Sunday, October 14, 2012

Not-So-Gluten-Free Chips

I wrote 90% of this post almost three months ago.  Then Parker interrupted me, and I somehow never returned. Inertia being what it is, I never posted it, and never returned, despite good intentions.  Part of it was the school year starting up again, but mostly, I just got out of the habit.  I hope to change that now that I've adapted a bit to the trick of balancing the school year, a toddler, and an infant. (The trick is to get things done in the 45 minutes span of time after the kids go to sleep and before I hit the wall).  I have at least three other posts partially done, so the next couple of weeks should be painless enough to get me back in the habit.  Hooray!  Also, this is a bit picture-shy as I managed to lose the final-product pictures somehow.  Shame on me.

In my quest to explore gluten-free foods, I scoured the bulk section of Winco for any unusual flour. I didn't do much research other than looking up a few recipes and noticing they all called for either a pre-mixed “gluten-free blend” or a wide variety of flours. I figured if I went through and bought all the unusual flours I could, I'd be set up.

In a way, I was right. I had a variety to work with and was able to make a few delicious treats. I made one glaring error, though. Spelt. Sneaky, devious, delicious spelt flour. As it turns out, spelt is a cousin of wheat. It's far enough removed that people with wheat allergies can still eat it...but closely related in that it contains gluten. Which explains a lot about the reaction my sister-in-law had to the supposedly safe meal I fed her. I feel bad about that.
It even LOOKS like wheat flour

That means that the spelt tortilla chips I made, while delicious, are not gluten-free like I had thought. This bums me out a bit, since after my failure with crackers, I thought I had redeemed myself with a crispy gluten-free snack option. Foiled again.

Making these chips starts with making the tortillas themselves, and the process is very similar to making a flour tortilla. I used this recipe. I meant to replace the oil with lard, as I do with flour tortillas, but forgot. I was hungry, and not thinking straight; please forgive me.

The tortillas, like most of the gluten-free recipes I tried, were a little on the sticky side (therefore reinforcing my misconceptions about spelt). They cooked up quickly and just slightly denser than a flour tortilla, similar to the difference between white and whole-wheat bread. Which, in retrospect, makes a lot of sense.

They cook up nicely - more on the order of corn torts
I couldn't just leave these as tortillas, though, because the entire endeavor began with a craving for nachos. Not only was the pantry devoid of tortilla chips, my sister-in-law can't eat corn. Therefore, we had to make our own chips. Making chips from tortillas is pretty simple, and (as with most things made at home) healthier than the processed option.

I cut the tortillas into chip-sized wedges and then baked them. I wanted them to be lightly salted but not overly so and I didn't want too much oil involved. To solve this, I sprayed the baking sheet lightly with cooking spray and then sprinkled salt on it before laying down the tortilla wedges. I lightly sprayed and salted the tops, then threw them in the oven for a few minutes on each side. They came out with a crispy exterior and just a hint of chewiness in the middle.

Chips!  Wonderful chips!  You'll have to imagine them as nachos, because that picture is lost.
I couldn't let it end there - nachos, remember? I topped them with chopped chicken (left over from the night before), pico de gallo, and grated pepperjack and cheddar cheese, then tossed the whole mess under the broiler to melt it into a pile of amazing goodness.

The flavor was great – somewhat like wheat (gee, wonder why?) and just barely salty. I will definitely make these again. I just won't feed them to Megan.

2 cups spelt flour
½ tsp salt
¼ c oil
2/3 c warm water
*Pre-heat oven to 415
*Heat a cast-iron griddle over high heat, then turn down to 7-8 on the dial OR use an electric griddle set to 375.Add water to flour until you have a dough that is soft but not sticky. If the dough is too sticky, just add a little flour.
*Working with 1.5 ounce pieces (ping-pong ball size), either roll or press into 6-inch tortillas.
*Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, until dark spots begin to form.
*Put on a plate and cover with a damp towel until all tortillas are cooked.
*Stack the tortillas 2-3 high and cut into 8 wedges
*Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with salt.
*Lay out wedges in a single layer (you may need to do this in two batches).
*Lightly sprat the top of the wedges with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt.
*Bake for 6-8 minutes on each side.

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