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Archive for Gluten-Free

TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Oil Polenta Cake

We have advocated olive oil cake before. But this is a variation with polenta (cornmeal) instead of white flour.

Olive oil cake is a standard in some parts of Italy, substituting olive oil for butter as the fat. So is polenta cake, with a hearty crumb.

Both are rustic, uniced cakes. When we first tried an olive oil cake, moist and springy, we had no idea it lacked butter. When we first tried polenta cake, we fell in love with the irony:

We’ve often called muffins “uniced mini cakes,” because many are so sweet. With polenta cake, it’s the opposite: a sweet corn muffin in the guise of cake.

In Italy, an olive oil cake is usually made with all-purpose flour and often has citrus accents, which complement the olive oil. But any flavor can be used, including chocolate; as can a liqueur. Some recipes include pieces of fruit in the batter as well as zest and juice.

For a wine pairing, serve it with an Italian dessert wine wine like Vin Santo. There’s more about wine pairing below.

The following recipe, adapted from one in the cookbook Cake Keeper Cakes, is fragrant from olive oil and juicy with roasted grapes. Use any seasonal fruit, from berries to lychees to peaches.

In addition to adding fresh basil, we made basil whipped cream. If you like basil as much as we do, try it! As with all homemade whipped cream, it must be whipped right before serving. However…

If you want to use it but need to prepare it in advance, make stabilized whipped cream.

RECIPE: OLIVE OIL CORNMEAL CAKE

We adapted this recipe from Lauren Chattman’s book, Cake Keeper Cakes, adding fresh basil. It may sound unusual, but it’s terrific, as is rosemary. Made with cornmeal instead of wheat flour, it’s also gluten-free (corn in all ground forms is gluten-free: corn flour, corn meal, grits, etc.).

Why aren’t there more rustic cornmeal cakes with herbs? We have no idea—especially since some recipes are very similar corn muffins.

Our guess is that bakers think that American’s won’t try a cake with herbs. (Thanks to cake mixes, we’re all familiar with oil-based cakes.)
 
Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1-3/4 cups (10 ounces) red seedless grapes, washed and dried
  • Optional: 1/4 cup Limoncello*
  • 1-3/4 cups (10 ounces) red seedless grape
  • 1-3/4 cups (10 ounces) red seedless grape
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting -or- crème fraîche -or- mascarpone -or- lightly sweetened whipped cream
  •  
    For The Basil Whipped Cream

  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream or heavy cream†
  •  
    Preparation

    If you add all the grapes at once, they’ll sink to the bottom. So reserve half and scatter them on top of the cake after it’s been in the oven for 10 minutes. They’ll sink slightly, but will still be visible.

    As for the garnish, we’ve never been fond of confectioners’ sugar. Pretty as it looks, it too easily falls onto one’s clothing. Instead, we prefer a dairy topping: crème fraîche, mascarpone or lightly sweetened whipped cream. This toothsome, rustic cake is better with a modestly sweet or tangy garnish.

    If you don’t have a spring form, you can make this cake in a bundt.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F and grease a 9-inch round springform pan.

    2. WHISK together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

    3. COMBINE the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is light in color and has increased in volume, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Turn the mixer to medium speed and beat for 1 minute. Turn the mixer to low speed and stir in the milk, vanilla, and lemon zest.

    4. KEEPING the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until just incorporated. Stir in half of the grapes. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.

    5. SCATTER the remaining grapes over the top of the partially baked cake and continue to bake until the cake is golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes longer.

    6. TRANSFER the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 5 minutes. Release the sides of the pan and let the cake cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar. Cut into wedges and serve. When ready to serve…

    7. MAKE the basil whipped cream. Purée the fresh basil and sugar together in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and add the cream, whipping until it forms soft peaks. Serve immediately.

     

    Olive Oil Cake

    Cake Keeper Cakes

    Olive Oil Cake With Orange

    Olive Oil Cake

    Olive Oil Cake Citrus Garnish

    Vin Santo

    [1] and [2] A polenta cake with grapes, from Cake Keeper Cakes (recipe at left). [3] Olive oil cake with orange top (here’s the recipe from Newlywed Cookbook. [4] Olive oil cake made with Grand Marnier and white flour (here’s the recipe from Food 52). [5] Polenta olive oil cake with citrus garnish (here’s the recipe from Frog Hollow Farm). [6] Vin santo, a wine served with biscotti, is a good pairing for the cake—as well as the options below (photo courtesy Blog Siena).

