Vegetarian

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!)

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Gluten-Free Pierogis and an Awesome Giveaway!

Gluten-Free Rosemary Pierogi with Sweet Potato Filling

Hello ladies and gentlemen!

I am so excited about today’s post, because not only do I have a delightfully easy and scrumptious gluten-free pierogi recipe to share with you, but I also have an incredible promotional giveaway thanks to the New York City food blog, Bromography!

A few months ago I had a ravishing conversation with Elle, Bromography’s founder and editor.  We were already “friends” on Foodbuzz and so I was familiar with the site, which focuses on the NYC food scene.  After dishing about our love of all things food friendly, we agreed that I should start an allergy-friendly restaurant review column, agreeing to call it, fittingly, The Dusty Review!  Since then I have been pleased to review some of NYC’s incredible eats on a weekly basis, as well as review the revered Mad About Macarons cookbook and interview it’s author, Jill Colonna.  I also reviewed a panel discussion on Food Markets and Immigrant Identity at the Museum of the City of New York, and have a few more exciting articles coming.  It’s a fun gig.

So to celebrate my joining the team Bromography and yours truly are pairing up to give you an awesome, gluten-free giveaway!

The Goods…

How To Enter…

Contestants who comment on  this post and “Like” Bromography on Facebook are eligible for Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking.

Contestants who comment on Bromography and “Like” The Dusty Baker on Facebook are eligible for the Essential Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide.

Anyone who comments on both posts and “Like”s both blogs on Bromography are eligible for both books!

And if you follow DustyBakerGal and Bromography on Twitter and post this giveaway to your followers we’ll double your entry!

Please note that you must connect with BOTH my site and Bromography, which is why this is set up this way!  Drop me a line on either site so I know you’ve done so please!

The contest will end at midnight, EST on Thursday, August 25th.

And now… Pierogies!

I love reviewing restaurants for The Dusty Review, and my review of Odessa Restaurant in NYC’s east village.  Please click over to Bromography to check out the review!

I had been there late nights for whiskey and some really fattening food, but a visiting friend insisted we go there for breakfast to eat their peirogi.  Which we did.  Twice in three days.

The pierogis were not gluten-free.  But the sauerkraut and sweet potato ones that I had on my first visit were to die for.  The sauerkraut was so delectable that on my second visit I ate almost an entire side order of it with my eggs.

But how hard would it be to make gluten-free pierogis at home?

As it ends up, not that darned hard!

I knew pierogi dough was the basic combo of flour, eggs and water.  A quick glance at a Foodbuzz friend, The Country Cook, and I felt ready to tackle the task.  I made a simple sweet potato filling, and the glass of fresh rosemary sitting on my cutting board inspired me to create a new take on this incredible classic.

Recipes like this are actually where cooking gluten-free comes in handy – because there is no gluten in the dough, there’s no need to knead (ha!) for a certain amount of time, and no worry about overworking dough.  What’s important is proportion and temperature.

This recipe is awesome.  Easy.  Relatively quick.  Enjoy.

And good luck!

Sweet potato filled and so savory!

Ingredients:

  • Two cups of gluten-free flour:  I used equal proportions of brown rice, sweet sticky rice, quinoa and tapioca.  I highly recommend the sweet sticky rice, as it helps create the elasticity that’s awesome for pastas.  And make sure one of the flours is a starch such as potato, tapioca or arrowroot: this helps bind the flours together in the absence of gluten.
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp cream cheese (I used Tofutti cream cheese)
  • 1 Tbsp milk (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, separated
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces
  • Butter or olive oil to taste

Directions:

