Thursday, December 22, 2011

Quick Update

Exams are over, and I have finally recovered somewhat from the exhaustion.  So I will have to do some updates soon like...

...like add that picture of bread to the last post...

...actually post about Thanksgiving and the pies - one kind was great, the other the dogs thoroughly enjoyed...

...and my next project to do in the next two or three days, gluten-free dairy-free German Christmas cookies - first up: pfeffernüsse!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Taking it Easy - Adventures in Bread Machine Bread

Today is not a recipe day; today is an adventure day.

A few months ago I got a hand-me-down bread machine complete with all the essentials except a manuel.  I have finally gotten around to making bread in it.  I adapted a recipe at Gluten-Free Goddess to ingredients I had on hand.  One of the main ingredients that I do not have is millet flour.  I still haven’t found it, so I substituted brown rice flour.  The first time I ran it, I used the medium setting as recommended.  Other than it being a little dense - mostly due to my not knowing what the machine signals are for done (as far as the flashing light) so I left it sitting in the machine too long before transferring to the oven to finish it - it came out really well.  She gives a lot of useful tips for perfecting and adapting the loaf for the oven, etc.
I also recommend not deciding to find out how a bread machine without directions works when it gets to be 7:30 at night...that was a little crazy.
{Imagine picture here; I forgot to transfer 
photos before coming to school today.}
I have a funky bread machine with a bucket that gives you an upright round loaf. 
Round # 1 - (*not in original recipe)
Wet Ingredients (bowl one):  
1 1/4 cup warm water (110-115°F)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. (generous) of molasses*
1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1 egg* (she uses an egg substitute, and recommends 1 egg and 2 whites if using eggs.  I just did not feel like have two extra yolks in my morning omelet; the product did not seem to suffer.)
Dry Ingredients (whisked together in a second bowl):
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup brown rice flour*
2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
[[And somehow I never transcribed the salt... and I did not miss it.  This is the number one ingredient that I usually forget when I make a bread off the top of my head.]]
I put the wet ingredients in the bucket first, and added all the dry before starting the machine.  During the first round of kneading after the dough was incorporated, I scraped excess flour off the sides into the ball.  After the machine was done (when I finally realized the flashing light meant done, not processing) I put the loaf in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.  I did not slice it until the next morning when it was fully cooled.  I took off the slice with the dough blade and removed it; I am still using that slice to keep the bread fresh like I would do with any other loaf.  It is not practical for me to remove it from the loaf before the baking begins because of the design of the pan - a bucket.
I have enjoyed it with Olivio Coconut Spread and/or my fruit butter that I just made.
Round # 2 - Just a few slight changes from above; and I tested the dark cycle.
Wet - So, it is almost time for exams, and I can no longer comprehend half transcribed words.  I managed to add a half cup of rice wine vinegar instead of the half teaspoon before realizing what I did.
Dry - I added 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed for fiber and all the other good things they contain.  I love flax seeds!
After the above mentioned snafu, I adjusted by adding 1/2 half cup of my home mixed gluten-free all purpose flour, and added 1/4 cup of raw sugar into the liquid ingredients after I poured them into the bucket and turned on the cycle.
This time I added the dry ingredient one scoop at a time as the blade is running.  I also scraped the the sides when I was done adding the flour.  There were a few spots where flour was still not quite incorporated at the top, so I just gently pressed towards the blade with the flat side of the spatula and reshaped the top.  It looked like it would be a little stiffer dough than that in round one.  The first time I did it the cough looked to be about the right consistency, but was a little dense, mostly due to me I think.
The loaf came out looking good from the machine, but it did not quite sound hollow when knocked on, so i sat it upright on the oven rack to finish for 10 minutes.  It was still pale on top, but the sides were dark form the bucket.  After finishing in the oven, the top was a nice light brown color.  When I turned it over the next morning to remove the blade, I discovered that the bottom was not flat because the blade does a final momentary scrape of the bottom before the final rising.  I may try removing the blade in the future before this happens.  The first loaf did not have this problem.
This second loaf tastes great and has a much better crumb.  It is kind of sweet and sour (not like sour dough) after the accidental excessive vinegar.  The next time I feel like making it so sour, I may go for apple cider vinegar.
I plan to do at least one more post after Thanksgiving, about the holiday of course, but after that posts will be infrequent as final exams draw near.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apples and Pears, Oh My! Part 2

This is the second part of my fruit butter adventures.  The apple butter follows approximately the same process as the pear, but because there was less juice in the fruit, the water evaporated a little faster.  It came out tart, and the cinnamon is not overpowering.  I did not find a need to add sugar, but you can add sugar when it is done cooking if you want a sweeter product.


Yes, the skin is that red without added dye.



Cinnamon Apple Butter
~20 of your favorite apple sauce apples
1/4-1/2 cup real lemon juice
Organic Apple Juice - no sugar added  (I used Apple and Eve brand)
2 tbsp. cinnamon
  1. Peel, core, and chop up apples.  Use lemon juice to minimize oxidation while you work.
  2. Put in crock-pot.  You should go no higher than within an inch of the top.  I used a 5.5 quart crock-pot.
  3. Add enough apple juice to reach the top level of pears, but you do not need to cover. You can add some water if you do not have quite enough juice.
  4. Cook on low for up to 19 hours (assuming that you are sleeping or out of the house, otherwise you can use high).  Make sure to prop the lid slightly open to vent and let out moisture.  If you are doing a smaller batch, you can reduce time accordingly.  The whole mixture should reduce by about 1/3 before making your puree. 
  5. Run through a food mill or blender, and return sauce to crock-pot.  Add the cinnamon.
  6. Reduce by at least half or until you have a spreadable fruit sauce that is not runny.  You can use high or low depending on if you will be there to watch it.  (I ran it low in the evening and overnight because there was less juice in this sauce than in the pear.)
  7. Store in airtight containers in freezer or fridge.  



Apples ready to go.

The Next Morning


6PM the Next Evening - The pieces sticking to the side will bend in without difficulty. 
As you can see, there is less juice at this point than was in the pear butter.  



The Food Mill


Finished Apple Butter

Monday, November 14, 2011

Smoky Shells and "Cheese"

Yesterday was cooking day.  I prepared the meals that I would need for the week.  One of the dishes I made was a  macaroni and cheese inspired dish.  It reheats well, and seems to build flavor when you make it ahead.


Smoky Shells and Cheese


Two Cups Dry gf Shells (I used Tinkyada - Pasta Joy brand)
~3 cups almond milk
1/4 nutritional yeast
4 tbsp. Egg Replacer (dry - let soak in almond milk before beating)
One Package of Daiya Pepper Jack Style Cheese (they finally started to carry it at my store)
1 lb. favorite smoked sausage in pieces
2 tbsp. Sesame Oil
12" Saute Pan that is oven safe


Pre-heat over to 350°F.  Cook the pasta for half the time on the package; shock with cold water if you are not ready to transfer to saute pan right after cooking.  Saute the sausage in hot sesame oil.  Meanwhile, beat together the almond milk, nutritional yeast, and egg replacer; stir in cheese.  When sausage has browned, add pasta and stir quickly to keep from sticking, then add the liquid mixture.  Stir and cook on stove top until the cheese has melted and sauce becomes smooth.  Spread evenly in the pan, and transfer to oven to bake for 20 minutes or until set and golden at the edge.  


I cooked it last night, but did not have a full serving until lunch today.  It reheated well and tastes amazing. 





Thursday, November 10, 2011

Apples and Pears, Oh My! Part 1

This past weekend, my mom visited me and brought about a half a water bucket of pears, and a little less of apples from our ancient trees back home.  Back in the 1970's, when my parents bought the small farm that I grew up on, there was already an antique apple tree and two pear trees.  One of the pear trees and the apple tree still exist.  There are two other apple trees of six planted by my parents.  
The pears are a Kieffer Pear (cooking pear), that, while tasty raw, have a grainy texture.  Apparently it grows well both in the south and in the north.  It is usually used for canning.  Our horses also love them.  The apple tree produces tart Macintosh like apples with a soft milky texture.  They make a great apple sauce.  Of course our trees go unsprayed, so everything is edible.  
My mom gathered the fruit about a week before visiting me (right before the great October snow storm of 2011).  Therefore, I had to prepare it for storage quickly before it spoiled, and in a manner that is not labor intensive, given that I do not have time for making mincemeat or pies.  


Unsprayed, our fruit looks "unattractive," but this means that it is 
healthier to eat. 
Taking a cue from a similar dilemma that a friend of mine had a few weeks ago, I made pear butter and apple butter.  This normally labor intensive task can be made simple by using a crock-pot.  
First up:
Pear Butter with Ginger and Clove
Cooking Pears
1/4-1/2 cup real lemon juice
Organic Apple Juice - no sugar added  (I used Apple and Eve brand)
fresh minced or grated ginger (or dry if you want) [I keep ginger that I grated in a jar submersed in sherry in the fridge.]
ground cloves
  1. Peel, core, and chop up pears.  Use lemon juice to minimize oxidation while you work.
  2. Put in crock-pot.  You should go no higher than within an inch of the top.  I used a 5.5 quart crock-pot.
  3. Add enough apple juice to reach the top level of pears, but you do not need to cover. You can add some water if you do not have quite enough juice.
  4. Add ginger and cloves to taste.  I used about three tablespoons of my ginger sherry mixture (not the measuring spoon tablespoon, but the real tablespoon) and 1/8 heaping tablespoon ground cloves.
  5. Cook on low for up to 19 hours (assuming that you are sleeping or out of the house, otherwise you can use high).  Make sure to prop the lid slightly open to vent and let out moisture.  If you are doing a smaller batch, you can reduce time accordingly.  The whole mixture should reduce by about 1/3 before making your puree. 
  6. Run through a food mill or blender, and return sauce to crock-pot.
  7. Reduce by at least half or until you have a spreadable fruit sauce that is not runny.  You can use high or low depending on if you will be there to watch it.  (I ran it on high while I was up and low overnight.)
  8. Store in airtight containers in freezer or fridge.  



Starting out, the crock-pot if filled to within one inch of the top, and
the lid is propped open by a wooden spoon.



Nineteen hours on low, the volume has dropped by a third, and 
the edges have browned.  (I do stir it occasionally, but here it has been
sitting all day while I was out.)


A couple of hours after passing through a food mill, the sauce has been reducing on high.
I turned it back to low before I went to bed.


The fruit butter is ready after reducing overnight on low.


Fruit butter after stirring.  Looking just right.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quick Bread on a Whim

I had the itch to bake, so I made the following based on what I had available.  Ingredients in parenthesis are suggestions for alternate ingredients that I have not tested.
Poppy Seed Bread (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free)
Preheat oven at 350°F.  Grease a 9x5 loaf pan with preferred shortening.  
Blend together:
  • 1 - 12.5 oz. can of poppy seed filling (OR 1-2 cups poppy seeds and 1/2 cup sugar of choice [may need to adjust volume of flour] OR equivalent volume of homemade filling)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (OR apple cider vinegar)
  • (optional lemon zest to make a lemon poppy seed loaf)
  • 2 eggs (or equivalent substitute for binding)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract (You can leave out if you are using another flavoring extract like: lemon extract OR almond extract.)
  • 1/2 cup grape seed oil
Blend until seeds are well dispersed.


Sift together:
  • 2 cups sorghum flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp. xanthan gum (or 1/2 tbsp. guar gum)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • dash of salt (You can leave this out if you are watching salt intake.  The baking powder adds sodium.)
Flour can be roughly measured.  Stir into wet mixture.  It will not be batter like, but will not be very stiff.  It will be like a soft cookie dough.  


Pat into pan with spatula.  


Bake for 1 hour.  The top will be golden and knife inserted will come out clean.  Completely cool before slicing.  

The bread will rise nicely and have a nice fine crumb.  Enjoy with you favorite spread!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Creamy-Tomato Pasta in a Flash

As a cheese substitute I have been using Daiya brand vegan cheeses.  It is the only cheese at my local store that is both dairy free and soy free.  Almost all of the vegetable based cheese contains casein from milk, and the only other vegan cheese contains soy.  
Daiya makes three varieties, and of course I can only find two.  I am still looking for the pepper jack.  This dish uses the mozzarella and cheddar.  I like the Daiya cheeses, although it somewhat, but not completely resembles texture of American cheese when it melts.  It is different enough from American so that I like it enough to use it for pizza, pasta, and omelets.  (As you can tell, I am not a fan of melted American cheese.)
This is a quick and easy dinner to make.  The cheese melts giving it a nice and creamy taste.  I had some canned chicken to use up, so it was the seed for this recipe.  It was not enough to be the center of a meal on its own, but in a pasta dish, you would hardly notice.  You could easily leave the chicken out for a completely vegan meal.  Some chickpeas would make a nice substitute.  
Creamy-Tomato Pasta in a Flash (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free)
Two Servings
1 cup of Daiya cheese mixed between yellow and white 
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
4 oz. can of mushrooms (drained, but reserve if you want to add in step 6)
3 oz. of tomato paste (1/2 of a 6 oz. can)
2 small onions
5-6 cloves garlic
10-15 canned olives halved
a few oz. of left over chicken or canned chicken
rice pasta of choice (enough for two servings)
Basil
Salt 
Red Pepper Flakes
Red Wine vinegar
  1. Start salted water for pasta.  
  2. Begin dicing onions and mincing garlic, and heat oil in saute pan.
  3. Start cooking onions in pan.  
  4. Whenever pasta water is boiling, add and cook pasta for 3/4 of the time required on the package.  Drain; shock with cold water to stop cooking process.
  5. When onions are soft, add garlic, mushrooms, olives, chicken, and spices to taste.  Cook covered for a few minutes more before adding tomato products.  Add a splash of red wine vinegar.  Stir.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  6. Add partly cooked pasta and a little water if there is not a lot from the canned tomatoes.  The idea is to allow the pasta to soak up any excess liquid without becoming soggy.  Allow to cook for a minute or so and test for doneness.  When pasta is almost done, add cheese to top and cover to melt.  Turn off heat if pasta is done.  Stir in melted cheese and serve.