Friday, July 30, 2010

You-Won't-Believe-It's-Gluten-Free Focaccia

Look at those beautiful air pockets.  Just look at them.

It's like real bread.  It tastes like real bread, it got beautiful and brown like real bread, and best of all - it's springy like real bread.  You know how most commercial gluten-free breads have the consistency of chalk, or a rock?  Not this one.  You can try to push this one down, but it will spring right back up, almost defiantly - just like gluten-ful bread.

I added some herbs to this to make it more savory, but leave them out for a more versatile bread.  You can easily slice this in half and make a sandwich out of it, or toast it and drizzle honey over it.  You could even make it into French toast, if you so desired.  Spread cream cheese and jam onto a toasted piece, or just eat it plain.

But whatever you do, make it.  You won't regret it, I promise.  It is so easy to throw together, and half the pan was gone in a matter of 15 minutes in my house.  

This is definitely best served the same day.  It was a little drier the second day, but zapping it in the microwave for about 10 seconds made it just as soft and springy as it had been the day before.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for best results, or if you're saving it for longer than one day, put it in the freezer and defrost before serving.

Gluten-free Focaccia (Adapted from "1,000 Gluten-free Recipes" by Carol Fenster)

1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup warm water (110 F)
White rice flour for dusting the pan
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, best at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cider vinegar

For herbed focaccia, add:
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. onion powder

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water.  Put it in a warm place to let rise and foam.

Grease an 8x8 nonstick pan and dust the bottom and sides lightly with white rice flour.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and add the eggs, vinegar, oil, and yeast-water mixture.  Beat the dough by hand or with a mixer on low until it is thoroughly blended.  If using a blender, increase the mixer speed to medium and continue beating for 30 seconds or until dough starts to get a bit thicker.  The dough will be very wet and will look more like muffin batter (you won't be able to knead it).

Transfer the dough to the pan.  Spread it to the edges of the pan with a wet spatula or spoon and make sure that it is evenly spread.  Let the dough rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes, or until it has doubled in height.  If you are making herbed focaccia, spray dough with cooking spray and sprinkle the dough with thyme, italian seasoning, and salt.

Preheat oven to 400 F.  When the dough has risen, place in the preheated oven and bake for 18 - 20 minutes.  It's done when you can push down on it and it springs back.  Remove from oven and cool the focaccia in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove it from pan and cool another 10 minutes more on the wire rack.  Slice with a serrated knife.

Store in the fridge for up to one day and reheat when you are ready to serve it.  Otherwise, keep it in the freezer, already sliced, and defrost as needed.  Holds together beautifully for sandwiches or grilled cheese.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Creamy Basil Hummus

I love hummus.  It's one of the things I really missed being able to eat during the last year of living in Swaziland.  Sure, I could find hummus occasionally in the store, but the chances of it being labeled "gluten-free" were slim to none.  And without a food processor, I couldn't even make my own at home.  The same was true of pesto.  I love the taste of pesto, but the availability of pesto, period, was very limited, much less pesto that did not include cheese. 

That's why this recipe is so amazing.  It combines the wonderful, creamy texture of hummus with the fresh, bursting flavor of basil into something that you will not be able to stop eating.  It even packs a nice protein punch from the chickpeas and sesame tahini.  We ate this smeared onto our gluten-free breadsticks at an Italian dinner, and it was the perfect complement to the pasta and salads we were eating.  But I imagine this would be equally delicious spread into a sandwich, or eaten alone with chips.  Try adding different herbs in place of the basil if you have a different favorite!

Thanks to my cousin Erin for sharing her amazing recipe for this blog!

Creamy Basil Hummus

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 green onion (just the green part, not the white part), chopped
1/8 cup plus 1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sesame tahini
1 large garlic clove (or more to taste), put through the press
A handful of fresh basil leaves
juice from half a lemon
A tablespoon of water (only for thinning)
Salt to taste (optional, I put a dash in last time)
Toss all of the ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth.

Note: I usually had to add about a tbsp of water so that it will process well.  It lasts a little less than a week in the fridge. Also, I think the "handful of basil" is probably about one of those 3/4 oz. packages of fresh basil you can buy at the store.  I just keep tasting it until I feel like it's the right amount of basil and garlic.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Easy Chili Beans on Toast

This is a recipe for a day when you come home hungry and want something filling that will be ready in about 10 minutes or less.  Or for a day when you have a can of beans you need to use up.

The other day, I found myself in both of those situations.  Sometimes you need a cop-out meal, something fast that will satisfy you and save time.  And sometimes, cop-outs can be delicious.

Easy Chili Beans on Toast

2 slices gluten-free bread, toasted
1 can red kidney beans
1/2 tsp. onion flakes
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (or 1 tsp. minced garlic)
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 - 1/2 cup water, to desired thickness

Place the kidney beans into a skillet and heat them.  Add the spices and stir to coat well.  Continue to cook for another 2 - 3 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and stir to distribute evenly.  Add 1/4 cup of water and stir.  As it boils off, add more if desired.  Cook for another 4 - 5 minutes.

Serve over toasted bread.  Delicious plain, or add melted cheese if you are dairy-tolerant, or top with a fried egg.