Thursday, November 5, 2015

Gluten-Free Foods

luten-free. A phrase that has been known to have a polarizing response. i must confess that i was among those whose reaction upon hearing the phrase "gluten-free", was not a positive one. i was of the thought that most people going on ad nauseum about gluten-free dietary choices were extolling its virtues not because they truly had a health concern such as celiac disease, but rather because they wanted to sound hip & trendy, vis-a-vis the latest culinary trend---similar to when everyone & their nutritionist couldn't stop saying that acai should be a part of everyone's diet. That is not to say that acai is not beneficial but many were speaking of it as if you would surely drop dead sooner rather than later if it was not on your shopping list. As the saying goes 'never say never'---i am a recent convert to adding gluten-free items to my cupboard, refrigerator, and recipe file. i am fortunate in that i do not have celiac disease, but i have recently discovered the health benefits of incorporating gluten-free products to my dietary choices.

A few months ago i had tendonitis in my right metatarsal. The pain was intense. i was hoping for a cortisone injection but the doctor treating me declined to do so. When the doctor would not give me a specific reason as to why this treatment would not be given other than to say "I wouldn't recommend it" i decided to look for alternatives. i had an acupuncture treatment. An interesting experience. It offered some relief but the cost & travel time to the practitioner was prohibitive. Since we are what we eat, i researched which foods are natural anti-inflammatories. In addition to learning which foods are natural anti-inflammatories, i learned that gluten exacerbates inflammation. Even though i did not need or intend to go completely gluten-free, i discovered there were more foods and spices than i'd initially thought that were and/or could be made so. Rice, soy milk, pineapple, tumeric, ginger, crackers, cookies, pie shells, flour, cereal, etc.


What precisely is gluten? From wikipedia: Gluten (from Latin gluten, "glue") is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.

Gluten is the composite of two storage proteins, gliadin and a glutenin, and is conjoined with starch in the endosperm of various grass-related grains. Worldwide, gluten is a source of protein, both in foods prepared directly from sources containing it, and as an additive to foods otherwise low in protein.

The fruit of most flowering plants have endosperms with stored protein to nourish embryonic plants during germination. True gluten is limited to certain members of the grass family. The stored proteins of maize and rice are sometimes called glutens, but their proteins differ from true gluten.

Gluten is extracted from flour by kneading the flour, agglomerating the gluten into an elastic network, a dough, and then washing out the starch. Starch granules disperse in cold/low-temperature water, and the dispersed starch is sedimented and dried. If a saline solution is used instead of water, a purer protein is obtained, with certain harmless impurities departing to the solution with the starch. Where starch is the prime product, cold water is the favored solvent because the impurities depart from the gluten.

In home or restaurant cooking, a ball of wheat flour dough is kneaded under water until the starch disperses out. In industrial production, a slurry of wheat flour is kneaded vigorously by machinery until the gluten agglomerates into a mass. This mass is collected by centrifugation, then transported through several stages integrated in a continuous process. About 65% of the water in the wet gluten is removed by means of a screw press; the remainder is sprayed through an atomizer nozzle into a drying chamber, where it remains at an elevated temperature a short time to evaporate the water without denaturing the gluten. The process yields a flour-like powder with a 7% moisture content, which is air cooled and pneumatically transported to a receiving vessel. In the final step, the collected gluten is sifted and milled to produce a uniform product. In August 2013, FDA issued a final rule, effective August 2014, that defined the term "gluten-free" for voluntary use in the labeling of foods as meaning that the amount of gluten contained in the food is below 20 parts per million.


After trying several products, some of the gluten-free items that made the final cut for my shopping list are: Arrowhead Mills Organic Gluten-Free Pancake & Baking Mix [0g trans fat], Wholly Wholesome Gluten-Free 9"Pie Shells [2 to the package], Silk lactose and gluten-free milk, Applegate Naturals Gluten-Free Frozen Chicken Tenders, Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free Wholegrain Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Gluten-Free Wholegrain White Bread, and my all-time fav for satisfying my sweet-tooth, Pillsbury Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough [Do Not Eat Raw].

