Cloud Bread – Yup…That’s Its Name!

Finding or baking decent gf bread can be problematic.  Poor texture, weird flavors, big holes the middle of the loaf, leaden brick like baked products, high prices and lots of ingredients which must be compiled exactly according to the recipe.  It adds up to a fair amount of stress as to just having a sandwich.

A year ago I made some really interesting bread called “cloud bread” (also called oopsie bread) and it has no flour, no oats nor any grains.  I was intrigued when I saw this cloud bread popping up in my support group messages and just had to try it. My recipe has five ingredients but three should be in your pantry already.  It was very easy, quick and yes; tasty.  So it made a super bread for a ham and cheese sandwich and a ham/turkey and cheese sandwich.  I ate one warm out of the oven, also enjoyable. Great with a little jam or jelly on top.  Posted it back last March and sharing again so you who missed it can give it a try.

I added a couple toppings which add a lot to the flavor and look of it.  I recommend them but it sure can be made plain.   You have to use full fat cream cheese to make it work, only a few tablespoons so don’t get all freaked out over that issue!

Cloud Bread/Rolls

3 eggs, separated

3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. honey

Pinch salt

Toppings; sesame seeds and a tbsp. of chopped fresh rosemary

 

Directions

Beat the egg yolks with the cream cheese until it is very smooth, lemon yellow. Add the baking powder and honey, beat in.

Beat the egg whites until foamy, add a sprinkle of salt. Beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold together with the yolk mixture until mostly blended together.

While the egg whites were beating I lined a big baking sheet with parchment paper and sprayed it lightly with Pam.  Heat oven to 300 degrees. Some people heat the pan in the oven before spreading the dough; I didn’t bother but feel free to preheat your pan.

Using a big spoon spread the bread mixture on in six big circles spaced 1-2 inches apart.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and or finely chopped fresh rosemary. Bake until golden brown between 20 and 30 minutes.  Using a spatula separate them from the parchment paper. Let cool.  Store in a ziplock bag overnight; they will get soft and be ready for sandwiches.  Keep them in the fridge. I put slices of wax paper between them to avoid sticking.  shoe fly pie, hash 012They keep about 3 days there and a week in the freezer.  Wonderful for sandwiches: I used one for the top and a second one as the bottom of the sandwich.  Did I mention they are virtually no carbs in this bread? Yeap; great for my low carbing friends!

Originally posted in spring of 2016. Minor changes, none to the recipe.

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Dinner Out at 1774 Grille & Tap in Hellertown, PA

The hottest new eatery in the Lehigh Valley is right here in Hellertown, the 1774 Grille & Tap right on Main Street just one block south of the Municipal Building. I couldn’t wait to eat there, the on line menu looked amazing and there was a note that most things could be made gluten free as they are all cooked to order.  Fantastic!

1774 grille

We were about five minutes late for our reservation and were urged to get a drink at the bar while we waited for our table. I had some Riesling that was quite tasty and my guy enjoyed an iced tea.  The place was full of patrons: loud and hopping. It took about ten minutes for our table to be made ready but eventually we were placed by a window underneath a screen that displayed ever changing photographs; mostly old ones of Hellertown in years gone by, kinda fun to guess where and when they were taken.

Our waitress went over a short list of daily specials.  It was tough to hear her in the crowded and noisy main dining room.  Maybe they should put up some drapes to deaden the noise a bit…just a friendly suggestion.  Anyway, I alerted her to my need to eat gluten free and she responded that one of the daily specials was gluten free and that the mahi mahi on the dinner menu was gluten free.  Nothing else.  I was a bit non-plussed as I remember the on line menu saying otherwise.  So, with few options, I went with the mahi mahi and Joe had the halibut special so I could taste it.  I was pleased to find that their gold and red beet salad was gluten free so I had that as my starter. Joe went with their Caesar salad.  We both loved our salads although he was a bit surprised to find the salad greens to be kale. I couldn’t taste it due to the bread croutons but he loved the dressing and enjoyed every bite.  My thinly sliced beets were delightful as was the fresh goat cheese.  The pistachio vinaigrette was very discretely applied but I loved this salad. I have eaten similar salads in expensive big city restaurants and this was just as good as any I have ever enjoyed.

1774 salad

I forgot to take a pix of my gorgeous beet salad and this was the only one I could find for their salads; very pretty.

Our entrees made it out not long after we finished our salads.  Joe’s halibut was a beautiful presentation, laid on top of extremely thin long slices of baby cucumber sprinkled with black sesame seeds with a jalapeño pepper dressing which was so mild I would have ordered it.  Normally I find jalapeno pepper to increase the heat to a point where I am uncomfortable but the heat was quite lightly applied which made me happy and left Joe who loves the heat to be wondering where the fire was. I loved my bite of it; the cucumbers were sliced razor thin and seemed summertime fresh as was the fish. It was delightful with such a great clean taste. I think I need a whole portion of it next time!

