January 22, 2013

Beer Braised Carnitas

When the temperature drops and I don't want to leave the house my favorite thing to do is make something hearty and comforting.  I decided I wanted to try something new this past weekend, something I've enjoyed for many years, but never actually attempted in my own kitchen.  Beer braised carnitas!!  It is actually a very simple recipe, and I highly recommend it!

4lb Boneless Pork Butt
1 Jalapeño Pepper (chopped and seeded)
4 Garlic Cloves (slightly crushed)
Garlic Granules or Powder
Chili Powder
1 Cup Water

Cut the pork butt into 2 inch pieces.  Season the meat with salt, pepper, garlic granules, and chili powder and set aside.  In a heavy pot or dutch oven sauté the jalapeño in a little bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Then add everything (pork, garlic cloves, beer, and water) to the pot.  Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer covered for 60-80 minutes or until the pork is fork tender.  At this point remove the lid and continue to let it simmer until the liquid evaporates and the pork starts to brown slightly.  As you stir it at this point the pork will shred and pull apart.

You can serve this meat in tacos, on top of nachos, in a simple pasta dish, or even on a sandwich!  Tons of options, so your imagination is the limit....  Since we were watching the football game on Sunday night I decided to turn it into nachos!  The perfect finger food dinner while sitting in front of the TV.

I filled sheet pan with my favorite Green Mountain Tortilla Strips, and layered the chips with black beans, shredded Cabot cheddar, jalapeños, pickled banana peppers, and of course the carnitas.  I baked them for about 15 minutes at 350 to get the cheese melted and then popped them under the broiler to brown up the edges of the chips slightly.  Be sure to keep a close eye on them if you use the broiler!  You do not want to burn the nachos.  I served these with some guacamole, salsa, and hot sauce.  DELICIOUS!

January 30, 2011

Making Banana Pancakes

Sunday mornings are my favorite mornings. I like to sleep in, take the dog for a walk to Starbucks, and then go home and make some breakfast. In the winter there is something so comforting about pancakes fresh off the griddle.

Pancakes are super easy to make, and there are about a billion different ways to make them. In the summer I love berries in them, in the fall I make pumpkin pancakes, and in the winter I go with banana. I have two favorite types of banana pancakes one is banana pancakes with honey cinnamon butter and the other is espresso banana pancakes. Both recipes are below. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do!

Banana Pancakes with Cinnamon Honey Butter
1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix
1/2 Tsp Xanthan Gum
2 TBS Granulated Sugar
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 Cup Milk
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Ripe Bananas (mashed)

In a large bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle and poor in the milk, egg, vanilla, and mashed banana. Using a rubber spatula mix until just combined. Heat a large skillet or griddle on medium heat and melt about a tablespoon of butter. Spoon pancake batter into the warm skillet. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until just browned. Spoon a teaspoon of the cinnamon honey butter mixture (recipe below) on top of warm pancakes and drizzle with some honey.

Cinnamon Honey Butter
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1 TBS Clover Honey
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
In a bowl mix together all the ingredients with a rubber spatula.

Espresso Banana Pancakes
1 1/4 Cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix
1/2 Tsp Xanthan Gum
2 TBS Granulated Sugar
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Instant Espresso Powder
1 Cup Milk
1 Egg
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Ripe Bananas (mashed)

In a large bowl mix together all of the dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle and poor in the milk, egg, vanilla, and mashed banana. Using a rubber spatula mix until just combined. Heat a large skillet or griddle on medium heat and melt about a tablespoon of butter. Spoon pancake batter into the warm skillet. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until just browned. Serve with maple syrup and fresh whipped cream.

January 16, 2011

Snow Day

Here in Boston we had about two feet of snow on Wednesday. Since the bakery was closed I decided to indulge in all of my favorite snow day activities! I shoveled, went for a walk on the abandoned streets of my neighborhood, drank hot chocolate, watched the food network, and fired up the crock pot.

I surveyed the freezer, pantry, and refrigerator and decided to make a red wine braised flank steak with truffle smashed potatoes.

1-2lbs Flank Steak
Kosher Salt
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, julienned
1/2 Cup Red Wine (I used a Pinot Noir, but any dry red will work)
1 Large Can of Organic Diced Tomatoes
1 Small Can of Tomato Sauce
1-2 Cups Beef Stock

Preheat your slow cooker on high. Add the tomatoes, sauce, and wine to the slow cooker. Then season your flank steak with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin. The meat needs to be well seasoned when you are slow cooking, so definitely use a heavy hand. In a large heavy skillet on medium high sear the flank steak in some olive oil. You can cut the flank steak into a couple of pieces if it won't fit in the pan. Sear for about 4 minutes on each side. Place the seared steak into tomato and wine mixture that is simmering in the slow cooker. In the same pan that you seared the steak, saute your onions, using a wooden spoon to get all of the browned seasoning off the bottom of the pan. Season the onions with salt and pepper as they cook. Saute for about 6 minutes on medium low heat. Scrape the onions and the rest of the pan juices into the slow cooker. Then add as much beef stock as necessary to cover the steak completely. Leave the slow cooker on high for an hour, then reduce the heat to low and let cook for 5-6 hours, or until the meat is falling apart. You can check the seasoning along the way and add salt to taste.

When the meat is done I like to take some of the tomatoes, onions, and juices from the slow cooker and puree them in the Cuisinart or blender to make a smooth rich sauce to serve the meat with.

For the potatoes I simply mashed them with cream, butter, salt, and a splash of truffle oil.

I really love a good snow storm!

Christmas Dinner 2010

Ok, so this post is long overdue. The holidays are so busy, it always takes me a month to recover and pull my house back together. I love the holidays, but I hate all the clutter that gets left in the wake. I have a tradition that the day after Christmas I pull all my old clothes, that have not been worn in a year, out of my closets and give them to goodwill to make room for all of the new things I received as Christmas gifts. This definitely helps the house feel less cramped. Then on New Years day I de-Christmas the house. Then I spend the next week cleaning and reorganizing everything, and rearranging furniture. Now that I have successfully completed all my post holiday traditions I can finally sit at my computer and get to work.

Christmas day my mom always puts together an amazing dinner for the family. For the past nine years I have been the only one eating gluten free, but this year my cousin was diagnosed with a gluten allergy, so now there are two of us! This year every dish served was gluten free from appetizers to dessert. It was deliciously overwhelming! My aunt made delicious stuffed mushrooms with gluten free bread crumbs, a family tradition, that I hadn't had in years. My mom served roast, scalloped potato gratin, broccoli rabe, asparagus, and salad with pomegranate seeds and goat cheese. Everything was perfect! For dessert we had cupcakes, sugar cookies, and gingerbread men from the bakery (s0me how I forgot to get a picture of the dessert table, I blame the food coma). All in all it was a delicious meal, and nobody missed the gluten :)

November 30, 2010

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. There is nothing better than a day spent at home with the family sharing delicious food and funny stories. This year was exceptionally good!

Our gluten free feast consisted of turkey, butternut squash soup, mashed potatoes, peas, green beans, squash, sweet potatoes, rolls, gravy, green salad, stuffing, and cranberry sauce! It was a miracle that after all of that any of us had room for dessert!

I must say that we had quite the spread of desserts! Toffee pecan pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate bundt cake, triple layer pumpkin spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and apple tarte. The last two were my gluten free contributions, and quite delicious!

People are often intimidated by pie crust or tartes, but they are actually quite easy! Just a few simple ingredients and a food processor make this a simple dessert that will definitely impress.

Apple Tarte

1 1/4 cups gluten free flour mix
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon gluten free flour mix
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
6 large McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

Blend the dry ingredients and diced butter in a food processor on pulse. Then add the egg yolks one at a time. Pulse until the dough clumps together. Remove the dough from the processor, form into a disk, and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 375. Roll out and press into greased tarte pan or pie dish, then cut away any extra crust that hangs over the side. For the filling combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss until the apples are evenly covered. Pour the filling into the prepared crust so that the filling is evenly distributed. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and apples are soft. Serve with your favorite vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

This crust is versatile, so you could use it for any type of pie! You could even double the recipe so that you can make a top crust or basket weave for your pie if you desire.

