Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Muffin Man


I am the muffin man, muffin man, and I live on Drury Lane, da, da....  

Ok, I remember my mom singing that to me as a child and I pictured a person that was made out of muffins--a la the gingerbread man. Now I know they mean the muffin baker. And why shouldn't there be a song about the person who creates those lovely, pillowy treats that range from the healthful to slightly sinful? Now Garden Lites, the people who brought us those flavorful little gluten free veggie souffles, have come out with a line of delicious frozen muffins (4 to a box), that my kids enjoy eating as a treat, and I enjoy eating because they're healthy and taste great.  I have one child who tends to run late, and grabs a gluten free muffin on her way out the door. Since I don't always have time to make them myself, I am grateful for the healthy options Garden Lites is offering, such as Zucchini Chocolate, Veggie Blueberry Oat and Carrot Berry Veggie muffins (just to name a few). My favorite are the vibrant carrot muffins. The veggies in question are well concealed, and the kids just think the muffins taste yummy. 

Like most other food "trends*", such as low fat and low carb, often the packaged offerings are nothing more than junk food with a "health halo". But the new muffins from Garden Lites, like their classic souffles, are products I really have confidence in for my family.  I had to scramble to get the last one from the box before my daughter got to it, but was happy to see it is stocked in my local supermarket!

*I'm sorry to lump gluten free in the category or a "trend" as whether it's in or not, celiacs need to eat gluten free. 

A new trend I've noticed is the  use of muffin pans for more than just, well muffins.   You can make mini quiches, crustless or otherwise, meatloaves (a favorite in our house), kugels, challah rolls and so much more. It is an especially useful tool for the food allergic/sensitive as you can keep batches of these foods in ziplocs in the freezer, and pull them out as needed. So if the individual on a special diet is eating somewhere they need to bring their own food, they can just pull it out or microwave the perfectly portion controlled item.

They also make neat ways to prevent old favorites, which I've found kids respond to especially well. For example the classic, huevos rancheros,  salsa, corn tortillas and eggs looks positively adorable made in a muffin pan, and you have the bonus of being able to make them for a crowd rather effortlessly.

For those dairy allergic sub soy or rice cheese in this recipe, or omit completely. For egg allergic, layer refried beans or a black bean and corn mixture under the salsa. Enjoy!

Huevos Rancheros Muffin Cups

12 cup non-stick muffin pan
cooking spray or favorite oil (about 1 Tbsp.)
8 small corn tortillas

1 1/4 cups chunky style salsa, divided
8 medium or small eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sour cream, optional
 Pre-heat oven to 400F degrees.  Spray 8 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray. Place tortillas in muffin pans, they will flute up like a flower. Lightly spray edges with cooking spray, or brush with oil (you may also lay them flat before putting in muffin cups and brush with oil).
Spoon approximately 2 tablespoons of salsa into each tortilla. Crack each egg into a custard cup and carefully pour into muffin cups, keeping yolk whole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until yolk is firm, but still somewhat runny. 5 minutes into baking time, remove from oven and sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around edges of muffin cups and carefully transfer to serving plate.  Serve warm, garnished with avocado, sour cream, if desired, and additional salsa.

Serves: 8


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Passover Prep


So I am in the throes of Passover and Planning and Prep (P3), that puts so many balabustas in a tizzy on  a yearly basis. I came across a very helpful book from my library to simplify my life, The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook. The author, Erin Chase, writes a blog www.5dollardinners.com.  Not all of the recipes are gluten free or kosher, but I happened upon several that are good, not only during Passover, but also in those hectic days beforehand.  Some of the prices aren't in line with kosher items (like I pay $7.99 for skinless, boneless chicken breasts), but nevertheless, they are common ingredients and the dinners are just that--complete dinners--not just one dish.  So, as I'm very busy, less writing and more recipes...here you go.

This appealed to me as a chol hamoed recipe, that is the days in between the first and last days of yomim tovim (celebratory days), when everyone is sick of meat, but no one knows what else to make.  Any non-Passover ingredients have been omitted from the original recipes.  To make egg free, whip together 1 heaping tablespoon potato or tapioca starch with 1/4 cup any type of milk.  If dairy free on passover, there isn't a cheese substitute, but you can top with grilled veggies or sliced mushrooms.

Potato Pizza Pie
The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook by Erin Chase, p. 248

6 large white potatoes
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon potato starch or tapioca starch
1 cup tomato sauce, jarred or homemade
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 carrots

Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees. Peel the potatoes and slice into quarters. Grate the potatoes in a food processor fitted with the grating blade. Place in a  mixing bowl.

Beat the eggs and add to the grated potatoes in the bowl.  Mix in the flour, salt, and pepper.

Spread the potato mixture in the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking dish.  Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the potatoes turn golden on top.

Remove the "potato crust" from the oven, and spread 1 cup of sauce over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Add any additional toppings you like, such as mushrooms, sliced peppers or olives.

Return the pizza to the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Cut the potato pizza into squares for serving. 

Peel and cut the carrots int sticks. Serve alongside pizza.

I thought this was a nice idea to my repertoire for yom tov meals. It's easy, filling and nutritious.  You can substitute cubed chicken from any part of the chicken...it doesn't have to be a skinless breast.

Ginger-Sweet Potato Chicken Bake

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook by Erin Chase, p. 107

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 sweet potatoes
1 can (8-ounces) pineapple tidbits, in 100 pineapple juice
 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
salt and pepper

Dice the chicken breasts in 1/2 to 1-inch cubes.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Drain the pineapple, reserving juice for another use.

Pre-heat oven to 250F degrees. In a 9x13-inch baking dish, combine the diced chicken breasts,  sweet potatoes and pineapple. Add the extra-virgin olive oil,spices, and salt and pepper to taste.  Gently toss the ingredients in the baking dish.

Bake the chicken and sweet potatoes in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, uncovered. Remove the dish from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and bake another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through.  (Covering the dish will prevent the sweet potatoes from drying out.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014



In the past month and a half I watched chocolate filled velvet hearts give way to chocolate filled, pastel colored eggs in every pharmacy, supermarket and big box store I've walked into. We all know "those" holidays. But in between those two is another one-- Purim. Like the man holding a gallon of vodka behind me in the liquor store today chided at my pizza hat (not a pizza delivery person's hat but a hat that look's like a pizza from above), "is Halloween early (chuckle and snark)?". "No", I answered, "it's Purim...a Jewish holiday...we dress up." "come again" "purim", "P-U-R-I-M", "He mouthed along as I said it slowly, then it clicked in some vague way.  As an aside, why was I in a liquor store in a pizza hat? Well, long story but we needed more wine for our festive meal and the other people in the car were dressed as a clown in full regalia, Lady Liberty, 2 butterflies or a princess with a crown that said, "Birthday Girl", so a pizza head was actually the best choice in this situation.

Like all holidays, which are a battleground for those with food allergies and sensitivities, Purim is one of those holidays with a big food component. Besides the festive meal, we go door to door with baskets of sweets and treats (yes, it looks like Halloween, sounds like Halloween, but it's not at all like Halloween...except for the costumes and candy).  We actually knock on the door and "give" food door to door instead of "getting" food like on Halloween. But when you bring to others they tend to bring to you. There's always a sense of excitement when the kids peer into the multicolored bags and creatively designed baskets for the sweets they like. And what a twinge in my heart I feel when my allergic and Celiac children look and see nothing they can have. Not to mention that children are kind of let loose to forage in the candy from the crack of dawn till they pass out in a sugary stupor at night with a lollipop held loosely in their hand and a princess crown askew on their head like a prom queen past midnight.  As such there are children in their paths at parties and meals with allergens galore on their hands and faces, to be dodged by those allergic to the mere wisp of peanut breath.

Some considerate friends will pack special bags for those that are allergic, and some will not. The tempting booty will be passed on to a non-allergic sibling to be greedily added to their ever growing piles.  That is why it is so important to have things your allergic/sensitive child can have available which will make them feel included and able to take part in this special aspect of the day.  All the bags we packed to give out included items my kids could eat, so the packing included liberal snacking. Also a tempting dessert like those in Fran Costigan's new book, Vegan Chocolate hit the "sweet spot". These items are not only vegan, but use seriously healthy ingredients like maple syrup and coconut oil.  The author graciously included a number of gluten free baked goods, such as Gluten Free Chocolate Torte to Live For, Intensely Chocolate Trifle and Chocolate Chunk Cookies. As well as those that are naturally gluten free like Raw Chocolate Fudge and Mandarin Orange Tart, Chocolate Horchanta and Mocha Creme Brulee. And all of the recipes are free of dairy, eggs and animal products!
Costigan's book has very detailed recipes, so that even the novice can follow along to baking perfection. In addition, she goes into detail about vegan ingredients (which may be unfamiliar to some), types of chocolate and equipment needed to achieve culinary success. Desserts are divided into chapters by type, such as Truffles, Pies and Tarts, and Frozen Desserts--just to name a few. The gluten free and allergic amongst us will not be disappointed with this book.

So even if you aren't giving to people on special diets, you can make your baskets special. by allowing as broad a range of people to eat your treats, and maybe an allergic child can look in the basket you hand over and the smile will not fade from their face.

These little gems (literally did you know that muffin pans used to be called "gem pans'?) are real stunners and the perfect sweet bite. My neighbor stopped in while I was making them and commented that they look very impressive. So you don't always have to "go big or go home", for some reason miniature desserts look elegant and are sure to wow.

Gluten-Free Brownie Bites

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. gluten-free all purpose flour blend
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
3 1/2 Tbsp. organic whole cane sugar (ground in blender until powdered)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/4 tsp xanthan or guar gum (unless it's already in your flour blend)
1/4 cup mild tasting extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup any nondairy milk
1/4 cup prune puree (can be found in baking aisle, or use baby food prunes, or make your own)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. chocolate extract (optional)
1/4 cup mini gluten-free vegan chocolate chips.

(I've condensed the instructions somewhat from the original)

1. Pre-heat oven to 325F degrees. Spray a 24 cup mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Sift together baking mix, cocoa powder, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum into a large mixing bowl. Whisk to aerate.  Set aside. (A "cheat" on sifting is to just whisk all very well in a large bowl).

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, nondairy milk, prune puree, and extracts until thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid in the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until all dry ingredients are incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Fill baking cups 2/3 full and bake for 12 to 13 minutes, until brownies have risen and fell set when lightly tapped. A wooden toothpick inserted into the center should look sticky but not wet.

7. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then gently transfer to a rack to cool completely. For the best flavor, refrigerate brownies for one hour before serving.  Serve plain, dusted with confectioner's sugar or frost as desired.

Yield: 24 mini brownies


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Super snackin'...



Pre-Game Fun in the Sun Snow


Are you ready for some football?!!!  I'm not. The last time I watched the Super Bowl (I hope I don't have to pay the NFL a fee for using those two words together), I remember there was pizza involved, and the males of the family took over the family room-- so I kind of had no choice. As I explained to my daughter the other day when she queried how you play football, I explained it like this, "They throw the ball 20 feet, then stop for 20 minutes, repeat."  Tell me if that's not an accurate summation?  But living 10 minutes up the road from the site of Super Bowl 48 (why do they insist on using Roman numerals? No one can remember what they mean!), everyone is in a tizzy around here about the Big Game (a phrase you legally can use without paying the NFL an exorbitant fee).

Although I dislike football, I do like feeding people, and especially enjoy the whimsy of finger food. The Big Game is an opportunity to entertain in a casual fashion.  That brings a sigh of relief from not only the hostess but the guests as well. No need for pretense, formalities or polite conversation. Most people will be focused on the event on the screen.  Hearty, casual fare is the name of the game for this time of year. Given this isn't a sit down dinner party, but more of a balance you plate on your lap while sitting on the couch sort of thing, the food needs to be easy to eat as well.

Dips and chips are ubiquitous at these gatherings, but providing meal type of food that will nourish your guests is a good idea.  A buffet table allows your guests to graze at breaks in the game, as well as allowing for easy serving. A crock pot of chili will stay warm for hours, allowing your guests to replenish as needed, and for you to kick back on the BarcaLounger.  Scatter a variety of dips including healthy hummuses (see below), salsas and guacamole with a variety of gluten free chips around the room for easy access. Dips no longer have to be the sour cream and mayonnaise laden affairs of yesteryear. You can incorporate healthier options using veggies and legumes, pureeing all for a creamier texture without the fat. A large pitcher or beverage serving container filled with non-alcoholic punch, tea or lemonade, or an alcoholic version for the adults of a "signature drink", make a nice addition to your beverage service.  Trays of bite sized desserts are great for grabbing and returning to ones seat.  Don't forgot to use paper goods, in team colors,  so you can enjoy the kick off and the clean up equally well!

 This variation of a "frank-in-blanket", or corn dog, however you want to look at it, is healthier using a corn tortilla instead of fat laden puff pastry, and is baked instead of a traditional fried corn dog. Since I don't eat meat and milk together (and for allergy reasons), I used soy hot dogs and soy cheese. These can be served whole and picked up in hand, an especially popular option for kids, halved and stuck on lollipop or popsicle sticks, or cut in 1/4s and served as hors d'ouevres with toothpicks.  Serve with dippers such as mustard, ketchup and salsa.

Game Day Cheezy Doggy Dippers

8 small corn tortillas
1 pkg. Lightlife Smart Dogs
4 slices Tofutti American Cheese, halved,  (or dairy cheese if you can have it), or 4 Tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese
vegetable oil spray
16 popsicle or lollipop sticks (purchase at craft store)
Ketchup and mustard

Pre-heat oven to 400F degrees. Spray a baking non-stick 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray, set aside.

Place tortillas on a flat surface. For each tortilla, place hot dog about a half-inch from the edge and a slice of cheese (or 1/2 Tbsp. shredded) next to it.  Roll up and place seam side down in the baking pan.

 Lightly spray with cooking spray (you may use a Misto sprayer with your oil of choice if you prepare to avoid the store-bought spray).

Bake for 20-25 minutes in pre-heated oven, until cheese melts and tortillas are lightly browned around edges and crispy.

Let cool 5 minutes. Slice diagonally and insert a lollipop stick.  Serve with ketchup and mustard, or any dip you like!

Yield: 16 servings

This dip is a healthy,and spicy version of hummus from celebrity personal chef Olivia Dupin in her new book, Gluten-Free Entertaining. For a sesame free version omit the tahini. Serve with cut up veggies and tortilla chips.

Lentil Jalapeno Hummus
from Gluten-Free Entertaining by Oliva Dupin, p. 104

3 cups water
1 cup green lentils
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeno
1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan.  Add the lentils and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender. Reserve about  1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the lentils in a colander.                            

Place the garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse to chop.  Add the lentils, jalapeno, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper along with 2 Tablespoons of the reserved cooking water.  Process until the mixture is smooth and creamy, adding more water, if needed, to get a smooth dip that isn't too thick. Season with more salt and pepper indeed, and serve.

Yield:  6 servings

Note: Not all recipes below are gluten or allergy free. They are part of a "link-up" of various bloggers.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Making and Baking


This time of year the end of aisle displays include packages of flour and sugar stacked up like a brick wall, vanilla, scary looking red and green petrified fruit, and all manner of baking supplies. For those of us who bake for special diets, such as gluten free or vegan, our supplies are off the beaten path. Sometimes they can only be procured at health food stores or online. However, lately I have seen more and more options in the "regular" stores, such as millet flour, coconut sugar and agave nectar.  These new found conveniences can be put to good use with two great new "from scratch" cookbooks for special diets. The first in her continuing series, Laurie Sadowski presents gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and soy-free goodies in The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies.  If you're hankering for the comforting smell and taste of home baked bread, try Gluten-Free Bread:  More than 100 Artisan Loaves for a Healthier Life by Ellen Brown .

The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies by Laurie Sadowski takes no shortcuts, but yields wonderfully fresh tasting and flavorful baked goods without gluten, dairy, egg or soy---no easy feat. Baking both vegan and gluten free is a balancing act akin to the feats of Chinese acrobats. It takes skill and artistry, and if done right, the results are awesome. Laurie Sadowski has achieved this using fresh, real ingredients like millet and sorghum flours, coconut oil, avocados, tahini and flaxseed to create an array of cookies, cakes, bars and cupcakes. The recipes range from the familiar like Boston Cream Pie and New Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake to Mini Triple-Coconut Cupcakes and Shortbread with Dried Cherries and Cacao Nibs. Being a Canadian, maple syrup figures prominently in Sadowski's book with the likes of Maple-Cinnamon Biscotti and Cream-Filled Maple Leaf Cookies.

The recipes are clear, but the ingredient list can seem daunting. Don't be discouraged. Just gather your ingredients incrementally, and like any recipe, read through it first.  The other downside is I would have preferred more pictures of the actual desserts. The pages are jam packed with black and white pictures of bakeries from around the world, which is charming, but there are only a few of the actual desserts and several of the author in retro-50's housewife gear.  The bakery pictures, I suppose, are a nod to the international variety of recipes in the book, but I believe most people want an idea of what the finished dish will look like.

Lastly, the author provides a comprehensive explanation of ingredients, nutritional information for gluten-free flours, as well as tips to help you in this specialty area of baking. Overall it is a winner for the home baker who enjoys using quality ingredients for fantastic results.

In Ellen Brown's new book, Gluten-Free Bread, the seasoned cookbook author has brought us a volume with an extensive array of breads, focaccias, bagels and almost all the savory, gluten-free baked goods one could want. From Muesli bread to French Baguette to Traditional English Dried Currant Scones, even Cornbread Stuffing-- this book has got it all.

Brown provides a thorough explanation of flours, yeast and the overall processes necessary to achieve great bread without the essential ingredient that makes bread so deliciously "bready"--gluten. 

The photography in Gluten-Free Bread is worth mentioning as well. Steve Legato's artistic photos give a clear rendering of what to expect from the finished product.

The recipes are clear and easy to follow. As the subtitle states, these are "artisan" recipes, implying they are crafted by those who care to take the time for a superior product.  I made the challah recipe in individual Bundts; each one really is enough for 2 servings. They looked adorable and tasted yummy straight out of the oven. Like most gluten-free breads, they are best freshly baked or warmed up in the oven.

Whichever book you choose, these make great gifts and are sure to keep the recipient occupied in the kitchen for a long time.

My kid's really liked this one. The real orange zest and juice give this bundt cake a really great fresh, vibrant taste.  I subbed all-purpose gluten free blend for the other flours in the cake, and it came out fine.

Chocolate Chunk-Orange Bundt Cake
The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and Cookies by Laurie Sadowski, p.p. 30-31 (note: I have condensed the text of the recipe).


1 1/4 cups sorghum flour, plus more for sprinkling the pan
1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon tapioca flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups unrefined cane sugar
2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup finely grated orange zest (about 4 large oranges)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tablespoon ground flaxseeds
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups vegan buttermilk (for each cup, mix 1 Tbsp. vinegar into non-dairy milk (i.e. soy or rice milk))
1 1/2 cups nondairy semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar

Orange Drizzle:
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache:
2 Tablespoons nondairy milk
1  1/2 teaspoons coconut oil or vegan buttery spread
1/4 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips

To make cake:  Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Lightly oil a 10-inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. Sprinkle with sorghum flour, tapping out excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together first 8 ingredients.

Put the sugar, coconut oil, orange zest, orange juice, flaxseeds, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl. Mix on medium-low speed; beat until well combined.

Turn the mixer to low. Alternately add the flour mixer (3 additions) and buttermilk (2 additions), beginning and ending with the flour mixer, beating well after each addition. Turn off the mixer.

In a small bowl, toss together the chocolate chunks and 1 tablespoon tapioca flour, until well coated.  Add the chunks to the batter, stirring with a spatula until evenly distributed. Immediately stir int he cider vinegar until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan using the rubber spatula. Smooth the top with the spatula.  Bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  The cake will be golden brown, begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, and will spring back when lightly touched.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert the cake directly onto a serving dish. Let cool to room temperature before you prepare the drizzle and ganache. 

To make the drizzle:
In a small bowl, stir together the drizzle ingredients until smooth. Stir in up to 1 tablespoon additional orange juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, as needed to achieve  a runny consistency.

To make the ganache:
In a small pan, heat the nondairy milk and coconut oil over medium heat until the oil is just melted.  Immediately remove from the heat and stir in chocolate chips until they are melted and the mixture is smooth.

To assemble:
Spoon the drizzle and ganache over the cake, letting them run down the sides. The drizzle and ganache can be applied alternately or the drizzle can be applied firs,t then the ganache.  Serve at room temperature.

Store in a sealed container. The cake keeps for 3 days at room temperature, and 2 months in the freezer.

Yield:  12 servings

Popovers are a perennial favorite at holiday dinners. If you are dairy allergic, you can substitute soy, rice or help milk and non-hydrogenated margarine for the butter. However, they do require real eggs for their signature airy texture.

from Gluten-Free Bread by Ellen Brown, p.p. 217-19

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1  1/4 cups whole milk, heated to 90F  or 38C) degrees
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Pre-heat the oven to 400F (200C) degrees and grease a 12-cup popover pan or muffin pan.

Combine the rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, salt, and xanthan gum in a deep mixing bowl. Whisk well.

Combine the milk, eggs, and melted butter in a blender or food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend until smooth. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth.

Ladle the batter into the prepared cups, filling each two-thirds full.

Bake for 25 minutes, without opening the oven door. Lower the oven temperature to 350F (175C) degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the tops are browned. Remove the pan form the oven and allow popovers to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.

Note:  The batter can be made up to 4 hours in advance and kept at room temperature. Blend it again to distribute the ingredients before filling the cups. The popovers must be baked just prior to serving.


Add 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley) to the batter.
Add 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the batter.

Yield: 12 popovers

Note:  The recipes below are not necessarily gluten free, but are part of a blogger link-up.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bake Someone Happy


My first thought for a title for this blog entry was, "'tis the season...for allergic reactions". But, I felt that a bit too pessimistic, and chose instead an old Betty Crocker slogan--as I feel home baked goods do make people happy.  But, the fact of the matter the holidays are a minefield for those with food allergies and other special diets. Yesterday, I was sitting with another "allergy mom" recapping the Thanksgiving/Chanukah long weekend, and griping about how even those close to us don't seem to "get it", when it comes to food allergens. "Can you believe it?" she said, "they brought a nut cake into my house...a NUT CAKE...to me!" As you may have guessed, her daughter is nut allergic. On my end, I added that three, (3!), close relatives gave me treats for my children that had "may contain traces of peanuts", on the label.  Frustrated? You bet. And this is with loved ones. School parties, synagogue parties, friend's homes, are even more hostile territory. My children's school sent out a list of items they would be serving at their holiday party. Unfortunately, Lillie and Rosie could enjoy nothing more than the smell at the party, as every item posed a hazard for them. So that is why I would like to give the authors Ashley McLaughlin, Baked Doughnuts for Everyone and Jennifer Katzinger, Gltuen-Free & and Vegan Pie a big virtual hug for making sweet treats my celiac and food-allergic kids could enjoy.

Much has been spoken about in the past few weeks of "Thanksgivukkah", the amalgam of the first night of Chanukah and Thanksgiving falling on the same day--a rare occurrence. So the question was, do I make my traditional Thanksgiving pies, or do dougnuts, traditionally fried to commemorate the oil that lasted for 8 days on Chanukah? How about both?!

Gluten-Free and Vegan Pie  by Jennifer Katzinger, former owner of the Flying Apron, Seattles popular vegan bakery, is the fourth of her gluten-free/vegan cookbooks.  The book gives very clear instructions, both in writing and with stellar photographs to make the often tricky gluten-free/vegan pie crusts. The tempting recipes and  photos redolent with flaky pastry and ripe fruit for Apricot and Cherry Crostata, Maple Blueberry Pie and Strawberry Hand Pies, make one want to go on a pie baking binge. In addition, there are savory options such as Layered Eggplant Tarts with Pistachio Crusts and  Asian Pot Pie.

Pie crust is hard enough when you use non-gluten-free and vegan ingredients, and can seem near Herculean when trying to obtain flakiness and tenderness, while still managing to maneuver a top crust without breaking with these specialty ingredients. Ms. Katzinger presents a very easy method for single and double crusts using a brown rice flour and coconut oil based crust. She developed a method where she cuts the top crust into triangles or shapes, then chills them before placing on the top of the pie. This allows for maximum maneuverability and minimal breakage resulting in maximum wow factor! I also appreciate that her crusts do not call for eggs, as most gf pie crust recipes I have found do, since Rosie is allergic to them.

Whether baking a single or double crust, you can once again enjoy the pleasure of pies on a gluten and allergen free diet with this book.

I used a large flower shaped cookie cutter to cut out the top crust. I found it was easier to press the bottom crust into the pie plate instead of rolling it out.  As you work with the dough it may get soft and sticky as the fat begins to soften , and therefore difficult to roll out. One trick is to roll it out on parchment or silipat lined rimless baking sheet, so you can stick it back into the refrigerator to firm up as needed. Or, fill a 9x13 metal baking pan with ice cubes. As the dough softens, place pan on top of dough for a few minutes, and it will chill and firm up.

Traditional Apple Pie
from Gluten-Free & Vegan Pie by Jennifer Katzinger, p. 50, crust p. 11

I used the Double Pastry Crust recipe, while the author calls for her Darker Double Crust (p. 14) recipe.

1 Double Pastry Crust
3 pounds combined sweet and tart apples, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I only use Granny Smith for pies)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot
1/3 cup evaporated cane juice
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1. Prepare the crust as instructed.

2. To make the filling, in a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Let the filling sit for 30 minutes.

3. Spoon the filling into the prepared bottom crust. Roll out the top crust to cover the apple filling: Place dough on a well floured, parchment-lined firm piece of cardboard. Roll the dough to the a 10-inch diameter, then gently flip the dough over the filling. Crimp or flute he edges of the dough. With a sharp knife, make 5 evenly spaced 2-inch long slashes int he center of the pie radiating out like the spokes of a wheel. Place the entire pie in the freezer for about 35 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, preheat hte oven to 425F degrees. Place a baking stone or aluminum foil-lined baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven.

5. Place the pie on the baking stone or sheet. bake for 15 minutes, then rotate hte pie 180 degrees and reduce the oven temperature to 350F degrees. Bake for an addition 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden and firm. Let the pie cool for about 2 hours before serving.

Double Pastry Crust
ibid, p.p. 11-13

2 cups brown rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup arrowroot
1  1/2 tablespoons evaporated can juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Place the flours, potato starch, arrowroot, evaporated cane juice, salt, and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and process just until the ingredients are combined. Add the coconut oil and pulse until the dough is the consistency of coarse meal with many pearl-size pieces.  Add the water and vanilla, and process just until the dough holds together.

2. Place the dough on a piece of parchment paper well dusted with brown rice flour.  Divide it into two portions, one slightly larger (about 2/3 of the dough) than the other; this will be the bottom crust. Shape the larger portion into a disc with your hands. Dust both your rolling pin and the disc with brown rice flour.   As you roll out the dough, rotate the paper so you roll in different directions to produces an 11-inch circle.

3. Working quickly, slip your hand under the parchment paper to lift up the dough and flip in into the pie pan. Using the palm of your dominant hand, press evenly and gently into the dough at the base of the pan while rotating the pan every so often.  This will create a thinner bottom crust and thicker side walls. Then press the extra dough into the rim with your fingertips to shape the edges uniformly.

4. Flute or decoratively crimp the edges of the dough. Pierce the dough all over with a fork to prevent air pockets from forming when baking, uncovered, and freeze it for 30-45 minutes before filling.

5. Roll out the remaining portion of dough to about 1/8-inch thickness to create the top crust, either cutting out hearts or other shapes, or creating wedges by rolling out the dough on the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan, trimming it to fit, and cutting it into wedges. Freeze the cutouts or wedges for 30 minutes.

6.  After the dough has been frozen, remove it from the freezer and fill the bottom crust according to your specific recipe.  To assemble the top crust, gently loosen the wedges from the parchment with a spatula and place each wedge next to one another, re-creating your circle. If you're using cutouts, proceed in the same manner.

Yield: 1 double crust

In the dessert trends of the last decade, Doughnuts lay somewhere between cupcakes and hand pies. Now baked doughnuts are in vogue due to the relative ease of making them, and the calories saved as compared to traditional fried doughnuts.  Essentially, it is cake batter poured into a baking pan with 6-12 doughnut shaped indentations, or a small electric machine that bakes doughnuts in less than 5 minutes.  Baked Doughnuts for Everyone by Ashley McLaughlin allows those of us who need to grapple with food allergies and sensitivities to enjoy this food trend to it's fullest. Not only does she have 101 delicious gluten free recipes, she has a whole section of vegan and gluten free options.

The recipes are truly unique and all tantalizingly tempting.  There are sweet flavors like the classic Chocolate Buttermilk to the more exotic Vegan Blood Orange and Green Matcha. Then  there are the more whimsical like S'mores and Baklava flavors. McLaughlin also ventures out of the box with savory doughnut recipes. How about Vegetarian Eggs Benedict on a savory doughnut?  There is even a recipe for Dog Doughnuts (that seem to be edible to their owners too)!

The book contains an explanation of the various gluten free flours used, and helpful tips for re-creating these bakery favorites at home.  The recipes are clear and have most awesome photos.  The author is a food photographer in addition to being a recipe developer.

My favorite recipe is for Jelly-Filled Doughnuts. Sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts, are popular during Chanukah, however they are a big patchke (mess) to make. The McLaughlins baked version cooks with the jelly already inside, and makes for a simpler preparation.

So whatever you tickles your culinary fancy, pie or doughnuts, now there are options for everyone!

I found a very easy and neat way to fill the doughnut pans is to pour the batter into a disposable pastry bag, or gallon sized ziploc,  with a 1/2-inch cut out of the corner.  Pipe the batter directly into pans.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts
from Baked Doughnuts for Everyone by Ashley McLaughlin, p. 169

1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
2 tablespoons almond meal
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons ground flax meal
1  1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 to 1 tablespoon non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Doughnuts:

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees, and grease a standard size doughnut baking pan.

Combine the dry ingredients in a  large bowl and stir until combined. In another bowl, whisk all of the wet ingredients together until fully combined.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a large wooden spoon until just combined, being careful not to over mix.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Do not stir after this point.  The batter will be very thick and not pourable.

Spoon the batter into the doughnut molds, filling to just below the top of each mold, 1/8-1/4-inch from the top.  Lightly smooth out hte top of the batter with a small silicone spatula. Do not pack the batter down.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Slide a thin spatula around the edges of the doughnuts to help loosen them out.  Then place on a cooling rack and allow to cool fully before topping.

For the Glaze:  Mix the glaze ingredients together until smooth.  Add more milk if a thinner consistency is desired.

Invert hte doughnut into the glaze, letting the excess drip off, or drizzle the glaze over the doughnut.  Let set until the glaze has hardened.

Yield:  8 to 10 doughnuts

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Real" good food.


It's November and I feel the starting gun for holiday shopping has officially gone off, although judging by the x-mas display at my Costco this August, it started earlier.  Each year there is renewed pressure to get gifts for our loved ones-- many of whom assure you they really don't need anything. Of course, we are loathe to show up empty handed. I think cookbooks are a great gift, not just because they are one of my passions, but also objectively I think they are useful. People seem to always be looking for new additions to their cooking repertoire. In the case of those on special diets, I find that especially to be the case b/c they have to start from scratch and re-build their repertoire of beloved dishes. A  nice touch is to prepare one of the dishes in the book and present it to your loved one in a nice pan or plate, which adds to the gift.

For the next couple of months, I will be reviewing some great gluten-free gifts (couldn't resist the alliteration), in the form of new cookbooks. To start with, I am turning to some wonderful, whole foods, from scratch style books.  Extraordinary Vegan by Alan Roettinger presents tantalizing, yet easy to prepare vegan dishes from appetizer to dessert.

What I like very much about Extraordinary Vegan by Alan Roettinger, is the clarity of the book. Not only the myriad of attractive pictures, but the recipes themselves are clear and lead to easy preparation. For those not familair with vegan cooking, which eschews the use of any animal products including honey, it can seem foreign and daunting. But Alan Roettinger puts it easily into one's grasp. Holidays like Thanksgiving which focus heavily on an animal as the focus of it's meal, can be a challenge for vegans and vegetarians. The ubiquitous Tofurky pops up in stores (btw not a gf item), but we can do so much better for our veggie-only -eating guests. From tempting starters like Miso Broth with Ginger and Avocado Relish with Preserved Lemons, to main dishes like Rajma Dal Bourguignon. The recipes are clear and mainly a page or two at most.  I made the stunning almond crusted Chocolate-Raspberry tart, that no one would guess was part of any special diet.

I recommend A Very Different Butternut Squash Soup and Carrot-Cardamon Rice with Saffron as alternatives to traditional Thanksgiving dishes. The rice is a great gluten free substitute for traditional bread stuffing.

A Very Different Butternut Squash Soup
p. 62-63 Extraordinary Vegan by Alan Roettinger

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
12 cloves garlic, minced
4 roasted red peppers, diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
2 small yams, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
8 cups water
2 unsalted vegetable bouillion cubes
4 bay leaves
Pinch of saffron (optional)
1/2 tsp. hot read chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. snipped chives, for garnish

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onions and stir until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-high and add the garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are nearly dry, about 4 minutes. Add the roasted peppers and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the squash, yams, salt, and smoked paprika, and stir to mix well.  Add the water, bouillon cubes, and bay leaves. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Working in batches, transfer the contests of the pot to a blender and process until smooth. Strain the soup into a clean soup pot and add the optional saffron and hot chili powder. Season with pepper to taste. Reheat over medium heat, stirring often to prevent scorching. Serve at once, garnished with the chives.

Yield: 8 servings

Carrot-Cardamom Rice with Saffron
 p. 102 Extraordinary Vegan by Alan Roettinger

1 cup basmati rice
1cup carrot juice
1/2 water
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin coconut oil
4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed (a rounded 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom may be subbed)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Pinch Saffron

Wash the rice in a bowl with water. This must be done very gently to avoid breaking the grains. Change the water frequently, until it runs clear. Drain well.

Put the rice in a small saucepan. Add the carrot juice, water, oil, cardamom, salt and saffron. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff the grains very gently with silicone spatula. Serve at once.

Yield: 4 servings