Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gluten-Free Recipe: Quinoa and Smoked Gouda stuffed Poblano Peppers



Here is another recipe for our free Gluten-Free Recipes collection — this time it is a vegetarian adaptation of a recent recipe that was inspired by a very tasty dish I first discovered at a local Mexican restaurant here in Texas. I first posted the non-vegetarian gluten-free original Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Chicken and Smoked Gouda recipe (link) a couple weeks ago, and now I have added this vegetarian and gluten-free version: GF and vegetarian Recipe: Quinoa and Smoked-Gouda stuffed Poblano Peppers (link)

This vegetarian version retains its healthier (than the restaurant version) approach to the recipe with much less sodium and considerably less fat, while retaining a delicious combination of flavors and textures.  The quinoa grain is not only a great gluten-free diet addition, but also a much tastier and fulfilling "stuffing" than plain rice would be.  Combine this seasoned quinoa with the large mild green chiles (Poblanos) used for this recipe — which are most excellent for stuffing thanks to their relatively thick walls  — and you have a feast for the senses.

These poblanos are not particularly "hot" peppers (when green like this), though you may find they have a subtle slightly-detectable warmth that can vary with each individual pepper. The flavor is a bit different than a sweet green pepper, though the poblano will not be too much of a taste surprise if you enjoy peppers in general. To infuse a bit of extra Mexican inspired flavor into our dish, we have used some ground chipotle powder (chipotle peppers are simply a smoke-dried jalapeño); the subtle smokiness from the smoked Gouda furthers that theme a bit.

As with the chicken-containing version from before, I have not added ANY salt to this dish aside from what is in the cheese, all in an effort to keep this dish low-sodium and generally "healthy" and safe not just for wheat-free and gluten-free diets but also for low-sodium and lower-calorie diet considerations also.  Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can enjoy this dish, as it is delivers a great and satisfying combination of taste and texture.  Add a bit of diced avocado (as shown) for a nice complementary flavor too. And, if you do like a bit more heat, you may enjoy adding some minced jalepenos or habaneros to the mix.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ban "stock photos" from cookbooks, food magazines, etc.

This Gluten-Free Blog discussion will apply to more than just the gluten-free community today.  I have chosen a topic I feel is important to all us "foodies" and consumers in general: the widespread use of "stock photography" and how these photos are increasingly being displayed alongside recipe and food products in place of photos of the actual product or recipe-output.

Are you of the opinion that the use of "stock photos" in cookbooks, food magazines, menus, food blogs, food advertisements, and the like is tantamount to fraud when there exists, either subtly or strongly, the implication that the food-photos you are viewing are pictures of the actual food(s) you can create using an accompanying recipe, or are pictures that show a reasonable representation of the actual prepared food(s) that you will receive if you purchase the pictured product?

Well, I for one believe the widespread practice of using undisclosed "stock photos" should be banned for a variety of reasons, and I am not alone according to a recent article on NPR's website.  Consumers are getting annoyed by this misleading practice.

The NPR article discusses the case of a Vegan (foods) website and magazine caught using stock photography of non-vegan foods to accompany vegan recipes: with their being a clear implication that the pictures they used were demonstrating their vegan recipes in action.   CONTENT WARNING: NPR's site links to a blog (Quarrygirl) that "busted" the VegNews site/magazine, and that blog contains language not suitable for children.

Perhaps I should back up a bit and start by asking: are you familiar with the term "stock photos" and how such photos are used?  Put simply: stock photos are pictures of nearly anything and any subject matter that are for sale to anyone that wants them — especially pictures of things that looks really good and look like a professional performed the layout and photo shoot.  Sounds great, doesn't it?  Just buy a wonderful looking photo to fill your needs!  Sure saves time and effort of taking a great looking photo yourself.

But wait... what if you are telling everyone about this great new recipe you created and are unable (or unwilling) to take the time to snap a picture of your item; instead, you simply buy a picture of what you feel is an ideal representation of your food and then display that picture with your recipe and imply that what is pictured was the end result of you following that recipe to completion?  Well, to me, this is where a serious line has been crossed!


