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In celebration of reaching 1,500 “Likes” on Facebook, I am sharing this collections of holiday recipes with all of you.  Here’s to a happy, healthy, and tasty holiday season!

Holiday E Book for Facebook

 

Crêpes were the first recipe I made over after I was diagnosed with celiac disease more than 35 years ago.

A few months earlier, I had been given Julia Child’s first cookbook, “Mastering The Art of French Cooking,” and I was cooking my way through Julia’s wonderful recipes.   Her cookbooks opened a door and, whisk in hand, I went through. I cooked and baked and held parties just to have tasters who would help me devour my experiments.  Her book was my beacon, my inspiration.

Then a doctor told me to avoid gluten and I was overwhelmed.  I could not simply put those books back on the shelf and close my mind to the delicious foods I had discovered.  So I went to culinary school and began experimenting again, but this time, I made my recipes with gluten-free flour.  As long as I maintained the ratio in a recipe, the balance of wet to dry and fat and sugar,  and replaced regular flour with the same amount of gluten-free flour, I had success every time.

I picked crêpes first because the formula called for a few simple ingredients – eggs, milk, and flour.  What could be easier?  And the batter sits overnight so the mixture is tenderized and softens.  It turns out, the ingredients have an affinity for rice flour.  The crêpes held together beautifully.  The results were delicious.  I flamed them with brandy to make Crêpes Suzette.  I filled them with ricotta cheese, lemon and currants.  No one had any idea they were gluten-free.

With my taste buds engaged and my curiosity in overdrive, I was ready to try more recipes.  Today, I am confident that any recipe can be made over with gluten-free ingredients.  My cookbook, “Gluten-Free Makeovers,” is filled with many of these successes.

Last week would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday and the 50th year since “Mastering The Art of French Cooking,” was released.  Celebrations large and small were held all over the world.  I made crêpes in honor of Julia’s birthday, reserving an extra shot of brandy for a toast.  Happy Birthday, Julia and Bon Appetit!

This recipe is a classic French formula.  The trick is to make these very thin so they are pliable and easy to roll.  Since this is peach season, I made up a quick peach Melba-style filling.   Unfilled crêpes freeze well.

Crêpes with Easy Peach Melba-Style Filling

Makes Fifteen to Twenty 6-inch Crêpes

The Crêpe recipe is reprinted from my cookbook, Gluten-Free Makeovers  (Da Capo Press) where you’ll find more delicious fillings for them.

2 large eggs
¾ cup rice flour
¼ cup tapioca starch/flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon sugar (for dessert crepes)
1¼ cups milk, soy milk, or rice milk

1.Whisk together the eggs in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine rice flour, tapioca starch, salt, xanthan gum, and sugar, if using. Whisk into the eggs just until moistened. The mixture will be very thick and gloppy.

2. Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring vigorously until the mixture is smooth and the consistency of heavy cream. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.

3. Lightly oil one or two 6-inch crêpe pans or heavy frying pans and set over medium heat. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the batter into each pan and swirl until the pan is coated. Pour any excess batter back into the bowl. Cook the crêpe until the edges look very dry, about 1 minute. With a sharp knife, loosen the edges of the crêpe. Using fingers, grab the edges and flip the crêpe. Cook another 30 seconds and remove to a platter. Continue until the remaining batter is used, lightly oiling the pans with a paper towel as necessary.

Peach Melba-Style Filling

1 cup seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoon brandy
6 medium vine-ripened peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped
confectioners’ sugar
1 peach, skin left on, for garnish

Combine jam with brandy.  Spread 1 tablespoon of the mixture over the surface of a crêpe.  Add a few pieces of cut up peaches.  Roll the crêpe.  Repeat until all the crêpes are used.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

 

I envy Northern California for its long growing season, its verdant farms and endless vineyards. But from June to September, Connecticut is in full bloom and I am content to stay close to home, near the local orchards and farms that rival anything I’ve seen in any other part of the US. Our best chefs know that cooking with fresh, local foods can turn ordinary recipes into three-star meals.  I’m reminded of that secret when Connecticut’s harvest smiles.  I load up on fresh corn, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and herbs.  I can never have enough!

And just about now, the orchards are bearing fruit – – pears, apples, and peaches.  Ah.  Peaches.  Perhaps my favorite of all the local produce.  Nothing else comes close to that juicy, tree-ripened crop.   Their faint fruit perfume floats over the back roads as I drive by the local orchards.  I buy them by the bushelful.  By the time I get home, I’ve devoured a sizable number and my car seat and steering wheel bear the sticky evidence.  It’s a race to reach my saturation point before the trees return to their dormant state.  So I eat just as many as I possibly can.  But I reserve enough to bake a few special treats.

This peach cake is one. Fresh peach slices, fanned out over the buttery cake, turn this into an elegant dessert that bursts with intense flavor. The cake makes the perfect company dessert that fools most into thinking it’s not gluten-free.  Perhaps that’s because I started with a great, gluten-filled recipe.  This is a makeover from one I saw in Bon Appetit several years ago.  It can also be packed and taken to a picnic or a pot luck meal. Don’t tell, but I make this with frozen peaches when the fresh varieties are not available. They beat the hard, unripened fruit that I find in stores throughout the rest of the year. I’ve also used fresh plums. The purple skin makes for an equally beautiful presentation.

PEACH CAKE

3/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour blend *
½ cup sorghum Flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½  teaspoon xanthan gum
¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter or non-dairy buttery spread, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2 large eggs or egg replacer of choice
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
4 ripe, but firm peaches halved and each half cut into 4 slices*
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon for topping
Whipped cream or whipped dairy-free topping

Second Choice:  Cascadian Farms or other brand Organic sliced peaches can be used.  Thaw fruit before using.  Purchase 2, 10-ounce bags and pick the prettiest slices for this cake.  Save the rest for another use.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch spring form pan. Combine the flour blend, sorghum flour, baking powder, and xanthan gum in a bowl; set aside.

Beat ¾ cup of the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl until fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients and orange zest and beat until crumbly. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the orange juice and beat just to incorporate. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Arrange the peach slices on top of the batter so that they touch and form concentric circles that cover the batter. Press into the batter lightly. Don’t worry if the slices are not perfect. The cake will partially cover the fruit as it bakes. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over the batter.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes, until golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Run a knife along the side of the pan to release and remove the side of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or dairy-free topping.

*  If  the blend you use does not contain salt and gum, add ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon additional xanthan gum to the dry ingredients.