Saturday, December 15, 2007

Potluck Christmas Parties, Cherry Cobbler

Remember I said last time that the corollary to check every label, every time, is if there is no label, you can't eat it? Nothing has a label at a potluck. Eventually you get used to not being able to partake of much at these parties. I went to one this week, and, besides a piece of the appetiser cheesecake I had brought, I ate raw vegetables. Nothing was labeled; they had even thrown out the bags to the chips. But I knew this would probably be the case, and had eaten a ham sandwich before I went.

I have another potluck this week. I will bring my own lunch again, and my contribution will be cherry cobbler from my mom's recipe. It's really more of a cherry square, but are ya gonna argue with my mom?

Cherry Cobbler

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (extra flour is for kneading)
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 lb cold butter (2 sticks)
2 eggs
2 cans cherry pie filling * [see note added below]

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
2.) Stir together 3 cups of flour, the baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients like you are making pie dough. Stir in the eggs. Reserve 3/4 cup of these crumbs for the topping.
3.) Knead the rest of the mixture well, using as much of the rest of the flour as you need. Spread into an 11"x15" jellyroll pan. Pat down. Pour the 2 cans of cherry pie filling over the dough, and spread evenly. Sprinkle with topping.
4.) Bake at 400 degrees (F) for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 325 degrees (F) and bake for an additional 45 minutes.

My variation: Replace up to 1 cup of the flour with ground almonds, and add 1/2 tsp almond extract to the dough.

I like the variation better, but it makes my brother complain, "Yeah, it's good, but it doesn't taste like mom's."

* note added 31 May 09: I made this yesterday for an office picnic, and I had to use 2 cans of cherry pie filling plus a third can with just the cherried (rinsed off the "goop" using a strainer). They seem to be putting fewer and fewer cherries in the pie filling.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Soy allergies and your friends. A chicken salad recipe.

One thing I didn't expect when I became allergic to soy was that it would prove to be a test of sorts for my friends (and family, more below.) Some people I barely know go out of their way to accomodate me, and some people I didn't expect don't try at all.

For example, there was one woman I worked with, and was work-friendly with (but nothing more), who would go out of her way to check in with me before office parties so I could eat what she made. She made a killer bean salad, and one time made a special trip to the store for olive oil so I could have some. (Thanks, Peggy!)

I am visiting a highschool friend for Christmas, and I got an email this week from her cousin (!) sending me a list of ingredients for some bruschetta she is making, so I could check them out. How wonderful is that?

However, someone related to me, who shall remain nameless, used to routinely "forget" what might have soy in it, which made eating with this person a minefield.

Another relative, who shall also remain nameless, used to buy things like bagels at the bakery with no ingredients label, tell me "oh, I'm sure they're all right," then get angry when I would pass on them to be safe. (BTW, I checked on those particular bagels later and they had soy flour AND soy oil.) The rule, check every label, every time means: if there is no label, you can't eat it.

One last story. One of my friends bought Hain's Safflower Mayonnaise so I could eat something at her house, and when she tried it, she decided she liked it better than the famous brand. So now that's what she buys.

Every once in a while, having a soy allergy has a positive effect on your life--or in this case, somebody else's. (The rest of the time, you strive to make it merely neutral.)

Here's what my friend was making with the Hain's mayo:

Chicken Salad with Walnuts and Grapes

Cut-up cooked chicken
Red seedless grapes, cut in half
Walnuts, broken or coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper

Amounts are all to your taste. Some people like more mayonnaise in this salad than others. Needless to say, this tastes better with Hain's mayo than with other kinds, but you can use the other kinds if that is all you have. I recommend a little lemon juice in it if that is the case.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fast-as-the-Boxed-Kind Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is generally not a problem for the soy allergic, because there are not a lot of places in it to sneak soy. I suppose somebody could use margarine instead of butter, and those pesky breadcrumbs on top could be made out of supermarket bread, but here we are talking about somebody else's homemade mac & cheese. If you make the kind in the box--and I admit I have--it is pretty straightforward, and non-allergenic if you use butter.

In any case, the following recipe is just as fast as the boxed kind, and tastes better:

Fast-as-the-Boxed-Kind Macaroni and Cheese

12 oz shell or elbow macaroni (3/4 of a 16-oz box)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp minced dried onion (optional)
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning or celery salt (optional)
1 tsp grainy mustard (optional)
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
2 cups milk
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese (can use the preshredded kind. it comes in 8-oz bags.)

