Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Polenta Revisited

Over the years, we have shared many recipes using polenta as a main ingredient. Polenta continues to be one of our favorite foods and is a wonderful, nutritious addition to a Celiac’s diet.

Polenta is coarse ground corn meal but other than the size of the ground grain, it is the exact same thing as corn meal. Corn meal can be purchased from fine to coarse grind. Fine and medium grinds are generally used for making corn bread, muffins and most baking. When recipes call for polenta, it is the coarsest grind that they refer to.

Different methods of cooking polenta result in different textures. Cooked polenta can be creamy as in soft polenta, to gritty, as when added to a crust. For soft polenta the cooking method is similar to that of risotto, except that for risotto, heated broth is continually added throughout the cooking process and for polenta, the liquid is added all at once. Flavorings are added virtually the same.

There are a few tips to remember when cooking polenta.
  1. Generally, the liquid to polenta ratio is 3 to 1.
  2. Always add polenta to the simmering liquid in a slow steady stream to prevent lumps from forming.
  3. Always stir while adding polenta to liquid, preferably with a wooden spoon.
  4. Cook polenta in a heavy saucepan to avoid burning
  5. It is not necessary to stir polenta continuously once the cooking process has begun, but you must stir every 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Polenta is done when the mass comes away from the pan sides when stirred.
For this feature, we have compiled a varied group of polenta recipes from appetizers to desserts. Polenta is a refreshing change as a side dish from rice, potatoes or pasta and so much more. Explore these recipes and see if you don’t agree that polenta is a fabulous alternative to wheat.

Polenta Puffs
Polenta Croutons
Polenta Berry Pancakes
Braised Beef with Soft Polenta
Polenta Lasagne
Polenta with Smoked Salmon & Poached Eggs
Fried Tomatoes with Polenta
Chocolate Polenta Cakes
Apple Cranberry Polenta Tart

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Baking in Foil

Baking in foil is a method of cooking that locks in natural flavors and keeps food moist. Foil packets are also great ways to combine an entrée with vegetables and sauce all in one neat packet.

Foil packets can be substituted with parchment packets if you prefer. When using parchment be sure to butter it well and reduce the cooking time.

Foil packets create a wonderful steamy aroma when opened at the table. They are the perfect way to tantalize an appetite! Packets can be cut in different and fun shapes like clam shells, footballs, rectangles, squares or circles.

A great time saver, packets can be prepared ahead of cooking time and popped in the oven for 30 minutes or less prior to serving.

For a quick and simple anytime dinner, try these baked in foil recipes,

Sole w/Crème Fraiche in Foil
Chicken & Pepperoni in Foil
Shrimp, Procuitto & Lemon in Foil
Chicken, Pineapple & Cherry Tomatoes in Foil

Friday, April 17, 2009

Everything Eggs!

We are fortunate enough to live on enough acreage that enables us to keep chickens. Our chickens live free range and are only fed organic feed. This combination produces the most wonderful eggs; deep orange yolks buried inside an odd variety of egg sizes and colors ranging from beige to blue. With an endless supply of eggs, I find myself compelled to dream up different ways to cook and eat eggs.

Breakfast around our house just wouldn’t be breakfast without eggs. The key to eggs for breakfast every day is to keep it interesting! Try ‘Eggs in Tomato Cups’ for a completely different presentation of and egg and a tomato. Strattas, crepes, omelets are all made completely unique by simply using whatever ingredients you have on hand. One of our favorite recipes this month is, ‘Polenta with Smoked Salmon & Poached Eggs’, the flavors compliment each other perfectly in this surprisingly delicious meal. For a great side dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner, try ‘Potato and Egg Torta’, simple to make and just as satisfying to eat.

If you’re on the go and have no time to cook a big breakfast, try my favorite quick breakfast. This is best with very fresh eggs. Simply fry two eggs in a little butter. While the eggs are frying, heat a dry cast iron skillet over high heat. When hot, place a gf corn tortlla on the skillet and cook until brown spots begin to appear on the pan side. Flip over and cook until tortilla is soft, this will only take a few minutes. Cook two tortillas this way, roll up and serve with eggs. The tortillas are delicious with soft egg yolks and perfect for mopping them up. You'’ll never miss toast again!

Cooking eggs:

Poached: Heat a fairly deep skillet of water to a simmer. When the water is simmering, carefully crack the eggs into the water. Cook the eggs at a simmer for approximately 3 minutes. You can cook longer depending on how firm you like your yolks but do not cook longer than 5 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon.

Hard boiled: Bring a pot of water to a boil relative in size to the amount of eggs you want to cook. There should be enough water to cover all the eggs. Add about a Tablespoon of salt to the water. I know that that sounds like an incredible amount of salt, but salt helps to free the egg membrane from the shell so that it is easier to peel. This is particularly true of very fresh eggs. Once the water is boiling, gently place the eggs in the water with a slotted spoon. Turn the heat down slightly so that it is still boiling, but less vigorously. Remove eggs after 8 minutes and plunge into an ice water bath to cool. Peel eggs after 1 minute. If you prefer firmer yolks, cook the eggs up to 10 minutes.

Scrambled: The best pan for scrambled or fried eggs is a non-stick skillet. It is not necessary to add any liquid to the eggs when scrambling. Just about anything can be added to scrambled eggs, salt and pepper, vegetables, cheeses, meats, fish and/or herbs. Cook the eggs over low heat and stir frequently. The eggs will continue to cook when you turn the heat off, so turn the heat off just before you think the eggs are done.

For more great egg recipes try:

Eggs Benedict
Spanish Tortilla
Shrimp Stuffed Eggs
GF Mayonnaise
Lemon Curd
Angelfood Cake with Strawberries
Creme Brulee

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Easter!

As with most holidays, creating a delicious feast can be a struggle for those on a gluten-free diet. To ease the burden, we have prepared two fabulous Easter feasts for this spring holiday. This Easter, after the bunny has finished his or her work…prepare to sit down and enjoy a wonderful gluten-free feast!


Coffee & Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
Blueberry Coffee Cake
Salmon & Asparagus Strata
Ham with Mixed Berry Glaze
Pear & Potato Gratin with Horseradish
Cheese Blintzes
Fruit Dipped in Chocolate Fondue

Mushrooms Stuffed with Prosciutto, Pecans & Gruyere
Smoked Salmon & Chives on Chips
Garlic & Herb Duck Breasts
Pilaf with Toasted Pine Nuts & Fresh Herbs
Asparagus with Toasted Almonds & Balsamic Vinegar
Fruit Salad with Gourmet Greens & Balsamic Varnish
Chocolate Chip Cake

We hope you have a lovely Easter!