Monday, April 17, 2017

Loquats / Nesperas in Season and a Delicious Fruit

Loquat / Nespera Time is Here

Ripe Loquat (or Nespera), Spain / Portugal variety, about 5cm (1.75 inch)

A Lesser-Known Tasty Fruit, available nearly worldwide

I first encountered the Loquat, which grows on an evergreen shrub or tree, while in Houston, Texas.  There were plenty of the bushes growing around the neighborhoods, and it seemed like nearly everyone owned the plants just for the lovely sweet-smelling fragrant flowers — I only encountered one other person in the neighborhood that actually ate the fruit.

Since then, I have become quite a fan of a good loquat (or nespera, níspero, nespolo in  Porgugal, Spain, and Italy respectively), and the varieties grown in the southwest of the European Union region are just wonderful.  The Loquat cultivars I found in Texas produced fruit that were perhaps an inch in diameter, which didn't leave much actual fruit after removing the group of large seeds in the middle.  But, as pictured above, these Spanish and Portuguese varieties get quite substantial — nearly 2 inches in diameter — and, even more importantly, they may best be described as simply succulent.

Loquat Taste, Texture, Nutrition Profile

I quite enjoy the rather distinct flavor and texture of loquats.  I consume the thin outer skin along with the slightly tangy flesh, but I first cut them in half and remove the inner seed ovules and the thin membrane around the seeds.  The flesh has a mildly acidic, semi-citrus-like flavor profile — perhaps quite similar to a ripe mango — that combines with flavors of peach or even a hint of apple, or at least that is my opinion. The flavor is complex and enjoyable for its unique mix of characteristics.

Since the plants grow in many different regions of the world, you may be lucky enough to find them at your local grocery or simply growing on a tree nearby, and this would be the time of the year (in the northern hemisphere) when you should start seeing the lovely orange fruits ripening.

Another gluten-free treat that is healthy to eat!  The fruit have a fair amount of Vitamin-A, Vitamin B6, Potassium, and Manganese, as well as some other trace minerals and vitamins. Combine that with the enjoyable taste, and the loquat is an all around winner.  As for the loquat price: this depends quite a bit on where you are and whether any commercialization of the fruit even exists.  In Houston, TX, I never saw them in the stores and instead had to go looking for friends with the trees in their yards where I could pick some. In Spain, Portugal, and the Mediterranean region, they are quite easy to find at a grocery or fruit stand, and depending on the time of the picking-season, they may range from the USD ($) equivalent of $1-1.50 per pound, which is quite reasonable.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chocolate Lemon Cheesecake Recipe: Yogurt, Mascarpone, Ricotta

Chocolate + Lemon = Tasty GF Recipe!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Lemon Cheesecake
Gluten-Free Chocolate Lemon Cheesecake
I generally like the combination of citrus flavors and chocolate / cocoa.  And, since I had some extra cheeses and yogurt to put to use, as well as some lemons, I decided to assemble this super-simple cheesecake.

The Recipe / Directions

When baking for fun, I don't usually take time to measure ingredients or anything since I have a fairly good feel for what works and does not.   But, I did keep a mental note of what ingredients I used, the approximate measurements, and how I went about creating this chocolate-lemon cheesecake.  The recipe is accommodating enough to not require much exactness in measurements, from my experience.

The ingredients I used:
  • 750g (~1 quart) Yogurt
  • 500g (~1 pint) Mascarpone Cheese
  • 250g (~1 cup) Ricotta Cheese
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup (or slightly more) Cocoa
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch
  • Lemons: the juice and zest of 3 lemons — if I had some lemon oil / lemon concentrate, I would have considered using a bit to boost the lemon flavor and impact
  • ½ Cup Sugar — you may like yours sweeter, but I was aiming for semi-sweet in my final product.
  • ¼ Molasses — I was using this to deepen the overall flavor profile and complexity a bit; you can certainly choose to use all white sugar, perhaps 1 cup, and omit this if you want.
  • 1 TSP vanilla
  • [Optional, as shown] A pre-made gluten-free tart-base, a product which I will review here later.  Fact is, I could have just made this without the base and it would be just fine and bake nearly identically.
The mixing and baking process:
I simply placed all the ingredients listed above, except for the cocoa (and obviously not the tart-base either), into the mixer and blended until nice and smooth.  The next step is to add and mix in all the cocoa at a lower speed (so as not to throw cocoa all over the kitchen), then finally raised the mixer speed and mixed thoroughly for a minute or so.  That's it. Done.  This whole process is very quick.

I then selected a 12-inch cast iron skillet, which may not be as "normal" as a springform, but, I like cast iron a lot and it worked quite well.  I covered it with a light coating of cooking-spray and placed the tart-base in the pan.  Next, I poured my cheese, yogurt, cocoa, etc mix into the pan overtop my base.

Place this into a preheated 325-degree F oven, and give it 90 minutes bake time or so, then turn the oven off, allowing the cake to remain in the still-hot oven another 15-20 minutes, then remove and allow to cool down to near room temperature before placing in the fridge.  This will yield a reasonably firm, yet smooth-textured, cheesecake with a deep chocolate flavor.  If you prefer a softer texture, reducing the bake time 15 minutes may produce the result you desire.

