Lasagne! Daring Bakers March Challenge

Home made gluten free pasta, oh my!  When I found out I'd be making pasta I was a little nervous.  Pasta is something I'd always wanted to try making, but since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease and going gluten free I kind of put the whole pasta making thing out of my mind.  Without this challenge I probably never would have tried gluten free pasta, and although it was a bit time consuming, it was kind of fun too.  It didn't hurt that I had a especially cute sous chef by my side!

Here's the recipe that I used.  I cut it in half and used a 9x9 inch pan.

Gluten Free Egg Pasta
1 cup corn flour
3/4 cup corn starch
1 cup tapioca flour
1 cup potato starch
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 Tablespoons Xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
6 extra large eggs
3/8 cup of water
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
Whisk together 3 eggs, the water, and the oil. Pour into the middle of the dry ingredients. Mix with a sturdy wooden spoon, gradually drawing more of the flour mix into the wet ingredients. Add each egg as needed. The dough will be crumbly at the beginning but will gradually come together as you add the eggs. You will need to use your hands to squeeze and mix the dough.  The dough will be firm and stick together when ready. It will not have the elasticity of gluten dough therefore it will crack when kneaded and pushed. Form it into a smooth ball, oil it lightly, and cover securely with plastic wrap. Let it rest for an hour.

Put a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface. This is very important as the dough will not hold together very well when lifted. Have flour ready for dusting (corn flour etc) and dust the surface lightly. Cut a piece of dough about the size of really large egg – it doesn’t matter the size but start small for the first one to gauge how much space you need. Keep the remaining dough covered so it does not dry.

Roll the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc with your hands. Put it on your work surface and flatten with your hands. Use a rolling pin and gently push the dough down and out ward from the centre. You may have to place one hand on the plastic wrap as you push the dough down and away. Gluten free dough does not stretch like wheat dough therefore it needs gentle flattening and pushing. If it breaks, pat it back together. If it is too dry, dab a little water with your finger.

The gluten free dough will be thicker than wheat dough and you will barely be able to see your hand through the dough. Once it is flattened, cut into strips or squares that will fit your pan.  Set the dough aside on the plastic sheet. There is no need to dry the dough. But if you do dry the dough, it will not be able to hang because it will break. Stack the rolled out dough with plastic sheets in between.

Stack the sheets when dry and wrap securely. Store in the fridge until ready to use. Freezing will make the dough crumbly and difficult to work with – so freeze only as a last resort!  This dough
does not need to be precooked before being assembled into the lasagne.

Gluten Free Béchamel - White Sauce
2 & 2/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or Extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons corn starch
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Mix the corn starch with ½ cup of cold milk. Heat the rest of the milk in a small sauce pan until steaming but do not boil. Add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the steaming milk. Stirring constantly, raise the heat and heat the mixture until thick. Once it is thick, remove it from the heat and add the butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Have the béchamel warm or at room temperature ready to assemble the lasagne. Whisk the sauce occasionally if it becomes stiff or thick.

Gluten Free Ragu Sauce
I used my spaghetti sauce recipe and added 1 pound ground sirloin

Before assembly, pour plain water into the pan, enough to form a thin film of water over the bottom. A 9 x 13 inch pan required almost ½ cup (125 mL) of water. Once the lasagna is assembled, pour a tablespoon of water into each corner of the dish. Cover the lasagna tightly with aluminum foil. Be careful not to touch the top of the lasagna with the foil. Bake as directed.

Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted but not brown.

Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

I've been craving cheesecake lately and yesterday I couldn't stand it any longer.  After rummaging through my cupboards and doing some recipe research I came up with the following mini crustless cheesecake recipe that is so easy, delicious, and only has 4 ingredients! (not including the topping which has 3!)

Mini Crustless Cheesecakes
(makes 8)

8 oz (1 pkg) cream cheese (Neufchatel is what I had on hand)
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Allow cream cheese to come to room temperature. Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth.  Line muffin pan with 8 cupcake wrappers and fill each about 3/4 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cheesecakes look slightly undercooked. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator until serving.  Top with blueberry topping (recipe follows) or your favorite pie filling and whip cream if desired.

Blueberry Topping:

2 cups frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Combine ingredients in saucepan and cook on medium stirring frequently until thickened about 7-10 minutes.  Allow to cool before using and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Five Guys Burgers - Fries Please

After checking that everything on the menu is gluten free except the bun, I was so excited when a Five Guys Burger opened near our house.  My excitement was a bit short lived - while the above statement is true and the cashier said they would wrap my burger in lettuce, when our food arrived my burger was just that and less. One hamburger patty,  a tomato, and 2 pickles.  Thy didn't even add the condiments I'd ordered.  No lettuce.  Not even a fork.  How do you eat that?  And why would I pay $3 for a lonely hamburger patty?  After further inquiry we learned that ALL of their lettuce is shredded.  They didn't even have a couple of lettuce leaves leftover that I could wrap my burger in.  How disappointing!  (especially knowing that the SLC, UT location will wrap your burger in lettuce.)  The fries were delicious so our visit wasn't a complete waste.  And the next time we go and I order a burger and fries, I'll remember to HOLD THE BURGER and just get the fries!

Gluten Free Gingersnaps

I love homemade gingersnaps! The store bought variety are a little to crunchy and have a tad more ginger than I like so I never buy them.  Plus, they're so easy to make you might as well make them to your specifications so that you can enjoy them!  This recipe is adapted from my sisters friends recipe.  She adds a 1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger to her cookies, but since I enjoy a little more mild ginger flavor I omitted it.  These cookies are so yummy.  They are thin and a little crisp around the edges but nice and soft in the center.  They have the perfect amount of spice without being over powering.  In other words, they are just the way I like them.  In fact,  I skipped lunch two days in a row and ate cookies instead.  OOPS!  For that reason I don't trust myself to make them very often .  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Gluten Free Gingersnaps 
3/4 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Additional sugar

In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, molasses and egg until light and fluffy.  Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off.  Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; mix well.  Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 8 – 10 minutes or until set. (When there are cracks on the top I take them out).  Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. 5 dozen cookies.