Tag Archives: gluten-intolerance

Gluten-Free Ghoreiba

Ghoreiba is basically a Middle-eastern butter-cookie decorated with almonds. I’ve never made shortbread cookies, but ghoreiba reminds me of a mix between them and Russian tea-cookies. A quick google search later and now I know that all three of the above cookies are basically the same cookie made in different ways.

When I made ghoreiba with gluten flour my cookies came out dense and buttery, very good but somewhat heavy. Something that really surprised me is that this time, using my gluten-free flour mix, the cookies came out super light and flaky. They basically crumbled and melted in your mouth. The texture change threw me but, as has happened with most of the recipes I’ve tried, I actually liked the cookies better gluten-free than with gluten.

Sometime soon, later this week most likely, I will blog about the gluten-free all-purpose mix I made and link it on here and all my future recipes.

HERE IT IS!! 

But for now, here is the recipe for gluten-free ghoreiba.

This recipe was given to me by my Egyptian mother-in-law. Many people have their own version of ghoreiba and add things like rose water, or orange blossom water, but this is the very basic version. Mama (my mother-in-law) makes her own variations on this by adding cocoa powder for chocolate ghoreiba.

Gluten Free Ghoreiba

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla (1.5 tsp if you’re using powdered vanilla)
Whole blanched almonds to garnish

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

If you don’t have a mixer then get ready to work out your biceps because the KEY, absolute key, to fluffy ghoreiba is creaming your butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy. I have a much-beloved kitchenaid and I highly recommend getting one for anyone who is even slightly interested in baking. It makes all the difference.

Cream your room-temperature butter with the powdered sugar and vanilla until the texture is fluffy and the color has lightened. Mix in your flour until the dough comes together in a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. I had to add a few teaspoons of additional flour until the dough would pull away. Test it, if you need to add, add lightly until the dough pulls together. You want it to make balls without sticking to your hands.

Once it pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl stop mixing it, you don’t want to over-mix the dough.

I bake the cookies on parchment paper and I feel this crisps up the cookies better than baking directly on the cookie-sheet.

Take enough dough in your palm to make a gumball-sized ball. One of my initial mistakes was making the cookies too big which made them heavy and doughy. Roll the dough between your palms until it makes a perfectly round ball and then, after placing the dough ball on the parchment, press your thumb into the middle, smooshing the cookie down and leaving a perfect thumb-print. Into this thumb-print you will press one whole almond.

Before baking

The cookies will spread out so make sure you have at least two inches between each cookie. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. With the GF flour I found that my ghoreiba didn’t really brown like I’m used to, so I over-cooked the first batch. Thankfully the recipe is very forgiving and the cookies were still good, if a little too brown on the bottoms.

I made a few variations in this batch: I started with basic ghoreiba and then for the second round I rolled the ghoreiba balls in shredded, unsweetened, desiccated coconut and baked them without an almond (because I may or may not have forgotten to add the almonds), and for the third round I rolled the balls in coconut again and then added the almonds.

Image

I think next time I may try adding cocoa powder to the mix and make chocolate ghoreiba, and sometime in the future I may try adding jelly to the thumb-prints and make thumb-print cookies. Another version Mama has done in the past is putting jelly between two mini-button ghoreiba she made (without thumb-print) and then edging the sandwiched ghoreiba-buttons in more jelly and then rolling that in shredded coconut. Those were very good and very pretty.

This ghoreiba recipe is a very good base upon which you could jump off into many directions. AND if you are not gluten-free, simply use regular all-purpose flour. The recipe stays the same.

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Completely Re-Learning How to Cook and Other Adventures

For years Mr. MM had dealt with crippling stomach issues that often left him curled up on the floor in pain. As you can imagine this was extremely distressing for me; I couldn’t bear to see him hurt but didn’t know how to fix it. Being the only one who knows how to cook chef of the family I had formed a somewhat tenuous link in my head between what foods I cooked and his resulting stomach pains so I consulted Dr. Google and what I found there matched what I was already thinking. I believed that he was gluten-intolerant as anything involving bread or pasta left him in pain almost immediately however I was thrown off because it seemed that rice did the same thing. But rice is gluten-free so I was hesitant and confused. It also didn’t help that Egyptian food is built on a three-fold foundation: rice, bread, and pasta, and as such Mr. MM had never gone without eating one of those three for more than a day, if that. I was at a loss and Mr. MM himself was no real help in that every time I brought up the idea that he stop eating them he balked, add into that the fact that I had no idea what I would feed him and that meant that he continued to suffer while I dithered. *sigh* 

Finally it got to the point that I could no longer handle watching him in pain and he could no longer handle being in pain and we made an appointment with a gastroenterologist. As usual there wasn’t a GI doctor appointment to be had sooner than two months out, but we plugged along while I began serious research into what I would do if he did, in fact, turn out to be gluten-intolerant. I read, I researched, and then I did what I had never really done before: I planned out weekly menus.

Armed with this, and a test-run with quinoa that turned out much better than I expected, I approached Mr. MM with the suggestion that while we wait for the GI appointment we put him on an elimination diet. It took a bit of persuasion, me pointing out that the GI doc is going to suggest it anyway, and a promise that it would only be for two weeks, and he finally agreed.

Two weeks, and many new dishes later, Mr. MM was feeling great, while I was a bit kitchen-burnt-out. But whatevs, stomach-pain GONE. The next day after the Great Elimination Diet of 2012, Mr. MM had himself a sandwich and was curled up in pain after a few hours. A few more days without gluten or rice and he was fine again, and then a dish with rice and the same pain began.

My poor husband is not only gluten-intolerant but he is also rice-intolerant. I honestly can’t imagine anything worse for an Egyptian trying to eat Egyptian food than this. Our appointment with the GI brought the same diagnosis, especially as there really isn’t any way to test for gluten-intolerance other than an elimination diet. We could test for Celiac’s, but I don’t believe he has that, and we could test for a gluten allergy except he doesn’t exhibit any allergic reactions like hives, itchy anything, or swelling.

So, poor Mr. MM. And poor me!; poor, poor me. Because almost every gluten-free substitute for sale in the market uses rice flour as its base. So buying gf bread is out of the question, gf cookies almost as hard, and definitely no gf brownies or gf cake mix.

What’s a girl to do?

This last week I finally took the bull by the horns and mixed up my own gluten-free all-purpose flour mix and began baking with it, but that’s a story for another post later.

For now I can say that we are eating really healthy and I am very happy about it. I don’t think I’d go back to cooking rice and eating bread now, even if we could. Post gastric-bypass I shouldn’t be eating rice, bread, or pasta anyways so not keeping it around the house isn’t hard. I’ve had to become a little adventurous in my cooking, yes, but it keeps things interesting. And thank God – seriously alhumdulillah – for quinoa because having that as an option has made all the difference. I can still make most Egyptian main dishes, simply using quinoa instead of rice, so not too much has changed.

I have to say though that molokhia over quinoa really isn’t the same. *sigh*

Still, we both feel healthier and happier, and I’ve been looking into ways to further clean up our food through reading my friend Rehaam’s blog Steak and Sass.

Now, she’s gone Paleo and that’s a bit lot further than I care to go, but some of the principles of cleaning up what we eat make sense, especially working in Cancer Care, as I do.

I’m going to start blogging some recipes in the future as I can’t imagine that Mr. MM and I are the only Muslims and Arabs dealing with how to cook ethnic gluten-free food.

Maybe I can help a sister/brother out.

And if you, or someone you know, is dealing with gluten-intolerance AND rice-intolerance let me know in the comments. I feel like there are many more people dealing with that than just us.