25 July 2013

Chicken Cobbler - Chicken Pot Pie with Gluten-Free "Cobbles"

Calling all gluten-free cooks: I need your help! Though this chicken cobbler was fine just the way it was, it would have been fabulous had the sauce stayed as thick after baking as it had been before it went into the oven. It seems some of the gluten-free starches thin out at some point in the baking. I used tapioca flour, which works perfectly in my fruit pies, and the sauce became much thinner during its time in the oven. Any suggestions?

I usually put an all-butter flaky pastry crust on my chicken pies, but I had a package of gluten-free biscuit mix on hand and was eager to try it. That's when I thought of cobbles. Looks pretty cute, huh? Tasty, too. And the topping, as well as the filling, reheated well the next day. I love leftovers!

Of course, it's easy to make gluten-free biscuits (though I haven't posted my recipe yet). If you're not gluten-free, you can use one of these biscuit recipes for the topping: Homemade Biscuits or Buttermilk Biscuits Made with Buttermilk Powder.

A gluten-free diet has (at least, so far) not done for me what I had hoped it might, but I'm going to stick to it for the entire month. If I don't notice a difference by the end of the month, perhaps I'll try a dairy-free month next. But I'll continue to develop the occasional gluten-free recipe for friends. So do, please, give me your gluten-free tips in a comment below.    

Chicken Cobbler

(Serves 4)

The Filling

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced orange bell pepper or carrot
2 cups halved and sliced mushrooms (1/2-pound package)
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons dry sherry, optional
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
Optional: 1 cup fresh or frozen peas

The Topping

2 packed cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Biscuit and Baking Mix
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup milk

1 In 12-inch skillet, heat oil. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; brown on both sides, cooking for a total of 20 to 30 minutes or until done. If you prefer your pies with shredded chicken, shred it now using two forks. If you prefer diced, set the chicken aside to cool a bit for neater dice. (Or you can use 2 1/2 cups or so of leftover shredded or diced cooked chicken, in which case you would skip this step.)

2 In same skillet, melt butter and saute onion for 3 minutes, scraping up the brown bits from cooking the chicken. Add bell peppers; saute for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and pepper; saute for 5 minutes.

3 In a small bowl, stir the tapioca flour and broth to a smooth slurry and stir it into the vegetables. Stir in the cream and sherry; cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly and thickened. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Stir in the chicken and, if using, the peas. Adjust seasoning.

3 Pour into 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish (such as the CorningWare French White 1 1/2-Quart Oval Dish pictured above--I love that dish, have used it several times a week for many years). Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

4 In medium bowl, add butter to baking mix. With your fingers or a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the cold butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs with some bigger chunks remaining. Pour on the milk and gently mix until just combined.

5 Using a #60 (1/2 ounce / 1 tablespoon) scoop to form "cobbles," scoop the dough onto the chicken filling. Wetting the scoop from time to time will make the dough release more easily. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until topping is golden and filling is bubbling.


18 July 2013

Gluten-Free Scones - Made with Buttermilk Powder

Mmm ... just pulled a batch of scones out of the oven to have with a nice cup of Earl Grey for my elevenses today. Of course, I usually have elevenses around nine or ten o'clock since I start my day so early!

These scones are gluten-free because I'm going gluten-free for the month of July. I have a freezer full of different gluten-free flours and starches, and this combination is one I especially like for scones. There is only the slightest difference in texture from my regular scones, a difference so slight most people don't even notice it at all. 

I make what I call my Classic Scones when I happen to have buttermilk on hand. But more often, because I hate buying a quart of buttermilk and having most of it go to waste, I always keep a supply of buttermilk powder (Organic Valley Buttermilk Blend) in the pantry. It makes scones that are every bit as good as those made with fresh buttermilk. 

For an afternoon tea party, I serve scones with three accompaniments: raspberry or strawberry jam, lemon curd and clotted cream. For elevenses, I have them plain; the orange zest and dried fruit are embellishment enough. Do you have a favorite scone or other treat to go along with a cup of tea or coffee? 

Update 08/02/18: For a tutorial, complete with step-by-step photos, go to Classic Scones - Traditional Scones - A Tutorial.

Gluten-Free Buttermilk Scones

(Makes 16 scones)

3/4 packed cup (3.125 ounces/90 grams) sorghum flour
3/4 packed cup potato starch
1/2 packed cup (2.125 ounces/60 grams) tapioca flour
1 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons buttermilk powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda                  
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Zest of one orange
1/2 cup currants or other chopped dried fruit
1/2 cup water 
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C / Gas Mark 6). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. (I use a 14x16-inch nonstick insulated cookie sheet.)

2 In a wide 2-quart bowl whisk together the flours,* xanthan gum, sugar, buttermilk powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With your fingers or a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the cold butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in orange zest and dried fruit to coat and separate.

* While you're measuring out the three flours/starches, measure out and whisk together 2 tablespoons each sorghum flour and potato starch and 4 teaspoons tapioca flour to use for shaping the scones. Use a bit of it to sprinkle lightly in two 6-inch rounds on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

3 In small bowl, combine water, egg* and vanilla; pour into dry mixture and gently mix until just combined. Right in the bowl, divide the dough into two portions.

* If you prefer to glaze the tops of your scones, beat the egg lightly and reserve one tablespoon to mix with a teaspoon of water to brush on just the tops of the scones right before baking. I prefer to brush the tops with a little milk.  

4 Scrape the two portions of dough onto the floured parchment and, with floured (gluten-free, of course) hands, gently pat the dough into two 6-inch rounds. Cut each round into 8 wedges. Pull the wedges away from the center and separate them to about an inch apart. A small offset spatula dipped in flour works well for this.  

5 Brush just the tops of the scones with either the egg glaze or a little milk. Bake about 13 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Note: Scones may be frozen, double-wrapped, for up to one month. Thaw at room temperature, wrapped. To reheat room temperature scones, wrap loosely in foil and heat at 300°F (150°C / Gas Mark 2) for 10 minutes.


04 July 2013

Gluten-Free Peach Pie

Peach pie is a summer classic that shouldn't be messed with! It doesn't need a shot of bourbon or rum, or vanilla or almond extract, or a lot of spices, or blueberries or pecans, or a layer of sour cream or cream cheese. And it especially doesn't need an excessive amount of sugar (unlike a famous, and currently beleaguered, Southern chef's recipe that calls for a whopping 1 1/2 cups!)
"An apple is an excellent thing--until you have tried a peach." ~ George du Maurier
 I love all fruit, but peaches are my favorite. (If I were a fruit, I'd be a peach!) I usually make Peach Pie with Lattice Crust, sometimes Peach Cobbler or Peach Galette. This time I decided to go with pastry rounds instead of lattice for the top crust. And since this is the month I've chosen to go gluten-free, I used my special recipe for an excellent gluten-free crust.

If you've never made a peach pie without peeling the peaches, give it a try. Just rub all the fuzz off while you're washing and drying them. Once the pie is baked, I promise you, you won't even notice -- other than the fact that the crimson blush of the peach skin makes your pie even more beautiful. 

What fruit will you miss most when summer is over?

Gluten-Free Peach Pie 

(Makes one 9-inch pie, 8 servings)

The Pastry (food processor method)

3/4 packed cup sorghum flour
3/4 packed cup potato starch
1/2 packed cup tapioca flour
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 10 minutes
1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar
Ice water to make 2/3 cup

The Filling

2 1/2 pounds (about 5 large) ripe yellow peaches
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup tapioca flour

1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (No, that "1/8" is not a typo!)
1/8 teaspoon mace or nutmeg (I want you to taste the peaches!)

1 With metal blade in place, add sorghum flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add half the frozen butter and process for 10 seconds or until mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add remaining butter and pulse for six 1-second pulses, or until the frozen butter is the size of small peas.

Note: Cuisinart DLC-10S Pro Classic 7-Cup food processor is a convenient size.

2 In 2/3-cup measure, combine lemon juice or vinegar and ice water. Pour over all of flour mixture; pulse for six 1-second pulses or just until dough forms large clumps; do not over-process.

3 Turn dough out onto lightly floured (gluten-free, of course) surface--a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper makes it easier. Divide dough, 2/3 for bottom crust and 1/3 for top crust. Do not refrigerate dough at this point as you would do with regular all-butter pie crust; but if it's a really hot day, you can wrap it and refrigerate it for 5 or 10 minutes or so.
4 Form the larger piece of dough into a round disk, sprinkle lightly with gluten-free flour--topping it with another piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper makes it easier--and roll out to 12- to 13-inch circle. Transfer to Pyrex 9-inch pie plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Crimp the edge in your favorite way, then pop the pie plate into the freezer. On a piece of parchment, roll out the smaller piece of dough to a 9-inch square. With 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 16 pastry rounds. Cover and place in refrigerator while preparing pie filling.

5 Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 13-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Line 9-inch glass pie plate with pastry, trimming overhang to about 3/4 inch. Place in refrigerator.

6 Peel peaches only if you must--do try NOT peeling them--and slice into a large bowl (I use a 2-quart glass measure). You'll have about 6 cups of sliced peaches. (I slice them like this: Quarter peach, cut each quarter into 4 wedges, cut wedges in half.) In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, tapioca flour (take it from me, THE best thickener), salt and spices; add to peaches and mix gently but well. Pour into pie shell.

7 Working from outer edge, place 10 2-inch pastry rounds. Use 5 pastry rounds for next circle, and place one in the center.

8 Place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet in the middle of the oven to catch any drips, and place the pie on the baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 350, and bake for an additional 35 minutes (juices should be bubbling). Cool on wire rack for at least 3 hours before serving.