Category Archives: Reviews

Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays and an Interview with Jeanne Sauvage

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I first borrowed the ebook version of Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays by Jeanne Sauvage, better known as gluten-free baker extraordinaire at Art of Gluten-Free Baking, last year from my library. When I bought the hardcover last month, I was even more blown away by it; I was amazed by the recipes, and also by Jeanne’s depth of knowledge and expertise.

As implied by the title, Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays is a cookbook for the winter holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but there are some recipes that are versatile for any time of year like the Dinner Rolls and Super Soft Bread. In a similar vein to Sweet Cravings, another gluten-free baking book, the recipes are built on a foundation of classic techniques and use simple, natural ingredients that are easily recognizable and staple items, so that it feels as if one was reading a traditional, wheat-filled baking cookbook. Best of all, they’ve all been meticulously made to not only taste just like their wheat counterparts but even have the same or similar texture and mouthfeel.

Jeanne SauvageI’ve gotten to know Jeanne online, through her blog and conversations on Twitter. I’ve made her recipes on her blog, and now from her cookbook, and they’re all winners! For Christmas, I made her recipe for Pepparkakor (Swedish gingerbread) many times, which everyone loved, and I’ve also made her gluten-free pie crust with success, which has made me want to master pie making (and that I’ve started to do). As I read the introduction in her cookbook, I became more and more duly impressed with her aforementioned expertise. I expressed this on Twitter and was delighted when she said yes to an interview.

I ask Jeanne about the research that went into writing her cookbook, recipe testing, the merits of learning and utilizing classic baking techniques, and the progress of her second cookbook (with a projected release date of Autumn 2015). This interview was conducted over email.

(Interview after the jump!)

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{Review} Puro Fairtrade Coffee

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I was contacted last month by Puro Coffee, asking if I would be willing to taste their coffee in order to review it. I had not heard of Puro Coffee before, but decided to accept their offer and try their coffee when I saw that they are a Fairtrade coffee company and began learning about their values.

Founded in 2005, Puro Coffee is a brand from a company called Miko Coffee, which has now been roasting coffee beans in Belgium for two hundred and twelve years. The company is particularly famous for roasting acorns instead of coffee beans during World War II, when there was a coffee bean shortage.

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Puro sent me a package with their three coffee blends as well as a hot chocolate drink mix, brown sugar packets, and an espresso coffee cup, all of which were beautifully packed in a rustic burlap sack. Even before trying the coffee, we were immediately impressed by the care that had been taken with the presentation, including the handwritten notes for each of the three coffee blends in addition to the personal note that came with the package, all well done and thoughtfully prepared.

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If you’re in the UK, it is likely that you’ve tried Puro Coffee without realizing it. Although it isn’t available in supermarkets, every National Trust site, restaurants such as Gourmet Burger Kitchen and The Real Greek, golf clubs like Wentworth’s, and hairdressers including Headmasters, all serve Puro Coffee. You can go to their website to see where you can buy Puro Coffee if it’s available in your country. Currently they’re looking for a US distributor.

Through their Fairtrade work and parternship with World Land Trust, the company has helped preserve and protect rainforests, with Miko winning a business charity award in 2012 for the partnership between Puro and World Land Trust. In 2008, together with Sir David Attenborough, they launched a webcam in the rainforest to highlight endangered species and their disappearing habitats.

You can also learn more about Puro Coffee and their work in this short documentary:

For my post, so that I would have as well-rounded a review as possible, I asked my Mum, Dad, grandmother, aunt, and some friends to be testers. I’m not a regular coffee drinker, so part of my reviewing process included educating myself about coffee and its varieties – and it was fascinating! One of the interesting trivia facts I learned is that coffee is the second most traded commodity, after oil.

Puro Coffee currently offers three different blends: Puro Organic, Puro Noble, and Puro Fuerte. Puro Organic is one hundred per cent Arabica, a coffee plant that has a naturally lower caffeine content than the more popular commercial variety Robusta; the less caffeine, the less bitter-tasting the coffee will be. The latter two blends, Puro Noble and Puro Fuerte, are blends of Arabica and Robusta. Robusta is the more popular commercial variety and has a higher caffeine content; together, the two balance each other – while the Robusta has a higher caffeine content, the inclusion of the Arabica ensures that the flavour of the coffee is smooth and rounded off, without a bitter aftertaste.

Of the three different blends, our favourite is the Puro Organic for its smooth, gentle flavour with “soft notes of sweet chocolate with tangy citrus”  and the fact that it has a lower caffeine content, which also means that it doesn’t have a bitter aftertaste (a plus for people who like the flavour of coffee, but not the bitter aftertaste). If you like coffee but don’t like getting jitters, this coffee might be for you as you can still enjoy your coffee without becoming hyper, etc. This one would also be good for people enjoy their coffee but want to lower their caffeine intake without drinking decaf. Usually when I do drink coffee, I have decaf because I am a little sensitive to caffeine, although I found I could drink a cup of Puro Organic and still feel fine afterward, which was interesting.

Puro Noble is a slightly bolder coffee, a “rich and lively medium roast with hints of fruit and hazelnut” and is blend of eighty per cent Arabica and twenty per cent Robusta. Puro Fuerte, a dark roast, with a 50/50 blend of Arabica and Robusta and a “touch of spice” lends itself to an even bolder, deeper flavour that regular coffee drinkers may expect.

The hot chocolate mix we also enjoyed, which came in a single serving packet and had a smooth chocolately flavour and pleasant sweetness. (Since it already contained milk powder, the instructions said to use boiled water, which we did.)

We’ve now been enjoying Puro Coffee daily, ourselves, as well as with friends and neighbours – who also agree that it’s good coffee.  Combined with chocolate it also makes a lovely mocha, and of an occasional Friday evening, Bailey’s Irish Cream is a lovely treat on a cold winter evening.:)

A Recipe for Apple Crisp + Cookbook Review and Giveaway! Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

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I love baking and I love looking through beautiful baking books, with gorgeous photography and irresistible recipes, the kind that are easy to make, yet impressive. Like a fond memory, the kind that are remembered and talked about long after they’re gone; leaving you wanting for more.

Impressive is high on the list in Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle, which I received an advance copy of by the publishers. Written by Kyra, owner of Kyra’s Bake Shop, a gluten-free bakery in Lake Oswego, Oregon and first-time gluten-free winner of Cupcake Wars, Sweet Cravings is packed with gluten-free variety that you would expect in a traditional, gluten-filled cookbook: proving that gluten-free does not mean compromising quality. With Kyra’s baking book under your arm or on your kitchen counter, you’ll be able to whip up baked goods and desserts that will have everyone clamouring for more and without anyone knowing the difference.

On behalf of the publishers Ten Speed Press, I am giving away one copy of Sweet Cravings. To enter the giveaway, click after the jump (“read more”) for details, following my review and a recipe for Apple Crisp.

Sweet Cravings is available now. Order it on Amazon or wherever books are sold!

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