     
    You can store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrapped in plastic at room temperature, for up to 3 days. Otherwise, freeze the leftovers.

    MORE OLIVE OIL CAKE RECIPES

  • Lemon & Olive Oil Cake With Strawberry Syrup (AP flour)
  • Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake (cake flour)
  • Lemon Basil Olive Oil Cake With Yogurt (AP flour)
  • Olive Oil Cake With Amaretto & Orange Zest (AP flour)
  • Orange Olive Oil Cake (AP flour)
  • Rosemary Olive Oil Cake (AP flour and cornmeal)
  •  
    WINE PAIRINGS WITH OLIVE OIL CAKES

    A dessert wine, of course! Suggestions:

    Sweet Sparkling Wines

  • Amabile and Dolce sparkling wines from Italy
  • Asti Spumante (sparkling moscato) from Italy
  • Brachetto d’Acqui (a rosé wine) from Italy
  • Demi-Sec and Doux sparkling wines from France (including Champagne)
  • Dry Prosecco (a.k.a Valdobbiadene) from Italy
  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Sweet Cuvée and Freixenet Mía Moscato Rosé from Spain
  • Sparkling Gewürztraminer from Treveri Cellars in Washington, USA
  • Schramsberg Crémant Demi-Sec from California, USA
  •  
    Sweet Still Wines

  • Banyuls from Roussillon in the south of France
  • Late Harvest Zinfandel from California
  • Lustau Muscat Sherry Superior “Emlin” fom Spain
  • Recioto Amarone from Veneto, Italy
  • Ruby Port from Portugal
  • Vin Santo from Tuscany, Italy
  •  
    Liqueurs also work.
    ________________

    *The first time you make this cake, you may wish to leave out the liqueur and concentrate on enjoying the basil.

    †The difference: Whipping cream contains 35% fat while heavy cream contains 38% fat. They are interchangeable in recipes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cook Sorghum For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

    When we first saw the word sorghum, it was as a tween, in the reading of “Gone With The Wind.”

    There was no sugar available in the blockaded, war-torn South, so Scarlett O’Hara sweetened her coffee substitute, chicory, with sorghum syrup, a molasses substitute.

    For decades, we thought of sorghum as a sweetener. After all, it’s not something you come across in the American diet.

    That is changing, with the rise in demand for gluten-free whole grains.

    Sorghum is an ancient Old World whole grain that has been cultivated for millennia.

  • It’s an energy food that’s gluten free, cholesterol free and non-GMO.
  • It’s a good source of fiber and iron.
  • It has 5g of protein per serving.
  • Its neutral flavor can be paired with any foods; it can be substituted for rice or lentils in dishes like paella and biryani.
  • You can find whole grain sorghum, pearled sorghum, sorghum flour and sorghum-based flour mixes.
  • It cooks, freezes and reheats easily.
  •  
    You can also pop sorghum seeds. The result looks just like popcorn.

    COOKING SORGHUM: WHERE TO START?

    Click to the links featured in the photos, and/or pick up a sorghum cookbook.

    WHAT IS SORGHUM?

    Sorghum is a genus of plants in the grass family—the family that includes the other grains (see the list below).

    Seventeen of the twenty-five sorghum species are native to Australia. One species, Sorghum bicolor, native to Africa, has become an important crop worldwide.

    Most varieties of sorghum are drought- and heat-tolerant, and are especially important crops in arid regions, where the grain is a dietary staples for the poor and rural populations.

    Sorghum is not only used for food (as grain and sorghum syrup, similar to molasses), but is brewed into alcoholic beverages, used as animal fodder, and made into biofuels.

    Nutritionally, it is similar to raw oats. A serving contains 20% or more of the Daily Value of protein; the B vitamins niacin, thiamin and vitamin B6; and several dietary minerals, including iron (26% DV) and manganese (76% DV).

    HULLED VS. PEARLED GRAINS

    When you see a grain labeled “hulled,” such as barley or sorghum, it indicates a whole grain.

    Hulled means that the the three parts of the seed—the bran, germ and endosperm—are intact, or “whole.” A whole grain provides optimum nutrition—vitamins, minerals and fiber.

    Only the inedible outermost layer, the hull, has been removed. This is true for all grains for human consumption: We can’t digest the hulls.

    Pearled grains are processed, like white rice. The polishing (pearling) removes the nutritious bran layer. The flavor is more delicate, not earthy; and it cooks faster. But a good amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber are lost in the process.

    Here’s more about whole grains and their nutrition.
     
