Category Archives: Wheat Alternatives

Broths: Meat or Vegetable; (Vegan,Vegetarian, GF, Keto)

 

I find it hard to believe that after all this time I have never done a post of broths.

Broths are the basis of most good soups, sauces and gravies.  You can make tastier rice and other grains, (like quinoa, barley, etc.), by cooking them in broth instead of water.  Broths are extremely healthy and versatile, plus they are a wonderful way to stretch your food dollar.  Frankly,  I feel better making the most of the sacrifice of the meat that I eat.

I always trim meats and vegetables, put them away little by little, into freezer bags and when I have enough, I make broth. I may mix chicken and turkey, but I keep all others separated.

I am eating less and less pork and beef, but the way to make any meat-based broth is simple and the same:

Meat Broths

Use scraps, no matter how fatty, and (hopefully) bones with meat, (at least 2 lbs-worth); bones add extra body, flavor and  a good amount of calcium; the fat will come off later.

1 large onion (whole or cut into quarters)

2 large ribs of celery, cut into halves or quarters (preferably with leaves)

1 Tbs salt (to taste)

½ tsp pepper or 4 peppercorns

2 Tbsp. dried parsley (it makes a real difference in taste, and is a ‘superfood’ a powerhouse of nutrients)

 

(if using a slow-cooker, cook on high with less water; cook for 6-8hours). Add all to a large pot, (3 quart). Fill within 2 inches of the top with cold water. Put on a burner on high until it starts to boil, then turn down to a mild simmer; DO NOT BOIL. Allow 4-6 hours to simmer, (after 3  hours of cooking, you can taste for strength). Thoroughly cool and you can skim off all of the fat that will have risen to the surface.  Strain and discard all meat and vegetables, which will be depleted of taste and most nutrients. (The one exception to this is when I make turkey/chicken broth and use giblets; I use extra meat to make the broth strong quickly and then chop the giblets for dressing.)

Now you can use this for the basis of sauce, gravies or any other types of soups, (many recipes are found in previous posts, with more to come.) Some ideas include: adding precooked meats, (meatballs), or sausages and vegetables. The meats can be barbequed, or spiced, (Asian, Mexican, Italian). You can add vegetables alone in any combination; let your imagination and personal tastes inspire you. You can add noodles, pastas, or barley, or go gluten-free with quinoa, rice, oats, buckwheat, corn, cooked beans and legumes and/or beaten eggs.

Today I have made Egg-Drop Soup with Fresh Spinach and Parmesan. I made it with chicken broth, but often make it with vegetable broth:

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1/8 cup minced onion

2  1/2 cups chopped , fresh spinach or 1 cup cooked/canned spinach

1/4 cup chopped Parmesan cheese -or-
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan

4 beaten eggs

salt and white pepper to taste

Heat the broth. Add spinach, cook.  Add  eggs; stir until just cooked. Add cheese; let it melt and serve hot.

 

Vegetable Broth

Vegetable broth varies much more than my meat-broth recipes depending on the season. I cut the ends from tomatoes, spinach, carrots, green beans, the tops of celery and bok choy,  over-ripe onions, garlic, weak leaves and cores of cabbage, and lettuces, the peelings of quashes, the inner core and pith of bell peppers, you name it. (I avoid outer peelings of onions, and don’t use red ones, shallots or red cabbage as it makes the broth dark purple and unappetizing.) I put them in zip-bags in the freezer and when I have enough, I add salt, white pepper and some dried parsley and, as above, bring it to a boil in large pot of cold water and simmer for 5-6 hours. If using a slow-cooker, I add less water and cook on high for 4-5 hours If you need ideas, here are pictures of some of my gatherings, ready to be simmered into nice vegetable stock:veg stock

 

Any of the additions listed in the recipe for meat broth can be used. To go low calcium, low cholesterol, vegan, you can use plant-based meat substitutes to give your soups more protein, make the substitutes tastier and get more for the money out of them, since they are still generally quite expensive.

 

I hope that you give these recipes a try.  You will find that canned broth or those in aseptic containers pale by far in comparison.

Rich Flourless Chocolate Cake, (Lower-carb, GF,Dairy-free, Keto, Passover)

Looking for a low-carb, gluten-free, Keto or Passover dessert? Look no farther than a flourless cake.

(I cannot find my pictures; sorry)

This is an excellent easy, considerate dessert, or addition to a party table, when you want to accommodate diabetic or gluten-intolerant guests.

Consider adding other flavors for an impressive difference; some ideas are included below.

Depending on just how sweet or low-carb/low calorie you want to go, I give you several alternatives:

Basic cake ingredients:

I ½ oz of (good) bittersweet chocolate. (I use high-cocoa plain candy bars)*

½ cup pure cocoa powder *

1/2 cup butter cut into small pieces

¾ cups sugar of choice, or 2/3 cups stevia  ‘sugar replacement’  for baking, ( made with sugar, erythritol or monkfruit)*

4 eggs

½ cup hot (not boiling) water

Dash of salt

½ tsp vanilla extract, (or  tsp almond extract, mint flavoring, raspberry;  1 tsp hazelnut brandy or coffee liqueur)

*NOTE: More of these ingredients may be needed for toppings, along with any of the suggestions below.

Melt the chocolate gently and carefully in a microwave or double boiler. Add the butter chunks and stir until melted.

Put into a mixing bowl and add the sugar/substitute; add the hot water and beat until smooth.

Add the salt and one egg at a time, as soon as the mixture is slightly cooled, (so the eggs don’t cook). If using, add the flavoring at the end.

Prepare a baking pan (8-9” round, 8-9” square)  with liberal buttering and dusting of cocoa, or use a pan-release, such as Wilton’s, or Pam for Baking. A piece of parchment in the bottom will facilitate the removal of the cake from the pan.

A tart pan or springform pan would make this even easier; the sides pull away in a springform; some tart pans have removable bottoms. The cake can be left in a nice ceramic tart or baking pan, as well, if you can cool it quickly.

Bake at 325F for about 30 minutes.  It will look like it is rising and then fallen; this is normal. Test for doneness by inserting a thin knife, cake tester into the middle of the cake. When it comes out clean, it’s done.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes and remove, (if not using a ceramic baking pan). The cake will be flat and dense and as delicious as it is, it needs a little something on top.

When completely cool, you can dust the cake with cocoa and powdered sugar, (or the substitute baking blend whizzed in a grinder, blender or food processor to make an equivalent ‘powdered sugar’). You can then add grated bittersweet chocolate, nuts, berries or any combination for an even nicer presentation.  Instead of the powdered sugar, you can simply drizzle with melted chocolate, or ganache and serve as soon as the topping is reasonably dry.
I think you will enjoy this as much as my family and guests do.

Lovely Lemon Gluten-Free Cake

 

New Year 2020! I made a Gluten-free Lemon cake which was a hit.

This cake is simple and can be made as low on carbs as you’d like by changing sugar with a Stevia baking mixture, (stevia and sugar, or stevia and erythritol for even fewer carbs).

The delicate lemon flavor would be good for Easter.
Omit the baking powder and feel free to make this for Passover.

 

Lemon Gluten-free Cake

1 ½ cups almond flour (Instructions below on making your own)

4 eggs, separated (whites in one large bowl, yolks in another)

½ cup sugar or stevia baking mix, divided into two ¼ cup portions

1 tsp cream of tartar, (optional)

1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)

1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind

1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Powdered sugar or substitute sweet baking mix for serving.

Additional garnish of choice, such as almond slices or fruit. (I used fresh raspberries; blackberries would also be a good match. If using fresh fruit slices, such as banana, apple or pear, first dip in lemon juice or citrus soda so that they don’t turn brown; pat dry.)

