Archive for the ‘Gluten Free’ Category

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.

For me, there is nothing more American than potato salad. Sure apple pie gets the glory, but potato salad brings back childhood memories of fireworks, summer cookouts, family, block parties, and everything else quintessentially suburban.

I wanted to reinvent the classic by adding additional flavor while cutting the amount of mayonnaise that usually masks the potato flavor. Here, the potatoes are enhanced by the addition of fresh dill and whole grain mustard delivered in a mayonnaise and sour cream base. By adding apple cider vinegar, this potato salad will keep your guests guessing what your secret is.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 1 1/2 lbs red bliss potatoes (about 6 – 7 small/medium potatoes)
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c sour cream
  • 1/4 c Vidalia onion, minced
  • 3 tbsp fresh dill
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
1. Scrub the potatoes and place in a pot of salted water. Boil for 15 – 20 minutes until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Be careful not to overcook. Drain and let cool.

2. While the potatoes are boiling, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, dill, and cider vinegar in a large bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Place in the refrigerator.

3. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into bite size cubes. Place the potatoes in a bowl with the onion and egg. Pour the sauce over the potato mixture and combine. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. The flavor will only get better the longer it sits.

4. Serve cold with some fresh dill on top for garnish.

My wife gets and deserves all the credit for this one. One day I asked her to make some chicken salad with the leftover chicken breasts that I hadn’t used the night before. When I came back from work, she had prepared this exact recipe using only what we had in the house. This was far and away the greatest chicken salad I had ever tasted, and the next day, the flavor got even better. This is something that makes you legen – wait for it – dary (I’ve recently gotten hooked on How I Met Your Mother reruns) when unveiled at a family gathering, picnic, or anywhere that people gather.

The key to this entire dish is the sauteed onions that are allowed to cool and poaching the chicken breasts in chicken stock and vegetables. You could easily substitute a rotisserie chicken if you are short on time, but you should skip to step 2 if you choose to do so.

Ingredients (serves 4 lunch portions)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion (half diced, half quartered)
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 3 c chicken stock
  • 1 c red seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp fresh tarragon (substitute 1/3 tsp dried)
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4c chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Place the chicken breasts, 1 half of the onion (quartered), 1 stalk of celery (chopped), the carrots, chicken stock, and a handful of parsley in a stock pot. The chicken stock should just cover the chicken breasts. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Cook covered for 10 – 15 minutes.


2. Remove the chicken breasts to a cutting board and let cool. When cool enough to handle, cut into bite sized pieces.

3. While the chicken is cooling, dice the second half of the onion. Place a saute pan over medium high heat and place the onion with a couple tbsp of olive oil inside. Saute until translucent. Put the onions in a bowl and place in the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes.


4. In a separate bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, and dijon mustard until just combined.


5. Place the bite sized chicken breasts, chilled onions, 1 stalk of diced celery, and tarragon in a large bowl. Pour in 3/4 of the dressing and mix to combine. If the mixture needs more dressing, add it to taste. Finishing by adding the grapes and walnuts and combine all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 4 hours (overnight if possible).


6. Serve cold on lettuce cups, inside a sandwich, or however you like your chicken salad. Garnish with whole walnuts.

I love baked beans but I hate to wait for them. There’s the soaking, and the drying, and the mixing, and the baking for upward of 5 hours. A boy’s gotta eat and I can’t sit around all day waiting. Luckily, I have a pressure cooker that defies the rules of the kitchen and introduces intense amount of pressure that break the beans down quickly completing the meal from start to finish in around 30 minutes. This dish is sweet, sticky, and tangy and sure to become a family favorite.

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, I couldn’t recommend a piece of specialty kitchen equipment more. I bought mine to start canning my own preserves, but quickly found it had many more uses. It makes perfect risotto in under 10 minutes without ever needing to stand over the stove stirring, breaks down a pot roast to a perfect tenderness in around 40 minutes, and even makes chocolate cake. Cake, people! Cooked on the stove! If your in the market, I recommend the Fagor Duo. It’s made of high quality stainless steel, and has two pressure settings to maximize its uses.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 7 c cold water
  • 1 lb navy beans, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 c molasses
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c (4 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp whole gain dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
1. Put the beans, water, bay leaves, and 1 tbsp olive oil in a pressure cooker. Secure the lid and bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure. Lower the heat to the lowest setting possible and cook for 15 minutes. Release the steam and drain the beans into a colander set over a bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid.
2. While the beans are cooking, saute the onion and garlic in a medium sauce pan over high heat. When the onion begins to brown, mix in the molasses, light brown sugar, tomato paste, mustard, and cinnamon. Turn the heat off and combine all ingredients.
3. Return the beans to the pressure cooker with the onion-molasses mixture and 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Secure the lid and bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure. Lower the heat to the lowest setting and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Release the steam. If the beans are not tender, place the lid back on, but do not lock. Boil for an additional 5 – 10 minutes.
4. The sauce will thicken as it sits, but if you prefer, mash 1/2 cup of beans with a fork, return to the pan, and stir. Serve with hot dog slices if you wish.

