Sorry for the radio silence. The Internet and phone have been down at my house for 3 days*. I finally figured out how to get online on my phone (I had to turn off the wifi) at home so I can now connect with the outer-world again. That said, I’m writing this blog post on my phone so I will just give you a sneak peek and fill in the details once I’m fully online again.
* Dear Comcast, you are NOT my friend. I do not like you. And no, I won’t go unplug my modem and hit the reset button for the umpteenth time. Send a technician. That is all.
Duende in Oakland
Last night we went with some friends to Duende in Oakland for a lovely adult night out. Duende is Spanish/Basque and headed by Paul Canales. It’s a great spot and we thoroughly enjoyed the food, wine, & company.
I think, too, that I FINALLY figured out what to say to servers to explain my dining restrictions to them: “I cannot eat any gluten – it is not a diet thing, but a severe medical condition”. This simple sentence avoids the words celiac, gluten-intolerant, and allergy and was very effective and to the point. Try it sometime.
Sorry I forgot to photograph the rabbit/dungeness crab sausage I had. It was served over sliced heirloom tomatoes, steamed romano beans, and a subtle mustard sauce. My husband had goat meatballs that looked amazing, but were not GF.
Anyway, Duende has a great cocktail program. I had a variation on a Pimm’s cup. It was a little sweet for me, but delicious nonetheless:
Ack! I so fell off the blog bandwagon. Sorry.
Let’s test my memory, shall we?
Grilled organic/grass fed onglet steak, grilled asparagus with lemon, sliced heirloom tomatoes, and arugula tossed with olive oil, lemon, and kosher salt.
4th of July:
Dinner at Heather’s with a group of lovely people. She made the best salmon I have ever had. I think preparing it involved a magic wand. Sides were various salads brought by the guests. I brought a salad that consisted of Trader Joe’s power greens (baby kale, arugula, & chard), nicoise olives, cubed organic peaches (both white and yellow), sliced bresaola, and a shallot/balsamic vinaigrette. Here is the salmon. Her kids named him Charlie.
I’d tell you more about the other salads, but Heather’s husband makes very strong margaritas and I don’t remember much.
Some friends came for dinner and I repeated the Gluten Free bahn mi. (One thing you’ll find about me is that I get on a kick and will make something over and over until we are all tired of it. Apologies in advance.) This time, for the side, I made a KILLER recipe out of Gwyneth*’s new cook book (Lee’s Chopped Vietnamese Salad – page 58). It had napa cabbage, chopped baby bok choy, cucumbers, carrots, herbs, peanuts, thai chili, and a lime juice/shallot/honey/garlic dressing. I will probably make this again and again and again. Again, apologies for the repetition.
Heather’s Birthay! (Happy birthday BFF!!) We went to dinner at a new place in downtown Oakland with our dear friends Emma & Michael and Jon & Cathy. The jury is still out on what we thought of the restaurant – it was very meat heavy, but they were SUPER helpful with determining what had gluten in it and what didn’t. We shared many dishes and they were good, if not a little forgettable. Emma, what did you think? The below was NOT gluten-free, but according to everyone at the table quite delicious. Goat cheese toast, grilled sweet corn, cherry tomatoes. I plan to make my own GF version of this dish soon.
Heather & Sam (and the girls) came over so we could have a “board meeting”. I attempted to make my signature dish from my college years. Ceviche. It’s modeled after the ceviche I enjoyed in Ecuador (which is in a ketchup based sauce) with modern California additions. It’s a complete bastardization and was pretty, but not quite as tasty as I wanted it to be. I’ll keep working on it and get back to y’all with the recipe once I’ve figured it out.
This day we took the boys and one of our dogs to the beach to play for the day. It was supposed to be 97 at the beach, but ended up being only 62. We froze our buns off, but had so much fun. Dinner was a stop at Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes Station. I had a bun-less goat burger (they keep the buns and the meat separate on the grill and don’t use the same spatula – they really knew the drill!) topped with chevre and sauteed shiitake mushrooms. It was outstanding – especially with the Sean Thackery Pleiades wine. Highly recommended.
