Tag Archives: gluten-free

The Ultimate Gluten-Dairy-Grain-Nut-Soy-Sugar-Free Carob Cake

I have a best friend. On here I call her Muffin.

Muffin has a history with illness; a much more storied, dangerous, and exacting one than mine. Our friendship began when our bodies were strong and our spirits unstoppable. We’re so thankful now that we were reckless, and lived dangerously and fully back then. Now we’re so careful, so precise, and so used to premeditating physical complications and energy black holes. This recipe is from her, and for her.

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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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Double Dark Chocolate Cake Truffles for my Valentines (gluten and dairy free!)

For my Valentines... love Jacqueline

Shy confessions, Bloggereaders,

  1. I can be accidentally romantic.
  2. I haven’t been single on Valentines day in over 10 years (Big Sis said, “cry me a river”).
  3. I am reluctantly thankful for cake pops.

Valentines Day is not a huge marker in my book.  For the majority of those 10+ years Ruark and I went in and out with celebrating depending, honestly, if we felt like it or not.  We had started dating when we were so young, and found plenty of moments to show each other how we felt.  And in general I’m not a big fan of commercially-fueled tokens.  Two years ago the man I was with was away for work and had his friend stop by with a huge bouquet at the theatre I was working at.  Last year new boyfriend and I had no plans until mid-morning, when he called where I was out of town working and sweetly said, “I’m thinking it’s Valentines Day and you’re my Valentine, so we should be together tonight”.   I trained it back to NYC.

So this year, being single, I’ve been more contemplative about the love in my life in general.  Not at all mournful, just reflective.  I have so much love, so many people I’m surrounded by who have full, generous hearts, that I feel more in love than ever.

Oh, the 3rd point up there?  A few months ago I had to develop a gluten-free recipe for Valentine Cake Pops for Easy Eats.  Two weeks ago I made 75 chocolate chip and lemon zest cake pops in the shape of Winnie the Pooh honey pots for a baby shower.  They were cute, but not as adorable as I’d wanted them to be for the mom-to-be.  And they took me eight hours! Lastly, for the first Milk Bar Mondays swap last week I made Carrot Cake Truffles, which are essentially cake balls (and one of my favorite super-sweet recipes).

In the beginning of this road with cake pops, I was often cursing, whining, or whinging.  But the result of all the frustration?

Moments of joy this morning as I deftly baked, blended, dipped, flipped and formed these truffles.  I had some cake I’d been experimenting with (a new flour blend), some leftover liquid cheesecake, some bags of chocolate and lots of fun things to toss truffles in.  I found myself smiling in the silence of my kitchen, thinking about those I’d be wrapping and gifting these for.  They look so cute all ribboned up.  And, they were actually pretty easy.  I enjoyed making them.

While made of cake, these truffles taste a bit more ganache-y because of how dark, rich and buttery they are.   I tossed them in ground walnuts, dark cocoa powder, raw cacao nibs, and some candy hearts I had leftover from the Easy Eats recipe.  It was a very romantic morning in my kitchen.  I was in love with the natural light pouring through my windows and my ancient camera that was snapping away.

I hope you have a lovely Valentines Day, Bloggerreaders.  But more than that, I wish you much peace, love and sweet, sweet life… always.

– Jacqueline

Freshly rolled truffles

Double Dark Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 30 truffles

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter-flavored Earth Balance
  • 10 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free flour (my blend was 1/3 cup brown rice and 1/3 cup tapioca starch plus 1/2 tsp xanthan gum)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup ground raw walnuts (optional)

For the Truffles:

  • About 4-6 Tbsp liquid cheesecake or prepared frosting of choice
  • 6oz dark chocolate (I used 70%)
  • Ground nuts, candies, cocoa powder, crushed cookies or cacao nibs for coating

