Tuna Ceviche

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted, and I am happy to finally be back and with a delicious recipe to share! There were many factors that kept me from posting, however, the reason why I was away for so long as due to health related issues. Thankfully, I am being treated and am well on the road to recovery.  Now that I am feeling better, I am eager to be in the kitchen and make delicious food once again.

One of my all time favorite foods is fresh tuna. Sear it, serve it as sashimi, grill it – it doesn’t really matter. One of the easiest way to prepare  fresh tuna, however, is ceviche. A ceviche is simple – take a  really, really fresh fish, cube it up, add an acid (usually in the form of fresh citrus) , some salt, pepper, and herbs,  refrigerate for at least an hour and serve. The acid ‘cooks’ the fish by changing the texture, and you have an extremely healthy dish. Pretty simple, right?

While the standard ceviche recipe calls for raw peppers, onions, and cilantro, I have found that I prefer my recipe to be a bit different.

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Tuna Ceviche

Ingredients:

1lb best quality sashimi tuna, cut into cubes while still mostly frozen

juice from 4 lemons

2 dozen kalamata olives, pits removed and cut in half lengthwise

handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely minced

3 Persian cucumbers, cut into quarters lengthwise and chopped

Sea Salt and Coarse Black Pepper

 

To prepare:

Note: It is VERY IMPORTANT to work with the fish while it is still mostly frozen, and that all the ingredients you work with stay cold. 

1) Combine the cubed tuna and the fresh lemon juice in a glass bowl. Add a little bit of salt and pepper. Place in the refrigerator and let ‘cook’ for about 30 minutes. 

2)  Add your olives and parsley, use a spatula or your hands to prevent breaking up the tuna. Return to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes.

3) 5 to 10 minutes before you want to serve it, add the cucumbers and add more salt and pepper if desired.

 

 

 

Gluten Free Pancakes with Mini Chocolate Chips

The inspiration: A blizzard, and having my whole family home for breakfast

Most of the day yesterday and into much of the day there was a large snowstorm ( they call it Juno. Why I am not sure). But in any case, we got a good foot or so of snow, and my husband had off work and my kids had off school. When the family is all together for breakfast, I treat us all to homemade pancakes. I find it too difficult trying to get three kids and a husband out the door every morning to cook a hot breakfast, and this is the only one everyone agrees on.

The innovation: Making a family favorite healthier using Michael Ruhlman’s Ratios

There was one problem with me just getting into the kitchen and whipping up a batch of homemade pancakes, though. I was now on a primarily gluten-free, lower fat, lower sugar, lower processed/refined product diet. So how was I going to make pancakes for everyone and not be tempted to have one myself?  I decided to make them gluten free, and to keep the percentages exact, I turned to my culinary bible, Ratios. I primarily use this when I am baking, so I don’t end up with a disaster on my hands. I have a gluten free flour blend that is a 1:1 exchange for wheat flour. I doubled the recipe, used Earth Balance for butter, almond milk for regular milk, and gluten free flour for all-purpose, but the percentages are his- and once again they gave me a beautiful end result.

The reinterpretation: Gluten Free Pancakes with Mini Chocolate Chips

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Ingredients:

2 C unsweetened vanilla flavored almond milk

4 large eggs

1 stick Earth Balance (4 oz)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 3/4 C  gluten free flour (make sure it is a 1:1 for wheat flour)

6 Tblsp turbinado sugar

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

Pam or other oil cooking spray

Mini chocolate chips (optional – I used Enjoy Life’s Mini Chips)

 

To prepare:

1) Melt the Earth Balance and set aside

2) Combine the wet ingredients- almond milk, eggs, and vanilla extract.

3) Combine the dry ingredients- flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. If you find there are lumps in the baking powder or flour, sift them out.

4) Combine the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and add the melted Earth Balance. Whisk together to make sure all ingredients are incorporated.

5) Ladle mixture into desired size pancakes into a frying pan sprayed with Pam. Add chocolate chips and cook til bubbles start to appear, then flip over. Cook for about 2-3 minutes more.

 

 

 

 

Arroz con Pollo (Rice and Chicken)

The inspiration: A trip to the local market

I went to the local market down the street from my house for one thing. Just one! Does that ever happen to you – you need one thing and walk out with a whole cart load of stuff you have to have? That’s what happened here. I saw the corn and peppers outside, and I had to have them. Then of course I needed everything else I bought too… Anyway, I came home with a whole box of delicious produce and now had to decide what to make.

 

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The innovation: not using onions or garlic for flavor, but still managing to get a delicious, well-rounded flavor

Since starting the FODMAP diet, the biggest challenge I have is to get intense flavor without using garlic and onions ( big no-nos on the diet) It has led me to start exploring with different herb and spice combinations I normally wouldn’t use. In this case, the strong herbal flavor from the parsley (you can use cilantro but I am not a fan) leaves AND stems plus the addition of red chilis added great flavor – not too hot, but with a definite kick. The use of vine tomatoes (more expensive but more flavorful) also boosted the flavor as well.

My reinterpretation: Arroz con Pollo

 

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless dark chicken meat

3 ears fresh corn, kernels cut from the cob

2 red bell peppers, sliced

2 orange bell peppers, sliced

3 vine tomatoes, diced

2 red chili peppers, minced fine or ground with a mortar and pestle (I prefer a mortar and pestle)

half a bunch of fresh parsley (about 1 cup), minced fine

2 C water

1 C white rice

Salt and pepper

 

To Prepare:

1) Get a large stockpot (at least 6 qt) very hot, and add your chicken. Sear on both sides, each side about 7 mins, adding salt and pepper while you sear. Remove from pot and set aside.

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2) Lower flame to low, and add the corn as well as the red and yellow peppers. Cover and let sweat til vegetable soften, about 15 mins.

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3)Add the tomatoes, chilies, and parsley, stirring well to incorporate. Cover again and let sweat for about 5-7 mins, or til tomatoes start to soften.

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4) Add the seared chicken meat, mixing into the vegetables, and lower flame. Add a bit of salt and pepper and taste. Cook for about 15 mins, or til chicken is mostly cooked through.

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5) Add the water and the rice, stir well, and bring fire to a low simmer. Simmer for 20 mins, or until the rice is soft but not mushy. Serve immediately.

Baked Apple-Sesame Seed Chips

The inspiration: apples from a friend

Confession time: I don’t really eat that many apples. With few exceptions, I follow the FODMAP diet (although my family does not) and apples are considered a fruit to avoid because it has a lot of fructose naturally.  So are lots of other types of fruits as well, which make me sad because I love fresh fruit!  Most of my favorite fruits (tree fruits, like cherries, pears, apricots, apples, peaches and plums) are on the ‘ to avoid’ list.

So what do you do when your friend tells you she bought too many apples (they were on sale) and she needs your help to use them up? My husband likes apple chips ( I usually reserve this treat for Passover, minus the sesame seeds) and my kids will eat them sometimes. They are simple enough, and take longer to bake than to prepare. Win-win if you ask me.

The innovation: baking with sesame seeds to give a little nutty flavor

Before I started FODMAP, this was a snack I loved. It’s got sweetness, it’s a little crunchy, and I didn’t feel guilty for eating them! One of the things I like to add is sesame seeds – they are very healthy for you, and give a bit of extra flavor and crunch. I also switched from using regular cane sugar to coconut sugar to make the recipe a bit healthier as well.

My interpretation: Baked Apple Sesame Seed Chips

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Ingredients:

5 Macintosh apples, cored and halved, then sliced thin

1/2 C coconut sugar

1/2 C sesame seeds

1/3 C  ground cinnamon

olive oil spray

To Prepare:

1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Arrange the apple slices on two full size baking sheets. Spray a light coating of olive oil spray over the slices. 

3. Sprinkle first the sesame seeds, then the coconut sugar, then the cinnamon over the apple slices. It works best in this order because the oil helps anchor the sesame seeds to the apple slice, and the sugar stays on better this way.

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4. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, then shut off oven. Leave oven closed and allow apple slices to cool completely before removing . Using a butter knife, carefully remove them from the tray. These chips are best if eaten right away, or left in a Ziploc and eaten within a day or so. 

Roasted Mixed Nut Flour

The inspiration: 5 containers of freezer burnt nuts

I always meant to use them, but I never got around to it. I had bought several containers of nuts after they were on sale, and stashed them in the freezer so they wouldn’t get rancid. So a few months later as I am re-organizing my freezer, I find them all the way in the back, and very much freezer burnt. It made me really sad- my carelessness led to food and money being wasted. I wanted to find a way to solve this, but wasn’t sure how.

The innovation: Roasting them to remove the stale freezer taste

My first thought was to roast the nuts to try to restore the flavor.  After a quick Facebook chat with a good friend (thanks, Simone!) I figured this would be the best course of action. I also figured that even after roasting the flavor would still be pretty tame, and wanted to help it out a little. Salt and sugar work wonders – add a bit of salt to chocolate, or a bit of sugar to tomato sauce and you will see exactly what I mean. The logic was that an equal measure of both would restore a bit more of the lost flavor. Since going mostly gluten free, GF flours and flour mixes are expensive, so I figured a way to use the nuts would be to grind them into flour. This way, it would never be the star of the show, so to speak, and I could add as I needed as I went depending on what I was making.

My reinterpretation: Roasted Mixed Nut Flour

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Ingredients:

2. 5 to 3 lbs of raw nuts ( I used a mix of almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pecans, but you can use a single kind)

2 handfuls of salt

2 handfuls of organic turbinado sugar

 

 To prepare:

1) Lay the nuts out in a single layer on a cookie sheet or sheet pan. I needed two full size sheet pans

2) Sprinkle the salt and sugar lightly over the nuts

3) Roast in the oven at 350F for about 15 -20 minutes. The nuts will be lightly brown and smell roasted but not burnt.

4) Let nuts cool completely before grinding.

5) Grind nuts in the food processor using the shredder blade at a medium setting, making sure to include the salt and sugar.

6) When all the nuts are ground, sift through with your fingers to remove any clumps. Store in airtight container or Ziploc in the fridge. Use sooner rather than later.

 

Gluten Free Pasta with Peppers and Capers

The inspiration: A need for a quick meal and to clean out my fridge

Sunday afternoons find me with a need to make a quick meal to feed my family. We’ll have Shabbat leftovers for dinner, but lunch is always about using up what is in the house. Since starting FODMAP, the definition of a ‘quick’ meal has changed. Even so, I didn’t have 30 minutes or an hour to make something. So what to make that would be hot, filling, taste good, and FODMAP friendly?

The Innovation: Using a corn/rice blend pasta instead of completely rice pasta

I’ve tried making rice pasta – it was a mushy overcooked disaster. But at the same time I bought the rice pasta, I also bought a bag of corn/rice blend GF pasta as well. If I’ve never seen it before, I always want to try it. It cooks quickly, too – about the same time and way you’d cook regular pasta. While the pasta cooked, I could saute some peppers I had in the fridge, and add something for a hit of acid. Capers are lovely for that – cooking them a little reduces the astringency a good bit, leaving a lovely almost citrus flavor in its place.  When my two younger kids demanded second helpings, I knew I had a winner.

My Re-Interpretation: Gluten Free Pasta with Peppers and Capers

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Ingredients:

2 large red bell peppers, sliced into strips

1  8 oz bag of GF corn/rice pasta (I used Landau’s)

2 heaping tablespoons of large capers

Olive oil for sauteeing peppers, plus a tiny bit extra

Juice of half a lemon

Juice from the capers to taste

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste.

Dried parsley to taste

To Prepare:

1) Liberally salt the water for the pasta, when it reaches a boil add the pasta and stir frequently as it cooks to prevent clumps. Boil for about 7 -10 mins, testing at the 7 minute mark for doneness. When the pasta is al dente, remove from fire, drain from water and rinse lightly.

2) While you cook the pasta, add a bit of olive oil to your saute pan. When it is hot, add the peppers and parsley.

3) Saute the peppers at medium high heat for about 5 mins, or til the peppers start to soften and change color.

4) Add the capers, and cook for another 2-3 mins or until peppers are soft but not mushy.

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5) Add pepper-caper mixture to the cooled but still warm pasta. Mix in the caper juice, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

 

Nicoise Salad with Potatoes – May Kosher Connection Challenge

Shavuot is about two weeks away, and I am already planning my menu. Especially for the last meal, on the second day of the holiday. In our Hasidic group the men and boys gather in the synagogues to observe the passing of a previous Rebbe (Grand Rabbi) on that day. They are away from early morning til very late in the afternoon, and even eat the festive holiday meal in the synagogue. These yahrzeit seudot (meals to commemorate the passing of a holy person) take place twice a year – once on Shavuot and once during Sukkot. We women take these times to eat with friends – groups of women co-ordinate and get together and eat in each other’s homes. Just as the men and boys bond together in the synagogues, the women and girls bond together over a delicious Yom Tov meal. It is also a chance to relax the menu a bit – it is our custom to eat meat at every Yom Tov meal except these. nicoise This is a more modern interpretation of a Nicoise salad – it features seared tuna, as well as green beans and baby red bliss potatoes. Instead of a vinagrette, it is merely dressed with fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.  This is a recipe for one large, main course salad, and is easy to multiply for larger amounts.

Ingredients:

1 tuna steak,about 6 oz

4 baby red potatoes, cut in half lengthwise

4 black olives (with pits)

1 Romaine heart (I use Andy Boy), torn into bite size pieces by hand

1 hard boiled egg

8-10 fresh green beans, ends trimmed

Juice from one fresh lemon

3 oz extra virgin olive oil

Table salt for salting water

Sea salt for seasoning

Olive oil spray for grilling

To Prepare: Fill a large pot at least halfway with water, and add table salt to the water, enough so there is the finest layer on the bottom of the pot Add your egg and when the water is at a full boil, add your green beans and potatoes set a timer for 8 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove egg with slotted spoon and set into a bowl of cold water to cool.  Boil for a few minutes more, testing once midway. The beans are done when still crispy and green but not hard. Use a slotted spoon to remove green beans and set aside. Boil for another 10 mins or so, then check potatoes by gently poking with a fork – if they are soft but not mushy, they are done. Drain and remove, setting aside with the green beans. Put a grill pan on the stove, and get it very hot. Spray the pan lightly with olive oil spray. Place the tuna steak into the pan for 2- 3 mins, depending on thickness. Flip once, cook another 2 mins on the other side, then remove from pan, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and set aside. Roll the lemon on a cutting board or counter and cut in half, squeezing into a bowl and removing the seeds. Add the olive oil a tiny pinch of sea salt. Mix well. When all ingredients are cool but not cold, take everything except the tuna, egg, and olives and combine. Garnish with the remaining ingredients and serve immediately.