Enjoy the fun food you crave despite food allergies | NevadaAppeal.com

Enjoy the fun food you crave despite food allergies

Marialisa Calta
United Features Syndicate
Chugrad McAndrews/ "The Allergen-Free Baker's HandEven a child with gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs or nut allergies will feel deliciously "normal" when digging into these blondies and brownies.
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Life for people with food allergies can be tough. Even adults may have trouble saying “no” to favorite foods containing an offending ingredient. But for kids, food allergies can be even tougher. “Kids with food allergies just want to feel NORMAL,” writes Cybele Pascal, the author of a new cookbook.

Pascal, a chef and mother of two – one of whom has a myriad of allergies – has written “The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook” (Celestial Arts, 2009). In it, she manages to avoid what allergists say are the eight foods that are responsible for 90 percent of food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.

Allergen-free baking means stocking your pantry with special ingredients. Substitute rice milk for cow’s; egg replacer for eggs; dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening for butter; and a gluten-free flour mixture (recipe below) for flour. The final “secret ingredient” in most of Pascal’s baked goods is xanthan gum, a corn derivative that mimics gluten, providing structure and elasticity to baked goods.

For those of us who are blissfully free of food allergies, this book may seem unnecessary. But if you have a nephew with a peanut allergy, a neighbor child who is lactose intolerant or a friend with celiac disease, you can now serve them luscious baked goods that they can eat without fear. You can make them feel NORMAL.

BASIC GLUTEN-FREE

FLOUR MIX

4 cups superfine brown-rice flour (recommended: Authentic Foods brand)

11⁄3 cups potato starch (not potato flour)

2⁄3 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)

Measure the flour using a large spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup, then level off with the back of a knife or straight edge.

Combine all ingredients in a gallon-size plastic bag. Shake well to blend. Store in the refrigerator.

Yield: 6 cups

CHOCOLATE-CHUNK

BLONDIE BARS

2-1⁄2 cups plus 2 tablespoons Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix

1⁄2 teaspoon plus 1⁄8 teaspoon xanthan gum

11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

3⁄4 cup dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening

3⁄4 cup sugar

1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

11⁄2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons rice milk

1⁄4 cup plus 1 teaspoon rice milk

6 ounces Enjoy Life Rice Milk bars or Dark Chocolate Boom Choco Boom bars, chopped

Center a rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-by-9-inch pan.

Whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the shortening and both sugars, beating on medium speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes.

Add the vanilla and egg replacer, and mix for 20 seconds.

Add the flour mix in three batches, alternating with the rice milk, and beginning and ending with the flour mix. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Spread the batter evenly in the baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until lightly golden, rotating the pan halfway through.

Remove from the oven, and let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes. Cut into squares. Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 16 brownies

Recipe from “The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook” by Cybele Pascal (Celestial Arts, 2009)

FUDGE BROWNIES

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1⁄2 cup dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening

2 cups granulated sugar

2 (4- to 6-ounce) jars prune puree or apple-plum puree (baby food)

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1-3⁄4 cups plus 2 tablespoons Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix, plus a bit more for preparing baking pan

1⁄2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 tablespoon baking powder

1-1⁄2 cups dairy-free, soy-free chocolate chips

Center a rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 9-by-9-inch pan, then sprinkle with a little gluten-free flour mix, tapping out any extra.

Combine the unsweetened chocolate and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl, and melt in the microwave, checking every 30 seconds until melted. Stir in the sugar and the puree. Mix well, add the vanilla, and beat until smooth.

Whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum and baking powder. Add to the chocolate mixture in three batches, stirring well after each addition. Beat until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until glossy and just beginning to pull away from the sides.

Let cool completely, then cut into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 16 squares

Recipe from “The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook” by Cybele Pascal (Celestial Arts, 2009)

Marialisa Calta is the author of “Barbarians at the Plate: Taming and Feeding the American Family” (Perigee, 2005). For more information, go to http://www.marialisacalta.com