Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pesto with Pecorino Romano and Dairy-Free Pesto

Dairy-free pesto on rice spaghetti

     Pesto is great stuff to have ready in the fridge: you can quickly boil up some rice pasta and call it a meal (or use pesto on pizza--see Five-Minute Hypoallergenic Pizza). An allergy to cow’s milk may not be a reason to forgo pesto.  Pecorino Romano cheese, which is made from sheep’s milk, is an excellent substitute for the Parmesan that is usually used (See Cheese in the Glossary). If you are also allergic to sheep’s milk, try the dairy-free pesto in the next recipe.

     Freshly made pesto is a beautiful green sauce. Unfortunately, any pesto that is not eaten immediately starts to turn brown. There are a couple of ways to combat this. One is simply to add a half tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the recipe.  This drastically slows the browning but does not altogether prevent it. 

     The other way to combat browning is to blanch the basil leaves.  This does prevent browning altogether, but you do lose a bit of the flavor of the fresh, raw leaves.  To blanch basil leaves bring a potful of water to boiling and prepare a large bowl of cold water.  Put the basil leaves in a sieve that can fit down into either the pot of boiling water or the bowl of cold water. Immerse the basil in the boiling water, wait for 10 seconds, then immediately immerse the basil in the cold water and let it cool off. Dry the basil and proceed with the recipe.

Pesto with Pecorino Romano

     leaves from 4 oz. of basil, about 2 cups gently packed (See Produce in
          the Glossary)
     4 cloves garlic
     1/2 cup pine nuts (See Pine Nuts in the Glossary)
     3/4 c. olive oil  (See Oil in the Glossary)
     6 oz. grated Pecorino Romano (See Cheese in the Glossary)
     salt and black pepper to taste (See Salt and Spices in the Glossary)

     Put all the ingredients into a food-processor and process until thoroughly chopped and mixed.  Purists may insist on thorough chopping with a knife instead. I agree that pesto should have some texture; don't make it in a blender.

Dairy-Free Pesto

Dairy-free pesto

     See the instructions for Pesto with Pecorino Romano, above.

     leaves from 4 oz. of basil, about 2 cups gently packed (See Produce in
          the Glossary)
     4 cloves garlic
     1 cup pine nuts (See Pine Nuts in the Glossary)
     1/2 c. olive oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     salt and black pepper to taste (See Salt and Spices in the Glossary)

Dairy-Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Garlic mashed potatoes made with chicken stock

     I had it firmly stuck in my mind that the only way to make mashed potatoes was with milk and butter.  After we discovered my grandson was allergic to dairy I didn't make mashed potatoes for a long time.  That was silly: there are other tasty liquids that complement potatoes!  For the record, I tried tomato juice once, but the result was disconcertingly pink and not especially tasty.

     10 medium potatoes
     1 to 1-1/2 cups beef or chicken stock (See Broth in the Glossary)
     20 cloves of garlic, peeled
     oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)

     Put the potatoes in a large pot; add water to cover  Bring to a boil, then simmer until thoroughly cooked. Drain the potatoes, and peel if desired. Meanwhile, put the garlic in a very small pot, add oil to mostly cover, and saute very gently until very soft. Heat the stock.  Mash the potatoes with the garlic, 1/4 cup of the garlic-infused oil, and enough hot stock to achieve a good consistency. Salt to taste.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Allergen-Free Tortilla Chips

Left: chips made from corn tortillas
Right: chips made from brown rice tortillas

     Strangely, chips, the archetypal “junk food,” often contain surprisingly few ingredients. To avoid allergens you mostly need to check on what kind of oil they were fried in. Freshly cooked chips taste a lot better than chips that have been sitting in bags on grocery store shelves for a while and are very easy to make. If you are allergic to wheat, use corn or rice tortillas; if you are allergic to corn, use wheat  or rice tortillas.  Food for Life brown rice tortillas contain xanthan gum (from corn?) but no wheat, corn or yeast and make good, crisp chips. Note that some wheat tortillas contain yeast; if you are allergic to yeast, look for a brand that doesn’t have it or use rice tortillas. Remember that traces of corn or wheat can lurk in fry oil and be picked up by a following batch of tortilla chips: if you need to make more than one kind of tortilla chip, pay attention to the order in which you cook them or use two separate batches of oil.  

     oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     popcorn salt (See Salt, popcorn in the Glossary)

     Cut some tortillas into strips or whatever shape you like. Prepare a plate covered with paper towels.  Tortilla chips cook rather quickly, so you need to have everything ready (and other people out of the kitchen) before you start. Put one tortilla strip into a pot containing enough oil that you can immerse chips in it and have plenty of room for hot oil to bubble up without escaping from the pot. Turn it on to medium high heat. When that chip is cooked, dredge it out: your oil is now hot enough.  Put enough chips in to fill the pot with one layer of chips. When they start to turn golden, quickly turn them over and allow them to cook briefly on the other side.  Using a slotted spoon, take the chips out of the oil and spread them out on the plate covered with paper towels to drain.  Go on to the next batch. Salt with popcorn salt.

Note: Depending on what you're allergic to, you can also make excellent, crisp chips from Siete brand almond tortillas (Ingredients: almond flour, tapioca flour, water, salt, xanthan gum, apple cider vinegar, fermented extract [oregano, flaxseed, plum]).
Chips made from Siete
almond flour tortillas

Allergen-Free Radish Juice Marinade

     The combination of paprika, mint and garlic in a marinade is a Middle Eastern classic, one  I think works particularly well on chicken and lamb.  Usually the base is yogurt, but radish juice brings a lot of flavor, a hint of spiciness and no common allergens to the dish. Obviously radish juice  will tenderize just as well combined with more conventional Western poultry herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, etc.)

     Radish juice is only mildly acidic, so give the marinade plenty of time to work.

     ½ c. radish juice (Just put a chunk of daikon or a handful of little red 
          radishes through a juicer.)
     ¼ c. olive oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
     1 tsp. salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     ½ tsp. black pepper (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1/2 Tb. paprika (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1 tsp. dried mint (See Spices in the Glossary)

     Mix all the ingredients together.  Makes enough to marinade 3-4 lb. of chicken pieces.

     Variation: To spice things up, replace some or all of the paprika with red pepper.

Sesame-Free Tarator Sauce

Tarator made with sunflower seed butter

Sunflower seed tarator on fish

     This is a Middle Eastern sauce that is usually based on (sesame) tahini and lemon juice. This version with sunflower seed butter is different from but quite as good as the original. It is rich, sharp and perfect on grilled meats and fish and on savory fritters such as egg-free, wheat-free, bean-free falafel

        Note that some people who are allergic to nuts and/or peanuts are also allergic to sunflower seeds. Ask your allergist if you're not sure.

     juice of 1 lemon (See Juice in the Glossary)
     3/4 c. water
     1/2 tsp. salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     1/2 c. sunflower seed butter
     2 cloves garlic
     2 Tb. olive oil (See Oil in the Glossary)

Put all ingredients in a blender and puree thoroughly.

Sesame-Free Baba Gannozh

     This is the classic Middle Eastern eggplant dip. The standard recipe, of course, calls for tahini (crushed sesame), but I substitute sunflower butter. It gives it a somewhat different flavor, but I think I like it just as well as the original. The classic way to serve baba gannozh is with pita bread, but it also works perfectly with rice tortilla chips, rice crackers or cut-up veggies.

    Note that some people who are allergic to nuts and/or peanuts are also allergic to sunflower seeds.  Ask your allergist if you're not sure.

     1 large eggplant
     6 Tb. sunflower butter
     6 Tb. olive oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     juice of 1 lemon (See Juice in the Glossary)
     2 cloves garlic
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)

Broil or grill the eggplant on all sides until it is quite charred on the outside and soft all the way through.  Cover it with a lid, and allow it to cool for a few minutes. (Steam from inside the eggplant will help loosen the peel.) Peel the eggplant and put it into a blender. Add all the other ingredients except salt and blend thoroughly. Salt to taste.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Best Potato Salad Ever With No Eggs, No Mayo and No Dairy

     Mayonnaise is thick, gloppy stuff full of allergens and chemicals, and somehow most Americans have become convinced they can not make potato salad without great gobs of it.  Indeed, besides being really rich and containing few salad ingredients (i.e. vegetables), American potato salad generally contains a plethora of common allergens: egg, soy, corn, yeast and possibly dairy.

     I've switched over to a classic Turkish recipe, one that emphasizes the “salad” in “potato salad” rather than rich, gooey ingredients such as mayonnaise and eggs.The only switch I've made is to use lemon juice instead of the vinegar that is more commonly used to avoid the traces of yeast to be found in vinegar.

     5 lb. potatoes, boiled, thoroughly chilled, peeled and cut into 1/4” cubes
     3-4 bunches green onions, sliced thin
     leaves from 1-2 bunches of parsley, chopped (See Produce in the 
     ½ cup olive oil (See Oil in the Glossary)
     juice of 3-4 lemons (See Juice in the Glossary)
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     totally optional: sumac (See Spices in the Glossary)

     Stir together.  Salt to taste. Sprinkle with a bit of sumac both to decorate and to give a slightly tart, fruity note if you like. 

     Note:  It is important to dice the potatoes small: otherwise they won’t mingle with the dressing. To dice them small, it is crucial to allow them to chill thoroughly first, so that they reacquire a solid, uncrumbly texture.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Allergen-Free Fried Chicken

     Commercial fried chicken is awash in common allergens: it is dipped in eggs and dairy products, rolled in bread crumbs full of wheat and yeast, fried (typically) in a mixture of corn and soy oils, and exposed to traces of everything that preceded it into the fryer. The stuff is off limits for a lot of allergy sufferers. Fortunately, it is not difficult to make an excellent allergy-free version at home.

     The classic, foolproof way to bread a piece of chicken involves three steps: 1) dredge it through flour, 2) dip it in an egg wash, and 3) coat it with bread crumbs. The flour sticks to the wet chicken, the egg wash sticks to the dry flour, and the bread crumbs stick to the wet egg wash. 

     The egg wash can be thought of as an edible glue: it sticks to both the flour coating and the bread crumbs, holding the whole thing together.

     To reconstruct breaded chicken, we need to follow, scrupulously, the two basic principles of breading chicken: 1)  we need to use three layers (dry-wet-dry), and 2) the middle layer has to function as glue. As long as these principles are met, we are free to swap out ingredients. I use tapioca flour for the first layer, but arrowroot works too. Flaxseed has gluey tendencies, and I rely on it for the second layer: the egg wash substitute is simply flaxseed meal and water.  The "bread crumbs" are based on unsweetened cereal to which you are not allergic. Note that the waxy coating on the bags most cereal comes in contain corn, soy or dairy derivatives..

     tapioca flour
     flaxseed meal 
     Unsweetened cereal (See Bread Crumbs in the Glossary)
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     black pepper (See Spices in the Glossary)
     thyme (See Spices in the Glossary) 
     oil (See Oil in the Glossary)

     Set up your chicken-breading assembly line:

     The flaxseed mixture is simply 1-1/2 Tb. flaxseed meal stirred into 1/2 cup of water and allowed to sit for 15 minutes. 

     To make the cereal mixture grind 2 cups of the cereal in a food-processor until you obtain the texture of bread crumbs. Stir in 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1/4 tsp. of black pepper and a sprinkle of thyme.

     Dredge each piece of chicken in tapioca flour, dip it in the flaxseed mixture, and roll it in the cereal mixture until it is thoroughly coated.  Heat some oil you are not allergic to up to a moderate temperature in a skillet, place the chicken pieces in the skillet and cook until nicely browned on the bottom.  Flip and cook the other side. The best temperature will depend partly on the size of the pieces of chicken.  You want them to turn golden brown on both sides about the same time the chicken is cooked through.