Sunday, August 29, 2010

it was only a matter of time

it was bound to happen eventually.  things in speltlandia had been going great, so clearly i was due for something like this.

this was a CAKE FAIL.  more specifically, a lemon CAKE FAIL.

i had read that spelt flour could be substituted for whole wheat flour, so i hunted around for a whole wheat lemon cake to try.  of course i had to make a couple of other substitutions, rice milk for buttermilk and i had to make my own baking powder (commercial baking powder has either cornstarch or potato starch- both on the forbidden list).  the result of my over-tinkering is a heavy, gummy, rubbery mess.  the flavor is good.  the texture?  not so much.....

anyway, here is the recipe i tried to adapt to wheat and dairy free.  tried and failed. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

i like white bread

there. i've said it. i like white bread. okay, okay, multigrain bread is okay sometimes (i suppose), but most of the time i prefer to leave the birdseed for the birds and enjoy the simple pleasures of plain old white bread.

when i first stopped eating wheat and started eating spelt, the only sliced sandwich breads i could find were of the dense-whole-grain variety at trader joes and whole foods. these were okay but have a slightly weird flavor (nutrition?) that competes with whatever the bread is paired with.

then one day i was perusing the gluten-free freezer section at my local whole foods and saw off to the side a little white was white bread and it was spelt! whoo hoo!

i guess this is a long way of saying that the white spelt bread from the berlin natural bakery gets the hey spelty seal of approval!

hmm.....i think it is time for some toast......

Monday, August 23, 2010

calzones, take two

i've really gotten on a calzone kick lately.  they are easy to make in advance and are great to pack for lunch.  sadly, dairy still seems to be a problem for me, so i've had to rethink my typical filling ideas.

a friend suggested using caramelized onions instead of cheese and while nothing will ever replace cheese (glorious cheese), these are so tasty that i don't miss it.

sausage and onion calzones
makes 4

1 ball spelt right pizza dough, thawed
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 link hot italian sausage, removed from casing and chopped
1 link sweet italian sausage, removed from casing and chopped
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

olive oil
red pepper flakes

spelt flour for dusting

allow pizza dough to rise at room temperature until roughly doubled in size

heat some olive oil in a large skillet
add sliced onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they have caramelized to a medium brown color.  this usually takes around 30-45 minutes.

once onions are caramelized, transfer them to a medium bowl.

in the same skillet, brown the sausage, breaking it up into small chunks as it cooks
 after sausage cooks, drain excess fat and add sausage to onions

add lemon zest and chopped thyme and mix well

preheat oven to 450

line an inverted sheet pan with parchment

divide dough in to four equal sections
stretch and flatten each section into a flat disc

place 1/4 of the onion/sausage mixture onto one side of each flattened round of dough
fold the other side over the mixture and crimp shut

transfer each calzone to the baking sheet

top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

using a sharp knife or scissors, cut slits in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape

bake for roughly 15 minutes or until golden brown

serve with tomato sauce


Thursday, August 19, 2010

raspberry swirl blondies

one of the challenges of not eating wheat is that it isn't easy to whip up a quick dessert.  long-gone are the days of opening up a box of brownie mix, adding in a couple of ingredients, popping it all in the oven and enjoying a warm dessert in less than an hour.

or so i thought!

enter the blondie!

blondies are my new favorite quick dessert.  they take almost no effort to pull together, bake in a flash and can be doctored up in many ways.  you can make the basic recipe, or add things like chocolate chips, dried fruit, spices, etc, etc, etc.  in this version i have swirled in raspberry good!

spelt blondies
adapted from the amazing smitten kitchen

1 stick butter, (i prefer salted)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp good vanilla (some vanillas contain corn syrup....grrr!!)
1 pinch salt
1 cup spelt flour (i usually use a mixture of 1/4 cup whole grain and 3/4 cup white spelt)
1/4 tsp baking soda

preheat oven to 350

butter 8x8 baking dish

melt butter

add brown sugar and stir until shiny and smooth (i use a whisk)
add egg and then vanilla

add flour, salt and baking soda.  stir to combine.

pour batter into prepared pan.

(in this version i added about 2 tablespoons worth of raspberry jam.  i plopped little blobs down on top of the batter and swirled it through with a knife)

bake 20-25 minutes

remove from oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes.

try not to eat the whole batch in one sitting!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

spelt tortillas

okay, i admit it.  i am a bit of a tortilla snob.  i like a flour tortilla that is soft and pliable, maybe even a little stretchy.  in my humble opinion, most commercially available tortillas are a total waste of time.  either they are stiff and fluffy (a lovely combination) or have weird ingredients like flax seeds.  gag!

trader joes "hand made" white flour tortillas used to be a staple of my diet, so when i eliminated wheat i was pretty sad to see them go. 

thankfully, spelt flour actually works quite well in tortillas.  yes, it is a pain to make your own tortillas.  and no, they don't really keep all that well...

but when you MUST HAVE TORTILLAS, it is good to know that you can. 