1.) Cook the macaroni as the package directs, stopping at the least amount of time specified (for example, if it says 9-11 minutes, stop at 9 minutes). Drain. Put the macaroni back into the same pot, off the heat.
2.) Sprinkle the macaroni with the flour, onion flakes, and Old Bay Seasoning or celery salt. Add the mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to coat the macaroni with the flour.
3.) Put the heat back on to medium, and slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture bubbles and turns thick.
4.) Add the cheese and stir until it melts.
5.) Serve.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving without soy; maple walnut pie

Remember way back in post #1 I said that you can eat like a normal person without soy, but you have to make a lot of things from scratch? That's the theme for Thanksgiving.

--Turkey: 100% natural or kosher, no self-basting birds
--stuffing: made from scratch, from high-end bakery bread or homemade, no stuffing mix
--cranberry sauce: premade is safe, but homemade tastes better
--mashed potatoes: made with butter and milk
--gravy: made from scratch
--sweet potatoes: canned are safe, made from scratch taste better
--green beans: no canned-soup-green-bean-casserole-with-canned-onions. The soup has soy, and so do the onions. I make green beans almondine with just butter, lemon juice, and sliced almonds
--rolls: made from scratch. Use the bread machine to make dough
--salad dressing: find a premade one without soy, or use Good Seasons and olive oil
--pie: Pillsbury brand premade pie dough is made from lard, so it's safe. Most other brands aren't.

One of my daughters told the guest she invited that we will have 4 different kinds of pie. So, apparently I am making
--maple walnut

We have maple walnut pie because one of the daughters is allergic to pecans. It is easily made from a pecan pie recipe. You substitute maple syrup (grade B if you can find it. Add 1 tsp maple flavoring if you can't) for the Karo syrup and walnuts for the pecans.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Cracker Problem, and Banbury Tarts

Very few crackers are available to the soy-free. Saltines have soy--even the fat-free ones had lecithin the last time I looked. Some varieties of Kashi "TLC" ("tasty little cracker") varieties are soy-free, though you have to (repeat after me:) read every label, every time. The last time I went grocery shopping, I found two varieties of Carr's crackers that were made with palm oil, the Whole Wheat Crackers, and the Table Water Crackers.

These last crackers made me happy. Yes, very little makes you happy when you are allergic to soy and you find something normal you can eat. But this made me happy for a specific reason: Banbury Tarts.

My mother made Banbury Tarts a handful of times when I was growing up. They are fussy to make, and she didn't do "fussy" in the kitchen. We make ours, not from some authentic British recipe, but from the Fanny Farmer cookbook. You can find it on the web here. It calls for "a slow oven," which means 300F.

It calls for crackers. Rather, it calls for "1 cracker." The last time I asked my mom to make these, she made them with 1 Saltine. Bummer. Couldn't eat them. No, Mom, not even if it only has "just a little bit of soy" in it. Sorry.

Now, could I make these with bread crumbs? Probably. Why didn't I? Maybe because not having soy-free crackers in the house gave me an excuse to not make Banbury Tarts. Since I don't have this excuse anymore, I think I will make Banbury Tarts for Thanksgiving, instead of mince pie, which nobody like but me (and Mom, of course, but she's probably not coming.) Then, because my daughter will be home for the 4-day weekend, I will pressure her into helping me take pictures of them and teach me how to upload them and then I will have my very first post with photos!


And Banbury Tarts.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

French Fries

Until 2 weeks ago, I hadn't had a french fry since 1999 when I moved back to the United States from Germany. Most french fries in the States are cooked in soy oil or generic "vegetable oil" which usually is a mix with some soy in it. But two weeks ago we went to Brasserie Beck, a Belgian restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C. My sister-in-law asked what they fry in, and they told her grapeseed oil. The waitress told us canola oil. No matter, it was not soy, so we ordered some. These fries were perfection. They were the size of MacDonald's fries (skinny) and came hot and crisp, with soft insides, sprinkled with salt and parsley flakes. They don't get soft and flabby, either, when they cool down. They are very popular, and the tables around us were ordering them as an appetiser, just like we did. They come with a trio of mayonnaises--plain, tomato, and curry--to dip them in, but I didn't ask what kind of oil was in the mayo, so I didn't try them. The potatoes were great on their own, though. Why paint the lily, or gild pure gold?

