Gluten-free cornbread from Celiac Teen

I worked Sunday so I have today off for a rare chance to actually play and experiment for a weeknight dinner. I’m making Pozole Rojo for dinner tonight and decided it was a good opportunity to try out a gluten free cornbread recipe. Several looked promising, but I picked the one I saw at Celiac Teen because it uses millet flour. And I love Monty Python. “Tasty millet seed. Yum yum.” (That’s actually what my jar of millet flour is labeled.)

The recipe is here.

I followed it to the letter with two very predictable exceptions:

  • Where it calls for milk, I used Coconut Beverage.
  • Where it calls for butter, I used soy-free Earth Balance.

The verdict? If you like light and fluffy, sweet cornbread, this is for you. If you want something that closely resembles a corn muffin, except not as sweetly cloying, this will be perfect. However, I was looking for a more savory, heavy, stick-to-your ribs cornbread, so I was a little disappointed.

Like all white rice flour recipes I’ve tried so far, it has a tiny tendency to stick in the back of your throat. Next time I am going to try making it with brown rice flour.

So… not a fail, but not an Epic Win either.

Spouse just got home and says that while it’s not the best cornbread he’s ever had, it’s better than most. I think I agree with him.

One last Epic Fail before bed

… and we’re done with failure for the time being!

The Spouse, before coffee, is a bit unpredictable. Some mornings he will rise up with a song bad joke in his heart and a smile affable grunt for everyone he meets. Namely, the cats, because I technically count as an inanimate object until about an hour after I’ve gotten to work. This morning, Spouse resembled me.

This morning, Spouse decided that the best thing to do for his growling stomach was throw together a cucumber-dill sandwich with a smear of cream cheese on rustic peasant bread. Rustic, wheaty peasant bread. Rustic, wheaty peasant bread which he unthinkingly sliced on one of my new color coded gluten free cutting boards.

Clearly, when we move into a house and have a Real Kitchen (TM), I am going to have to Take Measures. In the meantime, Spouse has procured for himself a nice cheeseboard, and I have 1 and 2/3 sets of non-skid gluten free cutting boards. :p

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy, etc.

RIP Plum Sexy Crazy :'(

I ran my new favorite (not so cheap!) lipstick through the dryer today. Now all my underwear are no longer black, but black with crazy sexy plummy spots. My jeans made it ok, by some miracle. But now I am sans lipstick because Red Apple Lipstick is out of stock of that color (because apparently I am not the only customer with exquisite taste in razzle-dazzle, not-quite-but-almost-vampy colors.)

This on the same day that Jay (the owner) emailed me an order confirmation with a little personal note to the effect of, “Seriously, girl? Four orders in less than two months?” Yes Jay, and it will be five as soon as you can whip up another batch of my signature color.❤

Weep for me, O Reader!

 

… Epic Win Spouse did not yell at me for ruining his shirt, or give me sideeye for my histrionics, and when I railed against the unfairness of the universe that took my FAVORITE lipstick from me, he quite sensibly pointed out that of course it would be my favorite lipstick, because that’s the one I don’t leave safely home in my dresser drawer!

Dutch Babies (a.k.a. German Apple Pancakes)

A Prologue Written After the Fact

Dutch Babies are relatives of the German Pfannkuchen, which are in turn relatives of French crepes. They are also, I find out belatedly, an especially eggy, sweet variation on the popover, and suddenly everything starts making sense. Read on…

Background and A False Start

I grew up begging my Dad to make German Pancakes all the time, but he only had time to make them on weekends. I haven’t managed to master his way of doing it, which is less of a recipe than an ever-evolving method that he can’t articulate because he always does it before coffee. But eventually I did arrive at a completely different recipe for the same thing by hybridizing a number of online Dutch Baby and German Pancake recipes. And then I became gluten-free.

My first mistake was to ditch my recipe and try to find a GF Dutch Baby recipe. No real luck there – the ones I found used flour mixes that I would have had to purchase, or they just didn’t look right. But I’m a big fan of Alton Brown, so I took his Dutch Baby recipe and subbed in the usual dairy-free options and the flours and starches mix from the best-looking GF Dutch Baby recipe, which was at0micgirl’s at GroupRecipes.com.

It was… adequate. A little too doughy though.

Epiphany!

Back to my original Dutch Baby recipe, but what to use for flours? It occurred to me while I was noshing on another batch of GlutenFreeEasily’s popovers, that Shirley’s 3:2 white rice and cornstarch blend would probably do nicely. BINGO!

Gluten Free Dutch Babies Recipe

  • 4 Tbsp. soy free Earth Balance
  • 3 small or 2 large tart apples*
  • 3/4 cup of Shirley’s popover flour blend, which is 3 parts white rice flour to 2 parts cornstarch
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Beverage
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 generous tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (or more) cinnamon sugar

Preheat your oven to 400F. Slice your apples very thin or dice them.

