Monthly Archives: May 2010

Daring Bakers: Piece Montee or Croquembouche

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

When I read that challenge for this month, my first reaction was fear. Croquembouche is a grand treat, worthy of elegant parties, and as it is commonly seen in France, at weddings. Many times, a croquembouche can tower over other pastries as a tall, commanding pyramid of cream puffs, covered with caramel, chocolate and sometimes, decorative candies or spun sugar. I’d never made cream puffs. I can barely make a layer cake, and I haven’t even tried anything so daunting since going gluten-free. And right now, I’m currently dairy and corn-free, so I had to consider making those adjustments as well.

But once I had some time to absorb the details, my next reaction was one of excitement. Despite my hectic schedule, I had to make room for this challenge. If I could pull it off, I’d feel so accomplished. I would grow. I would step outside that box. And after all, isn’t that what Daring Bakers is all about?

So I made plans to make it. Only…time escaped me. I wanted to make it this past weekend, but other activities trumped it. So I finally told my husband that he’d have to fend for himself for dinner Monday night – I was dedicating the evening to croquembouche. Little did I know just how much of the evening I would be dedicating.

Four and a half hours. Now, normally, that isn’t anything for me to complain about. I love to spend Sundays in the kitchen all day, preparing various dishes and baking. Time flies when I’m in the kitchen, and I couldn’t be happier. The reason it took me four and a half hours to make the croquembouche was only because I failed. My first pate a choux dough was so thin that when I piped it to bake, it spread out like pancake batter. Batch two, following a different recipe, was nearly as thin, but in a desperate attempt, I baked it, only to end up with flat disks. Finally, I tried one more recipe. Obviously, it was the recipe I should have started with – the puffs “puffed” beautifully, and were nice and light. Just like the gluten-y, buttery ones. I was encouraged, and so I pressed on with the caramel glaze. And it failed – it siezed up and was grainy. But with such perfect puffs, I had to try again. My next glaze was great, and I assembled the croquembouche. This process started to become fun!

Then, finally, I wanted to decorate the croquembouche with spun sugar. Only the first time I tried to make it, I used the same pan that siezed up my caramel glaze (I think it was too small). It siezed up the caramel for the spun sugar. So I went to the “successful” pan, and for the first time ever, I made spun sugar. It was so fun, I can’t wait to think of new things to decorate with it!

In any case, I was so excited that I stuck with this challenge. I was pretty pleased with how the croquembouche looked. But the taste? Oh – it was evil! (Evilly divine, that is…) When you bite into a piece, it crunches with caramel on the outside, with a delicate puff, and then you get the burst of a lovely, not-too-rich almond cream. Heaven. My husband, not one for sweets or pastries, upon seeing it, said “Baby, that’s really cool.” and when he ate some, there was a lot of “nom nom nom” going on. (Okay, there was “nom nom nom” from both of us!)

This has been my favorite challenge so far. While I doubt Memorial Day is the perfect day to make one of these for guests, (Croquembouche and burgers? Nah, not so much.) I do want to make it for a special event sometime! A big thanks to Cat for challenging us!

Dairy Free Pastry Cream, adapted from Simply…Gluten Free

2 c coconut milk

1/4 t kosher salt

6 large egg yolks, at room temperature

1/2 c granulated sugar

3 T tapioca starch or potato starch (I used a mixture of both)

1 t vanilla extract

1 t almond extract

Combine the coconut milk and salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks with the sugar on medium high speed until the mixture is light yellow and thick, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and add the starches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer back to low and slowly add the hot coconut milk to the egg mixture in a thin stream. Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan and cook over medium heat until thick and it just starts to come back up to a boil, stirring constantly with a spoon or whisk. Continue cooking for 1 – 2 minutes. (Do not cook more than 2 minutes or the starches will lose effectiveness.) Remove from heat and stir in the extracts. Strain into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 – 3 hours. Whisk the pastry cream well before filling the puffs.

Dairy Free “Cream” Puffs, adapted from Simply…Gluten Free

1/2 c organic palm shortening

1 c coconut milk

1 pinch kosher salt

1 c sweet rice flour

4 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

In a medium saucepan, combine the shortening, coconut milk, and salt and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Stir to try to incorporate the oil with the coconut milk – it won’t completely blend, but that’s okay. As soon as it comes to a boil, remove from heat and dump in the flour all at once. With a wooden spoon, stir quickly and in one direction. The liquid will start absorbing and form a ball. Some of the oil will remain at the bottom of the pan – that’s okay. Continue to cook and stir for 1-2 minutes.

Dump the contents of the saucepan into the bowl of a stand mixer, oil and all, fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the dough for a minute on medium speed to cool it down slightly. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, waiting until one incorporates into the dough fully before adding the next. The dough will look like a gloopy mess at first, but then it will start to blend and look kind of like buttery mashed potatoes. Continue mixing the dough until it is uniformly smooth and thick.

Place dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain large tip (or no tip at all) and pipe into silver-dollar-sized circles on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven off and allow to sit for another 20 minutes to dry out.

Hard Caramel Glaze (and Spun Sugar)

1 c sugar
½ t lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water for just a moment to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée/Croquembouche

You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. You can use toothpicks if needed.

Spun Sugar

Use the recipe for the caramel glaze, and when sugar is melted, remove from heat and start stirring with a fork. Once the sugar starts to cool enough to create strands, take the fork and swirl the sugar strands around the piece montee. Repeat until the desired amount of sugar is all over your piece montee.

30 Days to a Food Revolution – Get Creative!

Over at one of my favorite gluten-free blogs, The W.H.O.L.E. Gang, a revolution is occurring. That’s right, a Food Revolution! Every day for 30 days, a different guest blogger is posting tips and a recipe using REAL food, in an attempt to further the Food Revolution brought about by Jamie Oliver. I’ve been following along eagerly, and I’m learning so much. Now, it’s my turn. If you visit The W.H.O.L.E. Gang here, you can check out my post about getting creative in the kitchen and where I share my quinoa salad recipe.

Of course, as I mention in my post, eating healthy isn’t all lettuce, all the time. It’s not even all about salads, although I love salads. Eating healthy also includes treats, and even ice cream! Of course, I’m not talking about the corn syrup-laden stuff found in a cardboard carton, full of preservatives and stabilizers. That’s not real food. And ice cream is so easy to make at home (and it can be economical!), that it should become part of your regular summer routine! (Your kids will love you for it.) This ice cream recipe came about as a result of too many avocados. You see, I belong to the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, and recently was lucky enough to receive a supply of California Avocados. I was excited, but when they arrived, I found that I had 13 perfectly ripe avocados. I knew I had to do something fast in order to use them at their prime – and making guacamole alone wasn’t going to cut it. Then I remembered an episode of Top Chef Masters, where Rick Bayless made an avocado ice cream. It was an “a-ha!” moment for me – I saw avocado ice cream in our future.

I surveyed what I had on hand. I didn’t have all of the ingredients that Rick used in his recipe, so I had to improvise. I grabbed a can of coconut milk, some honey, some almonds, and almond extract. Avocados, honey, almonds…sounded good to me! I toasted the almonds and chopped them, blitzed all of the other ingredients in the food processor (which took all of about a minute), and threw everything but the almonds in the ice cream maker. After folding the almonds in, and placing the ice cream in the freezer, all that I had left to do was wait. (And wash a few dishes, but hey, everything comes with a price.)

A few hours later, what emerged from the freezer was the creamiest, silkiest ice cream I’d ever eaten. While it didn’t really taste of avocados, it was gorgeously green and so good. It was a healthier treat (avocados are a great source of fiber, vitamin K, and potassium), but rich enough that it would be hard to over-indulge. In my mind, that’s a great combination.

Almond-Honey Avocado Ice Cream, adapted from Rick Bayless

1/3 c whole almonds, toasted

2 c avocado puree (4-5 Haas avocados)

1 c coconut milk

1 c honey

1 T tequila or other alcohol (can be optional, but your ice cream will set harder without it)

1 t almond extract

Chop almonds coarsely and set aside. Place avocado, coconut milk, honey, tequila, and almond extract in a food processor or blender and puree until well combined and silky smooth. Transfer to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Eat immediately for soft-serve, or freeze for a few hours. (No ice cream maker? Check out how to make ice cream without it!)

Also, check out Foodspring.com, where Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free is currently competing in a blog contest! She’s the ONLY gluten-free blogger there, and she needs your support! Please vote and rate her post, and spread the word with friends!

Kids in the Kitchen: Cajun ‘Gator Tail and Dirty Rice

Yes, you read that right. ‘Gator tail. Brandan reaches for the stars when it comes to creative choices for dinner. I thought I had a source for ‘gator tail too – I saw a vendor at the Firewheel Four Seasons Farmers Market a few weeks ago selling all sorts of Gulf seafood, including alligator tail. However, when we arrived this morning, that vendor was nowhere to be found. Brandan and I made plans to come up with an alternative solution – we planned to visit a fish market and find some sort of seafood.

Later in the day, Brandan, my husband, and I visited Captain Dave’s Seafood Market in Plano and looked around. We had nearly decided on crab legs when lo and behold, my husband noticed that ‘gator tail was on their board. I inquired, and they had some in stock! We happily purchased it and hurried home to start our meal, which also included grilled corn and dirty rice.

Just for a bit of background, alligator tail, or ‘gator, is an exotic meat/seafood enjoyed around the Gulf coast of North America, in states such as Louisiana and Florida. Its flavor is mild (as that saying goes, it tastes kind of like chicken), and its texture is somewhat firmer and chewier than chicken or fish. It’s not something you’ll find an a regular grocery, although I’ve seen a few places where you can order it online. Before we cooked it tonight, I’d only eaten it in restaurants, and only deep-fried. (Way back in my pre-gluten-free days, of course) This was an adventure for all of us.

To keep with our Cajun theme, we opted for dirty rice. Dirty rice is a Cajun rice dish, somewhat similar to a pilaf, that traditionally has chicken livers or giblets cooked with it, giving it a dark or “dirty” appearance. While I love chicken livers, I didn’t have any on hand, so we opted to make a simpler version that still was packed with Cajun spices and flavor. I found some lovely pork sausage from Truth Hill Farm, a local farm with grass-fed beef, pork, dairy, and free range chickens laying healthy, farm-fresh eggs. It was a perfect ingredient for our rice.

When contemplating Cajun or Creole spices, who better to use as a reference than Emeril? It had been a long while since I made any of his Essence, so we took this opportunity to make some. It’s a great go-to spice mix, perfect for seasoning everything from chicken to seafood to gumbos or rice dishes. We used it for both our dirty rice and for the ‘gator - it was a great way to streamline the cooking process. When you’re cooking with a very energetic child, this is definitely a plus.  

The gator was simply seasoned with the Essence and grilled – much simpler than going through the process of frying, and Brandan and I both love to use the grill any opportunity we get. Since we had the grill going, we also wrapped some fresh corn on the cob in foil, seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and a pat of butter. With the dirty rice, this rounded out a great meal that everyone enjoyed. Only Matt wasn’t fond of the ‘gator tail – the rest of us thought it was pretty tasty. And the dirty rice was a winner with everyone – it might have to become something we make on a regular basis. (My only thought for improvement would be to swap out the white rice for brown, just because I love the texture of brown rice, and of course, it’s heartier and healthier.) Another adventure with Brandan in the kitchen was a success!

 

Dirty Rice 

1 c yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

1 small bell pepper, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled

½ lb loose pork sausage

1 T Essence

2 c long-grain white rice

3 c chicken stock or water

2 bay leaves

 Place the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor and process until no large chunks remain. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, brown and crumble the pork sausage over medium heat. When browned, add the mixture from the food processor and sauté for another minute or two. Add the Essence and rice and stir. Add the chicken stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Remove bay leaves. Fluff, adjust seasonings to taste, and serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

Grilled Alligator Tail

 3 lbs alligator tail, cut into 3 oz pieces

1/4-1/2 c Essence

Season ‘gator tail pieces with Essence. Preheat grill to medium heat. Place ‘gator tail on oiled grates and grill 2-3 minutes per side, or until gator tail is firm and opaque.

 Serves 6.

Shaking Beef

When my husband casually walked into the kitchen the other day, asking “What’s for dinner?”, he had such a puzzled look when I replied “Shaking Beef.” I started to explain myself, and then upon seeing him quickly lose interest, yet not gain any understanding, I stopped myself short and said “It’s a beef stir-fry.” Sometimes I need to remember that fancy names for dishes get me nowhere at home.

But in order to satisfy your curiosity, I’ll share with you. This dish is Vietnamese in origin, and gets its name not from some miraculous trembling act it does on the plate, but rather from the shaking motion you use when stir-frying the beef and onions. This particular recipe is based very closely on a recipe from Charles Phan at Slanted Door restaurant, one of the many places I MUST visit whenever I might get to San Francisco. Until then, following his recipe at home will be the closest we’ll get. Good thing it’s relatively straightforward. It was also very easy to convert to gluten-free, too – all I needed was to ensure my soy sauce and fish sauce were gluten-free. (I discovered early in my gluten-free days that Three Crabs brand is not gluten-free. Now I stick with those brands that have short ingredient lists – usually no more than fish, sugar, and salt.) The soy sauce I use is San-J Low Sodium Tamari.

So now that you know about Shaking Beef, and how easy it is, go forth and impress (or confuse) others with your dish!

Shaking Beef, adapted from Charles Phan

1 1/2 lbs beef tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

5 garlic cloves, chopped

2 T agave nectar

2 t kosher salt

1 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

5 T canola oil

1/4 c rice wine vinegar

1/4 c rice wine or white wine

3 T gluten-free soy sauce

1 T fish sauce

Juice of 1 medium lime

2 bunches watercress or 1 small head red leaf lettuce, separated into leaves

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

3 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

2 T unsalted butter

In large bowl, place meat, garlic, 1 tablepsoon agave nectar, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours and no more than 12 hours. (I actually only marinated for an hour, and it was still quite flavorful.) Whisk together rice-wine vinegar, wine, soy sauce, fish sauce, and 1 tablespoon agave nectar and set aside. In small ramekin, whisk together lime juice, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Arrange watercress or lettuce on four plates.

Divide meat into 2 portions and place in two medium bowls.

In wok or large skillet over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil until smoking, then add one bowl of meat in one layer. Sear until brown crust forms, about 3 to 4 minutes, then flip to brown other side, another 3 to 4 minutes. Add half of red onion slices and half scallions, and sauté, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1/3 cup vinegar mixture and shake pan to release beef, stirring if necessary. Add 1 tablespoon butter, shaking pan until butter melts. Remove meat, and repeat with remaining portion of meat and remaining onions, scallions, vinegar mixture, and butter.

Arrange beef on top of watercress/lettuce and serve with lime dipping sauce and a side of steamed jasmine or brown rice.

Serves 4.

Gluten-Free Frenzy Interviews Tasty Eats!

Just a quick note to let you know that Chandice Probst of Gluten Free Frenzy has been so kind to write a spotlight about Tasty Eats At Home! Chandice has a wonderful blog full of gluten-free helpful hints, products, and recipe ideas. Check out the interview here, and while you’re at it, browse Gluten Free Frenzy for some wonderful, tasty gluten-free ideas!

Daring Cooks: Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchiladas

I love it when challenge recipes don’t need tweaking to make them gluten-free. Hooray for that! And while enchilada recipes are no stranger to this blog (see here, here, and here - yes, I realize not all are gluten-free…some of those are a long time ago!), I will admit I’ve never created a stacked enchilada recipe before. Now I can appreciate why some people choose to make enchiladas this way! It’s a) easier, and b) you get more of that lovely corn tortilla flavor in each bite. I’ll definitely try this recipe and other variations again.

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh. Of course, it doesn’t have to be Cinco de Mayo around here for us to enjoy enchiladas – they’re welcome any time.

I did make a few minor changes to the way the green chile sauce was made. I opted to roast the tomatillos alongside the chiles instead of boiling them. I felt this only added to that lovely roasted flavor. I also made it a bit easier on myself by placing not only the tomatillos in the food processor, but also the chiles, onion, oregano, and garlic, and just processed it all together to make the sauce. I also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts, just because it was what I had on hand.

Next time I make this, I think I might opt for more chiles, or add a jalapeno or two, just because I love the heat. But these enchiladas were absolutely delicious, especially with the grilled chicken - my husband and I polished off the entire batch for dinner that night and lunch the next day.

Another challenge successfully completed!

Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchiladas

1 1/2 lbs fresh Anaheim chiles (or Hatch chiles, if you’re lucky enough to have them!)

8 oz tomatillos, husks removed

1 clove garlic, peeled

1/2 of a medium yellow onion, chopped coarsely

1 t dried oregano

1/2 t kosher salt

1/4 t black pepper

4 c chicken stock

2 T cornstarch

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

3 T olive oil, or more as needed

12 small corn tortillas

8 oz Monterey Jack, shredded

cilantro for garnish

Lay the chiles and husked tomatillos on a baking sheet lined with foil (this foil will make for MUCH easier clean-up). Place the baking sheet under the broiler and broil until chiles and tomatillos are blackened on all sides, turning every couple of minutes to ensure even browning. Remove and place the chiles in a large bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so.

Pull the stem and seed core from the chiles, and peel the skin from the chiles (the skin should come off easily, but if not, scrape it a bit). Place tomatillos, chiles, garlic, onion, and oregano in a food processor and process until no large chunks appear. Pour into a medium saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Make a slurry with cornstarch and a tablespoon or so of water, and add this slurry mixture to the sauce. Continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until sauce has reduced to about 4-5 cups and is thickened. Adjust seasonings as needed.

While the sauce is simmering, heat grill to medium heat. Coat the chicken with olive oil and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Grill until just cooked through, 4-5 minutes per side. Allow to cool and chop finely.

In a small skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Using tongs, put a tortilla in the pan and cook until soft and lightly brown, about 15 seconds per side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding additional oil as needed to the pan.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a baking dish large enough to hold 4 separate stacks of tortillas (I used a 13X9 baking dish, and my tortillas overlapped a bit – but it worked), ladle a thin layer of sauce. Lay 4 tortillas in the dish and ladle another 1/2 cup of sauce over them. Divide half the chicken among the first layer of tortillas, top with another 1/2 cup of sauce and 1/3 of the grated cheese. Stack another 4 tortillas, top with the rest of the chicken, more sauce and another 1/3 of the cheese. Finish with the rest of the tortillas, top with remaining sauce ( didn’t use all of my sauce) and cheese. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is hot, melted, and bubbly. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Brazilian-Style Fish Stew (Moqueca)

 

It is May, which for most of us means warmer temperatures, more sun, and the beckoning call of the barbeque. But for those days when it’s raining, excessively windy or otherwise dreary outside, a soup or stew is in order. And there are days you just need something creamy and warm to comfort your belly. When I decided to make this stew last night, comforting food was just what I needed. I’d had a bad day, where something I ate this past weekend was wreaking havoc on my system. I needed comfort, but I needed it to be relatively easy on the tummy, and more substantial than a broth – because I was also starving! This stew was a miracle worker – it soothed some of the aches and pains, and it warmed and filled my belly. It was comfort in a whole new way.

Of course, you don’t have to be in need of healing to decide on a stew such as this. It’s ready in under an hour, is made with fresh ingredients, is gluten-free and dairy-free, and pretty darn healthy – what’s not to love? What was also amazing, in my opinion, was that it reheats beautifully. I enjoyed leftovers for lunch today, and the fish remained moist and flavorful. I can only imagine it would be a definite family-pleaser, and different from the usual weeknight routine.

I opted for tilapia in this recipe – not that tilapia is an authentic choice, it’s just inexpensive and sustainable, and it’s what I had on hand. Most recipes I’ve seen call for an oilier fish, which would be lovely. I could also imagine shrimp would make an excellent substitute. I also didn’t have dende (palm) oil on hand, so I simply omitted it, using olive oil instead. (Definitely going to keep my eye out for it though!) Vegan? I haven’t tried this recipe “veganized”, but I would imagine that substituting vegetable broth for the chicken stock and clam juice, and adding a diced potato (not Idaho, I would go for something more like a red-skinned potato or a Yukon Gold) and/or adding extra veggies might work well here. (I could have totally subsisted on the tomato-ey, fragrant coconut milk broth alone – just saying!)

 

Brazilian-Style Fish Stew, adapted from Leite’s Culinaria and Cooking Light

1 ½ lbs tilapia, cut into 2-inch chunks

¼ c lime juice

5 T olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced and divided

1 inch piece of ginger, minced and divided

3 scallions, sliced

4 T cilantro, chopped and divided

½ t salt

¼ t pepper

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 bay leaf

1 bottle clam juice

1 c low-sodium or homemade chicken stock

1 c coconut milk

2 T tomato paste

2 tomatoes, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the tilapia, lime juice, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, half the garlic, half the ginger, the scallions, and half the cilantro in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute. Add the bay leaf, clam juice, chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the coconut milk and tomato paste and return to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add tilapia chunks and cook for 3 minutes or until cooked through. Add the diced tomatoes at the last minute, just long enough to heat through. Serve with jasmine rice, garnished with remaining cilantro.

Serves 4.

Kids in the Kitchen: Blueberry Pancakes

If any of you have ever really dug back into the very beginnings of this blog, you might have come across an old posting for blueberry pancakes. They weren’t gluten-free, and I wasn’t in the habit of taking pictures (nor did I have any photography skills whatsoever), but I remember them quite well. Packed full of fresh blueberries, light, tangy, barely sweet, and buttery. Yum. I immediately knew I’d be reincarnating these babies when Brittany mentioned she wanted to make blueberry pancakes. (Maybe she remembered them, too.)

This recipe originates from an older issue of Saveur magazine (still one of my favorite subscriptions). I went the easy route while converting them to gluten-free, using one of my favorite mixes – Pamela’s Baking and Pancake mix. While I tend to enjoy mixing my own flours, it’s good to know there is a streamlined alternative once in a while. If you opt to use your own mix of flours, be sure and add a bit of xanthan gum (about 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour) and salt to the recipe.

These did take a while to make, partly because we made them one-by-one. But once we sat down to enjoy their berry-fresh deliciousness, topped with a touch of maple syrup, it was well worth it.

 

Gluten-Free Blueberry Pancakes, adapted from Saveur

2 c gluten-free flour blend (such as Pamela’s)

2 t coconut sugar

1 c sour cream

2-3 T milk

2 t baking soda

1/2 c seltzer water

2 eggs, lightly beaten

5-6 T unsalted butter

2 c fresh blueberries

Maple syrup, for drizzling

Place a sieve over a large bowl and sift together the flour mix and coconut sugar. (If you’re using your own homemade flour blend or one that does not contain xanthan gum or salt, be sure to about 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum and about 1/4 teaspoon salt) In another large bowl, stir together the sour cream, milk, and baking soda. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add the sour cream mixture, seltzer water, and eggs to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Add additional milk if the batter is too thick. Let batter rest 10 minutes.

 Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spoon about ¼ cup batter into skillet, and spoon about 6-10 blueberries into pancake, pressing down a bit to push the blueberries into the pancake. Cook until bubbles begin to form around the edges, about 2 minutes. Flip, and cook for another 2 minutes. Put on a plate and cover with towel or paper towel to keep warm. Continue with remaining pancakes, wiping the pan clean and adding more butter in between pancakes as necessary. Serve with maple syrup. Makes about 12 pancakes.

Celiac and Gluten Intolerance Awareness

May 2010 is officially Gluten-Free Awareness Month. As I mentioned before, the first-ever Gluten-Free Challenge is happening on May 22-23, 2010 in order to raise awareness. If you’re interested in learning more about the challenge (or taking the challenge!), check it out at http://www.gogfchallenge.com/.

A lot of other things are happening this month in order to promote the awareness of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. For example, check out the 16-page article here in today’s USA Today. It’s a great overview of celiac disease and shares interesting stories of various people with celiac disease. I certainly hope this and other efforts increase awareness. After all, celiac disease is one of the most undiagnosed autoimmune disorders in the world – and particularly in the United States. It is believed that one in 133 Americans have celiac disease (1 in 56 with related symptoms, and 1 in 22 for those with first-degree relatives with diagnosed celiac disease), but approximately 95% of those Americans are undiagnosed. They don’t know they have it. Undiagnosed celiac disease can lead to many complications, including increased risks for cancer, osteoporosis, osteopenia, iron-deficiency anemia, neurological problems, and other related autoimmune diseases, such as Type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis, or alopecia. Obviously, having celiac disease and not knowing it, and not treating it, has consequences.

What are some of the symptoms of celiac disease? Once upon a time, when celiac disease was considered rare and a childhood disease, diarrhea was one of the primary symptoms. Now, doctors are starting to understand that the symptoms associated with celiac disease are varied. They can include:

- recurring abdominal bloating and/or pain

- chronic diarrhea and/or constipation

- vomiting

- Liver and biliary tract disorders

- weight loss

- pale, foul-smelling stool

- iron-deficiency anemia that does not respond to iron therapy

- fatigue

- failure to thrive or short stature

- delayed puberty

- pain in the joints

- tingling numbness in arms or legs

- painful sores in the mouth

- a skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH)

- tooth discoloration or loss of enamel

- unexplained fertility or miscarriage

- GERD

(for more symptoms, visit here)

Many times, people with a range of these symptoms are misdiagnosed with diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, GERD, or countless others. Some people exhibit some of these symptoms, but some people with celiac disease are what they call “silent” celiacs – they exhibit little or no symptoms.

The tests for celiac disease available are relatively straightforward. There is an antibody blood test, and there is a biopsy test. The biopsy is more accurate, as it can potentially show damage to the small intestine (villi) – the “gold standard” indicator of celiac disease. However, there are still those that show negative on these tests, yet their health still improves on the gluten-free diet. These are the people thought to have gluten intolerance. Some were not tested for celiac disease, or perhaps they were tested but the results were negative. (This is what happened to me) Regardless, they know they feel better without gluten. For these people, the proof is in the pudding (or gluten, really). Some research has suggested that gluten intolerance is even more prevalent than celiac disease.

If you or someone you know exhibits some of these symptoms, get tested. In my situation, I was feeling worse and worse. I wasn’t even 30 years old yet, but was fatigued, had constant heartburn, digestive symptoms, vitamin B12 deficiency, tingling and numbness in my hands and feet, and intense brain fog. I was doing everything “right”. I was exercising daily. I wasn’t overweight. I ate a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. Yet I continued to feel worse. Even though my blood test came back negative for celiac disease, I knew that I had a family history of gluten intolerance. So I finally made up my mind that I had to try something. So I went on a gluten-free diet for 2 months. Rather quickly, most of the symptoms disappeared. I felt less fatigued. My mind was clear. My heartburn started to go away. And when I “tested” myself (I ate rolls, couscous, and a cookie within 24 hours), I immediately knew. Those symptoms all came rushing back, plus some. I was SICK, and it was dramatic enough that there was no question in my mind. Ever since then, I have been gluten-free, and my health has improved. I am still healing, but it has made a dramatic difference in my life.

Learning to live gluten-free isn’t a piece of cake (haha). But once you understand the rules, it starts to become a routine. The easiest thing to do – and the best thing for your health – is to eat items that are naturally gluten-free. Most Americans eat way too many processed foods anyway, and it takes a toll on their health. For those with gluten intolerance, the toll is even greater. Processed foods have a lot of hard-to-digest preservatives, and many have gluten-containing ingredients (some of which are not readily apparent, even to the best label-readers.). It’s much easier to digest whole, natural foods – fresh chicken, fresh vegetables, steamed rice, etc. For some helpful hints on transitioning to a gluten-free diet, check out Shirley at Gluten Free Easily’s list of 50+ Gluten-Free Items You Can Eat Today or Karina at Gluten Free Goddess’s Gluten-Free ABCs. It’s a big change for many people. I can’t lie to you about that. But I promise you, it’s worth it.

