Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Panforte-the other fruitcake.

This is a fabulous mixture of chocolate, fruit, honey and nuts. This recipe is adapted from one in Martha Stewart Living, December 2000. Its ready to eat off the bat, and also contains no added fat (apart from what already is in the chocolate and nuts). You can increase the amount of nuts and fruit with no problem.

4 oz hazelnuts
3 oz dried cherries (I used the tart Montmorency, from Trader Joes)
2 tbsp spiced rum (original recipe called for brandy, which I don't have...I haven't figured out the intricacies of gluten-free drinking yet--all I know is NO BEER)
4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup of honey
2/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350, toast nuts and remove the skins. Reduce the heat to 300, grease a 9 inch springform pan, and 'flour' with cocoa powder.

Place nuts, cherries, chocolate, and cocoa powder in a heatproof bowl and add rum. Leave to soak. Mix flours and cinnamon in another small bowl.

Combine honey and sugar in saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for about two to three minutes. Pour heated syrup over the fruit-nut mixture, stir until the chocolates are melted. Add flour mixture.

Put the goop in the springform pan, and bake for about 30 minutes, remove from oven and let cool. I've found it slices better when still slightly warm.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mini-mincemeat tartlets...

After having gone to a British School for a number of years, I associate mincemeat with Christmas. Before going gluten-free, I had found a wonderful recipe in Bon Appetit, 1998 for little mincemeat tarts. I had been quite a baker in those days, mailing family members boxes of Christmas goodies...

And so, today, in honor of Christmas past, present, and future, I give you my variation on a stalwart British tradition:

1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup potato flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup cornmeal (can substitute quinoa flour or cornstarch)
6 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tsp grated, fresh orange peel (or to taste)
scant 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 stick butter
1/2 pkg cream cheese
1 egg yolk
orange juice (prob will not need it)

Blend all flour ingredients, add orange peel, then fats, finally egg yolk. Add OJ if mixture isn't clumping. Chill dough for 1/2 hour.

Mincemeat filling:
3/4 cup mincemeat
3 tbsp minced crystallised ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp grated orange peel (or to taste)

Mix together all mincemeat ingredients.

Butter a mini-muffin tin. Preheat oven to 375. Line muffin cups with dough (can roll out and cut out circles, or roll into little balls and press into the sides to form a little cup) Fill cups with approx 1 tsp of mincemeat each. Bake for approx 10 minutes.

Edit: The dough does not roll out well. The pic shows both 'thumbprint' type: which didn't hold together well on the sides, and the little 'muffin' tin ones, which held up better. They need to cool before you can take them out, as the dough is very tender. We ended up pinching out a cup and placing it in the mini-muffin tin, which worked best.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A fabulous new cookbook! (Not gluten-free)

I'm reading a wonderful cookbook, which I discovered by accident, called Demolition Desserts. Its most emphatically not a gluten-free cookbook, but it has some wonderful ideas and recipes, a lot of which have very gluten-free components which can be easily adapted to new recipes.

I am quite impressed. She does do a lot of meringue, but she also makes some fabulous sorbets, puddings, fruit-based things.

A couple of complete gluten-free desserts she makes:

Cocoshok: a cool dessert with the flavors of German Chocolate Cake
Black on Black: chocolate, cherries, licorice icecream
Upside-Down Pineapple Parfait: pineapple, vanilla mochi cake (rice flour!), cocnut, gelato.
Concord Express..

Some that would be easily changed to g-f, either by subbing gf ingredients or products:

Warm Chocolate Cake Crottin uses breadcrumbs, just sub gf breadcrumbs.
S'More A Palooza uses crushed graham crackers, either leave out or use crushed gf gingersnaps, leave out the malt for the chocolate sauce.
Waking Up in a City That Never Sleeps uses 'graham cracker powder'. Easily left off or substituted.

I'm not going through the whole list, but suffice it to say, I think I'm buying this cookbook. Not only does she have fabulous titles, and fabulous desserts, a surprising number of which are gluten-free, she also goes through a nice description of various ingredients and how they work, including agar-agar and Xanthan Gum...

Most of the dessert combinations can be made gluten-free by leaving out a component, but its just wonderful that there are gluten-free combinations that she makes, including a gluten-free cake! And she has a good Resources list.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What I wish...

I wish that professional bakers and chefs would contribute to a book on gluten-free cooking. I love reading books by Nick Malgieri, Dorie Greenspan, Shirley Corriher, Alice Waters, Gale Gand, Jacques Torres, Mario Batali...

I just really, really would love to get a cookbook together that has real gluten-free food from different countries. Something different, something good. I want to be able to have a real approximation of a baguette, or be able to recreate the gluten-free bread I had in Paris...

