Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"White" bread...

Basic "White" Flat Bread

2 C self-rising flour mixture (see below)
1/3 C sugar
4 Tbsp applesauce
1/4 C canola oil or light olive oil
1/3 packet of gluten-free yeast
1 2/3 C rice milk
2-3 Tbsp apple juice (optional)
1/3 - 1/2 packet of fast acting gluten-free yeast

Warm up 1 2/3 C of rice milk to approx. 120-130 F. Mix in 1/3-1/2 of a packet of gluten-free fast-acting yeast.

Add all the other ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add in about 1 C of the rice milk and yeast mixture and mix well. If the mixture seems thicker than a sticky cookie batter, add more milk mixture until it is a very wet dough bordering on a very thick batter.

Cover with a warm damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
Spoon knead well and set aside covered for 10 more minutes. It won't rise very much, but it will gather a few little air pockets with each rise. The yeast ends up being 75% for taste and only 25% for texture.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Grease a small sheet cake pan or small bordered cookie pan.

Use a greased spatula to spread the dough gently onto the well-greased pan. Coat your hands in olive oil and gently press out the surface until it is even and against the edges. Cover again and let rest in a warm place for 15-20 more minutes.

Place into the preheated 350 F oven in the middle rack for about 15 minutes. The top will not brown, but it will be springy and fairly firm. The edges will start to turn golden though.

turned upside-down:Remove and let cool. Use a thin spatula to separate the bread from the edges of the pan and work under it to make sure it is free from the pan (or if using a flexible acrylic pan, you won't have these issues). Then flip the bread and let air out for a couple minutes upside-down. Let cool completely and cut into sandwich bread size slices. Either use within 24 hours or freeze until needed. :-)

My husband even likes this bread replacement and he can eat the real thing! We think it is most similar to plain bagels in taste and texture, and would be great toasted with some jam or for kid's sandwiches. Enjoy!


Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix (from http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com)

2 cups rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Self-Rising Flour Mix (from http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com)

2 cups gluten-free flour mix
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"Pound Cake"

This recipe is in honor of my husband who doesn't like chocolate! Such blasphemy... but, I guess a good white cake base is important for other future recipes as well. ;-)

"Pound Cake"

1 1/4 C rice flour
1/2 C potato starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 C sugar
2 *units* egg replacer (depends on the brand of egg replacer. 1 unit = the amount needed to equal one egg)

* approx. 1/2 to 2/3 C apple sauce
2/3 C canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp apple juice
* enough rice milk to get desirable batter consistency. Fairly thick but easily spreadable, and thin enough to shake out the bubbles and level in a sheet cake pan.
Mix dry ingredients well. Add wet ingredients. Mix until smooth.
Spread out onto greased sheet cake pan. Something like those larger tart molds would be super cute too for a fruit-topped dessert!
Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes. I finished it off with 2 minutes on low broil to get more of a "skin" on the top. However, that was just for aesthetics and is not needed. :-)

This makes a very basic, sturdy, and very versatile, white cake. You can also add your favorite flavored extracts for a number of other flavor twists.
* I wasn't really measuring closely when I was playing around with this one, so some of the ingredients are approximations. I will recreate it in a few weeks and write down the specific amounts (and add a comment here). The non-exact amounts are noted though.

This is how I store my baked goods (I then freeze them and thaw at room temperature as needed/desired).

Buckwheat Pancakes

Buckwheat Pancakes

1/2 C rice flour
1/4 C buckwheat flour
1/4 C potato starch
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder (corn starch-free if corn is a problem)
1/2 - 1 tsp salt (1 for cooking in just veg oil, 1/2 if you are using a salted margarine)
1 tsp ground flax (optional)
dash or two of cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients well and mix in rice milk (or your preferred milk substitute) until the batter is a smooth pancake batter consistency

This would be a very easy dry mix to make in bulk ahead of time and store in the freezer. Then just add milk and cook the desired amount.

Silver dollar pancakes for Jack:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Deep frying fun...

Tonight I made battered fried cod and used the batter to also fry up some halved crimini mushroom tops, zucchini slices, Chinese eggplant slices, and thin-sliced squash.

My approx. batter recipe:

1 1/4 C flour mixture (3/4 C rice flour, 1/4 C potato starch, 1/4 C corn flour 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp fine-ground pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
mix well and add enough seltzer water to make a smooth consistency similar to a fairly thin pancake batter

1/2 C potato starch too coat everything before dipping in the batter

enough canola oil to cover 2 inches in a pan or wok

It took a couple test fries to get my oil the right temperature and my batter the right consistency. If you're worried about it being too thin, just start with it on the thicker side and add more seltzer water until things work out the way you like them. :-) I preferred the batter thin and the oil super-hot. It made for the nice crispy texture and not too much oil absorption.

My favorites were the mushrooms and eggplant.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Squashed Potatoes"

That is what my husband calls them at least...

Our mashed potato solution:

Really it is just 2-3 parts potato to 1 part butternut squash (helps with moisture and a good way to sneak in some veggies/fiber). Cut into cubes and boiled just as if you were making normal mashed potatoes. Boil until very soft, and strain off most of the water. Leave enough to keep things moist after mashing (it may be more than you expect at first).
I add 1-2 bullion cubes (just some salt and garlic powder would be good for vegans), olive oil, and a little ground pepper. Mash mash mash...

This is one of Jack's favorite side dishes or a great late afternoon snack. It reheats much better than normal mashed potatoes too.

Quinoa pasta...

Today for lunch Jack and I had rainbow quinoa pasta with a butternut squash sauce. I had never tried quinoa pasta before, but I had heard good things. I didn't care for it too much. I prefer the rice pastas out there, but Jack seemed to really like it. The texture is very different, and it has a slight nutty taste.

I make all my sauces ahead of time and freeze them in 2-person meal-sized containers for easy microwave reheating and use.

Jack really likes the butternut squash sauce and handles it a lot better than tomato-based sauces. It is very simple. I just steam or boil some cubed butternut squash. Add (or boil in) chicken bullion (or a veggie broth would probably be good too), olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. I just add all the seasoning to taste. I then puree it with my hand blender.

Before we were trying to go low-soy, I also added medium texture tofu and pureed everything together. I called that over rice pasta "no mac, no cheese, mac and cheese." The texture and appearance was very similar to Kraft mac and cheese. heh

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Focaccia sandwiches...

I used the focaccia recipe tonight for some sandwiches. I changed it a little bit by taking the bread out after 10 minutes, brushing the top lightly with olive oil, and then broiling for a couple more minutes to sort of toast the top. mmmm

I cooked up some crispy bacon and then grilled some thin-sliced zucchini and chinese eggplant with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I layered those onto the focaccia along with some deli cut turkey slices.

This is how Jack's looked:

The BEST allergen-free cake yet!

Seriously! You have to try this one!

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1 1/2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 *units* egg replacer (depends on the brand of egg replacer. 1 unit = the mount needed to equal one egg)

1/4 cup rice milk
2/3 cup apple juice
approx 11/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp mint extract

Mix dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and stir until evenly blended. If the batter seems just way too thick, add just a little bit more rice milk.
Bake in 2 lightly greased cup cake pans for approx 25 mins (or until toothpick comes out clean). They'll look a little wet in the middle, but they aren't as long as the toothpick comes out clean. :-)
This batter is also great for licking the spoon/bowl/spatula. This is the first allergen-free cake batter I have tried (pre-packaged or from recipes) that I can say that about!

Good breakfast muffins!

Pumpkin Raisin Muffins:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1 1/3 cup rice flour
2/3 cup tapioca flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 *units* egg replacer (depends on the brand of egg replacer. 1 unit = the mount needed to equal one egg)
1/2 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2/3 cup raisins (or nuts/seeds or a mixture)

Mix dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and stir until evenly blended. Bake in a lightly greased or non-stick muffin pan approx. 25 mins (until toothpick comes out clean). Makes 1 dozen muffins.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My freezer today...

It is kind of a mess... but you get the idea. I bake about 3 times a week, and I freeze a LOT of baked goods. Plus, wheat-free flours tend to spoil quickly at room temperature, so mine are kept in the freezer door. About 6 months ago, that door was full of little baggies of pureed baby foods in ice cube form. I think I have photos of that somewhere too. heh

This was Thanksgiving 2007...

Our first allergen-free Thanksgiving was quite a success. I wish I had thought to take more photos of the food and food-prep back then. We had some friends over to join us for our big meal, and nobody minded the lack of wheat, egg, or dairy one bit! I even received several compliments. Jack was a big fan of the turkey and the green bean casserole.

Cornbread (I added diced canned jalepenos to the batch we ate separately)

2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
6 Tbsp. water
1/2 C rice flour
2/3 C corn flour
1/2 C corn meal
1/4 C sugar (1/2 C for sweeter cornbread)
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. table salt
1 C soy milk (add 1tbsp cider vinegar for a more buttermilk taste)
1/4 canola oil

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare 8-inch-square baking dish.
2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the ground flax seed, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the ground flax seed in the water for 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt until well-combined.
4. Add the ground flax seed mixture, soy milk, sugar and canola oil to the flour mixture. Beat just until smooth.
5. Turn into prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
6. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert cornbread onto wire rack, then turn right side up and continue to cool until warm, about 10 minutes longer. Cut into pieces and serve.


Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

prep time: 15 minutes | cooking time: 32 minutes | makes 4 dozen cookies (best a little on the small side)

1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds

1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Have ready 2 greased baking sheets.

Mix together dry ingredients (except sugar and flax meal)

In a seperate bowl, mix together sugar, oil, molasses, pumpkin, flax meal, and vanilla until very well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet in 3 batches, folding to combine. Fold in raisins.

Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. They don't spread very much so they can be placed only an inch apart. Flatten the tops of the cookies with a fork or with your fingers, to press into cookie shape. Bake for 16 minutes at 350. If you are using two sheets of cookies on 2 levels of your oven, rotate the sheets halfway through for even baking. You'll have enough batter for 4 trays.

Remove from oven and get cookies onto a wire rack to cool. These taste best when they've had some time to cool and set. Good after freezing and thawing out too.


Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

1 recipe of cornbread (above) cubed
1/2 to 1lb of ground italian style sausage
4 celery stalks, with leaves if possible
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup butter
1 chopped turnip
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chicken broth or bouillon
* red pepper flake
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

* Cut cornbread into cubes about 1". Cut the celery into thin slices.
* Saute italian sausage in a large skillet. Add carrot, turnip, and celery; cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Add parsley and cornbread and mix gently so the cornbread pieces don't break. Stir in the chicken stock, salt and pepper.
* Bake, uncovered, at 350° for about 30 minutes. To stuff a turkey or roasting chicken, loosely fill the cavity - don't pack - immediately before putting the bird into a preheated oven. Any extra stuffing can be baked with the bird during the last hour of roasting.


We also had the veggies and potatoes that were roasted with the turkey, green beans with a dairy-free fresh mushroom sauce/soup, and a sweet potato casserole.

Leftovers into lunch...

Last night we had a sort of pork pot roast (boneless country ribs simmered in olive oil, chicken bullion and water, paprika, and black pepper). It was a very simple meal. After slow-cooking, I thickened the base with potato starch and made a light gravy. I served it over rice pilaf with steamed sweet potatoes sprinkled in brown sugar on the side.

Well, this is how it looked as leftovers today to both me and my 1 yr old son (served with microwave-steamed butternut squash instead of sweet potato):

Stir-fry alternative...

Today I needed to use up some fresh veggies and some chicken, so I gave in and used soy (in the form of soy sauce) for the first time in over a week. I try not to use it too much since Jack seems sensitive to it these days, but he doesn't have a bad reaction even when he drinks straight soy milk and and eats yogurt all day long. He just gets very phlegmy and a little rashy. We'll see how he does tomorrow after having a little bit of soy sauce in his stir-fry marinade/sauce.

I'd love some good ideas for soy sauce alternatives in stir-fry dishes! Take into account we can't use peanut or sesame ingredients either. The soy sauce we use is wheat-free.

Into the stir-fry went:
fresh finely chopped ginger root
wheat-free soy sauce
chile oil
light olive oil
garlic powder (fresh garlic and/or onions bother both me and Jack)
chicken breast fillets
chinese eggplant
crimini mushrooms
baby bok choy
thai basil
corn starch (or potato starch if you are corn-allergic) & water to thicken after stir-frying
Served mixed with Thai rice noodles (only ingredients are rice and water)... a nice alternative to plain old rice.

