Monthly Archives: October 2009

Celeriac Soup with Curry Popcorn

celeriac soup w curry popcornI think I need an intervention. This food thing? This continual desire to create, prepare, and taste as many delicious things to eat as humanly possible? It’s gotten out of hand. Not only do I read everything I can about food and cooking (hello, subscriptions to Saveur, Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, and Cook’s Illustrated, plus my ever-growing supply of cookbooks?), coerce my husband into watching shows such as Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef (he won’t watch No Reservations or Bizarre Foods with me), continually sign myself up for near-impossible tasks (let’s see how many different meats I can barbeque in 24 hours!), and talk to family, friends, and you, non-stop, about this food or that recipe. Nope, that’s not enough. Now, this food thing has entered my dreams. No, I don’t mean daydreams, I mean wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night, OMG-this-is-a-genius-recipe-I-must-make-it dreams.

I woke up one night, dreaming that I was feeding my husband and myself celeriac (celery root) soup, garnished with popcorn. I think it must have been a strange combination of various recipes I’d read lately, jumbling themselves around in my head, that caused me to dream of this. I immediately woke up thinking that I. Must. Make. This. Funny, since I’d never eaten celeriac in my life. But somehow, I just knew. This was the epiphany; this was the recipe.

So a week or so ago (remember I told you how I’m behind on posting my recipes?) I set out to make this soup. I did grab inspiration from Rasa Malaysia (one of my favorite blogs) and her curry popcorn recipe, thinking that the blend of the curry and celeriac would be an intriguing flavor. And even with this idea being one that’s truly “out there” for me – it worked.

Not only did it work, but the combination of a creamy, celery-scented soup, and a punchy, bold, crispy popcorn? Addictive! I would stir some popcorn into my soup, top with more, making sure each bite was a balanced soup+popcorn mix. I had a huge bowl that night. (my husband, despite my dream of serving it to him, wasn’t a celeriac fan, it turns out. He didn’t mind the flavor of the popcorn, though!)  And lest you think this was a brief love affair that would quickly fizzle, I found myself loving this combo again for lunch the next day, and was sad when it was gone.

This soup makes for a lovely vegetarian dish – and is relatively easy to prepare. (It can even be made vegan if you opt to substitute olive oil for the butter, and hemp milk for the cream.) And of course, with the weather turning colder, a comforting soup may be desperately needed!

So, do I need an intervention? Am I the only one that wakes up from dreams about recipes? Please tell me I’m not alone on this one!

curry popcorn

Celeriac Soup

4 T butter

2 lbs celeriac (celery root – about 2 softball-sized roots), peeled and chopped

1 potato, peeled and chopped

1 large leek, white and light green parts sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 c vegetable stock

4 oz heavy cream

salt and pepper

In a heavy, deep pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celeriac, potato, garlic, leek, and onion. Cook until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until celeriac is tender.

Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. (if no immersion blender, allow to cool for a few minutes and puree in a blender, in batches, if necessary) Return to heat, and bring to a simmer again. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and whisk in the cream. Top with popcorn just before serving, or alternatively, allow diners to top soup themselves.

Serves 4.

 

Curry Popcorn, from Rasa Malaysia

1 t cumin seeds

3 T butter

1 t curry powder (I used a gold Madras curry powder)

2 T canola oil

1/3 c popping corn

Kosher salt

In a small skillet, toast the cumin seeds over medium heat until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Remove and crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the curry powder and stir with a heat-proof rubber spatula (I used a wooden spoon – be careful, as it might turn yellow permanently!). Bring to a simmer, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and popcorn. Swirl to evenly coat the popcorn. Cover the pan, leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Once the popping begins, hold the cover in place and shake the pan by moving it back and forth across the burner. When the popping subsides, remove the pan from heat and let rest with the lid still on for a few seconds.

Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl. Drizzle the curry butter over, while tossing the popcorn to evenly distribute. Sprinkle on the toasted cumin and salt to taste. Serve alone, or as a topping for celeriac soup. (I also imagine it would be wonderful with a gluten-free beer!)

One more thing - I have been showered with awards lately! I can’t keep up! In the past week, I have received 4 Kreativ Blogger awards from 4 terrific bloggers – The Chickenless Chick, Experimental Culinary Pursuits, Vegetable Matter, and Tasty Trix all graced me with this award.

kreativ_blogger

If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out these blogs, please do!

I’m supposed to share 7 interesting things you don’t know about me. (I’m wondering at what point, once I’ve done this a few times, have I satisfied this for all awards? Not that I’m not grateful, I am, it’s just becoming harder to come up with things!) Anyway, here goes!

1. I was in choir when I was in middle and high school. Show choir, even. (Yup, choreography, costumes, and a pasted smile on my face while I’m singing – all of that fun stuff!) There was a time in my life where I honestly thought that I could somehow sing for a living. Looking back, I’m glad I don’t. I love music, but I don’t think I’d like being in the limelight all the time.

2. I like going grocery shopping. I’m sure I’m not the only foodie out there that shares this characteristic. I actually enjoy it – especially if it’s at a grocery where there’s cool and interesting stuff to be found, such as the ethnic groceries, farmer’s markets, or gourmet/specialty shops.

3. When I was a child, I loved to read. I couldn’t read enough. One of my favorite sets of books to read were these Time/Life science books - there was a book about the human body, a book about astronomy, a book about light (about about 20 others). They were really cool. What’s wonderful to me is that my parents gave this set of books to me a few years ago, and now I can share them with our kids.

4. Unfortunately, for the most part, our kids would rather play the Wii than read these books. (They do come in handy for assistance with homework sometimes, though!)

5. I love watching Mythbusters. I think that they have some of the coolest jobs in the world. I mean, honestly, how many people get paid to blow stuff up in the name of science?

6. I am generally not a picky eater, but I cannot stand chocolate-glazed donuts or eclairs. (This precedes my going gluten-free, but I’m sure I wouldn’t want to eat gluten-free versions either!) I imagine that not many people share this dislike. But seriously, I cannot force myself to take a bite of one of these donuts. No matter how amazing you tell me it is.

7. I love the rain. Mind you, lately it has been testing my patience (we’ve had about 10 inches in the past month), as the floods cause so many issues, but if I’m sitting inside, or on the porch, I love to watch it rain. I even love the big thunderstorms.