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°
  • Grease an 8×8″ cake pan (I prefer glass)
  • In a small pot on medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in cocoa until smooth.  Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly while you continue.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat eggs on high until creamy, about 45 seconds.  Add the sugars and beat until thoroughly incorporated with no traces of sugar, 2-3 minutes.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly stream in butter/chocolate mixture.  Beat until incorporated.
  • Slowly add flour and salt.  Mix on low until incorporated.  Stir in walnuts.
  • Pour into pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out relatively clean.
  • Immediately turn out onto a baking sheet and break up into pieces.  Allow to cool completely.
  • When cool, return to standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Paddle on medium/low until completely broken up.  Add liquid cheesecake or frosting 1 Tbsp at a time, until the cake comes together and you can easily roll a piece into a firm ball without it falling apart.
  • Roll batter in quarter-sized balls, placing on cookie sheets lined with wax paper.  My batch made 30.
  • Place all toppings in bowls (shallower and wider the better).  Melt chocolate in the microwave, first for 1 minute, then stirring to melt completely, then for another 30 seconds if the chocolate isn’t smooth enough (it should be fluid but only warm to the touch).
  • Quickly use your fingers to lightly coat each ball in chocolate, then toss into topping bowls, up to three in each bowl.  Shake / lightly toss the truffles to coat completely, then return to wax paper-lined trays.  Repeat with remaining truffles until done.
  • Refrigerate at least 10 minutes before packaging.
  • Share with those you love.  Or freeze them and slowly eat them by yourself, one by one…

I heart you Bloggerreaders

Roasted Garlic Aubergine Spread (and an NYC story)

Roasted Aubergine Garlic Spread

Hello there friends,

I had one of those mornings that tougher NYCers would laugh at but that’s left me with a scrunched up feeling in my heart.

I awoke once again just feeling off.  Not full-blown sick, but really out of whack.   I muscled to the living room to do a low-key Qi Gong DVD, which definitely had me slowing down, centering, focusing, and returning to somewhat a manageable plane of energy.  I was feeling calmer, at least, and ready to tackle my morning.

Then the parking situation came.

In my neighborhood we have alternate side-street parking where you can’t park for 90 minute blocks certain days of the week so they can be cleaned.  It’s a fun little matrix I now know well.   It’s not rocket science (shout out to my friend Tim who is actually a rocket scientist), but takes some planning and moving your car quickly when the cleaning’s done on a street, so that you have a place before your time expires.

So at 10:05 I, feeling very grounded and quiet, took Mitra for a walk around the corner, stopping to tousle with her friends Scrabble and Checkers, before jumping in the car and pulling to a street a few blocks away.  There, a few cars were doubled-parked on the narrow one-way street.  Double parked!  It normally isn’t an issue, though, because they come and move their cars when the time changes.  So… you guessed it… 10:20 rolls around, usually when people are slipping in to park and waiting in their cars until go time (like yours truly and 3 other cars), and the squatters are no where to be seen.  10:30, nothing.  Two of the other cars want to park and leave, which is now creating a pileup of passing cars, including a school bus that can’t get through.  10:35, still those cars and now the legally parked people are waiting, having pulled onto the curb so people can pass.  By 10:38, I’ve dealt with plenty of yelling and honking people who are not happy.

So when the drivers finally come out, they’re met with grumpy people including me, who gives a lady an exasperated scrunch of the shoulders.  She fires immediately, “oh, I’m 3 minutes late, kill me!” to which I respond, “actually you’re 8 minutes late and have pissed off about 20 people” to which she responds as she walks to her car “ooh, 8 whole minutes, doesn’t something ever come up for you?  Welcome to New York baby, it happens” to which I go “I’ve been here ten years, no welcome necessary, it not an excuse to those 20 people backed up for you” to which she closes “I’ll tell my sick mother you said that”.

Scene.

I park my car and get out to start walking before she can follow in my direction.

To most NYers, no big deal, right?  Neither of us were obscene, and while she was yelling at my open window and looking very pissed off it was kept at that.  It was inconvenient, and even if only for 8 minutes, those two people were basically stating that their time was more valued than others.  But still, why did I have to engage? I usually assume that people are just having a bad day, or that something came up, and it’s only 8 minutes anyway.  What if her mother is really sick and she was dealing with something important?  What if she’s having a really low day and I made it lower?

I walked back into my building assessing my actions, not so much concerned at the severity of the situation – in reality it’s not that big a deal – but because I don’t want to present myself that way to the world. I don’t want to be a city-dweller who is insensitive to the fact that there are real people everywhere around me.  I want to act respectfully first and assertively second.

