Archive for December, 2009
Oh, gosh, those persimmons.
I have some sort of a mental block when it comes to eating them. They’re delicious, a mellow honeyed-vanilla flavor all wrapped up in a vibrant orange package. But I don’t eat them. They sit on my counter for weeks until finally they’re too ripe to use and I end up tossing them in the compost. Worm food. But today I’ve resolved to make something out of them. Persimmon bread. With walnuts. And I’m hoping it will be delicious.
I’m using the Hachiya persimmon. Slightly elongated in shape and pointed at the tip, the fruit needs to be soft as jelly when you use it, and I’ve read in several places that a ripe Hachiya feels like a full water balloon (whaddaya know, I always thought they were rotten!). The recipe I created on the fly called for 1 cup of mashed pulp, so I scooped out the jelly-like flesh from the peel, mashed it with a potato masher (I could’ve used a blender, but then I would’ve had to wash it, thus the potato masher) and mixed it into my batter. Here’s how to make your own:
3/4 cup almond meal (we like Trader Joe’s Just Almond Meal)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup millet flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 large Hachiya persimmons, pulp scooped out of skin & mashed, about 1 cup
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan or 4 mini-loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together almond meal, brown rice flour, potato starch, millet flour, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add mashed persimmons, then eggs, then yogurt, stirring to combine after each addition. Mix in dry ingredients all at once, stirring just until combined. Add walnuts and stir to combine.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until dark brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. For mini-loaf pans, bake 40-50 minutes until dark brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan on wire rack.
Around these parts, persimmon trees are on nearly every block of the old neighborhoods. Come autumn and winter, the vibrant orange fruit hangs from bare limbs, a last-ditch effort before going dormant. It feels a shame to let such a versatile and delicious fruit go to waste in smooshed patties of orange slime that make an ordinary sidewalk a challenge in dexterity, coordination and limberness. So we ask you, readers, what do you like to do with persimmons? Recipes are welcome.
photo by Heather Irwin of BiteClub Eats
For your baking (and eating!) pleasure, The Gluten Free Lab would like to share with you one of our very favorite cookie recipes from our upcoming cookbook. Use it, love it, share it, and keep in touch with us as we continue to develop, edit and hone our cookbook recipes!
. . .
Garam Masala Snickerdoodles
This soft and crackly classic is made sophisticated and exotic with the unexpected use of garam masala – an Indian spice blend of primarily cinnamon and clove – and fits perfectly into the repertoire of traditional holiday flavors. If you don’t have this spice blend handy, combine 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon clove, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper. Or just use cinnamon to make the traditional version.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons garam masala
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon GF vanilla
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup white rice flour
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet. Combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the garam masala in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter and the remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Add egg, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Gradually add brown rice flour, almond meal, and white rice flour, stirring until well combined.
Form mixture into 1-inch balls, roll in garam masala mixture, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until set but still soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet then transfer to an airtight container for storage.
Congratulations to all three of you who entered, Janine, Shannon and Melissa, you’ll be getting a GF snackpack filled with fun and delicious GF products mailed to you, hoooorayyyy! Please email us at theglutenfreelab[at]gmail[dot]com with your full name and contact information.
And your recipes excite us. Stay tuned – we’ll be whipping up your fave dishes, photographing them & sharing them with the world!
Quick! Only a few hours left to enter our holiday snackpack giveaway! May Lady Luck be with you.
Celiac Disease News is an electronic newsletter that highlights activities of the NIH Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign, as well as new developments in celiac disease education and research. Visit the website for more information, or subscribe here to receive the free quarterly e-newsletter.
It’s pretty clear that GF is going mainstream. General Mills, the food company behind products such as Chex cereals, Fruit Roll-Ups, Lärabar and Betty Crocker cake mixes, has amassed a surprisingly complete collection of GF products. Check the gluten-free specific portion of their website for more details, gluten-free product lists and recipes (mmm, I can’t wait to try the turtle brownies!).
Not long ago, gluten-free pizza was hard to come by. We’ll call that the Dark Ages. And it was during the Dark Ages that I developed my own gluten-free pizza crust recipe, which nearly made all of my pizza-dreams come true (all that was missing was a chef and a dish fairy to clean up afterwords). Soon after, a small amount of light began to dawn when I saw that my grocer started carrying Amy’s Kitchen Rice Crust Pizza. And that was followed by a larger beam of sunshine when Mary’s Pizza Shack began serving Still Riding Pizza. A restaurant! Serving GF pizza! But these days it’s like high noon on summer solstice, because there are some surprisingly viable – and convincing – dining-out GF pizza options out there, among them the brand-spanking new restaurant in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square, Jackson’s Bar and Oven.
