A few years ago, classically trained French chef Alain Braux chatted about the effects of nutrition on personal health with two Austin assistants who happened to be vegetarians.
“I got intrigued,” he says. “Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, to combine this new interest in nutrition and my experience as a chef?”
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Biscuits aux Canneberges et Noix: Cranberry Walnut Scones
One of my favorite breakfast indulgences. While not really French in creation we have adopted this melt-in-your-mouth pastry as ours. The trick here is not to overmix the fat into the flour. This recipe is gluten-free and can be made casein-free. You can use any dried fruit of your choice, as long as it is free of sulfites, a preservative. You can also change up the nuts or use seeds, if you’d like.
2/3 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca, corn or potato starch
2/3 cup almond flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine, cold and cut in small pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or soy creamer
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Cinnamon sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper, or spray pan with olive oil spray and dust with rice flour.
In the bowl of a stand-up mixer, blend together flours, starch, baking powder, xanthan gum and sea salt with the paddle attachment on slow speed. Add cranberries and walnut pieces and gently mix in.
In a small bowl, combine the cream, eggs, agave nectar and vanilla.
Starting your mixer at the slowest speed, mix in the butter until it reaches pea size. Add the liquid ingredients and mix only until the dough comes together. Stop the mixer. If needed, finish mixing with a spatula.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop even amounts of the dough and drop onto the baking pan. Make sure to separate them by at least two inches. If you don’t mind uneven-looking scones, you can form the dough into eight scones by hand.
Press each dough piece gently with your fingers to flatten it a little. Brush with a little beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired.
Bake on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes. The bottom should be golden colored when done. Makes 8 scones.
— Alain Braux
Michael Barnes writes about Austin’s people, places, culture and history.
Les Tomates au Four à la Provençale: Oven-Baked Tomatoes Provençale
There’s nothing much to say about this classic of Provencal cuisine dish. Made with in-season, beautiful, juicy tomatoes, some people say it’s better than … I’ll let you fill in the gap.
4 large tomatoes
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 anchovy fillet
1 bunch parsley, chopped
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut tomatoes into halves. Squeeze them to get most of the juice and seeds out. Place them cut side down in a colander and let them drain further.
Meanwhile, crush the garlic with the anchovy in a mortar or small food processor. Add the chopped parsley. Mix well or pulse a few times in the food processor. Salt and pepper to taste.
Oil an oven dish. Place tomatoes cut side up and side by side in the dish. Fill each with a spoonful of the garlic, anchovy and parsley mixture. Cover with a generous amount of bread crumbs. Drizzle with olive oil.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked. Serves 4.
— Alain Braux