Monday, January 24, 2011

Buckwheat Buns

Dona and Samantha have different eating issues, and this means that I end up doing a fair amount of specialized cooking. Samantha isn't supposed to have most grains, while Dona can. Even when I double the batches, I still usually end up baking about once every two weeks or so. I enjoy it, and the recipes are easy and fast, so making these is almost fun! I have adapted this recipe from ""Wheat" and it seems to be pretty good. The recipe is metric, so I just use our kitchen scale. I've tried to convert it in the recipe here.

Buckwheat Rolls

  • 1/2 cup Garbanzo Bean flour
  • 3/4 cup Tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup Buckwheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Potato Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Mix the dry ingredients together and whisk to make sure you break up the lumps. As I've noted before, tapioca flour, as well as the baking powder, can stay lumpy. As you can see in the picture at the top, I forgot to do this. Again. Add the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. The dough will be wet and fairly sticky. If you have them, you probably could use English Muffin rings, but I just use tuna cans. Make sure you coat the cans or rings with nonstick spray or grease them in some way. Spoon about 1/3-1/2 cup of mixture into a can or ring. Since I have the kitchen scale out, I just use it and make them between 2 and 2.5 ounces. They are not super pretty, but they will taste good when we're done. 

If the dough wasn't so sticky, I would try to smooth them out. You might be able to use a scoop of some kind to make them smooth on top. If you scoop them out of the dough, that sometimes works, but, thankfully, Samantha doesn't seem to mind if they are smooth on top or not. Bake them for 30 minutes at 350 degrees in a preheated oven. If you are a person who checks the original recipes that I use, some of them will say to bake them at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. I rarely have luck with this, for some reason. Perhaps my stove sucks, but I have better luck baking at 350 for a little longer period of time. Also, Buckwheat is a pretty wet flour, so you need to make sure it's cooked all the way through. Once the buns are done, they usually roll right out of the tuna cans for me. Occasionally one will stick in a spot, but if you scrape along the edge with a table knife, it should come right out.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Someone brought a three-pound bag of pretzels to church Sunday as part of the fellowship snack, and that got Samantha and I talking about making some. None of us can have pretzels. Sam and Dona are supposed to stay away from refined grains, and I can't have wheat, so pretzels are complete no-nos. Sam told me she really liked the soft pretzels with cheese sauce. I told her that we would find a recipe and make some soft pretzels that afternoon or evening. Well, I looked and found some good recipes, or at least some that looked promising. I decided to compare them to Alton Brown's recipe on Food Network, since I like him and he seems to know what he's doing. I found a recipe and, with some minor changes, we made it work.

Soft Pretzels
  •  Four teaspoons yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • Drop of Agave Nectar
  • Dash of Salt
Mix these together and let rest while you work on mixing the dry ingredients.
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 4 teaspoons xanthan gum
Mix dry ingredients together with a whisk. Garbanzo bean, tapioca flour, and potato starch all are lumpy, and I use a whisk to get the lumps out. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix with a spoon or by hand until the dough is well-combined. This dough, like the French Bread Rolls wasn't too sticky to handle. I was able to roll them out on the table into ropes about a foot long.* If you are feeling fancy you can make them into the classic pretzel shape. I was able to get them to stick together fairly well, but from the picture at the top you can tell not all of them stayed. Use a bit of water to get the ends to stay.

This dough gets dry fairly quickly, though, so have a bowl of water handy and VERY LIGHTLY moisten opposite sides of your rope. I dipped my finger in the water and ran it down the length of the rope. Tapioca flour and potato starch are very gooey if you get them too wet. Xanthan gum is just plain slimy when wet. If you get too much water, you could try drying your hands or roll it on the table a bit, and the water will work into the dough. You might have to mash your rope down and try again, though, if it's too sticky.

Lay them out on a cookie sheet covered with a layer of parchment paper. Put your pretzels in a warm place and let them rise for a half hour to an hour.
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
Pour the baking soda into the water and bring to a rolling boil. Boil each pretzel for 30 seconds to a minute, and try to turn them over so both sides get boiled. Put them back on the parchment-covered cookie sheet and brush with an egg wash (1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of water). Sprinkle with salt or garlic salt and bake at 450 degrees for 14 minutes. They turned out quite good.

*The original recipe calls for you to allow the dough to rise before beating it down and making the pretzels. I'm sure there might be a good reason for it, but I rarely let my non-wheat flour baking rise more than once. I have a hard enough time getting it to rise the one time, let alone trying to get it to rise a second time. I read a recipe from someone somewhere that I trusted but now can't remember, who talked about only having gluten-free bread raise once. It works for me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

French Bread Rolls

So our every-other-month meeting of our local gluten intolerance support group is tomorrow night, and I need to come up with something to take with me. I don't really HAVE to, but I feel like since I'm an old hand at this (I was diagnosed in 1970, been cooking for myself since 1992) I should set an example if there are new members that come. Our meetings usually are fun and we eat. One thing that makes the meetings fun is that you don't have to worry about whether or not you can eat something. Unless someone made a mistake (and they rarely do) it's all gluten free! We are affiliated with CSA/USA, one of the national support groups in the United States.

This month, the meeting is in Cody. So I need to take something that doesn't have to stay hot.  In March, when the meeting is in Powell, I can cook something and take it right to the meeting so it will be hot. So, since I had some time today after we took down the Christmas decorations, I thought I would make these French Bread Rolls. They are pretty good and have a full flavor. I made some adjustments to the recipe, though, as you will see below.

French Bread Rolls
  • 1/4 cup soy flour
  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 cup warm water
Combine the dry ingredients and whisk to mix. Add the olive oil, egg whites, vinegar, and most of the water (I held back about 2 tablespoons, as Linda does in the original recipe). Mix until all is incorporated. You might add the rest of the water if the dough is dry. I left the water out this time and it wasn't so sticky, as is usually the case with gluten-free breads. I was able to handle the dough by hand and make it into 2.5 ounce rolls. I allowed them to raise an hour or more, but they never grew much. I think next time instead of integrating the yeast in with the dry ingredients, I'll start it separately with the water and sugar. I baked them at 350 for 25 minutes and, as you can see, they came out slightly brown. 
French Bread Rolls, with my bread failure.

One thing about this recipe and all the recipes I've looked at of the "Gluten-free Homemaker." She uses a lot of different flours. As the name of this blog suggests, I have had to so some creative substitutions to make them work. I cannot get sorghum flour where I am here in Wyoming. Usually, I use some combination of garbanzo bean or quinoa as a substitute for it. This time I happened to have some that my mom gave me, so I used it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Squash Soup

Last fall (I think in November) I tried a recipe out of the Food Network Magazine for squash soup that you serve in miniature pumpkins. It was really good. Nice flavor, good consistency, everything. Of course, one of the toppings suggested with the recipe is bacon, and what doesn't taste good with bacon, right? Anyway, I had bought a buttercup squash at the grocery store because we all liked the soup. so I peeled and cut up the squash into one-inch squares.

Then I followed the recipe (for the squash soup).
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 medium butternut or kuri squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Meanwhile, make the soup: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Strip the thyme leaves into the pot, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and sugar and cook, stirring, until glazed, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the squash is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender, crack the lid to let steam escape and puree until smooth; return to the saucepan (or puree directly in the pan with an immersion blender). Stir in the heavy cream, if desired. Season with salt and pepper, and top as desired (mostly we just use small pieces of crispy bacon. .

If you read the original recipe, you now pour the soup into miniature pumpkins and serve.

