Basil-Cheese Pizza

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I know this isn’t a dessert or even a snack by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s gluten free and turned out well, so I thought I’d share it.  Although we made a vegetarian basil-cheese pizza, you can use whatever toppings you like.

Original recipe

 

Basil-Cheese Pizza
Adapted from Epicurious

Yield: Two 10-inch pizzas

 

For tomato sauce:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes with added purée
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

For crust:

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthum gum
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, from 1 (1/4-ounce) package
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

 

For topping:

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 4 large fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

 

 

Make tomato sauce:

  1. In a 4-quart nonreactive saucepan over very low heat, stir together tomatoes and oil.
  2. Bring to simmer, cover partially, and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to 1 cup, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Stir in sugar, salt, and oregano, cover. Keep warm or refrigerate, covered, up to 5 days.

 

Make pizza crust:

  1. In bowl of electric mixer, whisk together gluten-free flour, xanthum gum, and salt.
  2. In small saucepan over moderate heat, stir together milk and 1/4 cup water and heat until warm but not hot to the touch, about 1 minute (the mixture should register between 105°F and 115° F on candy thermometer).
  3. Stir in yeast and sugar.
  4. Add milk–yeast mixture, egg whites, and 2 tablespoons oil to dry ingredients and, using paddle attachment, beat at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until dough is very smooth and very thick, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove racks from oven, set pizza stone or heavy upturned baking sheet on bottom of oven, and preheat to 400°F. (Preheat at least 45 minutes if using pizza stone or 20 minutes if using baking sheet.)
  6. Have ready two 12-inch squares parchment paper. Scrape half of dough onto each square and form each half into a ball.
  7. Coat each ball with 2 teaspoons oil, then use oiled fingertips to pat and stretch each ball into 9-inch-diameter round, 1/4 inch thick, with a 1/2-inch-thick border.
  8. Loosely cover rounds with plastic wrap and let rise in warm draft-free place until each pizza is about 10 inches in diameter, about 20 minutes.
  9. Using baking peel or just holding the corners of the paper, transfer 1 crust with parchment to preheated pizza stone and bake until top is puffed and firm and underside is crisp, 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Using baking peel and discarding parchment paper, transfer baked crust to rack to cool.  If you don’t have a baking peel, hold the corners of the paper to transfer the crust to the rack, then slide the paper out from under the crust.
  11. Bake second crust in same manner.
  12. Baked crusts can be made ahead and frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap, up to 1 month. Thaw in 350°F oven until hot, 4 to 5 minutes, before topping and broiling.

Top and broil pizzas:

  1. Preheat broiler. Transfer baked crusts to 2 large baking sheets.
  2. Brush 1 teaspoon olive oil over each crust.
  3. Spread each with sauce, leaving 1/2-inch border bare, then sprinkle each with mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  4. Drizzle remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil over pizzas.
  5. Broil pizzas about 4 inches from heat, rotating as needed for even browning, until cheese is bubbling and browned in places and crust is golden brown, 4 to 8 minutes.
  6. Scatter with basil, slice, and serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

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Almond Jelly

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Almond jelly is a popular Chinese dessert that is cool and refreshing, especially after a big meal or on a hot summer day.  This is a family recipe from my dad.  If you’re allergic to almonds or just don’t like the taste, feel free to substitute vanilla for almond extract.

 

Almond Jelly (Xingren Doufu)

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract OR vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-oz) can fruit (such as peach or fruit cocktail) in heavy syrup

 

  1. Put water in a pot over medium heat.  Slowly pour in gelatin while stirring constantly and breaking up any clumps.
  2. Keep stirring while bringing water to a boil.
  3. Stir in milk, sugar, and almond OR vanilla extract.
  4. Pour into an 8″ x 8″ pan and cool.  Cover and refrigerate until set.
  5. Cut jelly into 1-2″ cubes and spoon into serving bowls.  Top with canned fruit and its syrup.

Earl Grey Chiffon Cake

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This chiffon cake tastes like Earl Grey tea in solid form – you have the flavor of the cake layers, kept moist by the frosting, and the fluffy whipped cream melding together deliciously in your mouth.

Baking Notes:

  • 1 Bigelow teabag contains 1 teaspoon of finely ground tea, so you can skip the grinding step
  • Use fresh eggs, because the egg whites will fluff up more when beaten.
  • Separate the eggs when cold, then allow the whites to come to room temperature before beating them.
  • The gluten-free cake dries out fast compared to regular cake, so if you won’t finish eating it the day it’s made, you should definitely frost it with whipped cream to keep it moist.

