Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gluten-Free Adventures: Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Okay, remember how I feel about chocolate chip cookies? Yeah, I like 'em. A lot. So at the top of my gluten-free baking list was making a delicious chocolate chip cookie that could "pass" as the real thing. I have done a lot of experimenting, let me tell you. The things I do in the name of research! If you do a search you'll find a ton of recipes, all insisting that they're the best in the world, etc. I had to analyze and test them all; that's just the way I am. A lot of misleading claims of excellence are out there, so you really have to be careful.
But lucky you: you have me! And you can trust me! And let me tell you: these are really, truly the best! Okay, they're the best so far. And only if you like the kind of chocolate chip cookie that I like -- crispy, puffy, slightly soft inside, just the right amount of crumble, and packed with chips and nuts. 
Still with me? Alrighty then. Here it is, the one you've been waiting for! Well, the one I've been waiting for. My recipe:

Sheri's Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup raw sugar (you can add more if you like it sweeter)
1 egg
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/8 cup sorghum flour
1/8 cup millet flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 T buckwheat flour (this gives a nice brownish color to the dough)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (I'm still trying to sub out this binding ingredient with something else; stay tuned)
1/4 tsp salt
dark chocolate chips
chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375F.
In a medium bowl, combine the brown rice flour, almond flour, sorghum flour, millet flour, potato starch, buckwheat flour, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Mix.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars. Stir in the egg and mix. Add the dry ingredients a fourth at a time and mix well. Add in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Drop rounded teaspoons of cookie dough onto a baking sheet approx. 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
Makes about 20 smallish cookies. Double recipe for bigger batch.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gluten-Free Adventures: Banana Bread

Of all the gluten-free baking I've done within the past few months, I'd say the lemon blueberry loaf I posted about here is still my greatest success. That is, until now! This banana bread gives that one a run for the money. It's moist, dense, flavorful, holds together nicely and has a lovely brown color. It's delicious! And what's even better, this one calls for no xanthan gum at all. There may or may not be anything wrong with xanthan gum, which is a bacterially-derived polysaccaride whose purpose in gluten-free baking is to act as a binder, making the dough stickier and adding stretchiness and elasticity. Its allergenic potential is unknown (and some GF people are sensitive to it), but without it, some baked goods turn out crumbly and short. There are other ways to achieve the "glutenous" quality, but sometimes you can just simply omit it, with no problematic effects. This recipe is a great example. Maybe it's due to the naturally moist bananas, but this bread turned out just like regular banana bread. I used the recipe in the book "Gluten-Free Made Simple" by Dahlstrom, Burnley and Dahlstrom, and highly recommend it.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread
(from "Gluten-Free Made Simple" by Dahlstrom, Burnley and Dahlstrom)

3 ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
3 T buttermilk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups GF flour (since I know what flours I prefer, I used a mix of brown rice, white rice, sorghum and millet)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Mash bananas.
In a large bowl mix sugar and butter until creamy. Add eggs and bananas.
In a small bowl mix buttermilk, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add to butter mixture and mix well.
Add GF flours to the butter mixture and mix well.
Pour into pan.
Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last-Day-Of-School Salmon Bento

Wow, it's been so long since my last bento post! Seems like we've been on summer vacation forever! Luckily, it's only the 2nd day of actual summer so far, and I for one am really looking forward to the next 2 months of fun and freedom! We've been out of school since the first of the month, so there haven't been any new bento since then. I'm showing you the last few bento I made during the last week of school, when it was just too busy to post and blog. They should look very familiar, and I've come to rely on salmon/asparagus/potatoes as one of my standard fall-back bento. Happily, the kids love salmon, which I prepare in a few different ways to change it up (butteryaki, furikake, cajun, miso, dijon). Misterman's version comes in the EcoLunchbox while TinySprite's is packed in the cute 4-sectioned plasticware box. There's also yogurt with fruity toppings in there too.
The kids have just now started their summer sessions, so I'm back to packing bento again. But since I've gotten accustomed to not-blogging (and feeling like enjoying a relaxing summer), I may not post each one. Instead, I'm thinking of showing you the other things I'm cooking up in the kitchen these days. I've been baking and making ice cream and have all kinds of good things planned this summer...

Hope you all are enjoying the best season of the year!