Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gluten-Free Cooking

A new client of mine has a son recently diagnosed with gluten and dairy allergies / intolerance.   She is an involved and caring person and so wanted to revise the whole household's eating regime in sympathy with her son's restrictions.  After trying every gluten and dairy-free bread on the market, and describing them as tasting like sand, dirt, nothing and styro-foam, we began working on a loaf of bread ourselves that was "sandwich-worthy".  Sandwich Worthy has become our catch-phrase: the sandwich-worthy slice of bread is not too sweet, not too bland, is tough yet flexible (like a good parent), and can contain meats, spreads, and other layers without crumbling, cracking, or otherwise busting apart.  This recipe I found on the internet has been a God-send.  I am using it as a suggested list of ingredients and baking multiple batches with various substitutions, such as using corn meal and ground flax in place of the rice flours.  The recipe made as is, with no substitutions, is delicious and surprisingly Sandwich-Worthy.  Definitely a success on its own.  Stay tuned for a post on my improved recipes for Sandwich-Worthy gluten-free and dairy-free bread with pictures!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Committing To A Recipe

When I was young and we went to Granny's house for a holiday or for the weekend, there was great variety and seasonality to the food. She made vegetable soup when the height of Ohio summer gave her squash, zucchini, carrots, corn, tomatoes and onion. Old favorites would soon come around again in heavy rotation: fried chicken, baked ham, broccoli-rice casserole, Salisbury steak. And the smaller repertoire of desserts featuring Texas sheet cake, pecan pie, sugar cookies, and fudge, always met with great enthusiasm.

I wonder ... if Granny had lived to see the Internet, and lived long enough for us to show her the wonders of Epicurious, The Food Network and Cooking Light , would her old favorite recipes be replaced by new favorites? What would happen if she discovered her pecan pie could be improved upon by adding agave nectar and chocolate chips? And would her commitment to the tried-and-true be tested by the embarrassingly rich selection of the on-line recipe catalogue?

Well, I think I know the answer to that. Granny would stick to what she and her family loved, of course! And history would remain unchanged. I, however, awash in CHOW 's food-topian community and power-tripped-up as I publish mini-reviews on Urban Spoon (my opinions matter!)... I .... will rarely commit to encapsulating a recipe in a plastic sleeve, adorning it with marginalia ("The best yet. A+"), and believe with my heart that no other will ever be needed. There are just too many fish recipes in the internet's sea to settle on one, or even a FEW, ways to prepare cioppino.

Exceptions exist. True love happily forces the exception. For my commitment, what better place to start than with chocolate. I found the brownies for me. I don't know or care what anyone else needs from their brownies. If you are committed to tall and cakey ones, good. If your family always requests the fudgy-gooeys with the powdered sugar on top, I say well done! But my brownies will always be somewhere in between, with a tacky top that fastens your teeth together when you chew and both goo and cake in the middle. "Our thing" is to dress it up with peanut butter chips. That little bit of jouissance is how I reeled this one in, and made it a keeper.

Preheat oven to 350. Melt 1 cup butter, take off heat and stir in 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, 2 t vanilla. Beat in 2/3 cup flour, 2/3 cup cocoa, 3/4 t salt and 1 t baking powder. Spread it in a 12 x 8 pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Over-baking these will make them inedible. Take them out on time. Sprinkle with peanut butter chips before baking if desired.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ginger's Kitchenware = Real Sharp Knives

Every time I go into Ginger's Kitchenware on Newport (across from Newport Market), I'm so pleased. Many might know it as the specialty kitchen supply store, fancier than Williams-Sonoma, where Ginger holds court, and where you can purchase the latest culinary gadgetry (silicone egg poachers anyone?). However, I know Ginger's Kitchenware as the place to get my knives sharpened in one day, for $4 per knife. This is a great deal! Don't hack away at another onion tonight, or smoosh a perfect tomato with a dull blade -- get 'em sharp again at Ginger's!