Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chinese Style Cucumbers

There's a particular popular Chinese restaurant chain that makes the best cucumber salad that my husband and I always share. And fight over. These are so light, cool, and refreshing. Even better, so easy to make at home with only a few ingredients. It only takes five minutes to make this tasty cucumber salad. I use English cucumbers since they have minimal seeds. Remember, keep that skin on for maximum nutritional content and awesome color appeal, and less work.

Chinese Style Cucumbers:


1 tablespoon (gluten-free) soy sauce or tamari (I like San-J)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili sauce of your choice (I used Sambal)
1 English cucumber
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (white &/or black)

  •  In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, agave, sesame oil, and chili sauce.
  • Cut the ends off the cucumber. Cut into quarters length-wise and then cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Place into bowl with sauce and toss until covered.
  • Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and enjoy immediately.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we're focusing on here is the humble cucumber! We all need to keep cool as a cucumber with the peak of hot summer upon us.  Here are other delicious features on cucumbers:

What's Gaby Cooking: Cucumber, Herb and Pita Salad
Ingredients, Inc.: Easiest Cucumber Salad
Virtually Homemade: Cucumber Strawberry Cooler
From My Corner of Saratoga: Marinated Cucumber Salad
The Cultural Dish: Pasta With Roasted Shrimp and Cucumbers
Daily*Dishin: Southern Benedictine - Creamy Cucumber Spread
Delicious Lean: Cucumber Jicama Salad
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cucumber and Avocado Open-Face Sandwiches
And Love It, Too: Fermented Spicy Garlic-Dill Cukes and Zukes
FN Dish: No-Cook Cucumber Recipes
Cooking With Elise: Wedge Salad With Cucumber-Ranch Dressing

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

English Sandwich Bread (gluten-free & egg-free)

Bread remains the holy grail in the gluten-free world. With good reason. Gluten proves critical in achieving everything we know as bread. Karen of "Cooking Gluten-Free!" posed us the bread challenge this month for the brave and few who are willing to have a many failures before producing a success one can be happy with. In professional baking, I was taught that there are two kinds of bread: a lean yeast dough, in which no fat, oil, nor eggs are used like baguette, boule, rolls etc.; and a lean yeast bread which does have fat and/or oil like brioche, challah, etc. For those of us developing recipes for gluten-free breads that are palatable with a good texture, we will use anything we can.

The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally is a group of GF bloggers, rallied by Shauna of, where we put our on spin a a culinary standard. These culinary standards are known formulas, ratios, that professionals use. The caveat is that everything is done by weight, since weight is more standardized and much more accurate than measuring by volume. This is the foundation of the GFreeRally as started and explained by Gluten-Free Girl here. The book that we base our ratios is Michael Ruhlman's Ratio. The ratio for bread he defines as 5 parts flour : 3 parts water, with a scant amount of yeast and salt. My ratio for this bread was 2 parts flour : 3 parts water. However, it's not that cut and dry. Now, time for the science:

Let's talk about the properties of gluten in bread. Gluten plays several different roles. Of course, we know it builds the elasticity and chewiness of the dough. Imagine a ball of intertwined rubber bands; that is how gluten behaves. Therein, imagine how that tight gluten network acts as a selective membrane, retaining the carbon dioxide that is produced in fermentation. While baking the gluten network slowly releases water as vapor in the baking process. These both result in the air pockets in crumb. Another important aspect of gluten is how it serves as the outer member, that is, the crust. When making a gluten-free bread, all of these properties need to be mimicked obviously without using gluten. The caveat is that there is nothing out there exactly like gluten.

Yes, there are gums such as xanthan and guar. Gums act as rheology modifiers, that is, they will thicken water-based batters and doughs. They are not elastic and plastic in the same way that gluten is. Yes, by definition xanthan can act "pseudoplastic" in a liquid medium (think store-bought salad dressings) but this property disappears once baked (into a solid). They prevent the ingredients from separating, keeping everything cohesive. Both are very effective at low concentrations, 0.5% or lower (for xanthan) by weight. Xanthan is effective at room temperature, but guar needs a little heat to activate. Keep in mind that guar gum degrades in a low pH and high temperature environment.

Ways to build in gluten-like properties is a fine balance of what every ingredient brings in to the final recipe/formulation. Yes, a gellant or thickener I find critical whether it's a gum or a gellant such as flaxseed/linseed, chia seed, or hemp seed. Another aid I rely on is a type of colloid, keeping everything evenly distributed in both the wet form and after it's baked. Psyllium husk is a very effective hydrocolloid, as well as adding fiber. Other great hydrocolloids are agar, gelatin, carrageenan, pectin, gums (xanthan, guar, locust bean), cellulose, alginate, and starch (corn, potato, tapioca, etc.).

Different flours, starches, materials/ingredients have different absorption rates and capacities. It varies greatly, as I'm sure the ratios we all came up with are different. A good example we can all relate to is the amount of water it takes to cook white rice versus brown rice. Generally speaking, gluten-free ingredients require more water than the "regular" gluten-filled counterpart for the same consistency. When switching out ingredients, adjusting the liquid is usually needed. This can play a big role in how wet or dry the crumb is. I know I have seen extremes at both ends of the spectrum of gluten-free breads. It takes a lot of fine tuning to get the how system right.

In making gluten-free bread, the 12-steps for bread-making can be reduced down to only 6 steps. Since there is no gluten to work up and relax, there is no work involved there. Since the gluten-free system is more delicate, not needing to punch out excess gas, Once it the dough is mixed, it can be panned/shaped only once to leave for one solid proofing time before heading straight into the hot oven for baking. 

My bread for this challenge is an English style sandwich bread. What makes it so? First off, this is recipe that has been modified by British pastry chef extraordinaire, Dan Lepard. (I made a couple of modifications: added more water to make into a sandwich bread rather than more of a rustic bread, requiring a bread pan; the amount of flax, and grinding it; and an option to use a (non-diary) milk with a touch of vinegar; and modifications in the procedure.) Second, throughout the UK, Ireland, and Europe, all the gluten-free bread is based on cornflour also know as cornstarch here in the USA. Cornstarch works wonders for getting the moisture content just right. This bread is big, fluffy, chewy, satisfying, elegant. What makes it elegant, different? The crumb is lavender! Yes, a beautiful light purple interior that sets it apart. It looks great for a sandwich. What makes is lavender? There's a complex reaction between trace amounts of iodine with starch, known as the iodine test, which Dan helped give me this insight. I made several different iterations of using non-iodized salt, changing my diary from cow to goat (goat is supposed to be iodine-free), to cutting out the salt all together. Turns out there's a significant amount of iodine in diary products. This reaction is so sensitive, requires only 0.00002M amount of iodine, that just thinking about iodine will turn is lavender. Why not embrace it, be different. Just like those of us who have to eat gluten-free. Different can be good, very good.

(Please refer to Dan Lepard's Original Recipe in BBC Food) See below for modifications:

30 grams golden flax seeds (whole)
10 grams SAF yeast
5 grams sugar
675 grams/mL warm water
100 grams natural plain yogurt (or milk + 20 grams cider vinegar) of your choice
7 grams (1 teaspoon) non-iodized salt

(Please refer to Dan Lepard's Original Recipe in BBC Food) See below for modifications: 
  • Heat the oven to 350F and toast the flax seeds for 8-10 minutes until they darken slightly. Grind immediately in a small processor, mortar/pestle, etc. Then whisk into the liquids mixture, below. They will have this beautiful, deep, nutty aroma. Do NOT use flax meal, as for it can go rancid quickly. And the quality of how the flax plays to overall quality of bread is critical.
  • In a large bowl, scale in the yeast, sugar, yogurt, and water. Whisk well. Add in the toasted, ground, flax meal. Whisk again. Whisk in the olive oil.
  • In a separate large bowl, scale in the cornflour, salt, and psyllium. Mix well.
  • Add the liquids to the flours with immediate and thorough mixing for about 5 minutes. At first it will be very liquid/runny, but will build up to be very thick.
  • Turn into an oil-sprayed/coated, large bread pan. Level out the dough. Put a thin coat of olive oil on top and cover with plastic wrap in a way so it can expand, but covered and no excess air. (Fermentation does not like air).
  • Allow to proof/ferment at room temperature for 60 minutes.
  • At this point, preheat the oven to 450F (make sure you have an oven thermometer to double check your oven temperature), and allow the bread to proof for an additional 15-30 minutes during the pre-heat.
  • Remove the plastic wrap, and place in the center of the hot oven. Bake for 60 minutes. Do NOT open the oven door. Not even a tiny crack! All this heat is critical to the initial rise of the bread. Every time you open the oven door, 50 to 100 degrees are lost.
  • Cool on wire rack before slicing. Don't be tempted to cut into it sooner, it will be gooey. The final texture works its way well into the cooling process. Cut and enjoy! If storing, cut as desired, store frozen in airtight container. 
Also, check out Dan Lepard's books on Especially his new one, Short & Sweet.
    -Erin Swing
    The Sensitive Epicure

