Suzi's Blog

The Glorious Gluten-Free Version of Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Upside Down Cake: By Suzen O’Rourke

editted IMG_4214I was in error yesterday. The Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Upside Down Cake was fine, but my description of the version that Suzen was so proud of – well, I did not do justice to her version.

Cooking by the Book works very closely with Center for Celiac Disease at Columbia University. Founded by Dr. Peter Green, the world’s foremost expert in celiac disease, the Center provides a variety of services for people with celiac. Those expanding rows of gluten-free products in your grocery store? They are in response to the rapidly growing population of children and adults who have developed the disease. Untreated, celiac can wreak havoc with both the patient and their family.

How does Cooking by the Book help? We offer monthly events for the Center’s patients, showing families how to prepare gluten-free dishes that are a match for any gluten-based dish out there. There is no reason, none at all, for someone with celiac to ever feel food-compromised. Our gluten-free meals here bring smiles to everyone.

Which is why Suzen was so proud of her gluten-free cake. It’s delicious. It’s every bit as incredible as the original. Suzen’s modifications to the recipe are included in the reworked recipe below.

What changes did Suzen have to make? Well, obviously, the flour in the original recipe had to go, replaced by a Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour, a product available from the famous grain product firm Bob’s Red Mill. If you have a special need, look to Bob’s to assist you.

Oh, three was one more change: adding some xanthan gum as a new dry ingredient. What’s that? Xanthan is produced by fermenting corn sugar — it seems corn is embedded into our culinary lives where ever we turn. Xanthan is a thickener, emulsifier and stabilizer. You most probably have had it in some dairy products or commercial salad dressing.

Here, the properties of xanthan are exactly what is needed to compensate for the absence of gluten and the structure that if provides in, say, a cake.

With or without gluten, this recipe is superior. Its creator has suggested it be consumed for an eye-opening breakfast. Let’s see: cereal or outstanding cake?

Cake, please!

 

Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Upside Down Cake: Gluten Free Version

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

For the balsamic vinegar glaze and strawberry spiral:

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup golden balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

 

For the cake:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup golden balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cup Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour from Bob’s Red Mill
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ⅔ cups olive oil

 

Preparation:

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray an 8-inch cake pan with olive oil spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper (this is an important step — it will help your cake release from the pan after baking without disturbing the arrangement of your strawberries). Spray again with olive oil.

Remove stems and slice strawberries vertically. Arrange them in a spiral, starting with the outside layer and overlapping slightly at the bottom of the cake pan.

Combine the brown sugar, golden balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey in a stainless steel pan and whisk to emulsify. Bring to a boil and stir frequently until thickened enough that it drips more slowly from your stirring spoon. Remove from heat and pour carefully over the arranged strawberries.

To make the cake batter, start by whisking together in one bowl the sugar, buttermilk, vinegar, and eggs.

In another bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder, xanthan and salt.

Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients in three stages, stirring to incorporate each time.

Add your olive oil in 3 stages, folding and stirring to incorporate each time.

Slowly and carefully pour the batter over the strawberries. Don’t pour too rapidly, or you’ll displace your carefully-arranged spiral.

Bake for approximately an hour. The cake is done when the top is golden and it has pulled away slightly from the edges of the pan.

Cool for 10 minutes, and then run a knife between the cake and the pan to make sure it is completely loosened.

Put a flat plate atop the pan, and then, using potholders to protect your hands, quickly flip the cake while holding the plate tightly to the pan.

Slowly lift the pan, and the cake will be sitting, covered in parchment paper, on the plate. Peel off the parchment paper and be greeted by a beautiful spiral of sweet-tart fruit atop a golden cake.

 

Source: indieculinary at Food52c with modifications by Suzen O’Rourke

Photo Credits: Canon T2i, 18-55mm lens at F/4.5, 1/50 second at ISO 3200 [no flash]

 

Bacon and Balsamic Glazed Sugar Snap Peas

zv7qrnb

Have you ever had a bad vegetable week? I almost did. But, thanks to Yummly.com, all is well.

You probably know about the recipe website Epicurious.com. It’s fantastic. Owned by publisher Conde Nast, it features recipes from both Bon Appetit and the now, sadly, lost Gourmet. Now in marriage, monogamy is the standard. For recipe websites, you are allowed to date. And Yummly.com is a site I heartily suggest. You’ll search on Yummly and often get directed to another website with the actual recipe, like Allrecipes.com.

This Yummly search engine provides thousands upon thousands of recipes and is fast. I needed speed.

My problem began last Friday. When Suzen has an event at Cooking by the Book, after the guests are served, the staff hangs in the kitchen for the staff meal. On Friday, I sampled the mashed potatoes, the gravy, the chicken.

“You forgot the green beans,” one of Suzen’s Culinary Advisors, Charmaine, said to me. Charmaine smiled when she said it, but she knew she has Suzen’s authority to monitor my plate. They all monitor my plate and how much dessert I try to sneak off with.

“Uh, not enough room on my plate,” I said as I fled to my office beyond the kitchen. I caught Suzen’s eye as I passed. Yeah, there was plenty of room on the plate. I just did not want more green vegetables.

So on Saturday, in the store Suzen held up a bag of sugar snap peas. “Will you eat these?” she asked with a hint of exasperation.

I really, really wanted to say no. It’s green. It’s a vegetable. Hasn’t my wife ever seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers? That’s how it all begins, you know. Some pod-like thing look innocent, maybe even tasty, and then the whole world is consumed. I’m not trying to dodge vegetables here. I’m just trying to save the planet.

After the green bean incident, I knew the ice was thin. “Can we compromise?” I asked.

“How?”

“I’ll find a recipe. Something a little exotic. Tasty.”

“Healthy.”

“Maybe. Well, hell, it’s going to be based on sugar snaps. How bad could it be?”

This recipe is not  bad at all, not at all. I actually love it and there is peace and harmony in my life. And so far, no pod monsters have devoured my soul.

 

Bacon and Balsamic Glazed Sugar Snap Peas

Yield: serves 4

Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound bacon, minced
  • 1 ½ cups fresh sugar snap peas
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Cook the minced bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the fat has rendered and the bacon has begun to crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave the bacon fat in the skillet.

Add the sugar snap peas, and toss the coat with the fat. Cook and stir until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Pour in the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and cooked bacon. Continue cooking until the balsamic has reduced and the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

 

Source: yummly.com