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Breakfast Parfait

Breakfast Parfait

You want simple for breakfast? I'll give you simple. A breakfast parfait. And you'll get elegant at no extra charge. Of course, you can eat it for a snack later in the day, or even dessert after dinner, but I'm most in love with this tall and glorious dish for breakfast.

I know how to use an immersion blender and there is a "stand-up" blender in my cupboard. (I don't own a powerful Vitamix and have, on occasion, had Vitamix envy, but that's a story for another day.). I know that smoothies are all the rage - it's just that I find that idea of turning a noise-making machine early in the morning rather jarring. Plus, who can taste what they're eating after it's all been mushed up?

This simple dish will help you ease into your day without noise.  What makes it different from throwing everything together into a bowl, even without blending everything all up?

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Gluten-Free Berry Delicious Bundt Cake

Gluten-Free Berry Delicious Bundt Cake

I’m not gluten-free; I'm not even, as my friend Jackie Gordon would say, "gluten-choosy." In fact, you could call me a glutarian or a gluten-glutton. But after talking to my friend Marguerite about her challenges living gluten-free, I was anxious to try baking a gluten-free cake.

To get me started, Marguerite gave me her recipe for her Berry Delicious Bundt Cake, an adaptation of Flo Braker recipe that uses wheat flour. The first time I made this cake, I learned two important gluten-free baking lessons:

  1. Not all gluten-free flours are the same; and
  2. Gluten-free baking mix is not the same as gluten-free flour.

On my first try, I mistakenly used a gluten free baking mix instead of gluten-free flour. Despite that mistake, the cake looked good and it got a good reception from many who ate it – one person has even been hounding me for the recipe. The second time, I made a few changes (adapting an adaptation as it were); basically I swapped raw and white sugar for the coconut sugar, substituted a thicker glaze for the one she makes that soaks into the cake, and left off the whipping cream.

With the same gluten-free flour she specifies (King Arthur multi-purpose) and my changes, I adored the cake. In fact, if I hadn’t known it was gluten-free, I doubt that I would have guessed it was. Other gluten-eaters loved it too, including my husband who ate a piece for breakfast the day after it was served for dessert at dinner. A gluten-free member of Tut’Zanni proclaimed it the best cake she had ever eaten. Even allowing that she may have been carried away by hunger and enthusiasm, she was a definite fan of this version.

Gluten-Free Berry Delicious Bundt Cake 2.0

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Which Brand of Almond Extract is Best?

Which Brand of Almond Extract is Best?

Move over America’s Test Kitchen. When it comes to taste tests, you’re not the only game in town. My discerning and delightful taste testers checked out the Safeway brand of pure almond extract and the Organic Whole Foods (365) version to figure out which one they prefer. Actually, in this case it’s a smell test rather than a taste test, but you get the drift.

Why do this test?

  • By nature, I’m curious. I’ve done taste tests before to see if homemade vanilla makes a difference and to understand whether filtering improves vodka by making it smoother. I am especially interested in whether higher-priced or special ingredients taste better than a less expensive version of the same ingredient. That’s why I tested different varieties of shrimp – farm-raised and wild, fresh and frozen.
  • I had almost used up my Safeway almond extract between the homemade marzipan and the upcoming gluten-free cake from Marguerite that uses almond extract. Instead of buying more of the same brand, I saw this as an opportunity to test a different brand.
  • America’s Test Kitchen did a test of almond extracts, but you can’t see the results without a year-long subscription to their site.  (I’ve subscribed in the past, but found that I didn't use the site enough to justify the expense of a subscription.) While I applaud that company’s painstaking research and wanted to see the results, I decided not to buy a subscription just to satisfy my curiosity about brands of almond extract.
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