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Gluten Free Pie Crust

piecrust4With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d share my recipes for pie crusts.  I used to bake pies quite often before going gluten free, and considered myself an expert – but there is no expertise when it comes to making gluten free pie crust.  It’s like trying to give a cat a bath.

So here’s what I’ve come up with, and you’re not going to like it.  Use lard.  That’s right, the god-awful white colored shortening that should never be consumed.  But guess what?  It works like a charm for gluten free pie crust, and you’re going to put sugar in anyway, so it’s not like this is healthy food people.  Give it a try 🙂

Pie Crust Tips & Tricks

*Use lard*Roll out the dough between wax paper

*Make your dough slightly on the sticky side

*If you use butter, it will crumble and fall apart.  However gentle coaxing may produce a usable crust.  If that is the case, do not serve the pie warm, let it cool to room temperature first.

*If attempting a double crust, freeze the rolled out crust first before removing the wax paper and flipping it over on top of your filling.  Freezing also works if you’ve flipped the crust into your pan, but are having trouble removing the last piece of wax paper.  Paper will come off nicely once the crust has frozen, about 30 min.

Pie Crust:

1 c. brown rice flour

1/2 c. white rice flour

1/2 c. potato starch or corn starch

1 tsp. flax

1/4 tsp. salt

1 TB sugar (if it’s a sweet pie)

sift/mix together.

Cut in 5 TB lard (or 1/2 c. butter)

piecrust1Mix in 1 egg, 1 tsp. vinegar and 1/4 c. cold water.  Don’t mix well, just kind of fold together.  Add 2 TB of water as needed if you have flour left over.

piecrust2Form into a ball, press between 2 sheets of waxed paper, and roll out.  Don’t roll out too thin, the crust should be thicker than those made with wheat flour.  Loosen both sides of the waxed paper, tear off one of the waxed papers, flip the crust over onto your hand and quickly slide onto the pie plate.  Remove last piece of wax paper.  If it’s sticking too much to the waxed paper, just press the crust into the pie pan and freeze for 30 min, take it out and remove the wax paper.  Should be a breeze now.  Gently lift up on the overhanging edges to get the bubbles out and to fit the pan correctly.  Trim the overhanging crust to the edge of the pie pan.

piecrust3You should have enough crust left over if you want to make a double pie crust.

Press the edge of the crust against the first two fingers of your left hand, using the flat of your right index finger.  Do this all around, slightly raising the edge of the crust.  Using both index fingers at the the same time, press out with the left finger, while pulling in with the right.  Again, do this around the pie pan to create a nice boarder.  The crust is now ready to be filled or pre-baked.

If you don’t want to mess with the finicky pie crust, I suggest an almond crust, similar to a graham cracker crust.

1 c. ground almonds

1/3 c. powdered sugar (use 4TB cocoa, and 4 TB powdered sugar for a chocolate crust)

pinch of salt

2 TB coconut oil or olive oil

Toss together with a spoon, press into the bottom of your pie pan.  Easy peasy.

 

Lentil & Rice Pancakes

lentil pancakes2These turned out to be blueberry pancakes.  Aren’t they lovely?  I didn’t take a picture until the pancake was halfway gone because it was that good.  I know you’re thinking lentils should be a savory item, served in soup.  But if you forget about that, lentils make gorgeous pancakes, crepes and waffles (still working on that muffin recipe).  You don’t even notice a different flavor or texture to the pancake.  Try it yourself, you’ll love it 🙂

Lentil & Rice Pancakes

*Start this the night before: rinse and soak 1/2 c. rice and 1/2 c. lentils overnight.

Wake up, drain your rice & lentils and place in your blender.  Add:

1/4 c. milk/soymilk

Starting on low, and moving towards high/puree, blend your grains.  It doesn’t work well at first, but be persistent, and you’ll get them mostly mashed up.  It’ll still be a bit gritty at this point.  Add:

1 egg

2 TB milk

Blend again at high until smooth, at least 2 minutes.  (If you decide to skip all this adding liquids slowly business you’ll most likely end up with gritty pancakes.  Rice is hard, and it takes a bit to grind it up – you’ll also need a good blender.  My small Phillips blender would never do this, I had to break out the old beast in the back of the cupboard)

Once smooth add:

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 TB oil

1 TB honey

Blend until smooth.  Once you add the leavening agents, the batter will thicken up again, but it should still blend smooth.  Hopefully you’ve heated up your pan/griddle by now, to about medium heat or medium low.  Pour the batter onto your pan, making a circle about 3 inches in diameter.  Place blueberries on top if you desire.  Flip the pancake over slowly, it tends to splatter if you flip it too fast.  Makes 6 medium sized pancakes.

