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Daifuku, or red bean cakes, are a fun little naturally gluten-free snackeroo you can often find in Asian food markets. They remind me of dumplings, but instead of a wheaty pocket with salty insides, they’re made from mochi (a delightfully chewy rice pastry) and filled with sweet red beans. Located in the refrigerated section, they come in several flavors (colors?), although I confess I don’t taste much difference between them except for the one coated in sesame seeds. The rice is a tad sweet – just enough to satisfy the kid in you but not enough to make you apologize to your thighs. Try them, try them, you will see…

Naturally Gluten-Free: Red Bean Cake

Naturally Gluten-Free: Red Bean Cake

I almost peed my pants when I saw it on the grocery store shelf. Gluten-free hoisin sauce?! Could it be? The brand is Premier Japan and it has the added bonus of being biologique, or organic. But it also has the disappointing issue of tasting like a**. It’s orangey and barbequey and not remotely hoisiney. Dang, dang, dang. My hopes were so high.

I don’t know if you guys do this but I have a running list in my head of must-cook gluten-free foods. A snippet of late:

  • gf danishes
  • gf hoisin
  • gf sourdough
  • gf dumplings

Some of the more elaborate or involved items have been sitting quietly on this list for several years. Occasionally, one gets taken off in a triumphant squeal as I either successfully collect all the necessary ingredients, or I find or adapt a respectable recipe, or whatever. Premier Japan piqued my desire for gluten-free hoisin and I WILL create or find a recipe to fill the void. I must have mu shu vegetable again. Must must must.

Stay tuned… I think I’m close.

Update 3/3/10: checkit! I diddit!

I wanted to call these Pemon Loppyseed Muffs because they’re all backwards: light poppyseeds in a dark cake. But my google analytics tell me that not so many people search for pemon loppyseed muffins, so I’m copping out and going mainstream. How boring.

Anywhoo, you’ve heard me talk about Indiaville in Chicago and the buckets of delectable spices you can buy for pennies or peanuts a pound. Last time I was up there, I came across white poppy seeds. Did you know they existed? I sure didn’t. So this is a recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins using white poppy seeds and dark flour. Change it up a bit – why not?! Obviously, you can substitute regular poppy seeds if you can’t find the white ones.

Gluten-Free Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Gluten-Free Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Crazy, Confused Pemon Loppyseed Muffins

  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1/2 c. veggie oil
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c. white poppy seeds
  • 1 c. milk of some sort
  • 2 3/4 c. gluten-free flour*
  • 1/2 c. almond flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 3/4 t. xanthan gum
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 1 T brandy
  • 3 t. lemon zest
  • 1 t. lemon juice

TO make the muffs: Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the gf flour, almond flour, baking powder, xanthan, and salt in a small bowl. Stir and set aside. Combine milk and poppy seeds and heat in a small pot on the stove. Let it get steamy and then turn it off and let it sit. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add the oil and beat until smooth. Add the brown sugar and beat another 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and milky poppy seeds in small increments until completely combined. Mix in the lemon zest, brandy, and lemon juice.

Plip, plop. Fill to the top: Line a muffin tin with cupcake holders and fill each holder to the top. Bake in the middle rack for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Makes 12-18 muffins, depending on how zealous you are at filling the holder.

*I use equal parts teff, sorghum, sweet rice, and tapioca.

This New York Times article points out that you can deduct the difference in price for gluten-free items from your taxes! It sounds like a behind-load of number crunching but that could be a lot of savings. Of course, I barely buy ready-made gluten-free stuff, but the flours, etc, are much more expensive. I think this is the beginning of an experiment! I’ll keep a log of gluten-free items I buy and their prices, then compare those with the conventional equivalents’ prices and see where we end up. I’ll keep you posted.

Incidentally, you’ll notice that most of my recipes don’t require special gluten-free ingredients (except for the baking items, which require the wacky flours, of course.) Why wasn’t my blog featured in the NYTimes article!? Hmmmph. So rude.

Salty snackers, rejoice! Rice and Corn Chex got rid of their nasties (barley malt) and are now officially gluten free! To celebrate, I whipped up a batch of chex mix which I will share with you now. Except that it’s already 3/4 eaten and you’re out there in cyberspace, not in my living room. So I’ll share how I modified the original recipe with you instead.

Gluten-Free Chex Mix

Gluten-Free Chex Mix

Gluten-Free Chex Mix

  • 4 1/2 c. gluten-free rice chex
  • 4 1/2 c. gluten-free corn chex
  • 2 c. peanuts
  • 2 c. Glutino gf pretzel sticks
  • 6 T butter
  • 2 T worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. salt

Directions: Mix the dry ingredients in the bathtub (or in two batches in a large bowl – my preferred method. HA!) Heat the butter, worchestershire, garlic powder and salt over the stove on low heat until the butter melts. Slowly pour over the dry stuff while tossing/stirring the chexies to coat. Divide between two rectangular pyrex dishes and place in a 250 °F oven for an hour. Stir every 15 minutes to make sure no burnage occurs. Woohoo, chex!

I haven’t eaten at a Chinese restaurant in three years. So what? So, there’s a huge hole in my life that I absolutely must fill. Today, I take the first step. (Gawd, this sounds like therapy. Unappetizing.) Ok, start over.

I’ve been thinking forevah-evah about taking some Chinese cooking classes from an old Chinese dude (please, if you know this dude, call me) so I can make veggie stirfry that doesn’t taste like veggie stirfry (you so know what I’m talking about, vegheads). I have it in my head that with a simple substitution (wheat-free tamari for soy sauce) I can make every Chinese dish I miss with the added bonus of avoiding the MSG (which, I read somewhere can be a wheat derivative and therefore not gf – hm!)

Well, I haven’t found said Chinese dude yet, but I did manage a tofu with black bean sauce dish tonight that was migh-ty-tasty. Reminded me of, well, tofu with black bean sauce! Oh, Chinese food, how I’ve missed you!

Tofu with Black Bean Sauce in all its Gluten-Free Glory

Tofu with Black Bean Sauce in all its Gluten-Free Glory

Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

For the fry:

  • 1 tub firm tofu
  • 4 scallions, sliced all perty, on the diagonal
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 t. grated fresh ginger (use the freezer trick*)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 4 T fermented black beans**
  • 12 whole dried chili peppers
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, chopped

For the sauzah:

  • 1 cup veggie broth, heated
  • 2 t. sesame oil
  • 2 T rice cooking wine
  • 2 t. cornstarch

A note before you start: If you have a wok, hallelujah. Use that. If you’re lame like me and don’t have a kitchen big enough for a wok, do like I do and use a big old fry pan. Just make sure the sides are high enough that you won’t lose stuff over the edge.

Ok, to begin:In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce and stir with a fork to get all the lumps of cornstarch out. Set aside. Drain and cube your tofu. Put a couple tablespoons of oil in a nonstick fry pan and brown the tofu on high heat. Remove from pan and set aside. Add another tablespoon of fresh oil to the pan and saute your garlic and chili peppers for a minute on high. Add the scallions and onions, saute until the onions begin to turn clear. Chop the black beans a bit and add to the mix. Pour the sauce you set aside earlier into the pan with the onions, chilis, etc. Stir the fry. Add the tofu and simmer until thickened. Remove from pan and set aside. Fill the fry pan with 1/4″ of water. Place the chopped swiss chard in the pan and cover. Simmer for 3ish minutes until leaves are limp and soft, but still bright green (before they turn mush-tastic). Drain and put on a serving plate. Pour the tofu and black bean sauce on top. Serve with rice of your choice. Serves 2-3.

*You know the freezer trick, right? Buy a big ol’ lump of ginger at the gross-hairy store. Wash, and if you’re finicky, peel it. Stick it in a plastic bag in the freezer. When you need fresh ginger, just pull it out and grate it with a microplane grater. Ta-daa. Fresh ginger at your beck and call, any night of the week.

One of the GF brands of jarred fermented black bean

One of the GF brands of jarred fermented black bean

**Notes about the wacky ingredients: Fermented black beans are key to this dish. No black beans = no black bean sauce. They can be found in Asian grocery stores if you’re willing to dig a little. This dude has a great photo on his blog of several different brands you might see around. For this recipe, I used the bagged beans on the right. I thought they were tasty. But BEWARE, GF friends, the Lee-Kum-Lee jarred black bean garlic sauce on the far left definitely has gluten in it. You can almost categorically ignore this brand because they always use soy sauce. But I have found other jarred black beans that are gluten free. For example, Master has a jarred Black Bean and a Black Bean Garlic, both of which are gluten free as far as I can tell:

So many good lentil soup snippets… which one to share? Visual: One of the iconic pics from my childhood is me sitting with a bowl of lentil soup, spoon in the air and mouth agape as though I’m conducting my own ode to lentil soup… Auditory: My Greek grandmother couldn’t say “lentil” because Greek words just don’t end in l’s. So she said “lendin.” Lendin soup. Lendin soup. haha. Lendin… and finally, Sappy: I knew I’d found the man of my dreams when we sat down for a meal of homemade lentil soup and he got up to get the red wine vinegar. What? You do that too? I thought I was the only crackpot on the planet who won’t eat lentil soup without vinegar! Apparently not. And a long and fruitful relationship was born.

So lendin soup has a special place in my heart. It’s a comfort food, it’s gluten-free, it’s a one-dish wonder – it doesn’t get any better. Here’s the unofficial family recipe.

Lentil Soup

  • 8 cups veggie broth
  • 1 1/2 cups french lentils
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 T olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 c. chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped spinach leaves
  • red wine vinegar

Directions: Choose the one dish for this wonder carefully. In a medium soup pot, saute your onions, garlic, carrots and celery in the olive oil until glassy. Add the lentils and stir with flair. Add the veggie broth and act like you’re really working hard while you wait for it to boil. Add the bay leaves, pepper, oregano and parsley. Turn down the heat, cover loosely, and simmer until the lentils are soft – 30ish minutes. Add the spinach and act totally spent from the effort. Simmer 10 more minutes and serve. Garnish with a 1/2 tsp of vinegar per bowl. Serves 4.