A Marriage of Marsala and Piccata, Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs – GF

Recipe, Marsala, Piccata, chicken thighs, gluten free

Chicken Marsala married with a willing appearance of Piccata. It’s not a dish of photogenic aspirations, but yes, I could do better if I remembered where I put my real camera! Back in Connecticut, for sure…  Meal cooked at my new home in MA!

First you buy some boneless, skinless chicken thighs… yes, I prefer the dark meat.  Although the Marsala preparation is one of the few ways that chicken breast is moist enough to be reasonably edible past the polite bites, to be honest, after 63 years of life I’ve yet to find a stupendously awesome preparation for chicken (or, especially) turkey breast.  So, I know it’s just not going to happen for me.  Y’know… after a few decades sometimes you just get to know what just doesn’t do it for you ?  Somehow, ya’think?

(AND, think about it… save money, eat chicken thighs!)

If you don’t want to read the discussion of the birds I plan to raise, please just scroll down to the recipe!  You’ll see it… big shocking pink headline! 

Eh, some folks prefer the breast (which I imagine is often because they are told it is “healthier”), and some of us prefer the dark side of the bird.  As far as health goes:  I buy free range birds (organic, effectively organic, or otherwise) or failing that, I’ll settle for simply organic birds on occasion.  There are indeed more nutrients in the dark meat than the white.  Yes, there’s also more fat, but I cut the visible bits off and out.  Okay, I’m still a sucker for very very crispy poultry skin… I just establish personal limits, if it pertains to a dish!)  Just getting the bird out on the field is a tremendous help!  None of this technically-organic “we will open up a small back door on the overpopulated chicken house after they’re too used to being indoors all the time, and hey, so… they didn’t know to go outside!  But we’re ORGANIC!” nonsense.  And, if they are outdoors, they will have LESS fat, and if they graze as is their nature, it will be a healthier omega ratio of fats.  Chickens are omnivores.  And, yes, added benefit, they love chowing down on TICKS… Less the rest of us have to worry about crawling upon our own persons…  Chickens also love vegetation, too.  Just like humans, if they get overcrowded, they suffer.  Just like humans, they are indeed omnivores.

I can’t WAIT to raise my own birds.  I’m gonna kick them out of doors, into chicken tractors, which will help them survive predators (if I am smart about it).  The meat birds won’t be Cornish Cross – I want a breed or two that downplays that breast, awesome cat food as it can make!  Plus, they really don’t thrive after over-breeding with being pastured, and they tend to grow so fast (including that so much vaunted breast) that they become too heavy to stand, and can break their legs just by standing on them.  At least when I break my own leg (ahem), there’s something more active going on!

 

Recipe, Marsala, Piccata, chicken thighs, gluten free

Lay out the meat in a bag, and seal it, before pounding it to the proper thin-ness. Since thigh meat gives off a few odd lumps, they are in there as separate pieces. But overall I tried cutting the thighs simply into halves.  Photo here:  Lightly dredged, post-pounding…

So, anyhow:  Chicken Marsala.  Chicken Marsala is based around the Marsala wines of Sicily, and recipes date back to the 19th century.  My recipe isn’t totally authentic even without considering the subbing of both thighs and rice flour, but I admit I was looking for variants I liked to eat the best in the past, to adapt to my fondness for the thighs.  I ended up infusing some piccata concepts (capers, lemon) into this dish, as well.

Recipe, Marsala, Piccata, chicken thighs, gluten free

I can dive into this photo:  the dredged chicken after having been pan fried until suitably browned.  It awaits its sauce…

I surfed the Internet a bit, and discovered there are a variety of preparations.  I am trying (not as effectively as I’d like… they are a major food group for me, unlike grains) to avoid nightshades – autoimmune condition of uncertain etiology — so adding tomato sauce especially when it is not definitive for Chicken Marsala means I won’t be using it in this recipe.

Recipe, Marsala, Piccata, chicken thighs, gluten free

Sauce, first stages, not fancy, sitting happily on my new induction range. Mushrooms, Marsala, chicken broth, garlic, more oregano. Sorry, but I could not remotely begin to redeem the photos of the sauce after I added the capers and sour cream. Some things photograph wonderfully, but taste poorly. Those images would have been the reverse.  Don’t ask.  

Some recipes I’ve seen out there use cream or sour cream, some recipes apparently add the capers and lemon, some do not.  And, actually, adding the capers and lemon can make this dish a chicken picatta, if one gets technical. I’m creating the style I enjoyed best, and in the meanwhile (since it won’t affect flavor anyway) making this gluten-free.  The commonality of a Marsala chicken dish (which makes sense, duh) is the Marsala wine.

Prep Time:
Cook Time:10-12 minutes for the chicken, another 6-7 for the rest.
Rest Time: Not needed.
Serves: 2 servings.
Leftover friendly?  Yes, save extras in the fridge.  I haven’t tested it in the freezer, but should be fine.  