Maybe I’ll go leave a note on her car.  Just in case she actually cares.

So back inside, I make some coffee and start to work on this dish.  A purple-ribboned aubergine called out to me at the market.  I don’t normally eat eggplant (they’re a deadly nightshade vegetable and so not good for people with arthritic conditions) but in these cold winter NYC months I need smooth veggies, and lots of garlic, and my apartment smelling like cooking food and love.

To serve, I tried two ways.  First, by slicing a sweet long pepper and filling each half with half of the mixture.   And just because I wanted to see how it would taste as a munchie appetizer, I piped half into Tostito Scoops and topped with a bit of the chopped pepper.  I’m not a huge chip / snack fan, but had some leftover corn chips from our Superbowl gathering (um, yeah Giants!).  And when I do eat chips, they’re corn chips.

Already in my belly...

This plate?  Yeah, gone by the time I got to typing this sentence.

The spread is both incredibly savory with a huge waft of garlic, but also sweet in the aubergine and the roasted flavor that comes from cooking the garlic in this way.  It’s warm and filling without being heavy.  And so full of flavor for such a small list of ingredients.  I’m not a huge “party snack” fan, but this is definitely high on the list now.   And I now have the rest of the head saved for something else (why do I not roast garlic more?!).

And with that, I’m going to get to some real work today.  Cooking helps when mornings are cranky, and I’m fortunate to have set up my work lifestyle in such a way that I can go to the kitchen for an hour when I most need it.

Happy Thursday folks.

– Jacqueline

Roasted Aubergine Garlic Spread

Ingredients:

Warm, soft, roasted garlic

  • 1 small aubergine / eggplant, sliced thin
  • 1 entire head of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used fleur de sel and an awesome 5-spice pepper blend)
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Place sliced aubergine on a cooking sheet and rub with about 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.  Eggplants/aubergine absorb a lot of oil quickly, so don’t expect it to be coated like most vegetables.
  • Place about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a small ramekin.  Cut off the bottom / root part of the garlic bulb and place cut side down in ramekin, then place on cooking sheet.
  • Roast for about 30 minutes, flipping the aubergine halfway.  After 30 minutes, check to see if garlic is roasted by gently lifting slightly and pushing down on a clove: if it falls out easily, it’s done.  If not, cook entire tray another 8 minutes or so.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  • Place entire aubergine in a food processor or blender.  Pinch out the garlic, and add a few cloves to start (I added 5 and eventually worked my way up to 8 large cloves).  Add chickpea and about 2 Tbsp olive oil.  Start to process mixture, scraping down sides as necessary and swirling in my oil to moisten as needed.  Taste, then add salt and more garlic to your level of taste.  Puree until completely smooth.

Smooth, silky, creamy...

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!)

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!

How To Make Just 6 Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free)

6 Chocolate Chip Cookies... the whole batch.

When I first moved to NYC, I lived in Manhattan with three guys I graduated college with.  After that apartment, my boyfriend of the time lived with two other dudes down in Brooklyn, and I’d stay with them often.  For a while after that the boyfriend and I lived in Queens, and his brother crashed with us for a few months.  When I wasn’t home during those raucus years of my twenties, I’d be going from show to show with casts full of eager eaters.

The point of that little history: I always had someone around to eat the batches of sweets I whipped up.

But now I’m a single gal, and my roommate doesn’t contribute enough by far in helping me rid the apartment of all things that come out of my kitchen.  I pawn sweets off on my upstairs neighbors after walking our dogs, while we have a glass of wine or talk food (love the chefs in my building).  But what I don’t give away, I eat.  Which means no matter how few I eat, I still eat too many.  For someone who’s 5 foot 2 and has hypoglycemia and gains weight easily.

Sometimes you don’t need three dozen cookies staring at you while typing an article about Third Wave Feminism (after having come out of the kitchen barefoot and covered in flour)  or while watching Bored to Death or The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs (which you should be watching if you’re not…).  You just need a few.

So here’s how to do just that.  How to make just 6 gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.  That are rich, and sweet, with just enough chocolate and a boost of flax (both for fiber and to bind the cookies together since we’re not using eggs), and a bit of extra protein from some nuts (optional, of course).

When you don’t want a whole batch but are craving something sweet…

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dark or blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts, oatmeal etc.

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine flour, flax, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and smooth – about 2 minutes.

Add molasses and beat to combine.

Add the flour mixture in a beat on low until together.  Continue to beat on high for about 2 minutes.

Add the chocolate chips and nuts and beat in to combine.

Use your hands to proportion 6 cookies, and place evenly on cookie sheets, flattening slightly.

Bake for 18 minutes, cool slightly before serving.

Notes: make sure you beat this batter well so that the butter softens completely and the sugars dissolve in, otherwise your cookies will flatten horribly.  I used organic white sugar, which melts better than palm or sucanat in this recipe.

Carrot Cake Pops and A Buddy Birthday Blog

Happy Birthday to Ruark!

By the time this post goes live, I will be in the middle of no where in Vermont, most likely freezing and huddled over a campfire, stirring something warm and sweet.  My phone and computer will literally be held captive by my father in Connecticut.  And most likely I will have spent the weekend breathing deeply, doing yoga on boulders, racing ATVs through the trails, and watching my city pup scamper amongst the trees.

Meanwhile, back in New York City, my dear friend Ruark will be turning 31 years old.

I’ve known Ruark for 12 years now: for over 8 of those years we were an item.  In a stroke of divine blessing, we have remained incredibly close since breaking up 2 years ago when I chose to move to Cincinnati for a year to work, a split we both desired.  Because of the distance, we were able to comfort each other through the breakup, through my living in a new city, through our apartment being a tad emptier without me.  He visited me once out there, and every time I flew home (8 times I believe), I saw him.  His father lives in Cincinnati, and it was comforting to have this friend and father-figure so close by.

Ruark's 30th bday, 2010

We were tight with each other’s families:  I learned how to make scones from his father, pie crust from his Auntie, and his mother’s gingerbread is one of the best things I have ever tasted.  They gave me my Kitchenaid and countless beautiful platters and pie plates and tablecloths and things our 20-something selves couldn’t afford.  Ruark is an incredible cook, spotless in his technique, and between the two of us we ate very well and threw some incredible parties.  He makes one of the best meat sauces I have ever tasted.  We both still marvel at how much we love duck.

On top of that, Ruark and I have seen each other through so many ups and downs, one taking care of the other as needed.  To the point now that we still support each other in new relationships, in new work endeavors, and will drop any doubt or judgment when one of us says to the other “I just really need you to be my friend on this right now”.

Talk about lucky.

Whenever I come to Ruark with a revelation – in this case how I don’t really know how to relax anymore – he’ll usually point out, “Jax, you’ve always been this way.  Remember when…”.

When I first set eyes on him, my first few days in college, I knew our relationship would be something special.  But I never thought that over a decade later I could know someone so well, or love a friend so much.

Happy Birthday, Ruark.  You’re something beyond special.

– “Jabadine”

Carrot Cake Balls

This recipe is adapted from Best of the Best from New England Cookbook.  Eaters were a huge fan of the flavor, but the cake completely crumbled when I eased it from the pans.  Hence why one half was salvaged and given to my Poppa for his birthday and the other smushed into cake balls for Ruark’s.  Because of the crumbliness it worked well, but the high amount of oil wasn’t a huge yay factor for me.  I had thought white chocolate would be a better match (I can’t eat it so I don’t really know), but my roommate and Ruark both confirmed that dark would be the best way to go, grounding the sweetness in the cake itself.  I’m putting the recipe up as I think it’s a great one for experienced bakers to look at and adapt.  I hope if you make it you’ll come back with tips for me!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 whole eggs and 1 egg white, beaten well
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 recipe cream cheese frosting
  • dark and white chocolate for dipping, decorations as desired

Method:

Preheat oven to 325° and grease 2 9-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, mix vegetable oil and sugar and beat well on high, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and beat to combine.

Sift all dry ingredients, and add to the wet mixture.

Fold in the raisins and carrots.

Pour into pans and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cool completely, then mix with 1 cup vegan cream cheese frosting.  Leave in fridge overnight to chill.

