Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gluten Free Coffee Cake

Perfect Brunch for the start of a snow storm
This weekend I started craving Cinnamon Rolls, but couldn't get up the motivation to make them, that whole proofing/rising process didn't sound fun while I'm suffering from some kind of cold or sinus infection.  So I considered how to get my sugary cinnamon fill without waiting hours on end, COFFEE CAKE!  We were having friends over for brunch and I love providing warm baked goods to indulge in, since Sheri was bringing everything else.  I quickly searched the web for a recipe, since the few I found in books around the house involved yeast, I was trying to avoid the rising process, not just find a new form of it.  I found one on the celiac.com page that was exactly what I wanted, yellow cake with a crumb topping, and super easy to make!  The Coffee Cake called for GF All Purpose flour, which I don't keep on hand.  You may have noticed I have a few flours I prefer, and use repeatedly, so after some quick math I came up with my own rendition.  Leaving the nuts out of the topping of course since we are now working toward a nut free home.

It came out perfect, first the entire house smelled of delicious warm cinnamon, and tricked our friends into thinking there might have been cinnamon rolls in the oven.  They told us they were not disappointed though, the cake was delicate, and fluffy, while the topping was sweet and crunchy, in perfect contrast.  Exactly what I had wanted from a coffee cake.  It was so good the 9x9 inch pan was nearly empty when brunch was over, and the tiny piece that was left, was my late lunch later.

Coffee Cake

Cake Recipe

1/4   Cup Soy Flour
1/4   Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2   Cup Tapioca Starch
1/2   Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
3/4   Cup Sugar
  2    tsp Baking Powder
1/2   tsp Salt

1/4   Cup Canola Oil
  1    Egg (Beaten)
1/2   Cup Milk

Spicy Topping

1/2   Cup Brown Sugar
  2    Tbs Tapioca Starch
  2    tsp Cinnamon
  2    Tbs Butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F), and grease a 9x9x2 inch baking pan.

Sift together dry ingredients for cake in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Combine wet cake ingredients in a separate small bowl, and add to dry cake ingredients.  Mix together until smooth, pour into prepared pan.

In a small bowl stir together spicy topping ingredients, and sprinkle over top of cake.

Bake at 375 degrees (F) for 25 min.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grilled Tillamook Cheese Sandwich

Today Ceci and I had Yummy grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, made from Tillamook Cheddar Cheese, and homemade gluten free bread.  Ceci loved it and ate 1/4 of a sandwich, along with two slices of plain cheese.  It was a nice warm treat on a cold winter day with snow flurries outside the window.  I love Tillamook cheese because I grew up on it, honestly I didn't really know there were other types of cheese in the world, which is either funny or sad.  Now as an adult I've had some yummy cheeses, but I always go back to my favorite, it's one of the few Cheddars I've ever seen in a medium category, and there is a distinct difference between it and a mild or sharp cheddar.  It tends to stay a little more firm while melting, than some other types of cheese such as American Cheese (don't get me started on American cheese!  No flavor, but for some odd reason Tim loves it.)  Ceci is now a huge fan of Tillamook cheese, thanks to my excellent tutelage!  She specifically asks for "Tahmook Chee!"  I love it!

Now you may ask how on earth I get hold of this delicious cheese, I personally bring it back from my visits to my family, or they bring it to me.  If you don't live in the Pacific Northwest you can order it online from their website.

Look at all that delicious melty cheesy goodness!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gluten Free Cookie Swap and Gingerbread Houses

From top to bottom, left to right (GF Sugar Cookies, GF Pinoli Cookies, GF Chocolate Pudding Cookies,
GF Chocolate Peppermint Cookies, GF Coconut Macaroons, GF Vanilla Meringue)

A few years ago I hosted a Gingerbread house decorating party, like the ones my mom and her friend Sue would throw for us when we were kids.  That party was a great time, so last year I decided to throw a cookie swap instead because I didn't think I could make gingerbread houses for everyone with a busy toddler in the house.  The cookie swap was so much fun, we sat around chatting, having wine, and decorating sugar cookies.

This year I wanted to have a gluten free cookie swap, and I eventually got brave enough to produce two gluten free gingerbread houses for decorating.  The houses were intended for Ceci and her best buddy Brodie to decorate, which I knew would last about 10 minutes and then us parents got to play with all the candy.  We were able to also include the cookie swap as well, so I am left with dozens of cookies, a huge bag of candy, and a decorated gingerbread house.

