It is kind of like the Cosby Show spun off It’s a Different World…or Beverly Hills 90210 begat Melrose Place…or Dallas creating Knot’s Landing. Yes I admit I am a child of the 80’s. The powers that be have made it apparent that now is the time for me to spin off The Single Chef. Perhaps I should not spin off per say but create a brand…Single Chef: Cooking Intent, Single Chef: Miami…no, a spin off seems more appropo for now. (Franchise empire later)!

Over the past few, people have asked me if I have a blog and I always direct them here. Problem is, this truly isn’t a blog. I use The Single Chef as the place for me to post finished and published articles along with a little extra info and recipes. I never wanted to write a blog because I didn’t think people actually wanted to hear what I was cooking on a daily basis nor did I think that it was important. Well, times have changed and I now realize that I need a place to get more writing practice. I need a place to post ideas and topics that may turn into future articles. There are a few people out there who actually want ideas from me for what to cook…crazy people, but people none the less:) I also realize that if I ever want to get a following on this here internet thing (though I am not quite sure if I do), I need to write more frequently.

And so, I present a new blog pazzaragazza.wordpress.com: ramblings of a novice food writer. I started it a few weeks ago and I am trying to get on there every few days, if not daily. I am posting my ghetto food photography taken with my iphone. I am posting links to the meals that I cook. I am sharing all of my kitchen triumphs along with the kitchen disasters. (My brand new oven seems to be calibrated a bit off…300 degrees = 500 degrees = a very burnt pound cake). I hope that it is something that appeals to a wide audience. As always I look forward to your feedback and questions. Let me know what you think.

For those of you wondering what they heck a pazza ragazza is, it means crazy girlfriend in Italian. It is also my pet name for Fiona Bella, my psycho 3 year old niece AND it is just fun to say. And so, how will this spin off rate? I liked Cosby, not Different World. Loved both 90201 and Melrose (especially after it got sleezy). My mom and I watched Knot’s Landing but never Dallas. So, how do you feel about the idea of a Single Chef spin off? In time will you come to love one more than the other, or will they share your love equally? Only time and Nielson Ratings will tell…

It is my understanding the the spring issue of Teton Family Magazine is being distributed in Jackson and Teton Valley today. This issue is the local foods issue. I was lucky enough to get an article published in this issue…although I was only allowed 300 words plus the recipe. (I am the article on the very last page called Parting Shots). The article was my attempt to go as local and from scratch as possible. I promised to post more pictures and the recipes for the pasta and guanciale here. So with no further ado…

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara Teton Valley Style

Making things from scratch gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction. I rarely buy bottled dressings or sauces. Growing up, my family called me Martha (as in Stewart) because I decided my hot chocolate needed fresh marshmallows. Last year I even attempted homemade organic Twinkies. I failed.

Recently, the ultimate “from scratch” recipe dropped into my lap, home cured guanciale. I had never before heard of guanciale (cured pig cheeks), but soon discovered that everyone I knew who had eaten it, was smitten. I was told that guanciale melted in your mouth and made pasta carbonara that was to die for.

Pasta carbonara is a staple in our home. Its beauty is in its simplicity; pasta, egg, cheese, and bacon. I became obsessed with the idea of making guanciale for my carbonara. This proved a bit more difficult than I expected. Instead of jowls, I was given two intact pig’s heads. I set about clumsily cutting into their flesh and ended up with three slabs of cheek meat. I rubbed them with salt, sugar and spices, refrigerated them for a week and then hung the cheeks to cure in my root cellar.

I dreamed of the finished dish, made with eggs from our chickens and homemade pasta. Then the idea was given to grind local wheat berries into flour for the pasta. Now things were getting out of hand, but I couldn’t turn back.

A month later, the big day arrived. Twirling my fork around the strands of spaghetti, my mouth began to water. The pasta was nutty and tender, the egg and cheese rich, and the guanciale melted like butter…VERY salty butter. Oh well. The Martha in me is not deterred. I will try again, and next time, I’m making raw milk parmesan cheese too.

Simple Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

There are many variations to this dish, including adding vegetables, wine or cream. Growing up my dad loved to add sauteed asparagus and mushrooms. The vegetables are usually added after the pasta has been tossed with the eggs and bacon. For variations with wine or cream (though I have not tried and thus cannot vouch for either) look here or here.

Yield 4 main course portions

1 lb dried spaghetti

1/3 lb cured pork (guanciale, pancetta, prosciutto or bacon)

1 Tbs olive oil (if using pancetta or prosciutto)

3 eggs

½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

  • Cut cured pork into small cubes or slice into thin strips.
  • In a small bowl, whisk eggs, cheese and pepper together. Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until tender, yet firm. About 8-10 minutes.
  • While pasta cooks, sauté cured pork in a 12” deep skillet over medium heat. If cooking prosciutto or pancetta, add olive oil to pan first and then put in pork. If using guanciale or bacon, add it directly to pan. Sauté until crispy, about 3 minutes. Drain all but 2-3 Tbs of oil/fat, leaving the cured pork in the pan.
  • Once pasta is cooked, strain it, reserving ½ cup pasta water. Add pasta to pan with  cooked pork. Toss to coat with the rendered fat and remove the pan from heat.
  • Add egg mixture to the pan of pasta and pork. Toss while egg and pasta mixture thickens. The hot pasta will heat the egg, but will not cook it completely. If this is a concern, set the pan back on low heat for a moment. You may add pasta water if the dish is too thick or appears dry.
  • Serve immediately with extra parmesan on top.

The process of making guanciale in pictures along with the recipe below, from carving out the jowls to salting, to hanging to the final cooked product.

Home Cured Guanciale

Taken from the Babbo Restaurant website

Makes 2 pounds
½ cup sugar
½ cup kosher salt
10 to 15 whole black peppercorns
4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
2 pounds hog jowls

1. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, salt, peppercorns and thyme. Coat the hog jowls with the mixture, rubbing gently. Place the jowls in a nonreactive casserole, cover, and refrigerate for 5 to 7 days.
2. Remove the jowls from the casserole and tie a piece of butcher’s twine around the middle of each. Hang the jowls in a dry cool place (it should not be warmer than 60ºF.) for a t least 3 weeks. They should be firm and dry, with a slight give. Slice and use like bacon or pancetta.

For our wedding, Jeff and I got the Kitchen Aid pasta roller attachment. I was excited to use it, but it remained in storage until I got the assignment to make my pasta carbonara for Teton Family Magazine. The spring issue is all about local food. Originally I thought it would be great to use my house cured guanciale and make pasta with store bought flour. Then my friend Claire upped the challenge and reminded me that I had locally grown organic wheat berries. Jeff has a 6 bucket system where he sprouts the berries to feed to our chickens so they get fresh greens in the winter. Claire’s dad has a hand cranked grain mill in his house. So…Super Bowl Sunday I drove on over to Glen’s house and spent an hour, sweating and grunting to grind a few pounds of flour.

 

Next I headed back home and began the process of making the pasta dough. I bought some white and whole wheat flour at the store just in case my flour didn’t work out.

 

Making the pasta dough with eggs from our chickens

Our hens

Here are some pictures of the first three pasta balls...on top is my flour, in the middle is the store bought whole wheat flour and on the bottom is the white flour.

 

Then I realized that the freshly ground flour looked a bit grainy. The wheat bran would have to be removed. I searched my mostly empty kitchen (we are in the midst of a full house remodel) and decided to try out the metal splatter thingy that we put over the pan when we are cooking bacon. It worked wonders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left to Right: store bought white, sifted freshly ground wheat, store bought wheat, unsifted freshly ground wheat

Finally it came time to roll out the dough and make the pasta. Unfortunately I could not use the pasta roller and take pictures at the same time, so there are no pics of that process…but I must say having used a hand crank pasta maker and the Kitchen Aid roller, I cannot recommend enough the Kitchen Aid roller. It makes the process so incredibly easy. Ok, enough product endorsement. And so, the what you have all been waiting for…the final product.

 

“Neopolitan Pasta” Left to Right: store bought white, store bought wheat, sifted freshly ground wheat

The unsifted fresh flour didn’t work out at all, but the sifted flour was AMAZING. I brought the plate down the street to a friend’s Super Bowl Party. Everyone who tasted agreed, the freshly ground flour was by far the best tasting of the three. It was rich and nutty, yet quite delicate all at the same time. Now all I need to do is buy the grain mill attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer and I will be set!

Fresh Egg Pasta

from the Kitchen Aid pasta roller manual

4 large eggs

1 Tbs water

3 1/2 c sifted flour (preferably freshly ground)

1/2 tsp salt

Place eggs, water, flour and salt in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.

