Archives for January 2008

Gluten-Free Almond Waffles

A waffle for everyone
We invited some friends over for brunch over the weekend who are fish-eating vegetarians with a child who has Celiac disease and is on a gluten-free diet. My husband T doesn’t eat any dairy products, and my own kids want nothing but pancakes and bacon for breakfast on Sunday mornings.

What to do? Trying to find the perfect menu on occasions like this is challenging, to say the least.

But I take it on with relish (no, not the kind with pickles). Figuring out the right formula of foods that will please everyone can be like solving an intricate puzzle, kind of like completing the Sunday New York Times crossword. Not that I ever attempt crosswords; my own problem-solving skills come directly from the right side of my brain.

I felt satisfied with my choice to make Belgian waffles, because everyone likes them, but I needed to make them acceptable to those avoiding wheat and dairy.

Because I’m now in the business of cooking for people, (look at my new DinnerStyle website!) catering to each of their personal dietary needs, restrictions and desires is also my business. So I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to test a recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free waffles.

Fellow blogger Sheltie Girl at Gluten A Go Go recently posted a recipe for hazelnut waffles that looked delicious – I decided to give them a whirl.

I ended up playing with the recipe quite a bit (which always manages to drive T a little crazy – he’s a left-brained instruction-follower sort of guy), because I didn’t have exactly the ingredients that Sheltie Girl calls for in her recipe.

There was a spine-tingling moment just minutes before our guests arrived when I thought the experiment was a dud – I was this close to sending T out for bagels, but the batter came together and baked up into big, beautiful waffles with a crisp outside and tender inside. Success!

I served them with warm maple syrup and a big bowl of fresh fruit.

Gluten-Free Almond Waffles

Makes about 6 Belgian-style waffles

2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour ( I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
1/2 cup almond flour or meal
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 eggs, separated
1 3/4 cups unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Heat waffle iron to medium-high and spray with nonstick spray if necessary.

Mix flours, flaxseed, baking powder, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Stir in the egg yolks, soy milk, oil and extracts and whisk until smooth. Let batter stand 5 minutes to allow flaxseed to gel.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer or with the whisk attachment of an immersion blender (my favorite method for beating small amounts of egg whites) until soft peaks form; fold egg whites evenly into batter.

Pour batter onto waffle iron and bake about 5 minutes, or until steaming stops. Remove waffle carefully and transfer to a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven to keep warm.

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food

Homemade Rosemary Potato Gnocchi

Leave the gun, take the gnocchi

We have just a few traditions in our house that we abide by with comforting regularity, and one of them is spending the holidays during the last few weeks of the year with my sister-in-law L, otherwise known as YaYa, and her husband S, The Old Man.

Because they teach at a university, they have the benefit of a long vacation break between semesters. Because we have a few children, we make them fly out of Logan Airport at holiday time to visit us. It’s a win-win situation, really.

When I tell people that we have relatives moving in for a few weeks over the holidays, they usually groan in sympathy. I know they’re probably imagining a scene out of a John Candy movie, where crazy Uncle Jack overstays his visit, starts drinking beer at lunch, terrorizes the children and stops up the toilet.

While we definitely start drinking lots more alcohol and we have actually called upon the services of Roto Rooter at least once this past month, to say that we look forward to the visit is putting it mildly. We live for it.

Who wouldn’t? For us, it’s all about celebrating and feasting; for two whole weeks we feel like we’re on vacation. By unplugging ourselves from our usual routine we can really get into the spirit of things. We cook together just about every night. We make multiple trips to the wine store to restock, and depending on our mood, stay up too late listening to music, talking or playing our favorite obscure board game, Who Killed Dr. Lucky.

We manage to keep up a fun spirit of camaraderie in the kitchen; everyone gravitates toward a job, depending on the menu. T and The Old Man team up for things like crabcakes and their famous pumpkin ravioli, while YaYa is mistress of salads and table setting. She also helps me plan our list of menus, because somebody needs to be in charge.

Although, this year, because I just finished reading Phoebe Damrosch’s book Service Included, we took to calling each other “chef” – with the just the right tone of irony, of course – because Thomas Keller runs his kitchen with a sense of democracy, that’s how all the employees at Per Se are instructed to communicate, apparently.

This was our Year of the Gnocchi. We used a recipe from chef Charlie Palmer’s cool waterproof book, the Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen. We all agreed that these were as light, tasty and fluffy as potato dumplings could be. I think that baking the potatoes (rather than boiling them) makes for lighter gnocchi; they don’t absorb all that water and can just merge gracefully with the flour and egg.

The lost art of gnocchi rolling

If you don’t have a neat ridged gnocchi board, you can use a fork to make distinctive grooves in each dumpling. However, you will miss out on the pleasure of feeling just like an Italian mama.

Potato Rosemary Gnocchi

Serves 6, generously
Adapted from a recipe by Charlie Palmer3 large baking potatoes, about 2 pounds total
2 egg yolks
2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil (if sauteeing)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Poke the potatoes a few times with a fork and place directly on the oven rack. Bake about 1 hour, or until fork-tender. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and push them through a food mill or ricer into a large bowl.

Add the salt and egg yolk, and 2 cups of flour and mix together. Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until a soft (but not sticky), smooth dough forms.

Divide the dough into portions the size of your hand, and roll each into a rope about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 1-inch lengths. If you’re inclined, roll each gnocchi firmly over a gnocchi board or the concave side of a fork. Arrange the gnocchi on a floured baking sheet as you go.

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil; drop the gnocchi in batches into the water and boil until they bob to the surface, about 3 minutes.

At this point, you can sauce them up as you please, or lay them out on a tray and freeze them (transfer them to zippered bags when they’re solid) so that you have an emergency late-night gnocchi stash on hand .
If you want to sauté the gnocchi, set up an ice bath with a colander set into a large bowl of ice water. Remove the gnocchi from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately drop them into the colander. Drain and toss with the olive oil.

Just before serving, sauté the gnocchi in melted butter, garlic and some spinach or dandelion greens. Pass the grated Parmesan.

Gnocchi getting a toss in the pan

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food