Author Archives for Jacqueline Raposo

About Jacqueline Raposo

I find people fascinating and believe everyone has a story to share. I'm a writer, podcast producer, tree hugger, and dog cuddler living in a weird body with a big smile on my face!

Vegan Coffee Vanilla Sauce

I’m bringing a vegan chocolate cake to a dinner party tonight,  And to go along with a cake, one needs a frosting or a sauce, right?

Last weekend I made a gluten-free chocolate/vanilla layercake with a traditional buttercream frosting for a friend’s birthday.  It was way sweet, and full of, obviously, butter.  And since the cake was vegan, logic follows that I shouldn’t just dump some animal by-product frosting on top, right?

In a pastry class I took a few years ago I learned how to make chocolate mousse out of silken tofu.  Figuring the texture was the first thing to worry about with a vegan sauce, I grabbed a container of the stuff from Whole Foods and figured I’d improv the rest.

Okay, here’s the list of what eventually made it into my new food processor.  It took a bit of trial-and-error-and-trial-more.

  • 1 package silken tofu, drained
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, the insides only
  • 1 tablespoon of wild clover honey
  • 2 tablespoons of palm sugar
  • 1 rounded tablespoon instant coffee granules

A mess of ingredients, right?  I mean, palm sugar and maple syrup and honey?

Originally I had meant to make a maple vanilla sauce.  But I only had about 2 teaspoons of syrup left.  Not wanting to use the dreaded agave, I thought maybe palm sugar would suffice.  Nope.  Adding more vanilla to the original teaspoon?  Well, it was something.   Adding honey for sweetness?  A bit better.  But the darned thing still tasted like tofu!

(By the way, I totally just swore and then edited myself.  It was a frustrating scenario but even when things are dusty, one must retain her propriety, right?)

So the sauce wouldn’t be a maple vanilla sauce.  I was determined not to melt chocolate and throw it in.  Then, brilliance struck (while Sigur Ros was playing, as often happens in my kitchen, for some reason.  Icelandic magic, maybe).

Coffee brings out the richness in chocolate and the depth of vanilla.  Would it save the sauce?

It did!! I now have a mildly sweet and richly complex sauce to drizzle over the chocolate cake.  For friends who, by the way, have no food allergies or special dietary requests.  I will probably reel from the amount of sugar in what I’ll be sampling – I just hope it’s enough for their taste buds to do a happy-dance.

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Easy, Healthy, Yummy, Lamb and Roast Veg Dinner

There are just some things about living in NYC’s lower east side that you’d be a right nut not to love.  In a total of twenty minutes, I procured a pound and a half of gorgeous local Frenched lamb rib chops from Whole Foods and dried fruits, nuts and a creamy, sharp goat cheese from Russ and Daughter’s (and if you’ve ever tried to go in there on a Sunday, you’d appreciate the spaciousness and quiet going in there early on a Thursday evening provides).  Then I hauled the lot up to a roomy apartment with a great view to gaze out at while I got some work done.

Ok, I don’t live in the LES.  But the current man-in-my-life does, and he’s stuck out of the country on, um, legal matters (insert ominous music).  And while absence does make the heart grow fonder (and crankier), the presence of his apartment and darling roommate do somewhat soften the blow of not knowing when he’s coming back (ooh, it’s scandalous).

(I kid – he’s Canadian.  Not that scandalous.)

So, food and the Canadian.  What’s the connect?

Since I’ve started dating Mr. Current MIML, my playing with meat has lessened to a great degree.  MIML doesn’t eat much meat.  No pork, beef or lamb.  Very little duck.  He does eat shrimp.  I find this out a few dates in and my left arm starts to hurt a bit.  I breathe again when I realize that MIML’s roommate devours meat and likes to cook.

Hence my presence at their apartment this evening with said booty.

I chose lamb ribs because, well, the market had no duck.  And the boys don’t have a proper dutch oven for me to slow-roast anything.  Or a deep saute pan for anything on the stove.  Lamb ribs only require a sheet pan and season delectably with salt, pepper and rosemary, so the list of ingredients that had to be added to their cupboard was minimal.  These ribs cook quickly and are succulent and juicy, an impressive dish for one so simple.

