Gluten-Free Bacon Poutine Pizza

I’m a stickler for tradition with poutine. In order for it to be poutine, it HAS to have:

1. Fries
2. Proper sauce
3. Actual, fresh, NOT DEEP FRIED cheese curds.

I’m ok with the addition of most items (I like to add bacon and green onion slices to mine), so long as it has the basics, and doesn’t go OVERBOARD with the additions. Toppings shouldn’t eclipse the base ingredients, just accent them!

The other day, my friend Karine Charlebois posted about “Poutizza” (in THIS mini comic), and I knew I’d have to make some. Not only is actual poutine NOT available in Minneapolis, but hey – I’m gluten-free on top of it.

I did have to make some tweaks to my go-to poutine recipe, though. I decided on oven fries, as baking deep fried fries would give them a gross texture. Also, not a ton of sense going to all the extra effort and fat of deep frying, when they’re going to end up baked on a pizza anyway.

Also, I played with the viscosity of my sauce, so it would act as both poutine sauce, AND “pizza sauce”. The mozzarella cheese is considered part of the pizza, and not part of the poutine… because if you put shredded cheese on “poutine”, you don’t deserve poutine anyway 🙂

Told you I was a stickler 🙂

The crust on this pizza is great – not dry, crumbly, or gummy at all, just a great, doughy pizza. My not-gluten-free husband loved it, and insists that no one would know it was gf – it really has a great taste and texture!

He would also like to add: “I like the gravy as pizza sauce, it has that nice seasoned saltiness you expect from a pizza sauce but yet it’s completely different. It’s fun and different, and really good!”

Anyway.

Before I get to the recipe, one final thought: today is launch day for my Beyond Flour 2 Kickstarter!

I’m so excited for this book to come out – I’m already over 2/3 the way through developing it, and there are some amazing recipes in there. I’ve perfected a gluten-free samosa that even tastes great as leftovers, AND there are flaky, tasty, easy to make cracker recipes – that don’t cost a fortune – among all kinds of other delicious things.

So, if you love great gluten-free recipes, be sure to check it out and back it ASAP! (please and thank you!) The first day of a campaign is critical to its success – having a popular campaign right off the bat brings all kinds of perks from Kickstarter, and definitely increases the chances that it will successfully fund! 🙂

Backers will receive their copies at least a month before the general release, AND will get them for about 20% off the cover price!

Now, on to the pizza … enjoy!

Gluten-Free Poutine Pizza

Makes a 13-14″ pizza

Crust:

1 1/2 cups Warm water
2 tbsp Liquid honey
2 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups Light buckwheat flour
3/4 cup Brown rice flour
3/4 cup Sorghum flour
1/2 cup Potato starch (plus extra for rolling)
1 Tbsp Tapioca starch
2 tsp Xanthan gum
1/4 cup Olive oil

Poutine Sauce:

1/4 cup Butter
1/3 cup Brown Rice Flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 cups beef broth
1 cup chicken broth
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp+ ground black pepper
salt to taste

Toppings:

1/2 of a 26 oz bag Crispy oven fries
1/2 lb Bacon
1-2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 pack FRESH cheese curds (~12 oz)
Green onions, sliced

Add honey and salt to warm water, stir till well blended. Add yeast and stir again. Allow to sit (somewhere warm!) for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flours, starches, and xanthan gum. Add olive oil, mixing until evenly distributed. Add yeast mixture, mix well. Dough should ball up a bit, but be a bit sticky. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, allow to rise in a warm area for 1 hour.

Preheat oven for the fries, make the sauce:

In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add rice flour, stir well until fully incorporated. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until flour mixture becomes the color of peanut butter. This is called a roux, and cooking it to this level will impart a nice, somewhat nutty flavor to the sauce.

Once roux has obtained the right color, whisk in cornstarch, until smooth. Once cornstarch is incorporated, slowly add broth. It will steam like CRAZY, so be careful. Stir as you go, until sauce is smooth. Taste, season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer on medium heat for a few minutes, until slightly thickened. This is not supposed to be a super thick gravy! Once the sauce is a good consistency, remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare oven fries according to directions on package. Set aside.

Chop bacon into small pieces, fry until crisp. Set aside, reserving the drippings.

Preheat oven to 450F, if it’s not already at temperature from the fries. Line large pizza pan with parchment paper, if it’s not nonstick. Brush lightly with liquid bacon drippings.

Generously dust work surface with potato starch. Roll each dough into a large 13″ round. Transfer to pizza pan.

Using a pastry brush, spread a very thin coat of liquid bacon drippings over the entire top side of crust. Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove crust from the oven. Spread some poutine sauce over prepared pizza crust. Scatter Mozzarella across the pizza, followed by fries, curds, and more sauce*. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until mozzarella is bubbly and starting to brown. Remove from oven, top with green onions, serve hot.

* For more authentic poutine involvement, scatter mozzarella on pizza, bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, top with fries, curds, and hot gravy, and serve immediately. This will prevent the curds from melting all over the pizza!

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Tornado Recovery Update: Iron River Construction Review

Last night I received a disturbing, unprofessional email from the construction company we hired after the tornado. I’m still not sure if the fact that yesterday was exactly 4 years and six months from the day of the tornado makes the ordeal we’ve been going through even more sad, or if I should laugh about the timing of the email.

Back when I wrote Twisted: A Minneapolis Tornado Memoir, I raced to get it released for the 1st anniversary of the tornado. I thought we’d be done everything, and that anything left would be minor. Little did I know that 4.5 years after the tornado – to the day – I’d find myself looking up what all agencies I have to report the construction company to.