    WONDERGRAIN: A LINE OF PREMIUM SORGUM PRODUCTS

    In 2012 Patricia Alemdar was given a taste of crushed sorghum from Haiti, where it’s considered a medicinal food. Although she liked the taste, she didn’t really care for the texture.

    (The common variety of sorghum is too dense to be cooked whole, so it needs to be crushed.)

    After months of research and testing, she and her mother produced a better, premium version of sorghum.

    It didn’t have to be crushed to be eaten whole. It had the softest bite and fastest cooking time. They launched it in 2014, and branded it Wondergrain.

    It’s a delicious addition to our table! The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Discover more at Wondergrain.com.
     
    FOOD FUN: NAME THE WHOLE GRAINS!

  • Amaranth
  • Barley (but not pearled barley)
  • Buckwheat (Kasha®)
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Chia/Salba®†
  • Corn (whole grain corn or cornmeal, yellow or white)*
  • Farro (emmer wheat)
  • Flaxseed
  • Grano
  • Hemp
  • Kamut® (Khorasan wheat)†
  • Millet
  • Oats (oatmeal, whole or rolled oats)
  • Popcorn
  • Quinoa
  • Rice: black, brown, red, wild
  • Rye (whole)
  • Spelt
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Triticale (barley/wheat hybrid)
  • Whole wheat
  • Wild rice
  • ________________
    *Grits are refined and are not whole grains.

     

    Sorghum

    Pearled Sorghum

    Sorghum Hot Cereal

    Sorghum Grain Bowl

    Sorghum Salad

    Roast Chicken With Sorghum

    Sorghum Squash Pilaf

    [1] Sorghum (photo courtesy Wondergrain). [2] Pearled sorghum cooks faster, but is not a whole grain (see the discussion below—photo courtesy Healthy Nibbles And Bits). [3] BREAKFAST: A bowl of hot sorghum (here’s the recipe from Clean Eating Magazine). [4] LUNCH: Sorghum grain bowl with beans and avocado (here’s the recipe from Street Smart Nutrition). [5] Sorghum salad with kale pesto (here’s the recipe from Healthy Nibbles & Bits). [6] DINNER: Serve chicken or fish with a side of sorghum (here’s the recipe from Bon Appetit). [7] Add some grated cheese to this sorghum and squash pilaf (here’s the recipe from Cooking Light).

    †Salba is a trademarked name for chia, Kamut® is a trademarked name for khorasan wheat.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Banza Chickpea Pasta

    Banza Penne Bolognese

    Banza Mac & Cheese

    Banza Rotini

    Fresh Chickpeas

    Enjoy your favorite pasta dishes with more protein and fiber, fewer carbs, and no gluten! [1] Penne Bolognese. [2] Mac and Cheese. [3] A box of rotini, one of five Banza pasta shapes (all photos courtesy Banza). [4] Fresh chickpeas in the pod (photo courtesy Melissa’s).

     

    Toward the end of 2016, we went on a gluten-free pasta-thon, tasting every type of GF pasta we could find.

    We love rice noodles: gluten free, but they don’t complement European pasta sauces and other noodle dishes.

    So we tried pasta made from brown rice, brown rice-kale blends, corn, farro, lentils, soybeans, even quinoa. (We found the last, which we like as an earthy grain, undesirable as pasta.)

    The winner by far: chickpea pasta, which looks, cooks, and tastes like regular pasta.

    Yes, the same lovely legume that gives us hummus makes the best pasta!

    The pasta has a slight chickpea flavor if you eat it plain; but covered with sauce, cheese and perhaps meatballs, sausage or anchovies (or sausage and anchovies, for surf and turf), most people aren’t likely to notice a difference.

    Bonus: Chickpea pasta has double the protein, four times the fiber and almost half the net carbs.

    Interestingly, Banza was not developed because the founder sought a GF pasta, but because he wanted more nutrition from pasta, one of his favorite foods.

    He achieved just that: The nutrient-dense pasta boasts 25 grams of protein, 13 grams of fiber and just and C43 grams of carbs in each serving.

    It has been embraced by athletes and vegans looking for more protein in their diets, by the gluten-sensitivite community, by parents trying to sneak more “good stuff” into the family’s diet via their favorite carbs.
     
    Types of Banza Chickpea Pasta

    The line includes:

  • Elbows
  • Mac And Cheese: Classic Cheddar, White Cheddar, Deluxe Rich & Creamy
  • Rotini
  • Penne Rigate
  • Shells
  • Spaghetti
  •  
    There are delicious recipes on the brand’s blog. You can buy the pasta on the website, or at some 5,000 retailers and etailers nationwide.

    Even if you aren’t looking for gluten-free pasta, how about some high-nutrition pasta—for hot dishes, cold pasta salads, even a sweet noodle pudding, made with elbows, ricotta and raisins?

    The brand is certified kosher by OU.

     

     
      

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    GLUTEN FREE: Cheryl’s Cookies

    Cheryl's Gluten Free Cookies

    Gluten Free Cookies

    You can’t tell that these gluten-free cookies are gluten free! Photo courtesy Cheryl’s.

     

    We have dear friends and readers with gluten sensitivity, so we keep an eye out for anything above the ordinary that they might enjoy.

    When Cheryl’s offered us a taste test of their conventional versus gluten-free cookies in advance of National Gluten Free Day (January 13th), we didn’t hesitate to bite.

    They said we wouldn’t be able to taste the difference, and they were correct.

    No one could tell that the GF cookies were gluten free. The texture had no graininess or other telltale sign of most gluten free cookies.

    The one difference is that the GF cookies are less sweet than the conventional ones. But this feature would only be noticed in a side-by-side tasting.

    So if you want cookies for yourself, or are looking to Valentine’s Day gifts, head to Cheryl’s.

    There are gift boxes of every description, filled with:

  • Brownie walnut cookies
  • Snickerdoodle cookies
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Buttercream-frosted sugar cookies
  • Fudge brownies
  •  
    (We tasted only the chocolate chip and snickerdoodle GF flavors.)

    The cookies are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility, and are individually wrapped for grab-and-go as well as freshness.

    Check out the selection at Cheryls.com.

     

     
      

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    GIFTS OF THE DAY: Rum Cake, Espresso Cake, Bundt Cake, Gift Cake

    Rum Cake

    Espresso Bundt Cake

    Espresso Bundt Cake

    [1] Divine rum cakes in 6 flavors from Rum Sisters. [2] This expresso cake from 1812 House: a coffee lover’s dream cake. [3] A duo of small espresso bundt cakes with caramel sauce.

     

    GIFT #1: RUM SISTERS, RUM CAKES & MORE

    We’ve tried lots of rum cake. But the Rum Sisters make the best we’ve tried in recent memory.

    The business was begun by two friends who shared a love of baking, cake and alcohol.

    Not to mention the skills to make truly great whiskey-infused cakes.

    Not to mention the premium ingredients, including fine rum, bourbon, Irish whiskey and Kahlúa.

    These rum cakes are so good, we ate the whole sampler box—6 mini bundts-in two days. When there was not a crumb left, we cried plaintively: More! More!

    There’s a tempting selection:

  • Bushwacker: Named after the coastal frozen drink, this rum cake has a delicious infusion of coconut and chocolate..
  • Drunken Monkey: Touted as “the best banana bread ever,” this cake is infused with bourbon.
  • Keel Over: This version of a classic rum cake is infused with dark rum.
  • Spice It Up: Think of the carrot cake with raisin and spiced rum.
  • The Big “O”: Aged Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream distinguish combine in this special flavor.
  • Twisted Sista: This dark chocolate cake is infused with Kahlúa and finished with white chocolate rum, a “twisted” medley of flavors.
  • Gluten Free Cakes: Keel Over and Twisted Sista are both made in GF versions.
  •  
    Cakes are $25 (small) and $50 (large). Get acquainted with all six flavors in the Sumptuous Sampler of mini bundts, $30. (Regular folks might split one with a cup of tea, or eat half at a time.)

    Head to RumSisters.com.
     
    GIFT #2: ESPRESSO CAKE FOR COFFEE LOVERS

    Matthews 1812 House is a second-generation family business. The Matthews family started in 1979 in the family farmhouse in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut (the house was built in 1812).

    From a line of two fruitcakes, “baking racks in the hallways and people sorting apricots and pecans on the dining room table,” the company now has a dedicated facility a mile away, and a full line of specialty cakes into cookies, bars, and other sweet treats.

     
    The flavor we haven’t seen before is the Espresso Bundt Cake. If a cup of espresso can be transformed into a cake, this is it.

    The moist cake has a bold coffee flavor, a hint of cinnamon, and less sugar than most bundt cakes. That’s why you can easily add caramel sauce, ice cream or whipped cream.

    A large bundt cake is $29.00; two mini-bundts, called Duo Cakes, $15.00, are packaged with espresso caramel sauce that fits nicely in the top wells.

    Order at 1812House.com.

      

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