Posts filed under ‘the science of it’
Peter H.R. Green, M.D., Director, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, is the author of Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, and is one of a few physicians in the United States with intense clinical and academic interest and expertise in celiac disease. He spoke at the UC San Francisco Medical Center on November 11, 2010 on new findings about celiac disease. Click here to view the video on the North Bay Celiacs’ website.
About a month ago, The Lab’s presence was requested for lunch. If you know us very well at all, you can probably predict our response, which was, in essence, “Say no more. We’re there!” This was a lunch hosted at the renowned Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates in Santa Rosa, Calif. But it was no ordinary lunch meeting. It was an olive oil tasting; a delicious 3-course lunch prepared by KJ’s own Chef Eric; a gluten-free brainstorming session; a get to know the team responsible for taking what was once part of the wine-making wastestream and upcycling it into usable – no, strike that – deliciously edible oils and flours. This forward-thinking team is SonomaCeuticals. In part with a well-chosen group of scientists ranging from chemists to food scientists hearkening from Napa Valley College and U.C. Davis, the aim is to make the most of the wine-making process, and that means thinking outside the wine bottle. As it turns out, the wine-making process creates a lot of desirable “waste,” from which essential oils, cosmetics with a naturally high SPF factor, naturally soothing cremes that suppress yeasts (buh-bye diaper rash!), dies, flours, cooking oils, and paper products can be made.
Maybe you’ve run across Marché Noir Foods in Los Angeles, Calif., who, for the past decade, has been peddling (literally – check out their sweet culinary cruiser with mini kitchen sidecar!) Cabernet Sauvignon flour as well as a selection of pastas, brownies and other baked goods made with Cab flour, but there’s still a lot of room for growth in this product industry, especially here in wine country where wine waste is one. big. giant. glut.
With that knowledge in the fronts of our minds, we jumped right into tasting the 8 varietals of grapeseeed oils including White Reisling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon. We all know that olive oil can range in flavor, and that coconut oil is a completely different experience from avocado oil. But grapeseed oil? C’mon, how much can one varietal differ from another? A lot, we discovered. As we tasted, we realized that the flavors ranged wildly. Some were nutty (Reisling), others were buttery (Chardonnay), still others were grassy (Zinfandel) and mushroomy (Syrah). Most surprising was the sweet, tropical-bordering-on-banana flavor profile of Pinot Noir.
(can’t you just see us rubbing our greedy little baking mitts together in anticipation of trying out some of these oils in the kitchen?)
With a new understanding of everything that grapeseed oil can be, we began our discussion of what grapeseed flour can contribute to the gluten-free market. Since many of the grapeseed flours are still being created and undergoing testing, we weren’t able to try each of the flour varietals the way we were able to test the oils, but the entire 3-course lunch incorporated Pinot Noir grapeseed flour. We weren’t complaining:
Pinot Noir grapeseed flour bread
Crusty exterior, soft and airy in the middle with a defined cell structure. Real bread!
Liberty duck breast with wild rice cake, mustard greens with shallots, herb duck sauce
Crispy-skinned duck over wilted mustard greens atop an earthy, nutty rice cake (think small pancake with whole grains of rice within).
Pork chop with fennel apple salad, braised cabbage and handmade strozzapreti pasta from pinot noir grapeseed flour
Bone-in pork chop over a bed of perfectly toothy pinot noir grapeseed pasta. It’s been a really long time since we’ve had fresh pasta and we probably could’ve eaten an entire bowl of this stuff. Not just because it’s been so long, but because the flavor and texture of fresh-made pasta was remarkably authentic.
Dark chocolate souffle with warm créme anglaise
Served warm and high with a generous pour of créme anglaise.
In the near future, you’ll be able to have your own experience of WholeVine Products’ grapeseed flours, oils and cookies. Until then, the best way to wrap your tastebuds around some of these tantalizing flavors is to book a Wine and Food Pairing over at Kendall-Jackson. Be sure to mention you’re interested in the gluten-free pairing. They’re well-equipped to handle this request, whether you’re restricted by a gluten-free diet or not. Plus, you’ll be able to have your own experience of these new flours and flavors.
To Chef Eric and the entire team who hosted lunch: we thank you for a thoughtful menu and the opportunity to taste some of the products that are yet to hit retailers’ shelves! Keep us posted, we’re eager to see your progress. Consider our tastebuds tantalized.
While this article doesn’t say anything explicitly about how autism often intersects with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, it does present a fascinating new topic of clinical research over at UCSF, which aims to expose whether a certain subset of autistic kids would benefit from a regular enzyme dose. The hope is that this enzyme would help autistic kids “digest proteins, which may in turn improve their brain function and ease some symptoms of their disease.”
“Some studies have shown that autistic children are more likely than healthy children to have gastrointestinal problems, and that a certain subgroup of autistic kids have enzyme deficiencies. But whether those problems cause autism or are just another symptom of the disease isn’t known for sure.”
It’s worth a read and a followup once these studies have cranked out some results.
Do you know Christopher Kimball (pictured above)? Well, not personally, I mean, but do you know who he is? Because I sure like him, and I’d like for you to like him too.
There’s this great cooking magazine called Cooks Illustrated and, yup, you guessed it: Christopher Kimball is the founder, editor and publisher of said magazine. In a nutshell, this magazine features America’s Test Kitchen, a powerhouse of chefs who test, taste, dissect and re-test common recipes in order to find THE. BEST. WAY. to make the recipe in question. It’s worth a peek.
But back to Kimball, I’ve always admired how frank he is, and his writings are deceptively simple. Though he writes about food, I’d file him alongside some of the greatest storytellers and novelists (I’ll refrain from naming names, else this turn into a literary discussion).
In honor of millet month, I thought The Lab should give Kimball an opportunity to share with us the basics of cooking grains. As written by Christopher Kimball:
. . .
The problem with cooking grains is that they often turn out mushy and tasteless.
Cooking grains is also difficult because the type of grind (coarse, medium or fine) can dramatically affect the outcome — coarse-grain bulghur is cooked very differently than the finer grinds.
I set out to find a preparation method that was both universal and which turned out distinct, flavorful grains every time.
I started off cooking grains like rice. One cup of grain was placed in a pot with 2 cups of boiling water and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, reduced to a low simmer, covered and cooked for 10 to 20 minutes.
I found that the grains did not cook up light and separate; I often ended up with a sticky mass. I tried an old Chinese method of cooking rice, which is to boil it. I used 1 cup of grain in 6 cups of boiling water, reduced the water to a steady simmer, and cooked uncovered for 10 to 12 minutes. I poured the grain and water into a fine colander and let it sit for 10 minutes, finishing by fluffing with a fork.
The results were excellent; light, distinct grains with no starchy exterior. (Never stir grains while they are cooking. This will rupture the cells and create a starchy, sticky dish.)
My guess is that the extra water helps to dilute the starch that is leeched out of the grains while cooking, yielding a less sticky end product. This method does not work for kasha nor medium and fine bulghur, which are both prepared by different methods.
I also found that if the grains were dry roasted or sautéed prior to cooking, the flavor was enhanced considerably. To dry roast, simply add the grain to an ungreased pan and place over medium heat. Shake or stir the pan continuously for 3 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from heat before the grains turn too dark and start to burn.
When cooking grains, you may substitute chicken, beef or vegetable stock for half or all of the water called for in the recipe. As a rule, I suggest replacing no more than half of the water with stock so that the delicate flavor of the grains is allowed to shine through. I also suggest that you use a low-sodium stock if you buy it canned — the full-strength commercial stocks are extremely salty.
For those of you not familiar with the basic grains, here is a quick primer [ed note: we went ahead and removed the glutenous grains from this list; figured the info would be a moot point]:
Millet: Millet is not strong-flavored and is a small, yellow grain which often retains some crunch even after cooking. It cooks up into very small but separate kernels which maintain their texture after cooking. Usually sold whole.
Quinoa (pronounced “keen wha”): The grains are relatively small and look like tiny, light-colored pearls and are crunchy when cooked. Be sure to rinse quinoa before cooking as the kernels contain an outer coating of saponin, a natural insect repellent, which leaves a bitter aftertaste. Usually sold whole.
Cooking time for dry-roasting grains
Grains were dry roasted in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Quinoa: 4 minutes
Millet: 3 minutes
Master Recipe for Grains
Makes 3 cups
This recipe works fine for quinoa and millet. You may substitute up to half of the water with chicken or vegetable stock. See chart below for cooking times.
1 cup quinoa or millet
6 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Rinse grain in a colander. Bring the water and salt to a simmer. Add grain and reduce heat to a steady simmer. Cook for the times shown in the chart below. Pour into a sieve or fine colander and let drain for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Cooking times for basic grains
The cooking times below are to be used with the Master Recipe for Grains above.
Quinoa: 10 minutes
Millet: 12 minutes
Christopher Kimball is the founder and editor of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, based in Brookline. He is the author of “The Cook’s Bible,” (Little Brown; New York, NY; 1996).
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already leading a gluten-free life. Have you noticed that you’re hearing about more and more people who also have allergies or intolerance to gluten-containing grains? In fact, Dr. Tom O’Bryan, expert on gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease, found that 77% of patients who walked into his Chicago clinic had elevated anti-bodies to gluten! Fortunately, both food companies and restaurants are responding: every month, there are new gluten-free products in grocery stores and on menus.
The question is: why the increase in gluten allergies?
There are many factors involved here, but one of the main issues is that our digestive tracts and immune systems are overexposed to gluten. We all know people who eat wheat at every meal (think bagel for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner). When our gut is overexposed to a particular food – especially a hard-to-digest protein like gluten – our body can start mounting an immune response to this food. Compounding this problem is that we are only eating a very few varieties of wheat today, due to big “agribusiness,” versus the many varieties of wheat our ancestors used to grow and eat.
Another reason for the increase in gluten sensitivities and allergies is poor digestion. Many of us are deficient in hydrochloric acid – which our body needs in order to digest protein – and/or digestive enzymes, and therefore we’re not able to completely break down proteins like gluten. The poorly digested protein molecules then make their way down into the intestines. If the intestinal lining is unhealthy and inflamed, these large molecules pass through the gut lining to the bloodstream, where they’re seen as “invaders” and the immune system reacts, causing a wide range of unpleasant symptoms.
It doesn’t help that food scientists have genetically altered wheat to increase the gluten content (that’s why bagels are so yummy and chewy). More gluten = harder to digest. Yikes.
Besides the undesirable symptoms, the problem with gluten allergy/intolerance is that it can lead to Celiac disease. Celiac disease can eventually lead to auto-immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, painful nerve conditions such as carpal tunnel and sciatica, & more.
. . .
Guest blogging by Julie Halpin, Certified Nutrition Consultant. Julie works with individuals and groups in the areas of weight management, digestive health, and cleansing/detoxification. She and her husband are both happily GF.
The Gluten Free Lab is excited to introduce a new facet of our interactions with the world! This coming March, we are slotted to teach a class at the über-hip Relish Culinary Center in Headlsburg. Join us for our Baking with Alternative Flours class where we’ll share our years of gluten-free baking experience with you. We will share invaluable information about the characteristics of our favorite and most cost-effective gluten-free flours, special additives such as xanthan gum, and the best substitutes for everyday cooking tasks like dredging, breading, making gravy and thickening sauces, demonstrating a cheese sauce. Then our hands-on participants will make yeast dough for cinnamon rolls and quick banana bread. While those goodies are baking, we’ll shift to making four different batches of sugar cookies—same recipe, different flours—followed by a side-by-side tasting of all the baked goods right out of the oven. Each participant will leave with a comprehensive list of gluten free flours and their properties, experience baking with the most common types of flours, and a better understanding of which flours suit his/her personal preference. Just look at everything we’ll taste!
- Mac & Cheese
- Sugar Cookies made with four different flours (rice, soy, garbanzo and buckwheat)
- Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
- Banana Chocolate Swirl Bread
- “Schwag” bag of gluten-free goodies
Sign up quick! This class is sure to fill up fast.
Sunday, March 7
Relish Culinary Center, Healdsburg
Note: The Relish Culinary Center is not a certified gluten-free cooking environment. Ingredients with gluten will not be used in the class but the environment may contain trace amounts. Dairy products (butter and/or cheese) will be used in all recipes.
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.
I was testing out a loaf of bread the other day & ran out of starch. It was simply not an option to run up to the grocery store seeing as I had a fine dusting of various flours on my brow and a mixture of eggs, butter, molasses, yeast & other goodies working away in the stand mixer. Since buckwheat has inherently sticky properties I thought I’d try using it as a substitute for half of the starch quantity. The other half came from instant mashed potato flakes. [Kids, don't underestimate the value of those instant potato flakes in your cupboard! They're a great add-in to waffle batter – savory or sweet.]
Long story short: it rose, it baked, it cooled, it was delicious with creamy butter & homemade plum jam.
And despite its deceptive moniker, buckwheat is indeed a gluten-free grain, but, like oats, it can easily be contaminated by shared machinery or nearby glutenous crops. To be safe, put a call in to the manufacturer and ask the important questions GFers know to ask: do you share equipment with wheat products? is your product certified gluten-free? And for more information, check out this great resource that discusses in great detail the details of the one humble grain known as buckwheat.
Today I’m making dinner for my dad. It’s Father’s Day on our own time, and we chose an evening that we could linger over great wine and food, allowing the conversation to meander where it might. Nevermind the puppy biting at our ankles (and a little tid-bit about that here). Long, warm summer evenings only come once a year and every one of them must be celebrated!
So in planning my menu for this evening I came across a delicious-looking blueberry streusel cake in Gourmet Magazine‘s current issue. Talk about YUM! The blueberries anchor the cake at the bottom, all oozey and gooey, and the streusel topping is about two-thirds of the overall height of the cake. With the well-stocked GF pantry I keep, I knew I’d be able to whip up something delicious, AND totally gluten free. I also thought it would be a good way to show the process of converting a traditional recipe to a GF recipe.
Here’s where that left me:
Blueberry Streusel Cake
For Streusel Topping
[ here the recipe called for 1 cup all-purpose flour. the first four dry ingredients below are my substitutions.]
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 t xanthan gum
1 T plus 1 t packed dark brown sugar
1 T plus 1 t granulated sugar
3/4 t cinnamon
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
[again, you'll note the all-purpose flour substitution in the first four ingredients]
1/4 cup quinoa flour (or substitute GF oat flour if you can’t find quinoa)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 t xanthan gum
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 t GF vanilla extract
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 lb blueberries (about 3 1/4 cups)
Accompaniment: Sweetened whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line bottom and sides of pan with foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides. Butter bottom and sides of pan, then dust with rice flour, knocking out excess.
Make streusel topping: Stir together flours, xanthan gum, sugars, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture forms large clumps.
Make cake: Whisk together flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and beat until well blended. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with sour cream mixture and mixing until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top. Crumble half of topping evenly over batter. Bake 25 minutes, then remove from oven and crumble remaining topping evenly over cake. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes more. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Lift out cake using foil and cool completely on rack.
What have we learned? A well-chosen combination of GF flours will make any traditional recipe one worth keeping in your recipe books! My rule of thumb is to keep the porportions roughly one-third starch to two-thirds other flours. Now go! Play! Mix! And if you mess up the results are rarely so bad that you can’t enjoy them with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top.
The Gluten Free Lab consists of three women living fabulous lives. One has celiac disease. One is allergic to wheat. One eats wheat unabashedly but admittedly grows lethargic and bloated after eating a bowl of straight pasta. We totally get that not everybody can handle wheat. We also get that there are some subtle nuances of how our bodies are affected by wheat & thought that might be a good topic to share.
There are three basic divisions in the body’s intolerance of wheat & gluten. Most severe is celiac disease. This is a permanent intolerance of the gluten protein that, when gluten is ingested, causes the body to attack itself. Imagine this: You swallow a bite of pizza (here comes the gluten!). As the proteins in the pizza are broken down and the gluten is absorbed into the intestines, the gluten protein does damage to your intestinal wall. The damage caused by the gluten then allows it into your bloodstream where those same gluten proteins are attacked as foreign agents. This leads to further damage of the intestinal villi (the little hairs in your intestines that help you absorb nutrients) and, all of a sudden, the body is at a disadvantage and has a hard time absorbing necessary nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and calories. Before our very own HP was diagnosed with celiac disease, she was put on a strict diet of Saltine crackers and Cream of Wheat while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with her. Ironic that those very “mild” foods were the very thing causing her to starve to death. It was the overload of gluten proteins that prevented her body from absorbing any nutritional value from her food.
Not as severe as celiac disease is a wheat allergy. In a wheat allergy, the body has a reaction to the consumption of gluten, ranging from skin & mouth rashes, to inflamed lungs sometimes resulting in wheezing, inflamed lips, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Somehow, a wheat allergy affects a different branch of the immune system, NOT the same branch as celiac disease.
Last is the milder case – but no less serious! – of gluten intolerance, which has nothing to do with the immune system. Rather, the body has a difficult time digesting gluten proteins and causes symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain and/or diarrhea. These symptoms generally pass as the food does. Gluten intolerance is akin to lactose intolerance, or the body’s difficulty in processing dairy.
Why does it even matter from which of these afflictions you suffer? Wheat is wheat, and you’re not supposed to eat it, right? Well, sort of. It really matters most for those who have celiac disease, because those folks are in danger of other health problems since the ingestion of gluten may cause them to develop some nutritional deficiencies. Common health issues include thyroid disease, type I diabetes, joint disease, liver disease, anemia and osteoporosis. Yikes! But never fear. Eat well. Eat healthy. You’re not missing a single thing.