Hey there, long time, no see!
This summer was, as always, hectic. Camp came and went, but I had the most incredible team this year. I lost P, the camp guru, who had been returning from the West coast for camp for the last few years. It was only a matter of time, of course. That was a little intimidating, since I had only joined this age group last year, and I knew the only other returning staff for my age group were two (albeit, phenomenal) interns from last summer. But, I had an amazing new co-teacher and all of the newcomers to our group (whether new to camp or just our age group) really came together to create a well-oiled machine. Camp was a breeze, and I can’t thank my team enough for making it that way!
I am so grateful that camp was smooth, since this was a pretty big summer in other aspects of my life. I am starting classes for my graduate degree in two weeks. Acceptance was the easy part. I spent the summer coordinating classes with my work schedule and jumping through hoops for things like parking and tuition (since I am employee of the university, it adds a few more details to organize–like securing parking passes that are eligible for my campus where I work as well as the campus where I have my classes). I also lose my mother’s insurance coverage at the end of this month, so I’m working out setting up my own through my employer. My old insurance is proving less than helpful with that switch. I have some very firm phone calls to make, now that I am back from vacation.
Camp ended last Sunday, and I ran away to Cape Cod and the beach on Tuesday. I need to go to the ocean at least once each summer, and seeing my family was the perfect way to wind down after camp. M is in Las Vegas for a bachelor party (truly not a worrying as that sounds), so it was nice to get my own vacation while he was gone. As well as seeing family, I made it to the beach, ate some seafood, went to my favorite brunch place, and even had time to gather some family history materials. After my grandmother passed away in October, my father has been slowly going through all of the paperwork in the house. He’s managed to find plenty of pictures and several different historical documents for his side of the family. When I was deep into my heritage research, I was able to follow my mother’s line–full of odd surnames and unusual country origins like Holland and Norway–back for many generations. My father’s family line, on the other hand, is almost entirely English and Irish and full of Johns, Elizabeths, Edwards, and Thomas’s. And my surname is exceedingly common in England. I didn’t have much more information beyond names and potential birthplaces. By the time I reached my great-grandparents, I was pretty stuck. Among the paperwork was a family tree diagram for my grandfather’s and my grandmother’s sides, so I am hoping to make some more headway soon!
Now I am back home, and M will be back late Sunday. I am trying to get back into the groove of life post-camp. New expenses are coming new month–parking passes, insurance, car payments for M’s new car. It is going to take some careful budgeting on our part, but that is of another post. I was able to make it back home to get to our farmer’s market today. We have several new vendors this year, including a seafood stall. Much of their meat is precooked, understandably so, in a Saturday-only, tent-based market. But the shining star of the stall is their smoked salmon. It is amazing! We buy some whenever the stall is at the market, and more than once I’ve been picking up the last of their stock well before 9:30am! A few weeks ago, Shauna mentioned making smoked salmon salad with capers and salmon salad has been bouncing around my brain ever since. This fantastic smoked salmon, of course, would make the perfect starring ingredient. This salad was very simple, in order to really showcase the beautifully smoked filets. A half-pound of salmon was enough for M and I to eat for two meals–first with some hearty sides for dinner and then packed into avocados for lunch the next day. That meal was one of my favorites to emerge from my lunchbox this camp season. I imagine this salad would be best with a filet-style smoked fish, rather than the thin, soft slices of smoked salmon packaged in the grocery store. A filet-style develops the thicker outside that provides some texture to the salad.
Smoked Salmon Salad
Serves: 2-4 | Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: N/A
- 1/2 lb. smoked salmon filets
- 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
- 2 green onions
- 1 Tbsp. capers, drained
- 2 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- salt & pepper
- To serve: avocados, toast points, or greens of your choice
Chop the green onions, white and green parts, finely. Flake the salmon into a bowl and add all remaining ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste (just a pinch or two). Mix gently to keep the salmon intact. Serve with greens and/or toast or spoon into halved avocados.
I made this recipe ages ago–I thought I had already shared it. Imagine my surprise when I found the photos in the “Need to Be Posted” pile. Of course, there are a lot of foods that I’ve missed, since going gluten-free. What is more disappointing is that I had only recently added so many new foods to my “acceptable” category. Hello, my name is Kaity, and I was a picky eater up until…college. As I have mentioned, being responsible for my own food choices actually forced me to try many new things. Less than 3 years later, I was undergoing a complete overhaul of my eating habits in order to remove gluten from my diet. Many new foods that I had only just come to love were suddenly off my plate–unless I could recreate or find them again, gluten-free. Fish and chips was one of those foods. I went to elementary school with a tuna salad sandwich in my lunch box most days, but, excluding a brief foray into fish sticks during toddler-hood, that was my extent of seafood. Sometime in high school, finally, I tried shrimp and loved it. But it would be several more years until I could actually count fish among the foods I enjoyed. In fact, I’m still working on it today–some dishes I love and some fish dishes are still pretty gross. However, tender white fish wrapped in crispy fried breading? That is definitely, permanently on the Delicious List. I only had fish and chips once, maybe twice before going gluten-free. It wasn’t until Trader Joe’s started selling GF fried fish that I had the dish again. And then, though TJ’s and other brands are producing delicious frozen food, it still wasn’t the “real deal”. M, being stereotypically British, grew up on fish and chips. Making our own at home has come up in conversation many times over.
When the boys brought home beautiful striper (this fish really shifted my tastes solidly into the “pro-seafood” side of things) and then my mother gave us her old electric deep fryer, it seemed like it was time to do my research. I read over countless recipes, both gluten-full and gluten-free, for fish and chips. In the end, classic seemed to be the way to go. I still wanted a few little surprises, so I knew adding spices and beer to the batter was the way to do it! I had a little extra batter, so I sliced up an onion and made some onion rings as well. Given my fear of deep frying, the whole process was pretty easy. It does help that my inherited deep fryer is a neat and tidy little electric machine, with a latch top. It makes me feel much more safe!
Gluten-Free Fish & Chips (and Onion Rings)
Adapted from this recipe.
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes
For the batter:
- 2 c. white rice flour, divided
- 1/2 c. tapioca starch
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. ground garlic
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1 lg. egg
- 1 12 oz bottle of GF beer (I used New Planet)
- 1/2 tsp. hot sauce
- 1 1/2 lb. cod, haddock, or striper fillets
For the chips & rings
- 3 lg. potatoes
- 1 lg. sweet onion
- 1/2 c. buttermilk
- Vegetable oil or shortening (crisco), for frying
Use amount of oil appropriate to your deep fryer and set it to heat to 325 degrees F. If using a pan on the stove, fill a large, heavy-bottomedpot with 4-5 inches of oil. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot, making sure the tip of thermometer is in the oil, yet not touching the bottom of the pot. Heat the oil to 325 degrees F.
Slice the onion into 1/2 inch thick slices. Gently separate into individual rings. Toss with buttermilk, allow to soak during the remainder of your prep. Scrub and peel the potatoes into long, thick fries. (Think ‘steak fries’.) Pat completely dry with paper towels. Drop the fries into the fry basket (or use a spider to gently lower into pot). Allow to cook at 325 degrees for 3 minutes. Pull fries out of oil, allow to drain, and set aside on parchment paper.
Heat the oil up to 375 degrees F. Spread 1/2 c. of white rice flour on a large plate. Mix remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix egg, beer, and hot sauce, then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and whisk until smooth. Cut fish fillets into 2-3 pieces. Dredge fish in flour, taking care to make sure all sides are coated. Shake of excess. Divide fries and fish into 2-3 batches. Place fries into bottom of fry basket. Dip fish in batter one piece at a time. Place fish on top of fries in fry basket. Lower into hot oil for 4-5 minutes until crispy and golden. Drain on paper towels, season with salt while still warm. Place fries and fish on a parchment lined baking sheet in a oven set to “warm” (or lowest setting). Repeat the layering and cooking procedure with remaining batches of fries and fish, adding all to the oven to keep warm. Make sure the oil temperature stay constant.
Drain buttermilk from onions. Dredge onions in remaining flour, dip in remaining batter and drop in small batches into fry basket. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt. Serve the fish, chips, and onion rings with lemon, dill, tartar sauce, and vinegar*.
*Malt vinegar is not gluten free. We liked rice vinegar on this.
I feel like its been ages since I’ve posted. I’m not sure what it is about the last ten days that seem to be double…maybe because I have so many dishes to share! I’vr been on a bit of a creative kick lately, trying all sorts of new dishes for dinner. A few are old familiar favorites that I haven’t gotten around to sharing on here yet, while others are some new, “scary” recipes. In fact, I have a quick and simple fajita recipe and a risotto recipe in the line-up, but last night I made this shrimp scampi and it was just too good to wait. We’ve had a bag of raw shrimp in the freezer for a couple of weeks and I’ve been waffling about how I was going to use them. Mostly due to the pictures I’ve seen on Pinterest, I had narrowed it down to a sweet-and-tangy skewered option or a more classic butter-based sauce. Since skewers = grill in my mind and it has been absurdly cold the past few weeks: the grill was out. Plus, I have some lemons to use up. I thought that I would combine the inspiration from a few different recipes: again and again things like white wine, butter, lemon, and garlic were added to shrimp, though (purely happenstance) never all of them together. I figured if they all were paired with shrimp one way or another, they would all be good together.
And they were. Because white wine+butter+lemon+garlic+shrimp=shrimp scampi in it’s most basic sense. Yes, I made a classic recipe without quite knowing it. Laugh away. I did! I thought I was riffing on scampi–some new dish that was close but just different enough. Instead, I recreated the basic idea perfectly. I’m sure I’ve come across recipes for shrimp scampi before, and that was part of the reason those ingredient rang as “right” in my brain. I may have even tasted it, but, truth be told, my preference for shrimp (beyond cold and covered in cocktail sauce) only started to grow shortly before I stopped eating gluten. I’m not sure if I have ever had scampi tossed with pasta. I hardly thought of that option when I was prepping for dinner. I was bright lemon, zesty garlic, and glorious butter in a sauce that would coat the shrimp, pooling at the bottom of the bowl to be sopped up with french bread. And that is exactly what I did.
I think the sauce would have been delicious on my own Gluten-Free French Bread, but I didn’t have the time after work to commit to the hour-long bake time. I wanted shrimp and I wanted it fast. I grabbed Against the Grain baguettes, my favorite store-bought gluten-free baked good. I knew that the decadent baguettes, made from tapioca starch, cheese, and eggs would be a perfect pairing with the butter sauce. The insides of these baguettes remind me of popovers–soft, springy, and rich. They were perfect! I made a quick salad from a lettuce mix (spinach, radicchio, chard, and romaine) with a hefty portion of kale, topped with red onion, tomato, cucumber, carrots, and red pepper and mixed together a quick pepper-parmesan dressing to top the hearty greens. I’ll post the salad dressing soon, it was delicious and quick and very easy to halve or double depending on how many you are serving.
But onto the main event! I thawed the shrimp completely while I prepped the salad and the dressing. Then I tossed the baguette in the oven to warm up as I turned on the stove to medium-high under a large saucepan. I added about a teaspoon of olive oil, just enough to coat the pan and let that heat before I added the shrimp in a single layer. Be careful not to crowd the pan too much. I had a very large pan and just managed to fit my shrimp in with a sliver of space between them. Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes, until the downward side turns pink and the color begins to creep around the tail onto the raw side facing up. Flip the shrimp and cook for another 2 minutes, until the shrimp are firm and completely pink. A bit of color off the pan is fine, but keep the cooking time short, so they don’t get rubbery.
Remove the cooked shrimp from the pan and add the lemon slices. The juice will begin to sizzle. Let the lemons cook for about 30 seconds, until they are fragrant. Add the white wine to the pan and scrape the bottom with your spatula to help deglaze and get all of the tasty bits off the pan and into your sauce. Be gentle with the lemons as you scrape the pan. Once the wine has settled (it should bubble pretty furiously when you first add it to the pan), add your butter, olive oil, and garlic, stirring gently until the butter melts. Cook for one minute more, then add your shrimp back in. Stir the shrimp to coat completely, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then remove the pan from the heat. I pour all of the shrimp into one large bowl, or you can portion them onto plates. Just make sure that each individual gets a healthy dollop of the remaining scampi sauce. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately, with lots of bread!
Skillet Shrimp Scampi
Serves 4. Prep time: 5 minutes / Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 1/2 lb jumbo uncooked shrimp, peeled & deveined
- 1 lg lemon, sliced into 1/4 in slices
- 3 cloves garlic, minced into a fine paste
- 1/4 c. white wine
- 1/4 c. butter
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
- chopped parsley
Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook about 2-3 minutes, until the pan side turns pink. Flip shrimp and cook for another two minutes, until firm and completely pink all the way through. Remove shrimp from pan. Add lemon slices and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add white wine to deglaze, stirring and scraping the pan. Add butter, garlic, and olive oil, mixing thoroughly. Cook the sauce for one minute more, then add shrimp back into pan. Toss to coat in sauce. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley. Serve immediately.