BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘gluten-free

Short Ribs Once, Dinner Thrice

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The surprise of short rib ravioli with tangy horseradish-creme fraiche sauce, dusted with parmesan and fresh cracked pepper. More Slavic than Italian. Absolutely divine. Hats off to chef Amy.

It wasn’t hard coming up with the “food I loved” for the new “Fresh from Maine” radio show I launched today with veteran Brunswick food writer and  cookbook author Michael S. Sanders. It was a simple, Silver Palate-inspired winter borscht, a velvety broth with beets, tomato and braised cabbage, held together with a meaty short rib broth. Michael served it for lunch as we pulled together the show last week. Hands down best borscht I’ve ever had.

It turns out Michael’s discovery of these short ribs discounted at Shaw’s (the large grocery store with the best meat selection) led to not one, but three distinct meals. Talk about frugal gourmet. First, they slow-braised the short ribs in beer, plating the fall-off-the-bone morsels atop polenta. The recipe came from Michael’s lovely Fresh from Maine cookbook, he thought from the Portland restaurant, Vignola Cinque Terre. Or was it the “Stout and Chili Braised Short Ribs over Parmesan Polenta” recipe from the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport? The only expensive thing was the gluten-free beer required for braising to accommodate a guest’s dietary preferences. Meal #1.


The pressed ravioli, to be boiled and dressed.

The braising liquid and bones Michael and his wife, Amy, then boiled down into stock with the requisite veggies. The resulting rich elixir yielded the most delicious borscht. No tough chunks of meat here but more umami-rich and savory than the still-good, vegetarian Moosewood version. Meal #2.

And Meal #3 was today to celebrate our first radio show (for now on Sundays at noon…live-stream it!) on WBOR, the Bowdoin College station. Michael and Amy graciously invited us to join them and their neighbors for an impromptu, quite convivial meal embodying the best of the Slow Food ethos. Amy, who is busy as an AP English and creative writing teacher at the high school, still managed to whip up a batch of homemade ravioli, putting the leftover short rib meat to good use. But don’t let the “ravioli” label fool you. These were more Slavic, almost like pirogis or Russian pelmeni, than Italian pasta. No coincidence here, since Michael and Amy speak Russian, and he used to import rugs from there and the Ukraine. A light horseradish-creme fraiche sauce perfectly complemented the sweet short rib meat. The ravioli reminded me of my Nonny’s kreplach, which I have yet to recreate. Here’s to more short ribs and homemade ravioli (and kreplach) in 2013!

Gluten-Free Goodness

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Rebecka sinks her teeth into these chewy, sweet hazelnut and coconut (flourless) wafers.

I’ve fallen in love with a simple gluten-free cookie recipe just in time for a visit from my sister Elaine, who unsuccessfully tried to get me on the bandwagon when we visited her in Atlanta in January. My gluten-free friend George (the man behind Corvallis Local Foods) had a birthday party coming up, and I had bags of ground hazelnut and also almond flour to burn through. So I turned to this simple Piedmontese recipe for Italian Hazelnut Cookies from Eating Well magazine. I didn’t bother to skin the hazelnuts, because mine, from our local Hazelnut Hill farm, were already ground into a meal. Plus, I like the color, texture (fiber?) and flavor the thin skins provide anyway. All you do is beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and then mix that fluffiness in with the combined sugar and ground nuts and then bake. I added some coconut and cardamom to the mix to spice things up. The results are quite addictive. With no added oil or starchy carbs, one can almost be convinced these cookies are good for you.

This is a recipe to return to again and again, with endless possible variations. They’re really almost like roughed up tops of macaroons in a way. This weekend, I made the cookies with the almond flour I love from Trader Joe’s, coconut and chunks of chocolate in some. I was thrilled to finally have a use for the containers of long-forgotten egg whites I had frozen away. The key is to find a use for the whites and yolks at about the same time. Stay tuned for my mention of yolks in the aioli I made for a steamed version of stuffed artichokes last week.

Written by baltimoregon

May 10, 2010 at 1:19 am

Off the Wagon, with Homemade Pasta, Bread and Beer

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Homemade Pasta by Chef Intaba at Fireworks Restaurant.

Told you the gluten-free thing wouldn’t last. This weekend, I indulged in yeasty bread, Block 15 beer (including a sweet-tart, heady, Belgian-style “Cherry Quad,” with 11 percent alcohol) and homemade pasta from Chef Intaba. She had scraps from her manicotti shells she couldn’t use, which made perfect eggy and soft, makeshift lasagna sheets. Though they didn’t hold their shape or get those crispy edges, they still made an easy Swiss Chard Lasagna, perhaps my favorite vegetarian lasagna recipe. Blanching imparts the chard with a sweetness, while it still stands up more sturdy than spinach, with none of the bitter taste of other greens.

Definitely feel a bit more distress in the belly as it tries to digest wheat again. I hope avoiding gluten doesn’t make it even more painful for the body to break down once you resume consumption. You know, how vegetarians throw-up upon eating meat after years of abstention. Everything in moderation–the middle path–that’s me.

Fall apart Swiss chard lasagna: don't judge it on the looks!

Started with a Salad: Yummy Kimchi-Marinated Apples with Arugula and maple yogurt, ala David Chang.

Written by baltimoregon

January 18, 2010 at 1:28 am

The Gluten-Free Game

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Surprisingly al dente gluten-free macaroni, from bionaturae.

A wise person once said, “I’d be dead without bread,” and normally I’d have to agree. Except I’ve basically gone without bread (and other wheat products) for more than a week now. This has not been easy. I’m about as omnivorous as they come. In fact, it’s nearly impossible for me to name a food I don’t like. Tongue, Brussels sprouts, turnips, chopped liver, you name it: bring them on. Well, maybe I don’t love tripe.

Nor have I ever really dieted. I would rather exercise more than go without. But my sister has been nagging me for a year now to give up gluten for a week. She doesn’t have celiac disease, but she’s had more energy, been less irritable and more sated after a meal when she goes wheat-free. Apparently, going without gluten improves attention span and counteracts ADHD, traits of which I’ve been known to exhibit. So I finally agreed to take the plunge while visiting Elaine in Atlanta.

A week and a half in, I do feel less bloated and a bit sharper, but that’s probably because I’m eating fewer food-coma inducing carbs. I may be starting to shed some holiday weight (but that could be the additional Pilates and Bollywood dancing classes I’m taking). Lack of gluten does seem to change things gastro-intestinally, for the better. And when I violated the diet to have a store sample of bread, a few sips of beer and French onion soup with a little flour in it, I did feel a bit light-headed.

Not sure how much longer I’ll continue the experiment, but it’s nice to have this baseline. I’m really craving baked goods and more than anything, beer. Hard cider and the gluten-free stuff don’t cut it (I drank both this week). The pasta wasn’t half-bad, though. And I love quinoa. We made a lovely quinoa with shitake mushrooms and leeks risotto from the Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free and Vegan Baking Book I gave Elaine. I might try to do gluten-lite. It is nice to have something to force you not to eat the bread at the restaurant. Once you have a bite, it’s hard to stop.

Written by baltimoregon

January 14, 2010 at 1:17 am

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