Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Aquafaba Mayo

The new year is nearly upon us, and that means it's a great time to learn something new. With this recipe, you will not only learn how to make an emulsion (everyone should know how), you will learn how to make an emulsion using the liquid from a can of beans (also know as aquafaba).

Trust me, making an emulsion is fun. (Really.) Maybe you got a new immersion blender from Santa. If so, lucky you, you are ready to go!

Use the liquid from a can of beans to make this amazing, light, flavorful mayo! Allergy friendly, dairy-free, and egg-free. Recipe found at Learning to Eat Allergy-FreeThe method to make aquafaba mayonnaise is exactly the same as with flaxseed mayonnaise, but considerably more oil is needed when using aquafaba – about two times as with flaxseed mayonnaise. (In flaxseed mayonnaise I used two flaxseed eggs to ¾ cup oil – here I am using the equivalent of one “aquafaba egg.” And aquafaba has a citrusy flavor as is – hence just a little bit of acid is needed.

Aquafaba Mayonnaise

¼ cup aquafaba (the liquid from a can of garbanzo beans)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon mustard
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
¾ cup oil

Combine the aquafaba, salt, mustard, and lemon juice in a working glass with an immersion blender. Add the oil in a slow trickle while continuing to run the immersion blender until all of the oil is incorporated.

Mayonnaise made from bean brine. Yes, really! It's egg-free and vegan!

Aquafaba mayo is a bit more akin to a milk mayonnaise than it is to flaxseed or traditional egg mayonnaise – it has a smoother, lighter, almost frothy consistency. I expect it will work quite well in salad dressings (it must be time for me to create something new).

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Chocolate Croissants - Gluten-Free and Vegan

Breakfast on Christmas morning is always special in my house. After opening all those presents from Santa, my boys are hungry! These Chocolate Croissants from Learning to Bake Allergen-Free.are perfect. They can be baked a day or two ahead and warmed up when you are ready to serve them.

You might not be able to have eggs or traditional cereal with milk for breakfast, but yes, you can have chocolate for breakfast with this gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free recipe!

The French refer to chocolate croissants as pain au chocolat. Translated literally, this means “chocolate bread,” and there’s no better place to get it than a street-side café in Paris. Unless of course you need an allergen-free version—in which case you’ll want to make your own at home.

When making a puffed pastry or croissant with traditional ingredients, it’s typical to use puff pastry dough. These are unleavened, made with multiple layers of wheat dough, and lots of butter. The technique to make this dough takes advantage of the gluten in the flour, and results in flaking when baked. Since we’re baking without gluten, my recipe uses yeast to provide some lift. It won’t be as flaky as a croissant made from wheat and butter, but it still gives you that rich, decadent experience you would expect from chocolate bread, and it’s lower in fat.

Makes 8 Croissants

1½ cups gluten-free flour blend (192 grams)
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum (leave out if your flour blend contains xanthan gum)
2¼ teaspoons quick-rising yeast
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup grapeseed oil
¼ cup warm water
1½ teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water (equal to 1 egg)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Up to 3 tablespoons warm water (as needed)
Up to 2 tablespoons additional flour for dusting
¾ cup allergen-free chocolate chips

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Combine the flours, xanthan gum (if needed), yeast, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set it aside.

3. Blend the oil, water, egg replacer mixture, and vanilla together in a large bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, about 1 minute.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing on medium-low speed, until combined.

5. Beat for 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until the dough is pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Add up to 3 tablespoons warm water, ½ tablespoon at a time, as needed.

6. Spread a thin layer of flour on a smooth prep surface. Scoop the dough on top of the flour.

7. Use a bench knife or sharp-edged knife to divide the dough into eight equal-sized cubes.

8. Coat each portion lightly with flour.

9. Use a rolling pin to roll out each cube into a rectangle about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. Place them on the prepared baking sheet.
10. Place chocolate chips in the center third of each rectangle, and fold the flaps over the chocolate. Place a drop of water under the top flap to help it stay in place, and tuck it under so it stays secure.

11. Proof for 35 to 45 minutes.

12. With 5 minutes left to rise, preheat the oven to 350°F.

13. Bake at 350°F for 12 to 16 minutes until the tops are lightly browned and the chocolate is bubbling around the edges.

14. Let the croissants cool completely, and then decorate with chocolate glaze:

Decorating Chocolate Croissants from Learning to Bake Allergen-Free is easy!


• Note that the temperature for baking the croissants is 350°F, lower than most yeast bread recipes. You don’t want to burn the chocolate by baking it at too high a temperature.
• Use your favorite gluten-free flour blend or ¾ cup brown rice flour, ½ cup sorghum flour, and ¼ cup tapioca starch.

Credit line: Recipe from Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts, copyright © Colette Martin, 2012. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

You won't want to wait for these gluten-free Chocolate Croissants to cool, they are so yummy!

Monday, December 21, 2015

And the Winner Is...