Phew! I think I’m caught up now. I’ll try to be better about keeping up!
* Dear Gwyneth,
I’m sorry I was ranting about you the other day. I really love your new cookbook and would love to come over and cook/eat with you anytime. Drop me a line……
Gluten Free Bánh Mì
Bánh Mì with Caramelized Pork + Pickled Carrots
Since I asked the summer rolls to bring the summer weather with them and they complied, I figured I should honor them by making their brethren, bánh mì. Fully appreciating the gorgeous summer weather, we ate dinner in the back yard with a salad of lettuce, mint & cucumbers ans some of the prettiest heirloom tomatoes we’ve seen so far this year. It was a magical evening full of summer happiness and celebration for, as Obama put it, the “victory for American democracy”.
On to the recipes: don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. It really comes together very quickly (like, say in the time it takes for both of your kids to practice the piano and your husband to change his clothes after work and light the grill). If you pull everything out of your fridge/pantry and have it at your fingertips, this is a 30 minute meal. You could even make life easier on yourself by making the marinade in the morning or the night before if you were a real go getter like that.
Bánh Mì with Caramelized Pork + Pickled Carrots
- 1-1.5 pound pork tenderloin
- 3 tablespoons Fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons tamari (aka: gluten free soy sauce)
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 inch piece ginger, peeled & minced
- 1 green onion, sliced thinly
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used rice bran oil)
- GF hot dog buns (I used THESE – I think that Udi’s GF hot dog buns are grosser than gross)
- red leaf lettuce
- pickled carrot and radishes (see recipe below)
- sliced jalapeno chili peppers
- mayonnaise (I used kewpie which is the mayonnaise that made me like mayonnaise)
- Cut tenderloin across the grain of the meat into ½ inch pieces. Flatten each piece to an even ¼ inch between two pieces of saran wrap using a meat pounder, rolling pin, or large bottle.
- Mix ingredients from fish sauce to red pepper flakes. Add marinade to the meat and use a large spoon to make sure all pieces of meat are coated in marinade. Marinate for 10-30 minutes.
- Slice GF hot dog buns in half and warm in the oven, toaster oven, or toaster. As with most GF breads, these buns only taste good when warmed/toasted, so don’t skip this step.
- Heat grill to high. Add vegetable oil to meat and stir to coat. Sear first side of meat until very dark brown on one side, then flip and sear on the second side. Be careful not to overcook it. The meat is thin so it cooks quickly, one or two minutes on each side.
- To assemble sandwiches, spread mayonnaise on both sides of the buns. Add lettuce, meat, pickled vegetables, cilantro and peppers. Dig in!
- 2 cups shredded carrots (I used TJ’s and tried to ignore the fact that they weren’t organic)
- 2 T kosher salt
- 2 T sugar
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- water to taste
- In a bowl, stir together the carrots, the salt and the sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes until the moisture begins to seep out from the vegetables.
- Add vinegar and water to taste. I like my pickles more vinegary, so if it’s too much for you, just add a few tablespoons of water until it’s the right amount of acid for you.
Inspired by the rainy weather and wishing for the sun
Yesterdays’s weather was like the weather of my childhood in the Willamette Valley: dark, drizzly, and windy. It made me want soup and sun. Luckily, I had some chicken stock boiling away on the stove, some cilantro & basil in the fridge, and some star anise in the drawer. Pho night was born!
And while I was rummaging around in the cabinet looking for the rice stick noodles, I came across spring roll skins hiding in the back of the cabinet and summer rolls walked into our dinner. Please summer rolls, bring the summer weather with you!
Recipe for Pho Ga (chicken Pho)
1 lb dried rice noodles
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts chicken stock (store bought or homemade)
1 whole chicken breast
1 3-inch chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 cups bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
fresh cilantro tops & thai basil leaves
1/2 cup shaved red onions
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
sriracha chili sauce
sliced fresh chili peppers
To make the broth, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves, and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately remove from pan to avoid burning.
