When food writer and chef, Robin Asbell asked me to take part in a blog potluck to introduce her new Gluten-Free Pasta book (Running Press) I was all ears.  “Can you make Crêpe Cannelloni with Roasted Veggies and Chèvre?” she asked.

We eat a lot of roasted veggies in my house so I was hooked immediately and Robin is a champion of all things vegetable.  Then I received a copy of Robin’s gorgeous book.  It’s filled with more than 100 ways to make pasta including easy, homemade noodle recipes like these Crêpe Cannelloni.  And she’s included low-carb (and no-carb) options and dishes with an Asian flare as well.  I mean, there is something for everyone in this book.  And, of course, it’s all gluten free.

As a food writer, I love browsing through cookbooks and this one is great for window shopping.  But there are several recipes I want to try right off the bat.

The recipe I picked to reprint here has several steps. But it’s worth it.  I did not make the Veggie Spaghetti Sauce, however, although I included the recipe here.  It sounds delish. Instead, I used a good quality commercial product (Muir Glen).  That’s the one shortcut I would recommend if time is limited.

Roasted Vegetable Egg Crêpe Cannelloni with ChèvreThe crepes were easy to make, light and wonderful with the vegetable filling.  You can also make these into easy strands for noodle dishes.  My husband and I ate several filled cannelloni in one sitting.  And this is a terrific way to get kids to eat their vegetables.

I can’t wait to try more of Robin’s recipes.  For more, visit her web site robinasbell.com

I am giving away a copy of Gluten-Free Pasta to one lucky reader.  Just leave a comment to this post or on my Facebook page to win.

Be sure to include your email address in the comment so I can contact you.  the offer ends Sunday, March 30.  Sorry, but it’s only open to US residents.

The following recipes are Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Pasta © 2014 by Robin Asbell, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Roasted Vegetable Egg Crêpe Cannelloni with Chèvre

Egg crêpes make a wonderful pasta stand-in in this delicious dish. Butter-soft roasted veggies are laced with tangy chèvre, rolled in tender crêpes, then topped with classic red sauce before being baked to crusty greatness.  Roasted Vegetable Egg Crêpe Cannelloni with Chèvre

Serves 8
1 pound asparagus (tips and tender stalks only), cut into 2 to 3-inch pieces
1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), cut into 2 to 3-inch sticks
1 medium yellow onion, thinly slivered
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
6 ounces chèvre cheese
1 recipe Egg Crêpe “Noodles” (recipe as follows)
2 cups Veggie Spaghetti Sauce (recipe as follows), or use a good quality commercial sauce)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine the asparagus, zucchini, onion, and red bell pepper in a large bowl and add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Toss to mix. Spread the veggies on 2 sheet pans and roast for 20 minutes, then stir, rotate the pans, and roast for 10 minutes more.

The veggies should be tender and browning. Let the pans cool to room temperature on racks. Leave the oven on. When cool, transfer the veggies to a medium bowl and add the basil, then toss to mix.

To assemble the cannelloni, lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Lay the crêpes out on a counter or cutting board. Divide the chèvre and veggies among the crêpes, then roll them up and place them in the baking pan, seam-side down. Cover with the veggie sauce and then sprinkle the Parmesan down the center of the crêpes.

Bake, uncovered, for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted and golden.

Egg Crêpe “Noodles”

Serves 4 to 6
1/2 cup (60 grams) garbanzo flour
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon fine salt
8 large eggs, whisked
Canola oil, for the pan

Whisk the garbanzo flour, milk, and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs and whisk again.

Heat an 8-inch crêpe pan or a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brush or spray with oil.

Measure 1/4 cup of crêpe batter into the pan and quickly swirl to coat just the bottom of the pan. Cook for a minute or two, until set and flip over carefully. Cook the second side for only a couple of seconds and transfer the crêpe to a cutting board to cool. Continue with the remaining crêpe batter.

When all the crêpes are cooked and cooled to room temperature, you can either use them for cannelloni or roll them up and slice them thinly into strands. Toss to fluff. These can be stored, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.

Veggie Spaghetti Sauce

This is a simple sauce to use for everything. It is full of chunky vegetables but is delicious and tomatoey enough that kids love it. Make a double batch to freeze and use it for quick weeknight spaghetti, pizzas, and lasagna, or anywhere else a red sauce would be appropriate. I use Muir Glen canned tomatoes.

Serves 6 (Makes 6 Cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 ribs celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup red wine dry Burgundy or chianti
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can tomato purée
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper

In a 4-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper flakes, garlic, celery, carrot, and thyme. Once the mixture begins to sizzle, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring often, for at least 10 minutes, and up to an hour if you have the time, to caramelize the onions and add more depth of flavor. Add the wine and bring to a boil, then stir in the tomato sauce and purée, diced tomatoes, salt, and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and the vegetables are very tender. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

You'll love these yummy, moist muffins for brunch, tea or anytime!

You’ll love these yummy, moist muffins for brunch, tea or anytime!

Makes 12 to 14 muffins

These moist and vibrant-tasting muffins add a touch of elegance to a brunch or tea. But don’t wait for a special occasion to whip up a batch.  These muffins will be cause for celebration whenever you make them.  I used silicone baking cups called “Baking Buddies” instead of muffin papers to test this recipe.  I was a little concerned that the heavy dough would cause the cups to lose their shape and the muffins to spread rather than rise.  (Gluten-free dough has a knack for doing that.)  As you can see, they rose beautifully.  I set half in muffin tins and half on a baking sheet just in case,  but there was no perceptible difference between the two.  These silicone cups wash easily, too.  Fun to use and I love the colors.  You can buy them on Amazon.

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour blend (below)
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or non-dairy buttery spread, softened
2/3 cup sugar, extra to sprinkle on top of muffins
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk or milk of choice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line a muffin tin with muffin papers or use Baking Buddies.  (No need to oil these silicone cups.)

In a medium bowl, mix together flour blend ingredients (below), xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add poppy seeds and lemon zest and blend well.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, beating well.

On low speed, add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.  Add the buttermilk, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat just until smooth.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, 3/4-full. Sprinkle sugar over the tops of the muffins just before baking.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely.   These can be frozen.

All/Purpose Flour Blend

1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch

By Beth Hillson
Serves 8 to 12

During the bone-chilling winter months, I make hearty gluten-free soups for lunch and dinner.  Here’s a chowder that is a favorite in our house.  It is a wholesome soup with big chunks of veggies suspended in a milk-based broth.  But, instead of milk, I use coconut milk.  It creates a wonderful creaminess and a filling potage.  Puree half the vegetables and add them back to make this soup both creamy and chunky.  Light a fire, warm up some gluten free biscuits and enjoy.   This keeps for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.  Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

 

3 ounces hickory-smoked bacon, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large leek, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, roughly chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, roughly chopped
3 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
4 – 6 cups gluten-free chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 (13.6 ounce) can light coconut milk

Garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ½ cups corn kernels, frozen and thawed, or fresh
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup finely chopped red pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a very large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add the bacon and sauté until it begins to brown.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve.  Add remaining oil and sauté the leeks, carrots, and bell pepper. Cook over medium-high until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, garlic and chipotle.  Cook and stir for about 5 minutes.

Add enough broth to cover the vegetables.  Check seasonings and add salt and pepper and the cooked bacon.  Simmer, partly covered, over low heat, stirring often, until sweet potato is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat.  Use a slotted spoon to scoop out 3-4 cups of vegetables and set aside.

Use an immersion blender to puree remaining soup or ladle some of the soup into a blender and puree in batches.  Add back the chunks of vegetables and stir in coconut milk.  Return the soup to low heat.  Check seasonings and add more salt and pepper if desired.  If the chowder is thicker than you like, add additional chicken broth until you reach desired consistency.

For the garnish, heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.   Add the corn and sauté until the corn is lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.  Stir into chowder.

To serve, heat the chowder until hot. Ladle into bowls; top with diced red pepper.

My friends at Attune Foods asked several bloggers to create recipes that would delight Mom’s, especially those who are gluten-free.  I am honored that my recipe for Turkey Strata Muffins is among them.  For the entire booklet, follow this link to Attune Foods.

Here’s my recipe to whet your appetite.

Turkey Crunch Strata Cups with Orange Slices and Balsamic Glaze
Serves 6

These delicious, muffin-size strata are packed with flavor and a little crunch.  They make a hearty, attractive breakfast for Mom and leftovers can be frozen or refrigerated for an ideal weekday breakfast on the go.  Maple syrup lends some sweet notes that work nicely with the turkey and cheese.  However, if you don’t want that touch of sweetness, it can be omitted.

