Monthly Archives: February 2012

Light and Fluffy Gluten-Free Pancakes

If you look under my little “Categories” toolbar to the right over there, you’ll see that there’s one titled “Pancake Addiction”.

Though they’re not my go-to every morning breakfast (that would be slow-cooked eggs over arugula with avocado, goat cheese, sunflower seeds and a dash of really good olive oil and fleur de sel), they’re one of my favorite things: so light and fluffy and indulgent.  I’ve been doing the gluten free thing for almost 20 years – sometimes incredibly strictly, sometimes a bit more lax – and I remember a huge chunk of my childhood either going without or having really sub-par replacements. Not any more. Continue reading

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Red Velvet Pancakes – gluten and dairy free

Flour, cocoa, and a whole lotta love

I didn’t realized until I uploaded these photos quite how sexy these pancakes are.

They’re not as sophisticated as my Tapioca and Buckwheat Crepes.

Not as ready for little fingers and family moments as my Ebelskivers.

They don’t quite have my undying devotion as do my Blueberry Lemon Pancakes.

Nor do they fulfill a St. Patrick’s day yearning like my Nutty Irishmen.

But, hot dang…

…do they make a little dusty baker like me swoon.

Look at them, all saucy and red...

So here’s what I suggest you do, friends:

If you’re single, slip on something barely there and make these while dancing barefoot in your kitchen to Ella or Janis or maybe some Little Walter.

If you’re all cozy coupled, slip outta bed early morning and whip these up, then serve all snuggly and warm.

If you have little ones scampering about, put on the Beatles and teach them that all you need is love.

Happy Pancakeing.

– Jacqueline

Love is all you need

Gluten-free pancake mix

Whisk together 3 cups millet flour, 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup  starch, 4 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp kosher salt, 2 tsp xanthan gum, 4 Tbsp sugar

Red Velvet Pancakes

Now what technically constitutes a “red velvet” cake is the combination of flavors of cocoa and the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar.  I’ve made these both with and without vinegar, and in my opinion there’s not much of a difference in taste between the two.

What I have noticed that makes a huge difference is the kind of milk you use.  I awoke to FoodBuzz’s “Congratulations, you made the Top 9!” and a craving to make them.  But after two batches that were gummy and tight I was REALLY frustrated!  The original batch was made at my family’s house in CT, with most of the same ingredients I have in my apartment.  I had made them twice there with success.  What in dog’s name was going wrong?! After the two botched batches I looked at the Silk Almond Milk I had grabbed from my corner deli: it contains locust bean gum (made from carob pods).  I had found the culprit.  So, warning, if you use an alternative form of milk, check out both the sugar and the thickening agents in them.  I’ve made them successfully using my basic pancake mix (above), but I’ve also put options for using premixed gluten-free flour and mixing your own below.  If you’re using a mix that has a gum in it, omit the xanthan gum completely.  Also, consider reducing the sugar if your milk is already sweet.

Final note: If you have large eggs on hand, be careful with the amount of milk you use.  Start at 3/4 cup an add the additional at the end if needed.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup gluten-free pancake mix OR mix below*
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 – 1 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp red food coloring
  • 1/4 tsp white vinegar

Single Batch Mix: if you don’t have pancake mix at the ready use this combination: 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup  starch, 1/4 cup millet flour (or 1 1/4 cup of whatever gluten-free flour mix you have at hand) 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/8 tsp salt optional 1/4 tsp xanthan gum depending on your milk / dry ingredients mix.

Directions:

  • Whisk pancake mix, cocoa and sugar in a small bowl.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk / beat egg, milk, vanilla and food coloring until creamy and light.  Add in flour mixture and stir to combine.    Let sit for 15 minutes if time permits (I pour mine into a large measuring cup for easy pancake pouring later).
  • Heat a griddle or large skillet on medium/low heat until it comes up to temperature.  Lightly grease with cooking spray or butter.  Slowly pour pancake mix to desired size.  Cook about 5 minutes, until the pancake bubbled then sets.  Flip, and cook another 3 minutes or until just slightly browned.

Note: Because of the color, cooking slowly at medium/low heat is the best.  Make sure that the cooking spray or butter doesn’t brown between batches to lock in the beautiful red color.

Milk Bar Mondays – Apple Pie Layer Cake (gluten-free, dairy-optional)

The cake layered and frozen, ready for birthday love

It’s a Milk Bar Monday, folks, and I couldn’t be more tickled pink than to have it coincide with my Lil Sis’s birthday.  A whopping 26 years old (cough), Lil Sis is one of my favorite people on the planet, and a very dear friend.  She massages my weary, arthritis-laden body when I’m sore (awesome having a massage therapist in the family), gave me my first lessons in pasta making in preparation for my upcoming Easy Eats magazine feature, Mitra runs up to her full of love, and she’s instrumental in helping me cope through those big, life-changing moments we all love to fear so much.  Lil Sis claims to be moving to Virginia or North Carolina or something like that in May.  I choose to remain in a state of denial.

Me and Lil Sis, circa 2011

On top of being a truly loving, creative person, Lil Sis has somewhat recently started a gluten-free diet.  I had this CRAZY layer cake to make for this round of Milk Bar Mondays, where a small group of incredible lady bloggers bake out of Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar cookbook.  I’m the alternative baker of the bunch, and was immediately sold on the awesomeness of the swap when my Carrot Cake Truffles were quickly hailed as one of the best things I have ever made.

Because the cake had to freeze and defrost before being plopped in the car to Connecticut and stripped of its acetate mold before being presented, I don’t have great pics of the final product, or us enjoying it.  Head to the other ladies in the swap for some stunning photos of their creations, all which look too amazing for words:

Host Nicole at Sweet Peony has the whole recipe too!

Cassie at Bake Your Day
Erin at Big Fat Baker
Krissy at Krissy’s Creations
Audra at The Baker Chick

Follow the Milk Bar Monday ladies on Twitter! 

Follow the Milk Bar Monday board on Pinterest!

Happy Birthday Lil Sis!

Now, this cake is a little insane.  A brown butter cake layered with Liquid Cheesecake, Apple Pie filling, Pie Crumb and Apple Cider Soak, then topped with Pie Crumb frosting.  Tosi might be a bit insane, but she’s a genius. There were layers of “wow” going through my family as we all tasted, it being proclaimed an incredible combination of coffee cake and apple pie.  It is extremely sweet.  If I ever make it again I’ll cut some of the sugar from the apple pie filling and cheesecake, because it’ll still be plenty sweet with a little omission. But it is ridiculously, amazingly, scarily delicious.  Don’t be afraid of the many steps – it comes together brilliantly.  Just plan ahead a bit (I made most of the components in one day then made the cake and built and freezed it a second), and it makes a stunning presentation.

Happy Birthday Lil Sis.  I love you up to heaven, down to earth.

– Jacqueline

Apple Pie Layer Cake – Gluten Free, Dairy Optional

My version is gluten free, and while I used butter in the cake itself it can be made dairy free as well by substituting the brown butter with melted Earth Balance.  Adapting Tosi’s recipe to be gluten free didn’t work, as there was far too much fat and gluten-free flours can be heavier than all-purpose wheat.  So I made my basic vanilla cake with brown butter instead, and got the same taste results with a better texture.  The key to this cake is making sure that the oven is hot, the ingredients are all at room-temperature or warm, and that you whip the eggs to at least twice their size before folding in the rest of the ingredients.  This way you get an incredibly spongey cake that’s full of flavor and doesn’t risk sinking when you take it out of the oven.

Special Equipment:

  • Quarter sheet pan
  • Parchment paper
  • 6-inch cake ring
  • Acetate strips (2 strips 3″ tall and 20″ long)

Components:

  • 1 recipe Brown Butter Cake (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake (click on title for link to recipe under Carrot Cake Truffles)
  • 1 recipe Pie Crumb (recipe below), divided equally in two
  • 1 recipe Apple Cider Soak (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe Apple Pie Filling (recipe below)
  • 1 recipe Pie Crumb Frosting (recipe below)

Building the Cake:

  • Use the cake round to gently cut 2 circles of cake from the pan.
  • Place cake ring on a piece of parchment on a sheet pan.  Insert one of the strips of acetate securely into the ring.
  • Pile the scraps of cake cut around the circles into the bottom of the cake ring and use your hands or the bottom of a glass to press into a flat layer.
  • Wash the cake layer with a healthy dose of the Apple Cider Soak, about 1/2 of the recipe.  Use a spoon to evenly spread 1/2 of the Liquid Cheesecake on the layer.  Spread 1/3 of the pie crumbs, pressing them into place.  Spread 1/2 of the apple pie filling as equally as possible over the crumbs (for a firm cake, don’t use the more liquidy part of the filling).
  • Gently insert the 2nd ring of acetate, overlapping about 1/4 of an inch to make an almost 6-inch ring.
  • Gently place one of the rounds of cake in the ring, and repeat with equal amounts of filling.
  • Top with second round of cake, and frost completely with Pie Crumb frosting.  Sprinkle with remaining pie crumbs.

Brown Butter Cake

Ingredients:

  • 8oz (1 stick) unsalted butter  or Earth Balance
  • 8 oz white sugar
  • 4 whole large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3oz white rice flour
  • 3 oz tapioca flour
  • 2 oz millet flour
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a quarter-sheet pan with parchment paper and do not grease the edges.
  • If using butter, makes it all deliciously brown and nutty by microwaving it in a heat-proof bowl (Pyrex is great) closed with a heat-safe plate for 6 minutes.  You’ll hear the butter bubble and pop, and it should be dark and golden when you (carefully) remove the plate.  If it’s melted but still yellow, nuke it for another minute or so. If using Earth Balance, simply melt it over the microwave or on the stove until thoroughly melted.  Either way, allow the melted fat to cool while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
  • Weight our your dry ingredients into a medium bowl.  Prep a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • In a double boiler over simmering water, whisk the eggs and sugar until the sugar is completely melted and the mixture is slightly above body temperature (do not let the egg cook, you’re just warming them so that they whip up more easily).  Immediately pour into standing mixer and begin whipping on medium/high-speed until the mixture more than doubles in size and becomes light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.
  • Remove from mixer, and fold in flour mixture.
  • Fold in melted butter.
  • Immediately pour into pan and bake for 30-38 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool completely before building the cake.

Apple Cider Soak:

Whisk together 1/4 cup apple cider, 1 tsp tightly packed light brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon until the sugar is dissolved.

Apple Pie Filling:

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter or Earth Balance
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar (this could be cut to 1/3 in my opinion)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

  • Fill a bowl with cold water and add lemon juice to it.  Peel the apples, then half and quarter them.  Remove the core, then cut each piece lengthwise into thirds and crosswise into fourths, so that you have 12 small pieces from each apple quarter. Move them to the lemon water to keep them fresh while you cut.
  • When all the apples are ready to go, strain them and toss them into a small pot with the rest of the ingredients.  Put on medium heat and bring up to a boil.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the apple are soft but not getting mushy.
  • Pour into a container and refrigerate until completely cold. (Can be kept in fridge for a week, but do not freeze)

Pie Crumb:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter or Earth Balance, melted
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp water

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a half-sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat.
  • Combine flours, gum, sugar and salt in bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment and paddle on low-speed until well mixed.  Add the butter and water and paddle on low-speed until mixture starts to come into crumbles.
  • Pour onto baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, checking them occasionally to break them up.  The crumbles should be golden brown but not hard – they’ll seem to crumble when you press on them, but as they cool they’ll harden a bit.
  • Let the crumbs cool completely before using for the cake (you’ll use half the recipe for the frosting and the other half for the layered cake).

Pie Crumb Frosting:

This makes enough for 2 cakes but Tosi says it’s really hard to make a single serving, so make double and use the rest for snacking or cake-truffle-ing!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 recipe Pie Crumb
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used hazelnut milk to bring out the nuttiness in the brown butter cake.  Unsweetened almond milk or your milk of choice will work well too)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (I found the frosting to be a bit salty, so I’d suggest cutting down to 1/4 tsp)
  • 3 Tbsp Earth Balance or unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free confectioners sugar

Directions:

  • Combine crumbs, milk and salt in a blender and blend for about 3 minutes on medium/high-speed until it’s smooth and homogenous.  Scrape under the blade halfway through to make sure the entire recipe mixes completely.
  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, begin paddling the Earth Balance / butter and confectioners sugar until fluffy and pale, about 2-3 minutes on medium/high-speed.  Scrape down the sides with a spatula.
  • On low-speed, paddle in the milk mixture.  After a minute, bring up to high-speed and whip for another 2 minutes. If mixture is not fully uniform, very pale and fluffy, scrape the bowl again and paddle for another minute.
  • Use immediately, or store in fridge for up to one week in an airtight container.

Double Dark Chocolate Cake Truffles for my Valentines (gluten and dairy free!)

For my Valentines... love Jacqueline

Shy confessions, Bloggereaders,

  1. I can be accidentally romantic.
  2. I haven’t been single on Valentines day in over 10 years (Big Sis said, “cry me a river”).
  3. I am reluctantly thankful for cake pops.

Valentines Day is not a huge marker in my book.  For the majority of those 10+ years Ruark and I went in and out with celebrating depending, honestly, if we felt like it or not.  We had started dating when we were so young, and found plenty of moments to show each other how we felt.  And in general I’m not a big fan of commercially-fueled tokens.  Two years ago the man I was with was away for work and had his friend stop by with a huge bouquet at the theatre I was working at.  Last year new boyfriend and I had no plans until mid-morning, when he called where I was out of town working and sweetly said, “I’m thinking it’s Valentines Day and you’re my Valentine, so we should be together tonight”.   I trained it back to NYC.

So this year, being single, I’ve been more contemplative about the love in my life in general.  Not at all mournful, just reflective.  I have so much love, so many people I’m surrounded by who have full, generous hearts, that I feel more in love than ever.

Oh, the 3rd point up there?  A few months ago I had to develop a gluten-free recipe for Valentine Cake Pops for Easy Eats.  Two weeks ago I made 75 chocolate chip and lemon zest cake pops in the shape of Winnie the Pooh honey pots for a baby shower.  They were cute, but not as adorable as I’d wanted them to be for the mom-to-be.  And they took me eight hours! Lastly, for the first Milk Bar Mondays swap last week I made Carrot Cake Truffles, which are essentially cake balls (and one of my favorite super-sweet recipes).

In the beginning of this road with cake pops, I was often cursing, whining, or whinging.  But the result of all the frustration?

Moments of joy this morning as I deftly baked, blended, dipped, flipped and formed these truffles.  I had some cake I’d been experimenting with (a new flour blend), some leftover liquid cheesecake, some bags of chocolate and lots of fun things to toss truffles in.  I found myself smiling in the silence of my kitchen, thinking about those I’d be wrapping and gifting these for.  They look so cute all ribboned up.  And, they were actually pretty easy.  I enjoyed making them.

While made of cake, these truffles taste a bit more ganache-y because of how dark, rich and buttery they are.   I tossed them in ground walnuts, dark cocoa powder, raw cacao nibs, and some candy hearts I had leftover from the Easy Eats recipe.  It was a very romantic morning in my kitchen.  I was in love with the natural light pouring through my windows and my ancient camera that was snapping away.

I hope you have a lovely Valentines Day, Bloggerreaders.  But more than that, I wish you much peace, love and sweet, sweet life… always.

– Jacqueline

Freshly rolled truffles

Double Dark Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 30 truffles

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter-flavored Earth Balance
  • 10 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free flour (my blend was 1/3 cup brown rice and 1/3 cup tapioca starch plus 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup ground raw walnuts (optional)

For the Truffles:

  • About 4-6 Tbsp liquid cheesecake or prepared frosting of choice
  • 6oz dark chocolate (I used 70%)
  • Ground nuts, candies, cocoa powder, crushed cookies or cacao nibs for coating

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Grease an 8×8″ cake pan (I prefer glass)
  • In a small pot on medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in cocoa until smooth.  Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly while you continue.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat eggs on high until creamy, about 45 seconds.  Add the sugars and beat until thoroughly incorporated with no traces of sugar, 2-3 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly stream in butter/chocolate mixture.  Beat until incorporated.
  • Slowly add flour and salt.  Mix on low until incorporated.  Stir in walnuts.
  • Pour into pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out relatively clean.
  • Immediately turn out onto a baking sheet and break up into pieces.  Allow to cool completely.
  • When cool, return to standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Paddle on medium/low until completely broken up.  Add liquid cheesecake or frosting 1 Tbsp at a time, until the cake comes together and you can easily roll a piece into a firm ball without it falling apart.
  • Roll batter in quarter-sized balls, placing on cookie sheets lined with wax paper.  My batch made 30.
  • Place all toppings in bowls (shallower and wider the better).  Melt chocolate in the microwave, first for 1 minute, then stirring to melt completely, then for another 30 seconds if the chocolate isn’t smooth enough (it should be fluid but only warm to the touch).
  • Quickly use your fingers to lightly coat each ball in chocolate, then toss into topping bowls, up to three in each bowl.  Shake / lightly toss the truffles to coat completely, then return to wax paper-lined trays.  Repeat with remaining truffles until done.
  • Refrigerate at least 10 minutes before packaging.
  • Share with those you love.  Or freeze them and slowly eat them by yourself, one by one…

I heart you Bloggerreaders

Roasted Garlic Aubergine Spread (and an NYC story)

Roasted Aubergine Garlic Spread

Hello there friends,

I had one of those mornings that tougher NYCers would laugh at but that’s left me with a scrunched up feeling in my heart.

I awoke once again just feeling off.  Not full-blown sick, but really out of whack.   I muscled to the living room to do a low-key Qi Gong DVD, which definitely had me slowing down, centering, focusing, and returning to somewhat a manageable plane of energy.  I was feeling calmer, at least, and ready to tackle my morning.

Then the parking situation came.

In my neighborhood we have alternate side-street parking where you can’t park for 90 minute blocks certain days of the week so they can be cleaned.  It’s a fun little matrix I now know well.   It’s not rocket science (shout out to my friend Tim who is actually a rocket scientist), but takes some planning and moving your car quickly when the cleaning’s done on a street, so that you have a place before your time expires.

So at 10:05 I, feeling very grounded and quiet, took Mitra for a walk around the corner, stopping to tousle with her friends Scrabble and Checkers, before jumping in the car and pulling to a street a few blocks away.  There, a few cars were doubled-parked on the narrow one-way street.  Double parked!  It normally isn’t an issue, though, because they come and move their cars when the time changes.  So… you guessed it… 10:20 rolls around, usually when people are slipping in to park and waiting in their cars until go time (like yours truly and 3 other cars), and the squatters are no where to be seen.  10:30, nothing.  Two of the other cars want to park and leave, which is now creating a pileup of passing cars, including a school bus that can’t get through.  10:35, still those cars and now the legally parked people are waiting, having pulled onto the curb so people can pass.  By 10:38, I’ve dealt with plenty of yelling and honking people who are not happy.

So when the drivers finally come out, they’re met with grumpy people including me, who gives a lady an exasperated scrunch of the shoulders.  She fires immediately, “oh, I’m 3 minutes late, kill me!” to which I respond, “actually you’re 8 minutes late and have pissed off about 20 people” to which she responds as she walks to her car “ooh, 8 whole minutes, doesn’t something ever come up for you?  Welcome to New York baby, it happens” to which I go “I’ve been here ten years, no welcome necessary, it not an excuse to those 20 people backed up for you” to which she closes “I’ll tell my sick mother you said that”.

Scene.

I park my car and get out to start walking before she can follow in my direction.

To most NYers, no big deal, right?  Neither of us were obscene, and while she was yelling at my open window and looking very pissed off it was kept at that.  It was inconvenient, and even if only for 8 minutes, those two people were basically stating that their time was more valued than others.  But still, why did I have to engage? I usually assume that people are just having a bad day, or that something came up, and it’s only 8 minutes anyway.  What if her mother is really sick and she was dealing with something important?  What if she’s having a really low day and I made it lower?

I walked back into my building assessing my actions, not so much concerned at the severity of the situation – in reality it’s not that big a deal – but because I don’t want to present myself that way to the world. I don’t want to be a city-dweller who is insensitive to the fact that there are real people everywhere around me.  I want to act respectfully first and assertively second.

Maybe I’ll go leave a note on her car.  Just in case she actually cares.

So back inside, I make some coffee and start to work on this dish.  A purple-ribboned aubergine called out to me at the market.  I don’t normally eat eggplant (they’re a deadly nightshade vegetable and so not good for people with arthritic conditions) but in these cold winter NYC months I need smooth veggies, and lots of garlic, and my apartment smelling like cooking food and love.

To serve, I tried two ways.  First, by slicing a sweet long pepper and filling each half with half of the mixture.   And just because I wanted to see how it would taste as a munchie appetizer, I piped half into Tostito Scoops and topped with a bit of the chopped pepper.  I’m not a huge chip / snack fan, but had some leftover corn chips from our Superbowl gathering (um, yeah Giants!).  And when I do eat chips, they’re corn chips.

