Oriental Spare Ribs

(Dairy free, soy free, gluten free, sugar free)

One of my favorite foods – spare ribs! Probably because all summer my father grew the pigs for our winter table and the treat was always the ribs. I had them so rarely growing up, just that one time every year, so now that I’m grown I cook them as often as I possibly can. I had to give up Chinese style ribs when I developed my soy allergy but with the soy sauce substitute (see sauces), I’m now experimenting with some of my favorite Chinese dishes like ribs. The recipe is very simple to make and prep time is short but cooking time is longer to get that bone tender rib that we all love.

You’ll need for 2 servings, depending on how many ribs you can eat!:

1 full rack of ribs (I prefer the St. Louis style, more meat, less bone)

6 tablespoons chicken stock

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (or use real soy sauce if it doesn’t bother you)

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

6 tablespoons date syrup (or agave, coconut nectar, etc.)

1 teaspoon molasses

Cut the ribs into individual sections. If you have a cleaver, you can chop them into 3 pieces for each rib but this isn’t necessary. Mix the liquid ingredients together.

If you have a crock pot, you can cook them on high for 2-4 hours. Put the ribs in the pot then cover with the sauce. If you don’t, like me, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, spray your casserole or oven safe dish with olive oil, add the ribs and the sauce. Use a covered dish so that the sauce doesn’t all boil away during cooking. I turned them every 20 minutes since my dish didn’t allow them to all be completely covered. Cook in the oven 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Once cooked, pour the remaining liquid into a saucepan and boil down until syrupy. Pour over the ribs to serve. At this point, you can top them with sesame seeds or chopped green onions.

HINT: Ribs can be very fatty. I cooked mine, poured off the liquid and then refrigerated them separately overnight. The next day, dinner prep was simple. I heated the ribs in a low oven while I removed most of the fat from the sauce and then boiled it down. I then poured it over the ribs, and heated them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Moraccan Chicken

With all my food allergies, I eat a lot of chicken so I’m always on the lookout for new, interesting chicken dishes. I don’t know how many of you subscribe to the magazine “Simply Gluten Free” but I’ve been a subscriber since their very early days when they were titled “Cooking Without.”

This last issue had a recipe for easy Moraccan Chicken which I thought sounded interested and it turns out it is very delicious. I’ve changed the recipe slightly to meet my tastes and decided to share it with you. Several cautions – cook in a slow cooker if you want but if you do it in the oven like me, be sure to cook at 350 degrees. I screwed up this time and used 375 and even with watching it closely and cooking no more than 1 hour, the top still scorched. So in the oven, be sure to cook at no higher than 350. It should only take 3/4 to 1 hour to bake.

You’ll need:

4 chicken thighs (I tried using a breast and it was tough)

1 cup salsa – use whatever salsa your family prefers, mild, medium, hot or spicy, doesn’t matter

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon salt

Spray a 9×9″ pan with cooking spray. Mix the salsa, honey and spices together (I use a small whisk) and put a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the thighs on top and then spread the remaining salsa mix on each thigh. Bake.

It’s that easy! You can serve it with brown rice, mashed potatoes or celery root.

Orange Chicken (dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free, sugar free)

I love Chinese food but since I’m allergic to soy I don’t get it very often. There’s a small Chinese restaurant in central New Hampshire that I visited frequently when I was there last year where they were willing to cook meals for me without any soybean oil or soy sauce. My selection was, of course, limited due to my other allergies but it made me hungry for more.

I recently found a recipe for Orange Chicken and decided I could adapt it if only I could find a substitute for soy sauce, such a staple in Chinese food. So, for those of you who can’t use soy, like me, I’ve got an alternative here for that as well. The recipe is a little complex but if you follow it step by step, its easy enough to make a great dish.

The soy substitute works well in this recipe and I’ll probably try it out on different dishes in the future. Make it ahead. It will freeze which is nice since most recipes call for only a little soy sauce at a time.

In a small saucepan mix:

1 1/2 cups bone broth – I used mushroom but beef would also work

3 teaspoons vinegar

1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses

2 teaspoons date sugar (or date syrup)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by half. Cool.