Let them eat cake!

So... I have discovered the joys of cooking with pumpkin and applesauce to help with the moisture level of wheat-free and vegan baking. I started out using pumpkin as a primary flavor ingredient (spice cakes, muffins, and cookies). Now I use it in recipes where you'd never even guess it is there by tasting them.

Super Chocolate (pumpkin) Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1 1/2 cups rice flour
2/3 cup tapioca flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 *units* egg replacer (depends on the brand of egg replacer. 1 unit = the mount needed to equal one egg)

2/3 cup of a fairly acidic apple juice
11/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
3 tsp vanilla extract OR
** 2 tsp vanilla extract and
2 tsp raspberry extract or 1 tsp mint extract

Mix dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and stir until evenly blended. Bake in 2 lightly greased cake pans or cup cake pans for approx. 25 mins (or until toothpick comes out clean).

Depending on your allergies, you can use a lot of store-bought frostings (many only have soy)... or just make a basic icing with powdered sugar, water, and flavoring... I used raspberry preserves with the raspberry chocolate cake pictured. :-)

Jack's food allergies broken down...

Severe: dairy, egg, wheat
moderate: sesame, all tree nuts, peanuts

They only RAST tested Jack for the above allergens. He tested positive on EVERY thing they tested him for. His total IgE number was over 8000.

suspected: banana/avocado, soy (may only be a "sensitivity", but it didn't start being an obvious trigger until the past month), citrus, onion and garlic, and shellfish (I ate octopus and his eczema flared up really badly for 3 or 4 days afterward).

Bread without wheat, egg, or dairy!

Some other allergy moms and I were discussing the sad state of allergen-free breads on the market... SO, I decided to create my own bread-replacement that could be used for sandwiches and spreads!

Focaccia-like Flat Bread (good for sandwiches or spreads)

1/3 C tapioca flour
1/3 C potato starch
1 C white rice flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp salt
1/4 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder (up to 3 for a little bit more fluff)
2 Tbsp flax meal
1 *unit* egg replacer (depends on the brand of egg replacer. 1 unit = the mount needed to equal one egg)
1/2 tsp crushed or ground "italian seasoning" or a pinch of crushed/ground oregano and basil, garlic powder, and some ground rosemary

4 Tbsp applesauce
1 C rice milk
1/3 C vegetable or light olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients with a fork until well-blended.
Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. It should be a Very thick batter and not a dough.
Spread batter evenly into a well-oiled sheet cake pan. Make sure it is no more than 1/2" deep.
Bake for about 10 minutes in the middle rack. Remove and quickly stab at it a bit with a fork to leave little holes in the top. Brush on some olive oil, and return to the oven for 5-8 more minutes. Remove when the edges start to golden and the texture doesn't seem too moist or cake-like.
Let cool for only a few minutes and then cut into large rectangles. Either serve warm or remove the pre-cut pieces with a spatula to a cooling rack (this is so the underside doesn't get soggy) and let them air out and stale a tiny bit for about an hour. Then you can bag them up for later or even freeze them for down the road. :-)

**** I also made it in a cracker form omitting the applesauce and lowering the rice milk to 1/2 cup. I fork blended the dough and then pressed it out (with olive oil-drenched hands) VERY thin on a well-oiled cookie sheet or large sheet cake pan. I stabbed a ton of fork holes, sprinkled with a little bit of seasoned salt, and baked it at 425 F until light golden brown. I cut it into smaller squares while still hot with a pizza cutter. Then the cooling was the same as for the bread. They were TASTY!


How it began...

I am writing this recipe blog to help other families like ours. My son, Jack, has a LOT of food allergies. It took a long time to get the doctors to take our concerns seriously. He threw up basically non-stop from birth until almost a year old. By around 3 months old, his entire body was COVERED in eczema. You might say, "well, he obviously has a dairy allergy. You should have breastfed (like the recently published article on cnn.com stresses about how breastfeeding prevents food allergies)." Or, "Switch him to a soy or hypo-allergenic formula." That is just it... Jack IS a breastfed baby. This is one reason why our doctors never took us seriously. They just couldn't believe that enough allergens could pass through my breastmilk to cause Jack's health issues. It was explained away as "just eczema," and "just reflux." His continuous wheezy rattle was, "just congestion."
We gave Jack oatmeal baths, coated him in steroid ointments and vaseline, tried Zantac for his "reflux"... You name it. We tried it.
Jack has a wonderful laid-back personality and always has. He was described by his pediatricians as a "happy puker." His continuous throwing up was called "a laundry problem, not a health problem." His slow weight-gain was attributed to the fact that "he was just born so big he is evening out now." Jack didn't double his birth weight until after over 9 months. Average is between 4 to 6 months. I was even told by one doctor that, because of his eczema, he wouldn't (thus WE wouldn't) be able to sleep through the night until over 2 years old!!! Excuse me??? I was REALLY sleep deprived from my up all night scratching and puking infant... That just was NOT an option.
My husband and I were pretty darn sure right away that these were all food allergy issues and I began slowly omitting one food at a time from my diet. It never did any good. I figured out during the dairy eliminations that Jack would be extra bad on days I had eggs too. So, when Jack was around 4 months old, I started eliminating both egg and all dairy (in even the tricky forms). It helped to reduce the number of times a day that he would vomit (down to maybe twice a day), but it didn't seem to help much else. We finally pushed hard enough and got the referrals to see a pediatric dermatologist and allergist. The first appointment the allergist had was two months away though. Furthermore, the dermatologist was useless and didn't tell us a single thing that we hadn't already done enough research on our own to figure out.
At 6 and a half months old, Jack got to see his allergist for the first time. She prescribed him Zyrtec to take every day and Aclovate steroid ointment to apply every day. She could only confirm the dairy and egg allergies at the first appointment because Jack didn't have enough skin free of rashes to even do more than a few skin prick tests. This allergist refuses to do RAST blood tests on children under 1 year old. Our next appointment wouldn't be until Jack was almost 1.

There are a lot of firsts that happen in that first year of life. As good parents, you want to take photos to remember those exciting times. It is just fairly sad to look back now and see what a rashy pukey mess my poor baby was. When Jack was 6 months old, he got to go on two plane trips. We went out east to see family for my grandmother's funeral, and we flew to California to visit my parents, old friends, and my sister's family. We even had professional 6 month portraits taken of Jack... My mother refused to display them. He really looked just terrible.

When Jack was 11.5 months old, I called his allergist back and convinced them to see him right away for his RAST testing. I was losing a ton of weight very quickly trying to figure out everything I needed to eliminate. At that point, I was pretty sure of dairy, egg, wheat, and banana/avocado. I didn't see any really obvious reactions to anything else. Those four were basically instant wheezing, puking, and rashes... Within 5 days of my eliminating those entirely, Jack stopped throwing up! The allergist wanted me to reintroduce one item a day with a little bit of wheat and egg in it to see how he would respond to just my eating a tiny bit. BAD idea. Within a day he was laying on his back unable to breathe or swallow and throwing up into his own mouth. I obviously didn't do that experiment for the full 3 days that she wanted! We got back the RAST results and I was right about EVERY allergen we suspected and then some. His total IgE number was over 8000 (for those that don't know, an average person's is around 40). After that, it took a little while for things to calm down again, and within 2 weeks even his skin seemed to be getting softer again. This photo was taken a month later on Thanksgiving morning:
Jack wasn't perfect, but he hadn't hardly thrown up in a month. He was usually only waking up once a night, and he wasn't nearly as wheezy. Right around Thanksgiving was when I started really cooking and baking allergen-free. Now we are pretty sure that Jack is allergic to: dairy, egg, wheat, soy (intollerant at least), sesame, all tree nuts, peanuts, avocado and banana, and most recently corn. He seems to even react quickly (now that he ingests solid foods directly) to foods that contain "trace" amounts of his allergens due to sharing baking/prep facilities with foods that contain them.

I realized very quickly that there is a lot to be desired from most wheat-free and vegan baking recipes. I think a lot of this has to do with people trying to just do straight substitutions. I did a little research on baking chemistry and started creating my OWN recipes for our family (and yours) to enjoy!

I hope the recipes that I post here will help other families like mine to enjoy food again!!!