April 29, 2007

Gluten A Go Go Ship's Pantry

The Ship's Pantry is now available for perusing. It contains listings of different flours, nut meals, binders, sweeteners and more that can be used in gluten free cooking. There are many different ingredients in each category, which will keep the adventurous cook happily experimenting for a long time.

April 28, 2007

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies - Gluten Free

There is dancing at our house -- our Girl Scout cookies arrived yesterday. My husband was delighted, as his favorite cookie is the Do-Si-Dos (peanut butter sandwich cookie). Every year we stock up on Do-Si-Dos , but they never last long enough. Now, I need a gluten free version and the Girl Scout cookies are only made with wheat.

We have gone a little overboard for Do-Si-Dos in the past. About four years ago, we even bought a case of Do-Si-Dos and froze them. Once thawed though, they just weren't the same. So, I've been looking for a recipe which would allow my husband to eat something like his favorite cookie more than once a year.

My search has been going on for a while without success until I came across Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book
: The Best Sandwiches Ever -- From Thursday Nights at Campanile. Within it's pages lies a recipe for Not Nutter Butters, a peanut butter cookie recipe inspired by the Girl Scout version. As her cookies are made with wheat, my mission was laid out for me -- I needed to convert this classic peanut butter sandwich cookie. Off I went to work on my gluten free modification and to test it out. The final cookie is rich, decadent and delightful. A cookie my family can enjoy year round.


Cookie Recipe

3 sticks butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup cane sugar
3/4 cup brown or Turbinado sugar
3/4 cup natural style chunky peanut butter (drain off oil, if needed)
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup + 1 Tb sweet rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
2 tsp kudzu (kuzu) powder, finely crushed

Peanut Butter Filling Recipe

6 Tb butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup natural style chunky peanut butter

For the Cookies: Wait until the step where the cookie dough is chilling to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Melt 1 stick of the butter in a large skillet and then add the oats. Cook the oats until they are lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Keep stirring so the oats don't burn. Once toasted, set aside and allow to cool.

In a bowl place the various flours, oats, salt, soda crushed kudzu powder and blend. Then in the mixing bowl to an electric mixer, place the rest of the butter and beat until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla, then blend. Add the peanut butter and blend. Slowly add the oats and flour blend to the mixing bowl. Make sure the oat and flour blend is thoroughly blended. The cookie dough will still be a little soft, but it will make a ball. Place the mixing bowl in the refrigerator and allow the dough to chill for about an hour.

Using a melon baller, scoop out twelve balls of cookie dough and arrange on the cookie sheet. Press the cookies down with the tines of a fork. Then bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool before removing them from the cookie sheet.

For the Peanut Butter Cream Filling: In the mixing bowl to an electric mixer, place the butter and beat until creamy. Add the peanut butter and blend. Slowly add the powdered sugar and then beat on medium speed for about 1 minute.

Taking two peanut butter cookies, spread the cream filling on the bottom of the first cookie. Then place the bottom of the second cookie on top of the cream filling. The tops of the cookies should be on the outside.

The aroma that filled the house while these cookies were baking was intoxicating. Everybody was in the kitchen waiting for them to come out of the oven. The taste was divine. All of us agreed that the cookies were delicious. This recipe is a keeper.

I took these cookies to my daughter's book club meeting. Everybody thought they were fabulous and couldn't believe that they were gluten free.

Update April 29, 2007: My family did a taste test with my cookies and the Do-Si-Dos. My cookies got one vote as a winner and the other two couldn't decide which one they preferred. My husband did note the the Girl Scout version really needed to have more peanut butter in the middle like mine. Pretty cool.

April 24, 2007

Savory Ham Bites

It has been a wild weather week here in NJ-NY-CT area. We went from 8 inches of rain and 50 degrees to 82 degrees and bright sunshine. Spring has finally come. With all of our weather related happenings there hasn't been much time for baking, so we have been experimenting with new flavors for gluten free sandwiches or savory bite sized crackers.

Our first sampling of savory bites combines Nairn's Oat Crackers* with melted Manchego Cheese on Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Ham, Granny Smith Apples, Purple Lettuce, and topped with fresh herbs. Each cracker was first topped with either Basil Pesto, Wasabe Mayonnaise or Stone Ground Mustard. Then the other toppings were placed on top. My husband's favorite were those with Wasabe Mayonnaise, but I preferred the ones with the Basil Pesto.

For our second batch, we used the same toppings with the exception of the lettuce and fruit. We used a variety pack of fresh Spring Herbs and Strawberries. Both the Pesto and Wasabe versions were wonderful.

Our last experiment combined melted Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar Cheese on Niman Ranch Smoked Bacon with Spring Herbs, Gala Apple Slices, Wasabe Mayonnaise and Red Pepper Hummus. This was a delightful blend of flavors, both savory and spicy. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this savory bite.

*Nairn's Oat Crackers are wheat free.

April 8, 2007

Hot Cross Buns - Gluten Free

Before going gluten-free I loved to bring home hot cross buns from Whole Foods. Their bakery carried them almost year round. Since lovely gluten free holiday breads aren't popping up at bakeries around me, I decided it was high time to create one.

After choosing to make Hot Cross Buns, I remembered how challenging it can be at times to make bread. The bread dough will rise only a little bit or it won't rise at all. What could I do to ensure my bread baking success? Enter Alton Brown, whose article Taming The Yeast for Bon Appetit (October 2004) was guaranteed to educate me on the science of cooking with yeast. Alton says that it is easy for the cook to kill off the yeast without ever understanding how they did it. That is because yeast has a very specific temperature window, 105 deg F to 115 deg F. Temperatures over 115 degrees F will kill the yeast.

So I got my trusty kitchen thermometer ready to make sure that I didn't kill my yeast off. To give you an idea of what are some basic water temperatures are, hot water from your coffee pot is 150 deg F. Water that comes from the tap at my house is 98 deg F when it first starts getting nice and warm. Then that same water from the tap reaches 118 deg F after it has run for a while and is the hottest it will get. To dissolve my yeast for the recipe, I measured out 1/4 cup of filtered water and warmed it. Once it was warmed, I measured the temperature of the water to make sure it wasn't too hot or too cold.

To make things even more interesting, I used RiZE organic active dry yeast from Rapunzel. The instructions on the package said to mix the yeast with flour and water, then to set it aside for 30 to 35 minutes. According to Alton, yeast needs to eat as well as reproduce. So, the water will dissolve the dead yeast cells from around the active yeast cells to activate it. Then the natural sugar in the flour will give the yeast something to eat.

I thought I was ready to start baking, when I remembered that I had decided to use agar agar as my binder. Like yeast, agar agar has specific characteristics as to the way it will behave. Agar agar needs to be dissolved in hot boiling water for it to gel the best. Shizuo Tsuji in Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art says that agar agar (kanten) begins to set at 102 - 108 deg F, but it dissolves at 180 deg F. You need to bring the liquid that you are dissolving the agar agar in to a gentle boil for about three minutes to dissolve all the flakes. However, you need to be careful not to boil it at a high temperature otherwise the agar agar will be on the sides of the saucepan.

Now I have two uses for my thermometer, making sure the water for the yeast isn't too hot and to make sure that the liquid containing the agar agar in cools down to between 105 deg and 115 deg F before adding it to my bread mixture.

I'm ready to bake.

Bun Dough

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup oat flour
3/4 cup arrowroot
3/4 cup + 1 Tb sweet rice flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2 pkgs active dry yeast
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water (for yeast)
2 Tb butter
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup raisins
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tb agar agar
1 beaten egg for glaze


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg white
1/4 tsp vanilla

Warm the water to between 105 deg and 115 deg F. Then add 1/2 cup brown rice flour and 2 packages of active dry yeast. Blend and set aside for 30 to 35 minutes to allow the yeast to multiply.

In a mixing bowl add all the dry ingredients and blend. I used my stand mixer to make the dough.

Place the milk, butter and agar agar into a saucepan and gently bring to a boil. Stir regularly to keep the agar agar from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Boil for three minutes and remove from heat. Allow the liquid to cool to between 105 deg F and 115 deg F.

While the milk mixture cools, add 1 1/2 cups of the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Fold in the yeast mixture and blend. Add some cooled milk to the dough. Then add the beaten eggs and about 3/4 cup of the flour blend. Mix and then add the raisins. After blending in the raisins, add the rest of the dry ingredients. Blend. Place in a warm location for 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the dough to rise.

Place 12 silicone baking cups on a cookie pan. Divide the raised dough into twelve balls and place into the silicone baking cups. Set aside and allow to rise for 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Once the dough has finished rising, glaze the tops with beaten egg. Then place the buns into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the sifted powdered sugar into a bowl. Add the egg white and vanilla flavoring and stir. Blend well. Then spoon the frosting into a bag for piping the crosses on the bun tops.

Note: I used a plastic bag with the tip of one corner cut off for my frosting bag. Additionally, you can add a little bit of milk to the frosting if the consistency is too thick.

I served these for breakfast on Easter morning with coffee and juice. My husband and I thought they were wonderful. They tasted the best warm from the oven and served with a dollop of melting butter. My children weren't fond of the raisins in the bread nor the slight taste of cinnamon.

Note: This recipe was inspired by the hot cross bun recipes in the Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Bread Cook Book, an old handout my mother received from her church group on Easter Breads and an article titled "Fancy Breads, Coffee Cakes Perk Up Brunch" by Jane Palmer. It was printed in the Omaha World-Herald, Food Day section in the Wednesday, April 3, 1985 issue.

April 2, 2007

Teff Pizza - Gluten Free

The goal of obtaining a flavorful pizza crust is one that I've been working on since I learned I about being gluten sensitive. Unlike a pizza crust based on wheat, the gluten-free pizza crust can have a multitude of flavors and textures based on the different flours that are used to make it. On the other hand, all those flour options can make for interesting tasting and challenging baking.

This crust is reminiscent of a whole wheat pizza crust. Paired with a flavorful sauce, organic mozzarella and pepperoni, it is delicious.

Pizza Sauce

1 can Fire Roasted Tomatoes, pureed
1 Tb Olive Oil
1 tsp sea salt or to taste
1 Tb dried Basil

Cook in a nonreactive pan until smooth.

Teff Pizza Crust

1 1/4 cup warm water
1 Tb agar agar (dissolved in 1/2 cup very warm water)
2 Tb olive oil
2 Tb + 1 tsp agave syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 pkg dry active yeast (dissolve in 1/4 cup warm water)
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup oat flour
3/4 cup arrowroot flour
1/4 cup teff

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Dissolve the agar agar in 1/2 cup very warm water. Then dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water. In a large mixing bowl, place all the dry ingredients and blend. Then add the olive oil, agave syrup, water, water with yeast and water with agar agar. Blend well. Place in a warm location until the dough has risen for 1 hour. Divide into two balls. Place one on a stone or greased pan and shape into a disc. Then spread sauce on top, layer with cheese and other toppings. Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 2 small pizzas.

The teff pizza crust recipe is the favorite gluten-free version for my children. The flavor is mild and tasty. The crust holds together when you pick up the slice to eat it. My husband and I prefer the teff crust recipe over other flours, such as sorghum. This is a fine addition to our gluten-free family cookbook.

April 1, 2007

Gluten-Free Recipe Roundup by Gluten-Free By The Bay

The Gluten-Free Recipe Roundup by Gluten-Free By The Bay is a wonderful resource for those seeking gluten-free recipes. GF By The Bay has made the rounds of cyberspace and posts tasty foods bi-weekly.

Each recipe is linked so you can easily go to the blog or homepage for each recipe. Plus, in the tags list you can find previous entries to the Recipe Roundup by clicking on the tag for gluten-free recipe roundups.

Stop by and check out this week's Roundup with recipes for Passover.