Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gin for the win

After more than 2 weeks, the juniper infused vodka looked like this:

I am affectionately calling this the "boba" faze.
I sniffed the brew, and the STRONG, sharp smell of Christmas has dissipated from last week, so I decided it was officially done.
I strained the berries out, and combined the final product with a small amount of the original herbal "gin" to help balance it. Final product: 1.5 cups juniper infused vodka + 0.25 cup spice infused vodka = GIN!
No someone who likes gin please come taste it, because to me, it still tastes like licking the sap of a Christmas tree.

Gluten-free pumpernickel, almost there

This is my fourth attempt at gluten-free pumpernickel; its still not quite right. The last time the flavor was spot on, but it was too moist. This time, its a little bit dry. The inevitable Goldie Locks solution cannot be far away.

The first time I saw teff flour, I was pretty insistent that it looked like rye. My first go at fauxpernickel, I learned the major difference between the two - teff is partially fermented. My first loaf smelled like gym socks while dough and tasted quite sour when baked. Try #2 was a bit better. I cut the amount of teff down, to less than half the total flour content, which decreased the sourness, but also made it taste more like a generic loaf of multigrain bread, than pumpernickel. Try #3 was greatly improved by the addition of golden raisins and more teff, but the middle was "soggy-ish" and required toasting for it hold up to even a smidgen of butter to be run across its beautiful crumb.

Try #3 - too wet
2 1/2 cups preferment
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup teff
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp psyllim hush
2 tbsp flax seed meal
1 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp water - to loosen the batter

(The wed dough looked like chocolate pudding, but is the consistency of soft frosting.)
The best thing I learned from Try #3, was the addition of psyllium husks to the batter, in addition to the flax seed meal.  (Psyllium husks are the same ingredient in Metamucil, and if you have ever left a glass of that on your counter, you know their power to turn water into slimy sludge. Sounds gross, but totally helpful in binding together gluten-free flours.)

I also discovered that allowing the pre-ferment to go for more than 2 days, allowed time for the yeast flavors to develop beyond gym-sock-sour.

Here you can see the baked loaf. About half teff flour, plus a mix of millet, rice, potato starch, tapioca starch and arrowroot starch. It is dotted with golden raisins and sunflower seeds. The crumb is pretty even. The taste is on-point. The only problem - the texture. There is no push/give when one bites into it; it sort of crumbles. I think I might go back to adding an egg, or some oil (both I omitted in this batch). Other suggestions?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gluten-free a waste?

This morning's most emailed article on is "Are gluten-free products a waste for those without celiac disease?". The question is obviously leading, but there is a poll at the bottom of the piece, and I am looking forward to seeing more of the results. (Also some of the comments are pretty hilarious)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

BLT salad

This weekend I was in the midst of all the ingredients for a BLT sandwich, minus the bread. Thus, I present to you, the BLT salad.

This is how we do it
-wash and chop lettuce
-chop tomatoes
-very thinly slice red onion, and soak in ice water (removes some of the intensity)
-cook bacon, then rip or chop it
-dressing: 2 parts mayo + 1 part apple cider vinegar + a few grinds of black pepper

Assemble and enjoy.

Possible improvements: sliced avocado, corn chips, gf pita bread

Purple sweet potato

I have been eyeing these guys at the Asian food store for a while. They are labeled as PURPLE SWEET POTATO, and are twice the price of "regular" sweet potatoes (you can see one in the background), so I was staved off for a while. I finally broke down and purchased one.

Ok, hello awesome colored flesh!

I decided to roast them with sweet potato, kohlrabi, and carrots with a pinch of salt and oil. Side-by-side, the purple sweet potato was noticeably more earthy, slightly less sweet, and a bit drier, than the standard white-fleshed version. I really really really like them. I served them up with some homemade chana masala and some store bought saag paneer. My dinner ruled.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gluten free in the news

Baking without flour brings sweet results
NPR Story about delightful desserts

Celiacs split on benefit of gluten-free tax break 
No surprise that the complicated calculations for gluten-free foods makes it more difficult for people to file taxes

Kafka forges ahead minus gluten, lactose
“She gives weight to these niches,” said Corby Kummer, a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine and a longtime friend of Kafka’s who pushed her to write the latest book after his stepdaughter was diagnosed as gluten-intolerant. “She carves out territory and then other people follow in her wake. No matter how many books come and go, hers are there.”

Gourmet and gluten-free: On the rise
A cute story about a Vancover bakery

Is going gluten-free good for you?
"Businesses aren't going to these lengths for the Celiacs. Because after all, they aren't the ones driving the sales. What is, according to Mintel, is advancements in the taste of gluten-free goodies, people's perception that gluten-free food is healthier and good old-fashioned trendiness."

