Archive for the ‘gluten-free’ Category

Cassoulet – Daring Cooks Challenge

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

I have had duck confit in France, and it was really tasty. When I made it with the duck available here it was ok, but not as good.  Cassoulet is a signature dish and is on many restaurant menus in the southwest of France, but I never have ordered it because there are so many other dishes to try.

I have made Cassoulet before as well, and it was good but not really memorable.   This time I followed the recipe from Anthony Bourdain that is in the Daring Cooks recipe.  I made confit using chicken rather than duck, and used a combination of olive oil and butter rather than the difficult to find (in this area) duckfat.  For beans I used navy beans.

The chicken confit was cooked in a slow cooker, varying the temp setting between low and high, trying to keep it from boiling.  The aroma of the confit was devine.  For the Cassoulet I used a good pork sausage that had no gluten fillers in it.  The confit was made one day, the beans the next, then the Cassoulet assembled the next, and baked again the following day for a comfort food dinner party.

The final baking smelled devine, and the Cassoulet was delicoius.  Everyone had seconds, always a good sign!.  I really liked the fact that on the day of the dinner all I had to do was reheat the Cassoulet and make a salad to go with it. 

Greg and I ate the leftovers the next two days, and they just got better.

In terms of next steps, the confit was interesting, but the Cassoulet would be great without it as well.  I will definitely make this again when I want a conforting meal with friends.

Here is a link to the daring bakers recipes.  Thanks to Jenni and Lisa for getting me to make Cassoulet again with a better method.

Raspberry Bavarian Cake

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

I had several people coming for a New Year’s Day dinner, and wanted to make something new to start the culinary year.  After several minutes, no I confess hours, reading cookbooks, I settled on a recipe on the Tartelette blog.  If you love pastry you must visit Helene’s blog.  Not only is she a fantastic baker, her photography is absolutely mouthwatering, and  her photos give me inspiration for the skills I aspire to reach.

The technique for this cake was to make dacquoise layers.  They are basically merangue layers with almonds in them.  I have made similar cookies before but this was my first cake type dacquoise.  The server on her website seems to be down today, so I will revise and post a link later.  You can just search under Tartelette and the blog usually comes up.  It is called Raspberry Rose Bavarian Cream Cake on her blog.

I revised the recipe by using corn starch instead of flour so that the cake would be gluten free for Greg.  I also did not have rose water so I used orange flower water instead.  The layers turned out great, but perhaps a little soft.  In reading other dacquoise recipes such as Julia Child, they did not have any starch in them, maybe that makes them more crunchy.  Anyway, the really useful technique that I learned in making this cake was to make the raspeberry layer.  You cook the frozen berries until they are dissolved, then add the gelatin, cool, and FREEZE them in a 1/4 sheet cookie pan.  When you assemble the cake there is no mess with trying to spread out a thin layer, you just unwrap your thin little package of raspberry ice sheet and plunk it down on top of the dacquoise layer.  When I have tried to spread soft gooey fillings on other cakes I often end up with crumbs and a messy layering, so this technique is really useful. I was concerned that there might be too much gelatin, but the cake tasted great, and the layers did not melt at all even when the cake had warmed to room temperature.

The bavarian cream recipe is delicious.  It is a pastry cream that is cooked, gelatin added, cooled, then whipped cream is beaten and added to the mixture. The final cake was assembled and refrigerated for a few hours.  I never got the lemon layer made, and really the cake was terrific, I’m not sure the lemon layer is needed, but it does add a warm sheen to the cake in the Tartelette Pictures.  I have frozen the leftovers, so this is a cake you could make all ahead.

