I am not much of a cook (well only by my maiden name, which was Cook, but I digress). I can make food for my family, but being creative with flavors and having yummy moist gluten-free baked goods — eh…maybe not so much. So I can use all the helpful hints and tips possible to make a good meal.
At the Gluten-Free Living Conference in Orlando this weekend Jessie and Jilly Lagasse (yup, Emeril’s daughters are both gluten free) offered up some pretty easy tips to help make our gluten-free meals fabulous. Here are many of their gluten free cooking tips, in no particular order.
Lagasse Girls’ Gluten Free Cooking Tips:
- Roux is your friend. According to BusyCooks.about.com, the definition of a roux is “a mixture of butter and flour, cooked until bubbly”. “The roux is a fantastic thickener, we use it as bases for soups and sauces” the Lagasse sisters said. They say by using gluten free flour and your fat you can create a great roux. They say it should be a 1:1 ratio.
- Kick up the flavor. Instead of using water, kick your cooking up a notch by using a beef, chicken, vegetable or seafood stock instead.
- Fried Chicken breading: Use a cornstarch/rice flour blend for frying to get super crispy results and season however you want. It is a really crunchy/crispy texture. The blend for this is a 1:1 ratio. “Using finely milled white rice flour for a single battering is your best bet,” the ladies said. They did warn, don’t do a double batter, because that is too crunchy.
- The process for this? They recommend you dunk it in the wet (whatever you use — Jilly Lagasse tip: you could soak the chicken in buttermilk first) then coat it with the dry ingredients (cornstarch/rice flour blend listed above) and then let it sit for t little bit on a cookie sheet before pan frying.
- Tapioca flour is good for binding crab and fish cakes when pan frying.
- Dairy free? Jilly Lagasse says she uses coconut oil in place of butter for everything.
- When gluten-free foods don’t hold their form, you need to increase moisture. Add extra fats: butter, coconut oil, shortening, add plain yogurt, sour cream in addition to what is called for. The Lagasse girls say “Experiment! Try a little at a time until you get it right.”
- Trying to make a recipe gluten free? Each time you make an attempt write down what you’re doing that way you know what you may have messed up (or on the positive side, you will know what you did that made your batch fabulous).
- Let your gluten-free dough rest at least 30 min to as long as overnight. Gluten-free flour doesn’t absorb moisture as quickly as regular flour.
- Improve flavor by adding pureed fruits and vegetables, or honey, even brown sugar instead of regular granulated sugar.
Jessie and Jilly Lagasse have a book called The Gluten-Free Table. Their upcoming book: The Lagasse Girls’ Big Flavor, Bold Taste & No Gluten comes out later this year.