Gluten Free: The Evolution of Classic Cuisine

Ann Arbor Food Gluten Free

Gluten Free Brownies at WCC Sweet Shop Bakery

Readers of this blog who have read my pizza making at home post and a series of baking recipes including posts about my pie business might think what gives with the new gluten free focus.

Well, I am trying to go gluten free to see if it helps with my arthritis. It has been a few weeks now going gluten free and it has not been as hard as I thought.

And it is too early to tell, but I do feel my arthritis on my hands is better (less symptom, more range of motion.)

At home, I have been using my rice cooker on over-time and I still have a ton of potatoes and squash from the garden to satisfy a carb fix.

The hard part is outside of the home. The world seems to be gluten obsessed. The center piece of American cuisine is breakfast pastry, sandwiches, pizza and bread/cookies/cakes/cup cakes…or battered fried foods.

So can one live a happy, healthy gluten free life?

My thoughts on the subject turn to my culinary arts school days when I was obsessed with learning how to make awesome sauces.

I read Escoffier, the founder of classic french cuisine and what stood out was that he predicted that toasted flour and butter roux, the traditional thicker for three of the five mother sauces, would eventually be replaced by pure starches like corn starch, arrow root or kuzu…etc.

Well, that never happened, cause in point, we were still using roux, but Escoffier had a point.

Flour in sauce has always be a cheap fix, which is what Peterson said speaking about the history of sauce.

For me, most sauces I make these days are pans sauces.

Pan sauces are made by simply deglazing the pan fond (dry tasty bits in the pan after searing meat) with some wine and thickening it with some starch if needed.

So what does my rant here mean for the foodie who is O-pinning for his Gluten mother sauces.

Two sauce gurus all but say it’s fine to have your classic french cuisine a la gluten free and eat it too.

I say that the time may be right for Escoffier’s roux-less (gluten free) sauce vision to be realized.

Why not simmer your beef/veal stock longer and make a demiglaze?

For Bechemal or Veloute’  (Milk  or Stock gravy/sauces), why not use half and half instead of milk or finishes it with a pure starch?

Does the toasted wheat flavor add a lot to the finished dish? And if it is the taste of toasted grain is all you want, why not add a little toasted rice tea to the stock with the shachet?

It seems weird to spend hours skimming a stock, cooling it, and scrapping the fat off, so you can have a clean product only to add a scoop of butter and flour later to oil and cloud it up.

Why not simply go for a clean cooked down stock and thicken it with a pure starch like corn starch?

Butter or cream can be added if you need some extra richness or you can thicken it with an egg york.

In other words, we can make many tasty dishes without missing the wheat flour, and I am not talking a handful here. I mean us gluten free folks can have most if not almost all of the classic french library.

But what about the crispy breaded coating for dredging meat, fish etc?

I say think Rice flour. Rice flour is used for tempura batter and many o-fish-n-chips use rice flour instead of wheat.

As for the world of bread, that is another story.

I had not ventured too far into the gluten free bake good world. Dare I even say gluten free pizza.

The thing is, like most on a new diet/lifestyles, there is a tendency at first to want to gravitate to a like version of the food we just gave up, or even to want to eat the same way.

A classic example is a vegan eating “fake meat.”

With gluten free it maybe Gluten free bread (which are well….I am not sure yet.)

On other programs it is the health bar. Every lifestyle seems to have their own candy like health bar that fits into their new diet, high carb, low carb, vegan, gluten free, carob

These “fake” substitutions help make the transition easier, but the key word is transition. The transitional foods eventually will be limited or mostly phased out.

For example, I would much prefer beans over tofu.

For me the idea is to transition towards the new diet/lifestyle.

To do this I feel the best strategy is to limit the faux food for traditional foods/recipes that already  fit with the program.

So think foods that are already gluten free.

Here is a quick list:

Southern Grits
Southern corn bread w/B B Q
Pad Thai Noodles
Roasted Potatoes w/baked chicken and green beans
Wild rice pilaf with fish
Saag Paneer (Cream spinach with fresh cheese) most indian dishes can be made gluten free
Nic’e salad
Grill meat or seafood w/veggies
Roasted veggies
Sushi (with tamari instead of soy sauce…soy sauce has wheat)
100% buckwheat pancakes

Ice Cream
Rice Pudding
Chocolate Pudding
Indian Pudding
Short Bread cookies (w rice flour traditional)
Chocolate (Yes, a Gluten Free life includes Chocolate…Hell Yah!!!)
Gelatin and aspics

And for the most part, many traditional dishes could be made with a simple thickener substitute like chowders and cream soups could use potato or corn starches.

So to my Gluten Free Brothers and Sisters out there, take hear there is still a huge world of good eat waiting for you.

Gluten free recipes are on the way.

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