Lemon Squares: Easy, Delish and GF

I strongly believe in seasonal eating and winter is the season of citrus so more power to the lemon! As mentioned previously, my brother sent me a box of juicy Meyer lemons from his tree down in Texas. I also believe in making my own treats; truly they are a lot healthier than store made sweets.  Last night we enjoyed lemon squares, gluten free and very dainty with the special flavor of Meyer lemons.  Of course, you can use the regular lemons available in the store; will be a tad sharper/brighter in flavor but they will work nicely.

These cookies are very easy to throw together; I made a shortbread cookie style gf press and bake crust and the filling ingredients are whisked together in my mixer and poured into the partially baked crust.  So easy to make and I wanted something light and delicate after all the fancy holiday desserts.  You would never guess they are made without all purpose wheat flour.  Anyone will love them if they are a fan of lemon. Take these to your next gathering, they will be scarped up pretty fast, and you will be seen as a real baker. Best of all you are eating a safe treat that is relatively guilt free; no gluten, no preservatives, not that much sugar compared to a cake and homemade flavor. Score!

lemon squares 008


 Cookie Tart Crust

1 cup brown rice flour mixture (recipe below)

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

5 tbsp. cold butter cut up into 6 or 7 chunks

Directions for crust:

Mix the dry ingredients with a stand mixer, add the butter, blend with the paddle blade until the butter is small pebbles.  Press into an 8 inch square pan, be sure to first spray the pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with rice flour.  Bake 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  While it bakes make the filling.

lemon squares 002

Baked cookie crust

Filling

3 large eggs, warm them close to room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice

2 tbsp gf flour mix

2 tbsp finely grated Meyer lemon peel

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs until fluffy, add the sugar slowly but steadily, mix, add rest of ingredients, Mix until smooth.

lemon squares 003

Adding the lemon zest.

Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 min; until set.

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Just out of the oven.

Cool completely and refrigerate if you want to serve them cold. They do not freeze well and only keep about 3 days, if any square are left that long!   I like to sift some powdered sugar on right before serving them. Use a sieve and about 2 tbsp. powdered sugar.  Luscious lemony goodness can be yours with minimal effort.

lemon squares 008

Brown Rice Flour Mix (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 from Annalise Roberts; Gluten – Free Baking Classics, a fantastic source for baking gluten free treats, full of recipes just like  your old wheaty friends but so so much safer!

Originally posted in winter of 2015. Minor changes to text, not to recipe.

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Chocolate Chippers that Please Everyone!

If you are searching for the holy grail of GF cooking: chocolate chip cookies, search no further.  Bet you thought I was going to say some sort of bread!  That’s another post entirely.  Anyway, when I went GF 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 over 3 years.  Missed them….desperately.  Store ones are small, hard, drab in flavor and incredibly pricy.

So one day 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.

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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!

2018 Update: for my batch today I swapped out 1/4 cup butter for 2 Tbsp. softened cream cheese, used only 3/4 cup brown sugar, and I added 1/4 cup golden flax meal and 1/2 cup old fashioned oats. Plus I used a bit less than the full 2 cups of chocolate chips; 1 3/4 cups is good. I used pecans instead of walnuts. I formed and then chilled them really well in my freezer on a parchment lined sheet pan as many comments on the King Arthur site said they were best if not made right away; well chilled and rested makes for the best flavor and texture.   They were a bit taller than last batch, not quite as crisp; more cakey and the flavor was great. The cream cheese and oats make them a bit less oily/greasy and less sugar makes my blood sugar better.  I prefer slightly less sweet than most recipes.

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, September 2016.  A few minor changes.

Chicken Curry; Almost In a Hurry!

Curry is such a treat: smells incredible cooking, such a fun experience to make and full of marvelous flavor. Going gluten free has kept me from eating Indian food out, as much of restaurant cooking can contain wheat based flours.  So, making it myself is the best, cheapest option. I have been cooking Indian food for decades. First vegetarian and then I added meat/poultry or fish based curries to my repertoire. My favorites include this recipe that I am sharing today. It is relatively simple curry and despite all the spices, there isn’t that much fancy cooking involved. A week ago I made it for a friend who was visiting from out of state and she loved it, practically polished her plate! I served it with a simple salad of thinly sliced radishes and raw zucchini with a dressing made of EVOL and fresh Meyer lemon juice.  Just a touch of kosher salt and some fresh pepper and I whisked that dressing until it was really thick. It made a good counterpoint to the spicy highly-flavored curry. You could use slices of European cucumber which I often do.

This is made with chicken pieces, my favorite being thighs; bone in. You could make it with any cut you like but if you go boneless I strongly suggest lowering the cooking time somewhat. Skin on or removed; your choice. I generally leave it on as it adds flavor and moistens the thigh but if you are dieting, it can be removed.

You can’t make this with “curry powder” – it just must have the correct spices. I do have trouble getting inexpensive spices due to cross contamination and even just simply labels that say wheat added. It is incredibly annoying to buy coriander and get home and notice that it says wheat added to it. This happened to me last week; bought it at Giant grocery store in the Hispanic section; Badia label; be very careful if you buy that brand. I recommend McCormick single spices or Simply Organic (found at Wegmans); pricy but generally high quality and safe for celiac sufferers who love cooking spicy food!

My recipe is out of an old cookbook by Charmine Solomon; “Indian Cooking for Pleasure”, published in 1978.  I looked for a new copy on Amazon and it would cost a minimum of $82! I think I paid $10 or $15 for it new back then. Crazy price now; but it is considered the gold standard that all other Indian cookbooks are measured against so clean copies seem to be much sought after. Maybe it will be reissued… I could use a new copy; mine is a bit of a mess from 30 years of hard usage but then, I would lose all my handwritten notes so, nope on that! I did alter it slightly as I made it for 4 servings rather than six and I think my version is not quite as spicy as hers. If you want super spicy add a fourth more of each spice. This recipe is native to the province of Uttar Pradesh.

Notes: I used canned tomatoes for this recipe but, in the summer I always use fresh tomatoes when available. Plum tomatoes work well if ripe summer ones are not around and you want fresh.

chicken dopizia curry

Not the prettiest entree but I promise you it will be one of the most flavorful you ever eat!

Chicken Dopiaza (serves 4)

4 good sized chicken thighs

3 large onions

2 medium or one large medium spicy fresh pepper like a poblano; not a hot one though!

2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 ½ tsp. ground coriander

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cardamom

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

¾ of a can of chopped tomatoes or 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

½ cup water

1 ½ tsp. sea salt

Directions: Sauté half the onions in a large frying pan which you heated and added the olive oil to it. Keep stirring them. You want a mostly caramelized end result.  May take 15-18 minutes.  Remove from pan using a slotted spoon so you leave behind some of the oil and set aside for adding back near the end of this process.

While the onions are caramelizing…to your blender add the rest of the (raw) onions, the chopped hot pepper, the fresh garlic, fresh ginger and about ¼ cup water. Blend to a thick puree; if you need a bit more water to make that happen okay but don’t add a lot.  Pour that into the hot pan that you just removed the caramelized onions and add all the spices.  Stir as it cooks…let it darken and the oil will show a touch around the edges.  Add the tomatoes, stir and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat them with the puree. Add water and salt. Cover and cook about 35 minutes until chicken is tender. Add the onions back in the last 4-5 minutes.  Cook maybe 5 more minutes.  Serve with rice or Indian bread like parathas.  I haven’t made any gf parathas yet.  Soon!  This goes well with a cucumber salad or some steamed snap peas as I show in my photograph of my supper before I dived in! Enjoy!

Delish Apple Galette

If you don’t have enough apples for a pie or the time necessary for that project you can make this quick and delightful free form apple galette. I made it round but you could go oval. It only takes 3 apples and no need for a top crust. It is the same crust I always use but I did leave out the sweet rice flour which gave it a bit more firmness; up to you whether you use it.

Please use Granny Smith; you need a firm baking apple that will hold its shape for a long bake. You could leave off the sprinkle of coarse sugar but why? It adds a great crunch and looks perfect; finishes it just like a bakery might.   This might be my favorite new dessert; easy, low on the sugar and oh so delightful.  Still,  you could use less sugar if you want; maybe cut to a third of a cup. I used organic sugar and I think it made it taste just a tiny bit better for that!

Delish Apple Galette

 

Crust:

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

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour (I left out)

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp. cinnamon

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Line a 15 inch pizza pan with parchment paper.  Can used a thick cookie sheet; preferably with edges. I used my silicon sheet cover but frankly it got all covered with dark brown hard sugar from leaks; a pain to clean it; go with the parchment paper!

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.  Then roll out and put on the parchment lined pan; put back in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

3 large Granny Smith apples

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

½ cup sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

Sprinkle nutmeg

Zest of ½ a lemon

1 Tbsp. white rice flour

1 medium or small egg; beat up to make an egg wash

1 Tbsp. coarse sugar

Directions: Peel apples, cut in quarters, remove cores, cut each quarter into 3 or 4 slices. Place in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice.  Mix the dry ingredients in a cup; pour over the slices, toss with a big spoon; sprinkle with the zest.

Get out the tart crust and sprinkle it with the white rice flour, just in the area you are going to lay out slices; not the edges.  Then lay out the apple slices in a big circle0  Leave 1.5-2 inches of crust around the slices, put slices in the center too. One layer only.. Fold up the edges of your crust and pinch together to create the galette shape. Try not to let it crack at the bottom; pinch and fix those cracks! Use a pastry brush to brush the crust and fruit with the egg wash. Sprinkle the coarse sugar over it all including the crust.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in a 350 degree oven. The crust should be lightly browned and filling bubbling. If sugar leaked out just break off the brown bits before serving. Let your tart rest a bit; don’t serve hot but a warm slice will be awesome.  Slice and top with a big dollop of crème or yogurt if you like that sort of thing.  We ate it plain – just my favorite way to appreciate the flavor and texture of this awesome tart. Enjoy!

apple galette slice

Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur basic gf blend)

2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch – not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour

The crust recipe is from Annalise Roberts great cookbook, GF Baking Classics, Second Edition.

Stormy Day Bean Soup

Another stormy day!  It’s time for another hearty one pot meal.  This one is my multi-bean soup with Italian sausage.  I started with a 1 lb 4 oz bag of 15 bean mix   If you have celiac most 16 or 15 bean mixtures for soups contain barley which we are hugely allergic to.  I found Hurts’s HamBeens 15 Bean Soup mix at Giant grocery store that was marked gf.  I did not use the seasoning packet that came with it.  Same brand I used last time.

My soup has Italian sausage but you can leave that out if you want a vegetarian version. I personally love sausage in a bean stew. Gives you lots of meaty flavor and a healthy dose of protein. I am guessing you could use other things like smoky ham chunks or maybe a ham hock?

I enjoyed a hot bowl of this pottage with a slice of toasted multigrain gf bread.  It made a full meal without anything else being necessary.   A fresh crunchy salad would go well if you want to round your dining experience out with some greens!

Fifteen Bean Soup with Sausage

Soak 1 pound 4 oz (typical bag size) of dried mixed beans in filtered water to cover.  Soak it for an hour or try the overnight treatment.  Bring to a boil and let stand an hour or just let stand in the cold water overnight.  I did the quick version.  Be sure to drain them well and rinse with sink sprayer before returning the swollen legumes to the carefully rinsed out  pot.  Cover with fresh filtered water and add a bay leaf.  Cook 2 hours, pour in more water as needed and stir so it doesn’t stick or burn, cook another hour until the beans are nearly tender.  It is hard to say when beans get done, depends on a number of factors, taste often to check for tenderness. And stir that pot! As they approach that almost done spot start the rest of the dish, get everything chopped up and ready to toss in when the beans have reached the two hour mark.

Chop into dice:

3 sizable carrots

1 large onion

Mince: 2 big garlic cloves

Add the veggies to the pot, stir and cook 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add water if needed.  I like the soup thick but it can’t be solid so add water.

As that cooks, start the sausage.  Sauté one lb Italian sausage: brown in a Teflon pan with a touch of olive oil until top and bottom are browned and sausage is mostly done. Let cool a bit and slice into rounds or chunks, set aside.

Add the following to the soup:

½ a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

½ tsp. dried oregano

Sprinkle dried basil

¼ tsp smoked paprika

½ bunch of kale leaves cut into big shreds; I cut off the bigger stems as they can be tough.

1-2 tsp sea salt

Some fresh ground black pepper

Cook ten minutes, add more water if it gets too thick. Stir occasionally.  Taste and add more spice if you think the soup needs more. Add the sliced sausage and cook five – ten minutes more.  A total cooking time could be from 2.5-3 hours, depending on your beans.  If they have been sitting in the pantry for many months they take longer to cook to a tender texture.

Taste and add more salt/pepper as you see necessary.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before ladling out.  Now that is comfort food that is good for you too!

Originally posted February 2015

Kitchen Sink Energy Cookies

Always on the lookout for tasty, low sugar, gluten free snacks I made these kitchen sink cookies the other day. It was not a gf recipe but I made it so with a few adjustments and additions to suit my taste.  I used half sunflower seed butter and half chunky peanut butter. This produced a faint peanut buttery taste which I liked: I didn’t have that much sunflower seed butter on hand. They are fairly interchangeable in baking cookies. I used blueberry flavored dried cranberries. They are just one of the many flavors in these yummy treats. I suggest you can swap things out for similar quantities of additions. Or leave something out that you don’t care for.  They blend remarkably well into a delightfully tender result. I was delighted that they were not heavy from all those trail mix sort of ingredients. One cookie is just enough to hold me for a while until an actual mealtime is there…keeps the blood sugar fairly level.

I froze most of them for future enjoyment. I wouldn’t freeze for more than 2-3 months.

kitchen sink cookies

Trail Mix Cookies

Yield:  2 ½ dozen

Ingredients:

1 cup sunflower seed butter or half cup each of that and peanut butter

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup dates, chopped, I chopped whole soft dried figs

¼ cup sunflower seeds or slivered almonds (I used almonds)

½ cup raisins

¼ cup maple syrup

1 extra large egg

½ tsp vanilla

1/2 cup gf flour mix (I used King Arthur Basic Mix)

1/2 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1-2 Tbsp. chopped crystalized ginger (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon liners.

Place all of the ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until the ingredients are well incorporated. Drop generous tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets or. Bake for 12—14 minutes until cookies are set, but still soft.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet.  Store in airtight cookie jar or freeze in appropriate freezer containers; for no more than 3 months. Enjoy!

Blueberry Ricotta Tart

In search of a dessert that uses what I have on hand. Too cold to head out to the grocery store… So, I had a container of ricotta about to reach its expiration date, frozen blueberries, eggs, sugar and crust materials. Saw a tart recipe, adapted it slightly to make it gluten free and I wanted a touch of lemon. Used my favorite gf shortbread cookie crust for tarts. Added some lemon extract to the filling for that desired lemony flavor. I used to make a similar tart when I still ate gluten; this replication came out just perfect.

Boom! A great quick tart that is not too sweet and has a lighter texture due to the ricotta; my old tart was made with cream cheese; heavier. Plus, I didn’t have to buy any ingredients!

I used a long rectangular pan to create mine but you can use a round one if that is what you have. I just enjoy the rectangular pan as I can cut it across into bars; easy to eat with fingers if you cut your bar in half to make two squares. Plus it looks awesome…. blueberry ricotta tart

blueberry ricotta tart slice

Notes; you can leave out the lemon extract if you don’t want that flavor. I used King Arthur’s basic gf flour blend, the one that is just flours, no xanthan in it. I used blueberries but I am sure you could make this with raspberries or a mixture of the two.

I used my awesome new kitchen scale to weigh out the ricotta. I got it for Christmas from my sister, Elaine. Guessing that she noticed that my old scale was ancient and inefficient: from decades ago and so got me this futuristic one that can weigh in ounces or grams! I think it is gorgeous; bonus….scale.jpg

The ricotta was in a 15 ounce container so I have a little leftover. Might make a tiny bit of dip for crackers. Or maybe an egg custard for breakfast tomorrow…hmmm.
Ricotta Blueberry Tart

Cookie crust:

1 cup brown rice blend

1 tsp. xanthan gum

¼ cup sugar

5 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 10 pieces or more

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1-2 tsp. water

Mix the dry ingredients in stand mixer bowl.  Add the butter, mix until fine like sand.  Add extract and water. Blend briefly.  Spray pan with cooking spray.  Sprinkle in the mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Press lightly in with your hands. DO not press too hard or it becomes way too firm.

Filling:

12 ounces of ricotta cheese, whole milk is best

3 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. lemon extract

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Pinch sea salt

1 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, I used frozen

Mix ricotta with eggs and rest of ingredients except fruit; can use same bowl with your stand mixer.  Carefully pour into the tart crust. Top with the berries. If you have too much liquid filling as I did: pour rest into a small low casserole and top with ¼ of the berries; bake that small pan about 25-30 minutes. Bonus treat!

Bake tart 50 min at 375 degrees. It should be fairly firm in the center.  Let cool before slicing.  You can sprinkle it with powdered sugar if desired. I was so eager to try it I totally forgot to do this! Enjoy.

GF Flour blend (if you want to make it yourself)

2 cups brown rice flour

2/3 cup potato starch

1/3 cup tapioca starch