Drop Down MenusCSS Drop Down MenuPure CSS Dropdown Menu

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Chocolate Mousse
 with Lukken Wedges and Chocolate Eiffel Towers.
Vegan Mousse on front left.
Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear  

     Nine of us spoke English with French accents and ate delicious food at the GF French Tea Party Friday afternoon.  Unlike the English and Southern Tea Parties this one had to be served in courses, preparing each course just before serving.  
Salad Nicoise

     The first course was Salad Nicoise.  In the vegetarian version tuna was replaced with marinated mushrooms that I made myself.  One person did not eat tuna or mushrooms so I used grilled yellow squash for them. Capers replaced anchovies on each salad. Anchovies were put in a small dish on the table for those who wanted the real thing. One person has a potato allergy so I used yucca in place of potatoes in that salad as well as in the Challah bread I baked.
Vegetable Crepe with Mushroom Sauce

     The second course was a half of a GF Crepe filled with sautéed vegetables and topped with a dairy-free Mushroom Gravy.  The non-mushroom eater picked out the large pieces of mushroom.  She likes the taste just not the texture.  
Croques Monsieur

     The third course was Croque Monsieur.  The French really know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.  In this heavenly sandwich two pieces of bread are toasted and spread with cheese sauce. (I baked Challah bread to use for this sandwich.) One slice is topped with thin slices of ham and grated gruyere cheese and then the other slice goes on top (cheese spread side down).  Then the sandwich is topped with more cheese sauce and grated gruyere.  The sandwich is heated in the oven and when the cheese melts it goes under the broiler for a minute or two to brown the cheese lightly.  You must eat this with a knife and fork.  In the vegetarian version the ham was replaced with grilled yellow squash or you could use mushrooms or zucchini also.  In the dairy-free version the cheese sauce was made with Daiya Swiss and Go Veggie parmesan cheeses, both diary-free and vegan.  The grated gruyere was replaced with Daiya cheddar and Go Veggie parmesan as these tasted closer to the ‘real’ cheese than the Daiya Swiss cheese did.  Some guests ate dairy-free and vegetarian, some dairy-full and vegetarian and most ate the full throttle version.  I actually used turkey ham instead of pork ham, it tastes the same with less fat and also some people will eat fowl and not meat.  
     Right here I want to digress,  it is amazing to me how many different food allergies and dietary needs and preferences there are.  It is so complicated to accommodate all the special needs.    All my meals are GF and since my son is vegan I know how to make most things without eggs and dairy.  I can make some sugar free desserts using stevia.  Thanks to my son’s short time eating raw I can make raw meals and desserts too.  Most of the time I enjoy the challenge of creating a meal or dessert where the usual ingredients must be changed up, however, I just can not accommodate nut allergies as I live in a nut filled house. 
Broccoli Cheddar Quiches
Note the flags to label Dairy-Free

     For the fourth course we had individual Broccoli Cheddar Quiches and slices of home made GF French Bread topped with Brie Cheese and Pate.  The dairy-free quiches were made with almond milk to replace cream and Daiya gruyere and Go Veggie parmesan to replace the cheeses.  The dairy-free Brie was made with Follow your Heart Vegan Gourmet mozzarella cheese with a shake of Go Veggie parmesan for a little punch.  As a real cheese eater this vegan cheese is one of the few that I really enjoy eating raw and unaltered.  The Pate was vegetarian.  I love liver, but I just thought that most people are not really into it and I love this vegetarian chopped liver recipe almost as much as the real thing.
GF Baguette slices with Brie and Pate.
Photo by Kathy Graves

     The dessert course included some dairy-free and dairy-full items that I have made before: Eclairs, Tart Shells filled with custard (from the eclairs) and topped with berries, and Cardamom Madeleines with Orange Glaze.  The new items were Chocolate Mousse with a Vegan Chocolate Mousse version and Strawberry Basil Scones with a Dairy-Free version. 
Plate laden with one of each dessert.
Photo by Kathy Graves
Strawberry Basil Scones

     One friend, who is also an avid cook and baker, made a delicious raw Chocolate Raspberry Tart and two raw sugar-free Fruit “Ice Creams”.  
Raw Raspberry Tart that my friend made.
Photo by Kathy Graves

     I did not get enough photos of the food and table settings as I was so focused on food preparation and serving.  Some of my other friends took photos and I will give them credit as I post their pics.  A friend who agreed to be a sous chef came a few hours early and she was an invaluable help in food preparation.  
Place setting with Fan and Tiny Tiara Crown hair comb favors.
Photo by Kathy Graves

     I printed the titles of French female nobility on strips of paper and put these in a glass.  As each guest entered they picked their title and we playfully addressed each other as Countess, Duchess, Baroness, Princess, Empress, Viscountess and Queen.  I, of course, had the undisputed title of Queen.  Each place setting included a Fan and a hair comb Crown as favors.  The menu was printed out and placed on each plate.  Everyone enjoyed looking at the menu in anticipation of the next course that was to be served.  We get very silly and laugh a lot.  I kept speaking English with a French accent through the next day as I ate leftovers.
Photo by Kathy Graves

     Over the next few weeks I will be posting all the new FrenchTea Party recipes.
Table all set.
Photo by Kathy Graves

Monday, July 15, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     Yay!  Another great way to use an over ripe banana.  A break in the unbearably hot and humid weather and I turned on the oven again.  I love to bake.  When I am in the kitchen thinking of what to make my creative juices are flowing and I am so happily focused in a semi-meditative state.   I’ve been planning for another Tea Party....this time a French one and have been thinking up the menu and looking for unique scone recipes.  I saw a recipe for Banana Scones and I had an over ripe banana.  (By the way, I will be making Strawberry Basil scones for the French Tea Party.)  I decided to take my recipe for Lavender Scones from my English Tea Party post and change it up into a banana scone.  The Banana Scones came out moist, delicious and are so easy and fast to make. 
     I mashed up the banana and then added cream to the measuring cup to equal the 2/3 cup total liquid that the recipe calls for.  I added some cinnamon too since I love it in banana bread.  I forgot how sweet ripe bananas are and the scones were a tad too sweet so I reduced the sugar by 1 Tbs. in the recipe.  I think these would taste great with chopped walnuts mixed in and/or with some chocolate chips.
     There was a photo of a brown butter glazed banana scone online.  I could not help myself, I had to try at least one scone with this glaze, so I made a small amount of glaze and had one.  I have a thing for brown butter so I think it improves everything and I loved it.  The banana scones really do not need a glaze as they are quite delectable unadorned.  However, if you also have an uncontrollable urge for Brown Butter Glaze see my recipe on a previous post and drizzle some over the scones.

Makes 8 large triangle shaped scones.


1 1/4 cups Sorghum Flour
1/4 cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup Chickpea Flour
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 cup Sugar (I used evaporated cane juice crystals.) For Vegans be sure that the sugar is vegetarian**(see note).
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 Ripe Banana* (see note below) mashed
2 Tbs. (approx. -see directions) Cream - For Dairy-Free or Vegan use non-dairy creamer such as Soy Delicious Coconut or Soy.
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract - for Dairy-Free or Vegan you can use Lorann Butter Vanilla for a buttery taste if you like.
5 Tbs. Cold Unsalted Butter or for Dairy-Free or Vegan use non-dairy/vegan Margarine such as Earthbalance Buttery Sticks.  Cut the butter/margarine into 1/2 tbs. sized pieces.

