Gluten Free French Bread

Gluten Free French BreadRecently, we’ve been getting a lot of requests for gluten free breakfast options and gluten free snacks. We’ve tried our hand at a few gluten free cookie recipes and found one [Maple Cookie Recipe] that we have actually enjoyed from the Great Gluten Free Vegan Eats cookbook created by Allyson Kramer, author of the Manifest Vegan blog. However, one thing we haven’t tried is gluten free bread.

Now, if you know our family, you know that bread is a staple in our diet. We grew up on mostly Italian food and using bread to wipe the last of whatever is left on your plate is quite a normal action in our home. So, when I recently made the switch to a gluten free lifestyle, I did so without many bumps or obstacles – except for the bread. I have found several brands of sandwich bread at Second Nature that I like so the desire to make a sandwich bread from scratch hasn’t hit me at all. What I do miss is that delicious french bread loaf perfect for dipping in a creamy winter soup, serving with cheese, or even dipping in a delicious cheese fondue.

I was hesitant to give a french bread recipe a try because, let’s face it, baking with a gluten free flour is a whole different kind of baking. But the craving for a crunchy, crusted loaf of bread with a fluffy, warm inside was too much to ignore. So I searched the internet high and wide for the perfect gluten free french bread recipe and finally settled on a Crusty French Baguette recipe by Jules Shepard.

When all was said and done, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the recipe was to make. The only modifications I made were to use a different kind of all-purpose gluten free flour that I already had on hand and I didn’t have any wooden dowels so I used foil rolled into long cylinders. The bread came out perfectly crunchy on top from the egg wash, just the way I like it, and the inside, while slightly more dense than a regular bread, was still moist and fluffy, just the way I remembered.

If you want to try your hand at gluten free cooking and baking, I highly recommend The Intolerant Gourmet and Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats as well as Jules Gluten Free blog. The cookbooks are both gluten and lactose free, but you can modify any of the recipes to add meat products if you prefer.

If you’re already living a gluten free lifestyle, or at least giving gluten free a taste, what recommendations do you have for others – recipes or general tips? Share your comments below. 

Deliciously yours,

One very grateful, bread eating, paisana

When All Else Fails, Wrap in Bacon

I was confronted with an unusual cooking dilemma after a hefty fig donation from my Nonni (Italian Grandparents). As you may know from past writings, I’m not too keen on taking food from others but I rarely purchase these fruity items from the market or grow them on my own so I was excited to de-branch a bunch and get to work. Mid-picking process, I decided to confront my Uncle Maurice for recipe tips and pointers. His suggestion? “Just peel and eat neputina!”

We also touched on the idea of creating homemade fig jam but didn’t stray far from the sweeter side of things and I was hoping for something savory or out of the ordinary. Obviously, as a fruit, I could add it to several baked goods recipes to create a fig flavored cookie, muffin, biscotti, bread, pancakes or something along those lines. Baking, however, is not really for me. It was common knowledge to me that the sugary fruit is enjoyed often with cheese, which I love, so that’s the direction I was hoping to head. Also, since we operate a Bed & Breakfast around these parts, a morning meal was preferred.

My usual recipe search began, checking one of my favorite spots first, Smitten Kitchen‘s blog, but coming up empty handed. Don’t get me wrong, the girl has her fair share of fig-infused, delicious sounding options but nothing I was dyeing to devour. A general Google search landed me in the right spot which happened to be a Berkeley, CA-based food blog called Local Lemons. Her Roasted Figs with Cheese and Eggs recipe had me hooked from the start, mostly because of the simplistic ring to it. Figs, eggs and cheese. How could you go wrong?

Turns out that was the case…and then some. There was absolutely no wrong to be done in attempting this savory breakfast recipe that featured figs as the main character. In fact, things only got better post Local Lemon discovery. Upon previewing a photo of my figs on Main Street Inn’s Facebook wall with a request for cooking ideas, Gloria Heffner chimed in saying just what I needed/wanted/always love to hear.

“Wrap in bacon then broil or bake.”

It was settled. I planned to combine the two ideas for an ultimate savory fig breakfast. I basically followed Local Lemons instructions (see below) for roasting the figs but wrapped them in bacon during the process and left out the cheese until later. I completely nixed the olive oil and sea salt since pork is naturally salty and I knew juices from the fat would soak into the fig while baking.

Another great thing about this recipe is you can use it as a a VERY easy but fancy lookin’ hors d’oeuvres for the next shin dig you throw. Leave the egg at home and stick with a little crostini for presentation. Your guests won’t know what hit ‘em! Enjoy!

Ingredients

fresh figs
strong cheese (blue, gorgonzola, pecorino) – I used goat simply because I LOVE IT
eggs
fresh bread

Instructions

- Preheat the oven to 400F

- Using a sharp paring knife, cut the small stems off the top of each fig. Cut an “X” into the top of the fig, going about an inch deep. Gently spread the fig open just a touch

- Arrange figs on an ovenproof dish

- Cook until bacon is nearly done (different for each eater so didn’t want to specify a time but took me about 30 minutes)

- Pull from oven and top each bacon wrapped fig with a semi-flattened piece of cheese so it covers more surface area and slightly holds everything together

- Place back in the oven and cook a little longer until cheese is melted and bacon thoroughly cooked

- Meanwhile, cook eggs in a frying pan to your liking (I prefer over medium with the yolk a little runny)

- Pull the bacon-wrapped, cheese-topped fig from the oven when done

- Arrange the ingredients: bread, egg, fig

- Enjoy!

 

Until Next Time,

Bacon Therapy Enthusiast

 

Lemme Tell You About Lebanese

I’m a big fan of Mediterranean cooking. Probably because I’m a big fan of vegetables and easy preparation. I know from experience that most Italian cooking, although it tastes otherwise, derives from shorter recipes. The magic lies within good ingredients and not over-doing it. I think it’s safe to say the Main Street Inn follows that credo quite often. Don’t you agree?

With the end of Summer creeping in, gardens are exploding with ready to eat goods. As a result, a tenant in my building started leaving her produce overload near the building’s main entrance. Apparantly, 20 eggplants is too much for two people to handle? Their loss was certainly my gain after stumbling across this Lebanese recipe.

I have to be honest I was a little shocked to see multiple hits return from an “Eggplant + Eggs” Google search. Little scrolling, in fact none, was involved before entering the Taste of Beirut website. It was actually the second link on the page and the only reason I didn’t choose the first link is because there was a foreign word in the title I couldn’t pronounce. It’s funny how destiny works.

One of the first things I do when checking out a blog is examine the top banner or logo. I think, in a way, many of us use this technique throughout life. Have you ever chosen wine because the label was cute? Then you’re a label whore. Own it. So am I and everyone else in this country.

Needless to say, hook, line and sinker set in and I was convinced this recipe was the one. If I wasn’t over the edge just yet then the first line, “I love easy meals,” was a hard enough push to send me plummeting.

I used the Eggs with Eggplant recipe below but in smaller portions (only making 2) and I sprinkled a little panko bread crumbs (you could use Italian) to crunch things up a bit. Texture and color are key for a satisfying meal! There was roasted garlic left over from last week’s recipe so that took the place of regular cloves. I didn’t have pita bread but I crisped up a tortilla wrap with a little olive oil spray and oven time. Voila!

I will definitely return to this food blog to try more of the Lebanese recipes for home cooking. Stay tuned!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of eggplant
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic, mashed with a dash of salt
  • mint
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • pita bread

METHOD:

  • Cut  the eggplant in small dices and place on a sieve over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt.
  • Chop the onion.
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Mash the garlic with a dash of salt.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and when it is hot, add the onion.
  • Let the onion get golden, which will take about 15 minutes.
  • Drain the eggplant, squeeze the extra moisture with some paper towels and drop in the pot with the onions.
  • Brown the eggplants about 15 minutes on medium high heat.
  • Add the mashed garlic and saute with the eggplant and onion a few more minutes.
  • Form craters in the pan and drop in each one an egg (do so delicately )
  • Place the pan in the oven for about 8 minutes until the whites are firm.
  • Remove, sprinkle with mint, and serve with pita bread on the side. Sahteyn!
Until Next Time,
Voluntary Veggie Vixen