Tag Archives: gluten-free

Taking Back Food, One Brownie at a Time

Last week King Arthur Flour deposited a big box of their gluten-free mixes on my doorstep via UPS so that I can review them for you.

I made the brownies this morning, all fancy-pantsed up with the very best peanut-butter frosting ever. They were delicious. They made my Nick make this face:

I’ll  talk more about them and give you the recipe for the frosting in a minute.

But first I want to spend a few minutes talking about why I post recipes here.

It started out as a way to bring people to my blog. There are a lot of other blogs out there that let you link to a recipe. And it worked. People started coming over and reading not just my recipe, but other parts of my blog as well. And I’m a writer. I really like readers. We have a sort of symbiotic relationship, right?

Also, I figured out I’m gluten intolerant just about the same time I started this blog. I get excited about making a recipe gluten-free and having it still taste great. I also don’t mind the boxes of gluten-free goodies I get to review. It’s fun. I like fun.

But, as I’ve learned more and gotten deeper into body acceptance and learning about Health at Every Size, I think my recipes and talking about food serve a different purpose.

Take the brownies I made today, for example. I made no attempt to healthify them. They are brownies, for God’s sake. Between the actual brownie and the frosting, there’s a cup and a third of butter in there. But you know how when you get some low-fat, reduced-carb, healthier version of something like a brownie and you eat it, and then eat more of it, and then more and you still aren’t satisfied? Yeah, that doesn’t happen when you make brownies with real cocoa, lots of butter, whole eggs and top it with creamy peanut butter goodness. A little square and you’re good to go.

Because when you’re body is craving a brownie, it’s really craving sugar and fat and chocolate. And maybe peanut butter.

Replacing the butter with applesauce won’t feed that craving.

I know, I’ve tried. A lot. I was once the queen of replacing high-fat with low-fat. Or best yet, no-fat. I have made brownies without eggs or butter. Really, I have. Applesauce and soy flour. Yum.

So, when I put up a recipe here, I sometimes think to myself: this is me, taking back food. This is me, recovering from the obsessive need to do Susan Powter’s fat formula on every bite that goes into my mouth. This is me, remembering that brownies taste really good.

I think that in order for HAES to take root in the world and really grow–I mean blossom, even amongst the unconverted–it’s important to share our joy of food.

When I share a recipe here, or talk about food, it’s my small rebellion against a society that encourages us to feel good about ourselves if we bake a cake for the people we love, but don’t eat any of it. Think about how many levels of wrong that is. But when you’re caught in the love/hate/food triangle, it seems perfectly sane.

Okay. Back to King Arthur Flour gluten-free brownie mix.

It mixed up smooth and thick with two eggs and a little water. It baked up kind of weird–collapsing in the center of the pan and crawling up the sides.

It’s hard to tell in the picture, but it was bowl-shaped when I took it out of the oven.

My house smelled like one of those really good bakeries that make you weak in the knees when you walk in the door.

The edges had to come off to give me an even surface for frosting. I’m happy to report that they were chocolatey and very chewy. A very nice brownie taste and texture.

I took the brownies out of the pan, because I was afraid that they wouldn’t come out individually with frosting on them. This didn’t work so well. However, the brownies were moist enough that I could just kind of press it back into a round brownie shape.

Brownies aren’t a fancy cake, are they? They’re allowed to be rougher around the edges.

The peanut butter frosting was spectacular. And super easy. Just put 1/3 cup of soft butter, 1/3 cup of smooth peanut butter, and 2 teaspoons of water in a bowl and blend. Then add a cup of powdered sugar and blend until smooth and fluffy. Spread over your cooled brownies.

The verdict on the brownie mix? I will definitely buy and make these again. Gluten-free mixes sometimes scare me. The product they make up might look like a brownie or a cookie or a loaf of bread, but is an impostor. These brownies are the real deal, though. As far as boxed brownies go, they’re really nice. Despite the strange baking habit, they were chewy and rich, just like a brownie should be. The flour mix is rice and tapioca, which means no weird beany aftertaste.

One of the great things about gluten free packaged foods is that they are often full of more whole foods and less chemicals. The ingredients in these brownies include: sugar, tapioca flour, rice flour, cocoa, leavening, vanilla flavor and salt. Which basically means that these don’t taste too far off from what you might make from scratch.

