Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread (in a bread machine)

I didn’t realize how much I missed cinnamon raisin bread until I found this recipe—and starting salivating. I’ve always liked cinnamon raisin bread, but it’s not like it was ever a staple in my diet. But, when yummy bread is a rarity, the mere possibility of its existence is exciting. And when yummy bread itself is exciting, yummy bread with juicy little flavor explosions (ie. raisins) in it becomes downright drool-worthy.

This is very close to the real thing (and by “real” I mean glutinous) although we may add a bit more cinnamon next time.

(Adapted from “125 Best Gluten-Free Bread Machine Recipes”)

1 ¾ cup brown rice flour
½ cup potato starch
¼ cup tapioca starch
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. xanthan gum
1 ½ tsp. instant yeast
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 ¾ cup raisins
1 cup skim milk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. cider vinegar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

1. Combine dry ingredients (brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, sugar, xanthan gum, yeast, salt, cinnamon and raisins) in a large bowl. Mix well.

2. Add milk, oil and cider vinegar to the bread machine baking pan. Add eggs and egg whites.

3. Select the “Dough Cycle” on your bread machine and gradually add the dry ingredients to the baking pan. (The recipe says to add the dry ingredients once the paddle starts turning, but we have a couple issues with this method. First, our bread machine has a 15-20 minute warming period, which means that the eggs, milk, oil and vinegar would start to bake a little before the dry ingredients went in. And second, if the paddle starts turning without any dry ingredients, it splashes the wet ingredients everywhere, which is rather messy.)

4. Once the bread machine starts mixing, run a spatula down the sides of the baking pan to make sure no flour gets stuck in the corners.

5. Optional: When the bread machine stops mixing, remove the kneading blade. This will maximize the prettiness of your loaf. If you don’t care how friggin’ pretty your bread is, leave the blade in.

6. Let the dough cycle finish and then turn off the bread machine.

7. Select the “Bake Cycle” and set the time to 60 minutes and the temperature to 350°.

8. When the bake cycle finishes, remove the bread and enjoy!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lentil Salad With Grapes, Mint and Other Yummy Stuff

I don’t have much to say about this dish other than it’s really truly awesomely delicious.

(Adapted from Vegetarian Times)

1 cup green lentils
2 cups water
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cups red grapes, halved
¼ cup chopped pistachios
3 tbsp. finely chopped mint
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
baby spinach

1. Add the water and lentils to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. Drain.

2. In a small nonstick skillet, toast the chopped pistachios over medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Set aside.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until they’re tender and translucent (7-9 minutes). Remove from heat.

4. Add the mustard and sherry vinegar to the leeks. Stir.

5. Add the lentils, grapes, toasted pistachios and mint to the skillet. Stir to combine.

6. Serve atop baby spinach. Top each serving with feta.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Crispy Fish with Tomato-Basil Sauce and Things I Learned: 3/18/11

We made this dish with a new (to us) fish—Pangasius—a farm-raised river catfish from Asia. According to Seafood Watch, Pangasius is a “good alternative” when U.S.-farmed catfish (a “best choice”) is not available. It was delicious.

4 tbsp. (maybe more) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
a handful of fresh basil leaves, torn (or do what we did and gasp toss in some dried basil)
2/3 cup cornmeal
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
coarse black pepper (a few cranks of the pepper grinder)
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. Pangasius fillets (or other sustainable white fish)

*Remember: There’s a Seafood Watch app for the iphone and it’s free.

1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.

2. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes and basil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to break down (about 10 minutes).

4. While the tomatoes cook, combine the cornmeal, parm and black pepper in a shallow dish. Dunk the fish in the cornmeal mixture, coating both sides.

5. Remove the tomato mixture from the skillet and set aside.

6. Add 2 tbsp. (or more) of olive oil to the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high.

7. Place the fish in the skillet and cook, turning once, until it’s crisp and slightly browned (8-10 minutes total).

8. While the fish cooks, combine the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer until it reduces to a syrupy consistency.

9. Top the fish with the tomato sauce and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

And now, the things I learned:

-Until recently, it was illegal to sell a motorcycle on a Sunday in New Jersey.

-Five hundred years ago every flatfish was called a butt.

-The fish we now call halibut was only eaten on holy days so it was called a holy butt (tee hee), which was eventually changed to halibut.

-Polar bears can run 100 meters in 9 seconds (the current human world record, held by Usain Bolt, is 9.58 seconds).

-Peaches and nectarines sometimes grow on the same tree.

-Flamingos occasionally “suffer” from reverse migration (a neurological mess-up that makes the bird fly in the exact opposite direction from its intended destination). And so, in November, when flamingos should be leaving Kazakhstan for Iran, some fly to Siberia instead.

-Lakes in the Andes freeze while flamingos are wading. Most of the flamingos wait for the ice to thaw, but a few try to yank their legs out of the ice.

-Scientists use rump size to determine a bird’s body condition.

-A woman named Tabitha Babbitt invented the circular saw and a woman named Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper.

-There’s a salamander called a snot otter.

-Some people get a prolactin rush when they listen to sad music. Some people don’t. The people that get the prolactin rush tend to like sad music. Those who don’t tend to find sad music depressing. (If you must know, I find sad music depressing.)

-A male hawk is called a tercel.

-“Meteorology” means “high in the sky” in Greek.

-In the Middle Ages, people were suspicious of bakers. If a baker didn’t deliver the exact weight he’d promised a customer, he’d be punished. To save himself from what was probably some sort of horrendous punishment, a baker asked to deliver 12 loaves would deliver 13…hence “a baker’s dozen.”

-Humans (males and females) can have up to six nipples.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Zucchini Souffle

I had my doubts when I put this dish in the oven. It was dense and heavy and totally un-soufflé-like, but obviously something magical happened in the oven (yeah, basic cooking chemistry still kinda baffles me) because it came out as a light, fluffy delicious soufflé.

(Adapted from The Minimalist)

1 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
2-3 zucchini, peeled and grated
6 eggs, separated
8 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated
¼ cup parsley, chopped

1. Spray a 6-cup soufflé dish with olive oil and preheat the oven to 350°.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.

3. When the skillet is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes (until the onion is soft).

4. Add the grated zucchini to the skillet and cook, stirring, until it’s very tender (10-12 minutes).

5. Dump the zucchini, etc in a colander and use the back of a spoon to squeeze any excess liquid out of the veggies.

6. Combine egg yolks and cheese in a large bowl and beat. (This is where we started to get worried. There’s not much liquid in 6 egg yolks and a bunch of grated cheese so it turned into a hunk of mush.)

7. Add the vegetables and parsley to the bowl. Stir to combine.

8. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they’re light and fluffy and just hold soft peaks.

9. Gently stir about a third of the fluffy egg whites into the egg yolk-cheese-vegetable mixture. Gradually add the rest of the egg whites to the bowl, stirring gently to combine.

10. Pour the mixture into the soufflé dish and bake 30-35 minutes (until golden and puffy). Serve immediately!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Chip Meringues

I used to make these all the time. And then I stopped. In fact, I totally forgot about them until I agreed to make a gluten-free dairy-free dessert for a baby shower. I will not forget about them again (partly because Pete keeps asking for more). And…they’re not just delicious. They’re easy to make—stupid easy.

2 egg whites
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
A little less than 1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup organic sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup mini semisweet dairy-free chocolate chips (of course, if you don’t need these to be dairy-free, any mini semisweet chocolate chips will do)

1. Preheat oven to 250° and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Place egg whites in a bowl and, using an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites until foamy.

3. Add cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating until the mixture begins to stiffen (ie. hold its shape when the beater stops).

4. Continue beating and gradually add the sugar.

5. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.

6. Gently fold the chocolate chips into the mixture using a rubber spatula.

7. Using a spoon, drop the meringues on the cookie sheets. (They won’t expand much so don’t fret about spacing.)

8. Bake for one hour. Let them cool and then store in an airtight container.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Roasted Carrot Salad and Things I Learned: 3/3/11

The original recipe for this awesome salad came from the New York Times. It called for black olives. We do not like black olives so I left them out—and made a whole bunch of other changes.

1 lb. carrots, washed (don’t bother peeling)
½ cup EVOO
½ - 1 tsp. dried thyme
1 ½ tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 shallots, minced and lightly sautéed (for about 3 minutes)
1 package (about 4 cups) arugula
1 tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup walnut halves
2 tbsp. sugar

1. Preheat oven to 450°.

2. Cut carrots into carrot stick size and toss in a bowl with 4 tbsp. EVOO and the thyme.

3. Warm a rimmed baking sheet in the oven for 3-4 minutes, take it out, spread the carrots onto the baking sheet and roast the carrots for about 15 minutes (until they’re crisp-tender and slightly caramelized).

4. While the carrots roast, combine the walnuts and sugar in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring, until the sugar becomes gooey. Continue stirring to completely coat the walnuts in the gooey sugar. Remove from heat.

5. In a small bowl, combine the red wine vinegar and ¼ cup of EVOO.

6. Transfer 3 tbsp. of the red wine vinegar-EVOO mixture to a large bowl and add the roasted carrots. Marinate for 5 minutes or so.

7. Add the shallots to the bowl with the carrots.

8. Add the arugula and the lemon juice. Toss.

9. Add the walnuts and the feta and toss again.

10. Serve. Top with some of the reserved dressing if you want. (Pete likes it with extra dressing. I don’t.)

And now for the things I learned:

-In Nova Scotia, capelin breed on land. (Capelin are fish. The Nova Scotia population is the only one that breeds on land. The rest breed in the ocean.)

-Marine iguanas exist. They live in the Galapagos and eat algae—females eat algae off the rocks and males go for the fresh stuff on the ocean floor.

-Infants can’t hear very well because their auditory systems aren’t fully developed. And that’s why they scream/cry/wail so loudly.

-Bears are groggy (and their metabolism is at about half of its non-hibernation level) for two to three weeks after hibernation.

-My spin class does not like Guns N Roses.

-Wild bananas have seeds the size of peppercorns.

-There’s a cricket team in Portland.

-Bowdoin has a curling team and there are enough curling teams in Maine for the Bowdoin team to win the state championship.

-Gulper eels can’t really swim, but they can eat prey bigger than themselves.

-The fangtooth (a deep sea fish) has the largest teeth in relation to body size. And, because of its disproportionately large teeth, it can’t close its mouth.

-Female lions are better hunters than male lions partly because of the male’s mane. The mane makes the male more conspicuous (not good for stalking prey) and makes him hot, making him an inefficient hunter.

-Hagfish are the only (or at least the first known) vertebrate that absorbs food through its skin and gills—and its mouth.

-Someone who studies moths and butterflies is called a lepidopterist.