May 31, 2008

Pecan Pralines - New Orleans Style

When I was younger and my family would head back home to see the grandparents each summer. As we traveled, my parents would look for a Stuckey's Pecan Candy Shoppe for a break from driving. Stuckey's were known for their wonderful candy, like pecan rolls and divinity. At our first stop my parents would always buy a couple of boxes of divinity and pralines for us to enjoy as we traveled.

For my Praline Rooibos Opera Cake, I made these New Orleans style pralines for the flavoring of the cake. The recipe I used is from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. In these pralines, the sugar is opaque rather than clear.

The flavor is delicious with a slight hint of caramel. My children weren't that fond of these candies, but my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed them.


1 cup sugar
2 Tb glucose*
1/4 cup water
1 Tb mesquite honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tb vegetable shortening
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces
small bowl of water
pastry brush
candy thermometer

1. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set out two sauce pans, a medium one for making pralines and another half filled with water. Place two soup spoons and a whisk in the water. Then set the pot on low and allow the utensils to warm while you make the pralines.

2. Dump in the sugar, glucose and water in the medium sauce pan. Cover the pan and set over medium heat for 4 minutes. At the end of this time, remove the lid and increase the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a boil. Insert a candy thermometer into the sugar mixture. Do not stir the sugar mixture until after the syrup is cooked. If any stray sugar crystals appear on the side of the pan, using a pastry brush lightly dipped in water.

3. The sugar will form bubbles that will get very large as it cooks. After the sugar has cooked for about 8 minutes, it will turn a light golden brown. When the temperature reaches 335 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pan from the heat. Allow the pan to cool for about 1 minute before adding the other ingredients.

4. Pour the honey, brown sugar, vegetable shortening and salt in to the pan. Using the warm whisk, blend the ingredients into the syrup. Then add the pecans and whisk again.

5. Scoop out a soup spoon sized serving of the praline with the warm soup spoons. Then set the spoonfuls on the parchment paper. If the praline begins to harden before you have finished scooping out the candy, place the pan over low heat until it softens again. Let the candy cool to room temperature before serving. Store the pralines at room temperature in a covered container.

* Glucose - I used Wilton's Glucose for this recipe, purchased it from Michael's Craft Store. I found it on the cake decorating aisle. You can substitute corn syrup or sugar syrup in place of the glucose.

May 28, 2008

Praline Rooibos Opera Cake

A May Daring Bakers Challenge

This month's challenge was brought to us by Lis of La Mia Cucina, Fran of Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie, Shea of Whistful and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice. Our baking this month is dedicated to Barbara of Winos and Foodies, who is no longer an active member of the Daring Bakers, but will always be an honorary Daring Bakers for her bravery and character in the face of a challenge. To our wonderful hostesses, thank you for an incredible frolic in the kitchen. Barbara, thank you for showing us all how to live life with courage and great joy. The lovely Barbara, is the force behind the food blog event called, A Taste of Yellow, it supports the LiveSTRONG Foundation started by Lance Armstrong.

The Opera Cake is an elegant and beautiful French dessert that was believed to have been created around the early 1900s. Many people credit Louis Clichy with inventing the cake that is sometimes referred to as the Clichy Cake. This recipe is based on the Opera Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle & Timothy Moriarty's Chocolate Passion.

I had a great deal of fun making this recipe, making New Orlean style pecan pralines, roasting pecans for pecan meal, making syrup and joconde. My children weren't thrilled in the beginning with this recipe, but they quickly came around when they tasted the cake. A light and moist sponge cake, it is delicious alone and with the buttercream. The ones I made for my husband and myself had the extra layer of the white chocolate mousse made with honey, Rooibos tea, and Jack Daniels. Alas, there isn't much of this cake left over. The Opera Cake is a thoroughly delightful recipe and one I'll make again.


Joconde, The Cake Layer
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup pecan meal *
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3 large eggs
1 tsp chia seed meal
2 Tb brown rice flour
2 Tb sweet rice flour
1 1/2 Tb vegetable shortening, melted

1. Divide your oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a jelly roll pan (15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1) with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or a mixing bowl (if you are using a hand mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy.

3. Change to the paddle attachment, and beat in the almond and pecan meal, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light, about 3 minutes.