In a large pot, add spices, chicken stock, chicken breast, onion, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat, discarding the bone (if you used a bone-in breast).
Taste broth and add more fish sauce or sugar if necessary. Strain the broth and discard solids.
Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
Ladle the broth into bowls. Divide the shredding chicken breast and noodles evenly into each bowl. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, red onion, and other accompaniments as desired and enjoy.
ps- for those following this blog – no angry rash from the nuggets of potato happiness yet… nor from the PF changs experience. Happiness abounding!
No surprises here
I made nearly the same thing as Heather last night. Oven roasted chicken with lemon, artichokes & capers (see recipe below), arugula salad, and an indulgence (which I will discuss later). And, just as heather’s chicken carcass is boiling away to make soup, mine is doing the same. 🙂 Not sure yet if it’s going to turn into hot & sour soup again, italian wedding soup (assuming I have time to whip up some GF meatballs), or “clean out the fridge soup” which will have balela and bora’s chicken in it. I need a better name for “clean out the fridge soup”. Any suggestions?
Okay, here’s what I made last night…
Best Ever Roast Chicken
A recipe inspired by Traci des Jardins (Here is the original – mine is greatly simplified). I had never had success with roasting chickens until this recipe. The high temperature and short cooking time really add up to simple success. You can experiment with herbs – I’ve tried everything from basil to pimenton, jerk seasoning to za’atar. All delicious. When I’m in the mood for simple & easy, however, this is what I do:
- 1 organic, free range, air-chilled (if possible) chicken
- 1 large lemon, holes poked into it all over with a fork
- Salt & pepper
- Roastable veggies of your choice (I used one bag of TJ’s frozen artichoke hearts and 3T capers. I’ve done parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts, cauliflower – all delicious).
Preheat oven to 450°. Liberally (and I mean liberally) salt entire chicken inside & out.
Zest half of the lemon, then put the entire tortured lemon inside cavity.
Place chicken in 9×13 roasting pan breast side down. Pepper top of chicken and sprinkle lemon zest on top.
Spread veggies around chicken in pan.
Roast at 450 for approximately 60 minutes until internal temperature is 165°. When the chicken is done, all of the juices coming from the cavity should be clear. Remove the lemon from the cavity and squeeze the juice over the chicken.
Sorry I forgot a before photo to show you how pretty they come out, but here is the after. If you’re thinking to yourself “weird – those lemons look pink” it’s because we used one from our front yard that produces pink flesh. Who bucks trends? This girl’s lemon tree!
So, I mentioned a little indulgence. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a thing for tater tots. I have, in the past, been mocked for this love and had my crunchy little potato friends dismissed as “white trash”, but I will not be deterred in my adoration and appreciation of the tater tot. They might not be the healthiest thing in the world, but sometimes, you just have to indulge a little. I like my tots extra crunchy (and my life extra simplified), so I tossed them in the oven (no extra oil – on parchment paper on a cookie sheet) at the same time as the chicken. Voila! Crunchy little nuggets of potato happiness. Maybe if I called them that instead of “tater tots” my closed-minded friends would open their hearts to them.
Behold: Crunchy Nuggets of Potato Happiness
ps- The trader joe’s bag said they were gluten-free. We’ll know in a day or two if my face breaks out in an angry rash that will take 6 weeks to clear up. (Celiac disease is SO much fun!). I’ve been eating (or not eating when I couldn’t guarantee my safety) pretty cleanly lately, so these babies would be the prime suspect if I get the rash. I’ll keep you posted.
REAL Bora’s Chicken
So, after I wrote about “Bora’s Chicken” the other night, I sent my friend Bora a link to the blog thanking him for introducing us to “Bora’s Chicken” which resulted in a lovely email exchange that ended with us spending a magical Saturday night at their house in the wine country. The kids played in the pool, the adults drank wine, everyone ate Bora’s chicken (as well as grilled corn, grilled asparagus, grilled peppers, and a giant green salad) and were insanely happy. Thank you Bora & Yola!
First Day of Summer
To go along with this:
GREAT movie (thank you Pixar for a fun, smart movie that doesn’t rely on potty humor & words that make me cringe (stupid, sucks, hate, dumb, idiot, and others of that ilk)). Go see it. It’s a ton of fun. Not sure who laughed harder: my 7 year old, the 20 something guy sitting next to me, or me. And there was clapping. From all around the auditorium at various parts of the movie. Clapping. I love it when people clap in a movie. It’s such a pure sign of pleasure.
But now can we talk about PF Changs for a moment? As a celiac, I’ve heard again and again how great PF Changs is, but I have to say I did not feel well after eating last night. Not one bit. Perhaps it was psychosomatic as I grew worried when the food runner got confused about which dishes were supposed to go to each table on the tray he was carrying. I double and triple checked to make sure that the plates he put in front of me were gluten free, but remained fairly disquieted by his “uh, yeah… those are gluten free”. I was happy with the little packets of tamari that they brought for me instead of soy sauce (I always worry about a careless worker refilling a tamari bottle with soy sauce instead, so the packets were very reassuring) and the food tasted good for what it was (cheap, mass-produced “chinese” fare that is about a millenium away from how I normally eat (seasonal, organic, whole foods)), but will I go back? Maybe next June 21st, but probably not before that. Looks like I’m not alone in this either. *Sigh*
With a Nod the Middle East
A few years ago, we were invited over to some dear friends’ house for dinner. They’d made an incredible adult dinner, but while we drank wine and caught up (we never get to see each other as frequently as we’d like!) our friend Bora (who hails from Turkey) whipped up something quick to give the kiddos. He sliced up come skinless boneless chicken breasts, tossed the slices with olive oil and za’atar, and grilled them over a blazing hot grill (they cooked for about 1 1/2 minutes) and then he brought them in and squeezed fresh lemon juice over the chicken. While I knew his wife Yola had prepared a feast for us, I kept sneaking bites of the boys’ chicken. And Voila! “Bora’s Chicken” became a staple in our house. (See recipe below)
I served it over a simple arugula salad (tossed with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, & sea salt) and balela (thanks Trader Joes for bringing this to my world! See my recipe below) and garlic dip (I’ve got to come up with a better name – any suggestions?)
- 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
- 2 cans garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, minced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 4 T good quality olive oil
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients in bowl and let sit as long as you can. Minimum 30 minutes. Overnight would be great.
- 2 Large skinless boneless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2″ cutlets (or you can use a package of TJ’s chicken breast tenders and cut each one in half lengthwise)
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T za’atar (I make my own version (2T dried thyme, 2T sumac, 1T toasted sesame seeds, 1t kosher salt, 1t black pepper), but you can buy it in Middle Eastern grocery stores. I also saw it at my local Whole Foods.)
Heat grill to the hottest you can get it. While grill is heating up, toss chicken strips with oil and za’atar – stirring to coat the chicken. Don’t do it earlier b/c the chicken will get dried out. Not sure why – just trust me that marinating it did not help.
When grill is HOT, toss the chicken on the heat and remove when done (about 1.5 minutes). Do not over cook – the goal is to flash cook it so the moisture gets trapped inside.
Remove from grill and squeeze juice of 1/2 lemon over the chicken. Try not to eat it all before you serve it to your family.
- 1 cup Greek Yogurt (buy the thickest kind you can buy – preferably without any gums and junk added. This is my favorite – it’s even thicker than greek yogurt… almost closer to cream cheese)
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- 1 T kosher salt
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
Stir all ingredients together. Add more lemon or salt if you like it saltier or lemonier. Go ahead, I won’t mind. Heck, you could even add more yogurt or garlic if you wanted it LESS salty or lemony or more garlicy. I’m flexible about it. Make yourself happy.