Friday, November 12, 2010

Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Resturant, Cafe and Specialty Store

     Ever since my brother was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, we have been on an eternal search for Gluten Free restaurants.  The Gluten Free Restaurant Guide by Triumph Dining is a great tool but finding it yourself is just as rewarding.  Ever since we found Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Restaurant, bakery and cafe, our confidence in outsiders making safe and delicious gluten free food has been overwhelmed.  We are always looking for excuses to visit Sherry Lynn's!
     Sitting at a table, set in a Halloween decor just adding to its charm, I experienced something new.  There is some kind of camaraderie here, knowing that every other person there at the restaurant shares the same difficulties when eating out and can now enjoy a perfectly safe and enjoyable meal, because they are all Celiacs! 
     Now for me, being a deadly gluten eater (insert booing here), I get to enjoy sharing food all the time.  At a restaurant I can just slide my plate over for one of my other gluten eater friends to try, without a care in the world.  For Celiacs, and others with food allergies, that is a different story.  Remember when you were young and could not eat the ice cream cake for your friend's birthday?  Remember after that business meeting when all your friends were going out to get a drink and a bite to eat?  If you have food allergies, you know what I'm talking about.  This whole mentality changes in a gluten free restaurant.  You can literally pass your plate to someone else and not have to worry that they are going to use a contaminated fork or spread the gluten cream sauce sauce all over your GF steak.  In a gluten free restaurant you can actually have a plate passed to you, and you can try it!!  This was something that I could experience first hand and I could tell how much it meant to my brother.
     We started out our dining experience with warm fresh mozzarella sticks with red marinara sauce and French Toast Sticks with maple butter syrup.  Got to try a bit of everything especially since everything is Gluten Free!!  I have to apologize for the poor picture quality, these photos were taken with my phone.

 

     I have to say that I was greatly impressed with both appetizers.  The breading on the mozzarella was crispy and flavorful while still retaining its shape, which for something that is gluten free is surprising.  And that warm stringy cheese inside mmm...! The French Toast Sticks were fried and crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  I have to say that Aunt Jemima's Butter Rich Syrup is just one of my vices, so to have it with the French Toast Sticks, there was no way I wouldn't like them!
     For the main course my brother ordered a Phillie Cheese Steak on a gluten free bun.  I ordered a Ham and Swiss Cheese Panini with mustard and our mom got the Turkey Panini with American Cheese.




     I have suddenly had a great palate revolution and now I crave foods that have mustard or even better, horseradish! So I was plenty happy with my Panini.  The bread seared well on the Panini press but was not like a rock and had good texture.  My brother greatly enjoyed his Philly Cheese Steak, especially since it was the first time he had ever had one.  In a past visit, I got one and I remember that the onions and steak were cooked perfectly together with two big slabs of American Cheese (my favorite, Craft Singles all the way! Just another of my vices.) all on two fluffy, flavorful GF buns.  Yum.  My Mom also enjoyed her Turkey Panini which was much like mine, except the mustard.
     Conclusion: Sherry Lynn's has good Gluten Free food that everyone enjoyed, including the gluten eaters!  For more information about Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free Restaurant, menus, directions and more, visit their website here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day Four - At The Kitchen Table with Julie Gale

This is Day Three of my Practicum
To read the Introduction to my Practicum click here.
To read Day One click here.
To read Day Two click here.
To read Day Three click here.

    Today, the last day, we moved to a more Indian style of food.  We made Bisteeya with shredded chicken, cinnimon, sugar and phyllo/fillo dough, Tamales with grilled zucchini and Masa Harina Masa, Carrot Pudding or Gajar Halva with carrots, cream and molasses and lastly, Green Beans with coconut and red pepper flakes.




  The Bisteeya were fun to make since we used a few ingredients I had never used before.  Ghee I learned is butter that has the proteins and other by products taken out so that the mixture does not have to be refrigerated and can stay in room temperature indefinitely.  I don’t remember if I have ever worked with phyllo dough before.  I was amazed at the paper thin quality and delicacy of the dough.  It has to be worked with quickly but gently; if left out for a matter or minutes it will become dry and be unusable.  The Bisteeya are made in muffin tins to create their shape, and are filled with a layer of phyllo dough.  Then poached chicken, marinated in many spices and herbs, is put into the muffin tin, along with a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar.  This was one of my favorite meals we made, the combination of the spices, chicken and cinnamon sugar was out of this world. 
 

   Tamales are made from a special corn meal flour specifically made for making Masa Harina Masa.  The Masa Harina Masa and the grilled zucchini are placed into a dried corn husk that has been re-hydrated in hot water.  There are many different folding techniques, some more intricate than others; we opted for a simple one.  They are then steamed until the Masa Harina Masa pulls away from the corn husk when unwrapped.
    The Carrot Pudding was by far the best thing we made during the whole week.  Grated carrots, milk and cream cook for one hour, until soft and the dairy has thickened.  Then spices, molasses and brown sugar are added and it is all cooked until it pulls together and becomes thick.  The mush like texture, spices and creaminess all blend together for an amazing dessert.  Julie and I both agreed that this was the best dish we had made, and was one we would be making again in the future.


      
    The Green Beans with coconut is a new way to prepare green beans.  Green beans and coconut are separately pulsed in the food processor, and then are combine in a frying pan with spices and red pepper flakes for a kick.  The green beans had good flavor but I think that they could have used more coconut to complete the dish.


Conclusion:
    The practicum was a great experience.  I learned many things about Asian and Indian flavors plus new cooking techniques and ingredients, all things I will use in the future.  It was great to work with Julie.  She was helpful, knowledgeable and fun to be around.  We shared similarities in our palates, enjoying certain flavors more than others.  As I have always known, cooking and food is a big part of my life and even if I choose not to follow it as a career, I know I will still cook and bake throughout the rest of my life.  Thanks Julie for everything!

Day Three - At The Kitchen Table with Julie Gale

This is Day Three of my Practicum
To read the Introduction to my Practicum click here.
To read Day One click here.
To read Day Two click here.



    Today we began with Polenta stuffed Mushrooms with thyme, Beef Empanadas with pine nut and ginger and lastly, Rødgrød med Fløde (Danish) or Red Fruit pudding with cream, which included raspberries, almonds and heavy cream.



    To begin we washed the mushrooms under cold water.  It is greatly debated whether to wash mushrooms directly under water or to ‘sponge’ or ‘dab’ them with a damp paper towel.  Julie said that she saw a scientific study that showed that while the mushrooms washed under direct water did absorb more water, the overall amount was minuscule compared to ‘dabbing.’  Making the Polenta was fairly easy, we just had to avoid clumps by slowly adding the corn meal, while constantly stirring.  Personally I do not care for mushrooms, and once they were stuffed with the polenta they were not that bad.  I would eat just the polenta any day though!





    The Beef Empanadas were time consuming, because each individual empanada took time to fill, fold and crimp.  While I thought that the encasing dough was a little dry, it grew on me, and I realized that this was the way they were meant to be prepared.




    The Rødgrød med Fløde was very simple but packed with flavor.  We put fresh raspberries in the food processor and pulsed until smooth.  We put the mixture through a fine sieve to separate the seeds from the fruit.  This mixture was refrigerated and then later topped with heavy cream and sliced almonds.  We both loved the intense raspberry flavor but decided that if the cream were to be whipped, it would add a new light texture which would compliment the dense raspberry pure.

Day Two - At The Kitchen Table with Julie Gale

This is Day Two of my Practicum
To read the Introduction to my Practicum click here.
To read Day One click here.



    We began the next day by looking at more Chinese, and Asian flavors, making Pork Potstickers with a Chinese five spice, Shrimp Showmi with bean sprouts and Spring Rolls with jicama, carrot and cucumber. 
 

    Pork Postickers get their name because of their unusual cooking method, that if not done correctly will end up sticking to the bottom of the pan, hence their name.  First the filling is made with ground pork, leeks, Chinese five spice and assorted vegetables.  The Chinese five spice consists of cinnamon, anise seed, cloves, ginger and fennel seeds.  Then the filling is placed into a dough like wrap, which is then folded in half enclosing the filling inside.  The Postickers are then put into a pan with oil where their bottoms are fried.  This is where things get interesting, water is added to the pan, almost submerrging the Potstickers.  The lid is put on and they steam.  After a few minutes they are uncovered, and the water is allowed to evaporate, and the bottoms  fry again.  It is during this second frying that they like to stick to the pan so specific timing is important.

