Thursday, March 5, 2015

Gluten Free breadcrumbs

I came across some gluten free breadcrumbs this past few weeks and have been trying them out. The ones I really like are from Metropolitan Gourmet in New Jersey. There was another one on the supermarket shelf by 4C Crumbs that is much coarser and in my opinion not quite as good on food but you might like the coarseness.

Whichever you choose, you can now make crunchy fried food! Chicken pieces, shrimp and pork chops all work well with these breadcrumbs. The meat is first dunked in lightly beaten egg, then into the breadcrumbs then into a pan. The result is a moist meat inside a crunchy outside. We have found that the meat does not go soggy even with a sauce on top such as a spicy tomato sauce.

Here are the chicken pieces in the pan and you can see the browned breadcrumbs,

Friday, February 27, 2015

Biscuits and Pasties

We have decided that I can make basic pastry adequately so 2015 is the year for expanding that achievement. Pastry though is good for many things other than apple pie. Cornish pasties are pastry rounds (about the size of a side plate), filled with cooked meat and veg mix, then closed up and cooked for about 30 mins at 375 until the pastry is brown. I did take the precaution of putting a try underneath them but they were good warm and can easily be warmed through for lunch the second day.

I also made some USA style biscuits that were rather like UK scones and perfect for breakfast. The recipe was very similar to the pastry but the mix pressed out rather than rolled. The King Arthur site suggested folding 3 times - so press gently to get a smooth 4x6 chunk of dough, fold, reflatten and fold twice more then roll or flatten so that you get a dough about an inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and bake at 400 for about 20 mins. Reheat in microwave for breakfast the next day:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The infamous apple pie

With 4 boys and not one a celiac they have  been subject to gluten free meals their whole live unless we were out. I am not a great cook or baker and until recently barely tried as things were kinda hopeless with limited flours. That has changed, but I was surprised when one of the kids, now grown up and out of the nest, mentioned that my apple pie was better than any other he had had commercially or anywhere. Well that was a surprise! The biggest problem with the pastry is that it cracks and breaks about very easily. Cooling helps, using a plastic chopping mat helps too, as does a slightly thicker crust.

So here is what I do to make a Gluten Free Apple Pie:

The apple mix
4-6 Granny Smith or tart apples
1/2 cup GF hard cider
1/4 cup sugar

Peel, core and chop apples and set to simmer with the cider and sugar until just soft but not mushy. Take of the heat and let cool a little.

Meanwhile make the crust.

The Crust Mix
 A full 4oz stick of butter - cold
8 oz general gf flour mix (not cake mix with xantham etc)
2 tbs sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk
About 1/4 cup flour for rolling

Chop the butter into chunks and mix with flour until pea like pieces remain - couple of pulses with the mixer or a couple of minutes by hand.
Mix in the sugar

In a small bowl or measuring jug, lightly  beat the egg plus egg yolk. Add about the same amount of milk and mix in.

Take the mix out of the mixer.

Add about one half of the liquid and mix into the flour/butter mix
Slowly add egg/milk a little at a time until the mix sticks together but is not soggy - you might need a little more or less milk to get to this stage .
Wrap the sticky pastry mix in cling wrap and put into the fridge for 30 mins.

Assemble the pie

Drain off any liquid in the apple mix.
Divide the pastry into 2 portions - about 1/3 (top) and 2/3 (base)
Well flour a plastic chopping mat - I use corn starch but any GF flour would work)
Well grease a 10" pie tin/plate
Dump the larger pastry portion onto the floured surface
Roll ball of mix over the four to cover with flour
Roll, with a rolling pin - adding more flour to the pin along the way to stop sticking - to make a pie crust to fit the base of the plate - hopefully about 1/4 inch thick
Using a palette knife slide the knife under the dough to make sure it is not sticking on the mat
With the pie plate close - place the rolling pin about 4 inches from the edge near you and flip the end of the crust over the rolling pin
Slowly move the pin plus crust along the remaining crust using the edge to the mat to help.
When you have the crust on the rolling pin carefully move the pic pan under the pastry and settle evenly over the top
Press down slightly to make the base shape
Re-flour the mat and repeat the rolling for a piece for the top of the pie
With a little extra milk, or milk-egg  mix, dampen the edges of the pie base
Sprinkle a little sugar on the base
Pour the partly cooked apples into the pie
Put cover on pie and press down on the damp edges
Brush a little egg/milk mix on top of the pie
Put into  moderate over - 375 f for about 20 mins.
If you are concerned about the apple mix overflowing place a baking pan under the pie.

Voila! Apple Pie - suitable for any table or family dinner.
The images show the top of the pic and the open pie with the apples inside.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Conference Season Again

Because of scheduling I only have one conference this year and that was last weekend. In total there were 9 people that requested gluten free out of a total of about 400 attendees.

For the most part the conference hotel was fine - and indeed the final dinner where two gluten free diners were seated was the same for the whole table - ie the whole meal was gluten free. This is vast improvement to having the table served and the server leaving the special requirements until the end or one server finding all the special meals at the start and serving them before the rest of the table! Both these scenes are common.

It was the off site meals that were more of a challenge and neither were catered to be gluten free. Dinner one was buffet style and we did not rush down at the start (mistake #1). The meal had one pasta dish, some multi colored Doritos and some chicken bits in a gravy - oh boy. By the time we got down the Doritos were down to a few crumbs so I took a piece of chicken and tried to extricate the white meat out without the skin or gravy. Thank goodness I had taken two precooked Udi's rolls. They were rather dry but enough to see me through. Lunches both days were a little boring but had GF bread and fruit which worked even though it was messy. Dinner 2 was also off site and saw a reappearance of pasta salad and some little pastry covered somethings. There was a salad and some fresh carved turkey though with the chutney which worked, even if I did go back for more of the turkey. What was rather frustrating was that the servers did not know if the chutney was GF or not and it took several minutes to find anyone that did know. It was gf and decent but knowing these things when you serve buffets is rather imperative! The breakfast between these two events was also offsite and buffet with lots of pastries etc, some scrambled eggs and sausages (which looked questionable).

So overall the rolls and a baggie of Chex saved the day because garden conferences are long days and tiring without the complication of being low on calories. There is no point sitting at home and not going to conference, you just have to take some added 'snacks' along because good conferences are well worth attending!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake

I have seen Strawberry Festivals every spring when the lovely berries are at the best. After a long winter, strawberries are the first major commercial crop on the market. Strawberry shortcake is part of those festivals and that was enough to keep me away.
This year though, for some reason, I wanted to see how to make strawberry shortcake. My first research was to hit the ipad and see what came up. This was a variation on flour, sugar, whipped cream for the base with strawberries on top. What was very strange was that my English cookbook uses no cream and the base is basic biscuit/shortbread mix of flour sugar and fat/margarine. I used the ipad one from Food Network:

The strawberries were soaked in sugar for half an hour to extract the juices. The base mix was:

2 cups flour - I used Arrowmills General GF flour
2tsp baking powder
pinch baking soda
2 tbl sugar

mix these together. Stir in 1.5 cups heavy cream. This should make a dough. I found the dough too dry so added a beaten egg to the mix which is what some other recipes had done.

Bake in med to hot oven (400) for about 20 minutes. Mine was a little browner than I would have liked in 20 mins but still edible so maybe 375 is better. The base is cooled then cut into squares and covered with the strawberries and the strawberry juice. Then topped with whipped cream.

Not a dessert for those who are lactose free or worried about cholesterol but for gluten free - it was good. I think next time I will mix the egg with the cream at the start and maybe add some liqueur to the strawberries too for that extra special meal.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Pancakes for One

With the plethora of new gluten free flours I have started baking for probably the first time in my life - Using a mix of potato starch, rice flour etc etc was not conducive to great baking so I basically gave up and just used recipes that used no or little flour. That is now changing.

On the back of most flour packages there is a recipe for basic pancakes - 1 cup flour plus 1 egg plus vanilla and milk to get the right consistency - that is all well and good but I don't want pancakes every day for a week which is what the large amount makes - in summer I just want one occasionally. This is the recipe that I came up with:

1 heaped tbl flour
Break egg into small bowl and whisk lightly with a fork;
Add an equal amount of milk;
Add a few drops o vanilla

With the flour in a bowl or jug, add just enough liquid to make a light batter.

Heat a little oil in a pan and heat over medium;
Pour all the batter into the pan and flip when the pancake bubbles and the batter is brown on the bottom;
Cook the second side until just nicely brown.

Tip onto a plate and add syrup or other ingredients  - my choice is a dribble of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar.
Add a bowl of fruit to the side, and breakfast is done:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Great Gluten Free Restaurants

The past ten years of so have seen more and more people diagnosed with gluten intolerance or celiac disease which has led to restaurants accommodating the clientele in various ways. The most common way is to scan the menu, take a stab at what looks likely to be gluten free and have the wait staff go ask the chef, who usually can make the dish without certain ingredients.

The next level is those fast food places that have a gluten free sheet. This is sometimes a whole menu with gluten free items or the the waiter trudges back with a book listing with all allergy listings including a page with which things can be made gluten free. The down side to both these ways is that all the neat sounding sauces on pork chops, steak or salmon have to be omitted leaving a boring piece of meat, often dry because it is suppose to come with a sauce, and some veggies.

This past two weeks I have been happy to find two places that were indeed more gluten free friendly. The first was a company dinner at a restaurant in Princeton NJ. There was an email sent around to see if anyone had any dietary accommodations and of course we sent back gluten free. We arrived at the restaurant and found that the CEOs wife is also gluten free. Appetizers were sent round as people mingled before dinner and after refusing most because they looked like things on crackers and little cups with cauliflower soup, I was surprised to be told that ALL the appetizers were gluten free!! Moreover when the menu came around, the waiter merely pointed to which of several dishes on the menu were gluten free - not 'could be made gluten free' but were made without gluten. This did indeed make for a fun and relaxed meal.
This is Elements in Princeton:


The second dinner was in a small town restaurant and I had, of course, checked the menu beforehand. Here the whole menu was starred with what was gluten free - and that included many meats with sauces. For the first time ever, I was able to order crab cakes knowing that they would be almost 100% crab and have not bread/rusk or whatever in them.
The Yardley Inn


Both these restaurant illustrate that gluten free meals can be produced in a commercial kitchen that are both appealing and tasty for everyone.