Accepting the challenges in creating a gluten free household

OK. I know. Bestest isn’t a word. But I wanted your attention! And I got it, didn’t I?

If you don’t live in or near Winnipeg, Manitoba, I’m sorry. This post is not for you. But if you live near here, I have the greatest news ever. I had the best bread I’ve had since going gluten free this week. We took sandwiches to work. We NEVER do that normally! We finished the loaf. We never do that either.

We had hot dogs tonight, and I would like you to know that you haven’t had hot dog buns as good as these gluten free ones I bought last Friday.

I know you want to know where to find this awesome baking. I went to Meyers Drug Store where CocoaBeans Bakery delivers every Friday. Cocoabeans has a website: http://www.cocoabeansbakeshop.com/index2.php#/home/

Maybe one day she’ll have her own storefront and/or cafe. If she does, I’ll be happy to send customers her way. I’ll warn you. Her bread and buns are not cheap. But no gluten free baking is cheap. And if you’re like me, some of what you’ve paid for in the past has ended up in the trash – because a lot of GF baking belongs in the trash. So splurge. Buy a great-tasting gf bread with quality ingredients. But let me get there first on Friday… I need my loaf, too.

Disclaimer: I do not know the baker at Cocoabeans, though I hope to meet her one day. She is not paying me to say any of this!!

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Sometimes it works to substitute flours found in regular recipes.  Sometimes it’s just better to go flourless.  My daughter loves to make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for her dad when making a meal for us.  They’re yummy!  I think the ingredients are peanut butter, eggs, chocolate chips and sugar.  Another short list… you know I like short lists!!

But this week I craved chocolate (I say that as if it is something new… it is not!)  This recipe called to me.  It did NOT disappoint.

Short list of ingredients (6)… Crispy-chewy, soooooo good!!  You put them away in an airtight container to get them out of sight!!  The only thing I will do different next time is use a smaller scoop to make smaller cookies (and bake a shorter period of time.)  Watch them carefully – 14 minutes may be too long even for the larger cookies.  They spread very thin, and the larger cookies were more difficult to peel off the parchment without breaking.  Of course that meant more cookies for me to eat…

Here is the link to this recipe: http://www.recipegirl.com/2007/11/24/chewy-gooey-flourless-chocolate-cookies/

It is Easter weekend.  We were invited to bring Paska (Ukranian Easter Bread) or Hot Cross Buns for a coffee time after church tomorrow.  I tried a GF Paska recipe last week, and though it smelled delicious (even tasted good according to my hubby) – it looked awful.  It fell as it cooled, so the inside was rather gooey-looking.

I also had a Hot Cross Buns recipe to try, so this morning I made them, and put them confidently into the oven.  So far, so good.  But I didn’t watch them carefully enough and they got too brown.  Which made them very thick-crusted.  The insides looked wonderful.  That was enough encouragement to try again.  I knew exactly what I’d done wrong.  I tried again.  Success!!  Here’s the Hot Cross Bun recipe I used, the way I made them.  The recipe is based on one by Rebecca Reilly, author of  Gluten Free Baking.  I love the flour blend.  The original recipe is here: http://www.livingwithout.com/recipes/gluten_free_hot_cross_buns-2000-1.html

1 cup bean flour
2/3 cup tapioca starch
2/3 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup arrowroot starch
⅓ cup sugar
2 tablespoons rapid-rise yeast
½ cup skim milk powder
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup warm water
¼ cup light olive oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup raisins
Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl.  Add grated lemon zest.

In a smaller bowl, mix water, oil, eggs and vinegar, add to dry ingredients and beat for 5 minutes.  Mix in raisins.

Using an ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop out dough and place on cookie sheet with a bit of space between each bun.  Brush the buns with melted butter and cut an X into the top of each bun. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 20 to 30 minutes.

Place buns in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. When the buns are cool, drizzle icing over the scored X.   Makes 15 buns.

Icing:
1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Whisk powdered sugar, milk and vanilla together until smooth. Add more milk if icing is too thick.

I am so going to try this…  Check it out.

April 7, 2012: Must update.  I did make this, and it is supposed to make 4 breakfasts.  Really.

I knew my portion would be enough for two breakfasts, but was interested to hear my husband say the same thing.  I thought it wouldn’t be sweet enough for him.  Seems after 34 or so years together, I still have things to learn about him… By the way… my sugar-loving husband liked this breakfast as much as I did.  I’ll do it again.

http://www.preventionrd.com/2012/03/cinnamon-apple-quinoa-parfait/

Salmon Chowder


I am a soup person. I just realized I have focused on baked goods here, and haven’t added many main dishes or soup recipes. I’ll begin to rectify that right now with one of our favorites: Salmon Chowder.

Salmon Chowder

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Salmon-Chowder/Detail.aspx

I seldom follow a recipe as closely as I followed this one. Especially soup. I used the leftover salmon from our dinner the other day – I wanted to grill the salmon in the freezer before it got old enough to taste fishy. It was still good, but ‘the salmon’ I pulled out of the freezer turned out to be two salmon frozen together. I find leftover salmon difficult to use, but thought I’d make chowder this time. This was an awesome recipe, and I will make it again soon, I’m sure. (I actually wrote this blog post last year, but neglected to post it. We have had this chowder many, many times since writing this, and do not get tired of it.)

