Wednesday, August 27, 2014

BBB - Polenta Bread, Corn Free version

Okay, the food allergy hiatus has been difficult, but it's time to start baking again.  Perfect BBBuddy recipe for us this month.  School is starting next week and I really prefer my bread to the spelt bread we can find at the store.  Spelt is okay for our wheat sensitivity and we've been avoiding the baker's yeast for a long enough elimination time.  The nice thing is, this recipe only uses a tiny amount of yeast incorporated into a walnut sized biga and then another tiny bit the next day.  Good way to start.  I used coarsely ground millet for my polenta, yielding a very nice "millenta" that looked just like the real thing.  Millet also has a mild corn flavor and is my go to seed for any corn type bread.  I used instant yeast, it's what I keep on hand, and white spelt for this recipe.  The dough was fairly slack and I did end up adding another half cup of flour as spelt requires less water for equivalent results.  I could have cut back the water even more.  But the loaves turned out delicious, crusty and chewy, which is what my kids love.  The only other thing I changed was using 3 tsp instead of 4 tsp salt.  It was very nicely salty and I'm glad I didn't use the full 18g.  Delicious bread warm, cool, toasted...  Check out the BBB host kitchen's hilarious post about Glow-in-the-Dark Polenta Bread!

Polenta Bread
makes two loaves

The afternoon before:
tiny Biga
9 g water
1/16 tsp active dry yeast
11 g unbleached all-purpose flour (white spelt)

The evening before:
60 g water
1/16 tsp active dry yeast
all of the Biga
100 g unbleached all-purpose flour (white spelt)

The morning of:
Polenta (Millenta)
35 g cornmeal a.k.a. polenta, coarsely ground (millet for corn-free, I used 55g because it needed to be used up and it gave me a nice, thick "millenta".)
175 g cold water

The morning of:
390 g water
1/8 tsp active dry yeast
265 g unbleached all-purpose flour (white spelt)
335 g unbleached bread flour (white spelt) all of the starter
18 g salt (I only used 12g which was a full tbsp and perfect.  Another tsp would have been too salty for us.)
all of the cooled polenta (millenta)
cornmeal, for garnish (millet flour) 

Tiny Biga: In the early afternoon of the day before you are baking the bread, whisk the yeast with warm water in a smallish bowl until it has dissolved. Using a wooden spoon and/or your hands, mix in the small amount of flour until it is smooth. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter, out of drafts, to ferment.

Cute as a button little walnut sized biga.  Of course it happily filled the bottom of the bowl by the next day.

Starter: In the evening of the day before you are baking the bread, whisk the starter yeast with warm water in a medium-sized bowl until it has dissolved. Add the tiny biga that should be bubbling nicely. Using a wooden spoon and/or your hands, mix in the starter amount of flour until you have a smooth lump of dough. 

Polenta: In the morning of the day you are baking the bread, pour cold water into a small pot on the stove at medium high heat. Add the polenta and using a wooden spoon, cook, stirring constantly until the mixture if thick - about 5 minutes. Once the polenta is made, remove it from the pot to a plate or shallow container and put it into the fridge to cool.

Mixing the dough: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the dough yeast with warm water until it has dissolved.
Add the starter (that should have doubled and be quite bubbly). Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flours and salt. It might be pretty sloppy. Or not. It might just be shaggy.

Kneading: Lay the cooled polenta on top of the dough. Plunge in with your hands to turn and fold the dough in the bowl, kneading until it's smooth (5 to 10 minutes). When the dough is smooth, cover the bowl with a plate to rest.

See, that millet cooks up just like polenta!

After about 20 minutes, turn and fold the dough a few times. Notice that it is significantly smoother. Cover the bowl with a plate and set it aside in the oven with only the light turned on to rise until it has doubled. Don't worry if it is quite sloppy. If it rises earlier than you expect, simply deflate the dough and allow it to rise again. This will just strengthen the dough. 

Shaping: When you are ready to shape the bread, turn it out onto a lightly floured board and divide it into 2 pieces. Trying not to disturb the bubbles too much, shape into two rounds. Liberally spray the tops of the shaped loaves with water. Cover them with cornmeal. Put each loaves seam-side up in a banneton, tightly woven basket or colander. Cover each one with a mixing bowl or plastic and allow them to rise on the counter until almost double. (I shaped mine round on parchment and dusted with millet flour, covering with a cloth to rise.) 

Preheat: Put a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 220-230ºC.  (I baked at 375º F and would go up to 400º next time.) 

Slashing: Turn each loaf out of its container onto a square of parchment paper. Using a very sharp knife (or a razor or lamé if you have one), starting at the center of the loaf and holding the blade almost horizontally, carve a spiral into each loaf. Try not to freak out if the spirals look like vicious circles. 

Baking: Liberally spray the tops of the loaves with water. Using a peel, slide them onto the hot stone and bake for about 30-40 minutes, turning them around once half way through baking, to account for uneven oven heat. The crust should be quite dark and the internal temperature should be around 96ºC. Allow the baked bread to cool completely before cutting into it. It's still baking inside!

(inspiration: Della Fattoria's Polenta Bread on p.118-119 in "Artisan Baking Across America: the Breads, the Bakers, the Best Recipes" by Maggie Glezer)

This tasty bread will go up for Yeastspotting!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gluten Free Lofthouse Style Sugar Cookies

Turns out, a wheat sensitivity runs in the girls in our family.  All of us.  And since there are quite a few gluten sensitive folks at church and we have a potluck coming up, I've been experimenting with some new gluten free recipes rather than just falling back to spelt.  I have been very happy with all of them so far, which include a chocolate chip from Barefeet in the Kitchen, a Nutella chocolate chip oatmeal cookie, and a frosted Lofthouse style soft sugar cookie.  Those last are the ones I will share today since they are so popular in all the grocery stores but have such a horrendous ingredient list.  I have made gluten full versions of these that are also delicious, but a good gluten free version is harder to turn out.  Even hubby said these were great.  Be sure to chill the dough for a few hours in order to properly hydrate the flours or the cookies will tend to be gritty.  The dough may be a bit soft at first, but it will firm up nicely in the fridge.

Gluten Free Iced Soft Sugar Cookies
makes 2½ dozen

1 cup butter, melted
1 cup evaporated cane sugar
½ cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup sweet sorghum flour
1/3 cup millet flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
1 cup oat flour
1¾ tsp baking powder (gluten free brand)
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp xanthan gum
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract

2½ cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp + 2 tsp butter, melted
1½ tsp vanilla
3-4 tbsp milk
optional: food color and sprinkles

Combine all the flours, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum in a bowl and set aside.  Melt butter and mix in the sugar.  Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.  Mix in the eggs, one at a time, then add the extracts.  Beat for a minute.  Add the dry ingredients in a few batches and mix well for a minute or so.  The dough should be soft but not incredibly sticky.  Shape the dough into a long log on a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper, and roll up to cover.  Chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours or overnight until quite firm.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Take out the chilled dough and slice off rounds about ½" thick and set about an inch apart on the baking sheet.  Rotate the log as you cut to maintain the round shape.  My log was about 2½" in diameter.  Bake the cookies for 8-11 minutes until puffed and set but not browned.  (My oven took exactly 11 minutes for my size cookies.)  Remove and let set on the baking sheet for a minute or so to firm up before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the icing by combining the powdered sugar, melted butter and vanilla.  Add milk until the icing is desired frosting consistency.  Add food color if desired and frost the cooled cookies with about 1½ tsp of icing each.  If using sprinkles, frost the cookies individually and sprinkle each one as you go or the icing will crust over and not hold the sprinkles.

Now, these cookies are fine like this, but they are even better if you can let them rest for a few hours or overnight in an airtight container in the fridge.  Then they will be really soft and moist like the store variety.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Corn Free Chocolate Pudding - no cook

I have tried unsuccessfully, so far, to come up with a cooked pudding that does not use corn starch.  Tapioca starch is too gummy and arrowroot does not like dairy.  I know a blend is the way to go, so I am branching out into blends of starches and maybe some wheat free flours.  I'll keep working on it.  But in the mean time, I loved this avocado based chocolate pudding that I first saw on Comfy Belly, years ago.  I used more sweetener to taste but that is up to your personal sweet tooth!  I can tell you that this pudding makes the most amazing chocolate mousse when you fold in some whipped cream.  Oh my goodness, decadence.  Try out this super rich and satisfying treat, it's got lots of healthful fat and vitamins in it.  ☺

Instant Chocolate Pudding
Makes 3 servings

2 medium avocados (about 2 cups worth)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ cup maple syrup (anywhere from ½ c +2 tbsp to ¾ c + 2 tbsp works)
1 tsp vanilla
Mini chocolate chips for garnish (or fresh berries!)

Optional: sweetened whipped cream to fold in to finished pudding for chocolate mousse.

Add avocado, cocoa, syrup and vanilla to a food processor.  Pulse to combine.  Scrape and mix again until fully combined and creamy.  Scrape pudding into a bowl and chill for an hour.  Or less.  Garnish as desired or fold in whipped cream for an even more decadent treat!

I don't have a pretty picture of the mousse, it didn't last long enough to make it to a bowl or cup!  But here it is in process:

Adapted very closely from Comfy Belly.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Favorite Pancakes

It's the name of the recipe in the cookbook:  Favorite Pancakes.  And that's just what they are to us.  R calls them "hooray fluffy pancakes!"  The cookbook is for one or two person recipes so I almost always double or triple it unless I am making them just for the girls.  At one point, I lost the cookbook, which had been given to me by a family friend as a going off to college present.  Had to order another copy and fortunately used copies were available since it was published in the late 60s.  I still haven't found the first one, though I know it is in the house somewhere.  It's now promised to my Mom and Dad, who are empty nesters.  Though I'm happy to share the recipe, I must admit that I am posting it mostly for my own benefit.  I don't ever want to lose this pancake recipe again!  That lovely yellow color is from the duck eggs I used this time, but regular chicken eggs work just fine and are what I use most often.  I just happened to find out I am allergic to chicken eggs.  And chocolate.  And cane sugar, apples, citrus, potatoes, coconut, wheat, corn, soy, onions and garlic.  I refuse to give up onions and garlic.  My allergy antigens will just have to overcome that sensitivity more slowly than if I eliminated.  At least I can have spelt flour.  I keep reminding myself it's only a short term elimination geared toward resetting tolerances and healing.  One thing I learned about pancake batter only recently is that not only can you over mix, you can also under mix.  Bring the batter together more than you would for say a muffin batter.  A few lumps are okay, but combine it pretty well.  Then you will get those lovely diner edges and finish from the first pancake to the last.

Favorite Pancakes
adapted from Cooking for Two
serves 4

1 1/3 cups light spelt flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tbsp oil or melted butter
1 tbsp maple syrup

 Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Combine milk, eggs, oil and syrup; add to dry ingredients, stirring to fully moisten and leave a few lumps.  Bake on a hot, lightly greased griddle.  Makes 10-12 pancakes.

These pancakes freeze wonderfully and reheat in the toaster for school mornings!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Oregon Clam Chowder for Daddy

After a trip down to the coast where hubby and I got to do our once a year two days to ourselves, and a new tomato sensitivity diagnosis for S, I decided it was time to re-visit New England clam chowder.  We eat clam chowder just about every day when visiting Astoria, Seaside and Cannon Beach, and the delicious cups of soup particularly from the Pig 'n Pancake are still fresh in our minds. We have also been testing my youngest for food sensitivities the past couple weeks.  So far my poor girl will have to avoid wheat, soy, corn, eggs, tomato and yeast.  Next test will be rice and potatoes.  (Oh please let them be negative!)  Still, after only two weeks of avoiding those foods, her school performance and behavior has improved 200%.  We have been through this once before with R, who was originally sensitive to soy, corn, dairy, eggs, tomato, potato, rice and yeast.  We just traded wheat for dairy this time.  Fortunately they still allow spelt!  It's hard to lose the tomatoes though, since we love them in our soups and both girls eat them like apples.  So the other night I was looking to make soup and didn't want to fall back on chicken noodle.  The weather said chowder and I happened to have all the ingredients necessary.  This version turned out even better than my previous one and hubby gave it two thumbs up.  It is not super thick like the Pig's chowder, but it is nicely clammy, rich and creamy with great flavor.  If you don't happen to have bacon grease on hand, you can fry up a few slices to snack on or freeze and use that rendered grease, or just substitute butter.

Oregon Coast Clam Chowder
serves 6

2 tsp bacon grease
½ onion, chopped
½ onion, finely diced
6 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, pressed
5 stalks celery, finely diced
fresh ground black pepper
6 tbsp spelt flour or all purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
½ tsp sea salt

3 cans (6.5 oz each) chopped clams in their juice (if you're on the coast and it's clam season, use fresh clams!)
2 bottles (8 oz each) clam juice
3 medium potatoes, cubed (yukon or russet work fine)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
½ tsp dried dillweed

Melt the bacon grease in a saucepan over medium heat.  Saute the first half an onion, chopped, until tender.  Remove and set aside.  Now melt the butter in the same pan.  Add the second half an onion, finely diced, garlic, celery and a good grind of pepper, about ¼ tsp.  Cook and stir for about 7 minutes until the celery is tender and the onion is translucent.  Stir in the flour and cook for a minute.  Add the chicken broth, salt and milk.  Bring to a boil.  Cook for a minute or so until thickened.  If you prefer a thicker chowder, try increasing the flour to a full ½ cup to get a very thick cream soup base.

While the celery and onion mixture is cooking, pour the clam juice in another pot and simmer with the potatoes for about 10-15 minutes, gently stirring on occasion to prevent sticking.  If there isn't enough liquid to cover the potatoes, add the juice from the clams as well.  When the celery mixture is thickened, add the potatoes and clam juice, and the reserved onions.  Add the milk, cream, and dillweed and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender.  Stir in the clams and cook until heated through.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Red and Green Enchiladas with Homemade Flour Tortillas

The other day I was lamenting the fact that I could not find the one single brand of spelt tortilla I had ever seen in stores that did not have allergens in it for R.  That means in particular, no corn, corn derivatives or soy.  So I went back through my Pinterest boards, remembering that I had pinned a promising flour tortilla recipe within the last few months.  I found it and tried it out.  And it was a total winner!  They are called Best Ever Homemade Flour Tortillas and they did not disappoint.  I made mine with white spelt flour and coconut oil.  (That's refined oil with no coconut flavor.)  It took about ¼ cup plus two tbsp extra flour to get the dough to the proper smooth state, not too sticky.  That's the nature of spelt.  That dough is deliciously soft!  I love the Café Sucré Farine blog and highly recommend checking it out.  Here is how my tortillas turned out:

They were mostly around seven inches.  I did flatten them with a tortilla press the first time instead of my hands.  Then they pull back into a nice round patty of about four inches.  After resting, they roll out thin very easily.  I used half the batch for tonight's enchiladas, the rest I froze for later.

The other cool find I had was an enchilada sauce that was also allergen friendly.  A brand called Frontera that so far, I have only seen at Whole Paycheck.  I got one red and one green to try and decided to do both at once tonight.  Hubby liked the green best but liked the red as well.  The girls chose red and didn't try the green, but since they cleaned their plates and each ate an entire enchilada, I am assuming it was very good for them.  They have never eaten the tortilla out of an enchilada type casserole or dish when I used store bought, only picked out the filling.  One more super win for the homemade tortillas.  As a matter of fact, S ate the tortilla first and then the filling after some prompting.  Once she tasted it though, she cleaned her plate too.  We are all happily stuffed tonight.  The sauce is lightly spicy but not too much for my girls.  Hubby could have put some green tabasco on the green side but was happy without as well.  You can always use pepper jack cheese and hot salsa if you like it hotter.  I dressed up a bechamel to make it just a touch cheesy and add to the enchilada sauce.  When asked if this was a make again dish, hubs said, "Yes, definitely - preferably on a Friday when we can have leftovers for lunch on the weekend."  Everyone was "starving" tonight and dinner disappeared so fast I only got one quick phone photo of the finished dish!

(Next day, 6 year old S is begging for leftover enchiladas for her dinner.  One of each.  Well, one half of each, she is only 6!)

Two-tone Enchiladas
serves 6

8 7" flour tortillas, homemade recommended

1 lb grassfed ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 4oz can diced green chilies
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp chili powder or southwest seasoning
pinch turmeric (optional)

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
¼ tsp turmeric (optional)
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup salsa
2 8oz pouches enchilada sauce, green or red or both

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¾ cup shredded jack cheese
small can sliced olives

Saute the ground beef and onions in a large pan until the beef is browned and the onions are tender.  Mix in the beans, chilies, salt, cumin, chili powder and turmeric.  Set aside, off the heat.  

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour.  Cook and stir for a minute until foaming.  Take off the heat and slowly add milk, stirring or whisking constantly until smooth.  Return to heat and cook until mixture boils and thickens slightly.  Add in the salt, pepper and turmeric.  Remove from heat and stir in the ½ cup cheese until melted.  Then stir in the salsa.  If using one kind of enchilada sauce, combine it all with the cheese sauce.  If using both red and green, divide the cheese sauce in two and add separately to the sauces.  Stir 1 cup of the sauce back into the filling, ½ cup each of red and green sauce.  Spread ½ cup of sauce over the bottom of a 9x13" baking dish, ¼ cup each of red and green on each half of the pan.  Warm the tortillas slightly to roll easier, and divide the filling evenly among them.  Roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish.

Once the enchiladas are all lined up in the pan, top with the remaining sauce, one color on each half.  Mix the cheddar and jack cheeses together and sprinkle over the top of the sauce.  Then spread the olives evenly over as well.  Cover the dish with foil and bake at 375ºF for 35 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until done to your liking.  Let sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro if you want to be fancy.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Here is another catch up recipe that is very appropriate since Easter is only about a week away.  Sweet and That's It is where you can find great step by step pictures on how to make it.  And it was originally posted by one of the BBB right here in 2008.  It's funny that I've never made challah before, because we love egg bread.  I'm sure I've made something similar.  The girls loved this version, not as sweet or rich as some challahs I've seen, but so soft and spongy that they went through half a loaf in one sitting.  The recipe makes two loaves so I decided to do one in the traditional braid and one in a loaf pan.  They both turned out beautiful and I'll definitely make them again.  Might try a more enriched version next to see which we prefer.  I think this one will keep better.  If we have any leftovers, and that is a big IF, I understand that this makes the most marvelous french toast.  An egg bread for an eggy bread.  Perfect.  Since I used spelt flour for my loaf, I did not beat the batter for minutes at a time.  I added by portions as it was worked in and only kneaded until the dough was smooth and elastic.  Just a few minutes for spelt.  And while this is traditionally a fancy braided bread, it made a great sandwich style loaf as well.

makes 2 loaves

5½-6½ cups flour (I used light spelt, kamut and potato flour)
3 tbsp sugar
1½ tsp sea salt
1 pkg active dry yeast (I used 2 tsp instant yeast)
½ cup butter, softened (I used half butter, half greek yogurt)
pinch of powdered saffron (I used threads)
1 cup warm water
4 eggs, room temperature, divided
1 tsp cold water
poppy seeds for topping

Combine 1¼ cup of flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl.  Mix in the softened butter (and yogurt if using).  Stir the saffron into the warm water until it dissolves and wait for it to cool down a bit (100-110°F).  Add the saffron water slowly to the flour mixture and blend thoroughly.  Beat for about 2 minutes with an electric mixer (or in the stand mixer) at medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally.  (I did this part in the bread machine.)  Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Reserve the yolk for the egg wash.  Blend the egg white and the other 3 eggs into the batter.  Stir ½ cup flour into the batter and beat at high speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.  Blend in enough additional flour to make a soft dough.  Knead the dough on a lightly floured board for 8 to 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.  Cover the dough and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place until double in bulk (about one hour).

To shape the dough, flour a pastry board or cloth lightly and set the dough on it.  Divide dough in half and cover one piece.  You can either do a 6 strand braid as I did, (google for directions), or do a stacked regular 3 strand braid.  Use 2/3 dough for the base and 1/3 for the top.  Tuck the ends under for a nice finish.  Repeat braiding with second piece of dough.  Place the loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Mix the reserved egg yolk with the 1 tsp cold water and brush the top of the loaves with the mixture.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds and let rise covered with plastic wrap or a towel until almost double, in a warm draft free place (about 1 hour).  Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400°F.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until done.  Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Back to the Future, Buddies

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