Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Recipe - Blueberry Pancakes

I'm sitting here watching Castle on the TV with dear hubby while using my new toy... my Samsung Tab 10.1... it's so perfect for blogging with and on top of it sooooooo quiet! On that small note, if you have a tablet pc or phone that can handle blogger in browser mode, do that instead as the Blogger app doesn't have the editing abilites as the full site does.

I figured I'd make my first entry from it tonight and share my wonderful American Style Blueberry Pancakes but I was only able to start it with the tab and had finish it with my computer because I still haven't figured out how to highlight, copy and paste with the tablet. I need to be able to do that to keep this blog looking it's best and didn't want to take more time trying to figure it out before posting this.

I made these on my husband's last long weekend and they came out soooo good for a first try... light, fluffy and I have to admit to having added almost too many blueberries but I'm a bit biased, is there really such a thing as 'too much' when it comes to adding fruit or veggies to dishes?? Oh and a warning now, I took LOTS of pictures of these! I just couldn't help myself, every thing looked so good and so fresh! I mean how can you pass up the lovelies below without snapping at least a few photos??

 2 eggs, separated
 ♥ 2 cups flour
 2 tsp baking powder
 2 tsp vanilla
 ♥ 3 tbs sugar
 1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
 ♥ 1 cup milk
 ♥ 3 tbs butter, melted
 ♥ 1 cup fresh blueberries (give or take 1/2 cup)

picture does not include the melted butter

Directions - Batter Preparation
First thing you will want to do is separate your eggs and whip the egg whites into soft peaks.

 Aren't they just perfectly separated?? (proud moment)

first stage - light foaming

 second stage - egg whites start to keep shape with soft peaks

third stage - egg whites hold shape in stiff peaks and have turned shiny

Set the now whipped egg whites aside for a bit. In a larger bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar and ground cinnamon. Then either in a large 2 cup measuring cup combine egg yolks, milk, vanilla and butter lightly. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and combine using a whisk and not a mixer. You do not want to over beat the mixture, you just want to combine it well but while trying to avoid adding a bunch of un-wanted air to the batter. I cheated a bit in my photos as I was working so quickly on these that my dry ingredients never had a chance to stick to the bowl, the reason why you want to separate them in the first place.

Once dry pluse wet ingredients are combine well and you don't have any lumps you will want to fold in the whipped egg whites. Do this softly and gently. The purpose of whipping the egg whites in the first place to give the batter lightness and fluff that you lose when you remove the gluten from these types of recipes. Use a jar scraping style spatchula for this. Gently turn the bowl as you scrape the sides of it, bringing the batter into the egg whites and in turn mixing the egg whites into the batter. At this stage of mixing, you can choose to either add the blueberries to the batter before adding the egg whites or after. I did it before in order to try to better retain the fluffiness of the egg whites that I was adding but it didn't make too much of a difference either way when I did it the second time around in which I added them after the egg whites.

Directions - Frying
As usual, I usually end up at least making my first couple of pancakes quite darker then I wish to but after a couple of them, I get them nice and light golden. They key to this is to be patient. I know a lot of people swear by a high heat griddle but I have learned at least with my stove (electric btw) works best on a medium heat, sometimes even more toward the high low to low medium setting. Then let it warm slowly, use liquid margarine or coat the pan with vegetable oil but use a paper towel to rub it onto the pan and to remove the excess. You want to fry these not deep fry them.
I also suggest that you use 2 pans or a large griddle that will cook more then one pancakes at a time for this process, at least if you are like me where making a half dozen pancakes can seem like it takes forever when doing them one at a time and in actuality it most likely will take about 40minutes if done this way where as you can cut this in half using two.

So with that out of the way, I find it easy to do this one of 2 ways. Either pour your batter into a large measuring cup (I have a beloved 2 cup glass one for this if I choose) or do as I do most of the time and use a smaller sauce ladle. It looks kind of like a full soup ladle but it about half the measure and has a larger pour spout which is perfect for the pancake batter.

Pour about 1/4 to 1/3rd of a cup worth of batter on your greased pan and be patient. What you will want to see is the batter start to bubble a bit and then to see those bubble pop. They will leave tiny holes in the pancake and you will see the top start to become dry.

Flip and leave for a minute longer. Your best 'serving' side will be the one that you started with as this has hit the pan while in batter form and gotten most of the time to fry compared to the mostly dried out top part.

Serve these beauties with maple syrup or just with a pat of butter. Pancakes can be made into SOOOO many different kinds that the possibilities are almost endless. I've already redone this recipe in raspberry and just plain ol' pancake batter recipes but I also have on hand to make apple/cinnamon with icing rather then syrup (more meant to be a dessert then a breakfast item though) and even cinnamon swirl ones that use a cinnamon sauce to squeeze into the wet batter and has a cream cheese icing to use on them. Is it another long weekend yet?!

Enjoy! And remember they go very nicely with breakfast sausages and eggs, specially loosely scrambled (recipe/directions to come in order to finish off the photos). Just remember when buying breakfast sausages, you check the ingredients very carefully as a lot of sausages add wheat or bread to their mixture to bulk it out. If you have a butcher nearby, he might even be able to prepare you some that are gluten free, like mine did.

Friday, April 20, 2012

General Talk - Spring Has Sprung??

Well I thought it did at least... guess I was a little early on the gun with the 60+ degree temps we were having a couple of weeks ago. The weather here has such changed that I feel as though I have wondered back in time by about 2 months. Having to bring out my sweater and heavier coat (although not my winter one but had thought about it a couple of times). I think Belgium is the only place that I have now actually seen the impossible happen, that you will need your sunglasses and your umbrella at the SAME time! Yes, you read that right. I was working this past week and there it was, I was enjoying the bright wonderful gorgeous sunshine blasting through my work's windows and then bam, people were coming in to get out of the rain and sure enough I look up and it's down pouring with fun on bright sunshine. *shrug* Never take nature for granted, she will always throw you for a loop!

Now with that said, the weather has indeed been REALLY odd and I don't know if I should be looking for fresh Belgian strawberries in my local fruit store or if I should be preparing to make soups and stews. One minute it's sunny and bright such as it is now but within 10mins, it's down pouring and with a nasty wind. But never the less, I always seems to come up with something to make, one way or another.

It's been a busy couple of weeks with me being the 'fill in lady' for my work for the better part of 2weeks straight. The only 2 days actually off were spent shopping for a new wardrobe of clothes for my mother who I'm proud to say has lost an outstanding 50+ pounds in the last 6months or so *CHEEERRRS* and also has under gone 2 cataract surgeries within a week of each other. So to celebrate we bought her brand new clothes and got her new glasses/sunglasses... and the other day off was spent mmmm don't remember except that it was another long day and barely enough time to do anything.

Now it's becoming weekend yet again and it's hubby's planned 3day weekend... he took Monday as a vacation day just to make it longer. We were originally going to spend an evening with my folks but the weather is so up in the air that no one really knows which direction to go so we all decided it would be better to get together when the weather shapes up. I don't mind this at all but I do long for the better weather. I'm dying to use my camera which was bought at the very ending of July 2011 so I was not feeling very comfortable with it yet and I have so much I want to get photos of not to mention I just want to enjoy my summer! Last year was not the most pleasant of affairs with my mother-in-law going down hill and all mentally but now she is stable and every one is taken care of... I plan to ENJOY my summer this year, even if I do have to work, I can still enjoy my off time and free time without worry of taking care of something or another.

This weekend of cooking will I think start tonight... I'm not totally sure but since I've been working such long and odd hours, I have ended up with a few bananas that are quite over ripe and I have decided they are at a good stage that although I don't want to open them up and eat one straight, that they are wonderfully ripe for banana bread and/or muffins.

This weekend though will I hope include the following dishes to be made...
Banana Bread and/or Muffins
Corn Dogs (that didn't get made the previous long weekend off)
Cauliflower Patties
Breaded & Baked Zucchini Slices
Vol-au-Vent (not the pastries but a local dish I feel in love with before I had to go gluten free)
French Toast
American Style Pancakes w/ Raspberries

This is just what I have thought about making off the top of my head. Not sure how much will or will not get done or if I'll toss any other recipes in there while I'm at it but for now I think that is enough! It at least gives me time to spend in my kitchen and time making good wholesome gluten free foods. Geee's I have so many photos and recipes on hand, I don't know where to start with posting any more. Coming up though and already with photos edited & ready to go are Easy Shrimp Bisque and Quick Microwave Cake. I also have some more wonderful fruit photos/entries I'll be sharing too.

Let Us Talk 'Exotic' - Doughnut Peaches

It becoming that time of year again... all of my wonderful spring and summer fruits and veggies will be coming into full cycle soon and I thought today would be a good day to write about another little treasure that I am impatiently awaiting.... doughnut peaches or otherwise known as a Saturn Peach.

These little pieces of natural gluten free heaven are about as sinful as they are good for you. If eaten ripe, they are so juicy that you will need a napkin with them, they are so sweet you will think you were eating a piece of candy and they as so flavourful that you would think that you had just spent hours in the kitchen preparing them with all sorts of exotic flavours.

Any fruit is good for you and when you are living or must live the gluten free life style, we sometimes forget the most simple of things are naturally gluten free. Normal peaches are good for you as well but they are usually large and it's really a hit and miss thing if you get a really good ripe juicy full of flavour one but when you choose to find these little beauties called 'Doughnut Peaches' due to their squished in roundness that looks a lot like a doughnut with a very small seed right in the middle that would be the 'hole' of the doughnut you will not have to guess if they will be sweet and juicy as long as you remember to pick them out ripe or let them ripen a bit at home.

As with any fruit, peaches do have health benefits as well. This wonderful piece of fruit contains a large amount of fibre and on top of it important nutrients such as niacin, thiamine, potassium, calcium and beta carotene which is a vital antioxidant that converts into Vitamin A.

So when your out at your local farmer's market or your local fruit store or even your every day grocery store and crave something sweet that is good for you, look for these little beauties, you'll be very glad you did. Don't forget, there are LOTS of recipes that call for fresh peaches. Keep an eye out later in the summer months for some posts from me on recipes using this season's wonderful summer fruits.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Recipe - Sushi

Sushi... what exactly is it? There are many people around the world that have said it's either this or that or that and I am no expert on it either but to me sushi does at least mean it does *NOT* involve raw meat as many people seem to think but there are some that beg to differ with my thoughts on this as some sushi will also involve slices of raw salmon or tuna. Ok that is fine... but in the end it is still made with cooked vinegared rice known as Shan. Anyhow, the point being is that Sushi when made at home, can be any thing you want it to be or not be.

I'm not an expert in making this art and I don't strive to be but I also still love to eat Sushi because not only is it really healthy for you but it tastes really good when you have the right combination of ingredients going on. I sometimes like to also make these with a side order of freshly made Tempura style veggies (makes really nice seafood too though!). Not to mention, making it at home costs a mere fraction of the cost that you will go out to buy it already made for... oh and the fact that you can ensure that all ingredients going into it are 100% gluten free!

Tip #1 - This is where again my advice of keeping vinyl powder free gloves for kitchen use come in handy. But this time not only do you want to wear a pair of these while making this wonderful dish but you will also want to keep a bowl of cold water (doesn't have to be iced or anything, just cold from the tap will do). As you go on preparing these wonderful little treasures, you'll want to refresh this bowl of water from time to time.

Tip #2 - Make sure you have all the ingredients you intend to use for this prepared, set out before you in easy reaching distance. It's very much a PITA to get caught up in the middle of making these only to realize you left the layer of foil or what ever sitting on the other side of the kitchen or that you forgot you wanted to add cucumber but it's sitting in the fridge uncut.

Tip #3 - When preparing the rice, HAVE PATIENCE! This is what makes Sushi.... SUSHI! You need to have patience when rinsing the rice, when soaking it (if it's a kind that needs soaking), when cooking, when cooking, when working with it. I've even read or heard some where on the web that it is taboo to 'abuse' your rice in Japanese culture... they respect the rice and treat it with respect. Doing this means your rice will be just right and will produce the finest of what ever product you are making with it.

Tip #4 - When preparing your veggies and any meat that you will be putting inside rolled Sushi, you want to make sure they are slices thinly and all around the same sort of thickness. Too thick or too large of pieces will just result in un-even rolls or rolls that don't stay together at all. See the photos through out the directions.

Tip #5 - Don't get upset if your first attempt doesn't work very well. I've been making this a couple of times a year for a few years now and even I'm still not there. I get the idea of making really good rice, what goes together and not together but my rolling technique still sucks beyond words but hey I have fun doing it and so should you!

Tip #6 - For those of us (yes me included) that are a bit more cautious and don't wish to risk eating raw fish for one reason or another, you can substitute salmon lox (a bit more salty but at least cooked) for the sushi grade raw salmon but do *NOT* substitute the tuna for canned! Canned tuna vs fresh tuna, even cooked, are SO very different and does not make good sushi. If you rather not eat raw tuna, at least buy a nice steak of it fresh, cook it through (no pink/red centre), shred it with a fork and let cool before preparing your Sushi with it.

Tip #7 - Last one, just a tip that has come down from the times of rolling these, completely cover your bamboo rolling mat with plastic wrap! Don't 'tighten' it around the thing, just cover completely with enough give to allow the mat to still roll but that you don't have any of the wood exposed. This will keep your mat clean and give you an easy clean up in the end. These mats are very difficult to wash, are NOT dish washer safe and are held together by string if they are true Japanese Sushi mat. Doing this will just ensure your mat will last through out the years. On this note, when storing your mat, make sure it's stored in a dry dark place as to prevent it from absorbing any odors or moister which might cause mold to form.

Ingredients - Sushi Rice (see tip #3)
 2 cups uncooked Sushi Style rice (most stores mark this as such rice now a days)    
 ♥ 2 tbs sugar
 2 to 3 tbs rice wine vinegar

Ingredients - Filling/Meat Selection
This following ingredient lists are no where near being what is exactly in Sushi, there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to go about this. Pick your favourite veggies, seafood, fish or even egg! (will get to that one another time when I attempt to make Japanese omelets).
 Sashimi grade salmon or tuna (this means that it's of a high quality, as fresh as you can get it and can be eaten raw without fear of getting sick from it. As your fish monger for sashimi grade or sometimes referred to as actually sushi grade)
 Salmon lox (see tip# 5)
 Cooked tiger pawns (large shrimp)
 Fresh cooked crab (most fish monger have this already, just ask for it)
 Japanese omelets (not recipe for this yet sorry)
 Halibut lox (another type of fish commonly sold in lox form)

Ingredients - Filling/Veggie Selection (see tip# 4)
 Bell peppers
 Bamboo shoots
 Green onions
 Water chestnuts
 Pickled ginger
 Wasabi paste (if you like it spicy!)
  Nori sheets (the seaweed sheets that are used to make Sushi)

Directions - Preparing The Rice (VITAL STEP!)
This is most likely the most important part of the whole Sushi making process. Don't fear if you end up with a couple of thrown out batches of rice before you get this but just in the same you might be lucky as I was from knowing how to cook rice that you'll do just fine. Biggest word of advice is PATIENCE! (see tip# 3)

Firstly, make sure your rice is indeed rice intended for Sushi. Most stores now a days will have a section that is just for Japanese cooking and you'll find every thing you need for this adventure in it that area with exception of some of the veggies.

Most Sushi rices need rinsing before they are can be used to remove excess dust from it's processing. Basically what you want to do is strain it through a fine mesh strainer until the water that is coming off of the rice is no longer milky or cloudy but running clear as the water that went into it.

 If the water still looks like this, keep rinsing... remember you want the water that comes out to be as clear as the water you put in

Let stand for a bit, this is not totally needed but it doesn't hurt either. When making this rice by stove top (for those of us that do not use rice enough to warrant having a rice cooker) use a heavy bottomed kettle for this. Do not use a light aluminum kettle for this as your rice will most likely end up burning.

Place rice into kettle and add as much water as needed to reach 1/2 inch higher then the rice itself. Bring to a full boil uncovered. If you use a gas stove, let the rice cook at a boil until the water as been absorbed just until the top of the rice and if you are using an electric stove simply skip the water reducing step needed in the gas stove directions and continue. Cover and turn the heat down to the lowest possible temperature. At this point, do NOT uncover for what ever reason for about 10 minutes. This is the patience part as well... uncovering it will result in losing the steam that is cooking the rice and may cause it to go flat. After this waiting time, return to your rice and it should be perfectly cooked and absorbed all of the water.

Again patience is required on this step, you have to remove the rice from the heat source and allow it to cool until it is slightly still warm. While waiting for this to happen mix the rice wine vinegar with the sugar in a small bowl. When the rice is still warm but no longer hot, drizzle over the vinegar mixture and use a pair of chop sticks to lightly toss the rice and vinegar mix until well disbursed. Again, more waiting... now you should let the completed Sushi rice sit until it is cooled completely. Working with warm rice is not going to work well as it is very very sticky at this stage, not to mention if you hit a spot that is still much too hot, you'll simply burn yourself. Have patience... this is the one place that it is really needed.

While your waiting for the rice to cool completely, this would a good time to prepare any of the veggies and meats you will be using. Remember to keep things kind of the same. Cut veggies in long thin slices, keep meats in small but workable sizes, if using bamboo shoots do not leave them whole but also slice them thinly. If using water chestnuts, make sure you buy the already sliced ones and then go about also slicing them thinly. If you are attempting this recipe, you at least have some skill in the kitchen already, use your common sense in what is a good size to go into a Sushi roll. If you think it's too big or too wide, chances are it is.

Once your rice is completely cooled, you're on your way to preparing you own rolls! Now I'm not going to go into what kind of roll is what kind of things or what not. I don't live in the 'it MUST be this way' type thinking when it comes to the kitchen. Yes some things need to be done certain ways such as measuring flour for a cake or the process needed to cook the Sushi rice in this dish but I have never been one to think that I must make a California Roll or what not. I just put in what I think will go good together and go from there. So with that said, don't expect to find recipes to make certain rolls... just go with your guts and put in what you think will go nicely together such as salmon with a bit of avocado or tuna with a bit of cucumber and ginger. This is YOUR Sushi... make what YOU want to of it!

Firstly, make sure you've prepared your mat (see tip# 7). Usually I work with half sheets of Nori (seaweed sheets for Sushi) but some prefer to use whole sheets. This is up to you and how much you are planning to add to each roll itself. If you want more inside the roll, then you will need more to roll, simple as that.

Lay out your sheet of seaweed on your mat shiny side down. You want the paler side for placing the rice on so that it sticks to the sheet better and that you have a better looking end result.

Now respect your rice on this part, do not 'mash' or 'press' your rice but spread it. Dip your fingers in the cold water (with or without gloves on) and using your fingers take enough rice to cover 3/4th of your sheet (not matter if you are using half a sheet or a full sheet) with about 1/4th inch thickness. Remember SPREAD the rice out, do not mash it down. You want a fluffy texture to this and if you start to mash or press out the rice with any thing but your fingers, you're likely to split the rice pieces and make a rice mash instead of keeping it in pieces.

Once the rice is spread out evenly, place your wanted ingredients along the short side closest to you from end to end. Place them side by side going up the length but do not add too much of any thing at one time. Remember, use your head on this one. If you think there is too much going into a roll, most likely it is. You just have to play with it and find what feels best for you.

Rolling is something I can't teach but will try to explain. You do *NOT* roll your mat up into a roll, the mat is used to add you in rolling your Sushi. If you attempt to roll you Sushi in your mat, you'll just find out the hard way that the mat is now part of your roll and that it didn't work very well (did that the first time making this). What you want to do is make sure your seaweed sheet is at the very end of the mat closest to you. Working gently, take the end of the mat and being to roll. Using your fingers on the other side where your rice is, make sure your ingredients are staying secure. Using the mat to add, begin to use it to roll the seaweed into a roll while allowing the mat to roll OVER the roll inside of it. Once you have your roll entirely together, use the mat that is rolled around the outside of it to apply some very light pressure to the roll that is inside to help seal and slightly form it.

Slowly unroll the mat and what you will be left with (hopefully) will be a wonderful little roll of Sushi made by your own wonderful hands. 100% gluten free and for only a fraction of the cost of what it would have been if you went to that new Sushi take away down the street.

I have found this best served for my tastes is a mild sweet chili sauce or a sesame sauce. The traditional way is to use soy sauce with just a bit of wasabi paste added to it, stirred with chop sticks and dipped. Remember though real soy sauce ALWAYS has wheat in it (for what ever odd reason) so if you do want to go this way, make sure you use Tamari Sauce instead... it tastes exactly as you would expect soy sauce to taste with all of its dark salty goodness (so to speak) but without the added wheat/gluten aspect. Then usually between each 'type' of roll that is eaten, one eats a small piece of pickled ginger to cleanse the pallet in order to enjoy the tastes of what each roll provides. As for me... I like it all!

I made these wonderful rolls for our Christmas Celebration in 2011 (yea yea I know, late in posting but does that tell you how long I hold on to some recipes?!). I don't have the finally cut open, laying on a plate type ending photos but basically in the end you want to cut off the ends just enough to get rid of the over hang (they taste pretty good too, so just nibble away as you cut *halo*). Take your roll, with a very sharp knife, cut it first in half, put the two halves next to each other and again cut in half. Repeat the process one or two more times depending how thin you want your roll pieces. This method allows you to keep all of your pieces the same thickness if you plan to serve this to guests or just simply want to make it look all pretty. When I make these again I'll make sure I grab photos of this stage and what the final result looks like when one is served.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter every one! I had started the recipe I added today yesterday in fact but it became some what of a spring clean for my blog that I just wasn't able to manage to finish it time to post yesterday. So what the heck, so what if there is more then one post a day! More to read, more yummies to try out and more food to talk about!

Today is Easter 2012, spring has been in the air for quite a while but the last couple of days has felt more like fall again but never fear, spring will be here along with all of the wonderful spring/summer fruits and veggies! Nothing makes a dish better then wonderfully ripe summer fruits, spring veggies so young so tender and of course bunches and bunches of fresh seasoning!

This weekend has been relaxing so far. I have family but we are not the most religious of people. We love to cook and eat like most so we do take the chance of a bigger bank holiday let us say to indulge our taste buds with the more uncommonly cooked meals and dishes.

This weekend I have planned to make....
Blueberry Pancakes (American Style)
White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Cookies (Subway Copy Cat)
Corn Dogs (made even this time with American Hot Dogs!)
Pinwheels (a recipe I've been making for over 15yrs now)
Easy Shrimp Bisque (inspired by Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa)
Roasted Lamb Shoulder
Home-Made Sour Cream & Chive Mashed Potatoes

Ok so there it is... those are what I have 'planned'. So far I have made the Shrimp Bisque and the Omelets. I currently have sitting on my counters the ingredients (and my camera!) for the Pinwheels and White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Cookies.

Tomorrow will be the Roasted Lamb Shoulder (which I have never made before so I hope it turns out as good as the lamb chops I seem to of gotten almost perfect now) along with Home-Made Sour Cream & Chive Mashed Potatoes.

The Corn Dogs most likely will end up waiting a couple of weekends I think since I'll be making the pinwheels today (which include 2 recipes btw because I have to make my own mock version of tortilla shells without a press and simple so no rolling is needed) but tomorrow's breakfast will start out early with the Blueberry Pancakes which will sit nicely along side a couple of simple scrambled eggs and some chicken breakfast sausages that my wonderful butcher was so kind to make me a couple of weeks back.

Easter here in Belgium is celebrated on 2 days. Why? I'm not quite sure but I'm certainly not going to argue over it! It means my wonderful husband has an extra day vacation and more time down.... and it gives me more chances to cook things other thing dinner style items.

I hope with spring almost here and summer coming close behind, that I get to spend more time in my kitchen as I just LOVE making fresh seasonable type recipes. I have taken over making my mother's recipe of fruit salad that includes almost any kind of fruit (exception of watermelon) with a hint of sour cream added to it for creaminess and I really want to try my hand at making home-made fruit leathers as well once the true Belgian Strawberries come into season at less then 6euro a container. They are starting to make an appearance again but they are much too costly to be making fruit leathers out of which calls for something like 2 cups or more of cut strawberries. I can just imagine though the taste of them already with the strawberries I've grown to love compared to the American counter part that rather be sold large with less flavour then smaller with LOADS more flavour. I wouldn't mind even trying my hand at making raspberry ones either I think!

Remember, come the end of summer this year, dear hubby and I will be looking for and hopefully moving into a new place. We hope for a detached house of some sort with a nice big backyard. If this happens, I promise there will be more entries as I start my very own garden as I take my cooking adventures down the road of producing my own food. I think it'll be such a wonderful feeling when I make a dish with food grown by my own two hands... I suspect the results will be so amazing that it will make my own dishes little pieces of magic! At least that is what I hope! I may or may not add that part of my cooking adventure to this blog but it really depends on how far/well it will go. If it becomes a bigger project them just a few random entries, I might start a new blog for it but if it's smaller which I suspect, I will just include it in here under a new label, what do you all think?

Anyhow, Happy Easter to you all. I'll come by and edit this post later on to add links as I add these wonderful recipes. I've already made a couple, have a couple in the process of being made and more to come tomorrow along with making something I've never made before. This weekend is all about enjoying my family time and taking advantage of having some time off to actually enjoy cooking again.

Recipe - Mushroom Risotto

Aaaa... My beloved gluten free blog, how I've missed you so. Life is busy, life is short, life is sweet but still filled with love every day. Today is the start of a 3day weekend off from work, life, daily stresses, the outside world. Dear hubby and I went out to do what we needed to today and will now spend the remaining time today and the next 2 days staying inside with nothing more to do then spend time relaxing. playing with games and computer, being with each other and of course being able to finally cook again at my pace.

Although this recipe is not from any time recently, I will have to make it again soon I think as it has been a very long time indeed since I have made risotto from scratch.

This recipe is a bit time consuming because it requires you stand there stirring, adding liquid often and just generally keeping an eye on things but the time vs the result are very much worth it!

This recipe originated is again from my beloved Jamie Oliver and his 30min meals collection but it is my own twist on it. Risotto rice + mushrooms = a perfect gluten free dish as long as you are a lover of mushrooms such as myself and dear hubby.

Tip #1 - Please do not use just plain white button mushrooms... although these are nice on themselves for things such as salads and perhaps even eggs, this recipe needs a very full flavoured mushroom such as oyster, sataki, or chestnut.

Tip #2 - There are a LOT of rices to choose from and they all serve a special purpose so choosing the correct rice for the dish you are making is vital. In this recipe you need to look for risotto rice. Every rice is grown different, is different and is processed different for this reason.

Copied From Wiki About Rice In General
A high-starch (amylopectin), low-amylose round medium- or short- grain rice is usually used to make risotto. Such rices have the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch and so they are stickier than the long grain varieties. The principal varieties used in Italy are Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Padano, Roma, and Vialone Nano. Carnaroli and Vialone Nano are considered to be the best (and most expensive) varieties, with different users preferring one over the other. They have slightly different properties. For example, Carnaroli is less likely than Vialone Nano to get overcooked, but the latter, being smaller, cooks faster and absorbs condiments better. Other varieties like Roma, Baldo, Ribe and Originario may be used but will not have the creaminess of the traditional dish. These varieties are considered better for soups and other non-risotto rice dishes and for making sweet rice desserts. Rice designations of Superfino, Semifino and Fino refer to the size and shape (specifically the length and the narrowness) of the grains, and not the quality.
 4 to 6 cups chicken stock
 1/2 to 1 cup white wine
 3-4 cups mixed mushrooms, cleaned & roughly chopped (I used oyster, chestnut and mini sataki) (see tip #1)
 2 tbs cold butter
 1 small onion, finely chopped
 2 cups risotto rice (see tip #2)
 ♥ 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
 1 small onion, finely chopped
 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or even crushed
 1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves only)
 1/2 cup to 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
 2-3 tbs butter
 freshly cracked pepper to taste

Pre-heat a large skillet pan (something that can with stand a medium-high heat for around 20-30minutes) over a medium-high heat with 2tbs olive oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until translucent and tender.

Add risotto rice and saute until rice starts to turn a light golden brown.

Add wine and let cook until absorbed... keep stirring lightly to ensure you don't burn anything.

This is where this recipe gets a bit time consuming. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock at a time to your rice mixture and stir as often as you can. The secret to a good vs great risotto is how well you work your rice to make it release it's starch! When all liquid is absorbed from each addition continue adding 1/2 cup at a time until you've added 3 cups in total.

When adding that almost 3rd cup of stock, add 1 cup of your mushroom mixture and 1 sprig worth of fresh thyme along with it. Place the rest of your mushrooms in a small oven proof dish and turn your oven on broiler/grill setting. Add a few pats of butter (the 2 tbs cold butter) throughout the reserved mushrooms and add another sprig worth of fresh thyme over it. Place in your broiler/grill until tender (about 10mins at most). Don't forget about these lovelies while you are continuing with the risotto mix. 

Continue adding 1/2 cup of stock and stirring as much as you can until you've used all stock and your rice is tender. Don't be afraid to TEST YOUR RICE! You want a soft texture while still having just a slight bite left to it. Over done risotto is just as bad as under cooked. If you want to make great dishes, you have to be willing to taste them throughout for their readiness and their seasoning. If you don't know what your food tastes like, how do you expect to know if it's good enough to serve or even eat yourself?

When you have added enough liquid and have the rice cooked to a soft texture, remove from heat and stir in butter until melted throughout and then add the cheese, again mixing until well combined.

Serve this risotto while it's still hot and creamy. Spoon over some of the grilled mushroom mixture and if desired sprinkle with a bit of extra cheese.