Certain recipes are family traditions. But when you add dietary restrictions and the limitations of processed foods, it becomes necessary to take charge of your ingredients. One of my family’s favorite meals included Swiss Steak. But it probably wasn’t made the way your grandmother made it. Instead, I always made it in the microwave. Don’t stop reading yet! You might be surprised by what you can learn from a new idea. There was a time when I taught microwave cooking classes for Panasonic, Litton, and GE. I taught salespeople how to sell microwave ovens and I demonstrated microwaves at retail stores–all sponsored by appliance companies. I needed to learn to convert many of my recipes to be used in the microwave so I could prove that you really could prepare a good meal using this new appliance. Well, it was new in the mid-80s and that’s when I was teaching so it was “new” at that time.
But now we have added an additional limitation of gluten free. One of the ingredients in this family favorite recipe is Lipton Onion Mushroom Soup Mix. Until recently it was GF, but things change and so did Lipton when they added a wheat based ingredient. In order to make Swiss Steak, I needed to make my own onion soup mix. I leave out the mushrooms but you can easily add some to the dish about 30 minutes before you finish cooking it. I found a recipe at All Recipes that looked like it would work just fine so I used it as a base for my own soup mix. It begins with these ingredients.
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons gluten free beef bouillon granules (I used Herb Ox as it is labeled GF.)
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
1/8 teaspoon celery seed or celery salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
I had everything in my pantry except the dried onions and the parsley. There was parsley in my garden and if the dried onions had not already been so conveniently available, I would have used fresh. It probably would have saved a couple of bucks.
I dried parsley from my garden in the microwave. Cut the washed parsley from the stems. It is not necessary to dry the parsley leaves as you want some moisture to remain. Wrap the parsley leaves in a damp paper towel. It should not be wet. Just sprinkle a bit of water on the towel. Microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Unwrap the leaves and move them around so they are not clumped together. Wrap them up again and MW for 15 seconds. Unwrap, unclump, MW for an additional 5-15 seconds. I started with 1/4 cup of fresh leaves and less than a minute was all it needed. But your time will vary depending on the wattage of your MW, the amount of parsley you have chosen to dry, and the amount of liquid on the towel and parsley leaves.
I follow these same steps for drying basil and oregano from my garden. But in the spring and summer when the herbs are fresh, I use them right out of the garden. I save the dried leaves for winter cooking.
Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Use as a substitute for a 1 ounce package of of dry onion soup mix. I prefer mixing enough for 2 or 3 packages at one time. Then I weigh out the ingredients and bag them for future use. Time involved is about 15 minutes.
The next entry here will be for that family favorite–Swiss Steak–using this onion soup mix and cooked in the microwave. Yum!