 
    The Shrimp Showmi, is made with the same dough like wrap but this time the filling is made with shrimp and bean sprouts.  The filling is put into the center of the dough, which is pushed up around the filling to encase it, where it is tied with a chive, to hold it together.  They are then steamed in a traditional Chinese steamer.


     The Spring rolls were made with jicama, cucumber and carrot tossed in a bath of cherry vinegar.  Then this mixture is placed inside a Chinese Spring Roll Skin along with a spoon full of Chinese noodles that look like angel hair pasta.  All the ingredients are wrapped and then rolled into logs.

Day One - At The Kitchen Table with Julie Gale

This is Day One of my Practicum
To read the Introduction to my Practicum click here.




    I arrived at Julie Gale’s house, after following her by car from school, nervous but intrigued.  First of all Julie lives on a beautiful country road, with very little traffic, that is the perfect mix between the convenience of a paved road with the beauty of nature.  Her house is a sage green and pastel yellow, and is perfectly situated on the lot, which has been recently tilled and will soon be covered in grass.  Lastly she drives two gorgeous cars that some day will be sitting in my driveway. 
    As I get out of the car I am greeted by Julie’s small bulldog named Sadie, who comes awkwardly waddling up to me, huffing and puffing.  We walk down to the second building next to the house, which I guessed to be her teaching kitchen, followed by Sadie. 
    Inside I am slapped with the care put into this kitchen.  The walls are a hazelnut brown, while the peaked ceiling is covered by a green metal, that has been pressed with designs.  Natural light shines in from the two walls of windows, that overlook the new pond, and sky lights.  Baby plants are nestled in the corner under the supervision of a dim light.  Antique carts and a black antique shopping cart, are filled with cooking tools and machines.  The speckled concrete island sits in the middle of the small but cozy space, with a built in sink.  The grand stainless steel, two oven, six burner range sits in the corner.  Behind it that wall is covered in tin siding, also imprinted with designs, which protects the wall behind it from splatters.  The small freezer and microwave and checkerboard butcher block all sit next to the range.  It was perfect.
    We began the morning by making, Fresh Mayo with organic eggs, Pannacotta with strawberries, fresh black pepper and balsamic vinegar and lastly Pain de Mie, a dense French bread. 
    The fresh mayo took a lot of time even though it was fairly simple ingredient wise.  It took a lot of patience to slowly, I mean slowly, add the olive oil to the eggs and wait for the two to emulsify.
    The Pannacotta was amazing once finished.  Pannacotta is made with cream, yogurt and a thickener like gelatin.  We let this cool in muffin tins, in the fridge, overnight.  The next morning we made the topping which consisted of strawberries, balsamic vinegar and black pepper.  We soon realized that the pannacotta did not set up properly and was more of a custard consistency but with the strawberry marinade topping it was just out of this world. 
    Lastly the Pain de Mie, which is a French bread that is allowed to rise three times before being put into a pan.  Special pans are used when making Pain de Mie, to suppress the dough from rising while baking to make a dense bread.  Since we did not have these specialty pans we used a baking sheet over the pan, weighted down with a wok.  Once it was finished we both decided that it had a good texture and a somewhat neutral taste for a sandwich but may not be worth the work to make it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My One Week Internship with Julie Gale

I know we are trying to stay gluten free here but this was one experience that I just had to share.  Even though these recipes are not gluten free, some of the ideas and techniques could be helpful.

