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Posts Tagged ‘treenut-free’

  1. Cha Gio / Nem Ran / Vietnamese Fried Rolls

    August 1, 2012 by brett

    Cha Gio
    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…)


  2. Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Basic Dipping Sauce)

    August 1, 2012 by brett

    Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Basic Dipping Sauce)
    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…)


  3. Ingredient Spotlight: Pagoda Bean Thread Noodles

    June 25, 2012 by brett

    Pagoda Bean Thread

    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…)


  4. Hippo Flatbread

    June 21, 2012 by brett

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    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.
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  5. Chocolate Craze Spider Cake

    June 14, 2012 by brett

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    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.)

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  6. Jun Jiu Kao (Pearl Balls)

    May 10, 2012 by brett

    Pearl Balls

    Some days are meant for sitting on the sofa and eating bon bons. While I admit bon bons are incredibly tasty (I had them just once and even made it a point to sit on the sofa while eating them), more often than not, I’ll make jun jiu kao when I’m in need of a comfort food fix.

    Jun jiu kao, or pearl balls, are savory steamed pork meatballs coated with a layer of glutinous rice (rest assured, it’s gluten-free) that is chewy and satisfying. These tasty mouthfuls are also a nice dumpling-type alternative when I want a dumpling but don’t feel like rolling out wrappers. Jun jiu kao are easy to make, easy to make ahead, and easy to reheat. They are great eaten hot, warm, or at room temperature. They’re not too shabby straight out of the fridge, too! Pearl balls make a great snack but can also be served as part of a larger meal. They make for popular party finger food as well. (more…)


  7. Chicken Tofu Gumbo Ya Ya

    May 3, 2012 by brett

    Chicken Gumbo Ya Ya
    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…)


  8. Hippo Bread

    April 29, 2012 by brett

    Gluten Free Hippo Bread

    Every gluten-free cook has his or her signature bread recipe. This is mine.

    A derivation of Neat Bread, Hippo Bread is superior in terms of texture, taste, and appearance thanks to its key ingredient, plain, homemade soy milk. Homemade soy milk acts as a binder, tenderizes the loaf’s crumb, adds a creaminess to the flavor, and imparts an attractive, slightly golden hue.

    Gluten Free Hippo Bread

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  9. Soy Milk

    April 28, 2012 by brett

    Ladle partly submerged in a pot of soy milk, which is ready to be put into the French press for filtering.

    Soy milk is a kitchen basic in our household. It’s good for drinking, but it’s also indispensable in the kitchen as an ingredient in many recipes. Soy milk is an excellent dairy substitute in cooking. It’s also a great egg substitute in recipes requiring the binding (though not rising) properties of eggs.

    My family enjoys eating Hippo Bread, pancakes, brownies, and other bread- and cake-type foods made with it. Soy milk’s by-product, okara, if cooked thoroughly during the soy milk making process, can be toasted in a dry pan and used as a healthy filler for meatballs, dumplings, and the like. (more…)


  10. “Catfish” Tofu

    April 6, 2012 by brett

    Catfish Tofu
    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…)