Monthly Archives: August 2011

Easy Cobbler Bread Pudding – Gluten, Dairy and White-Sugar Free!

 

Easy Cobbler Bread Pudding

Life is delicious.  As a gluten-freer, I sometimes miss bread-heavy meals and spongy caked desserts.  I equally miss Belgian waffle breakfasts and stuffed French toast.

So last night when I got home from listening to some stellar bluegrass (high-fives to the Six Deadly Venoms) I decided to make myself the best of both for breakfast: bread pudding.  Gluten-free.  Dairy-free.  Easy to throw together.  With no white sugar (I rarely consume it). And celebrating end-of-the-summer fruits.  A toss between cobbler, baked pancakes (I’m obsessed) and bread pudding.

Success, people, success.

This recipe is an insane journey of color, texture and flavor.  I used ripe blueberries and summer peaches along with dried apricots to give the fruit some va-va-voom.  The gluten-free bread base was soaked overnight in eggs, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon extract, hazelnut extract and just enough honey and maple syrup to sweeten the load slightly. And topped with slivered almonds, the texture was smooth with a tiny crunch.

The next day I quickly boiled some fruit, threw it together and baked it for 45 minutes.

You  can alter the recipe by doing what I did – playing with what you have in your pantry and adjusting to your allergy needs.  Omit the nuts completely if you want!  Add some fresh lemon zest (though I highly recommend having lemon oil on hand for recipes like this – it’s the Italian and Portuguese baker in me).  Play with extracts and spices to your heart’s content.  As long as you have the same basic proportions, you’ve got this delectable fruity, bready piece of heaven in the bag.

If you’ve got problems with sugar, though, I will confess that I’m a bit shaky as I’m typing this, having eaten my serving.  But I also just drank an entire pot of green tea.  So it’s anyone’s guess.

As a hearty breakfast this recipe will serve four.  But top it with your choice of ice cream after a long meal and it’ll satiate six.

If you’re going to put it into wine glasses like I did, make sure it’s cool, people.  Live and learn, right?

Chock full o fruity, bready, nutty goodness.

Ingredients:

  • Six slices of gluten-free bread at room temperature.
  • 4 large eggs.
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk.
  • Honey, maple syrup or both to make 1/4 cup.
  • 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract.
  • 1/4 tsp hazelnut extract (or almond).
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used slivered almonds).
  • 3 small peaches or plums.
  • 1 pint blueberries.
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried fruit (I used apricots).
  • 1 tsp fresh, chopped mint.

Directions:

  • Place bread in a square Pyrex pan, 8″ or 9″, overlapping bread as best as possible.
  • In a small bowl, beat all the ingredients from the eggs to the extracts, in that order, whisking continually.
  • Pour over the bread and flip bread so that all is soaked in egg mixture.
  • Leave overnight to absorb.
  • When ready to assemble and bake, preheat oven to 350°.
  • Rinse, peel, pit and dice the fruit.  Place in a small pot over medium heat and heat until the blueberries burst and the fruits soften.
  • Stir in the dried fruit and mint, and pour over bread mixture.
  • Bake for 45 minutes until the bread rises and the fruit starts to bubble.

Warm and bubbly and gorgeous.

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Foodbuzz 24×24: A Scarborough Fair Summer Supper Party

Scarborough Fair Supper Party

Life is so delicious.  Last night, August 27th, I joined 23 other bloggers from around the world in hosting dinner parties with varying, festive themes as a part of FoodBuzz’s 24×24 dinner party.

I had crafted a dreamy, end-of-summer supper party proposal for this monthly internet party, thinking we’d be poolside at my childhood home in Connecticut.  I had envisioned bubbly, fruity cocktails, sunblock, French music and pulling herbs and vegetables fresh from the garden for cooking.  We would feast as the sun went down in bathing suits and sweaters, candles and lightening bugs lulling us into full contentment.  Each course on the menu would highlight the unique fragrance and taste of an herb that was found primarily from my father’s garden and my window boxes – rosemary, parsley, basil, chives, spearmint, chocolate mint, sage and lavender.  My guest list was assembling, I was menu-planning in my head and on paper, and things were shaping up perfectly in my little fantasy.

But reality trumped fantasy this weekend:  a hurricane walloped my perfect party plans.  The poolside fete turned morphed into an apartment party – getting to Connecticut was deemed almost impossible with Hurricane Irene running up the eastern seaboard.  Then our mayor shut down our entire transit system beginning at noon on Saturday – there went half of the guest list, who were coming from Brooklyn, Queens and various nooks in Manhattan up to my apartment near the Hudson far up on the west side.

What resulted, though, was still an incredibly fun evening.  6 locals within walking distance joined me on the rainy, humid night.  My roommate and I had spruced up the apartment, cleaning and decorating as festively as possible.  Because of the impending winds we had to move my herbs inside anyway – they made incredibly fitting center-pieces along with all those emergency candles.

We threw on some French music, lit the candles, settled in with mint juleps and champagne, and chatted away as the rain poured down.

My guests were lovely in their praises of the food and asked me to describe each course in detail – how things went together and the inspiration behind each.  Amongst the chaos that had been descending on the city in preparation for what was expected to be one hell of a storm, most of my friends over the city were huddled in their apartments with liquor and junk food.  We, on the other hand, celebrated the apocalypse with empanadas, prosciutto, roast beef, rosemary potatoes and homemade French macarons and ice cream.

Everything on the menu was homemade, planned to highlight some fabulous flavors.  And the entire menu was gluten and cow-dairy free.

And the hurricane?  Well, we didn’t lose power and the sidewalks up here are strewn with fallen leaves.  That’s just about it.

Because of the lack of light in the apartment due to the storm the pictures of the party are quiet uneven – most food shots being taken throughout the day as courses were prepped.  Recipes for what can be shared are linked to below the images.

The Menu

First Course

Melon, Basil, Proscuitto, Iberico cheese

Melon, Basil, Prosciutto, Iberico Cheese drizzled in lavender honey.

Herbs highlighted: basil and lavender

Empanadas

Gluten-free beef empanadas.

Herbs highlighted: chocolate mint

These were a huge hit. I had been dying for an empanada recipe after indulging in the gluten-full ones at my favorite restaurant recently, so these were an early thought on the menu.  Beef was sauteed in onions and garlic, then stewed down with cocoa, honey, cinnamon and hot pepper before golden raisins and olives were mixed in.  Finally the chocolate mint was blended and the mixture cooled before being filled into the flaky crust.  Click here for the recipe.

Parsley-Basil Macarons

French Macarons with Herb Filling

Herbs highlighted: parsley and basil

This was the most out-0f-the-box contribution to the evening.  I had FINALLY made macarons to perfection – it only took me five tries, interviewing macaron cookbook author Jill Colonna and taking a class at Dessert Truck Works to figure them out.

So I wanted to incorporate a savory macaron into the meal as well as using them in dessert.  Luckily Jill, in her book Mad About Macarons, had an incredibly easy filling that was basically parsley and basil blended with oil.  So I threw a non-descript amount of both in my food processor along with some bergamont-flavored olive oil, pink Himalayan sea salt and fresh lemon juice.

The result?  One guest actually said that this was her favorite of the three appetizers – the sweetness of the macaron and its gentle crunch crumbled perfectly underneath the herb mixture.  It was both salty, sweet and savory.

Unfortunately I don’t have a great picture of the final product because we were in hurricane mode lighting-wise by the time they were prepared.  But grab Jill’s book if you want the recipe and some amazing others.

Entree

Roast Beef, Rosemary Potatoes and Herbes de Provence Summer Squash

Roast Beef

Herbs highlighted: rosemary and chives

I don’t often make roast beef.  But I love using fresh rosemary on roasts, and as there was an abundance at my dad’s house this seemed only fitting.  I brought the meat to room temperature and then crusted it in olive oil, about 5 Tbsp fresh, finely chopped rosemary and 1 Tbsp of chives, as well as a little kosher salt and cracked pepper.  Then I placed it in an elevated roasting pan on top of a shallow bath of onions, garlic and lots of fresh rosemary.  Cooked to medium rare, it was quite delicious and only took an hour and a half to roast.

Rosemary Thyme Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Thyme Roasted Baby Potatoes

Herbs highlighted: Um, rosemary and thyme?

I didn’t take a picture of the final product, again due to poor lighting.  But aren’t these tiny potatoes gorgeous!?! I love how easily they roast – they went into the oven doused in olive oil, kosher salt and fresh rosemary and thyme.  Without parboiling they were crispy and soft.  Perfection.

Summer Squash

Summer Squash with Herbes de Provence and Lavender Honey

Herbs highlighted: lavender, savory, fennel, thyme basil

Well, it wasn’t from my dad’s garden but this squash was local and deliciously sweet.  I doused it in a tiny bit of oil, a load of herbes de Provence (which in general I could never live without) and spoonfulls of lavender infused honey.  It went in the oven with the roast and potatoes, and in about thirty minutes was toasty and sweet.

Dessert

Hurrican Irene Erosion

Honeybun Ice Cream, French Macarons and Fruit Compote

Herbs highlighted: spearmint, lavender

What better way to end a summery supper party than with homemade ice cream and French Macarons with local summer fruit?  This dessert was gluten and dairy free, sweetened only with honey but oh-so satisfying.  Click here for the recipe.

The Party

Despite the rain, the threat that power-outages were coming, the lack of public transporation and the fact that we weren’t next to a pool celebrating the end of the summer, I was pretty darned pleased with my FoodBuzz Party.  No, it was not what I had planned.  But the food was still center-stage, and it was pretty damned good.  Possibly the best menu in entirety that I’ve ever made.  And I could think of no better way to spend the worst part of the storm than with some great people, some fabulous food and a festive atmosphere.  Hopefully I’ll get another shot down the road at hosting a Foodbuzz dinner party, but until then – thanks Foodbuzz.  And Irene.  And the glorious people in the pictures below for trekking out in the downpour to join me.

Place-settings

Menus decorating piano as we eat.

Friends

Amy - she also has gluten and dairy problems so this party was perfect for her!

Old-time buddy Jon - evidently he liked his dessert.

Meg - gorgeous with her dessert.

Gary enjoys spearmint. Just ignore Jon.

Empty, honey covered plate and chocolate mint.

The herbs were the focus still of the evening

Ambiance

My dog Mitra - hates rain, LOVES prosciutto

Bringing the outdoors in.

Gluten-free Chocolate Mint Beef Empanadas

Beef Empanadas with Chocolate Mint

My favorite NYC restaurant makes empanadas to die for – filled with beef, raisins and olives and encased with a flaky, crumbly crust.  Now and then I indulge, even though they’re packed with gluten, because they’re just so damned good!

So when putting together my menu for FoodBuzz’s 24×24 dinner party, I decided it was time to make these puppies gluten-free.

My proposal was a “Scarborough Fair Summer Supper Party”, where each dish would be created around an herb or bunch of herbs.  For the empanadas, chocolate mint was to be the herb.  Yes, this is an herb that I have growing in my window box that tastes both like chocolate and spearmint.  It’s divine in so many ways.  So I decided to go with a classic filling of beef, onions, garlic, raisins and olives but, to highlight the mint, also added cocoa, cinnamon and honey.

They had my guests drooling and my roommate so ready for more that after I post this I’m back into the kitchen to whip up another batch with the leftover meat.  The filling is both sweet and spicy, the crust flaky yet solid.

They’re completely gluten and dairy free, and full of flavor.

Ingredients: filling

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 – 1 1/4 lb ground beef – the higher quality the better, obviously!
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped green olives
  • 1/2 cup white raisins, soaked in warm water and drained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp chocolate mint

Directions: filling

  • Heat the oil on low in a heavy saute pan or stockpot.
  • Add the onions and garlic and cook on low until soft.
  • Add the red pepper, paprika, salt and cocoa and cook until incorporated.
  • Add beef and saute for about five minutes until just brown.
  • Add the water and cook until it boils down and the mixture is soft but not watery.
  • Add the olives, raisins and chocolate mint and stir to incorporate.
  • Remove to fridge and chill for up to 24 hours to let the flavors meld.

Ingredients: Dough

  • 2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch or arrowroot
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 20 Tbsp Earth Balance Butter or unsalted butter, cubed
  • Up to one cup ice cold water

Directions: Dough

  • In a food processor, whip all flours, xanthan gum and salt together to combine.
  • Add the cubed Earth Balance and pulse to combine until the butter is wrapped in flour in little pea-sized clumps.
  • Slowly add the water, bit by bit, until the dough comes together into a ball but is not wet.

Assemblage:

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray / wipe with oil.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured board (I use rice flour when rolling pastry).  Work with one quarter of the dough at a time.  Roll to 1/8 inch thickness, constantly turning, flipping and re-flouring the board as necessary.  Cut into 4″ rounds.
  • Place dough on sheets and put about a tablespoon of filling in the center of each.  Wet the edges of dough and fold over and press to seal.  Crimp edges with a fork.  Repeat until you have about 30 beautiful little empanadas.
  • If desired, wash the top of the empanadas with an egg beaten with a little water to make them glossy and bright.
  • Bake for about 8 minutes, turning the sheets halfway through.
  • Cool slightly before serving.
  • Prepare to be wowed.

 

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