I hate frying (and, as my doctor reminds me, need to lose--ahem--a few pounds) so we don't make french fries at home. We make Oven "Fries" out of either white baking potatoes or sweet potatoes:

Oven "Fries"
serves 4

2 or 3 large baking potatos, or sweet potatoes
canola or light olive oil
salt and pepper OR
Old Bay Seafood Seasoning (particularly good with sweet potatoes)

Preheat the oven to 450F. Oil a rimmed baking sheet.

Scrub the potatoes and cut into wedges about 1/4" thick on the wide edge. Put them all in a sealable plastic bowl (like Tupperware) and add a tablespoon or two of oil. Cover and seal the bowl, and turn upside down. Shake vigorously.

Lay out the potato wedges in one layer on the baking sheet. If you have a few too many, lay them crossways on the others on the pan. Salt and pepper, or sprinkle with Old Bay. Bake for 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, turn over all the wedges (you might have enough room for only one layer now, because they shrink a little), season again, and bake for another 15 minutes. Check them. Depending on the potatoes and on how thick they are sliced, they may be done (browned and semi-crispy) or they may need another 5-15 minutes.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Chocolate Cake

This week I dedicate to chocolate cake, because it is the reason I missed posting last week. I was making one Saturday morning to take out to dinner with me that evening. A big kitchen knife dropped and cut one of my fingers enough to have stitches, so I spent time in the emergency room instead of blogging.

Chocolate cake is one of the best things ever invented, in my opinion, but is problematical for the soy allergic because a lot of chocolate contains lecithin. Now, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network said for a long time that soy oil and lecithin won't cause allergic reactions, but I am here to tell you different. Apparently a bunch of us told FAAN that, too, because now they say to "check with your doctor" about soy oil and lecithin.

Baking chocolate doesn't have lecithin, though, so I set out to find a really good cake made with plain baking chocolate. I found one, but when we ate it we all agreed it didn't have enough frosting. Because the frosting recipe is a little fussy (but worth it, believe me), we did not want to mess with scaling it up, so I scaled the cake recipe down. The only problem is that you have to own 7" cake pans. The cake is easy to make, though, because it uses a "quick-mix" technique.

Little Chocolate Cake

2 1/2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
7 Tbs butter, softened
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 tsp baking powder (slightly rounded 1/4 tsp)
2/3 tsp baking soda (slightly rounded 1/2 tsp)
1/3 tsp salt
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbs water
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Put out all the ingredients to come to room temperature.
2. Melt the chocolate with 1 Tbs butter in a double boiler (or in the microwave) and allow to cool until almost room temperature (if it is too warm, and the batter is too cold, you end up with little speckles of unsweetened chocolate in the cake).
3. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter two 7" round cake pans, line with waxed paper or parchment, and butter again. (Or spray both times with canola oil from a Misto sprayer.)
4.) Put the dry ingredients in the mixer and mix for about a minute. Add the remaining 6 Tbs butter, 1 Tbs at a time, and mix until it looks like Bisquik or pancake mix--slightly grainy.
5. Measure the yogurt in the bottom of a glass 1- or 2-cup measure, then add the rest of the wet ingredients to the measuring cup. With mixer on low, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Gradually increase the speed of the mixer and whip for 2-3 minutes. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the middle if the cake comes out clean.

Chocolate Frosting

4 1/2 oz usweetened baking chocolate
4 Tbs butter (1/2 stick)
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk (use less if it is not whole milk)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a small mixing bowl, melt the chocolate and the butter over hot water--kind of like making your own double boiler--or melt it in the microwave and add it to the small mixing bowl.
2. Stir in the sugar, salt, about 3/4 of the milk, and the vanilla. Mix well.
3. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and cold water, and beat the frosting until it is thick enough to spread--kind of like mayonnaise. Adjust the consistency with some more of the milk, if needed.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chips. Lowbrow Taco Salad. Fried Whale Meat.

One of the ironies of being soy-allergic is that it forces you to avoid processed foods (very healthy!) but you become hyper-aware of those you can eat.

