Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Coconut Mistake Cake

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

This is without a doubt the best gluten free cake recipe I have developed so far.  Here’s the story behind the name.

I wanted to make a gluten free cake for G. and had the idea of a cocoanut cake.  I looked at a few recipes, then tried to adapt one from the Jean Pare Decadent Desserts cookbook.

The first time I made this it smelled great, very cocoanutty, and rose beautifully. When I took it out of the oven I smiled and figured I had accomplished something.  Then I happened to glance at the recipe and realized I had left out the sugar!  So, undaunted by this mistake, I made a sugar syrup and soaked the cake before icing it.  Overall, it was still a promising cake. The next time I made it I remembered the sugar, and it also came out fragrant and fluffy.  Anyway, I have since made this cake 4 times, each time tweaking the recipe a little bit.  You will groan at the number of flours I have used, so just substitute if you dont have all of them, but it might not be as good as mine then!

The most recent version of this cake was for G’s birthday, and everyone had seconds.  You really cannot tell this is a gluten free cake, it tastes like a moist, somewhat rich buttermilk cake.  I decorated the birthday cake with Johnny Jump Ups fresh from the garden, but when the birthday boy blew out the candles they all blew off! The naked cake still tasted delicious.

Coconut Mistake Cake

(Gluten Free)

This cake is scrumptiously full of coconut.  It is a substantial buttery cake that is ideal for a birthday or other special occasion. Use real buttermilk – no substitutes. The icing is very sweet.  You can cover most of the cake with the recipe, if you want really thick icing double the recipe.



½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

I tsp coconut flavouring

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add flavourings
Dry Ingredients:

Flours (total is 1 2/3 cup)

  • 1/4 cup garfava (bean) flour
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot or corn starch
  • 1/3 cup white buckwheat flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 Tbl quinoa flour
  • 3 Tbl amaranth flour
  • 2 T chestnut flour

1 tsp guar gum powder

1 Tbl baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1/3 cup ground almonds

Mix all dry ingredients together.  I have tried variations on the flours, but this mix is the best.
1 cup buttermilk

½ cup sweetened flaked coconut

Add the flour mixture and buttermilk in about three batches, Then stir the batter enough that there are no lumps.  I do this all in the mixer. Fold in the cocoanut last.
Bake in 2 – 8” round layer cake pans for about 20 – 30 minutes until lightly browned depending on your oven.  When done check with toothpick.  The cake will mound slightly in the middle and have a fairly firm texture.


½ cup unsalted butter

2 cups icing sugar

½ tsp coconut flavouring

¼ tsp vanilla

Dash of salt

Whip cream or milk – enough to moisten (1-2 Tbl)

Cream butter, add sugar and flavourings and beat until smooth.  Add just enough cream or milk to make the icing smooth (Do this a little at a time because it can get too runny quickly)

Spread thin layer on first cake, then top with flaked cocoanut.  Stack next layer and ice the top.  Do the sides if you have enough icing.

Pâté Anyone? Daring Cooks Challenge

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pate with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook’s challenge! They’ve provided us with 4 different pate recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

I used to make pâté quite a bit many years ago, but have not made any for quite a while, so I was looking forward to this challenge.  I chose the pork and liver recipe and  actually followed it to the letter (not something I am usually very good at!) I have a real French  pâté baking enameled pan that I almost gave away a couple years ago but then thought better of it.  The thick cast iron really bakes the pate slowly,  and the narrow shape is perfect, so I am glad I relented when I was in one of my get rid of clutter phases. This was the first time I tried a liver and pork combination.  It is absolutely scrumptions.  The spicing seemed a little light when I read the recipe, however due to the slow cooking and letting it mellow in the fridge for a day, the flavours are really subtle and quite delicious.  The other good thing is that there is no wheat in it.  Unfortunately wheat is often present in bought pâté, so this was a bonus as well.  The recipe is here at Daring Bakers

For the bread, due to gluten free needs for my hubbie I developed a recipe that was good as bread, but even better as crackers when they were twice baked like biscotti.  They came out so good that I also developed a wheat based version from another recipe, and frankly I can’t stop eating them. The crispy initial bite is followed by the mellow taste of wheat and a hint of rosemary.   So, both recipes are here for you following this post. This made a lot of pâté, so now I am trying an experiment – how does pâté  freeze?


Savory Gluten Free Parmesan Crisps

I developed this recipe starting with the concept in a recipe in a cookbook called Grazing by Julie Van Rosendaal to go with a Daring Cooks pate challenge.  It is very good as a quick bread right out of the oven, but also wonderful as a cracker or crisp if thinly sliced and baked again to dry. They are sort of like Raincoast Crisps, a popular but very expensive west coast cracker sold in Canada.

Ingredients Method
Dry Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup garfava flour
  • ¼ cup amaranth flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tap baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp (or more) dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp xanthum gum powder
  • ¼ cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
Combine dry ingredients. The total flour is 1 cup, so you can try other combinations.

Whisk the ingredients to distribute all the stuff.

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbl olive oil (I used extra virgin)
  • ¼ cup water
Add wet ingredients and mix a stiff batter.  Put in oiled small loaf pans then wet your gingers and push the sides of the batter down so the center is mounded up like a loaf.
Bake at 350, the time depends on the size of your pan, mine were very small load pans and they took about 15 – 20 minutes.  If making crisps, allow to cool, in fact even put the loaves in the freezer for a little while.  Then slice into 1/8 inch pieces and arrange on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 300 for about 12 minutes, then turn opver and bake again until crisp, about 12 minutes more.  Watch carefully towards the end because they go from crisp to overdone quickly.

Try spicing this with other spices like herbes de province, cumin and coriander, etc.  The cheese can also be left out.

Savory Wheat Crisps

I love a Canadian Cracker called Raincoast Crisps, but they are really expensive and sometimes hard to find here.  Julie Rosandaal, in her cookbook Grazing, has a recipe that is close to the bought versions, and I have made it several times with lots of creative tweaks.  This time I tried to develop a savory rendition of crisps.  They were so good as bread that I ate half a small loaf right out of the oven.  They are equally good dried as crisps.  And another great thing, there is no butter or eggs in this recipe, but because of the buttermilk they are moist and rich as a bread, and crisp as a cracker.



Dry Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 TBL amaranth flour
  • 2 Tbl buckwheat flour
  • 1 TBL almond meal powder (optional)
  • 2 T ground flax seeds
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbl brown sugar
  • 2 TBL chopped pecans
Mix together and blend thoroughly.

Re flax – grind your own meal in a coffee grinder, it is far better than bought

1 cup buttermilk Add buttermilk and mix quickly.  (Yes, there is no butter or eggs in this recipe!)
Bake at 350 in small loaf pans until the tops are cracked and slightly browned.  Allow to cool.  Eat fresh like this, or cool, even freeze for a little while, then slice very thin.  Bake at 300 on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes, then turn over and bake again for 15 minutes. Watch like a hawk at the end because they overcook easily.

Beets that Bleat – an Appetizer!

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I love beets and find that they are really versatile and can blend flavours in many different directions.  This appetizer is wonderful and eye candy as well, so I hope you will like it as much as all my testers have.

My most recent rendition of this recipe was for my parents friends on my recent trip to PEI.  So, this post is dedicated to Mum and Dad, Shirley, Verna, Ted, and Ray.  I really enjoyed our lunch!

I saw a picture of an appetizer like this while browsing the internet, so I had to try it because not only was it beautiful, it sounded delicious.    I roasted the beets with their skins on.  Rather than the usual practice in recipes of wrapping them in tin foil, which is really wasteful, my method is to wash them, oil them in the surface, then cover in a pyrex dish and bake them.  They are soooo much more flavourful that boiled beets, but do take a long time to cook.

My version of this recipe is at the end of this post.  The SAVEUR link is here, look at their picture, it is really nice as well.

Layered Beet Appetizer

I tried this recipe from the SAVEUR magazine website and have adapted it with a variation on the filling and dressing.  This is a wonderful appetizer or addition to a salad as a first course.  I have made it several times now to rave reviews even from people who are not keen on the individual ingredients.

Ingredients Method
Roasted Beets:

4 medium beets  with tops cut off

1 Tblsp  vegetable or olive oil

(Note:  this method of doing beets creates much more flavor  and better colour than boiling. The method of oiling and baking in a pyrex pan is better than the usual instruction of using aluminum foil, and also better for the environment!)

Use fresh beets, not the type that come in a bag.  Cut off tops and leave about a ½ inch of the leaves.  Wash each beet, dry it, then but oil liberally around the whole beet.  Place in pyrex pan with maybe a teaspoon of water, and roast at 350 for as long as it takes to make then fork tender.  This is usually at least an hour, and can sometimes a fair bit more.  Keep tabs at the end because they go from not done to really done quickly.

When beets are cooled enough, peel off the skin and clean off bits, but do not rinse them.

SAVE the remaining oil and juices for the dressing.


1 pkg (about 170g or 4 ounces) of chevre, the type that breaks apart

About 2 Tblsp yoghout or sour cream to soften the cheese

1 clove garlic

½ tsp Herbes de Provence

Salt to taste – a few shakes


Place all these ingredients in a food processor.  If you don’t have one then do it by hand and use a garlic press.  Don’t try to use a blender, it makes it too runny.

Cut the beets into slices about ¼ inch thick.  Spread about 1 tsp on each slice, you don’t want it too thick or they will topple over.  Press each new slice on to the cheese enough to stick but not to push out the cheese.  You can assemble the pieces  in whatever order will make a flat sitting mound.  The first time I made them I then cut the stacks into perfect circles with a pastry circle, then you get perfect sizes.  Since then I just cut the stacks into quarters and live with a ragged edge.  Let you degree of anal fixation be your guide.


2 Tblsp orange juice concentrate or boil some orange juice to reduce it

1 shallot chopped very finely

1 TB juice from the roasted beets

2 T olive oil

1 TB balsalmic vinegar

¼ tsp Dijon mustard

A little garlic

These are approximate quantities.  Play with it.

Boil the shallots in the orange juice for a minute to soften them, then add the rest.

Spoon a little dressing over the beet stacks.

These keep for about 2 days in the fridge.  They are best if they have been allowed to cool in the fridge until solid, at least a couple hours.  The cheese does take on a pink colour, but they taste great.

Daring Cooks Challenge – Brunswick Stew and a Gluten Free Cornbread

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

I have seen recipes for Brunswick stew in some of my more traditional cookbooks but had never been inspired to make it.  So, this is often where Daring Cooks and Bakers is good for pushing your envelope a bit.

The stew is basically a mixture of meats, including chicken and ham, with vegetables similar to succotash.  I made the shorter recipe that was in the challenge.  The stew is a tasty meat and potatoes stew.  The spicing is poultry seasoning.  It was fortuitous that I had just made a large roast ham o the weekend, so the rest of the stew was easy to prepare.  When I finished the stew that night it was good, but not really awesome.  So the next night I decided that a gluten free cornmeal topping would jazz it up a little, and it did.

My version of a gluten free cornmeal batter was placed on warmed bowls of stew, then baked for about a half hour.  The cornmeal soaked up some of the liquid, and made a very tasty top to the stew.  My hubbie liked it, but said it was not on his definite make again list, and I feel the same.  Anyway, it was a fun challenge and I thank wolf for the challenge.  Gluten Free Cornmeal Recipe follows here.

Sorry there is a problem with permission on my site tonight, so I will add the pictures tomorrow.

Gluten Free Cornbread

I use this basic recipe for cornbread but often cut back the cornmeal to about a cup and add other strong gluten free flours.  If I want a strong corn taste, I use the full 1 ½ cups cornmeal. Use real buttermilk, it really makes a better product, ignore the advice that vinegar and milk works the same, it doesn’t.  This is a very dependable gluten free recipe for me.

Ingredients Method
Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup or cornmeal or( 1 cup cornmeal plus total of ½ cup GF flours)
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • ½ tsp xanthum gum
  • ½ tsp salt
Instead of 1 ½ cups cornmeal I used:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup garfava flour
  • ¼ cup amaranth / quinoa

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

1/4 cup butter, cut in like biscuits Cut butter into small pieces and cut into the batter like in a piecrust.  You can use ¼ melted butter or oil, but I like the texture better done like the piecrust method.
2 eggs

1 ½ cup buttermilk (use the real stuff!)

Add eggs and buttermilk.  The batter will be fairly runny but thickens up quickly.

Bake at 350 until done, the time depends on the size of your pans.  I also make this into muffins.

Orange Tian – Gluten Free

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.  I had to do this one very fast after getting back from our trip to Spain, so I made all the stuff today on the reveal date.  I also decided to make it gluten free so I would not have to eat it all myself.

The recipe is on the daring Baker’s site now:

Although there are a lot of components to make (especially in one day!) it was worth it, and the tian came out very well, and was delicious. Greg (my husband) and I devoured the small size tian that I used for the pictures here as soon as the photo shoot was over.  Because I had let some sauce dribble down into the sable layer, and it would have been soggy if we waited, what else could we do?  Besides, remember the quote “When life seems uncertain, eat dessert first.” Who said that anyway, was it the Duchess of Windsor?

I am very pleased with the gluten free pastry I developed for this.  I used the recipe from Jennifer, but changed it to use gluten free flours.  The resulting sable pastry was the best I have made yet, and tasted almost like it was made with wheat.  I want to try this pastry again as a base for sugar cookies, I think it would work very well and could be decorated.  What was probably good about the original recipe was that is had less butter than is usually in sable dough.  I find that gluten free flours cannot absorb as much butter or fat as wheat flour.

Gluten Free Sable Pastry

This recipe was the result of  adapting a Daring Bakers challenge recipe for Orange Tian to make it gluten free.  It has the best flavor and texture of any gluten free butter type pastry of cookie I have developed so far.  A note regarding flours – I grind all my grain and bean flours fresh using a Nutri Mill (except the corn starch and the potato starch).  If you are using bought flours, you may want to change the buckwheat flour to be replaced by half corn starch and half potato starch.  Bought buckwheat flour is much stronger tastingand often bitter than fresh gound (in my opinion the mill was worth it just for the flavor difference in bean and buchwheat flours, they taste so much better than bought), so may not result in as tasty and delicate a pastry.



¼ cup garfava flour

¼ cup amaranth flour

¼ cup potato starch

¼ cup corn starch

½ cup buckwheat flour1 ½ tsp xanthum gum

6 Tblsp sugar (about 80g)

1 tsp baking powder

½ scant tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (I used a convection oven at 350, use whatever you usually use for shortbread type cookies.)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Put in food processor.

3.5 oz ( or 100g) unsalted butter Cut butter into 1” pieces and mix in food processor with dry ingredients until a fine crumbly texture results.
1 egg

1 egg yolk

1.2 tsp vanilla

Add to food processor and process until grains stick together. At this point it is a bunch of  sticky crumbs, not a dough yet.
Place wax paper or dough sheet on counter.  Empty dough crumbs into the sheet and press together until a pliable dough develops.  Because there is no gluten in this dough, you can work it right away and roll it.  I use a bottom of wax paper or parchment, shape the dough into flat rounds, then place plastic wrap over the dough and roll.  A trick is to nit try to lift the cookie cutouts, but rather to lift the waste dough, then turn the wax paper over to place on cookie sheet (see picture of this).