1774 mahi

I had a shallow bowl of miso broth with extremely fine rice noodles, lots of delightfully snifty smoked shiitake mushrooms and a large piece of mahi mahi, perfectly cooked and very tasty. The broth was delicate; but I didn’t really taste the ginger the menu mentioned. I think that would have kicked the flavor up one more notch! I shared some with Joe and still was barely able to finish it, leaving me too full for dessert.  The only gluten free offering they had anyway was sorbet or ice cream. We passed on that and got our check.

Note: When I looked at the on- line menu later, that statement about any entrée being made specially gf was not to be found…weird.

I must compliment the restaurant on their wait staff; very friendly and ultra polite.  Plus they were quick to get an ice tea refill and to deal with the check.

The décor is pleasingly antique-ish, the bar cozy and I hope the owners can figure out a way to lower the sound level just a bit.  It was very busy and that definitely adds to the noise level. The joint was jumpin!

I would like to return when they have some other gluten free menu choices for me.  My palate was all ready for either of their deliciously described lamb offerings or the duck breast or maybe the sautéed scallops.  I was so disappointed that none were able to be made gluten free. I contacted the restaurant about that issue and am awaiting an answer.  Maybe they will add some gf entrees for me to try… sure hope so!  NOTE: see my update at the bottom of this post; good news!!

Note: I borrowed a few pictures of the restaurant from the net; I hope they will forgive me. This blog is not a huge commercial enterprise where I can go back to eat the same food again just to get a few great pictures and I wanted to liven up my post with some images of this new dining spot right here in my town.

UPDATE: I wasn’t contacted directly but I am informed that most of the menu can be made gluten free upon request.  That is great news and I plan to go back at some point and enjoy a few things that tickled my fancy on the menu.  My server misinformed me and now I wish I had asked to speak to the manager.  Still, my meal was quite delicious. Their menu will be changing in a few weeks; it was a “winter” menu so I assume it will go to spring? Great; but I hope that the duck breast is still around when I find time to return to sample it.

Old School Pie; Banana Custard

Early spring brings a dearth of fresh fruit.  I find the apples to be less than optimal for pies after about February.  I was looking for something fresh and fruity.  No frozen fruit either; pricy to fill a whole pie and I really try to find things that are seasonal.  I had a pie to bake for Joe, he loves a pie so what should I chose? My sister said why not the venerable banana cream pie. Bananas are here and fresh so yes!

My mom used to make this pie when I was in my early adulthood; for some reason she never made it for us as kids.  I used to cut up and set the banana rounds in the baked pie shell for her.  The contrast of the rich custard, the flaky crust and the fluffy cream with the delicate banana flavor is just so memorable.  And if you can bake an empty pie crust and make custard this pie is really simple.  If you want, buy a crust in a package to bake; that will simplify things even more.  I assume you can use a box pudding but I highly recommend this custard, straight out of Betty Crocker’s 1978 cookbook.

Angie’s Mom’s Banana Cream Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 large egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembles coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup corn starch

½ tsp sea salt

3 cups whole milk or 2 percent, no lower fat than that

4 egg yolks beaten lightly

3 tbsp. butter cut into small cubes.

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 large bananas

Topping: 1 cup whipping cream, ¼ cup powdered sugar and ½ tsp. vanilla

Directions: Mix the dry ingredients in a 1 ½ qt sauce pan, Add the milk and stir as it heats.  Once it reaches a boil time it for one minute.  Then add 1/3 of it to the egg yolks, stir and return all to the pan, bring back to boil and time for one minute stirring constantly.  Add the butter and stir as it melts, then the vanilla, stir.  Pour into a mixing bowl, let cool a bit and then put a film of plastic wrap on the top; press it down onto the custard.  Chill at least an hour before using.

Roll out pie crust in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  Prick with a fork evenly every inch so it won’t bubble as it bakes.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 12-18 minutes until the crust is light brown.  Cool at least 15 minutes

Cut peeled bananas into 1/2 inch rounds and cover the bottom of the pie crust with them close together.  Pour the custard over the sliced fruit and smooth the top.

Chill pie 1- 4 hours before slicing and serving cold topped with a big dollop of real freshly whipped cream.

Whipped cream: Beat 1 cup cold whipping cream with an electric mixer until it holds soft peaks; add a quarter cup powdered sugar and ½ tsp. vanilla.  Do not beat any more, just stir in.

I think it is best served the same day you make it, or no more then 12 hours after baking for optimal flavor.  The crust will get soggy if too much time passes. Mine was still very good the next day; just not as great as when really fresh.

Originally posted on my blog in April 2016.  Making one later this holiday week!

Daffodil Cake – Delish Spring Dessert

My resolution this year was to eat less cake and I am doing pretty well at it so far but sometimes it is about using the ingredients you have and the holiday that is at hand.  I have some egg whites in the freezer and have to use them up. Defrost and I have everything else in the fridge or pantry: go daffodil cake. Looks like an angel food cake on the surface but it is an old fashioned confection known as a daffodil cake.  The insides have some white and some yellow cake. I found the recipe in my 1970s Betty Crocker, a great standard cookbook I would never want to be without.  Was making it for many years before my diagnosis with celiac so once I got comfy baking gf I figured I could make it gf and it is perhaps even better than it was with gluten based flour.

I make them on occasion for my mom who is a big fan of said cake.

She is still not sure I am making it gf but it is totally gf and totally delicious.  daffodil cake, french apple tart 014

So all you gluten free disbelievers, this cake will change your mind. It is tender, moist and delicately flavored, not to mention very pretty and perfect in spring for Easter.  It is after all, a daffodil cake and spring is the only time in the year they bloom. Make some now folks! It makes a wonderful birthday or party cake; you could put a thin vanilla powdered sugar glaze on top to make it fancy for such an occasion.

Notes: I save egg whites; in a Tupperware container in the freezer, until I have a cup of them.  Then I am ready to put this beauty together. Or just use enough eggs to make a cup of whites. If you don’t have guar gum you can use xanthan gum.

A few words on separating eggs: this can be tricky and I have learned from bad experiences not to separate directly into the measuring cup full of whites; do it into a small bowl and dump. You can NOT get ANY egg yolk in the whites or they won’t beat properly.  Best to set any egg that breaks or becomes contaminated with even a speck of yolk aside and make an omelet for supper! I crack each egg on the edge of my counter, split its shell in half and dump it over one cupped hand. The white flows through into the bowl underneath and I drop the yolk into the mixing bowl. Be gentle so the yolk does not break  Don’t use old tired eggs or the yolks are more likely to break; fresh is best but they need to come to room temperature before cracking so the whites beat to a high volume.  FYI: When baking gf all ingredients should be room temperature unless the recipe tells you otherwise.

Put the yolks in the medium mixing bowl and add those six whites in with the other cup of whites: 1 ½ cup total egg whites.  I know, a crazy lot of eggs in this but remember, no fat what-so-ever! Angel food cake is a good choice for your diabetic friends, or so they say. I just think those folks love a good angel food cake. This cake is even better, a masterpiece of delicate melt in your mouth cakey delight.

Angie’s GF Daffodil Cake

1 cup egg whites (room temp)

6 whole large eggs (room temp)  separated

1 ¼ cup powdered sugar

1 cup brown rice flour blend (recipe below)

½ tsp guar gum

1 ½ tsp. cream of tarter

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

½ tsp. almond extract

1 cup granulated sugar

 

Directions:

 

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Put baking rack on second slot from the bottom.  You need a ten inch tube pan with removable bottom, do not spray.

Mix and sift the powdered sugar, flour, guar gum in a bowl at least once.

Pour the egg whites (should add up to 1 ½ cups) into a stand mixer bowl, add cream of tarter and salt.  Start at medium speed.  Beat until foamy, increase speed until high, wait for soft peaks and add cup of granulated sugar a tbsp or two at a time as it beats.  No bowl scraping or stopping.  Beat at highest speed until you have stiff peaks.  Beat briefly after adding the two flavoring extracts. Set aside.

In small bowl beat the 6 egg yolks about 4 minutes until thick and lemon yellow colored.

Fold the flour mixture into the egg whites, I do about a quarter cup at a time sprinkled all over the top and I fold it with a spatula or spoonula.  Be gentle and smooth; don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly smoothly mixed.  Put about half of the mixture into a separate large mixing bowl.  Add the beaten egg yolks; gently fold until it is pretty well blended.

Put big glops of the plain mixture into the baking tube pan; I like 3 big ones.  Put three big glops of the yellow blended mix between them. Top with more glops of the mixes, using it all up.  Gently stir through the pan with your spoonula to swirl it a bit and smooth the top with the spoonula.

Put into preheated oven, bake 35 minutes, until when you press gently on the top it springs back.