Marsala Chicken Thighs, Gluten-Free

  • 4 Boneless skinless chicken thighs, remove any fat pads.  I use kitchen scissors.  (Feel free to sub in two white meat boneless skinless butterflied breasts, if you wish.  You can probably cook the meat a couple minutes less.)  I cut the thighs in half and would likely do the same for the breasts.
  • About 1/4 cup of rice flour.  
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, with extra reserved.
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 4 tablespoons of oil (I used avocado oil; some recipes use olive oil)
  • 4 ounces white button mushrooms (Cremini would be awesome, too), sliced
  • 1/2 cup Marsala wine (if you use the cooking variant, there’s salt already added to that, to make it unpalatable for up and up drinking.  Omit the earlier salt in such a case).
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (low sodium, or homemade).  
  • 1 heaping tablespoon capers (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I use whole milk sour cream, which has minimal if any extenders).  This is OPTIONAL. 
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon.
  • You can garnish with parsley or cilantro.

Prep all your ingredients so you can move quickly.

Place the meat in a layer in a large gallon zip lock or other sturdy plastic bag, and seal.

Pound the heck out of it with a rubber mallet.  I’m not sure where I put mine (I am living out of two kitchens two hours apart…) so I made do with a hard plastic potato masher.  This will flatten the meat so it cooks more evenly.  They also say it makes meat more tender, but I couldn’t tell.

In a bowl, add the flour, oregano, salt and pepper, mix gently.

Dredge the chicken through, piece by piece.  The coating will be very thin.  Place on a separate plate.

Melt the oil and butter in a LARGE skillet, medium high.

Add the chicken in a flat layer, and have your splash guard to hand.  (Use it.)

Cook a total of 10-12 minutes, flipping about halfway through.  Make sure your poultry is crispened and nicely tanned.

Remove the chicken to a clean plate, set aside (perhaps in a warming oven).

Add mushrooms, Marsala, broth, garlic, and any optional extra oregano to the ORIGINAL skillet.  Mix around with a spatula until the mushrooms are cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the capers.  Cook another minute.

Add the sour cream, allow to cook, while stirring, another 2 minutes.

Remove from heat, add the lemon juice, stir once, and pour over the chicken.  Add garnish if desired.  Serve it up!  This was quite good!

Recipe, Marsala, Piccata, chicken thighs, gluten free

Finished platter, holds two servings, assuming light sides. Shows off my wonderful cutting board in my new kitchen. (Cutting board made by the father of my old housemate – no, HE’S not old, except in the sense of past tense residence; cutting board recently refinished back in May or April with sandpaper, food-grade mineral oil and beeswax.)

Serving suggestions:  I simply had a leafy green salad with a mild vinaigrette on the side.   But for serving to others – I suggest colorful zoodles (yellow squash and green zucchini) sauteed briefly to retain some crispness, in a little chicken broth with diced onion or shallot, basil, thyme, a hint of salt, some ground pepper, and perhaps marjoram.

Ah!  This recipe has made its way over to Fiesta Friday, for your enjoyment!  Your hosts this week are: Liz and Jenny.


I haven’t tried arrowroot powder or tapioca flour yet in this recipe.  I will also make a variant without the cream, while reducing the Marsala sauce down further before serving, as I’d like to test out a strictly-Paleo version.  Possibly next time!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Poultry | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Dining Out: Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao, Flushing, NYC

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao (Chinese: Jiangnan, Shanghai, Wuxi, Sichuan), 59-16 Main St,  Flushing (Queens) New York City, NY 11355 

(This experience with a couple of friends was a jewel of an event!  Okay, it was back in mid-March this very year, but with one thing or another… this was mostly written up, but got lost in the shuffle.  Now it is posted!)

20170415_soup dumpling 1.jpg

I’ve been wanting to try Chinese soup dumplings ever since I broke my ankle back in late autumn, 2015.  What did the ankle have to do with it?  Oh, since I couldn’t GO anywhere, I had to amuse myself with Amazon Prime and, yes, YouTube.  Somewhere or another in there, I discovered both H-Mart (a Korean/Asian food market chain) AND I discovered Mickey Chen and another review of his, and his serious recommendations for Asian and other foods… but most specifically, soup dumplings, which I hadn’t heard of until then.  They sounded… fascinating!  (It probably helped that while I was down and out and stuck at home, I received both pork and shrimp dumplings from someone at work – authentic, Chinese home-made – I had fun putting together authentic dipping sauces for these, since I did and do own the condiments.  But, Soup Dumplings??? How fascinating!)

 

My very first one-hour drive after I could drive again… I went to H-Mart, just outside of White Plains, NY.  Stoked up on a lot of different veggies, condiments, and related items.  I ate at their food court, but while this food is far better than most food courts, it didn’t bop up and demand me to write it up.  I’ve gone to shop there a couple times since.  Awesome, and my GPS is a lot more cooperative than that first time!  It did NOT get me closer to soup dumplings, however.

