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!