Friday, February 5, 2016

Sushi Sensei

BS"D


With one major storm behind and another predicted for next week, the activities for snow days can wear thin. A popular thing to do is bake and decorate cookies with your kids, but after awhile that activity can become tedious. I've found my kids really enjoy making homemade sushi rolls. Truth be told, it might not technically be sushi, as I'm reluctant to actually use raw fish at home as fish for sushi should be a very premium quality and ultra fresh...something I'm not able to source easily where I live. However, I use a variety of vegetables, fake crab sticks, homemade lox or any type of cooked fish I have on hand. I have even on occasion made "gefilte sushi"! 


The act of preparing all the veggies and rice, as well as making sure your mix-en-place (when you lay out all your ingredients and equipment before you start cooking) is an activity in itself. The only special equipment you will need is a bamboo sushi mat. But you can also substitute a flexible silicone cutting board, or even parchment paper if you don't have a sushi mat. I've seen the bamboo mats sold in the Asian food section of my local chain supermarket. All the ingredients are generally readily available at your local supermarket, kosher specialty store, or health food store, and you will find the cost of making your own is majorly cheaper than buying prepared sushi.


Since learning to make sushi rolls is a very visual experience, I prepared a video with Rosie to show you how easy it is to make sushi rolls. Sensei is a Japanese word for teacher, I hope I can be your sensei in your sushi making experience. The biggest tip I can give you is to not overfill the rolls, and to roll them tightly. Once you get the hang of it you'll never want to buy that stale looking supermarket sushi again!

Check out my videos for preparing sushi rice with ease, and prepping your nori.

California or Veggie Sushi Rolls

6 sheets Nori (dried seaweed wrappers ...you'd be surprised but many supermarkets carry them in the Asian foods section)
2 cups prepared sushi rice (prepare according to package directions)
2 medium avocados, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large cucumber (I prefer English for this), peeled and cut into 2-inch long thin strips
12 pieces of imitation crab sticks (I like Dyna-Sea brand--make sure it is gluten free and allergen free as needed)
Optional veggies:
scallions, cut in thin strips
lightly steamed carrots, cut in matchstick size strips
Daikon radish, cut in matchstick size strips

For serving:
gluten free soy sauce
prepared wasabi (optional)
pickled ginger (optional)

First lay out all the ingredients and tools. Place a piece of plastic wrap over your sushi mat. Put out a small bowl of warm water nearby in case your fingers get sticky from handling the rice.  Line up all the cut sushi ingredients in front of your mat. Have a tray or plate ready for your completed rolls.

If you have a gas burner, turn it to medium, and wave the nori a few inches from the flame for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, set aside.

Place nori sheet flat on the plastic covered bamboo sushi mat. Spread about 1/3 cup rice over the nori, leaving a 1-inch margin at either end.  

At the end closest to you, layer your fish and vegetables in a single layer no wider than 2-inches.  Spread with a thin layer of wasabi, if desired, for a hotter taste.

Slowly flip the end of the mat closest to you up and slowly roll the filling inside the nori.  You are using the mat to nudge the roll along, the mat will not roll up in a cylinder (refer to video). When the roll is complete, cover it with the end of the mat you used to roll it up, and press along the length of the mat with your hands in a "c" shape, in order to firm up the roll.  

If I'm rolling the sushi in advance, I like to wrap it in the plastic wrap that covered the mat, and use a new sheet of plastic wrap for each roll. Otherwise, using a sharp knife, slice sushi roll into 1-inch thick pieces and lay on a plate.

To serve: place soy sauce in small individual bowls for each person. Arrange sushi on a plate or tray, garnished with wasabi and pickled ginger, if desired.

Serves: 6 for a main course; 12 for an appetizer




Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Short and Sweet

BS"D



This post is short and sweet,
but it will provide your guests with
a bite to eat.

Whether it's Chanukah, X-mas, Kwanza or Naw-Ruz
Your precious time... you won't lose.

3 ingredients no more,
OK, if you wish maybe four.

No fuss, no wait,
soon you'll dig into the chocolate.



So I needed a quick dessert, and the crunchy, salty and sweet combination of pretzels and chocolate seemed an appealing twist on my family's favorite Chunk-a-Chews.  You can substitute up to a cup of other mix-ins, like nuts, peppermint candy or mini-marshmallows as you see fit.  A sprinkle of coarse sea salt on top is an option for those true lovers of the salty-sweet dessert (non-dairy dessert). 

I recently came across two varieties of chocolate by the company California Gourmet that makes both a non-dairy, vegan as well as a soy chocolate chip. They taste great and seem very high quality in terms of the chocolate. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Pretzel Bites

1 bag  (10-12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon softened coconut oil or pure vegetable shortening (e.g. Earth Balance) or vegetable  or olive oil (non-virgin)
2 cups gluten free pretzels* (coarsely crushed)
Coarse sea salt or colored sprinkles, to garnish, if desired

Place the chocolate chips and vegetable shortening in a medium sized microwave safe bowl. Cooking time varies based on wattage of your microwave. Microwave on high heat 1-1 1/2 minutes. Remove bowl and stir until smooth. If chips aren't melted, return to microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring in between.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Place two dozen paper mini-muffin cup liners on a large cookie sheet. If you don't have these, you can line the cookie sheet with waxed or parchment paper, and drop the chocolate right onto the paper.

Stir the pretzels (or other mix-ins) into the chocolate. Drop by tablespoonfuls into liners. Sprinkle with sea salt or colored sprinkles (if desired).  Place into refrigerator until firm. Store in covered container.

Yield:  24 candies

*You may substitute up to 1 cup of crushed or chopped nuts, peppermint candy, mini-marshmallows, cut up caramels, dried fruit, etc.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Donut Delights

BS"D

 
 


So in general I'm not a "fly by the seat of your pants" type of person, but when it comes to my yearly Chanukah donut making forays I tend towards experimentation. Each year I try to come up with the best gluten free donut recipes--generally using something not originally intended for donut batter. So far I've used pizza dough, Bisquick and now pancake mix.

My outlook is to sort of go into the recipe experimentation process like one who jumps backward off a high-dive...not really seeing where you're going, but trusting it will all turn out ok in the end.  I approached the process intuitively, setting out to turn my box of Trader Joe's Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancake and Waffle Mix into something more.  I added ingredients one would usually add to donut batter: milk, eggs, and cinnamon. The mix already had xanthan gum, baking powder and soda, salt and buttermilk (so I didn't fret about not adding actual buttermilk into the mix). The end result was a crispy outside and a lovely "cake like donut" texture inside---similar to an Entenmann's style donut.  In addition, the dough can be tweaked and used for other donut variations like churros or olibollen. Happy Chanukah and Happy Frying!



 

Substitutions for egg-free and dairy-free (hence"mostly" vegan depending on how you feel about granulated sugar) versions are included below.  Toppings are only limited by your imagination, you can use powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, chocolate ganache, maple glaze, etc.  If you make a ball shape with the dough it can be filled with jelly or custard.  I indicate additional sugar (than what is in the store bought mix) is optional, as some people prefer a less sweet donut with the sugar serving as your "sweet source" on the outside.  See my frying tips video at the end of the recipe.


 Gluten Free Buttermilk Donut Recipe

3 cups Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancake Mix (I used Trader Joe's brand)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (optional)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk mixed with 1 Tablespoon cider or white vinegar (stir and allow to sit for 10 minutes)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-6 cups vegetable or canola or peanut oil for frying
Confectioner's sugar or cinnamon sugar

Cinnamon Sugar:
1/4 cup granulated sugar tossed with 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Create a well in the center with a wooden spoon, and add eggs, milk mixture and vanilla extract. Stir until liquid is totally incorporated. Allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch Oven to medium-high heat (about 375).  Add a piece of carrot or baby carrot, if desired, to the oil--this helps prevent over browning.  Add a teaspoonful of batter to oil to test if it is hot enough. If the oil is ready small bubbles will appear around the batter.

To shape the donuts you can either scoop the batter into the oil in batches (about 3-4 at a time) using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure, or fill a pastry bag or gallon sized Ziploc with a 1-inch opening snipped off of one corner.  Pipe donuts into circles on individual pieces of parchment and drop into oil for most perfect circles. Once donut cooks, remove parchment from oil. Or, just pipe circles, squiggles, or lines right into the oil.  For donut holes, use a tablespoon measure to scoop batter, or a cookie scoop. 

Fry donuts for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack set over a brown paper shopping bag or paper towels set in a rimmed baking pan to catch the drips. 

Cool for 10 minutes, then finish as desired. Add powdered or cinnamon sugar to a brown paper bag or bowl and toss donuts in sugar to coat.  Or, finish with a chocolate, maple or caramel glaze.

 

Variations:

Dairy and Egg free version:
Substitute your favorite egg substitute for 2 eggs (Ener-G egg replacer, flax eggs, etc.) or 1-6 ounce container vanilla or plain non-dairy yogurt (such as soy or coconut milk).

Substitute the buttermilk pancake mix with a non-dairy mix or Gluten Free Bisquick.

Substitute the dairy milk with equal amount soy, rice or hemp milk with vinegar added, as above.

For Churros: A favorite Mexican street food, which has become a favorite in American stadiums and fast food restaurants. Omit nutmeg and use 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Use a large star piping tip (if you have) or just snip the end of a gallon sized ziploc or piping bag one inch. Pipe 4-inch lengths of batter into oil. Careful not to crowd pan. When cooled about 10 minutes, toss in a bag with cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve with chocolate and /or caramel sauces for dipping.

Oliebollen: A Dutch version of donuts generally made at New Year's. The literal translation, as you may have guessed is "oily balls".  Add 1 cup raisins or currants and 1/2 teaspoon cardamom to the batter.  Drop by small ice cream scoop or 1/8-cup measure into the oil. Drain as above. Check to make sure the center is cooked through as they are thick.

Check out my YOUTUBE Video with frying tips:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1rzwN88XwI&feature=youtu.be




 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

BS"D



Hosts seem to panic when they have to prepare food for guests with special dietary needs. They wring their hands and furrow their brows in worry. It can be especially troublesome when the holiday is very meat centric like Thanksgiving---I mean how many times have you heard the holiday called "Turkey Day"?! If the big bird isn't the focal point of the meal, then what will fill the void?

Well, the answer varies by vegan or vegetarian in question. Some are content filling up on side dishes, others like a protein based entrée such as a bean dish or tofu.  Ersatz meat-looking products are a must for some. 



My best suggestion is open up a dialogue with your guests that have special dietary needs. If you feel their meal requirements are out of your wheelhouse, don't be afraid to say so. This is especially true when someone has a food allergy or celiac disease. If you are honest that the task of assuring each ingredient is free of their off limits food, or you feel the whole cross-contamination thing is too overwhelming--then tell them! Better safe than sorry.

Arrange for them to bring their own food and heat it up in a manner that is "safe" for them. This can alleviate the worries of both host and guest on many levels.  In any case, take their lead. If your guest says "I'm happy munching on the salad and some of the veggie sides." Trust that they really are happy with the salad and sides, and don't spend the whole meal being apologetic, and saying that you're so sorry you don't have more for them, etc.  Most people on special diets have come to an internal realization (even if it was an uneasy one to achieve) that they have to look beyond the food as the focal point at social gatherings. Provide a warm reception and sparkling conversation to make your guest feel included in the meal.

For some great vegan recipe ideas check out Isa Chandra Moskowitz's book Isa Does It. Although she uses wheat flour, I found her baked goods come out well when I sub all purpose gluten free flour blends. Her marble banana cake (half plain-half chocolate) is one great example of this!

The following salad is great because it has a complete vegetarian protein (legumes and rice), so it can serve as an entrée or side dish. Additionally, it is good both warm or chilled.  This is also my tribute to Trader Joe's--a store that clearly marks vegan and gluten free offerings on their packaging.  All the items are easily found at Trader Joe's both in their traditional forms (i.e. raw rice or whole sweet potatoes), and convenient forms--pre-cubed and peeled sweet potatoes and frozen pre-cooked brown rice.  It doesn't get any easier than this!

Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad

1 cup green lentils (it's important to use this variety, as they hold their shape and don't turn to mush when cooked), cooked according to package directions
2 cups prepared brown rice
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cubed and boiled or steamed until fork tender
3 stalks scallions, chopped

Dressing:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons honey or 2 Tablespoons agave nectar
1 garlic clove crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage or 3 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
sea salt, to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste


Gently toss all salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl. 

Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over salad ingredients and mix gently to coat.

The salad may be served warm or covered tightly and chilled. May be prepared and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How do you aloo?

BS"D


Aloo means potato in Hindi, and it translates (sorry for the poor pun) into many delicious dishes in Indian cuisine. Although we generally think of rice as the starch of choice in Indain cooking, potatoes are used generously in the largely vegetarian cuisine as a filling in rotis, mixed with spinach or paneer cheese, and in a lovely spice laden side dish called Aloo Chaat.

A few years ago I went on an Indian cooking "kick" of sorts, and found the myriad of spices and flavors really woke up our dinner table. Lately I've become very bored with the dishes I've been presenting to my family. I kind of needed a kick in the pants and the taste buds, so to speak. I perused one of my favorite Indian cookbooks, At Home with Madhur Jaffrey by Madhur Jaffrey. Which presents dishes from a variety of countries in the the Asian Sub-continent, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Her chaat recipe was made especially by her mother to ensure the spice blend was just right, even though they employed servants to do the majority of the cooking.

The dish definitely delivered as far as flavor and texture in adding something new to our table. I was cautious that the dish would have too much heat from the cayenne, but my kids were able to tolerate it, and the side dish was a big hit!  Ms. Jaffrey writes that it should be served at room temperature, and not refrigerated, as that changes the texture. Alas, I did have refrigerate the leftovers, and the potatoes did get a bit waxy. As well, the heat in the dish waned, but we still enjoyed it cold. It was a delicious and refreshing change from the typical variety of potato salads.

This is an amalgamation of the two variations of the recipe. In one the spices are tossed with the potatoes alone, and in another they are lightly sauteed with the oil and potatoes.  I sauteed the ingredients, but with less oil than was called for in the original recipe. The result seemed to be a happy medium.  So decide how you Aloo, and try something new!
 
Aloo Chaat
adapted from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey, p.p. 165-6

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes (or peeled Yukon gold potatoes)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and fresh ground black pepper  to taste
1-2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro (fresh or dried--you will need only 1 Tablespoon if you use dried), to garnish

Prepare a large pot of boiled salted water. Cube the potatoes and boil until fork tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain in a colander.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the cayenne and cumin and stir for 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and stir until well coated with the oil mixture. Saute potatoes for 5 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl.

Drizzle the lemon juice over the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir well to coat. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the chopped cilantro.

Yield: 6-8 servings


Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Sweet and Happy....

BS"D


The Jewish New Year starts tonight, and I'm busy as a balabuste making and mending, washing and sloshing! I got a jump on my Rosh Hashanah recipes this year as Joy of Kosher asked me to put together a gluten free menu.  It also happens to be allergy free---dairy, egg and peanut free---in order to accommodate all the special dietary needs in my family.

It is customary to eat certain foods that are symbolic of all the things we want in the new year, health, prosperity, sweetness in our lives, etc. (http://www.kashrut.com/articles/simanim/). These are called simanim in Hebrew.  I put them together in an exciting new way with my Simanim Summer Roll (recipe below). For more of my holiday menu, check out Joy of Kosher online.

For super easy video instructions on how to roll a summer roll, check out Lillie's video on youtube:




To save time use bagged, shredded cabbage and carrots, and any prepared fish you have on hand (even jarred gluten free gefilte fish cut into strips works well---but this is usually not an egg free option).
 
Simanim Summer Rolls
6-ounces skinless salmon fillets
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
6- rice paper wrappers (8-9-inch diameter)
1 ½ cups shredded cabbage (white or red)
¾ cup julienned carrots
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and julienned
¼ cup pomegranate seeds, white pith removed





Pomegranate dipping sauce:
¼ cup pomegranate juice
3 Tablespoons gluten free soy sauce
3 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
 





In a small bowl, stir together sauce ingredients and set aside.
 
Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a large baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place salmon in baking pan and brush with approximately 3 Tablespoons of sauce (reserve remaining sauce for serving). Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake salmon for 30 minutes. Cool completely. Slice cooled salmon into ½-inch wide strips.
 
To assemble summer rolls:
Fill a shallow pie plate, or baking pan, with an inch of warm water. Place each rice paper wrapper in the water for about a minute. It will begin to soften and be pliable like plastic wrap when ready. 
 
Shake off excess water and place wrapper on a flat surface. Starting at one end, and allowing a 1-inch margin on all sides, layer cabbage, carrots, apple, pomegranate seeds and salmon strips. Fold long edge of rice paper which is nearest the filling over the filling, then fold over sides. Roll up and place seam side down on serving platter. Repeat until all the wrappers and filling are used.
 
To serve: Slice summer rolls in half, if desired, and serve with dipping sauce in a small bowl.
 
Serves: 6


 

 

 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Back to School...back to snacks.

BS"D


One of the best forms of independence is when a child with an illness or special need "owns it". By packing their own lunch, a child with a special diet learns not only what they can and cannot have by reading labels before they put it in their lunch box, but also the importance of balancing their meals and snacks with the gentle guidance of a parent. Like training wheels, at first they may need a stronger parental hand to guide them along the path, but with time they will be flying along on their own.

Easily packable choices makes the process move more smoothly.  Send Me Gluten Free is a subscription service that sends you a box chock full of gluten free packaged foods to sample each month.  Send Me Gluten Free allows you to choose a subscription that can range from month to month, or three months to a year. The boxes currently are $20 or less, and price varies depending on the length of your subscription. Check it out at www.sendmeglutenfree.com, and use this great coupon code available to my readers: 20% off any subscription length with the code BLOG20.

Lillie was thrilled to receive the Send Me Gluten Free box because she knew everything in the orange box was safe for her in terms of not containing gluten. Most, but not all the items were kosher. After leaving behind the ones that were ok for our family, we were left with a lovely selection of snacks including Ips Chips protein chips, Free for All Kitchen  Brownie Thins and Biena flavored chick peas.



Rubbermaid Lunchblox Sandwich Kit. Has it's own ice pack that fits the form of the 4 containers to form a block, composed of 4 square "blox" containers.  One is sandwich sized and the remainder for snacks or sides. They are also the perfect size for a salad and dressing in smaller container. Or, as Lillie did one day, put cereal in one. I think it encourages kids to add fresh cut fruits and veggies or even dried ones to their lunch. Grab one of the varied choices from your Send Me Gluten Free box with a water bottle and you're good to go!


For a easy and nutritious gluten free and vegan cookie to put in your child's lunch, try this oat and dried fruit filled variation on an a classic Anzac.  You can substitute the dried apple with Craisins, dried blueberries, or any dried fruit you like.  It's fun to make...and take!



Apple n' Honey Oat Cookies


2 cups uncooked old fashioned gluten free oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour blend with xantham gum
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar or coconut sugar
1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch sea salt
1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1/4 cup honey
¼ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped, dried apples


Pre-heat the oven to 300F degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together the first 7 ingredients.  Add the margarine and honey, and beat on medium speed until well combined. In a small bowl, mix together the water and baking soda.  Add to the dough and beat until combined. Stir in the dried apples.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2-inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until light brown.  Cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Yield: Approximately 4 dozen cookies