January 28, 2008

Lemon Meringue Tart

January's Daring Baker Challenge

Our January Daring Baker's Challenge was hosted by Jen of The Canadian Baker blog. She always wanted to try making lemon meringue pie and this was her opportunity for us to all try our hand at this delectable dessert. For those who wanted to try something a little different you could also try making small lemon meringue tarts.

Lemons have been around for centuries and are believed to have been growing in the wild in the areas of India and China. Lemons have been used by people as an antidote for various types of poison, keeping seamen from getting scurvy, and for a wide range of culinary dishes.

Lemons don't tend to get many opportunities to shine at my house, since my husband and I are the only fans of lemon flavored desserts. So, I was delighted to be able to make a dessert that we both enjoy. Lemon meringue pie has had a place of honor on our New Year's holiday menu since we were both children. As traditional Southern New Year's dessert, it would round off my mother's meal of ham, black eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread.

For my holiday menu, I wanted to dress up the lemon meringue tarts a little bit and made them bite sized. Then I used pistachio nut meal in the gluten free tartlet crust to add a bit of flavor, as the basic gluten free flours are some what bland. The chia seed meal was added as a binder to hold the gluten free flours together.

This recipe was easy to make and received rave reviews from my husband. He loved the smaller sized bites were he was able to get a little bit of everything in each bite. My children considered the crust the only part of the dessert worth eating. They made a special request for having tried the lemon thing, they wanted to know if I could make them some chocolate chip cookies. As for me, I was in dessert heaven. Best of all, I have been getting to enjoy the left over lemon filling on toast for breakfast.

Thanks Jen for a great recipe and a wonderful challenge.


Tart Crust

6 Tb cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 Tb + 2 tsp sweet rice flour
1/4 cup pistachio nut meal *
1 tsp chia seed meal **
2 Tb palm sugar ***
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 Tb ice water

Lemon Filling

1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 Tb butter
6 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


3 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tb granulated sugar

Tart Crust

1. Using cold ingredients, in a large bowl pour in the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Work with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle with water and work the dough just until it begins to stick together.

2. Place the dough into the refrigerator to chill for at least 20 minutes. Then turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, press out the dough into a large circle.

3. Peel the parchment paper off the top of the dough and then place it back on the dough. Next flip the dough sandwiched in between the sheets of parchment paper upside down. Peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the dough. Using a sharp knife slice the dough into 2 inch by 2 inch squares and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet.

4. Chill the dough squares in the refrigerator for another 20 minutes. Just before the dough squares are ready to come out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees C). Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Cool completely before putting the tartlets together.

Lemon Filling

1. In a large sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, dump in the sugar and cornstarch and stir together. Then slowly add the sugar mixture to the hot water and whisk until it until it is completely incorporated.

3. Return the sauce pan to the stove top and cook on medium heat whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Take 1 cup of the mixture and slowly add it to a bowl containing the beaten egg yolks. Continue to whisk until smooth. Add the warmed egg yolk mixture to the sauce pan and continue cooking, stirring constantly until the mixture returns to the boil.

4. At the first sign of bubbles remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until thoroughly blended. Then dump in the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla, stirring until incorporated.

5. Scoop some of the mixture into a pastry bag and swirl small amounts onto the center of each tartlet square.


1. Preheat the oven on the broil setting. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.

2. Slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff glossy peaks form. Scoop into a pastry bag and swirl the meringue over the top of each tartlet.

3. Place the pan of tartlets in the oven and with the door slightly open watch the meringue and remove when a pretty browning has colored the tops. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

(Jen's pie recipe was from Wanda's Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver (2002) and her tartlet recipe was from David Lebovitz's, Ripe for Dessert (2003).)

* Pistachio Nut Meal: Take unsalted roasted pistachios and grind them in a food processor or coffee grinder not used for grinding coffee and grind until they form a meal. Grind in small batches and not for too long otherwise you will make pistachio butter.

** Chia Seed Meal: Take whole chia seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder (not used for coffee) or spice mill and grind until a meal is formed. I purchased my chia seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH.

*** Palm Sugar: If your palm sugar came in disks, you will need to use a meat tenderizer or other hard object to break up the sugar into a powder. I purchased my palm sugar at my local Korean market, but you can also find it at Whole Foods in the Asian aisle.

January 22, 2008

Spiced Applesauce Muffins

We have had new dietary challenges at our house recently. We have discovered some new allergies for our daughter and it has required some new changes in the foods she eats. When she's not feeling her best, one of her favorite comfort foods is applesauce with a touch of cinnamon.

I was trying to lift her spirits the other day and I wanted to make her something that wouldn't bother her tummy. I located a delicious recipe for applesauce spice muffins from
Epicurious.com that had the potential to do it. I tweaked the recipe a little and made it gluten free. If you would like to make your own applesauce you could try one from ExPat Chef at the blog, the Eat Local Challenge.

As a family, we are not alone in our love of apples.
Apples were commonly used at least as far back as classical times with Apicius and were in cookbooks in medieval times in recipes for drinks, rissoles, apple sauce and fritters. (Oxford Companion to Food, Davidson, 1999, pg. 30-31)

The only apple native to America is the crab apple, a small and sour little fruit. When the colonists came to American they brought the things they were familiar with such as their apple seeds. The first orchards didn't bear much fruit due to the lack of honey bees, but that was soon remedied by the colonists in 1622 when the first shipment arrived in the Colony of Virginia. Now there are 10,000 different varieties of apples grown in the world with 7,000 of them grown in the United States.

Several years ago for a science project, my children collected as many apple varieties as they could find. Next they noted the variety, tasted them, collected and counted seeds, and sprouted the seeds. Last they charted their results and showed off their apple seedlings. We had a blast searching out apple varieties and tasting them all. Since then we've made an effort to try any apple that we don't recognize and my daughter has had a real soft spot for anything made from apples.

After the muffins came out of the oven and cooled, my family lined up to try out the muffins. Richly flavored with spices and apples with a sweet crispy top, the muffins were intensely satisfying. My crew decided that these muffins needed to be regulars at our house. My daughter thought they were a wonderful way to end her day after having felt so unwell.



½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup arrowroot starch
¼ cup sweet rice flour
¼ cup chestnut flour
2 tsp psyllium (plantago) seed meal
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp sea salt
2 large eggs, beaten
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 Tb Turbinado sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, melted
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup chopped pecans


2 Tb cane sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 12 silicone muffin cups on a cookie sheet.

2. Pour the flours, seed meal, baking soda, baking powder, spices and sea salt into a medium bowl. Stir the dry ingredients together.

3. In a large bowl, dump in the eggs and sugar. Stir together and then pour in the melted butter, a small amount at a time. Blend until the mixture is creamy. Plop in the apple sauce and stir again.

4. Slowly combine the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients until the flour mixture is mostly combined. Dump the nuts into the mixture and blend.

5. Fill each muffin cup with batter and then start the topping.

6. Pour the ingredients of the topping into a small bowl and stir together. Sprinkle the topping over the top of the muffins.

7. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

January 15, 2008

Aebleskiver - Apple Stuffed Pancakes

My children were very curious about a pancake pan that we noticed while we were out shopping. With rounded indentations and made out of black cast iron, the pan was for making Danish aebleskiver. Completely captivated by the idea of little round pancakes, we bought the aebleskiver pan and brought it home.

The origin of aebleskiver is unknown, but Karl Jorgensen, former owner and publisher of the Santa Ynez Valley Visitor's Magazine had his own theory. He thought that a group of battle weary Viking's returning to their ship wanted to have one of their favorite foods from home. All they had to cook on was a banged up shield. The pancakes cooked on the shields produced little pancake balls that are now called aebleskiver, now a traditional Danish dish. Traditionally, aebleskiver were served around Christmas and were filled with slices of apple or applesauce. At the Solvang Restaurant in California, they serve their aebleskiver topped with raspberry jam and powdered sugar.

Other nations have dishes similar to aebleskiver, the Dutch have poffertjes, the Japanese have takoyaki, the Thai have kanom krok, and the Indians have kuzhi paniyaram or gunta pongadalu.

Aebleskiver batter is very versatile and can be sweet as well as savory. Try adding chocolate chips to the center or dip in lemon juice and powdered sugar. For a savory options try coconut milk and corn or green chilis and Monterey Jack cheese.

However you choose to eat them, aebleskiver are lots of fun. My children were very entertained by eating the round pancakes with their fingers and dipping them into maple syrup. My husband and I enjoyed how each little ball was crispy on the outside and slightly gooey on the inside. Our new aebleskiver pan has gotten a workout as we have become enamored with these crispy little pancakes.


Equipment Needed: Cast Iron Aebleskiver pan (mine is from Lodge)

Apple Filling

1 Tb butter
3 Tb brown sugar, packed
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled & finely chopped
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tb orange juice

Pancake Batter

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup corn flour
3 Tb cornstarch
3 Tb sweet rice flour
2 tsp flax seed meal *
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp agave syrup
3 egg yolks
1 1/3 cup oat milk, soured **
5 egg whites


1. Dump in the butter, brown sugar, apples, nutmeg, cinnamon into a skillet and cook on medium heat. Stir the apple mixture frequently until the apples are tender. Remove from the heat and drain off the liquid. Set aside and allow to cool.


2. In a medium bowl, dump in the flours, flax seed meal, soda, baking powder and salt. Stir together.

3. In another medium bowl, pour in the agave syrup, egg yolks and soured oat milk. Then stir the ingredients together.

4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together. Set aside while you mix the egg whites.

5. Plop the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat the egg whites on high speed until it forms firm peaks. Fold the egg whites into the pancake batter until blended.

6. Grease the bottoms of the cups of the aebleskiver pan. Pour 1 Tb of batter into the bottom of each cup and cook for 2 minutes. Place 1 tsp of apple filling in the center of each pancake. Then place another tablespoon of batter on top of the apple filling. Cook for another 2 minutes.

7. Use bamboo skewers to flip each pancake upside down. Cook each pancake another 2 minutes. Remove each pancake from the pan and set on a plate to cool. Makes 18 pancakes.

* You can use flax seed meal, psyllium seed meal or chia seed meal.

** How to make soured oat milk: Use 1/2 cup of 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 leak out from under the lid of your food processor and onto the counter. Store oat milk in the refrigerator. To sour the oat milk pour 1 1/4 tsp vinegar into the milk and stir. Allow to sit for a few minutes.

January 11, 2008

Roast Chicken Soup with Roast Pumpkin and Sage Dumplings

My neighbor was remarking the other day that she hadn't seen us very much and wanted to know if we had been sick. I explained that we had been sick, but the truth is that every winter you will see less of us. When the wind and cold come in from the north, we hide from the elements in our warm and snuggly house. That's when it becomes quite obvious that we are Southerners and not native New Yorkers.

Any snowfall will see us outside and enjoying it, but bundled up as though we were starting out on an Arctic expedition. All four of us are garbed in parkas, snowsuits, insulated boots with our feet in layers of socks, multiple pairs of gloves, scarves and hats. We even resort to hand and foot warmers on very cold days.

In winter weather, I always seem to have a pot of soup on the stove or a stew going in the crock pot. Nothing warms us up as well as a bowl of soup or stew. As an edible tummy heater, it warms us up from the inside out, making all of us very contented. After we come inside from the snow, it's the only thing that can tempt the kids away from their cuddle with the radiators.

This recipe is for Roast Chicken Soup with Roast Pumpkin and Sage Dumplings, comes from the Book of Soups by The Culinary Institute of America (2005). It was originally made with roast turkey and butternut squash, but I used the chicken and pumpkin that I had on hand. My modification to the recipe was to make the sage dumplings gluten free.

The Roast Chicken Soup has a deep and soothing flavor. Each spoonful is spiked with the richness of the bay leaves and the roasted pumpkin. The tender sage dumplings add a heady spiciness to the flavor of the broth, reminding me of the foods of Thanksgiving and Christmas. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the savory flavor of the soup. My son liked the soup, but it preferred it without the pumpkin and dumplings. My daughter didn't care for the soup at all. She feels that pumpkins belong in muffins and not in her soup. Plus the dumplings were too soft and not firm like noodles. She prefers the firmer texture of noodles. Since most of us enjoyed this soup so much, I'll definitely make this recipe again. The next time I make it, I'll set aside some roast chicken and vegetables for my daughter to eat.



3 lb roasted chicken, skinned, boned and diced
3 qt chicken broth
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
5 - 6 whole black peppercorns
1 Tb dried parsley
1 large bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Sea Salt, to taste
olive oil
2 cups fresh pumpkin, diced
Sea salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste
1 recipe Sage Dumplings

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the bottom of a jellyroll pan with olive oil. Peal and seed a small pumpkin. Then dice the pumpkin and place it on the cookie pan. Turn the pumpkin over in the oil so that the sides get covered. Make sure all the pumpkin pieces are in a single layer on the pan.

2. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the pumpkin over. Return the pan to the oven and continue to bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool.

2. In a Dutch oven, pour in the chicken broth and put on medium heat. Dump in the chicken, onion, carrot, celery and peppercorns, parsley, bay leaf, thyme and sea salt. Allow to simmer for about 1 hour.

3. To serve, ladle the soup in to warm bowls and then top with roasted pumpkin and sage dumplings.

Sage Dumplings

1 1/4 lb yellow sweet potatoes
1/3 cup corn flour
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 Tb arrowroot starch
2 tsp chia seed meal*
1 Tb sea salt
1 tsp dried sage
1 egg, beaten
1 Tb olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then coat the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil.

2. In a large bowl, pour in some cold water and some lemon juice. Peel the sweet potatoes, as you finish peeling each one place it in the acidic water. When you are ready to dice the sweet potatoes, remove them one at a time to cut them. This will keep the sweet potatoes from turning dark. Dump the diced sweet potato in the baking dish.

3. Place the sweet potatoes in the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until tender.

4. When the sweet potatoes are done, remove them from the oven to cool. Dump the sweet potatoes into a large mixing bowl and mash them.

5. In a medium bowl, dump in the flours, salt, sage and chia seed meal. Stir together.

6. Add the flour mixture to the sweet potatoes mash and stir together. Plop in the beaten egg and olive oil and continue to stir together. When you are finished stirring the mixture will be soft.

7. Put the sweet potato mixture into a pastry bag and pipe out 1 inch tubes onto parchment paper.

8. Pour water into a large skillet until it is at least 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. Then add about 2 teaspoons of sea salt to the water and stir. Bring the water to a boil.

9. Using a fork or a small spatula, ease the dumpling dough off the parchment paper and add to the water. Cook until they begin to float in the water, approximately 90 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the dumplings and place on a jellyroll pan to drain. Serve with the soup. Cook's Notes: It will take a little while to cook all the dumplings. I cooked enough to serve with dinner and then finished the rest after our meal was over. You can cook the dumplings the day before. Then store them in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

* I purchased my chia seed from Native Seeds/SEARCH. Then ground the seeds in a coffee grinder that is dedicated to grinding spices and flours. (Note: One local organic grocery store, Mrs. Green's, sells chia seeds from Shiloh Farms.)

January 5, 2008

Oat Flakes - Gluten Free

One of the recipes in The Professional Pastry Chef (Friberg, 2002) that I've been wanting to try is for a beautifully crisp cookie called Oat Flakes. The cookie spreads out while baking into an oblong shape. Once the cookie has cooled, you dip one end in dark chocolate. With the end result is a cookie that resembles a rolled oat.

Since I have a great fondness for oats. They find their way into many of the dishes I make at our house, such as Peanut Butter Sauce Pan Cookies, Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal, Pizza or Oat Milk. With my stock of certified gluten free oats recently replenished, it was time to give this cookie a try. The recipe called for very little wheat flour and could be changed to be gluten free easily. I also wanted to try making them with agave syrup rather than sugar in order to reduce the glycemic index of the cookies.

The cookies emerged from the oven a golden toffee color and smelled delightful. After the cookies had cooled, my children took over and had a great time dipping the cookies into the dark chocolate. We did leave some plain to see which ones we preferred. The four of us thought the chocolate covered cookies were delicious and were our favorite. We took to folding our cookies in half, so that every bite had some chocolate in it.


1/2 cup + 1/2 tsp (128 g) melted butter
1 1/2 cup (155 g) certified gf rolled oats *
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup (234 g) agave syrup
5 1/2 tsp (16 g) brown rice flour
5 1/2 tsp (16 g) sweet rice flour
1 1/2 Tb (18 g) baking powder
1/4 - 1/2 cup Dark Chocolate, melted

Note: This recipe is reduced in size from the original.

1. In a large mixing bowl, pour in the melted butter and oats. Beat together on low speed. Dump in the egg and agave syrup and continue beating.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flours and baking powder. Stir together. Then add to the large mixing bowl and beat together.

3. Cover the mixing bowl and place in the refrigerator preferably overnight, but at least 4 hours.

4. Cover several cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Scoop out the batter into balls about the size of 1 tablespoon. Give the cookies room to spread. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until the entire cookie is a light toffee color.

6. Allow the cookies to cool and then set up. Then remove each cookie from the parchment paper and dip into the melted chocolate about halfway. Replace on the cookie sheet and allow the chocolate to dry, approximately overnight. Note: The cookies will still be somewhat soft after cooling.

* You can purchase certified gluten free oats from Cream Hill Estates, Gifts of Nature, Gluten Free Oats, Bob's Red Mill, Glutenfree.com and Glutenfreemall.com.