July 2011 Archives

Recipe Flash: Austrian Breakfast Tacos with Spicy Sauerkraut and Summer Sausage

Check out some of these other BGSK tacos: Chicken and Chorizo Tacos, Seared Salmon Tacos, and Mini Pulled Pork Tacos

When we were out in LA, Cara and I spent a lot of time trolling the food truck scene. Probably too much time. But with so many choices, how can you eat it all in one day? While Cara was adventurous and tried the new-fangled Nacho Truck, I pretty much stuck to what LA food trucks are known for: around-the-world tacos. (For the record, our favorite was the Vietnamese-inspired Nom Nom tacos with pickled radishes and carrots on top of spicy lemongrass chicken.)

When I got back to NYC I started to notice this trend infiltrating our fair city. In the inner courtyard of Tavern on the Green, which has recently become host to food trucks rather than over-priced table-service, I spotted a Middle Eastern taco truck serving up lamb pita tacos with tahini sauce. Clearly, the taco has fallen prey to very loose interpretation. But why not? The tortilla really can just be a vehicle for whatever delicious toppings you can dream up.

So, unlike most foodie trends, I’ve embraced this one in my kitchen, especially now that I am gluten-free, and corn tortillas are one of the few “quick bite” carbs I can use in place of the old sandwich bread. I had some tortillas lying around in my fridge (old habits die hard) one morning and decided to make Josh some breakfast tacos. We had just been to Edi and the Wolf the night before, so perhaps I already had Austrian food on my brain, because the concoction that came out of my kitchen that morning was decidedly not Mexican, and, probably, overall a bit strange. But when Josh went nuts over them, I thought perhaps the combination was worth repeating. And I hope you’ll think so too.

If you happen to see an Austro-Hungarian Taco truck on a block near you, I just might be the one driving it!

From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,



Austrian Breakfast Tacos with Spicy “Sauerkraut” and Summer Sausage
Makes 2 breakfast tacos

Summer sausage replaces the chorizo in this taco combination; it’s similar to salami, though slightly softer in texture. It tastes great cold (probably the “summer” element), but also excellent crisped up in a skillet as in this recipe. If you can’t find any, simply use another hard sausage like salami or see what the deli counter suggests.

3 ounces summer sausage*, cubed
4 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
4 taco-sized corn tortillas
Spicy sauerkraut (recipe follows)
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

*I used a very delicious one from Vermont Smoke and Cure

In a small non-stick skillet, pour a teaspoon of olive oil, and add the sausage. Brown over medium-high heat until crispy, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. With a slotted spoon or spatula, remove the sausage to a paper towel. Turn the heat down to low and add the eggs. Scramble slowly until nearly fully cooked. Stir in the cheese and cook one minute more. Remove from the heat.

In the meantime, wrap the tortillas in a paper towel or clean dish towel and heat the tortillas in the microwave in 30 second intervals, until piping hot.

To serve, set two tortillas on the plate, top with a generous spoonful of eggs and spicy sauerkraut, and a sprinkling of crispy sausage. Garnish with cilantro and your choice of hot sauce (optional!).

Spicy “Sauerkraut”
Makes 2 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups shredded purple cabbage
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
3/4 cup chicken or veggie stock (or water), divided
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Add the cabbage, salt, sugar, and chili flakes and saute, stirring occasionally, until starting to wilt, about 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup stock or water, scrapping up any brown bits from the onions. Turn the heat down to low, and simmer until the liquid is nearly evaporated, about 6-8 minutes. Add the remaining stock or water and repeat until reduced by half. The cabbage should be cooked through but not mushy. Stir in the vinegar and remove from the heat. Serve alongside eggs, chicken, or pork. The “kraut” will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

Meatless Monday: Chipotle Barley Salad with Corn, Zucchini, and Radishes


BEST GRAIN SALADS: Rice Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Cashews; Grandpa Caprese Panzanella; Lemon Couscous Salad With Cilantro, Raisins, & Almonds; Quinoa Tabouli with Mint, Parsley, and Preserved Lemons; Teriyaki Soba Salad.

One of the perks of having written a cookbook besides, well, pride and joy, is having an archive of perfectly tested recipes that cater precisely to your tastes. While it’s rare that I follow a recipe in the kitchen, choosing instead to follow my whims and the ingredients in my fridge, it is nice to have a base formula that I know I can count on. You know, rather than changing everything about a recipe, I can just throw in additions and substitutions here and there.

