Domesticity Nouveau

Monday, January 18, 2010

Soft... Warm... Doughy....

Soft. Warm. Doughy. Although these words could be used to describe my belly, they instead describe the most wonderful thing to go in my belly in quite a while.

Since going gluten free I have had to give up many foods that bring me comfort. Truth be told, many of them probably were not that good for me... in particular I'm thinking apple fritters and maple bars. Many though, were just neutral on the health scale... things like flour tortillas.... and some down right horrible, like cup noodles!

Flour tortillas are such versatile items! Burritos, quesadillas, sandwich wraps, peanut butter and banana delivery devices, Frisbee... okay, well maybe not Frisbees, although the store bought gluten free substitutes could be easily mistaken for a Frisbee. Hard, dry, brittle, chewy... yuck!

After reading several recipes, and starting to get the hang of some of the flour substitutes used in gluten free baking I ventured into the world of tortillas and I will never be the same!! If I had only known tortillas were so easy to make, I would have never bothered buying them, gluten free or regular! I have a friend whose mother makes delicious homemade tortillas, but she always seems so magical when I watch her that I never imagined my Irish hands could make such a delight. Boy howdy was I wrong!

Below is the recipe I used. It is a combination and tweaking of a couple different ones I found online and in cookbooks. For a while I have heard that weighing ingredients for baking makes a huge difference in creating a quality product, gluten free or not. One of my new cookbooks stresses this is the only way to successful baking, and the base recipe I started from was in grams, so I stuck with weighing and the results were great!

A few tricks are worth learning for this recipe. My first bit of guidance would be to take a large ziplock bag and cut it down both sides. Roll out your tortillas between the plastic layers and you will have less issue with trying to get a very thin piece of fragile dough off the counter top or baking board. Second, start to roll your tortillas by flattening the ball with the flat bottom of a cake pan or pie plate, this will at least start you closer to an actual circle. Third, have all your pieces of waxed paper cut before you begin to roll, so all you have to do is roll and stack without having to pause and possibly allow your tortillas to dry out. Fourth, If you have a Misto spray oil device, now is the time to use it. I haven't used Pam or other spray oils in so long, but I imagine they are the same in principle. Spray your pan, flop in the tortilla, spray the tortilla. Fifth, as the tortillas come off the pan, place the sheets of waxed paper back in between to keep them from sticking. Finally, keep these babies warm so they are soft, warm and doughy! I keep them in a 200 degree oven until it is time for them to be devoured.

Flourless Flour Tortillas
Makes about 12, 7"-ish tortillas

11 oz Brown Rice Flour
5 oz Potato Starch
2 oz Tapioca Flour or Corn Starch
1 TBSP Sugar
2.5 tsp Xantham Gum
1.5 tsp Sea Salt
1 to 1.5 cups water, depending on humidity
13 sheets of waxed paper
Large Ziplock bag
Spray oil

Measure all dry ingredients into a bowl. Add one cup of water and mix until dough forms, adding more water as necessary. You can do this with a KitchenAid Mixer and paddle or by hand. You are looking for the consistency of pie dough, or play-dough if you are more familiar with that.

Divide the dough into 12 equal size portions and roll into balls. (divide main ball into thirds, then divide each third in half and each half in half... isn't math fun!). Keep the dough balls covered as they wait to be rolled out.

Open your ziplock bag and lightly dust with potato flour. Place one ball in the center between the sheets. Take a pie plate or cake pan and mash the ball down to a flat circle. Using a rolling pin, roll out the tortilla very very thin (less that 1/8"). Carefully peel back the top of the ziplock and very gently remove the tortilla from the other side. Place the tortilla on a sheet of waxed paper and cover with another sheet. Repeat until all the dough has been tortilla-fied. This is the step that can take some practice... they may not be supermarket perfect, but they will taste wonderful even if they are an oval or triangle or other lopsided shape instead of a circle.

Using a frying pan or griddle over medium to medium-high heat, cook tortillas one at a time for approximately 1 minute per side. Spray the pan lightly with oil, carefully peel a tortilla off the waxed paper and flop into the pan, spray with oil around edges to help keep from drying out too quickly, turn tortilla after 1 minute and finish cooking second side. Place on a sheet of waxed paper (use the one you just had separating the uncooked tortillas). Continue cooking and stacking until you are finished. Keep warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve, or reheat if making ahead.

I haven't tried freezing these yet, but if you do, let me know how they turn out! I don't think they will ever stick around long enough for me to get them in the freezer!

Serves 3-6 depending on how hungry your belly is

1 lb of meat... thinly sliced beef or chicken, shrimp... maybe even tofu!
3 TBSP Lime juice
3 cloves Garlic, pressed
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp liquid smoke
a few dashes of Green Jalapeno Tabasco
salt & pepper

Mix the above all together and let sit in the fridge for about 4 hours, or overnight

1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1/4" - 1/2" strips
1 yellow, green or orange bell pepper, sliced into 1/4" - 1/2" strips
1/2-1 whole yellow onion, cut into 1/4" to 1/2" wedges and separated into pieces
1-2 tomatoes, cut in wedges

Heat a frying pan over high heat until a drop of water rolls around like a marble. (Do NOT use a non stick as you need to heat it to scorching hot and non-stick will release toxins anywhere above medium to medium-high) Place meat with marinade in a single layer in pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stir and cook until done, remove from pan. Add veggies and cook until starting to brown and char (you might want to add a wee bit of water to bring up the seasoning left from the meat to coat the veggies). Quickly add meat back into pan, salt & pepper to taste, stir everything together and bring to the table sizzling hot... YUM!

Serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cheese, re-fried beans and those delicious tortillas you made!

Better Re-Fried Beans

1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 TBSP finely minced jalapeno
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
optional, squirt of lime juice

In a sauce pan over medium heat, saute onion and jalapeno until soft. Add in garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in beans and season with cumin and chili powder, heat through. Mash beans until desired consistency.

Cheater Beans

1 can re-fried beans (I won't tell you didn't make them from scratch, gasp!)
1/2 TBSP dried minced onion
1 tsp Green Jalapeno Tabasco
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
optional, squirt of lime juice

In a sauce pan, over medium heat, mix everything together and heat through.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

How Sweet It Is!!!

For those of us lucky enough to have received espresso makers for Christmas (Thanks, Sis!) you might find yourself in a euphoria of bliss from the money you are able to keep in your pocket instead of the coffee shop's till.... or it might just be the caffeine and sugar high. Either way, if there is a way to somehow put a homemade twist on this experience, you know I would find it.

It's not practical to grow, process and roast my own coffee, nor would that provide any instant gratification. I don't have a cow (yet), so the discussion regarding the benefits and blessings of fresh milk will have to wait. That leaves the flavored syrups. A quick tour of the grocer's coffee aisle left me a little disappointed by both the high fructose corn syrup or artificial chemical sweeteners in the list of ingredients and the cost of over $5 a bottle for flavored sugar water. So I did what any reasonable person would do, I decided to make my own!

This has to be one of the simplest (and quickest!) things that even the most domestically challenged individual can make. I have always had a bottle of Mapleline on hand so I could make maple flavored syrup in a pinch, you know, for those 2 a.m. pancake emergencies. I figured it couldn't be any different to make other flavors of syrup for fancy schmancy coffees. A quick tour of my cupboard revealed peppermint, almond, and vanilla extracts. A quick tour of the internet revealed recipes for chocolate syrup. A few minutes in the kitchen and I had my own specialty coffee syrups for less than the cost of one bottle of fancy syrup.

Basic Recipe
2 parts sugar (white or brown)
1 part water

Stir sugar and water together in a saucepan over high heat until sugar dissolves completely and mixture becomes clear. Boil one minute and remove from heat. Allow to cool for a minute or two and stir in flavoring. Pour into a container and close with lid. This does not need to be refrigerated.

The recipes below each make approximately 8 oz of syrup:

Vanilla Syrup
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Peppermint Syrup
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp peppermint extract

Amaretto Syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp almond extract

Maple Flavored Pancake Syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp mapleline flavoring

I think you get the idea now. For a flavor I haven't listed, start with about 1/2 tsp extract and work your way up until you get the desired strength. I'm trying coconut next so I can make an almond joy mocha!

Chocolate Syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a dry saucepan, mix sugar and cocoa powder until combined. Add salt and water. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour into container and close with lid. Store in the refrigerator.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Laziness Can Be a Blessing

Most of my inspiration comes from not wanting to be bothered with getting dressed to make a trip to the store for a missing pantry item. I know that sounds lazy, but it is also about not having to deal with traffic lights and traffic, parking spots and other shoppers, standing in line and spending more for a convenience item that I know is just a few basic ingredients ingeniously packaged together as a magical taste creation. It's a matter of working smarter, not harder; valuing time and money... but some might call that lazy.

Somehow today I got it in my mind that I needed to make buffalo chicken dip (recipe below), and that required ranch dressing, which I didn't have. So as usual, I figured it out on my own. I read through several recipes on-line, discovered the similarities, pondered the flavors and got to work. Below is my rendition of ranch dressing, followed by a recipe for taco seasoning. When you consider the cost of those little packets of seasoning at the market, it's worth the 3 minutes it takes to make your own.... plus you know what is in it.

Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup milk

1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/2 to 1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Mix milk and lemon juice together and set aside. This is a basic buttermilk substitute, of course you can substitute an actual 1/2 cup of buttermilk for the buttermilk substitute.

In a bowl mix together all the ingredients from the minced onion through the black pepper. Whisk in sour cream and mayonnaise. Add buttermilk until desired consistency. Let chill in the fridge for an hour or more to let the flavors meld together. If you are impatient, you can use it right away... it just gets better with a little bit of time to rest.

You can make this as full fat or non-fat as you like by using skim milk, fat free mayonnaise and fat free sour cream or the full fat equivalents or anywhere in between.

For ranch dip, omit milk, lemon juice, & mayonnaise. Increase sour cream to 2 cups/1 pint.

Taco Seasoning

1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp Chili Powder

1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp beef bouillon (optional, but it does make it better)
3 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Paprika
1/2 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Corn Starch

Mix all together in a jar and store until ready to use.

To use, mix 3 Tbsp with 1 pound of ground meat, add 1/2 cup of water and simmer until most of the water is gone.

Buy your spices in bulk to make this a cost effective alternative to those overpriced envelopes.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

8 oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup of Cholula Hot Sauce or buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup of ranch dressing
1/2 cup of Velveeta
2 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey, or 2 cans drained
a pinch of cayenne if you want more kick
corn chips
cut veggies such as carrots and celery

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl whip room temperature cream cheese until light and fluffy with an electric mixer, or use the paddle attachment on a KitchenAid mixer. Break velveeta into small pieces and whip into cream cheese until combined. Slowly mix in Cholula and ranch dressing to avoid splatters. Add chicken and whip everything until light and fluffy. Place in an 8x8 baking dish or a pie plate and bake for about 20-25 minutes, stirring once. Serve hot with corn chips and veggies.