Anyway, My guests seemed to enjoy the cake, and this technique could be flavoured in many different ways, so this recipe is highly recommended, but does take a little time to make all the components.  I think maybe the next one could be mango with orange slices on top, ot maybe strawberry and banana, the possibilities are endless!!  Thanks to Helene from Tartelette for the recipe, and you must visit her blog.  Also, here is another example of the cake on the blog Mad Baker

Crab Souffle…A Daring Cooks Challenge

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose Soufflés as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge! Dave and Linda provided two of their own delicious recipes plus a sinfully decadent chocolate soufflé recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe found at the BBC Good Food website.

I have to compliment Dave and Linda, their explanation and pictures were great, and a nouveau souffle baker would be able to follow their directions easily.

I have made souffles before when I was younger and trying to learn about French cooking.  Souffles were considered very exotic, so of course I wanted to make some.  My early attempts all turned out, and chocolate was the one I remember making. However, since I have mot made many since, I guess that although they are interesting, souffles are not at the top of my extensive food loving list.

For this challenge I wanted to try a seafood souffle, inspired by some of the ones I saw in the Daring Cooks posts.  I decided to look through my several French cookbooks, and guess what, there were very few souffle recipes in them.  Finally I went to my foundational French cookbook, Julia Child’s  Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and of course she has a wonderful section that thoroughly explains souffles and gives a generic recipe and variations. So, I ended up using her recipe but using cornstarch and buckwheat flour to make it gluten free.  For the additions I used 3/4 cup of canned crab (ok ok for purists, it was what I had in the cupboard!) and about 1/4 cup of chopped up marinated artichokes.  I spiced it with a tsp of Dijon mustard, and some fresh grated nutmeg (see, I am not a cooking Cretin, I did use fresh grated nutmeg!).  As you can see from the picture, all the sizes of souffles rose to the occasion, and watching them in the oven was the best part of the cooking entertainment experience. The souffle tasted delicious and had a delicate texture and good flavour (ok I have to admit fresh crab would have been better.)

The other souffle memory I do have is that my mother often made a family favourite dessert called lemon pudding.  Well guess what, turns out it was a souffle and we all loved it.  I think one time my brother wanted a whole batch of lemon souffle for himself on his birthday. If you want a souffle recipe they are on the Daring Cooks website now.

Doughnuts: Daring Bakers October Challenge

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

When I was a kid my grandmother made the most delicious doughnuts.  There was no Tim Horton’s then! She made cake versions, and in my mind still these are the doughnuts I love to eat.  My grandmother always had these covered in sugar in a cookie can for us.  There was never any variation, and in my mind this was because they were perfect!.  They were always spiced with nutmeg and dunked in sugar.  My grandmother’s recipes live in various versions in my family.  My version has no amount of flour, you were just supposed to know when the dough was right. I used to make them at Christmas as a treat for my children, who looked forward to helping make them and eating them.

I rarely make doughnuts now due to calories and also because my husband, one of the fans, has to have gluten free now.  So with this challenge, I made a gluten free version.  I did not use the daring bakers gluten free recipe because it has mainly rice flour, which I cannot use due to allergies.  So I used a recipe directly from The Gluten Free Kitchen by Robin Ryberg (See my gluten free section for information about this book which I recommend as a first intro to baking gluten free).

I will post the recipe later.There were so good you could not really tell they were gluten free. Mmmmmm….good thing I did an hour of walking this morning!

Zucchini Pickles….or what to do with a jumbo zucchini

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

I have done a lot of preserving over the years, so decided to make an interesting recipe that can be kept in the fridge or freezer.  The best thing about these pickles is that they are very crisp.  Despite several tries and different recipes, I have never gotten really crisp pickles that are heat preserved.

I think this recipe would work fine with cucumbers instead of zucchini.

This recipe is adapted from a cookbook that is probably no longer in print, called Quick Pickles, Easy recipes with Big Flavor, by Chris Schlesinger, John Willoughby, and Dan George. The book is all quick pickles, and I have made several variations from the book, so if you can find it it is great.

Curried Zucchini Pickles

This recipe is originally for refrigerator storage, and will keep for about 6 weeks.  However, after making another recipe for freezer ice box pickles, I experimented and discovered that these keep very well frozen, and stay crisp for about a week in the fridge once thawed.  I used a really big (5 lbs) zucchini with a tough skin, and it worked great after scraping out the seeds and pithy stuff from the centre.

Even people who don’t like zucchini like these.



Stage 1, Salting the veggies:

3 pounds zucchini

1 or 2 red peppers, cut into small pieces

3 medium size onions, peeled and sliced into thin rings

¼ cup coarse salt

Adding the grapes:

1 cup red or green grapes, cut in half

(Note, these go in after the brining step, do not add in step one)

The spiced pickling mixture:

2 3/4 cups cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups orange juice

3/4 cup sherry (amontillado)

2 cups sugar

1 T curry powder

½ tsp cayenne or ancho chili powder

1 tsp whole cloves

1 tsp whole allspice berries

Fresh ginger, about 1″, cut into fine strips

3 cloves garlic (optional)

Cut the zucchini into thin 1/8 inch little wedges.  If using a really whopper zucchini, then scrape out the inside seeds and pithy interior.  You can peel the zucchini, but I prefer it left green.

Place all this in a glass bowl, mix in the salt, and let sit for an hour. The salt will extract the juices, and the pile of zucchini will shrink.  This is why the pickles stay crisp.

Rinse the veggies three times to get all the salt out.  Place back in the bowl, and add the grapes.

Make the spice mixture in a saucepan, simmer for a couple minutes,  and pour over the vegetables.  Pack into jars that have been rinsed in boiling water first to sterilize.  For refrigerator  storage I use quarts and for freezing I use half or quarter pints so that I only defrost a small portion since they only stay crisp for a week at most, and are best the first cou0ple days.

These are good to eat  in a couple hours, but best starting the next day.  They must be kept in the fridge or freezer.

Baked Pakoras….Delicious!

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I love pakoras, the Indian snack food that is usually deep fried. I usually make them and freeze them.  They are a great item to bring to dinner parties for an h’ors d’oeuvre as they can be baked from frozen fairly quickly.  Anyway, although I love them, they are a lot of work to make, a lot of mess with the deep frying, and I dont even want to know the calories in them!

To make a long story short, I wondered about baking them instead, and when I searched the internet I found that others had had the same thought.  Anyway, I just adapted my favourite pakora recipe from the cookbook The Dance of Spices (my most reliable and delicious of my many Indian cookbooks, by Laxmi Hiremath), and was I ever impressed.  Not only do they taste great, but they freeze and also reheat well.  Even better, the batter and vegetables can be made a sit a couple days in the fridge until you get time to bake them.  I read that the batter actually ferments a little, and this improves the flavor.

I made the batter, chopped the vegetables (I used cauliflower, eggplant, onion, potato (the red waxy type), and fresh cilantro. I found that baking them in the tiny size muffin tins worked well. I sprayed the top of the batter with a little olive oil to mimic a deep fried taste.  I find they need to bake for about 40 minutes, and can even be left a little longer depending on how crisp you want the crust.  I have made these three times in the last couple weeks.  They reheat well in the mocrowave and make a great snack or side dish at mealtime.  There are many recipes for pakoras on the internet.  Let me know if you want me to post one too.

Another good thing for many of you, pakoras use only chick pea flour and a little rice flour, so they are gluten free and quite nutritious.

A Couple Practical Ideas

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

I know of flours in gluten free recipes compared to some of popular cookbooks, but I do find the best results this way. My goal is not only the taste, but make the flour mixes as nutritional as possible. I avoid the rice flour as not only nutritionally inferior, but in my opinions creates dry and tasteless baked goods. Anyway, after trying all sorts of organizations, I have come up with this method using zipper bags, and it not only keeps the flours organized, it is really easy to scoop out amounts and just leave them in their organized row. I just pack this all up in box and keep the flours in freezer until the next time I bake. I use almost all flours grind myself in nutrimill, and freezing them is not necessary but does keep the flavour top notch.

