Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kitchen Experiments: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pancakes

It's a peanut butter themed week here at Madison Paper's and rightly so- I LOVE peanut butter. I might have a problem. I like to say I run because I love peanut butter. But, anyway. . . earlier this week we had no food in the apartment and because I couldn't be bothered to go grocery shopping, I decided to make pancakes. I was mixing the batter and wondering to myself "what would make these pancakes more interesting?" I found some chocolate chips in the cupboard and decided to add those, but wanted something a little different. The jar of peanut butter (Skippy is my brand of choice and, yes, it's GF) on the counter was calling to me and I had a crazy, brilliant thought: peanut butter chocolate chip pancakes! Because what's better than peanut butter and chocolate?? Quite possibly the greatest flavor combination. I added a heaping spoonful of peanut butter to my Pamela's Pancake Mix and enjoyed the delicious scent of peanut butter and chocolate while I cooked. The pancakes had a light, subtle peanut butter flavor, not strong enough for my taste (go figure) and next time I'm thinking about two heaping spoonfuls. But, this is the start of something amazing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Product Review: San-J Thai Peanut Sauce

This peanut sauce by the San-J company caught my eye on the grocery store shelf because it had gluten-free emblazoned across the front of it's label- no eye strain from label reading! I love it when companies make my life easier. San-J's Thai Peanut Sauce is certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (speaking of organizations that make life easier!) and the company produces several other GF sauces, including teriyaki and Asian BBQ.
I paired the Thai Peanut Sauce with one of my favorite naturally GF foods: Thai Spring Rolls and found it an interesting diversion from my usual peanut sauce selection. It didn't have quite enough peanut flavor for my taste, but I enjoyed the contrast between the tamarind soy sauce and the spring roll's flavors. I think it would be excellent with chicken and plan to experiment more soon.

Thai Spring Rolls
  • Rice paper
  • Rice Noodles
  • Carrots, grated or thinly slices
  • Scallions, sliced
  • Lettuce, thingly sliced
  • Fresh mint, chopped
  • Cooked shrimp with tails removed
This is a simple and versatile dish, feel free to experiment with ingredient combinations. Chopped chicken, tofu or tempeh can be substituted for the shrimp and basil also works nicely in the place of the fresh mint. This is my favorite combination: the fresh, crisp vegetables, bright mint and shrimp taste like spring to me.

To make a roll (or packet, to actually describe what they look like), follow the package directions to wet the rice paper. A plate with a small amount of water works well for this task. In the center of the rice paper, pile the rice noodles, shrimp, carrot, onion, lettuce and mint. Roll or fold together- whatever works best for you. Serve with warmed peanut sauce and enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

GF Resources:

I discovered this phenomenal (and free!) resource through Facebook (which, it turns out, does have a purpose) and I believe it's a great website for the new and experienced celiac alike. I'd encourage anyone to peruse the site. Here are a few favorites I discovered:
  • The Online GF Shopping Guide introduced me to several new GF sources, including Everybody Eats, a dedicated gluten-free facility located in New York. Their prices are high and I'm sure the shipping is equally pricy, but based on the pictures alone- it might be worth it. I was thrilled to see ravioli, baguettes and their delicious looking cakes look like a good enough reason to visit New York.
  • The Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide is free! Most GF Resturant Guides cost at least $30 and must be constantly updated. The guide is searchable by state and country, perfect for something local or trip planning.
  • Speaking of trip planning, I am completely infatuated with Bob and Ruth's Gluten-Free Travel Club- what a brilliant idea! From what I can gather, Bob and Ruth serve as GF specializing travel agents booking airfare, tours, museum entrance, lodging and, most importantly, food. For one price, Bob and Ruth arrange everything. Once again, pricy- but you're paying for total piece of mind about your diet for your entire trip. I'd love to go on the GF Adventure to Egypt with Bob and Ruth!
  • The events page is also exciting, I haven't found any local events yet- but a few sound worth traveling. The runner in me is excited by the Team Gluten-Free (complete with t-shirts, how cute is that?) marathons held all over the country. Better start training.
  • The Bookstore has an excellent selection of guides, cookbooks and other GF related reading material all available through Amazon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Gluten in Pop Culture: Elizabeth Hasselbeck On GMA

I never thought I would find a topic I would agree with Elizabeth Hasselbeck 110% on- but I also didn't know she had celiac disease. On May 4th, Hasselback appeared on Good Morning America to promote her new book, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide (an homage to her time on survivor, perhaps?). By visiting the GMA website, you can watch a video of the segment and sample a few recipes from the book. I was particularly impressed by her upbeat attitude and her description of cooking without gluten as about "replacing not removing." I also thought her idea of bringing a gift basket with GF goodies to a party was a brilliant idea and one I'm sure my friends would appreciate!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The X - Files: Baking with Xanthan Gum (Lemon Berry Tart)

You may (or may not) have been wondering to yourselves, "whatever became of the second half of the Ricotta Pastry?" Well, the answer is: it became a delicious Lemon Berry Tart! This recipe I found in my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook and was the original impetus for my search for a new GF pie crust. The picture looked too yummy to pass up and the GF results met my expectations and then some. A few pieces of advice. 1) Add salt to the crust (I even added to the recipe I included with the Kringle post), otherwise the crust hasn't much flavor. 2) If you refigerate your pie, let the crust reach room temperature before serving. This will make serving and enjoying considerably easier.

Lemon Berry Tart
  • 1/2 Ricotta Pastry
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • 3 cup mixed berries or other sliced fruit.
Follow instructions for Ricotta Pastry in Kringle post and create one baked pie crust. Cool completely. Mix together lemon curd and cream cheese. Spread over crust. Lick mixers, they will be delicious, while refrigerating crust and lemon mixture one hour. Arrange berries on lemon mixture and serve.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Simple Substitution: Fried Chicken

I'm convinced KFC is using some sort of subliminal advertising in their tv spots because lately I've been craving fried chicken. I decided to haul out my trusty Betty Crocker recipe book and try my hand at creating GF fried chicken. Betty's Oven-Fried Chicken seemed perfect, a few ingredients and the oven-frying should result in less clean-up. I would recommend this recipe for warmer months, because I quickly set-off the smoke alarm and had to open all the windows! Luckily, it was a warm day. And the chicken came out great, completely worth the effort and vigorous kitchen towel waving.

Oven-Fried Chicken
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free flour mix
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • one piece broiler chicken
Heat the oven to 425 degrees and melt the butter in a rectangular pan, I found a casserole dish made for easy handling. Mix the flour, paprika, salt and pepper together. Coat the chicken with the flour mixture. Place chicken in the butter former skin side down (I removed the skin before coating in flour) in pan. Bake 15-20 minutes. Turn chicken, bake another 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dining-Out 101: Pat's Pizza

About a month ago, when driving by the Hampden branch of Pat's Pizza, I noticed a sign. It read, "New Menu Item: Gluten-Free Pizza Crust." Gluten-free pizza crust?! From a real (Well, somewhat real. I grew up on Greek pizza and don't especially care for thin crust pizza.) pizza place?! To say I was ecstatic feels like an understatement.
Finally, this weekend Sarah and I found time to drop into the Orono Pat's to sample their GF pizza. I ordered Canadian bacon and tomato and it was delicious. Pat's is known for their thin crust and, naturally, their GF crust was thin and crispy. It didn't have a lot of flavor, but the sauce, cheese and topping made up for that drawback. Overall, it was worth the wait and I'm looking forward to going back again.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The X - Files: Baking with Xanthan Gum (Kringles)

I am ashamed to reflect upon how long More from the Gluten-Free Gourmet sat unopened and unexplored with my other recipe books- there are some fantastic recipes in here! Last weekend, I wanted to experiment with pie crust because, apparently, I was feeling very ambitious. Usually, I refuse to have anything to do with GF pie crust. It's a pain to roll out and get into the pie plate and then, after all that work, it never tastes good- forget about the texture problems. Fresh from my resounding sconce success, I decided to explore the Gluten-Free Gourmet's pie crust recipes- but which to choose? I settled upon the Ricotta pastry because it sounded interesting and I thought it would go very well with the Lemon Berry Tarte I wanted to make. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the GFG suggested using half the pastry to make a kringle- intriguing. I've been on a quest for a yummy GF pastry for some time now and this recipe is a winner. Flaky (I have to warn you, there is nothing healthy about this recipe), fruity and it has icing!
Ricotta Pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking power
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the butter, ricotta cheese and sour cream. Mix ingredients well with a pastry fork. Chill in the refrigerator at least two hours (longer is better). Roll out the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap. Once you have the desired size, remove the top piece of plastic wrap and use the bottom piece of plastic warp to carefully invert the crust into the pie plate, shape and remove plastic. Bake as directed for recipe. If recipe calls for a baked crust, use a fork to poke holes all over the crust and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

  • 1/2 dough from ricotta pastry recipe
  • 1 can any GF pie filling or jam
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
Roll out the pastry between two sheets of plastic wrap into a rectangle about 10 inches by 16 inches. Remove top layer of plastic. Spoon half the pie filling down the center of the dough (jam also works very well- for the kringles pictured, I used lemon curd and raspberry jam. I also made one with cherry pie filling. All delicious.) and use the plastic wrap to fold each side of the pastry over the filling. Flip over and place seam-side down on a greased cookie sheet- this is the tricky part. Slash diagonal slits across the top about every two inches. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 400. While baking, whisk together the confectioner's sugar and milk. Drizzle the resulting icing over the kringles while still hot. Cut into pieces and serve.

Coming soon: the other half of the Ricotta Pastry become a Lemon Berry Tarte!
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