Thursday, August 27, 2009

New labeling laws for beer

Its made with sorghum, but is it gluten free?
Confusion in the liquor store might lessened with the new FDA ruling that beers, tested and confirmed to be gluten free, can be labeled gluten free.

Full USA Today article: Gluten-free beer can be labeled as such under FDA

Psssst - beer brewers, this lady would love to taste a gluten free stout. (Cough gluten free oats cough)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pancakes - a work in progress

Pancakes are one of my most favorite foods. I have been working on a gluten free pancake recipe for over a year now. (Ok, not supper diligently and I haven't written down any of the recipes.)

But in the past week I have had my hand at two batches and I discovered that the batch without xanthan gum had a much better texture.

I call this progress, delicious progress.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gluten Free Croissants... not quite yet

So this has been something rolling around my head since I made gf puff pastry. I also came across Gluten Free Gobsmack's recipe and Living Without Magazine's recipe for gluten free croissants and thought it was about time to attempt my own.

Day 1 - make dough

This went pretty well. The dough was sticky and a little slimy from the xanthan gum, but it had some promise.

Day 2 - add turns of butter

The plastic bag I had put the dough in to rest in the fridge over night, was full of air - the yeasties were working!
I rolled out the dough and added in the butter.

The dough got really dry and was starting to not hold together, so I put a little egg wash on it before adding the last turn of butter. (I believe this was a pretty giant err on my part)

I rolled it out, then returned it to its ziplock bag for a cool night in the fridge.

Day 3 - Rolling, cutting, rolling, proofing, baking, eating

I divided the dough in 2 and rolled it out on parchment. For about 1/3 I added a mixture of chopped, dried slab apricots and sliced almonds that soaked for an hour in vanilla simple syrup.

I rolled them up, and let them proof for 30 minutes - nothing happened. Then I made a proofer by turning the oven on 200F, shutting it off, putting in the trays of croissants and placing a pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven. Another hour - nothing. I decided to brush them with egg wash and bake them off anyway.

You can see they didn't really puff and the layers totally got flattened together. The result was much more pie dough and croissant, but the filling was tasty!

I think I completely overworked the dough. Maybe halving the batch and using frozen butter would have worked.

Monday, August 17, 2009

NYT article on Celiac Disease

NYT piece on the cost of living gluten-free, The Expense of Eating with Celiac Disease, does a pretty fair job of outlining why and how things can be more expensive. But to Lesley Alderman's credit, it goes a few steps further to outline how some costs can be defrayed and/or tax deductible.

Thanks to Danielle for sending this along.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

BBJ Local gluten-free menus

So they get some of the basics wrong (like calling Celiac Disease an allergy to gluten) but the Boston Business Journal's piece Local gluten-free menus, highlights some new gluten free options at Boston area restaurants.

Thanks to Elizabeth for sending this my way.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009's "Throwing out the Wheat" and responses

I just came across the article "Throwing out the Wheat: Are we being too intolerant of the gluten-intolerance?" and then Dr. Ron Hoggan's Response on

Good gravy. Can we be a little more tolerant of intolerant and intolerance?

I do not agree with main of the "facts" that Engber puts forth in his piece, but there are so many aspects to gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease that are still unclear or unknown by the western, medical community's standards. There are theories, but no specific, known, defined triggers for the onset of Celiac Disease.

Whether something can be proved in a lab or not, is only one way of knowing. The common cold existed before there were microscopes to view it. Just because we do not have the technology, equipment or knowledge to analyze or "prove" something in a lab does not mean it does not exist. (Hoggan does go on to list what tests and how gluten intolerance can be proven/tested for in a lab by looking for specific antibodies.)

That said, Hoggan's poking fun via speculations of Engber's love life not only detracts from the merits of the argument, treating the disagreement as a pissing match rather than a serious attempt to discuss/clarify terminology.
How can we (those who need to live and eat gluten free) demand that people take us seriously about our health and safety if response are demeaning and off-topic? Taking the "if you don't listen to me and believe what I say I am going to make fun of you" tactic is at the best baiting and at the worst detrimental to continuing the conversation and quite possibly ending an occasion for education.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Rolls

This isn't really a recipe, but a list of ingredients I decided to make dinner with. Its hot, way too hot to be cooking, but I got the idea in my head to make tea smoked tofu for summer rolls and well, lets say that the smoking process smelled a lot less like tea and a lot more like other plant materials sometimes set ablaze. The finished tofu didn't taste bad, but it didn't necessarily evoke campfire either.

Summer Rolls
rice paper wrappers
firm tofu (I used my attempt at tea soaked), cut into thin strips
Mung bean noodles, soaked for 15 minutes
carrot, julienne
greens of scallions, sliced fine
thinly sliced cucumbers
fresh mint leaves
fresh basil leaves (Thai basil is great here)

1. Soak the rice paper for 5+ seconds in warm water until it is soft, pliable, and translucent.
2. Remove the rice paper from the water and place it on a towel.
3. Add layers of the veggies and then the noodles and roll up like a burrito. Roll the top up and over the filling, roll it over once, then pull in the outside flaps and roll up. (as you can see, I didn't wrap mine as tightly as they should be so they were a little difficult to eat, but tasted pretty awesome)
4. Cut and eat with spicy peanut dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce
Peanut butter (I started with a 1/4 cup)
a few dashes fish sauce (substitute gluten-free soy sauce if you are going vegan)
< 1/2tsp toasted sesame oil
fresh lime juice (1 or more limes)
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 scallions fresh scallions, minced
chili sauce (I like Sambal here)
sugar (especially necessary if using unsweetened peanut butter)

Mix all the ingredients together well, taste for seasonings. I was really surprised how much chili sauce was needed. The fat of the peanut butter is really powerful.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

French Macaron

Macaroons are my favorite cookie of all time. Growing up, I only knew the Sicilian kind, made with almond paste for specially occasions (weddings) and holidays (mainly Christmas). Round and covered in pine nuts (which to the displeasure of all my Italian relatives, I would unabashedly pick off) or made in a rosette and topped with half or a quarter of a maraschino cherry, macaroons were something I gladly signed up to help our neighbors make.

It wasn't until my sister made coconut macaroons that I realized the word could have more than one cookie result. (I enjoy a good coconut macaroon now and then, but its not my default macaroon.)

In 2006, while working at a gourmet food shop in Cambridge, MA I first experienced a French macaron. A Frenchman name Craig was creating these 3-bite, brightly hued and intensely flavored cookies that blew me away. Sadly, he is no longer making the cookies and fillings from scratch, but the simultaniously crunchy, chewy and creamy textures with birsts of raspberry, coffee, pisatchio, vanilla and even blueberry flavors have been scered into my memory.

So when the subject of macaron making came up this evening, the thought that crossed minds was whether or not Trader Joe's Almond Meal could work in a traditional recipe that calls for blanched almond meal/flour -- the Trader Joe's kind is ground with the almond peels on. Deciding the only way to know for sure was to try, here is my first attempt at macaron.

Working off of Syrup and Tang's La Macaronicite, I made the following:

Almond Meal - 130gm
Powdered Sugar - 160gm
Egg Whites - 100gm
Granulated Sugar - 80gm
1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Oven Info:
Preheat the oven to 360F
After two minutes, prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon

Prep ahead:
3-4 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
Pastry bag or ziptop bag fitted with a round tip for piping.

1. Whisk together the almond meal and powdered sugar. Set aside.
2. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
3. Slowly add the granulated sugar into the egg whites, and then whip until still peaks.
4. Fold in half of the almond meal mixture into the egg whites. Then fold in the vanilla and remaining almond meal mixture. Work quickly but DO NOT OVER MIX.
5. Load the mixture into a piping bag and pipe out circles that are as even as possible (you can pre-mark the underside of your parchment as a guide). The cookies are not going to spread that much, but do leave a centimeter or so between each. If you have little tips or peaks, tap the cookie sheet on the counter.
6. Place cookies into 365F oven. (I misread here and lowered the oven temp, whoops)
7. After 2 minutes, prop the door open with a wooden spoon to let some air escape.
8. At the 5 minute mark, rotate the pans.
9. The cookies are done when the outter cookies just barely begin to take on color and the cookie will lift away from the paper with a little resistance when lifted/pushed. GO GENTLE HERE
10. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the pans for 1-2 minutes.
11. Lift the cookies from the parchment and place on a cooling rack to further cool. If cookies stick to paper, dab the back of the paper with a bit of water and then try removing.
12. Once cool, fill with jam or buttercream.

Piped dough:

Baked shells (I think the heat was not hot enough = cracking):

Filled with coffee buttercream:

I was intimidated by macarons, but even though the buttercream broke and the shells cracked, they were still delicious and I will try making them again - once I can get my hands on some finer almond meal.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Gluten free Chicago deep dish

The internet is a wonderful thing. You can type: "gluten free pizza Chicago" into the googler and find places like: Marcello's Father & Son Restaurant offering both deep dish and thin crust gluten free offerings. You can even order online.

Do you think I could resist?

Deep dish with mushrooms, onions & sausage:

Thin crust with spinach, mushrooms, & artichokes:

Flavor-wise, the thinner crust won out. I am pretty sure its the same dough, just shaped differently, but the thicker crust of the deep dish tasted a bit odd or off - though both held up very well, even with delivery they didn't get soggy or fall apart.

The left overs were even better.