Monday, December 22, 2008

Crunchy Maple Sunbutter Granola

I have been making food for myself to bring along as snacks on my upcoming trip to Israel, and I've been trying to create a variety for myself so I don't get totally sick of one thing. I used to love crunchy granola in my pre-celiac days, and now that I've started eating oats again, I wanted to try to create my own granola. My first attempt at granola was good, but it was more like muesli; it wasn't crunchy and didn't clump together at all. So this time, I used sunbutter and maple butter to add thickness and stickiness, and it turned out beautifully. It made the whole apartment smell wonderful, and it tasted absolutely delicious. The maple butter and honey added a touch of sweetness, but the sunbutter filled out the taste and texture and balanced that sweetness. I will be making this often!  

Crunchy Maple Sunbutter Granola

1 1/2 cups oats (certified gluten-free)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1/4 cup toasted pecans
1/4 cup raisins (or more to taste)
1/4 cup cranberries (or more to taste)
**You can substitute any other dried fruit, nuts, or seeds of your choice - this would be great with: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, slivered almonds, dried cherries, etc.
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup sunbutter (or peanut butter)
1/2 cup maple butter or creamed honey
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut flakes, cashews, pecans, raisins, cranberries, and cinnamon. Add any other nuts, seeds, etc. that you would like and mix well. In a small saucepan, combine the sunbutter, maple butter, honey, and vanilla and heat until melted. It will still be pretty thick. Pour it into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix very well until the heated mixture has been spread throughout the mixture. I used two spoons and sort of chopped the chunks of sunbutter into the oats. Line a baking dish with wax or parchment paper. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake at 300 F for 30 - 40 minutes. The granola will still feel soft when you take it out of the oven, but it will harden as it cools.

Chocolate Chip Cookies by Ginger Lemon Girl

Wow, is all I can say to these. Ginger Lemon Girl's blog is one of the ones I look at regularly for ideas and recipes, and I went to her site this weekend in search of a good cookie recipe to try with my cousin. Well, they are very appropriately titled "Ginger Lemon Girl's BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies," and you can find the recipe for them here. The trick is to bake them only for the 7 - 10 minutes that is recommended, and then as they cool, they firm up and are wonderfully soft and chewy, and practically melt in your mouth. To put them through the ultimate test, my cousin and I devised a slightly sneaky plan. We went out to my family's house for a gathering right after we baked these, and I asked her to be the one to walk into the house with them to see how people liked them. When I walk into a gathering with baked goods, people immediately begin casting me and the baked goods suspicious looks. So Erin brought them, and people were clamoring for them, saying how much they loved them - and then we told them that they were gluten-free, and they were pretty shocked. So that right there should tell you how awesome these cookies are! Thanks to Ginger Lemon Girl for the recipe!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gluten-free Challah Bread

I am still in shock at how authentic this came out. With Hannukah coming up next week, and with it being our first go at it gluten-free, I did some poking around the internet for recipes I could try. I came across this recipe by the blogger of Gluten-free Bay, and oh, my, was it good. I altered the recipe a little bit, so I'm going to post my slightly tweaked version of it here, but please visit Gluten-free Bay to see the original recipe here. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe!

It has the same texture and slight sweetness as the challah I remember, and the same eggy fluff and taste. It is truly wonderful, and it is actually a piece of cake to put together (especially compared to regular challah, which one typically has to knead and braid). If you love and miss real challah, try this recipe. You won't be disappointed. It's especially delicious with some homemade black raspberry-mango jam slathered over a warm piece straight from the oven!

Gluten-free Challah Bread

2 1/4 tbsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tbsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. dry potato flakes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
4 eggs + 1 extra egg yolk (at room temperature is best)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for glaze
1/3 cup raisins
Poppy or sesame seeds (optional)
Baking spray / vegetable oil spray

Mix the yeast, warm water, and sugar and place in a slightly warmed oven, covered with foil, for 10 minutes until it has bubbled to the top.

In a large bowl, combine potato starch, corn starch, brown rice flour, white rice flour, tapioca starch, salt, baking powder, dry potato flakes, and xanthan gum. Add the vegetable oil, honey, eggs, and yeast mixture and mix at high speed until it is all well-mixed. Add the raisins and blend in by hand until they are well-dispersed.

Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray. Grease your hands by spraying them well with baking spray as well, and then take large portions of the dough and shape them into large balls of dough (about 3-4 inches in diameter) - I had enough for about 6 - 7 balls - and arrange them in the pan with one in the middle. You don't need to press them together.

Make the egg glaze by combining one egg yolk and 1 tbsp. water, and brush over the top of the dough. Spray a piece of plastic wrap and cover the pan, and put it into the still-warm oven to rise. Let rise until the dough is about an inch above the top of the pan, then remove from the oven and preheat it to 350 F. Brush another coat of egg glaze onto the dough and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Bake for 20 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for another 25 minutes. If desired, remove the foil during the last 5 minutes of baking to let it brown a bit more. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 - 10 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to continue to cool.

Serve warm from the oven if possible (although I recommend waiting at least 10 minutes before slicing/consuming)! Freeze or refrigerate extra slices.

Apple Cranberry Cake

I've made this a couple of times now, and it is a very hearty, satisfying cake with a sweet tartness that smacks of fall. It's another one of Karina's recipes (one of my favorite gluten-free bloggers). I've tried it once with the egg replacer and once with 2 eggs, and both times have been successful, and everyone has been a fan of the taste. It tends to puff up quite a bit while baking, almost overflowing out of the pan, but it just ends up as a nice, high cake. I would put a sheet of foil underneath the pan as it's baking to catch any apple or cranberry juice that drips out of the pan, though. You can find the recipe from Karina here. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Spaghetti Bolognese

I discovered Bolognese sauce when I lived in Germany. I never really found the type of thick tomato sauce that I was used to here in the States while I was living there. Instead, when I ordered spaghetti in restaurants, I would be served a heaping portion of this sauce, which is so simple to make, yet so complex in flavor. The meat is cooked for so long that it practically falls apart, the celery and carrots create a unique blend of tastes, and the red wine and broth simmer for at least an hour and a half, mingling together. It all results in a sauce that is bursting with flavor. I had some soy chorizo that I bought at Trader Joe's in my fridge, and I threw some of it in to spice things up a bit, but the sauce would turn out fine without it, too. You could make it vegan by omitting the ground turkey and replacing it with the soy chorizo instead, and by substituting vegetable broth for the beef broth. Vegan or not, people will love this sauce!
Spaghetti Bolognese

1 lb. lean ground turkey or beef
1/2 cup soy chorizo from Trader Joe's OR 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
4 shallots, chopped OR 1 onion, chopped
3 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 cup shredded or diced carrots
3/4 cup shredded or diced celery
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp. thyme
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 - 1 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 - 2 cups red wine
2 - 2 1/2 cups beef broth (Emeril's)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato sauce or 2 tbsp. tomato paste (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk (hemp, soy, or another thicker milk) (optional)
3 tbsp. potato starch (optional)
Vegan Parmesan Topping (optional)

Combine the meat, onion, garlic, carrots and celery in a large saucepan. Brown the meat, stirring often to break up any big pieces. When the meat is browned, add the soy chorizo and spices (thyme, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and black pepper), stir in, and continue cooking over medium heat for 2 - 3 more minutes.

Add the can of diced tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups red wine, and 2 cups beef broth and stir. If desired, add either 2 tbsp. tomato paste or 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cook over medium-low heat for 1 1/2 hours, stirring regularly, until you are happy with the flavor.

Meanwhile, cook the brown rice spaghetti as directed. I cooked mine for 15 - 16 minutes.

When you are ready to serve the pasta, if you want the sauce to be thicker, you can add 1/4 - 1/2 cup plain hemp or soy milk to the sauce, and 3 tbsp. (or more) of potato starch to thicken. Serve over brown rice spaghetti noodles and top with Vegan Parmesan Topping.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Maple Cranberry Granola

I love granola, and I love maple anything. Tonight, I was trying to rest and recover from the bad sore throat/cold that has me down this week, but after a whole day of being in bed and another night today of just sitting around, I was itching to do something. I've missed granola since going gluten-free, and so tonight I just threw this together as an experiment. It turned out to be very tasty, although next time I would probably bake mine for a little less time. (Mine was in the oven for about 37 minutes and turned out to be rather crispy, and I probably could have taken it out after 30.) Feel free to throw any other types of dried fruit, seeds, or nuts, as this is completely versatile and can be adapted to your own taste. You could also substitute honey for the maple syrup if you prefer.

Maple Cranberry Granola

1 cup gluten-free oats or soy flakes
1/2 cup organic unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup cranberries, raisins, or a combination of both
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp. canola oil
1/4 cup very hot water
1 tsp. gluten-free vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 F. Place a sheet of wax paper on a baking pan (preferably one with sides). Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, oil, water, and vanilla, and stir to mix. Pour over the dry mixture and toss to coat thoroughly. Spread evenly into the pan. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir the granola around, and bake in 5 minute increments until the desired crispness is reached. Cool, and then store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.  Keep it in the fridge and it will last even longer.

Herbed Focaccia Bread

This is the first bread I have made that, to me, is indistinguishable from bread made with regular wheat flour. My taste buds have changed since going gluten-free, and sometimes what tastes convincingly like the original to me is, in fact, still rather odd-tasting to others who try it. So I even gave some to my roommate to try, and she confirmed it. Just look at those beautiful air pockets! And it was spongy and soft, and when I made a sandwich out of it, it didn't crumble into tiny pieces with the first bite. I froze most of the loaf in slices, and found that it reheats well, too. The taste of rosemary permeates every bite, but subtly, so that you can still use this bread for sandwiches. The recipe is from Carol Fenster's 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes, and I would highly recommend this cookbook. It has an absolutely fantastic selection of foods you probably miss, and best of all, produces wonderful results that taste like the original and with the right texture, too. So, just a little plug for Ms. Fenster (I suppose she's actually Dr. Fenster, but whatever).