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.

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!

Blueberry Tartlets That Thrill!


Blueberries rule my universe right now; plentiful and sweet.  The flavor can’t be beat. My guy loves them and I have to agree; they are the tastiest and healthiest fruit for me. Haha! Seriously this is all true and I am in love with these tartlets. The crust to fruit ratio is perfect and I made them with a minimum of sugar as these ripe berries are already quite sweet. I got my fruit at Aldi’s for a great price; every grocery store has blueberries by the pint, often on sale. They are very good for your body; full of fiber, low in sugar, and full of other nutrients. They are especially you have blood sugar issues.  See http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287710.php for more information.

Tips: Try not to bake in a hot kitchen; it makes it hard to roll out dough or even make the crumb mix. If it gets above 76 degrees you should turn on the air to keep your crust from acting weird.  I had to put mine in the freezer for a bit to help it hold the desired shape.

Don’t eat these tartlets fresh from the oven; they should be cooled to just warm or room temperature or even a bit chilled. They were perfect, just like a big pie only tiny each is one individual dessert.  You could certainly serve them with vanilla ice cream. We had them that way the other night and that was a treat indeed.

My apologies: these pictures were taken in a hurry; hot day and there was no spare time so they are looking rustic and crumbs dot the baking pan but frankly rustic tartlets are lovely. Be as tidy as fits your needs.

Angie’s GF Blueberry Crumb Tartlets: makes 6

Crust:

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

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. 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

You will need 6 flat bottom 4 inch tartlet pans if you make them all at once. My pans are 4 in an attached group. I baked 4 one day and 2 the next day

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:

2 1/3 cups fresh blueberries, place in medium bowl

Mix with:

6 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. quick tapioca

¼ tsp. cinnamon

Let stand while you prepare the crumb crust. This is important so the tapioca can soften and absorb some juices before baking. If you like things tart add a tsp or two of fresh lemon juice to the berries.

Tartlet construction: Break dough into a large ball and a small one. Roll out big ball in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even and somewhat thin, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in 4 set tartlet pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Cut into 4 pieces with a sharp knife. Mold the crust to fill each tartlet shape with no holes or thin spots. Do the same with the smaller ball and create 2 more tartlet crusts. If you only have one pan you can refrigerate the dough and make the two other tartlets later.  Fill each tartlet with fruit mixture to the top of the dough… after you have the crumb topping ready to go.

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 each tartlet with crumb mix; use as much as you like.  I didn’t measure; just sprinkled until the fruit was barely visible through the crumbs. Up to your personal taste… It sinks partially into the fruit mixture and adds lots of sweetness and eye appeal.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30-32 minutes until bubbly and the crumb crust is light brown.  Cool at least a half hour 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.

blueberry tartlet 2017

Note: if you find your bottom crust is not browning enough bake it empty at 375 degrees for 5-8 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. This is a big benefit of having this type of oven; it is a two oven range with a full sized lower oven.

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

Japanese Eggplants with Ground Chicken or Pork: Delightful!

There is this recipe for chowed eggplant with ground pork that I make often when I can find skinny Japanese eggplants. Chowed means stir fried.  It comes out great every time I make it, slight addiction is my position on this recipe. This latest version uses ground chicken thigh meat instead of ground pork. If you get tired of pork or don’t eat it this is an excellent choice.  I bought it at Valley Farm Markets; their meats can’t be beat for flavor and value! I suppose you can used ground chicken breast too. Anyway, it worked very well.

I added some sticks of fresh zucchini from my garden  and a bit of sliced cabbage.  It was delish for sure. The original recipe is by Jeff Smith, out of his cookbook, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines; China, Greece and Rome. It is full of great recipes; where I got my potsticker and other dim sum recipes.  No judging here of Chef Smith; just enjoying great food…

Notes; can change out zucchini and or cabbage, for green beans, carrots, pea pods…but you can’t change out the eggplant.  Ground pork is excellent this way as well. Can use yellow onion rather than green if you prefer; cook a bit longer than scallions if you do.  You could also serve this with rice noodles; the wide kind you let soak in boiling hot water for ten minutes; that’s all the cooking it needs.

Angie’s Eggplant with Ground Chicken

1 lb skinny Japanese eggplant

1 tsp salt

½ tsp. light soy sauce, gf

1 ½ tsp. dry sherry or rice wine

½ tsp. grated fresh ginger

½ lob ground chicken, preferably thigh meat

2 tbsp. mild olive oil or peanut oil

2 cloves of garlic minced

3-4 green onions sliced in 1 to 2 inch lengths and cut in half if white part

1 cup zucchini strips; long rectangle shape

2/3-1 cup sliced green cabbage; not too thin

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Pinch sugar

Directions:

Cut unpeeled eggplants into ½ inch thick diagonal slices and cut each in half the long way. Sprinkle with salt, let stand ½ hour draining in a colander.  Pat dry with paper towels.

Mix meat with soy sauce sherry and fresh ginger, let stand 20 to 30 minutes.

Slice or chop veggies.

Heat wok and add 1 tbsp. oil. Add ground meat mixture and flatten a bit; cook until browned lightly; flip over and brown other side; no pink showing; chop up with utensil and set aside.  Add rest of oil and then garlic, cook 30 seconds, add eggplant, cook until it appears more than half done; about 5 minutes; then add zucchini and cabbage, stir for 4-5 minutes, add sesame oil and green onions. Stir a minute, add pinch sugar, wok until cabbage is crisp tender.

eggplant stir fry on plate

Serve with brown or white rice.  I made my brown rice in my handy instant pot pressure cooker.  I did a cup of long grain brown rice, 1 ¼ cup water, 1 tsp. oil, ½ tsp. sea salt; Manual high pressure for 20 or so minutes, ten minutes natural release.  Easy peasy.


 

Tabouli Salad…GF of Course!

 

I love fresh summer salads on hot days, for parties, for supper alone or with a loved one. They pair well with grilled proteins and dress up a meal that was so so before you got out the chilled bowl of pretty salad.  There are a few salads I had to give up due to ingredients like bulgur wheat, farro, orzo pasta.  Or so I thought. I now use quinoa and make a wonderful tabouli salad; the quinoa replaces the bulgur wheat very nicely.  I particularly like the three color blend of quinoa for this purpose.  You cook it on the stove top, cool it few minutes and it is ready to use.  This quick to make and refreshing salad is very healthy. If you didn’t know it, quinoa comes from Peru and has a fair amount of protein in it; great for vegetarians. I like it’s refreshing flavors.

tabouli salad

Angie’s GF Tabouli Salad

Ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa

2 cups water

½ tsp. salt

——-

1/3 cup finely diced sweet onion

2/3 cup finely diced burpless cucumber

½ cup finely diced raw zucchini

1/3-1/2 finely diced orange bell pepper

1 large ripe tomato, diced

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint

3-4 tbsp. EVOL of excellent quality

2-3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

½ a lemon; juiced and zested

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:  Mix the quinoa, water and salt in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, cover tightly and cook 15 minutes. Uncover and cool.

Dump cooled quinoa in a large mixing bowl.  Add the veggies and drizzle with the olive oil and then sprinkle with the vinegar and lemon juice.  Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Chill at least 30 minutes before serving so flavors can blend and it chills. An hour is better.  My amounts for the veggies are approximate and if you don’t like something; don’t use it.  The mint is really what makes it taste perfect so try it before you decide to not use it. If you hate it; use fresh chopped parsley instead of mint.  I also don’t measure the oil and vinegar; taste and add more if you want more. Don’t make a sopping wet salad; shouldn’t be any extra dressing in the bottom of the bowl.  Put it in a nice serving dish before you bring it to the table. Chill the dish if it is a hot day.

Notes: I grate the lemon peel into the salad before I juice it, easiest. It keeps 2-3 days in the fridge; you could make it the day before if you need to.  For that add the tomato and mint the day you are serving it. Try to get a beautiful tomato that is fully ripe and a tender zucchini makes the best quality salad here. Yes, raw zucchini; it doesn’t taste like that much but it adds something to the mix and your company will never know it isn’t cuke if you don’t tell them!  Enjoy this naturally gluten free summer salad.

Chocolate Egg Cream – Thirst Quencher

Sometimes I want something chocolaty but I don’t want a brownie, chocolate pudding or ice cream or even a chocolate bar.  I am simply thirsty.  Hot days like today make a cool tall drink a life saver.  Those are the times I reach for my bottle of U-bet Chocolate Syrup.  Lickity split I can make an old school drink that is low sugar, low fat and thirst quenching; the venerable chocolate egg cream.  Funny thing is, there is no egg in it and often no cream.  I sometimes do use half and half but you can make this with any sort of milk you like, even one or two percent.  I do discourage the use of skim or non fat milk, at least a little richness is required. My favorite is whole milk.

The chocolate egg cream is allegedly from Brooklyn, NYC.  The New York Egg Cream is a variation of the milkshake popular back from the 1880s which had an egg beaten in it.  This version I have replicated became popular partially because it was cheaper for soda fountains to make because it had no egg.  I am not a big fan of raw eggs in my drinks so I am happy indeed that this “modern” version is sans egg!

I have been making it for years, one of my sisters taught me how.

This is such a simple recipe; get a tall glass, pour in ½ inch depth of some sort of milk, your choice of richness squirt about 1-2 tsp. of chocolate syrup on top, I used to use Hershey’s until I discovered U-Bet syrup which I think has a superior flavor.

 ubet syrupI never measure; just enough to flavor the milk, maybe two tsp.?  Stir them together well with an ice tea spoon, Add 3-6 ice cubes and fill the glass with well chilled seltzer water. Stir it again. I favor flavored seltzer, the raspberry or cranberry are particularly good for this drink as they add quite a bit of flavor and complexity to this simple little thirst quencher! Recently I tried watermelon seltzer and today, some mango seltzer.  A fresh bottle makes the foamiest egg cream so I recommend you splurge and start with a new bottle for your drink preparation. choco egg cream

Be sure to use a tall glass, it just won’t taste the same in a stubby little one!

So, next time you are longing for a light refreshing soft drink but one with a touch of chocolate, make a chocolate egg cream and smile because it is delicious, has no added sugar and if you use u-bet syrup and one percent milk it is pretty darn low fat!