December 29, 2007

Maple Chicken with Pears, Wild Rice Pilaf and Acorn Squash

Maple is one of my favorite flavors. I like to nibble on maple sugar treats or chocolate covered maple creams. Drizzle my pancakes with a dark amber swath of the warm syrup and add it to my barbecue marinades.

My neighbors are from Vermont. Each year after they've gone home, they bring us back a jug of maple syrup produced by one of their friends. This is the wonderfully rich and flavorful grade B syrup that sings out a deep maple flavor in your mouth.

I decided to celebrate the flavor of maple syrup without any other spices with this recipe. I baked the maple glazed chicken with fresh Anjou pears. Then I served it with a wild rice pilaf and acorn squash. The recipe for the acorn squash and wild rice pilaf come from OU Kosher where it was contributed by Eileen Goltz.

This recipe is also being submitted to the New Year's Gluten Free Blogging Event. It is being hosted by Ellen of I Am Gluten Free.


Maple Glazed Chicken

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Bosc or Anjou pear, cored & sliced lengthwise
olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 7 x 11 baking pan with with olive oil.

2. Place the chicken in the baking dish and sprinkle with salt. Arrange the sliced pears around the chicken.

3. In a small saucepan, pour in the maple syrup and the broth. Bring to a simmer. Then pour the liquid over the chicken and pears.

4. Place the baking dish in to the oven uncovered and bake until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

What did my family think of the dish? The kids loved the chicken and squash, but they weren't too thrilled with the wild rice pilaf. They didn't really care for the texture of the wild rice. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal. My husband and I enjoyed the complex herb flavor of the pilaf and thought it went well with the squash and chicken.

December 23, 2007

Chestnut Yule Log - Gluten Free

A December Daring Baker's Challenge

This month's Daring Baker's Challenge for a Yule Log is brought to us by Lis of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs In Venice. Yule Log's have a long tradition going back to Scandinavia when a decorated pine log was burned in the family fireplace at Christmas. Then during the late 18th to early 19th century the yule log or "Buche de Noel" was translated into a dessert served during the Christmas season in France.

The Daring Baker's hail from around the world and not all of us celebrate the holidays or Christmas. So Lis and Ivonne wanted our December baking challenge to be about the "sharing of warmth and light...something that we all need in our lives, regardless of race, creed or religion."

I was very excited about this month's baking challenge, since this is one of those holiday desserts that I have missed since being gluten free. While at Whole Foods last week, my daughter and I checked out the pastry counter to see if they would have any gluten free cakes or yule logs for the holidays. My daughter was so saddened to learn that the yule logs and other pastries they had were all made from wheat and we couldn't bring any home. I told her not to worry as I was going to make one of those lovely cakes for us for Christmas. The smile on her face was so delightful...I had made her day.

My version of the Daring Baker's Yule log is based on the classic chestnut flavor that is typically found in the butter cream filling. My cake has chestnut flour, the butter cream filling has chestnut spread in it and the outer log covering is chocolate chestnut butter cream. I used chia seed meal as the binder for the cake. Then I made marzipan mushrooms to decorate the log.


This recipe is in 3 parts. First is the recipe for the plain genoise, second the chestnut & chocolate chestnut butter cream and then the marzipan.

Plain Genoise

2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
dash of sea salt
6 Tb cane sugar
1 Tb brown rice flour
1 Tb sweet rice flour
1 Tb arrowroot starch
1 Tb chestnut flour*
2 Tb corn starch
1 Tb chia seed meal

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and set an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Then line a 11 1/2 in x 7 1/2 in x 1 in pan with parchment paper.

2. Fill a medium sauce pan half full with water and bring it to a simmer.

3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is lukewarm (100 degrees Fahrenheit). Remove from the pan and return the mixing bowl back to the mixer.

4. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back into the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5. While the eggs are whipped, stir together the flours and cornstarch.

6. Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8. Bake the genoise for 10 minutes. Make sure that the cake doesn't overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9. While the cake is baking, being making the butter cream.

10. Once the cake is done (a tooth pick will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Chestnut Butter Cream & Chocolate Chestnut Butter Cream:

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1 Tb + 1 tsp chestnut spread**
1 Tb vanilla extract
1 Tb cocoa powder (saved for the second half of the butter cream)

1. Turn the heat back on the pan of water on the cook top. Make sure the water comes to a simmer.

2. Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

3. Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat the softened butter and continue beating until the butter cream is smooth. Then dump in the chestnut spread and vanilla extract and beat together.

Note: If the butter cream curdles or separated once the vanilla extract and chestnut spread goes in, then remove a quarter of the butter cream and place in a measuring cup or other heat proof bowl. Place into the simmering water and warm until the butter begins to melt a little bit. Return to the mixing bowl and rewhip. It should come back together.

4. After spreading some of the chestnut filling over the genoise, return the mixing bowl to the mixer. Then dump in the cocoa powder and whip into the butter cream. This butter cream will be used for the outside of the yule log.

Filling and Frosting the Log:

1. Lift the genoise out of the pan by the sides of the parchment paper.

2. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and then turn the genoise over (unmolding it from the jelly roll pan onto the parchment paper) and peel away the paper.

3. Spread about half the chestnut butter cream over the genoise.

4. Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

5. Transfer the parchment covered cake back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

6. Unwrap the cake. With a sharp knife cut off one end on the diagonal.

7. Place the smaller piece of the log on top of the larger log.

8. Cover the log with the chocolate chestnut butter cream, make sure to curve around the piece placed on top as a protruding stump.

9. Streak the butter cream with a fork or a decorating comb to resemble bark.

10. Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushroom or other decorations you've chosen.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

4 oz. almond paste***
1 cup + 1/4 cup powdered sugar
3 Tb agave syrup

1. Combine the almond paste and the powdered sugar in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with a paddle attachment on low speed until the sugar is almost absorbed.

2. Add the agave syrup and continue mixing until the marzipan holds together when squeezed.

3. Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

4. Roll out small balls of the marzipan for the bases of the mushrooms. Roll the balls into logs.

5. Roll out medium sized balls of the marzipan and for the mushroom tops. Shape each ball over a finger tip to allow for a bowl type shape for the tops.

6. Trim a toothpick into a smaller piece, then push the toothpick into the base of the mushroom. Some of the toothpick should be sticking out above the mushroom base. Place the mushroom top on this piece of the toothpick.

7. Dust the mushroom with cocoa powder.

8. Dust the entire yule log with powdered sugar to simulate snow.

What did my family think of the yule log? They thought it was wonderful and had a nice flavor. My daughter decided that the Yule Log should be a new family tradition for us at Christmas.