For the orange chicken, to serve four:

3/4 chicken broth

Zest and juice of 2 oranges

1/4 teaspoon monk fruit powder

6 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce substitute

2 teaspoons diced garlic

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle (use more if you like it hot)

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

5 teaspoons corn starch (if like me, you have trouble with too much corn, you can use arrowroot, tapioca or cassava here as well) mixed into 2 tablespoons water to make slurry

1 cup arrowroot, tapioca, or cassava flour

1 tablespoon aguafava powder mixed into 1/2 cool water (or you can use 3 egg whites)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups olive oil (or any oil you can use)

First, whisk the broth, grated orange zest and juice, the monk fruit powder, vinegar, soy sauce substitute, garlic, ginger, and chipotle in a large saucepan until thoroughly mixed. Transfer 3/4 of the mixture to a large zip-lock bag, add chicken, and toss to coat. Get the air out of the bag by sealing it most of the way and then pressing the bag. Finish sealing bag and refrigerate for at l hour.

While the chicken marinates, bring to a boil the rest of the sauce. When it comes to a boil, whisk into the sauce and continue whisking until the sauce is clear and thick. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven heat the oil to 350 degrees.

Beat the aguafava (or egg whites) until soft peaks, add cream of tartar.

Combine the arrowroot with the baking soda, salt and pepper in a large zip-lock bag.

Set up 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or paper towels on the bottom of the tray and put a cooling rack on top of the paper in one of the baking sheets. Drain the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. In parts, don’t try to do all the chicken at once, coat it with the beaten aguafava (or egg whites), then toss into the bag of flour and shake to coat. Remove chicken from the bag shaking off any excess flour. Place the chicken on the baking sheet without the rack.

Add the floured chicken one piece at a time to the oil and fry until golden brown 3-5 minutes, turning chicken as needed. You should be able to fry 1/3 to 1/2 of the chicken at a time. Transfer to the wire rack. Be sure to bring the oil back to 350 degrees between each batch of chicken.

Reheat sauce until simmering. Add chicken and serve immediately over rice. Some cut scallions add to the dish. You can also add to the sauce some sautéed onion and celery, water chestnuts, broccoli, bok choy, etc.

Honey Mustard Pork Chops (Dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free)

My mother used to make pork chops covered with onion-soup mix and cream of mushroom soup.  I loved those pork chops and have been trying for years to find a recipe that I could eat that would produce such juicy, succulent pork chops.  And I think I’ve finally found one!  This recipe adds some spice (I like to use spicy brown mustard) along with a slight sweetness to a juicy chop.  I serve it with some of my celery root and parsnip mash that’s been reheated in a skilled until crispy brown.

This recipe is for 2 chops but can easily be doubled or tripled depending on how many chops are needed.

In a small bowl mix:

  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  •  2 tablespoons honey (I like to use raw organic honey)
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil

Grease a 6×9″ baking dish.  Trim excess fat from the pork chops.  Add the chops and spread with half the honey mustard mixture.  Turn over the chops and spread with the remaining mixture.  Marinate at least a half hour but I’ve left them as long as overnight.  The vinegar in the mustard will tenderize the pork so the longer you let them marinate the better.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the chops for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your pork chops and then remove and turn the chops over.  Be sure to test with your finger or a spoon to determine if the chops are cooked (a done chop with have no give when pushed with a spoon or finger).  If my chops are almost done after turning over, I put them under the broiler to brown the top for 3-5 minutes.    A 1-bone chop takes roughly 20 minutes total.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes to rest before serving.

Fish and Rice Stirfry (Dairy-free, Soy-free, Gluten-free)

I’m always looking for new ways to use fish.  Fish is one of those proteins that I love to eat but don’t often like to cook.  This is a quick recipe that really highlights flavor.  Its well balanced nutritionally, very filling, and can be adjusted to serve the tastes of anyone.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  •  6-8 ounces white fish, diced
  •  1/2 cup diced onion
  •  1/2 cup shredded carrots
  •  1/2 cup cooked peas
  •  1/2 cup diced celery
  •  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  •  1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 3 tablespoons fresh parsley)
  •  Scallions, cherry tomatoes, etc. for garnish
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
  •  Juice of a half lemon

In a large hot skillet, add the olive oil, onions, carrots, and celery.  Saute over medium heat until celery and carrots are softened.  Add the fish and cook thoroughly.  Add the rice, quinoa, peas, and herbs.*  Stir to combine.  Heat through, spritz with the lemon juice and serve with whatever garnishes you like.  This time of year, my first garnish is always tomatoes although this year, without my husband’s garden, I’ve had to find fresh tomatoes in the markets.

*Other additions, depending on your tastes, could be some diced peppers, sweet or hot; some hot sauce or chili oil; Old Bay seasoning or other herbs; and perhaps, since I’m now living in Minnesota instead of New Hampshire where this seems to be like seafood back east, some wild rice instead of the brown rice and/or quinoa.

Hash (dairy-free, gluten-free)

Anytime we had left over meat of any kind, my mother or I made hash from it.  My favorite is probably ham while my mother really liked red flannel hash made with corned beef.  It can be served with gravy, ketchup, horseradish sauce, or even plain with a poached or fried egg on top.  The vegetables added can also vary depending on taste and what’s in the frig or freezer.  I like to use sweet potato but again, any potato will work just fine.  It could also be made with just vegetables for a vegan hash.  In my eyes, any way one makes a hash is delicious with the crispy potato, tender meat and tasty vegetables.  The English version of Chinese stir fry!

You’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1/2 diced celery
  • 1 cup diced and cooked potato
  • 2 cups diced and cooked meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, ham, tofu, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas
  • 1/2 cup cooked carrots

In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the onion and celery until softened.  Add the potato and cook until potatoes are browned.  Add the meat and vegetables and stir well.  Cook until heated through.  Add salt, pepper, and herbs to taste.  I used my salt-free mixed herbs.  Top with gravy, ketchup, etc. or serve plain.  My mother always fried eggs to go on top of her hashes but for those of us allergic to eggs, that’s not an option.

Baked Chicken Breasts (dairy-free, gluten-free)

I eat a lot of chicken since I’m allergic to anything that comes from a cow as well as most other red meats.  So I’m always trying out new chicken recipes and this is an old recipe I found while digging around for blog posts in my old cookbooks and files.  It originally used almond flour and nut butter but I’ve updated it and removed those ingredients and added several healthier options.  It can be served with some cranberry sauce (see Cranberry Compote).  Be careful with the baking times — its a very moist breast due to the marinade but will dry out around the edges if cooked too long.  Its difficult to tell when its cooked just by looking at this chicken; take it out of the oven and check it for firmness to be sure its cooked.  Depending on how thin the breasts are pounded will vary the cooking time.  Mine were around a 1/2 inch and I cooked them 35 minutes which turned out to be about 5 minutes too long since they were a little dry around the edges.

This recipe serves 4 using two whole (versus half) chicken breasts.  Place a breast in a gallon storage bag.  With either a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer (flat edged), pound out breast until its about a half inch thick.  Repeat for the second breast.

Spray a shallow 10″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Add the flattened breasts.  In a small bowl mix:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Pour over chicken breasts.  Turn over the breasts several times to be sure that all parts of the breasts have some marinade on them.  Cover with plastic wrap and marinade for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a second shallow dish (like a large pie plate), combine:

  • 1/4 cup ground flax/hemp mix
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Stir to combine.  Press a chicken breast into the mixture to cover.  Turn it over to coat the other side and don’t forget the edges.  Repeat with the second breast.  Place in a greased baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes depending on thickness (for 1/2 inch breasts; for thicker breasts increase slightly).  Serve plain or with cranberry sauce.  I paired mine with the celery root and parsnip mash (see Side Dishes) which is now one of my favorite sides — can’t tell you the last time I ate a potato!

Chard Wrap (dairy-free, gluten-free)

A friend challenged me last week to find a way to produce a wrap for her lunch that didn’t use a tortilla. Of course, my first thought was a lettuce wrap that I’ve been making for years.  But she wanted something new and different.  The swiss chard can be prepared ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for several days.  

Put a large (dutch oven type) pot on the stove about half full of water.  Bring to a bowl.  Meanwhile, clean:

  • 1 bunch of swiss chard (green or rainbow) – collard greens could also be used

Cut out the toughest parts of the stems which will leave a V-shaped leaf.  When the water comes to a bowl, place the chard leaves in the water for 60 seconds (I did this individually so that they wouldn’t break and would cook evenly but that’s not completely necessary; the last few I did altogether and they were fine).

Remove and place in a bowl of cold water for just a few minutes.  Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.  

To make a wrap, cut the Vs into two pieces.  Stagger several pieces (4-5) on top of one another to strengthen the wrap and make a solid wrapper.  Spread with honey mustard sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw honey

Whisk until blended.  Place the wrap meats and tomato across and the sprouts and avocado lengthwise so that there’s some of each in every bite.  I used:

  • 2 slices organic, low sodium turkey breast
  • 2 slices organic honey baked ham
  • 2 slices non-dairy provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 4 slices of tomato
  • 1/2 a medium avocado sliced

Fold in the longer edges of the chard wrap (if possible) and then fold the shorter ends to each other.  Cut in half and serve.  

Alternatives:  

  • Make this entirely with vegetables using sprouts, shredded lettuces, wedges of carrot, celery, or cucumber laid in the short direction, add cheese if desired

Turkey Tetrazzini (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

After Thanksgiving, my mother would always make turkey tetrazzini.  She added, of course, cream as well as either white wine or sherry.  Since I can’t use those things, here’s my version without all that fat or any alcohol.  Feel free to use whatever pasta you have on hand.  I used a tortiglioni made from buckwheat flour that a friend recommended but I usually use spaghetti which is the more traditional pasta used in this dish.  

You’ll need:

  • 8 ounces of pasta cooked al dente
  • 2 cups of mushroom soup (see recipe under Soups and Salads or follow directions below — you will need additional ingredients to make this mushroom sauce)
  • 8 ounces of sliced or diced mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • 1 1/2 cups diced turkey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon died thyme
  • 3-4 quart baking dish
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 2-3 tablespoons avocado (or other) oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons shredded non-dairy cheese
  • cooking spray for the baking dish

If you don’t have some mushroom soup already to go, use this simple alternative:

In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil.  Add diced mushrooms, celery and mushrooms.  Cover and simmer over medium low heat about 5 minutes until vegetables are tender.  Add 3 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour (or brown rice flour) and stir to incorporate.  Cook for a minute to begin cooking the flour.  Add 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you don’t have any vegetable stock) and 1/2 cup non-dairy milk of choice (except soy which will not thicken).  Add the herbs and combine.

Combine the vegetables, pasta, sauce, and turkey in the skillet.  Pour into the baking dish.  Combine the bread crumbs and oil.  Spread the shredded cheese and then the bread crumbs over the top of the casserole and bake for approximately 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  

Shepherd’s Pie (dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

One of my mother’s old standby’s, shepherd’s pie is a definite comfort food for many New Englanders.  Warm and filling, it gives us energy and the calories we need to go out and shovel the snow or rack the leaves (which is what I spent some time doing this morning).  Here’s my take on it, feel free to use any ground meat you like, I’m limited since I’m allergic to most red meats.  Traditionally, its made with mutton or lamb but I use turkey or chicken in mine.  Serves 4.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  You’ll need:

  • 1 pound ground meat, lean
  • 10 ounce bag of mixed peas and carrots (organic if possible)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • Seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, garlic powder – about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of each)
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free flour such as brown rice or all purpose
  • 1 1/2 cups of stock (whatever you have on hand works; I used vegetable in mine)
  • 2 cups mashed potato (or as in my case, celery root and parsnip mash see recipe under side dishes)
  • 2 quart baking dish

In a steamer, steam the peas and carrots until just tender.  Put them in the baking dish.  In a skillet, heat the olive oil and add the onions and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes until tender.  Add ground meat and seasonings.  Stir as the meat cooks to crumble the meat up into small chunks.  When meat is cooked, add the flour and stir to incorporate.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes and add the stock.  Stir and cook until thickened, another 2-3 minutes.  Add to the baking dish; stir into the vegetables.  Spread the potatoes or celery root/parsnip mash on the top and bake for 20-30 minutes until heated through and bubbling.