Sunday, November 8, 2009

Gluten and Dairy Free Brioche Recipe

For anyone who knows me, they know I love food, love eating, but hate cooking. My friend Aran is an amazing pastry chef and cook and she was kind enough to post one of her creations on my blog for those of you who actually enjoy baking and cooking. This looks fantastic and I hear they tasted pretty great too!!

Gluten-Free Brioche

adapted from "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" by Zoe Fran├žois and Jeff Hertzberg

Makes enough bread for three 1.5 lb loaves

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch (tapioca flour)
3 3/4 cups cornstarch
2 Tbs granulated yeast
1 Tbs kosher salt
2 Tbs xanthan gum
2 1/2 cups hemp milk
1 cup honey
4 eggs
1 cup neutral flavor oil
1 Tbs gluten-free vanilla extract
Egg wash
Raw sugar for sprinkling on top

Whisk together the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch, yeast, salt and xanthan gum in a 5 qt bowl.

Combine the liquid ingredients and gradually mix them into the dry using a paddle attachment until there are no dry bits of flour.

Cover and allow the dough to rest for 2 hours. The dough can be used now or refrigerated for up to 5 days.

On baking day, grease a 8.5"x4.5" pan. Break a 1.5 lb piece of dough and shape it into a round. Wet your hands as the dough will be sticky. Elongate the dough into an oval and put it in the pan. You might need to wet the top a bit to smooth it out. Let it rest for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you are using non refrigerated dough).

Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle raw sugar right before baking. Bake at 350F for about 40-45 minutes.

Toasted Brioche, Poached Egg, Watercress and Apple Salad

Serves 4

8 slices toasted gluten-free brioche
4 eggs (preferably farm fresh)
2 cups watercress
Bunch of purple basil
2 Granny Smith apples, thinly slices
Few drops lemon juice
Water for poaching eggs
1 Tbs white vinegar
Mustard and toasted hazelnut vinaigrette

Poach the eggs. Bring 3 qts of water and the vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer. Break off the egg into a ramekin and gently submerge the egg in the simmering liquid. Do not let the water boil and only cook 1 or 2 eggs at a time. Cook for about 2 minutes or until white has coagulated but yolk is still liquid. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Thinly slice the apples and drizzle with some lemon juice so they don't oxidize.

Place 2 small slices of toasted brioche on a plate. Garnish with watercress, purple basil and thinly sliced apples. Place the poached egg on top and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Drizzle the mustard and toasted hazelnut vinaigrette on top.

Mustard and Toasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette

2 tsp mustard
2 Tbs minced shallot
2 Tbs hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs olive oil

Place the mustard, minced shallots, hazelnuts, balsamic and apple cider vinegars in a bowl. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking creating a light emulsion.

For more photos, please visit Aran's blog.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Our school district is making me happy

Before we moved here to this new town, my husband and I read as much as we could about it. I read about the school district and read comments from fellow parents of children with autism to get an idea of what we were getting into by moving to this town. I was getting worried at first because I read only negative comments about teachers not knowing how to teach their autistic child, or parents not getting a lot of help with their child. I then came to the conclusion that no matter what I read, or what the parents wrote, it was all about being active in the education of your child, autistic or not. I would never just drop any of my kids off at school and not have communication with the teachers on a constant basis. I can't imagine taking my child with autism to school and just letting the school do "whatever" without my input and direction. I have never just sat on my hands when it comes to Connor.

When school started, I had a lot of communication with his new team. We met for his initial "what are we going to do" meeting before Connor even started school. I needed to know EXACTLY what services they were going to provide and how they were going to do it. Connor needs a para, that is not up for debate. Thankfully, the team agreed without any arguments, but I would have fought for that if I had needed to. He also needs lots of structure and visual cues. He needs a reward system. He needs....
I did a lot of reading and went to a lot of conferences to know exactly what Connor needs and to know what to demand from the school. Parents should not expect anything from anyone when it comes to their children. They are your children! Do the work. Go to the school with your eggs in a basket and know what you need to advocate for your child. Don't ever expect anyone to ever give your child what they need.

My only complaint has been that Connor's para, although a very good personality for him and for autism in general, has no ABA training. At the last meeting, I brought this up again. In response, they suggested that while we were going to be out of town for a whole week, for Connor's para to go and have training done at one of their other schools. They sent her to this school for a whole week to do training and to shadow another para with more experience. Connor's para came back from the week focused and with so many great ABA techniques. I am more excited than I can express. She is now reading social stories to him, using a typical ABA reward chart, and using other techniques shown to work for high functioning children. YAY!

Connor came back from a week away from school and transitioned well back into the class. Good work team, and good job Connor's para!