Though it’s published in our joint cookbook, technically speaking, this recipe comes from a salad Phoebe developed. She first brought Corn and Barley Salad to Mag Club in the spring of 2009, aka eons ago.

How To: Eat Out When You’re Gluten-Free


Though I’m only a newby at this whole gluten-free game, there is one thing I know for sure: it’s a lot harder to navigate eating out than cooking at home. One of the many reasons why we advocate making your own food is that you know exactly what you’re eating. When it comes to dietary restrictions, this is particularly important. But alas, until we take up some sort of Cathy Erway pact, eating out at restaurants once in a while seems pretty unavoidable.

Since getting my gluten-free sea legs, I’ve accidentally eaten béchamel sauce and had chicken arrive in front of me that I could tell had been dredged in flour before it was cooked. I was too lazy to send any of these things back, so I ate them anyway and felt sick afterwards. I’m not celiac, so I can take these risks. But the constant element of surprise is not one I find enjoyable. And so while sometimes it’s a pain to be picky, it’s always worth dealing with the waitstaff and the menu in a way that will ensure you enjoy your eating experience at the table, and in the long term.

Here are some of the pointers I’ve learned thus far about gluten-free restaurant dining—some general (ask lots of questions), and some more specialized (avoid Italian restaurants if you don’t want to cry when looking at the menu).


NOTE: if you are celiac you might have to take some of these recommendations with a grain of salt, as I am lucky enough not to have to worry about cross-contamination in restaurant kitchens.

**Tips and Tricks**

Ask questions. I know it sounds simple, but when it comes to your health, don’t be shy about asking detailed questions about the food you are about to eat. The best way to do so is to ask the waitress to alert the chef that you have a gluten allergy. This will make them more careful back in the kitchen and also steer you clear of certain danger foods if you’ve accidentally ordered something with hidden gluten. Always assume that the waitstaff and chefs are less educated about gluten-free eating than you are. It sometimes pays to double check that flour wasn’t used at any point in the process, and that none of the sauces include soy sauce.

Call ahead. If you are shy, or don’t want to annoy your dining companions by asking the waitress about every minutia of every dish, simply be prepared when you arrive. Look at the menu in advance and suss out the best options–a lot of local restaurants actually have gluten-free menus these days. If you want some reassurance that what you’ve chosen is actually gluten-free, give the restaurant a call during a non-rush hour (before noon, or between 3pm and 6pm). The hostess can ask the chef any of your questions and you’ll be sparing the kitchen the chore of answering your queries while firing off orders for seared scallops for a table of ten.

Learn how to decipher a menu, and know your ‘code red’ words. Being able to pinpoint problem dishes will help you when choosing your meal, and also when asking your server targeted questions about certain dishes. Chefs have been educating themselves, but don’t be too reliant on their gluten knowledge. Avoid anything fried, and even pan-fried, as meat tends to be dredged in flour before its trip to the pan. Also, always ask about a dish’s sauce. If it is described as thick or creamy, you should make sure they haven’t used a gluten-based thickening agent. Stews are worth inquiring about for this reason too. There are plenty of resources out there to educate yourself about the ingredients you can and cannot have, so make sure you are aware of what condiments contain which problem ingredients so that you can put them on your radar. For example, teriyakai sauce is a sweetened and seasoned version of soy sauce, and should be avoided. In general, if you see a dish with Asian flavors, you should be asking whether or not it has soy sauce in it (see below).

Avoid certain cuisines altogether. Italian and Japanese I’ve found are the two biggest gluten fiends. You can usually find a risotto on an Italian menu, but other than that, pizza and pasta are the two biggest staples of moderately priced Italian restaurants and they’re both no go. Unless, you want to spend a little extra on some branzino or a bistecca, it’s best not to put yourself through the torture. Japanese restaurants use soy sauce pretty much across the board. Anything teriyaki is out, and sushi is out too, unless you’ve managed to sneak in a bottle of your own gluten-free soy sauce (which I highly recommend doing!). Japanese salad dressings usually contain some soy sauce as well for seasoning. Udon is wheat-based, as are most soba noodles in this country. And katsu is breaded meat. Best to avoid these restaurants all together.

Stick with my 5 go-to cuisines. Many rice-based cuisines are the easiest to adapt to a gluten-free diet. Of course, there are certain dishes to avoid in each, and if possible, it is still best to ask as many questions as possible. Here are my top picks:

Thai: This is how I’ve managed to not go crazy by not eating spaghetti. I can always get my pasta fix with pad thai. In most Thai restaurants in the US with translated menus, they tell you whether a noodle dish contains rice (vermicelli or thin pad thai noodles) or wheat noodles (yellow noodles, egg noodles). Like any Asian cuisine, you want to avoid soy sauce. Pad See Ew is a no no because of this. Most pad thai recipes do not include soy sauce, though they may have oyster sauce. If you are CD or very sensitive to wheat and this worries you, you can always say you are a vegetarian or order from the veggie side of most American menus, and oyster sauce will be omitted. Curries are usually safe, so when in doubt that is a good area of the menu to order off of.

Mexican: Since much of Mexican cuisine is corn or rice based, this is a great option for GF food. Authentic tacos are made with corn tortillas–burritos, though, use flour tortillas, as do quesadillas. Make sure to ask about which kind is being used in what you plan to order, and chances you can sub corn for wheat. While most sauces are thickened with corn flour, moles should be avoided. Additionally, skip chiles rellenos, and fish and seafood tacos (especially Baja) because they will probably be battered.

Middle Eastern: With all the grilled meats and condiments, you can find a great well-balanced meal at Middle Eastern or Israeli restaurants. Avoid tabouli as bulgar wheat is a no no. A lot of places in the states now offer quinoa tabouli, and this is great. Obviously, any type of pita sandwich should be avoided, but most of these restaurants, and even quick fast food joints will offer a shwarma, kabab, or falafel platter with an assortment of hummus, baba gaunoush, and Israeli salad, all of which are gluten-free and filling. Check to make sure the falafel is gluten-free. If it’s a traditional establishment it will be. Taim is a personal fave in NYC! Greek and Mediterranean are also good options because of their use of fresh meat and seafood.

Indian: So long as you are comfortable forgoing nan, Indian food is fairy easy to eat gluten-free. Avoid samosas, paratha, and any other obvious wheat-based carbs. But in terms of the traditional dishes (all of which can be served with rice), there is fairly little to avoid.

South American: Anywhere with lots of rice and beans will be friendly to a gluten-free diet and allow you to get your carbs and protein. Peruvians eat a ton of quinoa, Venezuelans are known for arepas—the best cure for GF sandwich blues—and Argentine cuisine touts affordable steaks, chimichurri, and roasted potatoes, unlike American steakhouses with rich sauces and mac n’ cheese.

Dude Food: 11 Ways Men Differ From Women in the Kitchen

We started our Dude Food series this spring in order to mix up the usual BGSK offerings with interviews and submissions for and by dudes. As you can image, having “big girls” in our name has been a bit of a deterrent for the male population. We like to think of this section as the man cave below the BGSK kitchen. If you have ideas, become a dude food contributor!

Food Republic is not too old but already it’s become the go-to food site for guys on the net. Its daily articles, recipes, and news pieces explore the new culture of food through stories, interviews, global conversations, and experiences. It is the site for men who want to eat and drink well, and to live smart. We’re lucky today to have Richard of Food Republic give us his take on how men plus food is a totally different equation than women plus food. How so? Read on!


**Tips and Tricks**

As editorial director of Food Republic, the food and drink lifestyle site for men, I spend a lot of time finding recipes and cooking techniques that apply specifically to guys. Are guys much different than women when it comes to food, drink and especially cooking? Um, yeah. Are the following 11 ways men interact with food differently than women gross generalizations? Yes, ma’am.

1.  More beer. Men think about beer. A lot. So when we’re cooking and we need a liquid, the first thing that comes to mind is not chicken stock or vegetable stock or even white wine. It’s beer. Beer to baste turkeys, beer to steam mussels, even a beer can in a chicken.

2.  We really do care that much about our sandwiches. There’s a famous episode of The Simpsons where Homer refuses to give up a beloved hoagie, even after if it gives him food poisoning. We often develop psychological and emotional bonds with certain sandwiches that, sadly, aren’t that different from the ones we develop with sexual partners.

3.  Did somebody say burgers? Look, I know that a lot of women like burgers, and that women who say they eat like men can get just as opinionated about a city’s best burger spot as a man can. But men are obsessed with burgers. If you say the word burger within earshot of your average male, then follow him for an hour, chances are you will see him go into a restaurant and order a burger. Or go to a market and buy ground beef (probably agonizing about the fat ratio), then make a burger.

4.  We’re messy cooks. Adam Perry Lang told me recently that we should embrace the outdoor grill area because it’s the one place that our women can’t complain about us making a mess —
“because you can take a hose to it after you’re done,” he said. I get in trouble for making a mess in the kitchen all the time, but it doesn’t stop me. A garlic clove drops on the floor, a sauce splatters, some wine spills. I just keep on cookin’.

5.  We cook to win. I’m sure that there is a similar competitive spirit in suburban and semi-rural communities across the US — I have heard about Midwestern cheesy potato recipe pride that can lead to bloody disputes between women at neighborhood potlucks. But with guys, we’re usually just trying to prove that we’re the best at making stupidly simple things like potato chips or ketchup or meatballs. Lots of people make these things and make them well, but men want bragging rights.

6.  We like to follow recipes as much as we like to ask for directions. I remember my mom browsing recipes in her cookbooks, and I even learned to cook myself by using cookbooks like Jamie Oliver’s The Iron Chef and Jean Georges’ From Simple To Spectacular. But now that I’m a man, like other men, I like to wing it. Is what I make better when I follow a recipe, using a few ad libs to hue to my personality? Yup. Does this mean that I do this instead of winging it? Nope.

7.  If there’s something that can be made on the grill, it will be made on the grill. This goes for things that up until recently weren’t usually made on the grill, like pizza. Guys have become obsessed with making their pizzas outdoors. Why? Because we can make a mess. Why else? Because there are all sorts of gadgets on the market now for guys who like to make their pizzas on the grill. Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet even has a super-expensive outdoor pizza grill (starting at around $6,500). Which reminds me….

8.  Guys like gadgets, which is part of the reason we like cooking. A big part, actually. This is also a generational thing. My dad likes to cook but doesn’t have a garlic press. That’s like the most basic gadget to have if you ask me. Ice cream makers, food processors, electric thermometers — guys need these in their kitchens. Espresso makers, coffee makers, sous vide machines — guys need these in their kitchens. Even if there’s no more counter space, guys will stack machines and gadgets if it means that they will be able to make the best veal parmigiano or moules-frites or martini.

9.  Men collect. We collected baseball cards and comic books as kids. We collect wines, liquors and cookbooks (which we don’t use) as adults. We like to know intricacies about things that most women don’t care that much about. We will often have eight different kinds of hot sauce in our fridge. Why? Is there much difference between the eight? No. Would a woman own eight types of hot sauce? I don’t think so.

10. Bacon. I know women like bacon too (what’s up, April Bloomfield?), but they spend far less time than men working bacon into whatever dish they think bacon will work with — like a BLT pizza. What’s that, you say, you are what you eat? Well then that’s that: When it comes to eating and cooking, men are pigs. And proud of it.

11. Men will cook for sex. “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” thing may have served women well for a century or so. Now it’s men’s turn. And let’s be honest, men cook for a date with one thing in mind: Sex. Do we want to impress our date with the best pasta primavera they’ve ever tasted? Hell yes. Will it matter one bit if said date is not naked in bed in the morning waiting for an “impromptu” French toast (we just happened to have all the ingredients) breakfast? Nope. For men who cook, the way to a woman’s body is through her stomach. Pass the syrup!

–Richard, Editorial Director of Food Republic

July 26th: Reading at the New Canaan Library

Connecticut here we come! We’ll be doing a reading and signing (via Elm Street Books) at the New Canaan Library on Tuesday, July 26th at 7:30pm. Click here for more info, and about their Authors on Stage series!

Food Republic: Tips and Tricks for Date Night

We shared our tips and tricks with the guys over at Marcus Samuelson’s site, Food Republic. Check them out here, and make sure to tune in for FR’s editor, Richard Martin’s take on how guys and girls differ when it comes to cooking as part of this week’s dude food column!