Tag Archives: fruit

I’ve Never Made Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Banana Bread This Delicious!

It’s been a long, long while since I’ve stuck a recipe up here.

But I want to make sure I remember this one, and that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Because it was so quick to make, and so delightfully easy, and so deliciously lovely, that I want to come back to this recipe every time. And so here we are. A sweet-but-not-too-sweet, moist, crunchy-crusted banana bread with fatty coconut and the spice of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg that rose and crackled and popped outta the pan.

Make and report back, please.

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Pro Pastry, Gluten Free: Frangipane and Chef Brooks Headley’s Quick Jam

It was August, and I hadn’t made a single pie.

I hadn’t made a single batch of ice cream or sorbet, either; but the cardinal sin was with the pie.

Pie is my favorite dessert. I make one for my birthday, or when I want to impress a man, or when a man I’ve impressed breaks my heart. And this summer I hadn’t made one. 

But then I saw huge stalks of rhubarb in my hometown grocers. Rhubarb that was far too girthy for its own good, and so late in the season that I couldn’t nearly call it “peak”. But rhubarb none the same. I also had some really beautiful black plums from a farmers market in NYC. And I had Brooks Headley’s Fancy Desserts on my brain.

It came out October 1st, but I had it mistakenly launching on my schedule on the 20th, so this little post is a touch late. Brooks had kindly sent it to me after we’d barely missed each other at a mutual friend’s restaurant anniversary party; a black-and-white copy with notes someone had scribbled on random pages.

Now, I’ve never worked with Brooks. I met him when he was celebrated as a 2013 Dessert Professionals Top Ten Pastry chef, where we’d been introduced by Niko of Dessertbuzz (that link is for the 2014 celebration, because I love the photo Niko took of me with my favorite sweet pea of a pastry chef, Ron Ben-Israel). I had planned to work with Brooks in my interview column, but first he was busy writing the book and then my column ended. I still have yet to work with him, as I’m saving up my “wanna work on…?” request for something meaty. But the book had landed magically in my mailbox after the post Brooks-is-walking-away-from-this-party email exchange.

And it’s f***ing awesome.

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{gluten-free} Maple Pear Galette for Two

Yesterday was one of the best days ever!

Being a freelancer and having a complicated chronic illness mean I’m often stressed about money, or restrictions because of the limits of my health, or both, as in a recent $634 bill for natural medication. But it also means I’m often forced to lay low, by my own discipline,my family forcing me or my body just shutting itself down. I had worked three full days in my family office and then gone out with some food media/publicity friends late into Wednesday night, meaning that Thursday had to be market a NOTHING! day in my calendar. Being Halloween, that NOTHING would include watching American Horror Story (!), buying cider from the corner store, avoiding going downtown, and catching up on some writing / blogging. Yes, writing and blogging aren’t doing nothing. But when I have space for them sandwiched by American Horror Story and rainy walks with Mitra, they’re relaxing, too.

So there I was, infuriated by my ancient computer’s incapability to work with me by loading pages and saving documents and such, when I threw up my hands, powered down and walked into the kitchen. Because freelancing and NOTHING also mean I can put my hands into (gluten-free) flour and slice fruit when I feel like it, dammit! Continue reading

Nutty Gluten-Free Peach Buckle for Four

Nutty Gluten-Free Peach Buckle for Four

Oh, summer, how bittersweet ’tis to lose thee!

I’ve been spending a good amount of time observing the shifting in the seasons, lately. I take Mitra out every morning and take in the weight of the clothes I’m adding on, the chill of the frost on the grass when I’m in my dad’s backyard, or the whip of the wind off of the Hudson River when I’m home in New York. I stare at how the sun blasts up the luminosity of green leaves while dozing in my hammock, and the first touches of gold as I drive the Merritt Parkway back to the city again. The shadows on the brick outside my building seem a tad muted, now, and I know soon there will be only trunks sketched on them, their branches bare and trembling.

But I love this time of year, the duality of it. At the local market the apples have taken their first sign of crispness and cold, while the peaches soften and bruise next to them. Last week I made a gingerbread cake with pears for a sunny social event, and I’ve already clipped my crop of herbs and stuck jars of gremolata in my freezer to get me through the winter.

But then… there are still peaches.

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Hurrican Irene Erosion – a Decadent Dairy-Free Dessert

Honeybun Ice Cream with Fruit Compote and Macarons

This dessert is incredibly happy-making.  Honeybun ice cream made with coconut milk, topped with stewed fruit and a French macaron – divine. It was the perfect conclusion to my FoodBuzz 24×24 Scarborough Fair Summer Supper Party.  Laced with lavender honey and infused with spearmint, it’s both sweet and refreshing at the same time.

Oh, and why is it named Hurricane Irene Erosion?  Because my lavish summer supper party poolside in Connecticut became a rainy dinner for seven in my apartment in NYC because of the impending doom of Irene that – gasp! – dropped a twig on my car.  Check out the post on the party.

The ice cream itself is incredibly creamy, silky smooth and just-sweet enough without being overbearing.  It’s made with a base of egg yolks and coconut milk tempered together to make a rich custard.  Sweetened only with honey and vanilla, it’s a healthy version of the classic for those of us with milk allergies.

The photos don’t quite do it justice – let’s just say if you make it you won’t be disappointed.

Oh, and the entire recipe is gluten and dairy free. 

