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141January 2012 Chewin' the News from Carol

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  • Carol Santee
    Jan 30, 2012

      January 2012 - My "Test" Kitchen!

      by Carol Santee

      To read the complete newsletter on our website, click here.

      If the links in this newsletter don't work, please see the "NOTE:" at the bottom.



      In This Issue:








      A Week in the Kitchen with Carol

      Happy New Year, everyone!

      My friends are always asking me what new recipes I am making. One even asked about my "test kitchen". I never thought of my kitchen as a test kitchen. I guess in some ways it is! I am always experimenting with new recipes, ingredients, flavors, etc. When the kids lived at home, I would tell them that we were having experimental food night. They loved it! They test their own recipes in their kitchens today.


      This month I wanted to experiment with a food topic that many of you have had questions about - gluten free cooking. I have several friends that are gluten free cooks but I have never experimented with the recipes myself. I am not an expert in this subject but here is what I have learned so far.

      What typical ingredients used in common recipes contain gluten?

      • wheat based flours (all purpose flours, wheat flours) and products made with wheat based flours (breads, cakes, pies, cereals, cookies, crackers, croutons, gravy)

      • barley (used in breads, soups, beer, whiskey, instant coffee and coffee substitutes)

      • rye (breads and alcoholic beverages)

      • pastas

      • flavored rice dishes

      • frozen vegetables with sauce packets

      • canned soups

      • imitation bacon bits, meat or seafood

      • some salad dressings

      • sauces and marinades

      • some soy sauce

      This is an incomplete list but you get the general idea!


      The Goal

      My goal in this test was to try out several gluten free flour mixes that could be used in baking. I started out with some gluten free flours and starches that can be used in place of all purpose and whole wheat flours. These include white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, soy flour, and potato starch. I also purchased xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is used to bind gluten free ingredients. General rule of thumb -

      • Cookie recipes need 1/2 teaspoon or less per 1 cup of gluten free flour mix

      • Bread and pizza crust recipes need 1 teaspoon per one cup of flour mix

      • Muffin, cake and quick bread recipes generally need 1/2 teaspoon per one cup of flour mix


      The Recipes

      I tested three different gluten free flour mixes. Each one produced different results! Here are my initial test recipes:

      Recipe #1
      Recipe #2Recipe #3

      Makes 3 Cups

      2 cups rice flour

      2/3 cup potato starch

      1/3 cup tapioca flour

      1 teaspoon xanthan gum

      Makes 3 Cups

      1 cup rice flour

      1/3 cup brown rice flour

      2/3 cup potato starch

      1/3 cup corn starch

      1/3 cup soy flour

      1/3 cup tapioca flour

      1 teaspoon xanthan gum

      Makes 3-1/2 Cups

      2 cups rice flour

      1/2 cup potato starch

      1 cup tapioca flour

      2 teaspoon xanthan gum

      1/4 t. salt


      Test #1 - Muffins

      I chose the recipe Tara's Favorite Muffins from the Members area of the website for my test. I made three half recipes (6 muffins per recipe/18 total) of the muffins using each of the gluten free flour mixes above. I also added 1/2 cup of chocolate chips to each recipe to test the density of the batter.


      Muffin Results

      I love to eat muffins warm right out of the oven. This was the criteria for the first taste test. Recipe #1 was hard to get out of the pan and the texture was not "muffin like". It was grainy. Recipe #2 was light and fluffy but all the chocolate chips sank to the very bottom of the muffin. Recipe #3 was good. The texture was nice but not as fluffy as #2 but the chocolate chips were evenly distributed in the muffin. This test resulted in a tie between Recipe #2 (for texture) and Recipe #3 (for chocolate chip distribution).


      Test #2 - Pizza Crust

      I chose one of my favorite recipes for pizza crust. After the bad results of Recipe #1 in the Muffin Test, I decided just to test with Recipe #2 and Recipe #3. I made the crusts and replaced the flour cup for cup in recipe.


      Pizza Crust Results

      I wasn't happy with the performance of either flour in this recipe but I have not given up. I have decided to buy new yeast. I'll try the recipe again next month with the fresh yeast and maybe some more xanthan gum before making a decision on pizza crust.


      Test #3 - Pancakes

      I decided to test making pancakes with Recipe #2 and Recipe #3. I made them using a standard pancake recipe:


      1 cup flour (gluten free flour mix used in the test)

      2 tablespoons sugar

      2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten free)

      1/4 teaspoon salt

      1 egg

      1 cup milk

      2 tablespoons oil

      1/2 teaspoon vanilla


      Pancake Results

      I was very happy with the pancakes made with Recipe #2. They were light and they tasted exactly how you expect a pancake to taste. The pancakes made with Recipe #3 were mediocre. They were edible but it was definitely not my favorite recipe. The clear winner was Recipe #2.


      Just One More Test

      I was very happy with the texture of the muffin using Recipe #2 but I needed to resolve the issue of the chocolate chips sinking to the bottom of the muffin. I made some changes to Recipe #2. I changed the amount of brown rice flour, potato starch, and xanthan gum.

      Updated Recipe #2

      Makes 3 Cups

      1 cup rice flour

      2/3 cup brown rice flour

      1/3 cup potato starch

      1/3 cup corn starch

      1/3 cup soy flour

      1/3 cup tapioca flour

      1-1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

      I made the Chocolate Chip Muffins again. The chocolate chips stayed off the bottom of the muffin and were evenly distributed throughout the middle of the muffin. The texture of the muffin was still very good. So far so good.



      The updated version of Recipe #2 seems to be the better all purpose gluten free flour mix. Recipe #3 would be good as a cup for cup replacement flour for cake and muffin recipes.


      I was really surprised at the cost of ingredients used in gluten free cooking. Next month I will talk more about the cost of the ingredients and premade gluten free products.


      I still want to tackle the Pizza Crust recipe. I would also like to try some gluten free bread and noodle/pasta recipes.


      Do you have a homemade gluten free flour mix that you use? I would love to hear about your recipes or your experiences with gluten free cooking.




      Chicken Cacciatore

      I also tested a recipe for Chicken Cacciatore that was absolutely wonderful! I just had to share it with you. I will definitely be adding this recipe to my monthly menu. I tested this recipe using chicken thighs but you can also make this with chicken breasts to a lower fat content.





      Enjoy the recipes and the stories about my test kitchen experience! I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!


      Do you have any recipes that you would like to share? I'd love to try and share them with everyone. You can post your recipes on the Cook's Corner Message Board, on the 30 Day Gourmet Facebook® fan page, or email me at carol@.... Or do you have any other topics that you would like me to cover? Email me at carol@.... I enjoy hearing from you!

      Have fun in your kitchen!



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