Gluten-free Dairy-free Egg-free Focaccia inspired by Amy’s Kitchen

March 6th, 2012 yum Posted in Amy's Kitchen, Bread, Breastfeeding for Allergic Baby Recipe, Brown Rice, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Soy Free, Sugar free, Sunflower seed, Vegan 16 Comments »

I have a little addiction. It is to the Amy’s Kitchen kid’s meal with the ziti pasta with the fake cheese and a little bit of broccoli and focaccia and the apple cobbler serving. I know, I know, I’m not a kid, but it is relatively low in calories and I just can’t get enough of it. They also just came out with a new kid’s meal with gluten-free rice mac and cheese, broccoli, and that same apple cobbler. However, those frozen kids meals are an expensive little vice for a graduate student mommy with a mortgage. I was thinking about it, and although I do love the pasta, the real draw for me is that little bread square tucked in between the pasta and the apple pie. I just love the faintly nutty, brown rice flavor of the stuff and the fluffiness of it when I rescue it from the microwave and let the rest of the meal cook.

I am thrilled by Toddler Yum’s new school, and it seems to be really good for her. She has friends, learns fun things and gets to try all sorts of new activities. She comes home literally singing, and little tidbits that she has learned leak out in between her toddler chatter. Last month she learned the days of the week in a cheery little song. Last night at the dinner table, she started belting out the months. She told me buenas noches with no prompting, out of the blue. It seems like a great environment and fit for my active little social bunny.

Unfortunately that great environment comes with a silicon valley price tag. We have her at half days, but it still gives our budget pause. Add on to that property taxes, graduate school fees, and utility bills and it ends up hurting a little bit. So, I have sworn off pricey convenience meals for a bit, and that includes those tasty Amy’s Kitchen meals. I decided that a tight budget was no reason to go without my focaccia! I peered at the back of the Amy’s kitchen box for ingredients, consulted with some favorite vegan cookbooks like Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, and started baking up a storm. I made two versions of this recipe, and this one was my favorite. It was not quite as fluffy as the Amy’s version, but it still was strangely addictive. It also passed the DH test, who said that it was yummy and gobbled it down without any resistance. I loved it plain, with earth balance margarine, and used in sandwiches with a baba ghanoush, avocado and lettuce filling. By the way, the avocado came from the tree in our backyard. I just love free avocados! And the lettuce came straight out of our winter garden. California living has its perks!

I may be fooling around with this recipe some more, but I love the flavor. Honestly, I’m a rice girl at heart. I just love the nuttiness of brown rice flour tempered by a little white rice. And the sunflower meal is a very good alternative to the ever-popular almond flour. It gives great flavor, a little punch of protein, and does some good things to the texture too. I think I’ll be using it in more of my recipes in the future. Hope you enjoy!

Dairy-free Egg-free Focaccia Bread
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch flour
1/4 cup corn flour (can substitute millet flour, sorghum, or brown rice flour)
1/4 cup ground roasted unsalted sunflower seed meal (i made it in my spice grinder)
1/4 cup potato starch flour (can sub arrowroot or cornstarch)
1/4 cup cornstarch (can sub arrowroot or potato starch)
1 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp agave/maple syrup/honey
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp. yeast

for topping:
your favorite dairy-free milk or olive oil
Bouquet garni or onion flakes/ caramelized onions
coarse salt

Line a square cake pan with parchment paper and baste sides with palm oil shortening or other preferred oil. Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix together dry ingredients in your kitchenaid mixer. Note on the sunflower seed meal- I cleaned my spice grinder by running a batch of white rice through it before I made the sunflower seed meal. You could also try using the small section of your food processor for grinding the meal.

Put your tablespoon of liquid sweetener (agave, maple syrup etc) in a small bowl. Add your warm water and your yeast. Combine gently and wait for it to foam. Add to your dry ingredients along with olive oil. Mix with the paddle for a few minutes, and then pour into your prepared pan. Baste top with a little olive oil or your favorite non-dairy plain milk. Sprinkle with bouquet garni herbs or onion topping.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve and enjoy!

Great for sandwiches when cut in half. Microwave individual servings for 10-15 seconds to refresh the next day.
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Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger: Welcoming Kitchen Giveaway

January 15th, 2012 yum Posted in Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger, Breastfeeding for Allergic Baby Recipe 31 Comments »

This month I adopted Kim and Megan of Welcoming Kitchen, whose recipes are vegan and free of the eight common allergens (dairy, eggs, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, fish, and shellfish). I first properly “met” Kim when she joined in during my gluten-free vegetarian Thanksgiving event. She made a killer mushroom tartlet with a socca crust. I was impressed by her contribution and even more impressed when I found out she had several books out, including her most recent Welcoming Kitchen: 200 Delicious Allergen- & Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes. I thought it would be fun to review her book, and was thrilled when Kim sent me a copy, and when later her publisher sent an additional copy for a Book of Yum Giveaway! Leave a comment on this post mentioning your favorite Welcoming Kitchen recipe – I’ll do a random pick later this week to select a winner! (Make sure you use a working email in the form to comment, so I can contact you if you win.) For Adopt a Gluten-free Blogger I like to start with a recipe that anyone can access on the gluten-free blogger’s blog. I chose Kim and Megan’s recipe for a gluten-free top-eight-allergens free apple scone.

One thing that is a little weird for me is that many of their recipes either call for oat flour (usually with a substitution listed) or for all-purpose gluten-free flour. Since there are so many and they vary in quality and style so much, it seems to me the recipe could be really different if you used, say Bette Hagman’s white flour gourmet blend, or a high protein sorghum or bean blend. I wish Kim had told us what her preference is so that I could have tried it and tasted it like she would have made it herself. In this case I used Bette Hagman’s white flour gourmet blend with a half cup of sorghum flour subbed in for higher nutritional value. The turbinado sugar was just enough to make the dish special without making it sickeningly sweet, and I loved the diced apple. The seasonings were nice, and the coconut milk added subtle richness to the recipe.

Toddler Yum loved helping make the recipe, and I loved that my little raw-dough-fiend could steal bites of the vegan dough without worry over raw egg or other undesirable ingredients. I did find the dough a little difficult (wet) to transfer to another plate, but it worked out in the end. It was fun to make these with my little helper, and she even enjoyed eating them baked, which is the real test. She’ll eat almost any baked good in its raw dough form, but baked is quite another matter.

I also wanted to make their birthday cupcake recipe, but didn’t have applesauce, so that will have to wait for another time. I was intrigued by the usage of both applesauce and sweet potato puree in a “sweet” vegan dessert.

Now, on to the Welcoming Kitchen cookbook. Kim begins her story explaining that when she had a new baby boy eight years ago, he developed severe eczema and breathing issues and they discovered that he was allergic to cow’s milk, egg, and tree nuts. To breast feed her son, she cut out those foods from her diet and learned how to cook for herself and him. This is an issue close to my own heart, as Toddler Yum’s case of allergic colitis also meant that I had to change my diet to breastfeed her, cutting out the top eight allergens and more (rice, potato, and corn). I could identify with Kim’s determination to breastfeed, even if it meant changing her own diet. As she says, after this experience, as she learned more about those facing dietary restrictions, she began developing recipes that would work for many people, and turned her kitchen into a “welcoming” kitchen.

Kim’s recipes are free of eight of the top allergens- “peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, shellfish” and sesame for good measure. All recipes are gluten-free as written as well, although I would mention to those with Celiac or gluten intolerance that many of the non-savory recipes call for oats in one form or another. While gluten-free oats have become increasingly available in recent years, from my understanding many doctors recommend that those with Celiac incorporate oats in their diet cautiously and keep an eye on antibodies. Some people with Celiac have difficulty digesting oats and may cross-react to the oat protein as it is similar to the gluten protein. For this reason, and because I’m a little chicken at heart, I haven’t chosen to try to incorporate oats into my diet, so the recipes solely relying on oats without clear options for substitutes are not something I can use personally. However, this cookbook would be a godsend for any breastfeeding mom trying to cut out the top eight allergens for her baby. As well, for those who “simply” have a problem with wheat, oats seem to be a gateway grain that helps many people adjust to a wheat-free diet. If you are comfortable incorporating gluten-free oats into your gluten-free diet, you will love Kim’s creative use of this grain!

For my first experiment, I made Kim’s Artichoke Fritters on page 26, a simple but satisfying dish with lightly pan-fried artichoke hearts. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to deep-fry or pan-fry the artichokes, but Kim told me that 1/8 inch oil would be plenty, which had been my guess as well. I used frozen artichoke hearts because I was out of canned. I thought this was a delightful dish and would make it again, especially served with a vegan mayonnaise or some other nice dip. The DH commented that he prefers fresh artichokes, but he is a hard sell for some vegetable dishes anyway. The recipe didn’t call for any salt but we needed to add it when using frozen artichokes, and I think I would even with salted canned artichokes to suit our household’s taste buds.

You may or may not know that I am a biscuit fiend. I’ve tried out many of my gluten-free friend’s biscuit recipes, from Elana’s in her The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook to Ali in The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook: Whole Foods Recipes for Personal and Planetary Health, Second Edition. For the record, biscuits are one of my favorite ways to bake with almond flour, and I enjoyed the simple healthful flavor of Ali’s biscuits too. Happily, Kim did not disappoint with her reliable biscuit recipe. I made it not once but twice this month, using different dairy-free milks depending on the contents of my pantry. It turned out well both times. I ate them in a vegetarian and easy “eggs benedict” with mayonnaise, as sandwich “bread” and this morning, with a tofu veggie vegan scramble and a vegan avocado sauce. I used my own formulation of 3/4 cup sorghum, 1/2 cup tapioca, and 1/4 cup potato starch for the gluten-free flour blend, by the way, and it worked! I had to wait for the xanthan to do its magic and thicken the dough. The first time I made them, I ended up adding a little extra flour. Regardless, another gluten-free biscuit recipe option is definitely a bonus.

There are plenty more easy, and allergen-friendly recipes in this book I’d like to try, from lentil sloppy joes to roasted fennel spread, from gluten-free beer bread and “cheesy” broccoli baked potatoes. Oats or no, I am going to have a lot of fun with this book and I’m so glad Kim shared it with me! Don’t forget to comment below to win your own copy.

[1/21/2012 WE HAVE A WINNER! Gloria B's comment was selected through a random number generator lottery. Gloria, I'll send you an email and once I have your address will mail you your book. :) ]

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