Blueberry Tartlets

It is off season for blueberries but the canned pie filling will do in a pinch if you want to whip up a delicious gluten free blueberry pie. I wanted individual tarts so everyone would feel special; that I baked them a personal fruit pie; easy to do with this simple filling recipe!  I used my flat bottomed tartlet pans.

Don’t eat these tartlets hot; should be cooled to just warm if you like it so or room temperature or even a bit chilled. They were perfect, just like a big pie only tiny and making one individual dessert.  You could certainly serve them with vanilla ice cream.

Sorry I have not been posting much lately; busy working and out of town on a retreat.  Just been hard to find time to focus on my blog but these tartlets were just too good to not blog about.

Angie’s GF Blueberry Tartlets: makes 6

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 large egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

You will need 1 square attached set of flat bottom 4 inch tartlet pans or two if you make them all at once. I refrigerated my dough and made the second batch of a day later. Adjust the filling to the number of tartlets you are baking.

blueberry-tartlets-baked

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

1 21 ounce can of blueberry pie filling

Zest of one small lemon

2 tbsp. lemon juice

Sprinkle of cinnamon

I made it in two parts; used part of can and lemon for each batch. Adjust accordingly.

Break dough into 2 balls, one a bit bigger.  Roll out each crust in a pie bag or between the two sheets of wax paper, try to get the thickness even and somewhat thin, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place across the tart pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper. Cut into four squares, mold to fit the pan Crimp edges all around.  Or not; I left mine kinda rough but it worked. Fill each tartlet with blueberry mixture after you have the crumb topping ready to go. Do the same with the other portion of dough; makes 3 crusts.

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form. If you let them go extra long you get big fat crumbs if you want that look.

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Sprinkle the top of each tartlet with crumb mix; use as much as you like.  I didn’t measure; just sprinkled until the fruit was barely visible through the crumbs. Up to your personal taste… It sinks partially into the fruit mixture and adds lots of sweetness and eye appeal. Sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon.

blueberry-tartlets-unbaked

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 35 minutes until bubbly and the crumb crust is light brown.  Cool at least 1 hour before serving at room temperature.  I think it is best served the same day you make it, or no more then 18 hours after baking for optimal flavor.  The crumbs will get soggy if too much time passes. Mine was still very good the next day.

blueberry-tartlets-baked

Note: if you find your bottom crust is not browning enough bake it empty at 375 degrees for 6-7 minutes before filling it with the fruit.  I have a bottom heat pizza style oven which gives me perfect pie crust so I don’t ever have pale pie crust. This is a big benefit of having this type of oven; it is a two oven range with a full sized lower oven.

blueberry-tartlets-cut

Not a great picture; day after they were baked and after I cut the last tartlet in half.  So yummy I totally forgot to take a picture after the first batch!

Brown Rice Flour Mix (Same as King Arthur GF All purpose blend)
2 c brown rice flour (finely ground)

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour

1/3 c tapioca flour

Note: the crust and crumb recipe are out of Annalise Roberts cookbook, Gluten Free Baking Classics, Second Edition. Adaptation and filling recipe are mine.

Fun Winter Salads

Winter is not known as the season for great salad but it could be! It has been so warm here in PA I am longing for supper fruits so these salads can fill that bill when you are meal planning.

I am giving you two salads for this post plus variations for each. Try your own blends but it is best not to throw everything in the fridge in it.  Try to be selective and highlight one or two ingredients.  Simple ones I like have only three – five ingredients and I use my homemade vinaigrette dressing.   They are pretty healthy and probably fairly low in calories yet high in nutritional value.  These are basic recipes which you can tweak depending on the ingredients in your fridge.

Here are two February versions of my winter salad.  This is a repost from my blog a year or two ago but honestly, I eat these salads all winter long and think you should too. Recently I bought a bag of blood oranges at Aldi’s and used them in lieu of a navel orange; totally different look but pretty much the same flavor; fun!  Another change is I use cubed papaya in lieu of the orange.  Love that one too.

Super Winter Salad (serves 1)

 

½ an avocado

1 celery stalk

3-4 leaves of green loose leaf lettuce

2-3 tbsp. fresh pomegranate seeds

 

Or try this yummy winter salad which shows off citrus flavor and color:

s

Citrus Fennel Salad (serves 1)

1 inner stalk of celery cut in 1/3 inch rounds

1 navel orange

¼ cup fennel bulb, cut in ¼-1/3 inch slices

Peel the orange, either by hand or using a paring knife.  Cut across into rounds about ¼-1/3 inch across.  Cut again across into halves.

Fennel has a sweet crunch to it, faintly tasting of licorice, kinda sort of and it marries really well with citrus.  I also like to use blood orange or cara cara navel oranges in this recipe.  Even grapefruit slices are great.  Cara cara oranges have an interesting orange-pinkish cast to the fruit and a lovely sweet flavor.  The local Giant grocery store has them on display right now.  You can also mix two citrus in your salad; a navel and a blood orange.  Fantastic!

