Thursday, August 15, 2013

Breakfast Tacos

Tortillas and eggs are one of my kitchen staples. When the household runs out of eggs it quickly becomes code red crisis mode - no matter how much other food is in the house. I made these the night after I made the Pulled Pork Tacos with Mango Corn Salsa. I always make more food than we need, but in general I'm only feeding two people. After I made the Mango Corn Salsa I had some left over tomatoes and avocado that I wanted to use up and quickly. This dish is quick and versatile. Plus tacos are always a hit.

Breakfast Tacos
serves 4 (2 tacos a person)

8 eggs
1/4 cup milk (can substitute 1/2 & 1/2 or water***)
1/2 shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
1 small to medium tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
salt & pepper
16 white corn tortillas

optional ingredients
onion, diced
black beans
hot sauce

On stove top heat a large skillet (non-stick is preferred), spray bottom and sides with cooking spray. While skillet is heating in a medium bowl add eggs and milk, lightly season with salt and pepper and whisk for approx 2 minutes. When pan is hot pour eggs in pan and let sit for a minute. The goal is to make scrambled eggs. Using a spatula scrape bottom of pan, let eggs cook a little, then scrape again until eggs are almost dry. Add cheese and cook for an additional minute until melty. 

At the same time you prepare the eggs heat the tortillas. I prefer using a pan on the stove or my griddle. Heat each side until slightly crispy, then set aside on a plate and cover to keep warm. Another option is to wrap the tortillas in slightly damp paper towel or kitchen towel and heat in the microwave for a minute. 

To assemble you can set up a little buffet where each person makes their own.

***by substituting water it will make the eggs slightly less creamy, but still tasty

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pulled Pork Tacos with Mango Corn Salsa

Here's just one of many ideas of what to do with the pulled pork. My immediate reaction was, of course, to make BBQ pulled pork sammies, but I wanted to wait a few days until the pork had developed a bit more flavor. With certain meats and soups/stews the second or third day is often much better than the first.

I make most of my meals for 2 people, but I always cook extra for left overs. In general I'll try to put a yield up when I can. The pulled pork itself made several pounds (my guestimation is about 3-4), but I didn't get a chance to put it on a scale to see the acutal yield.

Mango Corn Salsa

1 Heirloom Tomato, diced (you can easily substitute any kind of tomato here i.e. grape, beefsteak, roma)
1 Mango, peeled and diced
1 ear of Corn, cooked and kernels cut off
1 Avocado, diced
1/3 cup Pineapple, small dice (canned, fresh or frozen**)
1/3 cup Black Beans
1/4 cup Pepper (Yellow, Red or Orange), diced
2T Jalapeños, diced (fresh or pickled)
1 Lime, juiced (start with 1/2 and taste)

In a small bowl mix all ingredients. Taste.

This salsa will yield enough for 4 people to have several tacos each. It's also highly flexible - you can bulk up on favored fruits or veggies as well as leaving certain items out if you so desire.

**Trader Joe's sells frozen Pineapple tidbits that I use in a ton of recipes. I just take a small amount out and let defrost at room temp.)

Yield: approx 4+ people

Corn or flour tortillas (for corn heat first - I usually use a pan on the stove top giving each side about a minute then keep on a plate with a cover to keep warm)
1 head green Cabbage, shredded (I started with 1/4 head and it was enough for 6 tacos with some left over)
1/2 cup Carrots, shredded (you can purchase it already shredded)
1-2T Olive Oil
1 Lime, juiced (again start with 1/2)
1/4 tsp Cumin
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Hot Sauce (if desired), to taste
2 cups Pulled Pork, shredded and warmed

In a mixing bowl combine the cabbage, carrots, olive oil, lime juice, and seasonings.

Assemble tacos with cabbage mixture, pork and top with the mango corn salsa. Repeat as needed. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pulled Pork (Slow Cooker)

I can't believe that summer is almost over! I haven't been cooking as much and I really miss it. My brother has become quite the grill master, but since he lives far away and I don't have a real grill I have to find other ways to make tasty meats in the summer. This is a recipe for pulled pork in the slow cooker. I made something similar last summer and it was fabulous, but of course I couldn't find the recipe when I was ready to make it this year. I looked at several different recipes and used what I could remember of the recipe last year.

3-5lbs Pork Shoulder (or what will fit into your slow cooker)

The Rub:
3 cloves garlic (I like Dorot)
1tsp Paprika
1tsp Smoked Paprika***
1tsp Cumin
3T Brown Sugar (light or dark is fine)
1T Chili Powder
1/2tsp White Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1T Balsamic Vinegar (for this recipe I used Cherry Balsamic)
1T Grey Poupon Country Dijon Mustard

1T Canola Oil

1 medium Sweet Onion, such as Vidalia, sliced
1 bottle Hard Cider (could use a summer beer as a substitute)
3T Tomato Paste
1/4c Apple Cider Vinegar
1T Balsamic Vinegar (I used the Cherry Balsamic here too)
1/2-1c Vegetable Stock (Chicken would be okay too)

Meat preparation: rinse the pork well and pat dry.

For the Rub: In a mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients and mix well, add wet (garlic, vinegar and mustard) and mix well. You'll have a paste like substance. It's easiest to use your hands to rub the paste on all sides of the pork.

