Brandon Hernández 9 a.m., Dec. 12
Gluten-Free Flour from The French Laundry
You've probably heard of The French Laundry, Thomas Keller's famous restaurant in Yountville, up in Napa wine country. Responding to increasing customer pleas for gluten-free dishes, Lena Kwak, the restaurant's culinary researcher, developed a gluten-free flour. This has got to be a godsend to gluten-sensitive eaters who cook even minimally at home -- especially if you bake desserts.
It's a blend of flours from white and brown rice, tapioca, potatoes, potato starch, cornstarch, and milk powder. You replace the wheat flour on a one-for-one basis, hence the name Cup4Cup. My scanty information doesn't mention whether it can replace flour in gumbo roux -- but, y'know, by the time you've got that roux cooked to the proper mahogany color, it's probably lost all trace of gluten anyway, so no worries. (Except for the carbs.)
I've tried some frozen gluten-free pastas and actually prefer the shells to regular flour -- more fragile, light, delicate. Ditto gluten-free cookies.
A New York Times food writer endorsed it after testing it on a pound cake, a chocolate cake, and a pie crust. The cake textures were more delicate than usual, and the pie crust was best rolled a little thicker than usual for easier handling.
The bad news is the price. Cup4Cup Gluten Free flour comes in a three-pound sack for $19.95 at Williams Sonoma stores and from williams-sonoma.com. But it's got Thomas Keller's exalted blessing, and that's not chopped liver.
Pictured: exterior of The French Laundry