I caved of spray grease several years ago when I found out that even my mother, a wonderful baker, was using it. It is easy to use, and have always hated greasing pans. However, I have really trying to more environmentally friendly, and the spray grease is not only expensive, it leaves a lot of waste cans polluting the environment. So, I did remember using a lecithin mix many years ago when I baked copius loaves of bread. The problem with my previous use of lecithin was that you had to use a brush, which inevitably got very grimy and difficult to clean and store. On a recent trip to the local bulk store I was thrilled to find a silicone brush that has the little holes that retain liquid better the plain ones, and a jar of lecithin for only 5.99. After researching several methods on the internet, I ended up making my own version, and it works perfectly. The mix is 2 tsp lecithin, dissolved in 1/4 cup of vodka. Lecithin is an emulsifier, so this mix stays together. Grease the pans with the silicone brush before baking. I found the mix recipes had less lecithin, and the first batch with one teaspoon worked, but not as well as spray grease. The additional teaspoon solved this. The other method is oil instead of vodka. Oil is cheaper, so maybe will try that run out of this. I remember the oil mixture had used in past was pretty gooey, so wanted to try the vodka. Works like a charm, and no spray grease cans to worry about.

Here is close up the middle of brush. This one was good grips brand. These are easy to wash, even put them in dishwasher.

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Daring Bakers-Swiss Ice Cream Cake

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

(Note:  Recipes added at the end of post now.)

This is the baby version, made in a small souflee dish.  We ate it tonight for dessert, and it was yummy, plated on banana slices.

The final cake is in the freezer gelling right now, so I will add a picture to this post when I cut the cake. The Daring Bakers recipes are here and the Daring Bakers site has picture of the results right now on their site

After ruminating on what flavour combination I would experiment with, I developed a gluten free peanut butter chocolate version with one ice cream made of peanuts, and the other banana.  I love the combo of peanuts, banana, and chocolate.  I made the sponge cake adapting a recipe from The Low Carb Gourmet by Karen Barnaby that normally has almonds, but I added a little over half the nut mix using peanuts.  The resulting cake was excellent, and I will post this recipe soon. It is gluten free, and would also be a great cake.  For the ice cream, I adapted a recipe from Pure Desserts by Alice Medrich that was originally for sesame ice cream.  I had no milk, so I used buttermilk, and this gives an interesting flavour with a hint of sour edge that counteracts the sweetness.  Recipe to come.

I followed the steps in the Daring Bakers recipe, and all worked well. I made some little versions in souflee dishes as well.

I will be adding more to this post soon, but wanted to get this up to meet the challenge deadline for the blogroll.  Thanks to Sunita for an interesting challenge.

Peanut Butter Buttermilk Ice Cream

I should call this a mistake, but really it was because I had no milk so I used buttermilk, and it is really good!

1 cup whip cream

1 cup buttermilk

¼  cup peanut butter

¼ cup sugar

Blend all this, then refrigerate, then process in an ice cream maker or take it out a lot and stir it up while freezing it.  I wanted this to be only semi sweet sue to the other sweet ingredients in the ice cream cake, so taste and add a little sugar if you like it sweeter.

Gluten Free Sponge Cake

This recipe is very useful when you need a sponge cake that you can add flavourings to for compound type desserts with a cake component (tira misu, etc.) Sometimes I use sugar, and sometimes I used the spenda.  This was adapted from The Low Carb Gourmet by Karen Barnaby.



½ cup almond meal

¾ cup peanuts ground fine (but stop before they turn to butter)

(Note:  You can use all almonds or a different proportion of the 2 nuts but make a total of 1 ¼ cup)

1 tsp baking powder

6 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup sugar plus 2 T splenda (approx)

  • Put parchment paper and light mist of cooking spray on a jelly roll size pan.  (Or you can use any shape pan, but this should be a thin cake in order to rise best.)Spread grease around with your fingers (ie, you want a really thin layer)
  • Combine the nut meal, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  • Place eggs and sweeteners (sugar, splenda, or a combination) in large bowl and beat with whisk on electric mixer for several minutes until they have a foam that is thick and will hold the path if a spoon is in it (ie, the consistency you would use for sponge cake)
  • Gently fold in the almond mixture.
  • Spread in jelly roll pan lined with parchment.
  • Bake at 350 until done (about 15 minutes or so, depends on your oven. )

Nut Butters – Daring Cooks Challenge

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.  The recipes are here

I have made some nut butters before, but this challenge prompted me to try some additional butters and to use them in recipes.

The recipe for Chicken with Pecan Cream and Mushrooms appealed to me first, so here it is in the above picture.  The pecan butter was easily made in the food processor, and the remaining recipe was easy to do and quick. The resulting taste test proved that this is an easy and tasty meal.  Although this was very good, I might turn up the spicing a little next time as it was a little bland. It is gluten free as long as you serve it on a non gluten starch (I used mashed potatoes, my favourite, after all I am from PEI.)

Newest designer vegetable (I saw this in a cooking magazine headline!) Look at the greens on the plate, they are not green beans, they are garlic scapes from my garden. These are the flowering stalk of hard shell garlic that Greg plants in the fall.  The scapes are usually ready in late June here, and it is important that they are picked when the stalk does a 360 turn and just before the flower bud gets too large.  They are delicious, the flavour is like asparagus with built in garlic.  They freeze well using green bean instructions (ie, parboil, cool in ice water, and bag.)

The next recipe I tried was the Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing.  This recipe is a definite keeper!  I happened to have some good cashews in the freezer, so I made the cashew version.  This makes a delicious dressing that is good on hot or cold noodles, or as a dipping sauce.  The only change I made to the recipe was to reduce the sugar from three tablespoons and instead used 2 teaspoons.  I do not like really sweet sauces, and anyway with sugar on the healthwise front less is more.  I put them on boiled and cooled whole wheat salba noodles, but this would be a gluten free meal on rice or quinoa instead, I occasionally have to have a wheat fix and let Greg make do with another starch!

For the understudy salad to make the picture appeal to your eyes first (let’s face it, isn’t that what you look at first  on my blog?) I raided the garden for greens (I found arugula, romaine, leaf lettuce, and spinach), even though they are a little bitter given the recent hot weather.  I also added mint leaves and nasturtium garnishes, and they actually added to the taste very well, especially the mint leaves.

Asian Salad with Cashew Nut Butter and Mint Leaves

Thanks you to the Natasha and Margie, this was a really interesting challenge and I am even going to make the rest of the recipes!  Overall, Nut Butter rocks!!

Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Cream – Mmmmm

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

The recipe is on the Daring Bakers site here:  It was already gluten free so no tweaking needed.

I have made other recipes from the Francoise Payard cookbook and they have all been terrific, so I was looking forward to trying this challenge.  Although there were many steps, all the recipes are fairly easy.  In terms of the products, I prefer soft pavlovas, so these were too hard and dry compared to my usual merangues, so next time I would make them to my preferred degree of doneness with a soft centre.  The disadvantage to that is that they have to be eaten right away, so the dry merangues have some advantages.  The best part of this recipe was the mascarpone mousse.  It is wonderful, not too sweet, and absolutely full of velvety lushness (as Nigella Lawson might say!) I will make it again, and also the recipe has no eggs unlike most mousses so that is also helpful depending on who is allergic to eggs!

I had more stuff leftover so I also tried a deconstructed version in some verrines.  I am freezing them so I will see how well they come through this. Thank you to Dawn for a great challenge and making me explore more of the recipes in chocolate Epiphany.  PS – my favoutie recipe in the cookbook is the flourless  chocolate cookies, I may do a post on these later.

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