Saturday, September 1, 2012

Migration

As much as I love the Blogger format, having the new webpage in Wordpress will make things that I've wanted to do since the beginning a lot more doable. Such as in post printing. You can print the recipe without ever having to leave the post itself. And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head, so while I will leave the posts that are currently here as they are, I'm going to migrate the recipes and the new ones will be posted at http://eatsgeeks.com. I hope you guys don't mind. Tell me what you think, and if too many think it's a bad idea, I won't move things, but wordpress lets me do a lot of organizational stuff that I feel needs to be done and isn't as easy with Blogger.

What are your thoughts? Is Wordpress or Blogger superior?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hamburger Buns

Well, despite being in the middle of the Hurricane Isaac path, I have enough going to actually post up a recipe. Determination for the win! I am however, going to keep it fairly simple. I worked on this recipe amdist preparing for the Hurricane and everything else, but we were responsible and paced ourselves from the first time we heard about it all. I had A taping up the windows just in case one of them shatters and taking care of our babies (Ie Kitties) while I tinkered away at the recipe. It took three tries before I was happy. I liked the flavor of the first one, but it seemed too dense. I wanted light.

Usually, I go to the Linda the Gluten Free Homemaker recipe for Gluten Free hamburger buns and while they are FULL of flavor, I was really wanting something a bit lighter still. So I poked around the internet and nothing looked quite right. They either completely relied on rice flour or even worse, they did it by cups! Nothing wrong with rice or doing it with cups, but with gluten free recipes being what they are and trying to get back to my pastry school beginnings, I wanted a more 'certain' product. But I was going to try some different recipes and see what I liked about them, and see if I could figure out how to make it more  to my taste.

I'll tell you, some people may say they came up with a recipe on their own, but it's rarely true. You have ideas of what this person did that worked well, and this other thing that happened that you liked. Things and people adapt and create new and wonderful things, and today was no different. First I tried the Food Philospher's recipe and while I loved the flavor, it just wasn't as fluffy as I wanted but I liked the texture, so I tried Carla's Gluten Free Recipe Box. but making them, I did discover what I liked the most.

I've noticed that potato starch and egg whites give me a lot of structure and porous texture, which I personally like.  But I also want something a bit soft and pliable. I want it to have give and to soak up the grease on a good burger.

Hamburger Buns 

Difficulty: Complex but not difficult
Time: 1hr 20minutes
Makes: 8-9 buns

Mise en Place

  • Stand Mixer (whisk and paddle attachment)
  • Measuring cups
  • Microwave or stove top
  • Thermometer
  • Baking spray (Pam or the like)
  • English Muffin rings or some form for the bread
  • Sheet pans (I double pan to even out the heat)
  • Parchment paper
  • Tea Pot (optional)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Pinch bowl
  • piping bag (optional)
  • Pastry brush (optional)
  • Aluminum foil

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Milk scalded and cooled to 105F
  • 1 TBSP Honey
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons instant dry yeast
  • 2 eggs, 1 separated out
  • 90grams of Sorghum Flour
  • 50grams of Millet Flour
  • 65grams of Tapioca Starch
  • 130 grams of Potato Starch
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Flax Seed
  • 2 tsp boiling water (I just heat it up till it boils in the microwave)
  • 1/2 tsp guar gum
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning with salt ( Like Cajun seasoning or Italian Seasoning with a bit of sea salt)
  • Sesame Seeds
First lay your parchment down on your sheet pans and put your muffin rings or the like onto it and spray it with your cooking spray. If you're using something like a muffin top form, ignore the parchment and spray. First and foremost, scald the milk. I do this the easy way and heat the milk in the microwave for about 45 seconds to a minute. Then let it cool to 105F or so. Too hot will kill the yeast. You can put the honey into the milk but don't put the yeast in until you have confirmed that it's cool enough.

Now, take the separated egg and whip it to a firm peak in the mixer on high. I will often use cream of tarter just to make sure the whip is firm but that's up to you. Once it's firm, I will check on the milk and if it's cool enough, stir in the yeast. If not, give it more time by drying mixing the flours and starches together in a separate bowl with a whisk. Stir the yeast in and let it sit. The honey and the natural sugars in the milk will get it going just fine in about five minutes and it gives you time to do other things. Like preheating the oven to 175 degrees. I don't do this step, because I've set up a small proofing box of my own for my kitchen but if you don't have a nice warm place to proof the dough, do the oven proofer.

Boiling the water will also help pass the time. I just throw it in the microwave for about a minute and scoop 2 tsps out of it and into a small pinch bowl that I've already placed the chia seeds and flax seed into. Once the yeasty milk is ready (this is dry instant, so you don't -have- to proof it, I just like to make sure), keep the mixer going on low and add the yeast milk, the oil, vinegar, egg and chia seed/flax seed mixture and let it mix until it's a bit slushy.


Then add the flours and guar gum and mix on high speed for about five minutes until a soft nape forms. It looks like the dough is tearing away from the paddle.


I then scoop the dough out into a piping bag and pipe it into the muffin tins, you can also use a scooper or spoon. I spray it again with the cooking spray and put it in my proof box. If you're using the oven, turn the oven off and place your pan into the oven for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Now, you'll still have a left over yolk at this point. Add just a bit of water to it and mix it up. When the dough is proofed, very carefully remove it from the oven and preheat the oven to 375 or already having done it if your kitchen is warm enough to have proofed it without the oven. Brush the yolk mixture LIGHTLY over the tops of the dough and sprinkle with sesame seeds. The dough is very fragile at this point so be careful with the brush.

When the oven is preheated, place pan in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and forms, placing additional sheet pan or some form of covering over the top to steam the bread a bit soft until it cools on it's own. Cut with a serrated knife and enjoy with your favorite sandwich or burger.



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Tricks and Tips

When dealing with Gluten Free flours, you have to realize one vital thing. You HAVE to weigh things. They will never turn out the same if you use a cup or what have you. In addition, GF flours have different weights per equiviliant cups. So when you  convert, you have to additionally convert into the separate weights needed. If you look up my cake recipe, you'll see this is how I converted the cake flour into gluten free once I'd decided my percentages. Here's some weights.

Evil Cake Flour is 100grams per cup
Evil Bread Flour is 136grams per cup
Evil AP Flour is 127grams per cup

However

Almond Flour/Meal is 112 grams per cup
Potato Starch is 170 grams per cup
Rice Flour is 158 grams per cup

That's a lot of variations, ain't it?

So what you do is when you've decided on percentage you want of each to substitute. So if you have a recipe that calls for 2 2/3  cups of Cake Flour, that translates to 266.6 or 267grams of Cake Flour. If you decide on a 60/40 split between protein and starch. That would mean for example : 267*.60= 160 grams of Protein and 107grams of Starch. However, because GF flours have a different density, you then have to multiple those weights by the density of the GF flours. In this example, that would be 160x 1.12 = 179.4grams of protein and 181.56grams of starch.  Equally a total weight of 360 grams.

(Amount in cups) x (Weight of type of Flour called for in recipe) = Amount in grams
(Amount in grams/Percentage in Starches) + (Amount in grams/Percentage of Starches)= Amount in grams
(Grams in category (proteins/starches/etc) x (Weight of GF alternative per cup) = Amount of GF alternative needed

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tech & Fun Thursdays

First, I hope everyone is doing well. Secondly, if you'll look up at the address bar above this window, you'll see that A Sweet Geek has found a new home at http://www.eatsgeeks.com. We're still working with Blogger as our blog service but liked the idea of a .com for a bit more exposure, even though I'm -sure- you're sharing the site with other people you know, right? *grin*

In addition, this is going to mean I will hopefully (once I remember any website formatting I've done before) that you'll have more content to poke around in like any good Spark and I can be egotistical and vain and show off all the fun stuff I get into and want to get into. In this case, Eats Geeks. This is the parent name for my Food Service Company. Geeks of all types will be welcome as well as the mundanes. Why Geeks you ask? Mostly because Geeks pride themselves on their Knowledge and it's a fact that they are obsessed. I'm obsessed with tasty yummy and especially sweet things and the knowledge of how to make and improve them so I'm a Sweet Geek. Here, let me explain it even more simply.


