Tag Archives: savory

Gluten-Free Pierogis and an Awesome Giveaway!

Gluten-Free Rosemary Pierogi with Sweet Potato Filling

Hello ladies and gentlemen!

I am so excited about today’s post, because not only do I have a delightfully easy and scrumptious gluten-free pierogi recipe to share with you, but I also have an incredible promotional giveaway thanks to the New York City food blog, Bromography!

A few months ago I had a ravishing conversation with Elle, Bromography’s founder and editor.  We were already “friends” on Foodbuzz and so I was familiar with the site, which focuses on the NYC food scene.  After dishing about our love of all things food friendly, we agreed that I should start an allergy-friendly restaurant review column, agreeing to call it, fittingly, The Dusty Review!  Since then I have been pleased to review some of NYC’s incredible eats on a weekly basis, as well as review the revered Mad About Macarons cookbook and interview it’s author, Jill Colonna.  I also reviewed a panel discussion on Food Markets and Immigrant Identity at the Museum of the City of New York, and have a few more exciting articles coming.  It’s a fun gig.

So to celebrate my joining the team Bromography and yours truly are pairing up to give you an awesome, gluten-free giveaway!

The Goods…

How To Enter…

Contestants who comment on  this post and “Like” Bromography on Facebook are eligible for Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking.

Contestants who comment on Bromography and “Like” The Dusty Baker on Facebook are eligible for the Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide.

Anyone who comments on both posts and “Like”s both blogs on Bromography are eligible for both books!

And if you follow DustyBakerGal and Bromography on Twitter and post this giveaway to your followers we’ll double your entry!

Please note that you must connect with BOTH my site and Bromography, which is why this is set up this way!  Drop me a line on either site so I know you’ve done so please!

The contest will end at midnight, EST on Thursday, August 25th.

And now… Pierogies!

I love reviewing restaurants for The Dusty Review, and my review of Odessa Restaurant in NYC’s east village.  Please click over to Bromography to check out the review!

I had been there late nights for whiskey and some really fattening food, but a visiting friend insisted we go there for breakfast to eat their peirogi.  Which we did.  Twice in three days.

The pierogis were not gluten-free.  But the sauerkraut and sweet potato ones that I had on my first visit were to die for.  The sauerkraut was so delectable that on my second visit I ate almost an entire side order of it with my eggs.

But how hard would it be to make gluten-free pierogis at home?

As it ends up, not that darned hard!

I knew pierogi dough was the basic combo of flour, eggs and water.  A quick glance at a Foodbuzz friend, The Country Cook, and I felt ready to tackle the task.  I made a simple sweet potato filling, and the glass of fresh rosemary sitting on my cutting board inspired me to create a new take on this incredible classic.

Recipes like this are actually where cooking gluten-free comes in handy – because there is no gluten in the dough, there’s no need to knead (ha!) for a certain amount of time, and no worry about overworking dough.  What’s important is proportion and temperature.

This recipe is awesome.  Easy.  Relatively quick.  Enjoy.

And good luck!

Sweet potato filled and so savory!

Ingredients:

  • Two cups of gluten-free flour:  I used equal proportions of brown rice, sweet sticky rice, quinoa and tapioca.  I highly recommend the sweet sticky rice, as it helps create the elasticity that’s awesome for pastas.  And make sure one of the flours is a starch such as potato, tapioca or arrowroot: this helps bind the flours together in the absence of gluten.
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp cream cheese (I used Tofutti cream cheese)
  • 1 Tbsp milk (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, separated
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces
  • Butter or olive oil to taste

Directions:

  • Set a medium pot of water on the stove to come up to a boil while you prepare the pierogis.
  • Bring a small pot of water to boil and drop in sweet potatoes.  Let them cook while you prepare the dough.
  • In a bowl of a standing mixer with the bread hook attachment*, place the flours, xanthan gum, egg, cream cheese, milk, 1 tsp rosemary and pinch of kosher salt.
  • Mix on medium speed until the wet ingredients dissolve.  Slowly add warm water (while mixing) until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Mix until a dough ball forms that is thoroughly blended, about 2 minutes.
  • Feel the dough – it should be tacky and with an elastic pull, but not sticky.  If sticky, add a tiny bit more flour.  If dry, a dribble of water.  Alter until nice and tacky.
  • Take 1/3 of the dough and press onto a floured board.  Roll until 1/8 inch thick, and then cut into circles with a 3″ cutter.  Repeat with other 2/3 of dough.  Let them sit while you continue with the sweet potato filling.
  • When the sweet potatoes are soft, drain and return to pot.  Mash along with reserved 1 tsp rosemary and salt and butter/oil to taste.
  • Put about 1 tsp of sweet potato filling in the center of each dough round.  Use a pastry brush to brush with water, then fold into a crescent.  Press completely closed with your fingers or press with a fork.  Repeat until you have about 8 pierogis.
  • Drop them into the boiling water.  Initially they’ll sink – once they’ve floated to the top, cook for about four minutes, for a total of about six minutes.
  • Remove onto a plate and repeat the process of rolling and boiling until all are done!

