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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Greek Casserole recipe with a Gluten-Free variation

Yummy Greek Casserole is quick and easy

While trying to come up with quick and easy meals for one of my customers, I envisioned a casserole similar to a Shepherd's Pie but with Greek flavors. I created a base recipe but needed to test it first. My husband even asked where it came from. Uhm, me...

The night I made it we had just gotten back from a trip. I love creating recipes that can be thrown together in 30 to 45 minutes. Even after flying all day, this recipe was still easy enough to make.

You might know that I eat gluten-free. So, instead of making the traditional white sauce with a flour-based roux, I used a cornstarch slurry. Using whole milk and adding a wee bit of butter at the end gave the milk sauce a creamy texture. I didn't miss the flour for a minute. I'll give you both recipes, though, just in case you like the texture of a sauce made from a roux.

Regardless of the gluten, the one tip that I'll give you now that will make a huge impact on the flavor of your dishes is to step away from the stove when you cook ground meat. Heat the pan first and then drop pieces into the pan. Don't break up the meat and don't crowd the pan. Cook until brown on one side, then turn over. Once cooked for a few minutes, begin to break the meat up with the back of the spoon. A simple trick that will do wonders; I promise.

If you don't eat meat, use sautéed mushrooms instead. I have options for everyone.

Let me know how you like it. After seeing the empty bowls tonight, I know the verdict here.

Greek Casserole

1 lb ground meat (beef, lamb, turkey or chicken) or 1-2 cups sautéed mushrooms
2 tsp olive oil
½ onion, chopped
¼ tsp ground pepper
½ tsp each dried oregano and thyme
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
2 garlic cloves minced
2-3 cups of cooked brown or white rice (Tip: cook rice first, then cook the meat and onion)
1 bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ c Feta cheese, crumbled
2 c white sauce (see recipes below)

1. Sauté ground meat in a large pan until browned and cooked through. Remove and transfer to a bowl.
2. Heat the same pan over medium heat and add olive oil, then onion and seasonings but not the salt. Without stirring very often, cook until golden brown. Add salt and garlic and cook 1 minute. Add ground meat back to pan and cook together for 2-3 minutes.
3. Place the meat and onion mixture into a 13x9 greased pan.
3. Place rice on top of meat, then spinach. Pour white sauce over this and top with the Feta cheese.
4. Bake in a 375ºF oven for about 25-30 minutes or until brown on top and bubbly. Or, bake 20 minutes and then broil 3-5 minutes or until brown.

Optional additions on top of the spinach: Kalamata olives, chopped sun-dried tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes

White Sauce (made with a roux)
2 Tbl unsalted butter
3 Tbl flour
2 c whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
Sprinkling of pepper, garlic, nutmeg and oregano

To make the roux, in a medium to small sauce pan, over medium to medium-low heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk.

While that is cooking, heat milk in a glass measuring cup in the microwave until warm (1 minute works well) or on the stove top in a pot. This helps to reduce lumps since the liquid is closer to the temperature of the roux.

After the roux has cooked for 2-4 minutes, slowly add milk to roux, stirring. Add salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg and oregano. Continue to cook until slightly thickened. You might need to raise the temperature slightly. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Gluten-Free White Sauce (made with a cornstarch slurry)

2 c whole milk
2 Tbl cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbl cold water
1/2 tsp salt
Sprinkling of pepper, garlic, nutmeg and oregano
1/2 Tbl unsalted butter

Heat milk in a medium sauce pan until just beginning to simmer/scald; look for tiny bubbles on the edges.

Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and seasonings. Cook for about 3 minutes or until thickened. Add butter and stir until melted. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gluten-Free Biscotti

This is often how things work with me. I decide at some point that I want something. Pizza, cookies, a madeleine...and since I'm eating a gluten-free diet, I can't always go to the store to buy it. Or, maybe I can but it's not always good.

So it was, that day, when I really wanted a good biscotti. Believe it or not, I've never even made them, even with gluten! The next part of the journey began with finding the right recipe.

I wasn't in the mood for lemon pecan or orange walnut. I didn't want chocolate either. Cinnamon almond was coming to mind so that's what I decided to try to create. I used this recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, gluten-free girl, and made a few changes, including using less sugar.

The real test was in serving these little delightful treats to my non-gluten free friends. All were pleasantly surprised when I told them my little secret.

I hope you try it and know you'll like it!

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Almond Biscotti

1/2 c almond flour
1/4 c sorghum flour
1/4 c tapioca flour
1/4 c potato starch
1/4 c white rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

8 Tbl (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c sugar (I used 1/2 c brown sugar and 1/4 c brown rice syrup)
2 large eggs
1/2 c sliced almonds, not toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat on a baking sheet.

2. Add the dry ingredients into a bowl (flours, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and cinnamon). Using a whisk, mix until well blended. If necessary, use your fingers to break up any big pieces of almond flour or baking powder.

3. Put the butter in a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about a minute and then pour in the sugar. Cream the butter and sugar together until the batter is smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time until the mixture is fluffy.

4. With the mixture on low, add the dry ingredients in 3 batches. Turn the speed to medium and mix for 1 minute. This helps to "gel" the xanthan gum and hold the dough together. Lower the speed and add the almonds until just mixed.

5. The dough will be sticky. You can either use an ice cream scoop to place the dough on the baking sheet in two long rows or use a greased spatula. Pat down and form each into it's own long log with a spatula. It should be a little flat as well. And yes, it will be sticky.

6. Bake the biscotti for 16-18 minutes, turning around once. Bake until golden and somewhat firm, but still somewhat soft, pushing the top center of the cookie. This is the best way to tell whether it is done. Once done, take the baking sheet out of the oven and allow the biscotti to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully, move them to a cooling rack and leave for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

7. When the biscotti are entirely cool to the touch, place one log on a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut consistent slices, about 1/2" wide, depending upon how you like your cookies. Move them back onto the baking sheet, bottom side down and repeat with the other log.

8. Heat oven to 350°F again. Once oven is hot, place biscotti back into oven. Bake until they are browned and crunchy, about 16-20 minutes.

Cool them entirely before attempting to eat. Ok, try one if you are drooling but they are better once cooled! Store in an airtight container.

Makes 2-3 dozen biscotti.