Saturday, March 26, 2016

Un-corned Beef Brisket and Cabbage


     Mmm, corned beef and cabbage on St. Pat's.  But what if you can't find any corned beef that doesn't contain dextrose or other corn products? You could 
make your own, but that would involve a lot of patience and adding preservatives.

      By simply brining and seasoning well with pickling spices, though, you can produce a melt-in-the-mouth tender brisket with all the right flavors. Feel free to adjust the pickling spice mixture according to your own tastes or what spices you have in your spice rack.  Leaving out any couple of spices won't make much difference.

     2-3 pound beef brisket
     salt  (See Salt in the Glossary)
     oil  (See Oil in the Glossary)

     One batch of pickling spice mixture (you will need 2 batches):
          1 cinnamon stick
          1 tsp. mustard seed
          1 tsp. black peppercorns
          1 tsp. whole cloves
          1 tsp. allspice berries
          1/2 Tb. juniper berries
          2 bay leaves 
          1/2 Tb. dill seed
          1 tsp. coriander seeds
          1/2 tsp. celery seed


          1/2 cabbage

          2 onions
          a few carrots and celery stalks, washed and trimmed

     Bring 2 cups of water and 6 Tb. of salt to a boil.  Add one batch of pickling spice mixture to the brine and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Make sure all the salt dissolves.  Chill thoroughly in refrigerator; stir in 4 more cups of water. You can skip the step about chilling the brine if enough of the added water is in the form of ice. The purpose is to keep the meat at a safely low temperature.

     Put the brisket in the brine. You want it to be thoroughly covered.  If it is not, stir in a bit more cold water and salt (1 Tb. salt per cup of water added). Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Sear the brisket until it is browned
about this much.
     Take out the brisket and pat it dry.  Discard the brine.  Heat some oil to medium high in the bottom of a large pot and sear the brisket on all sides.Take out the brisket and discard the oil. Put the brisket back in and add enough water to cover. Add the remaining batch of pickling spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for at least 3 hours, until tender. 

     Cut the cabbage into wedges such that each wedge includes a bit of the stem: this will hold it together. Similarly, cut each onion in half such that each half has a bit of the stem to hold it together. Add the veggies to the pot. Adjust the salt of the cooking liquid to taste. Bring it all back up to a boil and simmer until the veggies are done, probably 15 minutes or so. 

     Slice the brisket across the grain. Serve with mustard.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hypoallergenic Lahmacun

     Lahmacun, often described as "Turkish pizza" or "Turkish burritos," is one classic Turkish food that requires very little adjustment to be made free of major allergens.  Usually it has a very flexible crust made of a thin layer of wheat dough. This is topped by a spicy meat mixture.  After lahmacun is baked it is sometimes garnished with roasted eggplant mixed with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice and salt, chopped parsley and green onion dusted with a bit of sumac, parsley leaves, thin-sliced tomatoes and/or a squeeze of lemon juice.  Often it is folded up and eaten like a sandwich.

     In terms of allergens, the crust is the main complication. I use a Food for Life rice tortilla, which allows me to avoid both wheat and yeast. (It does contain xanthan gum, which may have a corn-based source, and the individual tortillas are separated by sheets of paper which also may contain corn products. It does not contain corn ingredients as such, and I tolerate it well enough in spite of my allergy to corn. This is, of course, no guarantee for other corn allergy sufferers.)  Unfortunately, rice tortillas are rather dry, break easily and tend to scorch.  The solution is to wet them before they go into the oven. This sounds like an odd thing to do, but it works like a charm. 

Topping: enough for about a dozen lahmacuns
     2 Tb. oil  (See Oil in the Glossary)
     2 onions, chopped small
     1 tsp. salt  (See Salt in the Glossary)
     6 cloves garlic, minced
     2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped  
          (See Produce in the Glossary)
     1 tsp. red pepper for a slight amount of heat; 1 tsp. paprika for mild 
           lahmacun (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1 tsp. black pepper (See Spices in the Glossary)
     1 c. firmly packed mint leaves, chopped fine (See Produce in the 
     1 c. firmly packed parsley leaves, chopped fine (See Produce in the 
     1 lb. ground beef and/or lamb

Rice tortillas 

      Place a cooky sheet in the middle of your oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

     Heat the oil on medium heat; add the onions and saute gently until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, taking care not to brown either the onions or the garlic. Set aside to cool while you measure all the other ingredients into a medium bowl. Add the onions and thoroughly knead the mixture together. 

     For each lahmacun: Thoroughly wet one rice tortilla and shake off the excess moisture. Scoop topping mixture onto the tortilla and spread it evenly (about 1/3 c. of topping mixture for a 9-inch tortilla). Take the cooky sheet out of the oven; depending on your cooky sheet, you may need to grease it lightly. Immediately transfer the lahmacun to the cooky sheet and put it back in the oven. Bake until the meat is cooked, about 8 minutes. 

     Alternatively, you can cook a lahmacun on top of a preheated griddle (350 F or so).

Raw                                                            Cooked                                                                  Rolled up

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Dairy-Free Carrot Garnishes

Garnish 1

     Cooked carrots got a bad reputation back when most Americans followed the identical recipe (slice, boil until mushy, float in white sauce).  Besides being off limits for anyone allergic to dairy, these carrots were bland

     This is a shame.  Carrots can be a beautiful orange garnish on a plate, and there are a variety of seasonings that work well with them (ginger, garlic, coriander, cilantro, parsley...) They can even be creamy without dairy products: carrots are starchy enough for making a thick, creamy dressing in a blender.

     1/4 c. oil (See Oil in the 
     1 lb. carrots, washed, 
          trimmed and grated
     salt (See Salt in the 
     3 T. freshly squeezed lime 
          juice (See Juice in the 
     1/4 c. water
     3 Tb. olive oil (See Oil in 
          the  Glossary)
     2-3 cloves of garlic, 
          peeled and crushed
     1/2 Tb. whole coriander

     Heat the oil in a skillet; add the carrots and 1/2 tsp. of salt.  Saute gently, stirring constantly, just until the carrots soften up a bit.  This should not take more than a few minutes.

     Measure a half cupful of the cooked carrots into a blender and add the remaining ingredients.  Blend thoroughly.  

    Stir the dressing into the rest of the carrots. Adjust salt to taste. Serve warm or chilled.

These carrots are cooked enough.
Garnish 2

Carrots, coconut and turrmeric complement each other brilliantly, and the turmeric in this recipe accentuates the color of the carrots

      1/2 c. canned coconut milk (See Coconut and Milk in the Glossary)
     1 lb. washed, trimmed, grated carrots
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)
     1/2 tsp. turmeric (See Spices in the Glossary)
     2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
     Put the coconut milk, carrots,1/2 tsp. of salt and turmeric into a skillet and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, just until the carrots are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. This should only take a few minutes. Stir in the garlic and adjust salt to taste. Serve warm.