Holiday Wrap Up

I’ve been busy celebrating the holidays including baking lots of cookies and cakes. A delightful cranberry crackle pie, a pumpkin pie, a lemon poke cake…. Great meals, lots of delish treats. Not finding time for writing posts. But tasty foods came out of my kitchen most mealtimes. Made muffins the other day; chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, more Russian teacakes to give to a friend and an amazing orange chiffon cake for my birthday that no one remembered to photograph. It was scratch, no mix used, and utterly divine….from my Annalise Roberts Heritage Baking Cookbook. Worth all the effort of grating orange zest and the beating of many eggs!
cranberry crackle pie

We have indulged in waffles a few times and chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Chicken pot pie, Caesar salad, roasted chicken, shrimp scampi, and baby back ribs. Oh-my-goodness, the yummy gluten free foods that I produced over these past 2.5 weeks.

It is not difficult to cook gluten free especially if you eat foods naturally gluten free; potatoes, rice, beans, unprocessed proteins and lots of vegetables that are cooked from fresh without the need for falling back on expensive and not-that-tasty processed foods.

pie bag OXO

My wrist has improved somewhat and I got a great new pie rolling out device; pie bag from OXO; slithery smooth clear plastic, non-stick and hugely helpful: I was able to finally roll my crust thin enough to satisfy my own standards as to pie baking. It was the lid on the chicken pot pie and it was flaky, tender and so delish my guy was thieving bites of it an hour later when he walked by the pot pie pan! He is not gluten free either! Apparently, he just loves a delicious pie crust.

Simply-Nature-Brown-Rice-Crackers

Got some great crackers at Aldi’s the other week; brown rice flour ones; nice snappy flavor and only $2 a box so definitely a find.

I bought a bag of their gf tiny pretzels and dipped them in melted chocolate. Amazing flavor! Super cheap compared to the small bag of them at Giant for $4.50. I am a fan of their organic whole milk; I use it to make real yogurt in my Instant Pot. It is rich and creamy with a wonderful subtle flavor; tastes great even without jam! Lots of tasty chocolate that is marked gf and usually made in Germany. I especially love the dark chocolate with hazelnuts. I am waiting for them to bring back the gf hot pockets made with pepperoni and pizza sauce; so so miss that product.

I searched for my favorite brats; none to be found. Darn; they were so delightful. Maybe they will get some in soon. Happy shopping there if you are gf; best prices in my neck of the woods!

Christmas Baking: Moravian Spice Cookies

I love both my cookbooks by Annalise Roberts,  this recipe is from “The Heirloom Collection”…have made some really tasty baked goods from it like my apple custard tart.  I blogged that the other week. Today I bring you her Moravian Spice Cookies. I chose them for many reasons – the memories of spicy cookies being foremost.  I think you will love this cookie for its flavor and crisp texture. I live not far from Bethlehem which is the home base for the Moravian Church.  You can buy these cookies in the Moravian Book Shop but not gluten free.  So now those who can’t eat gluten can have them to enjoy this holiday season.  xmas cookies 007

You can cut them out in shapes but I found I liked to mostly make diamonds using a sharp knife. I did do some hearts and ornament shapes but it was tough going to get them off the wax paper and onto the baking sheet without distorting their original shape. You can take her advice and chill them further to facilitate the moving process.  I do love them any shape they are!

xmas cookies 005

 

 

Moravian Spice Cookies

1 1/4 cup GF flour:  suggest brown rice blend (recipe below)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
¾ tsp. xanthan gum
¼ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter (room temp)
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses

Directions: First combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl; mix well.
Beat shortening, brown sugar and molasses in your big mixer bowl until smooth, add flour mixture and blend until well combined. Shape dough into two disks, chill about 30 minutes, lay between two sheets of wax paper, roll into a very thin (1/8 inch thick) sheet. Cut into 2 inch or less shapes, move with spatula onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If they are sticky and hard to lift up return the sheet to the freezer for a few minutes until they are stiff enough to move. Bake at 325 degrees for 8-11 minutes. Make sure they are fully baked or they won’t be crisp. Leave on the cookie sheet a minute before moving to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight cookie jar or tin.

Spicy and crisp. Great with a cup of coffee or tea! Annalise says you can reduce the spices for less zing; 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, ¾ tsp. ginger and ½ or less of cloves.

Brown Rice Flour Mix (same as King Arthur Basic GF flour)
2 c brown rice flour
2/3 c potato starch
1/3 c tapioca flour

First published on my blog in December 2016

Russian Teacakes – A Christmas Classic

These miniature snowball cookies were the foundation of the Christmas cookie baking season when I was a kid.  They were always made every year, sometimes a second batch had to be baked as we had eaten them all before the big day!  You can use pecans but I rarely do; walnuts are cheaper and I sort of prefer their flavor for this cookie.  Some people call them Mexican Wedding Cookies but we generally called them Russian Teacakes… For me it is not Christmas without these cookies so I was extremely pleased to find a great gf recipe. My sisters think they are better tasting than the old regular recipe!

They are easy to make with not too many ingredients.  Be careful lifting them off the pan as they are delicate until fully cooled. The texture and subtle flavor of this GF version is actually superior to the wheat flour recipe of my childhood. When you bite into one it shatters into a delicious mouthful of sweet cookie. They are delightful with a cup of tea or coffee.  My family clamors for a few to take home!

If you like them really sweet sprinkle on extra powdered sugar, less of it makes them perfect for those who are not used to too much sweetness. No one will ever know they are GF and you will get complements on their flavor and texture.  This recipe is from Annalise Roberts’ fabulous Gluten-Free Baking Classics with some minor changes by me. Enjoy: they are rather addictive cookies!

xmas cookies 006

Russian Teacakes

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

6 tbsp. powdered (confectioners) sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups brown rice mix (recipe below)

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 cup walnuts or pecans chopped fine

Confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling

Directions: beat butter and powdered sugar in large bowl of stand mixer until light and creamy.  Add vanilla, beat in.  Add flour and gum, mix in until well blended, stir in walnuts until distributed.  Chill dough for an hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Form dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar if you like.  Place on cookie sheet lightly sprayed with Pam (not the baker’s version that has flour).  Place about 1 ½ inches apart.  Bake 13 to 15 minutes until lightly browned on top and bottom.  Cool on pan for 5 min and then sprinkle with lots of powdered sugar before placing on wire rack to cool. I like to sift it onto the cookies so the coating is even.  You could put a sheet of wax paper under the wire rack to catch the excess sugar.  Store well wrapped: in airtight container, in fridge for a week or freezer for up to 30 days.  You could store unbaked dough in fridge for a few days.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix  (same as King Arthur gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch *not potato flour

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Note: First posted December 2014 on my blog.  Minor revisions have been made since then.

Bratwursts From Aldi’s are the Best!

This re-post is one of my most popular posts ever. I don’t think any other product review even comes close. We had them for supper tonight. As great tasting as ever. So here it is again!

I bought the package of 4 uncured Bavarian bratwurst at Aldi’s. They were pale and unexciting looking in the shrink wrap but when I pan fried them in a bit of olive oil they browned up nicely. Each brat was still juicy and tender with a delicate flavor I was very impressed with. bratwurst

 

I have bought brats before at other grocery stores and found them rather dull and pedestrian. These are thinner, longer and far tastier.  bratwurst packageUncured means they have less junk added in the curing process of many sausages.  Definitely a yummy and healthy-ish choice for sausage in any recipe. They cook in about 8-10 minutes. They make a quick supper with some pan fried potatoes and a veggie. And grilling them is on the package as an alternative to the frying pan.I need try them on my grill. Maybe for camping next year…

They are imported from Germany and I have heard that they are very authentic compared to most of the brats made in the USA. I give these an A plus in every category. Enjoy!

Originally posted June 2018.

Mad for Waffles!

Camping is fun for me; I love to cook over an open fire or on the camp stove. Summer is a great time for fresh produce. If you can combine cooking and being in nature that is the best deal for me!

Now this is car camping, you know… where you drive there with a trunk full of sleeping bags, tent, tarps, comfy clothes, cook stove, lanterns, and coolers of food… So I had lots food and I also brought my cast iron waffle maker; an antique from the 1920s that was my sister Margie’s and before that my parents.  It was kinda messed up when she gave it to me but Joe and I worked hard to bake off the crud and now it works fantastically… and corn on the cob, shrimp and swordfish (frozen), half frozen chicken thighs, lamb loin chops and a zillion other food items.   Nothing like traveling light!

So we enjoyed some good food. For breakfast I made waffles, then  pancakes, and then more waffles the third morning.  The pancakes are lovely; for a year or two I just couldn’t find any pancakes that measured up to what I felt they should taste like.  These are from Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s cookbook. Sometimes I add extra milk if they are too thick. I pour the batter right out of a mixing bowl with a pour spout onto the griddle.

And, again, I forgot to take pix of the waffle iron in action; so here is that recipe (my version; based on a pancake recipe in Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts. This recipe is great for camping because buttermilk travels better than regular milk and it also uses oil not butter in the waffle; easier to deal with than melting butter on the camp stove…. The other week I was out of buttermilk and used kefir, a fermented milk; worked fantastically.

waffle

Cinnamon Waffles (for 2; double for 4 people)

1 cup brown rice flour mix

1 tbsp. sugar

¼ tsp. salt

1 ¾ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 large egg, well beaten

2 tbsp. canola oil or melted butter plus extra for greasing griddle.

2/3 cup buttermilk

½ tsp. vanilla extract

cooking spray (kind with no flour in it)

Directions:  To make it portable; measure the dry ingredients into a zip-lock baggie. I like to write the other ingredients on with a black Sharpie marker and label it waffles…so you don’t use the pancake mix by mistake!  Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl, add the oil, buttermilk and vanilla (optional when camping but I did bring it this summer and they were so yummy). Pour the dry mix into the bowl and whisk briefly until fairly well mixed.

While you are doing that mixing step the waffle iron should be heating.  I use a round cast iron waffle iron; please do spray it with cooking spray before heating and then I melt about 1-2 tsp. of butter into the 4 quarters; I blop the chunk around with a fork so some melts into each part of the iron.  Flip the iron over just before putting in the batter. I use a big spoon to glop it into the waffle iron.  One big glop in each half.  Close the iron and let it bake about 2 minutes. Flip it and bake 1-2 more minutes, or however long your waffle iron takes.  I serve it with real maple syrup; something this good deserves the best.  Before I serve the first waffle I break off a section and eat it hot and plain; you can really taste the cinnamon that way.  Make sure your waffles are crisp not soft. The crisp is Everything!

We had scrambled eggs and maple flavored sausage links; both go fantastically well with waffles.

Brown Rice Flour Mix (it is the same as King Arthur’s gf flour mix)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Originally posted in July 2015 and again in 2016  and 2017 with minor text revisions. Recipe the same.

Brown Rice Risotto (Wild Mushroom version)

Risotto is a favorite rice dish at my house. I generally use arborio rice, short fat white grains. It takes about 18-20 minutes to cook on the stovetop. Someone got me a bag of short grained brown rice. Saturday I tried it out for risotto. And, as it takes longer than white rice, I made it in my Instant Pot pressure cooker; easier, faster and less heat in my kitchen. It was pretty tasty. And super healthy as brown rice is a whole grain. This was a wild mushroom risotto made with chicken of the woods shrooms which I had harvested last fall and frozen partially precooked. Delicious! Baby bella or cremini mushrooms would work well; slice and sauté before adding to the recipe. Or sub in a cup of frozen peas or barely cooked chopped asparagus.

wild mushroom risotto

Yes, those mushrooms are pink! This is a dish of leftover risotto; not as creamy as first cooked was.

Wild Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto

 

Ingredients:

1 cup brown short grain rice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ c diced onion

1 garlic clove minced

1/3 c dry white wine

1 2/3 cups chicken broth

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup cooked wild mushrooms; 1 ½ c sliced mushrooms cooked in 2 Tbsp butter 3-6 minutes

1/3-1/2 cup just grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Put IP on sauté feature, let heat then add olive oil. Add finely diced onion, cook 4-5 minutes, stir often. Add rice, stir and cook a minute, add wine, cook a minute, add garlic, stir and cook 30 seconds. Add broth and salt. Put on lid, lock and put on pressure for 35 minutes. While it cooks sauté the shrooms. At end of 35 minutes do a quick release, open, stir and add the mushrooms, stir and add cheese, grind on black pepper.  Stir and serve. Enjoy!

Note, if watery you can put on sauté for 3-5 minutes to dry it out some. Or, if dry add up to a quarter cup more broth.

risotto and firey salmon

Summer supper perfection: dilly cuke salad, corn on cob and firecracker salmon fillets with the risotto.

Steak Fajitas Done Easy!

Okay, so I’ve been wanting to make gluten free flat bread, aka flour tortillas for a long long time; just been a bit exhausted and too busy for the effort of trying new recipes. Well, I think I found a keeper; found on healthystartsinthekitchen.com. You make it in a lidded quart mason jar; dump ingredients in, shake up the batter really well and pour a quarter cup into a cast iron fry pan or griddle; tilt to spread it a bit, bake on both sides 1-2 minutes and then pop in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to finish the center. flat bread

Great as a wrap for my steak fajitas. I had some leftover flank steak cooked on the grill. It was a bit tough and kinda boring but sliced thin and briefly warmed on the hot griddle after the flat breads were done; just right. I laid a few slices across a flatbread, topped with finely shredded fresh cabbage, a few thin sliced rounds of cucumber and a bit of sliced ripe avocado. Topped it with a 50/50 mixture of mayo and unflavored yogurt. A great steak fajita is ready to gobble up with very little effort.

 

steak fajita 4The recipe is available on her site: 1/2 cup almond flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour, some water, onion and garlic powder, sea salt and pepper. Says it makes four but I got 3 medium sized ones. Next time I will double it. They were tasty warm from oven. A very simple to construct (few ingredients and just easy) and extremely useful recipe. Give it a try next time you need a gf flour tortilla. You may be very pleased and it is a fraction the cost of those tough, dry and bland gf wraps you can buy…if you can even find any at your store.  I also like that it takes no weird flours or tricky processes to create these crispy treats. Enjoy!