When ready to assemble, roll into 1-inch balls and place on wax paper lined baking sheets.  Freeze for one hour to firm.

Melt chocolate slowly over a double boiler and quickly roll all cake balls in chocolate, setting back on sheets to firm.

Maple Ginger Cakes with Brown Butter Caramel – A Vintage Recipe Swap!

Maple Ginger Cakes - a Burwell General Store Recipe Swap!

This is a very special post for this little Dusty Baker.

One year ago, I started this blog.  I had been blogging on another site, which housed a wider range of aspects of the holistic health industry as I pulled out of another bout of Lyme Disease.  I wanted to focus on recipes, and writing, and how baking could connect me to other aspects of my art and to the art itself that is baking.  

Also one year ago, on the other side of the country, Christianna of Burwell General Store and Lindsay of Rosemarried started a recipe swap, comparing their takes on vintage recipes.  That group grew into an incredible community of food bloggers who monthly change at least 3 aspects of a recipe that Christianna sends to us, and then we all post at the same time and exchange blogging love.  I don’t quite remember if I found out about the swap from Lindsay or Toni over at Boulder Locavore – I found and fell in love with their blogs around the same time, in April of last year.  All I know is that I feel very fortunate to be a part of this little group.

These bloggers have become teachers, inspiring me by their personal focus in the food world, their varying levels of culinary expertise and their love for what they do, both in and out of the kitchen.  Through them I get to feel the seasons change all over the world (we have several overseas swappers!), and how that effects what we’re all making and how we’re nourishing our bodies.  I get little glimpses into the lives of passionate, creative and sometimes exhausted people.  All because of our shared love for food.

Burwell Swappers, you rock my world.  Happy Birthday to Christianna, Lindsay, Toni, Chef Dennis, Sabrina, Lora, Mari, Shari, Monique, Pola, Linda, Alli, Barb, Priya, Lana, Shumalia, Claire, Jamie, Jaclyn and Alex (did I miss anyone?!!?).  And welcome to the new swappers Eda, Julia and JoAnn who are contributing this month! Please click on the link at the bottom of this post to check out their contributions, read more about their blogs at the Burwell General Store and, if you’re the tweeting sort, follow our Burwell Swappers list on Twitter.

When sending us the recipe for this month, Christianna asked us to ponder where our lives have traveled this past year, what we’re thankful for and what we want to celebrate with this post.

It’s been an interesting year: at points I’ve had less money than I’ve had in my entire life and questioned my decision to not have a “boss” and to work only freelance.  I took on the responsibility of managing my family business, and continue to learn just what it means to be a boss.  Through this blog I’ve met some incredible people,  been asked to participate in live food events, and developed the voice that brought me to writing for the NYC food blog Bromography and now doing research and writing for Easy Eats, an incredible gluten-free digital magazine that as an eater I am very excited about and am particularly thrilled to be contributing to. I did a few shows, meeting insanely talented, big-hearted people.  I fell in love, then had my heart broken for the first time.  I got a dog!  Projects that I’ve dreamed of creating have come into reality.  I’ve met teachers who are so far above me in the food world, and seem to see some glimmer of potential in what I have to contribute.  I am still relatively healthy after my third bout of Lyme, and my family are all close by and well.  It’s been a weird, hard year, but I have so much to be thankful for.

So in celebrating the anniversary of my blog and the birthday of the Burwell General Store swap, I’m doing a Thanks-GiveAway!  For the month of November, I’ll be hosting discussions, comments, sharing the recipes of others and asking readers to follow the lovely bloggers who are the filling to my macarons.  And in thanks I’ll send a few readers each two copies of some of my favorite gluten-free cookbooks, one to keep for themselves and one to give as a holiday gift to a baker they love.  Along with a few of my favorite things.

For information on the giveaway, CLICK HERE.

Now, this month we were given a Maple Syrup Cake to swap, which overjoyed me as I love baking with maple syrup and go through jugs of the stuff far too often.  After last month’s Millet Coconut Breakfast Pudding  I decided I didn’t want to change too much of this recipe, I just wanted to make a really delicious gluten-free take on these cakes.

My first go-around I adapted the recipe by cutting the white sugar completely, substituting with my gluten-free flour blend and adding some chopped ginger.  I used 3 teaspoons of soda as gluten-free flour sometimes need the extra lift.  And I added some chopped candied ginger along with increased the amount of spices in the cake.  The cakes were so-so.  A bit to baking soda-y and not sweet enough, even for me.  And a little dry.

So the second go around I added back in a bit of the sugar (palm), even more ginger, and some pumpkin, to give a little extra moisture. I also made a quick caramel sauce to serve on top.

The result? Um, yum!! These are incredibly moist little cakes.  The pumpkin isn’t a feature as much as the ginger and spice, but it provides great body.  The texture of the candied ginger suits the soft cake perfectly.  These would be divine as a special breakfast treat, or made in regular cupcake tins and topped with pumpkin or cream cheese frosting.

Going on my list as one of my favorite cakes.  Thanks, again, Burwell Swappers.

Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday Burwell Swappers!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft
  • 1/3 cup palm sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 cup maple syrup (I used one from Vermont, which I love.  Always try to keep it as close to home as possible, and luckily that’s not a problem in New England)
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free cake flour with xanthan gum (if using a mix without xanthan gum, add 1 1/4 Tbsp to the flour)
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease and flour cake pan of choice.

In a small bowl, combine all dry ingredients up to ginger.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with whisk atatchment (or in bowl with hand mixer), beat butter and sugar until smooth.  Add pumpkin and continue to beat until combined.  Add maple syrup, and beat until smooth.

Alternate the flour and hot water, starting and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing on low, until all are incorporated, occassionally wiping down the sides of bowl.

Stir in the candied ginger.

Pour equally into prepared pans.  My cakes took 24 minutes to bake, a larger cake will take about 35.

For the brown butter caramel:

Brown 2 Tbsp unsalted butter on medium heat until golden.  Whisk in 2 Tbsp maple syrup and 1 Tbsp light brown sugar, and whisk until smooth.  Immediately pour over cakes and serve.



Coconut Milk Rice Pudding – Gluten and Dairy Free

Mmmmm... rice pudding...

Growing up, I’d come home from school to find a tray of little glasses filled with a creamy, sweet mixture, dusted with cinnamon and garnished with raisins, chilling in the fridge.  I knew, then, that my Avo, my Portuguese grandmother, was somewhere near by.  And I knew how much my father loved her rice pudding.   Avo learned everything by tradition: she gardened, plucked chickens, baked bread in a brick oven in her garage, and fed her 15 grandchildren and countless relatives at an endless table on holidays.  If I ever have half the skill of my Avo, I’ll be one happy, dusty baker.

That rice pudding looked so delicious.  This rice pudding tastes so delicious.  And I can eat it. Because it’s dairy-free!

A friend left New York City the other night to move back London, and shared her last meal in the states at my apartment: cheap and delicious Mexican food from up the block.  And before that meal, we had this for dessert.  She proclaimed it her favorite of any of my creations.  I always know I’m onto something when someone makes that statement.  I miss you horribly already, Mel.  And I don’t care who knows it!!!

This recipe is incredibly easy: gluten and dairy free, it contains only 2 tablespoons of maple syrup as sweetener.  It’s delicious warm from the stove, at room temperature or chilled.  A vanilla bean really adds incredible flavor to the small list of ingredients, so I highly recommend it instead of using vanilla extract.

Make it for people you love, please!

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons raisins
  • 1 Tbsp cachaca, dark rum, brandy or cognac
  • Scant 1/2 cup long grain white or arborio rice
  • Scant cup water
  • dash of salt
  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk (full fat and preferably organic)
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1 egg, beaten well

Method:

In a small bowl, soak raisins in alcohol and allow to sit while you prepare the pudding.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, toast rice until it becomes fragrant, about 4 minutes.

Add water and salt, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until absorbed, about 12 minutes.

Add 3/4 can of coconut milk, maple syrup and scraped vanilla bean and cook until almost fully absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Beat remaining coconut milk with the egg.  Pour over pudding.  Stir in raisins and alcohol.

Spoon into four glasses.  Serve warm, bring to room temperature or chill completely.

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