Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cookbook Endorsement

Often people are surprised when I tell them that my greatest support network was on Twitter for a very long period of time.  (Then life got crazy and I got out of the twitter habit.  My friends and support network are still there, I just don't check in as often.  I miss that.)  Many food allergy people and parents are on twitter, and are happy to share ideas and advice for those daily allergy dilemmas.  Love it.

It was there that I first met Colette Martin (@colettefmartin).  Later I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at allergy conferences.  She is just as wonderful in person as she is online!  Colette is a fellow allergy mom, and has released a cookbook based on her home cooking. She also is blogging about cooking allergy free.  I feel very honored that she sent me a preview to check out!  Today's breakfast came from that book.

Let me tell you a bit about the book.  It is the book I wish I had four years ago when I began my adventures into gluten free baking.  In fact, much of it would have been helpful 9 years ago when I was beginning my life as an allergy free household without dairy and eggs.  Why?  Because this book has so much more than recipes.

It is not an exaggeration to say that when this cookbook arrived in the mail, I sat down and read the first half like most people would read a novel.  Not a single recipe comes up in the first half of the book! It is a tutorial in replacing wheat, eggs, and dairy in your baking.  Colette includes wisdom gained through experience on what substitutes can be used in your recipe, how to determine which is best suited to your recipe, and even occasional product suggestions.  I adore the fact that not only does it sound much like she is standing in the room talking to you, it is such down to earth advice.  No complex recipes that take hours to prepare.  No fussy recipes that require intimidating precision.  This is all stuff that every mama can do, and presented with simple explanations that help you understand WHY you are doing it in such a way.  If you don't try a single recipe in the book, the tutorial at the beginning is valuable enough to justify the purchase.

Each recipe is followed by tips and bits of wisdom specific to that recipe, and often by a "crash course", or brief tutorial on a baking principle that relates to the recipe.  For example after a recipe that called for creaming together the sugar and shortening, a page on the role of creaming in a recipe was included.  So great.

I could go on and on.  There are, of course, several things that I do differently than Colette.  Every baker has her own style. They are relatively minor differences.  Given that, I would still have purchased this book.  Coming from me, that is huge.  I don't often endorse a cookbook because I have SO many restrictions that no cookbook has enough recipes I can use to justify the purchase.  I live in the world of food bloggers, where I can pick and chose recipes as I need, and adapt them when necessary.  Colette has written a cookbook that is wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, and nut-free.  And? Rice-free if you use the right baking mix.  The changes I need to make are minor.  The advise and suggestions are priceless.

In a world where multiple allergies are becoming more common, this cookbook is a gem.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lemon Cupcakes

I don't know what it is about summer and warm weather that makes lemon desserts seem so much more appealing.  Perhaps the light nature of the citrus tang and energizing fragrance.  Nonetheless, with warm weather here and a lemon in the fridge, I pondered what to make.

Then I remembered a recipe a fellow allergy mom had blogged, a luscious lemon bread.  Of course, I rarely have the patience to wait long enough for a bread to bake, so I often opt to make muffins instead.  Perfectly portioned, and less patience required.  It's also helpful when baking gluten free and vegan, as most recipes cook well in a muffin tin.  A bread pan allows for a soggy center, and no one likes that.

Honestly, though, I have not mastered cupcakes in my new gluten free life.  I can do muffins.  Cupcakes? Not so much.  This bread though... it's cupcake fodder.  Nothing muffin like here. And THIS is the first truly tasty cupcake I have crafted.  The kids begged for another, and even I wanted one more.  Good stuff.  Below is the recipe with my adaptations.  Enjoy!

Gluten Free Lemon Cupcakes

6 Tbsp butter flavored Spectrum
1c sugar
zest of one lemon
1 1/2 c Bob’s Red Mill GF all purpose flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c hemp milk
5 Tbsp very hot water + 2 Tbsp golden flaxmeal, combined and set aside
1/4 c water- as needed

Glaze Topping:
juice of one lemon
1/3 c sugar

Put shortening in a large mixing bowl and allow to come to room temperature (if is not already).  Add sugar and cut together using wire whisk.  Add flour and again cut in with wire whisk until mixture has uniform sandy texture.  Add lemon zest and incorporate.  (If possible do this part ahead of time and allow to sit at room temperature up to 24 hours.  This lets the flavor of the lemon peel permeate the batter for better flavor.  This can be skipped, the lemon flavor will just be less developed.)  Now add xanthan gum, baking powder, hemp milk, and flax egg.  Use a mixer to blend well.  Add up to 1/4 c water if needed to get batter consistency right.  It will be a very stiky batter that will climb the beaters, so mix with care!  Divide into 12 lined muffin tins and bake 25 minutes.  Mix lemon juice and sugar and spoon onto cupcakes right out of oven.  Serve warm or after cooled.

This recipe is gluten free, soy free, dairy free, egg free, nut free, and vegan friendly.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Apple Crisp, gluten free

Apple Crisp, Gluten Free

I have to be honest, this is not my recipe.  I am sharing it on my page because I am in love with the simplicity of making this wholesome and amazingly delicious dessert.  Well, sometimes dessert.  Being the rebel that I am, I have absolutely served it for breakfast more than once.  It's all healthy stuff.  Why not serve it up to start your day?

Enough teasing, I'm going to share the recipe with the (very few) changes I made, but you should check out the original.  There are even luscious pictures to lure you in further on the original post.

Know what else? Tonight I tried it with fresh cherries.  It worked beautifully.

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

7ish apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped (or enough cherries to adequately fill the bottom of your baking dish- you judge how high they should pile for a healthy serving!)
4ish tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c fresh cranberries (if you are using apples- but optional still)
1/2 c maple syrup- use the real thing
1/4 c chopped raw pumpkin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon (only 1/2 tsp for cherry crisp)
1 c quinoa flakes
1/2 c butter flavored Spectrum shortening or Soy Free Earth Balance margarine

Preheat the oven to 375.
Put the apples in a 9x13 glass baking dish if you like a light layer, or a 9x9 if you like a thick apple/cherry crisp.  Sprinkle the lemon juice and the vanilla over the fruit and stir around a bit. (No added sugar is needed, it'll be sweet enough. Really.)
Combine the quinoa flakes, cinnamon, and chopped pumpkin seeds in a bowl and stir to distribute the cinnamon evenly.  Stir in maple syrup and mix thoroughly.  Cut in the Spectrum or Earth Balance.  Sprinkle over fruit.  (again, if you used a 9x9 you'll get a thicker more generous crisp topping).
Bake 40-45 minutes until fruit is bubbly and crisp topping is lightly browned and looking, well, crisp.
Serve hot or cold, and adding a bit of whipped coconut cream or non-dairy ice cream just adds to the yum factor. 

The additional beauty here? If made carefully this is gluten free, soy free, corn free, egg free, dairy free, nut free, refined sugar free, but still HUGE on delicious.