this recipe (adapted from quirkycooking.blogspot), makes about 4 large tortillas.  the original recipe makes more, but i've found that they quickly dry out and get hard, so i usually only make as many as i am going to eat that day.  i haven't tried making more and freezing them yet, but that might work too.

spelt tortillas:

1 cup white spelt flour (sometimes i substitute one or 2 tablespoons white spelt flour for whole grain spelt flour)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tablespoon butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup water (approx)

using a food processor mix the spelt and salt together.  add in the butter and blitz until the mixture has the consistency of cornmeal. 

while the processor is on, gradually add in the water just until a ball is formed.  you want the dough to have a nice pliable consistency.  you don't want it to be too hard, or too sticky- so adjust the water/flour ratio accordingly.

heat a large skillet (i use non-stick).

dust the counter with some spelt flour.

remove the dough ball from the processor and divide it into 4 smaller balls.

roll one of the smaller balls into a rough circle shape- try to get it as thin as you can.

when the pan is very hot, gently pick up the dough and try to shake or pat off as much of the excess flour as you can (if you don't, the excess flour builds up in the pan and will eventually burn) 

lay the dough into the pan.  if the pan is hot enough you will see little bubbles form almost immediately.  after a few seconds, flip the tortilla over.  you should see browned bubbles.  if you don't, the pan probably isn't hot enough.

be very careful not to overcook the tortillas.  you want to take them off of the heat when the outer surface is cooked, but before they have totally set.  this becomes more clear as you practice.

while the first tortilla is cooking, roll out the next ball of dough....

repeat until all 4 tortillas are cooked.

i like to place the tortillas under a clean dishtowel as they come out of pan- this seems to keep them tender.

these tortillas taste great, but making them takes some practice.  it is a challenge to keep up with the simultaneous cooking and rolling.  if you are like me and can only concentrate on one task at a time, rolling them out all at once and placing them between waxed paper also works.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

happy happy

the thing about radically changing your diet and method of cooking is that the failure rate goes up exponentially.  it is totally disheartening to spend hours preparing a dish or a meal that is gross or just plain inedible (i'm talking to you- mushy spelt noodles!!).

tonight, however, was a complete success!

spelt calzones
makes 2 enormous calzones

1 ball spelt right  frozen pizza dough, thawed and risen for around 2 hours
(make sure not to let the dough rise too quickly.  with wheat flour i would usually proof dough in the oven with the oven light on- this does not work for spelt.  i don't know why, my guess is that it has something to do with shorter gluten strands....?)

1 med zucchini, large dice
6 oz fresh spinach (1 bag)
4 scallions, small dice
4 oz feta, crumbled

olive oil
red pepper flakes

preheat oven to 450

cover an inverted baking sheet with parchment paper

for the filling:

brown zucchini in a non-stick pan with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
remove from pan.

using the same pan, quickly saute the spinach until fully cooked.
once it is cool enough to handle, squeeze as much moisture from the spinach as you can.

mix zucchini, spinach, scallions and feta in a bowl.

for the crust:

after the dough has risen, dust the counter or a board with spelt flour and divide the dough ball into 2 equal pieces.  working one at a time, flatten each dough ball to roughly 10" diameter.

scoop 1/2 of the filling onto one side of each flattened disc, then fold the remaining dough over the filling.  crimp the edges.

transfer your calzones to the inverted baking sheet.

using a sharp knife or scissors, snip 3 holes into the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape.

brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

bake for approx. 15 minutes until golden brown.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

coffee cake

i have been craving cake like you wouldn't believe.  spelt does okay with brownie-type baked goods but i had my doubts about how it would work in a cake recipe....

thankfully, my fears were unfounded.  in fact, i ate three pieces of this last night.....yum!

spelt coffee cake
adapted from king arthur flour

1/3 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk (i used rice milk)
1 1/2 cups spelt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

preheat oven to 350. 

butter 8x8 baking dish.

cream together butter and brown sugar.  add the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is fluffy.

add milk.  (adding the cold rice milk caused the butter solids to well, solidify, which looked awful but i don't think it made a difference in the end).

add vanilla. 

in a small bowl stir together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

fold dry ingredients into wet.

pour into buttered baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes, testing for doneness after 25.

let cool for as long as you can stand.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

hey spelty!

something is making me sick...

for years i've struggled with digestive issues and a random assortment of other ailments.  after much poking and prodding i've been put on a strict elimination diet to try and nab the culprit(s).  no more wheat, dairy, soy, corn, peanut, potato, pea, celery, etc, etc, etc.  i know for certain that i'm not intolerant to gluten (yes, i'm really really sure), but while there are many options out there for the GF crowd,  many of those products contain other ingredients on my NO list.  so, what is a girl to do?

in a word?  spelt.

spelt is an ancient grain, an ancestor to our modern-day wheat.  it does contain some gluten so isn't safe for people who are gluten intolerant.  but while spelt may be similar to wheat- it is not as simple as substituting one for the other in a recipe.  trust me, i've tried.

this blog will document my experiments baking with spelt and the occasional review of store-bought spelty goodness (and the inevitable badness!).

wish me luck!