Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hearty, Sweet Sandwich Bread

My son was allergic to wheat for a long time.  Not being able to have soft white bread was tough.  We muddled through with rice bread, but let's be honest, it isn't the tastiest stuff! (There are a lot more options on the market now!)  I tried to make my own, but with an egg allergy and a dairy allergy to boot - gluten free baking became even more challenging. I gave up and started eating corn tortillas!

When he outgrew his wheat allergy I tried several egg free, dairy free bread recipes, and this one is sweet and dense and hearty.  It makes meal sized sandwiches, amazing cinnamon toast, and it's a great complement to any chili!  I remember the first time I made it, I just kept saying "This is the best bread EVER!" (I may have also been moaning with food pleasure!) I hope you enjoy it!

I served this bread tonight at a dinner party and it was a big hit!  YUM!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Time to Re"stock" the freezer!

All the veggies in the pot at the start of cooking.
The kitchen smells great today!  It's "restocking" day!  Store-bought stocks/broths can be full of MSG, unlabled "flavorings", and other additives and preservatives.  Some broths are clarified using egg-whites and egg shells.  With a life-threatening egg allergy in the house, I don't want to take any "mis-labeling" chances, so I make my own stocks; chicken, vegetable, and beef.  I make the stock and then freeze it for use in recipes, or to make homemade soup any time someone gets the sniffles! 

When I first decided to make my own stock years ago, I was a little intimidated!  I thought it was only something that professional chefs, or seasoned home cooks could pull off.  Boy was I wrong!  This is one of the easiest ways to "stock" (hee hee) your freezer with safe ingredients for your family or food allergic friends.  YOU control every ingredient that goes into the pot!  You don't have to worry about all that extra "stuff" that can aggravate the allergic body.  You can use your stocks to make soup, pan sauce, gravy, stir fry, and it's a great way to add flavor to rice instead of boiling it in plain water!  So here's what you need to know to set yourself up for some serious success in your YOUR allergy safe kitchen!

Chicken Stock:

I give instructions for making chicken stock in my YouTube video, "Leftover Chicken". Click on the link and get the recipe! In the video, I used the carcasses from four roasted chickens, you can use fewer roasted chickens if that's what you have available, OR you can use whole uncooked chickens.  If you use raw chickens, take the meat off the bones after it is fully cooked and return the bones to the stock pot to continue cooking!  Reserve the meat for chicken soup or use for lunch! 
Vegetable Stock:

This one couldn't be easier.  The basic process is: chop, boil, strain, freeze.  That's it. As you read this recipe, keep in mind that you can adjust any of the quantities to fit your needs or tastes.  If you are allergic to any of these ingredients, leave it out and replace it with a veggie you like!  For example, I omit tunips and parsnips because I don't care for them; I add mushrooms for deep flavor and color.  Here's the combination I that I have come to use:
     1 whole head of garlic with the top trimmed off
     4 cooking onions, quartered
     1 full leek
     6 medium carrots
     4 stalks of celery plus all the leaves I can pull off the bunch!
     1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, halved
     1/4 tsp whole peppercorns
     6 springs of parsley
     6 sprigs of thyme
     2 bay leaves
     14 cups of water
Place it all in a dutch oven or big pot, let it boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Continue cooking for 1 hour (or a little longer, there's no exact science here!).  Cool, strain and freeze!  SO simple! 
Yield is about 8 cups
*An easy way to gather ingredients is to have a big zip-top bag in the freezer labeled "FOR STOCK".  Any time you have an odd or "almost-on-the-edge" carrot/celery/fresh herb/onion/leek/greens leftover, toss it in the bag and freeze it.  When it's time to make stock, add the contents of the bag into the pot!

Beef Stock:

I think this is the most labor intensive of the three, but the reward is worth the effort!  Here's what you'll need:
     7 lbs of beef marrow bones, cut into 2 inch pcs.  (ask your butcher to do this)
     6 oz can of tomato paste
     3 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped
     2 medium yellow cooking onions, chopped
     2 medium carrots, chopped
     1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
     6 sprigs of fresh thyme
     6 bay leaves (I use fresh, but you could use dried)
     1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
     2 cups of your favorite dry red wine (use organic if possible)
     24 cups of water ( I have an 8 cup measuring cup that I fill 3 times!  That's how I got this
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place the bones on a roasting pan for 1 hour.  Then remove the pan from the oven and turn it down to 400 degrees F - smear the bones with the tomato paste (use a small spatula).  Lay the vegetables over the bones and roast at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Place the roasting pan on the stove and use the 2 cups of wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.  (those browned bits are flavor - get 'em all!)  Place EVERYTHING from the roasting pan into a big stock pot and add peppercorns, garlic, and herbs.  Season with kosher salt and add the water.  Bring the mixture up to a boil and the reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 4 - 4 1/2 hours.  Cool, strain, and freeze! 

The fat will rise to the top as it cools.  Let it solidify in the fridge and then scrape the fat off the top!
Part of this batch is going to be French Onion Soup for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner after the kids are in bed!

I am pleased with my efforts today! Remember, you don't have to cook like this every day!  If you put in this sort of effort and planning every once in a while, you'll set yourself up to have safe ingredients for "quick" meals when you need them! 

As always, I wish you "Good Cooking, and Safe Eating"!
Friday, February 3, 2012

Superbowl Feast - Chicken Quesadillas!

Chicken quesadillas are a fairly frequent lunch in our home, and they make a great addition to a Superbowl Feast!  I always have tortillas on hand, both wheat and corn, and quesadillas are a great way to utilize leftover veggies, leftover meats...really, anything you want to put in there!

 I like that this is an easy meal to customize to each child's taste, just let your child choose what goes in and you'll eliminate any "picky eater nonsense"! (Or let them sprinkle it in themselves if they're old enough to be by the stove!) 

Possible Ingredients:
- chicken
- ground beef
- steak
- bell peppers
- scallions or red onions (we've used carmelized yummy)
- tomatoes
- salsa
- bacon
- cucumbers
- sliced mushrooms
- soy cheese
- dairy cheese (since we have only mild dairy allergies, we do allow our dairy in our kitchen - this 
                        was not always the case)
- shredded carrots
- ANY leftover veggie!

After getting your counter organized with the chopped/sliced/shredded items you want to incorporate into your quesadillas, heat a little oil in a cast iron skillet or a non-stick pan (use hard adonized if possible - no leeching chemicals) on medium-low. 

Place one torilla in the skillet and sprinkle your fillings over the whole surface.  Cover with a second tortilla and slowly heat through until the bottom is crisp and golden.  Flip the torilla carefully using a large spatula.  Heat second side slowly until golden brown.  (Heat on low to medium-low, you want any cheese/soy cheese to have time to melt!)

Let the quesadilla cool on a cutting board for a minute or two, the cheese/soy cheese will be HOT!  Using a pizza cutter, slice into 6 wedges and serve with small "dipper cups" of dairy-free sour cream, and salsa! Enjoy!

From "The Allergy Safe Kitchen", I wish you "Good Cooking, and Safe Eating"!