Healthy Alternatives

Garden Chicken Salad

Brent Herrig © 2012

I never think to make my own chicken salad, which is super silly because a fresh chicken salad – absent of mayo (though I love it) and teeming with bits of crisp, fresh veggies – is a ridiculously versatile little dish.  And for my FoodBuzz Gluten Free Puff Pastry party, I knew I had to have something springlike and comforting.

For this one I loaded it up with lots of fun things I had on hand and a poppyseed dressing I adore, along with some tart goat milk yogurt.  The combination of flavors, colors and textures, popped in to the little puff pastries, was a huge hit.

Click here for the gluten-free puff pastry recipe.

Brent Herrig © 2012

Garden Chicken Salad

Serves 4 as a main, or 12 appetizer portions

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • water, chicken stock and white wine (whatever your preference)
  • 1/2 cup Brianna’s Poppyseed dressing
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used goat milk yogurt)
  • 3/4 cup cooked green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp poppyseeds
  • 1/2 recipe gluten-free puff pastry

Method:

Poach the chicken: place the 3 breasts in a medium stockpot.  Cover with water, stock or wine (or a combination of all three, whichever’s your preference).  Add rosemary, about 1/2 tsp kosher salt and a few healthy grinds of pepper.  Bring liquid to a simmer, then cover and remove from heat.  Let sit until the inside of the chicken comes to 160°, about 15 minutes.  Cool completely (or chill overnight), then cube or shred chicken.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients but sunflower seeds, cranberries and poppyseeds.  Mix well, cover, and let chill overnight if possible.  Just before serving, fold in seeds and berries. Sprinkle with poppyseeds.

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Blueberries and (Dairy Free) Cream – Burwell General Store Swap

It’s Burwell Recipe Swap time again – check out my past swaps for more info about the group.

So…  I had plans to make something that would blow my mind.  Something I learned from Alton Brown, who’s tied as my favorite brain crush with Brian Lehrer (all you WNYCers know what I’m talking about).  Something that I figured I could mix and measure and adapt as necessary.  I even wrote the post out last night.  It was brilliantly witty.  Pinky swear it was.

And while the experiment worked up to this point…

… that beaker of coolness was as far as I got.  They were to be these beautiful pearls of dark red wine that I had simmered with some really potent dried ginger, honey and gelatin sheets.  Dropped into chilled oil, they were to separate easily when rinsed clean.

I tried several variations – still think I need more gelatin.

So, in a pinch – what could I make?!?!  Because the recipe we were given, the one that we were to try to keep close to, was this:

Honestly, reading it invoked a reaction of reverse peristalsis in me (probably the only phrase I remember from high school biology).  Look at that ingredients list: really?

So what I took from it was: fruit, gelatin, ginger.  My original idea for the swap was to be a take on Charlotte Russe, which I’ve been wanting to adapt since I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn again a few months ago.  But for the same reason that this recipe makes me gag, I couldn’t do it.

So the result was a relatively healthy, bi-blueberry dessert served with a gluten-free lady-finger.  I did not make them.  If you want to make your own, I suggest this recipe from Krissy’s Creations.

This is definitely not my most proud swap.  But as this post goes up I’m not even near NYC at all, but on an island off of Portugal touring a vineyard, cooking food in the ground, interviewing chefs and chasing dishes around the island while my recorder runs and my photographer clicks away.  In prep for the trip I’ve been working like mad to meet deadlines.  And as I gobbled this up, I realized sometimes even last-minute creations come together when you need them.

Now please go check out my fellow swappers for, I’m sure, a tasty combo of creations!


Blueberries and Cream

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • Scant 1lb of fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup dark red wine
  • 1 tsp dried ginger (less if you don’t like too much spice)
  • 2 sheets gelatin, bloomed (soak in cook water for about 5 minutes to bloom)
  • 1-8oz container cream cheese or alternative (I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 slices candied ginger
  • 16 ladyfinger or Madeleine cookies

Method:

  • Rinse and separate the blueberries, and reserve 1/2 cup.  Put in a small pot on medium heat with the wine and dried ginger.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes, crushing some of the blueberries with a fork.  Meanwhile, bloom the gelatin.  Whisk in slowly, and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Turn off heat, and remove 1/4 cup blueberry liquid.  Add remaining 1/2 cup blueberries to pot, and stir in – these will soften a tad but give the jam a nice texture.
  • Remove the pot to refrigerator until chilled.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and 1/4 cup blueberry liquid.  Stir until completely incorporated.  Return to fridge to chill until firm.
  • When ready to serve, scoop the cream cheese mixture into a small ziploc bag.  Snip the corner, and pipe onto the flat side of one cookie.  Sandwich with another cookie.  Spoon about a tablespoon of chilled jam onto plate, then rest cookie sandwich on top.  Garnish with candied ginger.

