Archive for Quick (less than 30-40 minutes)

GF Mac and Cheese – Delicious, Fast and Good!

YUM! And totally GF

YUM! And totally GF


We love our Mac and Cheese!

And there’s no reason Gluten Free Mac’n’Cheese should not be entirely as delicious, comforting and delightful as “the other kind”.

Follow along and you’ll see how two simple recipe modifications gives you a gluten free mac and cheese that is ready to comfort your family on a Sunday night, serve to guests (who you really, really like!) and make – quickly and easily – for yourself, when you just need a Mac’n’Cheese.

Ingredients (serves 4 as a solid side. Easily doubles. Or triples!)

  • 7 oz. Rigatoni Gluten Free Penne Rigate (or other brand, I used Rigatoni and it was excellent)
  • 6 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (I used Tillamook Sharp White Cheddar)
  • 4 oz. Fontina, coarsely grated. I used a Danish fontina – Celebrity Brand – but any Fontina or other soft mild cheese will do wonderfully.
  • 2 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, grated fine
  • 3 slices your favorite “plain” gluten free bread, chopped, then pulverized into bread crumbs in a blender or food processor.
    • NOTE: If you like, you can then “toast” these bread crumbs in a skillet with about 1/2 tsp. butter, for a richer, moister flavor. This is optional, but a nice thing to do if you have time.
  • 2 oz. – 4 pats – unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C. tapioca starch. This is available at most supermarkets in the “grains” section where they have the individually bagged grains. Bob’s Red Mill is the brand I use, and I like it quite a lot.
  • 1-1/2 C. whole milk
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground (or powdered) nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (OPTIONAL. If you are on a low FODMAPS diet, try substituting about 1 tsp. garlic infused oil – here’s a great technique for making infused oils for a low FODMAPS diet: Low FODMAP garlic infused oil – (opens in new tab).


Heat a sauce pot over medium heat until hot and melt the butter. Add the tapioca flour and whisk briskly into the butter for two minutes until it is entirely absorbed and you can smell the flour cooking a bit.

Add the milk and whisk briskly for a few minutes, then keep cooking until you have a smooth, thick mixture. This will take about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the salt, the grated Cheddar, the Fontina, half the chipotle (1/4 tsp), the nutmeg, and the (OPTIONAL) garlic / garlic infused oil.

Butter an 8″ baking dish (or, if you only have 9″ baking dishes, butter one of those, the Mac’n’Cheese just won’t be quite as tall in the dish).


Boil the pasta. IMPORTANT, trick 1! If your package directions read something like “boil for 7 minutes”, boil them, counting the time after the water returns to a boil, for 4 minutes. You should be just barely able to pierce the pasta with a fork.

In a large bowl, mix the pasta thoroughly with the cheese mixture and turn out into the prepared baking dish. Top with the finely grated Parmesan, your GF bread crumbs and the rest (1/4 tsp.) of the chipotle powder.

Pre-heat oven. IMPORTANT, trick 2! You’re going to cook the mac’n’cheese at two temperatures. This is super easy. Just set your oven to 325F. You’ll cook the pasta for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature up to 375 Fahrenheit degrees and cook for another 5 minutes (measure the 5 minutes from when the oven tells you it’s up to temperature). This gives you enough cooking time to properly finish cooking the pasta, along with enough heat – at the end – to give it a slightly crisp, browned top.

The finished pasta dish should be bubbling a little and beautifully browned on the top, as in the picture!

Crust, crunch, flavor, great mouth feel - and totally GF!

Crust, crunch, flavor, great mouth feel – and totally GF!



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Experiential Cookery – Savory Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Fritters. Or maybe they’re pancakes.

Side View - Asparagus Smoked Salmon Fritter / Stuffed Pancake

Side View – Asparagus Smoked Salmon Fritter / Stuffed Pancake

What is the difference between fritters and pancakes? What’s in a name? A batter of flour, milk, and eggs is common to both, although the flour may be amended by almost any additional starch, such as potato, and enhanced by rising agents such as baking soda or baking powder.

You make a pancake by frying a small amount in a pan to form a thin cake (a cake fried in a pan, aha!), which you can offer a slightly Continental flair by calling it a crêpe.

But it’s still a pancake.

You will typically serve this basic pancake with butter. Sugar. Maple syrup! Distilled fruit juices. You can even fill it up by folding or rolling it around something. Like bananas. Or blueberries. Or. . .Bacon!!

So that’s a pancake. If you dip a filling in the raw batter, then fry it up, voila! You have a fritter. Now this is – of course – more of a guideline then a rule, but you see where we’re going with this. My take, after much observation of fritterists and pancakistas is that:

If there’s more stuff than batter, it’s a fritter. If there’s more batter than stuff, it’s a pancake. Pancakes and fritters have both been around for a very long time – see the recipe snipped below. Read the rest of this entry »

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Recipes: Algorithms or Heuristics – Pad See Ew – Factory Style

Pad See Ew - in the Wok, almost ready to serve

Pad See Ew – in the Wok, almost ready to serve

Heuristics, Algorithms and Recipes, Oh My!!

Some people like recipes that are algorithmic – in fact, most recipes are algorithmic. So many tablespoons of this, a cup and an eighth of that, 14oz. of flour – cook for 25 minutes at 387 ° Fahrenheit – you know the drill.

The thing is – ovens vary – 375 in one oven is 352 in another, and one person’s fast simmer is another’s medium boil. A cup – sure, that’s a cup, but you know, the real way to measure is with weights, and my cup of flour might outweigh yours by 15-20%!!

In that spirit, I offer this yummy heuristic recipe for Pad See Ew. Fat rice noodles with meat and egg and gai lan (Chinese broccoli), dark soy, onions and a few other condiments, this is street-food comfort food at its best. OK, you can use broccolini. Or, if it’s around, you can even use broccoli – standard, beautiful broccoli – if you just cut the stems into long thin strips and split the florets into 3-4 pieces, depending on their size. Read the rest of this entry »

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Snack Food as an Art Form – Tortilla Espagnole


An elegant potato frittata - a national snack food!

An elegant potato frittata – a national snack food!

I was lucky enough to win the blue ribbon at our local Culinary Art Society monthly dinner gathering with this dish – a rich, elaborate potato frittata that is one of the most popular types of tapas in Spain today. I adapted this recipe from one shared by Bobby Navarro (100eats100days).

I remain convinced that it is not necessary to fry the onions in the large semi-deep-fry amount of oil (see the recipe below) that you’ll later use for your potatoes. Proponents of the “cook the onions in the deep pool of oil” note that this will give the potatoes a better, more onion-y flavor.

I don’t think so, but I was in a hurry, and so – I cooked to the recipe’s indicated technique. Next time I make these, I’m going to try an entirely different technique and will report back to you on how it turns out!

This is the classic Spanish tapas and is something you will see (we did!) at virtually every place in Spain where tapas are sold or given away. I’ve tarted it up a little with some good local chorizo and a little homemade sofrito.

I love how the Spanish have transformed snacking into an art form. In the States, snack food is a mercilessly commercial operation, where we are besieged with engineered snack foods designed to turn us into, well, mindless munchers. In Spain, snacking – tapas – is an art form that celebrates local ingredients, unusual and beautiful preparations and regional culinary heritage.

Makes enough for 2 tortillas, about 50-60 small wedges as tapas. Served with chorizo and homemade sofrito.


  • 3 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (or use any waxy potato), peeled and sliced into approx. 1/8th” slices
  • 3 large sweet yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced into very thin slices
  • 14-16 large eggs (depending on the actual size!)
  • 1-1/2 T coarse salt (I used Kosher)
  • Half a sweet red pepper, chopped
  • ½ lb. chorizo (sausage style, not cured)
  • 1 Pint homemade sofrito
  • Olive oil for frying, so no need to use expensive Extra Virgin, whose flavors will be lost in the fry!


Put potato slices in a large bowl of warm water for about ten minutes or so to remove surface starch. Strictly speaking, this is not required, but it makes for much easier frying and a cleaner tortilla. Treat your potato slices like this and they will not stick to the pan or to other slices!

Remove from water, spin dry, then pat dry with paper towels.

Heat about 1” of oil in a good sized fry pan. Note: You can re-use this oil and not that much of it stays with the tortilla! It should be hot enough that an onion slice sizzles immediately after being dropped in.

Fry sliced onion until it begins to turn a little golden, about 8-10 minutes.

When the onion is almost done, add the red pepper and stir fry for another minute or so until the pepper has softened.

Remove onions with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined container. Try to shake off as much oil as possible from onions, and then turn them once or twice in the paper to make sure as much oil as possible is removed.

Using the same oil put about half the potatoes into the pan and fry them until they’re puffy and golden, about 10 minutes. Move them about a bit with a heatproof spatula or tongs, so they cook evenly.

Remove potatoes with slotted spoon, again shaking off as much oil as possible, and add to onion mixture. I like to put another paper towel or two on top of the potatoes briefly to remove additional oil, but it’s not required.

