Monthly Archives: October 2011

Coconut Milk Rice Pudding – Gluten and Dairy Free

Mmmmm... rice pudding...

Growing up, I’d come home from school to find a tray of little glasses filled with a creamy, sweet mixture, dusted with cinnamon and garnished with raisins, chilling in the fridge.  I knew, then, that my Avo, my Portuguese grandmother, was somewhere near by.  And I knew how much my father loved her rice pudding.   Avo learned everything by tradition: she gardened, plucked chickens, baked bread in a brick oven in her garage, and fed her 15 grandchildren and countless relatives at an endless table on holidays.  If I ever have half the skill of my Avo, I’ll be one happy, dusty baker.

That rice pudding looked so delicious.  This rice pudding tastes so delicious.  And I can eat it. Because it’s dairy-free!

A friend left New York City the other night to move back London, and shared her last meal in the states at my apartment: cheap and delicious Mexican food from up the block.  And before that meal, we had this for dessert.  She proclaimed it her favorite of any of my creations.  I always know I’m onto something when someone makes that statement.  I miss you horribly already, Mel.  And I don’t care who knows it!!!

This recipe is incredibly easy: gluten and dairy free, it contains only 2 tablespoons of maple syrup as sweetener.  It’s delicious warm from the stove, at room temperature or chilled.  A vanilla bean really adds incredible flavor to the small list of ingredients, so I highly recommend it instead of using vanilla extract.

Make it for people you love, please!


  • 6 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 Tbsp cachaca, dark rum, brandy or cognac
  • Scant 1/2 cup long grain white or arborio rice
  • Scant cup water
  • dash of salt
  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk (full fat and preferably organic)
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 egg, beaten well


In a small bowl, soak raisins in alcohol and allow to sit while you prepare the pudding.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, toast rice until it becomes fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Add water and salt, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until absorbed, about 12 minutes.

Add 3/4 can of coconut milk, maple syrup and scraped vanilla bean and cook until almost fully absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Beat remaining coconut milk with the egg.  Pour over pudding.  Stir in raisins and alcohol.

Spoon into four glasses.  Serve warm, bring to room temperature or chill completely.

Cabernet Carob Cake

Cabernet Carob Cake with Vegan Blackcurrant "Cream Cheese" Frosting

I ate the crap outta this cake for days.  It was a recipe that kept morphing: I wanted something chocolaty, a cross between a brownie and a cake.  I was craving blackcurrant in everything for some reason.  And I was digging throwing multiple textures around.

But then I decided to not go with chocolate.  Chocolate, while I love it, has a lot of caffeine in it.  And carob, its under-acclaimed cousin, contains no caffeine.  It’s also high in fiber, has a decent amount of protein, and has one third the calories and half the fat of chocolate.  And it’s incredibly high in antioxidants.

It’s also naturally sweet, meaning you use less additional sweetener in baked goods!

So in this I used 8 Tbsp of carob and 2 Tbsp of cocoa, to give the cake an incredible depth.  Layers of blackcurrant jam and vegan blackcurrant “cream cheese” frosting packed an incredible punch.  And a sprinkling of slivered raw almonds added the crunch I was craving.

The gluten-free flour blend was pushed along by the addition of 2 tablespoons of Cabernet wine flour.  It’s an uncommon one – sort of hard to find online.  Made out of the skins of grapes, it’s a bit grainy and offers an aftertaste that can be a bit sour, which is why 2 tablespoons is the top I’d go in a delicate cake recipe.

I then slathered it with my vegan Blackcurrant “Cream Cheese” Frosting.

The result: an incredibly rich combination of currant and carob, dynamic and layered.

I literally ate it for days.  And kept piling the frosting on top of anything I could find to go with it.

Make this.  And enjoy.


