Southwestern Style Pork Stew

I love Mexican food.  And for the most part, it is naturally gluten free!  As long as you stick to the corn tortillas and freshly made stuff.  This is one of my family's favorite dishes - my version of Chili Verde.  My husband says that he likes it even better as leftovers.  Served with rice and beans, salad too, it's an easy dinner!  

Southwestern Style Pork Stew

3.5 – 4 lb. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed & cut into cubes
2 Tbl vegetable oil
2 red onions, large sliced
1 white onion, large sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 14oz can fire-roasted tomatoes with chilis
1 7oz. can diced green chilis*
3 Tbl ground cumin
2 Tbl fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp ground chili pasilla
Salt and Pepper
Lime wedges

  1. In a dutch oven, cook pork with 1/3 cup of water over medium-high heat, covered and stirring occasionally, for 15 – 20 minutes.   Uncover, increase heat to high and cook until liquid has evaporated, approx. 20 -30 minutes.
  2. Remove pork from dutch oven and keep aside.  Pour off excess rendered pork fat, keeping 3 Tbl in pan.  If not enough rendered pork fat liquid is left, add oil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium.  Add onions, garlic, and cumin, stir and cover.  Cook until onions are soft, approx. 8 minutes.
  4. Return meat to pan along with any accumulated juices.  Add tomatoes, chilis, oregano and chili pasilla.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until fork tender, approx. 1 ½  to 2 hours.  Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat tortillas.
  6. Serve with warm tortillas, and garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.
Tips:  If you prefer to use fresh chilis, use 1 lb. Anaheim or poblano chilis.  Cut off stems, slice in half, remove seeds and roast in hot oven until blistered.  Let cool and peel skins.  Lots of work!  And the chilis can be very expensive compared to buying canned.  Works either way!

Heating Tortillas:  This can be done in a number of ways -  using a damp towel in a tortilla warmer and heated in the microwave, or in a hot sauté pan on the stove top.  Microwave yields a moister, hot tortilla, whereas the stovetop method yields a drier, crispier version

Eat happy!


Restaurants - Listen Up!

Last night was my most difficult dining experience of my GF life.  My high school son’s swim team had a “Restaurant Night” fundraiser at Stonefire Grill in Valencia.  You know how that works – they get a bunch of people to go there flyer in hand, order, eat, and the team makes a percentage of the sales for that night.  Great!  Love to support the team, especially in this state of budget crisis and shortage of funds for school athletic programs.  I took the little guys too, including my GF 11 year old son.

They have on their website information about their GF menu!  We requested the gluten free menu.  It was a printed on a plain slip of paper in a plastic sleeve that would normally go into a binder.  Yeah, very attractive.  The server, well I use that term loosely, as he really was just an order taker, had no idea what Gluten Free is all about, let alone knowledge of the items on the GF menu to assist us in ordering.  Lots of salads but none that a kid would want or eat. The side items were extremely limited especially for a kid.  Mashed potatoes with cheese and onion.  Right.  Cole slaw and beans, ditto.  Grilled Vegetables – the order taker had no idea what that was.  Broccoli maybe?  No.  Corn – ah ha!  But no, corn is not in season.  Now I’m a huge follower of seasonal produce, but really?  No corn.  As IF the tomatoes, red peppers, and other veggies in their salads are in-season produce.  Please.  So my GF guy ordered plain salmon.  Nothing else. 

The others at the table were enjoying the garlicky breadsticks, pizzas and BBQ chicken and ribs.  Oh yes, the BBQ sauce is NOT made in house and does have gluten.  How easy is it to make GF BBQ sauce?!  I say that rhetorically – it’s a piece of cake.  Just make it fresh.  BBQ joint, right?!  The salmon comes; he scarfs it down in seconds.  Still hungry.  So I gave him some more money and off to review the GF menu and order more he went.  This time he ordered the Lemon Garlic Chicken.  When it arrived at the table, it was covered with large chunks of garlic and TONS of parsley.  Green stuff!  He tried a bite but it just wasn’t going to work.  I must say, I did try it and it wasn’t bad.  I believe the green stuff scared him away.  He’s a kid.  To his credit, he does eat well and he did eat the salmon!  Pack it up and take it home to dad, what else was I going to do.

