Guest Post: Confessions of a Starch-a-holic

GF Chef Bennett at OCKey with Salmon

I am pleased to share a post from my guest, Chef Michael Bennett, author of 3 cookbooks, blogger, and chef at Bimini Boatyard in Fort Lauderdale.

GF Chef Bennett also lived in the Caribbean for four years, his newest book, “Culture of Cuisine” is coming soon and he has re-released “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks” to be 100% GlutenFree. Chef Bennett offers up two recipes from his cookbook as well as some net gluten-free food tips. His cookbooks contain in-laid QR codes(Quick Response codes) for people to use their smartphones to link to websites to buy GF products and to find interesting information about other terms, techniques or curiosities. Isn’t that awesome?

What interests me about him is his love for the Caribbean and I’m so excited to learn more about him and check out his books. I got married in Jamaica 10 years ago, and it’s an amazing place, especially the non-tourist regions. Once you get into the mountains, you end up with food that’s savory, different, fun.

View from the Hotel Chef Bennett worked in St. Croix - there's a job for ya!

View from the Hotel Chef Bennett worked in St. Croix

You can find more about Chef Bennett at FoodBrats and purchase his books:
“Underneath a Cloudless Sky” ISBN: 978-0-615-328775-1
In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks
and coming soon: “Culture of Cuisine” ISBN: 978-145-078300-2
on Amazon or his website: FoodBrats

If you like what you read, he has a site on Examiner as well: http://www.examiner.com/cooking-in-miami/michael-bennett

So, without further ado, please enjoy gluten-free Chef Bennet’s article “Confessions of a Starch-a-holic” and a couple scrumptions recipes.

Recipe is from this book "In the Land of Misfits, Pirates, and Cooks"


Confessions of a Starch-a-holic
— GF Chef Michael Bennett:
I sometimes feel like I am in a multi-step rehab program. Why I have changed to gluten free recipes is one of simplicity. I was a Starch-a-holic for most of my life; my new recipe testing for my cookbook “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks” brought me to a realization that this could be as good for me as it was easy to perfect.

Living with teenage girls has brought a lot of dining fads to our household. After my daughter insisted we turn vegan and, after living the lifestyle for a little while, I felt generally better overall. I also found that my years of living with acid reflux was caused by eating red meat. It never hurts to try new things in your life!

My new emphasis on dining healthier now comes from the daily barrage of requests by guests at my current post as the chef of Bimini Boatyard (on 17th Street Cswy. in Fort Lauderdale). Starting about a year and a half ago, I was getting requests from my guests querying whether or not my menu recipes were gluten free and because I developed a majority of the menu cooking over a wood fire grill, my answer was “yes of course”.

Since the 1990′s, all of my new recipes have been based on heart-healthy Spa Cuisine inspired yet, I never planned on creating a gluten free menu. It naturally coexists when you cook with all natural ingredients, and use a wood-fire grill.

Starting with food in their most basic form and adding very little in the way of fillers led to produce a gluten-free diet. I have found that when you start off with raw foods, not pre-packaged foods from the marketplace, you control the final outcome of your dinner.

Planning for family meals seems simple if you are looking to cook gluten-free. Stay away from fillers and (sauce) thickeners. Check labels on the things you buy – which save cooking steps in your kitchen. Most times fillers are hidden in the prepared food products. An example is occasionally an inferior soy sauce is brewed with wheat to counteract the harshness of soybeans that are processed in a quick fermentation process by the manufacturer.

Naturally, if you buy a convenience product: frozen entrée, pre-cooked and ready to warm and serve, it might have been gelled or cooked with an addition of gluten-rich thickener; or paired with another food product that has gluten. Check labels on canned and jarred foods, gluten hides in the simplest of places. Your favorite ice cream is sometimes even made with an addition of flour used in the ice cream base as a thickener for the frozen treat.

Rather than buying out of the prepared food aisles, go straight to the produce and fresh fish aisle.

Here is a recipe to help you on your way to a tasty gluten-free dinner:

Charoltte Amalie Wahoo


CHAROLETTE AMAILE WAHOO
SERVES: 6
SIMPLY ELEGANT AND ITS DEPTH IN TASTE EQUALS THAT OF THE PORT FOR WHICH IT IS NAMED. THE RECIPE IS IN TWO STEPS. THE SAUCE, SIMPLY MADE IN A FOOD PROCESSOR, CAN BE MADE DAYS AHEAD OF TIME AND KEPT IN THE REFRIGERATOR UNTIL YOU WANT TO USE IT.