* My chestnut flour is from Dowd & Rogers and I have bought it from both Whole Foods and

** My chestnut spread is by Clement Faugier. Privas. I purchased it from Whole Foods.

*** I used Almond Paste from Love'n Bake as it is wheat free. I purchased it from Whole Foods.

December 19, 2007

Tiger Cookies - Gluten Free

Each time I get ready to make any baked goods, there is a standard discussion between my children..."I want chocolate," says my daughter..."No, this time it needs to be vanilla," says my son. And on it goes until the discussion ends in the toss of a coin. Only to return again when I begin to gather my baking ingredients together in the kitchen.

Our Sheltie is the ultimate diplomat. She likes to have a taste of just about anything you are eating. She will delightedly remain at your side enjoying your company and whatever tidbits you choose to share with her. When it comes to flavors, she likes chocolate, vanilla, chocolate and vanilla swirled together. Following her example, I wanted to make a gluten free cookie that would please both of my children at the same time.

I have an old recipe for Tiger Cookies made with melted chocolate chips and corn flakes that I thought had the potential to save us from the flavor discussion. The recipe comes from Christmas Cookies by Oxmoor House that I've had for many years. I've modified the recipe to be gluten free and added flax seed meal as a binder so that the cookies will hold together nicely.

The cookies smelled delicious and maintained their lovely shaped look during baking. In spite of children's dubious glances at the multicolored cookies, their first taste showed them that cookies don't have to be just chocolate or just vanilla. Chocolate and vanilla are very delicious all swirled together.


9 Tbs (1 stick + 1 Tb) butter
1/2 cup + 1 Tb cane sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp flax seed meal
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 cup corn flour *
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cup frosted cornflakes, crushed **
3 oz. semisweet chocolate morsels

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, dump in the butter and cream. Beat on medium speed, then plop in the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Pour in the egg and vanilla extract and continue to beat. Once blended, add the flax seed meal and beat until thoroughly blended. Allow the mixture to sit and rest. This will allow the flax seed meal to begin gelling.

3. In a medium bowl, dump in the flours, baking soda, sea salt and crushed corn flakes. Stir until blended.

4. Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until it makes a collection of large and small blobs of dough.

5. Place the chocolate chips in a measuring cup and melt in the microwave or put them in the top of a double boiler and melt them. Pour the melted chocolate around the top of the dough balls. Using a spoon, lightly stir the chocolate into the dough until it makes multicolored dough balls.

6. Using a spoon, scoop out some cookie dough and place into the palm of your hand. Lightly press the dough together until it makes a nice sized ball (approximately 1 inches in diameter). Then set it on the cookie sheet. Continue in this manner until you have covered your cookie sheet with dough balls with a couple of inches between each ball.

7. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving. Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

What did my family think of tiger cookies? We all thought they were delicious. This recipe is now a keeper at our house.

* Corn Flour: You can buy gluten free corn flour from Authentic Foods or from Shiloh Farms carried by the Gluten Free Mall.

** Frosted Corn Flakes: I used Envirokidz Organic Amazon frosted flakes cereal which is gluten free. I purchased my box at my local Whole Foods, but they are also available at

December 18, 2007

Holiday Baking - Gluten Free

Starting with Thanksgiving and going through New Year's Day, we are all planning, shopping and creating dishes to share with friends, co-workers or loved ones.This is a heady time of year when everyone is in the kitchen either eating or cooking.

To help with your plans for holiday cooking, I've highlighted some of my favorite recipes from the blog. The recipes are gluten and soy free, most are nightshade free (tomato, potato, eggplant and peppers), and some are dairy free as well. If you are looking for other recipes that are in my archives, click on the link in the sidebar which reads, Cook's Log.


Sweet Potato Biscuits

Chestnut Coffee Cake with Chocolate Filling

Hazelnut Waffles

Buckwheat Almond Pancakes

Upside Down Pear Pancake

Banana Coconut Macadamia Nut Muffins

Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

Maple Bran Chia Muffins

Applewood Smoked Ham Scones with Maple Butter

Cinnamon Rolls

Cornbread & Stuffing


Cornbread Stuffing


Buckwheat Brioche

Soups & Stews

Old Fashioned Beef Stew (contains potatoes)

Split Pea Soup


Kale with Fig & Grape Must Vinaigrette

Orange & Fennel Salad


Red Quinoa Pilaf

Sweet Potatoes with Onions & Rosemary


Cola Cake with Cola Frosting

Sweet Potato Cake with Maple Glaze

Coconut Carob Truffles

Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chestnut Biscotti

Rolled & Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Mint Chocolate Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

Peanut Butter Sauce Pan Cookies

Toll House Kookie Brittle

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Sheltie Girl

December 16, 2007

Hazelnut Waffles - Gluten & Dairy Free

I have been spending more time in the kitchen over the last few weeks, trying to build up a store of gluten free foods that we can all enjoy for the holidays. One of recipes I've made is for Hazelnut Waffles from Fine Cooking Magazine. This is a gluten and dairy free adaptation of Nicole Rees' recipe and turns out a light waffle that teases your taste buds with flavors of vanilla and hazelnuts. A delightful combination that was pleasing even to the younger members of my family.

Over the last few weeks I've been discussing with a few people about whether or not flax seed will hold together gluten free baked goods and I decided to test this out in the hazelnut waffle recipe.

You: "How are flax seeds going to hold my gluten free cooking together?"

SG: "Flax seeds, like chia seeds or psyllium seeds (plantago), creates a gel when added to liquids. Flax seeds make a soft gel, psyllium seeds make a gel with medium firmness and chia seeds make a firm gel not unlike hair gel."

You: "A gel? How exactly is that going to help?"

SG: "Because the gel that these seeds make can be used instead of xanthan gum, guar gum or gelatin as a binder in gluten free cooking."

You: "How much of the flax seeds would I use to substitute for the xanthan gum?"

SG: "You can substitute 2 teaspoons of flaxseed meal for the xanthan gum called for in your recipe. The picture (above) shows you the type of gel that 1 tsp flax seed meal and 1 tsp water will make. The picture (below) shows you the texture and cohesion of the baked hazelnut waffle."

You: "Did it work?"

SG: "It worked very nicely. It held the waffle together and it wasn't crumbly. In addition, it provides additional nutrients from the flax seed meal."

To keep your waffles crisp once you've made them, place them in the oven on 175 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet or on racks. Then serve with warm maple syrup for a hearty breakfast meal.


2/3 cup hazelnut meal*
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp + pinch of sea salt
2 large eggs, beaten
3 Tb cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp flax seed meal
1 1/2 cup gluten free oat milk**
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, melted
Vegetable oil for the waffle iron

1. In a large bowl, dump in the hazelnut meal, flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together.

2. In a large bowl, dump in the eggs and sugar. Beat together and then pour in the vanilla extract and flax seed meal. Stir together and make sure there aren't any lumps. Pour in the oat milk and a little bit of the vegetable shortening. Stir together. Then slowly add the rest of the melted shortening. Continue stirring until combined.

3. Slowly pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredient bowl. Stir to combine. Allow the mixture to sit and rest for 15 to 20 minutes before starting the waffles. This will allow the flax seed meal to gel completely.

4. Bake waffles according to your waffle iron instructions. Yield: 4 Belgian style waffles.

What did my family think about the hazelnut waffles? Everyone thoroughly enjoyed them. This recipe is a keeper.

* Hazelnut Meal: I purchased my hazelnut meal from Bob's Red Mill, but you can also make your own.

** Oat Milk: I used 1/2 cup of cooked certified gluten free oats, 1 Tb agave syrup and 2 cups of water. Dump the oats into your food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Then add the agave syrup and pulse. Pour in the water and pulse to blend. Be careful not to pulse too long as the water might/will leak out from under the lid of your food processor and onto the counter. Store oat milk in the refrigerator.

December 12, 2007

Chestnut Coffee Cake with Chocolate Filling - Gluten Free

One of the wonderful things about the holidays is that we always have an abundance of good food to share together. From candy to stuffing, vibrant greens to winter fruits, I try to cook ahead so we have a variety of foods to eat without spending a lot of our family time in the kitchen.

My husband and I used to enjoy having coffee cakes for breakfast on weekends. On Saturday's after sleeping late, we get up and share a cup of coffee and some coffee cake while we read the paper. Then we decide what we were going to do for the day. After our son was born, we had to start taking turns on who got to sleep in on Saturday. When our daughter was born, neither one got to sleep in late, instead there was the late morning nap. Now that the kids are older, they have joined my husband in the Saturday morning sleep in, while the Sheltie and I share the early morning together. She to protect her house and yard from any sleepy eyed jogger going by and I to have a cup of hot spiced Rooibos tea and a slice to warm coffee cake.

This recipe is a gluten free adaptation of the French Chocolate Coffee Cake from Better Homes and Garden's Homemade Bread Cook Book. I used to make this recipe in my gluten eating days and I wanted to have a chance to enjoy it again for the holidays. This recipe is also part of the Holiday Blogging Event for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa that is being hosted by the lovely Sally at Aprovechar.


Coffee Cake

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup chestnut flour*
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
2 Tb chia seed meal**
2 pkg. dry active yeast
6 Tb cane sugar
5 Tb water
4 Tb vegetable shortening
2 Tb + 1 1/2 tsp gf oat milk***
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 eggs, beaten

Chocolate Filling

6 Tb semi sweet chocolate chips
2 Tb + 1 1/2 tsp gf oat milk**
1 Tb cane sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


1 Tb brown rice flour
1 Tb chestnut flour
2 Tb butter, softened
2 Tb chopped pecans
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Equipment Needed: 7" Angel Food Pan (mine is made by Wilton)

Coffee Cake

1. In a large mixing bowl, dump in the flours and the yeast. Stir together.

2. In a small sauce pan warm the sugar, water, butter oat milk and salt until the temperature is between 110 degrees Fahrenheit and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir constantly to melt the butter. If the temperature rises above 115 degrees allow it to cool to 115 degrees at the highest before adding it to the bowl with the flour and yeast.

3. Pour the liquid mixture into the bowl with the flour and yeast, then dump in the beaten eggs. Stir until it makes a soft dough. Cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled. While the dough is rising make the topping and the chocolate filling.

Chocolate Filling

4. In a small saucepan, dump in the chocolate chips, oat milk, sugar and cinnamon. Stirring constantly, warm the mixture until the chocolate chips melt and then allow to cool. While the chocolate filling is cooling and the bread dough is rising, make the topping.


5. In a small bowl, dump in the flours, sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Using a spoon or fork cut or press in the butter until it is mixed well with the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Pour in the chopped nuts and stir together. Set aside.

Putting It Together
6. Line a 7 inch angel food pan with parchment paper. Pour half of the bread dough into the angel food pan. Using a spatula or spoon, spread the dough around until it covers the bottom of the pan.

7. Spoon the chocolate filling over the bread dough in the pan. Then pour the rest of the bread dough on top of the chocolate filling. Use a spatula or spoon to spread the bread dough evenly over the top of the pan.

8. Sprinkle the topping over the top of the bread dough. Set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled.

9. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes or until a pick comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing from the pan.

What did my family think of the chestnut coffee cake with chocolate filling? My children preferred the chocolate filling, but not the bread. My husband and I though it was delightful, and tasted the best when it was served warm. It reminded us both of the Chocolate Babka's that we used to get from Whole Foods.

* Chestnut Flour: I purchased my chestnut flour from Whole Foods, but you can also find it at It's made by Dowd & Rogers.

** Chia Seed Meal: I purchased my chia seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH. I ground them in my Braun coffee grinder that I use only to grind spices. Chia seed meal will act as a gluten free binder just like chia seed gel (made with chia seed and water).

*** Oat Milk: I used 1/2 cup of cooked certified gluten free oats, 1 Tb agave syrup and 2 cups of water. Dump the oats into your food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Then add the agave syrup and pulse. Pour in the water and pulse to blend. Be careful not to pulse too long as the water might/will leak out from under the lid of your food processor and onto the counter. Store oat milk in the refrigerator.

December 5, 2007

Maple Bran Chia Muffins With Raisins - Gluten Free

One of my favorite muffins, prior to becoming gluten free, was the humble bran muffin. I used to make the bran muffin recipe off the box of the Kellogg's All Bran Cereal. We would enjoy these hearty muffins for breakfast or I would pack them up and take them to work to have for a mid-afternoon snack. They were satisfying enough to keep you going until supper time.

I wanted to add this nourishing and fiber filled quick bread to my list of favorite gluten free foods. It was time for baking and experimenting. Using the recipe from the Kellogg's All Bran box as my source of inspiration, I added my own touches and made it gluten free. Instead of wheat bran, I used rice bran from Bob's Red Mill. I used maple syrup instead of sugar and gluten free oat milk in place of milk. Then I experimented with adding a larger quantity of ground chia meal, not only for it's ability to act as a binder, but for it's healthy Omega-3 oils.

Maple syrup has long been used by the Native Americans for sweetening food. According to an Iroquois legend, Chief Woksis one evening, had set his tomahawk into a maple tree. When he needed it the next day, he removed it and the sap from the tree started flow into a container laying at the base of the tree. Chief Woksis' wife used this watery liquid to cook their meat which then had a sweet maple flavor. Colonists who came to North America followed the Native American tribes example and began to harvest the sap from the maple trees. They made maple sugar and later made maple syrup.

"Native Harvest" by Barrie Kavash, uses maple syrup to sweeten stewed wild cherries and elder blossom fritters. Siksika Boy from the blog, Native American Recipes notes that maple syrup was commonly used in Native American recipes. Siksika Boy has a recipe for Native Holiday Cake that uses maple sugar for the cake and maple syrup in the frosting.

The muffins turned out beautifully. They tasted like the hearty bran muffins I remembered. The chia seed meal added an extra layer of flavor to the muffins and the dough wasn't gummy at all. The chia seed meal experiment was a success.


1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tb sweet rice flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tb arrowroot starch
1/4 cup rice bran
1/4 cup chia seed meal*
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup + 2 Tb oat milk**
1 egg, beaten
2 Tb melted vegetable shortening
Optional: Turbinado sugar or maple sugar to sprinkle over the tops of the muffins

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place 1 dozen silicone muffin cups on a cookie sheet.

2. In a medium sized bowl, dump in the flours, chia meal, baking powder, baking soda, raisins and salt. Then stir to blend the ingredients together.

3. In another medium sized bowl, pour in the maple syrup, oat milk, beaten egg and melted shortening. Then stir to combine the liquids.

4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and quickly stir them together. Stir just until blended.

5. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, sprinkle with Turbinado sugar or maple sugar and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Cool and serve. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

What did my family think of my Maple Bran Chia Muffins? Everyone thought they tasted wonderful. Although they were the best when warmed and served with butter. This one is a keeper.

* Chia Seed Meal: I purchased my chia seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH. I ground them in my Braun coffee grinder that I use only to grind spices. Chia seed meal will act as a gluten free binder just like chia seed gel (made with chia seed and water).

** Oat Milk: I used 1/2 cup of cooked certified gluten free oats, 1 Tb agave syrup and 2 cups of water. Dump the oats into your food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Then add the agave syrup and pulse. Pour in the water and pulse to blend. Be careful not to pulse too long as the water might/will leak out from under the lid of your food processor and onto the counter. Store oat milk in the refrigerator.

December 3, 2007

Red Quinoa Pilaf - Gluten Free

My vegetable market closed for the season at the end of last week. I took advantage of their last day to stock up on different root vegetables and apples that would store for a while. Plus, I picked up the last of some of my favorite vegetables like leeks, celery, carrots and celeriac.

I wanted to use the last of these wonderful vegetables in a dish my family would enjoy. I chose to make a red quinoa pilaf and use a variety of spices to enhance the dish. I used garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and file powder (also called gumbo file).

File powder is made from ground and dried sassafras leaves. It is similar in aroma to ground sage, although to some it is more like thyme and savory. Our first reference to the use of ground sassafras leaves comes from the Cajun's who arrived in Louisiana from Acadia in the 1600s. They noticed that the Choctaw people used the ground leaves in their cooking. The Cajuns began to use file powder in their cooking and it became a necessary ingredient in making gumbo.

If you'd like to make your own file powder, Nola Cuisine has instructions. Dr. David Reed at Horticultural Department at Texas A&M gives a step by step instructions with pictures on collecting sassafras leaves, drying them and then grinding them for file powder.


1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
1 chopped leek, white & light green parts
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celeriac
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp file powder (gumbo file)

1. In a large sauce pan (2 qt), pour in the quinoa, water and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the vegetables, then cover and cook for about another 10 minutes or until the liquid is gone.

3. Dump in the spices and stir together. Serve warm.

What did my family think of my red quinoa pilaf? My husband and I loved it, but the kids weren't so sure about the flavor. Overall they thought it was okay, but this is the first time they had tried file powder. They agreed that they might like it more the next time they tried it.

November 26, 2007

Beet Focaccia with Dill & Beet Greens - Gluten Free

A November Daring Baker's Challenge

We are on the road today, traveling back from Atlanta where my family converged on my brother's home for the week. The Thanksgiving holiday's were wonderful and we had lots of great family time building memories and created a new tradition for playing cut throat Monopoly.

Before we left for Georgia, I made my Daring Baker's November challenge. This month's challenge is from Tanna of My Kitchen In Half Cups and the recipe is for Tender Potato Bread from the book "Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World" by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid. We could make either a loaf of bread, rolls or focaccia.

I chose to make focaccia and due to my nightshade allergy, I substituted red beets for the potatoes and topped it with fresh dill and fine strips of young beet greens. My picture will be posted this evening when I return home, as I was having technical difficulties with the hotel's Internet service. (Update 9:20 pm: I updated the post with my pictures of my gluten free beet focaccia.)

Although I had to alter the recipe a bit to make it gluten and nightshade free, I chose to boil the beets since that was the way the potatoes were cooked in the recipe. However, it does take a very long time for beets to boil until tender. Alternative ways to cook the beets would be to roast them in the oven at 450 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or cook them in a pressure cooker. I added one tablespoon of cane sugar to improve the flavor of the gluten free bread dough.


1 1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt, divided
4 oz chopped beet root (approximately 1 medium beet)
1 pkg gluten free dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tb brown rice flour
3/4 cup arrowroot starch
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
3/4 tsp butter or coconut oil/butter
2 tsp ground chia seed
1 Tb cane sugar
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup finely sliced young beet greens
olive oil for topping focaccia

1. Place the chopped beet in the water and 1/2 tsp salt into a sauce pan. Boil until the beets are tender. You will need to add more water periodically to keep the beets covered.

2. Drain the water off the chopped beet and save the water. Place the beets in a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped.

3. Place the yeast into a medium bowl with 1 cup of brown rice flour and 1 cup of warm water (110 -115 degrees Fahrenheit). Allow to sit for 30 minutes to proof.

4. Dump the rest of the salt, flours, butter, chia seed and cane sugar to the food processor. Then pour in the proofed yeast mixture and process until blended.

5. Pour the dough into a large bowl greased with olive oil and allow to rise in a warm location for about 1 hour.

6. Lay out several rectangles of parchment paper that are approximately 9 x 12 inches. Divide the focaccia dough onto the parchment paper. Pat out the dough until it is about 1 inch thick and is a round or oval shape. Then cover the top with olive oil, chopped dill and finely sliced young beet greens. Allow the dough to rest.

7. Place your baking stone or baking tiles in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. Press your finger into the dough making dimples prior to sliding the parchment paper onto the baking stone in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow the bread to cool prior to serving.

What did my family think about the beet focaccia? I was delighted that they all enjoyed the bread. The beet bread had a lovely flavor and the dill and beet greens added a spicy peppery touch to the bread. This recipe will be a keeper for us, although I will roast the beets in the oven the next time.

November 14, 2007

French Lentil Soup - Gluten Free

Cooler weather causes me to hibernate in my warm kitchen, maybe it's due to a biological need to gather food and build body fat resources to survive the upcoming winter. On the other hand, it could be my need to hide in warm places so that I don't have to wear multiple layers of insulating clothing. Or maybe it's just my excuse to make hearty bone warming food like French Lentil Soup.

French Lentil Soup is an aromatic dish that will have everyone in your house gravitating towards the kitchen. Traditionally built on a base of vegetable broth, lentils and tomatoes, I needed to adjust the ingredients for the nightshade (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers) allergic crew at my house. The recipe I began to work with was from one of my favorite chefs, Alton Brown.

Prior to the advent of allergies and gluten sensitivity, my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed lentil soup. Alton's recipe is where I started with my substitution for the tomatoes. I used celeriac in place of the tomatoes. Since I didn't have an onion on hand, I substituted shallots and leeks for the onion.

The French Lentil Soup turned out wonderfully. A soul satisfying medley of vegetables, this soup will have your taste buds demanding for more.


4 Tb olive oil
2 medium leeks, whites only chopped
1/2 shallot, chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped celeriac
2 tsp sea salt
1 pound french lentils, pricked through and rinsed
2 quarts vegetable broth
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Optional: 1/2 tsp ground grains of paradise*

1. In a 6-quart Dutch oven, dump in the first seven ingredients. Then sweat the vegetables until the shallots are translucent.

2. Pour in the lentils, broth and spices, then bring to a boil. Once it has begun to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender, approximately 40 minutes.

3. Serve the soup warm. The next day the soup will have thickened, so add a little vegetable broth to the soup while reheating it.

What did my family think about the French Lentil soup? All of us thought this version of French Lentil soup was a winner. My children liked it so much, they keep asking me to make it again.

* Where can you find grains of paradise? I found mine in the spice area of my local Whole Foods, but you can also buy it from the Spice House.

November 10, 2007

Prickly Pear Mesquite Mini Muffins - Gluten Free

aka "Desert Mini Muffins"

This past week my computer had to make the trek to the Dell Depot to be repaired. I planned ahead and got all the information I needed for the week, but still some things didn't quite work as I had intended. I'm not the best at working from a paper calender anymore and I found myself double checking all my appointments. I had challenges with email addresses, files and pictures.

Yesterday, my computer returned from it's solitary trek, riding up in the vibrant yellow and red truck of DHL. There was an immediate sigh of relief from everyone in the house. The kids were delighted it was back so they could battle virtual bad guys side by side. My husband was relieved as it was a computer lamb returning to his technology fold. As for me, I was thrilled my life could return to normal. I could put away the paper and say good bye to all my crumpled to-do lists.

While in my semi-lost state this past week, I wanted to create a muffin that would celebrate all the desert products I have in my pantry. I decided on creating Prickly Pear Mesquite Mini Muffins. Filled with prickly pear nectar, agave syrup, mesquite flour, pine nuts and chia seeds, the muffins are fragrant with a delicate sweetness and the tender crunch of pine nuts.

I discovered the first time I tested my recipe, that something was going on with my ingredient list that I hadn't known. The muffins baked up beautiful on the outside, but the insides were another story. They had an airy yet firm gelatinous texture. As it turns out, prickly pears have quite a bit of natural pectin in their skin and flesh. Interestingly prickly pears are good for lowering cholesterol, blood glucose levels, and has a future as a cancer chemopreventative food. Prickly pear fruit has fiber, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6 and potassium.

So, the chia seeds I had used as my binder weren't needed to hold the muffins together, the prickly pear nectar had enough pectin to do the job alone. However, I did want to use the chia seeds for the extra nutrition they would add to the muffins, although I had to be careful when I added them to the recipe to keep them from creating a binding gel. To keep the chia seeds from gelling much I added them to the recipe last. Then quickly poured the batter into the muffin cups and baked the mini muffins.


2/3 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup sweet rice flour
2/3 cup arrowroot starch
3 Tb mesquite flour*
1 Tb baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup prickly pear nectar*
1/4 cup gluten free oat milk**
1/4 cup melted vegetable shortening
1/4 cup agave syrup*
1 tsp chia seed, saved till last*

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and place out 36 mini muffin papers on a cookie sheet. Do not raise the temperature to cook the muffins faster, as the mesquite flour cooks quickly and can over cook causing a slightly burnt caramel flavor.

2. In a medium bowl, dump in the first seven dry ingredients and stir together.

3. In a medium bowl, dump in the egg, water, prickly pear nectar oat milk, melted shortening, and agave nectar. Stir together.

4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and quickly blend together. Sprinkle the chia seeds over the top and fold the seeds into the mixture.

5. Spoon the muffin batter into the muffin cups and cook for 25 minutes. Allow to cool before removing them from the muffin cups.

What did my family think of my prickly pear mesquite mini muffins? They were a hit with all of us. Although my husband and I liked them most when served warm. This one is a keeper.

* I purchased my prickly pear nectar from Native Seeds/SEARCH, but you can also find it at the Arizona Cactus Ranch. I purchased my chia seeds, agave nectar and mesquite flour from Native Seeds/SEARCH. My pine nuts came from Trader Joe's.

** To make oat milk: 1/2 cup of cooked gluten free oatmeal (rolled gluten free oats, water, salt) and 2 cups water, 2 Tb agave nectar placed into a food processor. Process until blended and refrigerate.

November 3, 2007

Kale With Fig & Grape Must Vinaigrette - Gluten Free

My husband and I are having a delightful time eating our way through the various types of greens at our vegetable market. The other day they had kale and the leaves were young and tender to the touch. They taste was slightly peppery with a base note of savory. I served the kale for our dinner salad topped with a rich fig & grape must vinaigrette and sprinkled with roasted hazelnuts.

Kale is a variety of cabbage that doesn't form a head and is a cousin to broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. Kale has a long history, it was eaten by the Greeks, Romans, Russians and was the most prevalent green vegetable through the Middle Ages. The Dig For Victory campaign during World War II, encouraged home gardeners to grow kale as it would provide many nutrients that might be missing from the diet due to food rationing. Kale is high in Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Beta Carotene, Vitamin C and Calcium. It rich in protein, fiber and many other vitamins and minerals.

The recipe for the vinaigrette is a variation on one from Emeril Lagasse at the Food Network. For the dressing I chose to sweeten it with an earthy sweetener called grape must, Saba syrup, petimezi or vino cotto. Nancy Gaifyllia at describes how to make your own grape must syrup or petimezi, which has been used by the Greeks as their sweetener until sugar arrived. The Guerzoni company makes a SABA biodynamic traditional grape syrup that is available at some Whole Foods, natural foods markets, or fine food stores. If you cannot find grape must syrup, you can substitute honey instead.

One of the spices used in the recipe is called grains of paradise, a member of the ginger family. This West African spice provides a peppery bite, but savory aftertaste. Throughout Europe and other parts of the world during the 14th and 15th centuries, grains of paradise were once a favorite. Now however, grains of paradise are typically found in the cuisine of Morocco and Tunisia. In the countries that grow grains of paradise plants, the grains are chewed and used warm up the body on a cold day. In the United States, Alton Brown likes to use them in his recipe for okra and tomatoes. Amanda Hesser, a food writer for the New York Times, writes about grains of paradise in her book, Cooking for Mr. Latte, and says that they tasted far better than black peppercorns. You can find grains of paradise at your local Whole Foods or online from The Spice House.


1 Tb grapeseed oil
1 tsp minced shallots
1 tsp minced garlic
5 fresh figs, stemmed and chopped
2 Tb grape must syrup or honey
2 Tb balsamic vinegar
2 Tb apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts
Optional: Pinch grains of paradise
kale, washed & destemmed
sliced Comte cheese

1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and whisk together.

2. Serve over a bowl of chopped kale greens topped with thin slices of Comte cheese.

What did my family think of the kale and fig & grape must vinaigrette? My children would only try small bites of the kale, which they thought tasted like a leaf. My husband and I thought the salad was wonderful on a chilly fall night. It was rich and savory punctuated by the crunchiness of the hazelnuts and the smooth slightly sharp taste of the cheese. Simply divine.

October 29, 2007

Bostini Cream Pie - Gluten Free

The October Daring Baker's Challenge

Mary from Alpineberry chose this month's Daring Baker's Challenge. She first tasted it twelve years ago in San Francisco and later the recipe was published in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. The recipe was developed by Donna Scala and Kurtis L. Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni's restaurant in San Francisco. It was the San Francisco Chronicle's award winning recipe for 1996. Donna Scala is the owner of Don Giovanni's restaurant and Kurtis Baguley is now the Executive Pastry Chef of the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City where he serves a Bostini Trifle.

The original portions of this recipe were quite large, so I divided it into quarters. It made 5 small Bostini Cream Pie's.



3 1/2 Tb lite coconut milk*
2 Tb cornstarch
1/2 beaten egg
2 yolks
3/4 cup + 3 1/2 Tbs coconut milk*
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tb agave syrup

Orange Chiffon Cake

3 Tb brown rice flour
3 Tb sweet rice flour
3 Tb chestnut flour
3 Tb arrowroot starch
3 1/2 TB superfine sugar
1/4 + pinch baking powder
1 1/2 Tb coconut oil
1 egg yolk
3 1/2 - 4 1/2 Tb fresh orange juice
1 1/8 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp kudzu/kuzu powder, dissolved in the orange juice
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Chocolate Glaze
2 oz. semi sweet chocolate
2 oz. butter or coconut oil

Making the Custard

1. In a small bowl, pour the lite coconut milk and cornstarch and stir until smooth.

2. Dump in the whole egg and egg yolks, then whisk until smooth.

3. In a saucepan, pour in the coconut milk, vanilla extract and agave syrup. Slowly bring to a boil. As soon as it has come to a boil, pour several spoonfuls into the egg mixture to temper it. Whisk to combine the liquids. Slowly pour the tempered egg mixture into the saucepan. Constantly stirring, cook the cream mixture until the liquid has thickened.

4. Strain the custard and pour into 8 cupcake foils. Place in the refrigerator to chill.

Making the Chiffon Cake

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 8 cupcake foils on a cookie sheet that are the same size as the ones used for the coconut custard.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, sugar, baking power and salt. Dump in the coconut oil, eggs yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla extract, stir until smooth. Take care not to overbeat.

3. In a large bowl or the bowl to your mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Dump in the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.

4. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter. Then pour the cake batter into the cupcake foils.

5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake top springs back when pressed with your fingertip. Cool the cakes on a wire rack. After they have cooled down, cover them with a towel so that they will remain moist.

Making the Chocolate Glaze

1. In a small saucepan, dump in the butter and heat it until it just starts to bubble. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir the butter and chocolate together, so that the chocolate will melt. Work the chocolate in until the mixture is smooth. If your sauce is a little lumpy, go ahead and strain the glaze.

2. When ready to build the Bostini Cream pie, make sure the chocolate glaze is warm.

To Make Bostini Cream Pie
1. On a plate, place down one chiffon cake layer making sure to remove the cake from the cupcake foil.

2. On top of the chiffon cake, place one of the coconut custard cups. If your custard did not completely firm up, scoop it out with a spoon and place on top of the cake.

3. On top of the coconut custard, place another layer of the chiffon cake. Remove it from the cupcake foil.

4. Drizzle with the warm chocolate glaze. Makes 4 Bostini Cream Pies.

What did my family think of Bostini Cream Pies? My children liked the chocolate sauce and my daughter liked the coconut custard. Neither one of them cared for the cake. My husband was in heaven as Boston Cream Pie is one of his favorite desserts. My husband and I thought that all together the Bostini had a nice flavor, but while the chocolate glaze and coconut custard were delightful, the cake was not our favorite.

Thank you Mary for a great challenge!

* Note: You can find two different types of coconut milk at your local health food store or Whole Foods, lite coconut milk that can be poured straight out of the can or coconut milk that you will need to remove the top of the can to remove. Coconut milk is very thick with some liquid that has usually settled at the bottom of the can. Before using the coconut milk, remove it from the can and place into a medium sized bowl. Stir it together before measuring out the quantity you need for a recipe. (I purchased my lite and regular coconut milk from my local Whole Foods where it was located in the Asian Foods section.)

October 25, 2007

Pumpkin Leek Soup - Gluten Free

The leaves have begun to change and are showering the landscape with their bright colors. Pumpkins are covering the ground all around the vegetable market along with yellow, orange and burgundy Chrysanthemums. The Fall vegetables are arriving at the market, leeks, spinach, and squashes. With Fall all around me and my chilly toes talking to me, I wanted to make a warm hearty soup for my family to enjoy.

I had brought home a number of leeks as they have a delicate and sweeter flavor than onions. Leeks have manganese, Vitamin C, iron, folate, Vitamin B6 and very few calories. Leeks can be used a wide variety of ways from chips, soup or tarts.

Leeks are relatively new to the Americas where they were only in use by 1775 by both the colonists and natives, but they have been used throughout history. There is evidence from tomb paintings that the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians cooked with them. Notably, they were a favorite of the Emperor Nero, who liked them in his soup and ate so many he became known as Porrophagus or leek eater. They are so beloved by the people of Wales that they are one of their national emblems.

To prepare your leeks, trim away the wilted or damaged leaves from the outside. Trim away the tops of the leaves. Then cut the leek in half beginning at the end of the white part and going all the way to the end of the leaves. Next, turn the leek over and repeat the last step so that the green leaves are cut into quarters. Fan out the leaves and wash the leek under running water to remove the dirt. After chopping the leek you may find dirt in between the white layers. Place the chopped leeks in a colander and rinse well to remove the dirt. If you would like to see how this is done, visit Jacques Pepin's website for a video on how to clean leeks.

I made the Pumpkin Leek Soup recipe from Colavita, but I needed to make a couple of adjustments for time and personal flavor preferences. This is a robust soup, filled with the flavors of leeks, pumpkin and spices. I served it with warm gluten free rolls and a light salad of mixed baby greens. It was a delightful meal to sit down to on a cool fall evening.


1 Tb butter
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 medium leek chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 Tb dry white wine
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground sage
pinch rosemary leaves
1 Tb chopped pecans

1. In a skillet, saute the chopped leek in the butter and olive oil until they have softened. Pour in 1 cup of the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and allow the leeks to cook for about 10 minutes.

2. In a stock pot, pour in the rest of the ingredients and the leek broth mixture. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped pecans and serve warm.

What did my family think? My children weren't fond of the flavor of the soup, as they didn't like the spices. My husband and I thought it was warm and delightful.

October 21, 2007

Upside Down Pear Pancake - Gluten Free

I have been looking forward to the arrival of the Seckel pears at our vegetable market. Picked just before they are totally ripe, so that you can allow them to develop to their peak flavor on your counter. Seckel pears are little gems of sweetness that are decadent enough on their own to be served as a dessert. However, since I had brought home several pints of Seckel pears, I wanted to do something different with them.

I settled on an upside down pear and vanilla pancake recipe from, that I altered to be gluten free. I used ground Plantago (psyllium) seeds as my binding agent. Yes, you were thinking correctly, it is the same ingredient that allows Metamucil to do it's work. Some varieties of plantago are the weeds you try so hard to remove from your yard and are also beloved by some species of Lepidoptera larvae. It was believed to have been brought to the Americas by the Spanish and spread either through the sand used for ballast or from the soles of their boots.

Plantago seeds contain fiber, protein and triglycerides. Some people can have an allergic or asthmatic reaction to consuming plantago (psyllium seeds). If you decide you would like to use psyllium on a regular basis and take certain herbal supplements, vitamins or medications you should be aware that there might be some interactions, so make sure to check with your personal physician before using it.

Ground Plantago seeds make a wonderfully gooey gel. You can use it to bind together gluten free baked goods and at the same time increase the amount of fiber the baked good contains. Chef Bo Friberg notes that psyllium can be used as a vegetable based stabilizer for sorbets in his book, The Professional Pastry Chef. Would it work also work for gluten free baking? It was time for some kitchen chemistry.

In this recipe, I used 2 teaspoons of ground Plantago seeds soaked in 1 1/2 teaspoons of water to see if it had enough strength to hold the pancake together. As you can see from the above slice of pear upside down pancake, the gel held the pancake together and allowed me to remove a slice without crumbling.

To use Plantago seeds as a stabilizer you will need to grind them in either a spice or coffee grinder. They have an extremely hard outer shell which proved to be too hard for my small mortar and pestle. I purchased my Plantago seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH.


1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tb agave syrup
1/2 cup soured lite coconut milk*
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tsp ground psyllium (plantago) seeds, allowed to gel in the water
1 1/2 tsp water
4 Tb melted butter or coconut oil
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
1/3 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 ripe Seckel pears, peeled and sliced thin
Turbinado sugar to cover bottom of pan

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 10 inch pie pan with parchment paper.

2. Sprinkle just enough Turbinado sugar over the bottom of the parchment paper to cover it. Cover the Turbinado sugar with the thinly sliced Seckel pears and arrange in a circular or another pleasing pattern.

3. In a large bowl, dump in the first seven ingredients and stir together.

4. In a small bowl, dump in the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda then stir together.

5. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the large bowl of liquid ingredients. Take care not to stir too much, only stir until it is just blended and stop. Pour the pancake batter over the Seckel pears in the pie pan.

6. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake 10 minutes more or until the center is firm when touched. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

7. Place your serving dish upside down on the pie pan. Holding both dishes tightly, flip them over so that the pie pan is now laying upside down on the serving dish. Remove the pie pan and set aside. Slowly peel the parchment paper off the pancake. Serve with warm maple syrup.

What did my family think of the upside down pear pancake? It was a hit with all of us. The kids liked it best when it was served with warm maple syrup. This recipe is a keeper.

*Note: To sour coconut milk, add 1 Tb of vinegar to 1 cup of coconut milk. For this recipe, you add 1 1/2 tsp vinegar to 1/2 cup coconut milk in order to sour it.

October 18, 2007

Agave Pumpkin Muffins

Since my family has type II diabetes I have been following a diet lower on the Glycemic index for several years. However, over the last six months I have begun to have episodes of reactive hypoglycemia due to my hypothyroid condition. This has meant I have needed to work on lowering the Glycemic index of the foods I eat, once again.

I have been altering my family's favorite recipes, replacing the sugar with agave syrup, because it is lower on the Glycemic index. One of the first recipes I chose to work on was pumpkin muffins, because my children adore them. I topped some of them with pine nuts and pumpkin seeds that my husband and I thoroughly and enjoyed.


1/3 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup agave syrup
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup pumpkin (fresh or canned)
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup chestnut flour
1/3 cup arrowroot starch
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cloves or nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp kudzu/kuzu powder (dissolved in water)
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped pecans, pine nuts or pumpkin seeds

Servings: 14 muffins

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and place 12 silicone muffin cups on a cookie sheet.

2. In a mixing bowl, dump in the vegetable shortening and cream it on medium speed. Pour in the agave syrup and mix.

4. Dump in the pumpkin and eggs, then beat on medium speed.

5. Slowly add the flours, baking powder, soda, spices, salt and water with kudzu dissolved in it. Mix on low speed just until blended. Pour batter into silicone cups.

6. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

What did my family think about pumpkin muffins made with agave syrup? My family thought they were delicious and ate them up in a few days. I thought they were fabulous and they didn't bother my reactive hypoglycemia at all.

October 15, 2007

Swiss Chard with Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette

My local vegetable market had freshly picked Swiss chard. The leaves were young and tender and a vibrant green. Naturally gluten free, Swiss chard is a versatile leafy green vegetable. It is a member of the goosefoot family, along with beets and spinach. The leaves and stems are edible, but the roots are not.

The leaves can be used like those of beets or spinach, i.e. boiled, braised, sautéed, steamed, and roasted. The stems can be cooked and used like asparagus. Swiss chard can be used in quiche, soups, salads, stuffing and sauces.

The World's Healthiest Foods website, from the George Mateljan Foundation, regards Swiss chard as one of nature's super star foods. It is high in Vitamins K, A & C, and an excellent source of minerals and fiber. The Nutrition Database also notes that chard has calcium, iron, protein and is low on the Glycemic index.

Swiss chard is available in many areas year round, although it is generally at it's peak June through August. You can store your unwashed chard in the refrigerator for several days and the stalked longer if they are separated from the leaves. There are a variety of ways to use chard in a recipe, such as Mediterranean Swiss Chard, Sauteed Swiss Chard Ribs with Cream and Pasta, Swiss Chard Tart with Roasted Pumpkin and Basil, Swiss Chard Pesto and Swiss Chard Spanakopita.

The young leaves of the Swiss chard I had picked up at the vegetable market to be peppery rather like argula. I thought a hearty mustard would go well with it and that was the inspiration behind my Swiss Chard Salad with Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette.

Vinagrette Recipe

½ cup olive oil
2 Tb vinegar
2 Tb German style mustard
¼ tsp + dash black pepper
½ tsp + dash sea salt
1 minced garlic clove
¼ tsp garlic powder
Dash onion powder
½ tsp minced onion

In a medium sized bowl, pour in all the ingredients and whisk. Store in the refrigerator.

What did my family think of the Swiss Chard and the Garlic Vinaigrette? My children didn't care for the taste of the chard, nor did they like the garlic mustard vinaigrette. It was way too spicy for them. My husband and I, on the other hand, thought the chard had a wonderful peppery bite and it was particularly good with the mustard vinaigrette. We've gone back to the vegetable market to buy more Swiss chard as we ate the first batch we bought all up.

October 13, 2007

Yeasted Banana Nut Waffles & Agave Coconut Cream - Gluten Free

Since the times of the ancient Greeks, people have been eating cakes flattened between two cooking plates. By the thirteenth century we began eating waffles after a craftsman had the idea to create honeycombed plate.

The Belgian waffle is thicker than the traditional American waffle, because it uses yeast rather than baking powder and soda. Brussels waffles became popular at the 1960 World's Fair in Brussels, when they were served by restauranteur Maurice Vermersch. His Brussels waffles were made from one of his wife's recipes. Maurice was so successful at the fair that he decided to go to the 1964 World's Fair in New York. Once in Queen's he renamed his pastry the Belgian waffle.

I was inspired by an article in The Daily Gullet, by Matthew Amster-Burton, titled "Desperate Measures: Waffles, Breakfast With the King." Like Matthew, I always forget that I would like to have waffles in the morning, actually make that my entire family. Light, crisp and filled with syrup, they are a soul satisfying way to start the say. So I took Matthew's advice and started up a batch of gluten free banana nut yeast waffles.

I couldn't wait to start cooking when I woke up. Armed with a hot cup of tea, I warmed up the waffle iron and gathered my kitchen tools. The aroma was so enticing, I quickly had company in the kitchen. Our Shetland sheepdog, came in and laid on my feet while I was cooking. This batch of waffles turned out beautifully. I served them with either warm maple syrup or Agave Coconut Cream. Either way, the waffles were delicious.

Banana Nut Waffles

1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup chestnut flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1 tsp Plantago seeds (psyllium seeds)*
1/4 tsp salt
1 package dry active yeast
1 cup water (110 to 115 deg Fahrenheit)
1 cup lite coconut milk
4 Tb butter, melted
4 Tb coconut oil, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tb agave syrup
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Agave Coconut Cream

1/4 cup coconut milk
1 Tb agave syrup

Waffle Instructions

1. Pour the yeast into the warm water and set aside to proof for ten minutes.

2. In a large bowl, dump in the flours, plantago seeds and salt then stir. Then pour in the coconut milk, yeast and water, butter, coconut oil, eggs and agave syrup. Stir the mixture together.

3. Cover the batter and set aside in a warm location for about one hour, if you want to use the batter right away. If you want to use the batter the next day, cover the batter and place in the refrigerator. The next morning allow the batter to come to room temperature before using.

4. Preheat your waffle maker and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions. Makes 6 waffles.

Agave Coconut Cream Instructions

1. Pour the coconut cream into a small bowl. Whisk until the cream is slightly fluffy.

2. Dump in the agave syrup and whisk. Serve with Banana Nut Waffles.

What did my family think of the waffles? They were a hit. Everyone of us thought they were great. My children didn't care for the agave coconut cream on their waffle, they preferred the maple syrup. My husband and I enjoyed the coconut cream on the waffles. This recipe is a keeper.

* Note: I purchased my Plantago Seeds (Psyllium seeds) from Native Seeds/SEARCH.

October 12, 2007

Chestnut and Celeriac Soup

Rich and hearty soups are staple fare at my home when fall weather arrives. Warming you from the inside out, these types of soups can chase the chill from your body just like a toasty radiator. I'm always looking for ways to stay warm when chilly weather hits and new soups for us to try.

While I was at the vegetable stand, I picked up a celeriac, some parsley roots and sweet potatoes that I thought would be wonderful together in a soup. After looking through my collection of cookbooks, I was inspired by a recipe for sweet potato and celeriac soup in Vegetables: from Amaranth to Zucchini by Elizabeth Schneider. I used celeriac, parsley root, sweet potatoes, shallots, celery and chestnuts to create a delightful fall soup.


2 cups chopped celeriac
1/2 cup chopped parsley root
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups chopped sweet potato
1/2 cup chopped shallot
3/4 cup chopped roasted chestnuts
1 quart vegetable broth
2 1/4 cups water
2 tsp sea salt
dash black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1. In a stock pot, pour in the first ten ingredients. Cook until the vegetables are tender.

2. Puree the soup in a food processor and then return it to the stock pot to keep warm.

3. Add the nutmeg then stir. Garnish with celery leaves and chopped roasted chestnuts.

What did my family think about the soup? My husband and I thought it was delicious. My children didn't really enjoy it, but they said it wasn't too bad. My husband and I enjoyed it for lunch the next day with toasted ham and cheese open faced sandwiches.