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Going Gnudi Tonight – Spinach Gnudi with Sage Butter

In Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on September 29, 2013 at 11:48 am

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Going Gnudi today.

What is Gnudi?

Gnudi (yep…pronounced “Nudie”…see why I love this already?) is ricotta cheese dumplings, and different from Italian Gnocchi (pronounced ‘Neeyoh-kee’), which is a type of delicious potato pasta that takes more time, kneading, and work.

With the brilliant sunshine this morning and cooler fall air, I actually woke up thinking about Gnudi today. Terrible.

I’m going to go with it! I say tonight for Sunday dinner, I’ll make Spinach Gnudi with Sage butter. For those of you who love Italian food, but don’t want it to be completely carbtastic — or for those of you who have gluten-free diets — this is a great meal. For GF – substitute the gluten free flour of your choice – I would think rice flour would keep the flavors clean. I’m willing to bet Gnudi is kid-friendly too and you can sneak a good amount of veggies in it.

Once I get the hang of this recipe, I’ll continue to mix it up later by making butternut squash or pumpkin versions!

Here are some great links and blogs for Spinach Gnudi with Sage Butter:
http://gabebertaccini.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-ultimate-gnudi/

http://www.bellalimento.com/2011/04/18/gnudi-spinach-and-ricotta-gnudi/
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Photo and Recipe Credit: Chef Bertaccini’s Blog, The Art of Italian Dining
http://gabebertaccini.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/the-ultimate-gnudi/

Recipe Credit
http://www.bellalimento.com/2011/04/18/gnudi-spinach-and-ricotta-gnudi/

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Juicy. Spicy. Delectible. No-Dredge Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

In Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on September 29, 2013 at 11:35 am

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MMmmmmmmMMMMmmmmm!For fried chicken that is flavorful throughout and brings you to your knees with its juiciness, I’ve taken a tip from Chef Todd Richards from The Shed at Glenwood, who actually marinates his chicken for 4 days! Other than the 4 day marination, this chicken was pretty low maintenance!My marinating liquid consisted of: 2% buttermilk, garlic powder, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, thyme, cumin, Garam Masala, ginger (and maybe some onion powder?). Fresh ginger, fresh onion, and fresh garlic paste would be even more awesome, if you can manage that. Mix enough buttermilk and spices to cover most of your chicken pieces in a big bowl and cover it with Saran Wrap and keep in the fridge between 1-4 days. Any less than a day and you risk having zero flavor in the chicken. The 4 day mark? The chicken tastes sublime.

I don’t actually like super coated chicken where you you don’t even really taste the chicken or worse, gummy chewy over-breading that doesn’t fry up properly, so I actually added about a teaspoon worth of tapioca starch (you can use cornstarch) with my cup of flour for breading the chicken. This creates a light, crispy, airy crunch. You can try another kind of base flour for gluten-free fried chicken – I like working with rice flour, but for this recipe, I think even nuttier flours or even chickpea flour would be wonderful.

I also added seasonings like smoked Spanish Paprika, kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and some curry powder to my flour too so that the batter would be tasty too. So, some of the deep coloring you see in the picture are probably attributed to the spices, as well as the frying. In this picture, I only fried up chicken thighs and legs.

You already know I just like to eat and hate extensive, longass prep, cooking, blah, blah, blahhhhh. I’m a lazy cook I actually skipped the flouring, egging, flour-dredging step and just put my already marinated in buttermilk chicken into a ziplock bag with my flour mixture and just did a quick bag shake, and with some tongs, tapped the excess off into the bag and put the chicken into my hot cast iron pan filled with oil. I had heated up enough oil to reach about 1/3 up to the chicken, to a little over medium heat. The chicken was fried roughly 10-12 minutes per side. After it was done, I transferred to a metal rack and let the chicken rest and drain for a bit and then plated.

Best part? Bag of flour tossed without any gross gummy stuff to clean up. More chicken crunchy crispy deliciousness, less mess!

