June 23rd, 2010

Let's discuss allergies... and dessert

A dear friend of mine hasn't eaten desserts in years. She has a disease (SIBO = small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and so can't eat legumes, carbs, or sugar. Of course, this has sparked my "AHA!!! CHALLENGE!!!" mode, and I'd really, really, really love to make her something that she can enjoy that doesn't taste like cardboard. She thinks that things sweetened with dates are okay, though she's not allowed to eat high-sugar fruits like apples (so maybe dates are out?).

She's not allowed to do sugar, fructose, rice flour, potato flour, chickpea flour, but can do soy and tree nuts.

I'm putting a call out for dessert recipes fitting this terribly narrow requirement. Anyone? It would be an amazing thing!!

EDITED to add: No artificial sweeteners. Her words "bacteria loves synthetic/chemical things, too"

Soup dumplings

I'd like to try making soup dumplings/xiao long bao based off of this recipe. (Warning: the dumpling filling and broth recipes there contain various animal products and it starts with a rhapsodic description of same. If you scroll past that, though, the recipe for the flour-water-oil wrapper and the slideshow of pleating the finished dumpling are extremely useful.)

1) I've never had a whit of luck making my own vegetable stock/broth, and most of the commercial ones have seasonings I don't like. Any ideas for how to create a Chinese-flavored broth? My partner suggested a corn-based broth, which might work well, but I'm not sure how to go about it.

2) The secret to getting the soup into the dumpling is to gel it and then mix the gelled broth into the filling; once you steam the dumpling, it melts. Obviously I'd use agar-agar for this, but I've never worked with it before. Any tips? Or do you just stir it into the hot broth and let it cool and enjoy the chemical miracle of gelling?

3) What are your favorite recipes for dumpling filling? Small-scale recipes would be ideal; I just want to make 16 of them for an appetizer the next time we have friends over. I have a strong preference for fillings that have some sort of protein. Tofu, mushrooms, legumes would all be fine.

It also occurs to me: commercial dumpling wrappers should be vegan, right? I'll be making these on a weeknight and while I would love to make my own wrappers, I don't think I'll have time.

Thanks in advance for your help!