Gluten-free for novice

I’m not gluten intolerant, but I’ll soon be spending a couple of months with family members, one who is very gluten intolerant and a few others who are vegetarian. So I’ve been archiving recipes to make when with them.

For those who know, I’d like any generalizations about where gluten-free substitutes for wheat flour do okay. One recipe I saw was for stuffed, oven roasted tomatoes, which uses bread crumbs. I assume there are gluten-free version breadcrumbs somewhere, and I’m supposing that the lack of a need for gluten “structure” might make those feasible. Also saw an almond flour and olive oil cake, but–sure enough–the recipe calls for a small amount of flour. A no go?

Any how-to/how-not-to tips?

Thanks.

I’ve never had to deal with gluten-freedom per se, so I’ve never had to deal with finding substitutes when the gluten-bearing ingredient is critical and the substitutes don’t perform the same “functions”, so take this for what it’s worth. But if I woke up tomorrow being unable to consume gluten, I think I’d do my best to just try to avoid things that require gluten-bearing ingredients in favor of those that don’t. And there are lot of things that are “inherently” gluten-free, at least if made with certified gluten-free versions of the ingredients they do call for… (The thought of never eating wheat-based pasta or wheat bread again almost gives me the shakes, but given the few gluten-free “substitute” versions of those sorts of things I’ve tried, I’d rather eat rice noodles, rice cakes, and cornbread forever than eat the ersatz, gluten-free versions with any regularity…)

As far as your two example are concerned: this may be my vaguely-half-Greek phenotype showing, but I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a stuffed tomato (or pepper, or onion) that didn’t use rice for the starchy/“carb” component, and while I daresay many nut-based cakes call for some  amount of flour (nd in some cases it may be important to their structures), most of the nut-based cake-type recipes I’ve collected over the years - with a strong inclination to Central European tortes and the like - don’t call for any flour at all, except maybe to dust the pans. And I assume one could use some sort non-wheat starch (potato, rice, corn) for that, or just go heavy on the greasing and be sure to use parchment or waxed paper liners as well.

2 Likes

I’ve been making gluten-free sweet treats for a group for several years. I’ve had great results using Cup4Cup in place of AP flour. Also King Arthur Flour has several GF flour replacements with advice on when to use which one, and many gluten free recipes. I’ve found that if you make brownies or bar cookies with GF flour it helps to line your pan with nostick aluminum foil or parchment. Also to refrigerate for an hour before cutting so they will hold together. Let me know if you want any cookie/fruit slumps/cake recipes.

1 Like

The website, Downshiftology is my wife’s go to. Loaded with tips, recipes and meal planning.

2 Likes

Hi Bada
There are lots of options for gluton free flours- Raagi flour, Chickpea flour, Coconut flour, Buck Wheat Flour.
There are few gluten free recipes
Tahini Sauce
Hummus
makke ki Roti

Hope this will help you.:slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

The situation you describe has been exactly mine for the past couple of moths / GF, partially vegetarian, partially vegan on top.

They were using King Arthur’s AP / measure for measure flour. It’s ok, but I tend to mix other flours in depending on the use. Buy xanthan gum - even if the blend has it, a bit more can help depending on the recipe.

GF anything doesn’t taste / feel like the original, so if you don’t expect that you’ll be fine. Unless you use thai rice flour, there’s also a faint grittiness in everything.

You can get rice panko - it’s essentially beaten rice in crumb form. Or skip that and use nuts or cheese as a topping. Some gluten sensitive folks can’t eat oats either - otherwise that’s an option.

Ask your hosts. I’d guess no flour. You can use a GF blend or rice/millet flour with xanthan gum. Better, look for pure GF recipes - a recipe won’t label itself GF and still call for wheat flour.

I’m a novice on this front as well, it’s been an interesting learning experience.

1 Like

I find this is a good rule in general: Vegetarian stuff that tries to taste like meat doesn’t do a very good job, kosher food that tries to taste like seafood or pork, ditto. “Be yourself” applies to food as well as to people. :slight_smile:

4 Likes

This was a smash hit with omnivores and gluten eating folks as well as those on special diets at our Holiday potluck.

