Clara Gluten Free

Bread Pudding

Hello again! (long time no see, no? Don't worry- I only temporarily fell off of the side of the world because of semester exams. This year, I  actually studied for all of them!!) First of all, here's to hoping all holidays/starts of new years were pleasant +  remain to be so, and second of all, yes, I know bread pudding is not exactly a holiday cookie. But, I made it with my holiday baking, so it's going in the summary series on all that. Anyway, it's a great way to use up stale bread/sweet breads. 


This version I made is kind of like cake and kind of like blondies (you know, the non-chocolate brownies?) and I made it to use up left over baked donuts/crullers from  Sweet Freedom, but I'd recommend against using fried donuts, if anyone eating the pudding wants to have any arteries to speak of afterward! The more traditional way to make bread pudding is to use up regular old stale bread, or cinnamon raisin bread, but being that GF bread is well, gluten free, it tends to disintegrate with fluid, ie the egg-milk mixture for the pudding. So, proceed with caution. As to the general structure of bread pudding, to the best of my knowledge, it is sort of like a custard, but with bread chucks suspended through out. So the eggs for the base, but in this case they leaven (make it rise) a bit too. Oh, and make it really rich. 



Bread Pudding- about 24 small-ish servings

Note: The bread I used was already very sweet, so you might want to add sugar to taste if you are using regular sandwich bread. 

about 5 cups of 1" cubed sweet bread
8 eggs
3 cups of milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup M & Ms 

1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk eggs, milk and vanilla together. In a large mixing bowl, soak the bread until it begins to dissolve. Pour off and reserve excess liquid. 

2- Fill a large (approx 18" x 22" ) pan with bread mixture. Stir in half of the  M & Ms. Pour left over eggs/milk until half of pan is filled, discard the rest. Top with the remainder of the M & Ms.

3-Bake for about 1 hr, or slightly over, until browned on top (cover with aluminium foil if browning too much) and set (if you poke it, it should feel like a gelled cake). Let cool, and serve immediately.

Flourless Peppermint-Chocolate Cookies

So...blame that absence on baking holiday cookies and school...which I may or may not have done to the exclusion of everything else. Anyway. Here's the start of my series on holiday baking. This year, diagnosised and all, it's REALLY! EXCITING! to be making lots of holiday treats that are well, safe for a celiac to eat. To kick this off- I made a recipe I found off of Foodily, but the recipe originally came from   this lovely blog . How can you go wrong with any of the words "Flourless", "Chocolate" or "Cookies"??



The first time I made the cookies, I wanted to reduce how much the spread, and everything in the world needs peppermint, so I tweaked them to suit. These are flourless, so they are naturally GF, as always- assuming your ingredients are clean. As for how they work- the binding and the moistness comes from the egg whites. Similar to meringues, but not made into a foam. However, I got an idea to take down the spreading from meringue cookies. Ever made meringues? Well, they always call for an acid (cream of tartar, usually), which helps unfold the egg white protiens to they will bond into a network. So I added baking soda, which has cream of tartar and baking powder (baking soda, a.k.a- sodium bicarbonate- a levener), in order to help get the structure I wanted and get a little bit of lift to the cookies. I think it worked. I also increased the cocoa powder and switched in a darker chocolate in order to balance the peppermint I put in. You could use semisweet or milk chocolate, but I like the dark flavor of the bittersweet. Well, actually, I like the dark flavor of unsweetened baking chocolate...but I try not to inflict it on normal people. 



Flourless Chocolate Peppermint Cookies- makes 3 dozen

1 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
4 egg whites
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbs vanilla
1/2 tbs peppermint extract
1 1/4 cups bittersweet chips/shavings
1/3 cup crushed candy cane (about 7)

1- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly wipe with oil/butter to grease. Crush the candy canes is a strong plastic bag, with a hammer or some other large, heavy object. Combine with chocolate chips, and set aside.

2- Combine cocoa and sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Stir on low to combine. Add the egg whites (you can reserve the yolks for up to 3 days in the fridge. Crème Brûlée, anyone?), extracts baking powder, and salt. Stir on high to combine, until the batter is stretchy. Stir in the chocolate chips and candy cane.

3- Put about 10-12 1" balls of cookie dough on each cookie sheet (space them out so there are about 2 inches of space between each ball of dough). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies feel solid, but the center still feels soft. 

4- Remove from oven, allow to cool on the cookie sheet 5-10 minutes. Fend off the people who try to take the cookies too early (the cookies will disintrigrate) and then move to a cooling rack/serve immediately. 


Sandwiches, Part II

...and to conclude that short series on sandwiches- here is the other recipe. Again, I did a panini, but grilled cheese or broiled open-face melts would work too- especially for this one, which is a jazzed up tuna melt.

I was making lemony tuna salad, when I realized didn't have mayo (dairy-free or otherwise) so I decided to go for coconut oil. And was surprised to discover when I went to mix up my tuna that coconut oil is very, very hard at room temperature. So, I cut it int to the tuna like butter into flour for pastry (yes, I know- weird connection), but I bet if you melted it and stirred it in it would work better. Haven't tried that yet- so consider yourself warned. And on that ominous note- I'd just like to say... it was the Best! Tuna! Melt! Ever!!


Coconut Lemon Tuna Melts- serves 4

2 5-oz cans of tuna, drained
3 celery sticks- washed + sliced
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 lemons- zested + juiced
1-2 1 oz slices of cheese for each sandwich
4 slices of bread or 4 rolls, halved


1- Preheat a panini press or oven broiler. Combine in a medium bowl tuna, celery, lemon zest/juice and coconut oil (you may have to cut this is in like butter into pastry. If so- use a big fork). Lay out the pairs of slices of bread. Butter the outside of each sandwich (helps with browning the outside)

2- For each sandwich- layer bread (butter-side down), slice of cheese to cover the bread, tuna, more cheese if using, top piece of bread (butter-side up).

3- Press in the panini-maker until golden brown or broil 7-10 minutes (be sure to flip them part way through!). Allow to cool for a few minutes, slice and serve immediately. 


Sandwiches, Part I

I've got two sandwiches I've been meaning to blog. And by meaning, I mean sitting on my computer while I think about Thanksgiving  and bake Christmas cookies (I'll have those recipes soon!!). So, here's Sandwich 1- an Apple Cheddar Panini


Unfortunately for me, there's not a whole lot of food chemistry happening with a sandwich, but that explains why they are easy to make (Look at that! I just came up with a whole idea to explain...when there is no real information to talk about!). Well, except- keep in mind what the consistency of your cheese is going to be like when it melts- all cheeses melt in different ways...and some separate into curds and oils (kind of really gross- but those are generally very hard cheeses only) The main thing to think about is taste: sandwiches hold on to the flavor of their ingredients really well, so it's important to make sure you have good combinations. So, in good creative-cook fashion, I stole this idea from a Whole Foods recipe. Except I put it on bread, not tortillas. Yes, I know. Brilliant. 


Apple Cheddar Paninis/Melts- makes 6

1 Crisp, sour Apple, sliced thin (I like Honeycrisp, Fuji and Braeburn)
1 or 2 1-oz Slices of Cheese for each sandwich
Butter
12 slices of bread

1- Preheat a panini press or oven broiler. Lay out the pairs of slices of bread. Butter the outside of each sandwich (helps with browning the outside)

2- For each sandwich- layer bread (butter-side down), slice of cheese to cover the bread, slices of apple to cover the bread, more cheese if using, top piece of bread (butter-side up).

3- Press in the panini-maker until golden brown or broil 7-10 minutes (be sure to flip them part way through!). Allow to cool for a few minutes, slice and serve immediately. 

The (rather belated) Thanksgiving Post

It seems a little late to be talking about thanksgiving..since it already happened and now everything is in Holiday Mode, but here's what I did for my first (!!!) GF thanksgiving. But, before I dive in, it's worth noting that this is not your typical thanksgiving spread- we were travelling this year and so this was all done in a micro-sized kitchen. Hence, we went straight for the important stuff: the turkey, the cranberry sauce, and the potatoes au gratin (always been the traditional thanksgiving food around here). Also- to give credit where credit is due, my dad made the potatoes, my sister made the asperagus, my mom made sure it all onto the table, and my brother cleaned up the dishes. And we bought the desserts from Sweet Freedom Bakery. I know- the real score was being able to buy desserts. And not get sick! Something to be quite thankful for. Anyway. How I did GF Thanksgiving:

I got a Kosher turkey, and roasted it following this Cook's Illustrated recipe (login required- sorry!). You don't need to brine a Kosher turkey, because it's already salted. The salt breaks down the connective tissue in the meat, so it's good- up to a point. Too much salt (meaning brine + Kosher) gets a inedibley salty turkey that dissolves. And how I know this: that story is one of our Thanksgiving horror stories. No, I wasn't cooking. Anyway- here is the turkey I made. It was Kosher Valley brand- be sure to check your turkey brand for being GF!-


And then the Thanksgiving buffet table: 


That would be all the sides (Potatoes au gratin, roast carrots, turkey, cranberry-ginger-orange sauce, caramelized onions, gravy and roast asparagus). 

So- my thoughts on GF Thanksgiving (then recipes! I promise!). Well, the obvious thing was that I minimized all wheat/barley/rye/oat-related items. Which actually took a load off when it came to planning. Also, took a load off since there was none of that "MY OVEN IS OUT OF SPACE!" moment that always happens about 1 hour before dinner is supposed to happen. Going bread-less: definitely a good idea for the first big GF meal you have to cook up. I'm not sure if I'll stick to that plan for the next big meal/feast I cook- but that will probably depend if I get a bread recipe I like up and running. It will also depend on whether I get all my holiday cookies done (because they are obviously more important than bread for dinner).

And to segway back to Thanksgiving- here are more pictures and the recipes. I'm not posting a potatoes au gratin recipe...because ours, well, separated (cheese does that when it's heated too long- it curdles, and the liquid drains out- or into the bottom of your pan) nor am I posting a gravy recipe. I just followed the usual and used rice flour instead of wheat flour. I know. Big deal. Anyway: 




Roast Carrots + Roast Asparagus
*Note: since we only had one oven, these were done the same way, which was just roast them for a really long time. 

Carrots + Asparagus
Butter (2-3 tbs, depending on how many carrots)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

1- Heat the oven to 400 F (or whatever your turkey is at...). Wash, peel and chop the carrots into sticks. Put into a large bowl. Melt the butter, add salt and pepper to taste for the carrots, and pour on the carrots. Toss to coat. 

2- Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet or layer in a Pyrex pan. Cover with aluminum foil. Roast for about 45 min.

3- Meanwhile, wash the asparagus and chop off the ends. Lay in one layer on one or two cookie sheets, spending on the quantity of asparagus. Non-stick works best, but parchment lining will do. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roll the asparagus around to coat. Roast for about 1 1/2 hours.

4- After the carrots have roasted for about 45 min, take the aluminum foil off and roast for about 1 1/2 hours, or until done.

5- Check both veggies during cooking. If one side of the pan is darker than another, turn the pan. This happens because almost all ovens have hot and colds spots. When both veggies when they are as soft and as brown as you would like, remove them and serve warm. 


Cranberry Sauce

12 oz bag of cranberries (or more)
approx 1 1/2 cups orange juice
approx 1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Salt
Dried Ginger
Ginger Root + Crystallized Ginger: (optional)

1- Wash and pick over the cranberries. Place in a medium sauce pan and just cover with orange juice. Add the vanilla, salt and dried ginger to taste. Bring to a boil. 

2- Meanwhile, if you are using ginger root and/or crystallized ginger: peel the fresh ginger and dice it very fine; for the crystallized ginger, dice it as finely as you would like- larger chunks will have a stronger taste and give the sauce a stickier texture.

3- After 15 minutes or so, the cranberries should finish up popping and the liquid should begin to gel. Add the brown sugar, and ginger root/crystallized ginger. Continue to boil until Boil until the cranberry sauce is as thick as you like. The longer you boil, the more Jell-O-like it will become. For the concrete-strong cranberry sauce I make, I usually boil for 30 minutes or so. Remove from heat, add sugar, salt and ginger to taste. Garnish with crystallized ginger. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days and reheat in the microwave, on medium. 


Caramelized Onions
*Note: I made this recipe up when I couldn't bear to waste the onions I used to roast the turkey. So, I fished them out of the drippings when I was making gravy. Here goes:

Onions (it's ok if turkey drippings are on them)
Salt and Pepper

1- Heat a small sauce pan on high. Add the onions, cover and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir, and repeat until there's a light layer of golden fond on the pan and the onions are beginning to brown. At this point, deglaze the pan by swirling several tablespoons of water in the saucepan.

2- Allow most of the water to boil off. Cover, caramelize and deglaze again. Boil off the water, salt and pepper, and serve as a warm relish.









Squash Mountain

While formulating my Thanksgiving Post (it's coming soon! I promise!) I was digging through my picture archives when I came across these pictures from a few weeks ago when I made squash with cranberries and pine nuts. After that "What is that?? .... oh, i remember now" moment, I thought- how did I not share this on the blog! It was my creative answer to trying to tackle squash mountain...aka- the rather large surplus of squash we got from our CSA farm (community supported agriculture. Not CSI or the CIA. Just to clarify that.)


I saw that, in addition to squash mountain, we had pine-nuts and cranberries, and I thought that the heartiness of the squash would contrast well with fresh, acidic cranberries (acid = sour flavor, just to note), and the richness of the pine-nuts would help balance the two. Turns out it worked great, though a bit of brown sugar to take down the sour of the cranberries and play up the earthiness of the nuts and squash, was important. Anyway, my method for cooking the squash was to roast the living daylights out of it, just like I like to do with root veggies. You don't have to...I just like my food mushy and sour. Go figure.

Winter Squash with Cranberries and Pine-nuts

*Note: this recipe is very adaptable depending on your quantity of ingredients and how you want to balance the flavors. Here's what I did, based on how much squash I had, but definitely feel free to play around with the ratios. Also, use whatever squash you like or is on hand. I mixed butternut, acorn and some that I'd never seen before and whose names I don't know and possibly never will. I almost hacked up the little pumpkins scattered round the house for decoration (I thought they would be yummy!!)...but respect and reason prevailed..and I decided to wait until after Thanksgiving.

approx 5 lbs squashes 
1/4 cup melted butter or high-heat oil (like canola, or sunflower)
Salt and pepper
1 12-oz bag of fresh cranberries
approx 1/3 of pine-nuts
approx 1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1- Preheat the oven to 450 F, peel the squashes, remove the seeds and chop it all into 1 inch cubes, or smaller. Coat with butter, salt and pepper and roast on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 1 hour.

2- Heat a dry, nonstick skillet on high heat. Toast the pine nuts for about 5 minutes- be sure to flip them over a lot. They burn- fast. Set aside.

3- Check how close to done the squash is. If it's about 15 minutes away, wash the cranberries, and scatter them over the squash- particularly the areas where the squash is the darkest. Roast for about 15 more minutes. Once all the cranberries have popped, and oozed out over the squash, remove from the oven. You may wish to turn up the heat to 500 F if you want to brown the squash and speed up the cranberries.

4- Put the squash/cranberries into a serving bowl. Mix in the pine-nuts. Stir in almost of the brown sugar. Salt and pepper to taste- add more sugar if you want. Sprinkle the last of the sugar on top for garnish. Serve immediately. 


