Archive for the ‘Gluten Free’ Category

Skewering meat dates back forever when soldiers would skewer their meat and vegetables with their swords in order to cook them over an open fire. In fact, this method of cooking was preferred because it required no additional equipment to prepare meals for armies as they devastating their opposition.

But in the 21st century, I hate kabobs. I really do. They take too long to skewer, the meat and vegetables often placed alongside rarely cook at the same pace and the quality of finished product is never nearly as good as grilling each item individually. I’d wager that I spend the same amount of time standing over a grill turning each vegetable and protein as I would standing in my kitchen skewering meat and hoping that I didn’t send one of them through my hand.

This is a Thai inspired Coconut Chicken with Grilled Vegetables is easy to prepare and even easier to cook.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/3 c coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp green curry paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Note: You can substitute 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger and 1 small jalapeño pepper for the green curry paste. The more jalapeño you put in, the spicier your chicken will be.

1. Take all ingredients except the chicken and place them in a large zippered freezer bag. Zip the bag and shake around to combine the ingredients. You may have to squeeze the green curry paste a bit to break it up.

Note: You can also choose to place the ingredients in a bowl and then whisk before putting inside of the bag. This will create more dishes to clean, but it will accomplish a more thorough blend.

2. Place the chicken in the bag with the marinade ingredients. Remove as much air as possible and place in the refrigerator. Allow the marinade to work its magic for 4 hours or longer.

Note: I always like to place my marinating bags inside a larger container just in case there is a leak. This will take up more space in your refrigerator, but it’ll safe you any potential cross-contamination in the future.

3. Chop the vegetables into chunky bites. I like quartering peppers and grilling them as is for easy turning. Soft flesh vegetables like onions and zucchini should be cut large so they don’t fall apart on the grill. Toss the vegetables with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with a little kosher salt.

4. Spray your grill with non-stick spray before grilling. Allow the vegetables to char before turning. The chicken will be pretty tender due to the marinade, so be gentle when flipping them over to finish cooking. Chicken should cook for around 2 to 3 minutes on each side, depending on how big your chunks are.

5. Serve hot with a filling side dish like Bulgar Pilaf.

You’re going to have to trust me on this one and try this. Don’t think about, just do it. Forget the fact that bulgar rhymes with vulgar. Forget that it’s a whole grain and 1 cup of it contains more energy and nutrients than the grains you consume in an entire day. Forget that you are going to find this in the organic or natural food aisle of your local grocery store. Forget that this is a staple of Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine where people eat healthier and live longer. This is good stuff all the way around.

I was introduced to bulgar through the Power Foods cookbook put out by Weight Watchers. No, I myself am not a Weight Watchers member, but I was cooking with a friend of mine who had this cookbook. I found the cookbook itself to be really good and the recipes inside introduced me to healthy ways of incorporating a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern spices into my everyday cooking. The idea behind the Power Foods cookbook is to eat more meals that contain power foods which fill you up faster and take longer to digest so that you don’t go back an hour or two later to consume more.

This bulgar pilaf combines the sweetness of golden raisins with the light, nutty taste of bulgar complimented by various spices used through the Middle East. I strongly encourage you to give this recipe a try as a side to your next dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2c chicken stock
  • 1 1/2c medium, quick-cooking bulgar
  • 1/2c golden raisins
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

1. In a medium sauce pot, place 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Place the onions in the pan and sauté until nearly translucent. Add the garlic and combine until the garlic is fragrant.

2. Add the spices to the pan. Combine with the onions and garlic and cook until the spices are fragrant. Add the chicken stock to the pan and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a boil. Add the bulgar and raisins to the pan, cover with a tight lid, and turn off the heat.

3. Allow the bulgar to sit for 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve warm.

When I was growing up, I often tried to help my Dad by carrying the tools or shining a  flashlight whenever he was making repairs to the house or the family car. Something inevitably would go wrong and he always cursed his lack of the proper tools. Even today, we still joke about never having the right tool for the job.

I only bring this up because risotto intimidates many people, but it would be made incredibly simple by having the right tool for the job. In my Boston Baked Beans post, I mention the versatility of the pressure cooker and how it can make you life easier and introduce you to a whole new realm of cuisine. Here is yet another delightful application that can be made from start to finish in less than 20 minutes.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 lb scallops (U-12 preferred)
  • 4 c chicken stock
  • 2 c Arborio rice
  • 1 1/4 c parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c White wine
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 4 tbsp butter
1. Take the scallops out of the refrigerator and set on the counter. Mince the onion and add to a pressure cooker with 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Sweat the onion for 3 minutes ensuring you do not caramelize the onion. Turn the heat up to high and add the rice to the onion and continue until the rice begins to toast.
     

2. Very carefully, add the white wine to the rice. Wait for the steam to subside and then add the chicken stock and lemon zest to the pot. Stir to combine.
     
Note: If you prefer a more deliberate lemon flavor in you risotto, add 1/4 c lemon juice and reduce the wine to 1/4 c.

3. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and bring up to the highest steam level possible. When the button has popped, reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and set a timer for 7 minutes.

4. As the rice is cooking, put two sauté pans over high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter to each pan. When the fat is nearly smoking, add the scallops to the pans ensuring that the pan is not crowded and the scallops do not touch. DO NOT TOUCH the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the pan.

          


5. When the timer sounds, release the steam from the pressure cooker. Take the lid off and add the parmesan cheese and remaining butter. Stir and allow to melt.
     
6. Serve the scallops on top of a heaping pile of risotto. Garnish with lemon slices or quarters.

Traditional pestos were made using a mortar and pestle. Cooks would start by placing the nuts and garlic in first and grinding/pounding it down to a cream before adding the basil and other ingredients. In fact, pesto got its name from the Italian word pestare, which means to pound, crush. Nowadays, only the most devout cooks still use a mortar and pestle and choose to instead grind the ingredients together in a food processor.

This recipe is an adaptation to a traditional pesto alla genovese which is made from basil, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and salt. However, I find pine nuts to be obnoxiously expensive and lacking in texture in the final product. Thus, I’ve replaced them with walnuts which I find provide a nuttier flavor and an additional texture.

Ingredients (makes about 3 cups)

  • 1 bunch of basil (about 18 cups loosely packed)
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 c walnuts
  • 1 c parmesan cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
1. When you have this many basil leaves, you will have to make this in batches. Pick the basil leaves off the stem. While the stems are edible, I find the texture to be bit fibrous.
     
2. Place half the leaves in a food processor. Turn on until the leaves are chopped, but not minced. Add half the walnuts and garlic cloves. Pulse several times until these are chopped down. Add half the cheese and pulse three or four times until combined.
               
3. With the food processor running, slowly pour olive oil into the mixture. It will begin to form a paste and will lighten as you put more in. How much you pour in is completely up to you. I go by color. When it reaches a green that I like, I stop. Remember, you can always add more, but if you add too much, you can’t take it away.

4. Taste the pesto and season with salt and pepper. Add more olive oil if necessary. Pulse to incorporate the seasoning into the sauce.

5. Chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours. Let come to room temperature before using. This a versatile sauce that can be placed on chicken, pork, or pasta. You can also use it as a marinade or to brighten up rice. This will make plenty, so you can experiment. This recipe will keep fresh for about two weeks or you freeze it for later use.

Technically, what I have for you here is not bruschetta. Technically, this is just tomato salad and the bruschetta part only comes into play when you toast some bread and place this on top.  But what-ever. You know exactly what I’m going to show you how to make today and if you reached this through an internet search, you probably typed in “bruschetta” hoping to find exactly this. Far be it for me to deny my readers what they want.

Ingredients (makes about 3 cups)

  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 1 yellow tomato
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1. Cut each tomato in half and scoop out the pulp. Dice the tomato halves. There is no rush, so take your time and keep the skin side up when dicing the tomato to make the cuts easier. Place the diced tomatoes into a large mixing bowl.

     

Note: Apparently when you place a yellow tomato on a green cutting board, it comes out orange in pictures. Who knew?

2. Mince the garlic, cut the basil into thin ribbons, and zest the entire lemon. Add these ingredients to the bowl with the tomatoes along with 1 tbsp lemon juice.

       3. Add the olive oil and combine all ingredients with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Serve chilled over fish, chicken, or with bread.

Tomatoes this summer have been amazing! I have been astounded by the quantity of high quality tomatoes in the supermarkets and farmers markets. I have enjoyed a long love affair with tomatoes. My father hates tomatoes (he says they aren’t ripe yet) and when I was growing up I would often relieve him of his tomatoes at restaurants, a practice I continue today. There was even a time when I was a child that I would eat a tomato like an apple with nothing but a salt shaker. Call me crazy, but I know there are people out there that know exactly what I’m talking about.

Here is an easy recipe to use those beautiful on the vine tomatoes that have been abundant this summer. Don’t mistake this sauce for Grandma’s 12 hour marinara that simmers all day and requires a 20 gallon steel pot. This is a fresh, by the batch version meant to be eaten in one sitting.

Ingredients

  • 4 vine ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt

1. Turn the burner onto high heat and place a tomato directly on the cooking surface. Allow the tomato to begin to char and turn. Continue until you get some charred (or at least browned) skin on all sides. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes.

    

Note: There are other ways to char a tomatoes such as grilling, placing them under a broiler, or using a blowtorch (not recommended). The important thing it to get the char flavor on the tomato.

2. Place the tomatoes in a food processor. Pulse until the tomatoes are broken down, but still chunky. Then add the onion and the garlic and pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    

3. In a shallow saute pan, heat a couple tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Pour in the tomato mixture and simmer until the sauce thickens.

    

4. Serve over spaghetti, on pizza, or as a dipping sauce. This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

When I was living in New York City, I frequented a food cart at the corner of 18th Street and 5th Avenue (not the one pictured right, but pretty close). For about $5, I could get a gyro plate with my choice of steak, chicken, or lamb. The lamb was cut right off the rotisserie and tasted out of this world compared to other food carts in the city. The first few times I visited, the guy asked if I wanted any white sauce with my meal. Not knowing anything about the culinary world, I thought he was talking about mayo, so I said, “No thanks.” But one day I wasn’t paying attention and said yes. He squirted a generous helping all over the plate before I could say anything. It was my mistake, and I didn’t want to make a fuss, so I took my food to the park. Man, I had been missing out for weeks.

Tzatziki sauce is yogurt based and is usually made with a combination of dill or mint (sometimes parsley), cucumbers, and lemon juice. It is light and refreshing, and perfect as a new accompaniment to your summer barbecues.

Ingredients (makes 3 cups)

  • 3c plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dill

1. Begin by straining your yogurt. Set a fine mesh strainer over a glass bowl. Scoop the yogurt onto the strainer and leave for a couple of hours.

     

Note: If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, use a couple of coffee filters over a colander. The idea is you want to let as much liquid drain from the yogurt as possible.

2. Peel the cucumber, and cut it in half. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and chop the cucumber halves into pieces. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp salt  and place in a colander for 30 minutes. This will give the salt time to remove water from the cucumbers.

     

Note: Cucumbers are 95% water. If you don’t remove some of the moisture from the cucumbers, you are going to have a  thin sauce. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

3. Place the strained yogurt, cucumber slices, lemon juice, dill, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture has come together. Season with salt and pepper. If the mixture is too thick for your taste, add another tbsp of lemon juice or water.

4. Place in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The longer you allow the sauce to sit, the more the flavors will come together. Serve with lamb, grilled salmon, chicken, or use as a healthy dip.