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Thou shalt not compare

29 Nov

This past weekend was Mantou’s Mom’s birthday (I won’t reveal which one). Another birthday, another allergen-free cake. I picked the recipe and made it (though MM made the frosting). I quite liked it. It was a bit different from the cake at Mantou’s 1st birthday, but not too different. In general, the wheat-free cakes seem to be dense and spongy. I assume it’s the rice flour that contributes the most to these properties.

My folks called to wish MM happy birthday, and inevitably we talked about the cake. After mentioning the sponginess, my mother asked if it was spongy like angel food cake. It’s at that point that I realized the problem with making allergen-free foods. We always compare them to their allergen-filled counterparts. Every time we make a wheat-free, egg-free, milk-free, nut-free cake, we compare it to our memories of the “normal” cakes we’ve had all our lives. I realized that this is unfair to our new creations. It’s like constantly comparing the baby in the family to the eldest instead of just celebrating the baby’s unique qualities and faults. So I’m determined to stop comparing and start assessing based on our allergen-free foods own merits. Perhaps a new vocabulary is in order. Instead of “wheat-free bread”, maybe we should just call it “pano”. “Wheat-free cake” could be “kuko”. Then when we serve it people won’t jump to make that comparison.

Scallion Pancakes

26 Oct

Wow, I can’t believe Wikipedia has an article for cong you bing. I love these green onion pancakes. While in China, my husband and I had our favorite street vendor that we’d buy about 2 kuai worth. It is a flat pancake like roti that is thin and layered with green onions folded within the layers. In the US, many Chinese restaurants serve cong you bing as a weekender snack along with other specialties like sweet warm soy bean milk with Chinese doughnuts. A couple of restaurants in our neighborhood sell them. Alas, they are made from wheat flour so I haven’t had been able to savor those fine snacks. Well guess what? I found a recipe for making these green onion pancakes online from “Diet, Dessert, and Dogs” and finally got around to trying it this weekend.


1-1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp (360 ml) Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten Free flour

2 Tbsp (30 ml) glutenous rice flour

3/4 tsp (3.5 ml) Bob’s Red Mill Xanthan gum

1/2 cup to 10 Tbsp (120-150 ml) warm water

2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper, optional

3 green onions, white and light green parts

Combine the all-purpose gluten-free flour, rice flour and xanthan gum into a bowl and whisk to combine well.  Add the warm water slowly and mix with your hands till it forms a soft dough. Form the dough into a ball and cover with a damp cloth; let rest for 15-20 minutes.

Prepare the surface area to roll out dough by covering with a light layer of all-purpose flour. Roll out the dough to a disk of around 12-14 inches, dust with flour as needed to keep from sticking.  Brush lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and green onions.

Roll up the dough tightly to form a long roll. The dough will be a little dry so be careful the roll doesn’t fall apart. Cut the roll in half and pinch the ends closed.  Stand each roll up and push down on the dough to create two pancakes. By doing this you are creating the layers. Flatten out the pancakes using a rolling pin or your hand to make it to desired thickness (flatter is better).

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add about 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Place the pancake into the pan cook for 4-5 minutes or until the bottom is a crisp brown. Gently flip the pancake and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes. Do the same for the other pancake.

Cut each pancake into 4 pieces and serve immediately. Use chili sauce and or wheat-free soy sauce for dipping sauce.

By the way, the picture above is of the first pancake which was on the thicker side. For the second one, I decided to flatten out more and it was super yummy this way. Also, I thought this picture was great since in the background you see Mantou peeking to see what was on the table.

Rye Bread, Hold the Rye

25 Sep

I am every so grateful that there are people out there creating recipes or playing around with recipes and sharing them with me (and the rest of the world). The oasis of free information on the internet and the searchable, quick access to recipes, blogs, discussions, and pictures of food taunt me to try recipes myself. I don’t even think would have started my allergy-free diet with as much emphasis because I wouldn’t have known where to start. This time I made a Ryeless bread. We were actually looking for a rye bread recipe (Mantou has an allergy to wheat – he does not need to avoid other gluten grains) but fell upon this one because we just love Karina’s blog. She has hundreds of recipes and she shares tips for substituting ingredients. We followed the Gluten-Free Goddess’s recipe for “Gluten-Free Ryeless Rye Bread” to the T and it turned out pretty good. It was a similar texture and consistency of the other bread recipe that we made.


