Friday, January 23, 2009

2009 Gluten Free and Wellness Show, Goshen IN

Mark your calendars! I had a few requests for the following information:

The 2009 Gluten Free and Wellness show will be held at Goshen General Hospital in Goshen, IN on September 12 from 10 am-2 pm. 

I spoke at last year's show, and may speak again this year. This is a really nice group of people, so if you are local, come check it out!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Whadda want to know?

"Experimental" was my favorite class in Cooking School. Well, except for the part where it was a glass kitchen, as well as, the first stop for bus loads of grannies who would rather tour cooking schools than gamble nickels in Atlantic City. 

I really like to play with my food. You would think that as a chef, the switch to gluten-free would be an epic struggle. The joy of having my health back really has out weighed any other concerns. Besides, I was already eating rice noodles with peanut sauce before I every thought of gluten free.

I need to 'fess up, though: I am taking you for granted. I assume that your transition has been as smooth as mine. I live in a bit of "food bubble". Sure, I have days when the kids are lucky to get scrambled eggs for dinner- but my family is a little warped- the three-year-old wants to go to Thai restaurants the way other people's kids want the mac and cheese at Bob Evans. 

So tell me: what are your everyday obstacles? What would make your gluten-free life easier? What is that food that you had to give up because you just don't know what a good sub is for the conventional version? Is there a recipe that has totally eluded you? Are there ingredients that you see on the shelf, but want to know if they are worth $7.99 a pound? Tell me, ask your friends: have them tell me.

The Chef Silly Test Kitchen is officially open.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Less Lasagna

This is “less lasagna” because it has less of the two things that scare us away from lasagna: fat and work! It also takes less time in the oven than a conventional lasagna because it’s baked in loaf pans. It is great made as a vegetarian dish or you can add cooked, crumbled sausage to the sauce, but either way it’s pretty good.

For the cheese blend, I like to use my food processor. If you have never seen dry curd cottage cheese, it’s very different from the regular kind. It is a lot like ricotta, but doesn’t have as much sodium, stabilizers or the weird after taste. When I bought it here in the Midwest at Meijer, it was tucked away by the dips and tubs of ready-made guacamole in the dairy cooler.

I like dried herbs in Lasagna: the fresh ones are lost in the complex flavors.

Less Lasagna

Makes 10-12 servings

DeBoles Gluten Free “no-boil” Rice Lasagna Noodles: (1) 10 oz box

Low Fat Dry Curd Cottage Cheese: (1) 1# container (or the the closest package to 1#)

Egg White Substitute: 1/2 cup- or 3 egg whites

Shredded Parmesan Cheese: 1 cup (pre-shredded okay: the green cardboard can is not)

Part Skim or 2% Mozzarella Cheese 1 cup

Onion, peeled: 1/2 of a baseball sized onion, roughly chopped

Garlic, 2 large cloves, peeled- remove if there is a green sprout in clove

Frozen spinach: 12-16 oz, thawed and drained- vary amount according to taste

Sliced Mushrooms, sauteed- 1 pound.

Jarred or canned homemade tomato sauce: about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts

Dried Basil and oregano

GF chicken- or- veggie base of you choice (optional): use about 1/2, by volume as you would to flavor broth.

Combine the cottage cheese, egg white substitute, parmesan, garlic, herbs and onion in the bowl of a food processor. If it doesn’t “spin” when you run it, add a little more egg white.

Spray 3 loaf pans with flour-less pan spray. Combine the base with the sauce, if you are using it. Layer sauce, mushrooms, spinach, cheese blend, more sauce, then noodles. You should have enough to repeat this twice in in each loaf pan. Top lightly with mozzarella cheese. I cover this and put it in the refrigerator overnight for the next day.

Bake at 350 degrees on a center rack until it is bubbly and golden on top: about 35 minutes: it should read 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the dish. 

Each loaf pan will feed a family of four, if you have other sides, such as salad and dessert. If you freeze it, before baking, wrap it tightly around all sides. Bake uncovered, mostly still frozen, at 325: it will take about 50-60 minutes. Do not pre-heat your oven. Especially if you use glass loaf pans.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

And the winners are....

Chef Silly has has been quiet lately. My computer died, and I (finally) replaced it with shiny new one, and even set up the wireless router, all by myself.

What else have I been doing? I’ve set up online classrooms for the vocational classes that I teach, and I’m in the beginning stages of putting together a cooking series for another local college. Also, yesterday, I was the floor judge for a cooking competition.  The prize was a scholarship to study in France.

It was a “Mystery Basket”, which means the competitors don’t know what they are going to be cooking before they arrive for the contest.

Eight students were chosen, and nobody backed out when they found out that I was the instructor accompanying them to Provence for two weeks in May.

Because I was not a tasting judge, I didn’t taste any of the students’ food; this event was not gluten-free.


Here’s a sampling of what some of the students did:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ode to my Rice Cooker

Bless you! Oh rice cooker
You truly save the day.

You bail me out when my
busy life gets in the way.

Bubbling and brewing
Simmering and stewing

Dinner is done
Oh joy, oh fun!

Okay- it is cheesy. Make fun of me if you must. I have a house showing tomorrow, a house full of extra kids and two who are recovering from having their wisdom teeth pulled. I also have a fridge full of leftovers that don’t connect.

Enter my rice cooker. A “top your rice” leftover buffet ties it all together. Some assembly required.

Fast Mama Coconut Rice

Rice cooker
Rice- I like basmati and buy it in 25# bags- use a cup for every 4 people
Coconut Milk (I buy the little cans- 5.5 fl oz)- about a tablespoon

Put your rice in the insert for your rice cooker. Rinse, swirl and drain until the water isn’t really cloudy anymore. Add water until it covers the rice, plus almost an inch (some people say if you stick your finger in to the top of the rice, your water should come up to your first joint- I just eyeball it.)

Stir in salt, coconut milk, and butter. Adjust your coconut milk according to taste. If you have an Asian, Indian or Pacific inspired topping, more is good.

Cook according to your rice cooker’s instructions.

Top and serve.

Be happy.