Friday, December 28, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls a Hit

Before the gluten-free lifestyle kicked in, I used to make homemade cinnamon rolls for our Christmas breakfast. The wheat recipe called for lots of rising time, punching down dough, and other prep steps, so this was a once a year thing for this some-time baker. This Christmas Eve I thought I would try a gluten-free version and found an excellent recipe on Ellen's "I Am Gluten-Free Blog" and while the dough was a challenge to work with, as it was extremely soft, the cinnamon rolls were a hit with our clan. I found they were better the second day, as the texture got a bit harder and less crumbly. You can find this recipe and lots of other great recipes on Ellen's blog or copy it down from here:

Cinammon Rolls
Serves 8 or 9

2 tablespoons shortening or butter
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup of milk, room temperature
1 packet yeast (about 1 tablespoon)
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup potato starch
1 cup corn starch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 - 2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped nuts - (I used pecans)

GLAZE (I skipped the glaze, but it sounds good for next time)
¾ cup powdered or confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
milk to thicken

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, combine shortening and sugar. Mix well. Measure warm milk and add yeast to milk. Whisk well to fully dissolve.

Add milk/yeast to sugar mixture. Add remaining ingredients. Mix very well, being sure to remove all lumps. Dough will be quite soft.

Take a piece of plastic wrap and lay it out so it covers a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square. Sprinkle sugar on the wrap. Lay ball of dough on top of that. Then pull out another sheet of wrap and gently lay over the dough. Pat the dough down into a roughly squarish pancake. Lift the top wrap up and then reposition it. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough in between the two layers of wrap. Occasionally you'll have to lift and reposition the wrap because it gets "stuck" under the edges. You might have to occasionally flip the whole thing over. Make sure that when you're done you've got ABOUT a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square of dough.

Remove top piece of wrap. Combine filling ingredients. Spread evenly across dough's surface. Use the bottom piece of wrap to lift the edge of the dough and start to roll it up forming a long cylinder. Start with the sugary edge, which will be the center of your roll and roll toward the sugarless edge. Cut off or trim up the irregular ends of your "log". Then cut into 8 or 9 slices of similar size, about 1 1/2" wide. Place rolls into a greased round glass pie pan.

Bake approximately 20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned.

Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make glaze. The amount of milk you use will depend on how thick you want the glaze to be. Stir until all lumps are dissolved. Drizzle over warm rolls if desired.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Winter Caprese Salad

I have been eyeing these fresh mozzarella "perlini" balls in my supermarket dairy case for a while and thinking how cute they are. I tossed some in our green salads, but I came up with a really delicious and simple salad, in Christmas colors, no less, for our Christmas Eve meal tonight. It is sending us a needed blast of summer intensity for this darkest time of winter.

I used a thawed container of pesto from the freezer, which we put up nearly daily during August when the basil bushes grow with an intense vegetable energy, but you could substitute prepared pesto from a jar. But, please don't spend $5.00 on a hydroponic bouquet of limpy, wimpy basil from the produce aisle. Basil needs summer dirt in its toes and blistering summer sun to give up its goodness.

Wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my new gluten-free buddies with this twist on the traditional sliced mozzarella, basil leaf and tomato salad of summer:

Winter Caprese Salad

1 (8 oz.) container fresh mozzarella perlini (pearl-sized balls)
About 25 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup pesto
Splash of red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and let flavors marry at room temperature for at least an hour before serving. Serve as an appetizer or spoon on top of your green salad.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Gluten-Free Holiday Cookies at Ft. Edward Bakery

The Saratoga Gluten-Free Goods elves have been hard at work in the kitchen churning out goodies and they are now selling a holiday cookie assortment at the Fort Edward Bakery, 192 Broadway (State Route 4) in Fort Edward, New York. Call the bakery at 518-747-5090 or stop by to scoop them up while supplies last. Wouldn't that make a great gift to bring to a holiday party or to give to your favorite wheat-free buddy? Beat me to the bakery!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gluten Suppositories!

