Friday, May 23, 2008

The Cooking Class I Didn't Give

Last weekend the Pacific Northwest experienced the nicest weather so far this year. Temperatures reached 86 degrees for two glorious days. In a normal year this would cause northwesterners to propel themselves into full throttle summer behavior even if only for two days. But last weekend was preceded by a tumultuous spring that delivered snow at the end of April, making the spontaneous hot weather even more tantalizing. In a normal year, 50 degrees is all it takes for Seattlites to pull out the flip flops and for men, it’s off with their shirts! A 35 degree change in temperature was definitely more than most of us could resist. Last weekend was also Whatcom County’s first Gluten-free Food Fair held at the Fairview Food Pavillion in Bellingham, Washington. For those commited souls, I say ‘thank you’, for coming out and showing your support, for those who were swept away by the sun God, who can blame you? In any case, the event was a success and proved a great opportunity for the Fairhaven Food Pavillion to demonstrate their commitment to carrying gluten-free products and for consumers to sample gluten-free foods and to familiarize themselves with the many products available at the store. I participated at the event and had intended to demonstrate a short class on appetizers using polenta rounds and to bake and offer samples of our product line, Glutenfreeda’s Real Cookies. To make a longer story shorter, I did not give the polenta class and instead baked cookies for those that wandered back to my area. I did however, promise to offer the polenta class on our blog, and here it is.

Making polenta rounds

  • 3 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
In a medium saucepan, over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and in a steady stream, add the cornmeal, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir for 8-10 minutes, until the polenta is smooth and leaves the side of the pan. Transfer polenta into a 9x13” baking dish and smooth and flatten until it is level in the dish. Let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When set, cut out appetizer size shapes with cookie cutters. With a pastry brush, brush both sides of rounds with olive oil. Heat a non-stick skillet and fry rounds on both sides until slightly brown and firm. You can also brown them by placing them under a broiler. The rounds are now ready for a topping of your choice.

If you prefer not to make your polenta rounds from scratch, you can buy cooked polenta in a tube. Simply remove the wrap and slice into rounds. Brush with oil and fry or broil.

Topping Recipes

Polenta Pizzas

  • One package Hormel’s pepperoni slices
  • One can gf pizza sauce (we used Muir Glen’s Organic Pizza Sauce)
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced


Remove polenta slices to a baking sheet and top with pizza sauce, one slice pepperoni and a slice of mozzarella cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and lightly browned on top. Serve immediately

Polenta Rounds w/Black Beans & Pico de Gallo


  • 6 ounces gf cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon chives, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 cup Pico de Gallo


In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, chives, Italian parsley and thyme. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.

Prepare Pico de Gallo or your favorite gf salsa.

To serve, spread cream cheese mixture over polenta. Top with black beans and pico de gallo. Serve immediately.

Polenta Squares w/Smoked Salmon


  • 2 tablespoons gf cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1-1/2 ounces gf smoked salmon
  • Fresh dill for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine gf cream cheese, sour cream, and lemon zest. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of cream cheese mixture on top of each polenta square. Top with a small piece of gf smoked salmon and garnish with fresh dill. Serve immediately

Polenta Triangles w/Peppers & Gorgonzola


  • 3 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/3" strips
  • 3 yellow bell pepers, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/3" strips
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 5 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Olive oil
  • 4 ounces gorgonzola or goat cheese, crumbled


In a large skillet heat oil over medium-low heat. Add peppers, garlic, 3 tablespoons vinegar, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining vinegar and sugar. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.
To serve, place 2 polenta slices on a plate, top with warm peppers and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese.

Polenta Triangles w/Caramelized Onions & Feta


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 small onions, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons dry red wine or 2 Tablespoons chicken stock
  • Olive oil
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled

In a medium skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add onion slices and salt. Cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When onions are very soft, increase heat to medium. Add wine, scraping bottom of pan to release sugars. Onions will turn a nice, rich caramel color. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove triangles to a serving platter and top each with a small amount of caramelized onions and sprinkle with feta. Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy these recipes! All can be partially made ahead and finished right before serving.

- Chef Yvonne

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fire up the Flank Steak

Spring is a great time to peel back the cover of your grill and start enjoying all benefits of grilled meats. One of our favorite meats to grill is flank steak. Flank steak is a very lean, flavorful boneless cut of meat. This thin, flat steak comes from a well-exercised part of the cow which usually would mean a tough piece of meat. However, when marinated, grilled or broiled, and cut thinly against the grain, flank steak becomes very tender.

Preparation, uses & tips:

Most often you will find that flank steak is marinated prior to grilling or broiling. Marinating flank steak helps tenderize the meat particularly when the marinade contains ingredients such as lemon juice, wine, vinegar and other natural tenderizers like ginger and pineapple. After preparing the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally while it marinates.


Place the flank steak directly over hot coals or medium-high heat and cook, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, turning once half-way through.


Place the marinated flank steak on a broiling pan. Broil 2-3 inches from the broiler element and cook for 6-8 minutes, turning halfway through.

Stuff & Bake:

You can also prepare a stuffing and spread it evenly over one side of the flank steak. This creates a beautiful presentation when sliced and the meat still remains fairly tender throughout the cooking process, particularly
if you add liquid or stock to the roasting pan as it cooks. To prepare flank steak in this manner, roll the flank steak up into a log-shape. Secure with kitchen twine at 2 inch intervals down the length of the log. Place in a baking pan and bake at 350°F. Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool before slicing.

Glutenfreeda’s favorite flank steak recipes:

As you can see there are several different ways to prepare flank steak. Our favorite is grilling, only because it brings out a wonderful flavor in the meat, it’s quick and extremely easy. Here are several of our favorite recipes that we think you and your family will enjoy!

Cinnamon Spiced Flank Steak

Grilled Flank Steak with Shallot-Ginger Marinade

Grilled Oriental Flank Steak

Grilled Flank Steak with Sauteed Mushrooms

Flank Steak with Asparagus & Wild Rice Pilaf

Gingered Flank Steaks

Flank Steak with Roasted Garlic & Sun-Dried Tomato Marinade

Cornbread Stuffed Flank Steak

Flank Steak Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomato Polenta


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cooking Light with Fish

For those of us looking for the lighter side of great tasting gluten-free foods, a wonderful option is fish. Granted, fish cooked with a little cream sauce is always a family favorite but so are countless fish recipes that accentuate the delicate flavor of fish without heavy or calorie laden sauces or toppings.

Because fish is cooked quickly, it is perfect for grilling, broiling, roasting, baking or poaching. Additional flavor can be added either before, during or after cooking.

Marinades or rubs impart a variety of flavors from delicate to robust without adding fat or many additional calories. Two fabulous examples are Moroccan Spice Marinated Halibut and Wasabi & Ginger Halibut Skewers. We used halibut for these recipes, but any firm white fish can be substituted.

Fish can also be lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and then cooked and finished by drizzling with a light vinaigrette as in Snapper with Tomatoes & Spinach or Grilled Salmon with Citrus & Fresh Herbs or even with a home-made pesto as in Grilled Tuna with Pesto.

Incredible flavors can also be added to fish with salsas. Traditional salsa or salsas with less conventional ingredients are perfect accompaniments. Try salsas with fruit such as Cantaloupe & Roma Tomato Salsa, Cherry Salsa or Mango Jalapeno Salsa. Two 'must try' fish and salsa combinations are Grilled Fish with Basil Roasted Pepper Salsa and Grilled Salmon with Fresh Corn Relish.

Still need more ideas? A lovely low-fat favorite is Fish & Vegetables with Pesto Baked in Foil; great flavor with no clean-up!

To assure that your light fish meal with be perfectly cooked, here are a few tips about the various cooking methods for fish.


Broiling is basically an indoor version of grilling with the heat coming from above instead of underneath. Any fish that can be grilled can be broiled.

Guidelines for broiling fish:

  • Fish that is 1/2" thick should take approximately 2 minutes to cook per side, about 2" from the heat source. A 1" filet or whole fish should be about 4" from the heat and should take about 4 minutes per side.

  • The broiler should always be preheated

  • Lightly oil fish before broiling

  • Place fish on an oiled piece of foil on top of the broiler pan.

Additional Recipes: Broiled Salmon with Ginger & Scallions and Broiled Halibut w/Lemon & Tarragon


Grilling, although basically the same thing as broiling, in our opinion is superior because of the wonderful nuances that cooking over coals or wood can impart to what you are grilling.

Guidelines for grilling fish:

  • Select fish that is at least 1/2" thick

  • Grill fish with skin on as it seals in flavor and helps hold the fish together as it cooks

  • Rub fish and grill with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Oil the grill prior to heating.

  • The best fish for grilling are oily fish such as salmon or tuna

  • The grill should be very hot before adding fish to minimize sticking


The terms 'roasting' and 'baking' are sometimes used interchangeably, but the difference has more to do with dry or wet baking. Roasting is done in the oven with dry air and baking generally refers to oven cooking with liquid or wet ingredients that cause steam, which is really quick braising.

Guidelines for baking fish:

  • Oven temperature should generally be between 400-450 degrees F, depending on the thickness of the fish

  • Baking time depends on the thickness of the fish and whether or not it is whole or a filet or steak. For whole fish, a rule of thumb is 15 minutes per inch of thickness.

  • Fish is done when the internal temperature reaches 135 degrees F.

Additional Recipes: Oven Roasted Salmon w/Potatoes


Poaching is simply simmering fish in enough liquid to cover the fish. Poaching liquids can have different ingredients, but the following ingredients will get you in the ballpark: water, onions, carrots, fresh parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, fresh thyme and dry white wine.

Additional Recipes: Poached Salmon w/Vegetables and Whole Poached Salmon

Monday, May 5, 2008

Please Pass the Shrimp!

Shrimp or prawns are one of those versatile shellfish almost everyone enjoys. And just like Bubba Gump said, there are many ways to prepare shrimp. Shrimp are wonderful in it’s most natural state, boiled and served with a seafood sauce or sautéed with lemon and garlic or in a soup, salad, with pasta or even fried in a gluten-free batter.

On our home, San Juan Island, summer time would not be the same without fresh caught and cooked shrimp. Freshly caught shrimp are sometimes served intact complete with heads and legs. The delicate art of eating them requires breaking off their heads and discarding them and the greenish matter inside; a practice not for the squeamish.

We’ve collected a selection of delectable shrimp recipes for almost any occasion; for an appetizer try Deep Fried Shrimp gluten-free style or Dry Fried Shrimp, and unusual cooking method whereby the spicy seasonings are placed inside the shell and then the shrimp are dry-fried inside the shells. Our Cream of Shrimp Soup is ‘to die for’; elegant and a perfect first course for entertaining, or for just a delicious warm meal for two. We have an incredible and easy main course meal featuring shrimp; Sautéed Shrimp with Orange and Basil, delightful and refreshing and special enough to serve to company.

If you aren’t lucky enough to live where you have access to fresh shrimp, you can buy frozen shrimp at your grocery store. If you must buy frozen shrimp, buy shrimp still in its shells. If you are selecting ‘fresh’ packaged shrimp from a grocery store, be sure the shells are firm and that the shrimp has no fishy smell. Soft shells are a sign of deteriorating shrimp.