Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Food Questions First

I'm going to start answering some of your questions.

"I was wondering what kind of bread you eat. I know the stuff made with rice flour is like a rock. I am very interested in your gluten-free experiences."

I've kind of just stopped eating bread. The other day I had a cheeseburger on top of some salad instead of on a roll. I stopped eating sandwiches and switched to salads and that's probably healthier anyway. I eat hummus, cheeses, spreads and things like tuna and chicken salad on rice crackers or Blue Diamond Pecan Thins, which are exceptionally yummy.

My other bread alternative is Yoki Pao de Queijo. This is a Brazilian staple. Of course they probably make homemade cheese puffs in Brazil, but I like the Yoki mix. Because of the great diversity we have here in South Florida, all Publix stores have a Brazilian section, so these are always available to me and, made with tapioca, they are naturally gluten free. They have a wonderful, glutenous, stretchy, chewy texture and are crispy on the outside. I absolutely love them. Husband spent a lot of time in Brazil and is very familiar with the culture and cuisine and he introduced these things to me way back when even when I could eat bread. He learned that a way to improve the mix is to make it with milk instead of water and to add a handful of sharp, grated cheese. I don't always add extra cheese, but it doesn't hurt. Once the cheese puffs are done I split them open and make little sandwiches with them. Or I just eat them plain because they are yummy on their own too.

Once we experimented with a gluten free sandwich bread mix from Whole Foods and that was really good too, but I got sick afterwards. I don't know if it was the bread or something else. It may have been a coincidence. In any event, it tasted pretty good when it came out of the oven, but I put a lot of butter on it. Husband said it was gross. I liked it.

Other than that, I don't care that much about bread. I confess that a couple weeks ago I had a slice of pizza but it freaked me out and I only ate half of it. I didn't get sick at the time, but I don't want to chance it.

Maria asked me if I could recommend some good cookbooks for a starter cook and I definitely can. I have never gone wrong with a single recipe from the Barefoot Contessa. All of her recipes that I've tried have been simply explained and have turned out perfectly. I am less happy with her Paris cookbook because it has a lot of foods in it that I don't really like, but I have practically worn my Barefoot Contessa Family Style and Parties to shreds.

After that my second favorite cookbook, and I almost hate to admit this, is Everyday Italian. I have made so much fun of Giada deLaurentiis over the years - the way she looks like a bobble head, how annoyingly perfect she is, her porny soundtrack and weirdly erotic closeups of her hands as well as the way she always seems so pissed off and uncomfortable on "The Today Show." I especially loved making fun of how mad she seemed to be about being pregnant and how on one episode she almost had a heart attack when Ann Curry handed her an actual, live baby and made her hold it. At my old job we used to watch her show in the office and we called her "Big Head." The woman really has a big head on an eeny weeny body. She looks like every South Florida trophy wife; anorexic, with a big fake rack and a Tang tinted tan, but dammit, the girl can cook. And all of her recipes are exactly the sorts of things that I most enjoy eating. I've made most of the recipes in Everyday Italian and they've all been easy and came out well. Some of them, like her caponata, I make regularly. At the moment I've been coveting her new book Giada's Kitchen, but instead of buying it I've been getting the recipes free off the Food Network.

I hope these suggestions have helped.


Eric said...

Pat Wells has a very nice French Provincial Cook book that we use so much the cover has the stove burner rings burnt into it(We went gas 5 years ago) the pages are dog eared and tinted with bits of food and oil etc from whatever the recipe is on the page.
I particularly like the herb roasted chicken and the salt crusted fish recipes.

Anonymous said...

For a starter cook, you can't beat The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. It's really helpful to have detailed instructions on techniques with illustrations or photos, including photos of all the finished dishes.

Once you are past the basics, the Silver Palate cookbooks (including confusingly The New Basics, which isn't basic, but the authors had sold the Silver Palate and could no longer use the words in the title) are great since they not only give recipes but give enough info on specific ingredients for a more experienced cook to head off on his or her own.

But frankly today you could easily make do with the first title since its handy having all the techniques in one place. And then when you want a new recipe just do a google search on a couple of the key ingredients and the word recipe.

Another alternative would be to pay for a subscription to for their well-tested recipes and info, including videos, on technique. But you do have to pay for full access.

- lowwall

Unknown said...

Thank you for answering my question.

Anonymous said...


Since you are here on the west coast, wave to me as you pass the exit for Bonita Beach Road.

Wave towards the east, or I won't see you.

Enjoy your down time with hubby.

I'll have to send you my most favorite recipe for lentils. It is great by itself, or as a side dish to something grilled, like salmon, or chicken or a bit of spicy sausage. More liquid and it becomes soup. You cannot be more versatile than that!

I'm making a big pot tomorrow for my hubby who arrives later on. Yippee!

Wide Lawns said...

Pat, please email me the recipe at I am very fond of lentils.

Anonymous said...

Hey, stop off my Giada! She's my favorite on the food network. For some reason, Ina has always rubbed me the wrong way.

Unknown said...

Have you checked out the website She has some great recipes for bread alternatives, such as Arepas, which are delicious!

Diana said...

I'm just laughing right now because every time you post something about your personal life it turns out to be something similar to my own. Even our fridges are similarly arranged (and all lined up inside!) So for a long time I've been wondering if you cook from the Barefoot Contessa books, and here you go posting about them. -grin- I'm unfamiliar with Giada though, so I've added a couple of her books to my wishlist and we shall see!

Tere said...

Pao de queijo is like the best thing ever. There used to be a Brazilian bakery down here that made delicious ones. I'm going to have to try this mix!

MtnMama said...

Ok, so now I am really interested to know what you think of Nigella Lawson. I adore her voice and her manner on NPR, but I've hestitated to buy her cookbooks yet because I heard there was a problem with the conversion of measurements.


Anonymous said...

Hello! I love the way you write about food!
In Colombia they have what they call pan de yuca, which I think is similar to the brazilian one you mentioned. If you have the opportunity to visit a colombian bakery in Florida I would definitely recommend it! A lot of their items are gluten free.

Anonymous said...

I always read your blog and love how you write, what you write and I also love food. I'll also agree that I love everything Ina Garten cooks and her recipes are great for the at home cook. I'm also a big fan of Giada's cooking as well...and on top of her great cooking and and great genes, I also believe that her enormous rack is REAL. sigh.

Alessandra said...

Pão de queijo! Oh, I become a patriot when discussing pão de queijo, one of the main reasons I like being brazillian.

To give you other brazillian alternatives for breakfast, have you ever tried beiju de tapioca? Husband told you about them, maybe? Really easy to make, delicious and versatile. I like them best with cheese or only butter, but condensed milk and coconut is a popular combination.

Here is how to make it:

Anonymous said...

Love your comments on Giada, and I have also enjoyed her recipes that I have tried. Same with Ina - although the "lifestyle" part of her show is extremely annoying. I like Tyler Florence a lot - think I might try his bolognese recipe for dinner tonight, it sounds nice and hearty and the veg daughter will be out:)

Anonymous said...

This lady has some great recipes!

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