Category Archives: Veggies & Fruits

Creamy Brown Rice Risotto

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Risotto.  It’s one of the dishes I first ate after being diagnosed with Celiac.  I know for some of you the idea of NOT knowing what risotto is a little stupefying, but it’s true.  It’s not really a daily menu deal in my upbringing in Minnesota (or at least it wasn’t back-in-the-day).

Since my diagnosis came just a month before our wedding and two months before our honeymoon to Rome, my Love and I were doing a little food “research” about naturally gluten free foods because the store-bought ones we were finding were….well…disgusting.

Having grown up in Chicago, my Love was much more familiar with diverse food offerings than I.  When I told him that I’d read that risotto would be easy to find on our honeymoon and that I wondered if I would like it, he chuckled.  He said that I would LOVE it and was surprised I hadn’t eaten it before.

Needless to say, we made it a mission that week to make risotto.  He made the most divine seafood risotto for me.  I had plenty for leftovers and made many a colleague jealous with my lunch the next day.  It left a serious food-memory on my taste buds.

And the slow cooking – the standing together in the kitchen and slowly stirring and stirring the risotto made for perfect time together too.  It was rather fun to stand and stir and wonder what it would end up tasting like after all that.  It was totally worth it.

But these days, my risottos are less creamy.  Mostly because I’m not standing there stirring it as much as we used to because I’m running after someone, or someone is pulling up to “help” or… well, any number of things, really.  And really, the creaminess of risotto depends heavily of two things:  (1) constant slow stirring with warm broth added regularly in small amounts and (2) the starch of the aborio/risotto rice.
Garlic Scapes

When these fabulously curly garlic scapes showed up in our CSA box last week, I had NO idea what to do with them.  The gal at the farm stand told me to saute them in butter with a bit of salt.  But I thought surely there must be something more I could do, right?

Since I have enjoyed adding fiddlehead fern to our risotto or even green beans, these garlic scapes looked like they would make handsome risotto fixings.  They have a bit of a seriously garlic sting/bite when eaten raw (I’m a taster before I cook things).  I thought the flavor would be lovely when mellowed a bit.  So I liked the idea of saute until soft/tender.  But after that, my plans went awry.

No aborio rice on hand.

Say what?  How did I do that!  It seems that the last time I picked up a bag of short grain rice I did a fabulous job.  I have short grain rice, alright, but it is brown rice.  Not so fabulously known for its starchiness.  Nor its risotto fixings.

I had to make do.  I’m not running out for rice when we have rice in the house even though it isn’t the same grain.  And besides brown rice is healthier for you as it has the whole grain and has not been stripped of the bran – or outer layer.  And you know what?  With a few cooking adjustments to my risotto recipe, it made a great risotto!

GF:  Creamy Brown Rice Risotto with Garlic Scapes and Ginger
First things first, I made this with SHORT GRAIN brown rice that I did NOT prewash in order to keep the starch.  There *IS* a difference with the starchiness of the different grains of rice.  If you have long grain brown rice on hand, your risotto may not turn out as creamy as the grains will not stick together.  You can still make a risotto out of your long grain brown rice, but you will need to consider adding a bit of water + starch (I would add 2 Tablespoons of cold water + 2 teaspoons of cornstarch (not flour) premixed) at the end of cooking to thicken it a bit.

Second:  be sure to have precooked your brown rice – as outlined below – since brown rice takes MUCH longer to cook than white rice.

Third:  add whatever you’d like to your risotto.  The basic recipe is outlined below, but in lieu of garlic scapes, include your own veg or seafood, etc.  You really can’t go wrong.  (PS.  If using seafood, be sure to add it only at the end – it will cook quickly in the hot rice and overcooked seafood?  Not so fabulous.)

