Monthly Archives: September 2011

Coming Sunday… Millet Breakfast Pudding

Check back in on Sunday for

Coconut Milk Millet Breakfast Pudding

Part of this month’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap

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GF Honey Layer Cake inspired by Once Upon a Mattress

Layers of downy gluten-free cake with fruit-laden creams

“I come from the land of the foggy, foggy dew ooh-ooh-ooh!
Ooh-ooh-ooh! Ooh-ooh-ooh!
Where walking through the meadow in the morning is like walking through glue!
The swamps of home are brushed with green and gold at break of day.
The swaps of home are lovely to behold from far away.”

So sings Winnifred, the heroine of Once Upon a Mattress, the musical based on the fairy-tale The Princess and the Pea.  I first discovered Sarah Jessica Parker’s recording when in high school, and fell for the slapstick comedy and crazy belting of the tiny star.  Then I heard Carol Burnett tackle it in the original recording.  For any gal who grew up reading princess fairy tales, this one kicks butt; a story of a princess so genuine all fall in love with her for her crass attitude, humble upbringing, huge heart, and ability to drink and dance them under the table.

This recipe was inspired by Kelly at IngestedRead, a submission for her September Fairytale Challenge of The Princess and the Pea. She originally inspired me to utilize whatever I was reading into a recipe (and so created my smoky, sexy American noir Big Sleep Cupcakes) as she does on her blog across the pond.  In turn I evidently inspired her to open a page up to her readers and blogging friends.  Please check her out – what’s better than books and sweet things?

So in daydreaming about this recipe I obviously thought of layering a gluten-free cake with, well, something.  And while I wasn’t about to use real peas or kill my blood-sugar by making little ones out of fondant, I figured I could incorporate pea-like ingredients.

Pomegranate seeds.  Yes.

And blueberries.

Oh, and I have some dried cranberries and ground walnuts on my shelf.  Perfect.

So I whipped up this moist, slightly-sweet honey cake with a blend of rice flours and starches, using the basic method that I used when making my Little Red Velvet Cupcakes.  A few days before I had made some Pomegranate Lime Coconut Milk Ice Cream – completely dairy free, it’s smooth, creamy and delicately citrusy – one of my new favorite ice creams on its own, adding just the amount of cold-creamy-sweetness I wanted for this dessert.  I also whipped up some coconut milk whipped cream, and layered them all together in a trifle glass with some fresh blueberries and pomegranate seeds.

Result?  Let’s just say I’m one happy allergy-ridden gal.  It’s extremely rare that I get a more complex dessert that I can eat all of.  Cookies and cupcakes are great and all, but this has everything I love about dessert: ice cream, fruit and whipped cream (one of my favorite things on the planet are those Italian tarts with custard and glazed fruit, which I miss horribly), and a not-too-sweet cake.  Put them all together and it feels special.  Not the fanciest combinations of desserts in the world, but one that makes me extremely happy.

View from my window

Oh, and the princess of the swamp was definitely channeled today as I took these pictures: I took the ice cream out to defrost, took the dog on a quick walk and returned to a black sky and pouring rain, making it impossible to take exciting photos.  I was miffed.

But it didn’t stop me from enjoying the crap outta the subject matter after.

 

Mmmmm... cake...

Check out my post on Pomegranate Lime Ice Cream for that recipe and how to make coconut milk whipped cream.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free cake flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar, white sugar or sucanat
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cup safflower oil
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 rounded tablespoons Tofutti “sour cream”
  • almond or soy milk (directions below)
  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp distilled white vinegar, separated
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Butter / spray your desired cake pan of choice
  • Add Tofutti cream cheese to a liquid measuring cup and fill to just shy of one cup with almond or soy milk.  Whisk thoroughly with a fork until smooth.  Add 1 Tbsp white vinegar and continue mixing.
  • In a small bowl, whisk flour and salt thoroughly.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix sugar, honey and oil thoroughly on medium speed.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Turn speed down to low.  Add the flour in three additions, alternating with 1/2 of the milk.  Make sure to mix thoroughly between additions.
  • Mix baking soda and remaining 2 tsps vinegar until foamy.  Add and beat for 10 seconds or until incorporated.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan for at least 15 minutes before removing to cool on a rack, or cool completely in pans.
  • To assemble, use a round cookie cutter (fitted to whatever serving glass you’re going to be serving in) to cut the cake out in circles.  Half the cake length-wise (or in thirds depending on the thickness of your cake – you want thin layers).  Place one layer of cake in the glass, then top with whipped cream and few fresh blueberries.  Add another layer of cake and then some ice cream.  Then a final layer of cake with a jot of whipped cream and some fresh pomegranate seeds.

Bloody Derby (Bourbon Bloody Mary)

Say hello to my little friend - The Bloody Derby

This gray morning in NYC, I grabbed a leash and left the phone at home.  Normally I multitask and check my emails, facebook and morning texts.  Or plug in my headphones and use the time to mentally prep for my day.  But this morning the dog and I looked out at the cool water that separates Manhattan from Jersey as we walked in relative silence.  And when I got home I left the phone by the bed and went into the kitchen to tackle my to-do’s, the things I really love.

It was that kind of morning.  I needed a break from technology.

Now, this recipe wasn’t made from a place of melancholy or rage against the machine.  I just happened to want to put this recipe together for a while, and the gorgeous tomatoes and peppers in my kitchen can’t withstand the humidity to make it to the weekend.  I made the tomato reduction for the juice in the morning before grabbing lunch with a beloved cousin (hi Jon!) and set myself for a scandalous mid-day cocktail upon coming home.  No, this isn’t a habit.  But I’m listening to speakeasy music from the roaring 20s and I can’t throw this delicious concoction away!  I have to drink it!  The sacrifices we make, I know.

Posting the cocktail – the first beverage on The Dusty Baker – was actually inspired by a fun first date I had a few weeks ago.  I introduced the New Man to the joy that is putting bourbon in a top-notch Bloody Mary instead of vodka (I lived on the border of Kentucky while working at a theatre in Cincinnati for a bit and fell in love with bourbon distilleries.  And bacon. And bluegrass).  We were at the lounge in the Ace Hotel, which has a delicious bar.  I had a feeling they would serve up a good Bloody Mary.  And, in my dusty little opinion, the spicy mixture of tomato, horseradish and citrus is so much better complimented with bourbon than vodka.

New Man asked the mixologist if he had heard a name for it.  He hadn’t.  Googling brought up nothing.  Throughout the long, fun getting-to-know-you conversation we came up with a few options, and settled on Bloody Derby.

So while I’m obviously not the first to put bourbon in a Bloody Mary, you heard it here first, folks.  September 28th, 2011.  Spread it around like wild-fire.

Talley ho.

Like a Bloody Mary... but BETTER!

The Bloody Derby.

Notes:  There’s a lot of “to tastes” in this recipe, because obviously a lot depends on the kind of tomato juice you use and how generally spicy you like your cocktails.

I’m Azorean Portuguese and Italian, so I like my food and drinks with a spicy kick.   I started with halves of the spice proportions below, and kept adding, eventually exceeding these proportions.  And if you want it a bit darker, throw in a dash of Worcestershire sauce.  I just don’t keep it on hand.

I made my tomato juice old-school style: meaning I don’t own a sieve and so literally pressed cooked tomatoes, garlic and onions with my hands through a strainer.  Worked for me.  But if you don’t want to make your own, I suggest either something rich and organic or Clamato, which is what is usually used in Bloody Caesars. 

This combo makes a sweet and dark cocktail, with a bit of smoke.  Big fan. Welcome to Kentucky, folks. Via Washington Heights.

Oh, also, props go out to Rosemarried and Boulder Locavore, who often have delicious cocktails amongst their incredible recipes and inspire me to want to start paying more attention to my beverages.  Stop by to see their versions of this classic cocktail or to learn how to flavor your own liquor.  I’m a big fan of these ladies – please show them some love.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cubes ice
  • 4 oz tomato juice
  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon (my favorite is Willets Reserve.  But if it’s too fancy of a bourbon for you to mix, Makers Mark works just dandy)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated horseradish to taste
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic to taste
  • pinch of kosher salt to taste
  • freshly cracked tricolor pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco to taste
  • 2 wedges of lemon
  • 2 wedges of lime
  • celery and carrot sticks
  • adorable sweet baby peppers

Directions:

  • Mix ice, tomato juice, bourbon, horseradish, garlic, salt, pepper, Tobasco, juice of one lemon wedge and juice of one lime wedge in a chilled glass.
  • Garnish with remaining citrus, celery and carrot sticks, and sweet peppers.
  • Drink with brunch outdoors, while listening to old speakeasy music, or when perusing the Sunday Times.

Pomegranate Lime Ice Cream – Dairy free!

Pomegranate Lime Ice Cream with Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

This morning I had to face a personal demon and reason some things out: what do I do if the project I’m currently working on fails?  Since I lost my creative partner on the project a few months ago I’ve had to fully invest in moving it along myself.  And many times I’ve cursed the former partner’s name because it all would have just been so much easier if we were still working on it together.  I’ve equally been thankful that we’re not – the project is coming along well and I don’t know if the same fire would have been lit under me if he had taken the reins.

Without saying too much, just know that it involves food.  And it could lead to me eventually not having to leave the city to perform so much or spending so much time in audition rooms.  I love performing.  I love love love playwrights, directors, producers, other actors, the live audience, the thrill of a really good piece of work.  And I love work in general, so much so that I completely overdid it and had a relapse of Lyme several years ago.  And since that last bout I’ve realized I need something with a bit more of a direct path that doesn’t require such dramatic energy.  Yes, food work is obviously exhausting.  Which is why I could never spend as much time in a kitchen as is needed to be a chef.  But I have food to thank for making me well enough that I can work again at all.

Which brings me back to the whole failure thing.  I came to one awesome conclusion that has cleared a lot: I want to push this project forward so badly because I simply love performing and food and want to share with a community of people.  For 18 years I’ve gone back and forth between sickness and relative health.  I’ve had to watch what I put in my body meticulously.  When I go over the edge, it gets messy: a tiny bit of dairy can make me ill for days, alcohol can be temperamental depending on my sugar levels and if I don’t eat in proper rotation my body freaks out.

I love food for those very reasons.  It is a powerful thing.  It is my medicine, my magic.  It is a form of art that I highly respect when I see it in others and want to nourish in myself.

So if this project “fails”, I’ll still have learned how to make an exponentially yummy list of treats anyway. 

Like this one.  Two years ago I had no clue how to make coconut milk taste so good.  Let me share it with you.

Creamy, frosty, tangy goodness

A few years ago, one of my dearest friends (hi Ruark!) gave me an ice cream maker for my birthday.  Actually, he was more than a dearest friend – we had been dating for about 7 years at that point.  It was the perfect present – given to me in the dead heat of summer, while I was pulling out of that nasty Lyme flare and just able to eat food again.  That summer I made a lot of sorbet, and he made full-fatted, full-dairied ice cream for our friends and loved ones.

I was psyched to welcome the machine back into my life this summer.

With it I made a Coffee Ice Cream Pie for a Burwell Recipe Swap and Honeybun Ice Cream for my FoodBuzz 24×24 Scarborough Fair Supper Party. All dairy-free, of course.

Unfortunately Ruark wasn’t around to taste either of these creations.  We broke up a bit after that birthday but miraculously have remained good friends, supporting each other in work and new relationships with a familial kind of love.  So when we decided on a little dinner reunion tomorrow night, ice cream went right on the menu.   Along with another dear friend of ours, we shall feast in my tiny Washington Heights kitchen.  And, as per usual, I always plan my desserts first.

This ice cream is completely dairy free and uses honey as sweetener – the half cup of honey made it a bit too sweet for me, but I have a feeling others may find it just right.  If you’re diabetic or hypoglycemic, a warning: about five bites and I was shaking like a leave in the cooling autumn wind (it’s coming, NYC, sooner or later).

I upped the egg yolk content a bit to add some extra creaminess – I found this made an incredibly decadent texture, spot on to the original that I remember those many moons ago.

I knew I wanted to add something to the mixture in order to compliment the pomegranates, and found lime to work perfectly.  Using the zest of two limes and the juice of one gave it an awesome current of citrus that wasn’t overpowering, nor overpowered by the sweetness of the ice cream.  The fresh pomegranate seeds at just a touch of tang and crunch.

I’m a huge fan of this recipe  Huge.

A note on pomegranates: Yes, you can buy containers of pomegranate seeds from the store, and that was my plan.  But they were out.  And so I grabbed two ripe pomegranates to seed myself, and am so glad I did! In doing so I was reminded at how beautiful a fruit they are, and how intricately constructed.  They sort of remind me of lapas, one of my favorite seafoods when I visit the island my family’s from in Portugal.  You use a tiny fork to get at the luscious meat hidden within the barnacle.  I have a feeling Salvador Dali would have like them.  And pomegranates.  And if you’re curious at the connection email me.  I’m a nerd for the surrealists.

Pomegranate!

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz egg yolks (that was about 8 large eggs for me)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 cups coconut milk (full fat, please)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot powder / starch
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • zest from 2 limes
  • juice of 1 lime
  • seeds of one pomegranate (more or less if saving some for decoration)

Directions:

  • In a heatproof bowl whisk yolks and honey together until smooth and thick, about 1 minute.
  • In a large heatproof bowl, whisk vanilla into about 2 3/4 cup coconut milk, reserving the rest.
  • Set either in a double boiler or over low heat and bring the milk up to steaming.
  • Slowly warm the egg mixture by adding the warm coconut milk to it 1/4 cup at a time, whisking thoroughly, until about a half of the milk is whisked smoothly into the eggs.
  • Remove the heated milk mixture from heat.
  • Slowly whisk egg mixture into milk mixture, whisking continually while you work and whistling as well.  (It’s much more fun if you whistle.)
  • Dissolve the arrowroot in the remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk.  Slowly add to milk mixture and whisk in.
  • Add salt.
  • Return bowl to heat and whisk thoroughly for about 5 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. Now I don’t work with dairy a lot and it’s been forever since I’ve made a cow-milk-custard. But I have a feeling it thickens moreso than the coconut milk.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.  But I whisked (and whistled, literally) to the point where it just coasted the back of a spoon.  Because of the high content of egg yolks, it worked well.
  • Remove bowl from heat and stir in the lime zest.
  • Let cool a bit, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge, either until cold or overnight.
  • When ready to churn (we don’t get to say “churn” enough nowadays), stir the juice of one lime into the mixture and pour into your ice cream maker.
  • Churn (he he) according to its instructions.
  • Meanwhile, remove pomegranate seeds from fruit.  When the ice cream is just starting to look icy and thick, pour in pomegranate seeds.
  • Remove to a sealed container and freeze until hard.

To make coconut milk whipped cream: Place two cans of coconut milk in the fridge and your whipping bowl / whisk in the freezer overnight.  When ready, pour both cans in and whip at medium speed for a few minutes, then at high speed until frothy and light.  Add honey, maple syrup or powdered sugar to your desired level of sweetness, and 1 tsp vanilla extract if desired.  It won’t get quite as light as regular whipped cream, but tastes great and is a nice touch to any dairy-free dessert!

Thanks to the humidity, melty and ready for eating.

Holiday In a Hand Pie!

Holiday in a Hand Pie

Runner Up: Best Pie (Judges Choice)

Winner: Most Creative Pie (Audience Choice)

at the

Great American Pie-Off!

Pie and dogs make me happy.  The connection?  The other night I told a friend I don’t think I could date anyone who doesn’t like dogs.  Especially since my dog is particularly awesome.  And as I sit here eating leftover turkey and stuffing from this recipe, I’ve decided the same goes with pie.  You don’t like pie, no date with this little dusty baker.  Also, if you’re a vegetarian I just don’t see how it could work out between us.

Moving on.

This weekend was pretty incredible, and I’ve got the tired eyes, slight headache and absence of writing wit to show for it.

Saturday I participated in the Great American Pie-Off, a fundraising event for the New York Theatre Experiment‘s Lift Every Voice program, which brings artists together with NYC Teens to build nurturing creative environments and foster self-expression.  In one of those glorious friend-of-a-friend things I heard about the event a few weeks ago and was asked to participate.  Baking for a good cause?!?! Um, sign me up, lady!

Now pie is pretty much my favorite dessert.  I make it yearly for my gluten-free birthday indulgence (this year was Blueberry Fig), when I’m particularly blue (My Broken Heart in a Pie was quite messy) and when I just need to throw a bunch of good things in a pastry (Bourbon Molasses Apple Pie with Candied Bacon pretty much rocked my world).

For this event I wanted to do something savory, and keep it in line with the way I prefer to bake: gluten-free, minimal (if any) dairy and naturally sweetened.  And as the weather began to change and I started daydreaming about holiday baking, Thanksgiving dinner came to mind.  Particularly the awesome sandwich made the day after, where turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and baked pumpkin gets layered between bread.  Could I get them all into a pie?  I’d give it the old college try and see what happened.

Oh, and I decided to make hand pies instead of one big one.  Why?  I have no clue.  But once I got the idea into my head I couldn’t shake it, so creating a flavorful and durable crust was a must.

After a few Goldilocksian crust creations (one was too buttery and flakey, perfect for a sweet pie but neither savory nor strong; the other had too high a content of cornmeal and so fell apart) and some different wrapping techniques (true empanada hand pie style or shaped in oversized muffin tins?!), I had my pie. And, yes, Goldilocksian is a word.  Now.

Setting up my little "tastes"

It wasn’t until setting up my little gluten-free pasties that I questioned my choice: all around me were incredibly sweet, luscious looking pies of varying deliciousness.  To one side was a pumpkin pie with bacon and candied pecans.  To the other was a chipotle pecan pie with homemade ice cream.

I don’t have a competitive bone in my body.  Friends often send me casting notices for food reality shows and my manager is looking into food hosting for me.  And while I obviously geek out about food with anyone who will listen, I would generally WANT someone else to win if I felt their creations beat the frosting outta mine.  And, well, I’m a dusty baker.  Messy.  Often swapping ingredients or proportions if I’ve just happened to run out of something.  Alton Brown I am not.  Food reality competition show thingy – not gonna happen.  My skills aren’t that badass.

Hawking my hand pies like a London lass circa Sweeney Todd

But as the tiny space filled I relaxed into what I love and the reason I was there: delicious things baked for a cause.  While I took in the pies around me (that obviously I couldn’t taste), I appreciated more and more the only one I could.  And as I started to describe it to tasters, I fell back in love with my little pies.  The gluten-free crust was made with a combination of quinoa, millet and brown rice flours and arrowroot starch with a little palm sugar, Vietnamese cinnamon and nutmeg.  I had decided to use Earth Balance instead of butter because I found during my empanada days that it helps bind the savory crust together best while still giving a butter flavor that a good shortening lacks.  I used no white sugar to sweeten any aspect, choosing maple syrup and honey for their delicious darker flavors.

Now, these are meant to eat hot, with your hands.  I had to serve the room temperature in little bites.  So a lot of my worry was making sure that everyone got every aspect of the pie and not too much crust (handpies were created so that you had the thick part of the crust literally as a handle, which you threw away once you ate all the filling).   A few of the pies had been baked the day before and suffered some stiffening from being in the fridge.  Perfect, they were not.

Breaking down the pie to the judges

Being a novice to the whole competition thing I was unaware that we actually had to present our pies to the judges.  Johnny Iuzzini (Top Chef: Just Desserts judge and Executive Pastry Chef at Jean-Georges), Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff (owners of NYC favorite Big Gay Ice Cream Truck) and Jordana Rothman (editor of Time Out NY’s Food and Drinks and overall awesome food writer) obviously know their way around a recipe.

I didn’t expect to enjoy discussing it so much.  As I talked I realized I actually knew what I was talking about.  In deciding to start this blog almost a year ago and take a few months off from auditioning to start transitioning into food more directly, I’ve had to look more specifically at my ingredients and figure out how best to share them.  When baking for charitable organizations I’ve had to keep costs in mind and how long it takes me to make certain things (400 pipes cookies for the Susan G. Komen / Frosting for the Cause became a series of various cookies, with less hand cramping).  The other day the guys at the office I was squatting in  said they’d actually pay for my Morning Jolt Cookies: the same guys that raised their eyebrows when hearing that they were gluten and dairy free.  18 years of eating alternatively and now, here I was, talking about flours.  With food people of whom my knowledge is comparatively at about .5%. 

I did feel an affection for my bin of refrigerated alternative flours in that moment.

And I think it’s time I start branching out myself.  It’s been a long time since I used red wine and mesquite flours, specifically.  Just ordered them again.  Expect recipes soon.

Until then, here’s a Holiday in a Hand Pie.

Special thanks to Allyson and Steve for getting me involved, NY Theatre Experiment for doing what they do so well, Kym at FreeSpiritEater for the awesome event photos (she took all the live ones and has an incredibly sweet, supportive, enthusiastic energy) and to the judges for being such rockstars. 

Stuffing, baked pumpkin, baked turkey and cranberry sauce

Pumpkin

Pumpkin:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Quarter and remove pulp from a small pumpkin (mine was about a pound).
  • Place in deep baking dish and pour on about 1/4 cup of maple syrup.  Use a pastry brush to make sure it coats completely.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes uncovered or until the edges of the pumpkin start to brown.
  • Allow to cool, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

Pre-baked.

Stuffing: Ingredients

  • 5 cups of cubed gluten-free bread
  • 1/4 cup ground walnuts, pecans or almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (either unsweetened or sweetened with fruit juice)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly chopped rosemary
  • 2 tsp dried Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp groundcinnamon (preferably Vietnamese or Indonesian)
  • Baked.

    1 1/2 cup leeks, whites and greens chopped thinly

  • Swirl of olive oil
  • 2 cups turkey or chicken broth / stock

Stuffing: Directions

When I normally make stuffing for Thanksgiving I’ll toast up the bread all crusty-like, use my own stock, pile in butter and roasted vegetables and chestnuts and all.  But this had to be rather simple and just serve its purpose. I left it a little drier than I would normally as well, so that it wouldn’t literally mush the pie when filled.

  • In a dutch oven, bring a healthy swirl of olive oil up to a low heat.  Add the leeks and let sweat until soft (keep it on low and wait it out – don’t brown them).
  • Toss the dry ingredients together in a baking dish and stir in leeks.
  • Add enough broth / stock to moisten the bread but not enough that it sits in the dish.
  • Throw in the oven (uncovered) and bake alongside pumpkin until the bread is soft but slightly toasted at the edges.

Cranberry Sauce

OK, I didn’t make cranberry sauce from scratch, as I couldn’t find cranberries in the shops I went to and wasn’t going to kill myself to find them.  So I just doctored up some whole-berry cranberry sauce with the zest of one lemon, about 1 Tbsp of red wine vinegar and 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice.  Done.

Not just for Thanksgiving...

Turkey:

Instead of baking a whole darned turkey I used 2 large wings and 4 breast cutlets.  I spread them out in my largest Creuset, melted about 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter, whipped in about 1 Tbsp of my awesome Greek olive oil (thanks to a friend who sends it over in 25 gallon jugs), and poured that on top.  Then I stole about 1/4 cup of my roommates chilled Sancere white wine and threw that in too, along with kosher salt and cracked tricolore peppercorns.  Baked at 300° for 35 minutes they were perfect.  Juicy and slightly underdone to finish in the pie.  I then used my fingers to shred them.  Made me miss my grandmother, for some reason.  Maybe because one of my first, favorite, food memories of her is finding her in her garage, plucking chickens that she then baked to perfection.  Love you Avo.

Ingredients: Dough

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon*
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg**
  • 4 Tbsp palm sugar
  • 20 Tbsp Earth Balance Butter or unsalted butter, cubed
  • Up to 1 cup ice-cold water
  • About 2 Tbsp ground cornmeal

*I love Vietnamese cinnamon because it’s sharper and more fragrant than others, with a darker tone.  If you have a more generic grocery store cinnamon (which I have and use too), just add another half teaspoon or more to taste.  In general, having several kinds of cinnamon on hand is fun.

**Oh, and a jar of whole nutmegs will last forever and give you so much more pop if you grate it directly with a microplane than using pre-ground.  Obviously all spices are better pre-ground.  Little thing that makes a great difference.

Directions: Dough

  • In a food processor, whip all flours, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar together to combine.
  • Add the cubed Earth Balance and pulse to combine until the butter is wrapped in flour in little pea-sized clumps.
  • Slowly add the water, bit by bit, until the dough just comes together into a ball but is not wet.
  • Roll out directly on a floured pastry board (I used millet to roll as it’s not as bitter as quinoa and less grainy than rice).

This amount of dough made me 6 large hand-pies and one VERY large empanada.  Because there’s no gluten you don’t have to worry about over-working, but you may want to pop it in the fridge between rolling / filling so that the earth balances doesn’t soften too completely.  This dough doesn’t require rolling between wax paper yay).

Warm, crusty deliciousness

Assemblage:

  • Roll dough out to about 1/8 thick.
  • If using muffin tins to shape, find a good cereal bowl to press into the dough to create large round circles.
  • Press into pans, making sure dough is pulled slightly away from the tins on top.
  • Sprinkle with ground cornmeal.
  • Layer the four ingredients so that all quarters of the crust contain a little of everything, using the cranberry sauce throughout as a bit of a moist binder.  Leave a bit of room- about 1/2 inch –  at the top so that you can press the top layer in to seal.
  • Use a 3″ cookie cutter to create a round for the top.  Or just cut with a pastry knife.  Whatever ya got.  Press onto bottom filling and seal completely with fingers.  Do not cut vents in the top crust – this pie needs the moisture to stay inside and help keep it steamy.
  • Wash with egg, milk or water (I used egg whites) and sprinkle with cornmeal.  If desired, use a cookie cutter or press to make a little decorative shape on top.  I was going to press some leaves but time ran away with me and a tiny heart was all I had nearby.
  • Bake at 400° for about 25 minutes or until the crust is brown slightly.
  • If planning on eating hot, let cool in pans for about 7 minutes (yes 7) before popping out of the pan.  I found a miniature frosting spatula very helpful.

Serve with a little apple sauce if desired.  Eat outside, preferably.  With your hands.

 

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Cornmeal Cookies

Almond Butter Cornmeal Cookies

You know, I feel very fortunate to be able to say that life is quite rad.  And so are these cookies.  Yes, rad.  I think it’s time for that word to come back in rotation.  Spread it around.  After baking these cookies.

Yesterday I made a batch of My Morning Jolt Cookies (peanut butter, coffee, oatmeal, chocolate chips… they’re gangbusters) to take along to my friend’s company where I was interviewing some filmmakers for a project I’m working on.  It’s exciting and exhausting; assessing working potential, trying to find the chemistry needed for a creative partnership of this kind.  Makes me both grateful to not be on the other side of the casting table (though auditions are a totally different beast) while finally understanding the “please let the next person who walks in the door be the ONE” thing.

I also had a delightful phone appointment with my doctor (hi, Dominiques!) who once again reminded me how rad he is (see, the more I use it the greater the chances are you’ll accidentally start using it yourself and it will take over your social jargon).  I had been nervous to catch up with him since I haven’t been quite as good with my body lately as I should be.  We had started working together during my last serious bout of illness, and it took a long time for me to get on my feet again.  So it was incredibly reassuring to hear him say that, despite said slipping habits, my current health is a testament to all the time and energy we put in for those many months and years, and I deserved a little break from the hardcore discipline to deal with some stuff.  Rad.

I topped off the evening by listening to some delightful bluegrass down in the village (The Six Deadly Venoms, check them out) with the company of someone who… well let’s just say I really enjoyed myself.  And though my late night led to starting late this morning, I’m pretty cool with life right now.

Which, for some horrific reason, inspired Billy Joel to start singing in my head.  I must go turn on some Frenchie jazz music asap and get to work a nap.  So before I go, here’s my new favorite cookie recipe.

Soft and crumbly, perfect with milk!

A few days ago I bought a big, beautiful bag of cornmeal to make a pie crust for an event this weekend, only to open my pantry and see a big, beautiful bag of cornmeal making eyes at me forlornly.  As as I seldom use this kind of flour, I figured there was no time like the present to get started.

After yesterday’s success with the peanut butter I figured I’d move it a step to the left and use some of my favorite Trader Joe’s almond butter along with the cornmeal and other gluten-free flours I’d be blending.  The combo produced a soft, perfectly sweet (mildly), simple cookie with a delicious crumble.  They’re gluten-free, contain no refined sugar, and have some extra protein and fiber thanks to the almonds and the flours.

Start to finish it took me about 35 minutes to make 36 of these little babies.  Though making one HUGE cookie sounds really fun right now too.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal / flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp xathan gum
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup smooth almond butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 slivered almonds

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flours cornmeal, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum.  Whisk thoroughly to combine.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and almond butter on high until smooth and incredibly fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  It should look incredibly light – like a dark whipped cream.
  • Add the maple syrup and continue to beat until the mixture expands a bit and, again, looks incredibly light and fluffy (there’s really no better way to describe than light and fluffy, evidently, this morning).
  • Stop the mixer, scrape down, and pour in the flour mixture.  Beat on low until it start to incorporate, then at medium speed until completely combined.
  • Fold in slivered almonds.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared sheets.
  • Baking two at at time, bake for 8 minutes.  Then use spatula to press down on cookies (if desired, this will make them a bit crispier) and rotate the sheets (flip them top and bottom on racks and then turn them around so the cookies bake evenly).
  • Bake for 8 more minutes, or until slightly browned.
  • Cool on sheets for a few minutes, then remove to cool completely.

Pressed version of the cookies

Morning Jolt Cookies – Gluten-Free Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Vanilla, Coffee, Chocolate Chip!

My Morning Cookies - Oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chips, molasses, maple syrup, vanilla and coffee!

I needed a jolt this morning.  Strong coffee, chocolate, molasses, peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla… what else could I throw into a cookie?  Yes, this is the way I wake up, especially on mornings such as today. 

I had an ambitious plan to wake up early (I went to bed at 10:30pm last night! It’s an ingenious idea I highly recommend), take the dog to the river, write an article and bake a batch of cookies before heading over to interview some filmmakers.  But then it looked like this:

Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky... stormy weather...

And the dog decided that nestling next to me was much more fun than going outside.  And I decided that hitting snooze five times was more exciting than going outside.  And together we decided that being adorable was much more vital than going outside.  And then, in a Herculean move, I made some decaf espresso (it’s all about mind motivation), put the dog in her sweater (I have become one of those people), and we hit the chilly, misty streets.

Oh, this also helped me get out of bed this morning.  Nothing like a little Gladys in the headphones when you’re out walking.  I want to be like her… oh so cool.

I’m interviewing filmmakers today for a new project (shh) I’m working on.  I lost the guy I was going to do this project with a few months ago and really want a new creative partner, so the next two days I’m interviewing 14 awesome-seeming individuals and am hoping to fall in business-love with one of them, or that one of the filmmakers at the company I’m squatting at falls in business-love with me.  And so I must bring cookies and milk.

I was so psyched by my healthy-ish Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies the other day I figured I’d take it a step further and throw in some mega-energizing peanut butter, coffee and molasses.  Keep it gluten-free, keep it dairy-free.

The result?

OK, so I ate one five for breakfast (in all honesty, it was two.  But I’m hypoglycemic so two feels like five.  I must immediately never stop eating cookies for breakfast).

And they are delicious.  Still a tad too sweet for moi, but most people will find them just-sweet-enough.  I baked one round without pressing, so they were light and fluffy, and used a spatula on the second to flatten and crisp them a little more.  Both are delightful.  You get the depth of the peanut butter, the punch of the chocolate, the whole-grain goodness from the flours and oatmeal, and the dark aftertaste of the molasses.  The coffee just strengthens all the other flavors – if you want a real coffee taste I’d suggest throwing in another tablespoon.

Now the rain is coming down and I’m drinking my second cup of decaf java, ready to write some articles and go meet some new people, and then meet a lovely man for some live bluegrass tonight.

I just got the Happy Days theme song in my head.  Not a bad Tuesday.

Flatter Version of the cookies

Notes: I used teff flour for fiber, millet for protein and the soft texture I love in cookies and arrowroot as a binding starch.  If you so choose, you can substitute this mixture for 1 3/4 cup of all-purpose pre-blended flour, such as one from Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur.  Make sure your oats are gluten-free and your shortening is fresh and preferably non-hydrogenated (I use Spectrum).  Also, please use real maple syrup and never a “pancake syrup”.  If you do, don’t tell me or I will cry, literally.  I used Sunspire’s dairy and gluten-free chocolate chips this time.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flour / starch
  • 3/4 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 cup Teff flour (or brown rice, quinoa etc)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon (or 1.5 tsp of another kind)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill is awesome)
  • 1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Line heavy baking sheets with Silpat or parchment.
  • In a small bowl mix flours, gum, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Whisk to combine.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat shortening and peanut butter on high until smooth and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and beat on high until fluffy and almost marshmallowy in consistency (yes that is a word.  Now).
  • Reduce speed to medium high and add the maple syrup and molasses while mixing, beating until smooth.  Scrape the bowl down if needed to make sure it combines fully.
  • Add the vanilla and coffee granules and beat to combine, scraping bowl as needed.
  • Stop mixer, scrape the bowl, add the flour mixture and mix on low until incorporated, then at medium until fully combined.
  • Fold in rolled oats… hold on, timer is dinging… ok, I’m back.  Fold in the rolled oats one cup at a time until evenly distributed.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Drop onto prepared mats using a little more than a Tbsp (I used two large spoons and rolled the dough between until they were the size and nice little round shape I wanted).
  • If baking two sheets at a time, bake for 6 minutes, then rotate the pans (top to bottom and front to back) so that the cookies bake evenly, and bake for another 7 minutes.
  • If desired, halfway through the baking process flatten a bit with a metal spatula.
  • Bake until slightly brown, adding an extra 3 minutes if you want them a bit crispier.
  • Cool a minute or two on sheets before removing to cooling racks.
  • Enjoy with a glass of your favorite milk, a black coffee or a shot of insulin.

Rounder version

Gluten-and-Dairy-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten, Dairy and White Sugar Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten, Dairy and White Sugar Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Autumn has hit New York City.  I’m typing at my desk by my window, and a sharp chill sneaks in.

It seems that, practically overnight, we’ve said goodbye to sundresses and sandals, to bare arms and walking in the shade.  One part of me loves this crisp air, and is day-dreaming of pumpkins and pie, of Halloween and Christmas cookies.  The other part of me is mourning how the streets are already a little bit emptier at night, how my dog is going in hibernation mode, how I have to buy new shoes to replace the ones I wore out through the city slush last season.  Of being cold for the next few months.

Saturday I took Mitra for a walk in Central Park with a friend, decked in worn fall boots and a scarf.  And when I got home I knew what I needed to get me through the weekend: oatmeal cookies.

I had spent the morning working out a recipe for a Dusty Baker reader in the UK (Hi, Peter!)  – and it wasn’t quite right.  The night before I had tried a sweet and savory cookie recipe for a local friend – it also wasn’t quite right (all I’ll say is peanut butter and duck fat… it’s coming).  I was a bit of a grumpy dusty baker.

So there was to be no failing with this recipe.  Not only did I have some friends I wanted to bring something sweet to, but I wanted to get back to the gluten-dairy-sugar alternative baking that is a major part of my food lifestyle, which had been neglected a bit by all the baking I’ve been doing for other organizations.  And I had a short amount of time before heading downtown again.

I looked at a bunch of cookie recipes – both those with and without gluten – and was shocked at the amount of sugar or sweetener the recipes called for.  White and brown sugar, and a lot of it?!  A cup and a half of agave syrup? No, thank you!

I wanted my cookies to be simple, wholesome and just-sweet-enough. 

So I used only 1/2 cup of maple syrup for sweetness, added a bit of dark molasses to replace the flavor missing from the absence of brown sugar, and added some flaxseed meal for fiber.  I used shortening for stability.  I added some black pepper for a savory kick, and threw in a healthy spoonful of my favorite Vietnamese cinnamon along with some freshly grated nutmeg (they’re totally worth it).  I followed the advice of Karina at the Gluten-Free Goddess and kept rice flour out of the recipe (I based my proportions off of her recipe, which  is stellar – thank you Karina!).

I love the results.  For me, these are the perfect cookies to dunk.  Slightly sweet and spicy, soft, a perfect vehicle for the delicious chocolate that sits nestled within the oatmeal.

They’d also be stellar with raisins.

Start to finish, it took me 45 minutes to make, bake and wrap 36 of these babies.

I was a happy camper.  I brought a few to a friend to nosh on over some cheap whiskey and a game of chess (which I’m not as bad at as I had previously thought) and to another friend I met up with for a post-show glass of wine.  And may have eaten a few for breakfast before heading off to a late brunch with food-blog people the next morning.  Followed by an awesome Bloody Derby and Stumptown Coffee.

OK, Autumn weekends in New York City can be pretty awesome.  This one was delicious.

Wait, what’s a Bloody Derby, you ask? Oh, let’s just say an incredible cocktail I introduced a few people to at the Ace hotel (and had to name).  I think it will go along swimmingly with a duck-fat cookie. Coming soon to a Dusty Baker near you.

I may have eaten this entire stack of cookies for breakfast today. Yes, salad for dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds meal
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp dark molasses
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup ground walnuts or pecans, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats (totally worth the $).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk all dry ingredients up to the black pepper and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl) beat shortening on high heat until fluffy.
  • Add eggs, maple syrup and molasses and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes (beating the eggs gives a little lift and body to the coming flours).
  • Quickly beat in the vanilla.
  • Add all the flour, turn speed down to low, and mix until just combined.
  • Fold in the oats a cup at a time until distributed evenly.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips (or raisins!) and optional nuts.
  • Drop in rounded tablespoons onto mats.
  • Put in upper and lower third of oven and bake for 6 minutes.
  • Press down on each of the cookies with a metal spatula to flatten, then rotate the trays (switch upper and lower) to ensure even baking.
  • Bake for 7-9 more minutes, or until lightly browned. 
  • Cool a few minutes on trays before removing to cooling rack.

These are stellar when warm, and when dunked in a glass of unsweetened almond milk.

These will make soft and chewy cookies. If you like them crispy, turn heat down a bit and bake for about four more minutes.

Rosemary Mint Linzer Cookies for the Cure – Frosting for the Cause

Rosemary Mint Linzer Cookies to Cure Cancer

I am honored today to once again contribute to Frosting for the Cause with these Cookies for the Cure after being the guest blogger on September 11th with my Big Apple Cupcakes with NY Cheesecake Frosting.  Every day of the year, a blogger from around the world shares a story about someone that has been touched by cancer – specifically a women’s cancer – bakes and shares a special recipe, brings that baked good down to a shelter, hospital or community center, and makes a monetary donation to a cancer organization.  After being allowed to stretch the rules a bit and profile how cancer has affected 9/11 first responders, I was excited to step in for a second post this week and share with you this recipe and these stories today.

The stories:

Becky Hewitt

Becky Hewitt was 30 years old, married for five years with two children, when a lump in her left breast turned out to be Stage 2 breast cancer.  After a year and a half of treatment, she thought she had the cancer licked.  But two weeks shy of her 1-year cancer-free anniversary, she was feeling run down.  She was then diagnosed with Stage 4, terminal breast cancer.

In 2008 Becky signed up for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, a 60 mile walk over three days that take place all over the country.  Each walker raises a required minimum of $2,300 to participate.  In the past 28 years there has not been a major advancement in the battle against breast cancer that wasn’t funded in some way by a Komen grant.

Becky was asked to speak at the Saturday nightly ceremony in the meal tent, where thousands of walkers, crew members, volunteers and staff gather to share hot meals, discuss their walking journey, and hear the stories from others who have been so affected by breast cancer.  If you have a few minutes have a good watch, maybe with a box of tissues (it was Niagara Falls over here).

“I am now going through treatment and hoping every day that God gives me more time with my family.  I decided to walk because I thought by walking I could take a stand against breast cancer. I thought both my children could look back and say “wow, my mom walked 60 miles to find a cure for breast cancer”.  I want them to know how hard I have fought and how hard I have fought to stay alive to be with them.  To see both of them grow into young women and have children of their own.  I know that eventually this disease will take my life unless we find a cure.  But I know when I cross that finish line on Sunday that I have done everything in my power to find a cure for breast cancer…. My name is Becky, and I am walking because I want to dance with my children at their wedding.  I want to learn the fox trot and dance with my husband on our 60th wedding anniversary.  I walk because when I’m 80 I want to laugh until I pee my pants.  I am walking because I want my children to watch me die from old age and not to have to watch me die from breast cancer.  My name is Becky and I am walking because I believe everyone deserves a lifetime”.

Unfortunately Becky did lose her battle in February of 2011.  She had walked in several 3-Days by that point, with so many friends and family members, as well as other breast cancer fundraising events.  And in her honor this year, 24 people walked as team Becky’s Hope in the Twin Cities 3-Day for the Cure, raising over $50,000 for the cause this year and bringing Becky’s Hope’s grand total to over $170,000!

I never met Becky, but my team Walking for Udders chose the Twin Cities event as our 10th walk with the Komen organization.  Becky’s team was all over the walk: in the shirts  that her walkers wore in her honor, in the team members who were at every cheering station with signs, noisemakers, clapping hands, treats and big smiles, encouraging all walkers along.  They were delightful.  And made such an impact that as they walked over the finish line together, the crew members standing by to cheer (including my two sisters) knelt down on one knee and raised one of their sneakers in the air – a salute of support and respect at these events.

Team Becky's Hope Walking Their 3-Day Finish line

I was drawn to profile Becky because she is the perfect example of how a passion for life, a big heart and true friendships can inspire change and encourage people to act for the causes they believe.  And, as she died too young at age 36, she is also a reminder of why we still need to work hard to erase this disease.

Over the years we have walked for many people – friends, family members, family members of friends and friends of family members.  And as our miles added up we saw more and more pictures of walkers who passed away between walks – some who we walked with one year to find they were not there to walk again the following year.  My heart goes out to Becky, her family and her team.  I’m proud to make my donation for Frosting for the Cause to her team’s next walk.

To donate to Becky’s Hope in their 2012 walk, please CLICK HERE.

Dr. Bob Kirshbaum

I want to share with you one more very special person who we lost this past year.

Dr. Bob Kirshbaum was Team California along with his wife, Barbara Jo.  Barbara Jo is a hero in her own right – at age 73 she has walked in over 100 multi-day events for breast cancer, and raised over $1,250,000.00.  I met her years ago and have seen her at so many events.  And Dr. Bob.

While Barbara Jo walked, Bob would be on the sidelines throughout the route, from as soon as we took our first step until Barbara Jo walked over her daily finish line.  He would just be standing there, clapping, with a smile on his face, an encouraging “good job, keep going ladies” and a hug if you wanted one.  And, dotted throughout the course just when you needed them, would be bright pink pieces of paper with “Team California” in tiny letters on top, and a show of encouragement or a joke like this:

I’ve seen dozens upon dozens of these over the years, and walked several miles with Barbara Jo in different cities.  So when I saw the Team California signs on our Twin Cities route this year, I immediately got excited.  I looked for Dr. Bob all that first day, and well into the second, when I overheard someone talking about Bob and Barbara Jo, and asked where he was.

The woman told me that Dr. Bob had died the previous May, from cancer.

My heart clenched immediately.  We had truly lost a warrior in the battle against breast cancer, and a true friend of the 3-Day.

I finally found Barbara Jo on Day Three and walked with her a few miles.  We talked about Bob, what he had meant to so many people, and how generous the Avon and Susan G. Komen organizations had been in helping all they could when Bob was ill.  Barbara Jo is still walking, still raising money, and I look forward to seeing her at the Avon walk in NYC this October, and help her son-in-law put up those precious pink signs.

And I join thousands of walkers, crew members, volunteers and staff members in holding up this sign that the staff made:

Thank you, Dr. Bob Kirshbaum

To donate to Barbara Jo, please CLICK HERE.

The Donation:

Our team slogan is “GOT A MAMMOGRAM?”.  Raising money is so important when battling cancer, but so is raising awareness and educating.  Over the years on these walks I’ve had hundreds of reminders how important monthly self-exams and yearly doctors visits are.

As part of my 2011 fundraising, I promised to make a cookie for every $10 that was donated to my team.  So now I have about 400 cookies to make! This is the first batch of many, and several places will get the literal cookies in thanks.

But for this first one, I brought them to Women’s Health Care of New England, my local OBGYN office.  The doctors and practitioners and staff there are amazing – the kind of place that makes women feel comfortable with all the bits and pieces that go into womens’ bodies and womens’ illnesses.  I dropped them off with just a few words, received a few smiles, and enjoyed a huge breath in of health and happiness.

Linzer Cookies with Minted Peach Jam

The cookies:

I wanted to make Linzer cookies in the shape of hearts for my first batch, inspired by some beautiful ones I had seen my friend over at Cakewalker make.  So figuring, “why mess with perfection”, I doubled his recipe and prepared it with just a few modifications.

Click Here for Cakewalker’s Linzer Cookie recipe and some great photos and instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup almond flour / meal
  • 2 cups white sugar, divided
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (one full lemon)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 2 cups jam
  • 4 Tbsp chopped spearmint
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Prepped and ready to go

Directions:

  • Mix the almond flour, white flour and 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl – whisk to combine.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the remaining 1 1/2 cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated, scraping the bowl between additions.
  • Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
  • Add the lemon zest, cinnamon, salt and rosemary, and beat on low to combine.
  • In small additions, add the flour mixture and mix on low until combined, scraping the bowl occasionally.
  • When combined, turn the dough onto a floured board and knead a few seconds until smooth.
  • Divide into three pieces, shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until at least one hour or until almost hard.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you’re not crazy confident in your baking sheets, line with parchment.
  • Om a heavily floured surface roll the first disk out to about 1/4 – 1/8 inch thick and cut in desired shapes.  Make 12 cookies.
  • Continue to reroll and cut, cutting the second dozen with little windows.
  • Bake for 14 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges and let cool completely, a few minutes on the sheets and then on racks.
  • Repeat until all the dough is used.
  • Place the top cookies on drying racks and use a sifter to sift powdered sugar on top.
  • Mix the chopped mint with the jam, spread about a half teaspoon on the bottom cookies, and then sandwich with a cutout.

These cookies will be perfect when left for a few hours or overnight so the jam has some time to absorb into the cookies and glue them together.

My modifications to Cakewalker’s recipe:

I love using fresh herbs in cookies (see my Lavender Rosewater Shortbread and Lemon Poppy Butter Cookies, with Lemon Rosemary to come).  So when I added the lemon zest to the batter I also added 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped incredibly fine.

And because I happened to have almond flour/meal already (vital when obsessed with macarons), I just used 3/4 of a cup almond meal instead of toasting and grinding a cup of blanched almonds (his instructions are great if you use whole almonds though).

So, for about 36 filled cookies I made a double batch of his Linzer cookies cut out in heart shapes and then filled them with peach jam that my poppa made last year, laced with a LOT of freshly chopped spearmint:

Thanks so much to Paula at Frosting for the Cause, Cakewalker, Becky’s Hope, Team California and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure for this opportunity!

Love Love Love Linzer Cookies

Boyfriend Breakup Beer Brownies (gluten-free)

Last week my lil sis went through a breakup.  A relatively sane one, sans drama, and she’s rolled with it very well.  But a breakup is a breakup, with highs and lows and unanswered questions.  A few months ago I went through a very hard breakup (see My Broken Heart in a Pie) and my siblings were there for me as soon as I was ready to talk to them.  Upon my first trip home, they threw me a night of gluten-free beer (well, for me), board games, a bunch of bad jokes and “socials” and “waterfalls”, and the freedom to wander alone in my thoughts when I needed to.

So when Lil Sis texted me the news, I threw all the gluten-free beer I had in my fridge into a bag and headed to Connecticut.  And after one or two drinks and some quiet conversation, I knew what she needed: brownies.

We rummaged through hers and my dad’s kitchens and got together some basic ingredients (including the gluten-free flour blend I stash there) and I went to work, whipping things together and giving her a little baking lesson as I went.  I love brownies because of how few ingredients they require, how fast you can make them and how versatile they are – purely for emotional purposes we poured some of the dark Green’s Gluten-Free Sorghum beer I had been sipping, which did wonders in intensifying all the flavors and giving the brownies lift without and baking powder/soda.

The result?  Incredibly moist, fudgy, dark cocoa brownies. Just as I want them.  Easy to slice, packed with chocolate and with a slight zing from the beer.  Incredibly easy to make, and from start to finish we had the brownies in about a half an hour.

She plopped a little vanilla ice cream on her slice to balance the chocolate.  I love dark chocolate, and savored my sweet little piece (normally I never eat refined sugar, or much sugar in general, but desperate times…).  We sipped our drinks, enjoyed some telly and as she worked things through in her head, we talked about it.

And don’t worry, both Lil Sis’ and my heart are doing just fine.

Check out my My Gluten-Free Brownie Video for eHow.com!

Ingredients:

  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 10 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free beer (try to get a dark one)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour with xanthan gum (I use my cookie blend when I make these. If using a blend that doesn’t contain xanthan gum add 1/4 tsp, please and thank you.)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a small 8×8 or so glass baking pan.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter.  Slowly whisk in cocoa and whisk until dissolved.  Then slowly whisk in beer (it will foam a bit) and whisk until smooth.  Set aside to cool.

In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer on medium/high speed beat eggs, brown sugar and white sugar together until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very smooth and creamy.

Reduce the mixer to low speed and slowly add the chocolate mixture until combined.

Toss the salt and xanthan gum into the flour and fold into the chocolate mixture.

Pour into the pan and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out smooth.

Cool for at least 15 minutes (if you want them soft and fudgey) or completely before cutting.

As lil sis pointed out, these would be great with a dairy/gluten-free ice cream or with some fresh fruit.

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