Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Salmon Pasta Salad

For the past some days, I've been staying at an adult family home-type house, and functioning as the sole staff person. I've had the opportunity to try out a some meals that I might not make at home where there are just the two of us. There are just some things that I can only make a vat of (too many years spent feeding a largish family!). I really like to have leftovers, too, I really do. If I can make a dinner for a group and have enough left over to feed them lunch the next day, score! My job just got easier.

***note on mayonnaise: Unless you are avoiding eggs as well as dairy products, mayo is perfectly fine for the non-dairy eater. I know, it's white like milk, but there is no milk in it, honest! I've run into this misconception too many times to count, so thought I'd just mention it here. Ingredients in Best Foods mayonnaise, which is the brand they have here at the home: Soybean oil, water, whole eggs and egg yolks, vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice, calcium disodium (what? Do we really want to eat that?), and natural flavors.

I've made my own mayonnaise many times through the years. No to the water (what? Second ingredient, they are just stretching it), no to the disodium stuff. Everything else I put in, with the addition of some dry mustard. If you have a blender or food processor, it's very easy to make.***

Salmon Pasta Salad (picture later, forgot the camera)

1 pound package of whole wheat rotini pasta. (I get mine at Trader Joe's, superior quality, and very inexpensive), cooked in lightly salted water, drained.

2 cups (at least, you may prefer more) cooked salmon. Canned is just fine (and if you shop at Costco, it's reasonably priced, as well), but drain it well.

two bunches of chopped green onions (about a half cup when chopped), with green tops.

¼ c minced onion (regular variety, I just wanted more onion than I had)

½ to ¾ c sliced and quartered zucchini (I used two small ones)

¾ c sliced celery

¾ tsp Grill Shakers for Seafood (brand name is "The Spice Hunter") It's a very tasty blend of sea salt, onion, orange peel, ginger, sesame seeds, pepper, coriander, peppermint, cardamom, cilantro, citric acid and orange oil.

1 tsp garlic powder (or more or less, to taste)

Mayonnaise (start with a half cup, and then add, or not, until the consistency satisfies)

First, cook your pasta. No need to cool it before using. After draining, run a little cold water over it, to keep the gluten from forming up and making it stick together. After draining again for a few minutes, dump your pasta into a really big bowl.

Add your salmon, breaking up any big pieces. Add all the veggies, as well as any others you might have on hand and want to use (this can be one of those great 'kitchen sink' recipes). Add spices. Mix well at this point, and then add your mayo. Everyone likes their mayonnaise amounts different, so just put in the amount that makes it 'right' for you. At a ½ cup, it will be thinly distributed, and that happens to be the way I like it.

Eat warm, or refrigerate and let those flavors mingle for a while. Great pot luck dish!

This dish is easy to cut in half (kinda makes you wonder why I never do that myself, doesn't it?

I originally put chopped bell pepper in this, but I don't recommend it. I had a bowl (and it's SO good)(except for bell pepper), and spent some time picking them back out. They jar, not good.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pot Luck Main Dish, oh no!

Pot lucks are the place where everyone comes to show off their best casserole, dessert or salad. We no-dairy people are lucky if we can find one or two things to eat here, or even worse, for our hungry children to eat.
I rapidly tired of having to corner people with "which dish is yours? What is in it?". Short of just arriving with a bag lunch (which I have done), I resorted to volunteering (no, insisting) that I bring a main dish. Here is a dish that I have made many times, and is always well received. So well, in fact, that there have been times when I have made my way through the line to find that it was all gone before I got there! Solution: double this recipe and use a really large dish (pyrex 1ox15" oblong casserole). The real beauty of this dish is that it is easy, can be made with items easy to keep on hand, and can be made quickly when you are in a hurry.
Writing all this down has presented some interesting problems. For instance, I am one of those cooks who just throws things in. How much basil? Uh, take the shaker (yes, I use basil so often, it's in a shaker on the back of the stove), and shake it over the surface until it 'looks right'. That's not going to work! Here goes anyhow:

Cornbread Topped Tamale Casserole
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp garlic, chopped (or more, I like more)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey (or beef, etc)
1 15oz can of whole kernel corn, drained
1 15oz can of kidney beans, drained, rinsed
1 10oz can condensed tomato soup
1 4.25oz chopped olives
1 tsp chopped dried basil
1 tsp mild chili powder
2 whole bay leaves
1 8.5oz box "Jiffy" corn muffin mix
1 egg
10x10" casserole with at least 2" tall sides, a
large cast iron frying pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a large saute or frying pan (a large size cast iron frying pan is ideal, as it can go straight from the stovetop to the oven), heat olive oil and saute all fresh vegetables until they are soft. Add ground meat, separating meat into small pieces. Saute until thoroughly until there is not even a hint of pinkness in the meat. If you are using turkey or chicken here, you are ready for the next step. If you are using ground beef, you will need to remove the residual fat from the pan before you proceed.

Add the drained corn and kidney beans, condensed tomato soup (don't dilute it!) and chopped olives. Stir until everything is well combined (medium high seems to work well for this), and once it's bubbling away nicely, add the basil, chili powder and basil leaves. Turn down to low, and after putting on the lid, let it simmer for half an hour. However, if you are in a tearing hurry (and who isn't sometimes), this dish will still turn out well if it goes straight into the casserole dish right now (or stays right in the pan, if you are using cast iron).

Place into the casserole pan. Using a spatula or the back of a large spoon, flatten the mixture until it is as level as possible. Bake for about one half hour, and then remove casserole. This another good place to cut corners on time. If you really don't have much time, skip this 30 minute bake. It will still be good.

In a medium bowl, place the corn muffin mix, one egg (without the shell of course), and 1/3 cup water. Yes, I know the box says to use milk, but I use water. If I happen to have an open box of soy milk or almond milk, I use that, but the water works just fine. Mix well, and pour carefully over the surface of the meat/vegetable mixture. Using a spatula, smooth the cornbread as evenly across the top as you can, but don't obsess. And don't stir!

Place the casserole into the oven. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes. The casserole is done when the cornbread topping is lightly browned.

Let cool to less 'burn your skin' hot, cover with foil (not plastic), and away you go!

This recipe can easily be doubled, but if you do, use at least a 10x15" baking pan.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

And With a Wave of my Soybean~

I've been cooking without any sort of dairy for over thirty years now. During that time I've come up with a lot of tricks, accommodations, and accumulated knowledge in the ways avoiding products of the cow. I'm going to post recipes, lists of dairy-free products that can be obtained easily, tips for eating out, and whatever else I think of as I go along. This will not be an egg free area. Eggs and milk are often lumped together, but as proteins go, they are entirely different. Of course, if a dish or product is both dairy and egg-free, woo hoo! So much the better!

I see a website in my future....