Breakfast

Lemon Scones with Genmaicha Green Tea

Lemon Scones with Genmaicha Green Tea Glaze

Years ago a dear friend in college introduced me to Japanese pearl jasmine tea, and we’d sit in her basement apartment drinking out of delicate cups that released an aroma I had never imagined could exist so closely available at my fingertips.  Over the next few years I started tasting and buying tea like some people buy wine.  I justified the expense because of how healthy this habit is: teas have been shown to provide and help in the absorption of antioxidants, as well as fight certain cancers, reduce blood pressure and help to regulate blood sugar.  And when you’ve been living with a chronic illness, healthy habits are what keep your worst symptoms in remission year after year.

I try, in humble thanks, to use my health in small ways to contribute to the healing of others.  So I jumped on this Online Bake Sale to Help Japan as soon as I got the tweet.  Driving back into NYC yesterday, on a miraculously empty highway, I looked down the Hudson River at the George Washington Bridge a few blocks from my apartment, and was so thankful.  As recent environmental and political events continue to show us, many of our current blessings can be taken away from us in mere minutes.

So my contribution to this online bake sale is inspired by those who have been displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threat in Japan, and the tea that has, over the years, contributed to my health. Continue reading

Nutty Irishman St. Pat’s Pancakes

Nutty Irishman Gluten-Free Pancakes

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I have a pancake addiction.  And possibly an addiction to St. Patrick’s Day too.  I’ve blogged about my uncontainable love for Blueberry Lemon Pancakes and have already made allergy-friendly Soda Bread and Irish Cream Carob Cupcakes, though it’s only a few days into March.

Yesterday morning, though, I just didn’t have time to make pancakes and blog the recipe.  I had an audition and five articles to write, for Pete’s sake!  No time for delicious food and playing when there’s work to be done, right?

Yeah, you guessed it.  I went into the kitchen.  I just had to try out the first go of my new creation, Nutty Irishman St. Pat’s Pancakes.  I mean, a girl’s gotta eat breakfast, right?  And I had laundry down in the basement so my eye had to keep on a clock.  What’s an extra half hour in the kitchen when there’s creation to be had, right?

Addiction.  But I know many of you out there are addicted too.  As evident by your confessions on the last pancake addiction post.  Yes, I think this support group should happen somewhere.  In fact, I just bought AddictedToPancakes.Com.  Message me if you want to be made an author and contribute a recipe, or just divulge a food addiction.  This could be fun.

Anyhoo, in the spirit both of St. Patrick’s Day and Pancake Addiction (which would make a good band name, no?), I’ve made these.  Dessert for breakfast.  A coffee drink in a pancake.  Somehow I captured a bit of the delicious after-dinner drink, though I used no whiskey (sniff).  I ate a bunch.

Now, notes:  These are not that sweet.  I used 4 Tbsp of sucanat to make the cocoa a bit fuller, but these do not taste like a brownie, cake or even chocolate muffin.  They are definitely pancakes.  If you want a sweeter treat, throw more sugar in there.  And if you don’t mind a little alcohol in the morning, throw a shot or two in.  Or soak your hazelnuts in whiskey for a while and then leave them out to dry / toast them.  Yum.  I’m gonna try that next time.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee or espresso
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (or hazelnut if you can find it… I couldn’t… sniff…)
  • 1/2 cup fine unsweetened cocoa (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 4Tbsp sugar (I used sucanat)
  • 2 cups gluten-free pancake mix (Bob’s Red Mill or I used equal parts tapioca, oat, white rice and sorhgum this morning)
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum (if NOT using a premixed pancake mix)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • salt
  • 2 eggs

Directions

Now I did this in a blender, because I was anticipating making it at my boyfriend’s apartment or my dad’s house, and they both have those and not other methods of equipment.  You could also do this in a bowl on a standing mixer or with a hand mixer.  The blender method was affective and did make pouring the pancakes easier, but I did get mix all over my white kitchen cabinets.  It was funny.

  • In a saucepan combine melt butter.  Then add coffee and milk and heat on low until warmed.
  • Whisk in the cocoa until combined completely.
  • Pour in liquid measuring cup and set aside to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together remaining dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt).
  • In a large bowl or blender, beat eggs until a tiny bit frothy.  Then slowly add the liquid ingredients (retain about 1/4 cup) and beat to combine.  Add the dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated.
  • If the batter is a bit too thick, add remaining wet mixture.
  • Let stand while you heat your cooking instrument (I used a griddle that covered two burners).
  • Now, these will brown more easily than other pancakes, so I recommend heating the surface well and then turning down the heat and letting it cool a tad.
  • Bake on both sides until fluffy.  This made me 14 small pancakes.

Nutty Irishman Pancake Addiction

Tapioca and Buckwheat Gluten-and-Dairy Free Crepe Batter

 

Savory Breakfast Crepes

Yesterday I woke and immediately started daydreaming about Sunday breakfast.   With all the writing and social networking that goes with my job(s), sometimes I just get cranky for time IN the actual kitchen.

Crepes.  I don’t know why, but I started daydreaming about crepes.  Filled with eggs and goat cheese and something bright colored to remind me what spring looked like.  Luckily I was only a few blocks from Whole Foods, where a bunch of gorgeous little tomatoes from Mexico found their way into my basket, along with some fresh cilantro and small Mexican champagne mangoes.  The sun was out, the air was warm, I walked home with my jacket unbuttoned and my raggedy hair blowing in the wind.  New Yorkers had a bit more of a spring to their step, and I didn’t realize at the time how this quick break from the cold would make smiles turn up a bit more on most of the lovely people I’d encounter in my day.

Anyway, back in the kitchen.  I had decided on using a little buckwheat – which is common in some crepe recipes but used sparingly as it can be a bit bitter – and tapioca flour to pull along with the eggs and soymilk I was using for the crepe batter.  A tiny bit of butter and salt, and that’s it!  I utilized the whipping strength of a blender and the ease of a non-stick skillet to aid in making sure that the eggs would be beaten light and fluffy and the crepes easy to flip.  When the first one actually WORKED I called my boyfriend to the stove, giddy like a school-child out the first day of holiday.  We delighted in a few seconds of cheery contentment, flipping gluten-and-dairy-free crepes onto a waiting pan while eggs slow-cooked nearby.

This recipe is quite simple, and quick, and with a little practice I soon had a stack of warm crepes that I filled with sauteed eggs and served with a guacamole-type mix and the freshly sliced champagne mangoes.

It was a good, good, good day.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup soy or unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp melted butter or olive oil

Directions

Whip eggs and milk of choice in blender until creamy and a bit fluffy (if you don’t have a blender you can use a standing or hand mixer, or just whip the heck out of them with a whisk).  Add the flours 1/3 a cup at a time, whipping thoroughly with each addition.  Add the melted butter or oil and salt and whip quickly to incorporate.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Hold skillet away from heat and let cool for 5 seconds, then pour enough batter in the center of the skillet, swirling quickly to cover the entire surface, until the bottom of the skillet is just covered with batter.  Return to heat and cook for 15-20 seconds or until the sides of the crepe start to curl.  Flip gently and cook on the other side another 20 seconds.  Remove to plate.  Repeat until you get a pretty stack of crepes!

Before I started cooking the crepes I had a second skillet going on low heat with melted butter, slowly stirred eggs, fresh cilantro, soft goat cheese and the skins of these tomatoes:

I then reserved the insides of them and mashed them with avocado, more cilantro, a squirt of fresh lemon juice (in the absence of lime) and some sea salt and pepper.  And then adorned the dish with the fresh champagne mangoes.  They’re a little tarter, firmer and less fibrous than regular mangoes.

While the tomatoes weren’t quite what I wanted (beautiful in color but still lacking that perfect summer tomato sweetness), it was a gorgeous dish, paired with orange juice and locally roasted coffee.  The perfect start to one of the best Sundays I’ve had in a long while.

 

Creamy egg-filled crepes with champagne mangoes, avocado and Mexican tomatoes

Gluten and Dairy-Free Irish Soda Bread

Back-story to this recipe: In a few weeks I’ll be hosting my annual St. Patrick’s Day party.  It started several years ago, when my boyfriend-at-the-time-now-best-friend moved in with me in Queens.  He’s from an Irish family (Ruark Michael Downey – you don’t get more Irish than that!) and I’d been to Ireland several times at that point.  What naturally followed was a succession of parties where we’d bring in a keg of Guinness, bottles of whiskey and Irish cream, and I’d make a full boiled dinner.  The second year I made lamb stew and corned beef and cabbage.  Subsequent years brought us to the point where we were making 9 corned beefs and I was whipping up car-bomb cupcakes by the several dozen.  We needed nothing more than good food, good booze and the company of our lovely friends.

This year I’m doing a bit of experimenting with gluten-and-dairy-free recipes to include with the traditional ones I’ll be presenting.  For this  I found the most traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe I could find, having discarded anything fancy and landing on one with thorough directions and a bit of history.

So, the Irish are famous for soda bread for two reasons: the abundance of soft wheat with a lower gluten content and the availability of fuel for home fires and therefore the ability to bake bread at whim.  Simple ingredients (flour, milk, salt and baking soda) create a quick bread that’s delicious with a bowl of thick stew or layered around cold meat.  Since you don’t want the gluten to develop (as you would with a harder wheat and yeast combo), this makes this bread perfect for a gluten-free version.  I tried to approximate the taste of flour I remember from my glutenous soda-bread days, so threw in some oat and quinoa flour with the bulky rice flour and starches.  And I soured unsweetened almond milk, hoping that the vinegar would produce the proper chemical reaction with the baking soda.

The result?  This bread is delicious!  Deceptively sweet, especially as it contains NO SUGAR.  And popping warm, it’s perfect with a touch of Irish butter.  I gave some to my friend Lynn and her boyfriend Griff, who’s from Ireland.  His response: “this is a very close approximation of the bread of my people”.  They gobbled them up.

For this go around I made 8 mini loafs from the recipe to cut down the baking time dramatically.  For St. Pat’s I’ll be making two full loaves along with a wheat-flour version.  I have a feeling the recipe is equally successful either way.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free whole-grain oat flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour / starch
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (optional – I did not use)
  • 8-10 oz buttermilk or soured milk of choice at room temperature (directions below)
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 45o degrees.  It should be fully preheated and nice and hot before you put the bread in.
  • Lightly flour a heavy baking sheet with gluten-free flour.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, sugar and baking soda.  Gather and sift again, so that the baking soda is fully dispersed.  Make a well in the center.
  • If using regular milk or milk alternative: measure one Tbsp white or red wine vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup.  Add enough milk to make 10 oz.  Use a fork to mix thoroughly.
  • Slowly pour about 8 oz of the milk into the well of flour, and quickly start blending with fork until it starts to pull together.  The mixture should be rather lumpy and on the drier side, but pulled together.  Add currants and fold in gently.  If too dry, add remaining milk until mixture pulls together.
  • Turn onto a slightly floured board and knead just until the dough is one, about 15 seconds / 6 kneads.  Don’t over knead.
  • Break dough into 8 balls, and press into slightly flat disks.  Using a sharp knife, cut a cross in each loaf about 1/3 into the dough.
  • Place in hot oven and bake 13 minutes, or until the tops are slightly brown.  If you tap on the bottom of  a loaf, it should sound hollow.  The dough in the center should be slightly soft though.
  • Cool before eating or enjoy warm with melted butter.

One-loaf Option: Shape into one loaf, slice the cross in, and bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then decrease heat to 400 degrees and bake for 25 minutes longer or until crisp on top and sounding hollow with a tap on the bottom.

Note: This recipe is dedicated to my lovely roommate, Erika.  She’s been working so much lately that she hasn’t been able to (in her opinion) contribute to the upkeep of our generally clean apartment.  So she paid someone to come in and wash and scrub everything, and we lounged in our immaculate living room, catching up.  And less than an hour later, I was in the kitchen… and it got a bit dusty.

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Oh.  My.  Dog.

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes.

