Rustic Apple Pear Tartlets for Dessert Tonight

10-25-14 014 Apples and pears go together delightfully.  Fall is the perfect time to indulge in baking them into tartlets for company.  I like to make individual tarts sometimes because they make people feel so special when you each get your own tartlet.

Use what ever kind of baking apples you have.  I got mine from an actual apple orchard, Bechdolts to be exact!  I like to buy their small baskets of seconds which are inexpensive and just as fresh as can be especially compared to grocery store apples.  Plus the taste is the same as the fancy unblemished ones in their display baskets.

I used Annalise Robert’s crust recipe and flour mixture. I think this crust tastes terrific and has a wonderful texture.

These are simple tarts: no need to make them perfect looking.  I used a fork to press around the crust in each tartlet before I lay the fruit in it.  I cut out leaves from the leftover crust to make a sort of a top crust.  The mixing of the two fruits gives every bite a different taste and the spices add a delicate flavor. I wanted the fresh fruit flavor to be the highlight so I didn’t use much spicing. The coarse sugar adds a certain eye apple and crunch.  Enjoy!

Rustic Apple Pear Tartlets

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Spray 4 inch metal tart pans or 4 inch mini deep dish pie pans with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour. Set aside.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes.  I used my pie bag for rolling out the crusts; works so great at making an even thin crust.

Cut it into 4 balls and roll out each ball into a small pie crust in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in mini tart pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  Do again until you have 4 shells and use all the crumb leftovers to make a fifth tartlet crust.  I actually do two of them side by side and turn them out onto the tartlet pans together. Repeat for other four shells.  I ended up with five tartlets; the last being in an individual tartlet pan, about 5 inches in diameter.

Filling:

2 medium sized yellow delicious apples

1 large bosc pear

Peel apples, quarter, cut out core, slice into 1/3 inch thick slices. Same for pear except you can leave the peel on if you like.  Or peel!  Mix in a large bowl with:

3 tbsp. granulated sugar (if you like things pretty sweet add another tablespoon of sugar)

1 tbsp. minute tapioca

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

A sprinkle of ground nutmeg.

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Let stand five minutes and then heap the fruit into tartlets.  I mounded mine a bit so they would be still full after baking.  Top with a leaf cut out of the spare crust.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

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Bake 375 for 40-45 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool before serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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Brown Rice Flour Mix– for crust
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Gluten Free, Low Carb Barbecue Feast

It can be a challenge making a party meal for family when I can’t eat gluten.  It got a bit more challenging this weekend when I made a meal for family including my brother. He recently had to go on a low carb diet for medical reasons, he is already slim and exercises a lot.  But, now he has to cut way back on carbs.  So no burgers with buns, no rolls, no big fat birthday cake for my mom. What to make? What kind of cake could we all eat?

I decided to go with this menu: deviled eggs to start, then grilled marinated chicken thighs, my version of doctored baked beans, old school potato salad and a veggie/fruit jello salad followed by a fruity pavlova for dessert.

pavlova

The deviled eggs are always popular; I gave my recipe early this spring for them and no one ever gets tired of them.  I made half with gherkins in them and half plain.  All gone in a matter of minute.

The potato salad is a family tradition; I used my sister Karen’s version because it tastes better than anyone else makes. I knew my mom would be pleased and my brother who probably doesn’t eat such treats except when he visits me.  I used Light Hellman’s Mayonnaise and light sour cream in my creamy dressing on the golden potato slices.  The seasonings are celery seeds, cider vinegar and some dill pickle juice!  I went light on the dressing for the sake of my brother and his wife who doesn’t eat much of any fat.  I added some chopped celery and a touch of chopped onion.  Yumm!

