Breakfast

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.

Pomegranate & Coconut Golden Raisin Muffins – Guest Post from Free Spirit Eater!

Pomegranate Coconut Golden Raisin Muffins from Free Spirit Eater

Hello Bloggereaders!

I am so very excited to welcome Kym – the Free Spirit Eater – to my blog today!  A few months ago Kym asked me to guest-post on her site.  She was so sweet and humble in asking, where my reaction was something like, “Um, YE-AH!”

I love Kym’s incredibly warm and inspired love for food.  She’s a trained chef, and with her fiance Tim creates recipes for her site that look mouth-wateringly delicious.  If they lived closer by, theirs is an apartment I would randomly be stopping at during dinner hours, pretending I found one of her sneakers on the sidewalk or asking to borrow a cup of milk (which I don’t drink) or something.

I told her I only had one catch – she’d have to guest-post for me! I’ve never had a guest-poster on my site, so the idea of swapping made me super tingly excited.  Then the holidays came, and went, and Kym prepped for a big apartment move, and I got a new job, and our recipes got away with us.

Until today.  I welcome Kym to The Dusty Baker with open, hug-ready arms.  We met a few months ago through writing for Bromography.com.  Then Kym accompanied me to the Great American Pie-Off, lending some moral support for my entering my first pie competition where we took home 2 of 4 awards.   She’s a very talented cook and food photographer, and I’m sure she’ll continue to achieve incredibly great things.

Head over to FreeSpiritEater to grab my recipe, Kumquat Chutney Hand Pies.  And while you’re there, flip through her mouth-watering recipes.

Kumquat Chutney Hand Pies

From Kym, The Free Spirit Eater

When Jacqueline asked me to guest post on the Dusty Baker Blog for a recipe swap I immediately felt a sense of excitement. I love her site, am a huge fan of her writing and consider her a friend. I can only wish that one day my writing could be as intricate, descriptive, delicate and powerful while still being witty and quirky as Jacqueline’s writing style is. But I also felt my quick moment of panic. What did I get myself into? I am no stranger to gluten free cooking. I’ve altered dishes to make them gluten free by request when I worked as a line cook. But until this recipe swap, pretty much every baked good I had ever prepared requires some type of glutinous ingredient.

As someone who has never had a food allergy in her life and is a free spirit who simply consumes what is placed before her, working with restrictions was quite a challenge. Whenever I thought of a recipe to attempt, I stopped myself realizing it wasn’t gluten free. Through this challenge and experiment, I have gained a great respect for anyone with a food allergy.
Now onto the baking!

I found this gluten free muffin recipe online which asked for soy milk, sesame oil and oats among the list of ingredients. I used neither of these and altered it entirely where it does not resemble the original recipe in any way. I had never worked with white rice flour before, but purchased it for this special occasion. The texture was different, lighter, leaving a lovely scent as I plopped down the first cup full. Since pomegranates are still in season, I worked some seeds into the mix as well as sweetened coconut flakes and golden raisins. They didn’t rise as much as I wanted them to, so another ¼ teaspoon of baking powder wouldn’t hurt next time. A bite into the finished product resembled a mix between cupcakes and muffins in texture. Not overly sweetened, but a pleasant light feel with sparks of pomegranate, sweetened flakes and juicy golden raisins teasing your palate with each bite.

Attempting my first gluten free baking project was a mix of emotions. I think the point of this swap was to get your hands dirty while being thrown out of your comfort zone. It was a challenge, but a successful one none the less. The muffins are not that big and have plenty of natural ingredients adding a distinct lovely taste. For those with a dairy allergy, soy can replace the cow’s milk. Feel free to switch the coconut flakes for toasted sliced almonds, or other nuts and dried fruit. Enjoy!

Pomegranate & Coconut Golden Raisin Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup of rice flour
  • 2 Tsp of baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • Pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate
  • ½ cup of sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup of golden raisins
  • (Extra flour and coconut oil or canola oil for greasing)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet ingredients in another (except for coconut oil, pomegranate, coconut flakes and raisins).
  3. Bring ingredients together by combining in one bowl, and then add coconut oil, pomegranate seeds, golden raisins and coconut flakes, mix well until fully incorporated.
  4. Divide into a greased and floured 6 muffin tin. (If you use coconut oil for this step, you will achieve a nice golden brown on the bottom part.)
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or test with a toothpick to make sure it’s ready.
  6. Let cool, remove and serve. Cover in saran wrap to store.

Sticky Pumpkin Flax Muffins for a Grey Winter Day (gluten free)

Breakfast on a cold, rainy day in NYC.

Yesterday was one of those mornings.  I awoke to a barely lit room despite the fact that it was 9am.  Before I opened my eyes I could hear rain pitter-pattering on the air conditioner outside my window.  Yes, here there’s no lulling drop on shingles.  It’s a wet, alley cat kinda life.

I dragged Mitra along the sidewalk, battling to keep my oversized red umbrella from flying off into the Hudson.  Rain pelted sideways, and the poor dog kept tying to climb up my legs as I desperately implored her to “just pee, pee please, baby, and then we can go inside”.

Only seconds later, defeated, the dog unrelieved, I closed the umbrella and we sprinted back home.

Because in that tiny moment, it had hit me.

It’s here.

Those dark, wet, sticky months in the northeast when everything just feels damp.  When un-waterproofed boots mean feet will be molested by a foot of frozen slush that had somehow passed itself off as level sidewalk.  When subway tunnels become wind tunnels.  When snow somehow manages to fall horizontally.  When buildings are overheated and New Yorkers are steamed.

As we raced to my building we passed gourds and tiny pumpkins abandoned in windowboxes, their flesh sagging over the edges and most likely putrid inside with stank innards.  Discarded Christmas trees cried on the curb, fearing the moment when they would turn into mulch, most likely pondering on why they grew for years only to be adored for a scant few weeks.

At least that’s what I was thinking on their behalf.  I love trees.

Two years ago I spent the dark months backstage in a warm theatre on run crew: reading books, drinking tea, catching up with my dear friend Lily and occasionally holding a curtain for an exiting actor or moving a piece of prop furniture.  Not a bad way to spend the grey period.

Last year I spent most of my time downtown with the delicious man I was dating.  One night we walked to the Angelika, hated the film (Blue Valentine – yes, I hated it), then exited the theatre into 4 inches of snow.  Happy, bundled and loving NYC, we walked back to his place under fat flakes, stopping to take pictures for tourists, arriving home soaked.

This year I’ve got a  bundled-up pup, a fully outfitted kitchen where treats are rolling, good friends coming and going, and work that I love.  As much as I fear these post-holiday, dreary months, they’ve always brought me a sense of hibernation that truly is refreshing.  Next weekend I head out to the furthest corner of Cape Cod to do a show, get pampered in a posh B&B and walk on the frozen beaches.  In February I plan to bunker in my Louisa May Alcott attic at my friends’ in Southhampton, where I’ll walk Mitra and Mia on another frozen beach and gaze out romantically at the bay as I type.

But until then, I need this in my life:

Sticky Pumpkin Flax Muffins with apricot and blackcurrant jam (and butter... I'm bad....)

I was complaining to one of my editors the other day the agony that is going to a coffee shop and seeing a pathetic little shriveled gluten free muffin in plastic alongside their overstuffed, glutenous counterparts.  These muffins have now satiated that grumpiness.

I recently got a delivery of gluten free flour from Better Batter to test a recipe for an article I’m working on.  Yes, the flour will be used for it.  But after the seasonal revelation I couldn’t curb my impatience to try it out, especially as I always blend my own flours and never have the ease of one already prepared.  I’m a big fan of the Better Batter flour from this trial, so far. More info on that to come that I’ll link to down the line.

I used the oversized-6 muffin tin for these babies, and admit that I ate TWO AND A HALF of them yesterday!  And the one pictured above for breakfast this morning.  They’re sticky and dense, perfectly sweet, and inspire being layered with butter and jam and enjoyed along some strong coffee and a newspaper in print.  I wasn’t originally planning on posting them as they weren’t exactly what I’d pictured in my head, but a visiting friend couldn’t stop saying “mmm, these are SO good” as she at one.  She encouraged me to share.

Oh, I added some flax because it makes my body happy.  And used organic pumpkin so that I didn’t have to use butter so they’re dairy free and low in fat!

Happy January, bloggerreaders.  Hope you’re staying warm.

Jacqueline

My favorite with these was tart apricot jam

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour.  I used Better Batter, which already has xanthan gum in it and a lovely neutral-flavored mix of flours
  • 3 Tbsp ground flax seed meal
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin or sweet potato puree
  • 1 cup warm milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Lightly grease 6 oversized or 12 normal muffin tins.
  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, flax seed, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
  • In another bowl, beat eggs thoroughly.  Add pumpkin / sweet potato puree, milk and maple syrup.  Beat / whisk thoroughly to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined.  Fold in nuts.
  • Pour equally into muffin tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, until springy to the touch.
  • Try not to eat too piping hot – I dove right in and have a light burn on the top of my mouth to prove it.

Teff Crepes (high-protein, gluten free and so easy!)

High-Protein Teff Crepes

The last time I made gluten free crepes, the man I was dating at the time said “I love you” for the first time.  Like, he was in love with me.  It was a very special moment.

He said it not because we were eating the crepes.  Not because they reached out to his French Canadian homeland.  But because, in my excitement, I called him over to his stove to show him that they worked!  I had made gluten free crepes!  Seeing my giddiness he blurted it out, seemed shocked with himself, gave me a hug and returned to the couch.  Two minutes later, he came over and said it again while looking into my eyes.  Then I said it back.

It’s incredible how a recipe can bring back some crazy strong memories.  Though we’re no longer dating, I wish him the best, and cherish the moments like that, when he was so supportive and enthusiastic about who I am and what I love.

Now, I’m not suggesting that these crepes are going to always inspire such reactions.  But the satisfaction of mastering a simple but elegant dish is infectious, and the joy of sitting down to brunch with someone you love and some good friends with a healthful, tasty meal is universally delightful, no?

I played with the flours a few more times before coming up with this one, which I’m particularly thrilled with. It’s perfect for a savory breakfast or dinner crepe, and has the delightful chew of a traditional French crepe while keeping light and flexible.  You can make them ahead of time (as I did with the filling for my breakfast today), or fill as you go and serve to a large crowd.

Teff flour is not one many are familiar with, but a gluten free powerhouse I highly recommend keeping on hand in the kitchen.  The grain is incredibly fine, and higher in protein and fiber than many other flours.  Because an incredible amount of the grain can be grown in a small space, it’s been fundamental in staving off famine in the countries of its origin.  It has a very slightly bitter taste to it, so I use it in savory recipes or those that call for strong flavors like molasses, chocolate or cinnamon.  I wouldn’t recommend using it as a main flour, but more as an accent (1/4 of a cup or so per cup of flour in a recipe).

In the crepes, it worked phenomenally.  They cooked smoothly and evenly, were strong enough to wrap without being at all tough, and gave some incredibly earthy flavor to the lighter veggies I filled them with.  After mastering a few steps, this entire process is incredibly easy.

Savory brunch crepes

Gluten-Free Teff Crepes

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 3 Tbsp butter or butter flavored Earth Balance, melted (or 3 Tbsp oil)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup Teff flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour

If making crepes for a sweet filling, add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 Tbsp sugar to the final step.

Method

In a blender, spin the eggs on low for about 30 seconds.  With the blending running continually, add milk, then stream in melted butter.  Stop the blender and add flour and salt.  Blend on high for about 1 minute so that the flours fully incorporate.  Pour into a 2-cup Pyrex liquid measuring cup or small pitcher.  If possible, let sit for 1-2 hours.  This helps the flour dissolve fully and brings all the ingredients to room temperature.

When ready to cook, have large skillet with an 8″ base, cooking spray, a small spatula for loosening the edges (I used a small icing spatula), a large turner and a large plate at the ready.

Place the skillet on medium/low heat.  When hot, spray lightly with cooking spray.  With one hand, hold the skillet completely off the heat.  While swirling the pan, pour about 3 Tbsp of batter on.  Continue swirling until it covers the base of the pan evenly (this takes some practice).  You want the crepe as thin as possible, but shouldn’t be able to see through to the base of the pan.

Cook until the edges just start to bubble and dry slightly.  Then use the small spatula to loosen the edges.  Until you get the hang of it, use the turner to flip the crepe.  I often just loosen the edges and then flip with my fingers.  Cook for about 30 seconds on the other side, until the crepe has lightened in color slightly but is by no means dry.  Remove to large plate.

Continue with remaining batter until you have 8 full cooked crepes.

Tips: Play with your heat levels. I find medium-low works best so that the batter doesn’t cook too quickly when I pour it on.  This way I can swirl until it’s evenly coated.  Also, don’t overcook the crepe: it will make the edges brittle and the body of the crepe too hard to fold.  Some use butter to grease the pan: I find it sometimes creates too much steam and liquid, so I prefer cooking spray.

Filling

I filled these with thinly sliced zucchini that had been sauteed in onions, garlic and lots of fresh rosemary, Brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil and Herbes de Provence, and raw, thinly sliced endives.  I then drizzled them with a very strong balsamic, sprinkled with fleur de sel and topped with some more endive, rosemary and a blot of goat yogurt.

I don’t often blog savory cooking recipes because I usually don’t cook with recipes, unless there’s a technique or specific dish I’m trying to make perfect.  But I will say that this combination worked splendidly because of the contrast in textures, flavors and temperatures.

Crepes are so versatile: fill em’ up!

Wishing you many first “I love you’s”, happy brunches with good friends, and a sweet, sweet life,

 

 

 

 

 

{gluten-free} Cranberry Walnut Scones

I love the holidays, and I love my friends and family.  I love my dog, and my apartment, and my city (NYC or bust, baby).  I love nights out with a good friend (hi Erin!) and long conversation over a bottle of red (why would he ever tell you those things? I’m still pondering).

I love waking up tired, sitting in front of a huge monitor working on sourcing and writing and recipe-ing, and pondering the big questions, such as “have I ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?”.

I love uploading photos on my computer and then unearthing one of something sweet.  That I baked a few weeks ago.  And drafted a blog post of.  And never finished.

Dusty Jacqueline, tricks are for kids.

I love making scones.  They’re incredibly quick to whip up for a family/friendy brunch as I learned from my dear friend Ruark’s father, Kevin.  He would make the biggest, fluffiest, sweetest looking scones that I would drool over as I watched them being eaten (he or Ruark or Ruark’s mom Chris would have also made me some incredible omelet or something so trust me I wasn’t playing a sad song on his sister’s violin or anything). 

Continue reading

Millet Coconut Breakfast Pudding

Millet Pudding

Mmm, sweet things for breakfast.  Definitely not the norm in my little kitchen: I’m usually a coddled eggs over avocado and greens kinda breakfast girl.  When I’m visiting my family I’ll whip up some gluten-free waffles (I have a thing for waffle makers – thanks Rae!).  With guests in town weekend brunch means French omelets, really good bacon and some sort of roasted veggies, maybe with a side of GF blueberry cornbread.

But when I got this month’s recipe from All-Day Singin’ and Dinner on the Ground for the Burwell General Store Recipe Swap, my mind immediately went to breakfast for some reason.  And from savory to sweet.

From All-Day Singin' and Dinner on the Ground

Not that I don’t love a good slaw.  In fact, it’s one of my favorite restaurant sides as (a) it contains in its original recipe nothing that I’m allergic to, (b) I love cabbage and (c) I’m usually missing something that comes with the main dish it’s paired with, so slaw makes my meal feel more authentic.

But I honestly just don’t have room for a big thing of coleslaw in my fridge and no one to eat it with this week.  It’s a busy one in Dusty Bakerland (which is a little northwest of Candyland and because you don’t get a sugar crash you never slide down, only climb up).

So, what to swap?  I’ve been cooking for friends and baking like crazy lately, and didn’t want to go back to the grocer’s for a fifth time this week for something new.  A little pantry combing and… millet.

I’m a big fan of this little grain.  It’s gluten-free, easy to digest and contains high levels of magnesium (amongst other things), so it’s good for people who suffer from asthma or anxiety or are watching their tickers.  It has a little more bite than quinoa if you toast it first and then cook it to an al dente sort of doneness, but will also mash well and make a smooth porridge if you’re nursing someone back to health.

I figured by making a millet breakfast pudding – similar to the coconut milk rice pudding recipe I love and haven’t posted yet – I could try out the quick stovetop custard technique in this recipe (I’d usually do it a bit differently).

Because I wanted to make this an only slightly sweet breakfast recipe, I stirred in only a tiny bit of maple syrup and threw in some cracked tricolored pepper and grains of paradise – I’m actually a huge fan of pepper in sweet dishes.  And once again it brought me closer to the swapped recipe.

And for some protein – stirred in some crushed walnuts.

Result?

This is the perfect breakfast pudding and an incredible alternative to oatmeal (in general I find millet easier to digest than oats).  You can easily vary sweetness to suit your taste and throw in whatever you have lying around – protein powder, some chopped dates or prunes, raisins, almond butter… your pantry’s the limit.

If you make it sweeter and stick it in the fridge, you’ve got a delish alternative to dairy-free rice pudding.

But right now I’m gonna grab this glass and go eat my breakfast in bed.

Please check out Burwell General Store for info on the swap and see what other awesome bloggers have created at their links below.

Happy Sunday.

Recipe.  Swapped.

Sweet, creamy, filling, warm... breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter or oil
  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup (honey works too)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp rockin awesome cinnamon (I should do a post about my cinnamon obsession soon)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (grab a microplane and jar of nutmegs, you won’t be disappointed)
  • 4 grinds of a pepper grinder
  • 8 grinds of a grains of paradise grinder (about 1/8 tsp)
  • Nuts and dried fruits to taste
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  • In a large heavy pot, melt butter or bring oil up to heat.
  • Add millet and stir to combine.  Cook until toasty and just starting to brown.
  • Meanwhile, in a small pot with a tight lid bring 2 cups of water up to boil.
  • When toasty, transfer millet to boiling water, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes until done – this should be about 5 minutes after you no longer see any water bubbling.
  • Meanwhile, put coconut milk, beaten eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and spices into the now empty pot and set it over low heat.
  • Whisk all ingredients together fully.
  • As the mixture heats, whisk constantly until it forms a light custard.  Once the millet is done cooking you can bring the heat up on the milk mixture a bit – just make sure to whisk constantly so that the egg doesn’t curdle as it cooks.
  • Add cooked millet to coconut custard mixture and mix to combine.
  • Toss in any added extras, jump into bed with a good book and maybe hum a song or two.

Please click on this cute little blue frog to see what the other swappers have created and get their recipes!

Easy Cobbler Bread Pudding – Gluten, Dairy and White-Sugar Free!

 

Easy Cobbler Bread Pudding

Life is delicious.  As a gluten-freer, I sometimes miss bread-heavy meals and spongy caked desserts.  I equally miss Belgian waffle breakfasts and stuffed French toast.

So last night when I got home from listening to some stellar bluegrass (high-fives to the Six Deadly Venoms) I decided to make myself the best of both for breakfast: bread pudding.  Gluten-free.  Dairy-free.  Easy to throw together.  With no white sugar (I rarely consume it). And celebrating end-of-the-summer fruits.  A toss between cobbler, baked pancakes (I’m obsessed) and bread pudding.

Success, people, success.

This recipe is an insane journey of color, texture and flavor.  I used ripe blueberries and summer peaches along with dried apricots to give the fruit some va-va-voom.  The gluten-free bread base was soaked overnight in eggs, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon extract, hazelnut extract and just enough honey and maple syrup to sweeten the load slightly. And topped with slivered almonds, the texture was smooth with a tiny crunch.

The next day I quickly boiled some fruit, threw it together and baked it for 45 minutes.

You  can alter the recipe by doing what I did – playing with what you have in your pantry and adjusting to your allergy needs.  Omit the nuts completely if you want!  Add some fresh lemon zest (though I highly recommend having lemon oil on hand for recipes like this – it’s the Italian and Portuguese baker in me).  Play with extracts and spices to your heart’s content.  As long as you have the same basic proportions, you’ve got this delectable fruity, bready piece of heaven in the bag.

If you’ve got problems with sugar, though, I will confess that I’m a bit shaky as I’m typing this, having eaten my serving.  But I also just drank an entire pot of green tea.  So it’s anyone’s guess.

As a hearty breakfast this recipe will serve four.  But top it with your choice of ice cream after a long meal and it’ll satiate six.

If you’re going to put it into wine glasses like I did, make sure it’s cool, people.  Live and learn, right?

Chock full o fruity, bready, nutty goodness.

Ingredients:

  • Six slices of gluten-free bread at room temperature.
  • 4 large eggs.
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk.
  • Honey, maple syrup or both to make 1/4 cup.
  • 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract.
  • 1/4 tsp hazelnut extract (or almond).
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used slivered almonds).
  • 3 small peaches or plums.
  • 1 pint blueberries.
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried fruit (I used apricots).
  • 1 tsp fresh, chopped mint.

Directions:

  • Place bread in a square Pyrex pan, 8″ or 9″, overlapping bread as best as possible.
  • In a small bowl, beat all the ingredients from the eggs to the extracts, in that order, whisking continually.
  • Pour over the bread and flip bread so that all is soaked in egg mixture.
  • Leave overnight to absorb.
  • When ready to assemble and bake, preheat oven to 350°.
  • Rinse, peel, pit and dice the fruit.  Place in a small pot over medium heat and heat until the blueberries burst and the fruits soften.
  • Stir in the dried fruit and mint, and pour over bread mixture.
  • Bake for 45 minutes until the bread rises and the fruit starts to bubble.

Warm and bubbly and gorgeous.

Gluten-Free Ebelskivers

Gluten-free Ebelskivers!

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

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

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

Round and fluffy and delicious

 

The Platine Bleue Hen Egg Series

Platine Bleue Hen Eggs

I’m out of town, rehearsing a show in the gorgeous Hamptons, and staying with my director in her… well, let’s just say the house I’m staying in is quite, perfect, in my opinion.  Her and her partner grow almost all of their own vegetables, they live on the bay (so I see water outside my window!) and they COOK for me!! As my boyfriend and roommate don’t really cook (cough), this is a luxury.  Fresh salads of garden spinach, asparagus, vegetable soups… all that AND I’m staying in a en suite attic that Louisa May Alcott would have found much inspiration in.

That said, I don’t quite have a kitchen or my equipment to do much cooking in at the moment, other than the one day a week I run home for a visit.  So there hasn’t been much posting since I’ve started here.

But one of the things I love about doing shows outside of New York City is exploring new areas… and new areas of FOOD!  So browsing through the local health supermarket the other day I found a container of Pete and Gerry’s Platine Bleue Hen Eggs and immediately rushed back to show them off.

Eggs of various blue tones

From Pete and Gerry’s: The indigenous Mapuche people of South America have produced blue eggs since the mid-sixteenth century. Their Araucana chickens developed fully feathered faces as insulation against Patagonia’s frigid winters.

Our cage-free Ameraucana hens are derived from these chickens and now considered a distinct breed. They have slate-colored legs and colorful plumage. Their beautiful, pastel blue eggs have deep yellow yolks and very rich flavor.

Pastel blue inside of the eggs

The eggs vary in tone – some are striking on the outside, some a pale slate color.  The inside of all eggs is a smooth, vibrant pastel blue, which reflects light in quite a magical way.  None of the pictures in this post are altered – this is how the morning light hit them.

To fully experience the allegedly deep and rich yolks, I cooked one over low heat in an ungreased skillet and then boiled the rest, making sure to only let them simmer and sit in hot water until just cooked, then ran them under cold water to stop the process and help the egg pull from the shell.

Incredibly vibrant egg yolk

The word in the hen house spoke truly – look at that yolk!!  So powerful even the “white” around it had no choice but to take some in!  These eggs seem to have a bit more protein than normal hen eggs, and I would challenge anyone to a duel were they to suggest separating these eggs and only eating the whites.The boiled eggs produced the same incredible colors – the yolk practically dousing sunshine.  They also took up a great deal more room of the actual egg – I imagine they would make a stunning frittata or quiche.

Breakfast of Platine Bleue Hen Eggs

But how do these beauties taste?  The yolk, my housemate Jess and I noticed, was so creamy and soft, almost buttery in flavor and quite indulgent.  The white was crisp and clean – the perfect canvas to showcase the yolk.

Dusty conclusion?  Don’t try to show up the simple delicacy of these Platine Bleue eggs by doing too much to them.  Yes, they probably make a killer creme brulee.  But cooked simply and perfectly, seasoned with a tiny bit of sea salt and a side of fresh veggies – there is little more I’d ask for in a breakfast.

A perfect, Dusty breakfast

Insanely Healthy Sweet Potato Flax Muffins

Insanely yummy, healthy Sweet Potato Flax Muffins

Yesterday morning I awoke to Autumn, not Spring, dripping its way down my New York City windows.  It was chilly, much more so than I’d want for a May morning. And though I had very little time to get a bunch of stuff done before yet another commute east for rehearsal, I found myself craving something grainy and warm.

And luckily there’s always time for… muffins!I love making muffins because of how easy and versatile they are.  I obviously wasn’t going to go out to get any ingredients, and I didn’t have an apples or rotting bananas on hand.  So I scoured my pantry and found an old can of sweet potato puree left over from my waffle experimentation.

Voila!  Naturally gluten-free, these muffins are chock full of fiber with flax seed meal, have a little boost of protein with quinoa flour and contain no processed white sugar.  You can also easily make them dairy free (directions below).  They’re moist and dense, but not very sweet.  Because of this you can toast one up for breakfast or serve as a dinner “roll”.  If you need them sweeter, I suggest slathering with some jam or dunking in maple syrup or honey.  Butter is also delightful… mmmmmmm…

Yields 12 insanely delicious muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flax meal (not flax seeds)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot or potato starch
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup sweet potato puree
  • 4 Tbsp butter or Earth Balance, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, soy or cow’s milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Line 12 muffin tins with liners or spray with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients until thoroughly incorporated.
  • In a smaller bowl, mix eggs, sweet potato puree, maple syrup, butter and milk thoroughly until smooth.
  • Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just incorporated and a bit lumpy.
  • Fill evenly into tins and smooth with a spoon.
  • Bake for 22-25 minutes or until slightly browned on top.

Yields 12 muffins.

For nutritional info please go to this recipe on CookEatShare.

Yummy, moist and slightly sweet Sweet Potato Flax Muffins

Recipe is loosely based on one by Michelle at TasteAsYouGo.  Please support her blog!

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