Lemon chicken alfredo

April 27, 2010

Some dishes are renown for the hard work that goes into making them delicious. But there are plenty of dishes that are famously delicious simply thanks to their ingredients. Like Alfredo. So, do not be dismayed if you are on a gluten-free diet that you cannot open a jar of Alfredo sauce from the shelf and dump it on your (brown rice) pasta. This is not hard, and it’s better.

Alfredo sauce might be elementary, but good chicken is another story. Making boneless chicken that isn’t dried out and rubbery always presents a challenge. I have, thus, become a big fan of brining my chicken whenever I get the chance and cooking it “quickly” at high temperatures. This is not hard, either, but it does require some forethought. And it’s really not absolutely necessary, but I believe this extraordinary sauce deserves a worthy accompaniment.

Alfredo Sauce

  • zest of 1 lemon and the juice of half the lemon (reserve juice of other half for chicken)
  • 3 T salted butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 1 C grated Parmesan (or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the cornstarch, the grated zest of 1 lemon and the minced garlic. Let the butter heat until foaming a bit, then add the cream. Simmer until the mixture has thickened, then stir in the Parmesan, sugar, nutmeg and juice of half a lemon. Take off the heat. Toss with brown rice pasta.

Chicken

  • 1 –  1 ½ lbs boneless chicken
  • ¼ C sugar
  • ¼ C salt
  • water to cover
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Fresh minced herbs, such as parsley and chives

In a large plastic resealable bag or a container with a cover, dissolve 1/4 C table salt and 1/4 C sugar in a couple cups of water. When it has dissolved, add the 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of boneless chicken breast and add more cold water, enough to completely submerge the chicken. Brine the chicken in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse thoroughly under running water. Pat the chicken dry and place in an oven pan. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle generously with fresh ground black pepper and garlic powder. Place the chicken in an oven preheated to 500 degrees. Cook the chicken for around 20 minutes, (depending on the thickness) or until the chicken starts to brown a bit. After removing the chicken from the oven, squirt on the juice of half a lemon and let it rest, loosely tented with foil, 5 to 10 minutes. Cut the chicken into slices and serve over pasta tossed with Alfredo sauce, reserving a bit of the sauce to spoon over the chicken. Garnish with fresh herbs.


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One particularly difficult challenge for many people learning to eat and cook gluten-free for the first time is finding an alternative to the beloved can of cream-of-mushroom soup for sprucing up dinner. So this is for the cream-of-mushroom fans. It’s true that this will take a little longer to make than it would take to open the can, but it will be worth it. Spoon it over your roasted pork loin or add some peas and ground beef for a hamburger helper meal! You can dress it up or down. Add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch if you would like a very thick sauce.

  • 4 T butter
  • 8z sliced mushrooms
  • 2 diced shallots
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 2 C white wine
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp herbs de provence
  • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ C crème fraîche or sour cream

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots and saute until the mushrooms are soft and the liquid has evaporated from the pan (just before they start to brown). Sprinkle the cornstarch over the mushrooms and stir to combine well. Add the white wine and the Dijon mustard and turn up the heat to medium high, simmering until the sauce has reduced and thickened. When the sauce has reached your desired consistency, take it off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste, the herbs de provence and the crème fraiche or sour cream.

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The best smashed potatoes

February 15, 2010

I have been slacking on the recipes, I know. We are a little crazy with school and the little ones. But, for Valentine’s Day, we took a break and prepared a lovely meal. Actually, it was the best meal we have ever eaten, according to my husband. On the menu were these smashed potatoes. They have color and intense flavor. And just trust me on the orange juice! It won’t make your potatoes taste fruity – it just brings out the sweetness of the carrots. (Thank you America’s Test Kitchen for the tips on steaming potatoes and root veggies together). Enjoy!

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 2 carrots, peeled, sliced lengthwise and cut into thin, half-moon slices
  • 1 leek, rinsed, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch half-moon slices.
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs yellow potatoes, scrubbed and cut into half moon slices
  • ½ C orange juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 2/3 C heavy cream or half and half

Melt the olive oil and butter in a medium, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Cook the carrots in the oil and butter for about 5 minutes, until the carrots start to brown a bit, adjusting the heat as necessary. Add the leeks and cook everything for another 5 minutes or so, until the leeks also become golden brown. Stir in the minced garlic, salt, freshly ground pepper (to taste). Then add the potatoes and the orange juice. Simmer, covered, over low heat for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and all the liquid is absorbed. When finished cooking, mash the potatoes and stir in the cream. Serve immediately.