I’m not going to put a macaron recipe up here – they’re not easy to make.  This was my first successful attempt after 5 failed tries.  It took my interviewing Jill Colonna of Mad About Macarons and a pastry class at Dessert Truck Works to get it right.  So I’ll let you explore those options if you want to tackle macarons, or suggest my Rosewater Lavender Shortbread.

Hurricane Irene Erosion

Ingredients: Ice Cream

  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 5 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup honey – split
  • 1 tsp gelatin

Directions:

  • Bring a pot of water to a simmer and place a large metal bowl on top in old-school double-boiler style.
  • Place coconut milk and vanilla in the bowl and heat until hot but not boiling.  When warm, add 1/2 cup of honey and whisk to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks.
  • Temper the eggs by whisking about 1/2 cup of the warm coconut milk into the egg yolks.  Make sure you whisk continually so that the eggs don’t clump.  Repeat two or three more times until the egg yolks come up to temperature, and then add the yolk mixture to the bowl of milk.  Whisk together over just-simmering water until the mixture thickens slightly.
  • Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it dissolve slightly, then continue to whisk until incorporated.
  • Remove mixture to cool and then refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
  • Make according to the directions of your ice cream maker, or pour into a wide pan and stir every half hour for about four hours. When the mixture is just coming together, swirl in the remaining honey so that it remains in streams in the ice cream. I used honey infused with lavender, which was quite delightful.

For the Fruit:

I used a pint of black plums and two ripe peaches.  I simply stewed them with a teaspoon of gelatin over medium heat until they boiled down a bit, then cooled them to gel.  When completely cool, I stirred in two tablespoons of fresh spearmint.

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

 

My (Broken) Heart in a Pie

(Broken) Heart Pie

Broken hearts are messy.  As is this (Broken) Heart Pie.  In my mind my submission for Pietopia’s friendly competition which asks “what does your life taste like, in a pie?” was a bit more elegant, a bit more pulled together.  But I guess that’s the thing about a broken heart in a dusty kitchen.  Things aren’t always going to come out the way you had hoped.  And that’s okay.  Just like I will be.

So, “what does my life taste like, in a pie?” 

Red fruits, lots of them; rich and luscious and sweet and syrupy.  Candied nuts.  Ginger.  Cinnamon.  Molasses.  Warm flavors.  All things ripe and sweet and full of color and bursting with love.  For as much as my heart is very much broken, it is still bursting with love.  Both for the person who broke it, and for myself.  I’ve never been in such a humbled position.

So, the creation.  I decided to cut myself some slack and not make homemade ginger molasses cookies, as I’m not in my apartment with my arsenal of tools.  I picked up a box of Ginger Cookies with Sliced Almonds from Pamela’s Products.  They’re very moist and gluten and dairy free, so all I had to do was crush them, mix them with about 3 Tbsp of melted unsalted butter, press into a pie plate and bake for a bit.  I should have bought two boxes, to make a fuller crust, or gotten off my tush and made a pie crust as I have dozens for times before.  But again, dusty.  So the crust only covers the bottom and slightly up the sides.

I guess this is more like a (Broken) Heart Cobbler.  Same difference.

The recipe for the filling is below, and I suggest your favorite sweet crust – using a ginger snap or molasses cookie seems to suit these fruits perfectly.  And because of the cookies I used this pie was gluten-free.  And had I used Earth Balance instead of the butter in the crust, it’d be dairy-free too.

While I only had a small bite of the final product, I can promise you this pie (cobbler, whatever), is very luscious, very sweet, and almost sanguine.  The cast* gobbled it down after our run-through tonight and seemed pleased, saying they were fortified with the fruit and nut combination, and it disappeared quickly.

I didn’t tell them the name: (Broken) Heart Pie.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh, sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries, whole
  • 1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cherries
  • 1/2 cup candied almonds (I used sweet cinnamon almonds roasted from Whole Foods, but here’s a solid recipe from Food.com).
  • 1/2 cup sugar, honey or some form of sweetener
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch, tapioca starch or arrowroot
  • 1 pie crust of choice

Directions

  • Prepare whichever pie crust you prefer, and blind-bake it (bake it without anything in it) until done.  Remove from heat while you prepare the filling.
  • Place the pitted cherries in a large, preferably non-stick pot or dutch oven.  Bring to medium heat and allow some of the cherry juices to reduce, around five minutes.
  • Add the raspberries and strawberries, and continue to cook until the mixture first bubbles with juice, and then begins to reduce, about 8 minutes.  You want the mixture to still have some juice, but not so much that it’s overwhelming the fruit.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Whisk together the sugar and starch, and pour over fruit.  Mix thoroughly until incorporated (if you’re using honey, add that first and mix in, and then the starch).
  • Return to low heat and continue stirring gently until the mixture thickens.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • When almost cool, stir in dried cherries and almonds.
  • Fill crust.
  • Set in the refrigerator until completely chilled before serving.

*Shameless plug: I’m performing in Enchanted April at the Hampton Theater Company, running from May 26th to June 12th in Quogue, New York.  If you’re near the Hamptons, please come check it out. It’s a darling show with a lot of heart, and some really challenging and fulfilling moments for me onstage.  And I’ll be selling garden shortbread cookies at the concessions.

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.

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

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Oh.  My.  Dog.

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes.

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

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

I am a pancake junky.

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

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

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