It’s been a long and sordid tale, much of which never made it into the book. So, allow me to update… you might want some popcorn for this, as it’s pretty ridiculous. I actually have no idea how to lay it all out here, either… I think I’ll just post in chronological order, going on a series of Yelp reviews I posted as this happened:

*****

September 9, 2015 : My First Review of Iron River Construction

We hired Iron River for major repairs after a tornado destroyed our house in 2011. It’s now 2015, they’re not finished, and … this review is going to be a really mixed bag.

A friend recommended Iron River to us, and they were really happy with work they’d had done. We met with the owner, Tracy, and really liked what she had to say. She was down to earth, nice, and we could tell she wasn’t one of those con artist types that had been SO prevalent in the area after the tornado. We hired her.

Things started out wonderfully. They were fast, efficient, very patient and understanding. Pete (I don’t believe he’s with them anymore) was particularly amazing. At one point during the tornado repairs, he even offered to go get some chicken soup for me when I was sick. I didn’t take him up on it, but still appreciate the offer. Tracy offered up the use of her roofing crew – directly, not through Iron River – to move a large tree log out of our backyard and into a truck for me to bring to a mill., and that saved us a ton of stress. I appreciated it!

When a problem came up (the roofers damaged the skylight), Iron River replaced it with NO fuss or charge to us. We were very happy with their service, and I enthusiastically recommended them to several friends as a result.

Once the roof was replaced and we started work on the kitchen, the problems started. We were now dealing with Rick as a the project manager, and it was terrible. He was rude, condescending, and kept giving us dates that he would then slack off on – despite having them written in a contract! – when something “bigger” came up. He flat out told us on more than one occasion that a more important job had bumped our kitchen. Well, great. I was less than thrilled about some mansion in Stillwater getting a fancy remodel, when I didn’t have a usable kitchen (ie: after a tree had come through the roof, it was GUTTED. Electrical, plumbing, everything had to be redone.). We asked for a different foreman – ideally Pete – and Tracy agreed, but that never happened. At one point, the gutted kitchen sat untouched for over a week, as we were constantly bumped for other jobs.

The communication with Rick was beyond terrible; there were all sorts of issues. At one point we had a plumber thinking that he was handling our bathroom remodel – that had never even been a consideration. Rick expected me to drop what I was doing to call the plumber up and tell him that no, this wasn’t the case. I had to take time to deal with HIS poor communication.

At another point, Rick gave us two hours notice that there would be a window inspection happening, with a three hour window of when that would happen… and the inspector never showed up. Completely wasted our day, scrambling to make sure we’d be there for it with NO notice.. For nothing.

When the kitchen work was finally complete, we were very happy with the quality of work – just very unhappy with how it had been handled. We had enough stress on our plate from the tornado, and the tons of other things we had to deal with surrounding that . You hire a contractor to deal with a big repair and get all of the individual stresses OFF your plate. We really feel that Rick added far more stress than hiring Iron River for the kitchen actually mitigated, in the end.

Things got extremely awkward for us when they had some interoffice drama. One of their construction guys who’d been working on our house – Steve – apparently had an affair with their receptionist, who was married to one of their other contractors… the guy who would be doing the wrapped trim on our windows, as well as the gutters and everything. It was all kinds of drama that we did NOT need to be exposed to, and got really weird and uncomfortable when the receptionist would invite herself over to hang out with him while he worked, at one point bringing her kid with her. I don’t believe either of them are still with the company, though.

After inspection, we were told that the new windows Iron River installed were not up to code by both the front door AND the back door. They sent someone by to install window film on the back, but he neglected to put the stickers on to indicate that they’d been treated with the film to bring them up to code. This was in 2011.

Since 2011, I’ve been calling and emailing Iron River every few months, trying to either get the information for the installer, or to get them to send him back out with the stickers, and to deal with the front window. At first I was told that Tracy would have to look it up and get back to me, then the calls and emails just went completely unreturned.

*****

September 29, 2015 : My Second (Updated) Review of Iron River Construction.
Had to post as a second review a bit later, as the first was WAY too long, Yelp cut it off and made me wait!

In May of 2015, we were hit with a crazy hail storm, and the insurance company wrote off both new roofs – house and garage. As we were 100% happy with the roofing portion of our dealing with Iron River, we thought that this could be a good opportunity to finally get the windows finished also. We called them in on this set of repairs. We heard back from them on May 13, 2015.The claims adjuster came on May 21, and Iron River sent their new Sales Manager to meet with him / us.

Mark, the new sales manager was VERY understanding and apologetic about the 4 years of nagging with no results. I told him that before we would get the roof done, they would need to bring our windows up to code, per the original contract. He agreed, and was very reasonable about it. He talked about how important customer satisfaction was to him, etc. We believed him.

May 29 the installer sent the stickers to them for the kitchen windows. June 5th, they came by with the stickers. June 25th, they received the window film to treat our front windows, and told me I’d be contacted shortly for install .On Jun 29th, They installed the film on the front windows… and found that the windows hadn’t even been installed properly.

June 30th, we woke up to see that the film was bubbling and peeling horribly. From the street, our front windows looked like they’d been smashed! We immediately got a hold of Iron River, who told us that there must have been sap on the windows to prevent adhesion. … even though there are no trees anywhere nearby, as we lost them all in the tornado. He said that they would go ahead and order tempered glass window sashes, as they should have in the first place.

Then we didn’t hear anything for a month.

July 27th, we were told that the window had been ordered, and should be in that same week, or early the following week. I asked if they were still interested in quoting for roof damage, did not get a reply on that.

August 3rd, Mark emailed to say that they were expecting the windows that week and we’d be contacted shortly.

