This post is linked to the Friday Foodie Fix–Chicken over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang and Slightly Indulgent Mondays over at Amy’s Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.
Chocolats Noir de Domaine
A few days ago I came home to find a package by the mailbox. The label showed it was from “Chocosphere.” Chocosphere? Chocosphere! YES! Had I died and gone to heaven? Happily, that’s the way I felt. While I had been expecting a package, I hadn’t remembered that it would come from the Chocosphere. Oh my. I’ve always said I’d never relocate, but now that I know Chocosphere exists … hmmm.
Right before Valentine’s Day, I had commented on my friend Cathy’s blog, Noble Pig, like I do almost every day. Yes, you read that right … I comment almost every day because, amazingly, Cathy blogs almost every single day. Her blog, Noble Pig, is a true delight. She shares stories about life with her husband, The Wild Boar, and her boys, the Hooligans. She shares phenomenal recipes—most of which are naturally GF or can easily be made so—with mouthwatering, step-by-step, fabulous photos. She shares her wisdom on wine, but in a very helpful, non-snooty way (which is certainly the way I prefer to get my wine advice). In fact, Cathy and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery in Oregon—no small task, especially since they currently reside in California.
Cathy’s blog is so enjoyable and popular that she’s had 3.5 million visitors in a year’s time! Wow, huh? To celebrate Noble Pig’s one-year milestone, she had a giveaway of Valrhona chocolate, specifically Chocolats Noir de Domaine, as a token of appreciation to her readers. When I checked back on Valentine’s Day, the morning before our party, I found out I had won. Yippee!! Boy, that news was exciting and energizing at a time I needed energy in a big way. Are you familiar with Valrhona? I was not before reading Cathy’s blog, but I am now. Cathy shares the details on Varlhona’s Chocolats Noir de Domaine here, stating her favorite of the three bars was Palmira. I totally agreed with her. Perhaps it was due to the subtle yet wonderful honey aspect of the Palmira. You guys already know my preference for honey. Thanks again, Cathy, for such an exquisite treat and long live the Noble Pig!
Although I’d seen the photos on Noble Pig, it was quite something holding this fine chocolate in my hands in its handsome presentation box and packaging. Of course, the next question was if the Varlhona’s Chocolats Noir de Domaine were gluten free. Many fine chocolates are gluten free (without malt or wheat ingredients like cookie bits and such added, of course), but some like Godiva will not state they are GF because of cross contamination possibilities. The back of the packaging for each bar contained the same statement (in both French and English): “This product may contain traces of nuts, milk and egg proteins, gluten and peanut.” The ingredients listed were nothing of concern, so Varlhona seemed to be stating the possibility of cross contamination.
At this juncture, one must always make a judgment call. And, I’ll be the first to tell you that the call I make is not the same each time. The factors vary, so my choice varies. The need to weigh many factors for most processed foods is one of the reasons I choose to eat GFE most of the time. With real food and simple recipes you make from that food, you are much more confident about what you are eating. (Obviously, that holds true whether you are gluten free or not.) Well, you know which choice I made this time because I already told you that I really enjoyed the Palmira. While I didn’t have an obvious reaction to any of the bars we sampled, we all know that does not mean necessarily that a product is 100% gluten free. My husband and I shared what we ate of the chocolate, too, so I wasn’t eating a huge amount at one time either—another possible factor if gluten was, in fact, present in this chocolate. If the chocolate did contain some gluten, was the amount less than 20 parts per million (ppm)—the proposed FDA standard for “gluten-free” status? Or perhaps any gluten was less than 10 ppm, the standard used by the Gluten Intolerance Group’s Certification Organization (GFCO) before a product gets the GF label.
By the way, along these lines, some both interesting and alarming data came out of information submitted to the Food and Drug Administration when it was collecting input for use in developing its standard for “gluten-free” status on a product. (You probably know that the standard remains proposed, but not yet set officially.) Most likely the following information will be the subject for a more in-depth discussion on another day, but the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) presented data that showed that more peanuts were actually present in products that stated they were made in the “same facility as products containing peanuts” than products that “shared equipment as products containing peanuts.” This data was an eye-opener to many who thought they had been making the better choice. Specifically, most people had stated that they would not eat products made on the same equipment as products containing their allergen of concern, but significantly less people were concerned if the products were simply made in the same facility as products containing that allergen. Obviously, FAAN’s intent in sharing this information with the FDA was to show how meaningless food labels can be as well as the scope of the food allergen issues within food manufacturing.
Panées Nuggets de Poulet
Oooh, that sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Even if you have no clue what it means. ;-) Like the Valrhona, also, French. English translation: chicken nuggets. You can laugh, and I don’t blame you. Chicken nuggets are definitely in a different class than Valrhona chocolates, even when you call them Dégonfler des Pépites. However, not all chicken nuggets are those horrid pressed meat things that come in a freezer package or a carry-out container and contain wheat. If you are wondering where I got the French term, while I was in my French frame of mind after eating Chocolats Noir de Domaine, I looked up the French translation of chicken nuggets. I admit the Pepites part sounds more Spanish to me, but in any regard, the French sounds much better I think.
I’ve been making my own chicken nuggets for many years, long before I went gluten free. They are extremely easy to make. Do you have kitchen shears? Then you can make a chicken nugget. There’s no need for soggy, tasteless chicken nuggets. You can easily make crispy and delicious chicken nuggets. Plus, have you ever looked at the ingredients on a package of chicken nuggets? Even gluten-free ones? That’s setting aside the concerns and anger precipitated by the recent Wellshire Farms deceit or looking at the high costs of commercially prepared chicken nuggets. There are plenty of reasons to make your own chicken nuggets. Finally, not only children like quality chicken nuggets, but also adults … well, my homemade ones for sure. Bite-sized, crunchy outside/tender inside chicken bites that you can pick up with your fingers and dip in a nice little sauce—what’s NOT to love?
Do you have some boneless chicken breasts thawed out, but lacking inspiration to make anything with them? Try these chicken nuggets. If you have kids, get them involved with the “breading” part. Going to a casual party? Take some of these homemade chicken nuggets. They’ll go quickly. Gussy them up a bit like I did by placing them on a festive plate and serving your dipping “sauce” in an elegant container with a beautiful serving fork.
I am actually sharing two chicken nuggets recipes, both GF, of course, and naturally GF, so GFE. The first is one I’ve been making since going GF. The second one I used years ago. The recipe came from a co-worker friend. It’s lower in fat and calls for cornflakes as the breading. So, it is easily adapted to GF by using GF cornflakes. However, if you recall I don’t typically buy GF specialty products, so I rarely make this version although I enjoy it as much as the first version. Each time I make chicken nuggets, my husband looks at the plate I hand him with a bit of disdain. You know that look …as if to say, I can’t believe you are serving me this. But then he eats his meal and says, “Hey–these are really good! Did you make them?” Yep, each time. LOL In his defense, I don’t make them that often, so he forgets. And, most chicken nuggets are not something you really want for dinner. But, it’s kind of nice surprising and delighting him with something so easy to make. I like making these when I don’t really feel like cooking much. From start to finish, in about 30 minutes, they are ready to eat. Add a baked potato or some oven fries and a simple vegetable and you are good to go!
Crispy Chicken Nuggets
(Click here for a print version of both recipes.)
4 boneless chicken breasts (a little over a pound)
1 large egg, beaten
¼ tsp ground black pepper (and other seasonings of your choice … you do NOT need salt because there’s enough in the chips, but perhaps a little Cayenne pepper or Old Bay for a little bite would be nice)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place crushed chips in a bowl.
Using kitchen shears, cut chicken into nugget-sized pieces.
Dip chicken into egg and then press pieces into crushed potato chips on all sides.
Place chicken on an ungreased baking sheet or glass baking dish. Bake about 20 minutes, or just until a “test chicken nugget” loses its pink color throughout.
Serve with dip/sauce of your choice: perhaps simply raw honey (our personal favorite since our bees work so hard to make it for us), my all-purpose sauce, sweet and sour sauce like the one Robin Sue posted recently at her blog, Big Red Kitchen, or maybe even a nice Dijon mustard to make the grown-ups feel, well, more grown up.
Adapted from a recipe on the celiac listserv (author unknown)
Notes: I crush my potato chips by placing them in a Ziploc bag and using a rolling pin. For the “breading” stage, I place my crushed potato chips in a bag, like a paper lunch bag, and shake until coated. You can use this recipe for whole boneless chicken breasts to make oven-fried chicken. This recipe is a good reason to hold on to your bag of potato chips when you get to the bottom and all you have left is crumbs—less work for you and less waste for the planet.
Tasty Chicken Nuggets
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup cornflake breading (see recipe below)
Using kitchen shears, cut chicken into nugget-sized pieces.
Dredge chicken in shallow bowl filled with breading.
Place chicken on a greased baking sheet or glass baking dish. Bake 20 minutes, or just until a “test chicken nugget” loses its pink color throughout.
4 cups cornflake crumbs (Erewhon are GF)
4 tsp chicken bouillon granules (Hormel’s Herb-Ox chicken bouillon granules are GF)
4 tsp paprika
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp Italian herb seasoning
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. Can also be used as coating for fish and whole chicken breasts.
Notes: I turn my cornflakes into crumbs by placing them in a Ziploc bag and using a rolling pin. For the “breading” stage, I place the crumbs in a bag, like a paper lunch bag, and shake until well coated. This recipe is much lower in fat than the previous version, but still very tasty. This recipe was passed on to me many years ago by a co-worker. I still use the copy that she wrote on a stenographer’s notebook sheet, but I have no idea of the origin and could not find this recipe online.
That’s my two-for-one deal for you today—enjoy. Oh, and let me know if you’ve been to the Chocosphere lately!
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