12.28.2012

Pork Chili Verde

I cannot recall where I got this recipe from. If I could I would certainly give credit where credit is due. Certainly.


Either way it's a delicious recipe. My husband even likes it. And he's of a pretty traditional mindset when it comes to the all-mighty Chili. He's one of those "chili should contain beans, meat, and tomato sauce" kind of folk. Me? Well let's just say my parents probably should have made my middle name "Experiment" - not Jean.


Don't get me wrong. I love a traditional, steaming, hearty bowl of good ol' fashioned chili. But I also like to mix it up a bit. You know, just to keep things fresh. Vegetarian chili, chicken chili, sweet potato chili - you name it, I've probably cooked it up. But this one has a particularly unique flavor.


I'm not sure how authentic this recipe is. But it sure tastes good. That's enough for me. You could easily do this in the slow-cooker. I would recommend searing the pork first then just toss everything in the pot for the day - 4-6 hours on High or 8-10 on Low. The spice level of this chili is easy enough to tweak - just adjust the amount of crushed red pepper. The original recipe also calls for crushed coriander, but I prefer Gourmet Garden's Cilantro paste. I would like to take this opportunity to promote Gourmet Garden - if only they'd pay me for these things...


Either way, their products are phenomenal. I usually keep the Cilantro paste, Italian Herb Blend, and Ginger paste in my freezer. Yes, my freezer. They last twice as long and don't freeze up hard. So just pull them out of the freezer when you start cooking and by the time you need it it's thawed just enough to use. They're great - and so much easier than keeping and grating fresh ginger every time I need it. Or having to buy a huge bunch of fresh cilantro for a recipe that only calls for 2 Tbsp. Get my drift?


Serve this up with some gluten-free cornbread (I like this recipe: Fluffy Gluten-free Cornbread), a generous dollop of low-fat sour cream, and some chopped green onions. You could also try a dash of lime juice or some shredded sharp cheddar cheese - delish!

Pork Chili Verde

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Extra-virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 lb Pork Tenderloin, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Leek - sliced, rinsed, and drained
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Gourmet Garden Cilantro paste (or 1 tsp Ground Coriander)
  • 1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 4 oz Diced Green Chiles
  • 7 oz Salsa Verde (I like Herdez)
  • 1/4 cup Beef Stock
  • 14 oz Great Northern or Pinto Beans (one BPA-free can or use dried that have been soaked overnight)
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Cook pork, bell pepper and leek - stirring with a wooden spoon - until meat is browned, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, cumin, cilantro/coriander, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in salsa and stock; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Stir in beans and cook until heated through, another 1-2 minutes.
Happy gluten-free cooking!


12.26.2012

Nut Teacakes

Christmas just isn't Christmas without cookies. At least, as far as I'm concerned. 



I usually spend the weeks prior to Christmas baking loads of cookies to gift out to family and friends. I carefully hand select my favorite recipes - most of them passed down from family members - and park myself in the kitchen for hours on end.


When I was a kid my aunts would make these little nut tartlets around the holidays that they called Nut Teacakes. These little beauties can be described in one word: "DELICIOUS".

The recipe was given to my mother, then passed to me. See that recipe in the photograph? Handwritten. Oh yeah. But of course, there's no instructions. So I found a similar recipe on Allrecipes.com that had some and figured it out.



When I decided I was going to try and make these gluten-free this year for the holidays, the forces that be decided not to make things so easy for me. I inherited my mother's mini muffin tin when we went to visit back in September. It got packed up in my suitcase, loaded on a plane, and flown from Florida to New York. However, when I packed up everything to take out to my mother-in-law's in Buffalo (where we would be spending Christmas and where I would be doing all my baking), I forgot the darned thing.

It seemed senseless to buy another one when I had a perfectly good one sitting in my cabinet at home. So we tried to find one to borrow. We called grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and friends. One of my husband's aunts thought we meant mini loaf pans and said he could drive over and borrow it. Unfortunately my husband returned with four regular sized muffin tins because of the error. Finally, my mother-in-law called her assistant at work and we were in business!

So, moral of the story - find yourself a mini muffin tin, and make sure you have it in your possession, before you attempt to make these.




Nut Teacakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen

  • 3 ounces Neufchatel (light cream cheese), softened
  • 1 cup Gluten-free Flour blend
  • 1 stick Light Butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Light Butter, melted
  • 1 Egg, large
  • 1/8 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Nuts (pecans or walnuts), chopped
  1. Make Pastry Dough: With a mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Add flour and mix well. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Once thoroughly chilled, divide evenly and roll into 24 balls. Press and shape dough into individual cups of a mini muffin tin. If your tin only holds 12, like mine, put additional dough back into the refrigerator until you're ready for Round 2!
  3. Make Filling: In a medium bowl, measure brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla, nuts and egg. Mix until well blended.
  4. Fill the tart shells, being careful not to overfill. Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes, until crusts are golden brown and filling has set.
Hope your holidays are warm and bright. 
Happy gluten-free baking and...
Happy New Year!


12.21.2012

Perfect Gluten-free Pie Crust

You've seen this recipe before. It can be found under the Cran-apple Crumble Pie post from a little over a month ago. I wanted to set it up as a separate post though. I know I find it frustrating when I have to sort through recipes for one part of it. Besides, this recipe is that good. It totally deserves its own post!



The best recipes are the ones that are handwritten, on index cards or scraps of white lined paper. The ones that are stained with food or aged by time. The ones that are smeared with greasy fingerprints. Oh yes. These make the best recipes indeed.



Why? Because they're time tested. Because they're tried and true. And because they've been passed down, from one friend or family member to the next. They are a piece of history. When my husband and I got married, we struggled over what to give as favors at our reception. I swear it was a harder decision than picking out bridesmaids gowns. We wanted something symbolic, something memorable and meaningful. I can't tell you how many silly little wedding favors I have acquired (or eaten before even getting out of the reception hall) over the years. I think a lot of couples are so hair-brained over all the other details that those little mementos take a back seat. We didn't want that to happen.



Hours of gawking at favor ideas on theKnot.com (mind you, this was before the days of Pinterest) and in issues of Martha Stewart Weddings left me feeling rather hopeless. We thought about tree seedlings, wildflower packets, homemade jam, homemade pickles...the list goes on. And one day, I had a genius breakthrough moment.



A cookbook.



Yep. You heard me. We gave each family or guest that came to our wedding a cookbook. But not just any cookbook. The months prior were spent collecting, scrutinizing, and hand-picking recipes from our extended family and friends. Everyone that was invited was requested to submit a recipe via e-mail or snail mail. We even hunted people down for specific recipes that were absolute must-haves. I compiled them all in a Word document, we had them printed up at Staples, and voila! A wedding favor that continues to stand the test of time. I still pull mine out at least once a month, and hope to share most of those recipes here.



This pie crust recipe came from a friend - I know, I mentioned that in the last post. But I have to say it again. Because those are the best kind. And you know what? I've used this recipe multiple times since I got it, and it has come out perfect EVERY time. Incredible, right? It actually behaves like regular, gluten-full pie dough. See that photo up above - that's gluten-free pie dough. No. Joke.



I recommend using a really good gluten-free flour blend for this recipe. When my girlfriend initially used this recipe, she used King Arthur Gluten-free Multi-purpose Flour. I use a homemade flour blend, courtesy of Gluten Free Girl. I also recommend using a food processor. If you really want, you could do it by hand. But my trusty Cuisinart never fails - best Christmas gift ever Mom!



Please, read the instructions carefully before starting this recipe. Your pie dough needs at least 1 hour to chill out in the fridge, trust me, in fact I let it sit in the fridge overnight. You can make this recipe up to two days in advance as long as it is kept in the refrigerator. Also, use cold butter. Again, trust me. I have never had to use additional water in this recipe, but if you live in a dryer climate or higher altitude it might be necessary. Use your judgement. If the dough doesn't come together, or is crumbly, add water 1 Tbsp at a time until it forms a ball that "rides" on top of your processor blade. See photograph above. It will be slightly more moist than typical pie dough - resist the urge to add more flour!



Perfect Pie Crust

Prep-time: 10 minutes
Yields: 1 9-10" pie crust or 12 tartlets
  • 1 cup Gluten-free Flour blend
  • 1 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar (if sweet - if using for savory, leave out)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt (ONLY if using unsalted butter - if butter is salted, leave out!)
  • 6 Tbsp stick Butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 large Egg, lightly beaten
  • Cold water, as needed
  1. Measure flour, xanthan gum, and sugar and salt (if using) into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the regular blade, or dough blade if you have one. Pulse to combine.
  2. Add butter chunks to mixture, making sure to space out evenly around the bowl. Pulse until mixture resembles small pebbles or coarse crumbs, and butter is well incorporated.
  3. Add the egg and process until combined. The dough will form a ball that will ride on top of the processor blade. If dough is too dry and crumbly, or does not come together, add cold water 1 Tbsp at a time, processing each time until combined. Dough will feel sticky and moist - do not add more flour!
  4. Remove contents of bowl and form the dough into a disk. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or until ready to use (up to two days).
  5. To roll out: lightly flour a flat surface, countertop, or pastry mat. Place dough on surface and dust with flour. Roll into desired shape and size, being careful to flip/rotate the dough and add more flour as needed to prevent from sticking. Make sure to spray your pie plate with cooking spray prior to placing dough inside. Pie crust does not need to be pre-baked unless the recipe you are using requests that you do so.

Happy gluten-free baking!


12.09.2012

Root Vegetable Stew with Gluten-free Dumplings

There's just something about stew and dumplings. It's warm, cozy, comforting - not to mention tastes delicious. How could you possibly go wrong?


