Comfort food & gluten-free baking

Is it the impending snow storm, reading “Julie & Julia” on a Kindle, or gazing at the photos in Don Pintabona’s “The Shared Table: Cooking with Spirit for Family & Friends?” No one in my family really cares. They’re just happy that I decided to cook. It’s cold outside. Comfort food recipes come to mind. I couldn’t find duck legs for casoulet and I’d made beef bourgounian last week. I didn’t feel like the work that’s involved in eggplant rolatini. What else? Some approximation of my Nonna’s chicken cacciatore would be fabulous. I put two 9×12 dishes in the oven — on convection to speed things up. I was hungry. It’s quite a simple recipe. It calls for (I love saying that) onions, white potatoes, chicken (perferrably dark meat with or without skin and bones), salt, Italian seasoning, and a lot of oil. Toss it together and bake for a long time, usually until the potatoes are done. Serve with a salad featuring olive oil and red wine vinegar for an authentic Nonna experience. For a 21st century non-toxic experience, use organic when possible, especially for animal products.

I wanted something dessert-y, too. I grabbed “One Bite at a Time: Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and their Friends” by Rebecca Katz. It’s a deceiving name — the cookbook is for anyone who wants to eat nourishing, soul-satisfying food. I found a lovely gluten-free recipe for an almond torte.

Flourless Almond Torte

3 large eggs, separated

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups almond meal

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch round baking pan with Spectrum Coconut Oil Spray and dust with almond meal. (I like Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour.)
  2. Beat eggs white with salt until stiff peaks form. There are two tricks success: the eggs white must be at room temperature and there must be no yolk or fat in the whites. Set aside
  3. Beat egg yolks, gradually adding maple syrup until thick and foamy.
  4. Add almond and vanilla extracts and almond meal and mix well.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the batter gently.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes. Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Unmold to cool completely.
  7. Serve with fresh whipped cream and berries or dusted with cocoa or confectioners’ sugar or simply naked.

I am going to try this recipe with some modification. I’ll let you know what happends. And because several individuals who will remain unnamed prefer something chocolate after a meal, I made a recipe for chocolate financiers from “Gluten-Free Girl” by Shawna James Ahern. I put the batter into madelaine molds instead. They’re tinier and more French that way.

Chocolate Financiers

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup almond flour

4 Tablespoons cocoa

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3 egg whites, beaten

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter the madelaine molds.
  2. Melt butter.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients.
  4. Add egg whites and extract.
  5. Stir in melted butter until batter is smooth.
  6. Pour into molds.
  7. Bake 10 minutes. Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Unmold and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.