Chocolate Chip Cookies for Bonnie

I have been absent from this blog for quite a while now. Suffering a great loss in my life, I was afraid to write here. I was afraid my grief would come right out through my writing and sound depressing and I did not want to talk about it. I have to admit though I miss writing and I miss this blog. I decided as part of my grieving/healing process I am going to allow myself to continue my two loves: baking and writing. Since I simply cannot stop thinking about the loss of the wonderful and beautiful woman who tremendously impacted my life, I decided to pull out the book of recipes I have from her and bake and photograph and write about it.

Bonnie had an incredible zest for many things in life and it especially showed through in her cooking and baking. I can imagine her zooming around her beautiful and immaculate kitchen, impossible to keep up with. She would be constantly murmuring about the fantastic aromas coming from various simmering ingredients, or the vivid colors of the produce fresh from her greenhouse, or exclaiming about a new ingredient that she suspected would be just perfect to add to this recipe. I can see her tasting a fantastic concoction of ingredients that started from a recipe and evolved in a dish that was absolutely one-of-a-kind, delicious and so  . . . well . . . Bonnie.

An incredible mother, who put family before anything else, I believe some of her most cherished moments were gathered around the dinner table in the evening, sharing her culinary creations with loved ones. After gathering hands and saying prayers, we would all take our first bite. Bonnie would usually close her eyes and just take it all in. If she was pleased, she would whisper “Isn’t this just scrumptious??!!” making the food sound just as delicious as it always was.

Well, almost always. There were times that things didn’t turn out so well. The notorious carrot cake for example, that she tried to make as healthy as possible, and substituted essentially every ingredient for a healthier version. It turned out, well, disgusting. Just describing the unforgettable catastrophe to me she would laugh so hard she would practically be in tears.

Of all her recipes there is one in particular that is my favorite; her famous chocolate chip cookies. There is something different, something special, about these cookies. I finally asked if I was allowed to have the recipe and I was honored when she handed it down to me. I was so happy to be able to recreate the delicious treat in my own home.

Then I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and the recipes from Bonnie were put back in the book and on the shelf to collect dust while I figured out this gluten-free thing. Recently I decided it was time I pulled those recipes back out. It was time to convert these recipes to versions that I can safely enjoy. First recipe to tackle on the list was an easy decision.

Through tears, sorrow, and beautiful memories of Bonnie, I worked away in my small kitchen to create a gluten-free version of Bonnie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. I think Bonnie would be so happy to know that her son, who ended up with a gluten-free wife, will still be enjoying her cookies as well as many, many others. I hope that you will be able to enjoy spending some time in the kitchen, perhaps with a little helper, creating these special cookies for your loved ones. I think I know a way to truly honor Bonnie’s beautiful life. When you make these cookies, gather your family and friends together, spend some quality time with everyone, and of course, enjoy these absolutely scrumptious cookies.

In loving memory of Bonnie

Bonnie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you do not have the following gluten-free flours, just substitute your favorite for a total of 280g (or 2 cups) and at high elevation use 315g (or 2 1/4 cups). I used a ratio of 60% starch (arrowroot starch, corn starch, etc) and 40% whole grain (brown rice, millet, etc.). In case you are reading this because you want Bonnie’s recipe, and you are not necessarily gluten-free, just substitute regular flour at the above amount.

Preheat oven to 375°F

Ingredients

80g (a rounded 1/2 cup) superfine sorghum flour
20g (3 Tbls) millet flour
65g (a rounded 1/3 cup) potato starch
65g (a rounded 1/3 cup) superfine sweet white rice flour
40g (1/3 cup) arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp guar gum
1 tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp shortening
1 egg
2 tsp gluten-free vanilla
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice (you can use regular sugar, but I like unrefined)
3/4 packed brown sugar
1 cup milk chocolate chips

At high altitude:
Use an extra egg as well an additional 1/4 cup of your favorite gluten-free flour.

Instructions

Measure and sift gluten-free flours, baking soda and gums into a medium bowl. Whisk dry ingredients together to ensure they are thoroughly incorporated and then set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening together into a creamy mixture. Add the egg, vanilla and sugars and beat thoroughly.  Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until totally incorporated. Add chocolate chips and stir again. Using a tablespoon or tablespoon scoop, measure well-rounded amounts onto a cookie sheet. If your dough seems to have warmed, you may need to refrigerate the dough for bit to firm the butter. Butter that is too warm = flat and crispy cookies! Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Hint: This cookie is easy to over-bake; if the cookie is beginning to form cracks in the top, it is done! If you want your cookie crispier, use less flour. Want it more cakey? You guessed it, use more flour.

Bonnie would always scoop extra cookie dough balls to fill freezer ziplocks bags of them for later. Her trick was to first put them on a tray and into the freezer for a bit so that they wouldn’t stick together in the bags. Later you can pull a few frozen cookie dough balls out and let them thaw for a few minutes while the oven preheats.  You will be enjoying fresh cookies in a matter of minutes!

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Gluten-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Nothing says summer like a fruit pie.

Do you like my little heart? I wish I had these cute little cutters from sur la table. But I don’t, so I had to free hand it with a paring knife. I think it turned out ok ;)

Prefer a crumble top? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

But first I need to catch you up on some gluten-free news, and then it will be back to the pies I promise!

Here’s a quick overview of upcoming Colorado Gluten-Free Events:

Incredible, Edible Gluten-Free Food Fair!
Sunday, Aug 21 from 10am to 4pm in Denver (yeah, not much notice, I know!)
click this link to the Denver Celiacs for more info

Gluten-Free Ride, Dine and Dash
Sunday, August 27th, 10am-3 pm in Fort Collins

Gluten-Free Awareness Night at a Rockies Game
Friday, Sept. 9th 6:40pm

Ok, you survived my news brief, and now back to pie . . .

I can’t get over the stunning colors in this rhubarb my friend gave me fresh from her garden.

Add a few strawberries, toss in some sugar, corn starch (gf of course), cinnamon and pinch of salt . . .

And you get this delicious gooey mess of strawberries and rhubarb.

The recipe I found for the filling was from this post by the Butter and Cream food bloggers. Butter and Cream is not a specifically gluten-free blog but the filling recipe in this case happened to be gluten-free. Please don’t avoid gluten-containing blogs, cookbooks or recipes! Gluten-free recipes can be adapted and in some cases you will stumble upon naturally gluten-free recipes such as this one.

The filling turned out good, but next time I think I will add a bit more sugar. It seemed a bit too tart for my sweet tooth :)

For the crust I used this flour mix from Glutino, blended specifically for pie crusts. The crust came out pretty well, but was a bit on the crumbly side. However the taste was far superior to any store-bought gluten-free crust I have tried so far. Pie crust are so difficult to get just right and you probably noticed in the first pie photo the top crust was a bit to thin and broke apart!

If you want to try a totally from scratch gluten-free pie crust recipe, check out this post from Gluten-Free Girl.

For the crumble topping I used a recipe from this dutch apple pie. (Just make sure you use gluten-free flour.) Oh, but I didn’t have brown sugar, so I used white sugar and added some molasses and it was fabulous! And I have to admit I liked the sweet crumble top better than the traditional top crust as the sweetness helped offset the tartness of the rhubarb.

Noticed my pies look a bit on the small side, did ya? Yep, they were created to fit perfectly into my toaster oven as to not heat the entire house by turning on the oven!

Does this make you want to make pie? I hope so!

Want some more links to pie recipes? Check out this awesome Pie Party Event and this post from Gluten-Free Girl after she hosted the Pie Party!

 

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My First Event with GIG Colorado!


photo courtesy of Red Frog Coffee

Ok, so I don’t mean this is the first Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) event I am going to, I mean this is the first event I am hosting through GIG Colorado! I am still a member and supportive of the CDF (Celiac Disease Foundation), and CSA (Celiac Sprue Association), but I am now becoming more active in GIG of Colorado. I have been increasingly impressed by all the amazing efforts of the Branch Manager of GIG Colorado, DeAnna Olson from iamgf, and the elected Leadership Team. This is a team of amazing leaders that have been working very hard to support the local gluten-free community. GIG Colorado has already hosted amazing events from Ice Cream Socials and Gluten-Free Baking Classes to a fabulous Five Course Gluten-Free Dinner Event in LoDo Denver.

So, I am happy to announce that I recently became a volunteer for the social task force with GIG Colorado focusing on Boulder County. I will be hosting a variety of local gluten-free events that focus on how to be safe and have a great time when out and about while living with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease.

And now . . . my first event announcement!

Going Gluten-Free at Red Frog Coffee


photo courtesy of Red Frog Coffee

10:00am Saturday, July 23rd 2011
Red Frog Coffee, 15 Ken Pratt Blvd. Suite 200, Longmont 80501
map

Stop by Longmont’s locally owned Red Frog Coffee for the best cup of joe in town (or tea if you prefer), and meet other gluten-free locals. Come to socialize, enjoy amazing fair trade coffee, gluten-free treats and learn how to stay safe when going to coffee shops. Do you know which brands of flavored syrups are gluten-free? Is flavored tea gluten-free? How do you know when a labeled gluten-free treat is really gluten-free? Come to find out the answers! Samples from a gluten-free bakery will be available for taste-testing as well.

Click here to register for the event!

Don’t worry it is totally free  . . . GIG Colorado just wanted to see the interest for the event and know how any people to expect. As a bribe, I mean reward, if you print and bring your “ticket” from the free registration you will be entered to win gluten-free prizes!

Do you have to be a member of GIG CO to come to an event? No! But, you are probably going to want to join soon enough :) and then you can click here to find out more.

Social Media Alert!

Wanna stay connected? Check out the Facebook page for GIG CO
While you are there you might want to stop by and check out Brooke’s Gluten Free Bites fan page!

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have so many amazing gluten-free recipes to share, but my first priority is to post recipes that cover the basics. Yes, I have been known to attempt to bake gluten-free and healthy, but I’ll admit it, when I dove head-first into the gluten-free world, I wasn’t craving roasted asparagus, or quinoa stuffed mushrooms (even though those are really good and I will eventually share those recipes). I craved baked goods like brownies and cupcakes, and comfort foods like pizza. What about chocolate chip cookies? Did you miss those as much I did when you went gluten-free?  The good news is these cookies taste so similar to the ever-popular Toll House chocolate chip cookies, most of my taste testers could not tell they were gluten-free! So, enjoy my latest recipe for Brooke’s Gluten-Free Bites Covers the Basics!

Gluten-Free Good Ol’ Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe adapted from the Ghirardelli Recipe

Prepare
Take butter and eggs out of the fridge to warm to room temp. It is important the butter is a room temp and not melted. I keep my whole grain flours in the freezer, so at this point I pull those out too to warm to room temp. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Ingredients
100 g (a rounded 3/4 cup) superfine brown rice flour (at sea level: 80 g or a level 3/4 cup)
40 g (1/3 cup) millet flour
100 g (3/4 cup) superfine sweet white rice
75 g (2/3 cup) tapioca starch
35 g (1/4 cup) corn starch
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp guar gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
10 oz chocolate chips

Measure and add all gluten-free flours, starches, gums and salt to a medium-sized bowl. Mix with a whisk and set aside. In stand mixer (or large bowl with a hand mixer), cream butter (trust me room temperature butter works the best!) with the sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix again. If you are as detail oriented as me, you will now sift in half of the flour mix, mix on medium and then sift the other half and mix again. If you are more like my husband you will skip the sifting, dump the flour blend in, stir and be done. I think it makes a difference, but that’s just me. Stir in chocolate chips and try not too eat too many of them in the process (see my confession below the recipe).

I like using a 1 Tbsp scoop to measure a well-rounded amount of dough onto a cookie sheet with a baking mat. You can also use non-stick spray but just make sure it doesn’t contain gluten; for example Pam Baking contains gluten!

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes until cookie turns a nice golden brown.

Tips:
- These may need to be adjusted slightly at different altitudes. If the cookies are too flat and crispy, add a bit of gf flour. Too cakey? Reduce the amount of gf flour. I would recommend altering by 1 Tbsp at a time.

- Need to substitute a flour? Just keep in mind the ratio I used: 40% whole grains to 60% starches (I consider white rice/sweet white rice a starch).  Thank you Shauna from glutenfreegirl for teaching me to bake with ratios!

One Bite Brooke’s Chocolate Confession
I am revealing an embarrassing weakness for chocolate chips (well any form of chocolate really) in the hopes the following tip may help a fellow chocoholic actually finish these cookies without a disproportionately low amount of chocolate chips to cookie dough.

I recommend keeping a minimum of two bags of chocolate chips in your kitchen at all times. Ideally two bags of milk chocolate and 2 bags of semisweet chocolate. I typically start snitching the chocolate chips right about the time I preheat the oven for chocolate chip cookies. Perhaps a normal baker has more self-control and is capable of  just eating a few chips from the bag and consequently have just about 10 oz left from your 12 oz bag which is exactly what the recipe calls for. (hmmm, does the Ghirardelli recipe call for 10 oz for just that reason?) But in case you are like me and eating 1 oz of chocolate chips is laughable because you started baking when you were hungry and the chocolate chips were a substitute for lunch, or perhaps dinner, then having a spare bag is essential to successfully finishing the recipe.

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SF Giants host Celiac Awareness Night!


Ok you California baseball fans, I just discovered from Deb Wheaton’s awesome blog Not Even a Crumb that tomorrow night, Monday, June 6th, my favorite baseball team (the SF Giants-Humm Baby!) will host their second annual Celiac Awareness night! How awesome is that! Also, Deb and her production partner, Susan Valdes, joined forces with the Celiac Disease Foundation to put together a dynamic PSA (Public Service Announcement) that *hopefully* will be displayed on the Jumbo-tron at the game (Deb has been working with the North Bay CDF chapter to try to make this happen!) Thank you Not Even A Crumb Productions, CDF and the North Bay Celiacs!!

Wanna read Deb’s article? Click here (it is mentioned in the last paragraph of her post).

Click here to read another blog post about this event from another fav blog of mine, The Gluten Free Lab.

Wanna go? Click here to see if there are tickets left.

Click here for a link to an article about last year’s event, including what companies provided gluten-free food and beverages.

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Celiac Disease Foundation Annual Conference!

The Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF) Annual Education Conference and Food Faire in Universal City on May 14th was everything I had hoped it would be and more! Here I am above (seated second from left) with other fellow celiacs I met that day. Each person pictured above has Celiac Disease. You wouldn’t guess we all have a disease, would you? We look healthy and happy, don’t we? Well, now that we are gluten-free we are healing and becoming the healthiest version of ourselves. The conference was such a positive experience and I was constantly feeling grateful that if I had to get a disease, at least I got the only one in the world that can be controlled by diet. And I have been diagnosed which is incredible when I think that approximately 3 million Americans that have Celiac do not even know they have it! Yes, I do feel lucky to have been diagnosed with Celiac.

Here’s the other side of the table I sat at, and only one person here does not have Celiac, but two of her family members do and we soon found out she is the gluten-free cook for her celiac family! It was incredible to be surrounded by others that completely understand what life with Celiac is about.  The speakers and food vendors were incredible, but I have to admit one of the best parts of the conference was socializing with others at the table. And I loved all the stories. A girl at our table had been diagnosed with Celiac which then prompted her mother to get tested. Eventually, after a frustrating negative blood test (because the doc had told her to go gluten-free before the test . . .), her mother was officially diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I empathized since my own blood test had been negative as well. Then there was a grandmother and grandson that both had Celiac, and one woman has Celiac and Diabetes. Some people at the conference had only been diagnosed days before and the outpouring of help and advise and encouragement among conference attendees was truly awesome.

It was also amazing to be served a lunch a the Universal Hilton where EVERYTHING was gluten-free. I’ve just never experienced that outside of my own home before! The photo above was taken as we were finishing off our delicious dessert of gluten-free sorbet and strawberries dipped in chocolate.

There were 500 conference attendees this year and most had Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. Isn’t that incredible? Oh, and then there were 70 gluten-free food vendors, Celiac Disease research centers represented, well-respected doctors, dietitians, gluten-free cookbook authors . . . I could go on and on! I learned so much that day that it feels overwhelming to mention it all in one post here, so expect future posts here about the conference. I hope I have the chance to go again next year! And it was an awesome bonus to get to see all my Southern California family, love you guys!


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Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Recipe

Before I went gluten-free or BC (Before Celiac) as I call it, my husband and I would make homemade pizza. Not just Boboli with toppings thrown on, I’m talking the whole deal with homemade crust and all. I still remember the first time I tasted this homemade crust at a friend’s house about 7 years ago. It was incredible. I had to have the recipe. I tried it and I was astonished when I took my first bite; it tasted just as good as when my friend had made it. I didn’t even care that I had burnt the roof of my mouth because I was so eager to try it (some things never change). The whole “yeast thing” was a little unnerving, but my husband and I had carefully followed the handwritten recipe. Homemade pizza crust success! Then it kinda became our thing. I mean when we made pizza on Friday nights I always liked to mention to our friends, “yep, it’s pizza night tonight”. And then I’d nonchalantly throw in “with homemade crust of course”. I’d love that look I’d get as they would ask “Wait, homemade crust?” Then maybe my friend would sigh and say something about wishing they had time for stuff like homemade crust. In our house we made time for stuff like homemade crust.

After the celiac diagnosis my mourning for pizza was fortunately short-lived as I quickly found pre-made store-bought gluten-free pizza crusts (that’s for another post). But, I was missing Pizza Night which included the whole marital ritual of making the homemade crust (including the never-ending debate about whether we actually needed a thermometer to test the water temp for the yeast or not). Then someone told me there were actually gluten-free pizza crust mixes out there, and so that was the next step. We tried a few bad mixes, and then found a good one. But, you guessed it; I wasn’t satisfied. It wasn’t from scratch. Growing up my mother never used mixes. She was mortified when I came home from college once and found a Ghirardelli brownie mix in the cupboard. She told me a story about how my sister had brought into the house and she didn’t want to have to throw it away.

I understood that now. I am a baker. And I do not want to use mixes. I have been gluten-free long enough. It’s time.

Enter the days and weeks and months of experimental pizzas. My poor husband sure endured a lot of pizza testing. It would always start out good. We would both take a bite, then look at each other and shrug and say, “Yeah, it’s ok.” or “Not too bad.” I tried various gluten-free recipes after my own creations failed to hit the spot. This was pretty frustrating for me since I was having success with other baked goods. I had made amazing gluten-free red velvet cupcakes, and the brownies I made were better than any gluten-containing ones I’d ever had. I’d had good luck with cookies and muffins. And yes I had to make them a few times to get it just right, but this pizza dough was kicking my butt. Gluten-free pizza crust and breads are a bit more tricky. And I was at high elevation to boot.

Meanwhile Gluten Free Girl and The Chef had mentioned their pizza recipe on their blog. Of course I should have tried it earlier, but I had been using their recipes as a fall back when mine would fail, and I didn’t want to resort to that this time. Gluten Free Girl is like my cyber gluten-free mentor and I wanted to do this one all by myself. But they kept mentioning this darn recipe on their blog. And then I bought their book (AND met them at a book signing at the Tattered Cover!). I kept flipping to the recipe and it taunted me on its brand new glossy page. So I threw in the kitchen towel and made it.

It was the best tasting pizza crust recipe I have found to date. I made some adjustments for my mile high elevation (less yeast), and then tweaked it a bit to cut down on the rise time, and now I am happy. But then the Gluten Free Girl wrote this post about needing to change her pizza crust recipe since she discovered she could no longer tolerate xanthan or guar gum. She replaced the gums with chia seeds or flax meal and it STILL turned out ok. Cool, I’ve got to try that. I read on in the same post to discover Shauna also makes a variation with a higher ratio of whole grains to starches and it STILL turned out well. Ok, so I’ve made all the variations Gluten Free Girl has mentioned, right? Not quite. First, I do not have an issue with gums, so I do not have a need to change that. And I haven’t tried a higher ratio of whole grain yet (it tastes so good as is, I don’t wanna mess with it). But of course I will, soon. I just didn’t want to wait any longer to share the recipe I have now because I want others to try it or some variation of Gluten Free Girl’s pizza crust recipe! I don’t want anyone to go another day of trying yucky gluten-free pizza! So, ladies and gentleman, here it is. My favorite gluten-free pizza crust recipe.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Recipe
adapted from Gluten-Free Girl

Note: It is important in my version of this recipe to not pre-heat the oven.

125g (1 cup) cornstarch
125g (3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp) corn flour
125g (3/4 cup) potato starch
125g (3/4 cup) sweet rice flour
2 tsp Italian seasonings
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 tsp guar gum
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp sugar
1 & 3/4 cup warm water (110°-115°F)
1/4 cup EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and a little extra for brushing
3 tsp rapid rise yeast (at sea level use 4 tsp)
Cornmeal for sprinkling on pan

Using only a 1/2 cup of the warm water, add the sugar and yeast and wait 5-10 mins for the yeast to activate. While you wait add the four gluten-free flours, xanthan gum, guar gum and salt in a large bowl and mix with a whisk. Sift dry mix into a stand mixer. Add the Italian seasonings and oil to the dry ingredients. When the yeast has had enough time to activate, pour the yeasty water in the stand mixer along with the remaining water (1 & 1/4 cup).

Using a dough hook if you have one, turn the mixer on medium for a few minutes until all the dough comes together or clings to the hook.

Sprinkle cornmeal (or corn flour) onto a pizza stone or cookie sheet. The first time we made this recipe we used all the dough for our regular-sized pizza stone and it made very thick crust. Then I realized the recipe was for TWO pizzas.  Currently our favorite method is to take about 1/3 of the dough aside and put it in 1 or two aluminum mini pie pans to bake foccacia rolls which makes a yummy treat for lunch the next day. Then we take the rest of the dough and press it out to fit our pizza stone. An important detail here is to wet your hands with water as you press the dough out. This helps tremendously with all my gluten free doughs. I keep a little bowl of water next to me to dip my fingers into while I press the dough out. Experiment to see what crust thickness you like. Brush a little olive oil onto the outer edges of the crust if you want.

Place crust into the middle rack of a cold oven and turn oven on to 500°F. Putting rapid rise yeast dough into a warming oven to rise and bake in one step is a great time-saving trick! This trick come from fellow Celiac and gluten-free baker Jessica Visinsky from the CSU Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center. In my electric oven I found once the oven’s preheat chime went off, the crust was ready to come out, roughly 25 mins. If the crust starts to brown, take it out. Keep the oven on while you top the pizza with your favorite gluten-free sauce or oil and toppings. When you put the pizza back in, it only needs to be in long enough to heat the toppings and melt and slightly brown the cheese. Mine took about 10 minutes.

Check out the nifty video the Gluten Free Girl and the Chef made on this post if you want to see how they make it.

Above is the first crust we made with all the dough.

This is our favorite crust thickness with 1/3 of the dough removed.

Here’s what I call my focaccia roll that I made with the remaining dough.

It was so yummy with my homemade chicken noodle soup the next day.

I’d love to hear about what you end up creating! Never settle for mediocre gluten-free food!

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