Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Berry Tart

Summer Berry Tart

One of my fondest memories growing up was visiting my grandparents in Hoboken, New Jersey. Opening their gate to their brownstone, into their arms made the trip from either North Jersey or Pennsylvania worth it. My grandfather used to walk us around Hoboken, introducing us to every person he knew - from the local policeman to the barkeep to the yuppies that just moved in down the block (this was the 80's mind you.) Because of them, I learned that Italian food didn't come from a jar of Ragu, but from an amazing man named Leo, the proprietor of Leo's Grandevous. Leo introduced my brother and I all sorts of Italian specialities. To this day, we still talk about my brother happily munching on scungilli fra diavolo before the age of 10. Leo always made sure my Shirley Temple glass was full of cherries and that there was more to Italian cooking than chicken parmigiana. Plus, I remember I was never allowed to sit at the bar with my brother and grandfather - I always sat at a bar table with my grandmother. I was told that it was improper for ladies to sit at the bar!

For breakfast, my grandmother used to let my brother and I go down the block and purchase fresh crusty kaiser-type rolls for everyone from Miguel. Miguel was the proprietor of the bodega on the corner. Miguel's bodega was housed in a former pharmacy - he had beautiful stained glass windows that said "drugs" that he never changed. No matter what time of day or night, Miguel was there - we never saw anyone else working there!

But the best part was dessert. My grandparents would always purchase Neapolitan ice cream - they would always split the chocolate and vanilla and my brother and I would end up with the strawberry. When the family would get together for the holidays, my grandmother would go out to Cosmo's Bakery on 9th & Washington, to purchase a Beehive cake. A Beehive cake is a honey praline cake with a custard filling. As best as I can recall, the only person who liked the Beehive cake was my grandfather! After my grandfather passed away, my grandmother stopped buying Beehive cakes, and began buying fruit tarts. Part of the reason of the change of pastry was because of the perceived healthiness of the fruit tart and the fact that my grandmother realized that no one really liked Beehive cake. Cosmo's sold these big, beautiful fruit tarts. The fruit was so sweet and juicy sitting there in a buttery crust. It was the first time I ever had kiwi!

Fast forward to the present. The wee one started becoming obsessed with berries - strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and especially blueberries. We ended up buying a huge container of Jersey Fresh blueberries from Costco. When we got it home, we realized there was no chance in hell that we would be finishing them raw. So, we baked. The first thing I made were Maureen's Blueberry Muffins. I still had lots more blueberries. So, I looked at Simply Recipe's Berry Tart. With some adaptations, I made it a fantastic gluten-free treat!

Summer Berry Tart adapted from Simply Recipes

Tart Crust Ingredients

  • 1 cup Domata Living Flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 4-6 Tbsp ice cold water

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz) mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 cup of vanilla sugar
  • 4 cups of assorted berries
  • simple syrup


  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, almond flour, salt and the sugars, pulse to mix;
  2. Add butter one pat at a time and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal;
  3. Dilute the almond extract to 4 Tbsp of ice water, then add the almond water to the flour and pulse to incorporate;
  4. Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until the dough begins to come together;
  5. Remove the dough from the food processor;
  6. Form into a ball onto a lightly floured surface;
  7. Shape the dough into a disc, approximately 5-inches wide. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour;
  8. After the dough's been chilled, remove the disc from the refrigerator;
  9. Let acclimate at room temperature for 5-10 minutes;
  10. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk and roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick;
  11. Carefully place dough into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom;
  12. Gently press dough into pan - making sure that the sides and bottom have even thickness;
  13. Put tart pan in the freezer for 30 minutes;
  14. Preheat oven to 375°F;
  15. After 30 minutes, take tart pan out of freezer and poke the bottom in several places with a fork;
  16. Line with the crust with aluminum foil, with enough extra foil off the two of the sides to use for lifting the pie weights out later;
  17. Fill with pie weights - beans, ceramic or stainless pie weights;
  18. Put the tart shell in the oven on the middle rack (make sure you have a baking sheet below the tart shell for drippings);
  19. Bake for 20 minutes;
  20. Remove from oven and remove the pie weights;
  21. Return the tart pan to the oven for 10-15 more minutes - bake until lightly golden.
  22. Remove from oven and let cool completely;
  23. In a medium bowl, beat together the mascarpone, cream, and sugar at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute;
  24. Scoop mixture into tart crust, and spread so that it is level. Do not fill to the top of the shell - leave room for the fruit;
  25. Put berries into a bowl and pour some of your simple syrup over them;
  26. Use a large rubber spatula to gently mix the berries so they are all well coated;
  27. Use a slotted spoon to lift up the berries from their bowl and place on the mascarpone cream;
  28. Remove the rim of the tart pan before serving.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Lake Michigan Whoppers

Lake Michigan Whoppers, originally uploaded by gfshaolin.

The other day, my friend Michelle at Taste As You Go, blogged about a recipe for a flourless cookie called Montana Whoppers. They are based on a recipe from Nancy Schulze, the wife of former Congressman Richard Schultze from Pennsylvania that was published in the 12th Edition of the Congressional Club Cookbook.

I tweaked Michelle's & Nancy's recipes a little bit. I used Bob's Red Mill's Certified Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, subbed dark chocolate for the M&M's Minis and added much more chocolate. And my husband LOVED them.

If you are are planning to make them, make sure you use the biggest bowl possible to mix in. Michelle gave us that tip - this makes A LOT of dough. And the name? Well, they cookies are now somewhere between Montana and New


  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
  • 3, eggs beaten
  • 5 1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Certified Gluten Free Rolled Oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 bar of baking white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup of dark chocolate chips


  1. Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat;
  2. Once the butter has melted, pour it into the largest bowl you can find;
  3. With a large wooden spoon, blend in the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and peanut butter;
  4. When the temperature of the mixture has dropped enough so it won't cook the beaten eggs, add the eggs and stir until the batter is just mixed - you can put the bowl in an ice bath to speed up the cooling process;
  5. Then, stir in the baking soda, the white chocolate, the milk chocolate, and the dark chocolate;
  6. Add the oatmeal, one cup at a time, stirring after each addition;
  7. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours;
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F;
  9. Drop dough on parchment-lined baking sheets with a large spoon, making sure the dough is fairly well packed and flattened a bit;
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Buffalo-Style Poutine

Poutine...the final product
One of my fondest memories of going to college at Montclair State University in New Jersey was stopping at the Six Brothers Diner in Little Falls after a party or a night at the bars. One of the items that we always ordered were Disco Fries....steak fries smothered in beef gravy and mozzarella cheese. Up until going gluten-free, I occasionally tried to order Disco Fries at our local diners here on Staten Island - they never made it like Six Brothers, though. On our honeymoon in Quebec (Mont Tremblant to be exact), we were introduced to the French-Canadian version of Disco Fries...poutine. Poutine is fries smothered in chicken/turkey gravy with cheese curds. Different, but very similar. We ordered poutine based on a suggestion by one of our waiters when we asked for "traditional" Canadian/French-Canadian food. (We were also told to eat at Tim Hortons - which is now open in New York City - for authentic Canadian food.)

When I was shopping at Wegmans in New Jersey for our provisions for the fourth of July, I came across these cheese curds from Yancey's I bought them. They did have a variety of flavors, but the buffalo cheddar called my name. (This was probably because I had a craving for Ant's Buffalo Wings)

Yancey's Fancy Buffalo Wing Cheddar Cheese Curds for poutine

When I brought our food home from Wegmans, Ant questioned why I would buy cheese curds. I told him that I thought that these may be fun to snack on. Then he reminded me that the one and only time that we've had cheese curds was when we had poutine....

At that point I knew, I had to make poutine or disco fries or a hybrid of both.

Buffalo-Style Poutine


  • 1 bag of frozen steak fries (Our mandolin broke, and I didn't have the time to cut up fresh potatoes)
  • 1 container of cheese curds
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 1/4 cup of sweet rice flour (if not GF, use all purpose)
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • shredded mozzarella
  • salt
  • pepper
  • blue cheese dressing


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Make fries according to instructions on the bag. If you are making fries from scratch, this is a great instructional video from Bon Appetit.
  3. Place the cooked fries in an oven safe dish and season to taste;
  4. Mix the container of cheese curds with the fries;
Curds & Fries for Poutine

5. Now, it's time to make the roux - melt the butter in a pan at medium-low heat;

6. Once the butter has melted, slowly mix in the flour with a wooden spoon until it becomes thick, paste-like;

7. Keep stirring the roux. The roux is ready to use when it becomes a light brown color. The darker the roux, the more flavorful it becomes. Once the roux reaches a burgundy color, the roux is burnt;

8. Once you get your roux to your desired color/flavor, slowly wisk in your beef stock

Gravy for Poutine
9. While wisking, lower the heat to a simmer until all of the roux has been absorbed;
10. Season gravy to taste;
11. Pour gravy over steak fries and curds;
12. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and place in the oven till all cheese has melted;
13. Serve with blue cheese dressing as a dip!

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Starbucks FAIL

Well, Starbucks just lost my family as customers. They stopped carrying the Gluten Free Orange Valencia Cake. According to Starbucks on Twitter, they stopped carrying it because it was too much of a treat and not healthy enough, so they replaced it with KIND bars. Yep. They replaced a cake with a granola bar. I guess the gluteny chocolate pound cake and the double iced mocha frappachinos are healthy.

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Wordless Wednesdays

Festa Italiana 2009, originally uploaded by gfshaolin.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Betty Crocker, Kicked Up A Notch

Yes, I got sucked into the whole hysteria about the new gluten-free Betty Crocker Mixes, who wouldn't? The problem with the gluten-free pastry mixes is that they don't taste like homemade or at least the gluten mix from a box. So, you have to doctor it.

I purchased a box of the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Devil's Food Cake mix from the Walbaum's near my school and I kept forgetting to bring it home, until the other day. So, not only did I bring it home, I doctored it up with a few items from my fridge and pantry. And it tasted amazing. Somewhere between a decadent cake or a brownie. Super moist and loved by my gluten eating family.


  • Betty Crocker GF Cake Mix in Devil's Food;
  • 1 cup of Water
  • 1 stick of butter
  • three eggs
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1 box of chocolate instant pudding
  • 4 squares of semi-sweet bakers chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp of raspberry extract


  1. Preheat oven according to the Betty Crocker directions;
  2. Mix the dry cake mix with the powdered instant pudding;
  3. Add water, butter, eggs, and extract to the dry mix, combine well;
  4. Add sour cream; continue to mix;
  5. Fold in chopped chocolate;
  6. Pour into a greased cake pan and bake.

The cake does take longer than the boxed directions indicate. I used a 9" round cake pan and it took about 1 hr and 10 minutes at 325. This is due to the increased moisture brought by the powdered instant pudding and the sour cream. The increased bake time is worth it, though. This cake is rich and decadent. I frosted it with butter cream and sprinkled Vietnamese cinnamon on top.

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