Exchange flat beater for dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Let rest 20 minutes. Divide dough into 4 pieces before processing with Pasta Sheet Roller attachment.

For those of you who have a hand crank pasta maker here is a link to Jaime Oliver’s egg pasta recipe. I made this 2 years ago for some friends and we all really enjoyed it. Just a little more labor intensive…but well worth it!

 

My Kitchen Wisdom

Q: I wonder if you can provide some insight on substitutions. Y’know Sunday at 8 pm when Broulims and Barrels are closed and there’s no chance of getting out of the soft pants for a trip to VVM for that one missing ingredient. What if I don’t have lemon juice? Out of canned tomatoes? No potatoes left? Milk just went bad? What the heck is fromage frais anyway? What do you do when you want to avoid a dinner disaster?
Thanks, Erica

A: Ah the one missing ingredient! I hear you on this one. Back in the day, when I lived in the Driggs train depot and worked at the Royal Wolf, I was known to sneak over there on Sunday nights in my pj’s begging the cook to sell me a spare lemon. Now that I live in Tetonia, as soon as I am home it might as well be 8pm on Sunday. There is no way that I am heading back into Driggs to pick up any ingredients.

The questions here really have one of two answers. On the one hand, you may be able to substitute another ingredient to save the dish. On the other, you may need to go back to the drawing board and make something completely different. If that is the case you better have spare ingredients on hand. Here I will talk about the art of substitution in basic cooking. Because of the complexity of the topic (and the limited space), I will not cover substitution in baking. Next article I will cover how best to stock your pantry so that you have the emergency substitution ingredients as well as extra food to come up with a dish “on the fly.”

Substitutions were one of the things that most frightened me as a novice cook. I was the kind of person who looked at a recipe, bought the exact ingredients listed and followed directions to a T. If Broulims didn’t carry something (such as fromage frais, a soft white cheese similar to cream cheese with less fat and lower cholesterol), I moved onto another dish. After 6 years of practice and a handy internet connection in my kitchen, I am a bit more confident about making changes to a written recipe. Does it always turn out delicious? Of course not. There will always be “dinner disasters” but for every botched dish, there are several more that range from edible to downright gourmet.

When you discover that you have all the ingredients except for one or two in a dish, you have to think about what are the “qualities” of the ingredient. Is the ingredient meant to be used as a main protein or a side starch? Think outside the box and experiment. Chicken, beef and pork are often interchangeable. Try serving a dish with risotto instead of mashed potatoes. Use what ingredients you do have on hand or omit the missing ones all together. Short on veggies? Think about what family the vegetable is in and try the recipe with another veg from that group. Parsnips are easily swapped with carrots. Leeks or shallots can often be substituted with onions, just make sure you use less.  Brussel sprouts are kind of like mini cabbages. Spinach, chard and kale are all green and leafy…you get the point. Use something similar.

Subbing out herbs and spices often seems a bit more daunting. With a little research and a sense of adventure it truly is not. Different cuisines have different flavors. Italian seasonings often consist of basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary and thyme. Thai cuisine includes chili pepper, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin. Indian spice blends usually have curry, cumin, tumeric, coriander, ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. If you are out of one spice families, make the dish go in a completely different direction and switch cuisines.

In addition to herbs and spices, there are also those ingredients that impart complexity and amplify the flavors of a dish. These are the seasonings. Salt and various acids fit into this category. If you are out of them, you can still make your dish. Problem is it may come out flat. Salt is difficult to swap out but not impossible. Most of the substitutes out there will impart other flavors as well. If you are cooking Asian food you are in luck. Soy sauce, tamari, miso paste or sea weed are all viable options. You can also try anchovy paste or fish sauce. If it is some sort of acid that you are out of, it is likely that you will have another option on hand. Lemon juice, lime juice and various vinegars can often be exchanged. Have you ever tried guacamole with lemon juice? It is delightful.

Liquids in a dish are also quite easy to mess with. Most stocks are interchangeable. Sure, French Onion soup is not the same without beef stock, but there are plenty of recipes out there that call for chicken stock. Not being a household of milk drinkers, spoiled milk is something of which I am quite aware. (If your milk does sour, don’t toss it. Check the internet for paneer cheese recipes or use it for pancakes or biscuits). If you have half and half or heavy whipping cream around for coffee, thin them out with water in place of milk.

