Lemon Almond Cake

Lemon cake is always good in the summertime. I was intrigued by the use of olive oil in this recipe. I’ve never used olive oil in baking, so it was a fun experiment. It turned out amazing, although not as pretty as the photos from site where I got the recipe.

I don’t have a springform pan, so I used a regular 9” x 9” square cake pan. When I turned it out of the pan the cake broke in half. I think I didn’t let it cool long enough. I pushed it back together and it looked ok after glazing and putting on the almonds.

Finished cake on yellow platter with glaze and almonds.

Finished cake on platter with glaze and almonds.

I forgot to take photos until the very end, so there’s not one of the batter. It was very runny and I was concerned that it wouldn’t cook all the way. But it came out great – very moist – although it didn’t rise very much, if any.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2/3 cups sorghum flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Grated zest of 1 medium lemon (approx. 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

For the glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk (I used almond milk)
  • A few drops of fresh lemon juice

For assembly:

1/2 cup sliced, blanched almonds, toasted and cooled

Instructions

For the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and have the rack in the center. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan or cake pan. I used some white rice flour here, but you could use any light, gluten-free flour.

2. Whisk together the sorghum flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt until combined; set aside.

3. In separate bowl, whisk the eggs to break up the yolks.

4. Add the sugar and whisk for about 30 seconds.

5. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is thoroughly mixed, about 45 seconds.

6. Add in the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice and mix thoroughly.

7. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir until combined. Continue stirring until you have a smooth, batter, about 30 more seconds. Batter will seem runny compared to many other gluten-free cakes.

8. Pour the batter into the cake pan and shake the pan a little to get out any bubbles.

9. Bake on center rack for 30-45 minutes or until the cake has come away from the sides of the pan. The cake should bounce back if you touch it lightly.

10. Remove from the oven and place on rack to cool – about 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and place on a cake plate

For the glaze:

1. Melt the butter over medium heat and let it brown slightly. Put it aside to cool.

2. Sift the confectioner’s sugar into a bowl and stir in the milk until smooth and creamy.

3. Stir in the butter until mixed.

4. Add a few drops of lemon juice. Should be about 2 or 3 drops.

To assemble:

1. Spread the glaze onto the cake.

2. Spread the toasted almonds on top of the cake.

3. Ready to serve when glaze is set.

Piece of lemon almond cake on dessert plate.

Ready to eat!

 

Cake on yellow platter with slice cut out so you can see the inside of the cake.

The cake was very moist inside.

Adapted from Elle Kirschenbaum’s Torta di Mandorle e Limone.

Milo graphic

Milo says….

Maizy spilled some ALMONDS on the floor and I helped her clean them up. Mmmmm! I LOVE helping in the kitchen!

 

Dining Out Gluten-Free

It took me a little while after I was diagnosed with celiac disease to figure out what questions to ask at restaurants. I felt really self-conscious asking at first, but it got easier each time.

How do you explain to a restaurant that you’re gluten-free? Telling your server is an important first step, but it can also help to have a resource to make sure that the restaurant understands how to proceed once you make that gluten-free request.

The NFCA has a free tip sheet to help you dine out safely. The tip sheet walks you through a number of important questions that can help you determine if a restaurant is properly prepared to meet your gluten-free needs. This guide cannot guarantee a safe meal, but it can help you feel more confident and comfortable when speaking with the staff about their gluten-free options.

On the right hand side of the sheet, there is a slip you can sign, tear off and leave with the restaurant to recommend that they get gluten-free training.

Here are some of the tips from the sheet:

Tip 1: Call ahead

Questions to ask:

  • Do you have a gluten-free menu?
  • Can you tell me what gluten is?
  • What are your gluten-free menu options?
  • Have you completed a gluten-free training program, such as GREAT Kitchens?

Tip 2: Be detailed

Ask these questions once you are seated at the restaurant:

  • Do you use any spice blends or mixes?
  • Do you use four or soy sauce in the dressing/sauce/batter/base?
  • How do you top/garnish the dish (i.e. croutons, fried onions, crackers)?
  • Do you use a separate prep space for gluten-free food?
  • Do you use separate cookware and utensils for gluten-free food?
  • Do you clean the grill?
  • Do you use a dedicated fryer?

Tip 3: Be proactive

Look closely at your plate. Be sure to ask if yours is the gluten-free plate. If you are unsure that your meal is gluten-free at any point during your experience:

  • Ask to speak to the manager or chef.
  • Explain that you have celiac disease and will get sick from traces of gluten.
  • Relay the facts of your experience, including relevant details.
  • Ask the restaurant to become a GREAT Kitchen (use cutout on guide.)

It is possible to dine out safely if you have celiac disease. But it’s important for you to be proactive about learning everything you can about your gluten-free diet and making sure those preparing your food understand, as well.

Eat well and be healthy!

Source: National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
www.celiaccentral.org

 

Milo graphic

Milo says….

Maizy has those red things in the garden again that I LOVE! She calls them tomatoes. I call them YUMMY! When she picks them I always give her my CUTEST cute doggy look and then I get to EAT one!

 

 

Blueberry Scones

I found this recipe for blueberry scones and they looked so good I thought I’d give them a try. I used sorghum flour in place of the millet flour.

I’ve never really used parchment paper for baking, but for this recipe I would recommend it. It was a bit of a challenge to get the dough out of the pie pan. I ended up lifting each slice out and reshaping them with my fingers. That’s why they are not very consistent in size, but they sure were yummy!

Makes 8 scones

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (160g) millet flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Sorghum Flour)
  • 1/2 cup (80g) brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup (45g) white rice flour
  • 1/4 cup (30g) arrowroot
  • 1½ tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp salt (only if using unsalted margarine)
  • Grated zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup (100g) butter or dairy-free margarine (I used butter)
  • 1/3 cup (85ml) honey
  • 5 tbsp (75ml) milk or non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup (the equivalent of a 250ml measure) blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions

Thoroughly sift together all dry ingredients, from millet (sorghum) flour to lemon zest.

Add butter or margarine and mix with your fingers until it becomes like a crumble.

Dry ingredients mixed with the butter in a large white bowl.

Dry ingredients mixed with the butter.

In another bowl, whisk together the honey, the soy milk (or cream) and the egg.

Close up of jar of Tule Creek Honey from Tulia, Texas.

This is the honey I like to use because it is produced locally.

Wet ingredients mixed together in metal bowl with wire whisk.

Wet ingredients mixed up with whisk.

Add to dry ingredients and mix with a fork.

Close up of blueberry scone batter in white bowl with fork.

Wet and dry ingredients mixed together with a fork.

Add blueberries and mix just enough to distribute (especially if using frozen blueberries, don’t mix too much).

Package of Texas Pride fresh blueberries.

Texas blueberries are in season right now – yum!

Cover a 7 inch pie pan with parchment paper. Press the scones mix into the pan and put in the freezer for 1 hour. This will make it easier for you to cut the dough into pieces before cooking.

Blueberry scone batter in pie pan on shelf in the freezer.

Placing the dough in the freezer for a while makes it easier to cut into slices.

When you’re ready to bake your scones, preheat oven at 375F (190C).

Take out the pan from the freezer. Lifting the paper, transfer the dough (with the paper) onto a large baking sheet.

Using a sharp knife (you may need to pass it under cold water), section the dough into eight pieces (like a pizza) and separate one inch apart, using a pie spatula or any similar tool, so they don’t stick together when cooking. I sliced some of the slices in half so it would make more, so I ended up with more than 8 scones.

Sliced scone batter on baking sheet.

Sliced scones on baking sheet ready to cook.

Bake for 20-25 minutes (start keeping an eye on them after 20 minutes).

Baked blueberry scones on baking sheet.

The scones baked about 23 minutes and smelled really good!

 

Close up of baked blueberry scones on baking sheet.

The blueberries oozed out a little, but the scones browned nicely.

 

Milo graphic

Milo says….

Bark! Bark Bark BARK! Don’t I have a lovely singing voice?

 

Gut Bacteria and Celiac Disease

I’ve been doing a little research lately on how intestinal flora affects digestive health. This can be especially important for people with celiac disease, who already have damage to the digestive system. Studies suggest increasing the beneficial gut bacteria through the use of gluten-free probiotics and prebiotics can help reduce the inflammation caused by celiac disease.

Intestinal flora, the beneficial bacteria on the lining of your intestine and colon, play a major role in the digestion of food. Probiotics perform a significant role in re-establishing the intestinal flora and maintaining good overall health. Prebiotics are found in certain foods, are not easily digested and enhance the growth of the good bacteria in your colon. The gluten-free diet typically lacks an abundance of prebiotics. A patient with celiac disease has a deficiency of good bacteria, so probiotics and prebiotics should be an important part of treatment.

Intestinal flora fights against the inflammation developed in celiac disease, according to the “American Journal of Gastroenterology.” Therefore, restoring that flora should be a prime concern during treatment and rehabilitation.

“The…digestive system is one of the most important immune system organs in the body,” explains Dr. Ilsueung Cho assistant professor of medicine and associate program director of the division of gastroenterology at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “If the natural balance of bacteria in the gut is disrupted, it might trigger an inflammatory cascade of immune system reactions in the body, which can result in symptoms like the painful swelling of the joints in rheumatoid arthritis.”

