Gluten-Free Cooking For One

Celiac And The Single Girl, Or: How To Make Food That Does Not Suck For One Person {Although I Suppose You Could Feed Other People, Too}


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Well Hello There, Pork Pie

Sorry it’s been so long; I’m back once again like a renegade master (or something like that). If you’re not part of my soi-disant “real life”, I can both explain the break and catch you up like this: starting in mid-March of last year, I was having rather irritating pain in my abdomen. Then it started spreading and getting more pervasive, and more intense, and altogether just MORE of everything. Staring April 1, I had a period of a couple months of intense pain and not-fun-ness that can best be described by this list: 3 ER visits, 1 hernia, 1 ulcer, and 7 kidney stones. I was on opioids the whole time, so my memories of last Spring are cloudy to say the least. Then in May, I got a job. About the time I started feeling competent there, I got promoted, and had functionally two part-time jobs, both in retail, just in time for Fall and the start of the holiday sales push.

I feel like I’m now coming up for air, a bit…so it’s time to start cooking again! Hopefully I won’t celebrate the Solstice with another season of WTAF IS HAPPENING TO MY BODY.

My eating habits are largely informed by what I’m watching on TV; when I’m obsessed with medieval history (this happens often – for example, Wolf Hall is on pretty much endless repeat over here. Or any of the “Farm” shows from the BBC, and Tudor Farm and Green Valley are two favorites.), I want to eat what’s in the TV shows. I tend to pick up handicrafts that go with the period (blackwork embroidery and weaving). When I’m watching Regency shows, the same applies. Recently, I’ve been binge-watching “Escape To The Country”, a show about people from British cities escaping to the countryside and buying rural homes, all with lovely budgets. The landscapes are to die for, and the shows include a bit of local history and color, so that also hooks my interest. Last week, I watched one where they went to Melton Mowbray and tried the pork pies, which are a historical regional specialty. Pork Pie action here.

If you can’t see where this is going, I’ll be quite surprised.

I could say I made pork pies in honor of Pi Day, but I didn’t. I made them in honor of my utter lack of ability to resist food in TV shows.

The first pie, the tester, was – well, it wasn’t bad, but it lacked flavor. So tonight I made another, and I think this shows a lot of promise.

Here’s a loose recipe. I never really do a very good job of measuring until the third of fourth time I make something, and this is still Tester Town, so expect some inaccuracy.

PORK PIES (gluten free, of course)

1 lb pork (use a cut you like. I found pork roast on sale and used that)
bacon, lots (I used uncured, about 1/2 a package)
sweet onion
shredded cheddar cheese
mashed potatoes
apples, sliced and peeled
salt/pepper
garam masala
whatever other spices rock your boat

METHOD

I start by chopping up the raw bacon and pork (I cube the pork). Also, chop the onion (I like a rough, uneven chop). I sliced and peeled red apples (can’t remember what variety, use one you like; mine are fairly sweet but still crisp and a little tart).

I fried up the bacon and the pork until they were fairly well cooked, while preheating the oven to 425F. Last time, I sauteed the apples and onions until they were soft, but I felt the pie lacked definition and was kind of a mushy soft whatever, so this time I left the apples and onions raw. Will let you know if that was a good idea. 😀 I like to add my spices to the pan, so I threw garam masala (sweet/spicy mix that has cinnamon and lots of other goodies in it), salt, and pepper in while I was cooking the pork.

I didn’t want to use a pie dish a) because I didn’t want a pie crust and b), I had waaaay too much stuff inside for a pie pan. So I started layering the items in my beanpot (normally used for applesauce and baked beans). Pork, apples, bacon, cheese, some onions. Repeat.

On top, I spread the mashed potatoes like a lid (well – last time. This time, I didn’t have enough mashed potatoes and I made them too runny; so I kind of poured them into the pie. Hey, it’s still potatoes. lol) and then put cheddar cheese on top of that.

Put the lid on, then put the whole shabang into the oven for about 20 minutes, and after turning the oven off, removed the pot lid so the top could brown up. When I brought it out, it was bubbling and gorgeous. Be warned, there will be lots of juices in this pie as the inside cooks down. I like it, it firms up into a gorgeous sort of jelly in the pie. You might not be a fan.

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looking FAB despite its lack of lid

It smells amazing. I’ll let you know what it tastes like after it cools and sits for a while.

Snaps!

my assistant is eagerly waiting to try our creation

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Rice Cooker Kichari

Yummmmm!!! I just finished making this, and it’s delicious. Much creamier than my normal kichari, because my stove-top pot is too small for a proper batch, and it boils all over.

Well. So did this.

But the end result is worth it, and I didn’t have to stand there and *watch* it boil over. I was in the other room, doing something more productive while it boiled over. 😀 I’ll figure out how to fix the boiling over thing, but in the meantime, if you don’t mind a bit of a mess, this is THE STUFF here.

I took half a cup of mung beans (split and shelled) and half a cup of rice — completely forgot to soak either, but it worked out juuuust fine, except for the oft-mentioned boil over — and put them in the rice cooker with my standard 2 cups of water (for cooking rice). After a moment’s pondering, I added another cup or so of water, just for good measure and so I wouldn’t scorch the pooptarts out of my rice cooker. Plugged it in, turned it on. Left it alone. (My rice cooker only has one setting: “on”, so no complexity here).

In the meantime, I’d put some olive oil (I’m out of ghee) in a saucepan and started it heating, and chopped up a large potato and put that in the microwave to cook. Sautéed sliced onions and some garlic with cumin seeds in the oil,then added a dollop (about 1 Tbsp) of bacon grease from the fridge. If you’re veg, then this is not for you. :} Sorry. I wanted a little more richness than I could get with just olive oil. Added turmeric, curry powder, salt, and some other goodies – what I had on the counter – and let the onions get soft. The potatoes dinged, so I threw those in too, to get the benefit of the spices and oniony-ness and good mojo. Let that finish up for a few more minutes, then turned it off and went to weave in the other room.

Shortly thereafter, I heard the ungentle hissing of an epic boilover, but I really couldn’t be bothered to get up and check… what could I do, other than wring my hands and say “oh, dear, it’s boiling over”? After about 20 minutes, the rice cooker clicked into its warm cycle, and I bustled into the kitchen to move it to another bowl before it could crust to the surface of the rice pan. Put in oil, onions, garlic, and potatoes, and stirred. After I combined the mixtures, I tasted it – needed more spices, so I added them to taste.

The texture is smooth and creamy, unlike the slightly crunchy way it turns out on the stove. It’s pretty bodacious and I am gleefully happy with this recipe. HOORAY!!


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Crockpot Butter Chicken

I’ve been planning to try this for a while, and today was The Day. I picked a slow cooker butter chicken recipe and here we go.

The recipe I’m trying today is this one:
http://www.chefdehome.com/Recipes/597/restaurant-style-butter-chicken-in-slow-cooker

restaurant-style-easy-indian-butter-chicken-slow-cooker-chefdehome-4

This is chefdehome’s image — not mine.

It looks yummy, and — if the smell from my kitchen is anything to go by – will be delicious. I hate to say this, but I basically followed the recipe, so you might as well go over to chefdehome and check her recipe out. It’s already gluten free, because it has no hing (asafoetida), which is almost always cut with wheat.

Happy cooking! I’ll let you know how this is when it comes out of the cooker… can’t wait.


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Kichari (Kichdi) – mung beans and rice

Another Indian veg recipe here! It’s been a busy couple of weeks and my stomach’s been wonky, so I’ve been mostly eating potato chips and meat rolls (ok, fancy name for sandwich meat rolled up) and finally I had a minute to cook last night. Whew!

I’ve been wanting to try kichdi for a while, so last night was the night. Kichari or kichdi is a basic dish, using mung beans (moong dal) and basmati rice. In India, when your stomach’s not feeling good, they might give you jeera rice (cumin seed rice) or kichdi to soothe your system. Jeera rice is easy to make in the rice cooker – just make regular rice, and before you turn on the rice cooker, add cumin seeds that have been fried in oil just until they crackle, dump in both seeds and oil. Many of the kichdi recipes I’ve been seeing call for a pressure cooker, and I don’t have one, so I made this on the stovetop.

You can add any vegetables you have, and I love potatoes, so I added those.

Here’s a link to a proper kichdi recipe – I adapted this one, given what I had and my limited time: http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/moong-dal-khichdi-recipe/

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup mung beans, split and rinsed
1/2 cup rice
1 small to medium onion, chopped
1/4 t Ginger (I used powdered because it’s what I had – add enough for your taste)
3/4 t Cumin seeds
1/4 t Turmeric powder
Hot pepper, if you like it hot, or chili powder
Salt
Water as necessary
Potatoes, precooked and cubed – you could also use raw, but then add them in time for
them to cook
Oil

METHOD

First, rinse your mung beans and then soak the rice and beans together for about 30 minutes. I did this by putting them in a bowl with water to cover.

I put about 2 Tbsp oil (I used olive) into the pan and, after it was hot, I dropped in the cumin seeds and let them fry until they crackled. Then I put in the chopped onion and let it soften until translucent. I added my spices after the onion was translucent and then stirred well. Then I drained my rice/beans and added them to the pot, with about 2 cups of water (you’re going to cook the rice/beans in this water, so make sure there’s enough, and check back to make sure you’re not burning the bottom of the mixture), which filled my pot as full as I wanted it. I didn’t want it too full, to avoid boiling over.

Bring this mixture to a gentle boil, stirring frequently, then cook for 20 – 30 minutes, or until rice and beans are nice and soft. Add the potatoes a little bit before the end and stir well.

This mixture can be either thick and mushy or have a runnier consistency like porridge – it’s up to you and how much water you add. If you notice that it’s turning out thicker than you’d like, add more water and stir!

I served this with curd (plain yogurt or raita) and it was yummy. I did find it a bit bland, which doesn’t surprise me in food for invalids, so I’m spicing it by the bowl. No photos, I keep eating it before I can take one. lol I’ll try again this evening.

Enjoy!


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Aloo Palak, or spinach and potatoes

I had some spinach that needed to meet its Maker, and a couple of potatoes that were starting to think about becoming manky… so I searched for “spinach potatoes Indian” et voila! Here it is!

This recipe met a simple requirement: I had almost all the ingredients. I followed it pretty closely, except my potatoes refused to boil (the pan was too small and I was afraid of a turmeric boil-over, so I didn’t have them on high enough heat), so they eventually just got fished out of the pan and stuck in the microwave in a bowl on the “potato” setting. Sometimes simple is best, people. lol

A note to Celiacs and others following a strictly gluten-free diet: a lot of Indian recipes call for asafoetida, or hing. Almost all hing, from my research, seems to be cut with wheat flour. There’s one brand – I think it’s Frontier Naturals – that’s cut with rice flour instead of wheat, so that’s a very important consideration for us! Always ask at Indian restaurants if your meal will have hing in it before you order. Also, many hing labels I’ve seen in the past only list the asafoetida – not the wheat flour. So be careful!! I just leave it out of my cooking, because no amount of authenticity is worth the amount of illness that happens when I get glutened. :} One of the things I liked about this recipe is that it didn’t call for hing! 

http://www.food.com/recipe/aloo-palak-indian-potatoes-spinach-108787

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a pan cook the spinach with garlic, ginger, onions and the green chilies for about 5-10 minutes. (I waited and added the chili powder at the end, with the other spices. Also, I cooked these in some ghee, although no oil is specified.)
  2. Remove from the pan and blend to a fine puree and keep aside. (I didn’t do this; I wanted to keep it chunky. I like chunky. lol)
  3. In the meantime boil the potatoes with salt and turmeric until done, apprximately 10 minutes and set aside when done. (Yeah. This totally didn’t happen. See note above)
  4. Heat ghee in a pan, fry cumin seeds along with spinach-onion paste and simmer for a few minutes. (You want the cumin seeds to crackle!)
  5. Add the cooked potatoes, garam masala, coriander and cumin powder and a little water if needed.
  6. Simmer for few minutes till the potatoes absorb the flavor.
  7. Add fresh cream if desired. (I didn’t, but I bet this would be delish.)

I made some jheera rice (recipe to come soon; in the meantime, you can find lots of recipes for this online!) and spooned a little of the aloo palak on top. Heavenly!!

 

In the pot!

 

I’m ready for my closeup


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Ayurveda, I’m thoroughly enjoying my flirtation with you.

Recently, I sprained my ankle. I had a big dance workshop coming up in two weeks, so I followed the recommendation of a couple different people and started drinking turmeric milk: “Golden Milk” (recipe forthcoming). Then I started craving the taste of it, and realizing that I wasn’t as obsessed with sweets as usual, because something about it was satisfying that urge. And, I could feel a difference for the better in my knees as well as my ankle, which was healing very well.

