Posts Tagged With: gluten free

Practicing

Now that November 11 (Happy Birthday, Gloria!) is past, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. The operative word there is “thinking”. I’m not big on decorating for the holidays, really. When we were growing up, the tree didn’t go up until just days before Christmas. When we had our children, the tree didn’t go up until school let out for the holidays and came down when they went back to school in January. It’s a day, not a season.

However, all that said, when it comes to Christmas baking, a little bit of time and preparation is required. This year, with the discovery that Kristen is gluten intolerant, it also means practice runs of promising recipes. That’s what this weekend has been about.

This is going to seem like a digression, but it really isn’t. When it comes to cookie baking, I’ve always wanted a cookie press. Each year, I check out Amazon.ca for their prices. I wander over to Michael’s to see what they have; and each year, I don’t buy one. My mother had an aluminum one years and years ago but it was never really used and I have no idea where it ended up. This year, I decided it was time to just get one. I went to my favourite kitchen store (Chef’s Edge in Kelowna, if you must know) and bought one. The price was reasonable, very much in line with buying it online, and taking into account the delivery costs. Plus, I didn’t have to wait for it to arrive.

With new toy, er… tool, in hand, I set about to finding some recipes to play with. I came across one that looked really good – Vanilla Cardamon Spritz. The recipe I used is from Serious Eats, one of my favourite food websites. The only thing I did differently was to use a 1:1 gluten free flour.

vanilla-cardamon-spritz_plain

The cookies are crisp, buttery, perfectly flavoured. The cardamon doesn’t overpower the vanilla but gives the cookies a depth of flavour that’s really nice. With a cup of tea or coffee, these are perfect.

I didn’t do much in the way of decoration, as you can see. I wanted to try out the recipe gluten free. However, I did play a little bit later.

vanilla-cardamon-spritz

A little melted dark chocolate, some sprinkles… it doesn’t take a lot to make these little cookies look festive and cheery.

Then, because I’m not super big on sweets, I decided to try my hand at some savoury biscuits. During my hunt for the spritz recipes, I came across a cheesy spritz recipe. It seems this recipe is all over the internet – how have I never come across it?

This time, I inadvertently used wheat flour, even though the gluten free flour was already on the counter beside the mixer. Doh!

cheesy

These call for a pound of aged, sharp cheddar so they’re not an inexpensive treat but, my oh my…. they are addictive! They go very well with a glass or two of white wine. VERY well. Don’t ask how many I ate, ok?

I did have a bit of an issue in getting these on to the cookie sheets – they wouldn’t stick very well, even after I washed, dried, and cooled the cookie sheets in the freezer. In the end, I rolled out the last bit of dough and cut cookies out with a small square cookie cutter, kind of like Cheez-Its.

I followed the recipe on the TGIF (This Grandma Is Fun) blog but I’ve noticed that the same recipe appears on numerous other blogs. Some bakers add a little dry mustard to their mix but I found that the addition of a little hot sauce (I used Franks’s) works well. Seriously, these are good!

If you do bake them, whether with wheat flour or gluten free (that will happen at some point), I’ll offer one tip: beat the heck out of the butter and cheese mixture. Seriously, you can’t underbeat it. The longer you beat that mix, the easier it will be to put it through your cookie press.

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Categories: Baking, Christmas, Just stuff, Kitchen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

Even though today is our Canadian Thanksgiving, we decided it would be nice to have a do-nothing kind of day before going back to work and school tomorrow so we had our dinner yesterday.

Normally, I wouldn’t post about what we ate for dinner but I’m really proud of the meal we had. I mean, the dinner itself wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We had a roasted chicken, slathered with Dijon mustard, liberally sprinkled with my seasoned salt for chicken, and stuffed with a blend of sweet onion, rosemary, sage, and thyme. We had a cheesy cauliflower casserole, boiled carrots, brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes with gravy. I didn’t buy enough brussels sprouts, apparently. We all love them and I think, had there been more, Ethan would happily have had a meal of nothing but chicken and brussels sprouts. For the kids, I picked up a bottle of Martinelli’s sparkly crisp apple juice (served in wine glasses). Everything was perfectly done. That, in itself, made me happy.

