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).

mmmm…comfort food: Gluten Free Dumplings

GF DumplingsWe tend to have a different view of comfort food, for the most part. My family’s view of comfort food is something like chicken cordon bleu. When my son turned 9, our pastor asked him what his favorite food is (thinking that he would say ‘pizza’ or something like that) and my son said ‘chicken alfredo.’ But, we do like the occasional typical comfort food. My family loves chicken and dumplings. They actually prefer the gluten free dumplings over the wheat dumplings. These are fluffy and flavorful. The texture is lovely with the stew. You can use these for any stew. I had some leftover roasted chicken and potatoes and I chopped it all up, added some chicken broth and thickened it and then I added thickener to it (you can use arrowroot flour or cornstarch mixed with a bit of water to make a slurry). This is an easy, mid weeknight meal. I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
⅔ Cup Brown Rice Flour
⅓ Cup White Rice Flour
⅓ Cup Millet Flour
½ Tsp. Xanthan Gum
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
¼ Tsp. Dried Basil
¼ Tsp. Salt
Pinch Dried Thyme
1 Large Egg
½ Cup Milk (soy milk is okay)
¼ Cup Canola Oil

Directions:

These dumplings can be used on top of any stew. I made a stew of leftover roasted chicken and vegetables.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, basil, salt, and thyme. Mix well. In a separate small mixing bowl, combine the egg, soy milk, and the oil. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Bring your stew to a boil. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, drop the dumpling mixture into the boiling stew. Cover immediately and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes, until dumplings are cooked through. Makes 5 generous servings (3 dumplings each).