Gluten-Free Rum Balls


Quick! There's time for one more decadent treat before your New Year's resolution kicks the Sugar Plum Fairy's fat derriere out of the kitchen. Rum balls. Brownies that have been remodeled into truffles. Start with baked brownies, then break into pieces in a mixer, add rum, roll into balls, and voila. This is Martha Stewart's genius idea

Something magical happens in this process where the cake-texture of the brownies becomes truffle-like. If you have ever made cake balls, you know.   

1. Start by baking your favorite brownie recipe or mix. My favorite gluten-free brownie recipe is from Annalise Robert's book, Gluten-Free Baking Classics. I have adapted it with my own flour blend, and with a dairy-free substitution. If you would like to see her original recipe, it can be found in the recipe archive section of her site. At the bottom of this post you can see my adapted recipe.  

2. After your brownies are baked and cooled, break into pieces into the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Pour in 1/4 cup dark rum, and mix at low speed until the crumbs come together to form a ball. Shape into 1" balls then roll the balls in chopped nuts, powdered sugar, decorative sugar, or anything else you can dream of.  Transfer the balls to a baking pan or baking sheet, and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature. The balls that are not devoured immediately can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Here's my favorite gf brownie recipe, from Annalise Roberts:

Food Philosopher's® Gluten-Free Brownies
(slightly adapted) 

2/3 cup gluten-free flour mix*
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
8 tablespoons palm oil shortening (Spectrum Organic)
1¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs (or egg alternative)
¾ cup toasted walnuts chopped (optional)
Cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Position rack in lower–middle oven. Line bottom and sides of 8–inch baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine 2/3 cup flour mix, salt, baking powder and xanthan gum in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Melt chocolate and shortening in a heavy medium sized saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat; whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs, one at a time and continue to whisk until mixture is completely smooth and glossy. Add flour mixture and whisk until just incorporated. Stir in nuts (optional).
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out with wet crumbs. Cool in pan on rack for five minutes. Remove brownies from pan by lifting out foil and cool completely on rack. Cut into squares or triangles. (Can be stored in refrigerator for up to five days or in freezer for several weeks; wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil).
*Giddyup Gluten-Free Flour Mix (makes 3 cups total): 1 cup sorghum flour, 1 cup millet flour, 1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)


GF/CF Rolled Sugar Cookies, Chapter 2

Rolled sugar cookies are the quintessential holiday cookie, the star of the cookie platter. I first posted this recipe last February as a Valentine's cookie. Now, here's the same recipe in the shape of a star.

This recipe is so easy and so good. My cookie testers cannot tell the difference between these and those made with wheat flour.  The flavor and texture are identical. 

If you make no other cookies this Christmas, make these. Nothing says love like a pretty sugar cookie.

GF/CF Rolled Sugar Cookies
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2010
Sweet, comforting, classic. 

3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt

(for an eggnog flavor, add 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg to the dry ingredients)

1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks (one stick)
1/2 cup Spectrum organic shortening
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350º.

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the seven dry ingredients (sorghum flour - salt). Whisk the mixture until well combined, set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine buttery stick with shortening, then cream in the sugar with a hand mixer. Stir in egg and vanilla. Add the sifted flour mixture to the sugar mixture in three stages, stirring well to combine.

3. Divide the dough in half, and pat each half into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap, chill for at least two hours.

4. Place chilled dough disc between two pieces of waxed paper, roll out to 3/8 inch thickness. Cut into shapes, and carefully lift from waxed paper onto parchment-lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until edges just barely start to brown. Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Cookie Icing
2 cups organic powdered sugar
2 tbsp So Delicious Coconut Milk
1/4 tsp gluten-free vanilla extract
dash salt

Stir ingredients until smooth. If the icing seems too thin, add more powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. If it seems to thick, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Add a few drops of food coloring, if desired. Spoon icing onto cooled cookie, spread with back of spoon to about 1/4 inch from edge. It's ok if the icing travels over the edge of the cookie. It adds to the handmade charm.

I like to separate the icing into three bowls, leaving one white and adding color to the other two. Each cookie gets a drizzle of each color, then I swirl the colors to make each cookie a little piece of sweet art.


Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cake

With Thanksgiving just around the bend, it's time to think about what we are all waiting for. Dessert. Let's face it, the turkey and side dishes are really just formalities that we politely put up with in order to get to the main event. Pies, cakes, and cookies. Right? Be honest. 

Here's a pumpkin cake to make for yourself or your GF/CF guests. It is so moist and flavorful no one, I mean no one will know it is gluten and dairy free. It does not really need a topping besides maybe a dusting of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped soy cream. I made a simple icing for the cake pictured, but honestly, it didn't need it. Make the cake the day before you want to serve it to give the flavors a chance to blossom and the texture to become more moist.

Pumpkin Spice Cake
(adapted from  "Applesauce Gingerbread" in The Joy of Cooking.)
This cake is actually better after it has aged for a day.  

1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 tbsp non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar (evaporated cane juice)
1/3 cup light olive oil

Preheat oven to 325º. Grease and flour (gf) an eight inch square cake pan.

1. Bring the pumpkin to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in the milk, brown rice syrup and 1 1/2 tsp baking soda. The soda will make it bubble a little. Let it cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift together sorghum flour, millet flour, potato starch, spices and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl beat eggs and sugar on high speed until thick and pale yellow, 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually beat in the oil.

4. Fold in the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the pumpkin mixture in 2 parts. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Slide a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Carefully invert the cake and take it out of the pan. Let it cool right side up on cooling rack. After it has cooled completely, place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap until serving.

To serve, cut into squares and top with powdered sugar or a simple powdered sugar glaze. I made a glaze with about 2 tbsp almond milk, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, and 1 cup powdered sugar. Stir it together and keep adding more liquid or powdered sugar to make it the consistency you like. Spoon the glaze over individual slices on the serving plate.


Banana Muffins Made With Peanut Flour

Look what I found at Trader Joe's:
Peanut Flour! What a great opportunity to boost protein and flavor in gluten-free baking. I have been experimenting with this flour for a couple of weeks, and find that it is very versatile. It is a great way to get peanut flavor without the fat of peanut butter.  Peanuts are legumes, not nuts, so this flour would be classified as a bean flour. Goober pea flour. 

 As you know my standard flour mix is 1/3 sorghum flour, 1/3 millet flour, and 1/3 potato starch. Two parts whole grain flour to one part starch. In experimenting with peanut flour I have been substituting it for the millet flour. That is after I discovered that too much peanut flour makes the end result too soft. My first cookie try was too cakey. I used 2/3 peanut flour and 1/3 starch - no grain flour. It really needs to be combined with grain flour. 

Now let's bake. Here's a recipe for banana muffins using peanut flour. Of course I added chocolate chips. The topping is just brown sugar and peanuts, but when it is baked on it tastes like toffee peanuts. Yum.

Banana Chocolate Peanut Muffins, GF/CF

1/3 cup peanut flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane juice
1 large egg
1 cup mashed bananas

1/4 tsp gf vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1/2 cup organic brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350º

1. Mix flours, potato starch, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined.

2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil and evaporated cane juice. Add the egg, mashed banana and vanilla, whisk until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Add dry mixture into wet mixture and stir until well blended, being careful not to over-beat.

4. Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Combine topping ingredients, sprinkle evenly over the muffins.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffins from pan and cool on a wire rack. Any muffins that you don't intend to eat within a couple of days should be frozen for later use. After they are completely cooled, wrap individually in plastic wrap, then in foil, and freeze. After they are frozen place them all in a large plastic freezer bag, labeled with content name and date. To thaw, unwrap and place on the counter for about 15 minutes.

Makes 9 medium muffins.


Sugar and Spice Cake

If Autumn had a taste it would be spicy. I've never tasted a crimson or amber autumn leaf, but it is surely loaded with spice. There would be hints of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and allspice. The long warm days whisper cinnamon secrets. The crisp nights hum nutmeg lullabies. It's time for your kitchen to sing sweet spicy songs. 

