Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gluten-free week - day 4

One disadvantage of preparing a large batch of food is that for the next few days you'll end up eating much of the same thing. And it gets boring, it really does. Not just for you, but also for the other dwellers of the house, who will repeatedly point out how much food you prepared, make dismissive gestures at you and complain relentlessly (asking Why don't you make your own damn food? will usually shut them up).

So yesterday was the second day of ginger-orange carrot soup which - as whimsical as it once sounded - once the initial excitement wore off is just a large pot of endless orange stuff. Who wants to come over for dinner, hmm? The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the tapioca chocolate pudding with coconut milk which was stellar and which entirely redeemed the bad reputation that tapioca acquired on the previous pudding-making attempt (somebody said it had the texture of mucus - yes, he actually said that as I was eating it).

Going gluten-free is definitely enlightening, and among the initial discoveries you will make is finding out that you can make flour out of things you never suspected. There are plenty of alternatives to wheat that lend themselves to making pancakes, muffins, cookies and bread. Almond meal and coconut flour are two of those brilliant inventions. Discovering almond flour is like discovering another continent. The first time I made pita pockets I felt like Columbus, opening the oven door onto uncharted land and sitting there in contemplation, filling my lungs with the aroma of promise. But enough reverie - the photos!

Eggplant salad, which also makes a nice eggplant dip if you shovel it with tortilla chips. The best way to make this is to roast the eggplant on the stove, which gives it a nice smoky flavor. My smoke alarm is very sensitive so I opted for baking the eggplant instead and it was very tasty even sans the smoky flavor.

Pita pockets from almond and coconut flour. The eggplant stuff worked great with these. With non-gluten flours you have to use a stabilizer for the dough to stick together and not crumble away. The pita pockets are made with egg, but for bread you can use xanthan gum or guar gum as thickeners - more on that later.

Yes, they make gluten-free beer too! This one is spiced with orange peel, which gives it a fruity taste. Reminds me of Kriek and the other Belgian fruit lambics.

The star of the day: tapioca chocolate pudding with full-fat coconut milk and topped with shredded coconut and bananas.

Have you seen enough of this soup yet?

Air-popped popcorn for dinner. If you are a veritable popcorn fan, I recommend getting one of these brilliant gizmos. No oil, no mess, and you can even add melted butter if you're so inclined. As to the popcorn, be smart and always buy it organic.

Recipes for ginger-orange carrot soup, pita pockets and tapioca pudding.

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