Applegate Naturals Gluten-Free Frozen Chicken Tenders are very tasty but the amount of strips compared to the yield i get when making them from scratch means a preference for making from scratch to save some scratch. Instead of breasts i used boneless skinless thighs [less fat].

sookietex' Gluten-Free Fried Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs Recipe

2 pkgs of 4 pieces boneless skinless
chicken thighs
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Silk Gluten-Free Lactose Free Milk
Honey [approx 1 teaspoon; this ingredient's
measurement is drizzled to taste]
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup Arrowhead Mills Organic Gluten-Free
Pancake & Baking Mix
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
[When i cook i'm of the pinch/dash school
i sometimes use more sometimes less
than the measurements indicated

Lightly beat the eggs, add to the milk and honey mixture to create a batter. Thoroughly rinse then pierce the chicken pieces and place into the batter. In a separate bowl combine the gluten-free mix and other dry ingredients. Transfer the chicken from the batter to the seasoned gluten-free mixture. Thoroughly coat chicken. Coat frying pan [preferably a non-stick pan] with vegetable oil. If more than 4 Tablespoons of oil are needed, add as necessary. Fry chicken for 20 mins [or until thoroughly done] on each side. Covering the pan while frying is suggested to retain moistness & reduce oil splatter. As always when frying take care to not be splattered by hot oil. Side dish serving suggestion: turmeric seasoned rice with mushrooms peas vidalia and red onion.

Text Credit: Wikipedia || Image Credit: The Letter G

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Gazpacho (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡaθˈpatʃo, ɡahˈpatʃo]) is a soup made of raw vegetables and served cold, usually with a tomato base, originating in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia. Gazpacho is widely eaten in Spain and neighbouring Portugal (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɡɐʃˈpaʃu], spelling gaspacho), particularly during the hot summers, as it is refreshing and cool.

Gazpacho has ancient roots. There are a number of theories of its origin, including as an Arab soup of bread, olive oil, water and garlic that arrived in Spain and Portugal with the Moors, or via the Romans with the addition of vinegar. Once in Spain, it became a part of Andalusian cuisine, particularly Córdoba and Seville, using stale bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and vinegar, similar to ajoblanco.

There are many modern variations of gazpacho, often in different colors and omitting the tomatoes and bread in favor of avocados, cucumbers, parsley, watermelon, grapes, meat stock, seafood, and other ingredients. In Andalusia, most gazpacho recipes typically include stale bread, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, water, and salt.

Traditionally, gazpacho was made by pounding the vegetables in a mortar with a pestle; this more laborious method is still sometimes used as it helps keep the gazpacho cool and avoids the foam and the completely smooth consistency created by blenders and food processors. A traditional way of preparation is to pound garlic cloves in a mortar, add a little soaked stale bread, then olive oil and salt, to make a paste. Then very ripe tomatoes and vinegar are added.

In the historical description of gazpacho it was remarked [by whom?] that the original recipe uses bread, water, vinegar, oil and salt. This recipe is very old in the Iberian Peninsula, going back to Roman times.[citation needed] Every Andalusian region or comarca has its own variety. The humble gazpacho became a very deeply rooted food for peasants and shepherds in the south of Spain.

The basic gazpacho gave rise to many variants, some also called gazpacho, others not; some authors have tried to classify all these variations. Gazpachos may be classified by colour: the most usual red ones (which contain tomato), white ones (which contain no tomato, but include dried fruits), and green ones (which are white but contain some spices that make them green). These variants have their basic ingredients in common, garlic paste which works as an emulsifier, bread, olive oil, vinegar and salt. To the traditional ingredients red fruits such as strawberries, muskmelon, etc., may be added, making the gazpacho a bit sweeter.
Gazpacho may be served as a starter, main dish, or tapa.

Ingredients, texture, and how thick the gazpacho is made vary regionally and between families. Similar cold raw soups such as salmorejo, porra antequerana and ajoblanco, are also popular in Andalusia, although not as widespread as gazpacho.

Gazpacho manchego, despite its name, is a meat stew, served hot, not a variation on the cold vegetable soup.

Gazpacho Recipe From Wikibooks Cookbook

1 lb tomatoes
1/2 lb green bell peppers
1/2 cucumber
clove of garlic
[Optional for thicker
soup: 2 oz white bread]
2-3 days old

1/2 mild Spanish onion
1 tbsp white or red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 pt iced water
sea salt and black pepper
ice cubes
1/4 chili pepper [seeds removed]
1 tomato, skinned
1/2 green pepper
1/4 peeled cucumber
cubed bread

Skin the tomatoes and cut into quarters. Remove seeds and stalks from peppers. Peel the cucumber and cut into chunks. Tear up the bread and soak it in water for 30 minutes and then squeeze it dry. Cut up the onion.

Blend all the ingredients until roughly chopped, not too fine, because the soup should have texture and discernible vegetable bits. Pour into large bowl with some ice, add salt and pepper. Then prepare the garni. Dice the bread and fry it in a little olive oil until brown. Chop the other vegetables finely. Serve in separate little bowls on the table, so that guests can sprinkle on their own toppings.

Serve chilled.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Gazpacho Wikibooks Cookbook

Image Credit: Gazpacho: Photo by centerbilder wikimedia CreativeCommons

Monday, April 13, 2015

Phở Bò [Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup] Phở Gà [Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup] & Vegetarian Phở

Phở or pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, linguine-shaped rice noodles called bánh phở, a few herbs, and meat. It is primarily served with either beef or chicken. Pho is a popular street food in Vietnam and the specialty of a number of restaurant chains around the world. Southern Vietnamese eat it for breakfast and occasionally lunch, whereas northerners eat it at any time of day.

Pho originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam. War refugees later popularized it in the rest of Vietnam and the world. Because pho's origins are poorly documented,there is significant disagreement over the cultural influences that led to its development in Vietnam, as well as the etymology of the word itself.

The Hanoi and Saigon styles of pho differ by noodle width, sweetness of broth, and choice of herbs. A related beef noodle soup, bún bò Huế, is associated with Huế in central Vietnam.

Pho originated in the early 20th century in northern Vietnam, apparently southeast of Hanoi in Nam Định Province, then a substantial textile market. The traditional home of pho is reputed to be the villages of Vân Cù and Dao Cù (or Giao Cù) in Đông Xuân commune, Nam Trực District, Nam Định Province. According to villagers, pho was eaten in Vân Cù long before the French colonial period when it was popularized.

Pho was originally sold at dawn and dusk by roaming street vendors, who shouldered mobile kitchens on carrying poles (gánh phở). From the pole hung two wooden cabinets, one housing a cauldron over a wood fire, the other storing noodles, spices, cookware, and space to prepare a bowl of pho. Pho vendors kept their heads warm with distinctive, disheveled felt hats called mũ phở.

Hanoi's first two fixed pho stands were a Vietnamese-owned Cát Tường on Cầu Gỗ Street and a Chinese-owned stand in front of Bờ Hồ tram stop. They were joined in 1918 by two more on Quạt Row and Đồng Row. Around 1925, a Vân Cù villager named Vạn opened the first "Nam Định style" pho stand in Hanoi. Gánh phở declined in number around 1936–1946 in favor of stationary eateries.

From WikiCookbook
Phở Bò [Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup]

Broth Ingredients:
2 large white onions - chopped into quarters
1 tablespoon of vegetable or peanut oil
5 lbs of beef bones
[choose ones with a bit of meat on them]
1 small knob of ginger - chopped
2 medium daikon [white radish]
chopped into quarters
1 small cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods - whole
4 cloves - whole
1 Star Anise
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorn

Serving Ingredients:
Phở noodles [broad rice noodle]
soaked in hot water
until soft and drained
Finely sliced scallions
Chopped coriander leaf
Finely sliced beef sirloin

Chili peppers
Bean sprouts
Thai Basil
Nước mắm [Fish Sauce]
Hot sauce
Hoisin sauce
Black pepper

Fry onions in oil until lightly browned. Remove and drain. Rinse the beef bones, place in a stockpot, cover with cold water, and bring slowly to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes. For a clear broth skim off foam. After this initial cooking, add cooked onions, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, cloves, garlic and peppercorns. Bring to a boil again and gently simmer the stock, partially covered, for a minimum of 6 hours but up to 12 hours if you can, skimming regularly. If necessary, add more water to keep the bones covered. Strain stock to remove the vegetable and spices and discard them. Return the broth to the stove to keep it boiling hot.

In a large soup bowl, place a handful of cooled Phở noodles, top with thinly sliced raw beef, and ladle on generous amounts of steaming hot broth, which will cook the raw beef. Garnish with sliced onions, scallions and coriander, and serve immediately.

