Chocolate Chip Cookie Perfection

Searching for the holy grail of GF cooking: chocolate chip cookies.  Bet you thought I was going to say some sort of bread!  That’s another post entirely.  Anyway, when I went GF 4.5 years ago I made a batch of chocolate chippers that were gf. They were rather sweet and didn’t taste all that great.  I didn’t give up, I keep looking.  Recipes seemed to require that I buy weird vegetable shortening or use Crisco.  Or they used odd flours and just not worth it to me to add another flour mixture just for one cookie.  So I had not made them in 3 years.  Missed them….desperately.  Store ones are small, hard, drab in flavor and incredibly pricy.

So about a year ago I went to King Arthur’s website and looked in their cookie recipes.  There it was: cookies made with the same flour blend I use and made with butter, one of my few chosen shortenings.  Why the heck didn’t I look there a year ago?  Probably because I didn’t realize they had many gf recipes until that summer when I asked and was directed to their cache of gluten free baked treats. I went to the comments as they can be telling as to the truth of whether a recipe is worth actually making.  Glowing reviews and advice; make them and refrigerate a day or better yet, freeze them formed and ready to bake in a few minutes.  Words about how much they are like Tollhouse cookies, great texture and flavor.  Bingo, this seemed so hopeful.

Less than a week later I made up a batch; 2/3 with walnuts and 1/3 nut free for my nut hating friends.  Froze them all on trays and then into freezer bags except one tray to bake.  Made those and tested them on my friend Josh who came to supper.  Goal scored; perfect brown sugar nutty flavor and texture; not too hard or too soft.

spicy-tomato-jam-005

I put some in my cookie jar, closed it tightly and 4 days later those cookies (what remains) are still delicious. That is pretty long for a gluten free baked good. By the fifth afternoon my last cookie in there was getting soft so suggest not holding them for more than 4 days in a jar. I love that they can be frozen ready to bake in like 12 minutes.  If I have time I let them defrost on the cookie baking sheet before they go in the oven so they spread out nice and thin.

I have made a couple batches since then, always bakes up so scrumptious. Cookie perfection!

So, if you are still looking for a great gf chocolate chip cookie look no further: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe.  Enjoy!

Originally published on my blog one year ago, September 2016.  A few minor changes.

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Eating GF Update September 2017

Eating gluten free can seem impossible when you first explore the possibility of giving up all sources of gluten. But then a few weeks or months you are able to make it work, you find gluten free flours, mixes, recipes for naturally gluten free meals and ones for gluten free breads, rolls, cakes, pies and cookies. After a while great food comes out of your kitchen that anyone is happy to enjoy.

composed shrimp and pasta salad

 composed shrimp salad with green goddess dressing

But, there are days that are difficult for someone with celiac.  Days where I crave a real wheat based New York bagel toasted and topped with cream cheese.  A slice of pizza from either of my favorite parlors of past years when I could eat pizza anywhere it was sold. Days where I would give anything to just walk into a hoagie shop and buy a big Italian sub with all the trimmings, not asking any questions, just forking over my money and diving into that big fatty treat with that crisp and tender roll made with wheat flour. Real puff pastry formed into crust for a dainty dessert.  Oh so many things I miss.

quiche slice

quiche with bacon and mushrooms

Still, I am so glad to be healthy. I don’t need any medicine to combat my celiac disease.  Just better food choices. And I find many things can be replicated out of gf flours and grains.  Folks are often surprised by how tasty my gf desserts are.  They are shocked by cookies that are even more delicate and flavorful made with my favorite gf flour blend. My pie crust is just wonderful, I honestly don’t miss the old one at all. And I make cobblers, crisps, waffles and pancakes.  So many tasty treats and entrees that I have swapped out all purpose flour for a gf flour choice. It can be done and it gets easier over time. I avoid eating too many processed gf foods; my preference is to cook from scratch and make the majority of my food in my own kitchen. Free of chemicals and weird things that are so unhealthy; like hydrogenated fats or excessive sugar or salt which is much better for all of my body.  So, I am doing great.

fig and greek yogurt cake

Fig and Greek yogurt cake

Please don’t feel sorry for me or anyone you know with celiac.  We are doing just fine and enjoying great food while being so much healthier.  I would much rather give up gluten than give up chocolate! Truth.

Be safe, eat well and be happy. Enjoy life.

Mushroom and Corn Risotto

I made this fabulous risotto, perfect in September when there still is fresh local sweet corn and mushrooms like chanterelles are available. You can buy lovely mushrooms at the Hellertown Farmer’s Market on Sunday mornings, or in most grocery stores. I used my mini wok to do most of this recipe.

There is no cheese in this recipe.  I suppose you could add some but it isn’t necessary.  If you used veggie broth this would be vegetarian and if you use Earth Balance instead of butter; vegan.  I just found it to have an amazing depth of flavor.  Worth every bit of effort.

mushroom risotto

Mushroom and Corn Risotto, serves 4-5

3 tbsp. butter divided

1 tsp. olive oil

8 ounces chanterelle mushrooms or other wild mushrooms

1 large shallot; diced small

1 ear of sweet corn

1 medium yellow onion finely chopped

1 cup Arborio rice

½ cup vermouth or dry white wine

3 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

2 minced garlic cloves

1-2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh herbs like parsley, chives, or chervil

Directions: Heat large saucepan (I use my mini wok) and add 2 tbsp. butter and oil, melt butter and add mushrooms which you have chopped, cook 2 minutes; add shallots and cook 2-3 minutes, and turn out into a bowl. Cook one ear sweet corn about 7 minutes; I steamed mine in a frying pan with ¼ inch water in the pan.  Let cool and then chop off all the kernels, add to mushrooms. Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan until hot but not boiling.

To the pan you sautéed mushrooms in: add 1 tbsp. butter and then the chopped onion once the butter melts.  Cook 4 minutes, add garlic and rice and cook 1 minute, add wine and cook 1 minute, add chicken broth one ladle full at a time.  Stir after adding each ladle and stir a couple times as it cooks.  When the broth is mostly absorbed add another ladle. When I add the first ladle I set my timer for 16 minutes. When the 16 minutes have elapsed add the sautéed mushrooms, shallot and corn kernels, also salt and pepper. Stir well and cook 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently and taste it; can cook another minute if necessary (total of 20 minutes for the dish once rice added.) Turn it off and then add the herbs, stir and serve.

Notes: risotto seems like it will be difficult and a bother but you can probably do other things as it cooks; just keep an eye on it and stir the pan whenever you can to redistribute the broth so it soaks into the rice; at least every other minute. The slow absorption of the broth causes the rice to swell and cook perfectly.  You must use Arborio rice for risotto; no other rice will work.  You could use red onions if you like instead of yellow. If you want it creamy you can add ¼ to ½ cup milk when you add the corn into the risotto. Maybe I will do that next time.

You can use any sort of mushrooms you like. I had lovely wild chanterelles and honey mushrooms. The flavor of this risotto was out of this world.  Without the cheese most risotto has it was lighter and seemed to melt in my mouth in a delicate explosion of flavor.  Definitely the best risotto I have ever made and I honestly make risotto regularly as my starch accompaniment to a main protein.

This recipe is from “The Mushroom Lover’s Mushroom Cookbook” by Amy Farges with minor changes.

Blueberry Peach Almond Crisp

We are still enjoying fresh blueberries and juicy ripe peaches. I had just a few peaches left from that basket I bought a week ago so I wanted to combine them with blueberries; giving enough fruit for this crisp and so I could enjoy the combined fruit flavors.  I used my pie crumb topping as the jump off recipe for this dessert. Adding almonds adds a lot of crunch. I loved how quickly this came together; no precooking of the fruit and if you have crust crumbs in the fridge you are ready to toss it together in about 5 minutes. There are twice as much blueberries as peach slices but the blueberries do become the predominant flavor.  If you want more peach flavor; use less blueberries and more peaches.

blueberry peach mixture

Notes: You need to peel the peaches; I heated water to a boil; dropped the peaches in and cooked them for three minutes, let cool a bit and peel then slice.  Chose a baking dish that has room for the fruit and ½ inch of topping plus at least another inch for the hot fruit to bubble up and not spill over.

blueberry peach crisp baked

Angie’s GF Blueberry Peach Almond Crisp

Filling:

1 cup fresh blueberries, rinse, drain and place in medium bowl

2 ¼ cups sliced peaches, peeled before slicing into bowl with blueberries

Add and mix with:

3-4 Tbsp. sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. quick tapioca

Let stand while you prepare the crumb crust. This is important so the tapioca can soften and absorb some juices before baking.

Crumb topping

3/4 cup brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Put all four ingredients in a stand mixer bowl and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form. If you let them go extra long you get big fat crumbs if you like.

