Archive for September, 2009
Attention Facebook addicts! There is now a social networking site JUST for GFers. Mosey on over to gling.com and browse through the community, recipes, foods and locations sections of the website to help you make smart GF choices in your neighborhood. We’re still new to the setup, but look for us as theglutenfreelab. Wanna be friends?
Ah, the ubiquitous coffee shop known as Starbucks. We now have reason to applaud the ubiquity: The newly-released gluten-free Valencia Orange Cake. Readers, if you’ve had a chance to sample this delightful-looking pastry, DO TELL. We want to know the truth over here at The Lab, and, gosh darnit, we just haven’t had a spare moment to stop by our neighborhood Starbucks to see whether all the fuss is, well, worth the fuss!
The listed ingredients are quite simple, really. It’s just eggs, almonds, orange pulp, sugar, orange peel, baking powder and orange oil. With a much-appreciated nod to the most sensitive of Celiacs, each cake is wrapped individually to help prevent contamination from neighboring glutenous goods.
For a corporate chain like Starbucks to carry an alternative-diet pastry is a huge success for Celiacs and other GFers. So next time you pass your neighborhood Starbucks’ (because there’s always more than one, right?), be sure to stop in and give ‘em a chuck on the shoulder for being a forerunner in the gluten-free movement.
photo courtesy of starbucks.com
We’re huge fans of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) around these parts. As a flour, the flavor is mildly nutty — neutral enough to incorporate well into many baked goods, and the whole grain is friendly toward all sorts of accompaniments, including kale, corn, and cheese. Last night we had the pictured quinoa fritters with corn for dinner. Just one word: YUM!
To make them:
1 cup red quinoa
1 1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large scallions, sliced thinly
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons quinoa flour (or substitute brown rice flour)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ears corn, kernels cut off
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
To prepare quinoa:
Put water, quinoa and butter or olive oil in a medium pot. Mix in salt, 1/4 cup cilantro, green onion, and seasonings. Bring to boil over high heat, then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.
To prepare fritters:
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, flour and olive oil. Add slightly cooled quinoa, corn, and 1/4 cup cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat a large, nonstick skillet and 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Drop quinoa mixture into hot pan by large spoonful, shaping into individual patties. Fry until lightly browned on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining quinoa mixture.
Serve over salad greens with fresh salsa, avocado and sour cream.
Based on the picture on the label of this mystery flour, what we’re dealing with here is plantain, soy and corn flour. I imagine a substance not dissimilar to cornmeal, though it appears to be ground much finer, and because of the presence of plantain, it must be quite a bit starchier.
This single, humble sack of mezclarina comes to us courtesy of Heather’s sister who was recently traveling in Guatemala and – a GFer herself – scouted out some of the more interesting gluten free ingredients. Yay for Rae!
Now what to do? What to cook? I’m envisioning thick, handmade tortas as an underpinning for slightly sweet stewed meats and lots of fresh oregano. Or perhaps the flour would come together nicely enough to make a tamale casement? I would wager this flour would even compliment a sweet dessert just fine; I’m thinking a coconut custard with ripe wedges of plantain, freshly whipped cream, and a drizzle of cajeta?
Now’s the time, fans of The Lab. Give us your input, let us know if you have delicious musings for this single, precious sack of mezclarina. I promise, you’ll be the first to know the results…although we can’t promise to give all of ya a taste.
Last weekend our girl-pup Charlie spent a night with the grandparents. It’s no easy job taking a 6 month-old puppy into one’s home, and to ease the pain a bit I assembled all of the goods for tostada assembly: crispy tostada shell, fresh queso fresco, meats (antelope, if you must know) in tomato onion sauce, greens – including cilantro – and spicy yogurt crema.
That way, when the grand-dog-ter turned into a wild hound right about dinner time, tostadas were easy to throw together…even with a wild beast underfoot.
I had the pleasure of dining at Diavola Pizzeria in Geyserville recently. Geyserville is just north of Healdsburg and the old brick buildings and small town feel will charm your pants off, totally worth the drive. Our waitress, Kat, was adorable and the kind of person you want to sit down and dine with you…i told her i was gluten intolerant and that i had some questions about the menu and it turned out that she is also GF! Her knowledge and assistance made for a delicious meal that she put together for me via suggestions and a few substitutions. But the most exciting part of the evening was that she said they would soon have a gluten free pizza on their menu!!! hooray for us and thank you Diavola!
Even the best of us get lazy. And while this is not exactly a lazy-girl’s dessert recipe, it’s a pretty simple throw-together dessert. Its punch of delicious flavor is mostly thanks to in-season berries that, when paired with a delicate shortcake and freshly whipped cream, deliver a wallop of flavor and texture in one very humble mouth. This is the only dessert my husband actually believes is worth fighting for (usually I have desserts all to myself, but seeing as this is his favorite he puts up a decent fight over who gets the last piece).
To make this (and I recommend you do – and soon! – before berries are out of season):
2 1/4 cups Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
6 ounces fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make shortcake*
Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small squares and mix into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture resembles grains of rice. Add milk and beaten egg, stirring until the dough just comes together. Drop by heaping spoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet, making 8 shortcakes. Bake 15-17 minutes or until lightly brown all over.
To make berries
Place sliced strawberries and all of blueberries into a medium airtight container. Add sugar, stir to coat, and let berries sit in refrigerator until macerated, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
To assemble shortcakes
First whip the cream by beating heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer. Slice each shortcake in half. Spoon a scant 1/8 of the berry mixture onto the bottom piece of shortcake. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream, then the top piece of shortcake, and a small dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with a candle, mint, more berries or a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder.
*Adapted from Pamela’s recipe for scones.
we are knee deep in recipe development at the lab and sometimes i can’t believe that i of all people am developing recipes. i can’t follow a recipe to save my life, so writing one is a challenge, but i am applying all my focus to the task. even though the recipes i turn in to editor molly are scratched out, stained and coated in rice flour, my results are generally delectable; which just goes to show you that anyone can cook! my most recent assignment: muffins and scones.
the apple spice muffins were a success…very proud of self. they were moist and light and are the perfect base for any fruit. i chose apples because i had them…and because the blackberries that i wanted to use required me to take out a small loan to purchase them.
then there was the scones…total flop.
they were crunchy – like audibly crunchy – and burnt on the bottom, yet really chewy on the inside, but all the while totally flat. like dense and compacted flat. nothing about any of those characteristics says scone to me. but they redeemed themselves in the flavor department. my poor scones, i think they’d feel more comfortable in the biscuit family.
moral of the story…gluten free baking is not easy, it’s a science experiment. so after discussing with aly, the gf baking maven in my world, we came up with some changes to the recipe and i’m gonna give it another go. i will throw on my apron, head back into the kitchen and get those scones to rise up. and don’t feel bad for the biscuit-scones, they all got eaten, because you don’t throw away gf goods. You just don’t.
The Gluten Free Lab has been busy, busy, busy! We’re developing recipes for our cookbook, and that means we’ve been eating a whole lot of goodness. And sometimes not-so-goodness. Last night, though, was an evening of recipe testing that made me want to dance around the room waving my arms in the air like I just don’t care. I created fish ‘n’ chips. AND IT WAS GOOD.
The batter for the fish was light in texture, and it delivered a satisfying crunch on every bite – no soggy fish here! Underneath the crunch was just enough chew to offset the flakiness of the fish. Better yet, I discovered that the leftover batter was good when fried around all sorts of things: onions, potato wedges, chocolate (just kidding). This recipe’s a keeper.