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Sunday was my dear Dad’s birthday, he would have been 91, Happy Birthday Dad!

Mom and Dad 1959

Mom and Dad 1959

What does your grocery shopping map look like? Ours is called the Golden Horseshoe which means we shop the outer edge. Here in Canada it usually means that we enter the store in the vegetable section, round over through the deli/specialty cheese then bakery then fish/meats and finish off in dairy.
We don’t do a whole lot in the aisles. Recently I did a couple of assisting jobs that took me deep into un chartered territory: the middle aisles! I had to pick up groceries for a Canadian lifestyle TV show for two segments and I have to admit that it was an eye opener! What I found enormously frustrating was that a number of items that could be in more than one spot. Even the staff didn’t know for sure. Gluten free is a great example because a number of GF products are also organic, so now you’ve hot two completely opposite locations for the same product. Or if it’s flour and it’s a national brand, it could be in the normal baking section on the same shelf as the regular glutenated versions! Yes, it’s frustrating. What does your grocery store layout look like and do you shop the aisles?

I was making polenta the other day and as I was stirring the polenta and it began to thicken I was suddenly reminded of Pâte à Choux  just after you add the flour to the butter and water mixture, and the idea came to me so I spent the following day developing a gluten free Pâte à Choux that you could not tell was Gluten Free. I must tell you, this is it. Many Gluten Free recipes just don’t cut it for me, it’s either the weird flour smell (garbonzo bean flour), taste or the crumbly texture, so you know this recipe must have checked positive on all of these points.

My first attempt used superfine corn meal (I blitzed it in a coffee grinder a few times) and even though it puffed up as well as the glutenated version it was just too corn mealy (think corn muffin texture even though the corn meal was superfine) the texture wasn’t right at all and so the experimentation began. Perhaps if I had used corn flour instead of meal, it would have been a different story, but I’ll leave that for another time.

GF ChouxPastry_2158

This is the 100% cornmeal version, it’s just too corny, if you’ll pardon the pun.

After some research I decided a pastry made only with cornmeal was not the answer so I went searching for home made gluten free flour recipes so I didn’t have to waste time hunting down a GF flour in the grocery store. Many of them had similar ingredients but I was limited to what I had at home and the volume of each ingredient I had on hand which determined my home-made GF flour recipe; a combination of 6 parts superfine corn meal, 3 parts potato starch and 1 part tapioca flour was the result and I’m rather pleased how it worked out in this recipe. The texture and mouth feel of these choux resemble the texture and mouth feel of the glutenated choux cheese pastries that we know and love! I was so happy because my BFF is gluten intolerant and my brother has chosen to omit gluten from his diet to manage an illness. The last time I asked him if he wanted me to make a gluten free item for him he said it’s just not worth it. He’ll surely change his mind with these.

I tried making these the quick and easy way that my normal food processor choux is made (like this) but did not have as good luck with them, they were not as elastic as a good choux should be, so I reverted to the old fashioned way with the hand mixer and it worked out perfectly.

Gluten Free Cheese Choux Pastry

Makes 25, 4 cm or 1.5 inch puffs

GF ChouxPastry_2162

As the three bears put it, “this one is just right”

Ingredients:

  • 65 mL soda water
  • 30 g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 40 g gluten free flour*
  • 1/4 tsp zanthan gum (see notes)
  • 1/4 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 30 g grated sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200° C/400° F.
  2. Combine the gluten free flour, zanthan gum and gluten free baking powder and stir well.
  3. In a saucepan with high sides, melt the butter into the water with the salt over medium heat. Add the flour mix all at once and cook this mixture until it clears away from the sides of the pan.
  4. Remove from heat. Using a hand held mixer, whip this mixture for about a minute. Add the egg and beat for about 2 minutes, add the cheese and beat the pastry until it is elastic and smooth.
  5. Prepare a baking sheet by measuring a piece of parchment to cover it, soak the parchment in running water and squeeze out excess water. Smooth the wet parchment over the baking sheet. (see notes)
  6. Using a pastry bag with a 2 cm (3/4 inch) nozzle, pipe very small rounds (see note) onto a the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  8. Serve warm or freeze once cooled and reheat in a warm oven at 177° C/350° F for 12-15 minutes from frozen.

*Gluten Free Flour Recipe

Makes about 120 g of flour, enough for 3 batches if these puffs

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp superfine corn meal
  • 3 tbsp potato starch
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch

Directions:

  1. Mix well until combined. Store in an air tight container until required.

Notes:

  • Zanthan Gum is used as a binder in gluten free baking, if you omit it your baking may end up crumbly. It is also used as a thickener but I’ve never tried it that way. It has no perceivable smell or taste. The general consensus is that you add 1 tsp Zanthan Gum to 1 cup GF Flour so that is how I determined how much to add in my recipe.
  • I found that piping about 2 cm or 3/4 inch balls onto the damp parchment and slicing it from the piping tip made the task very quick and quite neat. It also regulated the size of the rounds so that they were more or less equal.
  • I used soda water because I thought it might make an airier pastry, not sure if it helped or not but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
  • Years ago I had read a recipe for choux that the author lightly wets the baking sheet in order to create a humid environment which helped the choux puff up even more. It was so long ago, I don’t know where I read it but my wetting and wringing the parchment is different enough.
GF ChouxPastry_2164

The outside is crisp while the inside is soft and airy like it is supposed to be.

Based on 2 per serving

Based on 2 per serving

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We invited my friend Kim and her hubby for coffee and cake after seeing Cloud Atlas at the TIFF film festival. I was hoping to have a great discussion about the film (and there was a lot to discuss) but unfortunately, they hated the film so instead of prolonging their misery, I served coffee and cake.

I started the recipe and was committed to it when I realized I didn’t have quite enough GF Flour, so I improvised and added the remainder as finely ground corn meal. It added a very nice texture to the cake and no body threw it back at me!

Original recipe can be found here.

A lovely honey and ginger taste, it’s garnished with fresh figs, candied ginger slices, candied walnuts and edible rose petals.

Gluten Free Honey & Ginger Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz liquid honey
  • 6 oz gluten-free flour
  • 2 oz of fine cornmeal (just run regular cornmeal through a coffee grinder to get a fine powder)
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 3 oz of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp orange essence
  • 1/2 tsp lemon essence
  • 4 oz butter
  • 1 egg (the cake was very crumbly, I might add another egg next time)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 oz finely grated fresh ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°C).
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl and add the sugar and zest. Rub the butter in (you can do this in a food processor with plastic blades)
  3. Warm the honey slightly, and beat it with the egg. Mix into the flour mixture.
  4. Mix the baking soda with 3 tbsps of water until dissolved, then process it into the flour mixture.
  5. Stir in the finely minced ginger pour into a greased or lined 8″ square pan.
  6. Bake for about 50 minutes (mine was ready in about 40 minutes). Cool it in the pan for about 10 minutes then turn it onto a cooling rack until cold.

A very tasty but crumbly cake

I garnished the cake with additional warmed honey, fresh figs cut into quarters, honey walnuts, slices of candied ginger and edible rose petals.

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Tomorrow would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday and this is my post to celebrate this amazing woman. Julia is an American food icon who literally taught American’s how to cook. She was one of the early “foodies” before Food Network was even a thought; even before most of the chefs on Food Network were born! She was the first celebrity chef!

My friend Betsy over at Bits and Breadcrumbs suggested that we post a recipe from a Julia Child cook book to commemorate and celebrate her life and I was all over it! Betsy posted a gorgeous Clafouti recipe that’s been her dear Mother’s favourite. I also wanted to post an authentic Julia Child recipe, but unlike Betsy, I don’t have one of her actual cookbooks. Last Christmas JT gave me Dorie Greenspans Baking with Julia, a wonderful cookbook of mainly sweets, breads and such. But I didn’t want to bake something sweet, so I searched and searched until I came across a gorgeous luncheon dish, a savoury galette. I was sold. Thanks Betsy, this was a lot of fun.

For the galette pastry, you can click here for a very similar recipe, or you can check page 371 in Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. I changed up the filling to suit our tastes and what I had in my pantry. It is an incredible crust, crispy and slightly sweet that can withstand even the wettest filling but it’s also not dry and crumbly. The cornmeal in the pastry recipe adds enough crunch to make it a little more interesting that a standard pasty. It’s really just perfect. In fact, so much so, I’ve had a special request to bake it again, believe it or not. 😉

I divided the pastry into two portions so that I could keep one galette and give the other away. Both were resounding successes. You can keep this very simple or make it a bit more complex as I did. You can serve this room temperature or right out of the oven or even reheated, it is amazing every-which way.

Savoury Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Caramelized Onion and Goats Cheese Galette

Serves 4-6, makes 2, 15 cm galettes

The oven roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions really went well with the goats cheese. The pesto was icing on the cake, I mean galette.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Prepare the pastry as indicated in the recipe. It needs to be refrigerated for a couple of hours, so you’ll want to plan ahead.
  2. Roll the galette on a piece of parchment into a circle about 10 cm larger than the size you want it to be. Spread the sweet onion confit on the bottom leaving the last 5 cm all the way around clear. Add a layer of tomatoes and dot with 1/2 of the total goats cheese.
  3. Fold up the edges and pleat or do some other fancy design. I wanted my galette rustic looking.
  4. Bake as the recipe indicate (I did our’s for 30 minutes at 176°C or 350°F) just until the crust was starting to get golden.
  5. Serve hot, warm or even at room temperature garnished with fresh basil and a little basil pesto drizzle.

The basil pesto was a nice touch.

That was one tasty galette. Photo by my friend, neighbour and boss, Kim with her iPhone 4Gs.

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