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Yuma Foodie: Free of gluten -- and guilt
When was the last time you took a cooking lesson?
As a chef I never turn down the chance to learn something new in the culinary world, and it seems that every time I take some class I do learn something new. I try to find a cooking lesson wherever I travel or if one is being offered for a different type of cooking or special diet in Yuma I like to make sure I am one of the students.
The people in Yuma have many fun chances to learn different cooking styles from different chefs. Tina's Cocina is hosting the Farmers Wife cooking classes (10 in all) that feature recipes taught by a wife of a Yuma farmer, chefs Tina Clark and Alex Trujillo. Their schedule can be found at www.StPaulsCulturalCenter.com.
Jean Myers has her fantastic cancer preventative classes. I highly recommend this class to everyone with or without health needs. It changed my way of eating and my offerings for my clients. For information or to sign up for Jean's class, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yuma Main Library will be offering a series of classes on basics cooking techniques in February and March conducted by local chefs. These classes are scheduled to begin Feb. 9, and the following Saturdays from 1 to 2 p.m.
A three-part series of healthy cooking is also being offered by Yuma Parks and Recreation at the Yuma Civic Center on Wednesday nights. I have been asked to conduct these sessions. Class topics being offered in January are gluten free, sugar free, and vegan cooking. Parks and Recreation will also be doing a series of classes in ethnic cooking the last Wednesday of February and the first two weeks of March.
Last week, I did research on gluten free cooking and offered a lesson on how to make foods that my clients crave: Farmhouse seed bread, brownies, date/banana muffins, noodles made of vegetables and macaroni and cheese.
This coming Wednesday we will be learning about alternative ways to sweeten our foods. I promise to have four yummy recipes to share and food to sample as we learn ways to stem the harmful sugar that we add too much of to our meals. Through my research and help from my chef friends from around the country, tomorrow night's classes will include raw chocolate pie, homemade ketchup, a fairly healthy version of Rice Crispy treats and home-baked granola.
I'm not going to give you my sugar-free recipes. You'll have to come to my class to taste them, but I will happily share two of my recipes from last week's gluten-free class.
When making the brownies be sure to line your pan with tin foil. Gluten-free cooking tends to crumble easily when hot so keep the brownies in the foil and then wrap and stick in the refrigerator for a few hours.
5 ounces high quality 60-70 percent cocoa dark chocolate
1/2 cup organic coconut oil
1 cup light brown sugar (not packed)
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 organic free-range eggs — beaten
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla*
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts — if desired
Dark chocolate chips for the top — if desired
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with foil and lightly oil the bottom.
Melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat, gently stirring. (Or melt in a microwave safe measuring cup and stir together to combine.)
In a mixing bowl whisk together the brown sugar, almond meal, brown rice flour, fine sea salt and baking soda. Make a well in the center and add the beaten eggs, vanilla extract and melted dark chocolate mixture. Beat on low-medium for two minutes, until the batter begins to come together. At first it will seem thin, like cake batter, but keep beating until it thickens and becomes smooth and glossy.
If you are adding nuts, stir in the nuts by hand and spread the batter into the prepared baking pan. Even out the batter with a silicone spatula.
Decorate the top with some dark chocolate chips and press in slightly.
Bake in the center of a preheated 350ºF oven for 32 to 35 minutes, or until the brownies are set. The top will crack, like a flourless chocolate cake.
Cool on a wire rack; and remove the cooled brownies from the pan by gripping the foil edges and lifting the brownies out as a whole.
This bread is GOOD. I have been making it weekly and using it for my bread. If you can not find the gluten free flours that are listed in the recipe just substitute with ones that you have. I have found that the chia seeds (be sure to grind them) and psyllium hulk are very important for the moistness of the bread.
Gluten-Free Seed Bread
You can also vary this bread by adding green olives, roasted garlic, herbs. Add these items while you are kneading the dough, which can be kneaded in a mixer or bread-baking machine. Cooking the bread on a hot cooking stone with a pan of hot water in the oven will give you a crusty delicious loaf of bread.
2 ½ cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
1 teaspoon maple syrup or organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup ground chia seeds
1/3 cup whole psyllium husks
1 cup mesquite flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
Place the warm water in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast and teaspoon of maple syrup, whisk together. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to activate the yeast. While the yeast is activating, mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
After the yeast is activated mix in the olive oil, maple syrup, ground chia seeds, and psyllium husks into the water-yeast mixture. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes (not any longer) to let the chia and psyllium release their gelatinous substances.
Add the remaining dry ingredients to the bowl and mix for 5 minutes or once mixed together you can knead on a floured board. The dough should be slightly sticky. Form into ball and place into an oiled bowl cover with damp cloth and place in warm spot to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
After the dough has risen, place a pizza stone in your oven. Preheat the oven to 400F. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven (the one beneath the pizza stone).
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured wooden board. Knead the dough for about a minute. Then form into a round ball. Place on a square of parchment paper and use a sharp knife to cut a shallow “tic-tac-toe” pattern on the top. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Let rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place while the oven and stone are preheating.
Carefully lift the parchment paper with the risen loaf and place it onto the stone in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 60 minutes before cutting into it. This bread is great toasted as a sandwich. Enjoy!
Karla Billdt owns Karla's Kreations: A Personal Chef and Catering Service in Yuma. She can be reached at www.ChefKarla.net or email@example.com.