Sunday, September 29, 2013

Best (Gluten Free) Fried Chicken EVER!

One of the things I dearly miss since going gluten free is fried chicken.  None of the commercial chicken strips/chicken nuggets are what I wanted.  I never made home made fried chicken before my diagnosis, why, when there's a KFC in every city and fried chicken in the deli at every grocer.

This recipe is NOT good for you!  But my philosophy is that, since I don't eat it that often, it's good to indulge cravings every once in a while. As a gluten free person,I can't drive through and get fries or fried chicken a couple times a week, so making fried chicken every 3 or 4 months is fine!  And if I say yes to the craving while it's small, I don't go crazy and over eat.

A couple years ago, I found this recipe.
The first time I made it, I followed the directions exactly (except the gluten flour)  He's right, it really is the Best Fried Chicken!  But it really took a long time, and clarifying the butter took FOREVER!  So I have taken some of the bits and discarded some of it, and changed some of it so that I can make it without it taking too much time (but you do need to plan ahead).

The first change I made is to use boneless skinless chicken breast strips.  Cut up 3 chicken breasts into 1/2 inch strips. 

Make a brine solution using 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1 quart of cold water.  Pour the brine over the chicken strips and refrigerate over night.  I like to use Ziplock bags for this but bowls are fine.

In the morning, pour the brine solution out and add 1 quart of cultured buttermilk.  Refrigerate for 8 hours (or until you are ready to cook dinner).

When ready to cook, strain off the buttermilk and stir in 1/2 cup of ranch dressing.  I really like Lighthouse jalapeno ranch, it's thicker and has a kick.  Mix it around until the chicken is well coated.

In a large Ziplock bag, combine 2 cups gluten free all purpose baking mix 2 teaspoons Steak Seasoning, 2 teaspoons paprika.  Mix well.

Add the chicken to the flour blend in the bag a few strips at a time.  Shake it up and gently squeeze the strips in the flour mixture.  This will make sure the coating is well adhered.

In a large frying pan, heat shortening to about 365°.  I usually use butter flavored Crisco, it gives the butter flavor without having to spend the time clarifying it.  In my experience, while the shortening is not as good for you as a cooking oil, the texture and final result are much better.  I also add some bacon grease to the shortening.  Whenever I make bacon, I pour the fat off into a cup and keep it in the fridge for things like this.

Fry the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side. The coating should be golden brown.  Refrigerate the leftovers.  I even love these cold, so when I make it I will make lots of extra and then use them in my lunches and on salads for a few days.

Please don't save any leftover solutions, once they have had chicken in them, they are a food hazard, and unless you are planning to make more within 2 days, it would be very very bad!  I do put the left over flour mixture in the freezer to use again next time.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Downside...

Tonight I made a yummy pot-roast with carrots and mashed potatoes for our Sunday dinner.  I decided on about an hour's notice before dinner was ready that I wanted rolls to go with it.  Rather than make one of my normal recipes, I threw together something new.  I used some scalded milk, and more butter than normal, I threw in some amaranth flour that I had sitting in the cupboard, and used up some leftover flour mix.

I didn't know if they would turn out or not, and I didn't bother to measure or write down what I was doing.  I wish that I had baked them in a muffin tin, as the dough was soft and spread out more than I wanted, but beyond that, they were perfect.  The outside was soft but just a touch crispy on the bottom.  The inside was soft and slightly chewy, and the flavor rocked.

And the downside of this perfect roll, is that I didn't write it down!  Now I am going to spend weeks trying to re-create it, when if I had just taken the time to measure and write it down, I could share it with you right now.

Sometimes being a great baker is a curse!  The downside to brilliance is moments like this!  Okay so I know I'm not brilliant, and when I do have these random flashes of genius, I manage to do something unique to mess it up!

When I figure it out, I will post it here~

Happy baking!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chocolate Coconut Rum Tart

A few years ago I was visiting a friend in Portland and she took me to Corbett's Fish House.  Now, people who know me know that I don't do fish, so this was a stretch for me.  I was very impressed that all their foods were gluten free, the bread and batter in rice flour and even had a gluten free dessert.  My friend got a piece of their gluten free cake and took it home with us.  If I had tried it before we left, I would have bought a couple (cakes not slices) to bring home with me!

It was a flour-less chocolate torte with an almond crust and macaroons soaked in butter rum sauce baked right inside the torte.  Decadent, sinful, rich, delectable, heavenly, these things don't even begin to describe this cake, for this cake, there are not English words to describe the feeling, it probably should be illegal.  Even the hardened chocoholics among us can only eat a small piece.