This dough worked beautifully and was about the texture of playdough.  I was able to reroll it easily, and by using the plastic on top there is no added flour to mess with.

Bake on silpat or parchment until lightly browned on the edges.  This dough works well for cookies similar to French sables, and as tart dough for little pastries.

Fun with Fondant on a Poppy Seed Cake, and a Recipe

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

We had a small dinner party at the end of the holidays and I needed a little something for dessert.  I also had the decorating urge, and some fondant from Golda’s Kitchen ( ) that I wanted to try.  Although you can easily make fondant, it is a lot quicker to just open the container, peel back the plastic, and start decorating.  If you haven’t used fondant before, it is really easy, tastes reasonably good,  and can produce smooth sheets that are a joy to decorate with if you don’t feel like dragging out the piping bags and making a mess.  Since I had other things to fuss with for the dinner, the fondant solution was perfect.

I used a  scalloped circle cutter for the base, then rolled balls of coloured fondant to make the leaves and holly berries. A toothpick indentation in the berries gave a touch of reality, and these were done toute suite.

The cake is my favoutite cake when I am just craving something good but simple, and not too sweet.  This recipe is adapted from A Passion for Desserts by Emily Luchetti, a great dessert cookbook.  Make sure you use buttermilk and unsalted butter for the best taste.  This cake keeps very well frozen and is a great thing to have ready in the freezer when you need a quick little shortcake or ice cream accompaniment.  I love this cake.

I have made a gluten free version of this cake and it is also very good, but needs a lot of tweaking, so I will post it when I test the recipe again as quite frankly I dont remember exactly what I did.  TRhis cake is also excellent as a short cake or as a white cake with swiss buttercream frosting.

Buttermilk Poppy Seed Cake

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in A Passion for Desserts by Emily Luchetti.



Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray grease or butter pans.

Mix dry ingredients and set aside in a separate bowl.

Wet  Ingredients:

4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter until light.  Add in the sugar and beat again, then add the eggs.  Add buttermilk and wet ingredients in 2 batches.
Add at the end:

  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Stir in the poppy seeds.  (Note: Poppy seeds spoil easily and taste rancid.  Try to get fresh seeds from a health food or bulk store, and store the seeds in the fridge.)
Bake in muffin or small cake pans.  Time – it depends on the pan, usually about 15 to 20 minutes, but keep watch on them.  They are done when the edges are slightly brown and the middle has risen and often has a center crack.

If using a layer pan this recipe makes one 9 inch layer.  This cake keeps very well, but the crust can get a little soggy, so I like to freeze whatever isn’t going to be eaten within a day.  The frozen cakes keep very well, and are a great way to have a small cake with a bowl of ice cream.

Buttermilk Buckwheat Gluten Free Pancakes

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Pancakes are one of the easiest and most successful gluten free treats, so I have been experimenting.  I tinkered with different recipes, and after several batches with various flour mixtures, I have settled on the recipe posted below as delicious, dependable, and a good keeper.

Since getting a nutrimill and making my own buckwheat flour, I have found it to be very versatile and it also behaves a lot like white wheat flour. This buckwheat flour has a very mild flavour and seems to bind well, making the addition of guar or xanthum gum unnecessary.  I have made the recipe with all buckwheat flour (so use 1 cup buckwheat flour and skip the garfava), and they worked vvery well.  In the version I am posting of the recipe I have used 1/4 garfava flour to increase the fiber and protein content.  These pancakes keep very well after making, and can be kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen.  Adding blueberries into the wet batter on top when they are on the griddle is my husband’s favourite way to eat these.

When recipes use buttermilk, (which is not necessarily in everyone’s regular pantry), I used to just use milk with vinegar in it, however what I have learned over the years is that buttermilk is really superior.  So now I do try to keep it as one of my standard fridge items.  Buttermilk seems to add a subtle flavour dimension, and also seems to produce baked goods that age a little better.

Gluten Free Buttermilk Pancakes Recipe

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients Method
Dry Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup garfava flour
  • ¾ cup buckwheat flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tlbs sugar
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl , preferably one with a spout.  I use a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup and make all the batter in it ready for pouring.

You can stop here and make this a mix to add the dry later. I bag them up with the wet ingredients noted on a label. I often make one batch to use, and one to save for later.

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tlbs oil or melted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Add the wet ingredients and blend all together with a whisk or spoon. The batter will be thicker than you are used to, but try one pancake and see if the batter spreads out enough to make a thick pancake.  You can add more buttermilk if you want, but only a little at a time. This makes very thick fluffy pancakes with the thick batter, and you can make thinner ones if you prefer that consistency.
Pour batter on to griddle. If you like fruit additions (frozen blueberries work very well) add them when the batter is just starting to firm up on the griddle.  This works better than adding the fruit to the batter, especially for blueberries.  These work best if you use a little lower heat than usual and a flat griddle.  I use a French crepe maker that is very flat.  Turn the pancakes when you see bubbles opening up on top and the sides look like they are cooked about 1/3 of the way up.

I have found these pancakes to cook very evenly, with no raw batter inside, which can be a pancake trouble spot. These are light, thick, and fluffy. Thin the batter if you prefer thinner pancakes, but trust me, try one thick, they are great.

Verrines At Last

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

White Bean and Spinach Verrines

One of the most fun and interesting pursuits when I have been in France is to look for cookbooks and cooking magazines.  The presentation and visual appeal of French cookbooks and cooking magazines is wonderful, they seem to have a real sense of artistry in how food is presented.

Among the cookbook finds on my last two trips were the lovely petite glasses with layered food in them, called “verrines“.  I brought back a cookbook and some magazines with these little lovlies , but had never actually made them.  While beautiful, they require that you have several ingredients ready to layer, as well as tiny glasses, so I just never got around to actually making them.  The glasses became a reality on my San Francisco trip to Sur La Table.  Sitting right on a shelf were great glasses that were even tempered, so you could use them with hot stuff too.  Then in Muskoka at Rich Hill Candles I also found very straight clear glasses that would also fill the bill.

So, I have finally made some verrines over the holidays.  What I discovered is that they are not as easy as they look, getting those layers to show and look pristine in their colourful strata is no small feat.

My inspiration came when I found a Martha Stewart recipe in her December issue for a white bean and spinach dip.  It was supposed to be a warm dip, but I thought the mixture would be fine cold as well.  So what I did was use the concept of a white bean hummus concoction, and add some other colourful things.  I happened to have some quail eggs in the fridge (I know you are groaning, doesn’t everyone have quail eggs in the fridge!) and had already been quizzed by my husband on what exactly I had bought those for when things were tumbling out of a very full holiday fridge….

Layering....So far so good....

What I learned is that these are very fiddly, especially keeping the sides of the glass clean so they really look artistic with a coordinated colour palette.  I tired piping the bean mixture in first, that worked.  Then I patted in the spinach, which worked but was getting harder to keep the layers even.  After some debate with my children who are here for the holidays, and who are adults now with all sorts of opinions on how I should do things, I added stuff until I thought the verrines looked like little painted perfections.   The other challenge, with flu cautions in the back of my mind, was not to lick my fingers as the gunk got all over them (I resisted, don’t worry!) The verrines were devoured for an aperitif with a very fragrant Gewurztraminer from Alsace, one of my favourite French wines.    Will I make them again….I think so, they look lovely and tast good, maybe for a party of not more than 8 people, unless I have access retaurant sous chefs.  I do however have newfound respect for these little lovlies, they are quite a challenge but appeal to one’s inner artist.

White Bean Spinach Verrines

Just waiting for the toppings to finish the painting....

White Bean Layer:

  • 1 cups cooked white kidney beans (I used dry beans and cooked, but canned will do)
  • 1 cups low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or more depending on taste, I used a little more but salt is very individual)

Process all this in a food processor as you would hummus. Adjust seasonings as necessary, especially salt.  This makes more than you need, so just save the leftovers and mix with leftover spinach for some pate.

Spinach layer:

  • 1  box (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach (you will have leftovers to add to the leftover pate)

defrost frozen chopped spinach, then cook until tender with just a little water.  Squeeze it dry, and add salt if you want.

Tomato Layer:

  • 16 oz. bottle of homemade or bottled bruchetta, ground up in a food processor.  I used bottled basil bruchetta, but drained it in a colander first


  • 4 quail eggs (1/2 of a quail egg for each verrine) (okokhahaha, whatever you have on hand, maybe chopped regular eggs)
  • capers, red pepper sticks
  • a little balsamic vinegar to taste

Assemble the verrine, then let set in the fridge for a few hours to set.

Use the leftover tomato mixture as a layer in the bean pate you have left.  I made double the bean mix and had 2, 8 oz bowls of pate as well.  The pate is very good just with spinach mixed in and served with crackers of veggies.

Gluten Free Pain D’epices

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

After fillling the kitchen with the aroma of my latest 2 pain d’epices, I felt sorry for Greg and had to make him a gluten free version. The problem with many gluten free recipes is that they rely on rice flour, which in my opinion doesn’t have great taste or texture, and unfortunately Greg is also sensitive to rice, so I have learned to improvise. I have been trying to increase the protein and fiber content, and to improve the flavour in terms of picking flours.

The recipe I have developed here uses several flours, but I’m sure you could just stick to gluten free mix that works for you and your allergy requirements. This came out wonderfully cakey and delicious, and I think anyone eating it would not necessarily know it was gluten free (that is the gold standard of gluten free baking in my mind). Chestnut flour can be found in some Italian grocery stores, I found it in little Italy at a small store nesr Bathurst and College. It has a slightly sweet nutty taste and works well in cake.

Re xanthum and guar gum – I find guar gum makes a cake texture, and xanthum makes a more breadlike texture. I wanted cake texture, but also wanted it to be well bound, which xanthum does best. Use what you want, either will work here.

Gluten Free Pain D’epices
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour mix (I used 1 cup light bean flour (1/3 cup bean flour, 1/3 cup tapioca flour, 1/3 c. arrowroot flour); for the 3/4 I used 1/4 cup amaranth flour, 1/4 cup chestnut flour, 1/4 cup buckwheat flour)
1/2 tsp xanthum gum powder
1 tsp guar gum flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger (dried powder)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground fresh if possible
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp whole anise seeds
1 T soft butter
1 egg
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1 T brown sugar

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet stuff (you can just melt the butter if you want). Combine and bake at 350 for….depends, about a 1/2 hour – depends on the size loaf pan you use. I now have a convection oven, so I baked it at 325 on convection and it came out light and fluffy.

How Healthy Can You Get?

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

This little salad is about as healthy as you can get. It is a combo that was not the usual, but it is really delicious. The other bonus is that the apples did not turn brown, the picture is the salad the next day after I made it. I got the idea from a magazine recipe, but of course I changed it. I have made this twice already and love it!! I hope this recipe is specific enough, I feel salad recipes are pretty fluid depending on what the state of your larder and proximity to a grocery store. Enjoy, and this is my first recipe post, I hope to have others. Please comment, I need to know maybe someone is reading my blog!!!

Fennel Salad Inspired by Waldorf
Quantities are approximate, and not really critical anyway!
1 Apple (I used Granny Smith) peeled and chopped up
1 cup fennel (ie, finocchio) sliced thinly (I used a Bereiner slicer, they work great)
1 cup celery
1/2 cup grapes
2 T walnuts, chopped (make sure they are fresh!)
2 T yoghourt (heaping ones) (plain, I used Astro, my favourite)
1 T lemon juice (maybe a little more, taste to see)
1 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp honey
a few fennel fronds to make it look pretty

This made enough for 2 large servings pour moi.

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