Original recipe

 

Earl Grey Chiffon Cake
Adapted from Just One Cookbook

Yield: 2-layer 8″ cake

For the cake:

  • 2 teaspoons Earl Grey loose tea leaves OR 2 teabags
  • 1 Tablespoon Earl Grey loose tea leaves OR 3 teabags
  • 6 Tablespoons hot water
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 28 grams + 57 grams granulated sugar (total of 1/2 cup minus 1 Tbsp, if you don’t have a scale)
  • 3 Tablespoons flavorless oil (such as vegetable or canola)
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the whipped cream frosting:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar

 

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line an 8″ round baking pan with aluminum foil to make cake removal easier.
  2. Using a food processor or mortar and pestle, grind 2 teaspoons tea leaves into a fine powder.  If you don’t have either, put tea leaves in a bag and crush them.
  3. In a fine sieve in a mug or a bowl, steep 1 tablespoon tea leaves in 6 tablespoons hot water to make a strong tea.  Cool, remove tea leaves, and set aside.  You will only use 4 tablespoons of the tea (although I found that the teabags absorbed about 2 tablespoons of liquid anyway).
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yolks and 27 grams sugar.
  5. Whisk in oil, 4 tablespoons tea, and 2 teaspoons finely ground tea leaves until thoroughly combined.
  6. Whisk in baking powder and flour, making sure there are no lumps.
  7. In a separate large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites with 57 g sugar and cream of tartar until stiff and glossy.
  8. Add a large scoop of the whipped egg whites to the cake batter and mix gently but thoroughly to lighten the batter.
  9. Add the remaining egg whites in 3 additions.  Gently fold into the batter using a large wire whisk, making sure to scrape down the bottom of the bowl frequently.
  10. Pour batter into pan and gently smooth top with a rubber spatula.
  11. Bake at 325°F for 25 minutes without opening the oven door during this time. Increase heat to 350°F and bake for about 15 minutes longer. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or when the surface springs back immediately after pressing on it with a finger.
  12. As soon as you remove cake from oven, lay 2 thick wooden spoon handles (or chopsticks) across the top of the pan and place a shallow bowl upside down on top of the handles/chopsticks.  Invert the arrangement and cool cake completely upside down.  This step is important, because otherwise the cake will sink.  It looks like this:
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  13. Unmold cake carefully, because it is fragile, and slice it in half horizontally.
  14. Using a mixer on medium speed, beat together heavy cream and powdered sugar until whipped cream holds stiff peaks.
  15. Place one cake layer cut side down on a serving plate and spread with ~1 cup whipped cream.  Top with the second layer cut side down.
  16. Frost first the sides and then the top of the cake with remaining whipped cream.
  17. Refrigerate the cake if you’re not serving it the same day.

Grilled Bananas

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If you’re grilling burgers or hot dogs this summer, why not make grilled bananas for dessert too?  They’re tender and sweet, and are great with vanilla ice cream if you really feel decadent.

Note: For the cinnamon sugar, you can use a ratio of 2 teaspoons cinnamon to 1/4 cup sugar.

 

Grilled Bananas

  • Bananas, as many as desired
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter per banana
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar per banana

 

  1. Heat your grill.  (Presumably you’ll also be making burgers or something like that.)
  2. Slice bananas lengthwise, cutting all the way through the edible part of the banana but not through the skin on the opposite side.  (You don’t want your buttery, cinnamon-y goodness to run out of the other side!)
  3. Spread butter on the inside of each banana.
  4. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar inside each banana.
  5. Wrap each banana in aluminum foil and place directly on the hot coals.  Let bananas cook until soft, about 20 minutes.

American Flag Cookies

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It’s a guest recipe!  A friend who has extensive experience with gluten-free baking made these awesome flag cookies for the Fourth of July festivities.

Baking notes:

  • Instead of store-bought gluten-free flour, you can use 1 cup tapioca or potato starch, plus 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

 

American Flag Cookies

Yield: 20-24 cookies

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • Red and blue food coloring

 

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat together butter and white sugar.
  2. Stir in powdered sugar and salt.
  3. Beat in gluten-free flour.
  4. Divide dough into 3 equal parts, and then take a large marble-sized piece of dough from one and put it in another. Color the biggest chunk red and the smallest chunk blue.
  5. Divide the red dough into halves, and then divide one of the halves into quarters. Roll out the half dough into a long rectangle about 2″ x 12″.
  6. Take about 2/3 of the white dough, do the same, and stack it on top of the red dough rectangle.
  7. Take the remaining two blobs of red dough and the blob of white dough and roll them into rectangles about 1″ x 12″ (same length as before, but half the width). Stack them on top of the red-and-white stack with alternating colors, like a flag.
  8. Roll out the blue dough into a snake about 12″ long and then flatten its sides to insert it into the missing gap of the red and white stacks.
  9. Wrap the whole thing in parchment paper, squeeze together, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 300ºF.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  11. Take out dough and cut it into even slices between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick, along the 12″ side of the big sculpture.
  12. Arrange cookies on baking sheets, spacing them 2″ apart, and bake for 22 minutes.

Azuki Coffee Jelly

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Back in fifth grade, my Japanese-American teacher gave us this recipe for a red bean coffee jelly dessert.  It’s simple, delicious, and pretty with its two contrasting layers, and we’ve continued to make it over the years.

Note on pan size: The original recipe calls for a 9″ x 11″ pan, but any pan with a similar surface area will work.  Actually, any pan will work – it will just change the thicknesses (and aesthetics) of the layers and the amount of time the dessert takes to chill and set.

 

Azuki Coffee Jelly
From my fifth grade teacher

Yield: 9″ x 11″ pan

  • 4 envelopes (about 4 rounded tablespoons) unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can tsubushi-an (sweetened red bean paste with beans)

 

  1. In a large bowl, place 1/2 cup cold water, sprinkle in gelatin, and mix well.  This step prevents lumps from forming.
  2. Stir in 2 cups boiling water.
  3. Stir in instant coffee, sweetened condensed milk, and tsubushi-an.
  4. Lightly grease a 9″ x 11″ pan (or a pan with a similar surface area) and pour in coffee-gelatin mix.  The tsubushi-an will settle to the bottom in an even layer.
  5. Cover and place in refrigerator to chill overnight, or until set.

Applesauce Spice Bars

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The applesauce spice bars are a nice, cinnamon-y snack to have around.  I’m not sure why all the apple bits migrated to the center of the pan while baking, but regardless the bars taste fine.

 

Applesauce Spice Bars
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 32 bars

For bars:

  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free OR all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar OR 1 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon applejack OR brandy OR dark rum (optional)
  • 1 baking apple (such as Rome or Cortland, but I used a Fuji and it worked)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
For glaze (optional):
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream OR 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar OR 1/3 cup white sugar+dollop molasses
  • 2-2 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar OR light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

 

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF.  Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with aluminum foil and butter or spray with cooking spray.  Place on a baking sheet.
  2. Peel, core, and finely dice or chop apple.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  4. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over low heat.
  5. Add brown sugar OR white sugar+molasses and stir with a whisk until it is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
  6. Remove pan from heat.
  7. Still working in the saucepan, whisk in the eggs one at a time, mixing until they are well blended.
  8. Add applesauce, vanilla, and applejack/brandy/rum (if using), and whisk until ingredients are incorporated and mixture is smooth.
  9. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in dry ingredients.  If you’re using all-purpose flour, mix only until they disappear.  If you’re using gluten-free flour, don’t worry about over-mixing.
  10. Mix in apple, raisins, and nuts (if using).
  11. Scrape batter into baking pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.
  12. Bake 25-28 minutes if gluten free, 23-25 minutes otherwise.  The cake should just start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted in the center should come out clean.  For the gluten-free version, the central area of the top of the cake might still look moist, but that’s okay.
  13. Transfer baking pan to a rack and let cake cool.
  14. If desired, make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine cream OR milk, sugar, butter, and agave nectar OR corn syrup.  Put pan over medium heat and bring mixture to a boil, stirring or whisking frequently.  Reduce the heat so glaze simmers for 5 minutes, stirring and whisking frequently.  Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla, if using.
  15. If desired, glaze bars: Pour hot glaze over the bars in the pan, spreading it evenly over the top with a long metal icing spatula.  The glaze cools and begins to solidify relatively fast, so work quickly while it is still runny.  Let bars cool to room temperature before you cut them.
  16. Remove cake in aluminum foil from pan and careful peel foil down from edges.  Cut cake into 32 rectangles, each about 2 1/4″ x 1 1/2″.  Carefully lift off foil.
  17. The bars can be stored in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.