Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Revelatory Moment With Flax Flat Bread

Today I tried a flat bread recipe from a recipe book.  I won't make it my "own".  Something was not quite right about the flavor.  I don't think I want a flat bread that is all flax and grain free.  I did figure out what I had been missing with my flat bread attempts previously: not enough egg.  A high egg ratio made for a pliable flat bread.  However, we have an egg allergy in the house, so I don't know how that fits our criteria.  An egg baked into something is generally okay.  An omelette is not.  This bread is much closer to an omelette than a flat bread.  I'll have to consider whether that is something we want to risk.  We may see some allergic response, and that would answer the question rather easily.  I think I may be close though.  With a bit of tweaking, I could have my end result soon.

I won't post the recipe since it's not my development.  It's widely available, in published form.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gluten Free Millet Rice Tapioca Pancakes

1/2 c. millet flour
1/2 c. white rice flour
1/4 c. tapioca flour
1 pinch salt
1 extra large egg
1 c. milk
2 tbs butter

Blend the dry ingredients.  Make a well, add the egg.  Blend the dry ingredients in from the sides.  Gradually add the milk, until a very thin batter forms.  Melt the butter in a skillet.   Allow the batter to stand for at least 20 minutes.   Add butter to the batter.  Heat the skillet over medium heat.  Add batter to the skillet, forming very thin pancakes or crepes.  Flip once the first side is golden and formed.  Cook until the second side turns  golden.  Remove from the heat and continue until all the batter is used.

So far this is my favorite use for millet rice flour blends.  It makes amazing crepes, that are no second best to gluten pancakes.  I'm very happy with these results.  I don't have to apologize or even explain gluten free foods when I serve something as successful as this recipe.

Gluten Free Millet Rice Tapioca Cookies

113 g unsalted butter
100 g granulated sugar
1 extra large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
100 g white rice flour
80 g millet flour
40 g tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Cream the butter with the sugar.  Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix well.  Blend the flours with the salt and baking powder.  Gradually add the dry mixture.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 min at 350 degrees F, until lightly browned.  Cool.

Millet Flax Flat Bread

Another attempt at flat bread has produced a good flavor, but the bendable texture yet alludes me.  Plus, it's still somehow too dry for a flat bread, but not dry enough for a tortilla.  Then, there is the concern of how much flax do we want in our diet?  What is too much?

Here's the catalog of this near miss:

1/3 c. millet flour
1/3 c. ground golden flax seeds
1 pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 extra large egg
4 tbs plain yoghurt

Blend all the dry ingredients.  Make a well.  Add the egg.  Gradually add in the egg, blending in from the sides.  Add the yoghurt one tablespoonful at a time.  Then, add water to thin the consistency to spread thinly.  Spread over a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees F, for 10-12 min., until lightly browned.

Once again, my four year old loved it, especially spread with almond butter.  I enjoyed it dipped in bean dip or with roasted bell peppers.  I'm not convinced that this is the one, so more experimenting to come.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gluten Free Millet Rice Tapioca Tortillas

Due to the eldest child's corn intolerance, I decided to make a corn free version of tortillas.  It is in line with my pursuit of gluten free flat bread.  However, this is not for general sandwiches or dips.  This flat bread is for specific recipes.  I was trying to incorporate him into our family meals of enchiladas.  It will have other uses as well, once I perfect it. My attempt was not so pleasing as I would like.  I used way too much tapioca, I think.  While the first side cooked beautifully, when I flipped them, the second side did not brown. It remained a ghostly, unpalatable white.  I do think the millet rice combination is a goldmine for recipe development.  It will not will not do nutritionally for every day, but it may be just the blend I need for specific occasions.  The result was tortillas that could bend and be filled.  It was definitely closer to a corn tortilla than  a wheat tortilla for making enchiladas, in texture.  It was like neither in flavor.

1/3 c. millet
1/3 c. white rice
1/3 c. tapioca
a pinch of salt
1/2 c.water, or more

Blend the flours with the starch and the salt.  Gradually add in water, until a thin batter is formed.  A very thin crepe-like batter is desirable.  Gluten free batters should be thinner than a gluten batter, to prevent dryness in the final product.  Pour the batter by quarter cup spoonfuls into a six inch skillet over high heat.  Flip the tortilla when the first side is slightly browned.  There will not be bubbles forming, as would with pancakes.  Remove from heat.  Continue with all the batter.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Buckwheat Millet Flax Gluten Free Flat Bread

This week's experiment with gluten free flat bread was with buckwheat, millet and flax meal.  I also tried adding an egg and salt, then blending with water.  I am reasonably pleased with the flavor, and my four year old loved it spread with almond butter.  However, it's not bendable.  It's more of a cracker.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Gluten free crackers are much cheaper home made.  But, with us being mostly bread free, a flat bread would be nice for dips and spreads.  A flat bread sandwich or wrap would be good too.  I'm still on this journey; I'm not giving up yet.

Gluten Free Spinach Cheese Crepes Cannelloni

I used to make spinach manicotti once a week, from the autumn through the spring.  Since the eldest boy had to go gluten free, I haven't made it.  It was one of his favorites.  Even during the worst of his feeding difficulties, I could get him to eat an entire manicotti (as a toddler!) with relish.  There was no readily available gluten free manicotti pasta available to me.  I have discovered the Caesar brand frozen spinach cheese manicotti, but it's not at my local market.  There were so many other recipes to adjust, so many other challenges, that I simply took it off our menu as a family.  The Vintner doesn't like spinach.  Since he is also gluten free, I have made two meals, a gluten free one for them, and a gluten inclusive meal for the rest of us.  I wouldn't think of the effort for manicotti as worth it for us, seeing as I had to make two (or more) meals in addition.  As much as I love manicotti, it wasn't a priority previously.

Now that I've adapted to recipe to making it with homemade gluten free crepes, it's back on the weekly menu.  It's no more difficult than manicotti, since making the pasta and making the crepes takes the same amount of time and effort.  Plus, stuffing is much easier with crepes.  This is one of my few recipes in American measurements, instead of metric, mostly because I am buying some of the ingredients, like ricotta, in American measurements.  Conversion upon request.

1/2 c. white rice flour
1/2 c. sorghum flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
3/4 c. whole milk
at least 2 tbsps butter
16 oz ricotta cheese
9 oz package frozen spinach
nutmeg, freshly ground
2 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
15 oz can of tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp, to tasteolive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper

Blend the flours together with the salt.  Make a well in the flours and crack in the egg into the center of the well.  Whisk in the egg into the flour, gradually pulling in flour from the sides of the well.  Slowly add in the milk until the batter is even and thin.  Melt butter in a skillet.  Allow to cool slightly.  Add the melted butter to the crepe batter.  Whisk until blended.  Put the skillet over the burner on medium heat.  Pour the batter into the skillet, using just enough to cover the base of the pan.  Fry until set, bubbles may or may not form on the surface, just a couple of minutes.  Flip the crepe over and cook for another minute or until set.  You don't want them crispy, just cooked until set and very pliable.  They will cook again, so slightly underdone is fine.
Remove from the pan and cool.  Repeat until all the batter has been used.

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, 2 oz mozzarella and 1 oz Parmesan cheeses.  Defrost the spinach.  Drain the spinach in a sieve, squeezing out all the excess water.  The spinach should be fairly dry.  Add the spinach to the cheeses and grate nutmeg over the mixture.  Set aside.

Open the tomato sauce and put it in a small saucepan.  Simmer over low heat.  Add in olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste.  Most brands of tomato sauce are fairly salty and don't need much.  I buy a relatively mild brand, and I do add salt.  Mince or press the garlic clove into the sauce.  Simmer the tomato sauce, while preparing the other ingredients.  The minimum amount of time is to cook the garlic, about five minutes, but tomato sauce improves with long slow simmering.

Spread a spoonful of spinach cheese filling over a crepe.  Roll up and place seam side down in a baking pan.  I use an 8" x 8" glass pan, but any pan, size or shape will do.  Continue will all the crepes until the pan is full or the filling is gone.  Or, this recipe can be made ahead, and then assembled one by one for single servings.  Poor tomato sauce over the crepes. Sprinkle over remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts and the dish warms through.  Unlike with manicotti, the crepes don't require long baking.  You only need the sauce to meld with the crepes and the cheese to melt.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gluten Free Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower cheese is already a giant step ahead of macaroni and cheese towards being gluten free.  Only the cheese sauce requires a slight tweaking.  If one prefers a bread crumb topping over a grated cheese topping, then that can be made with gluten free crumbs.  Conveniently for me, cauliflower cheese is more of a comfort food from childhood than macaroni cheese ever was.  My own mother seemed to misunderstand the idea that a cheese sauce was involved instead of just grating cheese on top of the base and baking it.  It works reasonably well with cauliflower cheese; it's a stringy mess with macaroni.  When I would taste cauliflower cheese made at others' houses or from frozen, I was transformed into culinary bliss.  When I would taste macaroni and cheese made with a sauce, it was merely a revelation that what I was getting at home was sub par.

Then, there's the whole box concern, which need not be addressed in depth here.  It certainly doesn't fit  into our ethos at the Cottage.  It's not from scratch.  Although, as a child I yearned for day glow versions from blue boxes, and dreaded home made from scratch.  With cauliflower cheese, there is no box.  While the frozen versions are good, there are no gluten free versions as far as I have found.  One might as well explore cooking from scratch, when it comes to cauliflower cheese.

1 head cauliflower
45 g potato starch
60 g butter
500 ml whole milk
225 g Cheddar cheese
5 g powdered English mustard
50 g gluten free cracker crumbs

Break the cauliflower into florets, and put in the top of a steamer.  Steam until soft, but not mushy.  The cauliflower can then be put into a oven safe dish, or covered and refrigerated until later.  This step is make-ahead, if you wish.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (400 Fahrenheit).  Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the potato starch and blend into the butter.  Remove from the heat and add the whole milk. Return to the heat.  Grate in the Cheddar cheese.  Whisk until blended and the cheese is melted.  Add the powdered mustard and whisk together.  Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower.  Crumble over the cauliflower and cheese the cracker crumbs.  Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  The sauce should be hot and bubbly.  This dish cools and reheats well.  The amount of time baking is less about cooking the dish and allowing the flavors to meld.  Cool thoroughly before eating.  I have lost the roof of my mouth countless times to cauliflower cheese.  It's a great challenge for me to wait for this to be an edible temperature.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gluten Free Flat Bread Lessons

In my pursuit of gluten free flat bread, I have discovered that flax seeds will most likely be in my final recipe.  So far, 100% flax seeds with salt and water resulted in flax seed crackers.  I am delighted to have these crackers, although still in pursuit of a bread.  The store bought version of these crackers are expensive.  Home made is quick and easy.  I'm going to try another version that is designated for the microwave.  After that, I'm going back to sorghum or millet or both, and playing with the flax ratio.  I also might try making the 100% flax seed again, but thicker.  Perhaps spreading it too thin crossed over into cracker territory.  All good lessons learned.

Gluten Free Pork Chops with Cream Gravy

Sometimes we forget simple, classic pairings because a more common version has become conventional.  I'm all for the simple, traditional classics over ersatz versions of conventional foods.  When we think of cream gravy, we usually think of a recipe that includes gluten.  The knee jerk reaction is to substitute with gluten free products and tweak and twist and contort the recipe, trying all sorts of barely edible variations.  There is an easier way.  We can look to similar recipes that are naturally gluten free.  They aren't fake or put upon; they can satisfy the desire without the frustration.  Thus, the recipe I have today is pork chops in cream.  It's more simple that cream gravy.  It does mean that there won't be ample sauce.  However, the sauce is so rich and delightful, there isn't a need to smother the pork chop.  It's barely a recipe it's so simple.  It's just wonderful.

Pork chops
salt and pepper
two tablespoons butter
whipping cream or full cream

Saute the pork chops until just cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat, and add butter.  Allow the pan too cool slightly.  Remove the pork chops to a plate.  Deglaze the pan with a tablespoon or two of cream.  The amount of cream depends on the size of the pan and the heat of the pan.  A large, hot pan will bubble it away quickly.  You want the cream to bubble just a bit and thicken slightly, pourable but not too thin.  Pour the cream and butter over the pork chop and serve.