INGREDIENTS:
3 LBS. WAHOO, EVENLY DIVIDED INTO 6 PORTIONS
1/2 CUP CARAMEL MOP, SEE RECIPE BELOW
AS NEEDED SALT AND WHITE PEPPER, 5:1 RATIO-MIXED
2 TBS. THAI PEANUT SAUCE DRY MIX, FOUND IN ASIAN MARKETS
1 CUP PLANTAIN CHIPS, FOUND IN LATINO GROCERY MARKETS
AS NEEDED OIL
3 CUP YUCCA PIECES, 1/2 INCH CHOPPED, BLANCHED IN BOILING SALTED WATER, DRAIN
1 EACH RED BELL PEPPER, ROASTED AND CHOPPED ROUGHLY
1 EACH SHALLOT, CHOPPED
2 EACH GARLIC KERNELS, FINELY CHOPPED
2 BUNCH PENCIL ASPARAGUS, BLANCHED IN SALTED WATER

DIRECTIONS:
DUST THE WAHOO WITH A LITTLE OF THE SALT AND PEPPER MIXTURE. LET REST IN THE REFRIGERATOR, WHILE YOU ARE DOING THE OTHER PARTS OF THIS RECIPE. GRIND THE PLANTAINS INTO A MEAL WITH A FOOD PROCESSOR. ADD IN THE THAI PEANUT SAUCE BASE MIXTURE. MIX WELL. USE ON TOP THE WAHOO AFTER GRILLING AND GLAZING.

OVER HOT COALS, GRILL THE WAHOO FILLET FOR 3 MINUTES PER 1 INCH OF THICKNESS ON ONE SIDE AND THEN FLIP AND COOK 3 MINUTES MORE ON THE OTHER SIDE, GLAZING WITH THE CARAMEL MOP AFTER IT COOKS. DUST WITH THE THAI PEANUT-PLANTAIN MIXTURE ON THE TOP OF THE FILLETS OF WAHOO AFTER THE SECOND SIDE IS COOKED. KEEP IN A WARM OVEN.

NEXT, SAUTE THE SHALLOTS AND GARLIC QUICKLY, ADD THE YUCCA AND CONTINUE TO COOK ABOUT THREE MINUTES. TOSS IN THE PEPPERS AND SAUTE (”TO JUMP”) TO DISTRIBUTE THEM IN THE PAN. PRESS THE YUCCA INTO A 4 OR 5 INCH RING MOLD IN THE CENTER OF THE PLATE (SEE PICTURE). REMOVE THE MOLD AND SET THE WAHOO ON TOP. ENCIRCLE THIS PRESENTATION WITH MORE OF THE CARAMEL MOP SAUCE. ARRANGE THE ASPARAGUS AROUND THE YUCCA, POINTING OUT TO THE EDGES OF THE PLATE LIKE THE HANDS OF A CLOCK.

2ND PART OF THE RECIPE:
CARAMEL MOP
SERVES: 25
ONE OF MY FAVORITE “MOPS” FOR GRILLED NY STRIP STEAKS AND RICHLY FLAVORED FISH FILLETS LIKE MAHI MAHI, WAHOO, ESCOLAR AND SALMON. MAKE THIS LARGE RECIPE BECAUSE YOU WILL FIND A LOT OF OTHER FOOD TO USE IT ON.

INGREDIENTS
12 OZ. COCA-COLA, REDUCED TO A SYRUP
4 OZ. ESPRESSO
4 OZ. GARLIC, ROASTED, CHOPPED
6 OZ. SHALLOTS, CHOPPED
2 OZ. APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE
3 OZ. KAHLUA LIQUOR
3 OZ. SOY SAUCE
2 OZ. BALSAMIC VINEGAR
1 OZ. FRANGELICO LIQUOR
1 OZ. TRIPLE SEC
5 OZ. PICK A PEPPA SAUCE, OR CAN FIND IN ANY LOCAL CARIBBEAN MARKET
2 TBS. BLACK PEPPER
2 TBS. SEASALT
2 TBS. XANTHAN GUM

INSTRUCTIONS:
IN A SMALL PAN, BRING 12 OZ. OF COCA-COLA TO A BOIL AND LET THIS VOLUME REDUCE BY 2/3. ADD THE NEXT 10 ITEMS TO THE POT AND LET SIMMER FOR 5 MINUTES. REMOVE FROM THE HEAT AND COOL. PLACE IN A FOOD PROCESSOR AND GRIND WELL UNTIL EVERYTHING IS PULVERIZED INTO A SLURRY. ADD THE THICKENER SLOWLY TO THIS MIX AND PLACE IN A SQUIRT BOTTLE.
TO USE:
DRIZZLE THIS “MOP” (SAUCE) OVER TOP ANY GRILLED POULTRY, PORK, BEEF OR BABY BACK RIB AND BRUSH ALL AROUND THE FOOD AS IT IS COOKING ATOP THE GRILL.
IT IS USED HERE ON WAHOO….SEE ABOVE.

The recipe comes from Chef Michael Bennett’s cookbook: “In the Land of Misfits, Pirates and Cooks”, ISBN: 978-0615-29778-1. A 180 page, 125 plus gluten-free Caribbean-inspired recipe cookbook. Available at Amazon and on Chef Michael’s website: Foodbrats

My final comment: Thank you Chef Bennett for the Gluten-Free tips for people new to gluten-free, reminders to us all, and a fantastic looking recipe. I can’t wait to try it. Readers, thank you as always for reading, and let me know if you try this recipe or if you’ve owned his cookbooks!”

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