  • 13 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 Tbsp carob powder
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup Ribena blackcurrant concentrate (it’s a British product, found in specialty stores)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/4 cup sweet white sorghum flour
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca flour
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 Tbsp Cabernet wine flour (I found out online from Marche Noir Foods)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cracked pepper or 1/2 tsp grains of paradise
  • 4 Tbsp blackcurrant jam (found in awesome food stores… sorry I don’t have more advice on where to find it!)
  • one recipe of Vegan Blackcurrant “Cream Cheese” Frosting


  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease desired cake pan of choice.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and spices.
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter.  Slowly add carob and cocoa and whisk until dissolved.  Then slowly whisk in blackcurrant.  Set aside to cool.
  • In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer on medium/high speed beat eggs, and palm sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very smooth and creamy.
  • Reduce the mixer to low speed and slowly add the carob mixture until combined.
  • Fold the flour mixture into the carob / egg mixture.
  • Pour into the pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool completely in pan.


  • Cut the cake into squares or circles as you see fit, into three layers.
  • Layer 2 Tbsp of blackcurrant jam between each layer.
  • Cover with blackcurrant cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with almond slivers.

Blackcurrant Cream Cheese Frosting (vegan)

Vegan Blackcurrant "Cream Cheese" Frosting

I love this frosting.  I want to roll around in it.  I want to put it on steak, eggs, green vegetables and toast.  I want to give it a national holiday.

OK, those are all going way to far.  But it’s good.  It’s really good.

Smooth, creamy, pungent with currant, it’s my new favorite thing.

It’s not fluffy and not pipeable.  It makes a mess.  But I love it so much I don’t care.

Slather it on all things sweet, especially if they contain chocolate or heavy spice.

Maybe don’t put it on steak, eggs, green vegetables or toast.  Other than that, go batty.


  • 1 8oz container Tofutti “cream cheese”
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter flavored Earth Balance
  • 2 Tbsp Toffuti “sour cream”
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted, plus more to taste
  • 3 Tbsp blackcurrant jam


  • Beat “cream cheese” and Earth Balance until blended.
  • Add “sour cream” and beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add powdered sugar and beat until creamy and slightly fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add jam and continue to beat to desired consistency.


  • Use strawberry or raspberry jam instead of currant.
  • If you don’t need to go vegan, use regular cream cheese and butter just colder than room temperature.
  • Instead of the sour cream, use milk (soy, almond or cow), or omit completely, depending on the consistency you desire.

Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash with Lamb and Cranberries

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Lamb and Vegetables

For those of you who don’t know me very well, my food lifestyle and this blog started because of a lifetime of dealing with Lyme Disease and her related minions.  Since I was twelve I’ve had three serious flares of Lyme, which have resulted in severe joint and bone pain, muscle spasms, neurological waves of yuckiness (medical term) and scores of issues with food.

But I am very fortunate.  I have an incredible medical team, a supportive family, and health insurance through my family business (it’s practically impossible to get insurance outside of a business if you have a pre-existing condition).  And the intimate experiences I’ve had with my body have shaped my lifestyle and approach to wellness and food.  

This week I could feel the weather changing in my bones.  From a springy, energetic summer demeanor I’ve felt my body shifting into the Hunchback of Washington Heights.  Today, for the first time in a while, I had to medicate, and know the coming cold will make this a more regular occurrence.

But overall I still feel so far from where I’ve been before.  And that is a result of listening to my body, seeking out excellent medical advice and constantly nourishing my body with the goodness of positive things around me.

Enter this recipe.  I’d noticed I’ve been craving meat lately, suggesting that I may be slipping back into anemia.  The abundance of root vegetables and hearty leafy greens of the season is timed perfectly.  As is the new batch of Indonesian cinnamon I just picked up.  Along with the calming, inspiring affect I feel when working with food, a recipe like this provides so many nutrients to fortify us against the coming cold.

And it’s just plain tasty.  And not hard to make.

Many newer cooks can be intimidated by lamb – I know I once was.  But it’s one of my favorite meats to cook, and so deliciously versatile.  I find it takes the combo of sweet and savory that I so love better than pork or beef.  And it’s packed with iron.

Acorn squash is another of my favorite fall foods: along with simply roasting it, it’s the perfect nest for meaty and vegetarian dishes alike.  A favorite filling is tempeh stir-fried with quinoa, carrots and dried fruit.  Heck, even a Thanksgiving bread stuffing would taste divine.

But this one combines lamb, onions, carrots, cranberries, Brussels sprouts and sunflower seeds for warm, filling and dynamic results.

The recipe is endlessly adaptable.  Grab what you have leftover in the fridge or pantry, and have a blast.

Happy Autumn everyone!

Lamb, Carrots and Brussels Sprouts Inside Sweet Acorn Squash


  • 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses, regular molasses or pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup rocking awesome olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 lb lamb, cut into small cubes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 4 carrots, scrubbed and chopped into small pieces
  • 6-8 Brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 2-inch ginger root
  • 1 tsp sharp cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • sunflower seeds or other chopped nuts to taste


  • Heat oven to 350°.
  • Place squash in a deep baking pan skin down.  Brush with molasses / maple syrup.
  • Place in heated oven and bake for 30 minutes while prepping lamb.
  • In a large skillet or cast iron pot, heat oil on low.
  • Add onions and garlic and cook on low until golden and soft.
  • Season lamb with salt and pepper and add to skillet, browning on all sides.
  • Add rosemary and toss to coat.
  • Remove lamb to plate.
  • Into the hot skillet drop cranberries and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add carrots, Brussels sprouts and cinnamon.  Grate ginger over the mixture and stir to combine.  Cook for about 8 minutes until the vegetables soften.
  • Add vinegar and toss to coat.
  • Turn off heat, return lamb to skillet and mix thoroughly to combine.
  • Remove squash from oven, fill evenly with lamb mixture.  Cover with tin foil.
  • Return to oven and cook an additional 30 minutes or until lamb just starts to brown on top.

Serve sprinkled with nuts and a drizzle of molasses and vinegar, if desired.

Makes four hearty servings.  Great as a main course with a salad or wilted greens on the side.

Beautiful to present at a special dinner, too!

One Cocoa Cupcake and Lyme Life Lessons

How To Make One Cocoa Cupcake (gluten-free)

After a loooooong (lovely!) week and a loooooong (lovely! lovely!) Saturday, I found myself hobbling a bit while walking my dog last night, my aching hips and knees a reminder that I crossed a line somewhere in all the awesomeness of hard work and good people, and still have chronic conditions from almost 20 years of Lyme Disease and its related terrors.  I wanted to take a hot, Epson-salted bath.  Or break my legs with a hammer.  I know a few of you out there will recognize that sensation.

So instead of going out dancing way downtown, I cut my night short and parked it inside.  I was shocked to find myself drawn to a Josh Duhamel movie.  This made absolutely NO sense since I’m generally not a “chick-flick” or “rom-com” or any other horribly kitschy-named movie genre fan and don’t think I’ve ever actually seen this dude in a film before.  Why was I drawn to a film that would bring out my innermost, snarkiest criticizer but also bring me some weirdly cheap comfort?  Because I recalled that during my last serious bout of Lyme all my exhausted brain and body could handle were the most mindless shmather (it’s a word, now), movies that were nothing more than visual background noise (realize I’m taking too many liberties with language now… I’ll get to the point). 

One cupcake.  Along with my bad movie I just wanted one cupcake.  Not a bunch of cookies, not a batch of anything to have sitting around.

Just.  One.

So I made one.  Using Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio for sponge cake as a base, I made an incredibly dense, fudgy cupcake, perfect with a dab of the leftover vegan blackcurrant “cream-cheese” frosting haunting me from another recipe (posting soon).  I sloppily mixed weighing and measuring ingredients together and checked the timing on it occasionally while giving myself a good stretch on the floor.

And then I ate it while pondering Duhamel’s left eyebrow.  And mulling over the state of romantic comedies of my age demographic.  And willing myself to just change the channel!

You ever have nights like this?

When you just want one… here ya go.

Oh, and now that I’m rested and medicated, the sun is shining and I’m off to review a few incredible NYC food events… life is back to lovely.

Blackcurrant Cream Cheese Frosting – Vegan!


  • 1 ounce unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce beet sugar
  • 1 ounce beaten egg
  • 1 ounce gluten-free cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp chocolate extract
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • dash of kosher salt


  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Put a cupcake liner in a tin or ramekin.  
  • Add the salt and cocoa to the flour.
  • In a small bowl, beat butter on medium/high until creamy.
  • Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add egg and beat until pale and fluffy, and slightly expanded in volume.
  • Add extracts and beat to combine.
  • Add flour and mix on low until just combined.
  • Pour into prepared dish and bake for about 18 minutes or toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Delectable Trail Mix Cookies for Breast Cancer (gluten-free!)

That gorgeous lady on the left is Barbara Jo Kirshbaum.

I met Barbara Jo years ago while walking one of my Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cures, 60 mile walks that take place around the country raising money and awareness for the battle against breast cancer.

Barbara Jo is a marvel.  She started walking in 1998, and since then has raised OVER A MILLION DOLLARS For the Avon and Komen organizations.  As Team California, Barbara Jo and her late husband, Dr. Bob, could be seen at several events yearly.  Their bright pink signs toting slogans such as “You’re Beautiful” and “Just Keep Walking” dotted the miles.  Dr. Bob would be standing on street corners next to their rented car throughout the entire weekend, smiling, clapping and giving hugs as needed.  Barbara Jo would be walking away, a cape of ribbons imprinted with the names of those she was walking for on her back. I’ve seen her over the years in many walks, and she’s been such an inspiration and source of support as I’ve dealt with my on and off health and my changing ability to complete my goal of walking every city the Komen organization organizes.

Here are her stats by the end of her 2010 walking season:

  • Raised $126,247 for 2010
  • Total since 1998:  $1,259,017
  • Completed 119 long distance walks in the fight against breast cancer
  • Completed 5869 official miles
  • Walked 11,738,000 steps
  • Walked a total of 300 days (about 3000 hours)

On my Twin Cities walk this year, I found out that Dr. Bob passed away last year.  My heart broke a little bit when I heard the news, as I’d been walking for miles in excitement to see him and Barbara Jo, their coming foretold by those Team California signs.  The Komen and Avon walkers lost a foot soldier in our fight to make sure that breast cancer is no longer a life threatening illness, and I thank Dr. Bob and Barbara Jo with all my heart for their work over the years, and for Barbara Jo continuing to walk after Bob’s passing.  I did a little tribute to Bob in my Frosting for the Cause post, and was grateful for a way to mark his passing in words and by making something sweet for others.

I ate too many of these today...

This weekend the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer comes to NYC, as does Barbara Jo, now with her son-in-law Chris putting up those bright pink signs.  I’m excited to be out there first thing tomorrow morning, about 40 blocks from my apartment, cheering along the walkers on the first few miles of their journey.  Later in the day my sister and I will join them with more cheering and homemade trail mix cookies – part of my promise in making a cookie for every $10 donated to my own walk this year (this will bring my total to about 140 out of 400… still a long way to go!).

So these cookies are what I made for the walkers: a not-too-sweet trail mix cookie that’s gluten and dairy free, and packed with extra fiber and protein.  Such cookies are endlessly versatile – alter the amount of chocolate, nuts and fruit as you see fit, or the kind of additions you want to begin with.  The base cookie is soft and sweet, undetectably gluten-free, and ready for a bit of dusty fun.

Thank you so much to all the women and men walking, crewing and staffing the Avon walk this weekend.  These events are incredibly eye-opening for those who see thousands walking in pink, exhausting themselves and committing to raise a large amount of money for a necessary cause.

Can’t wait to get out there and tell you how truly amazing you are.

Gluten and dairy free Trail Mix cookies


  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 almond meal / flour
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds meal
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter flavored Earth Balance
  • 1 cup beet sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats (totally worth the $).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk all dry ingredients.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl) beat Earth Balance on high heat until fluffy.
  • Add beet sugar and cream until the mixture lifts and gets pale.
  • Add eggs and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes (beating the eggs gives a little lift and body to the coming flours).
  • Add vanilla and mix in.
  • Add all the flour, turn speed down to low, and mix until just combined.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips, raisins and nuts.
  • Fold in the oats a cup at a time until distributed evenly.
  • Drop in rounded tablespoons onto mats.
  • Put in upper and lower third of oven and bake for 9 minutes.
  • Rotate the trays (switch upper and lower) to ensure even baking and bake for 9-11 more minutes, or until lightly browned at edges.
  • Cool a few minutes on trays before removing to cooling rack.

Chardonnay Blackcurrant Frosting (Vegan)

Vegan Chardonnay Blackcurrant Frosting

I’m not a fan of frosting in general.  Well, the kind you find on basic bakery cakes and cupcakes.  Sorry.  Most of the time I feel like I might as well just be eating a bowl of powdered sugar, and while I have an incorrigible sweet tooth I prefer my sweets dark and somewhat savory.  Like I like my… nevermind.

So when trying to figure out what would best compliment the perfectly airy gluten-free sponge cake I’d made, I should have gone with a traditional creme or lemon curd.  But then the whole dairy-free thing makes it a bit time-consuming and complicated.  I’d been baking a lot the day I made this cake.  And I had a full Sunday NY Times waiting for me.  And my roommate kept urging me into the living room to see what the Giants were up to (they lost, sniff. As did the Bengals, double sniff).  I needed something fast and fluffy.

Enter this frosting.  It’s an incredibly versatile vegan frosting that would be stellar on cupcakes and pipes easily for pretty little decorations.  And it’s incredibly easy, as frosting should be.

I added the Chardonnay and blackcurrant to give some dimension and extra bubbly lift to the frosting, bringing it out of the blase buttercream family.  While they’re each only tiny additions, you can really taste both the Chardonnay and the blackcurrant – each accentuates the other.  And on such a light cake, the fluffy consistency of the frosting was a nice compliment.

This frosting would probably be stellar on something chocolate.  Ooh, or a spice cake!  You can omit the wine and go full currant, or use milk and vanilla instead for a traditional buttercream.

No matter which combination, just make sure to beat for a looooong time to get enough air in.  Whatever you frost can sit comfortably at room temperature, but if it’s a hot summer day be careful of meltage and fridge for a bit before serving.

Oh, and shortly after I took a bazillion pictures of the many things I had made that day, I accidentally erased ALL THE PICTURES ON MY HARD DRIVE! Hence why one of the few surviving ones is the sole representation here.


  • 1/2 cup pure vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored Earth Balance
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted, or more or less to taste
  • 3 Tbsp Ribena blackcurrant concentrate
  • 2 Tbsp cold Chardonnay Wine


  • Beat shortening and Earth Balance on hide speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
  • With mixer still on high, add blackcurrant a tablespoon at a time until incorporated.
  • Add Chardonnay a tablespoon at a time until incorporated.
  • Beat for 7-10 minutes until airy and light, adding more powdered sugar to your desired taste and consistency.

Gluten-Free Sponge Cake

Spongey, eggy and delicious

The other night a buddy of mine texted “got a killer gluten-free sponge cake recipe?”  I did not, and told him so.  To which he replied something very snarky, questioning my Dusty Baker title.  I snarked back.  We’re really mature.

I’m a proud lady, and quite stubborn.  So the next morning I headed into my kitchen and made this.

Pretty in pink.

I can’t take full credit, of course.  I’d made a gluten-free sponge cake before but never recorded it, not being quite content with the flour combination (quinoa made it too bitter, teff too dry for some reason).  So for this I went back to the basics for my flour blend: soft brown rice, arrowroot and tapioca.  Nothing else.

And then I went back to the Cooks Illustrated recipe I’d made glutenously for a friend a few years ago, adapting it only slightly and using the same method.  Perfect.  And incredibly easy.  A flawless cake that when I asked my roommate “could you tell that was gluten-free?” she chirped back, “no, I can never tell with yours that they’re gluten-free”.

I’m never moving.

So here ya go. Gluten-free  Sponge Cake.

Oh, and I topped it with Chardonnay Blackcurrant frosting (recipe posting soon). I’m not a huge fan of frosting in general, but was short on time and this vegan frosting whips up quickly.  But this light cake would benefit more from a custard or lemon curd, so if you have a killer recipe for one, I’d say go bonkers with it instead.

Spongey Cake.



  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter or Earth Balance (butter flavored)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated beet sugar
  • 1 cup gluten-free cake flour (I used my cake flour blend but used only brown rice, which I find less grainy than white rice.  It basically works out to 2/3 cup brown rice flour, 1/6 cup arrowroot, 1/6 cup tapioca starch)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt


  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease two 8″ cake pans and line bottoms with cut parchment.
  • Separate 3 eggs. Place whites in bowl of standing mixer, and add remaining 2 eggs to the yolks in a separate bowl.
  • In a small bowl, mix cake flour, xanthan gum, nutmeg and salt.
  • On stovetop, combine almond milk and butter, heat to melt, then add vanilla and remove from heat.  Allow to cool only slightly.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until foamy, about 2 minutes.  Add 6 tablespoons of beet sugar one at a time and continue to soft, moist peaks, about 3-5 minutes (don’t over-mix to stiff, keep them soft and billowy).  Remove to a large bowl.
  • Beat remaining eggs with remaining sugar on high for about 5 minutes, or until pale yellow and creamy.  Add to egg whites (don’t fold yet).
  • Sprinkle flour mixture on top and fold in gently, trying to keep the mixture as light as possible, 8-10 folds.
  • Make a well and pour in milk mixture, continue to fold until egg mixture is combined.  Do not over-mix.
  • Pour evenly into pans and bake for about 22-25 minutes, until slightly firm and springy to the touch.
  • Use a small icing spatula or knife to loosen edges, then cool in pan for 2 minutes.
  • Invert onto cake plate to release, then back onto cooling rack.

These will cool very quickly, giving you just enough time to whip up an icing or a custard.  Because of the delicate nature of the cake, the lighter the accompaniment the better.

Gluten-Free Churros – a Family Holiday Recipe

Gluten-Free Churros

A few hours before posting this I had a huge panic moment: I’m still not quite sure how it happened, but while cleaning out unneeded photos from my hard drive collection I accidentally erased ALL OF THEM!!  These are the only two that survived as they’d already been dragged onto the desktop.  It was frustrating, to say the least.

I spend way too much time on little machines and it’s oddly refreshing sometimes to have them revolt against me.  It reminds me of what I love most about what I do: Words. Food. Art.  Not computers, DSLRs and smartphones. Simple, old-school.

Which is what this recipe is: simple and old-school.

My father is from Portugal, and my favorite recipes are ones that I’ve learned from my Tia or inherited through my Avo, my grandmother.  When I was 13 or so I remember walking into the garage at her house in Povacao (a small town on the island of Sao Miguel in the Acores) to see her plucking a chicken, with several others hanging from a rafter.  I also remember a sweet, dense bread she’d bake in a brick oven in that garage.  And fried sardines, spicy orange beans and creamy kale soup that she made magically with rustic cookware in her old kitchen.

One of my favorite family recipes, and one that was reserved for the holidays, are malasadas – a yeasted fried dough that she’d bring over, all puffy and risen, in a big bowl to whichever family was hosting.  As kids, we’d be given a ball of the dough to stretch out for ourselves.  After a quick fry (always stove-top, none of us had a deep fryer), we’d toss them in a paper bag of sugar and devour them warm.

My avo died last summer, and this is how I ended her eulogy which, of course, was a lot about food:

Avo loved to take care of all of us, and loved how we take care of each other.  As I learn how to make more and more of the foods that I remember coming from her, I thank her with all my heart for teaching us how to make a home, and bring a family to a table, to have faith that god loves us, and say those two precious words that I’ll never forget…

“Come, querida.”  Eat, darling.

I miss her the most when I’m in my kitchen.

A few years ago my Tia taught me several versions of the malasadas recipe.  It’s now one of my standards, and my favorite at-party trick.

This is how they usually look:


Light, fluffy, chewy and lemony, they’re little bites of heaven, especially when served warm and slathered with homemade jam.

The only problem I have with them – they’re not gluten-free!  Which means I haven’t eaten one in a long time.

So, finally, with a little nudging from FoodBuzz and Frigidaire’s Talk Turkey Campaign, I figured there’s no better time like the present.

I adapted my family recipe with gluten-free flours and the knowledge that gluten-free donuts  don’t always whip up with the same texture as their glutenous counterparts.  Instead of stretching and frying the dough, I was planning on piping it into churros.  See, I live in Washington Heights in New York City, which has an incredibly high Latino population.  And I love my neighborhood.  As I walk my dog around the area, down by the Hudson River during sunset and through Riverside Park, I inevitably run into neighbors who have now become friends.  We let our dogs romp, catch up on city news and almost inevitably talk about food: what we’ve made for dinner or to where our sweet teeth have taken us.

So this season I’ll be whipping up a few batches of these as my holiday gift: the perfect combination of my Portuguese heritage and my Latino location.

I created this post as part of Frigidaire’s Talk Turkey Campaign. Share your own recipes and tips at Frigidaire’s Make Time for Change site. For every recipe or tip that’s shared, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save The Children’s U.S. Programs, which creates lasting change for children in need! Join me!

Happy Beginning of the Holidays!

– Jacqueline

Lemony, spicey and chewey! Perfect with a good espresso.

Notes about gluten-free churro-making love: because of the lack of gluten, you don’t need to worry about how long you knead the dough as there’s no gluten to develop.  The dough isn’t also necessarily going to rise as high as it would normally.  Don’t fret!  This dough shouldn’t be sticky, and should easily be scooped into a pastry bag. 

You also don’t want to fry them until golden – thirty seconds or so does the trick to keep them nice and light inside. I usually fry about 10 at a time, and just as I pipe the last one in the first one’s ready to come out.

Because I wanted to see which flavor combination I like the most in the sugar tossing, I added spices progressively.  This step you can suit to your taste – my favorite ended up being the all-four combo.

And they’re best eaten fresh – though a quick warming later makes them perfect for coffee dunking.


  • 4 cups gluten-free cake flour (my blend is HERE with xanthan gum)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 packets of yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp lemon oil
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of strong cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Large bottle of pure vegetable or canola oil


  • In a small bow, combine yeast and warm water, stirring with a fork to dissolve.  Set aside to sit and let get all foamy and homey-smelling.
  • In a Pyrex measuring cup or small bowl, combine butter and milk and microwave until butter is melted and milk is warm.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the breadhook, place flour and salt.  Make a well in the center and pour in eggs, lemon oil, lemon zest, eggs and milk mixture.
  • Start mixer on low and progressively increase speed until the ingredients combine.
  • Turn off mixer, add yeast mixture, and slowly increase speed until at medium/high (6 on a Kitchenaid).
  • Mix until the dough is thoroughly combined, and pulls away from the side of the mixer in light air bubbles, about five minutes.
  • Place about 1 Tbsp of oil in a large bowl.  Move dough to bowl, tossing in oil to coat.
  • Cover with thick towels and place in a warm spot.
  • Let rise for about an hour, punch down to release air, and let sit to rise again, about another hour.
  • In a large heavy-bottom pot (I used a 7 quart Creuset dutch oven), heat oil on medium/high heat.
  • Pour sugar in a doubled small paper lunch bag (or use a large paper grocery bag).
  • Move dough to pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
  • Pipe dough directly into hot oil, snipping ends with kitchen scissors.
  • Fry for about 30 seconds (it should take about 30 seconds for you to pipe 10 churros in, and then you can start removing them one by one), then toss into the paper bag.
  • Toss in sugar and remove to a plate.
  • Add cinnamon to paper bag, and repeat frying and tossing a batch.
  • Add ginger, repeat.
  • Add nutmeg, repeat.
  • Serve warm to people you love, maybe with strong espresso or a glass of red table wine.

Rosemary Lavender Apple Galette

Rosemary Lavender Apple Galette

I was a very lucky little Dusty Baker in that I spent the majority of this past weekend surrounded by fancy food and scrumptious cocktails.  The Food Network New York City Wine and Food Festival definitely didn’t disappoint in either of those categories.

But, hey, I’m not a pastry chef.  Yes, I spend most of my time dreaming about alternative flours and wishing I were in a kitchen and not on a computer.  And maaaaaybe I find the things actual chefs do with pastry incredibly sexy.  But fancy-pants, personally, I am not.

So I was particularly at home when attending the Beekman Boys’ demo at the Grand Tasting on Sunday.  Farms?  Goats?  8-minute pastry?  Put the kettle on, boys, I’m stopping in.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys – otherwise known as Brent and Josh – own a farm upstate.  They bought it as weekend retreat before they both lost their jobs and needed to turn it into a mortgage-paying enterprise.  NYC foodies by nature, they turned their inherited goats (80 of them) into a soap-making machine.  Then cheese.  Then the rest is history.

Now they’ve got a new book out, following their documentary-like show on Planet Green, and are cornering the heirloom recipe market in all that’s old-school and tasty.

Which is exaclty what their demo was – old-school and extremely tasty.  With casual banter and a genteel charm, they made a galette with nothing more than a heaping cup of flour, a stick of butter, a fistful of sugar, a splash of milk, a rough chop of rosemary, some drizzled honey and some apples.  A recipe so easy you don’t need to write it down.  Which I didn’t.  Until this post.

What I shared with them (as I sat with a happy smile in the front row) was a love of lack-of-recipes-recipes.  Many that I’ve inherited from my family contain “a soup-spoon of butter” and “enough water to dissolve the yeast”.  I’ve made pastries alongside my Tia that may be two eggs and a cup of flour away from the original… and seem to work as amounts are remedied during the eye-ball process.  I love the feeling of just throwing things in a mixer, and the intuition that comes from just knowing how a basic pastry works.

It was also fitting that they described this as the perfect thing to whip together when a friend calls to say they’ll be stopping by on their way home from church… in about ten minutes.  Because as I wrapped up an article this morning I was just about to strap on my apron when an out-of-town friend asked if she could stop in… and that she had just parked her car down the street.  We had inherited some apples from my neighbor.  I always have flour, butter and the like on hand.  And I still have rosemary growing in my window-boxes.  I could throw this together in eight minutes.  So I did.

So this recipe is yours for the adaptation.  I used my standard gluten-free cake blend as my flour, palm sugar as my crust sweetener, and the rest of the leftover lavender-honey that I had on my shelf (from my current prosciutto-cheese-basil-melon-honey obsession that’s sadly going out the window along with the summer rain).  Use whatever fruit or savory ingredient you have on hand.  Add or omit sweetener as you see fit.  Grab whatever herbs from your garden or window box that sound exciting.  And enjoy the simple, homemade creation that is truly yours for the baking.

My piece... consumed with relish...


  • 1  heaping cup flour (a basic gluten-free / gluten-free cake blend works perfectly)
  • A handful of sugar (I used palm sugar)
  • A dash of kosher salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • Milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • About 4 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (or comparable amount of fruit or savory veg)
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp honey or however you want to sweeten the fruit
  • Dried lavender florets, optional
  • Egg white, yolk or milk to wash


  • Preheat oven to 400°.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat if desired.
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and sweetener.
  • Cut butter into thin slices and toss in.
  • With a fork, blend flour mixture and butter until flaky.  They pointed out that most recipes say “pea-sized”, but with the fork method it’s more flake than pea.
  • Add enough milk, slowly, pulling together with fork until the dough just comes together.
  • Roll on a floured surface until thin, either into a round or somewhat rectangular shape.
  • Transfer to baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle the center (leaving about an inch on all sides) with rosemary.
  • Optional: toss apples with about 2 Tbsp lemon.
  • Fill crust with apples, leaving a lip around the edge.
  • Drizzle with honey or sugar.
  • Fold the ends in to make a rounded crust, making sure there are no holes in the dough, and press to meet.
  • Wash with egg or milk.
  • Bake about 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.
  • Serve warm, preferably to drop-in guests.

Picture perfect.

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