So I started doing some research into anti-inflammatory foods, like turmeric, and I kept reading more and more about Ayurveda. And I thought, well, what I’ve been doing isn’t working out so well for me, so perhaps I’ll give this a whiz.

Ten days in, I’ve almost stopped eating sugar entirely (something I thought I could never do), and I’m not craving it. At all. I’ve also noticed my pain is less and my energy is higher. So, whether that’s “Ayurvedic cooking” or just that I needed more legumes and vegetables, well – I’m loving it!

The dosha I’m having trouble with, and need to eat to pacify, seems to be Kapha. My brain seems to be Vatta, which diet I have been eating for years, but my body is getting into more and more pain and trouble – and it seems to be Kapha. (I say “seems to be” because I am sooooo not an expert.) This means lots of bitter, pungent, and astringent foods: normally my LEAST favorite thing. But I thought, well, I can try the spices to start without upending my whole diet. Let’s see what we see!!

Almost immediately, I stopped craving sugar, and I’ve gone from being someone who eats cookies after every meal, has sugary breakfast, and drinks sugary beverages all day long – to not having had sugar in seven days (other than honey in my ginger tea. Ok, I did fall off the wagon last night when I was out, but they had gluten-free sticky toffee pudding and who can resist such a lure? NOT ME. lol) So I’ll be sharing the recipes I’ve been cooking during this experimental period, along with new ones I try, so if you’re curious or just love Indian food (probably the majority of what I’ll do, at least in the early days), you can come along. So far, I’ve made chickpea curry, aloo gobi, and lots of turmeric milk and ginger tea. I’ve started snacking on pumpkin seeds and almonds instead of chips. I’ve also cut dairy milk, because I’ve noticed it makes me bloaty and swollen and grumpy – although I’m still eating cheese once a day. Hey, I’m not Superwoman. And I’m sure there’s some eggnog in my future, although I may be able to find the dairy-free kind. Mmmmmm. Eggnog.

OK. So, here ends my explanation of why some of my recipes will be getting a more vegetarian, less sugary, less salty work-over in the near future. Hope that’s ok with you. Mwah and xoxo.


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Onion Rings + Honey Sesame Pork, non-Crock-Pot edition

I wanted to make the Honey Sesame Chicken recipe again today with pork, but with one thing and another, I left it too late to make in the slow cooker. So, I made it on the stove instead, and it was actually even better this way!

As a side bonus, I figured I’d fry up some onion rings as an appetizer, since I was going to be frying the pork anyway. (I miss onion rings dreadfully, and these were delicious. Hit the spot!)

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So I thick-cut about 1/4 of a sweet onion, sliced the rest thinner for the stiry-fry, and smashed 5 cloves of garlic for that as well. Mixed rice flour, black pepper, garlic powder, kosher salt, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl, and cracked one egg into another bowl. I’d heated up about an inch deep oil in a frying pan on medium heat while I was doing all this, so it was nice and hot by the time I dredged the onion ring slices in the egg and then coated them in the flour mixture. I slid the onion slices into the hot oil and let them fry while I started the stir-fry.

I heated a thin coating of oil in another pan and began frying the garlic and the rest of the onion (in thinner slices, with no flour mixture on them). Then I added ginger to the flour mixture. Meanwhile, I cubed the pork and tossed that in the flour mixture (without egg) until it was well coated. By this time the onion rings were done, so I moved those onto some towels to cool and drain, and slid the pork into the hot oil to deep fry it.

While the pork was deep frying, I added soy sauce (gluten free, of course) and sesame oil to the small pan with the garlic and onions in, then drizzled about a tablespoon of honey over that mixture, stirred, and then let it reduce for a while as I checked the pork.

As the sauce was reducing, I added about 2 teaspoons of the flour mixture to it, for flavor and to help it thicken up a bit more. Quite soon, the pork was done and so was the sauce. So I poured the sauce off into a bowl, put the fried pork cubes in it, and mixed them together. Plated a bit of that and the onion rings, and voila! It was dinner.

It was very, very good, too. 😀 I wasn’t really sure this would work without the crock-pot, so I’m gratified that it was actually a little better, in some ways.

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Especially because there were onion rings. Oh, onion rings.