Sunday, May 20, 2007

GFCF Strawberry Cheesecake

I was making a cheesecake for work today and decided to experiment and see if I could make a gfcf one for home as well. I made it exactly like the one I made for work except I used the Toffutti fake cream cheese in place of the cream cheese and made it strawberries instead of blueberry. The gfcf one was a little thinner when I poured it in the pan, but they cooked up the same and it tasted great.

For the crust, I took some gfcf crackers, gorilla munch cereal and enjoy life cereal (a granola type) and put them in the food processor and ground them up fine and then mixed with some melted gfcf margarine. I pressed them in the bottom of a springform pan and baked for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Beat 2 packages (8 oz) Toffutti Better than Cream Cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Pour on top of crust. Crush some fresh strawberries (about a half cup crushed) and put on top and then swirl into the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until set in the center. Turn oven off and allow to cool. Chill before eating.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Making Gluten Free Bread Crumbs

Gluten Free Bread Crumbs can be very expensive - just like everything else gf! I throw the ends and weird cut slices of bread in the freezer. When I accumulate a lot (or run out of bread crumbs and need some) - I thaw them and make bread crumbs.

I took the bread slices out of the freezer yesterday morning before work and left them sitting out all day in a roasting pan.

When I got home from work last night, I cut the bread into cubes and put in the oven at 250 degrees - the amount of time in the oven will vary according to the moisture content of your bread. You want to make sure that the bread crumbs are nice and dry when done - but don't burn them! I left mine in the oven about 2 hours and they were still a little moist - so I turned the oven off (it was still hot) and left them in over night. This morning they were perfect.

Put the dry bread crumbs in a food processor or blender - make sure they have cooled down before doing this step.

Process until they are fine bread crumbs. Store in a glass jar. They should keep for many months.

I use these to coat chicken and in meat loaf and meat balls.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

There's a new gluten free bakery in town

I had heard rumors for several months now that there was a new gluten free bakery in St. Paul and that their products were really yummy. No one seemed to know the name or where it was at. I tried googling gluten free and St. Paul a few times but only came up with Bittersweet Bakery, which I already use and love. But finally last week, my googling paid off and I found the new bakery:

Today after swimming, we ventured out to visit Cooqi and see if they are as good as Bittersweet. Their hours are more friendly for us - a two parent working family. They are open every Saturday until 4 and Wednesday through Friday until 6. It was easy enough to find at the corner of Marshall and Cretin. It is a very attractive shop and very kid friendly. My son was immediately drawn to the play kitchen and started making pretend muffins and cakes while we waited our turn. The products were very beautifully displayed and prices were marked on a chalk board that is so common in cafes. The gal that waited on us was very pleasant and friendly.

They had a tables to sit at and eat and they sold coffee as well. It was kind of a coffee shop and bakery combination.

The list of ingredients were not printed out or listed where you could see them and the employee behind the counter didn't seem to know her ingredients very well. When I enquired if the products we were buying were dairy free as well as gluten free, she seemed to think that eggs were dairy. When I corrected her, she stated she knew they weren't but some people think they are - well, I don't care what some people think - eggs are not dairy - I wasn't asking if they were vegetarian. Luckily Andy is not super sensitive to dairy in baking so I'm not worried about a reaction - but they really should have the ingredients listed or a more knowledegable staff. If you don't know what dairy is and isn't, how can you answer questions about what is in the proucts?

They had a better selection of breads than Bittersweet - a white sandwich bread, a whole grain bread with and without seeds and focacia bread. The bar, cupcake and cookie selection seemed about the same as Bittersweet. We purchased one loaf of sandwich bread, 2 brownies and 1 cupcake and left $15.98 poorer.

The brownies were super yummy - much better than the ones at Bittersweet and on a par with the ones I make myself. The brownies were $2.50 each compared to $2.00 for a brownie at Bittersweet. The cupcake was fine - about the same as the ones at Bittersweet - but much more expensive ($2.50 vs. $1.20 at Bittersweet). The bread was not as tall as what we purchase at Bittersweet - we had a loaf at home to compare it to. The bread from bittersweet is 3.5 inches tall and Cooqi's is 2.5 inches. It had a better texture to it - you could actually eat it without toasting it without it crumbling apart. The flavor was good. I like Bittersweet's better, Dan thought it was a toss up and Andy liked Cooqi's better. It tastes a lot like the bread I used to make from the Bob's Red Mill Mix. But at $7.95 a loaf, it is $1.20 more than Bittersweet's bread. They did have lots of bread available and you did not have to pre-order it like you do at Bittersweet. They also gave you the option of buying the bread frozen for 50 cents cheaper.

The conclusion for us is that we will probably continue to give Bittersweet most of our bakery business. I make good bars and cookies so for us, the bread is the deciding choice and Cooqi's bread is smaller and more expensive. However, if we want focasia style or can't get to Bittersweet or a store that carries Bittersweet's products, we will go to Cooqi. For those of you who live in St. Paul and not between the two bakeries like we do, Cooqi is a great choice.

It is exciting to live in an area where we have more than one gluten free bakery to choose from. Next week I am going to venture over to Minneapolis to check out Madwoman Foods' bakery. Andy loves their pizza, so I really need to check out their other products - even if they are not as conviently located.

Cooqi - if you are reading this - list the ingredients and price list on your website and print out the ingredients on fliers that patrons can take with them. You have a beautiful shop and I hope you thrive. We need all the gluten free businesses we can get.