Monday, March 28, 2011

Gluten Free Italian Cheesecake

Baked Italian Cheesecake

The other night we were invited to friends for dinner and told it was an Italian theme, and since most of the other courses of food were covered I sat and thought for days about what kind of dessert was "Italian".  I could only come up with Tiramisu for a long time, and then Gelato, but wasn't inspired to make either one, finally I came up with Italian Cheesecake!  It's been a million years since I've eaten an Italian cheesecake, and I have NEVER made one, let alone a NY style cheesecake.  I contemplated for a while about whether or not I wanted to really take on this challenge and how crazy I was willing to make myself.  I also received a request to bring GF Italian Bread, so now my work load was up, but I was feeling like a challenge.  The bread did not turn out well so I won't be posting that debacle anytime soon.  But the Cheesecake was a fabulous success!  I nearly had to abandon the idea midway after realizing one friend seriously dislikes ricotta cheese, the main ingredient in Italian cheesecake, after a quick strategy session with his wife I decided to go ahead with the plan.

I did some research on the internet about Italian cheesecakes and found that the recipes are not at all consistent with one another, some had crusts, most didn't, some used whole eggs, some only yolks, and on and on.  With that in mind I figured I would just go ahead and make my own recipe, and cross all my fingers that it would come out okay.  

I got tons of approval from everyone, even the ricotta hater!  He said it was the best cheesecake he had ever had because it was so light and fluffy, not like those other ones that are so heavy and dense.  Don't worry, no one let on that it was full of ricotta, it was pretty funny though.    I loved it too, soft, tender, light, fluffy, not overly sweet, and just a touch of lemon to balance out the flavor.  Hopefully I'll have another reason to make it again soon because it was fantastic.

Now to add to the vast array of Italian cheesecake recipes on the internet, here is mine.

Gluten Free Italian Cheesecake

1/2  Cup GF Graham Crackers, ground up
2 lbs of Ricotta
1   Cup Sugar (granulated)
2   Tbs  Tapioca Starch
4   Whole Eggs
1    tsp Vanilla Extract
Zest of a whole lemon
Juice of half a lemon

Drain Ricotta by placing layers of cheesecloth into a colander, and pouring ricotta into the cheesecloth.  Let the ricotta sit for a while, be sure to place the colander in a larger bowl to catch the drippings so that you don't end up with a sloppy mess on the counter.  (If you don't have cheesecloth, I used paper towels and a mesh sieve pretty successfully.)

While Ricotta drains, smash up GF Graham crackers and spread in bottom of 9 inch cake pan, or spring form pan.  Set aside.

Once the Ricotta is drained, place it in a stand mixer, and blend in sugar, and Tapioca starch.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing each one into batter.  Finally add extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice, mix until everything is fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into a 9 inch cake pan (I don't own a spring form, if you do, you can use that instead.)  Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 50-60 min, until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gluten Free "White" Irish Soda Bread

Finished White Soda Bread

I made this recipe last year for St. Patrick's day and fell in love with it, so much that I made it a few more times after St Patty's day, last year and enjoyed it.  I had the recipe card tucked away in my recipe box this whole time waiting for this year when I blinked and almost let the holiday slip by me.  When I checked the fridge the other day to start making the bread I was totally out of unsalted butter, never mind I forgot about needing buttermilk.  A quick trip to the grocery store this morning solved both problems.

Yesterday at work one of our patients, a true Irishman, asked how I would be celebrating St. Patrick's day, and laughed when I told him I was making Corned Beef and Cabbage, and Irish Soda Bread.  He informed me that is not what you eat in Ireland, I can't say we got so far as discussing what they do eat, because the conversation turned to what color of soda bread I would be making.  Silly me had very little idea that there were different kinds.  I told him I think I was making white, he said brown was always his favorite and far more popular in Ireland, so he said he would "ring his Mum and ask for his Granny's brown bread recipe." I love it!  Sadly he won't get it to me until the 18th, so a little late for me to convert over to GF, and post, so in the mean time we can all enjoy this white version I worked up last year.

I was really excited to make this bread with Ceci, we need lots of projects around the house now that she seems to have given up her nap.  Part of me finds the lack of nap very distressing, while a larger part finds a new freedom in not being tied to the house at a specific hour of the day.  Ceci seems to find a great joy in helping me bake lately, the other day she helped make chocolate cookies and managed to help with every step of the process.  Today was no different, she helped measure flours, and quickly climbed up on the island to help knead the dough too.  If I haven't said it lately, I should, I love this age!  2 and a half is, and has been so much fun, she is busy all the time and needs constant stimulation, and cooking and baking seems to fit the bill.

Gluten Free "White" Irish Soda Bread

1/2   Cup Soy Flour
1      Cup Brown Rice Flour
1      Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1 1/2 Cup Tapioca Starch
1 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
4      Tbs Sugar
1      tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
4      Tbs Cold Unsalted Butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 3/4 Cold Buttermilk
1      Egg, lightly beaten
1      Cup Golden Raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).  Line a sheet pan with parchment, or silpat

Combine flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt in bowl of mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Ad the butter and mix on low until butter is mixed into flour.

With a fork lightly beat buttermilk and egg together in measuring cup.  With the mixer on low, slowly add liquid to flour mixture.  Add Golden Raisins to dough, mix until distributed through.

Dough will be very wet, dump dough onto a well floured surface and knead a few times into a round loaf.  Place loaf onto prepared pan, and cut a shallow X into the top of the bread.


Bake 45-55 min, or until a toothpick inserted into the top of the loaf comes out clean.

Let cool, and eat immediately, or smear with cold butter and enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gluten Free Scallion Pancakes

Homemade Gluten Free Scallion Pancakes

Apparently I inspired my husband with my cooking the other night because he sat down and wrote a guest post for me.  Isn't he the cutest?!?!  I guess he liked the pancakes.

From Tim:

I am of Chinese descent, despite living in New York my whole life. That being said, I grew up with family members who knew how to cook authentic Chinese, in multiple styles. Most notably, my grandmother would make dumplings from scratch.

When neither she nor my mother was cooking, we'd enjoy going to get dim sum, a tradition we adopted now, with Andrea and Ceci. The problem is, some of the best morsels are gluten filled.  Aside from shrimp dumplings and roast pork buns, one of my favorites is the scallion pancake.

I'm not sure what motivated Andrea, but she suggested making them from scratch. We located a whole host of recipes online, which seemed simple in ingredient list, but somewhat complex.

She came up with an amazingly simple method, and so, I picked up some scallions. She basically used GF Bisquick, but with hot water, and made a batter mixing in some salt, white pepper, and of course, diced scallions. Mixed it all together until well blended.

She heated a thin layer of canola oil on high, and pan-fried the pancakes, flipping once. And that was it. Not entirely authentic, but damn good flavor. The texture of the authentic is more like phyllo dough, but I think that that is much more difficult to pull off as gluten free, and much more time consuming.

Gluten Free Scallion Pancake Recipe

1   Cup GF Bisquick
1   Cup Water (instead of milk)
2   Tbs Vegetable Oil
1   Egg
1   Bunch of Scallions, finely slice the green parts only
Salt and White Pepper  (dash of each)

Blend all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until smooth
Pour a few Tablespoons of vegetable oil into a pan and heat on stove, when oil is Really hot, carefully pour in about a 1/4 cup of pancake mix and let it fry up.  Flip and cook second side until golden brown.