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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.

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!

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.

The Turkey Took Over

1 Dec

I had taken a break from blogging for almost 2 weeks. The Thanksgiving holiday took some time to prepare. I was online searching for the perfect Thanksgiving side dishes to add to my mom’s turkey and ham. I eventually found 4 separate recipes that I wanted to make.

Crescent Rolls

Candied Yams

Corn bread stuffing

Pumpkin Pie with graham cracker crust

I got really excited about making dishes for Thanksgiving, that I started preparing the Monday before Thanksgiving. I roasted and pureed the pumpkin for the pie. On Tuesday, I wanted to start drying out the corn bread for the stuffing and I wanted to get the dough for the rolls to rise. (I should have noticed that my dough did NOT rise at this point, more on this in a bit). On Wednesday I made my pumpkin pie and cornbread stuffing. Then started rolling the rolls into crescents. Thursday morning I made the yams.

For the corn bread, I used Bob’s Red Mill corn bread mix. I also used chicken sausage instead of pork sausage. I think it turned out great. My husband liked it so much he didn’t really want to leave any one else any of the leftovers, but he said that it tasted best on the first day he ate it.

The Candied Yams was the perfect amount. We had about 15 people (3 small children included) and we ate it all. It was easy to make and I would make them again.

This pumpkin pie recipe was a little different from others that I had come across. For one, it used graham crackers for the crust. I found a box of gluten-free graham crackers to use. It also called for a lot of coconut-based ingredients like palm sugar, coconut milk, and coconut oil. It cooked pretty well and came out custardy. When I first ate it there was an overwhelming coconut essence which took some getting used to. Though on the next day and following day when I had a piece, it tasted even better than the first day! I would try this recipe again but with a flaky crust, maybe.

Ok, my major failure was the crescent rolls. They were fun to roll but they really tasted awful. The kids even spit them out! They came out pretty flat which my sister indicated was probably because the yeast didn’t interact and cause the dough to rise. It could also be the all-purpose flour I used; Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free all-purpose flour has a certain metallic taste from the bean flour they use. This will probably be my last time using the mix. Not sure if it’s worth trying again.

Overall, my family enjoyed the dishes I brought to the table. Even though I told my mom that I was bringing over these dishes, she just is the type to over-do holiday meals, so she made another sweet potato dish, sticky rice (a Chinese tradition), noodles, and potato salad (my brother’s favorite dish). Of course she made everything without wheat, eggs, or dairy (except the potato salad). So the short of it, we had a lot to eat and plenty of leftovers!

We went back the next day to eat turkey porridge… always my favorite after Thanksgiving meal!

Tune into this Tuna Casserole Recipe

21 Nov

Although tuna casserole is considered a comfort food for many, I didn’t grow up on this stuff. On special occasions my dad would make a mean meatloaf; and at times as an after-school snack, I’d make mac and cheese from the box. That’s pretty much as far as it goes for traditional American comfort foods with me. I bought a couple of cans of Starkist Albacore tuna from Safeway the other day and had no idea what I would do with them. I thought about making a tuna salad but that would entail looking for substitute mayonnaise. So I researched instead on tuna casseroles without wheat, dairy, eggs, or nuts. It’s pretty tough to find one that matches to a tee.

The first result on Google for “gluten-free, dairy-free tuna casserole” was from food.com with pretty good reviews (5 stars from 5 reviewers). It uses an olive oil based mayonnaise. (So I guess I could make a tuna salad – there is a olive oil based mayonnaise – who knew?!) The second result came from a Celiac Disease website and it used a non-dairy cream of mushroom soup and non-dairy cheese. (Hmm learning about new dairy-free products everyday). Wholefoods rounded out the 3rd result, but it did not get a good review, only 1 star from 1 reviewer.

With those recipes in mind, I went out and bought a jar of egg-free mayonnaise and shredded non-dairy cheese, but forgot about the non-dairy cream of mushroom soup. However, I was still not “feeling” it with the recipes. So I continued down the Google result list and came across Dance While You Cook’s Stellar Tuna Casserole – and I stopped looking.

This recipe was so detailed and came with pictures that it looked like something I could do. It did take a few more pots and pans than my usual wok, but I followed her preparation method pretty closely and my tuna casserole came out fantastic. I have to work on Mantou, I do not think he likes peas, but he liked the tuna, noodles, and mushrooms. My husband went for 3 servings!

It’s better if you follow her detailed instructions on her website. She provide pictures too. However I did have to make some alterations to the ingredients mentioned in her recipe

  • 16 oz rice pasta  <— I had an opened pack of Tinkyada rice noodles but it wasn’t enough so I also added some quinoa pasta (I think Mantou preferred the rice pasta) – you can pretty much use any kind of pasta)
  • 3C almond milk <– can’t do nuts, so I used unsweetened coconut milk beverage from Trader Joe’s
  • 2 TBS cooking sherry <– didn’t have any sherry so substituted Michu rice wine
  • potato chips or sliced almonds <– no potato chips, if there were I would eat them in one seating, also we’re nut free so no almonds. I had some Glutino bread crumbs in the pantry so used that instead.
  • paprika <– could have sworn I had paprika but it was cayenne pepper. Probably should stick with paprika here.

Ok, so check out Dance While You Can’s version of tuna casserole. It’s another keeper but it does take some effort and time to prepare.

Beef Kebabs and Quinoa Tabbouleh

15 Nov

I found a great recipe to use with my grass-fed ground beef and found it on the Wholefoods site of all places.  It’s listed as “Grass-Fed Ground Beef Kebabs” but from reading the comments below, it’s pretty much Beef Kofta, a Middle Eastern meatball – mixture of ground beef and/or lamb with spices and onions – skewered and grilled. So there are other variations, but I stuck with this particular recipe.

For the life of me I cannot cut an onion without tearing up! And in this particular recipe I had to shred it! Goodness, my eyes were so blurred I had to move away from the kitchen not only once but about 3 times! Is there a method to cutting onion without crying?

The rest of the preparation for this recipe was not at all hard to do. The only thing different from the recipe directions was that I put it in the oven versus grilling them. I don’t own a grill so it’s a bit difficult to do without. I do however have an oven with a broil setting.

Ingredients

1 1/3 pounds ground grass-fed beef
1/4 cup grated white onion
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients together, except the olive oil. Use your hands for mixing. Form the beef mixture into 8 oblong patties and thread 2 per skewer. Note: Make sure the beef has come to room temperature before broiling them. Lightly brush the patties with oil and place on top of a wire wrack on a baking pan lined with foil. The pan should be about 6 inches away from the top burner. Let brown for 3 minute then turn them around and broil for another 3 minutes.

I also tinkered with the associated recipe on the Wholefoods website for gluten-free Tabbouleh using quinoa. I used all the ingredients mentioned in this recipe except I handled the preparation a little differently. I blame it on my husband who said that to make good tabbouleh is to chop up all the ingredients to itty-bitty pieces. It’s a lot of work but is only the best way to make it, I say just put it in the food processor and chop-chop…. but alas I chopped everything up by hand (with some assistance from dear husband).

By the way, prepare the quinoa ahead of time to allow for it too cool or reach room temperature. Also, the recipe calls for 1 cup quinoa, that should be cooked quinoa. I prepared 1 cup of uncooked quinoa, I thought it looked like a lot. It’s also probably why my husband, my expert on tabbouleh, mentioned that our dish looked like it didn’t have enough parsley.

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup of tomato with seeds removed and finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons, more to taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients together in a large serving bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, black pepper, red pepper and lemon juice. Serve room temperature or chilled.

I thought the meal was amazing as did my husband. Mantou was a huge fan of the beef kebabs but not so much for the quinoa. I think it was too flavorful for him and his little tastebuds couldn’t handle it. My husband said we should introduce all kinds of flavors to Mantou now. I think we might as well starve him, Mantou knows what he likes and doesn’t like.

