Oct 072012
 

When we wanted a gluten-free graham cracker crust for our key lime meringue pie, we looked to Gluten-Free Girl because we wanted a recipe that included the making of graham crackers, rather than a trip to the store for ready-made, GF graham crackers. We followed that recipe pretty closely and came up with crackers that looked like this:

 

I am often imprecise with measurements, but note them as closely as I can. A few grams on either side should not make a difference. This is the recipe for graham crackers as I followed it, which has a few modifications from the one referenced above.

  • 70g garbanzo flour
  • 70g tapioca flour
  • 70g white rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ¼ teaspoon guar gum
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 100g melted butter
  • 85g honey
  • 3-6 tablespoons cold water

Method:

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients
  2. Cut the butter into the mixture until the texture is mealy. It’s easiest to do this in a food processor.
  3. Combine the honey and a few tablespoons of cold water and pour it into the batter while mixing.
  4. Keep mixing until the dough sticks together in a ball: add more water if necessary.
  5. Roll the dough into two balls. Wrap each dough ball and cool in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out (one ball at a time) on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. The flattened dough should be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Cut the dough to match the pattern you want for your graham crackers.
  8. Refrigerate the rolled out dough for 15 minutes.
  9. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
  10. Bake the graham crackers until they are golden and firm to the touch.
  11. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet. They should become quite crisp.

Verdict on the result: the kids liked them, but I’m going to work with the recipe. It’s probably me, or perhaps my mixture of flours, but I found them to be a bit dense. That said, we made them mainly so that we could make graham cracker crumbs, and for that they were great.

The graham cracker crust

  • 200g graham cracker crumbs
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Method:

  1. Blitz the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar, in a food processor until uniformly mixed. The crumbs should hold together when pressed.
  2. Pour into a pie dish and press up against the bottom and sides.
  3. We did not pre-bake this, but it can be browned at 375F/190C for 5-10 minutes if desired.

Once pressed into the dish, the crust looked like this:

The pie crust, before pouring in the key lime mixture.

 

The pie was lovely, and disappeared quickly. I’ll still work to improve this recipe, though. The crust was a bit dense, which may be because my own measurements of butter and sugar were off, or because the graham crackers I worked with were dense.

 

Oct 072012
 

We can thank STS-133 for our family’s appreciation of key lime pie. While we did see it launch in the end, our first journey to Florida included a trip to the Keys while we waited to hear whether the mission would go ahead. That first trip may end up being the first and last time we sample proper Key Lime Pie, but we’ll continue to experiment on our own versions that bring us back to Islamorada. The current recipe is not key lime pie, even if it was inspired by that dessert. First, key limes were out of season and therefore not available. Secondly, we decided to add a meringue using the leftover egg whites. That and Joseph was very much into the ‘science’ of meringues.

The finished product

 The recipe we followed was based on this:

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 14 oz. (1 can) condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup (key) lime juice

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C
  • Beat the yolks, then add in condensed milk and lime juice and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour the mixture into a graham cracker crust (we mostly followed the recipe from Gluten-Free Girl).
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then let cool.
  • Whip the egg whites (after adding some green food coloring to keep in theme) and 1/4 cup of icing/confectioners’ sugar until stiff, and forming peaks. Spread on top of the pie.
  • Bake until golden brown (10-15 minutes)

Right, so our crust was a bit large, and the consistency of the crust was such that it flopped over onto the pie filling. We rather liked the effect, one child claiming that it looked a bit like some weird planetoid. In any event, we covered all of this with the colored meringue.

Modifications: for a start, we try to use key limes! That said, the slightly milder taste meant that everyone in the family liked this one. One time we included rind and made an incredibly intense pie. I’d recommend that for anyone who wants pie tasting to be an experience.

Jul 152012
 

Gluten-free beef pasties. (This is one where you’ll have to use your own judgment regarding amounts: we just threw it together, but the addition of lamb stock made the filling especially rich. The point of this post? You can be gluten-free and still feed that craving for a pasty.)

