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Culinary Corner: Create fantastic dishes for guests with special dining restrictions

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, November 5, 2014 9:01 p.m

A lot of interest and recipe development for new products have come to the forefront of both the restaurant and grocery chains for gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free food items.

They are being featured and advertised quite extensively. This is great for all who have an intolerance for these items.

What do you do if family members or guests advise you that their menu is restricted? Here is a way to create a menu that not only will accommodate the special diet but provide a meal everyone else will enjoy, too.

Here’s a dinner idea that will treat your guests and family to a delicious chicken dinner.

Allow several hours for the chicken to marinate for two hours before cooking.

Chicken Farci with Pea and Mint Purée

(makes four servings)

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/2cup olive oil

juice of 1 lime

2 shallots finely chopped

1 pound, 2 ounces fresh peas in their pod, shelled, (11/2cups shelled)

3/4cup fresh vegetable stock or stock made from gluten-, yeast-, dairy-free bouillon powder

2 heaping tablespoons chopped mint leaves

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Arrange the chicken pieces in a large, nonmetallic dish. Mix six tablespoons of the oil with the lime juice in a small measuring cup; then pour it over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for two hours. Turn once.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the remaining oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Add the shallots, and stir-fry over low heat for two to three minutes. Add the peas and stock, and cook for five minutes. Stir in the mint; then season lightly with salt and pepper.

Combine the mixture in a blender or food processor. Pour the mixture into a strainer set over a bowl, and work it through with a wooden spoon to form a purée. Reserve the liquid.

Remove the chicken from the dish; discarding the marinade. Make a horizontal slit through the thickest part of each piece without cutting through, making a pocket. Stuff as much purée as you can into each pocket and then close up the opening with a wooden toothpick.

Arrange the stuffed chicken pieces in a baking dish, and spread a thin layer of the remaining purée over the top of each. Pour the reserved liquid onto the bottom of the dish; take care not to pour it onto the chicken. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.

Remove the toothpicks, and serve with boiled new potatoes and steamed fresh vegetables.

• • •

Gram flour also is known as besan. Used in East Indian cooking, it is made from ground, dried chickpeas. It can be used in a multitude of ways in preparations for doughs, dumplings and noodles; as a sauce thickener; or batter for fried foods. It can be found in most Indian and Asian sections of the markets.

Here’s a luncheon or dinner idea that will make your guests smile.

Salmon Fish Cakes

(makes 4 servings)

1 pound, 2 ounces salmon fillets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound, 2 ounces potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 extra large eggs, beaten

gram flour for dusting

polenta or cornmeal for dusting

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the salmon in a baking dish, and drizzle half the oil over it. Cover, and bake in the hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil; then turn the heat down. Cover with a lid, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Drain and return them to the saucepan, and heat gently for one or two minutes to dry out the potatoes. Then mash them coarsely.

Take the salmon out of the oven, remove and discard any skin or brown spots, and flake with a fork; reserve any juices. Mix together the mashed potatoes, flaked salmon and half the beaten eggs, the reserved cooking juices, and some salt and pepper. Taking care not to break up the fish too much. With wet hands, shape the salmon mixture into eight balls and then flatten them slightly to form fish cakes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Spread the gram flour out onto a plate and the polenta or cornmeal onto a second plate.

Dip each fish cake into the gram flour to cover it and then into the remaining beaten egg, then finally into the polenta or cornmeal until well coated. Place the cakes on a clean plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy-bottom skillet set over medium heat, add half of the fish cakes, and cook for four to five minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Place on a sheet pan and place in the oven while you cook the rest of the fish cakes.

Place the rest of them in the oven, too, until they have an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Serve with fresh vegetables or with a salad of mixed leaves and some sliced lemon.

As always, enjoy!

David Kelly is a freelance columnist for Trib Total Media. He has been sharing cooking tips and recipes in Culinary Corner for 22 years.

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