Archive for March, 2011
Well this is pretty cool: Not only are we sharing this link to a cookbook that uses off-the-shelves gluten-free cake mixes as its primary ingredient, but its writeup offers a practical play-by-play review of how the cookbook works in a real baker’s kitchen! Neat concept, right? It’s almost as if you get to try before you buy…and in the case of a cookbook based entirely on grocery store cake mixes, we might tend to be a little reticent to shell out our hard-earned dollars. “Turns out, especially if you’re new to the world of gluten free flours, xanthum gums, arrow root powders, and substitute after substitute, this book could be your life saver. The one thing that Byrn certainly does, is take the guesswork out of baking gluten free.”
This culinary mash-up features the book The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free: Classic Cakes, Cookies, Brownies, Bundts, and Bars by Anne Byrn, and is put to the test by Sonoma County caterer, blogger & pastry chef Meloni Courtway. We recommend hopping on over to BiteClub Eats to read the full review. Because you can never judge a book by its cover!
Heads up my GF tea drinking friends because it is true: gluten can lurk where we least expect it: in our cups of tea. Tea nerd alert: tea is actually camellia sinensis, a specific shrub, and herbal teas are typically infusions and do not contain any actual tea. If you stick with straight up tea, you know you are getting a cup of camellia sinensis, whether that tea is black, green, white or oolong. But what if you want a comforting caffeine-free beverage made of an infusion of herbs, flowers, bark and leaves? What could possibly contain gluten in herbal tea?
Cue the scary music: Barley malt is considered unsafe for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity and is used as a sweetener in some herbal teas, such as Yogi Tea’s Stomach Ease. From Valerie Crowley at Yogi Tea: “Barley malt is in only 5 of our 56 flavors of tea. It is in the Calming Tea, Stomach Ease Tea, Fasting Tea, Kava Stress Relief Tea and the Decaf Roast Tea.”
Another tea to look out for is Tazo tea, which is served at Starbucks. Phone calls to two locations in Sonoma County revealed that the baristas were not aware of any gluten in their teas. My super sleuthing led me to learn that Green Ginger filterbags, Tazo Honeybush filterbags, Lemon Ginger juiced tea and Tea Lemonade juiced tea are not gluten free.
Be careful out there and be a gluten detective! Or at least bring your gluten-sniffing dog with you everywhere. Don’t expect your hard working baristas to know; go online, contact companies, and be aware of every ingredient in your cup of herbal tea. Let’s make sure our next cup of tea is gluten free!
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Guest blogging by Janine Acevedo M.E.C.S.E. Janine is a GF mom of a GF kid and works as an early intervention special educator. She is also the San Francisco Early Intervention writer for examiner.com.
You’re probably seeing a lot of hoopla around the GF sector of the internet about The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally, a movement started by Shauna James Ahern (aka The Gluten Free Girl). It’s kinda taking the GF baking world by storm because it so precisely standardizes the results of a recipe. Imagine always making a recipe and having it always turn out! Or following a recipe for the very first time, knowing for certain that it will be amazing and delicious. (Fun fact: Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America, the cookbook a fellow Lab gal got me for my birthday, uses weight measures…and you gotta figure the CIA knows their schtuff!) In essence, the ratio rally is urging folks to eschew their measuring cups in favor of a scale so that gluten-free baking becomes simpler, more reliable, and more flexible.
Measuring flours on the scale is SO easy. Simply watch the digital readout as you pour. Stop when you reach your target weight. Easy-peasy!
Because everybody measures differently (some scoop from the bag; others spoon the flour from the bag into the cup; some level off; others round), results are imprecise. Add to that the unique conditions of your household (dry or humid? warm or cold?) and you have one wide range of possible results for that loaf of bread you’re laboring over! The scale eliminates the spectrum of possibilities by ensuring your brown rice flour weighs in at 60 g. Just like the recipe calls for.
Let’s say you’re out of tapioca starch, but you don’t find that out until you’re mid-way through a recipe, and darnit if you don’t have any in your cupboard. Cooking by ratios allows you to easily sub out said tapioca starch with the same weight of another starch, like potato starch. To once again reference The Gluten Free Girl:
Each gluten-free flour has a different weight per cup. For example, 1 cup of millet flour weighs 120 grams. 1 cup of sorghum flour weighs 127 grams. 1 cup of teff flour weighs 158 grams. 1 cup of sweet rice flour weighs 204 grams. Try substituting potato starch (192 grams per 1 cup) for cornstarch (128 grams per 1 cup) and you will have a heavy baked good, dense and tasting terribly starchy.
