Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi

This recipe is inspired by Alanna Taylor-Tobin's gorgeous blog The Bojon Gourmet. Her recipes are health conscious and modern and her photos are stunning. It was her recipe for Gluten-Free Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi that caught my eye. I realized I really needed a recipe for a basic gluten-free, dairy-free potato gnocchi! Gnocchi are surprisingly easy to make. Usually they contain just potatoes, wheat flour, eggs, and salt. For my gluten-free version, I tried nutrient dense flours like millet, but the texture was a bit gritty and the strong grain flavors competed with the lovely, light flavor of potato that makes gnocchi so comforting and such a great vehicle for sauces.

So,  I kept things simple and used sticky glutinous rice flour and egg to hold everything together. The result is light, tender, and versatile, and would fool a gluten-loving dinner guest. You can serve them boiled with a sauce (basil pesto and Bolognese are yummy) or pan-fried with sauteed mushrooms and grated cheese. The fried version would also be great as a potato side for a really good steak. 

As a main course for 2 or appetizer or side for 4, you will need:

2 large russet potatoes, skipricked with a fork and microwaved until cooked through. (The microwave is my g-free secret to getting the excess water out of the potatoes and creating an ideal texture that is light but sticky. I also microwave the potatoes in my latke recipeAnd it's much faster than the oven. Start with 6 minutes on high for 1 potato, 8 minutes for two. If a knife goes through the potato easily, it's cooked.) Allow to cool completely. 
1/4 cup glutinous rice flour, also called "sweet" rice flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
Brown rice flour or millet flour for dusting

Peel the cooled potatoes and pass them through a sieve or potato ricer. From two large potatoes, you should get just under 3 cups of light, fluffy riced potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and add the egg, salt, and rice flour. Mix with your hands until you have a smooth dough. Do not over mix, or the starches will become too gluey and dense. 

Generously dust a clean counter or cutting board with a slightly courser g-free flour such as Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour. (To absorb excess liquid and prevent sticking.) Take small handfuls of dough and roll into logs that are about 3/4" in diameter. Cut into pieces about 1/2" long. Using a fork dipped in rice flour, lightly squish each gnocchi until you see the pattern of the fork tines. Then rotate 90 degrees and squish agaiuntil each gnocchi forma a 1" rectangle. These fork marks allow a sauce to cling to the gnocchi, and they make them more attractive, too. 

You can cook them immediately, but I recommend leaving them on the counter for a couple of hours to air dry. They'll hold up better during cooking this way. Sadly, they don't freeze well, so you'll want to cook and eat them the day you make them. 

You can cook them several different ways:

Boiled: Drop into a large pot of salted, boiling water. When they float (after about 1 minute), give them 30 more seconds. Do not overcook, or they will disintegrate. Drain, sauce, and serve immediately.

Boiled and Fried: Drop into a large pot of salted, boiling water. When they float (after about 1 minute), drain them, then pan fry them in butter or olive oil until lightly golden on one or more sides.

Steam Fried: Place a few tablespoons of water and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil or butter in a large nonstick skillet with a lid. Bring to a simmer, add the gnocchi in a single a layer, and cover. After a couple of minutes, when all the water has evaporated, remove the lid and fry the gnocchi until golden on all sides. These will be very crispy and a little firmer than the boiled version. They would be great with meats.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Apple and Honey Tarte with Almond Crust

L'Shana Tova! Today is Rosh Hashanha, the Jewish New Year, and I'm off to the Upper West Side to visit my dad's cousin, Clarice. Every year I make something with apples and honey, eaten on Rosh Hashanha to express hope that the coming year will be sweet. 

This year, it's a French-style apple tarte, drizzled with honey and baked in a gluten-free almond short crust. 

The crust recipe couldn't be simpler, and you could used it for any sweet filling. Pre-bake for pudding or fresh fruit tartes. I par baked it for 10 minutes at 325 degrees before adding a healthy schmear of homemade spiced apple sauce, then layers of very thinly sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon, drizzled with honey, and dotted with butter. I baked the tarte for about an hour at 325 so as not to burn the almonds in the crust, but you could shorten the time and crank up to 350 if you watch the edges carefully. Make sure to place the filled tarte pan on a large baking sheet for baking, so you don't risk ruining the delicate crust as you take it out of the oven. 

For one 10-inch tarte pan with removable bottom, you will need:

2 cups blanched almond meal
3 tablespoons glutinous (sweet) rice flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter or Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces.

Cut the butter into other ingredients with a pastry cutter, a food processor, or your fingers. As the butter warms, the dough will start to hold together. Press firmly into your tarte pan. Prick with a fork before par or pre-baking.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Gluten-Free Pancakes: Another Win for Bisquick

Followed the directions on the box. Used rice milk, eggs, and Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks. Ener-G Egg Replacer would also work fine. They were light, fluffy, and tasted just like a pancake should. Win!

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


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.