26 Days of Home · Gluten-Free Food

S is for…

Before there was a name, ingenious eaters around the world were making their own versions. Imagine, being so engrossed in your card game you haven’t wanted to leave the table, even though your meal is ready and you are starving. Forever after, your name will be associated with your solution.

Eggplant parmesan sandwich, waiting for focaccia topper.

S is for sandwich. The above scenario is said to have taken place in 1762, when John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich, told his servant to place his roast beef between two pieces of bread. Others at the table (reportedly) said “I’ll have the same as Sandwich!” Soon enough, the name and the food item came together and made its first appearance in a 1773 cookbook. It then crossed the ocean, and recipes for sandwiches debut in an 1816 American cookbook.

Sandwich is defined as “two slices of bread with a layer of food in between.” (There is a debate whether a sandwich can be open-faced, or without the second piece of bread, but I’ll leave that for now.) Hungry people have been sandwiching food between two edibles for millennia.

A Passover custom from the 1st Century BC, introduced by Hillel the Elder, qualifies as a sandwich based on the above definition. This sandwich consisted of a filling of nuts, apples, spices and bitter herbs sandwiched between two matzoh. Fast forward centuries, to see rural farm labourers in France eating meat between two pieces of bread.

Is a sandwich still a sandwich if you have to use a fork?

One more trip in the time-machine, brings us to more recent history. In the 1920s sliced and packaged bread became readily available. Suddenly, anyone could reach into a bag and pull out a slice of bread, no knife required, so children could now make their own sandwiches. Lunch pails everywhere were filled with sandwiches.

Today, sandwiches are still popular choices for work lunches, fancy teas (with the crusts cut off), in school lunch bags and for bedtime snacks. One can’t avoid the sandwich, it is on every menu, but when you have a diagnosis of Celiac disease the sandwich’s ubiquity can be a “tough sandwich to swallow.” Gluten-free eating requires a rethinking of the humble sandwich, this convenience food isn’t always convenient.

Finding a gluten-free bread can be a challenge. Commercial gluten-free loaves are small, one sandwich just doesn’t satisfy a teen’s hunger. Generally we bake our own, but even having a loaf in the freezer doesn’t always make a sandwich a quick option.

We have redefined the sandwich at our home. Waffle-wiches are substantial and the holes really hold onto the filling. Focaccia has become a staple and it is relatively quick and easy to make. We eat far fewer peanut butter and honey sandwiches now, but we do eat more paninis with various aioli, roasted vegetables and different cheeses.

In our home, the status of the sandwich has gone from being common, to its more elevated aristocratic beginnings – but never with cards.

Simplee

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26 Days of Home · Gluten-Free Food

P is for…

It resembles a pinecone, is indigenous to South America and shows up on quilts, knockers, architecture and jelly moulds. It is a symbol of hospitality, friendship and warmth.

P is for pineapple. For years, those spiky looking skins scared me away from purchasing a fresh pineapple. They just looked too difficult to handle, dangerous even. The contraptions for coring and slicing did little to encourage confidence. My sister gave me the confidence – thank goodness for older sisters – which was a good thing since I love pineapple.

I do not like peaches (see Just Peachy post) but they are a mainstay of commercial fruit salads. Tropical fruit salad, our favourite, is made with pineapple and papaya, but it is quite difficult to find. There is a grocery store which carries it in a commercial-sized tin, but for a family of three, that’s just too much of a good thing!

Once you eat fresh pineapple, not the dry, fibrous wedge served at restaurants or on your pina-colada glass, you won’t want to eat canned again. The texture is “melt in your mouth” and the aroma is intoxicating. And it is a good source of Vitamin C, manganese, fibre and the enzyme bromelain; it is also reputed to have anti-inflammatory properties. And you can grow it at home. We are looking forward to harvesting our own pineapple in a few years time!?!?!

At our home, we have two favourite says of serving fresh pineapple, and although upside-down cake is a favourite dessert, the cake isn’t necessary. First, grill or saute the slices in a skillet, with butter and a sprinkle of brown sugar. The juices will carmelize and it is just like the topping of the upside-down cake. Next, the easiest way, is in a fruit salad of our own making. Oranges, mandarins, grapes, kiwi, dried cranberries, pears, or whatever fruit you have at hand mixed in with the pineapple wedges makes a nice side dish to waffles, or an afternoon snack with a handful of nuts or seeds.

Don’t let its spiny looks fool you, pineapple really is a softy inside. No wonder it has become the symbol of hospitality.

Simplee

26 Days of Home · Gluten-Free Food · Gluten-Free Recipe

O is for…

A question arose over breakfast with my sister a few weeks ago: “What came first the colour or the fruit?”

O is for Orange Drizzle Cake. A quick search and we knew the answer, the colour was named after the fruit; before the colour orange there was the very true descriptive “red-yellow.”

This orange drizzle cake is inspired by the fruit too, and Mary Barry’s recipe in the cookbook Everyday Recipes. Her recipe is not gluten-free, mine is. She describes the cake as a cross between a drizzle cake and a Victoria sponge.

Gluten-Free Orange Drizzle Cake

makes 9″ layer cake

Gather (for cake):

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • zest from 1 orange (about 2 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups white rice flour
  • 6 tbsn tapioca starch
  • 6 tbsn potato starch
  • 1/2 cup sweet rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 scant tsp xanthan gum
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (juice one orange and top up with water to make 3/4 cup)

Method (for cake):

  • Prep two 9 ” cake pans and line with parchment paper. (8″ cake pans may be used, adjust baking time)
  • In large bowl combine white rice flour, starches, sweet rice flour, baking powder, baking soda and xanthan gum. Whisk to fully combine.
  • Put sugar in separate mixing bowl, add the orange zest to the sugar and blend well with mixer.
  • To orange/sugar mixture add oil and mix until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla.
  • Scrape bowl before adding 1/3 of flour mixture, blend. Add buttermilk. Blend.
  • Add another 1/3 of flour mixture, blend. Add orange juice and blend.
  • Scrape bowl and add final 1/3 of flour mixture. Mix until combined.
  • Divide batter between two prepared pans. Tap on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake in preheated 350F oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for few minutes in pan, then remove to rack, removing parchment paper.

Meanwhile prepare drizzle, which you want to pour over one layer (this will be top layer) while still warm. Place cake on rack over baking sheet to collect excess glaze.

Gather (for drizzle):

  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • scant 1 cup icing sugar

Method (for drizzle):

  • Whisk together juice, zest and icing sugar. Pour over one cake layer, using offset spatula to spread to edges if necessary.

Allow the cakes to cool completely before final assembly. Once cooled, place unglazed cake on platter, top with orange buttercream, carefully place glazed cake layer on top of buttercream (glazed side up).

Gather (for buttercream):

  • 2 tbsn unsalted butter, softened
  • zest from 1/2 orange (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tbsn orange juice (more or less to reach desired consistency)

Method (for buttercream):

  • Cream together butter and orange zest until light and fluffy. Add icing sugar, adding orange juice as needed a bit at a time, until it reaches an easily spreadable consistency.

Enjoy.

Simplee

 

 

26 Days of Home · Gluten-Free Food

M is for…

On January 15, 1919 in the north end of Boston, 21 were killed and 150 injured in an industrial disaster. In September 2013, the same substance leaked into the water off the coast of Hawaii causing the death of thousands of fish, eels and sea-life.

M is for molasses. The only warning was a “dull, muffled roar” for The Great Molasses Flood (aka the Boston Molasses Disaster) in January 1919. A tank containing over 2 million gallons of hot, thick molasses exploded. Although initially blamed on anarchists, the final verdict for the cause of the explosion was the tank’s poor construction and maintenance, in addition to the fermentation and the unseasonably warm weather. The contents of the molasses filled tank at the Purity Distilling Company flooded the surrounding area, destroying buildings, overturning carts and vehicles, and derailing an elevated train. Eyewitnesses said there was a 30 foot tall wave of molasses, travelling at 35 mph. Rescue efforts were hampered by the sticky goo; it took four days to find all the victims and over two weeks to clean up the  mess.

Almost 100 years later, another molasses disaster happened off the coast of Hawaii. In September 2013, 233 000 gallons of molasses leaked from a faulty pipe into the water. The molasses sank, essentially suffocating the fish and sea-life in the area. In both of these disasters, the molasses was not a product for consumption.

Molasses is the leftover syrup after boiling sugar and removing the crystals. There are differing varieties depending on the stage of processing the syrup is left over from. Light molasses is the result of the first boiling; it is the lightest in colour and sweetest in taste. Full or dark molasses follows the second boiling; this is darker in colour, thicker and less sweet, making it ideal for gingerbread. The third boil leaves blackstrap molasses; it is the darkest in colour, has the strongest taste and is more bitter. Since it is concentrated, blackstrap molasses contains more vitamins and minerals than the other varieties. The minerals include: iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, selenium and potassium, causing some to take a daily tablespoon as “medicine,” but it is an acquired taste – like black liquorice, one either likes it or hates it!

Fancy molasses is the lightest and sweetest molasses. It tastes good spread on buttered toast. Cooking molasses is a blend of fancy and blackstrap and as its name suggests, is best for cooking. Molasses may also be sulphured or unsulphured. Sulphur dioxide can be added to molasses to act as a preservative, it makes the molasses less sweet and changes the flavour slightly. Unsulphured molasses maintains the true molasses taste and is most often called for in recipes. Sugar cane or sugar beet are not the only sources for molasses; sorghum, pomegranate, carob and dates may also be used.

Molasses is best known as an ingredient in gingerbread, but it can also be used in brownies, muffins, teriyaki sauce and in meat rubs. It is gluten-free and an excellent source of iron, so it is worth looking into recipes beyond gingerbread to incorporate this ingredient into your cooking.

Simplee

 

26 Days of Home · Gluten-Free Food · Gluten-Free Recipe

J is for…

J is for jam. Both jams and jellies are made with fruit, sugar and pectin. The difference is in the form of the fruit – for crabapple jelly, for instance, the fruit is sieved through cheesecloth, so no fruit, only the juices gel. In jams, the pulp or crushed fruit is not strained and jams, for the most part, are made from a berry or combination of berries.

Making jam is time-consuming and the sterilization of the jars can be a little daunting. But if you make a small amount, keep it in the fridge and eat it up with a couple of weeks, making a quick berry jam is easy and tasty. By cooking it in a skillet, the jam cooks even quicker and less sugar is required!

Quick Any-Berry Jam

makes about 1 cup of jam

Gather:

  • 2 to 3 cups of fresh or frozen berries
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Method:

  • Place berries in skillet, over med-high heat. (If using strawberries you may wish to chop or mash them first.)
  • Add sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil.
  • Cook. Stir. You want the berry juices to be released and to thicken. Looking for the consistency of ‘loose jam.’
  • Once the jam is thickened to desired consistency, transfer to a jar or bowl. Allow to cool and store in fridge for 1-2 weeks. Or serve warm right away!
I used 2 cups of frozen three berry mix (blueberry, raspberry and blackberry), and reduced the sugar to 1/3 cup. I mashed the blackberries with the back of my spoon.
After about 30 minutes of simmering I reached the consistency I wanted.

Enjoy!

Simplee

26 Days of Home · Gluten-Free Food · Gluten-Free Recipe

D is for…

D is for dates, not the type you take with a romantic partner, the kind you bake with!

The date is the fruit of the palm and there are over 3000 varieties, originating in the Middle East. It could very well be the world’s oldest cultivated fruit (having been grown at least 6000 years), in fact, the Middle East produces six million tons of dates per year.

The Medjool date is the premium date, a fat and maple-coloured date valued for taste and texture.

Whether you bake with dates in sweet or savory dishes, or just eat them as is, there are a variety of dishes in our home they can be found in: date squares, date and walnut focaccia (makes a terrific grilled cheese), sticky toffee pudding and date and walnut granola.

Gluten-Free Date and Walnut Granola Recipe

Gather:

  • 2 cups whole rolled certified gluten-free oats (if oats are not tolerated there are flakes of other gluten-free grains such as quinoa which can be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (total) raw seeds, pumpkin and sunflower
  • 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 2 – 3 tbsn maple syrup or honey (or combination of the two)
  • 2 tbsn extra virgin olive oil, or oil of choice
  • 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 300F.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, toss and mix, use your hands!
  • Spread on baking sheet in thin layer.
  • Bake 10 minutes, stir, and bake another 5 – 7 minutes (remember it will continue to toast when removed from oven). Allow to cool.
  • Yields about 3 cups, store in jar up to two weeks.

Simplee

26 Days of Home · Gluten-Free Food

C is for…

C is for clementine. C was going to be for clementine, more precisely clementine infused sugar cookies, but there were no clementines to be found this week. I was inspired by the first of the season clementines which were so juicy and sweet. I was considering cheating, and using mandarins instead, but then something else happened.

C is for coincidence! I was making supper, more precisely, I was cleaning up my supper prep dishes when it all occurred to me, my complete meal was built around the letter C. Subconsciously, I had planned a meal without even noticing the coincidence, but here on the stove was chilli simmering, while in the oven cornbread baked, the grated cheese was ready and on the counter were the cupcakes for dessert.

Wait it gets better, once I noticed the C-connection, my son and I started adding them up. The chilli was chicken chilli, usually I make vegetarian, but had a chicken burger leftover in the freezer. (What do you do with one burger?) In the chilli were carrots, chilli powder, cumin, cocoa. The cupcakes were chocolate! Adding in the cheese and cornbread, there were a total of nine C’s involved. (I had opted against having chips as a side – that would have been too weird!)

So there it was, the 10th C, COINCIDENCE. In another post it could have been called serendipity, but I have a theme to think of.

Our tasty meal turned into a segment on the letter C and coincidence. How cool or creepy is that?!?!

Simplee

26 Days of Home · Gluten-Free Food · Gluten-Free Recipe

B is for…

We eat a lot of cake. “Let them eat cake” really applies to us. In fact, since going gluten-free, because of a Celiac disease diagnosis, we eat more cake than ever before! Gluten-free does not mean going without! And what is cake without the creaminess on top, a cake’s crowning glory?

Most of the cake we eat is in the form of a cupcake, they cool so much faster and are quickly frosted using a piping bag. My go-to piping tips are all Wilton tips, 1M (deep star open), 33 (drop flower), 104 (ruffle or rose) and a writing tip (4). I find the 8 or 10 inch piping bags fit nicely in my hand.

Basic Buttercream Recipe

Gather:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups icing or confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 – 2 tbsn milk

Method:

  • Cream butter until smooth.
  • Add icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, adding milk as needed.
  • Beat until reaches desired consistency.

Notes and variations:

  • This recipe makes enough for 12 cupcakes, and it can easily be doubled, or halved.
  • Sift or at the very least, whisk the icing sugar prior to measuring and spoon it into measuring cup. Do not scoop, you’ll lose the air.
  • Speaking of air…if using a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment instead of the paddle for extra lightness. If using a hand mixer, give a good mix on high once everything is mixed in.
  • Butter makes the best buttercream. I always used to use a combination of margarine and vegetable shortening, it was whiter in colour and good for themed cakes. Now, I use margarine only rarely. Buttercream made with butter holds its shape better and I find it less likely to sweat.
  • Flavour: add pure vanilla extract (the imitation may contain gluten), or other pure extract of choice (almond is nice), about 1/2 tsp or to taste. Cocoa buttercream needs 2 – 3 tbsn of cocoa and additional milk. Lemon buttercream can be made by using lemon juice instead of milk, adding some zest gives extra flavour (this works for orange buttercream too, even clementine or mandarin).
  • If you want to colour the buttercream, use paste or powder colour, liquid food colouring will change the consistency of the buttercream.

Piping Tips:

 

Holding the piping bag in your hand (make a c-shape) makes quicker work of filling it. Close your hand around the spatula when pulling it back out of the bag gets every bit of buttercream into the bag.

 

 

 

A rosette is a swirl made from the centre out, moving in a counter-clockwise direction. Smaller rosettes look lovely covering an entire cake, or a few on top of a cupcake. I use a 33 Wilton tip and stagger the rosettes so they nest together. Any holes can be filled in with drop flowers, no need to change the tip.

 

 

Ruffles can go up the side of the cake, or along the side of the cake. They can go in a circle on top of a cupcake. For vertical ruffles (those on the left) hold the tip with the larger opening (it is tear-shaped) facing right and make a motion similar to a figure eight. Horizontal ruffles are similar to single rose petals, in this case, the larger opening of the tip is pointing downwards and make a slight up and down motion. Make sure to apply even pressure throughout.

A large tip makes quick work of cupcakes, but keep in mind, it will use more buttercream. This rosette was made using the 1M tip. Start in the centre and while applying even pressure, rotate to the outside in a counter-clockwise direction.

 

 

 

The same 1M tip will make a nice swirl too. This time, start on the outside and rotate inwards. Overlapping each turn slightly over the previous one to build height. Keep in mind this will use more buttercream. Don’t have a tip, just use the coupler for a smoother swirl.

It takes a bit of practice, but soon you’ll be whipping up batches of buttercream and the cakes which go with them!

Simplee

 

 

 

26 Days of Home · Gluten-Free Food · Gluten-Free Recipe

A is for…

“Apple of my eye,” “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” “bad apples,” “comparing apples to oranges,” “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” “as American as apple pie,” there is a body part named after the apple (Adam’s apple), the historical figures like Newton and gravity, William Tell with the apple and arrow, and Johnny Appleseed, it is also a nickname for a city (The Big Apple), another name for a tomato (love apple), and finally there is the computer company. It would appear there are almost as many connections with apples in language and history as there are varieties of apples.

There are over 7000 varieties of apples and our favourites are Empire, McIntosh, Cortland, Paula Red, Honeycrisp, Ginger Gold and Granny Smith (especially good in paninis).

Welcome to 26 Days of Home, a series based on the ABC’s of our home.

A is for applesauce!

Basic applesauce (recipe can be doubled):

Gather:

  • 3/4 lb of apples, about 4 small, use C grade to save costs, Empire, McIntosh and Royal Gala are good for applesauce
  • 2 tbsn water
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional, we like to add ours when serving)

Method:

  • Peel, core and slice the apples. I like to leave some peel for the nutritional benefits.
  • Combine with water in saucepan.
  • Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes – until tender.
  • Puree, or mash depending on preference.
  • Once cooled, place in jar and refrigerate. Yield: 1 cup
Peeled, leaving some peel for colour and nutrition.
Cored and sliced.
After 20 minutes, still some firm slices, so another few minutes needed.
Pureed. Nice pink hue.
Ready to eat and still warm. A sprinkle of cinnamon and raisins, for some, to top it off.

Simplee

 

Gluten-Free Food

Trick or Treat

No tricks here, just treats! I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween.

Boo!

Gluten free carrot cake made into a ghost cake. Three tiers (a small casserole dish, an aluminum pie plate and a ramekin) frosted using a ruffle piping tip, with chocolate eyes and mouth.

Boo hoo?!?! Yum…

Simplee