Which brings us to chips. I am not much of a potato chip fan, but once in a while. . . .
Here's a list of those without soy I have found:
-- Lays plain
-- Lays Ruffles
-- Lays Reduced Fat (NOT Fat-free, those have soy-based Olestra)
-- Utz plain
-- Utz Barbecue Flavor (NOT Carolina-style Barbecue)
-- some of the chips in the health-food aisle

Corn based:
-- Fritos
-- Doritos Natural
-- Bugles
-- Baked Tostitos (if you can find them)
-- again, some of the varieties on the health-food aisle

Cheese Curls:
-- Cheetos Natural
-- Utz

And while we are at it, let's talk about that standard football-game fare, onion dip. All--or darn near all--the premade ones have soy, and so do most of the onion soup mixes. I buy Kosher for Passover onion soup mix in the run-up to Passover and keep it throughout the year. I can make Daube de boeuf a la Provencale, and Boeuf Bourgignon, but sometimes plain old pot-roast-with-onion-soup-mix-made-in-the-crockpot (known in our house as Fried Whale meat) fits the bill.

Finally, if you can find those Baked Tostitos, or some high-end soy-free tortilla chips, you might like to make our:

Lowbrow Taco Salad

2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon beef bouillon powder
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 lb lean ground beef (93%)
chopped tomatoes
grated cheese
diced avocado
hot sauce
sour cream
crushed tortilla chips

1. Mix the flour, chili powder, salt, paprika, bouillon powder, sugar, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
2. Brown ground beef with the onion and garlic. You might need a little olive oil if the beef is very lean. Add seasonings, stir, then add a cup of water and stir again. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Serve over lettuce, with the chopped tomato, grated cheese, avocado, salsa, hot sauce, and sour cream. Sprinkle the tortilla chips over.

And now that it's getting to be fall, you might be interested in the pot roast:

(Fried Whale Meat)

1 onion (optional)
1 large piece of bottom round
1 8-oz can sliced mushrooms
1 packet of onion soup mix (3 tbsp from a bulk container)

Slice the onion into rings and put in the bottom of the crockpot (optional). Brown the meat in a skillet in a little oil in a skillet on the stove (optional). Put the bottom round on top of the onion, or just in the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle the onion soup mix on top of the meat, then arrange the mushrooms on top of the soup mix. Add 1/4 cup water to the pot, cover, and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chewing Gum

Not long ago I got an email from Rachel in New York, asking if I knew of any soy-free chewing gum. I don't chew gum much, but my daughters do, so I funded them to go out looking for soy-free gum.

They didn't find any.

I went online and managed to find two: Chiclets and
Dubble Bubble, but Dubble Bubble gumballs "may contain lecithin."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Two Useful Sites

Here's a useful site that lists a lot of soy-free (and soy-laden) products and offerings by commercial food outlets:

Soy Product Information

and here's an online store where you can shop by allergy:

(and they have chocolate chips!)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Salad Dressing, and the best Salad I Ever Had

Most of the commercial salad dressings in the U.S. have soy oil in them, or are labeled something like "canola and/or soy oil." So we make our own. Besides, it's cheaper (I'm from New England, remember?)

Good Seasons packets have no soy--I called and asked--and, if you make it with pure extra-virgin olive oil and red-wine vinegar, it's pretty good. So that's our staple. Here's another good one that I learned from my landlady when I lived in France:

French vinaigrette

1 Tbs red-wine vinegar
3 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs (approximately) grainy mustard
salt and pepper

Whisk in the bottom of the salad bowl and put the salad on top. Mix.

The best salad I ever had was just Belgian endive, walnuts, bleu cheese, and vinaigrette. They serv it as an appetizer. But I add romaine to the mix and serve it as a regular salad.

Belgian Endive Salad

1 small head romaine, in bite-sized pieces
2 Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2" - 3/4" strips
2 oz crumbled bleu cheese (or more)
a couple of handfuls of walnut pieces (1/2 cup?)
French vinaigrette, above

Follow directions for the French vinaigrette, making the dressing on the bottom of the salad bowl first.

Serves 4

Pita and Hummus

We are having the traditional end-of-summer cookout on Labor Day weekend and we are going vaguely Mediterranean. One of the appetizers (mezze?) is going to be pita and hummus. The nice thing about both of them is that, even if you buy them, they usually don't have soy in them (read every label, every time.) We buy whole-wheat pita, but we make our hummus. It's just too cheap when you make it, and too darned expensive when you buy it.

Here's a hummus recipe I use. It is sort of a mix of several I have seen. The best hummus I ever ate was in Israel, and I have been seeking that flavor ever since.

Hummus bi Tahini
2 cups cooked chickpeas (cook a bunch ahead of time and freeze them in 2-cup lots, or use canned, but fresh is better)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (can use more, up to 3/4 cup)
1/2-3/4 cup tahini
3 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne
water or chickpea cooking water
olive oil for serving
paprika, zaatar*, or chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Combine all ingredients in the blender. Add enough water to process (1/4 cup or slightly more). You can make the hummus a little soupy because it is going to stiffen up as it sets. I like it when it is made a day ahead.

In Israel, I had it smeared on a plate, with a circular ditch in it. They put a little olive oil in the ditch, then sprinkled half with paprika and half with zaatar. Most cookbooks tell you to sprinkle it with chopped fresh parsley, and sometimes they say sprinkle with a few reserved chickpeas.

*Zaatar is a dried herb/sesame seed blend. You can probably get it in Mediterranean markets, and Penzey's carries it.

For anyone who is interested, here's the whole Labor Day menu:

Grilled chicken
Orzo salad***
Romaine salad with:
Mayo Caesar dressing
Basbousa (semolina and coconut cake)
Pistachio shortbread
Apricot sweetmeats
Stuffed dates
Mint Iced Tea

**Labne is yogurt cheese. You make it by draining whole-milk yogurt overnight in a sieve through cheesecloth or coffee filters. Serve it with pita the same as the hummus--olive oil and paprika or zaatar. One time we found goat-milk yogurt at Trader Joe's and made labne from that--it was really good.

***I highly recommend the Orzo salad from It calls for 12 oz of orzo, but I just throw in the whole 16-oz box. I don't much like capers (see the post on Tartar sauce) but they seem to work in this recipe. I also recommend cutting back on the oil, almost by half.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chicken Nuggets

As far as I know, there is no truth-in-advertising law for blogs, but I will tell you up front that these chicken nuggets are not going to taste like MacD's. (As they say on Seinfeld, not that there's anything wrong with that.) I can't even walk into a MacDonald's, or I walk out with asthma. Something with soy in it--fryer grease? non-stick spray for the grill?--is in the air.

We serve these hot over salad with a creamy dressing.

Chicken Nuggets
(more of an idea than a recipe)

1 - 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken
flour (white, whole-wheat, or a mix)
sesame seeds
Old Bay seafood seasoning or celery salt
canola or other soy-free oil
Asian sesame oil

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, put some flour (1/3-1/2 cup?) and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds, about 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, several shakes of Old Bay or celery salt, and stir to mix.

Cut the chicken into chicken-nugget sized pieces and dredge in the flour mixture. Heat a couple of tablespoons of canola oil in a skillet, and add a teaspoon or two of sesame oil. Saute the nuggets unti golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (cut one in half to see.)

You can serve these over salad like we do, or you can dunk them in sweet-and-sour sauce.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hooray for the bread machine, part 3: Almond Braid

Well, we are on a bread kick, apparently. An old friend of mine from my graduate school days is in town and she came this morning for coffee. She offered to bring doughnuts, but if they don't have soy flour in them (like Dunkin Donuts) they are fried in soy oil. So that's out. I made one of my husband's favorite coffee cakes. It's reminiscent of an almond danish:

Almond Braid

3/4 cup milk (skim is fine)
1 egg
2 Tbs butter
1/2 8-oz can almond paste (or 1/2 7-oz tube)*
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1.) Put all the ingredients in the bread machine in the order called for in the machine's manual. Process on "dough" mode.
2.) On a floured board, pat the dough into a rectangle and cut in thirds. Roll each third into a long rope, about 18 inches. On a cookie sheet lined with parchement or buttered foil, braid the three ropes together, pinch the ends, and tuck under.
3.) Bake at 375F for 25 minutes. When cool, glaze (see below).

