Monthly Archives: May 2015

Shrimp Pad Thai – gluten & dairy free


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This dish is naturally gluten free and probably one of Thailand’s better-known noodle dishes. It’s not a quick dish, but the reward at the end is a delicious, brightly flavored meal.

Serves 4

8 oz. (1/4 in) dried flat rice noodles

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup lime juice (I needed 4 limes)

3 tablespoons fish sauce

3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (I used light)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

12 oz medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails and heads removed

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 large eggs, slightly beaten (I like eggs – add a third if you do too)

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons chopped unsalted roasted peanuts

6 oz. bean sprouts (approx 3 cups)

5 scallions, sliced thin on the bias

Lime wedges

Fresh cilantro leaves

Sriracha sauce

1. Cover noodles with VERY hot tap water in a large bowl and stir to separate. Let noodles soak until softened and limp but not fully tender. About 20 minutes. The noodles tend to stick together, you might need to pull them apart by hand. Drain. In separate bowl, whisk water, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, and 2 tablespoons oil together. I let the noodles stand in the water until I was finished with the balance of the prep work.

2. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-in nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add shrimp in single layer and cook until they begin to brown. Stir until just pink around the edges, transfer to a bowl. Don’t overcook. The shrimp will continue to cook once removed.

3. Add remaining tablespoon oil and garlic to the empty skillet and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 seconds. Stir in eggs and salt and cook, stirring vigorously, until eggs are scrambled.

4. Add drained noodles and fish sauce mixture. Increase heat to high and cook, tossing gently, until noodles are evenly coated. Add cooked shrimp, 1/4 peanuts, bean sprouts, and 3/4 of the scallions. Continue to cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are tender. You might need to add a little more water to the pan. Noodles should be tender in under 5 minutes, so watch it.

5. Transfer noodles to serving platter and sprinkle with remaining peanuts and remaining scallions. Serve passing lime wedges, cilantro, and Sriracha separately.

I took the shrimp heads and dredged them in rice flour and fried them for about 5 minutes at 360 degrees using Canola oil. Personally, I love fried shrimp heads and the added crunch to this dish made me happy.

Respect the Chef

I am very respectful of restaurants, the time it takes to prep for service, and a chef’s commitment to creating and preparing menus. Whenever a guest wants to substitute an ingredient I tend to cringe internally. I know a chef has spent time developing flavors in the dish and it is intended to be served as envisioned, tested, and tasted. This is why when I dine at a restaurant, I will ask if something can be prepared without dairy, and if not, I’ll generally find something else. I leave it up to the chef to make adjustments. In turn, if an ingredient is going to be left off a dish because it was prepped in dairy, something should be added. Being thoughtful is a two-way effort.

Dairy & Gluten Free Popovers


Popovers are a delightful quick bread that should be made right before serving. They are airy and delicious. The recipe below makes 1/2 dozen. From start to finish, roughly 45 minutes, and worth every second.

Popovers (one dozen)

Note: You can make the batter in advance and keep it refrigerated for up to a couple of days. Bring it up to room temperature before pouring into the pan.

Special equipment: Popover pan. This looks like a muffin pan, with the base being more narrow than the top, roughly 3 inches tall.

1 cup King Arthur’s gluten free flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup Rice Milk (I’ve also used Almond Milk)

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon unsalted butter substitute (not margarine), I use Earth Balance

1. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat to 450 degrees. Place the popover pan in the oven to heat while you make the batter.

2. Whisk four and salt together in a medium bowl.

3. In a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, lightly whisk together milk, eggs, and butter. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients all at once and whisk until just blended. Pour batter back into the measuring cup for easy pouring.

4. Remove hot pan from oven; lightly grease interior of each cup and the pan rim.

5. Fill each cup half-full with batter. Bake without opening the oven door for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake until popovers are brown in color, about 15-20 minutes longer. Serve warm.

Food Allergies Exist

As a kid, I wasn’t allergic to anything. I rarely got sick, and pretty much had no childhood illness. The question remains as to whether or not I got the chicken pox. According to my mother, my brother had it and it was awful for him. So many soars, the raging fever, and the all around misery associated with it. On the other hand, I had the fever, and but for one random pox on my thumb (all assumed it was a pox), I showed no other symptoms. I recovered quickly.

This was the theme of my childhood. I was healthy.

At some point in my late 20s to early 30s I developed an allergy to dairy products (eggs are not dairy). Specifically a protein found in all mammals milk called casein. It took awhile to figure out.

I had a chronic cough. Not a small cough that could be contained or excused away at parties, but a deep cough that would continue for minutes on end, leading to my eyes watering, difficulty breathing, and intermittent apologies to those around me whenever possible. I couldn’t sleep without coughing. I was afraid to attend social functions that required silence. Meetings at work were stressful. Everyone wondered if I had something contagious. And as it turned out, so did a few Doctors.

Test after test after test resulted in nothing. I was accused of being a smoker. I have never smoked a day in my life. I was accused of being around smokers. That too, was not the case. I was accused of lying about my habits. In the end, after months of visiting varying professionals, I was told I needed to go on steroids. I declined. I didn’t want to just address the symptom, I wanted to find out why, and fix it.

One night while out with friends, one of which was an ENT out of Hopkins as well as an allergist, I was asked how long I’d been coughing. The comment was, you still have that cough, how long has it been. Eight months I replied, with full on sadness erupting from my eyes.

The ENT Doctor friend said in the simplest of terms, that generally, when an adult has a chronic symptom that seems to defy explanation, it can be tied to a food allergy. The most common is milk. He suggested I cut it out of my diet and see what happens. Two weeks later the cough was gone. A month later I got tested and found I was positive for a dairy allergy. This was a life changing moment.

My eureka food moment was happening at a time when being lactose intolerant was starting to gain traction in the media. Generally, the assumption was I was intolerant versus allergic, even when I explained otherwise. It became a problem when going out to eat. And for whatever reason, I felt the need to apologize for it. That, thankfully, is no longer the case.

It is important to accept that people do have food allergies. And even though some believe that claiming to be allergic to dairy or gluten is more diet focused, the allergies do exist, and a person who has the allergy will get very sick if they ingest the food, even in small amounts. It can affect ones immune system. The results of ingesting the food can last for days.

Think of it as poisoning someone. That is how I have started to describe it. Please don’t poison me. I know I am very specific when explaining my allergy. All I ask is you listen, communicate it correctly to the chef and double check to make sure the order is correct before bringing it to me. I love food. I want to enjoy it, always. And if you’re a restaurant and do it right, I will be back time and again.