Gluten Free Matzo Balls (kneidlach) and Soup

Matzo ball soup is at the core if every Passover Seder. Without matzo ball soup, it just isn’t a true Passover meal. Traditional matzo balls are made with “matzo meal.” Matzo meal is finely ground matzo, which just so happens to be made of flour.

Matzo balls are served in a simple chicken soup, which is naturally gluten free. But gluten free matzo balls? That’s a different story which required a great deal of experimentation, trial, and error.

To make matzo balls gluten free, the main ingredient, matzo meal, must be replaced. We found that matzo meal is quite heavy, whereas most gluten free flours are very light. This made making the gluten free matzo balls round in shape especially difficult.

We decided to focus on flavor over form:

Gfnoms’ mom tried many different recipes, including recipes we found online that utilized almond flour. These seemed promising because almond flour is one of the heavier gluten free flours. And indeed, the matzo balls made with almond flour were easy to shape into round balls, and they tasted fine –but not quite right. The almond flavor was strong and introduced a very “non-traditional” taste to the matzo balls that we didn’t love.

But Gfnoms’ mom didn’t give up. She wanted to find a gluten free matzo ball recipe that would taste like the traditional matzo balls that everyone else at the table would be enjoying. So she kept trying, and tasting, and trying again.

The matzo balls made with a gluten free flour mix (we used the Trader Joe’s brand mix) were the closest in taste to the traditional matzo balls but they were much harder to shape. In the end, we decided that flavor was more important than shape, so after trying nearly 10 different recipes, this is our recommendation for your gluten free passover matzo balls:

GF Matzo Balls!

Gluten Free Matzo Balls

Recipe is for ~15 matzo balls

3 medium eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1-2 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup Gluten Free flour mix (we used a Trader Joe’s brand but most store-bought gluten free flour mixes such as Bob’s Red Mill should work)
Instructions:

  • Mix together the eggs and the oil
  • Add salt and pepper
  • Add this mixture to the flour, mixing well with a fork
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before proceeding
  • Heat soup stock to a boil and drop shaped spoonfuls of batter in.
    • *Note: If the batter is too wet or runny to shape with your hands, use 2 teaspoons: one to scoop the batter and the other to drop the batter into the soup.
  • Make sure the matzo balls do not stick to the bottom of the pot. If they do, release them with a large spoon.
  • Let the balls float.
  • Cover the pot, lower the heat to a low simmer, and cook for 30-40 minutes.

*Note: Do not cook the matzo balls in the soup that will be served as it will get cloudy. Instead, use other chicken or vegetable stock (or even salted water in a pinch!)

The matzo balls will taste best if they are prepared on the same day that they are served. Transfer the cooked and hot matzo balls to your chicken soup (recipe below) and enjoy your seder.

Chicken Soup

This is a simple and tasty recipe that will be even better a day or two after it is cooked.

8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed (or equivalent amount of chicken and bones from other parts of the chicken.)
1 onion
1 peeled potato
6 celery stalks (use the stalks with leaves)
10 carrots, peeled
3 zucchini, unpeeled
1/3 bunch of Italian parsley
1/3 bunch of dill
3 bay leaves
14 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Remove the skin from the chicken and place in a large soup pot.
  • Add the clean vegetables, whole, to the pot
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and add the water.
  • Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
  • After the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and cook for another 2 hours.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • The soup is ready when all of the vegetables are soft.

Happy passover!

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Falafel

Falafel is one of the most popular meals in the middle east. It can be found on almost every street corner. Falafel is usually eaten out of a pita pocket, but thankfully for the gluten free community, many people enjoy their falafels on a plate, with the pita bread on the side or not at all. Gluten free pita is hard to find in Seattle and we have only found good gluten free pitas in natural groceries in the middle east. A falafel meal is delicious and filling with or without the GF pita! Falafel balls are made from a mix of garbanzo beans, spices, and herbs. They make for an excellent gluten free dish year round.

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Typically, the falafel balls are topped with variety of salads and sauces. Tahini, hummus, cucumbers, tomatoes, and pickles are our favorite additions.

(This recipe makes 20-30 falafel balls)
1 lbs (or about 2 ¼ cups) garbanzo beans soaked overnight*
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
1/2 bunch Italian parsley leaves
7-10 garlic cloves
1 small onion
1 small jalapeño
Vegetable oil (for frying)
A few tbsp of chickpea flour if needed

*Soaking garbanzo beans or chickpeas:

  • Soak 1 lb of picked over dried chickpeas in water (enough to cover) for 12 hours
  • Drain before using

Note that old chickpeas will not soften regardless of how long you soak them, so if the dried chickpeas are over a year old, toss them and buy a new batch!

Spices:
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp cumin
1/2-3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2-3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 Tbs salt
Dash of cardamom, nutmeg, and ground cloves

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In a food processor, pulse the soaked beans with the cilantro and parsley. Add the spices, mixing well and pulsing in the food processor but still keeping a coarse consistency.

This falafel mix can be used immediately or it can be frozen and kept for up to 2-3 months. If you freeze the mix, let it thaw completely before proceeding with the next steps:

  • In a small deep pot, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil.
  • Create small balls of the falafel mix and drop them into the pot.
  • Deep fry uncovered for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

A note on forming the falafel balls before frying: if the mix is too soft, and the falafel balls won’t form into balls, sprinkle some chickpea flour into the mix and try forming falafel balls again. Repeat if necessary. If the mix becomes too dry, add a few teaspoons of water.

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Event: Old School Treats’ Holiday Cooking Class for Kids

This upcoming event for kids sounds fun!

A local small catering bakery (Old School Treats) is teaching a “Holiday Cooking Class for Kids.”

Last summer they were at the Maple Valley and Magnolia Farmer’s Markets selling Gluten-free baked goods and are now offering a cooking class at the historic Pike Place Market Atrium Kitchen, on:

Saturday, December 27th, from 12:00-2:00.

We want to share the tricks that we have learned on how baking Gluten-free does NOT have to sacrifice amazing taste!

Our motto is: “Tastes, like you remember!”

You can contact Old School Treats at:

425-654-1007

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Zucchini Garbanzo Bean Salad

Z.chick.pea.salad

Zucchini Garbanzo Bean Salad

8-10 servings

This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book “Jerusalem: A Cookbook”

A family BBQ was planned for Sunday and I knew that I would be gone for most of the day, so I had to do all of my preparations in advance.

I decided to make a salad that combines both cooked and raw ingredients. The cooked ingredients were prepared in advance, and the raw vegetables and dressing were added just before serving.

Ingredients
3 zucchini, cubed
⅓ cup dry garbanzo beans (or 1 can of garbanzo beans)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
extra virgin olive oil

1 pepper, cubed
10-12 radishes, cut
1 small red onion, cubed
6 -8 oz feta cheese, cubed

Dressing:
5 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
Lemon rind
1 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Soak the garbanzo beans overnight submerged in water and (GF) baking soda
  2. The next day, cook the garbanzo beans in clean water for about 30 minutes, or until soft. Drain. Heat a frying pan on medium heat and cover the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil. Add the  cardamom, allspice, cumin, salt, and pepper, and mix well. Pour garbanzo beans into the spices and fry over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring well.
  3. Sautée the zucchini: add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan and heat well. Fry zucchini cubes about 5 minutes over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned but still somewhat firm.  Set aside to cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. When ready to serve: combine all dressing ingredients into a jar and shake well. (The dressing can be prepared in advance and refrigerated until ready to serve).
  5. Just before serving, combine zucchini, fresh vegetables and cheese. Pour dressing, mix well.
  6. Warm garbanzo beans to room temperature and add to the salad.

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Upcoming Gluten Free Expo in Tacoma, WA

I was recently contacted by the Gluten Intolerance Group. They asked me to share that they will be hosting a gluten free expo on November 9th. It sounds like a lot of fun and I hope to be able to attend!

Here is their message:

“GIG is hosting an Expo and Celebration on November 9th,   1 – 5 pm at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center.  This will be a great opportunity to sample gluten-free products and help GIG celebrate 40 years of supporting the gluten-free community. The Celebration will include events for both adults and kids to enjoy, with gluten-free vendors showcasing new products, silent and live auctions for fabulous gluten-free related items & experiences, bouncy houses, and fun for all ages.
Admission is just $ 5 and kids 12 and under are free. 
Thanks GIG for including GFNoms!

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Almond Cookies and Nut Cake

It is my pleasure to introduce a new contributor to GlutenFreeNoms.com. GFNoms’ own mother has decided to share her successes in gluten free baking and cooking with all of you. Ever since I started eating gluten free, she has been inspired to combine her wealth of cooking and baking knowledge with new information about Celiac needs and experimentation with gluten free ingredients. There have been triumphs and failures but the triumphs have been delicious and we look forward to sharing the recipes and insights here!

— GFNoms

Here she is:

Gluten free cooking is easy if you use regular recipes which naturally do not contain wheat, barley, or rye products. Stick to raw ingredients and use GF versions of ingredients such as spice mixtures, mayonnaise, soy sauce, yogurt, mustard etc …) and your food will be GF.

Some recipes that call for flour or other gluten-containing ingredients can be still made by replacing ingredients, but this requires some trial and error.

I’ll post gluten free recipes as I use them in my daily routine, based on my personal events, such as celebrating holidays, hosting guests, social gatherings, etc …

So please join my kitchen!

This weekend we are having guests come to stay with us. I do not know exactly what the plans are, so I’ll prepare some cakes and cookies that go well with coffee, tea, or a glass of wine.

Nut cake with dried fruit

 Nut and fruit cake

I have had this recipe for many years and I originally got it from my sister-in-law. I simply exchanged the regular flour with almond flour. The results were even tastier. The cake does tend to crumble a bit more, so be extra careful when slicing the cake.

3 eggs
1 cup almond flour / meal
3/4 tsp GF baking powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs cognac
7 oz (or 200 grams) mixed raw nuts such as pecans or walnuts coarsely chopped
12 oz (or 350 grams) dried fruit coarsely chopped (I used dried cranberries, apricots, and cherries)

Mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Grease a loaf pan with butter. Line the bottom and all 4 walls of the pan with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to the pan and bake for around 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven. When the cake is nice and brown and a toothpick comes out dry, take it out of the oven.

Let the cake cool thoroughly.

Remove from the pan with the help of the parchment paper. Peel away the paper and cut into thin slices with a sharp knife.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Fluffy Almond Cookies

photo 4

(makes ~24 cookies)

9 oz (or 250 grams) almond flour or meal
7 oz (or 200 grams) powdered sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp almond extract
2 egg whites

Mix all of the dry ingredients

Beat the egg whites until they form peaks.

Slowly fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites and mix well.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Drop teaspoonfuls heaps of dough on the cookie sheet, leaving some space between each (the cookies will spread)

Place one sliced, preferably peeled almond on each cookie (see photo).

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the cookies are flat and golden.

Let the cookies cool before removing them from the parchment paper.

Store in an airtight box.

–GFNoms’ Mom

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San Francisco Gluten Free

San Francisco: just a short flight from Seattle. We had great luck eating out in SF and the Bay Area. We especially loved Asian Box (in Mountain View), Minako, Cafe St. Jorge, and Pica Pica. I’d love to try all of the other promising gluten free friendly restaurants but I can’t promise that, next time I’m town, I won’t just visit the same great ones I discovered last time! They were that good.

I’ve compiled a long list of GF SF recommendations here.

Here are some of the treats from Pica Pica:

picapica

Pica Pica:

picapica2

Here are some treats from Cafe St. Jorge:

cafestjorge

Cafe St. Jorge:

stjorge2

And lastly, a few treats from Minako:

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Minako:

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Minako:

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Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Minako on Urbanspoon
Cafe St. Jorge on Urbanspoon

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A Few Favorite Gluten Free Products

I’ve been meaning to share some of my favorite gluten free products, but alas, life has been quite busy.

What I’ve included below is a snapshot and is by no means comprehensive!

First off, I’ve been raving to my friends and family about Brazi Bites, so it’s time I rave to all of you as well.

Brazi Bites Baked

I’ve made pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese buns) from scratch before and while it was a great success, it seemed like a lot of work. The great thing about Brazi Bites’ frozen pao de quiejos is that they are frozen! You can pull as many as you like out of the freezer and pop them into the oven for 20 minutes. When you make them from scratch, you have to bake the whole batch, so I very much appreciate how convenient and easy Brazi Bites are to enjoy. The disadvantage is that you might end up eating a few too many!

Brazi Bites Bite

Next is Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta. This pasta has been the most successful and really tastes like normal gluten-ful pasta. It doesn’t stick and get as gummy as the other dry gluten free pastas (Trader Joe’s GF pasta is the worst). They have many different varieties and just last week I made Thai peanut noodles with the linguine noodles!

quinoa pasta

I’m a pretty big fan of cookies and I’m happy that there are several great GF cookie options. Perhaps too many … I should eat less junk. Some of my favorites:

Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Cream

Tweasonale and glutino

Trader Joe’s GF Joe Joe’s

TJ's joe-joe's

Glutino GF lemon wafers

Glutino lemon wafers

and WOW Baking Co.’s Oregon Oatmeal Cookies (the Snickerdoodle one is great too!). As you can see, the WOW cookie bag is empty. I wonder why.

WOW cookie

On to beverages. Good GF beer seems to be the holy grail, and I have never been a beer connoisseur, so you’ll have to take this with a grain of salt!

My favorites are DogFish Head Tweason’ale

Tweason'ale

 New Planet Tread Lightly

New Planet Tread Lightly

 and RedBridge.

Redbridge_2

As for ciders, my list keeps growing and growing! After having way too much fun at the Seattle Cider Summit, I discovered awesome new ciders like Reverend Nat’s Hallelujah Hopricot, Alpenfire, Finn River Habanero Cider, Carlton Asian Pear, Sea Cider Bramble Berry, and the list goes on. And on. The sweetest (not my favorite aspect of ciders) and most accessible, is Spire Dark & Dry.

Dark and Dry

As I look at my list it seems quite unhealthy. But I’ll keep in mind that these are all packaged items, so I’ll be sure to take it easy!

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Tilth & Agrodolce

Maria Hines’ Seattle restaurants include Tilth, Agrodolce, and Golden Beetle. I have been lucky enough to try Tilth and Agrodolce. And hopefully the Golden Beetle is in my near future. Based on my experience with her other restaurants, I have high expectations both for the food and for the gluten free competency at Golden Beetle.

Tilth:

I have a weakness for old houses that have been converted into restaurants and bars. This factor, combined with all of its rave reviews and awards, made me excited to try Tilth in Wallingford! It has taken me several years to have enough in my wallet to get there, but I am happy to say that I have now managed to go to Tilth for brunch and for dinner.

I was somewhat underwhelmed with the gluten free brunch options. I resorted to the scrambled eggs each time, and they were good, but not excellent –or at least not excellent enough to justify the price. The most exciting part of the brunch was the homemade gluten free raisin bread which was outstanding.

The service at brunch has been friendly but not always knowledgeable. One brunch server told me the granola was a gluten free option. When I asked about the oats, she said that they were not ‘specifically gluten free’ but assured me that they were still safe … ahem. Not true. Normal oats: not safe for consumption.

Dinner at Tilth, however, was a completely different experience. It was excellent. I was impressed with the food, presentation, ambience, service, and most importantly, the plethora of gluten free options.

The server was very helpful with the menu and the kitchen was good about avoiding cross contamination.

And sitting outside didn’t hurt either! It’s such a fun and rare treat here in Seattle!

I recommend Tilth and hope I can go back for dinner again soon! We tried a chilled soup, halibut, pea risotto, and asparagus with smoked salmon.

 

Tilth Halibut:

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Tilth Risotto:

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Tilth Asparagus: 

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Agrodolce:

A friend recently brought our attention to Agrodolce in Fremont when they stumbled upon their gluten free menu(!). We were pleased to discover that Agrodolce is another Maria Hines restaurant. And, once again, she did not let us down. The food and the service were both just as good as Tilth.

If I was forced to decide, I would give the slightest edge to Tilth’s food for the cleaner, fresher flavors, but it’s a stylistic preference and it’s basically a toss up. I’d be thrilled if you bought me dinner at either one! And even though Agrodolce is not in a converted old house, they still did an impressive job with the space. Sitting inside still felt like the outdoors.

They had awesome gluten free pasta imported from Italy. I can’t help but wonder, though, why they don’t make their own? I’m sure the chefs would do an amazing job. We also tried a fig and arugula salad (really good), seared broccoli (really good), and st. jude’s albacore tuna (really great).

Agrodolce St. Jude’s Albacore Tuna:

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Agrodolce Broccoli:

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Tilth on Urbanspoon

Agrodolce on Urbanspoon

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Portage Bay Cafe

Portage Bay Cafe is an affordable, fun, and delicious brunch spot. They have 3 locations: South Lake Union, Ballard, and the University District. The University District Portage Bay is smaller and cozier than the Ballard location which has more of a warehouse-meets-cafeteria vibe. It is much brighter, though, and I actually prefer it to the University District location which always seems too out of control and hectic for my taste. If you are without a reservation on a weekend, be prepared to wait for a table at either location!

Atmosphere aside, all of my Portage Bay experiences have been positive. I have, however, learned that it is important to be very clear and diligent with the servers. On one occasion, my eggs arrived with a piece of (not gluten free) toast perched atop. And it is also worth noting that Portage Bay Cafe has a self-service “fruit bar” which comes with many of the brunch items. I have never tried it because of the likelihood of cross contamination (see ‘self-service’), but I hear it is a lot of fun!

The menu makes life very easy for people on a gluten free diet. They mark gluten free items very clearly and accurately. They even make their own gluten free bread for toast or french toast! I like the swedish pancakes so much, though, that I have a hard time ordering anything else. The swedish pancakes are rice & tapioca flour and come with lingonberries and lingonberry-butter, both of which are amazing.

Portage Bay Cafe’s Swedish Pancakes

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Portage Bay Cafe on Urbanspoon

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