    Head on over to Karen's host post to see her amazing bread and all the other fantastic recipes brought to you by rally participants this month! Thanks again Karen for hosting a challenge that is difficult but so worth it! Also, if you're on Twitter, search #GFreeRally

    ~Aunt Mae (aka ~Mrs. R) | Honey From Flinty Rocks: Millet Chia Bread & Variations
    Adina | Gluten Free Travelette: Seedy Sandwich Bread
    Angela | Angela's Kitchen: Our Family's Basic Gluten Free Dairy Free Bread   
    Brooke | B & the boy!: Buckwheat-Oat Bread   
    Charissa | Zest Bakery: Cherry Pecan Pot Bread, Gluten Free
    Claire | This Gluten-Free Life: German Vollkornbrot (Seeded Bread)
    Jenn | Jenn Cuisine: Gluten Free Boule
    Jonathan | The Canary Files: Gluten-Free, Vegan Mediterranean Soda Bread
    Karen | Cooking Gluten Free: Gluten Free Sandwich Bread and Gluten Free Naan
    Meaghan | The Wicked Good Vegan: Vegan Gluten-Free Bread
    Meg | Gluten-Free Boulangerie: Ciabatta (gluten-free, egg-free/vegan)
    Monika | Chew on This!: Amaranth Skillet Flatbreads, Amaranth Mini Pita Rounds
    Morri | Meals with Morri: No Knead Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Flatbread (yeast free & grain free)
    Pete & Kelli | No Gluten, No Problem: Gluten-Free Challah
    Rachel / The Crispy Cook: Gluten Free Chickpea Sandwich Bread
    Tara | A Baking Life: Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread & Boule
    TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies: Gluten Free White Bread

    Thursday, May 3, 2012

    Kale Salad with Lemon, Pecorino Romano, and Toasted Walnuts

    Only in the past couple of years have I discovered how awesome kale is. When talking about dark leafy greens, the nutritional powerhouse that is kale resides on top. My favorite way to prepare kale had been making chips out of them. The standard procedure consisted of lightly coating the whole kale leaves, stalk removed, season, and bake in oven at low temperature until crisp. Delicious, but too oily for me to call healthy. Then I kept hearing more about kale salad, where the kale is broken down by acid and then dressed. Hm. I usually steer clear of putting any acid into any green vegetables, knowing that breaks down chlorophyll, along with the nutritional content and flavor, as well as transforming it into a drab olive green.

    Somehow kale salad works on a few different levels. First off, it is delicious. The preparation proves to be super easy without having to cook anything, with the exception of maybe toasting some nuts. This salad gets better upon refrigeration, whereas traditional salads which turn to mush. Even after 4 days of sitting in the fridge, it tasted just as fresh as the first day I made it. I decided to use an Italian approach to this salad, using lemon juice for the acid, lemon zest for brightness, Pecorino Romano cheese (sheep milk, lactose-free), toasted walnuts, and olive oil. My favorite cheese right now is Pecorino Romano, with its perfect balance of salty with that distinctive sheep cheese flavor. This kale salad pairs very well with my socca with za'atar, both in flavors and combining to make a complete protein.

    1 bunch of Lacinato/dinosaur kale
    2 lemons, juice of (zest before juicing)
    1 lemon, zest of
    1 garlic clove, grated
    1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
    1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    salt, pepper, chili flakes to taste

    Wash the kale well. Remove stalk, and chiffonade into thin strips. Place in a large (preferably glass) bowl. Zest one of the lemons, and put aside. Juice both lemons, put 1/2 the juice in with the kale (the other 1/2 set aside) and massage thoroughly with clean hands. Cover bowl and place in fridge.

