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.

Continue reading

Pro Pastry, Gluten Free: Easiest Chicken Liver Mousse from Chef Jamie Bissonnette

Welcome to my second installment of Pro Pastry. Today over at, I have a review of the cookbook this recipe came from – out today! – and a bit more on the chef behind it. Take a look at the why’s behind this series, and here for my first piece in this series, Dairy-Free Creme Brulee from Chef Joe Murphy.

Okay, so this title is kinda misleading.

There’s no gluten to be found in the original of this recipe, and I did not eat that beautiful slice of toasted bread in the image above. The recipe’s not completely dairy free, as it contains copious amounts of butter. But it did take a touch of adaptation to work with it and I’m so glad I did, because I devoured it on some rice crackers, feasted it to a friend on that bread as part of his birthday dinner and, a few days later, the ladies in my writers group helped me polish off yet another ramekin, with one of the ladies going to town on it. After I explained that she was eating chicken livers, she proclaimed its excellence and said she was glad not to have originally known what was in it, as she wouldn’t have tried nor fell in love with it if she had.

Game, set, match! for Jacqueline (still have the U.S. Open on the brain, and still boggled by their scoring system). Continue reading

Battle Inflammation: {gluten free} Honey Flax Granola

Living with Lyme disease = a constant battle against inflammation.

It’s nothing new, or novel, that eating certain foods and imbibing on tasty cocktails causes many to feel gross. But when you have an inflammatory illness, that “feeling gross” can result in horribly painful joints and enraged digestive systems.

Currently, it seems like everything and their brother causes inflammation in my body; my fingers are swollen, I have to roll out the puffiness in my feet and ankles, and my face get a Cabbage Patch Kid-esque pique to it. Lyme Disease + being in my thirties + adrenal stuff making it really hard to get the green light to exercise as often as I’d like = puff.

Does that mean I never indulge? Hell no. It just means that I’m constantly putting inflammation-fighting foods in my body, and making sure that the clean days far outweigh the indulgent ones.

This granola recipe is one of my favorites. It’s insanely easy, and wonderfully adaptable. Continue reading


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