Unexpected gifts sometimes turn out to be the best gifts! My aunt Judy bought me this cook book and surprised me with it several months ago. Some of its pages are dog eared, it is filled with sticky notes, there are food stains on it,I write notes in it next to the recipes I’ve tried…true signs that it is a great cook book. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about it. Silvana Nardone owned a bakery for years and was the editor in chief for Everyday With Rachel Ray magazine. It’s safe to say she knows her stuff. Her son was diagnosed with gluten and dairy intolerance and she had to figure out a completely different way of doing things than she was used to. Sound familiar?
Silvana is a foodie like a lot of us. So you know that when a mother sets out to find a way to comfort and love her son with food and then write a cook book about it, it’s going to be good. Another cool thing on the long list of things I love about this cook book is that she has 2 simple flour mixtures. Easy flours to find, nothing fancy or scary. The recipes aren’t too complicated, you don’t need special tools, and best of all, every single recipe I’ve tried has been delicious. Perfect for the newbie. Perfect for the seasoned gluten free/dairy free cook.
I have made numerous recipes out of this cook book and have loved every single thing I’ve made. I’ve served them to my family, to guests, to neighborhood kids…everyone was impressed and loved what they were eating. I could post an entire page just on how mouth watering her doughnut recipes are. By the way, the picture of the doughnuts is my picture. Yep, they came out of my oven and I decorated them. Fancy, huh? They are simple…and simply delicious.
Her Corn-Shrimp fritters – heavenly. Isaiah’s Pumpkin Muffins with Crumble Topping – scrumptious and soothing. Her Chocolate Mousse Cloud Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust – to die for. And can you believe she came up with all kinds of sweet and savory waffle mixes that allow you to create sandwich breads in your waffle iron? You need this cook book.
Simply put, I love this product. Chebe has an entire line of mixes. So far, I’m stuck on this one. I can’t get it out of my head. I’ve made focaccia bread with it, numerous pizzas, snacks for parties…the things you can add to this and put on top of it are endless. And you just have to love the logo, Slightly Unusual, Unusually Good. They’re right, it is slightly unusual. When you pour it out of the bag it’s very light and soft, due to the tapioca flour and manioc starch (don’t pour it out too quickly or you’ll have a cloud hovering over your counter). It truly is, unusually good. I think what makes it that way is that it’s unusually diverse. I rarely follow recipes completely, so I really like a product that I can tinker with. Tonight I’ll be making a vegetable flat bread pizza with it for dinner. I’ll post step by step instructions, ingredients, and pictures…so stay tuned!
So I need to be truthful here. I have spent the majority of my life despising the Garbanzo Bean. I’m not even really sure why, but it’s probably because it was something I was forced to eat as a child! (I mean really, isn’t that pretty much what we blame a lot of our quirks on?) And then a surprising thing started to happen. I had to change my diet and try all kinds of new ingredients in ways I never really imagined. Like hummus, which I was surprised to find out is quite good! Once I convinced myself that maybe I’d given the garbanzo bean a bad wrap, then I moved on to Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour. I was being adventurous and trying new things, and if it meant I could eat a “bread like” item, why not?
Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour is made with a combination of garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour, and fava bean flour. It does have a “taste”. Kind of a slightly sour, beany flavor. Before I lose you, let me explain. In certain recipes, it’s absolutely wonderful. The beans also add such a wonderful, moist, consistency to breads and cakes. I typically use this flour for banana bread, following the recipe right on the back of the flour bag. I add a little of this and that (like extra banana and a good half-inch of brown sugar on the top before I put it in the oven) and put my own flair into it, but I’m basically following the recipe. I also use it to make an amazing (if I do say so myself!) gluten-free German chocolate cake.
So, if you’re feeling a little uncomfortable with bean flours, I urge you to take a bag home, experiment with it a little, adding (chocolate, banana, coffee…stronger flavors) things that will compliment instead of compete with the uniqueness of this flour. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!
I have to admit, I’m impressed with these hot dogs. Typically, when I eat a hot dog it’s because I’m starving and I want something to eat fast and I try to ignore what it’s made out of. Not only are they gluten free, casein free, and made out of organic, grass-fed beef, each dog has only 8 grams of fat…that’s half of the leading national brand beef hot dog’s 16 grams of fat. Not only do they have less fat, they have less cholesterol, less sodium, zero sugar, and more protein. And they aren’t skinny little dogs either like some you might see on the shelves in your local grocery store. They are full of flavor and boil or grill nicely. With healthy ingredients and a great taste, I can see myself eating one or even two of these every now and then. Especially on our next sunny day when we get a little spring fever and want to fire up the grill!
OK, first let me explain to you how much I absolutely love pie crust. If left here by myself with a pie, I can probably easily eat the whole thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in two days flat. Pie crust is comfort food, plain and simple. It has “grandma” and “warm” and “cozy” and “home” written all over it.
When I had to remove gluten from my diet one of my first thoughts was, “No pie dough?”. Life is too short to not have pie. You can go to your local grocer and purchase their gluten-free, ready made crusts that taste like a mixture of cardboard, sand, and glue in a pinch. But if I told you this recipe makes four pie crusts that are deliciously flaky, scrumptious and you can freeze the dough to have it ready any time, you would be crazy to settle for cardboard and glue.
It’s also veratile! Here are some examples:
(Click on the link to get the recipes)
Pie Crust From Heaven
*makes four pie crusts
5 to 5 1/2 cups Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (plus more for turning out and rolling, it will be pretty wet when you turn it out of the bowl, don’t panic, it all comes together.)
4 tsp. xanthan gum
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1 1/2 Tbsps. sugar (if I’m using this for a savory recipe, I only add 1 Tbsp. of sugar)
1 lb. of Spectrum Shortening (Remember, this makes the equivalent of 4 crusts…don’t freak out.)
1 egg (beaten with fork in measuring cup and then filled to 1 cup with water)
Place 5 cups of Mama’s Almond Flour in large bowl. I use the spoon in cup method and level with a knife. Mama’s Almond Flour is very soft and dense, not dry and grainy like wheat flour. I think if you used the scoop and scrape method it would pack into the measuring cup and you would end up with way too much flour and a dry crust. Add salt, sugar, xanthan gum, whisk to combine. Next scoop 1 lb of shortenig onto flour mixture.
Work the shortening into dough with your hands, sifting through your fingers until the shortening is somewhat combined and the flour resembles small pea size (about) pieces.
Next, whisk 1 egg in a measuring cup and fill to 1 cup with water.
Add the egg and water in a well in the center of mixture. Work together with a fork just until mixed.
Scoop out onto floured ( Mama’s Almond Flour) parchment paper.
Work it a little to form it into a smooth-ish log. But don’t overwork it!
Cut into four sections.
Pat into discs, wrap with plastic wrap and either freeze in freezer bags for use later or chill in fridge for same day or next day use. If you’re going to freeze the dough for use later, simply remove it from the freezer and put in the fridge the night before, or, thaw on counter for 20 minutes.
When rolling gluten free pie dough, be sure to start on floured parchment paper. Gluten free dough is sticky and will need flour underneath it and flour on top of it as you are rolling it out. I use the parchment paper to help me get it into the pie plate. Sometimes, but not always, it even works to roll it up on your rolling pin like a regular gluten crust. If it tears on you, don’t panic, you can start again or you can patch it by pinching the dough together in the pan, no one will ever know. With a little practice, you’ll have a perfect pie crust in no time.
Welcome and thank you for joining me on my new adventure! After suffering from numerous “illnesses”, stomach issues, swelling, joint problems, shingles, sinus issues,…yadda, yadda, yadda, I decided with help from my Naturopath that it would be a good idea to start a food diary. I kept the diary for a year and a half but it didn’t take nearly that long before I was able to easily recognize that I couldn’t tolerate gluten or dairy. Bummer, huh? To most people, those words sound an alarm of panic. What? How can I possibly go without gluten and dairy? What will I eat? I don’t know anything about “specialty” foods! How can I possibly fit my new diet in with my family, they’re picky eaters! Will I ever be able to eat like a “normal” person again? Well, I’m here to tell you to take a deep breath, turn off the panic button, and put all of your fears about changing your diet aside.
In the beginning, like many people, my first step was to head to the specialty isles in grocery stores to see exactly what was OK for me to eat. There are actually quite a few choices out there, some very tasty, and some not so much. Like a lot of the rice breads and rice flour products. I suppose they’re fine if you like your sandwich to crumble apart and your bread to have a weird, slippery, texture. For months I just lived with what I could find in the stores or without grains or dairy substitutes at all. Not fun. Not satisfying for a major foodie like me. Irritating. Even sad. “I can’t live like this! NO, I refuse to live like this!” I started Googling gluten free and dairy free recipes and ideas for everything I could think of. I educated myself on different types of gluten free flours and ingredients, on xanthan gum (Whaaa?), all kinds of things that would change my gluten free world forever…in a GOOD way!
So, if you’d like to join me on my new adventure, I’ll be posting all kinds of gluten free and dairy free recipes that won’t crumble, be slippery, gross, or any other negative word. You’ll even be able to feed your family the same thing you’re eating and they won’t ever know the difference! I also plan to do gluten free/dairy free product reviews to help you figure out what not to waste your money on. I’ll post pictures and step by step directions for my recipes, links to other awesome gluten free and dairy free sites, tips, and more.
Join me in taking a deep, cleansing breath, and let’s get through this gluten free thing together! ~April