Gluten Free Lavender & Almond Shortbread

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

five ingredient lavender and almond shortbread cookies

Everyone has their perfect idea of a good shortbread and coming across a good recipe for one is hard to find. Too crumbly and to crunchy can be off putting, while others prefer the crunch and crumb of a messy shortbread. Me? I prefer a shortbread with a slight crunch on the outside, almost like a crust, if you will and a sumptuous, buttery inside that continues straight the way through until the end.

The thing I love about this recipe is you can whip up these lovely little British treats in less than hour with store cupboard staples. They're perfect if you've got someone popping round short notice or if you just want a quick bake to help unwind after a tough day. In terms of flavor, the almond meal adds a lovely nutty taste and the lavender, which is more like a fragrance, kind of wafts over the shortbread in a really appealing way.
lavender and almond shortbread cookies, british food
175g Stork or unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
200g gluten free plain flour
40g almond flour
1/2tsp dried culinary lavender
vanilla sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 160 C.

All right, let's bake!
For the shortbread, place the plain flour, almond flour and sugar into a bowl and rub in the butter thoroughly with your fingertips. Of course, you can use a mixer, but there's something relaxing about doing it by hand.

Next, add the lavender and mix evenly throughout the mixture. Press the mixture into a greased tin, prick with a fork and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into fingers while still hot and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Allow to cool before removing from tin.

british cookies, shortbread, shortbread biscuits, lavender and almond

Gluten Free Stovetop Barbecue Pork with Jack Daniel's Glaze

Monday, January 28, 2013

easy 30 minute tasty meal
As a southern gal, the word barbecue brings to mind two different types of food--soft and sumptuous vinegar-based slow cooked pulled pork and burgers, ribs and steaks slapped on a barbecue grill on a balmy summer evening.

Oddly, I was in the mood for both types of barbecue when I came up with this recipe. I think it unites the best of both worlds, because the pork steaks are marinated and cooked gently (after being seared) they remain tender and the flavor you get from the Jack Daniel's glaze and the sauteed onions and bell pepper reminds me of a good piece of meat grilled over coals.

I have to admit, this meal is super quick to make--less than 30 minutes and that's down to the Jack Daniel's glaze. While you can make your own (and I do have a recipe for it that I'll share at some point), I happily unscrewed the lid on a bottle of Jack Daniel's barbecue sauce we received for Christmas from my mother-in-law. I've gotta be honest, at the end of a long weekend, the last thing I wanted to do was spend hours in the kitchen making dinner. This is the type of dish that tastes like you slaved over it for half a day. I won't tell if you don't tell.

Pork steak fillet (as many as your family will eat)
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 white onion, sliced
Sunflower oil
Jack Daniel's Barbecue Sauce jar
Rice or Mash

scrummy stovetop barbecue pork
All right, let's cook!
For the pork, simply sear the pork about 2 to 3 minutes on each side until caramelized. Reduce the heat and stack steaks to one side of pan while sauteeing peppers and onions. When the peppers and onions are beginning to caramelize, spread them about the bottom of the pan and place the steaks back on top. Cover and let simmer away for about 5 minutes before topping the pan up with some of the Jack Daniel's sauce. Cover again, reduce heat further and get on with your sides.

That's it! It's so simple and so tasty--you can do this with chicken or shrimp and it'd taste just as good.

Gluten Free Choux à la Crème (Profiteroles)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Choux à la Crème, or cream puffs, as we colloquially call them in the States was one of those treats I'd heard umpteen times on movies and on television but had never tried.

As a child, it seemed that cream puffs (along with other delicacies) were reserved for "foodies" and gourmands. It wasn't until I moved to Manchester that I began to see towering centerpieces of profiteroles, stuck together with melted chocolate and wrapped in gauzy gold strands of spun sugar that I became comfortable with them.

Like many French desserts, profiteroles are mistakenly labeled as being ultimately difficult to make, but these were no trouble at all. Breaking with tradition, I 86ed the idea of piping custard into each bun and opted for the uber American delicacy of Cool Whip. Still taking a shortcut (but one that I think works), I chose not to temper any chocolate (hard to do with a toddler running around the kitchen!) and gave each robust 'role a creamy, chocolate buttercream hat.


For the profiteroles:
1 cup gluten free all-purpose/plain flour
1 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 scant tsp salt
4 eggs

For the filling:
1 small container Cool Whip

For the topping:
Chocolate buttercream, homemade or store bought, your preference

alright, let's cook:

For the profiteroles,  preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking trays with parchment/wax/greaseproof paper. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring water, butter and salt to a boil over high heat.

Immediately remove from the stove and, with a wooden spoon, stir in flour. Continue to stir until mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. This should take about two minutes.

Allow to cool for two minutes.

Add the first egg along with the sugar and mix with a wooden spoon. Mix until the batter comes back together and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Continue to add the remaining eggs, one at a time, incorporating the mix completely before adding the next egg. (Take it easy, this bit kills your arm!)

Once ready, transfer the mix to a piping bag and pipe filled circles. Wet a finger, and smooth down any pointy tops.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake until the puffs are golden brown and feel light and hollow. Should take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool before filling with cream and topping with chocolate.

For the filling, pipe in some Cool Whip.

For the topping, using a palette knife, frost each profiterole with chocolate buttercream.