Posts Tagged ‘gluten-free’

I know, you’re saying you can just buy gluten-free bread crumbs. Like this stuff here…

The problem with this is that it’s all rice, made into little nuggets that’ll crack your tooth. Oh, and they taste bad, too. I never bought pre-made regular bread crumbs, so when I had to start cooking gluten-free for my wife, I wanted something better than stale breadcrumbs from a can.

I buy loaves of Udi’s Gluten-Free Whole Grain Bread and keep them in the freezer. When I need breadcrumbs, I take some of the bread out of the package and toast it in my toaster oven until golden brown. I crumble the bread into my food processor, and whizz it around until I’ve got the breadcrumb consistency I like. That’s it.

One taste of these breadcrumbs–that come from actual bread–and you’ll never go back.

If I want Italian flavored breadcrumbs, I mix them with parsley, oregano, basil, granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt and pepper. I also add a small amount of all-purpose flour (Cup4Cup GF flour) to lighten up the mix.

I use these GF breadcrumbs on everything: to coat chicken before frying for chicken parmigiana, to coat pork chops before roasting in the oven, to use in stuffed clams–anywhere I would use normal breadcrumbs. And I have to say, no one can tell the difference.

April 7 is National Beer Day!

Now, I’m not a big beer drinker, but I do like to cook with it. One of my favorite things in the world is beer-battered fish. And it doesn’t have to be greasy if you do it right. (Scroll down to the bottom to see how to make this gluten-free!)

When you fry at home, you can do things the right way: start with clean oil, heat it to the right temperature, and then throw it out when it’s done. When you go to a fast-food place, that oil has been sitting there all day (if not all week)…it’s been used hundreds of times…it absorbs the flavors of whatever was fried before your food got dropped in there…and quite frankly, it’s beat up.

What got me started with this whole beer-batter-at-home process was stumbling upon some amazing fresh local cod at my neighborhood seafood store: Bridgeport Seafood in Tiverton, Rhode Island. My buddy, Dave, said that the cod came from just off Sakonnet Point that day. Good enough for me!

I use vegetable oil and, using a thermometer, heat it to 350 degrees. I always watch the temp of my oil…it can get too hot very quickly…and by the same token, the temp can drop quickly if I throw in a whole bunch of fish into the pot all at once. Using one of those deep fryers made for home use is also a good way of cooking and controlling temperature. I’m careful not to put too much oil in my pot (halfway up is fine) or it could spill over, since oil expands as it gets hotter.

Here’s all you need for great beer batter:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
12 oz. bottle of beer (Sam Adams Boston Lager works for me)
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 3 hours.

Cut your fish into pieces that aren’t too big and will fit in your pot easily. The thickness of the fish may vary and so may the cooking times of each piece. When the oil reaches 350, simply dip the fish into the batter and let as much batter drip off as you like before you carefully place the fish into the oil. Fry until golden brown.

 

beer batter

 

What good is fried fish without tartare sauce, right? Don’t tell me you’re using the stuff in a jar after frying the fish yourself!

1/2 cup mayo
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Frank’s Red Hot cayenne sauce
Grinding of black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped capers
1 teaspoon lemon zest, using micro plane zester

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate for an hour before using.

 

To make beer-batter gluten-free, simply substitute GF flour for the all-purpose flour. (I like Cup4Cup.) And now, you can get gluten-free beer that tastes pretty damn good. Use it instead of regular beer, and you’ve got a beer batter that’s gluten-free!

When I can’t get to Chinatown in Boston or New York, I cook my version of a recipe I discovered many years ago in “The Chinese Cookbook,” a wonderful source of information by former NY Times food critic Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee. Whenever possible, I use a whole pasture-raised chicken.

This recipe can be made gluten-free by using GF hoisin and soy sauce, available in most supermarkets.

 

Cantonese chicken

 

1 whole chicken, about 6 lbs., or 2 smaller chickens (pictured)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

 

Remove all the giblets from chicken. Rub the soy sauce all over the chicken. Then rub the peanut oil all over the chicken.

Combine the Chinese five spice, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Season the entire chicken, including inside the cavity, with this mixture.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the chicken in a pan lined with aluminum foil (cleanup will be easier) and bake.

Meanwhile, combine the hoisin sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl. When the chicken is about 15 minutes away from being done, brush it with the hoisin/sesame oil mixture. Cook it another 15 minutes until the chicken has a nice dark glaze. Don’t let it burn!

Let it rest about 15 minutes before carving.

 

I think half my childhood was spent in the kitchen, watching my Mom and grandmother make koldūnai (kohl-DOO-nayh), the Lithuanian version of a pierogi, by hand at lightning speed. Some Lithuanian cooks make the dough, roll it out into a large flat sheet with a rolling-pin, then cut circles out with a glass or a cookie cutter. But my Mom and grandmother used a different method: they’d roll the dough into a log, cut it into 1″ pieces, and then twirl each piece in their hands to make a flat pancake that they would then fill with a spoonful of meat or mushrooms. It blew my mind that they could crank out over a hundred of these perfectly shaped dumplings in no time, placing them on a sheet pan and freezing them until it was time to cook.

One of the main reasons koldūnai beat pierogis every time is the filling. My Mom would mix ground beef with chopped onions sautéed in butter, a couple of eggs, and milk crackers soaked in milk. She’d add salt and pepper, then take a spoonful of the raw meat mixture and plop it in my mouth. “Enough salt?” she’d ask. I loved the taste of the raw beef like that…probably why I always order beef tartare when I see it on a restaurant menu.

The mushroom filling was usually reserved for special holidays like Christmas and Easter. Italy may lay claim to the porcini, but the fact of the matter is, Lithuania is porcini heaven. They’re called baravykai (buh-ruh-VEE-kayh), and when they’re dried and reconstituted, their incredible flavor is so intense, you don’t need many of them to flavor a large amount of cheaper button mushrooms. We’d get our dried boletes from relatives in Lithuania every year…the real deal. (They’d even have a radiation-free certification sticker on the bag, thanks to Chernobyl!) Mom would place a handful of the dried mushrooms in some boiling water and they would rehydrate, nice and plump, and could then easily be chopped and added to the other mushrooms. She’d pour the mushroom liquid into the pan as well, not wasting a bit of that magical porcini flavor. The mushrooms were simply sautéed in butter, cooled, then used to fill the koldūnai.

Basic Polish pierogi fillings include sauerkraut or potatoes with cheese. There’s no question the Lithuanians got this round.

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It was time to try my hand at making koldūnai. As I recall, my Mom simply mixed water with flour to make the dough, kneaded it into a log, and off she went. My challenge was a bit more daunting: I needed to make them gluten-free as well. My sister, whose family lives the GF lifestyle, told me that they simply exchange all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour and it works fine. I had my doubts and first tried a recipe I found online that used a slurry of cottage cheese, eggs, and milk with the flour, but I found that it was overkill. The dough was very sticky and hard to work with. So I tried the simple recipe of water and flour (a half-cup of water for every cup of gluten-free flour) and it worked well.

Wearing disposable nitryl gloves was a stroke of genius. Not only were my hands protected from the sticky dough, it seemed that the dough didn’t stick to the gloves. I poured a cup of GF flour into a stainless steel bowl, added a half-cup of water to it, and mixed it around with my hands until it formed a ball of dough that pulled away from the sides of the bowl cleanly. (Sometimes a little more water or flour would be needed.)

I dusted a board with more flour, and moved the flour from the bowl onto the board. I kneaded it into a long log, about a foot long and 1 1/2″ thick. I cut it into 12 equal pieces, about 1″ wide.

Taking one cut piece, and using my thumbs, I twirled the dough around, flattening it into a small pancake, the way I remember my Mom and grandmother used to do it.  I placed a teaspoon of filling in the center of the pancake, then folded one side over so that it met the edges of the other side. I pressed with my fingers to make the two halves stick together and formed a seal.

 

The beef filling. I decided to wear gloves soon after this photo.

The beef filling. I decided to wear gloves soon after this photo.

The biggest challenges I had with making koldūnai was my own clumsiness and lack of experience. But once I got the hang of it, things moved along steadily, and it didn’t take long for me to make a couple of dozen. I placed them on a sheet pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil (you can also use parchment paper) and placed them in the freezer to harden. Once hard, they go in freezer bags until ready to boil.

I made 3 types of koldūnai: mushroom, beef, and mac-and-cheese (by my daughter’s request.)

koldunai

The mushroom filling was nothing more than chopped button mushrooms combined with chopped porcinis that had been rehydrated, all sautéed in butter. The mac-and-cheese filling was a gluten-free mac-and-cheese dinner out of a box.

gf-mac

For the beef filling…

1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 pat of butter
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten-free)
1/4 cup milk

 

To make the breadcrumbs, I took a couple of slices of whole grain gluten-free bread and toasted them. Then I ground them up in a blender or food processor. The taste is far better than store-bought GF breadcrumbs, which usually are rock-hard rice nuggets.

I finely chopped the onion and sautéed it in a little butter until translucent. I let it cool, then added it to 1 lb. of thawed ground beef. I added the egg, the breadcrumbs, and the milk. I seasoned it with salt and pepper, and I mixed everything thoroughly, keeping the meat mixture in the fridge until I needed it.

 

Two pots of boiling salted water: one for the meat-filled koldūnai, and one for the mac-and-cheese filled koldūnai.

Two pots of boiling salted water: one for the meat-filled koldūnai, and one for the mac-and-cheese filled koldūnai.

No Lithuanian koldūnas recipe is complete without spirgučiai…

1 lb. bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped

In a large pan, fry the chopped bacon until it’s almost crisp. I don’t drain the fat, but you can if you’re a wuss. Add the chopped onions and cook until they are soft. Set aside. These are called spirgučiai, (spir-guh-chay) and they are sprinkled on top of the finished koldūnai, just before serving. (My Mom always kept a stash of spirgučiai in a container in the fridge, and sprinkled them on anything and everything.)

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Once you’ve made the koldūnai, it’s up to you if you want to cook them right away or freeze them for later. Either way, when you’re ready, get a large pot of salted water boiling. Salt, just like when boiling pasta, is essential in giving the dough flavor.) Drop the koldūnai in gently, being careful not to overcrowd them. If the dough is thin, they will be ready when they float up to the surface. A thicker dough will need longer cooking. The best way to know if they’re done is by taking one out, cutting it open and having a look (and a taste!)

You can serve them straight out of the boiling water, but dropping them in a pan with a little butter to lightly sauté them a bit before serving is really the way to go.

When plating, sprinkle generously with spirgučiai, and serve with sour cream.

Enjoying each variety of koldūnai on a cold winter's night with friends.

Enjoying each variety of koldūnai on a cold winter’s night with friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For years, I’ve made a simple fritter recipe using mussels that everybody raved about. But when the dietary needs of our family changed, and we had to start a gluten-free lifestyle, it seemed that fritters would have to be taken off the menu. I had nothing to lose by trying GF alternatives, and I was shocked at how delicious they were: crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.

Here in Rhode Island, fresh mussels are everywhere. But if you live in an area where they’re not easily found, frozen mussel meats are sometimes available in better seafood stores. Just make sure they come from the USA…I saw one package that had farm-grown Chilean mussels that were packed in Thailand. That’s about as nasty as it gets.

My original recipe calls for fritter flour, which you can usually find in any supermarket. If you’re using that, you can skip the baking powder. I added the baking powder to give a little lightness to the dough. My favorite beer for this recipe is Sam Adams Boston Lager, but again, I had to go gluten-free.

If you don’t have to worry about gluten, just use the regular versions of the ingredients.

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1 cup water
1 lb. fresh mussels
1 cup gluten-free flour (I use Cup4Cup)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup gluten-free beer
oil, for frying (I use a combination of avocado and olive oils)
sea salt (I like Fleur de Sel)

Place the cup of water in a large pot and add a steamer basket. Pour in the mussels, turn the heat on high, and place a lid on top. Steam the mussels just until they open. Throw away any mussels that don’t open.

Remove the meats from the shells and chop them into very small pieces. Reserve about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the steam water, which now has some mussel flavor. Try to avoid any grit. Let the mussels and broth cool a bit until they’re warm.

In a large bowl, add the flour, the baking powder, the mussels and the broth. Add the beer little by little as you stir gently. As soon as the dough is sticky and mixed, stop! Don’t over-mix. Let it rest about 15 minutes.

fritter1

Heat the oil in a pan to 340. Working in small batches, drop 2″ blobs of dough into the oil, turning once when they are golden. Remove them from the oil when they’re done, placing them on paper towels, and sprinkling them immediately with salt.

You can enjoy them as is, or you can make a quick dipping sauce using mayonnaise and Ponzu sauce. I haven’t found a gluten-free Ponzu yet, so I combine mayo with GF soy sauce, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

fritter2

 

The latest rage in food is finding new uses for cauliflower. Personally, I love the taste of it so I don’t really need alternatives. But my wife’s on a gluten-free diet, I need to reduce my carbs, and we both love pizza. It seemed that maybe a cauliflower crust could be the answer.

The key to the crispiest crust possible is to make sure you bake it thoroughly before you put the toppings on.  Even if the crust comes out a bit soggy, all is not lost. Just grab a knife and fork… It’ll still taste pretty darn good.

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2 cups riced, then cooked cauliflower
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
mozzarella cheese
tomato sauce
additional pizza toppings of your choice

 

Cut the cauliflower florets into chunks and toss them in a food processor. Pulse until you get the consistency of rice. Don’t over-process, or you’ll get mush.

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Microwave the riced cauliflower in a bowl for about 6 minutes on high. No need to add water. Depending on the amount of liquid in your cauliflower, you may need to transfer it to a fine mesh strainer to let it drain. Once it has drained, transfer it to a clean dish towel and wrap the sides around the cauliflower, gently pressing out the excess water. You want to get it as dry as possible. Dry = crispier crust. But be careful…let the nuked cauliflower cool first or you could burn your hands!

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. (I like to use my large toaster oven, with the convection feature turned off.)

In a large bowl, use 2 cups of the cauliflower. (Depending on the size of the cauliflower head, you may have a little left over.) Add the parmesan cheese, the eggs, garlic salt, oregano and parsley. Mix well until it forms a sort of ball of “dough.”

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Grease a 9″ stainless pizza pan with olive oil. (Lining it with non-stick foil first is an option.) Take your ball of “dough” and press it evenly into the pan, making sure you don’t get it too thin, or you’ll get holes.

Bake the “dough” in the oven for 20–25 minutes, until it looks brown and crispy and is fully cooked. You don’t want it to be soft or soggy.

Remove the pizza from the oven, and add the tomato sauce, cheese, and whatever other toppings you like. (I used some pre-cooked chicken sausage and a sprinkling of oregano.)

Return the pizza to the oven, only this time place it under the broiler, and cook until the toppings have browned and the cheese has melted. Keep an eye on it…be careful not to burn it!

 

These tasty, crispy wings get fried just enough to brown, then get finished in an oven. The result is crispy, salty chicken wings that will be devoured in no time. Your only regret will be that you didn’t make enough! My gluten-free version tastes just as good as the original…you’ll never know the difference!

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3 lbs. chicken wings
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons hot sauce (I use Frank’s)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (I toast Udi’s gluten-free bread til dry and crisp, then put it in a processor)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (I use Cup4Cup GF flour)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon paprika
oil for frying (I use a combination of lard and olive oil)

 

Pour the milk into a bowl and add the hot sauce. Mix well, then add the chicken pieces and toss to coat well. Let the chicken sit in the milk at room temp for an hour. (I’ve found that whole milk–or even 1/2 & 1/2–works better than thinner, low-fat milk. It sticks to the chicken better.)

In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs, flour, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, garlic, onion and paprika.

Heat the oil in a pan until it reaches 350 degrees.

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One by one, carefully move the chicken from the milk mixture to the seasoning bowl and coat well with the seasonings, shaking off any excess. Gently place the wings in the oil and fry until both sides are golden, just a few minutes.  (You’re not cooking the chicken, just making the skin crispy.) Place the fried chicken wings on a metal screen raised above a sheet pan lined with foil or parchment.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, and when all the chicken has been fried and put on the sheet pan, place the pan in the oven and finish cooking, about 30 minutes.

 

I always thought that spaghetti squash was a sort of “gimmick” vegetable. But once I roasted it, I realized just how delicious it could be. And I hit the “squash lottery” the other day, when my friend, Karen, stopped by with a bunch of beautiful spaghetti squash straight from her and her husband, Bill’s, garden. It was time to cook!

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Cooking them is easy. I wash them, cut them in half, and remove the seeds and membrane stuff with a spoon. I flip them onto their backs, skin side down, and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on them. A little sea salt and pepper, and then I flip them back down, skin side up, on a sheet pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30–40 minutes. When they’re soft to the touch, I remove the sheet pan from the oven, flip them back over again, and let them cool to room temperature. Then I simply scrape out the flesh with a fork, and it comes out in strands, like spaghetti.