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,

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Gluten-Free Almond Butter Cornmeal Cookies

Almond Butter Cornmeal Cookies

You know, I feel very fortunate to be able to say that life is quite rad.  And so are these cookies.  Yes, rad.  I think it’s time for that word to come back in rotation.  Spread it around.  After baking these cookies.

Yesterday I made a batch of My Morning Jolt Cookies (peanut butter, coffee, oatmeal, chocolate chips… they’re gangbusters) to take along to my friend’s company where I was interviewing some filmmakers for a project I’m working on.  It’s exciting and exhausting; assessing working potential, trying to find the chemistry needed for a creative partnership of this kind.  Makes me both grateful to not be on the other side of the casting table (though auditions are a totally different beast) while finally understanding the “please let the next person who walks in the door be the ONE” thing.

I also had a delightful phone appointment with my doctor (hi, Dominiques!) who once again reminded me how rad he is (see, the more I use it the greater the chances are you’ll accidentally start using it yourself and it will take over your social jargon).  I had been nervous to catch up with him since I haven’t been quite as good with my body lately as I should be.  We had started working together during my last serious bout of illness, and it took a long time for me to get on my feet again.  So it was incredibly reassuring to hear him say that, despite said slipping habits, my current health is a testament to all the time and energy we put in for those many months and years, and I deserved a little break from the hardcore discipline to deal with some stuff.  Rad.

I topped off the evening by listening to some delightful bluegrass down in the village (The Six Deadly Venoms, check them out) with the company of someone who… well let’s just say I really enjoyed myself.  And though my late night led to starting late this morning, I’m pretty cool with life right now.

Which, for some horrific reason, inspired Billy Joel to start singing in my head.  I must go turn on some Frenchie jazz music asap and get to work a nap.  So before I go, here’s my new favorite cookie recipe.

Soft and crumbly, perfect with milk!

A few days ago I bought a big, beautiful bag of cornmeal to make a pie crust for an event this weekend, only to open my pantry and see a big, beautiful bag of cornmeal making eyes at me forlornly.  As as I seldom use this kind of flour, I figured there was no time like the present to get started.

After yesterday’s success with the peanut butter I figured I’d move it a step to the left and use some of my favorite Trader Joe’s almond butter along with the cornmeal and other gluten-free flours I’d be blending.  The combo produced a soft, perfectly sweet (mildly), simple cookie with a delicious crumble.  They’re gluten-free, contain no refined sugar, and have some extra protein and fiber thanks to the almonds and the flours.

Start to finish it took me about 35 minutes to make 36 of these little babies.  Though making one HUGE cookie sounds really fun right now too.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal / flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp xathan gum
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup smooth almond butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 slivered almonds

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flours cornmeal, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum.  Whisk thoroughly to combine.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and almond butter on high until smooth and incredibly fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  It should look incredibly light – like a dark whipped cream.
  • Add the maple syrup and continue to beat until the mixture expands a bit and, again, looks incredibly light and fluffy (there’s really no better way to describe than light and fluffy, evidently, this morning).
  • Stop the mixer, scrape down, and pour in the flour mixture.  Beat on low until it start to incorporate, then at medium speed until completely combined.
  • Fold in slivered almonds.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared sheets.
  • Baking two at at time, bake for 8 minutes.  Then use spatula to press down on cookies (if desired, this will make them a bit crispier) and rotate the sheets (flip them top and bottom on racks and then turn them around so the cookies bake evenly).
  • Bake for 8 more minutes, or until slightly browned.
  • Cool on sheets for a few minutes, then remove to cool completely.

Pressed version of the cookies

Gluten-and-Dairy-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten, Dairy and White Sugar Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten, Dairy and White Sugar Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Autumn has hit New York City.  I’m typing at my desk by my window, and a sharp chill sneaks in.

It seems that, practically overnight, we’ve said goodbye to sundresses and sandals, to bare arms and walking in the shade.  One part of me loves this crisp air, and is day-dreaming of pumpkins and pie, of Halloween and Christmas cookies.  The other part of me is mourning how the streets are already a little bit emptier at night, how my dog is going in hibernation mode, how I have to buy new shoes to replace the ones I wore out through the city slush last season.  Of being cold for the next few months.

Saturday I took Mitra for a walk in Central Park with a friend, decked in worn fall boots and a scarf.  And when I got home I knew what I needed to get me through the weekend: oatmeal cookies.

I had spent the morning working out a recipe for a Dusty Baker reader in the UK (Hi, Peter!)  – and it wasn’t quite right.  The night before I had tried a sweet and savory cookie recipe for a local friend – it also wasn’t quite right (all I’ll say is peanut butter and duck fat… it’s coming).  I was a bit of a grumpy dusty baker.

