Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta

When the sun comes out in Portland, the population of the city doubles. People escape their houses and take to the streets, parks, and cafes to make the most of the fleeting good weather. I am no exception, and I knew I needed to seize this opportunity to use the grill before the rain returned.

ingredients arranged by cooking time

ingredients arranged by cooking time

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This recipe appealed to me because it uses vegetables I can find this early in spring, like fennel and zucchini. It mixes the grilled ingredients with fresh tomatoes, basil, and feta to create a pleasing contrast of textures and flavors. The also helpfully provides ideal cooking times for each vegetable so everything cooks evenly. Feta adds a saltiness that really brings out the other flavors, but you could substitute olives to keep this dish dairy free.

grill first, cool, then dice

grill first, cool, then dice

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I served this will a simple grilled salmon the first night and grilled chicken sausages a second night. The rain has resumed, but these smoky grilled vegetables promise sunny summer nights are yet to come.

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Grilled Vegetable Salad with Feta via Fine Cooking

Ellie Krieger            Issue 104

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Homemade Chocolate Digestives

The rain has resumed. Much like the UK and Ireland, it rains in the Pacific Northwest for most of the year, and a hot, fragrant cup of tea is just the thing to warm your hands when the rain is lashing outside. Given their love of tea, it’s no surprise that the English developed a cookie that is its perfect accompaniment—the chocolate digestive. Digestives are typically made with whole wheat, and are light enough on sugar to taste almost wholesome. Dipping them in chocolate transforms them into a salty-sweet cookie designed for teatime (also known as elevenses.)

use high quality, gluten free dark chocolate

use high quality, gluten free dark chocolate

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This recipe relies on spelt flour, which is wheat free but not gluten free. Remembering the practically savory flavor of plain digestives from before my gluten-free days, I decided that buckwheat flour would make the best substitute for spelt. Its slight sourness really gave the cookies that whole-grain heartiness I was aiming for. I ended up using ½ cup of Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour blend, and ½ cup of buckwheat flour, just because I know the buckwheat can be overwhelming on its own. I also added the ¼ teaspoon of xantham gum recommended by Bob’s Red Mill when preparing cookies from their gf flour blend. In addition to the flours, this recipe calls for old-fashioned rolled oats. Oats are naturally gluten free, but the machines that cut them are usually heavily contaminated with wheat, so the only safe way to go if you’re celiac is to purchase gluten free oats. Blending the dry ingredients and butter together in a food processor (or blender) reduces the oats to a coarse texture, leaving a few chewy flakes in the final product.

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This recipe emphasizes a couple of times the importance of keeping the dough chilled, so if starts to get sticky be sure to pop it back in the fridge for a few moments. I don’t own a simple round cookie-cutter, so instead I made little people and dipped the bottom half in rich, melted dark chocolate. The chocolate was rich enough that dunking the whole cookie wasn’t necessary, but by all means, follow your heart on this one. Just be sure to check that your chocolate chips are gluten free and your digestives are fully cooled before any dunking occurs.

pre and post baking

pre and post baking

 

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These digestives were just right with a cup of dark, milky tea. Let the rain keep falling–I’ve got everything I need.

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Homemade Chocolate Digestives via Food52

By londonbakes            March 2014

Asian Turkey (or Chicken) Noodle Soup with Bok Choy

After eating corned beef and cabbage for two nights, I was craving something light and simple. This soup was just right! It took less than half an hour to make, although I admit to taking the lazy-cook’s approach and not cooking the ingredients separately. Next time I will follow the recipe more closely because the noodles could have been a little firmer. Glass noodles should always be gluten free because they are made out of mung bean starch. Although not tremendously flavorful on their own, they pick up the flavors of broths and sauces well.

pre-soaking the noodles means they cook in 3-4 minutes

pre-soaking the noodles reduces their cooking time to 3-4 minutes

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Asian is a pretty broad food category. In this case the recipe is described as Hawaiian comfort food with Chinese roots. Instead of soy sauce, I use gluten free tamari. Otherwise all of the ingredients were naturally gluten free! Simmering the chicken stock with some sliced ginger, smashed garlic, and soy sauce creates a fragrant, tasty broth. In the future I might try adding something spicy, like a sliced pepper, or an herbaceous ingredient like lemongrass. The broth was good on its own, but with a little imagination it has a lot of potential to become great. The bok choy just needs three or four minutes to steam and become tender. After adding the cooked chicken, top each bowl with sliced scallions. Scallions are sometimes treated like garnish, but in this recipe they should be plentiful. They lend an essential acidity and bite to this simple soup.

simmer broth with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce

simmer broth with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce

I poached the chicken a day in advance in order to put the soup together quickly after getting home from work. It honestly couldn’t have been easier, and was a healthy and satisfying way to end my week. Enjoy!

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Asian Turkey Noodle Soup with Bok Choy by Dabney Gough

Fine Cooking Issue 119

 

Suzanne Goin’s Corned Beef and Cabbage with Parsley-Mustard Sauce

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Having lived in Ireland on two separate occasions, I feel connected to the culture and will take this otherwise strange holiday as an excuse to celebrate all things Irish. That said, I’m not entirely convinced that corned beef and cabbage is, strictly speaking, an Irish tradition. Also known as New England Boiled dinner, I suspect that it was more commonly prepared by Irish immigrants in America, but it’s delicious and it’s associated with Ireland, and that’s good enough for me.

onions with cloves, turnips, and carrots

onions with cloves, turnips, and carrots

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Please, for the love of your health, buy corned beef from a place you trust! You don’t need something that’s dyed pink and full of chemicals. In Ireland, the concept of free-range beef is unheard of—because they can’t imagine raising cattle any other way. This dish is like an Irish twist on pot roast. Like pot roast, the key is to cook the corned beef for a long time at a low heat. I was tempted by Suzanne Goin’s recipe, but I simplified it by sticking to the simmer-on-the-stove cooking method. I’ve also had trouble sourcing chiles in adobo that don’t contain gluten, so I just left them out. I’m sure they would have added a smoky, spicy complexity, but I wasn’t disappointed with my more traditional, fork-tender corned beef.

let it rest before carving

let it rest before carving

I purchased a 4 ½ pound cut of well-brined corned beef and let it simmer with the onions, clove, bay leaves, and thyme for just under four hours. I removed the meat from the broth to let it rest and followed the recipe to prepare the potatoes, carrots, turnips, and cabbage. Once everything was tender but not overdone, I discarded the onions, carved the meat, and displayed everything together on a platter. The parsley-mustard sauce I made in advance, while the corned beef was simmering. It’s more like a vinaigrette than a sauce, but brightened up the whole meal with fresh parsley and lemon-vinegar tanginess. Even so, I added a small amount of Dijon mustard to my beef because that’s how I like it.

smashed parsley becomes a vinaigrette-like sauce

smashed parsley becomes a vinaigrette-like sauce

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Anthem’s dry hopped cider was the perfect drink to accompany this dish. This was a feast fit to celebrate my Irish friends. Sláinte!

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Suzanne Goin’s Corned Beef and Cabbage with Parsley-Mustard Sauce via Food52

 

The Final Phase of Gluten Free: Beauty Products

I transitioned to gluten free eating almost seven years ago. It was a revelation! I suddenly had my life back. A year or two into my new diet, I vaguely remember someone asking me if my makeup is gluten free. In a panic, I googled by Burts Bees Pomegranate lip balm and discovered that I was safe, and that’s where my search ended. I figured if it wasn’t on my lips and I wasn’t getting rashes, I was probably fine.

As some of you may know, I’m getting married in August. A good friend of mine is a cosmetologist, and she’s agreed to do my makeup for the wedding. Always conscientious, she started our planning conversation by asking if I use gluten-free makeup. I said, “I’m not really worried about it,” but in the back of my mind I began to wonder. Now that I have a better understanding of exactly how sensitive I actually am, and how pervasive gluten is, I became curious about just how much gluten is in my daily regime. The sad news? A lot. It’s in my shampoo and conditioner, which is no big deal, except that I definitely touch my hair and my face during the day. But set that aside, because it’s possibly in my face cleanser. I say possibly because it’s not really clear if it is, or if it isn’t. And that’s just the beginning! When I actually listed out all of the products I use on a daily basis, I identified half a dozen products that make contact with my skin every day—and several of them either contain gluten, or may contain gluten.

I’ve been devoted to The Body Shop for years, so I did some research and found lists of their gluten-free and gluten-contaminated products. I was dismayed to discover that most of my favorite products weren’t on either list. Fortunately, when I contacted The Body Shop they responded quickly, and most of what I’ve been using is safe. I’m just grateful they know what’s in their products, because so many companies don’t have a clue. Honestly, I’m one of those celiac folks who accept some cross-contamination as a matter of course. I know that I don’t have the ability to remove all gluten from my environment no matter how hard I try. But if I’m using multiple products every day that contain gluten-based ingredients, I’m fairly certain that I’m ingesting a little bit along the way. I have some mild symptoms that I haven’t been able to eradicate, and now I’m suspicious that my face cleanser and eye cream are the cause of these nagging symptoms. (Vitamin E oil can be derived from wheat, just so you know!)

Eliminating gluten from my diet was a big step. Although the extent of the issue can feel overwhelming, I’ve made the decision that I need to care about my skin care and beauty products, too. It’s just too much risk and not enough reward. I’m a little sad to leave behind the face cleanser I’ve been using for years, but what’s the point of being so intentional about eating gluten free if I’m literally washing my face in it? A few small changes could have a big impact on my health, so it’s definitely worth it.

Smoky Beans and Greens

This dish is a great way to say goodbye to winter. It’s simple and healthy, but almost achieves the heartiness of a rich winter stew. The trick is in the smoked paprika—a couple of teaspoons bring a complex smoky flavor to the whole pot. I add spicy Italian chicken sausage while I’m sautéing the onions, which is delicious but entirely optional. Kale, cannellini beans, and tomatoes are a common combination in Italian cuisine, and they rarely disappoint. This recipe is no exception!

flavor-filled ingredients

flavor-filled ingredients

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To make this vegan, simply leave out/substitute the cheese. To ramp up the flavor, add extra garlic, red pepper flakes, and use fire-roasted tomatoes. Good on its own, this recipe can also handle a fair amount of improvisation—so if you come up with a brilliant twist, please share!

pictured here with a quinoa corn muffin

pictured here with a quinoa corn and cheddar muffin

Smoky Beans and Greens via Epicurious

Bon Appétit            November 2009

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles

This dish is beautiful! It is an excellent way to prepare salmon for company because it comes together quickly and looks impressive. I used a meyer lemon and a blood orange to play up the contrast in colors, and because I like the sweetness of these varieties. The prep takes about ten minutes, and then the whole dish finishes off in the oven. I used a mandolin to slice everything—including the jalapeno. Be sure to wear gloves if you’re working with a hot pepper! It only takes one incident with capsaicin to discover why this step is so important.

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Since I wasn’t cooking for company, I purchased one pound of salmon fillets and altered my cooking time accordingly. I wanted the fennel to roast to its fullest sweetness, and the rinds of the citrus to lose some of their bitterness, so I roasted them for about 15 minutes before adding the salmon. I let the salmon filets cook for about 25 minutes, which meant they were cooked to medium rather than medium-rare. The end result was delicate and delicious, but next time I will roast the fennel mixture even longer for a sweeter, caramelized fennel result.

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Citrus and dill are natural complements to fish. Citrus flavors and brightens the fish without overpowering it, and dill is an herb delicate enough to pair well. The fennel and chile make this meal a little more interesting and fun. Enjoy!

served with a side of sauteed chard and capers

served with a side of sauteed chard and capers

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Fennel, Citrus, and Chiles

Bon Appétit