and Garlic
1 whole organic chicken, washed, pin feathers plucked, and giblets removed (don’t forget this part!)
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 small bunch thyme
4-6 cloves garlic, smashed
sea salt
coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2) Stuff clean chicken with lemon, thyme, and garlic and 1 tablespoon salt
3) Place chicken breast side up in roasting pan. Brush on melted butter and sprinkle on salt and pepper
4) Roast for approximately 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the thickest part of the thigh yields clear juices.

I served this with steamed asparagus with butter and lemon, and a risotto with parmesan cheese, white wine, and lemon. YUM.
You didn’t think I was going to forget dessert did you? This one was Bittman’s fault entirely. The cookbook that I bought has a recipe for Chocolate Pear Cake by Anna Klinger, and it looked really easy to modify to be gluten free. This was AMAZING.

Gluten Free Chocolate Pear Cake
Serves about 8

8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for buttering the pan
1 cup fine plain gluten free bread crumbs (I used almond meal and it was really good!)
1 cup gluten free flour mix*
1 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder
3 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
3 ripe pears, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
3/4 c. roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate

1) Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Liberally butter a 9-inch springform pan. Add the bread crumbs or almond meal to the pan and swirl to coat bottom and sides. Tap out the excess and reserve. Sift or stir together the flour mix and baking powder.

2) Put the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat them on high for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until they’re light, frothy, and pale yellow. Then with the mixer still running, add the sugar in a slow steady stream. Beat for another minute and then beat in the flour mix with baking powder and melted butter.

3) Pour the batter into the springform pan, arrange the pears in a single layer over the batter, and scatter the chopped chocolate over the pears. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes, unmold, and serve warm.

*I made up my own flour mixture for this cake. The recipe is as follows. With these amounts, I only had about 1/4 of a cup left over.

Gluten Free Flour Mix
1/4 c. tapioca starch
1/4 c. brown rice flour
1/4 c. sweet white rice flour
1/2 c. almond meal (i just used the excess from the pan)
1 tsp xanthan gum

Whisk together. If you are making extra and keeping it, either freeze or refridgerate since there is a nut meal involved, which can go rancid quickly.

Ginger Lemon Girl’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

April 17, 2009

It’s spring outside! It was glorious and warm today, the flowering cherries were producing pollen and the bees were loving it. Everyone was out and about and in better moods than they were a week ago, when the weather was gray and cold. Thank goodness!

This past week when it was freezing cold, I started feeling like I needed some comfort food again. I had had enough of casseroles and soups and hot breads, but I did come up with something that I haven’t attempted much since going gluten free: cookies.

Yeah I know, I experimented once with these. And they were pretty good, too. But they still didn’t taste like the glutinous oatmeal raisin cookies my mom made. I guess what I’m really learning to accept is that you have to take gluten-free treats for what they are, rather than trying to make them taste like what you were used to back before you went gluten-free. You’ll always be disappointed if you don’t let go of the notion that things will be the same.

Although my waistline has slowly been deflating after the holidays, I wouldn’t resist making a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I saw this recipe bandied about on the gluten-free blogs, described as “the best ever!”, “ better than before I gave up gluten”…well hell, how could I not try these? Ginger Lemon Girl has formulated a chocolate chip cookie that is delicious. They came out thinner and a little crisper than I prefer, but they were tasty tasty! I highly reccommend these, as they are not complicated and mostly take things that you probably already have 🙂 The one adjustment that I would probably make next time is chilling the dough for an hour before baking, regardless of whether you use butter or Crisco. For what it’s worth, I used Crisco and they were awesome. I also did use the optional xanthan gum, which i think was probably wise because as they cooled and sat around for a few days, they became crumblier and I can’t imagine what they might have been like without the xanthan gum. The notes on the recipe are the original author’s, not mine, but I found them to be incredibly helpful.

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies (Before or After going Gluten-Free!)

*1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco (or butter)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum (optional)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 oz. GF chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl: cream butter with sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix together flours, salt, xanthan gum (opt.), baking powder, and baking soda. Slowly add flour mixture to butter and sugar mixture. Last, mix in chocolate chips. Place golf-ball sized dough portions 2 inches apart on an UNGREASED cookie sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes or JUST UNTIL edges are light brown.(The cookies WILL NOT look completely cooked when you pull them out of the oven! That’s what you want! That’s part of the secret to these awesome cookies! DO NOT overbake them!)Let cookies cool on a wire baking rack or the cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes. This will allow cookies to retain their shape for eating!
This recipe doubles easily.

*Note: Normally, I do NOT like using shortening for baking because it is a trans-fat, and therefore really not good for you. BUT since we only make these cookies occasionally, and since shortening really seems to make a better gluten-free cookie than butter (for reasons why visit Sea’s cookie review), we stick to using a butter flavored shortening.Also, xanthan gum is completely optional in this recipe, but I think adding just a tiny bit makes for a chewier gluten-free cookie!

UPDATE: These cookies WILL RUN if you choose to use all butter, or margarine, and leave out the shortening completely! If you choose NOT to use shortening, make sure to refrigerate your dough for several hours before baking, this will help to alleviate the cookies spreading too much. Also, the size of the dough placed on the cookie sheet needs to be about 2 tablespoons worth of dough, not necessarily the size of a golf ball, as stated originally in the recipe! Make them as large or small as you desire — you will have to cook them longer if they are larger!! It also helps to bake these cookies on a silpat mat or parchment paper to prevent spreading.

Cyborg Hands….I’ll be back.

April 7, 2009

My fair readers, please do not give up on me. I have been taking a break for the health of my hands. Apparently I have developed flexor tendonitis from too much typing. I am currently wearing the world’s ugliest hand brace and have been cheerfully joking with my boyfriend that I feel like a cyborg.

I promise that new recipes and musings will come soon. For now, I need to rest and keep my cyborg hand heated. Please don’t stop coming back to check for updates. I swear I won’t abandon you for much longer.

While I’m away, make sure you are eating all the yummy gluten free treats that abound around Passover time! Keith and I found some black and white cookies at Wegman’s that were to DIE FOR. Really really really bad for you, but incredibly tasty. Good thing Passover only comes once per year 🙂