Daily Archives: March 25, 2012

Gluten-Free Pastry Puff Party!

photo Brent Herrig

I’ve been obsessed with a gluten-free cream puff recipe.

Having gone without gluten for almost twenty years (minus the occasional succumbing to a bowl of homemade pasta passed to me or the gloriousness of a chewy piece of bread on my family’s island in Portugal just last week), delicate, precious things like filled pastry puffs had long been far from my food thoughts.

But when I sourced a bakery for gluten-free Easy Eats magazine’s Sweet Surprise column in our most recent issue, those thoughts shifted.  As I assisted the food stylist on the shoot I fell enamored of the smooth, thick dough that puffed into crackly rounds.  I was amazed by how such seemingly simple ingredients and a rather quick process could make something so delightful.

So my proposal for FoodBuzz’s 24×24 dinner party – where 24 bloggers from around the world host and post on the same day – quickly centered around the thought: how much can I play with this in one meal?  The owner of the bakery and creator of the recipe, Geri Peacock, had mentioned that, growing up as a child, her mother and grandmother filled the shells with things both savory and sweet.  It was a bit of her heritage that she had adapted for the gluten-free community years later.

So I rounded up some friends, checked in about their dietary issues and cultural backgrounds, and set them in the living room with some cocktails and a really random mix of music, and got to stuffing.

The pastry recipe is below, with my thoughts about how to make each batch spot on.  Click on the images for links to the other recipes.

And please check out Easy Eats magazine for the original recipe and other beautiful gluten-free recipes, lifestyle tips and stunning photos – and my most recent feature of five gluten free pasta recipes! Oh, and coming out in May, my feature of six top-notch chefs give us their own food thoughts and easy-to-execute classic recipes made gluten free (two of the chefs even put gluten-free options on their menus after!).

Oh, and mucho thanks to my photographer, Brent Herrig, for plating and snapping away.  All images are his.

Brent Herrig © 2012

Gluten-Free Pastry Puffs

Makes about 36 puffs, depending on size

The original pastry recipe took a teeny tiny bit of playing with – things like the position of the oven rack and sheets used made a huge difference in how one sheet would either rise and become too thin or remain deliciously eggy but too dense.  Luckily they are rather quick to whip up, and once you get the hang of it you can start swapping flours and fats with relative ease.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, Earth Balance or lard
  • 2 cups Cherbourg Bakery flour blend
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  • dash of salt


Heat oven to 400° with rack in the center / one notch down from center.  Line 3 baking sheets with Silpat (the original recipe says ungreased cookie sheets but mine continually stuck that way – could be my ancient oven).

In a small pot on high heat, bring the water and butter (once it’s melted) to a full boil.  Lower the heat, add the flour all at once, and mix thoroughly, using a combination of smearing together and folding to completely incorporate the flour into the liquid.  Cook until a smooth ball forms.  Immediately transfer to a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Beat in eggs one at a time, starting on a low setting then raising to incorporate.  About halfway through, beat until smooth, and then continue with the rest of the eggs.  Once all are in, beat for about one minute on medium-high speed.

Drop on sheets in smooth lumps, about one tablespoon for smaller puffs (what I used for dessert) and twice the size for larger ones.  Bake one at a time for 30 minutes (I was lucky to use a neighbor’s oven as well).  Once you put the puffs in, don’t open the oven for a good 25 minutes to check – they need the heat to rise properly.  Cool for a few minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Depending on the sturdiness of the puffs, I cut out small tops and filled them or sliced them in half and used them in a slider-type of way.  As they’re light, eggy and rather flavor-neutral, they worked well with strong savory and sweet flavors equally.

Puff Pastry Party Menu

Piri Shrimp

This is the one dish for which I’m not posting a recipe, because I totally cheated and just threw 1 pound of ethically caught shrimp (as in not from Thailand and labeled with certain standards) with 1 bottle of Very Peri Mild (I was sent some to test out and it’s quite delightful).  I marinated it overnight and then threw them in a hot pan with the juice of one fresh lemon.  YUM!

Lamb Stew

Garden Chicken Salad

Jerusalem Artichoke and Kohlrabi

Mini Banana Split with Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mini Strawberry Shortcakes with Dairy-Free Liquid Cheesecake

Mini Gluten-Free Pastry Puff Strawberry Shortcakes

Brent Herrig, 2012

Fruit and cream are two of my favorite things to smash together, but since I’ve been dairy-free for almost 20 years (save for butter, which as such little protein in it I can indulge), it’s not a combo I get too often.

