Traditional Gazpacho (gluten free)

Twenty years ago this summer I lived in Madrid, Spain. While the actual event in and of itself is fairly significant, what’s even more so, for me, is that Spain was where I learned to cook and truly fell in love with cuisine. I was nineteen, and had come to Madrid from a small suburban Colorado town, where everyone knew each other. The kids in the apartment I was staying in were slightly younger than me and still in school. So for the first few weeks of my stay I was largely on my own during the day.

You can only imagine the shock and horror I experienced  my first day exploring the city when I was propositioned by someone my grandfather’s age! After a few episodes like this, and in an effort to avoid the constant cat calls that young women walking alone can receive in Latin countries, I did what any self-respecting teenaged girl did- I hid!

Enter Marisol the housekeeper. To this day I can still see Marisol’s short, wiry, frizzy, curly hair, cigarette tinged fingers, large round glasses and the light blue striped housecoat she wore when working at our apartment. Milagros, my mother for the duration of my stay, was a single parent, and Marisol helped keep the house working smoothly. She’d clean, hang the wash, prepare dinner, and while I was hiding out, sitting on a stool in the tiny galley kitchen, make me practice my spanish by recounting my previous day’s adventures and memorizing the dinner recipes. By the end of my stay I could make many of the traditional spanish dishes, all without measuring. I learned to taste and add seasonings along the way, I learned what spices worked together, and I learned that I loved to cook! Not bad for a girl who’d set the grilled-cheese sandwiches on fire a few months previously!

So Milagros, Marisol and all my dear friends from Madrid who I remember with love and fondness, this recipe’s for you: Gazpacho y Tortilla de Patata.

For ease of direction I have included measures for 4 people. Usually when I make this I make a lot more, and I confess I still don’t measure, I taste. But this will be a good starting off point for you, and then you can add or subtract flavors to your heart’s content. I have also included a chipotle mayonnaise recipe. I didn’t learn to make this in Spain, but it’s really tasty with the tortilla, so I included it. Lastly, and my apologies to Marisol who would probably be horrified that I do this, I did not call for peeling the tomatoes. When I learned to make this, I had to peel the tomatoes (no food processor). If you have a food processor, then there’s no need to peel the tomatoes. If you only have a wand mixer, then you’ll want to peel the tomatoes. It’s time consuming, but worth it. Also, if you can find them, try and use an acidic tomato, like a good beefsteak variety. The more acid types tend to impart better flavor to this dish. I always peel the cucumber, because the skin imparts a bitterness that I don’t care for. The amount of garlic you use is purely up to your taste. I toned the garlic down slightly for this recipe, usually I add more. The pique from the garlic is one of the key parts of this recipe. It’s not tomato soup- the garlic is very important. However, recognizing that raw garlic doesn’t sit well with many, I did tone it down slightly. So if you’re like me, bring on the extra cloves! Enjoy and feel free to post your own favorite food memories!

Gazpacho – Gluten Free

serves 6 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course

Ingredients

4 very ripe, medium sized tomatoes (about 2 cups)

1 medium cucumber (about 1 cup)

3 large garlic cloves (for this proportion I would use 4 or 5- it’s up to you)

1 small onion or 1/2 a medium onion (about 1/3-1/2 cup)

1 slice of bread (I prefer Udi’s Gluten Free) soaked in ice water

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs red wine vinegar

salt to taste

Directions.

Peel the cucumber, garlic (smashing it with the side of your knife then peeling skin away is easiest) and onion. Divide cucumber and onion into large chunks and place in the food processor. Add the peeled garlic and the tomatoes. Process for about 2 minutes. Gently squeeze the water from the bread and add to the food processor, along with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Process another 2 minutes or until soup is smooth and a little shiny. Depending on your taste you can add a little more olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt, and process for another 30 seconds.

Pour into a pitcher or mason jar and refrigerate, or serve immediately. Soup will keep a few days in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, give it a shake or a stir and pour into bowls.

* for a sea-food flare, add a large spoonful of lump crab that has been squirted with lemon to the center of your bowl.

Tortilla de Patata with chipotle mayonnaise  

Makes 8 2-inch slices

Ingredients

1 3/4-2 lbs potatos (wax or starch- whatever you have on hand)

1 large or 2 medium onions

2 tbs + 1/4 cup olive oil (if using stainless steel, you may need more)

2 tsp salt- more to taste

6-8 eggs

For Mayonnaise

1/3 cup mayonnaise

chipotle seasoning or powder to taste. (you will use less powder than seasoning- mix & serve)

Directions

A note about your cooking pan: The cooking pan you use is very important to the success of the tortilla. I learned how to make this using a large non-stick pan- about 10-12 inches wide. This is best because keeping the potatoes from sticking to the bottom is very important. Since I don’t use teflon, and I haven’t yet purchased a fancy enameled non-stick pan, I tend to use my cast-iron fryer. It’s not ideal- the sides are really to high- but I’ve managed to compensate. If you have stainless that you like, use it, but you will end up using more oil. I will include directions for the non-stick pans, as well as the short-cut I use with my cast-iron fryer.

 

Slice the potatoes and set aside. On medium, heat approximately 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of your pan. Add the potatoes, onion, and salt. Allow everything to cook down until the potatoes are thoroughly softened and can be broken with the edge of the spatula, about 20 minutes. Keep adding oil as you go so that the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan. (The potatoes will absorb oil as they cook, so you will need to add more as you go- it helps soften and flavor them) Taste for seasoning. The salt should enhance the flavor of the potatoes and onion, and depending on the variety of potatoes, you may want to use a little more salt. It’s entirely up to you. Mix the eggs in a separate bowl and set aside. The first time you do this use 6 eggs. It makes for a dryer tortilla and is slightly easier to flip. This is really a potato dish, not an egg dish. When the potatoes have softened, pour the egg mixture on top and smash the potatoes down with the back of your spatula. As the eggs cook, run your spatula along the side of the pan, loosening the mixture and allowing for more of the liquid to run off to the sides. Do this several times until the mixture begins to dry out, and the sides are looking cooked. The center will still be wet. At this point run the spatula along the sides and if possible, the bottom of the pan to help loosen the tortilla.

For non-stick pans: If you’re using a non-stick pan, give the pan a brisk shake to help disengage the tortilla from the sides and bottom. Grab a large plate and set it next to the stove. Very carefully, tip the pan up and encourage the tortilla to slide off the pan and onto the plate. Do Not move the tortilla if the bottom hasn’t set up- it will break. Next, put the palm of your hand underneath the plate, and with your other hand, turn the skillet upside down over the plate. Make sure the skillet is fully touching the plate. Very quickly, flip the whole thing over so that the plate is now on top and upside down. The tortilla should have flipped back into the pan. Give the pan a few more brisk shakes to help the tortilla settle, and cook for another 6-7 minutes, or until the egg is cooked all the way through. You can check this by placing a knife in the center of the tortilla and taking a peek. Once it’s cooked. Gently slide it back onto the plate and allow to cool. This dish is meant to be served chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with a little chipotle mayonnaise.

For cast-iron skillets or fryers: Once the bottom and sides of the tortilla have been cooked and loosened, turn the oven on to broil. Keep the oven rack at the second highest level- if it’s too high the dish will burn. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the top of the tortilla is nice and golden brown. Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the tortilla- eggs should be thoroughly cooked. Allow the pan to cool- the dish will shrink slightly, and this will help you remove the tortilla in once piece. With a flexible spatula loosen completely around the sides and bottom, and gently slide onto a plate. Serve at room temperature or chill. Garnish with chipotle mayonnaise.

When I lived in Spain, we would make bocadillos de tortilla (tortillas de patata on poorboy buns) and take them with us for lunch on our day trips. (yes, this was prior to the gf days) No mayonnaise needed. They keep very well in the heat and are very filling as a sandwich. We would use the spanish equivalent of bbq sauce with them this way. Delicious!


Two Fruit Smoothie Recipes

Life can sometimes take us to very unexpected places. And, if we’re willing, we can respond with a spirit of adventure and resilience. For those of us with food allergies, we know this territory well. In my mother-in-law’s case, emergency surgery, the removal of 90% of her stomach, and near death has forced her to make permanent changes to her diet, for the rest of her life. Instead of giving up and despairing, she has embraced this new chance at life whole-heartedly and with a spirit of true adventure. I am so proud of her! So, today- in honor of the spirit of adventure that birthed this country, and in honor of my mother-in-law I present to you two fruit smoothie recipes. I designed the first fruit smoothie recipe specifically for my mother-in-law who can now only eat in tiny amounts. The second fruit smoothie recipe was created by the youngest Kitchen Diva in Training.

Many people look to fruit smoothies as a quick way to get protein and fruit on the go. Many people also promote them for gut healing or for cleansing. I’m not really on the cleanse band wagon, but I do enjoy creative ways to get more fruit and protein into my diet. Keep in mind, smoothies can also be made with a combination of fruits and veggies- check out some of Boulder Locavore’s creative green smoothies for additional inspiration

These 2 smoothies were designed to be small. If  you need to make a bigger serving, just multiply the portions by 2 or 3. Whatever the size, you will find this to be cool and refreshing!

Smoothie 1:

 

Ingredients

2 tbs plain yogurt

2 tbs fruit of your choice- banana, peach, strawberry, blueberry, etc.

2 tbs of unsweetened almond milk, or nondairy milk of your choice

1/2 tsp lemon or orange juice

3-4 ice-cubes

Directions: Blend and enjoy

Smoothie 2: (invented by my youngest)

 

Ingredients

1/4 cup (4tbs) unsweetened almond milk or other non-dairy milk

1/4 cup frozen fruit- strawberry, banana, blueberry etc., slightly softened

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Directions: Blend and enjoy

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies- Carnivore Cookies- Aptly named by my dear husband, this fun cookie is sure to turn heads at your 4th of July Picnic. I was inspired in part by our family’s ‘special breakfast’ chocolate chip pancakes, and by Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar from Vosges chocolate. If you’ve never tried their adventuresome chocolate combinations, splurge on one the next time you’re at the store. Snobby and expensive, yes. Startlingly amazing, yes. But, if you’re a dark chocolate lover, the whole milk chocolate thing just doesn’t cut it. Not for my tastebuds anyway. We use dark chocolate chips in our pancakes, and the flavor combination got me thinking- a pancake’s a lot like a cookie, why not add the bacon and get the dark chocolate/bacon combination in a cookie? What the heck- it’s only batter right?

What I discovered was that if you fry the bacon super crispy, and use a thin, very meaty cut, it adds an almost rice-like crunch to the cookies. Plus the extra salt really compliments the chocolate. These cookies won’t be to everyone’s taste. And, if you’re taking them someplace, you should probably note that they’re not vegetarian. Bacon is not exactly an ingredient you go looking for in a cookie. But, if you love dark chocolate, and you love bacon, then I’m pretty sure you’ll gobble up a batch of these like there’s no tomorrow!

* As a postscript, when I researched the Vosges link, I noticed that they’ve just come out with a dark chocolate bacon bar. Someone at that company’s been thinking! I’ll be going out tomorrow to look for it, taking a bacon chocolate chip cookie with me, of course!

 

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie

makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients      

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs brought up to room temperature

1/2 cup Maple Syrup

1 cup sweet rice flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1/4 cup potato starch (not potato flour)

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup crispy bacon pieces (about 1 lb of bacon prior to cooking)

1 1/2 -2 cups chocolate chips

Directions

Cook bacon strips over medium-low heat until very crispy (the key to crispy but not burned bacon is the lower heat). Set aside on a towel to drain.

Preheat oven to 375. Remove butter and egg from refrigerator. In a non-mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients and set aside.

Place butter in basin of stand mixer, or in a bowl if you’re using a hand mixer. Add sugar.     Turn stand mixer to medium and cream for about 3 minutes- until butter and sugar are thoroughly mixed together and have the consistency of a creamy paste. (If you’re using a hand mixer this may take a little longer)

Add the vanilla and 1 egg. Continue mixing until egg has been absorbed. Add the second egg. Continue mixing until egg has been absorbed. At this point, if it’s a hot day, the batter may look a little lumpy/watery. If this is happening to you, add a little bit of the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Then, add maple syrup by slowly pouring into the batter while still mixing. Once maple syrup has been incorporated, add the dry ingredients a little at a time until thoroughly mixed. Add bacon and chocolate chips.

With a melon baller, or two spoons, place on a parchment covered cookie sheet and flatten gently. Cook for 11 minutes or until nicely browned. These cookies will be soft, not crispy.


Peach Tart and Deep Fried Chicken (gluten free)

Summer is finally here. Officially, that is. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course, it’s felt like it for weeks, but now that it’s official, I feel I can unabashedly enjoy all of my favorite summer fare. For me that entails much more finger food: fruits that I normally don’t enjoy in the winter like grapes, berries, melons, and of course peaches. Is your mouth watering yet? How about fresh fried chicken, brats on the grill, grilled veggies, corn on the cob and shish kebobs? I find I slow down too. Not in the hibernating, bury yourself in a comforter and hole up until the first light of spring way, but in the sitting on the back stoop, drinking a cool beer (gluten-free in my case), sipping a sangria or an iced-tea, not wanting to move until the fireflies have finished their nightly romp, kind of way. Of course, my children are there at the ready to remind me that they do indeed have to eat. So I spend my days multitasking; hopping from work at the kitchen table, to parenting in the living room, to stirring up something at the stove. Making my rounds so that I can enjoy the twilight, the fireflies, and the company of whomever has popped over.

Last weekend we indulged in one of our yearly summer rituals- a picnic blanket dinner at our local Shakespeare festival. And of course, since it’s a festival, it calls for festive fare. Try a gluten free peach tart and fried chicken with potato salad served up with a chilled not-sweet rosé. Ultimate picnic indeed.  Below you’ll find a lovely and quite simple recipe for a maple glazed peach tart- made gluten free by using the proper crust.- and quick instructions on how to make a delicious deep fried chicken. It’s really quite easy and will give the ole’ Colonel a run for his money. A gluten-free picnic fit for a king- Richard III that is.

Maple Glazed Peach Tart      

makes one 8-9 inch tart

Ingredients

Gluten Free or regular pie crust

4 ripe peaches

4 tbs granulated sugar

4-5 tbs maple syrup

2 tbs butter

Directions

Prepare pie crust and turn onto a tart pan, crimping the edges as you like. (A tart pan has straight sides, whereas a pie pan has sides that lean outward. If you don’t own a tart pan, you could use a cake pan and even the pie pan.)

Prebake shell at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Since my last post about this crust, I’ve found when pre-baking that I prefer to grease a large piece of parchment, placing the greased side against the pie crust, and then filling the pan with uncooked beans. This makes for less sticking and a crust with sides less prone to collapse.

Partially pull out oven rack, leaving the crust still in the oven. Gather the corners of the parchment together and remove paper and uncooked beans to a nearby bowl to cook. Prick bottom of crust with a fork, and if the top part of crust is browning too quickly, cover with a ring of aluminum or a pie-crust ringfound at your local cooking store. Return crust to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, re-pricking bottom if crust begins to balloon. Crust will be ready to remove when it begins to look a bit dry and paper-y.

Allow to cool for a minimum of 15 minutes before continuing. When crust has cooled (at least partially) sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the bottom of the crust. Then, working quickly, but safely, slice peach in half longitudinally, and remove the pit. Then slice into thin strips about 1/4 inch thick. These will inevitably vary in size. This is fine, we’re going for a ball-park here, not perfection. Begin to layer by placing one slice on the outside of the crust with one end touching the side. Place slices in a ring along the outside, just overlapping. Look at the picture if you need help visualizing this part. Keep halving and slicing peaches until you’ve completed the first outside ring. Pick a starting place for the center ring, doing the same thing, and working to keep the peach points as close to the center as possible. One helpful trick is to choose peaches that are of similar size. Placing the peach slices can be more challenging when the slices are vastly different lengths.  

When the crust is filled, brush 2-3 tbs of maple syrup over the peaches, allowing the syrup to get into the little nooks and crannies. Sprinkle remaining sugar over the top and dot with pea-sized slices of the butter. Place in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Peaches should still retain their color and the juices should be starting to bubble. Remove from oven and brush with remaining maple syrup. You may have syrup left in your measuring cup- that’s ok- use what you like. The glaze is to keep the tart looking pretty and to enhance the flavor of the peaches. Allow to cool thoroughly before enjoying. You could serve this with whipped cream or ice-cream. We were at a picnic and didn’t have that option and it tasted heavenly just by itself.

Deep Fried Chicken

serves as many as you like

Ingredients

2 pints-1/2 gallon buttermilk, depending on how much chicken you are frying.

4-8 cups of flour, we used 1/2 sorghum 1/2 corn flour

Louisiana hot sauce or worcester (optional)

Salt, pepper, and other seasonings we added jerk seasoning to our mix

2 lbs vegetable shortening

Directions  

Place chicken pieces in a bowl and thoroughly cover with buttermilk. For a little extra zest, mix in 2-4 tablespoons of hot sauce or other spices you enjoy.  Allow to soak anywhere from 1 hour to overnight. The buttermilk is a flavor enhancer as well as a meat tenderizer, so the longer the chicken soaks, the more tender the meat will be.

In a bowl place 2 cups of flour (1 cup of sorghum, 1 cup of corn flour or corn meal), salt and pepper to taste and any additional spices you enjoy. Do the pinky test to make sure the flavor is where you like it (lick your pinky, dip and lick again. Of course the more sanitary way is to do this with a spoon, but given you’ll be frying at 350 degrees, what goobies if any that are on your pinky will be killed at first contact with the oil.)Some people say it’s a waste of spices to flavor the flour and that you should season the meat directly. This is entirely up to you. Each way affords a slightly different flavor experience.

Set up a dredging/draining area by putting a cooling rack over a cookie sheet next to the dredging bowl, and on the other side of your deep fry pan, placing an additional cooling rack over a cookie sheet. Once you’ve dredged the meat should rest about 2 minutes before going into the hot grease. This helps the coating to adhere more tightly to the meat. Only when you’re ready to go, place the shortening in a deep sided fryer- I use my trusty Deep Sided Cast Iron Fryer for this- and turn the heat on to medium-high. To ensure even cooking, keep a candy or meat thermometer in the oil at all times.

While the oil is melting remove a piece of chicken from the buttermilk, give it a good shake, and then dredge in the flour, thoroughly covering the whole piece of meat. Give another good shake and place on the cooling rack next to the dredging flour. Repeat this with 2-3 more pieces. Your oil should now be nearing 350 degrees. Once it hits that temperature, with tongs (to protect your hands) gently place pieces in the hot oil, towards the side of the pan. Do not cook more than 3-4 pieces at once. You should see the oil temperature drop on your thermometer, and over the next several minutes climb back up. Note: Don’t let the temperature get above 365-370. The oil begins to break down and the food can lose its flavor. After about 5-6 minutes flip your meat and allow to cook on the other side. This is really an eyeball thing- after a few rounds you’ll get to where you can judge if a piece is done. If you’re not sure, use the meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of your chicken is around 175. Breasts and smaller pieces will cook faster than larger, thicker, or bone-in pieces. Thighs and legs need to be cooked for a longer time, and the heat of the oil will have to be closely monitored so the outside doesn’t burn. You may have to turn down your heat here, or add additional meat to regulate the temperature of the oil.

When the meat has finished cooking, remove to the second cooling rack. If you’re storing for a picnic, once the meat has cooled, you can wrap each piece in a paper towel and place in a paper bag in the refrigerator. This will keep the crust happy and your meat delicious.

 

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Crisp Topping (gluten free)

A crisp? A pie? A crispie? “The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play..” So begins the first line of The Cat in the Hat. And, as I lay in bed this morning listening to yet another round of thunder and pouring rain, I knew that no yard work would be accomplished today. The weeds and the grass would be left to grow another six inches while I daydreamed of strawberries and rhubarb, and remembered that it was my grandfather’s favorite pie. I’ve been working on a strawberry rhubarb crisp lately, but haven’t gotten it quite where I wanted it. So I lay there contemplating the possibility of a pie with a crisp topping. Sometimes apple pies have streusel topping, would it work for a strawberry-rhubarb pie? Why not?

If you’re baking a shell prior to filling it: Preheat the oven to 375. Take a second pie plate and grease the outside. Place the greased pie plate on top of the crust and cook for 20 minutes. This will keep the crust from collapsing. Remove from the oven and gently remove the greased pie plate. Your crust is now ready for filling. If you need to keep cooking the bottom of the crust, you may prick the bottom part of the crust with a fork, and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Alternately, if you have pie crust balls, or marbles, you may use those in lieu of a second greased pie plate.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m feeling my way through this whole gluten free baking world. To be honest, I’m much more comfortable just throwing a bunch of ingredients together, tasting, adding a bit of this, a pinch of that, and calling it delicious. The act of writing down what I cook and how has been great discipline. It’s also had me scrambling for scraps of paper as I hit on something worth posting. My children’s pictures on the refrigerator now have competition in the form of slips of paper with hastily scrawled ingredient lists and bare-bones instructions.

As for the baking; I’ve reluctantly ventured into this land of exact measuring and scientific experiments because I want my children to experience the pleasures of school birthdays and other community gatherings without feeling completely strange or left out. I was an allergic child and remember keenly the feelings of isolation and loneliness that accompanied not being able to eat the same food as everyone else. So, for the love of my children I go where I never dared before- the gluten free baking aisle.

It’s not without its pitfalls mind you; too much of one ingredient, not enough of something else is a recipe for disaster- a lead-like clump of half-cooked goo.

My friend Maria will tell you about one such disaster. She is an especially talented pastry cook. Her creations are beautiful, artistic, and my husband tells me they taste heavenly too. Feeling cocky and confident after the holidays last winter, I invited her over for a gluten free baking experience. That’s exactly what it was- an experience. We followed the chosen recipe to the letter and got heavy, tasteless, colorless cardboard. A step above goo. Now, the girls had the time of their lives cooking with us, but the experience for me was humbling and it left Maria questioning why anyone bothers with gluten free anything. I bother because it’s less expensive than purchasing pre-made goods, and because there’s something deeply satisfying about making food so delicious that people smile and sigh when they taste it. Gluten free cooking at its best should give everyone that response, even if they can eat gluten.

My daughter is headed off on an overnight school trip, and like many places, the camp she’s going to won’t accommodate gluten allergies. So today I dug deep and came up with these lovelies that earned the seal of approval from both her teachers- one of whom is a former pastry chef, neither of whom live gluten free. That smile and sigh? It’s worth all the kitchen disasters to see someone enjoy a chocolate chip cookie like that.

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Gluten Free Tortillas

Gluten-Free Tortillas: Heaven on a plate

Of the foods I have missed most on this ‘no wheat flour’ journey, a good stretchy tortilla has been close to the top. And a good gluten free tortilla has been hard- no, impossible- to find in the stores.

I grew up on a steady diet of tortillas. Breakfast burritos, bean burritos, quesadillas, the pot-luck favorite- tortillas with cream cheese and green chile, rolled up and sliced thin. You name it- if it was served up with a tortilla, I have probably consumed it. That is, before I knew they were making me sick. I try not to dwell on what I don’t have, because there really is so much delicious stuff I can eat, but periodically I catch myself pining away for a tortilla.

There used to be this great burrito stand just off the University of Washington campus in Seattle,  where I went to college. If you’re from there, you may remember it just off the corner of 45th and “The Ave.” It was just a walk-up window and for five dollars you could get a burrito so big that half of it was the next meal. They had the hugest, stretchiest tortillas I’d ever seen. You could see someone making them in the back practically throwing the dough like pizza crust.

After college, I even worked as an office manager in a tortilla factory. That was fascinating until I noticed they were sharing warehouse space with a chop shop and the welding tools were sparking molten stuff into the lye basin for the corn tortillas. But that’s another story. Needless to say, I didn’t last much longer there.

Then of course, there were the New Mexico years. I spent a lot of time in New Mexico as a child, and grew up on that unique blend of Spanish, Mexican and Native American cuisine that you can find only in New Mexico. I also lived there for three years, consuming massive amounts of green chile, and looking longingly at the flour tortillas. By this time I knew they were a no-no, and made do with corn tortillas. “They’re writing songs of love, but not for me” goes the old Gershwin song. My swan song for a tortilla.

The problem with gluten-free tortillas is that they break. It is impossible to roll them. Even the little corn ones will break. I have tried a few nameless brands of tortillas and they either A) taste funny, B) break, or C) both. This morning was no exception, which leads me to the reason for today’s post.

We make “Special Breakfast” most weekends and occasionally, even on school days. And, now that the girls are getting bigger, they even cook parts of it. But, even “Special Breakfast” loses its luster when it’s some variation of pancakes. Don’t get me wrong- I love pancakes, and I have a great pancake mix (see the “What’s In My Pantry Page). Of course we’re very creative with what goes in the mix, but sometimes you just want….a breakfast burrito, or carne adovada smothered in red sauce, in….a tortilla. And these store bought ones don’t cut it. Not even close.

On a whim yesterday at the store, I grabbed a package of gluten-free tortillas with a slightly different ingredient list, thinking I’d give it one more shot. I got up early today, sliced an onion, threw in a couple of left over buffalo bratwurst and some green chile, tossed the gluten-free, organic tater-tots in the oven, and started scrambling eggs. I even went so far as to wrap the tortillas in aluminum and warm them in the oven. Excitedly, I pulled them out, spread them on a plate and started piling breakfast goodness in the center. I started to roll……crack. Maybe it was because I wasn’t gentle enough and didn’t pull the tortilla tightly enough around the filling. Maybe just maybe it was an accident….

It wasn’t. I wrapped them as best I could and gave them to the girls instructing them to hold on tightly. My youngest promptly spit it out and opened up the tortilla to get to the good stuff. Not a good sign. My oldest was holding hers in her hands and it split apart spilling eggs and melted cheese all over the kitchen floor and triggering a bout of tears and wailing. Determined, I clutched mine in two hands and bit in. Blech. That’s all I could think. It was dry, funny tasting, and not at all what I wanted out of my tortilla. Sighing, I placed it down on the plate and commenced helping my daughter sweep egg off the floor. My hopes of reliving breakfast burrito nirvana were dashed.

That is, until I remembered I am an adventurous cook! Tortillas are just flour and water and lard. That couldn’t be too hard to reproduce effectively should it? The challenge, of course would be the proper flour combination, and making sure there is adequate binder to replace the gluten. Well, Shazam! folks! I did it. And tonight, taste-tested and agreed upon by both girls and one really great husband, we enjoyed a second round of burritos, properly. The tortillas were stretchy, slightly chewy and tasted just like a tortilla should. I’m so excited I think I’ll be eating breakfast burritos for a week. Keep in mind, as these have no preservatives, they are best eaten the day you make them. If you have to store them, do so in a gallon freezer bag to keep them from drying out.

May all your Tortilla fantasies come true!

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Gluten-Free Tortillas

makes 6-8 tortillas

Ingredients                    

3/4 cup sweet rice flour

3/4 cup tapioca starch

1/2 cup sorghum flour

2 tsp honey

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp salt

3/4-1 cup warm water

cornstarch for flouring board and rolling pin

Directions

Thoroughly mix dry ingredients. Add honey to warm water, and stir until dissolved. Make  a hole in the center of the dry mix. Pour in the water and stir in the dry ingredients from the outside edge. When mixture becomes too thick to stir, continue mixing using your hands.

Sprinkle cornstarch on a large piece of parchment paper as well as the rolling pin. Separate dough into 6-8 even balls (6 for an 8-10” tortilla, 8 for a smaller tortilla). Flatten one ball with your hand and roll out to about an 1/8th inch thickness, thinner if possible. Add more corn starch to the parchment or rolling pin if  your dough begins to stick. Turn onto a lightly greased hot pan- I use my cast iron skillet. Cook for 30-45 seconds, flip and cook another 30 seconds. Remove from burner, and stack on a plate, covering with a towel.