  • Set a medium pot of water on the stove to come up to a boil while you prepare the pierogis.
  • Bring a small pot of water to boil and drop in sweet potatoes.  Let them cook while you prepare the dough.
  • In a bowl of a standing mixer with the bread hook attachment*, place the flours, xanthan gum, egg, cream cheese, milk, 1 tsp rosemary and pinch of kosher salt.
  • Mix on medium speed until the wet ingredients dissolve.  Slowly add warm water (while mixing) until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Mix until a dough ball forms that is thoroughly blended, about 2 minutes.
  • Feel the dough – it should be tacky and with an elastic pull, but not sticky.  If sticky, add a tiny bit more flour.  If dry, a dribble of water.  Alter until nice and tacky.
  • Take 1/3 of the dough and press onto a floured board.  Roll until 1/8 inch thick, and then cut into circles with a 3″ cutter.  Repeat with other 2/3 of dough.  Let them sit while you continue with the sweet potato filling.
  • When the sweet potatoes are soft, drain and return to pot.  Mash along with reserved 1 tsp rosemary and salt and butter/oil to taste.
  • Put about 1 tsp of sweet potato filling in the center of each dough round.  Use a pastry brush to brush with water, then fold into a crescent.  Press completely closed with your fingers or press with a fork.  Repeat until you have about 8 pierogis.
  • Drop them into the boiling water.  Initially they’ll sink – once they’ve floated to the top, cook for about four minutes, for a total of about six minutes.
  • Remove onto a plate and repeat the process of rolling and boiling until all are done!

This makes about 24 pierogis.

I suggest serving them with a crackling of fresh salt and some butter, or the classic sour cream and/or applesauce.

Thanks to Bromography for our awesome giveaway and the review that inspired this recipe!

My plate-full of breakfast pierogi

Insanely Healthy Sweet Potato Flax Muffins

Insanely yummy, healthy Sweet Potato Flax Muffins

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

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

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

Yields 12 insanely delicious muffins

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Yields 12 muffins.

For nutritional info please go to this recipe on CookEatShare.

Yummy, moist and slightly sweet Sweet Potato Flax Muffins

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

Caramel Apple Cake Pops (gluten-free!)

Caramel Apple Cake Pops

This is my first recipe post joining Christianna and a delightful crew of bloggers for the Burwell General Store Recipe Swap!  The premise is that bakers/bloggers take a recipe that Christianna passes along and, changing at least three things about the recipe, adapts to their whim and fancy.  Fun, right?!?!  I’ve enjoyed many happy moments paging between the incredible foodies and they’re takes on an old, homey recipe.  It’s just inspiring to see how imaginative people who truly love food can be.  Please check them out at Burwell General Store!

This month’s recipe: Ozarkian Taffy Apples

The caramel apples I remember from my youth were sticky and delightfully, sickeningly sweet; a rare treat reserved for fairs and trips up north to quiet New England towns during the hot summer.

But now I’m an adult.  Living with gluten and dairy allergies, hypoglycemia and a waistline that has started getting smushy since this Dusty Baker thing entered my life!  For the sake of my digestive health, the way my body feels and how I feel in it, I needed to develop a recipe I can feel confident in.  And I did!

Caramel Apple Cake pops!! I’ve seen these floating around the internet food world and, of course, at Starbucks.  They look like a nap to me (as in, if I ever ate one I’d probably clean every apartment in my building, write a novel and then crash for two weeks in exhaustion).  But they’re adorable.  So, I made a healthier cousin to the caramel apple that retains the yummy-tastiness and the visual appeal.  Gluten-free, dairy-free, white-sugar-free, and delicious.

I used my gluten-free cake flour blend because (a) it’s blended already! and (b) it has a lot of starch so will hold together well and support a good amount of moisture.  If you don’t have the time or know-how to blend your own flours, use an already mixed blend like Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur and simply add 1/2 tsp xanthan gum per cup of flour you use.

To cut down on the fat of basic apple bread/cake recipes, I used apple sauce instead of oil which provided moisture and upped the apple taste.  And to get rid of the white sugar completely, I used pure maple syrup in the cake and sucanat in the caramel.

