Thursday, April 10, 2014

PB&J and Apples Rice Paper Roll-Up (Gluten-Free)

A better name for these are PB&J Spring Rolls with Apples.  I don't have a kid, nor do I pretend to know the first thing about kids.  I know what I like with flavors and textures, and know that kids are much more sensitive and picky than I am.  For some reason, I've been thinking of new ways to use Vietnamese spring roll rice papers. I find the texture so appealing with its tender chewiness.  Why not do a spring roll with peanut butter and jelly, add in some apples for texture and nutrition?  Maybe for an adult version, add a little line of chili garlic sauce for a spicy complexity?

PB&J Spring Rolls with Apples
  • Vietnamese spring roll rice papers
  • Apple of your choice, cored and julianned (cut into matchsticks), skin on
  • Peanut butter (or any nut butter) of your choice
  • Jelly of your choice (I used concord grape)
In at least a 9" pan filled with cold water, soak one rice paper to hydrate for about 2-3 minutes. Carefully removed the softened rice paper onto a tea/dish towel or paper towels, and lay flat.  At this time, put another rice paper in the water. Then towards the bottom center, place a strip of peanut butter, a parallel strip of jelly, then a few of the julianned apples.  Fold up the bottom of the rice paper to cover the fillings.  Fold in each side.  Then gently, yet firmly, roll it up.  Place on a plate.  Repeat.  Note: do not allow the rolls to touch each other since they are so sticky.  To store, wrap individually in wax paper and keep in fridge.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Sensational Sides Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on kid-friendly.  On twitter, we're tagging #SensationalSides.  Here are other amazing kid-friendly recipes to try out from our other friends:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Salmon and Brown Rice Casserole (Gluten-Free)

One of my clients was telling me about her father's favorite dishes he would ask for every year for his birthday.  She described it as a salmon casserole made with canned salmon, brown rice, artichokes in a creamy chicken sauce. Sounded like such the throwback to the 1960's, that I had to try to recreate it.  And the perfect way to use some choice items out of my pantry.  To be honest I've never made a casserole made from rice - that seriously intrigued me.  Yeah, casseroles are the prettiest (especially to photograph) nor the healthiest dishes, but they're great to share and seriously comforting. I tried to simplify this recipe by sauteeing the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in the same saucepan to make the sauce. The sauce uses a potato starch (or flour) roux with the salmon juice, chicken broth, and milk (can leave out if need be).

Salmon and Brown Rice Casserole
  • brown rice, 2 cups cooked
  • salmon, 1 large can, save the juice, remove skin
  • artichoke hearts, 1 small jar, drained and sliced
  • olive oil, 1 tablespoon
  • fresh mushrooms, 1/2 container, cleaned and sliced
  • shallot, chopped fine
  • garlic, 2-3 cloves, chopped fine
  • butter, 45 grams
  • potato flour/starch, 45 grams
  • chicken broth, 1 cup
  • milk, 1 cup
  • frozen peas, 1/2 cup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the brown rice according to package directions.  Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium/large sauce pan, heating over medium low heat, saute the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in olive oil until the mushrooms are slightly browned and the shallots are transparent. Add in the butter and potato flour. Stir with cooking for a couple of minutes. Add in and stir well: the salmon liquid, and stir until a smooth paste.  Slowly add in and stir in the chicken broth, followed by the milk. Heat with stirring until it thickens a bit.  Taste and adjust to seasonings.  Add in the chopped artichoke hearts, then the salmon.  If there are bones in the salmon - leave them, as they add great texture and extra calcium.  Then add in the rice and frozen peas. Stir well. Taste again for seasoning.
  3. Turn into a greased casserole dish and bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Sensational Sides Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on cleaning out the pantry.  On twitter, we're tagging #SensationalSides.  Here are other amazing pantry-friendly recipes to try out from our other friends:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Peanut Butter Oat Bars (Gluten-Free)

It's that time of year I feel resentful about being a Celiac - Girl Scout cookie season.  The Do-Si-Dos were one of my favorites: the oatmeal peanut butter sandwich cookies.  Lately, I've been into making bars from scratch.  Why not come up with a more wholesome version of the Do-Si-Dos in a super simple bar form, with less sugar.  This is it.  You can cut the bars into smaller pieces and call them Do-si-do bites.  Just mix a couple of ingredients in one bowl, put in a baking pan, bake, cool, and cut.  The beauty with these is that you can bake them a shorter amount of time for a softer texture, a little longer for a crispier bar.  I developed this recipe to be pretty simple in the flavor profile with only vanilla and salt.  Putting in spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, etc can add complexity if you want that.  This recipe is scaled for a toaster oven, using a half size brownie pan (7"x10").  If using a full sized brownie pan, just double this recipe.  I love toaster oven sized recipes: great for the single person, watching portion sizes, being more energy conserving, and a lot easier scale to work with.

Peanut Butter Oat Bars (or Do-Si-Do Bites)
  • Rolled Oats (Old-Fashioned), GF, 1 cup (125 grams)
  • Oat flour GF, 1/2 cup, (56 grams)
  • Peanut butter, 1/2 cup (132 grams)
  • Agave (or honey or maple syrup), 1/4 cup (72 grams)
  • Milk (of your choice), 1/4 cup (58 grams)
  • Sugar (or brown sugar), 1/4 cup (53 grams)
  • Vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon (5 grams)
  • Salt, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to325F.
  2. In a medium bowl, scale/measure all the above ingredients.  Mix very well using a heavy-duty spoon.  Turn into a lightly greased pan.  Evenly distribute into pan and smooth the surface.  Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on desired texture.  (25 min for soft, 30 min for crispy)  If making a double batch, cook for 30-35 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and allow to cool.  While still warm, cut/score into desired sizes.  Store in an air-tight container to keep fresh.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on peanut butter.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing peanut butter recipes to try out from our other friends:


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Healthier Twice Baked Potato Skins

I'm a sucker for bar food.  Admit it, who is not?    My favorite menu item is the loaded potato skins.  Problem is, I cannot eat them safely as a celiac.  Turns out they deep fry them before stuffing them with cheese and bacon before broiling and topping with sour cream and scallions.  Wow, it's probably a good think I can't eat them - far from the healthiest menu choice.  At the same token, I never considered making a homemade version of potato skins, since scooping out the baked potato seemed like a waste.  Another favorite unhealthy potato recipe of mine is twice baked potatoes.  The portion alone is twice too big.  Ah, I know, split them in half, stuff with tasty healthier options and bake until crispy.  The ultimate potato mash-up: a twice baked potato skin.

This version I stuffed with some of my tasty favorites: Gorgonzola cheese crumbles (a blue cheese), Greek yogurt, scallions, parsley, chives, olive oil, garlic salt, and black pepper.  Get creative and try with your favorite flavor saturated ingredients like Parmesan,  nutritional yeast, anchovies, sundried tomatoes.... you get it.  Flavors usually too strong on their own make great fillers without feeling the need for super fatty unhealthy ingredient choices.  This recipe is for 2 generous servings using 1 russet potato.  Scale up according.  Note on type of potatoes: russet/Idaho is the only wise choice.  No other type will work as well.

Healthier Twice Baked Potato Skins with Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, Greek yogurt, scallions, parsley, chives, olive oil, garlic salt, and black pepper:
  • russet/Idaho potato, 1 large, washed well
  • salt
  • Gorgonzola (blue cheese) crumbles, 1/2 cup
  • Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup
  • scallions (green onion), 1 stalk, chopped fine
  • herbs such as parsley and chives, 2 tablespoons, chopped fine
  • olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons
  • salt, black pepper, garlic salt to taste
  • Preheat oven (toaster oven is perfect for this) to 375F.  Wash the potato well.  While it is still wet, generously sprinkle the whole surface of the potato with salt.  This will make the skin extra crispy.  Bake for about 45 minutes until crispy on the outside and fork tender, or it gives easily when squeezed.  Allow to cool just until you can handle it safely using a clean hot pad.
  • Cut the potato in half lengthwise.  Using a fork, carefully scrap out the insides into a mixing bowl.  Try to keep away from the skin.  Leave about a quarter of an inch lining for the skin.  Place the hollowed out skins on a foil lined mini cooking sheet.
  • In the bowl with the potato "meat", mix in the cheese, yogurt, scallions, herbs, seasonings.  Mix well.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings accordingly.  Split the filling in half, and fill the potato skins.  Put back in oven and bake until it starts browning, about 15 minutes.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on potatoes.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing potato recipes to try out from our other friends:   

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizzas (Gluten-Free)

When I was personal cheffing, my client was allergic to yeast, eggs, and lactose-intolerant in addition to having Celiac.   He lived in Chicago and grew fond of Chicago deep dish pizza before I started cooking for him and learning of his dietary restrictions.  My solution: using a crisped up polenta shell as the pizza pie crust, don't hold back on the fillings, and top with goat milk mozzarella (goat and sheep milk are naturally lactose-free).  Instant new pizza love.  It's just so different, yet very appealing while still obviously a deep dish pizza.  A pizza pie reinvented.

