Holidays!

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

Advertisements

Gluten-Free, Milk-Free Gingerbread

Gluten-Free, Milk-Free Gingerbread

Years ago I inherited a gingerbread recipe that sent my taste-buds flying.  It was a dear friend’s mom’s, and I remember the first time I made it for a group of friends.  Back then, I was relatively unfamiliar with basic cake techniques, and the idea of “starting and ending with dry” seemed practically scientific.

The cake got raves.  But after that first time, I couldn’t eat it.  My milk allergies had gotten worse.

Fast forward ten years later and I made the recipe my own.  I think actual ginger-bread is too often overlooked in favor of its cookie-d cousins.  Which, trust me, I enjoy thoroughly.  But there’s something so homey and warm and New England holiday about it that I particularly love.

Substitution ingredients are below, but this blend of ingredients produced a moist, perfectly sweet, highly-spiced cake that I ate way too much of as soon as it was cool enough to slice.

Notes: I used butter, but not milk, substituting with unsweetened almond milk.  To make completely dairy-free, substitute the melted butter with melted butter-flavored Earth Balance.  You can use regular all-purpose flour (2 cups) if you don’t have gluten problems, or substitute with a gluten-free mix of your own.  I use less xanthan gum in this recipe than you might expect – if you want to omit completely, just add 1 Tbsp of flax meal. 

Another time I made this recipe I used 1 cup white rice, 1/2 cup tapioca, 1/2 cup sorghum and 1/4 cup millet and it worked well too!

Top with unsweetened coconut milk whipped cream for a special holiday treat!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch / flour (or arrowroot starch)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (or melted Earth Balance to make dairy-free)
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar and enough unsweetened almond, soy or cow’s milk to make 1/2 cup of liquid total
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan (preferably something thick like a Pyrex dish), set aside.
  • In a measuring cup, heat the milk and vinegar so that it’s slightly warm.
  • In a large bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment), add flours, tapioca starch, salt, baking powder, baking soda, xantham gum and spices.  Stir/mix/whisk quickly to combine.
  • Make a well in the center and pour in this order: molasses, maple syrup, melted butter, egg, and milk/vinegar mixture.
  • Stir/mix together until combined.
  • Add hot water and beat until combined.
  • Pour into pan and bake for 40 minutes or until slightly browned on top and slightly springy when you press it with your finger.
  • Cool for 15 minutes, then loosen from the pan with a knife and invert onto cooling rack.
  • Cool completely before slicing.

Decorate with sifted powdered sugar and whipped cream (either cow cream or coconut milk are delish!)

Classic Butter Cutout Cookies (gluten free) – the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

I’m gonna get a sentimental for a moment.

I have a very clear memory of my first Christmas with Lyme Disease, when I was 12 or 13 years old.  I was upstairs in my room, having been excused from the dinner table.  It was a cold winter.  I was in a lot of pain.  I hadn’t eaten much food, because I could barely digest anything at that point.  I had been carried upstairs, as I had lost almost my entire ability to walk.  I could hear laughter, and smell delicious things, and I felt very alone and very sad.  I cried, all bundled in bed, and listened to Windham Hill Artist’s A Winter Solstice, which my mother would play to comfort me.  The song “Gift” has always stuck with me – a gentle bit of comfort when feeling ill and lonely.

I pulled out of that bout of Lyme, and two others, and walked again.  My ability to move from point A to point B is something I will never take for granted, and a reason I so fully love walking in the 60-mile Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure.

Changing my diet is what healed me.  Yes, I’ve taken a lot of antibiotics in my 18 years of battling Lyme.  But every time I’ve gone through treatment it has not been until I’ve worked with a nutritionist of some sort and been put on a strict diet with lots of supplements and vitamin drips that I’ve seen results.

As a child it was obviously hard.  There weren’t cookbooks and blogs on gluten or dairy free baking.  There was one alternative for gluten free bread, and it was horrid.  Rice Dream was no substitute for ice cream, and the only offering.  Whole Foods did not exist, at least not in Connecticut.  There was almost no “alternative baking”.  It was a huge adjustment for my parents.

So this holiday season I’ve found myself overwhelmed with joy, gratitude and a feeling of community.  In one weekend I participated in three cookie swaps.

The first, the NY Cookie Swap organized by Three Many Cooks for Bloggers Without Borders, benefited Cookies for Kids Cancers.  Obviously any way I can help other children fight their illnesses, I’m in.  I remember how hard it was for my parents, seeing me sick as a child, a college student and as a full adult, and how my father sometimes tears up to this day, knowing I will never be as free of illness as he wishes I could be.  On a crisp Sunday afternoon dozens of bloggers met for some barbecue, margaritas and cookie swapping.  It was a joy to put faces and voices to the blog names I’ve seen all over the web.  And there was an entire table set aside for gluten-free cookies.  Awesome.  (Getting misty-eyed).