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Measure out 2/3 cup of the crumb mix into a bowl

Add to it: ¼ cup slivered almonds, ¼ cup old fashioned oatmeal (uncooked) and ¼ tsp. cinnamon.  Mix well.

Store the rest of the crumb topping in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator until you need to top a pie with crumbs.

Pour the fruit mixture into a 1 quart glass or Pyrex baking pan sprayed with cooking oil and top with the almond crumb mixture.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until bubbly and the crumb crust is light brown.  Cool at least 15 minutes before serving at room temperature. Serves four.  Would be great with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy! blueberry peach crisp in dish

Brown Rice Flour Mix (Same as King Arthur GF All purpose blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour

1/3 c tapioca flour

Note: the crumb recipe is out of Annalise Roberts cookbook, Gluten Free Baking Classics, Second Edition. Adaptation and filling recipe are mine.

 

GF Playdough, Yeap… That’s For Real!

If you have small kids, teach or have grandkids then you as a celiac have to deal with playdough.  Any parent with celiac or if you have a child with celiac should or does know that playdough contains wheat.  Not safe in the least.  What can you do if the kiddos want to do the playdough thing? I am totally loath to even touch the stuff much less actually shape it. I hate getting it stuck in the carpet. Even a bit on the tables/desks freaks me out!  I teach in elementary school and unfortunately I have to deal with playdough especially if I am in kindergarten.  Which is where I spent some of the past three days in, so I was really struggling with the playdough issue. Luckily I was only assisting and the regular teacher was so kind; she made allowances for my issues with gluten and I didn’t have to touch the stuff.  Still, I itched to show the kids how to form it; I have a serious hobby as a potter and I love to form things of clay. I found it tough to stand back from teaching how to mold and shape it.

So I did some research and found a few gluten free playdough recipes.  Here is the one I used in case you want to make some for your kids. I only made half the recipe as I was low on rice flour and really didn’t need a lot. I think a whole batch could be divided in half so you could have 2 colors. Don’t make a giant batch but you could quickly make several in a row to have a variety of colors. It is as easy as can be. Put all the dry ingredients in a sauce pan, mix it with a whisk and add the oil then water and cook briefly. Turn it out, cool a couple minutes; color with food dye and let cool before bagging it.  Here is the original recipe (celiacfamily.com) and I list the ingredients below for my half batch. Just double the recipe for enough for two balls of playdough.

playdough

GF Playdough

½ cup white rice flour

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup salt

1 ½ tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. canola oil

½ cup hot water (not boiling)

Food coloring; a few drops

Mix all the dry ingredients in the sauce pan, add oil then water, cook on low heat for 1-3 minutes stirring constantly; it looks watery at first and then quickly becomes solid and can easily be formed into a ball.

Turn the bump of rough dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper, cool for 4-5 minutes, sprinkle with a few drops of food dye, knead it until it is a solid color and smooth. Store your playdough in a Ziploc bag.  The recipe says it keeps fine for at least 2 years!

Have fun!

Peach Cobbler Perfection!

Peaches in late summer: ripe peach chunks on my cereal, peach ice cream, peach pie, peach tartlets and peach cobbler.  Well, this post will be on peach cobbler and it is peachy keen!  I often make cobbler with blueberries and even sliced rhubarb.  I am guessing most any fruit might work; blackberries, raspberries, cherries, plums, nectarines and apricots come to mind.

This recipe is modified from one in Bette Hagman’s book, More from the Gluten-Free Gourmet and is based on a flour mix that will give you 4 cups of the dry ingredients.  One cup is the base for an 8×8 pan of cobbler topping.  I bet two cups dry mix will make a big 9×13 cobbler. Store the dry mix in an airtight container in the freezer to keep it fresh.

I have tried a number of cobbler recipes but nothing has been better than this one so I stick to what works for me.  If you use nectarines there is no peeling involved which makes it easy to throw together.

I always get the fruit cooking before putting the topping together so the fruit is hot and ready for the topping and can go right into the oven

apple muffins 007

Dry Cobbler Mix

2 ¼ cups white rice flour

½ cup potato starch

½ cup tapioca flour

1 tsp. baking soda

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/3 cup sugar

Cobbler Topping

1 cup dry baking mix

2 eggs

2 tbsp melted butter or canola oil

1/4 to 1/3 cup milk/buttermilk

½ tsp. vanilla

Mix the wet ingredients and then add to the dry mix in a big bowl.

