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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mustard Greens with Garlic and Mustard Seeds

Calcium has been on my mind a lot lately. We don't do dairy (or soy), which cuts a lot of calcium out of our diet. Or does it? The more I think of all the greens we eat around here, the less concerned I am about our calcium intake. I am challanged as to how to get the girls to eat calcium-rich greens like DH hnd I do, but they eat sardines, which are one of the foods that are very high in calcium (and omegas!) and I will be buying more hemp milk for them to drink, which will help.

So my very favorite dark leafy greens are high in calcium - kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, spinach, arugula and to a lesser extent, beet greens. Even cabbage has a lot more calcium than I thought it did. The greens that are even higher in calcium than all of these? Collard greens, turnip greens and dandelion greens. I've never tried those, and that will have to change!

Tonight I'd like to offer this recipe for mustard greens. I really like mustard greens. They are very slightly bitter, but lemon juice brightens their flavor (like vinegar does with kale). On the off chance we have any leftover sauteed greens, I like to chop them and toss them with quinoa and other leftovers for a kind of hippie chow. I love hippie chow. Leftovers thrown together and tossed in a bowl for lunch - yum!

Mustard Greens with Garlic and Mustard Seeds

1 large bunch mustard greens
1 generous tbsp. olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. lemon juice or more to taste

Remove the spines from the mustard greens. Wash the greens and tear them into chunks. Place them in a bowl and set aside. You don't want them dripping wet, but you don't need to spin-dry them, either.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the minced garlice and mustard seeds and cook, stirring, 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the wine and the mustard greens, tossing the coat the greens with the garlic and mustard seeds. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Uncover and stir. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has been evaporated. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve hot.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)

I have a friend whose husband is Vietnamese. They just recently traveled to Vietnam with his family to visit family members still living in Vietnam. One of the highlights of her trip was visiting an old great aunt who lives on a farm. Everything she made for them she grew or raised on her farm, and my friend said it was some of the most delicious food she's ever eaten. I am very slightly green over that, it sounds amazing! However, I am afraid to fly and there's no chance I'd get on a plane to travel 22 hours for that experience! I'll stay here and be very happy with my friend's Pho Ga. Her sisters-in-law showed her how to make it and then happily, she showed me how to make it. I'd never had Pho Ga before and was hooked by the first bowl. It's delicious, aromatic, flavorful, and addicting! My friend has graciously allowed me to post her recipe (which I'm happy to finally do tonight as I keep losing her paper copies!).

Clear broth is a must and there are a lot of steps to this soup. However, it's totally worth it. My friend's recipe calls for culantro, which can be found at Asian markets. If you can't find culantro, cilantro is a fine substitute.

For the stock
1 whole chicken, about 5 pounds, cut into pieces
1 large onion, unpeeled and cut in half
3 inch chunk of fresh ginger, unpeeled
12 whole cloves
4 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. peppercorns
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup Thai basil, culantro or cilantro leaves
1 minced red chili
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. fish sauce (Thai Kitchen is gluten free)

First, char the onion and ginger - this adds a lot of flavor to the broth. To do this over the range or the grill, place the onion and ginger directly over a burner set to medium-low or on a grill set to medium-high heat. Let the skin burn, rotating to char all over. Grill this way for about 10 minutes or until soft and fragrant - it does not need to be completely blackened. To do this under the broiler, set the oven to broil on high. Place the onion and ginger on a baking sheet and place 4 inches from the oven's heating element. Turn the onion and ginger every few minutes for about 15 minutes to get an even char. Remove from the heat and let cool. When cool, rinse the onion under warm water, rubbing off the charred skin. Set aside. Trim the ends of the ginger and remove the skin with a butter knife. Wash off any blackened bits. Slice the ginger into chunks. Set aside.

Next, place the cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick and peppercorns in a frying pan. Toast over low heat for a few minutes until fragrant - this releases their oils. Set aside.

Next, parboil the chicken. Place the all chicken parts except the breasts in a stock part. Add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil vigorously for 5 minutes to release the impurities. Dump the chicken and water into a colander in the sink. Rinse the chicken to remove any clinging residue. Scrub the pot clean. (I find this part to be a bit of a pain in the rear to do but it's essential if you want a clear broth.)

Return the chicken parts to the pot and add about 4 quarts of water. Add the uncooked reserved chicken breasts. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a very gentle simmer - the pot should not boil again. Gently skim off any scum that rises to the top - you don't want the scum to mix with the broth. After 15 minutes the chicken breasts should be cooked - remove them from the pot and set aside to cool. After they are cool, shred them and save them for serving with the soup later.

To the simmering broth add the reserved onion, ginger, spices, garlic, Thai basil or culantro, red chili, salt, sugar and fish sauce. Simmer at least 1 1/2 hours, skimming the funk off the top every 20 minutes or so as necessary and adding water if needed if the level gets too low. Turn off the heat.

Last, line a large sieve with cheesecloth and place it over a large pot. Strain the stock through the lined sieve. Discard the solids. Adjust the flavor of the stock with additional salt, sugar or fish sauce (last time I made this I thought it needed a bit more fish sauce). The broth should be very aromatic and flavorful. Keep the broth hot while you assemble the items for the table.

