David Lebovitz, Deglutenized: Gluten-Free Chocolate Yeast Bread

Bread Series, #1:

Today’s scripture reading is apropos to my intent to write my first post, in a series, on IMG_3436baking gluten-free bread. These Biblical scriptures don’t resonate with everyone, for sure, but the significance of bread in relation to sustaining life, both physical and spiritual, is something to which most people can relate. Michael Pollan points out, in the Air episode of his documentary Cooked, that a person who has nothing else but flour and water can live for quite a while by combining them to make bread. In many cultures, people still make their bread from scratch every day, and bread is featured in every one of their meals. In these cultures, the art of bread-making is passed down through the generations: children part-take in the daily task of making bread for the family. These families enjoy delicious breads made with wholesome ingredients, as a major dietary stable

In the Western world, even though fewer people make their bread from scratch every day, and despite an increasing unpopularity of simple carbohydrates, bread is a major component of meals. Restaurants serve bread before meals. Biscuits, cornbread, and tortillas are major components of  every day meals, and yeast rolls are a regular feature of holiday and other special event meals. People literally break bread together at meals, reinforcing Michael Pollan’s point that bread is communal. As Pollan points out in his documentary, bread requires  a community effort, for it is a division of labor, from the planting and harvesting of wheat to the mixing of the dough and the baking of the bread. No doubt, from its central role in religious ceremonies to its presence on the dinner table, the production, baking, and eating of bread helps to form a community of people. A striking intangible beauty of multi-faceted human relationships arises from the formation of this bread-sharing community: a beauty that mostly goes unnoticed by people who are immersed in its culture. The existence of the community formed by the sharing of bread, however, becomes starkly visible to those people who suddenly find that the very strength of the bread, gluten, seriously threatens their health. Not only can they no longer enjoy the simple pleasure of bread, they find themselves marginalized from certain elements of society. Continue reading

Gluten-Free Pear Almond Tart (With Pumpkin Pie Spice)

pear tart 11Before everyone becomes burned out on everything pumpkin pie spice flavored and scented near the end of this year’s pumpkin pie spice season, I have to post one more pumpkin pie spice recipe! This recipe is very delicious, and makes an elegant dessert: perfect for holiday gatherings! Full disclosure: I took this recipe from Epicurious.com, modified it a bit, as well as deglutenized it. It’s turned out perfectly every time I’ve made it. My friends and family LOVE this dessert! Continue reading

Gluten-Free @ Austin City Limits 2015

In the past I’ve posted lists of gluten-free / gluten-friendly restaurants

Max's Wine Dive

Max’s Wine Dive

for the benefit of out of town guests attending Austin City Limits and SXSW, in Austin. Look here, here, and here for previous lists. To these lists I’m adding to more restaurants:: Max’s Wine Dive and Cenote.

If you want to cry for joy, for longing, for nostalgia, for something once lost but now regained, run as fast as you can to Max’s Wine Dive and order the gluten-free fried chicken. Continue reading

Dark Chocolate Chips + Matcha = Yummy Healthy Cookies

This past weekend, my son gifted me with some  Japanese matcha that he bought on a recent business trip to matcha cookiesJapan. I’ve long been interested in using matcha in smoothies, cooking, and baking; with this gift I have no more reason to put off experimenting with it.  Matcha, green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder, is a popular superfood. Although it has ceremonial, religious value in Japan, people in general  value it because it is an antioxidant that also contains vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium. Additionally, matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid that naturally occurs in tea plants. This amino acid has a dual calming and energizing effect on people who ingest the tea.

Matcha differs from conventional green tea in that farmers deprive the tea plants of light by covering them the last three weeks or so before the leaves are harvested. The light deprivation causes the plants to grow larger, thinner, more flavorful leaves. At harvest time, the leaves of the tea plants are hand-picked; only the youngest leaves are chosen to be dried and ground into matcha. The care taken to grow and harvest the best quality matcha is reflected in this product’s high price. Continue reading

Gluten-Free Sea Salt Caramel Candied Bacon Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake With Gingersnap Crust

I’ve read a couple of articles in food magazines and on food blogs recently, in which food writers bemoan the continuing pumpkin cheesecake 7love affair we’re having (at least in the USA) with salted caramel and bacon. A cursory look at restaurant menus and baking resources online show that these trends have yet to play out. Salted caramel and bacon are showing up as flavors in everything these days, for sure, and seem to have reached every last market possible. Betty Crocker offers a maple bacon-flavored cookie mix; Vosages offers a chocolate bacon bar; J & D Foods offers Baconnaise (yep – bacon flavored mayonnaise); McDonald’s offers a salted caramel sundae; and even Walmart offers a salted caramel gooey butter cake.  I’m pretty sure the reason for the persistent popularity of these flavors among all stratification of society (the fad started in France, with French chefs, after all)  is that anything tastes better if it has either salted caramel, bacon, or both somewhere in the ingredient list. Continue reading

Sweet and Savory Gluten-Free Apple-Sausage Cornbread Dressing

Before I married Phillip, my world contained one type of dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner: cornbread. My mother was born and cornbread dressing 4raised in Savannah, GA, and then she and my father (also a Southerner) ended up raising my sisters and me in Texas. In my experience, no other type of dressing than cornbread existed, and no other type of dressing need exist. No matter at whose house we ate Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, no matter who was in charge of preparing the dressing, we knew we would be served cornbread dressing for dinner. Why should the case be any different? What can be more delicious than cornbread dressing, all moist and flavorful, and covered with rich giblet gravy? My Thanksgiving dressing horizon broadened a bit when I ate dinner with Phillip’s family the first Thanksgiving after we began dating. I was shocked – SHOCKED – and dismayed to sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner at which my beloved, traditional cornbread dressing was missing, and in its place was oyster dressing! Even if I were a seafood lover (which I decidedly am not), I would have rebelled at the notion of anyone making oysters the prominent ingredient in dressing. In fact, the oysters were not the only problem with the dressing; it was made with white bread! Simply white bread! Clearly Phillip’s Yankee roots were shining through his family’s tradition of serving oyster dressing for Thanksgiving dinner.

mcintosh apples 2

Continue reading

SAVE OUR CHEESE!

Antonelli's Cheese Shop 1

This post is only tangentially related to gluten-free food, in that it concerns a food mostly gluten-free, but always 100% delicious and necessary to my gluten-free lifestyle. I really, truly love cheese. As I have mentioned in past blog posts, cheese is my favorite food. Cheesecake is my favorite dessert. Finding unique, artisanal cheese to enjoy is one of my favorite foodie past-times. Because of my love affair with cheese, I am sincerely saddened – though not altogether shocked – at the action the FDA is taking to supposedly make our food more safe, but in reality will make our food more uniform and dull. According to a recent post on the blog Cheese Underground, the FDA has moved to stop artisanal cheesemakers from aging their cheese on wooden boards. Cheesemakers note that the process of aging cheese on wooden boards allows for the unique character of cheeses created to be aged on wooden boards. This restriction by the FDA will negatively impact the cheese business in America, notes Wisconsin cheesemaker Chris Roelli: “The very pillar that we built our niche business on is the ability to age our cheese on wood planks, an art that has been practiced in Europe for thousands of years.” Roelli also states that American cheesemakers will now be “at a global disadvantage because the flavor produced by aging on wood can not be duplicated.” The entire article can be found here. I hope this news spreads quickly through the artisanal and specialty food industry, spawning such an uproar that the FDA will have to reverse its stance against the traditional method of aging cheese.

Finding Comfort in Gluten-Free Beer Macaroni and Cheese

What chefs can do when it comes to getting the word out is have people understand food differently. If food is well sourced and well Beer Mac and Cheese 7prepared, I don’t think the word healthy needs to be brought into it. It’s healthy because it’s wholesome. That’s what we should focus on. You can buy a box of low-fat macaroni and cheese made with powdered nonsense. I’m not worried if I’m using four different cheeses and it’s high in fat. It’s real food. That’s what’s more important. (Chef Tom Colicchio, qtd by Tara Parker Pope, “Even Top Chefs Have Picky Kids,” N Y Times, 9 February 2009)

MACROWS [1]. XX.IIII. XII.

Take and make a thynne foyle of dowh. and kerve it on peces, and cast hem on boillyng water & seeþ it wele. take chese and grate it and butter cast bynethen and above as losyns. and serue forth. (Samuel Pegge, The Forme of Cury: A Roll of Ancient English Cookery (1780) “Compiled about A D 1390, by the Master-Cooks of King Richard II,” Project Gutenberg generated HTML e-book)

The dog in the picture below is our 91 lb Great Pyrenees – Anatolian shepherd mix Cleo.

Cleo 2

Cleo is perhaps the world’s best watch dog. She’s so devotedly protective that (to the dismay of many) she sometimes tries to protect me even from people of whom I am rather fond, such as relatives and friends who visit our home. Perhaps because of this strong genetic protective characteristic common to her mix of breeds, Cleo dislikes loud noises and quick, sudden movements; she responds unhappily to the excited or emotional tones of voice and dramatic hand gestures that sometimes accompany human conversation and interactions. For this reason, Cleo vehemently dislikes being in the same room with us when we watch Longhorn football games on television. Our emotional responses, aroused by the twists and turns as the games progress, simply make her too nervous.

Luckily for Cleo, Phillip and I watched the recent Alamo Bowl pigskin contest between the Texas Longhorns and the Oregon Ducks at my mom’s house. Thus, our beloved, giant hyper-vigilant pet was spared the anguished cries of disbelief and the stream of blue language that erupted and over-flowed deep from the diaphragms of those who gathered to watch what they had hoped would be their beloved Longhorns’ triumphant and redeeming finish to a disappointing 2013 football season. Fan loyalty and collective team player and coaching talent aside, one would just naturally expect a team called the Longhorns to easily defeat a team called the Ducks; alas, the obvious escaped reality this past December 30th, as the Ducks annihilated the Longhorns in a 30 to 7 win in the 2014 Alamo Bowl competition.

Beer Mac and Cheese 3At disheartening moments such as this, people turn to comfort food for real solace, indeed. Delicious football-watching type food was plentiful in my mom’s living room that fateful evening on which once again, Texans lost an epic battle at a location in San Antonio named the Alamo. Food and beer flowed freely that evening, and even the horrendous Longhorn defeat failed to curb appetites (though admittedly the drinking surpassed the eating in quantity the latter part of the game). My contribution to the football-watching fare was one of my own favorite comfort foods: gluten-free beer macaroni and cheese. Although I am not fond of beer as a beverage, and therefore never drink it, I absolutely love and enjoy beer-flavored foods (such as beer mac and cheese, beer bread, beer-cheese soup, etc). Continue reading

Autumn’s Bounty: Thanksgiving and Variations of Gluten-Free Pecan Pies

I just updated this post from two years ago, to reflect the improvements I’ve made in making gluten-free pie crust dough. I demonstrated the way to make this pastry leaf decorated chocolate coffee liqueur pecan pie in the gluten-free pastry class I taught this past week, through Kitchen Underground. The ladies who attended the class were delightful! I enjoyed visiting with them while we discussed various gluten-free flours, methods for mixing pastry dough, and other such topics. I also prepared a pumpkin pie spice almond pear tart for the class; I will post the recipe for that delicious seasonal pastry soon.

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,leaf pecan pie final
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells. . . .
(John Keats, from “To Autumn”)

’Neath the autumn rays,
Now the springtide sowing,
All its fruit displays;
Every hill rejoices,
Fields with gladness ring,
Lifting up their voices,
Now the valleys sing,
Lifting up their voices,
Now the valleys sing.
In the dark earth sleeping,
Long the seed hath lain;
Joyful now the reaping,
Fair the garnered grain.
As the gold we gather
Of Thine harvest gift,
Now to Thee, our Father,
Thankful hearts we lift;
Now to Thee, our Father,
Thankful hearts we lift.
(Isabella Postgate, from the hymn “Fields of Gold are Glowing”)

Every year as the fall holiday season approaches, those three months of joy and celebration that begin with Halloween and end with New Year’s Day, people seem to follow an unspoken custom to observe to one another that the holidays surely did arrive quickly. We hear this every year, despite the fact that the holidays arrive the same time every year, with the same space of minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months between the holiday season’s end one year and its beginning the next. Like Keat’s bees, we think the days of summer will never end. Somehow, though, the time for holiday preparations does seem to arrive unexpectedly quickly every year. The first sign of Halloween that appears in stores seem to catch people off-guard, as if we didn’t know that somehow this year Halloween would be as early as October, or Christmas as early as December! I find myself as much surprised as the next person when I realize mid-autumn that I have only a limited amount of time to plan a Thanksgiving feast, bake Christmas goodies as presents for friends and acquaintances, and prepare a sumptuous Christmas repast. This year was no different. Surprised by the rapid approach of such a joyous season, I found too little time to record my gluten-free Thanksgiving dishes by posting them online; thus, I am only now, on December 28th, the fourth day of Christmas (the Feast of the Holy Innocents and Martyrs), sitting down to write about gluten-free pecan pies I make for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Continue reading

Gluten-Free Sweet Tea Pie: A New Thanksgiving Tradition

Earlier this week, the first week of December, we had temperatures in the upper eighties. Temperatures this high around Thanksgiving sweet tea pie 3and Christmas are not that unusual in South Texas; in fact, one reason so many few people seem to be choosing to run the half, rather than the full, San Antonio Rock and Roll Half Marathon / Marathon seems to be the consistently high temperature we have on race day every year (next year the race has been moved from November to December, but we consistently have high temperatures throughout December, too, so the move may not do much to improve race conditions). At any rate, considering the number of extremely warm and down-right Hellishly hot days we experience all year long, we have a legitimate reason to down gallons of sweet iced tea all year long. Sweet tea goes down so smoothly; it’s so cold and tastes so clean and sweet – so pure. As a beverage, it complements just about any food at any meal, served at any time of day. It can even complement dessert, as a part of the dessert, as served in the form of sweet tea pie at Lucy’s Fried Chicken in Austin.

I’ve never eaten at Lucy’s Fried Chicken. I’m sure such sides as the collard greens, black-eyed peas, and the grilled corn on the cob may be gluten-free, and probably some of the oyster dishes are too. I just can’t see myself sitting at a table at Lucy’s Fried Chicken, watching my dining companions enjoy such delicious but glutinous fare as deep fried deviled eggs, fried chicken spaghetti, or a fried chicken salad sandwich. Sometimes, I confess, I lean a little toward bitterness when I have to manipulate and twist menu items in a restaurant to form a gluten-free meal for myself while Phillip and others order with ease – totally without angst – whatever they want from the menu. As I watch others at the table bite into juicy, plump pieces of fried whatever (because just about anything fried is delectable in taste and texture!), I take on the characteristic of Aesop’s fox who, finding the grapes on the tree beyond his reach, assured himself that the grapes were probably sour, anyway. But I know I just lie to myself at those times. Sigh. Continue reading