Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brined Roast Chicken with Pan Gravy

A good friend of mine started her own food blog - Gluten, Soy and Casein Free! This is pretty exciting. While it's fun to talk on the phone about what recipes we've tried and what we made for dinner recently, it's even more fun to see pictures and recipes! I think we will go back and forth inspiring and challenging each other to try new things in the kitchen. One of her recent recipes has a picture that looks so pretty that I had to try it myself.

Normally I make chicken in the crock pot for the family. A 5 1/2 pound chicken will yield dinner one night, chicken sandwiches for lunch, enough leftover meat for chicken soup, and the carcass makes 8 - 10 cups of homemade chicken stock. But I wanted to do something a little nicer for friends that were coming to dinner. While a crock pot chicken is fuss-free and practical, it does not look as lovely as a traditional roast chicken. I decided to brine the chicken before roasting - it keeps the meat moist and gives it extra flavor. If you like to make gravy, a brined chicken makes gravy a little extra special.

Using my friend's recipe for Whole Braised Chicken with Vegetables as a guide, I brined and roasted a chicken and served it with roasted broccoli, roasted white and sweet potatoes, biscuits and gravy. It turned out great. I don't have a picture, but please go here to see hers - it's really very pretty!

Brine the bird
1 gallon cold water
1 cup kosher salt
1 roasting chicken, about 5 pounds

Combine the water and the salt in a large pot. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Rinse the chicken and place it in the brine, making sure it is fully submerged. You may need to place something heavy on top of the bird to keep it submerged. Brine 4 - 8 hours, or about 1 hour per pound. Some brining recipes call for sugar, but don't use sugar if you want to make gravy or the gravy will turn out too sweet.

When you are ready to roast the bird, take it out of the brine and rinse it under cold water. Pat the bird dry with paper towels inside and out.

Roast the bird
1 onion, peeled and left whole

2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. ground pepper

1 onion, peeled and quartered
1/2 cup water
1 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a roasting pan or casserole dish with olive oil. Slice the onion into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Place the onions on the bottom of the pan in one layer. Place the chicken on top of the onions.

In a small bowl combine the olive oil through the pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over the bird. You can separate the skin from the bird and rub some of the spice mixture underneath the skin of the bird as well, if desired. Toss the quartered onion inside the cavity.

Pour the water into the pan. Roast 30 minutes, then add the wine to the bottom of the pan. Roast another 30 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180 degrees. Remove the bird to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Let sit at least 10 minutes before carving. While the bird is resting, make the gravy.

Pan Gravy
pan drippings
2 tbsp. arrowroot starch

Remove the onion slices from the pan drippings (I set them aside and serve them with the meal for whoever wants them - they taste great). Pour the drippings into a large measuring cup. Skim the fat from the drippings and set aside. There should be about 3/4 cup of liquid. Pour enough water into the drippings to equal 1 cup, set aside.

Measure 2 tbsp. reserved fat into a small saucepan. Add the arrowroot starch and whisk to combine. Whisk in the reserved liquid. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Season to taste with pepper, if desired (you probably won't need to season with salt). Serve hot.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oven Baked GFCF Egg-Free Bread

Well, I have been hard at work for over a week trying to make a loaf of egg-free bread to my liking. When I wonder why I've been beating myself up over this (other than being a glutton for punishment), all I need to do is to look at Megan's hands. She's been completely egg-free for over a week and the eczema on her hands has completely resolved. Instead of being cracked, red and raw, her skin is soft and smooth. That's all the reason I really need, but it also helps to hear the girls say "Mom, this is good bread! Can I have more?". It also helps that DH is a good sport. He's okay with me making only egg-free bread for the whole family, because when I'm under the gun and forced to figure it out, that's the only way I'll figure it out. Thanks, dear hubby. You rock.

Although I used Gluten Free Goddess' recipe as a guide, the bread turned out to be very much like my old stand-by bread. Basically everything is the same except for the egg substitute and swapping sugar for honey. I've been using Sorghum and Millet blend and it's been working great. The bread tastes really good and I happen to think it's pretty, too. I'm going to give two different options for baking in either an 8 inch loaf pan (which I prefer because the bread is taller) or a 9 inch loaf pan (which ends up a little flatter but you get more slices out if it). Keep in mind that if you use a glass pan, you'll need to decrease the oven temperature by 25 degrees to keep the bread from sticking to the pan (thanks for that tip, Mom!).

So far I've only done this bread in the oven. It's very easy and does not take long at all. I've been using a gelatin egg substitute, which I really like but which is not vegan. For instructions on how to make GF vegan bread in the bread machine, see this recipe here. Happy baking!

For an 8 inch loaf pan:
2 1/2 cups GF flour blend (such as Sorghum and Millet)
2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. rapid rise yeast
1 tsp. salt

1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
6 tbsp. gelatin liquid
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
2 tbsp. honey

For a 9 inch loaf pan:
3 cups GF flour blend
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. rapid rise yeast

1 1/4 cups warm water
6 tbsp. gelatin liquid
3 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
3 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a loaf pan with palm shortening, set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour through the yeast. In a medium bowl, combine the water through the honey. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl and beaters as necessary, about 3 minutes.

Scrape the dough into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top with a spatula, doming slightly in the center for a loaf shape. At this point you can sprinkle poppy seeds or sesame seeds on top if you wish. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise. Let rise about 45 minutes or until the dough has risen 1/2 - 1 inch above the top of the loaf pan.

Bake about 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

(This loaf is a pretty color - I let it rise a little too long, but it turned out okay in the end.)

Gently turn the bread out onto a wire rack. If desired, return the bread (out of the pan) to the oven and bake another 5 minutes to get it nice and crusty.

Cool bread completely on a wire rack before slicing. Don't be tempted to slice the bread even while it's only very slightly warm, or it will gum up on you. If you want warm bread with margarine, wait until it's cool and then toast a slice or two. You will be glad you waited.

(A 9 inch loaf gives you more slices of bread, but it's a little flatter than an 8 inch loaf.)

(I like an 8 inch loaf - it's taller and I think it looks a little nicer.)

Gelatin Egg Substitute

I love my readers. They give me such great tips! This egg substitute recipe comes from Heather. She uses it in everything. So far I've only used it in sandwich bread, and it's been working great. Thanks, Heather! Keep in mind that gelatin is not vegan. For a vegan egg substitute, try Ener-G Egg Replacer.

1 packet Knox gelatin
1 cup boiling water
Stir gelatin into water until dissolved. Let cool to room temperature before using.

3 tbsp. gelatin mixture = 1 egg.

Store leftovers in the fridge. To use again, reheat in the microwave about 30 seconds or on the stove over low heat until it has turned back to liquid.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gluten Free, Vegan Apple Scones

While DH was in grad school I met a lot of interesting people from all over the country and all over the world. One friend I made was from Croatia. Everything she made was delicious - anything I could do, she could do 10 times better. So it was always a pleasure to get together with her and watch her cook and bake. One day she served currant scones that were the best I ever had - they were small and round with currants, and they were awesomely dry inside. These were the kind of scones you have with tea. I loved them for that and have since tried to make a scone that comes close to hers.

There are many scone recipes that call for eggs and lots of liquid and I never end up liking the result as they turn out more like muffins than anything else. I've only found and tried one that ends up producing nice dry scones, it's been my favorite scone recipe for years. Today as I was baking for Megan, I was loving that it was originally egg-free and I only had to make it gluten and casein free too. The less I have to reinvent the wheel, the better! Not that I mind so much, but it just makes life easier when I'm trying to feed a hungry family.

These scones go great with a cup of tea or a glass of milk for the kids. They are best warm and will keep on the counter for a day. After a day, store in the fridge or freezer and reheat until warm in the microwave or the oven before serving.

2 cups GF flour blend (I like this one)
3 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. palm shortening
1/2 cup grated apple
4 tbsp. apple juice

hazelnut, almond or rice milk
cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Sift together the flour through the salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter until mix resembles coarse meal. Add grated apples and toss to coat. Add the apple juice and stir with a fork to make a stiff dough - dough should not be too wet.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured worktop and knead dough two or three times, until it comes together.

With floured hands, pat dough into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges.

Transfer wedges with a flat, thin spatula to the prepared baking sheet - this is easy to do as the dough is firm and not sticky.

Brush each scone with hazelnut milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake 10 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Remove scones to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Yield: 8 scones.

See the nice dry crumb? Yum.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Broiled Tomatoes with Millet and Pepperoni

This is one of my favorite light lunch recipes. It is a simple dish that can be made in under 30 minutes with minimal prep. I use grape or cherry tomatoes, but any smallish tomato would work. I like to broil the tomatoes until they are only just warm and fragrant. I also like the millet in this dish, but pasta would work well too.

12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
parsley, salt and pepper to taste
2 - 3 slices Applegate Farms pepperoni, sliced
1 cup hot cooked millet

Toss the halved tomatoes with the olive oil and the garlic. Add the parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Place in a small oven-proof dish.

Top tomatoes with sliced pepperoni. Broil for a couple of minutes, until garlic is fragrant and tomatoes are slightly softened.

Place the cooked millet in a serving dish. Top with tomato mixture. Makes 1 generous serving.

Cooked Millet

I love cooking millet. Technically millet is a seed, not a grain, although it's used like a grain. It's a good source of fiber and magnesium (for millet's nutritional profile, go here). I like making plain cooked millet quite a bit - it's a nice change from rice and it cooks faster, too. With some sauteed vegetables, it would make a nice pilaf. But I usually serve it with something saucy like a curry.
Plain cooked millet can be very versatile and substituted in a number of recipes that call for rice instead.

I like toasting millet before boiling it, both because I like the nutty flavor that toasting imparts and I prefer a crunchier texture to a creamy one. I make millet in a cast iron skillet, which gives it a nice crusty bottom. It's reminiscent of the rice crust on the bottom of a Korean Stone Pot (Bibimbat) - personally, I think the crunchy part is the best.

1/2 cup millet
1 cup water or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. salt

Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the millet and toast, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the water and the salt. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. With a wooden spoon, stir the millet to get up all the nice crusty bits off the bottom of the skillet. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Homemade Cucumber Rolls

I love sushi - all types of sushi rolls, nigiri sushi, chirashi sushi, you name it. I don't normally buy it because it's expensive, but sometimes I'll splurge and bring some home. It never occurred to me to try making it myself, I thought it would be too difficult. But then what do you think popped up in my Google Reader one day right before the holidays? A recipe for Cucumber Sushi at (Never) Too Many Cooks! And it looked easy! So I high-tailed it to the grocery store and bought the necessary ingredients - a bamboo mat, some sushi rice, some nori and a hothouse cucumber. And armed with a printout of said recipe, I made dynamite-looking (if I say so myself) Cucumber Rolls for Christmas. It was easy and fun, and now making suhi rolls is almost as much of an addiction as making spring rolls (or summer rolls). So far I've made these Cucumber Rolls and Avocado Rolls. Next on my list are Tuna Rolls and California Rolls. I can hardly wait.

(The original recipe calls for mirin - the only mirin I can find contains corn syrup, so I've substituted a sweet rice vinegar mixture instead. I think sake might work too, or maybe a bit of sherry.)

What you'll need:
a bamboo rolling mat (you can find these in the Asian section of your grocery store, they are not expensive)
nori sheets
2 cups sushi rice, uncooked
Sweetened vinegar (from this recipe here): 3 tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt
one hothouse cucumer
wasabi and pickled ginger to serve

(For the gluten intolerant lucky enough to tolerate soy, serve with wheat-free soy sauce. Otherwise you can try UnSoy Sauce mixed with a little chili oil, but wasabi and ginger work just fine.)

(Nori sheets - not terribly expensive, and they go a long way!)

What to do:
A couple of hours before you want to serve the rolls, cook the sushi rice in a rice cooker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Let the rice cool to room temperature. While the rice is cooking, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved - do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. When the rice has cooled, sprinkle with the sweetened vinegar and fluff gently with a wooden spoon. Start with 1 tbsp. of the vinegar, adding more to taste if desired. Set aside.

Prepare the cucumber: Wash and cut the cucumber into quarters then de-seed it. Cut into long thin strips. I don't bother to peel it since the skin is thin and unwaxed, but you can if you like.

Lay a sheet of nori on the rolling mat. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup rice over the nori, leaving 1/2 inch at the top. Wet your hands and press the rice nice and tight to about 1/4 inch thick - wetting your hands will keep the rice from sticking to them.

Place 4 or 5 cucumber strips in the center of the rice-covered nori.

Begin rolling by placing your fingers under the bamboo mat and rolling the nori in on itself.

Keep rolling, adjusting the mat as you go - not too tight or the nori will split.

Honestly I just start rolling with the mat and finish rolling with my hands so I can feel and see what's going on, but you should do whatever works best for you.

When you are finished rolling, wet the 1/2 inch edge with a little water and press to seal. Let the roll sit for a minute, then transfer to a cutting board. Wet a sharp knife with a little water and cut the roll into 1 inch pieces. You may have to re-wet the knife every few slices.

(Cucumber rolls with avocado, because I can't get enough of avocado lately!)

Place sushi rolls on a plate. Serve at room temperature with wasabi and pickled ginger. And enjoy! Not only is this easy and fun, it's much less expensive than store-bought! This recipe makes 3 rolls that after slicing make about 24 cucumber rolls.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

GFCF Pumpkin Orange Bread

Happy New Year! I'm clearing out my stack of recipes left from autumn and early winter. This recipe, originally by Cooking Light, is one of them. It's one of our favorites - it can be enjoyed from fall until late winter. You can find the original recipe here.

Dry ingredients
2 cups GF flour blend
2 tbsp. flax seed meal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Wet ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp. grated orange peel
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour through the cloves. Make a well in the center, set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar through the egg, beating until well-blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes to one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool in pan 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.