Remove from oven, turn it over and hang on an empty wine bottle neck or a big funnel. Let cool totally in this upside down state before cutting it out of the pan. I use a sharp serrated bread knife, cut around the outside edge and the center tube. Lift it out and then slice under the cake all around.  Place a cake plate over the top and gently flip it. daffodil cake, french apple tart 014

I store it in a plastic cake saver or just in the microwave away from breezes and hungry folks.  You could wrap it in plastic wrap too. It is best eaten within 3 days.  It generally doesn’t last that long around here.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix 

(This mix is the same as King Arthur’s basic gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

This recipe is my variation on the angel food cake you will find in Annalise Roberts’ Gluten-Free Baking Classics cookbook.   This post was first published in April 2016.

Gluten Free Chips to Munch

If you follow my blog you might notice I haven’t posted many baked goods in the past month. As I mentioned the other week, I had my right knee replacement surgery the first week of March. Due to that I haven’t been able to do much cooking and even less baking.  Just not able to stand around or work hard at anything other than my recovery which is going pretty well these days. I use a cane but in my house I often just walk all on my own. I’ve had lots of company, mostly siblings who came to help me out and to visit our mom who I normally spend time with each week.  This worked out great and now I am on my own.  While they were here people bought a number of things new to me and so I have been doing some product reviews.  Here are two more, both triangular chips and both organic.  In the interest of honesty I should say that throughout my recovery I have been actively seeking not to eat these sort of treats; too fattening/salty/addictive.  I didn’t buy them but I sure couldn’t help myself to try more than a few of each chip.

pink himalayan chipsI love tortilla chips and was excited when my brother bought a bag of Pink Himalayan Salt Red Rice & Quinoa Tortilla Chips by Lundberg in Ca. Everyone likes them but me and my beef is the salt. I guess my salt cutting back regimen for the past year or so is having a serious effect as I found these chips to be way too salty for my tastes.  No one else felt that way; they were noshed on with joy by several of my visitors so get a bag and test them out! Non GMO, gluten free and whole grain…purchased at Giant Food Stores.

popcorners chips

The other snack item I want to share with you are Popcorners, Crispy & Crunchy Popped Corn Chips, by BFY Brands in Liberty NY.  Darn it, but I just love them! No preservatives, no trans fats, not fried, doubled pressed for extra crunch.  I got the variety with some cheddar for flavoring. Thin, crisp but not hard and lightly cheesy: I could eat the whole bag in a day but I have restrained myself so far. These also came from Giant and I love that they have 7 ounces, the other ones were 5.5 so I got another ounce and a half plus they were a bit cheaper so double score on these triangular treats.

More and more tasty gluten free snacks are popping up out there in regular grocery stores; but do read the packaging carefully if you have allergies or want to limit sodium or other sorts of intake. Best not to eat the whole bag at one munching! Enjoy.

Udi’s GF Blueberry Muffins

I have a tiny confession to make; I seldom buy store made baked goods.  I just don’t.  As an accomplished home baker I tend to not be willing to spend a lot of cash on something that I fear will be substandard. These past three and a half weeks have been spent recovering from a total knee replacement which I really needed.  Unable to cook until the last week or so, and just not having any appetite, I haven’t been tempted by much, until a dear friend brought a package of four fat Udi’s GF blueberry muffins as a get well gift. I put them in the freezer as they were still mostly frozen and I wasn’t hungry at that moment.  A day later I thawed one and shared it with my sister who is visiting to help me out; it was kinda large I thought for me with my shrunken appetite.  We warmed it a tad in the microwave and shared our impressions.

udi blueberry muffins

The actual muffins look even better than they do in this photograph!

Karen is not gluten free but she has happily enjoyed my gf baked goods over the past four years, even agreeing that some of my baked items are better gf than they ever were! Russian teacake cookies, for one, which get snarfed up very quickly by company.  Well, the muffin was quite tasty, great texture, not crumbly or gluey which are common failures.  Karen liked it too and was impressed by the flavor and the texture. It was sweet but not overly so and the blueberry flavor was just right; strong but not over the top.  I detected a hint of lemon in the muffin which made me like it even more. The top had a light sugary crust which was a treat too. This sure was a lot of deliciousness in the shape of a muffin and I was pleasantly surprised as, sometimes gf baked stuff can be pretty gnarly.  I liked knowing that someone who doesn’t need to eat gf enjoyed it too so you can serve this to your non gf family/friends without any fear.

A bonus is that they are dairy, soy and nut free if you need to avoid those food categories this is a great breakfast for snack choice.  One muffin has 270 calories which is quite a bit but I tend to eat half for a morning snack and the other half later on in the day so it counts for two snacks in my world.

So, if you like blueberries this muffin is a treat and I wholeheartedly recommend them. I make my own blueberry muffins which are darn tasty if I may brag a bit but if you aren’t a baker, these are an excellent choice. Buy a package and get your yummy on!