Anyhow, back on  a Saturday in March, three of us got up and ready to drive down to Flushing, to suck down some tasty soup dumplings.  There was a bit of road traffic, but not so bad, actually (I’d eaten a hard boiled duck egg just prior, to edge off the appetite.  My friends mentioned eating an English muffin or two earlier).

For the three of us, we ordered four Xiao Long Bao servings... that’s four containers of pork soup dumplings, each container containing six anticipatory dumplings.  That’s 8 dumplings apiece!  (Hey, they’re largely broth!)

dining out, soup dumplings, Chinese, Flushing

Pork soup dumpling. Background on the plate contains mostly shredded pork, bean curd, Chinese celery – and a little ma po tofu.

The soup dumplings were to die for!  This restaurant serves three savory varieties – a pork, a pork and crab, and a (vegetable) one.  The broth in all cases but the last is likely pork/chicken based, because in order to make a soup dumpling, you need to stuff the dumplings while cold with stock/bone broth.  Which is solid/gelatinous.  Chicken really lends itself to making gelatin.  OR, use pig feet and make highly gelatinous soup from this! The pork or other ingredients are made into balls and combined with the stock and dumpling mixture is carefully molded around them.  They are steamed and served hot. 5+ out of 5 stars.  Yes, indeedy!

This restaurant also serves a dessert soup dumpling:  chocolate and Nutella.  I can’t eat most tree nuts nowadays, and in any case I’ve always loathed hazelnuts (Nutella), and had no desire to find out if hazelnut now also has the same horrid biological effect on my gut… so I declined the dessert dumpling.  If I’m going to play Russian Roulette with my biology, it would at least have to be with something I crave!  I’m given to understand if you like and can eat them, these dessert dumplings are good.  Try them, if you can.

Each of us ordered a main to share with each other. (Thereby I decided not to order tripe… Yes, I seriously considered it…  Dad and Mom both made and ate tripe back in the day.)

My absolute favorite of the three dishes was the Ma Po Tofu.  Made with silken tofu and some veggies, this was rather soup-like in consistency, and was well-seasoned Sichuan style, with numbing ground Sichuan peppercorns.   As I do not know what the broth base was, I cannot guarantee if this dish was vegetarian or not (searching online, I rather suspect not).  I do long to learn how to make this, too.  The tofu was extremely soft and would break up with chopsticks – it was best eaten as a soup with a spoon.  Looking online, the examples I have seen so far of this dish seem different than that served at this restaurant… I want to learn how THEY made it!  Totally awesome, and along with the soup dumplings, I rank this a 5 out of five stars!

I ordered the shredded pork, bean curd and Chinese celery dish.   The bean curd (tofu) looked from a distance like slivers of portabello mushroom… it was a very hard-textured preparation.  I liked this, but the seasonings were intentionally mild.  I think I’d have preferred more of a “kick” to this dish.  (But I was intentionally trying to vary up the menu of our shared entrees.)  The pork and the bean curd/tofu and the Chinese celery worked well together to make a great meal.  This one was just shy of 4 stars.

Our other diner ordered seafood with noodles.  This was also a mildly flavored dish.  I’m not certain what the other sea life in this dish was, but there were at least shrimp.  I found it okay – but I’m not really into noodles all that much.  Especially since these lacked the textural dimensions of the “pasta” that surrounded the soup dumplings!  However, I think the dish is genuine.  I rate this dish 3 out of 5.  It did what it intended to do, but would not be something I’d order again for myself.

I am ranking this dining experience and the meals as 4.9 stars out of 5.  The soup dumplings get about a 10 out of 5…  Nothing seemed Chinese-American or over-sweetened about the food here.  I really really want to go back, and wish that it was closer to my home than it is.  (Oh, General Tso’s chicken was on the menu… but I think that was the only bow to Americanized Chinese food that I noticed…)

WHY did I not post this post sooner?  Dunno.  Life has been, well, adventurous of late.  I still do want to go back to eat more soup dumplings at that locale.

I am also planning to learn how to make soup dumplings on my own.  Somewhere down an accessible road…

 

Posted in Appetizers, Asian & Asian Influenced, Commentary, Cooking, Soups & Stews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Breakfast Today: Bacon, Scallops, Asparagus, Guinea Hen Eggs

This breakfast came together from various events…

recipe, breakfast, bacon, eggs, scallops, asparagus, paleo, whole 30

Tasty as all get-out, and simpler than it looks.

Friday, I picked up a quarter of a pasture-raised pig that I’d split with several other people (we each got a quarter).  I also took the head… yes, I’ll cook that for us here on the blog in the near future!

Yesterday, I tried the bacon (with two chicken and one guinea hen egg, asparagus and mushrooms…) and it was awesome!  Last night:  pan fried pork chops, also awesome!

recipe, breakfast, bacon, eggs, scallops, asparagus, paleo, whole 30

This bacon is a star!!!

The guinea fowl eggs:  Found at the farmer’s market on Saturday.  Naturally, I snagged a dozen.  Only $3 for the pack.

The scallops:  Sea scallops, on sale big time, for $9 a pound yesterday.  Now, you have to be careful buying scallops because a lot of them have water and stuff added, and sometimes they aren’t really scallops at all.  These cooked like they were dry (nice browning effect), and they certainly had that scallop flavor.  I will go back today to buy more, as it is the last day of the sale.  Scallops freeze well.

The cilantro:  At the same farmer’s market Saturday, I caught a whiff of the stuff across the aisle while I was waiting to pay for my lettuce and scallions.  Naturally, I added a bunch in!

The asparagus:  No special story behind that; it was already in my fridge saying, “eat me or compost me soon”.

recipe, breakfast, bacon, eggs, scallops, asparagus, paleo, whole 30

The prep plate

This sounds like a large breakfast, but it contains nothing starchy, and I will probably eat only one more meal today, late afternoon.  No it is not something to make when you are about to head out the door for work or such; consider it a weekend idea.  However it doesn’t really take that much time to put together – most of the time was spent tracking items down in the fridge…

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  `10 minutes
Rest Time:   Not really
Serves:  the below is for one; simply scale up.
Leftover-friendly:  Nope.

Bacon, Scallops, Asparagus, Guinea Hen Eggs

  • 2 strips of high quality bacon
  • 4 sea scallops, patted dry.  
  • several (6-10) thin asparagus stalks, bottoms snapped off, and the remaining stalk broken in two.
  • 2 guinea hen eggs (or whatever eggs you like/have available), de-shelled and uncooked.
  • ground pepper to taste
  • A bit of fresh cilantro, to your preference.
  • 1 thin slice of lemon (for the scallops)

Cook your bacon on medium high heat, turning slices as needed.  Remove when done to your preferred done-ness to a paper towel to drain.

If you have excess bacon fat in your skillet, remove the excess carefully so as not to burn yourself (this bacon is lean… no excess fat today!)  Leave enough in to cook the scallops, asparagus and eggs.

Add the scallops to the pan.  Add ground pepper.  Let cook for about 1-1.5 minutes on one side, then flip to the other side.  Add more ground pepper as desired, then cook for another minute, and remove to the paper towel with the bacon.

REDUCE the HEAT!  On a regular electric range you may get impatient, but it helps for me to remove the skillet from the heat for a bit.  Have the heat at about low-medium to medium.  If it is too hot, the edges of the eggs will turn all brown, crusty and nasty.  Plus, you want to avoid overcooking the asparagus.

Add the asparagus and the eggs.  Cook the eggs however you like them – I wanted sunny side up, so after I saw they were cooking at the proper heat level, I covered the skillet so that the whites could cook through.  You can add more ground pepper if you wish.

Just before they are ready, return the scallops and bacon to the skillet (just to get them warm) and add the cilantro, just long enough to wilt slightly.

Plate your dish, putting the scallops to one side, and the eggs to another.  The rest can go anywhere.  Squeeze the lemon on the scallops (I don’t care for lemon on my eggs, not unless I am making a Greek dish…)

Eat and enjoy before it gets cold!  (Didn’t have my camera to hand, so these are phone shots, and I was more interested in eating than staging today…)

Oh, guinea hen eggs:  they taste just the same as chicken eggs, at least like pastured chicken eggs.  They are smaller, and their shells are definitely harder.  And that skin layer just inside the shell is tougher.

Breakfast is served at Fiesta Friday!  
This week’s hosts are:  Liz and Jenny!

 

 

 

Posted in Cooking | 3 Comments

Eyes of the Forest Deviled Eggs

This one would be great for Halloween, or as in this case, fun to do for a Murder Mystery Dinner, of which I participated in last this past Saturday.  Or, you could leave the decorations off, and serve just – deviled eggs!  Decorating doesn’t have to take a whole lot of time, if that is an issue.

Deviled Eggs, Paleo, Recipe

Dark and moody, do you want these faces coming up to you in a dark forest? With a murder mystery happening at the Castle that just happens to be next door?

Mom’s secret ingredients for this were Dijon mustard, and ordinary mild curry powder (no special Indian recipe, just the pre-mixed from McCormick or whatever she found handiest).  She also used dill pickles, chopped fine.  For this recipe, I substituted in rinsed capers for her pickles – I tend always to have capers in the house, whereas dill pickles are hit or miss.  Besides, the capers will come into hand, decor-wise.  Yes.

Deviled Eggs, Recipe, Paleo

I forgot to put the salt (TJ’s Pink Himalayan salt) into this photo. This Hellman’s is made with olive oil, not canola.