You hear me out there?  If you want to serve up a savory dish that requires little time in the kitchen and will easily impress both a friend who doesn’t know how to George Forman a hamburger and one who believes foie gras is a food group, roast some lamb ribs.  Don’t try to over season or over sauce.  If they’re cooked perfectly, all they need is a minimal amount of love to shine.

The roommate suggested roasted cauliflower with dried apricots and pine nuts.  Russ and Daughter’s didn’t have pine nuts, so raw cashews took the prize.   Delicious addition.  In a relaxed atmosphere we created a simple, healthy, delicious lamb dinner that was the perfect accompaniment to red wine, good conversation, a comfy couch and The Social Network (mixed feelings on that one).

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs lamb rip chops, Frenched (about 5 chops – I got three for the gentleman and two for myself.  Add one or two more each if you’re really hungry)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped small
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper (I usually stock a four-pepper blend – white peppercorns add a fine dimension to meat, in my opinion)
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1/4 pound raw cashews, chopped
  • 1/4 pound dried apricots, quartered
  • extra virgin olive oil (we used Whole Foods’ organic blend).

Directions

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place florets in a baking dish and season with salt, pepper and olive oil to taste. Make sure they aren’t crowded in the dish.  Stick on the middle/low rack in the preheated oven.  These will cook for about 20 minutes before you add the lamb.
  • Meanwhile, chop the cashews and toast lightly in a dry frying pan on low heat, until they start to smell nutty and are slightly brown.  Remove from heat to cool.
  • Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray and lay lamb ribs out.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and about 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary.  With your (clean) hands, rub the spices in on both sides until evenly coated.
  • When the cauliflower has been in the oven for at least 20-25 minutes and is starting to soften, place the lamb in, uncovered, on a high rack (2nd down in the oven works best).  Cook for ten minutes, flip and cook for 5-7 minutes more, depending on how rare you like your lamb.
  • Remove all from the oven.  Let the lamb sit for 3 minutes before removing to serving plates.
  • Meanwhile, toss cauliflower with apricots, cashews and a little more olive oil / salt and pepper if necessary.

Buen prubechu!

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Boxed Gluten-Free Cake Mix – Taste Test

My how the world has changed in the 17 years I’ve been gluten-free. Back in those days a girl couldn’t get a cookie or a decent piece of bread, let alone make a cake from a Betty Crocker gluten-free mix. This absence perpetuated the need for me to learn how to bake for myself, as it has for thousands upon thousands of us.

But now we have the gift of being able to make a cake just as swiftly as our glutenous counterparts through several brands of cake-in-a-box. And a new friend’s birthday party this weekend gave me the opportunity to test a few brands out.

I chose to use both Betty Crocker’s Devil’s Food and Glutino’s Gluten-Free Pantry Old Fashioned Cake and Cookie Mix, since both only make one round cake and a bit of chocolate and vanilla layered in one cake never hurt anyone.

I must confess, I had my doubts. Both mixes use rice as their only flour, and sugar bulks up the flavor content. The mixes felt grainy between my fingers, and the vanilla one sort of went flying in the air when I poured it into the bowl.  Here’s the nutritional content of both:

For the Betty Crocker chocolate layer:

  • one cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk rather than the one cup water in the recipe.
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not in recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons of instant coffee (not in recipe)

I baked it according to the instructions at 350 degrees for 43 minutes in a lightly greased 9″ round pan, and cooled it for about 15 minutes in the pan before inverting it to a cooling rack.

For the Gluten-Free Pantry Vanilla layer:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

And baked it for 28 minutes in a lightly greased 9″ round pan, and cooled it for 15 minutes before inverting it onto a cooling rack.

The frosting:

I made Williams-Sonoma’s Quick Buttercream Frosting, using unsweetened almond milk instead of cow’s milk.

The result:

The cake went over far better at the party than I had expected, and many were shocked to find it was gluten-free.  I was told it was actually a bit denser than a normal boxed cake, which people seemed to prefer.  The payoff for this was that I thought it was a bit dry.  No one could tell the difference between the two brands, neither being particularly more or less sweet than the other.

I was particularly shocked that it wasn’t grainy, but think the cakes would have benefited from the addition of another flour such as amaranth to both moisten and naturally sweeten.  While I could respect that they tasted like traditional boxed cake mixes, I’d still rather make my own cakes from scratch so that I could use more natural forms of sweetener and bulk up the flavor content with a few different flours.  But I was impressed.

Several people said they’d pick up the brands to make for an event where a gluten-free guest was in attendance, knowing that other guests would still enjoy it.

Two thumbs up.  That’s really all I have to say about that.    In a pinch, these cakes are nutcrackers.

Coming up, one more boxed cake-test using canned pumpkin instead of the butter/eggs to make a vegan version!

Gluten-Dairy-Free Blueberry Cornbread

In general, I can be a bit of a dusty snob when it comes to using gluten-free flour mixes instead of blending my own flours.  The same blends don’t work as well for piecrusts as they do for pancakes, for example.  But when I’m in the throws of entertaining and trying to impress with a delicious and usually ambitious brunch, I’m all for breaking out a shortcut or two.

So when marketing I threw in a Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix into the basket along with the sun-dried tomatoes and thick-cut bacon to make for some friends at my family’s house in Connecticut.

This easy and delicious gluten-free cornbread is perfect for a late summer or early autumn morning breakfast.  I had it done from start to finish in 40 minutes – with plenty of time to whip up a frittata and breakfast potatoes.  As I retype this recipe I can almost smell the changing of the seasons in the air, the warm sun on our backs as we celebrated on the porch, knowing that summer was coming to an end.

Ingredients (all at room temperature please)

  • 1 package of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled a bit. Or 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 pints blueberries, rinsed, sorted and patted dry
  • 1/3 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and generously grease an 8.5 x 11inch pan (a 9×9 also works)
  • Place entire bag of cornbread mix in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment and add the eggs, milk and butter.
  • Mix on low for about 30 seconds until just incorporated, then increase to high for another 30 seconds.
  • Remove from the mixer and gently fold in the nuts.
  • Fold in about ¾ of the blueberries, being gentle not to break their skins.
  • Gently pour the batter into the pan and smooth out the top.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining blueberries
  • Bake for 28 minutes or until firm to the touch.

** Substitutions: You can easily make this recipe completely dairy-free by substituting the butter with Earth Balance butter flavored vegetable blend, and replace the eggs with powdered egg replacer.  Soy, skim cow or rice milk can be used instead of almond milk – just use an unsweetened milk so as not to alter the sweetness of the bread.

Blueberry on FoodistaBlueberry

Gluten-Free Easy Banana Nut Muffin Recipe

I don’t normally bake with bananas.  My mother has a delectable recipe for banana bread, but these deliciously sweet fruits have been forbidden since hypoglycemia reared its ugly head.

But sometimes opportunity is the mother of invention, and I inherited four very ripe bananas from a friend with little time to utilize them.  The same person who passed them on was also a bit under the weather.  Time to get baking!

One thing I love about making muffins is how you can just sort of throw in whatever you have around to make them as simple or complex as your mood is flowing.  I had some pecans around that were ready for toasting and was trying to use the rest of my agave syrup (I won’t be baking with it soon – more to come on that).  Tossing stuff into a bowl with gusto, I’ve got a decent recipe going here.  The challenge was using the agave syrup instead of sugar: in most muffin recipes, sugar and butter are beaten until fluffy so that the moisture of the banana doesn’t soup the batter.  But with agave, which is liquid, there is no such dry and sweet combination.  So I added cormeal, increased the amount of baking soda to give it a little extra lift, and threw in the pecans that I had toasted ever so slightly for some texture.

The result?  They came out light and fluffy while still being dense, and the cornmeal gave them a scrumptious, ever-so-slightly crumbly texture that I love.  The amount of sweetness was perfect for me.

Because I was staying with friends at the time I made these get-better muffins, my full flour-arsenal wasn’t at my fingertips, so I used Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour mix.  In a recipe with this complexity, it blended just dandily.

As always with my recipes, you can always substitute the butter with butter flavored Earth Balance and the eggs with powdered egg replacer to make them vegan, gluten-free banana bread muffins.  They may lack a little heft, but they’ll still be delicious.

Ingredients:

Yields one loaf or 16 muffins

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Mix)
  • ½ cup ground cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp xantham gum
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (8 tbsps) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light agave syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • ½ cup toasted pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease and flour (preferably with rice flour, as it’s grainy and helps the bread release) a loaf pan or muffin tins
  • If you have raw nuts, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake them while the oven preheats.  Check on them regularly to make sure they don’t burn – this should take no longer than 10 minutes and they’ll brown quickly once brought to heat.
  • In a small bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking soda, xantham gum and salt
  • In a large bowl, beat butter with a hand mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes
  • Add agave syrup and beat to combine
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate
  • With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in mashed bananas
  • Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine
  • Fold in toasted nuts
  • Bake for 1 hour for a loaf pan or 18 minutes for muffins
  • Cool completely before removing from pan

Corn-and-Dairy-Free Apple Pie

 

Dusty Dan - the Brother

My brother Dan’s friend Matt’s fiance Marissa can’t eat corn or dairy.  Dan is spending New Year’s Eve with them and some friends in Vermont.  I owe Dan a baking session as part of his Christmas gift.  On a snowy, cold evening in Washington Heights at the late hour of 11pm, we head into my kitchen to develop a recipe for a corn-and-dairy-free apple pie all the revelers will enjoy.

I must admit, I’m a little concerned about this assignment.  Butter is the one thing I can count on in baking when my sugar and flour sources are limited.  I completely avoid milk, cream, cheese and the like, but the minimal presence of protein in butter somehow makes it easy enough for me to digest without too much disturbance.  Especially clarified butter, where more protein has been removed.  So no matter the flour combination or inclusion/lack thereof of sweetener, I’ve always been able to rely on butter to add complexity and flavor.

Technically, butter also acts as the fat that binds the flour together in a crust.

Now, while I generally don’t use corn flour or products when I bake, I also haven’t been particularly attentive to it being in products I use.  So when Dan said Melissa uses Smart Balance Light as her “butter”, I stick to it.  I’m a bit confused about it’s being made with canola oil, which I assume is from corn.  Or if there’s a specific reason she doesn’t use Crisco shortening, which is made from palm and soybean oils.

After some quick googling I realize that canola isn’t made from corn but from rapeseed – who knew?!?

These are all questions to ask her at another time when we make “Melissa’s Apple Pie Take Two”.

For now, here’s how this basically plays out:  I use regular flour so that the gluten binds and develops the pie dough.  Other than replacing the butter with the Smart Balance and only using 1 tablespoon of water, we make the Williams-Sonoma Basic Pie Crust.  I also use white sugar in the dough and the filling, which I don’t usually do.  I figure this pie needs to be a gentle step for those who don’t have food allergies.

So – this pie is NOT gluten-free nor sugar-free.  Not a particularly alternative recipe, it just lacks corn and dairy together.  For tips on making the best of your apple pie, check out my posts on Apple Pie Filling and The Best Basic Pie Crust.

Ingredients: Apples

  • 12-16 hard, ripe apples, of three different varieties.
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, two varieties if possible (one sweet, one spicy)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably ground fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions: Apples

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Peel, core and slice your apples, and spread them equally on two rimmed cookie sheets.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup white sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon cloves on EACH of the sheets.
  • Mix with your hands until all apples are coated.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes while you prepare your crust, turning the apples once, until softened.
  • Remove from oven and let cool before filling.

Ingredients: Crust

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 16 tablespoons cold Smart Balance Lite
  • 1 tablespoon ice cold water
  • 1 egg (for washing on top)

Directions: Crust

  • Fix a standing mixer with a paddle attachment and pour in flour, sugar and salt.  Whisk together.
  • Add the Smart Balance in little chunks and start mixer on low.  Mix until the dough just starts to pull together.
  • Add the 1 tablespoon ice water and mix until the dough forms a ball, being careful not to over mix.
  • Separate dough into two balls, flatten into disks, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until a bit harder.

Directions: Assembling and Baking the Pie

  • Turn the oven down to 375 degrees when the apples are done baking.

  • Flour your workspace and rolling pin, and place one disk of dough in the center (an option is rolling between two pieces of parchment paper).
  • Start rolling from the center out, in one direction, to stretch dough.  Because we used Lite Smart Balance, which I assume means the water content is higher and fat content lower, this dough has much more of an elastic pull and a bit more oil to it.  Rolling away from the center in one direction with a good amount of weight seems to help it extend.
  • Gently place the crust into the plate.
  • Fill with apples, pressing down slightly and roll the top crust.
  • Place the top crust gently on the filled pie and crimp edges with a fork.  This won’t crimp as easily as other crusts, but as long as the edges are together, the filling will steam nicely.
  • Wash the crust with the egg, slightly beaten, and dust with sugar.
  • Bake on a cookie sheet or “pizza” stone for 40 minutes at 350 degrees or until apples are fully tender and crust lightly browned, covering edge of crust halfway through with tin foil or a pie lip.
  • Cool before serving and, if you can wait, don’t eat until the next day! Enjoy!


Notes:  This crust doesn’t taste like much on its own.  But paired with lots of apples sweetened with white sugar and scented with cinnamon and nutmeg, it’s a hearty compliment.  The crust softened the day after it was baked, and continued softening so that it was still tasty (I’m told) days later, and somewhat even more so.

Easy Mochi Waffles and Tempeh “Bacon” Recipe

I cannot take full credit for this glorious gluten-free-vegan brunch creation – many thanks go to Rae and Robbie for playing in the kitchen with me while I was paying Cincinnati a holiday visit.  Armed with nothing but a waffle maker, frying pan and one spatula, we set out to coax tempeh into something that slightly resembled bacon and form gluten-free waffles from mochi.  And the results were deliciously delicious!

And yes, I truly mean that grammatically incorrect tasty bit of hyperbole.  They were dusty delicious.  They were amazing. They were phe-nom-en-al.

And easy.

I’ve heard that in Japan they’re starting to use the term “moffle” to refer to mochi waffles.  I’ve never been a fan of Branjelina or romcoms, so I’ll take the extra sixteenth of a second to continue to type the two words out.

Mochi Waffles

What is Mochi? Mochi is glutinous sweet rice that is pounded into a paste and molded into a hard shape.  Many Japanese traditional desserts utilize mochi is a base ingredient, and when dyed with bright greens and pinks add a bit of festivity to the simple dessert.

I am not a particular fan of those forms of mochi, but LOVE the bricks you can buy and cook yourself.  When mochi bakes it fills with air creating a beautiful crusty exterior that houses chewy goodness. I love to toast it, slice it and fill it with almond butter.  Friends drop it into soup or grill it and douse it with tamari for a savory treat.

Nutritionally, plain mochi is made only with sweet rice and filtered water, making it easily digestible and naturally low in fat and calories. Despite being “glutinous”, mochi is GLUTEN-FREE, the term instead referring to it being “sticky”.

Keep in mind that mochi waffles are not light and fluffy like wheat waffles, so indulge in a little creativity with your toppings.  We went fairly simple with real maple syrup and brown rice syrup, plus some fresh black and blueberries.  Nut butters add some protein (if you’re not accompanying your waffles with tempeh bacon), and provide a creamy kick.

Ingredients / Directions

  • Choose your mochi.  Grainassance brand is sold at most health food stores in several flavors, most commonly plain and cinnamon raisin.  Either make great mochi waffles.
  • Cut mochi into 16 pieces.
  • Spray waffle maker with non-stick cooking spray, or grease with butter or oil.
  • For square waffles such as in the picture above, use 4 pieces of mochi evenly spaced.
  • Close griddle and bake for approximately 4-6 minutes, until mochi is puffed and steamy.
  • Serve immediately.

Tempeh Bacon

Rae is vegan and while I love tempeh I also love the crap out of meat, so it was an exciting challenge she gave me in making tempeh taste like bacon.  Especially as we were dining in “Porkopolis”, the nickname lovingly given to Cincinnati for the copious amount of pork bred and consumed there.

While I was unsure of succeeding in this task, especially in someone else’s kitchen, we were all pretty satisfied with the results.  I tried to encapsulate the sweet and smokey aspects of bacon.  And, once again, the recipe is shockingly easy.

Note: make sure both your tempeh and tamari are marked gluten-free if you follow such a diet.  Many tempeh’s are bulked up with grains to increase the flavor and nutritional content and therefore are not guaranteed to be free of gluten.  And while tamari is noted for being the gluten-free version of soy sauce, some versions do contain gluten.

