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Ask the ChefsAug/Sep 2011 Issue

In the Kitchen: Rice Flour Substitute, Allergic to Wheat & More!

Is there a substitute for rice flour that will work in most recipes? Rice flour is in every gluten-free flour mix I see and I’m allergic to rice.

Make your own flour blend , replacing the rice flour with an equal amount of sorghum flour. You can also use some buckwheat or amaranth flour—but sparingly, as too much of either may overpower delicately flavored recipes. 

I need help with substitutes for onion and garlic flavors.

Go to “Hold the Onions, Garlic and Peppers” at LivingWithout.com/onions. This article by Liz Scott gives practical advice on flavorful cooking without onions and garlic and includes delicious recipes for favorite dishes (meatloaf, anyone?) made without these ingredients.

I’m allergic to wheat but I’m not a celiac so I can eat barley, rye and oats. Needless to say, bread is what I miss most. All your bread recipes are gluten free. Can’t you provide some that are just wheat free?

A little gluten in flour made of barley or rye would make baking easier but our mission is to be entirely gluten free, as well as allergy friendly. Since you are wheat free but not gluten free, you could make a wheat-free flour blend using 25 to 30 percent barley flour or rye flour. You could also use oat flour as part of your blend. (Note: Those with celiac disease should use only certified gluten-free oat flour.) For most recipes, you’ll also want to add ½ to 1 teaspoon xanthan gum for each cup of flour blend used.

I’m allergic to gluten, yeast, dairy and eggs, to name just a few. I purchase yeast-free, dairy-free, egg-free bread made with brown rice at my local health food store but it doesn't taste great and it’s expensive. I’d love to make some bread that’s free of my allergens and tastes good. Is that possible?

It’s a challenge to find a palatable bread without yeast, eggs, gluten and dairy but we’ve got it covered. Try Rebecca Reilly’s Vegan Yeast-Free Quinoa Bread at LivingWithout.com/quinoabread. I think you’ll like the results.

I’ve tried making gluten-free baking powder biscuits but they never work out. Do you have a recipe that actually rises and is fluffy like regular biscuits? They also need to be dairy free and yeast free.

The right combination of gluten-free flours, shortening, baking powder and buttermilk makes biscuits light and fluffy. The secret is to not over-work the dough. Try Chef Rob Landolphi’s recipe for Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits at LivingWithout.com/biscuits. These biscuits are already yeast free and the recipe includes substitutes for buttermilk and butter.

My lawn service recommends using corn gluten as a pre-emergent for my grass to be applied twice a year (every spring and fall). My gluten-sensitive, food-allergic child runs around barefoot on my lawn. Is it safe for her?

Corn gluten contains a different protein chain than the troublesome gluten found in wheat, barley and rye. I can’t comment on what corn gluten can do for your grass but according to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, it is considered safe for those with celiac disease and people who follow a gluten-free diet. Have your daughter wear her shoes in any event as it’s not good policy to have children running barefoot through freshly treated yards. In addition, consult with your child’s allergist before agreeing to the lawn treatment.

I’ve made your Oatmeal Maple Bread many times and it’s excellent. Recently a friend asked me to customize it for her dietary needs—no sweetener, no shortening. Can I leave out the maple syrup and use butter instead of shortening or dairy-free margarine?

Replacing the shortening or dairy-free margarine with an equal amount of butter in this recipe by Diane Kittle (available at LivingWithout.com/oatmealmaplebread) is not a problem. However, good results aren’t guaranteed if you omit the maple syrup; it helps feed the yeast and makes the bread rise. If you decide to leave it out, add 1 teaspoon cider vinegar and enough water to equal the amount of maple syrup. This will keep the dough sufficiently moist.

Food editor Beth Hillson is a chef and cooking instructor. She is founder of Gluten-Free Pantry, one of the first gluten-free companies in the United States, and creator of Gluten-Free Pantry’s gourmet baking mixes.

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