I’m writing a really short post, so that I can get this chocolate bread French toast recipe posted in time for Mother’s Day. In the midst of changing my WordPress.com website to WordPress.org, I’m finding out that teaching myself website technology is more difficult and time consuming than I imagined it would be (and I imagined it would be fairly difficult). As a result of my learning curve, I decided a shorter Mother’s Day post would be better than none at all. When you taste this chocolate bread French toast, you will surely agree that the recipe needs to be made available to people everywhere who love their mothers (or the mothers of their children) who eat gluten-free, and who would love to be served a very special breakfast on a day set aside to honor mothers. I have to make two important points, however, about this recipe. The first is that it is not a recipe for those who suffer from fear of cholesterol, fat, sugar, and rich foods in general. Trust me. Unless you have a true allergy to one or more of the ingredients, use full fat milk, real eggs, and true butter. You will be a joyful person if you do, which leads me to the second point; prepared with the suggested ingredients, this delectably rich, chocolatey, dripping with caramelized honey gluten-free French toast is a perfect diet food. Yes, I’m serious. Once you eat this for breakfast or brunch, you will easily pass the rest of the day without wanting to eat again! See? One meal in the morning, and you are set for the day! The best part of preparing this gluten-free French toast for your mom is that she will feel indulged and special, for sure. Continue reading
Bread Series, #1:
Today’s scripture reading is apropos to my intent to write my first post, in a series, on baking gluten-free bread. These Biblical scriptures don’t resonate with everyone, for sure, but the significance of bread in relation to sustaining life, both physical and spiritual, is something to which most people can relate. Michael Pollan points out, in the Air episode of his documentary Cooked, that a person who has nothing else but flour and water can live for quite a while by combining them to make bread. In many cultures, people still make their bread from scratch every day, and bread is featured in every one of their meals. In these cultures, the art of bread-making is passed down through the generations: children part-take in the daily task of making bread for the family. These families enjoy delicious breads made with wholesome ingredients, as a major dietary stable
In the Western world, even though fewer people make their bread from scratch every day, and despite an increasing unpopularity of simple carbohydrates, bread is a major component of meals. Restaurants serve bread before meals. Biscuits, cornbread, and tortillas are major components of every day meals, and yeast rolls are a regular feature of holiday and other special event meals. People literally break bread together at meals, reinforcing Michael Pollan’s point that bread is communal. As Pollan points out in his documentary, bread requires a community effort, for it is a division of labor, from the planting and harvesting of wheat to the mixing of the dough and the baking of the bread. No doubt, from its central role in religious ceremonies to its presence on the dinner table, the production, baking, and eating of bread helps to form a community of people. A striking intangible beauty of multi-faceted human relationships arises from the formation of this bread-sharing community: a beauty that mostly goes unnoticed by people who are immersed in its culture. The existence of the community formed by the sharing of bread, however, becomes starkly visible to those people who suddenly find that the very strength of the bread, gluten, seriously threatens their health. Not only can they no longer enjoy the simple pleasure of bread, they find themselves marginalized from certain elements of society. Continue reading
Mexican Chocolate Filled Vanilla Bean Mesquite Ravioli With Caramel Sauce
I recently taught a gluten-free pasta-making class , in which one of the attendees recounted her growing up years, when she and her siblings gathered fallen mesquite pods from the ground to be given to a Hill Country rancher who used them to feed his livestock. For most of its existence in Texas, however, the tenacious mesquite tree has been the bane of Texas ranchers and farmers. The mesquite tree spreads like a weed, absorbs much of the water from the ground in which it grows, and causes other vegetation to die. Long before this hearty tree gained its bad reputation, the mesquite tree was valued as a important food source among ancient peoples in South America, Mexico, and the Southwestern region of the United States. As I explained in past post about mesquite flour, these people used the dried, ground mesquite pods and beans for drinks, as well as for breads, tortillas, and porridge. Continue reading
Another January arrives; another Christmas now lives on in memory and hearts, only. Christmas time is truly the best time of the year. The weather, though not exactly frigid, is less harshly hot. Houses and lawns sparkle with brightly colored lawn decoration and lights. Selections from Handel’s Messiah flow through the air in random places. My favorite Bible verses from the books of Isaiah and St Luke are highlighted in the liturgical readings of Advent. I can finally watch the original The Bishop’s Wife (1947), the original Christmas in Connecticut (1945), the original Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Scrooged (1988), A Christmas Story (1983), and Elf (2003) openly without comment from family and friends. Limited edition Christmas products show up on store shelves, and we indulge in delicious, favorite foods we cook, bake, and eat only during this most glorious of seasons.
This year, we added a new treat to our canon of Christmas comestibles: gluten-free cookie coated peppermint truffles. For years I’ve made truffles by hand, but only at Christmas time. I used a fairly easy truffle recipe, rather unsophisticated but easy enough for Jacob, Christopher, and Elizabeth to help with the making and rolling when they were younger. Over the past year, however, I have devoured and re-devoured a used copy of Alice Medrich’s combination memoir and cookbook Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate (2003). Inspired by Medrich’s work to create classic ganache truffles, I decided to use her technique and recipe to make some classic truffles for Christmas. Beginning in November, I made a couple of practice batches. I wanted to know what I was doing, come Christmas time. For my first attempt at truffle-making, I made a dark chocolate cognac ganache, which I coated in dark chocolate, then rolled in pumpkin pie spice. These turned out pretty well, actually; the centers were velvety and the flavor combination was scrumptious . Continue reading
Starting today, to make room for the new size muffin mixes, all current ATX Ultra Eats gluten-free, grain-free muffin mixes are 50% off, with free shipping. See the individual muffin mix flavors at atxultraeats.com for details. What can be better than a sale, unless it’s a sell on delicious, minimally-processed gluten-free, grain-free muffin mixes??
I just updated this post from two years ago, to reflect the improvements I’ve made in making gluten-free pie crust dough. I demonstrated the way to make this pastry leaf decorated chocolate coffee liqueur pecan pie in the gluten-free pastry class I taught this past week, through Kitchen Underground. The ladies who attended the class were delightful! I enjoyed visiting with them while we discussed various gluten-free flours, methods for mixing pastry dough, and other such topics. I also prepared a pumpkin pie spice almond pear tart for the class; I will post the recipe for that delicious seasonal pastry soon.
SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells. . . .
(John Keats, from “To Autumn”)
’Neath the autumn rays,
Now the springtide sowing,
All its fruit displays;
Every hill rejoices,
Fields with gladness ring,
Lifting up their voices,
Now the valleys sing,
Lifting up their voices,
Now the valleys sing.
In the dark earth sleeping,
Long the seed hath lain;
Joyful now the reaping,
Fair the garnered grain.
As the gold we…
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August in Texas is hot. Just plain hot. At times when I run and see the
brown, dead or dying grass, parched plants, and cracked earth, I think of the words the narrator in Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Comes” imagines spoken by Nature:
No! penury, inertness and grimace,
In the strange sort, were the land’s portion. “See
Or shut your eyes,” said Nature peevishly,
“It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:
’T is the Last Judgment’s fire must cure this place,
Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free.”
Without trying to minimize the tone of despair expressed by the unnamed narrator in Browning’s poem, I do feel a sort of despair at the over-whelming energy, life-sapping heat of August. To get ourselves through the often steamy, always sweltering days of August, Phillip and I plan an October race somewhere in a cooler region outside of Texas. We plan this yearly October trip for two reasons: October is our anniversary month, so our fall race in a less taxing climate doubles as our anniversary celebration, and planning for the autumn trip and race throughout the summer adds purpose to the miserable runs we must endure throughout the scorching summer months. This year, on October 18th, Phillip and I will be in Bar Harbor, ME, running the Mount Desert Island Marathon. Whoo-hoo! The date is quickly approaching! Relief from the heat is in sight! We will feel very sad for our friends and family in Texas, who will still be suffering temperatures in the 90s as we are enjoying a much cooler climate in beautifulMaine!
In the meantime, Phillip and I are ramping up our miles and the distance of our runs. Continue reading
I recently ate lunch at an authentic Afghani restaurant. This
particular day I actually ordered dessert, which I rarely do; however, I could not resist the one gluten-free dessert on the menu, which was rose ice cream topped with frozen rice noodles and a sprinkling of finely chopped pistachios. The rose flavor in the ice cream was perfectly balanced. It was barely there, yet very present: noticeable but not over-powering. While enjoying this simple, yet elegant, dessert, I remembered why I love to use floral flavors in my baking from time to time. Floral notes in a food take that food beyond the tangible use of the senses to the realm of the transcendent. Dishes with a hint of such floral flavors as lavender or rose actually feel luxurious. Who doesn’t like to feel spoiled and pampered by eating something that tastes exquisite as well as delicious? Continue reading
My oldest son, one of our children who cannot eat gluten, recently sent (via text message, naturally) a special request. He discovered Perugina Dark Chocolate Limoncello candy bars, a flavor combination he thinks sounds pretty delicious. The candy bar’s ingredients, however, are as follows: sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, natural flavors (wheat), sunflower lecithin, artificial flavor. Could I, he wondered, come up with some dark chocolate, limoncello treat that is also gluten-free? Perhaps cheesecake, he added? Those proverbial wheels started spinning in my mind and I drew from various cheesecake recipes I’ve made in the past to come up with the dark chocolate limoncello cheesecake I made for his birthday this month. Continue reading
This past weekend, my son gifted me with some Japanese matcha that he bought on a recent business trip to Japan. I’ve long been interested in using matcha in smoothies, cooking, and baking; with this gift I have no more reason to put off experimenting with it. Matcha, green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder, is a popular superfood. Although it has ceremonial, religious value in Japan, people in general value it because it is an antioxidant that also contains vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium. Additionally, matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid that naturally occurs in tea plants. This amino acid has a dual calming and energizing effect on people who ingest the tea.
Matcha differs from conventional green tea in that farmers deprive the tea plants of light by covering them the last three weeks or so before the leaves are harvested. The light deprivation causes the plants to grow larger, thinner, more flavorful leaves. At harvest time, the leaves of the tea plants are hand-picked; only the youngest leaves are chosen to be dried and ground into matcha. The care taken to grow and harvest the best quality matcha is reflected in this product’s high price. Continue reading