Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dairy-Free Drop Biscuits with Bisquick Gluten Free

I'm so used to shopping at health food stores for gluten-free flour mixes, that it didn't even occur to me to check a regular supermarket for mass market g-free solutions. Bisquick's mix just appeared at my local Brooklyn store, so I had to try it.

Bisquick's done a surprisingly decent job! The ingredient list is short (rice flour, sugar, leavening, potato starch, salt, xantham gum) and much more "natural" than regular Bisquick. I made dairy-free drop biscuits with soy-free Earth Balance Buttery Sticks and Rice Dream Original Rice Milk. I followed the recipe on the box, the only exception being that I beat the egg whites separately for a little extra lift. Ener-G Egg Replacer would work, too.

The dough is too sweet for a savory application (say as a cobbler topping for chicken pot pie or even for dinner rolls) but I'd definitely use these biscuits for breakfast or as a base for a berry shortcake. Or I'd add berries, call them scones, and serve them for tea!

I'd love to hear your ideas on how to use this mix, so please post in the comments!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gluten-free Dairy-Free Egg-Free Hot Cross Buns for Easter


King Arthur Flour again! This time I tried their Gluten-Free Bread and Pizza Mix (Whole Foods and online) and adapted it for hot cross buns, for a client with lots of food allergies. This mix is remarkably light, fluffy, yeasty, and isn't gritty like a lot of g-free breads. The texture is probably the closest I've found to a dough made with wheat flour; for g-free baking, that's saying a lot. It's also really adaptable to a lot of different types of sweet and savory yeast breads, and serves as a good base with which to get creative. (If you can tolerate dairy and eggs, feel free to use them. However, the buns turned out beautifully with vegan substitutes.)

For 12 classic hot cross buns, you will need:

1 box King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Bread and Pizza Mix
1 1/3 to 1 3/4 cups milk of choice. (I used rice milk. I found that the smaller amount of milk produced a  slightly denser bun that rose in a more traditional round roll shape. The larger amount of milk produced a softer, more tender, more moist roll that spread a bit in the oven and looked more like a scone. Both were delicious. The choice is yours.)
4 tablespoons Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Sticks, melted
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs equivalent of Ener-G Egg replacer, prepared according to package directions
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
2/3 cup currants. (Currants are classic, but raisins and dried blueberries are lovely, too.)

Citrus Glaze, optional:

Juice of 1 orange and juice of 1 lemon (about 1/2 cup total, more if you're using especially large fruit)
1lb box of confectioners sugar

Directions:

Follow the "Glutenfree Bread" directions on the back of the box. Beat the melted Earth Balance, sugar, egg replacer, milk, and lemon and orange zest together before adding the flour and currants. Follow the directions for the first rise.

Line a thick aluminum half sheet pan with parchment paper. Stir the dough to deflate and, using your hands or a large serving spoon, form 12 dough balls, spaced about 2 inches apart, on the pan. (You may find that you need more than one pan, especially if you use the larger amount a milk for a moister roll that spreads in the oven.) Smooth the tops with wet fingers and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Follow the directions for the second rise.

Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. If you want to glaze the buns, pour the citrus juice into a large bowl and slowly whisk in the powdered sugar until you reach a consistency you like. I prefer the glaze thin to pour over the buns, so I used about half the box of powdered sugar. If you want a stiff glaze to be able to draw traditional crosses on your buns, you'll need most, if not the whole box of sugar.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gluten-Free Lemon Meringue Bars


I love lemon desserts after a big meal - so refreshing! Lemon bars are easy for a crowd, but they are often too sweet, and their dense, chewy texture can be a little heavy for my taste. Lemon meringue pie is my absolute favorite, but it's not great for a buffet. This Lemon Meringue Bar recipe was a big hit at a recent spring-themed dinner party I catered. It's a bit involved, like lemon meringue pie, and has several parts, but you can make it ahead, make it in quantity, and cut it into small pieces. And it combines the fun textural differences of a crunchy cookie crust, a cold, creamy, tart filling, and a fluffy, sweet meringue on top. And best of all, for me, these bars are REALLY LEMONY!

For about 24 bars, 2" square, you will need:

CRUST:

An 11"x 15" baking pan
Parchment paper
1 box King Arthur Glutenfree Cookie Mix (16 oz, available at Whole Foods and online from King Arthur Flour. I like this mix because it's easy, the ingredients are good, and it has a salty, brown sugar caramel flavor that is stunning with lemon. Note: Do not follow the directions on the box, as you will use more butter and no egg. Alternatively, you can use any shortbread cookie recipe with a yield of about 2 dozen medium-sized cookies. Look for a recipe with a high fat content and little or no leavening or eggs.)
3/4 cup butter or dairy-free shortening, 1 1/2 sticks, chilled and cut into small pieces. My favorite dairy-free product is Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks
1-2 tablespoons ice water

LEMON CURD:

6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lemon zest, grated on a microplane (about 4 lemons)
2/3 cup lemon juice ( from about 4 medium, juicy lemons)
1 stick of butter or Earth Balance, chilled, and cut into about 8 pieces

MERINGUE:

6 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, with your rack in the middle.

Line your baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, using your fingers, a pastry blender, or a food processor, cut the butter in to the cookie mix until it reaches the texture of dry oatmeal, or follow your own recipe for a gluten-free or regular shortbread cookie dough.

Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough is soft and just holds together. Using your fingers, press the dough into the bottom of the baking pan in an even layer, about 3/8 of an inch thick. Prick all over with a fork, to prevent the dough from puffing up during baking.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the crust is a medium golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

While the crust is cooling, make the lemon curd:

Fill a medium saucepan 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil. Find a medium stainless steel mixing bowl that rests on the rim of this saucepan, with the bottom touching the water. (If you have a double boiler, use it!)

Whisk 6 egg yolks with 1 cup of sugar until smooth. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. As soon as the water boils, place the bowl of lemon mixture over the water and whisk steadily for about 9 minutes until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. (When you dip your spoon into the lemon curd, pull it out, and paint a stripe with your finger across the back of the spoon, the stripe should stay clearly defined and not run. That said, this lemon curd is still quite liquid when hot.)

Immediately pull the bowl off the heat and whisk in the pieces of butter one at a time, allowing each chunk to melt before adding the next. Allow to chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes, with a piece of plastic wrap laid directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. 

Now pour the curd over the crust and, using a spatula, spread in an even layer all the way to the edge. The curd should be just liquid enough to spread, but stiff enough to say put and not run over the edge of the crust.

If you are serving the dessert within a few hours, you can now make the meringue. If you plan to serve the dessert the following day, cover the surface of the curd again with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight.

At least 4 hours before you plan to serve this dessert, make the meringue.

Preheat your oven's broiler. Using a hand or stand mixer, or, like I do, with a large stainless steel bowl and a good whisk, beat the egg whites until they become white and frothy, but are still quite liquid. Now add 2 tablespoons of sugar, and continue beating until the meringue forms soft peaks.

Using a spatula, very gently swirl the meringue in an even layer over the top of the bars until the lemon curd is completely covered. You can create any sort of design that you like. Place under the broiler until the meringue is a deep golden brown but not at all burned. How much time this takes will depend entirely on your broiler. Now chill, uncovered, in your fridge until ready to cut and serve. (A pastry cutter or pizza is a great tool for cutting even squares or even triangles, and the parchment paper will make it much easier to remove the bars from the pan.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pillsbury's Gone Gluten-Free! Bake-off Contest and New Products


You know gluten-free has gone mainstream when Pillsbury jumps on the bandwagon.  I've been doing gluten-free for awhile, and I'm so used to shopping at Whole Foods and health food stores for safe products that I haven't checked out regular, mainstream grocery stores in awhile. I just found out that Pillsbury is making three new g-free products: Thin Crust Pizza Dough, Pie and Pastry Dough, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. (Click the links for ingredients and allergy info.) I haven't tried them yet and would love to hear from you if you have!
Fair warning for those with allergies: These products do contain eggs and soy, to varying degrees. However, the ingredient lists are much shorter and more recognizable (and less chemical) than many processed food products, and that's a big plus in my book.

If Pillsbury's new g-free products are in your local supermarket, and you have a great recipe idea, you can enter its 47th Bake-Off® Contest for home cooks. There is a $1 million grand prize, and this is the first year that g-free recipes are being recognized. Here's the official word:



The Pillsbury® Gluten Free Award recognizes the finalist who has the best recipe that includes a Pillsbury® Gluten Free dough product and does not include any wheat or any products that include wheat as an ingredient.  The recipe must also meet all other contest criteria, including a second eligible ingredient from Ingredient List A or B (the lists are online), no more than seven ingredients total and 30 minutes or less of active prep time. For full contest eligibility requirements and to enter, go to BakeOff.com.

This year’s Contest will culminate in the finals, on November 3, 2014, at the Omni Nashville Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

Participants have two chances to enter and vote. The first entry period includes the Simply Sweet Treats and Savory Snacks & Sides categories and is open for entries from now until March 27, 2014 - ONLY 1 WEEK AWAY! The second contest entry period runs from March 27 to May 8, 2014 and calls for Weekend Breakfast Wows and Amazing Doable Dinners recipes.

Gluten-Free Asian Dumplings Wrappers


I love dumplings of all kinds: Chinese potstickers, Japanese gyoza, Polish pierogi. Dumplings have been one of the hardest things for me to give up on my gluten-free diet. Also, unlike gluten-free pasta and pizza, which is easy to find in many supermarkets and even restaurants these days, g-free and allergen-free dumplings and dumpling wrappers are evasive. Feel Good Foods makes frozen dumplings that you can find at G-Free NYC and some Whole Foods, but the fillings contain soy and sesame, which are verboten for many people with allergies. (I'll include a soy and sesame-free dumpling filling in a later post!)

I've been working on a gluten-free dough that's strong enough to roll out and hold a wet filling, but still tender and lightly chewy like a traditional Chinese potsticker dough. I started with Garden of Gluten Free's  and Asian Dumpling Tips' recipes. 

They were excellent starting points and include many great tips on working with the dough, which I'll share with you below. But the combination of white rice (for tenderness) and tapioca flour (for lightness and stretch) still left me with a dough that dried out very quickly and cracked when folded over the filling. I tried adding more water and oil, but that caused the dough to dissolve and become even more delicate. 

So I added glutinous rice flour to the mix. Glutinous rice flour, also sold as sweet rice flour, is used to make Japanese mochi and dumplings and other dishes across Asia. It's stretchy, soft, pliable, and strong. As its name suggests, its starches mimic the properties of gluten in wheat, but it does not contain any gluten.  Adding some glutinous rice flour strengthened the dough and gave it more stretch, and also allowed it to hold onto its moisture for a more tender dumpling. You can use these wrappers for any type of filling, be it mashed potatoes, onions, and cheese for Polish pierogis or shrimp, pork, and vegetables for an Asian-style dumpling.

For about 15 potsticker-sized dumpling wrappers, you will need:

3/4 cup tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)
1/2 cup glutinous rice flour (also called sweet rice flour. I prefer Asian brands available in Asian supermarkets because they are so finely milled. However, they are not certified gluten-free. If contamination is a concern, stick to Bob's Red Mill, available at most health food stores and Whole Foods.)
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together well. Pour in the boiling water and oil and stir with a spoon to mix and also release steam and heat. As soon as the dough is cool enough to touch, knead with your hands in the bowl for about 2 minutes until the dough is stretchy, smooth, and shiny, and has pulled completely away from the sides of the bowl. Put the dough immediately into a large plastic Ziploc bag to prevent further moisture loss.

Now cut two pieces of parchment paper, about 8" square. (I like Reynolds Wrap non-stick Pan Lining Paper even better than parchment for this application. It's parchment on the side that touches the food and very thin foil on the other, so it doesn't wrinkle, tear, or absorb moisture as much as parchment does.)

Take a walnut-sized lump of dough, roll it between your palms to form a ball, and place it between the parchment squares. Using the heel of your hand, press firmly until the dough is an even circle about 4 inches across. You can also use a rolling pill or even a tortilla press for this, but be careful not to make the wrapper too thin, which will cause it tear when you add the filling.

To Fill: Make sure that your filling in relatively dry. A filling of shredded veggies, ground meat, and spices is better raw then precooked, because the ingredients won't have released their juices yet. Be careful not to overfill your dumplings. Start with a tablespoon placed just off the center of the dough wrapper. Fold the opposite side of dough over the filling and press closed lightly with a fork or your finger. If you have excess dough, you can trim the edge of the dumpling with a knife.

Fill your wrappers as you make them to prevent them from drying out, then place the raw dumplings on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover them with plastic wrap until you're ready to cook them. Don't worry about small cracks in the wrappers. Those will fill in when you cook them. If you have a big hole, you can patch it with a small piece of fresh dough.

You can also pop this baking sheet into the freezer, freeze off the raw dumplings, then put them in a plastic freezer bag and back into the freezer until you're ready to cook them. They do tend to dry out quickly in the freezer, so you'll want to use them within a couple weeks' time.

To Cook:  I prefer the classic steam-brown potsticker method. This will ensure that your raw filling and your wrappers are both fully cooked.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil and about 1/2 inch water over medium-high heat in a large non-stick saute or fry pan with a lid. When the liquid is simmering, add the dumplings about 1inch apart and cover. Steam for about 10 minutes. When the water is completely evaporated, remove the lid and pan fry the dumplings in the remaining oil until the bottoms are dark golden brown. Serve immediately.

Note: You'll want to eat these dumplings right after cooking. Just like cold rice, which gets hard in the refrigerator, leftover cooked dumplings make from rice flour will congeal in the fridge. Even when reheated, they won't be as tender as freshly cooked dumplings.