2016-04-29 Fabulous Food Allergy Friday

Ginger Root. Ludicrous size.
Ginger Root. Ludicrous size. This is about 12 inches long-ways.

So I bought this giant ginger a few weeks ago on a shopping trip with Denise. But what to do with so much ginger? I admit. I bought it without a plan. After asking Facebook, my winning idea was a lemon-ginger sorbet with some spices. Someone suggested five spice, but I think I may not use all five. I’m working with this sorbet recipe and this one.

I know that we all read food labels for ingredients and the oh-so-insufficient warnings. Do you read the nutrition panels? Do you know how vague they are? Yeah. Not surprising, but also sorry.

Well, for those of us with some shellfish allergies, this plastic wrap made out of crustacean shells is going to be a nightmare. Good for the earth, bad for those with allergies, sigh.

And you thought Mary Kate and I did weird things with food ingredients – check out this guy who makes musical instruments out of food.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Shrimp and Sausage Skewers

Shrimp & Sausage Skewers
Shrimp & Sausage Skewers

I know we don’t normally feature shellfish at all, given that it’s one of the top 8 allergens, but neither Denise nor I are allergic. If you are, I’m sorry. Come back next week.

This is a quick and easy appetizer that’s pretty impressive. The key here is finding good spicy andouille sausage. I like Leidy’s, which is safe for me. The spicy sausage just slightly infuses the shrimp with flavor, but it’s also a great contrast texture-wise. Basically, your time is spent putting together the skewers (and peeling the shrimp, if you buy it with the shell on). Otherwise, this is super simple. Try it out for your next party.

Sausage and Shrimp Skewers
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 10 minutes
Sausage and Shrimp Skewers
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for about 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  3. Thread skewers through shrimp and sausage so that sausage is in the curve of the shrimp and the skewer goes through the shrimp twice.
  4. Brush a baking tray with olive oil, and then brush the skewered shrimp.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes, until shrimp is opaque and pink.
  6. You could serve this with cocktail sauce, but the flavor the the sausage and shrimp should be enough. Add a pinch of salt at the end if you need it.
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2016-04-22 Fabulous Food Allergy Friday

kitchen at the Breakers
Amazing kitchen at The Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island

Is anyone else completely jealous of the counter space in this kitchen? Granted, The Breakers was the Vanderbilt summer “cottage” in Newport, RI, so this kitchen was run by a legion of servants. I’d love ot have just the one big counter table in the middle. The Breakers is worth visiting, definitely.

So I (Mary Kate) was traveling a lot, and I can’t make hash browns in the mornings when I’m traveling. It’s granola or oatmeal for me. So I’m doing my best to make up for lost time. I think I will try this technique for great crispy hash browns.

In a grand adventure with Denise last weekend, my “I’ve-been-out-of-town-and-have-no-food” grocery trip turned into a three-ring circus adventure involving the new Saigon Market in Manchester, the new Whole Foods in Bedford, and my normal Market Basket in Concord. (I would like to note that this was in no way my fault, I just suggested checking out Whole Foods and popping in at Saigon since we would be close by and I wanted a duck, which they did not have. Sigh. Market Basket was because she couldn’t live without hash browns -D). I bought a ginormous ginger root at the Saigon, and have ginger for eons now, so I’ve been reading things like 10 Ways to Use Ginger Root. Got a favorite ginger recipe you’d like to share?

While this is not particularly helpful to me, because corn is the devil so I just bring in everything I intend to eat or drink and cart out my dirty dishes and there is no such thing as eating out for me anymore, this article might be helpful for some of you, Managing Food Allergies at the Office. It also doesn’t mention having an emergency plan, which you really need to have. 

During our grocery “adventure”, Mary Kate was talking about kebabs. Since we got the grill out this past weekend, and she got me thinking about it, I might want to try this recipe for Versatile Marinade for Lamb and Pork Souvlaki.

Have a great weekend everyone.

 

“Eggy” Burmese Tofu

"Eggy" Burmese Tofu
“Eggy” Burmese Tofu

I made this recipe from Girl Cooks World as part of a weekend of making random tofu experiments. I used besan flour (very finely ground chickpeas) and got a very smooth tofu, but it was more like a silken tofu. When I fried it in sticks, trying to emulate panisee, the interior got soft and gooey, and the outside was crispy but sort of flaked off.  When I ate it, it reminded me of vaguely of egg. So I decided to try to capitalize on that and try to improve upon it, to try to get an egg substitute to use in dishes that were pretty egg-y, quiche for example.  I thought the original texture was a little soft for what I wanted to use it for, so I kicked up the amount of flour a bit, added some Kala Namak Salt/Indian Black Salt to make it more “egg-y”, and added a bit more turmeric for color.

I’ve pan fried it with onions for a “scrambled” egg breakfast, and made a breakfast casserole/quiche-like dish with it, which will appear on the blog soon.  In the meantime, if anyone else experiments with it, and finds some good stuff to do with, please let us know!

“Eggy” Burmese Tofu

Makes a 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan of tofu.

  • 2 1/2  cups of chickpea/garbanzo bean/besan flour
  • 2 teaspoons of Kala Namak Salt/Indian Black Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 6 cups of water, divided
  • grape seed oil (or other safe-for-you-oil) for greasing the pan

Place the chickpea/garbanzo bean/besan flour, Kala Namak Salt/Indian Black Salt, turmeric, in a large bowl. Using a whisk, mix the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.  Then add 2 cups of the water and whisk until the mixture is smooth, making sure there are no lumps.

Grease your 8 inch by 8 inch baking dish with the grape seed oil.

In a wide, heavy bottomed, shallow pot, bring the remaining 4 cups of water to a boil.  Once your water is boiling reduce the heat to medium.  After stirring your flour mixture to be sure it hasn’t settled, slowly pour the mixture into the boiling water, while you stir it with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to medium-low, and continue stirring until the mixture has thickened and is glossy.  This will take about 3-5 minutes.

Once the mixture has thickened and is glossy, pour it into your greased baking pan, scraping down the pot to get all of it into the baking pan.  Smooth the top down a bit, and let it cool to room temperature. Once at room temperature, put it in the fridge for at least an hour before using.  However, the longer it sits in the fridge, the more water will drain out and the tofu will become firmer.  Although my modifications to the original recipe make it a bit firmer to start, I generally let my version sit at least 24-48 hours before using it.

"Eggy" Burmese Tofu
“Eggy” Burmese Tofu

Enjoy!

"Eggy" Burmese Tofu
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 8 by 8 inch pan 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-5 minutes 24-48 hours
Servings Prep Time
1 8 by 8 inch pan 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-5 minutes 24-48 hours
"Eggy" Burmese Tofu
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 8 by 8 inch pan 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-5 minutes 24-48 hours
Servings Prep Time
1 8 by 8 inch pan 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
3-5 minutes 24-48 hours
Ingredients
Servings: 8 by 8 inch pan
Instructions
  1. Place the chickpea/garbanzo bean/besan flour, Kala Namak Salt/Indian Black Salt, turmeric, in a large bowl. Using a whisk, mix the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Then add 2 cups of the water and whisk until the mixture is smooth, making sure there are no lumps.
  2. In a wide, heavy bottomed, shallow pot, bring the remaining 4 cups of water to a boil. Once your water is boiling reduce the heat to medium. After stirring your flour mixture to be sure it hasn't settled, slowly pour the mixture into the boiling water, while you stir it with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to medium-low, and continue stirring until the mixture has thickened and is glossy. This will take about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Once the mixture has thickened and is glossy, pour it into your greased baking pan, scraping down the pot to get all of it into the baking pan. Smooth the top down a bit, and let it cool to room temperature. Once at room temperature, put it in the fridge for at least an hour before using, but is best at 24-48 hours.
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2016-04-15 Fabulous Food Allergy Friday

20160410_171831
Newly pruned apple and pear trees at Denise’s

So it’s that time of year where  I (Denise) start gardening in earnest.  This year we attended a demo to learn how to prune our fruit trees, grape vines,  and blueberry bushes, held by the UNH Cooperative Extension.  As a result we’ve been hard at work pruning.  Check out what resources your state has if you’re into gardening or raising yourself some safe food. 

I’ve been putting in a ton of flower bulbs, which makes no sense because it’s not food, but I like the decorative effect.  Speaking of decoration, someone needs to get me this dragon for the garden. (I have seen a remarkable number of dragons in the past few weeks. A few were in gardens. Hmmm…. -mk)

I have been traveling a lot, and I am missing my morning potatoes intensely. I think these aloo pakora might help.

I don’t know how you feel about goats and Starbucks coffee, but…THIS happened.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Blood Orange Flounder

Blood Orange Flounder with baked asparagus and jasmine rice
Blood Orange Flounder with baked asparagus and jasmine rice

Fish! I’m sorry for any of you who have fish allergies. I promise that we have plenty of non-fish recipes for you — hit the search bar up in the right-hand corner.

I’ve recently discovered the Yankee Fisherman’s Co-operative in Seabrook — I’m pretty sure that the fish comes in the dock off the back and you take it right out the front door. It is FRESH. So when I was there and the flounder looked amazing, I figured I should learn how to cook flounder. Even if he was Ariel’s best friend.

Flounder’s a very light-flavored fish, but it’s denser than tilapia, but not as “stiff” as cod. I liked it a lot. Because it’s a thin fillet, I decided to do parchment paper packets and citrus to add some flavor and keep the fish moist. I’ve layered the fish fillets over slices of blood orange, used the zest and some fresh thyme over top. Wrapped in parchment, the fish takes only about 15 minutes to cook to tender perfection.

(I wrote directions for folding the parchment in the recipe, but if you want it to be really pretty, check out this tutorial.)

Blood Orange Flounder, pre-baking. Zest and fresh thyme on top, and I swear there are whole orange slices beneath.
Blood Orange Flounder, pre-baking. Zest and fresh thyme on top, and I swear there are whole orange slices beneath.
Blood Orange Flounder
Print Recipe
This light, tender fish is cooked in parchment paper packets with citrus to infuse flavor and prevent drying out.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 15 minutes
Blood Orange Flounder
Print Recipe
This light, tender fish is cooked in parchment paper packets with citrus to infuse flavor and prevent drying out.
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
15 minutes 15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. My flounder was two fillets, so I made two separate parchment paper packets. You need sheets that will fit your fillet, longways, with at least 4 inches at either end.
  3. Layer 2-3 slices of orange (enough to support most of the fillet), with the fish fillet on top. Then sprinkle zest and fresh thyme over the top of each fillet.
  4. Fold the parchment packets. This is what I did -- pull the width-wise edges together and fold over twice. At each end, fold the corners in (like wrapping a present) and fold under at least two times, more if your length allows.
  5. Place the packets on a baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes, and then test the fish with a fork to see if it is flaky. I served this with jasmine rice and asparagus baked at the same time as the fish.
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2016-04-08 Fabulous Food Allergy Friday

"World's Tallest" filing cabinet -- or at least the tallest in Vermont
“World’s Tallest” filing cabinet — or at least the tallest in Vermont

In honor of our day jobs as bureaucrats (and Mary Kate’s upcoming conference presentation on the same) can I present a really tall file cabinet from Vermont?

For traveling, what do you pack for snacks? Here are some non-allergy ideas, but what do you take? I pack at LOT of cashews and dried fruit, I usually make a rice-based vegetable dish to eat on the plane, and I try to bake some cookies or something so that I don’t feel deprived. For the stay, if I’m in a hotel, I always pack instant cereal (usually oatmeal, but who knows what I’ll do going forward) and tea bags (I’m particular about my morning tea).

I am not sure I’ll be anywhere that I can see or order a sushi burger any time soon, (though I did see a sushi burrito, finally) but I think I have to try this sushi rice bun idea. I am not sure I’d bother with the top bun, but the bottom one would be a great base for food.

In science news there’s  a new study from researchers at University College Cork, that our gut microbes might affect the structure and function of the brain, by regulating myelination, the process by which nerve fibers are insulated so that they can conduct impulses properly.

And here’s a piece on food fraud from NPR that made me very unhappy although it’s fairly short on detail. It’s getting to the point that unless I made it myself, I don’t trust what’s on the label to be what’s in the package. And to make it worse, you can search the food fraud database to see what’s been reported out there. Ugh. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

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