Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Celiac Awareness Day 2011

Today I went for my endoscopy. It was a mildly unpleasant experience--and thankfully a brief one too. According to my doctor, the endoscopy is the gold standard for diagnoses of Celiac Disease and one was necessary to confirm the results of my blood panel.

And confirm it did. Parts of my duodenum were smooth, where there should have been folds. The classic villi pattern was absent, and instead replaced with a cracked earth or mosaic pattern as is typical with Celiac Disease. And several duodenal folds had evidence of scalloping, also seen in Celiac.

So it's safe to say that I became aware of My Celiac Disease on National Celiac Awareness Day. Strange, huh?

I've been stockpiling various ingredients required in gluten free baking over the last few weeks to be ready for this moment. And when I heard that Thomas Keller's pastry chef, Lena Kwak, had created a packaged gluten-free flour to be used cup for cup in regular baking recipes (hence the name C4C), I rushed over to Williams Sonoma to buy a ($20, three pound) bag. For me sometimes convenience trumps cost...especially if it tastes good. But I had been waiting until this day--my official day of diagnoses--to tear it open and give it a try.

The true test will be a side-by-side taste test on my Nana's pancake recipe with some homemade flour mixes, C4C, and King Arthur's GF flour...and that's coming soon. But for today I needed simplicity and convenience and comfort. I needed chocolate. I needed COOKIES-and now! That's exactly why a product like C4C is so great, if not spendy. And for the record, I should mention that I have not been paid or given free products for this review.

So how were they? My daughter said they were tastier than the cookies I make with "real" flour. My son said, "They're good! Really, really good." And I concur. Quite frankly, everyone was more than a little dubious that non-wheat flour could taste this good. The flavor was outstanding and the cookies were crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, which is exactly how I like them. So far I am extraordinarily pleased with this product, and can't wait to try it in other recipes.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I used C4C Gluten Free Flour available at Williams Sonoma stores or online. Try substituting your favorite gluten free flour blend to make these too!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yield: 21 cookies


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon GF vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups C4C (or other gluten free flour mix)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup GF semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Beat butter until with sugar until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and beat to combine.

3. In another small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum. Add to the butter mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Dollop cookies in tablespoon portions onto a baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 8-10 minutes. For crispier cookies, bake a few minutes longer. Cool cookies on a rack and store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 4 days. But I seriously doubt they will last that long.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School Treat

Back to School
has been more of a new year to me than the first of January since I was a little girl. It marks the end of a usually long and rather lazy summer with a return to schedules, and bedtimes, and yes, homework too. It means my house stays a whole lot cleaner...but also that I do a lot more driving around town...especially between the hours of 3 and 8 p.m. And it means, for me, more time to spend in the kitchen--planning, creating, baking and cooking for the ones I love.

But cooking really is a labor of love sometimes, isn't it? And when there are a host of people who all require different diets, it can sometimes seem downright impossible. I have found that most days, breakfast and dessert are the only meals my family can agree on. Thus the Blueberry Granola Cookie Bars--a perfect little sweet something to tuck in their lunch boxes, or serve as an afternoon treat. And it's something that everyone will love.

I won't lie to you, they take quite awhile to prepare. But if you are lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom left with nothing but a cup of coffee and a quiet house after you usher your offspring out the door on their way to school, it's not a bad way to spend the morning. Use the time between steps to get your Tracy Anderson on..or catch up on your book club book...or clean out a closet...or make your list of all you'd like to accomplish during the fresh new (school) year. And when your kids get home in the afternoon all sweaty and tired and hungry, give them a kiss, and a cookie, and they will sing your praises. I promise.

Blueberry Granola Cookie Bars
Printable Recipe

These delicious bars, adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies are layered with shortbread crust, jam and homemade oatmeal. You can save time by using packaged granola, but the small effort to make your own from scratch is well worth it. Plus, you will have some left over to sprinkle on yogurt for breakfast.

Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 2 1/2 hours (includes chilling time)
Yield: 2 dozen bars


1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces (1 1/2 sticks)
1 large egg, plus one large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups blueberry jam

Almond Coconut Granola
(makes about 5 cups)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut


1. Make granola. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter with honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the water. Stir together the oats, almonds, and coconut in a large bowl. Pour the butter/sugar mixture over the oats and stir to coat evenly. Bake, stirring frequently, until golden and brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

2. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.

3. Process 1/2 cup slivered almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

4. Lightly beat egg, yolk and vanilla in a Small bowl. Add egg mixture to the processor through the chute while the processor is running. Pulse just until clumps form. Pat dough into the prepared dish, evenly covering the bottom. Refrigerate until firm and cold, about 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick dough all over with a fork and bake until edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

6. Spread jam over crust and top with about 2 cups of granola. Bake until jam is bubbling and the granola is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Lift from the pan and cut into 2-inch squares. Bars should be eaten within a few days, or frozen for up to a month.