With the idea to explore weights more in my usual baking habits, over the weekend the mood struck for a classic cake I used to make waaaaay-hay-haaayyy back in the day before I turned GF. Half chocolate, half vanilla, it’s the perfect snack cake to whip up in the afternoon, or right after dinner. Yup. It’s that quick (and you gotta love that!). Moist and spongy, this gluten-free version never tasted so good.
Black & White Cake
2 teaspoons sweet rice flour
4 tablespoons salted butter
150 g granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons GF vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
30 g tapioca starch (~1/4 cup)
30 g chestnut flour (or substitute same weight of sorghum flour) (~1/4 cup)
35 g sweet rice flour (~1/4 cup)
60 g brown rice flour (~1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
20 g unsweetened cocoa powder (~3 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon GF almond extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray or butter and dust with 2 teaspoons sweet rice flour.
Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high for 30 seconds or until butter melts. Add sugar, stirring with a whisk. Add vanilla and eggs, stir well. Stir in the buttermilk, salt, and baking soda. Place the bowl on your scale, set the tare weight to zero, and set the weight unit to grams (or kilograms, depending on your scale’s settings).
Pour the tapioca starch directly into the egg mixture, watching carefully as the measure reaches 30 g, then set the tare weight back to zero. Repeat with chestnut, sweet rice, and brown rice flour. Stir just until blended (do not overstir). Spread half of batter into prepared pan, then place the bowl back onto the scale, setting the tare weight back to zero. Add 20 g unsweetened cocoa powder and almond extract to remaining batter; stir well with a whisk. Slowly pour the chocolate batter over batter in pan, spreading to ensure full coverage over the vanilla batter.
Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 9 squares and serve.
Way back when (last summer), a couple of members of The Gluten Free Lab went on a trip through the south. They eventually meandered into Colorado where they dined gleefully at Udi’s Pizza Café in Olde Town Arvada, CO. Their lives were never the same.
Because they discovered New Planet Gluten Free Beer. Alas, apart from bringing cases upon cases of this beer home to California, they had to drink what their gullets could gulp and leave the rest behind because New Planet has not been available outside of the fair state of Colorado up to this point.
“At last, people in the Rocky Mountain Region and Midwest States following a gluten-free diet can also enjoy a great tasting craft beer. Boulder, Colorado based New Planet Beer Company offering gluten-free beers are now widely available throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Oklahoma (March), and Nebraska (May) in grocery chains, liquor stores and restaurants. Additional Rocky Mountain Region and Midwest States will soon follow. Our beer locator doesn’t have our new locations listed as of yet, but be on the lookout in your state. We’ll let you know when the beer locator can provide the specific locations.
“Some of you may be asking, ‘What about the rest of the United States?’ We promise that we’re working on it! We have to be able to brew enough guaranteed gluten-free beer for everyone (that’s a lot of beer!), so it takes time to figure that out. We’ll keep you posted on additional states as we add them.
“The good news– we’ll be offering all three styles of our gluten-free beer in the states we expand to.
“Tread Lightly Ale – is a smooth and well-balanced “Pilsner like” style ale with citrus tones and light in body and color. Tread Lightly Ale is made from sorghum and corn extract, orange peel, hops, and yeast. Tread Lightly supports trail restoration.
“3R Raspberry Ale – our award winning raspberry fruit ale has just the right balance of fruit flavor and aroma. 3R Raspberry Ale is made from sorghum and corn extract, natural raspberry puree, orange peel, hops, and yeast. ‘3R’ supports Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – the 3R’s of waste reduction education.
“Off Grid Pale Ale – is a wonderful interpretation of the classic pale ale style. It has a distinctly deep amber color and great character and body. The three varieties of hops provide a wonderful aroma and a citrus and spicy hop flavor. Made from sorghum and brown rice extract, tapioca maltodextrin, caramel color, molasses, hops, and yeast. Off Grid Pale Ale supports alternative energy efforts.”
How’s that for a Friday finishing note?! Happy weekend all!
Well maybe our last post, which announced that Cocoa and Fruity Pebbles are now gluten-free, didn’t speak to you, but surely we all miss the snap, crackle, and pop of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies? C’mon…who doesn’t love the classic rice crispy treat, especially when following our homemade marshmallow and rice crispy treat recipe! Alas, Gluten-Free Rice Krispies are due out late May 2011. Fellow GF blogger, Gluten-Free Optimist, wrote directly to Kellogg’s inquiring about this rumor…read what Kellogg’s had to say about her inquiry here (rest assured, the rumor is true).
The Gluten Free Lab’s penchant for sweets is pretty apparent. If one were to browse through all of the posts we’ve put up over the last couple of years, one might make a pretty solid bet that a majority of the posts are recipes for or product reviews of something sweet. Plus we have a sweets cookbook full of our own delicious gluten-free dessert recipes available for purchase on this website, sooo…yah. We’re sweet on sweets.
But our opinion on “sugar cereal,” as mom used to call it, holds some real weight. Sugar cereal was a treat reserved for special occasions only. Sometimes sleepovers, but always on birthdays. When my birthday rolled around, I would lovingly and lingeringly peruse the cereal aisle, weighing the options of my favorite sugar cereals against the promise of a free prize that may or may not enhance my overall sugar-cereal-eating experience. Since mom was doing the household grocery shopping whilst I made my decision (which generally was a lengthy process), I had a lot of time to weigh my options carefully. I’d finally meet her at the checkstand, my decision firm and my sweet tooth aching. So get ready to hear our inner kids’ cry of “boooo-yea” because two of Post’s classic Pebbles cereals – Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles (introduced to the Post cereal family in 1971, incidentally) – are now gluten-free! As in: this is the only version of this cereal now available. As in: there are no taste compromises Post could see in making this cereal out of entirely gluten-free ingredients in a certified gluten-free facility. As in: we wish it were our birthday yesterday so we could go pick up a box of this cereal and grin ear to ear while eating bowl after bowl (mom: take note!).
We’d say this release of Pebbles (and Pebbles Treats!) significantly ups Team Gluten Free’s score. We still may not be winning, but now we’ve got Fred Flinstone in our corner.
Photo by Karen Friis
Last year the San Francisco Giants made baseball history by winning the world series for the first time since their move from New York to San Francisco in 1957. They were the underdogs; the surprise winners; the group of misfits who pulled together and made. it. happen. Kinda fitting that AT&T Park — the Giants’ home stadium — is hosting the second annual Celiac Disease Awareness Night on Monday, June 6, 2011, because even though it’s become worlds easier to be a Celiac, we’re still the underdogs of society trying to find our own path to health while maintaining our regular interactions with society.
So come celebrate the underdog! Enjoy watching the SF Giants play the Washington Nationals, drink Redbridge beer, snack on Mariposa Bakery goodies, attend a special pre-game party with other Celiacs. It’ll be a darn good time.
Monday, June 6th, 2011
7 o’clock p.m.
AT&T Park, San Francisco, Calif.
contact Karen Friis: kdfriis (at) aol (dot) com
We loooove getting packages here at The Gluten Free Lab! And last week we got two: One from Mama Baretta (more about that soon, stay tuned), and another from TIA’s Bakery, pictured above, which is a gluten-free, soy-free, wheat-free facility out of California making yummy baked goods like peanut butter cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, almond tea cookies, macaroons, grandma’s chocolate cake, strawberry shortcake, german chocolate cake, tropical banana cake, chocolate bean brownie and nana’s orange cake. For starters, this all sounds really good…and what’s more: all of the ingredients are high-quality, all natural, and preservative free, making for rich, flavorful goodies.
We didn’t receive the entire catalog of TIA’s Bakery products (which means we’ll be looking for the rest in our neighborhood grocery stores, ‘cus we want to try EVERYthing. You know. To remain in-the-know.), but here is our recap of the goodies we tried:
Black Bean Brownie
This brownie comes packaged in an individual serving, and the texture is not the typical dense slab of brownie, but rather a lighter — almost mousse-like — experience. Bits of nuts provide an additional layer of texture and flavor, while the coconut flour adds some interesting complexity. Trust us when we say there is absolutely no hint of bean in this black bean brownie!
Grandma’s Chocolate Cake
Inexplicably, this is a vanilla cake frosted with chocolate pudding, and the moment we tasted it we were in heaven. Moist with hints of coconut, and topped off with a perfectly balanced chocolate icing, the sweets-fiend in us wishes we could find this in a full size cake as opposed to the generous single-size serving.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (vegan)
These vegan cookies come in a small box of 5. They have a sort of “raw” vibe in that they’re not a cakey cookie, but rather a dense and moist cookie. Very chewy with lots of oats, and a generous smattering of pecans & raisins.
Peanut Butter Cookies (vegan)
These vegan cookies, like the oatmeal raisin cookies, come in a small box of 5. They are chewy and moist with a mild peanut butter flavor.
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TIA’s Bakery products are available nationally, generally in the freezer section (which is a boon to consumers, because it means we won’t be buying stale products off the shelves!). To find out where to purchase, click here.