Friday, March 26, 2010

Gluten-Free Products For Passover 2010 - Part II - Baked Goods

This is a continuation of Gluten-Free Products for Passover: Part 1.

Ah yes, there's more. Much more. Here are but a few of the other gluten-free Passover items I bought today:

Paskesz's Pesach Crumbs are "bread" crumbs made of nothing but potato starch, eggs and shortening. You can use them to bread chicken cutlets for baking or frying, which is what I plan to do with them. I'm sure they'd be great on fish, or as a filler for meatballs, too.

Sandwich cookies filled with apricot jam... Unfortunately I didn't realize they were sugar-free until I got them home. Oh, well! Hopefully they'll still be good. Oberlanders makes gluten-free ladyfingers I've enjoyed in the past.

An apricot roll cake from Mendy's bakery. I've had something similar before and it was quite tasty, and much more moist than most Pesach baked goods, thanks to the filling...

Zemer's finger cookies with raspberry jam inside, dipped in chocolate. I grew up eating (non-Pesach) cookies like this so they make me happy.

Schick's makes some of the best Pesach baked goods. They use not just potato starch but also almond meal and almond paste in some of their items. These cookies are an assortment, and I've had them before and enjoyed every bite. I especially like the jam-filled sandwich cookies.

And no, I won't be eating these baked goods all myself (though I could). Several are to take to our seder hosts, for unlike last year we're not hosting our own seders this year... Although I love cooking for other people, various stresses right now make the thought of having seders at other peoples' houses a huge relief indeed.

Other items I bought included cake mixes (Leiber's is good, but I wasn't impressed by the Haddar brand), hot dogs, and my childhood favorite... raspberry jelly rings!

Keep a few things in mind when you buy gluten-free Passover goods. First of all, non-gebrokts does mean no gluten or grain ingredients, but it does not mean that there was no cross-contamination or that the equipment was cleaned thoroughly. So it's best to check with each company unless there is a clear statement on the packaging. Also, be careful because many of the products I listed in my posts can also be found in non-gluten-free versions containing matzo meal (blintzes, for example). More about non-gebrokts and why Passover is a "gluten-free goldmine" can be found in a guest post from a few years ago here, which is still quite relevant.

See more gluten-free Passover recipes and product information here.

Chag sameach!

Gluten-Free Products For Passover 2010 - Part I - Including Gluten-Free Matzo & More

[This is part one of a two-part series. See Part II here.]

I am in that part of the semester where midterms commingle with final projects and papers until the whole last month of school feels like one long midterm. In the midst of it all comes Pesach (Passover)! And as many of you have noticed, and e-mailed me about, I haven't posted new Pesach recipes or matzo information yet this year. Some Jews finished their Passover meal planning a month or more ago (if you fall into this category, I envy your motivation & organization) and have already done all their shopping. Some Jews will be at the store Monday afternoon buying their groceries (I'm downright motivated compared to you all, as I got my shopping done today!. And for the non-Jews? Well, you lucky ducks have the whole 8 days and beyond as an opportunity to buy lots of gluten-free products not available the rest of the year, but without the stress of having to plan seders!

This year I'll be using certified gluten-free matzo from Lakewood Matzo Bakery, as I have blogged about in years past. The owner is kind enough to send me samples each year to review on this blog, and I like supporting a business that's in my region. The exciting thing is this year they have machine-made shmura matzo in addition to the handmade round shmura matzo. Why is this exciting? Well, I'm not sure yet but I think it may be a bit thinner in addition to looking more like the matzo I grew up with. Here are some pictures of the boxes:

I like Lakewood's matzo more than the other brand available (see brand and ordering info here) and it's cheaper, but because I find that gluten-free oat matzo tastes pretty close to cardboard, I only eat as much as is halachically required (required according to Jewish law)... the rest of the matzo I turn into tasty matzo pizza in the oven.

As for other gluten-free Pesach goods, most years I avoid them because they tend to be loaded with trans fats, preservatives, artificial flavors, etc. But this year I am on a very restrictive diet - for medical reasons I must avoid not just gluten but any high-fiber foods. For this reason I have a heter (permission) to eat kitniyos. I don't normally get permission to eat kitniyos because being gluten-free isn't all that restrictive on Passover... but trying to avoid most vegetables and fruits certainly is! In addition, the highly processed, potato-starch- or tapioca-starch-based Passover products are actually great for me this year because they're mostly very low-fiber. So I spent a lot of money on foods I would normally never eat. Here is a sampling of what I found at my local ShopRite (Paramus, NJ), Fairway (also Paramus, NJ) and Glatt Express (Teaneck, NJ.) Keep in mind a lot of these foods will be available until the 8-day festival of Passover is over, and some stores will even put them on sale afterwards.

One of the more exciting finds:

That's right, that's gluten-free chow mein noodles... Those thick, crispy, fried noodles that are served as an appetizer at Chinese restaurants! They aren't quite as tasty as the gluten-y kind, but they're still nice and crispy, salty and greasy... and taste great dipped in duck sauce. Apparently I liked them enough that I couldn't wait until I took a photo to open them. This year is the first year they're being sold, and they're being manufactured by several brands including Paskesz and Leiber's.

That's Pao de Quiejo (Brazilian tapioca-cheese bread), now kosher for Passover! There's no consumer brand of kosher l'pesach tapioca starch but there is a commercial version that more and more manufacturers are using, which is opening doors to awesome products like this one, which allow us to eat cheesy bread-y rolls during the holiday. They are gluten-free and I bought a few packages so I can enjoy them during the year.

Hoo Lachmu flats are expensive, and not the most tastiest things ever - They taste pretty potato-y to me. They are chewy, and not particularly bready. But they serve as a flatbread surface that you can top with tuna salad, or butter and jelly, or even turn into french toast (supposedly). So I bought a box.

Kosher gluten-free chicken nuggets? Yes please! Were they madly expensive? Yes. Do I think they'll be worth it? Absolutely. I get to relive my memories of my treyf (non-kosher) and pre-gluten-sensitivity days when chicken nuggets at Burger King were one of my favorite treats. I doubt they'll be as good, but with enough BBQ sauce they can't be too terrible.

Clockwise from upper left, that's another brand of Chow Mein noodles, Gefen's Cinnamon Cookies (which I really like, especially dipped in milk), two types of blintzes (make sure you look for ones that say "non-gebrokts" as that means they don't contain matzo meal), and three types of Osem cakes that are shelf-stable and will stay good for a long time in the cupboard. Blintzes are one of my favorite things to stock up on at Pesach because they're so good cooked in butter on the stovetop. I prefer the cheese ones, which I eat with fresh strawberries or a spoonful of good jam.

Gosh, there are more products and photos than I can fit in one post. Click here for Part II!

See more gluten-free Passover recipes and product information here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A New Gluten-Free Hamantaschen Recipe for Purim 2010! (Plus bonus cookies)

Purim just isn't complete without the delicious triangular purim cookies we call hamantaschen. I love my original gluten-free hamantaschen recipe, which is made with agave nectar instead of refined sugar, but it's a little too cakey for some people. Today I tried my hand at revising the recipe to make the cookie a bit more crisp, more like a sugar cookie in its consistency. Did it work? Well, these are certainly more crisp than the original recipe. They're still more cakey than the crisp style some people prefer, so I'll try again next year... but I think they're tasty and I hope you do, too. I used apricot jam in some and lekvar (a/k/a prune butter or prune pastry filling) in others. They use regular sugar. They're also nut-free, and if you want to make them dairy-free I am guessing they'd be quite fine with margarine instead of butter. One perk of this recipe is that the dough is very, very easy to handle. When I had a little dough left over, I twisted it up into various shapes which you can see in the photo below the recipe.

Chag sameach! Happy purim!




[Gluten-Free / Nut-Free / Soy-Free ]

1 stick (8 tbsp) salted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 heaping tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup white rice flour (finely milled)
1/4 cup tapioca starch
3/4 cup potato starch
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 additional egg, beaten well and set aside

With an electric hand mixer, or in the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter with the sugar.
Add the unbeaten egg, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and continue combining.

In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry mixture into the liquid mixture. Mix until combined into a cohesive ball of dough. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Flour a counter or other surface thoroughly. Remove dough from refrigerator and immediately roll into a ball and roll the ball in flour before placing it on the floured counter. Roll out until 1/4" to 1/8" thickness.

Using a juice glass or biscuit cutter, cut into 3-4" circles. Immediately move dough circles to parchment-lined cookie sheets. Use a pastry scraper to gently transfer the disks of dough. Place approximately 1 teaspoon of filling (apricot preserves, lekvar, poppyseed filling, raspberry jam, etc) in the center of each circle.

Using a pastry brush, apply well-beaten egg to the perimeter of each dough circle and immediately fold 3 sides of circle together so that the cookie becomes a triangle, and pinch corners to seal. Seal completely and firmly, using beaten egg so they do not come apart in baking. The final cookie should look like a triangle with the filling showing through only at the center. Use the remaining beaten egg to lightly brush the top of each pastry.

Bake at 350 F for 22-28 minutes or until golden on top with some slightly browned areas (the more browned, the crisper the cookie - but be careful not to burn!) Allow to cool slightly before serving or transferring to cooling rack.

Makes approximately 24-28 cookies.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mushroom & Leek Risotto

I am in love with this new recipe I made on Friday night by combining and adapting two different recipes. It's terrific! So filling, too.

Six things that surprised me about this risotto:

1) It tastes like it was made with chicken stock, even though it's totally vegetarian
2) It tastes like it's made with heavy cream, even though there's no milk in it at all (the only dairy is cheese, and that's optional). It really tastes like there's massive amounts of milk and cheese, but there's not.
3) It is really good cold! I ate it for breakfast this morning and it was wonderful.
4) I realized while cooking and eating it that it could easily be made without the cheese and would be almost as good, so with a few changes (noted in the ingredient list) it could be a great dish for vegans, dairy-allergic folks and anyone who needs a pareve dish.
5) It doesn't need to be a side dish - It makes a great main dish, too! We had it as the main part of our meal.
6) Making the rice itself was quick. It took no more than 20 or 25 minutes. I had imagined it would take forever, but it didn't.

Some tips: I call for you to saute the mushrooms and leeks in a separate pan but if you want you can saute them in the pot you'll be making the risotto in, and just remove them and set them aside in a bowl while you saute the onion and make the rice. This will save you a dirty pot, but it'll create a dirty bowl... Your choice!

Use the most flavorful vegetable stock you can get your hands on. I used Imagine Foods Vegetable Cooking Stock because it's richer than the regular boxed vegetable stock. You could also use homemade vegetable stock (if you don't have your own recipe, try my VictoriousVegetable Stock). For white wine, I used Kedem White Cooking Wine since it's so much cheaper than buying a bottle of real white wine. But skip that shaker of dried-up parmesan cheese! Stick to the real shredded stuff, or just do without.


[Gluten-Free / Vegetarian / Vegan & Dairy-Free Option ]

4 Tbsp butter or dairy-free margarine
1 large or 2 small leeks, sliced (only white & light green sections)
1 lbs crimini ("baby bella") mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, diced finely
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups rich vegetable stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
Optional: 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan (plus additional to garnish)

In a saute pan, melt butter (or margarine if you want it to be dairy-free) over medium heat. Add leeks, and saute until they begin to become tender. Add mushrooms. Continue to sautee until both mushrooms and leeks are tender and leeks begin to brown just slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small pot or saucepan, combine vegetable stock, water and white wine and cook until they simmer. Cover and keep over low heat so the mixture stays hot.

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add salt and fresh ground black pepper. Stir in the arborio rice and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to make sure the rice becomes coated in the oil. Stir in the rice and cook 1 minute, coating rice with the oil.

Add one cup of the hot stock-wine-water mixture and allow to simmer until the liquid is mostly absorbed (there will still be some visible but when you stir it you should see that it's very thick and most has been absorbed by the rice). Stir very frequently to avoid sticking.

Add the rest of the liquid, a cup at a time, waiting each time until the liquid is absorbed by the rice.

Taste regularly to gauge doneness, as the risotto should have a creamy consistency but each grain of rice should remain a bit chewy at the center. The rice grains should not themselves be mushy. If the last of the liquid's been absorbed and the rice is still undercooked you may add additional hot water, stock or wine. Stir in the cheese and the mushroom-leek mixture, and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, garnished with additional shredded cheese if desired.