Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gluten-free 'Butter' Cookies


I mustn't linger here, today. I am afraid something else may happen to pull me away before I'm finished. It's been quite a week, but I think I will recover.


I thought about butter cookies for a couple of weeks. They are a traditional Christmas cookies in my husband's family. I have put together a recipe I am very pleased with and want very much to share it. They are light crispy and very much like real cookies.


Without further adieu:

Butter Cookies

Make 3 dozen


Blend together:

3/4 c. brown rice flour

¼ c. tapioca flour

½ millet flour

½ c. almond flour*

1 c. white sugar

¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. guar gum


Add and mix well:

1 tsp. vanilla

5 Tbs. coconut oil or shortening

5 Tbs. butter or butter substitute


These cookies spread when baking so place small spoonfuls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake in preheated oven at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.


Because of the way this dough spreads it is not worth your time to use cookie cutters on it. See the picture to the right? That's a star.


*If you cannot have nuts try flax seed meal instead of almond. Because of flax's thickening tendencies cut the amount of guar gum in half.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Waffles! or maybe not.




I've been thinking about writing a blog post about waffles for some time. I receive a waffle iron for my birthday back in September. I was excited about the idea of doing more than pancakes as a substitute for bread. Sometimes I would open the waffle iron to find a perfect waffle. With the next batch I would open the iron to find not my idea of a good waffle. See picture to the right.

I thought I, finally, came up with a really good waffle recipe, but I g

ot the notion to experiment with the effects of almond meal and flax seed meal on the recipe. This is where I learned to use almond meal or flax seed meal, not both, in a recipe. Also that flax seed meal doesn't need as much guar gum as almond meal. It was like peeking into a treasure box every time I opened the waffle iron was it going to be a crispy waffle or was it going to be a pile of not waffles.


So, although I went to bed Monday evening with good intentions of w

riting about waffles the next morning, I woke up to feeling not up to par. In the end I rested on Tuesday with the intent of writing today. When I woke up this morning all I could think about was all the things I had to do that didn't have anything to do with writing and how that this is my writer's group night and I'm not ready for it. So laundry or blogging or something anything thrown together for my writer's group, which is a bad thing to do, or grocery shopping, which I have put off for a little to long and I don't want to do because of the weather?


I got up determine to at least write to tell you that like most people I'm so busy on the Holiday season that there is no way I'm going to post until maybe the end of January. Then I remembered something Steve Martin said. He said something to the effect that if you want to get creative quit working. That was something he had done a few years back. He had decided to take a break and in the end he had written several plays and a book or two. I know he is right. My most creative thoughts come when I'm too busy to stop and write them down. With my hands deep into dish water I'll think of something I simply must write down. I'll dry my hands, go write it down, return to my dirty dishes, and plunging my hands into the water with the intend of finishing the job, only to think of something else I simply must write down.


So, while I think that I'm too busy to bother to write today or during the months of December and January, somewhere amid working on Lisa's school records, cleaning the house, tree trimming, and baking a Christmas pie my mind will be loaded with ideas for that next great novel I think I'll probably never finish. Or at least I'll write a blog post or two. So who knows maybe I won't post again this month, but then again maybe I won't be able to help myself and go on a blogging frenzy this month. After all, I thought I was only going to write a paragraph, now I have babbled off five.


For today, I'll leave you with two recipes, one is a good waffle recipe, the other is making the most of my not waffles.


Good waffles

makes 4


blend together:

½ cup brown rice flour

½ cup millet flour

¼ cup flax seed meal*

½ teaspoon guar gum*

¼ cup white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt


add in and mix well:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 egg

1 cup water


To cook follow the manufactures directions of your waffle iron.

*You may use almond meal instead, just be sure to increase the guar gum from a 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon.










Flipped Flopped Waffles


(as in flip this flopped waffle into something edible)

Makes two patties


Whip well together:

1 egg

2 tablespoons of (your choice) milk

a dash of cinnamon

½ teaspoon vanilla


Break one waffle into little bits and add to egg mixture. The smaller the bits the better the patties work out. Mix until the waffle bits are well coated. Using a large spoon scoop half the batter onto a hot-greased griddle, then scoop the other half onto the griddle.. You may need to flatten and shape the patties a bit. Each side cooks up in about a minute, otherwise brown each side. Serve hot with syrup on top.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Gluten-Free Website worth Your time



Amid Curtain washing, rearranging to fit a Christmas tree in the living, dusting things, and having my husband throwing a ball at me so he can play fetch with the dog in the house, I'm popping out a quick blog post.


Who would think tofu, sage, thyme, and pumpkin puree would make a fantastic non-dairy Alfredo sauce?

The Gluten-free Gidget that's who. This is the only cheese alternative recipe I have found that did not include yeast. Her Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta with Kale recipe is so delicious and such a wonderful surprise that after cooking up some of it I just had to share it with you. I also thought I would pour some of this sauce over green beans instead of pasta and kale. Is was good, but it didn't taste much like green bean casserole. I think I'll pick her brain on how to make a sauce taste like mushroom soup without the mushrooms.

I didn't tell my husband the sauce was made from pumpkin puree, and tofu, or sage, which he hates. He is my picky eater, yet he thought the sauce was good. He still has no idea what is in the sauce. I think I'll keep it that way, so I don't spoil it for him. My teenage daughter loves the sauce and even thinks the kale and pasta part was good. So I have a new standard to cook with and experiment with.

I love digging around Gluten-free Gidget, or Katrina's blog. It is has great pictures, it well written, many of the vegetarian food dishes will work with my family, and and the food ideas help me move from foods I can't have to to good choices and good substitutes I can have. To check out Gluten-free Gidget's blog and and her fabulous Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta with Kale click here. Check it often, she blogs more frequently than I do.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gravy



When you sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner and lively conversation you don't want the conversation to be about who the lumps in the gravy look like. Although my family is very fussy about gravy and have left me with the impression that good gravy is hit or miss with me, I have the basic concept of how to turn a liquid into a gravy. For professional instruction go to the website of The Gluten-free Girl and The Chief. This video is well worth your time and much better instruction then I have here. I'm not a professional; I'm a mom and a grandmother.

These gravy recipes will only say flour, not what kind, because the choice is up to you. To make a more informed decision I will share what I have learned about starches and flours.

Starches
Any recipe that says corn starch can be substituted with arrowroot without any difference to the recipe.

Potato flour
When I first started cooking gluten-free I learned something about potato flour I haven't seen mentioned on blogs, websites, or in books that left me frustrated. If you add a little water to it and stir the starch thickens and keeps on thickening until you can't work with it and adding a little more water doesn't help either, because it keeps on thickening. Yet, the taste is a just right for a gravy that will be going on potatoes. Below I will teach you how to work it into a gravy with my I'm in a hurry and don't tend to follow recipes method.

Brown Rice flour
The flavor of rice flour is mild enough to not overpower the flavor of sauces and gravies. In the right amount it makes a good gravy. Add enough and it makes gravy flavored cream of rice.

Garbanzo bean flour

Garbanzo bean flour is a great way to add a little more protein to you meal. It thickens just as any other flour, but you'll need to cook it 5 minutes instead of 2 to make it digestible. It does impart a flavor I prefer for soups and white sauces.

Roux
Roux is equal parts melted butter with flour cooked in. Don't use potato flour for the above mentioned lumping problem. Roux is a good choice if your main course meat doesn't provide much juice and you'll be using a store bought broth. The butter will add flavor.

To make 2 cups of gravy start with 3 tablespoons of butter. I use a butter substitute, Smart balance Light, which doesn't melt well. To solve this problem I use 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of my butter substitute.

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan on low heat. When melted stir in 3 tablespoons of flour. Once the butter is soaked into all the flour you should have a past. Keep stirring as you cook it for a couple of minutes. From this point it is actually the same instructions as with the slurry. Pour your roux in small amounts into 2 cup of boiling broth. Be sure to include any of the browned juices that the meat has provided. Bring it back to a boil before deciding if your gravy needs more roux.

3 Tbs. melted butter or substitute
3 Tbs. flour

Slurry
This is simply equal amounts of starch and cold water. Use cold water because warm water will cause the pectin in the starch to gel making a lump, not a slurry. No need to really measure, but I use a heaping tablespoons of starch and then add water until I have a thin paste.

Bring the meat juices to a boil. You will need to stir the slurry before you can pour it, because the starch has the tendency to settle. Pour the slurry in small amounts, bring the broth back to a boil before deciding if your gravy needs more of the slurry. The slurry/starch remember has a tendency to settle to the bottom, this will turn into one big lump if you don't keep stirring, using a whisk.

1 heaping Tbs. starch
1 Tbs. cold water, more or less

Quick “I'm in a hurry and don't tend to follow recipes closely” gravy

Warning this method has a higher likelihood of coming out lumpy.

If you have plenty of broth from the meat to work with sprinkle small amounts of the flour, lightly dusting the surface of the boiling broth. Again the most important part of a non-lumpy gravy is to keep stirring it in with a whip. After you sprinkle and stir in about a tablespoon worth stop adding flour, give it a moment check it's thickness. When it reaches your desired thickness turn down the heat and cook on simmer for a couple of minutes, so your gravy doesn't taste like raw flour.

About 3 tablespoons of flour to 2 cups of broth works for me.









Most of the pictures over the past few days have been of my second born son Jared age 18 months. He had wanted thanksgiving dinner so much he pulled the large wooden high chair about 15 feet from the pantry area to the table. Jared is now 24 and has 2 little boys of his own to feed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ginger Cookies














It's Thanksgiving, for goodness sakes, don't keep the cookies from the kids. Jared is about a year old in these pictures. He decided he had to have cookies. Despite his best efforts he just couldn't reach them. After a lot of trying, and some pushing and pulling on me, I brought them down to his level.


It seems like cookies were the first thing I set my eyes on when I walked in the door of Grandma's warm and cozy home. Her home was always full of things that had been there forever or was homemade, especially the food.


Grandma couldn't have managed a Thanksgiving feast without a buffet. Otherwise, where would she keep the cookies, four kinds of pie, a cake, the three tiered tray full of things like green olives, black olives, sweet pickles, baby dills, and cream cheese stuffed celery.


Remember the Thanksgiving it snowed so much you could make a snowman in the front yard. I do and I did. In 1974, my cousin Debbie and I went out, and amid the kids throwing snowballs and pulling sleds, we built a pleasant, little four foot, very traditional snowman.


It's been so chilly I'm surprised we don't have snow on the ground, this year. Not that I want snow. Snow is pretty to look at, but I hate the cold and the way it can permeate to the bone. I do, however, have an answer to the cold, coffee and ginger cookies.


I wish they were ginger snaps, but I can't, yet, get that hard snap in my cookies. In this case I'm considering on increasing the fat and lowering the baking powder amounts.


I find their flavor a bit milder than ginger snaps and I will increase the ginger and molasses the next time I bake some. But here is what I did this time:



Ginger Cookies


Makes 3 dozen small cookies

Preheat oven to 375°

Grind 10 pieces of Reed's crystallized ginger chews in a mini chopper or food processor until it is the consistency of a meal. Place in mixing bowl, then mix in:

3/4 c. rice flour

½ c. millet flour

½ c. almond meal *

2 tsp. guar gum

½ tsp. baking power

½ tsp. salt

1 Tbs. ground ginger

½ tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg (optional)

¼ tsp. ground cloves

1 c. brown sugar

2 tsp. lemon zest


Add to this mixture:

1 egg

1Tbs. molasses


Cut in:

1 Tbs. Coconut oil*

2 Tbs. shortening

2 Tbs. smart balance light



Roll dough into small balls, place on greased cookie sheet, and flatten into cookie shapes.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until browned.


* I f you can't have nuts exchange the almond for flax seed meal and the coconut oil for shortening.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cranberry Bread

1 ¾ cups brown rice flour
¼ cup millet flour
1 package unflavored gelatin
2 tsp gar gum
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking power
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. butter or any fat of your choice (may be omitted)
1 well-beaten egg
1 ½ cups frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. In a bowl mix together dry ingredients. Stir in orange Juice, butter, and egg.
Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries. Turn into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes; remove from pan.

Cranberry-raisin Muffins

1¼ cup rice flour
¼ cup millet flour
¼ almond or flax meal
1 teaspoon Guar gum or Xanthan gum
3 teaspoons baking power
½ teaspoon salt
¼ more or less brown sugar
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup dried cranberry
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons Smart balance light or butter
1 egg or egg substitute1 cup milk of your choice

To make muffins, combine dry ingredients, and then mix in wet ingredients until just combined and no longer dry. Grease and flour a muffin tin and fill the cups full. Gluten free does not rise like glutenous, so you needn't worry about it overflowing here. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (give or take 5 minutes).

Thanksgiving Menu





















If your cooking Thanksgiving dinner chances are you're pulling up an extra chair.(Son Jared age 2 here, now has his own one little ones)



Let's check and see if our Menu is in order. (Me at age 35)

























Turkey

Mashed potatoes and gravy

Maple Mashed Sweet potatoes

Stuffing (store bought gluten variety baked in a dish separate from the turkey)

Corn

Green beans (Might make a creamed casserole)

Salad

Rolls (store bought treat for those who can have gluten, bake while mashing potatoes and making gravy.)


Cranberry Bread (bake on Tuesday, do most of the cleaning)


Apple pie (Bake pies on Wednesday)

Pumpkin pie (Jared age 4, he has always loved food)








Cinnamon sugar Cookies (Bake cookies on Monday, begin cleaning)

Ginger Snaps



Cranberry- Raisin muffins (Bake on Tuesday for snaking.)

Now let's get cooking. The underlined food items above are links to some gluten-free recipes.


Don't worry yourself thin over those critiques. (Me mid-twenties)























They're simply too fussy to please anyway. Just do your best and know that you are blessed. (Son, K. C., age 14 months, who is now 30 years old.)












Tomorrow I hope to post my recipes for ginger snaps, pie recipes, and tips on making gluten-free gravy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Remember the sights sounds, and smells of Autumn?


Apples, pumpkins and candy,
pies, cookies, and haunted houses,
cider, donuts, and a hayride,
Halloween, Harvest Feasts, and Thanksgiving Day,
children running, laughing and jumping,
crisp leaves on crisp days,
the list could go on.



As a little girl my best friend Mary Ann and I would rake leaves into rows, making corners, and going around until we had a series of boxes representing the walls of a house. After we made a quick trip to the corner store for candy we played house. We lived in a neighborhood filled with kids and in great hordes, we went tricker-or-treating. Each coming home with a grocery sack of candy.

It must have been as a baby when I fell in love with the Fall Season, because I can't remember a time when I didn't love autumn. It has the most beautiful mix of warm colors with cool days, with crisp leaves to shuffle your feet through.

Crisp is the word that keeps coming to my mind. It is one of my trouble spots with gluten-free cooking. I'm pleased with my cookies, but they still don't have the crunch I'm looking for, I believe I have, however, learned a few tricks.
Starch has the ability to provide flexibility during the dough stage of a bake good and adds a bit of crispiness in the finished product.
Almond meal can make a cake product more tender, yet help things like cookies, pies, waffles, and fruit crisps have a melt in the mouth flavor and a satisfying crunch.
Flax seed meal is nearly as good as almond meal, but beware to use one or the other in most cases. Using both can make bake goods stick in their pan.
Coconut oil works better than palm shortening when you are looking for a flaky, tasty, crispy, crunch.
Palm shortening works better than Smart Balance Light, when looking for crunch but it won't add the buttery flavor.
Water will make a crispier waffle than milk ever will.
With these facts all lined up I have created a fruit crisp that surprises even me. Even better, I have my Hubby's seal of approval. Give it a try and let me know how the recipe worked for you.

Fruit Crisp
Melt :
2T Smart Balance Light
2T Coconut oil

mix with it

¾ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. guar gum or xanthan gum
¾ tsp. cinnamon
½ c. rice flour
¼ c. millet
¾ c. almond meal or flax seed meal
2 Tbs. cup tapioca flour or potato starch
¼ c. quinoa flakes or oatmeal
1/4 tsp. each baking powder, salt, and baking soda

Sprinkle this over sliced fruit in a 9x9 cake pan.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350°.

For apple
peel, core and slice 6 medium apples, mix in ½ Tbs. Lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon of arrowroot starch.

For peaches
use 3 15 oz. Cans of peaches in juice. Drain off the juice. If desired add a ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and 1 Tablespoon or 2 of sugar.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mashed Potato Patties



I'm suffering from a thyroid roller coaster ride. I've had about three hours of sleep. So today I'm making a quick post about a quick fix from leftover mashed potatoes.

Ken didn't like leftover mashed potatoes until I started turning them into fried patties. In last night's version I included leftover ham. He liked them so much he was wishing for more.

Mashed Potato Patties

1 ½ cups mashed potatoes
½ cup ham or other meat chopped into small bits (optional)
1 tablespoon minced onions
2 eggs
¼ millet flour
pepper to taste

Stir all together. Using a large serving spoon and a rubber spatula slide about 1/3 cup of of mix into hot oil. Flatten a little if need be. Cook until brown around the edges then flip over. When brown place on paper towels to drain.Eat plain or topped with one of the following: sour cream, applesauce, or ketchup.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Almond Meal



Update: I broke my Kitchenaide. It took 4 years, but it finally happened. So the method works, just be very careful.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free flours and Arrowhead Mills are higher quality companies. The problem is the cost. Not that I believe they are being unreasonable. I have been involved with health food for 30 years. I'm aware that foods with higher nutritional value and specialty foods always carry a higher price.

It's my present low income and allergy difficulties that necessitates cooking from scratch. Despite the tax break given in the U.S. to those diagnosed with Celiac disease I find the high cost of these food items a hard expenditure to meet. With flours as the main ingredient in baking it's important to know how to use the various different kinds, and where to get the better prices.

Naturally low fat grains like rice, millet, quinoa, and teff are easily milled through my Kitchenaid grain mill. I grind 5 lbs. of millet and 10 lbs. of brown rice about every other week.

However, almonds are a trickier business. Because the grain mill is not made for nuts, I use my Kitchenaid food grinder instead.But,simply dumping the nuts into the hopper will cause the machine to bind-up. While the process is tedious, it is well worth the cost savings. The difference of $14 a pound for almond meal over buying Now brand almonds at $5.58 for 1 lbs. at my local health food store I'm willing to patiently make my own almond meal.

One big difference between home-ground almonds and the meal you receive from Bob's Red Mill is his almonds are blanched; the skins are removed. This makes a prettier flour for use in dishes which need a clean looking presentation, such as a yellow cake. Removing the skins is more work than I am willing to do for everyday use in such as bread or pancakes.
Here are my
Step-by-step instructions for grinding almonds
  1. Attach food grinder with the course grind disk and turn Kitchenaid to speed level 4.
  2. Drop one or two almonds at a time into the hopper. See video below. Out comes out will be *chunky.
  3. To make a finer almond meal switch to the finer grind disk, and then pour meal, in small amounts, back through the grinder.
  4. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator until ready for use.

*Chunky almond meal is good in bread, pancakes, cookies, and muffins.

video

It a boring video, but you see how slowly I push the almonds through the hopper.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Few Things To Share

My daughter Lisa and I have entered a Scarecrow contest. The winner receives a $20 gift certificate. The scarecrow will be sold in a silent auction. The proceeds go to our county library.

Lisa is doing well with her homeschool. We are in transition as Dad takes over more of the teaching, so hopefully, I can develop a business. It's in very early stages so nobody hold your breath, I don't know how far I'm going to get.


I used shaving cream to clean my couch. Microfiber is good stuff, very washable. It looks a lot better, but as soon as there is warm weather this spring I'm going to clean it again.


I'm still as busy as ever.

I've been to a couple of prenatal office visits with my daughter-in-law. I was acting as navigator, for the forty mile trip to Grand Rapids.

My mock corn bread didn't taste like corn bread. The recipe needs a little tweaking and it'll make a good millet bread.

If I don't post about grinding my own almond meal this week I will do so on Monday the 26th. I have video to accompany it.

Check out my Fall Nature Pictures, click here.

I have a sore throat, but no resting now. It's time for me to go shopping.

Take Care and May God bless You.

Fall Nature Shots



I took a walk down the road to Little Bear Creek.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm Finally Cleaning My Couch Today


My home is so small I have a love seat instead of a couch.

This love seat is only 3 years old, but well used. As you can see by this picture it is over due for a real cleaning.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin Muffin Cake


I've been brewing a mock cornbread recipe in my brain for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately I haven't been able to coordinate time, energy, and supplies to actually make some. I set out to make the recipe this morning only to find I didn't have what I needed. There I stood with a greased cake pan waiting for mock cornbread. Okay, what I need now is to employ my free styling tendencies. I'll make muffin cake instead, because I have muffin supplies and I have to put something in that pan before I wash it.

Starting with my Anything You Need Muffins recipe I put together the following.


1 ¼ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup millet flour
¼ cup garbanzo bean flour
¼ cup almond meal
1 tsp. guar gum
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup raisins
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup soy milk

To make muffins, combine dry ingredients, then mix in wet ingredients until moist. Grease and flour a muffin tin and fill the cups full or pour into a greased 9x9 inch cake pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400° for 20 minutes for muffins, 30 minutes for cake.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Good Website to Check Often



I have mentioned Cain Credicott's website The Celiac Maniac before and I just have to mention it again. His recipes are very good. I just made myself some of his Sweet Potato Breakfast and it was heavenly.

Yes, it was meant for breakfast, but I love to eat breakfast at any meal. I'm quite fond of breakfast type foods.

Some thing's Got to Give

Last week was Labor Day, so I posted on Tuesday instead of my usual Monday. This week I thought I was going to clean my couch and maybe post again on Tuesday, but I am going to the lab for blood work. Next Monday I'm going with my Daughter-in-law to her prenatal in Grand Rapids. This all makes me think I should switch my blogging day to Tuesday or Wednesday. At this point my guess is I will be posting a copy of my mock cornbread this week and how I make my own almond meal next week. I just decided I will post on Wednesdays.

I would like to take this moment to mention that the Honey Cake recipe I posted on Saturday turned out tough. If you substitute ¼ cup of almond meal for a ¼ of rice flour you should a better cake. If you can't have almond meal try a ½ cup of tapioca flour for a ½ cup of rice flour. Let me know how it works for you.

Take care and May God bless you.
Colleen

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gluten-free Honey Cake


I don't have time to chat. I just made some honey cake in honor of Rosh Hashanah. It's quick and easy, so I wanted to share it.



Gluten-free Honey Cake
Dry ingredients:
3 c. brown rice flour
1 c. millet flour
1 c. sugar
6 tsp. Baking powder
1 tsp. Baking soda
2 tsp. Guar gum
1 tsp. cinnamon

Moist ingredients:
2 Tbs. Smart Balance Light
2 eggs
1 c. strong black coffee


Mix all the dry ingredient together.
Add the moist ingredients.
Mix well.
Preheat oven to 325°
Grease 2 9x9 cake pans
Pour in batter and let rise in cake pans until the oven is ready.
Bake for 55 minutes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How Fat Affects Your Gluten-free Cooking


The house is quiet. Lisa and Ken really should get out of bed, but school is out for her and he is laid off. I often don't have the time or inclination for their type of luxuries.

Although I have a skirt to let out for Lisa, some cooking, cleaning, and editing to do; I wanted to take the time to talk to you about fat. I'm not talking about the polyunsaturated, mono-saturated kind, nor how we all eat far more fat than we think we do. I wanted to share how fat affects your gluten-free cooking.

Each ingredient in a recipe has a job to do. Understanding the role of each item brings a balance to the whole recipe. Then converting recipes to suit your health needs and taste preferences become a joy, not an overwhelming task. You will be set free to engage in freestyle cooking.

Fat can be a great flavor enhancer to regular baking, however it has another job. Fats such as shortening, and butter in gluten baking reduces moisture's ability to form gluten protein chains. These chains bring strength and elasticity to bread. Without these chains fat helps to produce a more tender cake.

Non-gluten flours are bulk and flavor. Without the gluten proteins fat becomes unnecessary to produce a moist, tender cake. It's use in a gluten-free recipe can be a flavor enhancer, but in the case of rice flour it tends to create a mushy mess that does not rise.

To summarize, when converting a recipe consider the purpose of the fat in the recipe. If it is to make a tender cake-like item such as pancakes, muffins, quick breads, or cakes you may be able to eliminate the fat altogether. If fat is in the recipe as a flavor enhancer cut the amount in half (or more)and use butter or a butter substitute. If the recipe calls for applesauce or other fruit puree leave out the fat, altogether.

Since I have posted breads, banana bread, and muffins previously, I will provide you with my fat-free apple cake. I use chopped apples instead of applesauce, because applesauce tends to sink to the bottom of the pan before the cake is cooked.

Gluten-free low-fat
Apple Cake">

1 cup rice flour

1 tsp guar gum

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1½ cups sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup chopped apples

1/3 cup apple juice

1 tsp vanilla


Mix all dry ingredients.

Add all the wet ingredients and mix just until uniformly moist.

Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 9 cake pan*.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


*I have doubled this recipe and baked it in a 9 x 13 pan, but I like the results best in smaller pans.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yeast-free Bread

After achieving “success” with bread I learned that yeast can, not only give me a headache, it causes me to become faint. I needed a yeast-free bread. For the most part Lisa and I have been using pancakes for bread, it works, but it just isn't bread.

One day I decided to exchange one tablespoon of yeast for one tablespoon of baking powder. My previous bread recipe called for starch. Without the yeast I could feel the starch in my mouth. It was unpleasant. I could taste it too. I started over, lowering the starch amount and worked on a multi-grain bread. Let's face it without the yeast it looses an important flavor. So those who can have yeast tend to miss it in this bread, however it does have a good bread texture and it's flavor is closer to bread than pancakes.

While this recipe is not vegan, because of the gelatin, in an effort to move my bread recipe towards vegan, I'm using flax seed and water as an egg substitute. Feel free to substitute the flax and water for two large eggs.


I am not having great success with flax seed. Starting at the top of this blog are the first picture is this bread recipe using eggs, the second picture is using flax seed, and the third picture is a previous time I used flax seed. This third picture tells me that I can get a good bread using flax.

Give this bread a try and let me know how it worked for you.


Multi-grain Gluten Free Bread
Grease and flour a bread pan.
Preheat oven to 350°

Whip together in a small bowl and set aside:
2 tbs flax seed
6 tbs water

In a separate bowl mix together:
¾ c. brown rice flour
½ c. almond meal
½ c. millet flour
½ c. teff
½ c. quinoa flakes
1 package of unflavored gelatin
2 tsp. guar gum
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbs. corn-free baking powder

Add the flax seed mixture,
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. olive oil
Mix together and add to the above ingredients:
1 ¾ c. warm water
1 tsp. Fleischman's apple cider vinegar


Mix until all dry ingredients are moist. Pour into loaf pan.
Bake for 70 minutes.
Remove from pan right away.
Let cool before cutting.

Next I'm going to learn how to make sourdough bread.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pancake Varation




½ c. brown rice flour
¼ c. almond meal
¼ c. garbanzo bean flour
¼ c. millet flour
¾ tsp. Guar gum
2 tsp. Baking powder
2 Tbs. Brown sugar
1 egg
1 c. water

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add in the wet ingredients and stir until moist. Pour ¼ cup amounts on a hot griddle. Cook first side until bubbles appear in the surface. Flip and cook until golden brown on the second side.


Try topping your pancakes with homemade apple pie filling.

Peel, core, and chop 4 apples. Place in a sauce pan with:
¼ water
½ tsp. Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Tbs. Lemon juice
2 Tbs. Brown sugar

Stir and cook on medium heat until tender.

Place 2 tsp. Arrowroot starch and a tablespoon of cold water in a cup. Stir until starch is dissolved, then pour into apple mixture. Stir quickly, then pull off heat when thick.

Top pancakes and enjoy.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Pancake Update



Recently, I found the cause for a recurring stomach pain. It was my brand of soy milk, Soy Dream. If it doesn't say gluten-free on it and there isn't a gluten item in the ingredients list, check one or more of the gluten-free lists available online (this isn't always trust worthy), consider the company, call the company, call a friend, but whatever you do, don't assume it's completely gluten-free safe.

Because of this sudden revelation I have more than a case of Soy Dream to sell somewhere, also I was suddenly having to make my pancakes without the protein the soy milk provided. This leaves the pancakes mushy.

I have said it before, fat has a way of making rice flour recipes mushy. One day I just stopped adding fat to my pancake recipe. As long as my griddle has a good non-stick surface properly seasoned, I don't have any problems.

One of the problems with gluten-free cooking is it just doesn't have as much flavor as wheat. I have noticed a new trend in online gluten-free recipes baking recipes. The changing of white sugar to brown sugar so,




Here is my emergency alternative recipe:
½ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup garbanzo bean flour
¼ cup Millet flour
¼ cup brown sugar ( I have found agave to work well)
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
½ tsp slightly rounded, guar gum/or xanthan gum
1 egg
1 cup of water.

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add in the wet ingredients and stir until moist. Pour ¼ cup amounts on a hot griddle. Cook first side until bubbles appear in the surface. Flip and cook until golden brown on the second side.






If you can't have bean flour or milk try almond meal. Almond meal is expensive, but doesn't have a strong flavor. I'm just starting to work with almond meal so I don't have any tips for you, just yet.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Updates


I have new information on some of my previous posts. I will be posting several of them, so check back each Monday.

I'll start with my goals, directly after publishing my plans I became sick with one illness after another. I had to quit my exercise program for 2 months. I'm finally back on track. I'm sure the goals I have set are too high, but I am going to accomplish as much of it as I can.

When my daughter gets frustrated and overwhelmed by a situation, such getting behind in her chores or her school work, I tell her let's just see what you can do. Well, in this case, what's good for the gosling is good for the goose. Let's just see what I can do.

Vinegar
I'm excited about this. Apple cider vinegar is used as a dough conditioner in bread making and in many other recipes. It also relieves pain in the gall bladder caused by an irritated polyp. I was disappointed when I read that apple cider vinegar is not gluten-free. It has better flavor and nutrients than white vinegar. White vinegar is good for cleaning. As always, while shopping I stopped to read labels. After reading a few on vinegar bottles. I found Fleischmann's Organic apple Cider Vinegar with gluten-free written on the label. It's has a milder flavor compared to Bragg's, my previously preferred brand.

Hot Candy canes
I love my hot candy canes milk, but it turns out that my body can't handle corn, either. That pretty much leaves off most candy. So instead of Spangler's candy canes I use Simply Organics Peppermint oil flavoring. This allows me to make this a cold drink perfect for hot summer evenings. While Simply Organics doesn't tout gluten-free, it's labels are clear and simple. What's more their Vanilla doesn't have corn syrup added. I have not experienced a gluten problem with their products.
I've, also, turned this into two different types of pudding. Here are the recipes:

Candy Cane Milk
2 cups your choice of milk type
¼ cup of sweetener (sugar, agave, maple syrup...)
1 tsp Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
¼ tsp Simply Organic Peppermint oil
½ tsp guar gum
1.If you are making this a hot drink warm your milk first.
2.Pour milk into the blender.
3.Turn blender on low and remove the center of the cover.
4.Add the sweetener, vanilla, and peppermint.
5.Finally add the guar gum and blend for 5 more seconds.

Candy Cane Tofu Pudding
1 pound cake of silken tofu
¾ cup sweetener (best flavor to least, sugar, agave, maple syrup, honey)
½ tsp Simply Organic Peppermint oil
2 tsp Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
¼ cup oil (*optional)
Place all ingredients in the blender, and blend until smooth and creamy.
This recipe is adapted from Tofu Cookery by Louse Hagler. Her pudding recipes call for oil, but I make them without the oil. The oil does make the pudding feel better in the mouth. Another choice I have used is ½ tsp guar gum/xanthan gum.

Pudding Mix
¼ cup your choice of dry milk
¼ cup of Arrowroot starch
¼ cup sugar
Place mix in a sauce pan with 2 cups of liquid milk. Cook over low heat until thickened and comes to a boil. Cook for one more minute before removing from heat.

For Candy Cane Pudding
Mix in:
1 tsp Simply Organic Vanilla Extract
¼ tsp Simply Organic Peppermint oil
Pour into individual serving dishes
Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface to avoid a skin.
Place in the refrigerator to cool before serving (unless you like it hot. :O)
This recipe was adapted from Cheaper & Better by Nancy Birnes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pasta Salad



I'm a member of a new social network for those with Celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Gluten-free Faces was started by Chad Hines known as Glutenfreedude on Twitter. On Gluten-free Faces, I am a member of the recipe exchange group. The recipe group was started by Cain Credicott the blog author of The Celiac Maniac.


His post, Citrus chicken pasta salad looked so good I had to try it, that night. I had a few problems making it. I didn't have any chicken, walnuts, green onions, Dijon mustard, rice vinegar, nor a can of whole black olives. It was time to do some free styling.


I started by cooking a can of garbanzo beans for 20 minutes. This was added to my serving of the salad. Ken and Lisa were eating grilled steak so, they didn't need the beans, besides Ken doesn't like garbanzo beans.


Cain's salad called for chopped red onions and green onions. I simply ignored the lack of green onions. I don't care much for raw onions-unless they're green. I lightly sautéed the red onions in 2 tsp of olive oil.

His dressing seemed too spicy for my taste, although not for Ken's, who said I should have followed the recipe. If he knew chicken was in the salad, he wouldn't have said that. I cut the amount of pepper in half. Instead of Dijon mustard I used a teaspoon of dry mustard powder. The one thing I would change about the dressing for next time is to homogenize it for a creamier dressing.


I was going to use pecans instead of the walnuts, but decided on almonds in the end. The problem I had with this choice was Cain roasted the walnuts in the oven. I'm not complaining. It's nice to finally have some warmth this summer, it's just that, it's too warm to want the oven on. I had this other problem; the almonds were whole. So I ran the almonds in a mini chopper. I had a bad mix of almond powder and big chucks.


Then, I made the mistake of trying to dry roast them in the pan I sautéed the onions in. The powdered part of the almonds stuck to the bottom of the pan and burned. Through a little bit a shaking and stirring I got most of the big chucks to one side and the powdered part to the other, allowing me to scoop out the burned part. For next time, I'm keeping slivered almonds on hand.


Finally, while putting this together I was sure this salad was begging for a chopped up apple. So I gave it one, skin and all.

Introducing the pasta salad inspired by Cain Credicott's salad.


Tossed Citrus Pasta salad

Start with what can be made the day before if desired.

Dressing:

Place in blender and turn on the lowest setting.

1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dry mustard powder
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp Fleischman's apple cider vinegar



Open the top of the blender and pour 4 Tbs of olive oil in a thin slow steady stream. Place dressing in a jar and store in the fridge until ready to use.



Now, cook 1 15oz can of Garbanzo beans for twenty minutes, then drain.

For those with a stronger stomach than mine the cooking may not be necessary. Either place beans in a jar and store in the fridge until ready.


½ cup of slivered almonds, dry roasted.

To dry roast any nut simply place in a frying pan on medium heat and stir constantly. Slivered almonds will burn quickly, keep a close eye on them. Roast until desired brownness. If using an iron frying pan don't leave the nuts in the pan when you remove it from the heat, it will keep cooking.

For best taste and nutrition the rest of the ingredients should be prepared at the same time you put the salad together.

1 10 oz. box of Glutino rice penne noodles cooked according to the package directions. Rinse in cold water.

1 cup finely chopped red onions slightly sautéed

3/4 cup chopped celery

3 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

1 2.25 0z. can of sliced black olives

1 small, diced, red apple


Although we ate the salad right away, I think one hour chilling time in the refrigerator would improve it.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Real Grandma, Real Cookies






My grandma was short and plump, and wore glasses. When she put together a holiday feast you better come hungry and in loose clothes. Two kinds of meat,potatoes, gravy, and stuffing, two kind of vegetables and a salad, cranberry sauce, nuts, two kinds of olives, cream cheese stuffed celery, three kinds - no four kinds of pie, a cake, cookies and homemade rolls, I don't know how she did it all. Despite, after having been sent to help her, I was made to sit on a kitchen stool and watch.

She told these wonderful little tales while I watched her clean and cook. When she spoke some were told in a whisper. Her eyes filled with mischief, as if she was telling you a great secret. She had a small toy box of things to play with and there were always cookies in Grandma's cookie jar.

This is my grandma. This is the perfection my sons believe I should fulfill. When Jared and Melissa had Gordon, I was told I have to keep cookies in the cookie jar because I was now a grandma. I had been busy trying to make gluten-free family meals. At the same time I was fighting the debilitating symptoms of accidental gluten contaminations. I just haven't been able to take the time for cookies.

However, cookies have turned out to be easy. As always for rice I cut the fat and I add guar gum. The two recipes I have included here is for peanutbutter and cinnamon sugar cookies. This weekend I'm hoping to turn those sugar cookie into chocolate ship cookies.

Peanutbutter cookies
Makes 24 cookies

Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix together:
1 cup Almond meal
½ cup rice flour
½ millet flour
1 cup Brown sugar
2 tsp guar gum
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt

Using a whip blend
2 Tbs ground flax seed
6 Tbs boiling water
in a separate small dish. Set aside to thicken.

Add and blend in the first bowl:
3 Tbs shortening
1 cup peanutbutter
1 tsp vanilla

Whip the flax seed and water one more time before adding it to the mix.
Mix well.
Place well rounded tablespoonfuls on cookie sheet, then press out onto cookie sheet using a fork.
Bake 12 minutes.



Cinnamon Sugar Cookies
Makes 24 cookies

Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix together:
¾ cup rice flour
½ cup millet flour
¾ cup almond meal
2 tsp guar gum
½ tsp baking power
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar

Cut in:
3 tbs shortening
2 tbs smart balance light
Whip up and then add
2 egg amount of flax seed
2 tsp vanilla or almond extract

Roll small balls of dough in cinnamon and sugar.
Place on a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches a part.
Using your palm, press down to flatten into cookie shapes.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Final note on sugar cookies: I've had these come out cake like and I have had them come out chewy. If you add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder you get the cake-like cookie. If you decrease the millet flour and increase the rice flour you get a chewy cookie.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What I Did for My Summer Vacation





We did what most families do on the fourth. We started with grilled burgers-all the fixing's included, potato chips, strawberry gelatin, and watermelon. After dinner Jared,my middle born (24,) and Lisa, my last (nearly 13,) had a marble fight with my decorative marbles.

Then we played a baseball game. Home base was a faded Frisbee. First base was a park bench tucked way over there in the corner, under the maple tree. Second base doubled as the pitchers mound. Shortstop was a large pine trees with a screen of branches hanging down. Third base was on the other side of the bushes at the antennae pole. And catcher, K. C. my first born (29,) slipped on the abundance of mulberries under the mulberry tree.

After our game we eat mulberry pie. My eldest son told me that my gluten-free Mulberry Pie jaded him. Each year our three Mulberry trees is full of mulberries ripe, just in time, for the Fourth of July. Every year my husband, Ken, asks for mulberry pie and each time I made one, it would come out runny, which would then turn the gluten-licious crust to mush. Yet, it was this year's gluten-free pie that jaded my son and lead him to claim that I should share my failures, too.

This year's pie had a double whammy. First, hoping to avoid the runny filling I added some arrowroot starch to the Minute Tapioca. The filling came out like gum. I could claim that I have solved the runny problem. Second, gluten-free crust just isn't your old favorite wheat and dairy pie crust. I've tried at least three different gluten-free pie crust recipes . I don't want to try any of them, again. The one, I used for this mulberry pie, came the closest to real pie crust.

It was a beautiful looking pie and we did eat it. The dough had been difficult to handle. It kept falling apart. The finished crust crumbled at a touch and was gritty in the mouth. This was the pie that jaded K.C.

I rarely find gluten-free recipes, created by others, that work for me. I have more success studying my old recipes and applying some of the science I've learned about gluten-free cooking. This was the case with my tortilla recipe, it's the tortilla recipe my husband and I decided I should turn into pie crust. It didn't work either. The dough handled better, but the finished crust was hard and slightly gritty.


The new mulberry pie was, sort of, a hit. Melissa said, “It's 100% better.”

K.C. Said, “It's 1000% better. I'm more allergic to the stems then the berries. Can't you do something about the stems?”

Jared couldn't finish it. He decided he only likes fresh mulberries. He didn't like the stems. He didn't like the crust either. It's not the same as real pie crust.

Lisa, my gluten-free gal, said, “It's perfect. Accept, I don't like the stems either.”

Ken said, “It's good. Can't you do something about the stems.”

Since, I'm not going to sit down and pick the tiny stems off of 6 cups of mulberries, I made an apple pie next. I thought if I add just a little more water the dough might handle better. The handling was only slightly better. However, the crust was tough.


I'm not sure it was the water that caused the toughness. It is possible the longer time needed for cooking the apples caused the problem. I will try again, but for now here is

My present version of a not perfect pie crust


Mix the following dry ingredients:
¼ cup Arrowroot starch
¼ cup tapioca flour
1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
¼ Millet flour
2 tsp guar gum
1tsp sea salt
1 tsp Cream of tartar
2 tsp sugar
Cut the following in with a pastry blend, until it looks like cornmeal size grain:
4 Tbs Spectrum Palm shortening
3 Tabs Smart balance, light
Add:
1 tsp apple cider vinegar*
½ cup hot water
Mix the vinegar with the water before pouring it into the mixture. Roll out half the dough on a floured sheet of wax paper. Place crust in greased and floured pie plate. Pour in the filling, place and then pinch top crust. Bake for no more than 30 - 40 minutes. I believe that over cooking is a part of what can make this crust hard. If your filling needs more cooking time then consider using precooked filling.
* I have recently learned apple cider vinegar is not gluten-free. I see it's use in many gluten-free recipes. There is many conflicting facts about what you can and cannot eat on a gluten-free diet. It is best to do your own label reading and not rely on anyone's word, not even what Celiac associations have said.