This makes about 24 pierogis.

I suggest serving them with a crackling of fresh salt and some butter, or the classic sour cream and/or applesauce.

Thanks to Bromography for our awesome giveaway and the review that inspired this recipe!

My plate-full of breakfast pierogi

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Baked Potato Cakes – Gluten and Dairy Free Recipe Swap!

Baked Potato Cakes

This is my second contribution to the Burwell General Store Recipe Swap. And it’s a very, very dusty recipe.  Lately I’ve been busy baking for various things, doing shows, keeping sane, and visiting with friends from out of town.  So I put this recipe off to the last minute, and when it (obviously) didn’t come out perfectly the first time, I just sorta shrugged and went on with my day.  I’m definitely a very dusty person in general right now :)

Not the best way to start out a post on “check out my recipe!”.  Keep reading, it all works out in a way, promise.  And next month I’ll have more time in my own kitchen to contribute something stellar.

Quick fill-in: Every month CM sends a group of about 30 bloggers / bakers / chefs a recipe from a charming old cookbook and we have to change at least 3 things about it and post our creations on the same day.  It is incredible to see the variety that comes from this swap – sweet things made into savory (and vice versa), gluten-free, health-conscious, fully-fatted.  Please support the other bloggers (and check out their responses to this swap) by going to Burwell General Store.

Honestly, I wish I had a bit more time with this recipe!  The recipe itself is rather simple – mashed potatoes are blended with donut basics and then fried to perfection.  But I’ve (a) been extremely busy (b) wanted to keep the donut idea of the recipe intact (c) LOVE making donuts (d) didn’t want to have to fry anything and (e) didn’t want to buy a donut pan.

The original recipe

So I found a recipe for donuts baked in muffin tins from Mrs. Field’s Secrets and hoped for the best in the procedure.  Now, mine did not come out as beautifully as the ones in their picture, which were smooth and perfect on top and light enough that they could be filled with jam.  And these neither look nor really taste like donuts (though I could see the original recipe working quite well).

But that doesn’t mean these aren’t tasty.

And as they’re made with (primarily) potato flour and contain NO dairy or oil, they’re not half bad for you.

Served with lemon curd

Last year a cooking buddy thrust the term “rustic” on me, and I now place that on most of my creations that are scrumptious but make me laugh when I look at them.  These are one such recipe.

I’d suggest serving these as a dinner side as they’re rather savory (they sort of remind me of a cornbread).  They’re really dense and chewy, slightly sweet and with a light and crusty top.  I had made some peach jam to pipe inside of them but they were so dense I couldn’t pipe it in!  So I slathered a bit of lemon curd on and they were even more tasty.

And, these are gluten and dairy FREE!  So there.

Here you go.  Baked Potato Cakes.  Swapped.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup potato flour
  • 1/4 cup starch (I used tapioca, but arrowroot would work too)
  • 1 1/2 cup gluten free flour with xanthan gum
  • 1/2 extra tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1  cup unsweetened milk of choice (I used almond milk)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray 12 muffin tins with cooking spray.
  • Beat eggs in mixer with paddle attachment until slightly frothy.
  • Add sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Slowly add in milk and beat to combine.
  • Add all dry ingredients and beat to combine.
  • Fill 2/3 way up in 12 greased muffin tins.
  • Bake for 18 minutes or until lightly brown on top.

Chicken Coconut Soup

Chicken Coconut Soup

It’s warm in NYC today, but the boyfriend and I are a bit under the weather.  So we need a soup that’s light but also complex in flavor and filling to our Day-4-cold bodies, and I need something that’s extremely easy to make.  Enter Chicken Coconut Soup.  The boyfriend doesn’t eat much meat (sniff), so he often requests chicken when asked what I should make for dinner.  Conveniently I had some boneless thighs in the fridge and a can of coconut milk and coconut cream as well as a bunch of leftover lemons.  A container of mushrooms, some green onions and some fresh basil – voila!  This is an extremely affordable soup that – when served over rice – can comfortably feed four hungry bellies.  Weakened condition optional.

