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16 Jan

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Asian Noodle Options

6 Jan

When I am at at Chinese restaurant that specializes in noodles, there are usually just two noodle types I could choose between, the thin rice vermicelli or the chewy rice ovalettes. I think about getting the rice vermicelli some times but I always end up ordering the rice ovalettes. The vermicelli can be a little bland but the rice ovalettes keep more flavor. I order the dish with salted mustard greens and shredded pork instead of a stir-fried version with soy sauce (most Chinese restaurants don’t have wheat-free Tamari on hand). Since I’m usually ordering the same noodle dish, I figured I could try to learn and make them myself. In doing so I have discovered a whole lot of other options of Asian noodles. There are rice noodles, green bean noodles, potato starch noodles… it’s a whole new world of noodles. Here’s a great write up of 11 types of Gluten-Free Asian Noodles from the Kitchn.

Noodles dishes are a big thing for my family. We intentionally serve noodles during birthdays because long noodles means a long life. We eat nian gao (the rice ovalettes) during Chinese New year. Nian gao translates into sticky cake and my mom says we eat nian gao so that our luck can stick on us and continue into the following year. (Actually there are two versions of nian gao the savory noodle dish or a sweet cake version which is more like a dessert- but for purpose sake I’m writing about the savory dish). I found a recipe online from Steamy Kitchen with great pictures and is probably very similar to what I get at the restaurants. I haven’t tried it out yet but would definitely try it with with wheat-free soy. I would include my own recipe but I haven’t really measured all my ingredients and it’s similar to what I previous wrote in a previous blog entry about Noodles. Seriously all my noodles have similar ingredients but because of the type of noodles I use, the flavors may be slightly different based on the noodle itself. For example, a rice vermicelli noodles stir-fry would need more oil otherwise it would be too dry. I just made a nian gao noodle dish this week that was so good, I altered my ingredients a tad by adding a touch of sesame oil and cilantro. Yummy!

 

Steel Cut Oats

5 Jan

My friend lives in Connecticut and I had invited myself over to visit her before we visited my in-laws for Christmas. (Hey it’s along to way, isn’t it ? kind of but no really – we had to fly into Chicago with a 2 hour layover. Then when we went to m in-laws we had to stop in Baltimore for 3 hours. At least when we flew back home we had a 2 hour layover in Vegas). Before coming out she asked me what we usually ate for breakfast and was trying to her best to accommodate our allergen-free diet. I told her that we ate oatmeal for most mornings, so on our first morning there she made us some steel cut oats. I can’t say it was my first time eating it but still that stuff is so delicious. We had it the following morning too! When I got home I made sure to pick some up at the store. It’s just so unfortunate that it takes a half hour to cook. I rather sleep in, haha.

Last Date Night of 2011

1 Jan

My husband and I didn’t have any plans for New Years Eve. I hadn’t planned anything, nor did he have anything up his sleeve. So I kind of suggested he plan something. He sent out an email to a bunch of our friends to see if anyone wanted to go to karaoke. These karaoke places in the bay area are really cool because you can reserve a room all to yourself and pick and choose from silly videos of mainstream songs. You don’t have to embarrass yourself in front of random strangers, just your friends. Well, no one was slightly interested in karaoke so we scratched those plans. Then on Friday, the 30th my husband calls me and tells me he made a reservation at a restaurant who serves New Orleans style dishes. He spoke with the chef and he would accommodate the foods we avoid – tree nuts, wheat, eggs, dairy, peanuts. Now we had to hire a sitter… almost didn’t get one and actually called the restaurant to cancel our reservation only to call them back 10 minutes later to keep it; my aunt heard I needed a babysitter from Facebook.

We arrive at CreoLa at 8:30 PM, the parking lot was packed and we found whatever parking we could find. When we arrived, the hostess asked for our reservations and told us to wait while she look into our table. The chef, Edwin, then came out and introduced himself and told us that he is well prepared to accommodate us and had prepared a dessert for us. BTW, this is a major whoohoo for me because we can never find a restaurant with a dessert menu that would suit us – it would either have nuts, eggs, flour, and/or dairy, and I LOVE sweets. I’m such a sweet tooth.

When our waiter approached our table for our order, we told him about our allergies and he knew about each of the dishes and how the chef could possibly make it suitable for us. For example, the shrimp appetizers would usually be battered and fried but they grilled them for us. We then had a salad, which it was supposed to be a pear salad and we didn’t get any pear so I wonder if it was soaked in something that we couldn’t eat. We didn’t ask since we forgot that the salad was even supposed to have pears until someone at a nearby table mentioned pears.

For the main entree, my husband had the pork chops and I ordered the smoked duck leg. The pork chops were cooked to a perfect temperature and came out moist and tender. It was a little too salty for me but it was my husband’s dish and he enjoyed each morsel. My duck was very good and the blood orange glaze was a great touch.

So the dessert was not on the menu but it was ice cream sandwiches made from coconut ice cream and rice crackers, with a caramelized banana. It was sprinkled with edible flowers. It was delicious and I wanted to lick the plate!

 

It was a wonderful last date night of 2011. My aunt came through on the last minute babysitting and we found a new restaurant worth going to again. We didn’t quite make it to midnight, we were in bed by 11:30 PM. We’re not quite the young and spunky… especially knowing that a little one would be waking up early the next morning.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope 2012 will bring happiness, joy, and adventure. I will continue on my own adventure and continue on our allergen-free diet for Mantou. I hope I can provide more stories this year on how we deal with Mantou’s allergies. He’ll be realizing soon enough that he can’t eat everything everyone else is eating. Happy 2012!

Soy Milk Maker

30 Dec

Two years ago we made a deal with my sister and brother that we would not give gifts for each other. Then we thought… well dear brother is still young so we’ll still give him a gift. Well that Christmas, my sister still bought me and RedDuck gifts. She considered them small but we didn’t get them anything, nada! So this year even though we said we still weren’t going to buy each other gifts, I went out and bought my sister and brother-in-law something small. I knew she would buy us something again. And I was right! She bought us a soy milk maker!

We now own a Soyajoy G3 Soy Milk Maker. The instructions said to clean it first so that it would remove any metalic taste from the machine’s first use. I filled water to between the min and max water line, added a drop of liquid soap detergent, plugged it in, pressed the nuts/beans button and let it do it’s work. When I can around there were soap suds surrounding the pot. I was kind of put off since the machine has a sensor, it should shut off when it overflows, right? Anyway, it was fine and I rinsed it and dried it to start my first soy milk making experience.

And then I read you have to soak the soybeans for 6-10 hours. Geez, that’s a long time… that’s why people soak the beans the night before and make milk in the mornings. So I measured out the approximate beans and soaked them in water. That was 11:30 AM. I went back to it after putting Mantou to bed around 8:00 PM. I added the water in between the min and max water line, added the beans, plugged it in, pressed the nuts/beans button and let it do it’s work, again. I went to watch an episode of The Office and about 2 minutes before the episode was finished, I hear a beeping sound. The soy milk was done! Well not quite, I still have to sieve off the soybean pulp so I used the strainer over the plastic container that they provided and slowly poured the hot soy milk into the container. I pressed the pulp to get as much soy milk out of them. Then I let it cool.

When it was cool enough I tasted it without adding any sugar. There was a slight “egg” taste but I had read about that in the Amazon review. It wasn’t very strong. We poured the milk into mason jars and put it in the fridge. The next day when we went to open the container the egg fume filled our nostrils. At first it was a bit much but our noses quickly adjusted and my husband thought it was great with a bit of sugar in his cereal.

Now we just have to make sure Mantou isn’t allergic to soy. We had been giving him soy milk in his bag for day care. I had noticed that the area around his mouth was red. Since soy milk was the only “new” thing we had given him it might be the culprit. The redness has gone but RedDuck thinks we should re-introduce the soy milk and watch if the redness appears again. It seams though that if it is a soy reaction, it doesn’t bother him except for the physical redness.

Egg Nog for Breakfast

29 Dec

I have officially tried 3  dairy-free “egg” nogs this holiday season, Earth Balance, So Delicious, and Silk versions.

The Silk Nog was by far the closest thing to egg nog. Yup here I go comparing the real thing. Even if you ask my brother he’ll tell you that it’s not quite egg nog. It was thick and noggy with a slight taste back to soy. The So Delicious brand was excellent at first sip, but once it goes down, that coconut aftertaste kind of ruined the initial egg nog taste. It’s not a bad thing, just not what I was expecting after that first sip. The Earth Balance brand was thinner and some of the spices just didn’t add up to egg nog so it wasn’t our favorite.

One awesome thing I learned from So Delicious was that you could make Egg Nog French Toast! Since we celebrated Christmas early at my in-laws and planned to be there for the week , we had hit Whole Foods earlier. We bough a loaf of brown rice bread and the egg nog. (BTW, I couldn’t find the So Delicious brand at my Whole Foods, weird). Knowing that towards the end of the week our loaf of bread would not be eaten by anyone but ourselves, we decided to try out the recipe for French Toast. I actually saw the recipe online so I was searching for it on the computer and my husband tells me the next day that it was right on the carton, duh! We had so much batter left over that we ended up making french toast twice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe banans
  • 2 cups So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 8 slices gluten-free bread (We used Life is Good Brown Rice Bread)
  • Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Blend bananas, coconut nog, cinnamon, and vanilla in a blender and pour into bowl. Immerse bread slices into the bowl letting them soak up mixture on all sides.

Heat a non-stick pan on Med-High and add a layer butter. When pan is hot, add the bread slices to the pan, heating slowly until bottom is golden brown. Turn and brown the other side.

Serve with maple syrup

Mochi Pancakes

29 Dec

On Christmas Eve morning I wanted to make some buckwheat pancakes but didn’t have the buckwheat flour at hand so I found something new, a pancake made from rice flour. I found the recipe on Serious Eats. I had never made pancakes from rice flour before, nor from glutinous rice flour at that. If any recipe calls for sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour I usually associate it with mochi. Most people in the US are familiar with the Japanese version of the mochi of sweet rice balls with sweet filling. My grandma used to make mochis with peanuts and sugar, ahh so yummy! There’s even a Hawaiian version of mochi desserts that is usually just the sweet rice flour mixed with some sweet syrup or juice.

Alas, I digress… so back to making mochi pancakes, the reason I call them mochi pancakes is because when you bite into one you get a denser pancake, one that reminds me of the Hawaiian version of mochi. Except it has a pancakes taste probably from the vanilla.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 large eggs or egg substitute (EnerG Replacer)
  • 1.5 cup soymilk (separate 1 cup, 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum. Prepare the EnerG Replacer as instructed on the box. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup soy milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and add the egg replacement. Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Your batter should not be a little runny. If it is not, add another 1/4-1/2 cup of milk to think it out.

Lightly oil a non-stick pan. Heat pan over medium-high heat. Pour batter onto pan to about 3 inch diameter.

Cook for approximately 3 minutes. Flip pancakes when bubbles appear all over the surface of the pancake and begin to pop. The pancake should begin to look almost dry. Flip and cook another 1-1 1/2 minutes.

 

Mantou loved them, he ate about 2.5 of these all by himself and asked for more, more, more!

A New Christmas Cookie

26 Dec

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was yet another great one. We celebrated with my husband’s side of the family earlier this month. So it has been quite a stretched out period, and we got our Christmas presents out of the way for the most part. Mantou has 9 cousins from that side of the family. My parents celebrate on the day of Christmas so we had a feast at their house. Both meals were made with care and were great as usual. Though I didn’t make any dishes this year, I did help a little in the kitchen. I helped with baking cookies!

At my in-laws, I used the pre-packaged chocolate chip cookie dough from King Arthur Flour and added some cranberries and coconut. The cookies came out pretty flat and crumbly. They had to be completely cool before lifting off the baking sheet and still needed delicate handling- I broke a few of them. They were good enough to snack on when we had our cookies after opening the stockings. I might add some orange zest in that combo if I make it again. My mother-in-law found a recipe for cranberry coconut cookies in the newspaper that evening and in the recipe they had orange zest as an ingredient. I think that would have worked well with the cookie. I think the kids were expecting chocolate chip cookies though and got a surprise mouthful of dried cranberries… so warn the kids first.

I made a shortbread cookie from an online recipe for Christmas with my parents. It only had 4 ingredients, plus the jam that I used to make thumbprint cookies. Though I was waiting for them to brown, they didn’t quite do so, giving the cookie a pale look. It was ok because the little jewel of jam gave it color. They tasted great and I would make them again next year since they are so easy and require 4 ingredients, cornstarch, rice flour, butter (used Earth’s Balance), and confectioners sugar…. no milk, no eggs! The recipe I used is from food.com called Gluten-free Melt-in-your-mouth Shortbread.

My friend just gave me a frosting set as a Christmas gift, maybe next time I will make sugar-cookies with cute frosting designs :)

Just a Blur

22 Dec

Wow it’s almost Christmas already and I have slacked big time on my blog posts. It’s not that I have not been cooking allergy-friendly foods or anything like that. I’ve been more busy reading through other people’s blog posts and picking out recipes I want to try. I find that “pinning” them on Pinterest helps me go back to those recipes because it has the picture from the blog (that reminds me how appetizing it is) and I write a little note on what is allergy friendly for us or if ingredients can be substituted. Look for me at http://pinterest.com/mantousmom/

I remember having a few recipes I needed to try for Thanksgiving, however I’m not as obsessed in looking for Christmas recipes. The posts I find relative to Christmas is mostly sweet stuff like cookies. Plus does anyone know how to substitute almond flour with one that is wheat-free? There’s a bunch of gluten-free recipes that look amazing but it’s grain-free, which means it probably has a nut flour. So I’m still on my allergen-free diet and scouring new recipes constantly.

Meal for Us

5 Dec

I have many wonderful friends and am ever so lucky that one of them loves to cook creatively. She actually enjoys the challenge. She thought that making food for my family would be a good one. We were invited over this weekend to her lovely home, with a great kitchen, where she prepared a wonderful spread of Indian-themed cuisine that was dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, and nut-free. She even whipped up a salad dressing when she saw that the store-bought one would not suit our needs. Plus for dessert she made us some chocolate molasses spiced cookies! OMG she is wonderful!

I have no idea what the names of the dishes so either I am guessing what it’s called or will list the main ingredients in them…

1. Basmati Rice

2. Spicy jalapeno potatoes

3. Curried chicken

4. Saag – Indian spiced-spinach

5. Garden salad which included her on the whim dressing – vinegar, mustard, herbs with lavendar (YUMMY!)

Why don’t I ever remember to take pictures?! I wish I was as talented as she because it looks like cooking comes second nature to her. I am so thankful for her hospitality and taking on a crazy spread like she did. I’ll have to try making Indian food too. I’ll have to invest in some spices. I thought it was funny when my friend opened a drawer in her kitchen and it was just purely spices.

It’s a bonus to spend time with her family too, her little boy is ridiculously cute and smart. Our boys are two months apart. Mantou thanks him for sharing his fun and “scary” toys.  I look forward to our next get-together.

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