Now I’m to share this award with seven bloggers!

1. Cindy at Jacob’s Reward, because her blog is always a joy to read and she makes me laugh.

2. Terry at Blue Kitchen, because everything posted is drool-worthy.

3. Ellen at I Am Gluten Free, because her baked goods are awesome, I’ve made her gluten-free cinnamon rolls. Yum.

4. Erin at $5 Dinners, because who doesn’t love budget-friendly cooking that also tastes good?

5. Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl, who cooks not only gluten-free, but also soy and dairy-free, and often vegan, but still makes it look amazing!

6. Kelly at Evil Shenanigans, because she’s a fellow Dallas-ite that always posts the most evil, sinful, decadent recipes!

7. Katrina from Gluten Free Gidget, because her blog is a delight to read – she is up-front and it’s like you’re right there with her.

Thanks to everyone again, I’m honored!

Holiday Food Fest – Join in the Fun!

holiday-food-fest[1]Join us as we celebrate the holiday season by sharing your favorite recipes at our Bloggy Holiday Food Fest. We want to see your favorite dishes of the holiday season.  So if you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any other holiday, please link up or stop by.

This is a celebration of good food and friends – regardless of how you cook, you are invited to join in the fun. Good home cooking, gluten-free, sugar-free, raw, organic, frugal – everyone is welcome to participate.

There will be a fantastic give-away each week too, including fun aprons and great kitchen gadgets.  To enter, you can link up, leave a comment, tweet, or link back.  We’ll be tweeting about Holiday Food Fest too, so make sure to follow us.

Thanksgiving Fall Desserts – November 5th

Stop by and see Liz at Hoosier Homemade for the best of the blogosphere’s fall desserts.  Share what you’re going to make this Thanksgiving or what you’ve been making already since the leaves have started to change and you’ve pulled out your fall sweaters.  Follow Liz on Twitter @HoosierHomemade.

Thanksgiving & Fall Dishes – Thursday, November 12

We know you have your favorite tried and true Thanksgiving or fall dish that your family and friends just can’t live without. Share it with us at Tasty Eats at Home, hosted by yours truly. You can follow me on Twitter @TastyEatsAtHome.

Gifts of Good Taste – Thursday, November 19

The best part of cooking is sharing it with others.  How are you going to give your edible gifts this holiday season?  We can’t wait to see your favorite gifts of good taste and how you wrap them up.  Phoebe at Cents to Get Debt Free is our gracious hostess.  Follow Phoebe on Twitter @GettingFreedom.

Holiday Cocktails, Mocktails, and Appetizers – Thursday, December 3

What are you serving your holiday guests while they’re anxiously anticipating the main course?   Share your favorite holiday cocktails, mocktails, and kiddie drinks, too.  Hosted by Amy at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free. Find Amy on Twitter @Amys_SSGF.

Holiday Dishes – Thursday, December 10

Join Shirley at Gluten-Free Easily as we share our favorite holiday dishes with each other.  Anything goes – sides, main dishes, soups.  Follow Shirley on Twitter @ShirleyGFE.

Holiday Desserts – Thursday, December 17

Jessica, a.k.a. Fishmama, is hosting the final day of Holiday Food Fest 2009 at Life As Mom.  Bring your favorite holiday dessert for everyone to enjoy. Follow Jessica on Twitter @FishMama.

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Farm Fresh Egg-Stravaganza

chickenEarlier this year, during a little visit to Local Harvest,  I stumbled upon a local farm. This farm happened to be relatively close to my house, and they offered farm fresh eggs. Curious, I contacted Cindy Telisak at Jacob’s Reward Farm. Little did I know that over the coming months, I would gain so much. Not only have we enjoyed a wonderful bounty of the freshest of eggs, but I gained a friend and a new level of appreciation for the hard work and devotion of our local farmers.

Cindy bottle-feeding a baby lamb

Cindy bottle-feeding a baby lamb

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Cindy and her family own Jacob’s Reward Farm, a small farm north of Dallas, where they raise sheep, alpacas, and chickens. Over the past few months, I’ve regularly visited Cindy to pick up fresh eggs from her farm, during which we have been well-acquainted. Last weekend, I was honored to cater to her “Spinning Yarns: Cowboy Stories and Song” event. So this month, when I submitted an idea to conduct an interview with Cindy as part of a Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event, I was ecstatic to find out that my idea was selected. Cindy has been an inspiration to me, and has been a key influence in my decision to actively support local farmers whenever possible.  

Alta: How did Jacob’s Reward Farm get its start?

Cindy: “Jacob’s Reward” got its start before I even left the suburban life in Plano.  I’ve always loved sheep and longed for a homesteading lifestyle, but for many years we had to tough it out in the composite-roof-privacy-fence jungle.  In order to get as close as I could to the shepherd’s life, I learned to knit, crochet and spin, and I struck a friendship with a local couple who raise Jacob sheep.  I lived the life vicariously through them for several years.  When the opportunity arose to buy 4.5 acres here in Parker, we jumped at it.  And though there have been many significant challenges, we’ve not looked back.  The name “Jacob’s Reward” refers to the story in Genesis when God blessed Jacob with vast herds of sheep and goats as a reward for his years of faithfulness.

Alta: What made you decide that raising sheep, alpacas, and chickens was your calling?

Cindy: I love animals and have always thought a farm would be a dream come true.  Once I learned to knit and spin, it only made sense to raise my own fiber animals.  Chickens and fresh eggs are integral to a farm, and they contribute to a healthy diet.  And chickens are really fun to watch!

Alta: Tell me about a typical day at Jacob’s Reward Farm.

Cindy: I am not a morning person, so I have my animals trained not to expect their breakfast at the crack of dawn.  But my usual round of chores takes about 45 minutes, depending on the weather.  Muddy conditions make everything more complicated.  I give a little grain to the eight sheep on the north end of the property, and hay.  The front yard chickens are released from their coop to wander the property in search of bugs, seeds and various greens.  I feed Smokey the barn cat so that she’s fortified for a day of rodent patrol.  On the south side of the property, I feed my six alpacas and two Jacob sheep, and release three other sets of chickens.  I top off all the water buckets and fill the hay feeders.  I do a similar set of chores morning and evening, ending with locking up the free-range chickens in their coops every night to protect them from predators.  Between sets of chores, I take care of my house and my family, teach classes in my studio, and keep up with my farm supporters on my blog, website, podcast, newsletter and other social media.  I also try to squeeze in some knitting and spinning of my own.  There’s never a dull moment.

Breakfast time!

Breakfast time!

Alta: Tell me about your chickens.

Cindy: I have a handful of breeds of chickens that I have raised from day old chicks.  Right now, the flock numbers around 37 total, though 15 of those are just babies.

IMG_0985

Free-Ranging Buffs

Alta: Why are free-range, farm-raised chickens so much better than even the premium eggs you can purchase at the grocery?

Cindy:  “Free-range” is a buzz word that may or may not mean what the consumer thinks.  It may mean that your pricey grocery store eggs came from chickens who can see outside, or who have access to a tiny concrete slab outside.  My free range chickens do just that.  I let them out in the morning and they have complete freedom to roam the property, resting in the shade of the native landscape plantings or sunning themselves in the herbicide-free lawns.  They gather their own food, following the instinctive promptings God gave them.  I do supplement them with commercial grain to round out their diet.  My eggs don’t sit very long once they’re laid, either.  (Alta’s note: there have been times I’ve arrived and helped Cindy gather a few eggs to fill my dozen – eggs laid just hours earlier. Now that’s fresh!) No telling how old those grocery store eggs are!

Alta: Jacob’s Reward Farm has a new Fiber CSA. Could you tell me a little about this?

Cindy: This is our first year to offer CSA shares, so we are feeling our way a bit, and we are under the mentorship of a highly successful CSA fiber farm in the New York area. As a CSA (community supported agriculture) fiber farm, we sell shares of our fiber harvest roughly based on the amount of fiber we hope to get from this year’s shearing of alpacas and sheep, distributed to a limited number of shareholders.  But just like vegetable CSAs, we can’t guarantee an exact amount of fiber we’ll end up with; there are too many variables involved.  Vegetable farmers call it a “shared risk proposition.”  However, by limiting the number of shareholders, we believe we can safely assure each shareholder of a satisfactory amount of fiber once the distributions are made.  Also, we’ll be processing our fiber only into spinning roving, rather than yarn, because of the extra expense. I do teach spinning, and a spinning lesson and drop spindle are included in the price of the share.  Also, we offer lots of opportunities to come out to the farm and participate in the life and care of the animals, in community-building days where we knit or spin together, shear the sheep, picnic together, or other fun events. A CSA share will not result in “bargain” yarn, but the other included benefits bring the price down well under retail levels.  And many of my shareholders tell me that participation in the Jacob’s Reward Fiber Farm life and community is actually a priceless reward that they would pay for alone, with the fiber as “icing on the cake.”

jacobs reward event 052

Alta: What has been your biggest hurdle to overcome here at the farm?

Cindy: One hurdle we haven’t encountered is lack of interest in what we’re doing.  The response has been fantastic.  There are vibrant knitting and spinning communities in this area who find my fiber irresistible, and I have more egg customers than I can handle at some times of the year.  But since this is my first farming experience, I am learning a lot, and I’m learning every day.  The jobs around here are so varied that there is no excuse for being bored.  The farm also sits on the banks of Maxwell Creek, and heavy rains sometimes bring the water level a little closer to the house than we’d like.  But that hasn’t stopped us.  I’m continually working on ways to deal with lots of water on the place.  The farm is hard work, but it’s the kind of hard work that gives us a delicious, bone-weary sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.

Cindy’s undying optimism, drive, and determination have allowed her to influence a great number of people, including our family. Our kids have loved visiting the chickens, sheep, and alpacas. I’ve enjoyed learning so much about farm life from Cindy, and visiting the farm has brought me a sense of connectedness with the Earth and the changing of seasons.

Of course, making the side trip to pick up eggs at Jacob’s Reward Farm rather than just picking them up at the grocery does take extra time and planning. Depending on the weather and the season, the supply fluctuates. But for us, it’s well worth it. We trade convenience for a lot of worthwhile benefits. Not only are the eggs are fresher, tastier, and better for us, we are choosing to support our local farmers – farmers who practice ethical and sustainable treatment of their animals.

In an effort to celebrate the fresh eggs we’ve received from Jacob’s Reward Farm, I planned a Farm Fresh Egg-Stravaganza dinner for my family. Each dish was carefully planned, so that I could highlight the eggs throughout the entire meal.

The meal began with a small appetizer: Chinese Tea Eggs. These eggs, a typical dish for Chinese New Year, were steeped for 5 hours in a black tea, soy sauce (tamari, actually, so they were gluten-free), cinnamon, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, and dried orange peel. They were gorgeous to peel, and a tasty first bite. I’ll definitely make these again. For the recipe, visit Steamy Kitchen’s beautiful blog.

chinese tea eggs

The second course? Gluten-Free Egg and Pancetta Tarts. I found a lovely tart crust recipe from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, a new cookbook from Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry. The crust was a mixture of almond flour, grapeseed oil, salt, agave nectar, and baking soda. Easy as pie tart! I pre-baked mini-tarts for 8 minutes, and then filled them with scrambled eggs, tomato sauce, sauteed pancetta, and shredded white cheddar, and baked them until the cheese was melted and bubbly. These tarts were tasty, although next time, I think I may add some herbs to the tart crust (Elana has an herbed tart crust recipe in her cookbook as well), which would work to increase the savory taste of the tart.

egg and pancetta tart

Gluten-Free Egg and Pancetta Tarts

1 recipe gluten-free tart crust (recipe from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook)

4 miniature tart pans (I used 5-inch pans)

6 oz pancetta, diced

1 T olive oil

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 c milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c tomato sauce (use seasoned jarred tomato sauce, or your favorite tomato sauce recipe)

1/2 c shredded white cheddar

2 T chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide tart dough into 4 balls, pressing one ball into each tart pan. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden. Remove and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, bring a large saute pan to medium heat. Add pancetta and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is crisp. Remove and set aside.

Add the olive oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium-low. Whisk the eggs and milk together, and pour into pan. Whisk occasionally, and allow to cook until eggs are just set. (Don’t cook all the way – you don’t want the eggs to dry out.) Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.

To assemble the tarts: With a spoon, spread a little of the tomato sauce into each tart crust. Top with eggs, and sprinkle cheese and pancetta over. Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle parsley on top as garnish.

Serves 4.

The third course was the most “daring” for me to attempt – Soft Egg Gluten-Free Ravioli. Until yesterday, I had never made handmade pasta, much less gluten-free handmade pasta. I found a pasta recipe from Living Without that sounded promising, so I set out to make my own ravioli. But these ravioli weren’t just “normal” ravioli – inside each of these babies laid an entire, unbroken, sunny egg yolk. In my opinion, these were the ultimate way to celebrate the intense yellow yolks the Jacob’s Reward Farm chickens created.

egg ravioli

The flavor of these ravioli was tasty and rich, especially as they were topped with a white truffle butter sauce. However, I did learn that rolling out pasta by hand is hard – and I ended up leaving the pasta sheets too thick, which resulted in heavy, dense ravioli. Not a perfect dish, but I would definitely try again, using a pasta machine to ensure thin, light pasta. (note to self: put pasta machine on wish list!) These were served with sauteed swiss chard, which was delightful.

Soft Egg Gluten-Free Ravioli, adapted from Living Without and Epicurious.com

For the filling:

1 c whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 egg yolks

1/8 t freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

1/8 t freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta dough (these instructions are for the use of a pasta machine – if you don’t have one, instead use a rolling pin and roll out sheets as thinly as possible.):

½ c tapioca flour or sweet rice flour

½ c cornstarch

⅓ c potato starch or arrowroot

⅓ c fine brown rice flour, more for rolling out

½ t salt

2 T xanthan gum

4 eggs

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 egg yolks

1 egg white, beaten (for egg wash)

For the butter truffle sauce:

1 stick salted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1 T white truffle oil

Mix ricotta, 2 egg yolks, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, and pepper in a small bowl. Refrigerate until needed.

Put the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend using the paddle. In a separate bowl, lightly beat together the 4 eggs and oil.

While the mixer is on, slowly add eggs/oil mixture to dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Dough will be soft like play dough. If it’s not, add water, one tablespoon at a time. Lightly dust your counter with cornstarch. Cut the dough into 8 pieces and cover 7 with a tea towel or plastic wrap.

Lightly dust a piece of dough with rice flour and flatten. Roll through the widest setting of the machine. Continue to roll it through, folding it in half each time and lightly dusting with rice flour if the dough is tacky. Do this until the dough begins to hold together and seems smooth. It may take 5 to 6 times. Then decrease the thickness one notch at a time and roll through until desired thickness is achieved. Cut out a 5-inch circle from parchment paper (or use another tool to measure a 5-inch circle - I used my tart pans), and cut out 16 5-inch circles from pasta dough. 

egg ravioli assembling

Place the ricotta mixture in a pastry bag (or do as I did, place it in a quart-size ziploc bag, and snip a corner off of the bag). In the center of eight of the pasta circles, make a circle with your pastry bag/ziploc bag full of the ricotta mixture, leaving about 3/4 inch from the edge of the pasta, as if you’re creating a nest. Place an egg yolk in the center of your ricotta “nest”. Brush the edges with egg wash. Top with another pasta circle, pressing together to seal the edges. (You can use a pastry wheel or the tines of a fork to seal the edges as well.) Place pasta on a cookie sheet. If layering the pasta, dust it with rice flour. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

To prepare the butter truffle sauce, place the butter and truffle oil in a small saucepan. Bring to medium heat, stirring, until bubbling. Reduce to low, and stir occasionally.

To cook the ravioli, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a dash of salt. Using a slotted spoon, carefully slide into boiling water. Cook until al dente. Fresh pasta cooks in just a few minutes. When the raviolis are done, drain and rinse it under hot water.

To serve, place two raviolis on a plate, and lightly drizzle with butter truffle sauce. Serves 4.

Of course, no “Egg-Stravaganza” would be complete without a dessert. But after the rich ravioli, a light dessert was in order. We enjoyed a pavlova – a lovely light-as-air meringue dessert that is popular in New Zealand. Pavlova has a meringue base, topped with whipped cream, and typically decorated with summer berries and kiwi. Since it’s not berry season, I opted to top it with pear slices, figs, banana, and clementines. It was very likely the best part of the meal – a lightly sweet, fresh, and airy finish to a wonderful evening.

pavlova

Pear, Fig, Banana and Clementine Pavlova, adapted from Saveur.com

4 room-temperature egg whites

pinch of salt

1 c plus 2 T superfine sugar (I placed sugar in my food processor to “pulverize” it)

2 t cornstarch

1 t white vinegar

few drops of vanilla extract

1 c heavy cream

1 banana, peeled and sliced

1 ripe pear, such as a Red Bartlett, peeled and sliced

2 clementines, peeled and sectioned

4 oz Black Mission Figs, quartered

2 T honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then trace a 10-inch circle on the paper. Put egg whites and salt in clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, and beat on medium-low until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until egg whites form stiff but not dry peaks. Gradually add 1 cup sugar while whisking, then increase speed to high and beat until stiff and glossy. Sprinkle cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla over egg whites, then gently fold in.

Fill traced circle with meringue, smoothing top and sides. Put meringue in middle of oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake for 1 hour. Turn oven off and leave meringue inside until completely cool, 3-4 hours.

 Remove paper and place meringue on a cake plate. Whip cream and remaining sugar to soft peaks, then pile on top of meringue. Arrange cut fruit over whipped cream, and drizzle with honey. Slice into wedges to serve.

Serves 8-10.

Coffee-Chile Pork Tenderloin and Mashed Rosemary Sweet Potatoes

coffee chili pork tenderloin 2

I must confess to you all, I have made many more things in my kitchen lately than I have been sharing. I seem to not be able to keep up! There are several sweet treats and a soup or two that will be posted here soon…promise. It has simply been hectic lately, and after a day at work, I’ve come home and prepared dinner, and finally sit down to eat, my brain is done for the day. D-O-N-E. If I attempted a blog post after all that, it would be less than fun to read, believe me! It would go something like this:

I made this tonight. It was good. You should make it too. Yum!

Right.

So if my posts are discussing dishes that were actually prepared, oh, a week or two ago, please don’t judge!

For today, I am sharing with you a dish that I made Sunday night. Usually, Sundays are my “cook all day” days. However, I had little energy or time to spend in the kitchen this past Sunday. The requirement for dinner was that it a) be uncomplicated, b) be relatively quick, and c) only use ingredients I had in the kitchen, because I sure wasn’t about to go to the store.

Enter Coffee-Chile Pork Tenderloin.

My dear friend Suzanne turned me on to this delicious rub recipe from Ellie Krieger a while back that uses espresso and chile powder. She used it on a steak, and raved about it. I loved the combination of flavors, so I opted to make it, using what I had on hand – a pork tenderloin. What to serve with a smoky, lightly spicy dish such as this? I had several sweet potatoes from the farmer’s market, so I opted to serve them simply – mashed with a bit of rosemary.

This rub recipe certainly did not disappoint. The tenderloin was juicy and flavorful, and the rub wasn’t spicy at all. It provided a pleasant burst of flavor in every bite. At first I was slightly skeptical of how the coffee would play into the flavor, but it blends so well with the other spices. (If I didn’t tell you there was espresso powder in the rub, you would not have guessed.)  I’d be interested to taste it on a steak next time!

As for the sweet potatoes, you hardly need a recipe. My measurements below are approximate, so please feel free to add a bit more milk and/or butter to adjust to your tastes.

Overall, this was a perfect meal for a gorgeous Sunday night. My husband commented, as dinner was cooking, how wonderful it was to be at home, with all the windows opened (it was a breezy, sunny 65-70 degrees Sunday evening), and with the delicious smell of fall in the kitchen. I agreed. It was indeed the perfect setting for a lovely evening at home.

 

Coffee-Chili Pork Tenderloin, as adapted from Suzanne Collier and Ellie Krieger

1 T canola oil

1 1/2 t finely ground espresso powder

1 1/2 t ground chile powder, such as ancho or cascabel

1/2 t dark brown sugar

1/4 t dry mustard

1/4 t ground coriander

1/4 t garlic powder

1/4 t kosher salt

1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

1 pork tenderloin, about 1 1/4 lbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Coat a cast iron skillet with the canola oil, and bring to medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, combine all spices. Pour out on a plate. Place the pork tenderloin on the plate, and press into spices, rolling the tenderloin until all of it is covered in the spices. Let sit for a few minutes.

Place tenderloin in pan. Sear for about 3-4 minutes, and turn over. Sear again for 3-4 minutes. Continue to sear all over, and once you have made your final “flip” of the tenderloin, place skillet in oven on middle rack. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 150 degrees. (remember, the meat will still continue to cook for a few minutes after being removed from the oven) Tent with foil and allow to rest for 8-10 minutes, and then slice.

Serves 4.

 

Mashed Rosemary Sweet Potatoes

4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes

4 T butter

1/2 t finely chopped fresh rosemary needles

1/2 c milk

salt and pepper to taste

Place diced sweet potatoes into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and reduce to medium. Allow to cook for 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft and cooked throughout. (I test them by stabbing a fork into a piece, if it slides in easily and the potato breaks apart, it’s done.) Drain potatoes. Pass through a potato ricer (one of my most favorite kitchen tools, it makes potatoes perfectly creamy and fluffy!) or use a potato masher. Place back into saucepan, and add butter and rosemary. Stir to incorporate. Add milk, a little at a time, until the proper consistency is achieved. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Gluten-Free Beef Stew

beef stew

A few weeks back, when I was picking up eggs from Jacob’s Reward Farm, Cindy told me about a new event she was holding at the farm, called “Spinning Yarns: Cowboy Stories and Song.” This was to be a wonderful outdoor “picnic” of sorts, where there was to be cowboy-style music, stories, and of course, the attendees were more than welcome to bring along their spinning wheels and knitting needles, and gather for some laid-back fun. But everyone needed to eat, so she graciously asked if I would help her in that area. On the menu? A hearty beef stew – perfect for the theme of the event.

My first “catering” job! I was excited, of course. While I’ve prepared Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for 25-30 (our family is large!), I have never catered. I wanted to be sure everything was perfect, so I made sure I scheduled plenty of time for preparation, and even did a test run on a smaller portion of the dish earlier in the week. It was wonderful that so many of the guests brought side dishes; this allowed me to focus on one dish – beef stew. It was a wonderful setting for my maiden voyage into catering.

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Yesterday was the big day. (Read more about it at the Jacob’s Reward Farm blog here) I had prepped most of the meat and vegetables the night before, but awoke at 5am (much to the dismay of my husband!) to get started. I didn’t want to be late! And thankfully, aside from a slight issue with the pot I’d recently purchased, (I bought a propane burner, along with a stainless pot set – and the pot cracked as soon as I placed heat on it. Thankfully I had my large aluminum tamale pot, which did the job perfectly.) everything went as planned. Until I left, that is. I set up at the farm, and only then remembered that I’d left my parsley on the kitchen counter. Good thing I only live 10 minutes away – I could run home and grab it. No harm done.

As for the event, it was wonderful. We couldn’t have had better weather. Practically the entire month of October has been rainy, but for the past few days, it has started to dry out. Yesterday was sunny and in the upper 60s – absolutely gorgeous. The musicians played wonderful cowboy-style fiddle, guitar, and banjo, and the storytellers spun yarns about famous icons of the cowboy days in Texas. It was a grand time. While I’m not a spinner/weaver, and I don’t know how to knit, I admired everyone’s work as they spun yarns and knitted scarves and socks.

My stew went over well, and was the perfect dish for such an event. I hope you enjoy it too.

Gluten-Free Beef Stew, adapted from Simply Recipes

½ lb beef stew meat

½ lb oxtail

Salt and pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ yellow onion, chopped

½ large carrot, chopped

½ celery rib, chopped

3 c beef stock

½ c gluten-free beer (I used Bard’s Tale)

½ c red wine

1 T tomato paste

½ T sugar

1 T fresh thyme leaves

½ T Worcestershire

1 bay leaf

2 T butter

1 ½ lbs Yukon gold potatoes, diced ½ inch

1 c carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces

2 small parsnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces

1 turnip, diced into ½ inch pieces

Salt and pepper

1 T fresh parsley

 

Generously salt and pepper the stew meat and the oxtail. Heat a large, heavy pot to medium-high heat and brown the meat, turning with tongs to ensure all sides are browned. Remove and set aside. Add garlic, onion, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add back meat, and add beef stock, beer, wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, and cover, allowing to simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat to medium heat and add butter. Add carrots, parsnips, and turnip to pot. Saute until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until beef stew has simmered for 1 ½ 2 hours.

Once the meat is starting to fall away from the bones on the oxtail, remove from pot, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Remove meat from bones and add meat back into stew. Add the vegetables and potatoes, and allow to simmer for another 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender throughout.

Salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with parsley.

Serves 4.

Steamed Asparagus with Lemon

asparagusThe other day, I mentioned that I served my Chipotle Orange-Herb Chicken with asparagus. While I normally consider asparagus a spring vegetable, I happened upon some at the farmer’s market the other day, so I jumped at the chance for some locally grown, fresh asparagus. It happens to be one of my favorite vegetables. I could eat my weight in asparagus. (Okay, maybe not, but I did eat about half of this recipe alongside my chicken!)

This recipe is not my own. It comes from Simply Recipes, an absolutely splendid food blog hosted by Elise Bauer. Unbeknownst to her, Elise was a great influence in the creation of Tasty Eats At Home. Back before I started Tasty Eats At Home, I barely understood what a blog was, much less understood the need for one. The only people that I knew that had blogs used them as a personal soapbox of sorts, a place where they could share their thoughts and opinions. I didn’t understand the draw, at first. But when I came across Simply Recipes, I began to understand my calling. Elise used her blog as a place to archive and document family recipes (at least, that’s how it all began). I thought this was a grand idea, and I could share my recipes with readers (of which I didn’t have many, at the beginning!), family, and friends. A little over a year later, Tasty Eats At Home has become many things: a gluten-free recipe and cooking blog, a place for me to organize and archive recipes (I do cook from my own recipes fairly often!), and perhaps most importantly, it is a continually evolving, growing being, reflective of my changing interests and experiences. I love that Tasty Eats At Home holds me accountable, forcing me to grow in an area I love the most – FOOD! I thank Elise greatly for creating her blog, and inspiring me to do the same.

Now that that’s all overwith, to the recipe. This is an asparagus dish that hardly needs a recipe, it’s so simple. But yet I turn to it again and again, as the lemon zest brightens the dish, making each bite irresistable. Many times I’ll omit the Parmesan, just to make it even lighter. With immensely fresh asparagus and a fruity, tasty olive oil, you hardly need much more adornment.

Steamed Asparagus with Lemon, adapted from Simply Recipes

1 bunch of asparagus, about 1 lb

2 T high-quality extra virgin olive oil

2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1 t lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

Break off the woody ends of the asparagus, and cut into 2-inch sections at a diagonal. Place a steamer insert into a medium-sized saucepan and fill with enough water to come just to the bottom of the steamer, and bring to a boil. Add asparagus and steam for 2 minutes, or just until you can pierce with a fork with a bit of resistance. (It shouldn’t be super-crunchy, but you wouldn’t want it to be mushy, either. A slight crunch is perfect. I won’t tell if you sneak a piece to “test.” I do.) Remove from heat, and remove asparagus from steamer insert and place into a bowl. Toss with olive oil, Parmesan (if using), and lemon zest. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4, or if I’m around, 2.

Chipotle Orange-Herb Chicken

chicken, chipotle chicken, asparagus 015If only I could find an excuse to put chipotle in everything. Okay, okay, not really, but I do love the stuff, in case you haven’t noticed. (See here, here, and here, just as a small sample) In fact, just about anytime I’m looking for an in-your-face, bold taste, chipotle does the trick. Smoky and spicy, it adds an unbelievable amount of dimension to a dish.

Take chicken, for example. Chicken is nearly a blank canvas, something one flavor with any combination of herbs and spices, and create a seemingly endless number of dishes. Soy, ginger, and garlic? Asian chicken. Oregano, basil, tomato, garlic? Italian chicken. But what about orange juice, chipotle, sage, thyme, and rosemary?

You get chipotle orange-herb chicken.

Not exactly a traditional mix of flavors, but who says we’re trying to be traditional here? Sweet, spicy, smoky, with a nice fresh background flavor from the herbs – this is a tasty chicken that’s sure to please. In addition, if you use cut-up chicken and marinade the night before serving, this dish bakes up quickly enough to make it a weeknight choice. I used a combination of thighs and drumsticks (they were on sale, and I prefer the flavor of dark meat), but of course, you could use any cut you wish. (you could even use boneless, skinless breasts – just lower the cooking time accordingly)

This recipe was inspired by a chipotle orange chicken that Elana shared at Elana’s Pantry. (Elana has a wonderful array of gluten-free recipes.) I increased the amount of chipotle a bit (we like spicy food at the Tasty Eats At Home residence), and I subbed the dried herbes de provence for fresh herbs, but largely left the original recipe in tact. If you have small kids, you might choose to lower the chipotle, but this should be a great family-pleaser, one that is easy on you, too! I served this dish with a generous helping of steamed asparagus with lemon zest (recipe to come soon, stay tuned!).

Chipotle Orange-Herb Chicken, adapted from Elana’s Pantry

4 lbs bone-in, cut-up chicken, or a combination of thighs and drumsticks

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 t chopped fresh rosemary needles

1/2 t fresh thyme leaves

1/2 t chopped fresh sage leaves

1/4 c agave nectar or honey

1 t kosher salt

2-3 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced

juice of 2 oranges

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place chicken in a 9X13 inch baking dish. In a small bowl, mix garlic, herbs, agave, salt, chipotle, and orange juice. Pour over chicken, turning chicken over to coat. Cover dish and place in refrigerator for minimum of an hour, up to overnight.

Remove from refrigerator, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Serves 4-6.

Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup and Gluten-Free Chive Biscuits

pumpkin soupA few weeks back, I picked up this lovely pumpkin from Good Earth Organic Farm’s booth at the farmer’s market. I was told it was called a Cinderella Pumpkin. It was a lovely gourd, and it graced my kitchen for a while, bringing autumn charm into the house. However, it was time to do something more with my pumpkin. Since it was not a pie pumpkin, I thought a pumpkin soup would be lovely, especially if it were graced with coconut milk (one of my favorite ingredients).

pumpkin

I started to browse around for ideas on how to elevate my pumpkin and coconut milk soup, and came across Heidi’s simple recipe at 101 Cookbooks. I took cues from her recipe, and made this soup my own, adding a few spices and loosely measuring. What resulted was a lovely creamy, warming, flavorful soup – filling enough to be a main course (we did just that!), and wonderful when it’s dreary and/or cold outside. What’s even better? While this is not a super-fast recipe (although you could make it so, with canned pumpkin), it’s really easy, there is not a lot of time actively cooking, and it’s really hard to mess up. It also reheats beautifully for lunch the next day.

chive biscuits

And last week, I spotted a wonderful biscuit recipe over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free. I thought these biscuits would be a wonderful accompaniment to soup, so I threw together a batch. I changed up the recipe some, only because I wanted to use what gluten-free flours I had on hand, and I wanted to use only chives in the biscuits. But wow – just, wow! Amy sure does know her way around a biscuit! These were simply the best biscuits that ever have graced my kitchen, gluten-free or otherwise. I ate well more than my fair share of them. They will definitely be making another appearance soon!

And lastly, before I share the recipes, I am excited to share with you that I have received 2 Blog Awards, given to me by two wonderful fellow food bloggers! Simply Life awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award, and Diana at Spain in Iowa gave me a Tasty Award! What can I say about these two wonderful bloggers? Thank you both so much! If you haven’t checked out these two blogs, take a moment and do so! Simply Life has a wonderful collection of tasty recipes, ranging from the fancy smoked salmon and pear on baquettes, to a lot of wondeful, family-friendly comfort food such as sweet potato risotto. Spain in Iowa has a wonderful collection of Spanish and Latin recipes, such as this pimientos asados recipe, to recipes using local ingredients, such as methods for preserving peaches. (She’s been preserving a lot of this summer’s bounty, check it out!) Thank you both for sharing these awards with me.

 

lovelyblog

Tasty-2For the One Lovely Blog Award, I am supposed to tell you all seven things you don’t already know about me, and pass this award along to ten other bloggers. So, here goes:

1. I have two dogs, Rocky and Jack. They are both Chihuahua mixes, and look like they could be brothers. However, they aren’t – Rocky is mixed with Manchester terrier (we think) and we adopted him in 2003. Jack is mixed with who-knows-what (we’ve considered a Corgi), and we adopted him in 2007. We adopted both of them at Operation Kindness, North Texas’ oldest and largest no-kill animal shelter. If you are local, and considering adopting a dog or cat, check them out. They’re located in Carrollton. (Not to get on a soapbox, but I’m a big proponent of adopting rescue animals. I personally choose to rescue an animal that might otherwise be euthanized, and give them a second chance at life, and do my part to keep the over-population of unwanted pets down. That’s all, I won’t get into this topic here!) Rocky and Jack are wonderful friends, and are always happy when I’m in the kitchen, waiting for a treat! They’re especially fond of carrots.

Rocky (on the left), and Jack

Rocky (on the left), and Jack

2. I play indoor soccer. I’m by no means an accomplished player (I started playing at the age of 22), but it’s great fun, and I am always learning. I love my teammates – everyone encourages one another, and it’s a great way to relax and stay in shape.

3. I cannot stand chocolate-covered donuts. (this precedes going gluten-free) I am generally not a picky eater by any means, but the thought of eating a chocolate-covered donut, or an eclair, makes me gag.

4. On the weekdays, I wake up at 5am. This allows me to get a little workout in before I get ready for the day, and arrive to work by 7am. (Unfortunately, keeping this schedule makes it difficult for me to sleep in on the weekends past about 7-8am, even if I’m out way too late the night before with the soccer team!)

5. I’m not much for “chick flick” movies. I would rather pass most of them by than waste money to see them. But give me a sports movie - where the main character (or characters) is the underdog or otherwise has to overcome some big hurdle, and in the end, that character wins the game (but of course, learns a lot about himself along the way) – I’m so there. (Think Hoosiers, Rudy, Chariots of Fire, Remember the Titans, even Miracle on Ice.)

6. I have little patience for most of the shows on the Food Network. It seems that over the years, they’ve changed their tune, and most of their shows are just not my style. Of course, it’s somewhat hypocritical for me to say that many aren’t about the food or cooking…because I watch Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef, and sometimes, those shows are not about the food either! (I do like Alton Brown though.)

7. I like Velveeta. I know, I know, it’s practically not even real food. It’s artificially dyed and flavored. It’s horrible for you. I can only imagine that it likely does something awful to your insides, like if you eat too much, when you die, it will still be there, thousands of years later…but it seems that especially in Texas, you just can’t make queso without it. Velveeta+Rotel=YUM! Good thing I only eat it like once or twice a year.

And, to share this award, I’ll pass it along to ten bloggers that I truly admire and appreciate!

1. Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free – she is always SO willing to give me feedback on my posts, is available to answer questions, and besides, she has WONDERFUL recipes on her blog!

2. Amanda at Amanda’s Cookin’ – she really goes above and beyond to enhance the blogger community. She’s created a Yahoo Group for food bloggers, which has been an endless source of valuable information! She posts so many gorgeous baked goods and desserts as well!

3. The folks at Food o’ del Mundo – Wonderful dishes, and always so inspiring! Not to mention, recently they went out of their way to help me out on posting to Foodbuzz, so I could be sure I get optimum results. What a friend!

4. Diane at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang – Awesome, inexpensive, gluten-free, healthy living meals! She continually comes up with great, simple ideas to feed a family, even with dietary restrictions.

5. Katie at Eat This. – Katie and I both went gluten-free (for similar reasons) at about the same time, so together we’ve come to understand what lovely and amazing gluten-free food options are available to us. She is definitely a wonderful resource for alternative grains, and sings the praises of millet, teff, and quinoa! She always has healthy and delicious recipes available on her blog.

6. Paula at Bell’alimento – What a lovely blog! She has delicious recipes, and she’s always available and willing to help someone out, even if it means “Stumbling” their blog that day!

7. Cindy at Jacob’s Reward – Cindy is an awesome blogger, even though it’s not a “food” blog. She diligently blogs nearly every day about the goings on at the Jacob’s Reward farm, is always friendly and available to help, and she’s more dedicated to her CSA and that farm than anyone I’ve ever seen! That, and her chickens give our family the BEST eggs…I’ve learned so much from her!

8. Jenn at Bread + Butter – Jenn’s recipes ALWAYS look drool-worthy. A few days ago, she posted about grilled cheese, which makes me nostalgic! She’s also a huge supporter of Tasty Eats At Home.

9. Marilyn at Just Making Noise – Marilyn’s recipes look so good, and they’re always healthy, with natural ingredients. She supports local produce and farmers as much as she can, which is pretty awesome, in my book!

10. Natalie at Natalie’s Killer Cuisine – Natalie makes decadent dishes, most of which cause me to gain weight just thinking about them! But seriously, her recipes are delicious, and she shows tremendous talent.

Thank you again to Simply Life and Spain in Iowa, I’m honored!

And now, to the recipes!

hawaiian and soup and biscuits 041

Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup, adapted from 101 Cookbooks:

1 large pumpkin, 8-10 lbs, cut in half and seeds removed (or you could use two large cans of pumpkin, or a butternut squash or two)

salt and pepper

2 T butter, melted

1 T olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t grated fresh ginger

1/2 t ground coriander

2 t Thai red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen, which is gluten-free, and available at a lot of standard grocery stores)

1 14-oz can coconut milk

2 c vegetable broth

minced chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly season pumpkin halves with salt and pepper, and brush with butter. (can use olive oil if you prefer) Place skin-side down on a baking sheet, and allow to roast until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove and allow to cool.

In a large stock pot, bring olive oil to medium heat and add garlic, ginger, curry paste, and coriander. Allow to cook for a minute or two, stirring, just until it becomes fragrant. Add pumpkin and coconut milk and stir, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, remove from heat, and puree. (I used a hand blender, but if you don’t have one, you can blend in batches with your blender or food processor.) Place back on heat and stir in broth, a little at a time, until the soup is at the desired consistency. Taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary. Keep at a simmer for 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Garnish with minced chives. Serves 5-6.

Gluten-Free Chive Biscuits, adapted from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free

2 c gluten-free flour blend (your favorite, or view the blend I adapted from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free below)

1 T baking powder

1 t kosher salt

1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

1 c 2 % milk

1/4 c chopped fresh chives

1 egg mixed with 1 T water, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 4oo degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Sift together flour blend and baking powder. Stir in salt to mix. Add cold butter, and either using a stand mixer on low, or even using a spoon or your hands, mix until the butter is the size of peas. Add milk and beat until just mixed together. Add chives and mix until just combined.

Drop dough in large spoonfuls onto parchment paper. Brush tops with egg wash, and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, if desired. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until browned and puffy. Makes 8 biscuits.

Gluten-free Flour Blend

1 c brown rice flour

1 c sorghum flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c arrowroot starch/flour

1 t xanthan gum

Mix together well and store in an airtight container.

Kids in the Kitchen: Spanish Almond Meatballs and Saffron Chorizo Rice

matt - spanish meatballsMatt prepared Spanish food for the family today. We discussed various dishes to make, thumbing through my copy of Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World, but he was drawn once again to meatballs. Not that I can say I blame him - what kid doesn’t like meatballs? (His favorite dish in the world is spaghetti and meatballs, as evidenced by one of his earlier turns in the kitchen.) In addition to the meatballs, we settled on a Spanish saffron chorizo rice, and some simply steamed green beans.

The meatball recipe was modified to be gluten-free, of course. This is a rather easy change to make. I made gluten-free breadcrumbs by toasting slices of old gluten-free bread I made, and then processing them into crumbs in the food processor. Of course, you could use any gluten-free bread or rolls to do the same. In Mark Bittman’s recipe, he called for dusting the meatballs with flour – I simply omitted this step. I also baked them instead of pan-frying, just to make things easier. Matt, of course, enjoyed forming the meatballs, and again attempted to create “the biggest meatball ever.”

matt - biggest meatball ever

The saffron chorizo rice was based on a Mark Bittman recipe as well. This dish has flavors similar to that of a paella, only it’s a bit simpler and does not have that characteristic paella “crust.” It did, however, have the wonderful aroma of saffron and that pleasant saltiness of the chorizo.

matt - spanish yellow chorizo rice

The verdict? The meatballs were okay, but lacked a depth of flavor, and were a bit dry. I used a lean ground beef, and perhaps next time should make them with a fattier meat. I also would prefer to add an herb in the meatballs to boost flavor – whether that would make them less “Spanish”, I’m not sure. As for the rice, it did have a wonderful blend of flavors. Mark Bittman’s recipe did call for a diced tomato, which I omitted. I think next time I’d leave that tomato in, to further balance the flavors and add a bit of acidity to the dish. But regardless, Matt was pleasantly surprised at how tasty the rice was (the part of the dish he was most skeptical about), and in addition, he had a great time – which, to me, is what being in the kitchen is all about.

matt - spanish meatballs - full plate

Almond Meatballs, adapted from Mark Bittman:

2 lbs ground beef or pork

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 c gluten-free bread crumbs

2 T minced garlic

1/2 c blanched almonds, roughly chopped

salt and black pepper to taste

canola spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine the meat in a bowl with the egg, bread crumbs, garlic, almonds, and salt and pepper. Mix well but don’t knead. Form into balls of any size you like (we made them about 1 1/2 inch in diameter).

Spray two baking pans with canola spray, and place meatballs on the pans. Place baking pans in the upper 1/3 and lower 1/3 racks in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Switch the pans, and bake for another 10 minutes or until cooked through. Makes about 48 1 1/2 inch meatballs.

Saffron Chorizo Rice, adapted from Mark Bittman:

2 1/2 c vegetable stock

large pinch of saffron threads

6 oz Spanish chorizo, sliced

1 T minced garlic

2 t Spanish smoked paprika

1 1/2 c Arborio or other short-grain rice

salt and pepper to taste

chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Warm the stock gently in a saucepan with the saffron. Heat a deep skillet to medium heat. Add the chorizo, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, and rice and continue to cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy, just a minute or two.

Add the stock, along with pepper (and salt if you think you need it – I didn’t.) Cover and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers gently. Cook until the rice is done, about 15-20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with the parsley, and serve. Makes about 4-5 servings.