It is officially winter now, and in many parts of the country, outside temperatures reflect the season. It’s time, then, for a reminder of a grain-free, gluten- free “granola” that can also be ground in the food processor for a high-protein porridge. Mmmm, I do love a bowl of hot “cereal” on cold mornings. For this versatile recipe, which can be eaten either hot or cold, and which also makes an excellent trail mix, please click here.
I’ve got a new batch of homemade ginger ale fermenting. In the past year, I have been learning more about ferments in general and about making homemade ginger ale in particular. I still use the Sweeter Ginger Ale recipe below, but in contrast to the recipe and method I started with, I have learned that an open ferment produces better, bigger bubbles more quickly.
Therefore, the ginger ale mixture should be placed in a large bottle or jar and the top covered with a breathable fabric cover or coffee filter, and secured with a rubber band. If conditions are warm, the ale will ferment within 48 hours. When large bubbles appear, the ginger ale can be strained and bottled tightly for a second fermentation. This is what produces a truly bubbly ginger ale, the second fermentation in an airtight bottle. The Sweeter Ginger Ale recipe below provides enough sugar for a viable second fermentation where others do not.
Generally, a 24-48 hour second fermentation in warm conditions is sufficient to produce good carbonation. After small bubbles appear in the capped bottles during the second fermentation, the bottles should be chilled and stored in the refrigerator. Care should be taken in opening the bottles. They may foam over, so they should always be opened over the sink, or over a bowl if you wish to catch the overflow.
Sweeter Ginger Ale
(makes about 2 1/2 quarts finished ginger ale)
Simmer together for 5 minutes:
2 cups water
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 cup raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Cool mixture. Add:
5 cups cool water
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup ginger bug (follow link for directions for making and maintaining your ginger bug)
Mix well and pour off into large jug or jar, cover with breathable fabric or coffee filter, and secure with rubber band. Let sit in warm place for 2-3 days or until large, yeasty-looking bubbles form. Strain and bottle in bale-top type bottles or other bottles with air-tight caps. Ferment again in warm place for 24-48 hours, or until carbonated. Chill before drinking.
My previous post about ginger ale, called Science Experiment, details the progression and development of this recipe and technique, and also tells how to make, feed, and store a ginger bug, which is the base ferment for ginger ale. However, I recommend following the above procedure for making ginger ale. It’s a wonderful holiday drink, and a great digestive after a large meal. If you wish, you can allow your ginger ale to ferment longer for an alcoholic content and champagne-like bubbles, but beware opening the bottles!
I’m making Christmas cookies with my grandkids on Monday. For a recipe for good gingerbread people or gingerbread edible ornaments, and a wonderful sugar cookie recipe with a long history of use, please click here.
As some of you know, I’m recovering from shoulder surgery and don’t have much use of my right hand and arm for the next few weeks. I’m planning to do some reblogging during that time, highlighting previous recipes appropriate for the season. But a discussion on a friend’s page last week prompted me to jot down quickly my meatloaf recipe for you. Why? Because it’s different from any other meatloaf recipe I’ve ever seen in one key ingredient, and I want to share that with you so that you can make delicious, moist, fiber-rich and lower carb meatloaf and meatballs. For the rationale behind the use of this key ingredient, I’ve included the link to a previous post about sausage-stuffed acorn squash, which uses a variation on meatloaf. Rather than beef or turkey burger, this recipe uses ground breakfast sausage, and it is a delicious, easy, and attractive main dish. This previous post explains why I use oat bran rather than bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or oatmeal as the binder in my meatloaf and meatballs. Here is my regular meatloaf recipe. If you want to make meatballs, this mixture works beautifully in that application; directions are at the end of this post.
Moist Meat Loaf
1 lb. ground meat (beef, turkey, bison, venison—all are good)
½ cup chopped onions
1 seeded, chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large or extra-large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup milk
½ cup oat bran (secret ingredient!)
2 tablespoons dehydrated veggie flakes (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt (or more to your taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (or more to your taste)
1-3 teaspoons crushed dried oregano (I like lots of herbage)
1-3 teaspoons crushed dried parsley
Saute onions, peppers, and garlic in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until tender. Set aside to cool. In a medium sized bowl, gently mix ground meat, egg, milk, oat bran, herbs, and seasonings. Mix in sautéed vegetables. Press gently into bottom of bowl.
If I am using a fatty meat, I like to cook my meatloaf on a rack so that the fat drains off the meat as it roasts. If you are using a ground beef with 10% or less fat content, you don’t need to use a rack. But for 80/20 or 70/30 grinds (ratio of lean meat to fat), a rack should be used. Line a 13 X 9 inch cake pan or a cookie sheet with foil for easier clean-up later and place rack over top. Spray with cooking spray or grease with vegetable shortening or oil to prevent meatloaf from sticking to rack or foil. If you are using a lean meat, you can place the meatloaf directly on the foil-lined pan. Do not ever cook a meatloaf in a loaf pan. The meat does not roast when confined in a loaf pan and both texture and flavor will be affected negatively.
Turn bowl upside down over rack or pan and unmold meatloaf. If you are using a rack, leave the meatloaf in this mound shape. If you try to form it into a loaf on the rack, you will have sticking issues when you try to serve it. The mound shape produces a variety of lengths when sliced, which works out fine for families with small children or those with smaller appetites. If you unmound the meatloaf onto a greased, foil-lined pan, you can mold it into the traditional loaf shape.
Some people like to add a sauce to the top of the meatloaf at this point, traditionally, ketchup. I prefer not to add a sauce until the top of the meatloaf has browned. I think this produces better flavor, so I add my sauce or glaze in the last 15-20 minutes of cooking. And I’ve come up with a delicious glaze that is way better than plain ketchup. See below.
Bake uncovered for 60 to 75 minutes at 375 degrees, or until meat juices run clear.
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Mix together. Brush on meat in last 15-20 minutes of cooking time.
For meat balls:
Form meat mixture into 1 ½ inch balls. Place on foil-lined cookie sheet and roast at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until browned. Remove from oven and finish cooking in a pot of Italian Red Sauce. Meatballs in sauce can be served alone or tossed with cooked pasta of your choice.
Last year, I used my leftover Thanksgiving turkey in Green Turkey Enchiladas. (For that recipe, follow the link to my post from last Thanksgiving, and as a bonus, there’s a delicious way in this previous post to use up leftover pumpkin pie.)
This year, I decided to make Green Turkey Burritos. Burritos are easier to freeze individually, and that was important this year. I’m putting up meals in the freezer in preparation for shoulder surgery that’s going to put me out of commission for several weeks.
I’m using up my leftover turkey breast meat in these Green Turkey Burritos. Green turkey anything might sound a little weird but these things are oh, so good. If you made any green tomato salsa, this is an excellent way to use it and take care of your Thanksgiving leftovers. You can also use a store-bought salsa verde in this recipe.
I make gluten-free tortillas for myself, and use store-bought flour tortillas for Dennis, and I make up a bag for each of us. The burritos are wrapped in waxed paper, which doesn’t stick to the tortillas when frozen like plastic wrap sometimes does, but which must be removed before heating. I write a note on the bag to this effect, because I don’t trust Dennis to remember if I just tell him!
Here’s the gluten-free tortilla recipe I use, followed by the Green Turkey filling recipe which can be used for individual burritos or a pan of enchiladas. Follow the directions here, if you wish to make enchiladas.
Gluten Free Tortillas
2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend of choice (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons vegetable shortening (or lard, if you have it)
½–1 cup warm water (about 100°F)
Place flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt in a food processor and mix well. Add 4 teaspoons shortening and pulse to combine. Pour in warm water a little at a time in a slow, steady stream, pulsing to combine until dough comes together in a ball. I usually use about 1/2 cup of water.
With wet hands, divide dough into 6 pieces and roll into ball. With rolling pin, roll each piece separately between two sheets of rice-flour dusted plastic wrap until about 1/8-inch thick and 8 inches wide.
Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet. Peel plastic wrap off one side of tortilla, then flip the tortilla over your hand and peel off the other piece of plastic wrap. (You can reuse these for the rest of the tortillas.) When the skillet is hot, place a raw tortilla flat in the skillet, one at a time. Cook until bubbles appear (about 30 seconds), then flip and cook another 30 seconds or until very lightly browned. (Under-cooking a little is better than over-cooking, especially if you intend to roll them for burritos or enchiladas.) Remove from pan and place on a plate, layering sheets of waxed paper between each tortilla. Continue until all tortillas are cooked.
For Green Turkey Burritos:
If using the gluten-free tortillas above, fill and roll while still warm and pliable. If you wish, you may use 1 pkg. of store bought flour tortillas. The recipe below fills 10-12 medium-sized tortillas, so I always make some burritos or enchiladas for me with the gluten-free tortillas and use the rest of the filling in flour tortillas for Dennis.
Green Turkey Burrito or Enchilada Filling
3 cups chopped turkey, light or dark meat or mixed
2 cups blended salsa verde (1 pint jar)
1 cup chopped onions
1 small can sliced black olives
2 cups shredded cheese (l like a mix of Monterey jack and pepper jack)
Mix all ingredients together. Place a tortilla on a square of waxed paper. Fill each tortilla with 3-4 tablespoons of meat/cheese filling. Roll up like a burrito. (I don’t fold in the ends on the gluten-free tortillas because they just aren’t large enough or flexible enough). Roll waxed paper around burrito, tucking in ends. Place burritos in freezer bag and freeze.
To heat and serve, take burrito out of bag, unwrap waxed paper, and if microwaving, place on plate and heat in microwave under cover (you can use the waxed paper) for 2-3 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with a little more shredded cheese, if desired, and serve with sour cream, guacamole, or more salsa verde.
I prefer these heated in the oven. Heat oven to 375, unwrap burrito, and place on heat-proof pie plate. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake until burrito is hot through, and cheese is melted. Serve with accompaniments as above.
One of these burritos alone makes a good lunch. For dinner, serve with black beans squeezed with a lime wedge and a salad.