  1.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2.   Add the flours, xanthan gum, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder to a large bowl or to the bowl of a food processor.  Mix well.
    Dry ingredients on left and wet ones on the right.
  3.   Add the cold butter/margarine pieces to the flour mixture.  If using a food processor pulse the butter/margarine in until the mixture resembles wet sand then pour out the mixture into a large bowl.  If doing by hand cut the butter/margarine in to the flour mixture until they are the size of very tiny beads. 
    Flour mixture with cold pieces of butter in the food processor.
    Flour and butter after pulsing several times in the food processor.
  4.   In a large (at least 2 cup) measuring cup mash the banana.  Add cream/non-dairy creamer until there is a total of 2/3 cups of banana/cream mixture.
    Mashing the banana in a measuring cup. 
  5.   Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture in the large bowl and stir together with a fork until just mixed.  Do not over mix or the scones will be heavy and dense.
    Wet ingredients added to the dry ones in a large bowl.
    Dough just mixed together.
  6.   Scoop out the dough onto the parchment paper.  With wet hands gather the dough into a circle and smooth the top.
    Dough scooped out an shaped into a circle.
  7.   Cut the circle into 8 wedges with a sharp knife.
    Cut scones spread apart on the parchement lined baking sheet.
  8.   Separate the wedges until they are about 2 inches apart.
  9.   Let the scones rest for 15 minutes.  If you like, you may brush the tops with egg wash or oil for a shinny top.
  10. Bake scones for 12-15 minutes or until lightly brown.  Baking time will vary according to your oven and how thick you make the scones.
    Baked scones cooling on a rack.
  11. Serve warm.  Warm up any left over scones if serving the next day or so.  You can freeze the fresh scones and reheat for later use.  
    A peek at the inside of the scone.

*About ripe bananas:  If the banana skin is black and the inside is soft and oozing a bit of liquid this is over ripe and great for baking.  If the skin in yellow, with or without spots, the banana may not be sweet and flavorful enough for really great tasting baked goods.  You can improve the flavor and taste of yellow skinned bananas by roasting them in their skins in a 375 degree oven for 10-20 minutes, turn them over and roast another 10-20 minutes (the riper the banana the less time it will need to roast).  Let them cool and use them in your recipes.  Green skinned bananas will never be sweet enough for baking until you let them ripen to at least the yellow stage and then you can roast them.

**About Vegetarian SugarMany people ask what makes a sugar vegetarian. Sugar itself is vegetarian. Some of the refined white sugars (and even brown sugars) produced from sugar cane are put through a process that involves passing the sugar through charred animal bones in order to make the product very white.  After going through this process sugar is no longer suitable for vegetarians. Unrefined sugars, evaporated cane juice, sucanat, organic sugars and many others are vegetarian as they do not go through this process.  Not all white sugar is processed through animal bones, beet sugar is never processed this way. Whole Foods sells some white sugar labeled "Vegetarian".  To verify if your sugar is vegetarian, you may need to do an internet search or call the company and ask.
Unglazed scones ready to eat.  Yum!      

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     No it is not deja vu all over again.  These cookies are not the same as last weeks post they just look like their identical twin.  This week I made Pizzelles (pronounced: Pete's-sell-lays), wonderful anise flavored Italian waffle cookies.  Last week I posted a recipe for Lukken, the buttery Belgian waffle cookie.  Both cookies are made with a cookie waffle iron.  Both are soft when hot and hard and crisp when cooled.  When hot both these cookies can be shaped into cone, tubular or cup forms.  Pizzelle (Pete's-sell) are lighter than the Lukken and the batter is thick, soft and easy to scoop out.  The Lukken dough is chilled for a few hours and made into firm balls before cooking on the waffle iron. 
     We are having a hot spell here, about 90 degrees and very humid.  Not the weather when I want to turn on the oven.  Baking cookies in the special Pizzelle waffle iron is a good alternative to oven baking.  Plus the cookies can be made into delicious bowls or cones to enjoy a cool treat like ice cream or, as they do in Scandinavia, whipped cream with lingonberry jam mixed in.  
     When cooking the Pizzelles in the special waffle maker be sure to lock the lid.  There is moisture in the dough that steams out when cooking and it also made the lid on my machine push up as if someone was trying to get out.  On my machine it took 40 seconds to cook.  It will be necessary to experiment with one or two cookies to get the right timing for your machine.  I used a scoop that measures 1 1/2-inches and scooped out heaping scoopfuls of batter.  Each scoop of dough weighted 7/8 ounce.  A flat scoopful of dough did not fill the whole circle form and the rounded scoop sometimes would overfill the form.  Not sure of the secret to the perfect amount of dough to use.  I used a kitchen shears to trim the ones with excess dough.
     I have one of the new Pizzelle makers that are non-stick coated so no greasing was necessary.  If using a maker that is not coated it is a good idea to use oil, spray, or butter on the waffle iron forms before placing the dough inside.
    I found that placing the dough just to the back of the center of each circle filled the form more evenly.  When the lid is closed it pushes dough forward as it presses down and closes.  The back of the form will not fill completely if you place a scoop of dough exactly in the center. 
     I found that if I used too much dough, and did not cook the cookies longer to compensate for the thicker cookie, the Pizzelles stayed a bit soft and did not get crisp like the thinner cookies.  I prefer the thinner crisp texture so I used the rounded scoop.
     I never made them before and looked for a recipe online.  There is some controversy about using baking powder as it will make them rise too much and affect the texture.  I used a recipe with no baking powder and converted it into a gluten free one.  The recipe was posted by Brown Eyed Baker on her blog.  
     There was also some discussion about the amount of anise to use and what type of flavoring.  I used anise extract as I had it on hand from an attempt at making licorice candy.  I used the amount directed in the recipe and then, after the first cookies did not have a strong enough anise flavor, I used another tsp. of flavoring.  The anise flavor was still very subtle.  Some comments online suggested using 2 1/2 tsp. of ground anise seeds in addition to the anise extract to give a stronger anise flavor.  Another comment suggested using anise oil or Sambuco (an anise-flavored liqueur) instead of extract. I did not have any of these on hand, but would try these next time as I would have liked a stronger anise flavor.  Of course, if anise is not to your liking just use all vanilla extract or add some almond extract with the vanilla.

Makes about 20 cookies

3 Large Eggs
1/2 cup-1 stick Unsalted butter-melted OR a vegetable oil such as canola OR olive or margarine-melted.
3/4 cups Sugar (I used evaporated cane juice crystals)
pinch Sea Salt
1 tsp. Anise extract (or to taste)
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 cup Sorghum Flour
1/2 cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup Chickpea Flour
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum

  1. Beat eggs on medium speed until pale and thick.
  2. Add the melted butter (margarine or oil) and mix until well combined.
  3. Add the sugar and mix well.
  4. Add the extracts and blend in well.
  5. In a separate bowl add the flours, salt, and xanthan gum and mix well with a whisk or fork. 
  6. Add the flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the egg mixture mixing after each addition until well incorporated.  
    Dough all finished.
  7. Preheat the Pizzelle iron.
    Heaping scoopful of batter.
  8. Add batter by the heaping tablespoon or 1 1/2-inch scoop  (about 7/8 ounce) to each circle on the iron.  Close the lid and lock securely.
    Note the steam coming out of the machine as the Pizzelles cook.
  9. Cook until lightly golden, about 40 seconds on my machine.  You will need to try one or two on your machine to get the right timing.
    This is Lukken dough (the photo of the Pizzelle dough did not come out) placed to the rear of center.
    Pizzelles all done.
  10. Remove the Pizzelle with tongs on let cool on a flat rack.  If you want to make shapes such as tubes, bowls or cones you must shape the hot cookies on the forms or in the bowls.  When cool remove the cookies form the forms or bowls and they will keep their shape.
    Hot and soft cookies removed with wooden tongs
     (again this is a photo of Lukken...I forgot to take a photo of removing the Pizzelles.).
  11. Store cookies in airtight containers for several weeks.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Posted by Bryna Bear aka Gluten Free Baking Bear