Creamy Brown Rice Risotto with Garlic Scapes
Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups short grain brown rice
3 cups of water
1/4 pound garlic scapes, halved and chopped into 1 inch pieces
5 green scallions, chopped
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1/2-inch knob of fresh ginger, finely diced
2 1/2 cups GF chicken (or veg) broth
1/2 cup grated or shredded cheese (parmesan, etc – I used sun-dried tomato + basil cheese)
garlic powder, salt and pepper – to taste

Directions:

  1. Put the rice into a pot with the three cups of water.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer for 16-18 minutes or until the majority of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.  Drain in a strainer over a bowl.  (You may wish to use the reserved liquid to thicken your risotto – your choice, thus reserving.)
  2. Saute your vegetables (garlic scapes, in this case) until tender.  This took quite a bit of time with the garlic scapes as they are quite hardy.  However, it is important that they are tender as they won’t cook the same in the risotto.
  3. In a hot large pan (I used a two-inch deep, 10 inch wide pan), drizzle your olive oil.  Allow to heat for a bit, then put in the thinly sliced onion and ginger.  (If your love is like mine, you can carmelize your onion for added flavor too.). Cook until tender (or carmelized)
  4. Add the precooked rice, garlic scapes and 1 cup of the broth.  Stir until the broth is absorbed and stirring the rice allows you to “see the pan” without the rice covering up your spoon tracks quickly/liquid like.  Add another 1/2 cup of broth and continue stirring until you once again see the pan easily.  Continue this adding/stirring until you have used all of the broth.
  5. After the last addition of broth, season your risotto with garlic, salt and pepper.  Taste!  (This is important!)  Adjust the seasoning (and or the consistency by adding more broth) now.  Depending on your rice, you may need more broth than what I used.  This is natural.
  6. Add the shredded cheese and stir in.  Taste again.
  7. Serve hot with the scallions sprinkled over the top.
Happy GF Eating, All!
~Kate

CSA Week 2: Radish Cakes

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GF Radish CakesGluten Free Savory Radish Cakes photo by Kate Chan

A couple weeks ago, we opened our first CSA box with joy and glee.  Zoe flipped the top open with a giggle.  “It’s like Christmas, Momma!” she exclaimed.  Ha!  In my mind, I was thinking “Thank God Christmas doesn’t come with radishes!”  (I’m going to regret posting this thought as I’m sure someone will find it fun to gift some radishes to me.  Alas the joke will be on them.  My baby and I love them now!)

We started the first week with radishes.  We roasted them.  And yes, they are good roasted.  Even the carnivore in the house helped polish off the small bowl of roasted radishes.  But, I think he thought that would be it.

HA!  Week #2 CSA box:  more radishes.  In fact, this is what we got:

  • radishes
  • collard greens (recipe for this below as well)
  • scallions
  • spinach
  • red butterhead lettuce
  • green butterhead lettuce
  • mixed salad greens
  • broccoli

Most of the veggies easily fit in to our regular veg-habits.  True, we are eating more salad greens – but using them mostly as wraps for grilled meats or sandwiches.  I think we’ve only had two salads in the last two weeks “because we had to eat the veggies”.  Rather,  we are incorporating the veggies into our regular routine.  I mean really?  We eat a ton of stir fry and fresh fruit/veg.  So adding spinach?  Done.  We would have bought it weekly at the grocer too.  So from that above list only two were things we would not have picked up at the grocer:  radishes (still not super fans here) and collard greens (not always in our stores).

So those are the two things I chose to tackle.  First:  collard greens.  My love enjoys collard greens southern style.  I’ve enjoyed them as well.  But prepping them myself?  Nope.  No experience.

The greens were tender and I used one as a wrap for a sandwich.  It was good, but I knew I wouldn’t eat them all like there.  And there weren’t enough to make in the style my husband wanted.  (The beauty of the CSA is that there isn’t so much as to intimidate and just enough to encourage us to try it all.)

So, I made Collard Green Chips.  Yes.  The same thing that people are making with Kale.  The same kind of dried chip that we love (especially the seasoned lavar with sesame oil and salt – YUM!).   For the collard chips, I did the following:

  • wash the greens, trim the stalk and cut into chunks (fourths, in my case)
  • massage greens with sesame oil and salt for a few minutes – be sure to cover every piece evenly.
  • lay out on parchment or a silpat, put into a 350F oven, bake until crisp 6-8 minutes

I loved eating the chips plain.  So did the baby.  But really, my favorite was crumbling the chips over the top of some scrambled eggs or some brown rice at dinner time.  I loved the flavor it added without being overpowering that way.

But those pesky radishes.  Surely I wouldn’t have to roast more, right?  I didn’t want to spend my summer roasting veggies.  I have a few in the fridge from this week that I plan to figure out with the gas grill outside.  (I have a rockin’ recipe for a grilled potato salad that I think would benefit from some grilled radish.)

Anticipating more radishes from the CSA, I began to plan.  I made several batches of these savory radish cakes and to be honest, they became quite addictive.  The baby demolished them for breakfast one day and lunch the next (much to my mother’s dismay).

I have to beg your forgiveness though.  For once, I am posting my estimates and guesses at what would be the final recipe.  I altered it some many times and stopped taking notes at some point along the way because it got to be too much to manage:  the cooking, the baby who wanted it ASAP, the toddler who wanted to help cook, the final exams to be written and graded, etc.  It was just all too much.

Thankfully, summer has started.  Grades are in.  Classroom is cleaned up. And life is beginning again.  I’m trying out my mommy wings again and enjoying it.  Swimming lessons, slurping strawberries, painting fingernails, and planning naps.  NAPS!  Life is good when everyone naps, huh?

Anyway.  Stopping the yammering.  Posting the recipe.  Just know:  You’ve been warned.  It’s rough.  BUT DANG.  It’s good!

Savory Radish Cakes – gluten free

1 recipe makes 12 – 18 cakes

Ingredients:
3-4 medium radishes (4.5 ounces), shredded
salt
1/2 cup millet flour (88g/3 ounces)
1/2 cup tapioca starch flour (68g/2.5 ounces)
1/3 cup sweet rice flour (45g/2 ounces)
1 smidge of xanthan gum – 1/3 teaspoon??? (can be omitted)
1 – 2 cups hot water (I’m totally guessing on the water, can you tell?)
1 teaspoon (??) salt
1 teaspoon (??) garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon (??) cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons sesame oil
oil for pan frying (olive oil or sesame)

Directions:

  1. Shred radishes (go food processor!), toss with salt generously, and put into a colander over a bowl to catch liquid.  Set aside.
  2. Mix together flour, starches, smidge of xanthan gum (if using), salt, garlic powder, and cracked black pepper.  (I used my food processor to do this because it was easy to rinse out after shredding the radishes.  Heck.  One piece of kitchen gadgetry per recipe is my goal.)
  3. In a separate container (or 2 cup measuring cup), heat 1 cup of water (not boiling – but hot like a cup of tea).  Add sesame oil.  Turn on the food processor and slowly pour the water into the flour mix.   You want the mixture to have the same consistency as pancake batter eventually. So, start with one cup of water.  Don’t add any more just yet.
  4. Go back to your salted, shredded radishes.  Squeeze out as much water as you can from them.  Toss them into your batter.  Whirl the food processor again.
  5. Now check your consistency.  It should be a thick pancake batter (almost like for waffles).  If not, add more hot water slowly until you reach that desired thickness.  It should slowly, thickly slide off a spoon but be thicker than cake batter and not drip off the spoon.
  6. Pan fry the cakes in oil.  Sprinkle the cakes with a bit of salt while frying.
  7. Serve when warm with Soy-Ginger dipping sauce.  (Recipe below)

Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
scallions, optional

  1. Put all together in a small jar and shake well.  Set aside.
  2. Refrigerate any unused portion and use within a few days.

 

Really…this recipe is worth a try.  I’m sorry for the guess with the water.  But …bah… it is what it is.

And one last radish tip:  Shaved radishes + cucumbers make an AWESOME Thai salad. :)  I shaved my remaining radishes, seeded and peeled two English cucumbers and chopped the cukes into small pieces.  Then I mixed together 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice.  OH MAN.  PERFECT summer treat.  (Yes, it makes a lot of liquid, but hey…that’s how I like my Thai Cucumber salad.)

Enjoy!
Kate

CSA Cooking Week 1: Getting a toddler to eat more veggies

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Roasted RadishesRoasted Radishes, photo by Kate Chan

This spring my Love and I have decided to try using a few local food sources more consistently as a means of improving our health, modeling healthy eating for the girls, and primarily – to encourage our little whippersnappers to eat their veggies!  Now don’t get me wrong:  both of the babes eat healthy.  They *love* tofu (in soups, baked, fried, stir-fried, etc), carrots, zucchini, beans, corn, peas, yogurt, fruit of all kinds, brown rice, etc.  However, we noticed that they would also both choose to live off of tofu and fruit (with sides of steamed rice) if we allowed it.

Their eating wishes got us thinking about what WE were eating.  While we eat asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, corn (oh yea – the chicklet LOVES corn on the cob), peas, etc, the Chicklet  has begun to resist veggies…. especially green veggies.  If there is a speck of green in it (like the day I put chives into the scrambled eggs), Z refuses.

