Desserts, Gluten-free, Recipes

Blackberry Cobbler

Update 8/19/2016:  For a delicious gluten-free version, scroll to the end of this post.  Dennis agreed with me that the gluten-free version was as good or better than the original!

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I rediscovered this old recipe, written down more than thirty years ago, when I unpacked some of my cookbooks and recipe files from the box I’d packed them in at the start of the kitchen renovation.  This dish was a potluck staple of my former pastor’s wife in Klamath, Joyce Fleshman.  I’ve tweaked it just a bit, substituting butter for margarine (we all baked with margarine back then before we knew how bad for us it was), and adding a splash of my homemade vanilla.  I also substituted organic, whole-wheat pastry flour for all-purpose flour.  And this coming week, after I pick berries again, I propose to make this recipe with the Bob’s Red Mill bean-based gluten-free flour that I use so often.  I’ll let you know how that turns out, but I’m sure it will work, as I’ve subbed it for all-purpose flour in other recipes like this.

Usually when I make cobblers, I make a soft, sweet biscuit dough to top the hot fruit, which has been mixed with sugar and some kind of thickener, cornstarch or tapioca.  I made one of these a couple of weeks ago, and it was good, as always.  But somewhere in the back of my mind was the memory of this other cobbler that I always loved when Joyce made it all those years ago.  When I found the recipe, I was really eager to try it, and the dish lived up to my memory.  The batter for this cobbler produces a more cake-like texture, and as it bakes, it makes layers in the pan, with the berries in the middle layer, separating the two cake layers.  The fat in the pan produces a crisp, shiny surface.  It’s really good.

Joyce’s Berry Cobbler

½ cup (1 stick) butter

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups milk (whole is best for baking)

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

4-6 cups of ripe blackberries (Use lesser amount if your blackberries are super ripe and rendering juice.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put the butter in a 9X13 inch baking pan and place in oven to melt.  While butter is melting, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Beat in milk, eggs, and vanilla until mixture is smooth.  Pour batter over melted butter in pan, mix in slightly, swirling batter through butter with a spoon.  Sprinkle berries on top of batter evenly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until bottom layer is set when tested with a sharp knife.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Note:  The berries sink to the bottom or middle as the batter rises and the cobbler bakes.

The cobbler may need more baking time if your berries are very juicy, or you use the larger amount of berries.  I live at about 4500 feet, and it took about 50 minutes in the oven at 350 to get the bottom layer of the cobbler set.  Baking this at a lower altitude will probably take less time, so keep an eye on it.

We ate this warm out of the oven with ice cream the first day, and oh, baby.  It was very good cold with whipped cream the next day.  My granddaughter, who loves to bake, helped me pick the berries and make the cobbler, and she was a fan after she tried the dish.  For me, eating it brought back a lot of memories of church potlucks with good friends when my kids were little, and of Joyce, whom I loved.

Gluten-free version:

For the wheat flour, substitute same amount of gluten-free flour  (I use the bean-based flour from the bulk bin at Winco, which is Bob’s Red Mill).

Add 2 teaspoons xanthan gum to dry ingredients.

Follow directions as above.

This version might take an extra 15 minutes or longer to bake.  The texture is slightly different, more like a sponge cake crumb.

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Canning, Recipes

Jailhouse Jam

Dennis and I picked apricots last weekend, and I’ve been making jam, pie filling, and canning apricot halves.  This is a good fruit year for our high desert valley, and all the old apricot trees around town are just loaded.  The fruit is small, because these trees are neglected, but it is good.

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We picked at three places in Susanville this year:  the old, historic Lassen County Jail, the old Superior Court building, and at a private residence.  We had picked at the old courthouse and then moved to the old jail and were picking there when a passerby told us about a house that had been foreclosed on a month before which had an apricot tree hanging over into the alley.  “I’ve been picking every day,” she said, “but there are just so many!  You should come over and pick there.”  How nice!  We thanked her and said we’d check it out.  And we did end up picking a few there because they were easy to get to and nice and ripe.

We had one other interaction with a passerby that was amusing and dismaying at the same time.  When we were picking at the old courthouse, a group of three young people, perhaps in their twenties, walked by.  One of the young men stopped and asked quite politely, “What is that in that tree?” The fruit was all over the ground, and if you’ve ever eaten an apricot, it was obvious what it was.  But I told him, and I told him how good they were.  “Huh,” he said, and looked a little mystified, as if the idea of picking food off a tree, as opposed to picking up a package of it in a grocery store, were a new one to him.  That might not have been what he was thinking, but I have encountered that sort of perplexed attitude in the young toward foraged food.  But just maybe he’d never actually eaten an apricot before.

We came home with about 40 lbs. of apricots.  I want to share my apricot jam recipe in hopes that others will be inspired to pick and preserve this abundant fruit.  (If you’re not going to make it yourself, I have some for sale to local buyers.  You can see all the varieties of jams and jellies for sale at www.gardenforestfield.com/jeanies-jams.)

This recipe was adapted from one in Lisa Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation, a canning book I highly recommend.

Ingredients:

3 lbs. of fresh apricots

1 ½ cups sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

For a small batch, start with 3 lbs. of fresh apricots.  This will make about 5 half-pints of jam.  If you want to make a larger batch, double everything in the recipe, but make sure you use a larger enough pot to prevent boiling over.  Get your jars washed first and heating in your water bath canner while you work on your apricots.  The jars should be sterilized for 10 minutes in boiling water before you add the jam and process them, and it takes a while to get a big canner full of water to the boil.

I love making jam with apricots because it is one of the easiest of stone fruits to work with.  You don’t have to peel them, and they are freestone, which means the pit doesn’t cling to the flesh but comes away easily when you halve them.  So the first step to making apricot jam is to wash, halve, and pit the fruit.  Also cut off any dark spots from skin or flesh, because this jam is such a pretty color, you don’t want any dark bits to spoil the look of it.  Always cut away any moldy spots from the skin, if there are any.  If you find mold inside the fruit, around the pit, discard that piece of fruit, for it will taint your whole batch.

The next step is to dice the fruit.  You can do this by hand, but my hands don’t work very well anymore, so I do it in a food processor, pulsing until the fruit is chopped.  Don’t puree it.  The apricots cook down a lot, so a few bigger pieces are fine.

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Put the chopped fruit into a large, stainless steel or enamel-coated or porcelain pot and add 1 ½ cups sugar and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.  I usually use freshly squeezed lemon juice, but I have used bottled in a pinch, and it doesn’t seem to change anything, so it’s your choice.  Bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly, then reduce to medium and continue to cook for about 25 minutes.  Stir frequently to prevent sticking, but you can walk away from this for a few minutes at a time.  As the jam thickens, I start reducing the heat bit by bit so it doesn’t blurp all over me, the wall, the counter, and stove.  It really burns if it blurps on your skin, so wearing clean oven mitts while stirring is a good idea.

The trickiest part of making this jam is how to tell when it has cooked enough.  Apricot skins contain enough pectin to make a soft-set jam, but it won’t set hard like a jelly.  I use the plate in the freezer method to tell if the jam has cooked enough.  At the beginning of the cooking time, I put a small plate or saucer into the freezer to chill.  When the cooking time has expired, I start testing the jam by dropping a small dab from a spoon onto the chilled plate and putting it back in the freezer for one minute.  After that minute, I test the dab of jam by pushing it with my finger.  If it feels thickish and has a bit of wrinkle on the surface when it’s pushed, it’s ready.  But that’s not the only thing I look for.  When jam is ready to jar, it takes on a very glossy look.  It thickens, of course, but the glossy surface is a key for me.  As you watch the jam cook, stirring it frequently, you’ll see this glossiness develop.  The gloss in combination with how it behaves on the plate tells me when jam is ready to go in the jar.  Reduce the heat to low and keep the jam at a simmer while you fill the jars.

Fill the sterilized jars with simmering jam to within ¼” of the rim.  (Do use a canning funnel and a good ladle.  It will make your life so much easier.)  As you fill each jar, wipe the rim with a damp cloth or paper towel, and put the flat and ring on, tightening the ring only hand tight.  Place the filled jar in the boiling water bath and move on to the next jar.  This ensures that your jam doesn’t cool off too much before you start your processing time.  When all the jars are full and capped and in the canner’s rack, lower them completely into the boiling water and put the lid on the canner.  You should always have enough water in the canner to cover the tops of the jars by at least an inch when they are completely submerged. It will probably take a couple of minutes to bring the water back up to boiling.  Don’t start timing until the water is boiling.  At sea level, this jam only needs to process for 5 minutes.  I add processing time because my elevation is over 4000 feet.  Always adjust your processing time for your altitude.  There’s a handy altitude chart at https://www.freshpreserving.com/altitude-adjusting.html.

When the processing time is finished, use jar tongs remove the jars to a towel-covered surface to cool and do not touch them until they are completely cool.  Don’t push on the lids.  You’ll hear pings and pongs as the jars seal, but when they are completely cool, it’s a good idea to remove the rings, wash away any spillage, and test the seal on each jar by prying gently with your fingertips.  If the lid didn’t seal, refrigerate that jar and eat it first.  If you fill the jars to the correct level and clean the rims thoroughly before adding the flat and ring, you shouldn’t have any problems with failure to seal.

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This jam has no commercial pectin or preservatives in it, other than the sugar and lemon juice (both of those are somewhat preservative), so it should be enjoyed within a year or so.  It will be good longer than that, but I’ve noticed that mine tends to darken a bit on the surface of the jam after a year.  It still tastes fine, but just isn’t as pretty in the jar.  I always, always write the date on the top of the jar flat with a Sharpie before I put the jam away.

I hope somebody out there will go pick apricots and make some jam!  As for me, I’m on to making pie filling for the freezer, canning apricot halves in light syrup, and dehydrating some halves for quick snacks.  I do love apricots!

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Main dishes, Recipes, Travel

Fresh Abalone

I usually like to write up my wild culinary adventures right away, but when you’re camping, you’re not likely to have an internet connection capable of handling a big upload (or is download?).  That was the case with our five days in Cleone, California, a tiny hamlet just a couple of miles north of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.

We go to Mendocino County (and camp in Cleone) at least once a year, twice if we can manage it, so Dennis can dive for abalone.  For those who don’t know, abalone is a shell fish, but not a fish.  It’s basically a big sea snail.  They look disgusting and taste divine when prepared properly.  So today’s post is about preparing abalone the way we like it best, and we’ve tried many different methods.

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For the past couple of years, we’ve been camping in April with our dear friends, Karen and Louie Fortino, as a birthday celebration for Dennis and Karen, whose birthdays are only days apart.  It’s a good excuse to get together with friends we don’t get to see that often.  They live within two hours of the coast.  For us, it’s an eight-hour drive, but the haul is worth it.

Many years ago, Louie taught us a method for breading and cooking abalone.  It’s the best.  Louie’s a fabulous Italian cook, and this is the way he prepares squid for calamari.  It works equally well with abalone.  But before you get to the breading, there are some essential steps to take to make sure the abalone is tender enough to chew.

First, Dennis pries the abalone out of the shell, cleans away the gut (full of ground kelp), and trims off the black “lips” around the edge of the creature.  These lips are actually the abalone’s feet.  They help it move around on the rocks on which it lives under the surface of the sea.  The meat is pounded a few times with an ab iron (the tool used to pry the abalone off the rock) or a mallet, or even a two by four, if that’s all that’s handy.  This helps that incredibly strong muscle to relax.  Then the meat is rinsed clean, sliced thin into steaks, and pounded again, this time with a meat mallet, bumpy side down.  It’s necessary for the abalone steaks to be tenderized this way, and Dennis usually pounds them until he can see the muscle fibers breaking down.

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Then it’s time for breading.  When we’re camping, we set up the breading station as follows:

*Put a cup of white flour in a paper plate and spread it out (for gluten-free abalone, I use brown rice flour here and homemade gluten-free breadcrumbs, seasoned the same way I season wheat flour breadcrumbs).

*Beat 3 eggs with a 3 tablespoons of water in a shallow bowl (or large paper plate) Mix with a half cup of chopped, fresh parsley if you have it.

*Pour a cup of Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs into another paper plate and spread them out (my recipe below).  If breadcrumbs are store-bought, add ¼ cup of grated Parmesean cheese and mix well.

This is enough breading for two medium abalone, which is enough abalone, with sides, for four hungry adults. The abalone steaks are dipped first in flour, then in the egg-parsley mixture, then in the seasoned bread crumbs.  After breading, they should be laid out in single layers on paper plates, waxed paper, plastic wrap, what-have-you, so that the breading doesn’t get soggy.

We usually have two people working the cooking process, one to bread and one to fry.  (Louie did the breading this time, and Dennis did the cooking, while I sat by the fire and drank wine with Karen!) As soon as breading starts, the cook should start heating some olive oil in a large skillet.  (Regular olive oil, not extra-virgin, is best for frying because it has a higher smoke point, but all I had this time was EV, and you just have to watch the temperature of the oil and clean the pan between batches.)  When the oil is hot but not smoking, it’s time to fry.

It only takes a few minutes to fry breaded abalone steaks.  By the time the breading is browned, the meat is tender and done.  It’s ideal to put the cooked abalone on a cooling rack and cover with paper towels to keep it warm, but when we’re camping, we just put it on paper towels in a paper plate and cover it loosely with foil to keep it warm.  If done right, the breading won’t become soggy while the rest is cooking.

Abalone is best fresh out of the ocean, but it can be removed from the shell, cleaned, and frozen in water (or a mixture of water and milk, Louie says) in freezer bags and eaten later.  We don’t bring it home any more.  It’s eaten on the spot!

We’ve tried other ways of preparing abalone.  It doesn’t have much flavor on its own, so it needs the seasoning in the breading, in my opinion, for best taste.  Dennis used to bread it in cracker crumbs, but the Italian bread crumbs are much better.  We’ve tried it sautéed in garlic and butter.  Blah.  We’ve tried it rolled in a flour and cornmeal mixture like fish.  Blah.  We’ve tried it in panko.  Blah.  We’ve tried it grilled.  Blah and yuck.  Basically, we’ve tried every way anybody who dives for abalone has said it’s good, and we’ve always come back to Louie’s calamari method.  It’s simply the best.

My apologies for the lack of photos with this post, but when you’re about to eat a once-or-twice-a-year delicacy, photos are the last thing on your mind!  I had to jump up and grab my camera just as we were ready to dive in, and I didn’t get pictures of the breading and cooking process because I was drinking wine with Karen.  🙂

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Homemade Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs for Abalone Breading

*4 cups dry breadcrumbs

*1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I do use the fine stuff in the green container for this)

*1/4 cup crushed, dried oregano

2 tablespoons crushed, dried basil

2 tablespoons crushed, dried parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon paprika (optional)

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Store in cool, dry place in airtight container.  Can be stored in fridge or freezer if tightly sealed.

I save heels, stale bread, hot dog and hamburger buns, dry ends of French bread—whatever I have—in the freezer until I have a gallon bag of it.  Then I dry it in the oven at 170-200 degrees.  I cool it, then run the pieces through the food processor with the blade in place.  I store this in ziplocs in the freezer and make up a batch of seasoned bread crumbs before we go to the coast.

For gluten free breadcrumbs, save the heels and stale pieces of bread and dry and grind them as above.  Then season away!

Earlier in the day, we stopped at Cowlick’s Ice Cream Parlor in Fort Bragg, and I had a scoop of Candy Cap Mushroom ice cream.  It sounds weird, but oh my, was it good!  It tasted like Butter Pecan or Butter Brickle ice cream.  I could have used another bowl of it for dessert!  (Not that we were lacking desserts, with homemade blueberry-topped cheesecake and homemade pineapple upside-down cake, neither of which were photographed!  We ate the evidence!)

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Dairy, Gluten-free, Main dishes, Recipes

Buttermilk Pancakes

Until I started making buttermilk pancakes and sourdough pancakes from scratch, I really wasn’t all that fond of pancakes.  I’m sure I enjoyed them as a kid, because what kid doesn’t like pancakes?  But when my husband would make them for our kids, from pancake mix, they were always just so heavy and doughy, I didn’t really enjoy them.  I had to start making them from scratch to fall in love with pancakes again.

I love sourdough pancakes.  I like to make them on holidays when I’ve activated my sourdough starter to make sourdough rolls. But I don’t always have my sourdough batter activated and ready to go every time I want to make pancakes.  You either have to keep your sourdough always growing on the countertop (which I don’t), or you have to plan ahead and activate your refrigerated starter the night before so you can make pancakes the next morning (which I don’t).  And that’s why I love buttermilk pancakes, made with real buttermilk.  They are light and airy and tender, like sourdough pancakes, and they have a similar flavor.  And believe me, the flavor and texture of real buttermilk pancakes is nothing like the flavor and texture of a buttermilk pancake mix.

I make my own buttermilk now, so I always have it in the fridge. I usually only make 2 cups at a time, so I can use it up and keep making it fresh.  (Click the link to see how easy it is to make your own buttermilk.)  Also, my fridge is kind of small, so it helps with the space issue to keep just a pint jar going, and that’s enough for a big batch of pancakes, or a small batch of pancakes and a batch of biscuits.  (Yeah, real buttermilk biscuits are the bomb, too.) Because I always have buttermilk on hand, I don’t have to plan ahead to make delicious pancakes.

I have also used milk kefir in place of buttermilk with the same results.  I tried this because I had some kefir go a little alcoholic in the fridge when I was ill with the flu and unable to eat dairy.  I didn’t care to drink it when I got better, but I didn’t want to waste it.  The kefir made wonderful, light, fluffy pancakes, just like buttermilk, with no adjustments to the recipe.

I often make pancakes on the weekends.  I use a gluten-free, bean-based flour, and Dennis loves them.  He usually pours maple syrup on his.

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I like to change it up.  Sometimes I like maple syrup, but I often will open a jar of my blackberry syrup or another fruit syrup I’ve made, or I’ll spread my pancakes with my old-fashioned, low-sugar, strawberry jam made with whole berries. (You can tell this picture was taken recently during the kitchen renovation, because of the paper plate and plastic fork!)

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Or maybe I’ll pile them with apple butter or pumpkin butter and then drizzle them with maple syrup. Here’s a pic of one spread with apple butter and then rolled up like a blintz.  Then I coated it with maple syrup.

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I like them in the summer with sliced fresh strawberries, or fresh raspberries or blueberries, or fresh peaches or nectarines, and whipped cream.  And if you add an extra egg and thin the batter out a bit with more buttermilk, you can use this batter for crepes as well.  Then you can fill them with sweetened cream cheese and fruit for blintzes.  Oh, my.  If you omit the sugar, you can use the crepes for a savory dish.  I’ll have to dig out my old recipe for chicken or turkey main dish crepes!

Here’s my gluten-free buttermilk pancake recipe for two (double the recipe for a family), and after that, I’ll share an old buttermilk pancake recipe that uses wheat flour.

Gluten-free Buttermilk Pancakes

Wet ingredients:

1 large egg

2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil (I use grapeseed, olive, or avocado oil)

1 cup buttermilk or milk kefir (Regular milk can be used, but the flavor will be different. Omit baking soda if using milk, and increase baking powder to ¾ teaspoon.)

½ tsp. vanilla extract

Dry ingredients:

1 cup gluten-free baking flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill from bulk bins at Winco.)

1 Tbs. sugar (any kind, or can be omitted; I use coconut palm sugar)

½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ + pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (can be omitted; I’ve forgotten it, and the pancakes still held together)

Mix dry ingredients.  Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl; mix wet ingredients into dry. Let batter rest and get bubbly for a few minutes before baking on a hot, greased griddle or skillet.

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I spread the batter out a little bit with the spoon to get a neater circle and a thinner pancake, although obviously they are not always the same size!

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I cook at just hotter than medium in a little butter (and I really do mean a little) so they brown nicely and don’t have to be buttered after cooking, which can make pancakes soggy.   Allow bubbles to form and break before trying to flip, and make sure the pancakes are fully set and browned on the bottom before you flip them.  Don’t crowd the pan or griddle like I always try to do at least once.

You can make about a dozen small pancakes or 6-8 medium sized ones from this amount of batter.  We usually have a couple left over that I save and reheat for a weekday breakfast.

Buttermilk Pancakes (with wheat flour)

Wet ingredients:

1 egg

1 ¼ cups buttermilk or soured milk* (or milk kefir)

2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil

Dry ingredients:

1 ¼ cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

Beat egg.  Beat in buttermilk and melted butter.  Combine dry ingredients and beat into wet ingredients until batter is smooth.  Bake on hot, buttered griddle or skillet.  Flip when bubbles have formed but before they break.

*If you don’t have buttermilk or milk kefir, you can approximate the flavor and acidic action of these by souring milk.  To one cup of sweet milk, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice.  Stir and let stand a few minutes to curdle.

Notice a few differences in techniques between these two recipes.  With gluten-free flours, you almost always mix the wet ingredients into the dry.  The gluten-free pancakes also need to cook a little longer before you flip them.  With wheat flour, it’s nearly always a case of mixing dry ingredients into wet.

If you’ve been eating pancakes made from a commercial mix, I hope you’ll try making buttermilk pancakes from scratch.  It really takes only a couple of minutes more to measure out the extra dry ingredients, and the taste and texture of the real thing is worth the tiny bit of extra time.

 

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Gluten-free, Recipes

Gluten-free Yeast Bread

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There is no scent more homey and comforting than a baking loaf of bread. When I gave up wheat, I missed yeast bread so much, it was almost painful. For a year or so, I baked almond flour bread, which is quite tasty, but doesn’t have the flavor or consistency of a good loaf of yeasty wheat bread. It’s more like a dessertish quick bread. Nor does it work quite as well for sandwiches or toast. So I set out in search of a recipe for a gluten-free bread that would taste and perform like a yeasty wheat bread. And I found it.

My thanks to Josie Hyde, who posted the recipe I started with on the Bob’s Red Mill website. I’ve tweaked it in a couple of ways, added salt (bread needs salt), adjusted the yeast, used a different sugar and slightly less of it, and come up with a variation for Cinnamon Raisin Bread that I absolutely love. I’ve been promising this recipe for a year or more, and I’m finally getting around to posting it.

Just one last thing before the recipe. While this bread tastes delicious and very much like a yeasty wheat loaf, it isn’t as smooth and pretty as a wheat loaf. You’ll see in the pictures. It’s hard to get a smooth top on this very sticky dough. But if it tastes good and performs well in all the different applications for bread, what does a wart or two on top really matter?

Gluten-free Yeast Bread

  • 3-1/3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour** (See notes)
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (necessary to stabilize the dough)
  • 1/2 cup non-fat dry milk powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar (brown, white, or other—I use coconut palm sugar and love it!)
  • 2 ¼ teaspsoons instant yeast*** (See notes)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil**** (See notes)
  • 1-1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons warm water***** (See notes)
Step 1: Grease a 9×5 bread pan* (see notes). Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hooks. (You really do need to use a stand mixer for this sticky dough. It climbs the beaters of a hand mixer something awful!)

Step 2: In a measuring cup, beat the water, oil, and eggs together with a fork.

Step 3: Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Step 4: Beat for 2 minutes, scraping bowl frequently, or until all ingredients are incorporated into a smooth batter. Do not overmix.

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Step 5: Scrape batter into greased bread pan and smooth out top with wet spatula or wet hand. Cover with greased/oiled plastic wrap. Place in warm spot to rise.

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Step 6: Let rise about 30-45 minutes, or until the batter is just slightly above the rim of the pan. The bread will continue to rise in the oven.

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Step 7: Bake in a 375°F pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes (or until internal temperature reaches 190-200°F). Top will be quite brown.

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Step 8: Remove from pan immediately; cool thoroughly on a rack.

Cut when thoroughly cold. Makes 12-15 slices. Wrap well and store in fridge, or slice and freeze in a freezer bag (I put waxed paper between layers in the bag to keep the slices from sticking together) for longer keeping.

Notes:

*Greasing the pan has been a source of frustration for me. I don’t want to use vegetable shortening, but I have, and it does work. I’ve used coconut oil, and the bread sticks to the pan. I’ve started greasing the pan with butter, and it works. Grease the piece of plastic wrap to cover the loaf at the same time you grease the pan. Less mess.

**I buy the bean-based baking flour at Winco. It is not marked Bob’s Red Mill, but I have used the bagged Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour, and it is exactly the same as what I get at Winco for much less moolah. This is my workhorse gluten-free flour. I use it for pancakes, biscuits, pie dough, and bread.   Ingredients: garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour, fava bean flour. Nutritional information for the bulk flour at http://wincofoods.com/bulk-bin/2105. Compare to Bob’s Red Mill GF AP Baking Flour at http://www.bobsredmill.com/gluten-free-all-purpose-baking-flour.html.

***If you don’t have instant yeast, you can use 3 teaspoons of active dry yeast, and the dough might need to rise a little longer. Don’t use bread yeast. Bread yeast is formulated for more than one rising.

****The original recipe called for vegetable oil.   I don’t use vegetable oil because it is actually soybean and other oils I don’t care to use. I’m trying to use healthier oils, so I have been using grapeseed oil and sunflower oil in my breads. Both are virtually flavorless but high in healthy fats. I would also use olive oil, but not extra-virgin because it is so strongly flavored. Use whatever oil you prefer.

*****I wanted to see how the bread would work without powdered milk, so I tried warmed milk instead of water and omitted the powdered milk. I ended up with a slightly denser loaf. It’s do-able, if you don’t want to buy powdered milk. I get powdered milk in bulk at Winco, which is also where I buy xanthan gum.

What I love about this bread is that it works for sandwiches and toast. It is delicious warm, too (but the raw dough doesn’t taste good, so don’t let that scare you). I usually cut off and freeze the heels until I have enough to dry out and make bread crumbs, and then I have gluten-free bread crumbs for breading whatever I want to bread. I also make croutons for salads and soups out of the heels by tossing the cubed bread in a little melted butter or olive oil or a combination of the two, garlic salt and pepper, and crushed herbs, then toasting them on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes until browned. They keep indefinitely in a sealed bag. I don’t eat bread every single day, so I slice my loaf when it is cool and keep it in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. When I want a sandwich, I have bread that only takes a few minutes to thaw. And for breakfast, plain bread toasted with low sugar, old-fashioned blackberry jelly.

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Or how about cinnamon raisin bread toast?  Love, love, love!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Make loaf as above, using brown sugar. To dry ingredients add 1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon. To batter, add 1 cup of raisins and just mix in. Don’t overmix! Bake, cool, and slice as above. I keep a Ziploc bag of sliced cinnamon raisin bread in the freezer for breakfast toast. Oh, I love this! I missed it so much the first couple of years after giving up wheat bread. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have taken a photo of my Cinnamon Raisin Bread.  I was probably too busy gobbling it up!  Next time I bake a loaf, I will take a pic and add it to this post.

I don’t miss wheat bread at all any more.   I hope you won’t either.

I’m working on a gluten-free sourdough bread recipe. When I find a method that really works, I’ll be sharing that one as well. Right now, I’m experimenting, and I can tell you that making a sourdough starter with kombucha was an epic fail! More later. 😉

 

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appetizers, Recipes

Cream Cheese, Crab, and Avocado Won-ton Bites

Now, I know you’re not supposed to try new recipes when you’re having guests over.  But since my guests are almost always family, I feel perfectly comfortable trying out new ideas on them.  They like the food or they don’t, but either way, it’s a chance for me to use people who love me as guinea pigs!  So I tried out a new recipe of my own devising on them yesterday for our Super Bowl gathering: Cream Cheese, Crab, and Avocado Won-ton Bites.  It was a hit with those who like and eat seafood.  (We have some family members who don’t, so they don’t even try things like this.)  It was an easy and fun appetizer, and really pretty too.

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Cream Cheese, Crab, and Avocado Won-ton Bites

(makes 24)

For the won-ton cups:

24 won-ton skins

Canola or vegetable oil for brushing

Mini-muffin tins

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top and cups of the mini-muffin tins with oil. Gently press the won-ton wrappers into the bottom and sides of the cups.  Pleat the sides and press as needed to keep the cups open.

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Bake until lightly golden, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Gently lift the won-ton cups out of the pan and cool completely on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. (I only have one mini-muffin tin, so I did them in batches.)

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For the filling:

½ lb. frozen or fresh crab meat

1 eight oz. pkg. of cream cheese, softened

2 scallions, sliced

1 avocado, diced

2 tablespoons lime juice (fresh is best, but bottled is okay, too)

½-1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (optional)

Hot smoked paprika (optional)

Thaw frozen crab or use fresh. Drain liquid from frozen crab. Soften cream cheese at room temperature. Beat until creamy. Slice two fresh scallions. Add crab and scallions to cream cheese (and sriracha, if using) and mix together gently. (I did this in my stand mixer with the paddle attachment, on stir.) Chill mixture in fridge for an hour to firm up the filling.

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Dice avocado, toss in lime juice to prevent browning. Fill wonton cups with small spoonfuls of cream cheese/crab mixture, and sprinkle a few avocado pieces on top. Dust with hot smoked paprika. Serve. (I had to serve on paper plates yesterday because most of my serving dishes and platters are packed in boxes while we remodel the kitchen.)

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My darling granddaughter couldn’t stop eating these yesterday!

 

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Desserts

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (with variations)

I don’t know why I’ve never shared this recipe before now.  It is the best cookie recipe I’ve ever found, because you can make the basic dough and then add all kinds of delicious variations.   I use it all the time.  I make these cookies at least twice a month, keeping that cookie jar full for Dennis and the grandkids.

Today when I made them, I couldn’t find the big bag of chocolate chips.  We packed up the pantry cabinets last weekend, and I couldn’t find the right box that held the bag of chocolate chips.  (I found them after Dennis got home from work, but it was too late.)  I had about 1/3 cup of semi-sweet chips, some white chocolate chips, and some peanut butter chips in a storage jar out in the laundry room/pantry, so I combined those, and boy, these cookies were really good!  The grandkids noticed the difference right away, but they liked them.  I think they ate three apiece.  At least they are getting fiber with their cookies!  Hee-hee.  Nana sneaks in some fiber, and they don’t even know it.

Most of the time when you say oatmeal cookies, people make a face.  Oatmeal cookies are often thick and doughy, or thick and dry.  These aren’t.  These are thin and soft and delicious when they are warm, then cool to crisp and equally delicious.  I have found that the texture is better, thinner and yummier, when I use old-fashioned rolled oats rather than quick oats.  And all the variations below are equally good.  This is a basic recipe you can add all kinds of different things to and have fun with.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1¼ cups softened butter (2 ½ sticks)

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1½ cups flour (I often use whole wheat pastry flour)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, mix into butter/sugar mixture. Stir in oats; stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 min. or until lightly browned. Cool 1 min. on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack. Store tightly covered. Yield: about 4 doz.

Variations:

  • Use half white chocolate chips and half semi-sweet chips for black and white chocolate chip cookies
  • Add 1 cup chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans for chocolate and nut cookies
  • Use all white chocolate chips and add 1 cup chopped pistachios (these taste like Trader Joe’s)
  • Use half peanut butter chips and half chocolate chips, can add 1 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • Use milk chocolate chips for sweeter chocolate taste

For Oatmeal Raisin Spice Cookies:

Make dough as above, except add to dry ingredients:

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

Substitute 1 ½ cups raisins for chocolate chips. Bake, cool, and store as above.

 

 

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