Thursday, September 26, 2013

Gluten Free Cannoli Sandwich

I love my Italian people, but they can be old fashioned and stubborn!  For instance, if you tell them you're a vegetarian, they'll probably offer you chicken.  And if you tell them you're gluten free, they'll most likely say, "it's all in your head-ah, don't-ah be ridiculous!".  Visiting my favorite Italian deli is something I look forward to every weekend, but they sure do make shopping for gluten free products frustrating.  The only thing they've given us is pasta.  No cookies, no bread, no pizza, no pastries.  I can't just live off of pasta!  Which has resulted in coming up with my own cannoli "shell".  Because gluten free goods tend to be dryer and more fragile, trying to roll this cookie into a cannoli shell was impossible, so a make it work moment turned this treat into a sandwich instead!  :)

There are two types of cannoli filling - super sweet vs. more savory.  I personally don't care for the super sweet kind but you'll find this type everywhere!  Even in Italy we hunted and hunted for the savory ones and came up empty handed.  Mind you this was before any of us had iphones, so I'm sure we'd be able to track the ones we prefer more easily now.  Maybe it's a southern Italian thing, but I was raised on the enjoyment of still being able to taste the natural creamy flavor of the ricotta cheese filling instead of something that just taste like a gob of frosting.  The shell is sweet enough to counter balance the filling.  And to separate this cannoli from being more of an appetizer, is the sweet tang of orange zest and crunchy mini semi sweet chocolate chips!  Throw a handful of some nutty chopped pistachios and you've got yourself an authentic Italian dessert that's easy on the belly.

What you'll need: filling 10 mins

2 32 oz. tubs low fat ricotta cheese
1 - 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (according to taste)
1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pistachios (roughly chopped)
zest from one orange

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients with a large spoon.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge while you make the cookies. 

What you'll need: cookies (about 5 dozen, about 30 sandwiches) 1 1/2 hours

1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cubes butter (3/4 cup)
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice 
4 tsp baking powder
4 cups sifted GF all purpose flour (add more if needed) I use Trader Joe's GF mix

Note: This is a big recipe so you can easily half this!  In a large bowl cream the sugar and butter together until evenly incorporated.  Mix in the eggs one at a time.  Add in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and mix.  Sift in the baking powder and flour together gradually.  But don't over mix.  You don't want tough dough.  The end product should feel slightly sticky but not to the point where it's not coming off of your hands.  So add more flour if needed.

Roll the dough into 1 in. balls, cover with plastic wrap so they don't dry out and set aside.  I used an electric pizzelle press instead of my grandma's vintage iron this time.  It's faster and makes two at a time!  Plug in the press, let heat up and begin making the cookies!  Spray the press with vegetable oil each time to prevent any sticking.  Place in the balls and close the press.  Let cook for about 45 seconds or until very lightly golden brown.  The first couple of cookies are testers so you can try to get the right timing for the rest of the batch.  Open the press and remove delicately with a fork.  Let the cookie cool completely on a flat plate.  Continue until all the dough is gone.

These can be delicate so layer in the chilled filling carefully.  And if they break, who cares!  It still tastes delicious and who says a dessert can't be rustic.  :)  Serve immediately.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dishcrawl Battledish

I am super excited and still in shock to have been invited to be a guest judge for the International Battledish Culinary Competition in Seattle this Oct 5th hosted by Dishcrawl!  This is going to be a fun and entertainingly tasty event, so I encourage all my Seattle friends to grab a ticket here, taste some incredible food and drinks from the 6 talented competing chefs and cast your vote for who you want the next Battledish Champion to be.

Thank you dishcrawl for this amazing opportunity.  I can't wait to be apart of your fabulous food community and help crown a winner!  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gluten Free Meatball Burgers on Garlic Toasted Buns

Just as the scorching sun was setting last Labor Day Monday, I threw some patties on the grill.  These aren't just any burgers... but Italian inspired Meatball Burgers!  And just like the typical meatball sandwich, these suckers are essentially the same, but in burger form, of course.  Not only are they easier to eat and slightly smaller in portion, but you don't have to worry about a meatball escaping onto the floor or worse... your lap!

They're moist due to having the same ingredients as a meatball, just a tad messy from the tangy marinara sauce and the best part.... served on a garlic toasted bun, which bumps them up a whole other level.

I have to admit, eating homemade burgers as a kid was never too exciting.  Sorry, Mom!  Plain buns, plain beef with a few sprinkles of seasoning, ketchup, lettuce and tomato.  It was too fast, too simple and the taste reflected just that.  Thankfully, she's gotten a bit fancier since then with her gourmet toppings.  :)  But these Meatball Burgers are worth the extra 20 mins to make and taste like a true restaurant burger that are a bit healthier than the one you'll order when you're out but still bursting with rich flavor.  And your guests will never know they're gluten free.

Serves 4 - 6
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 10 mins

What you'll need: 

1 slice gluten free bread (I used Udi's whole grain) cut in 1/2 inch cubes
2 - 3 tbsp low fat milk
1 lb ground beef sirloin (I used 93% lean)
1/4 yellow onion (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup gluten free Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
lite provolone cheese (sliced)
marinara sauce

Garlic Toasted Buns:

gluten free hamburger buns (I used Udi's whole grain)
4 tbsp lite butter (room temperature)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
sprinkle smoked paprika 

Prep the bar-b.  Get your buns ready first.  In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic and cheese.  Spread both the top and bottom of the bun with this mixture and then sprinkle on the smoked paprika.  Set aside.  

In a small bowl, combine the milk and cubed bread and let the bread completely soak up the milk and break up, about 5 minutes.  In a medium size bowl combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, soaked bread, oregano, basil and pepper until all is incorporated.

Mold the meat into about 2 inch balls.  Then press down the balls to create flat burger patties, about a 1/2 inch thick.  Throw on the grill over medium flame.  Cook each side about 5 mins.  Don't over cook!    These are thin patties and can dry out quickly if you forget.  Keep an eye out.  After you flip, top the cooked side with a slice of provolone cheese.

Throw on the buns (face down) the same time as the patties.  Let toast until golden brown, about 5 mins.  

Heat up some marinara sauce in a small sauce pan over low heat, about 5 mins.

Assemble your meatball burger - bottom bun, a ladle full of marinara sauce, patty (with cheese) and top bun.  "Ciao" down!  :)