Sunday, January 30, 2011

2 Foodbuzz 24x24: Brinner and a Book

Flashback to a year ago, when the greater Washington D.C. area saw the worst snowstorm its had in years; people dubbed it the only thing logical. The snowpocalypse. D.C. and its surrounding cities experienced upwards of 2 feet of snow that shut the metro area down. It was such a big deal that whenever I enter the word "snow" into my phone it now decides to auto-fill with snowpocalypse.

Why is something a year ago relevant today you may ask? Aside from the fact that D.C. experienced another snow storm this past week that turned rush hour commutes into 8 to 10 hour events rather than the normal .5 to 1 hour routines, the weekend of last year's snowpocalypse was supposed to be my roommate Zak's birthday party. Sadly, due to people's inability to travel he had to cancel his birthday party. A year later, I came across the opportunity to participate in the January Foodbuzz 24x24, a 24 hour dinner party hosted by 24 different individuals across the world. Needless to say I was ecstatic when I learned that I could participate in this event, and celebrate my roommates birthday with our closest friends. So welcome to my first Foodbuzz 24x24 post!

When Breakfast meets Dinner...

That's where we come to Brinner and a Book. A few months ago, while out in D.C. with friends, one of my friends vocalized the idea of spending the day relaxing with friends while wearing pajamas, drinking wine, and reading books under the warmth of blankets. I then mentioned the idea of adding brinner to the event, which  is having a breakfast meal for dinner. Needless to say, we decided right then and there to have a relaxing, book reading, food eating birthday for Zak on the last weekend of January.
We all gathered together on Saturday afternoon in our PJs at my home in Northern Virginia. Zak loves exploring different types of cheeses, so we started the afternoon catching up on events post New Years with mimosas and assorted cheeses.
After a few mimosas and learning that, even in teams, Trivial Pursuit was none of our strong points (however, I did gain the quite valuable knowledge that Orville Redenbacher died in the bathroom) I decided to go off and start dinner while the others read books and explored their knowledge of Scrabble.

The Food

Breakfast for dinner gave me the opportunity to flex my creativity and turn some classic American breakfast platters into fun dinner items. The other fun twist on this meal was the dietary restriction. I found out last year that I needed to be on a gluten-free diet (which makes the consumption of many traditional breakfast dishes impossible) so I had to come up with gluten-free alternatives for some dishes. Also, I found out that some of our guests were vegetarians, so I made some tweaks to parts of the menu that I will share with you all. So, onto the first dish...

Steak and Eggs: NY Strip Steak and Bacon-Tomato Frittata

The main course of the dinner was a spin on the tradition steak and eggs dish, which became NY Strip Steaks with a side of Bacon-Tomato Frittatas.

How to Cook the Steak
Cooked the steaks using a grill pan over medium heat. Once the pan comes up to heat, spread some olive oil over the pan, and salt and pepper both sides of the steak. Cook the steaks on each side for about 5-6 minutes per side, and cover them with either a lid or a sheet of aluminum foil to capture the heat. Apply pressure with the back of a fork on the tops of the steaks to tell if they are done rather than cutting it open. If you feel quite a bit of resistance when you try to push down the steak, it should be close to done. Remove the steaks from the pan, and cover for about 5 minutes. This lets the juices of the steaks to rest inside the steaks, while cutting a steak open to test for done-ness leaks juices and dries out the steak.

The Frittata
I wanted to make a frittata instead of typical eggs or omelets to have a fun, cultural twist on traditional eggs. A frittata is similar to omelets, but has a few differences. Frittatas normally have the eggs poured into a pan, and then the fillings are added on top. Also, the eggs are not stirred when poured into the pan, allowing a crisp outer layer to the frittata. The link to the detailed recipe is located here. I've included a video below detailing how to make it, including important cooking and safety tips.

Fruit Salad with Balsamic Almonds

I wanted to make a light side dish to counter-balance some of the heavier dishes, so a light fruit salad was the logical choice to me.

-Red seedless grapes
-2 oranges
-1 crisp ted apple
-Juice of half a lemon
-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
-1 tsp white wine
-1/4 lb sliced almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread a layer of almonds on a cookie sheet, and lightly salt. Toast the nuts for about 3 minutes. When out of the oven, toss in a tablespoon of the vinegar.

1. Slice the greens off the strawberries, and slice in half. Add to a medium bowl.
2. Peel the orange, and slice into half-pinwheels. Add to the bowl.
3. Core the apple, and slice into pieces the same size as the oranges. Add to the bowl.
4. Add all the other fruits to the bowl.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the wine, juice, and remaining vinegar. Add the nuts and juice to the bowl, and lightly toss.

Sweet Potato Hash

Another iconic dish to breakfast is hash browns. For dinner, I wanted to use fresh, local sweet potatoes and flavors such as cinnamon and maple to tie in some other breakfast flavors.

-2 to 3 sweet potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
-1 medium onion, diced
-2 tbsp ginger
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tbsp cinnamon
-1/4 cup maple syrup
-dash salt and pepper

1. Preheat a deep pan over medium heat. To this add the potatoes, ginger, cinnamon, S&P, and maple syrup. Cover with a lid, and stir occasionally.

2. While the potatoes cook, sautee the garlic and onions in a tbsp of olive oil until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the onions and garlic to the potatoes, and cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring constantly, or until a fork inserted to the potatoes goes through.

All together on one plate...

When cooking all of the above, I found out that some of our guests were vegetarian, so I made one or two alterations, such as cooking an additional frittata without the bacon. The entire meal was a huge success, and everyone loved the main course and sides, especially the frittata and hash.

However, there was one more surprise for everyone. I mean, you can't have a dinner party, nor could you have a breakfast party, without some...

Needless to say that this was the star of the show. For this I used a gluten free flour blend of 1 cup white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 tapoica flour, and 1/2 tsp xantham gum. I like this blend because of the flavor and texture. Also, with this I've realized that homemade coffee ice cream is completely and utterly (ha, cow joke. get it?) amazing...

Thank you to everyone for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed preparing it. Also, thank you again to Foodbuzz for this wonderful opportunity. The recipes for the Steaks, Fruit Salad with Balsamic Almonds, and Sweet Potato Hash are included in this post, while the recipes for the Frittata and Waffle can be found here:

Happy Sunday Everyone! And...

Happy Birthday Zak!

2 Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Waffles with Hazelnut Ice Cream

The perfect blend of coffee and chocolate bliss...
Yields about 6-8 Waffles, and 5 cups of ice cream

Waffle Ingredients:
-2 cups gluten-free flour mix
-5 tbsp sugar

-1/4 cup high quality cocoa powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-3 eggs
-2 tbsp melted butter
-2 tsp vanilla
-2 cups milk

Waffle Steps:
1. Heat a waffle griddle per manufacturer's instructions.
2. In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients.
3. Whisk in the eggs, butter, vanilla, and half the milk until well combined. Add the rest of the milk and stir until combined.
4. Once griddle is preheated, add 1/4-1/2 cup batter (depending on the size of your waffle griddle), and cook until done.

Ice Cream Ingredients:
-1 cup cold whole milk
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/4 cup fresh hazelnut coffee, chilled
-2 cups heavy cream
-2 tsp vanilla

Ice Cream Steps:
1. Whisk together all the ingredients except the cream until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Once dissolved, add in the cream and whisk until combined.
3. Turn on your ice cream machine, and pour in the ingredients. Let the maker mix for about 30 minutes or until done. 

Top your warm waffles with ice cream and whipped cream, and enjoy!

0 Gluten Free Bacon and Tomato Frittata

As a part of my Foodbuzz 24x24 food event (more on that in a post later today) and my roommate Zak's birthday dinner, one of the recipes I decided to make was a Bacon and Tomato Frittata. Its a little time consuming if you make this on your own, but is a fun dish to prepare with friends and is relatively easy to make. Also, remove the bacon from the recipe for a great vegetarian meal.

Yields: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 -30 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes

-8 eggs
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 small or 1/2 medium onion
-2 Portobello caps
-1/2 red bell pepper
-5 stalks asparagus
-4 slices bacon
-1/4 lb cherry tomatoes
-salt and pepper
-2 cloves garlic
-1 tbsp white wine
-zest of one lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 350F
2. On a medium pan or griddle, cook the bacon over medium heat. The picture below shows the bacon when it is done on one side and is ready to flip. This should take about 3-4 minutes on each side. Once the bacon is crisp, remove from pan onto a plate lined with paper towels. Dab the bacon to remove the fat, and dice into pieces.

3. Prepare your mise en place of vegetables (i.e. prep your vegetables before cooking so that you can concentrate on items that are over heat to prevent overcooking or burning). Dice the onions, pepper, mushrooms, mince the garlic, and slice the tomatoes in half.
4. In a saucepan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat to medium/medium low. Once the pan is hot, add the garlic and onions. Keep them moving to prevent burning, and cook until the onions are translucent. Below is a before and after picture.
After becoming translucent

5. Remove the onions, and add the wine and mushrooms to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have begun to shrink and sweat liquid.
6. While the mushrooms cook, grill the asparagus for about 5-6 minutes over medium heat, until the asparagus begins to have char marks, and has a nice, vivid green color to them. Remove from heat and submerge into ice cold water. This will halt the cooking process so that the asparagus maintains its color and does not become mushy. Dice into quarters.

7. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and cream. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
8. Preheat a 10 or 12 inch oven-safe omelet pan over medium heat, and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Pour the egg mixture into the pan, and do not stir the mix. Start a timer for 4 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetables, bacon, and tomatoes over top the eggs. After 4 minutes, use a spatula to gently separate the edges of the frittata from the pan, and place into the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the eggs are slightly golden brown and set in the middle. Make sure to have an oven mitt on your hand when removing the pan from the oven, or else you will burn yourself. 

Helpful tip: Once the frittata is done, slip an oven mitt over top the handle. This is so that if anyone forgets to put on a mitt before touching the handle, their hand will burn.

Monday, January 24, 2011

3 Culinary Challenge: Gluten Free Stuffed Peppers

Once again, here is another Culinary Challenge! I decided to tackle the stuffed food challenge (that had to use vegetables and cheese) my roommate Zak presented to me. I decided to go the route of stuffed peppers and use Italian flavors. After finishing this and taking a few bites, I realized that its one of my favorite main dishes, due to all the robust flavors involved. Also, as I made this, I made a vegetarian version for one of my other friends, and it turned out quite well also! If you want to go the vegetarian route, replace the meat with 2 more Portobello caps. If you were to try any one of my main dish recipes on the site, I wholly recommend this one.

Serves: 3-4 people

-.5 lb thinly sliced top round
-4 oz pancetta
-2 large Portobello caps
-3 bell peppers
-1/3 cup brown rice
-1/4 cup marinara sauce
-1/4 cup red wine
-1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-1 tbsp minced garlic
-1 tbsp Italian seasoning
-1/2 cup shredded provolone piccante
-3 tbsp olive oil
-salt and pepper
-mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Place the rice in a rice cooker and cook to the manufacturer's recommendations.
3. While the rice is cooking, slice the steak, pancetta, cube the Portobello, and shred the provolone. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise. The key is dicing everything into the same size to promote even cooking and flavors. Also, be sure to do this before cooking any of it, as this will allow you to concentrate on cooking without having to worry about anything burning.

