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Carol's latest book, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, is now available. Designed for small households, each perfectly-proportioned recipe serves two people. You will eliminate unwanted leftovers and reduce waste when you cook right-size meals with the 125 recipes in this book. Enjoy!! Celebrate with me!!! Gluten-Free Cooking for Two has won two awards: named one of ten "Best Gluten-Free Cooking Books in 2017" by Healthline.com and won a Silver Medal in the 2017 Living Now Book Awards in the "Natural, Nutrition, Organic, Vegetarian" category.
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Where in the World is Carol?

Carol's in the kitchen, cooking up recipes for her next cookbook and www.CarolFenster.com

Watch for Carol on "Creative Living with Sheryl Borden," a PBS-TV show airing on your local PBS station during 2017-2018.

Join Carol at the National Western Complex, Expo Hall level 2 in Denver on April 21,10:30 am during the GFAF Expo Conference. See you there!

Welcome to Carol Fenster Cooks!

Welcome to Carol Fenster Cooks!

I have had a love affair with food since I was a small child.  But I didn’t understand that it was the very food I loved that made me ill. When I learned that gluten was the culprit, I left my corporate job to start Savory Palate, Inc. where I specialize in gluten-free, allergen-free, and vegetarian/vegan cooking. I believe that eating food is the most profound thing we do to our bodies each and every day. So my mission is to help everyone eat well and I love my job!

Chocolate Cakes in a Cup for Valentine’s Day

After years of marriage, we’ve fallen into the routine of having dinner at home on Valentine’s Day—unless it’s a busy weekday. Then, we choose a weekend night that’s less rushed. Our main course will be something special that we both like—perhaps steak or salmon on the grill.

Chocolate Cake in a Cup from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two. Photo by Tom Hirschfeld

Chocolate Cake in a Cup from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two. Photo by Tom Hirschfeld

But one thing never varies: dessert will be chocolate. As “chocolate-lovers”, we agree that it isn’t dessert on Valentine’s Day unless it’s chocolate.

Since chocolate is a must for Valentine’s Day, the question is will it be cake, cookies, pie, or just straight-up dark chocolate bars. But when I want something special yet quick, I turn to these cute little cakes in a cup.  They are quick since they “bake” in a microwave in about a minute rather than several minutes in an oven.

This means you can assemble the dry and wet ingredients separately beforehand, and then—maybe an hour or so after dinner—whisk them together and cook them quickly in the microwave. Or, make them right after dinner if you just cant’ wait. Your reward is a warm chocolatey dessert that says “I love you.”

Chocolate Cake in a Cup

Text excerpted from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two ©2017 by Carol Fenster. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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These cute little individual cakes microwaved in coffee cups are just perfect for couples, and they are super quick. They can be eaten right out of the cup, once they’ve cooled a bit.

1/3 cup Carol’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa (not Dutch-processed)

¹/8 teaspoon (dash) baking powder

¹/8 teaspoon (dash) salt

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon water

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Powdered sugar or chocolate syrup, for garnish

[1] Generously grease 2 shallow, microwave-safe 6-ounce (¾-cup) coffee cups. (My coffee cups are 3¼ inches in diameter and 2¼ inches high. The batter may spill over the edge during baking if you use a smaller cup.)

[2] In a small bowl, whisk together the flour blend, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt until well blended, and then whisk in the egg, oil, water, and vanilla until smooth. The batter will be soft. Divide the batter between the two coffee cups and place the cups on saucers or plates to catch any drips.

[3] Microwave on medium-high (70%) power for 50 to 60 seconds. The cakes are done when they look firm and are no longer shiny on top. They will continue to cook after they are out of the microwave. The cooking time may vary depending on the wattage of your microwave oven. Cool slightly before eating right out of the cup, dusted with powdered sugar or drizzled with chocolate syrup — or both!

