Friday, June 22, 2012

General Talk - Another Project

It has been like 15yrs or more since I had the ever famous 3-layer coconut cake by Pepperidge Farm. Not to mention as far as I go, I seem to have different tastes and cravings as I grow older. I use to like coconut when I was younger but never craved anything with it really. This past week I suddenly got a HUGE craving for a coconut cream cake though and as that sprang into my mind, it also came the thought that this is Belgium... coconut cream anything is *not* on the menu any where which means my husband would have never tasted anything like it. *BANG* it was there... I MUST MAKE THIS!

I started my hunt for a recipe but through a week of research I have not found the 'perfect' recipe for this yet. What I did find is 3 different recipes that I'm going to pull different parts from.

One for the cake itself because all the recipes I found wanted to make a yellow butter birthday cake style cake which is WAY too many calories and fat that I wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole. So I'm opting to make a white butter cake recipe that calls for half the butter, 1 to 1 1/2 cups less flour, a whopping 5 eggs less and half the sugar.

Another one is for the filling. I want to go all out and make my very first layer cake (yes VERY FIRST!) and I want it to be outstanding so I'm pulling a simple coconut cream filling recipe from another coconut cake recipe. This only has sugar, milk, coconut and sour cream in it. I think it will pair perfectly with the choice for frosting that I've chosen.

And of course a layer cake can't be true unless there is a good dose of a good frosting so the 3rd part of a recipe is from yet another one for a cream cheese frosting that only calls for 1 stick of butter instead of 2 and 1 cup less sugar.

When trying to figure out what to do with this, I wanted to try and come up with something that was between the good vs bad line. I didn't want the sugar, over hit of fat (like hello, no gull-bladder any more so that amount of fat is *not* gonna be pretty) or the heaviness that the original yellow butter cake called for, I didn't want the over dose of sugar that some of the fillings called for either. But I also didn't want to totally give up on a great cream cheese frosting for it so I opted for one with a bit less sugar and butter but hopefully with the filling and flaked coconut to go on the outside, it will make enough.

So yea... there is my next project! A 2 or 4 layer Coconut Cream Cake depending on how thick the 2 round cakes come out. I'm beginning to work on it today already but it's a process I must admit. First having to make the cakes that involve a bit more effort then a yellow butter cake would call for due to the whipping of egg whites and what not. Baking them for 20mins and then letting them cool for 10-20mins in their pans, turning them out and letting them cool the rest of the way. Covering them and putting them in the freezer while I prepare the filling and frosting. Then of course putting the thing together and putting it back in the fridge for a couple of hours. It's certainly not a cake you want to attempt on the fly or when you need something 'now'. Mmmm think I should start adding a rating to some of my recipes both on time needed and effort. Wonder how to go about doing that *ponder*.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Easy Shrimp Bisque

A while ago, when it was still winterish around here, I saw the recipe for an easy shrimp bisque by Barefoot Contessa on the food network. I think I drooled as I watched her make it and I couldn't believe how easy it was! I don't have a lot of 'loved' cooks but I do have a couple. Contessa and Jamie Oliver I think happen to be my top 2!

Today I bring you that recipe with my own twists and of course in a gluten free version! You can find the original recipe at the Food Network website. The biggest difference in my recipe vs Contessa's is that I didn't enrich the fish stock with the shells of my shrimp. The reason for that though is simply down to error because I thought I had shrimp with shells but turned out they were completely shelled already. The results were still amazing but I do want to try it with the enriched stock!

 1 pound (1/2 kilo) large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
 ♥ 4 to 6 cups seafood/fish stock
 ♥ 2 cups chopped leeks
 3 cloves garlic, chopped
 ♥ 3 tbs olive oil
 ♥ 1/4 cup each of Cognac and Sherry
 ♥ 4 tbs butter
 1/4 cup gluten free flour
 2 cups soya cream or light cream
 1/3 cup tomato paste
 small pinch cayenne pepper
 salt & pepper

This soup is a little more time intense then my normal creations but it's so worth the efforts and really, it's not *that* much more work. Firstly make sure your shrimp are thawed before using them. In a large soup pot fry the leek for about 10mins in the olive oil. You want them to get soft and translucent like you would if you were frying onions. When soft and tender, add your the garlic and saute for another couple of minutes, add shrimp as well as the pinch of cayenne pepper and cook until the shrimp have turned a wonderful rose pink color.

At this stage, I would put your fish stock into a kettle that is big enough to also add your leek/shrimp mixture to, you'll find out why in the next step. As per the original recipe though, add the 1/4 cup Cognac and cook for 1 minute and then add the 1/4 cup sherry and cook about 3 mins longer. This is not exact rocket science, another minute here or there is not going to matter much.

This is where my recipe differs from Contessa's. Since I do not have a food processor nor a blender that I really care to use for stuff like meat (it's meant for fruit and veggies in my house and only holds a liter if that), I thought, why not use my stick blender instead? So that is exactly what I did. This is now the reason for the kettle big enough to also fit the leek/shrimp mixture. Add your stock to that kettle, add the shrimp & leek mixture but try to reserve a couple of the shrimp for re-addition later.

Whiz the stick blender through the mixture until you produce a thick and still slightly chunky mixture. Set this aside for a moment and add the 4 tbs butter to the original soup pot, melt and add the flour. Cook for about 1 mins and add the light/soya cream to it and whisk (yes with a whisk on this part, not a spoon or such) until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken. Contessa mentions about 3mins for this process.

Now remember her recipe calls for you to puree the shrimp/leek mixture without the stock. Since I didn't do this with mine, you now return the thicken puree of shrimp/leek to the roux you just made, add the tomato paste and season to taste with salt & pepper. Although I did not find it needed with the salt that is in the stock and the pepper/seasonings already added. Heat the almost complete soup slowly until hot, either toss in the reserved cooked shrimp whole or cut them into smaller pieces and let warm through.

Serve with garlic cheese bread or fresh made biscuits... it's a wonderful hearty stick to your ribs soup that is perfect for a meal of it's own. And it can, if done with care of your ingredients, be low in fat too!

General Talk - So Called 'Recipes'

Hello all you wonderful food bloggers (and readers!) out there. I'm in the process of working a post about one of the wonderful soups I made toward the end of last year but in the mean time I have been wasting a bit of time (like I know we *all* do) by browsing through recipes on the net.

This is what brought up my post today, especially seeing as that this is a cooking gluten free blog where every thing comes down to cooking as good as you can with things naturally provided for you that are gluten free. At least that is what I strive for even if it's not always 100% unprocessed.

So tell me... have you ever gone on a recipe hunt for say a stew or a soup only to find so called 'recipe' after recipe that call for canned this, mix of that or a box of that?? I mean WTH?? If I wanted to throw something together that was completely and utterly pre-made, why would I waste my money on canned/boxed items that are being 'tossed together' when I can buy something much better already pre-made and cooked for me?!

I'm so tired of finding recipes that look soooo wonderful due to presentation on some blogs and get sickened by the actual ingredients that it's just not funny. For instance, the most recent one was a recipe for tator-tot casserole but instead of starting with fresh made potatoes, you can go buy a box of frozen rosti style potatoes. Then it calls for a can of cream soup, a package of dry soup, some dry herbs, pre-shredded cheese, canned corn/veggies and the only real 'cooking' to be seen or done is frying some ground meat and putting it all together in the oven for 30mins.

OMG?! It's sacrilege to cooking! Ok if you REALLY don't have a single cooking bone in your body, perhaps this is the only way you can get a decent meal into your system that isn't bought outside your home but come on people... think a bit. How much salt, preserves, empty calories, fat and so much more useless items are in these so called 'recipes'. Sure it takes longer, sure it takes more time to prepare other then frying some meat but if you think of all the health benefits to making it all from scratch vs these store bought preserve filled salt laden items, wouldn't it be more worth it to your health to do so?

I am now on a drive to produce a 100% from scratch version of tator tot casserole just to show how easy it can be to make it *without* all these pre-made/bought store items. It will only include real fresh potatoes, fresh or perhaps frozen corn (it's the season for ears of corn after all!), home-made cream soup and FRESH herbs! Ok I admit, dry herbs aren't bad but why in the middle of spring/summer especially would one want to use dry when the fresh grow and thrive so wonderfully? Only premade items I intent to use is some sour cream and a block of old fashioned mature cheddar cheese that I'll shred myself. Stay tuned for something perhaps not quite as simple but at least a LOT healthier for you!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lets Talk Exotic - Red Raspberries

I would still classify these wonderful deep red beauties in the 'exotic' field. I'm not sure exactly why but I would think due to their cost even on the best of seasons around here. Right now, even though we are very close to officially being summer, they are still at the best price of 2.99euro (about 5 USD).

However, berries... ANY berry... are well worth the cost they come at to include in your gluten free diet! Remember, any fruit is naturally gluten free not to mention soooo good for you.

Today I present some wonderful photos I took earlier in the year of some really nice raspberries that I bought. These ones if memory serves me right were the ones I froze for my Raspberry Pancakes Recipe. You'll be pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is to infuse these beauties into cooking, baking and just every day life!

Remember, almost all berries are now considered 'super foods' due to their high nutrient content! Raspberries are not only sweet and wonderful in color but their antioxidant properties are off the scale!

My Apologies

I noticed today that it has been over a month since I last posted... shame on me! But as many of you know, real life and family come first and as of this past month I have been in a full time position with my work! Ok that is great as we are getting onto crunch time for moving but it also means I have 1 to 2 days a week off and those are usually crammed full of house keeping, running around for stuff like groceries or doing wash as well as trying to find some time to spend with my loved ones.

So today I am home on a Saturday of all days... not because I want to be but because some how I injured the lower left side of my back. Nothing serious but also meant I couldn't stand up straight for a couple of days and then I did a booboo by trying to work where I do lift quite a bit of weight every day. So by doctor's orders I will be off work until Monday.

So that means I get to take some time for some past time fun... COOKING! Yesterday I had nothing better to do so I was surfing more food sites and came up with my meal plan. Today is home-made beef stew with lots of veggies and potatoes, which is already in the oven simmering away for it's 4hrs of oven time. Tomorrow I am going to make broccoli cheddar soup with seasoned cheddar biscuits that you swear came from Red Lobster but still 100% gluten free!

I also plan to make some dessert... if I have enough energy and not too much pain. I have a pre-packaged (gag) box here for a chocolate cake, although I might just go all out and still make my own. It's not for the cake you see though but for this awfully sinful craving not only for chocolate but for chocolate cream cheese frosting. So what a perfect way to get that fix by making a chocolate cake to put it on. I mean if your going to make something like cream cheese frosting, might as well go all out and make a cake to put it on too! I hope after the stew is out of the oven and on it's 1 to 2hrs on the stove top (for the veggies) that I'll have enough energy left to make this indulgent dessert.

I wish every one a wonderful weekend as I know the USA is celebrating Father's Day and I'm sure having a blast letting dad loose on his grill! HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ALL THE WONDERFUL DADS OUT THERE!