Finishing directions for both salads:

Place the salad ingredients in your salad dish; I have some very low sided ceramic bowls I got a long time ago that I love for salad. Then sprinkle the salad with vinaigrette which you just shook up one last time! Please don’t add too much salad dressing or you will have soggy salad.

Margie’s Vinaigrette

I named this after my older sister who passed away several years ago.  She made fantastic vinaigrette.  Mine is not quite like hers but close enough to masquerade as it.  She would approve….

So, I like to use one of those Good Seasoning’s jars but add my own ingredients, use a pint jar if you like; the main thing is a tight fitting lid.  Fill it to the vinegar line with red wine vinegar, not the cheap store brand (skimpy 1/4 cup).  Then some filtered water to the water line (about 1/3 inch more or two tbsp.). Next I add ½ tsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp dried oregano, a sprinkle of dried thyme, 1 tsp mayonnaise, ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, ½ tsp sugar and [optional] one garlic clove (peeled and mashed down a bit to release flavor),. Then add extra virgin olive oil, stop a bit before the oil line and finish it with lighter olive oil (1/2 cup plus one tbsp of combined olive oils).  Shake it up really well. Then shake it some more, you need to get the mayo to blend in as completely as possible. It tastes best at room temperature and plan ahead – let it rest for at least an hour before you use it the first time.  Keep it in the refrigerator if there is any left over, lasts like a month in there. The mustard adds snap and the bit of mayo helps the dressing stay emulsified (fully blended) longer than it would without the mayo.  If your salad is delicate and you don’t want as much olive oil flavor use only mild olive oil and skip the EVOL.  If you chill the dressing you will need to let it warm up before using it; ten seconds in the microwave can help with that process.

Note: You could up the nutritional value with a few almonds or walnuts if you like nuts in your salad.

More thoughts: I make any number of salad combos.  Two of my favorite ingredient combinations are: shredded carrot, sliced radishes, chickpeas, romaine and half rounds of European cucumber or a mixture of torn kale leaves, shredded raw Brussels sprouts, scallion rounds and julienned raw summer squash.  Both mixtures are great with this vinaigrette.  Just don’t put more than say five things in any one salad or it will have a mixed up taste.

Last thoughts: I avoid tomatoes in winter although some of the grape tomatoes are pretty tasty; use them if you feel the need for tomatoes.

So, go get your healthy green on and enjoy a fruity salad, even in the winter.

Reposted from February 2015 with minor changes.

Bland, Boring, Blaa!

Eating out is a scary maneuver for people with celiac disease.  Just a touch of cross contamination from the food cooked on the grill or pan just before my steak or seafood can make me feel pretty sick. Or a careless chef with flour on their hand gets just a few specks on my plate.  Or gf pasta cooked in the same water as regular pasta. That is all it takes to get glutened. But, I love to try new places so occasionally I brave my fears and dine out.  A few weekends ago we ate at Bravo at the Lehigh Valley Mall.  Their staff was really friendly and welcoming.  The place was hopping on a Saturday night at 6 pm. We had reservations but still waited about ten minutes for a table.  Families were all around us chowing down on good looking pasta.  I was hopeful.

There were no appetizers that were marked gluten free.  Bummer.  But I had an okay chopped salad with a decent dressing, the iceberg lettuce had some lumps of saggy pale lettuce but other than that it was tasty.  After a bit of a wait, our entrees were served. Mine was shrimp scampi with a white wine sauce and rotini gf pasta.  There were tiny squares of pallid tomato on top and a few microscopic flecks of fresh parsley.  The nice waitress piled on the freshly grated cheese, anything to improve the looks of this sad dish was my thought in that moment. Diving in, I couldn’t even taste any garlic. None, nadda. The shrimp were on the small side and pretty much flavorless.  The pasta wasn’t half bad even though I have never seen rotini served hot with an entrée: it is mostly used in pasta salads.  The sauce was mildly enjoyable but totally unmemorable. What the flecks of sad tomato were doing there is anyone’s guess.  Maybe a touch of color?

I see this dish as one of those gold standards that every Italian restaurant should be able to knock out of the park.  I make it myself, mine has fleck of fresh rosemary, lemon zest and bread crumbs (gf of course) and I tend to serve it with steaming hot rice. My guy is always enthusiastic when this is what’s for supper. The scampi at Bravo was nothing like homemade.  It was pale, extremely mild in flavor and as bland as you would never want.  Shrimp scampi should have bold flavors of garlic and butter that announce themselves on the first bite.  soup-003The shrimp should be large and plentiful, firm and full of flavor; they are the star of the dish after all!  Sadly, this dish had nothing going for it other than the pasta was not overcooked.

My guy had a lasagna bolognese which was similarly dull in flavor but fairly edible.  Same rule applied to the Italian wedding soup which was his appetizer. Nothing special.

Dessert was the highlight of our visit; a Crème Brulee which was perfectly constructed with a creamy rich custard and a true hard crack brown sugar crust.  There were some pieces of fresh fruit on top.  Naturally gluten free and quite yummy! I wish I had taken a picture of its perfection!