2 tablespoons olive oil  turkey strata stack
1 medium leek, white part only, cleaned and chopped
3 uncooked turkey sausage (about 1 pound)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup Erewhon Brown Rice Cereal
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
5 large eggs, beaten
2 to 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Orange segments or slices (peel removed) for garnish
Maple Balsamic Glaze for drizzle (recipe follows)

Lightly oil 12 muffin cups.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add leek and sauté 2 minutes or until fragrant.

Remove casing from sausage.  Add sausage to leeks and sauté, crumbling the sausage with the back of a spoon as it cooks.  Sauté until sausage is cooked and no pink is visible.  Remove from heat and cool.  Break apart any lingering chunks of sausage (or chop with a knife) and transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Add carrot, cereal and cheese and mix well.  Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.  (Usually, the sausage has plenty of flavor without additional seasonings.)

Combine eggs and maple syrup.  Add to sausage mixture and mix well.

Scoop into muffin cups and press gently.  The filling will be above the tops of the cups, but it shrinks during baking.

Bake 23 to 25 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Let sit 5 minutes to set and turn onto a cooling rack.  Cool to room temperature or serve warm.

To serve, set two strata muffins on a plate and garnish with 3 to 4 orange slices and a drizzle of Maple Balsamic Glaze.

Strata can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and reheated or frozen for future use.  This makes a nice grab and go breakfast for Mom’s busy work week, too.

Maple Balsamic Glaze
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 teaspoons dark balsamic vinegar

Combine and warm briefly in the microwave.  Drizzle over orange slices and strata cups before serving.

About Leeks:  Leeks grow in mounds of dirt.  The best way to clean them is to remove and discard the green top of the stalk.  Rinse any visible dirt from inside the layers of the leek and chop finely.  If leeks still seem sandy, transfer the chopped leek to a bowl and add cool water.  Any leftover dirt will sink to the bottom while the chopped leek will rise to the top.  Scoop out with your hand and transfer to a strainer.  Discard any leeks that remain in the bottom of the bowl.

Do ahead:  Sauté leeks and sausage and refrigerate overnight.  Add remaining ingredients in the morning and prepare as above.  Or make the strata cups the night before.  Just before serving, reheat gently in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes.

 

For my birthday, I couldn’t decide between chocolate and vanilla.  I solved the problem by making a marble cake.  That way I didn’t have to choose!  Orange juice and orange zest added a special brightness to this treat.  Instead of a layer cake with lots of frosting and lots of extra calories, I made a Bundt cake and topped it with thin layer of orange glaze.  The results were yummy.

Now, here’s the best part.  I made this from chocolate and a vanilla gluten-free cake mixes.  Quick, delicious and such a nice gift!

Orange Marble Birthday Cake 
Serves 10 to 12

1 box (15 ounces) Gluten-Free Yellow or White Cake Mix*
1 box (15 ounces) Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix*
2 sticks unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative, softened, divided
4 large eggs, divided
3 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
2 cups buttermilk, divided (a tad less than 2 cups, really)
Juice and zest of one orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly oil a 10-cup Bundt cake pan.

Make the Yellow Cake. Cream 1 stick of butter until light and fluffy.  Add yellow cake mix and beat until crumbly.  Add 2 large eggs and beat until smooth.  Beat in 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla and 1 cup buttermilk.  Beat until smooth.  Set aside.

Make the Chocolate Cake. Cream 1 stick of butter until light and fluffy.  Add chocolate cake mix and beat until crumbly.  Add 2 large eggs and beat until smooth.  Pour orange juice into a 1 cup measure.  Add enough buttermilk to measure 1 cup.  Add 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla and 1 cup buttermilk mixture to the cake mix. Fold in zest.  Beat until smooth.   Set aside.

To Assemble.  Start with dollops of yellow cake batter, then chocolate cake batter and keep alternating until both batters are used up. Use a sharp knife, swirl the batter to create a marble effect.  Set on middle rack in preheated oven.  Bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Rest 10 minutes on rack then invert, remove pan, and cool completely.

Orange Glaze
3 tablespoons orange juice
¾ to 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Grated peel of half an orange

Combine juice and sugar and blend until smooth.  Add grated peel and mix to combine.  Drizzle over the top of the cake before serving.

*Hodgson Mill, Betty Crocker, and Gluten-Free Pantry cake mixes are all good choices as they all weigh 15 ounces.  Many other gluten-free cake mixes will work, too.  Just weigh out 15 ounces of each mix before using.

 

I am grateful for good, gluten-free pizza and this one tops my list.  It’s chewy, thanks to the addition of millet flour, and flavorful, thanks to the use of high protein flours.  You can use any blend that contains one or more of these flours.   (Chickpea, teff, and sorghum are all good.)  Of course, you have to make this yourself, but it’s not difficult and these pizzas (par-baked or fully baked) can be frozen.

Using a pizza stone enhances the texture and fills the crust with a slightly smoky flavor.  It’s yumminess to the 10th power.   But, if you don’t have a stone, don’t fret.  Use a heavy baking sheet or pizza pan and set it on the lowest rack in the oven.

The recipe is versatile, too.  Use the dough to make pizza, pizza pockets, and focaccia.  No need to let the dough rise.  It will puff up nicely in the oven.  However, if you like a thicker crust, let it rise for 10 minutes before adding toppings and bake an addition 3 to 4 minutes.   I’ve suggested some of my favorite toppings.  However, feel free to use whatever suits your fancy.

The Dough
Makes 2, 12-inch pizzas

2 ½ cups high protein blend of choice or my recipe, below
½ cup millet flour
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped dry or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
5 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Place the pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  (Do this 30 to 60 minutes ahead so the stone is very hot.)  If you are not using a stone, it is not necessary to preheat the oven for an extended amount of time.

In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the
high protein blend, millet flour, xanthan gum, salt, and rosemary.  Blend well.  Add the yeast and blend.  Combine water, oil, honey, and vinegar.  Beat at medium high speed for 3 to 5 minutes or until the dough thickens.  Follow preparation instructions below.

Gourmet Toppings For One Pizza
Makes 1, 12-inch pizza

1 to 2 teaspoons good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons good quality pizza sauce (such as Muir Glen)
4 medium tomatoes (red, yellow and orange) thickly sliced
A handful of small, pitted cured black olives such as Nicoise
¼ cup cubed Manchego or other cheese (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh rosemary for garnish

Preparation

Scoop half the dough onto a lightly oiled sheet of parchment paper.  Cover with a sheet of lightly oiled plastic wrap.  Use finger tips and palm to lightly press the dough into a 12-inch circle.  Use finger tips to create a rim of dough around the edge that will become a pretty crust.  Drizzle olive oil of the surface and top with a light coating of pizza sauce.  Scatter tomato slices, olives and cheese over the sauce.  Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan.

Slide onto pizza paddle and transfer to the preheated stone, sliding the parchment off the paddle and onto the stone or slide parchment onto a baking sheet and set in the lowest rack of the preheated oven.  Bake 20 to 24 minutes depending on the thickness.  The bottom of the pizza will be brown.  Slide the pizza paddle under the parchment and slide the pizza out of the oven.  Don’t worry if the paper tears a little.  Sprinkle with fresh rosemary and serve.

Note:  Double ingredients and repeat with remaining dough or prepare the crust and par-bake for 12 minutes (without toppings).  Store the crust in the freezer for a later use.  Thaw before adding toppings.

High Protein Blend  (from Gluten-Free Makeovers)
Blend well and scoop out 2 ½ cups for the pizza recipe above.  Reserve the rest for later use.

1¼ cups white or brown rice flour
1¼ cups sweet white sorghum flour
½ cup amaranth flour
¾ cup cornstarch or tapioca starch

As with so many great recipes, this one passed through several channels, but rather than the old-fashioned grandmother to mother to daughter or son kind of hand-me-down, this one went through an internet-compressed timeline.  One day, I read an account from Mark Bittman in the New York Times Magazine about his friend Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s squash on toast.  It was not a recipe, per se, but an account, like someone passing along the gist of a recipe, the flavor, the texture, but never the amounts.

The mention of winter squash and caramelized onions caught my attention.  What great flavors and there was nothing unhealthy or fattening, at least in the description.  So I created a recipe from what I thought Jean-Georges might have told Mark and that Mark was recounting to his readers.  I made the recipe for a Thanksgiving appetizer and served it with gluten-free French bread. Needless to say, it was a huge hit.  Even my son wanted the recipe.

So, I figured I would copy the account from the New York Times online and fill in the details with my notes.  But what came up was the original recipe from Jean-Georges Vongerichten.  In some places, it was quite different than what I had created.  It called for cheese, chili flakes, and mint.  By then, I was hooked on my version.  Here it is, a perfect dip or spread or appetizer that I’ll be serving at all our winter gatherings, especially for the Super Bowl.

Butternut Squash Spread 
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Gluten-free baguette, thinly sliced and lightly toasted
Extra salt, to taste

Heat the oven to 400.  Toss the squash cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt and spread the mixture over a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake, stirring every few minutes, until tender and slightly colored, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Edges should be  golden brown and squash should be very tender.  Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onions and remaining teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well softened and darkening, at least 15 minutes. Add the vinegar and syrup, stir and reduce until broken down, an additional 15 minutes or so. The mixture should be jammy.

Combine squash and onions in a bowl and smash with a fork until combined. Adjust seasoning.  Serve with gluten-free toast or crackers.

Note:  The original recipe says to spread this mixture on toasted bread, top with ricotta, goat cheese or mascarpone cheese, coarse salt and mint.  I did not do this, but now that I’m passing this on, you can try your own version of this wonderful recipe!

My friend Pat sent me her recipe for Fruit Rocks.  It called for all-purpose flour.  That was the easy part.  It also called for a supermarket’s worth of candied fruit, chopped pecans and dates.  The amount seemed like a lot for the quantity of flour.A Miniature Fruitcake Only Better

To my delight, I met Pat and her husband at a cooking class I did in Atlanta in March.  She brought me some of her fruit rock cookies made gluten free.  They were yummy, but very dense.  Chockfull of fruit and nuts, they reminded me of fruitcake.  But they were crumbly, too.  My baker’s instinct told me, indeed, there was too much fruit.

Upon researching this old fashion cookie, I discovered a number of variations.  Some were listed as Russian Rock Cookies.  Others were called Christmas Rock Cookies.  One called for cocoa, another for lemon juice, a third for raisins.

I kept many parts of Pat’s recipe – - the candied cherries, chopped dates, and pecans.  I added cocoa but did not add raisins. Then I created a flour blend – - an enhanced version of my cake and pastry flour from Gluten-Free Makeovers and increased the fat a bit, but not as much as one of the other recipes would have added.  It seemed like the cookies should be delicate, but sturdy enough to keep the chopped fruit suspended.

The results were delicious. These are like “loaded” miniature fruitcakes only better.  The flavor and texture will keep you coming back for more.

One batch makes enough for all your holiday gifts.

Fruit Rock Cookies (makes about 96 cookies)

1 cup white rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup cornstarch (or tapioca starch)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
¾ pound (12 ounces) chopped pecans
1, 4-ounce container red candied cherries, chopped
1, 4-ounce container green candied cherries, chopped
½  pound candied peel and fruit mix
½  pound chopped dates
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter or dairy-free alternative, at room temperature
6 tablespoons Earth Balance organic shortening, at room temperature
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Blend flours, cornstarch, xanthan gum, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and spices.  Whisk until cocoa is evenly dispersed.  Remove ½ cup of flour mixture.

Combine chopped pecans, cherries, peel and fruit mix, and dates.  Toss with reserved ½ cup of flour blend.  Set aside.

Cream sugar with butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until fluffy.  Add the remaining flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Add water and stir until mixture is smooth.

Fold fruit mixture into batter, mixing thoroughly.  Drop by teaspoon onto prepared baking sheet, about one inch apart. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Do not over-brown.

Store cookies in jars for up to a week or freeze for later use.

“I have a friend who is new to the gluten free diet.  She wanted to do these Candy Cane Cookies for her family at Christmas.  Needless to say, these traditional favorites are not the same when you make them gluten free.  If you can help my friend, Charlotte, I would appreciate it.  Thank you,” writes Marie from Maryland.

Marie sent me the original recipe from a Gold Medal Flour cookbook.  Initially I thought the gluten-free version of the cookies would not be sturdy enough to maintain its shape without crumbling.  Isn’t that always the challenge when making gluten-free baked goods?  Then I remembered a recipe I made over last year for Spritz cookies.  I remembered the challenge was finding a blend and a balance of ingredients that created structure but still tasted delicious and was not crumbly.  The problem is that Cut Out cookies, Spritz cookies and Candy Cane cookies spread and lose their shape if you make them following a one-to-one substitution.  I needed a special blend, a delicate balance.

So what I did it.  I added a little more flour blend than the original recipe calls for (about 2 tablespoons more) just as I had for the Spritz cookies.  And I added ¼ cup additional confectioners’ sugar.  It not only adds more sweetness but also, the added cornstarch helps add structure.

The result was these light, rich, cookies that are both sturdy and delicate.  They are fun to make so invite extras into the kitchen to help form the canes.    Enjoy!

Candy Cane Cookies
Makes 40 to 48 cookies

1 cup white rice flour
¾ cup sorghum flour
½ cup cornstarch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (or dairy-free substitute)
½ cup (1 stick) Earth Balance or other organic shortening
1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon red food coloring*
½ cup crushed candy cane candy
½ cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 3 to 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine rice flour, sorghum flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk to combine. Sift and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, shortening, confectioners’ sugar, and egg until fluffy.  Add flavorings and beat briefly to combine.  Add the flour mixture and beat briefly to combine.  Divide dough in half.  Blend food coloring into one half.

Roll a 4-inch strip (using 1 teaspoon of dough) from each color.  Roll the strips back and forth to smooth the surface then place strips side by side and press together lightly.  Twist like a rope by rolling together or twisting like a rope.  Experiment to see which method works best for you.  Just be careful not to blend the two strands or the candy cane cookies will look more marbled than twisted.

Place on prepared cookie sheets.  Curve the top down to form the handle of the cane.  Bake 9 minutes, until lightly browned.  While still warm, sprinkle with candy-sugar mixture.   Cool completely before storing.

*Natural food coloring is available through IndiaTree.com

TIP:  Instead of crushed peppermint candy and granulated sugar, dust with red or green sanding sugar when the cookies come out of the oven.

Christine from New Zealand wrote to say, “I haven’t had a Crumpet for years and wondered if you had a recipe for gluten free crumpets?”

She piqued my interest as I had never had one.  So I did a bit of research.  Crumpets are made with a rather thin yeast batter and are cooked on a bake stone or griddle in crumpet or English muffin rings.  The distinguishing feature of real crumpets is their pliable texture and the characteristic holes into which butter deliciously melts and oozes.

After reading a mainstream formula, I developed this recipe makeover.  These crumpets are soft,  light in texture and quite tasty.  You will not be disappointed.  Add your favorite jam or slather with butter.  I like both.  If you are not able to get one of the all-purpose flour blends I mentioned here, you can use any flour blend you have available.

Crumpets  by Beth Hillson 
This recipe makes 8 to 10 crumpets.

1 ½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend such as Gluten-Free Pantry All-Purpose Flour or King Arthur Multi-Purpose Flour
½ cup sorghum flour
2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast
1 teaspoon of sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup warm milk  (about 110 degrees)
½ cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon melted butter

TIP:  If using a blend that does not contain gum and salt, add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum and ½ teaspoon salt.

1) Combine flours, yeast, sugar, cream of tartar and blend.  Add warm milk and water and beat for 3 minutes.   Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for about 20 minutes. The thick batter should double in size.

2) Add baking powder, baking soda and butter and beat for 1 minute or until well mixed.  Cover and let stand 10 minutes.

3) Preheat a griddle to 350 degrees.  Coat 8 to 10, 3 ½ inch English muffin rings well with vegetable spray.   Set on griddle, bake stone or large skillet (see note below).

4) Place enough mixture into the center of each ring to come halfway to the top of the ring.  Cook for 4-6 minutes over medium heat, until bubbles appear over the entire surface, and the dough appears ‘dry’.

5) Use tongs to remove the ring.  Turn the crumpet over and cook an additional 2 to 4 minutes to brown the top. Remove from the pan and cool on a baking rack. Split and enjoy.  Or, if thin enough, do not split before eating.

Notes:  Alternatively, make thinner crumpets by filling only one-third of the way up the rings.  These do not need to be cooked on the second side.  If you don’t have a griddle, heat a heavy cast iron skillet and line it with as many rings as possible.  You’ll need to make these in more than one batch.