Monday, February 22, 2016

Hypoallergenic Summer Squash Filling

Filling made with yellow squash

     This classic Turkish filling is usually found baked into börek (savory pastries); it is also delicious inside an omelette or sandwich. The filling itself, besides containing no common allergens, yeast or corn, is easy to make and qualifies as vegan.  If you haven't got a variety of pastry, bread or egg you can safely eat, try this filling in stuffed mushrooms, in rice tortilla wraps or on rice cracker canapés. 

     1 c. grated yellow squash or zucchini
     2 green onions, sliced
     1 Tb. olive oil, or other oil to which you are not allergic (See Oil in the 
     1/2 tsp. dry dill weed (See Spices in the Glossaryor 1/2 Tb. chopped 
          fresh dill weed (See Produce in the Glossary)
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)

     Heat the oil in a pan.  Add the grated squash, onions, dill weed and a sprinkle of salt and cook on medium heat for a few minutes, just until the vegetables are somewhat wilted and have lost their excess moisture. Do not brown.  Adjust salt to taste.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Smooth, Creamy Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Without Dairy, Eggs, Gluten, Corn or Soy

     There are many more choices of nondairy ice cream than there used to be. Unfortunately, some of them aren't as "creamy" as one would like, and if you have enough other food allergies, you may have few flavors available to you.  

     Choosing regular canned coconut milk (which is pretty rich), using rice syrup for some of the sweetening, and using tapioca flour to thicken the mixture to something like a custard before freezing it in an ice cream maker give this ice cream a conventionally soft, creamy texture.

     1 can (~14 oz.) coconut milk (See Coconut and Milk in the Glossary)
     1-1/2 c. sugar (See Sugar in the Glossary)
     *1/2 c. rice syrup
     1/3 c. tapioca flour
     1/2 tsp. cinnamon (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1/4 tsp. ginger (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1/4 tsp. nutmeg (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1/2 tsp. salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     2 c. pureed, roasted pumpkin (See Pumpkin, roasted and pureed, in the 

     Stir together the coconut milk, sugar, rice syrup, tapioca flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a medium pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens.  Stir in the pumpkin.  Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream maker. 

*Note that some rice syrup is not gluten-free, as the processing involves enzymes which may have been derived from barley. Watch for gluten-free syrup if this is an issue.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Perfect Fried Mushrooms, Without Butter

     Fried mushrooms should be slightly browned (not overcooked or mushy), and they should still have all their juice.  Mushrooms being rather porous, there are a variety of ways to miss this target.

     The first step you need to get right is cleaning the mushrooms.  Certain purists will insist mushrooms should not be washed, merely wiped off ("polished"), so that they will not become waterlogged.  There is a point to this, but it seems like a lot of time to spend prepping mushrooms that are presumably not that clean when you get done. While soaking mushrooms is a really bad idea, they don't really pick up so much water if you wash them one by one under a tap. Afterward you can spread them out on paper towels and let them sit for a few minutes to dry off.

     3 Tb. oil (See Oil in the 
     1/2 lb. mushrooms
     (optional) 2 green onions, 
         sliced fine
     salt (See Salt in the 
     black pepper (See Spices 
          in the Glossary)

     Mushrooms can be halved or quartered if they're small; slicing is always fine.

     It is essential to use really hot oil, so use an oil that can stand high heat (and to which you are not allergic, of course). I like safflower oil for the purpose.

     The conventional technique for making sure the oil is hot enough is to use about half butter: when the butter starts foaming, the oil is hot enough.  You really don't need dairy products to get your oil hot though.

     Put the oil in a sufficiently large skillet that the mushrooms will not be crowded. If you want to fry a lot of mushrooms, do them in batches. 

Seriously, don't crowd the mushrooms in the pan. Also, don't be
alarmed when the oil all disappears at first.
     Turn the heat to medium high and add one mushroom slice to the skillet.  Do not throw the rest of the mushrooms in as soon as it starts to sizzle: patience is required here.  Wait until it browns slightly on one side, turn it over, and let the other side brown too.  Now dredge it out and throw in the rest of the mushrooms. Stir rapidly at first so that the oil coats the mushrooms more or less evenly.  Do not be alarmed that the mushrooms immediately soak up all the oil.  Do not add more oil. Gently stir the mushrooms around the skillet until the oil comes back out to the surface of the mushrooms and fries them.  When they are slightly browned and just about done, add the onions (if you're going to) and let the onions cook for a minute or two, until they are softened up a bit.

     Add salt and black pepper to taste. Note that if you add the salt while the mushrooms are cooking their juices will run out in the pan: the mushrooms will then boil instead of frying.

Variations: Try garlic scapes, garlic greens, or chives in place of the onions.