While it takes longer to make this polenta pizza pie crust since it's made from dry polenta, it is easier than a traditional pizza crust.  The beauty lies in its natural rustic character, i.e., the more imperfect it is, the more appealing it is.  Another beauty of this recipe is you can tailor it to your likes and needs.  This pizza has two layers of filling: a spinach/sausage/shallot and a tomato sauce.  Don't forget to taste each component along the way for the best tasting pizza pies.  Swap out the sausage for spicy sausage, chicken sausage, bacon, or even mushrooms to make vegetarian.  Swap out the cheese for your cheese of choice.  The possibilities are endless, but it will be guaranteed to be delicious.

Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizza Pies (Gluten-Free)
  • polenta or GF corn grits (dry), 1 cup
  • water or stock of your choice, 3 cups
  • olive oil, 2 tablespoons, divided
  • small yellow onion or large shallot, chopped fine
  • sweet Italian sausage, about 1/2 pound, without casing
  • baby spinach, about 4 hands full, chopped fine
  • can of crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • garlic, 2-3 cloves, crushed
  • chili flakes, pinch (optional)
  • oregano, 1 teaspoon, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • goat milk mozzarella, 1 cup shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.  In a medium sauce pan, heat the polenta and water/stock over medium heat with some salt if necessary.  With frequent stirring, cook down until it becomes the consistency of a thick porridge (about 20-30 minutes).  Make sure to taste and add more salt if needed.   Immediately divide evenly into a 12-muffin tin.  Use something like a shot glass coated with oil to form into a shell with relatively uniform thickness walls.  Bake in a 325F oven until lightly golden brown and crispy (about 20-30 minutes).
  2. While the polenta shells are baking, start preparing to 2 layers: tomato sauce; and the sauteed sausage and spinach.
  3. Tomato sauce:  In a large skillet over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and chili flakes.  Reduce heat to low and frequently stir until it cooks down to a nice thickness.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spinach and sausage filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with the chopped shallot or onion, and the sausage.  Break up and sauteed frequently with a spatula.  Once the sausage has browned, add in the chopped spinach and saute.  Season with oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Assemble the mini pizza pies: using a spoon, first spoon the sausage and spinach filling half way in all the shells, followed by filling the rest almost to the top with the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle a little bit of the cheese on top.  Place in a 375F oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese turns a little bubbly and/or browned.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.  Makes 12 mini polenta pizza pies.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on pizza.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing pizzas to try out from our other friends:  

The Heritage Cook: Gluten-Free Pizza Crust and Homemade Pizza Sauce
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Easy Turkey Taco Pizza
Devour: Top 5 Pizzas Without Sauce
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
Weelicious: Pizza Balls
Dishin & Dishes: Iron Skillet Chicken Pesto Pizza
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pizza with Sun-Dried Tomato, Red Pepper and Corn
Red or Green: Pizza with Green Chile, Chicken and Cheese (Gluten-Free)
Virtually Homemade: Individual Cheese Quesadilla Pizzas
Domesticate Me: Grilled Pita Pizza with Prosciutto, Chanterelles, Arugula and a Fried Egg
Food for 7 Stages of Life: No Yeast Pizza Dough
In Jennie's Kitchen: Easy, Homemade Pizza Dough
The Blue Apron Blog: Our Favorite Pizza Toppings
The Sensitive Epicure: Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizzas (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: Homemade Pizza Comfort by the Slice

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Almond Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free)

If there is any one general cookie generalization, it's "everyone is a cookie monster at heart."  Cookie variations seems limitless.  These are a variation on my peanut butter cookie for a European friend who doesn't have an infinity for peanut butter.  I thought why not replace it with almonds.  More fancy, too.  These cookies are super easy to make and "paleo" with no grains or starches, but still has sugar.  I think these are even fancy enough for an Academy Awards party.  As a matter of fact, I put this batch in the freezer and will pull out on Sunday for an Oscars party I'll be attending.