August 6th he emailed to say that the windows had arrived, and we’d be contacted shortly.

August 14th he emailed to ask if we’d heard from the installers yet. This annoyed me, because it came off like the left hand didn’t know what the right was doing. No, we had not heard from them.

August 17th, we finally heard from Greg, one of the installer, who said he’d be calling us that week. At this point, our front windows have looked smashed for over a month and a half. Very trashy and embarrassing.

August 24th, they brought and finally installed the window sashes

As I post this, it is September 9th. The roofing company we settled on when this all started going south is currently up fixing the roof, and Mark from Iron River JUST emailed to ask me if we still want them to do the roof.

Going more than 4 years with repair permits taped to our kitchen door- that could not be closed out without the windows being brought up to code – really wears on a person. The first 6 months-1 year after the tornado was incredibly hard. We got almost everything done in that time, just a few cosmetic things yet to do. We just wanted to move on from the tornado, and not have that reminder there every day, telling us that it STILL wasn’t over. 4 YEARS! For just stickers and film on the front windows.

I guess they had bigger jobs to focus on… but I’m really unhappy to have been left hanging like that, for so long. Tracy knew the toll the tornado had been taking on us. They did SO much work, so well, and had been so good through most of the process (with the glaring exception of Rick). It really sucks to be left with such a negative final review on them, over 4 stinking windows.

Window

The window, the day after film installation. The photo doesn’t do justice to how awful it looked – the neighbour across the street stopped me to ask if we’d been vandalized!

*****

At this point, I thought things were done. We had the windows, I had left a very fair review. Over a month later, I was shocked to receive a notification that my review had a reply from Tracy, the owner of Iron River – she had not emailed me about ANY of this, the whole time.

IronRiver1

*****

October 20, 2015 : My Third (Updated) Review of Iron River Construction.

Addressing Tracy’s response:

That’s an interesting interpretation. Where to start?

Maybe with the personal attack, as I was nothing but fair to you in this review. I’m blown away that you would blantantly lie about me in response.

For one, we decided not to contract with the first person who we signed with, as the owner of the company decided that his son had under quoted, and wanted to jack the price way up AFTER we paid the deposit on our agreed pricing. He was rude, so we did not hire him. That’s it – no one was “thrown off” anyone’s property. I’m not sure where a second contractor came in?

I’ll address the “very high maintenance, difficult and demanding person” in a minute..

You guys went the extra mile at first (aside from the kitchen problems), while there was still a lot of work to be done. That is why I recomended you guys to friends 4 years ago, and why I gave positive reviews back then.

When it came to the very last bit – bringing your window install up to code – I could not even get a returned call from you, for several years.

It took 4 years of nagging you for your window guy to bring the stickers to get ANY response on that. How difficult would it have been to have him bring the stickers for the back window, and schedule the film to be installed on the front windows? That was 4 years of us not being able to clear out our permits. I don’t think it’s “demanding and difficult” to expect you to bring that up to code faster than *four years*!

The only reason we called you about the roof was because you HAD done a good job with that, and we were hoping you’d see it as incentive to *finally* bring the windows up to code. Even that took a ton of nagging, with a lot of dropped communication. We’re thankful it was finally done.

Calling for that one new project after 4 years is not “called again and again for multiple projects over the years”, by the way. You did the tornado repairs. We didn’t call to hire for anything over 4 years . We called for the hail damage this year.

I have, however, called many times in the past four years to ask you to bring your window job up to code.

Very disappointed in this response.

*****

November 15, 2015 : My Fourth (Updated) Review of Iron River Construction.

And we have another update in this ongoing saga of the not-up-to-code window.

On November 4th, I was sitting at my desk when I heard a noise up front. Went to investigate, found that the entire sheet of film on the lower front window sash (the indoor one) had just fallen off, right onto the floor.

I emailed Mark at Iron River immediately, letting him know what happened, and asked if there was something wrong something wrong with that batch of film, for the outdoor one to bubble and peel up, and this one to just fall off. They had tried to blame tree sap (despite no trees around) for the failure of the outdoor film installation, I had NO idea what would explain the indoor one just falling off.

… it’s now November 15, a full week and a half later, and Iron River has yet to reply to my email. This is *beyond* ridiculous.

*****

Window2

Window film doesn’t do a lot of good when it’s sitting on the ground

*****

November 22, 2015 : My Fifth (Updated) Review of Iron River Construction.

Two and a half weeks after letting Iron River know that their interior window film installation (which was their way of “fixing” the fact that they didn’t order tempered glass windows in the first place) FELL OFF, Mark from Iron River finally replied with

“Marie, obviously nothing Iron River does seems to please you, we have gone out of our way to try and make things right and have received nothing other than negative reviews and grief for it. At this point, we are done trying to help as there are no open permits for the windows and they have passed inspection. Mark.”

So there you go. As long as their fix works long enough to pass an inspection that’s good enough for them. Never mind that the window is no longer up to code.

I have no words for how disgusted I am with this whole ordeal. It’s a freaking window. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to get it up to code.

Expecting a job that you paid for in full to be up to code and finished sooner than 4.5 years after the fact isn’t being overly picky.

To have the “guarantee” held hostage over a bad review – that only came after several YEARS of nagging them to bring it up to code – is extortion at best.

*****

… and that’s where we are now.

Personally, I’m amused at the fact that I’m the bad guy in all this, for giving a fair (but leaning negative) review after 4 YEARS of having to nag over a job that never had been done to code.

I love that I’m “high maintenance” or whatever, because I bothered them with it when their quick fix (film, rather than installing the tempered glass they were supposed to!) failed immediately.

So now, I get to deal with going after them through the legal system, like I haven’t invested enough time in chasing after this as it is. I’d always heard the stories of how contractors would screw the tornado victims over in our area, and we ALMOST ended up with such a con artist off the bat. I just never saw this coming with Iron River Construction. “Disappointed” doesn’t even come close to describing it.

I think back to the day of the tornado, when people hadn’t even begun to process what happened, as the “vultures” descended on the area. We were SO mad to see pickup trucks full of people with lawn signs advertising construction companies pull up into the extremely narrow intersections – trees and roofs just laying in the road as it was! – blocking all traffic just so they could get there and advertise first. That our tragedy was such a OPPORTUNITY to them, that they were mobilized immediately on that Sunday afternoon.

IMG_6388

I couldn’t wrap my head around how anyone could work to take advantage of natural disaster victims in that way, at the time… and I still can’t.

On the afternoon of May 22, 2011, North Minneapolis was devastated by a tornado. Twisted recounts the Porters’ first 11 months, post disaster. Rebuilding their house, working around the challenges presented by inadequate insurance coverage. Frustration at repeated bouts of incompetence and greed from their city officials. Dealing with issues such as loss of control, logistics, change, and over-stimulation, as an Aspergian woman.

Subjects covered include: Opportunistic “Vultures”, gawkers, new friendships, a bizarre gingerbread house, unique decisions made with the rebuild – including an internet-famous kitchen backsplash, “Tornado Claus”, contractor drama, water balloons, DIY design and work, music, sensory overload, and details on how to cook jambalaya for almost 300 people, in the parking lot of a funeral home… should you ever find yourself in the position to do so. Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Gluten Free Poptarts Recipe (Toaster Pastries)!

Poptarts are one of those things that satisfy some weird need for childhood comfort food every once in a while… even though they aren’t actually really that good. It’s funny how many people brought them up as one of the foods they miss most, when going gluten-free! This recipe actually prompted one of my favourite reviews for Beyond Flour:

When you find out you have celiacs you know you’re going to miss bread, but you soon find out you miss other things so much more. For me it was cinnamon PopTarts. Not that I had them all the time, but every time I had one it was a rush of happy childhood nostalgia. Flipping through the book I saw a recipe for toaster pastries and that was the first thing I made. I did it just for fun. But when I bit into it, after not having one for over a decade, I started crying. I can’t even express what a gift Marie has given me. All these things I had written off – like ravioli and biscuits and pita bread – I have it all back now. And the taste and texture and AFTER TASTE are perfect. Not pretty good or not too bad … dead on.

… this review made ME cry! Thank you, Cara!

I find these are actually BETTER than the original source material.. and far better for you. Firm but slightly chewy dough base, your choice of filling, and freshly made frosting. Garnish the top any way you want – even sprinkles – and just have fun with it.

One word of warning, though: Without the source material chemicals and stabilizers, the frosting on these ones is actually fairly heat sensitive, and will melt when toasted. So, use in a toaster oven rather than a traditional “pop up” style toaster… or turn your normal toast on it’s side, and toast them frosting-side up…Keeping an eye out for drippage!

Of course, if you love what you see here… you should consider ordering a copy of “Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking“e!

Thanks, and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Poptarts
Makes about 10

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour*
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, separated

1 batch filling (See below for recipes)
1 batch frosting (See below for recipes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the dry ingredients until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together all wet ingredients, except for one of the two eggs. Add wet ingredients to the dry, mix until a thick dough forms. Wrap in plastic, chill for 30 minutes.

Roll dough out to about slightly thinner than 1/4″ thick, cut into 3×5″ rectangles. Gather any scraps, needs to pull together, re roll and continue cutting into rectangles until all the dough is used up.

Carefully arrange half of the rectangles on the cookie sheet, spaced evenly. Evenly spread about 2 Tbsp of filling onto each of the rectangles on the cookie sheet, stopping about 1/2″ from the edges. Top each with one of the reserved rectangles, press the edges to seal. Use a fork to press edges down.

Whisk egg together with 1 Tbsp cold water, brush over each pastry. Use a fork to prick a few small holes in the top of each pastry to allow steam to escape – this will help prevent filling from exploding out of the sides as they bake

Bake pastries for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool completely before removing from the cookie sheet.

Spread frosting of choice onto pastries, garnish with sprinkles if using. Allow frosting to dry fully, before transferring to containers or baggies. Serve hot or room temperature, use or freeze within a few days of baking.

* If even certified gluten-free oat flour is not an option for you, use 1/4 cup of additional sorghum flour instead.

Dough Flavour Variations:

Chocolate Dough: Reduce brown rice flour to 2/3 cup, add 1/4 cup cocoa powder.

Red Velvet Dough: Add 1 Tbsp cocoa powder to dry ingredients, use buttermilk instead of milk, tint dough with red food colouring.

“Gingerbread” Dough: Add 1 1/2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, and a pinch of cloves to dry mix, and 1 Tbsp molasses to wet mix.

Fruit Filling

1 cup seedless jam of choice
1 Tbsp corn starch

Whisk jam and corn starch together until well combined.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp corn starch
1+ tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1+ tsp milk or water

Whisk together brown sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Mix in vanilla and milk/water, adding additional small amounts of liquid if necessary – you want a thick, spreadable paste. Taste, add more cinnamon if you like, to taste.

“Pumpkin Pie” Filling

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
pinch salt

Whisk all ingredients together until well combined and smooth

Cream Cheese Filling

6 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt

Whisk all ingredients together until well combined and smooth

Basic Frosting:

1 1/2 – 1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
food coloring, if desired.

Whisk powdered sugar, water, and vanilla extract together – frosting will be THICK. Microwave for 10-20 seconds to melt, stir until smooth. Tint with food colouring, if desired.

Chocolate Frosting:

1 1/4- 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk powdered sugar, cocoa, water, and vanilla extract together – frosting will be THICK. Microwave for 10-20 seconds to melt, stir until smooth.

Brown Sugar Frosting

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 – 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Whisk together brown sugar, hot water, and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time – frosting will be THICK. Microwave for 10-20 seconds to melt, stir until smooth.

Strawberry Frosting

1 1/2 – 1 3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp Strawberry Powder*
2 Tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
food coloring, if desired.

Whisk powdered sugar, berry powder water, and vanilla extract together – frosting will be THICK. Microwave for 10-20 seconds to melt, stir until smooth. Tint with food colouring, if desired.

* I buy my strawberry powder at Nuts Online, here’s a link to the product page. It’s a fine powder made from freeze dried strawberries – and it packs HUGE flavor. They also have Blueberry, and Pomegranate powders, which also work for this recipe.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gluten-Free Fig Newtons Recipe!

This past week, I was in Chicago for a convention. It went very well – TONS of fun, loads of laughs, great time spent with friends, as always. This is a yearly event that I cater a dessert (and, more recently, some savoury apps as well!) for.

It’s always very well received, but this year I did something different – I made the entire menu gluten-free. Given that only a small number of attendees are GF, I was really nervous. GF food has such a bad rep, would they even TRY it?

Well, given the reviews that I’ve been getting for Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking, I probably shouldn’t have been worried. They whole spread went over SUPER well, with many people declaring that they would have had no idea it was GF. Three people even told me that they adored my mushroom turnovers… even though they hate mushrooms! What a compliment!

Now, time to get back to work!

So, let me share one of the most popular recipes from Beyond Flour – Fig Newtons!

This recipe takes a bit of doing – the filling needs to be made and cooled, the dough needs to be chilled – but the result is well worth the time and effort. This produces a fragrant, delicious cookie that is sure to satisfy your comfort food cravings.

Enjoy!

Gluten Free Fig Newtons

1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/4 cup Granulated sugar
1/4 cup Brown sugar, packed
1 Large egg
1 Tbsp Orange juice
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Zest of 1/2 orange
1/2 cup White rice flour
1/2 cup Sorghum flour
1/4 cup Coconut flour
1/4 cup Millet flour
1 Tbsp Tapioca starch
1 tsp Xanthan gum
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking powder

Filling:
12 oz Dried mission figs
1/3 cup Water
Zest of 1/2 orange
Pinch Salt

Corn starch, for rolling

In stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg, orange juice, vanilla, and orange zest, beat until everything is fully incorporated and smooth.

In a large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Slowly add this dry mix to the mixer bowl, and carefully mix until well incorporated and smooth. Chill dough for 1 hour.

To make the filling:

Remove any stems from the dried figs, discard. Finely chop figs. Place into a saucepan with water, bring to a moil over medium-high heat. Once mixture starts to boil, cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed by the figs.

Transfer fig mixture to food processor, along with orange zest and salt. Process until very smooth. Transfer to a clean bowl, loosely cover with plastic film, and allow to cool to room temperature.

To Assemble:

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C), line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide dough into 4 equal balls. Generously sprinkle clean work surface with corn starch. Roll one dough ball into a long, thin, and narrow strip – about 4″ x 12″. Trim to square up / tidy the edges.

Stir cooled fig mixture to incorporate any condensation that has developed. Transfer about one quarter of the filling to a pastry bag, or heavyweight plastic bag with a corner cut off – either way, you’ll want about 1/2″ diameter opening.

Pipe a long, fat line of filling up the center of the rolled dough, using up all of the filling in the bag. Use a clean spoon to gently spread the filling to a width of slightly more than 1″.

Gently fold one long side of dough over the filling. Fold the other long side over that, forming a long tube of filled cookie. Gently flip over, slice into cookies (About 1.5″ long pieces), and gently transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are just starting to turn golden brown. Do not over bake!

Remove cookies from baking sheet, immediately cover with plastic wrap or – as we do – a long cake pan. Allow to steam/cool like this for at least 30 minutes. While these CAN be eaten right away, it’s best to let them sit overnight to let the moisture levels of the filling / cookie balance out a bit.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gluten-Free Maple Pumpkin Pie with Maple Cream

It’s been almost exactly 1 year since I set up a Kickstarter campaign for the gluten free cookbook I’d been considering developing. It was wildly successful – almost double-funding! – and I worked really hard to product the BEST recipes for gluten-free cooking and baking.

Well, today is the day! The official release date for Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking!

To celebrate the occasion, I am sharing a ridiculously awesome recipe with you: gluten free maple pumpkin pie. The crust is a bastardization of one in the book – I decided that I wanted to do a slightly sweeter, spiced-up version for this particular pie recipe.

If you follow the Beyond Flour page on facebook, you may have seen the “teaser” pic of this recipe on a post I made this weekend, here! Just look at those glorious air bubbles!

This tastes as good as it looks, with or without the maple cream topping (which I adore!). Everything you could want in a pumpkin pie – creamy, rich, with the right amount of spice, and a flaky crust. Perfection!

Gluten-Free Maple Pumpkin Pie with Maple Cream

Dough – makes enough for 2 crusts

3/4 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch each: ground nutmeg & ground cloves
1 (8oz) brick cream cheese
1/2 cup cold butter
1 egg
1/3 cup+ cold water

Measure flours, corn starch, brown sugar, xanthan gum, and spices into the bowl of your food processor, blitz to combine. Add cream cheese, butter, and egg, blitz a few times until mixture resembles gravel. Stream in cold water as you run the food processor, just long enough to start to bring it together as a dough – you may need to use a little more or less water. Do NOT over-process it!