Already in my belly...

This plate?  Yeah, gone by the time I got to typing this sentence.

The spread is both incredibly savory with a huge waft of garlic, but also sweet in the aubergine and the roasted flavor that comes from cooking the garlic in this way.  It’s warm and filling without being heavy.  And so full of flavor for such a small list of ingredients.  I’m not a huge “party snack” fan, but this is definitely high on the list now.   And I now have the rest of the head saved for something else (why do I not roast garlic more?!).

And with that, I’m going to get to some real work today.  Cooking helps when mornings are cranky, and I’m fortunate to have set up my work lifestyle in such a way that I can go to the kitchen for an hour when I most need it.

Happy Thursday folks.

– Jacqueline

Roasted Aubergine Garlic Spread

Ingredients:

Warm, soft, roasted garlic

  • 1 small aubergine / eggplant, sliced thin
  • 1 entire head of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used fleur de sel and an awesome 5-spice pepper blend)
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Place sliced aubergine on a cooking sheet and rub with about 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.  Eggplants/aubergine absorb a lot of oil quickly, so don’t expect it to be coated like most vegetables.
  • Place about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a small ramekin.  Cut off the bottom / root part of the garlic bulb and place cut side down in ramekin, then place on cooking sheet.
  • Roast for about 30 minutes, flipping the aubergine halfway.  After 30 minutes, check to see if garlic is roasted by gently lifting slightly and pushing down on a clove: if it falls out easily, it’s done.  If not, cook entire tray another 8 minutes or so.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  • Place entire aubergine in a food processor or blender.  Pinch out the garlic, and add a few cloves to start (I added 5 and eventually worked my way up to 8 large cloves).  Add chickpea and about 2 Tbsp olive oil.  Start to process mixture, scraping down sides as necessary and swirling in my oil to moisten as needed.  Taste, then add salt and more garlic to your level of taste.  Puree until completely smooth.

Smooth, silky, creamy...

Green and Garlic Soup (Vegan and quite scrumptious)

Green Soup - Kale, Chard, Sweet Potato

I don’t diet.  I probably should, sometimes, but I hate any negative relationship with food, having grown up in a culture and country that over-indulges and then punishes itself on a rotating basis.  And as I’ve had complications with my digestion because of Lyme Disease from the itty bitty age of 12, I embrace what foods I can eat and try to celebrate them as wholly, fully and naturally as possible.

So with the abundance of sweet things in my kitchen comes a love for incredibly clean, simple foods that are fortifying and cleansing.

Hence green soup now and then.

I love this soup.  I love soup in general, but one of my favorite things about the glory of vegetables and a hand mixer is just throwing stuff together and seeing what comes up.

So, here it is, one of my favorite staples in the particularly cold months.   I served this ladeled over millet and enjoyed with a hot mug of gyokuro, one of my favorite green teas.

Green and Garlic Soup

Ingredients:

Equipment: a hand blender.  If you don’t have one, get one.  Really. Worth it.

  • 2 Tbsp (large swirl) olive oil
  • 1 large vidalia or sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, pressed and roughly chopped
  • 2 yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups water or broth (more if you need later)
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 bunch of green chard, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp vinegar (apple cider, red or white wine)

Directions:

  • In a 5-quart heavy pot, bring olive oil to medium heat.  Reduce to low and cook garlic and onion until soft, about 6 minutes.
  • Add  yams water/broth and salt and pepper and bring up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the yams are slightly soft, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the kale, chard, parsley and vinegar and cook until all vegetables are soft.
  • Blend with a hand mixer until smooth (or pour progressively into a blender, being extremely careful when blending as the heat might make the top pop off!).  Add more vinegar and spices as desired.

Milk Bar Mondays – Carrot Cake Truffles (gluten and dairy free)

Carrot Cake Truffles

Around the holidays, I was at Barnes and Noble flipping through cookbooks for my chef roundup feature coming out in March for Easy Eats magazine.  Content with a decaf Americano, the rain pouring out over Union Square and my shared table stacked high with books from Blue Ribbon, The Meatball Shop, Frankies Sputino, Eleven Madison Park and such NYC food havens, I merely flipped through Christina Tosi’s Milk book.  Tosi has almost a cult following (Chef Stephen Collucci admitted to calling one of her creations so good it was “stupid, it’s just dumb”).  I’ve never partaked.

Because milk – a featured ingredient along with sugar and glutenous flour in Tosi’s work – will send me into a flu-like state for days if I accidentally imbibe.  Not that I don’t admire and respect what she does, at all, but I remember setting the book aside thinking, “there’s no way I can even adapt 1% of these recipes”.

Enter the Milk Bar Monday swap.

This title intimidates the crap outta me

A few weeks ago Meagan of Scarletta Bakes emailed me asking if I’d consider participating in a bi-weekly swap, all of recipes from the Milk Bar book.  I was walking to a date on 9th avenue and literally my heart started shaking as if I had just swallowed a Tbsp of white sugar.  I was scared.  Tosi’s recipes have a ton of steps to them like soaking cereal in milk and then using the milk in recipes (or drinking it straight, according to some of my friends in the know).  Adapting was gonna take planning.  But I really admire the ladies of this swap, and when something scares me, it usually means I should do it.  So of course I concluded, “this is gonna be awesome”.

Welcome to the first installment of Milk Bar Mondays, folks!

Meet the Ladies!

Meagan of Scarletta Bakes

Erin of Big Fat Baker

Cassie of Bake Your Day

Audra of The Baker Chick

Nicole of Sweet Peony

Krissy of Krissy’s Creations

Follow the group on Twitter!

I have to say I am particularly enamored by this collection of bloggers.  Just check out their sites for today’s creation and for their work and writing style in general.  Stellar photos, clever ways with words, mouth-watering recipes… I’m truly psyched to be in such company.

And now… the recipe.

I have to hand it to her, these are goooooooood.  Like, so good they are indeed stupid good.  I’ve passed them along to friends who all had an eyebrow raise when they started chewing.  Dumb.

If you follow me on twitter you may recall that last weekend I spend hours making (and cursing over) cake pops for an event.  They came out adorably, but hurt my soul in how long they took and at how little skill I have with white chocolate and craftiness.    But everything happens for a reason, and last weekend made this one actually a cinch.  Because Tosi’s truffles are actually cake balls.  And since these didn’t require sticks, double dipping, dyed chocolate or lettering, I felt like a pro.

For this swap in general I’m going to try to keep as much as I can to the original recipe, making versions of Tosi’s recipes that gluten and dairy-free eaters can enjoy without putting my own spin on things.  So for this I simply used gluten-free flour, almond milk and Earth Balance in the cake, soy cream cheese in the liquid cheesecake and dark chocolate instead of white.  For the milk crumbs I used crushed Classic Butter Cutout Cookies I’ve had in the freezer for just such an occasion.

Voila.

Carrot Cake Truffles (gluten and dairy free)

recipe adapted from Milk by Christina Tosi

Ingredients: Cake

  • 8Tbsp / 1 stick butter flavored Earth Balance, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/4 cup white rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled, grated carrots

Directions: Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 6×12 inch cake pan or a quarter baking sheet with cooking spray and line with parchment or Silpat.
  • In the bowl of  a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars on medium/high until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides, add the eggs, and beat another 3 minutes until fluffy and smooth.  Scrape down sides again, turn the mixer to low, and slowly stream in the oil.  Return to medium/high and beat about 6 minutes until the mixture is almost doubled in size and looks almost like Fluff.
  • Meanwhile, combine flours, starch, powder, soda, gum, cinnamon and salt in a bowl ad whisk to combine.
  • Turn mixer to low and slowly add in flour mixture.  Mix to combine.
  • Remove from mixer and fold in carrots.
  • Pour into pan and smooth top.  Bake for 25 minutes, until it is puffy and almost doubled in size.  The edges of the cake should be springy and the center soft but not jiggly.  Bake another 3 minutes if it’s not at this point.
  • Cool completely.

Ingredients: Liquid Cheesecake

  • 1 8-oz container “Better Than Creamcheese” Tofutti cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch, arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg

Directions: Liquid Cheesecake

  • Preheat oven to 300°.  Line a 6×6″ baking pan with plastic wrap – yes, with plastic wrap. I had never done this before but it worked just fine.
  • Beat “cream cheese” on medium/high speed in bowl of standing mixer with the paddle attachment until soft and smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the sugar and beat again for another 2 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch with salt, then add 1 Tbsp milk and whisk to combine.  Add 2nd Tbsp and whisk to combine.  Add egg, and whisk thoroughly until smooth.
  • With the mixer on low, stream in egg slurry.  Return speed to medium/high and beat for 4 minutes until mixture is smooth and loose.
  • Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until the edges are set but the middle of the cake is still loose and a bit jiggly.
  • Cool completely so that the cake has time to set.

Ingredients: Truffles

  • 6oz 70% dark chocolate
  • 2 cups crushed sugar cookies (I used this recipe from Christmas and had them in the freezer, then ran them through a food processor so they were incredibly fine)

Assemblage:

  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment beat the cake and 2 Tbsp liquid cheesecake. If you can shape it into a ball, it’s good to go. If too dry, add more cheesecake 1 Tbsp at a time. It should be a tad moister than a cake pop combo, if you’ve made them before.  I found this cake already quite soft so I only needed 2 Tbsp.
  • Roll into balls a tad bigger then a tablespoon, and set on wax paper.
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute, then stir to completely incorporate and melt chips.
  • Place the cookie crumbs in a second bowl.
  • Roll each ball in a thin layer of chocolate then in two coats of cookie.  Set back on wax paper and chill until hard.

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Cassava Bread Stuffing (vegan, gluten free) – Burwell Recipe Swap

It’s Burwell Recipe Swap time again! I must say, I was pretty excited when CM sent out this month’s recipe, something simple and savory and a good contrast to the sweets that pour out of my kitchen (and often straight into my belly).  I cook all the time, and can pretty much cook anything, but I rarely actually post what I make because I usually don’t measure, work by instinct and create as I go along.  So, jotting down numbers and results is good for me.

This month's swap recipe from Pine Tavern

I love the “foot of Oregon Avenue” in the address title.  I’m going to start to describe my apartment location in that way.

For this recipe I didn’t feel like going too crazy.  During the winter months I crave vegetables and citrus fruits, needing to fortify with vitamins and root foods.  So squash makes a regular appearance and I often omit meat from my meals.  Instead of just replacing wheat bread with gluten-free bread, I planned to use three grains that I love – jasmine rice, millet and quinoa – but then discovered cassava bread from the Dominican Republic in my local market and figured I’d try it.  On it’s own I’m not a fan – made with only yuca, I have a feeling what it tastes like originally is not what made its way to Washington Heights.  This bread is really hard, and sorta tasteless.  But it crunches well in the recipe, adding some texture.  And now I know.  If you can’t find cassava bread I suggest using gluten-free rye crackers instead, or omitting completely.

This feeds one person as a vegan, filling entree, or split between two as a side.  I’m making it for brunch. Yum.

Oh, and this is day 2 of my 3 swaps in a row! Check out my Chocolate Ginger Puer Tea Bread (gluten and dairy free) from yesterday’s Chocolate Love swap, and tune in tomorrow for Carrot Cake Truffles (gluten and dairy free) for the first Milk Bar Monday swap!

Please visit the other swappers to see what deliciousness they’ve come up with!

Cassava bread

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Cassava Bread Stuffing

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 kabocha squash, seeds removed
  • 1 Tbsp each millet, quinoa and rice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil + more to taste later
  • 1 stalk of celery, halved length-wise and slice thinly
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 2 mushrooms, chopped thinly
  • 2 Tbsp chopped white onion
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar (or cider or red wine vinegar, even white will add something)
  • 1 tsp kosher or seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp herbs d Provence
  • 1/4 cup cassava bread crumbs (you could also use rye crackers or something similar)
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds or ground nuts
  • 1 Tbsp raisins, dried cranberries or goji berries

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Take a small slice off the curved end of the squash so that it sits flat in a baking dish.  Brush lightly with olive oil and bake while you prepare the grains and vegetables.
  • In a small pot, toast the 3 grains on medium heat until fragrant.  Add water, bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until all the water is absorbed (about 10 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add the olive oil, vegetables and seasonings and toss to coat.  Cook for about 5 minutes until they start to brown.  Add the vinegar and cook until soft, about 20 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked grains, vegetables, cassava bread, nuts and dried fruits.
  • Stuff into the cavity of the half-cooked squash, drizzle with olive oil and return to oven for 20 minutes or until squash is cooked and stuffing is toasty.

Chocolate BlogHop! Chocolate Ginger Puer Tea Bread (gluten and dairy free)

Dark Chocolate Tea Bread

“I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!”

(five points if you can guess the movie)

Hello bloggereaders!

It’s February, and soon NYC will be painted pink and red and boxes of chocolate and racy lingerie will be put to good use in the throws of holiday romance.  Where will yours truly be this year?  Jury’s still out.  I actually dated a man for about 8+ years and I think we celebrated Valentines Day maybe twice?  I have a thing with forced romance or commercially-fueled celebrations.  All I know is the bottle of champagne I have still from one of the wineries on the South Fork will probably make an appearance.

But, heck, baking is what I do and celebrating with food is what I love, so it’s fitting that this month’s BlogHop theme, of which I’m excited to be one of the cohosts for the first time, is Chocolate!

I use chocolate (and carob) all the time: fair-trade, organic and usually vegan as I can then be assured of the dairy-free aspect.  I’m a big fan of extremely dark varietals, decked with spices or infused with flowers.  I ate my fill at the NY Chocolate Fest a few months ago, where I grabbed Paul A. Young’s Adventures in Chocolate, which I have been pouring over with hungry eyes (check out my Spicy Mexican Mulled Wine Cocoa play on one of his recipes).

I don’t think chocolate has to always be the center of the sweet, though, so when stretching my cranium for my bloghop contribution, I wanted a rich, spicy and subtle alternative to the abundance of chocolate this time of year.  Luckily, Young is a master at making a variety of complex, versatile chocolate desserts – I highly recommend his book as a present for the Valentine in your life.

The result?  This tea bread is of my new favorite recipes, and one that will be a staple in my hosting repertoire.  I bake delicious things all the time, but this I will serve with particular love.  Laden with fruit captured perfectly in a dense, spicy cake, the chocolate compliments the other flavors and the tongue finds it in just the right moments.  It’s solid without being heavy.  Exactly what you want in a fun take on a traditional British tea bread.  I’ve adapted it to be gluten free and, if you use dark chocolate, it’s naturally dairy free in Young’s original recipe.  I adjusted here and there for what I had in my pantry and to make sure the gluten-free flours could hold up.  I used puer tea as a nod to my friend Louis, who’s visiting from out of town and with whom I first drank puer years ago in San Francisco.  I’ve given slices of it out wrapped in parchment like little gifts from a Dickens novel.

Sh*t, I’m getting all romantic.  Here’s the blasted recipe.

Chocolate Ginger Puer Tea Bread

Chocolate Ginger Puer Tea Bread

based on Chocolate Ginger and Cardamom Tea Bread from Paul A. Young’s Adventures in Chocolate

Note: you need to soak the fruits overnight!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup / 5.5 oz crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 2/3 cup organic seedless red raisins
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • zest of one large orange
  • 6 Tbsp organic light brown sugar – Young suggests muscovado, which is divine but more expensive.  Take your brown sugar a step up and buy organic and it will have a flavor and texture more on par with muscovado)
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp strong tea – I used puer, which is a very dark, earthy tea.  Have fun with any spicy, strong black tea you like
  • 1 large organic egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature and beaten extremely well
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3.5oz bar 70% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used Divinebecause it’s fair-trade, 1 bar is exactly 3.5 oz, it’s not overly expensive and I hadn’t tried it before.