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Do-it-Yourself – Sop-worthy Garlicky Mussels

In Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on September 29, 2013 at 11:17 am

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This is a great video and recipe on making basic Garlic-White-Wine Mussels at home. Honestly, now that I’ve made it at home, I’m not going to bother ever ordering this at a restaurant. It’s THAT good. With Prince Edward Island Mussels at barely $3/pound at the Farmers Market, I can make as much garlicky savory musselly goodness to my heart’s desire, and henceforth…I’m not spending the $20 and upwards for this dish at a restaurant! Such a sense of freedom! Also, this dish looks pretty impressive on the table and whoever you’re serving it to will feel mighty special.

I used fresh tarragon, basil, and some parsley straight from my garden, as well as garlic and shallots. You can also use red onions instead of shallots for wonderful flavor.

Silly me, I ran out of butter recently and forgot to pick some up, so I used extra virgin olive oil instead; additionally, I used some grated Gruyere that I had from a previous experiment (the Gruyere Apple Pie!), and that turned out fine and added the flavor and thickness to the sauce that is totally soppable with crusty bread. I also added half a lemon’s worth of juice for a bit of bright flavor, but that’s optional. For variation, you can use chopped fresh tomatoes instead for a rich tomato sauce.

Enjoy!

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*Word of advice about mussels – don’t eat any of them that are still closed after cooking. Before cooking, mussels are usually closed but sometimes become open. I usually do a tap test even before I cook mussels to make sure they’re still alive – if open-shelled, I tap on their shell and they will slowly close their shell if alive (they’re just being lazy) and if it never closes, I toss them out. And once again, upon cooking, if the shell is fully closed, discard it and don’t eat it.

For faster cleanup and a sanitary kitchen, bag up the shells and throw it out to your main garbage can or dumpster immediately. Don’t bother keeping seafood related stuff in your kitchen and waking up to lovely scents of fragrant old shellfish.

http://www.thesavory.com/food/quick-and-easy-mussels-white-wine.html

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Brunch and Dinner-worthy: Zucchini Pancakes

In Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on August 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

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These zucchini pancakes were RIDICULOUSLY easy to make and were gobbled up immediately.

These aren’t sweet pancakes, nor do they have any flour – these are probably more like how hashbrowns or potato latkes are made. So maybe they’re more skillet cakes and not pancakes? I digress…

I didn’t bother looking up a recipe and poked around the kitchen and made stuff up as I went along. It turned out great. I used zucchini and chives I had from my garden.

I used a box grater to grate the zucchini into a bowl, skin on. I have a KitchenAid box grater, which is sturdy and doesn’t pop in and out like some flimsy graters do, and has an ergonomic handle. The prep time was next to nothing, but cooking time is a bit longer to help solidify the cakes.

Then as followed:

– Season the grated zucchini with kosher salt and cracked pepper, added some garlic powder too (but you can use fresh garlic, I was just lazy). Drizzle a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil into this grated zucchini bowl.

– I chopped some banana peppers I had from the garden just to add some flavor and get some more body to the cakes, but it didn’t add any heat, you can add any kind of peppers or omit. Same with onions. I didn’t add any out of laziness, but you can.

– Whisk one egg in another bowl. Add kosher salt to the egg mixture and drizzle a little bit of olive oil into the egg. Pour this egg mixture into your grated zucchini bowl.

The olive oil was added so that the mixtures don’t burn.

– Heat some vegetable oil and a bit of butter (or just use butter) in a skillet to medium heat. I used a small cast iron pan, but you can use a non-stick or stainless steel pan. Spoon in the zucchini mixture into the skillet. I made mine about 3 inches wide or less so that the shape would maintain and I could flip the cakes easily. Leave some room in between zucchini mixture mounds.

– Keep zucchini mixture on the skillet at medium heat and use a spatula to push the sides in to keep a round shape. Don’t move or flip the zucchini cake. You’ll notice that zucchini releases a lot of water and steam, so this is normal. You’ll need to keep the zucchini cakes on the skillet until most of this water is evaporated.

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– Press down the cake with a spatula after about 3 minutes to get the cake cooked throughout. By about 5 minutes or so, the cake should be able to move without turning into a big mess (similar to how buttermilk pancakes need some time to cook on one side before being flipped). Flip the cakes and let it do its thing for another 5 minutes until golden brown or darker.

– Plate and top with goat cheese (or other favorite cheese), chives, and if you wish, bacon crumbles.

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Enjoy!

New Piemaker in Town – Pie Local! (Atlanta, GA)

In Awesome People, Chefs on July 7, 2013 at 4:17 pm
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Peach Blueberry Pie from Pie Local in Atlanta, GA

Like me, this pie is DEFINITELY smiling.

I bought this cutie from the The Grant Park Farmers Market from a new piemaker in town, appropriately named Pie Local – since the man who bakes these lovely pies uses local fresh ingredients. The piemaker is a young man who lives north of Atlanta, so you can definitely catch him at various farmers’ market events like the Sandy Springs Farmers Market, Harry’s Farmers Market in Alpharetta, and a few other places.

You really can’t help but love piemakers. I mean…they deliver such sweet happiness. It’s why you had to love the main character, Ned, a cute-as-a-button piemaker and owner of his diner “The Pie Hole,” from the short-lived show, “Pushing Daisies.” Between that show and the great movie “The Waitress,” I’ve also had moments where I just NEEDED to learn how to bake some pie. Pie is so damn emotional.

Screw cupcakes. They’re so non-committal. Short-lived sweet flings at best with their inviting fluffy icing and just enough airy cakiness that you’re left feeling like you just got your initial hopes (and your blood sugar) too high, without eventual satisfaction.

Pies? Never. Pies have depth. Pies have SUBSTANCE. Pies take time,…like anything starting with love does.

I’m really freaking passionate about pie, if you can’t tell.

In the world of pies and pastries, this is the only instance in the social world where calling something ‘flaky’ is actually a *good* thing.

I digress as usual. I was too late arriving at the Grant Park Farmers Market today, so I didn’t get a chance to try some of his other enticing fruit-stuffed pies like Strawberry Rhubard, Caramel Apple, or his signature “Berry Seinfeld” pie, but I did manage to buy the last lone pie, a Peach Blueberry one, that is glistening with sugar crystals, and as you can see, is totally happy to come home with me.

I will likely be ogling this pie grinning and flirting with me all afternoon before I attack it. I can tell that Pie Local is going to be a new summer love for me.

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Givin’ Your Liver Some Love – Detoxifying With Foods

In Healing Foods on July 1, 2013 at 11:29 pm
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Thinking of some of my friends who may partake in a lot of drinkypoos sometimes or eat a lot of processed food without much fruits and veggies. And yes, that sugar-rich Starbucks habit does not help.

Show your liver some love! The liver is one of the main body’s filtration systems (other than kidneys) and also breaks down excess chemical compounds like excess hormones and even xenoestrogenic compounds from the environment (pesticides, chemicals, pollutants, toxins, preservatives, healthcare product additives, etc). If your liver gets nice and choked up, it actually backs up and causes problems in your body, including something simple like hormonal problems that lead to weight gain, insulin resistance/blood sugar problems, polycystic ovaries, skin problems, and the list goes on. And once you have the above problems, it can snowball into diabetes, fertility problems, and other things.

Some great foods that clean out your liver are fiber-rich foods and dark leafy greens, and green tea is awesome at detoxing. Vitamin C is also pretty detoxifying. There are others mentioned here:

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/foods-that-detox-the-body/

If you’d like to read more, one of my favorite books on my shelf is Maggie Pannell’s “The Detox Health-Plan” cookbook. I haven’t actually done any rigorous detoxes, but the recipes shown in this book are delicious, nutritious, and restorative. I absolutely love it. 🙂

http://www.amazon.com/The-Detox-Health-Plan-Cookbook/dp/B004TMPLHW

Garden Squash and Green Tomato Bake

In Do-it-Yourself on June 16, 2013 at 9:50 pm

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For tonight’s dinner, I made a veggie side dish using a beautiful yellow squash, a green tomato, a few grape tomatoes, and herbs straight from my garden!

I sliced the squash and veggie into discs and chopped up the herbs (I had basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme, flat-leaf parsley, and small chives in my garden so I just picked up a few sprigs each), and preheated my oven to approximately 325, but I think 350 degrees F would be fine.

In another small bowl, I crumbled up some crackers and heel-ends of bread. In a shallow baking pan, I placed a layer of crumbs down and a layer of veggie disks. I then seasoned disks with kosher salt, pepper, and sprinkled with garlic powder (you can use fresh chopped garlic if you’d like), and some of the chopped herbs. Some olive oil was drizzled after arranging a layer.

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I had a big block of aged Vermont white cheddar, so I shaved some of the cheese and placed it on the disks as well. I kept alternating layers of squash disks, herbs, crumbs, cheese, and tomato disks, crumbs, cheese and drizzling olive oil until finished and put the few ripe grape tomatoes I had on top. I placed my baking dish into the oven for about 25 minutes. The cheese had bubbled up.

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Without the standard butter and milk (extra fat and sometimes squishy gloppiness) that casseroles usually have, I could still taste the squash and the sweet-tart flavor of green tomatoes, yet they still had some bite to it; the herbs and bit of cheese just brought out the flavors. I will definitely make this again!

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Make this Gorgeous, Easy, and Light Soup: White Turnip Soup

In Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on June 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

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This gorgeous and nutrient-packed White Turnip Soup was shared by my long-time pal, KC Scott, who formerly worked as a chef at the Ritz Carlton. Her 8-year-old daughter dubbed this Turnip Soup “divine.”

A lot of small, white turnips with full greens are available in supermarkets and farmers markets right now, but you can also make this soup out of leeks.

 

White Turnips with Greens

White Turnips with Greens

White Turnip Soup

Chop up some onions, shallots and garlic and sautee in either butter or olive oil (or use a combination of 1/2 butter and 1/2 olive oil).

She then whisked some chicken stock together (4-6 cups) using Better than Bouillon brand with water, but you can use other kind of pre-made chicken stock, and small-diced white turnips. Simmer this mixture for 8 minutes then add the julienned turnip greens for a quick minute or two.

If using chicken stock (and/or the butter) that already has sodium/salt in it, this recipe may not need any additional salt to season, but if using low-sodium, sodium-free stock, or unsalted butter, you can add some kosher or sea salt to taste. Use gluten-free stock or homemade stock, if you have gluten intolerance, or replace with vegetable stock if you’re vegetarian/vegan.

This soup can be paired with some crusty baguettes and cheese, Bruschetta, crudites, or anything else you’d like on the side.

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Image Credit (Soup): KC Scott
Image Credit (Turnips): Only Foods.net

Great Summer Meals: Vietnamese Spring Rolls

In Do-it-Yourself, Gluten Free on June 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm

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With the summer heat already in the south and soon coming in other areas, afriend of mine was asking about light, easy to make meals that aren’t too heavy or heat up the kitchen a lot.

Vietnamese spring rolls are some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten on a hot day. They’re fun to make with people and children tend to like them too! They’re also gluten free. You can round out the meal with lots of diced fresh fruit. You can even make a yogurt-honey dipping sauce for your fruits as well. These spring rolls make for a great picnic meal as well.

This comprehensive video shows step by step how to prepare Vietnamese spring rolls and shows how to roll fresh spring rolls in 2 different ways. You can buy Vietnamese Rice Paper in any Asian grocery store – there are usually small Asian stores, if not big supermarkets in many cities.

Though pork is optional, I’ve made these spring rolls with shrimp and/or with grilled fish before too, it’s delicious! You can also add Sriracha or various hot sauces to your dipping sauce. If you have wheat or gluten issues, make sure to check the label on the Hoisin sauce to make sure it’s gluten-free.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CaadFo3sw0


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Photo image credit: online image

Foodie Flick to watch: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

In Musings on June 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Jiro Dreams of SushiFoodie Flick to watch: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This is a beautiful documentary of a famous Sushi chef, Jiro Ono, who at the time of the documentary was 85 years old and a grandmaster of making sushi.

His passion for his craft and attention to detail is compared to a maestro of a symphony. Along with the the artistic cinematography of this documentary and classical melodies accompanying the film, the documentary takes you into the life of a dedicated restaurant owner in Tokyo – from choosing the best fish and seafood and partnering with great vendors, to training his sons and staff, to good ecological and sustainable business sense and practices.

The sushi featured is artwork in itself – the care put into making sushi is fully shown in footage as you immerse yourself into the components and nuances of excellent sushi. The training and philosophy has subtle Buddhist undertones that are worth taking as truisms for your own journey in life. I thoroughly loved watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix – I hope you do too!

http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Jiro_Dreams_of_Sushi/70181716?locale=en-US

photo credit: Netflix

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