Tuesday, April 28, 2009



We have been having trials and tribulations with bread in general and challah specifically. The first week after Passover we settled for giving Lillie frozen Millet Bread from Food for Life purchased at Whole Food's near Hubby's work. She liked it not at all. I am very open about food and not "picky". But when I tasted it, I wanted to spit it out---it was awful! Instead I smiled and told her "not bad", in order that she wouldn't feel bad. The following week I picked up Food for Life brand Rice Bread at my local Stop n' Shop. It was about the same price as Whole Food's. It was a huge improvement. The look and texture are about the same as glutenny white bread. I tried it toasted, and at first bite it was quite good. Upon further chewing I did notice a mealy sort of texture that I now realize is part and parcel of some GF (gluten free) breads, as they lack the elasticity that results when strands of gluten form in wheat bread.

The second Shabbos I tried Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix
The mix is quite easy. You just add water, cider vinegar, 1 egg yolk and egg whites. I added 2 egg yolks, b/c after all it was supposed to look like challa. So, I am not sure how the true texture is supposed to be without the extra egg. I divided the batter into 4 mini loaf pans. The batter rose nicely and puffed up even more in the oven. Then it fell as it was cooling. The resulting loaf was similar to a brioche loaf, which I thought was a good thing, but Lillie did not as she doesn't know what a brioche tastes like, or even what it is for that matter! It was nice heated up and looked the part at least, but cold the next day it got quite dry. I have since learned that gluten free breads should remain frozen until ready to eat as they dry out, similar to rice left in the refrigerator. I do recommend this product though, it was easy, can be made either with a mixer or bread machine, tastes good and was reasonably priced.

I should mention that so far all the breads I have made so far, one cannot make Hamotzi on as they do not contain oat flour---the only gluten free flour on which one can say Hamotzi. Since Lillie is not obligated in mitzvos yet, it's OK for her. But check with your local Rabbi if you have any questions pertaining to this issue. I have ordered gluten-free oat flour this week from Lara's Cream Hill Estates. The best price I found was on Amazon.com with free shipping if I order $25 worth of eligible items on Amazon.com (which for me is not hard as I am a one-click ordering junkie). It is about 6x the price of the specialty high-gluten bread flour I normally use for challa, so we decided that I will not be making oat flour for the entire family (at least until I can find a cheaper source).

A fellow Celiac has developed a good recipe for oat challah which she says has a nice light texture due to the addition of seltzer. It appears on frumceliac.org. I look forward to trying it when my oat shipment arrives.

Today I tried a new recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free rice bread that I hope is not taste free. It comes from The Best Gluten Free Family Cookbook by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt. I purchased it because it is supposed to have very good bread machine recipes.

It originally called for almond flour, which I replaced with white rice flour. I also made a change in the technique, as the author instructs you to mix the yeast in with the flour instead of proofing it first. I found the rise to be disappointing with this technique, so I follow a traditional method below:

A Nice Rice White Bread
This recipe is gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free.

1 3/4 cups brown rice flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 Tbsp. powdered egg replacer (such as Ener-G brand)
2 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. powdered yeast (1 packet)
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 1 /3 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. cider vinegar.

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the first 7 ingredients, set aside.

2. Add yeast and sugar to water and stir. Wait 5 minutes and check if small bubbles appear on surface of water. If no bubbles form, your yeast is not active. Try a new packet of yeast. If bubbles form, you are good to go. Move on to the next step.

3. Add yeasty water, oil and vinegar to the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together with paddle attachment until well blended. With mixture on lowest speed, add dry ingredients slowly until combined. Stop mixture and scrape down sides with a rubber spatula, every so often. Beat for 4 minutes on medium speed. Dough will be sticky like cookie dough.

4. Spray a 9- inch by 5-inch loaf pan or 4 mini-loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon dough into prepared pan. Smooth top with damp fingers. Let rise, uncovered, in a warm, draft free place for 60-75 minutes, or until dough has risen to top of pan.

5. Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the pan immediately and let cool completely on rack.

Based on "Egg-Free, Corn-Free, Lactose-Free White Bread", p. 87. The Best Gluten Free Family Cookbook, Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, Robert Rose, Inc. 2005

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ups and Downs - Chocolate Chip Cookies


Today over dinner Lillie looked me straight in the eyes and said "I don't like not being able to eat the school lunch or snacks." I tried to choose my words carefully as I felt this was a make-it-or break-it moment. "Well, I said isn't it worth it to make your tummy feel better?". Her tummy still hurts, so that registered not at all. Then I added, "Well next year Rosie won't be getting lunch at all." Didn't care too much. Finally "When Abba was little he couldn't have school lunch either b/c it wasn't kosher." A glimmer of recognition.

UGH!!! It was awful and my heart was breaking.

On the upside, the little boy in her class who was assigned to bring in cookies for Shabbos party wanted to ensure that he would bring in ones Lillie could have.

I made "not too awful" pareve, nut-free, egg-free, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for Shabbos. They have a bit of a grainy texture as if they were made with graham flour. I used my regular eggless recipe and swapped out the Hodgson Mill Gluten Free Multi Purpose Baking Mix for the flour. The result was a nice, soft, chewy cookie with alot of chips. My general theory is anything will be improved with a healthy dose of chocolate chips. There was a graininess though, not disimilair to graham flour. I would like to try the recipe again with Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour(I would have to add my own xanthan gum in this case), which seems smoother. Everyone liked the cookies and there wasn't one left after Shabbos, so I guess the proof is in the pudding!

My recipe is based on Rosemarie Emro's "Loaded Chocolate Chip Cookies" from her fabulous egg-free baking book, Bakin' Without Eggs. The recipes in the book have all come out terrific. Her parents own(ed?) a bakery and she has inside knowledge of the tricks of the baking trade, which I feel enhances this volume. She is the mother of a severely egg allergic child. The recipes seem to have been well tested as the outcomes are good. As opposed to many other allergy free cookbooks, which I have found have often poor results. The only caveat for those with multiple food allergies is that she does use alot of dairy products and nuts (although often optional) in her recipes.

Soft n' Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is gluten free, egg-free, dairy-free* and nut-free*

*If you do not have dairy allergies and would like to substitute butter for margarine, you may. Nuts may be added if you are not allergic.

1/2 cup stick margarine, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose baking mix (must contain xanthan or guar gum)

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2-3 Tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (more to taste)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together margarine and sugars on medium speed, until fluffy. Add gluten free baking mix, baking soda, vanilla and oil and mix until completely combined. If mixture seems dry, add 2-3 Tablespoons water and mix for another 30 seconds.

Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Chill for 1/2 hour. Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.

Using tablespoonfuls of batter, form balls and place on prepared baking sheet 2-inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies appear golden brown and tops are firm. Remove from oven and allow to cool on pans for 5 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely.

Store in airtight containers.

Yield: 2 dozen

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!

Americans have a love affair with Pizza. The pizza we know and love in America is a bit different than Italian style pizza.

When my daughter grasped pretty quickly that she could no longer have pizza, she asked if she could have stromboli, or a calzone from the pizza store. "No Sweetie", I said softly. Basically there is precious little Lillie can eat from the pizza store. With Rosie's dairy allergy, there is not much of a reason for our family to eat there anymore.

Passing the pizza store on the way home yesterday I looked in the window at faces of happy children. I wish my children could do such a simple thing. But Hashem has given us all challenges in life, some more private, some more public which set us apart.

I bought Lillie a Passover Pizza made with a potato crust. It was pretty good and reminded me of a pizza I created with Manischewitz's Mini Potato Knish Mix, which is Kosher for Passover.

Below are two gluten-free pizza recipes I think you will enjoy.

If you wish to make this dish dairy-free, substitute a gluten-free soy cheese for the dairy cheese called for in the recipe.

Portabella-Artichoke Potato Crust Pizza

1 box Manischewitz Mini Potato Knish Mix (6 ounces)
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup marinara sauce
1 large portabella mushroom, thinly sliced (or 1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms)
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together knish according to package directions using eggs and 1 1/2 cups cold water. Allow to thicken 8 minutes.

Spray a 12” round non-stick baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread knish batter into pan, pressing to edges. Brush with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.

Remove pizza crust from oven and spread sauce on crust leaving a ½ -inch margin all around. Layer pizza with mushrooms, cheese, artichoke hearts, basil and ground black pepper to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and begins to brown.

Cut into 8 wedges and serve.

Serves 4 people, 2 pieces per person.

Greek Pizza with Tamale Crust

2 ½ cups MASECA corn masa flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups boiling water
½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup diced, canned tomatoes
1 –6 ounce bag baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry*
2 jarred fire roasted peppers, cut in strips
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup pitted kalamata or green olives, sliced
1/2 Bermuda onion, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried basil, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425F degrees. Brush a 14-round pizza baking pan or 9x13 baking pan with olive oil*. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl stir together corn masa flour, baking soda and spices. Pour boiling over mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Add oil and grated cheese, stir to combine. Spread mixture onto bottom and up sides of prepared baking pan. Brush with 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Bake in pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes until firm and lightly browned. Cool for 10 minutes.

Spread garlic cloves over crust. Evenly spread tomatoes over crust. Coarsely chop spinach leaves and sprinkle over tomatoes. Arrange pepper strips over spinach. Sprinkle with feta cheese and olives. Arrange onion slices on top. Sprinkle with herbs and spices. Bake at 425F degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cheese begins to brown.

Serves 6

*If unavailable, fresh, leafy spinach or a 10 ounce box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, may be used

First Day of School


Today was the first day of school after Passover vacation. Lillie's bag was packed with gluten free corn chips, cookies (Lieber's from my Passover plunder), potato chips, rice cakes and soy butter (in case she forgot her lunch). I awoke with trepidation, one of those "this is the first day of the rest of your life" scenarios. This would be the first day Lillie would go into the big wide world, alone, without me, with Celiacs.

Getting her out of bed in the a.m. was a challenge due to the fact that although she went to bed at a good time, she didn't fall asleep until around 10:30 pm. This due the fact that she reported on Rosie taking her pajamas off, repeatedly, coming up with games she could play in bed, and generally running out of her room. Finally she arose and had her Gluten Free (G.F.) Rice Chex (thank you General Mills) for the first time. They seemed to be a hit. I had a bit of back and forth with her whether she should bring her storybook, The GF Kid by Melissa London (which I highly recommend) to school for story time. I felt trepidation, as to why everyone in the class needs to know about her problem. Will they go home and report that Lillie has a disease and start a chain of worry among the Kindergarten moms. Also, the book is geared, in my opinion, for children a bit older. I asked if maybe she just wanted to show it to her teacher, she did not. I told her I would speak to her teacher about it, she accepted that.

Into the car we went, almost on time, which is a miracle in and of itself. With Uncle Moishy music blasting in the background, we were off. Me with tears in my eyes. From worry, from sadness. Rosie got dropped off first, very happily, to play group. Then we moved on to Lillie's school.

I walked in with Lillie, her big, new purple lunchbox (the last one had alot of glutenny crumbs) and Daisie in her stroller. Her teacher and I explained pleasantries and then I asked to speak to her outside. It went well. She was surprised, and in the few moments I tried to explain Lillie's immediate needs. We agreed to speak later in the day. I moved on to the Nurses office and informed her of Lillie's condition and she perfunctorally noted it in her notebook. All in all, not as bad as I thought.