I prefer my yolk mixture to be somewhere between dry and liquid-creamy – I’m sort of a a moderate in my texture preference, rather like the way I prefer my weather (you can keep the 80 degree F plus temps, as well as the ice storms…)

Recipe, Deviled Eggs, Paleo

Add the basic ingredients to the eggs, getting the yolk and seasonings to the level you like. I added less capers/pickle here than I might have, as I knew the eyes and stuff were coming.  The mayo and mustard and the curry powder all increased over the basic recipe.  To my preference.

So what I’ve done here is started you off with a dry yolk mixture, to which you can add as appropriate to you and your family’s preference.  Enjoy!  And if you choose to decorate your eggs, consider the proper garment to wear serving them in!

gg-gran-

Red Riding Hood’s Grandma. I did HAVE a good granny wig, but it fell apart. Hey, it was 15 years old.  Punt. Anyhow, we had a blast at that party, and yes, Mom told me my face might freeze that way, but thankfully it hasn’t…

Cooking time:  Hard cooking the eggs, plan 12-15 minutes per batch, once the water boils.
Filling & mixing time:  10 minutes per tray. 
Decorating time:  10 minutes per tray. 
Serves: As many people at a pot luck who aren’t paranoid about EGGS! (I do gear towards pastured!)

Eyes of the Forest Deviled Eggs

  • 16 hard cooked eggs – actually I’d cooked an eggstra, as they tend sometimes to shatter when they know you need them whole, or in case one or another peels horridly.  I kept some extra on hand beyond that in case I needed to boil up more.  PS:  handy hint – add a half teaspoon salt to the water when boiling – something about the change for the better in osmotic pressure usually keeps them from exploding their guts out into the water… Anyhow, I ended up with 16×2 = 32 egg white halves, and 17 (one eggstra) yolk.  
  • 1 tablespoon, a bit heaping, of prepared Dijon mustard of quality.  I measure this visually, not actually… (Plus extra set aside if needed…)
  • 2 tablespoons, slightly heaping, of mayo.   I’ve discovered Hellman’s makes a mayo now using olive oil instead of canola.  Tastes pretty similar if not the same to me.  (Hellman’s has a different brand name on the west coast.)  Or, make your own! Again, I measure this visually, not actually.  (Plus extra set aside if needed…)
  • Three teaspoons of rinsed capers.  Or an equivalent amount of diced dill cucumber pickles – I check the labels to make certain that this is a prep with NO sugars added!  (Plus extra set aside if needed…)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, mild.  Curry flavor will depend on age of your source, and on brand.  (Plus extra set aside if needed…)
  • Set aside some powdered mustard, in case you don’t have enough mustard flavor, but in case the eggs are as moist as you will want them.  
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt.
  • For decor:  You will want to reserve some of the capers for eyes and other body parts, and you can use pimento shreds (canned roasted red bell pepper) and fresh dill for mouths, noses, hair, beards, goatees, caps, and even horns.  Other fun decorative items include black poppy seeds (freckles?), curly parsley (vary up the hair styles), and so forth.  Time and creativity are your only limits!
  • Smoked paprika, an optional garnish.  Or, maybe a blush?

One thing I didn’t mention is that for some of the eggs, I removed them from the hot water when done (turning off the range), rinsed them just enough to cool to handle, then smashed their shells against a bowl – you can use the bottom of a spoon – to crack them, added a bunch of black Earl Grey tea bags to the water still in the pot, returned them to that pot, and let them sit for an hour and a half (a few for overnight in the fridge, but they really weren’t any different), then peeled them completely, to make marbleized tea eggs.  I don’t think this addition got noticed… Sigh.  So… you don’t need to bother. 

deviled eggs, paleo, recipe

I don’t think anyone noticed that half the eggs were tea-cooked marbleized. A waste of effort, and a loss of a good batch of Earl Grey tea bags… No flavor change, either. Anyhow, I post the photo here so those tea bags didn’t give their lives in vein… 😉

Okay, now we’ve got our ingredients out and ready:  slice eggs in half.  I try to slice them so they will be as aesthetic as possible – don’t want the white part ripping because the yolk was too close to the surface – remove yolks to a separate bowl, place the white halves in a tray.  You can just use any old plain tray, but if you are planning on transporting them, they’ll travel better if they have a dedicated deviled egg tray… more on which below!

Mash up the yolks (I use a serving spoon), add the prepared mustard and mayo, the curry powder and salt.  Taste and adjust for degree of moisture and seasonings – you can always add more mayo or whatever, but you can never remove!  Don’t adjust for salt, the pickles or capers WILL add more.  Add in the rinsed and drained capers, or add in the minced and drained dill pickles.  Mix so it blends well.  Reserve some capers – enough for at least the eyes – if you plan to decorate.

I use a teaspoon and extremely clean fingers to fill the egg white halves.  Fill crevices, let the yolk mixture pile up a bit.  If you plan to decorate after, hide any extraneous capers/minced pickle so they don’t interfere with your “canvas”.

I sprinkled a touch of smoked paprika over everybody.

Then, go decorate!  Rinse and pat dry the dill strands, and chop coarsely.  Longer and shorter.  The pimento slices – I bought the already-sliced thin pimento strands, but whatever you buy, chop up accordingly.  Larger strands can make for great facial expressions.  Triangle topped bits work nicely as horns.  Just go have FUN!  The simple ones I made this time took little time.

recipe, deviled eggs, paleo

Dill – hair. Pimento – mouths and other random things.

Recipe, Paleo, Deviled Eggs

Ready, set, go. I created two trays of these.

Paleo, recipe, deviled eggs

Time for your close-up! STOP POUTING! It’s not so bad, you got et!

Recipe, Deviled Eggs, Paleo

At the event, one.

Recipe, Deviled Eggs, Paleo

At the event, two.

NOTE ON TRANSPORT!  

Years ago I had a plastic deviled egg tray that came with a lid.  This was cool, but it disappeared at some point.  Even if you don’t decorate them, you don’t want them sliding around and turning over on their way to the designated pot luck or whatever dining spot.  So, I bought a couple of deviled egg serving trays, but alas I cannot find them without lids!  Mine hold 8 eggs – 16 devils – apiece.  The slots are deep enough they won’t slide around, but there’s no way to cover them!  Oh, you can, but the yolk material will cling to the cling wrap, which is why it is CALLED cling wrap!  Or to the foil, you go that route – curses FOILED again!  This is distressing whether you decorate them or not, and I was driving 1.5 hours with them in my car!  They had to be covered, and they HAD to be kept cool!  

Innovation to the rescue!  

I bought two aluminum chicken roaster pans, which I can recycle later for… chicken.  These dishes just fit in, and the roaster pan sides are high enough that whatever I choose to cover them with won’t drip down into the yolks and be problematic.  

Recipe, Deviled Eggs, Paleo

It was a bit of a drive to the event. AND I didn’t want all my decorative work to end up annealing to the cling wrap or the aluminum foil. So, I got a large chicken roaster, and transported them that way, putting foil or cling wrap over the top of the two containers. (I did try both methods… foil was better but if you are careful with the cling wrap, this works too.) Jacked up the A/C in the car, and used boxes under the pans with flat freezer packs. Everything arrived happy and fine.  See the photos of them next to the berries, or the cheese/veggie platters, to see how they arrived!

And more:  to keep things chill, I had two perfect open cardboard boxes, one an ex-produce box from BJ’s, another a shallow box that came with some garden center foundation plants that wouldn’t be useful for much else, but was big enough for this purpose.  If you wish, place a kitchen trash bag laid out at the bottom of each box (condensation/wet), put down a few flat freezer packs, bring out your eggs in their trays in their roaster pans, and put them in the cardboard carriers atop the ice, and take off and GO!  Temps were mid 70’s outside when I arrived!  

Enjoy!

Serving these happy apps over at Fiesta Friday!  Co-hosts this week are Monika and Jhuls.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas) with Lamb

I’ve done the lamb variant twice now, and the vegan/vegetarian variant once.  I want to work with the vegan Dolmas a time or two more before I post that recipe; I found my venture to be a bit too “soggy”.  There are a lot of great-sounding vegan stuffed grape leaf recipes out there, but most seem to contain pine nuts… which I cannot digest properly any more.  Much as I loved pine nuts once upon a time!!  But at the moment, the lamb variant seems to be ready for Prime Time, as it were.

Greek, Dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, rice, lamb, recipe

Dolmas, stuffed and rolled. Keep seam side down when cooking and serving.

Lamb:  ground lamb, pastured and 100% free-range-grazed from Sepe’s Farm, Newtown, CT.  I try my best to avoid having mega numbers of multiple animals ground up in my ground meats!  Something simply feels skeevy about that!

The recipe I used can be found at The Spruce.   I made half a recipe each time, and some other minor modifications, and for the first occurrence (a Greek-themed pot luck) I made a yogurt tzatziki, adding mint to my usual recipe.

Greek, Dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, rice, lamb, recipe

Cooked and served!

Prep Time: 1.5 hours
Dolmas Cook Time:  50-60 minutes
Rest Time:  At least cool to finger-food temperature.
Serves:  a bunch of appetizers!
Leftovers?:  Yes, refrigerate up to five days, serve cold or re-heat.  Can be frozen.

