Category Archives: shellfish free

The Absolute Best Way to Prepare Tofu

Roasted tofu cubes via Chosen Bites

Although I am not a vegetarian, over the last few years we have seriously cut down on the amount of meat we eat to less once a week. Instead, we eat a lot of vegetarian meals using other protein sources like dairy, eggs, beans, and tofu. Now, I realize tofu is an acquired taste and texture, but recently I have transformed a lot of tofu haters into tofu lovers by using this preparation method.

One of the biggest complaints I have heard about tofu is that it has a funny texture, and it tends to break apart if it’s not fried. Personally, I don’t like frying tofu (or much of anything) because it makes it less healthy, and guess what? You can get the EXACT same fried tofu texture with much less effort by baking it in the oven.

It’s simple–cut your tofu into evenly-sized cubes, place them on a greased baking sheet (with plenty of space between the cubes!), and then bake them in the oven until they are crispy and golden on the outside. You can bake them even longer so they are dry on the inside too, but I prefer to leave them somewhat creamy on the inside.

The best part about this preparation? You don’t have to press the tofu to remove excess water! I prefer the texture of extra firm tofu, but I buy firm tofu at Costco because it is ridiculously cheap. In the past I’ve had to press firm tofu to get the texture I like, but baking it in the oven evaporates the extra water so it ends up just how I like it.

Because baking it the oven crisps it up, tofu prepared this way will hold together really well in stir fries, curries, pad Thai, or any other dish you want to add it too, without having the added fat from frying, or the frustration of the tofu crumbling. Because the outside is drier, it also holds sauce much better than wet tofu.

But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

The Absolute Best Way to Prepare Tofu

Ingredients

1 block of firm or extra firm tofu

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a large baking sheet or pan (I use a 12x16 jelly roll pan).
  2. Cube the tofu into bite-sized pieces (I usually slice the tofu in half lengthwise, then into strips, then into cubes).
  3. Place the cubes on the baking sheet, leaving at least 1/4 inch of space between each cube so none of them are touching (This is critical! The cubes won't crisp up if they are too close together! I use an entire jelly roll pan for a 1 lb block of tofu).
  4. Bake at 375 for 30-50 minutes, depending on the size of your cubes. The cubes will turn golden brown and the edges will be crispy when they are done. Bake shorter or longer depending on your desired texture (I usually do 35-40 minutes--pull one out and taste it after 30 minutes to see if it's crispy enough for you, bake longer if it's not).
http://chosenbites.com/2014/05/the-absolute-best-way-to-prepare-tofu/

Soft & Chewy Dinner Rolls {GF, DF}

Soft & Chewy Rolls via Chosen Bites #glutenfree #dairyfree

I bet when you read the title of this post you thought, “nah, there is no such thing as a soft and chewy roll that’s also gluten- and dairy-free.” My friend, you would be wrong. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with flour ratios and leavening agents (like eggs, yeast, baking powder, and baking soda) and I think I have finally come up with the perfect combination that yields soft, chewy, and oh-so-fluffy rolls.

My biggest breakthrough was discovering that increasing the amount of yeast helped with the rise significantly but did not make them taste like beer bread. I also increased the amount of xanthan gum to provide more elasticity, creating more chew.

IMG_9653

I hope you like these rolls as much as I did. I may or may not have eaten two within 10 minutes of them coming out of the oven. I baked mine as separate rolls, but you could also do these pull-apart style in two 8-inch round baking pans, just increase the baking time by 8-10 minutes.

Soft & Chewy Dinner Rolls {GF, DF}

Ingredients

5 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp sugar or honey
1 1/3 cup brown rice flour
1 1/4 cups white rice flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
2 + 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1 egg yolk (for egg wash)
1/2 tsp cold water

Directions

  1. Grease 2 jelly roll pans or baking sheet (you can use parchment paper but the rolls won't brown as well).
  2. In a measuring cup or small glass bowl, stir yeast and sugar into warm water and allow to sit for 5-8 minutes until frothy.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer (or you can use elbow grease too), stir together white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt.
  4. Whisk together olive oil and 2 eggs (not the extra yolk).
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg-oil mixture. Using a dough hook, mix on a low speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides and around the bottom until the mixture is incorporated. The dough should be sticky but not wet, add a few extra Tbsp of brown rice flour if your dough is wet.
  6. Using a large (2 oz) cookie scoop (or very well oiled hands), portion the dough into 12-15 rolls, spaced about 2 inches apart on baking sheets. You want to do this pretty quickly because the dough will begin rising immediately.
  7. If you like, oil your hands and smooth out the rolls (I don't mind a rustic look so I don't do this).
  8. Cover the rolls with a thin towel and set aside to rise for 20-30 minutes or until the rolls double in size (my kitchen was very warm the last time I made these so they doubled in 20 minutes, just keep an eye on them so they don't over-rise).
  9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (if you have convection, use it!).
  10. Whisk together the egg yolk and cold water. Remove the towels and using a pastry brush, VERY gently pat the rolls with the egg wash (actually brushing will deflate them).
  11. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the rolls are a light golden brown and they sound hollow when you tap on the bottom.
  12. Remove rolls to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 3 months (toast a bit before eating for best results).
http://chosenbites.com/2014/05/dinner-rolls/

Spring Veggie Quinoa Salad {Passover Friendly}

veggie quinoa salad

I know a lot of people dread Passover because of all of the food restrictions, but for someone who is already gluten-free, my diet actually doesn’t change all that much for Passover, except I don’t eat kitniyot (rice, beans, and other legumes).

This recipe is great for any spring meal, but it is also very Passover friendly. It’s also versatile in that you can add any vegetables and herbs that are in season in your area. Some of my favorite combinations are:

  • Baby asparagus, heirloom grape tomatoes, scallions with dill
  • Red, orange, yellow, and green bell peppers with basil or mint
  • Roasted beets and butternut squash with rosemary
  • Roasted eggplant and grape tomatoes with sauted onions and scallions (pictured above)

I like to keep the dressing light and simple–just lemon juice, good quality olive oil, salt and pepper. But feel free to experiment!

This recipe will serve 4-6 as a side dish, and can easily be double or tripled but you may need more dressing.

Chag sameach (happy holidays)!

Spring Veggie Quinoa Salad {Passover Friendly}

Ingredients

1 cup of quinoa
1 + 1/4 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups of veggies of your choice
1/4 cup chopped herb of your choice
juice of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Place quinoa, water, and 1/4 tsp salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit, still covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Scoop into a bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. In the meantime, chop or roast your desired vegetables and herbs (for roasting, I recommend cubing evenly and roasted at 400 for 20-25 minutes). Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Toss quinoa with vegetables and dressing. Adjust salt and lemon juice to taste.
http://chosenbites.com/2014/04/spring-veggie-quinoa-salad-passover-friendly/

Apricot Hamentashen

Hamentashen via Chosen Bites

It’s that time of year! I love Jewish traditions that revolve around food, and Purim has some of the most fun food traditions. Hamentashen are tri-cornered cookies filled with a sweet poppy seed or prune filling (the most traditional fillings), or jam, chocolate, or even Nutella if you are adventurous. I’ve even seen some recipes floating around this year for cheesecake and salted caramel fillings!

While I do like to be adventurous sometimes, my absolute favorite way to fill hamentashen is with apricot jam (try this homemade cinnamon apricot jam!). The recipe below provides a soft and pliable dough, and I find that I get the best results (i.e. the least stick-age) by rolling out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper.

Allergy notes:

  • If you have a soy allergy, you can use a soy-free margarine, or 3/4 cup of coconut oil in place of the margarine. If you use coconut oil, the dough will be a bit oily but resist adding more flour or the dough will be too dry and crumbly to roll or shape.
  • If you can’t have rice, you can substitute millet flour, sorghum flour, or potato starch for the rice flour in this recipe but add an extra 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum.
  • You could use a very finely ground almond flour if you want grain-free hamentashen, but they will be a bit challenging to shape. I recommend cutting, filling, and shaping the hamentashen, then moving the parchment paper to a baking sheet rather than trying to move the individual hamentashen. If the dough is too crumbly to shape, try adding an extra egg.

Apricot Hamentashen

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) of margarine
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups tapioca starch/flour
1 1/4 cups sweet rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
apricot jam

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (if you have convection, use it!) and place parchment paper on three baking sheets (I find this works better than greased baking sheets).
  2. Cream margarine and sugar on high for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, allowing to combine before adding the next. Add vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, tapioca starch/flour, sweet rice flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Turn mixer to the lowest speed and add flour mixture to the wet mixture 1 cup at a time, allowing the dry ingredients to be incorporated before adding more. The dough should be soft but not sticky (you should be able to roll the dough between your palms without anything sticking to you--if it's too sticky, add 1/4 cup more sweet rice flour).
  4. Place about 1/4 of the dough on a piece of parchment paper on the counter (keep the rest of the dough covered with a damp towel). Cover with a second piece of parchment paper and roll with a rolling pin until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick.
  5. Using a small dinner glass, a wide-mouth pint mason jar, or any glass about 3 inches in diameter, cut the dough into circles (if the dough is sticking to the glass, try oiling and/or flouring the rim). Fill circles with 1/2 tsp of apricot jam, pinch the corners into a triangle, and carefully move to the prepared baking sheets. These won't rise or spread much so you can put up to 12 on each baking sheet.
  6. Gather up leftover dough, add more dough as necessary, and repeat rolling, filling, and pinching until you have used all of the dough.
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in an air-tight container on the counter for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
http://chosenbites.com/2014/03/apricot-hamentashen/