No gluten, no dairy, no eggs, no corn, no sugar, no citrus, no soy, no red meat, no shellfish, no peanuts. That was (part) of the list of what my parents started off with when they began their elimination diet a few weeks ago. I knew they would eat. In fact, they would eat well. The only question was making sure they enjoyed it. When my mom informed me a few months ago that they were planning to go on this diet, I was really curious. Was gluten what was causing dad’s headaches? What about the inordinate amount of times he clears his throat in a day? Could dairy be the source of mom’s inflammation? At the moment, they’re still figuring it all out. Although the specifics aren’t clear, dad and eggs? They don’t get along. When they did the trial for eggs, the headaches my dad had been getting on a fairly regular, seemingly random basis, they came back worlds worse than before. It wasn’t the answer we were expecting.
Honestly, I was wholeheartedly anticipating issues to be caused by gluten and dairy. Although the jury is still out on the latter (they’re testing that now), gluten doesn’t seem to be the mortal enemy of his cells. That crown was taken by eggs. I surely didn’t expect that, but that’s why they’re doing it, right? To see who the true culprits are. Although I don’t see myself doing one in the near future, if you’re searching for what food is irritating your system, give one a try (if that’s all right with your doctor and whatnot. I’m obviously not a doctor.). My mom researched a handful and found one that works for them. It was strict enough for them to discover their truths, yet had enough leeway that they would stick to it. But really, there are many out there.
Mom’s issues have been coming from much more diverse places. Almonds irritate when raw, wine is a coin toss, soy is iffy, sulphites and sugar are being questioned. Gluten and red meat? She’s not sure. They’re all gradual. Can’t have too much, too often. Intolerances can differ. Some are flat-out no, like gluten and I. Others are only on occasion. Some are masked my the more obvious solution in our minds. It can be a give-and-take.
Anyways, about this bread. This bread was special. It evolved. It became a ritual, a comfort. In these past few weeks of their diet, I think we’ve had more fresh bread around than in a long time. Why? Mom’s been whipping it up. Loaf after loaf, and a whole lot of this foccacia. I adapted this recipe from Two Clever Cooks‘ – People Friendly Food, a cookbook I was sent by two local girls who cook gluten, dairy, soy, egg and nut free. I just had to make a few changes to this recipe to fit mom and dad’s diet, as well as which flours we had on hand (we’ve made it a lot). This was our favourite version. In fact, I believe we have a batch or two of the dry ingredients (save for the yeast) mixed up in bags for quick and easy preparation. It’s incredibly simple. Vegan, too.
Best of all though? It never lasts 24 hours. Usually, we’re attempting to cut it when hot (which, since this has potato flour in it, leaves it a little gummy, not in a bad way though). Occasionally, it makes it past dinner (or is made afterwords, for a morning snack), and on those occasions it cuts in a perfect line. When that happens, I love lightly heating it up, putting a touch of butter on top and savouring it. Those other times? When we’re trying to rip it from the pan a touch prematurely? Those get dunked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We wrestle over the bowl. It slides across the table with shocking speed, each of us vying for the perfect balance of those two flavours, debating over the right way to pour the olive oil and vinegar into the bowl so that we can achieve what our tastebuds dream of.
Gluten-Free Vegan Focaccia
Adapted from People Friendly Food.
1/4 cup millet flour (43 g / 1.50 oz)
1/4 cup sweet rice flour (32 g / 1.10 oz)
1/4 cup brown rice flour (41 g / 1.45 oz)
1/4 cup potato flour (43 g / 1.50 oz)
1/2 cup tapioca starch (62 g / 2.20 oz)
3/4 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp agave or honey
1/4 cup warm water
rosemary & thyme
Whisk together your flours, gum, salt and yeast. Add your 2/3 cup warm water, olive oil and agave/honey. With a hand mixer, beat the liquid into the flours. It will come together, then apart into little globs. That’s normal. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of water* (this value may need to change depending on your altitude, humidity, etc). What you’re looking for is the dough to begin to look like a dough and wrap around the beaters. It’s soft enough that it’s slightly sticky, yet firm enough that it can be molded.
Place in a greased 8 by 8 glass pan. Press into the pan with a rubber spatula, to get an even layer. Let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in size. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle rosemary and thyme on top.
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 22 to 25 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool, then cut and serve.
Notes: I’m in Calgary, which is fairly dry and at about 1000 m, so adjust the secondary water value as needed. Also, when rising, I place a small bowl of water in the microwave and microwave it until the water is boiling. Then, I place the pan inside to rise, with the microwave off.
This one is simple. We skipped the rosemary and thyme (though, I love it more when those herbs cover the top), and I didn’t smooth it out very well before rising. No matter though, it’s still lovely.
See? Cuts like a dream when cooled. I wouldn’t hold it against you if you rip it open when warm though. We’ve done so many times.
I love ripping a piece apart. But, it doesn’t rip with just the flick of my pinky. I’m just holding it like that . It stays together well, while being rip-able.
This? This is my favourite way to have it. It’s so lovely with those herbs. Especially with some olive oil and balsamic. Brings back memories of pan bread at nice restaurants when I was little. Hoping for the last bite, eyeing it if anyone else ordered some, letting it slurp up the oil and vinegar then dance across my tastebuds.
No matter which way you slice it, this is quite delightful. I’m kind of in love with my great (great?) aunt’s china, so plating it that way just makes it all the more special!
A dab of butter if you wish (or a dairy-free substitute to keep it vegan). I’m happy with this. Now, the only question is when there will be more (I think there is only a small piece left as I write this!).
So? How have things been with you lately? I’ve been crazily busy, with projects and tests at every turn, then a slightly off thyroid dose to boot. Luckily, I’m starting to find my stride, figure out what works and get into the swing of things. Everything is new and fun, with lots of leaves starting to change, and lots to look forward to!