Almond Glaze
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1-2 Tbs milk
sliced almonds

Measure the confectioner's sugar in a one-cup measure and leave it in the cup. Add the extract and let it melt a hole into the sugar. A little at a time, add the milk, stirring until the glaze is thin enough to spread but not runny. Spread it over the braid, and sprinkle with the sliced almonds.

* Save the other half in the freezer. You'll want to make this bread again.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Hooray for the Bread Machine, part 2: Cinnamon Rolls

You know how tired you get when you're shopping in a mall, and how hungry you get, and how those cinnamon rolls smell so good? Well, when you're soy allergic, you can't buy them. They may be soy-free--who knows? The company doesn't post this information on their website, and I haven't written them. In any case, here's a recipe that's pretty close, except I don't use a cream-cheese based frosting:

Cinnamon Rolls

2 teaspoons yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk*
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into small chunks
1 egg

2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

For pan:
2 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon melted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water or milk

1. Put all the dough ingredients in the bread machine in the order specified in the manual and process on "dough" mode.
2. Turn out onto a floured board and roll out into a rectangle 1/2" thick or slightly less.
3. Spread dough with 2 Tbs melted butter, leaving one long edge unbuttered. Mix together 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough, avoiding the unbuttered edge.
4. Roll up jellyroll fashion, starting with the long edge opposite the unbuttered one. Wet the unbuttered edge with your finger, and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 pieces.
5. Coat bottom of a 9"x13' pan with 2 tablespoons melted butter.
6. Place cinnamon roll slices in 4 rows of 3 each in the pan. Let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled, 30-45 minutes.
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 25 minutes.
8. Prepare glaze. In small bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon melted butter, vanilla, and enough warm water or milk to make spreadable. Spread over slightly cooled rolls.

*note: can use 2 Tbsp dry milk powder and another 1/2 cup of water

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tuna Noodle Casserole and a Bonus Recipe

Tuna Noodle Casserole (or Toona Noona, as one of my kids called it) is not high class fare, but it has its advantages. It is quick, and my whole family will eat it.

Half of that changed when I came down with the soy allergy.

Canned Cream of Chicken--or Cream of Mushroom, or Cream of Celery--soup contains soy. You could make a white sauce for the casserole, but then you've changed what makes this dish most appealing--after the pasta is cooked, the whole thing takes 10 minutes, tops, if you leave off buttered bread crumbs, which we do because the kids think they're disgusting. They will eat it with crushed potato chips, though. Big surprise. Anyway. . . .

Heloise solved this one. Sort of. The Hints from Heloise column had a recipe for a "creamed soup mix" that involved dried everything, including milk. You just added water, heated it, and Presto! Quasi creamed soup. Or creamed quasi soup. Or something.

I have been known to use dried ingredients, but instant powdered milk as the main ingredient only shows up in one thing in our house (more on this later). So, what to do? Take the concept, replace the dried milk and water with real milk, and try it out. It worked. Here is our new standard:

Tuna Noodle Casserole

8 ounces shell pasta
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs, such as Italian or Herbes de Provence (without lavender)
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seafood seasoning (optional)
2 cups milk
2 6-oz cans soy-free tuna*
1 4-oz can sliced mushrooms

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, undercooking by a minute or two. Drain. Put back in the same pan.
2. While the pasta is cooking, mix all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Open and drain the tuna and mushrooms
3. With the pasta back in the pan, but off the heat, stir in the flour mixture. Put the heat back on to medium.
4. Stirring constantly, slowly add the milk. Heat the mixture, stirring once in a while, until it bubbles. Add the tuna and mushrooms.
5. Let sit a few minutes on low heat to give the pasta a chance to absorb some of the liquid.

*A word about soy-free tuna. It's hard to find. That "vegetable broth" a lot of tuna is canned in, is usually some combination of soy and other things. Trader Joe's has tuna in plain spring water, with salt or salt-free, and so does Whole Foods. I am told that expensive imported Italian tuna in olive oil is fine, too. If you can't find soy-free tuna, canned soy-free chicken is easier to come by, and it works in this recipe, too. In that case, you can omit the herbs and add a teaspoonful of curry powder or dried dill.

Bonus recipe:
Honey Nut Butter Candy

1 cup powdered dry milk
1/2 cup nut butter of your choice (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.)
1/2 cup honey
ground nuts, sugar, colored sugar, or soy-free chocolate shot (ha! if you can find these, let me know.)

Mix the milk powder, nut butter, and honey together in a bowl until you can't see the milk powder any more. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls. (If it's hard to handle, refridgerate for a half hour to an hour.) Roll in nuts, sugar, or chocolate shot.

You can put this in little paper cups in a box for a nice presentation. We have alternated these with nut-stuffed dates rolled in sugar for gifts. It is easy for kids to make.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hooray for the bread machine

Soy-free bread is problematical. Most of the breads on the bread aisle have soy oil. Most tortillas are out, too, unless you can find an honest-to-god fat-free one, and they are scarce. As a result, our fajitas are usually served in whole-wheat pita. Pita's usually okay.

The good news is, supermarkets are starting to sell more upscale bread in their bakery departments and they are often soy-free. My local “GIANT” sells a brand it buys frozen and bakes in the bakery. The multigrain has soy (check every label, every time) but the Italian, sourdough, country rye, semolina sesame, and olive/rosemary are all fine. Our local Whole Foods also carries several kinds of soy free bread. The bad news is, these upscale loaves are expensive. You also have to slice them yourself at home, because the slicers at the store might be contaminated from previous products.

English muffins continue to be a problem. None sold in the supermarket are soy-free. Whole Foods used to sell a Whole Foods brand that was okay, but they changed the recipe (check every label, every time). Trader Joe’s brand (“British Muffins”) is fine--for now--and they have whole-wheat.

Hotdog and hamburger rolls are impossible. We often buy “French rolls” at Safeway and use them for hamburgers but they’re not too substantial. I have not found any hotdog rolls I can use. I finally bought at hotdog roll pan from the King Arthur Flour catalogue and make them at home, when I can’t stand putting a hotdog on regular bread anymore.

Which brings me one of the best inventions of the 20th century: the bread machine. I am on my third machine right now. We only use it to make dough, then shape the dough and bake it in the oven. We use a potato bread recipe, like the one that came with the King Arthur hotdog roll pan, for hotdog and hamburger buns. (If you want your potato bread to be yellow like the supermarket loaves, add 1/16th tsp of turmeric.) For hamburger buns, just divide one pound of dough into sixths, or 1½ pounds into eighths, shape into balls, and squish flat on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled, and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.

Because we only make dough, we don’t care what brand of machine we use, or how many bells and whistles it has. This latest machine cost around $40 at WalMart, and it works just fine, although the pan is not as heavy as the ones in our earlier, more expensive machines. It even has a “beep” for when to put in raisins, which the other two didn’t.

Bread machine books abound, and recipes are all over the internet, but I have found that I can make almost any bread recipe in the bread machine if I scale it right. A pound of dough uses 2 to 2 ¼ cups of flour, and cooks in an 8”x4” pan. A pound-and-a-half loaf takes 3-3 1/2 cups of flour, and uses a 9”x5” pan. My defunct Panasonic machine’s manual recommended 7/8 cup liquid for 2¼ cups flour and that works for most recipes, although if you add whole-wheat flour, you need a full cup. I am still working out the proportions for larger loaves.

We have several favorite bread machine books. Donna Rathmell German published at least 6 Bread Machine Books through Nitty Gritty Press. (Full disclosure—one of my recipes is in Bread Machine 6.) We also like Bread Machine Magic by Linda Rehberg & Lois Conway.

Because it is basil season, I am including my recipe for Pesto Bread. My brother tasted this at our house, and went out and bought a bread machine the next week.

Pesto Bread

2 ¼ cups bread flour (see note)
¼ cup pesto, home-made or commercial
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (less if the pesto contains salt)
1 cup water
1 1/4 tsp yeast

Put the ingredients in the machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Process on dough mode. When the dough is ready, roll out about ½” thick, roll up like a jellyroll, and put in a greased 8”x4” bread pan. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

Note: You can substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 tbsp gluten powder for one of the cups of bread flour. Any whole-wheat flour works, but we favor King Arthur.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tartar Sauce and Soy-free Mayonnaise

In Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1, which I got for my birthday this year, I learned that authentic Sauce Tartare is made with hard-cooked egg yolks, and Sauce Remoulade is made with raw egg yolks. That is, it is based on mayonnaise. Both have herbs, pickles, and capers, so except for the state of the egg yolks, they are virtually identical.

