Archive for ‘just food.’

September 19, 2010

Eureka! The perfect gluten-free flour mix for muffins

We have officially welcomed Fall, even though she’s not due to arrive until September 21. Jon has been singing “I love football” from his permanent weekend spot on the couch, and for me? This is the perfect season for baking (or, the perfect season for baking gluten free). :)

Gluten-free baking is tricky. When I first found out I had celiac disease, I figured I’d be eating rice for the rest of my life. After a few months, I discovered rice flour (ta-da!). I was so excited I decided I’d make my favorite pumpkin cookies, and I simply substituted the all-purpose flour the recipe called for with my rice flour. Imagine my disappointment when they just crumbled apart when I tried to pick them up. You see, gluten is the sticky part of wheat, barley, and rye–without it or some other binding agent, your baked goods will just fall apart in your hands. From there I learned that the key to gluten-free baking is mixing flours and adding a little xantham gum to hold everything together.

But on to the gluten-free pumpkin muffins, and the absolutely perfect gluten-free muffin flour dough I created.

See that texture? Just like wheat flour muffins. (If you don’t eat gluten free, you’re probably thinking, “so what?” But if you’re used to the horrible textures and aftertastes of gluten-free baking, it’s kind of a big deal.)

I adapted Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for simple pumpkin muffins. I added a teaspoon of vanilla (because you just can’t bake anything pumpkin without a little vanilla) and instead of wheat flour, I added this mix:

1 part brown rice flour
1 part sweet sorghum flour
1 part millet flour, with a little potato starch mixed in to keep the muffins from being too dry

Why did I use those flours? Because it’s what I had in the pantry. I also added a teaspoon of xantham gum, my staple for gluten-free baking. And voila! Perfect gluten-free pumpkin muffins on the first try. (I should also add that I’ve only tried this recipe once, and I should probably test it out a few more times before calling it perfect, but oh well.) These muffins are light and airy, yet moist, and they puffed up beautifully in the oven. I wouldn’t use this mix for cookies though–I tried that last weekend and was left with little cake-like bites instead of flat, round cookies. The perfect gluten-free cookie flour mix is next on my to-do list.


August 24, 2010

Zabaione: 1 part egg, 1 part sugar, 1 part vino, a bajillion parts love

When Jon and I were in Rome, we stopped for dinner at an amazing restaurant near the opera. I remember the food being great, but the showstopper was dessert: zabaione mousse.

We had never heard of it before, so we figured, why not try it? And the dessert that showed up at our table was a warm, sweet egg custard that melted in your mouth. YUM. Of all the desserts in the world, zabaione must rank in the top five (which makes me wonder–what do you think are the other four?)

So we decided to make it tonight, as a practice round (it’s the perfect dessert for the holidays). So first, we whipped up some heavy cream to fold into the zabaione after it’s whisked. Easy enough, right? So on to the fun stuff.

Four egg yolks + 1/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup Marsala wine = amore italiano. Mix ingredients in a bowl in a double boiler. We also mixed in a dash of cinnamon and a drop of vanilla extract to add a little depth to the flavor.

Start whisking (you’re going to do this for another 15 minutes, FYI). We cheated–and used a hand mixer.

After 10 minutes, the yolk mixture will triple in size and pale in color. Remove the bowl from the double boiler and place it on a towel–and keep whisking! If you stop for even a second the egg can cook to sides of the warm bowl.

Once the zabaione has cooled down just a bit, start folding in the whipped cream. (It’s almost ready!)

If you’re planning on serving it warm (and could there be a cozier treat?), spoon straight into glasses or cups and enjoy! You can also chill it further, or serve it over fruit or cake. But honestly, there’s nothing better than spooning this gooey, eggy custard up right out of the bowl.

Enjoy! Now what am I going to do with four egg whites?