Speaking of which: next big problem –  candy coating!!  I’m not good with candy.  I mess up “easy” peanut brittle.  My carob coffee and carob coriander candies definitely are yummy, but they don’t involve thermometers or “soft ball” stages.  And I had vowed against white sugar.   So slowly-caramelized sucanat was the best this Dusty Baker could come up with (made while I clicked my cowboy boots on my crumbling linoleum floors and danced to Michael Franti, Dusty style).

Apple Cake Bread

Honest results? My roommate and I loved the cake.  So much so that, while we enjoyed the pop of the caramel candy crunch, it was the cake that took such precedence that we agreed we just wanted to eat MORE CAKE!  It is incredibly moist, and the sweetness seems rich yet light and not overpowering.  If you choose to make the cake on it’s own, I recommend adding a drizzle of maple syrup on top of the cake while uncooked in the pan, and then swirling it with a fork.  This will give the top a great color and caramelization.

But if you want to continue on in making an adorable, caramel-apple miniature with a sweet crunch, continue with rolling this incredibly mushy bread into a ball and drizzling with sucanat caramel coating.

Oh, and according to the nifty nutrition converter at CookEatShare, these only have 57 calories a pop!! Take that, Starbucks, with your 300 calorie woppers!  Thank DOG I didn’t know that when they were sitting in my kitchen!

Caramel Apple Cake Pops

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped apples (I used one Granny Smith and one Braeburn, which came out to a little more than two cups once they had been peeled, cored and chopped)
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free cake flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed meal
  • 1/4 cup finely ground almond flour
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup sucanat
  • 4 Tbsp boiling water
  • 1/2 cup finely ground walnuts (optional)
  • 18 candy sticks
  • A foam block or other way to keep the pops upright while cooling

Directions: Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, flax, almond flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly until creamy.  Add the apple sauce and maple syrup and whisk to blend thoroughly.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a fork or spatula to combine.
  • Fold in the apples.
  • Bake in a lightly greased loaf pan for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool for 5 minutes in pan, then turn onto wire rack and cool until just slightly warm.

Directions: Assemblage*

  • In a small saucepan over medium/low heat, combine water and sucanat.  Slowly let this melt and combine until it forms a dark syrup.  It should trickle when you pull it from a fork, but in small clumps rather than a stream. This took me about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut the cake into chunks in a large bowl and smush with your hands until broken.  Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a plate.
  • When the caramel is smooth, poke a candy stick into the center of a ball to make an indentation.  Then remove the stick and dip in the caramel, and reinsert.
  • Drizzle the cake pop with caramel and press into nuts, if desired.
  • Repeat until all the pops are assembled, or until you’ve eaten all the mushed up cake in the bowl and then blamed its absence on your roommate’s cat.  Wait, what?

*I’m glad assemblage is a real word

Apple Cake Pops

Check Out the Other Creations From The Recipe Swappers!

