Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Potato Cheese Soup

Last weekend our school district held a showcase for kids talented in the arts, music and drama and some of the parents were asked to bring food. It was a grey and drizzly day, so I put together a nice warm pot of soup after consulting the following cookbook:
New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1987).

I did peel the potatoes and carrots, contrary to the recipe's instructions And I added some fresh thyme, which was still verdant and fresh in the garden with our mild autumn weather. I had a lot of positive comments and the triple batch of this soup all gone now, so this recipe is definitely a keeper, even though it's a bit of mess to clean up the food processor and inevitable slopping over that the pureeing entails.

Very Creamy Potato-Cheese Soup

3-4 Tbsp. butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 large potatoes, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
3 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tsp. dried dill (or 2 Tbsp. fresh dill)
4 oz. cream cheese
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese (3 oz.)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley

In a large soup pot, saute the onions and garlic in the butter until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes and carrots and saute for 5-10 minutes longer. Add the stock or water and dill and simmer until all the vegetables are tender.

Puree the vegetables with the cream cheese and milk in a blender or food processor. Return the soup to the soup pot. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the Cheddar cheese and reheat gently.

Serve each cup or bowl garnished with chopped fresh parsley.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Visit to Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Bakery & Cafe


Recently I had a nice long chat with a woman in the bookshop about gluten-free cooking, something that seems to be happening with greater frequency lately. Several weeks later I came in on a Monday morning to find some flyers for a new Gluten Free Bakery and Cafe in nearby Rensselaer County with a note from the owner, Sherry Lynn Birch, describing her new eatery and mentioning that recent bookshop visit. An opportunity for a book buy came up today in nearby Troy, so Dan and I made sure we made a detour to 1691 Route 7 in Brunswick to check it out.

What a treat! Open since September 1st, this new bakery and cafe is owned by the friendly and charming husband and wife team of Sherry Lynn and husband Howie. When we walked in there were platters of cookies, soups and ziti and pizza in the cooler and lots of frozen baked goods. Sherry Lynn offered us several things to sample, including some divine apple fritters, so we packed up a whole basketful of goodies to take home. I brought home some cute little peanut cupcakes with chocolate frosting that were devoured by our kids after school, so they were the home run of the day. Slices of pumpkin pie and broccoli-cheese soup were also gone within hours by our family of taste testers. Dan was appreciative of the hard rolls which really have a nice chewy texture, unlike so many biscuit-like breads we've tried. We also brought home some pizza slices, which were an improvement on our own homemade pizza, but still not quite the Holy Grail of chewy thin crust pizza that Dan's been missing.

Sherry Lynn's Bakery and Cafe is a much-needed oasis for gluten-free travelers and I am delighted to recommend their place to everyone out there. I just wish they were closer to us up here in Saratoga County!

Here's how to get there:

1691 New York Route 7
Brunswick, NY 12180 (east of Troy, NY)

Phone: (518) 279-9267

Hours: 8:30 am to 7 pm every day except Tuesdays.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hail to the Kale


The garden keeps poking along into autumn and we are now enjoying some delicious kale. It is a little mellower after the first frost, but we have had unusually warm weather, so no hard frost yet, just some overnight temperatures just kissing the freezing mark. We haven't been able to wait to eat our kale and our brussels sprouts.

The kale is so easy to grow and is generally pest-free. To cook it up, I usually just saute some garlic and onions, then throw in some chopped kale, maybe a little water or broth, and cook it down. I like some hot sauce or red pepper flakes to counter the strong mustard taste of the kale.

You can enjoy this over rice or pasta, or toss in some cubed tofu or leftover cooked potatoes and another one-dish meal is ready!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gluten-Free Breadsticks

Inspired by the Breadstick Success of Sea at Book of Yum and having hung onto the recipe from the fabulous gluten-free NYC shrine-restaurant, Risotteria, since forever, I decided to use my holy Day of Cooking (Sunday) to whip up a batch of breadsticks to accompany a homemade vat of vegetable soup.

My first batch was based on the Risotteria recipe, which we had ingested many samples of during our February pilgrimage to Gotham. Weirdly, the batter was thin and watery and I was barely able to dribble it into breadstick semblance. They never rose in the oven and were more like floppy crackers. They would never have stood proudly upright like a true breadstick without a good dose of Viagra. Dan, however, chowed them down and told me he appreciated my efforts despite their lack of curb appeal.

I went back to the venerated Book of Yum and found that she had used a modified version of the Risotteria recipe, and with a halving of the water and proofing of the yeast, I found edible architectural success. My breadsticks, while pointed from my inept Ziploc bag/pastry bag piping skills, are proudly upright and tasted great. Only two left today for lunch.

Here's the link to the modified breadstick recipe and here it is below as well. I sprinkled McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning on some of the sticks, and Gomashio (a spice blend of sesame seeds, sea weed and sea salt, much less salty) on the other sticks. Or you could try pressing in Italian parsley leaves into your sticks as Sea does for a really beautiful effect.

Recipe: Risotteria's Gluten-Free Breadstick (Revised version)

1-1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1-1/2 cup organic brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
2 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon of dried herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Nonstick spray or vegetable oil, for greasing baking sheet and breadsticks
Fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl fitted with standard beaters (not a dough hook), rice flour, tapioca starch, dry milk powder, xanthan gum, gelatin powder, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and herbes de Provence. Mix on low speed to blend. Put yeast in 1 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees) and add sugar. Let sit for a couple of minutes. Add to dry ingrediets with olive oil and vinegar. Increase speed to high, and beat 6 minutes. (Dough will stay very soft and should not pull off sides of bowl; if necessary, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough does not resist beaters.)

2. Liberally spray or oil a baking sheet, and set aside. Put dough into a large pastry bag with a plain round 1/2 -inch tip, and pipe 12-18 breadsticks about 8 inches long, leaving about 2 inches in between. Spray or brush tops of breadsticks liberally with oil, and salt generously with fleur de sel.

3. Bake breadsticks 10 minutes, turn and spray or brush again with oil. Continue to bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes more. Serve warm.

Yield: 12-18 breadsticks.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Southern Style Fried Fish Supper


Dan has had a longtime hankering for a mess o' fried fish, so I did a little cookbook and Internet browsing and came up with this delicious, crispy fried fish dinner (looks a LOT better in person than in the photo).

First, I made quick cole slaw in the food processor with carrots, cabbage, a small bit of onion and some parsley, mixed with mayonnaise, salt and pepper.

Then, I perused gluten-free cornbread recipes and the winning recipe (winning because I had all the ingredients on hand, minus one) turned out to be from Celiac.com. It has a cheesy center and was a nice accompaniment. You can get this recipe "Cornbread #3" on the site or as listed below:

Cheesy Cornbread

Ingredients:
1 cup yellow cornmeal
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup gluten-free sour cream
1 cup corn (didn't have it on hand and made it without)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded Cheddar

Directions:
Mix together all ingredients except Cheddar. Put half of mixture into a greased 9" square pan. Sprinkle with cheese and cover with remaining mixture. Bake at 375F degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.


Now, all we needed was the perfect crispy fried fish recipe and after a little cybersurfing, I found this great, easy recipe on another gluten-free website, GF-Zing!, and things just worked out wonderfully. I used tilapia and it was wonderfully moist inside and crunchy. Again, you can check out the recipe on GF-Zing! or below:

Batter Fried Fish

Seasoning for 2 pounds fish or scallops (marinate in this mixture for 2 hours):

1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1-2 jalapenos, minced (omit if you don’t like spicy food)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (or 1/4 teaspoon table salt)
pepper
juice of 1/4 lemon

GF-Zing recommends using hake, cod or scallops. Cut into 2 x 1 inch pieces.

Then make batter:

3/4 cup corn starch
3 Tablespoons chick pea flour (store this in the freezer)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or other seasoning
1 teaspoon coarse salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
1 Tablespoon gluten free baking powder
3 Tablespoons peanut oil
2 large eggs
3 Tablespoons cold water

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet ingredients and stir until smooth. Dip pieces of fish in the batter and fry in very hot oil (2″ deep) until golden brown. If you use a deep fryer, the result will be superior.

A little homemade tartar sauce and you're in business!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Saratoga Gluten-Free Goods



I caught up with Jeanne and Marianne of the new baking company, Saratoga Gluten Free Goods, at their post at the Gansevoort Farmer's Market (open through the rest of the month on Thursdays from 3 pm to 6 pm) and was able to scoop up the last of their wheat-free baked goods. There were two loaves of multi-grain bread, one of which I gave to my celiac buddy Lisa that night as we carpooled off in a mad dash to attend the high school open house. Dan and I have yet to sample that, but it looked nicely browned and well-risen.

Dan gave two thumbs up to the cinnamon sugar donut holes and while he didn't favor the flavor of the Lemon Parmesan crackers, I really liked them. Marianne suggested making a dinner of them with some good cheese, apples and a glass of red wine. Sounds like a plan for tonight!

You can reach Saratoga Gluten Free Goods at their email address: saratogaglutenfree@mindspring.com for more information about their baking company and where we might be able to snap up their delicious goodies after the Gansevoort Farmers Market closes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Cottage Cheese Muffins

I am a fan of Heidi Swanson's great 101 Cookbooks blog. She is a cookbook author and photographer and many of her recipes are gluten-free or can be adapted to be gluten-free, so I check it out regularly. I tried her version of Rose Elliot's "Sun Dried Tomato Cottage Cheese Muffin" recipe and it was indeed delicious, but I had problems with the outer edges of the muffins sticking to the paper cupcake liners. The next time I would make these I would try greasing my muffin pans and skipping the liners to see if they work better. I also didn't have soy flour on hand and used Bob's Red Mill baking mix instead, so perhaps this provided a greater adhesive character to my dough.

Nevertheless these are delicious little treats and made a good snack and breakfast food. They are savory rather than sweet like most of their muffin cousins, and would no doubt, as Heidi points out, make great cocktail snacks for a party. You can check out the recipe on Heidi's blog (as well as many other great recipes and food porn photos) or here below. Happy baking!

Sun-dried Tomato Cottage Cheese Muffin Recipe

You can use the flour of your choice in this recipe. The original recipe calls for soy flour (great for people looking for a gluten-free option), I use white whole wheat flour - unbleached all-purpose flour will work as well. To grind the almonds I gave them a whirl in my food processor. You are looking for a flour-like consistency - be sure to stop short of turning them into an almond paste.

1 cup plain cottage cheese (low-fat is fine)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/4 cup flour (see headnotes)
1 cup almonds, very finely ground
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), finely chopped
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a muffin pan with medium-sized paper baking cups, you'll need nine of them.

Put the cottage cheese into a bowl with all but 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, water, and eggs, and season with salt, then mix all together.

Spoon the mixture into the muffing cups 3/4 full, scatter with the remaining Parmesan, and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set, risen, and golden brown. Serve as hot or at room temperature.

Makes 9 muffins.