In the end, all it comes down to is a little creativity and a bit of chutzpah. Of course it doesn’t hurt if you have a box of mac and cheese on hand if a dinner disaster does occur.

No-Lime Guacamole

3 large ripe avocados

½ lemon, juiced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced or ¼-½ tsp cayenne powder

½ tsp sea or kosher salt

½ tsp ground cumin

½ cup diced red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbs chopped cilantro plus extra for garnish

1 small tomato, seeded and diced

Cut avocados in half, remove pit and scoop into a bowl. Add lemon juice, jalapeno or cayenne, salt and cumin. Mash ingredients with potato masher or two forks until you reach the desired consistency. Fold in onion, garlic, cilantro and tomato. Taste and add extra salt or lemon juice if needed. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Substitution Resources

The Food Substitutions Bible by Davd Joachim

I got this book for Christmas and have found it particularly helpful when i find I am out of chili powder or don’t want to buy creme frais

Ingredient Substitutions

I stumbled onto this simple website when researching this article. Great stuff here

Spoiled Milk Recipes

After doing a little more research, it seems that milk that has started to go bad is ok for boiling or baking. Point is you want to heat it up enough to get rid of the bad stuff. If your milk is pasteurized then the longer it sits around, it begins to “rot.” If you have raw milk, it is actually “spoiling” and you can use it longer. Long story short…store bought milk can be used when it starts to go bad, but not long after that…raw milk can spoil even longer and still be ok for baking and boiling.

Paneer Cheese

Many recipes from cooks.com for spoiled milk. Mostly baking recipes

 

Q: I wonder if you can provide some insight on substitutions. Y’know Sunday at 8 pm when Broulims and Barrels are closed and there’s no chance of getting out of the soft pants for a trip to VVM for that one missing ingredient. What if I don’t have lemon juice? Out of canned tomatoes? No potatoes left? Milk just went bad? What the heck is fromage frais anyway? What do you do when you want to avoid a dinner disaster?
Thanks, Erica

 

A: Ah the one missing ingredient! I hear you on this one. Back in the day, when I lived in the Driggs train depot and worked at the Royal Wolf, I was known to sneak over there on Sunday nights in my pj’s begging the cook to sell me a spare lemon. Now that I live in Tetonia, as soon as I am home it might as well be 8pm on Sunday. There is no way that I am heading back into Driggs to pick up any ingredients.

 

The questions here really have one of two answers. On the one hand, you may be able to substitute another ingredient to save the dish. On the other, you may need to go back to the drawing board and make something completely different. If that is the case you better have spare ingredients on hand. Here I will talk about the art of substitution in basic cooking. Because of the complexity of the topic (and the limited space), I will not cover substitution in baking. Next article I will cover how best to stock your pantry so that you have the emergency substitution ingredients as well as extra food to come up with a dish “on the fly.”

 

Substitutions were one of the things that most frightened me as a novice cook. I was the kind of person who looked at a recipe, bought the exact ingredients listed and followed directions to a T. If Broulims didn’t carry something (such as fromage frais, a soft white cheese similar to cream cheese with less fat and lower cholesterol), I moved onto another dish. After 6 years of practice and a handy internet connection in my kitchen, I am a bit more confident about making changes to a written recipe. Does it always turn out delicious? Of course not. There will always be “dinner disasters” but for every botched dish, there are several more that range from edible to downright gourmet.

 

When you discover that you have all the ingredients except for one or two in a dish, you have to think about what are the “qualities” of the ingredient. Is the ingredient meant to be used as a main protein or a side starch? Think outside the box and experiment. Chicken, beef and pork are often interchangeable. Try serving a dish with risotto instead of mashed potatoes. Use what ingredients you do have on hand or omit the missing ones all together. Short on veggies? Think about what family the vegetable is in and try the recipe with another veg from that group. Parsnips are easily swapped with carrots. Leeks or shallots can often be substituted with onions, just make sure you use less.  Brussel sprouts are kind of like mini cabbages. Spinach, chard and kale are all green and leafy…you get the point. Use something similar.

 

Subbing out herbs and spices often seems a bit more daunting. With a little research and a sense of adventure it truly is not. Different cuisines have different flavors. Italian seasonings often consist of basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary and thyme. Thai cuisine includes chili pepper, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin. Indian spice blends usually have curry, cumin, tumeric, coriander, ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. If you are out of one spice families, make the dish go in a completely different direction and switch cuisines.

 

In addition to herbs and spices, there are also those ingredients that impart complexity and amplify the flavors of a dish. These are the seasonings. Salt and various acids fit into this category. If you are out of them, you can still make your dish. Problem is it may come out flat. Salt is difficult to swap out but not impossible. Most of the substitutes out there will impart other flavors as well. If you are cooking Asian food you are in luck. Soy sauce, tamari, miso paste or sea weed are all viable options. You can also try anchovy paste or fish sauce. If it is some sort of acid that you are out of, it is likely that you will have another option on hand. Lemon juice, lime juice and various vinegars can often be exchanged. Have you ever tried guacamole with lemon juice? It is delightful.

 

Liquids in a dish are also quite easy to mess with. Most stocks are interchangeable. Sure, French Onion soup is not the same without beef stock, but there are plenty of recipes out there that call for chicken stock. Not being a household of milk drinkers, spoiled milk is something of which I am quite aware. (If your milk does sour, don’t toss it. Check the internet for paneer cheese recipes or use it for pancakes or biscuits). If you have half and half or heavy whipping cream around for coffee, thin them out with water in place of milk.

 

In the end, all it comes down to is a little creativity and a bit of chutzpah. Of course it doesn’t hurt if you have a box of mac and cheese on hand if a dinner disaster does occur.

 

No-Lime Guacamole

3 large ripe avocados

½ lemon, juiced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced or ¼-½ tsp cayenne powder

½ tsp sea or kosher salt

½ tsp ground cumin

½ cup diced red onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbs chopped cilantro plus extra for garnish

1 small tomato, seeded and diced

 

Cut avocados in half, remove pit and scoop into a bowl. Add lemon juice, jalapeno or cayenne, salt and cumin. Mash ingredients with potato masher or two forks until you reach the desired consistency. Fold in onion, garlic, cilantro and tomato. Taste and add extra salt or lemon juice if needed. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

 

Check out my website thesinglechef.wordpress.com for a list of great food substitution books and websites as well as recipes for spoiled milk. Please continue to send your questions to mykitchenwisdom@yahoo.com

 

My Kitchen Wisdom

Q: I have to be gluten-free, otherwise I feel just lousy.  I was wondering if you had any special tips or recipes for eating gluten free?  Thanks, Emily

A: If I asked you ten years ago if you knew anyone who was following a gluten free diet, you would have given me a blank stare in response. Now it seems I can quickly rattle off a long list of people I am acquainted with who have either experimented with a gluten free diet or are presently living a life devoid of baguettes. While some people, including myself, go gluten free for cleanse or detoxification purposes, many do so after discovering they either have a gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease.

I present a BIG disclaimer…I am not a doctor. There are countless books, websites and blogs dedicated fully to this topic. This topic changes by the minute, so I will keep my “medical” information brief. Gluten is a generic name for protein found in grains. Every grain has its own protein. The most common gluten problems are found within wheat, barley, and rye. When people are affected by gluten they may fall anywhere on a large scale from those with a mild intolerance to those with Celiac Disease. People with gluten intolerance have issues digesting the proteins. Celiac Disease or CD for short is much more serious. CD is an inherited autoimmune condition that causes intestinal damage when one with the disease ingests any amount of wheat, barley or rye. The frightening part about CD is you may not have symptoms and if left untreated, you can do irreversible harm to your body. If someone in your family has CD, you feel crummy after eating gluten or what I just said made you paranoid, please go to a doctor and get tested. Knowing if you have a gluten problem and where you fall on the scale will make it easier to get on a gluten free (GF) diet and stick with it.

Is life over if you have to go gluten free? Absolutely not, though I am sure my gluten obsessed husband would disagree. My recommendation is do not get overwhelmed by the amount of food items you cannot eat. There are so many more that you can.

Think clean and simple…meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices, oats, rice, corn and quinoa. Aside from wheat, barley, and rye, the above foods are the main diet of the majority of the world and have been since humans walked the earth. It is only in recent decades that foods have become processed with stabilizers and preservatives (many of which contain gluten). Make a list of all of the meals that you already eat that are gluten free. Enjoy those meals with abandon.

Get support…Find someone who is already living gluten free and has a similar level of intolerance. Ask for their advice. Check out magazines and blogs with up to date info and recipes. (See below for a list of resources and recipes). A little support when starting a new diet and lifestyle goes a long way.

Everyday things to make life easier… Get familiar with ingredients such as rice flour, potato flour, arrowroot, tapioca, Xanthan gum and wheat free tamari. (Advice to sushi lovers…bring along a bottle of the gluten free tamari when you hit your favorite sushi spot. There is no need to forgo salty soy goodness with your sashimi). Oats are fine, but people with CD have to worry about cross contamination during processing. Look for oats that are labeled Gluten Free. Get a bread machine. It will save you a ton of money. Pamela’s brand mixes for bread, brownies, etc are the #1 most recommended of my friends. I recommend looking for retailers like amazon.com who sell by the case. Udi brand premade breads are also popular and are found in the freezer sections of many grocery stores. Find restaurants that have gluten free (GF) menu items. Please note, most all commercial kitchens have flour floating around in them. Some people may be more sensitive to the cross contamination than others. Those folks in Teton Valley can find  GF pizza crust at Tony’s,  GF bread for sandwiches at Thyme Out and my favorite, the Florentiner at Pendl’s Pastries. (Florenteiners can be ordered on the website for delivery during the Christmas holiday season.) Need an adult beverage? Wine, rum, tequila and potato vodka are in the clear.  There are even GF beers on the market.

Finally…if your favorite food contains gluten and you can’t find a GF version or those commercially made are not to your liking, try and recreate it yourself. This is a great opportunity to learn how to cook new things, eat wholesome foods and live a healthier life. A life without gluten is still a life worth living!

Lemon Chicken with Croutons

Makes 2-4 servings (depending on appetite)

I made Ina Garten’s version of this recipe for a friend with CD and her family. Ina stuffs a whole fryer chicken with the lemons, which is great for serving a large group. For those of you like me, who have two people to feed and a dislike for multiple days of leftovers, chicken thighs work well. You can find Ina’s recipe here. Any gluten free bread will do for this recipe, but Pamela’s white sandwich bread is especially sweet and delicious. Make the croutons while the chicken is roasting.

4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs

2 medium onions (preferably sweet), thin sliced (~6 cups)

1 ½ lemons, sliced

5-6 Tbs olive oil, divided

1 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Salt and Pepper, to taste

4-5 slices gluten free sandwich bread, such as Uti’s or Pamela’s

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Place onions in a large cast iron skillet, Dutch oven or roasting pan. Toss with 2 Tbs olive oil.

Brush butter on chicken thighs and season with salt and pepper. Place chicken on top of onions. Slide one lemon slice under the skin of each thigh and lay the remaining lemon slices over the chicken.

Place dish in oven and roast for 45 minutes or until chicken registers 160ºF and its juices run clear when pierced.  The onions should be caramelized (the darker they are, the better). If they are not, remove the chicken from the pan and return the onions to the oven to continue cooking while the chicken rests. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes. (It will continue cooking during this time).

Portion out the croutons to each plate. Top with onions, chicken and any drippings left in the pan. Remove lemon slice from under the chicken skin. Dig in.

Croutons

Cut up gluten free bread into crouton shaped squares. Heat a large skillet until hot. Reduce the heat to low, add 3 Tbs olive oil and bread. Season bread with salt and pepper and toss frequently, adding more olive oil if bread seems dry. Sauté until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.

Gluten Free Resources:

Celiac Disease Foundation

Celiac Spruce Association Diet and Lifestyle Info

USDA Food Allergies and Intolerance Resource List

Living Without Magazine

Gluten Free Girl

Gluten Free Goddess

Pamela’s Products Website

Whole Foods List of Gluten Free Foods that the Grocer Retails and Links to more GF sites

Wegman’s Grocery Store Gluten Free Products

Bon Appetit Top 6 Gluten Free Products

Fresh Gluten Free Egg Pasta I am not a fan of rice pasta, so I am dying to try and make this.

More Single Chef Gluten Free Recipes I didn’t realize how many recipes I already had that were gluten free!

Mel’s Veggie Burgers (replace the 1 Tbs flour with rice, potato or oat flour)

Broiled Lamb with a Balsamic Demi-Glace

Simple French Lentils and Veggies

Chicken Soup

Sausage, Spuds and Cabbage

Onion Soup

Pork Chops and Apples in a Cream Sauce

Halibut with a Warm Grapefruit Butter Sauce

Risotto

Meatloaf (Substitute GF oats for the breadcrumbs or make your own breadcrumbs. Tear GF bread into chunks and leave out overnight. Put in food processor and pulse until they reach the desired consistency).

 

Q: I am making a braised beef brisket that requires a “dry red wine” but does not recommend a type. I have a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon in the house. Do I need to buy something different? ~ Erica

A: Ah, the eternal cooking with wine question. I have stewed (no pun intended) over this same question many times. What exactly does it mean when it says dry wine and why do so many chefs get caught up with listing “good dry red wine” in their recipes. What I think is good might not be what you think is good. The quick no nonsense answer to Erica’s question is no, you don’t need to buy anything different. Use the Cabernet. For more information on cooking with wine than Erica asked for, read on.

Wine does many things in foods. Often it is used to impart complexity and richness to a dish, add acidity, marinate a piece of meat or deglaze a pan. Many savory recipes call for “dry” white or red wines. Technically speaking, the amount of sugar left over at the end of fermentation determines whether the wine is dry or sweet. The more sugar left at the end, the sweeter the wine. When a recipe calls for a “dry wine” it is not referring to the amount of tannins in a wine (which leave a dry taste in your mouth). Rather, it is asking you to avoid a wine that is “sweet.” Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are all examples of dry wines. Port, Sherry, Madeira, Muscat, ice wine and late harvest wine are examples of sweet wines. Grapes, such as Riesling, Viognier and Gewürztraminer can be fermented to be either sweet or dry. Cooking wine and sherry do not belong in any category and should be avoided at all costs as they contain salt and other preservatives.

If you want to be a stickler for wine cooking etiquette, you will cook with wine that exhibits flavors similar to those within the dish you are cooking. For instance, last week I was making a lamb stew that included cinnamon. I went to Alpine Wines and Mike helped me pick out a Syrah which was rich and had hints of cinnamon. Good pairing. Yesterday, though, as I made a pot of marinara sauce, I decided that the Tempranillo that I had open from the night before would be fine. I am sure a lovely Italian Chianti would have been a better match, but I find no reason to waste a perfectly good open bottle of vino.

Most food and wine experts will say, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it. This statement is not only false, but also not helpful, especially if you don’t drink. My mother used to cook Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon using Charles Shaw Merlot or Cabernet because the recipe called for an entire bottle of dry red wine. Those of you who have shopped at a Trader Joe’s know this to be nicknamed Two Buck Chuck, as it cost $1.99 a bottle (well at least it did 10 years ago). While my mom wouldn’t have been caught dead serving this at a dinner party, her Beef Bourguignon was delicious…and didn’t break the bank. If you are cooking a cheap cut of meat and need a lot of wine which will not be drastically reduced, try out an inexpensive wine. If you are heavily reducing the amount of wine in a dish, as would be the case with a pan sauce, I recommend spending the extra couple of dollars on a nicer bottle. When wine is reduced, its flavor is concentrated. If you use wine that has off flavors, those flavors will be intensified and your sauce will taste off.

There are options for those folks who don’t think they will go through an entire bottle of wine before it goes bad. Several winemakers are now making four packs of mini-bottles, with each bottle the equivalent of one glass of wine. I have heard people recommend boxed wine, but I find that unless you are drinking the wine as well as cooking with it, there is no way that one can finish off the entire box before the wine starts to oxidize in one to two months. Those of you with a stocked liquor cabinet can experiment with dry vermouth, brandy or cognac. If you don’t have the above or would rather not have booze around, stocks and broths can be used to deglaze pans and impart complexity. Vinegar and citrus juice or zest will add acidity. Experiment, have fun and above all, don’t ever take cooking with wine, or cooking in general too seriously.

Questions can be sent to mykitchenwisdom@yahoo.com

Cooking With Wine Recipes

When you are looking for quantity and quality is not as important (the wine won’t be reduced)

When you are reducing the amount of wine, as in a pan sauce, where quality does matter, so spend the extra couple of bucks.

Hey folks, I am not sure how many of you are still out there keeping up with the blog, but I am alive and well. Problem is with the wedding, remodel and job craziness, I just do not have the space or time to test recipes. I did however decide to get back to writing for the Valley Citizen, one of my local papers. The new column is called “My Kitchen Wisdom” and is intended to be a place where people can ask food related questions. For the time being I will be posting these articles here along with links to recipes that are related to my article topics. At some point in the future, once the kitchen is done and I am no longer working seven jobs, I hope to create a new blog under a new name. This new blog will not be single minded (no pun intended), but will cover a variety of food related topics. These will include but not be limited to:

  • The Single Chef
  • My Kitchen Wisdom questions and answers
  • Table for Two  (now that I am married I should probably utilize my two person recipes in a public forum)
  • Random Food Experiments (this winter I am experimenting with peppers…don’t know crap about them, so this is the winter to find out)
  • Food Essays
  • Consumer Science Blind Taste Tests (I have been dying to see if people can tell the difference between store bought generic eggs, “free range” store eggs, “organic” store eggs and the eggs that my back yard chickens are laying.

So, stay tuned and you should see a few more postings in the not so distant future. If you have questions or ideas, please send them my way. Post here or send to my email mykitchenwisdom@yahoo.com

Whether single or married, we can all use a little Kitchen Wisdom.

I have been touched each time I have been asked on the street, “Is the Single Chef coming back?” It is nice to know that people were reading my column. The truth of the matter is that eight months of remodeling sandwiched around getting married have kept me out of the kitchen. Thankfully, kitchen completion is getting closer and closer each day. I was able to reheat some boxed soup on my new range. It almost brought a tear to my eye. I long to get back to my pots, pans and kitchen gadgets, not to mention having access to my fully stocked spice drawer. But alas, it will be at least another month until we have cabinet boxes, then there are counter tops and, oh yeah, doors and drawer fronts. The joys and frustrations of being married to a woodworker…we get custom cabinets, they just take a while.

In the meantime, I have been longing to get back to food writing. The question was, without a fully working kitchen, how do I test recipes? Then an idea was suggested to me by my friend Katie. She had purchased a jar of spaghetti sauce and said that it tasted like ketchup. “Mel, help me. How can I fix this?” My mother was a proponent of purchasing Prego spaghetti sauce, spicing it up, simmering it for a couple of hours and it tasted homemade. “Add some red wine, a little oregano and basil then cook it down,” I responded. “But I don’t have any wine in the house right now,” Katie replied. Now I had to think a little more technically. The sauce probably tasted like ketchup because it had too much sugar. When you have too much sugar in a dish, you can balance it out with an acid. My next suggestion was to add a little vinegar of some sort, red wine or balsamic. When I spoke to her a few days later she said that the suggestion saved the spaghetti dinner and thanked me for being available to answer her question. I shared with her that prior to losing both my parents, they were the ones that everyone called to ask culinary questions. With both of them gone, I had to step up my food knowledge. In fact, over the past year I have been getting phone calls from my brother and various other relatives seeking culinary counsel. This is when Katie suggested I write a food advice column for the paper.

And so, I present you with my new column, “My Kitchen Wisdom.” As long as folks send me questions, I am happy to respond in this forum. Inquiries can be about a specific cooking dilemma, a suggestion for an ingredient substitute, tricks for storing food or you can just ask one of those questions that has been nagging you for years. “Do I really need to spend $30 on a tiny bottle of extra virgin olive oil,” just because the recipe calls for “good quality oil?”  You want to know something food related…ask me. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll try contacting my parents on the Ouija Board….or perhaps I’ll call Eleanor, my recipe editor. Either way, I’ll do my best to figure out your quandary and pass along my kitchen wisdom.
To answer the olive oil question, unless you are trying to win over the discerning palettes of the judges on TV’s Top Chef, forget the expensive olive oil.  Most restaurants buy gallon sized cans of extra virgin olive oil from their food service provider for less than $30. My advice on this is to not buy the cheapest stuff out there, but just pick something with a decent color that you can afford.

Until next time, happy cooking. I look forward to your questions. Email me at mykitchenwisdom@yahoo.com

It's so cute, it reminds me of Stoffer's French Bread Pizza, only better.

Jeff and I are currently staying in a house without an oven. Well, there is a wood burning stove that has an attached oven, but the only thing I have tried to cook in it was chocolate chip cookies and they were terribly burnt. The house does have a toaster oven that is big enough to cook a frozen pizza though. So Jeff and I, well mainly Jeff on the nights I have been working, enjoy making frozen pizzas for dinner. Tonight Jeff was off to ping pong at the Wildwood Room, also known as T.I.T.T.S (Teton International Table Tennis Society). I needed something to eat, but knew that I could not eat an entire frozen pizza…so I pulled the frozen cheese Freschetta Brick Oven pie out of the freezer and cut off 1/3rd. I topped it with artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes and when it was finished I topped it with fresh basil. Why had I not thought of this before?

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