Summer Strawberry Tart {gluten-free}

Strawberry Tart {gluten-free}Strawberry Tart {gluten-free}

At last Spring has sprung. The snow is melting. Our daytime high is reaching the mid-fifties.

Ahhhhh.

We had fresh strawberries for dessert with friends the other night (thank you, Andrea!) and they were some of the best I can remember. Turns out they were $1 per pound at my grocery, too. So, I snatched up 5 pounds with this very tart in mind. I stumbled upon this recipe years ago in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine and it’s been burning a hole in my overflowing recipe to-do file ever since.

Much to Adam’s annoyance, I didn’t get started until 9:00 pm last night and didn’t finish until 11:15 pm.  Such working hours can put a strain on any relationship, especially when you live in a 500 SF studio apartment. Needless to say there was grumbling and growling from the general direction of our bedroom when I removed the tart from the oven, set it to cool, etc, etc.  I’m happy to report that serving the tart for breakfast, no less on a ho-hum Thursday morning, smoothed things over quickly.

So, my marriage is fine and the tart?  Well, the tart is quite good. Labor intensive, but worth it. I will definitely make this again.

STRAWBERRY TART
Adapted from Martha Stewart

I decreased the sugar content by half because I thought my berries were plenty sweet on their own and I hate when fruit desserts are ruined with too much sugar.  However, next time I will use the full amount of sugar called for because this filling should be sweet, almost like jam, but with more texture.  The crust is buttery and not too rich and I just feel that the full amount of sugar would have balanced things out nicely.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t adjust a thing.

Pate Brisee (tart dough/crust)

  • 3/4 cup sorghum flour *
  • 2/3 cup white or brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch (not flour!)
  • 1/3 cup tapioca or arrowroot starch
  • 1/3 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 15 tablespoons clarified butter (0r regular butter, or Spectrum organic shortening) chilled and cut into small pieces **
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Pulse flours, sugar, salt in food processor. Add clarified butter pieces and pulse a few times until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running add water until dough just comes together.

Alternatively, mix flours, sugar, and salt with whisk. Cut in butter using two knives or a pastry cutter until mix resembles coarse meal (butter is the size of peas). Add water and mix with a spatula or spoon until dough just comes together.

Divide dough in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour (when I’m in a rush, I’ll freeze the dough for 10 minutes or so to speed up the process).

Strawberry Tart

  • 3 pounds strawberries (about 8 cups), hulled and sliced
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch or arrowroot starch
  • 1 batch of Pate Brisee (above)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • turbinado or sanding sugar for dusting

Soak strawberries and sugar for 1 hour.  Drain off liquid and discard (or keep!  it makes a great simple syrup for iced tea!). Add cornstarch to berries and stir.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out half of dough on lightly floured surface to approximately 10″ in diameter, or approximately 1″ overhang.  Gently lay dough in 9″ removable bottom tart pan, gently press dough into sides. Prick the bottom with a fork.  Pour strawberry mixture over dough. Refrigerate to keep dough firm.

Roll out second half of dough on lightly floured surface to approximately 10″ round. Remove tart from refrigerator and carefully lay the top layer of dough over the filling and press edges to seal.

Using a paring knife, make decorative slits in tart top. Mix oil and water and brush the top of the dough. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Place tart on baking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and continue to bake an additional 30-35 minutes until top is brown and filling is bubbling. Cover with foil if to begins to brown too quickly.  Remove from oven and cool completely before serving.

* If you’re not gluten-free simply substitute the mix of flours with 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
** If you’re not casein-free substitute real butter for the ghee or shortening.

Apple Fritters {gluten-free, vegan}

A little over a fortnight ago I was bewitched by a certain volume of books. Not cookbooks, either. Nonfiction, actually. I have since neglected every duty in life and given myself completely over to this force. We’ve gone many a night without dinner, laundry is piled high, and my personal hygiene has begun to suffer. However, who can resist a doomed love story? Star-crossed lovers? The dreamiest, most selfless vampire in history?

 

Twilight.

Don’t you dare snicker!

Sure, I was where you were once. I used to cringe at every advertisement, roll my eyes in apathy at the teeny bopper posters, all the silly hype for some pubescent, and I was sure, poorly written high school romance.

I am no longer ashamed. Instead I dote on the novels with brazen abandon. I’m seriously considering hanging a poster of Robert Pattinson in our bedroom.  I have been so engrossed in the tale that I’ve consumed each book in 24 hours.  Of course, I had to take a fews days off in-between to ponder every detail, catch up on sleep, eat, bathe, etc.

What does this have to do with apple fritters? Well, nothing directly. I’m just waiting, rather impatiently, for the last book in the Twilight Series from the library. Until then, I thought it might be nice to surface from my obsession and live in the real world for a few days.

So, without further ado, I give you apple fritters.

APPLE FRITTERS
Loosely adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

These would no doubt impress anyone. We had them for breakfast this morning. And like a stingy little kid on Halloween I over indulged. These are like funnel-cake doughnut hybrids, with a sliver of apple in the middle to put the health conscious at ease.

  • 1 cup gluten-free flour mix (I use 2/3 cup brown rice flour, 3 tablespoons potato starch, 2 tablespoons tapioca starch)*
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces sparkling water
  • 2-3 crisp, sweet apples
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add the seltzer/sparking water and mix to achieve a smooth batter. Set aside.

Peel and core the apples, slice into 2″ long and 1/4″ thick strips, much like french fries. Add apples to batter and gently stir to cover.

Heat 1 1/2″ – 2″ of oil in a wide, shallow pan over medium heat. When a drop of water crackles in the oil it is ready, 2-3 minutes. Using two forks lift up 4-5 apple matchsticks from the batter, allowing the excess batter to drip back into the bowl. Gently lower the irregularly shaped wad into the hot oil. Let cook until crisp and lightly browned, flipping a few times throughout, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool slightly. Repeat, cooking 2-3 batches at a time. Don’t crowd the pan.

Serve immediately with a generous sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar.

* Swap out all purpose flour if you’re not gluten-free

** Next time I will lightly dredge the fritters with a mix of regular sugar and a pinch of cinnamon before dusting with the powdered sugar. I thought they needed just a hint more sweetness.

Sunrise Banana Bread

Rosy-fingered Dawn cast such a pretty light on my banana bread that I thought I ought to change its name. I am all about banana bread. I love it’s golden crumb, the characteristic black specs from the cooked bananas, with or without nuts. Chocolate chips? Yes, please. Coconut? Sure. Gooey dates? Why not? However it is tricked out, I am sure to be a fan.

And then there is Sunrise Banana Bread.

There is a reason I make this particular recipe time and time again. It is the one I always come back to. What makes this banana bread so special is the addition of quinoa flour (pronounced Keen-Wa). You should get to know this pseudo-grain if you haven’t already. Here, I’ll introduce you…

Quinoa, native to the South American Andes, was a sacred food of the Incas AND has been eaten for 6000 years (!), for good reason, too. The grain-like seeds are nutritionally dense: high in protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. Quinoa is also gluten-free, lucky me.

Its flour, though rather pricey, imparts a subtle nuttiness to baked goods and pairs particularly well with bananas, dark chocolate and nuts, hence the ingredient combination. I also really appreciate that I don’t get the sugar blues after a few bites. The addition of quinoa, with its high protein and fiber content, means you digest it s-l-o-w-l-y, which is great for your blood sugar. This is health food, People! Health food with a sweet facade.

SUNRISE BANANA BREAD
I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but alas, I can not. This is adapted to be egg-free from Bea’s recipe at La Tartine Gourmande.

Dry Ingredients:
3/4 cups quinoa flour
1/2 cup white or brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 cup very ripe mashed bananas (about 2 1/2 bananas)
2/3 cup blond cane sugar (or white sugar)
1/3 cup olive oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Egg Replacer:
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Add In:
1/2 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour a 5×9 loaf pan, tapping out excess flour.
  • Whisk together dry ingredients.
  • In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients until relatively smooth.
  • In a third small bowl mix the egg replacer.
  • Add the egg replacer to the wet ingredients and then fold in the dry ingredients, mixing until there are no more lumps.
  • Stir in the chocolate and walnuts.
  • Scrape/pour into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If your loaf browns too quickly, simply cover with aluminum foil. Allow bread to cool slightly before loosening from the pan.

Chocolate Chip Cookies {gluten-free, vegan}

Doesn’t that cookie look sad? All alone, no friends left. Depressing really. I was feeling empathetic, so I ate it for breakfast. It was the honorable thing to do.

Seriously, though, these were an outstanding batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. They’re vegan, too, not that anyone noticed. I really am beaming with self-satisfaction right now.

My husband said, “Wow, they look like real cookies!” That could be taken any number of ways. I took it as a compliment, which was of course his intention.

GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
These are an exemplary cookie even without the usual suspects (glutinous flour, butter and eggs), best fresh from the oven, when the middles are still warm and soft and the edges crisp. Enjoy them immediately.

I recommend increasing the salt in the dough to a 1/4 teaspoon OR keep it at an 1/8 teaspoon and sprinkle the raw cookie tops with a little coarse salt.

One last note, see those cracks in the surface? They are very important. As important as the cracks in a brownie’s crust. I’m not sure why or how, but they just are.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup sorghum flour (or brown rice)
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon tapioca flour/starch
4 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon teff flour (or sorghum flour or rice flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add:
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I chopped up a bar of 70% cocoa)
coarse sea salt or Kosher salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheet approximately 2 inches apart, gently flattening into a thick, round disk. Sprinkle the cookie tops with a few grains of coarse salt. Bake 7-9 minutes, just until brown.
  5. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to cooling rack.

Makes about 1 dozen cookies.

Peppermint Patties {gluten-free, vegan}

Peppermint Patties {gluten-free, vegan}

These are a little homemade Christmas gift for my Mom. She loves peppermint patties. We used to find the treats in our stockings on Christmas Day, and for me they just taste like the holidays. The candies are surprisingly easy to make. The only problem I’m having is not eating every last one before I get home!

Peppermint Patties {gluten-free, vegan}

PEPPERMINT PATTIES
Adapted from Gourmet

I thought the directions, as written, were fine.  I did tweak the ingredients a tad, opting for pure coconut oil (there’s only a bit, so the flavor goes unnoticed), omitting the salt (otherwise you end up with salty bites since the filling is never heated), and doubling the peppermint extract. The resulting peppermint patties are gluten free, soy free and vegan.

Now, for a word on chocolate.  Anyone with dietary restrictions, especially dairy and soy, will know how difficult it it to find chocolate that is safe to eat. I have two favorite brands.  When I need a semi-sweet chocolate I go for Enjoy Life’s allergen-free semi-sweet chocolate chips. The folks at Enjoy Life are dedicated to serving those with food allergies and they have an extensive line of other goodies, too. When I need a dark chocolate I always buy Theo chocolate bars.  I’m really impressed with this company. They are one of the few chocolate manufacturers to use real cocoa butter instead of soy lecithin, which just seems like a no brainer. I purchase their Origin Bars and the Jane Goodall 70% dark chocolate bars, as these are all dairy and soy free. I’m not sure if all of their chocolates are soy free and many do contain dairy, so be sure to read the labels closely!!

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (less than 1 pound), divided
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (I doubled, and would recommend doing the same)
1 tablespoon coconut oil or Spectrum organic, trans-fat-free vegetable shortening
10 ounces 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Make Filling:

  1. Beat 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, and coconut oil using an electric mixer (with paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) at medium speed until just combined.  Taste a pinch of the filling.  Does it need more peppermint? If so, add a few drops more to your liking.
  2. Knead dough on a work surface dusted with remaining 1/4 cup confectioners sugar until smooth, 5 minutes. Roll out between sheets of parchment paper on a large baking sheet until about 1/4 inch thick. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove top sheet of paper and sprinkle round with confectioners sugar. Replace top sheet, then flip round over and repeat sprinkling on other side.
  3. Cut out as many rounds as possible with 1″ round cookie cutter, transferring to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, gather scraps, reroll, and freeze, then cut out more rounds, freezing them.

Temper Filling and Coat Chocolate:

  1. Melt three fourths of chocolate in a metal or glass bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove bowl from pan and add remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool until thermometer inserted at least 1/2 inch into chocolate registers 80°F (I didn’t us a thermometer, I just waited until the chocolate felt pretty warm to the touch)
  2. Return water in pan to a boil and remove from heat. Set bowl with cooled chocolate over pan and reheat, stirring, until thermometer registers 88 to 91°F (again, I just tested with my finger to see if it felt about 90 degrees). Remove bowl from pan.
  3. Balance 1 peppermint round on a fork and submerge in melted chocolate, letting excess drip off and scraping back of fork against rim of bowl if necessary, then return patty to sheet. Coat remaining rounds, rewarming chocolate to 88 to 91°F as necessary. Let patties stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.

***I’ve been storing my patties in a container with parchment paper between the layers in the freezer.