Here I am innocently cataloguing books at the old bookstore, when this eyepopper jumps out at me. Tucked at the rear of a seemingly upstanding book, "Dick Cheveley", by the staid historical novelist, W.H. D. Kingston, are several advertisements, a common enough practice with nineteenth century publishers looking for extra simoleons. There is an ad for Sohmer pianos, and one for Sapolio soap, but then my gluten-sensitive peepers lighted on an advertisement for the Health Food Company of New York City and their marvelous GLUTEN SUPPOSITORIES!

E.L. Ripley of Burlington, Vermont, no shy hemorrhoidal victim he, notes "As Sancho Panza said of sleep, so say I of your Gluten Suppositories: God bless the man who invented them!". And the Rev. John H. Paton of Michigan, a chronic, constipated dypeptic, heaps accolades on the mighty tablets, stating "I believe their food-remedies to be worthy of the high praise which they are receiving on all sides". These gluten suppositories are billed to relieve intestinal torpor and kindred evils, but pity the poor celiac or wheat-sensitive soul who popped them in seeking relief.

Giving thanks for modern medicine.....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Using Up Pie Crust Scraps

As a little girl, I would love to help my mom and grandmas cook in the kitchen and one of the "specialties" I had was to take leftover pie dough trimmings and sculpt them into elaborate shapes for "cookies" or as Lilliputian pie shells for jam fillings. Neither tasted particularly good, but I had a lot of fun working the dough onto my own cookie sheet.

Now that I'm making gluten-free pie crusts and the time spent shopping for and money spent on various types of flours is so dear, I was eyeballing the scraps I had trimmed off two pumpkin pies I was baking the other day. The pie crust recipe I use is Bette Hagman's Featherlight Vinegar Crust (for recipe see my previous post for Apple Sour Cream Pie) and it is wonderfully flaky and has a nice flavor. I then spotted the bag of apples that had gone instantly mealy from the time I purchased them to their arrival at home. Voila! Apple crisp! The pastry scraps got fluffed around with a fork and I had an apple crisp topping. Double frugal score to boot!

Here's sort of a recipe:

6 past-due apples, peeled, cored, sliced
Brown sugar
Pastry Scraps, fluffed up

Butter a small baking dish (1 quart will do). Toss apple slices with brown sugar and some cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Sprinkle on pastry scraps, some more brown sugar and dot top with butter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour.

Everybody ate it up, especially when I served it with our dinner, along with the pumpkin pies. Two desserts with dinner was a hit with the kids and I was pleased they were ingesting a vegetable and fruit on the same plate.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Some Gluten-Free Tidbits

There are some assorted bits of news and interesting Internet posts I thought I would assemble for a gluten-free sampler:

1) The GourmetSleuth blog has a useful grams to ounces converter that is helpful when adapting a recipe from the metric system to the American system of cups, ounces and teaspoons. There are a lot of great recipes from around the world so this should help with adapting recipes for home use. I am going to be putting this as a link in the sidebar on the right side of this blog.

2) Sea over at the exceptional gluten-free blog Book of Yum has a wonderful recent post about gluten-free snack packing and preparing for a long trip AND exciting and detailed posts on Indian cuisine and what to look for on an Indian menu that is safe to eat. Fascinating and beautifully photographed as ever. A must read.

3) The Chez Pim site has organized Menu of Hope 4 to benefit the United Nations Feeding Program in Lesotho, Africa. This great event features numerous raffles for dreamy food prizes, from cookbooks and cooking lessons, to tours of famous restaurants and shopping trips with world renowned chefs. Check it out until December 21st.

4) In a similar vein, you can help the UN World Food Program by testing your vocabulary at the Free Rice site. Of course we all love gluten-free rice, and this time-wasting and addicting site promotes a great cause.

5) I ran across this article on celiac-friendly beer and wanted to share this with others. We have been very happy with Redbridge Beer available at our local supermarkets but it looks like there has been more of a growth in the gluten-free beer market over the last year, so it looks like a trip to our beverage distributor might be in order.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rudolph's Noses - Our favorite Gluten Free Christmas Cookie

Every family has its holiday traditions, and in our household it just would not be Christmastime if we didn't decorate the Christmas tree while listening to my eldest's punk rock holiday tunes, snip out paper snowflakes to tape onto the windows and pierce oranges with cloves to hopefully mummify into spicy sachets. If I also don't make a batch of Rudolph's Nose cookies and stain my hands from the red sugar they are rolled in, there will be Decemberish whining.