Mountain of supplies to start cookie making process
I have decided I will not share or post the gingerbread recipe I used to make the houses, I was so disappointed with the result, I can't reccomend anyone else use it.  I also commited a few mistakes, so I shouldn't entirely blame the dough, but still there are easier ways.  I think next year we will go back to my strategy from 3 years ago, cardboard houses!  It's simple, sturdy and effective, just be wary of the boxes you use to create them.  You may think it's an odd suggestion, but consider, simply picking out the style of house you like, cut it out of the cardboard and hot glue it together, and you are ready to decorate.  Now to describe the gingerbread version, find a recipe, get ingredients, make dough, chill dough, roll out dough, cut out pieces, bake pieces, cool pieces, let pieces harden, reshape pieces that may have mutated during baking, make molten sugar, try not to burn yourself, race to dip pieces in molten sugar and put together, still trying not to burn yourself, try not to curse when you start breaking pieces or they don't fit together right, pray the whole thing doesn't collapse and then take a breath!  Did you get all that?  See why I'm considering revisiting the cardboard next year.  And lets face it who actually eats the house in the end, seriously, stale rock hard gingerbread?   There are a good many things I would prefer to consume before that.

That said, the houses turned out great, and so much fun to decorate, Ceci made a pretty serious attempt to decorate, I think it was only because she got to eat "Chocolate Chippies" during the process.  Sneaky little monkey!  I can't wait for next year when I can get another 2 minutes worth of decorating out of her.

For the cookie swap, abundance doesn't even begin to describe what happened!  I think the final count was 6 different types of cookies, everyone of them delicious and gluten free!  I made, coconut macaroonssugar cookies, and chocolate peppermint cookies.  Sheri brought pinoli cookies and some chocolate pudding cookies made with gf bisquick, and Marlene brought meranges.  Seriously, I'm going to be in a sugar coma when this is over.  And I'm already planning for next year, because I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What is the gold standard test for celiac disease

I love this! So much information is coming out in the past couple of days pushing to avoid unnecessary blood and biopsy tests, thank you! In order to get a real test, a person has to consume gluten for long enough to make them sick and then the tests can be performed, someone finally sees the fault in that. Why should I make myself or my child ill so you can write down in a chart what I know in my life and in my heart. We feel better without gluten! Thank you Dr. Vikki!

Monday, December 20, 2010

New wrinkle in our lives

The largest welt is the site for peanuts (7x9mm)

Today we became members of a honestly somewhat undesirable club, Ceci was diagnosed with an allergy to peanuts today.  She tested positive to a scratch test, with a sizable welt to peanuts, but also reacted mildly to Cashew, Pistachio, Pecan, and Hazelnuts.  I now understand entirely why she has always turned her cute little button nose up at my delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Honestly I have to laugh at myself a little though, keeping her gluten free was the easiest move, while the thought of becoming a nut free household has me a little anxious.  I seriously love peanut butter, I would and have eaten it everyday when left unchecked, but its the health of my child in question, so out it goes, without a second thought.  My anxiety is based in being able to thoroughly check all her food and keep a vigilant watch for any thing that could hurt her.  The doctor tells me that I don't have to worry about her reacting to it if it's in the house, that she can survive that, and the decision to go nut free is mine to make.

It all became clear last Wednesday after I gave Ceci two Reese's pieces and told her they were M&M's, not thinking anything of it until she had already eaten them.  I was eating a couple of Milk Duds and she asked for one, I knew that was a bad idea, so I reached into the bag of Reese's pieces for her.  She loves M&M's so I just oversimplified the situation and told her what she wanted to hear.  Moments after she ate them it hits me that she has actively avoided peanut butter her whole short life and I got worried.  I tried to assess her as the evening wore on, she started in with "my teeth hurt" almost immediately, which was odd, but she is getting her two year molars so I thought maybe she was right.  For the next hour and a half she made a horrible whimpering noise, was extra clingy, lethargic, and kept complaining her teeth hurt.  It wasn't until Tim got home that she finally told him her mouth hurt, then went to the bathroom where I thought she needed to pee.  I put her on the potty, where she proceeded to projectile vomit across the bathroom floor.  I regret having fed her a smoothie that afternoon.  It was everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  We acted quickly and efficiently and got everything cleaned including Ceci, and as I scrubbed fuchsia pink puke off the floor, the light bulb over my head clicked on with a 120 watt bulb!  Peanuts!  Holy Mackerel!!  It's peanuts!

About a month ago she got sick on the airplane as we were loading to go to Oregon, we had eaten Pad Thai for dinner that night.  The airport restaurant mixed peanuts into the dish, whereas the place we usually go to puts them on the side and she doesn't touch them.  Now we understand better what happened that night, and why she got sick.

It all makes sense now!  Both times she got sick, she was fine after she got the peanuts out of her body, with no problems afterward.  Now with those two experiences, I made an appointment with the allergist and got her checked.  I feel much better now knowing what she is allergic to and what we need to avoid.  So far if she can actually see or smell the peanuts she won't eat them, I have my fingers crossed that this little skill sticks with her for a very long time.  To be sure though we will continue reading labels and ingredient lists now checking for gluten sources and nut sources.  I will also work to keep my recipes nut free for her, and I know it won't be to hard because so many people already live with nut allergies and I can use their knowledge and experience to educate myself and our family.

If anyone has suggestions of helpful or educational websites, let me know, I'm very curious and in need of education on how to avoid nuts.

Coconut Macaroons

One of my favorite cookies growing up, it was one of the few things my mom could find commercially made so it was a rare treat to have a store bought cookie.  That sounds so backwards, a kid getting excited to have a store bought cookie, but it did make me feel a bit normal that I could have something at the store, never mind how happily spoiled I was to always have home made cookies.  I didn't learn to make these until 2 years ago when I found a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, inspiring me to make macaroons for myself.  I was very displeased with the resulting cookies from that recipe and have spent the last two years tweaking the recipe to my preferences.  I'm now very happy with the cookies that  I create from this recipe and often get compliments for them, I get even more complements when I drizzle them with chocolate.  Yummm...

Some words of advice when making these, egg whites are incredibly temperamental, and need lots of attention.  It's not a good idea to make these cookies during the Long Island summers when the humidity is unbearable, the eggs just don't set up correctly.  And now in the winter I had to coax them a little with a warm damp towel wrapped around the base of my kitchenaid stainless steel bowl, and this is after I warmed the bowl it self.  Did I mention we keep our house unreasonably cold in the winter?  If you don't then maybe the eggs won't be so upset with you.

Coconut Macaroons

2  Egg Whites
1  tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/8 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
1  14 oz package of flaked Coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).  Line 1 large cookie sheet with parchment or use a silpat.  In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl when beater is pulled out).  Add salt, and then sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight when beater is pulled out).  Fold in coconut

Using a small cookie scoop, drop coconut mixture in mounds on prepared cookie sheets.  Place in the oven and bake 20-25 min, leave in oven and turn oven off.  Let cookies dry in oven for  10-12 min, then remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To drizzle with chocolate, melt 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave, or a double boiler.  Place macaroons on wax paper and dip a spoon into the chocolate and wave over the top of the cookies until chocolate is used up.  You can also dip the macaroons into the chocolate if you prefer, you'll just need to melt more chocolate.

Store in airtight container at room temperature for 3 days, or freeze up to 3 months.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gluten Free Gift Baskets

Delivered to the 48 Contiguous U.S. States – Call Us for Custom Gluten-free Gift Baskets (559) 676-1163

Looking for Gluten free gift ideas?  I just saw this today, could be useful if you need a gift for someone with celiac who is hard to shop for. Gluten Free Gift Baskets is a website to order beautiful looking gifts of yummy gluten free food.  The website is giving me a bit of trouble loading right now, and it suggest that you call their phone number anyway, because the website is still under construction.  The baskets have great themes like movie lover's, chocolate lover's, and Italian, all with great items.  They all come bundled in a nice basket or bowl with pretty ribbons and bows.

The company was started by Carla Spacher of Gluten free recipe box, who has done an amazing job.  She has even taken note to use only gf packing peanuts.  I learned that today, biodegradable packing peanuts could be derived from substances including gluten, or cornstarch.  Carla's company promises to use only gluten free biodegradable packing peanuts to take one more step to keep recipients of their baskets safe and healthy.

If anyone receives one of the beautiful baskets, let me know how you like it and what you got in it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gluten Free Pie Crust

Pumpkin pie with Gluten Free Pie Crust

This is not my most timely post, which sadly seems to be an emerging theme around here.  I'll have to work on that.  Meanwhile, I'm still in time for Christmas pies.  For now I will post the version I used for Thanksgiving which involves Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour, hopefully for Christmas I'll be able to reinvent the recipe with my own mix of flours.  I'll post that one when I get it worked out.  I do have to say this one was pretty easy, it doesn't hurt that we were at my parent's house who live about 30 miles from Bob's Red Mill and have a huge tub of the GF AP Flour in the house at all times.  I went a little nuts while we were there trying to bake all sorts of things and take advantage of the flour on hand.

The pie crust was one of my trials during our Thanksgiving visit, the big step forward for me came from blind baking the crust.  Something I've heard a lot about but had not yet tried.  It seemed like something to try since every other time I had baked a pumpkin pie in a raw crust the crust was all gummy and under baked.  Blind baking means pre-cooking the pie shell by it self in the oven, but in order to prevent it from puffing into a giant cloud you have to weigh it down with something.  We used some dried beans that mom had found in the pantry from goodness knows how long ago, and would not be using for anything in the future.  You can buy fancy beads and stuff for blind baking, but I figured we would use what was on hand, I've even heard of people using pennies.  I suppose any item would work.

One thing about this recipe that makes me very happy is that the original comes from a cookbook that has been in the family for 3 generations.  It's just an old Betty Crocker Cookbook, but it's a recipe I used to make for my family when I was in High School  and College, but haven't really used since.  I really loved being able to go back and convert this recipe over, it felt like I had come full circle with the process.  Another important point was that it came out delicious!  Flaky, dry, and not at all sweet, the way a perfect pie crust should be.

Gluten Free Pie Crust

1   Cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/3 Cup Butter
2   Tbs Water

Mix Flour, Salt, and Xanthan Gum in a medium mixing bowl.  Cut Butter into small pieces, and using a pastry cutter or fork, blend into dry ingredients until mixture resembles pea gravel.  Add in Water, and begin to blend by hand until a ball of dough forms.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 1 hour.
Prep rolling mat, rolling pin, extra flour, pie pan, piece of foil for blind baking, and beans (or other item to weight down crust during blind bake).
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F).  Remove dough from wrap onto a lightly floured surface, and begin to roll out.  Work quickly to prevent butter from warming causing the dough to tear.  After a few rolls, flip the dough and re-flour the surface, and repeat until the dough is large enough to fill a 9 inch pie pan.  Now comes the tricky part, transferring the crust to the pan (I still struggle with this), I usually manage to turn the whole rolling mat over the pie pan sometimes I use a spatula to loosen the crust and let it drop onto the pan.  From there gently move it into the pan and trim the crust.  Place a sheet of foil or parchment paper (trimmed to fit) over the crust in the pan, and gently place a single layer of beans, pie weights, or pennies.  Bake for 12 minutes and remove from oven and set aside.
Make desired filling.  Carefully remove the foil and weighted item from pie crust and place on an insulated surface (so as not to melt your counter).   Pour filling into the crust, and bake according to the filling's instructions.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gluten Free Gingerbread House Disaster

Does anyone know if there  is a Gingerbread version of "Habitat for Humanity"?  I think the Big Bad wolf has come and attacked my little house!  If this wasn't so funny to me it would be shameful!  I don't think I will be posting the recipe for this one until I work out some more kinks, fragile doesn't even begin to describe this one.

I was so excited to make Gingerbread houses for Christmas this year, Ceci is at a perfect age to enjoy helping decorate if only for a few minutes.  Then this happened!  I made the dough, cut out and baked all the pieces, cooled them and let them get "stale" so they wouldn't collapse.  I put the pieces away overnight and got them out this morning, making molten sugar for the glue.  I couldn't work fast enough, as the sugar got more difficult the pieces began to crumble more and this roof piece was the last to go on and obviously the most damaged.

At some point in my life I may learn to be less stubborn, but I don't know that it will be any time soon.  Gingerbread house making was a family tradition for my family growing up, we always went to the Arndt house and had so much fun.  I know it took Sue years of trial and error to perfect her recipes and techniques.  Why on earth I thought my learning curve would be any different is beyond me.  In the meantime I have Sheri bringing a box of regular Graham crackers tomorrow to make fake Gingerbread houses, they won't be GF, but it will be fun.  And even if this house does survive until the party it's current hideousness won't matter after it's covered in icing and candy.

I'll let you know if it makes it and post the pictures after we get them decorated.

At least half of one house looks presentable.

Recovery!  This is the side with the hole in the roof, no one would have ever known.

This is Ceci's side of the house, I did make the gingerbread girl for her.