Entree


I’m fortunate enough to have a job where I get “earned time off”or ETO days, which for me means that I get an extra day off every other week.  Today was my ETO, and I was busy all day.  It wasn’t until after my son went to bed that I finally rested, so it barely felt like a day off.  Except of course that I got to spend the day with my little man.

My day started around 6:30 when my son woke up, at 7am I got out of bed and went downstairs to make breakfast, since I’d slept in an extra half an hour and Cole was happily playing in his bed, I made mini blueberry-pancakes for breakfast.  Yummy, Cole liked them too.

At naptime I made pumpkin butter; I wasn’t totally sure what to expect, but I feel like Cole’s getting bored of his food and pumpkin is a great source of fibre and vitamin A so I figured it was worth a shot.  It was so easy to make and at first I thought it tasted  little too much of honey but once it cooled down it was amazing.  I think I have found a new must-have item for my fridge.  It tastes a bit like pumpkin pie and is delicious on toast, crackers, yogurt.  Mmm.  Seriously, Mmmm.

For lunch, I decided to try Pasta Wee-One for my little guy, but I didn’t have any sun-dried tomatoes, so I added broccoli instead.  It didn’t go over so well, he likes all the ingredients separately, but the truth is that he’s been and continues to be, a little bit sick so I may have been pushing my luck giving him two new things at one meal, since I also gave him the pumpkin butter, which he seemed to like.

After lunch we went to Costco then it was naptime again; this time Imade baby fishsticks and lentil loaf, both of which are favourites of Cole.  No wonder I bought a rotisserie chicken for my dinner, I was pooped from cooking for Cole all day.

So today, I would like to share my gluten-free fishstick recipe; although it may seem a little time consumptive to dip your fish 3 times to coat it, I promise you, its worth it.  It keeps the fish from getting soggy when you bake it.  Feel free to add extra seasoning to the rice flour to mix things up.  I’d like to try smoked paprika and chipotle for myself, plain  salt and pepper, Italian or lemon pepper seasoning whatever your tastes.  You can also add Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs, but my Cole doesn’t tolerate dairy all that well, so I leave it out where I can.  Sorry I don’t have a picture of the cooked fishsticks – Cole’s always chomping at the bit when they come out of the toaster oven.

Gluten-Free Baby fishsticks

Baby Fish Sticks

Ingredients:

  • 2 pieces Cod Fillet, boneless
  • 3/4 cup Rice Flour (sweet rice flour will also work)
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp (Rice) Milk
  • 3/4 cup Gluten-Free breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. Cut fish into strips, I make mine about 10cm thick.
  2. Setup 3 bowls, in the first pour the rice flour (you could also add seasoning, salt, pepper, italian etc) , in the second bowl whisk together egg yolk and rice milk, in the third place the breadcrumbs.
  3. Dip fish in rice flour, shake off excess.
  4. Dip coated fish in egg mixture.
  5. Dip fish in breadcrumbs.
  6. Place the fish on a tray sprayed with non-stick spray.
  7. Freeze fish overnight, then store in a ziploc until ready to use.
  8. On eating day, bake fish from frozen in (toaster) oven at 375F for 10-12 minutes, flipping once, fish should flake a little bit when you bend your fishstick.
  9. Allow to cool slightly and serve.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been awaiting an opportunity to try a number of recipes from Living Without Magazine.  I have had fresh pasta exactly twice since going Gluten-Free and both were delicious.  First, I had homemade corn pasta at Cafe DeVille in Edmonton, AB and second I had homemade rice pasta at Pagliacci’s in Victoria, BC ever since then, I have wanted to try and make my own.

I followed the instructions for Gluten-Free Handmade Pasta exactly as they are listed, using the flax seed egg replacement (so that I could share with my little man who doesn’t eat egg whites yet), however I didn’t have the patience to go over to my parents to borrow their pasta maker.  Instead, after reading a bunch of ravioli recipes, I decided to divide the dough and roll it out as thin as possible using a rolling pin between pieces of saran wrap.  This worked reasonably well, but I need a LOT of extra cornstarch to ensure the dough didn’t stick and to be able to transfer it to parchment paper.

I rolled each piece into an elongated rectangle and then placed 3-4 teaspoons of filling (depending how well I rolled the pasta) in a row along the pasta sheet, dabbed watered down egg yolk around each dollop of filling and then folded the dough over, gently pressing the dough together.  I did not use a fork or anything fancy to mark the edges, I just used my fingertips and the dough stayed together well through the cooking process.

The end result was delicious, if a bit chewy, however I’m pretty sure that if I had rolled my pasta thinner using a pasta machine that chewiness may not have been an issue.  I’m also positive that the ravioli was delicious and as good as I could have hoped for considering that it was my first attempt EVER to make pasta.  I did have to cook the pasta for a good 15 minutes, flipping the ravioli a few times, which is considerably longer than I expected based on the recipe citing the noodles would cook within a few minutes.

All in all, a good recipe and a delicious meal…and my little boy liked it too!!  Good luck making pasta, I hope yours also turns out great.

As for filling, I decided to make my own up, here’s what I used:

  • 1/2 pound lean ground turkey
  • ~3 oz of frozen chopped spinach (defrosted)
  • ~1/4 onion diced fine
  • 3/4 of a 500g package of feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp goat cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Brown the turkey over medium heat, until no longer pink.
  2. Add onion and chopped spinach, and ook until the onions have softened and the turkey is fully cooked.
  3. Remove meat mixture from heat and stir in the cheeses (I had goat cheese on hand and it really helped hold everything together, you could also add one egg yolk.)
  4. Use to fill your homemade ravioli and enjoy!!

ps. I also used the leftover filling on a pizza!! Yum yum!

My little man had his first fever and cold/flu this weekend and its been lurking for a while, so I’ve been busy.  I have some recipes I’m hoping to post soon, but for now I just wanted to talk a little bit about eating out.

When I first went gluten-free I didn’t eat anywhere and I didn’t eat anything.  But slowly that has evolved.  I now have certain meals that I eat at certain restaurants (including the mall food fair) that I know satisfy my hunger and cravings without wrecking havoc on my body.

I first visited Cravings when I still ate gluten and was impressed; the restaurant (which used to be a sandwich deli in another lifetime) had a great atmosphere, helpful servers and delicious food.  Nestled in among old apartment buildings it seemed a rare find.

I went back for my 27th birthday, I was now gluten-free, but noticed that their website mentioned that they were able to accomodate Celiac’s.  When I made the reservation I indicated that I would like to take advantage of their gluten-free options.  When we arrived I was a little dissapointed that no one seemed to know what I was talking about when I mentioned that I had requested gluten-free items, but the situation was quickly remedied.  A woman, I assume was a manager or owner, came to the table and walked me through the menu; she let me know which items were naturally gluten-free and which items could be made gluten-free.  I enjoyed the West Coast Bouillabaisse (“A selection of West coast seafood (salmon, sole, halibut, ma hi ma hi, prawns, shrimps, scallops, and mussel) cooked in a tomato broth flavoured with saffron”) and it was absolutely delicious.

My husband and I went back again this September for our 3rd Wedding Anniversary; our first “date night” since the arrival of our son.  This time when I arrived and asked about gluten-free menu items the server quickly rushed off and brought me back a “Celiac Menu”.  There was an entire page of options and they all sounded delicious; having a specific menu gave me some confidence that the food would not be contaminated that the chefs knew what they were doing.

This time I enjoyed the Roasted Squash Salad (“Roasted squash served warm with spinach leaves, carmalized pecans, and crumbled Feta, drizzled with honey vinaigrette and balsamic reduction”) and rice pasta pesto (rice pasta “and chicken breast strips tossed in fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan”).  The only thing that could have made it better was fresh pasta, but despite being dried pasta it still tasted WAY better than pasta I make at home.  We practically rolled out of the restaurant and into the movie theatre.

All is all, Cravings is a great gem of a restaurant that was able to provide a menu of delicious gluten-free options, a warm atmosphere and helpful service.  We went for an early dinner around 5pm, but by around 6 it was starting to get busy, so you may want to make reservations if you aren’t normally in bed by 9:30pm like I am.

As I child I though Mabo Tofu was a Japanese dish, why, I’m not exactly sure.  I knew I could get it at Chinese Restaurants, but the sauce you could buy in the stores to make it at home always seemed to look Japanese to me.  Once I went gluten-free, I really wanted this slightly spicy, always delicious, tofu and pork dish.  Of course every bottle and package of sauce that I read contained soya sauce and of course wheat, so I found myself on a mission to find a recipe that I could adapt myself.

During my online searches, I found oodles of recipes, all slightly different AND I discovered that Mabo (or Mapo) tofu is actually a Szechuan dish; given the spice this really is not all that surprising.  I eventually found 2 recipes (about.com and Nook & Pantry) that seemed reasonable and feasible for me to make, and then I worked with both of them to make a recipe that I really enjoy.  I’ve made this quite a few times and tweaked the ingredients each time; I think I finally have it just right, at least for my liking  – feel free to adapt it to your tastes.

Mabo Tofu

This recipe does however call for some ingredients that will require an Asian grocery store and/or a little searching.  First it requires dried and salted black beans and Chili Bean Paste (my research indicated that Broad Bean Chili Bean Paste is the most authentic, but use what you can find); make sure you read the bottles, most of them have soy and wheat.  I have included an ingredient picture for this recipe to help you find these ingredients.

Mabo ingredients

Gluten-Free Mabo Tofu

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch (cornstarch would be ok)
  • 3.5 Tbsp gluten-free Tamari

Ingredients:

  • ~2Tbsp vegetable oil
  • splash of sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, chopped, white and green sections seperated
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tsp salted, dried black beans
  • 1 heaping Tbsp Chili Bean Paste (adapt to your tastes as necessary)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 package Medium Firm tofu cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 2 Tbsp gluten-free Tamari
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together and set aside for about 20 minutes.
  • Heat oils in a med-high wok, once hot at the white sections of the green onion and the ginger and saute until fragrant.
  • Add the marinated pork to the oil and cook until brown; you will need to use the back of a spoon to push the pork apart into pieces or you will end up with one big lump of ground pork.
  • Stir salt into the meat and allow flavours to mix, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the salted black beans  and use the back of a spoon to mash them slightly to release the flavours and blend with the meat.
  • Add the Chili Paste and mix into the meat.
  • Add the stock, tofu, remaining green onion, garlic and sugar.  Mix well and continue to cook until tofu has softened and taken on the colours of the sauce.  Approximately 5-7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile mix the warm water, GF Tamari and cornstarch together (add the cornstarch last).
  • Once the tofu looks ready to eat, add the cornstarch mixture, stir together gently and remove from heat.  This will thicken your sauce and bring everything together (this step is optional).
  • Serve over steaming white rice and enjoy!

Tofu on Foodista

When I first went Gluten-Free I had been feeling sick for so long that I gave up everything.  Anything that was on a list that said it MAY contain gluten I avoided.  This included things like maltodextrin (which is in everything), however I eventually learned that like many other ingredients, it is usually derived from corn and will be labeled accordingly if it is made from wheat.

Since that time, I have started feeling better and find that I am a little more adventurous with my eating.  I certainly don’t go out and eat a croissant, bagel or something equally delicious (though sometimes I really want to), but I do occasionally try something new at a restaurant where I have dishes I know are safe to eat, or I might try something with an ingredient that may be questionable such as worchestire sauce or malt extract.

I have a friend who is Celiac and I remember being so surprised when she showed me her secret stash of Corn Pops in the cupboard at work exclaiming, “we can eat these!”  I was so excited, the next time I was at the grocery store, I scanned the box and was saddened to see that just like the rice krispies and corn flakes, the corn pops contained Barley Malt Extract.

As you likely know, Barley contains gluten and so does Barley Malt.  I had tried eating Corn Flakes while on a cruise in Italy (it seemed like a safe bet to nick a box off of the boat to take on the excursions) and though it didn’t give me a full blown attack of stomach pains and trips to the washroom, I didn’t feel good, so I knew better than to eat the Corn Pops (though I really wanted them).  Of course in time I would find my Panda Puffs, so really it all worked out.

If you, like myself find yourself reading boxes of things you know you probably can’t eat such as cornbread, corn shake & bake and teriyaki sauces, you’ve probably been suprised a few times by something you’re sure you’ve examined many times, yet this time you realized you might just be able to eat it.  That happened to me with the Corn Flake Crumbs; they contain “malt flavoring” but it doesn’t actually say malt extract.  I decided to chance it and try them out and FOR ME they seem to be a-ok.  I kind of assume that malt flavoring is artificial whereas extract is actually derived from barley, but in truth I have no idea, except that I seem to be able to eat the corn flake crumbs.  I don’t eat them too often (just to be safe) but every now and then they are a great treat, and my dear husband loves the occasional breaded chicken breast or the like.

PLEASE NOTE:  Since I have not been diagnosed as Celiac, I believe myself to be gluten-intolerant (granted I was given the Celiac test after being Gluten-Free for a year, so really it was garbage) so I feel safe experimenting in this fashion.  I am no doctor, but I know that for true Celiac’s cheating (even without symptoms) can be very hard on the body and lead to increased chances of bowel cancer, so please make your own educated decisions about your eating.

While shopping yesterday I found unbreaded turkey cutlets (a rarity) and was instantly reminded of the pork cutlets my Mom used to feed me as a kid.  Brown and crispy, dipped in honey mustard, I was salivating in the store.  Remembering the Corn Flake Crumbs in my cupboard, I hoped I could make a reasonable facsimile and I was more than impressed with the results.  Unfortunately, my husband was also excited to have breaded meat and we ate it all before we had a chance to take a photo – hopefully I will find these unbreaded cutlets again so that we can eat them and I can show you a picture.  They browned, crisped and crunched exactly the way I remember.

Gluten-Free “Breaded” Cutlets

Ingredients:

  • 2 unbreaded cutlets (turkey, chicken, pork, veal…whatever suits your fancy)
  • 1/2 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3/4 cup Corn Flake Crumbs (or GF Corn Flakes pulsed in a food processor)
  • 2-3 Tbsp of grapeseed (or vegetable) oil

Directions:

  • Mix rice flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl or plastic bag; coat cutlets and allow to rest on a plate for about 5 minutes.
  • Dip floured cutlets into egg then immediately coat with Corn Flake Crumbs.
  • Allow cutlets to rest for another 5-10 minutes if possible, this will allow the coating to really adhere together.
  • Heat oil in non-stick frying pan over med-high heat, and cook cutlet until crispy and golden before flipping (~8 minutes).  Cook second side ~5 minutes.
  • Cutlet should be crispy and golden on both side and middle should be cooked throughout with no traces of pink.
  • I like to enjoy this “breaded” goodness with honey mustard.  I usually mix mayo, mustard and honey to make a sauce, but this time I just used French’s Honey Mustard and it was great.

As you may know, one of my favourite Gluten-Free treats, is pepperoni pizza. I’ve made it time and time again, never tiring of the simple toppings – until recently.

Surprisingly, I found myself in need of vegetables, the rich mingling tastes of artichokes and carmelized onions and I l knew that Pizza would be my base. I had a landlord when I was in University and occasionally she would invite me upstairs to have homemade pizza – this was literally the best pizza I have ever had. Her secret? ALWAYS sautee the vegetables first to lock in the flavour and prevent watering on your pizza.

Carmelized Onion, Mushroom and Artichoke Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 Gluten-Free Pizza Base, partially cooked
  • Gluten-Free Pizza sauce
  • ~ 2 cups of Grated Cheese (I like a mix of mozza and cheddar)
  • ~1.5 cups of mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • ~1/2 can of artichokes, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, cut lengthwise into strips
  • ~2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Oil for sauteeing
  • Fresh basil (optional)

Directions:

  • Using a small amount of oil, sautee the onions over medium until they become translucent (~ 5 min)
  • Sprinkle onions in brown sugar, and continue to sautee until they smell-sweet and have a lovely caramel colour (~10-12 minutes) – place in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Sautee mushrooms in a small amount of oil over medium heat, until they have watered and shrunk in size – place in a small bowl and set aside.
  • If using fresh basil, chop finely and mix into the pizza sauce for extra flavour.
  • If you have timed things right, take your pizza base out of the oven, spread with pizza sauce, spread onions evenly over the pizza, top with sauteed mushrooms, artichokes and then cheese.
  • Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Allow pizza to cool slightly before cutting, and enjoy!!

I admit it – Summer is kicking my ass.  I haven’t posted in quite some time, but of course that doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating.  My sister got me a great cookbook (I can’t remember the name right now) for my birthday, that had the best pancakes I have eaten since going Gluten-Free.  The icing on the cake?  They were easy to make, they didn’t require any time for the batter to settle, and since it’s summer they were absolutely delicious with blueberries in the batter!!

I’ve made Gluten-Free Egg Bread a few times, and am continually impressed by the moist tenderness of this bread.  Although it is a little dense and definitely eggie, it makes great sandwiches, not to mention fabulous French Toast.  I made a few tweaks to the recipe the last time I made it, which I think were improvements, but I’ll wait until I have adapted it exactly to my tastes and then I can share all the changes at once.

As an individual of half-Asian descent, a lack of Oyster Sauce in my diet has made a lot of my favourite dishes impossible to re-create.  Of course I have wheat-free Tamari, but there are some recipes that just require some good old fashioned oyster sauce.  In truth, I swear I have read bottle after bottle of Oyster sauce in all the stores, every time hoping that maybe I had managed to miss the one Gluten-Free bottle in the mix all the previous times.  Of course, I continued to be dissapointed, time after time…until last week.  Upon the shelves of Wal-Mart (I’ve also found it at T&T Supermarket), I discovered Choy Sun Oyster Sauce by Lee Kum Kee, a little further investigation on the Lee Kum Kee Website and I also discovered that this particular Oyster Sauce is also MSG-Free!!

Of course I had my hesitations about a gluten-free oyster sauce, but I purchased it and promptly put it to the test.  Now there are many dishes I love, that require oyster sauce such as hot pot and steamed pork, but I wanted to test this oyster sauce, so I made some Gai Lan and spread some oyster sauce on top in the traditional fashion. OMG I thought I died and went to heaven.  Oyster Sauce is back and that means, Chinese Cooking is back.  I am currently thinking about wontons (which were fully not worth contemplation without oyster sauce) I think I’ll try sheets of rice noodles, cut into squares as won-ton wrappers.

To add to my smorgasbord of deliciousness, I went to a wedding for a close friend last weekend, and though I was ecstatic to see roast beef for dinner, I was instantly saddened to see the other meat dishes were a chicken with a wild mushroom sauce and a white fish and shrimp with a light herb and garlic sauce, both of which I assumed were thickened with flour.  Imagine my excitement when one of the cooks walked by and assured me that these dishes were thickened ONLY with cornstarch.  They were delicious and I felt so incredibly spoiled!  Unfortunately, this tidbit of information may have been untrue, or perhaps there was gluten in the salad dressing, flan, mousse or something else that I ate, but I was so disappointed the next day when I realized I had certainly eaten something contaminated.  But those are the chances we take sometimes, and in truth I take such chances so rarely, that this particular time, I would almost say it was worth it.

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