Clara Gluten Free

Oven Fries

Some thoughts that went through my noggin while making dinner: One of the great GF starches? Potatoes. One of the great ways to cook 'em up? Fries. Done. Oven fries it is.

Oven fries seem kind of simple- and they are- but until yesterday, I had yet to develop a method that gave me a real balanced golden + crispy / soft + potato-y texture. Turns out the tricks were not salting the potatoes until the end- as this draws out water and makes the outside soft- and roasting the whole pan at a high heat and then broiling to finish- as this both cooks and browns everything. It was hot in the kitchen, and the fries came out of the oven far too hot to touch, but after a few minutes- once everything cooled- it was like, um, totally worth it. 

Oven Fries- serves 5
Note: If you do not have safflower oil, another high-heat stable oil- like peanut, avocado, or some canola oils- will work. Don't substitute olive oil or butter- these two will both smoke in the high heat of the oven.

6 large potatoes (about 2.5 lbs)
approx 3 tbs safflower oil 
salt + pepper

1- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Scrub, wash and dry the potatoes. Slice them into thick fries by slicing them into thirds width-wise (to yield three long sections) and then dividing these sections into even-sized fries, about 2-3 fries per section.This should yield about 9 fries per potato.

2- Drizzle 1/2 - 1 tbs onto the surface of a sturdy broiling pan. Spread the oil around with you fingers. Roll each slice on the surface of the pan, picking up oil on all sides. Leave fry on the pan, but allow room to continue to work. Once the pan begins to run out of oil, pour more onto the pan and onto your hands. Repeat until each of the fries are lightly coated in oil. Space fries out evenly on the pan.

3- Roast fries on the middle rack of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until tender and beginning to golden. Turn pan occasionally, if needed. If the fries brown too quickly, but have not cooked through, cover the pan with a layer of aluminum foil and continue to cook.

4- Once the fries are soft, move the pan to an upper rack of the oven. Broil for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, use a spatula to flip the fries, and space them out again. Return to oven. Broil for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until deeply golden brown. Remove from oven. 

5- Salt and pepper the fries, flipping them with the spatula as needed, in order to coat the sides of the fries. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Serve with ketchup and mustard (or chili and cheese), if desired.  

Suggested Reading I: Love from the Oven GF Round Up

While on Pinterest this morning, I came across a link to Love from the Oven's collection of recipes for GF baked goods from a whole collection of GF bloggers. If you're looking for recipes and/or their bloggers, this is the spot to be. Thanks Love from the Oven!

Image from Love from the Oven

Avocado-Tomato Melts

I'm not sure which is more popular at my house- avocado or caramel. But since I was on the hot seat (tee hee) for making lunch, I decided to make avocado melts. It helped that I got five of them on sale over the weekend. 

I started with a base-recipe of tofu-cheddar cheese melts, but tricked out them with avocado and tomatoes for variety and flavor. Like guacamole, but a sandwich. Actually, you could add some garlic/garlic powder and onion/onion to the melts, if you wanted. And some lime juice- it really would be a guacamole melt. None of these were on hand for me, so I made avocado + tomato melts. Which of course equals summer produce melts.

Avocado-Tomato Tofu Melts- makes 8 melts

2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
2 tomatos, sliced into 
8 oz cheese, sliced
1 package tofu, drained and sliced
8 slices of bread

1- Prepare and slice veggies and cheese. 

2- Broil both sides of the bread until lightly golden, about 3 minutes per side.

3- Layer tofu, avocado, and tomato on each piece of bread. Top with sliced cheese.

4- Broil the melts for an additional 3-5 minutes to melt and brown the cheese. Remove from oven. Allow to cool and set, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately. 

Facebook + Twitter + Pinterest + Foodily

Clara Gluten-Free is now connected to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Foodily! Come say find me and say hello at any/all of the sites! Or, you can always still email. Nifty buttons for these for side of the blog to come. 'See' you soon!

Update: I made aforesaid nifty buttons! Here they are...

Dinner Rolls

I've been working on my bread recipe, so of course I had to experiment with a dinner roll recipe. Dinner rolls from a diner in Vermont (the Wayside Restaurant and Bakery in Berlin), are right at the top of the list of my family's favorite foods from the pre-gluten-free days. For GF life to proceed, it was kind of necessary to copy them (read: really necessary).

Dinner rolls, in my experience (gained through sampling, um, a lot of dinner rolls) have a slightly richer texture than regular bread, a fluffy crumb, and these specific rolls also had a salty-butter wash on top. To meet those requirements, I increased the oil, increased the yeast a bit, and brushed (ok, poured) on salted butter. Yum. And my brother has already requested more.

Diner-style Dinner Rolls- makes 8 large rolls

*Note: a dry sweetener (such as table sugar) can be substituted for the corn syrup- just increase the water to a whole 1 cup. Alternatively, another liquid sweetener- such as agave or brown rice syrup- could be used instead.

1 1/4 c brown rice flour
1 c tapioca flour
1 c cornstarch
0.5 tsp baking powder
1 1/2  tsp salt
2 tsp xanthum
3/4 c water (warm)  
1/4 corn syrup
3 tsp yeast
3 tbs oil + additional oil for working
2 eggs

egg wash: 1 egg + approx 1 tbs water

butter wash: 1 tbs butter + 1/2 tsp salt

1- Warm and oven, or set on a dough-proofing cycle. In the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, salt, and xanthum gum. Stir slowly and carefully. Set aside.

2- Combine water, corn syrup, and yeast. Whisk until the corn syrup and yeast are dissolved. Add the 3 tbs oil. Let stand until the yeast begin to metabolize. The solution will become cloudy, yeast-colored, and increase in volume by about 1/2 cup. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs in a separate bowl.

3- When the yeast is ready, add the yeast solution and eggs to the dry ingredients. Stir together with the stand mixer. Once it is combined, increase the speed to medium-high speed and beat until long stretchy strands of dough form, about 5-7 minutes. 

4- Grease a medium baking dish (no smaller than 9" x 13") with deep sides. Grease a large spoon and use it to spoon out dough into the baking dish.  Scatter the dough balls and leave at least 2" between each one. Oil your hands and smooth the top of the dough balls, if desired.

5- Warm the dough for 10 minutes in the oven. Remove from the oven, increase the temperature to 400 F, and allow the dough to rise on the counter 15-20 minutes. Brush generously with the egg wash. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until browned with and internal temperature of 200 F- 205 F. Remove from oven.

6- Allow to cool slightly and remove from baking dish. If any of the egg wash ran off the top of the rolls and baked, cut this off and discard. Brush the rolls with the butter wash immediately before serving. Serve warm. 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Ice cream is probably my favorite thing to make right now. The texture is fascinating to manipulate, the flavor options are endless, and even when it doesn't work the way I want it is super yummy. Kind of the perfect thing to experiment with. And then eat. 

To develop the texture, I did lots of reading into ice cream structure...and determined that, basically, it is    basically thick, frozen whipped cream. I tested New York ice cream recipes (a.k.a American or Philadelphia ice cream- all egg-less)  and I liked the lightness, and custard (egg-based) recipes and liked the way they didn't get the icy bite the New York ice cream did. So I compromised- a few less egg-yolks than most recipes, I got a lighter, but rich, and ice-less texture. Then I went after taste- a vanilla beans for the flavor,  without the harsh note from the extract, but with a bit of vanilla extract to boost the flavor. But the secret: dark brown sugar to underscore the vanilla. Because I don't think flavor can ever be intense enough. And especially not for ice cream. 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream- makes 3 cups base, 1 1/2 quarts churned

1/2 c sugar
2 tbs dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean
2 c whipping cream
1 c half-and-half
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

1- In a medium saucepan, combine sugars, salt, vanilla bean, and the creams. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. 

2- Once the cream is boiling, temper the yolks. To do so, first, pour about 1/2 cup into the egg yolks and whisk until combine. Repeat this two more times. Then, pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan (there should be none- or very few- egg solids). 

3- Bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring constantly. Allow for the base to thicken a bit, or become foamy (whichever comes first). Whisk in vanilla extract. Remove from heat promptly. 

4- Strain the base through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or quart-sized wet ingredient measuring cup. 

5- Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 more hours, or until chilled. 

6- Churn according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions. When completed, transfer to the container you wish to serve the ice cream from. Cover the surface tightly with plastic wrap (reduces ice crystallization), and allow to solidify in the freezer four 2-3 hours. Serve cold, with toppings or with other desserts. 

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I'm on a bit of a cookie roll. I also love puns, but that's a separate story from the cookies, which I thought up when my mom requested chocolate chip cookies, with a lot of chocolate chips. Deal.

I needed a very stiff dough in order to hold so much chocolate without the whole cookie melting. So, I went a-looking for recipe ideas, when it occurred to me- bread! When I make bread, I beat the batter/dough until long stretchy strands start to form. Though GF flours do not have the strong gluten protein, they do have smaller, shorter, less elastic ones... short proteins that can be made to line up and thus form stronger, more elastic structures... structures that can hold up lots of chocolate. Beat for longer and hold more chocolate? Done. 

Chocolate Chunk Cookies- makes 2 dozen cookies

1 c dark brown sugar
1/2 c butter
1 egg
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 c sorghum flour
1/2 c tapioca flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1 tsp xanthum gum
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

1- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

2- In a large stand mixer bowl, cream together butter, and sugar for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture has fluffed up and has a color of roasted peanut butter. Stir in the egg and vanilla on medium speed.

3- In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, stir into the creamed ingredients. Beat batter until it looks stretchy, about 7 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips

4- Roll into 1.5-2" balls and space out evenly on the cookie sheet, leaving an additional 2" or so between (the cookies will not spread very much). Bake 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven when the cookies are no longer shiny and the edges are golden. Allow to stand on the sheet for 5 minutes, transfer to wire cooling rack. Serve warm. 

Chocolate Crinkles

I solved the recipe puzzle! I won 10 points and a batch of cookies! Except, those ten points are ones I awarded myself and the batch of crinkles are the cookies I made as I figured out the recipe. Anyway.

I took these in an entirely different direction than the first batch. As in a "very dry dough instead of melty almost-batter" sort of different direction. The idea was to keep the chocolate from melting while the cookies baked and as a result, absorbing all the powdered sugar.  In order to make this work, I reduced the chocolate, added cocoa, made my flours more absorbent, and added an egg (these cookies have to stay together somehow!). Finally, to prevent the cookies spreading, I chilled the dough before rolling/pressing in the powdered sugar. Which means that this time, they're actually like little snowballs.

Chocolate Crinkles-makes 2 dozen

4 oz baking chocolate (as dark as you like), melted
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c whole milk
1 c sorghum flour
1/2 c tapioca flour
1/2 corn starch
1 tsp xanthum gum
2 ts; baking powder
2 tsp salt
1/3 c cocoa

approx 1 c powdered sugar for rolling

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

2- 'Cream' together melted chocolate and sugar until slightly fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla. Stir in milk.

3- In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients, except for the powdered sugar. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

4- Roll the dough into 1 1/2" balls. Lay the dough balls on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until solid, about 20 minutes.

5- Measure out powdered sugar into a small bowl that is just large enough for rolling the dough balls into the sugar. Working quickly, roll the dough balls into the sugar one at a time, making sure that they are generously and completely covered with sugar. Place on the parchment-lined baking sheets (not much space between cookies is needed- these do not spread very much).

6- Bake 15-18 minutes, or until the chocolatey cracks in the dough are no longer shiny looking, and the edges of the cookies are hard to the touch. Remove from oven, allow to set for 5 minutes, transfer to cooling rack. Serve warm.

Inventing Recipes

I don't have a recipe to share today (it's still in the works), which's time for a meta-recipe post!

Background: sometimes I can find a recipe I like, sometimes I can't, and yet more frequently, the one I want to use is not gluten-free. There are various adaptions to do- cornstarch for all-purpose flour in sauces, brown rice + tapioca flours + tsp xanthum gum for a cup or so, but in general, I make stuff up. It's fun, and more importantly, the trial and error is fun. Like these chocolate crinkles I'm working on:

Kind of the post-apocalyptic, melted-polar-icecaps of chocolate crinkles, no? When I started, the idea for the crinkles came from needing to burn through a whole bunch of chocolate. Taking a cue from my chocolate chip cookies, I used a whopping 16 oz chocolate, no oil/butter (the fat's in the chocolate), agave, almond + sorghum flour, and the usual xanthum gum, salt, vanilla, and leavener (baking power in this case).  But baking when baking the cookies up, the powdered sugar absorbed into the dough. Ah well. Doesn't mean the cookies aren't yummy, but it does mean that, like all GF bakers, I have a distinct "work-in-progress" on my hands. Which means, more chocolate cookies and a recipe to share soon. 

Salmon Salad

Two things I have noticed- 1, it is hot outside; 2- I like my food cold when it is hot outside; 2.5- bonus points for seasonal ingredients. So, with the help of my hungry friends/the fam, we thought up this here dinner:

I was wandering around on the Foodily's a few weeks ago, looking for ideas for stuff to make (what...there's work to do?? nah) and came across various ideas for grilled/baked/poached salmon with blackberries a.k.a- Happy Summer! But I remembered this discovery the other day, only after I had already grilled my salmon. Which meant, grilled salmon salad with berries for all! 

Grilled Salmon Summer Salad- serves 6
*Note: I like my salads dry, so I did not use or mix up a dressing. However, a light vinaigrette, will accent the salad better than a heavier cream dressing. I would recommend a simple oil + vinegar combination, a light berry vinaigrette, or a mild balsamic. 

approx 1.5 lbs of salmon, grilled and chilled
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup black berries
3/4 cup blue berries
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, sliced into cubes
2 cups cherry tomatoes
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1 bunch romaine lettuce

1- Mix salmon and mustard to make the salmon salad. Add salt and pepper, if desired. Chill.

2- Wash and thoroughly dry the produce. In a large salad bowl, combine lettuce, berries, cheese, and tomatoes. Try to add the berries and tomatoes at the end, to keep them on the top of the salad. Top with salmon salad and serve immediately.