Sunday, March 30, 2008

GF croutons and 2 different kinds of soup.

This weekend here in LA...chilly. Saturday morning, we headed on down to the farmers market and picked up some of the usual produce. J is finally feeling like eating vegetables and such, so I was happy to hear that.

So, J wanted to have potato leek soup and we got ingredients for that as well as some other things I was thinking of making.

I don't think I've ever posted a potato leek soup recipe, but it's really, really easy. I've made it a bunch of times and like a lot of the things I've made more than a few times(this doesn't include baked items), I don't need to follow a recipe. It's all in my head somewhere.

Here's an older post with pictures of the potato leek soup with chives as a garnish.

Sometimes I'll add a few shallots to the recipe just for fun as I did in that above link. Just go to Google and do a search for a potato leek soup recipe and you'll be in good hands.

So, after I made the potato leek soup, J had the good idea of making GF croutons. We had bread that we had made and it was in the fridge. So, she cut them into slices and then into cubes. Olive oil into the skillet, when hot, add the bread and make sure the heat isn't too high because otherwise, they'll burn. She also added dried oregano. garlic powder and sea salt to taste. -(Make sure that you cook one side of the croutons FIRST before adding the herbs and seasoning. )- Why? Well, if you add it early, nothing will stick to the bread and it'll all fall off into the skillet and burn. If you cook one side first, the bread is coated in olive oil and everything will stick and add flavor.

After making sure one side was browned, she turned them over to brown the other side. Seem like a lot of work? Well, not really. The results are fantastic and any really GOOD restaurant should make their croutons in the restaurant, not order them in.

Crunchy, tasty GF croutons with potato leek soup. I'm glad she wanted to make croutons because it adds a contrasting texture element to the soup as well as some really good flavor. Very warming for those cold days like Saturday was and it actually rained Saturday night.

A Meyer lemon comparison.

Growing up, we always had lemons in the backyard from a lemon tree my grandfather(carpenter/fisherman/gardener extraordinaire and one of the greatest people I know) planted a really long time ago. When I was a kid, I never knew why the lemons in our backyard had 4-5 times more juice than lemons from a grocery store and weren't as sour. Well, enter the Meyer Lemon.

My mom gave us a bunch last week and they were used for various culinary delights, but I used almost all of them for freshly made lemonade. Each of the home-grown lemons easily had 5 tablespoons of juice.

So, below....the Meyer lemon on the left is from the FM and the one on the right is from my parents' backyard. No, there is nothing wrong with the color calibration on your monitor. The FM lemon is actually orange like an orange and the one from my parents' is a deep, bright yellow. They both taste the same.

J didn't believe me when I told her that I saw orange Meyer lemons a month ago at the FM. Now she does.

Ok, so on to the second soup! This one in particular is menudo(Mexican tripe soup)-inspired.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that tripe is one of my favorite things to eat and I like it most in menudo or made chinese style with ginger, some soy and thinly sliced scallions on top. I know...gross you say! Well, to me if you eat ANY kind of animal protein, you had better be eating and enjoying almost everything on the creature. To not do so disrespects the thing that died in order for you to eat and it's boring. Severely boring. I can go on all day and night talking about that, but let's get back to the soup!

I didn't take a picture of all of the ingredients, but I'll list them here:

-3 Tbs of olive oil
-1 large can of hominy
-tomato paste
-tomato sauce
-4 to 5 large, chopped carrots
-1/4 small cabbage, thinly sliced
-4 to 5 garlic cloves(adjust to your personal preference, I like a lot of garlic)
-3 shallots(or half an onion), finely diced
-1 container of GF organic, low sodium, chicken broth
-Sea salt to taste
-2 Tbs Ground Mexican oregano(you can find this in LA easily at most stores in the 'ethnic' aisle)
-4 Tbs Ground New Mexico chiles(you can find this in LA easily at most stores in the 'ethnic' aisle)
-Mexican hot sauce(optional) I use Cholula or Tapatio in addition because I like really spicy food.
-Cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in the pot at medium heat and add shallots, garlic and carrots. When shallots are almost translucent, add hominy and cabbage. The extra water from adding the hominy will prevent the garlic from burning(also why you should cook over medium heat). Add the ground oregano and chile as well as season with some salt to taste.

After carrots have softened and the hominy is partially cooked through, add the entire box of chicken stock (and water if you wish to thin the soup). Also add 2 Tbs of tomato paste and 1 cup of tomato sauce. Stir until paste is broken up and incorporated. Let simmer for 15-20 more minutes or until carrots are cooked through and no longer crisp.

Pour soup in a bowl, add a squeeze of lime and add chopped cilantro on top for garnish.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

No sugar marshmallows and rice crispies! and deviled eggs..

Didn't we just make something for a special occasion?

It feels like later in the year when it's Thanksgiving, my birthday/my dad's birthday, my brother's birthday and then Christmas. Non-stop cooking.

Well, anyways...Happy Easter! Colored eggs courtesy of J.

So, how onto this recipe. It doesn't have anything to do with Easter at all. J wanted to make homemade marshmallows from agave nectar and gelatin. So, we did.

You can find the exact recipe here.

I forgot the exact amounts for the gelatin.

In a mixing bowl, add gelatin to warm water and mix until mostly combined. Add 2 cups of agave nectar and a pinch of salt. Use a hand blender and blend for about 15 minutes until fluffy. In a glass baking dish, sprinkle and spread cornstarch so that the marshmallow mixture won't stick.

Use a lightly oiled spatula to spread the mixture out until almost completely flat and even all around. Let it cool and set for 3 hours(overnight like we did.) Our baking dish has a cover, so cover with saran wrap, tinfoil or whatever when cooled down.

On a large, flat surface(such as a cutting board), sprinkle and spread some cornstarch and then pull out your marshmallows to cut into squares. I'd cut them into long strips or smaller chunks so that it's easier to get out of the baking dish before cutting into smaller squares.

The end result. Light and fluffy.

So, after we made the marshmallows, J wanted to make some GF 'Rice Krispy' treats. FYI-Rice Krispies are NOT GF. That's why we bought the product below.

You can get the recipe off of Kellog's website, but this is an all too familiar recipe for me since I made it growing up.

Melt 3 Tbs of butter on low heat.

Throw in homemade marshmallows(1 1/2 cups if using pre-made marshmallows)and stir until melted.

Add crispy brown rice, stir to incorporate.

We actually added more marshmallows than the recipe called for and we were discussing the texture later. We noticed that in using the brown rice(Rice Krispies are made with white rice to my knowledge) they didn't absorb the moisture of the marshmallows like RK would and the homemade marshmallows weren't as heavy, sticky or dense compared to a normal marshmallow.

Why? Well, first of all, corn syrup and regular sugar. Did I miss that? No, not at all. These were light and they had that crunch and sweetness. My sisters swore we added something else to it besides what we told them, but it was just that we used brown rice and agave nectar.

Almost completely cooled.

Cut, arranged and ready to eat. No, these did not last long after dinner.

Well, what's Easter without more eggs?

We buy our eggs at the farmers market. I love these things. One of the most versatile products in the culinary realm. The ones we buy? Cage-free, jumbo brown eggs. $4 for 20 eggs. Sounds good to me. A dozen cage-free organic brown eggs is just about $4 at Whole Foods.

So, J wanted deviled eggs and well, here are the ingredients. I ran out of dry mustard power quite a while ago and I used the pre-made stuff instead. For half of the eggs, I added pickles and the other half, I didn't.

A few of the tasty treats. I think I made about 15 eggs worth for today. They were also devoured later on.

The last thing we made was a salad. Mixed 'gourmet' greens with shredded carrots, cucumbers, crumbled goat's cheese with a vinaigrette. Complete with edible flower on top..

Friday, March 21, 2008

Yummy sugar free, peanut free, nutty granola bars!

These granola bars remind me of how the Quaker chewy granola bars taste- except these are crunchy. They are sweet but I used sweetened crispy rice instead of regular. I based this recipe of of the tasty looking recipe on
Yay for processed sugar free granola bars!
That recipe had a bunch of things that I am intolerant to (peanut butter and coconut, cocoa nibs) or that I just didn't have. Here's what worked for me:

Sugar Free, Peanut Free, Nutty Granola Bars

1 1/4 c chopped almonds
2 C gluten free oats
1 1/2 c gluten free crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup raisins ( or more if you like more)

Toast oats and almonds on a pan at 350 for about 8 -10 minutes, stirring every 4- 5 minutes to make sure they aren't burning.
Let cool a little then combine with crispy rice and raisins in a metal or glass bowl

Next combine in a pot
1/4 cup agave syrup (can be found at Trader Joes)
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 cup soynut butter (or you could try almond butter or peanut butter)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 - 3/4 tsp salt

bring to a boil over medium heat, after it boils turn down the heat to low/med. Boil about 5 minutes, until it thickens a bit.

Pour over oat/ rice mixture and stir to combine.

Spread it out onto a lightly greased pan and put into the fridge until they start to get crispy. Cut up and store in the fridge.
I ate them up in only a few days- I wish I had more now.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Gluten Free Ireland 2006!

Alright, here it is. I wanted to do this way earlier, but I've been working all the time and it's been hard to actually sit down and get some time to post something about our first trip to Ireland. We first went back in 2006 with J's parents and we had a blast.

This is a ridiculously long post, so get ready to read.

I'd really like to do a chronological narrative travelogue to accompany the photos like I've always done because it makes for a much better read, but I have to go prep all of the veg and start the corned beef!


Aird Mhor is the Gaelic(Irish) spelling in case you were wondering. J's mother's side came from Ardmore to New York, eventually settling in NYC like many Irish families did long ago.

The beach at Ardmore.

So, black pudding(blood sausage)....what is it? Well, black pudding in Ireland is made out of blood, fat, oatmeal and some grains. Recipes differ from region to region and every country has their version of blood sausage. The particular kind that is pictured below is I think Clonakilty black pudding and it's very popular. This kind is NOT GF, but when we were walking around Dublin and Galway(two of the largest cities in Ireland), they did have GF versions that were a different brand. This is usually included in the mammoth Traditional Irish breakfast and depending on the doneness of the black pudding, it is mushy or just right. I prefer mine cooked through with a tiny bit of crispiness on the outside.

So, what is that? Well yes, that is a selection of GF bread inside of Tesco in Dublin. Almost EVERY city we've been to no matter how small it was and no matter what store it was had a selection of GF food. We found that amazing and it made traveling much, much easier on J and her mother. There are larger quantities available than in the following 2 pictures. There are more further down in this post.

This is a place called Lynhams. It's a carvery-style place that had some decent food. I had some really good curry. Not sure if that was GF, but J did get a GF meal and she did ask the chef before she ordered to confirm. The great thing about Ireland is that almost everybody you talk to at B&B's or restaurants knows what Celiac(Coeliac in Ireland) is because it is one of the countries where Celiac disease and GF options are very prevalent.

J got a lunch consisting of cabbage, potatoes, rice and carrots.

Below is dinner at the Charthouse in Dingle. I can't remember what the fish was, but it was probably Pollack. When you eat at these restaurants or any restaurant around the world in general, you have to make sure to ask about fish dishes because some place DO dredge the fish in flour to give it a crisp coating.

I'm almost positive this was European Plaice(a type of fish) and is local product.

I had an appetizer of local cooked oysters and they were good, but I definitely prefer raw oysters for sure. The time we were in Ireland, the world famous Galway Oyster Festival was going to happen. We left the day it started though.

These are the Cliffs of Moher. Or....umm...what we could see of them. The wind and rain during some days were almost hurricane-strength. I've never seen rain and wind like that in my life. Ireland had the tail-end of a hurricane that was off of the east coast of the US and unfortunately, we were feeling the effects during our trip.

A delicious plate of local Mussels in Cohb.

More GF goodness. This time, GF cookies and biscuits.

Cows right near the beach in Garretstown. While J and her parents were walking around town in Kinsale, I took the car over to Garretstown for a fishing session.

We bought these in Dublin and J was really glad to be snacking on something.

J on the shores of Dingle harbor.

J had this meal in Galway. It was fresh Irish Salmon with local prawns. J had a really hard time eating so much fish almost everyday. I forgot the name of this restaurant, but the food was pretty good. When traveling around the world, eat local food. You're there and only going to have that one chance to eat local products. Irish prawns and Salmon are so very delicious.

Seafood chowder. One of the best things to eat in Ireland if you're looking for comfort-type food. This version is of course GF. I had it and J's mom had it as well. The ingredients? It could be any type of fish. Salmon, Pollack, Haddock, Plaice as well as cockles, prawns, mussels, cream, milk, parsley. Really, really good and warming on those cold, rainy days/night we were there.

The large, GF aisle in Tesco.

We bought all of this in Dublin for J to eat in case she couldn't find anything when we were going places.

Ok, another shot from Cohb. Confusing, huh? J's mom ordered a ham and cheese platter and she brought her own GF crackers.

The Traditional Full Irish Breakfast.

Heart attack on a plate, but you can't get this anywhere else. The full English breakfast is similar. Irish rashers(bacon that is very different than American bacon), eggs cooked the way of choice, baked beans(strange, huh?), black pudding, white pudding, fried potatoes, sausages and a tomato. Whew! Now, like I've said, the black, white puddings as well as the sausage might not be GF. That's one of the main reasons why J ate so much fish at the B&B's while we were there. There is usually a really large selection of things to eat at a B&B. They have all sorts of cheeses, fruit, yogurt, porridge, cereal as well as a menu to order certain things such as the Irish breakfast as shown below.

In Ireland, ALL of the oatmeal are kept in separate silos from wheat. So, you can get oatmeal anywhere. We didn't know this the first time we went, so J didn't eat any.

Jim Edwards restaurant in Kinsale.

J ordered fish.

Self explanatory, John Benny's pub in Dingle. The food that we ordered was ok. J ordered the prawns and they weren't as good as the place she ordered prawns at in Kinsale. The waitress knew what items were GF and that was great.

Now, don't get confused. This store in Dublin is called 'Kilkenny'. That is also the name of a city in Ireland and J kept getting confused when I kept talking about the store and the actual city that we stayed in later on. Inside the store, it has a cafe which has GF things to eat! I know it's hard to see, but on the second line of the menu, you can see that is says 'Organic, yeast free, wheat and gluten free...' You can get ANY sandwich they had on the menu on GF bread.

How cool is that?

J was SO happy because at this point, we hadn't slept in a really, really long time and we were all really hungry. We weren't able to sleep on the flight over from JFK because these kids were crying and running around. The flight was overnight and when we arrived in Dublin, it was the morning.

GF sandwich!
GF scone!
Breakfast at the B&B in Kinsale. Fresh Pollack with scrambled eggs.

The usual Irish street. Does it seem a little small? Well, it is. Thankfully, it's a one-way street. Most streets and roads in Ireland(unless you're in a really large city or on the Motorway) will be the size of a small, European car.....and as we've experienced, there are cars coming towards you. Driving in Ireland is a hair-raising, adrenaline-filled, life flashing before your eyes, cardiac arrest-inducing experience.

Street signs only appear where the streets begin and end. Most maps that are sold don't show the smaller streets, only the main ones. So, we did drive on streets and roads in the city and countryside wondering where the heck we were going.

Ah yes....the picture below. It was around lunchtime in Dublin and we were all starving. So, J's dad went back to the B&B for some rest and we decided to walk to this hotel that had GF lunch. Now, I must Ireland when you ask people for directions and they say 'Oh, it's not that far, only 15 minutes away', that means it's like an hour away. I asked an older Irish gentleman about that and he said that he didn't know why, but one in every seven people in Ireland would give you the correct directions.

We ended up walking for close to an hour(with a map and correct directions) and when we got there, the lunch was closed. Damn it! So, we walked all the way back, sleep deprivation at full capacity and I think we rested and went out later. I really don't remember.

Ok, more out of sequence photos. This is from earlier in the post where we went to that carvery-style place. When we were on the way to the Muckross house, there is this town that was named 'Hollywood'. Why you ask? Well, Mel Gibson had filmed parts of Braveheart there.

Muckross house cafeteria. Of course it was raining when we got there, but after wandering around the immense and gorgeous grounds, we had to eat. So, right when we turned the corner to go in, what did we see? Well......

As I've said before, it's like a GF wonderland.

J ordered soup and GF bread. I forgot what kind of soup it was.

Another photo of Ardmore. J and her mom.

Part of the breakfast at almost any B&B in Ireland. I believe this photo was from the B&B in Kinsale. Fruit, cheese and a selection of different meat.

A pub in Dingle. Seriously, if you would have watched this guy and his friend perform, he was almost possessed. Look at his eyes. That's some Poltergeist stuff right there.

Remember what I told you about driving in Ireland? This is on the way up to Ladies View on the Ring of Kerry. That road was only the size of about 1.5 cars. Not even kidding. That tourbus was coming down at around 25-30 mph and I had to literally pull the car over, into the side of the mountain. I still remember hearing the scraping that was happening as tried to avoid the bus and make sure we weren't turned into a heap of metal and flesh. When the bus was passing, there were literally inches between us and an insurance claim.

Sheep. A very common sight in the countryside. They were wandering all over the place and most likely, part of a farmer's flock.

This is what got at a place called Cafe Sol. That was in Kilkenny. Prawns, mesculin salad and I don't remember what else.

Inside of Dunnes in Galway, I saw one of the most horrifying and truly disgraceful things I have ever seen that is food related. A true culinary crime.

FROZEN, microwavable sushi. Now, mind you, this is NOT an Irish product. I checked the box and it's from Germany.

More GF items.

Part of what the produce section looks like inside of the Dunnes. I always find grocery stores and markets the most interesting to look around in no matter where we go.

The local Irish seafood selection at Dunnes.

This is traffic in the Irish countryside.

J's Irish Salmon breakfast at the Waterloo house in Dublin.

Now, we all HATE and despise airline food. Good lord, look at this pulverized piece of watermelon. It looks like it was tumbled around in a clothes dryer for hours. Complete roundness on watermelon pieces=bad.

Oh, it was disgusting too.

The White Lady in Kinsale. J had some really good GF pizza there. Unfortunately, I didn't get to take a picture because I think J and her mom inhaled it and it was gone in a blink of an eye.

A few panoramic shots I took while there:

Have a happy and fun St.Patrick's Day!