I'm not completely socially inept, so I wouldn't be a Nerd or Dork, although just like everyone else, there is a time and place for those people as well. There is no 'bad' type of Nerd, just whether it's an appropriate situation. So tell me, what are you a Nerd about? And as we move into our new home, what would you like to see more/any of?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chicken Nudges

Chicken Nudges

I have a few staples on my list that I make fairly regularly because I know they're good and they're simple to freeze and make later and still be 'fresh' enough my brain doesn't rebel against the idea of eating them. I should be less of a food snob but when I -have- to eat something repeatedly, I feel extremely depressed and my mood sinks. Food security is security for me. If I can find some way to eat something in the kitchen that I want and that appeals to me, I feel as if I can conquer the world. If not, I start to wonder what's next. A bit silly, I know but it's one of those ever so lovely quirks I have.

But one thing that I can make and have on hand and use in a million different ways is chicken nuggets. Now, I make them a bit bigger, but not full size tenders so that I can cut them up and use them in stirfry (which A adores) or I can dip them in whatever I have and so on. The possibilities are limitless. There are a few options on how to do this, but my basic recipe for GF chicken nudges is as follows.

Difficulty: Basic Basic
Time: About an hour
Mise en Place
  • Sheet Pan
  • Parchment Paper
  • 3 flat containers/bowls/etc
  • Deep fryer or pan deep enough to fry (Set at 360)
  • Frying oil (Canola/Peanut/Vegetable/etc)
  • Slotted metal spoon if using pan
  • Metal tongs
  • Gallon Plastic Ziplock 
  • Hand blender (optional) Whisk or fork also works, just not as well.
Ingredients

1-2 cups of Masa Harina (otherwise known as Corn Flour. It should be in your Hispanic/Mexican aisle in the grocery) or Sorghum flour
4-5 eggs/yolks/whites/some mixture therein (or egg replacement = w/water)
3 cups coconut flour (Optional) or GF bread crumbs
1 Tbsp each Paprika, Garlic Powder,
1 cup of pickle juice/buttermilk/ milk and vinegar (1cupmilk to 1 TBSP Vinegar)
2 lbs of Chicken


Preparation: Cut the chicken into the size pieces you want. Soak the chicken in the plastic bags along with the acid base (pickle juice/buttermilk) for about an hour before you need to start prepping.

It's really pretty basic. I make sure there are 3 flat bottomed bowls or tupperware that are big enough. I scramble all of my eggs with a hand blender since it makes sure there is no random proteins causing clumps of eggs that will then drop off. Then lay some parchment paper down on  a sheet pan that's small enough to go in your freezer. And yes, I have a tiny kitchen so things go where things fit. In this case, in front of the microwave. Though now, even it's been moved.


Once it's soaked enough, you grab them out of the bag with your left hand, this becomes your 'wet' hand. Drop a piece of chicken into the flour. Take  your right hand and coat the chicken, then -drop- it into the egg mixture. Coating it with your left hand then drop it into the crumb or coconut mixture. Coat again with the right hand and lay down on the parchment covered sheet pan. This method of dipping will keep your hands somewhat clean and mobile. Crusted fingers =/= yummy.

Fill the pan, then stick in the freezer for about 20 minutes until chicken is solid and crumb isn't going to just slide off. You can fry at this point or you can coat it all again for a second layer then freeze again but that's up to you. This is also the point to turn your deep fryer up to get it to heat up in time. If you're wanting to make this for long term use, ignore the deep fryer bit and let them freeze a bit more solidly and then you can just drop them into a CLEAN ziplock bag and use them like any other prepared fried chicken bag.

Once you've got enough crumb on your nuggets, it's time to turn up the heat. Dropping enough for one layer into your deep fryer basket (but no more), drop them into the ready oil (usually, this is when the green light is lit). Set your timer for 2 minutes. Then bring them out of the oil and shake the excess oil off before dropping them again for 2 more minutes. Repeat this a second and third time. By the time they are done, you should have cooked it for 6-7 minutes and have a deep golden brown like this:





The sauce is whatever you want to use. I made my own marinara for this shot. I've also taken and used hot wing sauce and bleu cheese dressing (Marzetti's is GF)





Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday's Tips & Tricks : Xanthan Gum

Okay, everyone -knows- that you have to have xanthan gum if you're making something gluten free. FINALLY, the people who make it realize that there's a market for people who just want to make something for a friend who is GF, but having to buy a $12 package of something that they only use a teaspoon of, is kinda ridiculous so they have mini packs now. But there's something even worse about xanthan gum. It's a gum. So it makes GF products have a gummy texture. It's not anything new but it seems to have missed a few people by so I thought I'd reiterate it here.

Whatever amount you 'need' of xanthan gum, instead mix that much 1/2 and 1/2 of Chia seeds and Flax seed with twice as much boiling water.

For example: You need 1 tsp of xg, then you need 1/2 tsp of Chia Seeds (Link is for a smaller more manageable size if you want to try it out. I buy bulk for around $20 and it lasts FOREVER in the freezer. Going on a year currently and they still work fabulously) and 1/2tsp of Flaxseeds along with 2tsp of boiling water.



It will cool down quickly so I just boil more than I need. Also, don't forget to remove that amount of water from the liquid in your recipe. Then add it before you add your liquids into the recipe. This works amazing for breads, tortillas, etc. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for cookies but you could try it and see if it works for you.

Also, on a side note, I'm getting very excited. I'm going to the Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo in Dallas on September 8-9!!! I can't wait to come back and show you all I've learned!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Changing things up

Let's face it, living gluten free is all about changing things up. The way we eat, the way we think, the way we do. If I'm going on one of my beloved road trips, say to the Gluten Free Allergen Free Expo in Dallas like I am in a few weeks, I have to take GF munchies with me instead of just stopping somewhere and grabbing something or otherwise, I won't be able to enjoy the vendor fair or the cooking classes.

I also now have to have about 10-13 containers of flour substitutes in my kitchen at any given point instead of 4. (Used to have Cake, AP, Bread and Pastry). I have to ask exactly what is in something when I eat out instead of just going with whatever looks yummy. I have to send A into the baking aisle to get my spices or GF treats like Pamela's Product Pecan Shortbread Cookies because it's the frickin' baking aisle and there's flour floating in the air that's going to make me blow up like a balloon and give me tummy issues.

But you probably don't care about that, you want to know why I'm rambling. Well, my new job takes place mostly on the weekend so that means a Saturday recipe update isn't really doable as easily. So here's the new lineup.

Monday - News from over the weekend or random tidbits that I want to share.
Tuesday - Tips and Tricks
Wednesday - New Recipe day

Other stuff might happen on other days, but these will be the set up. And so that's your bit of random for today.

Ta ta from Tabi

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A week in pictures

Okay, so no 'new' recipe today, but I've had a bit of fun this past week playing with the cake flour stuff, and then the Brazilian Cheese Bread. Then A had a truly brilliant idea. The Cheese Bread puffs up like dough...and it rolls like dough...why not see if you can make a pizza with it. So we did.

First of course, we preheated the oven to 425. We took about 900grams of the dough and rolled it out thin until it fit into a baking pan and oiled the pan. Docking the middle of the dough so it wouldn't poof out as much with  a fork, we then prebaked it for about 10 minutes.

Then loaded it up with sauce, asparagus, and chicken mozzarella sausage. We used Daiyu cheese for the topping since we'd been wanting to try out how it tasted/melted etc in case we wanted to use it in the restaurant. I wasn't really expecting to like it too much, but it actually wasn't too bad. However, I was much happier when I did a sausage and cheese pizza on Friday night with the dough. The Vegan cheese was good, but I'm not sure I'd use it unless I couldn't have dairy anymore. That's just me being picky though.


