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Archive for November, 2009

Yum!  These cookies are rich and moist, not dry like so many other gluten free cookie recipes out there.  The problems usually arise because of the flours themselves; the neutral tasting gluten-free flours, such as rice flour, are extremely dry, whereas the gluten-free flours with a higher fat content, such as quinoa flour, have a rather distinct taste.

I find that adding a nut butter to the recipe helps to alleviate this problem.  It will add moisture to the cookie, but doesn’t need to be the dominant flavour, depending on what butter you use.

The addition of sorghum flour to the recipe really adds to the texture of the cookie.  Without it, there would be little texture to the cookie.  I find that without a little texture, the cookie just isn’t the same – I need a bit of bite!  The sorghum flour produces a larger crumb, so it just adds another level to the cookie, which is nice.  You’ll see what I mean when you try these cookies.

The addition of sucanat gives the cookies that little bit of mellow, textured sweetness that I like.  I find agave is an extremely intense sweetness; the succanat just mellows it all out.  It also helps to give form to the final product, like brown sugar does in “regular” cookies.

You are most welcome to substitute almond butter, or any other nut butter you please, for the cashew butter.

My recipe is as follows:

3/4 cup rice flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup arrowroot

1/4 cup millet flour

pinch of salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup cashew butter, room temp.

1/3 cup light agave syrup

1/3 cup sucanat

3/4  cup rice milk (or other milk of choice, although I probably wouldn’t recommend coconut milk)

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup chocolate chips (or more, or less, to taste – I like lots!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl,  whisk together the cashew butter and agave until combined.  Add sucanat, vanilla, and rice milk. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until combined.  Add chocolate chips. 

Spoon cookies out onto silpat or greased cookie tray.  To shape the cookies, I very lightly wet my hands, form them to the desired shape, and smooth the top out so it the cookies don’t look so much like a kindergarten project.  Bake for 12 minutes, and let cool completely before you remove them from the tray.  Makes approximately 22 medium sized cookies.  Enjoy!

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I have been craving chocolate chip pancakes like crazy lately, so I broke down this morning and made a batch.

Now, I will confess that this recipe is not my own.  I found it on the website for Living Without Magazine (http://www.livingwithout.com/).  The magazine looks great, but I haven’t yet been able to find it in Toronto.  Does anyone know where I can pick up a copy?  I have it on my Xmas list, though, so maybe I’ll get lucky that way!

Since the recipe is publicly posted, I figured it’s okay to reproduce it here, since I’m giving them props for it.  They call them “Favourite Pancakes”.  For some reason I haven’t quite figured out yet, there are both eggs and xanthan gum in them; when I work on my own version, I will try to omit the eggs.

Here is their recipe:

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour (I used potato starch)

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tblsp. baking powder

2 large eggs (they do mention you can use eggs substitutes here)

1 tsp. vanilla

3 tblsp. sugar (I used a pinch of dry stevia)

1 cup milk of choice

1 tsp. oil of choice

1. Mix together flours, xanthan gum and baking powder with a whisk in a mixing bowl.

2.  Add eggs, vanilla, and sugar.  Add milk slowly, until batter is desired thickness.  Do not over-mix or batter will become thick and stiff.

3.  Heat oil in a heavy skillet or non-stick pan.  When skillet is sizzling hot, pour in batter or drop by serving spoonfuls to make pancakes.  Spread batter out in pan if needed.  Cook until pancakes have bubbles throughout and bottoms are lightly browned.  Flip with a  spatula and cook briefly until done.

The pancakes turned out pretty well, I must say.  They were definitely light and airy, with a lot of lift to them.  The batter did get quite heavy extremely quickly.  So, I ended up adding about 1 1/2 cups of rice milk to even it all out. 

I added the chocolate chips to the cakes while they were cooking.  This is not something I’d actually recommend, as it ended up just making a big mess in my pan.  Next time, I’d just sprinkle the chips on top of the cakes when they are done.  If you warm your topping, the heat of the topping and the cakes should melt them no problem.

I found these pancakes to be VERY filling!  When I used to eat gluten, stuff like this never filled me up.  I figure that’s because I wasn’t really digesting it properly.  But these should keep you going for a looooong time!

To ensure they cook all the way through, it is definitely adviseble to spread them out in the pan.  The batter was just thicker than normal pancake batter, so it needs some help in that department.  The substitutions that I did make should not have made any real difference to the consistency of the batter.  It could have been the amount of xanthan gum.   I will continue to experiment with the recipe, because it is, generally speaking, a good base to start from.

These are a great substitute for “real” pancakes, and would be enjoyed by absolutely everyone at the table.  Here’s another bad photo of mine for your enjoyment!

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It’s been a long week – we’re onto phase two of the renovations, and on top of all that I’ve had a cold.  So the blogs are slow this week.

There are a tonne of vegan rice pudding recipes out there and most of them, as far as I’m concerned, are not very good.  I’ve tried tofu and/or soy milk a number of times, but the pudding always lacked that creaminess that I simply adore about rice pudding.  This week, I discovered the secret to good vegan rice pudding…coconut milk!!

My recipe is as follows:

1 cup uncooked brown rice

1 14 oz (approx. 400 gm) can of coconut milk – you can use light if you prefer, although full fat will make the pudding more creamy

2 cups water

3/4 tsp. ground cardamom (or more, or less, to taste)

1/3 cup agave nectar or 1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of sea salt

Place rice, water, cardamom, and coconut milk in large pan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat once it has boiled and let simmer until rice is cooked, between 35-45 minutes. 

Remove from heat.  Add agave, salt, and cinnamon.  Let cool slightly before serving.  Delish!

If you only have whole cardamom pods at home, then you can grind them up very well in a spice/coffee grinder, or use a quality mortar and pestle.  However, I find that even this isn’t really fine enough.  It’s a bit more work, but you could take the seeds of 15 cardamom pods and infuse them in the milk.  Do this by placing the seeds in cheesecloth, tie it closed with kitchen string, and add to pot with the rice at the beginning.  Then the seeds can be easily removed once the rice is cooked.

If you are a bit absent minded like me and accidentally use white rice instead of brown, the cooking time will be reduced approximately by half.

This rice pudding is so creamy and delicious I can’t even tell you how happy I am.  The addition of the cardamom to the pudding makes it somewhat similar to Kheer, or Indian rice pudding.  This pudding is a slam-dunk.

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Quinoa flour is yet another great gluten/wheat-free flour.  Quinoa flour has a slightly nutty taste.  Quinoa itself is high in protein, so the flour is too!  It therefore adds moisture to the final baked good.  Because of this, it is a great flour to use in accompaniment with some of the dryer gluten/wheat-free flours, such as rice flour.  Quinoa flour is also high in fibre. 

Many of people don’t like to use a lot of quinoa flour in their baking because they say that it imparts a rather strong somewhat bitter taste taste.  It is true that the flour gives a heavier texture and flavour to baked goods, but this can be overcome by cutting it with starch (if you absolutely must).  It is a better idea to embrace the qualities of quinoa flour and use it in items where a nutty undertone might be desireable, such as a banana loaf, or where any bitterness can be compensated for with other ingredients.  Quinoa flour works extremely well in seed breads, cookies, waffles, and muffins, to name just only a few products it can work well in.  The final product will have a somewhat course, medium-sized crumb.  If overbaked, it will become dry, so be sure to keep your eye on it in the oven.

Quinoa flour can add a bit of chewiness to the final product, so it might not work well as the primary flour in a cake that you want to be light and airy.  If it was the only flour you had on hand, and you wanted a slightly lighter texture, cut the quinoa flour with starch: 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cup starch flour.

If you want to replace quinoa flour in a recipe, a good choice would be amaranth, buckwheat, or almond flour.  All three would add approximately the same amount of moisture to the recipe as quinoa flour would, as well as imparting a nuttiness to the final product.  The ratio to use when replacing is 1:1.

Given all the nutrition that can be found in these alternative flours, I have to ask myself why on earth would anyone continue to bake with wheat-flours?

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So here’s a nifty little gravy that I tried today.  It was so tasty that I felt compelled to share it. 

Now, I do love vegetables, but if I’m going to sit down to a plate of vegetables for dinner, I want them to have some kind of dressing or something on them.  As nice as plain vegetables can be as a side dish, they’re just not something I enjoy as a main dish.

This gravy tastes just like I remember real gravy tasting – thick, delicious, and nicely spiced.  I enjoyed it over a root vegetable roast, but really you could put it over anything that strikes your fancy.  Whatever you use it on will end up tasting like a stew!

The recipe is as follows:

1 cup chickpea flour (quinoa flour would also be just fine)

1 tsp. dried sage

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. dried rosemary

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 (or more) celery stalks

5 tblsp. olive oil

3 cups hot water, freshly boiled

1 tblsp. shiro miso, dissolved in 2 tblsp. water

2 tblsp. umeboshi vinegar

1 tblsp. balsamic vinegar

1 can chick peas, or mixture of chick peas and fava beans

*1/2 an onion, sauteed, would be an excellent addition to this gravy.  So would a few carrots, or a handful of spinach!

Toast chickpea flour in a separate pan on med-high heat for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat when it is lightly toasted. 

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil.  Saute celery in oil for 4-5 minutes, until it is cooked but still crisp.  Add onion, celery, or any other “hard” vegetable you may be using.  Saute until they are translucent. 

Add spices (including pepper) to this mixture.  Cook for about a minute, until everything is combined.  Add the two vinegars.

Add flour to saucepan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.   Whisk hot water in slowly, 1/2 cup at a time.  Stop adding water once the desired consistency has been found  – you determine how thick you want it!  Once the desired consistency has been reached, cook for another 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly to get the lumps out. 

Remove from heat.  Finish with the beans.  And Voila!  Your own vegan, gluten-free gravy.  Just as yummy as the real stuff!

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My pizza experiments up to this point have not been great successes.  The crusts have been like a very dry and extremely unappetizing cracker.

So this time I’ve used teff and almond meal as the main ingredients.  Yes, I admit it; I am in love with teff!  I just love it’s texture and taste.  I find it bakes up much less dry than the other gluten/wheat-free flours.

My recipe for today is as follows:

1 cup teff flour – I used brown, but ivory would be very nice too

1 cup almond meal

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1 tblsp. apple cidar vinegar

2 tblsp. olive or canola oil

3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 425°.

Combine all dry ingredients and whisk together well.  Whisk in oil and vinegar.  Finally, stir in water and mix until just combined.  The trick with teff is not to overwork it (or overbake it), or it can become tough.  The dough will be slightly sticky.  Form dough into a ball.

Place dough on a well-oiled cookie sheet.  Press the dough down until desired shape has been formed.  The thinner the crust, the more cracker-like it will become, so bear that it mind when forming your crust. 

Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cool for about 5 or 10 minutes, then add desired toppings.  These alternative flours tend to drink up moisture, so adding more pizza sauce than you normally do is a good idea.  Bake for 15 minutes, and enjoy!

This dough turned out fairly well, although I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the almond meal.  The taste was light, but if you didn’t know what flour was used, you would probably guess it was some kind of “whole grain” flour.  The taste, overall, was rich.  The baked crust was nice and moist.  The texture was good; definitely less cracker-like than previous attempts.  I think I’m onto something here, but it still needs a bit of adjusting.

I neglected to take any photos, as I was too focused on trying it, rather than documenting it.  But trust me, the crust is quite yummy, and worth trying!

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Nut flours and nut meals are slightly different from one another.  A nut flour is made by pressing the oil out of nuts, and then grinding the nuts.  By removing as much oil as possible from the nuts, nut flour has a finer and lighter texture than a nut meal.  Nut flour therefore more closely resembles the texture of a regular flour.  However, nut flours will add at least a little bit of extra moisture to the final product.

Nut meal, on the other hand, can be more easily made at home.  To make it, you can use either a food processor or a coffee grinder that has been dedicated to grinding spices.  Before grinding the nuts, it can help to freeze the nuts; this will help to prevent the mixture from turning into a nut butter.  There can be a very thin line between a making a nut meal and making a nut butter, as you will soon discover if you grind your own! 

Many people find that it is easier to control the texture of the nut meal by processing only small amounts of nuts at a time.  It is also a good idea to pulse the mixture, rather than just turning the food processor on and letting it run.  Nut meals will add significantly more moisture to the final product, but will give a slightly more coarse texture than nut flour.  Both nut meals and nut flours should be stored in the refrigorator or freezer and used as soon as possible.

Perhaps surprisingly, nut flours are fairly interchangeable with flour, gluten-free or otherwise.  The most commonly used nut flour is almond flour because of it’s more neutral flavour.  Other popular nut meals are hazelnut and pecan.  It is best to blanch the nuts before grinding them for either nut flour or nut meal.

Nut meals are especially popular for people who are on the SCD.  It is a great alternative for people who almost literally can have nothing else, as there are absolutely no grains allowed on the SCD.

In baking, nut flours help to add some “lift” to the finished product.  They also add fat, protein, moisture, and flavour.  It is possible to use only nut flour in a baked good, yet the final result tends to turn out a bit better when it is combined with another flour.  However, nut flours in particular seem to need an increased amount of “binding”, so a bit more xanthan gum or eggs might be necessary when they are used solo.

If replacing another flour with a nut meal, it is adviseable to increase the amount of nut meal by about 1/4 – 1/2 cup.  The same ratio goes if you are replacing nut flour in a recipe with a non-nut flour – decrease the amount of flour used by 1/4 – 1/2 cup.  It is also adviseable to adjust the cooking time by 5 or 10 minutes.  Products using nut flours will typically take a little bit longer to bake, because of the added moisture.

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