Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Egg-ceptional Mousse


Rosie threw up yesterday. 3 times. And in true child fashion didn't make it to the bathroom in time. A well meaning person mistakenly gave her egg matzoh and a Passover cookie containing eggs. I wasn't with her at the time, and the individual had been instructed on her allergies. Mistakes happen. It's frustrating when our children experience pain as a result though. The same day Lillie came home and told me she had been given matzoh for a model seder at school. Her teacher immediately realized the mistake and removed it from her plate. I asked if she got a new plate? Cross contamination anyone? She did. I think no matter how much we express to others the dangers of allergic/intolerant foods for our children, unless they see a reaction, they don't get it. They aren't washing a half a dozen vomit soaked towels, or rocking a celiac child at 3 am who woke up with a crushing stomach ache. I realized there is just so much we can do. I am frustrated, but no one is going to watch out for your child like you will. It's a parental instinct. That being said, we cannot give up on educating and setting clear guidelines for our children's food needs when they are in the care of others.

The night before I had been so proud of myself for whipping up (literally) a decadent gluten-free chocolate mousse without any dairy products or eggs. Those pesky eggs. So prevalent in Passover cooking. Yet last night I I of course was excited to have a dessert both Lillie and Rosie could both eat without worry. The fact that I had a couple of servings before sticking it in the freezer didn't hurt either! It is a tricky time of year with every store bought Passover cake containing eggs and every recipe for fluffy potato starch sponge cakes requiring at least a half dozen eggs. I hope the recipe below will help someone who is in the same predicament as I. So lick your spoon and sit back contentedly with the knowledge that you are keeping your food allergic/intolerant children home at least.

Happy Holiday!

Egg-less Rich Chocolate Mocha Mousse
2-8 ounce containers non-dairy liquid whipped topping (such as Rich's Whip)
1 - 10 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips or 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules (or 2 Tablespoons favorite liqueur, such as orange or raspberry)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium sized microwave safe bowl, place 1 container whipped topping, chocolate chips and coffee granules. Microwave on high for 2 minutes*. Stir until smooth and well combined. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on high, whip remaining container of whipped topping and vanilla extra until stiff peaks form. Fold in half of cooled chocolate mixture until well incorporated. Fold in remaining chocolate mixture.

Pour into a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.

Serves: 8-10

*Note: You may do this in a double-boiler on the stove over low heat. Stir chocolate mixture occasionally until melted and smooth.

Serving Tips: This versatile mousse can be garnished with berries, whipped topping, chocolate curls or crumbled macaroons.

You may use the mousse as a filling for a frozen pie. Fill prepared "cookie crumb style*" pie crust with mousse. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze until firm. Decorate with whipped topping and chocolate syrup if desired.

For Cookie crumb pie crust: Mix together 1 1/4 cup finely ground gluten free cookie crumbs and 1/4 cup melted margarine or butter to form a crumbly mixture. Firmly press into bottom and up sides of pie plate.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Passover: Before and After

Passover time marks a kind of anniversary for us. Lillie was diagnosed with celiac disease 3 days before the holiday last year. Instead of finishing my preparations until 1 am, as most observant woman do in those few days before the holidays, my husband and I were on the computer learning about this disease, and what we would need to get through the next week or so. Aside from running out and buying a $13 box of gluten free oat matzo specially imported from England, most of the food had already been cooked. Some gluten free, made with potato starch, some laden with matzo meal. I quickly learned what I would have to separate out for her and what she could happily enjoy.

Passover is a dream for celiacs, stores are full of prepared foods made without wheat. Those items are generally prepared with potato starch and marked "non-gebrokts". There are items prepared with matzo meal, so like year round, one must read labels to be safe. Thankfully, companies have caught on to the revenue potential, and started marking foods "gluten-free". Now is the time to stock up. Well, maybe in another week and half to get the best prices. I remember my first post-Passover shopping adventure into the land of gluten-free. I was nervous. Passover had been one thing, we didn't allow bread, pasta or cereal in the house anyway. I felt, after that week long reprieve, that I had to now face the rest of my life-or rather Lillie's-in a world of gluten landmines. Like any good mother, I was prepared to do battle for my little girl.

My beret cocked at a determined angle, I felt like a tank commander leading her troops into battle, only the tank was a mini-van and the majority of my troops still pooped in their pants. I decided that surely every celiac in town would buy out the 50% off Passover items by the end of the day. So I left my house the day after Passover before the matzo crumbs were even swept off my floors. When I arrived at my local supermarket I found there was plenty left, and I went a bit crazy almost buying out the Passover display, now compacted from 2 aisles to a small display in the center of the floor. I starting tossing gluten-free salad dressing, chicken "shake n' bake" type mixes, potato starch noodles, cookies and cake mixes into my cart. Soon the boxes reached the top of the basket and started to spill onto the roof of the plastic car attached to the front of the cart. This great invention holds two small children, who can "steer" the car with fake steering wheels, while their parent blissfully shops in peace. The reality is for the parent steering this monstrosity, is equivalent to turning around an 18 wheeler in a cul-de-sac. The weight of the cart with 3 children and enough cake mix to last me an entire year was tricky. The items begin to slip and slide off the roof of the car and I kept stopping and re balancing like a house of cards, carefully trying to make it to check out.

Once home I cleared off a couple of shelves which I decided would be gluten-free only and neatly stacked my prized purchases. As you can see from my previous post, my supply served me well, and has lasted until this Passover. It was worth it to stock up at that time. The Passover cake mixes, on sale, are about 1/2 the price of those gluten-free mixes available year round. The boxes of cookies also went a long way. The salad dressing went rancid in November. Make sure to check expiry dates, and don't buy more than you realistically think you will use.

Baker's Chocolate Mousse

Many people have been hitting my site looking for Passover dessert recipes. Two majorly yummy and easy ones are below. I happened upon a bevy of easy dessert recipes on the Bakers Chocolate site that called for either little or no flour. The chocolate mousse looked especially tempting and easy to make. If the amount of flour is 1/2 cup or less, you can easily substitute potato starch. If you want to make the desserts non-dairy use pareve whipped topping.

Chocolate Chewies
from Gottlieb's Bakery in Savannah, GA
from Cook's Country Magazine, April/May 2010, p. 32

The original recipe called for flour instead of potato starch. You can substitute coconut for the nuts if there are allergy issues. Unfortunately, there is no sub for the eggs in this recipe, but they are dairy free!

2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
6 Tablespoons cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons potato starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped fine
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, grated

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325F degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix confectioners' sugar, cocoa, potato starch and salt together in bowl of electric mixer. With electric mixer on medium speed, add egg whites to sugar mixture, 1 at a time. Add vanilla and beat for 3 minutes on high speed, scraping down sides as needed. Stir in pecans and chocolate.

2. Drop batter, 1 tablespoon at a time, onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time, until cookies are dry at edges but soft in centers, rotating sheet halfway through baking, 15 to 18 minutes. Repeat with remaining cookie batter. Slide parchment onto wire rack and let cookies cool completely before peeling from parchment. Serve.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

This is my hands down favorite Passover brownie recipe. I found it on the back of a box of Haddar brand potato starch one year. When Lillie had to start eating gluten-free, I made a copy of it and posted it inside my cabinet. It's a great "go to" recipe for all year.

If you don't have the chocolate called for in the recipe, you can substitute 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder, plus 1 Tablespoon oil for each ounce of chocolate. The 1 cup of chocolate chips in the recipe can be substituted with 1/2 cup cocoa and 3 Tablespoons oil.

Zev's Pesachdik Brownies

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup potato starch
1 cup chocolate chips, melted
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup ground or finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well on high speed with an electric mixer, or by hand until thoroughly blended. Pour into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 45 minutes. Cut while warm. Cool on a wire rack. Store tightly covered.

Yield: Depends on how large you like your brownies!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Just in the nick of time...


Today was Hubby's birthday, and I was tired last night. I wasn't in the mood to measure out the ingredients for the great cake recipe I recently discovered (see "Cake Walk"). Earlier in the day when I was in the supermarket, I eyed the enticing Passover layer cakes on display. I was willing to shell out the nearly $20 asking price for one of these bakery creations that was as attractive as any gluten cake I ever ate, with butter cream swirls and artfully arranged chocolate curls. But I sighed, I would still have to make Rosie an egg less cake, and she would probably complain about not having a store bought one as well. I went home cake less.

In my pantry, I had one last box of cake mix from last year's post Passover half-price buying spree, and contemplated how I can successfully make this gluten-free mix egg less as well. I looked at a recipe in Simply Tempting, which called for using applesauce instead of eggs in the boxed mix. That seemed promising, until I read through the recipe and it said "the cake is crumbly and should be served with a spoon, topped with ice cream or whipped topping". That just wouldn't do for a birthday cake. Then I decided to take my "mad food scientist" pose and just dive in with different ideas from different recipes. The worst that would happen is I would ruin a $2 box of cake mix. So I set to work. The result looked good, it seemed moist and not crumbly, as is the texture of many potato starch cakes. The girls and I frosted the cake with reckless abandon (see pic.). When Hubby bit into it I got the biggest compliment I could hope for, "It tastes like a regular cake." And, basically it did. I believe the baby food fruit is responsible for the nice moist texture.

(blown sideways through cake)

The Ener-G egg substitute is not kosher for Passover, so I tried using potato starch and water as an egg substitute instead. The texture wasn't as moist and was a bit crumbly. But if you need a gluten-free and egg less cake for Passover, along with ease of prep., this is quite a decent option.

Make sure to buy Passover cake mix that is made with potato starch, or says "non-gebrokts". Some companies make their Passover mixes with cake meal, which is finely ground wheat matzo. A lot of companies have caught on to the fact that their passover products appeal to the gluten-free community all year, as such they put the phrase "Gluten-Free" on their product. These items, of course, are o.k. to buy. The recipe below is intended for chocolate or vanilla cake, not for sponge or angel food style cakes.

Moist- from-Mix Gluten-Free and Egg Less Cake

1 box Passover cake mix (made with potato starch) for a 9x9 single layer cake*
water as per package instructions
oil as per package instructions
egg substitute (such as Ener-G) for amount of eggs called for on package*
1- 4 ounce jar baby food apricots, pears or prunes (pears and prunes lend a more neutral flavor, apricots give a slight tang to the cake)

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix according to package directions. Bake as directed on box. Cool and frost as desired.

To make a 2 layer cake, use a sharp knife or dental floss to divide cake in two. Using unwaxed, unflavored dental floss, wrap a piece around the cake, directly in the center of the layer. Cross ends over each other, and pull in opposite directions. This splits the cake in two layers perfectly evenly. Fishing wire works well too.

*For use on Passover, substitute 2 teaspoons potato starch dissolved in 3 Tablespoons of water, for each egg called for in recipe.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Way with Huevos


This month's magazines were very good for the gluten-free among us. Both Family Circle and Women's Day featured articles on gluten-free recipes. And, I found some great ideas that happened to be gluten-free in Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and Cook's Country.

A bowl full of beaten eggs holds much potential. They can be turned into humble scrambled eggs, a comforting and warm meal any time of day, dolled up with smoked salmon and chives for an elegant twist. Or, they can be skillfully mixed with vegetables and cheese for a quiche or frittata---easy, yet impressive. Sometimes we need something new to turn that potential into a spectacular reality. A recipe for Huevos Revueltos caught my eye in Cooking Light magazine, which is sort of huevo ranchero-ish, but billed as "guilt free". It is easy enough to throw together. The recipe calls for cheese, which could be substituted with soy cheese for those looking for a dairy free version.

With Passover just a week away the staples of eggs and potatos are on many of our minds. It is especially true for those non-matzo eaters. With the cost of gluten-free oat matzo being astronomical, our family saves it just for the seders and festive meals, when one is required to wash Hamotzi. That leaves alot of space to fill next to the main course. Potatoes do that nicely in lieu of rice, or gluten free pasta we have available during the year (although I have recently seen potato starch pastas). But boiled, baked or roasted can be a bit boring when oft repeated. Cook's Country magazine has a recipe for a steakhouse style hash brown cake that is egg, dairy (if desired) and, of course, gluten-free. It is a nice substitute for a kugel for those who are egg allergic. Whatever you choose to do with your spuds and yolk folks, make it tasty and enjoy!

For Passover, the corn tortillas in the recipe should be omitted. This kicky-egg dish makes a great change for a meatless brunch, lunch or dinner.

Huevos Revueltos
from Cooking Light, April 2010, p. 136

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 jalapeno pepper
3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 3/4 cups chopped plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspon salt
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers (or cheddar)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
4 lime wedges (optional)
Hot pepper sauce (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cut jalapeno in half lenghtwise; discard seeds from one half and leave seeds in remaining half. Mince both jalapeno halves. Add jalapeno, green onions, and garlic to pan; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes and salt; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.

2. Add eggs; cook 3 minutes or until soft scrambled, stirring constantly. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and cilantro. Serve with totillas, lime wedges and hot sauce, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings.

Steakhouse Hash Browns
from Cook's Country magazine, April/May 2010, p. 18

Note: In lieu of the time consuming steps of peeling and cutting potatoes into chunks before boiling, check out this video, "Dawn Wells peels potatoes" for an easier alternative. When cooled, cut into chunks as below.

3 pounds russet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1. Bring potatoes and enough water to cover by 1-inch to boil in large pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender but not falling apart, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to pot; let stand 5 minutes.

2. Transfer 1 cup potatoes to bowl and toss with butter or margarine. Mash until smooth, then gently combine with remaining potato chunks. MIx in salt and pepper.

3. Adjust oven rack to upper position (about 4 inches below broiler element) and heat broiler. Coat a rimless cookie sheet with cooking spray. Heat 3 Tablespoons oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add potatoes and lightly pat into a circle. Cook until bottom is crusty and golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes.

4. Slide hash browns out of skillet onto prepared baking sheet with browned side facing down. Brush top with remaining oil and broil until deep golden brown, 10 to 14 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then carefully slide onto platter. Cut into wedges and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cake Walk


As my birthday neared last week, I contemplated making three separate cakes. I really wanted a rich, glutenny chocolate cake for my birthday...with eggs and buttermilk. All items two of my children cannot eat. I plopped down last month's Bon Appetit magazine in front of my husband, open to an enticing picture of such a cake. "This", I said as I stabbed at it with my forefinger, "this is the cake I want, can you make it for me?" He looked at me as if I'd lost my mind. Forgetting the fact that he has trouble warming things up in the microwave, I sighed. I knew the answer. But I hoped. I didn't have the energy to bake three cakes, and I feel one should not have to bake their own birthday cake. But bake one I did. Yes, one.

Since we've gone gluten free I've tried various cake recipes with egg substitutes, or my stand by egg less chocolate cake recipe for Rosie (from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook) with gluten free flour in place of all-purpose. The last experiment, which I was hopeful for, ended in a bundt cake that looked like a flat bicycle tire. The week I made that for Shabbos Lillie asked me if I could make a good cake for next Shabbos. It was at that point that I realized I would have to just make two sets of cake or cupcakes, one gluten free with eggs and one glutenful without eggs. And so it went. Until I received Simply Tempting in the mail (see previous post). The allergy free cookbook contains a section for Passover recipes, hence the cake is made with potato starch (in my estimation the cheapest gluten free "flour"). The recipe for a gluten free, egg free cake fairly jumped off the page at me. I had my doubts though. For the past several Passovers we've made do with mousses, chocolates and ices for dessert as I had not been able to make a satisfying Passover cake for Rosie without eggs. Since they don't have flour, they generally need the eggs for structure, texture and levity. But it was worth a try.

Hubby icing cake

Since Hubby has had kitchen amnesia dating from the time he placed a ring on my finger, I agreed to bake the cake with the girls and he would frost it with them. That left some element of surprise for my birthday cake. After I mixed the batter, I looked into the bowl and it seemed downright liquidy to me. I had never seen such a cake batter before. I realized I may have misread the recipe and added an extra half cup of soy milk, which would explain the liquidy texture. To satisfy my curiosity, I measured out the remaining soy milk in the newly opened container and found that, no, I had measured the correct amount, the recipe just yielded a liquidy batter.

With my doubts I placed the cake pans in the oven and hoped and prayed. The recipe called for baking the cake for 1 hour, which seemed too long to me for 2 - 9 inch round pans. It was, I shortened the baking time by about 15 minutes. The cake came out of the oven with a bit of a cracked top, which may have been due to the long bake time. But it wasn't burnt. The cake cooled, and much hubbub was heard downstairs as I went upstairs to busy myself during the frosting extravaganza. When I apprehensively took a forkful of the cake, I was pleasantly surprised. The texture was like any other gluten free cake, it was chocolaty, and tasted just fine. So baking a cake for my family can be a "cake walk" now that I don't have to make separate cakes to accommodate various family members.

This cake is ideal for Passover (make sure all ingredients are marked Kosher for Passover), and can be made into a sheet cake, layer cake or cupcakes. Baking times will vary (see below). You can frost the cake, top with nuts before baking, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar when cooled, or serve with a garnish of fresh berries. Potato starch should be in the supermarkets in abundance now for Passover...stock up for all year!

Pesach Chocolate Cake
from Simply Tempting, second edition, p. 120 (instructions slightly modified)

3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar

1 1 /2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla sugar (or pure vanilla extract)

1 3/4 cups potato starch

1 cup liquid coffee whitener (or soy or rice or almond milk)
2 teaspoons apricot jam or puree (I used apricot baby food)

1/2 cup oil

1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9x13 cake pan* with non-stick cooking spray and line bottom of pan with parchment paper to keep cake from sticking. Set aside.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add coffee whitener, apricot puree, and oil (as well as vanilla extract if you are using instead of the dry vanilla sugar). Blend well until smooth. You may use an electric mixer or blend by hand. Add boiling water. Mix well.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 55 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the pan should come out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Serve with whipped cream or frost as desired.

* For 2 -9 inch round pans or 2 - 8 inch square pans bake for 40-45 minutes. For cupcakes bake for 20-25 minutes. Check for doneness before removing from oven.

The following frosting recipe will make your cake taste like a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie.

Mint Chocolate Frosting

adapted from Cook's Country Magazine, April/May 2010, p. 7

2 1/2 sticks pareve margarine or unsalted butter, cut in pieces, softened
3 Tablespoons non-dairy milk or creamer (i.e., Rich's whip, soy milk, rice milk) or heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon mint extract

1/8 teaspoon salt (increase to 1/4 teaspoon if using unsalted butter)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

3 cups confectioners' sugar

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

Using an electric stand or hand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat together butter, cream, extracts and salt until combined, about 1 minute on medium-high speed. Add melted chocolate and continue whipping until combined. Reduce mixer speed to medium-low.

Slowly add confectioners' sugar and cocoa, while mixer is running, and mix until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and beat frosting until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Yield: Frosting for 2 9-inch cake layers, one 9x13 sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes