7.30.2011

you might decide


The next time your youngest wakes you up far too early, with the sunlight still sparkly and new, and your head cottony with sleep, you might not squeeze your eyes shut, hoping he will go read books so that you can doze for ten more minutes. Instead, you might pay attention to that light, and the air it flows in on, and notice something. It's cooler, yes, but there's something else, something indescribable and almost indefinable, something that your Maine-born bones and lungs and skin instinctively sense before your mind has a chance to catch on.

Summer is fading.

Sure, there are still plenty of days of heat and blinding sunshine to come, but there, in the early morning light, you can sense fall.

Summer is short in Maine.

And so, in that prophetic light, you might decide to get out of bed, herd the boys downstairs, and turn on the oven. You might gather round you all the fruit that hums I am summer with each juicy bite, a half-dozen free-stone peaches and handfuls of garnet-hued raspberries and tiny wild blueberries. You might toss it all together with a scoop of sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of almond extract, and pinches of roasted cinnamon and tapioca starch, confident despite the lack of recipe guidance, because summer has no recipe. You might even do this before you put the coffee on, such will be your sense of urgency: you need to capture this fleeting season as much and as many times as possible.

With your fruit toppling over itself in your favorite red baking dish, you will turn easily, unthinkingly, towards the grains, letting your fingers sift through a pile of rolled oats accented with small scoops of almond flour, teff, and pastry flour. A little bit of brown sugar, for that caramelized flavor, and more of the roasted cinnamon, and you're ready for the butter. Of which, you will almost certainly tell yourself, a whole stick is not excessive, not in the company of all those berries and whole grains. You will become more convinced of this as your fingers work it into your oats, and the warmth of your hands and the softening butter easily release a sweet, nutty aroma that wafts around your head, whispering that you've done a good thing. As you spread the crumbly topping over the waiting fruit, you will not be able to stop your hands from popping a few pieces into your mouth. Don't feel guilty; the fruit won't miss it.

An hour later, when the bubbling crisp comes out of the oven and you're cajoling the boys to brush their teeth so you won't be late for your farmer's market meet-up with a friend, you might pause for a moment, privately pleased at how productive your morning has already been.


You will be even more pleased with yourself when you realize that the not-too-sweet crisp is a perfect midday snack, shared with your friend after the trip to the market and a walk to the beach, so that the boys could get in some good rock clambering and tide pool investigating. You might even appreciate the energy boost it gives you, as you head back outside to dig a new garden bed.

And because that crisp reminds you of a healthy sort of dessert, you will not think twice when, late in the day, the boys' heads snap to attention at the sound of an ice cream truck winding its way through the neighborhood. You will grab some cash, hurry the boys onto the sidewalk, and wave the truck over, at which point you will buy them their very first, ever in their lives, ice cream truck ice cream. And you will smile and laugh at their excitement and glee, dinner be damned, because what's the point of growing up in a small coastal Maine town if you can't experience the old-fashioned, summer thrill of the friendly ice cream truck man?


At the end of the evening, with exhausted boys falling gratefully into their beds, you will tuck them in and say your goodnights, listening with a full-of-love heart as they list all the things about the day that made them glad. You might decide that nothing makes your day more than knowing your children feel so much joy and contentment with their lives.

And just think, it all started with that light.

7.23.2011

a really great 'just'



Ah.

The heat arrived today.

We've been hearing about this monster heat wave for a week. Many of you have been suffering through it for a week or more. Even here in Maine, it's been hot.

But today, today was when we really joined the party and found ourselves so hot that we continued sweating while laying still with a fan blowing on us at night.

There's not a lot of central AC in Maine. I've never lived with it, and I don't know anyone in-state who does. For most of the year, we Mainers scoff at the idea. What a waste of energy! Whatever happened to window fans and popsicles and playing under the sprinkler?

And then, predictably, for about a week every summer, a heat wave hits and we try every remedy we've ever known and nothing works to cool us down and the heat becomes the only thing we can talk or think about, when we're able to talk or think at all.

I wanted to talk to you today about grilled flatbread pizza. It's a staple menu item at 40 Paper, and one of the things that we don't currently offer a gluten-free version of. I've trained myself to skip right over that section of the menu when I'm having dinner there, but I do admit that it's sometimes tempting to lean in close for a whiff when the boys are enjoying their favorite artisan salami flatbread, and I've felt envy more than once upon overhearing the staff rave about the roasted apple pizza.


So I was really excited to tell you that I made a fabulous gluten-free replica the other night. The dough is easy to make, grills wonderfully, is so tender and supple that you can fold it over itself without it breaking or even cracking, and tastes so good (especially with the smokiness from the grill) that Kalen and Wylie gobbled up one whole flatbread before I had time to top it. When Josh came home and saw the leftovers in two plastic-wrapped bundles in the fridge, he (wrongly) assumed that one packet was pizza from the restaurant, and the other was my version. "I can't even tell them apart!"

I like it when he can't tell the difference between the gluten-free dinners I make at home on a whim and the gluten-full food the kitchen at the restaurant sends out on a nightly basis.

So these gluten-free grilled flatbreads will soon be available at 40 Paper. Well, just as soon as we figure out a reliable way to grill them without any gluten contamination from the grill the 'regular' flatbreads are made on every day. (I'm crossing my fingers that the solution doesn't include me hunched over a portable grill in the back parking lot.) I'm so excited that we'll have another entire menu category that will be celiac-friendly!

But I had even bigger plans for you, for this space. I wasn't merely going to offer you fantastic gluten-free grilled flatbread pizza. I was going to make another batch, and show you that it could easily fold around falafel, or kebobs, or sliced steak, or a jumble of your favorite vegetables and dressing for a 'salad sandwich.' So many options with this flatbread recipe. I'm pretty sure it would also bake up fine in a really hot oven, which might be more convenient than working over coals, although certainly not more fun.

Those were my plans. Until . . .

The Heat.

Now, all plans are dashed, food is served cold or at room temperature at best, and there's no way I'm building another fire or turning on my oven until this weather pattern shifts. So you just get the pizza.

Which is still a really great 'just,' if you ask me.

When I was very young, I was convinced that on hot summer nights, the foot of the bed was the coolest spot for sleeping. Something about the other side of the pillow always being the cooler one must have extended, in my 8-year-old mind, to the entire bed. I remember spending many nights with my head jostling for space among all the stuffed animals and Cabbage Patch® dolls I kept against my footboard.

Tonight, with my face still shiny with sweat at midnight, when even the heat emanating from this laptop is too much for me to handle, I think I just might try it again. It's either that or the sprinkler.


Grilled Flatbread Pizza
Yields 4 flatbreads
Inspired by Elizabeth Barbone

139 grams white rice flour
100 grams brown rice flour
65 grams cornstarch
42 grams almond flour
30 grams sorghum flour
20 grams gluten-free oat flour
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1 tsp psyllium husk powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
8 fluid oz plus 2 Tbsp water
4 fluid oz plus 2 Tbsp whole milk
2 egg yolks from 2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 packet (2¼ tsp) active dry yeast

Combine all the dry ingredients except the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined.

Heat the water and milk in a small saucepan set over medium heat until they feel warm but not hot to the touch, about 90º-100ºF. (Alternately, you can warm them in the microwave.)

Whisk the egg yolks, canola oil, and yeast into the warmed water/milk, then add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just to blend. Increase speed to high and mix for 5 minutes.

Divide the dough into four pieces. (It will be quite sticky.) Place each portion on separate pieces of parchment or waxed paper that have been generously greased with olive oil. Use your fingers (dipping them in olive oil as needed to keep the dough from sticking to them) to spread each dough out into an oval, circle, or long rectangle shape. Your flatbread, your call. Cover the doughs lightly with pieces of olive oil-greased plastic wrap and allow them to rise in a warm location for 45 minutes. It's a good idea to have your doughs on baking pans or trays, to facilitate carrying them out to the grill.

Prepare your grill. I am old-school and use hardwood charcoal, but any gas grill will work fine as well. You want the grill pretty hot, but not screaming hot, and you definitely don't want lots of flames reaching up that will burn your flatbread before it's cooked through. Cooking over open fire is certainly an art, one that I'm just learning, and I don't have the language or experience yet to tell you exactly what temperature you need to be at. Play with it. You'll soon figure out what works for you.

Bring your risen doughs, a pair of tongs, a spatula, and a large plate out to your grilling area.

Remove the plastic wrap covering the flatbread doughs. Working with one dough at a time, use the corners of the parchment to lift it and slowly lay it face-down on the grill. You want it to go on smoothly and land flat, not in a mushed heap. Gently remove the parchment paper. (I used the spatula to help peel it off - it's very sticky dough!)

The flatbread will cook very quickly - really, it's a matter of seconds here. Use the tongs to lift the flatbread to check how it's cooking and move it around a bit if one side appears to be cooking faster than the other. You're looking for evenly-dark grill marks. At this point, you'll notice that the top of the flatbread is starting to look dry and cooked around the edges - this is when you use the tongs to flip it over. Cook the other side of the flatbread just until dark grill marks appear (I'd advise you not to let it burn, except that I like a bit of black on my pizza), and transfer it to the waiting plate. Repeat with the remaining three doughs. The flatbreads can be made up to a day in advance, keeping them wrapped airtight until you're ready to top them.

Top the flatbreads with whatever you choose, and stick them under the broiler (I used my toaster oven) for 5-8 minutes to heat the toppings and melt any cheeses. Serve hot.

7.13.2011

we all scream


Growing up, my family made ice cream in the summer.

I don't remember it being a big deal, no more so than the trips to the beach and playing in the kiddie pool on the lawn and eating watermelon until my whole face and neck and forearms were slick with that sticky water.

It was simply one of the many perks of the season.

For most of my childhood, we had an old-fashioned hank-crank ice cream maker. With wooden slats stained black around the edges from years of moisture seeping out, and an inner chamber that probably turned out at least a gallon of ice cream per batch. I remember clearly the sound of that churn when it was packed with ice and rock salt, my dad sitting on the floor with it, cranking the handle around and around. Once I had the arm strength to turn the thing with any real force, I got added to the rotation of churners; the ice cream took forever to make and was hard work, made even harder when a big chunk of ice would get lodged between the wooden tub and the metal ice cream canister, and you'd need to give the crank a power-charged shove to get the thing turning again. Homemade ice cream was something you worked for.

The ice cream we always made was simple. Just milk, cream and sugar (or was it honey?), with some vanilla or mint extract for flavor. Sometimes there were chocolate chips, that would freeze up hard and be a jaw workout when you got a mouthful.

But the flavor was amazing. Bright and pure and freshly dairy, if that makes sense. Nothing to weigh it down, no thickness to coat your tongue and dull the experience. Just the perfect flavor of sweet cream rushing forward, exploding in your mouth even as the texture was dissolving into nothing on contact. (This last part was especially true when you ate the ice cream soft, straight from the churn.)

I always loved that ice cream.

I did not, however, always love it the next day, after it had been packed into Tupperware® containers and frozen solid overnight. And by solid, I mean solid. That stuff was so hard to scoop out! The scoops really weren't "scoops" at all, but shavings, jagged little pieces that you managed to scrape off the surface before the pressure was too much and your spoon bent backwards.

And once you finally extracted a bowlful, the experience of eating was nothing like it had been the day before. The ice cream had crystallized. It felt gritty in your mouth, and then it melted away. There was no richness, no creaminess, nothing left of the decadence of eating it fresh from the churn. The flavor was still strong, but it wasn't the most prominent feature anymore, having now been superseded by the sensation of eating ice crystals.

Still, it was homemade ice cream and it tasted good and we ate it anyway, grateful to have it.

But then I grew up, and found out about custard-based ice creams, and there was no turning back for me. Homemade ice cream became a much more grown-up affair, what with the egg yolks and tempering and creating elaborate, mature flavors. An added bonus was the diminished risk of my rich and creamy ice cream becoming more ice and less cream while I slept (although it did still happen with distressing regularity).

I have been haunted, however, by the memory of the flavor of that long-ago homemade ice cream. To my palate, custard-based ice creams taste more of eggs than fresh, pure cream, in the same way that homemade chocolate pudding is delicious, but very different from, say, chocolate milk. And sometimes, I just want some vanilla ice cream that tastes pure. I want it to scream at me that all it's made of is cream and vanilla, without distracting me with a fullness, a fattiness, that needs to be worked around in my mouth before it dissolves. I just want to taste my childhood summers, in one singular, startlingly intense flavor.

And I would like to be able to easily scoop it out of its container the next day, please.

Enter Jeni Britton Bauer. Do you recognize that name? I didn't, until very recently. I started hearing some chatter around the Internet about a new ice cream book that was out, by the owner of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, which is based in Ohio, and which I had never heard of. So I read some of the (rave, I might add) reviews, and felt like I had finally found the ice cream guru I needed. Here was a woman advocating leaving out the eggs from ice cream! And yet, her recipes produce rich, creamy, intensely-flavored confections, that don't ice up when frozen and remain scoopable the next day.

She's apparently got several secrets that ensure the success of her recipes. I say 'apparently,' because I haven't actually gotten my hands on a copy of the book yet. But from what I can gather from the reviews I've read, Jeni reduces her milk and cream mixture to eliminate some of the water, uses corn syrup to prevent ice crystals, adds a bit of cream cheese to the mix for body, and thickens it further with cornstarch.

To someone wishing to replicate and yet improve upon their childhood ice cream ideal, this all sounds like genius — if unorthodox — advice. I decided to plunge right in, book or no book to guide me. Because it's been hot, and we really needed ice cream now, and besides, there weren't any eggs in the house to add to my recipe even if I'd wanted to, not after my overzealous fresh pasta-making episode of a few days prior.

And then, as if it was the most normal thing in the world — just another hot weather perk — I made perfect ice cream. It tasted exactly how I wanted it to, needed it to: fresh and clean and lively, nothing heavy, nothing dull. It was still creamy and smooth and actually scooped the next day which, to be quite honest, flabbergasted me, despite the fact that I was hoping for just that.

I gave some to Josh. "What do you think?"

He took a thoughtful bite. His eyes lit up.

"What's in it?" he asked. "No," I said, "I want you to react to the ice cream, not the ingredients. Tell me what you think of it."

A moment, and then he started talking. He talked about making ice cream with his dad as a kid, the clean flavor of real cream it always had, the fact that he'd never had ice cream like that anywhere else, how much he loved it. He couldn't stop smiling.

I had made the ice cream that he had eaten with his dad.

It's no small feat, giving that back to someone.


Vanilla-Brown Sugar Ice Cream
Yields approximately 1½ pints

240 gr/8 fluid oz whole milk
240 gr/8 fluid oz heavy cream
80 gr light brown sugar
5 gr light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
large pinch kosher salt
30 gr cream cheese, room temperature, in a small bowl

Have ready a metal bowl set over an ice bath.

Combine everything but the cream cheese in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a fast simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to the metal bowl in the ice bath. Whisk a small amount of the mixture into the cream cheese until the cream cheese has dissolved, then whisk the cream cheese mixture into the ice cream base. Once the ice cream base has cooled, transfer it to the refrigerator and chill until very cold, up to overnight.

Strain the ice cream base into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pack the churned ice cream into glass storage containers (or use a metal loaf pan), press plastic wrap directly on the surface, cover tightly, and freeze. Ice cream keeps for up to 3 months, although how anyone could resist eating it in the first few days is beyond me.

7.06.2011

gluten-free ratio rally: pasta


"Betta's pasta recipe was one egg for every etto of all-purpose flour . . . At Babbo, Mario compensated for his being unable to find a reliable supply of half-wild, genuinely small-farm eggs by tripling up on the yolks he could get: for every pound of flour (call it four etti), he'd use three eggs, plus eight yolks, not to mention salt, a dribble of olive oil, and a little bit of water."
—Bill Buford, Heat

And that was how Mario Batali's pasta recipe came to be widely known. Not the pasta recipe printed in The Babbo Cookbook, but the recipe actually used at Babbo. An until-that-moment secret recipe.

Obviously, any pasta that Mario Batali serves at his restaurant is going to be wonderful. It seemed entirely appropriate, then, to use that as my jumping off point when working on this month's Gluten-Free Ratio Rally topic of fresh pasta. I also liked the parallel it drew for me, knowing as I do that Josh and his cooks at 40 Paper base their unique pasta recipe on the same one Buford famously announced to the world. My gluten-free version might not be that much of a departure from theirs!

I first discovered the joys of making gluten-free pasta when I got Shauna's book, and began obsessively making her pasta recipe. It is not an exaggeration to say that a whole new world was opened up to me. A world featuring the glories and versatility of fresh pasta. It's no secret that I was over the moon.

And until now, I have felt no need to experiment with Shauna's recipe; it worked, I loved it, why change it?

But when Jenn challenged us to develop our own fresh pasta recipes using the ratio approach, I was excited to find out how much wiggle room there is in gluten-free pasta making. If I used different flours than Shauna did, and different amounts of them, would I end up with a product I liked as much as hers? And what if I used Batali's recipe instead as my guide for the quantity of eggs?