November 9, 2010

Fall & Holidays

Hello Everyone!

So it has been an inexcusably long time since I last posted anything. I apologize for the absence, but we had a busy summer at the bakery filled with graduation cakes, wedding cakes, and much more. Anyway, it is time to get the blog back on track... The goal is to have a new post every week. Now, I have lots of interesting ideas on things to write about for the next few weeks, but I would also love your input! So if you have a gluten free cooking/baking/ living question please send it to me.

This fall it has been full on pumpkin palooza in the bakery. As many of you know we make our pumpkin bread year around, otherwise we have very sad customers. This time of year we make 9 large loaves a day 4-5 times a week! That's a whole lot of pumpkin bread! In addition we also make pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin chocolate chip squares, and pumpkin cupcakes. Our newest item that will be making it's debut later this week is our pumpkin cheesecake brownie! Now through Thanksgiving there will be plenty of pumpkin goodness for everyone.

Now, the topic of Thanksgiving brings up lots of questions from our loyal shoppers. So I will do my best to answer them below.

1. Do you make pies for Thanksgiving?

Sadly we don't. The reason is that we have a very small bakery. If any of you have made a pie before you know how much space and time they take. Making the actual pie dough is quite easy. However, rolling them out takes all of our counter space, then baking them off, then making the fillings, filling the pies, rolling out the top of the pie, egg washing, and baking again. It's a lengthy process for sure, and we would have to charge accordingly for all of the time they take.

We are playing with solutions to the pie dilemma for next year. We are considering selling the pre-baked crusts frozen, so that you could buy them fill them and bake them, and we are considering a baking mix for pie crust. Let us know which option you prefer!

2. What special holiday things will you be making?

We will have dinner rolls, brioche bread, stuffing mix, cranberry bread, sugar cookies, molasses spice cookies, cupcakes, muffins, coffee cakes, cranberry bread, and of course all things pumpkin!

3. Can gluten hide in Thanksgiving dinner?

YES! There are so many things you need to be careful about when you are preparing Thanksgiving dinner or celebrating with family members that are not gluten free. There are several brands of turkey that are gluten free, but it's important to read the labels! I found a few lists online but here was one good list:

Another common ingredient in a lot of the Thanksgiving side dishes is chicken stock, many of which contain gluten. So be sure to read all the labels!!! I like the Pacific Natural Foods brand, but there are lots, so choose whichever you like best.

Obviously stuffing is typically made with bread, so if you are having Thanksgiving with friends and they are making the turkey you should ask them not to stuff the turkey with the stuffing. They can bake their glutenous stuffing in a caserole dish instead. To add flavor to the turkey they can simply stuff the bird with citrus fruit, vegetables, and herbs. If you are making the turkey it's very easy to make a delicious gluten free stuffing! I like to make it with our brioche bread, which is how we make our stuffing mix at the bakery.

Gravy is another area where you either have to pass or make a substitution. This is pretty easy to make gluten free simply by swapping the flour for a combo of corn starch and rice flour. There are tons of easy recipes online too, so just do a google search and check them out.

Thankfully most all of the vegetable side dishes at Thanksgiving are naturally gluten free! But if you are not making them yourself it's always a good idea to double check the ingredients with the chef. Be sure to ask what kind of stock or broth they used in it!

And remember... NEVER feel like a pest or a burden by asking questions! You deserve to have a safe, delicious, and healthy dinner as much as anyone else at the table. If you are nervous about attending Thanksgiving dinner in a household that's not used to gluten free cooking it's a good idea to send an email in advance. Just write down a list of gluten free ingredients that will make the meal easier for the chef to prepare. Planning ahead will reduce anxiety for everyone!

If you have other questions please feel free to ask! I would love to help if I can. Good luck with your holiday menu planning!

April 9, 2010

Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation

Last night Glutenus Minimus had the opportunity to participate in Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation at the Hynes Convention Center. This was a wonderful event to raise money for child hunger. Many of the top chefs from the Boston area came together to make this event a huge success! It was a fun night! If you are interested in learning more about Share Our Strength and how you can get involved you can visit their website.