Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Ring in the new year with gluten-free rum balls! The extra dark Theo chocolate in these makes them a perfect addition to a party table—they’re rich, decadent, and just strong enough. Recently, I made a new variation of these by grinding up gluten-free Gingersnaps from Trader Joe’s. That added a nice spicy undercurrent that paired well with the chocolate and rum. I’ve also included my recipe for gluten-free vanilla wafers, but really any dry gluten-free cookie will do the trick.

Have a fun and rummy New Year’s!

Rum Balls

Rum Balls (GF, DF)
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen

1.5 – 2oz Theo chocolate (74% Madagascar is best)
1 cup powdered sugar
28-30 vanilla wafers
3/4 cup blanched, toasted almonds
3 Tbls light corn syrup
2-4 Tbls dark rum, more as desired

In a food processor, grid together chocolate and powdered sugar until well-blended and chocolate is no longer in identifiable pieces. Add vanilla wafers and almonds, grinding until mixture seems like semi-fine crumbs.

Mix in corn syrup and rum until it holds together, but is not too wet or dry. Mixture should hold together in a ball when formed, but should not require a lot of pressing for it to hold together. Neither should the mixture be so wet that it is sticky or goopy. Add more rum if it is too dry; add more powdered sugar, almonds, or vanilla wafers if it is too wet.

Form mixture into 1-inch balls and roll in powdered sugar to coat. (If powdered sugar melts quickly into the balls, your mixture is too wet.) If you are making both strong rum balls and light rum balls, roll the light in powdered sugar and the strong in cocoa powder. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Store in sealed container in refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks.

Note: If you are making the vanilla wafers fresh for your rum balls, be sure to allow them to cool thoroughly before grinding to crumbs. If they are hot, they will melt the chocolate and ruin the consistency.

Vanilla Wafers (GF, DF)
Makes about 5 dozen

1/2 cup DF butter, softened
1 cup white sugar (vanilla sugar if available)
1 egg
1 Tbls vanilla extract
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flours, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Space them about 2 inches apart, as they will grow a bit.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes or until edges are just golden brown. Remove to wire rack to cool. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in sealed bags in freezer for up to 8 months.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blueberry Cornbread Muffins

Blueberries and cornmeal just work well together. I discovered this beautiful combination when I stumbled across an old Native American dish called Sautauthig. During colonial times, the Native Americans shared it with the settlers, who then began making their own variations of it. The Native Americans knew what they were doing; these flavors sing in beautiful harmony together. I wanted something a bit more portable than a pudding, so I created these muffins. Serve them hot out of the oven drizzled with maple syrup, for breakfast Christmas morning, or tucked into your lunch. You’ll smile with the first bite.

Blueberry Cornbread Muffins (GF, DF)

Makes 1 generous dozen

1 cup yellow cornmeal
Blueberry Cornbread Muffins
1 Tbls baking powder
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
2 Tbls tapioca flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tbls brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp molasses
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup soymilk or apple juice
2 eggs
1 tsp maple syrup or extract, optional
1 1/2 - 2 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen, mostly thawed wild blueberries)
Brown sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the cups of your muffin tin. In a large bowl, mix together cornmeal and baking powder, mashing out baking powder lumps. Add flours, sugars, and salt.

In a glass measuring cup or separate bowl, measure out canola oil. Add soymilk, cider vinegar, molasses, and lemon juice. Beat in eggs and maple syrup.

Quickly mix the wet ingredients into dry, well enough so there are no dry pockets in the batter. Fold in blueberries and fill muffin cups about ¾ full. Sprinkle with a dusting of brown sugar if desired. Bake about 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into a center muffin comes out clean. Pop out of tin to cool.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Espresso Toffee

I make Almond Toffee every Christmas for friends and family. This year, I wanted to make it for one of my friends who can't have nuts, so I was puzzling over what I could add that would give it a satisfactory crunch. I work for Tony's Coffees and Teas and it dawned on me that crushed espresso beans might do the trick. Indeed, it's delicious! It's also stronger than regular toffee and will please those people who don't like candy super sweet.

In this batch, I used Espresso Noir beans. I think a dark roast balances best with the toffee's sweetness, though I imagine a medium roast would be delicious as well. I wouldn't use anything as dark as French, or you may run the risk of overpowering the toffee completely.

Espresso Toffee
Espresso Toffee
Makes about 50 small pieces

1/2 cup espresso beans, coarsely crushed
1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar or vanilla sugar
3 tablespoons very hot water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 ounces 74% dark chocolate
(Theo's Madagascar is best)

Crush espresso bean with a mortar and pestle. You don't want any to be whole, but be careful not to grind to a powder or the toffee will become sandy. Chill in freezer about 1/2 hour before using. Grease a sided cookie sheet about 10.5" x 15.5" with butter.

Crushed Espresso Noir Beans
In a heavy-bottom saucepan, slowly melt the butter over very low heat (lowest setting or no higher than 2 on an electric stove). Do not allow it to discolor. Then add the sugar over low heat, stirring every few seconds until it is all dissolved and you see no separation between butter and sugar.

Once the butter and sugar have not bubbled but are completely incorporated, mix together the hot water and corn syrup, then pour it into the butter slowly, stirring just once or twice.

Keep cooking on moderately low heat. Do not stir, but gently cut through it occasionally. Cook until about 300 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer or until a small portion dropped into ice water is brittle and not quite tacky on the teeth. It will be brown and bubbly, fawn-colored. If it smokes, stop cooking immediately as it will burn very fast. When you think it's close to done, start tasting pieces from the ice water. This takes practice to find just the right color and consistency.

Once it's cooked, quickly remove from heat and fold in crushed espresso beans. Be gentle, do not stir, and mix as little as possible while still incorporating beans. The more you work it, the more likely it is to separate as it cools. Pour out into greased cookie sheet and allow to set at room temperature about 1/2 hour. Move to fridge and let it harden at least 2 hours before continuing.

When toffee is cold and hard, melt the chocolate over low heat. Spread in a thin layer over hard toffee. You may want to allow the toffee to rest at room temperature for 1/2 hour before doing the chocolate, so it warms up slightly and doesn't harden the chocolate too quickly. This depends on your method; if you work fast, you can put the chocolate on directly from the fridge. Refrigerate until very cold and hard, a minimum of 2 hours.

Break cold toffee into pieces and store in an airtight container in refrigerator. Serve cold or just at room temperature. If it gets too warm, the chocolate will begin to melt. It's just as tasty that way too!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Breakfast: Can it be done without eggs?

The day after Thanksgiving isn’t complete without a piece of pumpkin pie for breakfast. At least, that’s the way it is in my house. This particular tradition got a bit complicated when I went gluten-free. Then it got more complicated when I started cutting dairy from my diet. This year, with a vegan sister-in-law, I thought it might be insurmountable. But my baking genes kicked in, I bought a can of coconut milk, and this pie is the result. When I served it at Thanksgiving dinner, it took me a half hour to get back to my seat because everyone had to ask what I’d done to make it so delicious. No one believed it was gluten-free and vegan.

You’ll likely encounter the same result when you make it. The texture is slightly more solid than traditional pumpkin custard, but no one ever cares because they love the delicate flavor of coconut milk paired with the pumpkin. This recipe also works with butternut squash, which yields a slightly more savory pie.

And yes; I got my piece of pumpkin pie for breakfast this year!

Pumpkin Pie (vegan & GF)
Makes 1 8”-9” pie

Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp cornstarch
pinch salt
2 Tbls white sugar
2 Tbls dry soymilk
1/2 cup vegan butter or shortening
1/4 cup soymilk, more as needed

1 can pumpkin (15oz) or 2 cups fresh
1 cup coconut milk
1 Tbls dark rum
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt

If you’re using fresh pumpkin or butternut squash, mash it and hang it to drain in cheesecloth for about 4 hours before you use it. Otherwise, it may hold too much liquid for the pie to set correctly.

For the crust, mix dry ingredients together very well, then cut in butter, adding soymilk in small amounts as you go. You want it to hold together, but avoid adding so much soymilk that it becomes sticky. Usually, 1/4 - 1/3 cup will do it. Roll out on a piece of parchment paper using sweet rice flour. Slide a cookie sheet or flat board underneath the crust, position the pie plate upside-down on top, then hold it all and carefully but quickly flip it right-side up. Repair any breaks in the crust, cut off excess, and flute edges. Refrigerate until ready to fill. Crust can be made 1 to 2 days in advance and kept in fridge, wrapped in plastic so it won’t dry out.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients together well, mashing cornstarch into brown sugar to be sure there are no lumps. Mix together coconut milk and rum separately. Add pumpkin to dry ingredients, then beat with electric mixer while you gradually add coconut milk. Beat at least 5 minutes, until very well-mixed, no lumps appear, and you see air bubbles incorporated into the filling. The more air you beat into the filling, the lighter your pie filling will be, so make sure to get some air in there.

Immediately pour filling into prepared pie shell and bake 45 minutes – 1 hour. Pie is done when the filling surface appears smooth and mostly set. Center may be slightly soft when you remove it from the oven, but will set up in the fridge in about 1 hour. Serve hot or cold, plain or with vanilla coconut milk ice cream. Pie keeps in fridge 3-4 days.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Butter ‘em up

A few weeks ago, I decided to make gnocchi (an Italian cross between pasta and dumplings). They’re traditionally made with potatoes, but my husband adores potatoes and I have trouble keeping them in plentiful stock. I had a butternut squash and figured, “why not?” The best recipes often emerge from making do with what’s available. Gluten-free Butternut Squash Gnocchi have a smooth texture, bright flavor, and a vibrancy that compliments any well-laid table.
This is the basic pasta recipe. They can be served all sorts of ways, so don’t be afraid to try out interesting combinations. Gorgonzola and sage. Roasted almond pesto. White beans and marinara. But my favorite is the simplest: sautéed in butter with nutmeg, parmesan, and fresh basil or garlic.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Makes about 4 cups

1 2-lb. butternut squash (about 2 cups mashed)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup potato flour
1 cup potato starch
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
sweet rice flour

Halve butternut squash, scoop out seeds, and place face-down in a baking pan in 1 inch of water. Cook in 375 degrees Fahrenheit oven about 45 minutes or until a fork easily penetrates the thickest part. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 15 minutes. Scoop out steamed squash, being careful not to take any skin with it, and mash or whip until smooth. Measure out 2 cups, draining out excess water.

In a standing mixer or bowl, beat egg into 2 cups mashed squash. Add salt and nutmeg, blending well. Add potato flour and potato starch, mixing and kneading until dough is uniform and smooth. It will be slightly sticky.

Dust a surface with sweet rice flour and flour your hands. Working with small amounts of dough at a time, roll into a snake about ½-inch thick. Cut snake at 1-inch intervals. Roll each gnocchi gently between your index finger and a fork so it marks one side and drops to the surface. Repeat until all dough is formed into gnocchi. At this stage, gnocchi can be frozen on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and transferred to bags or containers to keep in the freezer long-term.

To cook fresh, drop gnocchi into boiling water and cook until they float to the surface. Skim the floating gnocchi off the top and sauté briefly in butter with nutmeg, parmesan, and fresh basil or garlic. Frozen gnocchi can be cooked directly from the freezer and will boil longer than fresh gnocchi.

Note: This recipe can be made vegan, substituting Ener-G Egg Replacer for the egg.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Apple Pie

My autumn-provoked restlessness reached a head last weekend and launched my husband and me out of Seattle onto one of Washington’s northern highways. The city’s multicolored harvests, overflowing in farmer’s markets beneath the changing trees, exhibit a unique charm; but somehow I’m just not satisfied with autumn until I’ve been out in the back country, in forests that weren’t planned as rows. We went for a short hike, then stopped at an apple orchard on the way back. It’s too late in the season for Gravensteins, my favorite baking apples, but I picked up some delicious Jonagolds and Hawaiis (a cross between Golden Delicious and Gravenstein). Soon I had a pie in the oven and applesauce burbling on the stove.
Gluten-Free Apple Pie with Tart Cherries

Apple pie is one of those quintessentially American desserts for which everyone has a recipe: their own, their grandmother’s, a neighbor’s, or wheedled out of the baker at that place on 1st street. You might never have baked one in your life, but you probably know all the main ingredients by heart. The rarity of gluten-free apple pie is a true shame. I’ve been working on my recipe for a few years now, making the crust flakey enough and the filling that delicate balance between gooey and solid, sweet and tart. I finally got it: the perfect gluten-free apple pie recipe, complete with crumble topping and dried tart cherries to spot the filling. I made it for my friend, Jeff, for his birthday party a few weeks ago and received this response from his wife, Anne:

“As we dug into the pie last night, there was an awed silence, accompanied by the occasional tink of a fork. Then Danny pauses, rests his plate on his lap and says, with great reverence, ‘THAT'S good pie.’”

None of these friends is on a gluten-free diet.

This pie yields the best results with good apples. Gravensteins are my favorite, but in their absence, I recommend a combination of Jonagold and Hawaii, or Jonagold and Granny Smith. You’re looking for a good mixture of tart and sweet apples, so trust your taste buds and work with the apples in season.

Apple Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie

3/4 cup sweet rice flour
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
pinch salt
1/2 cup real or vegan butter or shortening
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten

6 peeled & cored apples (about 6 cups chopped)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbls corn starch
3 Tbls dark rum
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 cup dried tart cherries

Crumble topping:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup GF rolled oats
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/3 cup real or vegan butter at room temperature

For crust, combine butter, egg, and sugar in food processor or mixer with paddle. Blend till well-mixed. Add dry ingredients and mix until just holding together. Form dough into flat round with hands and sweet rice flour a piece of parchment paper. Roll out large enough for pie dish. Set pie dish on it upside-down, slide a flat board or cookie sheet under it and turn right-side up all at once. Crust may break in some places, but can be gently pressed back together. Flute edges as desired and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, cornstarch, cherries, and spices. Peel and core apples, slicing into dry mixture and stirring occasionally to mix. When all apples are sliced and coated, add rum and stir in. Pour into pie crust.

For topping, mix together all dry ingredients and cut in butter until topping has the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Some small butter lumps are just fine. Pour over filled pie, spreading to edges but not pressing down.

Bake about 30-40 minutes or until topping is well-browned and apples are able to be pierced easily with a fork. Serve hot or cold. Vanilla coconut milk ice cream (Coconut Bliss) is optional. Cover well and store in refrigerator up to 5 days.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rudi’s Multigrain Miracle

My perfect apple pie has been made and eaten twice before I could get pictures of it, so instead I want to share the incredible new gluten-free bread now gracing my cupboard.

Rudi’s is an organic bakery based in Boulder, Colorado, that’s been making wholesome loaves since 1976. Their recent venture into the gluten-free world is nothing short of miraculous. The slices are thick, spongy and delicious. Rich with sorghum, cornmeal, millet, flaxseed, and sunflower seeds, this is a gluten-free bread that actually tastes like a Multigrain bread. They also have Original and Cinnamon Raisin loaves, but I’m a fiend for Multigrain. I grew up on hearty multigrain and whole wheat breads and it’s been ten gluten-free years since I tasted anything like this.

For the past year or so, I’ve been a Udi’s girl. Their Whole Grain bread is awesome—soft, spongy, and real in taste enough to convert my gluten-loving husband to eat it instead of “regular” bread. They also carry a number of other gluten-free products: pizza crusts (addiction), bagels (oh man), muffins, and granola. But “whole grain” to me should be dark, chewy, and full of pick-them-out-of-your-teeth bits. Udi’s isn’t that type of whole grain. It’s good, but it’s not Rudi’s. Rudi’s has the texture and flavor that I missed.

According to Rudi’s website, their gluten-free breads are available at PCC, Ken’s Market, and Madison Market in Seattle. I also found it at Whole Foods.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time for Cranberry Bread

There’s bite and chill to the air as I wander in the local farmer’s market, probing like a squirrel for my winter provisions: squash, apples, potatoes, pecans, green beans, garlic. Anything capable of being frozen or canned for future use (friends have told me they’d like to be stuck at my house should a zombie apocalypse occur). I round a corner, peeking between people at booths overflowing with the autumn harvest, and see them: fresh cranberries. Those of you who have read my website’s archives know how excited I get about fresh cranberries. These aren’t the Ocean Spray variety that pops up in grocery stores, unripe and suspiciously large. Grown in a local bog by a family with 7 acres, they’re harvested when ripe and sold here practically at my doorstep!

I’m teaching myself new lessons in time and recipes this year. Usually, I journey north to buy apples by the box, cart them home, and spend weeks making pies, crisps, sauces, and butter. Usually, I pull on my wellies and make an expedition to a bog to pick my own cranberries; however, a new husband and a full-time job have made these treks regrettably unrealistic. So I make time for what I can do: buy excellent cranberries from a local farmer, support them in their own endeavors, and celebrate with Cranberry Bread, Carcassonne, and friends when I get home. Food tastes better in community. That’s why my kitchen looks out on the rest of our apartment, and why you can always pop over for a game and end up with a piece of cranberry bread, hot from the oven.

Cranberry Pecan Bread (gluten-free & dairy-free)

Cranberry Pecan Bread
Makes 1 loaf

1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces (lightly chopped)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash allspice

1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup soymilk or orange juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp orange zest
1 cup fresh cranberries, washed well

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and sweet rice flour loaf pan.

In a large bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. In a separate measuring cup or bowl, mix together oil, soymilk, vinegar, lemon juice and orange zest. Beat eggs in well.

Add fresh cranberries to dry ingredients, stirring to coat with flour. Add wet ingredients and mix together quickly but very well so no pockets of flour remain. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake about 30-45 minutes, or until top of loaf is browned and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Recipe was created by Adrienne Kerrigan. Please give credit if reposted or copied.

Stay tuned for recipes and new posts!

Beyond Celery posts have moved to this blog for the near future. My website,, will still run, but it will not house my most current updates due to time constraints and general persnicketiness. (I’d rather be in the kitchen than rebuilding the website from scratch and teaching myself html.) Thank you for your patience!