For the table
1 pound dried rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
reserved shredded chicken
2 cups bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
culantro or cilantro leaves
Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 lime cut into 8 wedges
Sriracha hot sauce

Place some rice noodles in large soup bowls. Ladle hot broth over the top. Let the guests at the table add whatever else they would like. I am partial to adding a lot of the fresh greens, lime juice and Sriracha into my bowl of soup even though the Sriracha turns the broth pink! Serve the soup with Asian soup spoons, if you have them. Any leftover stock can be refrigerated up to three days or frozen up to three months.

As you can see, I winged it for the bowl of soup above. Having no time to run to the Asian market, I used cilantro, sweet basil and Italian flat leaf parsley for the soup. It was good, but I like culantro better. I also fudged the minced red chili and used Sriracha in the broth, so the broth is not clear (my bad, that's what I get for winging it). Next time I make it, I'll post a picture of the clear broth.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies - simple, subtle and sublime. What more can I say?

Dry Ingredients
2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
dash salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 medium)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
2 tbsp. flax seed meal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet, set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients until well combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the canola oil, brown sugar and maple syrup. Add the mashed banana and vanilla extract and stir to combine.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat until smooth. Add the chocolate chips flax seed meal. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake about 12 minutes or until the bottoms and edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Makes just over 2 dozen cookies.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pasta with Butternut Sauce

Cold weather makes me want to cook squash. Lots of squash. I've been buying butternut squash on a regular basis and we've been enjoying butternut fries (the only way the girls will eat butternut!), but I was hankering for something different. And then, what to my wondering eyes should appear but Ina's recipe for Pasta with Squash, Leak and Bacon! There was a butternut on my counter and a snow day to play, so I whipped up my own version of butternut sauce, tossed it with pasta, stuck it in the oven with some Daiya cheese and called it dinner. And it was delicious. Mind you, the girls won't go near this, but that's fine...someday they will. And until they do, DH and I have this all to ourselves. DH is not as fond of squash as I am but he really dug this did not see the light of the next day.

There is a little prep work involved in this dish, mostly roasting the squash. It's not hard and takes only a little bit of time. From start to finish dinner can be ready in just over an hour. Someday when I make lasagna, I'll use this butternut sauce instead of tomato sauce to layer between noodles. Yum. Thanks to Ina for posting her original recipe and letting me post my version of it!

Pasta with Butternut Sauce

1 pound butternut squash, more or less (one small to medium squash)
salt, pepper and olive oil
1/2 cup diced chopped onion
4 - 6 large cloves minced garlic, depending on your taste
1 tbsp. dried parsley, or 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup coconut milk, more or less (I used Thai Kitchen Lite Coconut Milk)
1/2 package gluten free penne or pasta spirals (I like Tinkyada)
1 cup Daiya cheese, more or less according to your taste (I like less - a little Daiya goes a long way)
pine nut meal, if desired, or gluten free bread crumbs if you have them

Roast the Butternut
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the hard stem from the squash. Slice in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy pulp. Smear the cut halves of the squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the squash goes through cleanly - it should not meet much resistance, but the squash should not be too soft, either. Remove the squash from the oven and let cool long enough to handle, about 15 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, saute the onion and garlic in 2 - 3 tbsp. olive oil over low heat until soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain, return to the pot and toss with a little olive oil to keep from sticking.

Make the Sauce
When the squash is cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin. Place the squash, onion and garlic into a food processor. With the food processor running, add enough coconut milk to make a smooth and thick puree. Add the parsley and pulse to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bake the Casserole
Smear a small baking dish (8x8 works well) with olive oil. Toss the pasta with the butternut sauce and 1/2 cup Daiya cheese. Place the pasta in the casserole. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup Daiya cheese on top of the pasta. Sprinkle pine nut meal or gluten free breadcrumbs over top of the cheese, if desired. Bake about 15 minutes, or until the dish is heated through and the cheese is melted. Serve hot.

*Roasted broccoli would be a good addition, toss with the pasta and sauce and bake as directed.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones

Baby, it's cold outside! I have not felt this cold in a long time! On Monday night we got treated to sleet accumulations of about 2 inches. The girls are thrilled with the novelty of making sleet angels and sliding down the slick driveway in a cardboard box (because the once-a-year snow we get does not justify buying sleds). Driving around is another matter, the roads have been covered in ice all week... though in a way it's fun to take the car out and remind myself I still know how to drive on the ice. School has also been out all week and it's canceled again for tomorrow - yippee!

So what's a gal to do when the kids are cooped up in the house and it's frigid outside? Heat up the oven and make some scones! These scones are simply fabulous, if I say so myself. I'm really happy with how they turned out - light and airy, not too sweet, not too dry. We're supposed to get slammed with more winter weather tomorrow. I'm planning on firing up the oven and making more scones!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones (inspired by this recipe here)

1 1/2 cups GF flour blend
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp. flax seed meal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. guar gum
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. salt
5 tbsp. palm shortening
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Yogurt
1/3 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set aside a baking sheet.

In a large bowl sift together the flour through the salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine meal. Make a well in the center and set aside.

Combine the pumpkin puree and the yogurt. Pour into the well in the dry ingredients, then add the chocolate chips. Stir with a fork until well-blended. The mixture will be sticky. Lay a piece of parchment paper on the baking sheet and turn the dough out onto it. Sprinkle a little bit of some gluten free flour blend and pat into a circle with your hands about 1/2 inch high. With a sharp knife, cut the circle into 8 wedges.

Cut away any parchment paper that overhangs the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges and bottoms are sturdy and light brown. Remove from the oven and let rest about 10 minutes. Take another sharp knife and cut the scones into separate wedges. Place the wedges on a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.