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Entries in gluten-free (7)

Thursday
Oct212010

milk + dark chocolate pots de crème with grand marnier candied clementines

I don't believe in pudding.

I believe it exists, but I don't subscribe to it. I can't support it.

I know this makes many people hate me. Perhaps just a strong dislike. Maybe indifference.

But the siren's call of a bowl of jiggly, wiggly pudding is lost on me. It lacks intention.

It just sits there, slumping into a container, full of apathy toward life and its role in the world. Pudding is an afterthought, even to itself. And so the silky goodness that many of you will cite as pudding's best attribute wears off with the third bite, and you realize that this pudding is dragging you down. Pudding is in a co-dependent relationship with you. Time to set boundaries and tell pudding to get its act together, to live a life of purpose.

Have a backbone, pud.

But.

Then there are pots de crème. Pudding’s cool cousin. I call it pudding with integrity. Pots de crème have seen the world, know its pleasures, and aren't afraid to share them with you. They get it. And they want you to get it, too.


Dense, intense, cool, and smoother than it needs to be. We fell in love with pots de creme at Elysian Cafe in Hoboken, NJ. Dark-ish chocolate with Grand Marnier infused candied orange slices. You must go and order it. Now.




It is the singular dish we miss the most since we moved from Hoboken, and Karen and I set out to replicate it. This is also dead simple to make. Heat some milk. Chop some chocolate. You do want a fine mesh strainer for this if you want a really smooth consistancy, but your life will be fine if you don’t. Don’t stress.

First we tried Karen DeMasco’s Extra-Bittersweet Chocolate Pots de Crème from the New York Times. Let's take a moment and remember that Chef DeMasco is at the Craft family of restos. And she knows what she's doing.

Her Pots de Crème were fantastic, but the intensity was more, uh, intense than what we wanted. We knew milk chocolate was all wrong for this. Then Karen had the brilliant idea of doing 50/50 dark and milk chocolate. Perfect balance. 2 oz dark and 2 oz milk chocolate.

Then on to the clementine. This candying process is so incredibly simple. Don’t get scared by the amount of sugar required...most of it is staying in the pan and not going into the clementine. I like this recipe more than others because of the “raw” sugar included. It adds a depth of molasses-y flavor that pure granulated just can’t match.

Any type of orange will be fine. And you really do want these, even if you leave out the booze. Just pick a thin-skinned clementine or orange,and you’re good to go. 


Scared of this? Then ask yourself if you can measure water and sugar. Yes, yes, you can. Can you slice a clementine? Yep. Can you trust yourself not to stir the bubbling cauldron of sugar so as not to make it boil over and destroy your hopes and dreams? Only you know the answer to that one.

Here’s the recipe from myrecipes.com. We skipped dipping them in chocolate. All we did was substitute in 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier for 1/2 cup of water (resulting in 1 c of water and 1/2 cup of Grand Marnier). You need a candy thermometer. Get a cheapo one from the grocery store if you don’t have one. Worth it.



Make extra clementines. You will eat them off the plate while they dry. Make sure you have enough left for the pots de crème. And say goodbye to pudding. You deserve better.

Recipes | Milk + Dark Chocolate Pots de Crème with Grand Marnier Candied Clementines

Thursday
Aug052010

grilled chicken cobb salad with balsamic-mustard vinaigrette and chipotle buttermilk dressing (via Bobby Flay)

Our neighbors, Kevin and Tara, are constantly giving us things. A swing set for the kids, dinosaurs, a whole bag of Cars toys (right in the middle of our son’s obsession with the movie), clothes for all the kids, learning laptops, two giant toddler car seats that were used maybe twice, and a giant Matchbox car carnival thing. It has a Ferris wheel. Awesome.


The most recent thing they gave us? Their Weber grill. Exactly like the one I had just purchased and assembled. When I told Kevin I got a new grill, he asked if I wanted his instead. He had upgraded to The Big Green Egg, and his Weber was sitting unused. Lonely. My new, unused Weber went right back in the box.


How did we get so lucky to have such nice neighbors? It’s best not to question it, I guess. We’ll just keep taking them cakes and cookies to say thanks.


I didn’t even have to ask Karen what she wanted me to make first on the grill. I mean, I did ask, of course. Never assume. But I guessed right. This incredible grilled chicken cobb salad from Bobby Flay. It explodes with flavor. Barbecue sauce. Two dressings: one balsamic, one chipotle buttermilk.Slow-grilled onions, a lot of blue cheese, hardboiled eggs (or not). For this one, we get out our giant plates (nearly platters) and heap on the goodness.
 

Shortcuts:

  • The Mesa BBQ sauce is outstanding and freezes perfectly, but your favorite bottled sauce does well in a pinch. We like Trader Joe’s sauce, for what it’s worth.
  • There are some not bad refrigerated buttermilk chipotle ranch dressings in the supermarket. But they aren’t great. Try to make your own, because it tastes better.
  • We drastically cut the oil in the balsamic dressing and we never miss it. 
  • You could use Vidalia instead of red onions throughout. You need a sweet pungent onion. I like the bite of red, but whatever makes you happy.
  • The fresh avocado here is amazing, but sometimes the store doesn’t anticipate my last-minute salad cravings. You could swap in a chunky guacamole here. We like Wholly Guacamole brand.
  • Bacon will not hurt this salad, but you don’t need it. I will not judge you.

