Monday, December 27, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I feel like every magazine this time of year has a cover story on cookie swaps. These are parties where groups of people get together and bring several dozen of one kind of cookie, and a large container. Then they each take a few of the other people's cookies, resulting in a stunning array of goodies without doing all the work to make such a variety. People often try to show their personal best at these affairs, either by bringing elaborately decorated cookies or outrageously delectable ones. But once again, these parties are gluten fests for which the Celiac doesn't benefit.
As I peruse the the recipes the home magazines give, usually accompanied by a lush photo spread, I "tsk, tsk" to myself that they are train wrecks for the food sensitive--full of eggs, nuts, wheat flour and butter. But can you expect much more from the "non-sensitive world"? Then every so often, I will serendipitously come across a recipe that works well with gluten free flour subbed for "regular" all-purpose flour. Butter in these recipes is easily switched with non-dairy margarine, ditto for milk. Occasionally, I will even find a recipe that is egg less--then I'm dancing in the streets!
This recipe was adapted from a cookie contest winner in the January 2011 Cook's Country Magazine. The nuts in the recipe are optional, and the cookie is totally fine without them. You may want to mix up the types of chips you use (i.e. white chocolate or cinnamon flavor), as long as the total equals 1 1/2 cups. Judging by the look on the faces of those that have eaten these bars, they are truly bliss!
Chocolate-Cherry Bliss Bars
1 1/4 cups all-purpose gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum* (such as Jules' brand)
1 1/2 sticks non-dairy margarine (such as Earth Balance Buttery Sticks), chilled, cut into cubes
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (light brown works fine too)
1/4 granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted**
1/2 cup gluten-free old fashioned oats
1- 12 ounce jar cherry preserves
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted** (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil, with 3 inches of foil hanging over the edge of the pan. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
In a food processor, pulse together the flour, margarine, sugars, salt and cinnamon until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to a medium sized mixing bowl, and stir in coconut and oats. Reserve 3/4 cup of mixture, and press remaining mixture into prepared pan. Bake 15-18 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.
Spread jam over warm crust. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts (if using), top with remaining crumb mixture. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 18-22 minutes. Cool on wire rack, about 1 hour. Lift cookies out of pan using foil sling or parchment paper. Place on flat surface, and cut into 24 bars. Store in airtight container.
Yield: 2 dozen bar cookies
*If your flour blend doesn't include xanthan gum, add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum to dry ingredients
**To toast coconut or nuts: Spread coconut in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350F degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until light brown, turning occasionally. Coconut can go from
brown to burnt quickly, so keep checking it.
New York City Snowballs
1 cup (2 sticks) non-dairy margarine or butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum* (such as Jules' brand or Better Batter)
*If your flour blend doesn't include xanthan gum, add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum to dry ingredients
Monday, December 6, 2010
So what a disappointment on the first night of Chanukah this year, when I took the remaining box of 365 Pizza Dough Mix out of the cabinet and mixed up the contents only to find that it had a weird smell. Checking the box I saw to my chagrin it had expired a while back. Yikes. The clock was ticking and I had a kid with a special diet who I didn't want to disappoint on the first night of Chanukah. To add insult to injury, I used all my eggs on the rotten mix. I frantically thought and remembered the box of Gluten Free Bisquick I had in my fridge. I remembered once seeing a recipe for Bisquick donuts with the non GF variety. I quickly went to the Betty Crocker site and did a search, no luck. A Google search finally yielded the recipe. My nice and ever prepared neighbor lent me another dozen eggs, and I set to work with a prayer on my lips that this would work. I had to add more liquid to the GF version, but they came out lovely. One advantage of the Bisquick donuts over the pizza crust version is that they stayed soft even the next day. Gluten free baked goods often harden when not eaten fresh. But Lillie was able to take one in her lunch for a party at school! So for this mother, I found that necessity is indeed the mother of invention!
As a postscript you may be wondering what Rosie ate, as the donuts contained egg, I have a little secret I use to make super easy eggless and vegan (but glutenny) donuts. E-mail me at the address on the right if you would like to know!
In a large mixing bowl, mix together first 6 ingredients. Add more milk, a tablespoon at a time, if mixture is very thick. Cover and refrigerate until oil heats.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour blend (see note above)
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (if not included in flour blend already)
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 1/4 cup rice milk
1 1/4 cups rice milk
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups warm water
1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans, line with cutout parchment paper, grease again, and dust with a little cocoa powder (or just spray with Pam).
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour mix, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. Add the egg replacer, rice milk, canola oil, vanilla, and warm water and beat on medium-low speed until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.
5. Bake in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Bake until the cake is pulling away slightly from the sides of the pans and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
6. Let cool in the pans on a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Cover the cake pan with a large plate, flip, peel off the parchment paper, and flip the cake back onto the rack, right side up, to cool completely. Repeat with the other cake. Frost as desired. Store covered.
Monday, October 11, 2010
A few Sundays ago, I dropped Rosie off at a birthday party, and about two minutes in, her cupcake (which I brought special for her) fell in the dirt. I wanted to cry. That might be the reaction you would expect from the child. But for this mom, there was so much tied up in that little cupcake. I had stayed up late the night before to bake and decorate her "special" cupcakes so that she would feel "normal" at the party. There was all the daily tension and challenges of dealing with food sensitivities in that stupid cupcake! It represented more than just a few bites of sweetness. For a moment she looked at me and I looked at her, frozen, as I decided my next step. Did I say, oh well you can have another one at home. Or, did I schlep back home and get her another little cake which I hoped would bridge the gap of "normalcy" for this child? Sometimes you can't give your kid what he needs, and the disappointments of life must be faced--even by a four year old. And sometimes Mom can go home and pull another cupcake out of the freezer. Which I did.
Sometimes your kids ask you for things which you cannot deliver. And sometimes you can. Sometimes the request are of the roll your eyes variety (on the parents part), and sometimes as a parent you stop and say "Yeah, that's actually reasonable." On the cover of the October/November issue of Living Without (a magazine dedicated to "Gluten-Free and Allergy-Free Living"), there was an appealing picture of blueberry muffins with spider-web frosting on the cover. The request from my gluten-free and food allergic children to make them was actually of the latter variety. I got the usual, "Please, can we have them, yes, when, when, tonight? NO, tomorrow? Please (accompanied by expectant smile)". However, given that we have a new "flower" in our garden (k'neina hara), I was rather busy to say the least. Just serving dinner was a huge effort, decorated cupcakes too?! I told the kids they would be a special treat for the then upcoming holiday of Sukkot. I decided Sukkot was an very outdoor oriented holiday, and spiders are part of nature...so there's the connection.I found it slightly odd the original recipe called for using blueberry muffins. I subbed out chocolate cupcakes from my new favorite cookbook Sophie Safe Cooking, which uses oat flour and no eggs, nuts or dairy products (see previous post for new found love of oat flour). So these recipes are great for my kids.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Mares eat oats and does eat oats....and little Lillie does too! Finally. We received the go ahead for Lillie to integrate oats into her diet once again. That may not seem terribly exciting to most people, but I was practically dancing in the streets. I kind of went a little crazy with Bob's Gluten Free Certified Oats and Oat flour---I ordered a case. I only have 2 small bags left! I made oatmeal cookies, brownies, blondies and my favorite apple crumble!
I have a favorite streusel topping recipe that is really healthy. Although I had been using it for years, I had to cease and desist while Lillie was off oats for the past year. It comes from Susan G. Purdy's book Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too. While most streusel recipes consist of flour, sugar and cinnamon, Purdy's is mainly oats. I had to tweak Purdy's formula to remove small amounts of wheat germ and Grape-Nuts cereal called for in the recipe. But, it remains crunchy and delicious due to the oats. If you can eat nuts, add 1/2 cup chopped almonds or walnuts to up the crunch factor.
If you live in a region where apples are grown, now is the time for harvesting them. Many farms open part of their groves to the public for a fee. Apple picking is a wonderful fall activity for the family. I think it's great to teach the kids that food doesn't grow in the supermarket. As well, there is nothing like taking an ingredient from farm to table in the same day. The recipe below is very kid friendly in terms of making and eating!
This recipe can be made with many combinations of fruit; berries and plums work well too. But being apple picking season, you may have an excess on hand. I like to use Granny Smith apples in pies and crumbles, as their tartness contrasts nicely to the sugar in these dishes. But, you may use any firm, slightly tart apple for this recipe.
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced (1/4 inch thick slices)
2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
1/3-1/2 cup packed dark or light brown sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
(adapted from Susan G. Purdy's Oat Streusel Topping, p. 429, Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too)
1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (I used Jules' brand)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup dark or light brown sugar, packed
2 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup certified gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon apple or orange juice
Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Place apples in the pan. Sprinkle with remaining filling ingredients and toss together with a mixing spoon or your hands, until apples are well coated. Pat down the apples so they are evenly spread out across the baking pan.
For the topping, combine and toss together all the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.
Add the extract, oil and juice and blend with a fork, or toss with you fingers until everything is combined. The mixture will be crumbly, not smooth like a batter.
Spread the topping evenly over the apple mixture. Pat down gently with your hands.
Bake at 350F degrees for 50-60 minutes. Poke a fork in the apples to make sure they are tender. Topping should be a dark golden brown. May be served warm or cold.
Serving suggestion: Best served warm with a scoop of non-dairy ice cream or non-dairy whipped topping.
Yield: 8 servings
Monday, July 26, 2010
Today I went into what is known as "the other pizza place" in town. It's not terribly convenient for me normally, and I like the one I usually frequent. Since Lillie has had Celiac Disease, that should be changed to "infrequent", actually. But when we did go there as a family, Rosie's mainstay was french fries. There wasn't much else to eat for her at the pizza place, other than salad. But today I had just Rosie and Daisie with me, an errand to run a block or so away from "the other" and an hour to squeeze in lunch before dashing off to a doctor's appointment. So I went in, ordered pizza for Daisie and myself and fries for Rosie. As I was waiting I asked the owner if he carried gluten free pizza. He said that he just started making whole wheat pizza, then commented there are so many different allergy issues and shrugged. I thought to myself, I wish I could just shrug off allergy issues.
Daisie's and my pizza arrived first and I cut the steaming hot slice into small pieces for her. When the counterman brought over Rosie's fries I noticed they seemed to have a batter coating. That's a red flag for eggs. I asked if they were the "spicy fries", which I know has a coating, he said no, and when I asked if he knew what was on it I got a shrug. The owner didn't know either, as he had disposed of the carton they came in which had the ingredient list. The owner called the salesman for the french fry supplier, and he didn't know either. One big shrug! Rosie's fries sat on the counter for 40 minutes while we waited for an answer. No substitute was proffered, no refund suggested. This coupled with the fact that the owner didn't know what was in the food he served (along with not so great pizza) made me determined never to step in that store again. As I gathered up the children to leave, I debated whether or not to go Gordon Ramsay on him(who I'm sure would have rapped him on the knuckles with a wooden spoon), and lecture him about how an owner or chef must know the ingredients in the food he serves. But I just left, disgusted, and saddened that little Rosie had to sit there nursing a cup of pink lemonade while I tried to quickly prod Daisie to finish, so I could dash home and make her lunch before my appointment.
Today's episode reminded me of why we mainly eat at home these days. Restaurant dining should be a pleasure, a break from cooking, an enjoyable outing. It has turned into a hardship. A tense hour or so that I no longer enjoy.
Lillie misses our outings to the pizza place. I've tried different substitutes. Until now the best has been $7 a pop frozen gluten free pizza, which is the size of a salad plate. That hefty price tag for convenience food was on sale after Passover. Lillie liked it well enough until I tried a homemade pie from yet another serendipitously found cookbook purchased for $1 at the local library. The other day she told me that she wants pizza, but the one I make, not the one with the thick crust (from store bought mixes I've tried---not bad in my opinion), but the homemade one. I thank G-d when we hit on something she truly likes. The fact that it's easy is even better. This pizza crust is "pourable", so it saves "sticky hands" clean-up. The messiest part is measuring out the flours. What I've found to be convenient is to make my own mixes, so to speak, by setting out several Ziploc bags and measuring out the dry ingredients for the crust. Then I write the required remaining ingredients on the bag and cooking temperature, and freeze my "mixes". Then when pizza is requested I just dump the contents of the baggie in a bowl, whisk in the wet ingredients and we're good to go. In Italian pronto meets right away or ready right now, while presto means soon. So with food sensitivities we cannot have everything "pronto" anymore, I can at least have it ready "presto"!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
In this very hot weather I also hate making hot soups, but my family still clamors for their soup Friday night. One day I made a strawberry soup, and Lillie and Rosie decided we should have a different colored soup each week. To date I've also made blueberry soup and cantaloupe soup (my personal favorite).
Makes 4 servings
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I love the produce section at my local warehouse store. They have restaurant quality fruits and vegetables, and generally better prices than my local supermarket.
I love the variety and colors available. The mini tri-colored Holland peppers are my favorite--like little pepper offspring. Next to them today I spied a 6 pack of avocados for only $4.99. Giving them a squeeze I found my thumb sunk into the flesh just enough to indicate they were just perfect for immediate use. My mind skipped to dinner and I thought of slicing them up with tacos. But that wouldn't use up the entire bag of ripe and ready green goddesses. As I pushed my heavily laden cart into the walk in refrigerator (which was blissful in today's 80 degree heat), I thought about Mother's Day coming up this weekend and an elegant salad came to mind. Two of my favorite things are gazpacho soup and guacamole. I don't know if it is the combination of the cool fresh vegetables and piquant Latin flavors or the overall feeling of lightness when indulging in these fresh and healthy starters. I decided to combine them for a lovely layered salad that is a visual feast for a celebratory table.
Say Ole and enjoy your day with mom.
3 English Cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 orange Holland pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow Holland pepper, seeded and diced
2 medium vine ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
2 medium ripe, firm avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh chives
1/2 cup chopped scallions
¼ cup chopped, fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
kosher salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
For Jalapeno Cream:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded
1 clove garlic
¼ cup cilantro, packed
1 teaspoon lime juice
For Plantain Chips:
1 large ripe plantain
½ Tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
In a large mixing bowl, place cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and avocados. Pour lemon and lime juice over avocado mixture and toss gently to coat. In a small bowl or shaker bottle, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over salad and toss gently. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
To serve, spoon into individual glass bowls. Top with a dollop of Jalapeno cream and garnish with 2 or 3 plantain chips. Pass additional jalapeno cream and plantain chips on the side.
For Jalapeno Cream:
In a blender or food processor, process all ingredients until well blended. Place in a covered bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
For plantain chips:
Line a cookie sheet with non-stick foil or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Slice plantains 1/8-inch thick and place in single layer on cookie sheets. Brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle tops of plantains with salt. Broil on high on top oven rack for 5-6 minutes or until they begin to brown. Turn oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cool on rack for 10 minutes, remove with a spatula.
Monday, April 26, 2010
I grabbed the package and set to making my now famous spicy peanut noodles. Before Rosie was diagnosed with a peanut allergy I would make this dish almost weekly. Since then, never for the family, rarely just for me.
The "noodle" preparation instructions are fairly easy. You must first rinse the product well to get rid of its "authentic" aroma. I read that this is really a fishy aroma. I rinsed the ersatz noodles very well in a colander to avoid any unpleasantness. Then one can either microwave the product for 1 minute or parboil for 2. I chose the microwave (I was really hungry). As it cooked, I whisked together the dressing, and then dumped in the noodles when they finished cooking.
Although I feel the price is high for the portion size, I do think the convenience and nutrition outweighs the price. As well, the Shirataki noodles are no more expensive than your average gluten free package of noodles. As far as nutrition goes, there are only 40 calories for the whole package, 1 gram fat, 4 grams fiber and 6 grams carbohydrates. That's pretty good in my book! I would like to see larger packages that are more appropriate for family sized dishes.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my noodle dish made with the Shirataki noodles, and especially enjoyed the ease and quickness of prep. I decided that Shirataki noodles could be the Ramen of the gluten free world!
This recipe won me a finalist position in a Crisco sponsored cooking contest. I didn't win, but the recipe is a "winner" according to family and friends. You may also substitute 1-12 or 16- ounce package gluten free brown rice spaghetti for the Shirataki noodles.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together next 7 ingredients. Pour sauce over noodles and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions.
May be served warm, or cold. Toss before serving.
Monday, April 19, 2010
I just finished typing what seemed like hundreds of numbers into Excel. The result was a sum of $417.72. This represented the amount spent on gluten free specialty foods in the past tax year (see http://www.celiac.com/ for details on deductions). Lillie was diagnosed last March, so it doesn’t represent an entire tax year. In some cases, I had diligently circled the items on my receipt before throwing it into a flowered blue shoe box labeled “Gluten Free Groceries 2009”. In some cases I went through a couple of feet of grocery tape trying to decipher register shorthand like, “TNKY BR RICE LASAG”, and I remembered the quite good vegetarian lasagna I made with Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles. I was also struck by how many times “B & J DUB MDSLDE IC” (Ben and Jerry’s Dublin Mudslide Ice Cream) appeared on the receipts. This “stress” food was for me. Reviewing the receipts reminded me of the effort I put in yearly, weekly and daily to accommodate my the gluten and allergy free diets of my children.
After looking at our years worth of processed gluten free food items, I marvelled at all that’s available,, and reflected on those items that are naturally gluten free. I can’t declare a golden ear of sweet corn, locally grown, or a crisp green bean still standing at attention when cooked just right as a tax deduction. But, I can take pleasure in these items as they nourish the body, and reflect on how simplicity can be nourishing for the soul as well. G-d put many naturally gluten free items on this earth for us to enjoy. Not all things gluten free must be complicated.
I like my vegetables just fork tender, vibrant in color and not drowned in heavy sauces. A few sprinkles of sea salt, a drizzle of golden olive oil, perhaps, are all most vegetables need in my opinion. Enjoy the bounty that spring and summer brings, and enjoy what’s simple.
I love to use Ziploc brand Zip n' Steam bags to prepare vegetables. You can cook, marinate and store vegetables in these little gems of steamer bags. The package suggests putting an entire meal in the bag (i.e. protein and vegetable) and transporting the bag to work to cook in the microwave come lunch time. This is an excellent idea for the gluten free eater. No worry about cross contamination, as each bag is fresh, and contained to avoid any nasty drips or spills you may find in your office microwave. This can work well when going to someones house for a meal as well. No hassle cooking!
I’ve made vegetables as well as salmon in the bags and both worked well. I have an aversion to cooking chicken in the microwave as I find it always comes out rubbery-- but it could work with these bags. The recipe pamphlet included in the package claims you could make an omelet in the bag. I just had to try that. My goat cheese and mushroom omelet was indeed edible, if not terribly attractive. It reminded me of something I once received in an airplane meal. But cleanup was easy, as promised.
Asparagus Au Vinaigrette