Lamb curry

January 28, 2010

I am really not sure if this is technically a curry, korma, masala, or what. I just know it is very tasty! This makes a pretty big pot of curry, so be sure to invite your friends over to enjoy this meal with you. The lamb is very easy to prepare if you have a little time to let it slow-roast in the oven. Remember to make sure your curry powder is gluten-free, as some brands include wheat flour as a filler. If you are a real curry enthusiast, try grinding your own curry powder. And don’t forget the “gluten free naan!”

Roasted Lamb:

  • 3lb lamb shoulder
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • curry powder
  • salt

Preheat the oven to its highest temperature. Separate the cloves from one bulb of garlic, placing half to two thirds of them, unpeeled, in the bottom of a roasting pan. Liberally rub the lamb shoulder all over with salt and curry powder. Place the lamb on top of the garlic cloves (fat side up) and place the remaining garlic cloves on top of the lamb. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, place it in the oven, and turn the heat down to about 325 degrees. Roast the lamb for about 3 hours, or longer if needed, until the meat easily pulls apart with a fork.

Curry:

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • ghee or oil
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 ½ C cashew pieces
  • 1 32z can of tomato puree
  • 2 16.5z cans of diced or stewed tomatoes
  • 3 C heavy cream
  • salt
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

Pulverize the cashew pieces in a food processor, or crush them in a plastic bag with the handle of a heavy kitchen utensil (or mallet). In a large pot, heat a couple tablespoons of ghee or oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and the crushed cashews and continue to cook  until the onion is almost caramelized. Add the roasted lamb meat and about half of the roasted garlic from the roast to the pot (just squeeze the garlic from its peel and crush it into the side of the pot). Then add the minced ginger, the tomato puree and the diced tomatoes and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the cream and gently simmer for another few minutes to let the flavors combine. Season with salt as needed and stir in the fresh, chopped cilantro right before serving. Serve over steamed white rice.

Cheesy potato and leek soup

January 16, 2010

Sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got. And I have a lot of potatoes, leeks and cheese available to me at the nearby market! This is nothing to complain about…I often craved a leek and a good hunk of cheese while I was in the States. So here is a simple, hearty soup that you can modify to your own tastes. Use yellow onions instead of leeks if you like, add some carrots or peas, and maybe a little diced ham if you would like.

For those of you who are curious about how the gluten free baking is going, I am almost through the stash of sorghum flour that I brought with me and I have not found any yet at the African markets nearby where we live. I have found tapioca starch at the Asian market nearby, as well as Fou Fou flour, or manioc/cassava flour, which is similar to tapioca starch. There is also an abundant and inexpensive supply of potato starch, which I may begin to substitute for cornstarch in my quick breads and cakes. Seeing though as I have not found an acceptable substitute for my staple flour, sorghum, I may have to order a bulk supply of sorghum flour from the States, which will, believe it or not, be considerably less expensive than using any of the gluten free baking mixes I have found here, and I just love that flour for its taste, texture and health. It is an exciting adventure to experiment with locally available grains! But I am definitely missing the incredible variety of gluten free options that I previously enjoyed. Anyway, perhaps I will find some sorghum flour in Paris at one of the African markets there.

Cheesy Potato and Leek Soup

• olive oil
• 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and sliced thinly (or 1 large yellow onion, diced)
• 3 large cloves of garlic, minced.
• 5 to 6 medium yellow potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks or half moon slices
• salt and pepper
• 4 cups of chicken broth (gluten free)
• 4 T butter
• 2 T cornstarch
• 1 C milk
• 2 C shredded cheddar cheese
• optional: some diced ham

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium to medium high heat and sauté the leeks until they are wilted and perhaps a little golden. Add the minced garlic, some salt and pepper to taste and cook for another minute. Add the diced potatoes and the chicken broth and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes. During the last ten to fifteen minutes of the soup’s cooking time, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the cornstarch to form a roux. When the roux is bubbling and fragrant, stir in the milk, and heat the mixture until it thickens, stirring frequently. Then add the cheese and stir until the sauce is smooth. Take your potato and leek soup of the heat and stir in the cheese sauce until everything is well incorporated. Also add some chopped ham at the end if desired.

My apologies for taking so long to post another recipe. We moved a couple of times toward the end of 2009, most recently to a town near Paris, France to attend a French language school. We are living in something of a family style dorm and I have a small kitchenette with limited tools to cook our meals. I am not sure what the next year holds for us in terms of culinary adventures, with the use of two electric burners, a tiny refrigerator and a small oven hanging near my head. But thank goodness I cannot eat gluten! I cannot resort to packaged convenience meals…my family will have real vegetables.

I was delighted by the food selection at the discount grocer a couple blocks from our apartment today. Some things, like peanut butter, were conspicuously absent from the shelves. But when I quickly realized that I had an excuse to eat Nutella, a delicious chocolaty spread, on my gluten free bread, I got over my loss of peanut butter. I have yet to determine where I will find gluten free flours, but there are several grocery stores I still have not visited. Tomatoes, leeks, shallots and olive oil were a much better price and quality than I usually encountered in the States, and so I was inspired to make the stew below.

Ideally, you would brown the meat in a dutch oven and slow cook the stew in the oven. But as this is not an option for me, I browned and simmered the stew in a pot on the stove. This is another no measuring allowed recipe. Just sprinkle and taste until you are satisfied. I used white wine and white balsamic vinegar as it was what I had on hand, but red for both would be wonderful and maybe preferable depending on your tastes. Bon appetit!

  • 1 ½ – 2 lb beef stew meat
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium to large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large leek, white and yellow part only, rinsed and sliced.
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 or 5 medium yellow potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
  • 1 14.5z can of stewed tomatoes
  • white balsamic vinegar (or red)
  • 2 cubes of beef bouillon (gluten-free, *optional)
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine (or red)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • herbes de Provence, or thyme

Pat your stew meat dry with a paper towel or two so that it will brown nicely. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven or large stew pot, enough to lightly coat the bottom. Heat the oil over medium high heat until hot. Drop the beef into the pot, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and brown on all sides. Remove the stew meat to a plate. Add the diced yellow onion, shallots, garlic, leeks and a little more salt and pepper to the hot oil in the pot and cook over medium to medium high heat until the onions are translucent. Add the carrots, yellow potatoes, stewed tomatoes, a drizzle or two of balsamic vinegar (maybe a tablespoon?) and a good sprinkling of the herbes de Provence. Stir to combine. Add the browned stew meat back into the pot, the beef bouillon if desired and the bottle of wine. Simmer on low heat with lid ajar for about 2 hours. Taste to see if the stew needs additional salt and adjust accordingly.

Serve over steamed white rice or with some fresh gluten-free bread.

Roasted cranberry chicken

December 16, 2009

Perhaps you have a can of cranberry sauce in your cupboard, leftover from Thanksgiving, that you don’t know what to do with. This recipe is for you. The brining step is optional if you are trying to cut back on your sodium, don’t have time, or don’t like the taste of brined meat. If you do have the time and forethought, the brine will guarantee moist and flavorful chicken through and through. You might want to start at the lower end of the brining time your first time making the chicken, brining it longer the next time if you would have liked more flavor, as the 6 hours of brining might make the chicken too salty for some tastes. Serve the chicken and gravy with steamed brown rice and roasted butternut squash.

Brine:

  • ¼ C salt
  • ¼ C sugar
  • a few long sprigs of rosemary (optional)
  • water
  • one gallon resealable plastic bag

Chicken:

  • 3 ½ to 4 lbs bone in chicken breasts with skin
  • 3 T softened, unsalted butter
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 1 T chopped ginger
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can of cranberry sauce (whole berry or jellied)

Fill the resealable plastic bag one third to half full of lukewarm water. Add the salt and sugar, swishing it around a bit to help it dissolve. Add the chicken breasts and rosemary and seal the bag. Place the bag in a in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 hours. Remove the chicken from the bag and rinse it thoroughly (or else the chicken will be too salty).

Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with some paper towels and place them into a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the finely grated zest of a lemon and of an orange with the butter. Separate the skin of each chicken breast from the meat with your fingers and rub the zest-butter mixture under the skin of each chicken breast. Sprinkle 1 T chopped ginger, the juice of a lemon, the juice of an orange and about 1 T balsamic vinegar over the chicken breasts. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake the chicken at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Place the cranberry sauce in a bowl and mash it with a fork so that it is easier to spread over the chicken. Take the chicken out of the oven after 20 mintues and spread a thin layer of cranberry sauce over the chicken, putting  the remaining cranberry sauce in with the pan juices. Bake the chicken for another 20 to 30 minutes at 450 degrees, or until internal temps reach 165 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the oven and place the chicken breasts on a platter to rest, loosely tented with aluminum foil, for about 15 minutes. Skim the fat off of the gravy in the pan. Serve the chicken and some brown rice with the gravy.

I wanted to post this before Thanksgiving, but I still needed to perfect the recipe. Well perfect it is, and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Really, this stuffing easily could win in a contest with gluten filled competitors. Serve it with pride (maybe for Christmas), no apologies necessary. And, of course, if you like gluten, you can substitute the sorghum, tapioca and cornstarch for 1 C all purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum. Bake the cornbread the day before you plan to make the stuffing and let it dry out a bit overnight so that it will soak up the chicken stock the next day. This recipe serves 6 to 8 people – if you are serving a crowd, double the recipe, and consider cooking the stuffing in a large crock pot, 1 hour on high and 4 to 8 hours on low, to free up some oven space.

Cornbread

  • 1 C cornmeal
  • ½ C sorghum flour
  • ¼ C cornstarch
  • ¼ C tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 C melted, salted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly in a mixing bowl. Pour the batter into a greased square pan and bake for 20 to 23 minutes. Allow the cornbread to cool, then cut it into cubes. Spread the cubes out on a large baking sheet and allow them to dry out overnight.

Stuffing

  • Cubed cornbread
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 green apples, diced or 1/2 C sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 T sage
  • 1 tsp thyme (or 1 1/2 T of poultry seasoning for sage and thyme)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ½ C heavy cream
  • 1 C gluten-free chicken broth

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is crispy. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to cool. Saute the diced onion, celery, and carrot in the bacon drippings until everything is very soft. Add the sage and thyme, as well as a little salt and ground black pepper to taste. Add the green apple and cook for another couple of minutes. Toss the cubed corn bread, the sauteed vegetables and the reserved bacon, crumbled, in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Whisk together the egg, heavy cream and chicken broth. Pour the liquid over the cornbread mixture to soften. Cook the stuffing in a 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is brown on top. Alternatively, you can cook the stuffing in a small crockpot on high for 1 hour and then on low for another 4 to 8 hours.

Grandma’s creamed corn

November 23, 2009

Grandma Emily

Growing up we had huge Thanksgiving feasts with my large Polish family, hosted by my funny, beautiful Grandma Emily. She and my Grandpa ran several food businesses with the help of their seven children, including a Polish deli and the Grain of Salt lounge in Chicago, and the Rincon Market in Tucson, Arizona. She passed away last year and she is terribly missed. Every year for Thanksgiving I make sure we have some of her famous creamed corn on the table (gluten-free). No, it’s not made from fresh corn…but some dishes from our childhood can’t be messed with. It’s delicious and easy!

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 16z packages frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 C whipping cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Melt the butter and the cornstarch together (either on the stove top or in the microwave). Stir in the corn, cream, salt and sugar and heat until the mixture has thickened. It will have to get hot enough either on the stove or microwave to bubble a little in order to thicken. Add the fresh ground pepper to taste and serve.

Black Beans and Brown Rice

November 17, 2009

We have a couple friends who spent some time in Kenya, and when they came back to the States they resolved to eat rice and beans once a week in an effort to simplify their lives and diets. This recipe is based on the delicious recipe those friends served to us on occasion. The bacon is optional – it adds great flavor, but you could replace it with a couple tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil. You could also use a can of rinsed, drained black beans instead of the fresh beans – just stir them in with the green bell pepper 15 minutes before the end of cooking.

  • 1 C dried black beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 C brown rice
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ½ C chicken broth (gluten-free)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 large tomato or 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • handful of chopped cilantro or flat parsley

Cook the soaked black beans in enough water to cover by a couple of inches for about two hours. Drain beans in a colander.

In a large pot cook 4 strips of bacon over medium heat. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Crumble the bacon when it has cooled. Add the diced onion, garlic, cumin and celery to the remaining bacon grease and sauté for about 8 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the brown rice and cook for another minute. Add the cooked beans, salt, bay leaf and chicken broth. Cover and bring the beans and rice a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Simmer for 45 minutes, then stir in the diced green bell pepper. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more. Turn the heat off and let it steam for another 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover, squeeze on the lime juice and mix in the diced tomato, crumbled bacon and the chopped cilantro or parsley.