Anyone can be "the family chef". You just need good recipes and techniques! Chef Amy Fothergill shares her best recipes with you for quick and easy dishes with an emphasis on gluten-free.

Get information here about her cookbook, The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lunch is served-Chard and Quinoa Salad

As I was about to eat lunch, I had to stop and take a picture. Although I might still succumb to my processed cheese craving every once in a while, I couldn't believe this is what I was eating; chard and quinoa salad, gluten free bread with white bean dip and arugula, and organic strawberries. This was largely due to the fact that this was what was in the fridge. However, because of my new gluten free (gf) diet, this is what I had in the fridge.

One of the benefits of my gf lifestyle is that I'm eating more healthy. I created this dish as I was rushing to a pot luck. I cooked the quinoa while I prepped the chard. Once that was cooked with the onion, I added the pine nuts, raisins, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. In about 20 minutes I was out the door with what has now become my favorite salad/side dish/entree. I've added sunflower seeds and now toast both to give them some crunch. Instead of the raisins, you can use cranberries. One time, I even added Indian spices to the onions, like cumin, coriander and cinnamon. That was good, too.

You can make this dish ahead and serve cold or at room temp. So far, everyone has liked it, even those under 4 feet! I hope you'll give it a try, even if you're not eating gluten free. It's going in the cookbook; here's the excerpt:

Using Grains: Chard and Quinoa Salad

Serve this as a salad or side dish. It’s always delicious and super easy. My children even eat it!

About 1 cup cooked quinoa (3/4 cup quinoa to 1.5 cup water)
3 Tbl pine nuts or sunflower seeds (or both)
Olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
Ground pepper
1 head of chard, chopped with stems, placed in a large bowl of water to remove dirt.
1/4 Raisins
1 Tbl good quality olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle of agave nectar or honey

1. Prepare quinoa. See tip below.
2. In a non-stick skillet, toast nuts and/or sunflower seeds until golden brown. Remove from pan. If you don’t have time, add the pine nuts untoasted.
3. Heat large saute pan to medium. Add olive oil and cook onions with some ground pepper.
4. Remove chard from bowl, putting your hands into the water and scooping out the chard. If you pour the water out, the dirt will remain. Cook chard with onion, uncovered until softened.
5. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve room temp or cold.

How to Cook Quinoa

Rinse quinoa under water (unless it’s pre-rinsed; this removes the natural soapy residue it has). Place quinoa in a pot with twice as much water, for example, 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of water. Add a pinch or two of salt. Bring this up to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer for 12-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.

About Quinoa (Keen-wah)

Quinoa has become quite popular in the last few years. Although it’s actually a seed (picture a sunflower), it’s properties are more like a grain which is why it’s referred to as one.

Quinoa comes from South America and has been called a super grain because of the nutritional value it holds. Besides being high in protein, calcium and iron, quinoa also has a good amount of vitamin E and several of the B vitamins. It contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans. Why not give it a try?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Oats are the Secret to Gluten Free Italian Meatballs

I never thought I could do this without using gluten free bread but it occurred to me one day that I had made my lentil loaf with ground oats as the binder. Hello. Why not try that in a meatball? Not only is it gluten free but by using the oats, you boost the nutrition. The meatball was very tasty yet moist and tender. My mom would have been proud of me!

This is the way my mother and grandmother both made their meatballs; very authentic. If you don’t want to use veal, use all pork. You could even substitute some of the beef for Italian sausage. Look for sausage sold in bulk or take the casing off of an uncooked sausage and mix it in with the meat. Make sure to add the milk and oats a little at time to reach the right consistency.

Gluten Free* Italian Meatballs

Makes 12-14 medium or 20-25 small meatballs

3/4 lb natural, grass fed ground chuck (beef)
1/4 lb each ground pork and veal (or 1/2 pound of one)
2 eggs
1/4-1/3 c grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c chopped Italian parsley or 2 Tbl dry
1 tsp minced garlic or ½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3/4 c milk
1 c gluten free oats, ground in a processor or blender OR dried breadcrumbs if you're not gluten free

*Make sure to check all ingredients to ensure they are gluten free before you use them.

1. Mix eggs and seasonings with a fork or whisk and then add meat. Add half of the milk and oats. Keep mixing and adding until the correct texture is reached; you should be able to roll the meat into a ball but it should be “tacky”.
2. Roll meatballs that are about 1 ½ inches in diameter, about the size of a golf ball.
3. Place on a greased sheet tray and if you have time, place in the fridge for 30-60 mins. This will help the meatballs set.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn meatballs over. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown and no longer pink inside and/or 165 degrees F.
5. After meatballs are cooked, simmer in tomato sauce.

Weeknight Tomato Sauce

I ate a lot of tomato sauce growing up (although I didn't like it until I was 5 yrs old). It was a staple in our diet. Some times even I think it's hard to make or I'm maybe not in the mood. But when I taste fresh sauce, I wonder why I would eat anything else. I've learned to make a bigger recipe and freeze half of it so when I do want spaghetti, I can simply defrost my sauce in a matter of minutes.

Although you can use fresh, very ripe tomatoes, I often opt for canned because I know I'll have a consistent product. In August and September, Roma tomatoes should be ready but using fresh takes more time. Otherwise, don't be afraid to use something from the grocery store shelves; it makes this sauce easy to do even when it's a busy night. There are many good quality, domestic, canned tomatoes like Muir Glen. Try a few and see which one you like best.

Remember to keep your pantry stocked with 2 cans of whole, peeled tomatoes as well as onions, carrots and garlic. If I open a small can of tomato paste, I freeze the left overs for next time.

This recipe is right out of the upcoming cookbook. Let me know what you think.

Amy's Tomato Sauce

Think you don’t have time to make your own? This version is quick and easy and nothing short of delicious! This is how my mom taught me how to make sauce.

Makes about 3-4 qts; great for leftovers or freeze for another night. Can be halved.

1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 carrot or 2 baby carrots*, chopped
1 Tbl olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4-1/3 cup water
2 -28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes plus 1/3 can of water from each can (this gets all of the tomato out so there is hardly any waste)
1-2 Tbl tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5-8 basil leaves, 1 tsp pesto sauce, or 1 Tbl fresh parsley

*You can add other veggies to this sauce like peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, etc. to add extra flavor and a bit more nutrition

1. Sauté onions and carrots in olive oil in a large pot. Sprinkle pepper over veggies while cooking. Cook until onion is soft, adding a few sprinkles of salt if it’s drying out.
2. Add salt and garlic, stir and cook 1 minute. Add water and cook for 3-5 minutes. This softens the carrots and helps to get the flavor from the pan into the sauce.
3. Add 2 cans of tomatoes and water and cook for 5 minutes on medium. Shut off heat and wait until slightly cooled, about 5-10 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender, puree tomatoes in the pot, being very careful not to splatter the hot sauce. Start on a low setting and slowly increase the speed. You can also use a regular blender but may need to do in 2 batches.
5. Add tomato paste, sugar and salt.
6. Return to the pot and cook for 15-30 minutes, simmering.
7. At the end, add basil, pesto, or parsley and cook for an 5 additional minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Caviar You Can't "Beet"

Amy's Beet "Caviar"

This is also called Beeta Ganoosh by Aaron Dinwoody of Farm Fresh Solutions. He should have full credit for this recipe. I first had it when we visited Tunitas Creek Ranch, near San Gregorio, and have had it since on a few occasions. Lucky for us, he is now selling it at the Half Moon Bay Farmer's Market and at New Leaf Community Market.

One day, while at the farmer's market, I saw some beets and got inspired. I thought, I love that dish and I think I could make it. My email inbox is
humungous and one reason is that I save things I might need one day. I remembered this recipe was there. So, I bought my organic beets, went home and found the recipe. It called for almonds so I thought, well almond meal should work, so that's what I used.

All I know is that 45 minutes after I cut the beet, my "caviar" was done (a friend who tried it gave it that name). I was in heaven. Served on a brown rice cracker (remember, I'm gluten free now), it was the perfect appetizer. And it made so much I was able to serve it the next day, too.

Later, after talking to Aaron, I learned that what I created was fairly close to his recipe. I've included his variations below. And even if you don't make the caviar, use the process to cook fresh beets, any night of the week. Another way to serve the cooked beets would be to slice them and add some olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper and maybe some goat cheese...yum.

As far as the rest of the family, my kids still have not developed a taste for beets. I know I didn't until recently. That's ok; more for us.

Let me know what you think and share it with your friends if you like it. Enjoy the fruits of summer!

Beet Caviar

1 lb Organic fresh beets, scrubbed clean, top and bottom cut off
1 cup Almond meal (or blanched, slivered almonds)
1-2 Tbl Balsamic vinegar
2-4 Tbl Olive oil
1/2-1 tsp salt
Optional: 1-2 garlic cloves, lemon juice

1. Cook the beets. This method could be used to make fresh cooked beets for any recipe. Place the beets in a pot, fill with water so that about 1" of the beet is covered in water.
2. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 20-30 minutes or until the largest beet is fork tender.
3. Remove beets from pot and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes (otherwise they are too hot to peel).
4. Remove peel from beets using your fingers. Warning: your fingers will be tinted pink! Use gloves if necessary. The pink will subside probably by the next day. And don't do this with a white shirt on.
5. Place beets and remaining ingredients in a large food processor. Start with the lower amount of the ingredient, for example 1/2 tsp of salt. Blend together and taste. Adjust for taste and texture. It should have a smooth consistency.
6. Serve with crackers or bread. Will keep in the fridge for about 5-7 days.