Today The Lab put Jackson’s to the test. The restaurant is an upscale down-home eatery, a place you could go to linger over a shared pizza on a date with your sweetie, or to protein-pack a burger & fries before your kids’ soccer game. The menu is somewhat limited for GFers, but who are we kidding here. We went for the pizza.
The menu did not disappoint. We had our choice of any of the pizzas offered with a very reasonable $2 upcharge for the GF crust, and after much inner-debate – because I pull hard for a mushroom pizza, and the Mixed Mushroom pizza sounded delish – I settled on the special of the day, a Breakfast Pizza with slices of fingerling potatoes, chunks of smoked applewood bacon, mozzarella, tomato, and a cracked egg.
It’s a traditional sink-your-teeth-into-it pizzeria-style pizza that took me back to grade-school pizza parties (in a really, really good way). It measured about 10 inches and came to the table uncut, a little detail I enjoyed, as I could ration my bites and the topping proportions. The texture of the crust is one of the pizza’s most winsome qualities: Spongy and doughy are words I thought I’d never use again in conjunction with a GF food, but lo & behold, this crust is decidedly spongy. AND doughy. The flavor of the crust has a subtle earthiness to it that we traced back to garbanzo bean flour. This is a crust that could be totally overlooked as a GF product, and that is a screaming success as far as we’re concerned.
The biggest surprise of all? The crust is made from Bob’s Red Mill GF flour mix. In our convo with owner Josh Silvers, he said that in the time he spent with his head chef experimenting with different GF pizza dough recipes, Bob’s was the one they actually liked best, especially when given the added boost of being cooked in a wood-fired oven.
Here are the technical details: the kitchen isn’t certified GF. The GF dough is handled with care, and the cooks use a separate rolling pin and surface area when they’re making the dough. The wood-fired oven is brushed carefully before a GF pizza is cooked, but use caution if you’re extra-sensitive. This is a pizza place, folks. There’s some ambient wheat flour about.
But what I want to know is this: Would it be too much to order a GF pizza for dinner and then follow it up with a Nutella pizza for dessert? Whatever the answer, I love that it’s an option.
Gluten-free bakers have a lot of flours to contend with. Just within the starch family alone The Lab generally has four options on hand, including potato, tapioca, corn and arrowroot. So imagine how our cupboards runneth over!
Not long ago I made the decision to put all of my miscellaneous bags of flour into stacking airtight containers, which helps keep my cupboard relatively tidy. However, it didn’t even occur to me to make labels to put ON the containers to help distinguish amaranth from sorghum; brown rice from millet (me! a graphic designer! the shame!).
Thus, we want to extend our hearts and our thanks to domestifluff for designing these super-cute, super-useful and super-organized labels for the piles of flours we keep on hand. With all the time we’ll save rifling through a cupboard full of half-full bags of flours we’ll be able to mix up a celebratory cocktail to go with that batch of chocolate brownie cookies!
Good ol’ Betty Crocker. She’s always got her fingers on the pulse of what the people want. I’ve been an admirer of her gluten-free mixes for some time, now, but I’ve never had the impulse to try one. But the impulse hit last week while I was grocery shopping & I threw a mix into my cart. Who knew when I would actually have a chance to make it, though…
Meanwhile, here I am cooking a million different dishes for my annual White Elephant party. I’ve got beans soaking, meat stewing, crudités cut, dips whipped, coconut milk warmed & sweetened & cooling. And I’m wearing my red apron, the one that says “Betty Crocker” across the front. When I get to the next item on my cooking to-do list, the coconut tart with macadamia nut crust, I pull out the ingredients & say a medium-bad word when I realize I’m missing one very important ingredient: gelatin. Since time was short, I opted against fixating on the mistake and instead accepted the inspiration my apron offered. It told me to go with Betty Crocker. So I pulled that cake mix out of my cabinet and proceeded to ignore the instructions on the back of the box.
Well, not entirely. The recipe calls for water, butter and eggs, and since one of my party-goers is lactose intolerant, I got creative with a butter substitution. One-third cup applesauce and 1/4 cup Coco López (that sweet coconutty stuff you find in the liquor aisle of your grocery store; you might use it to blend up a pitcher of piña coladas) ought to do it! The cake was moist and chocolatey, and I didn’t need to make ANY excuses that it was gluten-free and dairy-free (because who really needs to know?!). I whipped up some sweetened coconut milk in my iSi cream whipper, spread that between the two 8″ layers, topped the cake off with a generous pile of more whipped coconut milk then dusted the top with unsweetened cocoa powder.
So while I can’t tout the merits of Betty’s cake mix on its own, I can say this: it behaved wonderfully and predictably despite the changes I made to the ingredients. And even better? My guests, who all know I’m GF, made a point to say, “I can’t believe it’s gluten-free!”