Tag Archives: recipes

Cake or Cake?

A few years back my sister, Mrs. Music, introduced me to the Eddie Izzard skit, “Cake or Death?”.

The cake or death part starts at 5min, but the whole thing is funny. I’ll wait.

Back? Okay. Well, gluten free cake can be the “death” in the cake or death question, as it doesn’t really rate as cake. For the past few years I’ve been making non-cake cake. It’s a recipe off Allrecipes.com and is pretty good, but the texture still isn’t very cake-like. For SoupKing’s birthday this year I googled in hopes of finding a recipe that a) didn’t list ingredients I couldn’t find and b)was better than my standard non-cake cake.

I did, indeed, find an excellent recipe. I think I followed most of the instructions without alterations the first go around. It had better flavor, moisture and texture, but it was a tad too mushy.

Miss Drama’s birthday was yesterday and so I needed to whip up a cake. After all, a birthday without cake? Clearly death (okay, not really, but definitely a very sad birthday.) So I looked up the recipe I last used with vague notions of improving it. Turns out, I was out of coconut flour, which turned out to be serendipitous.

  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 3 cup all purpose gluten free flour (recipe at end of post HERE) *no two flour blends are quite the same so keep that in mine*
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon GF Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (or non-dairy substitute– I used goat milk)
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free vanilla (I may have been more generous as I kind of just poured some into the batter)

In addition to tweaking the ingredients I ignored the instructions and proceeded with traditional cake making procedure, starting with pre-heating the oven to 350F. Then I creamed the eggs, sugar and oil together and added the vanilla. I was using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. If you add too much liquid or flour too quickly you end up wearing a fair amount. So, I alternated adding a little flour and a little milk until all of it was combined. I let it mix for 2 minutes at high speed. Then I sprayed two round cake pans, dusted with a few pinches of the flour mix, poured in the batter and cooked. I’d start with 20 min and then check every couple of minutes after that depending on your oven. One of the cakes was done in about 22min., while the other took closer to 30min as it was a bit more full.

Cool and ice and tada, almost-cake cake! It wasn’t too mushy, yet it had that great moisture you want in a cake. The texture reminded me of the best box mixes or a freshly baked cake from a bakery.

Almost-cake cake!

Mrs. Music deemed it evilly delicious and even Mr. Music commented on how good it was and he isn’t used to gluten-free baking. The remaining little bit that was left last night didn’t last through today, so I’m pretty sure this cake is a keeper. If not for the fact that I ate a rather large amount last night, I may have made another today, as it is MY birthday today. Instead, I ate a whole pint of goat milk ice cream–far less effort.

To celebrate my victory over cake death and my birthday, wander over to InkStained Succubus, comment and get a chance to win a free digital copy of my book Fated Bonds.

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Buns!

I’ve done several recipes of gluten free buns. All of them tasted great, but they were usually lacking in the consistency department. There was the time I attempted my own baking rings and had bread mass versus rolls. There was another time my rolls became more of this big giant pull-apart thing. You get the idea. Wet dough = crappy roll.

I wanted to fix sloppy joes yesterday, but the store was out of gluten free buns. So, once again I turned to the internet, but I can’t help tweaking things so mine was slightly different than the one I found. I really liked this one as the process was simple. Some recipes call for multiple rises, which is more than I care to do for a quick dinner.

Gluten free buns

  • 1.5 c brown rice flour
  • 1/2 c sorghum
  • 1 c tapioca
  • 1 tbs yeast (I used bread machine yeast as that’s what I had)
  • 1 tbs xanthum (Yes, that is a lot, but you really do need a firmer dough for buns)
  • 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tsp thyme (optional or could use any herb mix you like)
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar or honey (I used honey)
  • 3/4c warm water
  • 4 eggs (warmed to room temp)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • optional onion seeds, sesame, or poppy seeds pressed into top of buns

Mix all the dry ingredients. In a mixer bowl, crack eggs, beat well, and add the rest of the liquid ingredients. Add the flour to the liquid and mix for 2 minutes using a paddle attachment. If the dough is dry add up to 1/4 more water, but dough should not be wet, just a bit sticky.

Grease a cookie sheet or use parchment paper to line. Coat your hands in oil and scoop up roughly 1/4-1/3 cup and roll into a ball. Do this until you have ~8 buns and (redistribute as needed). Then, flatten the balls, gently pressing the onion seeds or other decorative seasoning into the top.

Let the buns sit in a warm place to rise for about 45 min. (I let them rise a good 10-15min longer than recipe called for). Preheat oven to 400 while buns are rising. When they have risen, back for 10-20 min. They are done when they are golden brown.

dough before rising

dough before rising

Buns!

Buns!