Almond Butter Cookies:
  • almond butter, 1 cup (255 grams)
  • almond flour, blanched, 1/2 cup (70 grams)
  • brown sugar, 1/2 cup (110 grams)
  • cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon
  • vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon
  • salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • eggs, room temperature, 1 whole + 1 white
  • almonds, for garnish, about 30
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, using a wood or silicone spatula, mix together everything but the eggs.  Only mix just until everything comes together.  Do not over mix, or it will start to separate.  Now add in 1 whole egg and the 1 egg white.  Mix very gently until just until incorporated.  Again, do not over mix.
  3. On a sheet of parchment, using a portioner/scooper/spoon measure out about 1/2 - 3/4 ounce of dough.  Allow space between the cookies.  Gently squash with something flat like the bottom of a measurement cup.  Then push a single almond in the center.  Bake for about 14 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool on rack.  Makes about 2- 2 1/2 dozen cookies.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on cookies.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing cookies to drool over:   

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Quinoa Oat Cookies
The Heritage Cook: Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Meyer Lemon Curd
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: French Palmiers
Weelicious: Homemade Oreo Cookies
Devour: Top 5 Chocolate Cookies
Taste With The Eyes: A Korean Sweet Treat - Hwa Jeon with Honey and Flower Petals
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies with Chocolate Ganache Filling
Red or Green: Chocolate, Almond and Ginger Cookies
Domesticate Me: Healthy Dark Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Cherries and Sea Salt
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Rose and Cardamon Nankhatai (Eggless Indian Shortbread Cookies)
Virtually Homemade: Oatmeal Caramel Skillet cookie with Marshmallows and Chocolate
The Sensitive Epicure: Almond Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: Cookie Comfort

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Apple, Walnuts, and Thyme (GF)

The way I usually determine what recipe I'm going to develop is based on what I have on hand.  When I think of a well executed "gourmet" grilled cheese, I consider a complexity in textures and a simplicity in the melding of flavors.  Given these considerations I came up with cave aged Vermont cheddar cheese, pink lady apple, walnuts, and fresh thyme.  Really good, fresh, comforting...  This is one of my favorite flavor combinations.  I built the layers within the sandwich, and found that after grilling it on the stove top, placing it in a moderate oven for about 10 minutes melted it thoroughly and brought it all together.  In practical terms: I could squash it all together to eat it.  Scale this recipe accordingly to how many sandwiches you are going to make.

Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Apple, Walnuts, and Thyme (GF)
  • Udi's Whole Grain Gluten-Free Bread (or any of your favorite sandwich bread)
  • Cheddar cheese of your choice, cut into thin slices (I used aged Vermont cheddar)
  • Apple, cored and sliced into thin slices (leave the skin on)
  • Walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Thyme, fresh leaves with stems removed
  • Butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place a pat of butter on 1 side of a slice of bread.  Place buttered side down in an oven safe skillet over low heat.  From there carefully build the sandwich: a layer of cheese, a layer of sliced apples, a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, and thyme.  I did two layer of apples, walnuts, and thyme, finishing with a layer of cheese so it all melts together and adheres the bread.  Finish with the other slice of bread and a pat of butter on top.  After about 3-5 minutes, carefully flip over the sandwich(es).  Lightly brown the other side.
  3. Place skillet with sandwich(es) in heated oven for about 10 minutes, or until all the cheese has melted.
  4. Remove from oven and squash with the backside of a spatula.  Transfer to a cutting board.  Allow to cool/set up for a couple of minutes before cutting.  Serve and eat immediately.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on comforting grilled cheese sandwiches.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing grilled cheese sandwiches to get your comforting creative juices going:  

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Lighted Up Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese
Blue Apron Blog: The Tastiest Grilled Cheese Fillings
Weelicious: Grilled Cheese and Pickle Panini
Devour: Kelsey's Decadent Grilled Cheese
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Inside Out Grilled Strawberry and Cheese Sandwiches
Daily*Dishin: Grilled Pimento Cheese with Instant Pickles
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pork Stew in Port Wine Sauce with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Red or Green: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Three Pepper Cheese, Grilled Onions and Pickled Jalapenos
Dishing With Divya: Egg and Mushroom Cheese Sandwich
Domesticate Me: Barbecue Chicken Grilled Cheese
Taste With The Eyes: Bulgogi Panino with Kimchi, Cheddar and Ssamjang Mayo
Virtually Homemade: Creamy Roasted Tomato and Basil Grilled Cheese with Bacon
The Sensitive Epicure: Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Apple, Walnuts and Thyme (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: 10 Grown-Up Grilled Cheeses

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nutella Panna Cotta

This week's blog them is "comforting Valentine's desserts."  My mind automatically goes to chocolate, then to panna cotta, then figuring out how I can incorporate Nutella into it.  Normal progression of a normal person's thought pattern, right?  I wanted to keep to the traditional panna cotta recipe, using sour cream to finish it, giving it a delicate brightness.  I figured that could serve Nutella well.  And it does.  This recipe turned out to be very simplistic in its measurements and minimal in it ingredients (no added sugar needed!), even though it looks super-fancy.  Just the plain Nutella panna cotta is plain brown.  I put a rich Nutella and butter "chocolate button" on top with a sprinkling of chopped toasted hazelnuts for aesthetic and to add textural and flavor intensity.  How I finished it reminds me of an old childhood favorite candy, Toffifany.  (I found an old 1978 Toffifany commercial, "not too good for YOU!")  Hopefully, this dessert works well to win the heart of a Valentine you have in mind.

Nutella Panna Cotta
  • gelatin, unflavored powder, 1 teaspoon
  • water, cold, 1 tablespoon
  • cream, 1 cup
  • Nutella, 1/2 cup (and additional 1/2 cup reserved)
  • salt, pinch
  • vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon
  • sour cream, 4 ounces (1/2 cup)
  • butter, 2 tablespoons
  • hazelnuts, 2 tablespoons, toasted and chopped
  1. In a very small bowl, measure out the gelatin.  Then slowly and gently put the cold water on top.  Allow to sit and "bloom" the gelatin for at least 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium/smallish saucepan, measure and dump in 1 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of Nutella.  Over low/medium heat, gently whisk continuously.  Once it heats up over about 5 minutes, it should become homogenous.  At this point, turn of the heat.  Do not allow to boil.  Add in the bloomed gelatin and whisk until it dissolves completely.  Add in the pinch of salt and vanilla.  Stir well.
  3.  In a separate medium mixing bowl, measure in the 1/2 cup sour cream.  Slowly add in the heated Nutella/cream/gelatin mixture while whisking well.  Make sure it is smooth and no tiny lumps of sour cream.  Pour and divide into 4 tiny bowls (I like the kids IKEA set), ramekins, tea cups, etc...  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  4. Over very low heat in a tiny sauce pan, melt together the 1/2 cup Nutella with the 2 tablespoons butter with constant stirring.  Once it gets liquid, cut the heat or it will get weird and clumpy.  Immediately spoon 1-2 teaspoons of this molten goodness on the set up panna cottas and gently spread into a chocolate button.  Repeat for all 4 portions.  Place a tiny pile of the chopped, toasted hazelnuts on top of the chocolate button.  Serve immediately, or keep in fridge until ready for serving.  Makes 4 servings.  Enjoy!
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on comforting Valentine's desserts.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other awesome desserts to woo your Valentine with:  

Food for 7 Stages of Life: S'mores on a Stick
Tasting With The Eyes: Puff au Chocolat avec Fraises, Basilic, Fleur de Sel

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Arepas: The Ultimate Gluten-Free Sliders with South American Flair

I think it's time to bring arepas out from under the radar and into the spotlight. An arepa is a thick flat bread made from pre-cooked corn flour, and found ubiquitously in Venezuelan and Colombian cuisines. It has to be P.A.N. pre-cooked cornmeal, otherwise it will not work (if you're curious why - read this "production" section). (I find it locally at Von's in the Latino section. Kroger carries it, too.) I remember clearly the first time I had arepas. My Venezuelan roommate, Vivi, made them one night for dinner. She made about a dozen of the arepas and served them still piping hot with a variety of lunch meats, cheeses, butter, and salsa. I was in heaven. My new favorite comfort food, and naturally gluten-free.

I figured these would be perfect as "sliders" for the big game. Everyone can customize them with whatever ingredients you feel like supplying.  I felt more on the South American/exotic/whatever was easy side of ingredients with precooked BBQ pork from the grocery (one of those roasted chickens would work well, too), pepper jack cheese, queso freso, pan-seared plantains, avocados, black beans, and onions. Get creative, or keep it simple. It's your call. It's all about the arepas. My muse for arepas is Caracas Arepa Bar in New York City - I love this place! Just check it out and you will be inspired, too.

  • water, 2 1/2 cups
  • PAN precooked cornmeal flour, 2 cups
  • salt, 1 teaspoon
  • filling of choice: meats, cheeses, hot sauce, plantains, beans, avocado....
In a large bowl, using clean hands, mix together the water, PAN, and salt.  Work the dough well until it thickens a bit and comes together.  Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Lightly oil the surface. Form the arepa cake using a handful of dough and shape it into a puck.  Place on heated surface and cook for about 12 minutes undisturbed.  Flip and cook for 12 minutes on the other side.  Remove from heat.  Allow to cool slightly.  Serve immediately with your spread of choice. Makes about 10-12 arepa sliders.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on sliders.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other awesome sliders to try out:    

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole (Gluten-Free)

Casserole seems like such a broad term to me. It can essentially mean anything that is baked as a one-dish meal. In my mind, that consists of all of the basic food groups in one dish. Ideally that means potatoes, sausage, eggs, cheese, and some vegetables for good measure. One of my friends was mentioning how much he likes tater tot casserole. I was intrigued. I came up with a tater tot "breakfast" casserole that is perfect for any meal, any occasion. Warning, this is far from a "light" meal. Talk about gluttonous comfort food. However, it is gluten-free. That said, gluten-free is now considered healthy.... right?

Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole
  • Tater Tots, 1/2 package (Ore-Ida's the best!)
  • Sausage, 1 tube, 8 ounces
  • Yellow onion, small/medium, diced medium
  • Green bell, diced medium
  • Eggs, 7, lightly scrambled
  • Shredded mild cheddar cheese, 2 cups
  • Salt, pepper, oregano (optional), and cayenne (optional) to taste
  1. Bake the tater tots according to directions on package. Make sure to get them extra crispy to hold up better in the casserole. Put aside and allow to cool.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the sausage over medium-heat. Break up and saute using a spatula. Cook until there is no more pink and is lightly browned. Keeping the grease in the skillet, transfer the cooked sausage into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add in the onions into the skillet with the rendered sausage grease. Saute over medium heat with occasional stirring until the onions are transparent. At that point, add in the green peppers. Saute until just cooked, another 5-7 minutes. Add in seasonings to taste. Transfer to that bowl with the sausage and allow to cool. At this point, make sure the oven is preheated to 350F.
  4. Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Stir into large bowl with the sausage, onions, and peppers. Add in most of the shredded cheese. But save some for the top. Slowly and very gently stir in the tots. They break very easily.
  5. Lightly grease/spray a casserole dish. Turn the mix into the casserole dish. Gently level out the top and evenly cover with the remaining shredded cheese. Place in oven and cook for about 40 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and allow to cook for at least 15 minutes, otherwise it will ooze too much. Enjoy this ridiculousness. Serves 10ish.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on casseroles.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other awesome casseroles to try out:   

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cauliflower 'N Cheese (Gluten-Free)

I spent a couple of days vacillating over how to make a mac 'n cheese that is delicious, somewhat sophisticated, decadent without being too heavy, and relatively healthy.  I find the gym is a good place to brainstorm recipe ideas, especially focusing on healthier and more nutritious options.  A younger, hip lady suggested replacing the pasta with cauliflower.  That was genius. I tend to be very stingy with my imported Italian gluten-free pasta and save it for dishes that are all about the pasta. Let's face it - macaroni and cheese is about the oozy cheese sauce (aka bechamel/mornay sauce) and the gratin topping.  What's on the inside acts as a carrier.

Since I decided the best way to blanch the cauliflower was in the microwave, making the effort much less than cooking pasta to the perfect al dente. I like easy. I did add an extra step in this recipe, sauteing aromatics such as leeks, onions, shallots, and garlic to add in this dish. It adds so much depth, flavor, interest, personality... worth the effort. For the bechamel/mornay sauce I used good old-fashioned butter, potato starch (or any GF flour mix will work), 2% milk, and 2% sharp cheddar cheese which you can't tell. For the gratin topping - butter, instant mashed potato flakes, 2% sharp cheddar cheese, and salt. Yes, this dish requires more work than my usual recipes, but worth the extra effort, I'd like to think...

Cauliflower 'N Cheese with Leeks and Aromatics (Gluten-Free)
  • Cauliflower, 1 average head, washed and leaves removed
  • Butter, 45 grams (2 tablespoons) + more for gratin
  • Potato Starch, 45 grams (2 tablespoons), or any GF flour mix
  • Salt, White Pepper, Nutmeg, Cayenne Pepper
  • Milk, 2%, 2 cups
  • Grated Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, 2%, 2 cups, separated
  • Olive Oil, 2 tablespoons
  • Onion, 1/4, chopped fine
  • Leek, washed super well, chopped fine
  • Shallot, chopped fine
  • Garlic, 2-3 cloves, chopped fine
  • Instant mashed potato flakes, 1 cup
  1.  Microwave the head of cauliflower on high for 7 minutes in a large microwave-safe bowl, covered with plastic wrap. Allow to cool.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over low/medium heat and add in aromatics: leeks, onion, shallot, garlic. Saute with some salt until transparent. Turn off heat.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the measured butter and potato starch, stirring with a whisk. Add in a dash of salt, white pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper. Stir for about 2-3 minutes. Slowly add in the heated milk with vigorous whisking. Bring to a slight simmer. Add in about half of the cheese very slowly with thorough stirring. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Drain any water from the cauliflower and chop into small pieces.
  5. Stir in the sauteed aromatics and chopped cauliflower.
  6. In a small processor, mix together 1 cup instant mashed potato flakes + 1/2 cup of the cheese. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and add and mix again in processor with a little salt.
  7. Preheat oven to 375F. (I used my toaster over which heat up fast and is awesome!)
  8. Turn the cauliflower and cheese sauce into a 8x8 pan or medium size casserole dish. Level out. Evenly distribute the gratin topping on top. Bake fore about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to set up slightly before cutting and serving. Makes about 6-8 servings.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on macaroni and cheese dishes.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFest.  Here are other awesome macaroni and cheese dishes to try out:   

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Egg In The Hole" with Sauteed Spinach

My mother would make us, as she called them "one-eyed sailors," frequently as a child. They are also called "egg in the basket" or "egg in the hole;" simply an egg fried up in a whole within a slice of bread. Cooked up very much like a grilled cheese sandwich. "One-eyed sailors" still remain in my breakfast repertoire. Once I was diagnosed with Celiac, I just switched to gluten-free (GF) bread. That easy. As far as the hole in the bread, I use a butter knife to cut it out after thawing for a few seconds in the microwave. A cookie cutter of any shape or the rim of a glass will work, just make sure to keep the edges of the bread intact. I always have a tub on washed baby spinach in the fridge and like to add into my meals wherever possible. After cooking up my one-eyed sailor, there's all that good stuff in the skillet and in the amount of time it takes to saute up some spinach is the same time that it takes for the one-eyed sailor to cool to a bit. This favorite breakfast of mine takes 7 or 8 minutes tops to make. It takes longer to eat it than to cook it.

One-Eyed Sailor
  • butter, fat, or oil of your choice - 1 tablespoon
  • egg - 1
  • bread - 1 slice (I used Udi's whole grain)
  • garlic salt and pepper to taste
  • baby spinach - 2 handfuls

  1. Prepare the bread: if using frozen bread (like most GF breads), thaw in microwave for 20 seconds. Cut a hole in the center to accommodate for an egg using without cutting in to the edges a butter knife, the rim of a glass, cookie cutter, or biscuit cutter.
  2. Heat a medium/large skillet over medium heat. Add in butter/fat/oil of your choice. (My personal favorite is rendered bacon fat, but anything will work.) Melt and swirl to cover entire surface of skillet.
  3. Place the cut-out bread and the bread hole in the center of the skillet. Press down the edges of the holed bread before cracking egg into it. This should prevent the egg white from running out of the edges. Sprinkle some garlic salt (or any salt or seasoning) onto the egg and bread pieces. Once it has set and white on the bottom of the egg, flip over both pieces. Cook the other side for the same amount of time. I prefer mine somewhere between over easy and over medium.
  4. Remove from skillet onto plate. Return skillet to heat and throw in spinach and saute until wilted with stirring. Add in salt, seasonings, pepper to taste. Should take no longer than 2-3 minutes. Serve on plate with the one-eyed sailor. Grind some black pepper on top, as desired. Eat immediately and enjoy.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on breakfast dishes.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFest.  Here are other awesome breakfast dishes to try out: