Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guest Review on Make Me Some Pie!

My guest review of Queen of Hearts Berry Pie is up now on my brother's pie blog- makemesomepie.com. Head on over and check it out.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

GF @ the Portland Farmer's Market

Portland Farmer's Market opened up last weekend, so we decided to go check it out today. I confess, the main reason I woke up early to hit the market was because I knew (via Facebook) that Petunia's Pies and Pastries was going to have doughnuts. I work downtown, and for some reason this week (maybe because of Spring Break) I saw an incredible number of people walking around with pink boxes. For those who don't know- the pink boxes are from Voodoo Doughnuts (not GF). This made me start to crave doughnuts like mad. As you can see from the picture, the doughnuts didn't make it home. I had chocolate glazed with sprinkles and my wife had a maple bar. Thanks Petunia's for satisfying my craving. It sounds like this could become a regular thing for Petunia's at the market- this week was raised style, next week they will have cake doughnuts. Hooray for gluten free doughnuts, what a treat!

Besides the obvious gluten free options like all the fantastic fruit and vegetables, there were several other vendors selling gluten free goods. We got pasta from Nonna's Noodles, a berry hand pie from Queen of Hearts, a Chocolate Hazelnut pie from Divine Pie and bagels from New Cascadia Traditional Bakery. I also saw another vendor selling gluten free flours (sorry I don't remember the name) and HeidiHo Organics was selling vegan gluten free "cheese" which was actually pretty good.

Why did I buy two pies? Well, my little brother runs makemesomepie.com, so let's just say it's both for my enjoyment, and research. Oh yeah, and I LIKE pie! Stay tuned for more on that.

I was very happy to see all these vendors at the market, helping to make our gluten free lives a little bit easier, and more delicious!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Update: I just made another batch of these. This time I used palm sugar in place of the demerara sugar and palm shortening (Spectrum Organic) instead of butter. This makes them dairy free and refined sugar free. Also, they actually turned out even better than the original!

The verdict is in. I thought these muffins were good, and my lovely wife thought they were great! I used some Demerara sugar in this one, but I think palm sugar would work too. Or you could try all agave, but the results might be a little different.

½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup white rice flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ cup arrowroot
1/3 cup Demerara Sugar or Palm Sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup Butter or Palm Shortening (like Spectrum Organic)

1/3 cup dark agave
2 mashed bananas (about 1 cup)
1/4 milk substitute (i used unsweetened coconut)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix all the dry ingredients in a food processor or mixer until combined. Add butter/substitute and mix until coarse. Add the wet ingredients and mix until you have a thick batter. If using food processor, remove batter and add chocolate chips and fold them in. If using a mixer add the chocolate chips and mix until incorporated. Scoop into a greased muffin pan (I used an ice cream scoop). Use enough batter to fill the tin almost to the top. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (except for maybe a little melted chocolate). Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gluten Free Central Oregon Coast

We went to Depoe Bay last weekend and I just thought I'd post some info on gluten free options for folks since Spring Break is here.

Hilltop Inn in Lincoln City is not fancy. It looks exactly like what it is- an old Denny's. We went for breakfast and the list of gluten free options is pretty good. Apparently one of the owners eats GF. They made us hashbrowns from scratch, with house made GF toast for me and a house made GF chocolate muffin for Kristen. They also get bonus points from me for knowing how to cook an egg to order.

Captain Dan's Pirate Pastry in Lincoln City has a few GF options. I had a slice of chocolate cake that was pretty tasty- nice and moist, but kind of flat and dense. It's worth a try if you are craving something sweet- they have cookies and muffins too.

We were only in town for a couple days, and we cooked at the condo a couple times (I cooked some seafood we got from Local Ocean in Newport- highly recommended). But there are more GF options to try next time:

One place we wanted to try but it was closed on Sunday, and that is Beach Town Bakery. Apparently they have GF options, but I don't know how many or what is available. They do have an Udi's sign on the door, so I'm also not sure if they actually bake the GF options in house or not. *(note: since this review was written I received notice that BTB has given up on gluten free because it wasn't selling).

Also there is a pizza place called Pizza Cucina that had an ad in the local restaurant guide that said they have gluten free pizza available. It is in Newport.

