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.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Think your kids won't eat tofu and kale?

My children continue to amaze me with what the eat. Last night, it was sautéed dino kale with Italian white beans (the really big ones), both from Half Moon Bay's Iacopi Farms and strips of tofu (Hodosoy's Yuba) topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese. I joked with one friend on Facebook "When did I become so crunchy?!".

If you asked me 7 years ago, when my motherhood career began, I never would have thought any child would have eaten this. After having children, my perspective changed dramatically. It comes down to what I tell my clients, never assume what your children will and won't eat. I feel my role in this equation is to make sure people know how to cook food properly and how to season dishes effectively. This can make all of the difference in the world.

I'm going to break down the recipe in parts for you first:
I soaked the beans in the crock pot. Yes, you can always use canned beans but what a difference. Beans soaked in the crock pot come out really creamy (thanks, Lisa, for that suggestion). If you are cooking in the crock pot, place rinsed beans with about 4-6x more water and cook on High for 2-3 hours. Change the setting to Low for another 2 hours. I had to do this manually but maybe your cooker has the ability to be programmed. Either way, the result was a cooked, tender and creamy bean that was good by itself. You could always soak for 8 hours but it may need to be cooked for another hour on the stove afterwards.
Family Tip: for the picky eater, keep the beans separate from the rest of the dish or serve them mashed with some olive oil and a pinch of salt. They are also really good with pasta.

Sauté chopped onion and ground pepper in a little olive oil but not salt. Cook on a medium heat, stirring only occasionally. Add some butter and cook a few minutes, then add the garlic and salt. Cook for one minute before adding the kale.
Family Tip: By adding the butter, it adds great flavor to the dish. You can always add more olive oil. If your children don't like garlic, remove a portion of the kale for them and then add the garlic to the pan for your dish.

While the onion cooks, cut the kale into strips and place in a bowl of water. I normally take the stem out but I did not do that this time; it was fine. This kale is called dino or dinosaur kale. The other name you might see is Laciniato. It also makes great kale chips. Bake cut strips that have been drizzled with olive oil and sea salt in a 400F oven for 11-15 minutes or until crisp. Ok, another thing I didn't expect my kids to love but they do.
Family Tip: Try serving raw kale with Caesar dressing and shredded carrots; it's delicious. And extremely healthy.

When the onion is golden brown, remove the kale from the bowl by scooping it up with your hands. You want some water on it to help it cook. Don't tilt the pan to drain the water. If there's any dirt, it might end up in your dish. Place all of the kale on top of the onion, give it a quick stir and then place a cover on top. I use a cover that's slightly smaller than the pan so it sits on top of the kale and presses it down. It cooks in a matter of minutes and does not burn. If it seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of water to the pan.
Family Tip: You can also serve the kale prepared like this with rice, risotto or pasta. For the pasta, add some milk or cream and some grated cheese.

The company Hodosoy creates this interesting product called Yuba. It is the Japanese word for the tender "skin" that is formed on top of soymilk when it's heated. It doesn't have much of a taste but takes on the taste of the dish. I took the piece and cut strips (chiffonade-style) to create long pieces that almost looked like fettuccine. It's fun and easy to work with.
Family Tip: The possibilities are endless with this product unless of course, you can't have soy. I would give this to any picky eater. It's fun to unroll it and you can dip it in anything!

Local Tip: For those of you in the bay area, make sure to try Iacopi farms for the dino kale and Italian butter beans. They are organic and delicious. You can find them at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market.

Dino Kale with Beans and Yuba Strips (see above for details on how to do each step)

2-3 c cooked large white dry beans or 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp olive oil
Few grinds of freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of dino kale, chopped into strips
8 oz plain yuba, cut into strips
1 tsp good quality extra virgin olive oil for "finishing"
2-3 Tbl grated Parmesan or any hard Italian cheese

1. Heat pan to medium. Add oil, then onions and pepper. Cook for a few minutes only stirring occasionally. Add butter and cook until almost golden.
2. Add salt and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add kale, stir and then place a cover on top of the kale. Cook for 4-6 minutes.
4. Remove cover, add beans and yuba; stir. Cook for 2 minutes or until beans and yuba are warm. Add finishing oil.
5. Place in a bowl and serve with grated cheese.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Quick and easy cioppino recipe

I have lived in Northern California for over a decade and I have never made cioppino until last week. I have no idea why; maybe it seemed intimidating, even to me! After having it at a friend's house over the holidays and seeing how simple it was, I knew it was time for me to tackle it.

The recipe she used was this one from Giada de Laurentiis which was delicious, of course, but one thing she (my friend, not Giada) complained about was the availability (and cost) of the fish stock. Since I often make seafood risotto with chicken stock, I was curious if I could pull it off for cioppino as well.

After making it last weekend for some friends, the results were unanimous; the chicken stock not only made the broth lighter but it was less salty. I decided to use the juice from the canned clams to add some extra flavor. With the exception of the halibut and the crab (it's high season for Dungeness right now), the other fish was frozen (shrimp and scallops) or from a can (chopped clams). I know the recipe usually has fresh clams and mussels but was looking to simplify the recipe as much as possible.

So grab your garlic toast (gluten-free, in my case) and try this recipe!

Quick and Easy Cioppino

What is cioppino? There are many versions but no matter how you slice it, you are cooking fish and seafood in a simmering broth of tomato and wine. If you want straight-forward and easy, this recipe is for you.

2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp unsalted butter
1 large or 2 small onions, cut into thin slices
1 bulb of fennel, cut into thin slices (if you don’t like or don’t have fennel, leave this out)
¼ tsp ground pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper (add more if you like it spicier)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sea salt

1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1/3 c tomato paste (freeze any leftover in a ziploc bag for another time)
4 cups of fish broth OR 1 carton (32 oz) chicken broth (see note)
2 cups dry white wine
Juice from 1 can of chopped clams (reserve clams for later)
1 bay leaf

1 lb halibut, cut into chunks
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (21-25 size)
1 lb sea scallops (cut in half if large)
Clams from chopped clams can
1 Dungeness cooked crab, cleaned and cracked

Note: you can use a light chicken broth in this recipe if you don’t have fish stock on hand. It comes out very well and is less expensive. You could also use a vegetable broth.

1. Sauté onion and fennel in olive oil and butter with the black and crushed red pepper. Cook until softened and golden. Add garlic and salt and cook for 1 minute.

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, wine, clam juice and bay leaf. Bring this to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until the onion and fennel are soft and the broth has thickened.

3. About 10 minutes before you are ready to eat, bring the broth back up to a boil. Add the thickest fish first. Then add remaining fish or seafood in stages, waiting about two minutes in between. Try to keep the broth at a simmer. Add anything cooked like the clams or the crab at the very end and just heat through. Remove bay leaf. It is very hard to digest so you want to make sure you don't eat it.

4. Before serving, taste the broth to make sure the balance of salt and pepper is right. If it tastes “flat”, add more salt. If you want it spicier, add more crushed red pepper.