My monthly Burwell General Store Swap went up that Sunday as well.  Every month I join a group of 25 or so bloggers in adapting a recipe to our heart’s content.  Mine, of course, are gluten free.  I love this group of talented home and professional chefs.  For the NY and Burwell swaps I made Mesquite Gingerbread Men (recipe soon) and Chocolate Almond Biscotti, the recipe of which was chosen for FoodBuzz’s Top 9!

And then there’s this: the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, which required me to ship out 1 dozen cookies each to 3 bloggers I had been paired with – all gluten-free eaters.  In return I’d get three dozen different cookies as well! Awesome, no?

I am so very thankful for my ability to walk, my ability to eat what some see as a limited but I see as an incredible diverse and dynamic scope of food.  And I’m so thankful to have grown with a community of those who need to eat the same way, who pool information and resources, and to be able to teach some of what I have learned in my 18 years of living this way.

While I look back on that first Lyme Christmas as a blue one, the only blue snowflakes that are falling for me now are the ones I’m dunking in my almond milk.

Thanks to Three Many Cooks for the NY Cookie Swap and Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for organizing the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

I don’t have pictures of the beautiful gluten free cookies I received in the swap because as soon as they came in they were either in my mouth or on a plate and out the door with a collection of others.  They were so delicious and looked so nice alongside others that I had made for gifting, and, well, I’ve seen myself on camera lately and I have to WATCH MY COOKIES.

Julie from Swim… Bike… Running on Empty sent some deliciously moist gluten, corn and dairy free vegan pumpkin bites that were laced with nuts and chocolate as well.  The perfect soft cakey-cookie.  Check out her blog for healthy living tips including balancing all these cookies with exercise (which some of us need to incorporate more, note to self).  Follow her Tweets, people!

Maria from Gluten-Free Girl in Chicago‘s White Sugar Cookies with Pecans reintroduced me to the love of dipping cookies in milk.  Don’t know why, but I’m as excited about this practice as if I’d just discovered the combo myself.  Her crisp, delicate cookies were made with Earth Balance Coconut Spread (which I’d never heard of) and Better Batter All Purpose Flour.  So two new things for the DB.  I’m making them asap.  Since I have a big thing of almond milk waiting for me in the fridge.  Also check her out on Twitter.

Lastly, Clean Eating Chelsey’s Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies were just the perfect way to round out this trio.  I loved how they weren’t that sweet.  I find a huge difference between gluten-free and/or vegan eaters: we generally use less sugar. When adapting some recipes I’ll think something is WAY too sweet and my regular eating friends will disagree.  So these soft, chewy cookies (also perfect in almond milk) with big chunks of vegan chocolate and a strong coconut oil flavor were divine.  Follow her on Twitter too.

Classic Butter Snowflake Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen large snowflake cookies

Ingredients:

Adapted from the Classic Sugar Cookies by Saveur

  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups arrowroot or tapioca flour
  • 1 cup quinoa or millet flour
  • 3 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter (3 sticks), soft
  • 2 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp Meringue / Egg White Powder
  • 1/2-1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or almond, cinnamon etc.)
  • Gel food coloring
  • Colored sanding sugar and edible glitter

Method: Cookies

Whisk the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes (especially when using organic sugars or sucanat, you need to mix longer as they don’t break down or dissolve very well).  Add the eggs, one a time, beating thoroughly between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.

Slowly add the flour, and mix until the dough just pulls together and the flour is blended in.

Divide in four, wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for 45 minutes or until a bit firmer.

When ready to cut and bake, preheat oven to 325°.  On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with 3 inch snowflake cookie cutters (or cutters of choice, of course).  Bake for 15 minutes or until just brown at edges.  Cool for 5 minutes on sheet before removing to cooling racks.  Cool completely before icing.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Note: It’s easier to re-roll gluten-free cookies than regular cookies because you don’t have the presence of the gluten protein to make them tougher.  However, the softer the dough gets, the less crisp and crumbly it will be.

Method: Royal Icing

To make the icing, place sifted powdered sugar and meringue / egg white powder in bowl of standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add 1/2 cup of warm water and mix on medium low to incorporate.  If it is very dry, add a bit more water.  Increase speed to high and beat until glossy and stiff, about 6 minutes.

Now, some people freak out with royal icing.  I find it fun.  Because if you need thinner icing for piping a trillion cookies smoothly, just add warm water a teaspoon at a time until you get to the consistency you want.  Mix gel food colorings in a desired amount in small bowls.  This mixture makes about 3 cups, which is plenty for this batch of cookies.

Have fun with icing tips to pipe thick frosting on the snowflakes, and immediately sprinkle with shimmery sanding sugar or edible glitter as you go.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti – A Recipe Swap!

Toll House Chocolate Almond Biscotti

It’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap time again! And a holiday swap at that!

Quick catch-up for newcomers: About 13 months ago Christianna over at Burwell General Store started a recipe swap with Lindsay of Rosemarried, where she gives a recipe to a group of bloggers and we all change at least 3 things about the recipe.  With the coming of the second year we’re now a group of about 25 bloggers and just changed over to our second book, “The Second Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places”.  While I’ve cherished “All Day Singin and Dinner on the Ground”, there’s something momentous about changing books.  The swap has been one of my favorite discoveries since starting this blog, and I look forward every month to seeing what the group has come up with, as well as connecting regularly on what’s inspiring us in and out of the kitchen.  Check out their posts on the little frog link below, and my Recipe Swap category for more!

New year, new book!

This month, with the craziness of the holidays, Christianna gave us something classic: the Toll House Cookie.  I got all mushy and sentimental when I saw the recipe.  Because for as long as my little dusty heart can remember my mother has kept her recipes, in bits and pieces, in a Toll House recipe book.  Its plastic brown cover contains so many recipes that we played with over the years, and many that are still favorites in our family.  Before the internet food world, before this blog, before I knew of single-origin chocolates, the science of baking gluten free, and became what some people might call a “food snob”, there was that book.

December's recipe: look at the adorable bit of history!

One of my favorites as a youngster was my momma’s biscotti.  Crisp and full of mini chips, she made several variations for her abundant plate of holiday cookies.  As I had to gluten free myself, she started adapting some of the recipes.  Or, at least, she tried.  It was sort of a running joke for a while between my siblings and I that she would attempt to make foods that I could eat, and then upon running down a list of ingredients she’d slap her head and go, “ah, sh*t!”.  Including the first time or two she made me “gluten and dairy free” biscotti; then realized she used regular chocolate chips.

But, as I did, she practiced and learned.  And now hers is one of the few houses I can go to and know I will eat, and I will eat well.

Mom and the Dusty sibs, Christmas 2009

So I wanted to take this classic Toll House Cookie recipe and make it into a biscotti.  And while no other biscotti will ever give me the same satisfaction as one made by my mom, these are pretty perfect.  Crispy, flavored with almond, perfect for dunking in sweet wine (an Italian recently told me that’s the way to do it), coffee or a glass of chilled almond milk (or cow, for you lucky dairy people!).

Happy Holidays, Swappers.  And, thanks, mom.  I love ya more than my luggage (10 cookies if you name that movie).

Mom and me at the end of the Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure!

Oh, and mom, if you read this… Christmas is coming… hint hint.  And yours, please, not mine.

– Jacqueline, The DB

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Makes 18, Adapted from the Toll House Cookie and Toll House Biscotti recipes, with some dusty love.

Notes: I grew up with denser, harder biscotti, so to replicate that I baked the roll until it was slightly underdone, then cut and toasted it.  If you want yours crispier and a bit drier, bake completely before toasting.  I’ve made this recipe both ways with success.  Also, you can swap so many things in and out of this recipes: try cranberries, dried fruits, other nuts, go wild!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups starch-heavy gluten free flour (mine was 1 cup brown rice and 1/3 cup millet and 2/3 cup arrowroot)
  • 2 Tbsp Sweet Rice Flour, plus more if the dough seems sticky
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (or 1 Tbsp flax seed if you’re avoiding xanthan)
  • 1 Tbsp Mesquite flour (totally optional)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, soft
  • 5 Tbsp white sugar
  • 5 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment or Silpat, or lightly grease.

Pour almonds on a second, dry, sheet and toast in the oven while preparing the biscotti.  Check occasionally so they don’t burn, and remove when slightly golden in color. (They will look all pale one second and like Troy after the horse in the next, so keep a close eye. A toaster oven works too.)

In a medium bowl combine flours, gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally.  Add eggs one at a time, beat to incorporate.  Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.  With the mixer on slow, add flour and beat to combine, increasing speed to incorporate.  Mix in nuts and chocolate chips.

With floured hands, roll into a 12-inch log and place on prepared sheet (or longer if you want smaller cookies).  Round top slightly.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cracked on top and slightly firm.  It shouldn’t be cooked completely, so the center should seem a tad underdone.

Remove to cooling rack and cool for at least 10 minutes.  Slice into into 1/2 inch slices and gently slide onto cookie sheet, cut side down.  They will be a bit crumbly, so use a spatula to gently flip them on the sheet.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until crisp and brown.  Cool completely before serving.

Enjoy with or give to someone you love!

{gluten-free} Cranberry Walnut Scones

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

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

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

Dusty Jacqueline, tricks are for kids.

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

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: