As I sit here listening to the rain falling outside, I think back to today’s dusk and the V formation of Canada Geese that flies over our house. Every morning and every evening in late August they fly over our house, steadily gathering members of their flock and preparing for their long migratory flight to America. To me, the second half of August is symbolised by this familiar flock of geese but also in most years by a glut of tomatoes. This year’s summer is almost over, yet my tomatoes are still small and green.
No matter, the supermarket shelves are full of juicy, ripe tomatoes flown in from warmer climes! And despite general problems with poor harvests, I managed to find some absolute beauties from the Isle of Wight at the Farnham Farmers’ Market. In my head I have a glut of tomatoes, at least
So from a glut of tomatoes we segue to… gluten, and specifically to gluten-free. I’ve been following a stunningly beautiful blog called Gourmande in the Kitchen, and the following recipe is adapted from it.
Written and illustrated by Los Angeles-based food photographer Sylvie Shirazi, Gourmande in the Kitchen features Sylvie’s breathtaking food photos and some of her recipes. I have to admit to being rather jealous of Sylvie’s blog, because whereas I am lucky to get 2 or 3 comments on my posts, Sylvie’s work attracts a massive 30 or more comments every time. I have noticed that most comments complement her on her photography, as Sylvie’s talent could make dog food look appealing!
In the context of my gluten-free experiments, however, I decided to try this recipe before leaving a comment on Sylvie’s blog. The results were mixed from a mixed audience at a family picnic. As with most gluten-free breads, this one has a relatively cake-like consistency. I find it pleasant (I like cakes!) but my fellow tasters who were looking for a more traditional focaccia or bread texture found it too cake-y. I get this comment a lot from tasters who normally eat gluten bread, they just don’t know how lucky they are…
As far as taste is concerned, I thought there was too strong a coconut taste, but remember that I more than doubled the amount of coconut flour compared to Sylvie’s proportions. Still, it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. The taste of the lovely red and yellow cherry tomatoes and fresh thyme from my garden balanced out the coconut reasonably well. I also used green olives instead of black (couldn’t for the life of me find my jar of black ones!) and there again lovely black olives would have compensated for the coconut.
My overall description of this recipe was “unusual.” My fellow tasters called it “weird.” I think that especially for someone whose body cannot process gluten or grains, this is a brilliant substitute. My niece who has just returned from a month in Korea really liked it. From someone who is experimenting with gluten free by choice, I found it very satisfying. As a matter of fact, I snaffled up all that was left the next day
Sylvie Shirazi’s Cherry Tomato, Olive and Thyme Focaccia Bread (Gluten Free and Grain Free)
Adapted for Thermomix by Madame Thermomix, this recipe is both gluten free and grain free, relying on eggs and coconut flour for its body and bulk. Whilst adapting the recipe for Thermomix I was able to combine two steps into one, saving time the Thermomix way. I also made my own coconut flour by milling some dessicated coconut for 2 minutes/Speed 10. I learned after making this foccaccia that coconut flour is highly absorbent so the small amount used should be sufficient to absorb the liquid in the recipe and thicken the dough. My batter was like runny pancake batter and I didn’t think it would hold any shape at all so I added another 40 g of coconut flour and it still turned out ok. Let me know how you get on with just 30 g of coconut flour!
50 g Fontina OR Emmental OR Gruyere OR Provalone cheese
50 g Parmesan cheese
30 g coconut flour
¼ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp sea salt
60 g plain yogurt
200 g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1½ tsp olive oil
60 g black olives, pitted and in quarters or halves (I used green olives)
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
50 g Fresh whole milk mozzarella, cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 190° C/375° F. [If required, mill 30 g unsweetened dessicated coconut into coconut flour, 2 minutes/Speed 10. Leave in bowl.] Grate cheeses 10 seconds/Speed 8. Add coconut flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until combined, about 5 seconds/Speed 4.
- Add the eggs and yoghurt; mix 5 seconds/Speed 4 or until well combined. You will have a rather runny batter but the coconut flour is highly absorbent, so let the mixture rest for about 5 minutes while you proceed with the recipe.
- Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, thyme leaves, olives and mozzarella in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet and spread the mixture in one large or two smaller oval shapes with the back of a spoon or your spatula. Top with the tomato, olive and mozzarella mixture and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly puffed and golden around the edges. Carefully remove from baking sheet and let cool on wire rack.
Sylvie recommends you enjoy it warm or at room temperature.
Bon appétit !