Rockin’ Rolls: Gluten Free Garlic-Herb Rolls

“Try, try again….”

One of the hardest adjustments to having to be gluten free was the many disappointing gluten free roll recipes which did not live up to expectations. One of my daughters, though, was persistent, and many, many adjustsment later, we finally have a recipe which which has worked time and time again. So, I’m sharing it here with you for you to try.

Gluten Free Herbed Garlic Rolls

Ingredients:

2 tbsp white vinegar plus dairy free milk to equal 2 1/2 cups (We use soy or flax milk.)

1 1/2 cup liquid egg whites, at room temperature

6 tbsp safflower oil

1/2 cup gluten free flour (We like to use oat flour.)

2 tsp garlic powder

6 cups gluten free flour blend (We have been using the King Arthur’s whole grain blend.)

2 tbsp xanthan gum (This is in addition to what is in the flour blend.)

1 tbsp dried chopped chives

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

9 tsp active dry yeast

melted vegan butter

Baking Instructions: (If your mixer can’t accommodate the 6 cups of flour plus additional ingredients, you will want to cut the ingredients in half and make two batches.)

  1. Line two cookie sheets which can fit twelve rolls each with parchment paper and sprinkle cornmeal on the parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large measuring cup, pour 2 tbsp vinegar and add enough “milk” that you have 2 1/2 cups of liquid. Mix well, and set aside to thicken.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Then add the oil, and rewhisk until well combined. Set aside.
  4. Mix together – in a bowl large enough to roll dough balls in – the 1/2 cup flour and garlic powder, and set aside.
  5. In large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, xanthan gum, chives, thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, and onion powder. Then add the yeast.
  6. Add the vinegar milk and egg whites with oil to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until all ingredients are combined.
  7. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat about 5 minutes. The batter should be smooth and shiny. (If the mixture is not smooth and shiny because it is too stiff and dry, add a tbsp of “milk” and remix. You may need to add a couple of additional tbsps of “milk”, depending on the flour blend you use. With the King Arthur, the 2 1/2 cup has always been just right.)
  8. Flour your hands, and roll 1/4 cup size dough balls in the prepared garlic-flour, shake off any excess flour, and place the rolls on the prepared cookie sheets.
  9. Once all the rolls have been floured and place on the pans, lightly bruth the tops of the rolls with melted butter. You can leave the rolls roundly topped, or as in the second picture, cut gently into the top with a knife to form a crease.
  10. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for 45 minutes. (A trick for the winter is to turn on the light in your oven while you’re preparing the rolls and put the pans into the oven to rise. The warmth from the light will help the rolls to rise better. If you don’t have an oven light, another trick which my mother-in-law taught me is that you can also preheat your oven to the lowest setting – mine is 170 degrees – then turn off the oven and let it cool while you are preparing the rolls. This should allow the temperature in the oven to go down to the 70-80 degrees which is ideal for rising dough.)
  11. After the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  12. Place the two pans side by side in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the rolls have risen, are golden, and sound hollow when you tap them. If you are a temperature-taker, the internal temperature of the rolls should be 200 degrees.
  13. Remove the rolls from the oven and put them onto a cooling rack to cool. They can be stored in a tupperware on the counter and rewarmed in the oven or in the microwave.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Roasted Brussel Sprouts

“But it’s not the same….”

For many of us, the holidays ahead are fraught with mixed feelings. Usually, the anticipation of celebrating with family and friends adds to our excitement and joy, but this year, all around the world, people are being told not to do that one thing which makes the holidays the holidays – gathering with one another.

And that’s hard.

For me and my children, though, we have been having discussions about how we can still celebrate as a nuclear family, and of course, many of those conversations revolve around food.

Those conversations caused us to think about the pluses of not cooking for extended family members this year: you do not have to make that one dish that only one person eats but you “must” have; you can release the “perfectionistic” stress of making the pies and desserts look beautiful for the guests; you will be able to eat when the food is done and not when the last late member of the extended family decides to show up; and you get to keep all the leftovers for yourself instead of sharing with the extended members of the family.

How exciting is that?

To help you menu plan, I’m pointing you to previous years’ posts and adding a recipe for roasted Brussel sprouts below. I know many folks are not fond of them, but I have discovered that many folks have also not had them roasted, which makes all the difference.

I hope this Thanksgiving season will bring you much to be thankful for, despite the global and personal situations we find ourselves in this year.

Turkey Talk

Roasted Vegetable Medley

Winter Squash Soup

Vegetable Souffle

Vegan Spanakopita

Apple Pie

Apple Crisp

Vegan Pumpkin Pies

Grain Free Pumpkin Pie

Vegan, Gluten Free Cornbread for Stuffing

Thanksgiving Muffins

Orange Cranberry Muffins

Gluten Free Popovers

Dairy Free Cranberry Cheesecake

Dairy and Gluten Free Tiramisu

Pie Tips

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients:

3 lbs fresh Brussel sprouts (off the stalk)

4 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp ground onion powder

1/2 tsp ground garlic powder

Roasting Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line your largest shallow sheet pan with parchment paper. (Depending you may need to roast your spouts in two batches, if you can’t fit them all at one time on the pan.)
  2. Prepare your Brussel Sprouts by slicing off the hard, knobby ends, peeling off any outer leaves which are falling off, and cutting the sprouts in half.
  3. Place the prepared sprouts in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil.
  4. Season with the salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.
  5. Place the sprouts cut side down onto the prepared sheet pan, leaving some space around each sprout for air circulation.
  6. Roast for 30 minutes without opening the oven to check on them. When they are done, they will be crispy, blackish-brown.
  7. You can eat as is or if you want, toss them with thin slices of turkey bacon and/or drizzle with your favorite balsamic vinegar and/or a bit of maple syrup.
  8. You can make these ahead of time for Thanksgiving and then pop them into the oven at 300 degrees to rewarm and re-crisp them on Thanksgiving day.

 

Autumn Appetites: Vegetable Frittata

“Finding the beauty….”

The other day I drove up a hill toward my mother-in-law’s and was surprised by the colors suddenly surrounding me. Red, purple, orange and yellow – the leaves of the trees closest to the highway had already begun to change, and set against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, the beauty of it all made me stop – literally, since I pulled over to be able to better drink in the scene.

For many of us, these many months of the pandemic have thrown a wrench into our normal routines, and slowly we have had to build new routines and wrap our minds around new ways of doing and being. But nature has continued its usual paths. The leaves are changing (for those of us in the part of the US where that happens). Temperatures are cooling. Frost warnings compel us to close up the garden.

This latter life cycle event has meant bowls of tomatoes, peppers, kale and onions adorning my kitchen counter. (Fortunately the carrots and potatoes can remain in the ground still for now.) And what to do with the abundance has been a daily question. Like the leaves, there’s a beauty in the deep colors of the vegetables and the fact that we grew these and are reaping from our hard work. So, they should not be wasted.

This is where frittatas are useful. Quick and easy, they are also nutritious, especially when loaded with onions, kale and tomatoes. There’s also the ‘beauty” of a frittata, which are its versatility and indestructibility. You can add whatever you want to a frittata, and you really cannot mess it up. Plus it’s a great way to use up leftover cooked vegetables and meats, which makes for a fast meal on those busy nights.

The Basic Recipe:

2 tsp olive oil (or other preferred plant based oil)

1/2 cup onions (any type: red, white, yellow, green)

1 tsp minced garlic

1 1/2 tsp seasonings (your choice: oregano, thyme, basil, marjoram, rosemary, cumin, turmeric, etc….)

3 cups of chopped cooked vegetables and/or meats (If you don’t have leftovers, dice and cook vegetables and/or meats until cooked through: Be creative with kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, peppers, drained tomatoes, zucchini, squash, bacon, ham, chicken, sausage, etc….)*

9 large eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened “milk” (your choice: regular, soy, coconut, oat, etc….)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

*NOTE: If you want to add cheese (whether regular or dairy free) you can do that, too.

Basic Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a 14 inch cast iron pan, add the olive oil with the onions and minced garlic. Cook over medium low heat until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Add seasonings and cook for a minute to release the flavors.
  4. Add the cooked vegetables and mix well with the onions and garlic and seasonings. *Note: If you are adding cheese, sprinkle it over the top of the filling before adding the eggs.
  5. Whisk the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper, and pour over the filling in the pan. Shake the pan as needed to evenly cover the filling and the pan.
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes until the bottom of the egg mixture begins to set.
  7. Pop the cast iron pan into the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes. When done, the frittata will be puffed and firm to the touch with no runny egg.
  8. Enjoy!

 

Sweet Treats: Egg Yolk Chocolate Chip Cookies

“But what will you do with these….?”

I love making flour-less chocolate cake but if I don’t have egg whites and use whole eggs, I’m left with yolks which I don’t want to waste. So, I started looking around and discovered a nifty little recipe for egg yolk chocolate chip cookies. Of course, the recipe called for butter, sugar and all purpose flour, so a little revamping was required.

Here’s the recipe the kids and I reworked. Great little dessert bites for when you need just a little lift.

Gluten, Dairy Free Egg Yolk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

6 egg yolks

1 tsp gluten free vanilla

1/2 cup soy free vegan butter

1/2 cup Truvia stevia-sugar blend

2 1/2 cup King Arthur whole grain gluten free flour blend

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks with the vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer, beat the vegan butter until smooth. Add the Truvia blend and mix well.
  4. Add the egg yolks to the butter mixture and combine until smooth.
  5. Blend together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to the wet ingredients and blend well until combined.
  6. Add the mini chocolate chips.
  7. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Form batter into balls using level tablespoons of batter.
  8. Place formed cookie batter balls one inch apart on the cookie sheet and flatten each ball.
  9. Bake for about eight minutes, turning the cookie sheet halfway through the cooking time, until cookies are puffed and golden and firm to the touch.
  10. Let the cookies sit on the pan for two minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack to cool.

 

Summer Harvests: Tomato, Zucchini, and Kale Flatbread

“It’s what I want….”

Summer is a special time for our family because we celebrate two of our three children’s birthdays, one in July and one in August. The pandemic, though, put a bit of a damper on our usual festivities, so more emphasis was put on making something special and different for the birthday meals.

One of my daughters wanted to make flatbreads which is not as easy to do gluten free. However, I discovered that Schar makes a thin gluten free pizza crust which I could adapt, and with the garden providing an abundance of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and kale, we could create our own gluten free flatbreads for my daughter’s birthday meal.

There are no measurements for the ingredients because it really depends on how many flatbreads you are going to make, but I suggest cooking up a lot of the ingredients because once you’ve made a couple of these, you are going to want to make more in just a couple of days!

Tomato, Zucchini, and Kale Flatbread

Ingredients:

garlic cloves (I roasted about 40 cloves)

fresh basil (at least a cup to two cups worth of leaves)

black pepper and salt (to taste)

olive oil (for both the garlic and for the basil-garlic sauce)

onions, thinly sliced (at least a couple of cups worth)

olive oil (for caramelizing the onions)

kale, thinly sliced (at least a couple of cups worth; remember that you double the amount of fresh to get what you need cooked)

zucchini(thinly sliced into half moons; about a couple of cups worth)

minced garlic, olive oil, dried oregano, salt and black pepper (for both the kale and zucchini)

tomatoes (thinly sliced and drained of the seeds; two to four tomatoes at least)

Schar gluten free thin pizza crusts (as many as you think you’ll make; each package has two crusts; we made four but then made another two a day later!)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. In an ovenproof pan, coat the garlic cloves with just enough olive oil to keep the cloves from sticking. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes until they are browned and shriveling and the aroma fills your kitchen. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
  3. Add the garlic cloves to a food processor with the basil leaves and begin to food process both, adding just enough olive oil to make a paste. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Set aside.
  4. In a pan on the stovetop, coat the sliced onions with just enough olive oil to coat and cook the onions over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice until the onions are golden and caramelized. Remove from the heat and let them cool.
  5. In a pan on the stovetop, separately saute both the kale and zucchini with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper until they are tender. Remove and allow them to cool.
  6. Slice the tomatoes and drain them in a colander, removing the seeds. Set aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 410 degrees. Place the pizza crusts on a cookie sheet and bake for 3 minutes. Then flip the crusts and bake for another 3 minutes.
  8. Spread some of the basil-garlic paste thinly over the crust. Layer with caramelized onions, then tomatoes, then zucchini, then kale.
  9. Bake in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes until the crust is crispy and browned.
  10. Remove to wire cooling racks for five to ten minutes. Enjoy!

 

Summer Harvests: Zucchini-Squash Bake

“That time again….”

This time of year is my favorite. The garden is blooming with zucchini, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, and kale. From the garden to the kitchen to the dinner table, these veggies make for great meals on summer days. The only down side is that we often find ourselves with such a plentiful yield that I need to come up with different ways of serving the vegetables so we are not caught in a rut.

This week, I had an abundance of zucchini and squash and thought I would look up some recipes online. I noticed that there were several sites boasting a zucchini-squash bake but noticed that they were actually the very same recipe over and over again for using heavy cream and butter and cheese to make a white sauce for the vegetables.

Since a dairy allergy precludes all three of those ingredients, I decided to revamp the recipe to create my own sauce. I also decided the recipe had too many complicated steps and made some changes so the prep work would be about ten minutes tops, and the oven could do the rest. The result was pretty tasty.

Zucchini-Squash Bake

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp oregano

2 tbsp chopped green onions

8 cups sliced zucchini and squash (cut in half, then sliced into half moons)

1 tbsp olive oil (not a mistake – more olive oil in addition to the first)

2 tbsp garbanzo bean flour

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

1 cup Violife dairy free cheddar cheese

1 cup unsweetened soy milk (not a mistake – another cup’s worth in addition to the first cup)

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp ground onion powder

1 cup freshly chopped basil

2 tbsp chopped green onions (yes, another two tablespoons)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pan, heat the olive oil with the minced garlic, oregano and green onions for about a minute to release the flavors.
  3. Toss in the chopped zucchini and squash moons and saute for about two to three minutes, just until the colors become vibrant and the herbs have flavored the vegetables. Removed from the heat source and set aside.
  4. In a smaller pan, heat the 1 tbsp olive oil for about a minute. Add the garbanzo bean flour and stir until the flour is completely absorbed into the oil.
  5. Add the first one cup of soy milks, stirring until the flour mixture is dissolved and the mixture begins to thicken.
  6. Add the Violife cheese shreds and stir until until melted. It will be thick.
  7. Stir in the second one cup of soy milk until the sauce is thinner and smooth.
  8. Add the black pepper, onion powder and basil. Remove from the heat.
  9. Stir the sauce into the sauteed zucchini and squash until well coated.
  10. Pour the vegetables into an 11 x 7 pan and sprinkle the green onions on top.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.
  12. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Corona Cooking: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

“It depends on your perspective….”

For many of us, the topsy-turvy daily changing world we are currently living in as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic is not welcomed. We fear for more than just our physical health. The closing of schools can exacerbate familial tensions. Mandated work leave may bring financial hardship. Social distancing can increase already felt isolation. Much stands to be lost, both globally and locally.

Yet, for just as many, this is an opportunity to embrace rest from the stresses of the daily grind and routine. Some see this as a time to be with family members we have too little time for in the midst of the usual “rushing here and there” lives we live. Others have been taking the unexpected time at home to spring clean or to create or to try something new. Many have been connecting more via social media, encouraging one another, even as social distancing prevents physical gatherings.

Perspective is an interesting concept. It refers to the view from which someone considers something, and recently I realized just how different my perspective is from a well-known cooking organization. “Ground-breaking recipes” in bold letters hailed my attention across the grocery aisle. I wondered what they had learned which those of us who had been cooking gluten free for years did not already know.

On the positive side, I was glad that this particular organization had created a gluten free issue of their magazine. It seemed to me, they’d been slow to do so. As I read through their recipes and suggestions, they appeared to offer good advice and had great tips, a couple of which I actually hadn’t tried myself before. They even had a short section at the end about those who are dairy sensitive as well as gluten, offering some ways to alter their recipes.

Where I took issue, though, was very bald statements they made about the fact that in order to create tasty gluten free food, only white rice flour should be used, that if you deviate from their homemade versions of flour blends you do so at your own risk, and that only a few of their recipes should be amended because the butter, whole eggs, and sugar were necessary. Since white rice flour has absolutely no nutritional value, and few people have the time to make their own homemade flour blends, and even more people are trying to eat healthier with less butter, whole eggs, and sugar, I found myself a bit put-out overall by the magazine.

And since I have a bit of time on my hands these days, I decided to see if I could literally make the magazine eat their words. I took one of their recipes for a dark chocolate cupcake and altered it to see if the difference was as stark as the magazine indicated it would be. My test-eaters agreed it was not, and that they actually preferred the version I had created. So, I share it here with you now, in case you, too, have some unexpected time to bake.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 cup safflower oil

3/4 cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips

2/3 cup Hershey unsweetened Special Dark cocoa powder

1 1/4 cup King Arthur whole grain gluten free flour blend

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup liquid egg whites

2 whole eggs

2 tsp gluten free vanilla

1 cup coconut sugar or monk fruit sweetener blend

1 cup non-dairy milk (soy or oat or flax)

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin/cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
  2. In a large microwave safe measuring cup, melt together the safflower oil, dark chocolate chips, and unsweetened cocoa powder by microwaving for a minute and stirring until everything is smooth and completely melted. Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine in a bowl, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the egg whites, eggs, vanilla and coconut or monk fruit sugar until well mixed.
  5. To the large bowl of liquid ingredients, add the cooled chocolate and milk, blending well.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the the liquid and stir until all ingredients are completely incorporated and mixture is smooth.
  7. Divide the batter evenly among the lined tins.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes until the cupcakes are puffed, dry and firm to the touch.
  9. Remove from the tins and allow the cupcakes to cool on wire cooling racks.
  10. Eat as is or frost with desired frosting.

 

 

Handling Holidays: Grain Free, Vegan Pumpkin Pie

“It’s just one more thing….”

The song tells us that “it is the most wonderful time of the year,” but all too often it is also the most stressful time of the year. On top of the usual routines and busyness, we add having to prepare for festive dinners and company, present shopping, holiday recitals and business gatherings, and a myriad of other events and preparations which are squashed into a six week period of time.

If you add on top of all that having to make sure that the food you prepare can accommodate Uncle Bob’s dietary restrictions and little Susan’s food allergies, it can become overwhelming – as one mom mentioned to me this week. She needed to know how to make a pumpkin pie which was grain free, vegan, and nut free. She figured the nut free part she could do, but she didn’t know what to do about the grain free and vegan parts.

