From the Pan into the Fire

Culinary Wanderings in Gluten Free Living

French Fry Envy
Sometimes I go out with friends to a local fast food restaurant and watch them eat humongous greasy burgers served with a basket piled high with fries. Generally I am appalled at the scene, but from time to time the scent of freshly made fries trips me up and I go home with French fry envy.

Now the weather outside is frightful, with the first snowstorm of the season dropping a couple of inches as I type this. I didn't even see my friends tonight, but I must have been thinking about them because I came home and made my own version of French fries, aka Potato Pakoras.

Pakoras are Indian street food -- battered and deep-fried vegetables. The batter is ridiculously easy to make, and is naturally gluten-, dairy-, and egg-free. It does not need to sit, but is ready to use as soon as the ingredients are stirred together. So get out your fry-pot or big cast iron skillet ... these will warm you to the bones. Feel free to substitute other vegetables, zucchini for instance.

Potato Pakoras

1/3 cup besan (gram flour or garbanzo bean flour)
1 tablespoon rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup water

1 pound potatoes or other vegetables, peeled (or not) and cut into 1/4-pinch thick slices

oil for deep frying

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the water and mix to a thick paste. Add the vegetables and mix until slices are completely coated with the paste.

Heat the oil to about 340 degrees F. Add as many coated vegetable slices as the pan will hold in a single layer. Fry until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels before serving.

These could be served with a dip or chutney but they are really very fine on their own.

Sesame Honey Eggplant
Found this recipe a couple of years ago in Saveur magazine. What makes this recipe is the honey and mint. Serve this with a baked dish and salad, so you've got your hands and stove-top free to fry the eggplant.

One 1/2-pound eggplant,peeled and cut into 1/8-inch crosswise slices
1 1/8 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/3 to 1/2 cup flour -- sorghum works well
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
mild olive oil for frying
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scatter sesame seeds on a small oven try and toast until lightly golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Reserve.

Soak the eggplant slices in 2 cups water mixed with 1 teaspoon of the salt for 30 minutes. Drain the eggplant and dry well on paper towels.

In a small bowl mix together the flour, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and baking powder. Whisk in the milk and egg. Batter is rather thin.

Pour oil to a depth of 1/2 inch in a large skillet or use a deep fryer. Heat oil until it quickly browns a bread cube, about 400 degrees. Dip eggplant slices in the batter, coating well, then place immediately in the hot oil and cook about 30 seconds on each side, until lightly golden. Drain on paper towels.

Warm the honey in a small saucepan or microwave. Drizzle lightly over the fried eggplant rounds, sprinkle with sesame seeds and mint, and serve right away.

Now maybe we are just super hungry when we make this, but we are noshing these hot from the skillet as soon as we get the honey, mint and seeds on. Not sure if this dish qualifies as appetizer, dessert, or vegetable, but we haven't yet had leftovers.

Recipe Notes: Use the long, slender variety of eggplant found in Asian groceries. Skip the soaking and draining steps, and use 1/2 tsp salt in the batter.

Rice Calas

Originally rice calas (or fritters) were sweet and deep-fried. See Nola Cuisine for some of the history. The recipe below is for savory fritters which are best cooked in a non-stick pan with just a bit of olive oil.

This recipe is from Backpacker magazine. An unlikely source for a great recipe perhaps, but hey, good food can and should be eaten anywhere under any circumstances. This recipe is easy enough that even people who don't cook can make it.

Haven't yet tried making them with dried eggs or pre-cooked rice but will keep that in mind. Made them the first time last month when we were camping up north. They were great food on a dark night and they've been great every time since that we've made them. Serve next to chicken or meat, or on their own topped with a vegetable sauce (salsa, mushroom, marinara, or Trader Joe's Pinjur) for a light vegetarian meal.

This recipe is highly adaptable to gluten free flours and takes kindly to experimentation. Mix them up with your favorite gluten free flour blend, or choose your own flours. We've enjoyed them using half almond meal and half millet flour. They were also really tasty made with garbanzo bean flour with the addition of a rounded teaspoon of curry powder and a teaspoon or two of dried mint. They would be good made with part wild rice and perhaps with part millet or buckwheat too. Mix up the dry ingredients ahead of time to keep on hand for a quick dinner or when company shows up.

Campfire Calas

1 pouch precooked rice, 8.8 oz (equivalent to 2 cups cooked rice). Be sure to verify package is gluten free.

either 3/4 cup water and 2 tbs dried eggs (add eggs to dry mix)
or 1/4 cup water and 2 fresh eggs, whisked together

Dry Mix

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (plain or smoked), finely chopped)
2 tablespoons chopped dried chives
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil for frying.

If making at home: In mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and water. Stir in rice. Stir in dry ingredients.

If making with dried eggs: In mixing bowl stir rice and water together. Stir in dry ingredients.

To cook: Add oil to non-stick skillet; heat over medium-low heat. Drop spoonfuls of rice mix into skillet and flatten slightly. Firm up edges. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom and fritter holds together well enough to turn easily. Turn and cook until lightly browned on both sides. Serve warm. Makes about a dozen 2-inch fritters which serves about 4 people. Refrigerate leftovers to eat for breakfast.

Awesome Cranberry Cobbler
Nantucket Cranberry Tart

Found this recipe in Taste of Home magazine. It is easy, and readily adapts to gluten free flours. I have used both a half cup white rice flour with a half cup chestnut flour, and a half cup white rice flour with a half cup millet flour. The batter is thinner with the millet flour but it doesn't seem to matter. I've also used peaches and pecans with brown sugar for the base (sorry, no exact measurements, but it was about 4 cups frozen peach slices, thawed, a cup or more of pecans, mixed with about 3/8 cup brown sugar). This recipe tolerates experimentation fairly well, so use your imagination!

1 12-ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 eggs
3/4 cup butter or dairy-free margarine, melted
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Combine cranberries, almonds, and 1/2 cup sugar, and spread evenly in bottom of 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Beat together the eggs, melted margarine, extract, and remaining sugar. Stir in flours of your choice and baking powder until just blended. Spread evenly over berries.

Bake at 325F for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12 servings.

Note: Original recipe did not have baking powder, but I prefer it leavened. Haven't yet remembered to dust the top with confectioners' sugar although I'm sure this would make it pretty. Mostly we cut this up like cookie bars, although if we were serving for holiday dessert we'd slice it in wedges. Even with just the two of us this does not last long. Not long at all. I've had to buy cranberries a couple more times just to verify that this recipe is indeed really good :) Happy eating!

Weddng Reception at the Marriott
Four days before the wedding we finally hear from the groom that the Marriott West in Waukesha, Wisconsin, can handle our gluten-free dairy-free diets. I was delighted. We'd picked out a GF friendly restaurant just in case, but it was really nice to be included at the dinner along with the rest of the family.

As soon as the waiters arrived at the table we let them know about our diets. They were perfect. We did not have to explain what gluten or dairy means. They let us know our salads would be delayed because they were being made up dairy-free. They were aware enough to not drop bread on our plates when they were serving everyone else. And did not bring cake to us either. Very professionally done. Our dinners were excellent. Kudos to the Marriott for taking the stress out of our experience and helping us have such a great time.

Cornbread for a Crowd
Make this up for your next chili party or summer picnic. Freeze leftovers for another time.

We prefer cornbread that is not sweet. My companion covers his in honey anyway, and I like mine crumbled into my chili. If you prefer a sweeter cornbread double the sugar to 3/4 cup.

3 cups cornmeal
1 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
3/8 cup sugar (more to taste)
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons salt

5 eggs
3 cups water
3/4 cup cooking oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a half-sheet pan. Combine dry ingredients in a big mixing bowl. Combine eggs, water and cooking oil in a medium size mixing bowl. Working quickly, combine wet and dry ingredients, stirring or whisking just to combine. Pour batter into the half-sheet pan and bake 30 minutes until golden brown on top.

e-mail: Cashew2

Millet Carrot Loaf
This recipe is adapted from one in Soups, Stews & Quickbreads by Jan Thomson. Made this up in a mini-bun pan and used the buns for cocktail type sandwiches filled with a vegetarian spicy black bean spread. Made 12 mini-buns plus 4 hamburger buns. The little buns are colorful and fun to eat.

Millet Carrot Bread

1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1 tsp salt
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 package yeast
1 tsp sugar
2/3 cup warm water
2 tbs cooking oil
3 eggs
1 cup carrots, grated
1 tbs lemon juice

Combine the flours, salt, and xanthan gum in a mixing bowl. In a larger bowl, proof the yeast in the warm water with the sugar. Add the eggs, oil, carrots and lemon juice to the yeast and mix in with electric mixer. Mix in the dry ingredients and beat a few minutes until smooth. Pour into bun pans or a loaf pan and let rise until nearly doubled. Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes (for loaf) or until done. Should be golden brown on top.

This easy vegetarian bean spread makes a nice filler for sandwiches. Other suggested fillers:

  • creamy salad dressing or mayo with thin slices of cucumber, tomato and ham or roast beef

  • tuna, chicken or turkey salad

Spicy Black Bean Spread

16-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup salsa
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons finely diced green pepper
3 tablespoons finely diced red pepper

Use a food processor to process the beans until smooth. Add the salsa, cilantro, cumin, salt and black pepper and process just to mix, leaving some small chunks of tomato, if desired. Stir in chopped peppers. Use as a dip or sandwich spread. Recipe from Spreads, Toppers, & Dips by Diane Rozas, 1997.

Another Fresh Basil Dressing
This time of year at the farmer's market we get huge bunches of basil for only $1.00. It doesn't keep real well but it's a great excuse for creativity in the kitchen! I had a jar of peach jam with one lonely tablespoon left in the bottom. It was the perfect amount. Apricot jam would work too. This slightly sweet, creamy dressing makes about 1 cup.

Creamy Basil Salad Dressing

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1 tbs peach or apricot jam
2 tbs red onion
2 tbs white wine vinegar
3/8 cup salad oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise

In blender cup process basil, jam, onion, vinegar and salad oil until nearly smooth. Add mayonnaise and process again. There should be tiny bits of minced basil showing. Cover and refrigerate. Serve over chilled greens.

Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Salad Dressing
I've been playing around with making my own dressings -- with a blender or food processor it really doesn't take any longer than reading the labels on bottles at the grocery, and is tons cheaper. Came up with this one yesterday that we really enjoy. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3/8 cup olive oil
3/8 cup cooking oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 roasted red pepper (from a jar), rinsed and drained
1/3 tsp white pepper
salt if desired

Place all ingredients in blender cup and blend until smooth.

Gluten Free in Riverton, Wyoming
We were driving through the pretty city of Riverton, Wyoming on our recent vacation when a neon sign caught my eye. "Gluten Free Foods". It took a full second for this to sink in. Using a traffic maneuveur typically reserved for garage sale signs, we parked and walked back. Graham‘s Gluten Free Market turned out to be a well-stocked store attended by a friendly lady who helped us find our way around. And they carry Mi-Del Ginger Snaps! My favorite! We stocked up on goodies before hitting the road again. Just wanted to pass the word on for anyone who might be traveling to Wyoming this year.


Log in