The winner of the Gluten-Free Holiday Cookie Exchange Giveaway is:

Brianna Hobbs of Flippin' Delicious

Congratulations Brianna, this gift pack is coming your way:

Don't forget to check out all of the cookies and make your favorite for Santa!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Del Posto – A Restaurant Review

I don’t often post restaurant reviews. I am in the habit of dining out at the same places over and over again (as many of you do). But I have wanted to dine at Del Posto in New York City since I heard them speak at The Allergy Eats Conference for Restaurateurs last fall. It sounded like they were state of the art in dealing with food allergies and I wanted to see for myself. I finally got my chance last weekend.

I’d like to say that my husband surprised me with a day in the city, but the truth is that I made all the plans and informed him of the plans. When I made the reservations at Del Posto I notified them about my allergies (gluten and soy protein) and they seemed quite confident they could handle them.

First, I must make some observations about Del Posto that have nothing to do with food allergies. This is the type of restaurant where they bring you a little stool for your handbag (seriously, the bag I was schlepping around all day would have been fine on the spotless carpeted floor). It’s the type of restaurant where they bring you at least two utensils for each meal and take them away whether they have been used or not. It’s the type of restaurant where your napkin gets folded within 30 seconds of you leaving the table; they pull your chair out for you as you get up to visit the restroom (where did he come from?); they plate the sauces (always arriving in adorable containers) at your table; a bottle never sits on the table (and a glass is never empty); and they give you a clean napkin for dessert. It’s also the type of restaurant where a half-bottle of wine costs more than a case of what I usually drink.

This is a special occasion restaurant. (In addition to allergies, they ask about special occasions when the reservation is made.) Most of the tables near us (and none too near) were occupied by couples, a few with parties of four (two couples). I envision that many a marriage proposal has taken place at Del Posto – it is the type of restaurant where you might get down on one knee.

Now, the food. The first question our server (we actually had about 12 servers, but this one took our order) asked was if we had any allergies or restrictions. When I explained mine, he assured me that there would be no problem. I asked which dishes I might consider and he said, “All of them. We will adapt as needed.” I had perused the menu on the train, and had my eye on the fried calamari appetizer. When I asked about it he said they did it with a rice batter in a dedicated rice oil fryer. Nice!

The primary menu options are a 5-course or an 8-course meal. We chose the 5-course. Each of us could pick an appetizer, we could share two pasta dishes, and we each picked our own “secondi.” I thought that meant that my gluten-eating husband would have to share gluten-free pasta dishes with me, but no! Even though we had the same dish, they made one version with gluten-free pasta for me, and one with wheat pasta for my husband. And they did so graciously.

My one regret is that I wasn’t able to try the gluten-free focaccia (due to soy protein), but there was more than enough food!

We were served a plate of amuse-bouche (this is the type of restaurant where they serve an appetizer before the appetizer) – not one, but three, including this adorable avocado cucumber sandwich. All were safe without the need to adapt.

Without a doubt, my favorite dish was the fried calamari and zucchini. Baby zucchini was sliced on the horizontal and the rice batter and oil crisped everything up beautifully! When I asked more about the dish, I learned that they only make a gluten-free version – everyone who orders it gets the rice batter and oil. In fact, a key to Del Posto being able to successfully serve guests with food allergies is by designing the dishes with as few top allergens as possible. Almost anyone (except those with seafood allergies) would be able to have the calamari.

My pasta dishes each came with the same spiral rice pasta, whereas my husband was able to try some more exotic shapes.

The lobster (my main entrée) was also perfectly prepared, with no need to adapt to remove gluten.

Dessert was the only time where I wasn’t able to choose anything I wanted, but there were at least three gluten-free options. And, this is the type of restaurant where they serve you dessert after dessert, and give you a box of chocolates to take home.

Again, this is a restaurant that you save up to visit, but do go!

While you are here, check out the cookie swap and giveaway in progress.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Gluten-Free Holiday Cookie Exchange: Strawberry Thumbprints and a Cookbook Giveaway

Cookies, cookies, cookies! It's time for the Gluten-Free Cookie Exchange, hosted by Michelle Palin of My Gluten-Free Kitchen. Eighteen gluten-free bloggers are sharing their favorite cookie recipes, and each site is also giving away prizes. What could be better? Make some cookies, share them at your own cookie swap (or save them for yourself and Santa) and enter to win great prizes!

This recipe from The Allergy-Free Pantry is one of my favorites, and definitely worth sharing. And these cookies are not just gluten-free, they are also top-8 allergen-free! No dairy, eggs, nuts, or soy!

Looking for a top-8 allergen-free and gluten-free cookie for the holiday cookie swap? These strawberry thumbprints will wow them, for sure!

Strawberry Thumbprints
Makes about 28 cookies

Make these cookies with Strawberry Jam or another favorite jam. Ask the kids to help; a child’s thumb is just the right size to make thumbprints.

194 grams (about 1½ cups) gluten-free flour blend
½ teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour blend contains a gum)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (110 g) organic cane sugar
10 tablespoons shortening, softened
1 Flaxseed Egg (1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds mixed with 3 tablespoons warm water)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
¼ cup (61 g) Strawberry Jam

1. Combine the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

2. In a separate large bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening using a mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The mixture will be light and fluffy.

