Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What We've Been Eating, Part 4: The Eggless Binder Edition, featuring Flax Egg, Soy-Based Mayo, and Bonus (updated) Curry Tuna Burger Recipe!

"Eggless Binder". Do you like that? I liked it. I went with it anyway. As well as every other word I could think of to throw into the epic title of this post. I was going to try to share the information in this post in three different posts, i.e. Flax Egg post, Soy Mayo post, and then - aha! let's put it all together! - Updated Egg-Free Curry Tuna Burger post. But I've not been that good at posting generally, let alone regularly, so I thought a three-part mission was too risky.

So here we are. Bear with me. I have a lot to say, mostly stemming from this sad fact:

I miss eggs a lot.

Monday, April 9, 2012

What We've Been Eating, Part 3: Hypoallergenic Flat Bread, A Welcome Success!

My attempts at baking without wheat and eggs have been mixed and frustrating. I've had great outcomes using buckwheat and cornmeal - things that have been used for ages, have a flavor with which I'm familiar, and seem sturdier on their own than some of the other gluten-free flours and starches available, which require experimentation that results in the use of like ten of them to create a baked good that doesn't fall to pieces. The unfamiliar, rather vulnerable flours I've tried to work with so far have mostly been expensive disappointments.  Take these waffles for instance...
There were tears.

For Beckett's first birthday I made chocolate cupcakes with no milk, eggs, soy, nuts, wheat, refined sugar, or bean flours.  The batter looked so promising! It tasted so delicious! They seemed to rise properly in the oven! But alas, when I tried to remove them - ever so gingerly! - from the muffin tin, most of the tops fell off. My husband and I ate them as a consolation prize (a v. tasty consolation prize, actually), but I was super sad, as the party was the next morning and I'd really wanted Beckett to sit in his high chair in a diaper, surrounded by balloons and loved ones, and get chocolate all over himself.  I salvaged just enough for the children who were going to be in attendance. I thought they were eaten - Sadie loved them and even snaked Beckett's - but later when I was cleaning up I decided that more cupcake ended up on the floor than in people's mouths. They were texturally, structurally deficient. I'm new at this. It's hard. (And I don't take pictures of all my failures.)

So!  Imagine my absolute glee when I made something that not only was delicious but also had a texture that most wheat-loving folks would consider normal!

It was a recipe for Vegan, Gluten-Free, Yeast-Free Whole Grain Flatbread from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, which has been an invaluable resource for me since I was made aware of Beckett's allergies.

I'm not going to reprint the recipe.  Just click on the above link if you'd like to try it.  I just want to share with you my joy at finally making something that the whole family enjoyed and encourage you to try it. It's a batter bread, as most (all?) gluten-free breads are.

This was spread into a 9X13" baking dish rather than a loaf pan. It was like brownie batter. But without chocolate. And sugar. And eggs and flour.
  Like brownies... 
It started out light brown and sandy colored and then ended up a darker brown, kind of like the color of a grocery store paper bag - but in a good way. I put some homemade za'atar on half of it (wasn't sure if the children would go for it, plus Beckett's allergist recommended we refrain from giving him sesame seeds). It was good.
  before and after 
It sliced easily and looked so much prettier than I had been willing to hope. 

slicedApril week 1 044 
(The accompanying soup was not blogpostworthy, sadly. But it was nutritious, which matters I suppose.)
We ate it all, which of course was a great sign.
But the best part was watching Beckett eat it. He loved it. And that made me happy. The flavor of this bread is super different - kind of malty, even - and I think it's the teff flour that does it. Time will tell, but I think teff is going to be my new favorite grain. If you're into gluten-free baking, try this! It's truly lovely.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Butternut Squash with Red Onion Vinaigrette. (And what to do with the leftovers.)

Happy April! This would be a good Easter brunch or dinner side item. Seriously - a super crowd pleaser, and here are some reasons why:

1. It's v. simple to make and is nice at room temp, so it doesn't need to be fighting with a ham or anything for the oven.

2. It's vegan (or could be easily anyway) and there are no common allergens in it. So it should be good for your loved ones with dietary restrictions.

