Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Let California Strawberries Sweeten Your Holidays!
Knock, Knock! Your favourite berry is here to help sweeten your holidays.

I know, you love strawberries on your cereal, ice cream and baked goods - but did you know that they are delicious in savoury foods too? They pack a lovely balance of tart and sweet that wakes up your dish and makes it sing. And they are a superfood!

Fresh from the sunny fields of California, strawberries are a superfruit for every day. In addition to great taste, research studies continue to indicate that strawberries promote overall good health – including disease prevention and anti-aging. A true “superfruit”, California strawberries boast high levels of vitamin C, fibre, potassium and folic acid. The antioxidants, flavonoids and phytonutrients found in strawberries may also regulate blood pressure levels, while reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and cognitive decline.
With California strawberries now available at local supermarkets across Canada, it is a great time to incorporate them into a healthy daily diet.

Here are some festive ideas for your holiday table, courtesy of California Strawberries.

Festive Red and Green Salad
Recipe and image courtesy of the California Strawberry Commission

1 tomato, chopped
6 California strawberries, sliced
8 oz pre-washed arugula
8 large basil leaves, chopped
1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Combine tomato, strawberries, arugula and basil in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and toss well to coat.
  • Then add the vinegar and toss once more. Serve the salad with freshly grated Parmesan over the top and serve immediately.
  • Makes 2 servings

Succulent Holiday Turkey with Maple Strawberry Glaze
Recipe and image courtesy of the California Strawberry Commission

2 cups California strawberries, crushed
1 cup maple syrup
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp grated lemon rind
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 boneless, single turkey breast, (about 3 lbs, 1.5 kg)
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 Tbsp grated lemon rind
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

  • Bring first nine ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low
  • and cook, stirring often, 25 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and cool. Reserve 1 ½ cups sauce; cover and chill.
  • With fingers, loosen skin at the thickest part of the turkey breast. Slide fingers under skin to loosen and make pocket, leaving skin intact on 3 sides. Press thyme, lemon rind, salt and pepper into pocket, pressing skin to spread evenly.
  • Place turkey, skin side up, in a small shallow roasting pan. Spread with ¾ cup of the maple-strawberry sauce; cover loosely with aluminum foil and roast at 325°F for 45 minutes; uncover and bake 45 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer registers 185°F, basting with remaining ¾ cup maple-strawberry sauce every 15 minutes.
  • Transfer turkey to cutting board; tent with foil and let stand for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with reserved maple-strawberry sauce. Garnish with fresh California strawberries. 
  • Serves 8
  • Tip: The maple-strawberry sauce can also be used on a whole turkey – perfect for a holiday dinner.
For more strawberry-licious recipes - click here! 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Every Kind of Appetizer You Could Imagine!

750 Best Appetizers
From Dips and Salsas to Spreads and Shooters
by Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman

Paperback, 576 pages

This has got to be the be-all and end-all book of appetizers. Seriously. 750 recipes!

We are appetizer people. Sometimes I make meals out of all appetizers and call it a picnic. Whether in a romantic evening for two, a home pub night or game night, night at the neighbour's, or a full-on house party - you will find the perfect appetizers to serve in this book.

One thing I know for sure - I am going to have to throw a lot more parties. ☺

Chapters include:
* Dips and Spreads * Salsas * Shooters * Wraps and Rolls * Savory Tarts, Dumplings and Crepes * Crackers, Crostini, Toasts and Pizzas * Panini, Sandwiches, and Tartines * Fish and Seafood * Sticks and Picks * Knives and Forks * Cheese Please * Mostly Veggies and Bar Noshes * Poultry and Meat * Slow Cooker * Desserts * Basics and Condiments *

And they boast such delicious offerings as:
  •     Easy tahini dip, tuna tapenade, roasted beet and goat cheese spread
  •     Feta-spiked watermelon salsa with chili, apple salsa, Bloody Mary salsa
  •     Watercress gazpacho, broccoli pesto shooter, shrimp bisque, cumin mint cooler
  •     Pepper-wrapped chorizo, duck confit quesadilla, cannoli, beef sushi
  •     Pancetta and potato bundles, buckwheat blini, spinach and artichoke tarts
  •     Uptown croque monsieur, pinwheel party sandwiches, salmon sliders
  •     Spicy sizzling shrimp, smoked salmon and avocado tartare, beer-battered oysters.

This week I made the most adorable Mini Falafel Sandwiches (pg 224) with the Easy Hummus (page 52). So very cute - and so very delicious! This would be great with some little spoons of tabbouleh salad.

Mini Falafel Sandwiches
Makes 36 sandwiches / Vegetarian Friendly, Middle-Eastern / pg 224

These crispy Middle Eastern balls are just wonderful for a lunch or dinner appetizer party. Although we have created the perfect sandwich, these balls are just lovely all on their own too or dipped into Easy Hummus (page 52) or any of the hummus recipes.

Mini pita bread, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter, can be found in select stores. Regular size pita can work here too by slicing into quarters for
pie-like shapes.

•    Candy/deep-fry thermometer

2½ cups    cooked drained chickpeas     625 mL
¾ cup    coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves    175 mL
3    cloves garlic    3
1 tsp    salt    5 mL
¾ tsp    ground cumin (see Tips)    3 mL
½ tsp    hot pepper sauce    2 mL
1 cup    all-purpose flour, divided    250 mL
6 cups    vegetable oil    1.5 L
¾ cup    Easy Hummus (page 52) or     175 mL
36    3-inch (7.5 cm) pita bread, tops opened     36
    to form pocket, cut in half (see Tip, left)
½ cup    shredded carrot    125 mL
½ cup    diced cucumber    125 mL

 1.    In a food processor fitted with metal blade, pulse chickpeas, cilantro, garlic, salt, cumin and hot pepper sauce until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer to a bowl and fold in about 21⁄2 tbsp (37 mL) of flour. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes, until chilled, or for up to 1 hour.

2.    When you’re ready to cook, place oil in a deep saucepan or Dutch oven and heat over medium heat until temperature reaches 350°F (180°C). (You can also use a deep fryer; follow the manufacturer’s instructions.) Form chickpea mixture into about 36 balls, about 2 tsp (10 mL) each and lightly dredge in remaining flour. Add falafels to hot oil in batches and fry until balls rise to the surface and are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

3.    Add a dollop of hummus on the inside of each pita bread half. Place 1 falafel ball inside. Garnish sandwich with equal amounts of carrots and cucumber and serve immediately.

Excerpted from 750 Best Appetizers by Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Colin Erricson
Or try some of these other delightful treats to wow your friends and tickle your taste buds!
Photo credit: Colin Erricson
Mango-Spiked Salmon Ceviche

Because it is made from a cold water fish, this is not a traditional ceviche but it is delicious nonetheless. Serve it on tostadas, tortilla chips, plain crackers or even crisp lettuce leaves such as hearts of romaine. If you’re offering larger servings, think about spooning it into chilled martini glasses and passing forks or small spoons.

Makes about 3 cups (750 mL) / Fish / pg 283

8 oz    skinless salmon fillet, cut into ¼-inch     250 g
    (0.5 cm) dice
¼ cup    freshly squeezed lime juice (approx.)    60 mL
1 cup    diced mango (1 small)    250 mL
1 cup    diced avocado    250 mL
2    green onions, white part with a bit of     2
    green, thinly sliced
1    jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced    1
2 tbsp    minced fresh cilantro leaves    30 mL
1 tbsp    extra virgin olive oil    15 mL
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.    In a serving bowl, combine salmon and lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until opaque, about 15 minutes.

2.    Add mango, avocado, onions, jalapeño, cilantro and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss well. Serve cold.

Excerpted from 750 Best Appetizers by Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Photo credit: Colin Erricson
Vegetarian Vietnamese Fresh Rolls

Makes 8 rolls / Vegan Friendly / pg 138

This is almost a two‑for-one recipe —the fresh rolls are wonderful all on their own but the leftover marinade creates the perfect dipping sauce.

To julienne asparagus, cut into thin slices lengthwise and slice those slices into thin strips.
For a wonderful dipping sauce, in a small ramekin, combine the remaining dressing with 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) soy sauce and 1 tbsp (15 mL) coarsely chopped Agave and Ginger-Scented Peanuts (page 455).

2 tbsp    soy sauce    30 mL
2 tbsp    sweet Asian chili sauce    30 mL
½ tsp    toasted sesame oil    2 mL
½ tsp    rice vinegar (see Tips)    2 mL
½ tsp    minced garlic    2 mL
½ tsp    finely chopped pickled ginger    2 mL
¼ tsp    minced gingerroot    1 mL
2 cups    shredded baby bok choy    500 mL
¾ cup    julienned blanched asparagus     175 mL
    (see Tips, left)
¾ cup    julienned peeled carrots    175 mL
½ cup    julienned English cucumber    125 mL
¼ cup    julienned mango    60 mL
¼ cup    finely chopped toasted peanuts    60 mL
8    10-inch (25 cm) rice paper wrappers    8
3 cups    hot water    750 mL
    Dipping sauce, optional (see Tips)

1.    Dressing: In a bowl, combine soy sauce, chili sauce, oil, vinegar, garlic, pickled ginger and minced ginger.

2.    In another bowl, combine bok choy, asparagus, carrots, cucumber, mango and peanuts. Add 2 tbsp (30 mL) dressing and toss well. Divide into 8 equal portions.

3.    Working with one rice paper at a time, submerse in hot water until pliable, about 30 seconds. Place on a work surface. Spread one-portion of the vegetable mixture in a strip across the lettuce leaf about one-third away from the edge closest to you, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) on either side. Fold the edge closest to you over the filling and pull gently toward you to encase the filling. Fold the sides toward the middle, then continue to roll up tightly. Place rolls under a damp cloth to stay moist because the wrappers tend to dry out quickly. Serve rolls immediately with dipping sauce, if using, or refrigerate for up to 1 hour. Serve whole or for a small hors d’oeuvre, cut in half on the diagonal and place on a serving platter.

Excerpted from 750 Best Appetizers by Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Getting a Little Nutty for the Holidays - Walnut, Pear, and Blue Cheese Vol au Vents

How are your holiday preparations going?

Yeah, me too.

I'm all about the simple this year, and I have some simple appetizers that you can assemble and bake without losing valuable wine-drinking and socializing time. After all, the holidays are all about friends and family.

This is a classic combination of fruit, nuts and cheese - all in a delicate, shattery puff pastry shell... that someone else prepared. Why not take the help where you can get it?

A sweet and earthy layer of balsamic caramelized onions followed by sweet/tart pears, pungent blue cheese and topped with deliciously crunchy California walnuts.

Let the celebrations begin!

Walnut, Pear, and Blue Cheese Vol au Vents
makes 18

6 purple onions, peeled and sliced thin
3 Tbsp butter
balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

18 vol au vent shells - frozen (you could certainly make your own if you wish)
3 just-ripe pears
36 California walnut halves - about 1 cup
1 pkg extra creamy blue cheese (125gr)

Start on your onions - you can do this hours before or even the day before. Make extra and keep them on hand for pizzas, sandwiches and anything else that can be made all the more delicious with flavourful onions on top. I'd probably draw the line at breakfast cereals, but I don't judge. 

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot on medium-low - melt butter and throw in the onions. Cook low and slow, stirring often. Season to taste with balsamic vinegar, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. (Be bold!)
Keep cooking until the onions have cooked down to soft, fragrant deliciousness. (About a half hour or so, depending on pan size, amount of onions, heat, etc.)
Try not to eat all the onions before you make the rest of the dish. Set aside to cool.

Cook the vol au vent shells to package directions. I used Tenderflake (they call them patty shells) and they required 20 minutes at 400°F. Let cool on racks and pry out the lid if necessary. Eat crispy lids while nobody is looking.

Assembly - I like to slice the pear and make the cheese shards as I go along. This keeps the pear from turning dark and I can tailor the cheese shards to my needs.

Preheat oven to 350°F

Place a layer of the caramelized onions on the bottom of the vol au vent.

Follow by 2 pear spears and 2 walnut halves. Push a couple of shards of blue cheese in the cracks between. Top with another pinch of the caramelized onions - for garnish as well as a hint at what is inside.

Bake at 350°F for 7 minutes.

Leftovers are lovely eaten straight out of the fridge for breakfast or even as a midnight snack.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Holiday Entertaining with the President. Part One: Care for a Cuppa?

'Tis the season to be cozy.
Roaring fires, fuzzy slippers, and hot drinks.
Welcoming your friends in from the cold with a little something sweet, and a little something to help them thaw out.

President's Choice, Canada's favourite national brand, has a few delicious holiday treats to make your holiday even more special.

The Holiday Coffee Collection

PC Winter Blend Dark Roast Coffee

An exclusive blend of some of the world’s finest arabica coffee beans, President’s Choice Winter Blend is a rich, bold, full-bodied dark roast with an enticingly sweet, chocolatey aroma.

PC Decaffeinated Dulce De Leche Flavoured Ground Coffee
A luxurious blend of 100% arabica decaffeinated coffee with rich dulce de leche caramel cream flavour – well-balanced & pleasantly aromatic with a hint of sweetness, it’s the perfect coffee lover’s indulgence.

PC Candy Cane Flavoured Ground Coffee

A luxurious blend of 100% arabica coffee with enticingly sweet candy cane flavour – well-balanced and pleasantly aromatic, it’s the perfect holiday indulgence. Made with 100% arabica coffee. 

The President advises: Your Best Brew

Automatic drip

It's one of the easiest methods and makes several cups so it's great for entertaining guests.

Use 1 1/2 tbsp. of extra fine or fine ground coffee per 3/4 cup of fresh cold water. Fill coffee maker with the desired amount of water. Put coffee grinds in filter and turn on.
French press

In a French press, the coffee grinds pass directly through the water, which results in a richer, deeply flavourful coffee. Great for 1 to 3 people.

Use 1 1/2-2 tbsp. of regular ground coffee per 3/4 cup of cold water. Boil water, then cool slightly from boiling point for best flavour. Pour water into press and stir 5 times so grounds rise to top of pot. Close lid and let steep 3 to 5 minutes before plunging filter down through coffee.

Coffee Essentials from the President


Choose the coffee profile that appeals to your tastes and preferences: light & lively, medium & balanced, smooth and full-bodied or bold & intense.


Choose the right grind. Use extra fine or fine grinds for drip coffee filters; medium grinds for French press and percolators; and extra fine grind for espresso machines.


Your cup of coffee is made of almost 99% water. Using cold, fresh filtered water will result in the best taste.


Use 1 1/2 tbsp. of ground coffee for every 6-ounces of water (hint: a cup is 8-ounces). If you prefer a stronger or weaker profile you can slightly adjust the portions.


Make only as much coffee as you need and enjoy freshly brewed coffee immediately. Any coffee left brewing in the pot will taste bitter after
20 minutes.

Leftover coffee residue can build up on your coffee maker and alter the taste of your coffee. After brewing, wash your equipment with warm, soapy water and rinse it thoroughly.


Store your coffee in airtight tins or bags to help preserve flavour and aroma imparted by essential oils. These oils can dissolve if exposed to air for a prolonged time.

And what about those of us who like our afternoon warmth in tea form?

Check out the Chocolatey Mint Tea, a perfect balance of soothing goodness for a chilly afternoon.
PC Chocolatey Mint Black Tea

A delectable black tea blend with peppermint, cocoa shells, spearmint and all natural flavours, President’s Choice® Chocolatey Mint Black Tea is a delicious indulgence served hot or cold.

Peppermint leaves, cocoa shells, black tea leaves, natural flavour, carob pod, spearmint leaves, stevia leaves, cocoa bean powder.

And don't forget the cookies!

PC sippers are perfectly paired with select holiday treats including:

PC Mini Biscotti Assortment
Assortment includes: roasted almond, white chocolate cranberry, dark chocolate chunk.

PC Milk Chocolate Covered Butter Toffee with Roasted Almonds
Delightfully creamy milk chocolate combined with roasted almonds and crunchy buttery caramelized toffee.

PC Candy Cane "Eat the Middle First" Cookies
Made with crunchy pieces of real candy cane, this version of our famous crème-centred cookies has a delightful minty twist. Dunk them in a cup of hot chocolate for a true holiday flavour experience.

PC Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies
Deliciously sweet treats, President’s Choice Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies are the perfect flavour combination – shortbread-style cookie, topped with creamy peanut butter filling and coated in milk chocolate with a sprinkling of crunchy dry-roasted peanut pieces.

This is going to be the most delicious holiday ever!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Grateful to be a Baker of Bread

This week's them at our cooking club is gratitude. Fitting for my American cohorts as it is their Thanksgiving celebration this week, but just because some of us aren't celebrating turkey day doesn't mean we don't have much to be grateful for.

Don't worry, I'll only pick one.

I'm grateful that I can bake my own bread. That I have learned how, that I have an oven, pans, and various fun bread-baking toys. That I can grind my own whole grain flour. And, most importantly, I have the time to do it. No small thing, that.

I am also grateful for all the wonderful people who share this love of bread baking with me. By virtue of the internet, I bake with lovely people from all over the world. Many of these fabulous bread bakers have become treasured friends. Amazing. 

So, when I think of what little I have - when some my friends jet-set all over the world and eat out in fancy restaurants and park fancy cars in front of their fancy houses...

I make simple bread in my tiny house. From scratch. And it makes me happy.

And it makes my family happy. And what can be better than that?

Pão Buns
adapted from Piri Piri Starfish by Tessa Kiros
for I♥CookingClubs

First thing in the morning:

Make a bubbly starter!

Combine 200 grams flour with 250 mls warm water and 1 pkg instant yeast (2¼ tsp).
Mix well and let sit, covered, in a draft-free place for a few hours until nice and bubbly.
Have breakfast, do the housework, walk the dog...

Later that day...

Make the dough!

450gr bread flour
50 gr rye flour
1 heaped tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
200 ml warm water

Combine everything - the dough ingredients and the bubbly starter - in a large bowl.
I like to use my stand mixer with the dough hook, if you want to knead by hand - go for it!
5 minutes in the stand mixer or 15 by hand, knead until nice and smooth and supple, adjust hydration as necessary.
Form into a ball and let rise for 2-3 hours, until nicely puffed.
Divide into 8 equal(ish) sized pieces.
Pat the pieces down to make a flattish oval. Use a thin dowel or the back of a butterknife to make a good indent in the middle of the buns.
Roll and twist the ends.
Place 4 on each silpat or parchment-lined half-sheet pan.
Sprinkle with a little rye flour.
Let rise another hour or so, covered.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Bake for 20 minutes or until crusty and golden.
Let cool on racks.
Contemplate how fortunate you are to be able to bake your own bread!

This bread has been Yeastspotted!

IHCC Tessa Kiros Button IHCC

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Gluten-Free Baking Book

The Gluten-Free Baking Book
250 Small-Batch Recipes for Everything 
from Brownies to Cheesecake
by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt
Paperback, 320 pages

Gluten-free cooking and baking has become more and more prevalent recently. It is something I had never heard of in my youth, and now it seems that a fairly large percentage of the population has sensitivity to gluten. From mild intolerance to Celiac disease, chances are that you know someone who needs to eat a gluten-free diet.

My own daughter is currently going through a GF elimination diet to see if it will cure her sensitivities.

Some people just avoid any baking products in general, but most miss these comforting staples. Since living gluten-free has become more commonplace, there are a lot of recipes and techniques that people can use to replicate the wheaty favourites that they desire.

The Gluten-Free Baking Book brings the joy of baked goods back in to the lives of people who would otherwise have to go without. (It also means that all the baking pans that I gave to my daughter last Christmas will still be useful!)

The authors begin with a thorough introduction and explanation of gluten-free baking with Understanding Whole Grains, Other Gluten-Free Baking Ingredients, Nutrient Content of Gluten-Free Flours and Starches, All About Baking Pans, Using an Instant-Read Thermometer, and Speaking Our Language: Are We All on the Same Page?

The recipe chapters include:
* No-Knead Yeast Breads * No-Knead Pizzas and Flatbreads * No-Knead Hearth Breads and Rolls * Yeast-Free Breads, Scones and Biscuits * Quick Breads and Muffins * Cookies and Bars * Cakes and Cupcakes * Pastry and Tarts * Cobblers, Crisps, Puddings and Dessert Sauces * Holiday Baking *
And the last part of the book deals with equipment, ingredients, and techniques glossaries.

We whipped up my favourite dessert for this time of year, and an easy one to make gluten-free - an Apple Cranberry Crisp. This one has little sugar in it and is just as good for breakfast with some plain yogurt as it is for dessert with some vanilla ice cream. Hot or cold, it is naturally sweet and tart and - gluten-free!

(pg 256, vegetarian, holidays)

Apple Cranberry Crisp

Makes 3 servings

This tasty crisp brings back warm, homey memories of days gone by for those of us who live in apple country. In fact, the first Macintosh apple was grown just down the road from us.

Two medium apples yield about 11⁄2 cups (375 mL) chopped.
If you cannot tolerate cornstarch, substitute an equal amount of arrowroot starch.
If you have your oven turned on to any temperature between 325°F (160°C) and 375°F (190°C) to bake something else, you can add this crisp to it. The baking time could vary by 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C)
3-cup (750 mL) round or oval casserole dish

11⁄2 cups    coarsely chopped apples    375 mL
1 cup    fresh or thawed frozen cranberries    250 mL
1 tbsp    cornstarch    15 mL
1 tbsp    granulated sugar    15 mL

Crisp Topping
2⁄3 cup    GF large-flake (old-fashioned)     150 mL
    rolled oats
2 tbsp    GF oat flour    30 mL
1 tbsp    packed brown sugar    15 mL
1⁄2 tsp    ground nutmeg    2 mL
3 tbsp    butter, melted    45 mL

1.    Base: In casserole dish, combine apples, cranberries, cornstarch and sugar. Set aside.

2.    Topping: In a medium bowl, combine oats, oat flour, brown sugar and nutmeg. Drizzle with butter and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle topping over fruit. Do not pack.

3.    Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until fruit is bubbly around the edges, apples are fork-tender and topping is browned. Serve warm.

Substitute the Pear Maple Crumble topping (page 258) for the topping in this recipe.
Replace the oats with buckwheat flakes and the oat flour with amaranth flour.
Ground cinnamon or ginger can be used in place of the nutmeg.
Instead of baking, microwave the crisp, uncovered, on High for 7 minutes or until apples are fork-tender. Let stand for 5 minutes. To brown the topping, place under a preheated broiler for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Excerpted from The Gluten-Free Baking Book by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Once you've dipped your toes in the water with gluten-free baking - you can try some more involved recipes like this Florentine Pizza and these Hazelnut Chocolate Blondies.

For anyone who thought they had to go without for the rest of their lives - this book is heaven sent.

(pg 63, vegetarian)

Florentine Pizza
This vegetarian pizza has generous amounts of spinach, feta cheese and kalamata olives.

 Drain the spinach well in a colander before drying completely with paper towels.
Reheat leftover pizza under the broiler to enjoy crisp pizza.

Makes 1 to 2 servings

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)

2 cups    fresh baby spinach, washed and    500 mL
1    partially baked Pizza Crust    1
    (page 58)
2    cloves garlic, minced    2
1⁄2 cup    freshly grated Parmesan cheese    125 mL
1 tbsp    extra virgin olive oil    15 mL
2 tsp    dried oregano    10 mL
1 cup    crumbled feta cheese    250 mL
1⁄2 cup    kalamata olives, sliced    125 mL

1.    In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave spinach, uncovered, on High for 2 to 3 minutes or until wilted, stirring halfway through. Drain, place between layers of paper towels and pat dry. Spread over crust in a single layer to within 1⁄4 inch (0.5 cm) of the edges.

2.    In a small bowl, combine garlic, Parmesan cheese, oil and oregano. Spread over spinach; sprinkle with feta cheese and olives.

3.    Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until spinach is crisp and crust is golden. Serve hot.

For a stronger, more prominent garlic flavor, add an extra 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic.
Add 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) snipped sun-dried tomatoes.
Substitute Swiss chard or kale for the spinach and microwave until wilted.

Pizza Crust
Use this thin crust to make Florentine Pizza (page 63) or Sausage and Leek Pizza (page 64).

If you don’t have an 8-inch (20 cm) round pizza pan, use a 12-inch (30 cm) pan. After transferring dough to the pan, top it with waxed paper and roll out to an 81⁄2-inch (21 cm) circle. Form a 1⁄4-inch (0.5 cm) ridge all the way around the edge.

Makes 1 to 2 servings

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C), with rack set in the bottom third
8-inch (20 cm) round pizza pan, lightly greased

1⁄4 cup    sorghum flour    60 mL
1⁄4 cup    quinoa flour    60 mL
1 tbsp    tapioca starch    15 mL
1 tsp    granulated sugar    5 mL
2 tsp    xanthan gum    10 mL
1 tbsp    bread machine or instant yeast    15 mL
1⁄4 tsp    salt    1 mL
1⁄3 cup    water    75 mL
1 tbsp    extra virgin olive oil    15 mL
1 tsp    cider vinegar    5 mL

1.    In a bowl or plastic bag, combine sorghum flour, quinoa flour, tapioca starch, sugar, xanthan gum, yeast and salt. Mix well and set aside.

2.    In a separate bowl, using a heavy-duty electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine water, oil and vinegar until well blended. With the mixer on its lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients until combined. Stop the machine and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on medium speed, beat for 1 minute or until smooth.

3.    Gently transfer dough to prepared pan. Using a moist rubber spatula, carefully spread to the edges.

4.    Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until bottom is golden and crust is partially baked.

5.    Use right away to make pizza with your favorite toppings, or wrap airtight and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Excerpted from The Gluten-Free Baking Book by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

(pg 189, vegetarian, holidays)

Hazelnut Chocolate Blondies

Makes 16 blondies
Serving size: 1 blondie

Packed with hazelnuts and chocolate, these blondies are to die for.

Use a ruler to mark off even bars or squares. Start by cutting in half through the center of the pan, both across and down. Then work toward the outside to keep your cuts straight.

For information on toasting hazelnuts and making your own hazelnut flour, see the Techniques Glossary, page 308.

8-inch (20 cm) square baking pan, lightly greased and bottom and sides lined with parchment paper

1 cup    low-fat soy flour    250 mL
1⁄4 cup    hazelnut flour    60 mL
2 tbsp    tapioca starch    30 mL
11⁄2 tsp    xanthan gum    7 mL
1⁄4 tsp    salt    1 mL
1 cup    packed brown sugar    250 mL
2    large eggs    2
1⁄2 cup    butter, softened    125 mL
2 tsp    vanilla extract    10 mL
4 oz    bittersweet (dark) chocolate,     125 g
    coarsely chopped, divided
2⁄3 cup    toasted coarsely chopped    150 mL
    hazelnuts, divided

1.    In a bowl or plastic bag, combine soy flour, hazelnut flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum and salt.

2.    In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer on low speed, cream brown sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla until well blended. Stir in the dry ingredients just until combined. Stir in half each of the chocolate and hazelnuts.

3.    Spoon batter into prepared pan. Using a moistened rubber spatula, spread to edges, leaving top rough. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and hazelnuts, pressing them into the batter. Let stand for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).

4.    Bake for 32 to 35 minutes or until golden. Let cool completely in pan on a rack, then cut into bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Substitute 1⁄3 cup (75 mL) bittersweet (dark) chocolate chips for the squares.

Excerpted from The Gluten-Free Baking Book by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.