Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Great Sauces for Fish

Have you ever seen a picture of a great looking meal in a magazine or eaten something wonderful in a fine restaurant and thought, "I wish I could make this at home"? Many of our recipes are conceived in exactly this way. One of our favorite recipes in this month’s collection, ‘Pancetta Layered Halibut with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce’, was an idea brewing in our heads for weeks and tested twice before we got the desired result. The flavors in this dish perfectly compliment each other and all come together with a delectable sauce.

Having a few great sauce recipes in your pocket is a sure-fire way to dress up almost any fish recipe. We find fish greatly enhanced when topped with a sauce. The mild flavor of most fish can easily be influenced by the flavor nuances of other ingredients. Also, the soft texture of most cooked fish when combined with a sauce, seems to melt in your mouth.

There are numerous toppings other than sauces that are spectacular on fish including flavored butters, flavored mayonnaise and salsas. Besides being delicious, all of these toppings can be prepared ahead of time and added while baking, broiling, grilling or after the fish has been cooked; simple and delicious!

For an easy and elegant cream sauce for baked white fish, try our ‘Universal Cream Sauce’. This is a ‘can’t miss’ sauce that takes only minutes to prepare.

Universal Cream Sauce

Makes about 1-1/2 cup sauce

  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tomato, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
  • Tarragon sprigs for garnish

Add the cream to a skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the tomatoes, gorgonzola and chopped tarragon to the cream. Let simmer until the sauce reduces and thickens. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper.

*Make sure you simmer at a low temperature so the cream does not separate.

Need more topping ideas?

Try these on snapper, halibut, salmon, bass, swordfish, or other white fish.

Bernaise Sauce
Champagne Sauce
Red Pepper Cream Sauce
Garlic Shallot Butter
Mustard Thyme Butter
Cilantro —Jalapeno Mayonnaise
Cilantro Salsa

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shortcuts in the Kitchen

Do you find yourself wishing you could find the time to cook delicious, gourmet, gluten-free meals but simply don’t have the time? There are many basic items that can help reduce your prep time and still deliver fantastic results. Often this is more difficult to do on a gluten-free diet since many processed foods contain gluten, however there are still many ingredients that you can either prepare well in advance or simply buy — eliminating several timely steps altogether. Below you will find some of our favorite time-savers and ingredients that we like to keep on hand.

Roasted Red Peppers

If a recipe calls for roasted red pepper, roast 2 or 3 more than what the recipe calls for. It doesn’t take any more effort and they are absolutely wonderful to have around. They are great for pasta’s, salad’s, sauces and even as a topping for fish, poultry or meats. Roasted red peppers add a delightful hint of sweetness with a slight Italian flair.

To roast a pepper, place the pepper(s) on a baking sheet and place directly under a broiler. Broil, turning periodically, until all sides of the pepper are blackened. Transfer the pepper(s) to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let them steam for about 10-15 minutes. Peel off the blackened skins and discard the seeds and stem. Roasted peppers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.

You can also find roasted red peppers in a jar in some well-stocked grocery stores — usually in the Italian foods section. As with anything, please double check to make sure that the brand you are using is gluten-free.

Roasted Garlic
Roasted garlic is a wonderful addition to sauces, savory gf breads, dips, and just about anything that you want to impart the essence of garlic. Roasted garlic has a toasty garlic flavor with a touch of sweetness and it lacks the bitterness of fresh garlic. The same holds true with roasted garlic as does roasted peppers - it takes just as much effort to roast 1 garlic head as it does several.

To roast garlic, cut about a quarter inch off the top of the garlic bulb to expose the cloves. Place the bulbs, cut side up on a square sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil. Fold up the sides of the aluminum foil and seal to form a packet. Place in an oven preheated to 350°F. Let the garlic roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the cloves are very soft. Let cool then squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the skins. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

As with roasted red peppers, you can also find roasted garlic in a jar at some well-stocked grocery stores.

Chopped Garlic

Many people find chopping garlic to be a hassle and time-consuming task. Personally I believe there is no substitute, however, in a pinch you can use chopped garlic in a jar. This is especially helpful if you are planning on using a lot of garlic — perhaps if you are preparing a large meal for a dinner party. Chopped garlic is readily available in most grocery stores.

Gf Sun-Dried Tomatoes with Herbs

Sun-dried tomatoes are awesome in pasta, dips, sauces and even a welcome addition to gluten-free French breads. They add a nice savory-sweet flavor, much richer than fresh or stewed tomatoes. These are a pantry staple for us at Glutenfreeda. A word of caution, make sure you check the ingredients. Some jars of sun-dried tomatoes contain "herbs and spices" that are not clearly defined. These "may" contain gluten — so check with the manufacturer before you use them. If you stick with sun-dried tomatoes you find in the natural foods aisle or that are labeled "organic" you will probably be safer — but still we advise you to check first.

Amy’s Organic Pasta Sauces

For those of you with kids, prepared pasta sauce is a must-have pantry item. Nothing beats a quick dinner of spaghetti! Amy’s has a wide variety of great tasting pasta sauces — all organic and nearly all of them are gluten-free. Check their web-site for a complete listing of what is and isn’t gluten-free (www.amys.com). To add a gourmet touch to these fresh tasting pasta sauces, add your own gf sausage or any combination of fresh herbs. Serve your spaghetti with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for a perfect finish!

Major Grey’s Chutney

Another favorite pantry item of Glutenfreeda’s chefs — Major Grey’s Chutney. This chutney tastes great and gives just the right punch to quick sauces (see our notes on quick sauces below). The taste is slightly sweet but contrasts with a touch of vinegar. Use this in quick sauces or baste onto grilled meats or poultry for an amazingly quick and gourmet feast!

Crème Fraiche

Crème fraiche is incredibly easy to make. Simply take 2 cups of heavy cream and add 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Stir to combine and then cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for about 24 hours. The end result is a silky smooth cream that tastes like a very mild version of sour cream. Once it reaches that thickened, smooth cream state, cover and refrigerate. The crème fraiche will keep for about a week. We use this in our quick-bread batter to add moisture and flavor, in sauces, and even as a straight substitution for sour cream. To add an even more gourmet touch, mix the crème fraiche with jalapenos, garlic and season with salt. Cover and let sit for about 30 minutes to an hour. Strain through a fine sieve. Use this infused crème fraiche over omelets, pastas, meats, fish, poultry or even tacos!

Flavored Butters

Flavored butters are easy to make and add intense flavor to grilled, baked, or broiled poultry, beef, or fish. They can also be used as flavorings for elaborate sauces such as beurre blanc or in sauces made by incorporating butter into braising liquids or even quick sauces (see below). To make flavored herb butter, mix about 1 cup of your favorite herb(s) with one quarter pound of unsalted butter. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Don’t feel as if you are limited to just herb butter. You can also flavor butter with garlic, cheeses (gorgonzola or parmesan, for example), dried mushrooms, lemon juice, hot chili peppers, tomatoes, and the list goes on. Be creative. The nice thing about flavored butters, besides the taste of course, is that they keep almost indefinitely, tightly wrapped in the freezer. So make a few and just label them for future use.

Quick Sauces for Meats

You can prepare terrific, almost instant dinners, that taste very gourmet using a variety of meats and sauces. Here’s how: First memorize the magic word: Sautéeing. Several types of meat can be sautéed in the exact same way producing a golden crust outside while remaining juicy and succulent on the inside. Boneless pork chops, beef tenderloin, fish fillets, chicken breasts, veal cutlets and even turkey cutlets will all perform in the same way. It is important that the piece of meat or cutlet you select be uniform in thickness. For chicken breasts, remove the tenderloin and cook it separately; for pork, try to select medallions that are about 1 to 1-1/4" thick. You can also buy bone in chops and remove the bone.

Be sure to choose the right size skillet. The pieces of meat should not be crowded, but should also not have too much space between them and the sides of the pan. A 12" heavy skillet is perfect to cook four chicken breasts or cutlets.

Chicken breasts and cutlets can be dredged in gluten-free flour. It is not necessary, but we’ve found that flouring adds to the fried flavor and protects the meat from getting leathery from high heat.

The Formula:
  • Prepare a sauce made from liquids and flavorings that mixed together equals 1/2 to 2/3 cup.
  • Flour and sauté the meat.
  • Remove the meat from the pan and keep warm.
  • Add the sauce and reduce to half.
  • Add enrichment.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Serve.
To prepare meat, season both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. To prepare the skillet, set over medium-low heat and add a mix of 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 2 Tablespoons butter. When ready to sauté, increase heat to medium-high. When pan is hot, add meat.

Cook the meat until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side, turning once. Transfer meat to a plate and cover to keep warm.

To prepare sauce, mix liquids and flavorings together. Total liquid mixture should measure 1/2 to 2/3 cup. Add to hot pan, scraping up browned bits. Reduce liquid to half.

Add enrichment, blend in and pour finished sauce over meat. Serve immediately.

*Almost any sauce can be enhanced by adding the extra step of sautéeing 1 minced garlic clove and or 1 Tablespoon minced shallots into the skillet immediately after the meat has been removed. Sauté for 1 minute, then add sauce and continue as directed.

Liquid = 1ž4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1ž4 cup gf chicken broth
Flavoring = none
Enrichment = 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Cream Sherry & Prunes:
Liquid = 6 Tablespoons cream sherry, 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
Flavoring = 1ž4 cup chopped prunes
Enrichment = 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Lemon Caper:
Liquid = 6 Tablespoons gf chicken broth, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Flavoring = 2 Tablespoons drained capers
Enrichment = 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Port & Cherry:
Liquid = 1ž2 cup port wine
Flavoring = 2 Tablespoons dried cherries, 2 teaspoons red currant jelly
Enrichment = 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Tomato & Tarragon:
Liquid = 1ž4 cup gf chicken broth, 1ž4 cup dry white wine
Flavoring = 1 teaspoons fresh minced tarragon, 4 canned tomatoes, drained & chopped
Enrichment = 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, 2 Tablespoons cream

Curried Chutney:
Liquid = 6 Tablespoons gf chicken broth, 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Flavoring = 2 Tablespoons chutney, 1ž4 teaspoon curry powder
Enrichment = 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Once you master the formula you will discover you simple it is to prepare an elegant meal in just minutes!

We hope these tips and time-savers not only help you out in the kitchen but give you the flexibility to explore new recipes and flavor combinations without feeling as if you have to spend all day in the kitchen!

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Many Faces of Rice

One of the joys of living on a gluten-free diet is rice. Rice has always been a staple in our family. My father’s Hawaiian heritage provided our family with a certain way of eating that included rice at every meal. As I grew up, I too, served plain white rice at almost every meal. Rice seemed a natural accompaniment to everything, including eggs for breakfast, all meats, fish and vegetables, chili, stew and yes, even spaghetti sauce.

There are so many ways to prepare rice from boiling, steaming, baking, frying and an infinite number of recipes originating from cultures all over the world. Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Latin, Mediterranean, European and American cultures all have unique ways of preparing this versatile grain.

There seems to be much mystery about how to correctly cook plain white rice. Anyone who comes from a family where rice is a staple, probably has their own method that has been passed on from mother to daughter, generation to generation, and yes, I have mine.

Perfect (Every time, will never fail, no matter what) White Rice

The first layer of mystery that I will unravel deals with the question, ‘What is the correct ratio of water to rice?" The answer is, "I have no idea". My method requires no measuring cups and the rice will turn out perfect.

Directions: Start with a heavy saucepan. Le Creuset pans are perfect, Calphalon works well or my family’s favorite rice pot was and old cast iron pot with a heavy lid. This was ‘the rice pan’ and used for nothing else. Add rice to the pan. As a guide, about 1 cup of uncooked rice will serve 4 people.

I used to wash the rice before cooking by filling the pan of rice with water, sloshing it around with my hand and then tipping the pan and pouring the water out. I would rinse in this way 4-5 times. This would remove most of the starch that makes rice sticky. I think this was originally done also because rice used to contain small rocks and in some countries, even bugs. Today’s packaged rice is clean and the rinsing step serves only to reduce the starch. I also find that my favorite type of rice when cooking plain rice, is Jasmine. I have reduced the rinsing step to rinsing only once or twice because I think too much rinsing compromises the taste of Jasmine rice. I would probably omit this step all together, except that old habits are hard to break.

Place the pan of rice under the faucet and add enough cold water until the water reaches the first knuckle of your extended finger just touching the top of the rice. It doesn’t matter how much rice you put in the pan, this measurement will work every time. Place the pan on the stove and add a couple pinches or shakes of salt. Bring to a boil. Let the rice boil until all the water has cooked away and small holes appear on the surface. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to the lowest setting for 30 minutes. Do not under any circumstance lift the lid until the rice is done. I actually don’t know if this would ruin the rice, but I have been aptly warned by my ancestors to never, ever commit this crime, and of course, I never will.

So there you have it. The secret to perfect rice every time, regardless of how many servings.

Now let’s explore a few rice recipes that incorporate other ingredients and that require different preparations.

Risottos are one of our favorite rice preparations. Creamy and rich, risotto is prepared in quite a different manner than other rice dishes. Risottos begin by sautéing onions in oil and then the rice, aborio, is added and sautéed until the grains of rice turn opaque. A little wine is added and cooked off to impart just a nuance and then hot chicken stock is added in small amounts, simmered away and then added again until the rice becomes creamy and still a little firm.

Pilaf begins the same way as risotto up until the wine addition. Chicken stock and sometimes fruit are added to the rice, then the pan is covered and cooked at a low temperature for about 25 minutes. When the pilaf is done, it is fluffed and fresh herbs and toasted nuts can be added.

This month we have a spectacular risotto recipe, ‘Risotto with Fresh Mushrooms’. This is a fabulous accompaniment to any poultry entrée. ‘Risotto Pancakes’ is a great way to use leftover risotto, if you should ever find yourself with leftover risotto. Our recipe for ‘Rice Balls’ requires first boiling the rice then mixing it with egg and cheese. The mixture is then formed into balls and stuffed with soft mozzarella cheese, prociutto and basil and then fried…delicious and a hit with children.

Try these great rice recipes to spice up your side dish repertoire.

Brown Rice with Scallions & Pecans
Chorizo and Rice Stuffing
Jamaican Rice and Beans
Lemon Pistachio Pilaf
Rice w/Pork, Sausage & Vegetables
Southwest Rice with Ancho Chiles
Wild Rice with Shrimp
Vegetable Timballo
Rice & Eggplant Lasagna

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sensational Salad Dressings and Vinaigrettes

Great salad dressings are so easy to make and so much better than the manufactured variety, not to mention sooooo much fresher and guaranteed gluten-free. If you don’t make your own already, we encourage you to try some of the following recipes and see for yourself.

For those who have not made dressings from scratch, we’d like to demystify the formula for a great salad dressing. It is simply a 3 to 1 ratio of oil to acid. As an example, for a dressing for two; measure 3 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, shake or stir to emulsify and season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. Three measurements of olive oil to one measurement of any acid ( vinegar, lemon juice, etc). To this combination simply add flavorings; mustard, garlic, shallots, herbs, salt and pepper. For sweeter dressings add sugar and fruit and for creamy dressings add egg yolks, sour cream, buttermilk or crème fraiche.

A key ingredient to dressings is olive oil. It is important to use the best quality olive oil you can find, this tip will dramatically improve the taste of any dressing.

Store homemade dressings in labeled glass bottles that you can shake before using. Homemade dressings will keep for weeks in the refrigerator.

Garlic Dressing
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
Combine all ingredients except oil and salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine. With motor running, add oil in a steady stream through a feed tube. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

French Dressing
  • 2 eggs 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon gf Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor and pulse to combine. With motor running, add oil in a steady stream through a feed tube. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Poppy-Seed Dressing
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon gf Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons grated onion
  • 2 cups corn oil
  • 3 Tablespoons poppy seeds
Combine all ingredients except oil and poppy seeds in a food processor and pulse to combine. With motor running, add oil in a steady stream through a feed tube. Add poppy seeds and adjust seasonings.

Creamy Tarragon Mustard Dressing
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup gf Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup corn oil
Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor and pulse to combine. With motor running, add oil in a steady stream through a feed tube. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons gf Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon gf stone-ground mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon gf horseradish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients is a small bowl and whisk until well blended.

Perfect Vinaigrette
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
The secret to perfect vinaigrette is a simple ratio. 3 oils to 1 acid. Acids can be any vinegar or citric juice like lemon or grapefruit. You may use any combination of oils and acids. Whisk vinegar and oil and season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. A light vinaigrette tends to enhance a salad's flavor of greens and vegetable instead of covering them up.

Lemon Vinaigrette
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup minced chives
  • 2 Tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 Tablespoons gf Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a glass bottle and shake to combine.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • 1 Tablespoon gf Dijon mustard
  • 4 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Sat and pepper
Cut garlic clove in half and rub cut surface on the inside of a food processor. Add vinegar and mustard and pulse until combined. With motor running, add oil in a steady stream through a feed tube. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Raspberry Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Crème Fraiche
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a glass bottle and shake well until blended.