Ingredients / Directions:

  • Pick up one brick of tempeh, cut into 8 strips and place in a medium bowl.
  • Pour 1/3 a cup of tamari and 1/4 cup maple syrup over tempeh, toss to marinate and let sit for about a half hour.
  • Set a medium frying pan on medium-high heat and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  • When hot, place tempeh in pan, reserving liquid to baste.
  • Cook thoroughly, turning tempeh in quarter turns until all sides are brown, basting with reserved liquid with ever turn.
  • Taste sauce and adjust syrup and tamari as needed.
  • Tempeh is ready when the liquid has caramelized and tempeh is dark.

Gluten-free Whole Grain Waffle Recipe

Waffles are the new muffin.  You heard it here first, Dusty Baker style.

Last weekend I was bequeathed with a waffle iron, that I dutifully packed into my carry-on and brought back to NYC from Cincinnati (thanks, Rae!).  This morning I had guests to prepare breakfast for, and was frustrated with my lack of muffin options – I had no nuts, berries, raisins, fruit, nothing to put into a muffin!  I had thoroughly explored the gluten-free muffin world last year in Cincinnati, and now that trip inspired what will surely be one of many gluten-free waffle recipes to grace this site.  I popped out all the flours I had open in the fridge, consulted classic waffle recipes, and got to work.

The result: these waffles are deliciously whole-grain and sweet because of the use of amaranth and quinoa flours.  I used two different types of cinnamon to give them bite.  And 6 tablespoons of butter gave a perfectly creamy balance to the grains.

If you don’t have all of these ingredients, substitute with what you have.  Cow’s or soy milk can be substituted for the almond milk, as can a soy/vegetable alternative to butter and egg replacer for the eggs easily makes them a gluten-free vegan waffle recipe that holds its own comparatively.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup amaranth flour (provides sweetness and a soft texture)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour (provides a bit of protein and aids digestibility)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (provides body and heft)
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch / flour (binds the flours together)
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds (provides fiber for digestibility)
  • 1/4 cup sweet sorghum flour (it’s sweet and I’d never used it before!)
  • 3 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I used half Chinese and half Indonesian cinnamon)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter (or soy butter)
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or cow’s, soy or rice milk, just try to use unsweetened)

Directions:

  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl
  • Melt the butter and set aside to cool
  • Heat your waffle iron
  • Beat the eggs in a small bowl and slowly add the milk
  • Add the melted butter, stiring to combine
  • Pour liquid ingredients into dry and stir with a fork or spatula to combine
  • Use 1/4-1/2 cup batter per waffle, cook until toasted

Makes 8 waffles.

10 Holiday Kitchen Gifts – Things I Can’t Live Without!

Okay, so saying that I can’t live without something is relative, right?  Yes, I could live without a standing mixer.  But would the people in my life who receive the treats made from it actually want me to?  Questionable.

There are so many blogs about the best gifts for this and that online.  And I am guilty in my day job of writing for other people’s websites of contributing to those lists.  But the other day a new person in my life was in my kitchen and I pointed to a saute pan and said “I could do without all the things in my kitchen except for THAT”.  THAT slowly turned into four or five things that make the family I could basically cook anything from.  So here are those and a few other of my little favorites of varying expense that are sure to add a little Dusty pleasure to holiday stocking or nestled under the tree.  If you have a chef in your life that you’re looking for the perfect last-minute holiday cooking gift, you can’t go wrong with one of these babies that I’m slightly and probably unhealthfully obsessed with.

Click on the images to find the products online.

10. The Cuisinart 5.5 quart Stainless-Steel Saute Pan

$55.00 on Amazon with lid. Also at Home Goods and TJMaxx sometimes.

I am a big believer in stainless steel over non-stick.  Cuisinart makes an incredibly affordable line of quality stainless steel pans.  They heat evenly, have a nice weight to them, clean up easily and are impeccable with letting the flavor of your food come through.  I use it to brown meat, fry eggs, saute vegetables, fry donuts… it goes from stove to oven so frittatas are yummy and meat dishes get a good browning under the broiler.

9. Le Creuset 5.5 quart Dutch Oven

$65 at Home Goods or starting at $200 online.

I am in love with this piece of equipment.  So much so that this picture is one of many I have taken of it.  And I love Le Creuset in particular.  I’m sure there are comparably good french cast iron pieces of cookware, but I don’t need to meet them.  I have penned poetry about this pot.  Sad?  Yes.  But this pot has made countless delicious soups, nestled lamb loins, sweetened peaches for pie, sauteed vegetables into gooeyness.  It goes from stove to oven to table.  If I could pick one piece of equipment to cook in, this would be it, in this size (I also own the 3.5 quart oval and the 9 quart round). I got mine at Home Goods for about $65.  But I’d pay $200 if I had to.  If you have a cook you love in your life, get them one of these and don’t be surprised if you see tears.

8. Silicone Spatulas/Spoonulas from Williams-Sonoma

Starting at $7

These are a both a guilty pleasure and a practical, almost indestructible necessity for the kitchen.  The silicone is safe for all surfaces, so pots and pans are protected from scratching.  The spoonula is perfect when sauteing vegetables.  They come in all sorts of pretty colors that make an appealing assortment when out on a counter.  I get them randomly as presents and never complain.

7. OXO Good Grips Flexible Spatula

$13.00

I got one of these a year ago from a local kitchen store and it’s now my go-to.  The flexible steel yields to cookies, eggs, meats and vegetables perfectly, so food that is slightly soft doesn’t threaten to break.  I actually rarely use a stiff spatula now.  And at only $8 and virtually indestructible, it’s a steal.  People I’ve gifted it to love it.  Stocking stuffer.  Oh yes.

6. Ghee

About $6

Yes, ghee.  Ghee is clarified butter most commonly known in Indian Cooking.  Regular butter is heated at a low temperature so that the protein solids separate from the pure, delicious ghee.  It’s so much more tasty than regular butter.  It has a higher smoking point, a deliciously nutty taste, and rounds out dishes perfectly.  While I don’t use it in baking, it’s my go-to butter when I cook.  In sauteed vegetables I usually use olive oil as my base, and then add some ghee at the end to pump up the flavor exponentially.  If I had only one fat to cook with, it’d be ghee (though I’d cry a little at the loss of duck fat and olive oil).  And, yes, it’s perfection on toast.

5. KitchenAid Standing Mixer

$239. on Amazon.

This is one of the best kitchen gifts I’ve ever been given (ties with the first Le Creuset my mother gave me).  Quick story: I had inherited one from my boyfriend’s parents that made literally thousands of cookies and hundreds of pies, breads and cakes in the 30-years they owned it.  And they’re ridiculously delicious bakers.  The work kept going in my kitchen until the boyfriend became the best friend and the mixer went with him.  I ended up borrowing his father’s so often during the holiday season last year that he gifted me one for Christmas.  Thanks, Kevin!  It’s indispensible for quick pie crusts, whipping egg whites into stiff, peaky perfection, kneading bread dough… there’s nothing a good mixer can’t do.  Soon I hope to get the grinding and pasta attachments for it.  If you want to wow with a present, get a KitchenAid.

4. Bialetti Percolator

$26.00

Okay, so this technically isn’t a cooking thing.  But I love good coffee and love offering it to my guests. And after experimenting with standard coffee makers, espresso makers, one-touch systems, a simple drip filter and the lovely French Press, this is my favorite.  I love the 3-cup one specifically because it makes just the right amount of really strong coffee for me to mix with hot water into a perfect Americano. And, as this Dusty Baker always seems to be moving, it fits so easily into luggage and comes with me wherever I move.  And you need nothing but heat to make coffee – perfect for electric or gas stoves or the campfire!  Delicioso!

3. Flexible Cutting Boards

From $5 on Amazon

These are ingenious.  They protect your counter and then fold easily to ease food into pots and pans. Nothing more to be said.  Inexpensive and worth their weight.

2.  A Chef’s Knife

I use a Cutco standard 9.25 inch chef’s knife.  Granted, I’m not as versed in knives as others, and I hope to be able to afford an upgrade in the future.  But I’ve had this knife since my 2nd year of college and it still never fails me.  Cutco knives sharpen easily and come with lifetime guarantees, so if it chips they’ll fix or replace it.  A good knife is probably the most vital instrument in a kitchen.  And this one ain’t bad.

1. Sur La Tabla Nonstick Jellyroll Pans

$19.95 for two

I lived by a Sur La Tabla last year and was instantly in love (and slightly addicted) to their affordable brand of products.  These two jellyroll pans are my favorite for baking cookies – they’re thick enough that the temperature distributes evenly but not so thick that my cookies spread in scary directions. And when I’m roasting sides of pork or lamb, they can hold up to running fat and charred corners.  I basically have one that I solely use for meats now, and a set for baking.  Quality.

Punch Yo Mama Kentucky Apple Pie – Take One

“Bourbon Bacon Molasses Apple Pie”.

Until today, nothing would come up in a search engine with those five beautiful words strung together.

Now, this is not a healthy pie.  Nor a medicinal pie, except in that it may have magical qualities when trying to lure lovers or tame unruly children.  It blends those delirious tongue-teasers of savory and sweet, the unsuspected crunch of candied bacon embedded in folds of apples both sweet and tart.  A blend of spicy and soothing cinnamon and a dash of fresh nutmeg fuse them together and they sleep contented in a flaky, free-0f-the-demon-gluten crust.  This pie is work, but so worth it.

In making this recipe I combined techniques I’d learned from other kitchen explorations – par-baking apples, candying bacon, blending healthy flours for a gluten-free crust – and am very pleased with the first incarnation.  But this recipe still has further to go; it’s delicious on day one but the bacon sags into an unappetizing texture if you keep eating it on successive days (but if it’s more than you and a roommate trying to wipe it out of existence and you can eat it in one go, bake on).  The bourbon gives a delightfully oak-y slight to the senses, but hasn’t packed a wallop yet.

If you’re looking for a comforting, complex apple pie recipe with a twist, check this recipe out.  It’s fuller-bodied than your traditional American pie, and the flavors round themselves out very well.

This recipe requires three steps: 1. Candying bacon. 2. Preparing your apples. 3. Preparing and filling crust.  Refer to my BAKING BASICS posts for recipes on both filling and a variety of pie crusts.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons GOOD Kentucky bourbon (I used Blantons, one of my favorites)
  • 3 tablespoons organic blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar plus more as desired
  • six strips very thin bacon (from a butcher)
  • About 18 apples, prepared (CLICK HERE for page on apple pie filling)
  • Unbaked pie crust, enough for bottom and top.

Directions: Bourbon Blackstrap Bacon

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lay a baking rack over a cookie sheet with high rims and spray the rack with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Heat small saucepan over medium/low heat.  Once hot, pour in 2 tablespoons bourbon and heat until it just gets bubbly.
  • Add 2 tablespoons molasses and stir with spatula until the mixture starts to bubble and expand.
  • Add 1/2 cup light brown sugar, mixing in, and bring to heat until the mixture expands again.
  • Turn off heat and let cool slightly.
  • Prepare to get sticky: using your hands, rub each piece of bacon in the bourbon mixture until coated.  By the 3rd or 4th piece the sugar mixture will be cooling and drying out a bit – don’t worry! Just drudge it as much as you can to coat the bacon.
  • Coat entirely with extra brown sugar until completely covered.
  • Lay on sprayed rack and bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until bacon is crispy.  Set aside and cool completely.

Directions: Apple Filling. On EACH tray sprinkle:

  • For this recipe, I used 2 kinds of cinnamon, 1 very spicy and one mild and sweet. I love cinnamon, so I used 2 tsps. of each.  Vary this to your tastes.
  • Sprinkle on each trap 1/4 tsp of ground cloves and 1 tablespoon sugar, preferably something light like palm sugar over regular white sugar.
  • Toss the apples thoroughly.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the apples are slightly softened.
  • Remove from heat and let cool.

Directions:  Let’s Fill This Thing

  • Use a deep-dish 9″ pie plate (my favorite pie dish is my Emile Henry 9″. It’s wonderfully deep and the ceramic bakes to perfection) and fill it with your bottom crust.
  • Layer the apples in and pack them tightly – the apple should be piled into a very hefty dome.
  • In a small dish, combine remaining tablespoon bourbon and molasses, and drizzle completely over the top of the apples.
  • Place second crust on top, and pinch to close.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, covering the edges halfway through baking so they don’t burn.

This pie is best eaten the same day it’s made, but should be cooled completely before cutting if using a gluten-free crust (they crumble very easily).

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