Sweet and Sour Pork Stir Fry

This is another old school entrée. But old school often means very tasty and not too fancy (read complicated!) This is in that category. Lots of veggies, amazing flavor and super easy. I can’t think why I haven’t made it yet this winter.  So we had it the other day for supper. As easy and as tasty as ever. I simplified my Betty Crocker recipe just a bit. Feel free to add more or less veggies and vary them; just need that pineapple and some pepper for sure! Be sure that your soy sauce is GF: La Choy is my favorite brand.

Notes; use all the pineapple if you like lots of it. You can add raw bean sprouts instead of the celery or try sliced water chestnuts. Add them with the pea pods. If you hate any of these veggies sub in something else; I used some sliced zucchini in my most recent version; about a cup of it, added with the pepper chunks. I love lots of veggies.  You can add a bit more sugar and vinegar if you like your sweet and sour more pronounced. The chili sauce makes it a bit spicier.   Serves 4.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Ingredients:

¾ lb pork cubes

¼ cup rice flour mixed with 1.5 tsp. ground ginger
2-3 Tbsp. mild olive oil

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

2 Tbsp. reduced salt gf soy sauce

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. brown or white sugar

2 tsp. chili sauce (optional)

1 tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

1 large onion, diced

1 large red pepper, diced in large chunks

2 celery ribs cut thin on bias

1 cup zucchini rounds

2 garlic cloves minced

1-1.5 cups pea pods ( I cut the blossom ends off before cooking)

¾ can drained pineapple chunks canned in juice; save juice for sauce

2 Tbsp. cornstarch, mix with half the pineapple juice

Hot cooked rice; I prefer brown rice but what ever floats your boat!

DIRECTIONS:

Roll pork cubes around to coat with flour blend. Add 1-2 Tbsp oil to wok, Heat and add pork. Stir fry (chow) on high using a big spatula or spoon to toss: brown all sides. I have a wonderful tool with a rounded front edge which is perfect in a wok; can’t stir fry without it! While the pork browns mix vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, chili sauce and salt/pepper. Dump into medium sauce pan, add the pork once browned, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes until tender. While it cooks make rice. When you got that going and have 10 minutes left on the pork, reheat wok and add 1 Tbsp. oil to wok, add onion, stir for 2 minutes, add celery, and stir 2-3 minutes. Add red pepper and zucchini , cook a minute, add garlic, cook another minute. Add pea pods, stir fry 3 minutes. Add back the chicken and sauce. Stir and add the cornstarch slurry and pineapple chunks. Cook a minute and then add most of the rest of the pineapple juice. Cook another minute; add more juice if too thick. Adjust seasoning. Serve over hot rice. Enjoy!  sweet and sour pork on plate

 

Aldi’s Brownie Mix vs Scratch GF Brownies

Box mixes are generally not my favorites for baking as they can be full of stuff I don’t want to ingest like excess salt, sugar and fats. So I rarely buy them. But recently I bought a gf brownie mix from Aldi’s for less than two bucks. It can be used for chocolate chocolate chip cookies but I made the classic brownies with my box. They came out very tasty. The flavor is that of very dark chocolate and the texture is extra fudgy. They were easy to make and even non celiacs enjoyed their fudgy goodness. brownie mix I tried something different and had my last brownie with flakes of pink Himalayan sea salt on top. The fat ones are the best for this. I do have a big jar of fine grind pink salt from Aldi’s which is great for most uses but not for this; go big and flaky.  I happen to like chocolate with sea salt so I reasoned this could work too and it did. Very nice contrast; try it sometime!

Still, I personally like the scratch brownies I usually make much more as they have the perfect balance between cakey and fudgy. I use top end baking chocolate which gives a superior result. So they rein supreme as the best gluten free brownies I have tasted. Frankly they are even better than my old wheat flour brownies.  Here is the link to my brownie recipe made with the gf flour blend I prefer; King Arthur’s All Purpose GF flour blend: https://myworldwithoutwheat.com/2018/02/14/brownies-to-love/  If you want a great Valentine’s Day treat I suggest this recipe; super easy, super fast and super yummy. They also stay fresh longer than any gf cake I have made.  Tomorrow will be snowy here in eastern PA. Perfect day for baking a sweet treat! Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies and Range Decisions….

 

We baked cookies last Tuesday which was a snow day for both of us. That was fun; my grandson helped form the balls to make chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal cookies.  Gluten free of course. They were very simple to create and very tasty. Look on pinterest and you should find them! https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gluten-free-oatmeal-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-cookies/

chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

They baked fine; yummy mildly peanut buttery…we ate a bunch and then I tried to bake a quiche a few hours later for our supper. Neither oven would turn on, there had been troubles of late; had to run the broiler the other day to get it hot and then oven came on.  No such luck today.  I ended up broiling it in the upper oven which has that capability. Scorched quiche; yummy in the less than black area of it…at least we were able to enjoy a supper before I set out to find a new range. I have gas heat and a gas stove. Love gas cooktop; loved my gas oven a bit less; my now defunct ovens always had a lot of difficulty maintaining a set heat. scorched quiche

I did a lot of research and settled on a Frigidaire one oven with 2 power burners, 5 total burners, grate top for sliding pots from burner to burner and it goes the full top so more room for a big pan. I also wanted self-cleaning and a convection oven. Got that and even a quick preheat cycle. The range got here in only 3 days and it was installed within 30 minutes of the truck arriving.

So far, I love it; nice even heat in oven; holds temp and is certainly not lower than correct temp I set it for. Range top burners heat well and the timer is easy to set. I haven’t tried the convection setting yet but I plan to!  I baked some tartlets; put the shelf down to the very lowest it goes; just above the metal bottom. My tartlet crusts baked perfectly; can be difficult to get a browned crust when baking gluten free pie dough in a regular oven. My old range had a smaller upper pizza oven which was awesome for pies and pizza because of the bottom heat which cooked/browned them perfectly. But double oven equals double the price. Just not doable or justifiable. I got as much range as I could afford and I am very satisfied so far.  My biggest hint for regular ovens: I strongly suggest you bake all pies at the lowest level of your oven for a nicely brown crust.

stove

I think it’s a beauty!!

Do your homework in researching ranges and be sure you are clear on what features you really want so you are satisfied with what you bought rather than wishing for something you might have selected…

Aiden and me

No more scorched quiches or under baked pies. My new range is wonderful and we are a pair of happy bakers!

Kiffles Are For Christmas!

Kiffles are a local favorite when it comes to cookies, particularly Christmas cookies.  The Kiffle Kitchen outside of Bath, PA has made their reputation on their outstanding kiffles, sold on line! I used to enjoy them but never took the time to make them until a few Christmases ago.  I had purchased “Gluten-Free Baking Classics The Heirloom Collection” by Annalise G. Roberts and page 170 had the answer to my search; Rugelach, Kifles, and Kolaki.

I made a batch of kiffles (the preferred local spelling) on Christmas Eve 2015.  I just did jam filled, apricot and raspberry. The cream cheese dough in formed into two discs and chilled before rolling out between wax paper sheets into an 8 inch square. I did find myself chilling it a bit to keep it from getting too soft.  After rolling, cut each big square into 16 two inch squares and put a tsp. of best quality jam on each; fold together so the filling peeps out both ends and chill some more on the baking sheet.  I brushed them with heavy cream and sprinkled a touch of granulated sugar on before they hit the hot oven. The cute packets of dough and jam bake up lightly browned and delicate. Success was felt when my mom ate a few that evening.  Her smile told me how yummy they were.

Next time I made them with the nut and cinnamon filling that is very traditional around the Lehigh Valley.  Yummers!  Stores sell special kiffle filling meant just for these cookies but I don’t think it is gluten free due to cross contamination issues and therefore not safe for me to enjoy.

So if you are gluten free and crave kiffles; this cookbook by Annalise Roberts is the place to find a workable recipe.  She has never failed me yet with her desserts and I thank my lucky stars her cookbooks are on my shelf to guide me through holiday, parties and everyday meals. I don’t mean to sound like a salesperson for her but I can’t say enough great things about this new cookbook and her prior best seller Baking Classics – my copy of that is well worn and I couldn’t exist without it.  This kiffle recipe is way too involved to type out for you and I think that if you are serious about baking gf you need to check it out and get your own copy, real soon! Here are the dough ingredients to help you in deciding whether  you want to make it:

1 cup gf flour, King Arthur Basic blend

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/4 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. softened butter

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

You can use apricot or raspberry jam or what ever you like; be careful as some kiffle fillings that are ready made have traces of wheat flour in them.

Note: when I was first looking for kiffles I did a search on line for a gluten free kiffle recipe and didn’t really find one; lots of other cookies but these are quite a specialty and not made by most home cooks except in areas where they are popular and what you can buy is not gluten free.  Let me know if you can provide any other recipes but I am very happy with the one I used and recommend to you for your own holiday baking. Enjoy!

Originally published December 2015.

GF Flour Choices and a Few Personal Words….

Wanna know what flour blends I favor? It took me a few months or maybe years to figure this out for my cooking style. First, I bought a zillion weird and a few typical gf flours. Tried to bake with each and every one of them. Found out a few kinda suck and stopped using them. Others are used infrequently but have real value for a few recipes that they match to. If you are new to gluten free or just trying to get into baking gf this post is for you.