Feeling a bit Thai’d Up

15 Nov

My friend was coming over for dinner and I had not defrosted any meat to prepare a meal and was not feeling especially excited about cooking at the moment. I was thinking about my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood and Thaiger was the first restaurant that popped in my head. But the weather was rainy and cold so I felt too lazy to trek over there since it was north of me. So I figured I’d make my own Pad Thai (minus peanuts and egg). Haha, yeah from not feeling like cooking to totally wanting to make Pad Thai is very random for me, but I got excited becausse I’ve never made it before. Plus even though I didn’t want to go out to get pre-made Thai food from my favorite restaurant, I still had to go out to the grocery store to buy most of the ingredients. Yeah I had a very confusing night, but I had to pass the grocery store anyway, from picking up Mantou from daycare.

But I was glad I did, the pad thai turned out great. When I was looking up recipes online I actually started with the search being “gluten free vegan pad thai” and I got a few good results but nothing that really looked authentic.  But when the results actually come up saying “authentic” then it’s worth a second glance; from the blog Savory Sweet Life, I used her Pad Thai Recipe.

This was my first attempt to make pad thai from scratch so I had to buy some vital ingredients. For the sauce I needed to buy tamarind concentrate and palm sugar. In the recipe the sauce was “ready” after the palm sugar dissolved into the fish sauce, tamarind, and garlic mixture and the blogger suggested to taste it to see if it needed to add extra sugar or spice. When I first tasted it, it was soooooo salty! I was a little scared that I might have to throw it out. I added two tablespoons of brown sugar just to tame it a bit. Fish sauce was the culprit, I have no idea of there is a certain brand to buy or if all fish sauce was this salty. Anyway, I put the sauce aside and prepared my rice noodles and tofu.

I only needed to boil the rice noodles for ~5 minutes, I didn’t want them to get too mushy. In the meantime I cut up a block of tofu into thirds then sprinkled some rice flour on them. I heated up some corn oil and let the pan get warmed up then tossed two slabs of tofu into the pan. When the bottoms of the tofu turned golden (leave them in the pan for a couple of minutes untouched) I flipped them over so the other side would turn brown. When the two were done I put the third slab onto the pan to fry. Then I put the tofu aside, let them cool before further cutting them into cubes.

I heated a wok and added some oil then added the garlic and onion, letting the onions soften. I added the carrots next since I like carrots to be cooked a little longer. Then I added the cooked noodles and tossed them all together. Added the Pad Thai sauce and evenly mixed it in with the noodles. I added the bean sprouts, green onion, then tofu to the noodles and again tossed them in the wok. When I tasted the complete dish the saltiness of the sauce disappeared. The Pad Thai all came together at the end. I did get a complaint later that it was a little too sweet, so I should have not added those 2 extra tablespoons of brown sugar.

Buckwheat Pancakes

6 Nov

That extra hour that we got when we change our clocks back this morning is marvelous! It also helps that the sun came out as well, considering yesterday was grey, cold and rainy. Even Mantou woke up with a lot of spunk. He was jumping all over the house (our poor downstairs neighbors already dislike us). So for breakfast to keep the mood right, I decided to make some buckwheat pancakes from scratch. I even ground up my own buckwheat flour, in a coffee grinder no less.

I found the buckwheat pancake recipe from Fitter than Choc but I didn’t add the blueberries. I just made them plain. They were quite delicious and I will love to make them again. Even the amount was perfect.

Ingredients 

  • Egg replacer for 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup soy milk (I used sweetened)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup  applesauce
  • 3/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

In a medium-size bowl, prepare the egg replacer according to the instructions. When that is mixed well add the milk, oil, and maple syrup. Mix together then add the applesauce.

In a large bowl, add buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Mix well.

Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix well.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour some oil into the pan to lightly cover the bottom. Pour a ladle full of batter onto the pan and let it sit until bubbles form and pop. Flip them over and let the other side cook until slightly brown.

Serve warm.

The pancakes came out fluffy but still a little heavy in weight. I blame the applesauce but I’m sure it is the type of flour too. I thought the recipe was great and thought using both the egg replacer and applesauce was a clever way of substituting for 3 eggs.