In dreaming about what sweets I could fill into gluten-free puff pastries other than the traditional cream for my FoodBuzz 24×24 party, the combo naturally came to mind.  Why not do a mini take on a strawberry shortcake to compliment my cool and minty Mini Banana Splits?

This combo is quite adorable – full of flavor and texture, nostalgic and simple.  And look how cute and romantic.

I’m all smiles.  Love.

Mini Gluten-Free Puff Pastry Strawberry Shortcakes

Serves 12


  • 1/2 recipe gluten-free puff pastry, baked with about 1 Tbsp each for a small size
  • 1 quart of strawberries, chopped small
  • 1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake, baked an additional five minutes to set almost firm
  • 2 Tbsp organic sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint, plus 12 small leaves for garnishing
  • Powdered sugar


Combine the strawberries, chopped mint and sugar in a small bowl, and stir to combine.  Refrigerate a few hours or overnight to let the flavors meld.

To serve, cut a small hole in each of the pastries.  Fill with strawberries.  Use a mini cookie scoop to scoop out a round of liquid cheesecake.  Tuck mint leave in between layer.  Top with pastry top.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Mini Pastry Puff Banana Splits with Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Brent Herrig, 2012

I love food, I love to eat, and I love to host.

So my FoodBuzz 24×24 Gluten-Free Puff Pastry Party was a whole lot of fun.

But no matter the occasion, I always scheme up dessert first.  I want my desserts to look pretty and be layered with as many flavors and texures as possible.  A friend at the party (a private chef whose job I may be taking over) told me my savory flavors are spot on but I have to work on my plating.  Rightly so.  I find cooking as comfort and, while I savor the artistry in what others do with it, it’s medicine and sustenance to me.  Dessert is where I play.

I wanted two gluten and dairy free dessert recipes for my shindig, and decided on tiny takes of both a banana split and a strawberry shortcake.

Both results made me extremely happy.  Like, tiny dance of joy when no one was looking happy.  They’re incredibly simple, and nostalgically delightful.

As spring has finally come to NYC, it was also time to store the crockpot and bring out my little ice cream churner, a yearly move I always look forward to.  I decided on a dairy-free mint chocolate chip ice cream for this go around, but my Coffee, Honeybun or Pomegranate Lime variations would be fun too – all dairy-free, of course.  And the basic coconut milk to egg mixture and method would obviously work with a whole slew of flavors.


Brent Herrig © 2012

Gluten-Free Mini Puff Pastry Banana Split

Makes 12 mini splits


  • 1/2 recipe gluten-free puff pastry
  • 1 recipe Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream (recipe follows)
  • 2 bananas, cut into thirds lengthwise and then into six wedges
  • nuts, chocolate chips and fruit for garnishing

Um, you know how to make a banana split, right?  Have fun tossing things together.  I used a small cookie scoop to portion out the ice cream, with two scoops on each split.  Adorable.

Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream


  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk (about 3 cups)
  • 8 yolks from large eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch,
  • 1 3oz bar of dark, dairy-free chocolate, chopped (I used Endangered Species, which I love)


In a bowl, beat the egg yolk with the honey.

In a medium pot, bring 3/4 of the coconut milk up to a steam / very low simmer, then turn off heat.  Temper the egg yolk by slowly whisking in some hot coconut milk, about 2 Tbsp at a time, until it’s thoroughly warmed (basically you’re trying to heat the eggs without cooking them).  Add the egg mixture to the milk, and begin to heat on low.  Whisk the cornstarch with the remaining coconut milk, then whisk into the egg/milk mixture.  Whisk in extracts and salt.  Continue whisking until the mixture begins to thicken into a soft custard, about 5-8 minutes.  It won’t get fully thick, but should get to the point where it will coat a spoon.

Remove to a bowl and chill until thoroughly cold.

Add to ice cream maker and churn until thick, about 20 minutes, adding the chopped chocolate as soon as the mixture begins to thicken and freeze.  Remove to freezer until frozen.

Jerusalem Artichoke and Kohlrabi Pastry Puffs

Brent Herrig © 2012

I found some Jerusalem artichokes in my market a few weeks ago, and then time got away from me and they remained… in my fridge.

So when I realized my FoodBuzz 24×24 Gluten-Free Puff Pastry Party was a little light on the veg, it went into a pot with some kohlrabi, onions, garlic and tumeric.  I’d normally use this combo as a side or puree for something extremely rich and hearty, but as I like my vegetables simple and clean, this combo still satisfied me.

For the gluten-free puff pastry recipe and this dish’s party compatriots, check out the menu.

Brent Herrig 2012


  • 1/2 lb Jerusalem artichokes
  • 4 small kohlrabi
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 2″ piece of tumeric, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp butter


Boil the artichokes until soft, then peel off the skins with your hands (easier than peeling).  Mash.

Peel and boil the kohlrabi until fork-tender.  Chop small.

In a small pan, heat olive oil.  Add onion, garlic and tumeric and cook until soft.  Add the butter, artichokes and kohlrabi, and mix to combine and heat through.

If desired, puree until smooth with a hand blender.

Garden Chicken Salad

Brent Herrig © 2012

I never think to make my own chicken salad, which is super silly because a fresh chicken salad – absent of mayo (though I love it) and teeming with bits of crisp, fresh veggies – is a ridiculously versatile little dish.  And for my FoodBuzz Gluten Free Puff Pastry party, I knew I had to have something springlike and comforting.

For this one I loaded it up with lots of fun things I had on hand and a poppyseed dressing I adore, along with some tart goat milk yogurt.  The combination of flavors, colors and textures, popped in to the little puff pastries, was a huge hit.

Click here for the gluten-free puff pastry recipe.

Brent Herrig © 2012

Garden Chicken Salad

Serves 4 as a main, or 12 appetizer portions


  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • water, chicken stock and white wine (whatever your preference)
  • 1/2 cup Brianna’s Poppyseed dressing
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used goat milk yogurt)
  • 3/4 cup cooked green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp poppyseeds
  • 1/2 recipe gluten-free puff pastry


Poach the chicken: place the 3 breasts in a medium stockpot.  Cover with water, stock or wine (or a combination of all three, whichever’s your preference).  Add rosemary, about 1/2 tsp kosher salt and a few healthy grinds of pepper.  Bring liquid to a simmer, then cover and remove from heat.  Let sit until the inside of the chicken comes to 160°, about 15 minutes.  Cool completely (or chill overnight), then cube or shred chicken.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients but sunflower seeds, cranberries and poppyseeds.  Mix well, cover, and let chill overnight if possible.  Just before serving, fold in seeds and berries. Sprinkle with poppyseeds.

Lamb Stew

I’m a rustic cook, leaning towards the comfort foods of my Portuguese and Irish / Italian roots, all of which focus on simple flavor combinations and fresh ingredients.  Lamb is one of my favorite meats to stew when cut well, and as I missed my beloved St. Patrick’s Day (I was in Portugal working on a few pieces where the celebrations don’t really exist), I was ready to throw this together for my FoodBuzz Gluten-Free Puff Pastry Party.

This recipe – like all stew recipes – is endlessly adaptable.  I didn’t include some ingredients that my diners couldn’t eat, substituting with what was at hand, fresh and affordable.  Don’t be afraid to add in other herbs or veggies that tingle your tastebuds.  And for a bit more formal of a dish, serve in these teeny tiny puff pastries for a hearty appetizer or in a bread bowl for a twist on the classic New England.

Lamb Stew

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Serves 3 as a meal, or 12 appetizer portions

When making for puff pastries, make sure to chop / dice your ingredients to a smaller scale, about 1/2 inch.


  • 1 lb lamb in small stew pieces (fry with paper towels to make sure there’s no excess moisture)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped fine
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 small carrots, chopped
  • 5 small Yukon gold or red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 4 sprigs rosemary, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 cup dark red wine plus more to taste
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock
  • 1/4 cup cider or white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • The most dynamic blend of peppercorns you have, to taste
  • 1/2 recipe gluten-free puff pastry


Preheat oven to 300°.

In a medium oven-friendly, heavy-bottomed pot (my Le Creuset 5 1/2 quart dutch oven is a kitchen VIP), heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic, and saute until soft, about 6 minutes. 

Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of meat with salt and pepper.  Add to pot, and brown on each side.  Turn heat to high, and add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then put into oven. 

Cook until the meat is tender and the vegetables are soft, 1-2 hours as desired (you can keep the stew in the oven and it will continue to cook slowly, tenderizing the meat even more). 

The stew tastes better the second day, when you can bring it up to heat and adjust flavors as desired.

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