Makes 2 cakes

Per cake: 335 calories; 5g protein; 17g total fat; 3g fiber; 42g carbohydrates; 94mg cholesterol; 215mg sodium

Carol’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups brown rice flour (or sorghum flour)

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

Whisk together until thoroughly blended. Store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place for up to 3 months.

Raspberry Tarts in Buttery Crusts for Two

 With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, here is a stunningly beautiful Raspberry Tart that is just perfect for a romantic dinner for two. Your significant other will be impressed.

Raspberry Tart for Two

Raspberry Tart for Two

But you don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day. This is a lovely dessert year-round. Plus, you can vary the fruit. Perhaps pair fresh strawberries with strawberry jam; fresh blueberries with blueberry jam; fresh peaches with peach jam—you get the idea.

Don’t let the idea of pie crust scare you. You just press this dough into the mold, no rolling pins required. So, it is super-easy and fail-proof because the pretty fluted edge just naturally happens, due to the shape of the pan.

Raspberry Tarts in Buttery Crusts for Two

Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two: 125 Favorites by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April, 2017)

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These cute little tarts are so simple, yet so gorgeous. The best part is that you just press the dough into the tart pans—no rolling pin needed! The fluted edge of the tart pans automatically shapes the dough. You will only use half of the dough, so freeze it the other half for a later pair of tarts. I like these tarts with a dollop of whipped cream or plain yogurt, but they are delicious just by themselves.

BUTTERY CRUST

1/2         cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)

1/3         cup tapioca flour

1/4         cup sweet rice flour

1             tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4         teaspoon salt or 1/16 teaspoon (pinch) if using buttery spread

1/8         teaspoon (dash) xanthan gum

1/16       teaspoon (pinch) baking soda

6             tablespoons unsalted butter or buttery spread

3              tablespoon milk of choice

RASPBERRY FILLING

1              cup fresh raspberries

2              tablespoons good-quality raspberry jam (I like Bonne Maman, found in grocery stores)

1 to 2     teaspoons water

[1] Place racks in the bottom and middle positions of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 375⁰F.

[2] In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, sugar, salt, xanthan gum, and baking soda until well blended. With an electric mixer on Low speed, beat in the butter and milk on low speed until small clumps form.  If the dough shapes into a cohesive ball with your hands, it is ready. If not, beat in water, (a 1 teaspoon at a time,) until the dough is ready. Knead the dough with your hands until it is very smooth.

[3] Divide the dough in half and freeze one -half, tightly wrapped, for another use. Divide the remaining dough in half and shape each half into a ball. Place one ball in the center of a 3.5 to 4-inch nonstick tart pan that has fluted edges. With your fingers, press the dough evenly on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Repeat with the remaining dough in the second tart pan.  Place both pans on a rimmed baking sheet. With a fork, prick the bottoms and sides of the dough a few times.

[4] Bake the tarts on the bottom rack of the oven for 5 minutes. Shift the pans to the next middle rack and bake for another 10 minutes or until the edges of the pastry start to brown. Remove the pans from the oven and cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack.

[5] Arrange the raspberries in a single layer in the two crusts. Whisk the water into the jam until the jam is a glazing consistency. Heat the jam in the microwave on Low power just until the jam is melted, about 5 seconds. Pour the jam over the raspberries in each crust and use a pastry brush or fork to nudge the jam into the nooks and crannies between the raspberries and out to the edges of the crust. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

Makes 2 tarts (each 3.5 to 4-inches in diameter)

Per tart: 385calories; 2g protein; 18g total fat; 5g fiber; 55g carbohydrates; 47mg cholesterol; 192mg sodium

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups brown rice flour (or sorghum flour)

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca starch/flour

Whisk together until thoroughly blended. Store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place.

 

Super Bowl Tacos: Easy Eats for Game Day

Regardless of how you feel about the teams in this year’s Super Bowl, most of us will undoubtedly be watching on February 3. For me, it’s more about the ads than the game itself. As you may have guessed, I’m not a huge football fan.  In fact, I once took my knitting to a neighborhood Super Bowl party and was never invited back! I actually found the knitting more fascinating then the game.

Crispy Beef Tacos

Crispy Beef Tacos

But I like the ads, so I will tune in on February 3. I also like listening to the media analysis afterwards about how the ads did/did not do a good job of reflecting current societal issues (such as racism, MeToo movement, politics, etc.) As a sociologist, I find this more interesting than how the teams perform.

WHAT FOOD TO SERVE?

But enough about football.  I do get excited about the food for Super Bowl Sunday. What should we eat?

I want something that can remain appetizing despite 3 ½ to 4 hours on the serving table. The food should also be packed with flavor, yet modifiable so that guests who like less spice can be accommodated. It should be easily and quickly assembled so I can fill my plate and get back to the television without missing anything.

And, I want to return to the serving table again (and again) throughout this nearly 4-hour event. And the side dishes and dessert must be tasty, but easily served. So, here’s my menu for Super Bowl Sunday. You can add your favorite dishes as you see fit.

Super Bowl Menu

Tacos (meat served from a slow-cooker to stay warm). All other ingredients in bowls.

Guacamole and chips

Mixed-Green Salad

Dessert: cookies or brownies

SUPER BOWL TACOS

Reprinted with permission from  Gluten-Free Cooking for Two by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

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Anything goes when it comes to tacos. I usually use leftover cooked meat (usually browned ground beef or shredded pork) that I have in the fridge or freezer, but you can use browned ground turkey as well. Instead of crispy tacos, you can also use soft white or yellow corn tortillas and pinto or black beans in place of meat, if you’re vegetarian. Just check the label on the tortillas to make sure they are gluten-free since some corn tortilla brands also include wheat. This recipe makes 6 regular-size tacos; simply double the ingredients to make 12 tacos.

3/4         cup browned ground beef or turkey (or shredded pork)

Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)

1 ½ – 2   teaspoons chili powder, or to taste

1/4         cup diced red onion

1/2         diced tomato 

1/4         cup store-bought Mexican salsa

1/4         cup shredded cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese, or a mixture of cheese

1/2         cup shredded iceberg lettuce (or lettuce of your choice)

1/4         cup chopped fresh cilantro

6            gluten-free crisp corn taco shells

[1] In a small skillet over medium heat, toss the browned ground beef with the salt and pepper (if using) and chili powder and then heat to serving temperature.

[2] For each taco, layer the beef, onion, tomato, salsa, cheese, lettuce, and cilantro in a taco shell. Serve immediately. Makes 6 tacos.

Per taco:  505 calories; 23g protein; 32 g total fat; 6g fiber; 33g carbohydrates; 79mg cholesterol; 466mg sodium

Gingerbread: The Perfect Winter Dessert

Cold, snowy weather means it’s baking time at my house. In fact, it’s snowing hard right now and visibility is low. Good idea to stay indoors!

Gingerbread for Two

Gingerbread for Two

There’s something about this kind of weather that sends me to kitchen to create wonderful aromas and eating pleasure. This means Gingerbread. The spices fill my kitchen with deliciously taunting aromas.

I’m not entertaining any guests this week and I don’t want a lot of leftovers sitting around, so I downsized my traditional recipe to serve just my husband and me. (If you want to bake full-size Gingerbread, use the recipe from my book, Gluten-Free 101, 2013 edition).

And, here’s the recipe below, a cute little loaf that will delight your senses.  Enjoy!!!

GINGERBREAD

Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

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Decidedly aromatic, this spicy gingerbread fills your kitchen with delicious smells …making it the perfect dessert for a cold winter day—or anytime the urge strikes. It keeps nicely on the countertop, so you can enjoy it for a couple of days after baking. Topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a twist of lemon, it’s divine.