This is a salad we crave, and my guess is you will, too. Perfect for the weekend. Or anytime you get a brand new (used) grill.


recipe | grilled chicken cobb salad with balsamic-mustard vinaigrette and chipotle buttermilk dressing (via Bobby Flay)


mesa bbq sauce

  • find it here on foodnetwork.com

balsamic-mustard vinaigrette

  • 6 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil (we use 1/4 cup because of all the fat in the avocado and cheese)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine the vinegar, mustard, onion, and sugar in a blender or food processor and let it spin. With the motor running, slowly add the oil. Season with salt and pepper. 


chipotle buttermilk dressing

  • 1/4 cup sour cream (reduced fat works)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle purée 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine everything in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. 


salad

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 1/4 cups Mesa bbq sauce 
  • 2 large red onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Olive oil for brushing the onions
  • 8 cups mixed greens, washed and dried
  • 8 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
  • 4 avocados, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces creamy blue cheese, crumbled
  • Chipotle Buttermilk Dressing
  • Balsamic-Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium high.

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and brush with mesa barbecue sauce. Grill, basting continuously with barbecue sauce, until golden brown and cooked through, 6 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes.


Brush the onion slices with olive oil and grill until golden brown and slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes on each side (or longer if you like some char, which I do). In a large bowl, lightly toss the greens with the balsamic-mustard Vinaigrette and place on a large platter. Cut the chicken breasts on the bias into 1/2-inch slices. 


Arrange the chicken in the center of the platter, resting on the greens. Arrange the tomatoes, eggs, onion slices, and avocado slices around the chicken. Sprinkle with the crumbled blue cheese and drizzle with the chipotle buttermilk dressing.

Wednesday
May192010

vignole | spring vegetable stew (via Jamie Oliver)

This dish tastes like you're shoveling Spring down your throat. In a good way.

We don't eat nearly enough vegetables. We like them and all. We want to eat more. We have the best of intentions. We know we should. 

But we don't.

So who else but Jamie Oliver and his crusade to get America to eat more healthful food could get us away from our precious carbs for one meal?

His stew takes whatever glorious green veggies you can find and like, mixes them together with herbs, garlic, and pancetta (you can leave it out if you prefer), and cooks it just long enough for them to start some flavor party.

This stew of vegetables is the most versatile dish we've made in a long time. We served it in a bowl topped with a drizzle of olive oil and some Parmesan shavings. The next night, we used it as a sauce for pasta. And the next night, it held its own against a grilled hanger steak.

We mixed and matched green veggies. Two important changes we made to the 
  • The recipe calls for fresh fava beans. We couldn't find any at our two local fancy markets, so we substituted frozen shelled edamame. I'm sure it would taste different with favas, but I don't know that it would be better. Or cheaper.
  • I wasn't in the mood to clean artichokes. I used frozen artichoke hearts. I know this is a moral failing. Fresh really would have been better. We all survived. And it was still good.

So next time you're at the grocery, and you know you want to make something good for you, go green. This recipe has room for it.

vignole | spring vegetable stew (adapted from Jamie Oliver)

  • 10 oz. frozen artichokes
  • kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 oz. edamame
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 regular leek, white and light green parts, cut into 3 inch lengths, washed
  • 1/2 pound spinach, picked and washed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 glove of garlic, thinly sliced or finely chopped
  • 1.5 c. chicken stock
  • 12 oz. fresh peas (oh, umm, we used frozen baby peas)
  • 4 thick slices of prosciutto (or use a favorite ham or bacon)
  • a small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
  • a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
Boil a pot of salted water. Blanch the leeks for 3-4 minutes. Add the asparagus for 2 minutes. Remove and add in the spinach for a minute. Remove and add the edamame for a minute or so. Fish them all out. You're done with the water, so you can dump the edamame right into a colander in the sink. These blanched veggies are going to hang out for a while.

Heat a very large sauce pan (might want to use a Dutch oven-sized pot) over medium. Add a bit of olive oil and then the onion. Cook slowly for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Crank up the heat. Add the chicken stock and the peas and bring to a boil. Lay the prosciutto over the top and reduce the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes or so. You're making the blanket of pork goodness seep into the green.

Meanwhile, tear the leeks into strips. They don't need to be perfect. Roughly chop the spinach.

Remove the prosciutto and place on a cutting board. Let it cool for a while.

Add the leek strips, the edamame, asparagus, spinach, and artichokes into the peas. Bring back to a simmer, letting them slowly cook for about 10 minutes.

Chop the herbs finely. Chop the prosciutto into bite-size pieces. Add them into the stew.

Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add a swirl or two of olive oil. Prepare to taste Spring.

Monday
Apr262010

falafel burgers with harissa yogurt

I think I stopped feeling like a tourist in NYC when our favorite falafel place when out of business. The loss of hot chickpeas will do that to you.

Karen found the shop when she started working in Midtown East. Then I started working at the same place. Not the falafel place (the would've been awesome)...the same company where Karen worked. My second day there, she insisted we get falafel for lunch. The size of these things was monstrous, like a burrito from Chipotle, shoved full of crispy hot chickpea patties and just enough harissa to make it impossible to stop eating. The place closed down a couple of months later, took a year off, and opened across the street. Then
Crisp (so good) opened up a few doors down and the falafel place closed for good within days. It's the circle of life in the NYC cheap eats scene.

This recipe from Esquire reminds me of the mythological falafel of 3rd Avenue. It uses soaked, uncooked beans which helps it avoid the dreaded mushy center (what's the point? Just eat hummus if you want that). The outside gets ridiculously crispy, almost inappropriately so. And the harissa-spiked Greek yogurt burns while it soothes with lemon, orange, and lime zest. 


For our gluten-free friends, we subbed in soy flour in place of the wheat flour, just to make sure it worked. It worked quite well, and we've noted it in the recipe. Get yourself your favorite g-free bread, and you're set. 


Note - Start soaking the night before you want to serve this. If you forget (like we did), you can start soaking early in the morning for dinner. 

Another note - D
ried fava beans aren't easy to find. I found a bag at the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle, but our local WF didn't have them. They provide a nice bright green flavor, but feel free to go all chickpeas. Plus, chickpeas are cheaper.

falafel burgers with harissa yogurt
 from Dominique Crenn
esquire, november 2009 
(If they had this posted online, we'd link you right to the recipe. But they don't. That's a shame.)

falafel
 
  • 1/2 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 cup fava beans (or substitute chickpeas for a total of 1.5 cups)
  • 1 minced onion
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch chopped parsley
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground coriander
  • 1 t paprika
  • 2 t chopped mint
  • 2 t chopped basil
  • 3 T flour (wheat, chickpea, or soy)
  • 1 t Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying
Beginning the night before, cover the beans in water. The beans will expand, so cover with an extra two inches of water. No need to refrigerate.

The next day, Drain the beans and throw them into a food processor. Chop finely. Add in the remaining ingredients (not the oil) and give it a spin.



Form the mixture into burger patties, or go with a smaller size to maximize the crisped edges (that's why you're eating these, right?).

Now, make the yogurt. 



harissa yogurt
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 1.5 T Harissa (could be hard to find. You really need it, so you could always make your own).
  • 1/2 t lime zest (we didn't have any limes, so we used more of the orange and lemon)
  • 1/2 t orange zest
  • 1/2 t lemon zest
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
Dump all ingredients in a bowl. Stir. Nice work, you're done. 

fry the patties

Heat the vegetable oil over medium high. When you get a strong sizzle from a sacrificial bit of falafel, fry the patties on all sides until golden. 

Throw them on to a bread product of your choice (Karen demands
Martin's potato rolls from her hometown). Top with harissa yogurt. And something green and leafy.

You could also serve this over hummus. Or eat them right after you've let them cool for a second. It'll burn, but so worth it.


Pretty close to conjuring the ghost of falafels past.

Tuesday
Apr202010

peanut butter crispy bars

If I had to be honest why I love this recipe, it's because hot sugar scares me.

Most cooking involves a minimum level of danger - open flames, knives that are duller than they should be (making it easier to cut yourself), forgetting I just chopped a habanero and touching my eye.

But hot sugar is kind of terrifying. I had a caramel sauce that foamed up and poured over the pan, burning my hand in the process. That super-saturated sugar water isn't forgiving to skin. 

But much like the Shetland pony that my brothers and I had growing up, which would run full gallop with us riding her without a saddle, only to stop on a dime and send us flying over her head...well, you can't let a few minor disasters in the kitchen stop you from trying to get it right.

So, get the pony ready, 'cuz we're going for a wild ride. It's another dessert from the Baked cookbook (did you get your copy yet?) - essentially a perfect peanut butter cup set on top of a sweet and crunchy foundation of crispy rice cereal. It's going to make you happy. And there's just a little bit of hot sugar involved. You'll be ok.

recipe | peanut butter crispy bars, from the Baked cookbook (buy. it. now.)

For the crispy crust 
1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer
5 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy brand)
For the chocolate icing
3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter


Make the crispy crust
Lightly coat an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. 

Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.


Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan. It will burn easily if you do, and you don't want that) and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F. It took me longer than I expected. Be patient.


Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then pour it into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.


Make the milk chocolate peanut butter layer
In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refridgerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.


Make the chocolate top
In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread (actually, I found it easier to just roll it around until it coated smoothly, avoiding the risk of picking up any of the peanut butter layer with it) into an even layer. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the topping hardens.


Cut into nine-ish squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to four days. But you will want to eat them all at once. Just make another batch tomorrow. No one will know.