Ebelskivers

Somehow we ended up with an ebelskiver pan.What is an ebelskiver you ask? Well, so did I. Turns out is a traditional Danish pastry aka- a filled pancake. Also turns out that they are really hard to not burn. So, tip: don't multitask this one...like I always attempt to do. And it's especially hard to cook them well if you preheat the pan to high, so bonus tip: start the pan out on medium heat and allow to preheat for longer. I think it heats the pan easier that way. Anyway, this recipe happened for lunch one day (ok...a few weeks ago! I confess!) when I really wanted pancakes. Then my mom said she wanted ebelskivers. Then my brother said he won't eat ebelskivers. So, instead of filling them with meat and cheese, I filled them with sweet blueberries. I know. Underhanded. Then, I burnt too much batter to the pan, and so made the rest of it into pancakes. 


Aside from successfully wrestling some pretty (ok and some ugly) ebelskivers from my pan (I think the nonstick coating was scratched off at some point after the dawn of time...that can't be helping), the true suceess of the day was my Super Amazing Idea. I made blueberry pie filling...in the microwave. Blueberry pie is famously watery because blueberries are very low on pectin, the "gluten" of fruits. No, it's not real gluten (celiacs- we can relax now). Pectin is a protien that holds fruits and veggies (I think) together. For example, when you cook cranberries or apples (which are both high in pectin) with sugar, the juices gel together and- with some more work- you get jelly. Blueberries- less so. They don't have much pectin. So you cheat like I did and use cornstarch, or tapioca starch- or dried pectin itself- for your pie. Or your super amazing microwave blueberry jam/pie filling.



PS: It turns out that people have already thought of my super amazing idea. Not surprising- the interwebs are full of great thinkers (and not-so-great ones, but that's for a different blog). Speaking of which- heard of foodily? It's a different sort of search engine for recipes, that allows you to save them and friends to follow what you save. I'm thinking of getting a blog facebook (eek!) and linking it to foodily (eek! eek!) so everyone can see the food I am thinking about. Any thoughts?

PPS: I've been working away on GF bread recipes. I started with Gluten Free Goddess's bread recipe, but I'm totally revamping it to suit my own needs. Like being egg-free so I can do long rises. As I come out with recipes, of course I'll let you know. Stay tuned. :)

Ebelskivers

2 cups brown rice flour
2 cups tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthum gum
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbs sugar
6 tbs melted butter
2 eggs
1 tbs vanilla
2 1/2 cups milk

1- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt the butter, mix in the eggs and vanilla. Add to dry ingedients. Stir in the milk. Add more milk if necessary so that the batter pours fairly smoothly.

2- Meanwhile, grease and preheat your ebelskiver pan on medium. Once it is ready, fill a depression 2/3 the way full with batter. Add about a tbs of (blueberry) filling. Cover with more batter. Do this for the rest of your ebelskiver slots.

3- Cook each ebelskiver for about 3 minutes, carefully flip them (it takes practice, don't worry). And cook for 3 more, or until they are fully cooked and golden brown on all sides. You might need to turn them another time, perhaps in a different direction. Serve warm. Or, for dessert, with vanilla whipped cream.

2b- Alternatively, grease and preheat a griddle or very large frying pan to medium heat, or 375 F, to make pancakes. For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the surface, plop some blueberry filling on top of that, and then cover with a tbs or two of batter. Allow to cook until the edges look solid- about 3 min. Flip your pancakes, allow them to finish off cooking- about 3 min. Serve warm. 

Blueberry filling 

approx 1 cup frozen blueberries, defrosted until warm
1 cup hot water
2 tbs cornstarch

2 tbs sugar
1 wedge of lemon or 1/4 tsp 

1- Defrost the blueberries until warm. Measure out hot water, stir in cornstarch until dissolved, add to the blueberries, and heat for 1 min, 30 sec on high or until gelled.

2- Stir in the sugar and the lemon. Use for ebelskivers or serve on toast like jam. 

Cake-like

Today is pumpkin bread! Made last week...no it's not still in the breadbox. Too yummy for that. Except, no one had the nerve to finish off the last slice and face the wrath of the rest of the family....so it's in the freezer. I'm betting someone will finish it from there. Or it will go into a Pumpkin Bread Ice Cream Sundae.


I made omlettes the day before I made the pumpkin bread and because egg yolks and I rather strongly dislike egg yolks, I kept a few out of the egg mix and saved them to make into something else. That is, I wanted to use them in my grand scheme of super-rich pumpkin bread. Because egg yolks are a great emulsifier/binder and I wanted to use light, absorbent flours to make a damp texture, I thought I'd need them. Which I did. I gave this recipe the cake-treatment, that is creaming everything before hand get lots of air into the mixture so that the texture is much lighter (for more info, take a look here) However, in good distracted-cook fashion, I got halfway through my recipe and realized I was out of pumpkin pie-type spices, which taste more like pumpkin than pumpkin does...because pumpkin tastes like squash. Actually, according to my sister, pumpkins are really a berry. On that note- here's the recipe I made, plus recommended spices. Alternatively, spice to your own taste before pouring into the pan. I love a good, random ending. :)



Rich Pumpkin Bread

1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca flour 
1/2 cup corn starch
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthum gum
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp all-spice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 egg yolks
1 egg
scant tbs vanilla
1 stick of butter, softened
1 15-oz can of pumpkin (I use Libby's brand)
1/4 cup milk

1- Set the oven to 375 F. Grease one loaf pan. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl (flours, baking soda, baking powder, xanthum gum, spices, salt). Set aside.

2- Cream together butter, and sugar with a mixer on high until well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla, turn down to medium and continue to cream until the mixture is light, fluffy and the color of light peanut butter. Mix in the pumpkin.

3- Stir in the dry ingredients on low. Add the milk if the batter is looking dry. It should be like pancake batter. I added a tiny bit more brown sugar, because I was planning that this would be a dessert bread, so you can stir in a little more brown sugar to taste, if you want. Pour into the loaf pan.

4- Bake for about 1 hour or until the center of your bread reads 200-210 F on an instant read thermometer. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and serve. With cream cheese and chocolate chips, if you're feeling flamboyant. 


Asparagrass

We always have nicknamed asparagus to be asperagrass, which I think is kind of cute, since it belies the real association I have with the appearance of asparagus...which would be medieval weapons. Anyway. I roasted/broiled these for lunch yesterday, which worked out really well.


I was a bit worried that the asparagus would shrivel up and dry out before it browned, so I sprayed it with cooking spray. That way I could ensure with the high heat of the oven, if worst came to worst, I'd have burnt and underdone asparagus rather than shrivelly and dead. I'm not exactly sure, but I think the oil heats up faster than the asparagus spear, making it brown quicker than it would if I just left the whole tray in for the same amount of time. See, it's all about damage control based on estimates. Nothing could go wrong. Turns out my plan worked... there wasn't an asparagus spear that was all dried out.



Roasted Asparagus

Asparagus to cover the pan in one layer
Cooking spray
Salt + pepper

1- Wash and chop off the ends of the asparagus. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450. Lay out the asparagus on a broiler-safe pan. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Roll the spears over, so that all sides are coated with a fine layer of oil. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper, rolling the spears again so they are evenly coated. 

2- Roast for about 20 minutes- or until the spears start to look shrivelly. Increase the heat to 500 and roast for 10 more minutes- or until the tips are beginning to brown. 

3- Turn on the broiler. Broil for 5-7 minutes, at which point some spears may be dark brown. Rotate the pan if you need to even out the browning and broil for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow the spears to cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes and serve. 

  

Splatter-Painted

Hello again! I'm back! And I have cake. Doesn't that always make things better? Actually, I had cake. I made a peanut butter-fudge birthday cake for my sister (shout-out to that sister! happy birthday!!) from this recipe. Only, the recipe is a regular chocolate layer-cake with seven-minute (type of egg-white based) frosting. Well, regular if cake happens everyday (I wish!). But I decided to go overboard with peanut butter and fudge and ended up with this: 


It actually was as good as it looks. And it was way fun to make. I had to go out and get quinoa flour to make it. Oh, and restock the whole fridge (darn freak, October snowstorm!). But the recipe worked really well. And I didn't even need the stand mixer. I did as I was supposed to and did not open the oven until the cake was done (lets the steam let the cake set up properly). It was kind of amazing: the layers actually came out of the pans completely flat. Of course, that was to aforementioned sister's irriation: there were no scaps to sample ahead of time! Anyway, I followed the seven minute frosting recipe right up to the seven minute part- I beat it until the peaks were very stiff, almost marshmallow-y. I wanted the frosting to support a lot of weight. Because I wanted to pour on the peanut butter and ganache. Which I did. On top of the bottom layer, I spread peanut butter, chocolate ganache, crumbled Reese's Cups (they're GF!!!!!) and frosting. Then I put the other layer on, frosted the whole thing, and drizzled/dumped melted peanut butter and ganache on top. The best sort of splatter-painting ever. The frosting was weeping a bit by the second day, but no matter. Best cake ever.



Chocolate Peanut-Butter Fudge Cake

Cake and Frosting: use this recipe

Melted Peanut Butter: simply put about 1/4 cup of (slightly sweet) peanut butter in a measuring cup, and melt for about 45 second in the microwave. I used smooth peanut butter, but crunchy works fine too.

Ganache: heat 1/3 cup milk in a small skillet or in the microwave. Stir in chocolate chips until it is fairly thick (probably about 3/4 a cup). Allow to cook for a few minutes, and then fling onto your cake.

PS: Originally this fudge cake was going to be an angel food cake, but after both attempts (this one, the chocolate one...which tasted like Cocoa Pebbles cereal) looked like this:



I decided I needed a Plan B and more research for the angel food. So I've been doing that and I am going to tackle it by Christmas. Seems like my folding technique was the culprit, but we'll see. So expect more on that later. And on creme brulee: a GF baker has to use up egg yolks somehow!! Especially when there is a possibility of creme brulee! Also, expect more pastries and risen bread. For some reason, after the failed angel food, I'm like super-pumped to get back into that. Way back when (like a year ago) when I was not gluten-free, I may or may not have spent my whole life fixated on baking pastries and risen bread. A hobby, I call it. 


Travelling

First of all, Happy Halloween. Second of all- that was one weird slush storm two nights ago. Third of all, no recipe today. I'm sorry. Explanation/excuse: we lost all power as of 1 AM yesterday, and so spent the night camped out in a hotel that had power. Unlike the hotel we first went to, which was out. And I meant camped out- we brought rations. And a cooking surface and utensils
.

 The most inconvenient thing about celiac, is that you can't just decide to spend a night at a hotel and not bring food. Or go out dinner at any old restaurant and tell them you're gluten-free. Cross-contamination (where trace amounts of food from that last gluten-batch they cooked get into your GF food) is a real problem. Usually it requires a whole separate kitchen for restaurants to accommodate true cross-contamination-free GF cooking. Sometimes, super amazing cleaning procedures are ok, but that's really hard to judge. So we travel with our griddle, some knives, cutting boards, and often the crock-pot (check the bottom of the post for a list of stuff to bring) It seems really strange, and I hate doing dishes in a hotel room, but is totally worth not being sick. But, when we are travelling for fun (and not to escape a 35 degree house...) and set up the crock-pot and come back to the room to the smell of beef stew, or chili, its kinda nice. Like really nice.



Stuff to Bring

Food, non-perishables: Peanut butter, tortilla chips, crackers, nuts/trail mix; canned beans, canned tomatoes
Food, perishables: bread, meat/tofu, cheese, yogurt, hard fruits (apples), veggies
Cooking utensils: cutting boards, chef's knives, paring knife, griddle
Other stuff: plastic cutlery, paper plates, paper bowls, dish soap, sponge

Or something

After making the brisket yesterday, I was sick of meat. So it was either going to be tofu or beans today...so I made both. Actually, I made "veggie" burgers by with both. On a vegan whim, I put dairy-free cheese on a bunch of them. Inspired!...or something. They were good though!


Unlike the brisket, it turned out these worked best by cooking them in the oven for fairly long time, to dry them out. And by "turned out" I mean that I invented the recipe today, thought it would take 20 minute to cook...and it took an hour. The original recipe- that I seriously adapted- was from here, the Gluten-Free Vegan Family blog (which I now love has been added to my blog roll...of two blogs) but it didn't have tofu. Oh well. I guess I should have known that because of how much water has. As in, I know that I usually have to use weight of the toaster to press the water out. On a side note, if you're looking for a high-protein bean dip, make up these burgers and don't bake them. Inspired!...or something.

Thought I was done? jk, I'm not (don't worry, you'll never see that on the blog again), actually, I was and then I thought I would write one last update on the lactose-intolerance thing. Except for the one mean, when I forgot to take my lactaid and ate yogurt, I've been all better. Moral of that whole story is- if the celiac symptoms get better and then aren't getting better, you might have another allergy (ok, or intolerance) in play. Doesn't mean you don't have celiac. Just observe closely what foods you don't want to eat, what's in them, and what sort of reactions you get, and try cutting them out (or taking a lactaid! Huzzah for easy fixes!!). 


Black Bean Tofu Veggie Burgers- makes 12 burgers

1 small onion
1 package of tofu
3 14-oz cans of black beans
2 tbs potato starch
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil
2 garlic cloves
salt + pepper
chili powder
ginger
cheese (or vegan cheese)

1- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Dice the onion in the food processor. Drain and rinse the tofu and process it in the food processor. Drain the beans and add to the mixture. Process everything until it is a homogeneous paste. 

2- Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Stir in oil and the potato starch. Press the garlic in a garlic press and stir into the mixture Add spices to taste. I suggest around 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tbs chili powder, 1/2 tsp ginger.

3- Grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray and form patties out of the mixture. Spray the patties with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 F and bake for at least 40 more. The longer they cook the harder they will be.

4- Remove from the oven, and preheat the broiler. Put a slice of cheese to cover the top of each burger (that you want to be a cheese burger). Broil for about 3 minutes. Remove and serve immediately. Leftovers can be reheated in the oven.




Mornings

I started lunch today at 6:30 this morning because I like mornings and I like cooking and most of all I like cooking in the morning. Don't worry, today was brisket, not sandwiches, so I was done by 12:30. It's a long cook-time, but that's because you have too cook the tough-as-nails cut of beef long, low, and slow to break down connective tissues, or else face down a plate of concrete. Which I really don't like to do.  I've made brisket a few times, but only Irish-style, that is, boiling the living daylights out of it.



The boiling offers the distinct advantage that once the brisket is done, you can boil potatoes and carrots and cabbage in the broth, which is really tasty. However, I think next time I get a cut of brisket I am going to roast it, not boil it. I know- branching out.  Weird.  But the boiling is a great project, and really cool to watch. The brisket shrinks in size. When I put it in the pot this morning, it was too big for the whole thing to touch the bottom. When I was done, there was between an inch and two inches of clearance on all sides. More than just projects, I love cooking projects. 


Boiled Dinner

1 approx 5 lb cut of brisket
1-2 tbs olive oil
2 bay leaves
salt
carrots
potatoes
1 cabbage

1- If your brisket is not brined, skip to step 2. If your brisket (corned beef) is brined, rinse it thoroughly, place in a large pot (at least 4 quarts), cover with water, and boil for 10 minutes. Pour out the water, and rinse the brisket. 

2- Heat oil in a large pot. Rinse the brisket and brown both sides in the pot. Cover with water. Add the bay leaves and around 2 tsp salt or more if you have a large quantity of water. Bring to a boil, partially covered.

3- The brisket will take between 4-5 hours to cook. Every 30-45 minutes, be sure to come back and flip over the meat, to ensure that it cooks evenly. Add more water as necessary (it should mostly cover the beef). You know the brisket it done when it is soft- you will be able to chip bits of meat away by gently pulling with a fork. Don't cook too long- be sure to pull it out before the meat looks like it is ready to disintegrate. Before you take the brisket out of the water, warm a serving plate.

4- Remove the brisket when it is as done as you would like, slice it against the grain of the meat, place on the warmed serving plate. If you are not cooking the veggies, cover with aluminum foil, and a dishcloth. If you can, store it in a slightly warmed oven. 

5- Cut up potatoes and carrots into 1" cubes and slices. Place in the broth and bring to a rolling boil. Add water if necessary to cover the veggies. Cook for 15 minutes. In the meantime, slice the cabbage through the core into halves and then into eighths. 
6- Test the potatoes and carrots for doneness. You know they are done when you insert a fork into the center of  each and they fall off the fork once you lift them out of the water. When the potatoes and carrots are done remove them from the broth and put the cabbage in the broth. Cook for 5-10 minutes. 

7-Add most of the veggies to the plate of brisket (serve any additional carrots, potatoes and on the side). Serve immediately


Broiled-cheese Sandwiches

Today, I made grilled cheese sandwiches, except I kinda think the word "grilled" is a bit not as honest as it could be. Really, it was broiled cheese sandwiches as I had no sandwich-suited grill handy. You just need to make do, I suppose. Well, mostly- every time I've grilled sandwiches, most of each sandwich ends up in the fire, where I have discovered, it is remarkably less edible. Anyway, either way I looked at it, today was another leftovers lunch, since throwing them out out is a waste of food, and money that could be put to use in the very-expensive gluten-free sweets aisle. Because everyone needs treats sometimes. With that in mind, today- and because I like them- we had steak-and-cheese-and-tomato grilled cheese sandwiches:



I bet you could use any meat in place of the steak, and when we don't have leftover meat, I always use tofu instead, so I know that works. It's a good method for stretching the protein from a meal when there isn't enough quantity to make another meal out of it alone. 

Another update on the lactose experiment- I really did say cheese, and  I really have been eating real dairy today...with a lactaid. Like going gluten free, when I just cut out gluten and observed how I felt, I am acting as though I am lactose intolerant, and seeing if it solves anything. So far so good. We'll see what happens. 


Grilled Cheese- makes 4 sandwiches

8 slices of bread
8 slices of cheese
1 tomato
leftover meat/tofu
butter

1- Find a broiler-safe pan that can fit all the sandwiches. Preheat the oven if necessary. Divide the bread up into four pairs (to become the sandwiches). Butter the sides of the bread that will become the outside of the sandwich. Slice the tomato very thin, into 12 slices, and slice the meat/tofu into edible-size pieces (under 1/4").

2- Open each up, layer one slice of cheese, three slices of tomato (to cover the cheese), meat/tofu, and top with another slice of cheese. Cover with the outside piece of bread.

3- Broil about 3-4 minutes, remove from the oven, turn over each sandwich over, and broil again for 3-4 minutes. Removes, slice, and serve immediately.

Cranberries

In fourth grade, I think I spent two months learning about cranberries. I thought it was a little strange at the time, and even weirder when I moved schools the next year and spent couple weeks on the subject in fifth grade. Of course, I'm from Boston so perhaps that explains it (and explains the four class field trips to Plymouth plantation between grades 3 and 8). And then, when I went to make this soup for lunch today, I forgot that cranberries float. So much for that.

I didn't make this soup with the primary intention to be gluten-free, so I can't say a whole lot of creative problem solving went into inventive substitutions, but I can say that a whole lot of things are gluten free. Like everything that went in this soup. Actually, exactly everything in this soup. It's worth remembering, when the whole GF thing gets overwhelming, that it's only wheat/barley/rye/oats that have gluten. Most foods really are gluten-free, just the processed foods need to be questioned. I know- it is a lot of work, but there are truly GF foods out there. 

Also: update on the caesin free stuff- I've been looking into caesin versus lactose intolerance symptoms. Here is what I have turned up, but I'm not medical professional, just someone who like to Google stuff and so it's by no means official. Anyway, apparently sensitivity to caesin is a true allergy, and lactose intolerance is the result of an insufficient quantity of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose, a milk sugar), in your digestive system. Guess where the lactase is produced? In your small intestine, which is what is injured by the autoimmune response known as celiac disease. So people with celiac are often lactose intolerant as well. Lactose intolerance often has GI symptoms, while a caesin allergy manifests as a real allergy (hives, etc.). So I'm thinking I'll try Lactaid and see what happens. And then blog about it, of course. In the meantime- here is the GFCF recipe for the soup from today.


Cranberry-Sweet Potato Chicken Soup- makes 12 servings

6-8 cups of chicken broth + chicken pieces
3 bay leaves
1 medium onion
1 can of kidney beans
2 sweet potatoes
1 packages of cranberries, divided into thirds
4 stalks of celery
3 large carrots
1 bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
2 tbs grated fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic
2 tsp dark blackstrap molasses

1- I make my own chicken broth from leftover roast chicken carcasses. Here's how: put the carcass in the pot  you want to make soup in. Cover with water. Add an onion (quartered is fine) and three bay leaves. Boil for 5 hours, stirring periodically and covering with more water when the bones start to poke through the top of the water. Strain the broth and return it to the top. Sort through all the stuff that you strained out- pull out the skin, bones and cartiledge. Return the meat to the pot. 