You can also sprout these grains if you have the time.  I find that I forget to plan ahead, and it’s all I can do to soak the grains overnight.  Do Not try to make this without first soaking the grains, or only soaking them 2 hours.  Gritty pancakes is what you’ll get.lentil pancakes

Sprouts & Sprout Waffles

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As promised, a recipe using sprouts!  Although this looks like banana with a little waffle.  弟弟 ‘s favorite way to eat anything – put bananas on it.

Sprouting Basics

Why sprout?  Supposedly they are good for you… I’ve read some great info on how much more nutritious sprouts are for you than the unsprouted grain itself.  Sprouts are best eaten fresh, although I can’t tell you how often I’ve made sprouts and then watched as they rotted in my refrige.  I don’t like the slight bitterness they have – I guess it takes some getting used to.  My favorite fresh sprouts are lentils, they go nicely in a salad.

First, you have to choose what to sprout.  Here’s what I experimented with:

Sprouts1Don’t know if you can read my tiny labels, but these beans/grains/seeds are all gluten free.  Most were organic, although not all.    I took about 1/2 c. to 1 c. and soaked them overnight in filtered water.  The next day, I rinsed them, covered the top with cheese cloth, and set them out on the counter.  Rinsed and repeated on day 2.  Most were sprouted by then – tiny little white roots extending out one end.  Here’s what sprouted best:

1. Lentils

2. Mung Beans (random info- this is what most Americans consider as “sprouts” long white, thick sprouts often used in Chinese cooking.)

3. Red Beans

4. Buckwheat

5. Brown Rice (limited success)

The rest of the grains/beans didn’t sprout, either because they were irradiated, or too polished.  I also read somewhere that kidney bean sprouts shouldn’t be eaten – so I cooked them up after soaking overnight.  I suspect that the Job’s Tears and Sorghum were too processed, and their seed coats were removed.  I was unable to find unprocessed Job’s Tears or Sorghum.  After soaking the almonds, I was able to easily remove the outer skin, which is difficult for our bodies to digest.  Then I ground them and used them in other recipes.

Once you have sprouts, you can keep them stored in a bag in the refrige for 4 days to 1 week.  I found they keep best if you don’t rinse them one last time before storing them in the refrige.  Sprouts take a bit of planning – how much to sprout, and ideas about how you will use them.  Things I’m not always good at, which is why this “research” took way too long 🙂 .

Using Sprouts

As I’ve mentioned before, you can use sprouts to make Dosas.  I like to fry mung bean sprouts or red bean sprouts in my skillet with a bit of olive oil, salt and garlic.  They turn out nice and chewy.  I really like this texture.

Baking with sprouts is controversial.  Some would say that it destroys all the nutrients you get from sprouting in the first place.  I think that some is destroyed, yet some nutrients remain.  It probably depends on how long sprouts are cooked, and how.  I don’t have all the answers.    真的?  為甚麼?  You can figure it out if you want.  The reason I decided to bake with sprouts in the first place was because of what goes into gluten free breads, cakes, etc. to make them taste “normal” and yet still gluten free.  Have you really thought about it yourself?  Xanthan gum, cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca flour, rice flours.  All those ingredients seem stripped of nutrients, and difficult for the body to digest.  What is the point of eating styrofoam?  Even if it tastes like fluffy white bread?  1.  I don’t bake a lot any more.  Maybe once a week.  2.  The items I do make more often – pancakes, waffles, tortillas and muffins, I’ve begun to make almost exclusively with sprouted beans and grains.

Lots of ado about nothing…  Here we are, the useful bits 🙂

Sprout Waffles Recipe

Place all ingredients in a blender:

1 c. sprouted buckwheat

1/2 c. sprouted mung beans or red beans

2 eggs * sorry vegans, this recipe CAN NOT be made without eggs, it just gets mushy and doesn’t cook*

1 tsp. ground flax seed

1 TB honey or another sweetener

1 -2 TB oil

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Enough milk or water to just barely touch the bottom of the beans/grains.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into your waffle maker.  Make sure that the waffle maker is well greased.  I’ve found that recipes with beans in them stick pretty badly.  Grease between waffles.

I love these waffles more than my previous recipe with dry ground buckwheat, cornstarch and rice flour.  They are so deliciously crisp and airy.

waffle2

Troubleshooting or problems

experiment1

Lovely, aren’t they?  Here are some of my earlier attempts at sprout waffles.  Some helpful thoughts:

*you must use eggs

*if you’ve added too much water, and the waffle sticks like the above picture, simply add more sprouted buckwheat, and blend.  It should thicken up and cook nicely.

*I found that sprouted rice never gets soft enough when ground up in my blender.  I always get gritty pieces in my teeth.  The same goes for soaked Job’s Tears or sorghum.

*If all else fails, make pancakes with the batter.  It may not be what you planned, but even if the batter is too thin, the pancakes will still be edible.

Thoughts? Comments?  Complaints?  I’m quite proud of these waffles.

 

 

 

 

 

Lasagna

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One of my favorite dishes during high school.  My mom’s lasagna 🙂  Not made when I was younger for obvious reasons – you had to make your own spaghetti sauce, lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese and tofu.  Not something that happened often at our house.  These items just weren’t available in West Africa in the ’80s.  When my husband went gluten free, there didn’t seem to be much point in cooking lasagna, most store bought noodles disintegrated in the sauce and everything was weird and mushy.  When I came across Shauna’s website, I discovered lots of great recipes and ideas.  One of which was her gluten free noodle recipe.  Wonderful!  I loved it.  I think I wrote about it somewhere on here before.  Anyway it got me thinking about what I could use it for.  Lasagna came to mind one rainy Saturday morning.  I collected my ingredients and was in love.  Lasagna again!  I think our whole family inhaled it the first day it was made.  One lonely piece was left over until the next day.  Unfortunately it did not survive inspection.  It was too firm and barely edible.    不好吃.  I’ve since messed with the recipe, and now I think I’ve got it where I want it.  🙂

Lasagna

1 batch of noodles from glutenfreegirl (see above).  I don’t have garbonzo bean flour or millet flour.  I used buckwheat and rice flour with the potato starch.  Ground flax in place of the psyllium husk powder.  It does fleck the dough with brown, but I don’t mind that.

1 bunch of mushrooms.  About 2 cups, chopped small so the kids don’t freak out.

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce.  (About 36 oz)

1 can sliced olives

1 tsp. ground fennel

16 oz. soft tofu, crumbled with your hand into small chunks

Cheddar Cheese and Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

1.  Make your noodle dough.  Let rest while you work on the sauce.  Make sure it’s not too soft.  Add water a little at a time.  You want a stiff dough that can still roll out without cracking.  Reminder – this is fresh noodle dough, you don’t need to boil it before putting it in the pan, the sauce will cook it while in the oven.

lasagna1

2.  Saute your mushrooms, garlic and fennel in oil or ghee as you prefer.

3.  When done, pour spaghetti sauce over the mushrooms.  Add the olives.  Let simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes, just to incorporate the flavors.  Don’t add extra salt anywhere!  The cheese and olives will be salty enough as it is.

4.  In a 9×13 pan layer like you do any other lasagna recipe:  sauce, soft tofu pieces, cheese, noodles on top.  (disregard photo of noodles above- I forgot to put sauce on the bottom first.)  Finish with a last layer of noodles, with cheese on top.

5.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 30-40 minutes, until all is bubbly and smelling good.  Cool, and serve.

lasagna2

Peanutbutter Popcorn

DSCN2572

My kids love popcorn, I’m sure yours do too.  I make my own – because it’s easy, and most popcorn sold in Taiwan is sweet.  Strangely enough I grew up in another culture that liked sweet popcorn.  Still haven’t gotten around to enjoying sugar on my popcorn yet.  But this is honey, so it doesn’t count 🙂

1.  Pop your popcorn however you do… I use a soup pot, some oil and about 1/3- 1/2 c. popcorn kernels.  Once popped, I’m not sure how many cups that is.

2.  Melt 2 TB butter with 1/4 c. honey and 1/4 c. peanut butter (I used natural peanut butter ground up by my sister in law 謝謝!)

3.  Let it bubble a bit, but stir it well so it doesn’t burn.  Take it off the heat once it thickens up a bit.

4.  Pour the mixture over your popcorn, and give it a good mix.

5.  Spread your popcorn on cookie sheets (for me that was 2 because I use a toaster oven) Sprinkle with salt.  I really like how the salt cuts through the sweet honey so I use about 1/2 tsp.

6.  Bake for 5-10 minutes at 375 until brown – not burnt!

Let cool and enjoy.

Chocolate Hearts For Your Valentine

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A quick Valentine’s Day post, since it’s 7:30pm on 14th as we speak, and I’m waiting for the kids to go to bed…

Chocolate Hearts without all the fancy equipment.

You’ll need the following:

DSCN25771.  8 or more aluminium 1 1/2″ baking cups

2.  Silken tofu, 300 g. about 12 oz.

3.  Melting chocolate – I like Aijia Chocolate, it’s cheap and not nasty(don’t get me started on the quality of chocolate sold here)

4.  Good quality chocolate, 1.75 oz dark 80% cocoa

5.  Ditch the white chocolate chips, they didn’t work out here…

Step One:  In a double boiler, bring the water to boil, then turn off the heat.  Add your cheap melting chocolate.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Stir.

Step Two:  While your chocolate is melting, bend your aluminium cups into heart shapes.  Keep the bottoms flat and the shape as heart-like as possible.

Step Three:  Using a small spoon, scoop out some melted chocolate (about 2 tsp), pour into the heart cups, and tilt it around until all the sides are coated.  Do this until all the cups are coated (as a reminder, I just used 8 cups).  Refrigerate 5 minutes.

Step Four:  Pull your cups out of the refrige, and re-coat the inside walls.  The walls will be the thinnest, so they need an extra coating.  Return to the refrige when done.

Step Five:  Melt your good 80% cocoa chocolate now, using the same bowl if you want.  Use the same method as before – heat the water to boiling, turn off the heat and then add the chocolate.  Let sit 5 minutes until melted.

Step Six:  In your blender, blend the tofu until smooth.  While the motor is running, slowly pour in your melted chocolate, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.  Add 1 tsp. vanilla and about 1/4 c. of molasses. (a simple syrup would work fine as well)

Step Seven:  Unmould your chocolate cups.  At the tip of the heart, using a scissors, carefully cut the rim off both sides until you get to the top of the heart.  Return to the tip, cut or gently pull off the aluminium walls of the cup.  Keep in mind that the walls are the thinnest, and crumble easily.  Hold the cup by its base.  Pull off the aluminium base last and then pull out the section stuck between the humps at the top of the heart.  Maybe this is confusing.  See the picture below.  Don’t get bent out of shape if it crumbles or is all lopsided.  You can fix the lopsidedness.

chocolate2

Step Eight:  Heat a ceramic or glass plate in your microwave until warm, and set it on the counter.  Pick up your chocolate hearts carefully, and upend it gently on the plate, apply slight pressure on the base, moving it around while it melts off the sections that are uneven.  If you just leave it on the plate (as I did while taking pictures) it will melt away to oblivion, so be careful.  After finishing all of them, refrigerate for 5 minutes.

Step Nine:  Pour your pudding/mousse into your chocolate cups, filling each one to the top.  You’ll have a lot of left over pudding that you can save for later or for some other use.  Refrigerate chocolate hearts until firm, about 2 hours.

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Great Aunt Lydia’s Lemon Meringue Pie

lemonmeringuecups

Apparently my Great Aunt Lydia made wonderful lemon meringue pie.  For some reason I was drawn to making it as well.  Lemons are just so delicious.  I heard a story once about how during the depression she would offer wandering hobos a day of work in exchange for food.  I’m sure she served this pie to more than one lucky man.  I love making this pie – however gluten free is a bit of a challenge because of that pesky crust.  It resists rolling out and pressing into pie pans.  When I feel extra patient I do make a pie crust for this pie.  Patience is a virtue that does not come around often lately.

Yesterday I made lemon meringue cups.  Much simpler, and no messing with GF pie crust.

Great Aunt Lydia’s Lemon Meringue Pie (Cups)

Preheat your oven to 325

In a double boiled combine:

1 1/2 c. water

2/3 c. sugar

1/4 c. cornstarch

Before you starting cooking this, finish the following steps:

Separate 3 eggs.  Place the yolks in a small bowl – set a spoon beside it.  Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl.  Add a pinch of salt, and a dash or two of cream of tarter.

Juice 3 lemons or limes.  Enough to make 1/3 c. juice.  Set aside also.

Now start cooking the ingredients in the double boiler.  Whisk slowly until it thickens and turns almost translucent.  Take off the heat.  Scoop out some pudding, and mix it into the bowl of egg yolks.  Do this 3-4 times, then pour the whole bowl of egg yolks into your pudding.  Whisk until incorporated well.  The hot pudding will cook the eggyolks.

Next, slowly add in your lemon juice.  Whisk until smooth.

Add 2-3 TB butter, whisk until smooth. (I don’t always add butter, but it helps the pie set up, and it sure makes it taste good!)

Pour the pudding into 4 clear glass mugs or cups.  Set aside.

Find your egg whites, beat on high until fluffy and peaked.  Slowly beat in 1/3 c. sugar.  Scoop it on top of the pudding, making sure to even it out between the 4 cups.

Place your cups on an oven tray, slide it into the oven for about 10 minutes.  The tops should brown nicely.  Cool and refrigerate 2-3 hours until you can’t wait any more 🙂

Oh- if you’re making a pie crust, cook the crust for 10-15 min. at 350 before filling.  Remember to reduce the oven temp to 325 before cooking the meringue topping.