 

With an electric beater, beat egg whites until very foamy.  Add cream of tartar to add volume and give the egg whites more ‘body’, but it is not essential.  Slowly beat in ¼ cup of sugar or stevia baking mix and beat until the egg whites are firm and glossy; to not let them become dry.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with spoon, whisk, or beat gently with hand mixer; (do the egg whites first; the beaters and bowl must be free of any oils or fats to whip well, but don’t leave them standing for too long).

 

Add the baking powder, (if using), the lemon rind and juice, and mix well. Add the other ¼ cup of sugar or stevia mix slowly and beat well.  Add the almond flour and mix well.

Fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture with a rubber/silicone spatula or a wooden spoon, in a downward, round motion until they are mixed. Mix thoroughly, but try not to deflate the egg whites completely.

This cake is too delicate to be inverted onto a cake rack, so plan on spooning the mixture into a spring-form pan, or into what I used, a tart pan. Either one you use, cover the bottom and insides with baking spray, butter and flour, or painted with cake-release.

Bake at 323F for 35-40 minutes, or until it is slightly browned on the edges and a cake tester comes out clean when put into the middle. Do not open the oven for the first 25 minutes. Whether using baking powder or not, the cake will rise then fall, and this is fine.

Cool, then garnish just before serving.

NOTES:

You can grind fresh, untoasted and even unblanched almonds into flour using a small food processor, a small electric grinder or even a well-cleaned coffee grinder.

As shown on my version of the cake, you can also make ‘powdered sugar’ this way out of sugar baking substitutes; what you see is a stevia-erythritol mix sprinkled over the cake.

You can adjust the strength of the lemon flavor by adding more zest, but I found the subtleness of the amount of lemon that I used refreshing, which would make it lovely for a tea, brunch or after a large meal.

GOOD, and Easy Gluten-Free Christmas/Holiday Cookies

Looking for really nice and gluten-free cookies for the holidays?  Here are two recipes that will impress even those who don’t need to go GF.

Of course, other than cookies, there are other gluten-free offerings which I will be serving, among them, quinoa-based dressing, rice pudding, cranberry relish and chiffon, (recipes in previous posts).

In a hurry, I decided that I could cheat by rising the temperature; unfortunately, that was a mistake, as they browned a little more than they should have. Leaving them in the oven for longer at lower temperatures will give you an even nicer presentation, however, depending on the sugars used, the colors could be darker, but none of these affect the flavors.

Both recipes are easy and need no prior refrigeration, rolling, cutting or icing/decorating afterward. A few sprinkles, jimmies, dates or nuts on top before baking is all that is needed to  make them a little fancier.

Also, both recipes feature dates. You may wish to experiment with well-drained maraschino cherries, Crasins in your favorite flavor or other dried fruits, feel free to do so. (I will be!)

Also, going with margarine in the second recipe makes both  dairy-free.

 

Walnut-Date Meringues

Whites of two large eggs

1/2 cup sugar, (white, coconut, date, combination or equal in stevia baking mix)

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped dates

Assorted sprinkles, (if using)
or extra dates or walnuts for decoration

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar(s) and vanilla slowly and mix until the egg whites are solid white but not dry.
Fold in (or gently mix by hand) the nuts and dates.

Drop by small spoonfuls onto liberally greased baking sheets,(or use baking spray).

Decorate with sprinkles or extra nuts/dates.

Bake slowly in a 290F oven for about  2 ½ hours; (check after 2). You want them to be quite dry. Remove to rack gently and allow to cool completely. Place in airtight container.

 

Pineapple, Pecan and Date  Drop Cookies

1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup light brown sugar,(or date or coconut sugar)

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla or natural butter flavor
or  2 tsp brandy

½ tsp cinnamon (optional)

1 ½   cup chopped pecans

1  ¼ cup chopped dates (or other semi-dry fruit)

1  – 15 oz can crushed pineapple in juice, well-drained

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

2 cups or equivalent of gluten-free flour, (I used 1 full cup quinoa flour and 1 scant cup banana flour)

Beat the butter or margarine, sugar(s) and eggs until light. Add the flavoring, baking powder and baking soda; beat well.
Add the pineapple, dates and pecans, beat on low or mix well by hand.
Beat in the flour(s).

Note: Quinoa, chickpea and some other flours have strong flavors of their own, which is why I mixed them in this recipe. Flavoring is essential, and a little cinnamon is very helpful in disguising the flavor of the flours.)

Let sit for 5 minutes.

Drop by small spoonfuls onto  baking sheets  which are greased or lined with baking parchment. Flatten slightly.

Sprinkle with jimmies, colored decorator sugars, extra nuts, dates or pieces of fruit used.

Bake in a 300F oven for 1 hour (or longer). The dough is wet and you want these cookies to dry out in the low heat of the oven, browned on the bottom and not soft. They may appear tough, or overly dry when cooled,  but will soften when placed in an air-tight container. As with tea breads and other baked goods with fruit, these taste even better after the flavors develop in a day or two.

I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season, whatever you choose to celebrate and a wonderful 2020!

Some Basic Tips

Hello, Friends and Family! After many happenings and much time, I am here, but at first by request for baking tips.

It’s a good place to start, and just after Thanksgiving in the U.S., and before Christmas

Let’s start with a few basics.

Sift flours and powdered sugar. You don’t need a sifter; you can use a fine-mesh sieve: WP_20181113_004
MEASURE: If you are not used to cooking, measure your ingredients, but cooking and baking isn’t rocket science. Feel free to play around. In fact, do so more or less with seasonings, herbs, spices, nuts, etc., but don’t guess with flours and leavening. It’s better to add slightly less leavening and flour than even slightly too much.

Contrary to some recipe directions, do not add your leavenings [baking powder, baking soda, salt,] and seasonings to the flour before sifting; too much gets lost in that which is not used.

Always mix your butter/margarine/shortening, then add sugar or sweetener, and mix well in between. If eggs are in the recipe, add them afterward and mix well, add flavorings and scrape the bowl often. DO NOT dump everything into a bowl and expect a nicely textured cake or cookies.

Alternate adding the sifted flour with any added liquid, and mix well in between each addition.

Rest your batter before adding extra flour and before putting into pans or trying to make drop cookies; the batter will set and become stiffer after it sits. You don’t want it to become too stiff.

Chill pie crusts that call for it and rolled cookie dough well; overnight is the best. Wrapped well, they will last for days in your refrigerator or months in your freezer.

Roll out your doughs on flour, parchment paper or waxed paper . Roll small amounts of cookie dough at a time if using flour and add more ‘fresh’ dough to the scraps each time to keep your cookies from becoming hard when baked.

Dip your cookie cutters in flour between cuts.

Spray cookie stamps with cooking spray or dip them in vegetable oil and blot to keep them from sticking to the dough.WP_20181123_002

Preheat your oven, and put baked goods onto the upper-middle rack. If your baked goods tend to brown on the top too soon, then use a lower rack. If they tend to brown too soon on the bottom, preheat your oven on BROIL. Make sure that the broiler is turned off and the oven on and set to the correct baking temperature, (generally 350F), before you add your cookies and cakes.

Test for doneness by gently touching the top of cookies; they should be gently firm. Lift a cookie to check the bottom for doneness; they should be only lightly browned.
Also touch the cake tops; your finger should leave no imprint. Use a toothpick or thin knife to test the middle of cakes; they should come out clean with no batter stuck to them

Prepare pans: Baking pans for cakes and quick breads can be prepared by greasing and flouring, but that tends to make them crumby on the outside. Aerosol baking sprays work well; liquid, brush-on varieties are best, but expensive. Regular greasing/buttering/sprays can be made more efficient by using strips of baking parchment paper.
Cookie sheets can be used multiple times in a row by using parchment paper alone, (clean the pans well before putting them away). Cool the metal sheets between batches by temporarily removing the parchment paper and running the pans under cool water, (use pot holders).

INGREDIENTS:
DAIRY: Whole milk is best for baking, but 2% is useable. Skim milk simply does not work as well. Almond and other nut milks, Soy and Rice milks are useable.

