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Gluten Free Cornbread-Sausage Dressing

18 Nov

It’s traditional in the American south to make dressing with cornbread. This recipe has been a hit with my family and extended family from all over North America.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe gluten free cornbread
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage (check ingredients — this often contains hidden gluten)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Black Pepper
  • About 2 cups gluten free chicken broth

Directions

  1. Crumble the cornbread in a very large mixing bowl. The largest pieces should be under 1” in diameter.
  2. Brown the sausage. Remove from pan and set aside on a paper-towel lined dish.
  3. In the same pan, sautee the onion and celery. Add sausage and herbs. Season to taste.
  4. Toss sausage mixture into the cornbread crumbs.
  5. Stir in enough chicken broth so that the mixture is moist throughout, but not soggy.
  6. Lightly spoon dressing into a greased 9×13 baking dish. (This is where I usually stop and refrigerate it overnight, to make the next day easy, but that isn’t necessary.)
  7. Bake uncovered at 350 for about 30 minutes or until heated through and golden-brown on top.
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Baking Without Flour

15 Feb

I ran across this article on NPR this morning. It has several recipes that sound quite good, for baking without flour or gluten-free flour mixes. Omitting flours altogether certainly makes gluten free baking easier! Recipes with the article include:

  • Almond Butter Cookies
  • Lemon Cornmeal Cake
  • Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake
  • Salted Caramel Pots De Creme
  • Pear-Apple Crisp

They all sound really good, but I must admit, I think my own gluten free apple crisp is better. I’ve tried that one without flour, and it just doesn’t have the same crunch.

Adapting Baking Recipes to be Gluten Free

13 Dec

Can’t find a suitable gluten-free recipe for your favorite cookies or baked goods? I couldn’t either. I’ve used this method for adapting/creating recipes quite a few times, and the results are almost always “acceptable” (not bad for a first try!) and usually very good to excellent.

Note: Yeast breads are a whole different story, and this method won’t work for them.

Step 1: Choose a similar gluten-free recipe to compare to, one from a trusted source, or one you’ve had success with before. The recipe should be for a similar type of baked good (rolled cookie, drop cookie, quick bread, etc).

Step 2: Look at the main ingredients in the gluten free recipe. What’s the ratio of flour to butter to liquid/eggs? Also make a note of what “extra” ingredients were used for binding (xanthan gum, egg replacer, gelatin, etc) and in what quantities relative to the amount of flour.

Step 3: Compare the main ingredients in the gluten-free recipe to the ingredients in your gluten-y favorite recipe. Do they have similar amounts of flour? Does it look like you could add an extra egg?

Step 4: Write your new recipe, blending the two recipes. Increase or decrease the amount of flour you use based on the differences you see. Add binders to your flour in a similar ratio to what’s used in the gluten free recipe. Add more protein to your recipe where you can to make up for the loss of protein in your flours (replace water with milk, add an extra egg white, etc).

Step 5: When you’re mixing it up, use your experience and intuition. Does it look too runny? Too dry? Adjust accordingly. Write it down.

Step 6: Enjoy, take notes, and be realistic in your expectations. Not every “first try” will be perfect. Make notes on things you might change for next time (no, you won’t remember). Soon, you’ll have an amazing new gluten-free recipe!

Gluten Free Living Tips

23 Oct

I’ve been thinking about this, hearing about a few friends-of-friends who have just been diagnosed with Celiac or discovered they have a gluten intolerance. What do I wish I’d known, when I started all this?

Gluten Free cooking isn’t hard, it’s just different. Don’t get me wrong, transitioning to gluten free cooking from cooking with wheat, or not cooking at all, is hard. But once you learn how to use a new set of ingredients, it’s not really any harder to cook gluten free than to cook “regular.” Be daring. Be willing to make mistakes. Challenge yourself to make the foods you want, gluten-free, and as good as or better than the original. Begin to stock your cabinet with different kinds of flour, and learn how to use them. If you’re into baking (or just crave bread and cookies), two good cookbooks to learn from are The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman (mostly breads), and Gluten Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly (mostly quick breads and desserts). They’re not designed for beginners, but you’ll learn a lot by reading through them and making even a few recipes.

You don’t have to sacrifice good nutrition. It’s tempting to just shop the convenience foods in the gluten free section of the health food store. But most of them aren’t very healthy. Gluten free flours mostly have less protein than wheat flour, and they’re not usually fortified with vitamins. Look for ingredient lists that have high-nutrition flours listed first — buckwheat, sorghum, bean flours, and brown rice flour are a few that are much better for you than white rice flour, tapioca flour, and cornstarch.

