Here are a few of my favorite things that are definitely worth the space they take up in my little Celiacsense kitchen…
A Scale for Baking
I love to bake and this oxo scale has made it so much easier. It is a scale with a tare function so that you can have the bowl sitting on the scale and by pressing a button the display reads zero, ignoring the weight of the bowl. It is easier, faster, and more accurate than using measuring cups. 4.5 oz. is the approximate weight of a cup of all-purpose flour. I have used 4.5 oz. of various gluten free flours and blends to effectively convert standard recipes into gluten free recipes. I use the scale for measuring flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, coconut flakes, and especially for making my favorite flour blend. With a scale that can zero-out, I can add one ingredient and then press the button to zero-out, and simply add the second ingredient. This system is much easier than using multiple measuring cups; you just keep spooning ingredients right into the bowl and hitting the button. The King Arthur Flour website has an extensive listing of standard weights and measures for many ingredients (King Arthur Flour also make a good premixed gluten free flour blend that is available in grocery stores). I keep a copy of this list in the drawer next to the scale. Here is a link to a demonstration video; and here is Smitten Kitchen’s tips on baking with a scale.
The Gluten Free Cookbook
I have tried out numerous gluten free cookbooks. Most of the books have been donated to book sale fundraisers, but this one is staying put. It is by far my favorite! The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. It contains the first flour blend that I found easy enough to make vs. buy a premixed blend (a more expensive convenience). It contains very helpful commentary and tastey recipes. Some of the recipes I love are the lemon tart, the pastry and the pie dough, the lemon pound cake, the banana bread, the meatballs in sauce, the Pad Thai with shrimp, the drunken noodles with chicken, and the eggplant Parmesan. The list could go on. Some recipes use oats which the Test Kitchen folks have kindly given me substitutes for when I have inquired via Facebook. Their choice of favorite gluten free pasta is not my favorite, but everything else in this book has been spot on. In the usual Test Kitchen manner it includes information on why things work or don’t work which proves helpful when figuring conversions for some of my old favorite recipes. The book held a spot on the New York Times best sellers list and volume two is rumored to be released soon.
Store bought ice-cream can be hit or miss as to whether it is actually gluten free, so inspired by a friend I purchased a Cuisinart Ice-Cream Maker. It is a simple solution for when I am craving ice-cream and want certainty that it is gluten free. Or when I am craving some exotic flavor like cinnamon, which goes really well on top of a gluten free brownie. The chocolate ice-cream recipe in the brochure that came with the machine is a favorite, and is so simple (whisk powdered coco, cream, milk, brown sugar, and vanilla together and refrigerate). I keep the inner bucket in my freezer so it is always ready. All I have to do is place the frozen inner bucket on the machine, add the cover, turn it on, then pour my refrigerated liquid mixture in through the hole in the top, and in about 20 minutes a quart of freshly churned ice-cream is ready.
Key to gluten free ice-cream is avoiding cream with the stabilizer ‘mono and diglycerides’ which sometimes is processed to contain gluten; generally organic cream satisfies this requirement, but do read the cream label. I’ve made berry ice-creams that have turned out really well using packages of frozen berries. And when feeling adventurous I’ve made a cooked custard based ice-cream that involve cooking eggs just a little. My favorite so far has been a fresh ginger ice-cream. The Perfect Scoop cookbook has loads of recipes for ice- cream and toppings, as well as suggestions for those wanting a deeper dive into ice-cream making.