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.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken

This gluten-free orange chicken was born out of a desire to make my daughter happy. When my husband had the traditional gluten-containing version while we were out for lunch one day, my daughter looked on in envy. Surely, I believed—after years of adapting recipes for my gluten-sensitive family—the same taste could be achieved without the offending wheat protein.
I found an orange chicken recipe on and made a few changes in the ingredients as well as the technique until I came up with the following. I served it to the family along with some brown rice and previously steamed green beans.
When my son gave my cooking a round of applause after eating it, I knew I must have done something right. I tried to put in a lot of details which should make it easy for you. Hopefully your family will be just as pleased!

Gluten-Free Orange Chicken                                                  
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup cornstarch + 1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sushi flour or white rice flour
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup oil for frying

Orange Sauce
2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons white vinegar

2 teaspoons oil for high heat like peanut or safflower
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon rice wine or sherry (not vinegar)

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Zest of 1 orange
Optional: hot chili oil or crushed red chili peppers

 1.  In a large bowl, mix eggs, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of oil. 
 2.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of cornstarch and sushi or white rice flour. 
 3.  Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix well. This is the batter. 
 4. Add the chicken pieces, stirring to coat. I like to use my hands for this step. Make sure to clean your hands before and after.

5.     Place 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok and heat to medium-high. 
6.    Working in batches, carefully add about 1/3 to 1/4 of the chicken. Cook until golden brown on each side. You do not have to fully cook the chicken as it will finish cooking in the sauce but make sure the pieces are browned. Place pieces on a large plate or tray while you finish cooking the remainder of the chicken.


7.  Make orange sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
8.  Once all of the chicken is cooked, carefully (since it’s hot) wipe out wok if needed. Heat 15 seconds over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of oil. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add rice wine and stir 5 seconds. Add orange sauce and bring to boil.
9.  Add cooked chicken, stirring until well mixed. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook about 3 minutes.

      10.  In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of cold water with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Add to the chicken, stirring. This will thicken the sauce. Continue simmering about 2-3 minutes. Add more water or soy sauce if the sauce becomes too thick.
       11. Stir in sesame oil and orange zest. Cook for 1 more minute and serve. If you like spicy food, add hot chili oil and/or crushed red chili flakes.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Citizen Chef meals are great for busy people

When I first heard about Citizen Chef, I loved the concept: a meal which is ready to cook (just add the protein), fresh, healthy, and easy. You are eating in 15 minutes. Sounds like my kind of dinner! The bonus is that some of the meals are gluten-free, which is not easy to find.

The nice folks at Citizen Chef sent me two of their products to try out; Thai Sesame and Hawaiian BBQ stir frys. I brought them to a friend's house along with some chicken (you can use any protein) to give it a whirl. Being the family chef, I thought it would make sense to try them out with a group of kids along with adults. Here are my notes:

Ingredients: Both packages contained the same ingredients for the stir fry which consisted of onion, snap peas, carrots, and red cabbage. My kids are funny; they don't like cooked carrots. So, instead, I offered them some uncooked veggies. Problem solved. I loved the combination of vegetables along with the bright colors. Everything cooked up really nicely. If I could change anything, I would suggest slightly thinner or smaller pieces of onion.

Sauce: The adults loved the sauces, especially the Thai Sesame. The base was a coconut cream which was really flavorful and very fresh. This one was too spicy for the kids but perfect for us. The Hawaiian BBQ (a bit sweeter), in my opinion, would be better for kids but that night (maybe due to some peer pressure), the kids preferred it plain. I really don't mind that as this does not mean making two meals. It just requires removing some of the protein and/or veggies before simmering in the sauce. It was not a big deal at all.

Rice: The brown rice is really an instant-style rice. It was easy, had a good texture, and was perfect with the meal.

Instructions: The instructions could not have been easier but I got a little confused the first time around. I didn't turn over the card to see the cooking instructions at first but when I did, it was obvious.

The other side has detailed instructions with a timeline. At first I didn't realize it was a set of steps:
1) Cook rice.
2) Saute protein.
3) Steam and simmer.

I think that's just how my brain works. Now, it's obvious. My only other suggestion is that you probably only need 1 tablespoon of oil, not 2. I always go lighter. This dish is well suited for a wok which has a cover.

I encourage you to give it a try. You can buy these ready-to-cook meals at the following locations. Right now, there's also a $3 coupon offer on the home page.