Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gluten Free White Chocolate/Raspberry Ganache Filled Cupcakes

I love filled cupcakes. I don't have any childhood nostalgia about Hostess cupcakes, so I think it's purely a foodie kind of thing. Fillings taste good, and they can instantly improve a somewhat-too-dry cake. This recipe is a bit time consuming, but it's easy, and the results are impressive.

Ingredients (makes about 16-18 cupcakes)
1 box Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 bag frozen raspberries (I like Wymans--they separate easily and don't have extra sugar)
1 bag white chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
1 bag dark chocolate chips
1 can gluten free vanilla frosting (or make your own buttercream frosting)


In a small pot, defrost the frozen raspberries with a little water, until the consistency looks mushy. Run the mush through a sieve over a bowl to separate the seeds. You should now have a bowl full of bright red raspberry puree. Set this aside.

Prepare the cupcakes per the instructions on the box. Add a few tbspsful of the puree and swirl. Make sure you swirl very gently, otherwise the entire batter will look purple. Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tins and bake as directed.

White Chocolate/Raspberry Ganache

In a small pot (you can use the same pot you defrosted the raspberries in; just wash it out), heat the white chocolate with 2 tbsp of butter until melted and a little shiny. Add about half the raspberry puree and stir until blended. It should look a little purplish. Pour the ganache into a bowl and put in the freezer until it is mostly cooled. It should have the consistency of a slightly runny frosting.

Filling the Cooled Cupcakes (cone method)
Take a sharp knife (a paring knife works best), and stick it into a cupcake at roughly a 45 degree angle halfway between the center of the cupcake and the edge. cut a circle. A little cone of cake should pop out. In the hole you have just created, fill with the ganache. cut (or pinch off) the pointy part of the cone, and put the little cake circle over the ganache, plugging up the hole.

Mix together buttercream frosting with the remaining raspberry puree

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gluten Free Banana-Cinnamon Bread

When it comes to gluten-free baking, I usually buy a mix and then mess with it, adding ingredients, changing the proportions of ingredients, etc. Figuring out the different types of flours, and in what proportions, is a pain in the butt.

However, this time I decided to throw all caution to the wind and bake something totally from scratch. Largely, this was due to the fact I was cleaning my kitchen and had a bunch of stuff I needed to either use up or throw out; namely, bananas, eggs, cinnamon chips and half a box of rice flour.

So, here's the deal with rice flour: it's tasty and bakes well, but it's chewy. If you've ever had a Japanese Mochi, you'll get the idea. That's why rice flour is usually blended with something else in a mix--typically garbanzo bean, tapioca, corn, or soy flour.

But rice flour was all I had on hand. So, if you like chewy breads, this recipe is for you! Otherwise, you might want to blend the rice flour with something else. It tastes great, though!

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

1 1/3 cup rice flour
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 bag cinnamon chips
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup milk (or soymilk)
4 tbsp melted butter

Mix everything together, and pour into a loaf pan. Bake at 375 for 40 min or until a knife comes out clean.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gluten Free Chicken Provencale with Macadamia Nuts

I used to avoid anything with "Provencale" in the title, because I automatically assumed it meant it included olives, capers or mustard, which I can't stand. However, a recent trip to France proved that wasn't the case. Provence is known for many things; lavender fields, olive oil and psychotically aggressive drivers in teeny, tiny cars to name a few. But, what really makes Provencal food is the emphasis on locally grown vegetables, simple herbs, and wine. No olives required.
There's no nostalgia related to the macadamia nuts in this recipe--I just like them, and they add a nice crunch.

Ingredients: (serves 2-3)
1 package chicken tenderloins
1/2 large sweet onion
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp freeze dried shallots (or whatever the fresh equivalent is)
3-6 cremini mushrooms, sliced (white button and portobello can also be used)
3 tsp olive oil
1 tsp herbs de provence
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
2 cups white wine (I prefer chardonnay, but pinot and riesling work well too)
1/2 cup chicken broth (I use Progresso in a box-it's gluten free)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts

In a large saute pan, heat the oil on medium-high until it shimmers. Add the chicken and brown on each side, 4-5 minutes. Add the shallots and onion. Cook until the onion becomes translucent, then add the wine. Add the mushrooms, tomato and herbs de provence. Cook for another minute or two and stir. Add the chicken broth and macadamia nuts. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice.

Gluten Free Frozen Pizza Smackdown!

One of my first reactions upon being diagnosed with celiac was a slight freakout (Note: definition of "slight" may vary, depending on who you ask. Considering that, in my mind, I had just been told that I would never be able to eat anything that tasted good ever again, I would think crying out loud and preparing to make a bonfire of all of my previous wheat-containing cookbooks might qualify as slight, but then again, to each his own). Pizza had long been one of my favorite foods, and having grown up in New Jersey, I had access to really, really good pizza--using the kind of recipes that tiny octogenarian Italian ladies wrote into their will for the grandchildren, and would come chasing after you with a marble rolling pin if you ever tried to take. The thought of being deprived of it forever was too much to bear. So, one of my first forays into the gluten free world was to try every kind of gluten free pizza I could find. I knew nothing would ever come close to Starlight Pizza in West Orange, but if there was something even remotely passable, I could perhaps survive this celiac thing after all. Here are the brands I tried, and my reactions to them:

Amy's Natural Rice Crust Pizza:
This gluten free pizza was loathe at first sight. The cheese on top looked like melted plastic, and the bottom stuck to my pan. The texture was both chewy and grainy. To put it mildly, it was very disappointing, which surprised me considering how many other products by Amy's I really, really like. Their Indian and Mexican meals are top-notch, and the soups are delicious. But the pizza was a major letdown. Stars: *

Glutino Pizza Crusts:
These gluten free frozen pizza crusts allow you to choose your own toppings, which is a nice bonus if you like to get creative. They are personal size, so there is no need to really cut slices.
I found the texture to be either soft or crunchy, depending on how long they were baked. Often, I found that the outside was crispy, but the inside was underdone. The flavor was pretty good for gluten-free. My only real complaint was that the toppings had a tendency to slide off.
Stars: ** 1/2

Glutino Spinach and Feta, Four Cheese Pizzas:
Now this was good! Nice and crunchy texture, and plenty of spinach in the spinach version. It would never be a substitute for traditional Jersey pizza, but as far as frozen pizzas went, it was definitely a competitor to the gluten-containing counterparts. Stars: ***

Kinnikinnick Pizza:
I haven't been able to find this in stores to bring home and try on my own, but I had a sample at the New England Natural Products Expo, and it was quite good. Stars: ***

Better Bread Company Vegetable Pizza:
Wow. This was not even good for gluten free--this was just GOOD. It is a full-size pizza, rather than personal size, which brought me closer to the "real" pizza experience. The veggies were great, and just the right amount of sauce was used. The texture is crispy. Defnitely more expensive than the previously mentioned brands, but man, was it good. Even my husband would eat it without complaining, and for any of you who know him, that is saying quite a lot. Stars: ****

Brands I haven't tried yet, but would like to:
Foods by George

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hanukkah! Gluten Free Latke Recipe

In honor of Hanukkah (and the fact that I did an hour-long nia workout and therefore absolutely need to make back the calories I've burned off), tonight I made gluten free latkes!

Latkes (serves 6-8 or 4 gluttons)

3 russet potatoes
1 sweet onion
3 eggs (you can use egg whites, but really, c'mon, you're already about to eat a potato latke soaked in oil, so what's a little extra caloric intake from the yolk going to do?)
1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (I use Dr. Schar brand--so far it's the best of the ones I've tried)
oil (I use olive, but it doesn't really matter)

Grate the potatoes and onion. I use a food processor, because I'm lazy, but if you really want to be an authentic "balabuste", then grate everything by hand. This way, you can gain looks of sympathy from your family as you sigh loudly, "Oy, the grating! It is so exhausting and my hands are so dry! Oh no, don't get up on my account. You know I suffer like this because I love you."

Take the grated potatoes and onion and squeeze out all the water. It's probably better to do this over a garbage can if you don't have a garbage disposal, because inevitably you'll get potato shreds everywhere.

In a bowl with the now-dried potato and onion mixture, add the eggs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and mix until thoroughly blended. You can use a fork for the mixing if the idea of sticking your hands into an eggy-crumby-potato-y mess grosses you out.

Fill a frying pan with the oil, about an inch or so high. Heat the oil on medium high. When the oil is nice and hot, form handfuls of the latkes, and drop them one at a time into the frying pan. Press down on them a little with a spatula to flatten them. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown. Then, turn them over and cook the other side (probably 2-3 minutes). Place the cooked latkes on a plate lined with paper towels.


Then, get someone else to do the cleanup. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Welcome, and GF Apple Cranberry Cake Recipe

Hi all you gluten-free people out there!

Considering that I have been posting my GF recipes to Facebook for a while, I figured now would be as good a time as any to actually put all of this stuff together. If you've been going after packaged GF food as I have, you've probably realized that gluten free food has a taste spectrum. On one end, there is the stuff that you think, "Oh my gosh, this is is so good...this is actually gluten free?" On the other is, "Oh my gosh, this is actually edible?" Unfortunately, a lot of pre-packaged GF food tends to trend toward the latter, and it's really a trial-and-error to figure out what the tasty stuff is. For the most part, I pick known brands (primarily Glutino, Kinnikinnick, Gluten Free Pantry, and now Betty Crocker's Gluten Free mixes), and then "doctor them up" to make them into something more like I would have made before becoming, as my husband so lovingly describes, a glutard. I also realize that a lot of packaged GF foods have a lot of stabilizers, fillers and other necessary but not exactly natural ingredients; so to that end, I also try to modify recipes to make them as healthy as possible.

So, with that out of the way, here is the Apple Cranberry Cake I made today. All measurements are approximate, since I mostly just eyeball ingredients.

1 box of Betty Crocker Gluten Free yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 egg white
2-3 apples, chopped (I prefer a mix of granny smith and mcintosh, but it's your cake, do whatever you like)
1 cup of cranberries (I use fresh, but dried should work equally well)
1/2 cup of milk, vanilla soy milk, or yogurt

The following spices are to taste; if I had to guess, I'd say I use about 1tsp of each, except for the cinnamon, which is more like a tbsp.
vanilla extract

Mix everything in a bowl and bake according to the box directions. Cake is done when a knife (or other sharp projectile) comes out clean. This may be up to 15 minutes after what the box directions indicate, because of the added bulk caused by the fruit.

Here's what it looks like when it's done: