Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jet Blue Serves Gluten-free Snack

It's amazing news.  On the other hand, it's ridiculous that having gluten-free food on the airplane feels like a newsworthy event to me.  But, being a seasoned traveler and also a gluten-free person for 6 years, I was excited at the prospect of having a gluten-free snack on an airplane for the first time - one that I didn't have to order at least 72 hours in advance.  Thank you, Jet Blue!

I read the ingredients of each item, and the only thing that concerned me was the almonds.  They didn't have any gluten ingredients, but the package was labeled for possible wheat cross-contamination.  Even so, the almonds in question were individually packaged, so if a person didn't want to risk the contamination issue they could pass over the almonds.

It wasn't a hearty meal by any stretch of the imagination, but it tided me over on the two-hour flight during which no regular meal was served.

This gluten-free snack, called the "Shape Up," was $5.99.  It was not only gluten-free but also vegetarian.  It included green olives, almonds, raisins, GF crackers, hummus, a wet napkin, a mint, and a Pamela's ginger cookie.
The olives went nicely with my Bloody Mary.   This is the way to travel!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Easy as Pie Lightning Tartlets

I went out to my garden this weekend and I was blown away by how big everything got after being away for a week.  I harvested five artichokes!  I gave one away to another gardener at my community garden.  Then I saw my strawberries.  It took a while to even locate and pick them all.  Then I had an unusual problem: what do I do with all these strawberries?

I could just eat some of them, sure.  And I did.  Immediately.  But for once in my life I had too many strawberries.

I decided to whip something up.  My idea was to make something incredibly quick, but still with a beautiful flaky crust.  I had this idea that pie crust doesn't need to take as long as it does with gluten dough because it doesn't need to rest to "relax" the gluten.  Whether or not that's strictly true is unimportant.  Sure, it helps to rest the dough to get the water to absorb evenly, but for the sake of a Lightning Tartlet I decided to omit the resting.

Then I decided to omit the rolling out.  That saves a lot of time and frustration.  Then I cut some more corners.  You'll see.  What you end up with is a very fast, easy tartlet recipe that you can whip up for a quick dessert.

Recipe for Lightning Tartlets

Makes 4 tartlets

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, bring to a boil:

4 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
2 Tbsp minced rhubarb (optional)
a pinch of salt

While the fruit mixture is boiling, make your crust.  In a food processor, mix:

1 cup Deluxe Pastry Flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

When the dry ingredients are mixed, add:

6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Pulse the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces are about the size of a pea.  Then add:

2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter

Pulse the food processor again until the large pieces aren't bigger than 1/2 inch.  Pour over the butter and flour mixture:

3-4 Tbsp ice-cold water

Pulse the ice water into the flour and butter for 1-2 seconds.  Add more ice water and repeat until the mixture looks like little pellets.  The dough should stick together when you pinch a bit of it between your fingers.   If it doesn't, you need more water.  Once the mixture is the right consistency, stop mixing.

Divide the crumbly dough between four tartlet pans.  They may look too full but the pie dough will smash down considerably.  Start forming the edge of the dough.  Make a rim by shaping it with your two thumbs together, then press down the bottom.  Press everything very firmly into the pan.  Don't worry too much about over-compressing it.  The dough will puff up a little in the oven.

Remember your fruit filling boiling away on the stove?  Taste that.  Don't burn yourself.  Adjust the ingredients if necessary.  Once all the crusts are formed, fill the tartlets with the fruit filling, still hot.

If you'd like, add a dollop of cream cheese like I did with this blueberry tartlet.

Bake in the 400 degree oven about 15 minutes or until the crusts begin to brown.  Let them cool before digging in.  Serve them in the pan to avoid a mess.  While the crusts will hold together on their own, it's tricky to get them out without spilling the fruit contents until they've cooled completely.

For more strawberry recipes see the Gluten-free Homemaker's blog carnival Gluten-free Wednesdays.  Her theme this month is strawberries.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

What's Coming Up

Hello readers!  I'm really lucky to be going to a photo conference this week, but it means that I won't have time to update this blog until I get back.  To tide you over until I return, I'd like to just share a few things that I'm working on.

A few weeks ago I put out a query on my Facebook page asking readers what they miss the most or would like to see re-created in the gluten-free form.  I got a good list of things that I've been trying to plow through:

A few people mentioned recipes that I already had posted, like scones and pizza crust.  The big deal is the bread.  Now, I have a few bread recipe already, but I'm working on developing a blend of flours that's perfect for bread baking in all its various forms.  Pictured above is my first successful loaf of vegan bread made without any xanthan gum.  It's made with a version of my upcoming bread flour blend.  I'll be sure to keep you posted on this development, which I'm very excited about, but I won't be able to cook from my hotel room for the next week so R&D is going to be on a brief hiatus.

Which glutinous goods do you miss the most that you can't find a good substitute for?  Weigh in by leaving a comment and I'll put it on my list!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie in June

There's something about Portland weather.  The rain, you might say.  It's that every June, I start getting the urge to cook bread, soups, and stews again, even though I thought I'd given that up for the summer.

Portland always gives you a few really warm, summery, breezy days in May, then takes them all back for a few rainy, cold, sleazy days in the beginning of June.  It's those rainy June days when I want something like chicken pot pie. 

The nice thing about this dish is, you can put your spring vegetables in it if you want.

Recipe for Chicken Pot Pie

The first thing to consider when making chicken pot pie is how much volume your pot - or in this case your casserole dish - holds.  To determine this, you can fill your casserole with water and then dump that water in the pot that you will use to stew your ingredients, take a note of the level that it fills to, and proceed.  Or, if you would like to be authentic, I suppose you could just use your sauce pot for the chicken pot pie.  I don't know.  I'm not trying to be authentic - just delicious.

Next you need to cut out your pastry dough.  I use the dough from my croissant recipe or the Quicker, Easier Croissant Recipe to make this chicken pot pie.  Roll enough of that recipe worth of dough to cover your dish 1/2 inch thick on parchment paper.  Don't make it too thin.  Lay your casserole dish or pot on top of that dough and cut the dough to fit.  If it's a casserole dish like mine, cut the pastry dough to the edge of the dish.  If it's a pot that you want to cover, make sure your pastry dough is big enough to go about an inch down the side.  The dough will shrink while cooking, so don't cut it too small.

Cut a vent in the middle of the dough, and set it aside to rise while you put your filling together.  (If it's not a yeasted puff pastry, stick it in the fridge while you prep the filling.)

I won't give specific measurement because it depends on the size of your pot or dish.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine well:

GF all-purpose flour, preferably one without xanthan gum like my Pancake Flour Blend, about 1/4 cup for a medium-sized casserole dish

equal amount of water

whisk those together until well-combined, then set aside.

Brown in a sauce pan or stock pot:

1-2 Tbsp oil
onions or shallots
other vegetables to taste

Deglaze the pan with:

white wine or GF beer.

Fill the pan part way with:

chicken stock


pieces of cooked chicken
whole cumin 
salt and pepper
Other herbs and spices to taste 

Simmer all the ingredients for a minute, then add the flour and water mixure.  Blend that in well.  Fill the pot to the place that you have marked for the full volume you will need with:

more vegetables, e.g. broccoli

Once the broccoli or other veggies have cooked for a minute, you can turn off the heat and remove the stew to your casserole dish.  Take your pastry dough and fold the corners of the parchment paper over it.  Flip it over and place it on top of your casserole.  Pull out the corners of the parchment paper from underneath the dough and peel it off the top as well.  Brush the pastry with a mixture of:

egg, beaten,

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.