Blueberry Tartlets That Thrill!


Blueberries rule my universe right now; plentiful and sweet.  The flavor can’t be beat. My guy loves them and I have to agree; they are the tastiest and healthiest fruit for me. Haha! Seriously this is all true and I am in love with these tartlets. The crust to fruit ratio is perfect and I made them with a minimum of sugar as these ripe berries are already quite sweet. I got my fruit at Aldi’s for a great price; every grocery store has blueberries by the pint, often on sale. They are very good for your body; full of fiber, low in sugar, and full of other nutrients. They are especially you have blood sugar issues.  See http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287710.php for more information.

Tips: Try not to bake in a hot kitchen; it makes it hard to roll out dough or even make the crumb mix. If it gets above 76 degrees you should turn on the air to keep your crust from acting weird.  I had to put mine in the freezer for a bit to help it hold the desired shape.

Don’t eat these tartlets fresh from the oven; they should be cooled to just warm or room temperature or even a bit chilled. They were perfect, just like a big pie only tiny each is one individual dessert.  You could certainly serve them with vanilla ice cream. We had them that way the other night and that was a treat indeed.

My apologies: these pictures were taken in a hurry; hot day and there was no spare time so they are looking rustic and crumbs dot the baking pan but frankly rustic tartlets are lovely. Be as tidy as fits your needs.

Angie’s GF Blueberry Crumb Tartlets: makes 6

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 large egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

You will need 6 flat bottom 4 inch tartlet pans if you make them all at once. My pans are 4 in an attached group. I baked 4 one day and 2 the next day

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

2 1/3 cups fresh blueberries, place in medium bowl

Mix with:

6 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. quick tapioca

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Let stand while you prepare the crumb crust. This is important so the tapioca can soften and absorb some juices before baking. If you like things tart add a tsp or two of fresh lemon juice to the berries.

Tartlet construction: Break dough into a large ball and a small one. Roll out big ball in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even and somewhat thin, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in 4 set tartlet pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Cut into 4 pieces with a sharp knife. Mold the crust to fill each tartlet shape with no holes or thin spots. Do the same with the smaller ball and create 2 more tartlet crusts. If you only have one pan you can refrigerate the dough and make the two other tartlets later.  Fill each tartlet with fruit mixture to the top of the dough… after you have the crumb topping ready to go.

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form. If you let them go extra long you get big fat crumbs if you want that look and I did!

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Sprinkle the top of each tartlet with crumb mix; use as much as you like.  I didn’t measure; just sprinkled until the fruit was barely visible through the crumbs. Up to your personal taste… It sinks partially into the fruit mixture and adds lots of sweetness and eye appeal.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30-32 minutes until bubbly and the crumb crust is light brown.  Cool at least a half hour before serving at room temperature.  I think it is best served the same day you make it, or no more then 12 hours after baking for optimal flavor.  The crumbs will get soggy if too much time passes. Mine was still very good the next day; just not as great as when really fresh.

blueberry tartlet 2017

Note: if you find your bottom crust is not browning enough bake it empty at 375 degrees for 5-8 minutes before filling it with the fruit.  I have a bottom heat pizza style oven which gives me perfect pie crust so I don’t ever have pale pie crust. This is a big benefit of having this type of oven; it is a two oven range with a full sized lower oven.

Brown Rice Flour Mix (Same as King Arthur GF All purpose blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour

1/3 c tapioca flour

Note: the crust and crumb recipe are out of Annalise Roberts cookbook, Gluten Free Baking Classics, Second Edition. Adaptation and filling recipe are mine.

Japanese Eggplants with Ground Chicken or Pork: Delightful!

There is this recipe for chowed eggplant with ground pork that I make often when I can find skinny Japanese eggplants. Chowed means stir fried.  It comes out great every time I make it, slight addiction is my position on this recipe. This latest version uses ground chicken thigh meat instead of ground pork. If you get tired of pork or don’t eat it this is an excellent choice.  I bought it at Valley Farm Markets; their meats can’t be beat for flavor and value! I suppose you can used ground chicken breast too. Anyway, it worked very well.

I added some sticks of fresh zucchini from my garden  and a bit of sliced cabbage.  It was delish for sure. The original recipe is by Jeff Smith, out of his cookbook, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines; China, Greece and Rome. It is full of great recipes; where I got my potsticker and other dim sum recipes.  No judging here of Chef Smith; just enjoying great food…

Notes; can change out zucchini and or cabbage, for green beans, carrots, pea pods…but you can’t change out the eggplant.  Ground pork is excellent this way as well. Can use yellow onion rather than green if you prefer; cook a bit longer than scallions if you do.  You could also serve this with rice noodles; the wide kind you let soak in boiling hot water for ten minutes; that’s all the cooking it needs.