Greek Dolmas with Lamb and Rice

  • water for blanching grape leaves.
  • Juice of two lemons, divided
  • About one half of a 16-ounce jar fresh grape leaves in brine.
  • 1 cup uncooked white basmati rice
  • 1 medium-large onions, chopped finely.
  • 2.5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound ground lamb (you can substitute beef)
  • about 8 stalks of fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh curly parsley, chopped.
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt (regular fine, too)
  • 2 cups of water

Rinse leaves to remove excess salt; then boil a pot of water, add grape leaves and turn heat off.  Let soak for 4-5 minutes, then drain.  Set aside.

In a half tablespoon of oil, saute onions until translucent, but not brown.

Let rice soak in hot tap water for at least ten minutes, then drain.

In a bowl, mix together onions, rice, the rest of the olive oil, 1 lemon’s juice, and the spices and salt.

Separate the grape leaves, cut off the stem with a paring knife or scissors, and add a generous teaspoon or so of mixture to the base part of the leaf – the darker green shinier surface should be on the outside of the wrap.  Fold the leaf up, tuck in the two side lobes, then continue rolling, and set the leaf with the final roll on the bottom, so the thing doesn’t unravel while cooking.

I found this video to be a wonderful teaching aid:  Rolling Grape Leaves.  I just discovered, when hunting this video back down so I could refer to it here, there are now devices one can buy that will do this onerous (?) task for you.  I don’t think they will save much time, however – they’re not automated! At any rate, pictures below!

Put a plate in the bottom of the pot you will be cooking the grape leaves in.  Put in a plate up side down – theoretically it should be close-fitting to the bottom of the pot, but I don’t seem to own such plates.  I don’t think it matters.

Add some unused, unstuffed grape leaves (ie, some of those that rip when you are separating them from each other, or that ripped when you tugged them out of their tightly-packed jar)!   This keeps the bottom dolmas from burning.  Add the dolmas, seam sides down.  One or two or three layers are okay.  Place more of the excess leaves over the top.  Add the water to cover (about two cups, generally speaking, but go by the size of your pot and the amount of dolmas.  Add the rest of the lemon juice, and more if you are so inclined.  Put a plate on top of the dolmas, to keep them from floating.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, covered.  50 minutes seems about right, but if you have three layers of dolmas, you may wish to keep them simmering five or so minutes more.

Use tongs to remove.  Serve warm, or serve after refrigeration, chilled (you can nuke them if you desire them warm later).

Greek, Dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, rice, lamb, recipe

Add a generous dollop of stuffing.

Greek, Dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, rice, lamb, recipe

Begin to roll from bottom up.

Greek, Dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, rice, lamb, recipe

Fold in side lobes of leaf.

Greek, Dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, rice, lamb, recipe

Continue rolling entire leaf, tucking in things where necessary.

Continuing the food fest at Fiesta Friday, hosted this week by Jhuls and Su.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Appetizers, Cooking, Meats | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Of Olive and Apple Trees!

Another for the annals of Future Food!  

Arrived this past weekend:

One Arbequina olive tree in a gallon container.  (Looks on the small side of a gallon, but hey…)

Four bare root apple trees, packed as a bundle.  One dogwood tree.  Seriously, I’d forgotten I’d ordered the dogwood!  (Orders went in three months ago… they ship when planting is best for one’s zone.)

Source, Raintree Nursery, Oregon.

The Arbequina Olive:

Gardening, olive trees, container plantings

Close up of the poppy-sized olives.

This one is simply PACKED with what I presume are baby olives, little things about the size of poppy seeds at this point.  I did some research on this particular olive, and olives in general.

Olives can be invasive, but this variety is cold hardy to zone 8, and I’ll be in zone 5, so no worries.  Like the citruses, it will be overwintered indoors or in the future greenhouse.

Olive fruit is very bitter directly off the vine, so that’s why olives are always sold brined. (Honestly, I’d never thought about this…  Makes sense, though!)   Mediterranean olive trees are extremely long-lived – if I take good care of this one, perhaps I’ll have a great great great great nephew or niece who will want it… although I’m not planning on any necessary inheritance this way!

The Arbequina olive is named for the region in Spain it has been propagated from, at least from the times “they” started naming things.  (I keep wanting to call it the Aquafina olive…)  This one is ripe when it has turned brown, and this variety is typically used in the making of olive oil, although it can be eaten as a fruit, too.  Um, brined…

Olive tree, Gardening, container olives

Meh olive tree photo from a distance. The poor thing has to fill out some!

If I wish to make my own olive oil, mechanical cold pressing can yield “extra virgin olive oil”.  While this may well be within the scope of my abilities here, I doubt I’d get very much from one plant, despite the number of baby olives on this one!

A Mini-Dwarf Apple Orchard:  

Apples by and large tend to need to be pollinated by other apple flower pollen from different varieties/cultivars.  There are some exceptions, but this is generally true.  Why one variety can’t pollinate another tree of its same variety… I dunno, but there you have it!

This batch from Raintree Nursery is supposed to be willing to pollinate each other with fervor (they flower at the same time).  All are miniature dwarfs, grafted onto root stock that promotes a smaller growth pattern.  Making it easier to pick than, say, waiting for deadfall.

They’re shipped out from cold storage, and there’s no dirt on their roots.  Indeed, they got wrapped in wads of recycled shredded newspaper, wetted down for the journey.  They arrived at my house while I was away, either Friday or Saturday, and I got home Sunday.  Then, they had to wait until yesterday (Tuesday the 16th of May) to get to my future home to be planted.  I was able to keep them relatively cool.

And so, we dug the holes into moist soil (lotsa rain recently), inserted plants, topped them with garden soil, and on the 17th, watered them copiously, and then I circled them with rocks, and added cedar chips for mulch.  I put in stakes using a Velcro product intended for tomatoes, to keep them attached to these stakes.  Note: chosen boundary rocks are subject to replacement over time for aesthetic reasons.

Although there’s not much growing around where these guys were planted, the soil is actually rich.  There’s been house construction and other events of soil moving!  The close row of three is probably 30 feet from the house proper.  Photo from my future bedroom.

Gardening, apple trees, mini-dwarf apple trees, homesteading

Four incipient apple trees!  It got quite unexpectedly hot today.  I bet you can guess the last tree to get cedar mulch, just from the mulch color!

Reading the above as if it were a book:  Of course, anybody’s guess which is what!!

  • The header (photo view faces south):  Cherry Cox Apple M2
  • From left to right:  Left:  Striped Gravenstein
  • Middle:  Honeycrisp M2
  • Right:  William’s Pride

The Australian Finger Lime, blooms opening!:

Check the earlier post about this tree, but about a week ago, the blossoms started to open:

Gardening, container plants, Australian finger lime

Blossoms open, Australian Finger Lime. Note pink bud center right.

 

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GF Flourless Chocolate Cake

Probably my personal mottos, but:

“Life is short.  Eat  fish and veggies first.”  – Anon?  

“How can you have your meat if you don’t eat your pudding?” – Pink Floyd?  

I had fourteen of us over at my new, almost finished, home this past Saturday night, and puzzled quite a bit over what to do for dessert.  Dessert not being something I eat with any frequency, personally, and not because of some idea I’m “depriving” myself for health – I’ve simply entrained myself not to care for sweets to the degree that most people enjoy them, but I seem to have had a start early in life in this direction.  (I’m told my parents would toss out the leftover Easter candy for Halloween, and the leftover Halloween candy for Easter – but back then I did enjoy candy corn and milk chocolate, even if I never wanted hard candies, gummy candies, jelly beans, marshmallows or the like.)

Anyhow, I settled on making a flourless gluten-free chocolate “cake” for dessert.

recipe gluten-free flourless chocolate cake

Simple and straightforward.

At any rate, this recipe may be found as: Healthier Flourless Chocolate Cake, at DetoxInista.com.

Changes I made:  I cooked and served this in a glass quiche pie pan, instead of cooking and decanting from a spring-form cake pan (I don’t own one of those, and don’t wish to).  I had to punt when I couldn’t find the honey (did I say I am in the process of moving?) and use coconut palm sugar, which is still better than refined cane sugar.

Prep Time:  15 minutes.
Cook Time:  20-25 minutes.
Rest Time:  Let it cool, then chill in fridge (although can be served at room temp)
Serves:  16.
Leftovers:  Up to a week in fridge.

GF Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (typically one bar)
  • 1/2 cup butter from grass fed cows; 1 stick in the US.  (Or, coconut oil.) 
  • 3 whole eggs, shelled.
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (mine was unsweetened, too, online from Savory Spice Shop).
  • 0.94 cups sugar (coconut palm sugar or brown sugar) + 0.2 cups water (OR if you have the honey, 3/4 cup honey!  Yes, I had to find a conversion table…)  

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in an oven-safe skillet, in the oven, for 4-5 minutes, don’t let it melt absolutely completely.  Pull it out and mix by hand with a spatula.  Pour into a mixing bowl and scrape as much out of the skillet into the bowl as possible.  (Or, you could technically add everything else to the skillet!)

Beat the eggs, add to the chocolate / butter.

Add the cocoa powder and sugar, and mix by hand.  A whisk is best, but again, not sure where mine went!   The slotted spoon worked dandy, if a little slower!

Oil and wipe down a quiche pan with a little grape seed oil.

Add the batter, spreading evenly across the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the center feels done (a little firm – it will firm up entirely as it cools).

I made this two days in advance, and stored, covered, in the fridge.

Slice to serve.  It seemed popular!  While it is relatively low in sugars, it is still VERY rich, so a little will go a long way!

P.S. – this is the very very first item I’ve baked in the oven portion
of my range in my new home!!!

Serving this up at Fiesta Friday, hosted this week by Jhuls and Su.

 

 

Posted in Cooking, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments