From the Kitchen – my first venture into gluten free baking

I made my first venture into gluten-free baking this weekend. I find the whole gluten-free craze to be largely nonsense, especially when people would ask us in the meat department if a steak was “gluten-free”.  However, a friend has muscular dystrophy and prefers to avoid gluten. I had been curious on how the flours worked so this gave me a chance to do some experimenting.

I made my meat pies with a gluten free flour mix from King Arthur and modified their recipe (which also calls for xanthan gum and their clear gel product) for their pie crust by leaving out 1 tablespoon of sugar and adding a cup of shredded cheddar cheese to it. It worked better than I thought it would, with the only minor problem being a little cracking of the dough as I folded it over the meat filling. I may add a bit of water next time I make these to compensate for that. I did use my tortilla press on the flour and it worked just as well as it did with the regular dough.

I baked the pies for about 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven, 10 minutes uncovered and 15 minutes with a sheet of aluminum foil over them to prevent over browning. Some of the gravy did leak out of them but they were very good, with a nice flake to the crust. I had also made some pies with the regular crust I use and everyone said that the gluten free ones were just about as good.

I also made a gluten free version of our chocolate chip toffee cookies,  and used a recipe from King Arthur. These did have a different texture, more like a shortbread, but they tasted the same. As usual, I substituted toffee chips for half of the chocolate chips.   The gluten free cookies do not flatten and spread out like the regular type, so I recommend flattening the balls of cookie dough so they cook faster and more evenly.

I still prefer the regular flour versions but if you can’t eat gluten, or don’t want to, these are a very good substitute.

Eat well!

From the Kitchen – Cookies!

From top clockwise: Mamouls, Gobs, Rogella, Nutless Wonders
From top clockwise: Mamouls, Gobs, Rogella, Nutless Wonders

I find baking very therapeutic when I need to take a break and calm myself again.  Since one of our cats died this week, and work has been nuts, I needed a couple of days of just puttering around the kitchen.

As an aside, Thanksgiving (the US holiday) is a nice idea in theory.  In practice, it feels like everyone is desperate for a Norman Rockwell ideal, they think that turkeys come in perfect sizes and who think that their poor planning is someone else’s emergency.  Of course, the reality is that most people are decent, and I only remember the twits.

This weekend I made the following cookies:




Nutless Wonders

I’ve posted about gobs before here. They look a lot like a “whoopee pie” but are so much better.

Mamouls (or ma’amouls)  are a filled cookie from the east end of the Mediterranean.  The cookie is made with coarsely ground semolina, the same wheat that most pasta is made from. Recipe I used is here (I didn’t have orange flower water so I didn’t use it).  Often these are made in special press molds, but I just made them as a disk of dough held in my hand and closed over the filling. The filling was a mix of dates, sugar and rose water blitzed in a food processor until mostly smooth (take the seeds out of the dates).  In the US, Cream of Wheat cereal (a to-be cooked cereal like oatmeal) is the best source for semolina/farina.  I love these with tea.

Rogella are a recipe I found in a Jewish cookbook lent to me by a former boss of mine. It was one of those “by the congregation of” cheap plastic comb bound books but I didn’t copy the cover of it and have no more info about it, although it may have come from somewhere in Berks County, PA.  Now, Google thinks I mean “rugelach” when I do a search on “rogella” and I think it’s right.  The recipe gives you a rolled up cookie just like a rugelach.  I’ve been trying to make ones like Green’s from Baltimore but had no luck. What I made had the consistency of PopTart crust (I do love PopTarts).  These are much closer to the texture of those from Green’s, and are like little bites of cinnamon roll.

The recipe for these:


3 cups all purpose flour

½ pound cold butter

3 egg yolks

1 cup heavy cream (35% butterfat)

¼ cup whole milk

1 teaspoon yeast

1 cup finely chopped nuts

1 cup brown sugar

3 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In food processor, cut butter into flour until it looks like coarse meal.  You can do this with a pastry blender but it’s much much quicker in the processor.  Add yeast, yolks, cream and milk and pulse until it becomes a ball of dough.  Divide dough into six portions, wrap in waxed paper or saran wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or more.

Combine nuts (I used almonds but you can use whatever you’d like), cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle a sixth on a sheet of waxed paper and place a portion of dough on top of the mix. Roll this into a circle, approximately 1/8 inch thick. Flip dough over and coat other side. Cut circle into twelve slices and roll each slice from wide end to narrow end.  This will look much like a tiny croissant.

Freeze these on a cookie sheet for at least an hour.  When frozen, either bake or store in plastic freezer bags. When needed, place on greased cookie sheet (or a sheet of parchment paper on the pan).  Bake, frozen, at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.  They form a small pool of caramel around each cookie so space them at least two inches apart.  You can break this off or let it stay.

Nutless wonders are pecan tassies, pecan pie tartlets, without the pecans.  The silliness of the name might not quite translate if you aren’t familiar with colloquial American as a language. Nutless wonder is usually a derogatory term for someone who is a coward (having no testicles/cojones/nuts) and a twit. My husband doesn’t like nuts, but finds the goo in the tassies wonderful, so that’s where the name came from and we of course snicker every time we say it.  I use my favorite pie crust recipe (here) and make the filling.  It is not the same as pecan pie filling in that it does not have corn syrup, e.g. Karo Syrup, in it.

1½ cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a mini-muffin tin with dough in each cup (allow some dough to stand above each cup) and then fill about half with filling.  Bake for 30-35 minutes at 325 degrees.  You want the dough to be light brown.

I’ll likely be making more cookies as the season progresses.  Other cookie recipes on this blog:

Coconut Orange Cinnamon cookies

Chocolate Chip Toffee cookies

Eat well!

From the Kitchen – Quiche, cookies and apple dumplings

quicheWith work, I don’t have as much time to cook as I’d like.   So, when I have a couple days in row off, I cook a lot.  This time, it was quiche, apple dumplings and two types of cookies. The chocolate chip/toffee cookies have been blogged about earlier here.    The other cookies are a result of me having the ideal of making platefuls of cookies for the holidays, though I’ve yet done so.

These are a slightly modified version of the Cinnamon Orange Coconut Cookies from “The Christmas Cookie Book” by Knipe and Marks.  These stay pleasantly soft even after a few days.  I think it’s because of the coconut. The odd amounts are from me halving the recipe.

1.25 cups AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

¾ tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 cup butter softened

1/8 cup vegetable shortening

½ c sugar

1 large egg

½ tsp orange extract

¾ cup flaked coconut( I use flaked sweetened since I use it in other things)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees celcius).  Line cookie sheets with parchment or grease.

Cream shortening, butter, sugar together.  Add egg and orange extract and beat until mixed.  Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, mix and then add to creamed mixture.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in coconut.

Scoop into 1 inch balls.  Roll in cinnamon sugar.  Place on cookie sheets and flatten slightly.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cookies will puff slightly and will be pale and soft when you remove them from oven.  They will firm as they cool.  They can be dipped in chocolate but I find that is just gilding the lily.

Apple Dumplings a la Betty

Apple dumplings are essentially apple galettes or crostadas, where pie dough is rolled out, filled with apples and then the sides of the pie dough are just brought up and over, not using a pie pan.   These ones are different in that the dumplings are placed in a 9” x 13” baking dish and hot sugar syrup is poured around them *before* baking.  This is my mother-in-law’s recipe and I was sure that it could not possibly work and that the dough would simply disintegrate.   But it doesn’t.

This is a bit more of a procedure than a recipe.  Preheat oven to 425 degree Fahrenheit (218 degrees celcius).  Take your favorite pie dough (my favorite here.  I haven’t tried it with refrigerated pie dough, but it should work).  Make rough circles of dough about 1/8” thick and around 10 inches in diameter.  Take sliced raw apples coated in a mix of sugar, cinnamon and a little flour and place them in the center of each circle, enough to be a small pile but that will allow a couple of inches of dough to wrap up and around them (I usually use about 6-8 baking apples.  I prefer Winesap apples but they are nearly impossible to get).  About six will fit in a 9” x 13” pan.  Then make a syrup of 1 cup sugar, one cup water and three tablespoons of butter, boiling for 3 minutes until slightly thickened.  Pour *hot* syrup around dumplings and place in oven for approximately 45 minutes.  Test doneness by poking apples with a knife to see if they are soft.

Quiche a la Velkyn

Finally, I made a quiche, aka a savory custard pie.  This is my take on the Quiche Lorraine from the “Joy of Cooking”.  It came out wonderfully, as light and silky as could be.  I used the above pie crust as the shell.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees celcius).

Prepare a 9 inch pie shell of your favorite pie crust. Prick it well and brush it with egg white which will seal it and keep the crust crisp.

Scald 2 cups of whole milk or cream (I use whole milk, since cream is way too rich in this for me).  Scald means bring just up to boiling and then removing from the heat. Let cool to just warm to the touch.

Fry ¼ pound of bacon until crisp and crumble.  Fry ½ cup of finely chopped onions in vegetable oil or butter until translucent and tender but not browned.  Grate ½ cup of swiss cheese.

Beat together cooled milk, 3 eggs plus the yolk left over from the egg white used to brush the crust, ¼ tsp of salt, 1/8 tsp of black pepper, a pinch of nutmeg (it really does make a difference).  Make sure this is very well mixed.

Sprinkle grated cheese, bacon crumbles and onions on bottom of pie crust and pour custard mixture over it gently.  Bake 35-40 minutes until top is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  You just want this to be barely set in the center.  Overcook it and you will get a watery custard because the proteins in the eggs and milk constrict and force the water out.

The quiche was quite good with the JR Dill Jabber Waulkie semi-sweet Riesling from our peregrinations round the Finger Lakes.  Sorry no photos this time.  Maybe I’ll get a new camera for a present….

Eat well!

From the Kitchen – Chocolate Toffee Chip Cookies

Everyone needs a tasty snack now and then.  Especially when blogging about political and religious idiocy which seems far far too common anymore. I’m not much of a sweets person but I do like Toll House style cookies with their salt quotient. Yep, I’m bit of a salt monster.

My husband came up with this recipe. I don’t particularly remember why. It could have been the ingredients we had, or me whining that there are too many chocolate chips in most Toll House style cookies.  I like chocolate but I love the cookie part even more.

But not raw. Uck.

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