Honey-Almond Cake with Apricot Whipped Cream

Image of a slice of Honey Almond Cake on a white plate with whipped cream.I'm pretty sure that if I took a close look I'd find that half of my friends are either gluten-free or wheat-free -- and the other half is avoiding white sugar. Desserts are a real challenge around here.

Recently I remembered a recipe that I adapted from one in an old issue of Eating Well magazine. As is usually the case, I had notes written all over it.  Clearly I took it a few steps in another direction! I just got some incredible local honey and decided I had to make something special for Springtime and my g-free friends.
It looks dense, but it's surprisingly light. Toasted, ground almonds are used in place of wheat flour, and egg whites give it structure and leave it light.

A few tips about this recipe; be sure that the eggs are at room temperature before you beat them (they will hold the structure of the cake best). They should be frothy but they shouldn't form peaks. Stiff egg whites are harder to incorporate and the over-mixing may cause the cake to fall. Either way, it will taste sweet and nutty, so enjoy!

Time: 1 1/2 hours
Level: Average
Yield: Serves 10


Lemon Cream Sauce

This sauce was featured with the Salmon Stuffed Shells with Lemon Cream Sauce  but it's so versatile that I wanted to post it separately.  In this version, you'll cook it, beginning to end, on the stove top. In the recipe above, the sauce was poured over the pasta and it went back in the oven.
Think of using it to replace hollandaise sauce on asparagus, or as a dipping sauce with artichokes.

Before you make this recipe here's a reminder of how to avoid breaking the sauce.  Cream sauce can "break," or appear curdled, if the milk proteins separate and coagulate or turn grainy. There are a few things that will cause dairy to break, high heat, low fat content and acid (in this case, lemon juice).

Remember to keep the heat low to medium and keep it moving.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Level: Average to difficult
Time: 15 minutes


Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Lemon Artichoke Sauce

Image of Sweet Potato Gnocchi in Lemon Artichoke Sauce topped with Walnuts and Parmesan cheese.Finally, gluten-free gnocchi. If you've ever made gnocchi you know that the flour, specifically the gluten in the flour, is both a blessing and a curse. The gluten keeps the gnocchi from dissolving when they're boiled but the slightest overworking of the dough makes them  tough.

I found some gluten free all-purpose flour and decided to try it again. The remedy was in my recipe file all along. About 20 years ago, friend passed along a family recipe for gnocchi that was baked - no pre-boil required. After a little research I learned that there is another way; brown them in a frying pan! The trick is to keep them slightly moist while they brown. Low heat, a few drops of water and patience will get the job done.

In the end you'll have light little pillows packed with beta carotene and full of flavor. You can serve it as a main dish or a side if you want to add another protein, though you won't need it.

Yield: Serves 4-6
Time: 2 hours (1 hour to bake the potatoes)
Level: Average to Difficult


Healthy Strata for Two

Image of individual strata with egg atop and apple slicesIf you're like me, strata is a breakfast casserole that you trot out for company. In fact, it's perfect for overnight guests because you have to put it together the night before. That leaves your morning clear for sipping mimosas and getting caught up.

Meanwhile, in the real world,  who's got the time?  Here's an option that goes together quickly and is made in individual ramekins so it's easy to customize.

Better still, this is a much healthier breakfast. Traditional strata is tasty but let's face it, any breakfast that's 10 hours in the making already has a strike against it. Add to that its contents; half a loaf of white bread, a pound of pork, 8 eggs, half a pound of cheese and a few cups of cream and it's a custard-fueled nutritional guilt trip! In fact, the recipe I mentioned has a whopping 520-700 calories per serving! This one has 315 calories per serving, lots of fiber and no artificial preservatives.

Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
Level: Easy


Caramelized Onion and Chèvre Tartlets

Image of Caramelized Onion and Chèvre Tartlets with Agrodolce sauceLooking for an appetizer when dinner is a long way off? Try these. The combination of caramelized onions, chèvre and dried apricots make this sweet and somewhat savory, so they have wide appeal.

The agrodolce sauce is optional but try it - especially if you haven't had it before. It's easy, versatile and a few drops go a long way. You'll have some left. I don't recommend trying to divide the recipe. You can enjoy it later on veggies, meat (I like this version on pork) or - OMG - grilled pineapple.

As far as the pan goes, you have options. I used a shallow muffin pan, but you can use a cupcake pan, a mini muffin pan or a proper tartlet pan. Whatever works for you will be fine, just keep an eye on the time while they're in the oven so they don't burn. 

A word about the crust. I like to make it from scratch but if you're low on time, and are planning to use a prepared pie crust, I recommend making a large rustic tart. Place the dough on a baking sheet, layer the ingredients in the center and leave a 2" border. Fold the extra dough loosely toward the center and bake as directed on the package for a single layer pie crust.

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes (includes making the dough).
Level: Average
Yield: 12 tartlets or 1 tart