4. Sautee the garlic and Portobello in a small pan on medium heat for about 2 minutes. To this add half the wine, and cook for another 3 minutes. Expect the mushrooms to shrink in size.
5. In a medium pan over medium heat, add oil and steak. Sautee for about 2 minutes. To this add the pancetta, and a dash of salt and pepper. After another 2-3 minutes, add the remaining wine and Worcestershire sauce. Sautee for another 2 minutes before adding the mushroom mix, Italian seasoning, provolone, and the marinara. Mix and let combine for a minute.

6. To this, stir in the rice and let sit for a few minutes.
7. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Stuff the peppers with the filling, top with freshly grated provolone, and bake for 20 minutes.
8. Place the oven on broil, and remove the peppers from the oven. Cover them with thin slices of mozzarella, and place back in the oven. Place in the oven for a maximum of 2 minutes, but check after one minute to make sure they don't burn. Remove from oven when the cheese is melted and starting to bubble and brown.

Please, let me know how you believe I did! Also, I once again recommend that you make these if you have the time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

0 Gluten Free Chocolate Lemon Birthday Cake

Last night was of my friends Theresa's birthday, so myself and her roommate decided to make her a birthday dinner. As a part of that, we made her a surprise cake that ended up being rather successful. I was under a bit of a time crunch, so I decided to try Betty Crocker's gluten free cake mix and see how it turned out.  From what I could tell, I still prefer home made gluten free cakes (they taste a bit more moist than the box mix) but the Betty Crocker Gluten Free cake mix is a wonderful alternative for when you don't have time to spend making one from scratch.

The Cake

-Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
-3 eggs
-zest of one orange
-zest of two lemons
-1 stick butter
-2 tsp vanilla
-2/3 cup water

1. Prepare the cake as directed on the back of the box, mixing the zests into the batter. Fill the cake batter into two greased 2 9x9 round cake pans. Bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
2. Cool the cakes on cooling racks until completely cool.


-1/2 cup butter, room temperature
-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
-10 tbsp high quality cocoa powder
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-1/6 cup milk

1. In a bowl, whip the butter until fluffy.
2. Cup by cup, whisk in the powdered sugar until combined.
3. Beat in the vanilla and milk until a creamy consistency is created.

Cake Construction

-Lemon Curd
-Chocolate Icing
-Store-bought Icing for decoration

1. Place on of the cakes onto the center of a flat plate.
2. Spread lemon curd onto the top of the cake until fully covered.
3. Place the second cake on top of the other. Skewer the cakes with toothpicks to secure the two layers before icing them. (This prevents the cakes from sliding everywhere when you ice them.)
4. First ice the sides of the cakes with the icing. I find it easier if you use a small amount of icing as you do the sides. The less icing there is, the easier it is to control where it goes.
5. Second, ice the top of the cake, smoothing it out with your knife. Pull out the toothpicks when done.
6. If desired, decorate with decorating icing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

0 Gluten Free Oreo Milkshake

So this week work has owned me thus far, so I haven't had the most extravagant dinners this week. To make up for it, here's a simple milkshake recipe that uses the Gluten Free Oreos that I posted earlier this week, located here. Its quick and easy to make, and tastes just like (if not better) than those you'd buy at a restaurant.

-1/2 pint vanilla ice cream
-1/8 to 1/4 cup milk
-1 gluten free Oreo, crushed
-Whipped cream

1. In a blender, add the ice cream and a 1/8 cup milk. Blend, and slowly add milk to your desired thickness.
2. To the milkshake stir in the crushed cookies.
3. Distribute between 2 cups, and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

0 Gluten Free Oreos - Classic and Mocha

In the days before I was gluten-free, whenever the choice arose between Oreos and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups I would always go for the Oreos (which is a choice I happy don't have to make anymore). A few days ago one of my coworkers got lunch at a fast food restaurant that serves Oreo milkshakes, and needless to say I got the next idea for what I wanted to make gluten-free.

So after searching the internet, I came across this recipe and decided to try and make it gluten free. Also, I got a coffee maker for Christmas, so I wanted to test making a coffee filling for some of the Oreos. After tasting both, I highly recommend the Mocha Oreos vs the Classic, has a much more robust flavor.

Cookie Ingredients
-1/2 cup white rice flour
-1/4 cup brown rice flour
-1/4 cup tapioca flour
-1/4 cup potato flour
-1/2 tsp xantham gum
-1 tbsp corn starch
-1/2 cup cocoa powder (high quality such as Ghiradelli)
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 cup sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 cup and 2 tbsp butter, room temp
-2 eggs

0. Preheat oven to 350F.
1. Mix the flours, gum, cocoa, powder, soda, salt, starches, and sugar in a medium bowl until blended.

2. Cut the butter into small pieces and then blend into the flour.

3. After the butter begins to blend into the flour, add one egg. Mix until dough starts to form. If the dough is very crumbly and does not come together into a dough, add the second egg and blend until a ball forms.

4. Onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spoon tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheets. Wet your fingers with water, and smooth out the dough balls into the shape of Oreo cookies.
5. Place in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Cool cookies on a rack until cookies are room temperature.

-1/4 cup room temperature butter
-1/4 cup shortening
-2 cups powdered sugar
-2 tablespoons vanilla
-2 to 3 tablespoons brewed coffee (4 to 6 tablespoons if you want the entire batch of filling to be coffee flavored)

1. In a bowl, beat butter, vanilla and shortening until fluffy.
2. Slowly beat sugar into the butter mix. Continue mixing until light and fluffy.

3. If you are making half the batch coffee flavored, split the filling into half.
4. Whisk the coffee into either half or all of the filling, depending upon your preference.
5. Spoon the filling in between each pair of cookies and gently press into a sandwich.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1 Top 5 Recipes of 2010

In the past week I've seen other bloggers post Top 5 lists on their own blogs, and since I posted almost 50 recipes this past year, I felt it was only fitting for me to share my 5 favorite recipes of 2010.

5. Gluten-Free Chocolate Cream Pie - I created this recipe as a modernization of one of my childhood favorite desserts. Also, I personally have a bad habit of eating too much dessert, especially if I enjoy it. Therefore, my single serving chocolate pie cups were born. Link to recipe: here.
4. Gluten-Free Chocolate Ganache Cake - Chocolate is a wonderful thing. It may be why it ties with citrus as one of my favorite flavors in a dessert (any browse of this blog would prove that). Since going gluten-free, cupcakes and cakes have become virtually extinct from my diet, for better or worse. With September as a month of birthdays in my circle of friends, I decided that I had to create a gluten-free cake I could share with friends. This cake was a huge hit with friends. Link to recipe: here.

3. Sirloin Steak with Bacon Balsamic Sauce - Top sirloin and tenderloin may be my favorite protein to consume. Therefore, when given the combination of a perfectly cooked sirloin steak, crispy, salty bacon, and sweet, tangy balsamic, there's no way this recipe could miss my top 5. Link to recipe: here.
2. Gluten-Free Pancakes - I have many fond memories associating pancakes with my grandparents while growing up. Every Sunday my family would visit them, and my grandfather would cook a pancake breakfast; and not just any old pancakes, but amazingly light and fluffy ones. So needless to say, I was so excited when I finally discovered how to create a gluten-free pancake mix that would give me pancakes so close to the beloved pancakes in my memories. Link to recipe: here.
1. Gluten-Free Lime Pie - So I may be a little biased choosing this as my number 1, but I made one of these earlier this week and it was just plain awesome. The crispy graham cracker crust, the creamy, citrus-y custard, and a dollop of whipped cream make this any citrus lover's dream come true. Recipe linked here.

Alas, there is my Top 5 Recipes of 2010. Do you agree/disagree with my list? What are some of your favorite recipes that I've posted in the past year? I'd love to know, so please share your thoughts and comment on this post. Happy Humpday to all!