Nothing remarkable in this combination.  Nothing remarkable in any of the FOUR types of pancakes I’ve baked and eaten this week.  Except that these are, in themselves, remarkable.  As remarkable as the last three.  So remarkable that I HAD to take pictures and write about them.   So remarkable that as I chew I’m already thinking of what other combinations of fruit and cake I can make for breakfast.

And as I tear into another piece, I realize that this sensory satisfaction has gone over the borderline.

I am a pancake junky.

I will not deny it.  At my best my body can tolerate most grains in unlimited quantity, so much so that I can even splurge on a wheaten food now and then and not suffer greatly.  At my worst, a grain as gentle as quinoa feels like a freight train careening through my digestive tract.  For years I would never dare to combine grains with fruit, because of the competing digestive enzymes (a practice I still keep as much as possible).  And for much of my childhood, ingredients and awareness of tasty alternatives to gluten and dairy were just not around.  So now I’m reveling in this treat that was absent in my life for so long.

I know, an addict can justify anything.  And I’m not so self-focused that I’m unaware of the difference between being addicted to a relatively-healthy baked good and, say, heroine (ask me about coming down off of 10-months of 24-hour constant doctor-prescribed opioids – now that wasn’t fun).

So instead of groveling in guilt and thinking about having, say, eggs and spinach for breakfast tomorrow, I’m just gonna come to terms with my adoration and spell out this easy, gluten-free, dairy-free source of this moment’s joy for all you fellow junkies out there.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour or gluten-free pancake mix
  • IF NOT USING PANCAKE MIX add 1/4 cup tapioca starch and 1 tsp xantham gum
  • the zest of one lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened milk – I used soy but almond or cow’s works too
  • 1 Tbsp butter or Earth Balance, melted and cooled
  • at least 1 cup blueberries

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in order listed except blueberries, mixing thoroughly with spatula.  The mixture should be just slightly smooth, enough that it doesn’t run but slides a bit off the spatula.  If too dry, add a few tablespoons more milk.
  • If possible, let mixture sit for at least 1/2 hour (I did for an hour, which was perfect)
  • Fold in blueberries, about 1 cup or more to taste
  • Heat a non-stick, stainless steel or cast iron pan to a medium heat and spray with nonstick spray
  • Drop about 2 soup-spoons worth of batter for each pancake, enough to make it about 3″ across
  • Cook until the pancake puffs and the underside is brown, flip and cook till brown.
  • Serve with fresh blueberries and real Maple Syrup.

I told you it was easy.  Nothing complicated or out of the ordinary.  But the lemon packs a huge punch and large, ripe blueberries provide enough sweetness that I only used a tiny bit of maple syrup.  Oh.  My.  Dog.

Baked Blackberry Lemon Crisp Pancake

Baked Blackberry and Lemon Crisp Pancake

Last week I posted a recipe on Baked Blackberry and Lemon Pancakes along with a little story about the adorable girls who inspired it.  I thought the pancakes were scrumptious – and considering I ate the entire batch myself over three days, I hope you can trust me on that.

But I wanted a richer lemon taste and an even easier process.  So today, at my father’s house in CT where I don’t quite have my baking arsenal on me, I took on this quest.  And I think I conquered.

The challenge: no alternative sugars, so in this case I did use white sugar – it’s all I had – but there’s still only a trivial amount.  Also, my dad doesn’t have a saucepan that can go from stove to oven, so I opted for a Pyrex baking dish.

I increased the amount of lemon dramatically and added the zest of the lemon itself.  18 minutes in a 400 degree oven and it was good to go – and a triumph!

From the first bite to the last, you get an undercurrent of tangy lemon and the sweetness of blackberries amidst a cornmeal-like pancake.  The drizzled lemon and sugar gives the top a sweet and crunchy crust.  A tiny drizzle of pure maple syrup and you’re good to go with a treat perfect for a Sunday family breakfast or a brunch with your lucky sweetheart.

Prepare:

  • Rinse and dry 1 1/5 cups of blackberries.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degree F.
  • Spray an 8 X 11.5 inch baking pan (I used Pyrex) with non-stick pray or melted butter

In a large bowl mix together:

  • 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free pancake mix
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp sugar of choice

Whisk together in a small bowl:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (I used the juice of the zested lemon and then filled to complete)
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup milk – I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Mix in a very small bowl:

  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp choice of sugar

Incorporate and bake:

  • Slowly pour the egg/milk mixture into the dry and stir with a spatula to incorporate.
  • Fold in blackberries.
  • Spread batter into pan evenly with spatula, making sure blackberries are dispersed evenly.
  • Bake for 5 minutes.  Then drizzle the lemon/sugar mixture on the top of the pancake and use a knife to swirl into the batter.
  • Bake for another 13 minutes or until the top of the pancake is slightly browned.

This recipe makes enough for 4 people as a main plate or 6 as an partner for eggs or omelets.

Baked Blackberry and Lemon Pancake

Ginger Ann

This recipe is inspired by my very dear friend Amie, an amazing mom to two very young daughters that I love to death and sometimes get to have dance parties with, decked out in tutus and tiaras, in their living room.  One of Amie’s many impressive breakfast creations is a baked apple pancake.  While I’ve never tasted it myself (gluten and dairy), it looks amazing, and the girls gobble it up.

Lucy Jane

By the way, I dare you to tell me that these aren’t two of the most precious children you’ve ever seen.  And, come on, Ginger Ann and Lucy Jane?!?!  They slay me.  Though I hope Amie won’t for my putting a picture up with Ginger’s face covered in food.  And I think about two minutes after the picture of Lucy I couldn’t save her beautiful sweater from the hot chocolate I ordered her.  But Ginger looks awesome in those Yoko Ono sunglasses, no?  I digress.

Anyway, Amie gave me her basic process for this pancake, and I locked it away to make for myself when the time was right.  This morning, the time was right.

I decided to use Bob’s Red Mill Pancake Mix as the basis for the pancake so I can make these at my parents’ or boyfriend’s homes – which are the places I usually make such decadent things for breakfast.  And while baked apple pancakes are divine, I wanted to work into the recipes the berries that are actually delightfully sweet right now (thank you, product of Mexico) with the tartness of organic lemon juice and the sweetness of xylitol.

A note on xylitol. I try to use sweeteners as little as possible when I bake which, I know, is blasphemous in most kitchens.  When I do, I usually try to keep it to maple syrup, which has all the glorious nutrients of the trees it came from.  But because I wanted to blend some sweetness in without the caramel flavor of maple syrup, I used xylitol.  My doctor recommends this as a sweetener and, yes, I do always listen to what he says because he’s the genius that got me healthy again.

What is xylitol? It’s a natural sweetener that has 30% less calories, 75% less carbohydrates and causes relatively little change in insulin levels, so it’s safer for those with diabeties and hypoglycemia.  It’s also great for teeth (in some toothpaste) and aids digestion.  And it’s just as sweet as white sugar, with only a slightly larger grain, so it’s easy to use in baking.  It can be found, affordably, at most natural health markets.

Now, to the recipe!

If you think this is not the best picture, I agree. Leave a comment encouraging my photographer boyfriend to step in more - or I'm afraid more of these are coming

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups rinsed blackberries
  • 3 Tbsp xylitol (or sweetener of choice), separated
  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Pancake Mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or soy, cow, rice etc.)
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp starch (I used tapioca, but you could use corn or potato)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with a rack in the middle.
  • Toss blackberries with 2 Tbsp sweetener or sugar in a bowl and let sit.
  • Combine the pancake flour, eggs, baking powder, milk and 2 Tbsp lemon juice in a separate bowl.  Whisk thoroughly to combine, incorporating as much air as possible.
  • Melt 2 tbsp butter in saucepan on medium heat.  When melted, be sure to make sure all surfaces of the pan are coated.
  • Quickly toss the blackberries in the butter, and spread out evenly in pan.
  • Pour on the pancake batter, smoothing over until the blackberries are completely covered, and put pan (without a lid) into preheated oven.
  • Meanwhile, in a (very) small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp xylitol (or sweetener of choice) and 1 tsp starch.  Blend thoroughly with a fork.
  • When the pancake has been baking for about 5 minutes, make a few slices in the top, pour on the lemon mixture, and return to oven.
  • Continue baking for another 15 minutes or until slightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes before running a metal spatula around the sides of the pan.

The Dusty Baker’s Notes:

Now, I used a 3.5 quart stainless-steel Cuisinart saute pan that could go easily from the stove to the oven.  Other amazing options would be a cast iron skillet (yay!) or a Pyrex dish.  If using Pyrex, simply melt the butter and pour it into coat.

To present the pancake, I recommend NOT flipping it to expose the blackberry top.  There are a lot of delicious berries in this recipe, but because of the thickness of the berries, it’s not gonna be the most beautiful thing you’ve seen from that angle.  Rather, I’d cut slices and present with the browned top exposed.  You could also sprinkle the top with your sugar of choice after adding the lemon drizzle for a prettier finish.

This pancake was deliciously sweet to me – not too much that it tasted like a dessert, but enough that I actually didn’t use syrup with it.  The sweet blackberries in a light and neutral pancake compliment each other well, along with the tang of lemon.  To pump it up a notch, I’d using the zest of an entire lemon in the pancake batter (this was a step I had completely forgotten I wanted to include that I’ll definitely try when I make this again this weekend).

Buck Up with Buckwheat!

It’s cold in New York City.  I sit at the computer, writing away at articles for my job, gobbling hot tea constantly.  And as I puttered around the kitchen this morning, I realized my normal breakfast of eggs and veggies wasn’t gonna cut it. I need something warm, filling and slightly sweet.

Enter BUCKWHEAT.

buckwheat kernals

This gluten-free grain is often overlooked when compared with its massively produced cousin, Oatmeal, but it’s now readily available in health food stores large and small.  It’s not actually a grain, but a seed somewhat related to rhubarb.  It cooks very similarly to oatmeal, though, is as deliciously versatile and is wonderfully filling on mornings when there’s a lot of day to face.  It’s completely gluten-free and a very healthy-happy food.

Healthy-Happy Buckwheat!

  • Completely gluten-free as it’s a seed, so it’s digestible for those with celiac and gluten sensitivities
  • Contains a very high level of magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and therefore contributes to healthy blood flow and is good for the heart
  • Lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol (that’s a good thing…)
  • Helps lower and regulate blood-sugar levels by containing chiro-inositol.  Researchers are not sure why this does what it does quite yet, but in humans and animals alike, whole grains containing this compound lowered blood-sugar levels by 12-19% when compared with those given a placebo (check it out at WHFoods)
  • Generally high in antioxidants, so is generally an on-your-side superfood

Let’s Cook It!

Some cook buckwheat as an alternative to rice.  I prefer it as a porridge, all gooey and slightly sweet.  Below is my recipe for a coconut-buckwheat cereal.  Alternatives would be to cook with water or an animal milk, then add any variety of vanilla extract, cinnamon, dried or fresh fruits, carob powder, fresh nutmeg, chai… the list goes on.  I prefer coconut milk on some mornings because it makes the porridge thicker and naturally sweet and creamy.  I pressure cook my morning grains normally, as it adds to the digestion ease and also makes the grains that much more moist and fluffy.  Toasting them for a few minutes on dry heat before adding the liquid increases their digestibility.  Directions for pressure-cooking and stove top cooking are below.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of buckwheat
  • 2 cups of liquid – I used a can of light coconut milk and then topped off the rest with water
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (per serving)
  • dried cranberries, golden raisins or blueberries (preferably sugar and nitrate-free)
  • raw or toasted nuts (I used pecans, but hazelnuts or almonds would also be delightful)

Directions:

  1. Pressure Cook Grains: Add grains and liquid into a pressure cooker, bring up to full heat (you’ll know because it’ll be sizzling away, making lots of noise and releasing some steam), cook for 12 minutes, then turn off the heat and let pressure release naturally.
  2. Stove-top Cooking Grains:  Toast the grains in a dry pot on medium heat, stirring continually, until they become nutty and fragrant.  Add the liquid, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.   Cook about 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Serve with 1 tsp of maple syrup per serving, and a small handful of raw nuts and dried fruit.

Note: Adding a non-animal protein such as nut-butter or eggs is a great way to make this breakfast a perfect protein and aid digestion.  I actually rarely do such heavy grains first thing in the morning as I can’t digest nuts well in the early day, but as a sweet-treat and with some extra digestive boosting supplements, it’s a great way to face the rain.

How to make this a dessert? Simmer about 2 1/2 cups coconut milk on the stove, adding 4 tablespoons maple syrup, 2+ teaspoons each of vanilla extract and cinnamon and, if you want to live dangerously, a little dark rum.  Add grains and cook on low until thick and sweet.  Whip a whole egg and add in just before the grains are fully cooked, stirring thoroughly.  Taste and add seasonings to your preference.  Remove to a wide pan and refrigerate until cold.  Sprinkle with cinnamon, raisins and (if desired) a little more agave.

Gluten-Dairy-Free Maple Vanilla Scones

In her memoire “My Life In France”, Julia Child shares a little tidbit where she served something barely edible to a luncheon guest, then smiled as they ate it, never once apologizing for her botched experiment.

I think about that a lot, on days like today.

Not that this experiment was botched – in fact, I’m rather pleased with the results and will have no problem serving them with breakfast to my roommate and boyfriend tomorrow morning.  Today was just example of how maybe sometimes I need to be a little more organized in my playpen and a little less… um… dusty. Continue reading

1-2-3 Gluten-Free Baking Mixes

Occasionally, very occasionally, I indulge myself in a boxed mix of something gluten-free.  One night during a run of a play in Cincinnati I was CRAVING something sweet and stuck in the theatre all day without so much as applesauce to appease the pangs.  Later that night during my 11pm run to the grocery store, a box of 1-2-3 Gluten Free “Pan Bars” just happened to end up in my cart… oops!

The next morning, before another two-show day, I whipped the mix together with a few eggs and oil, and the 3/4 a cup of pumpkin that the box recommended.  Not to succumb completely to a packaged product, I spiced it up à la Dusty Baker with some cinnamon and freshly grated ginger.  Spread into a 9×11 pan, popped into the oven for a half hour, cooled for another half, sliced and covered and it was on its way to hungry actors and stage crew.

Now a good amount of actors are foodies – I’ve never met such a quantity of people through a profession who share my obsession with Saveur magazine and who sympathize with my insane desire to own my own chickens enough to send me email links to urban  “hen houses” (I WILL have my own eggs from the happy hens who live on my roof in my future apartment in New York City… that I will own…near my Dusty Bakery).

So I decided to see if there would be any adverse reaction to NOT telling people that they were gluten-free.  I set the pan out, headed to my little dressing room and waited.  Voices inquired about what they were, cursed me for bringing in another baked goods (actors are obviously always watching their waistline – which is why most things I bring in are relatively healthy anyway!), and then hailed them for their deliciousness!

And when I tried them, I wholeheartedly agreed!  They were moist, light and fluffy.   And one particular friend, who had said he wasn’t interested in any way in trying something gluten-free, declared them delicious and stuck to his opinion after I unveiled my bit of trickery. Score for the gluten-free-ers!

I was also thrilled to tell the group that the boxed flour was delightfully simple – which is why I gave in and bought it to begin with (most boxed mixes have WAY too much stuff in them for me).

Ingredients in the mix:

Sugar
Rice Flour
Tapioca Flour
Potato Starch
Aluminum-free, corn-free baking powder
Salt
Xanthan Gum

So the only things I would have changed if making this from scratch myself was the white sugar and the potato starch (I would have experimented with tapioca starch or arrowroot to exclude any trace of nightshade vegetable).  And the ingredients are free from gluten, wheat, dairy, casein, peanut, tree nut, corn, egg and soy!  The recipe could easily be made with applesauce, carrot or zucchini instead of pumpkin, and chickpeas instead of eggs to make egg-free (there’s a recipe for this on the inside of the box).

So, needless to say, I am VERY supportive of this brand from my one experience.  The blend doesn’t contain too much sugar or additives, and produces a light and fluffy cake.  I was extra excited to learn that this company hails out of Cleveland – only a few hours from where I’m typing right now!

Thanks, Kimberlee, for this wonderful product!

Visit 1-2-3 Gluten Free

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