So, I went to work. Instead of wheat flour and butter for the crust, I used Cassava flour and vegan butter which are grain free and vegan, but decreased the butter from 16 tbsp to 10, which was more than enough. For the pumpkin filling, I used flax milk and arrow root flour to substitute for the evaporated milk and egg, both of which are grain free and vegan. Because this would affect the silky, custardy texture, though, of the pie, I added a small amount of oil to the filling to increase the fat content but which added good fats instead of bad. For both the crust and the pie, I omitted sugar, using only a small amount of agave and some monk fruit sweetener for the filling so folks could really taste the pumpkin. For added flavor for both the crust and filling, I used spices and orange peel. The result was a tasty pie which the whole family could enjoy.

Vegan, Grain Free Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients for the crust: (will make two crusts)

2 1/2 cups cassava flour

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp grated, dried orange peel

1 cup plus 2 tbsp vegan butter

1 tbsp vinegar

6 to 10 tbsp cold water

Ingredients for filling: (filling is for one pie; double for two)

2 3/4 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin

1 1/2 cup unsweetened flax milk (can use soy or almond milk if you prefer; just make sure it has no grain starches added)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp grated, dried orange peel

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp agave

1/4 golden monk fruit sweetener blend

1 tbsp arrow root flour

1 tbsp extra light olive oil

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients for the crust: the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel.
  3. Cut in the butter with a pastry knife or grate cold butter squares with a grater into the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add the vinegar and cold water, beginning with 6 tbsp and adding one tablespoon at a time as needed until the doug is moistened and holds together well for rolling.
  5. Form the dough into two balls and then pat into disc shape. Roll one of the balls between two pieces of wax or parchment paper dusted with flour to fit 9 or 9.5 inch pie pans. (If making two pies, do the same with the other ball. If only making one pie, wrap the disc tightly in plastic wrap twice and put into the fridge. Will last for a couple of weeks. Just be sure to let it sit at room temperature before rolling for use.)
  6. Shape the crust in the pie pan and set aside.
  7. Combine the pumpkin, flax milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, orange peel, salt, agave, and monk fruit sweetener until well blended.
  8. Add the arrow root flour and olive oil. Mix well.
  9. Pour into the prepared crust.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Then cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil, reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 40 minutes until the filling has puffed a bit and only jiggles in the center.
  11. Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for 15 to 30 minutes, before placing in the fridge to cool and set completely.
  12. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Cooking: Grain Free Spice Pancakes

“Nope, none at all….”

Whenever I lead a workshop, inevitably someone asks me my opinion about all the “diets” which are being lauded these days which advocate restricting this or that. I always tell folks that they and their doctors know best for their health, but as a general rule for many people, as long as there are no health issues, I believe in a diet which moderately mixes the food groups – healthy vegetables and fruit, lean proteins like fish, chicken, beans and tofu, and whole grains like barley, oats, and quinoa – with a healthy baked treat every so often. Add in a doctor approved exercise regiment, and you’re good to go, in my opinion.

Lately, though, I seem to be meeting more and more folks who can’t eat any grains at all for a variety of health related reasons, and they find themselves frustrated that foods they enjoyed may be a thing of the past. Fortunately, there are many grain free flours these days. The most common on the market and easily found in supermarkets are almond, coconut, bean, and cassava flours.

For cooking needs, such as breading chicken or fish or thickening a sauce, these grain free flours work the same way that regular flour does and needs no adjustments.  When using them for baking, the number one consideration is that these flours require more moisture so often you need to increase the number of eggs or the amount of liquid ingredient being used. I often just begin with 1/4 cup increase to start and experiment from there.

Almond and cassava flours tend to work best if you’re looking for a 1 to 1 substitute. Coconut flour is much more absorbent so you can usually only use up to 1/3 cup for every cup of flour you are substituting. Bean flours are heavier so you should decrease the amount to 3/4 cup for every cup of regular flour. For all the flours, they bake best in items such as pancakes, muffins, waffles, shallow quick breads, and cookies. If you want to use them in cakes, you need to mix them with lighter grain free flours like tapioca or arrowroot flours.

For this post, I made a garbanzo bean and cassava flour pancake, heavy with Autumn spices, which is filling and substantial so folks can make due with just one or two for a protein-filled breakfast. They have the added benefit of not having any sugar in them. We topped ours with sauteed, seasonal apples, and they were yummy.

Grain Free Spice Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour

1/2 cup cassava flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup unsweetened dairy free milk (we used soy but flax or oat or almond work, too)

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 eggs

1/4 plant based oil (we used safflower but extra light olive oil or avocado oil would work, too)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Mix together the garbanzo bean and cassava flours with the baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt. Set aside.
  2. Blend together the unsweetened milk with the lemon juice, and add the eggs and oil.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet and mix until well blended.
  4. Heat a griddle at 325 to 350 degrees or a skillet on the stove on medium heat. If either is nonstick, no additional greasing is needed. If neither are nonstick, then you’ll need to grease your pan with your preferred method.
  5. Pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and let it cook for a minute or two until the edges become dry. Flip and finish cooking on the other side for 30 seconds to a minute. Your pancake will rise and be golden on both side when they are done.
  6. To keep the pancakes warm, put them into a glass container with a lid and put them into a preheated oven on the lowest setting (mine is 170 degrees). To cool, put them on a wire rack, and then stack them in a container to keep in the fridge. To reheat, just popped them into the toaster or in the microwave. They freeze well, too.