From CBS News – “Bacteria in the gut may hold key to many diseases”

 

“Dietary changes that include probiotics and/or prebiotics may help alleviate the severity of celiac disease for some patients. According to a research study appearing in the May 2010 print issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, differing intestinal bacteria in celiac patients could influence inflammation to varying degrees. This suggests that manipulating the intestinal microbiota with dietary strategies such as probiotics and prebiotics, could improve the quality of life for celiac patients, as well as patients with associated diseases such as type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders.”

Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

 

There are a lot of benefits of using probiotics if you have celiac disease. Probiotics not only provide nourishment to the intestinal flora, they also furnish vitamin K and biotin, which are essential for good health. Probiotics reduce the absorption of heavy metals and give protection against toxins produced by harmful bacteria in your gut. Probiotics can help prevent bad bacteria from sticking to the walls of your intestines. They improve the absorption of essential nutrients, which is severely impaired due to celiac disease.

Together, probiotics and prebiotics restore the normal movement of the gut that gets distorted in celiac patients. If you take antibiotics, make sure to replace the probiotics with a supplement or in your diet. Be kind to your good bugs!

 

Milo graphic

Milo says….

I ate a bug today. I CHASED it around the yard, then I CAUGHT it, then I ATE it! … then I got sick in the house and Maizy made me go back outside … It must have been a BAD BUG!

 

 

Peanut Butter Cookies

As I have mentioned here before, one of my favorite gluten-free cookbooks is Carol Fenster’s “Gluten-Free Quick & Easy”. In this book, she has several flour mixes that can be made up ahead of time and stored for later baking. This recipe uses her basic cookie mix.

The cookie mix starts with Carol’s basic gluten-free flour blend. This makes 4 cups.

  • 1½ cups sorghum flour
  • 1½ cups potato starch or cornstarch
  • 1 cup tapioca flour

To this 4 cups of flour mix add:

  • 1½ cups cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

Now you have about 5½ cups of Carol’s cookie mix. You can make many kinds of cookies with it. Here is the recipe for the BEST gluten-free, melt-in-your-mouth peanut butter cookies I’ve ever eaten.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter or buttery spread, at room temperature (but not melted)
  • ½ cup crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Carol’s Cookie Mix
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar, for rolling cookies
Close-up of MaraNatha Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter jar

This is the kind of peanut butter I like because it has no added sugar.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (I used a non-stick baking sheet sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.)

Place the butter, peanut butter, egg and vanilla in a food processor and process until thoroughly blended. (I used a hand mixer.)

Peanut butter and wet ingredients mixed up in bowl next to flours mixed together in another bowl.

I mixed the wet ingredients and dry ingredients separately and then put them together.

Add the cookie mix and baking soda, and process until the mixture forms a ball. Break the ball into several chunks and process until the dough forms a ball again. (I used a spoon to mix it and then my hands to form the ball.)

Four large balls of peanut butter cookie dough in a large white bowl.

I made a double batch of dough.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces and shape in 1½ -inch balls. Dip each ball in sugar and place it, sugar side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, make crisscross marks on the ball and flatten each to a ½-inch thickness.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Remove cookies from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Twelve cookies on baking sheet fresh out of the oven.

I made the cookies about twice as large as the recipe suggests. They spread out just a little bit.

I made a double batch of dough and made my cookies double-sized (about 2-inch balls of dough,) so I ended up with about 22 large cookies. If you like more nuts you can add ¼ cup of chopped peanuts.

Finished peanut butter cookies piled up on a large dinner plate.

I ended up with 22 large cookies.

Recipe from “Gluten-Free Quick & Easy” by Carol Fenster.

 

Milo graphic

Milo says….

I heard the doorbell, so I ran and BARKED but when I looked out the window, no one was there. Maizy said it was someone called TV. I think they must be INVISIBLE!

 

 

 

5 Things People With Celiac Disease Need You to Understand

One of the things I struggle with since being diagnosed with celiac disease is explaining my diet needs to others. Even after twelve years I hear myself apologizing for being a pain and having to request gluten-free food options. I find myself getting angry and impatient with people because I have to explain again that I can’t just eat the filling out of the pie and I can’t eat the cheese dip after someone has dipped their wheat cracker into it.

I found this article today at celiac.com and hope they don’t mind me sharing these five things that people with celiac disease need their friends and relatives to understand about this illness.

1. We are NOT on a Fad Diet — Celiac disease is not some vague, make-believe condition. Celiac disease is a potentially serious immune disorder that, if left untreated, can lead to a very deadly types of stomach, intestinal, and other cancers. Just because a bunch of people seem to think that gluten is the new high fructose corn syrup, doesn’t mean that I’m one of them. Remember, for people with celiac disease, eating a gluten-free diet is no joke and is the only way for them to stay healthy.

