Monday, December 03, 2012

Gluten-free cooking - not for the faint of heart

Last week our parish was supplying dinner for the student center at the nearby campus.  I volunteered to make a gluten-free pasta dish and gf cookies as my contribution to the cause.  The pasta wasn't too big a deal - it was an improvised layered casserole based on past lasagna-making, with pine nuts, sauteed with the mushrooms and thrown into the sauce, for a protein source.  (If the price of the durn pine nuts doesn't make you blanch, I recommend them in your sauce, though toasted might be better than sauteed.)  One other volunteer also provided a gf option; the students who needed to eat gluten-free were delighted to learn that not only was there pasta they could eat, but they even had their choice of two kinds.

The tricky part was the cookies.  I found a recipe on line, had some gf flour on hand, so I proceeded to follow the directions to the letter.  The recipe said to refrigerate the dough at least 2 hours before rolling into little balls for baking.  After closer to 5 hours in the fridge, the dough was still MUCH too soft to roll, so I used a spoon to drop dough onto the cookie sheets.  They spread a lot, running into each other, so they weren't very pretty, but not too bad.  After I'd baked more than half the batch, only then did I get the bright idea to add more flour to the dough.  That extra 2/3 cup of flour made all kinds of difference - still too soft to roll, but at least the cookies kept their shape a lot better.  Both the thin and the thicker ones tasted pretty good, if a tiny bit gritty.  However, the one young woman who was delighted to learn there was both pasta and cookies she could eat made me decide this gf baking is definitely worth pursuing.

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