This Fourth of July we went to a local park for a picnic and fireworks with some very special friends. I love packing a picnic lunch for Independence Day, and there are some dishes that have become something of a tradition.
Our 4th of July menu was:
Grilled Sesame Tofu (recipe below)
Summer Vegetable Rolls with Peanut Sauce
Balsamic Honey Grilled Eggplant
Gluten-Free Raspberry Almond Financiers (recipe below)
If you look at my post for July 4, 2007 you’ll note that I made peanut sauce last year too, for sesame grilled vegetables. But I also made some new recipes for this year’s feast… like this delightful recipe for Balsamic Honey Grilled Eggplant.
This recipe was a real keeper, and one that I have a feeling I’ll be making a lot in the years to come. DH is skeptical of eggplant, and he seemed to enjoy it- and I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. To me it was like grilled and savory candy (but better).
I also experimented with a recipe from Martha Stewart that I’d been eying for a while. Of course, as written the recipe was full of gluten, gluten, gluten, but I thought it would probably convert reasonably well to be gluten-free. Even though we’re currently packing up our whole house for a move, I deliberately left out my mini-muffin tins just for this recipe. Oh, how I love my mini-muffin tins. Like real muffin tins, but cuter. Anyway, I was thrilled for the opportunity to use up some of the organic, local raspberries I’d been storing in the freezer, and an Indpendence Day Picnic seemed like the perfect time for financiers. Although, to be honest, I didn’t quite know what financiers were. To me they just seemed like little jam-filled-mini muffins.
Luckily, the Joy of Baking was able to enlighten me.
“Financiers are French tea cakes (pronounced fee-nahng-syehr), also known as Friands (meaning “dainty” or “tasty”). They are made from a sponge-like batter of beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites, flour, toasted ground almonds, and powdered sugar. Financiers are similar to Madeleines in that they both use a sponge-like mixture that is baked in special molds. When baked Financiers are soft and springy with a slightly domed top and a lovely golden brown crust.” (Source: Stephanie Jaworski)
Financiers are a natural for gluten-free conversion, as a good portion of their batter is made with almond flour and eggs, two high protein ingredients that help compensate for any lack of gluten in our flours. Unfortunately commercial varieties will also contain gluten-flour, but you can make them at home with excellent results. As it happens, I converted the recipe to be dairy free, but for a more traditional recipe you could use butter instead of the DF, CF margarine and let the butter brown. This browning of the butter adds great nutty flavor. Just be careful not to burn it! I think traditionally financiers are made in special molds, like madeleines, but home cooks use mini muffin tins very successfully. I knew I was happy I bought that mini-muffin tin!
In Love with Financiers?
Try Gluten-Free Girl’s Chocolate Financier Recipe, brought to you by Smitten Kitten.
Or, an agave-nectar sweetened version of the recipe
An adorable Gluten-Free Apricot Financier Recipe
Or a gluten-free adaption of a Almond Tea Cake Financier Recipe
But food aside, the best thing about any holiday is sharing it with special friends that are your family-away-from-family. Last year we spent it with my favorite adopted “little sister”- and this year we spent it with one of our favorite couples. These are friends that have been with both of us for the long haul, and I hope will always be a part of our life. Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I hope your holiday was absolutely delicious, and that you got to spend it with your very favorite people!
Yummy Grilled Tofu
1 lb of firm tofu (Chinese Style is best for this kind of recipe)
2 tbsp GF soy sauce (preferably San-J Low Sodium Tamari)
Drain water from tofu, and cut horizontally in thirds or half. Wrap in towel and leave for 30 minutes or so until water has absorbed into towel.
Mix marinade ingredients, and marinate tofu for at least 30 minutes. If possible, grill, if not, broil or pan fry.
Makes a wonderful protein addition to salads, sandwich fillings, and perfect with rich rice dishes like risotto.
I’ve been making this recipe for years and it always goes over very well at parties. Very flavorful and easy.
Can be doubled for a crowd.
You may wish to brush or spray grill with oil, as the tofu can stick.
Gluten-Free Raspberry Almond Financiers
8 tbsp. dairy free margarine like Earth Balance
1/3 cup honey (I like raw honey)
2 cups finely ground almonds (I use Trader Joe’s or you can grind your own)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup finely ground brown rice flour (like Authentic Foods’)
1/4 cup sweet (white) rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp salt
5 lg. egg whites (you can probably veganize this by using 3-4 Ener-g foods egg replacer eggs, soy yogurt, or flax seed eggs)
1 cup raspberries (if frozen, defrost first), pureed and strained (not strained is ok if you don’t mind seeds)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two mini muffin tins with GF nonstick cooking spray.
Melt your margarine in a small saucepan on medium-low heat, whisking occasionally and heating for 6-7 minutes. At the end, whisk in your honey and let it combine thoroughly.
Put your ground almonds, sugars, flour, and salt in a standing mixer (or large bowl) and whisk together on low. Turn up the speed to medium-high and add your egg whites (or egg replacer eggs) one at a time, combining each one thoroughly until adding the next. Use a spatula to make sure all the ingredients on the side of the bowl integrate with the rest of the ingredients. Lower mixer speed to low and add your warm honey-margarine (whisk quickly first to make sure it hasn’t separated) in one long, continuous stream. Turn up speed to high for 45 seconds.
Fill your mini muffin tins half full. Then take a scant 1/2 tsp of your raspberry puree and pull up a little of the batter with a knife, dribbling the puree in and then settling the batter over the top to make a raspberry heart shape. Or, just make a little jam circle on the top if the heart is too much effort.
Bake for 7 minutes or so, turn your rack around and bake another 7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!
Another cute little mini-muffin, er, I mean financier, recipe!