2. We Won’t Be Getting Over It — Currently, there is no cure for celiac disease, and the only treatment is a gluten-free diet. That’s the only way to avoid the gut damage, lower risks for other types of auto-immune conditions, and minimize the risk of various types of cancer associated with celiac disease.

3. Celiac Disease is a Serious Condition — Since the effects of untreated celiac disease unfold slowly over time, it’s tempting for some people to look at celiac disease as a minor inconvenience. However, it’s important to understand that celiac disease is a potentially serious autoimmune disorder that, if left untreated, can leave people susceptible to other autoimmune conditions, and to deadly types of stomach, intestinal, and other cancers.

4. A ‘Little Gluten’ Might Hurt Me — There’s no such thing as ‘a little gluten’ to people with celiac disease. Gut damage happens with as little as 20 parts of gluten per million. That is a microscopic amount. A ‘gluten-free’ diet means no gluten. Period.

5. When in Doubt, Ask — If you’re not sure if I can safely eat a certain ingredient, or a certain food, just ask. Figuring out what is or is not gluten-free can be tricky, even for me. So, it’s best to ask if you’re not positive.

Are there other items you would add to this list? Or just feel free to vent in the comments if you like – I get it.

 

Milo graphic

Milo says….

I wanted Maizy to play FRISBIE with me, but she was busy looking at that computer! Then I got in her lap so she could see me better. She said a 40-lb dog is NOT a lap dog. How can I make her UNDERSTAND that I NEED to play Frisbie?

Zucchini Fritters with Sorghum Flour

I like to grow zucchini in my garden every summer and it grows well here in west Texas. But I always have the problem using up all of that zucchini. When I found this recipe I was really excited about having something new to make with zucchini!

One medium zucchini on the counter next to a 1/4-cup measuring cup.

I used three zucchini about this size but I forgot to measure how many cups it made.

Of course, I altered the recipe by adding onions, garlic powder, and a little more flour. It was a little too runny (probably because I forgot to add the cheese!), so I had to use a slotted spoon to scoop it into the ¼-cup measuring cup. I added the extra rice flour because it tends to make fried foods a little crispier. Even without the cheese, these fritters were amazing. My friend Gregg said I could make these every weekend if I wanted to. We were thinking about trying them using eggplant instead of zucchini.

The cayenne pepper gives these fritters a bit of a kick. I actually reduced the black pepper amount to ¼ teaspoon. You could even leave out the pepper if you like and they would be just as good. These make a great side dish with some burgers or chicken cooked on the grill!

Ingredients

  • 2-3 medium zucchini, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup sorghum flour
  • ¼ cup white rice flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ shredded parmesan cheese
  • small amount of oil for frying (I used olive oil)

Directions

Shred the zucchini using a box grater, food processor or juicer. I used a food processor for the zucchini and chopped the onions by hand. If you use the grater or food processor, you will need to squeeze out all the moisture from the zucchini before you add the rest of the ingredients. I just patted it with a paper towel to get out the moisture, but it was still pretty juicy after I added the eggs and tomatoes. If you use a juicer, you can skip the moisture-draining step.

Chopped up zucchini and onions mixed together.

I chopped the zucchini in a food processor.

Sprinkle with the salt and toss well. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Add flour, egg and pepper. Stir to combine.

Flours and spices mixed up in a bowl.

Flours and spices.

An opened bag of Bob's Red Mill Sweet White Sorghum Flour

This is the sorghum flour I used.

Once mixed, gently fold in tomato and cheese.

All ingredients mixed up in a white bowl.

All ingredients mixed together – the tomatoes made it a little soupier than I thought it would be.

Heat a large skillet (or griddle if you’re looking for a less greasy option) with a small amount of oil on medium-low heat.

Pack a 1/4 cup measuring cup with the fritter mixture, pressing it down inside the cup. Turn the cup out onto the pan and flatten the zucchini until you get a patty.

Four zucchini fritters cooking in frying pan.

First batch of fritters cooking.

Close-up of zucchini fritter frying in the frying pan

Frying Fritter!

Cook on each side for 3-5 minutes or until nicely browned.

Four zucchini fritters cooking in frying pan flipped over with crispy side up.

Here’s what they looked like when I flipped them over.

This recipe made 14 fritters.

Zucchini fritters piled up on a plate.

This recipe made 14 fritters about the size of small pancakes.

 

Milo graphic

Milo says….

The BEST thing happened today! Maizy dropped an egg on the floor and I ATE IT! She said I was her little helper. Being a helper TASTES GOOD!