My son lowered his head into his hand.  I could see his little chin begin to quiver.  In front of his big brother and all of his friends and teammates, my young son was fighting tears of frustration, anger, and self-pity.  Oh years of that came flooding over me as I felt his pain and wanted so desperately to make it go away.  I hugged him, and tried to soothe him without embarrassing him in front of so many people.  I then had to walk away.  I sat by a friend and hid my face as I myself fought off the tears.  I’m thankful for her kindness and friendship.  I pulled myself back together and went back to the table, boxed up the chicken and left.

Here’s what I have to say to Stonefire Grill and other restaurants.  We GF people know that it’s a tough thing to understand GF food and cooking.  We totally get it!  But if you are going to put it out there that you have GF food and thereby are looking for our patronage, GET IT STRAIGHT!  Make sure that you really do offer a respectable GF menu.  Make sure that your staff is adequately trained and knowledgeable.  Don’t attempt to placate us with half @#! attempts.  It seems disrespectful.  I for one don’t appreciate it.

As I write this and my eyes well with tears, my husband says, “Thank God we have the knowledge, the intelligence and the ability to make it better for him.”  He’s right.  I love him for that!


Good Ol’ Collard Greens and then Some!

Growing up in the south, collard greens were available at any BBQ joint worth its salt.  I just never seemed to try them.  I hate to think of all the yummy greens that I missed during those years.  Miss them no more!  My CSA has had them in my farm box off & on throughout the winter months.  Collards and a mixture of different types of greens and I just LOVE them!  Even my boys like them.  My friend Susan doesn’t seem to agree.  If this recipe doesn't do the trick, maybe she’ll hand hers over to me!

Greens, Southern Style

a bunch o’ greens – collards and a mixture  of beet tops, chard, mustard, turnip...
3 – 4 slices of bacon, cut into small bits (applewood smoked is the best)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
water or chicken stock to cover, approx. 4 cups
red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Clean your greens!  Rinse well and remove woody or stalky stems.  Cut the thick stems from the collards and large chop all greens into strips.
  2. Brown the bacon in a stock pot.  Add onion and cook until soft and tender.
  3. Add greens, garlic and water or stock to cover.  Season with pepper flakes.  I like a little kick but not too much, so I use about a teaspoon. 
  4. Cover.  Simmer. Simmer some more, 'til tender.  It takes about and hour or more.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  I like mine a bit salty.
  5. Enjoy!

Eat happy!


Family Dinner with Tuscan Style Roast Chicken

Every Sunday is big family dinner night at my house.  Friends join us each week as we share the cooking, dining, wine and conversation!  Last week, we enjoyed Tuscan Style Roasted Chicken with sauteed asparagus, potato galette and mixed green salad with an orange sherry vinaigrette.  Yum!  I had a few requests on Twitter to share the chicken recipe, so here you go! 

Tuscan Style Lemon Roasted Chicken
 serves 4

1 whole chicken, 4 -5 lbs.
1 lemon, cut in half
1 sprig fresh rosemary, whole
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
2 whole cloves of garlic
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Remove giblets from chicken, rinse and pat dry.  Place in roasting pan.
  3. Put ½ lemon in chicken cavity with 2 cloves of garlic and sprig of rosemary.
  4. Truss chicken.
  5. Squeeze remaining half of lemon over chicken.
  6. Pour olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt & pepper over chicken and rub.
  7. Place chicken, breast side down, in roasting pan and into the oven. 
  8. Roast 45 minutes.  Turn chicken breast side up.  Continue to roast 30 - 45 minutes, basting every 10 minutes.
  9.  Chicken is done when instant read thermometer inserting into breast reaches 160°.  Remove from oven and loosely cover with foil.  Allow chicken to rest.  
  10.  Carve, serve & enjoy! 
A few tips...  
I cook whole poultry breast down the first part of roasting to allow the natural juices to settle into the breast meat.  This helps to maintain more moisture in the breast and still allows the skin to roast and crisp when turned up.

Chicken is considered cooked at 165°.  Carryover cooking occurs when removing it a little early from the oven and allowing to rest. Resting the meat allows for the juices to be redistributed and absorbed throughtout prior to carving.

Trussing keeps the legs firmly against the body and allows for more even cooking.  

Eat happy!


The Chocolate Chip Cookie War: Chewy vs. Crunchy???

Batch after batch of gluten free chocolate chip cookies, I tried to find the “perfect” recipe, one that could pass for the “real thing” with all the kids, big and small.  I tested many different recipes, using guar gums or xanthum gums, baking powder or baking soda, salted butter or unsalted butter, and differing quantities of everything. It became the Cookie War, Chewy vs. Crunchy!  In my recipe showdown, it came down to one thing – the flour used.

For you crunchy cookie lovers, use the rice flour combo.  This gave the cookie more rise, crisper texture, good flavor and aroma, yet the mouthfeel still had a bit of the grittiness associated with rice flours. 

And for you chewy cookie lovers, use the sorghum flour combo.  The sorghum flour adds an earthy aroma & flavor, no grittiness in the mouthfeel, and cooks faster.  Either way, this recipe won approval from all my tasters.

So here’s the scoop – I am giving it to you BOTH ways!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup Evaporated Cane Juice Sugar
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp. GF vanilla
2 eggs

Rice Flour Combo                 OR                  Sorghum Flour Combo
1 ½ cup glutinous rice flour                        2 cups Bob’s Red Mill GF Flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill GF Flour                     ½ cup sorghum flour

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp guar gum
¼ tsp cream of tartar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375.°
  2. Cream sugars and butter.   Add vanilla and mix. 
  3. Combine flours, baking soda, salt, guar gum & cream of tartar.  Sift together.  Add to sugar/ butter mixture.  Mix at low speed until crumbly.
  4. Add eggs, beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Add chocolate chips and stir.
  6. Using a #40 scoop (3/4 oz), drop dough 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat.
  7. For Rice Combo, bake approx. 13 minutes.
  8. For Sorghum Combo, bake approx. 9 minutes.
  9. Cool cookies on baking sheet before removing to cooling rack. 
  10.  Enjoy!

Take our poll!  Which do you prefer, Chewy or Crunchy???

Eat happy,


Ahhh, Macarons!

I just love those little scrumptious bites of heaven! Slightly crispy outside, with gooey deliciousness inside.  Not to be confused with coconut macaroons, these are light and airy cookies, filled with ganache, and heavily infused with flavor.  I developed my palate for macarons years ago when working at Patina in Los Angeles.  I would grab them from the dessert cooler when walking through the kitchen – oops!  These are not the simplest to make.  It is most surely an art form. Traditionally gluten free too!

While waiting outside of the Stanton Social Club in NYC for our reserved table (not a personal fav – perhaps I’ll share that sometime!) we noticed this little boutique shop nextdoor – Bisous, Ciao.  A boutique devoted exclusively to the Macaron.

Bisous, Ciao offers a wide array of flavors.  That fateful evening I picked about 6 different ones and devoured them quickly after dinner!  So when my husband told me about a business trip to NYC, first on my mind was a box of macarons!  Really, don’t come home without them.  Good husband that he is (oh how lucky am I!), he brought home a BIG box!  Perfection.  In a moment of insane generosity, I even shared small bites with my boys.

My fav flavors are Dark Chocolate (of course), Espresso, Gianduja, Salted Caramel and Pecan Caramel.   I adore the Lemon macaron which takes me back to the Tart Citron in France, so robust with flavor.  And Sour Cherry too!  For anyone who enjoys the flower flavors, the Rose and Violet are so infused with essence that you have the sensation of the actual flowers surrounding your nose and palate.  Truly a sensational experience!

Bisous, Ciao
101 Stanton Street, New York 10002