Dessert

Gluten-Free Tough Mudder Cookies! (Chocolate Chip, Coffee, Pretzel Walnut!)

Tough Mudder Cookies

I have a friend. On here I’m going to call her EM. She’ll know why.

I met EM at a production of The Fantastiks in Cincinnati, where I was finishing up my season performing at the Playhouse. She was playing the Girl, and I was understudying the mute and the fool, which probably paints a clear picture about my singing skills and odd range of casting.

There we became friendly, but back in New York we became friends. She is a dear, dear woman with a southern heart and northern ability to just get shit done. Every time I look out the window at a dark, gray sky I hum, “Soon it’s gonna rain, I can feel it, soon it’s gonna rain, rain pell-mell…” and think of EM and smile. Continue reading

Divine Gluten-Free Cocoa Brownies (aka the easiest brownies you will ever make!)

Divine Gluten-Free Brownies - TheDustyBaker

Saturday was the New York City Bake Sale benefiting Share Our Strength’s NO KID HUNGRY. It’s a beautiful cause, chaired by chefs Marc Murphy and Alex Guarnaschelli and supported by a whole host of chefs, restaurant owners and mixologists…. and little bakers and bloggers like those who gathered together.

The weather was gorgeous on Saturday, and I trekked the 95 minutes down to Brooklyn (damn you, A train!) to drop off my goods. Honestly, I wasn’t quite up to it and have been having a series of symptom flares, so I didn’t stay long. And because of such flairs and a bit of burnout, and because honestly making things look crafty and cute is pretty far down on my list of priorities, my items were not nearly as beautiful as most of the offerings there. I am astounded by how talented and devoted bloggers are. They truly inspire me. While I only stayed a few minutes to meet the Divine folk, check out the glorious offerings (which I couldn’t buy because sugar is not my friend right now, symptom-wise), and grab a drink before heading back to the C train (damn you!), I was so happy to have been a part of this. Lillian of Sweets by Lillianah and Ken of Hungry Rabbit did a stellar job organizing and executing this event, which raised over $3,000 for the charity!

Continue reading

Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip and Banana Scones (gluten free)

Thank you to Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert for this photo

Thank you to Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert for this photo

Last Sunday I had the loveliest afternoon. My photographer Brent had gotten married the night before, and after I snuck out from the fabulous party flowing with really good Prosecco, dangerously good mescal and bacon wrapped figs / ribs / pickled veggies and charcuterie that was to die for, I came home to Lil Sis on my couch. She had driven the 10 hours up from North Carolina to bake with me on Sunday, because after a weekend of revelry that capped off a long week there was no way I could haul my loot downtown and bake 180 gluten-free scones by myself.

I am so thankful she came with me, and so psyched for what we did.

We joined 7 other bakers/bloggers, pastry chef Stephen Collucci and chocolatier Mehdi Chellaoui at the Sweet Sensations benefit for C-CAP, which helps at-risk kids find scholarships and placement in the culinary world.

Continue reading

My Gluten-Free Easter: Pastel Tea Eggs, Portuguese Masa and Angel Food Cake

eggs6-thedustybaker

I’m not gonna lie: Easter is not my favorite holiday.

I don’t mind it at all, but as a lapsed Catholic it always brings up conflict within me. Not that I feel a need to be talked or worked through it, mind you, because I’m very content with my personal beliefs and practices. But my family is very Catholic and our shared holidays are still about, primarily, faith.

I’m all cool with Jesus and Mary.
But here’s where the conflict comes in: homosexuality, abortion, gender inequality. There’s no need to even explain what the conflicts with those are.

I can’t take the good and leave the bad.

So, Easter conflicts me.

How’s that for a horrible introduction to some recipes?

Continue reading

Blueberry Lemon Biscotti (gluten free)

Light n' crispy lemon biscotti with silvered almonds and dried blueberries

Light n’ crispy lemon biscotti with silvered almonds and dried blueberries

And then, out of no where, there are moments of unadulterated joy.

I had told Tony mere minutes before walking in here that he had to keep hope. Hope that there was much honest and true love coming to him. Hope that he would be happy not only for a minute or a month, but for an extended length in his life. I heard his broken heart through the phone as I crouched in a corner on Madison Avenue, huddled from the wet cold of New York City in March. As he spilled out his anguish, his pride and confusion and shock resonating in his choked sobs, I recognized myself not two years ago, when everything I knew to be true about love was destroyed in one phone call, and I ran to Great Jones Spa and French wine bars by the dozen to drown out my … yes… despair.

I promised him that there was joy to come. Even though my own heart is still crackled, and I accept that in a way I may never be as consistently happy as I was in my younger years when Tony and I drank until dawn and took another bow and fought like on the side of the road… there are moments of joy.

And, now, here I am.

Continue reading

Kitch+Table Brownies with Dairy-Free Creme Anglaise – Gluten and Dairy Free!

Kitch+Table Gluten-Free Brownies, Dairy-free Creme Anglaise and Dairy-Free Fudge Sauce

Kitch+Table Gluten-Free Brownies, Dairy-free Creme Anglaise and Dairy-Free Fudge Sauce

There are moments here in New York City, when I feel like I’m living out a television episode or something. Yesterday, walking from Rockefeller Center to Times Square, I was hit in such a moment.

I’d just come from doing an infomercial at a salon a friend owns, three stories above where the big ol Christmas sits during the holidays. Now and then he treats me to a cut or color or, in this case, a treatment that makes my hair shiny and soft. It’s been just over a year since I’ve been on camera, and though I was put off at first by the much larger production scale than I’d expected (there’s money in beauty product advertising), I quickly fell back into the fun of it. And evidently the 4 years of drama school and 10 years of city living mean I actually can do what I’ve been trained to do, so it sorta kicked ass.

Me getting the treatment down two weeks ago or so.

Me getting the treatment down two weeks ago or so.

I then hoofed it to Times Square to pick up some tickets for my sister (the kitsch factor in that area is laughable now, and most readily avoided), and subway’d it down to Union Square. Being early for brunch with friends (2:30 is totally acceptable time for eggs on a Sunday), I sneaked into a single spot at the bar at Union Square Cafe and treated myself to half a dozen oysters and a killer Bloody Derby*.

Times Square hoofing.

Times Square hoofing.

There was something about the tone of my day – the color, the weather, the bustle of tourists, the quiet subway car, the packed bar, the good food – that reminded me why life in New York is so sweet, and generous, and rather sexy sometimes.

Brunch of Sexiness #1. Totally beat out Brunch #2

Brunch of Sexiness #1. Totally beat out Brunch #2

Now, I feel like this little ramble should connect to this recipe, because if I was a serious food blogger than all things in my daily life would connect to the things I bake and blog about, right? I’d have more of a shtick and more than 3 people who read this would know what a Bloody Derby** is because I’ve referenced it a few times now… I may have even recipe’d it.

Anyway, this recipe connects because my day yesterday and that gorgeous chocolatey thing above are both full of love and kismet… or something like that. The recipe came together because I got some samples in from Kitch+Table, who I’ve worked with for Easy Eats and wanted to try it out on non-gluten-freers my last week of private chef-ing. The adorably talented 13-year old in the family loves brownies, so I figured we might as well have some fun with them.

Photo credit Kathy Schwartz for Kitch+Table

Photo credit Kathy Schwartz for Kitch+Table

First off, the brownies are delicious. I followed the very simply recipe on the bag to a T and was a bit wary when the batter was sticky and thick, but they baked up fudgey yet firm, rich yet not heavy. They have that signature crumb on top that many gluten-free brownie recipes miss. The boss family had no idea they were gluten-free, and the brownie aficionado ate the scraps around our little cut-out hearts with relish, going nuts for them. So stellar product to begin with (and I tried out two bags of this with equally stellar results). Go to Kitch+Table for purchasing or try my boozy Beer Brownies for something totally by scratch.

To spruce them up (this was the week after Valentines day) we used cookie-cutter hearts and layered them with thinly cut strawberries, some dairy-free fudge sauce leftover from my Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake and some dairy-free coconut Creme Anglaise, definitely two staple recipes to have in your pastry book.

Since leaving this job I’ve felt much emotionally calmer and steadier, and I know soon my body will catch up. And until then I’ll be thankful for the little moments, the big ones, the good things people are producing, and a little Creme Anglaise.

Brownie-Layer-Cakes---TheDustyBaker

Dairy-Free Creme Anglaise

This recipe sounds uber fancy but it’s relatively simple. Made with egg whites and just a little bit of sugar, it’s a delicately sweet addition for dressing up desserts.

1/4 cup egg whites
1/4 tsp cornstarch, tapioca starch or arrowroot starch
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 vanilla bean, de-beaned (slice the vanilla bean down lengthwise and use the back of the knife to scrape the beans out)
3/4 cup lite coconut milk

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites and starch.

In a small pot, whisk together sugar, vanilla and milk. Whisk constantly over medium-ish heat until steaming. Pour over the egg mixture, whisking all the while, until thoroughly combined.

Pour back into pot and return to stove. Whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes, until slightly thick, coating the whisk.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a Pyrex measuring cup or small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until cold.

*If you ever meet a guy in Denver with bright eyes who says he penned the name “Bloody Derby” for a Bloody Mary with bourbon in it, you have full permission to box his ears. I came up with it almost two years ago. This name has been pondered and considered. Do not trust this man. Then again, don’t box his ears, because he was in the army and is very able to kick your ass. Maybe just tickle him instead. I think he’s ticklish. Report back if you find out.

**The 4 of you who read this far down now know too. Between the 8 of us and the Denver guy and the guy I dated for five minutes when I came up with it and the bartender at the Ace hotel where we first ordered it I think we can make this Bloody Derby thing a thing. Just remember who started it. And I drank that Derby hours ago so there’s sadly not even a bourbon-infused reason for this rant.

Rosemary Lemon Angel Food Cake – Lowfat, Gluten and Dairy Free

Rosemary Lemon Angel Food Cake

Rosemary Lemon Angel Food Cake

I’ve been working with a new concept lately – “just enough”.

Go with me on this for a little bit.

I’ve never been a “just enough” person. I’m a workaholic who’s only just started admitting that maybe I’m “type A” when I consistently didn’t get the shocked expressions I’d expected after telling someone I’d been accused of being as such. I’m the kind of person who will think nothing of working 7-day weeks. I’m an adult who has dealt with active and repressed Lyme Disease cyclically for almost 20 years, and constantly feel I need to gain strengths to balance out my weakness so that I can be worthy of whatever or whomever is investing in me.

But here’s the thing. That way isn’t working.

Last week I left my job as a private chef, at a position I’ve had for only ten months. It was for a very wealthy, good family, of whom I have no drama to report. But it was too much work. I’d work 40 to 60 hour weeks, without having cut down on writing work and while still going to help my family business out now and then.

As the months passed things started slipping while I tried to sustain the ability to work at my job: I started taking interviews and not having the energy to finish the stories; I dated a man for about 6 months and I can count on both fingers how often we went “out” for anything other than a lazy meal; everything started hurting, so I started medicating to work. Not as badly as I have in the past, but a Percoset or two a day, and two or three muscle relaxers, and maybe some ibuprofen. Even drugged, it was important to me to not let the family I worked for know, and to be as good as my job as I could be. Possibly more than I even needed to be. I was tired, and depleted, and feeling horribly lethargic any time I didn’t have to be “on”.

I gave my notice in the beginning of January.

I came to New York City to be an actor on the stage. And while I’ve had relative success I couldn’t cut being an artist and independently making a living, physically or spiritually. Sometimes I feel like a quitter “retiring” to transfer my energy to writing a few years back. But it was a choice made to devote a little bit more to my health.

And now I’m taking one step further.

“Just enough”.

In January, I’d made a list of all I accomplished in 2012 – a testament to myself of how hard I’d worked and what I’d done, what I’d succeeded at. I’d made good money, good connections and produced a lot of good work. I’d traveled without concern for a budget or an agenda. I’d taken care of my dog and apartment and bought my family presents and helped out my lil sis when she needed some help and paid for my medical expenses. But was I any happier than I had been the year before? Any healthier?

During some healthy meditating with my life coach (yes), I realized that that is a list of misguided accomplishments.

I hadn’t gone to the park for no reason. I hadn’t kept my body healthy by doing the luxurious things it needs like acupuncture, yoga, meditation, saunas, massages. I had missed friends’ shows and family members’ weddings. I had been hurting my own body – the only one I get – by doing instead of being.

And in that way, I wasn’t being me.

So, now, the philosophy is “just enough”.

  • I will work just enough to make a decent living.
  • I will work just enough so that at the end of every year I’ll look back and will have completed one big project very well, in a way I’m proud of.
  • I will work just enough so that I have time to do the things that make my body feel better.
  • I will work just enough so that the next time I meet someone special, I’ll just be with him, and do more with him.
  • I’ll do just enough so that going to the park for no reason is just a part of what I do.

Just enough sounds like so, so much

Rosemary-Lemon-Angel-Food-Cake---TheDustyBaker1

Rosemary Lemon Angel Food Cake

This cake came about during my last week of work, when I was training my replacement and starting to accept the transition that was coming. It’s incredibly light and decadent – I love the magic that is angel food cake batter rising high in the pan.

The key to angel food cake is making sure that your whites are beaten to peaks strong enough to hold the amount of sugar and flour you’re adding, without it crystallizing on top (mine did a little in this version, but it was still divine). I made a batch “normally” with white cake flour for work, then remade it at home for myself with the gluten-free equivalent. Both versions are so good. Light, airy, and almost completely fat free as egg whites do the heavy lifting and no other fat is added. It’s naturally dairy free, and an excellent dessert to top of a big meal (I served this after brisket).

I love adding savory herbs to sweets – check out my Rosemary Mint Linzer Cookies and Rosewater Lavender Shortbread – and this combo won over the boss-fam. At home, I found out it was even better a day or two later, when the sticky lemon glaze had absorbed its way fully into the cake.

Rosemary-Lemon-Angel-Food-Cake---TheDustyBaker3

Ingredients

  • 12 oz egg whites, at room temperature (1 1/2 cups, about 10 whites from large eggs)
  • 12 oz white sugar (around 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • pinch of fine salt
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced to around 4 Tbsp, separated for cake and glaze
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz high-starch gluten-free flour: I used 1.2 oz (around 3 Tbsp) millet flour, 1.3 oz (around 3 Tbsp) brown rice flour and 1.5 oz (around 5 Tbsp) arrowroot starch
  • 1/8 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 Tbsp very finely chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a small bowl, mix cream of tartar and salt. Have 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp vanilla extract nearby.

Whisk together the flours and xanthan gum in a medium bowl, then sift together.

Using a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or a metal bowl and hand mixer, beat egg whites on medium/high speed until foamy, around 1 minute. Add cream of tartar / salt mixture and beat until very foamy and opaque, around 30 seconds.

With the mixer on high speed, very slowly add all the sugar in a slow stream (this is most easily done with a standing mixer while you slowly shake the sugar on). Add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and vanilla, and beat until the mixture forms a glossy, stiff meringue, forming a rounded but firm tip when you lift the beater. In a standing mixer this should take only about 3 minutes when the sugar has all been added, by hand it may take a bit longer.

Beat in the rosemary, quickly.

Sift 1/2 the flour mixture over the meringue and fold in with as few strokes as possible with a spatula, until almost all incorporated. Repeat with remaining flour and fold until completely turned in.

Pour into un-greased angel food cake pan and bake for 30-50 minutes (yes, it will vary that greatly depending on how much your cake rises, exact oven temp etc), until slightly brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least one hour before removing from pan.

Meanwhile, whisk together 3 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until completely smooth. Whisk in lemon zest. Cover and set aside until ready to glaze.

To serve, invert cake onto a plate, drizzle with glaze, slice with a serrated knife and enjoy.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cherry Chip Loaf – Baked with Love

Cherry Chocolate Chip Bread

Cherry Chocolate Chip Bread

* Note: This post is sponsored by King Arthur Flour and Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs for their “Baking with Love” Pinterest contest! Details on this below!

——————

I feel fortunate to get to do so much of what I love. And this week am even more amply blessed.

I don’t bring this up much anymore because I consider myself somewhat “retired”, but I got my degree in stage acting, and for all of my twenties it was my main focus in regards to work. Looking at my resume you could even say I was rather successful at it. But my body couldn’t keep up with the crazy schedules and multiple jobs it took to stay afloat, and writing seemed a healthier career choice. While I don’t regret a minute I spent pursuing or taking the stage or my decision to focus elsewhere… I do really miss going from one creative project to another sometimes, and the sense of teamwork and community that goes into a production.

So I was honored when asked to perform again as Bird in Thin Air in the last year of the Universal Theatre Festival in Provincetown on the end of Cape Cod.

As Bird in 2006 at StageWorks/Hudson and then warming up last weekend in Provincetown.

As Bird in 2006 at StageWorks/Hudson and then warming up last weekend in Provincetown.

Bird and I go way back: I did the premiere of the piece at StageWorks up in Hudson, New York at the delightful age of 25 (along with four other parts). It’s a 16-minute solo short piece about a tightrope walker who’s trying to gather the courage to walk the wire after having lost her partner/husband only days before. There’s no way I could fully explain how much this piece has meant over the course of these 6 years as I’ve performed it in 5 productions: it’s the kind of piece that an actor rarely gets to call their own, and Bird grows with every year and every hundreds of experiences I go through as a person. By the end of those 16 minutes I’ve gone through a delicious range of emotions and am spent, sometimes to the point of near vomiting.

I could say it’s nerve-wracking to be on a small platform alone without an actor to share the performance with. But the older I get the less I worry about a memorable performance or “wowing” anyone. I care more about connecting with the words, the character, the writer, my director and the joy that is many eyes upon me as I step onto that platform alone and just talk. I’m completely unable to see the audience in front of me because of the blast of the spotlight a foot away. But I can sense them, and hear their reaction to points of humor or sarcasm or… at the end… my complete terror and anguish. And I could never describe my gratitude at the sighs, applause, “bravos” and – once – “hurrah” that comes when that spotlight goes down.

There’s really nothing like it. I love those opportunities. And I am so thankful that now and then I get to live them.

I spent this past weekend far from my kitchen at work, my kitchen at home, my dog and (for the most part) a computer. I stretched, I slept, I worked with my much-loved director, I dissected pages of text and made sure my body could keep up with the story while on stage looking out, blinded by light.

Clockwise from top left: sign at the beach, tech rehearsal, the view from my room, the empty streets after the last show closed, the farewell season banner, bouys in the cold.

Clockwise from top left: sign at the beach, tech rehearsal, the view from my room, the empty streets after the last show closed, the farewell season banner, bouys in the cold.

Pinterest Contest – Baking with Love

This post is a little late, because while I had planned to pen it over the weekend on my luxuriously quiet days before the shows, I came down with an upper respiratory infection and had to put all focus on muscling through the performances and my drive home. So this is a little late, but still full of love.

