Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hot & Sour Soup

This soup is perfectly balanced and makes a great meal on a cold winter's night! 

6 cups beef stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. diced fresh or pickled ginger
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 - 1 tsp. dried chili flakes
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves, OR 1 Tbsp. lime juice
3 scallions sliced
2 eggs
12 ounces tofu, cubed
½ cup fresh cilantro

1. Heat the stock in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, chili flakes, rice vinegar, brown sugar and lime leaves to the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and add the scallions.
2. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. While stirring the soup, stream in the eggs. (The slower you stir the eggs into the soup, the larger the pieces will be.) 
3. Next add the tofu. 
4. Serve with a garnish of fresh cilantro.
A few ideas, alternatives and suggestions...
Beef stock was used in this recipe simply because it was what I had on hand. You can use any stock you'd like and I’m sure it’ll be just as wonderful.
 I generally use pickled ginger over fresh because it is much easier to deal with. It can be found in any Asian market (maybe the American too…I’ve never checked there). It is already peeled and in matchsticks and just needs a rough chop.
 Kaffir lime leaves are so tasty and I suggest you use them if you can. They can be found in Asian markets as well, and they are usually dried. I am fortunate enough to have some wonderful friends who have given me a Kaffir lime tree. If you live nearby, I can bring you some!!
Rice or noodles make a nice addition to your soup. I recommend cooking the rice/noodles first, adding a serving to each bowl and pouring the soup over the rice/noodles. This way the they won’t absorb all of the soup leaving you with a soggy mess.
Don't forget, any protein can be substituted for the tofu.

Go play with your soup!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gluten-Free Brownie Attempt...Take 2

OK, so as I continue my quest for gluten free brownies, I kept coming across this whole black bean brownie thing. I know, right? How gross and desperate can we be getting? Should I waste my time with this? After thinking long and hard (and spontaneously purchasing black beans at Trader Joe’s today) I have decided to go for it. Today is black bean and agave nectar brownie day.

It only took me 12 minutes to mix the batter (which tasted pretty good) and get it in the oven...hmmm. Hopefully this isn’t one of those instances where “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” that would stink!

With the first experiment finished, I must say that they weren’t too bad. I don't know if I'd make them for a crowd, but they didn't go to waste. The texture was "off," it was more of a brownie-like fudge than a fudgy brownie, if that makes any sense. For as simple as it was, the recipe was OK, but for now I think I will continue my research before attempting to make this one better.

If you have any tips or suggestions on this experiment, please get in touch! I am new to this gluten free thing and could use all the help I can get.

On to the next experiment!!

I love playing with my food. Now get out there and play with yours!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Baking the first attempt

OK, it’s baking time and I have been looking forward to this all day. Gluten free and refined sugar free brownies…here we go!

There are 2 batters going on here. Batch #1 is with the brown rice that I ground, and batch #2 is with Bob’s Red Mill which is a store-bought, finely ground, brown rice flour. I just can’t wait to try these bad boys out.

Batch #1 is mixed and in the oven. When I tasted the batter I could definitely see, taste and feel the rice. It definitely isn't ground fine enough and this makes me a bit nervous.

After tasting the batter of batch #2, it is clear that this one will be better than batch #1. It has a more chocolaty flavor and there is no trace of grit from the rice flour. I am quite happy about that because I really didn’t like grinding my own rice. It took way too much time and was really noisy.

We are half way through the baking process now and I am beginning to smell the chocolaty goodness floating from the oven. Hopefully they taste as good as they smell!

Well, they look like brownies…but how do they taste? Drum roll please….

Batch #1 with the homemade rice flour is, well, gross. The flavor of the brown rice is very prominent and it really overpowers the chocolate flavor. The grains of rice in the flour are obvious and create a crunchy texture...yuck!

Batch #2 is curious…in a good way. The texture is much better than batch #1 because there is no grittiness at all and it is very moist. The flavor is interesting and I'm not sure how to put it in words...but I'll try. Though not sweet at all, brown rice flavors the brownie in a warm and mellow way as it gently works its way through the chocolate. As far as texture goes, the brownie is moist and dense, almost too dense. Actually, I'd call them gummy, but I think this is a good base to start from. More research is required. A couple of things for sure, then next time I will add more salt and perhaps coffee to enhance the chocolate.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is it possible to make a gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free browine that tastes good?

There's only one way to find out!

As my life progresses and I learn about gluten allergies, dairy allergies and the ill-effects of my beloved refined sugar, I am now ready to delve into the world of baking with these things in mind…and out of product. Curiosity has gotten the better of me...can a brownie be made without sugar, eggs, all-purpose flour and BUTTER and still be good? Is it possible? Hmm, I'm not too sure about this one, but determination is one of the things that drives me in life and I am determined to give this recipe my best shot. Being a baker by trade and having created many baked items in my life, I think this direction may become a new passion for me. 

My mission is to start off by making brownies with brown rice syrup instead of sugar and brown rice flour instead of all-purpose flour. Eventually, once I get that recipe down, I would like to replace the eggs with tofu and replace the butter with vegetable oil. Can I do it? I will definitely keep you posted! I am going to start by making my own brown rice flour. As I research this online, I understand that brown rice flour can be found in almost any market, and it can be fairly simple to make at home. Well, since I have a 15 pound bag of brown rice in the pantry…that’s right, I will attempt to make my own. 

  • So far the process is slow and loud. (Making popcorn at the same time doesn’t do much to help the noise level in the kitchen.) 
  •  I feel the need to shut the Cuisinart off every few minutes to let it rest because the machine gets pretty warm.  
  • OK, after 45 minutes of grinding I think I have the texture that I am looking for but note: Next time I am out, I will look into purchasing the rice already ground.  
It is important to grind the rice into a fine flour, otherwise you can feel the texture of the rice grains in the final product. (Oops, I just found a grain of rice in my water glass!)