Polish Night at the Markowskis: Gluten Free Pierogies and Paczki

Gluten Free PierogiesThis is a once in a blue moon type of dinner. First of all, the Polish weren’t exactly known for eating light. Second of all, these are kind of labor intensive. The problem with gluten free dough is that it doesn’t stretch, which is really what you need to be able to do things that are stuffed. Another problem is that it doesn’t puff up in the same way that wheat flour does because it has a delicate structure. It’s like the difference between building a house out of mud versus building a house out of steel (the mud being gluten free flours, and the steel being flour with gluten). You can get a fluffy sort of texture with gluten free flour, but it is a delicate structure. Gone are the days of that crisp crack of the outer layer of bread with the stretchy, airy inside. But, hey, I’m getting over it. Sort of. So, we had a friend of ours over last night for dinner. He’s Italian and whenever he comes over, we make Italian food. Larry wanted to give him something different and make him a traditional Polish American dinner. Our gluten free dinner was gluten free pierogies with a dairy free cheese filling, gluten free ‘rye’ bread (it had caraway seeds in it to mock the rye taste), some gluten free kielbasa and lots of sauerkraut and horseradish. Ugh. It was tasty, but it really is a stomach killer. We’re all moving a little slow today. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the gluten free paczki for dessert (a Polish donut). I did make ‘regular’ food for the boys, but my daughter and I had the gluten free.

If you’re up to a challenge, try the pierogies sometime. They’re a good substitute for regular pierogies, a little chewier than regular ones, but just as tasty. I used a brand of cheese called Daiya, but you can use whatever you want, even regular cheese. Daiya is expensive but worth it. It’s not something I buy very often, but good for a special occasion. The dough for the pierogies is very delicate, so be patient and use lots of dusting with rice flour. A bench scraper works well for moving the dough around. For cutting out the cirlces, I used a cup from Cumberland Farms (which is a convenient store in our area), but you can use anything that is 3″-4″ wide. The soup take out containers from our local Chinese restaurant is about the same width. I hope you give it a try sometime. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Filling:
1 ½ C. Mashed Potatoes (about 2 potatoes, boiled and mashed)
7 oz. Dairy Free Cheddar
3 ½ oz. Dairy Free Havarti Style Cheese
1 Tbsp. White Rice Flour

Dough:
2 C. Tapioca Flour
1 C. White Rice Flour
¾ C. Potato Starch
½ C. Arrowroot Starch
2 ½ Tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tsp. Xanthan Gum
¼ Tsp. Salt
1 ¼ C. Water
2 Tbsp. Oil
¼ Tsp. Vinegar
2 Large Eggs
Extra rice flour for dusting

Directions:

For the filling: Do the filling first, so if you are boiling the potatoes, the filling will be cool when you fill the pierogies. In a bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, scoop balls of the filling onto a cookie sheet and shape into football shapes. You want to make at least 24 scoops.
For the dough: In a large mixing bowl, add the tapioca flour, white rice flour, potato starch, arrowroot starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Mix thoroughly. In a 2 cup measuring cup, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and eggs. Mix well. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture. Beat on medium for about 1-2 minutes, until thoroughly combined.
Have a cup of water handy and a cup of rice flour for dusting. Split the dough into fourths. Wrap 3 of the balls of dough in plastic wrap. Dust a board well with rice flour and place one ball of dough on the board. Make sure your hands, rolling pin, and board are coated with rice flour. The dough will be very sticky at first. Roll out dough thin, to about 1/16” thickness. Cut into 4” circles.
With wet fingers, wet the outside edge of the dough circle. Place a football shaped potato filling onto the dough circle and fold over. Pinch the edges closed. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, dusted with rice flour. Repeat with remaining dough. You should be able to get about 6 pierogies out of each quarter of dough. Cover prepared pierogies until ready to cook.
When ready to cook, fill a large Dutch oven about half way full with water. Generously salt the water. Bring water to boil. Drop in the pierogies, one by one, cooking only a few at a time. Boil on medium high heat for a few minutes, until the pierogies float. Remove from water and drain well.
At this point, the pierogies can be eaten, or you can pan sauté them in a little butter mixed with olive oil. Serve with sautéed onions. Makes about 2 dozen pierogies.

More Bacon, Please: Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts – It’s What’s For Dinner

Bacon Wrapped Chicken BreastsReally, I’m not a total bacon nut. Yes, it probably does make most things taste better, but, really, I don’t sprinkle bacon on everything we eat. My family, on the other hand, probably would if I would let them. I guess there’s a show called United States of Bacon (or something like that) that my husband and kids were watching and they saw bacon wrapped chicken thighs and were kind of gaga over them, so here’s my stab at the recipe. Okay, so I only had boneless breasts, so I used those instead of chicken thighs, and I made up a stuffing that I use as my regular go-to stuffing for stuffed mushrooms. I found a gluten free brand of barbeque sauce, so I didn’t need to make my own: Dinosaur BBQ Sauce is gluten free (there are some others, but Dinosaur was the most affordable and the only name brand one there), and I used the honey garlic sauce because I thought it would compliment the sausage stuffing well. This turned out really good. It’s more like a Saturday night recipe, though, because it is a little time consuming. Wrapping the breasts in bacon isn’t the easiest thing to do and it takes a little patience. In terms of cooking, it really is an overall easy recipe. It just takes a little bit of time. I served them with smashed yukon gold potatoes and it was a nice mid-week meal. Hope you give it a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, pounded thin
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 lb. Italian Sausage, casings removed
½ lb. Mushrooms, chopped
1 Shallot, chopped finely
½ Cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
½ Cup Chicken Broth (gluten free)
6 Tbsp. Shredded Dairy Free Cheddar Cheese
18 Slices Thinly Sliced Bacon
¾ Cup Barbeque Sauce (gluten free)

Directions:
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the sausage. Break up sausage while cooking. When almost done, add the shallot and cook until translucent. Add in mushrooms and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until mushrooms are thoroughly cooked. Remove from heat. Add in the bread crumbs and chicken broth and stir to combine.
Preheat the oven to 375º.
To stuff the breasts: lay out each breast. Place about 1/3 cup of the stuffing over the breast. Top with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Roll up the breast and wrap with 3 pieces of bacon. Brush with barbeque sauce. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes. Baste again with barbeque sauce about half way through the cooking time. Turn the oven to broil and broil for about 3-5 minutes, until top is slightly caramelized. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings (very generous servings: we each only ate about ½ of a breast).

Dairy Free Cheese (for pizza)

Dairy Free CheeseYes, I know, this is supposed to be a gluten free blog, but for me, dairy free goes hand in hand with gluten free, so ya gotta do what ya gotta do. First, I have to say that I have hated every dairy free cheese that I’ve bought from the store. Ugh. Really nasty. And I’ve tried every one that our store sells and every one that I’ve found at other stores. AND, they’re not cheap. It’s a lot to pay for a plastic/soy tasting nastiness. Okay, I shall step down from my soap box now. I mad a dairy free cheese a couple of times before that I liked. It was a cheddar kind of flavor to it. But, it doesn’t taste that great on pizza It’s tasty in an omelet or on a gluten free quesadilla, but not on pizza. This cheese tasted great on pizza. Okay, so it doesn’t melt that great on pizza. Maybe it would on a grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla, because you can cook it longer, but it still has a very nice taste on the pizza. Plus, it has a very delicate texture, so it doesn’t taste like little shreds of plastic, even though it doesn’t melt like traditional mozzarella. I have to admmit, though, that the ingredients aren’t exactly easy to find. I make a 40 minutes drive to be able to buy the nutritional yeast flakes and agar flakes, but I know that they sell it on amazon.com too. Give it a try. It’s fun to make and tasty. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

1 Cup Raw Cashews
1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tsp. Smoked Sea Salt
2 Tsp. Onion Powder
½ Tsp. Granulated Garlic
1 ½ Cups Water
2 Tbsp. Agar Agar Flakes

Directions:
Cover the cashews in water about 1” over the level of the cashews. Soak the cashews for at least 4 hours, or overnight. I soaked mine for about 5 hours.
Drain cashews well. Add cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, salt, onion powder, and garlic to a food processor bowl. Bring the 1 ½ cups of water to a boil and add the agar agar. Stir while boiling for one minute. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for another 7 minutes, until agar flakes are completely dissolved. Add agar mixture to the food processor with other ingredients and process until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a dish to mold the cheese in. I have a cheese mold that is just the right size, but you can use any container that is about 2 cups. Line the dish with plastic wrap and spray with cooking spray. Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared dish and let sit for about 2 hours until the cheese is set and ready to be used.

Friday Night Pizza Night

Gluten Free Pizza Again 3C’e la luna mezz’o mare….Ah, Friday night pizza night again. While searching for Nemo (the big storm that’s hitting the Northeast, for those of you who haven’t heard about it) and hunkering down, I was searching for yet another gluten free pizza crust. Hunkering down for a storm gives me a chance to experiment with new recipes. Hey, you have your hobbies and I have mine….I tried a new recipe for dairy free cheese, gluten free pizza crust, and dairy free parmesan cheese. It’s going to be a busy night of posting. This crust turned out pretty good. Still not a chewy crust like a traditional pizza, but I really don’t think that’s possible with gluten free pizza. But, I did like this crust. It wasn’t at all crumbly, which gluten free crusts tend to be. It was very tasty, just a little crusty on the edge and fluffy in the center. And, yes, I did use the dairy free cheese and dairy free parmesan cheese on top. Hope you give it a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
¾ Cup Warm Water
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Agave Syrup
3 Tsp. Yeast
1 Tsp. Cider Vinegar
1 Large Egg
1 ¼ Cups Brown Rice Flour
¼ cup Tapioca Starch
¼ Cup Potato Starch
¼ Cup Millet Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Salt
½ Tsp. Granulated Garlic
½ Tsp. Dried Basil

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine water, olive oil, agave syrup, yeast, vinegar, and egg and mix well. Let stand for about 5 minutes until yeast is fluffy. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. When yeast mixture is proofed, add to dry ingredients and mix well, for about 1-2 minutes. Grease a 14” pizza pan with olive oil. Spread the pizza dough onto oiled pan and let sit for about 30-40 minutes. Bake in a preheated 400º oven for 10 minutes. Top as desired. Bake for another 12 minutes until crust is golden brown. Makes 4 servings (2 slices each).