I realized in the last season I had some sumptuous restaurant dining experiences. I also realized (not to whine, of course) that I invariably feel a bit left out when the pre-dinner bread comes to the table and because I am gluten-intolerant, all I can do is smile wistfully as I pass the bread-basket.So, I baked some baguettes and made some amazing toppings as the appetizer course for a dinner last week. There was white bean mash (cannellini beans, garlic, olive oil and lemon), green olive and artichoke tapenade (recipe below), and of course butter. Another favorite is lox, cream cheese and red onion mixed in a food processor — a beautiful, inviting pink spread, and so delicious.The baguettes freeze well, so can be brought out for unexpected visitors or for snacking on during football (or “Downton Abbey”!) The ingredients for the tapenade can be kept on hand and thrown together on short notice, too.Gluten-free BaguettesUse a perforated 3-baguette pan if you have one, but a baking sheet will do.1 cup sweet rice flour 2 cups lukewarm water2 tablespoons sugar or 11⁄2 tablespoons agave syrup2 packets dry yeast 21⁄2 cups brown rice flour11⁄2 cups potato starch1 cup tapioca starch2 teaspoons xanthan gum1 teaspoon kosher salt3 tablespoons melted canola margarine3 lightly-beaten egg whites1⁄2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar1 egg and 2 tablespoons water, beaten, to brush the crust for browningPlace the sweet rice flour, water, sugar and dry yeast in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Mix on low until blended. Let this stand for about 10 minutes, or until frothy and bubbly. In a large bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and sift together. Melt the margarine and lightly beat the egg whites with a fork. Add the margarine, egg whites and vinegar to the mixer bowl ingredients and beat on low until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix everything together on medium-low for 3 minutes. The dough should form a ball; if it's too dry, add more warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 50 minutes to an hour, or until doubled in bulk.Stir the dough down, breaking down the yeast bubbles. If your baking pan is not perforated, oil it with a bit of olive oil and dust it with cornmeal. Divide the dough into thirds, and, with floured hands, roll each third into a narrow loaf about 14-inches long. Place the loaves in the baguette pan or on a prepared baking pan. The surfaces of the loaves can be smoothed by using a wet rubber spatula. Cover lightly, and let the dough rise for 30 to 45 minutes.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the beaten egg and water on the tops of the loaves. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. The loaves are done if they sound hollow when tapped.Green Olive andArtichoke Tapenade(from epicurious.com)Makes 3 loaves1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained1⁄4 cup toasted walnuts8 large brined and pitted green olives1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice1⁄2 teaspoon grated lemon peel2 tablespoons chopped parsley1 tablespoons olive oilChop the first 5 ingredients in a food processor. Add 1 tablespoon parsley and oil and puree until the mixture forms a coarse paste. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in a small bowl with the rest of the parsley sprinkle on top. This also can be made a day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.The next meeting of the Carson City gluten-free discussion group is set for Monday. If you would like more information, send me an email and/or check the group's blogspot at ccgfree.com for updates.Enjoy the new year.• Susan Hart has been cooking gluten-free for 15 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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