Thursday, 18 November 2010

Breakfast blog

This is not an advert for a load of bloggers to meet for croissants in some nice coffee bar with free WiFi – though that’s not a bad idea.

Lois, my wife, blogs about gluten free cooking - .

I appear on her blog as Mr Taster. This morning I had my breakfast photographed. Fortunately my actual plate came out blurred and I’d eaten it before she had a chance to take another picture. The items you see on the griddle are little gluten free pancakes. My dad used to call them drop-scones but looking at Google I see they are also known as Scotch pancakes - odd that, given that my dad was Welsh. They are a bit like blinis, except no yeast is involved.

For the pedants out there Blin is apparently the Russian word for pancake and therefore blini is already the plural – who would only eat one anyway – so blinis has a somewhat unnecessary ‘s’ on the end; unless you really want lots and lots of them – there again why not.

I digress; having your breakfast photographed is only one part of the action. I frequently have to fill out evaluation forms on new recipes, taste, crunchyness (not relevant for drop scones), after-taste; the list goes on.

As a writer is it an interesting challenge to find words to describe taste, a bit like all that stuff that wine buffs come out with. The big difference is to factor in texture and time because nothing tastes quite the same or feels the same after you’ve chewed it for a minute or two. Gluten, the stuff Lois is avoiding at all costs, is quite remarkable stuff. It sticks everything together, not like glue between two bits of wood, or the sticky stuff on magic tape, but by weaving itself among the molecules of whatever else is in the recipe. Take it out and food tends to fall apart.

Many gluten free cooks add Xanthan gum to try and achieve the same trick, but that’s also quite useful as a laxative, which is one good reason to try to avoid it.

Here’s another: Xanthan gum is a polysaccaride made by fermenting sugar with a bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris. Xanthomonas campestris is the same bacteria responsible for causing black rot to form on broccoli, cauliflower, and other leafy vegetables. The bacteria form a slimy substance that acts as a natural stabilizer or thickener. I’m partly quoting that from someone called Wisegeek - it sounds really appetizing doesn’t it.

Lois experiments with a range of flours made from things like Lentils, tapioca, quinoa and no black rot or slimy substances. See her blog for more details.

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