Gluten-Free Archive

Friday, March 22, 2013

chocolate-hazelnut macaroon torte

chocolate hazelnut macaroon torte

When it comes to large family gatherings, no matter how much I humble-brag about my brisket, roasted vegetable sides or the way I know my way around a salad, I am always instead nominated to bring desserts. So, like a certain Phoebe on cup-and-ice duty that I will date myself by referencing, I take things very seriously, in part because I have a lot of rules for Passover desserts. The first is that that whatever dessert I make cannot include even a speck of matzo meal. I’m sorry, I realize this is a sensitive topic and I should tread more carefully, but I find the taste of matzo meal just awful in anything but matzo ball soup. My difficult palate aside, I also figure if I’m going to go through the effort to come up with something new (and hopefully better) in the flourless department, it would be of more use to more people were it also gluten-free, so that’s the second rule. The final rule is that I want the dessert to be good enough that I’d choose it any other day of year. It can’t just be good for a Passover dessert. It can’t just be good for something gluten-free. It has to be objectively good. Really, shouldn’t everything be?

already toasted and kinda peeled hazelnuts
whirling and whirling the hazelnuts

My inspiration this year was a cake I found on Epicurious. Isn’t it a beaut? I knew I had to find a way to make it happen, but I also knew it wasn’t going to be the way it was written. Aside from the fact that it is not actually a Schwarzwälder Torte (a chocolate cake with whipped cream, cherries and often Kirsh, what we sometimes refer to as a Black Forest Cake) and that it contains both flour and powdered sugar (a Passover no-no, unless you find or make cornstarch-free stuff), reviewers seemed very unhappy with the meringues, which were too thin and from what I could tell, not particularly flavorful. I turned instead to the macaroon component of an almond torte I made a few years ago; the torte was a headache but the macaroons ended up having a lovely flavor largely because they contained such a high proportion of nuts. Given the choice, I always prefer meringues that are closer to macaroons.

ground hazelnuts with sugar and salt

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

zucchini rice gratin

zucchini, tomato and rice gratin

As promised, I am here to aid you with you midsummer afternoon’s zucchini nightmare, er, bounty. But please, just because I try to help people who weren’t wary enough of friends bearing baskets of zucchini doesn’t mean that I should be mistaken for someone who never lets zucchini expire on her watch. I went away for the weekend and left my last haul to meet a terrible end in my kitchen. Let this gratin be my zucchini repentance.

sliced zucchini
lightly roasted tomatoes and zucchini

I started making this zucchini rice gratin a few years ago. At the time, well, rice wasn’t my thing. I wouldn’t say I didn’t like it, just that it never, ever occurred to me to make it, which likely related to the fact that I burned it 100% of the time I made it, which led to pot-soaking and -scrubbing and a plague about our apartment known as a Grumpy Dishwasher. It hardly seemed worth it for a bit of rice. I’ve since figured out that nearly every package of rice lists the wrong amount of water (I always need more) and that on the gas stoves I’ve had, even the thinnest wisp of a flame, the lowest I can make it before the burner goes out entirely, will cook my rice in about 2/3 of the suggested time. I share these tips just in case any of you out there also need to go to Rice Remedial School, though you guys seem smart. I bet you’ve got this figured out already, and long before you wrote a cookbook that uses it no less than three times.

mixing rice, onions, herbs, parmesan

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

bacon corn hash

bacon corn hash, wisp of steam

I just realized we are almost halfway through with summer and while I should be totally stoked about this — seeing as we’re melting through our fourth heatwave so far this summer in NYC and given what awesome things are in store for the fall — I am spectacularly bummed as I am just getting used to having an avalanche of delicious summer produce at my disposal and haven’t had time to do half of what I wanted to with it yet. Plus, this guy turns three at the end of the summer and I can’t, I won’t accept it. More time, please! For everything.

oatmeal strawberry cookies so much broccoli slaw
summer salsa fresca summer squash torte, simplified
cherry chocolate chunk scones buttermilk cornmeal chicken tenders

I missed you last week, a crazy week that did not entail, as hinted, a vacation but the heard-it-all-before-so-I’ll-spare-you tune about too much to do and too little time. I’ve been cooking more this month then my absence let on, just not a lot of things that seemed worth stepping up to this internet microphone to clear my throat and tell you about, things like oatmeal strawberry cookies (utterly delicious, but only for the first hour, after which they became chewy and sad, sigh) and a spectacular amount of broccoli slaw (five batches already this summer, a record). A summery salsa fresca with the first cherry tomatoes to go with our huevos rancheros and a streamlined version of this summer squash torte we can’t get enough of (there are new notes in the recipe, but I’d like to reshoot it and add more details soon, too). I made heart-shaped tiny whole wheat cherry chocolate chunk scones (closet Cherry Garcia fiend, here) for a friend’s daughter’s second birthday party and I’ve been fiddling around with various baked chicken tender recipes (for times when you crave crunchy chicken but have little desire to deep- or shallow-fry anything), looking for a winner.

diced red potatoes

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

chocolate buckwheat cake

chocolate buckwheat cake

There are rainy, dreary, energy depleted days when the best thing you can do at 3 p.m. is to stop pretending that anything short of chocolate cake is going to improve your outlook. Tuesday was that kind of day and, just my luck, this happened to be a rainy Tuesday kind of chocolate cake.

chopping bittersweet chocolate
buckwheat flour with ground almonds

But before that, I really tried to tell you about soup, soup with whole grains and seasonal onions and floating croutons of pungent cheese. I really tried. But I found that the same conditions that led to the need for a hearty soup on a Monday night in May — a gray day in which my brain a little fried from a week at the beach and maladjustment back to real life — also made it impossible to discuss soup in any kind of articulate manner on Tuesday. And so, I made chocolate cake instead. If this site had a subtitle, that would be it.

what you'll need + bea's inspiration

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

raspberry coconut macaroons

raspberry coconut macaroons

Every year around this time, behind the scenes, I go through my annual Macaroon Marathon, in which I decimate bags and bags of coconut in an effort to find a variation on the lowly macaroon worth noting, publicly. As evidenced by the fact that my archives are virtually coconut macaroon-free, I hadn’t thus far succeeded. But it wasn’t for lack of trying.

this week's macaroon marathon
rolled in coconut chips, prettiest

Two years ago, insistent on making something my coconut-loathing but chocolate-adoring husband would find palatable, I made multiple attempts at chocolate-coconut macaroons. They were… brown. And tangly. And rarely chocolaty enough. I don’t remember them fondly. Last year’s experiments centered on whatever appallingly bad home economics had led me to having three (3!) bags of unsweetened coconut in my pantry, and my determination that they would leave my kitchen in cookie format. They were… okay. I am sure more skilled macaroon makers than I make excellent macaroons from unsweetened coconut, but I found them consistently more dry and scratchy than those that began with sweetened coconut. This week’s coconut macaroon trials were the most obsessive yet, with versions rolled in unsweetened coconut chips (gorgeous, but man, are those chips unpleasant to chew), chopped almonds (tasty, but hardly noteworthy), thumbprinted with the intention of filling the indentation with jam or chocolate down the road but I lost interest before I did (a sure sign that they were a snooze) and even flattened, with designs on a sandwich cookie. Were it not for the one in which I’d actually pressed a whole raspberry inside a sealed ball of coconut macaroon, I wouldn’t be here discussing macaroons today because although it was fussy and odd to construct, the flavor smacked unmistakeably of cookie destiny: coconut and raspberries were meant to be together.

coconut snow

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