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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

09/25 - Sans-Gluten? The French Laundry Comes to the Rescue!

Gluten intolerance is becoming more and more common, with gluten-free products abounding on shelves, and chefs experiencing a growing audience that want their meal "sans-gluten".  Not easy when you think of all the unexpected foods that contain gluten - soy sauce, barley, rye, beer, gravies and sauces, a vast majority of processed meats and meals, seasoned potato and corn chips, and so much more. 

Probably the most simple of foods, bread, is the one that people lament the most of having to give up. And it was, in fact, a brioche created by French Laundry Research and Development Chef, Lena Kwak, that brought a diner to tears at the joy of being able to eat bread, that led to the commercial availability of C4C.

Hear Lena's story of what it means to be an R & D Chef at the fabled restaurant, and of the development of C4C, so diners to the Laundry could enjoy all their food equally, gluten intolerant or not.

Milton Abel, Pastry Chef for The French Laundry
We then welcome The French Laundry's new Pastry Chef, Milton Abel, by way of the world's (other) number one restaurant in Denmark, Noma, to tell us about his path, and making pastries using C4C, as well as the wealth of other tantalizing tastes of "finesse" served to diners.
Bob Hurley, chef owner of Hurley's in Yountville, has not only a chef's perspective, but his daughter was diagnosed as intorlerant to gluten.  Here his personal tale and how he has created his own gluten free menu at the restaurant.

And as a bonus, scroll down, and you'll find Sally's own creation using C4C - the good old traditional scone!


About Cup4Cup

Chef Lena Kwak has taken pleasure in cooking for others since she was a child. So when she moved across the country from her native New York to work in the kitchen of The French Laundry, she knew she had found a new home. Driven by an interest in nutritional science, she developed a gluten-free flour that offered a successful alternative to the main ingredient of the various quick breads and dessert items The French Laundry served.

It was during a dinner service one evening that Kwak witnessed a guest in tears, having enjoyed her first taste of brioche. The woman had not consumed bread in over a decade. Kwak knew this experience had to be shared.

Prevailing upon the support of Thomas Keller, Chef/Owner of The French Laundry, she refined the proprietary blend of flour and set about making it available to a larger audience. They formed a company and named it C4C, an abbreviation of common cooking measurements, to reflect the new product’s ability to replace all-purpose flour in most recipes, “cup for cup.”

In collaboration with specialty retailer Williams-Sonoma, C4C will debut to home cooks nationwide in August 2011. It is through C4C, that Keller and Kwak commit themselves to advancing the standards of hospitality for which The French Laundry is regarded.

Lena Kwak
Lena Kwak and Milton Abel
at the V Wine Cellar 

As a Research & Development Chef at The French Laundry, Lena Kwak is responsible for testing a wide range of edible innovations, ranging from foie gras bon bons to seawater sorbet. It was her creation of a gluten-free brioche and the tearful response it inspired in a dinner guest that led to the establishment of C4C, or “Cup for Cup” with Chef Thomas Keller in the Spring of 2010.

After graduating Rhode Island’s Johnson & Wales Culinary Institute in 2007, Kwak served as a private chef and director of her own catering company, preparing coursed dinners and cooking lessons. She landed in California while pursuing an internship to satisfy her interest in nutritional science. A single assignment to devise a gluten-free version of Keller’s famed salmon cornet, led her to develop a proprietary flour blend that became the foundation for their new company.

Chef Bob Hurley, Hurley's Restaurant, Yountville

For the link to Bob's gluten free menu, go to:
I thought before the show I should get a feel for C4C and try out a recipe, so off the my quick classic "go to" scone recipe where I switched it straight up for flour.  I knew it would be good - it had to be coming from The French Laundry with Thomas Keller's name on it - but I was really bowled over by how similar it tasted and performed to the real thing.  For the first time in my life I thought, "I could go gluten-free if I knew I had this mix to use to make bread, pasta, pastries and all those other yummy gluten loaded foods."
C4C is available from Williams-Sonoma and select Bouchon Bakeries.

Sally's Gluten Free Scones
2 cups C4C
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small cubes
1 - 1 1/4 cups milk (or buttermilk)
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Sift the C4C, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  Add the butter, and using the finger tips, lightly rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Make a well in the centre and add the milk.  Mix quickly and lightly until mixture comes together, then transfer to a well floured board and knead to a smooth dough.  Pat down to about 1 1/2 inch round then cut into desired sized shapes.
Arrange scones next to each other on a lined baking pan and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and transfer to a colander lined with a clean towel, and enjoy while hot with jam and cream.
Bon Appetit!

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