With the Daiyu Cheese



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Brazilian Cheese Bread

So ever had one of those days where it seems you can do no right? Today was one of those days for us. Couldn't get up on time, had drunk all the milk I needed today last night, etc...but I was going to make the Brazilian Cheese Bread if it killed me, I needed to take something to the Celiac Support Group tonight and it seemed like that was the only thing that I could count on, as I forgot it was august and if I made buttercream for the tops of the cupcakes I'd made originallly, it'll be all gooey by the time we got there. (It's an hour drive). *sigh*

And then the other stuff happened and we had to run out for milk and then my pathetically tiny oven only has one rack and I could only bake one pan of  them at a time, so a fair batch took me about 3 hours since you could probably nom an entire batch by yourself if you're not careful. These things are ADDICTIVE. And so light you never realize how much you've eaten till they're gone.  Simple recipe too just don't goof up like I did.

250ml Milk (see this is the part I  screwed up. I added too much milk and butter, so I ended up having to later double everything else when I realized) (You can use alternative milks)
125g Butter (You can use oils or butter alternatives)

Melt in Microwave until almost boiling, but not quite. Throw into mixer.

Add 500g Tapioca Starch
8g seasoning of choice (salt or Cajun or in this case, Ground Crushed Red Pepper)
2 eggs

Beat  until you start to see strings streaming from bowl to mixer paddle.

Add 500g of Cheese of choice (I usually use a mix of Parmesan and Mozzerella or Cheddar.) (Can use Daiyu or other alternative cheese products as long as they actually melt)

Let cool, then transfer to bowl and place in fridge. Let cool for an hour or so. Preheat oven to 350. Scoop out and roll into balls. Place on parchment and bake for 25-30 minutes. Take out of oven and let cool slightly. Eat and enjoy. They are amazing. I never have any around long enough to take pictures.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Maybe...but not quite right.

Hmmm...So I'm currently working on hacking bread flour like I did with cake flour but it's a bit tougher this go round. My first attempt was okay but it didn't really 'sing' out to me. The crust factor was nice but it dried out WAY too fast to like it long term. The second batch my yeast died so we won't mention it anymore. The third batch...

Hhmmm...that third batch was kinda nice. I did the ratio thing again and had a 40% Starches to 60% whole grain mix and I'm wondering if that's where I screwed it up. It's not bad, don't get me wrong and the crumb is gorgeous. See?


So what caused this happy accident?

I wasn't happy with the use of the quinoa seed that the first batch had, the flavor was a bit weird for me, I thought. So I thought I'd switch it, but with something but what in my ratio.

Attempt at Camp Bread Crust = FAIL
First Batch
35% Sorghum Flour
25% Sweet Potato Starch
10% Potato Starch
10% Sweet Rice Flour
10% Tapioca Starch
10% Quinoa Flour

Second Batch (Doesn't matter)

Seem a bit like hard muffins at first
Third Batch
35% Sorghum Flour
25% Sweet Potato Starch
10% Potato Starch
10% Sweet Rice Flour
10% Tapioca Starch
10% Golden Flaxseed (Milled)


This third batch is what gave the insides the nice chew I liked but it still felt like a not dry but not moist muffin to me. So it's still not right. I am using the same reference recipe as a base that comes from my school textbooks. I think it might work as a GF biscuit scone thing to eat with soup though. Very tasty. But still not quite what I want. So it's back to the kitchen to practice again.

How about your thoughts? What makes a good bread good? And any suggestions for ways to try and incorporate it into this recipe?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

I live in Louisiana and I won't lie, the summers here never seem to end. A day when it's 79 degrees in February? Seen it. What I do love however, is all the options available to us, not just in Louisiana but in the entire United States. We get tomatoes in November and that's great that we can, but they just can't quite match the the sharp tangy yet sweet taste of a tomato fresh off the vine in July. I think we're spoiled in many ways and we restrict ourselves only to the things we know.

We don't pay attention to the 'season' of a vegetable or fruit because we don't have to, but that unrestricted plenty has allowed us to not leave our comfort zone of food. I'm plenty guilty of it and of course, finding out about my wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity has made me even a little fearful of doing so but when I'd thought about it, I realized it shouldn't. Just because I couldn't have some things didn't mean I couldn't explore what I could have and see what it could do for me.

And you can never stop exploring, because if you let what is be the total sum of your experience than you'll never truly enjoy what could be. It's as simple as "Without sorrow, there is no joy." That's the lesson I take into today as I sit here and wait for my latest creation to rise and see if my idea for bread flour and a bread recipe pans out the way I want. I already made a few unintentional mistakes that I'm wondering if I have to go back and fix in the next batch but just imagine. No matter how many loaves it takes, no how many tears of frustration I cry, when it does turn out, it'll be something to really shout about. I'm looking forward to this even if I am baking bread on the first day of August in a building that is not very well insulated and has no central air!

Enjoy whatever your day brings you and remember to live fully!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

R&D: Hacking cake Flour

The other night I was doing a mindless internet crawl and poking about things and came to a realization; almost everything can be jury rigged. That is to say that even if it's not exactly the right thing, you can usually make something stand in for something else. Sometimes, it even does a better job than the original. Prime examples of this are Sugru and Alton Brown. I'm pretty sure if you're looking up food recipes, you don't need to be told who Alton Brown is. The guy pretty much revolutionized the kitchen industry with the idea that you don't have to have a gadget for EVERY single process in your kitchen. He's used ziplocks as piping bags and more. Sugru on the other hand might have slipped past your radar. It's an epoxy like material designed to 'fix' things but it's very moldable and it's actually a lot of fun to play with but the things I've seen this stuff do is amazing. From safeguarding a young'uns camera like they have highlighted on their website currently all the way to holding a dishwasher together or even for product prototypes.

Which of course reminds me, I need to order some.

But the idea is the same, yes, we are a consumer nation and I'm more than guilty of my gadgets and gizmos but not everything has to be the same, especially not when it comes to your health. So I got to thinking and was thinking about how all the GF flours weren't just a single flour so I'd have to come up with my own composite but how to start without practically taking a food science course in addition to the other two degrees I now have finished. My biggest issue with gluten free foods was and is how dense they are and that icky gumminess that seems to coat all of them inside and out. Which basically means I dislike a great deal of gluten free foods (sucks to be me, inoright?) But back to the basic problem. How to start figuring out ratios.

Well, to start, rarely is anything 50/50. Fair is not fair in any world but even more so in something created. So I decided (luckily as it turned out) to go with a 60/40 ratio. The question was what ingredients to use. Most of the GF recipes I've seen have used a combination of six ingredients for their 'flour' mixture. Brown Rice, White Rice, Nut Flours, Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, and Sweet Rice. Of those, the nut and Brown Rice could be considered proteins while the others were starches. So by their own separations they gave me a simple split. Proteins and Starches, which is what a lot of baked goods already are (have I mentioned lately how much I adore having had food scientists for instructors during Culinary training?).

I could have gone about this in a lot of different ways but I was actually a little silly about it all. I hated the gumminess so I wanted the starches to be the smaller part of the ratio. Even if it meant the heavier (or so I thought) items were in larger ratio. So I decided that with my first batch the starches would be the 40% and the proteins would be the larger portion. I kept hoping it wouldn't be a rock in my mouth but I could always adjust in the next batch. Well, since the starches were 40% and there were 4 of them, might as well just split it evenly the first time, right? Yeah, remember what I said about fair? Throw it out the window...because in this case, fair was me being lazy and having no idea how to tell which one would be better.