Fruit Filling

4 cups sliced ripe peeled peaches or nectarines

½ tsp. almond extract

½-2/3 cup sugar depending on how sweet you want it

2-3 tbsp. GF flour like rice flour, tapioca flour (use 3 if juicy)

½ tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Mix the fruit and almond extract in a thick bottomed sauce pan. Stir together the sugar, cinnamon and flour and mix into the fruit.  Cook on the stove top for 4-5 minutes until it is thickened and hot.  Pour into a buttered 8 inch square pan, top with big blops of the cobbler topping. I have used 1/4 cup milk and that is less runny than using 1/3 cup.  Frankly it works either way. Bake immediately: at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  The top should be light brown and spring back when you poke it with your finger.  If it looks damp or squishy bake it 5 more minutes. This happens if I use more than 4 cups of fruit; slows it down, sometimes even ten extra minutes if you put 5 or so cups of fruit in it.

Let cool 7-9 minutes before serving as it will burn your mouth right out of the oven!  Some people love it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Cobbler is perfect just on its own.

Note: if you use oil and almond milk then this cobbler will be dairy free.  Spray the cobbler pan with cooking oil instead of rubbing with butter. I think you can use any sort of milk you can find or even fruit juice.

Originally on my blog in August 2014.

Peach Crumb Pie

It is near the peak of peach season so get some peaches and whip up a delicious gluten free peach pie.   This is an easy pie to create.  Slice and dump together the filling, crumb topping made in unwashed mixer bowl you used for bottom crust. You can store any leftover crumb mixture in a sealed container in the fridge; it keeps a few weeks.  I let my mix spin a few more moments in the stand mixer for extra big crumbs for this pie; love that look. If you prefer a solid crust just double the crust part and top your pie with it.  Be sure to cut some slits for steam escape! And if you don’t have time, buy a ready-made crust but homemade is always best.

Please make every effort to use local fruit; can get peaches at orchards like Bechdolt’s near Springtown, at most farm stands and at farmer’s markets; one on Saturdays in Easton or Sunday’s in Hellertown.  This pie really showcases great tasting peaches. If you use lousy peaches your pie will taste crummy. But, here’s the thing: store peaches can be poor in flavor and texture due to improper chilling so I strongly suggest you buy only locally grown, sweet, ripe peaches to make your pie.  I love when they have a pink blush; it makes the pie so pretty and perhaps even tastier!

peaches      raspberry-jam-014

To peel easily; heat 3 inches of plain water, drop the peaches gently in 4-5 at a time and cook them 2-3 minutes.  Use the lesser time for more ripe peaches. Allow to cool somewhat before peeling.  I like to do that over a bowl to catch the juices as I slice each peach.

Bake and enjoy late summer in a pie in just a few minutes of work.  Don’t eat it hot; it should be cooled to just warm if you like it so or room temperature or even a bit chilled.  You could certainly serve this with vanilla ice cream.  And this pie works perfectly with fresh nectarines, bonus: no peeling required!

 

Angie’s GF Peach Crumb 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 Tbps 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 resembling 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:

6 cups sliced fresh peaches, peeled and cut in thick slices, place in medium bowl

Mix with:

½ cup sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup quick tapioca

Stir in 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice and ¼ tsp. almond extract

Let stand while you prepare the crust.

Roll out pie crust in a pie bag or between 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.  Fill with fruit mixture.

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form. If you let them go extra long you get big fat crumbs if you want that look and I did!

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Sprinkle the top of the pie with crumb mix; use as much as you like.  I like about a heaping cup of the mixture.  Up to your personal taste… It sinks partially into the fruit mixture and adds lots of sweetness and eye appeal.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45-50 minutes until bubbly and the crumb crust is light brown.  Cool at least 1 to 4 hours before serving at room temperature.  I think it is best served the same day you make it, or no more then 12 hours after baking for optimal flavor.  The crumbs will get soggy if too much time passes. Mine was still very good the next day; just not as great as when really fresh.

mom's new watch 013

Note: if you find your bottom crust is not browning enough bake it empty at 375 degrees for ten minutes before filling it with the fruit.  I have a bottom heat pizza style oven which gives me perfect pie crust so I don’t ever have pale pie crust.

Brown Rice Flour Mix (Same as King Arthur GF All purpose blend)
2 c brown rice flour (finely ground)

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Note: This post was originally blogged by me the late summer of 2015. Minor changes made.