Pro Pastry, Gluten Free: Frangipane and Chef Brooks Headley’s Quick Jam

It was August, and I hadn’t made a single pie.

I hadn’t made a single batch of ice cream or sorbet, either; but the cardinal sin was with the pie.

Pie is my favorite dessert. I make one for my birthday, or when I want to impress a man, or when a man I’ve impressed breaks my heart. And this summer I hadn’t made one. 

But then I saw huge stalks of rhubarb in my hometown grocers. Rhubarb that was far too girthy for its own good, and so late in the season that I couldn’t nearly call it “peak”. But rhubarb none the same. I also had some really beautiful black plums from a farmers market in NYC. And I had Brooks Headley’s Fancy Desserts on my brain.

It came out October 1st, but I had it mistakenly launching on my schedule on the 20th, so this little post is a touch late. Brooks had kindly sent it to me after we’d barely missed each other at a mutual friend’s restaurant anniversary party; a black-and-white copy with notes someone had scribbled on random pages.

Now, I’ve never worked with Brooks. I met him when he was celebrated as a 2013 Dessert Professionals Top Ten Pastry chef, where we’d been introduced by Niko of Dessertbuzz (that link is for the 2014 celebration, because I love the photo Niko took of me with my favorite sweet pea of a pastry chef, Ron Ben-Israel). I had planned to work with Brooks in my interview column, but first he was busy writing the book and then my column ended. I still have yet to work with him, as I’m saving up my “wanna work on…?” request for something meaty. But the book had landed magically in my mailbox after the post Brooks-is-walking-away-from-this-party email exchange.

And it’s f***ing awesome.

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{gluten and dairy-free) Brownie Pie – Milk Bar Monday!

Gluten-dairy-free Milk Bar Mondays Brownie Pie Love...

Gluten-dairy-free Milk Bar Mondays Brownie Pie Love…

We’re baaaaaaaack!

Sometimes inspiration for making something sweet comes from a new pan or a road trip to someplace spooky with friends. And sometimes it comes from a group of ladies you’ve met via the interweb, and have agreed to bake your way through a cookbook with!

I’m tickled pink that the Milk Bar Mondays ladies are back after a hiatus so that we could take care of a few small things; members moving and graduating college and having babies, the little beautiful details of life like that! Every time I get wiped from the mess of internet madness that makes me want to head for the hills — where wifi and mobile service are replaced by oak trees and crickets — I stumble upon the picture of one of my beautiful lady friends with their growing belly, or growing child, or growing dreams, and my heart fills up and I am so thankful to this crazy bit of technology that’s helped me find such talented, lovely people.

And together it’s brought us on a trippy journey, baking our way through Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, me adapting as I can to fit my dietary needs. We’ve had some incredibly yummy ones — the Compost Cookies I can’t stop making, the decadent Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake that sent me swooning, the Blueberry and “Cream” and Chocolate-Chocolate cookies and Birthday Layer Cake and Chevre Frozen Yogurt with Beet-Lime Ganache… love.

And here we are again, with a dangerously rich chocolate Brownie Pie nestled in a graham crust. And, for you and moi, this version is gluten and dairy free.

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{gluten-free} Maple Pear Galette for Two

Yesterday was one of the best days ever!

Being a freelancer and having a complicated chronic illness mean I’m often stressed about money, or restrictions because of the limits of my health, or both, as in a recent $634 bill for natural medication. But it also means I’m often forced to lay low, by my own discipline,my family forcing me or my body just shutting itself down. I had worked three full days in my family office and then gone out with some food media/publicity friends late into Wednesday night, meaning that Thursday had to be market a NOTHING! day in my calendar. Being Halloween, that NOTHING would include watching American Horror Story (!), buying cider from the corner store, avoiding going downtown, and catching up on some writing / blogging. Yes, writing and blogging aren’t doing nothing. But when I have space for them sandwiched by American Horror Story and rainy walks with Mitra, they’re relaxing, too.

So there I was, infuriated by my ancient computer’s incapability to work with me by loading pages and saving documents and such, when I threw up my hands, powered down and walked into the kitchen. Because freelancing and NOTHING also mean I can put my hands into (gluten-free) flour and slice fruit when I feel like it, dammit! Continue reading

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