So we had the starch ratio, now it was time for the protein. This part I wasn't so lazy on. I like the flavor of nuts but I don't want a nutty cake so I hedged in the favor of the brown rice flour mostly because I had a ton of it, I grind my own nut meals and so on. Again, trying to resist the lazy part of it all by splitting it down the center and still worried about the flavor, I went for a 35/25 ratio of the 60 ratio for the protein half. Then it was just a matter of what recipe to try it out with. I knew just the one. The one I'd missed most. The white cake recipe from my Culinary School. I made this cake so much and still loved it. I had to make it over three times for my wedding cake final and still loved it. (We never did figure out why it kept sinking in the middle but only on the bottom layer sized pan.) So I dug out my recipe books from school and dug it up.

It looks just like the evil cakes I used to make in school
Now here's the thing that occurred to me once I looked at the recipe. Most of my culinary stuff was done in weight (we even had to buy a scale for class) but once I was out, I started measuring again despite it was rarely a consistent product. Don't ask me why; but it was probably laziness on my part. But looking at the recipe, I realized that recipes when converting from metric to standard are often drastically different. Then I got to wondering about how the same size cookie can be a different weight based on the ingredients so I bet flours do as well. This led me on yet another search of the interwebs which led me to a wonderful little converter which made me realize I was right. Which if you just use a cup of almond meal, it's going to have a different volume than a cup of cake flour. So I had to do math. Ick.

So the result is.

360g / .35 (The 35% Brice) = 126g
126g x 1.60 to make up for the difference between 100cake flour and 160g of Brice = 201g of Brown Rice Flour is needed for this particular recipe.
Isn't that a beautiful crumb?
So the weights I used for my cake flour are as follows after multiplying the ratio by the percent difference between cake flour and the current flour. The amounts in parenthesis are how my cake flour which was 360grams turned into for each GF flour. It will be a more weighty cake gram wise.

Brown Rice Flour = 35% x1.60 = (201g)
Almond Flour = 25% x  1.12 = (90g)
Tapioca Starch = 10% x 1.25 =  (45g)
Potato Starch = 10% x 1.70 = (61g)
White Rice Flour = 10% x 1.60 = (57g)
Sweet Rice Flour = 10% x 2.04 = (73g)
Total = 527g
Original cake flour weight was only 360g

Tastes sooooo good!

Now, it is still a bit denser than normal cake but it's hardly noticeable and the layers don't fluff up as much so you won't really cut the top off for even layers as it tends to be rather flat and not fluffy in the middle like most cakes. The main reason I'm not putting up the exact recipe for you to use is that for the whole rest of the recipe, I'm using an ingredient that's only available to bakeries or craft stores and isn't as easy to get a hold of. However, this ratio method seems to work really well for any recipe calling for cake flour.

My only word of caution is to make sure all ingredients are at room temperature and get them as fluffy as possible when making this. My recipe calls for whipping the egg whites into stiff peaks and that helps so much with the lift of this cake. Plus cream of tarter is good with egg whites too.

Anyways, good eats!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I blame the Gluten but it was my own fault.

Okay, I was stupid. Foolish and stupid. I was really in need of a little man made relaxation last night so I thought I'd grab a pack of Cider. Only they were out. I'd been told that Mike's Lemonade; a brand I went to before I'd found out about the Wheat Allergy and Gluten sensitivity, was okay for non Celiacs. Now I just wish I could find that person and strangle them. So yes, I got the Mike's...which was very tasty.

But oh man did my stomach complain. And my head. I have a good head on my shoulders even when I drink. Three Mike's at 6% alcohol should not have put me under. But I could barely stand let alone walk and my stomach swelled to disproportionate portions. In addition, my brain was not computing at all. I was there watching myself, going "Something is not right about that statement, but I can't figure out what." every time I or A spoke. Ultimately, we decided that it was a combination of the alcohol and the beer. The problem was, later, when my coordination came back, the stomach issues continued as did the foggy head. And when I woke up this morning? EVERYTHING hurt. My joints, my back. But not like a hangover. But just my entire body was sensitive and out of tune. I'm still groggy now at almost 3 in the afternoon and my normal pep and energy is just not there. Why did I ever think this was a good idea.

So...

The R&D post I was going to have up for you today will instead be next week, and it's very exciting. I HACKED cake flour and it was awesome. I have a GF cake flour and I LOVE it.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

French Macarons: Stylishly late

French Macarons: Stylishly Late


I was going to have French Macarons up for Bastille Day last week (That's July 14th for you silly Americans who only observe your own holidays) but life was a bit busy slapping me in the head. But I'm over it now and I made a batch to make up for it and so here it is. I guess I really needed that slap in the head since I'd forgotten my dreams, hopes and purpose. This blog is part of that purpose and I'd started to let it fall behind but now it's time to pick up the slack.

But not just for this blog, also for my dream. Six years ago, my dream was pretty tame. I wanted to make food that made people happy. If I could do that, I'd be happy or so I thought. Then my best friend was diagnosed with Celiac disease just as I was getting ready to go to Culinary School for Baking and Patisserie...the very thing that at the time I believed she'd never be allowed to eat ever again. How was I supposed to make things she'd be able to eat? And enjoy. Trust me, I tried some of the gluten free things and they were either so dry I needed a glass of milk with them or the texture was just horrific. (Thankfully things have improved since then)

But I went through the motions, and more than anything else I did while I was at school, I was grateful that I had a food scientist for an instructor. I learned what gluten did and why it was so important in so many foods. I also learned exactly what it was. But life, being what it was, I ended up getting caught up in it again after I graduated until I realized that I was not only undervaluing my skills, I was undervaluing what I had to offer. After a bad incident that mostly had to do with my lack of self confidence and standing up for myself, I decided to figure out about management what I had figured out about gluten and wheat. What it was, why it was, and how it worked.

Right now, I can't say if I was just pretending so I could put off reality for a bit longer or what, but about two and a half years into my degree, I started having my own issues. Digestive things that many of you already know about, plus I was tired all of the time. I could summon energy up through sheer force of will but it exhausted me for days afterwards. A was worried and I was worried. It wasn't just about getting older. Something was wrong. And then I was wandering through the baking aisle at the grocery and my hands started itching. I didn't think anything about it at first (after all, hindsight is always 20/20)  but when I slept it off for almost a full night and day afterwards, I called up my mum (best friend's mother) and she had recently been doing the gluten free diet as well, since Celiac disease can be heridatary and some of her own symptoms had eased.

Can you imagine my horror? I was trained and loved to work with bread; how horrible would it be never to bite into a soft loaf again. To never wrap everything up in a burrito...or to make a roux for gumbo (Hey, I live in Louisiana, this is a serious concern here) but I was so miserable, I was desperate. I prayed for the first time in a long time, please don't let it be this even as I took all the precautions I could. And sadly, my symptoms disappeared. I had more energy than I could recall having. I wasn't disappearing to the bathroom more than once a class period. But I was dying on the inside. I'd spent a lot of my money and others money on getting a culinary degree that seemed worthless now.

After wallowing in self pity for a few days though, I realized this could be the best thing that could happen to me. I wanted to make food that my best friend could eat and enjoy; I wanted to make food that EVERYONE could eat and enjoy. And this was the perfect chance to do so. If there was no flour in the house, then there was no chance of cross contamination. If all I made were gluten free things, I could taste test them and make sure they were good without going "I'd never eat this myself" as I've seen a few so called gluten free chefs do (and no, I'm not naming names).

But it was also a force to hold me to my convictions even in times I felt weak. There was a so called light at the end of the tunnel. I found out that I actually had a wheat allergy and just a gluten sensitivity. Which means I might develop Celiac disease later but it is far easier to explain to someone that if any wheat touches your throat it might close up and you might die in their restaurant for them to take you seriously. I've seen the shortcuts kitchens take.

However, I was overwhelmed, how was I going to get the upfront money? I had no clue and it slipped through my fingers again as I neared graduation. But then I realized, it doesn't have to start off grand and what could be simpler than a take and bake for allergen free foods. If you want to help me get started, great...here's the link to the fundraiser. But I'm going to do it,with or without help. I'm working on the business plan, I've got someone who's willing to help me with finding a good location and plenty of interest. I just have to get off my butt and realize my dream. KISS. Keep it simple, stupid and follow the dream, the rest will come.

TL;DR: I'm human and I'm trying to get back on the right path. More importantly; French Macarons = Yum! These do not have the coconut like many Americans are used to. This are dainty little cookies that are naturally gluten free, very very French, one of the first desserts I ever made in Culinary School and the first dessert I ever made as I journeyed into my own exploration of all things Gluten Free.
Rustic French Macaron

Difficulty: Easier than whipping a meringue! Just practice patience
Time: Prep Time: 15-20 minutes. Rest time: 1hr  Bake Time: 10-15 min Total: About Hour and half.
Makes: 20-25 sandwich cookies

Mise en Place

  • Stand mixer w/ whisk attachment
  • Lemon juice
  • Sheet pans that fit within one another
  • Piping bags with large smooth tip
  • Spatula
  • mixing bowl
  • Fine mesh sifter
  • Spoons
  • Timer
  • microwave
  • toothpick or craft stick
  • parchment paper 
  • Coffee grinder 
  • Kitchen scale
  • measuring bowls or the like to put everything in once its measured
Ingredients 
  • 160 grams sliced almonds (I use non blanched almonds for a more rustic look plus they're cheaper)  or almond meal if you buy it.
  • 180 grams of Powdered sugar
  • 140 grams of Egg whites ( I separate the eggs myself since I haven't had the greatest experience with premade egg whites whipping up)
  • 180 grams of Icing sugar (I'll show you how to make this instead of buying it)
  • Half a dropper or more of your preferred flavoring (in this case raspberry)
  • Food coloring (No taste version if possible, red and black just taste nasty in large doses)
  • 12 ounces of chocolate flavor of choice
  • Heavy cream to sight (Use less with white chocolate but milk and dark vary between 2oz to 3oz for recipe)
  • Vanilla splash


First, before anything else, use the lemon juice to whip down EVERYTHING that will touch your egg whites. This means the mixer bowl, the whisk and a spatuala if you're going to scrap down the bowl. Just put a splash in the bowl and use a paper towel to wipe it down then move the same piece of towel around the whisk. This will get rid of any residual fat on the equipment and will make sure your eggs don't fall. Also use the paper towel with lemon to wipe down the coffee grinder or blender and then dry it well because it's going to touch the sugar that will touch your eggs.


Ignore the egg yolks in the background
Next, you're going to measure out your sugar and place it in batches into the cleaned and dried coffee grinder. Grind until a fine powder. This is called Icing sugar because it is still in cube form like granulated but smaller. Place in a bowl off to the side.  Now that you've got that out of the way grind the sliced almonds until they are meal like. Think powder but don't grind them so much they turn into peanut butter. After they are powder, then you can measure out the 160 grams part so I always grind closer to 180 grams because some of it just won't make it through the sifter that I then use to combine the almond meal and powdered sugar together.

This is a stiff peak.
Place the egg whites and cream of tarter into the mixing bowl and begin whisking at a slow speed and then increase it as it goes along. Then you can add the icing sugar as it begins to build its body. This will take a bit. Maybe five minutes or so. You'll be afraid that it's gone too far or something else. It hasn't. It needs to get a true stiff peak. That cream of tarter will help it do that as will not touching it with your hands. Even clean, your hands have natural oils on them that cause whipped eggs to fail. The sugar will accumulate along the sides. If you're VERY VERY careful and your spatula is clean, you can scrap it down. Make sure it's a stiff peak. This is the most crucial step of all pre piping.



I make a sculpture out of mine
Now, take the food coloring and flavoring and mix them together. Using the toothpick (of if you're impatient like me; the craft stick) and put them into the egg whites. Using the same whisk from the mixer just in my hand instead, I then softly mix in the coloring and flavoring. It should not deflate the egg whites that much at all if you've done it right. 


Folding almond meal right in
 Then I begin to fold in the powdered sugar and almond meal. This is where most of the deflation will take place since you are placing something with weight onto a deflatable air cushion. Now, if you want a smoother macaron you can be a bit rougher with the egg whites and more of the almond meal will sink into the foot of the cookie but I like mine rough looking and so I use a more stiff egg white and I am fairly gentle with my folding. 

Once everything is mixed in but not deflated, I place my piping tip into my piping bag and fill with the egg whites. I use disposable bags because that way I KNOW there's no trace of oil that could deflate my eggs further and I pipe them out onto a double sheet pan lined with parchment paper. I believe I've said this before, but I'll say it again. I have found no oven that doesn't have idiosyncrasy and for the most consistent result, I double pan all of my baked goods so that they spread out and evenly heat what's being baked. Same idea here. Adds about five minutes to the baking time but I can live with that. After I have piped out the egg whites out onto usually two different sheet pans which are both double panned, I might dip my fingers in water to smooth the piping down a little but not always. I then let it sit for about an hour until the 'cookies' have a sugar crust on them in a cool room.


Once the hour is up, I preheat the oven to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Then when preheated, in they go, sometimes (like in my current apartment) one at a time for about 15 minutes or  so and then they are placed somewhere to cool while the next one bakes. Now, here's an important note: Be gentle with them because they are cooked meringues. Anything you do can affect them at any point. Handle the pan too roughly and you could end up with a broken cookie. Also, don't try and remove the cookie until the pan has fully cooled or you could end up with a broken and pudding like cookie.

See that bottom part? That's called the 'foot' and required for a good macaron.
What I usually do during the hour they are cooking is make the filling. In this case, I take a bag of Hershey's Dark (12 oz) and mix it with a little heavy cream and microwave it. You have to do this in 30 second increments at half heat. Stir and repeat until it's homogenous. I also add vanilla. It's one of my trade secrets that makes anything not homemade taste homemade. Haven't figured out why it works, just know that it does. Thank you Chef Shroll (He's the Food Scientist guy from Culinary School). Once the cookies are cooled and the ganache is made, I put the ganache on one side of the cookie and find a matching sized cookie and make the sandwich. Then once they're all made, they go into the fridge to meld the flavors together for a while.

Any flavor combination is possible with a little imagination. Just like any future.

 I also just wanted to say again, thanks again for reading, and if you do want to help with my dream, here's a way to do so. But no matter what, I will get there. It's only impossible if I say it is.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Foolishness and the Future!

Sorry for the lateness of the posting. There's no recipe today but I hope that will change soon. I had a recipe for Macarons that was going to post on Saturday last week but due to the new and now expired job, that didn't happen because I didn't want to put up a second post without pictures and I'd forgotten to take them the last time I'd made them.

But now, the 'opportunity' turned out to be a MLM scheme and I'm feeling 50 shades of foolish. But it has made me realize that I was even more foolish for another reason. I went to Culinary School and then got a degree in Management for one reason. I wanted to open my own food service business. And I'd lost sight of that. But no longer. I'm now working on my business plan and seeing how I can go about funding the dream. To that end, I'm asking for help. Even if it's just a dollar. Every little bit helps.

I'm not going to stop making yummy things if I don't manage it, but this will help me get one step closer to the dream.

https://www.wepay.com/donations/about-time-danggit-sweet-geeks-start-up-fund

I'll have the French Macaron recipe up by Saturday and thanks for reading! <3

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Burrito Wraps

As you're reading this, I'm about to head out to work. I finally got a post graduate position doing sales of all things. But that's okay, because I love it. The big problem is...what do I eat for lunch. I have absolutely nothing around where I work that's safely gluten free unless I eat Wendy's Chili every single day (and even that one isn't 100% guaranteed) so I need something that stores easily and that I can eat easily without spilling it onto me. That's where burritos/wraps come in. I loved Chipotle when I could eat them and I still love the idea of burritos...but have you seen what passes for gluten free burritos? Terrifying. I felt like I was eating waxy bendable crackers. Yuck. And don't even think about trying to roll them, they just crack and break. Not fun at all. Plus, the taste? Super bland.

So I did some hunting and a LOT of research. Because if I was going to have a gluten free tortilla, it was going to have to pass A's taste test too, because the darling man is going GF with me despite not having the same problems although he's had a little more of the issues lately. Not quite sure what to do about that. >_< So I took the Living Without's basic recipe and changed up a few things, mostly which GF flour recipe I used and added my own tweaks. I used the High Protein one instead of the All purpose. Gives it more elasticity. Then I added flavorings such as Spinach or Sun dried Tomato. Or in this case, just some garlic powder and Italian seasoning so it doesn't taste so bland.

Mise en Place

Heavy Duty Stand Mixer (Like a KitchenAid 4qt or the like) with both paddle and dough hook.
Parchment paper
Dough scraper
Measuring cups/spoons
Grill surface or pan
Large Flipping spatula
Rolling pin/Noodle pin
Little bit of water (I have a bottle with water and oil right by my stove for testing and oiling surfaces) 

Ingredients

1 cup Brown Rice Flour (Yes, I add more brown rice flour to the mix)
1/2 cup Sweet Rice Flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 TB unflavored Gelatin
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup warm water (about 100°F)
2 oz Sundried Tomato Paste (It's a mix of olive oil and pureed SD tomatoes. Mostly to your liking for texture)
Little bit of extra oil
Your fillings

Disclaimer: I know that Soy Flour has a weird taste but once you put the filling in, I like to think that it's mostly not noticable. You can substitute one of the other flours, but keep in mind, you really need the protein so it stretches and folds like a real wrap.

The recipe itself is pretty simple. Throw your dry ingredients into the mixer and let it do it's thing for several minutes until it's almost a crumbling mess. Add the oil, and tomato paste and then the water until it looks like it's trying to make a dough. Switch out the paddle for the dough hook and let the dough hook work until it starts pulling together and trying to slide out of the bowl. Unless you have  a huge mixer bowl, don't try to do double batches though.

Once you're done, weight it off for 4-5 equal pieces. You're looking for around 175-200 grams in weight for the right amount of dough. Place each round between two pieces of parchment and roll out with your rolling pin/noodle pin until it's nice and thin. Probably a little thinner than you think it should be.

This is the point you want to prep any fillings except for rice. Rice should have been prepared beforehand.

Now, I like using my Griddle appliance for this because I can get bigger pieces of tortilla on it. But you can use a pan. Lay it down flat ( I usually use the side of my hand or the rolling pin.) and when the edges start to curl up from the heat and you can see a bit of the bubbling from the other side, flip it over. This should take about a minute on medium-high heat. Then let it go for about another 45-60 seconds and then fill and fold away. They are a little more fragile than normal tortillas but if your hands can take the heat, you should have no problem folding them.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review - El Agave (Hammond, LA)

El Agave - Hammond, LA



Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

I absolutely adore this place, for reasons sentimental and practical. And to think, I never would have discovered it, if it hadn't been for some really bad customer service from another place. In Hammond, there are pretty much just three established 'authentic' Mexican restaurant from what I can find. La Carreta, Adobe (Also owned and operated by La Carreta), and El Agave. I'd been having some issues with La Carreta's lately; as a college student I don't have that much money to spend on eating out, but sometimes I just needed a dose of salsa and chips and so I would buy a bag and a thing of salsa from La Carreta. However, despite that I'd been buying said bag of chips and salsa from them for going on a year, it was rare that I got charged the same price for them on a subsequent visit. It all depended on who was ringing me up.

Don't even get me started on how badly they ALWAYS messed up my order when I bought real food. Every single time something was wrong, from missing items to cold food.

That's just bad business and flat out annoying.

So when A(the boyfriend) and I decided to go out to a nice Mexican place, we decided against La Carreta's and instead went to Adobe Cantina, which we found out was also owned by La Carreta's. That wouldn't have mattered so much except that when we went at 9:15 at night (They closed at 10), we were told that they wouldn't seat us, as they were closing early due to lack of business. They told us this while an entire table of 6 people sat off at one table and were just then placing their orders.

Luckily, we didn't have to travel far, but just imagine if we'd been out of towner's visiting and wanted to stop by, how that would have gone over. Well, that lost them our business and we found El Agave the next night.

We were quickly seated despite how busy it seemed and our waiter was extremely attentive, but also knew when to just leave us alone. This was a bit of an emotional dinner as A was leaving the next day to fly back home for the semester to come. We ordered the Combination Fajita for 2 with the Chorizo sausage, along with some queso for the chips. Everything was delivered really quickly with an appropriate warning about the heat of the plate. There was no questions when I asked for extra tortillas or anything.

Everything was delicious. The sausage was crispy yet perfectly done on the inside. The tortilla were warm and not stale. Folded without cracking. Lots of filling to smear all over. The drinks were refilled quickly and unobtrusively. Lots of napkins. The steak still had just a perfect hint of pink in it so that we could tell they weren't overcooked. We weren't rushed through our food even though it turned out to be a busy night. We couldn't have asked for a better experience.

And apparently we hit them at the right time, as they had a live mariachi band that took requests. We couldn't figure out what to ask them for when they came by, but they picked a wonderful bittersweet song that talked about saying goodbye to a love. All in all, it was a magical evening and well worth every penny. But what I found even better, the entire dinner only cost us $35. A large shared entree we couldn't finish, the extra cheese and tortillas, and drinks.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blue Cheese Potato Soup

When icky weather comes, I have a few recipes that I fall back on. But I am notorious for not ever doing things quite the same way twice. That's why someone needs to be in the kitchen with me writing everything down or I'd never be able to duplicate it or tell anyone about it.

Well, last week Louisiana was having one of those "Hey, here's a hint that it might still not be 90 degrees completely year round" days and I woke up chilled and grumpy. Well, luckily, A knows to just send me to the kitchen and leave me alone for a while and I'll get over it. I was debating what to fix when my eyes fell upon the russet potatoes we'd gotten on sale. I love my reds for most things usually but I knew I needed to use the russets so I decided to just make potato soup. It was warm, comforting and just a bit easy, didn't have to make my sleep addled brain really think.

So I get out the garlic and I'm about to throw the garlic in a little oil for a quick saute and I realize I have leftovers from a pack of creole seasoning mix I'd gotten a few days earlier. That is they take the celery, onion, parsley, garlic and stuff and make it into a pre-made mix you can buy in the produce section. So I saved myself some trouble and sauteed that  and added some extra garlic for the heck of it. Once I got it going through, my brain perked up and went...I want to do something different. This is the time to fear. Because those words usually signal either something amazing or something horrifying. When it came time to add the cream base to the soup....I threw in blue cheese dressing. And just that simple, a nice sharpness  swept through the soup and spiked it with just enough energy to be a bit of a perk up and go and it was amazing. It isn't going to last long around here, I can already tell.


Difficulty: A few techniques are required, but simple.
Time: About an hour
Note: The celery, bell peppers, garlic, parsley can be subbed out for a portion of creole seasoning mix if you happen to have it in your neck of the woods. The amounts aren't really exact with this recipe. It's up to you and what you feel like.
Mise en Place
  • Stew Pot (6 qt or larger)
  • Large Bowl
  • 2 Medium Mixing Bowl
  • Hand Blender(or Blender or Food Processor)
  • Garlic Press (If you don't have already minced garlic)
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Spoons (slotted, solid, and ladle)
  • Whisk
    Ingredients
    • 2 Tbsp Vegetable or Olive Oil
    • Large pinch of salt
    • 7-8 Large Potatoes (Russets are best due to natural starch levels)
    • Bacon or Bacon Bits
    • Better than Bouillion Chicken Base or 32oz Chicken/Vegetable Broth and a bit of water (Not stated GF but haven't had a problem with it yet)
    • 1-2 Medium Onions (chopped fine)
    • Parsley (1/4 cup or less)
    • 3 split stalks of celery (chopped finely)
    • 1 bell pepper (chopped fine)
    • 2-3 Healthy (heaping) Tbsp of minced Garlic (see Mise en place)
    • 1 cup Mozz cheese (shredded cheese works best but not fake cheese shreds)
    • 1 cup Cheddar cheese (again, shredded)
    • 2/3 Cup Sour Cream
    • 2/3 Cup Yogurt plain full fat (or whatever level of fat you prefer
    • 1-1 1/2 Cup Blue Cheese Dressing (needs to have actual chunks of blue cheese in it such as Marzetti's Ultimate Blue Cheese or Chunky Blue Cheese) dependent on how strong you want the flavor to be.
    I find this all easiest to do to make it as much of a one pot meal as possible. Wash and chop your potatoes and place them in the large bowl. Make them about twice as big as you want the chunks in your soup to be. If you don't want it chunky, make them about an inch, we can take care of the chunks later. Don't remove the skins unless you really have to. It makes them so tasty!

    Chop the celery, onions, parsley, and mince the garlic if it's not alreadyTake your pot, spread a little oil in it (adding bacon if you want to and of course, who wouldn't want to) and turn the heat up medium.Once the heat is ready, throw in your chopped vegetables (not the potatoes) and sweat them. A little tangent hear. Sweating is similar to sauteing but you're not trying to brown the items, you're just wanting to bring the moisture to the surface of the vegetable. Salt will help with this as well. Back to the point here. Basically, the oil should be hot but not sizzling. If it's too hot, you'll notice when you throw the vegetables in. You should here a gentle sizzle. It shouldn't be loud or popping all over the place. Sprinkle a little salt to help with the moisture draw.  Keep the food moving!

    Add the garlic and parsley. and cook until the onions are almost but not quite see through. They'll look like they are really shiny. Once that's done, lower the heat to about low-medium and add the potatoes. Cover with the broth/water until just covered or just the water till just covered. Then add 2 tsps of the Better than Bouillon (or to taste). Don't add a lid but bring the water to a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure that the bouillon or broth/water is mixing well and no potatoes are burning on the bottom. After adding the bouillon you can also turn the heat back up to medium.

    Once the potatoes are boiling, take a slotted spoon and bring a small piece out, run it under cool water and taste it to make sure that it's cooked through. If not, leave it at a boil for a while longer. While this last part is taking place, take that bowl you'd had the potatoes in earlier and place the sour cream, yogurt and blue cheese dressing. Whisk it all together.

    Lower the heat down to the low temp but not quite keep warm. Remove about half of the potatoes from the pot and strain out the broth (if you want it chunky)Now taking a ladle, whisk some of the potato/broth mixture into the cream mixture a little at a time. Try to make it mostly broth if possible. If you want it smooth, leave all of the potatoes in. Using the hand blender, blend the desired amount of potatoes smooth. Add back any chunks and stir well.  This will help the cream not to break up when it's added into the main pot. Do this three or four times to get the temperature of the cream up.

    Then still whisking, add the cream mixture into the potato mixture and stir. Then add the shredded cheeses until they are all nice and melted in. Soup is done. Spoon into bowls and serve with your favorite gluten free bread (my favorite recipe coming soon)

    Saturday, June 9, 2012

    Alfredo Ice Cream - Weird but Wonderful

    How many times have you craved the wonderful taste of Alfredo sauce but couldn't have it because it was too darned hot?

    If I'm honest, probably never and that totally wasn't the inspiration for this dish at all. But it sounded good to say as an opening, right? *puppyeyes* Just go along with it, for my ego's sake if nothing else, okay? Please? T^T

    Seriously, what really happened was that I was going to recreate my favorite garlic ice cream that I had with a dear friend at The Stinking Rose. Everything there comes with garlic. It was a stinky but wonderful lunch. And the decor is just a trip. Anyways, we had the garlic ice cream and it was sooo yummy. So when I had some cream and the like left over from my Chocolate Heat Ice cream, I decided to whip it up. However, my recipe called for some more solid flavor material than I really felt comfortable throwing in. I mean...8 oz...yikes. Can you imagine 8oz of garlic?

    So I was debating what to do when I realized that garlic goes into Alfredo which is also dairy based...so why not make an Alfredo ice cream. And don't worry too much about my sanity, I figured it'd probably be horrible, but why the heck not!With that in mind, I began getting the ingredients together and it was a blast. And turned out super duper yummy.




    Alfredo Ice Cream

    Difficulty:  A bit hard like cheddar, but not like Parmesan.
    Time: About a hour  + Two hours for temperature adjustments. An hour+ for set up.

    Mise en Place
    • Pot with Water
    • Stainless Steel bowl (needs to fit over the pot for a water bath)
    • Hand Blender(or Blender or Food Processor)
    • Garlic Press (If you don't have already minced garlic)
    • Mixing Bowl (2)
    • Plastic Wrap
    • Ice Cream Maker(With bowl prefrozen and ready to go)

    Ingredients
    • 1 Cup of Whole Milk
    • garlic powder
    • Cajun seasoning
    • 5 oz Cream cheese-softened
    • 2 Tbsp Pesto (I get premade because Pine nuts are super expensive)
    • Garlic to Taste (I put about 2 oz in)
      1 oz Parmesean Cheese
    • 1 oz Mozzarella Cheese
    • 2 Cups of Cream 1/2 cup of Sugar


    First things first, put the water onto boil. While doing that, put the softened cream cheese, the pesto, the garlic, Parmesean and Mozzarella into the mixing bowl. Using the hand blender, or if you don't have one, you can use a blender or food processor (Just make sure to clean them really really well so you get all the 'solids' you need) Make it as smooth as possible.

    In another small mixing bowl (microwaveable if you please), put the cream and sugar together, heating for about 20 seconds at a time then stirring until you don't hear the scrap of the sugar which means it's dissolved into the cream. But don't let it boil. Now let the mixture cool.

    In the stainless steel bowl, put the milk, cajun seasoning and garlic powder. (I use cajun seasoning because I like a alfredo with a kick). Turn the pot with the boiling water down so it just simmers. Then put the stainless steel bowl over the top so that it acts like a water bath. Let it simmer till it's warm, stirring frequently enough that you don't get a milk skin. (you know, that nasty little film that milk leaves after a while). Once it's nice and warm (About ten minutes) remove it from the water bath and cover with the plastic wrap nice and secure. Let it sit for about an hour to cool down to room temperature.

    While that's cooling at room temp, take the 'should be cool by this point' cream and sugar and whisk it into the cream cheese mixture until everything is nice and homogenous (not lumpy and it all looks like the same consistency.) 

    Side note: If you're using the food processor or blender bit, you can just add the sugar cream to this mixture while it's still there and blend it that way without putting it in another container. Fewer dirty dishes, the better. 

    Now that that's done, put it into the fridge and after the milk is done, do the same to it. All the heat does is kinda...infuse the garlic taste into the milk. You can do this with the minced garlic or even fresh garlic, but this way is a bit more potent and viable. 
    Once everything is nice and cool, remove from the fridge and prepare your ice cream maker. Get it started, pour both bowls of ingredients into the ice cream maker and let it do its thing until it's looks like...well...ice cream. Should take about 30 minutes. Put it into a container and freeze. Should be set up in an hour or so after that. Yum Yum.



    Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    Bonus: Sweet and Sour Shortcakes (new Style)

    I love strawberries and even though they are technically out of season in Louisiana isn't going to stop me from eating them. And I found out today that one of the theme carnival I've wanted to jump on board of was having the theme of strawberries this month, I had to join in. I have no idea what I'm doing but I'm going to try, right?

    No form, no fashion but still frakin' fabulous!
    So one of the staples of my kitchen is an amazing recipe by Linda of Gluten Free Homemaker. She's also the one who's doing the carnival. It's for a Focaccia bread/hamburger bun and I've been using ever since the first moment I found it. I even commented on it so you can see how long I've been using it and making it. I average at least one batch a week, I believe and use it for everything, sandwiches, pizza dough, etc, etc, etc. This was my first batch ever. Before the Muffin Rings came in the mail from wonderful Amazon. Not very pretty, but oh so very tasty when I hadn't had any kind of bread in about two months.

    But the reason for this particular recipe stems from the fact that one of my signature dishes from before I was GF was a Sweet and Sour Shortcake Recipe. I needed a sweet bun, but one that could absorb the flavor of the vinegar and such. Things simmer and stew in the back of my brain forever if I have the time to let it. I mentally cook something about twenty times before it ever reaches the stove if it's not an impulsive thing. The cake I'm planning on for my best friend's wedding has already gone through about four incarnations and she's not even technically engaged yet.

    You know how when you're sick, things sit and stew in your brain becoming all sorts of delirium, especially when you're REALLY sick? Well combine that with my generally stew-y nature (Hmm...stew sounds really good right now, but...oh wait, tangent again ) I should either never be allowed to cook while sick, or I should always cook while sick because the fact is, I can't follow a recipe worth a darn when I'm sick but I usually come up with a pretty sick (as in really good) screwup that works amazingly well for what I'm trying.

    This is what happened when I brutalized Linda's recipe one steamy March night in Louisiana when I was feeling a bit loopy. See, when I'm sick, my brain remembers more of my culinary training than I do and I don't have any silly hangups about doing things the 'right' way and just do what seems intuitively right. Linda's recipe is amazing but what I wanted that night was a sweet bun designed for yummy fillings that made my sweet tooth happy. I have mentioned the ball of yarn, right? The one that tells me things? I listen to it far too often.

    So in listening to that ball of yarn...I present

    Sweet and Sour Shortcakes (New and Improved)
    Ice cream and Cream Sweet and Sour Shortcakes

    Difficulty: Sweetly simple with a Sour Twist (Aka not too hard but a lot of steps in some ways)

    Time: 2 Hours total. Most of which is resting and baking.
    Feeds: 8 Healthy Portions

    Mise en Place
    For the Biscuits and cream: 
    Mixer (preferably stand) with Paddle and whip attachment
    Mixing bowl (No bigger than medium needed)
    Bowl Scraper/Spatula
    Muffin Rings (For a more rustic look, you don't have to have them)
    Double Half Sheet pans (Or a pan with a airpocket to help control uneven heating)
    Parchment paper
    Ice cream scoop (#3 is my preferred size but can also just spoon it out)
    Oven
    Optional: Half Sheet pan lid or pan topper ( I'll explain below)
    Optional: pot of boiling water
    Optional: Pan rack
    Optional: Towel
    For Sauce:
    1 Good sized Sauce Pan
    1 Heat Safe Spoon with deep pockets
    A gluten Free cooking spray

    Ingredients
    1 1/3 cup Brown Rice Flour
    2/3 cup Sweet/Glutinous Rice Flour (No Wheat Gluten, it has Rice Gluten. Different)
    1 cup Tapioca starch though you can sub about half for potato starch (Not flour) for taste
    2 tsp Unflavored Gelatin (I've also just thrown in a pack, it doesn't matter too much)
    1 Tbsp Xantham or guar gum
    1 Tbsp Instant Active Yeast
    1/4 cup Sugar
    1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
    1 cup water
    1/4 cup water mixed with 1 Tbsp Chia seeds (Black or White, don't matter)
    4 Eggs
    1/4 cup Olive Oil
    1 tsp Vinegar (Don't miss this part. It's pretty important)
    ~~~
    1/2 cup Whipping Cream
    2 Tbsp Sugar
    Cap of Vanilla
    ~~~~
    ~4-6oz Balsamic Vinegar
    2-3 Tbsp Sugar
    2 lbs Strawberries


    First, Add all the dry ingredients together in the mixer bowl and set to slowly mix the flours; The brown rice, sweet Rice and Tapioca plus the gelatin, gum, yeast, salt and sugar and the baking soda. Normally this recipe doesn't have baking soda, its leavening comes from the yeast, but I found that a little bit of baking soda actually gives me more of a crumbly inside that I want to help absorb all the yummy sauce.

    Hold its own shape.Very soft dough.
    In a separate bowl add the water, the chia water, the eggs, olive oil and vinegar. Mix it up pretty well and turn on the mixing bowl to a bit higher of a speed and add the wet ingredients. Keep it at about half speed for several minutes 2-3 usually works but if it's warmer, maybe 4 until it looks like this below. I actually tried to not add the gum into it because I'm trying to steer away from gum usage but it was just falling apart so I added at the end and mixed for like another minute beyond that. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

    Letting the dough rest for a moment or two, it's time to get out the pans. I have NEVER run into an oven outside of a commercial oven that actually cooks evenly so I prefer to double pan all of my pans when it actually matters. Baking biscuits, cakes and breads do matter so they get the double pans. I place a piece of parchment up on it and place the muffin rings on it. I get between 9-10 biscuits for this amount of dough.

    Then I place the pan lid over them. This doubled pan is also where the pan rack, boiling water and towel come in. After the lid is over the biscuits, I place the boiling water in a third pan which has a rack in it to place the doubled pans so I can just slide it off come baking time. This helps to control the amount of time I have to let it sit and it's almost a perfect 15 minutes every times for rising just the right amount I need.  Place the towel over the top to keep extra heat in (have I mentioned I'm a control freak yet? I like things to be able to be replicated even in my sick-y mind. I think I'm so much a control freak that it's permeated my entire being and so my sick brain knows I'll beat it up if I can't repeat something it did. *grin* Anyhoose) You don't have to do this, you can just let it rest, I just find this does its job consistently which I like.

    Slide just the double pan into the oven and turn down the heat to 375 or 350 depending on how brown you like your top. With the additional sugar in my recipe versus Linda's the bottoms brown kinda easily so you don't want it at quite 400. It should take about 15-20 minutes. Her recipe calls for about 15 minutes, but since our temp is lower, we still need it to cook. At 20 minutes it should be very lightly brown. See?

    Just enough to coat the bottom
    Let them rest and cool to room temperature fully. This will take about 20-30 minutes. Then it's time to cut up the strawberries. There's no real way to get strawberries the same actual size so I just cut off the top so it's flat, turn the flat side to the cutting board and cut it into slices in a vertical cut. It'll take a while, about ten minutes. Once that's done, I put the vinegar into a pan, (and yes, I know acid to a metal for long term is bad but this won't be long it just cooks the items better.)

    Don't want to add too many strawberries
    While that's going on, I go ahead and whip the cream, sugar and vanilla together to get a heavy slog as my mum and her dad call it. Letting that sit for just a few moments, I throw a bit of sugar into the vinegar while it's heating up. Just use about a low medium heat (a 3 on an 8 heat stovetop) and stir it using the heat resistant spoon. When you can't hear the sugar scraping along the pan, it's ready. Toss in your strawberries (most pans will only fit about 1 lb at a time but you can reuse the sauce, just adding a bit more vinegar and sugar to re-situate it).
    Left with fork edging. Right with knife.
     
    Cut open the cooled biscuit bread with a fork for a nice English muffin like texture so it can soak up some of that wonderful sauce as well. The flat is not bad by any stretch. But I love to soak up sauces and rough edges do that better.

    If using just the whipped cream, I put some of the strawberries and sauce on the cut biscuits then slap on some slog and voila, all done. But if I'm doing Ice cream like A prefers (him and his sweet tooth), then I put the ice cream on first, then top it with some cream and then slather it in Strawberries with a bit of sauce. Normally we share with our neighbors but they weren't home so our dessert today had a few more strawberries than normal. That's ALL strawberries under the cream in this picture.


    Anyways, a great big Thank you out to Linda for the wonderful start to my Living Fully way of life. And I'm sorry for murdering your recipe. Actually, I'm not, it's still awesome...just different.

     This post links to Gluten Free Wednesday Strawberry Carnival