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Santa Barbara, CA, United States
I enjoy creating original wine-pairing recipes that are healthful and delicious. I work for Touring & Tasting a Santa Barbara based wine club and national magazine as Food Editor. However, I am not paid for this blog and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. I received my Personal Chef Skills Competency Award from the SBCC's School Of Culinary Arts. In 2012, I started Inside Wine - Santa Barbara with pal Lila Brown which features wine tastings with winery owners and winemakers. I also serve on the Board of the Santa Barbara Culinary Arts group, which had Julia Child as one of the founding members and funds scholarships for SBCC culinary students in her name.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gluten Free or Low Gluten: No Gluten For Punishment

In a recent CNN article, Carina Storr asked  "Will A Gluten-free Diet Improve Your Health?". She points out that one does not need to have full-blown celiac disease to feel discomfort from eating gluten; there is a spectrum of gluten intolerance from celiac disease to gluten sensitivity. In celiac disease, the body's immune system reacts to gluten by producing antibodies that destroy villi--which line the intenstine and make food absorption possible  People suffering from gluten sensitivity don't test positive for the antibodies, but feel uncomfortable after eating gluten. Science Daily reports that a Mayo Clinic study has found gluten intolerance is 4x as common as in the 1950's and that "the group most affected is women in their 40s, 50s and 60s". That's my age group and I find that I am joined by the majority of my female friends in feeling that gluten in any large quantity makes us feel bloated and tired. Conversely, reducing gluten leads to more energy and a sense of well-being. No wonder gluten-free foods generated $1.5 billion in the US last year!
Here's a short list of ways to reduce your gluten intake (this is not a guide for those with celiac disease, see the Mayo Clinic's guide) :
1. replace up to half your recipe for baked goods, pancakes and waffles with buckwheat flour. Despite its name, buckwheat is a seed that is not related to wheat.
2. have corn tortillas instead of wheat
3. use gluten-free wraps (available at health food stores) instead of bread for sandwiches
4. serve cornbread instead of bread with meals
5. make your own granola instead of paying a fortune for store bought gluten-free cereals
6. use cellophane noodles (check the package to make sure they are made from yam) instead of noodles, also soba (buckwheat noodles) in the Japanese markets or Asian section of the grocery store
7. make polenta as a base for your marinara sauces instead of pasta
8. craving pizza but don't want the crust? Fill a large mushroom cap with marinara, top with grated cheese and other pizza topping and grill
Here are two recipes to get you started--I made the buckwheat bread tonight and served it with homemade vegetable soup and Brie.
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup regular flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp. instant yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups room temperature water
Add to mixer bowl, mix for a minute on medium low (number 2 on Kitchenaid), scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, then mix another 2 minutes.
Sponge Topper:
1 1/4 cups regular flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 Tbsp. rock salt
2 Tbsp. caraway seeds
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients with a whisk. Cover the sponge with the flour mixture, seal the top with plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise for 2 hours. The flour should be soaked in and the mixture bubbly.
Final Additions and Baking
1 Tbsp. softened butter
Add the butter, attach the dough hook and mix on low (number 1 on Kitchenaid) for about a minute. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula, then mix for about 8 minutes on medium low (number 2 on Kitchenaid). The dough will be on the wet, sticky side and become less sticky as it is mixed with the dough hook. Remove from the bowl onto a well-floured surface and knead by hand for 2 minutes, adding flour as needed, until the dough is elastic and springs back when pressed with a thumb. I have a huge, heavy, ceramic bowl that is big enough for me to knead the dough in--and can be used in the step below.
Spray a bowl with olive oil and roll the dough around so it is coated with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size--about 1 1/2 hours.

Cut a 15 1/2" square of parchment paper (it comes in 15 1/2" width). Put it into the Dutch oven and press it into the corners, folding the sides up so it fits inside the Dutch oven. The paper will keep the shape of the Dutch oven and be easier to handle later. Place it on the counter and put the dough into it. Shape into a ball, spray it with oil and cover tightly with the plastic wrap. Let it rise 45 minutes, no longer. Remove the plastic wrap and make some slits in the top with a very sharp knife.
Prepare and preheat the oven by putting the rack at its lowest position and putting the Dutch oven and lid on the rack. Turn the oven to 450 degrees (it will preheat for 45 minutes).
Preparing to put bread in the oven:
You want to minimize the time the oven door is open, so have everything ready before proceeding. You'll need oven mitts to handle the hot Dutch oven. The bread dough should be right next to the oven so when you open the door you can quickly--but carefully--lift the parchment paper and dough place it gently into the Dutch oven, fold the ends of the paper outward, put the lid on top, then shut the oven door.
Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 400 degrees and remove the lid. Bake another 30 minutes or longer, until the bread is golden brown.
Cool the bread on a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins
1 1/2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk, slightly warmed
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup pecan pieces + 12 whole pecan pieces
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with muffin cups. In a large mixing bowl, add the rice flower, brown sugar, xanthan gum, cinnamon and salt. Sift in the baking soda and baking powder to get rid of any lumps. Mix the dry ingredients together.
In a separate bowl, add the melted butter, eggs, milk and lemon juice and mix well. Add the dry ingredients, the blueberries and the nuts to the liquid ingredients and stir quickly with a spatula. It will make a stiff dough. Use a large soup spoon to spoon the dough into the cups. Top each muffin with a whole pecan half. Bake at 350 degrees for 16-17 minutes.

This week's Online Grapevine wine pairing is a delicate Cream of Potato and Celery soup to pair with the 2009 Poet's Leap Riesling.
3 medium potatoes
3 stalks celery
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 medium onion (about 3/4 cup), chopped
1 tsp. celery seed, ground
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/8 tsp. white pepper
2 tsp. salt
1/8 cup sherry
1 pint half and half
chives for garnish
Peel potatoes and chop into eighths. Peel the strings off the celery stalks and cut into fourths. Put in a pot with enough water to cover the vegetables plus the bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Cook until vegetables are soft, then drain the vegetables, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid. In a saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onion and garlic in it until the onion becomes translucent. Stir in the celery seed and pepper. Let the onion mixture and the drained vegetables cool for a few minutes, then put into a food processor with the salt, sherry and half and half. Process until there are no lumps, but the soup still has some texture. Add a bit of the reserved cooking water, if necessary, for the desired consistency. Adjust salt to taste. The soup can be served warm or chilled--place the soup in a glass bowl that is inside a larger bowl of ice to chill. Garnish with chopped chives. Serves 8. Pair with the 2009 Poet's Leap Riesling.

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