I was planning on posting this months ago but forgot, now here it is!     
     As the sight of summer vacation became visible over the dark horizon, my high school internship was coming up.  As part of this years requirements every student must go and find a profession, job, career, whatever you want to call it, that each individual finds interesting.  For one week every student is supposed to work with their "mentor" and learn about their career.  Now usually when school projects come up I am less than thrilled to partake in boring events but this was different.
      So a few months before the set practicum week, I began to think about what I was interested in.  Obviously I love food (in case you could not tell), and besides a new obsession with cars (does every teenager go though a car stage or is this real? :)), I could not think of anything else I wanted to pursue. 
      I have always been fascinated by wine making and since there is a winery somewhat close to my home, I wanted to check that out and see if I could do my internship there.  After contacting the owner of Chatham Hudson Winery and sending multiple emails back and forth, we realized that the practicum week was not the best time to visit because it would be the wineries "down time," and nothing would be happening.  The owner Dominique De Vito was very nice and understood that I was there to lean, not get wasted.  Dominique invited me to come for the internship in early fall, when school begins (I don't even want to think about school starting again, I'm just trying to get through this year!).  So I will post again about that adventure when it comes.
     Back to the real story, after contacting many other people and either not hearing back or them not having the time, I was left one week before the practicum without a practicum!  When this finally dawned upon me, I almost had a cow... wow that sounds a lot more disturbing in writing than it does out loud... anyway... I went back to the drawing board.
     With the help of my mom, yes I turned to my mom for help, we found a woman named Julie Gale in Hillsdale that owned her own teaching kitchen called At The Kitchen Table.  In the beginning I was not sure if this was going to work out because Julie was only teaching on specific weeks, and just my luck she was not teaching on my practicum.  I though this meant a no go, but I decided to contact her anyway.  And to make a long story short, it worked out!  After the tenth email everything was worked out and we arraigned to meet every morning at 8:30am at her house to test recipes. 
     As part of the requirements of the practicum we had to write a journal of our days work.  I am going to copy and paste my journal, each day as a different post so you can see some of the amazing things we made!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it.  Thanks Julie for everything!

To read Day One click here.
To read Day Two click here.
To read Day Three click here.
To read Day Four click here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lemon-Ricotta Fritters with Lemon Curd

        I have been collecting recipes in my own scrap book for years, and its gotten to the point where there are too many recipes to look through every time I want to make something, so recipes tend to get lost.  I have been wanting to make this recipe for ever, so I was happy to finally be able to make it. 
        The funny thing is that I totally screwed up the recipe for the Lemon Curd.  It makes a lot and I did not want any of it to go to waste, so I wanted to halve the recipe.  But like always when you are halving anything, the chances of getting the measurements wrong, double.  So when I made the Lemon Curd, I put the full amount of lemon juice and zest, which made a very strong curd.  So to all you readers who are thinking of halving the recipe... write down the halved measurments so as not to mix them up.
        This recipe worked out very well using Pamela's Baking Mix, and came out light and fluffy.  I have not tried this recipe with any other kind of flour but feel free to experiment, and hopefully sometime soon I will have the recipe converted using another kind of Gluten Free flour. 


This recipe is courtesy of Martha Stewart

The fritters taste best when served immediately after frying.

FOR THE CURD:

8 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
4oz (½ cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


FOR THE FRITTERS:

4 cups vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1 cup flour (I used Pamela’s, and have not tested the recipe with any other kinds of flours yet.)
[If using another Gluten Free flour without any leveners you will need: 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon course salt.]
4 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pound ricotta cheese, drained
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners sugar for dusting


TO MAKE THE CURD:

        Prepare an ice-water bath. Combine yolks, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 9 to 10 minutes.  This process can be very annoying and time consuming but once it begins to thicken, you will be glad for the wait, just stay patient.  Remove from heat, and add butter, stirring until it melts. Immediately strain through a fine sieve into a nonreactive bowl. Set bowl over ice-water bath, and place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour or up to 3 days.



 As you can see here, I also messed up the order of ingredients and added the butter when I was not supposed too, but the recipe still came out amazing.  I love forgiving recipes.

The curd in an ice bath, now most of the ice cubes melted.
See how it thickened and falls off of the spatula rather than runs off, thats how it should be.


 
TO MAKE THE FRITTERS:

       Heat oil in a medium saucepan to 350°. Since I did not have a thermometer, I just guestamated the temperature and went with it.

        Mix together eggs and granulated sugar in a large bowl until just combined. Add ricotta, lemon zest, and vanilla and stir until well combined. Add flour and stir until smooth.

        Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, carefully drop a few balls of dough (maybe about 6, depending on the size of the saucepan) into the oil. Cook, turning about 2 times until golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes total. My experience was that they liked to turn themselves sometimes, so they may just need a little encouragement. Adjust heat as necessary to maintain temperature of the oil. Scoop the fritters out with a spider strainer spoon, and place onto a sheet of paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place onto a plate and dust with confectioners sugar. Serve with the lemon curd.


