Monday, October 14, 2013

Well, butter my grain-free biscuits ...

Mary Plunkett in her kitchen classroom

My friend Mary Plunkett is truly a Wonder Woman! She comes up with more creative ideas in a day than the normal human being has in a month—and, unlike most of us, she has the energy and pluck to carry them out. For example, if she becomes convinced of the health benefits of fresh dairy products, by golly, she buys herself a cow. (Hers is named Mocha.)

Mary's magical "twinkle room"
A caterer and decorator, it only takes Mary a couple of days to transform a cedar field on her farm into an elegant “twinkle room” and feed 65 people a gourmet meal, complete with several courses of food and live music. (She does this several times a year, and if you ever have the chance to attend, don’t miss it!)

In recent months, Mary has been exploring grain-free cooking and baking. Inspired by her own desire for improved health, she doesn’t just pull recipes from a book or from the Internet and call it good. Oh, no! She experiments with her favorites, picking them apart to understand the chemistry and finding ways to improve upon them. (Then she tests them on her grateful friends and family. Yes, please!)

For the past few weeks, she has been conducting grain-free cooking classes (four per week) in the health-department-inspected-and-certified classroom of her home. (Which is right next door to the classroom where she home-schools her two brilliant sons, by the way.)

My schedule, unfortunately, didn’t allow me to sign up for as many classes as I would have liked, but I did manage to work out three of them: Grain Free Biscuits & Sausage Gravy; Butternut Squash Gnocchi & Honey Glazed Pork; and Baked Ham ‘n’ Beans with ‘Corn’bread.

My family’s Christmas breakfast always includes biscuits and gravy, and I’ve been missing them for the past couple of years because of my celiac disease.  I was so excited to see those gluten-free, grain-free biscuits on Mary’s schedule that I was determined to attend that class, come Heck or High Water. And let me tell you: Oh. My. Gosh. Those biscuits, which we ate with grain-free sausage gravy, were to die for!

Here’s the recipe, which Mary graciously has allowed me to pass along to my readers:

Flaky Almond Biscuits

Form biscuits on a sheet
of parchment
2 packed cups blanched almond flour
½ C. arrowroot starch (or tapioca, potato, or sweet potato starch)
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ C. cold butter or coconut oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vinegar

Fresh from the oven
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a food processor bowl, combine the almond flour, arrowroot, salt and baking powder.
  • Add butter and cut the fat into the flour until the fat is about the size of a pea.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and vinegar. Pour mixture into the food processor with the flour mixture and mix just briefly and gently until the dough comes together. It may feel a little wet.
  • Dust a sheet of parchment, or your counter with additional starch. Gently pat the dough into a square and cut into 9 biscuits.
  • Place onto a greased baking sheet. (We used the same parchment upon which we formed the biscuits.)
  • Bake for 18 minutes.

Our flaky grain-free finished
 product--so yummy!
Note: These biscuits can be placed into freezer containers before baking and frozen. Then you can pull them out any time and bake them at 350 for a little longer than 18 minutes.

Mary’s fall series of classes is nearly at an end, but if you hurry, you might still get in on one. Hopefully, she will offer more grain-free classes next spring, but if she doesn’t, I guarantee you that she will “cook up” something else to delight those of us who are lucky enough to be in the know. Join Mary’s Facebook page, titled “Morsels,” and stay informed.