Here's a cake that is a sweet Autumn spice-storm. It is adapted from a recipe called Eggless Hillbilly Cake from a cookbook called Aglow in the Kitchen. My mother gave my sisters and I copies of this book when we were young kitchen novices. The broiled topping is absolutely heavenly, or sinful. Sometimes it's hard to know the difference. I think it's sinful if you feel guilty about it. So just enjoy this over-the-top dessert. Indulging in spicy desserts is a rite of Fall, after all. Add a scoop of coconut ice cream. You deserve it.

Sugar and Spice Cake, GF/CF
A sweet and gooey vegan dessert

1 cup evaporated cane juice
1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick (one stick)
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup potato starch
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

2/3 cup organic brown sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick (1/2 stick)
3 Tbsp So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage (or other non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Combine sugar, water, spices, buttery stick, and raisins in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring, and boil for one minute.

2. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flours, potato starch, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum.

3. Blend hot mixture with flour mixture, stir until combined. Pour into prepared 8x8 inch baking pan.

4. Bake 30 minutes or until done.

5. Make topping: Melt buttery stick with brown sugar. Stir in the rest of the topping ingredients. Spread topping over warm cake and place under broiler until bubbly. Serve warm or cold.

This cake ages well, and is actually better on the second day.


Apricot Blueberry Blondies, GF

Here in the Northwest it suddenly seems like fall. Leaves are getting rosy cheeked, the squeaky brakes of the school bus have returned to my soundscape twice a day, and my thoughts have turned to baking.

Even though my kids are all in college now I still think in terms of lunchbox and after-school treats when September rolls around. Images of cookies, brownies, and cakes interrupt my work. I wonder if there is a name for this lack of focus and constant interruption by random baking ideas. Baking Obsession Disorder? BOD? I have BOD. Do you?

Today I was thinking about dried apricots and how underused they are (at least for me). But I love them. So I found an old blondie recipe and added dried apricots, dried blueberries and pecans. The result is a moist fruit and nut studded bar, perfect for school lunches or after school treats. Or with tea. That's what will happen to these.

Apricot Blueberry Blondies, GF/CF
A moist and lovely little snack

1/2 cup shortening (I use Spectrum Organic)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp GF vanilla extract
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup potato starch
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened dried blueberries

1. Cream shortening and brown sugar, then add eggs and mix well. Stir in vanilla.

2. Combine sorghum flour, millet flour, potato starch, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt, whisk until well combined; add to creamed mixture, mixing well. 

3. Fold in apricots, blueberries, and pecans. Press into greased 8x8 inch baking pan. Bake at 350º for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool; cut into bars.


GF/CF Belgian Waffles

A few years ago, my sister and her kids were visiting from California. We did all the usual Seattle touristy things which was fun especially since the weather was cooperating. But what we all will never forget were the Belgian waffles we made one sunny morning for breakfast. We smothered the steaming waffles with freshly-made huckleberry compote and mounds of whipped cream. Not a lot was said at the breakfast table that morning. Not with words, anyway. Plenty of moans and sighs. What more was there to say.

My Belgian waffle recipe, which was really just the recipe that came with the waffle maker with the addition of some vanilla and cinnamon, was copied and taken back home with them.

Since then a few of us from that breakfast table have discovered that we are gluten-intolerant, dairy-intolerant or both. My sister has been asking me to develop a gluten-free Belgian waffle recipe, so here it is. Yes it is fluffy and light. Yes it is delicately crispy on the outside (until being smothered with syrup) and soft on the inside. Yes it is completely delicious. 

Yes we had this for dinner tonight. 


Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Belgian Waffles
(adapted from a recipe that came with my not fancy Belgian waffle maker)

1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1/2 cup millet flour
2 tbsp sugar
3 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage (or other non-dairy milk)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick (1/2 stick)
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients (sorghum flour through cinnamon) in a large bowl, whisk thoroughly to combine. Heat milk, water and "butter"  until very warm (about 120ºF; butter does not need to melt). Whisk eggs and vanilla extract in small bowl. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stir to blend. Add eggs slowly, stirring to incorporate. Blend at slow speed with an electric mixer until all is moistened; beat one minute at medium speed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise. Either leave the covered bowl on the counter for an hour or so (depending on inside temp), until the batter has doubled in size, or cover with foil as well as plastic wrap; refrigerate several hours or overnight. 

When batter has doubled in size, make your waffles following the manufacturers instructions for your Belgian Waffle maker. 

this recipe makes five waffles in my waffle iron which is average size. If you double the recipe and leave it to rise overnight in the refrigerator, make sure you are using a very large bowl and that it is double covered with plastic wrap and foil. Otherwise, you will find a messy blowout in the morning. I know this.


GF-CF Dutch Babies

The birth of Dutch Babycakes.
I intended to make Dutch Babies this morning but they were re-born as Dutch Babycakes.

Dutch Babies are the puffy German pancakes with Seattle origins. I have been making Dutch Babies since my college days. The recipe came from my college neighbor who lived across the alley and who was in many of my art classes. We are still good friends today, and both still making Dutch Babies. Only mine are gluten-free.

Dutch Babies are so simple, so versatile, and so impressive. They puff up in the oven like popovers, then deflate a bit as they cool but still maintain nice hills and valleys in which to sprinkle lemon juice, powdered sugar, and fresh fruit. The texture is not like a pancake, not like a muffin. Kind of in-between. Kind of moistey-spongey.

Dutch Babies are usually baked in a hot skillet or pie pan in the oven. I wanted individual babies today, so I baked them in a muffin pan. Because the edges of Dutch babies puff up more than the middle and because a muffin pan has more edge proportionally than a pie pan, they puffed up in the oven leaving a little indentation in the middle. Very cute. The Babies deflated a bit while cooling and looked like little cakes with dimples. Babycakes.

Traditionally, Dutch Babies are simply sprinkled with fresh lemon juice and dusted with powdered sugar to serve. But like pancakes, they can be dressed up in so many ways. How about adding raisins and lemon zest to the batter. How about adding cooked or fresh fruit to the batter. How about a dash of cinnamon, a splash of Contreau, some orange zest, then dusted with cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar. You get the idea. Start with the basic recipe and be creative with it.

Today I splashed the Babycakes with some fresh lemon juice, dusted with powdered sugar, then topped them with raspberries, boysenberries and blueberries from my garden; picked while the babies were in the oven. Baby, these cakes are good!

Gluten/Dairy Free Dutch Babycakes 
from: giddyupglutenfree, dorothy allard 2010

heat oven to 425º

4 large eggs - room temperature
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/4 cup almond flour
1 cup So Delicious Coconut Beverage** - room temperature
2-3 tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick*

fresh lemon juice
powdered sugar
fresh berries

1. Whisk eggs. Whisk to blend sorghum flour, potato starch, and almond flour.

2. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to eggs, blend until batter is smooth.

3. Put a 1/4 tbsp dab of butter on the bottom of each muffin cup.  Put the muffin pan in the preheated oven. When the butter is sizzling, take the pan out and fill each cup 3/4 full with the prepared batter.

4. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, until puffy and golden brown. Let the cakes rest for a few minutes, then take them out of the cups and onto plates. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice, dust with powdered sugar, and serve with fresh berries. 

* If you can’t have soy products, use organic vegetable shortening instead of the Earth Balance sticks.
** use any non-dairy milk (unflavored and unsweetened) if you don't want to use coconut milk


Blueberry-Peach Salsa

Summertime is salsa time. It's the perfect snack, appetizer, condiment. It's the perfect thing to mix with rice or quinoa. Nothing beats salsa and tortilla chips with the cold beverage of your choice on a warm summer afternoon on the deck.

Salsa doesn't have to be limited to the traditional tomato/onion/pepper version. Fresh fruit salsas can be so interesting and so unexpected. And so simple. Just follow your favorite salsa or pico de gallo recipe, substituting fruit for the tomatoes. 

Everyone has favorite fruit combinations. Mine is berries and peaches. The trouble is that I usually combine them into a pie, cobbler or crisp. That means calories. That means adding more pear to my pear shape. So what better than to stir up a fresh salsa for a healthy way to use those wonderful fresh summer fruits. 

Blueberry-Peach Salsa
A medley of blueberries and peaches with a kick!

2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh peach, skinned and chopped
1 cup chopped red pepper
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped fine
1 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tsp lime zest
1 tbsp agave nectar
salt and a little pepper to taste

Chop, chop, chop, chop, chop, squeeze, zest, combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours for flavors to merge, stir before serving. The fruit will release a lot of juice, so you may have to strain it before serving. Great with tortilla chips or served as a relish for fish or chicken. Best eaten the day it is made. 

A note about the photo: The peach I used was a white peach - it's what was ripe. Okay it was not local. But it was in my grocery store and it was ripe and the yellow ones were not.  I could not wait a few weeks for local peaches. When those are available, I will make this with a sweet yellow peach and take a new photo. It will be so much more colorful!


GF/CF Crazy Cake


An updated blast from the past.

Crazy cake, (aka Wacky Cake), is one of those desserts from the 60s that always turned up at potlucks and picnics. I am not sure why it is called Crazy. Maybe because of the way it is mixed up in the baking pan. Maybe because the recipe doesn't require eggs. Maybe because it is crazy good. 

My sisters and I loved Crazy Cake when we were little. It's one of the first recipes we could very proudly make by ourselves. The recipe is very simple both in ingredients and preparation - perfect for aspiring young bakers.

This cake is so moist and chocolatey that it doesn't really need a frosting. I topped the cake pictured with a simple chocolate icing and some toasted and chopped hazelnuts. You can top it with your favorite chocolate frosting, a fruit sauce, or with ice cream. Or just enjoy it au naturale. (the cake, that is).

GF Crazy Cake (vegan)
This chocolate cake is surprisingly moist and so easy!

Preheat oven to 350º.
Into an ungreased 8"x8" cake pan, sift:
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt

Make three holes in the dry ingredients - one larger in the center and two smaller holes on either side to hold the following:
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 Tbsp light olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Add the vanilla, oil, and vinegar to the holes, then pour 1 1/4 cup water over the whole thing. Mix well with a fork until all the dry ingredients are incorporated with the wet ingredients. Bake 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Enjoy this gluten-free version of an old classic!


The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending a coffee talk with the very charming Mireille Guiliano, author of the hugely successful French Women Don't Get Fat, and the newly released The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook.The event was organized by the amazing Keren Brown of Frantic Foodie, and held at Muse, a great little coffee shop on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle.

Mireille dishes sensible dining advice, like eating in moderation, cooking with fresh ingredients, and drinking lots of water. Her main message is "get in the kitchen and cook!" 

In our fast-paced society our connection with food has faded, and our consumption of processed food has grown. Mirielle stresses that we need to re-gain that connection with our food, enjoy preparing it, enjoy eating it, allowing it to nourish our body and souls. We need to follow dining rituals and learn to enjoy our meals leisurely without racing to the finish line.

I have been cooking out of this book for the last few days, and the recipes are simple and good. (I am now addicted to Magical Breakfast Cream, a combination of plain yogurt, lemon juice, honey, flax oil, nuts and cereal.) Converting her recipes to gluten and diary free is easy. Where she uses butter, use Earth Balance Vegan Spread, where she uses pasta, substitute quinoa pasta (or your favorite GF pasta). Where she uses wheat flour, just substitute your favorite GF flour blend.

This is a great cookbook, not only for the recipes but for the advice on eating well without gaining weight. Here's what the jacket says, and I can't say it better: 

"Filled with stories from Mireille's childhood in France, her life in Paris, Provence, and New York, and her extensive travels and meals for business and enjoyment, The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook is a beautiful, practical lifestyle guide to living well, eating wonderfully, and getting the most out of life with the least amount of stress."

Sounds good to me.

Here are three of the recipes I tried from the cookbook this week:

Apple Compote with Pistachios
The pistachios are wonderful with the apples. I can think of so many ways to use this.

Quinoa with Almonds, Hazelnuts, and Apricots
This is a delicious breakfast. I sort of added extra nuts and apricots, so you can't really see the quinoa, but it's there.

Madeleines au Chocolat
I will tell you why French women don't get fat. They don't eat cookies! Seriously, there are no cookie recipes in this book. This is close. Madeleines are scrumptious little cookie/cakes, and this one in particular is wonderful. So soft and chocolately, and it must be eaten warm.


Just Beet It!

Have you ever really explored a spice market? I did recently. World Spice Merchants in Seattle has the most wonderful selection of interesting and unusual spices and weird ingredients. This one came home with me. The vivid color attracted me first. It is absolutely beautiful. 

My imagination went wild with what I could turn pink. Cookies, muffins, scones, biscuits, pie crust, frosting, etc. (of course my mind would go to desserts). You get the idea.

When I want to experiment with new ingredients, I usually go to my go-to cookie recipe - GF/CF Drop Sugar Cookies. They are just a simple sweet cookie, like an empty canvas ready to be played with. The flavor of the powder on its own is a little beety but mostly just super sweet. I whisked in four tablespoons of the beet powder to the dry ingredients. The vivid color became a little lighter during baking but is still pretty. After baking, the beet flavor becomes indistinguishable. 

Bottom line:  A little beet powder will make anything naturally pink without adding beet flavor. And who doesn't want pink food?


Cardamom Shortcake - GF/CF

My grandmother Lucy was a good cook. Not in a fussy sauces and exotic ingredients kind of way, but in a simple old-fashioned way. She knew how to get the most out of what she had, as did most cooks of that era. She used to whip together this soft, delicious shortcake out of a few staple ingredients and top it with whatever fruit was fresh and local. My mom made this shortcake all the time when my sisters and I were growing up. If there was any leftover, the next morning we would slice it, butter it, and put it under the broiler to toast it for the most awesome breakfast treat.

What you consider to be shortcake depends on your family cooking heritage. Some people were raised on strawberry shortcake made from drop or rolled biscuits. I hate to tell you that you have been horribly deceived! Shortcake made from biscuit dough is not shortcake. It is biscuits. Shortcake made from sponge cake or angel food cake is not shortcake either. Shortcake is a tender-crumbed cake made with shortening.

This is shortcake. 

Adapting this recipe to gluten-free took some experimenting. I found that it needed a little something to counter the tastes of the gluten-free flours, so I added vanilla and cardamom, which adds a nice new dimension. Serve it topped with your favorite sauce made from fresh fruit. Strawberries are classic. My favorite is with rhubarb compote, as pictured above.

Cardamom Shortcake (GF/CF)
adapted from my grandmother Lucy's 1930s recipe

1/3 cup shortening (Spectrum Organic)
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice*
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup millet flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp xanthan gum
dash salt
2/3 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375º. Grease an 8x8 baking pan.

1. Cream together the shortening and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. (It is very important to cream this by hand. Don't use a mixer. The tender crumb depends on it!). Stir in the egg and vanilla until smoothly combined.

2. Combine the dry ingredients, whisk, then sift into a bowl.

3. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the shortening mixture alternately with the milk, stirring until smooth. Spread the stiff batter into the prepared 8x8 baking pan.

4. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Let it cool, then cut into squares, slice in half, and fill with sweetened soft fruit. If desired, top with soy whipped cream.

*A tip about organic sugar: Have you noticed that organic evaporated cane juice is a larger granule than traditional white granulated sugar? Have you also noticed that it sometimes makes baked goods grainy because it doesn't dissolve all the way? Here's how to get a smaller granule. Pour it into your heavy-duty blender and process for a few seconds. (7 seconds with the dry blade of a Vitamix on variable I, speed 7). Be careful not to process too long or it will become powdered sugar.

Rhubarb Compote

I can't get enough fresh local rhubarb! I crave it. It starts growing in late winter, so it's ready to harvest by April into May. Rhubarb's playful sweet/tart wake-up call to your taste buds signals the beginning of fresh spring produce. If seasonal fresh produce was a marching band, rhubarb would be the drum major.

Serve this compote warm on shortcake, on ice cream, on cheesecake, or just by its lovely self.

Rhubarb Compote

1 tbsp water
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
3 cups sliced rhubarb (1/2 inch chunks)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup organic cane sugar

1. In a small bowl, whisk 1 tbsp water and cornstarch together until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water, lemon juice and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the rhubarb. Lower the heat, gently moving around the rhubarb until it softens a bit. (If the rhubarb is stirred too much, it will quickly loose its shape and turn a little too mushy. It is nice for the compote to retain some of the rhubarb in chunk form.)

3. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the rhubarb, return to a boil (stirring occasionally) and remove from heat. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use, or freeze for a lively taste of spring in the dead of next winter.

Makes about a cup and a half of compote.


Rhubarb Huckleberry Cobbler

It's rhubarb time at the local farmers markets. Rhubarb is one of the first vegetables to ripen in the spring. It is certainly the most beautiful. Rhubarb looks like celery dressed up for prom in a shimmering crimson gown. 

Rhubarb has the most delightful flavor - when mixed with sugar that is. A raw bite will send you into pucker spasms. When we were little, one of my sisters liked to break a stalk off the rhubarb plant in our back yard and eat it raw. I tried to do the same thing, but found that I much preferred to dunk that bitter bite into the sugar bowl first. I wasn't as brazen as my sister.
Rhubarb is actually related to buckwheat. It is a vegetable that prefers being treated like fruit, as in transforming it into cobblers, crisps, compotes, crumbles, cakes, and pies. You know I'm happy to do that.

GF Rhubarb Huckleberry Cobbler

6 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup fresh or frozen huckleberries (or blueberries)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup potato starch (or tapioca starch)
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup pecans, roasted and chopped
1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread, cold
1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease a 9x12 baking dish.
1. Stir together chopped rhubarb, berries, and cornstarch. Pour it into the baking pan, distribute evenly. Stir 1/2 cup sugar into one cup water and pour over fruit. 

2. Combine sorghum flour, millet flour, starch, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the chopped nuts. With a pastry cutter, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir the egg and vanilla together in a small bowl, and add it to the flour and butter mixture. Stir until the dough is moistened. The dough will be stiff.

3. Sprinkle the dough in crumbly chunks over the fruit. Bake 40-50 minutes until golden brown and done in the middle.



Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Brownie cookies!
I just have to share this recipe for an amazing cookie with the texture and flavor of a brownie. It's flourless!! Egg whites do the magic. It is a very simple recipe - my favorite kind. The original recipe calls for dutch-processed cocoa. I used organic cacao powder instead because I like the deeper chocolate flavor. I also added a teaspoon of espresso granules to add depth the the chocolate. The recipe says to beat in the egg whites just until the batter is moistened, but that resulted in a very flat cookie for me. So I beat in the egg whites for about 3 minutes to get a cookie that is about 1/2 inch or so high. The longer you beat in the egg white the stiffer it gets, so be careful or you will end up with brownie balls, (which might actually be kind of good).

François Payard’s Flourless Chocolate-Walnut Cookies
from Payard’s book Chocolate Epiphany
(slightly adapted)

2 3/4 cups walnut halves
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2/3 cup organic cacao powder
1/4 tsp instant espresso granules
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

1. Spread the walnut halves on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant.  Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and coarsely chop.

2. In a large bowl, whisk (or combine in an electric mixer on low speed) the confectioners’ sugar with the cacao powder, espresso granules and salt followed by the chopped walnuts. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat on low speed for 3 minutes.

3. Scoop the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up  to 3 days.


GF/CF Quinoa Date Nut Cookies (vegan)

Oatmeal cookie makeover. 
Annie has been asking me to create a GF/CF substitute for her childhood favorite, oatmeal cookies. We made a lot of cookies when my kids were growing up. I used to have three little helpers in the kitchen when I baked, eager to get their hands in the dough to roll it into balls and sneak little samples. Three sets of cookie monster eyes would check the cookies a hundred times as they baked, turning on the oven light over and over, peering in to see the magic. They took turns with the important job of moving the cookies from the baking sheet to the cooling rack, wielding the spatula (which minutes before was a light saber) like pros. Those were the days of butter, milk, and wheat. And oatmeal. Annie now can't have any of it.

Oats themselves do not contain gluten, but because of cross-contamination issues in both the farming and processing of oats, they are not considered gluten-free. Some companies market gluten-free oats but we don't want to take any chances, so we avoid them completely. Using my tried and true recipe for oatmeal cookies, quinoa flakes were substituted for the oats, GF flours for the wheat flour, organic shortening for the butter, and hemp milk for the dairy milk. I decided that as long as I was at it, I would eliminate the eggs as well. Eggs provide leavening, some fat, and some liquid. So, I left out the egg and just added more leavening, more liquid, and more fat. Now they are vegan. The cookies had to have some interesting textures and flavors, so dates and walnuts were added. 

Success, both in flavor and texture. This one's a keeper. 
GF/CF Quinoa Date Nut Cookies (vegan)

Forget oatmeal cookies. Forever.

1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup potato starch
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup organic shortening (I like Spectrum)
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
2 tbsp hemp milk (or other non-dairy  milk)
1 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tsp GF vanilla

1 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350º. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the first seven dry ingredients. Whisk to combine thoroughly, set aside. 

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugars with shortening, cream with a hand mixer. Add milk, oil, and vanilla, beat on low speed until creamy. Add the flour mixture in two stages, mixing to combine. By hand, stir in quinoa flakes, dates and walnuts. 
3. Roll the dough into one-inch balls, and place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Press the dough balls slightly with the palm of your hand.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just starting to turn color around the edges. The center will look doughy in the cracks, but they will continue to bake as they cool. 
3. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for five minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. The cookies will stay fresh (covered) for a day. If they are around longer than a day, they should be stored well wrapped in the freezer.

Makes 20 - 24 cookies.

Tip: To avoid a whole sheet of too-flat or too-round cookies, bake two test cookies first so that you will know exactly how far to press the dough.


Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate pudding, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You are gluten-free. You are dairy and casein-free. You are sugar-free. You are egg and soy-free. You are guilt-free.

This pudding is practically health food. Minimally processed dark chocolate has a very high amount of flavonoids, a compound found in plants that help repair the plant from environmental damages. By eating dark chocolate, we are protecting ourselves from our own environmental toxins. The flavonoids also increase blood flow, which can help reduce high blood pressure. The coconut milk is no slouch either. Most of the fat in coconut milk is the kind that our bodies use for energy, not the kind that is stored for fat. It is also a good source of calcium.

This recipe is adapted from Joy of Cooking's recipe for Chocolate Pudding. The sugar called for in the original recipe has been replaced with agave nectar, and the half-and-half replaced with unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage. The result is just as rich and creamy as the original version. 

Chocolate pudding, why do I love thee? Because you are a cool, creamy, velvety version of a rich dark chocolate truffle. Without the guilt.

CF Dark Chocolate Pudding
from giddyupglutenfree, 2010 

Adapted from Joy of Cooking
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup pure organic cacao powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup warm water
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate (100% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage, unsweetened
1 1/2 tsp GF vanilla extract

3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage

In a small saucepan, stir together the agave nectar, cocoa powder and salt. Gradually stir in the warm water, making a smooth paste. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until it is melted. Stir in the coconut milk.

In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup coconut milk until it is a smooth paste. Thoroughly stir it into the chocolate mixture. Cook, whisking constantly over medium heat until the mixture is thick and just begins to boil. (The thicker and hotter it gets, the more briskly it should be stirred.) Remove from heat and add vanilla. 

Pour the pudding into serving dishes, and press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming as it cools. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then dive into a deep, dark, satiny lovin' spoonful.
Makes four servings.
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