Ratatouille Is Summer on A Plate!

Summer time is the best time to cook with garden produce; makes the most sense, that’s when they are at their peak of quality and variety. I love to make this dish every year in the late summer particularly when I have most of the vegetables growing in my garden.  Ratatouille is a French dish made of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, peppers and lots of olive oil and basil. To me it tastes more Italian with all those veggies and the olive oil and basil. It’s a great side dish with grilled meats or fish and I love it inside an omelet or alongside a slice of quiche.  And yes, I know there was a kids movie out in 2007 by the same name.  Disney even came out with their own recipe for ratatouille!

Lots of veggie chopping for this delicious dish and then you should stir it carefully as the mixture cooks in a big pan. I like to make it in a wok or paella dish. I have a Teflon paella dish that I use these days; holds a lot and things don’t stick to it.

Tips: The amounts are somewhat fluid; I don’t really measure the veggies; just use an approximate amount. Be sure to cook the eggplant until it is mostly done before proceeding to the next step or your dish will be less than stellar.  You can use red, orange, yellow or green bell peppers and yellow summer squash works just as good as zucchini. I used a huge pale green bell pepper in my photographed version. Just makes sure all your vegetables are fresh and best quality.

 

 

 

 

Ratatouille  by Angela, makes about six servings

Ingredients:

2 medium onions

4 tbsp. olive oil divided

1 large eggplant – cut into rounds and then across into ½ in slices (don’t peel)

1 med zucchini  – cut into 1/3 inch rounds and halved

2 large tomatoes, diced

2 garlic cloves – minced

1 large red or green bell pepper- cut into long slices, can half them

1-2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. brown sugar, optional

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 tsp. sea salt (to taste)

Directions:

Put 3 tbsp. of the oil in a large frying pan; 16 inch or wok works well. Add the eggplant slices and toss the slices around to evenly soak up the oil.  Fry turning occasionally; try to get them at least half done and then add the zucchini half moons.  Keep frying until both are just about done.  Turn out into a big bowl.  Add the rest of the olive oil and when it is hot; add the onion bits. Cook about 5-6 min until softening.  Add garlic and cook a minute.  Add the sliced pepper and cook 5-6 minutes until softening.  Add the diced tomato.  Stir well.  Cook about 5-6 minutes and add the tomato paste and sugar, stir well, add back the zuke/eggplants and  until mixture looks mostly done; maybe 10 min.  Add the basil and salt and cook another couple of minutes. spicy tomato jam 006  Great cold the next day; aging in the fridge melds the flavors together.

Originally posted in  September 2016, minor changes in text.

Great Hamburger Buns

I recently shopped at a Trader Joe’s in Massachusetts. Bought some interesting stuff. One item I was really pleased with was a pack of gluten free hamburger bun. They even had sesame seeds all over the top! The flavor and texture was very close to what I remember of gluten based burger buns. Firm enough to hold a burger and fine for a sandwich. The bonus for me was that each bun was full sized; my beloved ciabatta buns by Schar are a tad small when it comes to holding a typical burger. Great price point too. Win Win!

gluten-free-hamburger-buns

Longing for Trader Joe’s to take the plunge and put a store in the Lehigh Valley; third biggest metro center in Pennsylvania. Soon!

Crab Cake Feast!

Crab is my weakness, I love to pick out steamed Maryland blue crabs, love lump crab sautéed with shrimp and adore crab soup. Today I bring you a classic: the deluxe crabcake!  We were on vacation in the Finger Lakes and as our bungalow had a full kitchen and gluten free seemed to be scarce, we made all our breakfasts and suppers. I got this big one lb. can of lump crab meat on sale at Valley Farm Market. Add some homemade gf bread crumbs (leftover French bread), eggs and a touch of seasoning; then wait patiently as the cakes brown and you will be rewarded with a big luscious crab cake. I skipped Worcestershire Sauce and Old Bay Seasoning but they are certainly traditional additions.

Chilling the crab mixture is critical to a good crab cake. It truly is vital.

We had crabcake sandwiches a day later for a delish quick picnic lunch under a tree at Niagara Falls. Schar’s gf ciabatta rolls were perfection after I smeared a dab of mayo mixed with Dijon mustard and a leaf of homegrown lettuce. A baggie of cold grapes completed our rapid yet relaxed repast.

crab cakes

Big and juicy crammed full. of lump crab meat! No preparation pictures: on vacation!

Angie’s Crab Cakes

Ingredients:

1 lb. lump crab meat

2/3 cup gf bread crumbs

2 eggs

2-3 Tbsp. light mayonnaise

1 ½ tsp. best quality Dijon mustard

½ tsp. sea salt and ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1-2 Tbsp finely chopped red pepper (optional)

2-3 Tbsp finely chopped onion or green onion

1-2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

 

Directions: Pick over crab meat for shells. Beat eggs in large bowl with a whisk until broken up.  Add mayo, mustard, salt, black pepper, garlic, chopped pepper, parsley, and onion, Stir, add crab and crumbs, stir gently.  Chill in fridge 30-60 minutes. Form into 5-6 large cakes. We did five big cakes! Add more crumbs if necessary.  Place on a large plate, cover tightly and chill 30-60 minutes. Heat a 50-50 mixture of butter and mild olive oil or canola; enough to well coat a cast iron fry pan and slide the cakes gently in. Maybe 5 minutes a side; until golden brown.

Some serve with tarter sauce. We had ours with rice pilaf, corn on the cob and homegrown snap peas. Enjoy!

Finger Lakes Trip

Six days ago, I fell in my yard and fractured my right wrist. Casted the next day. Cannot garden cannot lift much of anything. Typing one handed for next 6 weeks. There won’t be any long posts….

Last week we were up in the Finger Lakes. I cooked a lot, full kitchen in our bungalow. I made blueberry pancakes and cinnamon waffles. Suppers included crab cakes, grilled lamb chops and grilled Delmonico steaks.

I made a blueberry rhubarb crisp which I loved. Joe was hoping for a cobbler though…  And the smoked trout appetizer was delish: gf crackers, homemade cream cheese, capers and fresh dill. Mmmm.  smoked troutWe ate great meals for 3.5 days for under $100. Luxury proteins and fresh veggies including homegrown peas, romaine and broccoli. Delish! I will post my crab cake recipe another day. Need to rest now.

Cherry Sunrise Pie…a Tradition for Easter Lunch

In a few short days it will Easter, the day of baked ham, chocolate candies and hard boiled eggs… We are having locally smoked, lower salt, and gf ham from Saylors right here in Hellertown; it was great last year.  As for any holiday meal, I wanted dessert to be special yet not too heavy: an attractive fruit based pie, but easy to construct and yummy: a tall bill to fill but this cherry sunrise pie checks off all those requirements.  Last year my sister asked me to make it for the big meal and she melted my heart when she said it felt like Easter when we ate that pie! They always fork it down as they are cherry lovers plus my sisters love how light it tastes.  I share it so you can make it anytime you want an easy company dessert.   You should make it the night before so it is chilled enough to eat by 1 pm.cherry sunrise pie

It has to have a gluten free crust for me but if you are making it for the wheat eating public there are redi-made crusts out there that will make this so simple yet so delightful.

Cherry Sunrise Pie

One pie crust: I made mine from an 8 oz box of gluten free graham crackers crushed and mixed with 1/3 cup melted butter and pressed gently into a 9 inch pie pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 9 or 10 minutes.  Let cool completely before filling. I made mine the night before.

Ingredients for filling

18 or 19 oz can of crushed pineapple in own juice

1 21 oz can of cherry pie filling

1 8 oz pkg light cream cheese, room temp.

½ tsp vanilla

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup powdered sugar

Directions

Drain the pineapple for 20 min; save the juice!  I used my microwave to gently warm the cream cheese; it has a softening setting for cream cheese which works perfectly. I unwrapped it and placed the cold slab on a small plate and warmed it on a very low heat until supple and smooth.  Dump in a mixing bowl, add 2 tbsp pineapple juice, the vanilla, 1/3 cup crushed pineapple, ½ cup cherry pie filling.  If you are smart you will mostly use the goopy stuff and not too many cherries.  Save them for on top! Next, stir this all together really well.

Then whip the chilled heavy cream in a separate bowl with an electric

mixer until soft peaks form, add powdered sugar and mix well with the mixer; be careful not to over beat it.  If it gets clumpy you went too far.  Fold this into the cream cheese mix until it isn’t streaky with white areas.

Gently spoon the filling into the pie shell, spread it out to fill the entire bottom.  I used a spoonula (blend of spoon and spatula) and smooth the top with a flat cake spatula.  I like to leave a sort of tiny ridge on the outer edge to keep the pineapple from spilling out onto the crust.  Then carefully pour the rest of the cherry pie filling in the center spreading it to cover ¾ of the top from the center out.  Finally, use a spoon to put clumps of pineapple around the outer rim of the cherry filling.  Chill

photo 1

at least 2 hours, preferably 4.  Cut and slice. No adornments are needed. It has a light fluffy consistency and it isn’t that sweet.  Great to top off a big meal; not too filling and the fresh fruity taste is a spring treat.  Try it soon and you will be giving the recipe out afterwards!

I have no pictures of creating this pie; maybe this Easter I will take the time to snap a few and add them to this post at a later date.

This is about the fourth time I have blogged this recipe; first was in 2014. Been making it for like 18-20 years!

Chicken Tenders, Crunchy Meal Treat

If  you like chicken tenders fried to a crunchy turn this recipe is for you. It is a riff on the spicy chicken tender recipe I have posted before.  I reduced the spiciness to cater to a 7 year old.  Easy and yummy.  We had it with oven wedge fries, baked slices of butternut squash and broccoli.  Great supper last night.

There are a lot of commercial food items that I don’t get to eat anymore, specifically most fast food being a major no no.  I miss crispy chicken like I used to enjoy at Wendy’s.  I make my spicy version but when my grandson moved in we needed something just a bit less spicy.

If you look on Glutenfreeonashoestring there is a recipe for making your own gf Bisquick; it is attached to a recipe for mini breakfast pancake bite muffins. I had the flours needed; white rice, potato starch and tapioca flour plus the add ins of baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.  Easy peasy to put a double batch together; I will keep it in my freezer in a Ziplock freezer bag; sure have been wanting some of that Bisquick!

I lowered the hot sauce even more; ditto for the cayenne powder as I was pretty sure I didn’t want it quite so spicy; do as you wish. It was simple to do; mix the spices with the Bisquick, mix the hot sauce with the water, dip the chicken in the spices, then the hot water and back in the spiced flour and fry. I used a non stick frying pan and 1/4 inch canola oil.  It was almost like deep frying but not quite.

chicken tenders

You can also cut the chicken up into chunks, pound them briefly and you have lovely fingers that are somewhat smaller, great for kids. Fried chicken tenders are not something I would eat every week but it sure was yummy! I think this recipe is well worth trying even if you just buy some gf Bisquick.

Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders

1 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1/2 c Water

1/2 c Gluten-Free Bisquick

1 Tsp. Sea Salt

1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1/8 Tsp. Fine Ground Pepper

1/2 Tsp. Paprika

1/4 Tsp. Garlic Powder

1 lb. Chicken Breast tenders – pound them a bit if they are very fat; you want it ½ inch or thinner.

Mix together the Gluten-Free Bisquick, Salt, Cayenne Pepper, Pepper, Paprika and Garlic Powder in a low bowl.  I used a wide soup bowl.

In a separate small mixing bowl mix together Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and water. In a  high-sided sauté pan heat 1 cup of canola oil – it should come up about 1/2 inch the side of the pan depending on the size of your pan. I started it on medium heat and put in a candy thermometer to regulate the temperature; I got it pretty hot; 350 degrees before putting in the chicken.  Or use my frying pan method I described above; less oil for that and no thermometer needed. Take one chicken breast tender at a time and dredge it in the GF Bisquick mixture, then roll it in the hot sauce/water mixture and then put it back in the Bisquick mixture and roll it to coat.  This can get messy; try to keep one hand dry and one for the water/hot sauce part. Or, if you want less coating start the raw tenders in the hot sauce water bath and just put one at a time into the seasoned flour to coat; one dip unlike first version. Let rest a few minutes to dry somewhat. Slide one into the hot oil and then a second one. Cook chicken for about 4-5 minutes, until they are golden brown and no longer pink in the center (I used a meat thermometer just to make sure).

Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels to blot any excess oil. If you have the oil hot enough they shouldn’t be greasy. If you want a sandwich, serve on a gf bun and top with mayonnaise, tomato and an additional piece of lettuce.

chicken tenders 2

Go ahead, indulge in this delicious chicken and I promise you it will be a hit with your family!

Adapted from creativecookinggf.wordpress.com, February 2011.

Adapted from my spicy tenders post in May 2017.

Hot and Sour Chinese Chicken Soup

Leftover roasted chicken, a can of bamboo shoots, freshly made chicken broth and scallions.  What to make?  Ah hah! Chinese hot and sour soup; even better than take out ever was when I could eat it and super simple.  Lots of stuff in it but just measure and dump basically.

Notes: you can use leftover roast chicken or pork as the protein or tofu if you want to be vegetarian. I like all the vegetables but leave any of them out if you wish. You can even leave out the noodles; I would use the cornstarch then to help it be a tad thicker.

hot and sour soup in pot

Hot and Sour Chinese Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

5 cups homemade chicken broth

about 3/4 cup broken rice noodles; I prefer extra wide size

2 garlic cloves

about 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2-3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar; can use red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. chili sauce

3 Tbsp. gf soy sauce

1/4 tsp. sriracha sauce

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 stalk celery cut on the diagonal into thin slices

1/2 cup thinly sliced red pepper; I cut it into 1 inch lengths

4 oz mushrooms; shiitake are traditional but you can use any fresh mushroom, sliced

1 8 oz can bamboo shoots; drained

1/2 cup petite frozen peas

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 cups roasted chicken cut in small chunks

2 eggs

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

4 green onions (scallions)

Pour the broth into a large saucepan. Start it heating on medium.  While it heats heat 3 cups of water to boiling and add 1/2-3/4 cup broken rice noodles; I used extra wide size. Let stand 9 minutes. Add minced garlic, grated ginger, two vinegars, chili sauce, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, brown sugar, celery slices, red pepper strips, bamboo shoots and mushrooms to the heating broth. Cook 5 minutes. Add peas, black pepper and roasted chicken. Then the rice noodles which you have drained. Beat the eggs up and add them, and then the sesame oil and the scallions. I like to add the white part of my scallions a minute earlier than this as I don’t like them raw; up to you! Stir as you add the eggs.  Turn off heat. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Pour into bowls; makes about 5 servings.hot and sour soup in bowl

Notes; some folks add corn starch mixed with cold water to thicken it. I like the broth thin and brothy but you can do the cornstarch; 2 Tbsp. mixed with same amount cold water; add after the initial 5 minutes of cooking. This recipe is the one where you really need that homemade chicken broth; it is critical to the perfect flavor but use what ever you have and all will be amazed at your Chinese cooking skills. Enjoy!