Our family loves the baked beans;  made quick and easy with a can of good quality old fashioned baked beans, Bush’s works perfectly but don’t use Campbells; they are just not as good a bean.  I often use the Giant name brand and they work great.

baked beans

For fun I put my Perfection Jello Salad in a copper lobster mold.  This was for the delight of my 2.8 year old grandson. He knows what a lobster is and loved it when the orange and golden mold was carried out on a large oval platter. My salad is created from lemon jello spiked with a touch of cider vinegar and full of well drained crushed pineapple and shredded carrots.  It was pretty and pretty tasty. I thought someone took a picture of it but no such luck.

pavlova

Dessert was a big pavlova meringue which I have posted the recipe to here recently.  This picture is from Sunday’s meal. I topped mine with slices of ripe kiwi, ripe local peaches and fresh raspberries as I was low on peaches and didn’t have time to run to Bechdolts Orchard for more….  Everyone devoured their slice and it was accorded five stars by my sister-in-law who doesn’t even eat cake normally.  It is fairly low in carbs and you get bites of ripe fresh fruit and tasty real whipped cream on the tender meringue. I put some candles on top and we sang happy birthday in the back yard as the sun set.  Perfect birthday barbecue….

Here is an approximation of my baked bean recipe: I never measure but I will do my best to replicate the proportions.

Mom’s Baked Beans (about 6 servings)

Ingredients:

4 slices of raw bacon cut into ½ inch chunks

One big can Bush’s original baked beans; 32 ounces I think

1 medium onion, chopped

About 1/3 to ½ cup of catsup

1-2 tbsp. yellow mustard

3-4 tbsp. cider vinegar

2-3 tbsp. light brown sugar

Fry the bacon in a large frying pan. I like cast iron best for this recipe but most any pan will do.  Once it is about ¾ done to your liking (4 to 6 minutes) add the chopped onion.  Cook 4-6 minutes until it is softening.  Open the beans and drain off any excess liquid especially any separated thinner liquid. Pour in the pan on top of the onions and bacon.  Dump in the rest of the ingredients and stir well.  Heat to a low bubble, turn down and allow it to cook slowly for 10 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently so the beans don’t stick and burn.  Taste it and adjust by adding more of any of the four condiments. I like it sweet and tart at the same time. I suggest you start with the lower amounts of condiments especially the sugar and vinegar and see how it is after cooking 5 minutes; add more to taste.  It is great warm but equally yummy left over cold for lunch the next day.

I sometimes make it in the dead of winter for a cold weather inside picnic.  Sure you can make the really slow cooked beans in a crock but this is addictively tangy and every member of my family adores it. My mom always made these beans and I finally got brave enough to just dump and create my own version which I must say is remarkably like Mom’s.

All in all it was a pretty good family meal, not too complicated as I could make the jello salad in advance and the meringue the day before. The potato salad and the beans could also be made in advance. You would never guess by the menu that this was a gluten free meal or a low carb one; just good old school yummy-ness on our plates!

Ridiculously Yummy Bacon Cheese Tomato Sandwich

Tomato time is right now.  I love a home grown tomato, sliced with vinaigrette, or with a dab of light mayo on it.  I love them inn a sandwich, a salad, Italian pasta dishes or as the major component of a tomato soup. 

There is a family recipe that is only made in the days of ripe local tomatoes.  It is never ever worth making with a winter or green house tomato.  Old varieties like Brandywine work great but any ripe tomato freshly picked and not chilled ever will work just fine.  Use whatever kind of tomato you like.

 tomato sandwich done

This sandwich is a man pleaser with bacon and cheese in it.  We call it the broiled tomato stacker or the BCT (Bacon Cheese and Tomato) You can call it fabulous and addictive!  It has the triple whammy of bacon, cheddar cheese, and juicy summer tomatoes.  Prepare to dive in and enjoy.

There are only five ingredients. I make it with GF bread but you can use any bread of your choice. Do not use cheap or light cheese; I like Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar but any good sharp cheddar will work.  I never met a bacon lover who didn’t fall instantly for this sandwich.

Angie’s BCT Stacker

This recipe for 2 open face sandwiches as I tend to eat less bread GF and you can really taste the components without that second slice.  If you want a top slice just double the bread. I used slices of zucchini yeast bread I made myself, recipe from Nicole Hunn, who authors the very popular Gluten Free on a Shoestring blog.  It holds together well and has a great yeasty savory flavor.  It is very easy to make and versatile.

