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King Arthur Flour's Chewy (Gluten-Free) Almond Cookies

King Arthur Flour's Chewy (Gluten-Free) Almond Cookies

Oh, yum. King Arthur Flour just posted some (unintentionally? Aw, who the heck cares!?) gluten-free recipes on their blog. This one for chewy almond cookies is the clear standout for me. Watch out almond paste, Ima gonna getcha.

BPA-free tomatoes available at Whole Foods

BPA-free tomatoes available at Whole Foods

If you’ve been following the BPA (bisphenol-A) craze of late, you’ve likely unceremoniously lobbed your old, clear Nalgene into a ditch on the side of the road and replaced it with the now ubiquitous stainless steel water bottles with perty flowery doodles on the outside. And perhaps you know to avoid storing food, especially acidic food, in plastic containers. Maybe, like me, you’ve replaced much of your tupperware with the pyrex storage sets so you don’t have to even think about what the numbers inside the recycle sign on your plasticware means (is 5 ok? I forget… what about 2? 7?) Well, good on you. BPA-free, right? Not so.

Turns out one of our most common methods of exposure to BPA is from canned food. Apparently the lining of the cans is made of an epoxy resin that contains BPA. And just like the acidic foods that eat away at your tupperware, the highest concentrations of BPA are found in acidic foods like crushed tomatoes. Make that canned crushed tomatoes. While companies have had success with alternative linings for less acidic foods, a lining that will withstand the sting of tomato juices remains elusive. So while it’s becoming easier to find BPA-free cans of beans (I hear Eden Foods makes some), it’s even easier to ignore cans altogether. Switch to dried beans (infinitely tastier anyway) and frozen (or better yet, fresh) fruit and vegetables and you’re pretty much golden. Except when it comes to tomatoes. And honestly, if I had to pick one canned item that is always in my kitchen, no matter what, it’s canned tomatoes. They are just so dern versatile! So imagine my heartbreak upon hearing about BPA in tomatoey cans. Stinkers.

But then I read this happy little blog post that made my heart sing. Apparently those cartony containers that hold soy milk, rice milk, premade broths and soups, and yes, parmalat, can be BPA-free. And there are a few companies that put crushed tomatoes in them. Yipppee! Although the blog post says they can be found at TJ’s, I’ve only been able to find them at Whole Foods. But no matter. They’re in my cupboard and that’s all that matters. Yeeehaw! Tomato soup, sauce and stuff will be ours again. Sweet.

Alright vegheads, brace yourselves. It was bound to happen, and after a year at the helm, I’m just going to suck it up and do it: a recipe with fish. So now you know our dirty little secret. We’re really pescatarians. But we eat fish so rarely and feel so guilty about it when we do that we’re functionally vegheads. Oy. Let’s move on.

So I’ve never really dug paella. Am I the only one? Maybe it’s the bits of mussel shell that get inadvertently broken and have the nasty habit of sneaking up on you in the midst of what you’re hoping will be a tasty bite. Or perhaps it’s the dusty, musty combination of colored-but-not-flavored paprika and can-taste-like-basement-so-use-it-wisely saffron. Or maybe it’s that cooked bell peppers and rice are too good an approximation of the flavor of all airplane food in the 1980s. I dunno. Bottom line is, I’m just “enh” on paella. Blasphemy, you say!? You should be pleased. It means more for you.

Except that now I’m not so sure you don’t have to worry about competition from me at the paella table. Perhaps it’s due to the moon being perfectly aligned with the stars, or to the fact that I am missing exactly half of the ingredients for a seafood paella according to Ruth Reichel. Either way, tonight I made an almost-paella that I want all to myself. Every night. Me. Mine. Unless you volunteer to bring the wine. Then I might share.

Almost-Paella or Green Chile Paella

Almost-Paella or Green Chile Paella

Almost-Paella (or) Green Chile Paella

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 c. arborio rice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced/mashed/smashed
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 3 T white wine
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/8 t. saffron
  • 4 c. vegetable broth, heated
  • 1 c. peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 2-4 T chopped green chile (can substitute 1 chopped fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper)

**A note on kitchen gear: If you have gads of space and a paella pan to fill it, then by all means, break out the paella pan for this recipe. If you’re like me and are trying to get by with the minimum gear needed for maximum gourmetness, you might not have made the paella pan choice. No problem. Just use a large, high-sided saute pan like this. You’ll need the high sides for when you add the liquid so it doesn’t spill out and make a dern mess.

Prep everything first. This is a fast-flyin’ dish when it comes down to it so you don’t want to be stuck chopping onions while the garlic burns. Peel and devein your shrimp, if they aren’t already cleaned. Mash the garlic and combine it with the tomato paste and the salt in a small bowl. Pour the wine, lemon juice, and saffron into a glass and let sit. Chop your scallions into thin rounds. Slice your onion into strips. Measure out your peas (and let them thaw if they’re frozen). Dice or coarsely chop whatever spicy chile you decide to use.* Ok, nice work. You’re ready.

Preheat your oven to 400° F. Put 3 T olive oil in the frying pan and heat on medium high. When hot, throw in the shrimp and shimmy around for a few (two-ish) minutes. The goal here is not to cook the shrimp, just to sear it nicely. It’ll cook fully later. When seared on both sides, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Put the tomato paste, garlic and salt into the hot oil and fry for a minute, stirring constantly so the tomato paste doesn’t burn. Add the rice and stir so the tomato paste coats the grains evenly. Add the bay leaves, the wine/lemon/saffron mixture, the hot veggie broth, and a generous grrrp-grrrp-grrrp of black pepper. Give a good stir and allow to simmer for 5ish minutes. Add the scallions, onion, and peas and stir again. Arrange the shrimp on top. Place the pan uncovered in the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, pull it out and test the rice. The rice should be a bit too al dente. Cover the pan and let sit for another 10 minutes. Test the rice again. If it’s not done, add another 1/4 c. boiling water and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Follow the same plan after pulling it out of the oven the second time – let sit, covered, for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley, garnish with lemon slices. Serves 2-3 hungry hippos.

*A word on chile-ville: New Mexico green chiles are akin to the Sirens in Greek mythology and have been known to inspire obsessive behavior in their victims. Once you’ve tasted them you will go to great lengths to have them readily available in your home. Assuming you have not been bitten by the NM green chile bug and therefore don’t have a freezer full of roasted, peeled and seeded chiles ready to thaw and chop, I’ll offer some other options to achieve chileness.

  1. I have seen channed green chile at the supermarket; you can use these.
  2. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can buy 2 poblano peppers, roast them in a broiler, turning them every 5-10 minutes until the skins are blackened. Place them in a paper bag and close the top to let them steam. When cool, peel off the skin and remove the stems and seeds. Chop and use in place of the green chile.
  3. Or, you can just use a fresh jalapeno or serrano pepper, finely chopped.
    1. Your call.

I’ve got the BEST iPhone app for all you recipeheads out there. It’s the Epicurious recipe & shopping list app and it’s FAH-REEEEEEEEEE!!!! Yep, you heard me right. Freebie, baby. What’s so ducky about it, you ask? Say you open your fridge and there’s one sad turnip, one lonely jellybean, and one can of Old Style. Your wallet was just stolen so there’s no way you’re ordering pizza. Oh, yeah. You’re in the mood for Indian. You just open your little EpiApp, click the turnip, jellybean, and beer icons under “Search by Ingredient” and then the Indian icon under “search by cuisine.” And voilà. Your recipe awaits. I’d tell you the results but that wouldn’t be any fun. You’ll have to download it to see for yourself.

In the meantime, I searched for lemon and leafy greens last night (my fridge is way more well-stocked than that poor sot above, pooh-pooh) and came up with this little gem called “Herb jam with olives and lemon.” Somehow, despite the pathically unappetizing name (herb jam? weird.), I was intrigued. And thank groodness. What resulted (with mad substitutions) was soh-fine. Regard:

  • 1 bunch swiss chard, coarsely chopped (a sweet green)
  • 1/2 c. cilantro, chopped (a stinky green)
  • 4 oz. arugula (a bitter green)
  • 4 cloves garlic, whole
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. chopped olivasecca (or black olives of choice)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/2 t. chipotle chili flakes (can sub. red pepper flakes)
  • 1/8 t. freshly ground cumin
  • salt to taste

Place the greens into a steamer with the whole garlic cloves on top. Steam garlic & greens (chard, cilantro, and arugula) for 15 minutes in a covered steamer. Remove the garlic from the pot and set aside. Remove the greens and place on a cutting board. Chop finely.

Put the olive oil in a large frying pan. With the back of a fork, mash the steamed garlic and fry for a minute or two. Add the dry spices and fry for a minute to release their aroma. Add the minced greens and olives and saute on high, stirring occasionally to further concentrate the flavor as the excess moisture cooks off. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Makes ~2 cups. Serve on gf flatbread, or over rice with fried tofu (omit the sesame seeds for this application) on top.