 
Eggs, granulated sugar, ricotta, lemon zest and vanilla in a bowl to be mixed.

 
The ingredients mixed together make a creamy, smooth sort of batter.
 
With Pamela's added it becomes more stiff and like a wet dough.
 
It should hold more or less into a shape and should not run, as is illustarated with the fork shown above.
 
The beginning of the frying process.

The finished product, tender, warm Ricotta Fritters dusted with confectioners sugar with a fresh Lemon Curd.
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Cheese Tasting

        For a long time I have been wanting to have a 'Wine and Cheese Tasting.'  Me and my mom did some major cheese shopping and came home with a boat load of dairy products.  We cut, arranged and placed the cheeses on all of the decorative plates we could find.  We all admired our work for a moment, in slight awe, then we began!
        Sadly I don't remember the intimate details of our cheese tasting because it was almost a year ago.  But I know that there were some we enjoyed and some we did not.  We had a collection of cows, goat, and I think we even had a sheeps milk cheese.  We had a French Raclette, a cave aged Swiss Gruyere, Havarti and a Baked Brie with Honey and Walnuts.  We also had a goats milk Honey Lavender Formage Blavac and a goat milk Les Pyramids, white pyramid and a cows milk Savory Coeur a la Creme.  We also put out GF crackers, toasted bread, cashews, pecans, red and green apple slices and a spicy chunky mango chutney for the Savory Coeur a la Creme.
        Cheese is one of life's mysterious, decadent foods that comes in many shapes, sizes, textures, and flavors.  We enjoyed almost all the cheeses except one, Les Pyramids.  To tell you the truth this cheese was so unappealing that my mother did not want to taste more than a smidgen, and convinced me that it was not even worth trying.  That cheese did not last the night and found its home off of the table.
        I think my two favorite cheeses were the Honey Lavender Formage Blavac and the Savory Coeur a la Creme.  The Lavender cheese was smooth and so beautifuly flavored with lavender it reminded me of my childhood (I love lavender, and my mom had a jar of the flowers and I would always open the lid to smell the relaxing aroma.)  The Savory Coeur a la Creme is a cheese made of cream cheese, heavy cream with a hint of pepper and lemon.  Perfectly delectable. 
        Hopefully in the future I will be able to have another cheese tasting and we will be as fortunate as the last time to have the majority of the cheeses be enjoyable.  This is something everyone should do.  It brings the family together around the table sharing, buffet style. 



French Raclette, cave aged Swiss Gruyere and Havarti.

Baked Brie with Honey and Walnuts.
Honey Lavender Formage Blavac, and Les Pyramids white pyramid.


Savory Coeur a la Creme.
 

The Savory Coeur a la Creme
This cheese is so creamy and perfect that I would recomend it at any cheese tasting.  Although this is not one of my own recipes, I feel it would be cruel not to give the dish justice and tell everyone how to make it.
This recipe is courtesy of Barefoot Contessa - Ina Garten
Ingredients:
-12oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature
-1 cup Heavy Cream
-1 Lemon, zested
-1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
-1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-1 bottle chutney (Mango)
-GF crackers for serving

Directions:
Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachement and whip until it is firm like whipped cream.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick.
Next the instructions say to line a 6 inch Coeur a la Creme mold, but I know that that is not an every day kitchen tool, so just use a strainer or better yet a sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth, allowing the excess to drape over the sides.  Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Fold the excess cheesecloth over the top of the cream.  Place the mold or sieve on a plate or suspend the sieve over a small bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, unmold the creme upside down onto a plate and pour the chutney over the top, allowing it to drip down the sides, or place in a bowl on the side of the plate.  Serve chilled with crackers.
The Baked Brie with Honey and Walnuts
Brie is usually very good when warm so this simple dish makes everything better.
This recipe is courtesy of Barefoot Contessa - Ina Garten
Ingredients:
-1/4 wheel Brie
-4 tablespoons Honey
-Handful of lightly chopped Walnuts
Directions:
Preheat the over to 350 degreese F.
Place the Brie on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper and drizzle with the honey.  Bake for 5 to 7 mintues, or until it starts to ooze but not melt.  As you can see from the picture mine oozed quite a bit so be sure to place the cheese in the center of the pan to prevent it from sticking to the sides of the pan.
Serve warm with crackers.

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