Beef fresh from the village butcher

 

 

 

Filling (ingredients):

  • Fresh string beef from the local butcher
  • Gluten-free flour
  • Olive oil or animal fat
  • Red wine
  • Lamb stock (made with bones from yesterday’s lamb chops)
  • Peas and parboiled carrots and potatoes (we used small new potatoes)

We tossed the beef in gluten-free flour

Filling (method):

  • Dice the meet into small- and medium-sized cubes
  • Toss the beef in gluten-free flour
  • Brown the beef in oil/fat
  • Remove the beef from the pan and deglaze with red wine
  • Restore beef to the pan
  • Add lamb stock, carrots, peas, and potatoes
  • Cook until the mixture is nice and thick

Preparing the pasties:

  • Roll out pastry (look at other entries for gluten-free pastry)
  • Cut the dough into large ovals (roughly double the size you want your pasty to be)
  • Spoon a heap of filling onto one half of each cut-out portion of dough, being careful to leave room at the edges
  • Fold the remaining dough over the filling so that you can crimp the sides together to create a filled packet of pastry
  • Brush the pastry with milk if desired
  • Bake at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the pastry is golden

Nice, meaty filling

Note: gluten-free pastry does not hold together as well as regular pastry, so you will probably want to eat these on a plate with a knife and fork, for they are unlikely to stay together if you try to eat them with your hands.

 

The pasties might not look perfect, but they tasted delicious

Feb 182012
 

As if a Yorkshire pudding can be gluten-free: please send suggestions of a suitable name for a GF version of something akin to a Yorkshire pudding.

The pudding, still reasonably puffed up.

Ingredients:

  • 150 g gluten-free flour[1]
  • 50 g buckwheat flour
  • 50 g brown rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 4 eggs
  • 450 ml milk[2]
  • 1 tbsp animal fat (beef dripping, lard)

[1] I had exactly 150 g left of a large batch of GF flour I’d made with: equal parts rice flour and garbanzo flour, plus a bit of corn starch to equal 150 g; 1 tsp each of xanthan gum and baking powder

[2] The non-GF recipe called for 150 ml milk and this is quite an increase. However, since many GF flours are very fine and have a high surface-to-volume ratio, they absorb more liquid than wheat flours. In order to achieve the proper consistency in the batter before setting, I added quite a bit of extra milk. I would suggest adding the liquid bit by bit– putting the extra in by additional 50-100 ml measures.

Method:

  • Whisk together the dry ingredients
  • Make a well in the middle of the flour mix, add the eggs, and beat the eggs together first, then with the flour
  • Add the milk and mix until evenly blended and the batter is thin
  • Let the batter set for about half an hour
  • In this time, preheat the oven to 245 C or 475 F. [I started at 230/450 but went up to 260/500 after 15 minutes]
  • While the oven is heating up, put the animal fat in a cast iron skillet/frying pan
  • When the oven is heated and the fat is sizzling, pour in the batter
  • Place in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes (original flour recipe called for 15-20, mine was in for 30)

A slice: lighter in taste and texture than it looks

The batter should be quite runny before resting
Feb 182012
 

The first time I tried to make gluten-free dumplings, they worked out beautifully. Indeed, the existence of this blog is largely down to our desire to record those things that go well. For the record: I have not yet replicated those wonderful dumplings, but am working on it.

Cornmeal buckwheat dumplings.

Recipe 1: Cornmeal buckwheat soy dumplings

  • 1/3 cup (75 g) yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup (35 g) soy flour
  • 1/3 cup (55 g) buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup (60 g) grated suet
  • cold water (about 1/3 cup?)
  • Salt/pepper/seasoning to taste

Method

  • Whisk together the dry ingredients
  • Mix in the suet until evenly blended
  • Add cold water bit by bit until the dough just sticks together.
  • You should be able to shape the dough into small balls (see picture under recipe 2).
  • Drop the balls into a simmering pot of stew or soup
  • Heat for 10-15 minutes at least, or until ready to eat
  • The dumplings should float when ready

Verdict: Tasty. We like the earthiness added by the buckwheat, and the hearty texture from the cornmeal. However, I do not expect these to hold up. If you want something that will turn into a thickener, these are perfect. I still need to work on the balance a bit, but this batch went down well.

Recipe 2: Masa dumplings

  • 1 cup gluten free flour (my mixture: 75 g masa harina; 5 g tapioca flour; 30 g garfava flour)
  • 1 cup (50 g) grated suet
  • pinch salt
  • pepper to taste
  • Cold water

Method:

See above: the same method applies for these as for the cornmeal buckwheat dumplings.

Mix the dough until it just comes together

Then form bite-sized balls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verdict:

I actually made two versions of the masa dumplings: in one batch, I added a bit of xanthan gum and baking powder. Those fell apart immediately. The others had a nice texture and were quite light, but fell apart overnight. I suspect that masa is not the best flour to use but will need to do more tests to see if it is the culprit (a while back I had another batch of masa dumplings that fell apart). In other words, nice taste and texture, but only good for one meal. After that, they become thickener.

Some notes:

  1. The first thing is, note that when using weights there should be about double the weight of flour to fat (so, 100 g flour to 50 g fat). When using measuring cups, the amount of flour is about the same as fat (about 1 cup flour and 1 cup loosely shredded fat).
  2. From (1) it should be clear that the measurements for cups/weights do not always add up. This is because measuring cups are inherently less precise than scales. For instance, shredded suet has a lot of air in it, so don’t worry too much that I have noted a 10g difference in weight for the suet used in two recipes where I estimated it to be “about a cup”. If in doubt, use scales; in most cases, it is fine to give or take a few grams or milliliters.
  3. I do not normally use soy flour but had it to hand. For decent cornmeal dumplings, 1/3 cup cornmeal to 2/3 cup other gluten-free flour should work just fine. Fool around with different flours until you find a texture/taste that works for you.
  4. While I normally season the dumplings with black pepper, sometimes chili pepper, and with a dash of salt. I did not season the cornmeal buckwheat ones, and they tasted fine.
  5. I am not convinced that the xanthan gum is necessary in the second recipe; baking powder may not be, either. Experiment!
  6. If you cannot get suet, try freezing and then grating butter. One normally thinks of the suet as being shredded, but I buy a large frozen chunk from a local farm shop and grate it on demand.

 

Feb 122012
 

Shortly after going gluten-free, we tried Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free pizza crust. Having lived in New Haven for many years, we like pizza. Bob’s didn’t measure up, so that was it…until now. This might not be apizza, but as long as we’re gluten-free we may have to settle for a bit less.

Having found a hit with buckwheat pancakes, I decided to try a buckwheat pizza crust. The recipe I adopted was basically the one described here, but without the garlic powder.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups (275 g) buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup (60 g) tapioca flour
  • pinch salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ¼ cup (280 ml) warm water
  • ¼ cup (85 ml) olive oil*
  • ½ tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • cornmeal (optional)

* I used rosemary and peppercorn infused olive oil

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C)
  • Grease a baking tray and sprinkle with cornmeal (cornmeal is optional)
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine the water, oil, honey, and vinegar
  • Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix them until well blended
  • The batter should be fairly moist
  • Pour the batter onto the baking tray and spread it until even in thickness
  • Pre-bake the crust for 15-20 minutes or until it seems just cooked
  • Take it out and add toppings. I first spread olive oil over the crust, this time some I had left over from a tub of marinated mozzarella balls.
  • Once you’ve created your pizza, bake until the toppings look done, about 10-15 minutes.

The batter will be surprisingly runny.                                               I spread olive oil and cornmeal on the tray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is how the batter looked before it went into the oven:             and this is how it looked after:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was a little sneaky. My kids don’t normally eat carrots, so I grated one and spread it on top of the crust where I could hide it. I did the same with some diced fresh tomatoes:

The sauce I used was a combination of homemade red sauce and Trader Joe’s Organic Marinara with no salt added. Other toppings included fresh mozzarella, grated cheddar, and bacon. I added sliced jalapeños to my corner.

The verdict: two very happy boys. Neither noticed the carrots and their only complaint was that the toppings fell off too easily. In terms of the crust, it tasted good but was not like a traditional crust because the texture was somehow dense yet light at the same time. It’s possible that I didn’t pre-cook it for long enough, so next time I’ll go for a golden look. Overall, I found it to be nice and manageable. Unlike so many other crusts, the boys could cut up their slices without any problem. It was soft, yet not soggy. I’ll have to play around with this one to make it a bit thinner and crispier, but it seems like a winner. Not too shabby the morning after, either.

 

Feb 112012
 

We are big lovers of cornmeal pancakes in our family, but the boys were hankering for something closer to traditional wheat ones, so we figured it was time to throw together a batch of buckwheat pancakes.

 

Yield: 7 large pancakes

The ingredients:

  • 1 cup (120 g) buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup (20 g) masa harina
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 2/3 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 ¼ cup (300 ml) milk
  • 1 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 3 eggs*

* The original recipe called for 1 egg, but I wanted additional egg whites to make the pancakes nice and fluffy. I did add the yolks to the batter, but one needn’t do so.

Method.

  • Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Mix together the milk, syrup, melted butter, and egg yolk in another bowl.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until they are just mixed
  • Beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry
  • Fold the egg whites into the batter until just mixed
  • Cook away! We use a cast-iron griddle on medium-high heat

These went down very well indeed, though next time I might alter the mixture to make them more crêpe-like, as requested by one of the lads.

Jan 282012
 

There is a chicken curry bubbling on the stove, saffron rice steaming away in the rice cooker: how can I not think of naan bread?

I surfed up a recipe for gluten-free naan bread, and this is what I found:
http://www.food.com/recipe/gluten-free-naan-roti-indian-flat-bread-version-1-189334

I spent less than 30 minutes from start to finish, and in the end we had 2 large and 3 smaller naan breads.The final recipe looked like this:

  • 150 ml warm (but not hot) milk
  • 60 g tapioca flour
  • 85 g buckwheat flour
  • 90 g brown rice flour
  • 100 g white rice flour
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 generous tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 packet (about 2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp olive oil (infused with rosemary and peppercorns)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 150 ml plain yoghurt
  • extra rice flour to prevent sticking

Process:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 fahrenheit; preheat baking trays
  2. Heat the milk on a simmer burner until it’s just warm, but not hot.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and yeast. Let it sit for about 5 minutes
  4. While waiting for the yeast mixture, combine in a large bowl: flours, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum. If you don’t have a sifter, whisk them around until evenly blended.
  5. Add to the flour mixture: yoghurt, egg, oil, and the milk mixture, and combine until smooth.
  6. If the dough is sticky, dust your hands with rice flour and shape the dough into balls, then spread out until they are uniform patties about 1 cm thick. Shape them as you please, but try to make all roughly the same size and thickness.
  7. Place the patties on the pre-heated baking tray and place in the oven for 3 minutes, or until they are puffy and slightly browned.
  8. Broil them for about a minute, or until nicely golden.
  9. Optional: brush them with olive oil, ghee, or anything else that strikes your fancy. As with the mixture, I used olive oil infused with rosemary and peppercorns.

 

Ready to bake!

 

 

After about 3 minutes, the bread had puffed up nicely and were ready for browning under the broiler.

 

Dec 262011
 

Even though this is our first gluten-free Christmas, we didn’t want to miss out on the pudding. So, we made our own. I was apprehensive, but need not have been.

The basic recipe I followed was this one. Note that you have to scroll down the page quite a ways to actually reach the recipe.

I also had this one on hand and my final result combined aspects of both and may have included some improvisation re: dried fruits.

For the breadcrumbs, I followed a recipe very similar to the one for cornmeal croutons listed on this page.

If you need a shortcut, I have had some success with Glutino GF crumbs elsewhere: we used them in some fantastic crabcakes, but that’s another story.

For the proper flavour in any Christmas pudding, it is important to start early. I did not, so I can say that 2 weeks of maturing time was just about enough. I did top up with brandy every few days to help the process! If you want a nice, rich, flavour, the cooked pudding should mature for at least a month. The great thing about this process is that you can make them several months in advance and they will continue to mature. Just check on them from time to time, add a bit more brandy along the way, and you’ll have a warm belly and happy tastebuds come Christmas.

On the day itself, we plopped the pudding in the steamer and let it sit for a couple of hours (really, it only needs heating, so half an hour should do it) and it was fine. When we were ready, we turned out the lights, poured on the brandy, and flambéed the pudding. We had ours with whipped cream this year, though normally we have brandy butter.

For those unaccustomed to a Christmas pudding, it is very rich and you’ll want to eat only a small amount at a time. Just a few bites and you should be sated.

Dec 242011
 

Mince pies

How did we do it? First of all, I picked up a new kitchen scale. It’s digital and switches easily between metric and US standard units. This makes it easy to fool around with different types of gluten-free flour since the only thing that really matters is that there be double the mass of flour to fat.

Right. What about those pies?

* Cranberry mince pies. For the filling, I pretty much followed the recipe given here.

* I also made traditional mince pies (again, GF pastry) inspired by this recipe.

I may have added some prunes into the mix and also currents. I did not use any candied fruit and had to substitute Granny Smiths for Bramleys.

We are fortunate to have access to a great farm stand that sells excellent quality locally-raised meat at reasonable prices. I bought a large block of suet from them. When I need a bit, I just take the block out of the freezer, grate what I need, and put the rest back for later.

For the pastry, I played around a bit. In the last batch, I combined roughly equal parts of:

  • Rice flour (white and brown)
  • Garbanzo (chickpea) / fava bean flour
  • Added in a bit of corn starch

The above three ingredients came to about 150gm.

Then I put in a couple of teaspoons of:

  • xanthan gum
  • baking powder

Now for the fat. I’m not sure if it made much difference, but I froze all of my fat (lard and butter).

Total fat used: 75 gm

 

Sometimes I used only butter, sometimes a combination of lard and butter. The latter was a bit crumblier, as you might imagine.

Rather than cut the fat through the flour, I grated it, or at least sliced it into tiny pieces before cutting through the flour.

I did use my fingers for less than a minute to crumble the mixture together, then added the cold water– about 5-6 tablespoons and mixed everything together with a fork.

One the mixture held together, I separated it into two balls and put it in the fridge.

Half and hour later, I was ready to roll.

One note of warning: gluten-free pastry is not as pliable as regular pastry because of the lack of gluten. For me, the mini pies worked really well because each shell was small enough that it did not fall apart. When making a large apple pie, I found I had to do a bit a patching because of cracks in the dough.

I did find that using buckwheat flour sometimes helped with the pliability issues, but one has to be careful since the strong taste does not suit all types of filling.

Other links re. gluten-free flours and pastry (in no particular order). I took my ideas from several of these. As should be clear from the above, I am still experimenting. Even though I’ve been happy with some of the results, I’m eager to test other methods so that I can find a comfort zone within the gluten free world. A lot of the recipes linked below look quite involved. The great thing about using a scale is that there is less fussing with small individual measurements. Play away!

http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2010/04/recipe-gluten-free-puff-pastry.html

http://www.artofglutenfreebaking.com/2010/03/puff-pastry-gluten-free/

http://glutenfreegirl.com/gluten-free-rough-puff-pastry/

http://www.flour-arrangements.com/2010/10/gluten-free-pastry.html

http://www.ellenskitchen.com/faqs/glutfree.html