Put 2 Tbsp of soy free Earth Balance in each of two 9 inch round cake pans or pie plates and put them in the oven to melt. Meanwhile, whisk or blend 4 eggs, 3/4 cup “milk,” 3/4 cup of the flour mixture, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 generous tsp. vanilla.

Take the pans out, tilt them to level out the “butter,” and spread the apples evenly around the bottom. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar over them (about 1/8 cup per pancake). Then pour the batter evenly over the apples and cinnamon sugar and tilt and tap the pans to level it off.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for a minute, cut into wedges and plate. Or, you know, do what I did, make a complete mess of it and tell your spouse that it’s meant to look like that.

Sprinkle with a little more cinnamon sugar at the table.

Notes:

For apples, I used Granny Smith, but only because it’s not apple season, so it’s hard to find my favorite Winesaps and Northern Spies and Belle de Boskoops. For the “milk,” you could also use almond milk or rice milk. For sugar, I like to use Florida Crystals because of their taste and packaging. If you react to grain-based alcohols, you will react to vanilla extract, so you can make your own using potato vodka or rum. Especially rum. For the cinnamon, Penzey’s Spices have no gluteny fillers, are the best I’ve ever found, and aren’t all that expensive if you buy them by the ziplock baggie instead of the jar.

People also make Dutch Babies with pears and a nutmeg-cinnamon mixture instead of apples and cinnamon. Or they make them without any fruit at all, and then drizzle a lemon glaze over the top.

Nuts: lessons learned

Nuts have all sorts of minerals and healthy fats. They’re delicious, and nut meals make wonderful baked goods. However!

  • Nuts contain a great deal of dietary fiber, particularly almonds.
  • Nuts contain lectins, which can cause “digestion and immune distress,” possibly by interfering with the repair of damaged epithelial cells in the digestive tract. Exactly the opposite of what a person recovering from celiac damage would want.
  • Nuts contain tannins, which inhibit digestion and can irritate the stomach.

If you are eating baked goods made from almond flour, Uberbars made from nuts to tide you over between meals, and handfuls of delicious curried cashews because, hello? they are delicious!, then you may discover what I discovered: There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Like nuts. Or “regularity.”

Many people recommend soaking nuts for 18 hours to leech out the tannins and lectins, and then drying them in a low oven or dehydrator. I think I am going to stick with eating nuts as a “sometimes” food instead of a staple.

 

Color-coded Gluten Free Kitchen

One thing I was not expecting was to have to buy almost all new cookware. We’re trying to save for a house, so finding that out was like sitting on a cold toilet seat.

I first read it at About.com – Equipping Your Gluten Free Kitchen. I thought it was maybe overstating things, so I talked to my friends Allyson and Nuri (hi Allyson! hi Nuri!) who have been gluten free a long time and always do their research. Alas, About.com was not overstating things. If you are going gluten free for celiac disease (or even if you have non-celiac gluten intolerance and react to cross-contamination and microcontamination) then you need to get rid of:

  • your toaster or toaster oven
  • cast iron (Although, if you have a way of heating it to 900F, you can do that and then re-season it. Apparently that’s how hot it needs to get to sweat out the seasoning with all its contaminants.)
  • unglazed earthenware or stoneware
  • wooden or bamboo utensils
  • cutting boards unless they’re glass… and you shouldn’t be cutting on a glass cutting board anyway. It ruins your knives.
  • plastic, vinyl, and melamine cookware, unless they don’t have any scratches, dings, gouges, etc.
  • non-stick cookware (unless the surface is flawless. Fortunately our expensive set of lightweight camping pots and pans are fine, but all the kitchen stuff was scratched and pocked. Which is bad anyway. You are not supposed to eat Teflon or any of its chemical relatives.)
  • anything with crevices you can’t readily clean, like my mesh strainer
  • sponges and dish wipers
  • jam that a knife has double-dipped; ketchup bottles whose nozzles have touched the food; sugar you scooped with the floury measuring cup; it goes on

Fine to keep:

  • stainless steel; any nonporous metal
  • glass and vitrelle (Corelle)
  • ceramic-glazed cast iron, as long as it’s not chipped
  • non-stick or plastic cookware that has no pocks or scratches

If you are going to continue having gluten in your kitchen, it needs to be quarantined. It is much better to put the gluteny foods in one area and leave the rest of the kitchen gluten free than the other way around. It may seem unfair if you have only one person in the house that can’t handle gluten and everybody else can. But what’s really unfair is that if wheat cross-contamination gets into my food, I am in pain in the bathroom for hours and uncomfortable and not very functional for days. I usually get a migraine and a bout of fierce irritability. Not to mention, celiac disease means your immune system attacks the insides of your intestines, sometimes to the point that you bleed internally. It leads to nutrient deficiencies, skin problems, dental problems, hypersensitivities and allergies to odd things (because your damaged guts don’t do their job keeping large molecules out of your bloodstream), and even, sometimes, in the long run, cancer. So tell your housemates to make do with their wheat ghetto, and do not feel even slightly guilty about it.

Once you have gotten rid of your contaminated ingredients (or quarantined them in one corner of the kitchen) you need to deep-clean your kitchen, starting at the ceiling and working your way down. Scour underneath. Scour inside. Vacuum, scrub scrub scrub, rinse, wipe. Make with the old toothbrush and toothpicks to get all the gunk out of every crack and crevice. If you’re really sensitive, you might want to wear gloves and a facemask while you do this.

Really the process is almost identical to bedikat chametz (the way you prevent leavened bread from getting into your food during Passover) but unless you’re Orthodox Jewish, you might not know how that works. Seriously, read Passover Cleaning Made Easy. It is great advice for somebody creating a newly gluten free kitchen. When they say “bread taste” they might as well be saying “micro contamination.” The ancient Talmud scholars definitely were onto something.

Next, you need some way of telling strangers and flakey people who come into your kitchen that they can’t use your safe cookware for their gluteny gastronomy. You can do that by banning gluten ingredients altogether, keeping gluten cookware in its own area, or color coding. There are also little tags and labels you can use, but I think they look like a pain in the butt.

Justin and I are going with the color coding scheme. Everything that’s safe for me is going to be blue. (Obviously not the knives, glass, and stainless, because that comes clean in the wash, so it can be used for both.) Even my cast iron is going to have blue silicone heat-proof handles. We’re going to have a gluteny sponge in a red sponge-holder and a me-safe sponge in a blue sponge-holder. When I get my collection of stoneware baking pieces, I will put a dot of blue enamel touch-up paint on a surface that doesn’t touch any of the food.

I like blue. Justin likes blue. Both of us like me not getting sick.

Drop Biscuits

While I didn’t marry my husband for his biscuits, I did start considering him as a serious prospect around the same time that he first made me biscuits (third date-ish?) Coincidence? You decide.

Biscuits are a big deal for us. Justin’s biscuits are simply the best drop-style biscuits you will ever eat. When I realized that I would have to eliminate dairy, years ago, we learned to work around that. And then I found out I couldn’t have gluten anymore and my heart almost cracked in two. But, as it turns out, this recipe is so good that they’re almost indistinguishable from Justin’s secret recipe. If anything, Justin thinks they’re a tiny bit more tender and delicately sweet-savory. (That’s the sorghum.)

The only downside is that, like so many gluten free baked goods, they just do not brown up the same way. You won’t get the same golden-brown horns that you would with a wheat recipe, but they do darken up enough to look cooked and have a thin crispness to bite through before your teeth sink into the moist and toothsome interior.

They are very light, very flavorful, very tender. Really, they’re perfect in every way. Holy crap.

Obviously they’re best fresh out of the oven, but they keep overnight pretty well, and are readily resurrected by splitting them in half, buttering them, and letting them sizzle in the skillet for a few minutes.

What I did

I modified the recipe from Gluten Free Cooking School – http://www.glutenfreecookingschool.com/archives/light-and-fluffy-gluten-free-biscuits/

I used sorghum, not soy flour; potato starch, not corn starch; almond milk and plain goat’s milk yogurt, not soy milk and vinegar. I increased the amount of butter (well, soy free Earth Balance, which always necessitates scanting any salt measure because it is a very salty margarine) by half and eliminated the puzzling water. WATER in biscuits?! In fact, I left that out without actually meaning to. My eyes just skipped over that nonsensical ingredient.

Recipe

1 1/2 c. brown rice flour
2 c. potato starch
1/2 c. sorghum flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. xanthan gum
8 Tbsp Soy Free Earth Balance (keep it cold in the fridge until the last minute)
1/4 cup plain goat’s milk yogurt
1 cup almond milk
1 beaten egg

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Then whisk together your brown rice flour, sorghum flour, corn starch, salt, baking soda, and xanthan gum.

Next use a pastry cutter to cut your COLD soy free Earth Balance into the flour mixture.

Add the yogurt, almond milk, and egg to that and stir it until it’s well combined. Be quick about it – you don’t want your Earth Balance to melt.

Drop big spoons of it onto a buttered pan.

Bake at 350F for 15 minutes until golden brown. (If you have bigger biscuits, or they are very close together, it will take longer.)