December 7, 2009

My French Thanksgiving, sans gluten!

I apologize for this post being a bit delayed, but I have been busy nannying, cooking, and enjoying the outdoors. This year, I celebrated Thanksgiving on another day just like last year. Although instead of being a week off, I was only a couple days! I had wanted to celebrate thanksgiving on the actual day itself, but because of my nanny job I was off running the French kids to hockey practice instead of demolishing a turkey! So I postponed thanksgiving until Sunday, so that I could make it a full day event. Originally I was only going to invite a couple people to the party, but the list kept growing and growing. Finally it topped off at 15 people, but three of those people were children. I also was not able to cook a whole turkey. You see in France, apparently they eat every part of the turkey, but not together as a whole. Oh sure you can find turkey legs, turkey wings, turkey breasts, etc in the grocery store. But try and find a whole one and you are out of luck! We went to the butcher to inquire as to whether we could purchase a whole entire turkey, well rather FP did. When he was asked what he would like, he replied a turkey! The butcher and the whole entire store look at him as if he has asked for a whole cow! The butcher replies, you want a whole turkey??? Like the whole thing?? Yes, that is what I said, a turkey! She then stated that he must be English, as only English speaking people seem to want a whole turkey!After she finally calmed down she explained that the only size of turkey we could get was going to be over 16 lbs and would cost almost a 100 dollars! My dreams of a Thanksgiving with turkey were crushed. So instead we loaded up on turkey breasts and the evening turned out wonderfully. Although, I will note that when I went to the grocery store yesterday I saw a whole turkey! Yes a whole turkey sitting in the meat section for 17 dollars! hmmmm, seems like this French butcher was a bit off.

The day of Thanksgiving started off well and I found myself living in the kitchen whipping up dinner rolls, stuffing, gravy, etc. FP was a HUGE help and I think he will have Thanksgiving down pat for next year. Our guests arrived and were greeted with an array of wonderful appetizers. They had their choices of cold cuts, a cheese ball, a Mexican layer dip, and yes more cheese. For dinner we had turkey breasts, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy, and green beans. And finally for dessert I served pumpkin pie, apple pie, and an amazing chocolate chip pumpkin bread! The Brits loved the cheese ball, the frenchies loved the sweet potato casserole,the french Canadians loved the pumpkin bread, the English speaking Canadian loved the pumpkin pie and the lone Slovenian was a fan of the stuffing. I personally loved everything and ate leftovers for almost 5 days! It turned out to be a wonderful thanksgiving, with great people to share it with! I just hope next year we can actually find a whole turkey haha. So enjoy these holiday recipes because I will probably use a couple of them again for Christmas dinner, that is if I can convince everyone to eat something other than raclette! Bon Apetit!

Cheese ball to die for

-2 (8 ounce) packages gf cream cheese, softened
-1/4 cup grated cheese of choice, I used a mild white french cheese
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1/4 cup gf mayonnaise
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
-3 T freshly chopped chives
-1 T freshly chopped basil
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/4 cup slivered almonds

Mix all ingredients together except nuts. Form into a ball. Roll in nuts to coat the outside and then refrigerate. I made this the day before the party, so it would be cold and set for the night of the party. Serve with gf crackers or chips.

Sweet Potato Casserole
Adapted from allrecipes (serves 10-12)

-3-4 large sweet potatoes
-1/4 cup white sugar
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-2 eggs, beaten
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-4 tablespoons butter, softened
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1/3 cup mix of flour (I used sweet rice, brown rice, and a touch of starch)
-3 tablespoons butter, softened
-1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (165 degrees C). Pierce a couple holes in the sweet potatoes with a fork. Bake in over for 1 1/2-2 hours. Once done, scoop out the inside and place in large bowl.
In the large bowl mix together the sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla with an electric mixer. Mix until smooth. Transfer to a casserole baking dish. In medium bowl, mix the sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven (325 degrees F) 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.

Dinner Rolls Found on this website, although I made a couple minor modifications

-3 eggs - use Extra Large!
-1/4 cup oil
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 1/4 cups milk
-1 tsp. salt
-1 Tb xanthan gum
-1/3 cup potato starch (NOT flour)
-1 cup sorghum flour
-1 cup brown rice flour
-1 cup tapioca starch
-1/3 cup GF teff
-1 Tb active dry yeast
-1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tb active dry yeast
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Preheat Oven to 380 degrees.* Note: I actually started these at a higher temperature, more like 450, and then turned the temperature down, in the attempt to get a crunchier crust. Try experimenting with the temperature and see what you like. Add yeast and sugar to milk. Let sit in a warm area for 10-15 min. or until the yeast starts to foam.
Beat eggs and vinegar together. In a big bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add the milk yeast mixture to flour mixture. Finally add in egg and vinegar mixture. Add oil only until you feel the dough is ready. I ended up only uses a couple Tb. Flour hands with gf brown rice flour and knead dough with hands for a couple min. Form into 13-15 even sized balls. Add brown rice flour to the balls if they become too sticky. Place on floured pan. Then allow them to rise 20 min or so. Finally brush with olive oil and garnish with rosemary before you place them in the oven.

Five minutes before you put the rolls in the oven, put ice cubes (in a pan) in the bottom rack of your oven and let them evaporate into steam. Open oven, put in your rack of rolls and let bake for 20-25 minutes. (Halfway through baking time, you may wish to turn over your rolls for even browning.)

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin bread

-1-3/4 cups gf all-purpose flour (I used arrowhead)
-1 tsp. xantham gum
-1 cup packed dark brown sugar
-1/3 cup white sugar
-1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-Dash of salt
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-3/4 cup cup dark choc chunks( I used lindt 70%)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one loaf pan.
In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, baking soda, salt, ground nutmeg and ground cinnamon. Mix together pumpkin puree and coconut milk . Add to flour mixture. Mix until all of the flour is gone. Fold in the chocolate chunks. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow bread to cool. I also placed a towel over the bread for about 10 minutes once it was done.

Pumpkin Pie

-Use pie crust from last years thanksgiving page
-Follow the recipe for libby's famous pumpkin pie!

December 1, 2009

Tea time with coffee cake!

I have started baking again when FP is away on the road. It gives me some sort of peace of mind and some how keeps me sane in this living situation. I wasn't sure what to make, but I knew it had to be something I hadn't tasted in quite a while. So I set off by browsing through a couple cook books that I brought here with me. When I turned the page to the recipe for a delicious struesel coffee cake, I knew I had hit the jackpot! However, I did not follow that recipe. I have found that it is better to go online, find a recipe for the real and true thing (full of gluten!), and then adapt it to be gluten free. So I again ventured to one of my favorite websites,, and conducted some serious coffee cake searches. Now the best thing about this website is that you can read reviews from all those cooks out there that have tried the recipe. That is the major problem with a cookbook. The recipe may look delicious, but will it turn out that way??? On allrecipes you can read the reviews, look at the modifications people have made, and adapt your own recipe! I think I really do swear by that website now! I even have FP using it all the time as well!!!

Back to my coffee cake.....I found two delicious recipes for a coffee cake that I adapted to make sans gluten and to fit into a bread pan, as I am adamant in using that 13 euro pan whenever possible!!! I have become so confident in my bread endeavors, that I thought I was completely capable of making a coffee cake in a bread pan. Well let me just say next time I either need a bigger pan or less of the batter! I whipped up the cake in no time, dribbled it into the pan, and voila, that I was a genius! However, about 10 min. into the baking process the batter started oozing down the side of the pan. This baby rose more than I thought was possible. I am convinced it is because of the altitude. At one point I got so tired of wiping the dribbly mess off of the pan I contemplated throwing the whole thing out and cutting my loses. But I gutted it out and pulled the cake out when I thought it was done. But in honesty, I had no idea if it was done or just a disaster! But low and behold the cake turned out wonderfully! Now I must say that it looked like a mess in that bread pan and had collapsed in quite a bit, I am still convinced it was because of the altitude, but the taste was spot on. I loved it, FP loved it, and well the roomies didn't try it. One doesn't like dessert and the other, I am not sure what his thoughts were. But it just meant more cake for me!!! I personally think this cake would be a great edition to any get together or for a little tea party. In fact it would be perfect for an afternoon chat with a good friend and a hot cup of tea or coffee.

Coffee Cake
-adapted from allrecipes

-1/3 cup butter
-2/3 cup white sugar
-1 egg
-2/3 cup sour cream
-3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
-1-1/3 cups gf all-purpose flour (I used arrowhead blend)
-3/4 tsp. gf baking powder
-1 tsp. xantham gum
-3/4 tsp. gf baking soda
-3 T brown sugar
-3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. nutmeg
-1/3 cup chopped walnuts


-2 T flour
-1-2 tsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a loaf pan. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, xantham gum, baking powder and baking soda together. In a separate small bowl, combine 3 T brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and nuts.
In a large bowl, cream butter and 2/3 cups white sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and beat until well combined. Pour half of batter into loaf pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture on top of batter in pan. Add remaining batter, and sprinkle with topping. To make topping, cut butter into flour and add remaining nut/ sugar mixture. This creates a bit more of a struesel topping. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. You also may find the topping to start to brown, lightly cover with foil if this occurs.