Marion Cunningham's Great Gluten-Free Coffee Cake

 I made a variation of Marion Cunningham's great coffee cake this morning. I used gluten-free flour and lactose-free sour cream. Maybe that makes the cake sound less tasty, but believe me, if turned out very well, and tasted almost like the real deal.

I've been working on gluten-free recipes for a few years. They always are good variations on the theme of the original full-wheat flour versions. They never taste exactly the same, so I wouldn't want to mislead you. It's a matter of getting used to a lighter textured pastry, a flavor change from the original. Different isn't always bad, just not exactly the taste you remembered.

Lacotse-free sour cream was a revelation to me. The texture is not the same, but the flavor is just as good and has brought back potato chips with onion dip into my life. I've never made a cake with sour cream, but had heard it would be extra moist, so I went to work.

I've never used a Bundt pan before. The batter was much thicker than I thought it would be, but it worked, I think, because of the baking soda. The cake turned out really light and crumbly. Not sure what kind of texture full-wheat flour would have yielded, but I was pleased with the results I got.

This is our second to last installment of the cook-the-book series of Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book. Check out the posts by my blog partners:  RachelAimeeEmily and Claudie.

Great Gluten-Free Coffee Cake

from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book

one 10-inch tube cake


  • 1/2 pound butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (make your own or use this one from Gluten-Free Pantry)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lactose-free sour cream (I used this one from Green Valley Organics)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or Bundt pan.
  2. Put the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat for several seconds.
  3. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
  4. Add the eggs and beat for 2 minutes, or until light and creamy.
  5. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and stir with a fork to blend well.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until smooth.
  7. Add the sour cream and mi well.
  8. Spoon the batter into the pan.
  9. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a straw comes out clean when inserted into the center.
  10. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes in the pan.
  11. Invert onto a rack and cool a little bit before slicing.
  12. Serve warm.

Christmas and Holiday Gift: Lentils for Good Fortune

Lentils are a new favorite around here.

I figured out that if you cook them with a nice ham hock, they taste great. My friends gave me a gift last year that included a lentil recipe and the dry ingredients with which to make it. I've included a vegan version, too.

Here's my version of that same gift. Throw in a bottle of wine for good measure. It can be included in the stew, or drunk alongside it.

A great celebration, La Festa di San Silvestro takes place in Italy at New Year's that features the humble lentil. It is thought that lentils bring prosperity and good luck in the coming year. You can read about it here, and be happy that you can share this tradition with your friends via this wonderful gift.

First up, is my lentil butternut squash with ham stew. I stumbled upon this when I was trying to make split pea soup with ham. I figured one dried small legume was the same as another. I was right. Nice and nutty, this is a wonderful recipe. You can include walnuts, chicken stock, bay leaves, curry powder and lentils for this version.

Below is another variation, that involves lentils, rice and saffron. Again, and always with beans, in my opinion, include a bay leaf or two, and chicken stock. I love to present gifts in the pot or pan you might cook them in. Place the lentils and all the dry ingredients in a saucepan with a lid, add a bow and you're set. I've also included a mason jar of rice with the same ribbon. Print out this recipe and attach it to the bag or basket the gift is in. Voila! Instant holiday meal.


Cooked Lentils with Saffron


  • 1/2 cup dried lentils
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 to 8 ounces saffron
  • 1 cup cooked rice, according to your taste: basmati, jasmine, pearl
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place lentils, water, saffron and bay leaf in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, add salt and pepper.
  3. Reduce to medium-low, let simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 to 30 minutes, until softened.
  4. While the lentils cook, brown the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft.
  5. Mix together the onions, garlic and lentils. Remove the bay leaf, add salt and pepper if needed and serve over rice.

Thanksgiving: We Love Stuffing

Stuffing was never high on my list of Thanksgiving loves. I never loved the flavor, and was put off by the number of ingredients involved.

That all changed about three years ago when I started making my own, with lots of bacon and sausage.

Anything that can act as a vehicle for as much meat and savory goodness as you can stuff into a pan is good by me. Thanksgiving dishes give me an opportunity to go a little bit crazy and not worry so much about the healthier way that I usually eat. Portion control in the stuffing and mash potatoes department are completely gone. I figure once a year, I can really let loose and pack in the good stuff.

If you can line up all your ingredients and cook the elements you need in advance, this stuffing will come together quickly and easily. There will be lots of dicing, browning and dishes, but all for the good cause of making the best stuffing ever.

This year, I used port to rehydrate the dried porcini mushrooms and added dried California figs, instead of dried apricots.

You can amend this recipe however you'd like: use wine instead of port; morels instead of porcini; pecans instead of chestnuts. Whatever you do, keep the earthy flavors balancing out the sweet and nutty flavors and you'll have yourself a wonderful stuffing.

Below is the recipe, but here are links to some of the main ingredients, which I've posted before:

Roast Chestnuts

Corn Muffins

Oven-baked Bacon

Thanksgiving Porcini, Bacon, Sausage, Cornbread and Chestnut Stuffing

serves 6


  • 5 corn muffins, crumbled (click here for the recipe)
  • 10 to 15 roasted chestnuts, chopped into bits (click here for the recipe)
  • 2 to 4 slices oven-baked bacon, chopped into small bits (click here for the recipe)
  • 4 dried figs, sliced into small pieces
  • 8 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup port (or red wine or brandy)
  • 2 hot italian sausages, casing removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 sweet onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, smashed
  • 6 sage leaves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken stock


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces with a fork.
  4. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until he meat has browned.
  5. Meanwhile, put the porcini mushrooms and port in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
  6. Cook the porcini until they have absorbed 2/3 of the liquid.
  7. Once the sausages have browned, add the onions and garlic and cook until they soften, about 10 minutes.
  8. Take a rimmed baking dish and place the corn muffins, chestnuts, walnuts, sage and bacon bits into it.
  9. Add the porcini and the port to the sausage pan, stirring for about five minutes.
  10. While everything cooks, grab a pair of kitchen scissors and cut the porcini into small pieces. You may also need to chop up the sausages a bit, too.
  11. Remove the sauté pan from the heat and add the ingredients to the rimmed baking dish, mixing everything up.
  12. Pour the chicken stock over the stuffing and mix it in to help the cornbread to absorb it.
  13. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring once. It may take a bit longer, it's done when you find the sausage nice a crispy.

Gluten and Dairy Free Cream of Mushroom


I'm reposting this piece from last year. The soup is amazing, and I think everyone should make this for Thanksgiving!

There was a long time (until about 10 years ago) that I didn't care for soup much. I've always loved split pea with ham and New England clam chowder, but other soups just seemed thin and boring to me. In the recent past, though, I realized that soups, curries and stews are all based on the same principles, making me try thicker soups with lots of layers of flavor. A whole new world opened to me. And, of course Asian noodle soups are a favorite of mine now, so I can say I'm a soup lover through and through.

I came across a gluten and dairy free cream of mushroom soup (via my friend Thanya whose sister-in-law is an expert of all things allergen-friendly). And, this year, I added bacon to it, so now, it's perfect.

There are a lot of steps, considering that a traditional cream of mushroom soup doesn't involve three steps to thicken it. And, of course, I love cooking my mushrooms in butter, but that doesn't really fit into my diet right now. By using bacon fat, I was able to bring back some of the depth that butter gives the mushrooms (and of course, anything with bacon is better).

So consider this a nudge to make a wonderful and satisfying cream of mushroom soup for your friends and family this holiday season!

Gluten and Dairy Free Cream of Mushroom Soup

adapted from original recipe: Cybele Pascal, Allergen-Free Cuisine, 10.8.2010

serves 4 to 6


  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small shallots finely minced
  • 1 ½ lb. mushrooms, chopped (I use a mix of white mushrooms and Chantrelles)
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons tapioca starch/flour
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon porcini salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • ½ cup rice milk
  • 1/2 pound black forest bacon, cooked and diced


  • Over high medium -heat, heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot, large enough to accommodate all ingredients.
  • At this point, I also add in a bit of the grease from the bacon (used for garnish at the end). It give the mushrooms a nice richness.
  • Add porcini salt, shallots and mushrooms, stir often, cook for 3 minutes.
  • Lower heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes until golden brown.
  • Stirring well to coat mushrooms, add in thyme and tapioca starch/flour.
  • Reduce heat to low. Scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the tapioca and mushrooms incorporated, cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Making sure that all clumps are broken up, add 2 cups of the chicken broth, salt and pepper.
  • Stir well, increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Boil remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock and add quick-cook tapioca to the stock. Mix gently.
  • Add chicken stock/quick-cook tapioca mixture to the pot.
  • Keep the heat on a low simmer, stirring often to help the quick-cook tapioca dissolve. It's ready when the tapioca is completely clear.
  • Add rice milk.
  • Pulse in food processor (or use a hand blender or a blender) until desired texture is reached. I keep mine kind of chunky, but you can blend it all the way to smooth.
  • Serve in bowls with diced bacon on top.