I love using crimini mushrooms. They pack all the meaty flavor of Portobello mushrooms inside a small, easily manipulated, package. Best of all, they are conveniently found in any local supermarket. For those that are not as comfortable with super sharp knives and small produce, you can often find these mushrooms pre-sliced as well.

In a previous post about picking side dishes, I mentioned how I enjoy looking at menus and deciphering what to place alongside my main entrees. This title came from a steakhouse in Omaha, Nebraska. I’ve noticed in my travels over the past couple of years that Executive Chef’s have been using the word “salad” liberally these days to dress up their menus and make their dishes sound more sophisticated than they actually are. In essence, a salad is a mix of ingredients topped with a sauce. Thus, below is my best interpretation of what this steakhouse might have served had I been there.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 12 oz grass fed porterhouse steaks
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne Pepper (or to taste)

1. Start by blending the brown sugar, ground mustard, sweet paprika, garlic powder, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl. Be sure to break up the clumps of brown sugar.

2. Rub the spice mixture on the steaks and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes. There are two reasons for this. The first is this will allow the spices to melt into meat and ensure the flavors are consistent in every bite. The second is you want to allow your meat to come to room temperature. When cold meat meets a hot pan, it instantly sticks and you’ll have to fight to get it off. This is a fight, by the way, that you won’t win without casualties.

3. While the steak is marinating, slice the mushrooms thin and add the shallots to a hot pan with olive oil over medium high heat (a 7 on the dial). Saute until the mushrooms have caramelized.

4. Remove the mushrooms and place the pan back over the heat. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan to deglaze the pan. Make sure to scrape up any brown bits left behind. Add the vinegar to the mushrooms.

Note: You have a few options to cook your steaks. You can grill, broil, and roast them. For this recipe, I decided to butter baste them. This is good if you are cooking a small amount of steaks. If you are having the family over, for time purposes, it would be best to grill or broil the steaks.

5. Add 2 tbsp butter and an equal amount of olive oil to a pan and place over medium high heat. Once nearly smoking, add the steak to the pan. It should instantly sizzle. After a few minutes, tilt the pan slightly towards you and use a spoon to spoon the hot oil/butter over the steak. After five minutes, flip the steak and baste again. Set the steak under some aluminum foil to rest. Clean the pan out between steaks.

6. Plate your steak and add the mushroom salad on top. Spoon any juices over the steak. Here I’ve served the steak over french fries that will soak up the steak and mushroom juices.

Bubba (Benjamin Buford Blue) informs his best friend Forrest Gump of 8 different ways to cook shrimp and 13 dishes that could be made with these techniques. According to Bubba, “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That – that’s about it.” Although Bubba did know about stir frying shrimp, his life was cut tragically short and he was never provided the opportunity to try gingered shrimp. He would have been a fan.

This is a quick and easy meal that can be put together in about 20 minutes. The key to this meal (and all stir fry) is to prepare your ingredients ahead of time. This will allow you to throw everything into the wok and cook in a few short minutes. As a side note, many people and nearly every restaurant I’ve ever been to leave the tails on for presentation. In my culinary mind, shrimp with their tails on are meant to be dipped in cocktail sauce – otherwise, the tails should be taken off completely. The presentation, however, is entirely up to you.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 inch piece fresh ginger
  • 2 c snow peas
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp corn starch

1. Peel the ginger. Cut on round edge off with a sharp knife and lay on this edge. This will give you a steady surface to cut on. Proceed to cut the ginger into match sticks.

2. Mince the onion and set aside with the ginger.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, and corn starch together. If you want to add a spicy kick, add 1 tbsp hot sauce.

4. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat (turn it all the way up to 11). When smoking hot, add the ginger and onion to the pan. Cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Add the snow peas and cook under tender, but still crisp. The ginger should also begin to brown at this point. Add the shrimp and cook until nearly opaque. The shrimp will turn a pale pink which will intensify the longer you cook it. When you can see faint traces of blue, it’s time to move to the next step.

6. Whisk the sauce mixture together one last time to combine corn starch into ingredients and add to pan. Stir to combine into the ingredients and cook until the sauce has thickened. By this point the shrimp should be completely opaque.

7. Serve meal on top a pile of rice.