Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shortbread: Two Flour Mixtures, Two Cookies

Christmas is here, well almost, and that means time to bake and experiment. Last year, I tried to adapt a few recipes and just ended up with cookie spread and a super-sized, ok tasting, ugly looking chocolate chip cookie. I've learned a bit more this year and decided to jump back in and try to adapt some of the family favourites.

My Mom is an amazing cook and baker but the Christmas baking torch has been passed to me in recent years. I wanted to make food the whole family could enjoy without people wishing my mom took over the gluten baking duties. I decided to buy a bag of Bob's Red Mills all purpose baking mix to experiment this holiday season. For the first batch of cookies (star cookie on the left), I used the Bob's Red Mill mix. I love the brand and all they have to offer so I felt pretty confident that the cookies would turn out. Hot out of the oven, I was a bit worried but they cooled to something a lot more tasty. My family likes them but I felt I could taste the garbanzo and fava bean flour so decided to make a second batch with my 1:1:1 sorghum, tapioca, brown rice mix. I like the second batch better as does my dad but my mom likes the first batch. If you have the time, experiment but most of all, enjoy some cookies with your family.

Shortbread adapted from Robin Hood's Favourite:

1 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar (icing sugar should also work)
2 3/4 cups gluten free flour mixture
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 cup gluten free flour for dusting.

In a bowl or mixer, cream butter. Add the sugar gradually, beating until smooth and creamy. Add flour gradually, mixing well after each addition. Mix well until smooth.

Chill dough for easy rolling (about 1 hour as any longer the dough gets too hard). Roll out dough, one portion at a time on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. I found the dough really stuck to the rolling pin so I used my hands a lot. **Remember if you are using a wood rolling pin, make sure it is new or just used for gluten free cooking.

Cut into shapes with floured cutters. Bake at 325ºF for 12 - 18 minutes or until light golden. Before cooking, you can also decorate them but I love the simple, plain shortbread.

Let them cool and age (if you have time) as the flour flavour settles and the butter flavour comes out. Enjoy!

Christmas Cookies - Mocha Shortbread

Well, it sure has been a while!!! It has been a busy Summer, Fall and Winter but that doesn't mean the cooking has stopped.

I promise to catch up and post some great treats I've made this year including: lemon ricotta cake, cupcakes, squash risotto and many more delicious things.

And, of course, Christmas cookies. I started late but it has been a full on job the past few days as I'm home with the family getting ready for Christmas. It has been five years since we have all been at home as we have spent the other years in Mexico! Last year was my first gluten-free Christmas and it was fine (besides that cake I bite into by accident as I was told it was ice cream), but this year we are at home and looking to bring back our holiday traditions.

An all time family favourite is my mom's mocha shortbread. I'm not sure where this recipe came from originally but my mom's copy is typed up on some circa 1990 computer/printer combo and there is no longer a digital version to be found. After a few days of searching, the recipe appeared. We were going to make these with regular flour but I didn't want to spend time making something I couldn't eat so I decided to try them gluten free. It was pretty simple and they turned out great. The photo is from them fresh out of the oven not 30 minutes ago...delicious! I cannot wait until they cool for a treat with breakfast (shortbread really does benefit from cooling unlike other types of cookies).

My flour mixture was passed on to me last year at a program with the Gluten-free Vancouver. The mixture is 1:1:1 tapioca flour, sorghum flour and rice flour (I use brown rice for everything). I made up a mix of 1 cup of each flour, shook it all together and got ready to make these cookies.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 teaspoons strong brewed coffee (we use espresso)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix (as above) or regular flour for the gluten-eating folks
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon fine-ground coffee
1/4 cup granulated sugar, optional

In bowl or mixer, cream butter with icing sugar until fluffy; beat in liquid coffee, vanilla & almond extract. Stir together flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, & ground coffee. Blend into butter mixture, using hands if necessary.

On waxed paper, shape into a rectangle about 2 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Wrap in wax paper and chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more until a harder form. I found with the gluten free version of this recipe, the dough was pretty soft from the butter and really needed the fridge.

Remove from fridge and cut into 1 inch slices. Bake on ungreased baking sheets at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until firm & lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from oven and lightly press tops into granulated sugar. We found the gluten-free form were really fragile when warm so we sprinkled sugar on top while they cooled instead.

My mom used to make these a month before Christmas and would store in tins in cool places (garage, shed, trailer). They improve with age but as I made mine tonight, they will be eaten right away.

As they are fragile, I would consider adding potato starch to the 1:1:1:1 mixture of flours next time in equal portion. The mocha, vanilla, almond flavours should cover the potato taste and it may make it stick together better. I'll try it next time and post the results.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gluten-Free Lemon Cake

It has been a while since I blogged so today I'm finally catching up with blogs to follow and desserts to enjoy. Gluten-Free Lemon Cake is a great mix of the previous two posts as it combines dessert with a fabulous recipe from the Celiac Teen website.

I made this cake for a bridal shower this weekend and I think it may be my new favourite dessert. It is perfectly light and decadent at the same time. It also tastes like summer to me and is the perfect patio treat paired with a nice light white wine. I'm already planning to make it again.

Lemon Cake
1 cup salted butter
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest (or feel free to add more for extra flavour)
4 eggs
3/4 cup almond milk (or soy or regular milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup lemon juice (best if freshly squeezed)
3/4 cup tapioca starch/flour
3/4 brown rice flour (or any rice flour will work)
1/2 cup sorghum flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two round 8 inch cake pans (or one larger and one smaller version if you don't have matching cake pans)
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Cream until light and fluffy. Add in zest and mix until combined.
3. In another bowl, combine eggs, almond milk, vanilla and lemon juice
4. In a separate bowl, combine remaining agreements
5. Alternatively add flour and liquid mixture to the butter mixture until all ingredients are incorporated.
6. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Buttercream
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
4 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy
2. Slowly add in sugar about a 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated
3. Add vanilla and blend until buttercream is fluffy

Spread on bottom cake layer and then add the top piece. Spread icing on the top layer with a spatula.

Enjoy this seriously delicious dessert. It is light, fluffy and perfect. Love it. Thanks to the celiac teen for posting the great dessert.

Gluten-Free Bloggers

Thank goodness for the internet. It is hard to imagine what celiacs pre-internet did for new recipes. Yes, I know there are bookstores and libraries and doctors but there is something about being inspired by other gluten-free blogs out there in the world.

I have a few that I follow and check in on regularly. The first one the Gluten Free Girl and Chef was introduced to me by a non-celiac cousin. She mentioned the delicious recipes and great posts as a source of food inspiration gluten-free or not. As soon as I was diagnosed, I quickly ordered a copy of the book Gluten-Free Girl: How I learned to love the food that loves me back...and how you can too by Shawna James Ahern. The book is fabulous, funny, inspirational and will shake your depressed, life changed butt into the kitchen. Shawna and her chef husband, Danny, are coming out with a cookbook in September. Needless to say, I CANNOT wait!

Check out Shawna's blog at

Another great blog is the Celiac Teen which follows avid teen baker Lauren through adventures of adapting recipes. I have made some of the desserts and WOW, they are delicious.

Check out Lauren's blog at

The gluten-free goddess is another fantastic blog and Karina encourages other gluten-free bloggers to post the image above to definite their blogs. The layout is fantastic and there are tons of recipes to appeal to all members of the family not just those with celiac.

Hope these help you on your gluten-free journey. I know when I'm feeling uninspired in the kitchen, I check out some of my favourite blogs and then I feel okay (and yes, that is a Sound of Music reference).

Happy Cooking and Baking!

Nanaimo Bars

One of my favourite desserts are Nanaimo Bars! Not long after being diagnosed, I knew I would need to figure out how to make them gluten-free as I was not willing to give up my favourite special treat. Luckily, these are easy to make gluten-free or not. I cannot figure out why it took me so long to try making them as they are very simple, no cooking dessert.

Weddings and birthdays are all around so I decided to make a batch for a recent friend's bridal shower. So tasty that nobody even knew they were gluten-free until they saw me eating one.

Make a batch and enjoy with friends...they will love you for it.

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups almond flour
1 cup coconut (shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

Make the bottom layer and then place in fridge for 30 minutes or more before adding the next layer.

Middle Layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons almond milk (or milk or soy milk)
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Add middle layer to the fridge cooled bottom layer. Spread with a spatula until even and return to the fridge while you make the top layer.

Top Layer:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

If you have a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together. Stir constantly to prevent burning. If you don't have the pot, then place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 20 - 30 second increments stopping to stir. Repeat until fully melted. Pour on top of the other layers. Spread with a spatula or tip the pan back and forth to create a more smooth top finish.

Place back in the fridge to cool. Cut into squares, serve and enjoy.

I have more birthday parties coming up and I'm sure I will make another batch.

Monday, April 5, 2010

turkey chili & cornbread muffins

After spending the Easter weekend with a cup of tea, movies and cold medicine, I decided it was time to cook something up that would help with my recovery. Spring is in the air in Vancouver and as the weather flips back and forth between beautiful sunshine and torrential windstorms, turkey chili seemed like the perfect dinner.

I'm a fan of food that can be mixed, changed and improvised. Like pizza and risotto, chili is one of those meals that can be mixed and changed depending on the season. The weather is warm enough that beef seems too heavy so I decided to try it with ground turkey instead.

Tasty, spicy and the perfect meal for the end of a long weekend spent recovering from a cold. I'm already thinking of changes for next time. Until then...enjoy

Turkey Chili
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
2 cups of water
2 cups of tomatoes (or 1 can crushed tomatoes if there is nothing is in season)
1 can red kidney beans - drained and rinsed
1 can corn - drained
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder (less if you are looking for less of a kick)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place the turkey in the pot and cook until evenly brown. Stir in the onion and cook until tender.
2. Pour water into the pot. Mix in tomatoes, kidney beans, corn and garlic. Season with chili powder, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes (minimum).

Homemade cornbread muffins are fantastic (and I will post a recipe here sometime) but in a post-cold haze, Bob's Red Mills cornbread mix is perfect. All you need is milk (or soy or almond milk), butter or vegetable oil and 2 eggs. Bob's Red Mills makes two cornbread mixes so make sure you grab the gluten-free package!

Choose to make the bread or muffin version and in 20 minutes, you'll have the best side to your homemade chili.

The perfect way to end a weekend and great leftovers for the whole week.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

more adventures in Seattle

Just up the road from Romios is a fabulous bakery specializing in Wheat and Gluten-free baked goods. There are also a lot dairy free and vegan options.

I enjoyed trying two types of brownies. The first was a rich dark chocolate brownie. There was no way to tell it was vegan. Delicious. The second was a mint chocolate brownie that was also to die for. Unfortunately, they were both so fantastic that they were consumed before a photo could be taken.

If you are in the Seattle area, check out the brownies and other treats for yourself!

Wheatless in Seattle
10003 Greenwood Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98133-9137