Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Coconut Curry Beef Stew

Dinner time has really changed since the babe came along. My cooking, and honestly everything that I do can't get my full attention anymore because a chubby little beautiful being is at my beckon call. This is not a complaint, but merely a confession that my garlic sometimes burns and my chicken has come out under-done because I can't be as attentive as I used to be.

It's an adjustment. I end up wearing the babe a lot (we have an Ergo Baby and we love it), but sometimes he just doesn't want to be in there so I put him on his gym mat and he bats at his toys and cries for me after about five minutes, so I pick him up and make the rest of dinner one-handed. I know this is a stage and soon he'll be able to play independently (and yesterday I quartered a tomato with one-hand, so I'm learning new skills!) but again, simple meals are key here.

As is frugality. I'm a working/stay-at-home mom. I'm keeping my hands in a few projects in my field because I love what I do, but by no means is it full-time work. So we're on one income, which means I buy food on sale: stew beef was the special this week at our Hannafords.

My first thought was beef stew and my mom makes the most delicious recipe but I was craving something with a kick, so, a little internet search and a few alterations to a recipe and I've got a spicy, hearty (dairy-free, gluten-free) curry that'll warm you right up.

The recipe below is adapted from this one found on epicurious.

Coconut Curry Beef Stew
(serves 2)

1 lb stew beef cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried clove
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 teaspoon dried cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups light coconut milk (if you only have regular coconut milk use 3/4 cup coconut milk and 3/4 cup water)
2 tomatoes quartered
2 tablespoons mango chutney (I used Trader Joe's)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
cilantro to garnish

Brown the stew beef in one tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place the beef aside. Add the other tablespoon of oil in the pot and saute the onion for about five minutes. Add the beef back and add all the spices; cook for another minute or two. Then, add the coconut milk, tomatoes, chutney, lemon juice, ginger, curry powder, salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an hour and a half (the longer, the more tender the beef). Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.

When I make anything with curry, roasted cauliflower is usually my go to side. I'll take a head of cauliflower and break into small pieces, toss in oil and spice with salt, pepper and curry powder to taste, roast on a oiled cookie sheet at 400F for about 25 minutes (tossing once in the middle of the cooking process) and toss in a bowl with raisins, cilantro and a drizzle of agave.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Muesli

*Enter tonight (Tuesday, 2/21) by 11:59pm by commenting on this post to win a gluten-free/dairy-free cookbook*

Muesli soaked in milk was one of my favorite breakfasts when I lived in Australia. (That was in 2003 when I did eat gluten - and drink beer and eat meat pies and douse crumpets in butter...)

It's hearty, filling and tasty, but it usually contains wheat germ and wheat bran. So, I hadn't eaten it in quite a long time.

Until 2010 when I get the chance to go to Switzerland with the huz. We discover a great little health food store in Interlaken that carries Schar brand gluten-free muesli. I have it for breakfast and my love for muesli is rekindled.

I have yet to find it in the states so I've been making my own. It's a super versatile recipe. You can adjust the amount of nuts/seeds and dried fruit to your liking:

Gluten-free, dairy-free muesli

2 cups rolled oats (certified gluten free)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
5 dried apricots, diced
1 scant teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container.

I prefer to eat my muesli soaked overnight in So Delicious coconut milk but many people eat it soaked or topped on yogurt. There's also a whole movement to eat your muesli soaked in juice. (I've tried it soaked in cranberry juice and it's good, I just prefer the creaminess that the milk produces)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway

Five years ago I started my gluten-free journey with the realization that in order to heal properly I'd have to cut dairy out of my diet too. That was even more difficult for me to accept than the gluten sensitivity diagnosis. (No cheese?! No ice cream?! Oye.)

I spent a good year and a half trying to concoct dairy-free foods that could replace my beloved creamy treats. And I spent way too much money buying products that attempted to do the same.

Fortunately, as the years have passed, food companies and some publishers are realizing that casein (the protein found in dairy) intolerance often comes along with gluten intolerance - even if it's temporary like mine.

(And then there's this whole other subset of groups who have to avoid dairy: the lactose intolerant, those with autism and/or ADHD, those who are vegan and gluten-free and those who believe that humans aren't meant to consume other mammals milk. )

Which is why I'm excited to see more cookbooks tackling the gluten-free/dairy-free issue.

I received a copy of Denise Jardine's "The Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen" and I've been having fun with the recipes: bisque, pizza, fettuccini, lasagna, and flan - foods that normally contain a whole lot of dairy have none.

Photos accompany many of the recipes (I won't buy a cookbook that doesn't have accompanying images - we eat with our eyes after all) and the recipes clearly state what they are "free of" at the top of the page.

But most important, the food is good. Yes, it's gluten-free/dairy-free cooking and with that comes understanding that you can't get non-dairy foods to taste like dairy, but! you can create so much flavor that you don't miss the dairy at all.

Take the broccoli soup I made. It was delicious. So delicious in fact that my dinner last night was three bowls of it. It won't taste like the broccoli cheese soup you find at Panera - where all you taste is the cheese. But it will feel like it: thick and hearty. (And it's so much better for you.)

I want to share the gluten-free/dairy-free love so the publishers have agreed to send out a copy to one lucky commenter on this post. If you leave a comment by midnight on Tuesday, February 21st with a valid email address, and you're chosen by you'll get a free copy sent to you (sorry - you must live in the U.S.)

In the meantime, make this soup. You won't miss the cheese. I pinky-swear.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

2 pounds broccoli, stems and florets chopped separately into 1-inch pieces

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

11/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2 potatoes)

31/2 cups Chicken Stock (page 176) or Vegetable Stock (page 177)

1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup Dairy Milk Alternative (page 173), plus more if needed

Herb Toast (page 185), for garnish (optional)

Grated lemon zest, for garnish (optional)

To prepare the soup: Combine the broccoli stems, onion, potatoes, stock, lemon juice, bay leaves, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, decrease the heat to low, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Add broccoli florets; reduce the heat to low, and simmer until florets are just tender, about 8 minutes. (By placing the broccoli florets on top of the other partially cooked vegetables, they cook via steam, and retain their vibrant green color.)

To puree the soup: Remove the soup from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Ladle half of the soup into a blender along with 1/2 cup of the milk, cover, and puree until smooth. Empty the blender into a large bowl and repeat with the remaining soup and 1/4 cup of milk. Transfer the pureed soup back to the saucepan. Thin the soup if necessary by adding a little more milk, 1/4 cup at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved. Taste and correct the seasonings. Reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, taking care not to boil the soup. Ladle into bowls and garnish with Herb Toast (recipe in book) and lemon zest.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Turkey Taco Casserole

When I was a kid, it was a big deal when Taco Bell opened near us. Their advertising campaign made me drool: crunchy shell, ground "meat" and cheese = super kid friendly.

Even my dad was pretty excited, "A whole box of tacos for five bucks!" You bet that looked appealing for a family of four.

And now as a mom I totally get that. Spending five bucks on dinner for the family is awesome!

But, now we know that what's in those tacos isn't exactly awesome...

And certainly not gluten free.

(Slightly on topic - did anyone else see that Chipotle commercial last night during the Grammy's? It's nice to see a chain focus on the quality of food they use.)

But the point of this post isn't to rag on Taco Bell or get all judgmental on fast food; it's to share with you a taco recipe I made last night. This isn't something you'll find in Mexico or the southwest. But it's something you'll find on our table at least once a month. It's simple, relatively inexpensive and features one of my favorite Mexican (or Spanish) imports: chorizo.

Ground Turkey Taco Casserole

1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled chorizo (chopped if it is Spanish chorizo)
1 lb ground turkey
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon each of: garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, hot paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
16 oz can of ranchero style refried beans
1 jar of your favorite salsa (I like Green Mountain Gringo)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
10 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly oil a 9x13 casserole dish. Saute the onion and chorizo over medium-low heat until fragrant (you may not need oil on the pan if the chorizo is fatty enough). Add the ground turkey and all of the spices. Cook until the turkey is no longer pink. Layer 5 of the corn tortillas on the bottom of the casserole dish. Spoon half of the ground turkey mixture over that and half of the salsa on top of that. Then add a cup of the shredded cheese.

Layer the next five corn tortillas on top and continue with the other layers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with salsa and sour cream on the side. I also put together a salad of romaine lettuce, tomato and avocado and whisked together a quick salad dressing of mayonnaise, agave and lime juice - add chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.