(If anyone in Paris is reading this, email me and we'll talk about you supplying me with the gluten-free bread).

Even if the Queen Mary II chefs came out with a gluten-free cookbook. I wish I had gotten the recipe for their gluten-free bread.

I don't want any more recipes written by amateurs. I love creating my own recipes, but some of them need help... particularly with bread.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I have created a monster...I think...

So I was in Trader Joes, about two weeks ago. And I mentioned to the manager that Trader Joes really needs to do something to showcase some of the gluten-free items they have hidden away, like the brown rice tortillas, which are with the regular tortillas, and I only found by accident. They have a lot of gluten-free stuff in the freezer section, also hidden. I did state that those two sections were what they really needed to focus on, even if they just made a little label that 'popped' that had the gluten-free G on it.

I walked (hobbled, actually, which is a whole other story), into Trader Joes on Friday, to be greeted by gluten-free signs in the canned foods and snack sections. Little blue and yellow signs, popping up all over.

Very nice, but still none in the frozen/refrigerated section. At least as of then.

But it still is nice to see.

Now if they;d just stop discontinuing my favorite gluten-free things..... And maybe making a few more things gluten-free. It is so frustrating to read through the ingredients and find that it has a speck of something that isn't safe (usually the soy sauce). So many things there are almost safe, but not quite...why not go the extra mile and make them safe?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sunflower surprises

So, you know there is a recipe for a peanut butter cookie out there that is gluten-free? Wonderful. Except for the fact that I really really dislike peanut butter. BLECH.

So I took the recipe and used sunflower seed butter instead. Yummy! Its just one egg, 1 cup of sunflower seed butter, one cup of brown sugar, a splash of vanilla, a 1/2 tsp of baking soda, and a 1/2 bag of chocolate chips.

Bake in a 350 oven.

This might even be safe for kids with nut allergies too!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gluten-free tea on the Queen Mary...

Yes, more pics from the Queen Mary II. They made a gluten-free tea for me! No scones (waaaah) but they did make cucumber sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, and ham sandwiches (it was a platter of them...my reaction was OMG!) and two kinds of cake.

I was so pampered there! I'm amazed that I lost weight.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Moths! Augh!

So you may be wondering why no gluten-free posts... I had an invasion of moths while I was off being treated like a queen... I went to bake a cake last week, and EVERYTHING had bugs. The almond flour, the potato flour, the quinoa, the everything... and it all got tossed. Now this would be an amazing opportunity buy new flours and tell you about the process...but first, I want to find containers to store them in...

And I want to let you know of a quick dessert I came up with tonight, when I came home from class STARVING. White rice, coconut milk, a dab of cream and some vanilla. YUM! It would be even better in the future with some mango...

I had wanted to review a cookbook I found at the library, but I haven't made anything from it, due to the lack of flours as mentioned above... I have some comments though.

The cookbook is:


I did learn one thing from here which I did not know. That a lot of charcoal has a wheat binder. Lovely. However, there are a number of places where a celiac could get into big trouble from her book. She suggests getting things like buckwheat noodles from an Asian market. EVERY buckwheat noodle I have found has regular wheat mixed in. And its too easy to have problems at an Asian market unless you are going there with someone who reads the language and can translate... She suggests, in a number of recipes, using bouillion cubes. GLUTEN alert! A lot of broths and every bouillion cube I have seen (now granted, I've stopped even looking at them now, so maybe there is a new brand out there), as well as Penzeys soup bases (waaaaah) have wheat...

While there are a few recipes I'd like to try, its all very much the flavors of modern America. Lots of muffins, 'kid food', even imitation condensed 'cream of' soups to use in your favorite casserole...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gluten-free on the Queen Mary II

Ok, so the II doesn't rhyme...heh. The rest works. I was quite impressed, for the most part, with the service on the boat. The first evening wasn't as good, I had a small exposure with dessert, and I was a little afraid that I was going to get meals with no sauces, dressings, etc. I had introduced myself to the assistant maitre d' on boarding, but that wasn't enough. It was only after I ended up introducing myself to the Maitre D (I had to request a different table, because my initial dining companions only spoke German) that the service became amazing.

At dinner, every evening, they would bring me the lunch and dinner menus for the next day. I would mark off what I wanted (my tablemates actually quite enjoyed this, because they got a preview of the coming attractions), and then they would make it. I played it safe until mid-voyage, because of nervousness due to the first dinner, and then ordered something wild and crazy, a pasta dish.. it was GORGEOUS! The picture is up on top..

I wish, in retrospect, that I'd thrown caution to the winds earlier, on that trip. You end up having to be so careful in daily life that even in safe places, its hard to relax. Its hard to leave it up to others.... They started bringing me gluten-free bread, petit fours, I even had a gluten-free English tea. (The only thing I wish they could have done was come up with a scone I could have)...

There are safe travel options, and if you are clear and upfront, you will get the most amazing service. Real food, and real cruise overfeeding (I still managed to lose weight though...)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gluten-free breakfasts...

Being gluten-free often makes breakfast the most difficult meal of the day. When travelling, you end up with eggs or yogurt. Cereal is problematic, as most have some form of gluten. Even at home, breakfast can get very dull, particularly if you live alone, like me.

I grew up eating substantial breakfasts, fruit, cheese, jams, arabic bread and an egg... We rarely had pancakes, or bacon or waffles, so those don't really feel like breakfast food.

I loved the breakfasts in the hotels in Spain (except for the one where we came down and there were two huge bread things in front of us). They were potato tortillas(!) cheese, fruit, eggs, yogurt. I did have to be somewhat careful, as it was all buffet style...but even so, fabulous breakfast...

In France, there were omelets, yogurt, or fromage blanc... and then I got my apartment and was able to find the gluten-free bread, so was able to have more interesting food. I just wish I'd found the gluten-free croissants that company hypothetically makes...

On the boat, man, the boat, I got gluten-free eggs benedict...I was in heaven. So good. I only thought about taking a pic when I was halfway through... they took gluten-free bread, the Canadian bacon, the poached eggs, and the sauce... I was in heaven, if I haven't mentioned that. I had also picked up some gluten-free muesli in Southampton (England) and was able to supplement with that. Fruit salad and G-F muesli is a fine breakfast.

Here in the US, there are a lot of frozen g-f breakfast items, but most of them are 'eh'. I'm not big on the traditional breakfast items like bagels, frozen waffles, frozen pancakes... most of them are either 'white flour' or dense and rocklike. So breakfast, particularly in the summer, is still a challenge. In the winter, I can make rice porridge, quinoa porridge, or even g-f oatmeal. But in the summer, hot food isn't quite as appealing...

So I need to find an equivalent to the fromage blanc of France, start making my own potato tortillas...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On sharing a kitchen...

So I've been doing a lot of back and forth to visit my parents. And have been trying not to really eat there, because its difficult. You don't realise how many times something gets rinsed and put away, or dusted off.

I can see the cake crumbs for miles, from my dad's angel food cake. They are ALL over the kitchen. My mom rinses containers out quickly, or lids off, and puts food in (I'm not saying my mom isn't neat, she is, but when it comes to contamination, you get paranoid very quickly).

I get a little proactive, with serving myself first, putting serving spoons in everything, not using the toaster, etc, etc. But sharing a kitchen can be very hazardous. Take honey or peanut butter, for example. Someone is spreading honey on an English muffin...they reach in with the crumby knife... and voila! Contamination. No honey in my tea. And you can't always, especially in a family home, have individual jars labeled 'gluten-free', because its not practical. Take butter..you sometimes put a dollop of butter on your veggies, right? nope. None for me, thanks.

Wash the knives before you use them. I am thinking of at least getting a gluten-free cutting board, and mark it as such, for up there.

So if you have to share a kitchen, either designate a gluten-free area, or a couple necessary gluten-free prep surfaces. Or else, there were disposable cutting boards a few years ago...horrible for the planet, yes, but maybe a lifesaver for something like this. Keep the gluten-free items as seperate as possible. Have a seperate shelf. A seperate toaster or a toaster oven (toaster ovens are safer because they are easier to clean out or to put the item on foil to protect it) Mark everything clearly. And serve yourself first at family meals.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gluten-free travels: Spain, in retrospect.

The one thing I wished I'd done differently is done some more research into things I could eat. I ended up feeling like I was being a bit of a pest. Part of the problem was being with a tour group, and not really having a lot of control over where we ate or went. We ended up being in a lot of 'touristy' areas, which didn't necessarily have stuff I could eat. I also should have asked the guys to write something out for me that I could use to communicate with waiters, etc.

That being said, there were some fantastic moments. There is always potato tortilla or cafe con leche, or even ice cream! When we got to Barcelona there was fabulous, fabulous paella... yum! There was marinated octopus, there were all kinds of fantastic things...

The only food I, unfortunately, have a picture of, is the paella. A good food blogger I am not.

