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Tag Archives: Gluten Free

Accidental Gluten Free Beignets

beignet crop2

I was trying to make cannoli. Turns out this particular pastry dough puffs up more than I expected when it’s fried. So I had these poofy cannoli shells, which were way too rich for the cannoli filling. Turns out, coating them with powdered sugar makes them taste like beignets. So I’ve been playing with this recipe for a week now. It’s based off the croissant recipe I got from Gluten Free Gobsmacked.

2 sticks of butter
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon GF cottage cheese
1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon GF cream cheese
1 cup GF Flour*
2 Tablespoons of sweet rice flour
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt (if you use unsalted butter)
¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ teaspoon baking soda
3 Tablespoons sugar

Mix up the dough, roll it out or shape it by hand. If you’re rolling it out, make sure to flour your surface and the rolling pin. Then cut it into rectangles (or whatever shape you want).

I used a sauce pan for the frying, since it has high sides and contains the oil spatter better. You want the frying oil at least an inch deep. I’ve used toasted pistachio oil (which was awesome) and grapeseed oil.  Heat the oil on medium until it’s hot enough to fry the dough (I use a small test piece of dough to be certain). Then start frying up the pieces of dough.

You’ll want to flip the dough over once the bottom portion has turned golden brown. Remove it once both sides are golden brown and place it on a cooling rack covered with paper towels; the paper towels absorb any excess oil.

Use a baking dish (bowl or plate or whatever) filled with powdered sugar to coat the beignets. This seems to work best while they’re quite warm, but not too hot to touch. Coat one side and then flip them over. Or sift more powdered sugar on top.

If you roll the dough thinner and add cinnamon to the powdered sugar, they’re not far off from churros.

 

*I used Glutino/Gluten Free Pantry’s all purpose flour mix.

Best Gluten Free Products I’ve Found

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This list is for a friend who just went gluten free to see if it would help his health. I was telling him about all my favorites and realizing I hadn’t made an updated list. So. (And yes, many of the links below are affiliate links.)

Box Mixes:

I have never found a gluten free cake mix that was okay without doctoring it. All of them require something. The Betty Crockers, at least, are simple. I really dislike the Bob’s Red Mill mixes. Most of them are garbanzo bean based, which is a strong and unpleasant flavor for sweets. Most mixes have corn starch.

Trader Joe’s mixes are mostly from Bob’s Red Mill. So, I avoid them.

Pasta:

  • Jovial Organic Brown Rice Capellini — the only gluten free capellini I’ve liked. All their pastas are good. Wholefoods carries this brand.
  • Schar Gluten Free Anellini — pasta for soup. I use these in place of pastina or acini di pepe. All their pastas are good, but they do have corn (if you’re not avoiding corn, no worries). I’ve seen Schar products at Safeway,Wholefoods, and Nob Hill. But very inconsistent selections.
  • Conte Cheese Ravioli (frozen) — you can order these online, but don’t. Link is only for reference. Wholefoods and some Safeways carry this. Under cook by at least one minute, if you don’t want it falling apart. They have other great frozen pastas.

Cookies:

  • Schar Chocolate Hazelnut Bars — BEST gluten free chocolate wafer cookie out there–by a long shot. I’ve only seen this at Nob Hill or online.
  • K-Toos — best oreo equivalent (most taste like cardboard, this tastes like cookie). Best dipped in milk.
    Wholefoods.
  • Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies — similar to Nantuckets. I like these better, though.
  • Glutino Lemon Wafer Cookies — these are great. Avoid the chocolate ones like the plague. Many stores carry these.

Bread:

  • Udi’s gluten free sandwich bread — take your pick of flavor, but remember to toast the bread. All gluten free bread is better toasted. Lots of grocery stores carry this.
  • gluten-free-ciabattas-plain-largeRudi’s Gluten Free Ciabatta Rolls – I’ve only seen these at one Safeway in Mountain View, but they are far and away the best dinner roll I’ve found. Again, toast them. They are actually the best gluten free bread I’ve found of any kind.

And… there are more, but that’s it for now. I’ll try to do another post continuing the list.

Accidental Brownies — Gluten Free!

I accidentally made brownies the other day… My ex had just brought all my stuff over, so I was feeling like  being a bit self indulgent and decided to make frosting… and failed. Which is ridiculous, because making frosting is easy. But between using a new cocoa powder and overwhipping the butter… the frosting looked more like brownie mix than frosting. And I figured, well, why not?

So I added a few things… and the brownies were awesome. They had a chewy top and corners, but a very soft and rich center. Reminded me of the Ghirardelli mix I used to make in the days of gluten.

 

Accidental Brownies

2 ¼ sticks butter
6 — 8 tbsp cocoa powder
less than a box of powdered sugar*
two eggs
1 cup gf flour
chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Mix butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and vanilla together in food processor or stand mixer.
  • Taste for sweetness (this makes a more bittersweet brownie, if you want it sweeter, add more powdered sugar)
  • Mix in eggs
  • Mix in flour
  • Pour into greased & sugared 9 x 9 pan (I use granulated sugar instead of flour to get a crunchier crust)
  • Bake at 350 for 30 — 40 minutes

 

*”Less than a box of powdered sugar” is my favorite instruction ever from my mom. It usually translates to 3/4 of a box.

How Celiac Became the Disease Du Jour

This is my theory. I make no claims of scientific thoroughness, just some logical extrapolations.

Baby boomers.

Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, so we’re talking about an age range of 48 to 66. The baby boomers are getting older and beginning to hit senior citizenship. Understandably, they’re getting most of the focus of the medical industry at the moment. Things don’t work quite as well as they used to, but they still work well enough that care is optimistic instead of palliative, and people in that age range, on average, are already established. They have health insurance.  They probably have more money than, say, a 22 year old would. So that explains the focus on their generation.

Part 2 of the puzzle has to do with what happened when the baby boomers were kids.

At that time, celiac disease was considered a childhood illness that one could grow out of. Sprue was a more common name then (and that’s what my Grandma still calls it). A fair number of baby boomers were diagnosed with celiac disease; makes sense, the disease hadn’t really been diagnosed before the 1940s. Those children were put on gluten free diets.

After you’ve been on a gluten free diet long enough, your body recovers. It regrows the villi in your intestine. You regain the ability to process other foods (like dairy, which is the first to go when your villi start taking damage).

When the baby boomers were kids, that recovery was considered permanent. So, after a long enough time, the kids were told they no longer had celiac disease and could go back to eating gluten. Because the damage from celiac disease tends to accrue over time, the kids didn’t show immediate severe symptoms.

Not all the symptoms of celiac disease are obvious, hence the appropriately titled Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic. Basically any condition that can be caused by either vitamin deficiency or inflammation can be a result of celiac disease. Doesn’t guarantee that it’s a result of celiac disease, just means that there’s a huge number of potential symptoms. This makes it harder to diagnose.

So we have these kids who have been told they’ve outgrown celiac disease who go back to eating gluten. They develop symptoms that are unpleasant, but not life threatening. What’s more, the symptoms aren’t always the obvious intestinal ones. And because the American medical institution believed for a very long time that celiac disease was ONLY a childhood disease, that means these now-adults weren’t diagnosed with it. It likely didn’t even occur to them or their doctors.

Nifty diagram of Secondary Celiac Symptoms from http://allergiesandceliac.blogspot.com

Instead, the doctors diagnosed them with the secondary conditions that were just symptoms, not the source of the problem. Heart burn? We have medication for that. Hormonal irregularities? We can treat that. Frequent respiratory infections? Happens. And we can treat that, too. Infertility? Well, it’s hard to know what causes that.

But the baby boomers are getting older, and this is when the damage from celiac disease takes a huge toll. Arthritis, osteoperosis, anemia, vitamin deficiencies, depression, neuropathy, fatigue… The body doesn’t have the benefits of youth to offset those symptoms. So the baby boomers go in to their doctors and they demand something be done. So it is.

So, yes. Celiac disease is the latest fad. That doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t real.

Five Gluten Free Cookbooks (that will make your life a lot easier if you’re a celiac)

A few folks have been asking me which gluten free cookbooks they should get (either for themselves or as gifts for someone else). Here are some of the best gluten free cookbooks I’ve found:

  1. Healthy Gluten-Free Cooking: 150 Recipes for Food Lovers – This one is from the Ballymaloe Cooking School in Ireland, and I stumbled across it when I was searching for an Irish Soda Bread recipe. Every recipe I’ve tried from this book has been a success. The Irish Soda Bread recipe is wonderful.
  2. Gluten-Free Baking Classics – The title says it. This book gives you a great and simple overview of how gluten free flours work, where to find them, and what other things (like, say, xanthan gum) you’ll want to have on hand.
  3. The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook – Tons of great recipes in here that work not only for celiacs, but also for anyone on a low carb diet. If you sub honey in place of agave nectar, you can adapt many of these recipes for SCD, too. It would also probably work well for paleo diet folks. (The author has recently gone paleo, and she has a website with tons of additional recipes).
  4. The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free – Confession, I don’t own this one. I own the original gluten-full version, but lordy do I lust after this one. It has great ratings on Amazon (4.5 stars from over 50 reviews). The original was wonderful and it looks like this one will be, too.
  5. Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet – This book is the bible of SCD, and it’s a good one. It’s not aimed specifically at celiacs (although the diet was originally developed to treat celiac disease) but it has great recipes. The pizza crust in this one remains my absolute favorite of the various recipes and mixes I’ve tried.
Five great books, and there are dozens more waiting to be discovered or written. But this is a good place to start.

Gluten Free Blondies

Blondies are kinda a cross between a chocolate chip cookie and a brownie. Some recipes call for coconut (no thanks) or dried fruit (why?) but the best (in my opinion) is just plain chocolate chip. Chocolate chip cookie + brownie = awesome.

So I made some:

gluten free blondies

I snagged the recipe from Gluten Free Betty (highly recommend you check out her site). The main difference is that I baked the blondies by about 10 minutes less than she did. I find that with gluten free stuff, I really want to encourage the gooey elements since gluten free baked goods tend to dry out and go stale rather quickly.

The recipe:

1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups gluten free flour mix*
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

  • Mix melted butter and sugar together
  • Add eggs & vanilla, mix
  • Add dry ingredients, mix
  • Add chocolate chips (as many as you like)
  • Grease 9 x 13 baking pan
  • Pour (or scoop) batter into baking pan
  • Bake at 360 degrees F for 24 – 30 minutes
  • Cool & then serve

*You can use whichever gluten free flour mix you prefer, just be careful if there’s already xanthan gum or baking soda/powder in your mix and adjust accordingly. The original recipe calls for the mix from Gluten Free Baking Classics by Analise Roberts, which is excellent. I’ve also used this mix from Gluten Free Gobsmacked. Both work well, but I find I can’t handle the corn starch in the latter anymore.

Be careful to get a finely ground rice flour for whichever mix you make. The first time round I used too gritty a grind (Arrowhead Mills, while often wonderful, has too coarse a grind of white rice flour for my preference. Left me feeling like I had a mouthful of sand. Tasty sand, but sand nonetheless.) Second time around, I used Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour, which was finer ground and much better.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Finally found a gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe that tastes right. A lot like the classic Tollhouse recipe, with the right texture – not floppy, not dry, not crumbly. Instead they’re gooey, or chewy, or crunchie – depending on how long you bake them.

Snagged from Alton Brown (and of course he would be able to figure out a good recipe) over at the Food Network. He says it will make 24 cookies, but I found it made 36 for me. Probably would have made more had I not been eating the cookie dough… which tastes like regular chocolate chip cookie dough!

Ingredients

Cookie Dough! That tastes like cookie dough!

  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 11 ounces brown rice flour, approximately 2 cups
  • 1 1/4 ounces cornstarch, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 1/2-ounce tapioca flour, approximately 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 10 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter. Once melted, pour into stand mixer.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together the rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour, xantham gum, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. Add both of the sugars to the stand mixer with the butter and cream together on medium for 1 minute.
  5. Add the whole egg, egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  6. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and stir.
  8. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until firm, approximately 1 hour. Shape the dough into  balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  9. Bake for 14 minutes at 375 degrees, rotating the pans after 7 minutes for even baking. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on the pans for 2 minutes. Move the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely. Store cooked cookies in an airtight container.

Raw

Fully baked

Half baked

 

Every time I’ve made these, they’ve been completely gone within a day (unless I hide some).

Click below to download a printable recipe card.

 

 

Jelly Belly Gluten Contamination

You know how, when you pick up a packaged food and you read the ingredients, they list potential allergens? Like “processed in a facility with peanuts” or something similar? I’ve always made the same assumption that the author of Gluten Free and Tasty made: if they’re labeling food allergens, that means they are conscientious, which means that they would have listed gluten were contamination a possibility. I assumed it meant that I was safe. Not so…

Apparently Jelly Belly lists several products as gluten free that aren’t. They’re made on machinery that also processes gluten containing products. Which means contamination.

This is why we need the FDA to make rules about what can and cannot be considered gluten free. Thankfully, they’re in the process of defining the term and passing regulations.

Dining Out, That is the Question…

Heading off to the Cheesecake Factory for a friend’s birthday dinner, and all I can think is… do they have a gluten free menu? do they even know what gluten is? what are the odds of cross contamination (high). Do I dare risk it?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’m tempted to eat a muffin now (I love you, Udi’s!) and not eat when I get there. Or maybe order a float. A float should be safe, right? Soda and ice cream. But wait, ice cream sometimes has gluten in it. Or is contaminated. Or maybe they didn’t clean the ice cream scoop well enough after scooping out some cookies ‘n cream (man, I miss that).

Such is the daily life of a celiac. I’d say it made me OCD and neurotic, except I was already OCD long before my diagnosis.

Gluten Free Mall Coupon

I can’t make use of this, but perhaps you can; Gluten Free Mall has a coupon for 10% Off –  Order made by 12/17/10. One use per customer, so anyone should be able to use the code.

Coupon Code: dc88f1