Don’t forget that support is important too. You don’t have to feel isolated. The Gluten Intolerance Group has local chapters – you can feel free to join and attend meetings and such. There are forums, such as Celiac.com, where you can discuss anything, gluten-free related or not.  My preferred support group is right out here in the blog world – I have found friends, even heroes, in my blog reading! You think it’s tough being an adult with gluten intolerance? Check out Elana at Elana’s Pantry or Heidi at Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom, both of which feed their children gluten-free diets. Shirley at Gluten Free Easily is active in her local gluten-free support groups and is always helpful. Linda at Gluten-Free Homemaker seems to be the queen of baked goods. Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and Ali and Tom at Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen really help me out in making super-nutritious, delicious meals. Diane Eblin is driving our newest blog craze, 30 Days to a Food Revolution, over at The W.H.O.L.E Gang. Each of these blog friends and many, many more have been instrumental in not only keeping me sane as I transitioned to a gluten-free diet, but they’ve been inspiring, helpful, and such great friends.

So if you haven’t already signed up for the challenge, please consider it. Also consider increasing celiac and gluten intolerance awareness any way you know how – post updates on Facebook, Twitter, or email your friends.

Don’t Forget!

There’s still time to enter for a chance to win a zoo animal pancake pan! Check it out here!

Resources used for this post include:

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/932104-overview

The Gluten Syndrome.net

The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America

NordicWare and Challenge Dairy Giveaway

Disclaimer: While I mention NordicWare and Challenge Dairy in this post, I have not been paid by these companies in exchange for a review or a post. While I did receive items for review, it was entirely up to me how and whether I wished to share the items and information. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

The contest is now closed. The winner, chosen by random.org, was commenter #32, Anna! Anna, I’ll email you, but please send me your mailing address.

Congratulations!

Remember those brownie bites from the other day? The inspiration for those adorable bite-sized brownies came with the recent arrival of my new favorite baking pan – a NordicWare tea cake pan! You see, Challenge Dairy contacted me a while back, not just to inform me of their delicious dairy products, but also to share with me some news about new items coming available. They sent me much more than I anticipated, so I would love to share the wealth with you! Let me tell you – after baking with that tea cake pan, I’m sold on NordicWare products. Anyone who bakes gluten-free on a regular basis knows just how sticky gluten-free batters can be. Not with this pan! Those brownie bites fell out of the pan without any sticking. What’s better – the pan doesn’t warp. It’s nice and sturdy, unlike so many of my other baking pans. I’m definitely going to have to add some more pans to my “wish” list.

Another contributor to those delicious brownie bites was the Challenge butter. I’m a big butter lover, and I appreciate that Challenge Dairy only puts “real” ingredients in their butter – just butter and salt. That’s it. No preservatives, stabilizers, fillers – nothing you can’t pronounce. I believe that Jamie Oliver, in his “Food Revolution”, mentioned that if you read a label and it sounds like a science experiment, put it back. If it sounds like something from your Grandma’s kitchen (cream, flour, sugar, salt), then it’s probably okay. (Forgive me if this is not an exact quote, I’m going off of memory here!)  Good to know that there’s a butter out there that meets this criteria.

Because I love you guys, I opted to share a bit of the wealth with you. I’m giving away this totally adorable NordicWare pancake pan – perfect for making little pancakes for your family! Also included in the giveaway are a few coupons for free Challenge butter, so you can taste for yourself. All you need to do is leave me a comment below explaining what you will do with your new pancake pan. The giveaway will be open until May 14, 2010, at midnight CDT.

But wait! There’s more! (read this in your best infomercial voice)

You can increase your chances to win by doing the following things:

1. Tweet about this giveaway, and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

2. Post a Facebook update about this giveaway, and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

3. Blog about this giveaway, and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

4. Subscribe to Tasty Eats At Home via email or RSS feed, and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

This means you have a lot more chances to win! Good luck to everyone, and I promise, I’ll unbury myself from this crazy thing called life, and share another tasty gluten-free recipe soon!