It’s no secret that I love food… I’m pretty sure that it’s a given, at this point. Even so, I don’t exactly feed myself very well. Let me explain, I eat healthy… it’s just that I don’t eat often. Breakfast is always important to me because it’s (usually) the one meal that I make solely for myself, eat myself and find the most important. If I drank as much coffee as I do on an empty stomach, I would be sick. Trust me, some mornings, when I’m running late, I try to do that, and I’m all shaky and sick in like 40 minutes.
Working as a cook, and a busy one at that, it’s sometimes hard to feed yourself when you are concerned about getting food out on time. We (meaning the kitchen I work in) are all over driven, neurotic (that’s really just me), workaholics, who would rather finish a task than sit down and have lunch.
It’s drives my boyfriend, father, mother and probably sister, nuts that I don’t eat very much. I try, I swear!
The fact that I am gluten-free, doesn’t help. It makes snacking very difficult unless I have planned ahead and brought my own snacks to work/school/what-have-you. That’s why the weekends are golden for me. I get to go to my parents house (I don’t have an oven in my studio, but could use the front house if wanted to) and spend the morning/afternoon/evening, making whatever I want in their kitchen, that I have always loved. The kitchen has four large windows that look out onto my childhood street, and even in the winter, the sun warms it up. Throw in the smell of (insert recipe here)…. and it’s a perfect day.
My mom usually hangs out too, which always makes me happy (I’m really close to my family, in case you haven’t figured that out). Unless she is trying to tell me how to cook something… I hate that
When I was growing up, and learning how to cook with my mom and grandma, I never liked baking. I’m sure I have mentioned this many times, but it is true. There was always so many better things I could have been making. Stews, roasted chicken, pasta (pre-gluten free days), etc. Who wanted to bake?! At the end of the day, I always knew that there was a dessert that could be bought, and would taste much better than if I had made it. Now… that is not the case.
Have you tried some gluten-free desserts? They suck!! Just because I’m gluten-free, does not mean that I will settle for a crappy, half-assed dessert that you didn’t put your heart into. Want to know why I am suddenly a good baker, gluten-free that is? It’s because I LOVE baking…. because it challenges me to think. Cooking, I could do half dead, I still love it, but it’s easier for me than baking. Especially now that I have to bake without “normal” flour.
The inspiration for my baking comes from recipes that I used to love to eat but now can’t. I still really want to try to make almond croissants (my all time favorite coffee + sweet combo) but have not entered that venture yet. There are a handful of food blogs that I love and secretly wish were my own… this one especially. Ashley is adorable, beautiful, an amazing cook and seemingly an amazing friend/wife/mother. If I end up to be half as awesome as she is someday, I’ll be happy.
The recipe below, and so far, the best dessert I have ever made is below….
Original recipe seen here:
Gluten Free Walnut, Caramel & Thyme Tart:
-1/4 c. powdered sugar
-1/2 c. melted butter
-pinch of salt
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 c. gluten-free all-purpose flour
-1 c. sugar
-1 T lemon juice
-1/4 c. water
-1/4 c. butter, cut into pieces
-1/4 c. heavy cream
-1 T sour cream/creme freche
-1.5 c. walnuts, chopped
-1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
First, make the crust. I used the smallest spring form pan I had but use whatever size you deem appropriate… it’s enough dough for a 9″ or 10″ tart. In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla and butter. Mix together and then add in the flour. Done! Press that into your pan, make sure you make a thin bottom and push the sides up so that you have a high crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I always rotate my dishes half-way through cooking so that they are evenly cooked. But that’s just me…. After it’s golden brown and smells amazing, take it out and let cool on the counter while you do the next part.
In a LARGE (that is important) sauce pan, combine your sugar, water and lemon juice. Stir to combine, place on high heat and let it cook for 7-10 minutes, or until it looks like amber. Make sure you have wiped the sides of the pan down so that there are not any stray sugar crystals. They will cook at a different temperature and could possibly mess up your caramel. You are making caramel, so do not stir it!!!! I know it’s hard, I like to set a timer, turn my back on it, and get the other ingredients ready, just so I am not tempted. After 7-10 minutes, take it off the heat, and stir in the heavy cream and sour cream. It will bubble up at this point which is why I said to use a large saucepan. Add in the butter, walnuts and thyme… let it thicken slightly before pouring it into the crust.
You can eat this after letting it cool, roughly 3 hours, but I let mine cool in the fridge, covered over night. The caramel totally sets up and it is just delicious.
Seriously?! The best dessert I have made yet!
Lauren Azevedo-Henderson is a climber and foodie with a degree in Art History. Lauren has been cooking all her life and has been seriously climbing for just over 2 years. While living in her ex-boyfriend’s van (only for long weekends or a week at a time) she started cooking what you would call “gourmet” food on a camp stone in the van. She now spends most of her time in Red Rock, NV and started writing her food/climbing blog “The Climbing Chef” just last year.