Monthly Archives: August 2009

Gluten-Free Peach Pear Crisp

pear peach crisp 017

 Remember all of those pears I acquired? Well, I still had quite a few left after the jam-making session. I also happened to have a few Texas peaches that were past their prime. (Have you ever had a Texas peach? They don’t compare to the California peaches I find in the groceries, which are usually hard as rocks, somewhat mealy, and not nearly as fragrant. Texas peaches are so juicy that one bite will cause drips of juice to run down your chin, and their scent is so alluring. I’m sure California peaches taste this good in California, but here, I’ll take the fresh, local peach over a cold-storage peach any day.) I figured, what better way to use up some of this fresh produce than to try my hand at a fruit crisp.

Since going gluten-free, I’ve tried to bake several crisps. I must not have nailed down my ratios of baking mix to butter in past attempts, however, as the “crisp” just wasn’t, well…crisp. This version was inspired by an apple crisp created by Karina over at Gluten-Free Goddess. Her version was vegan (mine was not), and of course, used apples. I took cues from her ratios, however, and much to my delight, a happy, warm, inviting peach-pear crisp was born.

I have to tell you, I love fruit-based desserts. Crisps, crumbles, cobblers, pies…when done well, they are such a comforting, delicious, amazing creation. Apparently I was so happy with this version, that I ate nearly half. Half! Let’s not even consider how many calories that must have been. My rationalization? There was fruit in it, so it has to be healthy. And let’s not get into the discussion of the ice cream I served alongside it.

You can, of course, substitute other fruits for the peaches and pears. If you do, however, you may need to adjust your sugar levels accordingly.

 

For the filling:

4 small pears, such as Bartlett, peeled and sliced

2 peaches, peeled and sliced

1 ½ T dark brown sugar

¼ t cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg

Pinch salt

For the crisp:

¾ c dark brown sugar

¾ c Pamela’s GF baking and pancake mix (or your favorite GF baking mix)

1 t ground cinnamon

2 T slivered almonds

4 T butter or shortening

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a pie plate; set aside. In a medium bowl, toss the pears and peaches with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, gluten-free baking mix, cinnamon, and almonds. Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes, and with your fingers, mix together until it forms coarse crumbs.

Add the fruit filling to the prepared pie plate, and top with crisp topping. Bake in oven for 35-45 minutes or until fruit is tender and crumble is golden brown.

Cool a bit on a wire rack. Serves 4.

26 Comments

Filed under Baked goods, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

Spiced Pear Jam

pear jamWhen life gives you 12 lbs of pears, what do you do?

I made jam.

Well, actually, I only used 3-4 lbs of the pears to make the jam. The rest were eaten out of hand, baked in a pear-peach crisp (which I’ll share with you soon – I’ve finally nailed down a good gluten-free version!), or peeled and sliced, and placed in the freezer for the future. I’m happy to know that I have delicious fruit available when winter comes. Definitely will be missing the bounty of summer produce come December.

Why so many pears? Well, in my frequent visits to the farmer’s market in McKinney, I have become acquainted with the farmer that owns Good Earth Organic Farm in nearby Celeste, Texas. (We’ve most recently been in discussions about starting a CSA, which I am ecstatic about!) He has regularly brought bushels of pears to the market, as well as braids of garlic, fresh sweet yellow onions, okra, various peppers, and his winter squashes are just starting to arrive. I was eyeing his pears, and we discussed that he could make a deal on a larger volume. I agreed to buy a peck of pears, and happily toted my goodies home. I allowed the pears to sit out for a few days to ripen.

Once they were ripe, I knew I had to process them. Being a bit of a newbie to canning (I’ve canned hot peppers before, but it was 7-8 years ago, and am a complete newbie to jams), I carefully had to read the instructions…twice…to be sure I knew what steps to take. Once I got the hang of it, though, it was relatively simple – prepare jam, simmer (sterilize) canning jars and lids, fill jars, and process in hot water bath. Simple!

How was the jam? I’ll admit, it was a teensy bit thinner than store-bought jams, but after spreading it on a bit of (gluten-free) toast, I didn’t find this to be an issue. After all, most jams I’ve purchased were difficult to spread. This jam was much easier. And the cinnamon and allspice didn’t overwhelm the pear flavors, they complimented them quite well. I just might have to indulge in a regular ritual of jam-on-toast!

Spiced Pear Jam, yields 8 8-ounce jars

4 cups prepared pears (about 3-4 lbs pears, peeled, sliced, and processed in food processor until chunky)

Juice and zest from 2 large lemons

5 cups sugar

1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 t allspice

1 t butter

1 3-ounce pouch pectin, such as Sure Jell

pears should be of a chunky consistency once out of food processor

pears should be of a chunky consistency once out of food processor

Bring water in your canner to a boil and keep at a simmer. Bring another pot of water large enough to hold your canning jars and lids to a boil, and reduce to a simmer, and place your jars and lids in the water and hold them there until ready to fill.

Place the prepared pears, lemon juice and zest, sugar, spices, and butter into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Add pectin and stir constantly while at a boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, and skim off the foam that has risen to the top.

Fill jars with jam, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Place the sealer lids on, and tighten the threaded lid. Place each jar in the canner, and make sure there is enough boiling-hot water to cover the jars by 2 inches or so. Boil for 10 minutes, and then remove from canner and transfer to a towel and allow to cool for 6-8 hours. Your sealer lids should have all popped. (You can test by pressing your finger in the center of the lid, if it doesn’t wobble up and down, you’re good. If it does, you will need to refrigerate the jar, or you can try to reprocess with a new sealer lid if you prefer.) Congratulations, you have made jam!

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free

Kids in the Kitchen: Lasagna, Two Ways

Gluten-Free Lasagna
Gluten-Free Lasagna

lasagna bakedWhen Matt decided he wanted to make lasagna for his turn in the kitchen, I happily agreed. I love lasagna. I knew that gluten-free lasagna noodles existed, so I figured this would be a wonderful dish for the family. I started to make a grocery list, and went shopping.

Only to find out that my “regular” grocery stops (SuperTarget and Sprouts) did not carry gluten-free lasagna noodles. Gluten-free shells, spaghetti, linguine? Yes. Lasagna? Nope. So I begrudgingly purchased regular lasagna noodles, and accepted that I wouldn’t be eating lasagna that night.

But as today drew closer, I didn’t accept it. (Why should I be unable to enjoy kids’ creations?) And although I knew another grocery, such as Whole Foods, would possibly carry the pasta, a busy week kept me from making that extra trip. I had to come up with a way to make a “psuedo-lasagna” that would satisfy me, sans gluten-free noodles. Suddenly I remembered that my brother (also gluten-intolerant) insisted that corn tortillas made a great substitute for lasagna noodles. Since corn tortillas are always in our house, I figured, why not?

And so it began. When Matt and I were preparing our mise en place, he was already imagining how wonderful the lasagna would taste. I have to admit, so was I. Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food, with its cheesy layers, and bursts of flavor from the tomato sauce and fillings. I’ll have to admit, as we browned the sausage and simmered the sauce, lots of “taste tests” occurred. (It’s actually amazing that there was anything left to put into the lasagna!) And the 45-minute wait while the lasagna baked seemed like an eternity.

lasagna 007

Once the lasagna emerged from the oven, though, it was well worth the wait. While not photo-friendly (the lasagnas did not cut into nice, neat squares for photographs…), the kids devoured most of the “gluten-y” lasagna (Matt had 3 helpings!), while I happily chowed down on my corn tortilla lasagna. It was nice and light, (I added a thinly sliced zucchini in my layers, just because I happened to have some that needed to be eaten) but plenty flavorful enough. So much, in fact, I felt satisfied. Who says living gluten-free has to mean deprivation? It doesn’t mean that I won’t try to look for gluten-free lasagna noodles in the future (I plan to ask Sprouts to see if they’ll start carrying it), but this version definitely hit the spot.

To make both gluten-free (2 servings) and regular lasagna (6 servings):

1 1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, crumbled

1/2 medium sweet onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 28-oz can crushed tomatoes

2 t dried oregano

1/2 t crushed red pepper

1/2 t anchovy paste

1 1/2 T fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

8 oz oven-ready lasagna noodles

3 corn tortillas, cut into 1 inch strips

1/2 lb ricotta cheese

4-5 c shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 c Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brown the sausage, crumbling with spatula. Add onions and garlic, and cook for 4-5 minutes or until soft.

Meanwhile, open crushed tomatoes and pour into a medium saucepan. Add oregano, crushed red pepper, and anchovy paste and stir. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil and stir, simmer for 2-3 minutes more.

For the regular lasagna, use a 13X9 glass baking dish. For the gluten-free lasagna, I used a 8-inch round baking dish. Pour a bit of sauce in the bottom of each dish and spread around. Add a single layer of noodles to the regular lasagna, and a layer of corn tortillas to the gluten-free lasagna. Top the gluten-free lasagna with a layer of zucchini. Top both with a layer of sausage, followed by a thin layer of ricotta. Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella on top. Pour another spoonful or two of sauce, and repeat with the noodles/tortillas, zucchini, sausage, and cheeses. Top with a bit more sauce, and sprinkle the remainder of mozzarella on top of both lasagnas. Sprinkle parmesan evenly on top of both as well.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, tented with foil, until the noodles on the regular lasagna are tender. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes, and serve.

16 Comments

Filed under Beef, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pasta

Summer Succotash

succotash grayAll summer, I have been striving to enjoy as much of the bounty of fresh, local produce available at farmer’s markets as possible. In fact, every time I visit, I get so excited, I come home with two to three tote bags full of produce. My purchases are usually near the limits of what we can consume in our household in a week. This means I need to invent ways to enjoy a large amount of produce. Succotash is a gorgeous way to enjoy a mix of summer’s best. Traditionally, it is made with lima beans and corn, and sometimes bell peppers and tomatoes. I’m not a fan of lima beans, but I love field peas, such as blackeyed peas, purple hull peas, and cream peas. I thought these would make a great substitute, and would add a wonderfully earthy flavor to the dish.

Also at the farmer’s market – succulent, sweet corn. This stuff was no comparison to that found in a normal grocery. Not one bit. This corn was so sweet, I was sneaking bites of it cut freshly from the cob. Along with some fresh sweet Hungarian wax peppers, plump, ripe tomatoes, and a serrano chile, this succotash was bursting with flavors of summer. Oh…not to mention the bacon. Because bacon makes everything better, right?

This is one of those “must-make” dishes for summer. I will definitely have to make it again before the farmer’s markets run dry, and I encourage you to do the same!

2 c fresh field peas, such as blackeyed peas (if you can’t find fresh, you can substitute frozen)

3 slices bacon, diced

1/2 onion, diced

1 Hungarian wax pepper, diced (can substitute a banana pepper or bell pepper, if you prefer)

1 serrano pepper, minced

3 ears of corn, kernels cut off

3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 T butter

2 T chopped fresh parsley

Bring salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and add peas. Lower to a simmer, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until peas are tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid.

Heat a deep, heavy skillet, such as cast-iron, to medium heat. Add bacon, and saute until starting to crisp, and add onions and peppers. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add peas, and saute another minute or two. Add corn, saute 1 minute, and add tomatoes. Saute for another 2 minutes, just until flavors start to come together. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add butter. Stir until butter melts. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

19 Comments

Filed under Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Side Dishes

Mediterranean-Style Pepper Salad

med pepper salad2When it came time to decide what to bring to this month’s Dallas SOL supper, almost immediately, I thought of this great recipe at Smitten Kitchen. I prepared this recipe twice before, and both times, it received rave reviews. A crunchy, colorful non-lettuce salad that only gets more flavorful the longer it sits? What could be better for a pot-luck style dinner? And besides, it bursts flavor: sweet peppers, briny olives, creamy cheese, and juicy tomatoes, all enveloped in a wonderful sweet-sour red wine vinaigrette. Yum.

Knowing that peppers were in abundance in the farmer’s markets right now, this would be an easy salad to modify using local, organic ingredients. I wasn’t able to find tri-color local bell peppers (only green), so in an effort to maintain the rainbow of colors, I substituted some gorgeous banana and sweet Hungarian wax peppers of various colors. They stood in beautifully. Also, I was not able to find a local feta cheese, as was called for in the recipe, but Mozzarella Company in Dallas makes some gorgeous mozzarella, which was thoroughly enjoyed as well. All in all, this was another wonderful success, inspired by Smitten Kitchen!

1/4 c red wine vinegar

1/4 c cold water

1 T kosher salt

2 t sugar

1/2 small red onion, diced

1 green bell pepper

3 yellow banana peppers

3 red and orange sweet Hungarian wax peppers

1 kirby cucumber

1/4 fresh mozzarella cheese

1/4 c pitted kalamata olives

1/2 c cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1/4 c olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Swish together the red wine vinegar, water, kosher salt, and sugar in a small bowl until salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the red onion and set aside. (this allows the red onion to pickle, softening its bite)

Meanwhile, core and seed your peppers, and chop them into 1/2 inch pieces. Chop the cucumber, cheese, olives, and tomatoes into similarly-sized pieces. Put the vegetables into a large bowl.

Drain the onions from the vinegar mixture, reserving the liquid. Add the onions to the other vegetables in the large bowl. Pour a quarter-cup of the vinegar mixture over the salad, and then drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss evenly, and taste to ensure seasoning is correct. Serve immediately, or allow to sit in refrigerator for a few hours.

Serves 6-8.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Salads, Vegetarian

Kids in the Kitchen: Smoked Pork Ribs

brandan bbq ribs 034

Ever since the Texas BBQ “Extravaganza”, Brandan has desperately wanted to make ribs for his turn in the kitchen. Can’t say I blame him. Having the opportunity to play with fire and enjoy a tasty, carnivorous barbecued meal? Sounds like a great time to me!

However, when he made this decision, I forgot to ask him what he wanted to prepare to accompany the ribs. So this week, I called him on the phone to discuss it.

Me: Brandan, what would you like to serve with your ribs?

Brandan: Ummm…..shrimp! No, grilled catfish! Noo….shrimp.

Me: Sweetie, let’s choose something that’s not meat or fish. We need some sort of vegetable…

Brandan: Corn. Grilled corn.

Me: Okay, sounds good. What about something like potatoes, or rice, or potato salad, or beans…

Brandan: What about that egg dish? You know, the one with the creamy stuff and kinda sour. Like we had at the BBQ.

Me: Do you mean potato salad? Your Grandma Chambers made a potato salad with mayonnaise and mustard and lots of hard-boiled eggs…

Brandan: Yeah. Why can’t we have shrimp too?

As you can see, the boy likes his protein. While we didn’t have shrimp (trying to keep costs down), we did have quite an enjoyable meal. Trying to improve upon my pork ribs from the Texas BBQ, we opted to put a rub on them an hour before smoking, rather than the previous night, and wrapped them in foil for the final two hours of smoking. Both changes were in an attempt to make the ribs even more moist and tender. In fact, they were. My favorite aspect of their flavor, however, was the smokiness. A beautiful layer of pink penetrated the exterior of the rib meat, providing that smoky, succulent flavor I was after. Delicious.

Brandan taking ribs off of smoker to wrap in foil

Brandan taking ribs off of smoker to wrap in foil

We also prepared a version of my mother’s potato salad. Creamy, with just enough mustardy tang, it’s a delicious, comforting, simple accompaniment to any barbecue. (I had two helpings.) The corn was simple as well – we shucked the ears and broke each in half. Placed each ear onto a piece of aluminum foil, along with a pat of butter and a bit of salt and pepper. We then wrapped each half-ear in the foil and grilled for a few minutes.

The verdict? Over dinner, the kids were having a discussion, trying to rank each component of the meal, from most to least favorite. Since everyone had seconds, (and there were a few thirds!) I figure we can consider this a win for Brandan.

 

For the ribs:

5 lbs pork spare ribs

approximately 1/4 c barbecue rub

Aluminum foil

About an hour before smoking, sprinkle rub on ribs and press into meat. Set up smoker for indirect heat with water pan. Smoke ribs for 3 hours, keeping the temperature of the smoker at around 250 degrees. Pull ribs from smoker and cover with aluminum foil. Place ribs back in smoker, and smoke for another 2 hours. Remove from heat and tent with foil for 5 minutes. Cut ribs apart and serve with your favorite barbecue sauce, or ancho barbecue sauce. Serves 6-8, depending on the meatiness of your ribs.

 

For the potato salad:

5 medium red potatoes

5 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 c mayonnaise

2 T yellow mustard

1/2 red onion, diced

2 T dill relish

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of paprika

Boil potatoes until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain water and allow potatoes to cool. Peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch dice. Add potatoes, eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, onion, and dill relish. Gently mix until incorporated. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika, and mix until incorporated. Serves 6.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork, Salads

Salsa Verde II

salsa verde 010

Bottled salsa. I’ve bought many a jar in my day. I think most of us have. In fact, many of us have a bottle sitting in the fridge right now. And for convenience’s sake, a bottle of salsa is a great, healthy, go-to condiment, perfect to accompany tortilla chips, scrambled eggs, tacos, or even to top a piece of grilled chicken. But we all know that bottle, no matter how fancy the label, can never be quite as tasty as a freshly made salsa. Sometimes, you just need more.

In all honesty, salsa is not that hard to make. If you have a food processor or blender, it’s a snap. And when making it from scratch, there is no limit to the varieties of salsa you can prepare. Different vegetables, fruits, and spices can be used to create new experiences, and you can use them raw, simmered, or even roasted to bring different flavors to your salsa. Because of this freedom, it’s not very often that I make the same salsa twice.

Hence the reason for another salsa verde recipe. My first was in response to the Hatch chile season (which is fast-approaching!). This salsa was created as an accompaniment to some marinated, grilled fajitas we were having for dinner the other day. (Sorry, no recipe on that one…I cheated. A Latino grocery I have been visiting a lot lately had marinated beef fajitas on sale for $1.97/lb…couldn’t pass it up. They were pretty tasty though, I have to admit. And my visit to that grocery also allowed me to find some wonderful tomatillos, which led me to this salsa.) With an abundance of fresh serrano chiles that I picked up at the McKinney Farmer’s Market, this salsa was born.

Salsa verde typically involves simmering the tomatillos in water. And with this recipe, you can choose to do that. In my opinion, though, roasting the tomatillos and peppers for a short while intensifies the flavors, and adds a subtle sweetness that I thoroughly enjoyed. And although I intended this salsa to be served with fajitas, most of it was eaten (by me) with tortilla chips (during the preparation of the rest of the meal). Not that I would ever eat while cooking…

 

2 ½ lbs tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and sliced in half

3-4 serrano chiles, seeded and sliced in half

½ large yellow onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

¾ c cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Zest from 1 lime

Salt to taste

 Preheat broiler. Place tomatillos and serranos cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under broiler, about 10 inches away, for about 10 minutes or until the skins are lightly blackened and there is juice coming from the tomatillos and peppers.

Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped. Season with salt to taste. Serve warm, or cool in refrigerator.

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Filed under Appetizers, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Side Dishes, Vegetarian