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While the squash roasts in the oven, I make the meatballs…

 

1 lb. ground grass-fed beef
1 lb. pastured ground veal (substitute ground beef if you can’t get this)
1 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten-free)
2 eggs, cracked and scrambled
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and form into meatballs. Place them in a hot pan with 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Cook until the meatballs are browned on all sides.

 

 

 

And you need homemade sauce…

2 cans (28 oz.) of tomatoes, pureed
olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

In a large pot, saute the onions in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook at medium heat until the foam disappears.

Add all the herbs and spices and mix well. Continue cooking on medium heat, lowering to a simmer if the sauce seems to be boiling too hard.

Add the meatballs to the sauce when the meatballs have been browned on all sides. Pour the entire contents of the meatball pan, including the olive oil and fat, into the tomato sauce pot.

Make sure all the meatballs are covered with the sauce. Place a lid on the pot, and simmer for at least an hour, until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.

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Scrape the spaghetti squash with a spoon and place a mound of it in the center of the serving dish. Top it with the meatballs and sauce. Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top, or do what I did this time, and cut a slab of mozzarella di bufala into small cubes and toss on top. A little sprinkle of oregano and olive oil for good measure on top.

 

This was a hit when  I brought them to a recent neighborhood party. Imagine the best of a deviled egg and a BBQ chicken sandwich, and you’ve got this appetizer that rocks in more ways than one. This is a great app you can make ahead of time: I boil the eggs and make the cole slaw the day before, then keep them in the fridge. Even the chicken can be cooked the day before and then warmed through before assembling right before your guests arrive.

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For the chicken:
3 cups ketchup (I use Heinz organic)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use La Choy: it’s gluten-free)
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

 

For the cole slaw:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
For the deviled eggs:
6 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard (I use Gulden’s)

 

Combine the ketchup, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, hot sauce, and brown sugar in a Crock Pot or heavy pot with a lid. Mix well, then add the chicken breasts, making sure they’re immersed in the sauce. Cook low and slow for about 4 hours. If using a pot with a lid, place in a pre-heated 250-degree oven and cook for 6 hours.

When the chicken is cooked through, shred the meat with 2 forks. Set aside, but keep warm.

Combine all the cole slaw ingredients in a bowl, mixing well, and place in the fridge.

For perfectly hard-boiled eggs, place the eggs in a pot of cold water, and turn the heat on high. Just before the water starts to boil, put a lid on the pot and turn the heat off. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. Once cooked, keep the eggs in the fridge.

Slice the eggs in half and place the yolks in a bowl with the mayonnaise and mustard. Mix well and keep in the fridge.

To assemble, take a teaspoon of the mayo/mustard/yolk mixture and place it in the cavity of one of the egg halves. Place another teaspoon of the shredded chicken on top (I like it warm, to counter the cold of the mayo and cole slaw), drizzling a little of the BBQ sauce on the meat. Then place a teaspoon of the cole slaw on top of the chicken.

I think half my childhood was spent in the kitchen, watching my Mom and grandmother make koldūnai (kohl-doo-nayh), the Lithuanian version of a pierogi, by hand at lightning speed. Some Lithuanian cooks would make the dough, roll it out into a large flat sheet with a rolling-pin, then cut circles out with a glass or a cookie cutter. But my Mom and grandmother used a different method: they’d roll the dough into a log, cut it into 1″ pieces, and then twirl each piece in their hands to make a flat pancake that they would then fill with a spoonful of meat or mushrooms. It blew my mind that they could crank out over a hundred of these perfectly shaped dumplings in no time, placing them on a cookie sheet and freezing them until it was time to cook them.

One of the main reasons koldūnai beat pierogis every time is the filling. My Mom would mix ground beef with chopped onions sautéed in butter, a couple of eggs, and milk crackers soaked in milk. She’d add salt and pepper, then take a spoonful of the raw meat mixture and plop it in my mouth. “Enough salt?” she’d ask. My sisters and I loved the taste of the raw beef like that…probably why I always order beef tartare when I see it on a restaurant menu.

The other stuffing, usually reserved for special holidays like Christmas and Easter, was made from mushrooms. Italy may lay claim to the porcini, but the fact of the matter is, Lithuania is porcini heaven. And when they’re dried and reconstituted, their incredible flavor is so intense, you don’t need many of them to flavor a large amount of cheaper button mushrooms. We’d get our dried boletes from relatives in Lithuania every year…the real deal. Mom would place a handful in some boiling water and let them steep until they swelled up and could easily be chopped and added to the other mushrooms. She’d then pour the mushroom liquid into the pan as well, not wasting a bit of that magical porcini flavor. The mushrooms were simply sautéed in butter, cooled, then used to fill the koldūnai.

Common pierogi fillings are potatoes or sauerkraut. I think the Lithuanians got this round.

Not perfect, but not bad for a first attempt. I made sure the exposed meat was covered by dough before placing in the freezer. otherwise, they would open up in the boiling water and make a mess.

Not perfect, but not bad for a first attempt. And the GF dough was tough to deal with at first. I made sure the exposed meat was covered by dough before placing in the freezer. Otherwise, they would open up in the boiling water and make a mess.

 

So this past Christmas Eve, I decided it was time to try my hand at making koldūnai. As I recall, my Mom simply mixed water with flour and a little salt to make the dough, kneaded it into a log, and off she went. My challenge was a bit more daunting: I needed to make them gluten-free as well. My sister, whose family lives the GF lifestyle, told me that they simply exchange all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour and it works fine. But my experience in trying to bake bread or make pizza dough with gluten-free flour told me that the dough would be tough to work with and would lack the elasticity found in dough made with gluten, so I wanted another option. I found an old recipe on-line that still used the individual GF ingredients (rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, etc.) before the advent of Cup 4 Cup, the all-purpose gluten-free flour I now use religiously. I decided I’d substitute my go-to flour for those ingredients and add it to the rest of the recipe. What I got was a soft dough that was relatively easy to work with, just a little sticky.

The biggest challenges I had with making my koldūnai was my own clumsiness and lack of experience. Once I got the hang of it, things moved along steadily, and it didn’t take long for me to make 24 gluten-free koldūnai–not all perfect, but not bad for a first try.

Since my wife is allergic to mushrooms, I had to skip them this time around and used a ground beef filling instead. And, by my daughter’s special request, I also made 4 mac-and-cheese koldūnai, also gluten-free using GF mac-and-cheese.

The ground beef filling was easy…

1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 pat of butter
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten-free)
1/4 cup milk

 

Finely chop the onion and saute it in a little butter until translucent. Let it cool, then add it to 1 lb. of thawed ground beef. Add the egg, the breadcrumbs, and the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Mix ingredients thoroughly and keep the meat in the fridge until ready to use.

 

Two pots of boiling salted water: one for the meat-filled koldūnai, and one for the mac-and-cheese filled koldūnai.

Two pots of boiling salted water: one for the meat-filled koldūnai, and one for the mac-and-cheese filled koldūnai.

 

1 lb. bacon, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped

In a large pan, fry the chopped bacon until it’s almost crisp. I don’t drain the fat, but you can if you’re a wuss. Add the chopped onions and cook until they are soft. Set aside. These are called spirgučiai, (spir-guh-chay) and they are sprinkled on top of the finished koldūnai, just before serving. (My Mom always kept a stash in a container in the fridge, and sprinkled them on anything and everything.)

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1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil (I don’t ever use canola or vegetable oils)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup gluten-free flour (I use Cup4Cup)

Place the flour in a bowl. In a blender, combine the cottage cheese, egg, milk olive oil and salt. Blend until smooth. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl with the flour and knead by hand, forming a dough.

Dust a board with more flour, and move the flour from the bowl onto the board. Knead it into a long log, about a foot long and 1 1/2″ thick. Cut it into 12 equal pieces, about 1″ wide.

Take one cut piece, and using your thumbs, twirl the dough around, flattening it into a small pancake. (Feel free to use a small rolling-pin, if that’s easier.) Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of the pancake, then fold one side over so that it meets the edges of the other side. Press with your fingers to make the two halves stick together and form a seal. (You may need to dab a little water on one edge with a small pastry brush to help make it sticky enough to seal it.)

Place the koldūnai on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, and when you’re done, place the sheet pan in the freezer.

Get a large pot of salted water boiling. Drop the koldūnai in gently, being careful not to overcrowd them…about 6 at a time. If the dough is thin, the koldūnai will be ready when they float up to the surface. A thicker dough will need longer cooking. The best way to know if they’re done is by taking one out, cutting it open and having a look (and taste!)

When plating, sprinkle generously with spirgučiai, and serve with sour cream.

Mac-and-cheese koldūnai!

Mac-and-cheese koldūnai!