4. Slowly add the flour and beat on low speed just until it is combined. Be careful not to over mix.

5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the meringue into the nut mixture and then fold in the melted shortening. Spread the batter, evenly to cover the entire surface of the pan.

6. Place the pan in the middle of the oven. Bake until the cake layers are lightly browned and just springy to the touch, about 5 to 9 minutes. Note: I baked mine for 9 minutes.)

7. Place the pan on a heatproof surface, then loosen the cake from the pan. Cover the cake with a piece of parchment paper and lay a cookie sheet upside down on top of the paper and the jellyroll pan. Turn the pan with the cake in it over and remove the jellyroll pan. Carefully peel away the parchment paper from the cake and then cover the cake with it. Note: You may need to hold the cake down with your finger tips as you ease away the parchment paper. Allow the cake to cool until it is room temperature.

* Pecan Meal - I made pecan meal by roasting pecan halves on a cookie sheet in the oven for 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Then I dumped them into the bowl of the food processor along with 2 Tbs of arrowroot starch and processing until the nuts became a fine meal.

Syrup for Joconde

1/4 cup water
3 Tb cane sugar
1/2 to 1 Tb mesquite honey

1. Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the sauce pan and bring to a boil.

2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until it is room temperature.

Butter Cream Layer

1 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tb crushed pecan pralines *
1 egg, beaten
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup vegetable shortening **
1/4 cup coconut oil/butter
2 Tb cocoa butter, melted

1. Combine the sugar, water and praline in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.

2. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy or instant read thermometer. Then remove from the heat.

3. While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk the eggs until they are pale and foamy.

4. When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature, reduce the mixer speed to low and very slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl. Be careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl, but don't worry about it as it will harden.

5. Raise the mixer speed to medium high and continue beating until the eggs are thick, satiny and cool to the touch (about 5 minutes).

6. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the vegetable shortening and cocoa butter. Once the shortening, coconut oil and cocoa butter are incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.

7. Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it's set and firm enough to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes). Note: You may need to chill your buttercream for a longer period of time before it firms up enough to spread.

* Praline - I made New Orlean's style pecan pralines for this recipe and then chopped them. The recipe comes from Sherry Yard's The Secret of Baking. This recipe will be my next blog post and will be posted on Friday, June 1st.

** You can substitute butter or all vegetable shortening in this recipe.

White Chocolate Ganache/Mousse Layer

3.5 oz white chocolate, chopped finely
1/4 cup very strong Rooibos tea *
1/2 Tb mesquite honey
1 Tb Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey
5 Tb vegetable shortening
2 1/2 Tb cocoa butter

1. Dump the white chocolate, Rooibos tea and cocoa butter in a small sauce pan. Then gently stirring together until the chocolate and cocoa butter melts and to keep it smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, pour in the melted chocolate mixture. Begin beating on medium speed, until the mixture is creamy. Then dump in the honey, whiskey and shortening and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy.

3. Refrigerate until you are ready to use. Note: You may need to set the mousse out to warm up in order to spread it.

* Rooibos Tea - It is a tea made from the leaves of the Rooibos bush from South Africa. I used 3 tea bags to 1/3 cup of water make the very strong tea. If you cannot find Rooibos tea, you could substitute Honeybush tea for it. Or you could use 1/4 cup of almond milk or heavy cream instead.

Glaze for Top of Cake

7 oz white chocolate
1 Tb very strong Rooibos tea *
2 Tb vegetable shortening
2 Tb cocoa butter

1. Melt the white chocolate, Rooibos tea and cocoa butter, stirring until melted.

2. Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Smooth with a spatula to get a smooth and even layer.

3. Place the cake in the refrigerator until set.

* Rooibos Tea - * Rooibos Tea - It is a tea made from the leaves of the Rooibos bush from South Africa. I used 3 tea bags to 1/3 cup of water make the very strong tea. If you cannot find Rooibos tea, you could substitute Honeybush tea for it. Or you could use 1 Tb almond milk or heavy cream instead.

Assembly of the Opera Cake

1. Cut strips of parchment paper that are the width of the roll of the parchment paper and 4 inches wide. Have some tape ready to hold the parchment paper together around the cake.

2. Cut out circles of the cake using a round pastry ring or cookie cutter. Using a pastry brush, paint one side of each cake round with the honey syrup.

3. Then set the parchment paper around the cake in a tube and tape to hold the tube shape.

4. Spoon some buttercream on top of the cake round and smooth until the mixture is even. Then ease into the tube another cake layer. Spoon the mousse mixture on top of this cake layer and spread evenly. Set another cake layer into the tube and cover with a layer of buttercream.

5. Place the cake into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes before glazing. When the buttercream is firm, pour the glaze on top. Then set the cake back into the refrigerator to chill.

6. Top with powdered sugar, colored powdered sugar and a white chocolate treble clef.

May 23, 2008

Kumquat Lychee Preserves & Sweet Puffs

When I was a kid, I loved to go visit my Aunt and Uncle in Pensacola. They had the most wonderful plant in their backyard, a small kumquat tree. I had quite a fondness for kumquats and their tree was the perfect size for me to pick. My Aunt and Uncle weren't that fond of kumquats, so they let me have any ripe fruit on their tree when we were visiting. I loved the sweet tart flavor of the kumquats and the way they burst open in my mouth as I bit down on them.

You can imagine my joy, when I discovered the kumquats had come in season. They were piled in a lovely display at the entrance to Whole Foods. I grabbed several pints to bring home and began to day dream about all the fabulous foods I could make with them. Once they got home, my daughter asked if she could try my kumquats. Delighted, I sliced some up for her to try and warned her that they could have the same flavor as the yellow Sweet Tart candy. She popped one in her mouth and was smitten with their lovely sweetness followed by a hint of tanginess.

Before long, I was down to just a dozen of the beautiful little orange orbs. So, I didn't have enough for the kumquat preserves I had planned on making. Looking through my pantry, a can of lychee fruit caught my eye and I wondered how they would taste with kumquats. A few tasting experiments later and adding some slices of the last of my Clementines, I had the makings of a great recipe for preserves - kumquats, Clementines and lychees. It is a fabulous celebration of sweet and piquant fruit.

After making up the preserves, I began making some sweet puffs that I could fill. The first batch of puffs were literally devoured by my family. My daughter sat and opened each of her sweet puffs filled them with some homemade strawberry preserves. While I was cleaning up the kitchen, my preteen son slipped in and scooted out with the last of the sweet puffs clutched close to his chest. My husband sat in the kitchen laughing and told me I'd have to make more if there were going to be any for breakfast.

My sweet puffs recipe is a variation on the Master Pate a Choux recipe from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking. I'm submitting my kumquat lychee preserves to Sugar High Friday, hosted this month by the lovely Tartelette.


Kumquat Lychee Preserves

12 kumquats, peeled & seeded
2 clementines, peeled & seeded
1 20-oz can lychee fruit in syrup
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp monocalcium phosphate*
1/4 tsp pectin*
1 medium canning jar & lid, sterilized

Sterilizing Canning Jar(s)

1. Your canning jars need to be thoroughly cleaned before use. Run the jars through your dishwasher or wash and rinse them.

2. Place the jar(s) in a large pot of water, so that the jar is totally covered in water. Then bring the water to a boil. Boil gently for 10 minutes and then keep the jar(s) in the hot water until you are ready to fill them.

Making the Preserves

1. Chop the fruit into medium sized chunks. Then place the fruit and sugar into a food processor. Blend until all the chunks are broken up.

2. In a medium sauce pan, pour in the water and the monocalcium phosphate. Stir until the calcium dissolves.

3. Then sprinkle the pectin across the water and stir together. Break up any small clumps of pectin that remain.

4. Pour in the fruit and sugar mixture, then stir together. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Then cook for 20 minutes.

5. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal.

Miniature Sweet Puffs

4 Tb chestnut flour
2 Tb sweet rice flour
2 Tb arrowroot starch
1 tsp chia seed meal
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cane sugar
2 tsp agave syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup almond milk
3 Tb vegetable shortening
2 large eggs, beaten
hot water for the steaming pan

Egg Wash

1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place one oven rack in the center of the oven and another rack on the lower under it. One the lower oven rack place a heat proof pan or bowl on it.

2. In a medium sized bowl, dump in the flours, chia seed meal, sugar and salt. Stir together, making sure the chia seed meal is thoroughly mixed with the flours.

3. In a medium sized sauce pan, pour in the water, almond milk, agave syrup and vegetable shortening. Bring to a boil. At the first sign of boiling, remove the sauce pan from the heat and dump in the flour mixture. Using a thick wooden spoon, stir the mixture. The dough will become thick and gloppy.

4. Return the sauce pan to the burner and place on medium heat. Stir for about 1 to 2 minutes to cook out the flour flavor.

5. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and using a hand mixer or the paddle attachment from a stand mixer. Mix on low speed making sure the mixture is 180 degrees Fahrenheit or a little less. Add one egg and continue to mix. Scrape down the sides as necessary until the egg is thoroughly incorporated with the dough. Add the second egg and repeat. At this point you can cover the dough and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

6. Transfer the dough to a piping bag using a number 1 tip. Pipe small mounds about 1 inch high and 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Then brush the dough with the egg mixture.

7. Place the cookie sheet into the oven and pour water into the heat proof pan or bowl. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Prop the oven door open slightly with the handle of a wooden spoon.

8. Remove from the oven and cool completely before serving. Makes 30 miniature sweet puffs.


1. You can substitute more clementines for the kumquats in the preserves recipe.

2. You can substitute 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum for the chia seed meal in the sweet puffs recipe.

3. You can substitute 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend for the various flours. If your flour blend has xanthan gum already added to it, then do not add an extra binder (chia seed meal, xanthan or guar gum).

* Monocalcium Phosphate & Pectin - I used Pomona's Universal Pectin. In the box from Pomona, you will find a packet of monocalcium phosphate and a packet of pectin. I purchased my box of Pomona's from Whole Foods. I found it on the baking aisle near the sugar and spices.

May 13, 2008

Cream Cheese Cookies

When I was a kid, my Mom always had homemade cookies or bars in the house for us to eat. My brother's favorite were her blondies, my Dad loved her pecan pie and I craved her peanut butter sauce pan cookies. Mom was always making sure that she rotated her baking so that each of us got something we loved to eat.

For Christmas, Mom would do her baking and always made sure that there was a pecan pie. So that Santa could have a piece of pie. My brother and I, thought Santa would prefer cookies. Mom said, she had it on good authority that Santa preferred pecan pie and a nice hot cup of coffee.

Sometimes she would make these delightful little treats called cream cheese cookies. Slightly crisp on the outside, they are soft and chewy on the inside. My husband thinks these are some of the best cookies he's ever eaten. So, converting her recipe into a gluten free version had become a necessity.

This gluten free version has the crisp exterior, soft interior and all the fabulous flavor of the original wheat version. When my husband realized I had made these cookies for him, he was thrilled. All he could do was smile and reach for a handful of cookies as he made his way to the kitchen table. My daughter thought they were really good, although my son isn't all that keen on the flavor of cream cheese. I thought they were fabulous. Thanks Mom for a terrific recipe.


4 Tb vegetable shortening, softened
2 oz cream or Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cane sugar
3 Tb brown rice flour
3 Tb chestnut flour
2 Tb sweet rice flour
1 tsp chia seed meal
1/4 tsp + pinch cream of tartar
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 Tb chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie pan with parchment paper.

2. In a mixing bowl, dump in the butter and cream cheese. Cream on medium speed and then pour in the sugar. Continue to cream until the sugar is thoroughly incorporated. Then dump in the vanilla extract and continue beating.

3. In a small bowl, pour in the flours, chia seed meal, cream of tartar and baking soda. Stir together, making sure the chia seed is mixed into the flour very well.

4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and beating on low speed. When the flour is mixed thoroughly mixed with the cream cheese dump in the pecans. Continue to mix until the pecans spread through out the dough.

5. Drop by spoonfuls on the parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Makes 21 cookies.


1. You can substitute the Neufchatel cheese with cream cheese. You can also substitute all the cheese with Tofutti cream cheese.

2. You may substitute 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum for the chia seed meal.

3. You can substitute the millet flour or more brown rice flour for the chestnut flour.

May 10, 2008

Anasazi Almond Brownies

I cook with a variety of foods that I buy from Native Seeds. They are a nonprofit conservation organization based out of Tucson, Arizona. Their mission is to "...conserve, distribute and document the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seed, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwestern and northwest Mexico." * They are working to retain our crop biodiversity and cultural diversity of traditional foods of Native Americans and the Southwest.

They seek out traditional crops and collect their seeds for raising on their Conservation Farm. Then they collect the seeds to maintain in their Seed Bank and to sell in their retail store and catalog. Additionally, they have created a Gardener's Network from around the country to grow and evaluate the seeds in the Seed Bank.

In their store they sell the seeds they have collected from their Conservation Farm, foods, crafts, books, videos, soaps, salves, and cards. They have a wide variety of food offerings from the Southwest. My family's favorites are the different variety of beans, corn products, agave syrup, and various meals. A unique and recent addition to my kitchen is the Madrone Serving Spoon, carved by the Tarahumara Women's Cooperative in Cusarare, Chihuahua, Mexico. It is the perfect spoon for serving or working a large pot of beans.

This recipe uses the Anasazi beans, a beautiful maroon and cream fleck bean. It was originally collected from the 4 corners region of the US. They have a rich flavor and a creamy texture making them perfect for making brownies.

My family loved these brownies. They were moist and very flavorful. They didn't last long, which thoroughly disappointed my children. My son asked if I could buy some more chocolate so I could make these brownies again.


1 cup cooked Anasazi beans, drained
3.5 ounce bar Green & Blacks Organic Dark 70%, melted
1/2 cup + 2 Tb cane sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening, melted
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond meal
1 1/2 tsp chia seed meal
Optional: 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1. Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Dump the cooked beans into the food processor and process until smooth or in a large bowl dump in the beans and mash until the beans are a smooth paste. Pour in the melted chocolate, sugar and salt into the bowl and stir.

3. In a small bowl, dump in the almond meal and the chia seed meal. Stir together and work out any lumps you might have in your almond meal. Then pour this mixture into the bean mixture and stir.

4. Pour in the melted shortening and beaten eggs and stir. Using a spatula ease the brownie mixture into the pan and spread out evenly.

5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing the brownies from the pan. Cut and serve. Makes 16 brownies.


1. You can substitute any mild flavor bean for the Anasazi beans in this recipe. You can use Bolita, Pinto, Tepary, Colorado, Moon beans.

2. If you cannot tolerate chocolate you could substitute it with 1/2 cup carob powder.

3. If you would like to use an alternative sweetener, substitute the cane sugar with 2/3 - 3/4 cup honey.

4. I used chia seed meal as my gluten free binder, you could substitute with 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum.

* Quote from the Native Seeds Website.

Disclosure: I am a Native American member of Native Seeds, supporting their conservation efforts.

May 8, 2008

Three Sisters Posole

Posole is a traditional stew made of meat, beans, chilis and served with a variety of garnishes, such as lettuce, radishes, cilantro, lime, oregano, squash, or corn. It is a hearty meal that is very versatile. It can be served as a stew, as a topping for nachos and as a filler for tacos or enchiladas.

I had recently purchased a bag of blue posole from Native Seeds/SEARCH. Their blue posole is raised on a small farm in New Mexico and treated with lime to remove the hulls. The folks at Native Seeds want to make sure that you can enjoy the foods they sell, so they send along a collection of recipes for simply and hearty fare.

My Three Sisters Posole uses Colorado River beans, blue corn posole and roasted butternut squash. The three sisters refers to the main foods of some Native American people in North America. The sisters were beans (typically tepary), maize and squash. These plants were planted in companion mounds, with the corn being planted first. When the corn was 6 inches high, they would alternate squash and beans around the base of the corn. The beans would climb the corn and give nitrogen to the soil. The squash would provide ground cover, inhibiting the growth of weeds and providing mulch to the soil. Additionally, the prickly squash would provide a deterrent to any pests.

This recipe made for a warm and hearty vegan dinner. My children were surprised at how much they enjoyed the meal, although they weren't crazy about using cilantro as a topping. My husband and I thought it was a perfect addition to our collection of vegan meals as it could be served as a stew or filling for a taco or the topping for nachos.


1 cup blue or white dried posole (dried whole hominy)
1 cup Colorado River beans or Anasazi beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp grains of paradise or black pepper
Sea Salt to taste
1 roasted butternut squash, quartered
Optional: 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Rinse the beans and posole and then place in cold to soak. You can either soak them for several hours or overnight then drain when ready to use.

2. Place the posole, beans, onions and garlic into a crock pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender.

3. Add the oregano, salt, grains of paradise or pepper and cilantro and stir together. Serve warm over the baked butternut squash and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serves 4.

May 6, 2008

Roasted Sweet Potato Pita

I have been contemplating making Naomi's recipe, from Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried, for Sweet Potato Pita's for some time. Naomi has several versions of her pita bread recipe, first there is the roasted sweet potato, dark coconut and teff. Timing always seemed to be a challenge, but this weekend turned out to be the perfect for trying my hand at making pita bread.

The recipe is very easy to make and very versatile with the various types of flavors that you can use to make them. My first batch of pita, I used the white Jersey sweet potato. They had a light and delicate sweet potato flavor. For the second batch, I used the Garnet sweet potato and the bread had a delectable sweetness and a beautiful orange color.

My first batch made a fabulous flat bread, although none of them puffed up. I did better with my second batch, with about half of them puffing up. We filled these with a light salad of shredded collard greens, radishes, cucumber and celeriac with a light vinaigrette.

This is a fun and very versatile recipe and my family thoroughly enjoyed them. My children thought they made for great snack food. My husband's favorite version was filled with roasted chicken, swiss chard and tomatoes and some wasabi mayonnaise.

Naomi is my adopted gluten free blogger, for the Adopt A Gluten Free Blogger event created by Sea of the Book of Yum. This month Adopt a GF Blogger is being hosted by Rachel at Wheat-Free, Meat-Free.

May 3, 2008

Ruby Red Jasmine Calas - A Creole Fritter

Around the turn of the century, you could find ladies walking the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, selling Creole calas to eat with your coffee. Calas are a delightful and slightly sour fried concoction that will remind you of eating a fritter. Once fried they are dusted with powdered sugar and served piping hot.

When I was younger and my family would go out for brunch, you could get your choice of either calas or beignets. I always chose the calas for their slightly sour and exotic flavor. Slathered with fresh preserves or key lime curd they were sublime. Rarely did I have enough room to eat my meal and my parents were always asking for a box to take it home.

The other day I was thinking about calas and the restaurant on the beach where we'd go for brunch. Since the restaurant is long gone, there was only one way I knew I could get calas and that was to make them myself. There are a variety of different ways to spice up your calas, you can use the traditional nutmeg or nutmeg and cinnamon or nutmeg, cinnamon and mace. You can make them sweet or not so sweet.

My family's reaction to the calas was mixed. My husband and I thought they were wonderful. Our children weren't so fond of them as they found them a bit sour for their taste, but they don't like sourdough bread either. Our favorite way to eat them, was sprinkled with powdered sugar with a dollop of our favorite fruit preserves or curd.


1/2 cup warm water (110 deg. F to 115 deg. F)
2 Tb cane sugar or agave syrup
1 pkg active dry yeast
3/4 cup Ruby Red Jasmine Rice, mashed *
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup millet flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
2 tsp chia seed meal **
pinch sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Optional: 1/4 cup cane sugar
Vegetable Shortening for frying
Powdered Sugar for Dusting
Fruit Preserves or Curd for slathering

1. The night before or at a minimum a few hours before you want to make your calas, pour the water, sugar and yeast into a large bowl. Let it stand until the yeast starts to foam, then add the mashed rice. Stir together and then cover the bowl. Allow it to stand at room temperature over night for a stronger sourdough like flavor or for at least a few hours for a milder soured flavor.

2. The next day or several hours later, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. The mixture should be like a pancake batter, but not thick. Cover and allow it to rise for an hour. (Note: If you would like sweeter calas, add the 1/4 cup of cane sugar at this point.)

3. Preheat your frying oil to 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Set out a tray that is covered with paper towels for draining the calas. Drop by spoonfuls into the oil and cook until the are a deep golden brown with slightly darker edges, turn them over once during cooking.

4. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm. Makes 15 small calas.


1. You can use a gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum added instead of the flours and chia seed meal. Use 3/4 cup of the flour blend.

2. You can substitute 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum for the chia seed meal.

3. Any rice you have on hand can be used instead of the Ruby Red Jasmine rice.

* Ruby Red Jasmine Rice - I purchased my Ruby Red Jasmine Rice from Whole Foods. It is from Alter Eco Fair Trade.

** Chia Seeds - I purchase my chia seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH. Then I use a coffee grinder dedicated to spice grinding to process them into a meal. Once ground, I store the meal in an air tight container in my pantry.