Monday, September 27, 2010

adopt a gluten free blogger- celiacs in the house!

Wendy does an amazing job with two teenagers and finding healthy things for them to eat! This woman always fascinates me, as I have barely been able to manage myself, let alone help out my sister, but Wendy certainly manages her family's food with aplomb and verve. Our first instinct (ok, maybe just mine) is to hate people like that, the perfect organizers, but I think her love of food and family can teach us all a lesson on how to eat better for ourselves and our families. Sea is hosting adopt a gluten free blogger this month, and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for a beginner like me to learn! She has several recipes that I want to try with adaptations for Leslie. Since our instructions were to post a link to the original recipe, I needed to find one that fit all of Leslie's limitations, not just no gluten. This small caveat taught me that I should, perhaps, read the entire set of instructions before responding with a happy yes. Honestly, though, if I had read through her blog and noticed this, I might not have adopted her-and that would have been my loss. Her photos are beautiful and make me hungry! Her explorations of her local food markets and gluten free avenues are vividly posited for us, in the happenstance that we might visit her neck of the woods. Her education becomes our education, since she posts on learning about canning and how delicious it can be. I persevered and found Turkey cutlets with a mustard pan sauce! Ok, I didn't have any turkey cutlets, but I had chicken breasts in my freezer. Wendy has beautiful photos of her farmer's market haul of asparagus and strawberries from that day; I had zucchini (yes still, I wasn't joking about the glut) in my house that I needed to eat before they started paying rent in my kitchen. While I am happy with just chicken and simply sauteed veggies, I am admittedly weird, so we added some Jasmine rice to soak up that mustard pan sauce goodness. And everyone should be very proud of me- notice 2 pictures! One of the pan sauce, in the pan and one of everything assembled on the plate. Yes I know it is a paper plate; I am moving and for whatever reason, decided that my dishes were getting packed up first(weird- told you so). The paper plates did not one iota deter us from digging in to this amazing lunch and there were no leftovers-and we aren't even teenagers!

Monday, September 20, 2010

the last dance of the summer bbq

Here in the mile high city, we had a record 96 degrees this past weekend; serendipitously, I had decided to host one last bbq before our mercurial weather decided it should snow in September (hey, it's snowed here in JULY-you never know). When I barbecue, I turn to Steven Raichlen's Barbecue Bible (he is THE grill master, I tell you!) and the recipe I did this weekend was his North Carolina Style pulled pork- mainly because I didn't have to change anything for it to be gfree and dairy free. Plus, you get pulled pork with coleslaw, as you make the same sauce for both slaw and pork! Now, he grills this on a gas grill outside; as I wasn't going to be home Friday til late and didn't want to burn down my apartment building, I used his suggestion to do it in my oven. This is another of those recipes that people think they can't do because it requires time, and they could not possibly be more wrong. Yes it cooks for 12 hours- however, put it on before you go to bed, let it roast away and by the time people start to show up for food, it is done! As an added bonus, your house will be redolent of roast pork. And let me tell you, there will be absolutely no leftovers.

This is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

I have also linked this to Gluten Free Wednesday and Real Food Wednesdays- yummy recipes all around!

North Carolina Style Pulled Pork

1 9-12 pound pork shoulder (aka Boston Butt-bone in is better, but honestly I've made with boneless and it still came out amazing)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar (i've also done palm sugar, for those of you trying to avoid refined sugar)

Preheat oven to 250 degreesF. Whisk together spices with brown sugar. Cut small slits in the fat along the pork shoulder; now rub the spice mixture all over the pork shoulder. Place seasoned pork into your roasting pan, 9 x 13 Pyrex, dutch oven, whatever you have that is big enough for 12 pounds of meat. (Now, you can do this and then stick the whole mess in the fridge for up to 24 hours if desired.) Now, cover the pan with foil (or lid if using dutch oven) and slowly roast the pork for at least 12 hours; it can go as long as 18. If you can manage it, take the lid or foil off the pork and crank up heat to 475 degreesF for the last 30-45 minutes or so. You don't have to do this, but I like the crust it gives the pork- however, it still works beautifully if you don't have the inclination/time to do this. Your house will smell divine.
Now, after you take the pork out of the oven, let rest for however long it takes you to get your Vinegar Sauce and coleslaw together- at least 30 minutes. Discard any bones and and most of the fatty au jus, you do want a little in the bottom; I eyeball, so whatever you think looks good.(I store my au jus in the freezer for later cooking-do as you will). Now you shred- or pull- the pork. I do this with tongs and a fork, but two forks work too; the point is that you wanted shredded pork that will sop up all that yummy sauce. Ok, now your pork is shredded so add in the remaining 2 cups of Vinegar Sauce- toss your pork to coat. Now serve with the slaw. You can also serve this on buns that are gfree friendly- but honestly, we eat it in little mountains with corn tortillas. I know, we're weird. Served our marauding band of 20 on Saturday.

2 bags of shredded cabbage (now, you could always want to slice 2-3 heads of cabbage yourself- your CSA box could be overflowing. I was feeling slothlike. Too much volleyball.)
1 cup of Vinegar Sauce (recipe follows)

Put cabbage in large bowl. Toss with one cup of Vinegar Sauce. Whew. Done.

Vinegar Sauce

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup (I tend to make my own-yes I'm that food nerd- but Heinz organic is pretty good too.)
1/2 cup brown sugar (again, palm sugar works here; you could also try honey)
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
2 tablespoons of chipotle Tabasco (this is my addition-I think it is fabulous! you can omit, if you choose)
2 cups apple cider vinegar (or to taste)
1 cup of water (to taste)

In a large bowl, whisk the spices with the brown sugar. Add ketchup and Tabasco (if using). Add the apple cider vinegar and water, whisk to fully incorporate. Now taste the sauce- it should be tart, vinegary; remember it is going to encase slow roasted pork, so you don't want too sweet, but adjust tartness/sweetness to your taste. Want more sweet? Add ketchup. More tart? Add vinegar.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Farmer's Market God smiled on Zucchini

Zucchini, for me, is the epitome of summer. I have so many different recipes for this lovely vegetable-steamed, sauteed, stuffed, casserole, etc. But even my enthusiam can wane under the absolute glut of zucchini. The farmer's market god did indeed smile on zucchini-mayhap even gave it a kiss as I don't think I have ever seen so much zucchini! Somehow, though, there is always another recipe to renew my joy in this lovely summer veggie. My new favorite is Michael Symon's-a raw zucchini salad! I served it with my braised short ribs and polenta. Now I didn't post a polenta recipe-like rice, polenta is 1 part polenta to 2 parts liquid. There are other fancier ways to do it, but most of them use dairy which many, including Leslie can't have. I will however post the zucchini salad recipe, because it is divine and perfect as is. Plus, you thinly slice the zucchini-I am always excited at any chance to use my mandoline! I love all sorts of kitchen tools- and this one gives me perfect, thin, even slices faster than I ever imagined possible. Although, I have done it with a knife, and it has come out perfectly too.

I have submitted this to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Zucchini Salad

2 zucchini (about 3/4 pound, thinly sliced)
2 yellow summer squash (about 1 pound, thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon salt (Michael used kosher, I used sea)
1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 small clove)
1 shallot, finely sliced
Grated zest and juice of 3 lemons, or to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/3 cup fresh dill

Combine the zucchini and squash in a colander in the sink and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over it. Toss to coat, and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes- no longer ! Otherwise, the texture will be mush-you'll lose the crunch as the salt will have removed too much of the water. In a large bowl, combine the garlic and shallot, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and whisk in lemon zest and juice. Whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream, and then the almonds and dill. Taste for seasoning and acidity(it should be nicely acidic).
Add zucchini to dressing, toss, and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

If you need to make ahead, slice zucchini and squash up to an hour before salting; cover with damp towel and leave at room temperature. Make up the vinaigrette up to 3 hours in advance.

fast is not always good

I am up for fast, delicious meals just as much as the next guy. But sometimes in the frantic pace that has become our life, I think we are missing out on things that are amazing and divinely yummy because we talk ourselves out of it-that will take too long, that ingredient list is 2 paragraphs, etc. Pffft! I am here to say that sometimes we need the food that has been prepared in a fashion that has largely passed out of of favor with the majority of people. Why out of favor? Because many people are too used to thinking: "how can I make dinner in 30 minutes or less?" And let me reiterate, that is, in and of itself, not a bad thing! My point is that I think we forgo other recipes and miss out on their brilliance and flavors that only slow and involved cooking can create. Case in point: short ribs. Now I adore pork-pork belly, bacon, pancetta, prosciutto, pork roast, and the list goes on and on. Somehow though, veal short ribs are one of my favorite things to cook. Some people think this process is too complicated, time consuming, etc.- no, no it is not!! Let me tell you-roasted, then braised short ribs are proof God loves us and wants us to be happy. And the best part is that this recipe is inherently allergy friendly! No gluten. No dairy. Fabulous! Now I used to serve short ribs with mashed potatoes, because this is comfort food and short ribs produce a fantastic sauce. However, mashed potatoes sans cream &butter are just not the same. Michael Symon suggests serving his with polenta-genius! It is my new favorite cookbook, especially as he has a salted zucchini salad that is amazing too-also allergy friendly. Now you will notice the recipe below isn't Michael Symons; that is because there are a gazillion short rib recipes, honestly. Some of the tell you to dredge in spiced flour, then pan sear; others have you thicken the sauce with all kinds of non allergy friendly things. Anyone that has written a cookbook that includes meat probably has one, so the recipe I list below is a melange of several people's brilliance that I have taken and probably not done justice to.

I have linked this to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

This post is also linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays

Braised Short Ribs

6 pounds beef/veal short ribs on the bone(the bone gives flavor! DO NOT USE BONELESS)
4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 leek, outer green leaves removed and roughly chopped.
1 Bay leaf
10-12 sprigs of Italian Parsley
1-2 sprigs of thyme (you could also use rosemary or oregano)
1 bottle of red wine (I prefer Cabernet Sauvingon, but to each his own)
2-4 cups chicken stock, as needed (or veggie-whatever you have that is gfree, etc.)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Now you are going to want to start these the day before you plan on serving them. Honestly, there isn't alot of hands on effort-the oven does most of the work while you are off doing other things.
Preheat your oven to 400 degreesF. Get out your roasting pan, 9x13 pyrex, or whatever you have that you like to roast meat in. In a small bowl, mix a a little bit of pepper and salt- I like freshly ground and about half salt, half pepper, but to each their own. Rub the salt and pepper over the ribs and place them in the pan fairly close together. Scatter the chopped onion and 2 of the chopped carrots over and amongst the short ribs. Roast for an hour to an hour and half- til the ribs are brown and all the drippings are caramelizing.

Meanwhile, while the ribs are roasting, get on with the sauce! Ideally, you want a pot that can go from stove top to oven; however, not everyone has one, so I'll give two methods. So, pour your wine into the pot, over medium/high heat. Add the rest of the carrots, garlic, leek, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn heat down to low and let the wine be gently heated with the aromatics until the ribs are done.

Now we'll do the stove top braising method first: add the ribs into the wine. (you can also dump in the roasted carrots and onion-I do, but my sister doesn't) You may have to pack them in tightly and that is fine. Now the braising liquid should barely cover the ribs; if not, then add some chicken stock to cover. Now take a piece of foil and crumple it slightly and put over the whole mess, then cover with the lid. Leave on medium/low heat for about 3 hours, til the ribs are tender and a knife slides cleanly in and out.
Oven method: Reduce oven heat to 225 degreesF. Add the ribs (also roasted carrots& onion if desired) to the wine, pack in tightly. Again liquid should barely cover ribs; add stock as needed. Put on the lid and place in over for about 3 hours, til the ribs are tender and knife slides cleanly.

Remove ribs to a bowl. Strain the liquid into the bowl over the ribs and refrigerate overnight. (you can also put the ribs and strained liquid back into the pot you braised them& leave in fridge-just depends on how much room is in your fridge)
Now, as the ribs cool they will reabsorb some of the liquid and the flavor that comes with it. This is why you make them a day ahead; the flavor is unbeatable. And I really do think that it is the easiest dinner for people ever, since the oven does most of the work. Your guests will think you have channeled some famous chef and toiled all day in the kitchen; but in reality, you spent maybe 30 minutes and then toddled off to bed. Another perk of this spending the night in the fridge is that all the fat will congeal on top of bowl/pan and you can remove that easily.

Now it is the day you are serving them. Heat your oven up to 325 degreesF. Skim fat off the top of the sauce/ribs. Place the defatted ribs/sauce in the oven to warm gently through, about 30 min. Place ribs on a platter and keep warm, while you simmer the sauce til it is reduced by half, 20-30 minutes. Now you can debone the ribs for serving or let your guests do that. I think they look marvelous with the bone, next to the polenta. Serves 6.