In Newport as well is Savory Cafe, which is in the Nye Beach area. They have GF personal pizzas as well as a large selection of GF items ranging from tacos and burritos to their signature Savory bowls, which are all GF and vegan (unless you add meat). This is one we are definitely going to check out next time.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


A lot of times with my gluten free baking experiments, I start by trying out someone else's recipe as a base (gluten free or not), then tweak and modify it until I get something better. But sometimes a recipe actually works so well it needs (almost) no modifications. These cupcakes I made tonight are the best I've ever had- gluten or not. The recipe is not mine, and is published in a cookbook that I don't have permission to reprint. But I can tell you, it is from Babycakes NYC, and you can find the recipe on Gwenyth Paltrow's website GOOP right here. I was amazed because the last batch of cupcakes I made had some of the same ingredients, but turned into bricks, unsuitable for human consumption.

I wasn't sure I believed all the hype about Babycakes, but the fans are right, this recipe is the real deal. Of course, one look at the ingredient list, and you gluten free bakers out there can quickly see that these are not cheap to make. Making these regularly could break the bank, so you may want to put this recipe in your special occasions folder. I hate to mess with such a good thing, but I'm already thinking of ways I could make this cupcake just as delicious, but more affordable. Stay tuned.

p.s. Besides being gluten free, these are refined sugar free (sweetened with agave and applesauce), dairy free and even vegan- or at least they were until I put cream cheese frosting on them!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Steak and (Sweet) Potatoes

Okay, here it is, simple, but delicious. While on our way home from the beach, I stopped by a little market I love called Harvest Fresh out in McMinnville. They always have this cut of steak I can't seem to find anywhere else called "Teres Major" which is sometimes called "Petite Tender". It's a cut from the shoulder and it is second in tenderness only to the filet mignon. It was on sale for $6.99 a pound, yes!

My recipe was inspired by Oba restaurant in Portland. They make a Cuban flank steak with boniato mash. Here's what I did:

1. Marinate 1 piece of teres major (about 3/4 pound) with the juice of 1 lime, 2 cloves garlic and about a tablespoon of honey for about 2 hours. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Season with salt and pepper and sear the steak on all sides and then put on a sheet pan with a rack in the oven.

2. Peel and boil 1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound). When cooked enough to put a fork through drain and mash (or run through a ricer or food mill). Add butter (or substitute) and enough milk substitute (I used coconut) to reach a smooth consistency. Season with garlic powder, salt, pepper and a dash of cumin powder.

3. Thinly slice 1 medium onion and dust the onion with a mixture of rice flour and cornstarch to coat. Fry the onions in about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a medium skillet. Cook them like hashbrowns- allow them to brown on 1 side, then flip. Drain on paper towel.

4. Once the steak has reached medium rare (145 degrees) remove the steak from the oven. Let it rest at least 5 minutes, then slice into about 10-12 medallions. Serve with the sweet potato mash and top with the frizzled onions. I also served it with a compound butter (you could use a substitute) made with the juice of half a lime, salt, cumin and pepper.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (Lower GI)

I've been trying for quite a while now to perfect a chocolate chip cookie that is gluten free and has less processed sugar than other cookies. After experimenting with agave nectar, honey and date sugar, I finally remembered something I'd seen at a local Thai/Asian store- Palm Sugar. I did some research and found out that not only does palm sugar act more like regular sugar than anything else I've tried, it also has a much higher nutrient content and lower Glycemic Index (some report as low as 35) than most of the alternative sweeteners I've tried. Unfortunately, I've yet to find a good sugar free chocolate chip that isn't sweetened with grain (not gluten free), so the cookie still has a bit of regular sugar. The next step will probably be making my own chocolate chips. Try the recipe- you'll swear it isn't gluten free.

Flour mix:
1 part rice flour
1/2 part tapioca flour
1/4 part modified tapioca starch (Expandex- sub corn or potato starch if needed)

2 1/4 cups flour mix (see above)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups palm sugar (ground in food processor)
1 teaspoon gluten free vanilla extract
2 large eggs
12 ounces dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, xantham gum) in a bowl. Beat butter, palm sugar and vanilla extract in stand mixer or large bowl with hand mixer until creamed. Add the eggs, one at a time until mixed well. Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture gradually. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop about a tablespoon of batter per cookie onto a sheet pan.
3. Bake about 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy. Or move the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely for storage.