Sugarbird Bakery Makes Gluten-Free Gourmet
Makes me want to visit Providence!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gluten free in the news

This is a first ever. There are so many stories about Celiac disease and gluten in the news, I am having to do a round-up. Hint, hint, the first one is my favorite!

Norwood Food Pantry Provides Gluten-Free Foods
"Pierce’s Pantry is the brainchild of Pierce Keegan, an 11th grade student from Wayland, who began raising money for Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger six years ago – about the same time he was diagnosed with celiac disease."

New Guide to Who Really Shouldn't Eat Gluten
This gives me hope for better research!

SURVIVING LIFE’S BIG SCRUM - Celiac disease hit rugby player Jamie Lawrence hard, but she has refused to be tackled
A nice person story

Why Liver Problems Require a Look at Celiac Disease
An interesting look at the connections between liver problems and Celiac

Should You Go Gluten Free? (video from TODAY show)

New Vaccine is being produced!
It's for a drug trial, but let's cross some fingers, and maybe some toes.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Madrid Coffee Cakes

It is really hard for me to say no to free cake; so when Madrid Coffee Cake contacted me and offered up a free sample, I said yes. There is your warning, disclosure, what have you, dear readers, that the following victuals were not purchased by me, but here is what my brain and taste buds thought.

The Classic Tarta de Santiago was the hands-down winner. The cake is moist, not too sweet, has a nice texture with the ground and sliced almonds, and it is perfect with coffee or tea. It does not suffer from many of the pitfalls of gluten-free cakes, like being gritty from rice flour, dry, cracking, crumbly, or tasting of chick pea flour, or strongly of egg whites. I really liked it.

I was a bit surprised when I tasted the second offering, the Chocolate-Hazelnut Coffee Cake. While the cake middle itself was soft and moist, the top was cracking like a meringue, and the flavor was off. It did not taste like hazelnuts and the mini chocolate chips made it taste like a cheaper quality product that the Santiago. I contacted the owner, but have not heard back. I am hoping that this was a fluke or a bad batch. I will report back with updates.

While I probably would not grab another Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee Cake, but I am a little jazzed to taste the Pistachio-Almond. I am excited to have another local gluten and dairy-free bakery in the Boston area!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Gin take 2

1 cup of vodka
1 tablespoon dried juniper berries

For those who truly love "real" gin, aka juniper-based gin, I am making a side supplement to my juniper-free gin. I shall report back in a few days.

Jujuju juice it, real good

In addition to joining a gym I've been juicing... fruits and veggies, not the other kind. I did a short stint at the now defunct Bananarama in Amherst, MA blending smoothies and crafting juices. Adding ginger changed my opinion of veggie-heavy fruit juices; it really helps it sparkle so it is not too vegetal. Carrot-beet-apple-celery with a hint of ginger is one of my all time favorites. I have been messing around with adding more greens - it definitely changes the color, but if there are some sweet fruits thrown in, the end result is really great.

technicolor snack brought to you by:
beets, beet greens, kale, carrot, zucchini, cucumber, apple, ginger

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gluten free beer bread

I have to give a nod to my friend Rena on this lemonade of an idea: gluten free beer bread. There have been several new-to-me gluten free beers that I have tried lately... but I have not liked nor blogged about them. I find that all gluten free beers fall into one ore more of these categories:
-too sweet
-not carbinated enough
-almost no noticeable hops
-wine-like flavor, rather than a beer-like flavor

I do have hope, Dogfish Head is going to release a new gluten-free beer: Tweason'ale. Till then, I have some bottles knocking around in the back of the fridge that need a purpose, thus it is bread making time!

So here is my first semi-failed attempt at beer bread. You can see it exploded, and then collapsed, and then when fully cooled became a doughball.

Honestly, I felt like I was gluten free bread baking for the first time. See the uneven crumb! The saddness of a falling loaf! This, my friends, is grounds for improvement!


Last Friday night a few people encouraged the gin making to stop, mostly to allow for more substantial gin tasting to occur. I have to say, these are some of the smartest people out there because the end result was amazing.

The "headiness" of the bergamont, where it was very strong in the nose, has really mellowed. So much so I am not sure I would pick it out as the first smell. The flavor is a lot more spicy, in the slightly prickly way - I could really taste the cubebs and grains of paradise! The other marked improvement is that the beverage tastes a lot less, well, vodka-like. Don't get me wrong, but I was a little disappointed when the original recipe I read online suggested steeping for 24 hours, because after 24 hours this was less awesome than after 17 days.

I am going to have to whip up a batch of tonic water asap.