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Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's Tuile Time...

...and fantabulous Daring Bakers are at it again!

Before we dig into the baking challenge, I have to focus our attention on our lovely hostesses this month.

Karen and Zorra displayed such grace and good humour this month on the forum (especially when we stumbled with blog names) They are everything Daring Bakers should be - helpful, funny and flexible. Deep bows, hugs and a round of applause heard around the world for Karen and Zorra - your work and enthusiasm are much much appreciated.

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

The original Tuile recipe can be found at either one of the hostesses' blogs. I've adapted Angélique Schmeink's original recipe to be gluten free so everyone in our household can enjoy these lovely cookies... and like all gluten free adaptations of recipes there were some important differences to note.

The substitution of coconut flour for the regular wheat flour made the mixture thick, very very thick. The dough did not need the time noted in the original recipe to become firmer. Another egg white or some liquid could have been added to thin the batter as it was very difficult to spread.

I used pizza stones which lengthened the cooking time considerably from 5-10 minutes to 10 to 20 but the warm stone kept the tuiles soft until they were shaped. The cookies were not as thin as wheat flour cookies and broke much more easily. They did not shape as easily because of the lack of flexibility - perhaps Xanthan gum would have improved the elasticity.

However, after eating all the broken evidence I concluded that they were delicious no matter what shape they took.


Coconut Tuiles

¼ cup ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
½ cup ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
dash of vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
¼ cup coconut flour

Butter to grease baking sheet
Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350F. Using a hand mixer fitted at low speed, cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Add the coconut flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth paste. It will be quite thick and does not need refrigeration to firm up.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with butter. Press the stencil on the baking sheet and use a spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes.

Bake in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again or place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

The important second part of our challenge was to pair the Tuiles with something light. A lime flavoured sorbet with a gingery undertone was just the ticket for these coconut cookies.

Lime Ginger Coconut Sorbet

Sugar Syrup
1/4 cup lime juice
grated lime peel
i inch piece of ginger, sliced
2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Heat the above ingredients until the sugar dissolves and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain out ginger and lime peel. Chill in the refrigerator or freeze in ice cube portions.

Combine the following in a blender.

1 can (400 mL) coconut milk, chilled
two ripe bananas, frozen
1 cup syrup, chilled or frozen into ice cubes

Pour into serving dishes and eat immediately or pour into a dish to be frozen further. This sorbet scooped well from containers when put in the refrigerator freezer but not the deep freezer!

i.e. Minus five Celsius or slightly below freezing was the perfect scooping temperature.

Lessons Learned

1) Gracious hostesses are worth their weight in gold.

2) My piping skills don't exist and I suffer from Tartlette envy.

3) Short challenges allow more play time with presentation which helped me graduate from unsightly fractured splats on the first batch to acceptable tuile.

4) This recipe is a great candidate for gluten free cookies and further experimentation.

5) Meat grinders look silly with tuiles draped over them.

If you want to see more Tuiles check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll for hundreds of tuile posts worldwide.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lost in Translation

In my blog, emails, correspondence etc. I try to maintain a friendly polite tone… I have three children to whom I must model good behaviour so I generally keep my language clean and try to focus my intentions on the forces of good, rather than evil.

Sometimes the best of intentions are not always enough.

When I first met a handsome Italian, now my husband, I understood not a word of his language and I only had a vague idea of his culture. It involved a lot of pasta and hand waving (forgive me, I was very very young).

In addition to my introductory Italian language course, my gorgeous beau taught me a little Italian. One of the phrases he would always say to me before a test was good luck. What a useful phrase, I thought.

Fast forward a year and we’re off to Italy as a newly engaged couple, to meet his extended family. My ability to speak Italian at that point included please, thank you, counting to ten, and a few handy phrases, one of which included “good luck”.

In my shiny enthusiastic hope to endear myself to his family, I made sure to mind my manners, say please and thank you, smile lots and occasionally throw in a phrase when the situation merited.

Occasionally my efforts brought smiles, a bit of laughter and some funny looks. No look was as odd as the one Nonna gave me when sent her off with a hearty “good luck” as she ventured off to find something. This really puzzled me until I turned to my fiancé and asked “Why did your grandmother look at me so strangely when I wished her good luck?”

“What did you say?”

“Good luck, like you told me, in culo alla balena.”

My fiancé gagged on his drink, “Mary that’s a sailor’s term for good luck. It means in the ass of a whale!”

I certainly was making an impression on his family but not the one I had intended.

To all my friends and family, I love you and wish for you a wonderful 2009...

... and a big fat hearty good luck!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lick lick...

We're trying to work with three languages in our family and keep some semblance of normality.

My children speak French, but I do not. My husband, two oldest children and I, speak English and Italian. However, our family lapsed into English only when the youngest was born. It's hard to yell in a second language. Poor duck, my youngest doesn't speak a word of Italian but I thought we could work on our Italian skills as a fun educational activity.

So, we're introducing Italian words for familiar things. Words for cookies, ice cream, and other sweets are very popular in our household.

Yesterday we introduced "lecca lecca". I asked the young munchkin what he thought the word could mean since in English it literally meant "lick lick".

We told him to think of something you lick...

He thought about it for a moment and proudly announced, "The table!"

Yep, normal.

(Lecca lecca means lollipop)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Warm Snowy Day...

...of minus six degrees Celsius.

Friday, January 16, 2009

How cold is it?

It is cold here.

How cold is it? Last night it went to minus 31 degrees Celsius. At minus 32, the temperature is the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit.

But what does it really mean?

When you open the door to go outside in the morning the door hinges screech in protest. It doesn't matter whether or not they are well oiled, at this temperature hinges are cranky.

If you inhale through your nose too quickly, your nostrils stick together.

When you step onto the packed snow, it squeaks like Styrofoam packing. In fact, I can wear my slippers for a quick dash to put out the garbage, knowing that they will not be wet when I return.

The sky is brilliantly blindingly blue and the sun makes the snow sparkle like diamond dust. There are no clouds on days this cold.

If your car has a tape machine in it, the tapes do not work. They drone out eerie complaints when asked to produce music.

Last night as I paused before I stepped into the house, I heard the slap of a puck bouncing against the wooden rink boards. I could even hear the slicing of skates on the ice. The outdoor rink is in the school yard around the corner and sound travels clearly to our house when the temperature drops.

Cars slide all over the road since they are icy. Salt does not work at this temperature and sand can only do so much.

Our cravings turn to hot chocolate and woollen socks.

Winter days like today are painfully beautiful.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Roll of Exercise in 2009

We've run out of plastic wrap at our house.

I can only clearly remember buying two rolls during our entire marriage and we've been married over twenty years. Does this mean...

a) We are incredibly thrifty and cheap with plastic cling wrap?
b) Our cling wrap roll is gargantuan?
c) We weren't creative enough with cling wrap?

Our cling wrap roll was huge - it would have been a Hummer in the auto world. In fact the writing of the side of the box stated....

This roll is as long as the distance your parents told you they walked to school... up hill... every day...

I certainly never walked that far to school. My children walk half the distance that I did in my youth. Buying another roll seems like a pretty big commitment and other detritus has already slid into the space the box once occupied.

But I think we need a little more exercise and fun in our life - plastic wrap may be just the ticket.

So family, what do ya' think?