Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gluten-Free: Quinoa Risotto with Spring Vegetables

Quinoa Risotto with Spring Vegetables - from Scot Jones of Vegeterranean, Akron

4 Servings (easily adjusted for more, use an additional skillet)

2 T. Smart Balance Spread
1 cup of asparagus, cleaned and cut into 1" pieces (feel free to sub your favorite veg)
1 cup of leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced
1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes in oil
1 medium shallot, minced
2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 t. fresh thyme, minced
1 c. wild mixed mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 T. Sherry
1/2 c. gluten-free vegetable stock, warmed (keep at least a cup in a small saucepan on the stove)
1 c. cashew cream
2 cups of cooked white quinoa
2  T. Parma! Vegan Parmesan

Sauteed Ramps, Roasted Baby Carrots, and Basil Olive Oil for garnish

Heat large skillet (10-12") over medium high heat and melt Smart Balance.  Add vegetables, shallot, garlic, thyme, and season with salt and pepper.  Saute a minute or two, then add wild mushrooms and continue to saute several minutes until vegetables are crisp tender.

Remove pan from flame and add Sherry.  Return to heat and cook of the alcohol for a minute or two.  Stir in warmed stock, then cashew cream.  Simmer for a few minutes - sauce will begin to reduce and thicken.  Add quinoa, and Vegan parmesan, and toss o stir to combine.  Add more stock if necessary to moisten.

Serve in pasta bowl or plate, garnish with basil flavored olive oil and sauteed ramps (Smart Balance + Salt & Pepper)  and roasted baby carrots. (No ramps - use regular or garlic chives)

*I adapted Scot's recipe for home use and all measurements are approximate - feel free to adjust any ingredient up or down to suit your taste - remember recipes are just guides ;-)

This is just one of the tasty, gluten-free, vegan recipes served and demonstrated by Chef Scot Jones of Vegi Terranean Restaurant for the Greater Cleveland Celiac Association on Sunday, April 18th.

The menu also included the restaurant's delicious Tomato Artichoke Bisque, and a beautiful, tasty Beet Carpaccio Salad - with shaved celery root with tofu ricotta and lemon truffle vinaigrette.  Here is a shot of the salad, including some of the awesome micro greens from Chef's Garden.

Dessert was a delicious chocolate torte with a berry compote.

Chef Scot did a show and tell on newly available, and upcoming gluten-free products, let the guests sample some unfamiliar ingredients, then explained how to make the risotto while I demonstrated.

The Vegi Terranean sous chefs were participating in the Vegan Iron Chef competition across town, in Kent, and Chef Scot was scheduled to be there, so he headed there as soon as the demo was complete, and I took over the kitchen duties.

Word has it that team Vegi Terranean won the Iron Chef event - Congratulations! 

Gluten-free lifestyle?  Don't forget that Vegi Terranean takes it very seriously.  You'll be able to get a fabulous meal that is completely gluten-free, including bread service.

Be sure and visit during Art Walk as well.  Held the first Saturday of the month except July.  Sign up for my friends Claudia and Michael's e-mail list from Zeber-Martell Clay Studio (located next door to the restaurant), and you'll get reminders for Art Walk.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gadget Love: Stretch-Tite Wrap 'N Snap 7500

The day a friend turned me on to Stretch-Tite, marked a turning point in my relationship with plastic wraps.  I've pondered when and how the supermarket wraps went from sticking to everything, but mostly itself, and it's packaging, to not sticking to anything.  It seems like the manufacturers went from making quality plastic wraps to cranking out bags in all sizes and varieties, and forgot that good old plastic wrap, still holds a special place in the kitchen.

I've also wrestled with the giant commercial size boxes, sometimes with embarrassing and unsuccessful results.  There are metal cutters, cardboard cutters, and plastic sliders, but get a 15" or wider, wrap in a twist, and even the most patient person can start to get a little crazy.  And I am not the most patient person.

Enter the Stetch-Tite Wrap 'N Snap 7500.  That just sounds like a high tech piece of equipment.  The website description reads: "Simply close the lid and release ... film is cut tangle free ... end is ready for the next use.  The Stretch-Tite WRAP'N SNAP will surely leave you satisfied."  How could I pass up that kind of promise?

Perhaps it's a sad testament to my need to get a life, but when the box arrived on the porch, AND they threw in a free box of Stretch-Tite, my heart sang a little.  I ordered a box of Freeeze-Tite, but haven't yet put it to the test.

I put the new box in the Wrap 'N Snap, and it does indeed perform as promised.  The stabilizing rubber feet keep it level and happy on the countertop while you pull the wrap out to cover your item. A quick push on the lid, and presto the wrap cuts cleanly and releases.  No more pulling out a partially stuck to the roll piece, disassembling the package, wasting product evening up, muttering, swearing, etc.

Locally, BJ's Wholesale sells Stretch-Tite in 2 packs.  I highly recommend seeking it out; once you've tried it, you'll never go back to the stuff that doesn't do what it's supposed to.  And spring for the Wrap 'N Snap if you can.  You can order it through their website.  It will indeed leave you surely satisfied.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Making Goat Cheese: Lucky Penny Creamery

One of the coolest things about being a Big Girl Scout, is earning Merit badges by hanging out with fellow Big Girl Scouts.  I recently met Abbe Turner, of the new Lucky Penny Farm and Creamery, at a food and wine pairing event, and instantly recognized a fellow scout.  The passion with which she spoke about her animals, and her desire to make pure, natural cheese, was effervescent.

It's spring in Ohio, a warmer and slightly earlier than normal one, and the last few weeks have seen plenty of new additions to the farm.  Abbe warmly accepted my offer to come visit and apprentice for the day, as long as I waited until most of the kids were born.  Which worked for me, since I don't know nothing about birthing no babies.

When I arrived at the Garrettsville farm, the whole gang, warmly welcomed me, from the chickens, dogs, cats, and goats.  The girls, and their kids sang me a a song and looked forward to a morning snack; moms got hay, babies got mom's milk.  And then the kids, like the one above, settled down for a nap in the warm sun after skipping and frolicking a bit.

The different types of goats, Nubian, La Mancha, and Alpine Dairy goats, are kept separately, and we made our way around the various barns to visit everyone.  One of the La Manchas,  pictured below, who kind of resemble ET, was eager to see us and get a few head scratches.

We headed to the creamery, in Kent, where about 250 gallons of fresh goat milk was waiting to be transformed into feta cheese. 

The creamery is in start-up mode, with the set up of several aging rooms in progress, and a retail portion, which is scheduled to open in a few weeks on Thursdays through Saturdays. (I'll update this post with the address and hours when they are ready to accept visitors).  There is also space for lectures and classes; in fact, I will be doing my Living La Vida Locavore class there on a Thursday evening.

Back to the work of making cheese.  And trust me, it sounds a lot easier when I write it, than it is in reality.  Make no mistake, making artisan cheese is hard work and physically demanding.  In retrospect, I could have skipped my morning workout.  I definitely did the next day.

The milk is transferred from the holding tank, in an adjoining room, into this tank, where the milk is pasteurized, then the starter, followed by the rennet is added.  Curds and whey form, then the curds are scooped out and put into molds to finish draining.  Sounds easy, huh?

We started around 1:00 pm, and the tank was finally empty around 10:00 pm.  There were a few pockets of time, including the hour the milk needs to remain at prescribed temps for the pasteurization process, and a hour for the starter to do it's thing, which we spent washing and sanitizing buckets to hold the whey, and the molds, and we squeezed in an interview for an executive assistant.

Once the milk gets up to temp, the room gets plenty moist and warm, then even moister, because then the milk needs to be cooled down as soon as possible,  so the hot water gets drained and cold water gets pumped in.  You don't really need to worry about having a bad hair day, because it's tucked in your hairnet. 

Once the rennet does it's thing, it doesn't take long for the magic to happen.  Accountant Tracy stopped by, so there were three of us, scooping and molding and collecting whey.

There was a whole lot of cheese in there.  Tracy and I took turns holding the bags and filling, and were constantly amazed when we hit yet another pocket of curds after we were sure the tank was almost empty.

Lucky Penny Creamery makes fresh chevre, feta, and a wickedly delicious caramel sauce called Cajeta.

Please believe me when I tell you, that if you think you don't like goat cheese, you've probably been served some over the hill cheese.  Try some fresh, local, made with love and a lot of hard work cheese, and I bet you'll change your mind. 

I most definitely earned my Merit Badge in cheesemaking and I am looking forward to future visits.  Thanks Abbe, for letting me hang out with you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Book Report: Soaked, Slathered, and Seasoned

I am working on updating my summer menu with an eye towards my new weekly's request for "flavorful, fragrant, beautiful food".

Elizabeth Karmel's Taming the Flame: Secrets for Hot-and-Quick Grilling and Low-and-Slow BBQ is one of my favorite summer cookbooks. The Tumbled Tomatoes are a summer snacking favorite, and my absolute favorite chicken salad recipe featuring red grapes and Chinese Five Spice powder, is on page 40.

Her newest is a small, softcover gem, stuffed with yummy sounding stuff - Soaked, Slathered, and Seasoned: A Complete Guide to Flavoring Food for the Grill.

The first section gives some grilling basics, then it moves into sections for marinades and brines (Soaked), sauces, glazes, mop, sauces, relishes & jellies and sweet sauces (Slathered), then BBQ rubs and spice blends, flavored vinaigrettes, compound butters, pestos and tapenades and dipping sauces (Seasoned).

Here's a few that caught my eye:

Green Olive & Lemon Marmalade Tapenade (I have a jar that marmalade in the cupboard!)

Finger Lickin Good Brandy-Steeped-Fig Tapenade (FIGS!)
Mushroom Pesto
Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Butter (!)
Chunky Lemon Olive Vinaigrette
Root Beer BBQ Sauce
Pumpkin Butter BBQ Sauce (with Applejack!)

Looking forward to moving into grilling season and trying out some of these delicious sounding recipes.  You can see more of Elizabeth Karmel's recipes on Girls at the Grill, but I'd highly recommend you get a copy of both of her books. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

There's always room for Jello: Retro Seafoam Salad

A recent Facebook topic regarding Easter menus, and which dish always appears, whether anyone really likes or not, brought to mind the ubiquitous Seafoam Salad.  It's appeared on every Easter table my mother ever set, and it shows up at family picnics and post funeral gatherings with alarming regularity in the Midwest.

I only needed to consult my "Mom" cookbook, a compendium of family recipes that she typed on index cards and pasted in a photo album, to discover it's secret.  It's the first recipe in the book, but not because it was one the one I loved the most.  It is written in her typical, sparse style, which usually includes instructions like "add a little more mayo until it looks right".

I had no idea Dream Whip still even existed.  I thought surely that Cool Whip would have wiped this do-it-yourself fake whipped topping into oblivion.  A glance at the ingredient list both baffled and frightened me.  I really would rather take my chances on a full cup of heavy whipping cream than this creation, which seems like a waste of perfectly good organic milk and high quality vanilla extract to prepare.

The box helpfully advises that chilling the bowl and beaters on a really hot day is preferable, but that it is not necessary to refrigerate the package. Good to know. A consultation with my mom, indeed revealed, that Cool Whip is her weapon of choice these days.

I try to avoid Jello for a lot of reasons, and none has passed my threshold in at least a dozen years.  I was so clueless, I really thought this salad was made from pistachio pudding and cool whip.  But no, it starts with lime jello.  Which has a color obviously not found in nature.  But the most disturbing part is the smell.  Acrid, in your face fake limey, and it lingers in the fridge even after the other ingredients join the party.

The only thing natural in this photo is the reflection of the trees.

I do have a bit of soft spot for Miracle Whip.  I used to enjoy a good white bread with Miracle Whip sandwich as a kid, and I recognize the underlying tang in a lot of family recipes, like deviled eggs, potato salad, etc.  The Hellman's camp gets all freaked out about Miracle Whip, but those of us who lived in Kraft households probably had as much Miracle Whip as mayo.

I fear I may have let the jello get a little farther past the 'almost set' stage that my mother probably has timed in her head.  I whipped the Dream Whip, chopped some walnuts, and did my best to fold everything together.  It looks and tastes the same, save some little tell-tale bits of jello.

Now that I've unlocked the mystery of this family favorite,  I'd like to stuff that genie back in the bottle.  It's one thing to put a spoonful on your plate to be polite.  It's another thing altogether to have a bucket of this in your frig throwing off it's limey twang.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Olive Oil Genoise with Strawberry Champagne Sauce

I made this Olive Oil Genoise Cake with Strawberry Champagne Sauce several times last spring.  It's light and airy, thanks to olive oil, and as long as you have a stand mixer, it's as easy as can be.  It's diabetic friendly and a perfect dessert for spring holiday celebrations.

Six large, room temp eggs are beaten on high for 15 minutes with 3/4 cup of sugar.  Yes, 15 minutes.  The olive oil is drizzled in slowly with the mixer still running for a few minutes, then sifted cake flour is folded in.

It's baked in a greased, parchment lined springform pan for about a half an hour.  A light, but delicious strawberry sauce with a little sugar and champagne takes no time to whiz together in the blender.

Here's a shot of some plated at a dinner party I did for a client last spring.