Angie’s Eggplant with Ground Chicken

1 lb skinny Japanese eggplant

1 tsp salt

½ tsp. light soy sauce, gf

1 ½ tsp. dry sherry or rice wine

½ tsp. grated fresh ginger

½ lob ground chicken, preferably thigh meat

2 tbsp. mild olive oil or peanut oil

2 cloves of garlic minced

3-4 green onions sliced in 1 to 2 inch lengths and cut in half if white part

1 cup zucchini strips; long rectangle shape

2/3-1 cup sliced green cabbage; not too thin

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Pinch sugar

Directions:

Cut unpeeled eggplants into ½ inch thick diagonal slices and cut each in half the long way. Sprinkle with salt, let stand ½ hour draining in a colander.  Pat dry with paper towels.

Mix meat with soy sauce sherry and fresh ginger, let stand 20 to 30 minutes.

Slice or chop veggies.

Heat wok and add 1 tbsp. oil. Add ground meat mixture and flatten a bit; cook until browned lightly; flip over and brown other side; no pink showing; chop up with utensil and set aside.  Add rest of oil and then garlic, cook 30 seconds, add eggplant, cook until it appears more than half done; about 5 minutes; then add zucchini and cabbage, stir for 4-5 minutes, add sesame oil and green onions. Stir a minute, add pinch sugar, wok until cabbage is crisp tender.

eggplant stir fry on plate

Serve with brown or white rice.  I made my brown rice in my handy instant pot pressure cooker.  I did a cup of long grain brown rice, 1 ¼ cup water, 1 tsp. oil, ½ tsp. sea salt; Manual high pressure for 20 or so minutes, ten minutes natural release.  Easy peasy.


 

Tabouli Salad…GF of Course!

 

I love fresh summer salads on hot days, for parties, for supper alone or with a loved one. They pair well with grilled proteins and dress up a meal that was so so before you got out the chilled bowl of pretty salad.  There are a few salads I had to give up due to ingredients like bulgur wheat, farro, orzo pasta.  Or so I thought. I now use quinoa and make a wonderful tabouli salad; the quinoa replaces the bulgur wheat very nicely.  I particularly like the three color blend of quinoa for this purpose.  You cook it on the stove top, cool it few minutes and it is ready to use.  This quick to make and refreshing salad is very healthy. If you didn’t know it, quinoa comes from Peru and has a fair amount of protein in it; great for vegetarians. I like it’s refreshing flavors.

tabouli salad

Angie’s GF Tabouli Salad

Ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa

2 cups water

½ tsp. salt

——-

1/3 cup finely diced sweet onion

2/3 cup finely diced burpless cucumber

½ cup finely diced raw zucchini

1/3-1/2 finely diced orange bell pepper

1 large ripe tomato, diced

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint

3-4 tbsp. EVOL of excellent quality

2-3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

½ a lemon; juiced and zested

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:  Mix the quinoa, water and salt in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, cover tightly and cook 15 minutes. Uncover and cool.

Dump cooled quinoa in a large mixing bowl.  Add the veggies and drizzle with the olive oil and then sprinkle with the vinegar and lemon juice.  Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Chill at least 30 minutes before serving so flavors can blend and it chills. An hour is better.  My amounts for the veggies are approximate and if you don’t like something; don’t use it.  The mint is really what makes it taste perfect so try it before you decide to not use it. If you hate it; use fresh chopped parsley instead of mint.  I also don’t measure the oil and vinegar; taste and add more if you want more. Don’t make a sopping wet salad; shouldn’t be any extra dressing in the bottom of the bowl.  Put it in a nice serving dish before you bring it to the table. Chill the dish if it is a hot day.

Notes: I grate the lemon peel into the salad before I juice it, easiest. It keeps 2-3 days in the fridge; you could make it the day before if you need to.  For that add the tomato and mint the day you are serving it. Try to get a beautiful tomato that is fully ripe and a tender zucchini makes the best quality salad here. Yes, raw zucchini; it doesn’t taste like that much but it adds something to the mix and your company will never know it isn’t cuke if you don’t tell them!  Enjoy this naturally gluten free summer salad.

Chocolate Egg Cream – Thirst Quencher

Sometimes I want something chocolaty but I don’t want a brownie, chocolate pudding or ice cream or even a chocolate bar.  I am simply thirsty.  Hot days like today make a cool tall drink a life saver.  Those are the times I reach for my bottle of U-bet Chocolate Syrup.  Lickity split I can make an old school drink that is low sugar, low fat and thirst quenching; the venerable chocolate egg cream.  Funny thing is, there is no egg in it and often no cream.  I sometimes do use half and half but you can make this with any sort of milk you like, even one or two percent.  I do discourage the use of skim or non fat milk, at least a little richness is required. My favorite is whole milk.

The chocolate egg cream is allegedly from Brooklyn, NYC.  The New York Egg Cream is a variation of the milkshake popular back from the 1880s which had an egg beaten in it.  This version I have replicated became popular partially because it was cheaper for soda fountains to make because it had no egg.  I am not a big fan of raw eggs in my drinks so I am happy indeed that this “modern” version is sans egg!

I have been making it for years, one of my sisters taught me how.

This is such a simple recipe; get a tall glass, pour in ½ inch depth of some sort of milk, your choice of richness squirt about 1-2 tsp. of chocolate syrup on top, I used to use Hershey’s until I discovered U-Bet syrup which I think has a superior flavor.

 ubet syrupI never measure; just enough to flavor the milk, maybe two tsp.?  Stir them together well with an ice tea spoon, Add 3-6 ice cubes and fill the glass with well chilled seltzer water. Stir it again. I favor flavored seltzer, the raspberry or cranberry are particularly good for this drink as they add quite a bit of flavor and complexity to this simple little thirst quencher! Recently I tried watermelon seltzer and today, some mango seltzer.  A fresh bottle makes the foamiest egg cream so I recommend you splurge and start with a new bottle for your drink preparation. choco egg cream

Be sure to use a tall glass, it just won’t taste the same in a stubby little one!

So, next time you are longing for a light refreshing soft drink but one with a touch of chocolate, make a chocolate egg cream and smile because it is delicious, has no added sugar and if you use u-bet syrup and one percent milk it is pretty darn low fat!

 

Smoked Bratwurst from Aldi’s: Yummy!

 

A day too late for a Memorial Day barbeque, but I’ve been busy and somehow this blog has become a lower priority this May because I am utterly consumed with work, gardening and especially tired due to recovering from my knee replacement surgery. Not writing to share excuses but there they are, regrettably valid.  I’m writing today to share a tasty meat product I found at Aldi’s: smoked bratwurst.smoked bratwurstThey taste so great after you grill them a bit; get those grill marks going and they burst just a bit on the sides, perfect!   We had ours with gf hot dog rolls by Schar; okay but seemed bready to me as I tend to want a thinner bun. I am so over eating a lot of bread these days but a roll to put my wurst in seemed appropriate.  For condiments we had an unusual combination but it worked; spicy whole grain brown mustard, finely chopped Vidalia onion and horseradish from a just opened bottle.  Lots of zing going on and it matches well with the flavor of these brats.

To me they taste like the best hot dogs ever. I had a Nathan’s hot dog the other week and while it was decent; these brats were so much tastier. They are fairly cheap; about $3 for five of these fat brats.  The package even says gf on it; no guessing involved. Great flavor, easy to fry up and super pricing: awesome choice for a bbq.  They are vacuum packed which keeps them very fresh until you are ready to fry these chubby wursts up for a hungry group of friends at your next barbeque. Enjoy!

Seafood Cakes

Once at the Springtown Inn I had the most delicious seafood cakes, this was 8-9 years ago.  Well, to be honest, maybe twice I had them. Anyway, they were made with two or three different seafood proteins I think they had shrimp and crab but it was such a length of time that I can’t remember for sure.  Anyway, I had long wanted to create a similar dish.  Searched for a recipe and not finding one that was really close I took one from Food Network and modified it.  The recipe featured small sized cakes with a fresh salsa on top, made by Robert Irvine. I didn’t do the salsa and I made a few changes to the cakes.

I made them two different versions; lobster, shrimp and crab and one with flounder instead of the crab.  Both were easy to construct and delightful. The flavor is delicate and light. I didn’t make a sauce in the interest of that delicacy plus it was easier and included less calories. We agreed they were fine all alone but go right ahead and made a sauce of your choice. Mr. Irvine suggests a sauce of equal parts crème fresh and sour cream.  I might try that next time!

seafood cakes frying

Angie’s Seafood Cakes

¼ lb medium raw shrimp; peeled and no tails

a 4oz. lobster tail, removed from shell and still raw

1/3 lb raw flounder or crabmeat

2 tbsp. finely chopped shallots

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

1/3 cup gf bread crumbs, preferably panko plus more if desired for coating cakes

1 tsp. garlic powder

Half a lemon, zested

1/3 cup Mayonnaise, might need a tad more….

2 tbsp. finely grated parmesan cheese (I made one version without)

1-2 tbsp. mild olive oil

Directions:

Chop the raw lobster tail into chunks. Put the seafood in a food processor, process briefly until fairly small particles but not even close to a paste.  Dump in a big bowl, add the shallots, parsley, bread crumbs, garlic powder, zest, mayo and cheese, stir to blend well. Don’t overblend; stop as soon as it seems fairly even. If you like; before stirring add salt and pepper to taste; maybe ½ tsp. sea salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Form into 4 cakes. If you want them crunchy on the outside gently press into some more bread crumbs to crumb both sides.  Put on a large plate and chill an hour so they hold their shape.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet to hot and fry them about 3 minutes to a side; do not let burn!  I turned down the heat after a minute so they kept cooking but at a temperature less likely to turn them dark brown. But don’t use low temps or you will get a greasy cake!

seafood cake with risotto

Serve with some rice pilaf and your favorite vegetable; asparagus comes to mind! I made pea risotto which was divine.

1774 Grille & Tap Reboot

Eating out on a Thursday as opposed to a noisy Saturday night can be a very different experience.  I returned to 1774 Grille & Tap in Hellertown, Pennsylvania recently and enjoyed the quiet of the side dining room at the 1774 Grille.  It was nearly deserted when we got there although by the time we left close to eight it was filling up. This lovely small dining room has several windows that look out on birdfeeders and it was just perfect for enjoying a quiet meal. Just outside was a long, narrow herb garden which I am guessing plays a key component in creating their fresh and made to order entrees.

1774 grille 005

We were promptly seated and ordered drinks.  My companion enjoyed his micro brew watermelon beer although he said he didn’t taste much watermelon flavor…maybe a good thing? I had a wonderful glass of Riesling; not the same one as last time but possibly even better. Touches of fruit and an inviting crispness that made me long for a bigger glass!  He was served some warm slices of bread and a plate of dipping olive oil, which I wished I could indulge in…

Our salads arrived promptly; mine was watermelon radish carpaccio with cucumber, pea tendrils, feta cheese and a delicate lemon vinaigrette.  If you never have enjoyed a watermelon radish it is a speckled pink inside and pale green as to the skin. It was sliced very thin. I ate every bite of salad, particularly enjoying the lemony dressing. 1774 grille 001 Josh’s salad was a spinach cobb salad with bacon lardons, hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes and a yummy looking blue cheese dressing.  My friend consumed it with great gusto. I wasn’t sure I could eat the lardons or I would have begged a taste. Among the other salad choices was a wedge salad which a nearby table had ordered and we agreed it looked well worth consuming.  Next time…

cobb salad

My dreamy sounding duck breast was no longer on the menu as this is now the spring/summer choices.  There is a duck leg confit but it was not gluten free so I couldn’t indulge. I went for the lamb chops which came with tri colored roasted tiny potatoes over a pea puree and perfectly sautéed leek on top.  I enjoyed every bite. Not sure when or if I have had better lamb than that evening. It was listed as Australian Lamb rack. Not sure two good sized chops are a rack but that is my quibble (I am still longing for another chop…or two!)

1774 grille 002

Josh had the buttermilk fried chicken which was a substantial looking meal served on a wooden cutting block  Some homemade pickles, slaw and corn fritters accompanied it. His four pieces of dark and light boneless chicken were tender, moist and delicious. The pickled red onions were perfection with the chicken. Those pickle slices disappeared incredibly fast. The corn fritters could have used a bit more corn but were tasty. fried chicken

There still aren’t any gluten free desserts on the menu except sorbet and it was a chilly night so that was a no go. All in all we both enjoyed a delicious meal. The only thing I could have wished was that my radishes had been a touch fresher, they seemed like they had been run through the mandolin slicer much earlier in the day and had lost some of their crispness and juiciness. I am guessing that was a one time error and I might have to try that salad again as it was enjoyable and with freshly sliced radishes it could be fantastic.

This restaurant has several great menu choices and their website says all is created fresh to order. I loved that they had several gluten free choices for me and this writer must confess that nearly a week later I am still dreaming of that lamb. It was so succulent and flavorful. If you love lamb; just do it! Our waiter was very attentive and the service was timed perfectly.  I personally loved the quiet of the side dining room.  But, if you like more bustle and company, the bar is hopping and the big dining room is the place to be seen in town! The staff is still finding their feet on a few small issues but I think the 1774 Grille would be a perfect choice for a celebration dinner.