Makes a 3¼ x5¾-inch loaf, 4 small slices

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Baking time: 20 to 25 minutes

 

[1/3]      cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)

3             tablespoons packed brown sugar

[1/4]      teaspoon each ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves

[1/16]    teaspoon grated nutmeg

[1/4]      teaspoon xanthan gum

[1/8]      teaspoon baking powder

[1/8]     teaspoon salt

[1/16]    teaspoon baking soda

2             tablespoons canola oil

2             tablespoons molasses

1             large egg, at room temperature

[1] Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a 3 ¼ x5 ¾-inch nonstick (gray, not black) loaf pan.

[2] In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until well blended. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat in the oil, molasses, and egg until well blended, about 30 seconds. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.

[3] Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the gingerbread comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the gingerbread in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, cut into 4 slices, and serve slightly warm.

Per slice: 188 calories; 2g protein; 8g total fat; 1g fiber; 28g carbohydrates; 47mgs cholesterol;  66mgs sodium

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups brown rice flour

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour

Whisk together until thoroughly blended and store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place.

Sheet-Pan Supper of Roasted Fish and Vegetables

The holidays are over, winter is here with its snow and cold, and I’m ready for oven meals. I love the smell of something delicious roasting in the oven; it just seems so appropriate on a cold wintry day and evokes the idea of home and “hygge”—the Scandinavian word for coziness and comfort.

Sheet-Pan Supper of Roasted Fish & Vegetables

Sheet-Pan Supper of Roasted Fish and Vegetables. Photo by Tom Hirschfeld

Since it’s just the two of us, I now turn to my book Gluten-Free Cooking for Two for inspiration.  One of my favorite recipes for two people involves roasting an entire dinner on a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet. This is not a new concept, but one I had never tried until recently. Now it is one of my “go-to” dinners.

This idea allows me to cook only as much food as we need for one meal, without leftovers. I realize that some people love leftovers (actually, I do too). However, my husband doesn’t!! So, it’s easier and I waste less food if I just cook enough for two in the first place.

What is a Sheet-Pan Supper?

It basically consists of roasting the entire meal—potatoes, meat, and vegetables—on the same sheet, leaving almost no dishes to clean up. If you choose colorful ingredients, it is also a gorgeous dish because the “pink” of the salmon contrasts beautifully with the red and yellow tomatoes and the green asparagus.

The idea behind sheet-pan roasting is to first roast the foods that take longest to cook (in this case, potatoes), then add the vegetables and fish later and finish roasting it all together. Clean-up is easy, since you just have one pan to wash.

In case you’re not a two-person family, don’t worry. Double the recipe and either use two 9×13-inch pans (known as quarter-sheet pans) or use one 13×18-inch pan (known as a half-sheet pan) and you can serve 4 to 6 people.

Sheet-Pan Supper of Roasted Fish & Vegetables

Reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Cooking for Two by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

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Making meals the “sheet-pan” way works especially well when cooking for two because an entire meal fits in one 9×13-inch pan. You begin roasting the food(s) that take longest to cook such as potatoes, adding additional foods (fish, vegetables) later, since they cook faster.  If your vegetables are especially delicate (or if you prefer them streamed) layer them under the fish.

1/2         pound (2 cups, about 6 potatoes) small Yukon gold potatoes or fingerlings, halved 

1              tablespoon olive oil

3/4         teaspoon dried herbs of your choice (I like oregano or tarragon for this dish)

1/4         teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4         teaspoon salt

1/8         teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2              5-ounce salmon fillets

1              cup thin asparagus in 1/2-inch pieces

1/2         cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1              fresh lemon, cut into 2 halves, for garnish

[1] Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425⁰F.  Line a 9×13-inch nonstick (gray, not black) rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly grease or use a 10-inch greased ovenproof skillet.

[2] In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes, [1/4] teaspoon of the herbs, and smoked paprika with the olive oil until well coated. Arrange evenly, cut side down, on the baking sheet and roast 20 minutes.

[3] Arrange the salmon, asparagus, and tomatoes on top of the potatoes and sprinkle with the remaining [1/2] teaspoon herbs and the salt and pepper. Continue to roast until the salmon is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. Serve with lemon wedges, for garnish.

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Roasting time: 30 minutes. Makes 2 servings

Per serving: 345 calories; 33g protein; 12g total fat; 4g fiber; 29g carbohydrates; 74mg cholesterol; 374mg sodium

NOTE: You can also vary this dish: instead of potatoes, use cauliflower flowerets. Use cod or sole instead of salmon, 1/8-inch red bell pepper strips instead of tomatoes, or broccoli florets or snow peas instead of asparagus—and monitor the roasting times accordingly. Generally speaking, the thinner and less dense the food, the shorter the cooking time. So, put the more delicate vegetables under the fish. You can also vary the herbs. I often use thyme, but tarragon or rosemary would be nice. If you have it, fresh dill would be superb.  The smoked paprika is something I use in many foods because it lends a nice depth to the flavors. You could also try smoked salt to replace it.

 

Easy, Last-Minute Holiday Gift Idea

Need a last-minute gift? This festive layer-bar is perfect with its chocolate crust and decadent layers. Assemble this easy mix in 3-cup glass jars and store in a dark, dry place until gift-giving time. You can also include a can of sweetened condensed milk, but for your dairy-intolerant recipients you might include a jar of your homemade sweetened condensed milk (see recipe below) or a can of Let’s Do…Organic brand sweetened condensed milk that is made from coconut milk.

Layer Bar Mix for Holiday Gift-Giving

And be sure to include the instructions—printed on a festive recipe card and tied to the jar—so the lucky recipient knows how to prepare this decadent treat. In fact, why not make one for yourself while you’re at it! My version is for Christmas (e.g., candy canes) but you can tailor this to suit the occasion. For a non-Christmas version, I would try butterscotch or peanut butter chips in place of the candy canes.

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LAYER BAR MIX IN A JAR
1/4 cup chopped candy canes
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup crushed GF cookies (such as Pamela’s Dark Chocolate, Chocolate Chunk Cookies or Pamela’s Honey Graham Crackers)

INGREDIENTS TO BE ADDED BY GIFT-RECIPIENT
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or buttery spread, melted
7 ounces (half of 14-ounce can) sweetened condensed milk (see homemade recipe below)

ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE GIFT-GIVER
In 3-cup glass jar with screw-top lid (a 24-ounce Classico pasta sauce jar works perfectly), layer ingredients, starting with candy canes and then chocolate chips, coconut, pecans, and white chocolate chips. Spoon crushed cracker crumbs into small plastic bag and place on top of layers. Screw on lid, cover the lid with 6-inch circle of colorful wrapping paper or cloth, tie a festive bow over the paper-covered lid, and affix the recipe card to bow with more ribbon. Store in dark, dry place away from sunlight (so chips don’t melt).

BAKING INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE GIFT-RECIPIENT
Preheat oven to 350⁰F and coat 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Remove cookie crumbs from jar and combine with melted butter. Press evenly into bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle remaining mix ingredients over crumb mixture. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly on top. Bake until chips are melted, about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 16 small bars.

Dairy-Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
Reprinted with permission from 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster (Avery/Penguin Group, 2011)
Quite often, gluten-free folks are also dairy-sensitive. If so, look for store-bought version of sweetened condensed milk that is dairy-free such as Let’s Do…Organic made with coconut milk. If you can’t find it, make this easy version at home. It makes the equivalent of a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, about 1 ¼ cups.

1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sweet rice flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk of choice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or buttery spread
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

[1] In a small, heavy saucepan whisk together the sugar, sweet rice flour, and salt until thoroughly blended. Whisk in the milk until smooth, then add the butter and heat the mixture on medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens slightly, about 3 to 4 minutes.

[2] Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and butter. Cool to room temperature to thicken a bit more. It is best used at room temperature; can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks but bring to room temperature again before using. Be sure to keep refrigerated until gift-giving time and tell the lucky recipient that it must be refrigerated.

Half of the Sweetened Condensed Milk recipe: 420 calories; 6g protein; 13g total fat; .5g fiber; 72g carbohydrates; 36mgs cholesterol; 197mgs sodium

 

Gluten-Free Pecan-Bourbon-Chocolate Pie

What is your favorite holiday pie?
It’s a toss-up for me when it comes to holiday pies: pumpkin or pecan. I love them both.

This year, for the first time ever, I’m ordering my Thanksgiving pies from a gluten-free bakery. A new one opened just a block from my house (Wave the Grain) and I want to try the pumpkin and pecan versions.

Gluten-free Pecan Pie jazzed up with Bourbon and Chocolate

Gluten-free Pecan Pie jazzed up with Bourbon and Chocolate

But I will probably still make homemade pies for Christmas, probably this pecan pie that’s jazzed up to include bourbon (yes, it’s gluten-free because it is distilled) and a touch of chocolate. I’m not going to provide the calorie/nutrient information on this recipe because, trust me, you don’t want to know. Just enjoy it and resolve to live well in 2019. You earned the right to enjoy a little decadence this year!

Pie-Crust Challenged?
If you’re horrified at the thought of making your own gluten-free pie crust, try a store-bought mix. Or, if you don’t want to mix or shape the dough yourself, buy a ready-made pie crust at your favorite natural food store. They are sold in ready-to-bake form in an aluminum pie pan, although I prefer using a nonstick pan (gray finish, not black to avoid burning) for better browning. This lessens the potential sogginess sometimes found in gluten-free pie crusts.

Gluten-Free Pecan-Bourbon-Chocolate Pie
Adapted from 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008)
Among the most decadent of pies, this remains a favorite at my house. Yes, it’s highly-caloric, but I give you permission to savor it once a year. The addition of bourbon and chocolate elevate this holiday favorite to new heights, but you can omit them if you wish. Enjoy!

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

9-inch gluten-free pie crust (recipe in Gluten-Free 101, 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes)
2 tablespoons milk of choice, for brushing on pastry crust
2 cups pecan halves
¼ cup chocolate chips
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups dark (or light) corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or buttery spread, at room temperature
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon bourbon or rum (or pure vanilla extract)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whipped topping

[1] Place a rack in the bottom position and another in the middle position of oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare the pastry dough as directed in your recipe or use a premade crust. Brush outer edges of crust with milk to encourage browning. Arrange pecan halves on bottom of pie crust and sprinkle with chocolate chips.

[2] Make the filling: In a food processor fitted with knife blade, combine filling ingredients and blend until thoroughly combined and very smooth. Or, blend with an electric mixer until very smooth. Pour mixture over pecans in pie shell. Place pie pan on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven.

[3] Bake 20 minutes. Move the pie to the middle rack and continue baking for another 30 to 35 minutes more or until the filling is set. If the crust starts to brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.

[4] Remove pie to wire rack and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving to make sure pie is firm enough to cut. Cut into 8 slices. Serve with a tablespoon of whipped topping.

Focaccia

Of all the foods we crave on a gluten-free diet, bread is always at the top of the list. Especially homemade bread. But many of us assume that there isn’t time to bake bread when we barely have time to get dinner on the table, let alone fuss with yeast and rising times, etc.

Gluten-Free Focaccia

Gluten-Free Focaccia

Personally, I love the aroma is bread baking in the oven. But when I’m baking bread for just my husband and me I don’t want a full-size recipe. I want just enough bread for us. So, when I wrote my recent cookbook, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, I included a small recipe for Focaccia just for the two of us. So, here is my small-batch version.

FOCACCIA

Reproduced with permission from  Gluten-Free Cooking for Two by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

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Focaccia is a flatbread, similar to pizza. One of the easiest yeast breads you will ever make, this downsized recipe is full of flavor. It makes a 4×8-inch loaf that is about 1 1/2-inches high. Like most gluten-free yeast breads, this one is best when eaten the same day it is baked.

DOUGH

1             teaspoon active dry yeast

1              teaspoon sugar

[1/3]      cup warm (110°F) milk of choice

[3/4]      cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)

[1/2]      teaspoon xanthan gum

1              teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or [1/2] teaspoon dried (crushed in your palm)

[1/4]      teaspoon onion powder

[1/8]      teaspoon salt

1             large egg, at room temperature

1              tablespoon olive oil (plus more for the pan)

1             teaspoon cider vinegar

TOPPING

2              teaspoons olive oil

[1/2]      teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or [1/4] teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

[1/8]      teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt

1             tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese or soy Parmesan, for garnish

[1] Make the dough: In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm milk. Set aside to foam for about 5 minutes. Generously coat a 4×8-inch nonstick pan (gray, not black) with olive oil.

[2] In a medium mixing bowl, beat the yeast-milk mixture and all of the remaining dough ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed until blended. The dough will be very soft and sticky.

[3] With a wet spatula, spread the dough evenly in the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and let rise at room temperature (75⁰F to 85⁰F) until the dough is doubled in height, about 30 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle the dough with the topping of oil, rosemary, salt, and Parmesan cheese.

[4] While the bread rises, place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400⁰F. Bake the bread until the top is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into 8 slices with an electric or serrated knife before serving slightly warm.

per serving: 110 calories; 3 g protein; 3g total fat; 1g fiber; 19 grams carbohydrates; 38 mgs cholesterol; 181 mgs sodium

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups sorghum flour (or brown rice flour)

1 ½ cups potato starch (not potato flour)

1 cup tapioca flour/starch

Whisk together until thoroughly combined and store, tightly closed, in a dark, dry place.

Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread (Vegan, Too)

Fall is here and I love it! The crisp cool air, the longer shadows, the colorful leaves. But most of all, I love the smells.

Pumpkin Bread for  Two

Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread for Two

Every time I walk into a Starbucks coffee shop I want a slice of their yummy-looking pumpkin spice bread that smells so heavenly because of all those wonderful spices. 

But there are only two of us in my house, so a full-size loaf is too much. Many of you have said you agree with me: you don’t want to bake a standard-size loaf that will spoil before you can eat it all. And, some of you tell me you don’t have enough room in your freezer.

So here is my small-batch version that can be egg-free (vegan), if necessary. But first, a little background on small-batch baking.

Small Batch Baking for Small Households

Today, more Americans are living in small households, such as 28% of the 115 million “solo” households in 2011, compared with 26% in 2000. According to USA Today, the largest jump is among seniors who are part of the 77 million baby boomers that become “empty-nesters” when the kids leave home.

In my travels around the country, I meet other “family” configurations: two-roommate households, one or two members within larger families who must eat differently than the rest of the family, and so on.

The Importance of Precise Measuring in Small-Batch Baking

What I have learned from small-batch baking is that precise measuring is even more critical to success here than in standard-size recipes. Scaling a recipe that serves four down to two servings isn’t as simple as dividing everything in half. Far from it!

In some ways, small-scale recipes needed even more testing than regular recipes because there is a smaller margin of error. Lack of precision here or there can throw off the delicate balance between liquid and dry ingredients. So, when this recipe calls for 1/16 teaspoon of baking soda be sure to use only that amount which is half of 1/8 teaspoon. If you plan to do lots of small-batch baking, invest in a set of mini-measuring spoons so you can be precise.

What Do Those Mysterious Terms Mean?

In some recipes, you may see mysterious terms such as a “pinch” or “dash.” Here’s what those terms mean:

TAD = 1/4 teaspoon

DASH = 1/8 teaspoon

PINCH = 1/16 teaspoon

SMIDGEN = 1/32 teaspoon

DROP = 1/64 teaspoon

Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread for Two

Recipe by Carol Fenster, author of Gluten-Free Cooking for Two (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017)

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I always crave the pumpkin spice bread at coffee shops. Here is my small-scale version. Your kitchen will smell heavenly and this cute little loaf also make a great gift for a gluten-free friend. For an egg-free version, omit the egg and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water instead.

1 large egg, at room temperature

[1/2] cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

3 tablespoons canola oil

[1/2] cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)

[1/3] cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

[1/2] teaspoon baking powder

[1/2] teaspoon xanthan gum

[1/4] (rounded) teaspoon salt

[1/16] teaspoon baking soda (pinch)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon chopped raw pumpkin seeds

[1] Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Generously grease a 3 1/4 x 5 3/4-inch nonstick (gray, not black) loaf pan.

[2] In a small bowl, whisk together the egg (or 1 to 2 tablespoons water for egg-free), pumpkin, and oil until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice until well blended. With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually beat the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until blended. Spread the batter evenly in the pan and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds evenly on top, slightly pressing them into the batter with your fingers.

[3] Bake until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the bread and cool on the wire rack for another 10 minutes. Use a serrated knife or an electric knife to cut into 6 slices and serve slightly warm or at room temperature

Makes one 3 ¼ x 5 ¾ -inch loaf; 6 slices

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Baking time: 35 to 40 minutes

Per serving: 165 calories; 2 grams protein; 8 grams total fat; 1grams fiber; 23 grams carbohydrates; 31 mgs cholesterol; 165 mgs sodium

 Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 ½ cups sorghum flour

1 ½ cups potato starch

1 cup tapioca flour/starch

Whisk together until well blended and store, tightly covered in a dark, dry place.

Homemade Dill Pickles (for non-canners)

Homemade Dill Pickles

Homemade Dill Pickles are gluten-free and don’t require canning equipment.

Summer’s garden bounty is in full-swing and Farmer’s Markets are bursting at the seams with lovely fresh produce. I always buy far more than I need, but I just can’t resist.

One of the vegetables that beckons to me is small, Kirby cucumbers—just right for pickling. In fact, sometimes they are labeled “picklers” and I found some at a local Farmer’s Market near my home. But the thought of hauling out all of the usual canning equipment to make pickles does not excite me at all.

In other words, I’m not a canner.

Instead, I make my dill pickles the quick way—overnight—brining in the fridge. One taste and you’re hooked: the flavor is fresh and “dilly” but low in sodium because you control the salt. And, I just step outside to my patio to pick fresh dill but you can find it in supermarkets in the produce section. The best part to me, besides the flavor, is that the pickles are crisp and crunchy.

Here is the easy recipe for these delicious pickles, which keep for about a week in the fridge. Don’t worry, they won’t last that long!

HOMEMADE DILL PICKLES

By Carol Fenster

Choose the small, Kirby cucumbers for this recipe for the best results—they fit more easily in my canning jars. This small recipe makes enough for two small (16-ounce) jars, but use whatever size jars fit your pickle length.  I prefer using fresh dill from my backyard herb garden, but you can use dill seed.

3 small pickling (Kirby) cucumbers

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

2 sprigs (about ½ ounce) fresh dill (or ½ teaspoon dill seed)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

¼ small onion, sliced

1 cup water

¾ cup white wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon sugar

[1] Wash and quarter the cucumbers lengthwise into spears and divide evenly between two canning jars. Divide the peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill, garlic, and onion evenly between the jars.

[2] In a small saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved and then divided evenly between the two jars. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Keeps for 1 week, refrigerated. Makes 12 pickles.

Per pickle:  16 Calories ; 0g Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 1g Protein;1g Fiber;4g Carbohydrates; 48mg Sodium;  0mg Cholesterol