Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Swedish Meatballs - Bork Bork

Okay...am I the only one who remembers the Muppets? And the Swedish Chef? Bork Bork! :D A favorite from my youth, to be sure! :D

Wait...why am I thinking all this????

WELLL.....a couple years ago, we moved from AZ to PA - well, BACK to PA. Before the move, we streamlined and sold a lot of our things...including our furniture. As a matter of fact - my husband sold our bed right out from under me! We hadn't planned on selling the mattress too...but someone said they would give us our price on the furniture if we included the mattress - it was 10 years old...we let it go. And slept on the floor that night, yes. Well, I digress. Since we had sold all of our furniture, when we got to PA (and after our lovely stint in a townhouse rental with no real furniture except our bed we bought when we got here!) we bought a house. A blank slate. We needed almost everything. :D

Being back in PA meant we would do shopping at IKEA. We love IKEA. Our kids love IKEA - who wouldn't love a store that has childcare, huh? We loved looking, dreaming, scheming, coming up with ideas on what to do and how to do it. But I think the favorite for the kids would be after we would finish shopping, we'd pick them up from the child care room and then go upstairs to the cafeteria and have lunch. My eldest's favorite, by far, was the swedish meatballs in gravy with roasted red potatoes. Little tiny balls of meat, smothered in a creamy dreamy sour cream gravy. Makes my mouth water just thinking about them. IKEA even has a little food store in it where you can buy the premade meatballs, and the sauce mix and make them at home. And I did, often. Well, until January when I went gluten free. Of course, premade meatballs have bread crumbs in them, and a cream sauce mix would have wheat flour in them. Yes. They do. BOOO HOOOOOO!!!!

My husband made swedish meatballs a few times, and while the meatball was right, the gravy just wasn't the same. The following recipe is part his, part mine, but all delicious. It started again a few nights ago, we mentioned IKEA and my daughter said "I want swedish meatballs". So...with the love of my daughter in my heart, and 2 lbs. of ground turkey defrosted, I set to work to create a substitute for IKEA Swedish Meatballs.

Please note, I use powdered spices in this recipe - and while normally, I'm a purist using whole ingredients, I detest watching my children pick out onions and stuff from their food! Hence the powdered spices in meatballs! :D

Bork Bork.

Swedish Meatballs in Sour Cream Gravy

2 lbs ground meat (turkey, beef, chicken)
2 Tsp garlic powder
2 Tsp onion powder
1 Tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp ground nutmeg (freshly, if you have the means)
dash of salt & pepper
1 egg
1/2 Cup gluten-free bread crumbs (I use the breadcrumbs I make from Gluten-Free Flax Bread)

1 boullion cube (I use Hormel Herb-Ox brand as it is on their gluten-free list)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light cream or whole milk
1 cup sour cream

In a large bowl, mix meat, spices, gluten-free bread crumbs and egg together.

In a large skillet, preheat with 2 tbs olive oil. Using a small cookie scoop (or tbs measure) make 3/4" meatballs and place around the preheated pan. Cover and allow to cook for about 5 minutes - or until the bottoms are slightly crusted (the tops will be "steamed" from covering the pan). Carefully flip the meatballs around. Cover and cook another 5 to 10 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a microwave safe bowl heat the boullion cube and water (I crushed up my cube slightly so that it would dissolve). Mix the water/boullion mixture with the cream and sour cream well. Set aside.

Uncover meatballs and add the sour cream mixture...making sure to scrape up bits from the pan as you stir it in. Allow it to come to temperature, and cook almost to boiling for about 3 minutes - stirring to coat all the meatballs as you do this.

Serve immediately. I served with oven roasted red potatoes - I cut into bite sized chunks, added about 3 Tbs olive oil, salt and pepper and mixed....baked for about 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven...stirring every 20 minutes or so. :D


Monday, August 20, 2007

Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Okay, so when I was listing my favorite things, I should have included the recipe for the Gluten-free Yellow Cake from Allrecipes.com . I alter the recipe slightly. I half it - to make 12 cupcakes - and I add 2 to 3 Tablespoons of vanilla pudding powder to the dry ingredients. I feel this gives it more punch of vanilla taste, and it also gives it more of a texture of a "cake mix" cake.

I make these as cupcakes. This last time, my daughter wanted chocolate frosting. I'm not a pro at frosting yet, so I tried my hand at a ganache. In a recent article in Food & Wine magazine they had listed a whipped ganache frosting. I lost the magazine of course, so I decided to guess what it would be like.