Apparently there is some pumpkin juice or flavor that you get from using the pumpkins as bowls, because when I made it this time, it didn't taste as good. AAAAARGH! Who knew how important this was!? Not me, obviously. Next time I make it, I'm going to add a cup of pumpkin to the soup, unless I have some miniature pumpkins hanging around.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pizza! Sauce

I'm sorry for being so slow with this post. Last weekend we hosted a high school speech and debate tournament. There were around 350 students, coaches, and judges who attended, so I was a little busy. There are four coaches here at NWC, and we all were busy and worked hard. After 14-hour days Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I was ready to watch TV yesterday. Most of the time, though, I'll try to post at least a couple of times a week. 

As you may or may not remember, last Monday we had pizza for supper/dinner, and I promised I would let you in on the secret of my sauce.  Actually it's really easy and quick to make, if you have the herbs and spices.

Pizza Sauce
  • One can of tomato sauce
  • 1/4-1/3 cup ketchup 
  • 1 small can tomato paste (the really small ones. they are like 4 or 7 ounces.)
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic grains
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon marjoram leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
Stir this together and spread about a 1/3 to a 1/2 cup on a pizza crust. I use the back of a spoon to spread it around. It should look something like this. I had enough sauce for four pizzas.

It might not be New York or Chicago, but it will work for Wyoming!

All my herbs and spices are dry. I have never used fresh herbs or spices. I don't have anything against them, I just have never had access to fresh herbs and spices. I know most chefs will tell you the fresh ones are better (that's what they say on Food Network, anyway). I do try to buy my herbs and spices at a health food store, though. I think they are less expensive and, hopefully, more fresh and if higher quality. If they are going to sit in a jar for a long time, I'd rather it was in my kitchen than in the store.

I play a little fast and loose with the measurements, which is why I'm a little vague in the recipe above. (The ketchup is about a one-second squirt). I do think I have them fairly close, though. I usually use a non-measuring tablespoon to "measure" the spices. I learned this pizza sauce recipe from my mom, who does a lot of cooking by the "dump until it looks right" method. After 60 years of cooking, I suppose she has a feel for it. Despite what Dona and Samantha claim, (It tastes different every time you make it!) I really do measure all the stuff I make. Alternative flours or mixes are less forgiving than wheat flour, I think, so you really do want to measure stuff as accurately as you can.
I use the spoon on the right to put all my spices in the pizza sauce.
I should use the spoon on the left.
(Ignore the fancy measuring spoon in the background.)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pizza! Crust

When you have food intolerances, allergies, or other limitations, there are not a lot of things you can buy in the store pre-made. Much of American food is processed and, depending on your food limitations, probably contains some ingredient you can't have or don't want. One of the things that is difficult to find in stores or restaurants is pizza. About 4:00pm today I made the mistake of asking Dona and Samantha (my wife and daughter, respectively) what we should have to eat for supper/dinner. I was thinking spaghetti, because there's a jar of store-bought sauce in the cupboard and a bunch of noodles ready for the cooking. It would be a fairly quick and easy meal. "Pizza!" was the answer I received. Actually, Samantha voted first for her normal request (pancakes) and Dona vetoed spaghetti.
"We just had spaghetti." 
"Not for several months!" I said. 
Dona doesn't like spaghetti. I don't really know why, but even if we have it twice a year, it's too often for her. I would like it about once a month. Spaghetti must have made her think Italian or something because her next thought was, "Pizza!" "Yeah! Pizza!" says Samantha. I know when I'm out-voted.

The pizza I make is highly regarded in the family. I always thought it was decent, but not great. However, I receive a lot of accolades every time I make it. Mostly I thought that Dona and Samantha were being nice. However, I decided my pizza might be good when even my 22-year-old stepdaughter, when we had pizza a couple of weeks ago, liked it. I took that as high praise, because she has more refined tastes than I do. I used to make a rice-flour crust for myself and a wheat crust for them, but since Dona and Samantha have had limits placed on their food intake I had to find another crust for them. I found one that we all could eat. I also like it because it's fast. I can whip one out in ten minutes.

  • 2/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder ( I had to use soy milk powder, which I happened to have, because I was out of nonfat dry milk. 
  • 1 tsp Xanthan gum
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp vinegar
Mix all the dry ingredients together, I try to remember to use a whisk because the tapioca flour, like corn starch and baking soda, sticks together in lumps, so you have to work it pretty well to get the lumps out. If you don't it looks like this.
The white spots are un-mixed tapioca flour

Stir in the liquid and beat until mixed thoroughly. It's going to be a little sticky. I even tried using less water, but it still was sticky. Get out a piece of plastic wrap that is at least as long as it is wide, and spray it with cooking spray. Even if you are cheap, like I am, don't skimp on the plastic wrap. It probably will take you 4 sheets, because this will roll out fairly thin. Anyway, put two sheets of overlapping plastic wrap on the table and spray them. Scrape the dough onto the plastic wrap and spray two more sheets. Lay them, overlapping, on top of the dough and press out so it's about an inch thick and 6-8 inches in diameter. Roll with a rolling pin until the dough is 1/8-1/4 inch thick. The plastic wrap might bunch up or get caught in the dough, so you might have to peel it off once and lay it back on the dough. You can flip it over, too. Once it's rolled out, peel off the top plastic wraps and then slide your hand under the dough. Then, like a pie crust, lay it out on the pizza pan. Don't forget to peel the plastic off what is now the top side. Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, take it out and put sauce and toppings on it and bake it again until the cheese melts. My sauce recipe will be forthcoming.

**A couple of things to keep in mind about this pizza crust. You are using bean flour. If you get gas or have other reactions to beans, go easy on the pizza. The result of a surprise high fiber invasion of your intestines could be "explosive." You also could play with the flour mixture. Use less bean flour and substitute rice or quinoa. I also have a really good rice flour-tapioca flour pizza crust I used to make but that's another blog.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sugar-Free Banana Cake

Growing up and living with celiac disease, I found that for some reason people thought that since I couldn't have "normal food" I was supposed to be happy with crappy-tasting stuff that I could eat. Rice cakes (the old ones, not the new flavored ones) were the prime example of that to me. They were something that I could eat and potentially use as a hamburger bun or even as "bread" for a sandwich.  There was only one problem. They were like eating styrofoam. As a somewhat precocious seven-year-old, I called them hockey pucks. They were hard and chewy like a hockey puck but no self-respecting hockey player would have used these things.

Anyway, my goal since I've been cooking for my wife's and daughter's food issues has been to find recipes that are tasty variations or to do some "creative substitutions" to see if I can alter an existing recipe I know is good. This recipe falls in the former category.

My mom gave me this recipe out of one of her many church cookbooks. I think I need to tweak the flour combination because it has a bit of an aftertaste, but it honestly is pretty good.

  • 2/3 cup mashed bananas
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups flour (I used 2/3 cup tapioca flour, 2/3 cup Quinoa flour, and 2/3 cup buckwheat flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 5/8 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons oil 
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I left these out at the request of my wife and daughter.)
In a mixing bowl, beat the bananas and butter until creamy. Add eggs and beat well. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon; add to banana mixture alternately with water and oil. beat well after each addition. Stir in nuts if desired. Spoon into a greased 9-inch square pan, or equivalent. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until done. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

There are a couple of changes I'll make next time, but I'll blog about those when I make the cake again.

Introduction, Take 2

So, as a project for the new year, I think I'm going to take blogging more seriously. I'm a 41-year-old assistant professor of communication at a community college in Wyoming who also is a Ph.D. student.  As I noted in my Introduction, I have celiac disease. My wife and daughter also are following a restrictive diet. This was prescribed by my wife's chiropractor. I know, it's a little sketchy, but they do seem to be feeling better.

The purpose of this blog is to share recipes and experiences about cooking with a wide range of alternative flours and foods. I may occasionally discuss other subjects as well, but mostly I'm interested in food. Hopefully I'll post around twice a week.