Gluten-Free Pantry: Mise en Place

Mise en place is basically French for “set in place” or “put in place” or just about any way you want to say “make sure you have everything lined up and ready to go” before you start major cooking projects. Mise en place is the trick to making sure your cooking life goes as planned.

What this means is quite simple: before you start cooking, make sure you have everything ready to go. Utensils, check. Various ingredients measured and ready to use, check. Oven preheated, check. Pre-cooked or par-cooked items pre-cooked or par-cooked, check.
Continue reading “Gluten-Free Pantry: Mise en Place”

Your Gluten-Free Pantry: Basic Chicken Stock

A few years ago, I realized I was wasting a lot of money buying chicken stock. I go through so much of it when cooking, and spending a couple of dollars per container (on the high, I’m going to go organic and all that, end) was insane, especially since making good stock is so easy. I throw everything into the stock pot and let it simmer while I’m doing my other Sunday chores.

It’s good, it’s rich, and not too salty. Plus, I always have stock on hand — no more coming home, starting a meal, and discovering I forgot to buy stock.

Depending on what I’m doing, I make fresh stock every three to four weeks.
What makes this easier for me is assiduous collecting of bones and vegetable scraps throughout the month. I’m a big consumer of rotisserie chicken (nothing makes for faster on-the-go meals), so I freeze the bones after I pull off all the meat. I also toss leftover onions, carrots, and celery into my freezer bag for added flavor.

Roasted chicken bones tend to produce a richer flavor, so I prefer this route over cooking a whole hen…mostly because the resulting meat is so bland, it’s hard to imagine using it in any recipe. Plus stock from a boiled chicken doesn’t have the right golden color. It is pale and insipid, especially when compared to a stock made from roasted bones.

It probably should go without saying, but this process also works incredibly well for making turkey stock.

Quesadillas: Gluten-Free

I admit it: when I went gluten-free, I crossed quesadillas off my list of “love to eats”. I had never, ever seen a quesadilla that didn’t have a wheat flour tortilla involved. Somehow, the whole package — tortillas, cheese, seasonings — seemed like a match made in heaven.

Then I caught myself staring at a package of corn tortillas I had left over from another meal. And I wondered about using corn tortillas in quesadillas. I wondered some more. I plotted my course, and did a little research. Which confirmed what I suspected: corn quesadillas are easy and so tasty.

(Think about it: corn tortillas are generally more flavorful than wheat tortillas, so, of course, they’d make a more delicious quesadilla).

The only trick you need to remember for making these quesadillas is to lightly brush or spray oil onto the quesadilla to help it cook up crisp.

Fast and Easy Teriyaki Sauce

While soy is a lovely gluten-free food, many items made with soy, including the salty soy sauce, are off-limits to those of us on a GF diet. But this doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy these foods — or even make them better than pre-made or restaurant versions.

Take, for example, this quick and easy teriyaki sauce. It require a few ingredients, fifteen or so minutes on the stove. It’s that simple. Best of all, the sauce keeps for a month in the refrigerator, allowing you to try it out on lots of dishes.

My version, adapted from countless magazine recipes, includes sake, a Japanese rice wine. If you don’t have sake available to you, or prefer an alcohol-free version, it can be omitted without ruining the recipe. I find it adds another layer of flavor. Likewise, you can play with proportions to make this recipe your own.

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This

As I often mention to my husband, when it comes to dining out, I can generally find something gluten-free on the menu. It might not be satisfying, or even exciting (why, oh, why do restaurants insist on serving indifferent salads? Sure, it excites me all the more when I find a really great salad, but, wow, what passes for “salad” in this country makes me sad.). But I can generally eat something at most places.

Being gluten-free is a challenge, but it’s one I’ve embraced.

This week, however, I learned about eating in (social) captivity. I was stuck at an all day offsite*. I knew lunch would be served. I had high hopes.

Those hopes were dashed. Rudely. Lunch was sandwiches, accompanied by wan tomatoes and scary-looking pickles (and I love pickles!). Once upon a time, this lunch would have made me pretty happy.
Continue reading “Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This”

Bisquick, or, Then Things Got Weird

As a child, I indulged in Bisquick-based foods quite frequently. I like to think I was known for my fantastic drop biscuits. And, of course, my pancakes were legends in my own mind. I am sure I used my mother’s electric skillet far more than she ever did.

Over time, Bisquick and I grew apart. It wasn’t the Bisquick, it wasn’t me, it was just one of those things. We went in different directions. I started making stuff from scratch. I found solace in cooking. When my youngest sister and I start talking food on Facebook, my mother chimes in with “Where did I go wrong?”.

This didn’t change when I went gluten-free (except, you know, no more Sundays devoted to making sourdough bread, which is shaping up to be my Fall GF cooking project). I shunned prepared mixes and foods, this time with good reason. All those hidden gluten-y things. I was gluten-free, and I was going to do it my way.
Continue reading “Bisquick, or, Then Things Got Weird”

In Progress: Gluten Free Couscous

It’s funny, the foods I’ve missed the most. They’re not what I expected. Though I’ve used Udi’s Gluten-Free Whole Grain bread to make both a grilled cheese and tuna sandwich this week…and they were good. But those cravings were more because I was gifted the bread (a perfect hostess gift), meaning the bread was there, taunting me.

I am very much an out of sight, out of mind eater. I won’t discuss what I’m thinking about the bag of potato chips on the counter. Ob. Scene.

Couscous is a food I truly miss. While ostensibly a pasta dish, it also fills that rice place in a meal. Yes, there are gluten-free couscous options, and, no, I haven’t tried them.
Continue reading “In Progress: Gluten Free Couscous”