We had our most recent Celiac Bay Area Support Group Potluck this last August second, and as usual, everyone really outdid themselves. The hostess selected a BBQ theme for the event, so we had grilled bits, non-veg and some really superb thin, crispy stalks of asparagus, grilled red onion slices, and grilled peppers, along with potato salad, a lovely salad with tiny, sweet grapes, fruit and pickled veggies, a refreshing bean vinaigrette salad and some exotic slow-simmered fruits. Meanwhile, I made Bette Hagman’s wonderful rapid rise gluten-free french bread recipe and some fresh basil dipping oil, as well as a little dish of julienned fresh basil with halved sweet grape tomatoes in olive oil. I also made my favorite fresh lime soda, but there was lovely mint lemonade and a wide variety of wine for people to enjoy.
I loved all the savory dishes, but dessert time was especially fun, as we had all sorts of exotic fare from gluten-free cream puffs to allergy-free (egg-free, bean-free, soy-free, dairy-free etc) chocolate wacky cake and an absolutely divine allergy-free brandied apple cake. I was ecstatic over the cream puffs, as I’d only had them once before (in my life!) and I wasn’t the only one. I think everyone enjoyed them. The only problem with fluffy bread bits filled with ooey, gooey custard filling and topped with luscious chocolate frosting? You end up wearing as much filling and frosting as you ate- or maybe that’s just me. You can see the big ol’ mess I made on the left. But the recipe, the recipe was divine, and I was so thrilled that one of our members went to all the trouble to make them. Hurrah for ambitious gluten-free bakers! The recipe was based on Melonie Katz’ recipe for cream puffs from the SillyYaks message board through Yahoo, and then variations of filling recipes found online. I’m eager to make them myself. I will be contacting Melonie to see if she’ll let me share them with you on here. I’ll test the recipe with my own luxurious filling, and hopefully you’ll be seeing my version at the Book of Yum soon. In the meantime, feast your eyes on them above.
But I also really appreciated the allergy-friendly recipe for brandied apple cake that our master bakers, V and H, brought to the party. This allergen-free (but not taste-free) cake was gobbled up by those with special allergies as well as by the simply gluten-free folks. As one of our party commented “I think I like cakes with brandy.” Me too! This is my version of V and H’s excellent recipe. I would like to do some experiments in the future- maybe add a little more liquid ingredients (one half cup applesauce?) in addition to my dry brandied apples. Also a teaspoon or two of xanthan gum might make it less crumbly. Quinoa adds its own stamp to this cake, but you could also try it without for a lighter flavor. I have to admit, the powdered sugar V and H added really took it to a whole new level. Too bad we didn’t have any powdered sugar in the house… but that shouldn’t stop you from adding some. Trust me, it’s worth the sugar guilt. I would strongly recommend you visit V and H’s GF Recipe Web Page to check out their tasty recipes- there are tons of yummy gems in there, including their Simply Amazing Easy Cranberry Pie Recipe that I blogged about in October.
Isn’t it wonderful having gluten-free friends with such great kitchen voodoo? :) The meals I enjoy at these support group potlucks are always worlds better than most restaurant offerings- and certainly there’s way more variety and imagination present! If you haven’t tried joining a gluten-free support group, why not look into it? You may find, as I did, that there’s a whole community right outside your door that can understand better than anyone else the joys of GF online shopping, the best and worst of the latest gluten free products, and the highs and lows of the gluten-free lifestyle.
Vegan Brandied Apple Spice Cake Recipe
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour (or teff)
1 generous tsp. baking soda
1 generous tsp. baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup vegan margarine like Earth Balance
1 1/2 cup brandied apples- recipe below (may substitute applesauce but the texture will be different)
Prepare 8*8 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or by greasing with vegan margarine. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine flours and baking powder and baking soda with spices in a medium size bowl.
Cream margarine and brown sugar together in a mixer and then add flour mixture, brandied apples, and raisins to the bowl. Turn the mixer on and let the apples get chopped up a bit by the mixer.
Place the (stiff) batter in your baking tin and bake in your pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve. (I was out so left it off.)
How to make 1 1/2 cup brandied apples:
Add your apple slices to a cast iron pan and heat, mixing slugs of brandy, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and a healthy layer of brown sugar. When the apple slices brown you can turn them over and if you like, add more brandy and brown sugar. Cook until the apples are tender, and remove from stove. Place in glass jar, cool, and reserve (or use right away in a recipe). There may be more than 1 1/2 cups apple slices after cooking- don’t worry, just use them in another recipe, like on ice cream or in a mini tart. (mmm, mini tart.)
My version of this recipe is tasty but not especially moist. (Although in a way that makes it tasty- like a bar cookie!)
Next time I might try:
an extra 1/4 or 1/2 cup applesauce (or yogurt if dairy or soy is not an issue)
Sweet Lime Soda
1 1⁄2 tbsp. or more freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. or more simple syrup (equal amounts of sugar and water, boiled together and let cool)
3⁄4 cup soda water
Put your lime juice and soda water in a tall, clear glass. Add simple syrup, mix, and taste. Add more simple syrup to taste. Garnish with a lime. Enjoy!
If you like you can add ice, but we were generally skeptical of the water used for ice in India so enjoyed ours at room temperature or cooled, if the soda water had been refrigerated.