They had an excellent taste, cut well even when hot, and stood up to the massive amount of sloppy joe ground beef slathered on them.

Bake and enjoy my fellow GF peeps and if you like, here’s the original recipe!

I’m becoming my mother

Yes, I said it. It’s happening. I’m turning into my mother. I don’t mean the whole, “If you don’t quit making that face, it’ll freeze like that.” I never bought that line, so I don’t sell it. I just tell them it’s annoying or they look stupid.

No, I’m referring to recipe tweakification. (That’s not a word? I’m an author. I henceforth declare it a word.) When I was little, my mom almost never followed recipes. Oh, for baking she’d have some, but even then would add some of this and a little of that. She began cooking solo in her early to mid-teens. I didn’t break out to solo sauteing adventures until I was about  nineteen. It’s one thing to assist as sous chef and another to man the whole operation.

My first foray into cooking involved lots of Lea and Perrins. What can I say? I loved the stuff. Eat food tasting like it long enough, and even the most die-hard fans will want other seasoning. I bought some Indian cookbooks, and then ventured into tried and true American classics, and then I discovered baking. My very first baking project was a pumpkin pie. I think I ate it all myself because the ex didn’t like pumpkin pie. It turned out well, even if I was sick of pumpkin pie by week’s end. I then tried cookies, and cakes, and found that brownies were my kryptonite. I was hitting my stride when gluten intolerance struck (and dairy intolerance).

I didn’t quite go all the way back to square one, but there was definitely a learning curve in regards to the many flours and starches used in GF baking. I still use recipes, especially if it’s a new dish, but I’m not afraid to venture beyond the ingredients list.

On Easter Sunday, I made some lovely dinner rolls. Granted, I didn’t let them rise long enough, and they may have needed a bit more flour to maintain a rounder shape, but the texture and taste were lovely. A guest asked, “There’s no gluten in these? At all?”

That, my internet denizens is a sign of GF baking success. I had been worried, because I essentially cobbled together a couple of different recipes. Soup king asked what I put in it, and I started listing ingredients and the additions to the recipes. He expressed frustration that I never exactly follow a recipe anymore. I commiserate. I had the same frustration once with my mother.

 

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

I stopped at Whole Foods on the way home. I was out of ginger and with stomach plague rampaging through the house, this was a horror I could not allow to persist. Of course, I ended up getting other stuff.

On the way through the gluten free isle, I passed a couple pondering gluten free mac ‘n cheese options. I stopped, backtracked a step and pointed to the better one.

“That one tastes the best.”

According to Miss Drama, we ended up talking FOREVER. Then again, in Miss Drama’s world, anything over five seconds is forever.  The encounter reminded me that I should share my gluten free sandwich bread recipe with the world. This one mimics white bread. I have one from a recipe book that I’ve tweaked which is reminiscent of an Italian bread, and when I substitute buckwheat tastes almost rye-like. While simpler, they lack the soft flexibility of good old white bread. My next plan is to try my hand at a multi-grain bread, but I suspect I may be the only one in the house that actually LIKES multi-grain bread.

I have two versions of the recipe, one for old fashioned baking in an oven and another I adapted for a bread machine. A lot of folks cannot tolerate corn. Supposedly, potato starch is interchangeable with cornstarch. I’ve yet to try that, as potato starch is more bothersome to me than cornstarch. Tapicoa is another alternative, but that may cause crumbling and likely is not a one to one switch. If you don’t like soy, try millet in its place.

Version 1:

  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 4 tbsp sugar (or honey)
  • 1.5 c water (warm)
  • 3c GF flour mix (see below)
  • 2.5 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vinegar

flour mix:

It’s given in parts so you can make any amount you wish. I’ll put the parts and the cups that I calculated. I ended up with a little left over which I stored away for next time.

  • 3 parts brown rice flour [1 cup]
  • 3 parts corn starch [1 cup]
  • 2 parts soy flour [2/3 c]
  • 1 part masa harina or finely ground corn flour [1/3c]  Masa harina would be in the Mexican food section of the grocery store.

Directions

Preheat oven on LOWEST setting

  1. In a small bowl combine yeast and sugar and slowly add the water, stirring to dissolve the yeast. Let sit.
  2. Mix flours, sift 2.5 c into a large bowl and add the other dry ingredients.
  3. In another medium sized bowl whisk eggs, oil, and vinegar until the eggs are slightly frothy.
  4. Add the yeast to the eggs and mix.
  5. Add the liquid to flour and mix for four minutes. The dough is wet and tends to climb the beaters, but I just raised it partially out periodically. I got a new mixer that comes with a paddle, which works perfectly for gluten free batters.
  6. TURN OFF OVEN
  7. Transfer batter to a greased loaf pan. Glass cooks more evenly than aluminum.
  8. Allow to rise for 20 or 30 minutes until it is even with the top of the pan.
  9. Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes. (My oven is a bit hot, so I baked at 350 for 60 minutes and it was perfect.)
  10. Allow to cool and enjoy 🙂

Tips and tricks

  1.  Don’t let the bread rise too much past even with the pan or it’ll fall.
  2. The loaves I made this way tended to be a bit delicate. The bread machine version works better with all 3 cups of flour. I haven’t made one by hand in awhile, but this may improve the texture.
  3. Honey can be substituted for sugar and as little as a single tbsp (honey or sugar) can be used. Soy flour is a bit strong, though, which is why I added more.

Version 2:

  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 4 tbsp sugar (or honey)
  • 1.5 c water (warm)
  • 3c GF flour mix (see below)
  • 2.5 tsp xanthum gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp flax meal

flour mix:

It’s given in parts so you can make any amount you wish. I’ll put the parts and the cups that I calculated. I ended up with a little left over which I stored away for next time.

  • 3 parts brown rice flour [1 cup]
  • 3 parts corn starch [1 cup]
  • 2 parts soy flour [2/3 c]
  • 1 part masa harina or finely ground corn flour [1/3c]  Masa harina would be in the Mexican food section of the grocery store. OR 1/3c Sorghum (I think I prefer the sorghum). IF you choose not to use the flax meal, use 1/2 c Sorghum

Directions

  1. In a small bowl combine yeast and sugar, flax, and slowly add the water, stirring to dissolve the yeast. Let sit.
  2. Mix flours, sift ALL OF THE ABOVE MIX into a large bowl and add the other dry ingredients.
  3. In another medium sized bowl whisk eggs, oil, and vinegar until the eggs are slightly frothy.
  4. Add the yeast to the eggs and mix.
  5. Add the liquid to flour and mix for four minutes. The dough is wet and tends to climb the beaters, but I just raised it partially out periodically. I got a new mixer that comes with a paddle, which works perfectly for gluten free batters.
  6. Transfer batter to a greased bread machine loaf pan WITHOUT THE PADDLES.
  7. Program :
    • PREHEAT -15min
    • KNEAD -OFF
    • RISE 1 -20 min
    • RISE 2 -OFF
    • RISE 3 -35min
    • BAKE -1hr:10min
    • KEEP WARM -OFF
    • CRUST= MEDIUM
The slight fall in the middle means I added a bit too much water.

The slight fall in the middle means I added a bit too much water.

It's a very pretty loaf

It’s a very pretty loaf.

And another one bites the dust….

Mr. Smarty Pants has the flu. He is preceded in this dubious honor by Miss Drama, who went down for the count on Saturday, dashing her expectations of attending the Shriner’s circus which was in town. Alas, the flu is known for its horrid timing.

Soup King and I both got flu shots. I attempted once to get them for the kiddos, but was turned away because they had too many people and too little time at the pharmacy. Life got busy and the flu won that little race. I expect Miss Diva to fall victim next. Despite my flu shot, my system is most certainly battling something. I’m not running a fever, but I’m currently the poster girl for Nyquil.

Add in that the weather has turned dreary and wet and what does that mean?

SoUP!!!!!

I’d tell you all about the one simmering on the stove as I type, but Soup King put that together. I suspect he preferred I not sneeze all over dinner. Instead, I shall divulge my recipe for chicken noodle and vegetable soup. Keep in mind I use that term loosely as soup is often a “use what you have” dish.

  • 2 med-large onions, chopped
  • 2-3 tsp of minced garlic or a couple of cloves of freshly chopped garlic (We like garlic, so  I’m pretty sure I used at least a tbsp. Toss in as little or as much as you like.)
  • 4 whole carrots peeled and chopped
  • 4 baby bella mushrooms washed and sliced
  • four stalks of celery sliced
  • (optional) 1 bunch swiss chard or other green (I happened to have some chard and another green still in the garden. I think they are collards, but I wouldn’t swear by it)
  • one whole chicken, cleaned
  • 1/4 c. white wine (Feel free to use more. I probably would have used upwards of 1/2-1c, but ran out.)
  • 20c water and equivalent bouillon or ready-made stock
  • 1 tbsp (at least) basil (I use the freeze dried stuff as it has better flavor than regular dried.)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • generous sprig of oregano from the garden (yep, it’s still alive) or about 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • If needed, salt to taste
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 large family-sized bag of mixed veggies (I used Kroger’s key largo blend)
  • 1 box Thai stir-fry rice noodles

Toss all of the fresh veggies in a BIG soup pot. Put the cleaned chicken in. Add the water, wine, and herbs. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for ~2hrs. The skin starts to split and the chicken begins to fall apart when it is thoroughly cooked. Lift the chicken out and set in a bowl to cool. Toss in the frozen veggies and let cook for another 5 min or so, followed by the rice noodles. You can turn the heat off. The soup is plenty hot enough at this point to cook the noodles. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull off the skin and discard, or feed to pleading little furry critters. Pull the chicken off the bone and shred or tear into large piece and toss back in the pot. The chicken should be very tender and come off the bone easily.

Done. It makes more than enough for two meals, for a family of five and maybe three meals if you aren’t feeding a voracious black hole. The rice noodles are starchier than wheat noodles, so the next day when re-heated the soup is more stew-like than soupy. You can add water if you like or just enjoy as is.

Bon appetit!

Darth Gluten’s Troops

Foods represented: Wheat (gluten), Dairy products, Sesame, Corn, Potatoes, and Avocados

One of the hardest things to deal with when suffering from gluten intolerance or Celiacs isn’t living without wheat.  Why? A study cited by a popular advocate for a grain-free approach and others indicates that going gluten free isn’t enough. I suspect that by the time most patients are diagnosed, their bodies are in extreme chronic inflammatory mode and their intestines are as permanent as the US borders.

To date, current medicine does not understand the process by which acute inflammation (a process which aids in wound repair)  switches to a chronic and detrimental state. I’ve read studies which give tantalizing clues, but we are still piecing together the puzzle. As a result, the only current medicinal approach to inhibiting chronic inflammation involves suppressing our immune systems.  It doesn’t take a science or medical degree to figure out that isn’t a great approach, especially for long-term therapy.

It took about four months of a gluten-free diet for me to figure out that while I felt a little better, I still felt ill. Fast forward a few more months and without dairy I felt better. After several close encounters of the potato kind, I banished them from my diet. Since I could eat daal made from chickpeas, but hummus made me ill, sesame joined Darth Gluten’s troops.

Avocados are listed as agitators because it isn’t a gluten-like reaction. Rather, aspirin, also known as acetyl salicylic acid exacerbates the inflammation already present in my intestines. Avacados happen to have a large amount of salicylates,  chemicals very similar in structure to aspirin.

I’ve suspected corn for awhile as corn pasta does not sit particularly well and tortilla chips make me ill. I bought a gluten free cereal and have eaten it for breakfast all this week.

Ingredient (1) Corn flour

Unlike with wheat or dairy, the symptoms are not immediate, but rather build in intensity over several days. Yay? Corn starch seems sufficiently well processed not to bother me too much, but as I can’t see my intestines, I can’t say that with certainty. What’s it doing on the molecular level? I’m afraid to find out. As a medicinal chemist researcher, I know one well established fact: chronic inflammation increases the risk of cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Yet, the average doctor knows very little about Celiacs or gluten intolerance. I met a woman last week who nearly died because her doctors diagnosed her with everything from acid reflux and IBS to stress. The true diagnosis was diverticulitis combined with a raging case of Celiacs. The gastroenterologist I went to see told me to eat more fiber. I bought a high fiber cereal, which contained every gluten grain known to mankind, and by day two I felt like an alien was trying to claw its way out of my innards.

There are tests available to test serum or stool antibodies to find all the minions recruited by gluten, but a lot of good that does when neither the doctors nor the insurance companies understand the severity of gluten intolerance. If you can afford them, you might consider doing the tests, but the best thing I can recommend to gluten intolerant or Celiac sufferers is to remain cognizant of EVERYTHING you eat. If you have to keep a food journal, do so, as observation is free and probably just as accurate.

For people who fear that eating such a restrictive diet must be boring, here’s a recipe for my own version of  chicken tikka masala, with a few changes:

  1. 2 onions chopped and sauteed in olive oil (~3tbsp…enough to keep onions and spices from sticking)
  2. 2 tbs minced garlic
  3. 1 tsp minced or grated fresh ginger
  4. Spices: 1 cinnamon stick, 3 whole green cardamom pods, ground peppercorns to taste, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp cumin seeds (add to onions while sauteing)
  5. Add 1 small can of tomato paste
  6. Add 1.5-2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1in pieces
  7. Add 2 c of water and a tsp of GF chicken bouillon
  8. Add 1 tbs coriander, 1 tsp curry powder, dash of paprika and cayenne powder, and salt to taste
  9. Simmer for ~15 min or until chicken is nearly done. If desired, add 1c frozen peas and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  10. Add ~3-4 tbs “Better than cream cheese” (soy based vegan ‘cream cheese’) Add slowly over low heat and stir well to melt it. Add water if needed to adjust to desired consistency (should be a nice gravy).
  11. Serve over rice.