2- To make the soup- cube the sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes (skin on), slice the celery, peel and slice the carrots, slice the bell pepper, crush the garlic and dice the jalepeno. Pour all this into the broth, add two thirds of the cranberries, and bring to a boil. In the meantime, grate the ginger and add it to the soup. Add half the molasses.

3- Boil for 45 minutes. Add the rest of the molasses and the rest of the cranberries. Boil for 15 more minutes. Pull off the heat and serve immediately. I added quinoa on the side. 





Getting Creative

The other day, I really wanted pasta with tomato sauce and sausage. Not sure why. And I also really wanted to use up the rainbow chard that was sitting in the crisper. I opened the fridge and found the chard a bit more wilted than I had expected, and of course, no sausage (we haven't found a GF brand that didn't make everyone a little sick). But I found lots of hot dogs, and some red bell peppers, and pasta and canned tomatoes in the pantry and just thought, let's see what happens. This is what ensued: 


I didn't think it was all too bad! With GF cooking/eating it's really easy to eat the same thing over and over and over and that's just not sustainable. Better to be trying to switch things up, and have something fail than have rice everyday. Can't say hot dog + pasta was a great paring (kinda plasticy), but the rainbow chard and bell peppers were good, because the chard is bitter and the bell peppers are sweet. Definitely a success there: last time I made rainbow chard, everyone glared at it (rightly so- it looked like it was glaring back), and this time they liked it. 

UPDATE: August 2012- My sister has been doing some research into depression-era food and she has found that potatoes, hot-dogs, and tomato sauce- a.k.a "poor man's meal" was actually quite common. Looks like I made a pasta version. Guess "creative" is only relative to what I knew at the time! 


Rainbow Chard and Bell Pepper Stir Fry

2 bell peppers
approx 12 rainbow chard leaves

1- Rinse the veggies. Slice the peppers into sticks and the chard into smaller pieces (like linguine cut in half)

2- Heat olive oil in a large skillet and toss in. It's ok if it does quite fit- the veggies will significantly reduce in size as they wilt. Stir fry for a bout 10 minutes, stirring periodically, and more toward the end, until everything is slightly brown. Serve warm

Pasta and "Sausage"- serves 6

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 28-oz can of tomatoes
1 package of 4 hot dogs (or sausages...)
1 medium-sized package of pasta

1- saute onion, garlic and hot dogs/sausage until everything is brown. Add tomatoes and reduce until thick.

2- Prepare the pasta (be sure to stir very frequently- GF pasta clumps tight). Strain the pasta. In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta and the sauce, serve immediately. 

Winterfood

Chili and cornbread always seems like food for winter because it is hot and soft. Except I usually eat in summer because it is easy to make. So, to compromise, I'm blogging it in fall because I made it the other day. Brilliant, no?



I made the cornbread first and while it was baking, made the chili. Often chili is a crock-pot sort of meal around here, but I lacked the forethought to set up the crock pot in advance, so I made it on the stove for an hour. Really beat what would have a happened had I made it in the crock-pot for an hour (yay cold and slimy!). Both are GFCF so that was good. But, it turned out, the margarine we ate with the cornbread was not, so that was less good.We got new margarine later in day, and I ate leftover cornbread with new margarine, feeling very clever for figuring it all out. I like solving mysteries.


Cornbread- makes 1 9"x13" pan 

2 cups masa harina
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp xanthum gum
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbs dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1-1 1/2 cps milk (dairy-free works too)
1/3 frozen corn

1- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine eggs and oil and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir to combine.

2- Pour in the coconut milk, depending on altitude and humility, you may need to adjust how much goes in (high altitudes or dry weather will require more). You know there is enough milk when the batter is thick and viscous but still fluid, similar to pancake batter.

3- Stir in the frozen corn, pour the batter into the pan, bake for 25 minutes. You could use two 9"x9" pans, but be sure to watch how quickly they are cooking, because the time will be different. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or knife into the center. If it comes out with batter on it, keep the cornbread in the oven until it passes the test. Remove and serve warm.

Vegetarian Chili- makes 4-6 servings

3 14-oz cans of beans (black bean, kidney and cannelloni are what I use) 
2 14-oz can of diced tomatoes
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 package of tofu
jalapenos or chili powder to taste

1- Drain and rinse tofu. Dry it out by lining a plate with a few paper towels, placing the tofu on top, and covering with paper towels, another plate and something to press down on the tofu without squishing it. I use the toaster (no joke). Drain and rinse the beans, putting them all together in a bowl.

2- Open the can of tomatoes. Chop the onion and dice the garlic, place in a medium bowl. Cube the tofu and add to the bowl. Heat canola oil in a skillet on high, once it is hot, toss in the onion/tofu/garlic. Add the jalapenos or chili powder, if using (by putting the chili powder in now you can 'bloom the spices', meaning make them more flavorful by sauteing in oil) Saute until everything is brown. Add the beans and the tomatoes. Turn down the heat, and allow to reduce for about 15 minutes. Take off the heat, and serve immediately (with cornbread). 

Alternatively, you could skip the sauteing and set this up in the crock-pot in the morning. Give it at least 6 hours in order to make sure the onions cook through completely.