April 29, 2008

Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free Roundup

The Roundup of the 3rd edition of Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free blog event, with the theme of Gluten Free Finger Foods. This month's theme allowed for either savory or sweet gluten free foods as long as they had to be held in the hand to be eaten. The roundup includes a wide variety of dishes both savory and sweet that would be perfect to eat for a picnic, a snack or to pack for a lunch away from home.

To see the recipes from the roundups from past Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free blog events, follow the links below.

* 1st Edition of Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free
Theme: Tea Time Treats
Creator & Hostess: Naomi @ Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried

* 2nd Edition of Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free
Theme: Birthday Baking for Children
Hostess: Linda @ Make Life Sweeter

A number of wonderful gluten free bloggers participated in this month's event. Thank you to everyone who participated in this month's event. For more about information about the May event, stop by Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried.

Cheryl @ Gluten Free Goodness

Summer (or spring!) rolls

Rachel @ Wheat-Free, Meat-Free

Southern Style Cheese Crisps

Aylena @ Gluten Free South Africa

Plum Frangipane

Nick @ The Peanut Butter Boy

Banana Pancakes with Maple Peanut Butter

Smita @ Smita Serves You Right

Chocolate Hazelnut Teacakes

Naomi @ Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried

Egg Crepes

Sara @ Breaking Up With Bread

Gluten Free Hand Held Snacks

Seamaiden @ Book of Yum

Broccoli Pesto Potato Croquettes

Loztnausten @ Everything Free Eating

Korean Kimbop

Linda @ make life sweeter!

Goat Cheese and Sesame Seed Cookies

Emilia @ Gluten Free Day

Baked rice paper rolls

Carrie @ Ginger Lemon Girl

Chocolate Brownie Bites

Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

Graham Crackers & S'mores

April 27, 2008

Cheesecake Pops in Two Flavors

The March Daring Baker's Challenge

I was thrilled when I read what our challenge was going to be this month. Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deb, Taste and Tell, were our hostesses this month. They chose a fabulous tasting dessert called Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor. Cheesecake is my husband's number one favorite dessert and I don't make it as often as I should for him.

When my husband and I first started dating, I had a large cheese cake left over from a brunch I'd hosted. One evening I invited him over to watch a movie and eat cheese cake. What I remembered most from that evening is that he loved the cheese cake I'd made and he liked me a little more. A couple of evenings later, he called and asked if I had any cheese cake left and of course I did. He asked if I'd like some help eating it. So, he invited me over for dinner and I supplied dessert. We went on this way, sharing dinner and dessert until the cheese cake was eaten up. By this time we liked each other a lot more.

We continued our dinner and dessert evenings for the next several years. Sometimes we even got a little competition going, where the loser of our particular activity, such as bowling or putt-putt, would have to make dinner and dessert for the winner. The menu would be of the winner's choosing, we'd share the cost, and the loser would host and cook. During this time, I discovered unknown depths of competition in my husband. Every time I'd get close to winning our little competition, he'd pull out an amazing recovery to sink a hole in one or get a strike. When I asked him how he could do this time after time, he told me that he had to make sure I was the one doing the cooking. If I did the cooking, then he could ask for more cheese cake.

I owe a big thanks to my friend Pat from college for the cheese cake recipe my husband loved. She said it was a recipe from one of her grandmother's cook books and was her family's favorite dessert. Anyone who ate it always asked for the recipe. I was no different than those who tried it before me...it was heaven in a springform pan. My copy of the recipe is now wrinkled and dog eared from years of use. I'll keep it no matter how battered it gets, because our friendship and love grew over it. To celebrate our beginning, my husband chose this to be his Groom's Cake at our wedding reception.

My husband and I enjoyed the Cheesecake Pop recipe, although to be totally truthful, we preferred these scrumptious morsels without the chocolate. They were so delightfully soft and melty when you ate them without the chocolate.

I also tried out a nut cheese version of this recipe, for my daughter as she has a slight dairy allergy. The nut cheese was delightfully flavorful, but in a different way than the cheese cake. Actually, it really deserves another name other than nut cheese. It was more like a nutty cream meltaway candy center and it tasted the best without any adornment.

Thank you Elle and Deb for giving me an excuse to make cheese cake for my husband and a chance to try out a new recipe for a nut meltaway.


Grand Marnier Cheesecake
5 oz. cream cheese, softened
5 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 Tb chestnut flour
Pinch sea salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Grand Marnier
1 Tb almond milk
Boiling water for water bath

Chocolate Coating

4 oz. white, milk or dark chocolate, finely chopped *
1 1/2 tsp vegetable shortening

Assembling the Pops

12 8-inch lollipop sticks **
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored Sprinkelz, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars


1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and then preheat it to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Start a kettle of water to boil.

2. In a mixing bowl, dump in the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt. Beat on low speed until smooth.

3. Then add the egg and egg yolk to the mixing bowl, one at a time and continue beating on low speed. Next pour in the Grand Marnier and almond milk.

4. Line a medium bowl or an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Pour the cheesecake batter into the baking dish.

5. Place the baking dish into a larger dish or a roasting pan. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake dish.

6. Bake until the cheesecake is firm, slightly golden and not wobbly in the center. Baking times will vary based on size of baking dish, but from 35 minutes for a shallow dish and 60 minutes for a deeper bowl.

7. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and place on top of the stove. Lift out the cheesecake dish and place on the stove top to cool. Once cool, cover the dish and place in the refrigerator to chill, at least 3 hours or up to over night.

8. When the cheese cake is cold and firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2 oz. balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Gently pick up each ball and roll it between the palms of your hand until round. Replace on the cookie sheet and insert a lollipop stick into the cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops until they are very hard, approximately 1 to 2 hours.

Chocolate Coating

1. When the cheesecake pops are chilled hard, begin to prepare the chocolate coating. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, heat the chocolate and shortening.

2. Stir continually until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much, because it will lose it's shine after it has dried.

Assembling the Pops

1. Working quickly, dip the cheesecake pop into the chocolate and swirl it quickly to get it completely covered. Then shake off any excess into the chocolate bowl.

2. Roll the cheesecake pops in your decorations or sprinkle them on the pops. Place the finished pop on the parchment paper to dry. Repeat for the remaining pops.

3. Place the pops in the refrigerator until the chocolate coating has set. Then serve. Makes 8 pops.

Nut Cheese Cheesecake Pops

5 Tb raw cashews, ground
3 Tb raw sunflower seeds, ground
2 1/2 Tb raw pine nuts (pignoli nuts)
1 tsp chia seed meal
2 Tb cane sugar
3/4 tsp chestnut flour
Pinch sea salt
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond milk
Boiling water for water bath

1. Follow the recipe above, except bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. If this is made in a shallow dish, then you can use cookie cutters to cut out shapes for your pops. I made flowers that I stacked one on top of the other before placing the stick in them.

3. The nut cheese has a mild flavor,
consider eating these pops plain, as they tasted the best when unadorned. If you'd like to have some chocolate on them, just drizzle a little on them.

* Chocolate Chips - I purchased chocolate chips by Enjoy Life! They are dairy, gluten, casein free, vegan and kosher.

Lollipop Sticks - I purchased the lollipop sticks from Michael's Craft Store. They were made by Wilton.

April 25, 2008

Peanut Butter Meltaways

Back in the day when we could eat the Girl Scout cookies that we ordered, instead of donating them to the troops, we always loved to eat Peanut Butter Tagalongs. Because of my husband's deep fondness for all things peanut butter, I always made sure we had a box in our order. For those who aren't familiar with the Tagalong, it is a shortbread style cookie with a dollop of soft sweetened peanut butter on top and then dipped in chocolate. A great cookie for peanut butter and chocolate lovers, the Tagalong has been missed at my house since going gluten free.

The idea to try and create a gluten free Tagalong, developed when I added Candy Making for Dummies, by David Jones, to my cookbook collection. For contained within these pages is a delightful recipe for Peanut Butter Meltaways, a candy center made of peanut butter and peanut butter flavored chocolate. Now that I had the topping figured out, then the bottom could be a peanut butter shortbread and I'd glaze it with a nice dark chocolate. The shortbread was inspired by the Peanut Butter Shortbread and the Chocolate Melt Aways recipes at Argo Cornstarch. To coat the cookies, I used melted chocolate chips with a little shortening added.

I had been thinking about making this cookie, when Nick of Peanut Butter Boy mentioned that he was hosting the first ever Great Peanut Butter Exhibition with the theme of cookies. There you go, this was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at making these cookies and to include them in the Peanut Butter Exhibition event.

If you are interested in other gluten free version of Girl Scout cookies, you can find my recipe for the peanut butter oatmeal sandwich cookies (Do Si Do) here and my recipe for the chocolate mint cookies (Thin Mints) here.



1 1/2 oz white chocolate, chopped fine *
2 1/2 Tb creamy or chunky peanut butter
pinch sea salt


1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup + 1 Tb sweet rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1 tsp chia seed meal
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
4 Tb vegetable shortening (or 2 Tb vegetable shortening, 2 Tb coconut oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Coating

1 cup chocolate chips **
1 Tb vegetable shortening ***


1. Set out 3 silicone muffin cups on a plate or small cookie sheet.

2. Place the chopped white chocolate into a microwave safe bowl and melt them on high for approximately 50 to 60 seconds. Stir the chopped chocolate a various intervals, so that the chocolate melts evenly.

3. Dump the peanut butter and salt in to the bowl and stir together. Use the back of your spoon to work out any unmelted peanut butter until the consistency is creamy.

4. Pour the liquid into the muffin cups and then set in the refrigerator to cool. Note: Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, you may also need to store these in the refrigerator as they will become quite soft if left out.


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line an 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 inch cookie pan with parchment paper.

2. In a mixing bowl, dump in the vegetable shortening and peanut butter. On medium speed, blend until creamy. Then add the brown sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating.

3. In a medium sized bowl, pour in the flours and chia seed meal. Stir together making sure to thoroughly incorporate the chia seed meal with the flour. Note: If the chia seed meal isn't incorporated well, then you will have bits of gel in your cookies once the flour is added to the liquids.

4. Slowly add the flour to the mixing bowl and beat until the dough forms a ball.

5. Place the dough into the cookie pan and using your hands press the dough out. Chill the cookie dough prior to baking.

6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then cut the cookies into squares. Note: These cookies are delicate and don't take a lot of handling well. Leave them in the pan until ready to assemble the cookies.

Chocolate Coating

Note: Make the glaze in two or three batches so that it stays melted while you are working.

1. Place 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips and 1 1/2 tsp of the vegetable shortening into a microwave safe bowl. Place in the microwave and cook for 45 to 60 seconds. Stir at various intervals to make sure the chocolate is melting evenly.

2. Remove the coating from the microwave and using a spoon stir until it is thoroughly blended and there aren't any little bits of chocolate left.

Assembling the Cookies

1. On a cutting board, unmold the peanut butter meltaways and cut into slices 1/8 inch thick. Then cut those slices in half, so that the slices will fit on top of the cookie and not hang over the edges.

2. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on your work surface. Taking a knife, slide it under the cookie and lift it out and onto the parchment paper.

3. Place several little pieces of the peanut butter meltaway in the center of the top of the cookie.

4. Then lightly spoon chocolate coating over the cookie, until it is totally covered.

5. Leave out on the counter for several hours for the chocolate to cool and set up. Makes 1 dozen cookies. Note: Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, you may need to store these cookies in the refrigerator.

1. You can substitute 1 tsp of xanthan or guar gum for the chia seed meal in this recipe.

2. You can use 1 cup of gluten free flour mix (with xanthan gum) instead of the various flours.

* White Chocolate - To make this recipe dairy free and vegan, you can use White Chocolate Chips made by Oppenheimer. You can purchase them at the AllergyGrocer.com. (I used Valrhona White Chocolate Medallions (Ivoire Feves) purchased from Whole Foods. In my local Whole Foods they are located near the coffee bar and the candy bar.)

** Chocolate Chips - I used Enjoy Life! dairy, gluten, casein free, vegan and kosher chocolate chips.

*** Vegetable Shortening - I experimented with both vegetable shortening in the melted chocolate and cocoa butter. The cocoa butter gave a harder more brittle coating, while the vegetable shortening gave a softer chocolate coating.

April 21, 2008

Graham Crackers & S'mores

One of the foods my family loves to eat on balmy nights sitting around on the patio are S'mores. We'd bring out the graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate, put them together and then set them on the grill for a quick warm up. When the weather is too chilly to brave the grill, I make up S'mores using the toaster oven. To have a S'more though, you need a good graham cracker. It's the most important aspect of the S'more, as it holds together the toasted marshmallow and melted chocolate.

My children have been asking for me to make graham crackers for a while. I finally found a delicious recipe to get me started from Nancy Silverton, the former chef of La Brea Bakery and Campanille, in her book Pastries from La Brea Bakery. This gluten free version of the graham cracker offers up a fragrant and full bodied cracker, rich with the flavors of buckwheat and chestnut.

This recipe makes up quickly either by hand or machine and is flexible in preparation. You can roll out and freeze the dough for baking later. Once the crackers are made, you can freeze them so that you can always keep a stock on hand for those moment when you'd really like a s'more.

My family preferred the crackers that were cooked just a little bit longer, because they had a satisfying crispness. We actually didn't end up making very many S'mores, as the crackers were devoured within days. Now I need to make up a batch to store in the freezer for those emergency S'more moments.

This is my entry for the April Edition of Go Ahead Honey It's Gluten Free blog event, created by the lovely and talented Naomi of Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried. Our theme this month is Gluten Free Finger Foods. Swing back by on April 28th for the Roundup of all the wonderful gluten free finger foods that have been submitted.

Would you like to bake in another gluten free baking event? Check out the Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event created by Sea of the Book of Yum. The May hostess is Rachel of Wheat-Free, Meat-Free, visit her blog to read more about the next event.



1/4 cup + 2 Tb buckwheat flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tb chestnut flour
1/4 cup + 1 Tb sweet potato flour *
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1 1/2 tsp chia seed meal
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 Tb vegetable shortening, melted
3 1/2 Tb honey
2 1/2 Tb almond milk
1 Tb vanilla extract


Graham Crackers
White, Milk or Dark Chocolate
Optional: Peanut Butter or Almond Butter

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients and stir together thoroughly. Note: Make sure the chia seed is thoroughly incorporated so that when the liquids aren't any little gel blobs.

2. In a large measuring cup, add the vegetable shortening, honey, almond milk and vanilla extract and stir together.

3. Slowly pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl containing the flour mixture and stir. The dough will be slightly sticky.

4. Divide the dough in half and put one half on a sheet of parchment paper. Press down the dough with your hands and then cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Repeat this procedure with the other half of the dough. Then place the parchment paper covered rolled dough into the freezer for 20 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

6. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into squares or rectangles. Then remove the cookies from the parchment paper and place on the covered cookie sheet. Using a toothpick prick the dough to form 2 rows of 3 dots.

7. Bake for 13 - 15 minutes and rotate the pan at the halfway point so the crackers cook evenly. At 13 minutes the graham crackers will still be a little soft, at 15 minutes they will be crisper. Makes 24 graham crackers.


1. You can substitute the 1 1/2 tsp of chia seed meal with 1 1/2 tsp of xanthan or guar gum.

2. You can substitute the flours and chia seed meal with 1 1/4 cup + 1 Tb of gluten free flour mix that has a binder included.

3. If you can't find buckwheat in your area or you are allergic to it, try substituting millet instead.

4. You can substitute potato starch, tapioca starch or sweet rice flour for the sweet potato flour in this recipe.

* I purchased my sweet potato flour from Barry Farm Foods.

April 16, 2008

Little Devil & Panda Cookies

The first time my children saw the Horlicks Doggie Cookies, they were enchanted. The original recipe by Thng Lay Teen, who writes for The Straits Times of Singapore, was a celebration of the beverage Horlicks. A beverage said to promote sleep and is very popular throughout Asia. This cookie can also be found in a chocolate version using Nestle's Milo drink and a Horlicks free version.

With my daughter's dairy allergy to consider, the challenge was to create a malty tasting cookie that didn't have any malted milk powder. After contemplating all the different gluten free grains, I decided on using millet. It would give a more robust flavor that is also slightly malty.

Millet is a gluten free grass that is grown around the world and was the primary grain of Neolithic China and Korean Mumun societies. At Cishan, China, archaeologists found underground storage pits that were used to store foxtail millet. This site dates back to 6000-5500 BC. Millet also has the honor of making the oldest noodles found to date. They were unearthed in 2005 by an archaeology team working in Lajing, China. They appeared to have been buried in an ancient cooking pot by a catastrophic flood that hit the Yellow River area about 4,000 years ago.

Due to it's being easy to grow in problematic soil conditions, millet is an important nutritional source to many cultures around the world. It is high in vitamin B, fiber, calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium and is comparable to wheat in protein content.

The cookies are mild in flavor and slighty malty with the texture of pecan sandies. The dough mixed up quickly, but it takes a little while to decorate all the little devil and panda faces. The first few I made looked like the Horlick's doggie cookies and some looked like pandas. However my children thought the doggie version looked too sad, but they liked the happy little panda. Then I showed them the little devil version I made with the Koala Crisp, a chocolate puffed rice cereal. My kids were thrilled with their appearance and preferred the devils over the floppy eared dogs. My daughter leaned over and added a Koala Crisp to the backside of the devil exclaiming, "Now, it's a real devil Mom!"

These cookies were a hit with my family. We preferred these cookies slightly warmed up, as it made the chocolate in the center all soft and melty. The warm chocolate center was a nice compliment to the sandie texture of the cookie.

I'm submitting this recipe to the April edition of Sugar High Friday. This month it is being hosted by La Petite Boulangette, with the theme of Sweet Asian Invasion.



2/3 cup (100 g) millet flour
1/4 cup (50 g) sweet rice flour
1/3 cup (50 g) arrowroot starch
2 tsp chia seed meal
1/2 cup + 2 Tb (50 g)powdered sugar
1/2 cup + 1 Tb (125 g) vegetable shortening
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tb chilled almond milk

Filling & Decorations

Mini Chocolate Chips (Enjoy Life)
Envirokidz Amazon Flakes cereal (corn flakes)
Envirokidz Koala Crisp cereal (chocolate puffed rice)
Chocolate Jimmies (Sprinkelz)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set out all of your cookie decorations and filling in small bowls. Then set out a piece of parchment paper on the counter for your work area.

2. In a large bowl, dump in the flours, chia seed meal and powdered sugar. Stir to thoroughly mix the chia seed meal with the other ingredients.

3. In the bowl to your mixer, plop in the vegetable shortening and beat until fluffy. Pour in the almond milk and vanilla. Then slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until the ingredients form a soft dough.

4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a spoon, scoop out a small amount of dough. Then press the dough out in your hand until it resembles a small bowl. Place a few chocolate chips or a few chocolate chips and a corn flake into the bowl. Then press the sides of the bowl down onto the center to seal the cookie. Gently roll the dough ball between your palms to shape it and then place on the cookie sheet.

5. Place a chocolate chip in the lower half of the dough ball for the mouth. Then press two indentations above the chocolate chip with a toothpick and set 2 Jimmies into them for the eyes. For the little Devils, press two rice puffs in the top of the dough ball for ears and then press 1 rice puff on the backside for the tail. For the little Pandas, press the corn flakes into the top of the dough ball for the ears.

6. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 18 medium sized cookies or 36 mini cookies. Note: If you want the center to be soft and gooey, warm the cookies slightly before serving.


You can use 1 tsp of xanthan gum or guar gum to replace the chia seed meal in this recipe. If you want to use a gluten free flour blend in place of the flours, then use 1 1/4 cup of the gf flour blend and do not add chia seed meal, xanthan or guar gum.

April 13, 2008

Spinach Pasta with Crispy Sunchokes & Bacon

I recently acquired a new cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman, in an effort to expand my family's vegetable options. Bittman's book is a exceptional collection of vegetable recipes. There a wide variety of options throughout the book and it is divided into categories such as salads, soups, dairy, legumes, grain, etc. For example, there are many dishes that can be made with rice, pasta or grains and he provides a chart of a wide variety of dishes that can be combined with them. There are enough recipes in this gem to feed your family everyday for years.

I had some sunchokes languishing in my refrigerator, the last of a big basket that I had bought. I had already cooked a variety of dishes with them, but I was looking for something different. Bittman's book offered a new take on sunchokes to me, by cooking them in a little oil until crispy. In a chart on pasta, he mentioned that the crispy sunchokes would make a wonderful addition to a pasta dish. I was set, I could use up the last of my sunchokes and try out the Tinkyada spinch spaghetti I had purchased.

I started scrubbing the sunchokes following his suggestion not to peel the sunchokes, but to scrub them very well and then slice them. Otherwise you loose too much of the sunchoke trying to peel around all the little knobs. The crisply cooked sunchokes were deliciously sweet and addictive. It's amazing I actually had enough to serve for dinner.

This dish stands on it's own as a satisfying vegetable dinner entree, however I added some crumbled bacon to the dish to round out our dish. To finish off our meal, I served it with a fresh herb salad garnished with radishes and fresh apples. My family was pleasantly surprised at how good this dish tasted and we ended up finishing it all for dinner.


3 large sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tb shallot, minced
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
parsley for garnish
GF Spinach Pasta, cooked*
6 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled

1. Wash the sunchokes well to get the dirt off of them. Then trim off any cracked, dry or hard places. Slice the sunchokes into thin pieces about 1/8" thick. Place them in a colander, rinse them and then pat them dry.

2. Place 2 to 3 tablespoon of the oil into a large skillet and turn the heat on medium. Once the oil is preheated, place the sunchokes into the oil. Spread them out on the bottom of the pan so that they can fry evenly. You will need to do this in several batches. Then sprinkle with ground pepper and salt. Once the sunchokes are cooked, remove them from the skillet and drain them on a paper towel lined plate.

3. Once all the sunchokes are cooked, add a little more olive oil to the pan and lower the heat to medium low. Then cook the shallot for a couple of minutes.

4. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and then dump in the cooked spinach pasta. Gently toss and warm the pasta with the shallots. Return the sunchokes and the crumbled bacon to the pan and continue to warm. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serves 4.

* Spinach Pasta - I used Tinkyada Spinach Spaghetti for this recipe.

April 10, 2008

Pizza & Focaccia - The Joys of a Poolish

When we first went gluten free, I searched for the perfect pizza recipe, as it was the food I missed the most. I made recipes and then tweaked them over the course of a few years. My favorite pizza recipe had been the one I made from my sourdough starter. However, I was having challenges with keeping my starter from becoming bitter as it aged. Eventually, I used it all up on a last loaf of bread that my husband and I ate with a chunk of Swedish Fontina cheese and a delightful red wine (Boarding Pass, 2005, a Shiraz from South Australia).

My next challenge was to try and create the flavor of sourdough, but without the same challenges I had with the starter. Enter Peter Reinhart and his extremely helpful tips on making bread. I had purchased his book Crust and Crumb: Master Formulas for Serious Bread Bakers in an effort to create the flavor I wanted from the pizza dough. The technique Peter talk about that I used to create the dough in this pizza is a pre-ferment or a poolish. Taking an equal amount of water and mix of gluten free flours with a touch of sweetener and the yeast, I let the mixture sit and ferment for at least an hour. I add the touch of sweetener to give the yeast a good head start in trying to raise the heavier gluten free flours. The pre-ferment time allows the crust to take on a rich yeasty flavor and just a touch of sourness like you would get from a sourdough starter.

Typically I remove one third of the dough to make a focaccia for those of us who can't eat tomatoes at my house and the rest goes to make a traditional pizza. This recipe will make a 12 inch traditional pizza and a 5 inch focaccia. It is enough to feed my family of four for a meal and a snack for the kids, although most of it is consumed by our ever growing pre-teen son. I guess I'm going to have to start making a double batch of dough, if my husband wants to enjoy cold pizza for breakfast.


Pre-Ferment (Poolish)

1 pkg. yeast
1 cup warm water, 110 - 115 degrees Fahrenheit
1/2 cup certified gf oat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp agave syrup

Finishing the Dough

1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup arrowroot
2 tsp chia seed meal
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tb olive oil
1 Tb agave syrup

Topping Options

Pizza Sauce
Flavored Olive Oil
Fresh Basil
Mozzarella Cheese
Ground Bison
Chicken with Oregano
Sage Sausage
Or Anything You Like

Equipment Needed: A plastic or wooden spoon, a large glass, plastic or wooden bowl, pizza pan or pizza stone. Note: A pizza stone will yield the best results.

1. In a medium bowl, pour in the warmed water and the yeast. Allow the yeast to soften for a couple of minutes. Then dump in the flours and the agave syrup. Stir to thoroughly blend all the ingredients. Set in a warm draft free location for one hour. Note: Don't leave the pre-ferment for any less than 30 minutes or the rich yeasty flavor will not be there.

2. While the pre-ferment is rising, dump the flours, salt and chia seed in a large glass mixing bowl and stir together. Note: Make sure the chia seed meal is thoroughly incorporated so that you don't have small clumps of gel in your dough.

3. When the pre-ferment is ready, pour in the agave syrup and olive oil into the bowl. Then slowly pour the pre-ferment into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir the dough together until the dough forms a round ball. Note: The dough can vary from being slightly sticky to a being slightly firmer.

4. Set the dough aside for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the toppings for the pizza and preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Note: If you have a pizza stone, put it into the oven before starting the preheat cycle.

5. For the Focaccia: Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Scoop out one third of the dough and place on the paper. Sprinkle a little corn flour over the dough and dust your hands with it before shaping the dough. Shape into a rounded loaf and using your pinkie finger press indentations around the top of the dough. Spread a flavored olive oil over the top of the dough and let some sit in the indentations. Sprinkle on your choice of toppings. Then put the parchment paper with the focaccia on it into the oven on the pizza stone and bake for 12 minutes or until the dough is slightly browned. Makes 1 5-inch focaccia.

7. For the Pizza: Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Scoop out the rest of the dough and place on the paper. Sprinkle a little corn flour over the dough and dust your hands with it before shaping the pizza. Pat out the dough into a circle using the corn flour as needed to keep your fingers from sticking. Spread the pizza sauce over the top of the dough then sprinkle with fresh basil sliced into fine strips. Place slices of mozzarella cheese around the top and cover with your favorite toppings. Place the parchment paper with the pizza on it in the oven on the pizza stone. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes or until the top is slightly brown and the cheese is bubbly. Cool and serve. Makes 1 12-inch pizza.

April 5, 2008

A Gluten Free Birthday At American Girl

A 9th Birthday Party

One of our daughter's wishes was to go to the American Girl Place in New York City. She wanted to have a day of shopping, some fun and a special birthday luncheon. I thought this might be little challenging, since the kids and I eat gluten free. However, my husband, who was determined to make sure that our soon be 9 year old had a wonderful day, scoped out the American Girl web site. To our delight, he discovered the Cafe offered a gluten free menu. All we needed to do was to call and make our reservation.

I called the American Girl Place two months ahead of time to make our reservation and they were happy to say they could serve us a gluten free lunch. The one thing we had to wait to talk to the kitchen staff about was whether or not they could do a gluten free birthday cake. She said that the kitchen staff would also take our order for meals at the same time. With that done all we needed to do was wait for the kitchen staff to call.

Two weeks before our reservation, the American Girl Cafe called to verify our reservation and to take our lunch order. We were offered selections for a Warm Welcome (appetizer), First Course, and the Entree. Our kitchen staff representative said they would be ordering a gluten free cake for us to enjoy. My daughter was over joyed, she could have a gluten free American Girl Birthday Lunch.

Our daughter's big day arrived and mid morning we made our way to the train station. A little while later we were riding Metro North Railroad into Grand Central Station. We exited the train and made our way through all the tourists taking pictures of the inside of the Station. Our daughter was instantly struck by all the things that reminded her of the movie Madagascar. Looking around, she said "Did you see the clock Melman stuck his head through?" We made our way through the crowds to the cab stand and then we were off to the American Girl Place.

After a birthday shopping spree in the stores, we headed to the concierge to drop off our coats and shopping bags before going to the Cafe. Where our Birthday Girl was just speechless with all the black, white and pink decorations and the chair at the table for her new doll. Soon, the fun began when our drinks were served and her doll was given her own cup of imaginary tea.

While we were admiring the restaurant, our wonderful server brought fruit kebabs as our appetizer and then a first course of turkey roll-ups with fruit salad and fresh vegetables. While we waited on our entree, we took turns reading the Table Talkers provided by the restaurant to get our luncheon conversation flowing. Soon our entree arrived of grilled chicken, grilled mixed vegetables, sweet potato fries and a fresh salad of baby greens. Once our lunch arrived there was little conversation going on for a while, due to the sweet potato fries. Sweet potato lovers that we are, we had to try out those luscious looking fries sprinkled with large chunks of salt. We were enjoying our lunch so much, we were only brought back to the realization that birthday cake was still to come by the singing of Happy Birthday to girl at a neighboring table.

Within a few minutes my daughter's birthday cake arrived with a around of singing and picture taking. They brought out a gluten free flourless chocolate cake covered in chocolate and decorated in pink ribbons and bows. They served the cake with strawberry sherbet. Since there we had so much cake left over, they wrapped it up for us to go in it's own cute little American Girl bag.

Afterwards, we headed over to Toys 'R Us on Times Square to allow our son and the big brother to do a little shopping of his own. After riding the Ferris Wheel and checking out the Jurassic Park Tyrannosaurus Rex, he chose to spend his time checking out the Lego and the Transformers departments.

Our day was done and a wonderful time was had by all of us. Although, we all agreed the best part of the day was the fabulous luncheon party we had at American Girl.

April 3, 2008

Amish Chicken and Corn Soup

One of our favorite foods of summer is fresh corn. We can't wait until those golden ears of corn start showing up at our local vegetable market. One way, we enjoy the wonderful flavor of corn through the months we use frozen corn is Amish Chicken and Corn Soup. It is a warm delight of corn, celery, carrots brought together with the earth flavor of saffron.

This recipe is one of our favorites from The Culinary Institute of America's Book of Soups. My family loves the flavor of saffron combined with the corn. The corn noodles are extra layer of taste enhancement.

If you are going to make this soup ahead of time, keep the noodles in a separate container until it is time to reheat it. To serve left overs have a little extra chicken broth on hand, since the corn noodles will soak up some of the broth.

1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
2 qts. chicken broth
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed saffron threads
1 cup corn kernals
1 TB parsley, finely chopped
3 oz gluten free corn noodles, cooked *
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

1. In a large Dutch oven combine the first six ingredients and simmer for 1 hour.

2. Then add the noodles and corn. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8.

Note: I used Mrs. Leepers Corn Spaghetti. They are available from Glutenfree.com and Allergygrocer.com.