Friday, May 21, 2010

Going gluten free and the amazing Pizzelle maker!

My Mom has known that she couldn't have gluten for a while now and she's said how she feels better now in her fifties than she did in her twenties! Well, I haven't been feeling great on an off more recently and wondered if I'd feel better without gluten. So I tried it. The initial change is a little hard, but I felt SO much better I don't miss any of it! As in, I don't have head-aches now (unless I accidentally have something that I shouldn't) and the most amazing thing for me was how I can now eat food and feel energized. That has NEVER happened to me. There are a few other health benefits that I've noticed as well, but the energy is really the best thing for me. Even when I was a teenager I was just used to eating something and feeling weirdly lethargic afterward (as if I had a big turkey dinner)... recently it was getting so bad that I couldn't keep up with my little girls or the house or my own projects I'd snap at them or at my husband and then feel like a terrible mother and wife. I'd feel stressed because I was too tired to get things done. Now that I've just taken gluten out of my diet I have the energy to do the things that I want and don't have the stress and/or guilt. My girls are also gluten free (since I don't know if it bothers them or not) and what I've noticed is that they are better behaved and seem to be less whiny and tired. It's much easier to train them and to homeschool when all of our moods start out good.

And if you wonder if going gluten free is a crock HERE is an article about "medical superstitions of the 21st century."

Also, if you want to try going gluten free just to see how you feel HERE is a list of ingredients to avoid that are added to meat and condiments and processed foods and so forth.

Another thought about this and then I'll talk about the Amazing Pizzelle maker (echo echo echo) is just that you might hear a lot about how you'll need to take a test to know for sure if you are gluten intolerant. But.. here's how they do that -- they'll have you eat gluten (if you aren't already) for 7 months or so and then take a biopsy (which is invasive and the test isn't even that accurate.) AND if they say that you ARE gluten intolerant, what will they do? They'll tell you not to eat gluten. Yes, that's right. Now if you are like me or my Mom who've figured this intolerance out with some basic trial and error and being aware of our own bodies you can avoid hurting yourself more (by going on gluten when you know it bothers you) and avoid the cost of the test (that is not perfectly accurate and will only tell you to not eat the stuff they told you to eat so they could take the test) Perhaps you are thinking what I thought so aptly expressed by the professor in "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe"? --"Logic. Why don't they teach logic at these schools."

The gluten-free recipes that I've found are fabulous! I like making them more than the old whole wheat bread that I used to make once a week. If anyone who is reading this wants to be directed to a fabulous bread recipe for sandwiches and french toast and the best pizza crust recipe bar NONE, let me know! I also found a good peanut butter cookie recipe made without any flour at all, but I want to figure out how to ditch the peanut butter and use another kind of nut butter (mainly because I don't like peanut butter cookies as much as just nut-something cookies), but that inventing will need to come later when I have more money again for food.

My husband found a fabulous gluten-free recipe on line for making pizzelle cookies (made with anise flavor or it can be made with vanilla which is just as good and tastes like a vanilla cookie.)

When they first come out of the pizzelle maker they are quite soft and as they cool they turn crispy. The great thing about using the pizzelle maker for the recipes is that you don't need the weird ingredients like all other gluten free baking! (Like gelatin, apple cider vinegar, Xanthum gum, and so forth.) Just a couple different kinds of flours and everything else is pretty normal for any kitchen to have.

Here's the cookie recipe--

3/4 cup tapioca starch flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) -- just a note here, if the butter is softened to room temp. you can use half the amount! But if it comes straight out of the fridge you'll probably need the whole stick.
3/4 cup sugar --- I use raw cane sugar, but granulated works just as well. ALSO, I've made this not only with half the butter amount but also with 1/2 cup of sugar instead of the 3/4 of a cup and I couldn't tell a difference. It was still fabulous.
4 eggs
1 tsp anise flavoring (or 1 tsp vanilla flavoring) -- make sure these flavorings are gluten-free of course
2 tsp baking powder

Mix all together with a hand mixer it should be sort of like cake batter and look about like this.
Put a little spoonful on the pizzelle maker as pictured bellow and slowly close the lid. It takes a little practice to know how much of a spoonful to put on there and the sides will overflow if there's too much (I always put my pizzelle maker on paper towels to catch the mess) It also can get pretty steamy so be aware about that too so you don't get burned from the steam. The idea is that the iron cooks it so quickly that the cookies end up fluffy/crispy and are essentially perfect! AND no one can tell they are gluten-free. In fact everyone will be begging for more! Even my picky eater of a little brother loved these.

I laterally only keep the lid closed on these cookies for about 20 seconds, but you can lift the lid after the first 7-10 seconds though to check how tanned you want them (depending on how crispy you personally like your cookies you can just cook them for more or less time, just check them often so they don't get over done.) Also, if they stick a little you can spray some olive oil or pam or something on the pizzelle maker to help with that. I don't often have to worry about that, because they are easy to peal off even if they do stick slightly. When they first come out you can either just cut the excess off from around the pretty design or you can use a cookie cutter as I had pictured earlier (while they are still soft) you can also roll them into waffle cones or into the shape of a bowl or something, but you will have some crumbs left over. Now, we've just eaten all the crumbs before (my husband loves taking over that job), BUT another idea that I thought of was to use the crumbs in a crust (instead of a gram-cracker crust) for a no-bake CHEESE cake!!! Yes, I have a recipe for that if you can't find a good one on line (just make it like a gram cracker crust only use the pizzelle crumbs instead of the gram cracker.) SO easy and FABULOUS (and.. gluten free of course.)
But, I got to thinking... what else could I use this pizzelle maker for? How about breakfast bars?

YES! I dubbed them "Jam Tarts" and tweaked the recipe of the cookies to come up with something a little softer and with a more wholesome flour. Honey rather than sugar and olive oil rather than butter.

3/4 cup tapioca flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup Garbanzo or Fava flour (you could switch out this flour for more brown rice flour if you don't want to use the bean flour or don't have it, the bean flour give is a little heavier feel and a bit of protein as well.)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey -- slips easily out of the measuring cup because of the olive oil that you just used
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (you can leave out the vanilla if you don't want it to taste like a sweet bread.. that is, if you are using this version for fried egg sandwiches or something.)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Again, mix it all up as before with a hand mixer. The batter will be a bit more.. umm.. syrupy? That is, it won't be runny, but it will feel heavier when you dish it onto the pizzelle maker.
The coloring of the finished pizzelles with this recipe are more mottled looking (like whole wheat waffles) and will stay moister longer as you put the jam on them.

Check these after about half a minute because you don't want them to get too dark (pizzelles cook really fast!) And if you find that you've over cooked one slightly (as in, a minute might be too long!) then just remember to check it sooner the next time you cook one.(Notice the flexibility of this version!)
After I put jam on on side and fold it, I cut them in half and then put jam on top of that and put them together so I get some layering like this! Now, you could leave it like that or cut it into thirds as I do so it's easier for my little ones to have a hand held treat or breakfast when I'm on the run. They remind me a lot of a "nutragrain" bar and can be kept in a tupperware in the fridge for easy access. For me, these have stayed pretty moist (which is unusual for a gluten-free product.) If they aren't moist enough for you you can always try adding another egg or something and trying the batch again. It doesn't matter much HOW these batches are made (in a way) because they always "taste" good, but if you are like me and want to invent something specific just try a few different alterations and see what happens. :] Or, cook it for a less amount of time or add more jam and it should stay moister. :]
NOW! My favorite (or at least most used!) Pizzelle recipe invention.

THE CRACKER! Yes, these are the BEST gluten-free crackers ever! And as with all of these recipes-- each batch from scratch to finish takes about a half hour and can make up to 20 or so pizzelles. (The cookie one actually only took me FIFTEEN minutes from scratch to completely finished the last time I did it!)

The basic salted cracker recipe is as follows--

1 cup Tapioca starch flour -- note, Tapioca starch and Tapioca flour are the same thing
1 cup brown rice flour -- note you can make this partly with white rice flour as well, but it's not as healthy so I do more with the brown rice flour.
3 eggs
2 T. olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder

AND if you want rosemary crackers add 3 to 6 tsp rosemary
OR 3 to 6 tsp basil and 2 tsp garlic powder
or try adding your own favorite herbs or Parmesan cheese or whatever! They are very versatile.

Again, cook the same as the others (they will be a little thicker than either of the other recipes) and after about 10 seconds I open the Pizzelle maker while they are still not browned yet and sprinkle a little salt on the tops of them. Then, close the pizzelle maker again and cook for around a minute. I check it often till it's as dark as I want it. They'll taste good on the blonder side, but if you want it more crispy cook it till it's a bit more golden brown. If you cook it on the blonder side and happen to have made the basil/garlic ones you could even make these into little pizza crusts for small lunch size pizzas! Oh, yes.. much tastiness awaits. This version will come out of the pizzelle maker already hardened where as the cookies will be quite flexible at first and you can form them into shapes and as they cool they will harden to the shape you form them into, the "jam tart" version (if not overly cooked) will tend to stay flexible and not crumble as much as the other two.

As with the other recipes-- cool on a wire rack and the crackers will stay fresh for about a week (if they don't get eaten before then!) I love having these crackers with guacamole and salad or dipped in soups and things. Honestly with these and the only three other recipes that I've come across (and the fabulous quinua pasta noodles) I haven't missed "normal" foods at all because these are BETTER.

It was a little dicey at first with my four year old as she couldn't have her "life" cereal or fishy crackers anymore, but with the "Jam Tarts" and the fabulous crackers and cookies and another recipe that I got from my mom (a dark bread that takes a T. of cocoa powder!) she hasn't missed anything either!

You can find Pizzelle makers for about $40 on amazon I've been told (mine is an old one from my husbands childhood.) And this is what you can make (that I've discovered so far) with those three basic recipes--

--Anise Pizzelle cookies
--vanilla wafer cookies
--Chocolate cookies (add a few T. of cocoa powder! I used Hershey's dark chocolate when I did it)
--Lemon cookies
--Any or all flavored cookie crumbs to be made into a pie crust (like a gram-cracker pie crust)
--Salted Crackers (we've used these for communion bread at church as well)
--Rosemary Crackers
--Cheese Crackers
--Herb and garlic crackers
--Herby mini pizza crusts (cooked till just blond to keep them softer and less like the cracker)
--Croutons! --add extra herbs and spices and cook the crackers slightly longer for a crunchier --texture, crumble and there you go!
--Breakfast bars (filled with layers of jam, I used blackberry)
--Waffles (made the same way as the breakfast bars but eaten right away with maple syrup)

Other ideas-- top the cookies with whip-cream and berries or creamcheese frosting and sprinkles
-- put taco seasoning on the crackers (rather than sprinkling with salt) for a tortilla chip taste (McCormick is usually a safe brand for spices)
-- Turn the "waffles" into a fried egg sandwich!

And I'm sure other people can think of more even to do with this! It truly IS an amazing Pizzelle maker, and for a busy mom like me a half hour a batch is just right to do sometime during the day. OR even a working mother with not much time at home can do these easily before dinner or on a weekend.

If anyone needs to ask a question please let me know and I'll be happy to answer any that I can!

I'm only posting my inventions because I really want to help other people who want to go (or are) gluten free to make their lives easier and have some incredibly tasty food that any guest or picky child will ask again and again to eat as well. So feel free to share these recipes and tell other people!

If your family isn't gluten-free and you want these recipes for your friends who can't have gluten please be aware that any molecule of flour gluten can cause some people trouble, so clean the pizzelle maker really well and use jam or other ingredients that have not had a contaminated knife put into them (as in, you buttered gluten bread and transferred the crumbs into the butter from the bread or jam or whatever.)

A big thanks to all of my gluten-free friends who've taste tested these recipes for me and also for paying for the ingredients of some of the batches so I could perfect the recipes!

Now, all you need to specially get is a pizzelle maker and two different kinds of flour to get started going gluten-free in a delicious way!
Happy EASY baking everyone!!!


krull_etc said...

Congrats on going gluten free. I recommend working towards totally eliminating grains, though. Gluten gets a lot of pub, but there's really not a good reason to have any type of grain because there are more issues than the gluten. I try sticking to grain free, then if I cheat go for something gluten free, then if I'm really bad something with gluten.

Rebekah said...

Wow! That's really great that you figured that out and that pizzelle maker looks really cool! :-)

jeremy and lenore diviney said...

cool. you tempt me to try.

Heather said...

Wow, you are so industrious!
Although I have a pizza crust recipe we are quite happy with, how can I resist trying your best in the world one?!? Could you email it to me?