Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gluten Free Chinese Spring Rolls

Gluten Free Chinese Spring Rolls with Rice Paper wrappers
We made these the other night for dinner and I asked my husband, Tim to write a guest post for me since he cooked the filling and fried them up.  You may have noticed I love to bake but I actually struggle with cooking, the whole seasoning thing drives me wild, I just get frustrated with that kind of creativity.  Tim is great with seasoning things and tweaking so that the meals taste amazing.  We worked together to make these, I cut the stuff because Tim is down right dangerous with a knife, and when he rolled the spring rolls they came out looking like, well, poos.  I stepped in and helped roll, and they came out a lot better, of course.  Here is what Tim has to say about our experience.

I'm of Chinese descent. (Not sure if you knew that.) Being raised on authentic Chinese food, it's a requirement to know how to make authentic Chinese food at home. Quite simply, it's not always that practical to dine at an authentic Chinese restaurant for every meal. But there's also a lot of dishes that are extremely difficult to make at home. When I married Andrea, I saw that she couldn't enjoy a lot of my favorites, because they were glutinous. And not just glutinous rice, which is a misnomer, but actually contain gluten. One particular dish is the authentic Chinese spring roll. So, for the years I have known Andrea, she's never really been able to enjoy a crisp spring roll shell, with crunchy vegetable, and tender, juicy pork inside. This guest blog post will discuss something that falls into all the categories: authentic Chinese, hard to make at home, and usually glutinous.

One day, Andrea saw these rice roll wrappers in the store, and so I just had to use them to make spring rolls.
Gluten Free Rice Wrappers

So here's what I did. I marinated pork tenderloin in mushroom infused dark soy sauce and rice wine. I cut them into thin shreds (by "I", I actually mean "Andrea", who has much better knife skills than I). I then heated up two tablespoons of canola oil in a non-stick pan, and put in a teaspoon of garlic powder. (I didn't want to use fresh or minced, because the chunks would be too big.) I stir-fried the pork, tossed in some chopped scallions, and after cooking them through, transferred it to a separate plate.

Then, I sliced mushrooms, and sauteed them in canola oil, kosher salt, and white pepper, and removed them to another plate.

Then, I sauteed bean sprouts in canola oil, until slightly warm, threw in the cabbage, and then tossed it slightly, so it was still crunchy. I then added the pork and the mushrooms, and stir-fried them all together.

I then dipped the rice wrappers into water, just enough to make it pliable, put in about a teaspoon of the mixture, and rolled it up. (Again, "I" as in "Andrea".)

I contemporaneously heated up oil in another pan, until it was very hot, and then shallow fried the rolls. Unlike the wheat wrappers, the rice wrappers don't brown up as much, but the crispiness was there!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies with golden raisins

Soft and Chewy Gluten Free Oatmeal Golden Raisin Cookies (extra large size cookies)

A few months ago I had a serious craving for oatmeal raisin cookies, just had to have them kind of craving!  Unfortunately the only recipe I had was one from my mom's childhood that she loves.  Only problem with that is that Mom and I have serious fundamental disagreements on the type of cookies that qualify as perfect.  Mom loves thin, crispy, and crunchy, I prefer soft, chewy, and thick cookies, in fact borderline undercooked is my real preference.  I had to dig through a few cook books to find something I could work with, but I found one and started manipulating away.

I was heading over to Sheri's house for dinner, which usually means I bring dessert, so it was a perfect fit.  I was craving the oatmeal cookies and needed to bring something sweet to eat.  I knew I hit a home run with them when I had just arrived around 3pm and Sheri was already digging into the zip lock bag I had brought.  I was certain I had done really well when she didn't send the left overs home with me.

inside of extra large oatmeal raisin cookies
I couldn't have been happier with the result of the cookies, chewy, soft, sweet, fluffy, down right perfect!!  I would make these everyday if I could I love them!  Ceci loves them now too, the last time I made them she was right there next to me digging into the raw dough.  Maybe she is my daughter after all, sometimes I question, like when she eats ketchup on carrots and quesadillas, then she redeems herself by eating pinches of brown sugar out of the jar, or licking the rubber spatula clean of the brownie batter.

My new secret was to use my Cuisinart stick blender with the food processor attachment to pulverize the golden raisins.  I really enjoyed having the raisins chopped into tiny bits, it gave a beautiful texture to the cookie, and spread that sweetness more evenly throughout the cookie than the traditional whole raisins.  Ceci loved to push the button on the stick blender too, I love hearing that squeal and laugh as she sort of freaks out every time she pulses the button.

I hope you enjoy making and eating these deliciously spicy and sweet cookies as I do.  Unless you think cookies should be thin and crispy in that case I will have to work on converting the recipe from my mom's childhood.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins

1    Cup Unsalted Butter
1    Cup Brown Sugar, packed
2    Eggs
2 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Soy Flour
1/2 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Tapioca Starch
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1    tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1    Cup Golden Raisins (finely chopped)
3 1/2 Cups Rolled Oats

In a stand mixer cream butter and brown sugar, add eggs and vanilla, mix until well blended.

In a separate mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients together.  Add dry ingredients into mixer with wet ingredients and slowly mix together, batter will be really wet looking at this point.

Using a food processor or finely chop golden raisins until nearly pulverized.  Fold chopped Raisins and Oats to cookie batter in the mixer and blend together until well combined.

Line a cookie sheet with silpat sheet or parchment paper, scoop cookies onto sheet by the tablespoon full for "normal" size cookies.  Or use a large cookie/cupcake scooper to make extra large cookies.
"normal" size gluten free oatmeal raisin cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet

Bake in a 350 degree (F) oven, 10-12 minutes for "normal" size cookies, or 18 minutes for extra large size cookies.

