A bit of serendipity led to the recipe that I am working on. I ran across a mix for cinque e’ cinque on the Lucini website. At about the same time Amy ran across a recipe for farinata. When I Googled cinque e’ cinque I found the Lucini website, and a couple of recipes for farinata. Neither of us had heard of farinata, but based on the descriptions it sounded like a really tasty thing, and worth trying. From the number of different descriptions I have seen it seems like it could be a very versatile dish. It can range from a flatbread, to a savory pancake, to something like a fritata. I was more interested in the flatbread end of things.
What’s in it? Chickpea flour, water, salt, and olive oil. Simple. Right, well that is where things got a little fuzzy. After searching for a but we decided to try the recipe Amy had. For one reason or another it didn’t work out. I think I have this figured out now. Lets just say that dinner was not quite what we had in mind for tonight! It was tasty all right, but we’ll just kind of skip that. I think that the biggest problem we actually had was simply trying to get too much in the pan at one time. The recipe was a little unclear about some of the details, and although we did what we thought was right, we ended up with something that looked like we baked some hummus. It smelled fantastic though!
My hope was that this would be something that I would be able to use as a really tasty pizza crust, or as a base for an appetizer. Maybe a little thicker and I could use it almost like a pita or tortilla, folded in half and filled.
We’re going to take another crack at it tomorrow, I think, and I’ll take some pictures and let you know how it turns out.
As far as my food preferences go I tend to like spicy food, although not all the time. One of my favorite things before going gluten-free was to go get Chinese at one of several local carry-out places. One of my go to dishes was General T’so’s chicken, spicy, and sweet is one of the flavor combinations that I really dig. As we know, Chinese food is generally off limits due to soy sauce. Needless to say, I was bummed. PF Chang’s and its sister Pei Wei have made our lives a little easier as far as Chinese carry-out. After trying the Spicy chicken at Pei Wei I decided I had found a suitable replacement for General T’so! Not quite the same, but it will do. After a few trips I recently realized that not only did I like it, but I was pretty sure I could come up with my own version for a lot less money, and cut out the trip.
This is going to be a bit of a multi-step thing, but they are easy. First thing you need to do is make your sauce. For most cuisines there are sort of base flavors that are commonly used. If you look at a lot of recipes of French dishes you will spot mirepoix which is simply 2 parts onion diced, and then one part each of celery and carrots. This becomes the trinity in cajun cooking be replacing the carrots with green peppers. Lemongrass and galangal are common in Thai dishes, and in Chinese garlic and ginger. I took the garlic and ginger as a base flavor, and built my sauce from there. Here’s what I came up with:
1 1/4 cup orange juice + lime juice to bring the total to 1 1/3 cup
1 TBSP sambal
1 TBSP honey
1 clove ginger crushed
1 quarter inch thick slice of ginger root
Place everything in a pot, and bring it up to a boil. Then take 1 TBSP of corn starch, and combine with enough orange juice to make a slurry. With the pot still boiling add the slurry while whisking. You don’t want clumps so, be sure you are mixing it while you pour. Remove it from the heat, and cool. Keep this in the fridge till you are ready to finish the dish. Really, that was it!
The next thing I did was get all of the other ingredients prepped. I had four chicken breasts, because I wanted leftovers for lunch for the next few days at work. I also had some broccoli, carrot, and yellow bell pepper. The chicken was cut into bite sized cubes, the broccoli I cut into florets, and the yellow pepper and carrot I sliced thinly.
From here this dish came together pretty much like my last stir-fry chicken post. Start with the chicken, and sauté until cooked nearly through. Then add the veggies, and cook until they are tender. Add the sauce to the pan, and stir to combine, and coat everything. Serve over rice, and enjoy! If you are looking for a vegetarian dish, substitute tofu for the chicken, but remember to get the firmest you can otherwise it will break up while you try to sauté it.
A little bit of analysis: Dinner was very tasty, but… not quite right. It was fairly mild, and not quite sweet enough. It was also not quite thick enough. I still have about half the sauce left, and I think my next step will be to add a bit more honey, sambal, and thicken the sauce a little bit more. It was fun to take a shot at reverse engineering a recipe from only tasting eating it. I’m on the right path, so I’ll keep going a little further. This was a little bit of a challenge just due to the fact that there is a fair amount going on in the sauce.
I hope that my experiment inspires you to see what you can do in the kitchen. All it takes is paying attention to what you are eating, and taking a shot at replicating what you taste. Remember that there is more to what you eat than just the taste. There is flavor, scent, and texture. See how close you can get!
If there is anything you would like me to take a shot at reply here, and I’ll see what I can do. I’d love to hear from you guys!
I was thinking the other day about local, gluten-free foods that are cheap, plentiful, overlooked and easy to get. One thing sprang to mind. Acorns. Did you even know you could eat them? You can, but it is going to take a bit of work. You’ll need to collect them, dry them, crack them, then leach the tannins out of them, and then dry them again, unless you need them moist, and plan to use them right away.
The first step is obviously to collect them. You’ll need to find some oak trees. If you live where they are common that should be pretty easy. Then, start picking them up. They range from green to brown. I tried to pick up the green ones mostly.The green ones will need to ripen for a few days, but I figure they haven’t been on the ground for as long, and they are less likely to have been damaged by insects and birds. This turned out to be a little tougher than I expected, because squirrels like to nibble on them, and then toss them. I spent a lot of time picking up acorns that were chewed on. I didn’t worry about the caps being on too much because they come off very easily.
Pretty much what I am doing I had to look up. I found a few good sites, and most of what I am doing comes from Grandpappy’s Basic Acorn Recipe Page. I already knew that they were high in tannins, and that you had to leach them out before we can eat them.
Acorns high tannin levels are toxic to people and some animals, but other animals, deer, bears, wild pigs, some ducks, birds, and squirrels all eat them. Some like squirrels cache them and will eat them later after water has leached the tannins. Other animals are not affected by them, and can simply eat them.
I haven’t decided what I am going to do with the acorns I gathered, but I’m sure it will be an interesting trip!
As I continue in my quest to keep myself entertained, and fed I ran across an idea that was given to me years ago by a friend who was in culinary school at the time. I had a duck, and no idea what to do with it. She recommended tea smoking it. I made duck a’la orange instead. Today I only had chicken, but I had tea, so I made tea smoked chicken.
First thing, I wanted to marinade the chicken to keep some moisture. I put the chicken in a vacuum bag with some San-J Polynesian glaze. Next time, I might try something else, but this was pretty tasty.
Next, I got my tea mixture together. I took 6 tea bags, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of uncooked rice, and one star anise, and combined that in a cup. The really important thing I did was to line my skillet with a double layer of aluminum foil. The tea went in the center of the pan. I also took the rubber feet and the plastic handle off my steamer basket. I sprayed that with non-stick spray, and placed it in the pan. The chicken went on the steamer basket. Then obviously, put the lid on, tightly!
The only thing left was to put the chicken on the stove. (In hind-sight, 20-20, you know outside on my Coleman Stove would maybe have been a better idea.) I opened my back door, and turned on the fan to blow as much smoke out as possible. It didn’t smoke a lot, but my apartment does smell a little smoky now. After about 12 minutes on high, I pulled the lid off and checked. The chicken was done, and nice and juicy, and had a really nice mahogany color. I served it with some rice, and sautéed carrots and snow peas.
Next time I will do a few things differently, but it was a tasty experiment. Tons of flavor, and pretty quick. I know, I know, why was I making a smoker on my stove? Three layers of foil next time. I’m also thinking that cutting the chicken into cubes will speed things up. The smokiness was a bit intense, and less time in the smoke would take the edge off of that.