Really though, I am lucky. She does eat a fair amount of veggies.  It’s just getting harder to go with the flow with what we eat.  As of right now, she will eat:  edamame, corn on the cob, black beans, refried beans (does that count??), peas (sometimes), quickly stir-fried zucchini/carrots, jap chae (Korean sweet potato noodles with veggies and beef), Mexican rice with veggies (corn, carrots, peas, etc).

What I would like her to do is eat a bigger variety.  That means that we need to do the same.  We realized that we are a little stuck in our veggies routine too.  As a family, we needed to step up our veggie game and get walking/moving together. We are big believers in the family dinner (we all cook and eat together everyday) and want to carry that further.

So, we decided to tackle the goals head on. Here are the steps we are taking as a family to get ourselves eating healthier and living healthier.

Step One:  The fruit comes out for dessert after veggies and meat/tofu/fish/protein has been eaten.  With the fruit bowl looming in sight, she is suddenly motivated to eat her protein/veg a little better.  Not perfect.  But we are getting there.  After all, half the battle is training US to do the right thing.

  • HOW DOES THIS HELP THE TODDLER?:  Really, I think this step is helping me more than her.  I can clearly see now that she WILL eat some vegetables (although anything “green” is still *out*).  She will eat them – or at least taste a few bites to appease me and get to her beloved fruit plate.  So now that I see what veggies she DOES eat more clearly, I can continue to find new ones for her to munch on.

Step Two:  We found a local group that sells foods from local producers/farms.  They are “like a grocery store, but more local; like a CSA, but more flexible, like a farmer’s market, but more convenient” and all of this with a pickup location that is minutes from my work and my house!  (Sweet, huh?)  Basically every Thursday-Monday, I can log in to their site and view what local producers have to offer.  These offerings include a huge range of items:  from pastured eggs (to which we are now addicted – OH MY DELICIOUS), organic fruits/vegetables, local coffee roasters, gluten free breads/muffins/waffles (yes, gluten free!), to-die-for roasted nuts,  grass-fed local meat (beef, pork, poultry), etc all delivered/picked/etc within 24 hours of our Thursday pickup.  So far, we are completely addicted.  It has taken me a bit to figure out the process.  I’m not used to “grocery shopping” a week in advance like this.  However, we are on week three of using this resource, and it DOES make my life easier.  It’s SO smooth to stop on my way to pick up the girls after work, scoop up delicious local foods and head home.  Tomorrow is my next pick up.  We ordered our first fresh, naturally raised (pastured) chicken.  While it is not in our budget to purchase meats like this often, we are looking forward to the treat.  A fresh, local, pastured roasted chicken?  What a way to kick off the weekend, huh?  (Wanna come over too?)

  • HOW DOES THIS HELP THE TODDLER?:  She helps me pick out (and has helped pick up) the foods we will try or eat when we log in.  After the first week, she was curious enough to want to try the fresh pea pod shoots (not what we expected).  So far, since our growing season is really just now producing goodies, this is just picking up speed for us.  I’m sure we will order as the growing season continues.  (Or as our budget allows!)

Step Three:  We signed up for a CSA.   A CSA is “Community Supported Agriculture”.  Basically, we have “contracted” for a “share” of vegetables from a local farm to be picked up weekly.  Our CSA will run through October – about 22 weeks of goodness from our local organic farm.  Our share price is working out to be about $22 a week.  There were a couple of reasons that we jumped in to a CSA that we had not initially thought we would do.  Here are the pros/cons as we saw them:

  • PRO:  Option number #2 didn’t seem to have the “surprise” factor that we were looking for.  Opening the CSA box is like Christmas, we don’t know what we are going to get – so we let Zoe open the box and we get excited with her as she explores through the box.  Our first box had the best fresh carrots in it.  I told Zoe about growing up and picking carrots out of my uncle’s garden as a child.  We washed and peeled a carrot as we talked.  After I took a crunchy bite and remarked about how sweet it was and that it was “crunchy like an apple”, she was in.  She’s now eaten a fresh carrot for an “after school” snack everyday this week. (I count this as a success as all previous other veggies that she would eat are cooked.)
  • CON:  The “surprise” factor for the adults.  We are not fans of a huge variety of things like:  radishes, arugula, kale, chard, etc.  The night before our first CSA box pick up, we actually had a little “buyer’s remorse” from the sign up/deposit.  We wondered if the veggies would get eaten or if they would languish in a corner of our fridge until one of us just composted them.  We freaked.  And then we bit the bullet and went down to the Farmer’s Market to pick up our first box.  And guess what?  We got radishes and arugula in our first pickings!  Lord help us, we celebrated with Zoe upon opening the box and each of us mouthed “Ay Ay Ay!” Radishes!” to the other.  But never fear, I posted a radish question on the Gluten Free Gobsmacked Facebook page and we were rescued.  I roasted the radishes and they were fabulous.  Probably not a weekly request, but definitely tastier than anticipated. :D  And now… on to the arugula.  Somehow, some way… I will make it work for us.
Step Four:  We signed up for milk delivery.  Holy beans!  I had no idea how fabulously easier it is NOT to have to run to the grocer at 4:45PM to two crabby kidlets in two after work in search of milk.  The cost?  Truthfully, it costs me about 10 cents more per half-gallon than it would to buy the same at the local grocer.  Not too shabby.  I would have gladly paid someone that 10-20-30 cents when we’ve had the after work shopping to do JUST to have the milk appear on my doorstep.  And guess what?  It appears in the morning before we leave for work.  (God bless those work hours!)  We’ve now signed ourselves up for the weekly dairy delivery that I can alter/order/change-up as needed.  It is currently rocking my world.  I can’t wait to see how it saves me when the baby starts drinking milk too this July.  Good lord – the sheer number of gallons of milk + trips to the grocer = many morning blessings and cheers for the Milk Delivery guy.  (Thank you, Brandon H, wherever you are!)
All of these steps are making my life more interesting and honestly, less stressful.  While the new challenge is to stay on top of the pick-ups/deliveries and ordering, we are making head way.  It’s all still new and I want to make sure we are sticking within our food budget while we experiment with our different avenues of food sources.  In the last three weeks, we have been to a standard grocer twice.  Once for dish soap and tofu and the other was a trip to my beloved gluten free market for flours/pasta and Amy’s frozen dairy-free/gluten-free burritos.
So, here’s to changes.  And to cooking my way through our CSA box.  I think I will try to post some recipes from our CSA experiment just to keep you all updated on what we are doing.  (And hopefully to get some more ideas on what to do with this stuff! LOL!).  Our first CSA box included the following:
  • radishes
  • roasted these, see below
  • carrots
  • eating these 1 by 1, raw for snacks
  • red leaf lettuce
  • eaten Korean BBQ style as wraps with grilled chicken
  • green leaf lettuce
  • ripped up for salad
  • iceberg lettuce
  • ripped up for salad
  • spinach
  • stir-fried with fresh organic ginger, garlic and GF soy sauce
  • arugula - 
  • HELP! We have a relatively “huge” bag of this peppery bugger.  Tips, anyone??
  • joi choi (like bok choi)
  • On the docket for tomorrow’s menu; stir-fry style
  • mint (which, when I said, “oh yum, Mint!” made Zoe dig in the box looking for a peppermint candy…)
  • Plans:  tzaziki and watermelon-mint salad, maybe a mint lemonade for me on Friday.
Any tips for that arugula?  Please post them here on the Facebook page.  I’m dying.  We are really challenging ourselves NOT to waste the foods we receive through these fabulous local, organic sources and ,more importantly, we want to model veggie-love and healthy eating for our little ones.
So… here’s what I did to the radishes to get them worked in to our dinners.  And just to let you know, I did eat a raw radish.  I rather liked the crunch, but the 10 minute later weird heat in my mouth was exactly what I don’t love about them.  Ah well.  I’ll keep trying them raw.  Maybe I’ll grow in to it.  But if there are more in my CSA box next week?  I’ll be making more of this:

yum

Roast Radishes
-Serves 2.5 as a side dish
Ingredients:
1 pound fresh radishes
olive oil
salt
pepper
garlic powder
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
fresh chives
butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Clean and trim the radishes.
  3. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, red onion, and garlic powder.
  4. Roast in oven for 13-18 minutes or until they begin to turn golden brown (see photo).
  5. Remove from oven, toss with a bit of butter and some fresh chives.
  6. Serve warm.
NOTES:  Next time radishes show up in our box, I might just season these guys with a little pasilla chile powder and serve with some homemade chive-sour cream and buttermilk dressing.  Oh yes.  That is sounding good to me now! :)