Mouthgasmic

A Gluten-Free Blog for the Taste Full World

Caramelized French Onion Soup February 20, 2010

Filed under: 1 — Laura @ 8:10 am
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The first time I tasted French Onion soup was in France and it was over salted.  That was almost 10 years ago and I remained under the mistaken impression that the soup is supposed to be salty, oily, and heavily seasoned with pepper. As much as I love onions, I never thought I would put my lips to a spoon full of the stuff again.

That is, until last weekend. Evan and I love onions, and when he mentioned a craving for French onion soup, I decided to give it a go on my own. Surely, I could avoid the failures of my predecessor? How could a dish so full of onions go wrong?

The first attempt was on Valentine’s day. I skimmed a few recipes and gathered up the most common ingredients that I had on hand. I sliced a big pile of onions (estimating how well they’d cook down into two servings. Answer: 1.5/person for large bowls) and dug up some beef broth, white wine, butter, minced garlic and kosher salt. That is it. No simmering bay leaves, no fresh thyme, no splash of lemon juice, nothing else.

I melted a big chunk of butter in a wide bottomed pot and layered in onions with a few smaller bits of butter and salt. Then I walked away. I poured a drink, and pestered Evan while he tried to prepare that night’s meat dish in peace.

Ten minutes later, I poked at the onions and saw they were caramelizing at the bottom. I tossed them about, both to redistribute the less-cooked pieces and to make sure they were all coated with butter.

When the onions were a soft, golden to dark brown and smelled like heaven, I added the beef broth, a couple glugs of white wine and a hefty spoonful of garlic. I measured by way of saying to myself “does that look like enough broth?” If not, I added a little more broth and tasted in between additions to make sure the flavor wasn’t becoming diluted.

I let the soup bubble away for a while, melding flavors of beef broth and onion and became a magical fusion of love and nourishment. Perfect for a day that’s supposed to symbolize romantic love!

To be traditional, toast some bread (or a comparable alternative) and broil shredded Gruyere cheese on top.

Enjoy, but learn from my mistake the second time I went to make this: don’t skimp on butter, and keep the onions on low temperature– either will result in burned instead of browned onions, and a pouting cook.

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Cheater’s Enchiladas February 16, 2010

I like enchiladas except for a few things:

I don’t like a lot of sauce because the tortillas can get soggy.

It sometimes feels like too much work to roll them all perfectly and then eating them is a pain if it unrolls.

I like to choose my ingredients- i.e. no bell peppers.

Most red sauce you can buy pre-made has sugar in it or if not, it’s expensive.

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The following recipe is highly customizable and pretty easy to assemble. I did do a bit of extra work because I got a grinding attachment for my stand mixer (best Christmas present ever!)… and I spent the evening of my day off making ground hamburger and little sausage patties. Those I made tiny enough that they take literally 5 minutes from freezer to plate. Later I took the rest of the ground meat and made mini-meatballs.

So, unless you’re grinding the meat yourself, this should take 20-30 minutes to prepare and another 10-15 to toast up in the oven.

Cheater’s Enchiladas (proportions are up to your taste and number of people)

Tortillas (I used Trader Joe’s rice tortillas)

canned tomato sauce

Spices: garlic powder or minced garlic, paprika, chili powder, kosher salt, chipotle powder (for smoke and heat), cayenne pepper or black pepper, whatever else suits your taste buds and compliments your ingredients

ground beef, turkey or chicken

shredded soft cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, jack, etc)

chopped vegetables:

onion

bell peppers

carrots

anything else tasty and a little crunchy

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1. Chop vegetables and set aside.

2. Heat tomato sauce in a small pot with the garlic and spices. Just heat through to blend the flavors. Set aside.

3. Brown meat to just-barely-done. Set aside.

4. Start layering: oil the bottom and sides of your pan so the tortillas don’t stick. Dredge a tortilla in red sauce and use that as your bottom layer. Sprinkle on a mix of toppings and some cheese. Don’t pile it on too thickly or you’ll run out or room in the pan on your first layer (think lasagna). Repeat layers of sauced tortilla, cheese, meat and veggies until you reach the top of the dish.

5. Sprinkle or dregde the top tortilla with cheese (to your cheese density preference) and cover with foil. Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes, and uncover for another 2-3 so the cheese gets toasty.

6. Grab a fork and dig in! … just don’t forget to take it out of the oven: no matter how good it smells, the burns aren’t worth it.

 

International Soups & Stews edition of Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free! January 31, 2010

I hope your bags packed, your ticket purchased and your passport is up to date, because it’s time to take a tour of the world!

uh…

I mean, I hope your stock pots are washed, your table cleared and your bowls and spoons are ready and waiting because it’s time to bring the world’s best gluten free soups and stews into your kitchen!

First, I would like to thank everyone who participated in this month’s theme.

I also want to thank Naomi for starting this whole thing and continuing to organize hosts and themes.

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Alright. Ladles and appetites ready?

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Let’s start in my home region with some Southwestern style Tortilla soup from “The Gluten Free Diaries.” This is just the thing for a cold night after a long day.

Chili style stews are classic, as is tomato soup.

Although the origin of tomatoes in soup is probably English or French,

possibly Italian- the tomato itself probably comes from Peru. So that’swhere we’ll head to pick some of those ripe red fruits (unless you’re in the US, where they are legally vegetables). Juanita from “There can be only Juan” provides the recipe for this old favorite.

From Peru, we continue south and east. On your left you will see the 1,000+ Polynesian islands in the south and central region of the Pacific Ocean. From here, Shirley at “Gluten Free and Easy” has brought on board her Polynesian Sweet & Sour Stew. With thick, hearty with big chunks of vegetables, sausage and a tropical flare, this is sure to become a regular comfort food.

Chaya, the Comfy Cook, leads us north to Asia next. Her “Emerald stir-fry” will pair nicely with this flight’s complimentary side of rice. Crisp green veggies, plus beef in a rich, dark sauce is sure to keep me happy!

Now that we’ve crossed International Date Line, it’s safe to say we are now heading west. Smell anything delicious? Wafting up is the smell of a couple billion people cooking a myriad of tasty, yummy things. Although we don’t have time to stop, I will offer up an Indian inspired recipe of my own. India is one of the leading sources of pumpkin and turmeric is commonly featured in Indian curries. My Spicy Pumpkin soup will warm your mouth and your stomach through the in-flight movie.

If you thought you were full, don’t recline your seat for a nap just yet. When you smell Naomi’s next recipe, your belly will make room. Her Persian “Cinnamon Scented Beef Dumpling Stew” looks incredibly inviting.

While we’re in the area, how about sampling some “Persian Pomegranate & Walnut Stew” from For the Love of Food? Served over rice, the fresh Pomegranate provides a burst of flavor, sweetness and bite. Yum, yum!

As we head over to Europe, grab your sweater from the overhead compartment or request a blanket from the flight staff; it’s going to get cold outside.

To keep you warm, Bean from Without Adornment is dishing up some “Swedish Meatball Stew“. This winter favorite is an all-in-one meal with plenty of protein and a variety of vegetables.

As the plane detours south to Spain, curl up with a sunny cup of “Tofu & Pinto Bean soup” from Iris at The Daily Diatribe. With its bright colors and clear broth, its a reminder for those of you from snow-locked cities that eventually, the sun will shine again.

We have one more stop in the Old World, and that’s up to Brittain for something very traditionally English: roast beef. Over at Live Once Juicy, we’re having “Slow Cooker Roast Beef“. I imagine this is the kind of thing we’d find at a tiny, out of the way pub where they’ve been making stew this way for centuries. Enjoy it in a dark booth with an ice cold pint of whatever is on tap.

Tracee, from Mrs. Ed’s Research and Recipes brings us back to this side of the Atlantic. Her “New England Clam Chowder” is a warm welcome for us, the weary travelers, and now we just need to find some GF oyster crackers to accompany this traditional northeastern treat.

As we land, safe, sound and almost satiated, Wendy, the Gluten Free Greenie (which I read first as Geenie), tempts us with one last stew. Her “Autumn Stew” recipe is full of all the things that we love about home: it’s warm, its comforting and it comes with biscuits.

Now that we have sampled some of the best soups of the world, we have to wonder- what’s next?

Find out tomorrow over at “Without Adornment” I, for one, am waiting eagerly for info on February’s edition of Go Ahead Honey, it’s Gluten Free!

 

Spicy Pumpkin Soup (GAHIGF)

This recipe is true to my attempt to maintain the no-fuss style of cooking I enjoy on a daily basis. I could fancify it by roasting the pumpkin myself, which could do wonderful things for the flavor. I could add other squash to mix things up, but I leave these additions, deletions and modifications in your capable hands.

I believe recipes are meant to be individualized. Take a look at some of the most used cookbooks that belong(ed) to older relatives. Are there notes in the margins? If we approach our recipe collections as sacred texts, we’ll miss out on new, creative, simpler, easier, more fun, faster, more impressive, etc., ways of making our favorite foods. The authors of cook books may know a lot about food; they may bring us some fantastic flavor combinations, but they aren’t perfect. Even if they are the best chefs in the world, they don’t have the same tastes and preferences as you do. Maybe you can’t stand cumin, or maybe you love it more than the author of this recipe. Even if it calls for 1/8 tsp, you get to decide if a little more or a little less improves the flavor as you experience it.

I say, try the recipe as it is (barring any strong dislikes or allergies), and then modify it from there. The recipe I have for Asian slaw simply does not work without lime juice (as far as I am concerned)- the flavor is drastically different if you use lemon juice instead. However, there are other times where you could make substitutions that are just as tasty, if not better suited to your preferences, as the original.

For today, here is a recipe that is easy to modify and scale up/down for portions. It’s also my submission for this month’s Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten Free!

Ingredients: (makes 1-2 servings)

1 C canned pumpkin puree

3/4 to 1 can coconut milk (~12 oz can)

1 tsp grated or minced ginger

Turmeric

Cayenne pepper

Sriracha sauce

Lemon or Kosher salt

Melt a chunk of butter (or splash of oil)  in a pot and add pumpkin. Heat through, stirring constantly.

Stir in coconut milk to desired consistency. (I liked it on the thinner side)

Add seasonings to taste, heat through and serve.

 

A revelation and Italian style mac & cheese January 29, 2010

In the last several months, I have combed through a myriad of food blogs and I have found there are a few dichotomies  within the foodie blogosphere. As I have been writing in this blog, I’ve wondered, “Where is my place in this blogging system?” To find out, I present you with the types of bloggers that emerge at the intersections of these dimensions.

Here’s how I see the food blogging divide at its most extreme:

Do you know people on either side of this scale? We have people who spend a few hours each day preparing delicious foods that are extremely healthy, but in most cities that also means the ingredients are quite expensive. We also have people who don’t have time to heat a prepared, frozen hamburger patty, much less  grind three kinds of meat, bake the buns and toast them with homemade garlic butter. There are many people who can’t afford gourmet, organic, hormone free meat or any flour other than store-brand wheat, who still want something good to eat after a long day.

I don’t think the above image should represent the intersections of cooks today. I love cooking and I love to go all out, but I don’t have the time or budget to do so every day. I can’t search through my local farmer’s market (most people don’t have one at all, and the once-per-week one near me is quite small and limited) for a good deal on lavender honey. From my searches, most of the gluten free cooks on the internet are also striving to be all natural with 4 star quality and presentation, and I can’t live up to that.

What if I want to be a natural-as-possible, budgeted meat AND veggie eater who likes grain but without corn or wheat and has some time, but not much?

This realization occurred in last night’s round of “what to eat for dinner?”

I wanted mac & cheese. Growing up, this meant getting a <99 cent box from Kraft and following the directions on the box. My mom would add tuna fish and peas to give the meal some protein and vegetable value. That’s it: 20 minutes and it was on the table. But last night, I had to skim several blogs with homemade mac & cheese recipes because I can’t make it from a box any more. These recipes have 12 ingredients and as many steps. I was daunted.

Then rationality came home in the form of the wonderful man I love. I mentioned that I was going to make mac & cheese, but that it was going to be too much work. “Seriously?” he asked. I explained patiently that I couldn’t just make it from a box any more, that this was Gluten Free macaroni and cheese. I had to adapt Ina Garten’s recipe, I had to use 45 dishes and utensils and order in special spcies from Tibet and the whole process would take too much time and effort and money that we don’t have.

Turns out, boyfriend has never had the Kraft version. His mother boiled noddles, grated cheddar cheese while they cooked,

mixed a little Worcestershire sauce with milk and Tabasco and mixed everything on the drained noodles. That’s it: 20 minutes and on the table.

WHAT? I exclaimed, We don’t need saffron, organic sour cream, fresh ground mustard powder and a Tibetan monk’s blessing?

Apparently not.

Now, I am not knocking those recipes I found that were complicated, tempting and surely decadently divine. I simply cannot achieve those standards on a daily basis. When I try, I wind up getting discouraged and overwhelmed, doing nothing and eating spinach leaves dipped in dressing for dinner (they’re more fun to dip like fries than to eat as a proper salad).

Mac & cheese CAN be a special event dish, done up impressively and served alongside a gorgeous prime rib and asparagus with hollenaise sauce.

Or… mac & cheese can be an impulse, 10:30 at night, there’s nothing else that sounds good, quick, easy and inexpensive kind of food.

*We have two bowls of cheese above because I made mine with cheddar AND mozzarella. That, and having one pot of wheat and one pot of rice noodles, was the craziest we got in this recipe. Since it comes from Evan’s mother’s way of cooking mac & cheese, and because she is Italian (not just in heritage), this is our Italian style mac & cheese:

Boil water

Trow in your desired amount of macaroni noodles

While noodles cook, grate about a 1/2 C of cheese per serving (+/- your desired level of cheesiness)

Mix a dash of Worcestershire sauce (or wheat free soy sauce+squirt of Dijon mustard) and hot sauce with 1 C milk per person

Drain noodles and return to cooking pot.

Add cheese and stir furiously.

Add milk mixture slowly until sauce is creamy and thick. (CAREFUL!! if you have too much milk, your cheese won’t stick to the noodles)

Eat quickly!  The cheese will coagulate and be harder to eat as it cools. Adding some flour/corn starch to the milk mixture can help alleviate this effect.

In conclusion, you will see more slapped together kinds of meals here, but they will be tasty even if the ingredients are basic and the presentation is plebeian. I think we should be multi and cross-dimensional in the way we cook. There should be as many styles (and combinations of styles) as there are cooks. This comic gives a 2-dimensional version of what I would like to see.

 

Teaser for “Go Ahead Honey”– Quick & spicy comfort soup January 27, 2010

I will still take submissions for “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free” through tomorrow and will post everything by Sunday.

It may not be snowing here, and the rain storms have passed, but it’s still chilly outside. I am cozying up with a cup of the soup I made for my submission this month. What is it? You’ll find out this weekend. In the mean time, I have a quick, but impressive recipe that heats up well and stretches out a box of pre-made soup.

Creamy Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

1 part boxed butternut squash soup from Trader Joe’s (or your equivilent favorite)

1 part milk and/or cream (depending on your desired thickness and fat content)

Tabasco/southwestern hot sauce of your preference (I used Tapatio’s, but use what you like)

Mix and heat.

I use this recipe as a way to double what I get out of the prepared soups which can be on the expensive end if you’re buying one that’s wheat and sugar (i.e. corn syrup) free.  It’s easy, it’s quick, hot, filling, delicious and fairly healthy. Plus, if the boxed soup is good (and TJ’s version is), this will taste like you picked, peeled and roasted the squash yourself.

Come back this weekend for the unveiling of some fantastic soups and stews!

 

Crockpot bangers and unmash January 26, 2010

Bangers and mash is a dish of mashed potatoes and sausages served for breakfast in England and possibly other places.  All I know is that potatoes and sausage belong together- preferably with some onions for company. Mashed potatoes are too much work for every day, so I usually just dice and pan frymy potatoes.

So when I found a couple recipes for making this delicious combination of starch and protein in a crockpot, my mouth began watering. I can make breakfast while I sleep? whoo hoo!

My version is “unmashed” because its easier, but the idea is the same:

Drizzle a little oil on the bottom of your crockpot/slow cooker.

If you’re using uncooked sausage, put that on the bottom of the pot before adding your veggies. If using pre-cooked sausage (I used Aidell’s chicken and apple) slice and mix in with the vegetables.

Chop (large bites) a serving per person of onions, potatoes, carrots, and any other root vegetables you like and add to the pot.

Season with lemon or kosher salt (something large grained is preferable) and minced garlic at the least. Add some cayenne pepper or chipotle powder for heat, or dijon mustard and a touch of honey for a tangy bite. Work with the sausage you’re using as a guide for flavoring the vegetables.

Your cook time depends on how much food is in the pot. I cooked 2 large servings on high for 4 hours and it was perfect. If you have enough food in the pot, you could cook it on low for 6-8 hours while you’re at work or asleep.

To make mine even more decadent, I added a splash of cream to my individual portion and mashed it with a little of the potato to make a creamy sauce.

****REMEMBER**** You still have time to get your recipes in for this month’s “Go Ahead Honey, it’s Gluten Free!” See my previous post for information.