Sunday, December 19, 2010

Grandma's cookies

 Everyone has their signature dish. My Grandmother's was her "finger cookies". They were so delicate and buttery. The powdered sugar gave it just enough sweetness as they melted in your mouth. I have tried in vain to find another cookie that is similar to no avail until now. This recipe by Gluten-free Gobsmacked is the closest yet.  

Grandma would hand pack cookies to send my mom when she lived in Houston and when I was away at college. Sometimes if she was visiting my mom and found out my boyfriend was coming to visit me, she would whip up a batch so that he could hand deliver them. I would have dorm mates ask if my Grandma would send them cookies too! Good thing my boyfriend did not have a sweet tooth, other wise I would never have any cookies!

Grandma's Finger Cookies 
(AKA GF Russian Tea Cookies or Mexican Wedding Cookies)
Recipe makes 4 dozen 1-inch cookies


1 cup pecan halves
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted + 1 cup more for tossing
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/3 cup whipped cream cheese
2 teaspoons GF vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tablespoons sorghum flour, sifted (with the tapioca)
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons tapioca flour, sifted (with the sorghum)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  1. Toast the pecan halves over low heat until fragrant.
  2. Sift one cup of the powdered sugar.
  3. Process the toasted pecans and the 1 cup of powdered sugar in the bowl of your food processor until even and fine.
  4. Cream together the butter and cream cheese with the powdered sugar/pecan mixture.
  5. Add vanilla.
  6. Sift together the sorghum and tapioca flours.
  7. Add the xanthan gum to the sifted flours.
  8. Mix the dry ingredients in to the creamed/wet ingredients until it comes together as cookie dough (2-3 minutes on medium).
  9. Roll into 1″ balls and place the balls on a large plate.
  10. Refrigerate the 1″ balls for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (*NOTE: If you need to refrigerate them longer, please cover them with plastic wrap. You can freeze the balls at this point too, if desired.)
  11. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  12. Lay out the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat about 1 1/2″ apart.
  13. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes (Mine bake for 13 minutes) and remove from the oven. Allow the cookies to cool 2-3 minutes before attempting to move them.
  14. Dredge the warm cookies carefully in powdered sugar. (I usually put a cup of powdered sugar into a baggie and then toss 4 or so cookies about in the sugar until well coated.)
  15. Allow the cookies to cool completely on a cookie rack. (See photo above.)
  16. Toss in powdered sugar again, if desired, before serving or packing in an airtight container.

Tis the season....gluten free beer

 When attending parties this holiday season those that are GF can celebrate! There are excellent GF beers available today. Although I felt it was my personal duty to sample any beers mentioned here my diabetes would not allow me. :0(

The following is a an excellent article that looks at the different beers on the market. Bella Online article The demands of beer-lovers with Celiac Disease are finally gaining the attention of craft brewers throughout the world. Most of these brewers have been researching the chemical and physical properties of Celiac Disease, and have formulated their products with 100% gluten-free ingredients and processes that ensure purity of product. They point out that some filtering processes used by brewing companies render gluten undetectable in “low-gluten” beer; however, unless a beer is totally gluten-free, there is no assurance that it is safe for Celiacs. 

The most common substitutions for gluten-rich grains are: buckwheat and sorghum; rice, maize, corn, and sunflower; amaranth, flax, millet, quinoa, teff, wild rice, soybean, ragi, and rape. Sorghum and buckwheat are the most common ones used in Western gluten-free beer.

Sorghum is native to Northeast Africa, and followed the trade routes through India and China on its way to America. It is a vigorous grass that tolerates dry weather, and is commonly used as one of the ingredients in African beer. Buckwheat is an herb of the Buckwheat family Polygonaceae, and has origins in central and western China. Its small beechnuts are milled, which separates the edible groats from their hulls. These groats are then roasted and used as a grain product. Buckwheat blossoms have a high nectar content, and are often found in conjunction with beekeeping farms.
Guide to Gluten-Free Beers

Bard’s Tale Beer –USA brewers with current distribution in 42 states, including Iowa, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Vermont. The owners are Celiacs and beer lovers themselves who are dedicated to keeping the beer experience alive for those who are committed to a gluten-free lifestyle.

Bard's The Original Sorghum Malt Beer (formerly Dragon's Gold) – Bard’s Tale Beer, USA – Golden amber with light white head, with the aroma and taste characteristics of a satisfying, finely crafted wheat beer. This beer is crafted with pure water, premium sorghum, hops and yeast, combined with buckwheat, natural honey, corn and rice. This is Real Beer for Real People.

Ramapo Valley Brewery - Located in beautiful Rockland County in New York, these folks travel to various conferences throughout the year, and offer their Gluten-free beer year-round.

Honey Beer (formerly Honey Passover Beer) - Ramapo Valley Brewery, USA - Bright golden in color, with a delicate honey and hops nose.  Crafted with honey, molasses, Kosher yeast hops and pure, sparkling water, this gluten-free wonder has 5.2% ABV, a lighter taste and is dry at the finish. Kosher Certified for Passover

New France Beers– Canadian brewers with a commitment to ALL of their customers, they have dedicated three years to research and development of gluten-free beer centered on purity and taste.

La Messagère – New France Beers, Canada – A crystalline pale ale with light effervescence and froth of lacing that lightly webs the surface. The aroma and flavor of golden honey, kissed with citrus and wisps of hops. Brewed from rice and buckwheat. 4.7% ABV

Green’s – United Kingdom Company dedicated to serving the growing community of people being diagnosed with Celiac Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. New gluten-free products are being developed daily to serve this segment of the beer loving community. 

Discovery Amber Ale – Green’s, United Kingdom – Hazy amber beer, like a glowing sunrise over the ocean, brewed in the European tradition with light, refreshing apple and hop bitterness. 6% ABV

Pioneer Lager – Green’s, United Kingdom – Golden amber lights with gentle cloudiness, flavors of dried apple and apricot, with an acidic finish. 5% ABV

Endeavour Double Dark Beer – Green’s, United Kingdom – Walnut brown, full-bodied, with flavors of roasted grain and dark fruit, akin to a cold fruit soup. Replaced Explorer Stout. 6% ABV

Trailblazer Lager - Green's, United Kingdom - 4.7% ABV in a low-carb, refreshing, crisp lager.

Herald Ale - Green's, United Kingdom - A traditional ale , a bit cidery and touched with tartness common in sorghum style beers. 4% ABV.

Pilgrim Cherry Beer - Green's, United Kingdom - Winter Seasonal available in early November, this 4.7% ale boasts a spicy cherry aroma and flavor, that awakens the zest in holiday fare.

Mission Amber Beer - refermentad in the bottle with flavos of sweet malt and apples. 6% ABV

Pathfinder Dubbel Dark - refermented in the bottle with aromas of dark fruit. On the palate, earthy, malty and fruity. 7% ABV

Quest Tripel Blonde - refermented in the bottle, this assertive lady has flavors of pear, melonand citrus that hide the high alcohol. 8.5% ABV

NOTE: Green's has three Gluten Free Belgian Beers distributed in the USA market through Merchant du Vin. The beers are: Discovery Amber Ale; Endeavour Dubbel Ale; and Quest Tripel.

For information about getting Green's Beers in the USA, contact Merchant du Vin at:

Mongozo Exotic Beers - Exotic Beers brewed in Belgium. Caution: Only one of the portfolio is made with Gluten Free ingredients, but may not be truly gluten free due to cross contamination.

Several Mongozo Beers were previously on the list of Gluten Free Beers, but have been removed due to confirmed information that they are not gluten free. These are: Mongozo Coconut, Mongozo Banana, Mongozo Mango, and Mongozo Palmnut.

Mongozo Quinua - Mongozo Beers, Netherlands - CAUTION! Although made with quinua, a bitter grain of Bolivia characteristically used to brew beers made in Africa and South America, there may be cross contamination due to processing. No testing of gluten levels is available.

The Alchemist Pub & Brewery - Only available on tap at the pub in Waterbury, Vermont, USA. As Award-winning gluten free brewers, The Alchemist has won Gold medals in both 2009 and 2010 at the Great American Beer Festival, along with a a bronze in 2009. 

Celia Framboise - The Alchemist Pub & Brewery, Waterbury, Vermont, USA - Flavors of raspberry and pomegranate, delightfully immersed in Brett and a 7.1% ABV. Gold medal winner at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival in the Gluten Free beer category.

Celia IPA - The Alchemist Pub & Brewery, Waterbury, Vermont, USA - Bronze medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival 2009, in the Gluten Free Beer category. Glistening and golden body with grapefruity nose and full flavor.

Celia Saison - Farmhouse Ale crafted with sorghum, orange peel, coriander and Amarillo hops. 5.4% ABV

Sprecher Brewing - Originally brewed for Milwaukee's African World Festival, Sprecher has now entered the Gluten Free Beer market.

Shakparo Ale - Sprecher Brewing, USA - Unfiltered and brewed of  sorghum and millet, it is lightly refreshing with a fruity apple profile.

Mbege - Sprecher Brewing, USA - Brewed with sorghum and millet, bananas are added in this traditional Ale with roots in Eastern Africa.

Anheuser-Busch – Brewed at the Merrimack, New Hampshire facility, Redbridge is now available throughout the USA

Redbridge - Redbridge pours a deep honey gold, with a creamy, eggshell head that settles like a gauzy veil over the surface. Effervescent bubbles rise through the glass in a constant stream. Initial aromas are of light malt and a tempered, gentle nuttiness. Some florals rise in the nose. The tongue interprets flavors that echo as a softened pale ale, without the characteristic grassy, earthy flavors of more intense cultivars of sorghum. Cascade hops are not initially prominent in the foreground, but provide a lingering, bitter presence at the back end,

O’Brien Brewing – Ascot Vale, Victoria, Australia – Brewer John O’Brien was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 1998. A beer lover himself, he was soon to discover the absence of beer available for those with gluten intolerance. Not to be discouraged, he founded O’Brien Brewing, producer of the first gluten-free beer in Australia.

O’Brien Premium Lager – O’Brien Brewing, Australia – Sparkling Topaz amber, with white head and light lacing, touched with a distinct fruit aroma, smooth malty flavor and clean bitterness. 4.5% ABV

Under Development:
O’Brien Premium Light
O’Brien Brown Ale
O’Brien Pale Ale

Bi-Aglut – Brewed with pure water, buckwheat, hops, corn syrup and vitamin B1 by an Italian food products conglomerate.

Birra 76 Bi-Aglut – Italy – Golden color, foamy head, and fresh taste, totally lacking in gluten.

The production of Gluten Free Beers is constantly evolving, and many breweries craft this style, particularly on an occasional or seasonal basis. Dock Street Brewery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA crafts Sudan Grass Sorghum Beer; Schlafly Beer in St. Louis, Missouri, USA made a Gluten Free Beer in 2006-2007 from sorghum and corn (demand was low, so they only make it on an occasionl basis); C.B. & Potts in Broomfield, Colorado brews Don't Be a Gluten.Seek them out. Billabong Brewing of Perth, Western Australia has a strong portfolio of year-round Gluten Free Beers.

Your alternative to searching out these great gluten-free beers is to try your own hand at homebrewing. You will discover a hobby that is greatly fulfilling, while attracting lots of interest from your fellow beer-loving friends. The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian is a comprehensive guide that will walk you through the process, whether you are a novice brewer, or a seasoned master. 

Contact information for Gluten-Free Beer:
O'Brien Brewing
Bard's Tale Beer
Ramapo Valley Brewery
New France Beer
Nick Stafford's Hambleton Ales
Fine Ale Club
Heron Foods - Beer not available online. Available in Sainsburys Supermarkets in the Beer Section, not the "Free From" Section, and in Co-op Shops.
Mongozo Beers - Note: Mongozo Quinua is made with gluten free ingredients, but may have cross contamination. Use caution.
The Alchemist Pub & Brewery
Lakefront Brewery
Sprecher Brewery
Silly Yaks
Dock Street Beer
Billabong Brewing

Friday, December 10, 2010

Could Corn be wrecking your GF diet?

The folks of at Gluten Free Society thinks so! For awhile now I have been thinking that this is the next thing to remove from our daughters diet. I watch like a hawk everything that goes in her mouth but she is still having issues with stomach pain.

The list of corn products is quite daunting actually. When I read this list I started feeling a bit anxious. As if we were going gf again for the 1st time! Here is the link to the list by Gluten Free Society. There are also links to 4 studies looking at corn V gf.

If you have found that corn has been wrecking havoc on your gf diet please share your story.