Thursday, April 26, 2007

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

A vegetarian delight, featuring oh-so-good for you (oh-so-expensive) quinoa. The almonds are a must for texture. Select peppers that are shorter than they are long. They will sit more easily in the pan as they bake.

*I used canned tomatoes for convenience, and I drained the tomato juice, seeds and all, and used it, topped up with veggie stock, to cook the quinoa. This was delicious.

3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, or a combination of vegetable stock and tomato juice

5-6 small- to medium-sized peppers -- all red, or a mix of red, green and/or other colours

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, diced
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tbsp herbes de Provence
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced*
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 cup old Cheddar cheese, grated

Cook quinoa in vegetable stock until the water is absorbed and the disturbing little curlicues have emerged from the grains of quinoa. (A rice cooker works equally well for quinoa.) When cooked, pour the quinoa into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the tops off the red and green peppers. Discard seeds and core, and dice remaining tops.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add diced mushrooms, jalapeno pepper, and reserved diced pepper tops. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Cook until vegetables are just tender.

Stir vegetable mixture, diced tomatoes, lemon juice, and toasted sliced almonds into the quinoa. Stir in 3/4 cup of cheese, reserving 1/4 cup to sprinkle on tops of peppers. Taste mixture and adjust seasonings.

Spoon mixture evenly into prepared peppers, mounding the mixture if necessary. Sprinkle each pepper with a little bit of reserved cheese. Place in 8" glass baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until peppers are almost tender. Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes, until peppers are tender and topping is nicely browned.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Gluten-Free Multigrain and Seed Loaf

This is the opposite end of the spectrum from fluffy, light white bread with a chewy crust. The loaf is dense and moist, full of smooth seeds, slightly chewy on the inside with a "biscuity" crust. I want to call it "European," but I'm not sure why! This is the kind of bread you want to eat warm with cheese or honey or jam. If you use this bread for a sandwich, use it when it is fresh and top it with bright, crisp flavours -- cheese and whole-seed mustard and lots of sprouts and grated carrot and slices of tomato and cucumber.

I don't have an adequate test for the "doneness" of gluten-free yeast bread. I've tried a thump on the bottom, but I can't get an accurate reading from it. I've tried a poke in the centre with a cake tester, but I don't trust the results -- it's not enough confirmation of doneness when the tester comes back clean. Sadly, I've often ended up cutting the loaf in half when I'm pretty sure it's done, looking at the middle, and putting it back in the oven if it's too gooey. This ruins the middle two pieces, but it's better than ruining the whole loaf, and I find if I eat the middle bits right away, as soon as the bread has cooled a bit, I am not disappointed. Be sure to note the correct cooking time for the loaf for your oven, and this should save you some work if you try the recipe a second time.

1 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dry yeast

2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup whole flaxseeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt

1 cup lukewarm milk
3 tbsp melted butter
1 large egg, at room temperature and lightly beaten
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Additional seeds for topping, if desired.

Lightly grease a 9x5" loaf pan.

Dissolve sugar in lukewarm water. Sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine brown rice flour, amaranth flour, buckwheat flour, cornmeal, sunflower seeds, flaxseed meal, whole flaxseeds, sesame seeds, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk well to combine.

Using an electric mixer, beat warm milk and butter into the flour mixture. Add egg and vinegar and beat again. Add yeast and water mixture and continue beating until well-combined. The dough will be heavy and moist.

Press into the prepared loaf pan, evening out the top. Sprinkle the top with additional sunflower, flax, or sesame seeds, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the bread. Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free spot until the dough creeps to the top of the pan, about one hour.

Preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Turn out on a rack to cool, and slice when cool enough to handle, but still warm. Serve fresh, if possible. Keep leftovers well-sealed in the refrigerator or the freezer.

Makes 1 loaf.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Date Squares

Another recipe for an oat-based treat I used to enjoy before celiac disease. The recipe has been restored to me since I ordered uncontaminated oatmeal from Cream Hill Estates. Be sure to confirm that your celiac friends can tolerate pure oats before serving; some can't.

500 g pitted dates
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup hot water

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups uncontaminated oats

Mix dates, brown sugar, and hot water in a saucepan and cook on top of the stove over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the dates are soft. Set aside to cool.

Sift flours, starches, xanthan gum, soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter to make fine crumbs. Blend in brown sugar and rolled oats. Mix well to resemble coarse crumbs.

Press half the oat mixture into well-greased 9x13” pan. Cover with date filling and top with crumbles of the remainder of the oat mixture. Pressing gently and evenly to make sure topping is well distributed (it will puff and spread a bit, but not much, as it bakes). Bake at 325F for 30 to 35 minutes, until topping is puffed and golden.

Cut in squares in the pan while hot; cool in the pan before serving.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mocha Refrigerator Cookies

These are adapted from a recipe by pastry chef Anna Olson from Canadian Living’s December 2005 issue. These cookies are not too sweet -- a bonus in my books. After being puverized in a food processor, they also make great chocolate/mocha cookie crumbs to use as a base for cheesecake.

1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup GF icing sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee
1/4 cup hot water
4 tsp GF vanilla
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Line cookie pans with parchment paper.

Dissolve coffee in hot water.

In a large bowl, lightly beat butter with icing sugar; beat in dissolved coffee and vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk flours and xanthan gum with cocoa and salt. Stir into butter mixture and stir until combined. Divide into three parts. Shape each into a log one inch around. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, until firm.

Slice logs into generous 1/4” thick rounds. Place 1” apart, on parchment paper-lined pans. Bake one pan at a time at 325F until tops of cookies are firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.

Pour sugar into shallow dish. Coat warm cookies, a few at a time, in sugar. Let cool on rack.

Makes about 5 dozen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lemon-Coconut Cookies

These icebox cookies are like light, lemony-coconutty shortbread. They aren't sugary -- the natural sweetness comes from the coconut.

Fine coconut makes an interesting and flavourful addition to flour mixes for cookies.

1/2 cup unsweetened flaked or medium coconut
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup amaranth flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup fine coconut (like coconut "flour")

First, toast the flaked or medium coconut on a cookie sheet in a preheated, 300F oven (3 to 4 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned -- keep a close eye). Allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, lightly cream butter, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest. In a small bowl, whisk rice flour, amaranth flour, potato starch, and fine coconut. Blend flour and starch mixture into butter mixture. Blend in toasted coconut.

Form dough into a 7" log, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour. Log will have gotten flat on one side. Either roll the log on the table to make round cookies or flatten all four sides against a hard surface to make the log rectangular. Return to refrigerator until dough is full chilled, approximately 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut logs into 1/4" slices and place cookie slices on a cookie pan lined with parchment or with a silpat sheet. Place cookies in preheated oven, reduce heat to 325F, and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool five minutes on pans before transferring to racks to cool completely.

Makes about 28 cookies.

Morning Muffin Bites

Adapted from a recipe for six full-sized muffins in Canadian Living, these are perfect little muffin bites when cooked in mini-muffin tins.

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/3 cup potato starch flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
3 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
dash salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins or currants
1/4 cup medium unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sliced almonds
1 large egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt (soy yogurt works fine)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup grated carrots (2 small to medium)
1/2 cup grated peeled apple (1 small to medium)

Grease 24 mini muffin cups. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours and starches, flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Stir in dried fruit, coconut, and pumpkin seeds, allowing each fleck to be coated by a bit of flour or starch.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg, brown sugar, yogurt, and oil until well combined. Stir in carrot and apple.

Stir wet ingredients into dry, mixing just until moistened. Spoon batter evenly into prepared mini-muffin tins and bake, testing doneness after 12 to 15 minutes. Time might depend on your oven and the moisture of the carrot and apple you used.

Makes 24 bite-sized muffins.

Gluten-Free "Pumpernickel" Bread

My favourite gluten-free yeast bread to bother with, this recipe is adapted from Bette Hagman's pumpernickel recipe, which makes either three mini-loaves or one sandwich loaf and a few spare muffin-shaped loaves and therefore makes me crazy.

I've adapted amounts to make two reasonable-sized and reasonable-shaped loaves in two 5x9" loaf pans. I've also used a different mix of flours with a bit more whole grain.

Eat one loaf and freeze the other for sandwiches. Cream cheese topped with cold-smoked salmon or gravlax is wonderful on this bread.

2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup amaranth flour
1 cup potato starch flour
3/4 cup skim milk powder (powdered soy milk works fine)
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tsp xanthan gum
4 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp salt

1 cup warm water
2 tbsp dry yeast
2 tsp sugar

1 1/4 cups additional warm water
4 tbsp molasses
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp canola oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Grease two 5x9" loaf pans. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flours and starches, powdered milk, fleaxseed meal, first measure of sugar, cocoa powder, xanthan gum, caraway seeds, and salt. Whisk well to combine.

In a separate, small bowl, dissolve second measure of sugar in the first measure of warm water. Sprinkle with yeast. Set aside and keep skin-temperature warm until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the second measure of warm water, molasses, vinegar, oil, and eggs until well blended.

Using an electric mixer, beat water and egg mixture into dry ingredients until well blended. Beat in yeast water mixture and keep mixing for two to three minutes.

Scrape batter, evenly divided, into prepared loaf pans. Smooth the top. Place a greased piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of each loaf. Cover loaves with a towel and set aside somewhere warm and draft-free until the loaves reach the top of the pans.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Bang the loaf pans lightly on the counter to release any large air bubbles. Bake loaves for approximately 1 hour. (If the tops of the loaves begin to darken excessively, cover lightly with foil.)

Raspberry Cream Torte

I made this cake for Easter, with homemade raspberry/blackberry jam, which I made many jars of in celebration of plumbers who unplugged our deep freeze and didn't plug it back in, causing the defrosting of our frozen berries. I found my sponge cake a bit dry, but that might have been because my Easter brunch got postponed a day due to snowstorm. It might also have been because I got distracted and beat the hell out of the egg whites.

The sponge cake recipe is adapted from Rebecca Reilly's indispensable Gluten-Free Baking.

Dad said his mother called this kind of cake "Washington Pie."

3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch flour

5 eggs, brought to room temperature and separated
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 tbsp lemon juice, plus 1/2 tsp
1/4 tsp salt

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup GF icing sugar
2/3 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios

Preheat oven to 325F. Line two 9" round cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk flour and starch. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and ribbons form. Stir in vanilla, lemon peel, and 2 tbsp lemon juice (reserving the 1/2 tsp for later).

In a medium glass or copper bowl, beat egg whites with lemon juice and salt until soft peaks form.

Fold 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture, to loosen. Pour remaining egg whites over top and sprinkle gently with flour mixture. Fold until well-blended. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until surface springs back from a light touch (though this test is tricky because rice flour is crustier than it is springy). Invert pans on a cake rack until fully cooled.

When the cake is fully cool, slice cake layers in half horizontally with a serrated knife, to make four layers in all. Whip cream with icing sugar.

Place the bottom cake layer on a cake plate; spread with 1/3 of the jam and top with 1/4 of the whipped cream. Repeat with next two layers. Top with remaining layer and spread remaining cream on top and sides. Decorate top with chopped pistachios.

Darling Clementine Chocolate Cake

I adapted this, tho' not significantly, from the recipe in Nigella Lawson's "Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame" in her book, Feast. Mostly, I replaced oranges with clementines and adapted the measurements from weights to cups, for those North Americans unequipped with a kitchen scale. (How they survive, I know not.)

With or without a dollop of whipped cream, this cake is even better from the refrigerator the second day.

4 small clementines (approximately 375 g total weight)
6 large eggs
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups ground almonds (almond flour)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Scrub the clementines and put them in a saucepan with some cold water. Bring them to the boil and then simmer for about an hour, or until soft. Drain and, when cool, cut the clementines in half and remove any seeds. Put whole clementines, peel and all, in a food processor and chop until fairly well pulverized but some flecks of peel remain discernible. Chill until fully cooled.

When ready to assemble the cake, grease a 20cm springform pan. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Transfer clementine pulp to a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients, give a good stir, and then mix well with an electric mixer on medium speed until homogeneous and glossy.

Pour into the prepared springform pan and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour, checking after 45 minutes. The cake is done when only a few crumbs cling to a tester poked into the centre.