Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ginger Banana Scones

Scones are really not a fancy food. I think they are a rather humble cross between a biscuit and a muffin. They are easy to throw together but make such an impression! My girls always get so excited when I make scones, so I've been throwing together different combinations to change things up a bit. Here for your consideration are Ginger Banana Scones. The ginger here is subtle, you can easily kick it up a bit for a stronger ginger flavor. These scones taste better the next day, so I recommend making them the night before you want to serve them.

2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
4 tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum, if desired*
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. palm shortening or dairy-free, soy-free margarine

3/4 cup mashed banana
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger

rice milk for brushing , if desired
2 tbsp. minced crystallized ginger, if desired

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, trimming the sides so they don't hang over the edge of the baking sheet. Set aside.

Sift together the flour through the salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine meal. Set aside.

Combine the banana through the ginger. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture, mixing with a fork until well combined. If the mixture is too wet, stir in another tablespoon of flour.

Turn the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Dusting with flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands, pat the dough into a circle 1/2 inch high. Dust a sharp knife with flour and cut the circle into 8 equal wedges. If desired, brush the wedges with rice milk and sprinkle with minced crystallized ginger.

Bake the scones about 20 minutes or until the edges are light brown. Remove the scones from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet until just warm. Separate the wedges with a sharp serrated bread knife. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*I have not been adding xanthan gum to cookies or scones made with chickpea flour and the results have been just fine.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blueberry Pancakes (Gluten Free & Vegan)

Look at the fabulous crisp edges! I'm so excited!

Blueberries have been on sale recently and I've been busy making batches of blueberry pancakes on the weekends. After a year of playing with gluten free and vegan pancakes, I've hit on a combination that I really, really like. The edges of these pancakes get crisp while the centers stay light and airy - I really think they are perfect! The amaranth flour in the mix makes all the difference. You can substitute another flour, such as sorghum, but the amaranth in the mix lends to crisp edges - which drizzled with a bit of honey or maple syrup, is in my humble opinion, simply divine.

First, make some pancake mix. It does not take long and then you'll have enough leftovers for another batch later.

Pancake Mix
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1 cup potato starch
1 cup tapioca starch
1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Sift together all ingredients. Measure out 2 1/2 cups for your pancakes, storing leftover pancake mix in the refrigerator for later use.

Then, make your pancakes.

Blueberry Pancakes
2 1/2 cups Pancake Mix
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups rice milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup fresh blueberries

Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and the cinnamon. Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice milk, canola oil and applesauce. Pour into the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Stir in the blueberries.

Pour a little oil into the hot skillet. For each pancake, pour 1/3 cup of pancake batter onto the hot skillet. Cook until the edges are golden and many tiny bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake.

The surface of the bubbly pancake should be more dry than wet. Flip the pancake - it should be stiff and easy to flip. Cook until the other side is golden brown, then remove to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve pancakes hot with jam, fruit sauce, maple syrup, or whatever suits you. Right now, whipped cream sounds good to me! Serves 4.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

This dip so good it's hard not to inhale it all in one sitting. We like it with crackers and crudites. It would make an excellent spread for a sandwich, too. I like to make it with pine nuts when I have them, but it's not necessary. I love using Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax in this dip, but you can use breadcrumbs instead - start with 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and add more as needed. Rice Chex also do fine. The original recipe can be found here.

one 12oz jar roasted red peppers, drained
2 cloves garlic
1 cup Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax Cereal or Rice Chex or other crispy rice cereal
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
dash cayenne pepper

Process the garlic, nuts and cereal in food processor until the cereal is reduced to crumbs. Add the drained peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper. Process until thick and mostly smooth. Adjust the olive oil, lemon juice and salt to taste.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sprouting Beans, Trial 2

Brown chickpea sprouts about 5 days old.

I am continuing to sprout things, this time around it's random beans. My friend gave me samplings of no-name beans from an Indian market she frequents. One of the samples was a bag of small brown chickpeas, the others I have no idea what they of the beans is the size of a chickpea but perfectly round and a cream color. Another is just like that, but a greenish color. Another looks like small brown mung beans. So far, they all sprout beautifully with minimal fuss. I lay them in a non-stick 9"x13" baking dish and soak them in water for 4 - 6 hours. Then I drain them and put them on the table for a few days. I don't even bother to put them in the cabinet, which is what my friend recommended, because I'm likely to forget that they are in there (on the table, they stare at me and I can't forget them). I rinse them once or twice a day, and it only takes a day before they start to sprout. In 4 - 5 days, their tails get long. I let them go until they are about to split apart and then I cook them.

My friend says she enjoys sprouted beans raw on top of salads. They taste much too bitter for me to do that - I have to cook them but Anna likes them raw. I guess it depends on your taste. When they are cooked they take on a slightly nutty flavor, which might be nice for those who need to avoid nuts. My favorite way to cook them is in a tablespoon of coconut oil and chopped greens (any green - spinach, chard, mustard greens, arugula, kale, etc.) and seasoned simply with salt and pepper!

Sauteed brown chickpeas with chopped kale from the garden!

Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce

Spaghetti with clam sauce is the girls' new favorite food! I can hardly stand how cool that is. They are becoming more adventurous with food...if it's in the garden they'll eat it! If it sprouts, they'll try it! I was very pleased when they wanted to try this dish. Maybe they'll grow up to be chefs...with their food allergies, that might not be a bad idea. Anyway, they both really liked the clams plain and in the sauce. This dish will now enter our regular menu rotation - it's fast, easy, and delicious! If you are wondering about the use of wine, no worries - you can use chicken broth instead.

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. dried oregano or 1 tsp. fresh oregano
freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 6oz can of clams, juice reserved
3/4 pound rice spaghetti or linguine (such as Tinkyada)
1 tsp. dried parsley or 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Heat a large pot of water to boiling over high heat. Add the pasta, turn the heat down and boil until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain, rinse with hot water and return to the pot. Toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the 3 tbsp. in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano and pepper and cook another 2 minutes. Add the wine and reserved clam juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced a bit, about another 2 minutes. Add the clams and parsley and heat through.

Portion the pasta onto plates and ladle clam sauce on top. Serve hot. Serves 4 petite appetites or 2 hungry adults.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Currant Scones

Recently I've been playing around with omitting gums in favor of pectin out of interest. Why pectin? Similar to xanthan gum and guar gum, it is used as a binder in many commercially prepared foods. It is also being added to some commercial gluten free baking mixes in addition to xanthan gum. A friend tells me she bought one of these commercial mixes with pectin in it and the dough it produced was easier to handle, knead, roll out, etc. I bet it's the pectin - now that's interesting. Pectin can be derived from apple or citrus fruits and although it has many health benefits, be aware if you happen to have any fruit allergies - pectin may not be for you.

So I've been flinging pectin around a little bit to see what happens. It works well in these scones - I replaced it 1:1 for xanthan gum and it worked just as well as xanthan gum. Then again, I used a High Protein blend which has chickpea flour in it and bean flours help bind baked goods together, so that may have helped. The pectin I chose to use is Pomona's Universal Pectin. The pectin activates with calcium (included in the package) and not sugar so I don't need to worry about increasing the sugar content of my baked goods. I'll do more experimenting soon but for now, this is what I have - gum-free scones! (Of course if you just want to use xanthan gum or guar gum, go ahead! Replace the pectin with a gum and nix the calcium water and you're golden.)

Currant Scones

2 cups GF flour blend (I used High Protein)
2 tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Pomona's Universal Pectin
6 tbsp. palm shortening or dairy-free, soy-free margarine (such as Earth Balance)
generous dash of nutmeg
1/3 cup currants

1/4 cup dairy-free, soy-free yogurt (such as So Delicious)
1/4 cup dairy-free, soy free milk alternative (I like coconut milk)
1 tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1 tsp. calcium water (included with Pomona's Universal Pectin)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour through the nutmeg. Cut in the shortening or margarine with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine meal. Add the currants and toss to coat. Set aside.

Combine the yogurt through the calcium water. Pour all at once into the dry mixture. Mix with a fork until the mixture sticks together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The mixture should not be too wet or too dry. If it is too dry, add 1 tbsp. water at a time until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated. If it is too wet, add 1 tbsp. flour at a time until you can handle the dough without it sticking to your hands.

Turn the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Knead the dough a few times until smooth. Pat the dough into a circle 1/2 inch high. Cut the dough into 8 wedges.

Place the scones into the oven and bake 15 - 20 minutes, or until the bottoms and edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack and let cool a bit. With a bread knife, separate the wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature. We like our scones plain or with a bit of margarine and jam.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fried Pickles!

The other week out of the blue in a random conversation, a friend mentioned fried pickles and how much she liked them. And I suddenly, fervently needed to have some. So salty and crispy and sour, fried pickles may be my favorite fried food. Not that I do fried food much. Well aside from potato chips, but those don't count. Yes, my friends, fried pickles are simply divine. If you are a fan of anything related to vinegar, kraut and their ilk, you will probably like fried pickles.

My friend paid a visit today and we finally got to fry up a batch of pickles. The stacking kosher dills were all I could find that were safe (no corn syrup, no preservatives, no food dyes) so we used those. I was a little afraid they would not turn out well, thinking maybe sans egg they'd be soggy or the coating would fall off easily. But no! The coating was crispy and it stayed on perfectly, making the pickles stiff and not floppy which was really awesome. They were so good. Really, really good. The picture does not do them justice. It's a good thing I only made a small batch to share with a friend, or I would have been very tempted to scarf them all up myself.

You may feel free to serve your fried pickles with ketchup, BBQ sauce, honey mustard, ranch dressing or whatever else might float your boat. I happen to like mine plain!

1/4 cup lite coconut milk (such as Thai Kitchen)
4 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or more to taste
sliced dill pickles
canola oil for frying

Pour canola oil to a 1 inch depth into a large pot or dutch oven or a skillet with tall sides. Heat the oil over medium-low heat until a pinch of rice flour thrown into it sizzles.

Set out three shallow dishes. In one combine the coconut milk and lemon juice. Put the potato starch in another. In the last one, combine the rice flour and cayenne.

Lay your pickles on paper towels and blot them dry. Dip one at a time into the coconut milk, shaking off the excess. Then dredge in potato starch. Dip them again into the coconut milk, and dredge them in rice flour to coat evenly. Place them carefully in the hot oil. Fry 3 - 4 minutes until golden brown on the bottom, then flip and fry on the other side another 3 minutes until the whole slice is crisp and golden.

Drain the pickles on paper towels, remove them to a clean paper towel in a serving dish and serve hot.

*I tried these two ways - dipping the pickles in coconut milk/potato starch/coconut milk/rice flour, and dredging them first in potato starch, then dipping them in coconut milk and coating them with rice flour. Both ways work fine, but the first method produces a hardier, crunchier crust which my friend and I preferred.