All Purpose Gluten Free Flour, Part 1

I have always been a baker. I have baked a batch of cookies, muffins or something at least once a week for close to thee decades. When my sons were very little, I would bake mini muffins to bring with us on play dates. Later on, when my boys started school, there was a strict “No Nuts” policy in effect. This was before the grocery stores began to carry a plethora of guaranteed peanut free baked goods, so I baked to add “fun stuff” to their lunches. At one point I could whip off a batch of mini muffins in the time it took to brew my morning pot of coffee. : )

Then I went gluten free…

In my early gluten free days, I went through a massive case of what I can only describe as “baker’s withdrawal”.

It seemed like every time I wanted to bake something as simple as a chocolate chip cookie, I had to have a  shop full of specialty flours. Each recipe I found required a different blend. It was frustrating, to say the least. I wanted to find one blend I could use for many of my recipes. I had tried a few gluten free “all purpose blends”, but they tended to be have a “beanie” after taste or the textures were gritty. I didn’t want either in my treats. I also wanted a flour blend that I could have on hand in larger quantities.

Today I thought I’d do a post on one of the most important ingredients I keep in my kitchen.

All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

I have two, hands-down, guaranteed to work, favourite flour blends that work as cup for cup substitutions for wheat flour.

The first one is my go-to blend for cookies, sponge style cakes, thickeners and waffles. It is also a major ingredient in my muffin recipes. The key is using a very fine grind of brown rice flour. Use this blend, cup for cup in place of wheat flour. However, if the recipe you use this in has salt as an ingredient, I would omit the salt as there is salt already in this blend. I use this blend in:

GF/DF Spiced Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

GF/DF Happy Cranberry Quinoa Cookies

Dee’s “Quick & Easy” GF/DF Breakfast Waffles

All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

tapioca flour
brown rice flour
potato starch (not flour!)
3 xanthan gum
salt

 

An excellent flour blend for cookies, waffles and light cakes!

An excellent flour blend for cookies, waffles and light cakes!

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Happy Gluten & Dairy Free Cranberry Quinoa Cookies

To start today’s post off I’d like to apologize for the unexpected hiatus last week. I mentioned in my earlier post “In The Beginning Part 2” that I suffer from sinus polyps. Often I am treated with Prednisone, which is a  (a type of anti inflammatory medication), to shrink the polyps. I can’t take over the counter anti-inflammatory meds (like Aspirin) because they cause my asthma to go into overdrive, so to speak. I also take a regular asthma medication, which contains some corticosteroid too, to prevent attacks. In addition to that, I take a nasal spray to keep my sinus passages open and (you guessed it) that contains a corticosteroid also. Who knew that taking three different medications all containing corticosteroids, at the same time, could cause an adverse reaction?? If you or someone you know requires this type of medication to feel better, please send them to this link at MedlinePlus . The list of medications that contain corticosteroids is long and by no means complete….you may have to read the teeny tiny fine print on the medication to find it, but it’s worth it because the list of symptoms of over use range from simple dry skin to convulsions to psychosis. The last thing my family wants is for me to suffer from that last symptom….I’ve seen waaaay to many episodes of C.S.I, Criminal Minds and Hannibal for their liking. >; )

Of course, now that I know this…I can take greater care of myself. : )

Ok now, let’s move on to more Dee’Lectable topics.

Now that I feel more or less myself, I am all about the baking, the gluten and dairy free baking, that is.
I’ve been playing with recipes like Lemon Tart Cookies (with a lime variation too!), lots of muffins, and I’ve even decided to resume my search for a good GF/DF bread.

Today I want to share a recipe that I’ve been playing with for more than a year. I was inspired by a recipe in the January 2012 issue of Bon Appetite Magazine for Cranberry Quinoa Cookies.  These are meant to be cakey breakfast style cookies, reminiscent of hot bowl of cereal but portable.

Cranberry Quinoa Cookies
yield: Makes about 2 dozen

1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup fancy molasses
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1 cup gluten free oats, old-fashioned style
1 cup dried cranberries
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered unsalted almonds, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, both sugars, and molasses in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add eggs and extracts; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in quinoa, oats, cranberries, and almonds. Spoon dough in 2-tablespoon portions onto prepared sheets, spacing 1″ apart. Bake cookies until golden, 12–15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Gluten and dairy free cakey breakfast style cookies, reminiscent of hot bowl of cereal but portable!

Gluten and dairy free cakey breakfast style cookies, reminiscent of hot bowl of cereal but portable!

Fun, Nutritious, Portable Breakfast Style Cookies!

Fun, Nutritious, Portable Breakfast Style Cookies!

What’s Your Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies?

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One of my favourite things to do in the kitchen is bake. I find baking to be part alchemy, part chemistry, part artistry. Take a list or ingredients and add them together in just the right way, in just the right order and apply just the right amount of heat for just the right amount of time…and viola! You get something warm and delicious at the end. It’s like magic.

When I first switched to a gluten free diet, I was determined to find an all purpose flour recipe I could use to make delicious cookies. It took several (dozen?) trial batches to get things just right. My favourite mix is based on this recipe , by Silvanna Nardone. This recipe makes a big batch and works really well for cookies but I’ve tweaked it since the first time I tried it. Now I use brown rice flour in place of the white.

In my opinion, there is nothing as comforting, or decadent, as a freshly baked cookie, still warm from the oven and chocolate chip cookies are one of my favourites.

There are so many ways to make a chocolate chip cookie:

  • soft
  • crisp
  • with lots of vanilla
  • heavy on the brown sugar
  • with or without nuts
  • big or little chips
  • milk or dark chocolate
  • with exotic flavours like mint or cinnamon

Initially, I was so proud to be able to bake a delicious cookie that my family couldn’t tell was gluten and dairy free, I’d bake several batches a week. I kind of over did it for a while. Then, although I’d share them generously, I’d eat them and my waistline started to suffer…

These days, I try not to keep too many tempting sweets around the house. However, since I’ve had my sense of smell back, I have been craving my favourite chocolate chip cookie:

Spiced Orange Chocolate Chip

Gluten & Dairy Free Spiced Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten & Dairy Free Spiced Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

A classic combo of chocolate and orange with a hint of spice, these cookies are amazing with cup of tea or coffee. The recipe doubles easily and I rarely make a small batch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ c all purpose gluten free flour mix
  • ½ c brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ c sugar
  • 1/2 c dairy free all vegetable shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp grated orange rind
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp table salt
  • ¾ c pure semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F

In large bowl, beat both sugars and shortening. Add egg, orange rind and vanilla, beat until fluffy. In separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients except chocolate chips. Whisk to combine. Add to sugar mixture, mix well. Add Chips. Drop onto tray by rounded tablespoon, 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Enjoy and don’t forget to share!

I love reading feedback and getting your thoughts , so I’m gonna pose a question to you dear readers.

How do you like your chocolate chip cookies? Please take a moment to fill out the form

Smokin’ Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Here in the lovely province of Ontario Canada, folks are getting ready to celebrate the unofficial kick off to summer. The Monday preceding the 25th of May is the day we celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria Day also known as the May Long Weekend and the May 24.

As with any other holiday, you would expect the stores to be a little busier as people plan to host BBQ’s and entertain friends and family. You’ll find folks stocking up on extra groceries, charcoal for the ‘que, and of course, wine and spirits, in anticipation of stores being closed for the holiday.

Here in “Ontari-ari-ario”, we’re hitting the booze a little harder than usual though. You see, the main place for us to purchase alcohol is through the government owned and operated Liquor Control Board of Ontario (L.C.B.O). Yes, you read that correctly. I said “government owned and operated”. That means that the wonderful ladies and gentlemen who stock the shelves and total our purchases are government employees. They are also part of a union which is on the verge of going on strike as of midnight tonight. We also have a Beer Store that just sells, you guessed it, beer, but those folks aren’t currently in a position to strike. So, like many Ontarians, I popped into my local L.C.B.O. store to grab a few things, just in case.

Funny though, I don’t think of myself as much of a drinker. Make no mistake although I wouldn’t call it a cabinet, my liquor cupboard is never empty. I’ve been known to make a pretty good Daiquiri, Margarita and even the classic Bloody Caesar. What I found interesting was that as I was walked though the isles, I realized that if the L.C.B.O. workers do strike, it wouldn’t be too big a deal to me.

I mean, I gave up beer when I went gluten free (even though I am aware of some good gluten free brews, I’ve just lost interest) but I will happily have a glass of wine with dinner. I tend not to though, as most days when my sinuses are on the fritz, I can’t enjoy the flavour anyway. However, I do try to keep a couple bottles of wine on hand. I tend to cook with my booze more often than drink it. You know, white wine for risotto, red for tomato sauce and deglazing the pan after sautéing a steak. There was one thing I couldn’t leave the store without. I had to get a bottle of bourbon. Because this is the kickoff of summer and bbq season and that means bbq sauce. I know I’m gonna want to make a batch of my favourite Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Sauce. I use this on anything and everything. From burgers to ribs to chicken to cobs of corn and even peaches (yes, peaches!), it’s sweet, spicy, smoky, yumminess is unbelievable. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Smokin’ Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Sauce

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup bourbon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons mild (light) molasses
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons strong black coffee
1 tablespoon tamari sauce
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper, in adobo sauce, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring all ingredients to boil in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce is reduced to 2 cups, stirring often, about 10 minutes. This can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover; chill. Use at room temperature.

 

Smokin' Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Smokin’ Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Sauce

My Unconventional Love

Daily Prompt: Unconventional Love

Over the weekend, we explored different ways to love. Today, tell us about the most unconventional love in your life.”

What is unconventional love?

Hmmm before I can answer that, I need to define what conventional love is.

The Greeks have four words for describing love: affection, friendship, eros, and charity.

Affection– I think this is kind of like what you feel for your third cousin on your father’s side that you get along with or the fellow commuter you chat with everyday.

Friendship– We all know what this is. It’s the love you have for your best bud, the pal who has been with you through good and bad. They have your back and you have theirs and if you ever need to make an emergency call to someone, it’ll be this person.

Eros– Ah, romantic love. We’ve all had a Sweetie at some point in our lives….

Charity-The unconditional love you have for your child or for those in need.

If I base my idea of conventional love on the above definitions, then for love to be unconventional, it has to be something other than affectionate, friendly, romantic or charitable.

I think my love for cooking falls into the unconventional category.

Oh, I know we all have a need for sustenance and for most of us, preparing our food is a necessity. In fact, I know of several people who think of food as just a source of fuel to get them through the day. I also know folks who regard cooking a meal as “just another chore that needs to be done”. That’s not what I’m referring to here.

I really do mean I love cooking. I’m almost always cooking. My regular job is chef at a daycare, so from Mon-Fri, you’ll find me sneaking extra veggies into everything from pasta sauce to Sloppy Joes and adding extra protein and whole grains into muffins and cookies. When I’m not actually in a kitchen, I’m usually thinking about it. I’m constantly learning new techniques and skills. I am forever expanding my knowledge of different ingredients and cuisines. I love thinking about what would “go well with” this or that ingredient and I take great pleasure in passing along what I know about food and cooking to other people. Like you!

Asian Inspired Tilapia

I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself to write from inspiration I find outside my own kitchen.  However, for today’s post all I had to do to get inspired was to walk by my back door.

I feel I should preface.

A couple of weeks ago I posted here , about how I had started taking another , stronger,  prescription for Prednisone in the hope of shrinking my chronic nasal polyps that hinder  my sense of smell (among other things).

Well, so far, so good an knock on wood,  I’m off the pills, and will a little help from a prescription nasal spray, I’ve had my sense of smell back for a few weeks now. ( insert quiet , reserved Yippie here)Anyway, past experience has taught me that I should enjoy being able to smell while I can, because I could go back to being all stubbed up any minude.

So, last weekend, while enjoying the fantabulous spring weather and my ability to smell, my Sweetie and I went to the local Big Orange Box Store to get a few supplies to begin an herb & salad garden.  I now have a variety of  pots on my back deck full of the promise of tomatoes, peppers and lettuces as well as parsley, basil, cilantro, thyme and rosemary.

Makin' Salad On The Deck_2

My inspiration for today’s post came from the smell of cilantro and basil in the air after it rained this morning.

All I could think about all day was mixing those two flavours with a little lime and ginger and tamari.

The result? Asian Inspired Pan Fried Tilapia with Peppers and Snap Peas

Asian Inspired Pan Fried Tilapia

This was perfect portion for one, but could easily have been multiplied for more.

4 oz Tilapia fillet,
3 tbsp olive oil
1 stalk lemongrass
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 medium size leaves of fresh basil
1 tsp fresh cilantro
1 lime
kosher salt
2 tbsp gluten free tamari sauce
1 tsp Siracha or other hot sauce, optional
12  sugar snap peas
1/4- 1/2 of red pepper, thinly sliced

Peel off any dried leaves from the lemongrass. Bash the stalk with the back edge of your knife to release the flavours, then cut into 3 or 4 pieces, set aside.
Preheat a large pan over med high heat. Add oil to pan and saute peppers and snap peas together for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally,  to soften them up.  Add the garlic, ginger and lemongrass to the pan, continuing to toss the contents of the pan about, so nothing burns. Using a spatula, push the veggie mix off to one side of the pan.  If needed, add a little more oil to the pan then lay in the fish. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the flesh becomes opaque a bit more than half the way up the fillet. Turn the fish and cook for another minute. Roll the lime on the counter and cut in half. Squeeze lime juice over the fish and the veg, then drizzle with the tamari sauce.

I served this over a little Basmati rice infused with star anise and a piece of cinnamon stick, a drizzle each of tamari and siracha and sweet chili sauces.

Asian Inspired Pan Fried Tilapia_2

Sci-Fi Women and Waffles

While browsing through old Daily Prompt posts, looking for inspiration, I came across two ideas that stuck with me.

  1. Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?
  2. Head to one of your favorite blogs. Write a companion piece to their penultimate post.

I couldn’t get those ideas out of my head.  I have a number of books that I can read over and over. They’re like old friends. I spent a few days playing with how to approach topic #1, then I’d start thinking about topic #2. There are a number of blogs I visit, but recently there is one that stands out. Jack Flacco lives close enough to me that we share the same weather and radio stations. He also devotes Wednesdays to writing about cool fictional female characters in his “Women Who Wow Wednesdays” series of posts.

The books I tend to read over and over have powerful female characters.

Then I was hit by a lightening bolt. I’d combine the two ideas into one post.

The result follows:

I’m a bit of a sci-fi geek. I like Start Trek and Star Wars and I’ll watch or read pretty much anything involving space ships or time travel.  More so when there are strong female characters involved.

One of my all time favourite authors is the late Robert A. Heinlein. His alternate universe series is full of intelligent, independent, beautiful (on the inside and outside) women. One of my favourite Heinlein characters is Gwen Novak from a book I can read again and again; “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls”.

We first meet Gwen Novak as she is returning to the table of her swain Dr. Richard Ames, with whom she had been enjoying an evening of low gravity dinner theater in Golden Rule Space Colony, had being the imperative word.  While absent, a strange man quickly takes her spot, accosts her fella, then the stranger appears to be killed at the table, all within a few minutes. We soon find out that Gwen watched the stranger at the table with her beau Richard. Thinking it was Richard who killed the stranger, Gwen offers her place as a refuge for Richard to lay low. She then sends Richard on a bit of a goose chase, that leads him back to his own digs (to throw off anyone who may be following the good doctor), in order to keep him safe thereby showing her loyalty and her cleverness. When Gwen wakes the next morning it is to the smell of coffee and fresh waffles, made by Richard. From there, Gwen and Dr. Ames are set upon a fascinating adventure filled with danger and conspiracy that takes them from Golden Rule Colony, to various places, and dimensions. Further into the story we learn that Gwen can speak fluent Japanese, can square dance with ease, is an excellent shot, has no patience for laziness or poor hygiene (don’t we all?) and is actually a time travelling grandmother from an alternate future reality, sent to find and recruit Dr. Ames’ help with a plot to rescue a sentient computer known a Mike, in order to preserve human history.  How cool is she?

I think I want to time travel when I’m a grandma.

In the meantime, I’ll make waffles for my Sweetie.

Dee’s “Quick and Easy” Gluten & Dairy Free Breakfast Waffles

Makes 4-6
1 cup gluten free all purpose flour blend
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (if not included in your flour blend)
1 teaspoon double acting baking powder
pinch of salt
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus a little extra for brushing the iron
1 cup plain rice milk
1 large egg

Preheat waffle iron. If you want to hold the  finished waffles, preheat oven to 200°F.
In large bowl, whisk together first five ingredients. Pour in the milk, add the egg ad whisk, until ingredients are just combined. Gently stir in the oil.

Brush grids with a little oil and spoon a scant ½ c batter (or the amount recommended by your waffle iron’s manufacturer) onto the hot grids. Smooth batter to within a ¼ inch of the edges with a spatula or wooden spoon. Close lid and bake until brown and crisp.

Enjoy immediately. If holding, place in oven on a rack, in a single layer, while you make the remaining waffles.
Serve with maple syrup, berries, bacon, coffee or tea and your favourite juice.

Waffles_2a