August 1, 2012 by brett
Of all the various Asian fried rolls I’ve ever eaten, cha gio is the best in terms of taste and texture, hands down. There is just something serendipitous about the interplay between the flavors of the filling ingredients: the taro, the freshly ground pepper, the fish sauce, and of course, the pork and shrimp. Texture-wise, the wood-ear mushrooms, bean thread, and rice paper wrappers enhance the roll greatly, making each bite stimulating and fun.
The chewy-crisp exterior of these rolls pairs well with the fresh green, raw lettuce leaf and herbs commonly used to wrap these rolls. Typically, folks will dip the raw veggie/herb enveloped roll into a small bowl of nuoc cham, a Vietnamese fish sauce-based dipping sauce, just before taking a bite. The contrasts between hot fried and cool/crisp raw, between hearty and refreshingly light, cannot help but delight the senses and inspire second (eh, why stop at second?) helpings. (more…)
Category Recipes, side dish, snacks | Tags: dairy-free,egg-free,gluten-free,nut-free,peanut-free,pork,sesame-free,soy-free,treenut-free | 4 Comments
August 1, 2012 by brett
This ubiquitous, must-have sauce unifies the different flavors in many a Vietnamese dish and makes the entire composition come together and “pop.” Nuoc cham can effortlessly pull together a dish, making it a godsend for anyone looking to get breakfast/lunch/dinner on the table ASAP. I have a small airtight container of this stuff in my fridge at all times.
I generally serve this alongside cha gio (Vietnamese fried rolls) and drizzled over a haphazardly put together bun bowl – cooked rice vermicelli, raw, shredded lettuce, raw, julienned cucumbers, slices of pan-seared tofu or any cooked chicken/pork/beef/shrimp/fish, plus a sprinkling of fresh mint and Thai/Asian basil leaves.
Nuoc cham is also a wonderful accompaniment to non-Viet-style dishes as well. I’ve drizzled it on corn tortillas filled with grilled fish, Viet-style pickles, julienned cucumbers, and a few springs of cilantro, and the result was tasty. Nation borders are but lines on a map; in the mouth and stomach, they don’t exist. (more…)
Category basics, easy | Tags: corn-free,dairy-free,egg-free,fish sauce,gluten-free,nut-free,peanut-free,sesame-free,soy-free,treenut-free | 1 Comment
June 25, 2012 by brett
I sometimes forget that not everyone grew up eating this kind of yummy food. For the record, “Lung Kow” is not a brand name. This term, like “vermicelli,” describes this type of fine, yet resilient, noodle. Bean thread noodles, lung kow noodles, cellophane noodles, glass noodles, and vermicelli are often used interchangeably when describing this kind of food product. It’s primarily made of starch.
The package of Pagoda brand bean thread noodles pictured above has the following ingredients listed on the package: pea(mung bean) starch, corn starch, water. As far as allergens go, my son has eaten these noodles many times for more than a year, and he has never had a reaction to them. He is extremely allergic to wheat and all forms of gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats), dairy, egg, tree nuts (except for coconut), peanuts, and sesame. (YMMV.)
Bean thread noodles are wonderful in stir fries. They’re also nice in soupy/stewy dishes, and they make a great filler ingredient for dumplings and fried rolls. Bean thread noodles, which can soak up a lot of liquid (commonly vegetable or chicken stock when added to stir fries), adopt and intensify the flavors of the dish easily, making the bean thread noodles quite tasty.
Made correctly, these fine noodles can be addictive. They have a wonderful mouth feel: chewy, bouncy, happy-go-lucky. They soak up flavorful broth like mad and add substance to a dish without weighing down the dish. Even though they’re made primarily of starch, they don’t feel starchy at all, and you’re definitely not feeling weighed down by carb overload after a meal of these noodles. Go figure, eh? (more…)
Category Ingredients | Tags: chinese,dairy-free,egg-free,fish-free,gluten-free,in our pantry,noodles,nut-free,pantry,peanut-free,sesame-free,shellfish-free,soy-free,treenut-free,vegan,vegetarian | 1 Comment
June 21, 2012 by brett
Flatbread plays an extremely important role in the cuisine’s of most cultures around the world. It is the building block, the basis, of many a meal worldwide. Flatbread fills the belly, nourishes the body, and feels good in mouth and hand in all its soft/chewy/crispy/crunchy glory. It can be eaten alone (it’s so convenient on the go — a great stroller snack), or it can accompany stews, curries, meats, veggies — whatever you like. Flatbread is like rice, the perfect white shirt, and the name Michael*: It goes with everything.
Category baked goods, breads, easy, Recipes, side dish, snacks, starch | Tags: baked,bob's red mill,bread,dairy-free,egg-free,erawan,fingerfood,fish-free,gluten-free,glutinous rice flour,nut-free,peanut-free,quick,rice flour,sesame-free,shellfish-free,snack,soy-free,treenut-free,vegan,vegetarian | 1 Comment
June 14, 2012 by brett
This was my son’s birthday cake this year. I was so happy he loved it!!!
An old-fashioned term, “spider” refers to a cast iron skillet, which I use to make this cake; spiders are not an ingredient. Pineapple Upside Down Cake is probably one of the best known spider cakes baked today.
The use of vinegar and baking soda to provide the acid/basic-inspired rise of the cake, and the oddball directions to add liquid ingredients into three “troughs” or indentations in the dry mixture, followed by pouring water all over the top, provide unmistakable clues to the ancestry of this cake. This cake is a gluten- and allergen-free descendent of an American classic known by many names: Crazy Cake, Wacky Cake, Oil and Vinegar Cake.
Typically, Crazy Cake is made in an 8″ or 9″ square pan, though I’ve seen it doubled into a 9″ x 13″ sheet cake creation as well. In the past, I’ve made my own gluten- and allergen-free version in a 5″x7″ Pyrex baking dish. (To see a lemon version, check out Lemon Craze.)
Category baked goods, dessert, easy, Recipes, snacks | Tags: allergen-free,baked,bob's red mill,cake,dairy-free,dessert,egg-free,erawan,fingerfood,fish-free,gluten-free,grains,nut-free,peanut-free,quick,rice flour,sesame-free,shellfish-free,snack,soy-free,treenut-free,vegan,vegetarian | No Comments
May 3, 2012 by brett
Yup, you read right — gumbo with tofu. Now before ya’ll get started with me, let me start off by saying that if you’re allergic to soy, if tofu isn’t your thing, or if you believe in all that crazy hype about soy being bad for you, please, by all means, leave out the tofu. The gumbo will be just as tasty, though it will miss the added textural dimension and surprising “pops” of flavor provided by the deep-fried tofu, which soaks up the savory broth like nobody’s business.
OK. Who’s still with me? (more…)
Category main dish, Recipes | Tags: dairy-free,egg-free,fish-free,gluten-free,nut-free,peanut-free,sesame-free,shellfish-free,soy-free,treenut-free | 2 Comments
April 6, 2012 by brett
Tasty, easy, and fast, “Catfish” Tofu — which contains no catfish — is my primary go-to dish on nights when I’m too tired to do anything but am having one of those gotta-get-dinner-on-the-table-NOW-or-else-hungry-toddler-is-gonna-have-a-meltdown nights. (more…)
Category easy, main dish, Recipes | Tags: corn-free,dairy-free,egg-free,fish sauce,gluten-free,nut-free,peanut-free,sesame-free,shellfish-free,soy-free,treenut-free | 1 Comment
March 23, 2012 by brett
I vividly remember the first time I had hash browns. My Aunt Rose had taken my mom, my brothers, and her daughter, my cousin Sabrina, to Hobo Joe’s, a chain eatery that no longer exists in Los Angeles. Aunt Rose ordered hash browns, and my, they were dee-lightful! The texture was light, ever so slightly crispy on the outside yet soft and tender and the inside, the color was a lovely golden brown, and the taste was lighthearted yet earnest in note. I LOVED them! Hobo Joe’s no longer exists, but my memory — and these potatoes — still do. (more…)
Category Recipes, side dish, snacks, starch | Tags: corn-free,dairy-free,egg-free,fish-free,gluten-free,nut-free,peanut-free,sesame-free,shellfish-free,soy-free,vegan,vegetarian | No Comments
March 19, 2012 by brett
I love this sausage recipe, which comes from Jeff Smith’s wonderful cookbook, The Frugal Gourmet, a companion to his PBS cooking show, which I grew up watching. I use this sausage primarily as a pizza topping, but it would be great over rice, in a red sauce — whatever strikes your fancy. The above is a photo of a pizza I made that incorporates the sausage as one of its many toppings. (more…)
Category basics, easy, main dish, Recipes | Tags: corn-free,dairy-free,egg-free,fish-free,gluten-free,italian,nut-free,peanut-free,pork,sesame-free,shellfish-free,soy-free,treenut-free,turkey | 2 Comments
March 19, 2012 by brett
FYI: I’m in the middle of updating this recipe. I’ve had too many disasters, so consider this recipe problematic prone for now. Will post again as soon as I can get it right and duplicate good results reliably. Thanks!
This dish relies on annatto seeds, not tomato, for its distinctive orange-redness and smoky, earthy flavor. It’s a classic accompaniment to Chamorro-style barbecue at fiestas. Everyone adds their own touch to this dish: bacon, hot peppers, peas, etc. (more…)
Category easy, side dish, starch | Tags: chamorro,corn-free,dairy-free,egg-free,gluten-free,grains,nut-free,peanut-free,rice,sesame-free,shellfish-free,soy-free,treenut-free,vegan,vegetarian | No Comments