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.