Sunday, March 28, 2010

I made some bread

I've been on a bread-baking hiatus. Loaf after loaf of crappy bread just gets old after a while. I know I'm not alone with my bread woes.

I had a bag of Bob's Red Mill brown rice flour sitting on my counter, and Chris picked it up and (quite randomly) asked, "Have you tried making this bread?" There was a recipe for Walrus Bread on the back of it, and no, I've never considered making it. Why waste ingredients on a bread that will probably turn out like crap? And what the heck is Walrus bread?

After I voiced these comments, Chris insisted that I try it anyway, because you never know.

So I busted out my neglected bread machine for minimal effort, and made it. Actually I had help from Chris, which was kinda fun. No one's ever stood around and helped me make stuff, even if it's just putting ingredients into the bread machine.

I just dumped everything into the bread maker, set it, and left for three hours. When we came back, the smell was awesome. I peeked into the little window to see that it actually rose well.

I have a lot of trouble getting bread to rise correctly. I also have trouble with bread sinking after it's done. I also have trouble with gummy layers on the bottom of bread. I also have trouble with crumbling, dense, nasty bread. See why I stopped making bread? Suckage.

When it was finished, I let it cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then took it out. Afraid it'd sink like normal, I didn't wait around to watch it. We went bowling. When we came back from bowling, it had cooled and hadn't sunk at all! When I cut into it, it was moist and bendy. Look- you can bend it and it won't break. Small victories.

gluten free breadIt's one of the better loaves of bread I've made. Still distinctly gluten free, but not terrible. So here it is. The recipe is posted here.

I made a few modifications: Instead of bean flour I used sorghum, and instead of potato starch I used corn starch. I used apple cider vinegar, and instead of vegetable oil I used light olive oil. A packet of yeast worked just fine- I think it's just short of a tablespoon.

I'm hoping that it works well with french toast, as it's been a very long time since I've made some that actually tastes good. I have learned that not all gluten free bread transforms into french toast well.

I'm not 100% satisfied and am still on the lookout for a really good plain bread recipe, so if you have one please share!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

lessons in fish!

I am 100% clueless when it comes to fish.

I think I've probably eaten fish a grand total of 5 times in my whole life. And I think 3 of those times was at a restaurant. The other 2 or so have been at someone else's house.

I do like fish.

The reason I have absolutely no experience with it is because my mom hates fish. The smell, the taste, the texture. So, she never cooked it when we were growing up. Fish was something other people ate.

A few weekends ago I had the most amazing grilled catfish I've ever tasted (at a restaurant), and since then I've had a hankering for fish.

I didn't know where to begin. How do you buy it? What kind do you buy? What kind of cut do you get? How do you season it? How long do you cook it? What do you eat it with? OhmygoshIdon'tknow.

I almost retreated (yet again) into a fishless existence because of the unknown.

Fortunately, I found some frozen tilapia filets in the freezer and figured that was easier than going to the store. I thawed it out, and since I didn't know what to put on it, I went to Google. I don't think I like the whole "lemon pepper" route, so I tried a mixture of garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Does that go with fish? No clue.

I wanted that same grilled taste so I fired up the George Foreman grill, and on the fish went.

As soon as it hit the grill, I entered panic mode. How long do you cook it?? I should have looked that up beforehand.
I checked the handy dandy grill guide that came with the grill, but Tilapia wasn't on it. White Fish was, and since it was white, I figured it would work. 6 minutes. Then, I second-guessed, and did another quick Google search. Nothing concrete. Ack! I did see something about it being flaky when it's done, but what the heck did that mean??

Fortunately I heard my uncle in the other room.
"Jim!" I yelled. "You eat fish, right?"
He came in to check it, kinda laughed, and said that it was definitely done. he showed me what flaky meant. Okay, the fish had been flaky for a while. Definitely done.

I had leftover green beans and rice with it, since I have no idea what is usually eaten with fish. I had this CUTE tiny little lime- look at how cute it is!

Anyway I squeezed a bit of it onto the fish, because you're supposed to squeeze lemons/ limes on top of fish, right?

Here's my fish. I'm thinking that all meat comes out looking pretty much the same on a George Foreman grill, at least when you overcook it... because it looks like chicken.

It tasted ok, a little dry, and I think I should have used more seasonings because it was kind of bland.

I need help with my fish!
If you have any favorite fish recipes, or helpful tips, please link or post in the comments!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Conte's Gluten Free Ravioli

I was super excited when I was browsing through HEB the other day and found Conte's gluten free ravioli in the frozen food section. It's been SO LONG since I've eaten ravioli. I've tried making it before and it was good, but it is pretty labor-intensive. This is quick & easy.

And tasty!

These babies are nice & big, not like wimpy wiener ravioli that I've had before. They're plump and full of cheesy filling, and the pasta is good. It's -almost- chewy like regular pasta. I detected a hint of an unusual texture, but I was being picky and it does not detract from the deliciousness of the ravioli.

I'd feed gluten-eating guests with it, and I will be buying it again. The company also offers several other products, including stuffed shells and pierogies. I can't wait to try them!

Cross section:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fried Rice

My friend Jennifer makes awesome fried rice. Actually, I think it's her mom's fried rice. Either way, I could eat it for days. So last night I snuck over there and had her teach me how to make it. It's so easy, and of course it's one of those, "I don't measure, I just throw in however much I want!" types of things.

Your ingredients:

canola oil
shrimp (or chicken)
leftover rice
frozen peas & carrots
onions, chopped
Fajita seasoning
fish oil

If we had a wok, everything would be thrown in together. However, hers got lost in the move and it's not necessary. Just use a pan and make things in batches, then combine it all at the end.

First, thaw the shrimp in some water, if needed. While that's happening, make everything else.

1. Start with the rice. You really have to use a certain kind of rice. That minute rice just won't cut it. She uses jasmine rice, and stresses that it's best if you use leftover rice, as opposed to just-made.

2. De-clump the rice and sprinkle a little bit of paprika over the rice. Then, sprinkle a little bit more fajita seasoning than you did paprika. Fish sauce is optional. She added a small amount- perhaps a teaspoon- and mentioned that it's mostly for aroma rather than taste. Also add a small amount of oil, just to barely coat the rice. This will make it brown up really deliciously when you fry it.

3. Warm a pan over medium heat, then throw in your frozen veggies. She added that it's important to get the veggies nice and dehydrated, otherwise you'll have mushy fried rice. If they get a little charred, consider it a little extra flavor.

4. When the veggies are done, put them in a large bowl. In the same pan cook the onions and shrimp in some butter.

I had no idea when shrimp was cooked, but I learned. Look for a pink color, and they should curl up tighter.

5. Put the shrimp & onions in the veggie bowl, and scramble your eggs in the same pan.

Jen uses a chopstick to mix everything up- even the eggs in the pan. When they're done, stick them in the bowl too.

6. Fry the rice until it's browned and smelling awesome, and add that to the bowl. Mix it all up, and eat until you're just stuffed.