  • Lindsay puts amazing honesty and simplicity written into her recipes. She loves Oregon, its ingredients and Portland’s lifestyle, and it shows.
  • Chef Dennis is veteran chef in his own right.  The rest of his fantastic food blog can be seen at morethanamountfull.
  • Mari lives in Oregon wine country and is a budding wine connoisseur.  Visit her at The Unexpected Harvest.
  • Boulder Locavore’s  starting point for the recipe swap is always a local-seasonal-organic combination, though her love of international cuisine and cocktails often work their way into the mix!
  • Joy, holding down a dairy-intolerant household, doesn’t let that restrict her love of flavors and food, in fact, it inspires her to do what she does. When you visit her blog, be sure to check out her “ubiquitous about page” and the balcony gardening category.
  • Monique has been food blogging since 2007, and her first recipe was a BLT-inspired chicken pot pie!
  • Shari is our first International participant!  Writing from down under, we cherish her voice in the swap because she brings the results of additional recipe challenges; the seasons are flipped from where most of us are blogging.
  • Jennifer‘s tag line says it all: Life is too short to eat bad food.  At her blog, Adventuresome Kitchen, you will find a passionate food-type, feeding her family amazing meals and living to blog about it.
  • The Cake Duchess.  The name says it all, and Lora’s recipes are rock solid, creative, decadent, inspiring.
  • Pola is a new blogger from Italy, transplanted to the cold Midwestern plains. After years of calling mom to check on cooking times and temperatures of family Italian recipes, she started writing them down. In the process, she is hoping to help new friends discover how to cook simple and authentic Italian food.
  • Mary is a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Peninsula and was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2007. Her search for a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie that didn’t taste, look or feel gluten-free inspired her blog and she’s been happily baking ever since.
  • Jamie blogs at Random Acts of Food and has a love for food that only an Italian could! She enjoys cooking and baking in all cuisines for her family and friends.
  • Crissy and Lauren are two recent college graduates who are embracing their passion for all things culinary in the smallest yellow kitchen that ever was.  Their balanced diet of equal parts savory and sweet helps them add a little zest to what they do best!
  • Claire blogs with Texas pride from Dallas. She loves chicken fingers, Law and Order SVU and is left handed.
  • Nay blogs about food at Spicy Living from Portland, Oregon, and joined in on the Lemon Cake swap.  She incorporated lavender and lemon into cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
  • Cindy, food lover, all-around awesome person and her knowledge about US restaurants is almost encyclopedic. Check out her quirky and fun blog.
  • Sabrina Modelle blogs at The Tomato Tart from the San Francisco bay area, and for her first swap (the Lemon Cake) she made a Brown Sugar Lemon Rosemary Cake with Rosemary Caramel.
  • Nicolle writes the joyful Rhythm of the Seasons from Boulder, Colorado and is looking forward to offering more recipes and menus as the spring, summer and harvest seasons heat up.
  • Linda is a saucy Texan with an encyclopedic knowledge of food. She’s published many cookbooks, won many awards, and has been the source of many belly laughs. When she’s not writing books, her latest creations can be found at Everybody Eats News.
  • Tricia is the founder of Pietopia, an annual pie contest that asks “What does your life taste like, in a pie?” and her beautiful work as an eating designer and blogger can be found at Eating Is Art.

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

Lavender Tea with Lemon Macarons – A Tea Party for a Cause

Lavender Tea with Lemon Macarons

The absolute best thing about my recent blogging endeavors – other than baking delicious things on a regular basis and then getting even more personal with them by photographing and writing about them – is online community sites like FoodBuzz that connect bakers and bloggers with fabulous causes and the companies that fund them.

This recipe was inspired by Kelly’s Tea Party for a Cause. “Electrolux and Kelly Ripa are proud to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund whose mission is to fund research to find a method of early detection and ultimately a cure for Ovarian Cancer. Electrolux has committed to donate $750,000 to this worthy cause.” (From Kelly Confidential website).

Ovarian cancer is a tricky one for us ladies.  The symptoms are mild and often mask as other non-cancer related issues.  There is no effective screening test.  And while science and early detection are improving the survival rate, this form of cancer is still a real and dangerous threat: “…ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women.  The National Cancer Institute estimates 21,850 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States in 2010 and about 13,580 women will die from the disease.”

I am a featured publisher on FoodBuzz, and for every Tea-Party recipe created by a featured publisher, FoodBuzz will donate $50 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund! Thank you, FoodBuzz! This recipe/post will also be eligible for FoodBuzz Top 9 Tea Party Takeover on Friday, March 25th, where 9 of the most delicious posts will be feature on the site.

Please go to Kelly Confidential, and take one minute to select your dresses and tea set for an online tea party! Every time you do so, Electolux will donate $1 to the cause.  This is a great thing to do with a little lady in your life!

Lavender Tea with Lemon Macarons

I’ve had a blast playing with recipes for this event, and when my fifth batch of French Macarons came together last night, I knew I wanted this to be my submission.  Laced with subtle lavender and tart lemon, these are the perfect little delicate treats to balance on dainty fingers and follow with a cup of tea. And they’re naturally gluten-free and dairy free (depending on the filling), so they’re a treat for those of us with food intolerance.

Now macarons are tricky.  This was my fifth and most successful try.  Check out my blog posts on A Cup of Macaron and French Macarons Take One for tips on what did not work and what improved dramatically.  What I’ll stress here is to let your egg-whites sit for at least 24 hours, covered with a paper towel, at room temperature.  This will help some of the water evaporate and the protein build.  Also, when whipping egg whites, start on low and increase the speed, and do not overwhip.  You want stiff peaks but a glossy batter.

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp dried lavender
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 drops yellow food coloring gel
  • Filling: I used a pre-made lemon curd from Ina Garten, but I suggest using her recipe if you have the extra time.  It’s spot on.  And I love her.

Directions

  • Pulse the almond flour and powdered sugar until blended, then sift twice to make sure all larger pieces of almond are separated out and the flour is blended well.
  • Add the lemon zest and lavender to the flour and set aside.
  • Pulse the white sugar in processor until very fine.
  • In the large bowl of a standing mixer or by hand, start whipping egg whites until foamy.
  • Add a pinch of cream of tartar, and whip until soft peaks form.
  • Reduce speed to low, and add the fine white sugar one tablespoon at a time.  When fully incorporated, increase speed to medium and then to high, and whip until stiff-peaked.  Timing varies on this, and this is where practice makes perfect.  Add your food coloring gel when almost completely done whipping.
  • Sift 1/3 of the flour into the egg and fold in completely.  Repeat until all the flour is incorporated.  You want to fold in until the batter is smooth, but still light.
  • Spoon into pastry bag fitted with a large tip (I use between 1/2 and 1 inch, depending on what I grab first).
  • Pipe 1 inch rounds onto parchment lined baking sheets, pulling the tip to the side so as to not leave a peak mark.  I use very thick sheets for this recipe.  Double up if needed.
  • Tap the pan somewhat assertively on the counter to remove any trapped air and help batter to settle.
  • Let sit for 1/2 – 2 hours, until a shell forms on the top and your finger pressed lightly doesn’t leave a mark.
  • Now, bakers are completely split on the right temperature for baking macarons.  Some bake slowly and cooly at 270-350 degrees.  I tried to keep my temperamental oven at around 300 for these, holding the door slightly ajar with a spoon.  This way I can keep them in longer to assure that the insides are cooked without browning them on top, which happened with a batch that was drier / baked higher.
  • Bake in fully preheated oven for 5 minutes, turn the pan, and bake for around 8 minutes more, or until the “feet” of the macaron are a bit sturdier than soft.
  • Cool on sheets for two minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely.
  • Fill with prepared lemon curd and refrigerate to harden.
  • Serve at room temperature with tea.  Preferably wearing a skirt.  Or at least barefoot.

Please click here to be directed to Kelly's Tea Party for a Cause

Pink Swan Cupcakes

Coconut Cupcakes with Pink Swan Icing

My roommate is a big movie buff, so she throws a (small) Oscar bash every year, and stylishly serves up food to go along with each nominated Best Picture.  To throw my contributions in, I made Irish Cream Filled Carob Cupcakes (for the Fighter, set in Massachusetts, which is all I could come up with) and these light and fluffy coconut cupcakes that I frosted pink and sprinkled with dried coconut, to elegantly mock the hot pink mess of a birthday cake that almost dies an early death in Black Swan.

Yes, the Oscars were two weekends ago already.  But I’ve been busy.  And I just finished watching the Fashion Police Oscar episode, which put me back in the mood to post these.  And I shamefully admit that, thanks to my roommate, I now watch that show when it’s left it on the DVR for me.  It’s probably the worst of the shows that I’ve picked up (infrequently) from living with her.  But they DID pick Natalie Portman as the “Best Dressed” of the night, so I can justify the “love” part of “love-hating” the show.

