Monday, March 30, 2009

Afternoon Tea

I was delighted this past Sunday afternoon to have nothing to do. The past two months of weekends have been busy, busy, busy. It was wonderful to brew a pot of tea and settle into the couch with a good book for an hour or two. The perfect accompaniment to my afternoon tea: croissant de chocolate. These croissants have been hoarded in my freezer since last year and it seemed like a perfect day to enjoy them. My sister discovered these while studying in Spain last spring. Mom and I went over to visit her and she kindly stocked up for my breakfast.
I think I might move to Europe solely for these croissants. They are (drum roll, please) flaky! A definite rarity in gluten-free baked-goods. And are filled with a delicious dark chocolate filling.

These croissants (along with many other delicious looking gluten-free products) are produced by Proceli Turull, a Spanish company headquartered in Barcelona. Their products are available throughout Europe, but sadly not in the States. You can visit their website for some drool-worthy pictures (baguettes, yum). And, if you every find yourself in Europe, be sure to bring home enough to stock your freezer!

A lovely afternoon, but I'm so sad to only have one croissant left! Anyone planning a European adventure?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Matter of Simple Substitution

Sometimes we get lucky and a regular recipe can be transformed into a gluten-free recipe by simply substituting gluten-free ingredients. Simple substitution. Some recipes lend themselves easily to simple substitution; others, unfortunately, don't. Last night for dinner I transformed two regular recipes into a delicious gluten-free meal using simple substitution. On the menu: Pasta with Sausage, Basil & Mustard and Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce. Yum!

My menu was inspired by spring cleaning. In the fall, friends gave me a bag of Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta shells that I discovered behind my pasta collection. Earlier in the week We Are Not Martha ( check them out!) featured a delicious sounding pasta recipe that seemed the perfect use for my hoarded pasta. I'd never tried this brand before and I was very impressed by the texture and taste. I will definitely be looking for more of this. Secondly, I discovered I had finally saved enough heels and broken pieces from my preferred Kinnikinnick White Sandwich Bread to make Bread Pudding- hooray!

Pasta with Sausage, Basil & Mustard

  • 16 oz gluten-free pasta shells
  • one package al fresco roasted garlic chicken sausage
  • 3/4 dry white wine (I used Black Swan Chardonnay)
  • 3/4 heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup thinly sliced basil
How I made this recipe gluten-free:
This recipe was easy to transform, I substituted two ingredients: the pasta (obviously) and the sausage (less obvious, always be careful of fillers). For the pasta I used a package gifted and recommended by a friend, the Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta Shells mentioned above. I would highly recommend this product and here's a picture to help you find it:

Second, I used a gluten-free sausage: al fresco's Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage. I like this sausage not only because it is clearly labeled gluten-free (I love it when companies take the guess work out of labeling reading), but also because it's all natural and delicious. Even my picky, picky sister who does not like sausage loves this product:

Easy. Now on to the recipe:

Start boiling water for the pasta (whatever brand you choose, follow the package instructions), drain and set aside.

Cut the sausage into small pieces. Saute in olive oil until golden brown. Add the wine to the skillet and allow to reduce (about 5 minutes), be sure to scrap the bottom of the pan to get all the flavor into your sauce. Add the heavy cream, mustard and red pepper. Stir and let everything hang out for a few minutes.

Add the pasta and basil to the skillet. Fold everything together and serve. Easy and delicious.

Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 cups cubed gluten-free bread
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey
How I made it gluten-free:
Another example of simple substitution, I merely exchanged gluten-free bread for the French bread called for in the recipe. I love bread pudding, I store heels and broken pieces from my sandwich bread of choice (Kinnikinnick White Sandwich Bread) in the freezer until I have enough to make bread pudding.

Note: I substituted lactaid for the milk called for in the recipe, I often do this in baking because, like most celiacs, I'm lactose intolerant and this recipe called for a lot of dairy product. I didn't substitute the cream in the first recipe because lactaid milk would not have thickened properly to make the sauce and I felt the amount of dairy product wouldn't bother me. It's a bit like playing Russian roulette, but I've figured out what my body can handle.

Now the recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the bread into smallish cubes, whatever that means to you.

Lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk, cinnamon and sugar. Whisk together. Stir in the bread cubes and allow them to soak up the mixture. (At this point you might add raisins. I hate them, so I didn't) Pour into an ungreased 1 1/2 quart casserole.

Bake uncovered 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, start preparing the whiskey sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, do not allow to simmer! Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes.

Mix water and egg. Add slowly to melted butter. Stir in sugar.

Cook over medium-low heat stirring constantly (really, you cannot leave this alone for a second) until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in whiskey. Cool for 10 minutes.

Serve over warm breading pudding - yum!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's only fitting to begin my blog with my favorite gluten-free cookie recipe. This is my go-to gluten-free recipe, whenever I'm going to an event and need to bring food these cookies are always a hit. I even commissioned my Mom to bake these to serve at my thesis defense, I got highest honors and I think the cookies deserve some of the credit! Usually, people don't even realize these cookies are gluten free. They're always moist, not crumbly like some gluten-free baked goods often are. Best of all, they have an intense peanut flavor because there's no flour to get in the way of the peanut butter taste.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 9 oz chocolate chips (be sure to check the label, gluten sneaks into the funniest things.)
Yes, that's really all the ingredients! Cream together all ingredients except the chocolate chips. Add chocolate chips. Make small balls of the batter and smush onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 9-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow cookies to cool before removing from sheet (or they will fall apart).

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