Place on a wire rack to cool.

"normal" size cookies fresh out of the oven

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Family Affair Continues

Gramme, Grandpa Bud, Dad, Me and Ceci (June 2011)
The other night I got a fantastic voice mail on my phone from my Gramme, while all phone calls from grandmas are great, this one was exceptional.  When I was home in Oregon, about halfway through the visit my Dad got a phone call from his mom saying that she wanted to try a gluten free diet to see if it would help resolve some of her health concerns.  Tonight's phone call was to tell me she was feeling better than she has in years!  Can I just tell you that she sounded like a new woman!!!  I have to be a bit honest the family has been questioning grandma's lucidity the last few years, that was not the lady I heard on the phone tonight, I am so excited to see this change.

I called Gramme back today and had a long chat with her about how she was feeling and the changes she noticed from being on a GF diet.  I was blown away to hear that she was no longer suffering digestive problems like she had for years, and was feeling fantastic.  Gramme also told me that she had been to the Dr recently and the Dr had taken her off more than half of the 16 medications that she was taking less than a month ago!  Can you imagine!  16 medications per day!!  All that was cut in half from following a gluten free diet.  You can't imagine how excited I am that making a change in diet worked so well for her.

While I was home we had a visit with Gramme and Grandpa Bud where Gramme repeated the same story twice within 10 minutes and with almost the exact same wording each time.  This sadly is not uncommon, the whole family knows it happens and is concerned about why it's occurring.  It's intriguing from a celiac perspective because Tim has noticed that when I eat gluten I become tired, listless and unable to concentrate.  Now if I multiply those symptoms out by 76 years worth of tortured digestive and immune system, maybe there is a glimmer of what Gramme has gone through.

The gluten free diet was a bit of a rough start, Gramme was worried about switching over to a gf diet and the difficulty of having to read every single label and having to entirely reeducate herself.  I have to say I know it is tremendously daunting to start on a gf diet, but to do so at 76 years old is pretty frightening.  Dad and I wanted to do as much as we could to help, so we made a trip to whole foods to grab some easy introductory gluten free foods to bring over to Gramme.  A few days later Gramme was over to Mom and Dad's house for a party and had tons of questions about what was safe to eat and what wasn't.  I took a sheet of paper and on one side I labeled the top "safe to eat" and the other side was "not safe foods" and just started writing down as many things as I could think of on either side.  Gramme had several specific questions so I wrote those items in the appropriate columns, such as potato chips, chocolate covered raisins, rice, potatoes, and many more.

The fact that Gramme may have celiac is hugely interesting, because up until we realized my Dad suffers from Celiac I was alone in all this.  We've known that Celiac is a genetic disease, but no one else in the family had symptoms, so I was this little genetic anomaly that was just full of every recessive gene possible that didn't seem to affect anyone else.  Turns out I just had the least tolerance the earliest in life, as well as being the one with the greatest resources to discover what the heck was going on with my poor little body.  This is AMAZING!!  I'm normal in my family!  It comes from somewhere, I'm not weird!  (Ok, at least not regarding celiac.)

So the possible genetic path of celiac for us has been paternal grandma, Dad, Me, and now Ceci.  I'm the only one who has tested positive so far and the last time I tested positive was in 1997 via blood test.  I think the positive test is not the most important, it was something that Dr Vikki Petersen brought up in one of her youtube videos, don't get hung up on the positive or negative test, if a gluten free diet makes you feel better.  Dr Vikki Petersen also talks about the frequency of false positive tests in another video.

Recently I have realized that when Tim or I visit the Dr, we not only need to mention our medical history, we also need to discuss how Ceci's health concerns relate to us.  If your child or grandchild has a genetic illness, it would be wise to have the parents or grandparents tested.  Our family's medical history is not the only place to look for answers, we are connected through genetics and together we can find the answers to our illnesses.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Baked Brown Rice

Brown Rice ready to be covered and put into the oven
Tonight for dinner I made Alton Brown's Baked Brown Rice recipe, one of my favorite foods in the world.  If I didn't have to serve it for dinner, I would probably sit and eat the entire 9 x 9 inch pan in one sitting.  It could not be easier to make brown rice, I always feared brown rice a bit knowing it took twice as long as white rice to cook on the stove.  We cook a lot of white rice in our little half Asian/gluten free household, so some days we like a break from it.  Tim and I are huge fans of anything Alton Brown, I'm pretty sure the man could film a show about how to use a can opener and I would watch it.  We saw this episode where he baked brown rice, and it was unreal!  It took a while before I got around to downloading and printing the recipe, but once I did it found a permanent home on the refrigerator.  Right now the fridge is overtaken with small character magnets, and crayon drawings, so the 1/4 of a scrap of paper with the recipe found a new home in the recipe box.  Today I realized I wanted it back out as a simple side for a simple dinner, rotisserie chicken, spinach salad, and brown rice, what's not to love??

Finished version, DELICIOUS!!
The brown rice comes out perfect every time and there is no stirring or babysitting the pot.  It's fluffy, tender, sweet, and has that tiny crunch that brown rice should have.  It goes with absolutely everything, I just realized this whole time we could have been throwing fresh herbs in at the end right as the rice comes out of the oven, maybe I will try that next time.  Maybe you will try it with some herbs or other twists and let me know what you come up with.  Enjoy!  I hope you love this as much as we do!

Alton Brown's Baked Brown Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice, medium or short grain
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the rice, water, butter and salt into an 8-inch square glass baking dish.
Cover the dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately.