Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gluten Free Almond Toffee

The theme this week for the Holiday Food Fest is edible gifts. Click the Holiday Fest picture about to find other great treats.
A few years back one of my wife's friends started making toffee and other candies to sell online as a side business. My wife bought a small box of toffee and gave it to me as a gift. The toffee was so rich, buttery, and decadent. I immediately needed another fix. I begged and pleaded my wife to get her hands on some more of this deliciousness. I got one more small box before I realized that I had to take matters into my own hands. I found a great recipe for almond toffee that I can make whenever the mood strikes. The toffee is naturally gluten free. I wish that I could tell you it was butter, sugar, and fat free as well, but it's not. With the amount of butter in this stuff you will definitely want to share the guilt with some friends. Here we go;
Gluten Free Almond Toffee:
1-1/2 cups sliced almonds, divided
3 sticks of unsalted butter (Just close your eyes, it will be OK)
1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
8 ounces of good quality chocolate(any kind you like, Milk, Dark, etc.)
Start by toasting the almonds on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F for 6-8 minutes. Set aside. Line a 9x13 sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Measure out the baking soda in a small dish and set aside. Also, now is a good time to get your chocolate measured out and ready.
Don't think too hard about it, just melt 3 sticks of butter in a medium size, heavy bottom pan over medium heat. You will need to use a candy thermometer, just make sure the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan. After the butter is melted, add the sugar, water, and salt.
At about 200 degrees the butter mixture will foam up and then subside. Just stir a few times while the mix is heating up.
When the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, stir in 3/4 of a cup of the toasted almonds. Now you need to stir constantly from here on out. Continue heating (and stirring) until the mixture reaches 295 degrees F. The temperature should rise at a moderate pace. If the temperature doesn't seem to be climbing, just increase the heat slowly. I usually start out at medium heat and end up at medium high by the end. Once the mixture reaches 295 degrees, remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda.
Immediately pour the toffee into the parchment lined pan that you prepped ahead of time. The toffee will have kind of a spongy texture, spread it out evenly in the pan. After spreading the toffee, put the chocolate on top to melt. Wait a couple minutes and then use the back of a spoon to spread the melted chocolate evenly over the toffee. (I used Guittard milk chocolate chips)
Next, take the remaining toasted almonds and place them in a ziploc bag. Roll them around to crush them up a bit. Sprinkle the crushed almonds on top of the chocolate. Let the toffee cool on the counter for 30 minutes then transfer to the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Remove from the refrigerator. Either break the toffee by hand or use a large knife to assist you. Go ahead, take a piece, or two, or three, then give some away. Don't you know how much butter is in there? Don't just stand there and eat it all. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole

Last Thanksgiving was my first attempt to tackle a gluten free green bean casserole. Having to make fried onions and cream of mushroom soup are two reasons why green bean casserole can be a bit tedious to make gluten free. If your willing to put in the work, the results are incredible. This can be made a day ahead of time and reheated when you need it. However, the fried onions are best and crispiest if done the day you plan on eating. Lets get started.
Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole:
For the onions:
2 medium onions sliced thin
1/4 cup GF flour mix
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
oil for frying
For the cream soup base:
2 Tbs butter
12 ounces mushrooms (cut into 1/2 pieces)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cloves garlic (pressed)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbs GF flour mix
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half and half
Green Beans:
1 pound green beans (trimmed and halved)
Casserole baking directions:
Bake in an 8x8 baking dish at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes add onions and bake 5 minutes longer.

I sliced two onions with a mandoline. In a medium bowl, combine gf flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Toss in the onions and coat thoroughly until all the flour mix is coated on to the onion slices. Heat oil (I used canola) in a heavy bottom pot or fryer to 325-350 degrees. Cook onions for 4-6 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the onions, drain and set aside.
Next, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the green beans for 5 minutes. Drain into a colander and run under cold water for 2-3 minutes to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
My wife hates mushrooms, so I did not use any. However, I am including the full mushroom version here in the directions. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook the mushrooms until they begin to give up some of their liquid, about 4-5 minutes. Next, add the garlic and nutmeg and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes. Add the gf flour and mix until absorbed into the liquid, about 1 minute. Next add the chicken broth and half and half. Cook until the mixture thickens up, about 6-8 minutes. Do not let the soup mixture boil. Take half of the fried onions and roughly chop them. Add the chopped onions along with the green beans to the soup mixture.
After thoroughly coating the green beans and chopped onions with the soup, pour into a 8x8 baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree F oven.
Top with the rest of the fried onions and bake for another 5 minutes.
Dish up and you have a great gluten free side dish for your Thanksgiving meal. It may take a little effort but it is well worth it in the end. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gluten Free Sweet and Spicy Pecans

OK, I know what you're thinking. "I came to check out this blog and all you have to offer for the Holiday Food Fest are some pecans, come on." Hold it, hold it, let me explain. Don't underestimate the need for easy snacks around the holidays. Everyone gets focused in on the big ticket items; turkey, stuffing, etc. You can't neglect the snacks. What are you supposed to munch on while all the other food is cooking? Besides, Thanksgiving is a pretty serious meal. You don't want to walk in on game day unprepared. If you start eating snacks and treats now, you may just have enough time before the big day. You wouldn't run a marathon without taking a few laps around the block ahead of time. What makes you think you can tackle a turkey day meal without a little warm up?

Here is a quick, tasty snack that can be made up to a week in advance. Just be sure to cover them up at night to keep them fresh.
Gluten Free Sweet and Spicy Pecans:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 egg white
2 cups of pecan halves
Bake in a 300 degree F oven for 30 minutes Start by mixing the sugar, salt, chili powder, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
In a larger bowl, lightly beat the egg white with a fork. Toss the pecans in and mix until thoroughly coated with egg white.
Next, sprinkle the spice mixture over the pecans and generously coat them. You may have some of the spice mix left over. Place the pecans on a parchment lined or lightly greased cooking sheet. Try to separate the pecans so they don't clump together. Bake at 300 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Allow the pecans to cool for five minutes. You're all set. Let the training snacking begin. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gluten Free Chicken with Cider Barbecue Sauce

Yesterday was a rare November day in the Portland area. Although the weather was cool and crisp, the sun was out with clear blue skies. I took my daughter to the zoo, raked some leaves, and decided to fire up the barbecue. However, the weather is ever changing and a down pour of rain began just as I placed the first piece of chicken on the grill. Like any true Oregonian, I pushed on despite the rain and barbecued some great chicken.

The recipe I used was portioned to make enough for two whole chickens. I used three boneless skinless chicken breasts so I cut the recipe and made roughly 1/3 of the quantity. The cider barbecue sauce has a great orange taste to it that my wife likened to an orange chicken dish at a Chinese restaurant.

Gluten Free Chicken with Cider Barbecue Sauce:
from Gourmet magazine, adapted to be gluten free
Here is the full recipe, meant to be enough for 2 whole chickens.
For the Chicken:
3/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
For the Barbecue Sauce:
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbs minced orange zest
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp celery seeds
For the chicken; mix ketchup, brown sugar, coriander, cumin, and salt together. Generously coat the chicken. Cook either on a grill or roast in the oven until cooked thoroughly.To make the sauce; combine apple cider, cider vinegar, orange zest, brown sugar, and celery seeds in a sauce pan. Bring the sauce to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until thick, syrupy, and reduced by about 2/3 rds. This should take about 20 minutes.
Pour a little sauce over the chicken, serve with your favorite side dishes, and you are in business. Well worth barbecuing in the rain. Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Are you sick of pumpkin yet? I have to pace myself so I'm not burned out on pumpkin before Thanksgiving. This is my last pumpkin treat until turkey day arrives. I wanted to do something unique with pumpkin that I haven't tried before. What better way to laugh in the face of gluten than by creating a gluten free bread pudding.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Pudding:
inspired by but modified to be GF
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old French bread
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
Bake in an 8x8 pan at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes
I actually used a mix of day old GF French bread and some Whole Foods GF sandwich bread. Cube up 5 cups of bread.
In a bowl, thoroughly combine all the ingredients except for the butter and cubed bread.
Melt the butter and toss it with the bread in a separate bowl. Next, pour the liquid pumpkin mixture over the bread and stir a couple of times to evenly coat the bread.
Pour the whole thing into an ungreased 8x8 baking dish or pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until the custard is set.
Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a nice dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gluten Free Clam Chowder

I'm going to do my best to keep up with "What can I eat that's gluten free?" as well as the "Holiday Food Fest" started by Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. I'm a bit of a procrastinator/slacker/husband/father, so we'll see if I can make it all work. For a soup theme this week, I chose gluten free clam chowder. My wife grew up about an hour away from the ocean. Prior to being gluten free she would indulge in the rich, hearty clam chowders offered at every restaurant up and down the Oregon Coast. Clam chowder was a meal that was particularly hard for my wife to give up. Being the great, no wait, amazing, yes amazing, man that I am, I found a great clam chowder recipe years ago that was easily modified to be gluten free.

New England Oregon Clam Chowder:
1/2 pound bacon (chopped)
1 medium onion (chopped)
4 celery ribs (chopped)
2 Tbs GF flour mix
4 large or 5 medium potatoes (diced)
2 Tbs butter
8 ounces clam juice (1 bottle)
2-3 6 ounces cans of chopped clams
3 cups milk (I use 1%)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp thyme
2-4 Tbs GF flour mix or cornstarch to thicken as needed
Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1-1/2 tsps of each)
In a large stock pot cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside. Drain all but 1 Tbs of bacon drippings out of the pot.
Add chopped celery and onion to the pot and cook over medium heat until tender. Next, add butter and 2 Tbs GF flour mix to the pot.
Add potatoes, salt and pepper, 1 bottle (8 ounces) of clam juice, and the liquid from the canned clams. Cook the potatoes at a low simmer over medium heat until tender. Try not to over cook them or they will become mashed potatoes. Do not add the clams yet or they will become a little rubbery through the cooking process. Here is a picture of the bottle of clam juice in case you have never seen it. You could use water if you don't have clam juice. I think clam juice is just one of those things you have to close your eyes, add it to the pot and not think about it too much. Kind of like anchovy paste. By the way, how do you juice a clam? Isn't clam juice just another name for ocean water?
Moving on, add the milk, cream, clams, bacon, and thyme. Continue cooking over medium heat. Don't allow the chowder to come to a boil at this point. Adjust seasoning as needed and use GF flour or cornstarch mixed into a slurry with a little water to thicken the clam chowder to your liking. Serve with a nice toasted slice of gluten free french bread. Enjoy!!!