I especially like about all of the King Arthur gluten-free mixes that they are very basic. They’re meant to be played with. This is a simple, plain brownie, ready to be gussied up anyway your heart desires.

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Review and Give Away: Crunchmaster Gluten-Free Crackers

Warning: This review is going to read like someone paid me to write it. Because I’m reviewing a product that was already one of my favorites before I was sent some to review for you. Since I’m in love, I contacted the company to see if I could get some of their product to share the love with you. This is the result:

keep reading

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Tomato Poached Eggs

I love eggs. I especially love, on school days when I have the mornings to myself, to eat a kind of late-ish brunchy breakfast with eggs that I don’t have to make five servings of. It feels totally indulgent and lovely.

My very favorite way to eat eggs is poached in spicy tomato sauce. This dish is very adaptable. Since it’s early when I make it in the morning and I’m not usually feeling up to experimentation, I use canned Mexican tomato sauce. However, you could also use plain tomato sauce and add Middle Eastern spices to make this into shakshuka. Basil turns it into an Italian breakfast.

In other words, I’m giving you the quick and easy recipe here. You could get much fancier if you wanted.

1 small can Mexican tomato sauce

3 eggs

salt, pepper and dried parsley

feta cheese

Pour the tomato sauce into a small frying pan or a sauce pan. You don’t want to use too big of a pan or the sauce will be too shallow. Turn the heat onto medium-high and bring the sauce to a simmer.

Crack your eggs, one at a time into a small dish, then slip them into the sauce.

Season each egg with salt and pepper. I also like to use dried parsley.

Spoon some of the sauce over the top of the eggs.

Let the eggs simmer at a medium heat until the whites have set. Here’s where I do things maybe a little different than you might. I don’t like runny yolks. The only exception would be if I was serving these over rice (which is amazingly delicious), in which case slightly runny is okay.  But since I usually eat them with corn tortillas, I just don’t like the yolks runny. So I flip them and let them cook on both sides and cook until the yolk is just barely set as well.

The eggs thicken the sauce. I always use a one can of sauce to three egg ration. In the beginning it might seem like you can put more eggs in if you want, but the sauce really gets thick (and so yummy) and won’t work with more than three eggs.

Put your eggs on a plate once they’re cooked through and top with feta cheese.

If you’re not gluten free, these are really good over a good toasted sourdough bread. They are also, as I said, delicious over rice. When you serve it either of these ways, just spoon the thick sauce over the bread or rice as well. For those who are gluten-free like me, corn tortillas go really well with them. I usually put the eggs in the tortillas taco style.

I’ve also eaten these with some sauteed spinach on top, which was really good.

When I’m eating them for breakfast, I almost always include an orange which is a great counterbalance to the spiciness.

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GF Chiles Rellenos

(I’m having a Saint Patty’s Give Away here. Don’t miss it!)

The grocery store had some beautiful California Anaheim chiles, so I decided to tackled de-glutenizing chiles rellenos.

This wasn’t exactly a difficult job, because the crispy part of a chile relleno is not breading, its eggs. But you know–it still needed some tweaking.

These take a little time and get a bunch of dishes dirty, but are so so very worth it. Yum. We ate them with orange pork chops, which is another recipe for another day.

Chiles Rellenos

6 Anaheim peppers

6 ounces of cheese

4 eggs

1/2 cup GF flour or baking mix

1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn

salt and pepper

1 can enchilada sauce

Turn your oven to broil. Set your peppers on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler. Let them cook until the top is charred. Turn and let the other side char. Your goal is to have all sides charred and the pepper soft.

(I chose Anaheim peppers because they looked really good and because I cook for some whimpy child palates that can’t take too much heat. Poblanos are a little more robust and are also very very good in this recipe. If you have some people who really can’t handle any heat, you could even use sweet peppers, although I’d use half per serving.)

Once the peppers are charred, let them cool until you can handle them, then remove the skin. The skin will slip right off. (The middle pepper on the plate above has been skinned.) After they are skinned, use a butter knife and make a length-wise slit from the stem to the tip, though one side only. Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds.

Stuff an ounce of cheese inside each pepper. I used string cheese because it was easy. I would have rather used pepper jack.

Prepare the roasted corn by pouring it into a hot, dry skillet. Just let it cook until it’s defrosted and then dries out and browns. You’ll actually hear it pop. When it’s done, spoon some into each pepper with the cheese, then wrap the sides of the pepper closed around it all.

Put some GF flour or baking mix (I used the last of my GF Bisquick, which worked out fine) on a plate. The flour is to give the eggs something to stick to, because the peppers are slippery.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a medium bowl and the yolks into a small bowl. Beat the whites until they form stiff peaks and the yolks until they are thick. Fold the yolks into the whites. This will give you a bowl of pale yellow fluff.

Heat the pan you cooked the corn back to medium-high with a little olive oil.

Roll one stuffed pepper at a time in the flour by setting it on the plate, cut up, and just rocking it back and forth. You don’t have to turn it all the way upside down.

Then dunk it in the eggs. You’re looking for a thick layer here.

Set the pepper in the hot oil and let cook until golden, then carefully flip (the cut will be down now) and let get it golden on that side, too. While that’s happening, prepare the next pepper. You have to be quick with the eggs, because they will start to fall and separate if you don’t.

Set all the peppers in a 9X 13 pan as they get done.

Pour a large can of enchilada sauce over them. I used green, because it’s more mild and I wasn’t going for heat. Red works well, too. So would a few cans of that Mexican tomato sauce. Yum yum.

Top with a little shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 for about half an hour. I turn the broiler on for a few because I like the cheese browned.

And there you have it, lovelies. Indulge!

(Every Friday I update my Defiant Athlete experiment. Subscribe to my feed here, if you like.)

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Seasonal Cooking: Maple Walnut Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts have a bad rap.

Every time I buy them, someone asks me how I cook them. When I tell them, their expression goes from something you might expect from someone talking about being dosed with Castor Oil to a look of interest.

Everytime I make them for someone who doesn’t live with me, I have to convince them to take a taste. They usually do with their nose scrunched and their eyes closed.

And then their eyes pop open and they make this little moan in the back of their throat as they chew. That’s the best!

These mini little cabbages are fall and winter crops. In the winter especially, they are sweet and have an amazing flavor. Like cabbages, Brussels sprouts get sweeter after being kissed by frost.

I just realized today that eating in season means I won’t be able to eat Brussels sprouts in the late spring and early summer.

That was even more upsetting than realizing I can’t eat a fresh tomato until summer.

In my house, there is only one way to cook Brussels sprouts. And when I make them, my husband and kids fight over who gets the last sweet little morsel. We ate them tonight with slow cooker baby back ribs (holy cow…this recipe is coming. It was AMAZING. Good Grubbing…that’s what we called food like this when I was growing up) and broiled potatoes.

Yum.

Maple Walnut Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 1/2 pounds of Brussels Sprouts (the smaller the better)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 4 T maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to  taste

Brussels sprouts take a little work. Each little baby cabbage head needs to have the stem end trimmed before it’s cut in half vertically. The top couple of leaves will come off on their own, which is fine. Discard those. Just keep trimming and cutting, filling up a bowl as you do.

While all that prep is going on, start the oil heating up over medium high heat in a big pan. You want the pan nice and hot when you put the sprouts in.

Stand back when you put the sprouts in the hot oil. They’ll pop some, and sizzle. Add the garlic too, and toss to coat the sprouts.

Let the sprouts cook for a while. You want the heat high so that they’ll carmelize farily quickly. It’s overcooking that releases the sulfery stuff in cabbage and sprouts. After about 10 minutes, they should be a nice deep brown.

(In this picture, they’ve been cooking about five minutes.)

Add the walnuts and toss around. Cook another two or three minutes, then finish with the maple syrup. I reccomend using the good stuff if you can afford it, but I’ve made it with cheap store-brand maple-flavored syrup and it’s still scrumptious. Real maple syrup just does something special here.

Toss again and turn the heat off. I usually let things sit for about 10 minutes before serving. This lets the syrup meld with the rest of the flavors, and allows the hot sugar to cool. I personally like Brussels sprouts just warm, not too hot.

Hold your nose and take a bite. You won’t be sorry!

More recipes here. And here.

And here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here.

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Review: Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annailse G. Roberts

I’ve had Gluten-Free Baking Classicsfor a couple of weeks. Already, when I give it a shake, bits of flour shift out from between the pages.

