29 January 2014

Baking with Teff Flour

Oatmeal Teff Chocolate Chip Cookies
Someone on Twitter was asking about using Teff as a gluten free grain and it reminded me of these cookies.  I haven't made them in awhile and won't be making any cookies anytime soon because I am avoiding sugar and refined flours right now (more about that later).  But the question about teff made me remember how caramel-like and good these cookies were.

I have mostly used teff flour for baking, when i want that caramel flavor and a whole grain.  I have never cooked with whole teff before.  Someone on Twitter was saying that people are talking about teff as the new quinoa.  Anyone else have experience with it?

As I mentioned, I am avoiding sugar at the moment.  I am doing the Fast Metabolism Diet.  I did the first 28 days, starting on December 30 and lost 8 lbs.  Have lost another pound now and hopeful it will continue.  I was trying everything (including going vegan or partially vegan) without success until I tried this program.  You can read more about it here.  There are three phases to the diet each week.  Phase 1 is high carb, moderate protein and no added fat.  Phase 2 is high protein, vegetables and no grains or fruit or added fat.  Phase 3 adds back in healthy fats and some grains and fruit.  It is two days on phase 1, two on Phase 2 and 3 days on Phase 3.  If you start on a Monday, it means your weekends are pretty good.  Exercise is geared toward the phases.  Cardio in Phase 1, strengthening in Phase 2 and stretching or yoga in Phase 3.  The only phase I do not like is Phase 2.  I am ok with protein and veggies but the lack of fat kills me.  Also, it is so low carb on those 2 days that you cannot even have tomatoes.

Other things that are not allowed at all on the program are: caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy, wheat, corn or soy or artificial sweeteners.  Only Stevia and Xylitol are allowed.  Most of this is ok with me as going without caffeine or alcohol is better for me anyway given the headaches and I am already avoiding wheat.  It is not forever anyway.  Once I lose all the weight I want to lose, I can loosen it up a bit.  The recipes in the book and in the companion cookbook are wonderful and I have several new favorite dishes.  The best ones are the soups and stews.  My husband loves the Coconut Curry Chicken in Phase 3 served over quinoa.

Best news about the diet is that all the sugar cravings disappeared along with the post holiday weight.  Try it if you think you need to re-set your metabolism.

Karen, herself

22 December 2013

Gluten Free Whole Grain Holiday Cookies

Pecan, buckwheat and sorghum thumbprint cookies
I read an interesting article about baking holiday cookies with whole grains in the New York Times a couple weeks ago and have been dying to try their thumbprint recipe.  

The author of the article used rye flour and toasted pecans in his recipe.  I decided to use buckwheat but worried that just buckwheat would have unexpected results, so instead of 1 1/2 cups of rye flour, I used 3/4 cup of buckwheat flour and 3/4 cup of sorghum flour and added a half teaspoon of xanthan gum for good measure.  They turned out looking like your typical vegan cookie (they are not!) but they are quite delicious.  Not as sweet as the usual thumbprint but the texture of the cookie is great and the flavor is complex and wonderful.  My only mistake was to be too pressed for time when I made them not to see that they needed to be chilled first before baking.  Mine turned out fine anyway, but next time I will chill them.

Here is what I did:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1  1/2 cups of raw pecans spread on a cookie sheet; bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
9 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature and cut into pieces)
2-3 Tablespoons cold water

Combine the pecans, flours, sugar, salt and xanthan gum in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Turn mixture into a large bowl and add the butter and combine with a pastry knife (or your hands...or two knives).  My dough was too dry after this step so I added tablespoons of cold water one at a time until the dough held together.

Divide dough into two and mold each half into a log.  Cut each log into 12 pieces.  Take each piece and roll into a ball.  place each ball on a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat.  Make a depression in each ball, flattening it out some (see video at NYT site to see how they did it).  Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes or so, until the edges start to brown.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack.  When cool, you can fill the depression in the center with jam and serve immediately, or store unfilled in the freezer until ready to serve.


Karen, herself

02 December 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Two pumpkin pies with two different gluten free crusts
Another year, another delicious Thanksgiving dinner without gluten.  Yes, it can be done quite easily and if you don't tell anyone, no one will be the wiser.

This year I took it easy and didn't bother with soup, rolls, or appetizers.  It was just the two of us and I chose to focus on dessert.  I actually planned on making a soup, but then I tried a new gluten free pie crust recipe  I found in the New York Times and when it looked a little funny (before it was baked) I got nervous and decided to make another one my usual way, with Jules' gluten free all purpose flour.  After spending all afternoon baking pies, I was too tired to make my butternut squash soup. In my photo, the pie made with Jules' flour is on the right and the NYT recipe is on the left.  As it happened, they both turned out great and we were left to gorge on two pies instead of one.  Not great for the diet, but I learned something from it.

I started out thinking I preferred the Jules version, but then, as we ate our way through the pies, I decided that I like the other one so much that I would be hard pressed to judge either one better than the other.  The NYT recipe (from Recipes for Health) uses corn and oat flours plus a bit of almond meal, a whole egg and some salt and sugar.  It is a sweet crust, but it works with pumpkin pie filling.  It is also a whole grain crust, sans xanthan gum, which is why I was so interested to try it.  The Jules flour is a mixture of rice and corn flours with xanthan gum and it is a wonderful all purpose gluten free flour.  I use it all the time and it never fails.  I just sometimes worry about the xanthan gum and sometimes it makes baked goods a little too spongy in texture.

The recipe I use with Jules' flour is a simple pate brisée which I make in a food processor.  It is the recipe that came with my Cuisinart many years ago.  It is just flour, unsalted butter, egg yolk and salt and water.  I make it exactly the same as I used to before I went gluten free, just substituting Jules flour for wheat.

Here is how they looked ready to eat:
Left: whole grain crust Right: Jules' Flour crust

My dinner

The rest of my dinner is naturally gluten free except for the stuffing.  I make a French sausage and chestnut stuffing from a Bon Appetit recipe from 1982.  I substitute Udi's Millet Chia bread (GF). There is no difference in the taste of the stuffing, but the gf bread tends to dissolve during roasting, but this stuffing is more about the chestnuts and sausage than the bread anyway.  My cranberry relish is just cranberries, an orange, sugar and Grand Marnier.  No gluten there.  I used Jules' flour to make a roux for my gravy.  It works just fine.  I make my own stock with the turkey neck, carrots, celery, garlic and onion, bay leaf, fresh thyme and parsley, peppercorns, salt and water.  I add a half cup of white wine to the stock.  When I made my roux, I used butter, Jules' flour, a bit of salt and white pepper, the stock and the pan drippings from the turkey.  It was so delicious that I could have eaten it with a spoon.

And here is the hero of the day— turkey just coming out of the oven.  Picture perfect and gluten free.
It was a fresh Northwest Natural turkey, grown locally without added hormones, anti-biotics or other nasty things.  I roasted it on "Convection Roast" for just over two hours.  It was a small bird, just over 11 lbs, but just right for us with lots of leftovers for turkey sandwiches and — my favorite—turkey hash with potatoes and sweet potatoes.

09 November 2013

Lemony Cranberry Almond Muffins

Cranberry Almond Muffins
We have company this weekend and I wanted to try a new muffin for breakfast.  I chose this recipe from PCC's latest monthly newsletter (PCC is a local Seattle-based food co-op).   The recipe is not gluten free so I made some adjustments.  They came out heavenly.

The recipe called for whole milk and whole milk yogurt and since I had either 2% or nonfat versions in my fridge, I added some shortening to the recipe and then held my breath to see if they came out ok.  They did!

I also used coconut palm sugar in place of the recipe's brown sugar. Here is what I did:

Cranberry almond muffins

1 1/2 cups Jules almost Normal Gluten Free Flour
2/3 cup corn meal
1/2 cup sugar
muffin batter
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1  1/2 cups roughly chopped fresh cranberries
2/3 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
1/2 cup or less coconut oil or other shortening
2/3 cup 2% milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T lemon juice
1T lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds (for garnish on top)

Preheat oven to 375° and line muffin tin with paper or silicone cups.

Whisk together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, toss two teaspoons of dry mix over chopped cranberries.   Blend together wet ingredients, adding shortening or oil (I used a stand mixer for this part).  Add dry ingredient mix to wet mixture, then fold in cranberries.  Divide evenly between muffin cups and sprinkle almonds on top.

Bake in oven until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Let muffins cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack.

Makes 14 muffins.
Karen, herself

04 September 2013

Gluten Free Vanilla Pudding Cake with Lemon Filling

Vanilla Pudding Cake with Lemon Curd and Buttercream icing
I threw a bridal shower for a friend on Sunday.  The food was all gluten free and all delicious.  I made red pepper hummus as an appetizer and surrounded it with a variety of gluten free crackers.  I tossed some brown rice pasta with homemade pesto sauce and parmesan cheese (olives on the side), and I made a fresh corn and shrimp salad with a vinaigrette-like marinade.  Another friend brought a green salad and I added some cheeses to go with the crackers and hummus.  But the shining star of the party was the cake.

I wanted to make a white cake and put lemon curd in between the layers and finish it with a silky buttercream icing.  The thought was to make it like a wedding cake and decorate it with white pearl like sugar pebbles.  I decided to use XO Baking Company's gluten free white cake mix.  I have used it before.  It is one of the few white cake mixes out there that are gluten free.  Betty Crocker's mixes are great and taste like the real thing, but they only make a yellow cake mix.  I have used XO's mix before so decided on that one.  Everything I have tried from XO Baking Co. has been outstanding, by the way.

The only problem was that the only time I had used this mix before, I used it for a cake that had the mix as one of several ingredients, including instant pudding, extra eggs, and ginger ale instead of milk or water.  So, not wanting to try it without these extras, i chose a vanilla pudding mix and charged ahead.  It turned out great.  So moist and delicious.  The funny thing is, with all the eggs and the vanilla pudding mix, the cake turned out yellow in the end!  No need to have looked for a white cake mix!

The decoration was a combination of the sugar pearls and lemon gummy pandas as I could not find the larger white sugar pearls, only really tiny ones and I wasn't sure they would show up on the icing.

Vanilla Pudding Cake with Lemon Curd and Buttercream Icing
1 gluten free cake mix (white or yellow)
1   3 1/2 oz. pkg instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup ginger ale
1 tsp vanilla
1 jar prepared lemon curd
1 recipe buttercream icing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8" cake pans.  Cut a round piece of parchment to fit in the bottom of each pan and grease the top.  Combine first 6 ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat well.  Pour into prepared pans and place them in the oven for 30-35 minutes.  Cake is done when tester comes out clean.  Cool in pans on a rack for 10-20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge, invert each pan and remove the cake onto the cooling rack.  Peel off the parchment paper.  Completely cool before frosting.

Place one layer on a cake plate.  Spread lemon curd on top.  Place second layer on top of first and spread icing over top and sides.  Decorate as desired.  Refrigerate overnight for the best flavor and moistness.  Bring to room temperature before serving to let the icing soften.

Buttercream Icing
1/2 cup shortening (I used Earth Balance Coconut Spread)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup scalded milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla

Bring milk to boil twice.  Cool.  Cream butter and shortening together in a mixer.  Add milk and keep beating, add powdered sugar, then egg white.  Add vanilla last.  You may have to continue beating for awhile if you use the coconut spread.  It took a few minutes to thicken.

26 May 2013

Elimination Diets and Almond Flour Pancakes

Almond Flour Pancakes with Maple Syrup
Yes, I know it has been a long time since I have posted.  I spent most of the Winter months going cold turkey off my migraine medication and doing an elimination diet (the Dr. Buchholz of "Heal your Headache" fame one).  The long story short of the thing is that it seems to have worked.  I tried it once before and gave up after about a week and a half, but this time I stuck it out the whole three months and never took an Amerge...or an Excedrin to stop a headache.  The first week was tough, the second tougher.  I chose to start it when my husband was out of town and I had no real work to do and could just hunker down and deal with the pain.  The caffeine withdrawal was bad, even though I tried to taper off gradually.  But after a few weeks I had fewer headaches and the ones I got were tolerable with Tylenol and aroma therapy.  I made my own oils and put them on my temples and my neck where I had stiffness.  It did help enough that I could watch tv or do something else mindless until the headache went away.

The weird thing is that after the three months ended, my migraine with aura headaches reappeared.  I did have to take Amerge a few times since the end of the elimination diet but I have not gone back to the every other day headache existence.

What did I do?  I eliminated caffeine, chocolate, alcohol (with a few exceptions), onions, citrus, anything fermented, lentils, and the whole list of things on Dr. Buchholz's list.  It was hard, especially giving up chocolate and yogurt.  When it was over, I went out and had a cup of strong coffee and a chocolate gluten free cupcake to celebrate.  I didn't feel very well afterward so I am back to being very careful with those two items.  Small amounts, not everyday.

In addition to the aroma therapy, I found that making myself exercise a little before breakfast helped to keep me from getting a headache, even if I kind of felt one coming on when I got up in the morning.  Since the elimination ended, I have been trying a few foods slowly.  Onion seem to be ok, although they and the coffee seem to be the cause of my heartburn.  Ginger in large amounts is not ok and I think that is what brought on one of my migraine with aura headaches.  I tried a detox ginger kale juice drink that made my head feel funny as soon as I drank it.  Never again.  Just say no to Kambucha too.  Same deal.

So anyway, I am pretty much ok now.  I have my life back again.  When I feel tempted to have a glass of wine while cooking, I just think of how horrible life used to be and I drink a big glass of water instead.  I save the wine for dinner and only once a week, if that.

This morning I tried a new recipe for gluten free pancakes with almond flour.  They were a bit tricky (wait longer than usual before flipping and be very careful) and they were too mushy, but ok if you want to try them.  Next time I make them I will use only half almond flour and use an all purpose GF flour as the other half.  The maple syrup helped the taste a lot.

Here are some photos of them in the works:

The recipe I found online at The Roasted Root

1 3/4 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond milk

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, the eggs, almond milk and vanilla in another.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine.  Use about a quarter cup for each pancake (or less).  Makes 9 pancakes.

Karen, herself

04 January 2013

Gluten Free Piroshki

Piroshki with mushroom and rice filling
What are piroshki?  They are a baked pastry  that have a variety of fillings from jam (sweet version) to cabbage (savory version).  In Russian cuisine, they are a traditional accompaniment to soup.  When I was studying Russian in St. Petersburg (many, many years ago when the city was still called Leningrad) I used to have piroshki for breakfast in the university dining hall.  They had sweet ones filled with jam (my favorites), egg and rice filled ones,  and the cabbage filled ones.  I alternated between the egg and rice and jam filled.   The little old ladies who worked in the dining hall in Leningrad tried to get me to take the cabbage filled piroshki, but I wasn't having any of that.  A few years later I discovered this mushroom and rice filling recipe in The Best of Bon Appetit, published in 1979.  The full pastry recipe is quite large and the book has three different filling recipes.  I have tried two of the three, the mushroom and rice, and the smoked salmon and kasha.  There is also a cabbage filling that I have not yet tried.  I seem to steer clear of cabbage-filled piroshki, but I bet they are good too, just not for breakfast! 

 I used to make piroshki as an appetizer at parties but haven't tried making them since going gluten free.  I figured if I could make pirogi gluten free than why not piroshki, right?  Right.  I cut the pastry recipe down to one third and substituted Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour for the flour, but left the recipe alone after that.  The dough is very short and a bit difficult to work with, but they still turned out great.  I made them all the day before my dinner party and reheated them in a convection/microwave oven at 350° for ten minutes before serving.  Here is the recipe:

Gluten Free Piroshki
(makes 20-24)
1 stick butter, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese
2 T whipping cream
1 1/4 cups Jules GF All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Mushroom and Rice Filling
2 T butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 lb mushrooms, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 T chopped parsley

Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl using a stand mixer.  Beat in cream, then mix in flour and salt.  Form into a ball, place in a zip loc bag, flatten into a disc and seal.  Chill.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat .  Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft but not brown.  Stir in mushrooms and add salt and pepper to taste.  Increase heat to high and cook until all moisture is absorbed. Remove from heat, add rice and parsley.

Preheat oven to 400°
Grease baking sheet or line with silpat.  Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8" thickness. Using a 3" round biscuit or cookie cutter, stamp out rounds.  Place 1 tsp of filling in the center of each round and brush edges with beaten egg.  Fold in half and pinch edges to close.  Place on baking sheet and make small slash with knife in each to allow steam to escape.  Brush again with egg.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.  Serve warm.

—adapted from The Best of Bon Appetit, The Knapp Press, New York, 1979.  pp. 16-17.


Karen, herself