You can make your own condensed version by simmering the milks until it is reduced, but canned coconut milk is the easiest to use.

Milk substitutions:

Most recipes calling for buttermilk come out just wonderfully by using any of the milks above with 2 teaspoonsful of white or apple cider vinegar or my preference, lemon juice. I use real lemons whenever possible, but keep a bottle of reconstituted lemon juice in my refrigerator for this purpose alone. (I will not substitute the real buttermilk called for in my husband’s grandmother’s Carrot Cake recipe, however!)

You can make a sour cream substitution by making it even better: Crème Fraiche. Use heavy cream, add lemon juice and let it sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours, (in not too hot of a room). Refrigerate. It’s wonderful. A quicker version is a mix of cream cheese, (vegan or cow) and milk, (cow or nut/soy/rice milks).

Vegan milks will not thicken as well, as cow milk, (but can be used), especially with a little thickenings, such as milk mixed with a little corn starch. There are Vegan Sour creams and cream cheese on the market, but most are soy-based.

Goat milk is strong; I do not recommend using it for baking.

Whipping cream of coconut with a little coconut or other vegan milk is a good substitute for condensed milk. Well-chilled, full-fat coconut canned milk can be whipped like cream.

WHIP-IT and other brands of whipped-cream stabilizer made of dextrose and modified corn starch is quite helpful in both coconut and cow whipped cream.

SALT is also a leavening; leaving it out of baked-good recipes is a mistake. Baking soda is used alone with acidic batters, like those with butter milk/sour milk. Baking Powder is a mix of baking soda and cream of tartar; they are not interchangeable. Cream of tartar was often found on pantry shelves when more home-cooking was done. Its most common use is in volumizing whipped egg whites.

Palm and other sugars can be substituted for white sugar. Brown sugar sold in America is usually sugar which has had the molasses removed by refining, and has had molasses returned in varying degree, (light or dark). I know; it makes no sense. But what this means is that in a recipe, you can substitute white sugar with a little molasses beaten into the mix, but mix extra well, as the texture of the sugar is not as fine.

White and dark corn syrup can be used interchangeably. If you really want dark with a richer flavor, you can add a little molasses.

There are dark syrups available, (Sorghum was big in Kentucky for generations), but I am skeptical about Brown rice syrup and Blue Agave. Both can, contrary to earlier reports, raise blood glucose levels and agave may cause miscarriages.

Flours:
All-purpose flour will be familiar to those of you who need to read this blog. Choose unbleached for nearly all of your basic needs. “White wheat” is a healthier alternative, but your baked goods will not rise as high and will not be as delicate.

Bread flour has higher protein and more gluten and makes for a chew consistency. Do not use for cakes and pastry.

Whole wheat flour takes extra effort and is harder to work with.

Alternative flours: I am experimenting now that I have family members who are gluten-sensitive. You cannot simply substitute other flours for the all-purpose flour most recipes call for and expect great results. It takes time and tweaking. Indeed, making bread and many doughs will not work at all with some flours because it is gluten that makes dough elastic. Plus, many flours, like besan, (chickpea flour), may be healthier, but they have an off-taste. You can disguise some of these with strong enough flavors. (I make a dense chocolate cake which basically covers the bean-taste.)

just developed a pie crust made of oat and almond flour. It is tasty, but it is not flaky, and it cannot be rolled-out, but needs to be pressed into the pie plate before filling. I’ll post that in the next post, soon.

I want to post this as soon as possible, although I have not touched on many points.

Please feel free if you have any ideas, questions or have any points you’d like to see addressed.

Thank you for being with me!

Easy Gourmet withLeftovers-Vegan/GF/Nut Alternatives

When I went to my family reunion this Summer, my gentleman cousins treated me to dinners at a fine restaurant near where we stayed.(We also had a great lunch at a barbecue joint that looked like a barn, but I digress.)

At one of the meals I chose a dinner salad that came with glazed chicken and walnuts…it was wonderful. And when they offered me their raspberry vinaigrette for it, I was blown away! I had to go home and reproduce it as well as I could.