I tried this recipe a couple of years ago. 
And loved it. 
Then I went gluten-free. 
Ugh.


Can I just say that the mere thought of gluten-free dumplings pretty much scared me nearly to death. I forewarned my husband:

"I just want you to know that this meal has the potential to be an epic disaster..."


Thankfully - my mother trained me well. We would make dumplings when I was a kid, to go with what I honestly don't remember, but man were they a treat! Soft, pillowy, delightful little balls of comforting goodness. They only showed face during the cold Northeastern winter months, of course. Come summer, any thoughts of dumplings disappeared with the melting winter runoff. I guess that's what makes them special - but if I could have had it my way, we would have been eating dumplings once a week.

Now these are not your run-of-the-mill Southern comfort chicken and dumplings kind of dumplings. These are the kind of dumplings that cook atop bubbling stew within the safety of a tightly closed dutch oven, either on your stovetop or in the oven. These are the dumplings that, once inside the confines of said dutch oven, your mother warned you not to peak at - because lifting the lid might spoil the goodness inside. Basically, they use the steam that is trapped inside the vessel to cook through, so allowing the steam to escape can hamper the cooking process.


I had to tweak the recipe a little bit, but I dare say they turned out pretty darn good. This recipe is pretty easy, but the prep work can be a handful and a half. Use any combination of root vegetables that you like. I have tried this recipe with the addition of golden beets and celeriac and it was delightful. Just make sure that your combination of peeled and chopped roots totals about 2 pounds.

I'd like to take this opportunity to give a little shout out to my good friend the rutabaga. I adore rutabaga. Growing up my mom would make them for my dad, boiled and then mashed with carrots (to add a bit of sweetness). I was afraid to try them until I was a bit older, but once I did I was hooked. They're delicious with a bit of butter or smothered in gravy, depending on your mood of course. Most kids these days don't even know what a rutabaga is. When I moved out to Washington state a few years ago, I tried to make the famous mashed rutabaga dish for my in-laws when they came out for Thanksgiving (and to meet me for the first time!). It was a disaster. I did everything right, except they ended up being bitter and, well, disgustingly inedible. I shamefully covered the dish and hid it in a corner, hoping nobody would notice. When I talked to my parents, my father's response was, "Well you have to wait until after the first frost, the cold helps them sweeten up!"



Newsflash, western Washington winters are, shall we say, mild? It doesn't really frost. Needless to say, I didn't attempt to make rutabagas again while I was living on the West coast. Living here in upstate has its fair share of misery, but at least the ground gets cold enough for fantastic root vegetables. But we're moving back to Washington next year, so I guess I better suck it up.

I used Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage in this recipe as I think it imparts a really great sweetness to the dish. But feel free to use any other kind of sausage that you like, italian style turkey sausages would also work well. I just wouldn't recommend any type of spicy/hot sausage - it just wouldn't work well with the other elements of the stew.

P.S. I recently acquired a new camera, as an early Christmas present from the hubs...so pardon my photos until I get a handle on this DSLR thing ;) I know...some of them are a little blurry...




Root Vegetable Stew with Sausage and Dumplings

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

Stew:
  • 4 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 12 oz. Apple Chicken Sausage (I recommend Al Fresco's Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage)
  • 2 lbs Root Vegetables, or 8 oz. each of Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips & Rutabaga - peeled and diced (could also use/sub Golden Beets and Celeriac; if using parsnips, be sure to quarter and remove the woody core)
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh Rosemary or Thyme (1 tsp if using dried)
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth, reduced sodium
  • 3 cups Leafy Greens, chopped (kale, turnip greens, collards, beet greens, etc.)
Dumplings:
  • 1 3/4 cups Gluten-free Flour Blend, good quality
  • 1 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup low-fat milk (can use non-dairy)
  1. Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausages and cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides - about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Using tongs or a fork if necessary, slice into 1/2-inch rounds with a sharp knife.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tsp of oil in the same dutch oven over medium heat. Saut√© onions until barely tender, about 4 minutes. Add root vegetables and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add garlic and herbs and saut√© until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in broth and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste now, before the dumplings are added!
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings by whisking together the flour, baking powder, salt, and parsley in a medium bowl. Add the egg and milk and whisk until a smooth batter forms. No need to worry about over-mixing here - no gluten, remember?
  4. When the stew starts to simmer, stir in the greens and the sliced sausage. Return the stew to a simmer. Drop the dumpling batter into the simmering liquid in about 1/4 cup measurements, yielding 8-10 dumplings. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cover the dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Cook, undisturbed, until the dumplings are cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 12-15 minutes.
Nutrition per Serving: 419 Calories; 9g Fat; 2g Saturated Fat; 66g Carbohydrate; 6g Fiber; 17g Protein

*Adapted from Eating Well*


Happy gluten-free cooking!