Well. I am from New England, and where I come from, Tartar Sauce is based on mayonnaise, mostly comes in a jar, and never saw a caper, so that's the way I like it. Now that I am allergic to soy, I can't buy it in a jar anymore, so I had to learn to make it myself. Here is the latest, and best so far (better than the stuff in the jar), version:

Tartar Sauce

1/2 cup soy-free mayonnaise*
2 Tbsp sweet pickle relished, drained
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (it is the fresh parsley that makes this so good)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grainy mustard
1 1/2 tsp minced onion OR
1/2 tsp dried onion flakes

Don't use light mayo; the sauce will be runny. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and let set a few minutes to soften the onion flakes (if using) and let the flavors mix.

*Soy-free mayonnaise is a lot easier to find these days; you can even buy Hellman's Canola Mayonnaise (Best Foods west of the Rockies) at the grocery store now. For a long time I had to go to the health food store for Hain's Safflower Oil Mayonnaise, and that is still my favorite. Hain also has a Light Safflower Oil mayo that is pretty good, and we use that most of the time. Right before passover you can buy Kosher for Passover mayonnaise in the kosher section of the grocery store, too. (Many Jews avoid legumes during passover, and soybeans of course are legumes.)

Back to the tartar sauce. Like I said, being from New England, we ate a lot of fish, fried clams, and scallops growing up, most of the time involving tartar sauce. We even ate tartar sauce with our French fries, if it was available. When my brother tasted this version, his comment was something like, "Umph. Good tartar sauce," which is high praise indeed coming from a New England male.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce is one of those products that I didn't expect to have to worry about. However, once you realize that most of them contain oil, it's obvious that soy oil is going to show up. There are a few, like Kraft original, that are okay--for now (read every label, every time)--but making your own is pretty easy. The following recipe came from my friend Belva, who is half-Cajun and half-Italian, and (need I add?) a wonderful cook.

Gurr's Great Sauce
3 cups cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
"a big squirt of" yellow mustard (1/3 cup?)
1 stick butter
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup soy-free Worcestershire Sauce
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 whole lemon, sliced thin and seeds removed

Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer unil reduced by half. (Belva says, "Until you can stick your face over it and still breathe." It starts off with a pronounced vinegar smell and mellows out while it's cooking.) The lemon will disintegrate into the sauce.
Makes approximately 4 cups
Great on ribs, chicken, pork chops

16 July update on soy-free Worcestershire sauce: I called the 1-800 number on the back of the Lea and Perrins label. I got a very nice Heinz customer service rep named Megin. She says there is no soy in Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce, and that they would list it in bold as an allergin if there was. Hooray! (For a while French's was okay, now it's not. Food Lion's house brand was okay the last time I bought it. )

Monday, July 2, 2007

Eating Like a Normal Person

Can you eat like a normal person with a soy allergy? Yes. And no.

By yes, I mean you can eat most foods you used to eat, like macaroni and cheese, tuna casserole, taco salad, and chocolate-chip cookies.

By no, I mean you are probably going to have to make them yourself (there are exceptions.)

When I first was diagnosed with a soy allergy, I was shocked by how many processed foods contained soy, especially when you take into account soy oil and lecithin. Many soy-allergics can handle soy oil and lecithin, but I can't. Here's a list of foods that surprised me with their soy content:
-- canned tuna (oil, or "vegetable broth")
-- canned soup (soy protein)
-- sweetened chocolate products (lecithin)
-- peanut butter (soy oil)
-- candy corn (soy protein)
-- orange or grapefruit-flavored soda (brominated vegetable oil, for that "citrusy" mouthfeel)
Soy oil is ubiquitous (I blame price supports.) Some foods are predictably off-limits, if you take into consideration that they are made with vegetable oil, margarine, or shortening:
-- most supermarket breads, including English muffins, biscuits, tortillas
-- most packaged cookies
-- most packaged crackers
-- cake mixes and supermarket cakes
-- breakfast cereals
Some products basically are oils, so they are often made from soy oil:
-- salad dressings
-- mayonnaise
Not all versions of any of the foods above contain soy. What it boils down to, is you have to read every label, every time, and make things from scratch.
I intend to write about recipes, tips, and products I have found so that I can "eat like a normal person."