25 April 2011

Gluten-Free Easter Dinner

This Easter marked the last of my gluten-free firsts in a calendar year. As my one year anniversary of going gluten-free approaches (next week!), I have navigated changes surrounding holidays, birthdays, vacations, and so on. This Easter was also my parents' first Easter as Empty Nesters, so I couldn't leave them alone with none of their four children present (my sister live too far away and my brother had final exams). I worked very long days leading up to Easter and literally could not wait to hop in my Jeep and drive the 70 miles to rural New Hampshire to the house I grew up in. But me being me, rest and relaxation includes cooking and baking. My parents are trying to eat healthier so I created an easy and healthy but elegant menu.

My father loves to grill on cedar planks so he grilled the salmon while I prepared an incredible Blueberry Zinfandel Sauce, as well as a refreshing Parmesan Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Herbs (by one of my favorite bloggers and authors, Molly of Orangette). We all heartily enjoyed both dishes a long with a bit of wine.

And I know you're wondering where the dessert and/or chocolate comes into this holiday meal. I admit I was eating handfuls of Peanut M&Ms from about 10am on and also slowly butchering the world's most adorable chocolate bunny. My father and I also drove over to Kimball Farms in Jaffrey later that evening, where we sat on a picnic table in sprinkling rain sharing a delicious Cashew Caramel Chip cup. I am still in New Hampshire as I write the post and look forward to preparing both these dishes for friends back in Boston this spring and summer.

Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon with Blueberry Zinfandel Sauce
modified from Chef's Catalog

1 large cedar plank
1 large salmon filet
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Zinfandel wine  (I used Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel 2007)
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1 cup fresh blueberries

Soak cedar plank in water for at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove and pat dry. Brush the cedar plank with olive oil and lay the fish on. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cedar plank with salmon on grill and cook covered for 10-20 minutes.

While salmon is cooking, prepare sauce. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium/high heat. Add carrots and onions. Saute until golden brown, 11 to 12 minutes. Add celery and saute for 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Add tomato paste and cook 4 minutes. Deglaze the pan with red wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add beef broth, bay leaf, and Herbes de Provence. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon. Add blueberries and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the salmon with Blueberry Zinfandel Sauce and serve immediately.

Parmesan Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Herbs
modified from Bon Appetit and Orangette

1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, finely minced (I used my Microplane)
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated

Combine rinsed and drained chickpeas, basil, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic in medium bowl. Add cheese and toss gently to blend all ingredients thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or cold.

08 April 2011

Gluten-Free Recipe: Chicken with Bacon, White Beans & Tomatoes

Although the calendar in New England says it's officially Spring, Mother Nature has other ideas. Instead of going on a dinner date, a gentleman suitor and I decided to stay in and cook dinner together. For the menu, one of my favorite recipes came to mind -- Chicken with Bacon, White Beans and Tomatoes. It's incredibly flavorful with minimal ingredients and financial investment, plus I love that the entree and side dish are prepared simultaneously.

My date was a true wine aficionado and expertly paired our dinner with fantastic wine -- Mischief and Mayhem Red Burgundy 2006. We also later enjoyed Cline Cashmere Red 2009. It was a truly lovely evening with terrific food, wine and company. Try this recipe before warm weather arrives for good! Guaranteed not to disappoint.

Chicken with Bacon, White Beans and Tomatoes

6 bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large chicken thighs with skin and bone
2 medium onions, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
2 (15 ounce) cans white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
2 garlic gloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook bacon in a 10-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving fat in skillet.

Season chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brown chicken in fat in skillet over moderately high heat, about 8 minutes total, then transfer chicken with tongs to paper towels to drain.
Reduce heat to low-medium and cook onions in skillet with 1/4 teaspoon salt until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir tomatoes and juice into onions and boil, uncovered, 3 minutes, to concentrate juices slightly. Stir in bacon and beans and bring to a simmer. Nestle chicken, skin side up, in beans and bake, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool 10-15 minutes before serving. Bon appetit!

31 March 2011

Gluten-Free Recipe: Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes

One of my favorite things about my social life is the book club I started with some girlfriends in Fall 2009. After spending an evening with my friends Michelle and Emily eating frozen yogurt, drinking wine and discussing books and boys, I suggested we make it a more regular, formal activity. Over a year and a half later, we're still going strong! It's been so much fun to meet friends of friends from other areas of their life. Not everyone makes every meeting, not everyone finishes every book, but there is always plenty of food, wine and conversation at the Beantown Book Club.

For our March BBC meeting, Emily had her heart set on baking fellow Boston bloggers We Are Not Martha recipe for Red Wine Cupcakes. Being the thoughtful dear she is, she contacted me to ask how difficult it would be to make them gluten-free. At this point, I have basically mastered the art of modifying traditional recipes to be gluten-free, but I've had nearly a year of practice and invested in expensive ingredients. Emily was also very busy so I offered to make the cupcakes, frosting them with my leftover birthday cake frosting (which Michelle was obsessed with). The results were a huge hit! I loved the dark chocolate combined with the very sweet, fruity Shiraz and tangy raspberry frosting. As Michelle and I learned the hard way the next day, these cupcakes do not keep well. I am not a chemist or food scientist, but something about the wine must cause the cake to spoil. So these delicious cupcakes unfortunately cannot be made ahead of time.

Chocolate Red Wine Cupcakes
(yields 12 cupcakes)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
1/3 cup chocolate chips (I used 60% bittersweet)
1/3 cup boiling water
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 red wine  (I used Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz 2009)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heatproof bowl, combine the cocoa powder and chocolate chips. Slowly add the boiling water, whisking until chocolate is melted completely.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt.

In a electric stand mixer or large bowl, cream butter and sugar until combined. Beat in each egg one at a time. Slowly add flour mixture, stirring constantly. Alternate adding the chocolate and red wine to the batter, until entirely combined. Scoop batter into papered muffin tins, filling nearly to the top. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely then frost with your frosting of choice.

24 March 2011

Gluten-Free Recipe: Ethiopian Chickpea Stew

The art and act of cooking of one of my favorite pastimes. I have a list of recipes I want to test out which is growing every day. I will never tackle them all! But sometimes I get into ruts and patterns eating foods I'm craving, so over the weekend I was seeking a recipe to end my food funk. This Ethiopian Chickpea Stew certainly did the trick! Healthy, hearty, earthy and spicy (not to mention inherently gluten-free and vegan) it was a delicious, easy and inexpensive addition to my culinary canon. I hope you'll add it to yours as well!

Ethiopian Chickpea Stew

1 teaspoon paprika 

1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper 
1/2 teaspoon allspice  
1/2 teaspoon cardamom 

1/2 teaspoon cloves 

1/2 teaspoon coriander 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne 

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium red onion, chopped 
1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce 

3 cups low-sodium broth or stock (I used chicken stock because it's what I had on hand but you can easily use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian and vegan)

1 pound red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks 

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks 

Preheat oven to 450°F. Stir together paprika, salt, pepper, allspice, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cayenne and ground ginger in a small bowl; set aside.

Toss chickpeas with a tablespoon of olive oil on a large rimmed foiled baking sheet and spread out in a single layer. Roast chickpeas, stirring occasionally, until somewhat dried out and just golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes; set aside. 

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion and fresh ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in spice mixture and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until spices are very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and cook additional 2 minutes. 

Stir in stock, potatoes, carrots and roasted chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes and carrots are just tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover pot and simmer until stew is thickened and potatoes and carrots are very tender, about 25 minutes more. Ladle into bowls and enjoy hot. Store in refrigerator for up to a week. 

21 March 2011

Gluten-Free Recipe: Lemon Raspberry Birthday Cake

Hello, friends! It's been over three months since I last blogged. Oops! Life has continued to a constantly changing rollercoaster ride filled with surprises, disappointments and chaos. I am so happy to share that despite all the changes, I sit here typing this post a very happy, very blessed woman.

A packed social calendar, near daily snowstorms and an interesting (to say the least) dating life contributed to the mayhem. A very brief stint working as a hostess at one of the best restaurants in America taught me so much about myself and my true aspirations. I left for various reasons, but I subsequently ended up in a fantastic role at a chocolate shop, doing both retail sales but also implementing sales, marketing and social media strategies. I love it and was already even offered a promotion. I also just recently accepted a second part-time position working on a CSA at an organic farm for the season -- I wish it were June already so I can begin this endeavor.

In addition to working at the chocolate shop, I am taking two courses this semester, both not science intensive like last semester, which leaves me with time to wholeheartedly focus on ME. Just me. Not to say I am not still my usual caring, thoughtful self and purposely hurt others with my actions, but I am much more conscious of my needs as I journey through each day. 
I'm still training for my "11 in '11" (eleven half marathons in 2011), and also practicing a lot of yoga, which infinitely aids in my IT band issues. I've been doing lots of cooking and baking, devouring books and magazines, continuing to explore Boston with my friends and occasional family visitors.

My days are filled with so much goodness, my heart is truly overflowing with joy.

Last week, I turned 26. Although I am one to make a big deal of birthdays (although I love other people's), my dear friends Elizabeth (check out our Towne date) and Michelle insisted I must do something. So I said I wanted to eat cake and drink wine. So that is precisely what we did! Earlier that day I went to a terrific yoga class at Baptiste then got a pedicure at MiniLuxe, then came home to put the finishing touches on my birthday cake. 

Obviously, cake is the main reason that I was willing to celebrate the twenty-sixth anniversary of my birth. I've been eating ungodly amounts of chocolate lately, and mid-March always leads to thoughts of warm weather, so I found myself craving a lemon raspberry cake. I never made gluten-free cake from scratch  before, but I think I've found a system that works for me to adapt my favorite recipes. Below please find a terrific recipe which received rave reviews from even skeptics.

Gina's Lemon Raspberry Birthday Cake

Lemon Cake
2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoons lemon zest
1 vanilla bean, scraped 
2 teaspoon Cointreau  (note: 1 "nip" is enough for both the frosting and cake)
1/2 cup sour cream

Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1  1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Cointreau

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, guar gum, salt, and baking powder.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed. Lower the speed to medium, and add the eggs one by one, mixing until combined after each addition. Add the lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and Cointreau. Beat in the dry ingredients, and then beat in the sour cream until the batter is combined. 

Grease and line two 9″ cake pans and divide the batter between them evenly. Bake the cakes for 30-35 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned. While cakes are cooling, beat together all frosting ingredients in electric mixer until smooth. Once cakes are completely cooled, apply frosting liberally over the entire cake, including a layer between the two cakes. Top with candles, make a wish, blow out candles and eat with ice cream -- Happy birthday!