The best part of the meal, though, the part everyone was eagerly anticipating was dessert. You saw the Lemon Meringue Pie I posted yesterday. Well, after posting, I thought about the other half of the pie dough in the fridge and decided to run out to pick up a few things. Like Jonagold apples. And whipping cream. And brown sugar.

The first thing I made was a Salted Caramel sauce. Oh my, so good I could eat it by the spoonful. I didn’t. But I could.

Then, I made a gluten free Dutch Apple Pie.

gf-apple-pie

There are one or two things I would do differently next time but they’re minor. For instance, next time I would make more of the topping and use more butter in it. I’d sprinkle a bit of lemon juice over the apples just to brighten the flavour a little more. As I said, minor things.

I did do something a little different with this pie, other than making it gluten free. Instead of using cinnamon and nutmeg, I used Speculaas seasoning, a wonderful warm and aromatic blend of spices.

gf-desserts

It came out beautifully! The only critique I had was that the bottom crust didn’t bake properly (I should have baked it in the lower third of the oven, not the middle). No one else cared. We served it with freshly whipped sweetened cream, drizzled with salted caramel sauce.

I think Trinity had at least two pieces of the Lemon Meringue Pie (lemon is her favourite flavour!) and we all left the table feeling rather stuffed.

dessert

We had a wonderful dinner and we all shared some of the things we were thankful for… family, friends, a bountiful supply of food, a safe place to live…. from the big things to the little things.

I hope that you all have a very happy Thanksgiving. Remember, there’s always something to be happy for. We are, truly, blessed.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gluten Free Experimentation

Let’s get things out in the open right from the start… I am not gluten intolerant. So, why am I experimenting with gluten free baking? Well, I happen to have people in my family who ARE gluten intolerant. Because I do a fair bit of baking, I’ve been challenged by my daughter to change at least some of my recipes to gluten free. Ok, challenge accepted.

With Thanksgiving on Monday, I decided it was time to try making a gf dessert – Lemon Meringue Pie. This morning was spent looking up gluten free baking and recipes for pie pastry. I’ve got the filling down pat; I’m using a recipe I’ve been making since high school (a very long time ago!). The recipe I settled on was this one, from Gluten Free Girl.

I’m following the directions from a Serious Eats recipe, one that worked very well for me last week when I baked an apple pie. One thing I noticed right away is that the dough is much whiter than my regular pie dough. That may be the result of the flour blend I’m using, I suppose. This particular blend is a mixture of  white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, and guar gum. The directions say to substitute 1 cup of wheat flour for 1 cup gf flour mix so that’s what I went with. The slip of paper that came with the gf flour reads “This Gluten Free Flour blend is good for breads, cookies, cakes & most general gluten free baking”.

gf-pastry

Right now, my pie shell has been baking for about 10 minutes; I’ve just removed the parchment and baking beads and it’s back in the oven at a lower temperature to finish baking.

gf-pastry2

Ok, I let the bottom get a little dark. At least I know it’s baked through! In my reading, I read a few posts that said that an all butter crust doesn’t always hold its shape well. Many suggested freezing the pastry for about 15 minutes to half an hour before baking so I did. I must say it held its shape quite well. I’m pretty happy with it, all in all.

As I’m writing this post, I’m also baking this pie. This is real time blogging! At this very moment, the pie is back in the oven. The lemon filling is in, the meringue on top and it’s baking for a few more minutes, until the meringue is lightly browned, just the way we like it.

gf-lemon-meringue-pie

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you… .yet… how it turned out. I’m really happy with the appearance. There were some bits of pastry stuck to the parchment and they were pretty flaky and tender but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. It needs to cool; it needs to set. Thanksgiving dinner must be eaten. Only then will dessert be presented.

If we can wait that long. I’ll let you know.

Categories: Baking, No Knitting | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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