    In a small bowl, combine the remaining lemon juice, the lemon zest, grated garlic, romano cheese, walnuts, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chili flake. Mix and taste. Adjust seasonings for you preference. Add this dressing to the messaged kale and toss well until completely combined. Store in fridge and serve as needed. Makes 4-6 servings. That simple.

    -Erin Swing
    The Sensitive Epicure

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Mexican Cocoa Brownies with an Almond & Pepitas Crust

    When I think of brownies, I think of dense, fudge-y, chocolate "cake" with that thin layer on top. I love that thin layer on top. So in developing a recipe for a complex brownie, I made sure nothing would be on top. What is that thin layer? People call it a meringue layer: the proteins from the egg whites combining with the sugar and migrating to the top during the baking process. However, I have seen this with vegan brownie recipes I have made. Maybe in general, a film of protein and sugar forming on top. A syneresis as I would call it as a scientist. (A good example is the liquid whey that separates out on top of yogurt.)

    Mary Fran of FrannyCakes hosted this month's Gluten-Free Ratio Rally with brownies as the challenge. The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally is a group of GF bloggers, rallied by Shauna of, where we put our on spin a a culinary standard. These culinary standards are known formulas, ratios, that professionals use. The caveat is that everything is done by weight, since weight is more standardized and much more accurate than measuring by volume. This is the foundation of the GFreeRally as started and explained by Gluten-Free Girl here. The book that we base our ratios is Michael Ruhlman's Ratio. Brownies did not have a predefined ratio by Ruhlman. And since a major ingredient is chocolate with its many forms (solids and cocoa), chocolate needs a special ratio unto itself.

    I decided to go the Mexican spiced chocolate route, using cinnamon, chilis, coffee, nuts, and seeds to add depth and complexity. But at first, I pondered, "How am I going to incorporate the seeds and nuts?" I know, make a crust. This will give a unique texture to the brownies without interfering with that special thin meringue layer and giving an emphasis on what I chose: marcona almonds and pepitas. The marcona almonds are skin-free and make it easier to work with. Given, the crust makes for more work and a double bake with crisping up the crust first, cooling, then adding in the brown batter. So. Worth. It. I bet you have never had a brown like this. My friends told me this is their new favorite. The ratio of these brownie were (roughly) 2 parts eggs : 4 parts sugar : 2 parts butter : 1 part cocoa powder : 0.6 parts flour.

    50 grams marcona almonds
    50 grams pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
    25 grams brown sugar
    25 grams butter, melted and cooled slightly
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    dash of chipotle powder, cayenne
    salt to tast

    200 grams sugar
    200 grams brown sugar
    113 grams natural cocoa powder
    30 grams GF oat flour
    30 grams tapioca flour
    1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
    2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
    1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
    2 teaspoons Nescafe instant coffee
    2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla (if possible)
    4 large eggs (200 grams), room temperature, mixed well
    226 grams (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled

    • Preheat oven to 325F.
    • In a processor, combine the almonds, pepitas, brown sugar, seasonings and pulse until coarse like gravel. Add in the melted butter and pulse again until completely incorporated.
    • Turn out into brownie pan (8"x8") into a thin, 1/4", layer and pack well.
    • Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
    • Remove from oven and allow to cool.
    • In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, flours, seasonings (all the dry ingredients) and mix very thoroughly.
    • Add in the eggs, butter, and vanilla all at once and mix with a wooden or silicone spoon until uniform.
    • Pour the batter evenly and slowly onto the cooled almond and pepitas crust. 
    • Bake for about 35 minutes or until only a tiny amount of chocolate is visible when a toothpick is inserted and removed from the center.
    • Cool on a rack and cut when mostly cooled. Store in a tightly-sealed container in the fridge.
    Trust me, they disappear fast.

    -Erin Swing
    The Sensitive Epicure

    Head on over to Mary Fran's host post to see her amazing popovers and all the other fantastic recipes brought to you by rally participants this month! Thanks again Mary Fran for hosting a chocolate-y delicious challenge! Also, if you're on Twitter, search #GFreeRally

    Adina from Gluten Free Travelette made Chocolate Brownie Pie with Orange Zest
    Angela from Angela's Kitchen made Gluten & Dairy Free Cream Egg Brownies
    Brooke from B & the boy! made Triple Chocolate Brownies
    Caitlin from {Gluten Free} Nom Nom Nom made Peppermint Brownie Bars
    Caleigh from Gluten Free[k] made White chocolate and marshmallow brownies
    Caneel from Mama Me Gluten Free made Triple chocolate brownies
    Charissa Luke from Zest Bakery made Slutty gluten-free brownies
    Claire from My Gluten Free Home PB&J Brownie Whoopee Pies
    Claire from This Gluten-Free Life made St. Patty's Day Marshmallow Swirl Brownies
    gretchen from kumquat made salted caramel brownies
    Heather from Discovering the Extraordinary made Nutmeg Blondies
    Irvin from Eat the Love made Blueberry Citrus Marble Brownies
    Jean from Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes made Blue Ribbon Brownies
    Jenn Cuisine made Grain free brownies with no-bake ricotta cheesecake cream
    Jonathan from The Canary Files made Vegan Marbled Banana Walnut Brownies
    Karen from Cooking Gluten Free! made GF Chewy Crackled Top Brownies with Raspberry Puree
    Mary Fran from FrannyCakes made Gluten-Free Hazelnut (Nutella) Brownies
    Morri from Meals with Morri made Oaxacan Brownies & Mesquite Cacao Blondies
    ~Mrs. R from Honey From Flinty Rocks made Black Bean S'More Brownies
    Pete and Kelli from No Gluten, No Problem made Caramel Mexican Chocolate Mesquite Brownies
    Rachel from The Crispy Cook made Co-Co Nut-Nut Blondies
    Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl made Gluten-Free Brownies
    Tara from A Baking Life Mint made Chocolate Flourless Brownies
    TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies Gluten Free Berry Fudge Brownies 

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Socca with Za'atar & Sumac (Garbanzo Flour Crepes)

    I usually avoid baking with garbanzo bean flour with its strong legume flavor that seem out of place in any sweet baked goods. However, when used in the right culinary applications, legumes prove amazing in taste, texture, and nutritional quality and quantity. About two years ago, I finally made socca for myself. So easy with only water, chickpea flour, and olive oil. Socca (aka farinata, cecina) originated in France and Italy that is an unleavened crepe of chickpea flour. Other relatives to socca can be found in Gibraltar, Argentina, Uraguay, Algeria, and India. Socca can handle aggressive seasoning, such as rosemary and black pepper in France, cumin and harissa in Algeria.

    This month's Gluten-Free Ratio Rally challenge was crepes, hosted by TR from "No One Likes Crumbley Cookies." Crepes usually act as a vehicle for anything sweet or savory. Great challenge. The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally is a group of GF bloggers, rallied by Shauna of, where we put our on spin a a culinary standard. These culinary standards are known formulas, ratios, that professionals use. The caveat is that everything is done by weight, since weight is more standardized and much more accurate than measuring by volume. This is the foundation of the GFreeRally as started and explained by Gluten-Free Girl here. The book that we base our ratios is Michael Ruhlman's Ratio. Ruhlman's crepe ratio is 1/2 part flour : 1 part liquid : 1 part egg.

    I started making the tradition crepe using half buckwheat and half sweet rice flour. It was so delicious! Then the next day I found myself craving socca using strong, exotic flavors. Socca does not fall in line with Ruhlman's crepe ratio. The ratio I used for socca was 1 part flour : 2.2 part liquid with a scant amount of olive oil. The thin batter requires time for the garbanzo flour to hydrate. Speaking of flour, my favorite is "Meera Gram" Indian garbanzo flour which is ground superfine with an amazing fresh flavor. Bob's Red Mill garbanzo flour works well, too but will be a little more course and "rustic." This recipe is great for the most sensitive of us folks: no milk, no eggs, no starch, no grains, no animal products. Simple.

    The most exotic spin on socca comes from the seasonings. I personally have been obsessing over za'atar and sumac lately. Za'atar (za‘tar, zaatar, za'tar, zatar, zatr, zattr, zahatar, zaktar or satar) is a popular spice from the Middle East, usually consisting of an herb such as thyme, oregano, hyssop, or savory and sesame seeds. Sumac is small red berry that is dried and milled to a powder, and is dark red in color. Sumac is very popular in Turkey and the Middle East. The flavor is sour but I find very appealing.

    100 grams garbanzo (Gram) flour
    220 grams warm water
    15 grams (1 Tablespoon) olive oil (more for cooking)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon za'atar
    1/2 teaspoon sumac

    • In a medium/large bowl, scale and mix all the ingredients well. Cover with plastic wrap for a minimum of one hour. (Cook within two hours, or place in fridge to keep safe until ready to cook. Allow to warm to room temperature before cooking.)
    • Heat up an 8" fry pan/skillet over medium heat. Add in 1 teaspoon olive oil and swirl around. Mix up the socca batter and add in 1/2 cup into the skillet. Slowly pick up the skillet and swirl around until the batter has evenly covered the bottom surface of the skillet. (I found this took practice.)
    • Cook undisturbed until bubbles show up throughout the crepe, a couple of minutes. Using a large spatula, carefully flip over and cook other side for a couple of minutes.
    • These keep well in a warm oven, 150F, until all four socca crepes are made and ready to serve.
    I served this with a kale and walnut salad, recipe forthcoming. But can be enjoyed alone, made into a pizza, or sandwich/wrap of your creation. Enjoy!

    -Erin Swing
    The Sensitive Epicure

    Please be sure to check out all of our awesome bloggers and their recipes:

    Adina ~ Gluten Free Travelette ~ Breakfast Crepes Three Ways
    Caitlin ~ {Gluten-Free} Nom Nom Nom ~ Buckwheat Crepes
    Caleigh ~ Gluten Free[k] ~ Banana Cinnamon Crepes
    Claire ~ My Gluten Free Home ~ Victory Crepe Cake 
    Ginger  ~ Fresh Ginger ~ Sweet 'n Savory
    gretchen ~ kumquat ~ nutella crepe cake
    Heather ~ Discovering the Extraordinary ~ "Southwestern" Crepes
    Karen ~ Cooking Gluten-Free! ~ Gluten Free Crepes Savory or Sweet
    Mary Fran ~ FrannyCakes ~ Gluten-free Peanut Butter Crepe Cake
    Morri  ~  Meals with Morri ~ Russian Blini for Two
    Pete and Kelli ~ No Gluten, No Problem ~ Key Lime Crepes
    Shauna ~ gluten-free girl ~ Gluten Free Buckwheat Crepes
    T.R. ~ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies ~ Brownie Crepes with Strawberry Wine sauce
    T.R. ~ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies ~ Basil Tomato and Feta Crepes
    T.R. ~ No One Likes Crumbley Cookies ~ Fresh Fruit Crepe
    Tara ~ A Baking Life ~ Breakfast Crepes with Eggs and Kale
    Jonathan ~ The Canary Files ~ Vegan Crepes for Filipino Spring Rolls
    Rachel ~ The Crispy Cook ~ Raspberries and Cream Crepes
    ~Mrs. R ~ Honey From Flinty Rocks ~ Crepes - Spinach & Dessert

      Wednesday, February 1, 2012


      For this month's Gluten-Free Ratio Rally, Mrs. R of Honey From Flinty Rocks chose popovers. Ah, popovers were a childhood staple in my house. My mother would make a pot roast with popovers on a regular basis. I would sop up the gravy with torn up popovers. I remember my mom's popovers as tall, popping well over the pan, crisp on the outside with a thin exterior, and an almost custard-like interior with lots of nooks and crannies. Perfect to use as a gravy vehicle. Makes sense, considering the English's equivalent is called Yorkshire pudding served alongside with roasts and gravy. Yorkshire pudding is traditionally baked in muffin tins. There is a very specific bake ware pan for popovers, that I find is worth the money and space. The popover pan is tall and thin, giving more rise to popovers. Hence, the name.

      Using some ingenuity based on trial and error from my baking experiments, I applied the pate a choux method to my popovers with incredible results. These popovers are identical to my mother's and gluten-free! They popped over, have an incredible golden color with a delicately crisp exterior, and an interior that is tender with almost a custard-like texture without being gooey. A like piece of nostalgic heaven for me. Now where's that pot roast?

      The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally is a group of GF bloggers, rallied by Shauna of, where we put our on spin a a culinary standard. These culinary standards are known formulas, ratios, that professionals use. The caveat is that everything is done by weight, since weight is more standardized and much more accurate than measuring by volume. This is the foundation of the GFreeRally as started and explained by Gluten-Free Girl here. The book that we base our ratios is Michael Ruhlman's Ratio. Ruhlman's popover ratio is 1 flour : 2 liquid : 1 egg. Mine turned out to be 1 flour : 2.5 liquid : 1.5 egg. For reference, the pate a choux ratio is 1 flour : 2 liquid : 2 egg : 1 fat. In essence, the popover batter can be liquid since it will be contained my the pan. Allowing for more rise. I found that since I cooked the flours with the liquid, it absorbed more than expected, and needed more eggs for the rise and structure as well as more browning. The flours used were sweet rice flour and brown rice flour with a high level of amylopectin, giving more elastic properties. I swapped out 1 whole egg for 2 egg whites to give more drying properties to the batter, or else it could easily be gooey with the sweet rice flour's gelatinous nature. Only a teeny bit of fat is used in the popover batter This recipe can be easily converted to dairy-free by swapping out the milk for your choice of broth and the fat for lard, rendered chicken or bacon fat, shortening, etc. Technique is everything with this, so please follow instructions exactly for best results.

      30 grams butter
      4 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
      1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, nutmeg, white pepper (optional)
      450 grams milk
      100 grams sweet rice flour
      100 grams brown rice flour
      300 grams (5 whole + 2 whites) eggs, large, room temperature

      Preheat oven to 425F. May want to error on safe side and turn up to 450F, if your oven doesn't heat well. The hotter, the better.

      In a medium saucepan, measure the butter, salt, seasonings, and milk. Place over medium heat. In a small/medium bowl, measure out the sweet rice and brown rice flours and mix well. Once the liquids come to a roaring boil, pour in the flour mixture all at once and stir constantly and thoroughly for a couple of minutes, it will be a pasty, elastic mess. Turn all the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a paddle attachment (I used the one with the rubber blades) and immediately turn on lowest speed. In a small/medium bowl (preferably something with a spout), mix the eggs well. Make sure they are no colder than room temperature. Once the batter in the mixer has cooled off to just warm/hot, just cooled off enough to put hands on exterior of bowl, add in about a quarter of the egg mixture. Allow time for the eggs to incorporate. Repeat in about 4 additions until all the eggs are added.

      Grease popover tins or every other cup of muffin tins (to allow room for expansion). Fill about 1/2-2/3 full. Bake at 425F (220C) for about 30-40 minutes. Before removing them from the oven, be sure the popovers are dry and firm enough to avoid collapsing. Remove from pans immediately and place on wire rack to cool.

      Makes 8 popovers.

      -Erin Swing
      The Sensitive Epicure

      Head on over to Mrs.R's host post to see her amazing popovers and all the other fantastic recipes brought to you by rally participants this month! Thanks again Mrs. R for hosting a popover of a challenge! Also, if you're on Twitter, search #GFreeRally

      Brooke | B & the boy! | Chocolate & Sweet Potato Popovers
      Charissa | Zest Bakery | Lemon Vanilla Popovers with Minnesota Raspberries
      Claire | My Gluten free home | Chai Popovers
      Ginger Bardenhagen | chive and black pepper; toasted onion and aleppo pepper
      gretchen  |  kumquat | strawberry cream cheese popovers
      Heather | Discovering the Extraordinary | Basic Popovers
      Jenn | Jenn Cuisine | Chocolate Popovers
      Jonathan  |  The Canary Files | Cinnamon & Star Anise Popovers
      Mary Fran | FrannyCakes | Gluten-Free Honey Coconut Popovers
      Morri  |  Meals With Morri | Little Bitty Popover Bites
      Rachel | The Crispy Cook | Corny Popovers
      TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies | Sweet Cherry Popovers

      Wednesday, January 4, 2012

      Scallion Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

      Time for the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally! Gretchen of Kumquat hostessed this month with the challenge of biscuits. What a great way to start off the new year. Growing up in South Florida, biscuits with sausage gravy comes to my mind first. It's been eons since I've had biscuits and gravy; probably a good ten years. I decided to throw some scallions in there, since I've been craving Chinese style scallion pancakes for some time and since it's nice to get some green in my food during the winter. These definitely hit the spot. Oof. Should hold me over for some time.

      The Gluten-Free Ratio Rally is a group of GF bloggers, rallied by Shauna of, where we put our on spin a a culinary standard. These culinary standards are known formulas, ratios, that professionals use. The caveat is that everything is done by weight, since weight is more standardized and much more accurate than measuring by volume. This is the foundation of the GFreeRally as started and explained by Gluten-Free Girl here. The book that we base our ratios is Michael Ruhlman's Ratio. Ruhlman's biscuit ratio is a 3 parts flour : 2 parts liquid : 1 part butter recipe. Mine turned out to be to the same 3:2:1/flour:milk:butter. There are some major tricks here. First, boil the milk and add it to half the flour to gelatinize the sweet rice flour to give it some elasticity. Second, cool down the dough before adding in the butter. This ensures the butter will not completely mix in, giving some rise and flakiness to the biscuits. Third, roll out the dough and fold multiple times to give many layers to the biscuits. Lastly, and most importantly handle the dough as little as possible. The colder the keep the dough, the better rise and less the butter will melt. The sausage gravy is a traditional bechamel thickened with a roux made with potato starch.

      200 grams (mL) milk, boiling
      150 grams sweet rice flour
      150 grams brown rice flour
      1 teaspoon (6 g) kosher/sea salt
      1 tablespoon (14 g) baking powder
      100 grams unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4" cubes
      3-4 scallions, greens only (reserve white ends for gravy), chopped finely

      Sausage Gravy:
      60 grams potato starch
      60 grams butter
      1 teaspoon salt
      dash nutmeg
      black pepper
      300 grams (mL) milk
      1 pound your favorite breakfast (sage) sausage
      3-4 white ends of scallions, finely chopped

      Preheat oven to 400F. Place the sweet rice flour in the work bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a paddle mixer. Add in the salt. With the mixer on low, add in the bowling milk in one portion. Allow to mix until it is cool enough to touch. Add in the brown rice flour and baking powder. Put the bowl in fridge until it has cooled down. Return to mixer on low and add in the cubed butter, followed by the chopped scallions.

      Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured cool surface. Roll out with minimal handling into a rectangle. Fold into thirds. Roll out again and repeat. Chilling may be necessary in between depending if it gets too warm/soft. Repeat this about 4 times. Last time, roll out evenly with even edges with a dough thickness of about 3/4". Cut into about 12 squares using a large, sharp chef knife. Space out evenly onto a sheet of parchment paper. Brush with milk or egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a rack.

      Sausage Gravy:
      In a medium/large fry pan over medium heat, brown the sausage. Breaking up into small pieces. Turning frequently. Once browned, remove from heat, strain fat/liquid. Add in chopped white ends of scallions. This will be added to the bechamel sauce.

      Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, heat the potato starch and butter over medium heat. Add in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir continuously with a whisk. After a couple of minutes, turn the heat to low and add in the milk (that's been heated in the microwave) with whisking. Turn up the heat to medium and whisk continuously until the sauce has thickened and starts to boil. If it is too thick, add tiny increments of additional milk until desired thickness is achieved. Add in the sausage and scallions. Taste for seasoning and add more if needed. Enjoy!

      -Erin Swing
      The Sensitive Epicure

      Head on over to Gretchen's host post to see her amazing Sweet Buttermilk Biscuits and all the other fantastic recipes brought to you by rally participants this month! Thanks again Gretchen for hosting a biscuit of a challenge! Also, if you're on Twitter, search #GFreeRally

      Amanda from Gluten Free Maui made Classic Biscuits and Gravy
      Amie of the Healthy Apple made Wasabi Parsley Biscuits
      Caleigh of Gluten Free[k] made American Style Biscuits
      Caneel of Mama Me Gluten Free made Whole Grain Pecan Drop Biscuits
      Charissa of Zest Bakery made Eggnog Biscuits with Grated Nutmeg
      Heather of Discovering the Extraordinary made Amond Coconut Tea Biscuits
      Jean of Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes made Jammers
      Jonathan of the Canary Files made Vegan Sesame Shiso Biscuits 
      Karen of Cooking Gluten Free! made Biscuit Template with Dairy Free Substiutions
      Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen made Fluffy Biscuits
      Mary Fran of Frannycakes made Suprise Flavor Biscuits
      Mrs R of Honey From Flint Rocks made Turkey Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping
      Rachel of the Crispy Cook made Hummus in a Biscuit
      Silvana of Silvana's Kitchen made Sausage-n-Cheddar Bialy Biscuits
      TR of No One Likes Crumbley Cookies made Lemon Basil Biscuits