Sunday, May 31, 2009

"P'otage" of Asparagus, White Wine & Lemon (Or "Creamy" Asparagus Soup Made with...Oatmeal!) for Souper Sundays

I chose this soup, "P'otage" of Asparagus, White Wine & Lemon for two reasons; the first because local asparagus was a reasonable price and looked good and the second; it uses cooked oatmeal to thicken it and make it creamy. I have used different things to thicken soup but never oatmeal, and I wanted to see if it made the soup creamy or mushy/gloppy. This recipe comes from Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon (that has to be the best name ever I think!). It is a thick book full of lots of (over 1000) vegetarian recipes as well as little side notes and bits of information on cooking tips, ingredients, life, etc. 

Finding that her tastes and palate were changing and that the richness of her favorite Asparagus-Cheese Soup with White Wine was too much, Dragonwagon created this healthier, lower-fat version. She says:  "This soup has a creamy texture, but without that too-rich feeling a high-fat soup can leave in your mouth. Although this is sparked with lemon rind and white wine, the asparagus comes through loud and clear, lightly, brightly singing its springtime refrain unmuted. Its secret is...oatmeal. I know how improbable it sounds. But cooked in the stock and then pureed in the food processor with the asparagus stalks, it creates a smoothed out amalgamation that is as pleasing as it can be. After experiencing its delights, I have developed several other "p'otages."

"P'otage" of Asparagus, White Wine & Lemon 
Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon
(Makes 4-6 Generous Servings)

6 cups vegetable stock
2 lbs fresh asparagus tough ends broken off, stems peeled if you want the finished soup super-smooth
1 1/2 cups uncooked oatmeal (rolled oats)
finely grated zest of 2 large lemons 
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 cups white wine
salt to taste

Bring 3 cups of the stock to a boil in a non-stick soup pot and drop in the asparagus. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the stock. Let the asparagus cool slightly on a cutting board.

Meanwhile, add the oatmeal to the stock in the soup pot. Bring to a boil,turn down to a simmer, and cover. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

As the oatmeal cooks, stack the asparagus  and cut off the tips, reserving them. Slice the stalks. Place the asparagus stalks in a food processor with the lemon zest and nutritional yeast. 

When the oatmeal-stock mixture has cooked, add it too, to the food processor and buzz until smooth. Return this thick puree to the soup pot. Add the wine and the remaining stock. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook, stirring often, for about 20 minutes. Taste, adding salt until it's to your liking. Serve, garnished with the reserved asparagus tips. 

Notes/Results: Good--excellent in texture, maybe a bit heavy on the wine flavor for my taste. Several times throughout the cooking, I wondered at the wisdom of trying this recipe, especially as the combined smell of asparagus and oatmeal cooking was wafting through the kitchen. In the end, I put the mushy cooked oatmeal on top of the asparagus and other ingredients in my Vita-Mix Blender, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I was surprised at how smooth and creamy the texture was and that there was no oatmeal smell or taste once it was all blended together. My only real complaint about this soup is that I wanted slightly less of a white wine taste, and after adding some lemon juice, I got that. Next time I would use just a cup or so of white wine and an extra cup of broth or some water and it would be perfect for me.

It was good served with a couple of the Moroccan-Style Bruschetta that I made for the Barefoot Bloggers "Barefoot on a Budget Challenge" and posted yesterday, for a hearty vegetarian meal.

Let's see who is in the Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sunday kitchen this week.

Starting with our soups:

Somehow I forgot to include her wonderful Matzo Ball Soup last week, (I went back and added it so if you missed it go take a look!), but there was no way I was going to leave out the fabulous Spicy Gumbo with Andouille and Bacon Wrapped Shrimp that L.K. from Healthy. Delicious. created this week! It is spicy, filling and soul-satisfying and taken over the top with the bacon wrapped shrimp garnish. L.K. says that it is "the kind of recipe that’s awesome right away, but even better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to meld."

I am so happy to see Singing Horse from The Peaceable Kingdom back this week and with a earthy and hearty Porcini Mushroom Soup. Adapting a recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, and adding some jasmine rice for extra texture, Singing Horse says that this soup is "a total comfort food for people who don't have too much time to prepare an elaborate meal but still desire a delish treat on a busy day."  Welcome back Singing Horse!

It is nice to have Donna from My Tasty Treasures back this week too. She decided to take advantage of some cooler, rainy weather in her area and a leftover ham bone to make a thick and filling Ham and Split Pea Soup. Slow simmered with potatoes, veggies and lots of green split peas, Donna says to "drizzle it with a little balsamic", "grab some crusty bread" and you will be all set to enjoy this delicious soup!

Ulrike from Küchenlatein has a low calorie Courgette/Zucchini and Potato Soup with Meat Balls to share this week. Ulrike says that this soup with it's low-calorie lean beef mince meatballs made with a teaspoon of quark cheese instead of an egg in them, is "really tasty" and also provides satisfaction for only 5 points if you are following the Weight Watcher's program. 

Making her first pot of Chicken Tortilla Soup is Lissaloo from One Step at a Time. It is hearty, filling and full of all kinds of good things like shredded chicken, black beans, veggies and spices. Although she found the soup to be "pretty good",  Lissaloo wants to tinker with the recipe on her next round to make it "perfect" and get even more flavor from additional spices. 

Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness is here with a Mirin Chicken with Ramen Noodles Soup this week. The chicken cutlets (or Quorn if making it vegetarian) are marinated with a reduction of mirin, soy sauce, broth, & sugar, then seared and sliced. Next it is added to some ramen noodles, a dashi stock is poured over the top and it is garnished with grated ginger & daikon matchsticks. Stephanie says "the noodles are fun" and "it is a good soup!"

And we have a couple of fun sandwiches this week too!

Our favorite pair, Crystal and Amir from The Duo Dishes, have taken the classic P,B & J to a new level with their Grilled Honey Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jelly Sandwiches. Featuring homemade peanut butter, (who knew it was so easy to make!?) and homemade jelly with fresh strawberries and port wine, then topped with bananas and grilled, this is one yummy sandwich!

Also elevating a classic is Joanne at Eats Well With Others who needed a quick. simple and delicious dinner after spending "a zillion" hours on plane rides back from a fabulous and fun vacation. She put a twist on grilled cheese with her Grilled Cheese with Artichokes and Red Peppers. With provolone, red bell peppers and artichoke hearts, and toasted like a panini, it was the perfect late night meal!

And we have one scrumptious looking combo!

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies came up with a "Summer Soup & Sammie" combination, perfect for the warmer weather. First a bowl of Alan Harding's Chilled Cucumber Soup from The New York Times Country Weekend Cookbook, served with Curry Chicken Salad from The Barefoot Contessa, served on her homemade cranberry-pecan buns. A little curry powder in each dish, spices up this healthy, hearty meal.

An excellent turn out this week and lots of great soup and sandwich recipes! Thanks to everyone who joined in Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays this week. If you have a soup, salad, sandwich or combination of any of the above to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all the guidelines and details.

Have a great week!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Moroccan-Style "Bruschetta" -- Barefoot on a Budget Challenge

This month our new optional "Barefoot on a Budget" challenge was "Bruschetta on a Budget", making over Ina's Bruschetta with Sauteed Sweet Peppers and Creamy Gorgonzola, (recipe here). The gist of the Barefoot on a Budget challenge is to take one of Ina's recipes and re-do it to make it more budget-friendly. According to the guidelines, we can change the ingredients, cooking method or even the format of the recipe (i.e. turning a cake into pancakes), as long as the end result somewhat resembles the original recipe. I also use it as an opportunity to lighten up Ina a bit, and make a healthy recipe too. Last month, our first BOAB challenge was remaking her Lobster Cobb Salad Rolls which I changed into Salmon Nicoise Salad Rolls.

In her bruschetta recipe, Ina sautes red and yellow bell peppers with capers and basil and serves it on a toasted baguette with creamy Gorgonzola cheese. I kept the peppers, buying a bag of mini sweet red, yellow and orange peppers at the Thai market for $2.00 and kept the idea of a bruschetta-style appetizer. For the budget part, I decided to go through my pantry, fridge and freezer and use just ingredients I had on hand. The result? A healthy and delicious Moroccan-Style "Bruschetta" with Lentils, Sweet Peppers, Yogurt Cheese, Pine Nuts & Spices. This recipe pulls together some simple ingredients into something a little more exotic--it could/should probably be called "Middle-Eastern-Style Bruschetta" but because of the spices in the lentils, the pine nuts and mint, I went with "Moroccan-Style"!

Moroccan-Style "Bruschetta" with Lentils, Sweet Peppers, Yogurt Cheese, Pine Nuts & Spices
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

*1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt, (strained overnight to make yogurt cheese)

For lentils:
2 cups water or stock
1/2 cup dried green/brown lentils
1/2 tsp ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

whole wheat pita bread or flatbread
olive oil (1 tsp for sauteing, extra to brush on bread)
sweet red or yellow peppers or red and yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
pine nuts
Za'atar spice blend and fresh mint leaves to garnish

*Place yogurt in cheesecloth or yogurt strainer over bowl to drain. Cover top with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night until it is the consistency of cream cheese.  

Place dried lentils in water with spices and garlic. Bring to a boil and cook until lentils are just tender, about 25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut whole grain pita into small rounds. (You can get about 5 rounds from 1 large pita). Brush rounds very lightly with olive oil on one side and place in oven. Bake about 8-10 minutes until they are lightly browned and crisp. Remove and let cool slightly.

While rounds are baking, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a small saute pan. Add sweet pepper slices and cook about 5 minutes. Add pine nuts and cook about another 5 minutes, until peppers are soft. Set aside.

To assemble "bruschetta": Place about 1 Tbsp lentils on pita. Top with 1 rounded tsp of yogurt cheese. Add pepper/pine nut mixture to lightly cover. Sprinkle with Za'atar spice mix and garnish with a fresh mint leaf. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Alternatively, you can omit the lentils and top pita rounds with about 1 rounded Tbsp of yogurt cheese and finish topping with other ingredients per above instructions.

Notes/Results: These were SO GOOD! I mean REALLY good! The pita was nice and crunchy, the lentils lightly spicy and the cooling cheese and sweet peppers were amazing. There is a nice little hit of spice and mint in each bite too. I tried making some of them without the lentils, and although the lentils were very tasty, I liked the ones with just the yogurt and peppers just a bit better because the sweetness of the peppers really came out. Because I had all the ingredients on hand, my only cost was for the peppers. I almost always have non-fat Greek yogurt and fresh mint in my fridge and pine nuts and whole-grain flatbread in my freezer. The Za'atar blend, I had in with all my spices, but if you don't have it you can put one together with some dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, mixed with some toasted sesame seeds and a little salt. I just made a few of these to try out and eat to with some soup for tomorrow's Souper Sunday post, but these will go on my pupu (appetizer) list for the next party I go to. They are easy to put together (you can make them even easier with canned lentils and store bought yogurt cheese or "labneh" if you don't want to plan ahead), tasty and healthy too and lend an exotic, fun air to any appetizer plate.

You can see how the other Barefoot Bloggers taking the Barefoot on a Budget Challenge adapted Ina's recipe and made it budget-friendly by going to the BB site, here.  I think most people will be posting this on Sunday--I just went a day early. ;-)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stuffed Baby Eggplant for Tyler Florence Fridays

After finding some baby eggplant at the Thai market, I wanted to find a great recipe to use them in, so of course I went to Tyler. He had two recipes that I was torn between, in what is probably my favorite Tyler cookbook; Eat This Book: Cooking With Global Fresh Flavors. (In addition to the great recipes in this book, sometimes I just like to stare at the cover!) 

The first recipe had the eggplant sliced in a curry sauce and then there was this one for Baby Eggplants Stuffed with Lamb, Lemon and Mint, made with ground meat, tomato and spices. I had a tough time choosing, but the idea of stuffing the little eggplant won out. Ground lamb is a bit "hit or miss" to find here, so I used some ground buffalo which is rich tasting, leaner than lamb and has lots of protein. 

This recipe can also be found at the Food Network site (as Stuffed Baby Eggplant from Food 911) here, and is on page 58 of Eat This Book.

Tyler says: "Lamb and eggplant is a combination that travels across the culinary map from Northern Africa to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. This is my take on a Turkish dish of stuffed eggplants called imam bayildi--stuffed eggplant. If you can't find ground lamb, ground beef or pork will work just as well."

Stuffed Baby Eggplant (with Buffalo, Lemon and Mint)
Tyler Florence
(4-6 Servings)

8 baby eggplants, about the size of a lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 shallots, minced
4 garlic cloves
2 pounds ground lamb* (The book says 1 lb)
3 large vine-ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, reserve some for garnish
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 lemon, juiced
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 lemon, sliced paper-thin

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a paring knife, cut a wedge out of each eggplant, from stem to base, just large enough to stick a spoon inside and scoop out the flesh inside. Discard the flesh you scoop out.

Coat a large saute pan with the oil and place over medium flame. Lightly fry the eggplants on all sides, until slightly charred and blistered; remove to a platter and set aside.

Return the pan to the heat and add the shallots and garlic, saute for 5 minutes, until soft and golden brown. Add the ground lamb to the pan and brown the meat well, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Stir in the tomatoes, combine well, and let simmer for 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Toss in a couple of handfuls of the parsley, the mint, and lemon juice; continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the stuffing cool slightly. Using a spoon, stuff the lamb filling into the eggplants until they feel full, but not overly packed.

Arrange the eggplants in a single layer in a large saucepan, pour the chicken stock over them and lay the lemon slices on top of each eggplant, drizzle with some more olive oil. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until fork tender.

Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.

Notes/Results: Yum! I loved the lemon and mint and the way it complimented the ground meat, tomato and eggplant. There were no pictures of this dish and I wasn't quite sure how it was supposed to look so I just went for it. My baby eggplants were a bit smaller than lemons (as the recipe specifies), they were more like small limes so I watched the cooking time carefully so as not to have "mushy" eggplant, (A pet peeve of mine). I baked these for just about 20 minutes and they seemed right. I also cut the stuffing recipe in half and still had just a bit leftover from my eleven little eggplant. A note; the Internet recipe above, makes a larger quantity of stuffing than then book does, (the book calls for 1 lb lamb, two tomatoes, 1/2 bunch of parley, etc.) and the book's proportions make more sense based on the size and amount of eggplant you are stuffing with the mixture. 

These were great served with some leftover Israeli couscous  and raita (cucumber-yogurt sauce), that I made from a cookbook I am reviewing, (will post that review early next week). I think that with the smaller eggplant, they would also be fun as an appetizer, passed on little plates. The flavor was good, but I think next time, I would add some cayenne or some hot pepper to the mix--just for a little pop. My raita had some spice and it really added to the flavor. Not the prettiest dish in town but it is tasty and I would make them again. And BTW, since I had such a hard time choosing between this recipe and the curry dish, I bought some more eggplant today and will be making that dish for next week. 

You can see what recipes the other Tyler Florence Friday participants selected for this week and what they thought of them by going to the TFF website here.

Happy Aloha Friday!  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ina's Outrageous Brownies--Barefoot Bloggers

Our second Barefoot Bloggers regular recipe pick for May is Ina's Outrageous Brownies and was selected by Eva at I'm Boring. If you came by to see how I "healthified" these babies, sorry to disappoint you but I didn't! Some things, like brownies, belong on the "don't mess with it" list. You either go big or you go home, don't try using less sugar or cutting the (gulp!) pound of butter. In this case, I went solely for the portion control plan--making a half batch, keeping a couple and getting the rest out of the house and on someone else's hips. In fact I even went so far as to take out the only healthy, redeeming part of this recipe, the walnuts. For some reason, I just I don't like the texture of nuts messing up the gooey/chewiness factor of a good brownie. To replace them, I added just what this brownie needed, more chocolate! A mix of white, milk chocolate and semi-sweet chips to make them even more decadent. (Not that they needed any help!) Otherwise I left the recipe the same. 

This recipe can be found at the Food Network here or in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (page 172). They were adapted from a recipe for "chocolate globs" in the Soho Charcuterie Cookbook.

Outrageous Brownies
Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
(Makes 20 Large Brownies)

1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups diced walnut pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well and cut into squares.

Notes/Results: As brownies go, these earn their name, they are pretty outrageous; decadent, chocolaty, and very, very good. At first I thought I might have under-baked them a bit too much, then I was convinced that I over-baked them. (Just a little brownie paranoia brought on by the "Do not over-bake!" on the recipe). Finally, once they cooled, I decided that they were just about right and just as moist, and actually even better after a day or two wrapped up in the fridge. The instant coffee powder made them nice and rich and I liked the the different kinds of chocolate chips in each bite. Even a half batch made way more than enough brownies; you need a crowd for these and they are so rich, a little goes a long way. 

Thanks Eva for a fun and delicious pick!  You can see what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought of this recipe by going to the BB site here

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Two Simple "Sandwiches" for Summer

It's been warm and muggy this week, the kind of weather that makes me not want to mess too much with dinner but I still want something good. "Sandwiches" fit the bill here, but not just any plain old sandwiches; less traditional ones that have lots of flavor and personality and that leave me craving more. Here are two of my recent favorites. 

The first is made with Pinto Bean Patties from a recipe from one of the vegetarian cooking classes I have been taking. They are great on flatbread, a bun, a wrap or, as in this case, served open-faced on a warm corn tortilla, with lettuce, cotja cheese, guacamole and cilantro on top. 

Pinto Bean Patties with Guacamole Topping 
Chef Alyssa Moreau
(Makes 4 patties)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp each cumin, chili powder and oregano
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
dash cayenne or Tabasco (to taste)
2 Tbsp sliced black olives
1/2 cup grated cheese* (jack or cheddar)
1/2 cup crushed baked tortilla chips or rice chips
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup panko for crust on outside of patty (optional)

Guacamole Topping
2 cups ripe avocado
2 Tbsp tomato, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
cayenne to taste
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste

For patties: 
Heat oil in a medium skillet and saute onions and bell peppers for about 5 minutes, until onions are tender and translucent. Add in the garlic, cook a few minutes and add the spices. Mash pinto beans in a bowl with a tomato masher. Add in the sauteed vegetables, and rest of ingredients. Shape into patties, roll in panko and pan-fry (non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron skillet works well here), on both sides until crispy and browned, (they can also can be baked at 350 degree F. oven for 20-30 minutes).

For topping:
Mash all together, adjust flavors to taste. 

*Vegan option: replace cheese with 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Notes/Results: These patties are a go-to recipe for me. I make them with whatever canned or leftover beans I have on hand (pinto, kidney, black beans, etc.) and whatever I have in the house. I usually replace the olives in the recipe with canned green chilies and to save a few calories, leave the cheese out of the patty and sprinkle some on top. These have blue corn chips in them and whole wheat panko crumbs to coat but you can make them gluten-free by using rice chips and leaving off the panko. These are great in any kind of bun or bread, or sometimes I just eat them on top of salad.

The second, Grilled Sausage, Onions  & Pepper on Flatbread, satisfies my cravings  for sausage and peppers in a healthier way. It is so easy it isn't really a recipe, I just slice a chicken or turkey sausage (these are aidells Artichoke and Garlic sausages), and saute it (in just a little olive oil), with sliced sweet onions, sweet peppers, garlic, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, I heat some whole wheat flatbread, and mix a sauce with some non-fat Greek yogurt and a little Dijon mustard. I spread 1/2 the warmed flatbread with the sauce, add the sausage mix and top with a little cheese (in this case some chevre), and fold the bread over. Delicious and served with a simple salad, it is a satisfying meal. 

Both of these make a quick, easy, healthy and delicious lunch or dinner and they are a nice change of pace from a larger meal in the warmer weather. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cookbook Review: Gluten Free Everyday Cookbook

If you have spent any time on my blog you are probably wondering what I am doing reviewing a gluten-free cookbook; after all, you will find plenty of pasta, bread, cakes and cookies on here. Since I have a few friends who must eat gluten-free and I am always interested in learning about cooking for different dietary needs, I jumped at the chance to review the Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook by Robert M. Landolphi. Landolphini is a gluten-free chef and a graduate of the prestigious Johnson and Wales University culinary school. He began experimenting and perfecting his gluten-free cooking after his wife was diagnosed with celiac disease, because he wanted to give her back some of the foods and flavors she was missing. The cookbook is filled with over 100 recipes for every part of the meal from soups to side dishes, entrees and breads and plenty of desserts; like pies, cakes, cookies and cobblers. There were lots of delicious-sounding recipes to choose from. 

Not having a lot of practice cooking gluten-free, the most valuable section in the book for me became Landolphi's chapter on "Gluten-Free Basics", which contains comprehensive information on the numerous flours, starches, nut meals and seeds that are used in gluten-free cooking. This section includes information on the taste, appearance, nutritional value and even storage guidelines of these ingredients and is very helpful to the less-experienced GF cook. There is also a list of gluten-free brands and specific products. I was amazed at how many GF ingredients and products that I could find here in Hawaii in grocery stores, Whole Foods, and natural foods stores; although a couple of ingredients proved to be a bit elusive at my usual haunts. Landolphi also has another chapter on gluten-free eating out and a list of GF resources in the back of the book.

Information on the book states that "flavor does not have to be compromised in gluten-free recipes" and his "recipes are so good that no one will miss the wheat". I decided to put that to the test by trying five different recipes.   

My first pick, and what is normally a favorite dish of mine was the Chicken Picatta. The Gluten Free Every Day version uses a combination of cornstarch and tapioca flour to bread the chicken and has a sauce with lots of lemon, capers and white wine. It was delicious and just as flavorful as my normal chicken picatta recipe. I served it with some gluten-free pasta in order to soak up the lovely sauce. It was excellent re-heated the next day too. 

Next I tried the Smoked Gouda Polenta from the Side Dish section and found it to be creamy, cheesy and delicious--of course it is hard to go wrong with smoked Gouda! I learned something interesting with this recipe; I thought all cornmeal was gluten-free because it is made from corn and doesn't contain wheat, but the challenge is in the processing. Unless it is processed in a GF factory or section of the factory, it can face cross-contamination, so if your corn meal doesn't specifically say gluten-free on the package, you cannot assume that it is. 

The Parmesan Popover Bites were interesting. The book says these little nibbles are "crispy on the outside yet light and airy on the inside and a delicious substitute for the dinner roll." I'm not sure if it was the recipe or something I did, but I found them crispy on the outside and chewy, almost a bit rubbery inside. Even if they were not flaky, the flavor was cheesy and good, and they were oddly addicting.

The flavor of the Chocolate-Banana Bread was excellent and I liked the idea of layering the chocolate chip/walnut mixture in two layers in the loaf, but my loaf sank and seemed a bit too brown on the outside and a bit undone on the inside. Not being a baker, I am not sure what the issue was but this was the recipe I had the biggest challenge with. Because I liked the flavor, I am going to try this recipe again, this time as muffins, an alternative suggested in the book. 

Finally I made the Lemony Almond Cake, made with ground, slivered almonds instead of flour and lots of lemon zest for a tangy flavor. This was a great little cake, the eggs are whipped so it has a light texture with the crunchy almonds mixed in. Very easy to make and a a great summer dessert, served with berries. 

There are still some recipes I want to try--I wanted to make a couple of the "bars", like the Luscious Lemony Chestnut Bars and the Almond Fudge Bars but couldn't find any chestnut flour. I also couldn't locate the GF arrowroot cookies to make the Vanilla Cookie Piecrust for a couple of the pies. I'm going to keep looking for it--there are a couple of places I didn't get a chance to check. I have some more recipes tagged and a lot of GF flours to use, so I will continue to cook from the book. 

Overall, I like this book and it was interesting and fun to get a good look at the basics of gluten-free cooking and try my hand at it. Although the ingredients may not be that familiar to me, the recipes themselves are classic and pretty simple to make. At no time did I feel I was missing something in the flavor or texture by not having the wheat or gluten in there. There are no pictures, but again the recipes are classic enough, you don't really need them. I would recommend Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook to the new or newer gluten-free cook or to anyone who wants to learn more about how to cook for someone avoiding gluten.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Indonesian Corn Chowder for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Better late than never! This is the soup I made for last week but being sick, I just didn't feel like finishing it or taking pictures of it for last Sunday. It would be a shame if I hadn't posted it though, because this soup is a good one. This Indonesian Corn Chowder comes from The Healthy Hedonist: More Than 200 Delectable Flexitarian Recipes for Relaxed Daily Feasts by Myra Kornfeld. This book has a lot of great recipes; plenty of vegetarian ones and some with fish and chicken. I had the soup tagged and had to make it when the "corn lady" was parked near my house. With her beat-up truck, homemade sign and lawn chair, she sells ears of local corn by the bag. It's fresh, and because it's Ewa Sweet Corn, it is very flavorful and has a nice, natural sweetness, making it perfect for a soup like this where the corn is the star of the show. 

Myra Kornfeld says: "Flecks of corn, tomato and cilantro float on a flavorful creamy corn base in this chowder. The lemon grass, chilies, ginger and cilantro stems infuse the soup with great flavor."

Indonesian Corn Chowder
The Healthy Hedonist by Myra Kornfeld
(Serves 4-6)

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 carrot, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 celery stock, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
6 cups corn kernels (from 6 to 8 ears fresh corn)
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, cut into thirds
10 cilantro stems
2 jalapeno peppers, halved
one 2-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled, cut into 4 thin slices
4 1/2 cups water
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into small dice
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and saute until softened, 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 4 1/2 cups of corn kernels, and saute for 2 more minutes.

Tie the lemongrass, cilantro stems, peppers and ginger in a cheesecloth bundle and add it to the vegetables. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil. Stir in 1 tsp salt, lower the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the herb bouquet and discard it. Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the soup through a strainer into a saucepan, stirring it with a wooden spoon to help push the soup through the mesh. Discard the fibrous pulp left in the strainer. 

Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups corn and simmer for a couple of minutes to cook the corn. Stir the tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice into the soup. Taste , and add up to 1/4 tsp salt if necessary. Serve hot.

*Note: To tie a cheesecloth bundle, open the cheesecloth , place the ingredients inside, and roll the parcel into a tube. Pull the ends together to tie the bundle; there's no need for string

Notes/Results: Excellent! This is a thick, hearty soup with a bright, gorgeous sunshine color and a great combination of flavors. There is the sweetness of the corn, the tangy lime, and a subtle heat from the chili. The author recommends the soup be served and eaten hot, but it is actually very tasty at room temperature and cold too. You could make it with frozen corn, but this soup is a great way to use up fresh corn as it becomes available in your area. I would make this again.

Let's take a look at who is joining us for Souper (Soup, Salad and Sammie) Sundays on this Memorial Day weekend.

L.K.from Healthy. Delicious., is ready for a Throw Down with Bobby Flay. After watching the episode with the dueling Matzo Ball Soups, she created her own. Using tricks from the show the slow-cooked broth from scratch, some "schmaltz" (rendered chicken fat) in her matzoh balls, and a jalapeno in the broth, she made a bowl of soup just as good as the one she had while in New York last year. This is one gorgeous bowl of soup!

Graziana from Erbe in Cucina is here with a lovely "Zuppa di fave e ment" or Broad Beans Soup with Mint. If you are not familiar with "broad beans", you may know them as fava beans. In this soup they are pureed with bacon, potato, carrot, celery, onion and mint. Graziana says that the mint "adds a fresh aroma to this creamy soup."  

Although some said it would never happen, I never doubted that Joanne, my soup indifferent friend from Eats Well With Others, would find a soup that she liked! She is here with a Chilled Summer Squash Soup with Curry. Cooking her way through Bon Appetit's Fast/Easy/Fresh, she found this soup and ended up really liking it, both warm and cold. Welcome to the world of soup Joanne! ;-)

After taking a blogging mini-break and regaining her motivation, Kim from Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet is back this week with another soup for her vegetarian, asparagus-loving friend Kassie. Kim says that this Asparagus Soup is not only quick and easy to make, it is delicious  and a great way to eat healthy asparagus too.

Kristin of Whatcha Eatin? was doing a fridge clean-out and found a bunch of potatoes she needed to use up. Soup was her first thought, followed closely by Baked Potato Soup, so she came up with a recipe full of herbs, cheese and sour cream that had her husband exclaiming, "you are getting really good at this!"  Just the kind of praise we all like to hear!

A sick hubby in the house, Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness, worked some magic with the remains from a smoked chicken he had cooked that week, and created a simple "Feel Better" Soup. With the rich stock, simmered with ginger and some kaffir lime leaves, and some rice noodles thrown in at the end, Stephanie says it might not look like much, but according to Matt, it was "amazing!", especially when eaten with his Star Trek "spork"!

Making sure the salads get their representation this week, is Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. After a burger-heavy Birthday lunch for her son, Natashya decided to lighten things up for dinner with this healthy, balanced Mediterranean Chickpea Salad. Full of salmon, veggies, garbanzo beans and herbs, it is filling and she says if it isn't enough for a "manly dinner", they can have another bowl!

Also feeling the call of salad is Heather at girlichef, who put the delicious leftover bounty from the grill to good use with her Grilled Southwest Salad-2 Ways. At Heather's house, you get a choice of grilled Mexican-style steak slices or honey-chipotle chicken on your salad. With black beans, avocado, cheese, tortilla strips and lime vinaigrette, Heather says it is the perfect salad for a steamy weekend. I'll have some of each please!

Beautiful soups and salads this week! Thanks to all who joined us for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays. If you have a soup, salad, sandwich or any combination of the three, that you would like to share, click on the Souper Sunday logo on the sidebar for all the details. 

Have a wonderful Memorial Day holiday tomorrow, if you here in the U.S., and a wonderful week wherever you are.