Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When in Canada, eh?

Kensington Market, Toronto, ON
I just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - a great book about one family's year of eating local foods - so naturally, when I arrived at Kensington Market in Toronto, I was excited to buy produce grown in Canada. Not only did I find local produce, I found something cool and new that I have never seen before at home - yellow plums! They are more tart than our red plums, which makes them great for baking! (See the Plum Primer.) This recipe comes from none other than Canadianliving.com. When I get home, I wonder if I could adjust down the sugar and use this recipe with sweeter plums. 
3 cups (750 mL) quartered pitted red or yellow plums or pluots, (about 2 lb/1 kg)
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1 lemon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cloves

Place plums and sugar in saucepan. Using vegetable peeler, peel off strips of lemon rind; add to saucepan.
Squeeze lemon to make 1 tbsp (15 mL) juice; add to saucepan along with cinnamon and cloves. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until plums are tender, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or cool. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ft. Lauderdale - Wish you were here!

Ft. Lauderdale Beach
I am always the first person to make excuses about why I can't cook - I don't have time, I haven't been to the grocery store, I just don't feel like it... the list goes on. But I do genuinely enjoy cooking, so when I go on vacation, it's great to be able to relax and make a meal for the people I care about. Making dinner for someone is also a great way to thank some one for their hospitality, if you are bumming a couch, or using the guest bedroom. (See Three Tastes of Chicago)
So I jumped on the opportunity to stay in Ft. Lauderdale in an apartment with a well-stocked kitchen and with a friend willing to be subjected to my cooking. We went to the grocery store together and based our meal on the Thai Kitchen Yellow Curry 10-minute Simmer Sauce that caught our eye. The peppers were just the right amount of crisp and flavorful and the sugar snap peas were deliciously sweet and crunchy!

Yellow Curry Chicken 
Serves 4 
Jasmine Rice, 1 cup, dry
Red Bell Pepper, 1 whole, cut into strips
Shredded Carrots, 1/2 cup 
Sugar Snap Peas, 1/2 cup
Chicken Breast, 1 small (about 3/4 lb)
Yellow Curry Simmer Sauce, 1 1/2 cups
1. Prepare 1 cup jasmine rice according to package directions. 1 1/2 cups water, and 1 cup of dry rice produces 3 cups cooked.
2. Cut chicken breast into thin 1/2" strips
3. Pour yellow curry sauce into a large saucepan, and bring to a light boil
4. Add chicken strips, and lower heat, stirring occasionally 
5. When chicken is half-done, add carrots and peppers
6. When chicken is no longer pink inside, add peas and basil, stir for 2-3 minutes and serve over rice

Allergens: Coconut, Fish, Soy, Peanuts 

Chocolate Scotcheroos & My New Allergen Pledge

I don't pretend to be an expert on gluten-free foods, but I thought I knew a thing or two, considering my background. I have been compiling and checking the allergen information for the menu items we serve at my hospital for the past few weeks now. It was really frustrating when I realized how many allergens there really were in our foods, and how difficult it would be to eat a gluten-free or soy-free diet. Last week, I had a lesson in the difficulty of finding products absent of gluten, soy, coconut, dairy and many other mischievous allergens
I made a false assumption that Rice Krispies were made of rice and hence were gluten-free. I was excited to blog about a delicious gluten-free recipe that I could share with one of my friends with Celiac disease. Before I sent it to her, I went on the Celiac Foundation's Website, only to discover that "malt", a component in many cereals, contains gluten. Kellogg's does make a gluten-free variety from brown rice, but I have to wonder how they could taste the same, and I have never seen them in the grocery store. You probably would have to order them online. Of course, as soon as I learned about this mischievous allergen called malt, I had to look into all the cold cereals we served at my hospital. Every one of them contained gluten. I hope Celiac patients like grits!  
I've always known it was hard to eliminate allergens from the diet, but this really bothered me! So from now on, I will try to list the allergens in my recipes. I think this will bring me new awareness about the difficulty some of my future patients face.
The recipe itself was really easy and fun. I made these delicious treats with my four best friends from high school when we were craving late night sweets. One of them does not like chocolate, so we doubled the batch, and made one pan of treats without the layer of chocolate on top. I actually liked this variation better because it wasn't overly sweet. 
We had many people to occupy in the kitchen and so we decided to start melting the chocolate at the same time that we made the peanut butter mixture. This was a bad idea, our chocolate melted, and then turned chalky before we were ready to use it. We had to add vegetable oil to revive it and it was still a very funny consistency. After 20 minutes of impatient waiting, we decided to just spread the frosting-like chocolate over the treats with a knife. You also may have noticed that our chocolate layer is almost twice as tall as the website picture (above). Only after we poured all four cups of chocolate and butterscotch chips into the pan did we realize that we were only doubling the peanut butter squares, not the chocolate layer on top. The chocolate lovers did not seem to mind :)

Recipe from Kelloggs.com
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® cereal
1 package (6 oz., 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup butterscotch chips

1. Place corn syrup and sugar into 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated. Press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. (A double boiler would work great too.) Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Let stand until firm. Cut into 2 x 1-inch bars when cool.

Note: Before measuring the corn syrup, coat your measuring cup with cooking spray--the syrup will pour easily out of the cup.

Allergens: Wheat, Gluten, Nuts, Corn, Soy, Milk