Friday, February 27, 2009

L &P's Meatloaf: Gluten Free Canine Comfort Food

Lulu and Phoebe have been eating this recipe with a few variations tossed in since last December. It all started with Phoebe's IBD issues. She had terrible reflux and it just kept getting worse with eat new food we tried. We gave her wet food, dry food, a mixture, frozen raw, freeze dried raw, and nothing helped. She had some expensive testing done to determine if it was something other than IBD, but alas, after several hundreds of dollars, it is IBD.

Some dogs just have a sensitivity to stress and some foods. Like humans, dogs may be better off with a diet designed to help with IBD. Gluten free is usually involved and does wonders for reflux and other IBD issues for both humans and canines.

With help from research, a veterinarian nutritionist, and others who came before us, we designed a homemade diet for Lulu and Phoebe. It is not easy to concoct a fully formed diet for dogs or cats, but not impossible either. We were lucky to receive some stellar help in our efforts and it has paid off substantially.

After a few months, Phoebe rarely has reflux. Her IBD is pretty much under control. Both are at an optimal weight, their coats are shiny and full. They rarely have tears, and have tons of energy and sleep well. The plumbing works just fine and all the systems do what they are intended to without an issue. They don't have as much gas, although some vegetables will do that no matter what.

This is a diet that we designed for Lulu and Phoebe. If you are interested in pursuing it for your dog, please do check with your vet and do some reading too. I might also suggest a consultation with veterinarian nutritionist too. Just remember that every dog is different and what works for one, might not be applicable to another.

Keep these things in mind when feeding your dog a homemade diet:

  • Know your dog's allergic trigger foods
  • Consult with your vet before changing the dog's diet
  • Supplements are not optional - see below
  • Easier to create a slightly varied base diet and add goodies to that
  • Give the diet time - it takes weeks and weeks to see any change
  • Initial reaction to the diet might not be pleasant - be patient
  • Food safety applies even when preparing foods for dogs
  • Larger batches divided into serving portions are easier to use
  • The quality of ingredients matter
  • Gluten Free must mean gluten free
  • This recipe makes about 30 cups or about 6400g of food.
  • For an 11 pound dog, we feed about 110g per day.
  • For a 15 pound dog we feed about 240g per day.

  • 4 pounds organic ground dark chicken meat or 3lbs chicken, 1lb. ground lamb
  • 1 bag frozen organic chopped spinach
  • 1 bag frozen organic broccoli florets
  • 1 bag frozen organic peas and carrots
  • 1 can (15oz) organic pumpkin (not pie mix!)
  • 1 can (15oz) organic pureed butternut squash or 1 can (15oz) organic pureed sweet potato
  • 2 cups organic arborio rice
  • 2 cups organic brown basmati rice
  • 1 cup organic certified gluten free oats or quiona, or teff, or bulgar
  • 1 cup organic olive oil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin organic coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons organic honey
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped organic parsley
  • 1 container Imagine Organic low sodium chicken broth (4 cups)
  • filtered water


If you make this entire recipe, you will need a 32 cup casserole dish, preferably with a lid. I use a cast iron enameled pot with a lid.

Spray the pan generously with an organic cooking spray (I use an olive oil based spray).

Add the grains, cinnamon, canned items, honey and oil and stir. Mix in the ground meat and stir again. Mix in each frozen vegetable and the parsley. Make sure everything is totally mixed together and add in the the chicken broth. Stir one more time - yes, your arm is getting a good workout! Now add the filtered water to fill the dish just barely covering the food. You should have added about 4-8 more cups of water.

Cover tightly and place in a 325 oven. If you make the full recipe, check it at 2 hours and stir gently. Cover again and remove the casserole after 3 hours or so.

You will know it is done because the edges will be slightly brown and it will look like a meatloaf. The grains and vegetables should be very mushy. Dogs can only absorb the nutrients from well cooked vegetables and grains so overcooking is the way to go.

Let it cool slightly and then scoop into containers that you are able to place in the freezer. We use Ziploc storage containers that easily hold 715g each. Freeze the containers and thaw for a day or so in the refrigerator before using.

