Anyone who knows me and knows a smidgeon about living gluten-free would understand my undying love for a certain chain of casual dining, quality-food Chinese restaurants. Needless to say, though I had been there once before my diet switch, it was the first on my list after I cut gluten out of my life. There is such a detailed routine to their gluten-free items, menu, preparation, and presentation that it takes much of the restaurant stress out of dining-out. Before and after losing the gluten, I ordered the Spicy Chicken dish on the menu. I’m a sucker for General Tso’s chicken and this fruity take was my instant favorite.
So it is not so surprising that I soon went looking for a recipe for recreating my favorite dish. I found countless recipes and knock-offs, but this one looked the most likely. Not too mention, I kept finding this recipe over and over again. That’s usually a pretty good sign. I also liked that I would not have to ‘use a flour mix’. Instead of breading the chicken in flour, this only coats them with cornstarch. That makes the end result very similar to the popular restuarant’s chicken. As mentioned, I found this recipe several different times. I, personally, followed it on Meemo’s Kitchen, the first time I tested the recipe, but, since then, her blog has been taken off line.
Can anyone guess the “secret ingredient”? I never would have. It wasn’t until I saw this fruity addition that I actually recognized the sweet flavor in the sauce…But, with further adieu:
Restaurant-Style Asian Spicy Chicken (P.F. Chang’s Knock-Off)
·2 tsp oil (canola, vegetable, or coconut)
·1½ Tbsp garlic, minced
·3 green onions, sliced
·1 c. pineapple juice
·1 Tbsp sriracha chili sauce
-1 Tbsp sweet-chili or garlic-chili sauce
·2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
·4 tsp white sugar
·1 tsp tamari
·2 Tbsp water
·1 tsp cornstarch
·2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
·⅓ cup cornstarch
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic and onion for a few seconds, until fragrant, then add pineapple juice, sriracha sauce, sweet chili sauce, vinegar, sugar, and tamari.
Whisk 1 teaspoon cornstarch intp 2 tablespoons water and add it to the other sauce ingredients in the pan. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer on medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, or until beginning to thicken. Remove from heat.
In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1/4 cup oil in the pan over medium heat. Toss chicken pieces with cornstarch in a bowl until all pieces are evenly coated. Sauté chicken in the oil, flipping every few minutes until all sides are light brown. Do not overcrowd the pan. Remove chicken to a plate and drain excess oil with paper towels. OR place chicken pieces on a baking pan, mist lightly with cooking oil spray and bake in a preheated 425 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes, until browned and cooked through. Allow chicken to cool slightly, then pour chicken pieces into the saucepot. Toss with sauce until all pieces are coated.
Serve with cooked brown or white rice, a la classic restaurant presentation.
For extra vegggies and vitamins, or just to mix things up a little, try sauté-ing pineapple chunks and chopped red pepper, or even snow peas (as I did in the photo) while the chicken is baking/frying, and adding the vegetables to the sauce when mixing in the chicken.
Ahhh, pie. One of the glorious inventions of mankind. I’m suspecting more and more (with each pie made) that I am part of the group who believes pie is better than cake. Cupcakes? Nah. Mini pies. Or tarts! (Tarts count, right?) Birthday cake? Birthday pie. At this rate, I might be asking for pie at my wedding. Its just so good! And lucky for everyone, especially beginning gluten-free bakers, I’ve found pie to be one of the easier gluten-free items to make. My mother has said she prefer my gluten-less pie crusts to normal crusts.
|Gluten-free Peach-Berry Pie|
Think about it. What are the big worries about making pie crust? 1) Warm hands. Well, gluten-free crust can’t solve that, but a few rinses under cold water and breaks with an ice-pack can. 2) Light, flaky crust. All of this hubbub about cold is to ensure that the butter stays cools and doesn’t melt. Because in wheat-filled pie crusts, butter is the big solution to making a flaky crust. But without the wheat and without the gluten, we G.F. bakers have to turn to the multitude of gluten-free flours and starches out there. And starches are the key! In fact, this pie crust is made entirely out of starches which makes for a wonderfully crispy, flaky crust. (Just don’t throw away the cold butter because of it). And finally (3) over-rolling the dough. Over-rolling is always a worry when rolling out wheat-filled pastry dough and cookies. For the same reason that kneading is good for bread: kneading and rolling activate the gluten. And gluten makes for tough, chewy baked goods. Awesome for bread, not as great for pie crust. But our wonderful gluten-free dough doesn’t have that problem. Roll and reroll if you need to (just keep the dough cold)!
|Gluten-free Bourbon Apple Pie|
Pie is wonderfully versatile, and pie crust even more so. In addition to all of the fruit and pudding fillings, a pre-baked shell could work in a pinch for cheesecake crust. I’ve used this recipe for quiches, for tarts, turnovers, cinnamon twists, and filo-type cups, even baked up in mini discs to top like a pizza. This recipe is adapted from the marvelous Bette Hagman’s Dream Pastry Crust. It is easily doubled or tripled, but the recipe below makes enough for a two 9″ pie crusts (one bottom, one top or two untopped filled pies)
|Unbaked Gluten-free Pie Crust|
Gluten-Free Pie Crust:
- -1 cup sweet rice flour (not rice flour. This is a starch and sometimes called Mochiko Rice Flour or Glutinous Rice Flour. Look in the Asian section of your supermarket)
- -1/2 cup tapioca starch
- -1/2 cup cornstarch
- -1/4 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
- -1 rounded tsp xanthan gum
- -1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 c. ice water
- -1/2 cup butter
- -1/2 cup butter flavored crisco/vegetable shortening
- -1 egg, cold
- -1 Tbsp. GF vinegar (I’ve heard you can sub an equal amount of lemon juice, but I can’t vouch for those results)
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk until well combined. Add small cubes of butter and margarine and cut into flours with two knives or a pastry cutter. Or, go with Shauna’s awesome idea and grate the stick of frozen butter into your flours. Sadly, this doesn’t work quite as well with the Crisco. The end result should have butter bits about the size of peas, or a tad smaller, but should be lumpier than cornmeal. Lightly beat together the egg, water, and vinegar. Add to mixture and mix with a fork or your (cold) hands until a dough forms. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 60 minutes, up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 425 degree Fahrenheit (for an pre-baked shell) or according to your filled pie’s recipe’s directions. Remove dough from fridge, allow to rest for 10 minutes. Divide in half and roll out one half into a disk about 1/8″-1/4″ thick. Press into pie pan. For pre-baked crust prick with fork and bake for 10-12 minutes until pie begins to brown. Or use pie weights. Follow your filled pie’s recipe’s directions for baking your filled pie.
|Gluten Free Cherry & Blueberry Mini Pies|