Ingredients:

One big fat ripe tomato

2 slices GF bread

2 tsp. light mayonnaise

4 to 6 thin slices of sharp cheddar cheese

2 slices raw bacon cut in half.

Directions:

Fry the bacon until crispy, place on paper towels to drain

Set your broiler to high to heat. 

Use a knife to spread the mayo on the two slices of bread.  If you want a top slice I would leave that one un-spread and broil it briefly to brown one side.  Place the mayo bread slices on a metal broiler sheet. 

Slice your tomato into slices that are about 1/3 inch thick with a serrated knife; not thin slices and cover the entire tops of the bread with it. I often cut a tomato in half or quarters to piece it so every centimeter is covered with juicy ripe tomato.  Top with 2 slices of cheddar cheese, I cut them about ¼ inch thick.  I use 3 slices of cheese if the bread slice is large.  You want coverage over most of the tomato.  It will spread some when it melts. 

tomato sandwich unbroiled

Put the broiler pan in the broiler and broil 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted but not burnt.  Try not to overdo it as the cheese can run right off the tomatoes.   Remove from oven and place on a plate.  Top with the bacon slices.  If you broiled a top slice of bread put it on now.  Eat while hot but don’t burn your mouth on that melty gooey cheese!

tomato sandwich close up 

Yes, this recipe is not for a dieter and I imagine it is full of calories but also maximum flavor.  I make it a lot during tomato season and reason that I never eat it any other time of the year so I don’t worry about the fat or calories I am chowing down in this flavor feast.  Just make one and you will be hooked. I can’t wait to eat one for lunch tomorrow!

Peachy Keen Peach Cobbler

Peaches; peachy keen, peaches and cream, peach ice cream and peach cobbler.  Well, this post will be on peach cobbler and it is is peachy keen!  Still, I often make it with blueberries.  I am guessing most any fruit might work; blackberries, raspberries, cherries, plums, nectarines and apricots come to mind.

peach raspberry cobbler

This recipe is modified from one in Bette Hagman’s book, “More from the Gluten-Free Gourmet” and is based on a flour mix that will give you 4 cups of the dry ingredients for the topping.  One cup of dry mix plus the other ingredients will make an 8×8 pan of cobbler topping.  I bet two cups will make a big 9×13 pan of peach cobbler.

I have made it over a camp fire a few times, delish and not that difficult either.  But that will be a separate post as there are some tricks to campfire baking.

I have tried a number of cobbler recipes but nothing has tasted better than this one so I will stick to what works great for me.  If you use nectarines there is no peeling involved which makes it extra easy to throw together. I need to make a cherry cobbler but cherry season has passed.  Oh well, there are frozen cherries at the grocery store……

Mix this up and store in an airtight container in the freezer.

I always get the fruit cooking before putting the topping together so the fruit is hot and ready for the topping and can go right into the oven.  I used fat ripe peaches I bought at the Saucon Valley Fruit Stand for the first peach cobbler of the season and then some very flavorful ones from Bechdolt’s Farm Stand which made outstanding peachy cobbler.

Dry Cobbler Mix (store in freezer, makes enough for 4 cobblers)

2 ¼ cups white rice flour

½ cup potato starch

½ cup tapioca flour

1 tsp. baking soda

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/3 cup sugar

Cobbler Topping

1 cup dry baking mix

2 eggs

2 tbsp melted butter or canola oil

1/3 cup milk/buttermilk (scant)

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Mix the wet ingredients and then add to the dry mix in a big bowl. Mix very briefly, just until combined.  I suggest adding the last tablespoon of wet stuff only if it seems to need it; better to have it thick than thin in consistency.

Fruit Filling

4 cups sliced ripe peeled peaches, nectarines, blueberries

½ tsp. almond extract

1/3-2/3 cup sugar depending on how sweet you want it

1 tbsp. minute tapioca

2 tbsp. GF flour

1./4 tsp cinnamon

peach cobbler in saucepan

Directions:

Mix the fruit and almond extract in a sauce pan. Stir together the tapioca, sugar, cinnamon and flour and mix into the fruit.  Cook on the stove top, medium heat, for 3-5 minutes until it is thickened and hot.  Pour into a buttered 8 inch square pan, top with big blops of the cobbler topping.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  The top should be light brown and spring back when you poke it with your finger.  If it looks damp or squishy bake it 5 more minutes.

peach cobbler in pan

Let cool 7 or 8 minutes before serving as it will burn your mouth right out of the oven!  Some people love it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Cobbler is perfect just on its own.

Between you and me, I recently made this cobbler with 4 fat peaches and a handful of fancy frozen raspberries as I felt there wasn’t quite enough peach slices. It tasted amazing!  The zing of the raspberries and the ripe peachy flavor mingle with the tender cobbler crust in an incredible blend that must be tasted and enjoyed ASAP! It is great with just ripe August peaches, just made one of those today.

Blueberry Peach Crumb Pie…Delectable!

It is the peak of both peach and blueberry season so this was a perfect pairing for adaptation to a gluten free pie recipe.   The resulting pie was juicy and flavorful down to the last slice.

blueberry peach pie slice

This is an easy pie to create.  Slice and dump together the filling, crumb topping made in mixer bowl you used for bottom crust. You can store any leftover crumb mixture in a sealed container in the fridge; it keeps a few weeks.  This GF crumb topping is perfect for most any fruit pie.  If you prefer a solid crust just double the crust part and top your pie with it.  Be sure to cut some slits for steam escape! I think a lattice crust would be fantastic if a bit more time consuming to construct.

Please make every effort to use local fruit; you can get peaches at most farm stands like Bechdolt’s located below Hellertown on Rt 412, Saucon Valley Fruit Stand on Seidersville Road or at Lehigh Valley Produce on Main Street in Hellertown.  This pie really showcases the blueberries more than the peaches. But store peaches can be poor in quality due to chilled storage of fruit so I strongly suggest you get locally grown, sweet, ripe peaches to make your pie.

To peel; heat 3 inches of plain water, drop the peaches gently in and cook them 1-2 minutes.  Allow to cool somewhat before peeling.  I like to do that over a bowl to catch the juices as I slice each peach.

Bake and enjoy early summer in a pie in just a few minutes of work.  Don’t eat it piping hot; it should be cooled to room temperature or even chilled.  You could certainly serve this with vanilla ice cream.  And this pie works perfectly with fresh nectarines or apricots.  Bonus: no peeling required!

Angie’s GF Blueberry Peach Crumb Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Directions:

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you prepare the filling.

crust

Filling:

2 cups sliced fresh peaches, peeled and cut in thick slices

3 cups fresh blueberries – place in medium bowl

Mix with:

½ cup sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup quick tapioca

Add and stir in

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

blueberry peach pie filling

Let the filling stand while you prepare the crust, important for the tapioca so it does its job optimally.

Roll out pie crust in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  Fill with fruit mixture.

blueberry peach pie unbaked

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form.

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Directions:

Sprinkle the top of the pie with crumb mix; use as much as you like.  I like about a heaping cup of the mixture.  Up to your personal taste… It sinks partially into the fruit mixture and adds lots of sweetness and eye appeal.

blueberry peach pie, done

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45-50 minutes until bubbly and the crumb crust is light brown.  I put a piece of aluminum foil on top for the last ten minutes.  Cool at least 2 to 4 hours before serving at room temperature.  I think it is best served the same day you make it, or no more then 10 hours after baking for optimal flavor.  The crumbs will get soggy if too much time passes.

Note: if you find your bottom crust is not browning enough bake it empty at 375 degrees for ten minutes before filling it with the fruit.  I have a bottom heat pizza oven which gives me perfect pie crust so I don’t ever have pale pie crust.

Brown Rice Flour Mix
2 c brown rice flour (finely ground)

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Terrific and Easy Tomato Soup

Summer is tomato time around here.  I had tomato salad tonight and for lunch I had homemade tomato soup, had it yesterday too.  It is all gone but I am wishing I had another bowl in the fridge for tomorrow.  Last October I made a big batch and froze it in plastic containers, each two servings.  I felt like I was back in a sunny summer day whenever I had it for lunch last winter.  tomato soup

So make some, it is Ina Garten’s recipe simplified a tad.  If you don’t like it creamy leave out the cream or use half and half or whole milk for less calories.  If you are a vegetarian use veggie broth instead of chicken broth.  You can strain it but I prefer it unstrained and chunky. It has a fair amount of garlic which you can reduce as wished.  I cut back on the salt but you can cut it even further as you wish.

Your family will love this soup with a sandwich or salad. It is naturally gluten free.  GF croutons would bring a lovely crunch to it if you have any.

Cream of Tomato Soup

Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red or yellow onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5-6 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves

3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1-2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream/half and half or whole milk

Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it by blending with an immersion blender or run it through your food processor. I use my cute little boat motor blender and leave it chunky just as I love soup to be. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve plain or with julienned basil leaves and/or GF croutons. Enjoy!

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cream-of-fresh-tomato-soup-recipe.

Strawberry Basil Yogurt, a Great Snack

Greek yogurt is the new power dairy snack, favored by teachers, moms, office workers and many others seeking a portable tasty yet healthy snack.  I eat it too.  But sometimes I want a more basic, yet above average, yogurt.  My secret for great yogurt is one brand; Stonyfield Organic.  I buy the large 32 ounce container.  I usually get the plain, one percent low fat yogurt.  Organic milk makes creamy flavorful yogurt, far superior to any made with non-organic milk.  Occasionally I treat myself to Stonyfield’s whole milk yogurt. This is thick, creamy and oh so delicious.  The top layer is like cream yogurt; crazy yummy!  I eat a dish of this yogurt with fresh jam, all that jam that I don’t eat on toast anymore.  I know, whole milk! But sometimes you have to enjoy the best that life can give you and frankly experts say that non-fat yogurt is less healthy than yogurt with some fat.  Go on, live wild and try this fabulous organic yogurt.

Update; 11/21/14: a new article about the dangers of highly sweetened and additive filled yogurts specifically says the best choices are organic whole milk yogurts: http://www.cornucopia.org/yogurt.  I was right on the money with my recommendation of Stonyfields yogurt and my use of homemade jams and granola to flavor it up.  Much better for you and your kids!  Tastier too actually.

strawberry and stonyfield yogurt

You can also enjoy this yogurt with honey drizzled on top.  Sprinkled with my homemade granola it is very healthy, filling, and delightful tasting.

Late this past June I made some strawberry basil jam.  The other day I got the excellent idea to put it on top of my organic yogurt.  It was amazing tasting, the creamy mild yogurt stirred together with that fragrant fruity jam. Oh my goodness, a whole world away from commercially flavored fruit yogurts.

yogurt and strawberry basil jam

So here is my strawberry basil freezer jam recipe.  My friend Josh had purchased some and raved about the flavor.  I decided to make my own.  Well, it is great on toast and extremely yummy on your yogurt! It is not too much basil flavor, the strawberry predominates but you do get a taste of it when ever you encounter a bit of basil leaf.  I actually only made half a jam recipe as that was all the strawberries I had available that day.  I used the liquid Surejell, half the package.

strawberry basil jam 1

Strawberry Basil Freezer Jam 

yield: 5 cups

INGREDIENTS:

about 1 pound of fresh ripe strawberries (2 cups crushed strawberries)

4 cups granulated sugar

one 1.75 ounce package of fruit pectin (I used liquid Sure Jell)

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves, really fine!

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, mash strawberries using a potato masher. Measure out two cups and return to bowl. If there are extras, you can eat those. But you want to pretty exact with this recipe.

To the 2 cups of mashed strawberries, stir in 4 cups of granulated sugar. Mix well to combine and moisten all the sugar and then let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine fruit pectin and 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. When it boils, set a timer for one minute. Continue to stir constantly and then remove from heat when it has boiled for one minute.

Stir pectin and water mixture into the fruit and sugar mixture. Stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is no longer grainy.

Pour mixture into freezer containers with tight fitting lids (jars work great). Let jam stand at room temperature for 8 hours before moving to the fridge or freezer. If you freeze it, thaw it in the fridge when you’re ready to use.