Heat a large skillet and add oil. Gently place the meat in the skillet taking the time to brown each of the 4 largest sides for approximately 5 minutes per side. You want to get a nice sear on each of the sides to help adhere the seasoning.

While the meat is cooking slice the onion and set aside. In a small bowl or measuring cup mix the cider, tomato paste, and two vinegars. Pour 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the slow cooker, the remainder will be pored over the meat once it's in the slow cooker.

When all sides of the meat have been seared transfer it into the slow cooker. In the same skillet sautee the onions until slightly soft. Cooking tip: I like to cook my onions on a higher heat, but don't like it when they get burned. I use some stock to keep them slightly wet (you don't want them submerged). At this point you want to get all the good juicy bits of rub left in the pan from the meat immersed with the onions. When the onions are slightly soft (approx 5 to 10 minutes) pour over meat. Use remainder of stock to cover meat (so that the liquid comes to 3/4 of the way to cover the meat).

Place lid on slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8. Depending on your cut of meat it may take a different amount of time. You want the meat to easily pull apart (shredded). If I'm home I like to start the slow cooker on high for an hour or so and then switch to a low setting for the remainder of the time.

***I'm not a huge fan of heavy smoked flavor, but felt that this dish needed just a touch. If you don't have smoked paprika you can either double up on the regular paprika or substitute liquid smoke for the smoked paprika.

This recipe is a good base and can be used in many dishes that I will share later this week.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Storing Gluten Free Flours

When I first found out that I needed to eliminate wheat from my diet one of my biggest fears was how would I be able to bake. For the longest time I relied only on pre-packaged gf mixes. And for a while that was fine. I was still finding my footing with the whole gluten intolerance thing and I was still able to be creative with my regular cooking. The thing about the gf mixes is that they are incredibly expensive, well at least in comparison to regular mixes. I get it, the ingredients found in the gf mixes are varied and some are on the expensive side. I never wanted to alter these in any way for fear of ruining my expensive mix and ending up with no baked product at all.

Several months ago I went on a buying binge. I bought all the different flours I had been reading about or at least the ones that seemed to be most prevalent in the recipes I have been storing. I think I ended up with six or more different flours. It ended up being quite overwhelming and I put them all in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind. I did have some experience with Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour for some of my regular dishes that required a roux or thickening of some sort. This flour was awesome, but the only thing that wasn't so great was the packaging. All of Bob's Red Mill flours come in clear bags with directions to cut the top of the bag. Now, I'm a messy cook in general and these bags just made me have little flour leaks all over the place. This experience did not want to make me open up the other gazillion bags of flour I had bought before I had figured out the storage situation. I wanted something that would fit one bag, but wouldn't be too large. Many of the recipes call for a mixing of several flours, which can end up needing quite a bit of storage space. We have limited cabinet space so the right size container is a big deal.

I ended up using ball jars. Right now they are of slightly varying sizes, but they keep everything really fresh and I can see how much is left in the container. I haven't quite gotten them into the baking cabinet, but for now that's okay.

It was my mom's idea to cut out the labels and tape them to the jars. I'm not totally in love with that, but only because they don't all match. I think it's much easier to do gf baking when you have access to all your ingredients. I've been making a concerted effort to make my own "from scratch" recipes so that I can start to understand the way these flours interact with one and other. It's like a whole different kind of culinary education.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tomato Soup

I absolutely love tomato soup and when I found out I had a gluten intolerance I was really upset at losing one of my favorite meals. Who would have thought that Campbell's Tomato Soup had wheat ingredients? I certainly didn't. With being in school I've been trying to use my crock pot a few times a week. My favorite cook book currently is America's Test Kitchen: Slow Cooker Revolution. The first time I made this recipe I followed as closely as possible substituting only for the gf ingredients, but I've made a couple other minor changes that I really feel enhance the original recipe. I served my soup with a nice grilled cheese and honey turkey on Udi white bread.

Tomato Soup

heavily adapted from ATK: Slow Cooker Revolution's Creamy Tomato Soup

1 medium/large onion, minced

2T butter
1T oil (such as canola or light olive oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced (Dorot is my favorite)
32oz stock (chicken or vegetable)
1T brown sugar
2T tomato paste
2T cooking sherry
3T gluten free flour (such as Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour)
4 12oz cans of petite diced tomato
1/8tsp white pepper
dash cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves
salt to taste
pepper to taste

-In a large skillet sautée onion in butter and oil until onions are soft and translucent. Season with small amounts of salt and pepper. Use small amounts of stock intermittently to keep onions from burning. Add garlic and sautée for additional 3 minutes. 

-Add brown sugar, tomato paste and sherry stir well and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
-Add 2T of stock mix well and whisk in the flour making sure to completely incorporate into the onion tomato mixture, stirring constantly to cook out any flour taste.
-Slowly whisk in remainder of stock in small batches. (You want to make sure to slowly incorporate to help thin out the flour mixture looking out for any lumping. Break up lumps by continuously whisking.)
-In crock pot add diced tomatoes, seasonings and bay leaves. Add onion mixture to crock pot and mix well.
-Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. You're looking for the breakdown of the tomatoes.
-Remove bay leaves.
-Using a blender, in small batches, blend soup.
-Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
-Serve and enjoy!

I'm always happy to answer any questions about recipes or cooking.