What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Financier Almond Cake! Not everyone lives around the corner from the best pastry shops in Paris. So we manage by baking at home. My son, Johnny, and his wife, Katie, treated me to their gluten-free version of a popular French sweet. Know what you get when you combine ground natural almonds, luscious brown butter, and airy egg whites? Clue: It’s a French pastry chef’s dream! By choosing a small cupcake mold or ramekin, this springy honey-sweet dessert becomes a star attraction at the end of a meal. Drizzle it with a lightly sweetened St~Germaine glaze, top it with a fresh raspberry crown, and you’re bound to feel a tiny bit Parisienne. Ooh-la-la!
FINANCIER ALMOND CAKE
Ingredients for Cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon natural honey
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter 2 ramekins or coat a 6-count muffin tin with butter or nonstick oil. Set aside. Melt the butter over medium heat. Do not burn. Simmer until brown bits begin to form. Lower heat and simmer, stirring frequently to scrape the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until butter turns dark brown, not burnt, for about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile pulse the sliced almonds and coconut flour in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Transfer flour mixture to a medium bowl. Whisk in the powdered sugar. Fold in the egg whites, mixing until smooth. Gently stir in the honey. Finally, fold in the cooled brown butter. Stir until batter is smooth. Spoon into the greased ramekins or muffin pan. Spread batter evenly. Bake 25-30 minutes until the edges are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. If using a muffin pan, invert after 5 minutes to remove mini-cakes from pan.
Ingredients for Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons St~Germaine liqueur
Fresh raspberries for Garnish
1 teaspoon ground almonds for Garnish
Sift powdered sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in St~Germaine liqueur until a smooth consistency is reached. Gently spoon the glaze over the top of the cakes. Garnish with fresh raspberries and a sprinkling of ground almonds.
Experience the Holidays: Incredibly Delish Chocolate Bliss! Is it a cake? Is it a confection? Who cares? It’s smooth, creamy dreamy chocolate and it is incredible. The fact that it is flourless is a plus for those who avoid desserts for that particular reason. The dark chocolate and butter combination is divinely rich, which is why a little bit goes a long way. I find a nice cuppa joe or herbal tea creates a balance that works. As always, share a little bliss with those around you. They’ll thank you for it.
INCREDIBLY DELISH CHOCOLATE BLISS
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
6 teaspoons chocolate hazelnut spread
Crushed pistachios for garnish
Preheat oven to 375°. Use paper muffin cups or buttered ramekins. Set aside. Combine bittersweet chocolate and butter in a microwave-proof bowl. Melt in microwave on high setting at 30-second intervals until melted and smooth. Stir occasionally. In a mixer bowl, combine eggs, sugar, espresso powder, and almond extract. Beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until mixture is lightened. Reduce speed to low setting. Add melted chocolate/butter mixture until combined. Spoon into muffin cups or buttered ramekins. Add one half teaspoon of hazelnut spread in the center of each muffin cup batter. Bake 10 minutes until edges are set, but center is still soft. Do not over bake. Garnish with crushed pistachios. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Gluten-Free Egg Shoyu! Have you ever wondered how to make those awesome tasting hard-boiled eggs you find nested in a bowl of ramen noodles? The whites are tender; the yolks a gorgeous shade of golden yellow. That slightly salty taste, combined with a hint of sweetness, is the result of marinating the peeled eggs in a soy sauce mixture. I’m not going to lie, that’s the step you need to do in advance. The marination process can take anywhere from 8 hours to 24, depending on the depth of saturation you desire. Its purpose is to allow the natural salt to season the egg yolk. In the end you achieve a perfect ring of tawny brown to outline the incredible edible egg.
GLUTEN-FREE EGG SHOYU
6 hard-boiled eggs
6 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
Everything But Bagel Seasoning, for garnish
Remove the shells of the hard-boiled eggs. Discard. Place the uncut eggs in a deep bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the warm water and sugar until dissolved. Add sherry vinegar and soy sauce. Stir to combine. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the eggs. You want them covered and submerged. Sometimes it is necessary to place a plate over the eggs so they do not float. Marinate the eggs for 8 hours or overnight. Remove the eggs from the sweet and salty marinade. Transfer them to a sealed container for up to three days. When ready to eat, cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Sprinkle, or dab, with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Serve with rice or noodles.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Gluten-free PB Blonde Brownies! Even though I don’t have a restricted diet, I can appreciate the benefits of choosing gluten-free options from time to time. And to be honest, I like the natural nutty flavor of chickpeas as a substitute for white flour. It turns out to be a nice compliment to the natural peanut butter taste. Reward yourself with a touch of chocolate in these blonde brownies. Now that’s something to savor.
GLUTEN-FREE PB BLONDE BROWNIES
15-ounce can organic chickpeas, drained
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup pure honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips
Coarse sea salt for garnish
Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, peanut butter, honey, egg, and vanilla extract. Process until batter is smooth. By hand, fold in mini chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Spread batter evenly in a 8″x8″ square nonstick pan. (Use nonstick oil, if necessary.) Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top. Bake 17-20 minutes until edges are golden brown and the center passes the toothpick test. Cool 15 minutes on wire rack. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Cut into squares and serve.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake! You know you love chocolate. Who doesn’t? If you find yourself avoiding baked goods due to its wheat content, worry no more. This cake is completely flourless. The results are rich, chocolaty, and extremely satisfying for any sweet tooth craving. Dust it with powdered sugar and garnish each slice with fresh strawberries for a gourmet finish. Hurray for Chocolate!
GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE CAKE
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
15-ounce can organic garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, for dusting
1/4 cup almond slices (optional)
Fresh strawberries, garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9″ round cake pan. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for 2 minutes on high. Stir after 1 minute. Repeat until chocolate is melted and smooth. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans and eggs. Blend until smooth, about 4 minutes. Add sugar and baking powder. Pulse to mix. Pour in melted chocolate and almond extract. Blend until smooth, scraping sides as needed. Transfer batter to the cake pan. Bake 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Sprinkle with almond slices. Garnish with whipped cream and strawberries.
Dining Outside the Home: Flour & Barley Brick Oven Pizza in Las Vegas, Nevada. Everyone has that craving for pizza at one time or another. Flour & Barley, on The Linq Promenade, designed an Italian-American eatery for just that reason. Don’t expect the ordinary choices, though. Flour & Barley focuses on uniquely fresh ingredients, gluten-free options, specialty Italian sauces, and even a vegan cheese if needed. Pizza not your thing? No worries. Go with a meal salad, pasta dish, or seafood entree. It’s all good. Hip patio dining offers the perfect vantage point for people-watching plus a nice view of the High Roller.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Clean Plate Club: Aubergine Mini Pizzas! Lately I’ve been exploring different ways of making gluten-free pizza. So, naturally, when I discovered using an eggplant slice to replace the dough, I had to jump on the low-carb bandwagon to celebrate the merits of healthy choices. Talk about satisfying! Don’t believe me? Check my fellow foodie at http://chefkresorecipes.wordpress.com/2018/02/21 who gave me the idea. Yes, you still get marinara sauce. And of course, cheese toppings are a must-have. The secret to the incredible taste is Italian herbs, in my opinion. But be forewarned, you absolutely cannot skip the first step of “weeping” the bitter juices from the eggplant slices before assembling. Just be sure to allow at least half an hour for that process. Then you’re good-to-go.
AUBERGINE MINI PIZZAS
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon corn meal
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, chunky
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh basil leaves, chopped
Cut off ends of the eggplant; discard. Slice remaining into 3/4” equal sections. Sprinkle kosher salt on both sides of each slice and transfer eggplant onto paper towels to “weep” for 30 minutes. Set aside to allow the towels to absorb the liquid. Then rinse well. Pat dry. Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush one side of each eggplant slice with olive oil. Dust with cornmeal. Place each slice face down on the parchment paper. Then brush the tops with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle on oregano, marjoram, basil, and garlic powder. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and layer each eggplant slice with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese. Top with freshly chopped basil. Return to the oven. Change setting to Broil. Watch carefully. Remove after a couple minutes when cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Impromptu Pretzel Crust Pecan Pie! Sometimes a crunchy pie crust satisfies primal needs. After all, it’s second nature to crave foods that sound good when you bite into them. Admit it, we like different tastes. The desire for crispy and crunchy foods never seems to grow old. Because we associate tastes and aromas with feelings, our brain is already satisfied before the first bite. Combine sweet and salty for the ultimate dessert experience. Crunch away.
IMPROMPTU PRETZEL CRUST PECAN PIE
Ingredients for Crust:
1 1/4 cups pretzel crumbs
2 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons butter, melted
Ingredients for Filling:
6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon sea salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine pretzel crumbs, corn starch, sugar, and melted butter in a medium bowl. Stir well. Press evenly into a 9” pie plate, making sure the sides and bottom are covered. Put pie plate on a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes until crust is firm. To prepare filling, take a medium saucepan. Combine butter chunks, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sea salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Whisk in beaten eggs. Fold in chopped pecans. Pour mixture into pretzel crust. Bake 50 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Gluten-Free Crustless Pizza! Are you ever tempted to just eat the toppings off a pizza? For those who require a gluten-free lifestyle or simply desire fewer carbs, here is a healthy alternative on pizza night. Eliminate the crust altogether. By substituting eggs and cheese for bread dough, it’s surprising how this turns into a delicious deep dish pizza.
GLUTEN-FREE CRUSTLESS PIZZA
8-ounce cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 ounces pepperoni, sliced
1/3 cup ham, chopped
1/3 cup chorizo sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon basil
1/8 teaspoon marjoram
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 10”-12” iron skillet with nonstick oil. Set aside. Combine cream cheese, eggs, black pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Spread in a single layer in the prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes until light brown. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Spread pizza sauce over crust. Top with mozzarella cheese. Arrange pepperoni, ham, chorizo sausage, bacon, mushrooms, and chopped onion. Sprinkle with oregano, basil, and marjoram. Bake 15 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Cool 5 minutes before cutting into pizza slices.