Chickpea flour, onion, and fennel seeds

21 Sep

Just recently one of the blogs I follow, Jeanettes Healthy Living, had a recipe for a “chickpea pizza“. It’s actually not a pizza, but having not had pizza in a LONG time, and seeing the picture she posted, I wanted to make this recipe right away.

Fortunately I was able to find chickpea flour at an Indian grocer when I went to visit my parents. We were actually catching the tail end of the local farmer’s market and had parked our car in front of the store. It was a sign that I needed to make this recipe!

I didn’t realize that the recipe asks that the chickpea, water, and salt mixture be set aside for a minimum of 4 hours. So I had to prepare this recipe for another day. Another side note is that I would also further reduce the amount of salt in the mixture. Jeannette already reduces the amount from her version of the recipe.


  • 8 oz of chick pea flour (I got to use my food scale!)
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups of water, short 3 tbsp of water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. In a medium sized bowl  slowly add water to the bowl to the chick pea flour, stir until smooth then add salt. Continue adding water and stirring the mixture.
  2. Keep covered in room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. In an 11 inch diameter cast iron pan, pour enough olive oil to cover the surface. Stir the batter and pour it into the pan. Again stir it well, so that the oil and batter are well incorporated.
  5. Evenly scatter sliced onions and sprinkle fennel seeds on top. (I would try adding olives or tomatoes next time)
  6. Bake  for 50 minutes until the top is golden and crusty.
  7. Serve it hot, sprinkled with freshy milled pepper, and cut into squares.

Serves 6.

I didn’t think it was done at the end of 50 minutes since it was a little wet on top so I added another 10 minutes. My husband thought it was fine at 50 minutes so you can experiment with the time. I thought it almost tasted like egg and quiche-like. I hope I made it correctly – though my husband has already said this recipe is a keeper.

One Spicy Town

7 Sep

Again, my husband and I tried making a recipe from the Gluten Free Goddess. We’ll probably be experimenting more with her recipes because she has wheat-free recipes and provides egg-free and dairy-free substitutions as well. She even posts pictures of her recipes so it looks inspiring and delicious. How I can get my stuff to look like hers though is another story.

This time we made an oven bread recipe called Pueblo Bread with Green Chiles. The title of my blog is “One Spicy Town” because pueblo means town (according to Wikipedia pueblo evolved from the Latin word, populus, meaning “town”).

We made it and  it was spicy. I might have added a few too many Serrano chiles, I was following directions which called for 1/2 cup. The texture of the bread was a bit grainy probably because we used polenta style cornmeal instead. We ground our own buckwheat too, not sure if that made a difference to texture. We didn’t include minced onions either so that may have affected the taste. We allowed the dough to rise in the heated oven but I don’t think it was long enough because the dough didn’t double in size, and so probably made the bread dense.

Overall it was edible, but if I had to judge it based on my Yum’s scale on the Munchies page, I would say it was a 1.

Loafing Around

25 Aug

1st attempt making gluten-free bread

We’ve been wanting to make our own bread for a while but didn’t find it necessary to invest in a brand new bread machine. We went to a the second-hand store once and almost bought one but we didn’t get it. Fortunately, a friend who is moving out of the country gave us his (which was also handed down to him from his friend who moved out of the country). It’s a Breadman and I think it’s model TR555LC.

We used the recipe from the Gluten-free Goddess, Karina Allrich, who has an amazing blog with gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free recipes. We actually tried making this particular bread recipe 3 times. My husband made the bread the first time and it came out pretty well, except that it was too salty. Was it because we used kosher salt instead of sea salt? For the second time, I actually helped and well, we forgot to put water in the mix, haha so yeah that was a big FAIL! So the 3rd time my husband made it again. This time he reduced the salt measurement to 1/2 teaspoon. All I had to do was take the bread out of the machine. Hehe, well I didn’t do very well and I kind of smooshed the bread. However, it tasted very good!

The calculated cost of making a loaf of home-made bread comes to $3.69. Food for Life’s brown rice bread and millet bread is about $3.99 at Whole Foods and they are only available in the frozen section. So it’s a pretty good investment as so long as we get it right!