The Best of Gluten Free

Polenta – the GF all purpose dish March 3, 2009

So, in college I discovered couscous and immediately realized its potential. Quick and easy, limitless taste combinations. After a recent trip to Italy, I realized that polenta can fill that void in the gluten free diet!

In the US we are used to seeing polenta premade and in plactic tubes. Akin to slice and bake cookies, you simply need to cut the polenta roll into discs and brown them in a frying pan…decent, but polenta could be so much more…

In Italy (I was in Bergamo) I had some wonderful polenta, traditionally served on a wooden cutting board alongside a meat dish. I was also pleasantly suprised to see the locals eating it with their wonderful Italian cheeses at the end of the meal (instead of eating bread) And I though…what a great idea for celiacs!

Here is a recipe which I tried out the other day and found to be quick, easy, and delicious. Again, polenta is really versatile so feel free to change the ingredients to suit your tastes

recipe taken from http://foodtv.com

Polenta with caramelized mushrooms:

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

For the mushrooms:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound button or cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • Finely ground salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine

Directions

Cook the polenta: In a medium, heavy pot over high heat bring the cream, stock, and salt to a boil. Add the polenta gradually, whisking constantly. When the mixture thickens, switch to a wooden spoon and adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook, stirring often, until thick, smooth, and creamy, about 15 minutes. Add the Parmesan and stir. Keep the polenta warm over low heat, stirring occasionally. If the polenta gets dry as it sits, stir in about 1/4 cup of warm stock or cream.

Saute the mushrooms: In a medium skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, sprinkle in the mushrooms in a single layer. Don’t stir them! Let them sizzle until they have caramelized on the bottom, about 2 minutes. When the bottoms are caramelized, toss them once and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue to cook without stirring for about 5 minutes. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add the butter and cook until it begins to brown, then add the garlic. Continue to cook until the garlic begins to brown. Add the lemon juice and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the wine, and simmer until the mushrooms are glazed with the sauce. Then stir and remove the pan from the heat.

Mix the mushrooms into the polenta and garnish with grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Note: you can also spoon out the polenta into single bite portions and top with the mushroom mixture for an appetizer (but ne careful to serve immediately as it is best eaten hot)

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Buckwheat is gluten free… February 5, 2009

Buckwheat

Buckwheat

Ok, after posting my last review on GF cookies made with buckwheat, I had to do some research to figure out how something with the word “wheat” in it could be gluten free!

It appears the this is just a mis-nomer – buckwheat is not wheat at all but a fruit (same family as rhubarb)…therefore it’s 100% gluten free!

Here is an excerpt from: http://www.enabling.org/ia/celiac/buckwht.html

“Celiac confusion about buckwheat is fairly easy to understand.

First, the name. The word buckwheat is said to come from the Anglo-Saxon words boc (beech) and whoet (wheat) because the seed resembled a small beech nut and was similar in size to a wheat kernel.

Second, buckwheat is listed on a few US celiac foods to avoid lists, sometimes without explanation. However, buckwheat is approved for the GF diet in Canada, Europe and Australia. “

And of course, the mother of all online research, wikipedia:

Pure buckwheat (that has not been contaminated) is gluten and wheat free.

Most buckwheat baking, bread and pancake mixes contain wheat flour. Always check labels and if they are not clear, check with the manufacturer.”

I found more blogs which confirmed this as well, but no source that sounded really scientific and impressive…

Now that I know this; however, I am going to try out my luck with the French galette recipe’s (sometimes in French they are called black flour crepes, and are more suited for savory fillings) Stay tuned for the recipe once I iron it out :)

 

Aux Biscuits d’Antoine: Buckwheat, Sesame and Fig cookies (4/5)

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The fact that I ate the whole package in 2 days speaks to how yummy these cookies are. They are nice and crunchy with sesame seeds in them, and they go super well with a coffee or a tea.

If you do end up eating half a package in one sitting as I did, you will end up being pretty full as they are a bit dense. I think the better approach would be to eat them as snacks with coffee and ration them out better. Um, I’ll try that next time J

Note: I just looked up some information on the company which makes these, and they seem to be a nice boutique bakery specializing in gluten free. I’m guessing that their distribution is a bit limited, but I will try to find more of their product line to sample!

My ratings:

Taste: 4/5
Texture: 4/5
Price / Quality: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Do you agree with this review? Feel free to post a comment, and / or share your own ratings. I will adjust the overall rating accordingly!

 

Pural sunflower bread (3/5) February 4, 2009

pural-bread

So, finding a good gluten free bread has to be somewhat analagous to finding that one dive bar that actually plays good music and doesn’t make you fear for your personal safety? Ok, I think I went to far on that one, but you get the idea – there is a lot of junk out there and it’s not easy! BUT, once you figure it out you are content knowing you have at least one decent option available :)

Anyway, I digress…I tried this bread the other day and was very pleasantly suprised. It is just a bit dry, but the flavor is not too overpowering. Not sure you could make a sandwich with it, but as a side with your meal or with some spread on it, it could be just the thing….

My ratings:

Taste: 4/5
Texture: 3/5
Price: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

I was borderline on giving an overall ranking of 4, but I am convinced there has to be better products out there. I continue my search!

 

Do you agree with this review? Feel free to post a comment, and / or share your own ratings. I will adjust the overall rating accordingly!

 

GF Blinis with smoked salmon

blinis1

These are like thick little pancakes which you can top with anything you like to create a sophisticated appetizer or light snack. Think smoked salmon, even caviar and champage :)

  • 1 ¼ cup of rice flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon of gluten free baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup of rice milk
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil (can substitute with your preferred oil)
  • 1 large pinch of salt

Separate the egg into whites and yolk.

Mix the flour with the baking powder, egg yolk, and salt.

Start to mix in the milk slowly, working out the lumps in the batter. Your batter should be fairly thick (a bit thicker than pancake batter) Add more milk or less milk as necessary.

When all the milk is mixed in, let the batter sit for one hour.

Beat the egg white into soft peaks and fold this into the batter.

Heat up a thick frying pan with the oil.

With a small ladle, spoon out a small amount of batter onto the pan and brown the belini on both sides.

That’s it ! To serve, try with a bit of butter or cream cheese and smoked salmon, or olive tapenade…great for an amuse buche or appetizer!

 

(recipe translated from French from: http://delicesdhelene.canalblog.com)

 

Pural Parmesan crackers (3/5) February 3, 2009

pural-parmesan-crackerSo I went looking for a nice salty snack and found these crackers. The full name of the company which makes them is “Bio c’est la vie Pural” (the translation is a play on words, something like “Bio is living a pure life” …please note I am not a professional translator :)

Well, they are wafer thin, sort of what you would imagine eating if you just baked really thin circles or shredded parmesan cheese with just a bit more substance. They were nice and crispy, sort of like potato chips…but I guess I was hoping for more like a cracker as the name suggests!

They cost about 2.50 euros for the box of 100 g, but the things are so thin it seems like there are 20o of them in there!

My personal ratings:

Flavor: 3/5
Texture: 3/5
Price / Quality: 4/5
Overall: 3/5

Do you agree with this review? Feel free to post a comment, and / or share your own ratings. I will adjust the overall rating accordingly!

 

France Aglut Madelines (4/5)

france-aglut-madelinesOk, so you may have noticed by now that I really like madelines (see recipe posted last week!) I must say that I am already addicted to these babies, made by the company France Aglut.

They are a bit dense, but the flavor is fantastic. Perfect with a coffee in the morning to start your gluten free day :)

The only drawback I see is the price. I pay about 4 euros for each package of 6 cookies…not exactly a bargain. I guess that means they won’t become a staple, but rather an occasional indulgence!

My scoring:

Taste: 5/5
Texture: 4/5
Price / Quality: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Do you agree with this review? Feel free to post a comment, and / or share your own ratings. I will adjust the overall rating accordingly!