Tuesday, January 26, 2010
...or whatever you want. These crackers are the perfect hand to mouth delivery system for whatever you want to put on them. Seriously, they taste good on their own; kind of a cross between a gluteny saltine and a gluteny butter cracker. But they are neutral enough that you can put anything on them your heart desires.
I found these crackers about 6 months ago. I was looking for something different from the shiny and very crunchy rice crackers and uber seedy Mary's crackers that were out there. None of them went well with a variety of toppings. They were all too strong in taste or texture. Or just wrong for the things I was wanting to top them with. Then I looked at the top shelf in my local store and saw this unassuming box. It looks like packaging from the 70s. Not like the trendy and hip packaging that is all over the crackers aisle. When I read the label I was very nervous. They have almost nothing in them, how could they taste good? And they weren't cheap, but I was desperate for something new. I bought them. I love them. Now I stock up when they go on sale.
I used them on New Year's Eve when my husband and I indulged in our favorite tradition of bringing in the New Year stuffed with a variety of international, gourmet cheeses and cured meats. I spread them with my favorite triple-cream brie (St. Andre). I topped them with a piece of manchego and a morsel of quince paste. Delish! And don't get me started on the soft and tangy cheese that had a layer of black truffle in it....oh my!
I have used them in my lunch with tuna or chicken salad and even Toby's tofu pate. And recently I went back to something I enjoyed as a child (a very poor child at times), sardines. I remembered eating these little canned fish and not being bothered by their...wholeness (well, thankfully they don't have their heads). I knew they were loaded with omega-3s and because they are near the bottom of the food chain, they are also low in mercury. They are relatively inexpensive and low in calories. The water packed variety had a mere 100 calories for 13 grams of protein. And if you can tolerate the bones (which you can't tell are there as they are so soft and take on the feel and texture of the fish) you can get 45% of your daily requirement of calcium. And that only cost me $2. Wow!
And according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, sardines are an excellent choice as far as being eco-friendly and sustainable.
They come packed in water, oil (usually soybean or olive), mustard or piri piri (red pepper sauce).
I have to admit, I was a little nervous when I opened my first can of these little fish. I think I was under 10 the last time I ate them and hadn't had a single biology class. I hadn't been through college anatomy or marine biology classes. I also hadn't done 11 years of genetic research on a similarly small fish, spending time studying every aspect of their anatomy and their development.
So with great trepidation, I scooped the first little bit of fish on my cracker and quickly put it in my mouth. I didn't look too closely at the fish or allow my knowledge to contaminate my experience. Hmmmm....it was tasty and there was no weird texture; I couldn't even tell there were bones in there. Just fish. I like tuna, it was similar, but not as dry as canned tuna can get. It was good and it was filling. I didn't need a snack until I got home for dinner. I was sold.
Are you brave enough to try this inexpensive, healthy and eco-friendly tuna alternative? I dare you.
And if you are not brave enough for that, try the Ener-g crackers (I have no endorsement from them, they have never given me anything free, I just like them).
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
One of my favorite dishes is Mango-Basil Stir-Fry. I was intrigued the first time I read the description on the menu. It promised to be flavorful, spicy and sweet. I was up for something unique to I gave it a try. I was not disappointed. The flavors exploded in layers upon my tongue. It has Thai basil, mint and cilantro to round out the salty from the fish sauce, the sweet-tart from the mango and the savory green flavor from the broccoli. It was amazing. It brought broccoli to a new level of tasty for me.
But, I wanted to make it at home. I like to cook for myself and even though I have never gotten sick eating at this venue, there is always a chance...
Then, my January/February issue of Eating Well landed in my mailbox. At what to my amazed eyes should appear? A recipe for:
From EatingWell: January/February 2010No adaptations necessary; it is GF as long as you use GF Fish sauce. Thank you Eating Well!
Both ripe and underripe mango work well in this chicken and vegetable stir-fry. If the mangoes you have are less ripe, use 2 teaspoons brown sugar. If they’re ripe and sweet, just use 1 teaspoon or omit the brown sugar altogether.
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon GF fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
- 1 pound chicken breast or tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1-2 fresh small red or green chile peppers, stemmed and sliced, or 1/2-3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I have used a jalapeno pepper with great success)
- 4 cups bite-size broccoli florets
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, preferably Thai
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges (optional)
- Combine fish sauce, lime juice, cornstarch and brown sugar to taste in a small bowl.
- Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add chicken; cook, stirring, until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, garlic, ginger and chiles (or crushed red pepper) to the pan. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add broccoli and water; cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add mangoes and scallions; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the reserved sauce and chicken; cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in cilantro, basil and mint. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.
Be sure to stop by the Gluten Free Homemaker for the weekly "What can I eat that's gluten free?" carnival. You will find lots of good eatin' there.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
How about some of these flapjacks?
What is a flapjack? Is it slang for pancake? Does it mean more? I decided to find out. Here are the varying definitions that I found:
1. A flat cake turned on the griddle while cooking; a griddlecake or pancake. Hmmm, sort of.
3. Biscuit made from fat, sugar, rolled oats and syrup. Nope.
4. A thick pancake. Ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!
That perfectly describes these luscious circles of goodness. I found this recipe in the January 2006 issue of Cooking Light magazine back when I didn't know that gluten was slowly killing me.
I knew they would be good. I knew the sweet potatoes would add a moist, earthy sweetness, to the flapjacks that would be countered by the nutty pecans. I knew a generous stream of maple syrup oozing over the pat of butter and winding down the sides of the stack of steaming cakes would be divine. I knew I would love them.
But I live with, and love, a bunch of sweet tator haters. Gasp! (And I am talking about the orange-fleshed variety here; sometimes called yams.) Yes, despite the health benefits, my immediate and extended family members wrinkle their noses at the mere suggestion of the orange flesh crossing their lips. Some of them even think that they don't like pecans. I practically had to bribe them to try them. And once they did, they were in love too. It is one of my most requested recipes. I make them for any guests that stay overnight and sneak them in as dinner once in awhile. My whole family loves them; even my kids and my DH, Mr. Picky.
When I went gluten free these flapjacks were one of the things that I mourned. Then I started reading blogs and getting brave. And finally I decided to adapt the recipe to fit my gluten-free needs. I tried mixing my own flours, adding/not adding xanthan gum, etc. Finally I tried the Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-purpose flour. Normally this one is not my favs as I can taste the garbanzo flour. But it works. The flapjacks came out perfectly. I still want to try it with some of the other GF AP flour blends out there, but I haven't had the time to continue the experiments. If you try it with your favorite AP flour, please let me know how it turns out.
I have used canned sweet potatoes without any extras, but can't always find them in the store. I think they turn out best when I bake the orange potatoes the night before and toss them in the fridge to cool. The next morning the flesh is easy to scoop out, smash and measure.
Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Pecan Flapjacks
(adapted from Cooking Light, January 2006)
Makes 12 pancakes (I always double this recipe)
1 1/4 cups gluten free all-purpose flour (about 5 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup fat-free milk
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato (the kind with the orange flesh, call them yams if you must)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I like to add an extra splash)
2 large eggs, separated
I weigh the flour, but you can lightly spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife.
Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
Combine milk, sweet potato, sugar, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks, stirring until smooth; add to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
Beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form; fold egg whites into batter. I have even been successful with stiff peaks, so don't stress too much.
Let batter stand 10 minutes (very important).
Heat a nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. I use an electric frying pan set to 350 degrees. Coat pan with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle or pan. It will be very thick, but will spread slightly. Cook 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Carefully turn pancakes over, and cook 2 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned.
You can keep them warm on an oven-proof plate in a 200 degree oven. This is the way I have to do it if I want to eat any of them. Otherwise they disappear before I get to the table.
I am making them for some of my best girlfriends this weekend. We are all escaping to the coast for a kid-free weekend of crafting, eating, drinking and fun.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
For the December edition of Adopt A Blogger I adopted Brian at Fire and Salt. I love Brian's blog and his recipes are fantastic. I chose to make and review his recipe for Oregon Clam Chowder. I would have made this recipe without the Adopt a Blogger event, but I thought it was a perfect choice for the drizzly, cold winter days we have here in December and January.
I have to say that I LOVE CLAM CHOWDER (New Enland style, that is)!!! I have missed it terribly. While I could have adapted any old recipe, I didn't. I wouldn't even know what recipe to start with because I never made it at home before being GF.
When my husband and I took a two and half week driving tour of New England (ahhh, life before kids) we ordered clam chowder at every single restaurant that served it. It was New England, home of the chowder, so why not? Somewhere I have a journal of our trip that has ratings for each and every clam chowder we tasted. We gave them clam ratings. 1-5 clams; 5 was the best. Most were very good (4 clams), some tasted like they came out of a can...or a shoe. We ate at fancy places and shacks, but I distinctly remember our favorite was from a funny little place called Bubba's in Provincetown, MA. Mmmmm. I only had my memories until now.
Brian's recipe was spot on. It was clear and easy to follow and I did follow it exactly. I used Bar Harbor clams and clam juice because I had read a review in Cook's Illustrated that recommended that brand. And I used Jill's flour blend because I had some on hand. The result was nothing short of fabulous. It was thick and creamy, savory and salty. It was some of the best chowder I have ever eaten. I would definitely give it 5 clams!
My husband and son devoured their portions. My daughter doesn't like potatoes, clams, soup, celery,creamy stuff, etc so her opinion was not sought for this review. DH gave me his ultimate approval: make it anytime you want: make it tomorrow please.
Thanks Brian! As usual, this one was a winner.