Since I have a bit of baking to do and know my energy waxes and wanes on its own schedule when I’m sick, I’m preparing the soup early, then I’ll let it sit in the fridge and the flavors meld.  Tonight I’ll cook up some jasmine rice, bring the soup up to temp and we’ll be good to go.

I decided to poach the chicken as my new best friend Jacques Pépin learned from his buddy Danny Kaye (who I love, sigh).  I also added oyster mushrooms to this recipe out of inspiration from Jacques.  If you want to learn tricks of the trade, read chef memoirs.  And they’re just so much fun!

Ingredients:

  • About 1 – 1 1/2 pound chicken.  I used boneless thighs to give the soup a bit more fat and flavor, but breasts work as well.
  • 2 whole lemons
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3/4 can coconut cream (NOT cream of coconut).  If you can’t find this, just use 3 cans of coconut milk in lieu of as much water.
  • 1 bunch of green onions, tough greens removed, chopped.
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • About 3 oz mushrooms (optional).  I used oyster mushrooms, but any delicate mushroom will do.

Directions:

  • Spread chicken in a (preferably cast-iron) soup or stock pot.  Add coconut milk and enough water to cover chicken by 1/2 inch.  If you’re not using coconut cream as well, use 2 more cans coconut milk and add water to top.
  • Add salt, peppercorns and 1/2 of the chopped green onions.
  • Turn on heat and start to bring liquid up to a boil.
  • While the pot heats up, juice one lemon and add to the broth.  Take the other lemon and slice into 1/2 inch rounds, then dice.  Add to soup in entirety.
  • When the liquid is at a strong boil, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.  This should poach the chicken to a perfect level.
  • After fifteen minutes, remove chicken and check to see that it’s done.  If not, return to pot.  If so, remove all chicken and allow to cool.
  • Meanwhile, whisk in enough coconut cream to thicken the broth a bit and enhance the flavor.  I added about 1/4 cup at a time, and my perfect level was 3/4 of the can.
  • Add almost the rest of the green onions.
  • Chop 3/4 of the mushrooms and add.
  • Reserve remaining green onions, mushrooms and lemon rind.
  • When the chicken is lukewarm, shred it with your hands along the “grain” of the meat (much easier than cutting, promise) and return to pot.  Bring back up to a simmer and serve immediately or cover and put in fridge until ready to eat.
  • Garnish with remaining green onions, mushrooms and lemon rind.

Serving suggestion: try it over some rice noodles or jasmine rice.  Adding a bit of crushed red pepper would also be delightful.

Phat Tuesday Lobster Dinner

Phat Tuesday Lobster Dinner

I’ve never read anywhere that a fish dinner during the Mardi Gras / Lenten season couldn’t mean LOBSTER.  I mean, wasn’t lobster formerly the poor man’s dish?

Personally, I am not a Christian.  But I was raised in a very Catholic family and still have respect for the faith and, particularly, the period of mindfulness that comes with the 40 days before the celebration of Easter.  And the gluttony that’s inevitable on the eve of those 40 days.

And I like fish.  Acoreans are fishing people.  We know how to cook it up.

In truth, it was my father who requested this dinner last week.  I was fed lobster for my first birthday in a summer celebration that would quickly become tradition in my family, and my father’s stuffed lobster dinner became a meal I naturally inherited and serve for birthdays and such special occasions.  Dad was away for his birthday this year, so tonight was a bit of a post-birthday celebration.

If we were enjoying the summer months I’d serve this with boiled corn on the cob and a salad.  But as it’s still frigid in my hometown in Connecticut, I opted for recent favorites Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes and, for a little healthy green, Kamui Den Cold Aparagus Salad.  Along with too much red wine and a bit of Portuguese corn bread.

Now, like many European cultures, the Portuguese are loose with the amount of their “ingredients”.  They don’t measure their amounts and are skilled at utilizing what’s on hand. And there’s a pride in knowing that your particular recipe is yours.  And that means it’s yours every time too – as changeable as what’s in your cupboard or what looks best in season.

I often use beer or white wine in this recipe; because I wanted it completely gluten-free and wanted to feature fresh lemon I used neither.  Sometimes I include diced onion; tonight I didn’t have any.  I completely forgot that fresh parsley makes it sing.  I ran out of regular gluten-free bread that I had toasted and dried so I threw in some soft gluten-free corn bread that my dad brought me from Fall River (a mecca for Portuguese on the east coast of the U.S.).   I’ve made this recipe two dozen times – always differently.

Tonight, my sister remarked that she liked it better than my dad’s.  I take that as a compliment, for this night only, knowing that the recipe, like the seasons and the people who make it, is different every time.

Note: The ingredients are listed PER PERSON.  I suggest using these amounts as guidelines and estimating and being creative to taste.

Ingredients PER PERSON

  • 1 lobster between 1.25 – 1.5 pound
  • 1/2 can lump crab meat, with water/juice
  • 1 large piece of bread of choice per person – I’ve used anything from regular sliced gluten-free bread to classic Italian or French bread.  Either way, toast it well and allow it to cool completely before mixing.
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice plus one thick slice lemon
  • 1/2 Tbsp hot sauce or salsa, heat depending on company.  I used a Portuguese red pepper exclusive to where we get it in Fall River.  Any good simple hot salsa works well, or Frank’s Red Hot to taste.
  • 2 Tbsp butter, separated, melted
  • white wine or beer to moisten – optional
  • 2Tbsp fresh chopped parsley – optional
  • Other options: minced garlic, minced parsley, sauteed celery, small scallops, lemon zest, lemon or orange rind.

Directions

Lobster Massacre

This is always the hardest part, for me anyway.  I used to slice my way easily through and not bat an eye.  But the older and more yogic I get, the more difficult it becomes.  To the point that I had my father do it for me tonight.  And my boyfriend suggested I watch Annie Hall before.  Both very useful.

My recommendation for killing live lobsters for stuffing, though, is to use a sharp knife and dive in.  Using bare hands or an oven mitt (making sure that their claws are safe with rubber bands – I made that mistake once!), hold the main body back side / tail down and slice sharply from the head to the middle of the body between the rows of legs.  Doing so is the fastest way to kill them.  Don’t be alarmed if they twitch for a while after – this is purely muscular.  Set aside on a cutting board while you prepare the stuffing and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Stuffing

In a large bowl, dump in crab meat.  Tear toasted bread with your fingers into a combination of small pieces and crumbs.  Add 1 Tbsp melted butter (per person), lemon, hot sauce, parsley, and enough beer or wine to make moist.  I actually had no problem tonight not adding any extra liquid, but would have thrown in a splash of the red wine we were drinking if needed.  VERY adaptable recipe.

Not for vegans.

Gut the lobsters.  I actually find this part easier than the killing.  Basically, you want to clean out any soft matter from the insides.  I usually run the knife down from the head to the tail so that I’ve split the lobster length-wise, leaving the main shell intact.  This way I can easily crack the middle cavity open and take out the digestive and reproductive tracts, which are basically all lobsters have.  If it’s gooey, remove it.  And maybe say a prayer of thanks for the little guy who’s about to nourish you deliciously.

Fill em and line em up

Distribute stuffing equally amongst lobsters, packing tightly into empty body cavity. Melt remaining butter and mix with a small additional amount of hot sauce if desired.  Carefully pour equally into the crack you’ve made in the tail and onto the top of the stuffing.  Cover with one slice of lemon.

Cover with tin foil and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until lobsters are almost bright red.  Uncover and turn up to broil.  Broil for 5 minutes.

Vibrant bright red lobster

Remove from heat, allow to stand a few minutes and serve!  There’s a good amount of butter in the recipe and good lobsters don’t need the addition of melted butter with serving.  But a nice option would be to infuse some fresh herbs into melted butter.  I served this with asparagus salad, roasted potatoes and fresh melon.

SO yummy!

Happy Phat Tuesday!


Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

It was a long weekend, full of way too much fun with good people and delicious food.  And at the end of an exhausting Sunday, where I had gotten drenched by the NYC rain too many times, sort-of enjoyed THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU and muscled my way through YogaX (the yoga version of P90X a visiting friend shames us by doing daily),  I wanted to “eat the crap out of some sushi”.

Enter Kamui Den.  The best thing about eating sushi there is that the sushi is not the best thing on the menu.  It is delicious – buttery soft with lots of ginger and mild wasabi on the site – but it’s the appetizers that win.  Lotus Root salad, picked vegetables, tempura so light you can see the texture of the vegetables before you bite into them.  And a simple cold asparagus salad that my boyfriend boldly proclaimed to be the best asparagus he’s ever had.

Thank god it’s a simple dish.  The boyfriend can’t cook to save his life (sadly I think that’s a completely true statement) but the visiting friend (Tim) is an extremely able man in the kitchen.  We agreed that the most likely way to replicate the dish is to flash boil the asparagus and then douse it in a cold water bath before drizzling on the simple sauce of lemon, oil, salt and pepper.  Tim also pointed out to salt the crap out of the water – literally, so that it tasted like the Arctic.  I knew it would help bring out the color of the asparagus, but didn’t know how much salt it takes to season vegetables in the boiling state.

This morning I hit the train to Connecticut and stopped by my brother’s place, where he left me some Brussels sprouts and asparagus in exchange for checking in on his cat (it’s sort of endearing that he knows leaving me his unused vegetables does really make it that much easier to get a favor out of me).  While my laziness enticed me to stick to my millet/lentil/get-my-tush-in-the-office plan, the desire to learn how to make this for someone I care about won over.

And it’s really simple.  Really.  As in, he can make it.

Maybe.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • salt (table salt for boiling and I used rock sea salt for flavoring)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice (fresh preferred)

Directions

Plain old asparagus, sorta green and full of potential

Trim the ends off of each spear and then cut in half, so that your pieces are about 3″ long.  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with a lot of salt… I estimate that I used about 2 tablespoons.  While waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice-water bath and make sure you have a colander ready.  When at a roiling boil, drop in asparagus and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, until the thickest spear is soft enough to easily pierce with a fork but the pieces still have a lot of firmness to them.

The vibrant green after boiling

Quickly drain and toss in the ice-water bath, swirling the asparagus to make sure they’re all submerged.

While the asparagus chills, whisk together 2 Tbsp very good virgin or extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, and freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the cold asparagus in and then drain as much of the oil off as possible.  Use excess oil for drizzling

Enjoy!

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

 

Tapioca and Buckwheat Gluten-and-Dairy Free Crepe Batter

 

Savory Breakfast Crepes

Yesterday I woke and immediately started daydreaming about Sunday breakfast.   With all the writing and social networking that goes with my job(s), sometimes I just get cranky for time IN the actual kitchen.

Crepes.  I don’t know why, but I started daydreaming about crepes.  Filled with eggs and goat cheese and something bright colored to remind me what spring looked like.  Luckily I was only a few blocks from Whole Foods, where a bunch of gorgeous little tomatoes from Mexico found their way into my basket, along with some fresh cilantro and small Mexican champagne mangoes.  The sun was out, the air was warm, I walked home with my jacket unbuttoned and my raggedy hair blowing in the wind.  New Yorkers had a bit more of a spring to their step, and I didn’t realize at the time how this quick break from the cold would make smiles turn up a bit more on most of the lovely people I’d encounter in my day.

Anyway, back in the kitchen.  I had decided on using a little buckwheat – which is common in some crepe recipes but used sparingly as it can be a bit bitter – and tapioca flour to pull along with the eggs and soymilk I was using for the crepe batter.  A tiny bit of butter and salt, and that’s it!  I utilized the whipping strength of a blender and the ease of a non-stick skillet to aid in making sure that the eggs would be beaten light and fluffy and the crepes easy to flip.  When the first one actually WORKED I called my boyfriend to the stove, giddy like a school-child out the first day of holiday.  We delighted in a few seconds of cheery contentment, flipping gluten-and-dairy-free crepes onto a waiting pan while eggs slow-cooked nearby.

This recipe is quite simple, and quick, and with a little practice I soon had a stack of warm crepes that I filled with sauteed eggs and served with a guacamole-type mix and the freshly sliced champagne mangoes.

It was a good, good, good day.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup soy or unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp melted butter or olive oil

Directions

Whip eggs and milk of choice in blender until creamy and a bit fluffy (if you don’t have a blender you can use a standing or hand mixer, or just whip the heck out of them with a whisk).  Add the flours 1/3 a cup at a time, whipping thoroughly with each addition.  Add the melted butter or oil and salt and whip quickly to incorporate.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Hold skillet away from heat and let cool for 5 seconds, then pour enough batter in the center of the skillet, swirling quickly to cover the entire surface, until the bottom of the skillet is just covered with batter.  Return to heat and cook for 15-20 seconds or until the sides of the crepe start to curl.  Flip gently and cook on the other side another 20 seconds.  Remove to plate.  Repeat until you get a pretty stack of crepes!

Before I started cooking the crepes I had a second skillet going on low heat with melted butter, slowly stirred eggs, fresh cilantro, soft goat cheese and the skins of these tomatoes:

I then reserved the insides of them and mashed them with avocado, more cilantro, a squirt of fresh lemon juice (in the absence of lime) and some sea salt and pepper.  And then adorned the dish with the fresh champagne mangoes.  They’re a little tarter, firmer and less fibrous than regular mangoes.

While the tomatoes weren’t quite what I wanted (beautiful in color but still lacking that perfect summer tomato sweetness), it was a gorgeous dish, paired with orange juice and locally roasted coffee.  The perfect start to one of the best Sundays I’ve had in a long while.

 

Creamy egg-filled crepes with champagne mangoes, avocado and Mexican tomatoes

Gluten and Dairy-Free Irish Soda Bread

Back-story to this recipe: In a few weeks I’ll be hosting my annual St. Patrick’s Day party.  It started several years ago, when my boyfriend-at-the-time-now-best-friend moved in with me in Queens.  He’s from an Irish family (Ruark Michael Downey – you don’t get more Irish than that!) and I’d been to Ireland several times at that point.  What naturally followed was a succession of parties where we’d bring in a keg of Guinness, bottles of whiskey and Irish cream, and I’d make a full boiled dinner.  The second year I made lamb stew and corned beef and cabbage.  Subsequent years brought us to the point where we were making 9 corned beefs and I was whipping up car-bomb cupcakes by the several dozen.  We needed nothing more than good food, good booze and the company of our lovely friends.

This year I’m doing a bit of experimenting with gluten-and-dairy-free recipes to include with the traditional ones I’ll be presenting.  For this  I found the most traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe I could find, having discarded anything fancy and landing on one with thorough directions and a bit of history.

So, the Irish are famous for soda bread for two reasons: the abundance of soft wheat with a lower gluten content and the availability of fuel for home fires and therefore the ability to bake bread at whim.  Simple ingredients (flour, milk, salt and baking soda) create a quick bread that’s delicious with a bowl of thick stew or layered around cold meat.  Since you don’t want the gluten to develop (as you would with a harder wheat and yeast combo), this makes this bread perfect for a gluten-free version.  I tried to approximate the taste of flour I remember from my glutenous soda-bread days, so threw in some oat and quinoa flour with the bulky rice flour and starches.  And I soured unsweetened almond milk, hoping that the vinegar would produce the proper chemical reaction with the baking soda.

The result?  This bread is delicious!  Deceptively sweet, especially as it contains NO SUGAR.  And popping warm, it’s perfect with a touch of Irish butter.  I gave some to my friend Lynn and her boyfriend Griff, who’s from Ireland.  His response: “this is a very close approximation of the bread of my people”.  They gobbled them up.

For this go around I made 8 mini loafs from the recipe to cut down the baking time dramatically.  For St. Pat’s I’ll be making two full loaves along with a wheat-flour version.  I have a feeling the recipe is equally successful either way.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free whole-grain oat flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour / starch
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (optional – I did not use)
  • 8-10 oz buttermilk or soured milk of choice at room temperature (directions below)
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 45o degrees.  It should be fully preheated and nice and hot before you put the bread in.
  • Lightly flour a heavy baking sheet with gluten-free flour.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, sugar and baking soda.  Gather and sift again, so that the baking soda is fully dispersed.  Make a well in the center.
  • If using regular milk or milk alternative: measure one Tbsp white or red wine vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup.  Add enough milk to make 10 oz.  Use a fork to mix thoroughly.
  • Slowly pour about 8 oz of the milk into the well of flour, and quickly start blending with fork until it starts to pull together.  The mixture should be rather lumpy and on the drier side, but pulled together.  Add currants and fold in gently.  If too dry, add remaining milk until mixture pulls together.
  • Turn onto a slightly floured board and knead just until the dough is one, about 15 seconds / 6 kneads.  Don’t over knead.
  • Break dough into 8 balls, and press into slightly flat disks.  Using a sharp knife, cut a cross in each loaf about 1/3 into the dough.
  • Place in hot oven and bake 13 minutes, or until the tops are slightly brown.  If you tap on the bottom of  a loaf, it should sound hollow.  The dough in the center should be slightly soft though.
  • Cool before eating or enjoy warm with melted butter.

One-loaf Option: Shape into one loaf, slice the cross in, and bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then decrease heat to 400 degrees and bake for 25 minutes longer or until crisp on top and sounding hollow with a tap on the bottom.

Note: This recipe is dedicated to my lovely roommate, Erika.  She’s been working so much lately that she hasn’t been able to (in her opinion) contribute to the upkeep of our generally clean apartment.  So she paid someone to come in and wash and scrub everything, and we lounged in our immaculate living room, catching up.  And less than an hour later, I was in the kitchen… and it got a bit dusty.

Last Gluten-Free Noodle Standing!

A while back New York Magazine did an article called “Last Noodle Standing“, where three chefs and one really Italian guy compared the city’s best dried pasta and voted on their favorites.  Not being able to indulge in what they said were some stellar noodles, I devised my own challenge: “Last Gluten-Free Noodle Standing”!

I hosted a few friends over to taste-test five pastas that contained no gluten whatsoever.  We followed the same protocol as the NYMag article: each pasta was boiled in salted water according to package directions and then tasted on its own with nothing on it, and then again with some sort of sauce.  Whereas the NYMag guys just used oils and cheese as their sauce, we kicked it up a notch and had some heartier coverings.  We rated each category – flavor, texture and sauce absorption – on a 30 point scale, for a total of 90 points.

To up the fun, my guests were not given the types of grains the pastas were made out of, and only after we totaled everything up did they discover the source of what they liked and didn’t like.  And unlike NYMag we’re admittedly not the city’s top pasta chefs.  But along with yours truly – the can’t-eat-much-normal-food gal – my judges are peeps who know how to eat on a budget, and quality pastas are at the top of anyone’s recession-spending list.

Note: gluten-free pastas tend to overcook easily, becoming very mushy, so I tended to cook all on the lower end of the time-range, checking often.

The Pastas

The Winner: 76.25 pointsTNK912L
Tinkyada Pasta Joy
Brown Rice Spirals
$3.79/16oz
tinkyada.com

Sauce: Variety of olive oils, salt and pepper, fresh Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Boasts that it can stand “over-cooking”.  All-rice company in many varieties of pastas.  Cooks in 15 minutes.  210 calories and 4 grams of protein per serving.

This pasta won in both the FLAVOR and TEXTURE departments.  Made only of brown rice, it was “just what (one) would expect from a well-seasoned pasta” and tasted close to its wheat-counterpart.  Two of us considered it a lovely al-dente, while the other two thought it was slightly softer than a wheat al-dente but not at all grainy, as expected, or unpleasant.  It absorbed the flavors of the sauces rather well.  One of us wondered how it would do with a cream sauce.

fusilli

Second Place: 73.5 points
Andean Dream Quinoa/Rice Fusilli
$3.50/8oz at Whole Foods
andeandream.com

Sauce: Bergamot olive oil from O&Co and Hazelnut olive oil from La Tourangelle.

Uses organic quinoa grown in the Bolivian Andes, and organic brown.  The quinoa is fairly traded and employs 280 families in the Andean Valley.  Cooks in 13-15 minutes.  207 calories and 6 grams of protein per serving.

This was a pasta I had never tried before and was very pleased with.  It was a little bland on its own, but the closest to how a wheat-pasta would taste on its own.  The noodles didn’t clump after cooking, and 3 out of 4 judges thought it had a consistent al-dente texture (though some noodles fell apart – we’re not sure if this was pre- or post-cooking though). "The pasta created a nice blank canvas for the flavors" and "let the flavors shine".  We first used Bergamot oil with salt, pepper and sometimes cheese, and were floored by how well it took in the flavor.  Then the hazelnut oil brought it to another dimension.  This pasta REALLY takes on flavor well, winning in the SAUCE category.

Glutino Spagetti

Third Place: 65.75 points
Glutino Brown Rice Spaghetti
$3.00/10oz at Whole Foods
glutino.com

Sauce: Broccoli Rab cooked with olive oil and lots of garlic.

Company focused on bringing tasty alternatives specifically to those with gluten intolerance.  Cooks in 7-10 minutes.  200 calories and 5 grams of protein per serving.

Alone, we thought this pasta was a bit grainy and bland, though not bad, with a slightly sweet or citrusy aftertaste.  It clumped a LOT from cooking.  3 of us thought it was grainy, being too soft on the outside and harder on the inside, but the 4th thought it was a perfect spaghetti al-dente.  It didn’t capture the delicate flavors of the oils and vegetables at all and needed a lot of moisture.  It would probably do better with being put directly into a tomato-based sauce right after cooking.

Ancient Harvest Rotellea

Fourth Place: 52.75 points
Ancient Harvest Quinoa/Corn Rotelle
$2.69/8oz at my local store
quinoa.net

Sauce: Beef meat and green pepper sauce for the men and fresh tomato and red pepper sauce for the ladies.

First company to bring quinoa to the U.S.  Fairly traded and from sustainable sources. Cooks in 6-9 minutes.  205 calories and 4 grams of protein per serving.

This pasta had a nice flavor on its own, thanks to the corn/quinoa combination.  But the corn made it distinctively grainy and inconsistent in cooking – some noodles were perfectly soft while others were hard inside.  This is the one pasta that was also cooked to its fullest cooking time, and I pointed out that normally when I use this pasta I have to intentionally over-cook it to negate the inconsistency, therefore making it normally on the mushier side.  Though some of us thought it stood up to the heavier sauces well, it didn’t take on the flavors of the sauces or let its own flavor come through, and the texture was a distraction.  While I’m not a fan of this pasta, I do give props to the company for producing phenomenal quinoa on its own – both varieties are delicious.De Boles

Fifth Place: 46.25 points
DeBoles Rice/Quinoa/Amaranth Penne
$2.99/8oz at my local store
deboles.com

Sauce: sauteed summer squash, onions and garlic in olive oil.

Multi-grain powerhouse combo of quinoa and amaranth. Cooks in 5-minutes.  200 calories and 5 grams of protein per serving.

I was most excited to try this brand and we were all extremely disappointed.  On its own it was “bland, but also tasted more like trees.  The type of taste people fear when they hear ‘healthy’”, and had a “crunchy, almost woodsy taste, but not in a bad way”.  The noodles so fell apart while cooking, it was hard to find whole pieces of penne.  They shredded on our forks, and it was impossible to pick up with any sauce or vegetables.  The only “saving grace” was adding the squash and sauce, when the pasta “got out of the way” and lost the “natural food aura”.

Punch Yo Mama Kentucky Apple Pie – Take One

“Bourbon Bacon Molasses Apple Pie”.

Until today, nothing would come up in a search engine with those five beautiful words strung together.

Now, this is not a healthy pie.  Nor a medicinal pie, except in that it may have magical qualities when trying to lure lovers or tame unruly children.  It blends those delirious tongue-teasers of savory and sweet, the unsuspected crunch of candied bacon embedded in folds of apples both sweet and tart.  A blend of spicy and soothing cinnamon and a dash of fresh nutmeg fuse them together and they sleep contented in a flaky, free-0f-the-demon-gluten crust.  This pie is work, but so worth it.

In making this recipe I combined techniques I’d learned from other kitchen explorations – par-baking apples, candying bacon, blending healthy flours for a gluten-free crust – and am very pleased with the first incarnation.  But this recipe still has further to go; it’s delicious on day one but the bacon sags into an unappetizing texture if you keep eating it on successive days (but if it’s more than you and a roommate trying to wipe it out of existence and you can eat it in one go, bake on).  The bourbon gives a delightfully oak-y slight to the senses, but hasn’t packed a wallop yet.

If you’re looking for a comforting, complex apple pie recipe with a twist, check this recipe out.  It’s fuller-bodied than your traditional American pie, and the flavors round themselves out very well.

This recipe requires three steps: 1. Candying bacon. 2. Preparing your apples. 3. Preparing and filling crust.  Refer to my BAKING BASICS posts for recipes on both filling and a variety of pie crusts.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons GOOD Kentucky bourbon (I used Blantons, one of my favorites)
  • 3 tablespoons organic blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar plus more as desired
  • six strips very thin bacon (from a butcher)
  • About 18 apples, prepared (CLICK HERE for page on apple pie filling)
  • Unbaked pie crust, enough for bottom and top.

Directions: Bourbon Blackstrap Bacon

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lay a baking rack over a cookie sheet with high rims and spray the rack with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Heat small saucepan over medium/low heat.  Once hot, pour in 2 tablespoons bourbon and heat until it just gets bubbly.
  • Add 2 tablespoons molasses and stir with spatula until the mixture starts to bubble and expand.
  • Add 1/2 cup light brown sugar, mixing in, and bring to heat until the mixture expands again.
  • Turn off heat and let cool slightly.
  • Prepare to get sticky: using your hands, rub each piece of bacon in the bourbon mixture until coated.  By the 3rd or 4th piece the sugar mixture will be cooling and drying out a bit – don’t worry! Just drudge it as much as you can to coat the bacon.
  • Coat entirely with extra brown sugar until completely covered.
  • Lay on sprayed rack and bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until bacon is crispy.  Set aside and cool completely.

Directions: Apple Filling. On EACH tray sprinkle:

  • For this recipe, I used 2 kinds of cinnamon, 1 very spicy and one mild and sweet. I love cinnamon, so I used 2 tsps. of each.  Vary this to your tastes.
  • Sprinkle on each trap 1/4 tsp of ground cloves and 1 tablespoon sugar, preferably something light like palm sugar over regular white sugar.
  • Toss the apples thoroughly.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the apples are slightly softened.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.

Directions:  Let’s Fill This Thing

  • Use a deep-dish 9″ pie plate (my favorite pie dish is my Emile Henry 9″. It’s wonderfully deep and the ceramic bakes to perfection) and fill it with your bottom crust.
  • Layer the apples in and pack them tightly – the apple should be piled into a very hefty dome.
  • In a small dish, combine remaining tablespoon bourbon and molasses, and drizzle completely over the top of the apples.
  • Place second crust on top, and pinch to close.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, covering the edges halfway through baking so they don’t burn.

This pie is best eaten the same day it’s made, but should be cooled completely before cutting if using a gluten-free crust (they crumble very easily).

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