Category Archives: Ask Essie

Your kitchen questions

Ask Essie: Flour Power

Janet asks what gluten free flours we use in the GFCanteen kitchen.

PhotobucketBack in the dark ages when we first began preparing gluten free food, there was but one choice for flour.  It was a gluten free flour blend that was meant to mimic AP flour.  It was pretty horrible.  Not only was it super gritty, but I am pretty sure it was a blend of bean flours that smelled awful.  Not what you want in your favorite chocolate cookie recipe.

But thankfully, things have evolved and we have some fine sources for gluten free flours. Some are available in the grocery store these days, and at least where I live, Whole Foods has an entire section of GF flours offering a variety of brands. Continue reading

Ask Essie:Making GF Recipes Not GF and AP Flour in GF Cake-Bad?

Judy asks how to convert a recipe from gluten free to not gluten free?

Well, Judy – we in the gluten free baking/cooking world don’t often hear that question.  Usually people want to know how to convert a favorite recipe to gluten free.

Convert the amount of GF flour listed in the recipe to the same using AP flour. However, flours vary in weight – sometimes tremendously.  One cup of AP flour will not weigh the same as one cup of any type of gluten free flour.

Your best bet is to look for recipes that list dry ingredients in  grams or ounces as a measure.   A small digital scale is a great investment for the kitchen. Continue reading

Ask Essie: GF Corn Tortillas? GF Diet for non Celiac Folks?

Lisa asks: are there GF alternatives to corn tortillas?

There are, but the taste is a little bit funky.  La Tortilla Factory makes a flour substitute tortilla that is supposed to be similar to giant wheat tortillas.  We’ve eaten them and find them to be exactly that: not flour.  They don’t make great quesadillas or burritos because the flavor is a little harsh.  They’re made with millet and teff, which are fine GF flours, but have a strong flavor and overpower the neutrality of what should be a background flavor of a tortilla. Continue reading

Ask Essie: Accommodating a Celiac When Feeding a Group?

Elaine wants to know a way to accommodate preparing food for a group where one member needs a gluten free meal, particularly a kid’s group.

Well, Elaine, that is an excellent question and as more people are diagnosed at earlier ages with gluten intolerance or celiac disease it is a good discussion to bring up.  I have a few ideas.

Kids especially don’t want to stand out in a crowd so the kindest way to accommodate the dietary restriction is to feed them all the same way.  Fortunately eating gluten free has never been easier than now with a few twists of the ingredients. Continue reading

Xanthan Gum?

Melissa asks what the heck does xanthan gum do and why is it so expensive?

Well, Melissa, x-gum is the glue that holds all kinds of stuff together, including baked goods lacking gluten. This little bottle to the right is what sits on my shelf (for now).

X-gum is a nasty little marriage of controlled man-made bacteria that is fermented with sugar and derived from corn.  According to WebMD, x-gum is used therapeutically to help constipation, diabetes, dry mouth and cholesterol.

And yet it thickens stuff.  It is what chemistry geeks would call a foaming agent in baking and a structural cornerstone once baked.  It mimics gluten in GF baking and stabilizes the baked good.  Keeps the gluten free cookie from crumbling, actually. Continue reading