Since then I have been experimenting with glazes and meats, plus meat substitutes! I found that Tofurkey is amazing glazed and chilled and so is Quorm,( a vegetarian,but not vegan, meat substitute. Seitan can also be used and I have made it with Tempeh).

I don’t remember what they charged for the salad at the restaurant, but even using leftovers, you can recreate the taste at home for your own enjoyment, and even impress any guests you may have, for a fraction of the cost!
(If you are using raw boneless chicken, beef or pork, sear it at a high temperature on the stove with your glaze, then lower the heat, add a few Tablespoons of water and cover until they are fully cooked in the middle).

If using leftovers, Tofurkey or Quorn,(ground Quorn is good here) , simply sear on medium-high heat on the stove and turn as soon as it is seared on each side. Then chill. I have used slices of roast pork,(including commercially marinated pork roasts), chicken, (including rotisserie chicken), slice turkey and roast beef, (although the latter does not work as well, except for my leftover Sesame Beef…strips of beef dredged in salted corn meal and fried in a little sesame oil with sesame seeds.)

The glazes that I have used are honey with butter or margarine; Apricot, Plum, Blackberry and Raspberry preserves or ‘all-fruit’ spreads, or , if you can find it, Pomegranate Molasses.

Pomegranate molasses, ( or sauce), is not very sweet. It has a wonderful flavor, but I like to add a little honey, syrup or sweetener of some sort, even stevia. You can even mix it with any of the fruit spreads, or with a little sesame oil.

If you are daring, you can use commercial Asian Sweet Chili Sauce instead of a fruit glaze.

Toss in walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, or pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds with the meat or substitute. You might want to use a little sesame oil to fry the meat/meat substitutes if you are using sesame seeds, (it is strong and a little goes a long way). If you have any nut oils, you can also use a small amount of them to sear the meat/meat substitutes; it makes them even more special. See my post on Oils in the October 6, 2013 archive.

[Do you have someone with nut allergies or want to stretch out your budget? You can get a fantastic result from roasting chickpeas, (garbanzo beans). Use canned, left over or cook them until soft but firm, (see one of my first posts on beans in the August archives August 24, 2012), then roast them in your oven, turning them occasionally, until they are browned and dry. When cooled, crush them. You can place them in a closed container in the refrigerator or a zip-close bag in your freezer to use when needed. It adds a nut-like flavor and texture, and puts an extra protein punch, as do the nuts.]

Add a very little water to ‘degaze’ the pan in which you have cooked by heating it to boiling and scraping what remains in the pan into a container with your meat/meat substitute. What is comes from the pan will keep your meat moist and add extra flavor when added to the salad, along with the dressing.

There are some lovely commercial Raspberry vinaigrettes on the market and some beautiful infused vinegars to make your own dressing, ( I love pear-infused vinegar!). Again, you can use nut oils to make it extra special, but peanut, grapeseed or regular olive oil are really all you need.

I eat so much of this that I have prepared meat and meat substitutes in the freezer, ready to be thawed and used when I am hungry, or for guests. I often grab leftovers and glaze them before others can make a sandwich (Don’t worry; no one goes hungry here!)

Here’s how one of mine looked:

Gourmet dinner salads:easy, inexpensive, impressive!

Gourmet dinner salads:easy, inexpensive, impressive!

I prefer to use green salad, with any combination of :
Iceberg/bib/Romaine/leaf lettuce
Kale
Spinach
Onion, scallions/leeks
Bok Choy/cabbage
Celery/celery root
Broccoli
Fresh String/Sugar Snap beans /Snowpea pods

Feel free to add carrots, sliced peppers, cucumbers or
Roasted Cauliflower

I generally add chow mein noodles or croutons to round out the meal and add a carbohydrate. I sometimes use prepared wild rice or even hash brown potatoes cooked very dry, and you may want to use these if you are wheat sensitive.

I hope you try this. It is healthy, easy, inexpensive, gourmet-quality food and you can even use up your leftovers making it! Impress yourself and your guests!