Archive for August, 2010
Over here at The Lab (and in northern California), the end of summer = berries. Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries…we see these beautiful specimens en masse at most grocery stores in the area. So the question becomes more than just how to enjoy the berries, it’s what can we put these berries on?
Gourmet magazine, which is, sadly, no longer, has a beautiful cheesecake recipe that features minted blackberries. Since we can’t seem to leave well enough alone, we decided to convert the recipe to gluten-free cheesecake and to sub golden raspberries for blackberries. The result? Deee-lish.
. . .
Cheesecake with minted golden raspberries
adapted from Gourmet’s recipe, cheesecake with minted blackberries, August 2008
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup coarse almond flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown rice flour
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
1/4 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
3 cups golden raspberries (3/4 pound)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
MAKE CRUST: Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with 2 crisscrossed sheets of foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides, then lightly butter foil. Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add flour and almond meal, mixing until combined and dough begins to clump together. Press onto bottom of baking pan with floured fingers. Bake just until a shade darker and edges begin to pull away from pan, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool crust completely in pan.
MAKE FILLING AND BAKE: Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Beat together cream cheese, sugar and flour with cleaned beaters at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add half-and-half, then eggs 1 at a time, mixing until incorporated. Pour filling into crust. Bake in a hot water bath until set 1.5 inches from edge but center is still wobbly, 40 to 45 minutes. (Center will set as it cools.) Transfer pan to a rack and cool completely, about 2 hours. Chill, uncovered, at least 2 hours. Using foil overhang, lift cheesecake from pan and peel off foil before cutting into small rectangles. Serve with macerated berries.
FOR BERRIES: stir together all ingredients in a bowl (raspberries, sugar, mint and lemon juice) and let macerate at room temperature 30 minutes. Berries can be chilled after macerating up to 2 hours.
As we were perusing the internet for interesting tid-bits, we came across Paper & Pigtails: a Kori Clark Designs Blog, which features a very timely, very back-to-school-friendly idea. Free printable stickers and cards for kids with allergies.
Can your kid eat the Snapea Crisps but not the Mixed Nuts? Slap one of these bad boys on the package and they’ll know instantly which after school snack is right for them.
Want to make sure your kid doesn’t eat the wrong things at school? Send them with the card that announces their allergies so that the adults around them can double-check the ingredients. Or, heck, use these in a grown-up household to just add fun and a spot of color to your cupboard! Visit the Paper & Pigtails blog to download the free printable PDFs and find instructions for how to create stickers and cards.
We know, we know. You want to know what the heck dukka is, right? It’s easy to describe what it is, but it’s oh so hard to describe just how good it is.
Dukka is a finely chopped nut and seed blend. It’s commonly used in Middle-Eastern cultures on salads & soups, or it’s mixed with olive oil to create a spread for flatbreads & pizzas.
Sonoma Spice and Seed Co., based in Healdsburg, Calif. created their own version inspired by the wild fennel and almonds of South Australia. Chef Victoria Blumenstein says, “When I settled in Healdsburg and looked around at all the wild fennel I started making my Dukka, and sharing it with new friends and family. Their excited response made me think this was something I could share with all Californians and so Sonoma Spice and Seed Co. was born!”
In The Lab’s own love affair with this nut and seed product (the varities of which, btw, range wildly, from sesame seed and pistachio to macadamia nut and coriander), we put it to the test with some gluten-free flours, and viola! The shrimp with dukka was born…although it is fairly certain we are not the first to pair shrimp with dukka.
Shrimp with dukka
24 large shrimp, with tails on
1/3 cup dukka
2 tablespoons brown rice flour
2 tablespoons potato starch
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
In a small bowl, mix together dukka, brown rice flour, potato starch, parsley and salt & pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Drop shrimp into dukka mixture, turning to coat. Meanwhile, heat your heaviest, largest nonstick skillet over high heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Add coated shrimp to pan, then reduce heat to medium-high. Allow shrimp to cook until breading is golden brown and tails turn pink, about 3 minutes per side.
Serve as hors d’oeuvres or as part of a Mediterranean-inspired salad of fresh greens, halved cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and kalamata olives.
. . .
Make your own dukka or buy some of Sonoma Spice and Seed Co.’s dukka online.
