Archive for the ‘Gluten Free’ Category

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.

Meringue, strawberries, and orange liqueur. Oh yeah.

The equivalent to this dessert in the US would be strawberry shortcake. The primary difference is we substitute the cake or biscuit with a homemade meringue cookie. Meringue is nothing more than egg whites and sugar that are dried in the oven slowly over a long period of time. What results is a crispy shell that is perfect to fill with macerated strawberries flavored with orange liqueur. The dessert can be made well ahead of time and assembled quickly when it is time to serve.


  • 3 eggs, whites only
  • 1 lb strawberries, sliced
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 3/4 c tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier or other orange flavored liqueur
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Place the strawberries in a bowl. Add 2 tbsp sugar and the Grand Marnier to the bowl and stir to combine. You can mash some of the strawberries with a fork for added texture. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the egg whites in a bowl. With a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until you get medium-stiff peaks. Then, slowly add 1/2 c + 2 tbsp sugar while mixing the egg whites until glossy and stiff.

3. Place the meringue in a pastry bag and pipe spirals on a silicone mat covered sheet pan. Once you have a spiral, go back over the outer edge and make two more vertical layers. Place the sheet pan in the oven for 3 hours.

Note: If you do not have a pastry bag, you can also drop mounds of meringue onto the sheet pan and use the back of a spoon to make a well in the middle. If you do not have a silicone mat, place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the sheet pan.

4. Take the meringue out of the oven. The cookies will immediately start to do their best imitations of Rice Krispies. If some of the cookies are still soft, don’t worry, they’ll harden quickly. Set on a cooling rack for at least one hour.

5. When ready to serve, place the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and two tbsp sugar in a bowl. Using a hand mixer, whip the cream until it has reached a desired consistency.

5. To serve, place a meringue cookie in the middle of a plate. Spoon some strawberries into the well and place a dollop of whipped cream on the side. Spoon some of the liquid from the strawberries around the cookie. Enjoy.

When trying to figure out how to best draw ratatouille for the climatic showdown with the food critic in Ratatouille, director Brad Byrd relied on his food advisor, Thomas Keller, for inspiration. When asked how he would serve this dish to a world famous food critic, Keller came up with a fan shaped design (seen right). However, traditional ratatouille calls for vegetables to be fried and then baked. Other recipes rough chop and saute all the vegetables together and serve like a stew or inside a crepe. This tradition changed in 1976 when a French chef named Michel Guérard developed a layering technique for presentation purposes. Using this technique, Keller developed this variation and named it after the Turkish dish, İmam bayıldı, which is like ratatouille stuffed inside an eggplant. As a side note, translated to English, the Turkish dish means “the imam (spiritual leader) fainted”. The story goes that the Imam’s wife served this dish and it was so delicious that he fainted. That’s good cooking!

The preparation for this dish comes in two parts. The first is a piperade which will serve as the base for the dish and flavor the vegetables sitting on top. The second is the ratatouille itself. The main challenge, however, comes not from the preparation, but from the presentation. Gravity is your enemy here and the picture above is virtually impossible if you accept the laws of physics. Given that I live in reality, and my guess is so do you, you may want to serve this family style alongside a heaping bowl of couscous or polenta.

Ingredients (Piperade)

  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 orange pepper
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 12 oz tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Herbs de Provence

Ingredients (Ratatouille)

  • 1 zucchini (4 to 5 ounces)
  • 1 yellow summer squash (4 to 5 ounces)
  • 1 small eggplant (4 to 5 ounces)
  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the pepper halves cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes until skins give way. Set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, dice the peppers fine. Turn the oven down to 275 degrees.

2. Cut the tomatoes and half. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp into a small bowl. Squeeze the pulp and seeds to get as much juice out as possible. Throw away the seeds. Diced the tomato into cubes.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat (a 3 or 4 on the dial). Place the onion and garlic into the pan and cook until soft, but not browned. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, and Herbs de Provence. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the liquid has all but evaporated (about 10 minutes). Add the peppers to the pan and simmer until soft.

4. Reserve 1 tbsp of the piperade. This is to be used to make an accompanying vinaigrette just before serving. Place the rest of the piperade in the bottom of an 8 inch skillet or baking dish.

5. Slice the zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, and roma tomatoes into thin slices. The thinner they are, the easier it will be to layer them in the baking dish. The goal is to make everything the same size. About 1/16 of an inch would be perfect.

6. Arrange 8 slices down the center of the dish first on top of the piperade, alternating in whatever pattern you’d like. Keeping the same pattern, continue to arrange slices around the outside of the center strip allowing about 1/4 inch of each slice to be seen. Continue until you have filled the dish. All slices may not be necessary. Top with olive oil and Herbs de Provence.

7. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 2 hours. Make sure the edges are sealed well or the vegetables will turn to mush.

8. Uncover and continue to cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, if there is excess liquid (as in the juices cover the vegetables completely) in the baking dish, set on the stove over medium heat and reduce. For additional color, place the pan under the broiler until brown.

9. If you would like to make an accompanying vinaigrette, mix the 1 tbsp reserved piperade with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

10. Serve the byaldi hot on top of some couscous or polenta. Garnish with the vinaigrette.