3. You can keep the peels on the butternut squash, which is cool and interesting and befuddling to people, thereby making this item a lively conversation topic. (E.g. "The peels are on! That Edith is so lazy." "No, you can eat the peel; it's nice." "Really?" "Yes. Try it." "Oh. Hmm."... (self-conscious chewing ensues) ... "Yes, not bad. I never knew! Edible and structurally sound!")

squash evolution 
4. If nobody notices the peel thing (which, frankly, would be odd), they will still talk about how pretty this dish is.  Because other than delicious, simple, and hypoallergenic, that's what this dish is:  PRETTY. And if pretty food doesn't say "He is Risen", I just don't know what does.

(I'm sure my mom will tell me though. She might tell me there was something blasphemous or at the v. least sacrilegious about that.)

(Speaking of "sacrilegious" - what's up with the spelling of that word? It's totally counter intuitive. And I'm more confident in my spelling than I am in my cooking!)

(I meant for that to be a really bold assertion, sort of like when my friend Jenn, a singer, told me in college that she was more confident in her tap dancing ability than in her singing. Did it work?)

red onion vinaigrette 
I'm quite rambly today so here are a bunch of pictures because I couldn't decide which ones to use because, as mentioned above, it's so pretty. We ate it for dinner on Sunday with some grill-pan-grilled chicken sausages and a salad.
  Sunday dinnersunday dinner plate 
We ate the leftovers on Monday, cold on a salad for lunch and warmed up and mashed into a soup for dinner. Both were exquisite - and while I am self-conscious using that word, I'm going with it because I feel it's entirely accurate.

Monday lunchMonday dinner 
You might want to double this recipe so as to ensure leftovers.  For reals.  Soup recipe below = outstanding.

pretty plated squash 
Butternut Squash with Red Onion Vinaigrette 
Adapted from Mario Batali, via my sister-in-law, Katie 
Yield: 6-8 side servings 

1 really large or 2 medium butternut squash, cut into 1-inch slices, skin on, seeds discarded* 
Salt and pepper, to taste 
4 tablespoons olive oil 
4 tablespoons warm chicken or vegetable broth** 
1/4 cup red wine vinegar 
1/2 medium red onion, sliced paper-thin and then crosswise in thirds*** 
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chili flakes 
1 tablespoon dried oregano 
1 clove garlic, minced 
2 tablespoons (or more), torn fresh mint leaves 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 

Season the squash with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and place in a single layer on 1 or 2 rimmed baking sheets. Place into preheated oven and cook 15-18 minutes, until just tender. Meanwhile, stir together the red onion, chili flakes, oregano and garlic, season with a little salt and pepper, and then drizzle red wine vinegar and broth on top. Set aside so that onions soften and flavors blend. Remove squash from the oven and pour marinade over. Allow to cool 20 minutes in the marinade, sprinkle with mint leaves and serve. 

*I cut the long thin part of the squash - the shaft, if you will - in half lengthwise and then into 1 inch slices. I cut the more bulbous part a little more haphazardly. They were more like 2" chunks than 1" slices. I thought it ended up looking extra pretty with the variations in size and shape. 
** The original Mario Batali recipe uses olive oil in place of broth. If you don't have broth, go with the olive oil. I made the change based on the following reasoning: 8 tablespoons of olive oil is a lot of oil (1/2 a cup in fact), I'd like the red onions to soften a little bit, oh hey this hot chicken broth I just made would be an excellent substitution! And it totally was, so if you have some, microwave it and trust me. 
*** You could just use thin slices and skip the crosswise-in-thirds part. I don't like long slices of onion. I like bite-sized pieces.

  Best. Ever. Leftovers Soup.
Butternut Squash Vinaigrette Soup 
Yield: 2-3 servings 
Pour 2-3 cups leftover squash and all remaining vinaigrette into a saucepan or soup pot. Cover with broth (I used 3 cups). Add a fresh or canned pear (I used the latter), cut into large chunks, and zest from an orange (optional). Stir in 2 heaping tablespoons miso paste. Bring to boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash with a potato masher or puree a little in your blender. Serve! Oh - and if you don't have a pear, try adding 1/2 cup applesauce instead, or, after removing soup from heat, add in 2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup, or mirin wine - something sweet to cut against the sourness/tartness of the actual squash mixture.