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Deciding to eat food without gluten [mostly] has been a normal part of cooking the past year. It wasn’t until the thought of creating desserts gluten-free did I start to look around and experiment with different sorts of recipes, one being an all-purpose gluten-free mix. The one being posted here is the most recent baking mix recipe that I find to be delightful, while still mimicking desserts that are with regular flour.

I was very happy making these tartlets and working with the dough. It was surprisingly easier than I thought and better to work with than pâte sucrée with flour. And I just have to say, I love the texture of this crust. They hold up well and have a nice crumb factor.

Here’s to an end of another great autumn month everyone!

 

Gluten-Free Pâte Sucrée Recipe

 

2 cups gluten-free baking mix

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 large egg

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

Tart rings used were 2 ½ inches in diameter and 1 inch tall.

 

preparation:

1. Process butter and confectioner’s sugar together until fluffy, 2 minutes.

2. Add egg and sea salt and process for another minute or so.

3. Add g/f flour mix and pulse just until combined, approximately 5 seconds.

4. Dump bowl onto a work surface and knead just to form a ball.

5. Flatten dough and wrap in plastic wrap; chill for 1-2 hours.

6. Cut dough into sixteen portions.

7. Roll out one dough portion at a time to an eighth inch thickness.

8. Line a tartlet ring and place in refrigerator; repeat with remaining dough.

 

Bake @ 350°F from chill for 20-23 minutes or until edges start to turn golden.

Cool for a few minutes in the tart pans, then unmold and cool completely on a cooling rack.

 

*note: You do not need to blind bake these tartlets with beans or pie weights. If the tart dough is thin enough it will look just fine. For a sleeker finish, line tartlets with parchment and fill with weights.

 

Makes 12 tartlets -or- 8-4” tartlets

 

Hazelnut & Caramel Filling Recipe

 

1 cup granular sugar

¼ cup water

 

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits

½ cup heavy cream

 

¾ teaspoon fleur de sel

 

2 cups hazelnuts

 

preparing the caramel:

1. Combine sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.

2. Using a skewer, swirl the sugar so that is colors evenly.

3. Cook until sugar has turn amber in color and turn off heat.

4. Toss in butter bits and then the heated cream [mixture will violently bubble.]

5. Whisk until smooth and has cooled.

6. Stir in fleur de sel.

Makes 1 ½ cups.

 

preparing the hazelnuts:

 

1. Toast hazelnuts in a 350ºF for 15 minutes.

2. Once hazelnuts have cooled slightly, place between kitchen towels and rub to remove skins.

3. Halve or roughly chop and mix with caramel.

 

Fill prepared tartlets with filling and enjoy!

 

Gluten-Free Baking Mix Recipe

2 ¼ cups white rice flour

1 ¼ cups brown rice flour

1 cup tapioca flour

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

 

1. Whisk everything together in a bowl and store in an airtight container.

One specific dish, for me, stands out that can make a typical everyday meal something special. Moules as they are called in France, are wonderful, simple little creatures.

 

Mussels are great if you want to try different flavor combinations as they take flavors well, and there is no need to be frightened, mussels may look odd and unusual, but they are harmless and delicious. They make an interesting presentation with little effort and nothing is more communal than friends grouped around the table with a large bowl of mussels.

 

I made this dish using mussel stock for an added flavor boost in replacement for fish sauce. I think that the fish sauce would have overpowered the mussels. I wanted to taste the mussels and not the pungent fish sauce. This was solely based on personal preference and fish sauce would still be a great addition in you so choose.

 

Coconut Curry Mussels Recipe

2 Tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup shallots, diced

 

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 ½ Tablespoons yellow curry paste

 

1 cup mussel stock -or- dry white wine [mussels stock used here]

1 can coconut milk

 

2 pounds mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed

 

Cilantro [for garnishing]

 

1. Sauté shallots on medium-low heat until tender, approximately 3-5 minutes.

2. Add garlic and curry paste, cook for another minute or so until fragrant and garlic loses its raw aroma.

3. Pour in mussel stock or wine and bring to a gentle simmer.

4. Add mussels and cover pot. Cook until mussels open, discarding unopened ones.

5. Pour in coconut milk and shake pan covered until coconut milk is mix in, heat through.

Serves 2.

 

Adjust seasoning by adding sea salt or fish sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. If you like your curries to be an inferno on the palate, simply add some hot chili sauce or some chopped up chilies along with the curry paste.

 

Mussel Stock Recipe

 

2 pounds mussels

½ small onion, diced

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 small bay leaf

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

4 large garlic cloves, smashed

1 large ripe tomato, chopped

 

1. Place all ingredients into a stock pot and just cover with approximately 4 cups of water.

2. Bring just to a simmer and reduce heat and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes.

3. Strain stock and chill rapidly. Store in refrigerator for two days

 

Something about pomegranates gets me thinking about the fast approaching holidays. It maybe the abundant use of cranberries, no doubt. In thinking of the coming holiday with savory and sweet things to make, pomegranates will be in use as an exciting substitute for cranberries. Perhaps a pomegranate gelée with coconut cream will be the dessert to serve.

 

 

If you are wondering if I love panna cotta, I do! And since I have been in the habit of replacing the cream for coconut milk I can enjoy these types of desserts more often.

 

Finding new ways to work with this coconut base I have decided to pair with it, pomegranate gelée. Using a concentrate made from pure fruit juice there is no refined sugar in this dessert and still is sweet. If you prefer a sweeter version you can dilute the juice concentrate to two-thirds instead of the drinking dilution rate.

 

Why stop with just plain old water, you could make a tea to replace the water. Mango tea, apricot tea, citrus teas are all good choices. Do they even make a pomegranate tea? I had better stop here or I will find myself back in the kitchen working on these ideas right after this post. Do take note, I will reveal my discoveries! Enjoy this dessert at room temperature, it’s nicer.

 

 

Pomegranate Gelée & Coconut Cream Recipe

1 ½ cups pomegranate juice* [sweetened w/ fruit juice]

1 package powdered gelatin [approximately 2 ¼ teaspoons]

 

¾ cup coconut milk

 

2 Tablespoons cold water

1 teaspoon powdered gelatin

 

Pistachios [for garnishing]

Pomegranate Seeds [for garnishing]

 

preparing the pomegranate gelée:

1. Sprinkle gelatin over a ¼ cup of cold pomegranate juice. Set aside.

2. Heat the remaining juice until hot.

3. Whisk juice into bloomed gelatin and fill desired vessels.

4. Chill until set, approximately 2-4 hours depending on the vessel size.

 

preparing the panna cotta:

1. Sprinkle remaining gelatin over cold water. Set aside.

2. Heat coconut milk until hot.

3. Whisk heated liquid into the gelatin.

4. Cool coconut base slightly in an ice bath so it won’t liquefy gelée.

5. Pour mixture over the set gelée and chill again until fully set.

Serves approximately 3 depending on size of dish you choose.

 

*note: Dilute pomegranate juice concentrate in a ratio of one part juice to three parts water. For a sweeter version dilute juice of one part to two parts water or flavored tea of choice.

Comforting, warming, simply perfect… Away from the chilly brisk outdoors, a warm bowl of soup sounds so right. Whether complex or simple, such an inviting meal helps take the chilly edge off what fall has to offer.

 

Soup is like a good friend giving you a big hug.

For the soup recipe, I infused the soup with thyme and clove. Much like adding a bay leaf or two, these two seasoning impart a delicate whisper of flavor that works so well with the more complex flavor of curry powder. I also did not add any sweetener a lot of butternut soups have. I feel adding onions and sweet potato adds an earthy sweetness on their own. So pull up a chair, we’ll have soup!

 

 

Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

 

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 Tablespoons safflower oil -or- olive oil

½ teaspoon curry powder

3 whole cloves [optional]

 

2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cubed

1 medium sweet potato, peeled & chopped [approximately 1 ½ cups]

5 cups chicken stock -or- vegetable stock

1 thyme spring

½ teaspoon seal salt.

 

Crème frâiche [for dolloping]

 

preparing the soup:

  1. Sauté onions with the oil, curry powder and cloves on low until translucent.
  2. Add squash, sweet potato, stock, thyme sprig and sea salt. Simmer covered until everything is tender.
  3. Remove thyme spring and whole cloves.
  4. Puree soup and adjust seasoning to taste.
  5. Serve with a dollop of crème frâiche.

Serves 6-8.

This riz ua lait recipe, also known as rice pudding is a favorite around here, especially a treat to pass by rainy days during a vacation. I decided to try a dairy-free version using coconut milk. I was unsure if this version would live up to the original. The result was a delicately sweet and creamy dessert that has me hooked on using coconut as a cream/milk replacer.

 

Rice pudding is great on its own, but to makes things a little nicer, slicing tiny apples and sprinkling pistachios is a great topping choice.

For a lighter version, try lite coconut milk and use honey as an alternative. Still this spiced up simmering brew of milk and vanilla might be just what you need, dairy or not to elevate a cold autumn day.

 

Riz au Lait

2 cups coconut milk [unsweetened]

1 -13.66 ounce can coconut cream [milk]

¾ cup Arborio rice, rinsed

2 inch piece of vanilla bean, scraped

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

2 cardamom pods

 

2 Tablespoons granular sugar -or- honey

Freshly grated nutmeg [to taste]

 

1. In a sauce pan combine both kinds of coconut milk, rice, vanilla bean and whole spices; soak for 1 hour.

2. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until rice is tender and creamy pudding like texture, approximately 15-20 minutes. Still frequently so rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. Add sugar to taste and a few grates of nutmeg.

4. Adjust pudding with a little bit of coconut milk if needed. Serve promtly.

Serves 6.

Game hens are perfectly sized birds for a dinner of two. Rather than roasting up legs, breasts, thighs or drumsticks, a whole feathery friend at the dinner table can make it a little fancier.

 

Years ago I made this for a quick dinner, serving the bird with a delicate thyme velouté, fresh ripe figs and homemade gnocchi.  Having a partial kitchen to cook in, the dinner was delicious and perfect after the day’s construction tasks.

 

Velouté you say? One of my favorite grand French sauces, which here in America its fancy for gravy. A sauce thickened with flour and butter where stock is added. Gravy on the other hand is sometimes made by adding a mixture of water and flour to the pan juices or stock and simmered to thicken. I do prefer a velouté for its depth of flavor and velvety texture; velouté meaning velvety.

 

Sage White Wine Roasted Game Hen Recipe

 

2 game hens, rinsed and dried

 

3 large garlic cloves, peeled

¼ cup fresh sage leaves

3 Tablespoons dry white wine

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons fresh thyme

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

8 whole garlic cloves

1 lemon, halved

2 sprigs thyme

 

1. In a food processor, puree the garlic, sage, wine, olive oil, thyme, sea salt and black pepper into a course puree.

2. Rub mixture into prepared game hens and stuff each hen with 4 garlic cloves, lemon half and a sprig of thyme. Tie up legs and fold under wings. Marinate for an hour or overnight. Bring hen to room temperature before roasting.

3. Place game hens into pan and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste.

4. Roast game hens in a 450ºF oven for 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 350ºF and continue for another 45-60 minutes until juices run clear and bird is golden.

Serves 4.

*notes: I often brush roasting birds with melted unsalted butter during the last 30 minutes to enrich their flavor and help the browning process along. Also, if you plan to roast one bird, reduce cooking Roasting at 450ºF oven for 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 350ºF and continue for another 30-40 minutes.

 

 

Delicate Thyme Velouté Recipe

 

2 cups homemade chicken stock [recipe here]

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

 

1 medium shallot, diced

1 Tablespoon garlic butter

1 Tablespoon cognac -or- white wine

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

1 Tablespoon heavy cream [optional]

 

1. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in flour. Return to heat and cook to a blond roux, approximately 2 minutes until a toasted aroma develops.

2. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 cup of stock. Return to the heat and whisk in the remaining stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes and skim the surface when necessary.

3. In a small sauté pan, sauté the shallots in butter until softened and starting to brown. Deglaze with cognac and add fresh thyme. Remove from heat and continue to stir to allow the thyme to sweat.

4. Stir shallots and thyme into the sauce. Heat for a couple of minutes to infuse the sauce with the shallots and thyme. Strain the sauce again and press solids against the fine mess of the strainer to bruise thyme for a further extraction of flavor.

5. Bring sauce up to heat and stir in cream or omit.

This recipe is reminiscent of chana masala, a savory dish of stewed chickpeas with spices and tomatoes. For a fall version, butternut squash has been added, pre-cooked by roasting pieces in the oven with spices. These roasted squash pieces are great on their own, but make a hearty side to a meal or part of a collection of smaller dishes to serve.

 

Roasting winter squash of any variety I feel is the best way to bring out its flavor. The process of roasting increases the sweetness; caramelizing the sugars.

 

If you have a chance to try other unusual varieties of winter squash, or grow them yourself, the flavors not commonly tasted are intriguing. Some squash have flavors of hazelnuts, some perfect for pies and other for soup.  No need to stick to the standards. A few squash type I will be keeping my eyes out for is the “Black Futsu squash,” “Rouge vif d’etampes pumpkin,” and “Galeux D’Eysines squash,” all spectacular and delicious in flavor.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash & Chickpea Recipe

 

3 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded & cut into ¾” pieces

2 Tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon ground sea salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

½ small red onion, diced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons olive oil

 

15 ounces diced tomatoes

15 ounces chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon crushed coriander seeds

¼ teaspoon crushed red chilies

 

2 lemons [juice one & wedge the other]

8 ounces plain yogurt

Cilantro [plenty for garnishing]

 

Preheat oven to 350°F

preparing the squash:

1. Toss squash with allspice, pepper, salt and olive oil.

2. Roast in a single layer for 25-30 minutes or until tender.

 

preparing the final dish:

1. Sauté onions in oil over medium heat until translucent.

2. Add garlic and cook for a minute, but do not brown.

3. Add diced tomatoes, turmeric, chilies and coriander and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Add chickpeas and simmer for a few minutes more.

5. Adjust seasonings to taste and add the juice of one lemon, approximately 3 tablespoons.

6. Gently fold in roasted squash.

7. Serve hot with cilantro and lemon wedges with yogurt.

Serves 6-8.

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