Clara Gluten Free

The Right Pan

With Hurricane Sandy prep in full swing last weekend—yay! the power is back today!—I did a lot of bread-baking. And after baking 6 loaves of my very own sandwich bread, I felt like it was time to take a break from normally-scheduled recipe-casting and discuss some technique: pan shape. It matters. 

Yes, that's one of the 6 loaves that came out of one my 6 identical glass loaf pans. I'm partial to glass, because they give better crusts and, being more inert, healthier loaves.

What's remarkable about these loaves, as opposed to all the other loaves I've made since developing the recipe, is the high rise and straight sides of the slices. The recipe is what makes the reactions happen to form that sort of structure, but especially with GF recipes, it's the pan that gives the food its shape. Since there isn't any gluten in the bread, though, there's very little stuff that's there to give it an internal structure. As a result, the batter/dough (hard to tell which, with gluten free baking) follows the shape of the pan. The dough climbs up and latches onto the sides of the pan while baking, and if the sides of the pan aren't what you like—well, the final shape won't be either. But if you get six identical Pyrex pans in the exact shape you are looking for, the recipe will be the same. Perhaps like me, you will feel pretty dang-nab-special. 

And now, back to your regularly scheduled recipe-casting.

Chocolate Pretzel Caramel Bark

The story for this recipe is pretty short: I saw chocolate, pretzels, and caramel all over pinterest AND I managed to get my caramel sauce down (read: to work). Hence, chocolate, pretzel, caramel bark.

In terms of making the idea truly GF, well, I used GF pretzels. They exist. In terms of making chocolate bark, well, I used chocolate (I like Ghiradelli and Calibaut brands). In terms of making caramel, well, that's the fun part.

Caramel is made from melted and toasted sugar, with butter and cream stirred in. That said, there are some nifty sweetened condensed milk versions, but I like to cook with the sugar because the flavor is what I expect- and the sugar looks cool as it cooks. The phase changes- and especially how the sugar crystal structure work- are fascinating. The sugar melts around 360 F, and after this point, if non-melted sugar get into the liquid, or the pan gets banged up, the liquid will suddenly crystalize. Sometimes, it can be remelted, but sometimes it burns before this is possible- it depends how crystalized the sugar gets. But the real magic comes in when the butter and cream are added- the caramel will seize up into a beautiful, webby mass, but then melt down into finished caramel sauce. Kind of extraordinary. 

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark- Makes 18 servings
*Note: quantities for the pretzels, chocolate, and chocolate chips are very loose, as the recipe can be easily increased to make more quantity, or reduced for less. Alternatively, the ratios can be changed for a different texture, if that's what you would prefer. Also, please note that if the chocolate chips are tossed into the bark at room temperature, the chocolate will likely bloom. I don't mind this (I actually like the visual appearance), but if you want to prevent this, warm them a bit before stirring into the bark. 

2 cups Glutino pretzels
12 oz bittersweet (or darker) baking chocolate
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cp white sugar
2 tbs water
1 tbs butter
2 tbs cream

1- Measure out ingredients and melt baking chocolate in the microwave. Set aside. Completely line a 13" x 21" baking pan with a single sheet of parchment paper. Grease lightly with butter or cooking spray.

2- Melt white sugar with 2 tbs water on high heat on the stove. Stir frequently. Use a pastry brush dipped in clean, warm water to rise sugar crystals off of the side of the pan. (Note: sugar crystals dropping off of the sides into the liquid sugar will cause it to entirely crystalize). 

3- Once the sugar has melted, stir less frequently, to allow the liquid to brown. Safety Note: the liquid sugar is much hotter than liquid water- it is 370 F, rather than 220 F

4- Once the sugar is as brown as you like, turn the heat down to medium and add the butter and cream quickly. The liquid will form a caramel-colored ball in the center of the pan or around your spoon. Melt this back down to liquid. Once it is completely melted, transfer to a liquid measuring cup with a spout.

5- Pour a thin layer of melted chocolate on the parchment paper- use a spatula to spread out evenly. Cover in a later of pretzels. Cover lightly but entirely with caramel. Drizzle on chocolate, add a few more pretzels, if desired, as well as chocolate chips. Finish the top of the back with the remaining chocolate, pretzels, chips, and caramel.

6- Allow to set at room temperature for 3 hours. Transfer to fridge (watch for the chocolate blooming, and remove from the fridge if necessary). Once the bark is completely cooled, break into irregular pieces and serve. 

Sandwich Bread

It finally happened- I totally solidified my sandwich bread recipe. So much so that actually, I'm baking all of our bread these days. And, if I do say so myself, it's super yummy.

I started on this recipe over the summer, when I heard resounding cries for fluffy, white bread that was exactly like the Whole Foods sandwich bread. And I didn't entirely take it as an insult that these were not resounding cries for my then-failing multigrain bread.... Anyway. My research stage was pretty simple: I read the ingredients list, took a guess at proportions based on where things were on the list, and started testing. I adjusted flour ratios, switched out sugar for corn syrup and then agave, dropped some eggs, switched oils, and worked on the method for how to rise the bread- which turns out to not take very long. Which also means bread comes out of the oven sooner. Which I like. A lot. :)

Sandwich Bread- makes 1 loaf

*Note: I almost always double this recipe to make two loaves, and occasionally triple it, so I know these ratios work. You can use table sugar instead of the agave or corn syrup- just increase the water by 1/3 cup to make up for the fluid lost. As for oils- my favorite is coconut (for it's sweetness), but canola oil, olive oil, and butter are all good substitues, 1 for 1. 

Also, it makes a significant difference to rise the bread in a warm oven- around 150 F. My oven has a warm/proof cycle, but you can warm yours by setting it to the lowest temperature possible for around 10 minutes (depending on the oven), and then turning it off once your oven thermometer reads 150, or the inside racks are just beginning to be too hot to touch (be careful!). In addition, if your oven heats up quickly, it is best to rise the bread in the oven, then turn the temperature up to bake it, without removing the bread. Alternatively, you can remove the bread from the oven and heat it up to temperature. Avoid being rough with the risen dough- you may flatten the air bubbles if it gets hit or put down sharply. 

2/3 cp water or milk (warm)  
1/3 agave, corn syrup or sugar
3 tsp yeast
4 tbs coconut (or other) oil
1 1/4 c brown rice flour  (5.25 oz)
1 c tapioca flour (4.35 oz)
3/4 c cornstarch (3 oz)
1/2 tsp baking powder
11/4tsp salt
2 tsp xanthum
2 eggs

1- Set oven to warm. Prepare a poolish with the warm water, agave, and yeast. Stir until the agave is entirely dissolved. Add oil. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes while the rest of the ingredients are prepared (watch the poolish though- it's pretty amazing once the yeast start metabolizing the sugar!)

2- Combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of a large stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir to combine.

3- Add eggs and poolish dry ingredients. Beat for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough begins to look stretchy- you will see long sections of dough stretching from the sides of the bowl to the paddle, and holding a clear shape for a few seconds.

4- Meanwhile, prepare a loaf pan: grease the pan lightly with a bit of oil, and line the bottum with parchment paper. Once the dough has finished kneading, transfer to loaf pan.

5- Proof the dough in the oven for 45 minutes, and up to 60 if you want a fluffier, yeastier flavored loaf. Set oven to 400 F. Bake until the bread is golden brown and solid-feeling when tapped or the internal temperature of the bread is between 200-205 F- about 40 minutes. 

6- Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes for the crumb to set. Remove from pan. Allow to cool 10 more minutes before slicing. Serve immediately, or let cool entirely before freezing. 

Fluffernutter Cookiewhiches

Anyone else like words made out of combined words? I think my preferences are clear. Anyway. I've been fiddling around with different uses for chocolate cookies- on ice cream, under ice cream, sandwiching ice cream. You can see the pattern. Then it occurred to me to make it without ice cream, and that suddenly became interesting.

UPDATE: I now realize that my title is misspelled. However, I like that spelling, so it shall remain. Carry on. :)

I'm quite the peanut butter fan, so PB & Fluff was the obvious choice. Especially fluff toasted s'mores style, via blowtorch of course. For this particular cookiewhich, I also added strawberry jelly (my brother's favorite), but the additional jelly/preserves is entirely taste-based. Grape might be nice. Grape as in the age-old question of kids everywhere- "can I have a PB and J with Fluff for lunch?" Or one made on double-chocolate chip cookies for dessert. 

Fluffernutter Cookiewhiches- makes 1
Note: Multiply this recipe as many times as needed for the number of people to be served! Regular chocolate chip cookies or brownies could also be substituted in. Also, if you do not have a blowtorch, simply skip that step (# 3) in the recipe. 

2 double-chocolate chip cookies
1 tbs peanut butter
1 1/2 tbs marshmallow fluff
2 tsp jelly, optional
peanut butter + chocolate chips for garnish

1- Lay out the two cookies, flat sides facing up. Spread peanut butter onto one of the cookies. 

2- Top the peanut butter with fluff

3- Using a narrow flame on the blowtorch, toast the fluff.

4- Spread the jelly onto the flat side of the other cookie. Sandwhich the two cookies together

5- Serve immediately with chocolate and peanut butter chips for garnish.

Mocha Marshmallow Brownies

I was baking this weekend because I had ingredients to use up (yes, you can steal that excuse for a reason to bake). But for realz, I had a brownie mix to use and some ideas to try out.

I used Bob's Red Mill brownie mix  for the brownie (because that's what I had in the pantry) and coffee for the main liquid (because that's what I had in the kitchen) and a bag of marshmallows (because that's what I like to add to everything). It was pretty much as dump-and-stir method, but the way the brownies cooked up was really nifty- the marshmallows in the batter made the brownies puff up as they  baked into this fluffy chocolate-marshmallow cloud-wonder. Of course, it collapsed as it cooled, but it was worth it to see. I love it when my baked stuff puts on a show.

Mocha Marshmallow Brownies- makes 20 brownies
Note: The measurements for the chocolate chips and mini marshmallows are approximate, because they affect the volume of the batter the most. If you do not have a high-sided pan, it is best to reduce these quantities. 

1 egg
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted (3/4 c)
3/4 c warm, black coffee
2 tsp vanilla 
approx 1 1/2 c chocolate chips
4-5 c mini marshmallows

1- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 13" x 23" pan with parchment paper- make sure it covers the sides of the pan as well- and grease lightly.

2- In a medium bowl, combine butter, coffe, egg, and vanilla. Pour brownie mix into a large bowl. Add liquid ingredients and stir until just combined. 

3- Add chocolate chips, stir until evenly distributed. Add approximately 2/3 of the marshmallows. Fold into the batter until evenly distributed.

4- Pour batter into the prepared pan and press into the corners. Spread out the remaining marshmallows over the top of the batter. 

5- Bake for approximately 35 minutes- until an instant read thermometer reads 195-200 F. Remove and allow to cool in the pan  on a wire rack until the brownies are room temperature. Carefully slide the parchment paper out of the pan and onto a cutting board. 

6- With a long, sharp knife, slice the brownies into squares. Serve immediately for a melty texture, or chill until cold for fudgier one. 

Suggested Reading II: The Gluten-Free Goddess

This suggested reading is way past over-do. Karina Allrich's blog, The Gluten-Free Goddess, is a (perhaps 'the') standard for all things GF cooking, baking, and food-preparation. She's amazing, her recipes are manangable, and always work. I have used them and loved them. As have the people I have been cooking for. Take a look- The Gluten-Free Goddess is an amazing resource. And if the recipes aren't necessarily what you're looking for, her wealth of information on GF, vegetarian, and vegan cooking/baking is astounding. A hearty "thank you!" to Karina for everything she has written.

Image from The Gluten-Free Goddess (isn't the photography amazing!?)

Swedish Meatballs

Let's be real here: of course this blog post is going to start with a reference to the American Standard of Swedish Meatballs, IKEA. And that reference is: we like to get stuff there every so often, and were deeply sad after going gluten-free that there would be no more IKEA food in our future. So, in good GF cook fashion, I adjusted the recipe (which, is incidentally posted all over the interwebs).

Swedish meatballs use both pork and beef, which gives them a springier texture, and use potatoes for a binder. Mostly GF already. The method was also quite straight-forward- not unlike making hamburgers- so it was quite easy to whip up. The main difference though? The cream gravy- not many Italian dishes have that! In general, I like making GF gravies more than when I was doing gluten ones- the flours are simpler to work with. When I first started, it was kind of a surprise. Now it's a bonus. 

Swedish Meatballs and Cream Gravy- serves 6
Note: For best results in the gravy, cook at least a few of the meatballs in a frying pan and use the drippings in the gravy. Alternatively, the gravy can be made from broth alone. 

1 lb lean hamburger meat
1 lb ground pork
2 eggs
1/4 c potato starch
2 medium potatoes, riced 
salt + pepper

1-2 cups chicken or beef broth
2 tbs potato starch
3-4 tbs half-and-half
salt + pepper

1- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Mix together meats, processing through your fingers until well combined. Add eggs and process again. Dust potato starch evenly over surface of meat, and process through your fingers to combine. Add the riced potatoes, process until even.

2- Form the meatballs into small, 1 to 1 1/2 tbs-sized meatballs. Preheat a lightly-greased frying pan on medium-heat. Set aside 10 meatballs for cooking in the frying pan. Bake the rest in the oven for 40-50 minutes on a sturdy broiler pan. Remove from oven when cooked through and golden brown. Salt and pepper to taste.

3- Cook the 10 meatballs in the frying pan until golden and cooked through, flipping occasionally. Remove from pan promptly. 

4- Deglaze the pan with the broth, bring to a boil. Allow to reduce for 10 minutes. Vigorously whisk in the potato starch until no lumps remain. Add the cream. Return to a boil and boil until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in salt and pepper. Serve meatballs and gravy warm, with potatoes or noodles if desired. 

Oven Fries

Some thoughts that went through my noggin while making dinner: One of the great GF starches? Potatoes. One of the great ways to cook 'em up? Fries. Done. Oven fries it is.

Oven fries seem kind of simple- and they are- but until yesterday, I had yet to develop a method that gave me a real balanced golden + crispy / soft + potato-y texture. Turns out the tricks were not salting the potatoes until the end- as this draws out water and makes the outside soft- and roasting the whole pan at a high heat and then broiling to finish- as this both cooks and browns everything. It was hot in the kitchen, and the fries came out of the oven far too hot to touch, but after a few minutes- once everything cooled- it was like, um, totally worth it. 

Oven Fries- serves 5
Note: If you do not have safflower oil, another high-heat stable oil- like peanut, avocado, or some canola oils- will work. Don't substitute olive oil or butter- these two will both smoke in the high heat of the oven.

6 large potatoes (about 2.5 lbs)
approx 3 tbs safflower oil 
salt + pepper

1- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Scrub, wash and dry the potatoes. Slice them into thick fries by slicing them into thirds width-wise (to yield three long sections) and then dividing these sections into even-sized fries, about 2-3 fries per section.This should yield about 9 fries per potato.

2- Drizzle 1/2 - 1 tbs onto the surface of a sturdy broiling pan. Spread the oil around with you fingers. Roll each slice on the surface of the pan, picking up oil on all sides. Leave fry on the pan, but allow room to continue to work. Once the pan begins to run out of oil, pour more onto the pan and onto your hands. Repeat until each of the fries are lightly coated in oil. Space fries out evenly on the pan.

3- Roast fries on the middle rack of the oven for about 30 minutes, or until tender and beginning to golden. Turn pan occasionally, if needed. If the fries brown too quickly, but have not cooked through, cover the pan with a layer of aluminum foil and continue to cook.

4- Once the fries are soft, move the pan to an upper rack of the oven. Broil for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, use a spatula to flip the fries, and space them out again. Return to oven. Broil for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until deeply golden brown. Remove from oven. 

5- Salt and pepper the fries, flipping them with the spatula as needed, in order to coat the sides of the fries. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Serve with ketchup and mustard (or chili and cheese), if desired.  

Suggested Reading I: Love from the Oven GF Round Up

While on Pinterest this morning, I came across a link to Love from the Oven's collection of recipes for GF baked goods from a whole collection of GF bloggers. If you're looking for recipes and/or their bloggers, this is the spot to be. Thanks Love from the Oven!

Image from Love from the Oven

Avocado-Tomato Melts

I'm not sure which is more popular at my house- avocado or caramel. But since I was on the hot seat (tee hee) for making lunch, I decided to make avocado melts. It helped that I got five of them on sale over the weekend. 

I started with a base-recipe of tofu-cheddar cheese melts, but tricked out them with avocado and tomatoes for variety and flavor. Like guacamole, but a sandwich. Actually, you could add some garlic/garlic powder and onion/onion to the melts, if you wanted. And some lime juice- it really would be a guacamole melt. None of these were on hand for me, so I made avocado + tomato melts. Which of course equals summer produce melts.

Avocado-Tomato Tofu Melts- makes 8 melts

2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
2 tomatos, sliced into 
8 oz cheese, sliced
1 package tofu, drained and sliced
8 slices of bread

1- Prepare and slice veggies and cheese. 

2- Broil both sides of the bread until lightly golden, about 3 minutes per side.

3- Layer tofu, avocado, and tomato on each piece of bread. Top with sliced cheese.

4- Broil the melts for an additional 3-5 minutes to melt and brown the cheese. Remove from oven. Allow to cool and set, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately. 

Facebook + Twitter + Pinterest + Foodily

Clara Gluten-Free is now connected to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Foodily! Come say find me and say hello at any/all of the sites! Or, you can always still email. Nifty buttons for these for side of the blog to come. 'See' you soon!

Update: I made aforesaid nifty buttons! Here they are...

Dinner Rolls

I've been working on my bread recipe, so of course I had to experiment with a dinner roll recipe. Dinner rolls from a diner in Vermont (the Wayside Restaurant and Bakery in Berlin), are right at the top of the list of my family's favorite foods from the pre-gluten-free days. For GF life to proceed, it was kind of necessary to copy them (read: really necessary).

Dinner rolls, in my experience (gained through sampling, um, a lot of dinner rolls) have a slightly richer texture than regular bread, a fluffy crumb, and these specific rolls also had a salty-butter wash on top. To meet those requirements, I increased the oil, increased the yeast a bit, and brushed (ok, poured) on salted butter. Yum. And my brother has already requested more.

Diner-style Dinner Rolls- makes 8 large rolls

*Note: a dry sweetener (such as table sugar) can be substituted for the corn syrup- just increase the water to a whole 1 cup. Alternatively, another liquid sweetener- such as agave or brown rice syrup- could be used instead.

1 1/4 c brown rice flour
1 c tapioca flour
1 c cornstarch
0.5 tsp baking powder
1 1/2  tsp salt
2 tsp xanthum
3/4 c water (warm)  
1/4 corn syrup
3 tsp yeast
3 tbs oil + additional oil for working
2 eggs

egg wash: 1 egg + approx 1 tbs water

butter wash: 1 tbs butter + 1/2 tsp salt

1- Warm and oven, or set on a dough-proofing cycle. In the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, salt, and xanthum gum. Stir slowly and carefully. Set aside.

2- Combine water, corn syrup, and yeast. Whisk until the corn syrup and yeast are dissolved. Add the 3 tbs oil. Let stand until the yeast begin to metabolize. The solution will become cloudy, yeast-colored, and increase in volume by about 1/2 cup. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs in a separate bowl.

3- When the yeast is ready, add the yeast solution and eggs to the dry ingredients. Stir together with the stand mixer. Once it is combined, increase the speed to medium-high speed and beat until long stretchy strands of dough form, about 5-7 minutes. 

4- Grease a medium baking dish (no smaller than 9" x 13") with deep sides. Grease a large spoon and use it to spoon out dough into the baking dish.  Scatter the dough balls and leave at least 2" between each one. Oil your hands and smooth the top of the dough balls, if desired.

5- Warm the dough for 10 minutes in the oven. Remove from the oven, increase the temperature to 400 F, and allow the dough to rise on the counter 15-20 minutes. Brush generously with the egg wash. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until browned with and internal temperature of 200 F- 205 F. Remove from oven.

6- Allow to cool slightly and remove from baking dish. If any of the egg wash ran off the top of the rolls and baked, cut this off and discard. Brush the rolls with the butter wash immediately before serving. Serve warm. 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Ice cream is probably my favorite thing to make right now. The texture is fascinating to manipulate, the flavor options are endless, and even when it doesn't work the way I want it is super yummy. Kind of the perfect thing to experiment with. And then eat. 

To develop the texture, I did lots of reading into ice cream structure...and determined that, basically, it is    basically thick, frozen whipped cream. I tested New York ice cream recipes (a.k.a American or Philadelphia ice cream- all egg-less)  and I liked the lightness, and custard (egg-based) recipes and liked the way they didn't get the icy bite the New York ice cream did. So I compromised- a few less egg-yolks than most recipes, I got a lighter, but rich, and ice-less texture. Then I went after taste- a vanilla beans for the flavor,  without the harsh note from the extract, but with a bit of vanilla extract to boost the flavor. But the secret: dark brown sugar to underscore the vanilla. Because I don't think flavor can ever be intense enough. And especially not for ice cream. 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream- makes 3 cups base, 1 1/2 quarts churned

1/2 c sugar
2 tbs dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean
2 c whipping cream
1 c half-and-half
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

1- In a medium saucepan, combine sugars, salt, vanilla bean, and the creams. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. 

2- Once the cream is boiling, temper the yolks. To do so, first, pour about 1/2 cup into the egg yolks and whisk until combine. Repeat this two more times. Then, pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan (there should be none- or very few- egg solids). 

3- Bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring constantly. Allow for the base to thicken a bit, or become foamy (whichever comes first). Whisk in vanilla extract. Remove from heat promptly. 

4- Strain the base through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or quart-sized wet ingredient measuring cup. 

5- Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 more hours, or until chilled. 

6- Churn according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions. When completed, transfer to the container you wish to serve the ice cream from. Cover the surface tightly with plastic wrap (reduces ice crystallization), and allow to solidify in the freezer four 2-3 hours. Serve cold, with toppings or with other desserts. 

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I'm on a bit of a cookie roll. I also love puns, but that's a separate story from the cookies, which I thought up when my mom requested chocolate chip cookies, with a lot of chocolate chips. Deal.

I needed a very stiff dough in order to hold so much chocolate without the whole cookie melting. So, I went a-looking for recipe ideas, when it occurred to me- bread! When I make bread, I beat the batter/dough until long stretchy strands start to form. Though GF flours do not have the strong gluten protein, they do have smaller, shorter, less elastic ones... short proteins that can be made to line up and thus form stronger, more elastic structures... structures that can hold up lots of chocolate. Beat for longer and hold more chocolate? Done. 

Chocolate Chunk Cookies- makes 2 dozen cookies

1 c dark brown sugar
1/2 c butter
1 egg
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 c sorghum flour
1/2 c tapioca flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1 tsp xanthum gum
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

1- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

2- In a large stand mixer bowl, cream together butter, and sugar for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture has fluffed up and has a color of roasted peanut butter. Stir in the egg and vanilla on medium speed.

3- In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, stir into the creamed ingredients. Beat batter until it looks stretchy, about 7 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips

4- Roll into 1.5-2" balls and space out evenly on the cookie sheet, leaving an additional 2" or so between (the cookies will not spread very much). Bake 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven when the cookies are no longer shiny and the edges are golden. Allow to stand on the sheet for 5 minutes, transfer to wire cooling rack. Serve warm. 

Chocolate Crinkles

I solved the recipe puzzle! I won 10 points and a batch of cookies! Except, those ten points are ones I awarded myself and the batch of crinkles are the cookies I made as I figured out the recipe. Anyway.

I took these in an entirely different direction than the first batch. As in a "very dry dough instead of melty almost-batter" sort of different direction. The idea was to keep the chocolate from melting while the cookies baked and as a result, absorbing all the powdered sugar.  In order to make this work, I reduced the chocolate, added cocoa, made my flours more absorbent, and added an egg (these cookies have to stay together somehow!). Finally, to prevent the cookies spreading, I chilled the dough before rolling/pressing in the powdered sugar. Which means that this time, they're actually like little snowballs.

Chocolate Crinkles-makes 2 dozen

4 oz baking chocolate (as dark as you like), melted
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c whole milk
1 c sorghum flour
1/2 c tapioca flour
1/2 corn starch
1 tsp xanthum gum
2 ts; baking powder
2 tsp salt
1/3 c cocoa

approx 1 c powdered sugar for rolling

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

2- 'Cream' together melted chocolate and sugar until slightly fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla. Stir in milk.

3- In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients, except for the powdered sugar. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

4- Roll the dough into 1 1/2" balls. Lay the dough balls on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until solid, about 20 minutes.

5- Measure out powdered sugar into a small bowl that is just large enough for rolling the dough balls into the sugar. Working quickly, roll the dough balls into the sugar one at a time, making sure that they are generously and completely covered with sugar. Place on the parchment-lined baking sheets (not much space between cookies is needed- these do not spread very much).

6- Bake 15-18 minutes, or until the chocolatey cracks in the dough are no longer shiny looking, and the edges of the cookies are hard to the touch. Remove from oven, allow to set for 5 minutes, transfer to cooling rack. Serve warm.

Inventing Recipes

I don't have a recipe to share today (it's still in the works), which's time for a meta-recipe post!

Background: sometimes I can find a recipe I like, sometimes I can't, and yet more frequently, the one I want to use is not gluten-free. There are various adaptions to do- cornstarch for all-purpose flour in sauces, brown rice + tapioca flours + tsp xanthum gum for a cup or so, but in general, I make stuff up. It's fun, and more importantly, the trial and error is fun. Like these chocolate crinkles I'm working on:

Kind of the post-apocalyptic, melted-polar-icecaps of chocolate crinkles, no? When I started, the idea for the crinkles came from needing to burn through a whole bunch of chocolate. Taking a cue from my chocolate chip cookies, I used a whopping 16 oz chocolate, no oil/butter (the fat's in the chocolate), agave, almond + sorghum flour, and the usual xanthum gum, salt, vanilla, and leavener (baking power in this case).  But baking when baking the cookies up, the powdered sugar absorbed into the dough. Ah well. Doesn't mean the cookies aren't yummy, but it does mean that, like all GF bakers, I have a distinct "work-in-progress" on my hands. Which means, more chocolate cookies and a recipe to share soon. 

Salmon Salad

Two things I have noticed- 1, it is hot outside; 2- I like my food cold when it is hot outside; 2.5- bonus points for seasonal ingredients. So, with the help of my hungry friends/the fam, we thought up this here dinner:

I was wandering around on the Foodily's a few weeks ago, looking for ideas for stuff to make (what...there's work to do?? nah) and came across various ideas for grilled/baked/poached salmon with blackberries a.k.a- Happy Summer! But I remembered this discovery the other day, only after I had already grilled my salmon. Which meant, grilled salmon salad with berries for all! 

Grilled Salmon Summer Salad- serves 6
*Note: I like my salads dry, so I did not use or mix up a dressing. However, a light vinaigrette, will accent the salad better than a heavier cream dressing. I would recommend a simple oil + vinegar combination, a light berry vinaigrette, or a mild balsamic. 

approx 1.5 lbs of salmon, grilled and chilled
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 cup black berries
3/4 cup blue berries
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, sliced into cubes
2 cups cherry tomatoes
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1 bunch romaine lettuce

1- Mix salmon and mustard to make the salmon salad. Add salt and pepper, if desired. Chill.

2- Wash and thoroughly dry the produce. In a large salad bowl, combine lettuce, berries, cheese, and tomatoes. Try to add the berries and tomatoes at the end, to keep them on the top of the salad. Top with salmon salad and serve immediately. 

Strawberry Scones

I had the brilliant idea to make strawberry-coconut muffins for my brother. Except, he doesn't like coconut and requested scones instead. So strawberry scones it was. 

After asking him what sort of scones he wanted, I faced a tall order: crumbly on the outside, squishy within, and tasting like strawberry but not too much like strawberry. The best way to achieve this turned out to be following a sort of pastry-like method instead of a muffin-like method: cutting in butter, folding dough, in order to achieve a lightness in the texture, and delicately handling temperamental dough in order to end up with a positive yield of scones....rather than dump-and-stir, which is nice...for muffins. As a result, my recipe is filled with turns and folds and rolling-out, since I wanted to layer the butter and strawberries. 

I ended up sticking with my original plan for coconut flour, because I needed something to absorb the fluid of the strawberries, and I wanted the fiber and protein of the coconut flour to hold the scones together, a plan which I also tackled by kneading the dough a bit. Then, tapioca flour made sense to keep the texture lighter and cohesive, rather than crumbly. All this was leavened with baking powder and baking soda, partly because these two beat out yeast in my books and scones are descended from soda bread- at least the scones I know. I added a touch extra xanthum gum to bind the dough, since I did not want the gluey-ness of an egg, but I did use an egg was to glue the outside of the scone in.  I guess that makes these scones the Amazing Inside-Out Strawberry Scones. Which is neat-o. 

Strawberry Scones- makes 18 scones

1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 tbs lemon juice

2 cups coconut flour
1 cup tapioca flour
3/8 cup white sugar
2 tsp xanthum gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, cold and chopped into small segments

1/2 cup diced dried strawberries

1 cup frozen strawberries, defrosted, and mashed
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup tapioca flour

3/4 cup tapioca flour

1 egg
1 tbs water
~ 1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment paper.  Combine the milk, half-and-half, and lemon juice in small bowl or wet-ingredients measuring cup. The cream will curdle, but this is not an issue.

2- Whisk together the coconut flour, 1 cup tapioca flour, 3/8 cup sugar, xanthum gum, baking power, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.

3- Cut in the butter like pastry until it resembles oatmeal or small peas. Toss in the dried strawberries.

4- In a small bowl, combine the defrosted strawberries, 1/8 cup sugar, 1/8 cup tapioca flour. Whisk to combine. This mixture should be a fairly thick liquid with strawberry chunks mixed in.

5- Force the strawberry "syrup" through a strainer, pouring the "syrup" into the large mixing dough with the flour/butter/dried strawberry base. Set the remaining strawberry chunks aside.

6- Add the lemon/cream mixture to the flour/butter/dried strawberry base in two parts. Stir to combine and knead slightly to finish combining and form a movable, fairly cohesive ball.

7- In the center of a large work surface, measure out 1/4 cup tapioca flour. Turn the dough ball in the flour until all sides are covered. Roll out into about a 20"-22" square. Fold in thirds and roll out again. It will be quite crumbly and temperamental to work with. Dust with additional flour if necessary.

8- Spread the reserved strawberry chunks across the surface. Roll/fold four times until a 5" X 20" log is formed. Roll out again into a 20" - 22" square. It will be about 1/2" thick.

9- Using a large chef's knife or bench-scraper, slice the pastry into thirds. Then, divide each third into thirds. Divide each of these diagonally into triangles. Transfer onto baking sheet. Press any remaining dough onto the top of the other scones.

10- Whisk up the egg and water to make an eggwash. Liberally brush each scone with eggwash. Be sure to cover the entire top and dab the sides as well, if possible. Top each scone with a sprinkling of turbinado sugar.

11- Bake the scones for about 25 minutes, or until they are solid to the touch and golden brown. A toothpick inserted into the middle of the scone should come out clean. Remove from the baking pan and place on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm- with cream cheese for breakfast, or whipped cream for dessert.

Grilled Pizza

Somewhere along the way, a routine developed:  start of summer vacation = pizza. School's out,! And not just any pizza! but grilled pizza because I hadn't figured out a way to grill pizza dough since going gluten free and school's out so I've got time.... and a grill. 

The main challenge to overcome was the dough melting into the grill. Good gluten free pizza dough is more like gluten-free muffin batter which, on the grill, equates with gluten free flame-up and no pizza (that later of which is the real problem. Obviously.) To address this, I pressed the dough into shape and partly cooked it in the oven and finished it on the grill, which worked well. Only hold up- when going on the grill, the pizza crust is only partly cooked, so it's fragile and easy to rip. A big spatula, some tongs, and probably an extra set of hands (I roped in my brother for that job), will likely do the trick. 

But more importantly, a solid dough is really important. I have been figuring out how to get my bread dough stronger, aside from relying on eggs, and the main discovery: kneading. I was at the hair-cutter's and talking about baking (it may or may not be all I think about), when she mentioned her own gluten-free cooking experiences. She explained that a friend, who is a chef, suggested kneading dough longer in order to get the much-shorter-than-gluten proteins in GF flour to line up like gluten. So, armed with that rather extended story and a short bit of information, I tried it out on this dough. And it worked! The dough was much more solid than I expected and actually held up to being put on the grill, take off, flipped, put back on the grill, removed, and sliced. Kind of a tall order for a gluten free dough. Though it did not hold up to being eaten. Which is a good thing. 

Grilled Pizza- makes 2 large pizzas
*Note: for this pizza, I made a family favorite: an apple-cheddar-parmesan white pizza, but you should sauce + top as you see fit!

3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup hot water
4 tbs sugar
1 tbs yeast
1 tsp vinegar
2 cups coconut flour
2 cups tapioca flour
3 tsp xanthum gum
1 tbs salt
dash of pepper
1 cup olive oil
3 cups hot water
Additional oil
sauce + toppings

1- Combine 1 cup of hot water, vinegar, and heavy cream. Dissolve in the sugar and pour on yeast. Meanwhile, in a large stand mixer, beat the three eggs. 

2- Combine flours, xanthum gum, salt, and pepper in the stand mixer. Set on stir to combine. Add the yeast mixture and set on medium to stir. Slowly add the olive oil and hot water. The dough should be like a fairly stiff muffin batter. Add additional water or oil if necessary. Knead on high for about 7 minutes. 

3- Meanwhile, generously oil two pizza pans. When the dough has completed kneading (it will be elastic), divide between the two pans. Drizzle oil onto the top of the dough balls and coat your hands (to keep them from sticking). Press the dough into large circles.

4- In a slightly warm oven, let the dough rise for 30 minutes. It will look puffy and rounded when it is done. Remove from oven, and heat the oven to 500 F. Cook the dough in the oven for 7 minutes. Remove promptly (when the edges just start to brown). Allow to sit at room temperature for a few minutes to set up, and using a wide spatula, separate each pizza from the pan with a wide spatula. Bring the oven to 350 F. 

5- Fire up the grill. At a solid medium flame, cook the pizza for a 3-5 minutes on each side until it browns and good grill marks are formed. Return to pizza pan, flip, and grill the uncooked side for an additional three minutes. 

6- Remove from heat, top, and bake in the oven until the cheese is melty. Broil for a few minutes if desired, to brown and bubble the cheese. Remove from the oven, let set for 5-10 minutes, slice and serve. 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I threatened health-food for lunch, well actually, scarier than that- tofu and brussel sprouts, to which my sister responded "And chocolate chip cookies too??". Well, we were flat out of eggs, so I said that wasn't happening. And then I remembered that egg-free people eat cookies too! So, making good on a promise I made in my head to surprise my sister (a promise which I then excitedly told her about), I inundated the house with chocolate chip cookies. As of press time, there have been no complaints and the cookie count has been rapidly dwindling.

In my research for egg-free chocolate chip cookies, I found a whole bunch with oat flour and wheat flour and other non-GF nonsense until I found again the lovely blog Elena's Pantry, whose recipe, inspired my own. The difficult thing about vegan and egg-free cooking is it's hard to get the baked good to hold together. Ever had remarkably crumbly vegan cake? It can be a bit like sand without the eggs, just like GF food can be a bit like cardboard without the elasticity of the gluten. To address this problem, I used a flour combination built with the intent to give the cookies mass (something has to hold the chocolate chips!), xanthum gum (it can be a great binder, because it is extraordinarily sticky), and agave nectar, per the original recipe idea, (because liquid sweeteners stick everything together as well). The "dough" or "batter" or whatever a very sticky, very liquid bowl of non-cooked cookie is called, was a bit strange but cooked up extremely well. Like all cookie recipes, chilling the dough before forming dough balls will keep the cookies from spreading, as the outside of the cookie quickly comes to temperature to prevent spreading, while the colder inside cooks slower. Leaving the dough at room-temperature will mean wide cookies. I like to do a combination of both wide and dense cookies as a chill the dough between batches in the oven. Plus, it keeps the dough off the kitchen counter...which means fewer hands grabbing a taste and a higher final cookie count!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies- makes 45

*Note: I mixed white and semisweet chocolate chips for this batch, but all semisweet, all white, or another type of baking chips will also work. It it best to use a fairly neutral vegetable oil for the oil called for in this recipe- safflower, canola, grapeseed all work well- or if you like coconuts, coconut oil will give the cookies a slightly coconut flavor. For the non-vegans among us, browned butter is very good- use 1/2 cup butter, browned in a skillet over medium heat, and 1/2 cup oil. Also, an all-purpose flour such as King Arthur can be used in place of the brown rice and tapioca flours.

2 1/2 cups almond flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthum gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup oil
1 cup agave nectar
18 oz chocolate chips

1- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2- Whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Stir into the dry ingredients until partially combined.

3- Stir in the chocolate chips in a few batches, until they are well distributed throughout the dough and all the flour mixture has been incorporated. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes, if desired.

4- Working fairly quickly, drop 1 - 1 1/2 inch balls of cookie dough onto the baking sheets, leaving 2-3 inches of space between each dough ball. Refrigerate the remaining dough for the next batch.

5- Bake for about 10-13 minutes, or until the cookies are golden and the centers have set. Remove from oven, allow to set on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes. Once the cookies can be moved without melting apart, transfer to a wire cooling rack. Repeat the process for the remaining dough. Serve warm for a soft cookie, or allow to chill in the refrigerator for a chewy one.

Chocolate Crème Brûlée

After making a stack of egg white omelettes, I had a stack little tupperware containers in my fridge filled with egg yolks. And after floating some ideas at the dinner table about what to do with aforementioned yolks, I received a rousing chorus of "crème brûlée", which quickly and ecstatically evolved into "chocolate crème brûlée!!"...only without the accents (shout out to Wikipedia for telling me what those are).

So, the chocolate-crème-brûlée-making commenced. Crème brûlée is basically a thick custard with bruleed (I think that's the past tense, in English, of  "brûlée"), i.e. burnt sugar on top. The name literally translates from French to "burnt cream". Like all custards, the egg yolks form the base- the same proteins that make egg yolks work as good emulsifiers are the ones that hold all the cream and sugar in place in a smooth and cohesive semi-solid structure such that in general, the more yolks, the more solid the custard. However, in order to work, the eggs need to be tempered, which is a slow process of combining warm liquid (cream) with the yolks in such a way as to combine the two in order to work the cream into the egg proteins slowly to keep the proteins from clumping- i.e. curdling, which basically means turning to scrambled egg yolks. It takes some care to heat everything up, mix properly and then cook the custard in a water-bath (water retains heat well, so it keeps the temperature around the ramekins very stable). But it's, like, um, totally worth it. 

Chocolate Crème Brûlée
makes: 4 7-oz ramekins, or 8 4-oz ramekins
Adapted from My Recipes

*Note: Any combination of baking chocolate will work for this recipe, but I used 6 oz 60% cacao/semisweet, 2 oz bittersweet. Also, serving suggestion: a dash of whipped cream and some grated dark chocolate. And- caution: this recipe is very rich and dark!

1 vanilla bean
1 cup whipping or heavy cream
1 cup milk
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
8 oz of baking chocolate 
1 tsp vanilla extract
few extra tbs of sugar

1-  Prepare a pan for the water bath by making sure all of the ramekins fit. Bring a couple of quarts of water to boil to use in the water bath. Be sure it is at or very near boiling temperature when the recipe is complete. Preheat the oven to 300 F. 

2- Combine whipping cream and milk in to a medium sauce pan.  Halve the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the sauce pan with the cream and then drop the pod into the mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat (about 15 minutes), whisking frequently.

3- Meanwhile in a medium mixing bowl (it will need to hold two cups of cream in addition to the egg yolks) whisk egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract until homogeneous. In a separate container, melt the chocolate in the microwave. 

4- When the cream has boiled, begin tempering the yolks. Pour about 1/3 of the cream into the yolk mixture and whisk until completely combined. Repeat until all of the cream has been added to the yolks. Return the yolk mixture into the sauce pan. Stir in the chocolate. Return to heat and bring the chocolate custard to a boil (about 10 minutes). Whisk constantly, pausing occasionally to check if it is boiling. 

5- When the custard is boiling (large bubbles will jet steam into the air), immediately remove from heat. Divide into the ramekins in equal portions and bake until set, around 25-35 min, depending on your oven, and the quantity of each portion of crème brûlée (smaller quantities will cook quicker). 

6- Allow to cook to room temperature (about 1 hour) and then refrigerate until cold. Dust the top of each ramekin with a light coating of sugar by spooning about 1/2 tablespoon sugar onto the top of a portion and swirling it around. Turn the ramekin on its side, and tap the extra sugar off (onto another portion). Torch the tops of all portions, until the sugar is bubbling readily, but does not look burnt- it may be difficult to tell against the dark chocolate.

7- Return to the fridge until the sugar has cooled down. Garnish with whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate and serve. 

Blog Update

So, I've been working on adding more information to the information pages, which means that I'd like to introduce the About Me pages and the Recipe List page. The About Me, is well, all about me and the Recipe List page is a index of all the recipes that I have blogged, listed by type of food. I'm still working on getting everything there, but that should be current very soon. In the meantime- is the layout of the blog good? Is there anything you would like to see?

Since I have no food photograph to share today, I thought I'd show a picture of the scene that often greets me when I go to blog or work on my computer....  :)

Sauteed Polenta + Brussel Sprouts

The plan was to make something hearty and comforting without being either macaroni and cheese or tuna melts or peanut butter and jelly, which is a tall order in my house. So I decided to go the polenta-and-brussel-sprouts -and fried tomato- route. Of course. 

I've found that brussel sprouts taste like mini-cabbages if you eat them raw, but are remarkably rich and filling and savory if they are sauteed brown and drizzled with a bit of butter and salt/pepper. I'd make them everyday, if I hadn't promised to introduce new veggies to the menu slowly. As for the polenta, I found quinoa polenta (because in my book, there is no such thing as too much quinoa) at the store, in one of those nifty tubes. I sliced it moderately thin (about 1/4") and topped with lightly fried tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Torched, to melt the cheese of course. The richness of the polenta and cheese with the acid of the tomatoes worked remarkably well together- not so heavy as to feel like I needed a steak knife to eat it, but still hearty. This went very well with the brussel sprouts, which means that I have figured out a new comfort-food meal. Definitely an achievement. However, one observation, well actually two: First- I fried the tomatoes in only a little bit of oil to soften them up and deepen/brown the flavor, but I've found that this only works if I dry out the tomatoes first. Otherwise they end up really slimy. And second- slimy is not comforting. Its, uhh, slimy. 

Polenta with Fried Tomatoes and Mozzarella- makes about 15 pieces 

Polenta (from a tube), sliced into 1/4" pieces
3 medium tomatoes
approx 1 1/2 cups fresh, sliced or shredded mozzarella

1- slice the tomatoes into 1/4 slices, cover a plate with paper towels, sprinkle with salt. Lay the tomatoes on top, sprinkle with salt, and cover with more paper towels. Lay a flat cutting board on top and weigh down (the toaster works well). Let stand for 30 minutes

2- Heat medium non-stick or cast iron frying pan or saute pan to medium heat. Brown both slices of polenta, being sure to flip them carefully. 

3- Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan to high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with a tablespoon or two of oil. Place the tomatoes in- and be sure to a splatter screen, as burning bits of oil or tomato juice will be apt to escape. After 2-3 minutes (or when sufficiently brown), carefully flip the tomatoes.

4- Lay out the polenta slices on a glass cutting board, top each with tomato and mozzarella. Torch to melt the mozzarella. Alternatively, do this on a broiler-safe pan and broil for a bout 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and melty. Serve once the cheese has cooled and set a bit. 

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts- serves 6

About 4 cups of brussel sprouts
High-temperature oil
2 tbs butter, melted
salt + pepper

1- Wash the sprouts, trim the stems and ugly leaves off and quarter.

2- In a pan preheated to high-heat, saute the sprouts, with the lid on the pan (this will make the sprouts steam  and cook softer) for about 15 minutes or until almost sufficiently brown. Remove the top to crisp up the sprouts. 

3- Combine the butter, salt and pepper. Remove the sprouts from heat, and place in a large serving bowl. Drizzle with butter mixture and serve immediately. 

Torched Tuna Melts

Just to be crystal clear...I love my blow torch. I think I use it about as frequently as my 10" non-stick fry pan, which is about 3-5 times a week. No, I do not make creme brulee or sear tuna 3-5 times a week (I wish!!), but I do use the torch a lot. Honestly, mostly to melt cheese onto things, or anything else I would use the broiler for. Instead of blanching-and-shocking tomatoes to remove the skin (or peaches, I bet) you can torch the skin and it will peel off. Or you can crisp up the skin of a roast chicken in a few minutes, or you can blacken the edges of just about anything in a second or two (you can even do that intentionally if you want!), or you can roast peppers or do anything else that might require high, direct heat. It's not unlike using the flame of a single gas grill burner inside, in the kitchen. Or you can melt cheese.

There is really not much to this tuna melt recipe...except it gives me another reason to turn on my torch. So, I won't include a recipe other than to say- cover slices of bread (defrosted or toasted) with tuna salad and top with cheese, then torch until brown; serve once the cheese sets and follow up with blowtorch-made s'mores. 


I've been on the look out for a good pesto recipe, partly because I like herbs, mostly because I like basil, certainly because I like green food (or green anything), and of course, because I love pasta, and the GF glass-noodles I like really need a sauce. Last summer, we got lots of basil from the CSA, so making pesto has been floating around in my neurons for a while now, but I hadn't found anything I liked. So, when an Italian-cooking friend sent me a fantastic recipe, that was, well, pretty fantastic. 

Of course, the first thing I did was confuse the recipe (as in I put in tablespoons of oil, not 1 1/2 cups), but I can say, that even that worked. Huzzah for yummy and adaptable! But more importantly, what's so great about this recipe is it's flavors, especially the lemon juice. I noticed that it balanced out the richness of the nuts and the olive oil and brightened everything up. Pesto can be surprisingly dark and heavy, which has been the main strike I have against it. Instead, the lemon really brought out the flavor of the basil and the parsley. It even got me wondering about making a version with other herbs. Cilantro? Mint? Sage? Something else? In the meantime- fantastic basil pesto anyone?

Tay Tay's Pesto- makes about 4 cups

1- combine in a large food processor or blender: 

2 cups of fresh italian (flat leaf) parsley

1 1/2 cups of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic (best if sautéed a bit)
1 cup of grated romano cheese
1/4 cup of lemon juice
1/2 cup of pine nuts.

2- After processing until smooth, add in:  

3 firmly packed cups of fresh basil
 Salt +  pepper

3- Process again, serve immediately. Or refrigerate until needed or freeze for a couple of days. 

*My notes:

If you can't find gluten-free romano cheese, Parmesan can work too. It's more savory and a bit saltier (so you can drop the salt from the recipe) but often easier to find. In any case, the freshness of the herbs and the quality of the cheese and the olive oil will make the pesto. 

You can toast the pine nuts- this will darken the flavor and increase the nuttiness, but it is nice variation. 

Also, if you use only about 3-5 tbs of oil, you will get a very fluffy paste. I've been thinking I'll do that again, and serve it on top of fresh mozzarella or tomatoes or both.