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Fresh Pear Upside-down Cake, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

The original recipe for this week actually called for upside-down baby cakes made with rhubarb. Since we had neither baby cake pans nor rhubarb, we decided to change things up a bit.  Upside-down cakes are extremely versatile, allowing for easy substitutions, and are among our favorite cakes for this very reason. The other issue we ran into, looking at the original recipe, was the fact that it called for bourbon, not something we are particularly fond of. However, we could see ourselves using some sweet white wine for poaching some pears. Good thing our local store happened to carry some delicious fresh Bosc pears.

Bosc pears, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

Sadly, our own pear tree will not bear any fruit this year, since some unexpected late storms packing high winds, followed by frost, pretty much destroyed all the newly emerged blossoms overnight. Growing fruit at high altitude has its challenges. Hopefully, some other local growers faired better than we did, perhaps offering some of their crops at the farmers’ markets later on this summer.

Getting back to the recipe, other than the substitution of pears poached in white wine, we converted the recipe to gluten free, using a combination of chestnut flour, brown rice flour, sweet rice flour and tapioca flour. An interesting addition that we also included in this recipe, in place of the typical gums and binder, was psyllium seed powder (1-1/2 tsp. dissolved in 2 Tbsp. of warm water). Why psyllium seeds you might ask? Well, we have been using rice bran as a thickening agent in the past (works really well in bread recipes and muffins but has mixed results in delicate desserts and cakes). Psyllium seed powder  has a funny name and is surely known to many you as the agent that keeps you “regular.”  You know what we are talking about. However, don’t knock it, it works very well as a binding agent in gluten free baking. For the caramel, we kept the amount of sugar suggested in the recipe, but substituted equal amounts of coconut sugar and sucanat for the brown sugar. We love coconut sugar for its low glycemic index and delicious molasses-like flavor, a perfect addition to caramel. We only used half the amount of sugar called for in the batter, and replaced the granulated sugar with sucanat.

Bosc Pears, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

If you are interested in the original recipe, please check out the beautiful site of this week’s host, Erin of Pastry Brush. You can also find the recipe on page 244 in Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan. Also, do check out the many contributions by our talented fellow Doristas at TWD.

Fresh Pear Upside-down cake, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved.

As we mentioned earlier, we used a larger cake pan (9″ spring form, lined with parchment paper), set on a heavy cookie sheet, to prevent spillage. After peeling, halving and coring the pears, we poached them in about 3/4 cup of white wine (Alice White Lexia Muscato, from Southern Australia). While the pears were poaching, we prepared the caramel, as suggested, substituting the same white wine for the bourbon. We continued with the rest of the recipe, exactly as described in the book. The cake rose and baked beautifully, but needed an additional five minutes of baking time – this could be attributed to our high altitude, or our oven, which can be temperamental at times. Once baked, we let it cool for a few minutes in the pan, just loosening the outer edges with a sharp knife. The recipe suggests flipping the cake immediately on to a cooling rack. Flipping a cake takes courage and conviction – you have to believe you can do it ahead of time. The rules for baking gluten free are slightly more challenging. We knew that we could flip the cake, but were less sure whether it would survive the cooling rack, followed by another transfer to a platter. So it went straight onto a platter, fingers crossed and breath held. Success – a beautiful cake after all.

Fresh Pear Upside-down Cake, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com All rights reserved

After the cake had sufficiently cooled, we could finally enjoy the reward of sampling a slice. This cake immediately moved high on our most favorite list. The combination of flavors is outstanding. Delicate, subtle and sweet and completely satisfying. Do give this dessert a try. We loved it.

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Strawberry Delight, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

This is one of our very favorite desserts. It meets all the criteria we look for in making a dessert. It is generally loved by young and old alike.  It doesn’t require baking, there are no gluten free flour ratios to balance out, no added sugar,  free of lengthy preparation and complicated steps, and most importantly so delicious. In our globally connected world, you can now find strawberries almost year round. We generally prefer to eat foods as they are available seasonally, and locally grown if at all possible. But that is just not always practical when you live in a high desert environment, where so much of our food gets trucked in. Nearly all our local stores carry quite an assortment of berries throughout the year, which makes this dessert such a nice treat, especially during the winter months.

Strawberry Delight, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Looking out at the garden beds,  my own strawberry plants looks rather sad right now, holding a mere promise of a harvest still several months away. I found these organic strawberries in our local store and couldn’t resist making this dessert. Like I said, it is extremely easy to make, using the following ingredients:

  • 15 strawberries
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-1/2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 4 oz. white chocolate chips

Wash the strawberries and allow them to dry completely, leaving the stems on.

Strawberry Delight, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

In a double boiler, combine the semi-sweet chocolate chips with the coconut oil and melt over very low heat. The added oil makes the end result just a little smoother. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate, allowing any excess chocolate to drip off. Place on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat the process until all the strawberries are covered. Place them into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, allowing the chocolate to set and harden.

Strawberry Delight, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Meanwhile, melt the white chocolate chips. Pour the melted white chocolate into a pastry bag, fitted with a small writing tip. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can also fill a zip-lock bag and cut a very small hole in one of the corners.

Strawberry Delight, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Remove the refrigerated strawberries and “draw” lines across the dark chocolate.  When finished, again place the tray with the strawberries back in the refrigerator for another 20 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator when fully set, and serve. They easily store in the refrigerator for a couple of days, if necessary.

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Energy Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

When most of you land on our website, your have come to expect yet another gluten free dish, ideally in a baked version. Don’t worry, we are still developing gluten free recipes and plan on doing so for some time to come. However, in our own home, we also prepare many raw food dishes as well. We especially enjoy the many nutritional benefits they offer.

I was first introduced to raw foods about 25+ years ago,  through friends and acquaintances and through their convincing arguments, enthusiastically  purchased a champion juicer. I loved making vegetable and fruit juices, as well as the occasional nut butters. Some of the resulting vegetable pulp was used in making delicious vegetable burgers, blended with spices, seeds and some rice, or spelt. But my all time favorite comfort foods have always been salads.  Now, I am not talking about the currently popular “tossed meals”, overflowing with the addition of too much meat and cheese, and, of course, the inevitable croutons.  I am talking about salads that are primarily made with a variety of greens, sprouts, carrots, avocados and some fruit. In those days, I was completely unaware of being gluten intolerant and, no doubt, consumed too many gluten containing breads, crackers, etc. No one ever talked about gluten intolerance, or celiac disease. In fact, everyone talked about adding whole grains to one’s diet. Some health books espoused this untruth and many followed these teachings, myself included. At the time, book selections involving nutrition and health, were far more limited than they are today. But Ann Wigmore’s books were readily found in most health food and book stores.  I read most of them and found her to be  a fascinating lady. In her autobiography “Why Suffer? How I Overcame Illness and Pain Naturally,” Ann Wigmore (1909-1994) recalls observing her grandmother using herbs and natural remedies, growing up  as a child in Lithuania. As an adult, she began testing various whole foods and dietary approaches, which she credits with solving her medical problems and changing her life.

Energy Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Together with  Viktoras Kulvinskas, Ann Wigmore co-founded the Hippocrates Health Institute back in 1968 . She was an early pioneer in the use of wheat grass juice and living foods for detoxifying and healing the body, mind and spirit. In case you are not familiar with her work, you may want to check out two  living food lifestyle and health facilities that continue to spread her teachings.  One is located here in New Mexico, the other program is located in Puerto Rico.  Today, Brian Clement owns the Hippocrates Health Institute, which he moved from Boston to West Palm Beach, Florida.

If you are familiar with her teachings, you already know that she recommends a raw living food lifestyle to heal from disease. [ Please note, that we are not advocating a particular program to heal from disease. If you find yourself ill, do your homework, and, if necessary, consult with an accredited health professional of your choice.] It should also be mentioned, that we are not living a 100% raw lifestyle, but generally abide by a whole foods lifestyle ,with the exception of the occasional recipe development project. All we know is that if you have celiac disease, are gluten intolerant, or just sensitive to gluten, please, do yourself a favor, and eliminate it strictly, completely and permanently. Even the occasional small ingestion of gluten can leave a residual and damaging effect that can last for months. You don’t have to necessarily exhibit symptoms either, although most do.

Energy Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Now to my favorite raw soup recipe. Aren’t we all looking for a little more energy around now? This tasty and very simple to prepare soup offers a lot of that.  When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, juices and smoothies offered an easy to digest and prepare alternative.  Always having had an interest in nutrition, I read countless books on raw food cuisine. The original “energy soup” recipe recommended by Ann Wigmore, calls for the addition of rejuvelac, a fermented beverage made from sprouted wheat berries. Some say, that there is no, or little gluten in the finished product, but I personally would want proof, and no has been able to offer me that. As a result this recipe does not include any form of grains, gluten free, or otherwise – the emphasis is strictly on organic greens, sprouts, cucumber, lemon, garlic, herbs and one fruit. It is best to use a high powered blender to achieve that desired creamy consistency in the end product. A Vitamix, or Blendtec would be perfect, but we are currently using a Ninja blender, which does the job adequately. . . for now.

Ingredients for 2 large servings:

  • One head of organic romaine lettuce
  • Large handful of organic baby spinach
  • 1 organic cucumber, peeled, cut into smaller chunks
  • 1 organic avocado
  • Leaves from several sprigs of Thyme
  • small handful of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 organic lemon, peeled and quartered
  • 1 organic apple (any variety), quartered and seeds removed
  • 1 cup of your favorite sprouts (sunflower, alfalfa, radish, etc.)
  • 3/4 cup organic cherry tomatoes
  • a few small pieces of dried dulse, (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cups of purified water

Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, scoop out the flesh, and add it to your blender. Top with the remaining ingredients (tomatoes, cucumber, romaine, spinach,  apple pieces, lemon, sprouts, garlic, thyme, dulse and the purified water). Pulse several times, incorporating the ingredients and then blend for a couple of minutes at the highest setting until everything is well blended and creamy.

Energy Soup, copyright 2013, gfcelebration.com, All rights reserved

Pour into your favorite soup bowls, garnish with some fresh herbs and enjoy right away. It is a wonderfully tasty and delicious alternative to regular soup, and of a slightly heavier consistency than green smoothies. If you enjoy this soup, or green smoothies, also plan on growing some of the vegetables in your own garden this Spring and Summer.

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