3. Add the flaxseed egg and vanilla. Mix for 1 minute on medium speed.

4. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and blend on medium speed, about 2 minutes. The batter will be thick. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and chill it for an hour. Cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

5. When you are ready to make cookies preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Use your hands to shape the dough into balls, about 1¼ inches (3 cm) round.

7. Place the cookies on the baking sheet with space in between and flatten them just slightly. Use the tip of a finger, your thumb, or the back of a small spoon to create a small well in the center of each cookie.

8. Fill the center of each cookie with ¼ teaspoon of jam.

9. Bake each sheet of cookies separately in the center of the oven for 15 to 16 minutes, until the jam centers are sizzling and the edges of the cookies are golden. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

To freeze
Baked cookies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months; thaw them at room temperature. Cookie dough (prepared through step 4) can be frozen for up to 6 months; thaw the dough in the refrigerator before forming cookies, filling with jam, and baking.

Credit line: Recipe from The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks, and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts, copyright © Colette Martin, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

And now for my giveaway:

One lucky reader will win signed copies of Learning to Bake Allergen-Free and The Allergy-Free Pantry. Also included in the prize package will be the most needed kitchen tool when baking gluten-free - a digital kitchen scale for weighing gluten-free flours!

Win these great prizes in the Gluten-free Cookie Exchange and Giveaway!

If you already own my cookbooks, you may choose to have them sent to someone else (or keep the signed versions and give your original copies away).

To enter:

Leave a comment here. Say whatever you like - tell us about your favorite cookie, why you'd like to win my cookbooks, or simply tell a joke. You have until Saturday, Dec 19th, at midnight to enter. The winner will be announced on December 20th. After leaving a comment, get your bonus entries:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And be sure to visit all of the other participating sites and enter their giveaways:

Or click on an image below to be taken to the cookie you crave:

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Cookies Recipe  from Vegetarian Mamma
Gluten-free Vegan Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe from Sarah Bakes Gluten Free
Gluten-free Snickerdoodles Recipe from Only Taste Matters
Gluten Free Vegan Ninjabread Men from Flippin' Delicious
Gluten-free Vanilla Wafers Recipe from gfJules
Gluten-free Cranberry Bliss Oatmeal Cookies Recipe from Making It Milk Free
Gluten-free Strawberry Thumbprints Recipe from Learning to Eat Allergy-Free
Gluten-free Holiday Sandwich Cookie Assortment Recipes from Go Dairy Free
Gluten-free Cranberry Lime Cornmeal Cookies Recipe from Cafe Johnsonia
Gluten-free Caramel Hot Chocolate Cookies Recipe from Faithfully Gluten Free
Gluten-free No Bake S'mores Cookies Recipe from My Gluten-free Kitchen
Gluten-free Dairy-free Sugar Cookies Recipe from Allergy Free Alaska
Gluten-free Pfeffernusse Recipe from Fearless Dining
Gluten-free Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cookies Recipe from Maebells
Gluten-free Flourless Chocolate Pecan Cookies Recipe from Around My Family Table
Gluten-free Chocolate Gingerbread Bars Recipe from Gluten-Free Palate
Gluten-free Snickerdoodles Recipe from Gluten-Free Homemaker
Gluten-free Christmas Wreath Cookies Recipe from Gluten-free Frenzy
Image Map

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

BFree Breads and Rolls - Product Review

I have been long been on a search for the best gluten-free rolls on the planet. To date, the best I have found are served at a couple of my favorite restaurants. But alas, they contain eggs. The same is true with packaged breads and rolls. The best gluten-free options contain eggs. I understand why they use eggs; eggs make baking much easier. But if you are allergic to eggs that leaves you with very limited options... until now.

The folks at BFree Foods contacted me to ask if I would like to sample their products. I was very happy to receive their pitch because for the past month I've been inundated with requests to review products and/or post recipes that contain nuts, or dairy, or even wheat. (These of course went straight to the trash bin.) But BFree had a product that was gluten-free and top-8 allergen-free and promised to be yummy. Bingo!

 Disclosure: BFree sent me complimentary samples of their products to try.

BFree was born in Ireland and is now starting to distribute their products in the US. Products include bread, bagels, rolls, and wraps. Each product type comes in two varieties -- white/plain and seeded. The seeds used vary by product but include sunflower, quinoa, poppy, flaxseed, and chia.

I have gotten used to searching for gluten-free bread in the frozen section, but BFree products will be on the shelves. And I am accustomed to keeping my bread in the fridge, but BFree bread can be stored at room temperature. And I am so used to having to toast my gluten-free bread before making a sandwich. There is no need to toast with BFree breads, but I have to admit I do like the rolls warmed up!

Best of all, these breads are totally awesome. They are soft and pliable and truly delicious.

BFree did something with the breads that I think might be genius -- they sliced the long way instead of the usual short way. No more wimpy slices. Why didn't I think of that?

So now, my sandwich can fill up the plate. Or, in my son's case, only one sandwich is needed instead of two.

I have a new favorite bread. I think you are going to love it too!