     I got a Pizzelle maker for my birthday.  A Pizzelle is a light and crisp Italian cookie often flavored with anise.  I will make those soon.  Now it is hot here and I was imagining a GF waffle cone with ice cream.  There are never GF cones at ice cream stores so I always get my treats in a paper cup.  Never having made either Pizzelles or crispy waffles for cones I did not know what recipe would work for a cone.  I went surfing online and found this recipe, by Terese Allen, for Belgian ‘Good Year’ Cookies on the Organic Valley website.  Good Year cookies or Lukken are crisp Belgian waffle cookies made with butter.  The comments stated that they tasted very similar to those Jules Desptrooper Butter Crisp cookies that you can buy in stores. I can still remember how good those cookies tasted and decided to convert that recipe into a gluten free one.
This recipe tastes similar to these butter cookies.

     I found that weighing out the dough into 1 ounce balls worked well in the pizzelle maker.  The cookies cook in about 30 seconds, so use a timer.  My first few cooked for a minute and were way too brown, yet not burned and still quite tasty.  It is important to place the ball of dough to the rear of the center of each pizzelle plate mold as the dough is pressed forward by closing the lid and dough will come out the front and sides if you start in the exact center of each mold (guess how I know this...).  While the cookies are hot they are soft and pliable and when cool they are hard and crisp.  They must be shaped while still hot.  I tried to make a cone shape, but was not able to do this successfully.  I may need to get a special cone shaped form to do this well.  I made bowls by placing the hot cookie inside a small bowl.  After it was cool the cookie bowl kept its shape.  I plan to have ice cream in the bowls.   
     You can use a Lukken maker or a Pizzelle maker.  I just happened to have a Pizzelle maker and I like the pretty patterns it makes.  Lukken makers have a plain waffle pattern.  Both types of cookie makers sell online for about $50-$60.
The Pizzelle maker.

The inside of the Pizzelle maker with pretty patterns.

     The type of butter you use will affect the outcome of the cookies.  Be sure to use a really good tasting butter.  I used Organic Valley unsalted butter which tastes wonderful.   European style butters will also work well.  

Makes about 22 cookies.


1 stick (1/4 lb.) Unsalted Butter - use a good quality butter (I used Organic Valley)
7 Tbs. Sugar (I used evaporated cane juice crystals.)
1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar (I used organic brown sugar.)
2 large Eggs
1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
pinch Sea Salt
1 cup Sorghum Flour
1/2 cup Tapioca Flour
1/4 cup Chickpea Flour
1/2 tsp. Xanthan or Guar Gum

  1. In a small bowl add flours, salt and xanthan gum and mix well with a whisk.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl cream butter and sugars together until well blended.  
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix together well.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture until well incorporated.  The dough should be stiff.
    The stiff dough ready to go into the refrigerator.
  5. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
  6. Form dough into balls the size of walnuts.  I used a scale to weigh out 1 ounce pieces of dough and rolled them into balls.
    1 ounce balls of dough ready for placing in the cookie maker.
  7. Heat up the cookie maker.  On the Pizzelle maker there is an indicator light that goes off when the cookie iron is hot enough.
  8. Place a ball of dough just to the back of the center of each circle plate of the cookie maker.  Close the top until it locks.
    Please note that the balls of dough are placed just behind the center of the circle.
  9. Cook until lightly golden, 30 seconds on my machine.  The time will vary according to how cold and dense the dough is and how hot the machine gets.
  10. Remove the hot cookies with tongs.  I had wooden tongs for toast that worked well. Place the hot cookies on a flat rack to cool.  The cookies are soft when hot and will be hard and crisp when cooled.
    Cookies in front cooling on a rack.  The pile in back are already cool.
    Removing the cookies with wooden tongs.
  11. You can place hot cookies into a small bowl to make edible waffle bowls.
    Hot cookie placed in a bowl to form a cookie bowl.
    When cool the bowl will keep its shape.
  12. Store cookies in an airtight container.  You can freeze the cookies also, for later use.