Remove dough from processor, knead lightly to bring it together as a ball. Wrap in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.

Divide dough in half*, Roll your crust (s) out to about 1/4″ thick. Line a pie pan with one crust, trim the edges of the crust to only slightly longer than the edge of the pie plate. Use your fingers to crimp/ruffle the edge of the pie.

Use a fork to prick some holes on the bottom of the crust. Chill in freezer until ready to bake.

* If you are only using half of the dough, tightly wrap the second half of the dough and freeze it until the day before you want to use it. Allow it to thaw on your counter, then proceed as described above.

Filling – makes enough for 1 deep dish pie, two smaller pies, or a normal sized pie and a few tarts (use scrap dough!)

1 brick (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 pie crust recipe, above.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a stand mixer (or in a bowl with an electric mixer), cream together cream cheese and brown sugar. Once smooth, add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.

Take crust out of the freezer. Gently cover edge of crust with aluminum foil, bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, discard foil, fill with pumpkin mixture. Transfer to oven, bake for 45-50 minutes or so, until center is set. Remove from heat and allow to cool fully before serving. Right before serving, prepare Maple Cream:

Maple Cream

Whipped Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream (keep it very cold!)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or an electric hand mixer, whip cream until soft peaks form. Add maple syrup and salt, continue whipping until it reaches desired consistency. Serve immediately.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies Recipe

Only one month to go until the official release date of my latest cookbook, Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking & Baking!

The books for pre orders and my Kickstarter backers have been ordered from the printer, the files are being converted to an e-book, and I just noticed this morning that Amazon has posted their listing for it! Exciting!

This book has been the biggest book project I’ve ever taken on. It started with a HUGE premise – that gluten-free cooking doesn’t have to be about compromising on flavour or texture. Sure, it’s been said before, but the follow through attempts I’ve seen have been lacklustre – GF food still has a reputation of being pretty awful for anyone who’s not actually GF.

I took the concept a step further – why shouldn’t gf cooking be as good OR BETTER than wheat flour cooking? With the variety of alternative flours available, each with their own unique flavours and properties. All of these flours have more flavour and have more nutrition that wheat flour, anyway – why shouldn’t we all make use of them?

Once you give up on the idea of using an all-purpose flour mix, the sky really is the limit! I’m still shocked over the pitas that taste like JUST Jimmy John’s bread – the loss of JJ was one of my biggest sadness issues when I had to go GF. THAT recipe (in the book) really made me feel like a miracle worker!

The thing is, using an all purpose mix for gluten free baking is kind of like using one spice mix for seasoning everything you eat – sweet AND savoury. Can you imagine that? Sure, it’ll work on some things, but definitely won’t be suited for others. Gluten free flours are the same way – some recipes call for more structure, some need more moisture retention. Robust savoury flavours really lift some recipes… and for others it would be overkill. By using different combinations of flours, you really let the flavours and properties of those flours sing!

Personally, I can’t see ever using wheat flour to bake cookies again, even for my non-gf friends. The complex – but fairly subtle, in some cases – flavours, the amazing textures… I’m pretty sure that every cookie recipe in this book has wrecked me for the wheat versions. Today, I’d like to share one of them with you. These cookies are everything you could ever want in a cookie… chewy, fudgey, dense, and full of flavour.

Gluten-Free Chewy Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup cocoa
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups soft caramel pieces *
Coarse sea salt

In stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla, beat until everything is fully incorporated and smooth.

In a large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Slowly add this dry mix to the mixer bowl, and carefully mix until well incorporated and smooth. Chill dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll 1″ balls out of the cookie dough. Arrange dough balls on baking sheets leaving at least 2″ between cookies – they flatten out a fair amount. Gently press the tops of each slightly – flatten JUST enough to prevent the dough from rolling.

Bake for 11-13 minutes. Cookies will look puffy, but flatten out as they cool. Do not overbake! As soon as cookies are finished baking, lightly sprinkle tops with coarse sea salt, press lightly into top of cookies.

* We used baking caramel bits, that came as little balls… but if you don’t have those available, you can cut soft square caramels into quarters and use that.

Less into the salted caramel idea, and want to use the chocolate cookie as a base for something else? No problem, just substitute 2 cups of other “stuff” – chocolate or butterscotch chips, mint chips, dried fruit, nuts… whatever!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Sweet Corn Bruschetta Recipe, from Sweet Corn Spectacular

Hey, remember how I wrote “Sweet Corn Spectacular” – a cookbook all about fresh sweet corn – for the Minnesota Historical Society last year?

Well, guess what? Not only is it sweet corn season once again (*Cough* you should totally buy my book *Cough*), but the book is featured in the August edition of Midwest Living! Check it ouuuuut!

CornBrushcetta3

Pretty slick, eh?

Figured I’d celebrate by sharing that same recipe with you all: Sweet Corn Bruschetta!

This recipe is simple, elegant, and easy to tinker with. It’s beautiful and delicious with the most simple of balsamic vinegars… but is *mind blowingly amazing* if you can get your hands on peach balsamic vinegar.

Sweet Corn Bruschetta

4 ears sweet corn, husks removed
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar of choice
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into think strips
Salt
Pepper
1 baguette
~ 1/4 cup olive oil
~8 oz goat cheese

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut kernels off the ears of corn. In a large bowl, combine corn kernels, honey, sugar, and balsamic vinegar, tossing to coat. Stir in basil, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cut baguette into 1/4-1/2″ thick slices – I like to cut them at a bit of an angle. Brush both sides of each bread slice with olive oil, arrange on a broiling pan.

Broil bread slices for 3 minutes, flip them all over, and broil for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven, spread each slice with some goat cheese, top with corn mixture. Serve immediately!

Variations:

– Add in diced fresh tomato
– Try chili flakes, for a bit of a kick
– Try different fresh herbs – dill, tarragon, parsley, thyme, mint, cilantro…
– Add a pressed garlic clove
– Swap the goat cheese for mascarpone, ricotta, or cream cheese
– Add a little finely chopped onion

Best Coleslaw Recipe EVER!

A couple of months back, I accidentally developed the best coleslaw recipe I’ve EVER tasted.

I was right in the middle of developing recipes for “Beyond Flour“, my upcoming gluten-free cookbook. I’d just perfected a recipe for fried chicken… but fried chicken is just so brown and blah when it comes to photos.

In considering how I’d want to set the plate for photography, I decided that what it needed was probably coleslaw. Regular coleslaw adds a little colour, and you can have a bit more if you add, say, carrots.. but I wanted a LOT of colour. So, I decided to whip up a coleslaw just for the photo, with the focus being on bright colours. I had no plans to actually include a recipe for it, it was basically going to be a prop… almost like using a garnish to bring some colour.

Well, I’m really glad that I actually wrote down what I did, because it was FABULOUS. Not only was it gorgeous, it had amazing texture and a ton of flavour.. as well as a bit of kick. It was perfect!

This recipe will be included in the cookbook, but I want to share it with you now, so you get some mileage out of it for summer parties. SO GOOD.

Enjoy!


Marie’s Colourful Coleslaw

1 small savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2-3 red anahem peppers, thinly sliced/ribboned
2 green onions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed

In a large bowl, gently toss prepared cabbages, carrot, peppers and green onions. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour over vegetables, toss to coat evenly.

Cover, chill for at least 1 hour to let flavours mingle. Serve cold.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Geekery and my Partridgeberry Pie Recipe (AKA Lingonberry Pie)

Apologies for the silence on the blog lately – I’ve been hard at work on my upcoming gluten free cookbook, “Beyond Flour”. It hasn’t left me much time, drive, or inclination to post blogs! Whoops.

This weekend, I was inspired to post something… albeit in a roundabout way. The facts are these:

– Since making my husband’s Thranduil costume, we’ve been on a bit of a Lee Pace kick. TOTALLY fell in love with “Pushing Daisies” – posthumously (hah!) – as well as some of his other work. (There is a “Red Bandit” cosplay in the works..)

– A friend (Who you may recognize as “Legolas” in the movie premiere kiss photo of ours that went sort of viral last month) just completed a “Ned the Piemaker” cosplay last week, complete with “Pie Hole” box.

– This past weekend happened to be the weekend I had scheduled for developing a gluten free pie crust for the book.

– Late last week, I came upon this fan art, which I promptly fell in love with.

– We have 159 digits of Pi tiled into our awesomely geeky kitchen backsplash.

… I’m sure you can see where this is going, if you’ve been following this blog for any real amount of time. You should never underestimate how far I’m willing to run with a crazy idea!

So, at the prompting of another friend, we decided to do a mini shoot with Porter as “Thrandy the Piemaker”. We invited our friend over to join in, because… really. Thranduil, Ned, and pie? Awesome. Bonus: Legolas! I went ahead and made a the most ridiculous twee thing I’ve ever made in my whole life – the frilly apron from the fan art – and baked the pie.

The photos from that shoot turned out amazing – and so did the pie! Let me share a few photos, and the recipe for my partridgeberry pie filling. (The gluten free crust recipe will be in the book!):


(We have almost 50 photos from this shoot posted to my costuming page on Facebook. That album is here. So much ridiculousness.. I LOVE it!)

Remember my “Faux Lingonberry Wine” recipe? I think it’s the first time I mentioned my love of partridgeberries on my blog. LOVE them… and I’ve been missing them as a dessert ingredient for a long time now. It’s been almost 8 years… and this is my favourite kind of pie!

So, I splurged a bit and bought some frozen partridge/lingonberries from a local shop*, and here we are!

Partridgeberry Pie

3 cups Fresh or frozen partridgeberries (about 1 lb)*
1 1/2 cups Granulated sugar
2-3 tsp cornstarch
Zest of one orange
Pinch salt
2 pie crusts. See Uncle Tom’s Pie Crust for recipe!
1 egg, whisked
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

Place berries in a medium saucepan. Whisk together sugar and cornstarch (use 2 tsp for a slightly runnier filling, 3 for a thicker one. We used 3 for the pie pictured!), and add to the berries along with orange zest and salt.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. The berries will break down a bit, and the mixture will thicken slightly. Allow to boil for 3 minutes before removing from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature – it will thicken more as it cools.

Preheat oven to 425F

If not using a prepared pie crust, roll your two crusts out to about 1/4″ thick. Line a pie pan with one crust, and cut the other into 1″ strips.

Transfer cooled filling into the pie shell, spreading to cover the bottom of the pie evenly.

Use the strips of pie crust to create a lattice on top. Where this filling is very dark and stains easily, I don’t usually do a properly woven lattice – that involves placing and folding back strips to weave other strips through… and can get pie filling all over the place!

I lay one of the longest strips right across the middle of the pie, vertically. Then I cross it with another of the longest strips, horizontally. The next longest strip gets laid aside the first strip laid, then the next one beside the second strip laid. I alternate directions and sides, working from the longest strips down to the shortest.

Once your lattice is laid, trim the edges of the crust to only slightly longer than the edge of the pie plate. Fold the bottom crust edge over the lattice edge, and pinch well to seal. Use your fingers to crimp/ruffle the edge of the pie.

Carefully brush lattice and crust with whisked egg, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake pie for 15 minutes at 425 F. Without opening the door, turn the temperature down to 400 and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or so.. until crust is golden.

Serve warm or cold – this pie is especially great with some rich vanilla ice cream on top.

Enjoy!

* If you don’t live somewhere that partridgeberries grow, you can ask around any Scandinavian shops and see if they know where you can find some. Alternatively, they can be purchased frozen online from some specialty retailers, and I’m told that IKEA sells them in their frozen section as well. (I just can’t find anything on their site about it!)

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Catching up… and Apple Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn Recipe!

Wow, as it really been 3 weeks since I last posted? Do I really still have Halloween stuff up as the featured content? I’ll get right on that.. Yikes. My apologies! It’s been an insane month. Lemme tell you a bit about it, and punctuate it with a really easy, tasty recipe.

First off, as that last blog entry was posted, I was away in Chicago at a convention. It was WeeM, Chicago Mensa’s Halloween gathering. A great time, on its own… but it’s also the anniversary of my husband and I dating, AND I usually get hired to go and bake a bunch of delicious goodies for the event.

This year was a bit different. Still great on it’s own, but with the added benefit of being able to hang out with a couple of my Chicago based “prison buddies” from my reality show adventure – Duckie & Rim. It was so great to be able to catch up with them – they’re both wonderful people, and it had been a while since I’d seen anyone from that whole experience!

Back on the subject of cooking for WeeM, after a one year hiatus on the baking front, they had me back…with a twist. For the first time ever, they hired me to make SAVORIES! Yes! The whole “just a baker” thing has always been a minor sore point for me, so I welcomed the chance to flex some additional culinary muscle.

I kept the menu fairly simple, aiming to appeal to a wide range of tastes. For the savory part of the spread, I included almost 300 of my famous Mushroom Turnovers, and a couple gallons of Jalapeno Artichoke “Backfire” Dip, both of which went over insanely well.

Just for the event, I made “beet salad” tarts – buttery pastry mini tarts filled with a creamy goat cheese/ricotta mousse, topped with pickled beets, pears, walnuts, and ribbons of fresh basil… they were the first thing to go!

The most “controversial” item on my menu, funny enough… was a gorgeous veggie tray with my Ginger-Wasabi Dip. A couple well meaning individuals raised an eyebrow at the suggestion, telling me that Mensans would NOT touch the veggies. Well, I’m happy to say that my veggie tray was picked clean by the end of the night! Mission accomplished!

It was also the 4th year that I helped organize and judge our “Iron Chef: Hospitality Suite” competition, which is always a great time. It was the first time participating since MasterChef. I promise, I was nice to all our competitors!

As soon as we returned from Chicago, I had two big events to get ready for! On November 1, my latest sewing manual – “Spandex Simplified: Sewing for Superheroes” came out .. and the next day, our friends Michelle and Peter got married!

Because Peter was a complete rockstar for us in the aftermath of the tornado, they were a big exception to my “No more wedding cake, ever!” rule. 🙂 So, I made them a little topsy turvy cake:

Throughout all of this, I’ve been working on administering and promoting our ongoing Kickstarter campaign, “Beyond Flour: A New Kind of Gluten-Free Cookbook“. It’s been a wild experience! The book reached its first goal about halfway through the campaign, and we’re working on stretch goals now! 402 backers, as I write this… amazing. So grateful for all of the support from those of you who have backed, shared links, etc – thank you!

If all of THAT wasn’t enough, I decided – about a week ago, with less than 1 month until the deadline – that I would be dressing my husband up for the premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I’ve been feeling kinda overlooked / underrated in the local costuming “game”, and decided that I would do a replica of the craziest elf costume in the movie – Thranduil. I KNOW!

The costume is coming along wonderfully, though – the coat has over 166 pieces of fabric in it, alone! – and I can’t wait to show you photos of the finished garment. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at the jewelry I made for it:

So… yeah. It’s been a very FULL few weeks. Add a crappy, miserable, STUBBORN cold on top of all that? That’s my excuse for not blogging all this time. Forgive me? I have a recipe!

Caramel corn is great on its own, but I love it even more when it’s loaded with other goodies too – in this case, crisp dried apple slices, the warmth of cinnamon, and nuts!

We used walnut pieces, as that’s what we had on hand.. but this recipe is also great with almonds, pecans, or cashews.

Apple-Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn

20-24 cups popped popcorn (2/3 – 3/4 cup unpopped)
3 cups freeze dried apple slices, broken up
2 cups nuts – pecans, walnuts, or cashews (optional)
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2+ tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 200F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place the popcorn in a large stockpot – how we do it – or divide it between the two cookie sheets. Stir in the apple pieces and nuts, if using. (If using cookie sheets, divide the apples and nuts between the two before stiring well). Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt, whisking until well combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat.

Stir in vanilla and cinnamon, whisking until well combined. (You don’t want clumps of cinnamon!). Add baking soda, stir well to combine – caramel will foam up a little.

Pour caramel over popcorn mixture, CAREFULLY stir to coat evenly – Hot sugar is nasty to get burned with! If you mixed it in a pot, divide the caramel corn between the two cookie sheets.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring well every 15 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, I like to switch pan positions in the oven – the one that was on the bottom goes on the top.

Once the hour is up, remove from the oven, break up large chunks of popcorn, and allow to cool. Serve immediately, or transfer to airtight containers for storage.

Enjoy!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.