May 31, 2008

GF Bake-Sale Brownies

I've experimented with a lot of brownie recipes, and this is one of my favorites. It comes from "The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook."  What I like the most about this recipe, besides its brownie-yumminess, is the easy clean-up.  By layering the bottom of the baking pan with tinfoil, you end up having a relatively clean pan, and an easy way to get the brownies separated from it.  Each batch makes about 16 tiny person brownies, or 9 Trav-size brownies (or 4 depending on the day I've had).  It only takes about 10 minutes to prep, and then 45 minutes to bake.

The brownies pictured are a result of an experiment substituting my typical GF flour combination (see recipe below), with equal parts Bob's Red Mill GF Pancake Mix.  The result was very cake-like brownies. In fact, I think using pancake mix with this recipe, instead of all-purpose flour, would make a perfect chocolate birthday cake. Or, you could pour the batter in a loaf pan and make chocolate bread, and then use that bread to make decadent chocolate french toast!  I digress...

When made with my own GF all-purpose flour the brownies come out a lot denser; a bit more fudgey.  I love them either way!  Whether you make these with an all-purpose GF flour, or decide to fluff them up with GF pancake mix, you'll know they are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs. After removing from the oven, let them cool for at least 45 minutes before digging in. I know... the wait is torture.

The Following gluten-free flour recipe was adapted from the book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy by Bette Hagman.

Gluten Free Flour Mix
  • 3 cups white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum

Brownie Ingredients
  • 8 tblsp (1 stick) unsalted butter cut into chunks 
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup  sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (GF of course)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3  cup all-purpose flour (or GF pancake mix)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cooking Directions

  • Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  
  • Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, so that the aluminum sheets make a big "plus" sign. Lightly coat the aluminum sheets with cooking spray (make sure its GF)
  • Place the butter and chopped chocolate into a small sauce pan and heat over low heat while stirring frequently. It's easy to do, so don't burn the chocolate!
  • While the chocolate is melting, whisk the sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl until combined. Pour the melted chocolate/butter mixture into the bowl and mix it all up good. Then mix in the flour until no streaks remain.
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the top with nuts (or not) before placing in the oven.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached (about 25 minutes with all-purpose GF flour mix, or about 35 minutes when using GF pancake mix).  To be safe, start checking it around 25 minutes no matter what.  It would be shame to lose these morsels of deliciousnesss to overcooking
  • Enjoy! Maybe even better with a couple scoops of Bryers vanilla ice-cream (it's GF)!

May 27, 2008

Tuna Steaks & Marinated Bean Salad

This one is super easy! And super tasty! You can make this meal, from start to finish, in about 30 minutes. I had a couple of tuna steaks and a variety of canned beans on hand, so I went searching through my cookbooks to find a way to put them together. I found this particular recipe in an "Essentials" book on Fish & Seafood that I picked up from the bargain rack at Borders.  It had a lot of nice pictures in it, which is exactly what I look for in a cookbook.  I can't stand cookbooks that are all words and no pictures.  Not that there aren't great all-word cookbooks out there, but the visual-learner side of me likes to see what my end product should look like.  I'm not big into surprises when it comes to getting my grub on, especially when I have guests coming over:)

I used the beans I had on hand in my cupboard, but you can use any kind of beans.  The original recipe calls for a can of sweet corn, something I'll incorporate the next time I make this (even if just for the visual appeal). You can also keep it uber-easy and just use a couple cans of marinated beans instead of making the dressing yourself.  

  • 2-4 Tuna Steaks
  • 2 tblsp  olive oil
  • 3 cans mixed beans and/or sweet corn
  • Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

Dressing Ingredients
  • 6 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tblsp balsamic vinegar (make sure it's GF)
  • 1 tblsp  lime juice 
  • 1 garlic clove (chopped)
  • 1 tsp fresh coriander (1/2 tsp if dry)
  • Salt & Pepper

Cooking Instructions
  1. Preheat frying pan on medium high heat 
  2. Brush the tuna steaks with olive oil and apply generous amounts of sea salt and ground pepper to each side
  3. Cook the tuna for about 2 minutes then turn over and cook for another two minutes (or to taste), and remove from heat. Don't overcook the tuna, since it keeps cooking after being removed from the heat
  4. While the tuna is cooling, heat the beans/corn on the stove (according to the directions on the can), and drain.
  5. Put all the "dressing" ingredients in a bowl and stir it up good
  6. Put the beans/corn in large bowl and pour in 1/2 of the dressing. Mix it up
  7. Serve the bean mix along side the tuna and then drizzle the remaining dressing over the whole meal
  8. Garnish with some sliced limes and parsley if you want to show off to friends
  9. ENJOY!!!

May 11, 2008

Gluten Free Beer Review

Back when I didn't have to worry about gluten, I was bit of a beer snob.  It was always about porters and stouts so thick that if you flipped a quarter into the glass, it would very slowly reach the bottom.  I didn't have much brand loyalty, except for maybe Guinness or Bass, but I typically stuck to beers that were dark amber to coal black.  I loved micro-brew pubs, and would get all giddy as I surveyed the never ending varieties of beer at my fingertips.  Now things have changed a bit.  I no longer have the luxury of choice when it comes to beer, and what is available is many shades lighter than what I prefer.  However, I realize that I'm lucky that there is gluten free beer available to me, and I know that more and more varieties will pop up as mainstream awareness of celiacs disease spreads.

The first gluten free beer I've ever had was called Honey Passover Beer, and is made by Ramapo Valley Brewery.  It was pretty good, but it was too sweet and light for my tastes. Honestly it was like a really watered down honey brown ale.  No... Not a big fan. But I know people who love the stuff. Then, along came Anheuser-Busch's Redbridge Beer. It was much darker than Honey Passover Beer, but was still only light to medium amber.  I love this stuff and can drink it all day.  It has a crisp bite to it, so is great on a hot summer day. It's also the least costly of all the gluten free beers I know of.  I case is about $34 to $36.  Just recently I came across a place that stocked Green's Gluten Free Beers. I tried two kinds: Endeavor Dubbel Dark Ale, and Discovery Amber Ale.  I love them!!! The Dubbel Dark Ale was light chocolate colored.When I poured that beer out of the bottle and seen how dark it was, I almost shed a tear...  Both were great. The Discover Amber Ale was still darker than Redbridge, but tasted so much better.  I've read that they also have a kind called Quest Tripel, but I haven't seen it yet.  

I know there are more kinds of gluten free beer out there, but these are the ones I've tried. It's hard finding these beers in the first place here in Philadelphia, so when you do it's good to stock up and support the industry!  The more we buy, the more likely they'll invest in making sure it's available to us, and before you know it I'll be drinking a tall frosty mug of gluten free chocolate oatmeal stout. 


Just So You Know...

The information presented in this blog is intended to educate and entertainment. However, I'm not a medical expert.  I also do not know absolutely everything about Celiac Disease.  What I do know has been learned through trial and error, research, and what has been taught to me by friends who also share my food-related affliction.  Please take the time to do your own research about Celiac Disease and gluten-related issues.  I have a list of links to useful resources along the left-side of this blog. Also, feel free to cross-check my statements. If you find contrary information, please let me know. Thanks so much for visiting Trav's Gone Gluten Free!