I created this on a whim, and I liked the result.  This recipe demonstrates how multiple cheese varieties, and yogurt, can be combined to produce a lovely cheesecake in a hurry.  And, it would be quite simple to alter the accent-flavor to orange if you choose, or perhaps even berries of some variety.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Gluten-Free Biscotti Recipe : Apple Cinnamon variety

Gluten-Free Biscotti Recipe

Apple and Cinnamon Flavors join Almond — delicious treat!

Gluten-Free Biscotti Recipe : Apple Cinnamon Variety
Gluten-Free Biscotti Recipe : Apple Cinnamon flavor
I finally got around to posting this delicious Apple-Cinnamon Gluten-Free Biscotti recipe (link to full recipe) on my recipes-library site.  This is a recipe that Kate came up with a while back, and it extends upon the basic Almond biscotti formula with some additional flavorful gluten-free ingredients that include:

  • Buckwheat
  • Coconut
  • Amaranth
  • Applesauce
  • Honey
  • Cinnamon
Whether you want a nice hearty and crunchy gluten-free cookie / biscuit to go with your afternoon tea of coffee, or if you want to serve these twice-baked delights as a dessert, they are bound to please.  Hope you enjoy them!  These are created in much the same fashion as the other biscotti featured in my Gluten-Free Desserts cookbook: a standard Almond variety and a lovely Chocolate Orange Macadamia Biscotti too.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Buckwheat is Gluten-Free and Safe for people with Celiac Disease

Pure Buckwheat is Really Gluten-Free

I had an anonymous reply to an old Gluten-Free blog posting where I had used buckwheat in a gluten-free pumpkin and spice pancake recipe, and the anonymous poster made it clear that, even though they have Celiac Disease, they remain misinformed about buckwheat and still think it contains gluten.

I have tried repeatedly to get the word out about the fact that Buckwheat does not contain Gluten, but it seems there are still those who apparently think otherwise, most likely because of the grain's name (which sounds a lot like wheat). It almost seems that no amount of scientific evidence or proof will convince certain people that buckwheat is gluten-free.

Buckwheat, in its pure form, is gluten-free. It IS safe for Celiac Disease sufferers. It is not related to wheat in any way either.  In fact, it is not even related (genetically) to gluten-containing grains, but instead it is technically a fruit.  There is a lot of information available related to all this and the science of buckwheat. So, avoiding buckwheat as an ingredient is simply avoiding an otherwise SAFE and flavorful and healthy grain which can be included in a Celiac-safe diets.

So, if you are looking for a good supplier of buckwheat and want to purchase some CERTIFIED GLUTEN-FREE BUCKWHEAT try Birkett Mills (that has been my favorite source for where I get it). They sell their flours and related buckwheat products (groats, kasha, cream-of-buckwheat, and buckwheat pancake mixes) online.

For some gluten-free recipes using buckwheat, I have written previous gluten-free blog entries about Buckwheat in Gluten-Free Recipes, and some of the recipes on my free GF-recipes library use buckwheat also.

As for buckwheat, it used to be that very few recipes use it [especially back when I wrote my cookbook; now, a decade later, it is much more widespread in its usage, both in America and Europe], because many people were rather scared by just the name "buckWHEAT" if you know what I mean. Pure buckwheat is gluten-free, and you can find it from a few sources that certify it as such.

If a particular Celiac sufferer was allergic to certified gluten-free buckwheat or otherwise intolerant to it, however unlikely that may be, I would probably recommend using Sorghum flour instead if I was to still want to make the few recipes that used buckwheat by performing a direct-substitution; or if you could tolerate Teff, perhaps use just a bit of Teff with mostly Sorghum to still get a bit of the deeper "grain" flavor that buckwheat would have otherwise added. Certainly buckwheat flour is not contributing any "binding power", since it does not contain gluten — just like other GF flours like Sorghum.

Recipes in my Gluten-Free Gourmet Desserts Cookbook that Use Buckwheat

There are only a handful or recipes in my book that use buckwheat, and where it is used, it is not a primary flour and should be quite simple to substitute out if you so desire. Here is a list of the only dessert recipes with Buckwheat in the ingredients list:
  • Buckwheat Chocolate Torte (the book's cover-image recipe actually) 
  • Peanut Butter Cookies2 Biscotti Recipes (easy substitution to remove this minor ingredient)
  • Ginger Bread 
  • The crust for the Rhubarb pie
I hope that this clarifies the use of Buckwheat in any recipes, and how simple it should be to perform a substitution if required. My objective with any gluten-free recipes is to deliver wonderful ways to deliver high-quality desserts and other GF menu items, and, while doing so, to also include recipes that make use of a couple more healthy (not just simple-starch type) gluten-free flours — healthier flours being things like buckwheat, sorghum, and even a bit of amaranth here and there.  

Many more gluten-free flour options are coming onto the market with time, and this will continue to improve the gluten-free ingredient options for all of us all, as well as the healthfulness of our foods.