Repeat with remaining potatoes. Sprinkle with 1 T of the salt or to taste (mine is for a little bit more salt), turning gently to let salt come in contact with as much of the mixture as possible.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk eggs and mix with the remaining salt. You want to mix them a bit, but not so much that they homogenize entirely and get runny.

Mix the potato onion mixture with the eggs and fold in gently

Heat a medium sized nonstick fry pan and add a little of the olive oil from the potatoes. Add half the egg potato mixture and fry gently over medium heat, stirring a little with a spatula. When the eggs have just begun to set up, turn heat to low and cover the pan. Cook another few minutes until eggs are set, but still a bit loose.

Put a large plate over the pan and invert the pan over the plate, plopping the omelet into the plate. CAREFUL, there’s hot oil here! Slide the omelet back into the pan and cook for another few minutes until both sides have been lightly browned.  As Julia Child says “Flipping anything is an act of faith.” Have courage – this will work for you!

Slide tortilla out of the pan onto a cutting board and let cool. Repeat with rest of egg potato mixture. Slice into thin wedges for tapas.

If desired, top each wedge with a little fried chorizo, add a small thin piece of manchego cheese atop each wedge, and serve on top of slices of baguette, cut on the bias and lightly toasted or grilled. Spread a bit of your homemade sofrito on each baguette slice before arranging the tortilla wedge – you’ll be glad you did!

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There Are Two Kinds of Cooks in the World – Stuffed Scalloped Potatoes Gratin

Stuffed, Scalloped Potatoes with Kale Salad

Stuffed, Scalloped Potatoes with Kale Salad

No. Really. Two kinds. And hang on for a moment, because towards the end of this piece, we’re going to talk about what they are. But first, let’s talk stuffed scalloped potatoes.

They are astonishingly good, you can make them in a wide variety of ways – they’re one of those dishes that can be elegant and mannered or real refrigerator cleaners. And I mean that in the very best of all possible ways. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s a Problem – But It’s a *Good* Problem – What Should We Do With These Eggs??

One of the things we are grateful for is our wonderful neighbors - and their amazing eggs!

One of the things we are grateful for is our wonderful neighbors – and their amazing eggs!

Our neighbor Ginny stopped by and brought us a dozen entirely perfect eggs from her rural chicken ranch. Free-range pets fed on the finest seeds and insects, her chickens lay eggs that – at this time of year – have rich orange yolks, a sturdy shell and a white that hangs together in a perfect circle in poaching water.

But. . .now I’m wondering – what is the perfect dish to showcase these babies?

What dish would you like to see these eggs star in?

I’m open to suggestions. If I end up taking your suggestion, I’ll try it out and write about it in a future post. You’ll get credits and all kinds of good ‘boo!!

So help me out – what can I do with these utterly gorgeous eggs!!

I mean really!!

  • Scotch eggs
  • Deviled eggs
  • Bacon and eggs
  • Ham and eggs
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Poached eggs
  • Fried eggs
  • Shirred eggs
  • Coddled eggs
  • Omelets
  • Pickled eggs
  • Quiche

The list goes on – this doesn’t even scratch the surface!! Comment with your suggestions and help me figure out what to do with these eggs!



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Darwinian Nachos – An Apex Choice for Dinner

Almost My Birthday Dish!

October 21st is the International Day of the Nacho. It’s right after my birthday, which is one reason why I have such an affinity for this brilliant dish.
OK, I have lots of reasons, including sheer deliciousness, ease of preparation and versatility. But it doesn’t hurt that it’s almost my birthday dish.

As served in restaurants across the US, nachos are often a weighty, substantial offering – it’s funny to see them as a 3000 calorie snack item in the Appetizers section of the menu.

As served in many parts of Mexico, those same nachos are typically a delightful and relatively light quick snack or appetizer with a perfect blend of salt, savory and heat and a beautiful mix of ingredients.

A couple of decades ago, we first started making nachos in the more traditional Mexican style, but over time, this dish has evolved. Today, it incorporates veggies, beans, greens – it’s become a complete meal, all done in one pot, er, tray. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three little steps – W. African style ground nut stew

2013-02-02 18.43.51I love stews! There’s something magical about tossing a bunch of stuff in a pot and simmering it for a while until it’s done. Bonus! Most stews taste wonderfully better on the following day, after the flavors have had a chance to marry more thoroughly, making them perfect for long-range eating.

The wonderful New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik in his “The Table Comes First” notes that the cookery for essentially all dishes can be divided into three parts. I learned this by listening to Bonney talk about the book as I cooked the stew, which I realized was indeed a three-parter! I’ll talk about the three parts in the “Method” section of this post. Read the rest of this entry »

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