Italian Food has got to be one of my all time favorite foods. I especially crave heavier foods, such as pasta, during the winter months. Now, I realize winter is almost over, but pasta and anything I would eat with it is stuck in my brain.
Since going gluten free, pasta is one food I have had to eat less of. Yes, of course, I can create spaghetti with a gluten free version. And after trial and error, I have found that Quinoa pasta has a better consistency than rice.
That’s just it – like everything else, there has been trial and error. I have not begun to experiment with gluten free lasagna noodles; however, this may be something I attempt by the end of the year. Not only have I cut out gluten but I have also cut out cheese. What would lasagna be without mounds of ricotta and mozzarella streaming throughout the layers of noodles and sauce.
And what would Italian food be like without garlic bread, or any other bread?
My favorite part of experiencing an Italian restaurant is dipping the thick, oven-baked bread into the oil and balsamic vinegar plate. Ah, it smelled and tasted so good! It brought a sense of comfort to my belly. Usually by the time dinner arrived, I was full from the dinner of delicious bread I had consumed while sipping red wine, chatting with friends or family.
I cannot stress enough how blessed I am to be discovering this intolerance/allergy in the consumer world we live in. Thank goodness, gluten intolerance has become vastly recognized and thus, more food products to choose from at the grocery store.
However, I have other allergies to consider. Eggs being one of them, which is part of the bread makeup. Ugh! I have also tried some of these rice flour versions of store bought bread, and I have got to tell you — I am not impressed. Its not the same. They are very heavy, and dry. So, even if I find a bread with no eggs, it is not very pleasing to my palate.
Baking my own bread would, at least, keep me mindful of what I am putting in my body. Not sure why the thought of baking my own bread seems like such a scary step though. I am overwhelmed at the list of ingredients to the gluten free versions. I am discovering that some of these gluten free flours are better sources for protein and fiber which help with texture and structure.
So, I am now on the journey of baking my own bread. Right now that journey is mostly in my head. I dream of figuring out what exactly Sorghum is. . . why is it so sweet? What is Xanthum Gum . . . and why is it required even when baking soda and baking powder are also included? What’s the difference between Xanthum and Guar Gum? and why does Bob Red Mill’s gluten free mixes contain bean flours. . . what is this purpose of bean vs rice, or a different grain?
It might be a tough process, trying to figure out how to be egg free and milk free at the same time; however, my Kinesiologist says I can have organic eggs:) I am a little apprehensive; however, I will most likely try a few batches of the same recipe of bread – with eggs and without. I need to know what the consistency of the bread should be, so flipping back and forth on a particular recipe might help me understand if I am doing something right or wrong with the substitutions.
So this week, I attempted a Gluten Free Italian Flatbread from the Living Without website. Another wonderful resource! My first attempt without eggs produced a very sticky dough, but easily mold-able with rice floured fingers. Plopped said bread on baking sheet and I had what appeared to be a great bread. It was thicker than the picture described but I was happy with it as I used it to mold my turkey sandwich. A bit messy, but good.
Attempt #2 included my organic eggs, but I had to make some sort of substitution for the yogurt. I did not have applesauce or any type of sour cream/yogurt substitute, so I pureed strawberries, banana, apple and coconut milk. Added the remainder ingredients that were just as wet as I described, and I was sure I messed up this whole creation. There was no way to form a ball of any kind. It puddled onto the baking sheet. I decided to bake it anyway.
and surprisingly, it turned out just like the picture on the recipe! I am not quite sure if it tasted like Italian Flatbread; however, it did taste deliciously sweet.
If this is how it is supposed to transpire, I have a lot to learn about gluten free baking. I want everything to look and taste like wheat floured bread; but my perception and my expectations must change. I must be open to what I am creating, even if it appears out of the ordinary.
More trial and error to come. . .