The gluten free menu choices are very bland looking; this was the most exciting thing on the list as far as I could tell.  We folks with celiac love good food just like anyone else.  We don’t want dull mildly flavored meals that could be fed to a toddler.  I wanted true Italian zing and that was totally lacking in the food I was served.  This nationwide chain should be ashamed of itself. I did call the restaurant and ask to speak to the manager, identifying myself as a food blogger. No response was ever given.  If you want bland gluten free; then this is your place. We won’t be going back. Still searching for anything even half as good as Bella’s in Hellertown.

My Other Blog!

I recently started blogging on the on line version of a local magazine; Lehigh Valley Style.  You can find my posts on their site: go to http://www.lehighvalleystyle.com/ and click on blogs.  My new post goes up about the 5 to 9th of the month.  It is fun to blog for the magazine, reporting on local places to grab a gluten free bite.  If you live in my geographic area you might want to check out their site.  Working hard to find some new places to eat at; please comment if you have a local place you would like me to review as to their gluten free menu options. blondie-cupcake

This month was Blondie’s Cupcakes in Catty; great halupkies too! That’s stuffed cabbage to the unknowing…they also have fifty funky different versions of the hot dog and a few other things we celiacs can’t actually eat.  Suggest you read my review to know more.

This is a fun new opportunity for me as a blogger. More things to juggle in my busy life! blondie-halupkie

Enjoy!
Halupkie for Supper…mmmmmmm

 

Eight Bean Storm Soup

Snowstorm today, time for a hearty stew.  This is my multi-bean soup with Italian sausage.  I started with a 1.3 lb bag of 4 bean mix and added two kinds of lentil and a bit of a few others.  The thing is, if you have celiac most 15 bean mixtures for soups contain barley which has gluten, a major no no. I found a four bean mix out at Echo Hill country store  in Berks County and added some French lentils; maybe ¼ a cup and some red lentils; another ¼ cup plus a ¼ cup of dried garbanzo beans and a sprinkling of dried limas.  You can use what ever blend you like but I like a good mix for a rich thick stew.   Update: Later on today, at the grocery store I found a bag of 15 beans for soup and no barley!! Giant Store here in town. Great score for more bean soup.

Mine has Italian sausage but you can leave that out if you want a vegetarian version. I personally love sausage in a bean stew. Gives you lots of meaty flavor and a healthy dose of protein. I am guessing you could use other things like smoky ham chunks or maybe a ham hock? I haven’t found any gf ham hocks yet; they all seem to have a touch of gluten so I am kinda discouraged over that.

I enjoyed a hot bowl of this potage with a slice of toasted multigrain gf bread.  It made a full meal without anything else being necessary.   A fresh crunchy salad would go well if you want to round your dining experience out with some greens!

Ten Bean Soup with Sausage

Soak 1- 1/12 pounds of dried beans in water to cover.  I set the lentils aside and added them after the soaking as they don’t need the same treatment the other beans need.  Either bring to a boil and let stand an hour or just let stand in the cold water overnight.  I did the quick version!  Drain them well and rinse before returning the swollen legumes to the rinsed pot.  Cover with fresh filtered water and add a bay leaf.  Cook 1 hour, pour in more water as needed and stir so it doesn’t stick or burn.  Then, add the lentils and cook another hour until the beans are nearly tender.  It is hard to say when beans get done, depends on a number of factors, taste often to check for tenderness. And stir that pot! As they approach that almost done spot start the rest of the dish.

Chop into dice:

3 sizable carrots

1 large onion

Mince: 2 big garlic cloves

Add the veggies, stir and cook 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add water if needed.  I like the soup thick but it can’t be solid so add water.

As that cooks start the sausage.  Sauté one lb Italian sausage: brown in a Teflon pan with a touch of olive oil until top and bottom are browned and sausage is mostly done. Let cool a bit and slice into rounds or chunks, set aside.

Add to the soup:

½ a 14 ounce can of spicy diced tomatoes

½ tsp. dried oregano

Sprinkle dried basil

1 bay leaf

¼ tsp smoked paprika

1 beef bullion cube

½ bunch of kale leaves cut into big shreds; I cut off the bigger stems as they can be tough.

1-2 tsp sea salt

Some fresh ground black pepper

Cook ten minutes, add more water if it gets too thick. Stir occasionally.  Taste and add more spice if you think the soup needs more. Add the sliced sausage and cook five minutes more.  Taste and add more salt/pepper as you see necessary.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before ladling out.  Now that is comfort food that is good for you too! Enjoy.

Alternate cooking method that I used this week (2-17).  Cook soaked beans in a separate pot until nearly tender. Meanwhile, saute veggies for about 5 minutes in a big pot in about 2 tbsp. EVOL, add 6 sausage links; cook 8 to ten minutes; add canned tomatoes, then broth and all seasonings.  Cook 5 minutes, add the beans that are about done and cook 10 minutes, remove the sausage and let cook five minutes, slice into rounds and add back in, cook 5-15 more minutes until beans taste done.  Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Originally posted two years ago in January 2015. Minor revisions; recipe remains the same.