Tag Archives: greatest hits

{gluten-free} 3-Gingers Snaps!

“If you want really spicy cookies, go try those ginger snaps…”

This was said to me last Monday at the Serious Eats 5th Annual Cookie Swap, a fun little shindig with an impressive variety of sweets and some serious cocktails that I was told (but had a hard time believing) were somehow even stronger last year. Of course I didn’t actually get to try anyone else’s cookies (or the gorgeous canelles that Dessertbuzz brought and we were all oohing and aahing over!) because mine were the only gluten-free option of the bunch. I wasn’t going to even label them as such, but did just in case there was another “me” in attendance. When Niko (Dessertbuzz) told me to check out the “really spicy cookies” and I responded, “They’re mine!”, I was rewarded with a happy face standing next to them, noshing away. He’d been trying to stick to a gluten-free diet, and was psyched to find my little plate amongst the gorgeous spread.

So, yes, these are really spicy gluten-free ginger snaps! Continue reading

{gluten-free} Italian Wedding Cookies (Lemon Cake Cookies)

There are a few gluten-full recipes I miss from long ago and haven’t yet tackled, and Christmas is the perfect time for playing with them!

Growing up, my Auntie Jo always brought lemony Italian Wedding Cookies to our summer family functions. Bursting with lemon oil and encased in a thin layer of powdered sugar icing, they were a simple cookie, and one of my favorites. I now have Auntie Jo, my cousin Diane and my mother’s versions of the recipe, and the other day tried my own hand at them for a little shindig I was throwing.

Continue reading

Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake – Gluten-Free for Milk Bar Mondays!

Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake

Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake

I interview chefs weekly for Serious Eats, a national website that covers restaurants, bars, recipes and events. Lately the subject of diminishing pastry chefs and departments has come up a bit, most prominently with Lauren Resler, a pastry chef I adore who turns out layered, whimsical desserts for her restaurants, Empellon Taqueria and Empellon Cocina here in NYC (if you haven’t been – go!).

I’ve questioned many a pastry chef as to who they think the next “it” chef of their generation would be; a Michael Laiskonis, Johnny Iuzzini or Alex Stupak on the rise. Many of the chefs I’ve asked say something simple needs to be done: someone needs to focus on reinventing classics with a deeply personal twist, something old but incredibly new as well.

As I adapted Christina Tosi’s Chocolate Malt Layer Cake into a version us gluten-free eaters can enjoy, I realized that Tosi may just be that chef. Granted I’ve never eaten one of her desserts, as they’re all loaded with gluten and dairy. But as the Milk Bar Mondays ladies and I have baked our way through her cookbook, I see that she’s doing exactly what we want someone to be doing: elevating classics into something so over the top that, like pastry chef Stephen Collucci said when trying her Cereal Milk Ice Cream, “it’s so good it’s stupid”.

This cake is so good it’s stupid.

Continue reading

Crack Pie – Gluten Free Milk Bar Mondays

Gluten-free Crack Pie from Empress Tosi

I admit, my faith was challenged.

While this pie (and its custardy cousins) were in the oven, I doubted Tosi’s recipe writing and my history with gluten and dairy free adaptations.

Problem: the original recipe called for heavy cream.  I substituted with coconut milk, which was much more watery in the can than others I’ve opened, and realized I should have tossed in yet another yolk.

Problem: it’s a holiday weekend and I had been home for mere hours, with a laundry list of to-do’s.  Do-overs were not possible.

Problem: the original recipes includes milk powder and… um… I’m allergic to milk (save for butter, which has so little protein in it I can get away now and then with using it).

So I adapted and altered and doubted and gave up… then wanted to smack myself.

I have no idea how Crack Pie is supposed to taste… but I could see how my variation could take that title.

If you’re diabetic or hypoglycemic… stop reading right now.

If you’re neither, get ready for a super-sweet, gooey, rich pie that will have you shivering in your shoes.  The chewy, gooeyness is so good you might want to smack something, too.  It’s got a smoky brown sugar center with an undercurrent of oat cookie.  This version definitely isn’t as custardy as my Milk Bar Monday cohorts’, but I’m still addicted, so much so that I’ll have to attempt again sometime and adapt a bit more with what I know about dairy-free custarding.  But for something almost caramely in texture, make this.  And make sure to have someone to give a lot of it to, lest you end up in a sugar-coma.

Happy Milk Bar Mondays, folks.

And, Ms. Tosi… sorry for ever doubting you.

– Jacqueline

Meet the Ladies of Milk Bar Mondays!

Meagan of Scarletta Bakes (go to her site for the original recipe)

Erin of Big Fat Baker

Cassie of Bake Your Day

Audra of The Baker Chick

Nicole of Sweet Peony

Krissy of Krissy’s Creations

Averie of Averie Cooks

Follow the group on Twitter!

Crack Pie and Pie-lettes

Gluten-Free Crack Pie (Dairy Optional)

  • 1 recipe Oat Cookie (recipe follows)
  • 15g / 1 Tbsp tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1g / 1/4 tsp salt

———-

  • 55g / 4Tbsp butter, melted, plus more if needed

———-

  • 1 recipe Crack Pie Filling (recipe follows)

———-

Assembling the Pie

  1. Heat oven to 350°
  2. Put the cookie, brown sugar and salt into a food processor and grind to a grainy powder.
  3. Put crumbs into a bowl and add butter.  With your hands, knead into a ball.  If it’s falling apart, add a bit more melted butter.  Because of the gluten-free aspect, my version wasn’t totally tacky – it’s okay.  Just make sure the majority of the recipe pulls together.
  4. Divide the crust into the two pie plates, pressing with your hands to spread the mixture evenly.  I actually used one pie plate and then divided the rest amongst a few ramekins, as my recipe didn’t look like it was going to make two compete pies.  Result?  I had awesome little single-portions at the ready!
  5. Put pie shells / ramekins on a cookie sheet.  Fill with pie filling to about 3/4 way full.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, then turn down the heat to 325° and bake until the center is jiggly but the sides are set.  This took me much longer than the original recipe called for, I think because of the lower level of fat since I used thin coconut milk instead of heavy cream… use your judgment.
  7. Cool completely, then freeze for 6 hours or overnight to get the filling to be perfectly chewy, creamy and crack-pie-y.

Ooey, gooey Crack Pielette

Oat Cookie

  • 115g / 8Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used butter-flavored Earth Balance)
  • 75g / 1/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 40g / 3Tbsp granulated sugar

———-

  • 1 egg yolk

———-

  • 80g flour / 1/2 cup (I used my hodge-podge gluten-free bin for this… with cookies I find it doesn’t matter all too much in such a circumstance)
  • 120g / 1.5 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • .5g / 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • .25g / pinch of baking soda
  • 2g / .5 tsp kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Combine the sugars and butter / Earth Balance in the bowl of standing mixer with the paddle attachment and cream on medium/high for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and yellow.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn the speed to low and add the egg yolk.  Increase to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes, until the egg is fully incorporated and the mixture is pale.
  3. On low speed, add all the dry ingredients and mix until the dough just comes together.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Spray a quarter sheet pan with cooking spray and fit with parchment.  With your hands, spread the mixture evenly.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the center is soft but the edges are set and crispy.
  5. Cool completely before making into crust.

———-

Crack Pie Filling

  • 300g / 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 180g / 3/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 30g / 1/3 cup corn powder (get freeze-dried corn and crush it into a fine powder in a food processor)
  • 6g kosher salt / 1.5 tsp

———–

  • 225g / 2 sticks melted butter

———-

  • 160g / 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2g / 1.2 tsp vanilla extract

———-

  • 8 egg yolks (separate these with your fingers instead of with egg shells – you don’t want any egg white to get into this mixture!)

———-

  1. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, corn powder and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment and paddle on low until evenly dispersed.
  2. Add the melted butter and mix on low until the dry ingredients are nice and evenly wet.
  3. Add the coconut milk and vanilla and paddle on low for about 2 minutes until no signs of coconut milk remain.
  4. Add the egg yolks and mix on low until the mixture is smooth and shiny.  Keep the mixer on low so that now air gets into the batter, but make sure the mixture gets silky smooth.

Coconut Milk Creme Brulee – Easy, Spot-On and Dairy Free!

How time does fly!

This recipe is from 2011, and it’s still one of the most popular ones on this site. It produces a quick, thick creme brulee that’s great for beginners. Want something a touch above? Try my updated version with Chef Joe Murphy as part of my Pro Pastry, Gluten (and dairy!) Free series.

And for the adorable original text, scroll below the recipe.

Happy torching!

– Jacqueline

Crunchy crust and lightly lemon scented biscuits

This recipe made FoodBuzz’s Top 9 on December 29th! Thanks for all the buzzing love!

Dairy-Free Creme Brulee

Ingredients:

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped

Equipment:

  • 4 5oz ramekins
  • glass or ceramic baking dish
  • kitchen torch

Method:

Preheat oven to 300° F.  Set a pot or kettle full of water on to boil.

In a medium bowl whisk eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla until creamy and smooth.  Add coconut milk and blend until smooth.

Pour into ramekins.

Place in ceramic baking dish and pour hot water until it comes halfway up the ramekins.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until just slightly jiggly in the middle.

Cool until ready to serve or chill until cold.  When ready, sprinkle with about 2 tsp white sugar and torch until crispy and brown.

Notes: It’s a bit dense.  I based the recipe on one that used lemon to cut the thickness.  But unlike some other dairy-free creme brulee recipes you won’t have to worry about it not setting.  While I was totally pleased with this turnout, you could probably omit one yolk and still find success.

Also, HERE’S THE TORCH I HAVE. You’ll use it more than you think you will. Charring marshmallows and browning meringue are just two fun things…

Life is delicious.  After a packed weekend of family and amazing food and lit fires and lots of hugging, I sat back at a desk Monday morning, worked the day away, then packed Mitra and my Christmas loot into my little blue Subaru and booked it back to NYC.  Because I had a guest coming over.  A man.  Who was cooking me dinner.

I’m not the easiest person to cook for, having this whole gluten and dairy free diet thing.  My last two boyfriends were great eaters and practically non-existent cooks (Ruark, three bf’s ago, makes a meat sauce to die for).  Being domestically bent, I easily fall into the role of kitchen wizard (so a friend once called me) in relationships.  I now have a “no cooking for you before the 4th date rule” (a loose rule, but there nonetheless).  So a guy offering to come to my place to cook on our second date… was a first.

(Side note: I’m getting distracted writing up this post because there’s a horrible holiday movie my roommate recorded playing and while it’s truly wretched Mark-Paul Gosselaar is a-DOR-able. Definitely aging well.)

While I made some fancy cocktails (ginger ale, fresh sweet lime and zested ginger with bourbon for me and vodka for him), date man made us an incredible dinner.  Flavorful, tasty, relaxed, and much appreciated.  I made dessert.  A dairy-free creme brulee with loads of vanilla and a perfectly torched crust.

We didn’t end up eating it.  Cocktails with neighbors led to a late evening and full bellies.  So tonight my under-slept self enjoyed the crap outta it while watching Mad Men (and said horrible/adorable Christmas movie)  and cuddling the dog.  Neighbors upstairs got the rest.  It’s dense and just sweet enough, with the perfect little crunch.  Using vanilla bean gives it an incredible punch.  I’ve so missed creme brulee, and now I’m satiated.

Let me know if you make it, who you share it with, how you adapt it, and what you think.

Cheers to second dates, Christmases full of goodness, Mad Men, and little dogs.

Classic Butter Cutout Cookies (gluten free) – the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

I’m gonna get a sentimental for a moment.

I have a very clear memory of my first Christmas with Lyme Disease, when I was 12 or 13 years old.  I was upstairs in my room, having been excused from the dinner table.  It was a cold winter.  I was in a lot of pain.  I hadn’t eaten much food, because I could barely digest anything at that point.  I had been carried upstairs, as I had lost almost my entire ability to walk.  I could hear laughter, and smell delicious things, and I felt very alone and very sad.  I cried, all bundled in bed, and listened to Windham Hill Artist’s A Winter Solstice, which my mother would play to comfort me.  The song “Gift” has always stuck with me – a gentle bit of comfort when feeling ill and lonely.

I pulled out of that bout of Lyme, and two others, and walked again.  My ability to move from point A to point B is something I will never take for granted, and a reason I so fully love walking in the 60-mile Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure.

Changing my diet is what healed me.  Yes, I’ve taken a lot of antibiotics in my 18 years of battling Lyme.  But every time I’ve gone through treatment it has not been until I’ve worked with a nutritionist of some sort and been put on a strict diet with lots of supplements and vitamin drips that I’ve seen results.

As a child it was obviously hard.  There weren’t cookbooks and blogs on gluten or dairy free baking.  There was one alternative for gluten free bread, and it was horrid.  Rice Dream was no substitute for ice cream, and the only offering.  Whole Foods did not exist, at least not in Connecticut.  There was almost no “alternative baking”.  It was a huge adjustment for my parents.

So this holiday season I’ve found myself overwhelmed with joy, gratitude and a feeling of community.  In one weekend I participated in three cookie swaps.

The first, the NY Cookie Swap organized by Three Many Cooks for Bloggers Without Borders, benefited Cookies for Kids Cancers.  Obviously any way I can help other children fight their illnesses, I’m in.  I remember how hard it was for my parents, seeing me sick as a child, a college student and as a full adult, and how my father sometimes tears up to this day, knowing I will never be as free of illness as he wishes I could be.  On a crisp Sunday afternoon dozens of bloggers met for some barbecue, margaritas and cookie swapping.  It was a joy to put faces and voices to the blog names I’ve seen all over the web.  And there was an entire table set aside for gluten-free cookies.  Awesome.  (Getting misty-eyed).

My monthly Burwell General Store Swap went up that Sunday as well.  Every month I join a group of 25 or so bloggers in adapting a recipe to our heart’s content.  Mine, of course, are gluten free.  I love this group of talented home and professional chefs.  For the NY and Burwell swaps I made Mesquite Gingerbread Men (recipe soon) and Chocolate Almond Biscotti, the recipe of which was chosen for FoodBuzz’s Top 9!

And then there’s this: the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, which required me to ship out 1 dozen cookies each to 3 bloggers I had been paired with – all gluten-free eaters.  In return I’d get three dozen different cookies as well! Awesome, no?

I am so very thankful for my ability to walk, my ability to eat what some see as a limited but I see as an incredible diverse and dynamic scope of food.  And I’m so thankful to have grown with a community of those who need to eat the same way, who pool information and resources, and to be able to teach some of what I have learned in my 18 years of living this way.

While I look back on that first Lyme Christmas as a blue one, the only blue snowflakes that are falling for me now are the ones I’m dunking in my almond milk.

Thanks to Three Many Cooks for the NY Cookie Swap and Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for organizing the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

I don’t have pictures of the beautiful gluten free cookies I received in the swap because as soon as they came in they were either in my mouth or on a plate and out the door with a collection of others.  They were so delicious and looked so nice alongside others that I had made for gifting, and, well, I’ve seen myself on camera lately and I have to WATCH MY COOKIES.

Julie from Swim… Bike… Running on Empty sent some deliciously moist gluten, corn and dairy free vegan pumpkin bites that were laced with nuts and chocolate as well.  The perfect soft cakey-cookie.  Check out her blog for healthy living tips including balancing all these cookies with exercise (which some of us need to incorporate more, note to self).  Follow her Tweets, people!

Maria from Gluten-Free Girl in Chicago‘s White Sugar Cookies with Pecans reintroduced me to the love of dipping cookies in milk.  Don’t know why, but I’m as excited about this practice as if I’d just discovered the combo myself.  Her crisp, delicate cookies were made with Earth Balance Coconut Spread (which I’d never heard of) and Better Batter All Purpose Flour.  So two new things for the DB.  I’m making them asap.  Since I have a big thing of almond milk waiting for me in the fridge.  Also check her out on Twitter.

Lastly, Clean Eating Chelsey’s Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies were just the perfect way to round out this trio.  I loved how they weren’t that sweet.  I find a huge difference between gluten-free and/or vegan eaters: we generally use less sugar. When adapting some recipes I’ll think something is WAY too sweet and my regular eating friends will disagree.  So these soft, chewy cookies (also perfect in almond milk) with big chunks of vegan chocolate and a strong coconut oil flavor were divine.  Follow her on Twitter too.

Classic Butter Snowflake Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen large snowflake cookies

Ingredients:

Adapted from the Classic Sugar Cookies by Saveur

  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups arrowroot or tapioca flour
  • 1 cup quinoa or millet flour
  • 3 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter (3 sticks), soft
  • 2 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp Meringue / Egg White Powder
  • 1/2-1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or almond, cinnamon etc.)
  • Gel food coloring
  • Colored sanding sugar and edible glitter

Method: Cookies

Whisk the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes (especially when using organic sugars or sucanat, you need to mix longer as they don’t break down or dissolve very well).  Add the eggs, one a time, beating thoroughly between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.

Slowly add the flour, and mix until the dough just pulls together and the flour is blended in.

Divide in four, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for 45 minutes or until a bit firmer.

When ready to cut and bake, preheat oven to 325°.  On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with 3 inch snowflake cookie cutters (or cutters of choice, of course).  Bake for 15 minutes or until just brown at edges.  Cool for 5 minutes on sheet before removing to cooling racks.  Cool completely before icing.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Note: It’s easier to re-roll gluten-free cookies than regular cookies because you don’t have the presence of the gluten protein to make them tougher.  However, the softer the dough gets, the less crisp and crumbly it will be.

Method: Royal Icing

To make the icing, place sifted powdered sugar and meringue / egg white powder in bowl of standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add 1/2 cup of warm water and mix on medium low to incorporate.  If it is very dry, add a bit more water.  Increase speed to high and beat until glossy and stiff, about 6 minutes.

Now, some people freak out with royal icing.  I find it fun.  Because if you need thinner icing for piping a trillion cookies smoothly, just add warm water a teaspoon at a time until you get to the consistency you want.  Mix gel food colorings in a desired amount in small bowls.  This mixture makes about 3 cups, which is plenty for this batch of cookies.

Have fun with icing tips to pipe thick frosting on the snowflakes, and immediately sprinkle with shimmery sanding sugar or edible glitter as you go.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti – A Recipe Swap!

Toll House Chocolate Almond Biscotti

It’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap time again! And a holiday swap at that!

Quick catch-up for newcomers: About 13 months ago Christianna over at Burwell General Store started a recipe swap with Lindsay of Rosemarried, where she gives a recipe to a group of bloggers and we all change at least 3 things about the recipe.  With the coming of the second year we’re now a group of about 25 bloggers and just changed over to our second book, “The Second Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places”.  While I’ve cherished “All Day Singin and Dinner on the Ground”, there’s something momentous about changing books.  The swap has been one of my favorite discoveries since starting this blog, and I look forward every month to seeing what the group has come up with, as well as connecting regularly on what’s inspiring us in and out of the kitchen.  Check out their posts on the little frog link below, and my Recipe Swap category for more!

New year, new book!

This month, with the craziness of the holidays, Christianna gave us something classic: the Toll House Cookie.  I got all mushy and sentimental when I saw the recipe.  Because for as long as my little dusty heart can remember my mother has kept her recipes, in bits and pieces, in a Toll House recipe book.  Its plastic brown cover contains so many recipes that we played with over the years, and many that are still favorites in our family.  Before the internet food world, before this blog, before I knew of single-origin chocolates, the science of baking gluten free, and became what some people might call a “food snob”, there was that book.

December's recipe: look at the adorable bit of history!

One of my favorites as a youngster was my momma’s biscotti.  Crisp and full of mini chips, she made several variations for her abundant plate of holiday cookies.  As I had to gluten free myself, she started adapting some of the recipes.  Or, at least, she tried.  It was sort of a running joke for a while between my siblings and I that she would attempt to make foods that I could eat, and then upon running down a list of ingredients she’d slap her head and go, “ah, sh*t!”.  Including the first time or two she made me “gluten and dairy free” biscotti; then realized she used regular chocolate chips.

But, as I did, she practiced and learned.  And now hers is one of the few houses I can go to and know I will eat, and I will eat well.

Mom and the Dusty sibs, Christmas 2009

So I wanted to take this classic Toll House Cookie recipe and make it into a biscotti.  And while no other biscotti will ever give me the same satisfaction as one made by my mom, these are pretty perfect.  Crispy, flavored with almond, perfect for dunking in sweet wine (an Italian recently told me that’s the way to do it), coffee or a glass of chilled almond milk (or cow, for you lucky dairy people!).

Happy Holidays, Swappers.  And, thanks, mom.  I love ya more than my luggage (10 cookies if you name that movie).

Mom and me at the end of the Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure!

Oh, and mom, if you read this… Christmas is coming… hint hint.  And yours, please, not mine.

– Jacqueline, The DB

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Makes 18, Adapted from the Toll House Cookie and Toll House Biscotti recipes, with some dusty love.

Notes: I grew up with denser, harder biscotti, so to replicate that I baked the roll until it was slightly underdone, then cut and toasted it.  If you want yours crispier and a bit drier, bake completely before toasting.  I’ve made this recipe both ways with success.  Also, you can swap so many things in and out of this recipes: try cranberries, dried fruits, other nuts, go wild!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups starch-heavy gluten free flour (mine was 1 cup brown rice and 1/3 cup millet and 2/3 cup arrowroot)
  • 2 Tbsp Sweet Rice Flour, plus more if the dough seems sticky
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (or 1 Tbsp flax seed if you’re avoiding xanthan)
  • 1 Tbsp Mesquite flour (totally optional)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, soft
  • 5 Tbsp white sugar
  • 5 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment or Silpat, or lightly grease.

Pour almonds on a second, dry, sheet and toast in the oven while preparing the biscotti.  Check occasionally so they don’t burn, and remove when slightly golden in color. (They will look all pale one second and like Troy after the horse in the next, so keep a close eye. A toaster oven works too.)

In a medium bowl combine flours, gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally.  Add eggs one at a time, beat to incorporate.  Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.  With the mixer on slow, add flour and beat to combine, increasing speed to incorporate.  Mix in nuts and chocolate chips.

With floured hands, roll into a 12-inch log and place on prepared sheet (or longer if you want smaller cookies).  Round top slightly.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cracked on top and slightly firm.  It shouldn’t be cooked completely, so the center should seem a tad underdone.

Remove to cooling rack and cool for at least 10 minutes.  Slice into into 1/2 inch slices and gently slide onto cookie sheet, cut side down.  They will be a bit crumbly, so use a spatula to gently flip them on the sheet.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until crisp and brown.  Cool completely before serving.

Enjoy with or give to someone you love!

Basic Gluten-Free Pie Crust (and 3 ways to make it!)

Oh my goodness! I have been here, there and everywhere this past week, with blogging and reading other blogs a very missed activity.

Not that I haven’t been baking.   The kitchen has been plenty dusty with vegan cheesecake, gluten-free vegan mesquite graham crackers (for the cheesecake, but then I had to sandwich them with homemade marshmallows and Kallari dark chocolate…had to, really), the first draft of gluten-free maple cakes for a recipe swap, gluten-free cranberry walnut scones, and more hot chocolate recipes than is good for anyone’s blood sugar.

Then there’s been interviewing (on both sides of the table), invoicing, prepping for a photo shoot, doing some research for Easy Eats magazine (a gorgeous digital gluten-free magazine, check it out!) writing scripts for some final episodes of something really fun, seeing friends’ shows, putting my dog into a costume for Halloween (yes, I’ve become one of those people who exploits their defenseless animal for their own amusement), and catching up with a pal on his way to India (not jealous, nope, not at all).

I also had to say goodbye to a dear friend – my macro camera lens.  It was a loaner, one that I fully intended to accidentally keep.  But it had to go home Friday.

While I was sad to say goodbye to the lens, this is what it created, so it was a worthy sacrifice:

It’s a trailer for a friend’s newest novel.  Yes, evidently books get trailers now too.  She’s an incredible writer and a lovely person, so if you have a young-ish lady in your life, grab the book when it comes out in January.

And while I’m at it, here’s another friend’s amazing creation:

This puppet marched alongside a 40-foot Brooklyn Bridge and NY Stock Exchange Bull in the NYC Halloween parade on Monday with the Occupy Wall Street protesters.  My buddy Joe is quite a beautiful artist and just one of those people that makes this planet so fascinating and full of love.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by inspirational friends, those involved with and aside from food!

Speaking of which, now that Halloween is over can we officially start baking for the holidays?  Please, please, pretty please?!  I’ve already rough-drafted my Thanksgiving menu and pondered the new cookie recipes I’ll be gluten-freeing for Christmas.

After I spent a few hours in a senior center kitchen on Saturday morning (felt a bit guilty that other Meals on Wheels volunteers were out delivering in the snow and I got to stay in nice and cozy and make whipped crean), I hunkered down with my recipes in my home kitchen and forced myself not to put on Christmas music.  That’s what a snow storm in October will inspire in you.  Well, in me, at least.

But now it’s officially November, so here it is: the perfect gluten-free pie crust, ready for your apples or pumpkins or sweet potatoes or whatever it is that means holiday to you.  Shortly I’ll have a gluten-free, vegan pumpkin pie up here for a lovely reader who requested the recipe.  Until then, I’m going to make this crust over and over and toss whatever I have around in it.

Incredibly easy, insanely buttery, delightfully flaky… they’ll never know it’s gluten-free.

Ingredients:

  • gluten-free flour blend: 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch OR arrowroot starch, 1/4 cup millet flour, 1 tsp xanthan gum, 2 Tbsp sticky rice flour.
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp palm, sucanat or white sugar
  •  1 stick unsalted butter (higher fat the better)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Method:

If you have a standing mixer, place the flours, salt and sugar in the bowl and fix with a paddle attachment.  Mix flours to combine thoroughly.  Cube or thinly slice the butter, add to the bowl, toss to mix.  Then mix on low until the butter is just incorporated into the flour, making it look like cornmeal or buttery flakes.  Make a well in the center, add the egg and lemon juice, and mix on low until just combined, to the point where it doesn’t pull into a ball but is about to.  Gather with your hands, wrap in plastic, flatten to a disk and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

If you have a food processor, use the directions above but pulse the butter into the flour, and then the wet ingredients into that mixture.

If you have neither, don’t despair!! You have ten awesome little kitchen gadgets at the ready!  Use the tips of your fingers to blend the butter into the flour, being sure not to use your whole palm or the fleshy part of your fingers (you want as little of the heat from your hands transferring to the dough).  Then use a fork to pull the egg and lemon into the mixture.

Once the dough has been chilled to where it’s not sticky but not too hard to roll, flour a pastry board, parchment paper or Silpat with rice flour, and roll to desired thickness.  Fit into a pie plate, tart plate or slide onto a baking sheet for the perfect galette crust!

I filled this galette with:

  • 4 Asian pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • zest of one lime
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 2″ piece of ginger root, grated with microplane
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Then brushed the top with egg white and baked it for 35 minutes until the edges were lightly browned.  And then I ate it.  The whole thing.  Ok, I shared a little and it took a few days, but someone may have seen me walking to the subway, eating it with my fingers.  May.

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!

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

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.

Bloody Derby (Bourbon Bloody Mary)

Say hello to my little friend - The Bloody Derby

This gray morning in NYC, I grabbed a leash and left the phone at home.  Normally I multitask and check my emails, facebook and morning texts.  Or plug in my headphones and use the time to mentally prep for my day.  But this morning the dog and I looked out at the cool water that separates Manhattan from Jersey as we walked in relative silence.  And when I got home I left the phone by the bed and went into the kitchen to tackle my to-do’s, the things I really love.

It was that kind of morning.  I needed a break from technology.

Now, this recipe wasn’t made from a place of melancholy or rage against the machine.  I just happened to want to put this recipe together for a while, and the gorgeous tomatoes and peppers in my kitchen can’t withstand the humidity to make it to the weekend.  I made the tomato reduction for the juice in the morning before grabbing lunch with a beloved cousin (hi Jon!) and set myself for a scandalous mid-day cocktail upon coming home.  No, this isn’t a habit.  But I’m listening to speakeasy music from the roaring 20s and I can’t throw this delicious concoction away!  I have to drink it!  The sacrifices we make, I know.

Posting the cocktail – the first beverage on The Dusty Baker – was actually inspired by a fun first date I had a few weeks ago.  I introduced the New Man to the joy that is putting bourbon in a top-notch Bloody Mary instead of vodka (I lived on the border of Kentucky while working at a theatre in Cincinnati for a bit and fell in love with bourbon distilleries.  And bacon. And bluegrass).  We were at the lounge in the Ace Hotel, which has a delicious bar.  I had a feeling they would serve up a good Bloody Mary.  And, in my dusty little opinion, the spicy mixture of tomato, horseradish and citrus is so much better complimented with bourbon than vodka.

New Man asked the mixologist if he had heard a name for it.  He hadn’t.  Googling brought up nothing.  Throughout the long, fun getting-to-know-you conversation we came up with a few options, and settled on Bloody Derby.

So while I’m obviously not the first to put bourbon in a Bloody Mary, you heard it here first, folks.  September 28th, 2011.  Spread it around like wild-fire.

Talley ho.

Like a Bloody Mary... but BETTER!

The Bloody Derby.

Notes:  There’s a lot of “to tastes” in this recipe, because obviously a lot depends on the kind of tomato juice you use and how generally spicy you like your cocktails.

I’m Azorean Portuguese and Italian, so I like my food and drinks with a spicy kick.   I started with halves of the spice proportions below, and kept adding, eventually exceeding these proportions.  And if you want it a bit darker, throw in a dash of Worcestershire sauce.  I just don’t keep it on hand.

I made my tomato juice old-school style: meaning I don’t own a sieve and so literally pressed cooked tomatoes, garlic and onions with my hands through a strainer.  Worked for me.  But if you don’t want to make your own, I suggest either something rich and organic or Clamato, which is what is usually used in Bloody Caesars. 

This combo makes a sweet and dark cocktail, with a bit of smoke.  Big fan. Welcome to Kentucky, folks. Via Washington Heights.

Oh, also, props go out to Rosemarried and Boulder Locavore, who often have delicious cocktails amongst their incredible recipes and inspire me to want to start paying more attention to my beverages.  Stop by to see their versions of this classic cocktail or to learn how to flavor your own liquor.  I’m a big fan of these ladies – please show them some love.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cubes ice
  • 4 oz tomato juice
  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon (my favorite is Willets Reserve.  But if it’s too fancy of a bourbon for you to mix, Makers Mark works just dandy)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated horseradish to taste
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic to taste
  • pinch of kosher salt to taste
  • freshly cracked tricolor pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco to taste
  • 2 wedges of lemon
  • 2 wedges of lime
  • celery and carrot sticks
  • adorable sweet baby peppers

Directions:

  • Mix ice, tomato juice, bourbon, horseradish, garlic, salt, pepper, Tobasco, juice of one lemon wedge and juice of one lime wedge in a chilled glass.
  • Garnish with remaining citrus, celery and carrot sticks, and sweet peppers.
  • Drink with brunch outdoors, while listening to old speakeasy music, or when perusing the Sunday Times.
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