Monday, January 24, 2011

Gluten-Free (Good!!!) Superbowl Food

So... my team lost yesterday.  But the Bears really didn't have a shot unless the Packers messed up, and they didn't.

So goes football.

So... what does one make for Football Food when you have to eat gluten-free?


Yes... poppers.

Based off an older Weight Watchers recipe, I have been making these for YEARS because they are good, and easy.

Halve your jalapenos.  De-seed/rib them.  If you are like me, you might want to wear gloves while you do this - I can do one jalapeno without a lot of pain, but if I am doing more than that, I need rubber gloves to deal with them.

Make a mixture of half low-fat cream cheese and half shredded cheddar cheese.  I did five whole jalapenos, which was about 2 oz of cream cheese and 2 oz of shredded cheddar.  I also added some diced/seeded roma tomatoes that I salted & drained.  I like the little bit of tomato.

Fill your jalapenos.  If you have time, stash them in the fridge.

To cook them, beat up an egg (or a couple if you are doing a lot) and then dip the poppers cheese-side-down into the egg, then into some type of crumb-thing (I used Corn Chex - corn flakes also work).  Place on a sheet tray and cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

And you have lovely, lovely poppers.

(they also work, sans the crumb crust, VERY nicely on a grill - cook until the peppers are soft and cheese is bubbly)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chickpea Flour Crepes

One of the things that has been hardest for me, since having to stop eating wheat, is that I am cheap.

And the store-bought wheat-free alternatives are pretty pricey.  As are some of the flours needed for wheat-free baking - not to mention you have to do a bit of shopping to find all the different flours you need.

Enter... chickpea flour.  We have a large Indian population in the Chicago area, so most stores are fairly well stocked at this point with Indian ingredients.  Which inclues chickpea flour, which is less than three bucks for a small bag of it.

Cheap.  And it makes great crepes.

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoonds fine chickpea flour
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup low-fat milk (or water - both work)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Sift together the chickpea flour, all-purpose flour and salt.

2. Place the eggs, milk (or water) and olive oil in a blender, and turn on the machine. Add the flour, and blend for one minute. Transfer to a bowl or a large measuring cup. (You can also use a bowl and whisk together the ingredients. If blending by hand, put through a strainer.) Set aside for at least 30 minutes; if longer, put the bowl in the refrigerator.

*** DO NOT SKIP THE WAIT TIME.  It is honestly better to put the batter in the fridge overnight rather than skipping this step.  It gives it all time to blend - makes it easier to get rid of any lumps in the batter, and the flavors seem to mellow a bit (you get more "chickpea" taste than "bitter").  Seriously.  Waiting is the key.  Let it go for AT LEAST 30 minutes. ***

3. Heat a well-seasoned or non-stick crêpe pan over medium-high heat, and brush lightly with olive oil. For 6-inch crêpes, ladle in 2 to 3 tablespoons batter per crêpe; for 8-inch crêpes, use 1/4 cup, enough to just cover the pan. The batter should sizzle when it hits the pan. Tilt the pan to distribute the batter evenly, and cook on the first side for less than a minute until nicely colored and easy to flip over. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds, then remove from the pan. Stack the crêpes on a plate as they are done. To reheat, wrap in foil and place in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes. Alternately, reheat individually in a dry pan.

Yield: Eight 8-inch or 10 6-inch crêpes, serving four.

These have become my new alternative to bread.  It is easy to make up a batch of them and stash them in the fridge so I can pull one out to make a quick wrap with some cheese and/or lunch meat for a quick lunch (you do have to be careful though, they can crack on you if they bend while they are cool... they can crack even when room temp since they have no wheat flour, but they stay pretty managable).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Monday Meal on a Sunday

Red beans & rice.

The history goes that on Monday, you'd throw the bone leftover from your Sunday ham into a pot with some beans, let it simmer all day while you did the wash, and then have red beans and rice for dinner.

I can see that logic.  I did mine in the slow cooker, and even though I did this as a "side" for crawfish enchiladas... I think we enjoyed the beans & rice more than the enchiladas.

One of the things that irked me, big time, when I found out I was allergic to wheat was that in all my usual rice mix things, there was wheat.  Really??  REALLY???  You have to go and ruin something I can have like rice by adding wheat to it??

I knew I wanted to make crawfish enchiladas tonight, and I do love some red beans and rice as a side for that.  Time to buck it up and make it for myself.

And holy crap, was it easy.

This was my recipe... which I pretty much followed.  I did throw in both a ham hock and some smoked ham necks.  I used Polish sausage (that I wouldn't eat as part of a cabbage & sausage meal, but it was tasty in this).

The beans....

And, yes, this is one recipe where a ham hock is important.  Ham hocks... if you actually see them at your grocery store you might look at them and think they are odd (I know I did as a kid... until my family started cooking cajun food).  If you don't see them at your grocery store and you want to make this recipe.... seriously.... find them somewhere.  They are cheap, and they are good.  I know at the place I seem to buy most of my meat and produce, the butchers are all Mexican.  But they do a damned fine ham hock (and the smoked necks were pretty good too, must remember those).  They were like $1.29 per pound.  And worth every penny in the final dish.

Ham hocks and smoked pork necks, having done their duty for the beans.

Thank you, ham products.  Thank you.

When life hands you lemons.....

Ya learn to... well... do something with lemons.

In the case of now having to live without wheat, that means trying to turn a "great, I spent $6 on that to try and feel like a normal person until I RUINED IT" into something tasty.

In the case of actually seeing Meyer lemons at the grocery store, it means time for some preserved lemon!

So... for Christmas day, we always have the parents over for cheeses and munchie things.  This year, in addition to wheat-free bread for the reuben dip, there was The Cracker Issue.  Yes, there are great alernatives like Nut Thins and rice crackers... but I wanted something cracker-like.  So I spent $6 on a package of wheat free "table crackers" (think saltines).  And I can tell you NONE of that money is spent on proper packaging for the crackers, since I dropped them as soon as I got home from the grocery store and every single damned cracker in the package broke.  So, I shoved them aside and figured I'd just make something with "cracker crumbs" in the near future.

And that turned out to be some very nice fried pork tenderloin.  Expensive fried pork tenderloin, but still tasty.

2011... my first full year knowing I cannot eat wheat.  Ain't this gonna be fun??