One of the things I immediately noticed about Jeanne Sauvage is the grace and resourcefulness with which she manages a long list of dietary restrictions. Jeanne, author of Gluten Free Baking for the Holidays, stayed with me a couple of weeks ago. We had a grand old time together talking shop and discussing the nerdy things that cooks like to discuss. After a few days with Jeanne, I realized that I’m eating on Easy Street. I blithely graze along eating as I wish. My only restrictions are self-imposed, in pursuit of balance and general healthy eating.
Food allergies, sensitivities, celiac: the list goes on and it is daunting. Jeanne and so many others like her must always be on guard. So with great humility, I now appreciate the good fortune of being blessed with a sturdy constitution. I also appreciate Jeanne’s excellent work in bringing well thought out recipes to those who otherwise would be deprived of the holiday treats so many of us take for granted.
Jeanne was here for a book signing, and baked some samples in my kitchen to take with her. Her rugelach, made with a rich cream cheese dough, rivaled the rugelach of memory from an Upper West Side bakery (now extinct.) The chocolate chip cookies were buttery and crisp, just as I like them. I was, to be honest, a little surprised. Although I have baked all my life both at home and professionally, I have had pretty dismal results with my gluten free baking attempts. Gaining an understanding of ingredients takes time and meticulous testing. Jeanne has done her homework and then some. After meeting Jeanne and grasping her work ethic, I know I can trust that her recipes will deliver what they should. Jeanne left me with a package of her baking mix, which must have been the secret of my success with her shortbread (see recipe below.)
If I ever recover from the holidays (and I know I will) I want to try Jeanne’s jelly doughnuts, cannoli, panettone, ginger cake and, and, and…. In fact, I think these recipes would be even better spread out over the whole year.
|Eat Boutique Market December 2013|
The Eat Boutique Market, the brainchild of Maggie Battista, was the venue for the book signing. It was a veritable smorgasbord of products from mostly local New England artisanal food producers: chocolates, teas, cookies, cakes, jams, sauces, wines, beer, and a cookbook corner. As holiday markets go, this one was stellar, with lots of tastings and a place to sit and have a snack or just regroup. It’s a definite ‘must go back next year,’ a one stop shopping spot for food gifts.
Still, as everyone knows, you can’t beat a good quality homemade gift of food. I leave you with Jeanne’s recipe for shortbread: scrumptious, crunchy and buttery, and suitable for pretty much any recipient on your list.
(adapted from Jeanne Sauvage, Gluten Free Baking for the Holidays)
Gluten free shortbread recipe
Makes 16 shortbread wedges
Butter for the pie pan
3/4 cup/170g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 3/4 cups/245g Jeanne's gluten-free baking mix
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup/100g granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioner's sugar (gluten free)
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/gas mark 4. Generously butter a 9-inch pie pan or tart pan with a removable rim. If using a fluted tart pan, make sure to thoroughly butter the edges and sides.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, salt, butter sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until the mixture looks like wet sand (this may take a few minutes.)
3. Turn the dough into the pan. Press it flat and evenly into the bottom of the pan (it should not go up the sides.) Cover the bottom of a 1-cup dry measuring cup with a piece of plastic wrap and use it to smooth and even the dough.
4. With a paring knife, cut the dough into wedges: first cut it into 4 equal parts, and then cut each quarter into 4 pieces. Prick with the tines of a fork.
5. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Carefully re-cut into wedges. Leave in the pan until completely cooled.
6. Store in an airtight tin for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar, if you like.