This turned out so yummy and fudgey on top of the cupcakes, that I made them two days in a row! LOL.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting

1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs milk
2 Cups powdered sugar

Mix chips, butter, milk in a microwave safe bowl. Melt at 30 second increments, stirring each time.

Once chips are melted, pour into the mixer bowl with the whipping attachement. Add 1 cup powdered sugar while on lowest setting - 1/4 cup at a time. Once that is in well, add the 2nd cup (see note) same way. THEN...let hit whip on high speed for about 4 minutes.

Dip the cupcakes in, swirl around a little bit to get them coated ontop. I continued swirling as I lifted them off the ganache to give them that little swirl effect on top.

NOTE: I would start with the 1 cup powdered sugar, add the 2nd cup 1/4 cup at a time and stop when the consistency is where YOU like it. If you like it thinner, etc...use less...if you want it more like a true frosting, use more).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

These are a few of my favorite (gluten-free) things...

Okay, so no singing on hillsids, or convents, or clothing made out of drapes, mind you....but a few things that have grown to favorites over the past few months of going gluten-free for better health. These are in no particular order because I like them all!

1. Laurie150's Gluten Free Flax Bread - okay, so this one is not a convenience food, but it's worth all the effort to have a bread that tastes real. Since I'm the only true gluten free person in the house, I usually eat about half of the loaf and grind the rest for bread crumbs after about two days.

2. Van's Wheat Free Waffles - I know there is controversy over this one, and that some in the gluten-free world won't partake. I have eaten Van's waffles for 8 months with no glutening issues from them. I'm pretty sensitive, too, so to me, no reaction for 8 months puts them on my safe list. My favorite are the Gluten-free Flax waffles. The flax seed adds extra flavor and definitely fiber!

3. Glutino Plain Bagels - recently, my Whole Foods gave me a package of these bagels. I had gone in looking for Foods By George English Muffins, they clerk said they were out and not sure if they were getting more back in any time soon. He took a package of the Glutino Bagels up front, had them mark it paid for me so I could try. I was quite hesitant, the last free offering I got from anywhere was something I did not enjoy too much. These are DELICIOUS! Taste very similarly to a regular gluten bagel, texture is somewhat different...but they toast so nicely and are great with cream cheese, jelly, or as a pizza bagel! :D

4. Jigsaw Bars - now, I received a free box of these when I first started this blog, and promised to give a review and never did (please forgive me! Pleed three kids, homeschooling two!). My kids absolutely adore the chocolate ones, which are so rich even they cannot get thru a whole bar and must split one! I love the fact that they are getting something they feel is a chocolate treat, but are also getting some great vitamins and Omega-3's in there to boot! BRAVO Jigsaw! My favorite is the coconut almond, nice chewy texture and a great coconut flavor with the crunch of almonds. I love having one in my bag in case I'm faced with a place where I'm hungry and cannot eat!

5. Wendy's Ulitmate Grilled Chicken Sandwich, bunless of course. Our local Wendy's does this one up pretty proud. Verfied on Wendy's site as all gluten free. I have not been glutened once! I do avoid the fries even though they say they go in a separate fryer...I'd rather be safe. I love the juicy chicken with the lettuce and tomato and the sauce. Very tasty, and filling without sides.

6. Envirokids Panda Puffs. Yes, I know this is supposed to be a children's cereal, but being one who used to indulge in a box of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch every now and then (and would hide it from the kids!), these fill the bill without making me sick!

7. Thai Kitchen Soups - okay, so my favorite is Bangkok Curry with some shrimp added. The fact that the company has a list of gluten-free items, and seems to go out of their way to make something easy and delicious, puts them in top billing in my book!

8. Club Lettucewiches....well...okay, so there's no bread in my club. I love using a Romaine Leaf as the bread - not to mention the lettuce in a club. Wrap turkey, american cheese, tomatoes and bacon in a romaine leaf, and you have a Club Lettucewich! So good! :D

9. Homemade Ice Cream. Something that I had tried only a few times prior to going gluten-free. However, my fears of cross contamination have caused me to try it again. I am now addicted to homemade frozen treats of any sort! If you walk in my house, you'll most likely hear the whirring of my Cuisinart!

10. Corn tortillas. Okay, so this is something I liked before going gluten-free....but I like them even more now. Whether it be big white corn tortillas stuffed with all sorts of taco goodness, or the corn chips that I crunch on top of my salad like croutons, they are delicious! :D

Okay, that's my 10 top favs right now. Who knows how it will change in a year! :D

Monday, August 6, 2007

Hong Shao Rou - Red Pork

Well, Julia has left us. On Sunday morning she boarded a bus to take her to the airport. She'll be on the west coast for 7 days and then will return home to China. I have shed many tears over the last two days. I'm amazed at how attached I got to this stranger in just 3 short weeks. They seemed to go by in a blink. I had so much fun having her here, and even though there was a little extra work and extra driving, every minute was worth it. She was such a joy to have here, and I hope she had as much fun with us as we did with her.

Our last full day with Julia was a relaxing one. She and I again went to the Asian Market and got ingredients for dinner. She made Hong Shao Rou - or "Red Pork". It's basically a chinese barbeque pork, with a little more kick. Again, we had to sub some ingredients b/c of the gluten issue, but we were able to come up with alternatives that were just as good. So, although the dish is mostly a "chinese" dish, it was cooked in more of a South Korean method.

The recipe calls for a "glutenous" fermented rice drink. WE had to be a little careful on this one. Basically, it is a fermented sweet rice drink - the gluten is a RICE gluten, but there were a few that had malt added. You could always use rice milk and add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar to make it sweeter.

Also, she used Pork Loin which ended up being a little dry in the end product. I would recommend using a pork butt instead since that cut lends itself better for braising - or get a whole loin and don't cut it until after it's braised in the cooking liquid for the allotted time. We purchased boneless loin chops and cut it into square. It was very tasty. We made Chinese French Fries to go with it - amazingly similar to american fries - basically deep fried potatoes, nothing extra! :D

Hong Shou Rou - Red Pork

1 1/2 Cup Water
2 Cups Fermented Glutenous Rice (don't let the name scare you) - SEE ABOVE NOTE
2 Tbs sugar (only add if you don't use rice milk as a sub for the FGR)
1/4 Cup Gluten Free Soy Sauce (We again, used San-J Wheat Free Tamari)
1/2 Cup Hot Bean Paste (I was wondering what we were going to do with that from last week!!!)
2 lbs Pork Loin - or another cut that lends itself to braising for a long time

Mix water, FGR (or rice milk and sugar), soy sauce, hot bean paste together and stir well. Bring to a boil. Add pork. Return to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to a very low simmer. Cook on low for 4 hours (you could also move to a slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours).

There are two ways - we used pork loin chops and cut into 1" squares BEFORE COOKING. I think that if you did a whole loin roast and cut after the fact it would be a little juicier - or use a Boston Butt Cut and it would be more like a shredded pork.

SO YUM... :D

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hui Guo Pork (Back to the Pot Pork)

Yes, another chinese pork and pepper dish, but this one was MUCH different. The peppers were a little spicy, the sauce was a little spicy. It was not overpowering at all, and had a cumulative effect on the spice, so by the time you finished, you had a nice little spice burn going in your mouth. It was very good.

Pork bellies are basically uncured bacon in large slabs. There are quite a few steps to this, and I do recommend if you can get the porkbellies with skin on, it DOES make a difference in the flavor.

The other caution I have is look at the Hot Bean Paste VERY CAREFULLY. I ended up buying a store brand of it b/c it did not contain wheat...we went thru SEVERAL AISLES of bean and pepper pastes before we found one without wheat. The one we ended up with was made by the store we went to and was fresh. VERY GOOD. There are recipes for Hot bean paste in chinese cookbooks, so you can make your own, but it does take a long time.

Spicy Pork Belly & Peppers

4 lbs Pork Bellies with skins
5 or 6 Korean Green Peppers (look like an Italian Sweet Pepper or a Cubano)
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Hot bean paste (see note above!)
Salt to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boiling. While it's boiling cut pork bellies into 1/2 lb portions. Scrape the skin with the back of the knife to remove any hair or dirt. For now, leave skin and fat in tact.

Also, cut peppers, remove seeds, and cut in long thin strips (julliene)

Once water is boiling, place pork bellies in the water for about 5 minutes. This step is to wash and cleanse it. I couldn't tell if it was a "spiritual" step or just a cooking step! After about 5 minutes, pull meat out of the pot and allow to drain. Cover with foil and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, cut skin and MOST (not all) of the fat off the pork. You can leave the skin. We did. BUT it is not necessary at this step. It did seem to really increase the flavor of the end product, but you don't eat the skin, we all kind of had a little pile of pigskin on our plates when done.

Slice the pork meat (with some fat) into long thin strips.

Heat 3 Tbs Oil in a wok or large skillet. Add pork strips. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add peppers. Again, cook for 5 minutes. Add soy sauce, bean paste and a small sprinkling of salt. Stir until all of the meat and peppers are well coated. Remove from heat and serve over rice.

Julia is here for 4 more days and promises to cook for us again! We cannot wait!!!