Thursday, January 9, 2020

Buckwheat Pilav (kasha)

Buckwheat groats cooked with chicken broth

     Needing to avoid wheat and/or yeast is a good reason to check out some other grains. Buckwheat, despite the name, is not related to wheat at all. It cooks to a texture similar to rice and is surprisingly tasty.

      2 c. water (Use broth if you like. See Broth on this page )
     1 Tb. oil (any you're not allergic to)
     1 c. untoasted buckwheat groats

     Heat the water to boiling; set aside. Heat the oil to medium in a small saucepan. Add the buckwheat to the oil and, stirring constantly, cook until the buckwheat looks almost dry and smells toasty. Pour the water into the pan with the buckwheat. It will splutter and boil furiously; this is normal. Turn the heat to a simmer, and add salt to taste (the amount of salt needed may vary with your choice of liquid). Cover, and cook until the water is absorbed and the buckwheat is tender. The grains should be separate and fluffy. Remove from heat and allow to set for a few minutes. Serve warm with butter (for those that can eat butter).

Monday, January 6, 2020

Corn-Free Marshmallow Fluff

     Commercially made marshmallow fluff, or marshmallow creme, consists largely of corn syrup. It is, however, entirely possible to make perfectly smooth, creamy marshmallow fluff without corn.

     The recipe below is corn-free. It does contain egg, so it doesn't meet my usual specs. However,  it's difficult to make decent sweets without  wheat, dairy, corn or soy, which makes this recipe noteworthy for some of us. 

     What's more, an unwary cook trying to make marshmallow fluff by just leaving out the corn syrup is likely to produce a recrystallized, grainy mess. Here's how we're going to prevent that. First, we're going to use cane sugar. Cane sugar and beet sugar are both nearly pure sucrose. It's possible, though, that the slight difference in impurities is important for such a delicate procedure as candy making: many candy makers report getting better results with cane sugar. Also, the combination of adding a little lemon juice and cooking the mixture slowly on low heat allows  some of the sucrose to break down into glucose and fructose, which makes it less likely that the syrup will recrystallize while you're cooking it.

     3 c. cane sugar

     5/6 (i.e. 1/2+1/3) c. water 
     3/4 tsp. lemon juice
     1/4 tsp. salt
     2 egg whites
     (optional) 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 

     Stir the first 4 ingredients together in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Continue boiling, but without stirring. Wipe down the ring of sugar crystals just above the syrup with a wet pastry brush. 

     Meanwhile, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until they form stiff peaks. 

     Remove the syrup from the heat when it reaches 265 degrees; use a candy thermometer.* 

     Gradually pour the syrup into the egg whites, while continuing to beat on high. Beat for a few minutes, until thoroughly mixed.

     Store (in glass jars if you have some) and refrigerate.

     Enjoy Life Choco Boom makes a variety of soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free  chocolate bars. Now if I can just come up with some wheat-free and otherwise nonallergenic graham crackers, we can make some smores...

     *This is the correct temperature around sea level. You need to adjust for altitude by subtracting 2 degrees for every 1000 feet above that. 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Mushroom Broth

     Mushroom broth is delicious as a simple soup, a soup base, a gravy base or the liquid for cooking rice. The commercially available mushroom broth is actually pretty good, although not as good as homemade. It comes in packages made of paperboard covered with wax, though, and the wax is likely to have been made of corn or soy. If you're very allergic to one or both of those plants, you might want to make your own mushroom broth. It's actually pretty easy: you don't need to meticulously cut the vegetables into tiny pieces, for one thing: no one will see them in the end anyway. You can use up vegetables that were previously set aside in other recipes: mushroom stems, the top parts of leeks, parsley stems. Also, the recipe is pretty forgiving: you can add celery, add more thyme, skip the carrot, or what have you.

     1 Tb. oil (any you are not allergic to)
     1 carrot, peeled and sliced
     the green parts of one leek, chopped
     1 onion, chopped
     6 cloves of garlic, cut into a few slices
     2 lb. of mushrooms, sliced
     good handful of parsley 
     6-8 sprigs of thyme
     2 bay leaves
     1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
     3 quarts of water (12 cups)

         Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the carrot, leek, onion and a good sprinkle of salt, Saute gently, stirring frequently, until the veggies are softening up and the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook until the garlic is also translucent, another minute or so. Then add the mushrooms, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns. Continue cooking on medium heat, stirring now and then,until the mushrooms are cooking down and releasing juice. Pour in the water, bring back to a boil, and simmer for an hour or a bit more. Next line a colander with a cloth and strain the broth into another large pot. Let the strained veggies cool off for a few minutes, then pick up the cloth and wring the juice out of the veggies and into the broth.
     If you are using the broth immediately as soup, add salt to taste. If not, leave it alone: this allows you to reduce it inside sauces and things without making them too salty. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Beet Garnish

     So many beet recipes involve either dairy products or vinegar and are thus allergenic for some of us. These beets, besides being rich without dairy and well-seasoned without vinegar, are a vivid color and quick to prepare.

     1 lb. washed, peeled, grated beets
     1/2 c. canned coconut milk (see Coconut on this page )
     1 tsp. ground dried mint leaves
     2 cloves crushed garlic

     Put the beets, coconut milk, mint, garlic and 1/2 tsp. of salt into a sufficiently wide skillet. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer, stirring frequently, for 15 min or so, until the beets are tender and have lost their raw flavor. Uncover and boil off any excess remaining liquid. Serve warm

Monday, November 25, 2019

Boeuf au Jus de Grenade (beef stewed in pomegranate juice)

Boeuf bourguignon, the classic French stewed beef recipe, is rich, aromatic and wonderful. The conventional recipe includes a good dose of wine, which of course contains traces of yeast. The alcohol boils off, but the yeast remains and is still an allergen.Note that juice freshly squeezed from a pomegranate is likely to contain less yeast than bottled juice. (See Juice on this page.) Fresh and bottled juice both contain a lot less yeast than wine.

This recipe relies on pomegranate juice for the rich, slightly tart, fruity flavors that would usually be provided by wine. It turns out that pomegranate juice, like wine, transforms simple broth into an intense, delicious sauce.  

chuck roast stewed in pomegranate juice.
Hmm, I didn't actually chop the parsley leaves.

     1 lb. pearl onions
     1 lb. mushrooms
     6-8 oz. bacon (See Bacon on this page)
     oil (any you're not allergic to)
     3 lb. stewing beef, cut into large chunks

     1 carrot, sliced
     1 onion, sliced
     1-1/2 c. pomegranate juice
     2-3 cloves of garlic, mashed 
     a few sprigs of thyme (or a good sprinkle of dry thyme)
     1 bay leaf
     chicken or beef broth (See Broth on this page)
     2 Tb. rice flour
     (optional) handful of parsley leaves, washed and chopped

Saute the mushrooms, doubling the recipe given in the link but skipping the green onions, and braise the onions . Stash these veggies together in the fridge. Fry the bacon in a large skillet; do not discard the grease. Cut the bacon into chunks not more than an inch long or half an inch wide; stash in fridge. Sprinkle salt and black pepper onto the chunks of beef. Heat the bacon grease to medium, add oil if needed, and brown the beef. Put the beef into a large enough pot. Brown the carrot and onion in the hot bacon grease and add them to the pot with the beef. Discard the grease. Add the bacon, pomegranate juice, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf to the stew. Pour in enough broth to just cover the beef. Bring to a boil and simmer until the beef is thoroughly tender (2-3 hours).

When the beef is tender,r
emove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.Use a sieve to strain the stew, collecting the broth in another pot. Skim the fat off the surface. Turn the heat up to high and reduce the broth rapidly to 2 cups. Stir the rice flour into a half cup of water. Gradually add to the broth in the pot, whisking it thoroughly and bringing it back up to a boil after each addition, until the sauce thickens up a bit--you may not need all the rice flour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put the stew back in the pot, and add the broth, braised onions and sauteed mushrooms. Heat for a couple of minutes, just until everything is hot again. Garnish with the parsley just before serving.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Corn-Free, Yeast-Free Catsup


   Commercially bottled catsup generally contains corn in multiple forms. Often it contains quite a lot of corn syrup; it also generally contains white vinegar (made from corn) and citric acid (usually derived from corn). Vinegar, of course, is a fermentation product and thus may contain traces of yeast, and, like other commercial tomato products, catsup can contain traces of mold or yeast (see "Tomato products, canned" on this page )

     For some corn-allergic people, searching out the brands that list sugar in their list of ingredients instead of corn syrup may be sufficient. If you make your own catsup you can use sugar instead of corn syrup and replace the vinegar with citrus juices. I don't like my catsup to taste lemony so I use a mixture of grapefruit juice and lime juice. Any juice with a good acidic kick should work fine.

     3 lb. Roma tomatoes
     1/2 tsp. paprika
     2 Tb. lime juice
     1 Tb. grapefruit juice
     1 tsp. salt

          Peel the tomatoes (see "Produce" on this page ). (You can seed them at this stage too if you like.) Cut each tomato into a few pieces. Put them in a saucepan with a small splash of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for half an hour. At this point the tomato pieces should be coming apart and the seeds should be softened up so that a blender can break them up. Process the tomatoes, in batches, in a blender. If there are still too many visible seeds to suit you, you can strain them out using a food mill or a sieve with a fine enough mesh. (Remember that the seeds will become more apparent as you reduce the tomatoes.) Put the processed tomatoes back in the saucepan and add the paprika, lime juice, grapefruit juice, salt and 2 Tb. of sugar. Stirring occasionally, simmer uncovered until the mixture is reduced to about 2 cups and reaches a.catsup consistency. Add sugar and salt to taste, remembering that the catsup will taste slightly sweeter once it is cold. Refrigerate.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Caramel-Apple Ice Cream

     Like bananas , apples contain a lot of both pectin and starch; like frozen bananas, frozen apples can be whirled in a food-processor to create an easy, hypoallergenic ice cream base.

     This caramel-apple ice cream, which is reminiscent of an old-fashioned caramel apple, is particularly good.

     1 lb. of peeled, cored, sliced apples
     1 cup of corn-free, dairy-free caramel sauce 

     Put the apple slices in a container in the freezer. Wait until they are thoroughly frozen. 

     Put the apples in a food-processor. (If you need to, adjust the amount of apples as needed so that your food-processor can handle them easily.) Put the container back in the freezer. Run the food-processor until the apples are finely ground. Add the caramel sauce and process until the mixture is very smooth. Scoop the soft ice cream into the chilled container and either serve immediately or put into the freezer immediately.