The practice of using "stock photos" has sadly become a "generally accepted" way many in the industry choose to save money, all the while diluting and diminishing the credibility of recipes and related work by those of us that really make the effort to acquire actual pictures of what it is our recipes produce.  I refuse to accept this practice as necessary in an age where digital photography has made the acquisition of high-quality images simpler and cheaper than ever before, nor will I accept this practice as ethically correct as I feel undisclosed use of stock-photography is a form of deception.  
For these reasons, the photos of all the desserts in our Wheat-Free and Gluten-Free Gourmet Desserts Recipes book are photos I took of the finished products that we baked ourselves and according to the recipes in the book.  And, the photos of recipes on this Gluten-Free Blog and on our Gluten-Free Recipes Library are also pictures of foods we baked, according to our gluten-free recipes.  The pictures across the header of this page: yes, they too are gluten-free foods we baked and took pictures of.
It really annoys me how prolific the use of "fake" pictures is these days (i.e., stock photos posing as a custom recipe's output or a product other than what is truly in the photo).  Why?   People have gotten to where they assume that everything they see is misleading, especially in our culture that seems more focused on what is "legal" versus what is "right".  Using stock photos is legal, though I believe a disclaimer should accompany such use if it is implied that the photo represents a product your are buying or the end-result of a recipe you are buying.  We are all used to television ads with that barely-readable print at the bottom disclaiming that all images shown were simulated, sequences were altered, etc.  I believe similar disclosure (though more legible) should appear with stock photos used as discussed herein.

Perhaps another question should be asked, especially of magazines and the like selling recipes and using stock-photos to represent the outcome of baking their recipes: if you are using stock photos, how do we (the readers) know you ever even baked the recipe in order to assess its merits (accuracy, taste, texture) and know it is worth presenting as something we will likely enjoy?  Or, are we to assume that while custom photography is "too expensive", somehow baking each and every recipe and assessing its merits is somehow affordable by comparison?  From my own experience, taking all the custom photos is time consuming, but no more so than creating and baking all our recipes. So, for this reason alone, I have substantial doubts that any place passing off stock photos to represent their recipe outcomes is really taking time to bake all their recipes either.  

Feel free to share your thoughts on whether you think stock-photos are misleading!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gluten-Free Recipe: Poblano Pepper stuffed with Chicken and Smoked Gouda


I just added another recipe to our free Gluten-Free Recipes Library — this time it is a recipe that was inspired by a very tasty dish I first discovered at a local Mexican restaurant here in Texas that I really enjoy.  My version is a bit healthier than the one I get at the restaurant (much less sodium and considerably less fat), but it still retains the essence of the dish that I so enjoy, and now I can make it at home whenever I get a craving for a gluten-free meal featuring a Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Chicken and Smoked Gouda filling recipe (link).

Go to that link for the full recipe.

These gluten-free stuffed peppers are rather easy to make, and as a bonus, a "leftover" from the chicken preparation forms the basis for a simple-to-make gluten-free chicken soup! You will have two meals ready in the time to make one.

The large mild green chiles (Poblanos) used for this recipe are wonderful for stuffing thanks to their relatively thick walls. These are not hot peppers (when green like this), though you may find they have a subtle slightly-detectable warmth that can vary with each individual pepper. The flavor is a bit different than a sweet green pepper, though the poblano will not be too much of a taste surprise if you enjoy peppers in general. Here in Texas, these beautiful large poblanos have been very reasonably priced and abundantly available in the grocery stores, making this dish even more enticing.

We have infused a bit of extra Mexican inspired flavor into our dish with the introduction of some ground chipotle powder (chipotle peppers are simply a smoke-dried jalapeño) and some subtle smokiness thanks to some smoked Gouda (though, you could use any cheese you prefer). The core component of the filling is shredded chicken-breast meat from chicken that has been boiled with nothing more than water, some ground spices, and a sliced onion (hence, the leftover chicken broth for a soup!) 

This gluten-free recipe results in a feast for the senses, though not in a tongue-burning way... this is much more subtle with regards to spice and heat.  I have not added ANY salt to this dish aside from what is in the cheese, all in an effort to keep this dish low-sodium and generally "healthy" and safe not just for wheat-free and gluten-free diets but also for low-sodium and lower-calorie diet considerations also.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!