Place condiments on a large serving plate. It's not necessary to add any of the condiments to the soup, but adding a few basil leaves, a squeeze of lime, and some bean sprouts, is customary. Traditionally, the dish is prepared using fatty meats, but this is not a necessity. Some other traditional serving ingredients include beef tendon, beef shank, beef tripe and meatballs. The fish sauce, hot sauce, and hoisin sauce, can either be added directly into the soup or placed in a small bowl for dipping the meat and noodles. Some take small bites of very hot chili peppers while eating the soup to spice up the meal. Proceed with caution! And enjoy!

From WikiCookbook
Phở Gà [Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup]

Phở noodles [broad rice noodle]
Broth Ingredients:
1 small to medium chicken (whole)
12 cups chicken broth
3-4 slices of fresh ginger (whole)
1 medium brown onion, peeled
1 tbsp of salt or more (to taste)
Fish sauce, to taste

Seasoning Pouch:
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. peppercorns
3 whole star anise
1-2 dried cardamom
1/2 stick cinnamon
3 whole cloves

Finishing Touches:
Diced cilantro and green onion
A few fresh basil leaves, torn
Fresh bean sprouts
Thinly sliced brown or white onion [several pieces per serving]
Hoisin Sauce [1 tsp per serving, or to taste]
Lime [squeezed into broth before eating
Jalapeños, serranos, or other chilli peppers
Sriracha or similar chilli sauce
Additional fish sauce
Combine ingredients for seasoning pouch in a small strainer or a pouch made from cheesecloth and twine. In a large stock pot, boil broth ingredients together with seasoning pouch until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove the chicken and strain broth back into the pot for additional simmering. Once the chicken is cool, pull apart the meat into bite sized pieces and discard bones. In a separate pot, boil the "Pho" noodles in sufficient water. Stop when they're no longer chewy [basically the way you'd boil spaghetti]. Make sure you don't overdo it or the noodles will fall apart and you'll end up with porridge. When done, pour the noodles into a colander and rinse them with lukewarm water. Then, leave them to drain. Once the noodles have drained, add them to a bowl. Combine the chicken, "finishing touches" [see above], and enough broth to cover the noodles. Enjoy!

From The Well Chick Project
Vegetarian Phở

Faux Phở Noodles - Gluten-free
brown rice noodles
or Zuccini noodles

6 star anise pods
5 whole cloves
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 green cardamom pod
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 large cinnamon stick

1 large onion peeled and quartered
1 piece fresh ginger 3-inches
3 quarts water
1 1/2 large leeks tough ends cut away, halved lengthwise, cleaned and cut in thick slices
2 medium turnips peeled and cut in wedges
3 large carrots peeled and sliced thick
4 dried shitake mushrooms [can substitute 2 ounces fresh mushroom stems]

1 head garlic cut in half
2 stalks lemongrass trimmed, smashed with a knife, and sliced
salt to taste
1 Tbsp low-sodium miso Eden's Shiro brand is a great low-sodium option
1 tbsp coconut sugar may use raw brown or other sugar, as available
1-2 Tbsp fish sauce (nuoc mam), to taste [optional; vegans can omit or sub soy sauce]

Fresh Vegetables, Tofu, & Garni:
4 large zucchini [optional; may substitute with cooked rice noodles]
8 cups vegetables of choice, lightly cooked [The Well Chick Project veggie recommendation: broccoli florets, sliced medallion carrots, canned/whole straw mushrooms]
pan-fried tofu slices
lime slices [for garnish]
hoisin sauce [for garnish]
Sriracha sauce [for garnish]
bean sprouts [for garnish]

Spices: In a pan over medium-low heat, toast the star anise, cloves, coriander seeds, cardamom pod, black peppercorns, and cinnamon stick for 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Put the spices in a spice bag, or tea leaf bag, and set aside. Broth: Scorch the onion and ginger in a pan over medium-high heat. Turn the pieces until they are scorched black in places on all sides. Slice the ginger lengthwise. Combine the scorched onion and ginger with the water, leeks, turnips, carrots, mushroom stems (or dried shiitakes), garlic, lemongrass, miso, salt to taste and 1 tablespoon coconut sugar in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Add the spice bag.

COOKING METHOD A. If using Wonderbag: Add the fish sauce, if using. Immediately transfer the pot to the Wonderbag, and leave to cook overnight, or 8 hours. [The longer the broth slow cooks, the more intense the flavor.]

COOKING METHOD B. If using traditional stovetop method: Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add the fish sauce, if using, and simmer for another hour [2 hours total, with or without the fish sauce.]

Strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. [Discard the broth vegetables, or save for some other use.] Taste and adjust salt and sugar. If serving immediately, ladle the hot broth over bowls filled with zuccini noodles or gluten-free brown rice noodles, fried tofu and vegetables. Allow diners to add their own garni.

If serving with zuccini noodles, select the appropriate blade for your spiral slicer, and process the zucchini noodles accordingly. Boil briefly for 3 or so minutes, according to how al dente you like your veggie pasta. Do not overcook. [Remember that in the end they will be served in a hot broth that will continue to simmer them.] Drain and divide equally among bowls. [If serving with white or brown rice noodles, cook according to package directions and divide equally among bowls.] Prepare vegetables of choice. If using raw broccoli and carrot slices, blanch for 1 minute in boiling water and rinse with cool water. If using canned whole straw mushrooms, rinse well. Rinse and drain bean sprouts. Divide equal amounts among bowls. Divide tofu slices equally among bowls. Allow each diner to season their bowl of pho to taste with lime wedges, Sriracha sauce and hoisin sauce. Enjoy!

[The Well Chick Project Recommendation: If you're avoiding sugar, feel free to experiment with whatever sugar substitute you feel comfortable. Or, omit altogether.]

Text Credits: Wikipedia || WikiCookbook || WikiCookbook|| TheWellChickProject || Image Credits: WikiCommons || Jeanette's Healthy Living

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

Molten chocolate cake or lava cake is a popular dessert that combines the elements of a flourless chocolate cake (sometimes called a chocolate decadence cake) and a soufflé. Some other names used are chocolate fondant, chocolate moelleux and chocolate lava cake.

Molten lava cakes are always baked in ramekin dishes and have four main ingredients: butter, eggs, sugar, and chocolate. The butter and chocolate are melted together, while the eggs are either whisked with the sugar to form a thick paste, producing a denser finished product; or are separated so the egg whites can be whipped into an egg foam to provide more lift (and thus a lighter cake) when the mixture is baked.

Rather than presenting only the cake itself in a ramekin or on a plate, the baker may choose to make the cake more appealing. Fresh raspberries, a drizzling of raspberry and/or chocolate sauce, and dustings of powdered sugar may be added to enhance flavor, or a sprig of mint may look more appealing as well. For a more intense chocolate taste, the baker may also add a tablespoon of strong coffee.

The United States-based chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten claims to have invented molten chocolate cake in New York City in 1987, but the French chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres has disputed that claim, arguing that such a dish already existed in France. According to Vongerichten, he pulled a chocolate sponge cake from the oven before it was done and found that the center was still runny, but was warm and had both a good taste and a good texture. Regardless of who invented the dish, Vongerichten has been credited with popularizing it in the United States, and it is now almost a de rigueur inclusion on high-end restaurant dessert menus.

From WikiHow Recipes
Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

3/4 Cup [6oz]
dark cooking chocolate
3/4 Cup [6oz] softened butter
[sweetened, salted
or unsalted as per preference]

3 Eggs
1/3 Cup [5oz]
All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Powder

pinch of salt
ramekins in which to bake the mixture
1/2 Cup [4oz] Caster Sugar*

*Caster or castor sugar is often sold as superfine sugar in the United States. It is a pure white sugar ground down to finer particles than seen in regular table or granulated sugar. It differs from confectioners’ or powdered sugar, which typically contains corn starch as well as sugar. Caster sugar got its name because its grains are small enough to slip through the holes of a caster or shaker. Caster sugar commonly appears in recipes for mixed drinks and meringues.

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and mix together well. Beat eggs and sugar together well until nearly white in appearance. For a fluffier cake separate the eggs and blend egg whites separately. Use a bain marie to melt the chocolate. Add the butter to the melted chocolate. Combine chocolate, eggs, and flour mixture [a rubber spatula is recommended but not essential]. Fill ramekins 2/3 full and bake mixture at 320F degrees for 10mins.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || eHow || WikiHow || Image Credit: WikimediaCommons