Oh, for the antithesis of my love for Natalie Portman in this film / in her Oscar dress and this pink, girly cupcakes, check out Black Swan Pie at Bittersweet Blog.

Now, these are completely gluten-free.  And I also made them completely dairy-free because I had some Earth Balance sticks in the fridge and was making a coconut cream frosting, so figured why add dairy in the mix if I didn’t need to?

I love gluten-free baking because it is relatively easy to play with ingredients and get a tasty result – the absence of gluten makes doughs tougher.  Which, yes, is what you DON’T want as an end result in certain recipes but which does give you more structure when experimenting.  The only reason I didn’t go completely vegan is because of how important eggs are when baking gluten-free: you’re already using a large amount of starch in the flour blend, so replacing eggs with potato starch and water (essentially that is what egg-replacer is) results in a grainy pastry that crumbles easily.  Rather simply to remedy when making a treat with, let’s say, almond butter or some sort of fat to help, but not so easy with cupcakes.

You could, of course, substitute regular flour in this recipe for the gluten-free mix, sugar for the xylitol and milk and butter for the non-dairy components.

Oh, and I based this recipe off one from Garret of Vanilla Garlic.  I must say, the specific technique produced a fluffy and delightfully almost chewy cupcake.  Paired with a rich coconut frosting that I played with until it was right, these were a hit.

Ingredients: Cakes

  • 12 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread at room temperature
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cup gluten-free flour (I used the high-protein mix)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup xantham gum, sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp xantham gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  • Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the coconut milk and vanilla in another
  • In a third, large bowl, cream the Earth Balance until fluffy, then add the sugar and xylitol and beat until smooth and fluffy
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between additions
  • Start with dry and end with dry.  That is, add 1/3 cup of the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated.  Then add 1/2 of the coconut milk and repeat until all ingredients are blended
  • Fill into 18 cupcake tins
  • Bake for 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
  • Cool completely before glazing

Ingredients: Coconut Glaze

  • 1 can of creme of coconut (different than coconut cream)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch

Directions

Now, I learned through this recipe that there is, indeed, a difference between coconut cream and cream of coconut.  I was thinking that I had bought coconut cream, which is essentially a thicker coconut milk, with a higher fat content.  When in fact I had bought cream of coconut, which is a gel-like liquid that’s been sweetened with sugar.  Not having time to go out and correct my mistake before guests came over, and recognizing that this was simply another dusty opportunity, I blended the ingredients together to produce a delightfully thick glaze.  Now, this is not a frosting I, as a person who has hypoglycemia, will eat because it is all sugar (as frostings tend to be).  But since the cakes were not particularly sweet, this was a perfect companion.  And the coconut flavor came out that much more so in the glaze and therefore brought it out in the cakes.  Success!

Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes (Perfect Roasted Potatoes)

Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes

Disclaimer:  I do not, actually, have a crush on my boyfriend’s friend, who we’ll call Ralph Macchio.  The real Ralph Macchio is on my mind because I want him to win the crap out of Dancing With the Stars next season – though I’ve never seen an episode.  But really.  The Karate Kid?! My Cousin Vinny?  Heck, he was even adorable on Ugly Betty!  Let’s go Macchio!

Anyway, the pseudo Ralph Macchio has excellent taste in colorful shirts.  And despite my incredible desire to be lazy on Sunday we enjoyed 90 minutes of YogaX together, where I melted into several Warrior series and cursed the phrase “Yoga Belly” before we went out in the rain for sake and sushi. Ralph can cook, and (possibly to appease my desire to have a partner in the kitchen) my boyfriend put us together a few weeks ago when he was visiting to make brunch for some friends.  And in single moment of delicious, crisp, buttery potato perfection, Ralph reminded me of the state of bliss potatoes reach when you’ve taken the time to par-boil them properly before roasting.

So I made them tonight to go along with Phat Tuesday dinner after a long day.  And my little sis wanted the recipe.  And so I reminded her that I have a blog for that purpose.  Then she remarked that my holiday header is gone… showing that she hasn’t actually been on this site since Christmas.

Family is awesome! Truly.  It was a delightful night of food and conversation, and sinfully crispy potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Yukon Gold or white potatoes per person
  • scarily delicious olive oil
  • freshly cracked sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • your combination of any of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, dried basil, dried oregano, white pepper, dried lemon etc.

Directions

  • Peel and cut your potatoes into wedges about 1 – 1 1/2 inches big.  While doing so, place a large pot of water on to boil with a good amount of salt (I used about a tablespoon) and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • When the water is at a good boil, drop potatoes in and cook about 5 minutes, until a fork just pierces into them but they’re still very firm.  Immediately strain and allow all water to fall off.
  • Coat a medium baking dish (I used a classic Pyrex glass dish) with about 3 Tbsp Olive Oil (one that rocks your world) and toss potatoes in to coat.
  • Add freshly cracked salt, pepper and seasonings to taste.  If you’re not sure what to try, I recommend grabbing a premixed spice blend – they’re easily available now and usually mixed pretty classic-ly.
  • Roast in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • Turn heat up to a broil and broil for 5-8 minutes until golden.

Eat the crap out of them.

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

It was a long weekend, full of way too much fun with good people and delicious food.  And at the end of an exhausting Sunday, where I had gotten drenched by the NYC rain too many times, sort-of enjoyed THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU and muscled my way through YogaX (the yoga version of P90X a visiting friend shames us by doing daily),  I wanted to “eat the crap out of some sushi”.

Enter Kamui Den.  The best thing about eating sushi there is that the sushi is not the best thing on the menu.  It is delicious – buttery soft with lots of ginger and mild wasabi on the site – but it’s the appetizers that win.  Lotus Root salad, picked vegetables, tempura so light you can see the texture of the vegetables before you bite into them.  And a simple cold asparagus salad that my boyfriend boldly proclaimed to be the best asparagus he’s ever had.

Thank god it’s a simple dish.  The boyfriend can’t cook to save his life (sadly I think that’s a completely true statement) but the visiting friend (Tim) is an extremely able man in the kitchen.  We agreed that the most likely way to replicate the dish is to flash boil the asparagus and then douse it in a cold water bath before drizzling on the simple sauce of lemon, oil, salt and pepper.  Tim also pointed out to salt the crap out of the water – literally, so that it tasted like the Arctic.  I knew it would help bring out the color of the asparagus, but didn’t know how much salt it takes to season vegetables in the boiling state.

This morning I hit the train to Connecticut and stopped by my brother’s place, where he left me some Brussels sprouts and asparagus in exchange for checking in on his cat (it’s sort of endearing that he knows leaving me his unused vegetables does really make it that much easier to get a favor out of me).  While my laziness enticed me to stick to my millet/lentil/get-my-tush-in-the-office plan, the desire to learn how to make this for someone I care about won over.

And it’s really simple.  Really.  As in, he can make it.

Maybe.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • salt (table salt for boiling and I used rock sea salt for flavoring)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice (fresh preferred)

Directions

Plain old asparagus, sorta green and full of potential

Trim the ends off of each spear and then cut in half, so that your pieces are about 3″ long.  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with a lot of salt… I estimate that I used about 2 tablespoons.  While waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice-water bath and make sure you have a colander ready.  When at a roiling boil, drop in asparagus and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, until the thickest spear is soft enough to easily pierce with a fork but the pieces still have a lot of firmness to them.

The vibrant green after boiling

Quickly drain and toss in the ice-water bath, swirling the asparagus to make sure they’re all submerged.

While the asparagus chills, whisk together 2 Tbsp very good virgin or extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, and freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the cold asparagus in and then drain as much of the oil off as possible.  Use excess oil for drizzling

Enjoy!

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

 

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

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