Well, the Batali vs. Ahearn worries were unfounded. Once I looked more closely at the recipes, I found that they were actually very similar, insomuch as they both greatly increased the amount of egg used compared to more traditional pasta ratios. This was encouraging, and further validated my devotion to Shauna's recipe, while permitting me to use Batali's recipe as my starting point without fear of failure.

I played with flours a bit, replacing the quinoa flour Shauna recommends with millet flour, a grain that I've been loving a lot lately, and which doesn't have that back note of bitterness I always detect in quinoa. I used a little less gums, a little more egg, and realized triumphantly when I began rolling it out that I had made a perfect-textured dough. No parchment was needed, and very little flour was used as I rolled it, because this dough was soft and pliable and not at all sticky!

It cooked up wonderfully, with a flavor that was so clearly and deliciously pasta, yet was so different from any of the dried gluten-free pastas on the market, that it made me wonder once again why I ever buy the dried stuff. In the time it took for my pot of water to boil, I had the pasta rolled and cut and waiting to be cooked. Packaged pasta is not a time-saver!


In addition to fazzoletti, I also made ravioli, just to find out if I could. You see, at 40 Paper they recently tried out a new pasta recipe, which worked great for all preparations except ravioli: it lacked the necessary additional pliability, and cracked when filled. But my pasta? No issues at all! There wasn't even a sense that I should handle the dough carefully, that it might split if I was too hurried. It just worked, plain and simple. And it felt wonderful. I filled them with a lemony ricotta mixture threaded with spring onions, and tossed them with butter-sautéed wild mushrooms. Eaten outside, in the summery late-night air, they were the perfect supper. (Oh, and the solution to 40 Paper's pasta problem? More egg yolks. I'm beginning to think that therein lies the secret to pasta greatness.)
 

So there you go. Yesterday I encouraged you to push past any pastry fears you may have and make a pie, and today I'm telling you that making fresh gluten-free pasta is as easy as boiling water. It's all about expanding your horizons around here right now. Confidence and trust, people. That's all it takes. That, and maybe some extra egg yolks.

Here are all the other participants in this month's Gluten-Free Ratio Rally. Thank you so much to Jenn of Jenn Cuisine for hosting this month's Rally! Please be sure to check out her blog, where she's also got the complete rundown of all the Ratio Rally posts. There are some delicious pasta dishes being blogged about today, so you may become just as fresh-pasta-obsessed as I am! And if you're on Twitter, you can follow the gluten-free pasta conversation with the hashtag #gfreerally.

Brooke from B & the Boy made Ravioli with strawberry filling and chocolate berry sauce
Caneel from Mama Me Gluten Free made Multi-grain fettuccine
Charissa from Zest Bakery made Linguini with smoked salmon and creamy vodka sauce
Erin from The Sensitive Epicure made Ravioli with shrimp, spinach, mushrooms and cheese filling in browned butter
Gretchen from Kumquat made Vegetable lasagna
Jean of Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes made Gluten-free fettuccini
Jenn from Jenn Cuisine made Tagliatelle with smoked salmon, peas and parmesan
Lisa from Gluten Free Canteen made Lokshen kugel
Karen from Cooking Gluten Free made Homemade gluten free pasta
Mary Fran from Frannycakes made Pasta with pink vodka sauce
Meaghan from The Wicked Good Vegan made Vegan gluten-free homemade pasta, in creamy artichoke tagliatelle
Meg from Gluten-Free Boulangerie made Fettuccine with sun-dried tomatoes
Pete and Kelli from No Gluten, No Problem made Tortellini
Rachel from The Crispy Cook made Smoked paprika noodles with garlic scapes and herbs
Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef made Gluten-Free Fresh Pasta
Silvana from Silvana’s Kitchen made Lemon-poppy pasta with tomato, corn and basil
TR from No One Likes Crumbley Cookies made Tomato basil pork raviolis


Fresh Fazzoletti (Handkerchief Pasta) with Wild Mushrooms & Spring Onions
Yields 4 servings

The ratio for this pasta is 4.5 parts flour to 3.5 parts egg

For the pasta:
100 grams corn flour
65 grams tapioca starch
60 grams millet flour
2½ tsp xanthan gum
100 grams (approximately 2 large) whole eggs
75 grams (between 4 and 5) egg yolks
10 grams (just over 2 tsp) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fine sea salt

For the final dish:
4 oz/113 grams mixed wild mushrooms (I used crimini, shiitake, and oyster)
4 Tbsp/57 grams unsalted butter
4 spring onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
4 tsp whole fresh thyme leaves
an 8-inch length of a leek scape, thinly sliced into discs (alternately, use a garlic scape)
4 handfuls of spicy mixed baby greens
4 Tbsp/57 grams unsalted butter
1 recipe fresh fazzoletti
fresh lemon juice, to taste
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Make the pasta dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flours and xanthan gum and mix on low until thoroughly blended.

Add eggs,  egg yolks, olive oil, and salt and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes. Dough will come together in a ball and be slightly tacky to the touch.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.

To roll out by hand:
Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, leaving the rest wrapped in plastic. Roll the dough out on a floured board (I use tapioca starch), dusting the surface with additional flour as needed. The dough should be pliable and stretchy, almost bouncy. Roll the dough out as thinly as possible, aiming for a long rectangle. If the dough gets too long to work with, feel free to cut it in half, covering one piece with plastic while continuing to roll out the other half to your desired thinness.

To roll out with a pasta roller:
Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, leaving the rest wrapped in plastic. Roll the dough out by hand on a floured board (I use tapioca starch), dusting the surface with additional flour as needed, until the dough is about ¼-inch thick, or just thin enough to fit through your pasta roller at it's largest setting. Continue rolling the dough out using your pasta roller, starting at the largest setting, and working down until the pasta is very thin, but not tearing as it goes through the roller. On my roller, I go down to the #5 setting.

To make the fazzoletti:
Use a knife or pizza wheel to cut the pasta sheets into square-ish pieces. Toss the fazzoletti in a bit of corn flour or tapioca starch, to prevent the pieces from sticking together. Cover to keep pasta from drying out.

To make the final dish:
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan set over low heat, sauté the mushrooms and 4 Tbsp butter with a large pinch of salt until the mushrooms are soft, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the spring onion, thyme, and leek scape, and continue to sauté over low heat.

When the pot of water has come to a boil, add the pasta rags and cook just until al dente, about 2-3 minutes. Drain pasta and add to the pan of mushrooms.

Add the baby greens and the other 4 Tbsp butter and gently toss to combine everything, cooking until the butter has melted and the greens are wilted. Season with lemon juice, kosher salt, and pepper, and divide between 4 plates. Top each portion with a generous amount of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serves 4.

7.05.2011

do you know what today is?


It’s Pie Day. And last I checked, there were over 1400 people participating in this enthusiastic event organized by Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. That’s a whole lot of pie. So don’t even try to see them all, tempting as it may be. Better to check out a couple dozen or so, until you’ve looked at and read about so many tantalizing versions that you’re compelled to abandon the computer in favor of your kitchen and a pie plate. A much better use of your time, in my opinion.

But before you take off from this page, in search of more pies and tarts and crostatas and quiches and everything else all these exuberant bakers have created, I’d like to talk to you for just a moment about my gluten-free pie crust.


I haven’t brought it up in a while. I don’t want it to seem like I’m harping on the subject. But if you’re gluten-free, I really think you need to know about this pie crust. This is the crust that I used for my favorite apple pie, for the galette that initiated my love affair with apricots, for the tomato tart that kicked off last summer for me, and it's the crust that has most recently been featured at 40 Paper as both a peach-basil crostata and a raspberry-almond crostata. This is the crust that a recent (non-gluten-free) customer at the restaurant was so impressed by that she had a whole conversation about it with Josh, and was amazed to discover it is gluten-free. And she was no ordinary customer – she had a pastry arts degree.

When a person who knows her pastry and can eat the best gluten-full pie crusts fawns over a gluten-free one, that’s when you know it’s really good.


So yes, this crust tastes wonderful, and it has flaky layers that thrill and amaze me every time I make it. But I also love this crust because of how easy it is to make, and the fact that you could almost be fooled into thinking you’re working with a gluten-full dough when you’re rolling it out. Except, of course, that it’s more forgiving than traditional pie dough. There’s no gluten in it, so you don’t need to worry about it toughening up. If it happens to crack or break, you can just patch it back together, and no one will be the wiser. And although keeping things cold counts during the making of the dough, once you’re at the rolling-out stage, you actually want the dough to warm up a bit; it makes it more pliable, easier to work with and less apt to break apart.

I don’t know anyone who’s afraid of pie. But I know a lot of people who let pie dough intimidate them into a corner, unable to believe that they could possibly harbor the skills needed to make a good crust. Throw in the need for that crust to be gluten-free, and the intimidation becomes paralyzing. So many people miss out on pie because of this!


Today’s event is designed to change that. To show people that pie doesn’t need to be perfect to be good. That there are ways around the fear of pie crust – maybe you make a crust that just needs to be pressed into the pan, or you forgo the dough altogether and make a cookie or graham crust, or perhaps you just buy a premade crust. If it ends with a fresh, homemade pie in your house, it’s all good.

But if you want to make a crust, if you want to feel the satisfaction of overcoming your trepidation and make a pie that your friends and family won’t be able to get enough of, then you should make this crust.

If you want to make a gluten-free crust that will still be talked about long after the pie it held is gone, this is the crust you want.

Happy Pie Day, everyone!


Raspberry-Lime Pie
Yields one double-crust 9-inch pie

We devoured this pie yesterday, at our family’s annual 4th of July barbeque. I had made it in the morning, in the rush of packing and organizing and trying to get out the door at a reasonable hour. It’s not my most attractive effort, with cracks and leaks and even some burned edges, and all the photos taken quickly, in bad lighting. But it tasted phenomenal. And that’s the wonderful thing about pie: it’s such a redeeming, Everyman sort of dessert. Even when it’s falling apart, it’s good. There was strong consensus yesterday, however, that this pie wasn't just good. It was amazing.

Make some pie. You’ll be glad you did.

For the crust:
12 Tbsp/180 grams unsalted butter, cold
2 cups/268 grams Tara's gf pastry flour blend
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup/4.5 ounces/about 128 grams cream cheese, cold
5 Tbsp ice water

For the filling:
7 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar, depending on the tartness of your berries
4 Tbsp cornstarch
zest of 1 lime
juice of half of one lime
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional, though I highly recommend it)

1 egg, whisked with 1 Tbsp water, for egg wash
granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Make the crust:
Cut the butter into small pieces. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Place the flour mixture in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse for a few seconds to combine. (Depending on the size of your food processor, you may need to make the recipe in two batches.) Set the bag aside.

Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of a large pea. Remove the cover and add the water. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together. Spoon it into the plastic bag. (It is easiest to divide the mixture in half at this point.)

Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by pressing and squeezing it, from the outside of the bag, until the dough holds together in one piece. Repeat for remaining dough mixture.

Separately flatten the two halves of dough into discs, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for at least 45 minutes, and preferably overnight.

Roll out the crust:
Place one disc of dough on a well-floured board. Dust lightly with additional gf flour, and gently roll out into a circle with a diameter of about 11-12 inches. As the dough warms, it will roll out easier; go slowly at first, while it's still cold and fragile. As you roll, periodically lift the dough and rotate it, dusting your board and the top of the dough with additional flour as necessary to ensure that it isn't sticking to your board or rolling pin. If the dough cracks a bit, just press it together with your fingertips - don't worry, this dough can handle a bit of wrangling! When it's the right size, gently pick it up (your rolling pin can be used to 'carry' it), and place it in a 9-inch pie plate, carefully easing the dough into place. Don't try to stretch the dough, as it will just shrink back when baked. Again, any cracks or breaks can be pushed and patched back together. Trim the dough so that it overhangs your pie plate by about an inch. (This dough tastes really good by itself, so when you trim the edges, you may want to save those scraps and bake them off for a little snack. Treat yourself.)

Assemble and bake the pie:
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

In a mixing bowl, combine the raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, lime zest and juice, and cardamom (if using), and gently stir to thoroughly coat the berries. Pour the filling into prepared crust, mounding it towards the center.

Roll out the second disc of dough in the same manner as the first.

Brush the perimeter of the bottom crust with the egg wash, and gently place the second dough circle on the pie, pressing the two crusts together (against the lip of the pie plate) to seal them. Press/patch together any cracks or tears that form. Trim any excess crust and fold the edge under itself, decoratively crimping if desired. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Brush the surface of the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar. Using a sharp paring knife, cut several slits in the center of the crust to allow steam to escape during baking.

Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, covering the crust with a foil collar after 45 minutes if it browns too quickly. The pie is done when the filling is bubbling and thickened.

Try to cool the pie on a wire rack for at least an hour before cutting into it. Serve warm or at room temperature just as it is, or with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
 
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