1 Like

This is my experience with cooking for GF people. My friends have been either celiac or extremely intolerant, and even a tiny amount of wheat can cause problems.

If you get Bob’s Red Mill products in your area, I’ve found them to be very good and fresh. They have an A/P GF blend that I hear is very good. Their almond flour alone is GF, you would need to use a different flour than wheat in that recipe as stated upthread. If you mix your own flours xantham gum seems to really improve things, as already mentioned.

There are excellent savory GF crackers on the market to crush in a FP for fillers. I tend to like the almond ones, but any will do. Also pork rinds would work.

To thicken stews or soups, I like a slurry of cornstarch.

Tapioca (fine) is good to thicken fruit fillings.

There are good GF graham crackers and shortbread type cookies I’ve used very successfully for crumb crusts for cream pies or other desserts. Nut crusts work well too.

Finally, GF stuff stales really fast, so if baked goods aren’t eaten within a day or two, they’re not very good. I’d wrap well and freeze.

Costco has a lot of excellent GF products too. Sometimes they have frozen GF pizzas. One that I tried was pretty damn good. Let me know if you have any questions about this post and good luck!

1 Like

You probably know this @BadaBing, but there’s a lot of hidden gluten in certain ingredients. Most soy sauce is brewed with wheat of course, but there are GF versions. Also caramel coloring, which may be in products like Kitchen Bouquet. I don’t know what exactly Costco and other stores use as browning agents on their rotisserie chickens, but it does technically make them non gluten free. You’d think they would be GF, intuitively, but it depends on the sensitivity of the individual if they would be able to eat that safely or not. Quite possibly, they could if the skin was removed first.

So, careful label reading becomes quite necessary.

2 Likes

Yes. I’ve found that some fish sauces–including Three Crabs, one of my favorites–have hydrolized wheat protein in them. It was enough to affect my mother in a dish or two, and I was cooking at her place with a bottle she already had in her pantry. After studying the ingredients list, I found our culprit. But many fish sauces have just water, anchovy and salt listed --like the Red Boat line-up–and, I think, Tiparos and others.

Coconut Aminos is the sub my wife uses. Sometimes we cook in separate pans to work it out now.

1 Like

Didn’t realize that about 3 Crabs, which is my favorite go to. I like Red Boat, but it can be intense. I used Tiparos before I found out about the other two, but it’s quite satisfactory.

Not food related, but GF people shouldn’t lick envelopes either, as the pastes are wheat based. You probably know that, but I was surprised.

1 Like

Items marked “Kosher for Passover” (unless they list matzo, matzo meal, etc.!) are guaranteed not to contain wheat (or barley, rye, oats, or spelt). In the United States, they almost definitely don’t have soy in any form either, though that is less universal. Of course, a lot of them only show up for Passover, so you may want to stock up then.

(Short explanation: those five grains are prohibited during Passover unless they are really closely supervised, which effectively means you see them only in matzo, matzo farfel, matzo meal, and products made from these.)

Thanks for this information @eleeper; that is good to know, and I’m happy to be learning more about Jewish foodstuffs too. May I ask if you are Kosher? If so, do you know a good brand of beef or kosher gelatin? I’ve got a friend who wants to find some for homemade marshmallows. Not sure if she’s kosher, exactly, but she chooses not to eat pork. I don’t know if she eats shellfish or not.

I don’t know a lot about the various dietary laws, but I know there are quite a few, and they can be confusing to people like me. As well as serveware and certain other things. The friend I’ve enjoyed Passover with isn’t kosher, but does stick with traditional (mostly) foods. She most certainly doesn’t clean her pantry out, and cook with all fresh stuff either. But everything is very, very good. She was marooned in Hawaii this year, and due to QT, she & her husband had a meal for two. She is passing the torch now to someone else anyway. Think I’ve mentioned it before, but she’s done 2 back to back Passover’s for about 20-25 people each night, for many years now. Her husband is a great host, but doesn’t help in the kitchen at all. I don’t think she’s going to miss retiring from it. :upside_down_face:

ETA, kinda drifted OT here, sorta got confused and thought we were on the Jewish food festival thread. I plead old age :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

We are not kosher so much as “kosher-esque” or “kosher-lite”. Yes, I know those are not real terms, and could confuse people. We will eat all sorts of stuff in restaurants, but in the house (until recently) we ate only kosher meat, and followed many of the other rules (though not all). But (for example) we go b y ingredient lists and don’t require everything we buy for the house to have a kosher certification. (Interesting, many of the Indian pre-cooked pouches now do have kosher certifications.) The pandemic lock-down/quarantine/isolation/whatever has led us to loosen our rules somewhat, though I’m still not cooking pork roasts in the over. :slight_smile:

As for gelatin, the only suggestion I can make is to look in the kosher aisle of your supermarket. Or the organic aisle–there is undoubtedly some vegan gelatin there. I never use it stand-alone, so I have no idea if some are better than others.

I have a similar situation with my family. Some random things I use…

I use glutinous (aka sticky/sweet) rice flour (a misnomer, it contains no gluten) to make white or brown sauces and gravy. Mochiko brand, from Japan, I find less gritty (or not gritty at all). I use it to make roux and bechamel, since it will brown similarly to wheat flour (you may have to adjust flour to butter ratios). I use this for GF Thanksgiving gravy and for creamed spinach and you almost can’t tell the difference. One drawback is it thins out when reheated or overheated, but if I want to reheat or if it seems thin, I’ll add a corn or tapioca starch slurry to help.

I also like tapioca starch/flour to dredge meat before pan frying or even deep frying. I use it in Chicken Piccata for instance, to make it GF. I’ve used tapioca flour as a binder in meat loaf and meat balls as well. (Not vegetarian, I realize.)

Claudia Roden’s Whole Orange Almond Cake is a fantastic recipe—easy, a crowd pleaser, and has no flour at all. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/3251-claudia-rodens-orange-and-almond-cake

Another fave is the America’s Test Kitchen southern style corn bread recipe. I just leave out the white flour it calls for and it comes out great.

In general, my favorite replacements/alternates are white rice flour, sweet/glutinous rice flour, and tapioca starch. For bread crumbs, I dry out and crush GF bread. But in general, I agree with others who say it’s rarely as successful to try to recreate wheat recipes than to use one that never had wheat.

For a GF free soy sauce look for tamari, it’s made without wheat. It’s Japanese style (darker than Chinese), but I think that some Chinese brands are coming out with GF soy sauces now too. Golden Boy fish sauce is my favorite brand and it contains nothing but anchovies, salt and water.

I’ve found it a an interesting journey. I’ve expanded my repertoire and techniques. I’ve discovered that many older recipes, (18th c, turn of the 19th c, or depression era) use alternate flours or eggs to leaven much more than you’d expect and those can be a rich source. Also, old Italian or Spanish baking often used almond flour and no wheat; another realm of exploration. And of course, there are quite a few extremely helpful GF cooking websites/blogs out there.

Have fun!

2 Likes

Thanks for all these wonderful ideas @soozerina! I’m trying to help a GF friend learn to cook and bake. I’ve been adapting recipes for various people for quite a few years now, but not with great frequency.

If all goes well today, we plan to make GF bread, and pizza crust, maybe potstickers if we get time. Will make her a GF lunch as well. We’ll have a glass of wine or two, so may not get everything done, meaning the potstickers. :dumpling:

I’d love to hear about the recipes for those things, of which good GF versions can be so eusive!

I’ll be most happy to share! Hope things turn out well. I’ve had some delicious GF baked things that I would never have guessed didn’t have wheat. We have a dedicated gluten free bakery near Seattle that make excellent products. They’re not as good even as early as the following day, thus I mentioned earlier in the thread to wrap well and freeze. I think it’s going to be a fun project.

2 Likes
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold