Monday, May 24, 2010

Yes, yes I do need that!

There are, admittedly, many kitchen gadgets that just take up space awkwardly and serve no useful purpose. However, none of those are in my kitchen, despite what the naysayers yammer on about. What prompted this post? My beloved mango slicer from Oxo! Yes, it does look odd, however it is perfectly designed to cut a swath around the seed of the mango, leaving me with only the luscious fruit inside. I love summer when mangoes appear with such abundance; I have smoothies, I make Indian-esque curries and soups and, let's be honest- I eat it plain, right off the skin. It is just sooo yummy. And when I made chicken salad with mangoes, it was just the perfect summer lunch; it was also gfree & dairy free! So even though I didn't beat the mongering hordes to grab any pictures (apologies, I really do need to practice that) I thought I would post the recipe for the blog to balance out all my sweet recipes. It is adapted from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer cookbook (yes, yes I do really like her) and is perfect for leftover chicken; in fact, that is how she presents the recipe and called it Golden Jubilee chicken salad (for the year of creation, not because the Queen ate it. Although, she should, it is that good). I, however, feel it is totally and completely worthy of roasting chicken for! So that is what I did, and I am fairly sure you will agree once you have eaten this.

I also posted this on Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Spicy Mango Chicken Salad

7-8 chicken breasts (I did boneless skinless, as that was what was on sale.)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons safflower oil (or oil of your choice)
3-4 mangoes (or more if you are a mango lover)
1-2 serrano chiles (or more if you like really spicy)
1 teaspoon coconut sap sugar (this could be omitted, but I like the bit of flavor it adds, plus it helps macerate the fruit; do as you will)
7-8 limes (yes, I know this is LOTS of lime juice, but you will be drizzling oil over)
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped (cilantro seems to be divisive, so adjust quantities as you will. but the flavor is marvelous, so please just don't edit it out. unless you are allergic/intolerant)
Small head of butter lettuce (or your leafy green of choice)
Additional Oil for drizzling.

Preheat oven to 350 degreesF.

In a skillet over medium/high heat, add spices and stir til everything is smelling aromatic, maybe 1 minute or so. Now add the 2 tablespoons of oil & whisk together. Have your chicken breasts in a roasting pan, 9 x 13 Pyrex, whatever you are roasting them in. Brush the chicken with the spice/oil mixture, evenly coating all the breasts. Bake them for 35-40 minutes, til the are done, registering 170 degrees on your thermometer (which is my favorite kitchen gadget evah! I <3 thermo pen).
At this point, I cover the chicken and stick in the refrigerator overnight. Then when I am ready to serve salad I combine the fruit and chicken; however, feel free to cool the chicken down and do this all in one setting.
Now I use my much adored Oxo mango slicer and pit my mangoes, then chop them into rough squares, putting them in a large bowl. Chop the Serrano chile(s); if you like heat, leave the seeds, if not then seed the chiles as well and add to mangoes. Add the coconut sap sugar. Squeeze all the lime juice over the mangoes & chiles. Stir to combine. Now, at this point I usually put a cover my bowl and put in the refrigerator overnight as I like to let the flavor combination develop; again, feel free to carry on with out this.
Now, that the chicken is cold, chop it into rough cubes. Add to the mango mixture and toss/stir well to combine. Add the cilantro and stir again. Now, divide your butter lettuce (which I use since I agree with Nigella in that it pairs beautifully with the aggressive flavors of chicken & mangoes, but do as you will) onto however many plates you are using. Scoop out the chicken salad onto the bed of lettuce and drizzle just a bit of oil over the top (Nigella used peanut or sesame, but for those with allergies choose wisely). This serves 8-10 (I am really not joking about the mongering hordes) but also keep well for a day or two, so is good for leftovers.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

biscuit love, baby

Any person from the South will tell you that any kitchen that does not produce biscuits is not a kitchen. Biscuits are the staple- you have them for breakfast, you have them with roast, and you even use them for dessert. Now, traditional Southern biscuits are usually made with low protein white flour; I have a bag of White Lily flour for just such a purpose, or you could also use cake flour because that low protein is what gives them that ethereal fluffiness, that lightness of crumb that tastes divine right out of the oven and even better with butter. But how do you make fluffy biscuits gluten, dairy & soy free? Fortunately, I did not have to much figuring out myself! Once again Cybele Pascal's Baker's Handbook had a fabulous recipe for baking powder biscuits! I changed it up a little, as tinkering is just a part of my nature, and I liked the texture of a little more cornstarch, the coconut flour & believe it or not just a bit of brown rice flour. The solid dairy free, soy free vegetable shortening stood in for butter. Anyone who has ever put Crisco in the freezer to bake knows that it never quite gets solid in the freezer, so it works perfectly; however, Spectrum makes their shortening with palm oil. Which gets SOLID. I had to grate it on a box grater into the flour mix! However, that is actually a technique(I found out later)that the Cook's Illustrated people use to get precisely even amounts of fat into their biscuit recipe. I also did not use a biscuit cutter; in my family we made biscuits round by pulling off part of the dough, gently patting it into a vaguely round shape, and then dropping them onto the hot cookie sheet. The other traditional thing I did was oven temperature; I cranked the oven to 500 degrees to preheat. Then when I put in the biscuits in, I immediately turn the oven down to 400 degrees; the initial boost of heat helps boost the volume of the biscuit, helping to achieve that coveted fluffiness. I will say these are not the same as grand mama's biscuits-but they are flat out amazing for being gluten free vegan biscuits. You can see in the picture we used some of the leftover biscuits for strawberry shortcake (notice the whipped rice cream from a can!) Love the biscuit, baby!
I also linked this post to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

G-free, Vegan Biscuits

3 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix (I like Bob's Red Mills)
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons corn starch (if you can't do corn, sub as needed)
2 tablespoons tapioca starch
2 tablespoons brown rice flour (I like Authentic foods)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons double acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon evaporated cane juice
1 cup dairy free, soy free vegetable shortening, chilled (I like Spectrum-if you want to grate it into your flour, measure this cup at room temp, then put in the freezer. otherwise, measure the cup and put in fridge)
2 cups plain yogurt (I used coconut)

Preheat oven to 500 degreesF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, starches, xanthan gum, salt, cane juice, & baking powder.
Now, grate your frozen shortening into your four mix. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers until you have a pea sized crumb, and when compressed the flour mix holds together. Add the yogurt and stir until just combined, making sure you incorporate the crumbs at the bottom of the bowl. Okay, if you just can't make biscuits without a biscuit cutter, dust a work area with gfree flour mix. GENTLY pat dough into a 1 inch thick disc, pressing in any loose bits. Use a 2 1/2 inch floured round biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits. Cut them as close together as possible and DO NOT rotate the biscuit cutter- straight up and down, in and out of the dough. Transfer biscuits to baking sheet. (you can also brush the tops with milk of your choice, for shiny topped biscuits) Now, I just pull off a racquetball sized piece of dough, GENTLY pat it into a 1 inch disc (maybe 2-3 pats, max- the less you handle to dough, the better your biscuits will be) and transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat until all biscuit dough is gone. The biscuit cutter will garner you 12 biscuits. You get 14 with my grand mama's method. Now as soon as you put the biscuits in the oven, TURN DOWN the temperature to 400 degreesF. Bake in center of oven for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden. Transfer to rack to cool or eat warm.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

celebration of 100 days not eating food

Because Leslie is intolerant of so many things, it has become our joke that she is allergic to food. Following her diet is hard, especially when you have a crazy work schedule and tempting food is always there. So when Leslie told me she had been strictly following her diet for hundred days, I felt there should be celebration! There was pork roast, salad, and roasted mashed sweet potatoes, all gfree and veganish(I say veganish, because I doubt pork is technically vegan, but no dairy products). And for dessert I made baby lemon cakes, adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess because they are some of our favorite lemon cakes to be had. And the recipe lent itself, I think, quite easily to adapting to gfree, but also no dairy products. I replaced the dairy yogurt with coconut, eggs with applesauce, butter with coconut oil and the flour with my gfree mix. Nigella makes it with a powdered sugar &lemon juice icing, but I had been reading on several good people's blogs about the joy that is whipped coconut cream! I must try it!! As you can see from my picture, for whatever reason it did not whip to the same heights as traditional whipped cream, but it was delicious! I will have to experiment with this all again; most blogs told you to leave the cans in overnight and to put the bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer a good 3 hours before whipping. Uh huh. My bowl and whisk attachment were in the freezer maybe an hour, although my coconut milk in the can was in refrigerator overnight. Next time I will see if freezing the bowl for longer makes that much of a difference. I will also try to practice my food photography; on everybody else's blog all the food is soo pretty! Examples: I've linked this post to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday. :)

Baby Lemon Cakes

1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used coconut)
6 tablespoons coconut oil (Nigella used melted butter, and you measure coconut oil after you've melted it! how perfect was that?)
1/2 cup of applesauce
zest & juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of gfree flour mix (I used Bob's Red Mills)
1 tablespoon finely ground brown rice flour (Authentic foods)
1 tablespoon of potato starch
1 tablespoon of tapioca starch
2 tablespoons of coconut flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum
7 tablespoons of sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degreesF. Nigella calls for a baby bundt pan; I used a baby loaf pan. You could also do cupcakes! Whatever pan you use, prepare with liners or grease& flour.

Mix together in large bowl the yogurt, applesauce, zest of 1 lemon and then the juice of that lemon. Nigella uses this juice for her icing, but since i am planning on coconut cream, I just dumped it in the batter. (I am strangely impulsive that way, plus I figured the juice would react with the baking soda and help with lift since there are no eggs)

Whisk together the flours, starches, sugar, baking soda, & xanthan gum in a medium bowl. Melt the coconut oil; measure out 6 tablespoons and add to the yogurt mixture. Add the dry ingredients to the yogurt mixture and mix til just incorporated.

Portion out into your prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. It took 25 for my little baby loaf pan, but the cupcakes only took 20. Basically, when they are lightly brown and your kitchen is redolent of lemon, they are done. They also spring back when touched. Makes 6 baby bundts/loaves or 9 cupcakes.