Monthly Archives: July 2011

100th Post and My 30th Birthday Fig and Blueberry Pie!

100th Post 30s Fig and Blueberry Pie!

Today I celebrate two milestones – my 100th post as The Dusty Baker and my 30th birthday!

Such times invite reflection.  I’ve been told by many people that all the things you struggled to discover about yourself throughout your twenties come together in your thirties.  I don’t regret one second of my twenties.  For during that time I graduated college, dated a man for almost 9 years who is now my best friend, formed strong relationships with my parents and siblings, conquered 2 serious battles with my illness, moved to and fell in love with New York City, lived in 6 different apartments (one in Ohio!), discovered a serious relationship with food, performed in some incredible pieces of art, been loved by some very special people and, yes, struggled to figure out who I am, and who I want to be.

And I’m feeling pretty at peace with who I am, and what’s to come.

I started my first blog while I was going through the last stint of my illness.  After some trial and error, I rethought of my mission and rebranded myself as The Dusty Baker, and launched this blog in October of last year.  Sometimes it’s been a top priority, other times it’s taken a backseat to shows and other work.  But throughout I’ve discovered an incredible community and forged connections with some passionate people across the globe:

  • FoodBuzz and the hundreds of bloggers I get inspiration from.
  • The Burwell General Store Recipe Swap that makes me think outside of the box and connects me with some ridiculously talented chefs.
  • Bromography – a NYC foodie website where I contribute The Dusty Review and other food-related articles.
  • Frosting for The Cause, where bakers contribute recipes, baked goods and a small monetary contribution daily that are dedicated to someone who has suffered from cancer.  My date to post is September 11th, the 10-year anniversary of the event that shocked my city and changed the course of politics, economics and warfare in our country.
  • Intercaketuality, a book-inspired website where I can contribute recipes inspired by books and stories that have captured my fancy.

So right now I’m off to a morning at a spa, then picking up a dear friend who’s visiting me for the week, and tonight I’ll dinner and drinks at my favorite restaurant in New York City (Mundo in Queens – check it out!) with a few of my nearest and dearest.

Oh, and then there was pie.  For breakfast.  Yes.

For some reason a rustic fruit pie or tart is what I want to celebrate with on my birthday.  I don’t often celebrate this day too extremely; sometimes I pick peaches and make jam, or make dinner for my family, or order take-out. It’s usually just a good time for reflection and the company of a friend or two.  But when I think of “who am I, in a pie!?”, simple pleasures come to mind:

A gluten-free, simple crust of whole grains with a tiny bit of natural sweetness.  Fruit that’s ripe and luscious.  Figs are often in season this time of year, fitting because my first taste of fresh figs was with my father and grandfather at his home in Portugal, and they’ve held a special significance since then.  A little bit of attention and some heat and I’m happy.  Like this pie.

Pie! For breakfast!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sweet white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp date sugar + more to taste
  • 1 cup / two sticks unsalted butter, cubed small
  • 1 pint of blueberries, rinsed and stemmed
  • 160z container of green figs, cut into thirds length-wise

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Place the flours, starch, xanthan gum, salt and 2 Tbsp date sugar in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a food processor.  Pulse to combine.
  • Add the cubed butter and mix on low / pulse until it starts to come together into a ball.  If too try, add ice-cold water a tablespoon at a time until it just pulls together.
  • Press into a pie plate (I use a spring-form tart pan for gluten-free crusts).
  • Blind-bake for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, toss stemmed and rinsed blueberries in 2 Tbsp sweet sticky rice and 1 Tbsp date sugar.
  • When done, remove crust from oven, fill with blueberries, and arrange figs artfully on top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the fruit is soft and the crust is lightly browned.

Figs!

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Easy, Homemade Clarified Butter (Ghee)

Beautiful Golden Ghee!

The other night I was faced with a predicament – a need for Ghee for a Carob Cupcake recipe and nowhere open to get it.  I did, however, have a pound of organic unsalted butter in my fridge.  My only option – make my own clarified butter.

Which I did.  Rather simply.

Ghee (Indian clarified butter) is delicious – a pure form of butter with no milk solids which therefore doesn’t affect some people with milk allergies.  Some Indian and Hindu cultures use ghee both medicinally and spiritually.

I use it in everything.  On eggs, in baked goods, on gluten-free toast.  It is truly medicinal and spiritual.

Here’s how to make it.  Don’t forget to save the solids for sauteing vegetables or adding to hot cereal.

Clarified Butter!

Directions:

  • Use as much butter as you want or have on hand, but remember it will shrink by 1/4 – 1/3 in quantity, so if you have a need for a specific amount make extra.
  • Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan on LOW heat, as low as possible.
  • Add butter and let melt – don’t touch it!
  • Heat for about 25 minutes.  The butter will start to bubble and eventually the solids will rise to the top.  Let it continue to make a crackling noise, bubble and separate.
  • Skim solids from the top continually (reserve and use them in something else!)
  • Heat until the crackling stops.
  • Use a metal coffee filter or two layers of cheesecloth in a colander set over a heatproof bowl and pour butter through. I do this twice.
  • Reserve clear, golden-hued ghee in a clean glass jar and enjoy on everything.

Bubbling away

Carob Cupcakes with Almond Butter Filling

This is what I made last week.

Carob Cupcakes with Almond Butter Filling

This is where I was this weekend.

On Lake Moore in Warwick, MA

This is who I made them for.

My gorgeous friend.

Life is good.

Happy Belated Birthday!

My dear friend suffers from food sensitivities far worse than I am currently dealing with, and I wanted to make her something special in celebration of a reunion with good friends and a birthday of hers that passed too long ago when I wasn’t nearby to celebrate with her.

This is an only slightly adapted version of her Chunky Cake that I made with her a few weeks ago.  I simply upped the ghee content a bit, fussed around with a few measurements and put some creamy almond butter in the middle.

They are FREE OF: sugar, flour, soy, chocolate, caffeine, nuts

Here’s how you can make them!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup ground flax meal
  • 1 cup carob powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp bourbon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • 1 1/2  cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup smooth almond butter, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 24 muffin cups or heavily grease an 8″ cake pan.
  • In a large bowl, mix ingredients in the order above, adding water gradually at the end, whisking throughout.
  • For filled cupcakes, pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan by about 1/2 inch, then dot 1 tsp of almond butter in the center.  Cover with more batter until about 2/3 full.
  • Bake cupcakes for 16 minutes and full cake for 40 or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Almond butter filling

“Sleep no more! Macbeth hath murdered sleep!”

Cookies for Smith Street Stage's Macbeth, running in Carroll Park

“Sleep no more! Macbeth hath murdered sleep!” is an unforgettable line from one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays, where a seemingly good man and admired soldier eventually murders his way to a throne, his bloodthirsty, unsexed wife at his side.  The play is considered cursed by many in the theatre world.  In fact, you can’t even say the title within the walls of the theatre, or you may have someone make you exit the space, turn around three times and knock to be given readmittance.  Actors have broken limbs, shows have gone down, and luck has befallen those who utter that name.  Instead, it’s referred to as “The Scottish Play”.  When spoken of at all.

This week was all about Shakespeare’s Macbeth for this little Dusty Baker.

Punchdrunk

Sleep No More by Punchdrunk, UK.

SLEEP NO MORE by Punchdrunk

Tickets and Information

Company Website

Punchdrunk, a theatre company out of the United Kingdom, has brought New York City an incredible treat with their version of Macbeth, one that contains few words and where you have to go (literally) chasing for a storyline.  I can’t give you too much, because what this company offers is a completely different experience for everyone who walks in the doors of the McKittrick hotel they’ve created on 27th street by 10th.  Let’s just say this is a piece of physical theatre, a throwback to the “happenings” of the 60s I so crave and admire, and a breathtakingly designed work.  The friend who went with me and I had completely different experiences; she was following characters through their journeys of the 3-story, walking exploration.  I sat with an actor in an empty room, watching him sew silently, observing the audience walking about and how they did or did not become more bold by their anonymity.  For Punchdrunk gives everyone a mask they must wear for the duration of their experience, and insists on silence.  They purposely try to break up groups of friends so that you explore on your own.  They suggest a cocktail (horribly expensive at the bar) before you go in.  I second them on that.

For those who are sheepish, you can hold someone’s hand and search the cavernous space together.  And if you’re ever overwhelmed, there are black-masked crew members ready to take you to safety.  But I recommend doing exactly what Punchdrunk suggests: go in alone, a tad tipsy, and find the story of Macbeth.  Touch things.  Sit quietly.  Seek out dark spaces and be still.  Watch beautiful bodies give you glimpses of this horrific story.

And then grab drinks with your friends after and marvel at how awesomely different your shows were.

Macbeth by Smith Street Stage, Carroll Gardens, BK

MACBETH by Smith Street Stage

Runs through July 24th

Smith Street Stage Website

Friday night was the polar opposite of Sleep No More.  Well, not polar opposite.  Both shows utilized incredible performers and were smartly directed.  But where Sleep No More contained no text and was all about design and space, Smith Street Stage’s Macbeth was all about the story.  And damned good actors performing it with little more than a few daggers and chairs.

I love what this company is bringing to Carroll Gardens, a part of Brooklyn that I want to live in every time I visit, with an abundance of delicious-looking restaurants, green stores, boutiques… everything.  But until Smith Street Stage came about, the area didn’t have any free theatre in its gorgeous little park.  And it still doesn’t have much by ways of children’s art classes or family-friendly theatre events.  So I am incredibly energized by the creation of this talented company and their growing presence in the neighborhood.

I was blown away by their Macbeth last night.

Their performance space is in the middle of the park, this time set in front of a shelterhouse where they could use doors and have somewhat of a backdrop.  There’s a noisy playground to one side, neighborhood kids come and go around the space, and now and then a large truck rattles down Smith Street.  But these actors know how to work the space, and with minimal effort you get every word.

Which is the most important thing about getting to enjoy this piece.  The play contains some of the most beautiful lines the bard ever wrote.  And with some actors playing double parts and a script that’s heavy with military talk and royal titles, if you miss something you’re off for a while.

Which is where my praise for this cast comes in.  From Ben Horner’s Macbeth to Sam Rosenberg’s Banquo to the weird sister trio of Beth Ann Leone, Leal Vona and Patrick Harvey… I truly admire all of them.  I was especially moved by Mary Cavett’s “will this little hand e’er be clean” (paraphrasing) madwoman scene as Lady M. and Gordon Tashjian’s Macduff, who literally made my heart shake when he learns that his wife and children have been murdered.  It was a particularly incredible scene, very well directed (awesome in general, Jonathan Hopkins), treated with such gentleness and genuine respect despite the chaotic scene offstage in the park.

I’m not a fan of theatre in parks with craziness surroundings.  I produced a version of the Oresteia in Central Park a few years ago, and while I loved my cast I’ll never do it again.  And as much as I love Shakespeare, I know many of the plays so well that it’s hard for me to be moved.  So bravo, Smith Street Stage actors and directors.  Ruark Downey – excellent music again that shaped the piece and pulled it together.  Jessica Weiss – way to make fight choreography in the park fly.

Snag Macbeth Cookies at Smith Street Stage's MACBETH in Carroll Park

Oh, so why was I watching Shakespeare in a park when I’m generally not a fan of ANY theatre in a park?

Because (a) I love this company and (b) I had to bring them Macbeth cookies!  This is the same company that I recently did a benefit for, a concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar, for which I made Cookies for Jesus Christ Superstar.  So we chatted about what I could make for this show and voila!

This recipe is not my own – I simply made Saveur’s Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe and a basic royal icing.  It took a long time.  I definitely don’t charge enough to make up for the ingredients and time I put into them.  But I LOVE making them, and love this company.  So there you have it.

Now go see some Shakespeare!

Bloody Dagger Cookies - ooooh, so dark...

 

Vintage Recipe Swap – Sweet and Spicy Blueberry Molasses Jam Cookies

Ginger Molasses Cookies with Blueberry Ginger Lime Jam

I love the food-blogging community.  For the past few months I’ve been taking part in a Vintage Recipe Swap with Burwell General Store.  We’re sent a recipe and have to alter at least three things about it, then blog our creations on the same day.  I am always incredibly impressed with what the other bloggers post.  They’re truly inspiring, culinary masters that I have so much to learn from.  Please check out their sites (links at the bottom of this post).

This month’s swap is a Jelly Cake.  Check it out:

After my disappointment with last month’s Baked Potato Cakes I knew I wanted to make something decadent this month.  Something that would take some planning and patience and love.

This recipe is wonderfully simple in theory – two cakes sandwiched with jelly.  And I loved that the second cake was spicy with cinnamon, cloves and allspice.

So I decided to make only a slight variation on this classic idea with an easy blueberry jam nested in the middle of gluten-free ginger molasses cookies.  I love how versatile and mobile cookies are.  And while lying in bed, sleepless, one night, I thought how I could try the jam between two round cookies and also try it with the raw dough pocketing it before baking, much like an Italian or Polish pastry cookie.

It took three days in short bursts to make this recipe, which actually made it more relaxing of a process.  One morning I made the Blueberry Ginger Lime Jam.  I loved the fresh, organic blueberries I found at the market and figured I’d spice them up with a bit of ginger and fresh lime juice and zest.  I also made a smoky blueberry sauce with paprika that I then made into a martini.  Delish.

Smoky Blueberry Martini

The second day I made the cookie dough, then stuck it in the fridge and rolled and baked the next morning.  Fully refrigerating dough is a crucial step when making cutout cookies, especially when they’re gluten-free, in order to keep a clean shape and consistent texture.  In my earlier days I thought I could get around a few steps and still have incredible cookies.  Now I know that refrigerating dough, using parchment paper, keeping my gluten-free flours cool and rolling evenly are important keys to mastering this.

The result is a rich, spicy ginger cookie sweetly flavored with dark molasses.  Making them into pocket cookies yields a softer, pastry-like cookie, whereas the rounds have the perfect amount of gingery jam between.  They have a soft mouth feel, and hit you in two stages – first the spicy ginger cookie, and then the rich jam.  I love them.  Love love love.

Note: In this recipe I’ve measured out my preferred gluten-free flours and added some flax seed meal for fiber (it also helps baked goods gel a little bit more too).  All that’s important is that you have three cuts of gluten-free flour.  I recommend keeping your flours in the fridge as they stay fresher longer – it also helps when making a pastry like a cookie that needs to stay tight.  I also usually refrain from mixes that are high in potato flour or starch and only use one kind of flour – usually white rice.  Check out my gluten-free flour blends page for more ideas.

Another note: I used two types of molasses and maple syrup because I had small amounts of each and like using what you’ve got instead of purchasing excess.  Just make sure you have 3/4 a cup of molasses.

Buen provecho!

Sandwich and Pocket cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed meal
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup unsulfered dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 egg

Directions

  • In a small bowl, sift together the flours, flax seed meal, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and xanthan gum
  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add molasses and maple syrup and beat to combine.
  • Add egg and beat to combine.
  • Slowly add in flour until combined.
  • Divide in half, flatten into disks and individually wrap in plastic.  Set in refrigerator at least two hours or (preferably) overnight.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Flour work surface with rice flour and roll disk to 1/4 inch thick, rotating dough regularly to prevent sticking (re-flour board as necessary). Cut into circles about 1 3/4 inch in diameter.
  • Bake for 12 minutes or until still slightly soft on top.  If you prefer crispy cookies, bake for 16 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and flip upside-down on a cool cookie sheet or flat work surface.  With the bottom of a shot glass or a small spoon, press a small circle into the bottom of each cookie.  Allow to cool completely.
  • When cool, fill 1 cookie impression with about a teaspoon of your favorite jam (mine was Blueberry Ginger Lime Jam) and use a second cookie to sandwich, repeating until all are done!

Store in an airtight container (preferably in the refrigerator) until ready to serve.  Alternatively, you can cut squares of dough, fill with jam, and make pocket cookies.  These will be a little softer and cake-like. 

Jam-filled sandwich cookies

Check Out the Other Creations From The Recipe Swappers!

  • CM is our Burwell General Store leader.  A food producer and writer, she’s based out of L.A. and has worked with the Food Network and Saveur, amongst many others.  Those are just my two favorites :)  Her site is, of course, divine.
  • Lindsay puts amazing honesty and simplicity written into her recipes. She loves Oregon, its ingredients and Portland’s lifestyle, and it shows.
  • Chef Dennis is veteran chef in his own right.  The rest of his fantastic food blog can be seen at morethanamountfull.
  • Mari lives in Oregon wine country and is a budding wine connoisseur.  Visit her at The Unexpected Harvest.
  • Boulder Locavore’s  starting point for the recipe swap is always a local-seasonal-organic combination, though her love of international cuisine and cocktails often work their way into the mix!
  • Joy, holding down a dairy-intolerant household, doesn’t let that restrict her love of flavors and food, in fact, it inspires her to do what she does. When you visit her blog, be sure to check out her “ubiquitous about page” and the balcony gardening category.
  • Monique has been food blogging since 2007, and her first recipe was a BLT-inspired chicken pot pie!
  • Shari is our first International participant!  Writing from down under, we cherish her voice in the swap because she brings the results of additional recipe challenges; the seasons are flipped from where most of us are blogging.
  • Jennifer‘s tag line says it all: Life is too short to eat bad food.  At her blog, Adventuresome Kitchen, you will find a passionate food-type, feeding her family amazing meals and living to blog about it.
  • The Cake Duchess.  The name says it all, and Lora’s recipes are rock solid, creative, decadent, inspiring.
  • Pola is a new blogger from Italy, transplanted to the cold Midwestern plains. After years of calling mom to check on cooking times and temperatures of family Italian recipes, she started writing them down. In the process, she is hoping to help new friends discover how to cook simple and authentic Italian food.
  • Jamie blogs at Random Acts of Food and has a love for food that only an Italian could! She enjoys cooking and baking in all cuisines for her family and friends.
  • Crissy and Lauren are two recent college graduates who are embracing their passion for all things culinary in the smallest yellow kitchen that ever was.  Their balanced diet of equal parts savory and sweet helps them add a little zest to what they do best!
  • Claire blogs with Texas pride from Dallas. She loves chicken fingers, Law and Order SVU and is left handed.
  • Nay blogs about food at Spicy Living from Portland, Oregon, and joined in on the Lemon Cake swap.  She incorporated lavender and lemon into cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
  • Cindy, food lover, all-around awesome person and her knowledge about US restaurants is almost encyclopedic. Check out her quirky and fun blog.
  • Sabrina Modelle blogs at The Tomato Tart from the San Francisco bay area, and for her first swap (the Lemon Cake) she made a Brown Sugar Lemon Rosemary Cake with Rosemary Caramel.
  • Nicolle writes the joyful Rhythm of the Seasons from Boulder, Colorado and is looking forward to offering more recipes and menus as the spring, summer and harvest seasons heat up.
  • Linda is a saucy Texan with an encyclopedic knowledge of food. She’s published many cookbooks, won many awards, and has been the source of many belly laughs. When she’s not writing books, her latest creations can be found at Everybody Eats News.
  • Tricia is the founder of Pietopia, an annual pie contest that asks “What does your life taste like, in a pie?” and her beautiful work as an eating designer and blogger can be found at Eating Is Art.
  • Jaclyn is a writer, baker, perpetual daydreamer and the author of the cooking and baking blog Food+Words. She has a degree in Creative Writing and is currently studying Baking and Pastry at Le Cordon Bleu. Jaclyn has a panchant for baking, laughter, a nice glass of Riesling and anything lemony.
  • Merry-Jennifer is a physician, a writer, a wife, a mother of two, and the author of the food blog The Merry Gourmet. She focuses on family-friendly original and adapted recipes – with an occasional cocktail recipe thrown in for balance.
  • Alli has a master’s degree in Nutrition and blogs at An Open Cookbook from Seattle, Washington. We met recently at BlogHer Food in Atlanta, and immediately hit it off. A warm welcome to her!
  • Rachel Saunders is the owner of Blue Chair Fruit and author of The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. She produces all of her jams and teaches classes from her space in Oakland, California.

Blueberry Ginger Lime Jam and Smoky Blueberry Sauce with the cookies

Nutritional breakdown from Cook, Eat, Share

Blueberry 3-Way: Ginger Lime Jam, Spicy Syrup and Smoky Blueberry Martini Time!

Blueberry Ginger Jam and Smoky Blueberry Syrup with gluten-free ginger snaps

I love making jam.  A few summers ago I roasted in my kitchen in Queens making batch after batch of jam from peaches I picked on several outings in Connecticut.  The season ended with well over a hundred mason jars of varying sizes and specialties, which my siblings and I packaged with homemade breads and chocolate for our families at Christmas.  It was wonderfully fulfilling.

And hot.  And sticky.  And sometimes infuriating.

So when I picked up a few containers of the most plump looking blueberries the other day, knowing that I have a recipe with jam to make for the Burwell General Store Vintage Recipe Swap, I approached my kitchen with both delight and trepidation.

Problem:  I hate regulating temperature for jam.  Problem:  I hate how much sugar most non-gelatin recipes require and I don’t use artificial sweeteners.  Problem: I have a big writing contract to kick start tonight and don’t have time to swelter in my non-airconditioned kitchen while I constantly check the gelling stage I mastered all those years ago.

Solution! Use the berries three ways to get even more sweet, lip-smacking lusciousness out of them. Straining the jam at the first stage will give me lots of delicious juice for a syrup and the jam can be thickened a bit so the whole shebang can be done quickly.

For the recipe swap I have to make a variation of a jelly cake.  And these swappers don’t mess around, so not only do I want to make something completely homemade and as natural and gluten-free as possible, but I also want to kick things up a notch after my Baked Potato Cake disappointment last month.  So why not use the berries to make jam for the recipe I’m brainstorming, plus make a syrup to infuse into a sweet martini to go alongside?

I’m excited by this.

So this extremely easy recipe makes a Blueberry Ginger Lime Jam, a Sweet and Spicy Blueberry Syrup and a Smoking Blueberry Martini.  Just in time for a just-less-than-sweltering summer night in the city.

Smoky Blueberry Ginger Martini in my sweltering kitchen

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of ripe blueberries, rinsed and de-stemmed
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 5 limes
  • 2 Tbsp freshly zested ginger
  • 1 tsp tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • yummy vodka

Directions

  • Place blueberries and sugar in a thick-bottom pot and place over medium heat.
  • Zest ginger directly in pot, so fine that it almost has the consistency of a paste.
  • When the berries start to bubble a bit, zest two limes directly into pot, and add the juice of those two and a third.
  • Boil until the juice is completely released and the berries are soft.
  • Strain the mixture over a stainless steel bowl until almost all the juice is out but the berries still retain a bit of moisture.  Return berries to pot.
  • Juice the remaining two limes into a bowl and whisk in the tapioca starch until it’s dissolved.
  • Slowly whisk the lime/starch mixture into the blueberries until combined.
  • Remove jam from heat and pour into a stainless steel bowl.  Refrigerate until cooled completely.
  • To the syrup, add the cayenne pepper and whisk to dissolve.  Remove to refrigerator to cool completely.

To make a scrumptious martini: chill a martini glass.  Use a bit of vodka to line the rim of the glass and then dip into white sugar.  Fill with 1 ounce of blueberry syrup and 2 ounces of cold vodka.  Alternatively, place the two in a martini shaker over ice and strain into glass.

Gluten-Free Ebelskivers

Gluten-free Ebelskivers!

For some reason listening to Nina Simone seemed appropriate when making Ebelskivers alone in my apartment last week.  Being that Nina is neither from Denmark nor filled with jam, I don’t know why this was so.  Maybe sweet cinnamon, sugar and molasses made me think both of the blues and pancakes??  Or strong coffee and whiskey?  Mine is not to reason why… just to bake and sway slowly and enjoy.  Which I did.

My friend Abigail loaned me her cast-iron pan for these little treats recently, and I had a feeling “waiting” for a brunch crowd was going to test my patience too far. So these got simply rolled in cinnamon and sugar and were served atop whipped cream with chocolate macaron shells, hazelnut cookies and cherry compote at a dinner party I attended later in the evening.  I should have taken pictures of the whole caboodle, but let’s just say a few bottles of Prosecco had made their way around the room by the time dessert was plated.

Abigail also gave me her recipe, which is a basic pancake recipe but where the smart (and culinary-school trained) lady specifies separating the egg whites and yolks and beats the whites to stiff peaks, giving the pancakes a lot more lift and chew.

I simply adapted by using my gluten-free cake flour blend and changed / added a bit here and there. And I learned from a few floppy results how to get the pancakes as round and fluffy as possible!

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used my standard cake flour blend)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp soy sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp melter butter or cooking spray

Directions

  • Sift flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
  • Lightly whisk the milk and soy sour cream until smooth (this somewhat replicates buttermilk).
  • Add cinnamon and vanilla.
  • Lightly whisk the egg yolks and then whisk into milk mixture.
  • Combine wet with dry.
  • Beat egg whites into stiff peaks and then fold into batter.
  • Melt butter and wipe with a pastry brush into Ebelskiver pan, then set over medium/high heat.  If using cooking spray, spray liberally.
  • Bring to a medium/high heat and fill 3/4 way with batter, making sure to note where you’ve started and ended to make turning easier.
  • Using a miniature frosting spatula, tongs, a 2-pronged fork or miniature spatula, flip Ebelskivers when they are just starting to pull away from the pan and browning on the bottom.  I’ve found confidence and the grace of a ballerina help when turning them without the batter messing all over the pan.  Standing with one foot slightly raised and toes pointed somehow also contributes to success. As does giving yourself an extremely low curtsy afterwards in celebration.

Now, I simply tossed mine in cinnamon and sugar and they were divine.  On a more ambitious day (or when trying to impress an overnight guest who’s daring to stay for brunch) I might put a drop of jam or lemon curd into the center. Ooh, or dark chocolate (for them, not me).

I found the result to be a lovingly fluffy, chewy pancake, rather neutral in flavor as one must be.  Mixing some ground flax seed and diced ginger might be delightful.  Hmm… now I’m hungry.

Round and fluffy and delicious

 

Country Road Take Me Home

It’s been too long since I’ve been in my kitchen.  Or blogged, especially when I had prepped blogs of recipes I created before packing up the car once again and heading out of New York City.  This time I trekked across open fields on seemingly endless highways to Cincinnati, where I lived briefly for a year and where many lovely people I treasure still live.

I stayed with friends who so generously opened their home to me and my increasingly energetic and brave pup.  I taught acting to 5-11 year-olds at two different schools, and enjoyed an immense feeling of fulfillment in their growth and my own as a teacher.  I attended pot luck dinners, watched the sun set at a winery while listening to quiet music with a friend, met new faces at my favorite underground jazz club, took in an opera, and watched fireworks dance atop the Ohio River post baseball game.

I caught up with many friends – most of whom I keep in touch with regularly but also a surprise visit with someone I haven’t spoken to in a long time.  The trip was a delightful reminder of how flexible time is, and how transient your feelings towards people and places may or may not be depending on time and circumstance.  There were many ghosts with me – friends who I shared countless memories in moments I would live over in a second.  But it was also refreshing to see how much has changed here.  And how little.

In about 12 hours I pack up the car once again.  My trunk is full of single barrel Kentucky bourbon, clean Ohio wine, Grippos potato chips and updated lesson plans.  I’ll stop at my favorite market, Findlay Market, to pick up some mouth-watering bacon from Kroger and Sons and sample Michael’s newest sorbetto creations at Dojo Gelato.  I may just stop at Ms. Helen’s for some soul food and Taste of Belgium for some waffles to bring home for the family (even though I can’t eat them they’re so good SOMEONE has to).

Then back to  New York City, where I’ll spruce up my apartment for summer visitors (new kitchen tiles and such – yay!), remind my dog that she lives in an apartment in Washington Heights and not a house in Kentucky, and get back to baking.

I rarely put out blogs without recipes or reviews.  And I can’t wait to tackle both again.

Until then, check out my review of ‘inoteca on Bromography and here’s a few favorite photos of the past two weeks.

Teaching my 5-7 year olds how to create robot characters with their bodies. They succeeded admirably, but really shined the next day with zombies, monsters and ghosts. Photo Tuesday 6/28, 2011. The Enquirer/Cara Owsley

Schwartz Point Jazz Club in Over the Rhine

Tree in the garden of Highland Coffeehouse, Clifton

Tucked in a corner of Highland Coffeehouse, Clifton

Highland Coffeehouse, Clifton

The Great American Ball Park on the Ohio River - downtown Cincinnati

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