This cake is lots of work, and it's really expensive.  I only make it for special occasions, and I try to freeze some of it, since it freezes well.  On the bright side, it is so rich that you can easily serve 20 people one cake!

Okay, the first thing to make is the macaroons, I usually make them a day or two ahead of time.

Now make the rum sauce...
Try not to eat it all before you make the cake, maybe you better double the recipe just in case :-)

Next, bake the almond tart crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 10" spring-form pan.

About an hour before you make the Chocolate Oblivion, place enough macaroons to completely cover the bottom of the spring-form pan 2 times (this will vary depending on the size of the macaroons) in a bowl.  Add a few extra and then cover with the butter rum sauce.  You may have to stir them around gently to get them completely covered.  Set them aside and let the sauce soak in.

Last of all, make the Chocolate Oblivion Torte:

Beranbaum says this is her favorite way to eat chocolate. It is baked at a high temperature for a short time in a water bath delivering what she calls a result that is like the creamiest truffle wedded to the purest chocolate mousse. Be sure to serve it a room temperature, not chilled. I used Sharffen Berger 70% Bittersweet chocolate. Read through the recipe before starting, it is an easy cake to make, but there are lots of side notes that are important to the success of the cake.

Ingredients (all at room temperature):
bittersweet chocolate: 1 pound or 5 1/3 (3-ounce) bars or 454 grams (I use either 70 or 80% Lindt bars that you can find in the candy section of most grocery stores)
unsalted butter: 1 cup or 1/2 pound or 227 grams
6 large eggs: separated
1/4 Cup sugar

Prepare pan: outside of pan wrapped with a double layer of heavy-duly foil to prevent seepage. A roasting pan large enough for the spring-form pan to sit flat in it for the water bath.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl in the microwave.  Add the chocolate and let stand, stirring occasionally, until smooth and melted.  If the mixture cools you can re-heat it double boil style by placing the bowl into simmering water on the stove.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar with the bowl sitting in the simmering water (make sure you use a glass or metal bowl) and add to the chocolate mixture. Make sure they are room temperature or they will cool the chocolate mixture causing a curdled texture.

In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water heat the eggs whites, stirring constantly to prevent curdling, until just warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and beat, using the whisk beater, until triple in volume and soft peaks form when the beater is raised. The egg whites also need to be room temperature to prevent curdling.  If you do curdle the chocolate by mistake, don't stress, it will still taste great, it just won't look as smooth.

Using a large rubber spatula, fold 1/2 the eggs into the chocolate mixture until almost incorporated. Fold in the remaining eggs until just blended and no streaks remain. Finish by using a rubber spatula to ensure that the heavier mixture at the bottom is incorporated.

Put a thin layer of the chocolate in the bottom of the pan with the almond crust.  Arrange a layer of the rum soaked macaroons in the pan.  Spread half the remaining chocolate on top of the macaroons.  Arrange the remaining macaroons in the next layer.  Spread the remainder of the chocolate on top.  Smooth the top.

Strain any lumps of macaroon out of the rum sauce remaining in the bowl and save the sauce to garnish the cake.  I won't tell if you eat the rum soaked macaroon bits with a spoon!

Set the pan in the larger pan and surround it with 1 inch very hot water. Bake 5 minutes. Cover loosely with a piece of oiled foil and bake 10 minutes. (The cake will look soft, but this is as it should be.)

Let the cake cool on a rack 45 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 hours.

Serve: Room temperature. Drizzle with left over rum sauce. Cut into narrow wedges with a thin sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water.

Pointers for success: For a moist airy texture, be sure to add beaten eggs to chocolate mixture and not the chocolate to the eggs. Wrapping the pan with foil keeps it watertight. Chill thoroughly before unmolding.

So, as you can guess, I don't make this cake for every occasion, but when I really want a rich dessert, or I want to knock the socks off someone, this is where I turn.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Gluten Free Almond Tart Crust

This is the last installment in the recipes leading up to the most amazing cake you have ever had.  While the recipe is for the aforementioned cake, it is a fabulous crust that would go well with just about any tart that you wanted to make.  In fact I've been toying with using it to make a homemade version of Almondy Tarte.

I borrowed this recipe from a couple others I found,  I simply converted it to be Gluten Free!

Gluten-free almond tart
combined recipe from the Joy of Cooking and Deb's post of Dorie Greenspan's tart crust

3/4 c rice flour mix
3/4 c almond flour
½ c ground almonds
1/2 c brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 t xantham gum (scant)
1 stick cold butter
1 egg
1oz ( about 2 T almond paste, left from an 8 oz can
1 cup coconut (dried out coconut works best because it chops up better)

Pulse the dry ingredients together in the food processor, then cut up the butter and add that. Pulse until butter is about the size of peas. Beat the egg, and add while the processor is running. Keep mixing until the dough starts to come together. Pat the crust into a large spring form pan, prick all over with a fork, and freeze for half an hour or so. Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly grease the shiny side of a piece of foil, and press it down on top of the crust and over the edges. Bake 25 minutes. Take off the foil and fill as you would like, then bake again. If the edges get too brown, cover them with foil, but even dark brown the crust is still delicious and perfect. 
Maybe try it with this filling? Caramel Custard Tarts

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Butter Rum Sauce

Outback used to serve a cheesecake with a caramel sauce.  Back in the day before my diagnosis, I would go to Outback just for the cheesecake.  More than once I bought a pint of the caramel sauce to take home.  I tried several times to make the sauce, but never managed one that was close to what I wanted.  This sauce is it, I don't know if their sauce was a butter rum rather than a caramel, but it tastes just like I remember.

For the Cheesecake, I used this recipe with a couple of alterations.  Normally, I don't make graham cracker crusts, since GF graham crackers are so pricey.  This time I did make a crust because I had a whole box of Schar graham crackers that got stepped on, URG!  The package of crackers made less crumbs than the recipe calls for, but I still used the same amount of butter and sugar.

My cheesecake did fall just a little bit, I didn't think about the distance between the rack and the top burner in my new oven and it started to get really brown on top.  So I had to open it up and put foil on top, which made the cheesecake fall (but it still tastes great!)

The other change I made was that I replaced the vanilla extract with this fabulous vanilla bean paste.  Teaspoon per teaspoon replacement, but this is so yummy and is not bitter at all, so if you want a stronger flavor you can add a little more.  In fact, if you get a little on your finger, lick it off!  I found this at Thyme and Seasons in North Salt Lake.

Okay my little disclaimer here.  I have always made rum sauce with artificial rum flavoring.  This is the first time I've ever used actual rum, since I don't drink, I try to avoid it.  But, well, this sauce!  It was so good I seriously sat and licked the bowl clean when I was done with it.  You could certainly make it with rum extract, substitute 1/4 cup extract for the reduced rum.

The sauce recipe is the second recipe in my series leading up to the most amazing cake/torte you have ever had.

I'm going to have to go back to the liquor store so that I can make more of this stuff!

For the fun of it, before I reduced the rum, I lit it on fire.  I haven't cooked en flambe before, I think I will play with it in the future.   If you do choose to light your rum on fire, you will have to snuff it out after a while, simply cover the pan so it is  airtight and wait a couple minutes.

Butter rum sauce


1     cup packed brown sugar 

1    cube butter or margarine 

1  3/4    cup whipping (heavy) cream

1    cup rum

¼ teaspoon salt



Place rum in medium sauce pan over medium low heat. Reduce for 20-30 minutes until half the volume.  Add the other ingredients and cook over medium heat until boiling.  Boil 6-10 minutes stirring regularly.  Remove from heat and cool.

 At first, it seams like it isn't thick enough, but it thickens up a lot when you cool it. 

I went ahead and prepped the rum sauce at the same time I was making the cheesecake because I like the texture of the sauce when it has cooled and set all the way.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Coconut Macaroons

Macaroons are a cookie that is generally already gluten free... But I have my favorite recipe.  I'm posting this recipe as a preface to a post about the most amazing cake/torte you will ever have.  Make sure to check back for the next recipe you will need to make the torte.

One note, make sure you read the almond paste ingredients carefully, they are not all gluten free.  I use this one, it comes in an 8 ounce can.

Coconut Almond Macaroons
From the side of the Odense Almond Paste package
Makes approx. 35 cookies

1/2 cup egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 ounces almond paste, one can minus about 2 T
2 cups powdered sugar
14 ounce package sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment. In a large bowl, beat egg whites and extract until firm, but not dry. In food processor using the chopping blade, combine almond paste, sugar and coconut and mix until the texture of small crumbs. Gently fold mixtures together. Drop tablespoons of dough 1 inch apart onto cookie sheets (small scoop with wire release works well). Bake for 18 minutes, or until lightly browned on bottom, and firm to touch. Cool cookies on wire racks. Leave plain or decorate with chocolate if desired.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Wow, thank goodness it's Friday!  I don't know about you, but I'm tired!  It has been a really long day and an even longer week.  I'm tired and I don't want to cook.

Unfortunately, at least in my life, these days happen all too often.  This is why i have a few fast and easy stand-by dinners that only take a couple minutes to throw together.

Today, I was doing a Food Demo at the Utah State Fair.  I decided to make a fast and easy pot pie.  I have learned that no matter how well I plan, these little demos always go wrong.  I forgot the corn starch, my bowl was too small, and the oven didn't work.  I planned on a twenty minute demo and I kept checking the oven (at home it takes 10 minutes or so to bake) and it just wasn't done.  I finally turned it on to broil for 10 or 15 minutes, and it still was barely cooked!

But I enjoyed talking with people about the things that I've learned and the things that they want to see gluten free.  I promised to post the recipe here on the blog, so here it is:

Fast and easy chicken pot pie:
1 small bag frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, carrots and beans)
1/2 bag simply potatoes cubes with onions

1/2 to 1 cup cooked diced chicken breast
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon Better Than Bullion
1 Tablespoon corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
6 Chynna's Kitchen Gluten Free Biscuits
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400
Spray 9x9 pan with cooking spray.
Remove biscuits from freezer and allow to thaw while you prepare the filling.
Combine first 6 ingredient in a medium sauce pan and heat over medium high heat until simmering.  Stir and cook 4 minutes.  Add corn starch and water mix.  Stir in salt an pepper to taste.  Pour into prepared pan.  Cut 2 of the biscuits in half and arrange them all on top of the filling.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown.  Remove from oven and serve hot.

PS.  To those of you at the demo, I found the corn starch! It was on the floor boards of my car, it must have fallen out of the bag.  I knew I had grabbed it, I'm so relieved that I'm not going crazy after all :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Spiced Peaches

Several years ago I discovered the joys of canning...

The work is hot and sweaty and sticky, and it seems to last all day, but their is something so satisfying at the end of a long day to see all the beautiful bottles lined up on the counter and hear them popping as I put my feet up on the sofa.  At the end of the day, I had something tangible (and really yummy) to show for what I did all day.

This year, for the first time, I don't have fruit trees to can from.  But I still have bottled fruits I'm enjoying from last year.  As people have helped me pack and unpack, and then do it over again, I keep having the same question asked:  "What is that in the peaches, are you sure they are still okay?"

The answer is simple, I can my peaches (and pears,apples, and nectarines) with half a cinnamon stick and 4 cloves in each bottle.  This is a trick I learned from my mother.  As a teenager and young adult, I hated peaches.  Particularly the kind that come in all that thick syrup from the store.  A few years ago, my mom asked if I wanted to bottle her peaches and I explained that I hated peaches.  She was surprised and told me that spiced peaches had been one of my favorite foods as a little girl, so I decided to give it a shot and I fell in love again.

Follow this recipe for canning peaches in light syrup or really any recipe that you know you like, they are all about the same, I prefer the light syrup though.  You will change the recipe in 2 ways.  Before you fill the jars, place 1/2 cinnamon stick (2-3 inches long) and 4-5 whole cloves in each jar.  When making the syrup, skip the fruit fresh and use 1/4 cup of tang in 2 quarts of syrup.  Don't use the tang in pears or apples, but in peaches and nectarines it enhances the color and flavor.

These peaches make the best peach cobbler, I also love to stir them into vanilla ice cream. They are great alone as well.

A few tips to make canning more fun and faster:
  • Use the buddy system, more hands make light work and a friend gives you someone to chat with.
  • If you can get one, use a 2 or 3 burner camp stove and set it up outside (works great if you have a patio or deck off your kitchen)  run 2 or 3 caners at once, and processing outside keeps it from heating up your kitchen.
  • Don't ever can just a few cans, the cleanup is half the work, bottle as much fruit as you can get your hands on.
  • Get your kids involved!  They can wash and peal fruit and help fill bottles.  It's a great skill for them to learn and they enjoy eating it better when they helped make it.
  • Bottle all the fruit you have ready on the same day.   You can cook jam while prepping other fruits, or process one batch while preparing the next.
  • I know this is hard for some of you, but take a deep breath and accept the sticky.  If you stop to wipe up every little sticky spill, you will spend more time cleaning up than caning, just live with it until you are done and then clean it all at once. (or better yet, get your kids to clean it up while you eat some well deserved chocolate!)
My friend and I have canned together for several years and we have a system that works great for us.  We have 2 large pasta pots (with the strainers in them) that we use for blanching.  They fit much more than the blanching pots.  One of us mans  the blanchers while the other slips and slices the peaches (or whatever we are working on).  The sliced fruit goes into large bowls of cold water with fruit fresh in them.  When all the fruit is prepped, we fill the jars.  Using three water bath canners on the back deck on the camp stove we process 21 quarts at a time.  We have gone through more than 60 bottles in a given day in which we are still doing carpools and preschool runs etc.

Once all the bottles are cooled, we write the contents and year on the lid and then divide up the spoils.

Happy Canning!