So there was to be no failing with this recipe.  Not only did I have some friends I wanted to bring something sweet to, but I wanted to get back to the gluten-dairy-sugar alternative baking that is a major part of my food lifestyle, which had been neglected a bit by all the baking I’ve been doing for other organizations.  And I had a short amount of time before heading downtown again.

I looked at a bunch of cookie recipes – both those with and without gluten – and was shocked at the amount of sugar or sweetener the recipes called for.  White and brown sugar, and a lot of it?!  A cup and a half of agave syrup? No, thank you!

I wanted my cookies to be simple, wholesome and just-sweet-enough. 

So I used only 1/2 cup of maple syrup for sweetness, added a bit of dark molasses to replace the flavor missing from the absence of brown sugar, and added some flaxseed meal for fiber.  I used shortening for stability.  I added some black pepper for a savory kick, and threw in a healthy spoonful of my favorite Vietnamese cinnamon along with some freshly grated nutmeg (they’re totally worth it).  I followed the advice of Karina at the Gluten-Free Goddess and kept rice flour out of the recipe (I based my proportions off of her recipe, which  is stellar – thank you Karina!).

I love the results.  For me, these are the perfect cookies to dunk.  Slightly sweet and spicy, soft, a perfect vehicle for the delicious chocolate that sits nestled within the oatmeal.

They’d also be stellar with raisins.

Start to finish, it took me 45 minutes to make, bake and wrap 36 of these babies.

I was a happy camper.  I brought a few to a friend to nosh on over some cheap whiskey and a game of chess (which I’m not as bad at as I had previously thought) and to another friend I met up with for a post-show glass of wine.  And may have eaten a few for breakfast before heading off to a late brunch with food-blog people the next morning.  Followed by an awesome Bloody Derby and Stumptown Coffee.

OK, Autumn weekends in New York City can be pretty awesome.  This one was delicious.

Wait, what’s a Bloody Derby, you ask? Oh, let’s just say an incredible cocktail I introduced a few people to at the Ace hotel (and had to name).  I think it will go along swimmingly with a duck-fat cookie. Coming soon to a Dusty Baker near you.

I may have eaten this entire stack of cookies for breakfast today. Yes, salad for dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds meal
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp dark molasses
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup ground walnuts or pecans, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats (totally worth the $).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk all dry ingredients up to the black pepper and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl) beat shortening on high heat until fluffy.
  • Add eggs, maple syrup and molasses and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes (beating the eggs gives a little lift and body to the coming flours).
  • Quickly beat in the vanilla.
  • Add all the flour, turn speed down to low, and mix until just combined.
  • Fold in the oats a cup at a time until distributed evenly.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips (or raisins!) and optional nuts.
  • Drop in rounded tablespoons onto mats.
  • Put in upper and lower third of oven and bake for 6 minutes.
  • Press down on each of the cookies with a metal spatula to flatten, then rotate the trays (switch upper and lower) to ensure even baking.
  • Bake for 7-9 more minutes, or until lightly browned. 
  • Cool a few minutes on trays before removing to cooling rack.

These are stellar when warm, and when dunked in a glass of unsweetened almond milk.

These will make soft and chewy cookies. If you like them crispy, turn heat down a bit and bake for about four more minutes.

Mango Mint Creamsicles

Mango, mint at a bit of strawberry

“Say hello to my little friend”

That little quote barely beat out “how town, summer in the city” for how I wanted to start off the introduction of these little frozen treats to you.  New York City is sweltering in the summer, and as I work primarily from home I’m usually confined to the corner of my bedroom next to the air-conditioner, where I am right at this moment, staring out the window at the pigeons lining the sill  20 feet opposite me, occasionally staring over my shoulder out the other window for a view of the beautiful trees that line my street and a glimpse of the clear blue sky.

I live in Washington Heights, where the sound of kids playing in the streets and the twinkling song of the ice cream man melds with the smell of families barbequing along the river.  It’s nifty.  But I can’t indulge in the ice cream sandwiches and red, white and blue popsicles that everyone seems to enjoy as they watch the sun go down on the Hudson.

But it doesn’t make any difference, because now I have MANGO MINT CREAMSICLES!

The mint is from my little window box, where in some miraculous way some herbs that I had planted there last season toughed it out through the months of ice and snow and came back even healthier in the Spring.  Spearmint and Chocolate Mint grow like mad, and they added a refreshing jolt to this simple combination.  The mango was juicy and ripe, from Fairway Market on 132nd street, my ultimate favorite large-scale grocer in the city.  The honey is local, and the yogurt is goat, from upstate. 

Sugar-free, gluten-free, cow-dairy-free.  Full of flavor and oh so easy to make.

Simple ingredients, awesome result.

Hot town… hot dang these are good!  So say hello to my  naturally sweet, ultra refreshing little friend.

Flecks of fresh mint make this an incredibly refreshing treat!

Ingredients:

  • One mango, peeled and roughly chopped, with about 2 Tbsp chopped into tiny pieces.
  • 1 cup of yogurt, plain (I used goat)
  • 1 cup of milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1 Tbsp honey, optional
  • about 5 strawberries, optional
  • 3 drops yellow food coloring, optional
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped mint (I used a combo of spearmint and chocolate mint)

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients but mint and 2 Tbsp reserved mango in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy.
  • Divide reserved mango and mint into fourths.  Add half of each to the blender and stir.  Use 1/4 of the reserves to put a few pieces of each in the bottom of each popsicle mold.  Fill with puree, then top with the last bits of mango and mint.
  • Freeze until good and hard.

Makes 6.

Carob Cupcakes with Almond Butter Filling

This is what I made last week.

Carob Cupcakes with Almond Butter Filling

This is where I was this weekend.

On Lake Moore in Warwick, MA

This is who I made them for.

My gorgeous friend.

Life is good.

Happy Belated Birthday!

My dear friend suffers from food sensitivities far worse than I am currently dealing with, and I wanted to make her something special in celebration of a reunion with good friends and a birthday of hers that passed too long ago when I wasn’t nearby to celebrate with her.

This is an only slightly adapted version of her Chunky Cake that I made with her a few weeks ago.  I simply upped the ghee content a bit, fussed around with a few measurements and put some creamy almond butter in the middle.

They are FREE OF: sugar, flour, soy, chocolate, caffeine, nuts

Here’s how you can make them!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup ground flax meal
  • 1 cup carob powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp bourbon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • 1 1/2  cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup smooth almond butter, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 24 muffin cups or heavily grease an 8″ cake pan.
  • In a large bowl, mix ingredients in the order above, adding water gradually at the end, whisking throughout.
  • For filled cupcakes, pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan by about 1/2 inch, then dot 1 tsp of almond butter in the center.  Cover with more batter until about 2/3 full.
  • Bake cupcakes for 16 minutes and full cake for 40 or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Almond butter filling

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

 

Chunky Carob Cake – Ridiculously Allergy Friendly!

Chunky Carob Cake

There are few names I’d put on my “soul-mate” list.  Nina Simone.  William Shakespeare.  James McAvoy (did you SEE X-Men First Class?  Totally redeemed the franchise from Wolverine and washed the bad taste of Bridesmaids out of my mouth).

In all seriousness, while I am surrounded by so many loving, special people, I am particularly grateful for my dear friend Lyndsey – a soul-mate if there ever was one.  We met through my college boyfriend over a dozen years ago, and aside from the many things we naturally had in common, we shared a history of chronic illness.  There’s no way I could summarize our friendship – but let’s just say we’ve been an ear, a shoulder, a hug, the voice on the other end of the phone that won’t hang up… I don’t know where I’d be without this woman.

So on my quick days off I scooted my little blue car down to DC to visit her and her husband, two of my favorite people in the whole world!  

Lyndsey is still suffering greatly from her illness and deep digestive problems, and her diet completely eliminates grains, sugar, chocolate, fruit, any sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, certain meats and fishes, fried foods, certain vegetables and is pretty much devoid of any sweet indulgences. I lived like that for several years but never as long as she, and don’t know how she hasn’t gone ballistic on a grocery store or restaurant by now.

But carob! Oh, yes, Lyndsey can have carob!

So the other morning she showed me how to make her “Chunky Cake”.

This cake is chocolate-free, sugar-free, grain-free / flourless, oiless, nut-free, low-carb, high-fiber, low-glycemic.  Really.  It does have ghee (clarified butter) so it’s not dairy free completely, but you can easily substitute with coconut oil or a fat of your choice.

And it’s incredibly easy – all ingredients mixed in a bowl and poured in a pan!

I was amazed at how light and airy the carob cake came out, while still packing a delicious aroma.  I’m going to have some fun experimenting with the recipe at home, using coconut products, tucking the batter around almond butter, soaking vanilla beans in almond milk.  But for now, here’s the original recipe.  Enjoy!

Moist and light Chunky Carob cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1 cup carob powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup melted ghee
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325°.  Heavily grease a pie plate or single cake pan.
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (in no particular order) with a whisk until thoroughly combined.  The resulting batter should sort of glop a bit off the whisk and not run completely smooth.  Because of the goopy result of using flax, Lyndsey describes it as “falling like boogers”.  One of the thousands of reasons why I love her so much.
  • Pour into prepared plate and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or fork inserted comes out relatively smooth.
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