3 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic
2 cups diced potatoes
2 carrots, sliced
2 cups gluten free chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dill
2 cans gluten free salmon*
1 can evaporated milk
1 can creamed corn
½ lb cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large saucepan, heat the butter, and add the chopped onion, celery and garlic. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes, carrots, chicken broth and seasonings. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes. Add the salmon, evaporated milk and creamed corn and continue to cook until heated through. Add the cheese, stir to melt, and serve.

*It was a surprise to me that salmon & tuna might NOT be gluten free. Avoid fish canned in broth.

Flourless Hazelnut Cake

Birthdays are always a challenge.  While my hubby & I don’t mind our gf lifestyle, I always feel I need to make extra-good desserts when I’m cooking or baking for others.   Last year I posted the link for one of our all-time favorite gf desserts – TheBakingBeauties Lemon Layer Cake.  So this year I chose to make one that a friend made recently.

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When I saw the cake at our friend’s place, I was sure she must have forgotten that my hubby was Celiac.  But no, this Hazelnut Cake is not only gluten free, it is grain free as well!

She photocopied the recipe for me, originally called Hungarian Flourless Hazelnut Cake, but I can only guess at the origin.  It looks almost exactly like the one at allrecipes.com, so I’ll post that link: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/hungarian-flourless-hazelnut-cake/

So on Thursday night I pulled it out – determined to tackle it.  I had perused it enough the first time, to know that I needed to buy a bag of hazelnuts.  I could not believe how easy this recipe was to make.  Few ingredients, and simple.  I like simple.

Here it is.

12 ounces hazelnuts – or 2 heaping cups before grinding
2 tsp baking powder
6 eggs, separated
5/8 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Whipped cream
Hazelnuts for garnish

Preheat oven to 325.  Grease 2 9” cake pans, or line with parchment paper.

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Grind nuts very fine (I used my food processor); add baking powder.

Beat egg whites until stiff; adding the vanilla halfway through the process. Fold in half of the nut mixture

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In another bowl, beat egg yolks with the sugar until pale yellow.  Fold in the other half of the nut mixture.  Gently mix all together.

Pour into pans and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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Cool and put whipped cream between layers, and on top and sides of cake.  Garnish as you wish.

*Instead of whipped cream between layers, I used coconut milk, whipped, following this pin from pinterest: http://nuttykitchen.com/2010/06/01/coconut-whipped-cream/.  I didn’t add cinnamon, but probably could have.  It would also have fit well with the Hazelnut Cake.

We celebrated 3 March birthdays with this cake!

I received a challenge this week. A friend of mine talked about how much she loved steel-cut oats. I’ve heard that rave before, and even tried the overnight slow cooker steel cut oats myself once. It was mush, and I didn’t much like it. But I agreed to try again. So I pulled out the package from my pantry, and, on impulse, decided to also try millet, which is another ancient grain that is making a comeback. (Or maybe it seems like a comeback since I found out about it recently, after hunting for gluten-free alternatives.)

Steel Cut Oats (gluten free) and Millet

I cooked the millet according to the directions in the cookbook, “Naturally Homemade” by Judy Zemliak. She suggests a ratio of 1 cup millet to 2 cups water. Bring the water to a boil; add millet; cook for 15-20 minutes. Perhaps cooking it a bit longer would have been good, but it was the taste that I wasn’t particularly fond of. It reminded me of the feed we mixed for our calves when I was little, and perhaps we did feed them millet. It is a common grain for bird seed. Not wanting to throw it out, I threw it into the soup in the crockpot instead. Apparently if you cook it longer, it takes on the consistency of mashed potatoes, so hopefully they’ll enhance the soup, and not wreck it!!

Steel-cut oats. Since we’re a gluten-free household, my options are fewer than most.  What I thought was steel cut oats, was steel cut oat pearls.  The difference?  Apparently steel cut oats need to be cooked for 35 minutes, or soaked first.  No wonder mine got mushy in the slow cooker.  These take 10 minutes to cook.

I liked the consistency. The directions on the bag asked for a 1 to 4 ratio. Bring 4 cups of water and 1 cup of oats to a boil; lower heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Drain; rinse with hot water, and enjoy. I was surprised (especially after cooking them all night last time) that they were ready so quickly. And surprised that the ratio was set high enough that they needed draining and rinsing. I will have to do some research on why they would suggest preparing it that way. But they were good. I tried a bit with a blueberry honey I had on hand. Then I added maple flakes to the rest of it, along with hemp hearts and cranberries. That was very good. I don’t like my cereal too sweet, so the maple flakes added just the right amount of sweetness.

Yes, my friend, Shanon, I do like steel-cut oats. At least cooked this way.  Maybe if I find the authentic steel cut oats (not pearls) that are gluten free, I will attempt the slow cooker again as well.