Creative Cooking: Orange Chiffon Cake

“Labors of love….”

“I’m sorry, Mama,” said my son. He and I were in the car, and I was not feeling well. He was not apologizing because I didn’t feel well. He was sorry because he felt badly that I was driving him even though I was not well.

Mothers do this all the time, placing our children’s needs before our own. Most of us don’t think twice. I assured my son that he didn’t need to feel badly about anything. If I was truly unable to drive him, I would not have, but for me, being able to do things for my children brings me joy.

Recently, we celebrated a birthday in the family, and I made a chiffon cake, which was requested. I realized that I hadn’t made a chiffon cake in many, many years because it is more work than a regular cake, and I certainly hadn’t made one to accommodate food allergies.

The first thing you’ll see when you google chiffon cakes is that the recipes vary. There are what they call “easy” recipes which use very few eggs and take less time and then there are the more “complicated” recipes which I read were the better way to go. Because the cake was another “labor of love” for someone I care about very much, it was a no-brainer. Complicated it was.

As it was, chiffon cakes are not complicated, just time-consuming. Most recipes want you to bring the eggs to room temperature first, and then the eggs require several steps: separating the whites from the yolks, whipping the whites, and folding them into the batter. At the end, the chiffon cake also requires complete cooling time in an upside down position which had several recipes concocting elaborate sets with soda bottles to hold up the cake pan!

It seemed I needed to find a way to make things less complicated, so I did.

First, I simply took the eggs out as my first step and immediately separated the yolks from the whites, and I put the whites on the counter to sit while I assembled the other ingredients and got out my pan. It’s important to note that you need a tube pan for chiffon cake, and if you have a tube pan like mine where the center tube is wide and longer than the edges of the pan, you can simply turn your pan upside down on the tube to cool at the end with no elaborate strategy needed.

For substitutes, I swapped olive oil for the vegetable or canola oil used in most recipes, and I used monk fruit sugar in place of sugar, reducing the amount by 1/3. For the all purpose flour, I used King Arthur’s whole grain gluten free blend. Because I was using a gluten free flour, I wanted to make sure my eggs were well-whipped and airy, so I increased the cream of tartar to 1 tsp from the usual 1/4 tsp, and I increased the baking powder to 1 tbsp. By the time I had measured out all the other ingredients, I felt enough time had elapsed that I could whip the whites, and I was correct.

The resulting cake was light and airy and tasty, and I’m thinking I may even make it again!

Orange Chiffon Cake

Ingredients:

9 large eggs (will use 9 whites but only 7 yolks)

2 1/4 cups gluten free flour blend

1 cup monk fruit sugar blend (divided into 1/4 cup, 1/4 cup, and 1/2 cup)

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp dried orange peel

3/4 cup unsweetened orange juice

1/2 cup extra light olive oil

1 tsp cream of tartar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and put out a tube pan. You do not grease the pan for a chiffon cake.
  2. Separate the yolks from the whites. You will use only seven yolks for the cake. (I put the extra two yolks in a bowl and added other eggs to them the next time I made a fritatta.) Let the nine egg whites sit in a bowl to be whipped, and put the seven yolks into a large bowl.
  3. Mix together, the flour, 1/2 cup of the monk fruit sugar, baking powder, salt, and orange peel. Set aside.
  4. To the bowl with the egg yolks, add 1/4 cup of the monk fruit sugar, orange juice, and olive oil and blend well. Set aside.
  5. To the egg whites, add the cream of tartar and last 1/4 cup of the monk fruit sugar, and whip until the egg whites are crayon white, doubled in size, thick and airy and when you pull the whisk up, the whites form a sturdy upside down peak.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend well.
  7. Using a curved spatula, gently fold the egg whites in a little at a time to the batter until all the egg whites have been incorporated. This will take time. Best not to hurry the process. Just slowly fold the whites in while you think about how lovely it will be when everyone enjoys the cake. *grin*
  8. Using the spatula carefully put the batter into the tube pan and once all the batter is in, gently tap the pan to let the batter settle.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes. The cake will be puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
  10. Put the tube pan upside down. If your pan is like mine, you can just set it on the center tube. If not, you want air to be able to circulate so place at least two items opposite one another so you can balance the pan upside down with space between the pan and the counter.
  11. Allow the cake to cool completely. This may take several hours, depending on how warm or cool your kitchen is.
  12. Once completely cooled, go around the edges between the cake and the pan with a butter knife to release the cake from the pan. Be sure to do the same between the cake and middle tube. When the cake releases, you will note that the cake is crummy around the sides where it stuck to the pan and tube. I use clean fingers to gently rub the excess crumbs off the sides of the cake so it will be neater.
  13. Serve the cake as is with whipped cream or ice cream or frost with your favorite frosting.
  14. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creative Cooking: Free Form Tomato Vegetable Tart

“The season is ending….”

While Autumn brings the delights of apple and pumpkin season, it also means the end of the garden-fresh tomatoes, eggplants and kale, which arguably taste so much better than store-purchased varieties. To take advantage of the last of these veggies, courtesy of my sister-in-law’s and mother-in-law’s gardens, I decided I’d make a vegetable tart to go with the vegan roast I had decided to make for dinner last night.

I forewarn folks that this is not my typical recipe – it is not quick to make. It requires time but I assure you it’s so worth the effort, which is the reason I put aside my usual laziness in favor of making the tart. I also figured out how to do several of the steps at once to make the cooking more efficient, which I’ll include in the instructions.

The key to a good tart is a good crust. When I googled, though, I discovered that recipes seemed to think you needed to use no less than 1 1/2 to 2 cups of butter, eggs, white flour, and a couple of teaspoons of salt, and in some case, also sugar – all of which I didn’t agree. So, the first step was to create a tart dough which I could stand by. That meant reducing and substituting for the butter and salt, omitting eggs, and using gluten free flour. To enhance the flavor of the crust and keep the crust together without as much butter, I opted to pulse in fresh basil leaves which worked beautifully.

The second important ingredient to a good tart is the flavor from the veggies. What I found, though, is that most vegetable tart recipes seem to rely on cheese – a lot of cheese – which does give flavor but camouflages the flavor of the veggies. So, I needed to find ways to enhance the flavors so cheese would not be necessary. This meant roasting the eggplant, caramelizing onions to mix with the kale, and letting the tomatoes rest for a bit with a salt-garlic mixture.

The result was a wonderful tart which we thoroughly enjoyed with dinner and which I hope you will, too. I’m thinking it will become a go-to for holiday celebrations because it was so pretty, flavorful, and vegan.

Free Form Tomato-Vegetable Tart

Ingredients:

two small eggplants (about 4-5 inches long and 2-3 inches wide)

2 cups gluten free flour blend

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (packed means push the leaves down; if you loosely put them in, it would be 2 cups)

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup soy free vegan butter, cut into small pieces (two 8 tbsp bars)

1 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar but balsamic or white are good if you want a different flavor)

1/4 cup water

eight medium tomatoes (about 3 inches by 3 inches; I used two different types for color contrast)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp minced garlic

8 oz sliced onions (about two cups; I used sweet white onions)

olive oil

5 oz fresh kale and/or spinach leaves (about 3 cups packed down)

1/4 cup vegan parmesan

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, sliced into thin slices

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prick the eggplants several times with fork tines to release steam while they are roasting. When the oven is preheated, place the eggplants on a small cookie sheet and roast them for about 40 minutes. When they are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. Do not turn off the oven, because you will be cooking the tart at the same temperature.
  2. While the oven is preheating, put the gluten free flour, the basil leaves and the salt into a food processor. Pulse until they are thoroughly mixed together and the basil leaves are small pieces incorporated into the flour. Add the vegan butter and pulse until small butter pieces are incorporated throughout the flour mixture. Mix the vinegar with the water and pour into the food processor. Pulse until you have a cohesive dough. Use a rubber scraper to remove the dough from the food processor onto a piece of saran wrap. Wrap the dough and shape into a disk. Place into the refrigerator. (If you do not have a food processor, use a pastry knife or two regular knives to chop first the basil and then the butter into the flour, and then mix the liquid into the flour with a fork until a batter forms.)
  3. After putting the eggplant into the oven and the tart dough into the fridge, slice the tomatoes into about 1/4 inch slices and put them into a large bowl. (I used two different colors of tomatoes [four of each] so that they’d look prettier in the tart, but all of the same type works, too.) To the tomatoes in the bowl, add the salt and minced garlic and gently toss to coat all the tomatoes. Then just let the tomatoes sit. While they are sitting, they will release their juices, which is what you want to happen.
  4. After getting the tomatoes ready, put the sliced onions into a shallow, wide cooking pan and mix with just enough olive oil to coat the onions. Turn the burner to low heat and allow the onions to slowly cook for about 20 minutes, stirring just every once and while. When the onions are completely caramelized, they will be a golden brown, soft, and look like they have a sticky sauce on them. When they are done, add the kale and/or spinach leaves and cook for about two minutes, just until the leaves begin to wilt and the onions and kale/spinach are well mixed together. When done, turn off the burner and let them cool.
  5. By now, your eggplants will be done and cooled a bit. Peel off the skins (this is easily done with clean fingers), chop the eggplants into small pieces, and stir the pieces into the onion-kale mixture.
  6. After that is done, drain the liquid from the tomatoes.
  7. Remove the tart dough from the fridge, and on a piece of floured parchment or directly on a cookie sheet, roll the dough into a 16 inch circle. (I used a 16 inch round pizza pan which meant simply rolling the dough out to the edges of the pan with a small roller that fit directly in the pan. If you use the parchment paper, you will need to transfer the dough to a sheet pan large enough to fit the circle of dough.)
  8. Sprinkle the vegan parmesan onto the dough, leaving a one inch margin around the edge of the dough. (The parmesan will help absorb any extra moisture from the vegetables so you do want to include it. If you would rather not for any reason, I suggest using a 1/4 cup of gluten free bread crumbs instead.)
  9. Carefully put the onion-kale-eggplant mixture on top of the sprinkled parmesan, leaving that one inch margin along the edges of the dough. Then, if using two kinds of tomatoes, alternate the tomatoes in circles on top of the onion-kale-eggplant mixture. Make sure the veggies are even all the way around.
  10. Then, using clean fingers and the help of a rubber scraper, gently push up the one inch margin of dough to form an outside crust around the vegetables. Once the crust is formed, sprinkle the sliced basil on top of the tomatoes to the edge of the crust.
  11. In the still preheated 400 degree oven, place the tart and bake for a total of 50 minutes, turning the tart around halfway through the cooking time. When the tart is done, the dough would have puffed a bit, be golden brown, and firm to the touch.
  12. Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before cutting into it, so that all the juices will settle, and it will be easier to cut. Use a very sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the tart into slices.

 

 

 

 

Creative Cooking: Orange Chocolate Marble Bundt

“Baking grief….”

Last weekend, our family attended yet another funeral. In five years, we’ve been to over 20, a majority for friends who died too young from cancer. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you can predict what I did with my grief. I went to the kitchen.

Our friend who had died had been a musician, full of fun, and who liked to laugh and keep people on their toes. So, as I thought about his personality, I wanted to create a dessert in his honor, something whimsical. Now, I know that sounds strange – how does one make a food whimsical, but I was determined.

I began by considering types of desserts, and since you all know how lazy I am, a cake was the default choice over cookies or pies or pastries. Also, because I consider Bundt cakes to be pretty and special, that also was an obvious choice.

The question was what type of Bundt cake. I wanted something a bit unusual, and as I thought about foods which were a bit different, those chocolate oranges came to my mind. I would combine an orange flavored batter with a chocolate one to make a marble cake. I wanted it to have a bit more whimsy, though, so I also decided to add mini chocolate chips to the orange batter so half the batter would be orange-chocolate and the other orange-chocolate chip.

Since I knew there’d be so much sugar from the chocolate chips, I used agave and monk fruit sweetener and unsweetened orange juice and unsweetened oat milk to reduce the added sugars in the batter. I also wanted to reduce the fat somewhat so I opted to use mostly egg whites and a lower amount of olive oil than usually called for in a Bundt cake.

The result was a tasty cake which was also pretty, and to my mind, rather whimsical – a good tribute to our friend.

Orange-Pumpkin Marble Cake

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsweetened oat milk

1/2 cup unsweetened orange juice

2 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend (I used a whole grain blend)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp dried orange peel

1/2 cup extra light olive oil

1/2 cup agave

1/2 cup classic monk fruit sweetener

1/2 cup liquid egg whites

1 large egg

1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

second 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the Bundt pan. I used vegan soy free butter and then sprinkled ground flax seed to coat the pan.
  2. Combine the oat milk with the orange juice and let it sit to thicken.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange peel, and set aside.
  4. To the oat milk mixture, add the oil, agave, monk fruit sweetener, egg whites and egg. Mix well.
  5. Divide the batter so that 60% is in one bowl and 40% is in a second bowl.
  6. In the microwave, melt the mini chocolate chips by microwaving for 20 seconds, stirring, and then microwaving for an additional 10 seconds so that you can completely stir the chips to a smooth consistency. Let it cool for a minute.
  7. Add a spoonful of the 40% batter to the melted chocolate and stir well. Add a second spoonful and stir well. Then add all of the chocolate mixture to the 40% batter bowl and mix until well combined.
  8. To the remaining 60% of the orange batter, add the second 1/2 cup of mini chips and stir until combined.
  9. To make the Bundt cake, drop alternating spoonfuls of the two batters in a layer. Then continue to layer the batter with alternate spoonfuls of the batter which are opposite to the layer below. When all the batter has been used, gently tap the pan on the counter so the layers can settle.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the cake has puffed, is golden, and a toothpick inserted into it comes out clean.
  11. Remove the pan to a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool a minimum of 25 minutes, but longer is better. Then remove the cake from the pan to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  12. You can enjoy the cake as is or if you want to make it a bit more special, drizzle melted chocolate over the top and sprinkle with finely chopped bits of candied orange peel and chocolate.