You can find a few good restaurants. You’re certainly taking chances ordering anything from a fast food restaurant. Plan to eat out less often, but at better restaurants. There’s a nice one in our town that serves high quality food for reasonable (not cheap though!) prices, and they’re very accommodating to people with gluten sensitivities. Don’t be afraid to tell your server about your needs. Good restaurants will do their best to accommodate you, and let you know when they can’t. There’s no doubt that for me, eating out has been the thing that’s changed the most since I quit gluten.

There are good gluten free convenience items. Don’t settle for things that aren’t nutritious and delicious. Find good food. For me, that means pasta (Tinkyada Pasta Joy), bread (Canyon Bakehouse — unfortunately not available in Canada), and graham cracker crumbs.

You can still use most of your old recipes. Keep an easy to use flour mix around that you can substitute 1 for 1 in most recipes. For me, that’s 1 bag of Bob’s Red Mill GF pizza crust mix + 1 bag Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flour. It works pretty well for everything I’ve tried it for except yeast breads. I sometimes add an extra egg for binding and fluffiness, and a little extra baking powder because GF flours don’t rise as well.

It doesn’t happen all at once, but this type of diet doesn’t have to be as restrictive as it seems at first. Especially as gluten sensitivities are becoming more prevalent, more and better options are becoming available all the time.

My New Favorite Gluten-Free Flour Mix

17 Oct

When you can’t find the flours you’re used to, gluten-free baking becomes much more difficult! Even changes in brand can change the results of a recipe.

Moving from an area with a very good selection of gluten-free flours to an area with a very limited selection, I’ve had some pretty disastrous baking results as I tried to make-do with what I had.

I refuse to make empty-calorie baked goods, so the mixes that are all starch and white rice flour were out. I don’t like the flavor of bean flours (except in a very few recipes), so that was out.

Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free pizza crust mix met my nutritional and flavor criteria, so I tried it…

As an ingredient in pie crust.

As an ingredient in pancakes.

As an ingredient in pizza crust (go figure).

As an ingredient in biscuits.

And coming up, as an ingredient in cake!

It’s got a lot of xanthan gum already in it, so for tender foods like pie crust and pancakes, you’ll want to use part mix and part rice flour (brown rice flour for better nutrition).

If you live in a small town, try this. Buy the pizza crust mix, brown rice flour, and white rice flour (and almond flour, if you’re watching your carbs). You’ll be able to make pretty much anything you want.

(Bob’s Red Mill hasn’t endorsed or sponsored me, but I may approach them in the near future to see if they’ll send me a couple of cases for recipe development. It sure gets expensive!)

What happens when you cook with corn starch?

9 Sep

I finally found potato starch in this town, but I thought I’d share the results of my experiments using corn starch instead.

I found that corn starch absorbs a LOT more water than potato starch. A whole lot more! Like twice as much, at least! This may be useful for adding moisture to products, but if you don’t make major changes to the recipe, you’ll end up with BRICKS. Heavy, hard, not-very-appetizing bricks!

The other thing about corn starch is that it doesn’t brown well. The bread I made, that contained only a very small amount of it, was pale and hard on top, and did not brown even when toasted. This might be corrected by adding more sugar, but that would throw everything else off.

Bottom line: if you’re going to use corn starch for baking, expect a lot of trial and error before you get a good result. My advice is to keep corn starch for thickening sauces, and not use it for other stuff.

Easy Gluten-Free Breakfast Hot Cereal Alternative

30 Aug

My usual breakfast is berries and cream. But this morning, we had no berries! What to do?!

It’s still a little warm for this kind of breakfast, but I’ll really enjoy it when the weather cools a little. The wild rice and dried fruit go together beautifully.

Wild Rice & Fruit

per very hungry adult-sized serving:

  • 1/2 c. Texmati rice (This is a semi-instant brown and wild rice blend. You could use instant brown rice instead, if you really have to.)
  • 1/2 c. dried fruit bits
  • 1 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 tsp (large pinch) salt
  • 1 tsp brown or raw sugar
  • Generous sprinkle of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over med-high until water starts to simmer, then reduce heat to low, give it a stir, and cover. Let it cook about 15 minutes, or until rice is done.

Very dry fruit, rice, or sloppy measuring may mean you need a bit more water. If the water is all absorbed, but the rice isn’t cooked, just add some more water, stir it in, and cook it a little longer.

This is really good topped with a bit of cream.