Screen shot 2013-01-23 at 1.38.08 PMI don’t normally do sponsored posts. But I actually like and use both of these products, so when asked to do a post with King Arthur Flour and Pete and Gerry’s eggs, I said “yes” with confidence. I love Pete and Gerry’s eggs because they’re free-range, organic, from somewhat nearby and rather affordable. Though I don’t often use flour blends King Arthur is my go-to gluten-full flour. And when it comes to using a blend, I love that there’s does not include xanthan gum – which is a plus in my book.

So we’re all coming together for a contest on Pinterest where pinners can pin their loving baked treats up until February 14th and win up to $250 in King Arthur products! Click here or on the image above to learn more (and click HERE to join me on Pinterest!).

Chocolate-Cherry-Bread1

Now I had intended to do something pink and heart-full and sweet for this contest, and I may do another by the due date, but performing and cold and what-not had me doing something simple and rich and warming. There’s something I adore about a quick-bread recipe. The fact that it’s two bowls and no electronics. The fact that a basic ratio is endlessly adaptable. The fact that it can be a loaf or a muffin. I love quick-breads. And this one tastes even better on day two, and day three.

And now, to quote Meg Ryan (who looked way more adorable with her cold in You’ve Got Mail than I do right now), “my head is getting fuzzy”. Back to the couch.

Lots of love,

– Jacqueline

Chocolate-Cherry-Bread2

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cherry Chip Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup / 8oz King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour Blend
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup (4oz) white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, beaten
  • 8oz milk (I used unsweetened almond), warmed
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a loaf or muffin pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, gum, powder, soda, sugar and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs thoroughly. Add milk and butter and whisk thoroughly to combine.

Whisk dry ingredients into wet. Fold in cherries and chocolate chips.

Pour into greased pans and bake 40 minutes for a loaf or 18-22 minutes for muffins.

Triple Chocolate Gluten and Dairy-Free Biscotti – The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

Triple Chocolate Biscotti - TheDustyBaker

I am a DORK for the holidays!

As in, I start listening to Christmas music (privately) in October. This year my roommate let me celebrate a few days before Halloween because of Hurricane Sandy so we watched The Holiday with the wind raging outside. While I’m cooking at work (private chef-ing) I have Christmas tunes playing on low on my iPad. And the day after Thanksgiving I strapped a 6-foot, stubby tree onto my car and lugged it into my apartment where it was decorated within a few hours.

That said, this year I’m overworked and exhausted. The holidays are awesome. But yes, sometimes, they wear us out.

Fortunately one thing that living with chronic Lyme has taught me is to just let go of certain things. If I don’t make 300 gluten-free cookies is Christmas Day not going to come?!?! No! If I don’t blog for two or three weeks is the entire internet world of readers going to put me on a black list?! Ha! I think we’ll all survive (if we make it through that December 21st apocalypse thing).

Letting go of certain things I look forward to means that the things I do participate in have that much more significance and give me that extra boost of joy.

Like the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. Continue reading

Peanut Butter Cookies – Milk Bar Mondays

I walk into my kitchen to get a cup of tea and Christmas fills my nostrils. Maybe it’s the strains of Love Actually coming from the living room where my roommate is wiling away the Saturday afternoon. Maybe it’s the fact that now that Halloween is over I can officially start planning menus and dreaming of trees. Maybe it’s needing something to distract me from Hurricane Sandy coverage in NYC. Maybe it’s these things and…

peanut butter.

Every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve made those classic little peanut butter cookies with a Hershey kiss on top (even though I’ve never freed them of gluten so haven’t been able to eat a bite). Out of all my holiday collection, they are the most requested and I make them by the hundreds…

Our Milk Bar Monday group took a little hiatus for the past few weeks to give space for Audra Wahab to be renamed Audra Fullerton and Krissy Winnick to welcome baby Ezekiel Vincent Winnick into the world!!! But now we’re back in our kitchens – though with slightly diminished numbers – and still determined to bake our way through Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar cookbook. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: