29 December 2010

Gluten free Gnocchi


Last year this time, we tried (in vain, with a gooey icky mess) to make gluten free gnocchi.

It was bad enough that we didn’t try again until two days ago – oh, we made frozen GF gnocchi, but at $6 – $8 for a bag that serves us four, it can get a bit spendy.

So I went looking, again, for another recipe. I found this recipe, and decided to give the variation of cooking method a shot.

Note: Cup Cake Kitteh’s recipe uses metric weights, not cups or ounces. If you have a scale that can convert, you may want to use it.

We have such a scale, but I decided to wing it and go by the feeling of the dough. When making gnocchi, the resulting dough should not be too sticky – you should add the flour (or flours, if mixing your flours) until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands.

Yes, hands – you do not want to beat the dough, nor should you over-knead it. If you over do it with the mixing, the gnocchi will be tough when cooked.

This recipe also ends by cooking the gnocchi in a fry pan, instead of boiling. We tried boiling some of them, and they were dense and goopy sticky – not yummy. So either we’re doing something wrong when cooking, adding the wrong ingredients to the dough, or gnocchi is just supposed to be goopy sticky (tho I do not remember it that way pre-gluten free days).

Pan-fried gnocchi are YUM.

Gluten Free Gnocchi

  • 2 Lbs russet potatoes
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 2-3 Tbs chickpea flour
  • 2-3 Tbs potato starch
  • 1/2 Tsp xanthan gum
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Puncture each potato with a fork, and bake the potatoes until soft.
  2. Remove the potatoes from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, cut in half, scoop out the flesh, and then use a potato ricer to finely grate the potatoes.
    • This part is very important – the potatoes must be fluffy and lump-free – the ricer does the job perfectly.
  3. Chill the resultant riced potatoes until they are cold (about 40 minutes or so).
  4. Put the riced potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and add the xanthan gum and eggs.
  5. Start the addition of the flours/starches by adding 2 Tbs of each (the chickpea flour and the potato starch). Mix by hand, using your fingers to gently mix the ingredients.
    • If the dough is still sticky, add a bit more starch and flour until it’s just barely not sticky.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
  7. Lay out a piece of parchment or wax paper, large enough to hold all the gnocchi.
  8. Using your hands, pull off enough dough to make a ball about 3/4 inch in size (roll the dough in your hands).
    • This is a messy step, and a bit time consuming. Elicit some help – great use for idle children’s hands…. ;)Gnocchi_Pre_cook
  9. Roll the tines of a dinner fork over each ball, slightly flattening it and causing ridges.
  10. In a pan, heat your oil of choice (as you can see in the picture above, we used pancetta fat – YUM).
  11. Cook the gnocchi until golden brown on both sides. Serve with your choice of sauce and enjoy!

24 December 2010

Lace cookies

Remember those lacey cookies with the chocolate bottoms, that were an almost essential part of the holidays?

We tried making some today. With varying degrees of success.

We started with this recipe, which has a beautiful yummy finished product picture – and modified it ever so slightly to remove the ginger, and add some orange zest.

For some reason, we couldn’t quite get the cookies to turn out the way they were in the picture. They kept rising and getting puffy, like you would expect a normal cookie to do.

So -  we had to modify the steps to get to the cookies to turn out – but once they did, yum, yum, yum!

So, our current adaptation of the lace cookie recipe:

  • 5 1/2 Tbs sorghum flour
  • 3 Tbs potato starch
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup GF rolled oats
  • 1/2 Cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 Tsp fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 Tsp xanthan gum
  • 6 Tbs butter, melted
  • 2 Tbs light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbs half n half or cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

  1. Using a food processor, blend all ingredients together until evenly distributed.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with either parchment paper or a silpat (we used a silpat).
  3. Drop by at most a tablespoon onto the sheet, and then, using the back of the spoon (or your oiled hands – sticky dough), spread them out to the desired thickness.
    • If you want only a cookie sized portion, use a teaspoon size, but still spread the dough out.
  4. Put no more than 4 on the sheet at a time, as you will need work quickly when they come out of the oven (if you want to shape them).
  5. Bake approx. 8 minutes, or until the bubbling of the cookie stops (you’ll have to watch). They should be golden brown at this point.
  6. Remove from the oven and, if shaping, count to 3 before using a large spatula to remove from the sheet and place over the object that is your form.
    • You should cover your form in parchment or plastic wrap, or the cookie might stick.
  7. Cool cookies on the forms until they feel hardened. Cool the formed cookies and the non formed cookies completely before storing.


Flours, flours and more flours

A friend just asked us what we use for flours. Simple question - but the answer is kind of complex.

The flour we use is dependent on the item we're making. And - we honestly don't try to bake sandwich bread any more. Udi's bread has become readily available almost everywhere around here, and to be honest, having time to bake a loaf of bread twice a week when we're busy as heck is impossible.

Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour: We always keep this around – it’s the go to flour for us. This flour can be used to substitute for any gluten-containing flour. It’s made from a bunch of different GF flours, so be sure to read the ingredients if you have other food allergies/sensitivities.

Sorghum flour: (Link is to the Bob’s Red Mill page for this). We use this flour in sweet breads/quick breads. It’s a relatively light tasting flour.

Almond Flour: Ground up blanched almonds. That’s all it is. Very very yummy for cookies. Favorite use is for Florentines, a modification of a recipe from 1000 Gluten Free Recipes, and for Brian’s adapted banana bread.

Corn Starch: Yep – the same stuff you use to thicken gravy. Can be found just about anywhere, but you should try to find some that is specifically labeled gluten-free, as there can be cross contamination.

Potato Starch: Another staple, can sometimes be swapped with corn starch. Not to be confused with potato flour, tho.

Xanthan Gum: used to provide a bit of the adhesive/stretchy quality missing from gluten-free foods. More information than you ever wanted to know is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanthan_gum. Fair warning – if knowing that honey is produced from bee vomit makes ya queasy, do not read that link. Just be happy for the science that figured out its uses…

Guar Gum: also used to provide a bit of the adhesive/stretchy quality for GF foods. More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guar_gum.

While these are not the only flours we use or have in the house, they are by far the most frequently used.

Next up: Lace cookies….

Lentil flour crackers



Holiday time - yummy decadent treats like olives with prosciutto, marinated fresh mozzarella, and brie baked with cranberry sauce.

Except - baked brie really needs good crackers. The kind we've not been able to find. Oh, you can get crunchy savory GF crackers, but they tend to be salty, with GF soy as an ingredient. And Schar makes a great snack cracker, but they are spendy, and to obtain, require us to drive about 45 minutes to a GF grocer.

So - we went recipe surfing.

We found this Gluten-Free Chickpea Cracker recipe and it sounded yummy - except we didn't have any chickpea flour, or dried chickpeas. But - we did have dried orange lentils...

Hence - a baking experiment!

I took about a cup of the dried orange lentils and ran them thru the Breville Ikon blender we have, for about 3 minutes, and had ~ 1 cup of lentil 'flour' - ground up lentils to use in recipes.

So the modifications we used:

  1. Substituted lentil flour for the chickpea flour
  2. We didn't have any nutritional yeast, so we just omitted it
  3. Added 1/2 teaspoon of dried sage, and 1/4 teaspoon of dried mustard, to help balance the stronger flavor of the lentils
  4. We also just did a basic square cut on these - no fancy cookie cutter action here.

Some notes: