Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gluten Free Bento Lunches and a tasty dressing!

Like a growing number of folks across the world, I pack a bento-style lunch box almost every day for work.

It's cheaper than eating out by far, and even cheaper than prepackaged frozen gluten-free meals. And considering I do as much "pre-cooking" of things on sunday, it's usually just an affair of slapping everything in (artfully :D) into my lunchbox (for fantastic examples of lunchboxes, see Maki's Just Bento, and Pikko's Adventures in Bentomaking, both on the sidebar. Mine aren't quite so aesthetically pleasing as of yet ;D)

The other good thing, obviously, is having complete control over what I'm eating, so it definitely cuts down on accidental gluten exposure ^.^;

One of my favourite veg to put in my bento is green beans (and brussel sprouts. Strangely, bentomaking has taught me to like sprouts 0.o) and I wanted to share my favourite dressing for them!


1 TB Grainy mustard
(I love mustard. The sharper and the grainer the happier I am. None of this yellow stuff in the squeeze bottle for this girl)
1 TB Tamari
(If you're unfamiliar with tamari, it's essentially soy sauce sans wheat. It's delicious and savoury and can be found in the Asian food section of most larger groceries)
1/2 TB mirin
(Mirin... is kind of the Japanese equivalent of cooking sherry ;D. If you can't find mirin in your grocery -it'd be with the tamari above- then your preferred vinegar should go here!)
1/2 tsp dry mustard (optional- for mustard lovers ^.~)

I usually mix the above ingredients in a smallish screw-top rubbermaid container. Each morning, I take some green beans that I steamed earlier in the week, cut them in half and bung them in the container.

Microwave for about 30 seconds, to heat everything up so the dressing really gets into the beans, and then put the beans in my lunch and the container of dressing in the fridge for use tomorrow :D

Easy, see? ^.~

Friday, May 15, 2009

Experiment 1: Afterthoughts

While the final sausages were definitely edible, they're still not quite right.

Next week, I will be starting Experiment 2: Sausage Redux with the following changes to the original recipe:

  • the beans: I used canellini beans because they were handy. I think I will used black beans instead. With a more assertive taste and drier texture, I think they'll be more appropriate.
  • the tofu: since the freeze dried tofu package only nets 1 cup, I used mochiko rice flour to make up the bulk because it too, was handy. I think for Round 2, I will replace that with quinoa.
  • the apple: I think I will hold in reserve to see if the base needs to be moister after the other changes.
  • the liquids: 1/2 cup is definitely the way to go on the broth, and 3 T of tamari vs. 2 definitely nets a richer taste.

the spices:
  • considering I can STILL taste the one I had for brekkies, I think for Round 2 we will definitely be cutting the sage and thyme in half. For people who REALLY love sage, the current qty might be good. I like it, but not this much^_^
  • the increase of dry mustard powder also increased the savoury factor- in a good way, but given the changes I'm going to make in the base, I'll increase it incrementally and see if I can get away with the original amount.
So, join me again next week for Round 2! Suggestions are always welcome in comments!! ^__^v

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Experiment 1: Veggie Breakfast sausage.

So, tonight's experiment is complete. The original recipe is here

First, the prep:

Not pictured is the granny smith apple ^-^ Edits to the initial recipe include: 1/2 cup of rice flour and cornstarch to make up for the fact that a package of kouya dofu only grated up to 1 cup. Also, I reduced the broth to 1/2 cup because of how moist the mix was.

smell while cooking: YUMMY.

Taste: ....too.. sweet? I gave a small bit to the Spouse to try and he confirmed. Considering his definition of "sweet enough" is about 10x what mine is and HE thinks this is too sweet, then ok. time to try and fix.

Edits made for round 2: added another 1/2 cup of beans, coarsely mashed as opposed to the puree. added another 1 tablespoon of Tamari and a tablespoon of dry mustard

cooked up: Much less sweet. Very sausage herby.

Cooked up the rest:

The texture's not right, but I'm going to let them sit in the fridge overnight and reheat a couple for brekkies in the AM.

I think when I try these again, I'll up the beans by another 1/2 cup to start and maybe cut the sage and thyme down by half.

Too strongly flavoured at first, but they do have a pleasant aftertaste. ^__^

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Experiment 1: Vegetarian Breakfast Sausage

BC (before celiac), I was a HUGEhugehugeymchugepants fan of Morningstar farms breakfast sausages. I ate them out of hand, mashed them up into my morning oatmeal, made sammiches, you name it. Considering they're pretty much all wheat gluten, when the diagnosis came, they were the first thing up against the wall.

Lately, I've been craving them like CRAZY, and since lots of vegetarian recipes that i've found use TVP or vital wheat gluten, I figured I would attempt my own.

The recipe (which I will be making this week) is inspired by a number of sources.
1) The vegan sausage from Vegan Dad: sausages, no meat-style! yay!
2) The wonderful maple/apple sausage from the even more wonderful Karina: more sausages, meat-style!
3)The mochi/tofu nuggets from Maki at Just Bento (which have become a lunchbox staple of mine and introduced me to the glory that is freeze-dried tofu): words can NOT describe how good these things are

The theoretical recipe:

1/2 C pinto beans, drained and mashed
1 C veg broth
1 1/2 C grated freeze-dried tofu
1 T olive oil
2 T tamari
1 apple, peeled and grated

Theoretically, this will provide me with a nice chewy, moist base.

2 T maple syrup
1/2 t garam masala
1 t herbamare
2 t sage
1 t smoked paprika
1 t thyme
2 T sweet onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T black pepper
1 t mustard powder

I've used variations on this spice mix in other things- it creates a pleasing sweet/spicy blend that I'm a sucker for.

So. There's the theory. Join me later this week to see how it goes!


Yes, I know. Another gluten free blog. But I thought I would share my experiments in gluten-free, trying-to-get-back-to-vegetarian, usually-in-a-bento cooking.

On the sidebar, lots of links to places I go to regularly for food inspiration.

Come join me as I sort out the devil in the details of GF cookery!