My favorite blend is King Arthur’s Gluten Free All-Purpose blend; made of three flours; brown rice, potato starch and tapioca flour. It is versatile. It makes great pie crust that my family really loves. I use it in most of my muffin recipes. I use it for gf pasta making and for cookies that wow.  Get some and give it a try. I actually make my own blend (same exact blend as KA’s basic all-purpose flour) as it is cheaper but you can buy it at your local grocery store in a  box.

 

king arthur flour

Another blend I like very much is Better Batter, the copycat version you can find on glutenfreeonashoestring. I make a batch and keep it in the freezer so it stays fresh. Great for quick breads, desserts and pastries.

If you want a cup for cup replacement flour there are some good options; Cup 4 Cup or King Arthur’s Measure for Measure flour.  They can be used in your favorite recipes for the most part.

king arthur flour

white rice flour

White rice flour or cornstarch work well for breading things and thickening. I always keep both on hand. Ditto for tapioca flour which I use in my blends and some other recipes. Gotta have it available. I also keep sweet rice flour to use in my main blend and in a few recipes. It adds flakiness in my pie crust. Potato starch is great in my basic blend and a few other blends/recipes. Another must have.

I use sorgum flour in a number of recipes including my delish buttermilk pancakes. It has a nice flavor compared to things like quinoa flour or bean flours. Uggh on them! I still have some in my freezer but I NEVER willingly use them. I do have some chickpea flour but rarely have a need for it.

Occasionally I use teff flour; in small amounts. It makes breads darken and seem like rye or pumpernickel breads.   But, it can give a muddy flavor if you use too much. Coconut flour is another flour I keep in the freezer but only use occasionally.  It can dry out a recipe if you use too much so  use sparingly.

I just got some cassava flour to use to make flour tortillas.  I hear it is fantastic.  I’ll let you know how that goes…

My suggestion is that you start with one or two blends and a couple single flours that can be used in combination. I rarely ever use just one flour except for breading or thickening. A great blend is critical.

Don’t let all the flour choices discourage you.  Try a few and find out what works for you. Some need to be frozen or refrigerated especially if you don’t use them up rapidly; check for that storage information so your flour blend that costs a lot doesn’t get rancid on you.  Have fun!

A personal note. I am sorry I haven’t blogged much lately. Been struggling somewhat. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July and had a partial mastectomy in early August. On the first of October I started radiation therapy and it has sucked my energy and focus away from most of my enjoyable hobbies including this blog. I hope to feel better soon; 3.5 more weeks to go! At least I won’t lose my hair, LOL! I have done a bit of baking and cooking but due to my low energy I seldom can find it in me to write. This will change in November I hope.  Peace and happy gf cooking!

Eggplant and Potato Curry

Lots of September eggplants mean I am looking for great recipes to enjoy them to the fullest. This happens to be one of my favorite ways to do just that.  It is a vegetable curry, now don’t be put off by that; no long list of spices: only a couple and some fresh ginger in it and it isn’t too spicy or wild tasting. I have simplified it a bit and as a bonus I give you my best eggplant frying tip. Yeap, it is vegetarian but that can be a nice change of pace from all that meat. I serve it over brown rice and it is very satisfying. You can feel virtuous enjoying this savory entree and use all that fresh fall produce.

This recipe came from my favorite Indian cookbook Indian Cooking for Pleasure by Charmaine Solomon.  This 70’s bible for Indian cookery is out of print and very pricey to buy on line. I have used literally dozens of recipes from it. She knows her spices and chooses great recipes that always work.

You can use big fat eggplants as I did this time or smaller ones; you will just need more of them. These days there are many interesting smaller eggplant varieties; any will work here; just cube, no need to peel.

Eggplant and Potato Curry

1 medium eggplant

2 large potatoes

2 decent sized tomatoes or most of a can of chopped tomatoes

1 large onion diced

1 small red pepper and 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced.

1 bunch spinach or a big handful of roughly chopped kale

3-4 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 ½ tsp. grated ginger, I freeze mine and just grate it frozen

½ tsp. cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle

½ tsp. ground turmeric; I did a rounded measurement; a tad more than level

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. brown sugar

Directions: Slice eggplants into ½ inch rounds and cut into cubes. Peel and dice the potatoes into a bit less than ½ inch rounds. Chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion. Seed and chop the peppers (you can use any level of spicy pepper you like; the original recipe said green chilies). Wash and chop the spinach or kale (I used kale this time; subs in great)

Heat 3 Tbsp. mild oil in a large frying pan. Fry the cubed potatoes until golden; you will need to turn them a few times. Remove from pan. Add the eggplant and fry until cooked; once the oil is soaked in I wait a half minute and add a couple tablespoons of water to the pan; let the water steam off and the eggplant should be done; if you have to do that again; go ahead. This trick saves adding a lot more oil to keep the eggplant from sticking/burning. When mostly done remove from pan.  It will cook more later so it is okay if edges and bits are not fully done.

Note: you could fry the eggplant at the same time in a separate pan to save a few minutes if you are in a hurry; might take a touch more oil that way; worked for me.

Then, add a touch more oil to the same (now empty) pan and pour in the chopped onion and fry until soft and turning golden. Add the cumin, turmeric and grated ginger. Fry for a minute, stirring. Add the chilies, tomatoes and salt, stir well and add back the eggplant and potatoes. Tip: when I make this in a wide 12 inch frying pan I don’t have a big enough lid; I use an upside down metal pizza pan and it makes a great lid.

Top with the spinach or kale. Stir after a minute, cover and cook on low heat for a few minutes until the spinach is soft, adding up to ½ cup water to keep it from sticking/burning. Add the brown sugar and cook the curry uncovered until it is thick; no more than 8-9 minutes. Serve with Indian bread or brown rice. As I haven’t really found time re-create my favorite Indian breads I served mine over brown rice.  eggplant curry on plante

Blueberry Tartlets, Love Em!

Blueberries rule my universe right now; still fairly plentiful and still sweet.  The flavor can’t be beat. My guy loves them and I have to agree; they are the tastiest and healthiest fruit.  I am in love with these tartlets. The crust to fruit ratio is perfect and I made them with a minimum of sugar as these ripe berries are already quite sweet. I got my fruit at Aldi’s for a great price; every grocery store has blueberries by the pint. They are very good for your body; full of fiber, low in sugar, and full of other nutrients. They are especially you have blood sugar issues.  See http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287710.php for more information.

Tips: Try not to bake in a hot kitchen; it makes it hard to roll out dough or even make the crumb mix. If it gets above 76 degrees you should turn on the air to keep your crust from acting weird.  I had to put mine in the freezer for a bit to help it hold the desired shape.

Don’t eat these tartlets fresh from the oven; they should be cooled to just warm or room temperature or even a bit chilled. They were perfect, just like a big pie only tiny each is one individual dessert.  You could certainly serve them with vanilla ice cream. We had them that way the other night and that was a treat indeed.

My apologies: these pictures were taken in a hurry; hot day and there was no spare time so they are looking rustic and crumbs dot the baking pan but frankly rustic tartlets are lovely. Be as tidy as fits your needs.

 

Angie’s GF Blueberry Crumb Tartlets: makes 6

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 large egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

You will need 6 flat bottom 4 inch tartlet pans if you make them all at once. My pans are 4 in an attached group. I baked 4 one day and 2 the next day

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

2 1/3 cups fresh blueberries, place in medium bowl

Mix with:

6 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. quick tapioca

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Let stand while you prepare the crumb crust. This is important so the tapioca can soften and absorb some juices before baking. If you like things tart add a tsp or two of fresh lemon juice to the berries.

Tartlet construction: Break dough into a large ball and a small one. Roll out big ball in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even and somewhat thin, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in 4 set tartlet pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Cut into 4 pieces with a sharp knife. Mold the crust to fill each tartlet shape with no holes or thin spots. Do the same with the smaller ball and create 2 more tartlet crusts. If you only have one pan you can refrigerate the dough and make the two other tartlets later.  Fill each tartlet with fruit mixture to the top of the dough… after you have the crumb topping ready to go.

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form. If you let them go extra long you get big fat crumbs if you want that look.

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Sprinkle the top of each tartlet with crumb mix; use as much as you like.  I didn’t measure; just sprinkled until the fruit was barely visible through the crumbs. Up to your personal taste… It sinks partially into the fruit mixture and adds lots of sweetness and eye appeal.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30-32 minutes until bubbly and the crumb crust is light brown.  Cool at least a half hour before serving at room temperature.  I think it is best served the same day you make it, or no more then 12 hours after baking for optimal flavor.  The crumbs will get soggy if too much time passes. Mine was still very good the next day; just not as great as when really fresh.

blueberry tartlet 2017

Note: if you find your bottom crust is not browning enough bake it empty at 375 degrees for 5-8 minutes before filling it with the fruit.  I have a bottom heat pizza style oven which gives me perfect pie crust so I don’t ever have pale pie crust. This is a big benefit of having this type of oven; it is a two oven range with a full sized lower oven.

Brown Rice Flour Mix (Same as King Arthur GF All purpose blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour

1/3 c tapioca flour

Note: the crust and crumb recipe are out of Annalise Roberts cookbook, Gluten Free Baking Classics, Second Edition. Adaptation and filling recipe are mine. Originally posted summer of 2017. No changes made to recipe.