Welcome to Back to School. It’s not always the easiest transition to make, going from lazy summer mornings to rushed get-out-the-door mornings where your kid may or may not have somehow (HOW?!) gotten her hair stuck in bathroom door hinge. But with a little advance preparation, like making these gluten-free instant oats in your own kitchen ahead of time, you’ll remember the school morning routine and have it down pat in no time.
The best part of making instant oatmeal yourself is that you can flavor it however you or your kids like, whether that’s a whole lotta sugar and a scattering of golden raisins, or a nutty combo of pepitas, sunflower seeds and pecans, or just a bit of dry milk powder and honey crystals.
Instant GF oats
12 sandwich baggies
8 c old fashioned rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)
1.5 tsp salt
Combine the oats and salt in a food processor or blender and grind them (in 2 batches if necessary) to the consistency of wheat germ. Scoop ½ cup portions into the separate resealable baggies. Flavor each baggie (try some of the mix-ins that follow) then seal the bags and shake to mix them well. When it’s time to eat them, simply put the contents of one bag into a bowl and stir in 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and let it sit for 3 minutes. Stir again and add a splash of milk if desired.
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon raisins
dash of cinnamon
Brown Sugar Spice
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
dash of each: cinnamon, nutmeg and clove
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped pecans
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon each: chopped dried cherries and apples
Have you heard? Bistro 29 in Santa Rosa, California is now making their buckweat crêpes sans wheat flour! That means you can go, order, and eat just like the rest of the folks in the restaurant: Unabashedly and to contentment.
And, apart from those crêpes we’ve always wanted to try (now we can! yay!), there are plenty of menu items that are gluten-free, just ask your server to be your guide.
Look for happy hour every Wednesday (today!) and Friday from 5-6 p.m. and if you sign up to receive their email newsletters you’ll be kept in the know on their weekly $29 3-course (plus amuse bouche) meal. Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner.
Over the weekend we had a sweet tooth. Now wait a minute! Before you get all cocky thinking that you have The Gluten Free Lab pegged as a bunch of over-sugared girls, just remember that we’re coming down off of our Sweets cookbook and we have to keep at least a base-level of sugar in our systems lest we perish.
Or something like that.
So we dug in to The Pure Pantry’s gluten, dairy, soy, nut and egg-free chocolate chip cookie mix. Except that we made ours with real butter and real eggs, but if you’re a vegan, this mix actually calls for dairy-free shortening and egg replacer, so our guess is that you’d be pleased.
On mixing the dough:
Super simple. In one giant bowl we were able to cream together the butter, egg and vanilla, then we dumped in the mix. Viola! Cookie dough!
On forming the cookies:
This mix calls for a decent amount of fat (e.g. butter, shortening or butter substitute), so it’s wonderful to handle. Doesn’t stick, has a real cookiedough-like consistency, and is easily scooped by the spoonful, formed into balls, and flattened slightly on the cookie sheet.
On baking the cookies:
12 minutes in the oven. ‘Nuff said.
On eating the cookies:
Get ready for a rich, dense and almost caramelly flavor when you bite into one of these bad boys. The Lab’s first man, who is NOT gluten-free, enjoyed eating these because they reminded him of his grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies (aww!). Our professional opinion? The Pure Pantry uses JUST the right amount of brown sugar thus the soft, caramelly success of the cookie.
Buy these at your local grocer (locally, we’ve seen these mixes at Shelton’s, Andy’s, Pacific Markets, and Oliver’s Markets, but try out The Pure Pantry’s store finder to find out who in your area carries their mixes), or order online.
We just love that gluten-free eating has become mainstream. It means that great strides are being made in the flavor, texture and overall deliciousness of off-the-shelf gluten-free products. And it also means that the clients who visit us at our day job headquarters can easily find something to bring us when the mood strikes! Yesterday, Maria brought us banana muffins made from a mix we had yet to try: Breads from Anna‘s Banana Bread mix.
This post is really only a comment on taste & texture since we didn’t actually prepare the muffins ourselves, but we definitely liked what we tasted. The muffins are airy and spongy, with more elasticity than any GF product we can remember having. Barely sweet, they have a whole-grain vibe that is softened by the added mashed banana, and Maria opted to throw in a handful of chopped walnuts, which added a nice crunch to an otherwise soft and spongy bite. Minimal though this taste-test was, we’ll be looking to try all the mix flavors, ranging from Cranberry Pancake & Muffin Mix to Piecrust Mix to Herb Bread Mix. Better yet, these mixes are corn, nut, dairy, soy and rice free.
Buy online directly from Breads from Anna.
Look out world, we’re gluten-free and we’re armed with gadgets! This app for mobile devices is a well-informed database of products, stores and restaurants that you can tap into in order to keep up-to-date with what’s gluten-free and where you can find it.
Browsing the chip aisle in your grocery store and need to know if Baked Lay’s are gluten-free? A quick search on this app will give you the answer. BAM!
Or let’s say you find yourself starving in an unfamiliar town in a very unpromising strip mall. Turns out Baja Fresh has some gluten-free menu items. sha-ZAM!
Gluten Free LifeStyle offers a comprehensive guide to a gluten-free lifestyle with the following features:
Robust Search engine
Search by store, brand or food category
Create and save preference list
Share experiences/advise with others
Keep track of your Grocery Bills.
An interactive social networking component
Have we told you lately how much we love Udi’s Gluten Free Foods? Well, if it isn’t clear already: we. are. in. love. The whole grain and white sandwich breads are a total no-brainer, especially if you are a fan of bread straight out of the package (i.e. no toasting), a spongy texture, and bread that tastes like – wait for it – real bread. And if our lives were a line graph, you’d see a huge spike when we discovered a box of Udi’s products on our doorstep last week. Oh, goody! Let the taste-tests begin.
Cinnamon Rolls: We tried these all ways. Straight from the package, toasted, warmed in the microwave, out of the fridge. The texture is like a hearty pastry, and the cinnamon swirl running through the middle of the roll brings really good flavor to the party. Some of us liked the sweet creaminess of the little icing packets that come with the rolls, and some of us preferred the roll au naturale, while still others enjoyed bringing a little fruit to the party and liberally spreading a split roll with homemade peach preserves (good thing there are three of us so we can agree to disagree on how we like our sweets). It seems clear, though, that no matter how you look at this cinnamon roll, it’s gunna be good.
Double Chocolate Muffins-schmuffins! These puffs of heaven should just be called cake. At least that’s what we felt like we were eating. They’re light and spongy, and when warmed in the microwave they have this ooey-gooey thing going on that’s hard not to love. And once the dessert wheels started spinning we imagined all sorts of possibilities for these so-called “muffins.” Like a double chocolate muffin parfait with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch syrup, for starters.
And then there are the bagels. Chewy and porous (pockets for holding minuscule pools of butter), these are great as an underpinning for scrambled eggs, made into a stacked sandwich with hummus, veggies & turkey, or with lox and schmear.
Last night Aly and I visited gf pizza heaven. One of our gf friends invited us and a few other lovely gf folks up to their spectacular property for a gf pizza dinner.
I’m not gonna lie to you readers, we indulged in numerous games of bocce, drank some good wines and ate gf crackers with dips and cheese pile atop them. But the evening really started to heat up, literally, there was even a heat sensing gun to prove it, when our hosts fired up their outdoor, woodfired oven and Aly made her top secret pizza dough [which will be in the savory digest, once we recover from the sweets digest] into tons of individual pizzas. Plus, plus plus, there was the most incredible topping spread you could ever imagine and we each got to create our own. It really was like pizza heaven. I took full advantage, despite the ridicule, as evidenced in my mile high pizza in the photo above. Our host’s super rad husband baked each one for us as if his life depended on it. He was kinda like the concierge in pizza heaven who’s there to make sure you are pampered and that you get the most out of your stay there. We’re thinking about applying for dual citizenship in real life and gf heaven. Fingers crossed.
Dessert was brought by another guest who is not only gluten free but many things free. She made almond meal based, cherry chocolate cookie ice cream sandwiches. Yes, you read that right. They were 100% delish. She got the recipe from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, which by the by, has some pretty tasty looking recipes in it.
All in all it was an amazing night, despite the fact that I had to unbutton my pants on the way home. Being gluten free, not too shabby when you have friends like we do!