Directions:

  • In a medium bowl, combine ginger, raisins, nutmeg, orange zest, brown sugar and tea.  Mix to combine, cover and let sit 8 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325° and line a 8×4 inch loaf pan with parchment.
  • Add beaten eggs to fruit and mix thoroughly.  Add flour and incorporate completely.  Stir in dark chocolate.
  • Pour into loaf pan and smooth out the top.
  • Bake for 80-90 minutes, cool for 30 minutes before carefully removing from pan.

Young suggests wrapping the cooled cake in clean parchment and a kitchen towel and letting it sit for 24 hours.  He overestimates the layman’s patience, I believe.  I cut into this baby 1 hour after it was done baking and it was divine, but the wrapped pieces did taste even richer then next day.

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February is #chocolatelove month!
Please check out the recipes from the other co-hosts and peruse links below!

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Please join in on the #chocolatelove fun by linking up any chocolate recipe from the month of February 2012. Please link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by! The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove.

The Basics for Perfectly Cooked Chicken and the Bon Appetite / HSN Launch

All it takes is a few simple steps and one awesome sautee pan...

I’m not shy about the equipment that I love.  I’ve practically written sonnets to my Le Creuset 6-quart Dutch oven.  I sing along with my 8″ Hammer Stahl chef knife.  I swear by industrial baking sheets and Emile Henry bakeware.

But I can type so freely about those items because I’ve purchased them.

So, full disclosure, I was invited to the HSN launch of the new line of Bon Appetite Collection cookware, and walked away with a 10″ fry pan, a belly full of delicious food and some info on their entire new line.  I wouldn’t be blogging about it were I not completely comfortable in saying that I am impressed and am now a fan.

Yep, it's all in the details people.

At the launch Chef Ryan Scott walked through some of his favorite things about the line which I took into appreciation when making this dish.  Two layers of steel wrap around a core of aluminum, providing incredibly even heat to the entire pan, even with my slightly tilted stove.  The design is practically seamless, so oil comes up to temperature perfectly.  The little hook in the handle is an appreciated touch when you have little hands and a heavy pan.  And the weight is incredible, sturdy and even, and feels so hearty that my roommate mourned that we don’t have cheating husbands on whom to fully test its potential.

Pros:

  • Can trust it from stove to oven as it heats perfectly.
  • Little hook in handle adds extra comfort.
  • Three layers of aluminum and steel gives it the weight and durability of my favorite All Clad pals.
  • The cost is incredibly affordable for such classic and trustworthy elements.

Cons:

  • No cheating husbands on which to test its bat-like potential.
  • I don’t have a full set of pans and a hanging rack to suspend it on.

As far as the rest of the line goes, my wish-list item would be the counter-top pressure cooker.  I use my old-school, $20 from a Portuguese supply store pressure cooker for grains, beans and nada else.  The pulled pork that they cooked in 42 minutes flat in their pressure cooker… incredible.  Juicy and flavorful it contained less sodium and fat because when you pressure cook food more flavor stays in it and therefore you don’t have to add as much into the pot.  It’s got a timer, a sleek design and I can see myself using it in many, many ways.

Check out the HSN for pricing:  I’m impressed by the quality of these products for the prices listed. And each piece of equipment is tested and approved by Bon Appetite and includes some recipes specific to the machine that are incredibly rich and delicious.

Now, onto this “recipe”.

I recently interviewed Chef Daniel Holzman of The Meatball Shops in NYC for an Easy Eats magazine feature coming out in March, a side-tip of which was, when cooking chicken in skillet, not to get impatient and move it around when it sticks.  It will, Holzman affirmed, loosen its grip on the pan when it’s browned properly.  In general most chefs I interviewed were aligned with their advice to keep things simple and use top ingredients (check out Easy Eats for some stellar recipes and interviews).

So, I have this great new pan, some inexpensive free-range organic chicken thighs and legs, and a new tip to play with.  With just a few ingredients and proper technique, here’s how to make flawless, flavorful, juicy chicken… every time.

Chicken cooking, not sticking.

Ingredients:

  • Top-quality chicken thighs, drumsticks or breasts  at room temperature / not straight from the fridge (I had about 1.3lbs of skinless organic drums and thighs)
  • About 2-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 400°.
  • Heat skillet on medium heat for about 5 minutes while you chop onion and garlic.
  • Lower heat to medium/low and add olive oil, swirling to cover pan.  Bring up to heat but don’t let it thin / smoke (think medium/LOW heat).
  • Pat the chicken dry and salt and pepper one side.
  • Add onion and garlic to pan and saute for 5 minutes or until just slightly soft.  Move onions and garlic to the side of the pan.
  • Add chicken, seasoned side down, in a single layer and brown for about 3-4 minutes.  Do not move the chicken until browned up the sides a bit.  Season top side with salt and pepper, flip, and brown on the other side.
  • When chicken is just browned, pile garlic and onions around it and throw it into the hot oven.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the onions and garlic are golden and toasted and the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

There, easy peasy.  Add garlic and onion powder, lemon pepper, a dash of good vinegar… basics.  The result is juicy, perfectly cooked chicken where the poultry sings.

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