Already, it looks like a well-loved favorite cookbook.

You know what I mean. It looks like it lives on my kitchen counter, not on my bookshelf.

That’s because it does.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve made pizza, two kinds of muffins, and a loaf of bread. I feel like, after those experiments, that I can tell you that the recipes in this book are good. They aren’t fancy gourmet, or complicated artisan recipes. They’re Sunday morning muffins, pizza after a long day,  and PB&J sandwich for lunch recipes.

And that’s what I needed. That, I think, is what anyone who is struggling to learn how to be gluten intolerant without giving up eating their favorite foods needs. The fancy-pants foodie stuff can come later. And really, these recipes can be that in the end. Coconut cake with lemon curd filling? Pretty fancy. There’s a recipe for artisan bread, and bread with raisins and pecans.

But there is also a recipe for hamburger and hotdog buns, and one for English muffins. The stuff you never really thought about until you couldn’t eat them anymore, and suddenly realized that a bun-free hotdog is just depressing when it’s unintentional.

The meat of this book is three flour mixes. One a brown rice flour mix that’s for making things like cookies and muffins. One is a sorghum/millet mix that is finer and softer, for making bread. Once you’ve made up a supply of these mixes, making muffins/quick bread/sandwich bread/ etc. is as easy as measuring, mixing, a single rise for yeast-y things, and baking.

Perhaps the best part of this book is that it’s written in such a friendly tone, it’s like having Annalise Roberts  in the kitchen with you encouraging you. That she’s a kind woman who cares about gluten-free baking and has put a lot of time and effort into developing these recipes for us rings out loud and clear.

This book doesn’t particularly encourage experimentation. It says loud-and-clear that the recipes were designed to be used as written. But it is clear to me that if I can master these, I’ll be closer to the place I am in gluten-full baking: the place where I am confident enough to make up my own recipes.

I think maybe the biggest thumbs up this book has gotten in my home is that when I’ve baked something out of it, my whole family has wanted to eat it. Other gluten-free stuff (bread from a mix with bean flour (gag), corn bread from a bag, etc.) has been mine, while the ‘real’ stuff was theirs. But the blueberry muffins, cranberry muffins, pizza, and bread I’ve made using Annalise’s recipes, have been fair game.

One reason I started eating gluten again before the holidays (ok, ok…one excuse I had for starting to eat gluten again before the holidays) was a sort of confused anxiety about how I was going to keep family holiday traditions without using wheat flour. With this book living on my counter, filled with bits of flour and smudgy fingerprints, I know that I’ll be able to survive the holidays in 2010 without making myself ill in the name of tradition.

Gluten-Free Baking Classics has chapters for:

  • muffins, sweet breads, scones, and sweet rolls
  • cakes
  • pies and tarts
  • cookies
  • other sweet treats
  • breads, bread crumbs, pizza, and more
  • and other savories.

I’d highly reccomend this book for anyone who is in that panic-y what-am-I-going-to-do stage of early diagnosis. Gluten-free baking is at least as easy as regular baking, and in the instance of yeast doughs, considerably easier since no kneading or long rising times are needed.

Annalise points out in the front of the book that baked goods shouldn’t be the center of any diet, gluten-free or not. It’s easy, when faced with giving up wheat, to focus on it to the point that suddenly everything to eat seems baked. It’s not. That’s the gift of this book. Annalise reassures the reader that there is a whole world filled with naturally gluten-free foods.

But if you want a dinner roll with that, she’ll show you how to make a really fine on

The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review for you. My review was not colored by this.

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I Couldn’t Wait! (And GF Pizza Recipe)

When I woke up this morning, my very first thought was: I’m having a BLT for lunch.

Today I baked bread.

I’ll never forget my first bite of Gluten-free bread. I’d just learned that Nick had Asperger’s, and had read that a GFCF diet could help. So I bought a $6 loaf of rice bread, brought it home, and made him and I peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The bread looked enough like bread that we both lifted the sandwiches and took big bites without trepidation.

Ew.

It was like PB&J between two pices of cardboard soaked in vinegar.

Gag.

I’ve tried some mixes this past year. They all looked like bread, but had a weird bean aftertaste, or that vinegar thing going on. (What is that anyway?) So this time, I’d pretty much resigned myself to not eating bread again. Corn tortillas are my new best friend.

But then I recieved a copy of Annalise Roberts’ book Gluten-free Baking Classics. I ordered my flours. A couple of inpatient attempts with what I had on hand while I waited for my xanthan gum and sorghum flour to arrive resulted in some surprisingly yummy muffins and pizza.

But this. This…oh this was bread. Whole grain, hot from the oven, soft and slightly sweet. I didn’t have to toast it to within an inch of it’s life to make it edible. It wasn’t perfect (the fault of the novice baker, not the recipe), but it was so good that hours later I’m still floating on a cloud.

The recipe for basic sandwich bread called for a mix of sorghum and millet flours, with some starches, xanthan gum, plain gelatin, eggs, milk, yeast, salt, and sugar. I pulled out my $5 thrift-store Cuisine Art to mix up the dough. I had the feeling that the 3 minutes on high whipped air into the dough to help it from being heavy and dense, so I didn’t do what I did with the pizza and mix it with a wooden spoon. 

The result was a silky smooth soft dough, much too soft to knead or handle, that had the most wonderful texture. Like chiffon or mousse. The next step was to let it rise. The directions said not to let rush this. I think this was where I made my mistake. I let it rise 20 minutes in the oven turned off. I didn’t think it was coming up enough–it’s cold up here in the mountains and the book said 80 degrees was ideal. So I turned my oven to warm. The dough came up in 10 mintues almost to the rim of the pan.

Isn’t that pretty?

Next it baked for 10 minutes, then I put foil over and baked another 40. The result was a loaf that definitely rose. It was a golden brown beautiful loaf of bread. Whisper light and just as perfect as it could be.

You can see though, that it had already started to fall in the middle.

Then it fell a little more.

But honestly, when I cut into it, I couldn’t have cared less.

Soft, crusty, light…and get this: I just buttered that piece and ate it. Hot from the oven, real butter melting into it’s cranies. And it tasted like bread. Good homemade bread.

I half expected the fallen middle to be a big hollow air pocket. But it wasn’t. I’m not sure what happened, or why bread falls. I’ll have to look into it. But it was just kinda squishy and hard to slice right for sandwiches. It flattened too much. I’m pretty sure that cutting the bread 3 minutes after it came out of the oven had a lot to do with that. 

I am not known for my patience.

Especially when my kitchen now smells like hot, fresh bread and bacon.

I toasted up four slices of the bread, expecting to make two sandwiches. One for me, and one for Ruby. Unfortunately, because the bread had fallen, I couldn’t get thin enough slices. So I ended up making open faced sandwiches.

And I got creative: we each had two buttered toasts, one with Swiss cheese and tomato, one with bacon and avocado.

(Yes, yes…I do realize that tomato and avocado are out of season. I’m working on being better.)

Can you see why I’m still smiling?

In other news, I heard back from Annalise Roberts (Squeee! I do believe I’m becoming a fan girl!) and she said I could share her pizza recipe with you guys! Yay Annalise!

Pizza Crust (1 12″ or 2 thin crusted 9″ pizzas)

  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour Mix
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1 t xanthan gum
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t granulated sugar
  • 1 packet (1/4 oz) dry quick-rise yeast granules
  • 1 t olive oil
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 T water, heated to 110 degrees
  • cornmeal (optional)

First you have to choose a pan. Annalise suggests the bottom of two 9″ spring form pans, or a textured 12″ pizza pan. Generously spray it with cooking spray, and if you like sprinkle with corn meal. (I did, and yuuuum…)

Mix the dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. Pour the olive oil and water into the bowl and mix until blended. Scrape the bowl sides and the beaters, then beat on high for two minutes.

Spoon into the middle of pan(s) and use a damp spatula to carefully spread the dough to the edges of the pan. Cover lightly and set aside to rise for 30-40 minutes. You want it to be about double in height.

Put a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees while the dough is rising.

Bake the pizza for 15-16 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Take out of the oven and top as desired, but make sure not to use topping that is too wet. (I used tomato sauce, and it worked out fine.)

Return to the oven for 10 more minutes (8 for a 9″ crust), then remove the pizza from the pan and set it directly on the rack to finish for a crispy crust. Leave it in the pan for a softer crust.

Enjoy pizza with no belly ache!

I’ll post a full review of the book tomorrow.

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