Clara Gluten Free

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.