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Archive for July, 2012

When you first find out you have serious food allergies, it’s really easy to immediately start looking for substitutes for the now-forbidden foods.  We rush to the store and ask, “Where’s the gluten free baking aisle?  Where are the cookies?  Is a gluten free doughnut possible?”  We buy everything that might allow us to keep eating the old familiar foods.  Then we are often disappointed by sawdust-like texture, strange flavors, and exorbitant prices.

My friends, there is a better way.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I love to replicate my old favorites!  But one of the unexpected blessings of a required change of diet is the opportunity to try out new foods.  Take the soup in the above photo, for example.  It is gluten free, dairy free and delicious!  And it was thrown together out of random stuff in the cupboards.  (recipe to follow!)

Take a food adventure this week.  Try something new!  Branch out beyond pizza, burgers and fries.  🙂 

Here’s a few suggestions:

-Homemade Chili (recipe in next time’s post!)
-Quinoa (cooked like rice, in water or chicken broth, or eaten like oatmeal, with milk and some sugar)
-Amaranth (can be cooked like rice, pounded into flaked cereal, or popped like popcorn!)
-Chicken curry (or any meat!)
-Rice of many kinds (try long grain brown basmati for fried rice, shorter grains for rice pudding or risotto)

When the blindfold of “I CAN’T HAVE GLUTEN EVER AGAIN” falls over our culinary vision, it is easy to overlook the many things in our pantry that are naturally gluten free and delicious.  Don’t panic!  I know it is easy to do, but take a deep breath and reintroduce yourself to some of these lovely foods…..

-Eggs (a plethora of cooking options exist!)
-Nut butters (you can even grind your own!)
-Canned fish (I prefer salmon, in eggs or mixed with mayo or cream cheese)
-Salad (topped with boiled eggs, meat, cheese and a veggie rainbow–an excellent meal!)
-Chicken, Beef or Vegetable broth (I prefer organic varieties as the base to dozens of different meals)
-Fresh fruit, ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese (together or separate, these all make excellent desserts)

Welcome back to enjoying food!   

Quick Asian-Inspired Soup

Ingredients:
8 cups chicken broth
1 box MaiFun rice noodles (or your favorite thin rice noodle)
fresh ginger, sliced into 1/4″ slices
fish sauce (make sure it is gluten free)
garlic vinegar (rice vinegar would be good, too)
garlic (powdered or fresh, minced)
salt
cayenne pepper
sausages (optional)

Method:
Heat chicken broth in a large stock pot.  Pour in some fish sauce and vinegar.  Sorry that’s not very specific, but it depends a lot on your personal taste.  I used about 1/2 a cup of vinegar, but I LOVE “hot and sour” soup in Chinese restaurants, so I made our soup pretty vinegary.  You might want less.  Or maybe more!  I used about a 1/4 cup of the fish sauce, or maybe a little less.  Toss in your ginger slices.  If you want to leave the ginger in the final soup, you should peel and dice or julienne it before adding.  Otherwise, just slice off a few pieces and toss them in.  (We keep our ginger in the freezer–it stays good a long time that way, and the fresh stuff tastes much better than powder in this kind of food!)  Sprinkle on a little garlic powder, or stir in a couple cloves of minced garlic.  Then add a dash of cayenne (or a bit more if you are so inclined) and salt to taste.  Let it all heat and steep for a little while (5-10 minutes).  Now, taste!  Adjust flavors as needed.

When the broth tastes perfect, you are ready for the noodles!  Before you put them in, remove any unpeeled ginger and bring the broth to a boil.  Add the noodles to the boiling broth and continue to cook for a few minutes.  (Read the directions on your noodles, and treat the broth as the water in those directions.)  When the noodles are soft, serve!

We sliced up a few sausages (chicken and apple for the dairy free folks, artichoke and cheese for us dairy-eaters) and cooked them in skillets while the broth was steeping, then added them to the soup just before serving.

You could also add…
-shrimp
-waterchestnuts
-mushrooms
-green onions
-julienned carrots
-tofu
-eggs (beat, then slowly pour into broth–before adding noodles–while stirring with a chopstick or spoon handle)
-pork
-chicken
-anything else you like….the sky’s the limit!

What are some of your favorite foods?

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Summer is here! For me, that means a chance to work on all those projects I “didn’t have time for” during the school year. It also means warm sunny days of reading in the yard, dabbling in a wading pool, or running in sprinklers…right? Well…so far, this summer has been rather cool and cloudy, except for the week our air conditioner stopped working. Believe me, you never appreciate AC so much as when you are without it for a few days!!!

Cool and cloudy might not be so hot (ha ha) for the beachgoers, but for bakers it’s great! I can turn on the oven without fearing my cookbooks might spontaneously combust from the extra heat in the house!

I must admit, I’ve also spent a fair amount of time watching episodes of Good Eats on YouTube and getting lots of ideas for adapting…this recipe being one of them!

So, this English Muffin recipe starts with Alton Brown’s directions, but takes a turn or two here and there to make it more allergy-friendly. It takes a bit of time, but the end results are worth it! These are the baked version, but I imagine they could also be griddle cooked, as the original recipe suggests. I am using a combination of gelatin and chia slurry to provide the structure that usually comes from gluten in baked goods.  They taste great just out of the oven, and are still good the next day.  I imagine they would taste lovely toasted.  Really, the only problem I had was that they disappeared way too fast!

Let’s bake!

Gluten Free English Muffins
adapted from Alton Brown’s English Muffin recipe found on food.com

Before you start, you’ll need a kitchen scale (digital ones work best). I’ve been learning how necessary a scale is to good gluten free baking for the past couple of years from posts on Shauna Ahern’s website: www.glutenfreegirl.com If you haven’t been there, check it out sometime—she has LOTS of great recipes and videos!
Okay, now let’s bake!

Ingredients:

12 oz All Purpose gluten free flour (I use the mix in Cooking for Isaiah, the above website has several good flour mix recipes as well)

1 package of yeast (about 2 Tablespoons)

1 teaspoon salt

1 oz almond meal

0.5 oz sugar

1 packet unflavored gelatin

1 ½ Tablespoons chia seeds

1 ¼ cups water

1 Tablespoon shortening

Method:

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, yeast, salt, almond meal, and sugar.

At the same time, dissolve gelatin in about ¼ cup of cold water in a small dish. When the gelatin is set, add enough hot water to cover (no more than another ¼ cup or so). Stir to melt.

Place the chia seeds in a small dish and pour about ½ cup of very hot water over them. Let rest a few minutes, until the mixture turns a bit gelatinous.

Melt the shortening in the water, either on the stovetop or in the microwave.

When all the wet ingredients are ready, add all to the dry mixture and mix well in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer, if it is sturdy) for about 3 minutes. The resulting dough will be sticky.

Cover the bowl with plastic and place in the fridge overnight. This long, slow rise helps the flavors develop!

In the morning….

Beat the mixture again, on medium speed, for another 3 minutes.

Next, prepare for baking!

You will need 8 rings in which to cook the muffins. You can get crumpet or English muffin rings at some restaurant supply stores or specialty kitchen shops. You can also use clean, empty short cans, such as tuna cans, with both ends cut off. They work just as well, and are somewhat easier to find!

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat (I just got one of those and I Love it!), and place 8 metal rings on it. Spray with non-stick cooking spray or you will have a horrible time separating the rings from the muffins later. Sprinkle a little cornmeal or rolled oats in the bottom of each ring.

Divide the dough between the 8 rings. (If your rings are smaller in diameter than 3 inches, you might need more than 8 rings.) If you like, sprinkle the tops of the muffins with more cornmeal or oatmeal. Cover the rings with a sheet of parchment paper and leave to rise for one hour.

Before the hour is up, set your oven to 400 degrees.

After one hour, place an empty cookie sheet on top of the parchment-covered rings and put the whole thing in the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes. Then, carefully remove the top cookie sheet and parchment paper. Cook 5 more minutes, or until the tops are slightly browned.

Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before you remove the rings. Then, split with a fork and eat!

Enjoy!

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9 (NIV)

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