Recipe: Blackeyed Peas and Chard

Blackeyed Peas and Chard. YUM!

Blackeyed Peas and Chard. YUM!

My grandmother, who was from the Deep South, used to make the best blackeyed peas.  I could never figure out what was in them, but I think I got pretty close this time.  In my part of the world, it’s considered good luck to have a meal of blackeyed peas on New Year’s Day.

Ingredients:
1 lb. dried blackeyed peas
5 tblsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 ounces ham cubes
4 1/2 cups water
1 tblsp salt
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tblsp granulated garlic
1 tsp. paprika
1 bunch swiss chard (or other dark greens), cleaned and torn in medium pieces

Directions:
1)  Put everything but the chard into a 5 qt. dutch oven and simmer with the lid on.  After 1/2 hour, add chard  (put lid back on) and simmer another hour.  Kill the heat and eat, baby.  Be sure to mix your greens into the peas!  Drain any excess liquid before refrigerating, though feel free to leave a little.

Recipe: Gluten-free Macaroons

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These are the chocolate macaroons. Recipes for vanilla and chocolate follow.

For some reason I didn’t get a lot of good photos of these… I must have been too excited to get ‘er done.  These are really easy, and according to my friend Nathan, the best macaroons he’s ever put in his face (he’s not gluten free, by the way).  These were modified from a recipe I found in a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Ingredients:
5 1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
8 egg whites
1 tsp. almond extract

1)  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

2)  In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine sugar, flour, starch, gum, coconut, salt and extract.  Add egg whites, one at a time and fully integrate before adding the next.  I used a scoop with a 1 1/2 inch diameter to scoop and pack my macaroons, but you could use anything, even a kitchen spoon, if you don’t care about making them really round.

3)  To use the scoop method, use a spatula to get all the batter on the bottom of your workbowl, then scoop from the bottom to the top of the bowl, compressing as you go.  There should be a little bit of batter oozing out (not a lot!).  Push your scoop against your ungreased cookie sheet as you scoop and that will help keep the shape.  This will take some practice.  I’ve also seen people pipe them, but I’ve never tried it.

4)  Bake in your oven for 20-25 minutes, or until they start to brown on the top.   Allow them to sit on the sheets for 5-10 minutes to set up and then move to a cooling rack until fully cooled.

***  To make chocolate macaroons, add 1/4 cup of dutch process cocoa and 2 tblsp. of the liquid from marascino cherries to the batter before the egg whites (it will be a little bit stickier, but won’t make a huge difference).  I topped mine with marascino cherry halves before I baked them.  The picture shows one batch of 1 1/2 inch macaroons.  ***

Method: Brined Turkey Breast

Delicious, tender, moist gluten-free turkey

Delicious, tender, moist gluten-free turkey

Here at Ye Olde Gluten Free Blogge, the holidays are always killer.  We’re busier than ever and have less and less time to get more and more things accomplished.  Now that they are over, I’m posting some of my better finds/creations.  I hope you enjoy! 🙂

For the most moist turkey you’ve ever had in your life, a brine is necessary.  On Good Eats, Alton Brown discusses what a brine actually does: when the salt in the brine starts to permiate the turkey in order to balance osmotic pressure, it takes other stuff in with it, like liquid and flavor.  Here’s how I do it.

Ingredients (Part 1):
1 turkey breast, bone-in (7-10 lbs)
1 lb. table salt
1 lb. brown sugar
water (a whole lot!)

Directions (Part 1):
1)  After thawing your turkey breast (or buying fresh), remove the bags from the cavity and toss them in the trash can.

2)  In bowl, bucket or sink large enough to submerge turkey breast, put salt and sugar.  Fill about 1/2 way with cool water and stir until salt and sugar are mostly dissolved.  Put in turkey, meat down (or however it will fit best, but be sure the meat is submerged) and fill the rest of the way with water.  Try very, very hard to cover the breast.  However, if it can’t be done, be sure that the meat part is submerged.  The side with the cavity is mostly skin and nasty, so it’s not the end of the world if it sticks out a bit.

This is my turkey breast, meat submerged.

This is my raw turkey, meat submerged.

3)  Allow to brine about 6 hours.  Much longer and you risk the cold water getting too warm.  It will be plenty long, I promise.  If you have a cat who has a bad habit of trying to steal meat twice his size, be sure to put a heavy pot lid on top or be prepared to watch your brine!!!!

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If your cat is eyeing your turkey, you may be in trouble!!! Safely on his favorite perch, Gaius is trying to figure out how to wrestle this turkey breast from the sink...

Ingredients (Part 2):
1 or 2 onions, cut into wedges
2-4 apples, mixed varieties, cut into wedges
3-4 tangerines, wedged and skin-on
3-5 ribs of celery, trimmed to fit in and around turkey
peppercorns, to taste
granulated garlic, to taste
fresh rosemary, to taste
fresh thyme, to taste
1 cup warm water
high smoke point oil (corn, canola, peanut, etc… whatever you’d use for deep frying)

Directions (Part 2):
1)  Remove turkey breast from brine, turn cavity down and allow to drain, 5-10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2)  Pour 1 cup warm water into a 12-inch cast iron skillet (please use cast iron, you’ll thank me later).  Place turkey breast cavity up (meat down) in the skillet.  Stuff about half of your veggies, fruits and seasonings into the cavity (do the best you can).  Layer the rest around the turkey in the skillet.  It really will all fit.  Rub all your exposed breast parts with your oil.  Poke an oven-safe thermometer into the center of the deepest part of your turkey, taking care not to touch the bone (it will throw off your reading).  Tent with foil to prevent burning (not shown) and slide into oven.

Here's my turkey breast, dressed up for it's date with the oven.

Here's my turkey breast, dressed up for it's date with the oven.

3)  When thermometer hits about 150 degrees F, remove turkey breast from oven.  Allow to rest for at least a half hour (carry-over will continue to cook the breast for a little bit and make sure it gets to a safe 160 degrees F).

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I like to double-check my thermometer to be sure that my turkey is safe.

4)  After turkey breast has rested, remove to a large cutting board (preferably over the sink to contain the mess) and carve.  I always pull off the skin and toss it into a LARGE stock pot and do the same with any meat I don’t like the looks of and, of course, the carcass.

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Carcass in a stock pot.

5)  Put about a cup of water into the stock pot, clamp a lid on and let it simmer for 2-4 hours or until the bones are thin and break easily.  Strain out the bones and skin and things, let cool and store in freezer for delicious turkey stock.

6)  While you’re doing the stock, you might as well take that cast iron skillet full of turkey juice and goodies and put it over medium heat.  Simmer it down until the veggies and fruits practically turn to mush.  Strain them out and put the juice back on the stove.  Salt if needed and thicken with a little corn starch or flour.  This makes excellent turkey gravy!!!!!!

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Turkey gravy fodder.

Gluten Free Diet Confusion

Ok, people.  What’s the deal?  While I’ve been researching and designing new recipes to make our gluten free lives a little easier, apparently others are perpetuating bad information on gluten free diets.

So, here we go, a response to the biggest bits of bad info I’ve seen so far.

1)  Gluten is found in all sorts of foods, including rice.  WRONG!!!!  Gluten in the sense of the gluten-free diet is found in wheat, rye and barley (and their hybrid relatives) and sometimes oats, believed to be due to cross-contamination.

2)  Gluten-free diet is so much healthier than eating gluten because it’s evil.  NO!  Gluten isn’t evil unless you can’t eat it for medical reasons.  In America, wheat is a fortified grain… our food producers add extra vitamins, minerals and trace elements.  It’s good for you.  It really is.  I know few better grains than whole wheat.

3)  There’s hidden gluten everywhere, even in rice!  NO!  Plain rice made of rice has no gluten in the sense that we’re talking about.  Fruits, veggies, greens, etc., are naturally gluten free.  Other products frequently disclose gluten sources on their products, through their 1-800 numbers and/or on their websites.  If you bother to look, you can find lots and lots of great products that are gluten free (even Wal-Mart’s store brand has tons of gluten free options).

4)  I can detox my body by eliminating gluten for a short time period.  WRONG!!!  Tell Oprah to stick it.  Gluten-free is a LIFELONG MEDICAL DIET.  Unless you’re undiagnosed and gluten intolerant, eliminating gluten is not going to fix whatever eating habits got you to the place where you thought you’d need to detox.

5)  I should go gluten-free without being tested first.  !! Please don’t!!!  There are lots of good reasons to be tested, including keeping you on the straight and narrow and being able to demonstrate to family members why they should also be tested (you might save your mother’s life).  Also, your doctor should be able to help diagnose other problems that are likely to come hand in hand with the gluten intolerance; it rarely travels alone.

6)  A little gluten won’t hurt me… YES IT WILL!!  Even a little bit of gluten can cause intestinal damage in people with Celiac disease.  Don’t eat it, gluten kills us.

7)  I have to stop eating pizzas, pies, pastries, cookies, etc…. No, never!!  There are many of us out there who are interested in baking (and probably had lots of wheat baking miles under our belts) who are developing and refining recipes to fit our ideas of what real food should taste like, gluten free or not.  My friends and family (and new friends who once were strangers) frequently are unable to tell the difference in my homemade baked goods (and sometimes even prefer the gf versions to the wheat originals).  The only thing I have yet to be able to replicate (or know others who have) is phyllo dough… and I’m sure someone will figure that one out in the next few years. 🙂

So, I hope that clears up some of the confusion.  Gluten-free is not a fad diet, it’s not a New Year’s Resolution, it’s not a game.  People who are on Gluten-free diets are on them for strict medical reasons… primarily Celiac Disease.  Celiacs cannot stray and must ALWAYS be careful about ingesting gluten because it sets off an autoimmune chain reaction that always ends in a sad and dangerous way.

Oh yeah, and just because you have a blog doesn’t give you permission to perpetuate bad information.  If you are irresponsible enough to carry bad information that’s neither properly researched nor entirely true, you could literally be hurting people when it comes to the whole gluten free bit.  Don’t be irresponsible… if you have some sort of know-it-all complex, then you can stick it, too.  People need good information, this isn’t an easy diet in the beginning (it does get easier, I promise).

Personal: Add another one to the pile…

After I was first dxed with CD and began my gluten free adventure, I came across many people who told me that as my CD symptoms improve, I would discover “the rest” of my food allergies.  BAH!  I said… I was certain that CD was my magic bullet.

Tonight we can add another one to the list.  My head hurts so bad that it woke me from sleep, resisted 1 sudafed and three doses of benadryl and is making me want to decapitate myself.  Culprit?  Likely MSG, it’s what’s for dinner.

After looking at the symptoms of MSG reactions on various web sites, some of the strange reactions I have to seemingly random foods now becomes clear.  I have an awful time with flushing after meals, even if it’s not dairy-based… that was what first drove me to the doctor in the way back.  One doctor tried to prescribe anti-anxiety medication because he was convinced that was my problem.

So, I guess MSG may have saved me as much as it’s hurting me right now… because it led me to my new Doc, who helped me discover the CD.

So, if you’re counting, you can now kill me with three things (albeit slowly): gluten, bananas and MSG.  Back to your regularly scheduled program.

Recipe: Not Another Gluten Free Pizza Crust!!!

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PIZZA!

I’m sorry to say it, but yes… it is another GF pizza crust.  Celiacs, rejoice for I have made something of beauty.  I’ve been fiddling with my soft buns recipe to try and make the rise more complete when I lucked upon something that made the best GF pizza I have yet eaten.  Here it be.

Ingredients:
2 oz pineapple juice
1 cup water (120 degrees F)
5 tblsp granulated sugar, separated
2 tblsp active dry yeast
1 cup potato starch
3/4 cup masa harina
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 tblsp xanthan gum
1/2 tblsp salt
2 jumbo eggs
waxed paper (not for eating)

Directions:
1.  For yeast slurry, add pineapple juice and water to a 2+ cup container.  Add 3 tblsp sugar and stir well before adding yeast.  Allow to proof up to 10 minutes, but if your yeast is happy, it should start making bubbles by about 3 minutes.

2.  In the workbowl of your mixer, combine flours, starches, gum, remaining sugar and salt and fluff with paddle attachment.  Add eggs one at a time and fully incorporate before adding the next.  Last, add your yeast slurry.

3.  Mix on med-low until the dough starts to climb the paddle.  Switch to the hook and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough all holds together and is annoyingly sticky.  If your mix is too dry, try adding water a very, very little at a time (1 tsp. at a time is plenty) while you knead with the hook.

4.  Measure out 8 1/2 oz of dough and stick it to some wax paper that’s about twice as long as it is wide.  You’ll want to fold the wax paper over with the dough in the middle to roll out your dough (roll it between 1/8 and 1/4 inch).  Leave your waxed paper packets out at room temperature for at least an hour (90 minutes is better) for the yeast to do its thing.  It’s subtle, but I promise they are working!  Toss your wax paper packets into the freezer for up to an hour or until the dough is easier to handle (it will never be easy to handle, so let that dream go).  When it’s chilled, gently pull the waxed paper loose and deposit onto an appropriately sized cookie sheet or pizza pan.

Bread didn't do so well, but pizza did. Turn it out onto a cookie sheet or something. I like to turn my cookie sheets upside down for this sort of thing because it makes them easier to get off later.

Bread didn't do so well, but pizza did. Turn it out onto a cookie sheet or something. I like to turn my cookie sheets upside down for this sort of thing because it makes baked goods easier to get off later.

5.  I like to crimp the edge of my pizza dough over itself to make it sort of look like a real pizza.  That’s optional, just watch for spills.  Slip your **ROOM TEMPERATURE** shaped pizza dough into a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes.  Be sure to dock it (poke holes in it with a fork) or you risk explosion.

PS. Don't freak if your pizza looks less like this and more like Austrailia. Austrailia tastes good, too. ;)

PS. Don't freak if your pizza looks less like this and more like Austrailia. Austrailia tastes good, too. 😉

6.  After 20 minutes, pull your crust and allow to cool enough to handle.  Dress with your favorite sauce, toppings, cheese, tofu, gravy or whatever else floats your boat.  Stick it back in that oven for 15 minutes (you didn’t turn it off, did you?).  Allow pizza to cool at least 5 minutes before slicing.

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After first baking (20 minutes at 350).

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Dress your pizza. You never need as much sauce or cheese as you might think, so go easy!!

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Once in the oven and back, this is your finished product. Cut and serve!! Try not to cut your sheet pans like I did. Old habits die hard.

Happy, Happy Holidays

I’ve mastered a few new cookies, and will be posting them after the holidays.  I hope you all enjoy your times with your families and that you eat wonderful, gluten free food. 🙂  I will also share my secret to perfect, sweet, succulent turkey breasts… soon… soon. 🙂

Later, taters!
Kristi