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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fish taco remix–Mediterranean style...

In my small circle of the world I am known for my fish tacos. And since I have a passion for cooking traditional, regional, international food (did you get all that), my fish tacos are just that–traditional. No departure from the norm for me when it comes to my fish tacos...well, not normally anyway. Well, these tacos are not them (my traditional ones, that is). Tonight, I threw norm out the window–I wanted something different. So, since wild caught, domestic cod was on sale at my local grocery, and since my aunt and uncle supplied me fresh cherry tomatoes from their garden, and I had olives in the fridge...tapenade anyone? For those in the know, that is an olive 'relish' so-to-speak, roughly chopped into a salsa like topping. In the Mediterranean, mild white fish is often served with a the pungeant, briny, salty-goodness of olives and the like.
These fish tacos are fast, easy, fresh, and full of nutrition. What else should a weeknight dinner be-I ask! Nothing else, I say.
Confession: These were so good–I licked the plate. Thank goodness only the dogs were watching :O)

  • 1 cup olives, pitted (any kind, green, black or mix)
  • 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • A few leaves of rosemary, fresh
  • 1 tsp. vinegar (any kind), or lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flake (for heat, optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients except tomatoes into a mini chopper or food processor, and pulse until chopped into a chunky salsa consistency. Stir halved tomatoes in with a spoon. Set aside.

1 lb. mild white fish, your favorite kind
1 lemon
Cook your preferred way; bake, steam, or poach. Then flake. Squeeze flaked fish with juice of the lemon while hot. Set aside.

Taco Components
Crunchy taco shells (gluten free variety)
Lettuce leaves
Greek style plain yogurt, or regular plain yogurt

Into a taco shell place place a piece of lettuce, spread or spoon in some yogurt, then stuff the shell with fish. Spoon the tapenade on top.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yogurt poached shrimp and green rice...

When anyone asks me what my favorite comfort food is, I have to say that I really do not have one. There is nothing that I gravitate to more than another. I suppose it could be my spaghetti, because I love the sauce...or my mother's "mexican-rice" from my childhood (mmmm...that is pretty close to a favorite now that I think about it...) But I guess when I think of comfort food, I think of something warm, and light, yet hearty at the same time. Something fresh, and earthy--something piled into a bowl that you can eat in an uncomplicated way.
This dish may come very close to a comfort food category. It was a Monday night improv dish--this one was. Oh, I knew I wanted to use shrimp, and brown rice, and the fresh peas from my garden tonight--but I wasn't quite sure what to make. Now, I am one to sit and read cookbooks like novels...pouring over the pictures, recipes, and techniques for hours to gain inspiration. But tonight, I was on my own, I wanted nothing to inspire me except my ingredients. This is what I came up with. Hope you try it and like it.

Yogurt Poached Shrimp
1 lb. raw, peeled, and deveined shrimp
1 six or eight ounce container of plain yogurt
1/4 cup fresh dill
2 tbs water
3 gloves of garlic, minced
Half a jalepeno chili-diced (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let sit while you prepare the ingredients for the rice.

Green Rice | Green means nutrition. The more, the better. The name comes from all the green components that give this rice vibrancy and freshness. Make your favorite rice (brown or white). I cooked a cup of brown, then, when cooked and still hot, toss in a bunch of green things! This is about using what you have and what you like. Here is what I added:
  • Parsley (1/2 cup)
  • Leeks (about 1/4 cup)
  • Snap peas sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • Fresh peas (1/4 cup)--or use frozen thawed
  • Onion flower (or use scallion) 2 tbs.
  • 1 tbs parmesean cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
While rice is cooking, pour shrimp and yogurt into a medium sauce pan and cook over medium heat until the shrimp is just cooked through (it is important not to overcook shrimp). Pour shrimp through a strainer to drain the liquid, but capture the garlic and chili. Set aside.

Stir all the "green' ingredients you chose into the warm rice. Stir in 1 tbs parmesean cheese to add a bit of richness. Finally, add the shrimp on top.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps...

If you love the Pei-Wei and Chang's version of these, you will love this one you can make at home. We have taken to wrapping a lot of our meals lately. But instead of using tortillas, or wraps, or other things, I have gravitated towards lettuce. Our farmshare delivers large, wonderful heads of big crisp, tender lettuces. I really like using it––around a burger, lunchmeat, or even sliced thin veggies, it has a satisfying crunch, and I really do not miss the carbohydrate of the tortilla or wrap. Try these for dinner. Although if bun you must, just make these into a burger pattie, and serve on a bun with the sauce--equally as yum! Outta the way Pei-Wei!!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps
  • 1 lb ground chicken (or other lean meat)
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp GF tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • .75oz anchovies (or 1 tbs paste) (trust me, this adds a rich depth of flavor--plus nutrition!)
  • 1 tsp hot chili paste, like a Sambal or a Sriracha
  • ¼ cup GF bread crumbs (use 1 slice of bread in a food processor, or substitute 1 tbs GF flour in lieu of crumb)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Roll about 14-equal sized meatballs. Cook over medium-high heat in a little olive oil until browned and cooked through.

Peanut Sauce
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 2 tbs warm tap water
  • 1 tsp hot chili paste
Mix all together until smooth.

Serve the meatballs in the lettuce with raw, fresh sliced veggies. We has carrots, snap peas and cabbage so we used that. You could use radish, onion, add herbs, like with it!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gluten Free buttermilk sage biscuits...

My sage this week has been warmed by the sun and is very happy. This calls for biscuits. So this morning, I awoke and decided that is what I would make. I fear no scratch–I say! No box or mix here (if you know me by now).
Scratch biscuits, albeit intimidating to many, are actually quite simple. I mean, after all, pioneer women made them three times a day! I could do it at least once (in a while).
In fact, they lend themselves extremely well to spontaneity. How? Well, they use cold butter, so there is no need to preplan and soften butter on the counter for hours. They use cold milk, and most any milk works, buttermilk, cream, half-n-half, 2%. Plus they have just a few ingredients!

These come together in about 8 minutes, then into a hot oven for 20 minutes. And you have warm, homemade biscuits. Get out the jam!

I presented one to my husband, and to quote his culinary commentary as he took a bite, “Mmmm, light-and fluffy (pause and chew), mmmm, these taste like sage, (pause and chew), mmmm, and they are crispy on top” (another bite and chew, chew, chew). So, I think he likes them.

Really, these are more simple than you think. Mine involve a little history–my grandmother’s biscuit cutter, and grandmother’s sister’s rolling pin, from the family farm back east. I like it when things in the kitchen happen with a little history involved.

It goes like this: (I recommend making a double batch.)

Makes about 6-8 good sized biscuits.
  • 2 cups Tom Sawyer GF flour
    (I have only used Tom’s and get these best results. Try your own GF flour and tell me how they turn out).
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh sage
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into very small pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or try milk, or cream, or half-n-half).

 Preheat oven to 400°. In a mixer with the whisk attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, sage, and salt. Add the small diced butter and let the mixer run to cut the butter into the flour. The butter should be in smaller than pea sized pieces. Add buttermilk and blend until just combined. Place dough onto a cool surface and pat together all the dry crumbs to bring the dough together…but don’t over work it.

 Cut into biscuits. You can also just shape a square and cut square biscuits too. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Healthy Ketchup-gluten free and homemade...

There is a point to making this stuff homemade. So, let’s talk about ketchup. To say that ketchup is contributing to the childhood obesity issue may be a stretch for some, but did you know that a one tbs serving of ketchup has equivalent to one of those little white packets of sugar in it?
How often do you watch kids (and adults for that matter) pour this stuff on! Cha-ching--sugar packet, cha-ching--sugar packet, until there are nine packets worth of sugar on the plate!
Ok—but who doesn’t love ketchup–right? It’s the blanket to a hot dog, the slather to a hamburger, the (some would say odd) addition to eggs, and—really, isn’t the French Fry just the vehicle to eat the ketchup?
So, ever on a quest to be able to enjoy foods with intent (meaning, no frivolous foods, and having purpose of nutrition to contribute to our overall wellness), I had to find a way to make ketchup healthy. This recipe is 11-year old approved.

  • One 28-ounce can tomato puree (no sodium or additives)
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs molasses
  • 2 tbs brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1 tsp salt dissolved in,
  • ¼ cup warm water
Bring all ingredients together and whisk in a bowl. Put in a jar, and that is it! It is best the next day, but you can use it right away if you want.

Here are my stats on it– shows Heinz nutritional info as for a 1 tbs serving:
• Calories- 15
• Sodium 190mg
• Sugars 4g

Mine comes in at, for 1 tbs serving: (I use this fantastic recipe calculator to find out nutritional info for my recipe creations.)
• 8 calories
• 90 mg sodium
• 1.5 sugars

Plus do I need to mention all the other nutrients added from the molasses and tomato?
So the benefit to taking the time to make your own is that you are getting all the great nutrition from tomatoes (lycopene), molasses (too many to list), and there is no high-fructose nothing, or outrageous sodium to worry about. Plus, this ketchup is the base for so many things—BBQ, its an ingredient in a great teriyaki sauce, salad dressings…the list goes on!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gluten Free Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs in 34 minutes...

Our dinners are always quick. Start time 5:22pm.
Because I plan a menu each week, and shop accordingly, I always have exactly what I need to make a swift and delicious meal. Cabbage is in full season here in my weekly farmshare, so here is a great way to use it in place of noodles. I don't need to tell you how good cabbage is for you, since your mother already did that. All the other items in this dish–the vinegar, the spices, the sesame seeds–are all just-good-for-you-ingredients. The pork comes out tender and juicy, while the outside is sticky and sweet and tangy-sour, a beautiful combination.
I know it sounds impossible, but you can have this meal in 34-minutes.

This makes two servings.
Cabbage Noodle

  • ½ head cabbage
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbs Tamari sauce

Rib Glaze

  • 1 lb. country style pork ribs (must be country-style)

  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs ketchup (I make my own, I will post that recipe soon)
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • ½ tsp Chinese five spice (don't be afraid to make this dish w/o this if you do not have it on hand)

  •  Garnish

    ½ tsp sesame seeds

  • 2 tsp. cilantro

  • Directions 
    Cover pork ribs with water in a large lidded sauce pot, place on high heat and bring to a boil. Cook these for 22-minutes total (start your timer from the time you turn on the heat). Pork over cooks quickly, so do not over cook.

    In the meantime, start the cabbage. Slice cabbage into long strips, like noodles. Over medium-high heat, add to the large skillet the olive oil and sesame oil. Add the cabbage and sauté until it begins to brown and wilt down. While that is cooking, make the lacquer BBQ sauce.

    Stir together all ingredients in the glaze (except the rib meat). When the ribs are done, turn your broiler on, then blot the wet ribs quickly on a paper towel, then dredge in the glaze, coating all over. Place the glazed ribs on a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet.

    Place the ribs under the broiler and broil each side about 1-2 minutes, until they start to crisp and get bubbly. Using tongs turn the ribs and broil each side until all sides are broiled.

    In the meantime, turn off heat on the cabbage and stir in 1 tbs of tamari sauce.

    To plate the dish, mound the cabbage, garnish with ¼ tsp sesame seeds and 1 tsp cilantro, and add the ribs on top. Use any extra sauce as a dipping sauce.

    End time 5:56pm––enjoy!

    By the way, use the glaze as a sauce for anything, chicken and rice to make a teriyaki sweet and sour, or with dark greens...its perfect!