Here it is, in all its sunshiny glory:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Gluten-free in Paris.

oh la-la! The idea of Paris is as a land of bread...but actually its so much more...most of the actual meals are flour-free...because everything is made from scratch. I have loved partaking of beef tartare, of duck, of all kinds of wonderful gluten-free meals. With various desserts, fromage blanc, creme caramel, chocolate mousse... les glaces. I just wish I'd taken pics of some of these...even the salads are works of art.

And I found gluten-free pain de compagne and madeleines at Monoprix! I am going to have to find someone to send me this stuff, its that good. Because its not sweet, it tastes like real bread, acts like real bread, and has the chew of real bread...

And don't forget all the wonderful cheeses and fruits, all the stuff from the markets...all fresh, juicy, tasty and delicious.

I don't want to come back, not for all the gluten-free products in the world.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Potato, potato, potato.....

So I´m in Spain, in Madrid. So far, in the past couple of days, I´ve had a lot of potato. There was a marinated potato salad with cukes and tomato the first night, there have been potato tortilla (like an omelet, but room temp, with potato) for breakfast yesterday and today, and for lunch today? (almost didn´t find the question mark) You guessed it! Potato tortilla. I´m going to need a cholesterol test after this summer!

Its still very tasty, last night I had a wonderful salad, with lots of fresh lettuce, tuna, tomato...... I´m not sure what´s for dinner tonight, but I´m sure its wonderful. You can´t let a little thing like a food allergy stop you from experiencing the wonders of another culture. I take a piece of fruit from breakfast every morning, so I know I´ll be able to have a snack. And I have a secret weapon...my choir directors speak Spanish! So just chase them down (or do what I did and ´get lost´so they have to find you!).

I´ll give an update in a couple of days!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gluten-free, locally.

hmmm, the title rhymes. tsk tsk tsk. Its amazing how popular gluten-free products are becoming, though, which is the inspiration for this post. In some ways, I'm finding more and more gluten-free products that are local. I ran by a health-food store in Simsbury, CT, and found carrot cakes, coconut cupcakes, and other gluten-free goodies, from CT (this is a branch of the main store, where they bake the goodies). I also found Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free oats there too...something Whole Foods refuses to carry, for some unknown reason.

I then went to the farmer's market at Whole Foods, and found this woman:

She has all kinds of gluten-free treats. And is willing to take on challenges.
She also suggested a place in Vernon, CT where I can get a gluten-free baguette, called Nature's Grocer. hmmmmmm. That is good to know! Apparently the wife is celiac, the couple was retired, but started a second life as health-food store owners, and bake all kinds of breads.

I just checked out their site. Gluten-free ravioli and tortellini!!!!!!


I am so happy having more and more options...yay! What are some of your local gluten-free options? (because lets face it, not many people want to bake their own bread during the summer and its nice to pick up something local, and handmade, rather than frozen and bulk-shipped). Even if I have to make a trek for it, its worth it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

For Jeffrey...

So one of our cantors at church has recently gone gluten-free. He was putting two-and-two together and made four. He feels much better without wheat. Its just amazing how you can have an intolerance, allergy, or celiac all your life without realizing.

We had quite a conversation yesterday, I lent him a couple of books, steered him towards a wonderful blog, and talked a little bit about everyday life gluten-free.

He already looks better, no more circles under his eyes... (although maybe he's just a party animal, and with college being out, no more parties).

But for him, I want to write a little primer on living gluten-free:

Most health-food stores have gluten-free lists, some have sections. There is an odd blend of foods available gf, not a lot of whole-grain, and in fact a lot of junque food. There are pies, cookies, even donuts. There isn't a lot in single-serving packages, which pisses me off. There are times I want ONE cookie. Good luck. There are a few items which are whole grain, which are decent. And Whole Paycheck and Trader Joes both have good return policies, if you hate something.

Keep your eyes open. I found gnocchi at W.F. that is gluten-free, in the refrigerated section, nect to all the gluten-filled pastas. I found gf almond torte at Ikea. I found gluten in cheese, in a cheddar with apricots, I think it was. Always read your labels.

To start off with, for gf baking, get a bag of plain gf flour mix. Maybe not Bob's Red Mill, because that is too beany for me, but there are lots of options. Then start branching out into the other little bags.

At receptions, get to the cheese first, before everyone has cut into it, sprinkled cracker crumbs everywhere... There is usually a fruit plate, veggie platter, and plain cheese. Most chocolate things at receptions involve wheat. If in doubt, ask. And lets face it, you won't be able to drink as much because there won't be as much in your stomach.

Dinners out at restaurants...if you know where you are going, call first and let them know. If not, tell the waiter as soon as he/she brings the menu. Try to go at off-peak times. Leave a BIG tip. Go to smaller places, not chain restaurants. There is more room for error at chain restaurants because the chances are that everything is shipped to them, and they will be more rushed/less careful. That being said, there are more and more places that do have gluten-free menus, and more places are training their chefs to be aware of special needs.

I sometimes pack gf rolls so that I know I'll be able to eat something. That was what I did for my reunion. I packed a gf roll, and some cookies. I got a salad with egg salad on top, a yogurt, and my gf roll. For dinner, unfortunately, was pasta. I loaded up on appetizers, salad, and dessert. You do end up eating a lot of veggies and cheese when you go out. Just be aware of this.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Restaurant Review: Barcelona, West Hartford, CT

These people are fabulous for the celiac diner. The manager came over, got me a menu where he'd checked with the chef and noted everything that had wheat. My cousin ended up getting wheat-stuff, but I ended up getting a wonderful gluten-free meal, including dessert! It was a chocolate-hazelnut indulgence, literally! A warm, gooey chocolate thing with ice cream on top....mmmmmmm

Barcelona, I love you! And if the food I get at your restaurant is anything like what I'm going to get in Spain, I can't wait!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My first gluten-free failure..

So I had a pretty good track record for making different things, until yesterdays attempt at making gluten-free cherry-chocolate-oatmeal cookies. I tried them straight out of the oven, and they were good, or so I thought. Put them on a plate and took them to a friend's reception (graduate music recital..he was AMAZING). Saw someone trying to eat one, tried them. Eeeeeek!

They were rock cakes. Literally.

So this morning I started playing with the leftover batter. Added some melted butter and an egg yolk.. and some more cherries and chocolate. You can never have enough cherries or chocolate.

Baked at a lower temp. These are more crumbly... but I just tried a cooled one, and I think they are better. Time to bake them up for the choir....

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Product reviews!!

Ok. I've found a few new gluten-free products so here they are, and where to find them:

The wonder of Ikea...they have a gluten-free almond cake in the cafeteria, which you can also buy in their food shop. I also picked up the most addictive marshmallow confection there..the chocolate isn't great, but the marshmallow is everything marshmallow should be. It would make a great addition (almost typed addiction, which it is too) to a 'romantic' evening.... so get the Krusboll Swedisch Marshmallow Confection too. I also found a blueberry 'cake' that looks to be gluten-free. So definitely hit your Ikea Food Shop.

Whole Foods has come out with two new breads: Gluten-free oat bread and Sourdough. They are very similar at first glance on the shelves, both being round. The Oat Bread was fabulous, good flavor, moisture, etc. The Sourdough I am less thrilled with. Its got a tang to it, yes, but its somewhat dry and crumbly. I couldn't find a loaf with an intact top, and it shattered when I sliced it. But if you like sourdough, it is a reasonable approximation.

Lastly, Trader Joes. Ahhh Trader Joes, I love thee, except when you discontinue the stuff I actually like. Now, you all need to go out and buy this so that they never, ever discontinue it. They have made a brown rice tortilla that actually folds. It doesn't shatter, it doesn't fragment, or do strange things. It folds over, and you can actually eat it without having to hold a bowl under your chin for bits of tortilla. Their gluten-free peanut butter cookies are tasty too (in the frozen section)

So what new, strange, gluten-free items have you discovered? Tell me about them!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa

Yes, I know. I'm a horrible, horrible person for not updating sooner. I'd flagellate myself, but life is doing that to me enough, right now.

So I was playing with ideas about a week or so ago... I decided to grind up some wild rice in my wonderful grain mill... and I made a breakfast porridge with it and some frozen blueberries. That was pretty good, but then I thought, hmmm... wild rice cookies. With blueberries, flaxseed and white chocolate.

So I took the leftover porridge (there was a ton...it was one of those days). I added some cornmeal, cooking it on top of the stove... thickening it up. I added an egg, some flaxseed, sugar...stir, stir... added a bunch of dried blueberries. hmmmmmm.... tasty, but it needs something...

*rummage through cabinets, having ingredents falling on my head*
Oh! Look! White chocolate chips! (ps, be careful and always check ingredients...I used to love the butterscotch chips, but they have gluten. Pity, I thought of a few recipes where those or the cinnamon chips would be good. You can find g-f versions of white chocolate and regular chocolate)

I added those in. Popped the cookies into a 350 degree oven.

Took them to choir practice. People actually liked them, and I got compliments. Even though they were definitely purple (thanks to the frozen blueberries).

I would definitely tweak a couple of things about this (including having actual measurements, next time). I'd add some cinnamon, just a dash, or nutmeg, as it needed a little more of a flavor component. I'd use some tapioca starch to thicken them up, and dry them out a little... they were a little too soft. I might do a variation with cashews or pecans, to accent the nuttiness of the rice a little more...maybe pine nuts???

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gluten reaction thoughts...

So I was reading Shauna's blog, and reading the comments, and I put a few more pieces together. I had this awful rash in my ears that would not go away. It itched, it flaked, it was horrible. I still get it occasionally. And my head will itch. And I realised, I was having a reaction to the gluten! Its amazing how much is tied to that.... I started out cutting gluten out for the endo, and realised how much else was tied in to it. The low thyroid, the anemia, the fatigue, my weight gain, the itchies...

Its really, really incredible. And it goes to show you, you have to keep putting the pieces together...

Monday, March 17, 2008

You too can make a difference.

So there was a bake sale at church yesterday. And I was able to buy goodies! People had made gluten-free stuff. Not just for me, but there are a lot of folks with gluten issues, and its becoming more apparent...

And wow. Such a difference. And I felt so loved. So Kudos to the church folks.

(And I made and took Walnut bread as well as corn cookies, both sold).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A corny day.

In response to http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/'s latest challenge, what to do with cornmeal, I'm posting a couple of recipes I'm working on:

Corn Cookies Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream one stick unsalted butter and add 1/2 cup of succanat (organic granulated brown sugar) add one tsp vanilla paste and one egg yolk. Add 1/2 cup cornmeal (I used Arrowhead Mills) *then* hydrate another 1/2 cup cornmeal with 3/4 cup hot water, and let sit while you continue the recipe. Add to the butter mixture: 3 tbsp tapioca flour/starch 2 tbsp corn starch 1/4 tsp baking powder 1/8 tsp fine sea salt (optional- tsp citrus zest) blend. Add rehydrated cornmeal. blend. let sit 10 mins for everything to hydrate and come together.. dollop in small (melon-ball size) scoops onto cookie sheets (3 by 3 per sheet, they spread!) bake for approx 10 mins or until gbd on bottom. remove to plate, inhale.

Edited on Friday the 14th to say, I made these today, and added 1/4 tsp of Xanthan gum, which made an amazing difference. You can leave the dough to sit for quite a while, and it improves, too. I also came up with a tasty variant, a few lavender buds and some lemon zest. YUM! Pics will follow.

Millet-corn bread
2 tbsp tapioca
1 pkg yeast
2 egg yolks
2 tsp honey
½ tsp salt
2 cu millet flour
1 cu cornmeal
2 tbsp millet

Proof the yeast in warm milk. Blend the tapioca, millet flour and cornmeal with salt, Add egg yolks to honey and beat with some milk, add to the flour mixture. Toast 2 tbsp of whole millet, and add to the dough. Add yeast. Add more milk if necessary (its almost a batter bread texture, a little thicker). Put in a greased loaf pan, let rise in a warm place until doubled. Put into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake.

This is very good toasted. It stales quickly, but toasts up well.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Courtesy of Alice B Toklas

So I read old cookbooks. I love old cookbooks. And in reading the Alice B Toklas cookbook, I found these cookies. I have not tried making them, yet. They are on page 254.

Boil in a saucepan 1/2 cup and 2 tbsp butter, 4 cups water and a good pinch of salt. Moisten with some of the water 5 cups of rice flour. Gradually add it to the boiling water, stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir until the mixture becomes stiff. Remove from heat and very slowly add 10 eggs one at a time. Incorporate each one thoroughly before adding another. Roll them into little sausages and place on buttered baking sheet in a moderate oven. When cold, paint with a water icing flavoured with rose water.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tools I love, part 1.(aka Ode to a Stand Mixer)

My stand mixer. Its my baby, and its wonderful. I have a grain mill (which has never seen a drop of wheat) and a food grinder.

The grain mill attachment is an amazing, amazing device. I can grind my own flours from grains, as some flours just still aren't available, or perform much better when fresh ground. Such as sweet rice flour. I grind a flour from a medium grain rice which works really well as a porridge. Its like cream of wheat, without the wheat! I've also ground a sweet (small/sushi/arborio) rice flour fresh to use in angel food cakes and such. I don't use it as much as I could just because of storage space/lack of organisation.

The food grinder is fabulous. I tend to grind my own meat, as much as possible, but it can be used for veggies and fruit as well. I made a wonderful quince mincemeat a few years ago with it.
And if you are Jessica Seinfeld, you can hide all the ground-up veggies you want. I can't guarantee that gluten-free brownies with broccoli will be tasty though.

My stand mixer itself is invaluable. I have two bowls for it. It kneads the gluten-free bread so much better than I can. It makes wonderful angel food cake... It is my baby. Now granted, I do covet other attachments for it... I'd love to try making gluten-free fresh pasta, and I would love the water bath attachment. I could make custards, etc...

My Silpat. This is fabulous. I wish they made silpat for everything. They will probably figure out in a couple of years that it is as dangerous as asbestos... but in the meantime, this is great stuff. Gluten-free stuff doesn't always have a lot of internal structure, so it helps to have a backup. You can let the food cool on the silpat, and then peel whatever it is off. You can use parchment paper instead, if you must.

I have adjustable measuring cups which I bought from www.sciplus.com. (warning, the previous site is a tad addictive, you will find yourself buying stuff you have no use for). I can use one cup, its small enough to deal with all the little bags of ingredients... the only drawback is that it doesn't work with liquids.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Walnut Bread.

With all the snow these days, I decided to do some baking. So, I now present to you a recipe for Walnut Bread. This is wonderful with avocado, or toasted with cream cheese or butter.

1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 cup of teff flour
1/2 cup of buckwheat flour
1 cup of white rice flour
1 cup walnut meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 pkg yeast
2tbsp molasses
1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped/broken up
3 (or more) tbsp walnut oil
water (at least 1/2 cup)

Add the molasses and the yeast to the 1/2 cup warm water, to proof.
Blend all dry ingredients in the stand mixer with paddle attachment.

Add the walnut oil, blend, switch to dough hook. Add molasses/yeast mixture. Add extra water as desirable to achieve consistency of playdough, maybe a little thinner. the dough should form together into a ball. let it mix for a couple of minutes. Add the walnuts.

I baked this as a boule in a cake pan. Form it into a ball and let rise for an hour (oil it, either with walnut oil or olive oil, so it doesn't dry out). Then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for at least an hour. Put oil or butter on the crust when you remove it from the oven, this will minimize toughness...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hidden Wheat...

Its out there! Lurking, hiding, waiting to reach out and grab you!

There are a few places that can have wheat, even when you least expect it. Chocolates. Yes, chocolate. The last thing you would expect. We get chocolates at work for Christmas. And even with staff nibbling, they don't go very fast. We broke open a box the other day, and I had one. Its the only thing I can think of that would have had gluten... because I'm having a reaction.

Soups. Cream soups in particular. Lovely roux. Butter and flour. This also means no creole/cajun cooking. No gumbo. I suspect jambalaya and dirty rice both contain flour.

No bechamel sauces. Most gravies and sauces do have flour. At home, you can substitute cornstarch.

I found wheat in a bag of dried currants, of all things. *Sigh*. And be careful of the French Fries, they might have wheat, even baked potatoes, in restaurants, are sometimes plunged into the deep fryer to warm them up.

Worcestershire sauce contains wheat, as does soy sauce. Go for tamari, but make sure its wheat-free (tamari is SUPPOSED to be so, but gets adulterated with soy sauce).

Where is the strangest place you have found wheat?

Saturday, January 12, 2008


So this vaguely pornographic-looking food is mochi. Its made out of sweet rice flour (basically a short-grain rice) and is available in refrigerated sections of your local health food stores. Its supposed to be squares that puff up and are chewy inside, but it usually erupts into these shapes... if its overcooked too much, it becomes hollow, and truly phallic looking. (I should have taken a pic of my first batch, they were unique).

Its very tasty, I eat 'em with creme fraiche, but I just wish I could get them to work properly.

I've tried letting them come to room temp, smaller squares, larger squares, lower temp, higher temp...I've even tried to do them on the stovetop...they do ok on the stovetop, but they stay very very dense then.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gluten-free dining...

So yesterday I went out for our staff holiday meal. Its always a challenge finding a restaurant that people like, and that is safe for me. It usually involves much perusing of menus beforehand to be able to find something safe that is not a salad.

I had a wonderful meal. I had ossobuco with amazing mashed potatoes. It was heavenly.

Here are my tips, if you have to eat out for work:

Let your boss know, ahead of time, that you have an issue. If you can work with him or her to find someplace to eat, do the research in advance. Most places have menus posted on websites these days. If you can go ethnic, do so. You have more chance of getting good food that is safe in an ethnic place. Particularly Indian, Mexican, South American. Thai and Ethiopian can be safe. Chinese usually isn't. The restaurant we went to was Italian (gasp!) but not chain Italian.
Chains are usually not safe. Too many pre-frozen items. Small family-own restaurants are usually best, although I wouldn't suggest Southern fare. Too many deep-fried this and floured that.

If possible, tell them when you make your reservation, that there is a celiac coming to dine.

When you order, have two options for the waitstaff to ask about. Be sweet about it, explain that you have this horrible problem, and could they please check for flour, breadcrumbs, any type of wheat or gluten. And bat those big brown eyes at them. (ok, guys, this might not work so well for you, unless the waiter is a cute gay boy). Above all, be polite, charming, apologetic. "I don't want to be any trouble, but if I get anything with wheat I will become horribly sick".

I have had waitstaff suggest items that they know are safe. I have had them suggest desserts that are safe. I have, in general, had wonderful service.

And when you leave, leave a big tip. If you don't have a reaction, go back and frequent them. If you do have a reaction, go back and tell them. I have raised a fuss in the past, when I got something I thought was safe, and it wasn't. I did end up getting my money back, then I went home and died.

But by doing a little homework, being clear, you can get a wonderful, gluten-free meal. Even in a pizza parlor. And yes, even in a chain.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

On cookbooks and books...

I get frustrated with a lot of the 'gluten-free' or 'wheat-free' or 'you can't eat anything, or so you think' cookbooks. They either give you specific recipes, without giving you ideas on how to tweak things, or they use spelt or kamut. And they all have their own specific blends. Because I don't have enough bags in the cupboard, I need to make up batches of YOUR specific mix in order to try one recipe. Note to all cookbook authors: spelt and kamut are wheat. They are ancient forms, but they are wheat.

There are also a lot of recipes for things that have NEVER contained wheat. I can get recipes for Cuban Black Bean Soup or Shrimp Risotto from any cookbook. What I can't get are recipes for fried chicken or hushpuppies, or rolls. For scones, soda bread, or angel food cake.

I've gotten some good tips from some, but in general, the majority are frustrating, and I end up creating my own recipes, using specific flours for tastes/complementary flavors/behavior.

There are two books I would highly reccomend, though neither is a cookbook per se. http://www.amazon.com/Gluten-Free-Girl-Found-Loves-Back/dp/0470137304/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199885305&sr=8-1



My only issue with the Gluten-free Bible is how she deals with communion. And I hated the Hol-Grain crackers which she likes (maybe I got a bad batch?).

Some of my favorite go-to cookbooks are actually mainstream. The Joy of Cooking is one, I got some good info from an early edition on different types of flours. I have a couple of Asian cookbooks (bean flours, rice flours) and Indian cookbooks. I have a vegetarian cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey that is fabulous.

While its not a cookbook or a book, I also picked up a copy of Gluten-free living at the grocery store. I wasn't that impressed. It seemed like it was a one-woman production. I've learned a lot more from Living Without. There I learned that you only need to let gluten-free bread rise once.

So, for me, while I do check out gluten-free cookbooks from the library, I don't tend to buy them. I tend to go to the mainstream stuff. Because in trying recipes, I read what the recipe is supposed to look like/feel like. And that is how I can judge if the gluten-free version is right.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Almond-Cherry Scones

1/4 cup dried cherries (I used tart Montmonrecy from Trader Joes)
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup of corn flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup sour cream (or yogurt if you prefer)

Pour the boiling water over the cherries and leave to rehydrate. Sttart cast-iron griddle heating Mix all dry ingredients together, then add butter. Blend butter in as if making pastry.
add sour cream, mix as well as possible. It will look lumpy at this point. Add the cherries and water and mix, just until blended.

Form into a rough "pancake" shape and plunk onto the griddle. Let it cook for about four minutes or so before cutting lines into the top. (The griddle should be turned to lowish)
When its firm enough, flip it over and cook on the other side.
Note: It did get a little overly brown, this might do better in the oven, or kept very low. It was still tasty, esp with cream cheese, for breakfast this morning (Sun, Jan 6th)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Salt-rising bread part 1

So since I've been sick I've been reading a lot of cookbooks. And I found a recipe in the Little House on the Prairie Cookbook for Salt-rising bread, which requires that you start with a sponge/starter thingy. I figured since I'm home and feeling like crud, I'd try adapting it. I also got a couple of tips from Beard on Bread. So I fired up the oven to its lowest temp, 170 (which turns out to be 150) and then turned it off.

I then heated up:

1 cup of milk

added 1 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp cornmeal
and then 1/2 cup of quinoa flour.

dumped all this in a bowl and threw it in the oven with the oven light on, to ferment. Its supposed to ferment for, as far as I can figure, about 16 hours or so. (You are supposed to start it at noon of the day before).

It is foamyish. I'm tempted to put the oven back on preheat for two minutes to warm it back up...but we'll see in the morning.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Edited to add, the oven did not stay warm enough, even with the oven light on. I may try Alton Brown's idea of a heating pad next.