Originally I made this recipe, passed onto me by my friend Hope with the more elegant monniker of "Chocolate Cherry Bites", with a box of vanilla wafers, but now I use whatever kind of gluten-free shortbread or vanilla cookie is available on the grocery shelves.

HoHoHoping you will enjoy this Jagareski family tradition...

Rudolph's Nose Cookies

1 (9-12 oz.) box gluten-free vanilla cookies, smashed into crumbs
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
3 Tbsp. baking cocoa
3/4 cups chopped maraschino cherries (most of a 16 oz. jar)
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
Red sugar crystals (at least one 2.25 oz. jar, but buy a second jar because depending on your level of encrustation, more sugar crystals may be required)

The easiest thing is to use a food processor to smash the vanilla cookies, and chop the nuts and cherries. Otherwise, chop and smash using your favorite alternate method and mix everything except sugar crystals into a large mixing bowl.

Mix together until you can shape the cookies into little 1/2 inch balls. If you need to add more moisture, a dab of leftover maraschino cherry juice will do.

Roll cookies in red sugar crystals. You can also do a mix of red and green sugar crystals, but red is the smartest and most fashionable color of sugar crystal to accompany a chocolate brown cookie, so you gotta go with that.

Makes about 40 Rudolph Noses, more than enough to light the way for Santa's sleigh.

These keep about 2-3 weeks in a covered tin. After that the sugar leaches out the moisture from the cookie and they become unpleasantly sticky.


For lots of other gluten-free Christmas cookie recipes, check out these other links:

Aboutcom's List

Cookies in Motion website

Gluten-Free Mommy

And Carrie over at the Ginger Lemon girl blog promises a Gluten-Free Cookie Recipe Roundup later this month, so check out some other scrumptious options there.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cinderella Sweet Treats

The Cinderella Sweets Bakery of Woodmere, New York, sent our family a sample package of some of their gluten-free sweets and I am delighted to report that all of the goodies we've tried have been really great. The company, founded by baker Cindy Itzkowitz, sells its gluten-free goodies under the name "Shabtai Gourmet" at many metropolitan NYC area supermarkets and does a lot of mail order sales.

We certainly tucked into these treats in a hurry. The non-celiac daughters who turn up their noses at most of my gluten-free concoctions scarfed up the Pecan Meltaway Crumbs in a flash, and the "I'm-allergic-to-coconut" daughter wolfed down half of a delicate Raspberry Roll coated with the tropical flakes. The Chocolate Seven Layer Cake was scrummy, and while I didn't like the Ladyfingers by themselves (they were a bit dry) they made a marvelous dessert layered with whipped cream and sliced, sugared strawberries. I still have some gluten-free Brownies and Ring Tings (like the similar-sounding snack cake) in the freezer to bring out later.

So Four Thumbs Up from our clan for these light and delicious gluten-free snacks. They are also certified kosher, so you can adorn your holiday table with safe, delicious, and fancy desserts if you are so inclined. If you live in the New York City/Long Island area, you can find Shabtai Gourmet treats at Shop Rite, Key Food and other supermarkets. The rest of us can call the bakery to order them through the mail at (516)652-5671.

*****December 18, 2007 Addendum***********

Four of the Shabtai Gourmet gluten-free items are now being offered on Amazon dot com. You can order Chocolate Chip Cookies ($7.00), Gluten-Free bread crumbs ($5.00), Ladyfingers ($5.00) and the divine Chocolate Pecan Meltaway Crumbs ($7.00). Free shipping if you order $25.00 or more.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gluten-Free Goods in Fort Edward

Just a quick note to let folks know that the Fort Edward Bakery, 192 Broadway (State Route 4) in Fort Edward, New York, is now stocking Saratoga Gluten Free Goods items. I got some chewy, big chocolate chip walnut cookies there yesterday and there were also lemon tartlets and bread for sale.

Shirley Carson, owner of the Fort Edward Bakery, said she just started carrying these gluten-free items because so many of her bakery customers were asking for them. If you can eat wheat, you will be tempted by the famous garlic finger rolls and her delicious pastries. For directions to the bakery or for more information, call Shirley at the Bakery, 518-747-5090. See you there.