Dogs prefer the food slightly warm. We heat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds after measuring out their meals. This recipe feed Lulu and Phoebe for about 17 days.

Never cook the supplements with the food. It can destroy any value they have. You have to add them in at serving time. This is the only part that is annoying, but it takes such little effort, believe me! The hard work is finding the right supplements and since we've done that for you - this should be easy!

They need an omega-3, a human grade multivitamin, and calcium. One of the easiest to absorb sources for calcium is bone meal. The human grade vitamin should be without iron and not have more than 100% of an RDA. The Omega-3 should be a deep sea fish oil and not cod liver. Some dogs have sensitivities to cod liver oil so avoid that source.

  • Calcium - NOW brand 100% pure bone meal powder, 454g container
  • Vitamin - Whole Foods 365 Brand Adult Multi one a day, iron free formula
  • Omega 3- Nordic Naturals Omega-3 liquid purified fish oil, 8oz.

Since calcium can hinder absorption of other minerals and vitamins and vice versa, we give them the multi vitamin at one meal and the bone meal/Omega-3 at another. Just a thought.

Each get: 1/2 multivitamin daily, 1/4 teaspoon of Omega-3 daily, and 1/2 teaspoon of bone meal daily.

You might think this is a pretty good diet and it is. But like humans, animals need variety in order to get a full spectrum of nutrients. To their daily meal we will add the following items.

Greek yogurt (has probiotics)
a tiny bit of fruit (never grapes)

a tiny bit of fresh fish, poached
a sprinkle of cheese
extra oatmeal
rice brain
extra cooked veggies
hard boiled egg
peanut butter (not right now)

scrambled egg
dried fruit (never raisins)

Bon Appetit Sweet Puppies!

Please, if you have questions or any feedback about this recipe or the diet in general, use the comment section. Thanks!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fantastic Profiteroles and Eclairs sans Gluten

gluten free eclairs

gluten free profiteroles

In France, eclairs are the size of soccer fields or more specifically, airport runways. You almost need a baguette bag to carry one eclair, they are that big. You would expect that one eclair could be dessert for a whole family, but it isn't so at all. I saw the tiniest and most petite women eat a whole eclair often.

In my little bakery nearby, the eclairs are dainty and short. I like them better that way. It is enough to make you happy and less than enough to make you wish you hadn't eaten the whole thing. And it is quite clear there is no need to share. But alas, they do not bake gluten free.

In honor of the craving we have, this is the recreated gluten free eclair, and just to be a smarty pants, we added a pate choux profiterole to the plate too. Great for those who can't figure out which one to take home. Eat them both!

The dough is the same, and is pretty easy to make, gluten free or not. The custardy filling is easy too. The hard part for both is the amount of time and attention they need. Also, be prepared for a kitchen hurricane! This takes so many bowls and pots, I often wish for a dish washing elf (Lulu?). If you have the time and want to impress, well, everyone, make these! And best of all, you can make a ton of them for pennies compared to the cost of purchasing them from a bakery.

Gluten Free Custard Filled, Chocolate Profiteroles & Eclairs

the cast of characters

Ingredients - Pate Choux Dough for eclairs and profiteroles

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick butter cut up into 8 pieces
  • teaspoon of sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 3 large eggs

Ingredients - Vanilla Custard Filling

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup half/half
  • Large (moist) vanilla bean scraped, or teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar (a matter of taste)
  • 1/4 (scant!) cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons butter cut into pieces

Ingredients - Chocolate Glaze or Ganache

  • 1 cup cream
  • 8-9 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup

Directions - Pate Choux Dough

In a good size saucepan heat the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter. Bring to a light boil. While that heats up, mix the flour with the xanthan gum. As soon as it boils add the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon like crazy, and keep stirring until the dough comes together and is shiny. The bottom of the pan will develop a crust, but keep stirring over low heat for about a minute more.

the liquid
adding the gf flour to the simmering liquid

keep stirring the shiny pate choux dough

Dump the ball of dough into a large bowl or stand mixer. Let it sit for no more than 5 minutes to cool slightly. Add the eggs while mixing on medium speed one at a time, incorporating the egg fully before adding another one. The dough will look like it is falling apart but by the time you finish it will look fine. Keep mixing for about another 30 seconds after the last egg is added until the dough comes together. It will look shiny and sticky, but won't form a ball.

add one egg at a time

last of the eggs

If you can pipe, use a 1/2 inch tip and pipe the dough onto parchment or silpat covered baking sheets into little mounds for pate choux, or little logs for eclairs. Depending on how big you want to make them, you can get anywhere from 4 of each to 6 of each.

piped profiteroles ready for oven

Immediately place in a 375 degree oven and leave it until they are nice and brown. That should take about 25 minutes, but check after 15 minutes.

profiteroles nicely browned

eclairs lightly browned

Remove them from the oven and slice a little slit into each one to let the steam escape and place it back in the oven which is now turned off, but still warm. Leave them in there for another 30 minutes to continue drying.

Remove and let the eclairs cool. Once cool, use a serrated knife and slice the tops off so that they can be filled. Remove the inner dough until you have a nice little cavity to fill with pastry cream. Leave them out to dry a little bit while you prepare the pastry cream.

off with their heads

Directions - Pastry Cream

Heat up the milk and half/half until warm and add the vanilla and the beans. Turn the heat off and cover. Leave it for about 15 minutes to infuse the milk with vanilla.

infusing milk with vanilla bean

Prepare two bowls, one slightly bigger than the other. In the larger one add some ice and set the smaller bowl on the ice. It should be large enough to hold the pastry cream mixture. Add to that bowl, a mesh strainer which you will use to push the cream through to eliminate any lumps.

ice bath and strainer for pastry cream

Meantime, mix the sugar and cornstarch together and add the egg yolks and mix with a whisk until smooth. Add some of the hot vanilla milk to the sugar/egg mixture to temper the eggs and warm them up. Then add that to the warm vanilla milk and turn the heat up to medium. Keep whisking the mixture until it comes to a boil. Simmer at a low boil for a minute or two and remove from the heat.

whisk until thick

Immediately turn the pastry cream into the mesh strainer and stir and push it through into the bowl that is sitting on the ice. Once all the pastry cream is in the bowl, stir to cool the mixture a bit. Remove the bowl from the ice and add the butter and whish to incorporate as it melts. Then return the bowl to the ice and let it sit for about 15 minutes, stirring often until the pastry cream is chilled.

straining gets rid of lumps

strained, smooth pastry cream

Using a small spoon, fill each pate choux and eclair as much as you like and place the top back on. Line them up on a wire rack on the baking sheet for the chocolate topping fun.

happily stuffed, ready for chocolate

Directions - Chocolate Topping

Place the chocolate in a bowl and heat the cream in a small saucepan until it simmers to a low boil. Pour that over the chocolate and leave it alone for a minute. Then begin stirring until the cream and chocolate are totally smooth. Add the butter and the light corn syrup and stir until incorporated.

Let the mixture sit for a minute or two until still warm but not hot. Using a spoon pour chocolate over each pastry. Let them set for a few minutes.

simmering the cream

adding the hot cream to chocolate, keep stirring!

ah, chocolate

Refrigerate. Leave out for a short time before serving for best flavor. They taste even better the second day.

Bon Appetit!

eclairs taste great with espresso

profiteroles taste great with more espresso

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Grandma Annie's Pound Cake, Gluten Free

Gluten Free Pound Cake with Berries

Sometimes a girl needs a little bit of pound cake. And if you are a gluten free girl, finding tasty pound cake is like looking for the perfect bra. It just doesn't exist. Unless you learn how to make it yourself.

With a little help from Cooks Illustrated, we recreated a simple cold oven pound cake into a cold oven gluten free pound cake that is outrageously tasty.

Cold oven recipes are great because I often forget to preheat the oven. Finally, a recipe that serves the forgetful. Unlike dense pound cakes, this one has a light crumb, but with all the flavor of heavy duty pound cake. And the gluten free version does not disappoint!

A new gadget arrived in Lulu & Phoebe's Gluten Free Test Kitchen this past week. It is called the Sideswipe, a paddle attachment to the Kitchen Aid that actually scrapes the sides of the bowl as it mixes. To bakers everywhere, this could be the holy grail of gadgets. So much of our time using the big stand mixers is spent stopping the thing and scraping the sides. Sideswipe does it for you without stopping. You can see for yourself in the photos below. A miracle I tell you! A miracle. All except for the flour addition.

I added the flour (gluten free, of course) at the slowest speed and it hit the ceiling, my face, the dogs, and the island on the other side of the counter. Apparently all the kinks are not worked out with Sideswipe. Its little fins toss the stuff up and out as you add it.

This is going to be one of my new favorite recipes. It takes minutes to whip up (except for mopping up the floured kitchen ceiling). You can change it up with a little lemon or orange zest, tiny chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or toffee bits if you are 1 Irritated Mother. I bet berries would be great too.

Gluten Free Cold Oven Tasty Pound Cake

cast of characters


  • 3 cups of gluten free flour*
  • 1.5 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or less!)
  • 1 cup of milk plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, very soft
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar (a bit less is fine)
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature


Grease and flour (gf) a large bundt or tube pan (16 cups).

Mix the flour, xantan gum, baking powder and salt together in a bowl until combined and set aside. Mix together the milk, vanilla and almond flavorings in another small bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer, or with a handheld mixer, on medium speed, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time on medium speed. Really! One. At. A. Time!

Sideswipe in action with the butter & sugar

Next with the mixer on the lowest setting add the flour mixture alternating with the milk mixture until it is all incorporated. Mix it on low until smooth, just a few seconds. You don't want to over mix the batter.

adding in the gluten free flour

and the gluten free flour flies out

Give it one more stir with a spatula or wooden spoon. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and then give it a bang on the counter top to remove any air bubbles.

pouring into the prepared bundt

ready to bake in the cold oven

Place the cake in the cold oven and turn the temperature to 325. Bake for about 16 hours until a toothpick comes out clean. Seriously, it takes a long time to bake, so be patient. Start checking at 45 minutes and anywhere from 75 to 85 minutes it should be done. Keep those toothpicks handy because you want to take it out as soon as it comes out without batter attached to it.

finally done after 85 minutes!

Let it cool on a rack in the pan for about 20 minutes and then flip it out onto a wire rack to finish cooling, if you can wait that long.

cooling on a wire rack

The cake is great the first day, even better the second and lasts for about 4 days wrapped tightly in foil. I keep mine in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature to serve.

Bon Appetit!

yes, I am eating two slices
* I like to use Authentic Brands Gluten Free flour for cakes, the gourmet featherweight blend. I use the classic blend for cookies.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Simple Gluten Free Valentine's Kiss

Meringue Kisses with Nutella

If you are one of those last-minute-gifters looking for a Valentine goody, stand still for a minute. These Meringue Kisses are just what you were looking for. I bet you have all the ingredients in your house already. They take no time at all to make and are a perfect gift for the one(s) you love.

Wrap them up in cellophane with a red bow, or serve them for dessert. They last for days and taste great with a little bit of espresso or tea.


  • 4 egg whites (large eggs!)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 14/ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • nutella, or melted bittersweet chocolate


Preheat oven to 225. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpats.

Crack the eggs carefully. No yolks in the whites! Pop the whites into a stand mixer if you have one, or in a bowl and add the vanilla and almond and the salt. Whisk away on high until frothy but no peaks are formed.

a few seconds to froth

Mix the sugar with the cornstarch (no lumps) and with the mixer on medium pour the sugar mixture in a steady stream at the edge of the bowl until it is incorporated. Scrape the bowl once with a spatula to make sure all the sugar is incorporated. Now whiz on highest speed until stiff peaks form and the stuff looks glossy. Should take less than a minute.

glossy and ready to pipe

If you are brave, use a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip, or a ziplock bag to pipe the Meringues onto the cookie sheets. If that makes you nervous, just spoon little blobs on the cookie sheet and use a twist of the spoon to shape them into little kisses. They should look homemade so don't worry about perfection! You can place them very close together on the cookie sheets.

ready to bake

Bake 30 minutes and rotate the baking sheets. Add another 35 minutes to the cooking time and then turn off the oven and don't open the door! Leave them in there another 60 minutes. Remove and let them cool before handling.


While they cool, gently melt the chocolate (in a water bath or the microwave) or nutella until spreadable. Let the mixture cool somewhat. Take two Meringues and spread some nutella or chocolate on the bottom of one cookie. Attach the other cookie (a sandwhich) and there is your kiss. Let them cool a bit before packaging.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Flourless Double Shot Espresso Cookies

a gift for yourself, cookies and espresso

The Muses, Lulu & Phoebe, present you with a double shot of Espresso in these Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cookies.

These cookies are simple to make and look impressive. And since they are flourless, they are easier than anything in the universe including those plastic slice and bake wonders at the grocery.

Like the really chocolaty brownies, these taste even better the second day. Be sure to store them in a tin. That way the edges stay crunchy and the center fudgy.

This recipe is inspired in part by Francois Payard's Flourless Chocolate Cookies and a top dog secret recipe from the pastry chef at The Beverly Peninsula Hotel who gave it to Lulu and Phoebe.

Lulu & Phoebe’s Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cookie

Makes about 12-15 cookies. You can make them smaller and the yield will be larger. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You will bake them at 325 degrees.


  • Big bowl.
  • Wooden spoon.
  • Measuring thingies.
  • Baking sheets with parchment or silpats.
  • A great big mesh strainer for sifting.
  • Whisks.
  • A mixer: stand or handheld.
  • Baking sheets with parchment or silpats.
this cast of characters


  • 4 large eggs, whites only
  • ½ tablespoon of vanilla
  • ½ tablespoon freshly made espresso or dark coffee
  • 2 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup of Valrhona or Droste unsweetened cocoa (available at Whole Foods)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 cup of finely ground espresso beans (ground for an espresso machine)
  • 8 oz. of chopped toasted pecans

Notes: Since the chocolate is pretty much the major ingredient you want the best unsweetened cocoa you can find. The espresso can be purchased at any good coffee shop. You can use decaf if you want. Ask them to grind it as finely as they can. Trader Joe’s is a great place to find toasted chopped nuts in small packages.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Separate the eggs and set aside the yolks for something else. Whisk the egg whites, the vanilla and the espresso in a measuring cup or other small bowl (see photo). Set aside.

whisk the liquid stuff together

Sift the powdered sugar through the strainer into a large bowl. Next sift the cocoa into the same bowl. Do the same with the ground espresso. Add the pinch of salt. Whisk (careful or it will create a cloud) together the dry ingredients (see photos).

sifting powdered sugar
sifting cocoa
sifting in ground espresso
whisk the sifted ingredients together

Pour in the liquid and using a whisk attachment on the stand mixer, mix on low until incorporated. Turn it up to medium and whisk for a few minutes until glossy-ish (see photos).

pour in liquids
mix until glossy

Mix in the nuts with a wooden spoon. The dough will be stiff (see photo).

mix in nuts with a wooden spoon

Using almost a quarter cup scoop, place about 5 scoops on one cookie pan lined with parchment or silpats. Do the same with another cookie sheet (see photo). Although dough will spread, flatten with a fork prior to baking.

cookie dough on silpat

Place in oven, two sheets at a time. Turn oven down to 325 degrees. Bake about 10 minutes and rotate cookie sheets. Bake about 6-7 minutes more or until the tops slightly crack. They will look darker in the center (see photo).

cooling cookies

Let them cool on the cookie sheet. When really really cooled (not warm!) peel them off the silpat or parchment and turn upside down on a rack to continue to cool and dry.

Store in a tin for best cookie keeping. These taste better the second day. They will be crispy on the edges and very chewy in the center.

Notes: You have to sift the dry ingredients or risk lumps in the batter. It takes just a few minutes to get it through the strainer. Use a spoon or tap the edges against the bowl. Feel free to leave out the nuts or use another kind. Just be sure they are lightly toasted and chopped. Absolutely be sure to use parchment because these will stick, even on a silpat. You have to gently peel them off once they are cool.


ready to eat