Tag Archives: nut-free

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!

Royal Wedding Pear and Coriander Scones

Royal Pear and Coriander Scones

Are you excited about the Royal Wedding?!?!I can’t particularly say I am.  Of course I do regress to my little nine year old self with the idea of tiaras and fancy dresses and a gal becoming a princess.  But that excitement quickly turns to nausea as Kate is continually snubbed for being a “commoner” and the haughty opinions of the aristocracy are tossed about.  I don’t believe in hierarchy between people, especially as we’re all thrust into a body somewhere on earth in a crazy lottery devised by that-I-know-not.

But I’m aware of this event through a grapevine situation – my roommate his hosting some friends to watch the wedding this weekend.   To neutralize the enjoyment factor between their differing desires to watch the wedding they’re making a drinking game of it – I think the repeated usage of the word “commoner” is a dangerous one to commit to drinking with in this case, but to each her own!

And, of course, any event makes me think about… food.

So today I found myself with a little time and a desire to make scones.

Continue reading

Cookies for Jesus Christ (Superstar) and rehearsing life

Cross Cookies for Jesus Christ Superstar Benefit

Weeks like this I love my life so very much.  But weeks like this also wear me down to the point where I run to Starbucks (gasp) and order a caffeinated Americano (double gasp)!!!

I’m currently in rehearsals for two productions – a benefit of Jesus Christ Superstar that’s happening this Saturday benefiting Smith Street Stage and a play in the Hamptons I started on this week.  I also am running / ran to my family’s in CT to celebrate the Easter holiday and am covering some writing gigs / an interview for a new gig.

So obviously I had to spend one day in the kitchen cutting, baking, piping and flooding 75 cookies in the shape of crosses.  I mean, what else does a gal do when she’s got an insane week?

Oh, and I’m also returning to the city tonight to prep my gluten-free Portuguese masa bread dough to be baked Friday morning for Easter on Sunday and collecting ingredients to drive to the Lower East Side and make malasadas (Portuguese fried dough / donuts) for a party after the Superstar benefit Saturday eve.  That is, the dough will somehow be made between rehearsal and dressing for the event and they’ll be fried after… in a small black dress and very high shoes.

Like I said, love and coffee.

But for now I can take a deep breath and look out at the water from my view in this beautiful house I’m staying in while rehearsing out in Westhampton – my director’s house is really one of the most beautiful I’ve seen, with an overflowing vegetable garden, art from all over the world, old furniture and rugs and an incredible energy.  I can be thankful, and quiet for a bit, and reflect on how much fun it was to cut, pipe and flood all these cookies before sticking them into bags.  I didn’t get to letter them as I had wanted to, as I literally just ran out of time in my week.  But I’m satisfied.

No recipe to post today, just links and tips for cutout cookies.

Cross cookies bagged and ready to go

Cookie:

Classic Sugar Cookies Recipe from Saveur Magazine

Tips for successful cut-out sugar cookies:

  • Get your butter soft, but not completely at room temperature.  I usually microwave mine for about 30 seconds, turning halfway through, to get it soft.  Too warm and it will practically liquify.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.  Not long enough and they won’t provide enough structure when baking.
  • Only mix dough until incorporated.
  • Refrigerate.  I know sometimes dough is firm enough that you could just roll and cut, but this will change the texture when baking and contribute to loss of shape.
  • After cutting, stick back into the fridge on cookie sheets and let sit until the oven is hot.  Continue rolling and fridging successive sheets – don’t let them sit at room temperature.  Keeping the butter in the cookies cold prevents spreading when they’re baking.
  • Make sure your sheets are cold between rounds: I wash and stick mine in the freezer for a few.
  • Refrigerate dough for a little bit before rolling again.  The Saveur recipe is great at having you split the dough up into four disks instead of two, so you can always have something chilling while rolling something else.
  • This recipe made me 80 cookies about 4 inches high!

Piping and flooding makes for a smooth and hard surface

Icing Tips

I used a basic royal icing recipe with Meringue powder.  If you haven’t used meringue powder or powdered egg whites before, I highly recommend them.  They make getting a stiff but workable icing so much easier, with greater room for dusty mistakes!

I used a classic proportion of 4 cups of powdered sugar per 3 tablespoons of meringue powder.  I whipped them in my standing mixer and then added about 6 tablespoons of warm water.  At about 6 tablespoons it was perfect for piping.

  • Keep the icing covered in a towel between separating / changing consistency
  • Don’t worry about over or under watering – add more sugar or water as necessary
  • Always mix this thoroughly – when it comes to stiff peaks and has a glossy shine, it’s ready.  For me this took about 7 minutes on medium/high speed.
  • I found my piping texture to be a little looser than recipes I looked at – loose enough that it flowed too much out of a pastry bag.  So I used a paintbrush with ease, glopping some on and then spreading it around.  It set and dried smoothly.

Gluten-Free Pressed Lemon Butter Cookies

Gluten-free pressed lemon butter cookies

Today I am thankful for my Bialetti coffee maker, my mother, and Jeanne from The Art of Gluten-Free Baking.  My coffee maker because it makes delicious espresso that I can sit with for a few minutes, pretending it’s caffeinated and will give me more energy when it’s really decaf and I just love the way it tastes.  My mother because she gave me a cookie press for Christmas a few years ago that only today saw the light of day (other than when it was moved to this, its third home).  And Jeanne because I just stumbled on her blog and love it!  I only slightly changed her Pressed Butter Cookie recipe, using my own gluten-free flour blend and adding a little lemon to make it more of a tart Spring cookie.  Her site is incredible and her directions are so clear and helpful.  Until I come up with my own tips and techniques I’m just gonna keep sending people to her.  And she has chickens!  If you read my posts with any sort of regularity, you’ll understand my delight with anyone who has chickens (I’m dying to make a little NYC rooftop garden and have a few of my own!).

Lots of cookies!

At this very moment my kitchen is a mess.  Gluten-full cookies in the shapes of crosses are ready to receive dark black royal icing and letters etched into them for a benefit I’m in on Saturday.  And now these little melt-in-your-mouth babies are cooling alongside to be tenderly packaged.  I’m covered in flour, there’s no surface not covered with something.  And I’m out the door in about 20 minutes!

Dusty, dusty, dusty!

I’ve just concluded that there’s no way I’m going to frost all these cookies before I go.  The boyfriend doesn’t know this, but he’s learning how to pour royal icing tonight and we’re getting take-out!

Dusty cookies!

Notes: Now, as you can see from these pictures these cookies are incredibly delicate – so, so delicate.  I found that my thick, industrial cookie sheets didn’t work well – the shape was perfect but they crumbled when I removed them.  Thinner pans gave the cookies more hold but because of that they were a tad brown on bottom. I’m not sure how I’m going to fix this next time.  Suggestions?

Also, they came out better when the dough was cooler.  My press recommended keeping them at room temp but once I stuck the dough in the fridge for a bit, they pressed better.  And then I stuck the prepared pans in the fridge until the oven was ready for them , and their shape held much better.

Suggestions?

Gluten-Free Pressed Lemon Butter Cookies

Adapted with thanks from Jeanne at The Art of Gluten-Free Baking

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks (I see macarons coming with the whites!)
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 1/4 cups gluten-free flour (I used my gluten-free cookie flour.  Make sure yours has xanthan gum in it, and if not add 1 tsp xanthan gum)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Make sure your flours are whisked / sifted well and add xanthan gum if not included.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter until fluffy, then add sugar and cream together.
  • Add egg yolks, one at a time, and beat to incorporate.
  • Add lemon zest, extract and juice and beat in.
  • Add flour and slowly beat in, then increase speed until incorporated.
  • Fill cookie press and press onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake one sheet at a time for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.
  • Let cool on sheets completely before removing, gingerly, with a thin spatula.

The Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcakes – Gluten and Dairy free!

Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcakes

These cupcakes are amazing. I just wanted to start with that.  You can’t tell that they’re gluten AND dairy free.  My roommate’s eyes lit up when she took her first bite, and after her third she proclaimed it her favorite of my creations.  Even I am wowed by how good this cupcake is.  I can  confidently say this is the best gluten-free red velvet cupcake recipe.  AND the best dairy-free red velvet cupcake recipe.  There.  I said it.  But I should know.  I’ve eaten about 12 of these little guys.  Including two this morning, before breakfast.

Three things contributed as inspiration for the best gluten-free red velvet cupcake I have ever eaten.

Brainstorming first came when I online-met Kelli of Ingested Read.  I love her new blog, and her recipes are created for a specific book she’s pouring over.  I’m a big fan of this idea, and this blog.  So she opened up her site for guest-posts with Intercaketuality.  Brilliant.  I’m sending her a big high five across the pond.

I knew I wanted to make some sort of red-velvet cake.  In my gluten-free food crawl with a few friends I learned that the three bakeries in the city that boast gluten-free offerings disappointed our taste buds in the red-velvet department.  Either too dry or too moist, none contained that classic cocoa flavor.

A few months ago my cousin Daniella played Little Red Riding Hood in her high school production of Into the Woods and, as I predicted, was stellar, stealing the show.  In this musical version Little Red has a slight obsession with baked goods, eating all the bread and sweets she is supposed to take through the woods to granny.  Daniella herself is very allergic to dairy, so over the years we’ve commiserated at the dessert table as treats were passed around.

So when thinking about a new cake I wanted to work on, these three elements blended perfectly into The Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcake!

But a few challenges arose when making this both gluten and dairy free.

First, how to replicate cake flour?  According to my interweb research, cake flour is distinctive because (a) it is very finely milled, (b) it contains a low amount of protein which develops gluten and (c) it has a higher amount of starch as a result.  So, how to make a gluten-free version of cake flour, which obviously lacks gluten to begin with?

Several sites including Gluten-Free Bay, WikiHow and Gluten Free Naturally Blog use the same ingredients in the same proportions.

  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

I don’t really use potato starch, as it’s a nightshade and not good for people with arthritis and digestive issues, so instead I used arrowroot and crossed my fingers.  I also used 2 cups of brown rice flour and 1 of white rice flour, and sifted twice.  This worked wonderfully in the cake.  I’ll have it on hand from now on.

I then had to replace buttermilk with a non-dairy ingredient.  Normally I’d just use almond or soy milk, but as the consistency of buttermilk is a bit thicker and tangy, I had to improvise.  So I used tofutti sour cream and diluted it with unsweetened almond milk, then threw in a tablespoon of white vinegar.  It worked!

I can honestly say that this recipe is better than the two bakery ones we tried.  The cakes are that perfect combination of being both moist and crumbly – they’re not dry at all, so they won’t fall under the pressure of a fork.  The cocoa is definitely present, but in no way do they taste like chocolate.   And I cut back the sugar aspect by a half a cup and substituted with 1/8 a cup of light agave syrup.  I’m not at all a fan of using either of these things, but for experimentation purposes I had to go with it.

Vegan "cream cheese" frosting

For a frosting I whipped up a tofutti / Earth Balance spread from Mama Sophia’s Soul Kitchen.  It’s a very tasty recipe, tangy and sweet without being overpowering nor tasting like soy.  But as you can see in this picture, it’s more like a pretty, thick glaze.  It has a gorgeous sheen, but even when refrigerated overnight it was far too loose for piping.  So I glazed the minis with these and then found an incredibly light and fluffy vegan frosting that I whopped on the big guys.

Fluffy Vegan Frosting

The Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcake

Notes: Make sure you have all your ingredients are room temperature or slightly warm.  Make sure your oven is properly heated.  Don’t over-mix the dough when you’re stirring in the last batch of dry ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten-free cake flour
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 cup light agave syrup
  • 1 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp. red gel/paste food coloring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 rounded tablespoons Tofutti “sour cream” – at room temp
  • almond or soy milk (directions below)
  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp distilled white vinegar, separated
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Line 24 cupcake molds (I did an even 12 cupcakes and 24 minis)
  • Add Tofutti cream cheese to a liquid measuring cup and fill to just shy of one cup with almond or soy milk.  Whisk thoroughly with a fork until smooth.  Heat in microwave until warm but not hot.
  • Add 1 Tbsp white vinegar and stir in.
  • In a small bowl, whisk flour, cocoa and salt thoroughly.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix sugar, agave and oil thoroughly on medium speed until thoroughly combined.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions.
  • Add vanilla and coloring and mix in.
  • Turn speed down to low.  Add the flour in three additions, alternating with 1/2 of the “buttermilk”.  Make sure to mix thoroughly between additions.
  • Mix baking soda and remaining 2 tsps vinegar until foamy.  Add and beat for 10 seconds or until incorporated.
  • Bake for 14 minutes (small) or 22 minutes (large), rotating pan halfway through.
  • Cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing to cool on a rack, or cool completely in pans.
  • Definitely cool completely before frosting.

These can be kept in a refrigerator for 3 days in an airtight container.  Bring them down to room temperature before serving.

Gluten-Free Mochaccino Scones

Mochaccino Scones for Share Our Strength

I love having a reason to bake things other than that I just feel like baking.  Or eating.

My roommate works at the Food Network, and tomorrow they’re having an in-office bake sale to benefit Share Our Strength / No Kid Hungry as part of the GREAT AMERICAN BAKE SALE.  My roommate doesn’t really bake.

Hence this post.

I had to figure out something that could be made easily two days in advance since I was once again en transit after Tuesday.  And something that would fairly represent what I try to put in my pastries (or keep out of it) while still providing a pleasurable treat.

So I made a gluten and dairy free version of the Lemon Genmaicha scones I made last week, bumping up the lemon flavor in both the scone and the glaze and adding a few drops of the hazelnut extract I finally found at the NY Cake Company store downtown (if you’ve never been, go). Continue reading

Irish-Cream Filled Carob Cupcakes

Gluten-free Irish Cream Carob Cupcakes

Have I mentioned that I love St. Patrick’s Day?  Well, I LOVE St. Patrick’s Day! Hence the little green background that I’m sporting this month even though it really doesn’t work with the color scheme I’m playing with.  Which, if you stop on this site somewhat regularly (thank you, by the way!) you’ll notice keeps changing because I’m indecisive and not the best at settling on colors.  I painted my last bedroom four times and was still never satisfied.  Come to think of it, I change my mind all the time about online everything.  I used to edit my online dating profile every time I went on the darned thing.  Thank dog that I now have this site to obsess over instead and actually met the best man ever so I’m out of that world.  But maybe I’m getting a little too personal.  Back to St. Pat’s.

Every year I spend it feasting with friends, listening to good Irish punk music and drinking Guinness, which I rarely let myself do (I think the last one I had was during the World Cup in July).

This year I’m starting early, preparing some allergy-alternative options for the little shindig I’m hosting.  A few days ago I made Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread, which made me do a little happy dance.  And the other night my roommate had some friends over to watch the Oscars, which was the perfect time for me to play with an allergy-friendly alternative to the Irish Car Bomb Cupcake recipe I’ve made for the past few years.  I’m still going to make it for the pals who are coming over for St. Pat’s (in case any of you are reading this, I’m not only going to stuff you with healthier options), but frankly, I want a treat I can eat!

So this recipes uses carob instead of chocolate (primarily), gluten-free flour and can be made completely dairy-free by using butter flavored Earth Balance instead of the unsalted butter I used.  I’m still playing with sugar alternatives (I’m not a fan of using agave syrup and xylitol can be a bit rough on my stomach… the experimentation for this hypoglycemic continues!) so powdered sugar made its way into the frosting and organic sucanat into the cake.  The result was a dense carobey-chocolatey cupcake with a nice bang of whiskey to it.  The buttercream frosting is just delicious and overall the amount of sweetness between cake and frosting was in perfect balance for me.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, soy milk or Guinness (if you’re not worried about the gluten)
  • 9 Tbsp unsalted butter or butter-flavored Earth Balance
  • 2 Tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 cup carob or cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (another second cup from the first)
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour (I used the High Protein Blend from Rebecca Reilly)
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sucanat or brown sugar

For the filling:

  • 2/3 cup chocolate soy butter
  • 2 tsp instant coffee
  • 4 Tbsp Irish whiskey (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened milk (almond, soy, rice)

For the Frosting:

  • 14 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature (or butter flavored Earth Balance)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground instant coffee or espresso
  • 3 Tbsp Irish whiskey

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 20 cupcake tins with liners or use these nifty mini-pannetone liners I found at a baking supply store.  Using these will make your cupcakes a bit squat but they’re pretty when frosted and SO easy to use.  For the actual St. Pat’s party coming up, I’ll be using metallic green liners in regular tins.  Oh, what a fun world we play in!

Set a large saucepan over medium heat and add the 1 cup of milk-alternative or Guinness and butter, let butter melt and whisk together.  Whisking constantly, add coffee and whisk until dissolved.  Remove from heat and then slowly add carob or cocoa powder, and whisk together until completely incorporated.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, xantham gum and sugar.  In a second bowl, whip the eggs until light and foamy, and then add vanilla and 1 cup of almond milk or milk of choice.  Whip until creamy.

Slowly pour the egg/milk mixture into the chocolate mixture, whisking continually until well blended and no dark traces remain.

Fold in the flour mixture until just fully incorporated.  Fill cupcake liners equally, and bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove to cooling racks and cool for about 10 minutes before filling.

To make the filling, place all ingredients in a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Taste test – if the flavor of the whiskey is too strong for you, add a bit more soybutter and almond milk.  Put mixture in a pastry bag or one-gallon plastic bag and cut a small hole in one corner.  Make a small slice in each cupcake and fill with as much chocolate-whiskey frosting as you can!

For the frosting: Place the whiskey, vanilla and instant coffee in a medium bowl and whisk to dissolve the coffee.  Add the butter and, using a hand mixer, beat until smooth.  Progressively add the powdered sugar until fluffy and light.  Ice half of the cupcakes with this white icing, then add a few drops of green food coloring and beat to incorporate. Have fun decorating!  I used edible glitters – one opaque and one light green, and some coloring gels.  A small container of the glitter lasts FOREVER and creates a shimmery touch.  Fun fun.



Tapioca and Buckwheat Gluten-and-Dairy Free Crepe Batter

 

Savory Breakfast Crepes

Yesterday I woke and immediately started daydreaming about Sunday breakfast.   With all the writing and social networking that goes with my job(s), sometimes I just get cranky for time IN the actual kitchen.

Crepes.  I don’t know why, but I started daydreaming about crepes.  Filled with eggs and goat cheese and something bright colored to remind me what spring looked like.  Luckily I was only a few blocks from Whole Foods, where a bunch of gorgeous little tomatoes from Mexico found their way into my basket, along with some fresh cilantro and small Mexican champagne mangoes.  The sun was out, the air was warm, I walked home with my jacket unbuttoned and my raggedy hair blowing in the wind.  New Yorkers had a bit more of a spring to their step, and I didn’t realize at the time how this quick break from the cold would make smiles turn up a bit more on most of the lovely people I’d encounter in my day.

Anyway, back in the kitchen.  I had decided on using a little buckwheat – which is common in some crepe recipes but used sparingly as it can be a bit bitter – and tapioca flour to pull along with the eggs and soymilk I was using for the crepe batter.  A tiny bit of butter and salt, and that’s it!  I utilized the whipping strength of a blender and the ease of a non-stick skillet to aid in making sure that the eggs would be beaten light and fluffy and the crepes easy to flip.  When the first one actually WORKED I called my boyfriend to the stove, giddy like a school-child out the first day of holiday.  We delighted in a few seconds of cheery contentment, flipping gluten-and-dairy-free crepes onto a waiting pan while eggs slow-cooked nearby.

This recipe is quite simple, and quick, and with a little practice I soon had a stack of warm crepes that I filled with sauteed eggs and served with a guacamole-type mix and the freshly sliced champagne mangoes.

It was a good, good, good day.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup soy or unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp melted butter or olive oil

Directions

Whip eggs and milk of choice in blender until creamy and a bit fluffy (if you don’t have a blender you can use a standing or hand mixer, or just whip the heck out of them with a whisk).  Add the flours 1/3 a cup at a time, whipping thoroughly with each addition.  Add the melted butter or oil and salt and whip quickly to incorporate.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Hold skillet away from heat and let cool for 5 seconds, then pour enough batter in the center of the skillet, swirling quickly to cover the entire surface, until the bottom of the skillet is just covered with batter.  Return to heat and cook for 15-20 seconds or until the sides of the crepe start to curl.  Flip gently and cook on the other side another 20 seconds.  Remove to plate.  Repeat until you get a pretty stack of crepes!

Before I started cooking the crepes I had a second skillet going on low heat with melted butter, slowly stirred eggs, fresh cilantro, soft goat cheese and the skins of these tomatoes:

I then reserved the insides of them and mashed them with avocado, more cilantro, a squirt of fresh lemon juice (in the absence of lime) and some sea salt and pepper.  And then adorned the dish with the fresh champagne mangoes.  They’re a little tarter, firmer and less fibrous than regular mangoes.

While the tomatoes weren’t quite what I wanted (beautiful in color but still lacking that perfect summer tomato sweetness), it was a gorgeous dish, paired with orange juice and locally roasted coffee.  The perfect start to one of the best Sundays I’ve had in a long while.

 

Creamy egg-filled crepes with champagne mangoes, avocado and Mexican tomatoes

Gluten and Dairy-Free Irish Soda Bread

Back-story to this recipe: In a few weeks I’ll be hosting my annual St. Patrick’s Day party.  It started several years ago, when my boyfriend-at-the-time-now-best-friend moved in with me in Queens.  He’s from an Irish family (Ruark Michael Downey – you don’t get more Irish than that!) and I’d been to Ireland several times at that point.  What naturally followed was a succession of parties where we’d bring in a keg of Guinness, bottles of whiskey and Irish cream, and I’d make a full boiled dinner.  The second year I made lamb stew and corned beef and cabbage.  Subsequent years brought us to the point where we were making 9 corned beefs and I was whipping up car-bomb cupcakes by the several dozen.  We needed nothing more than good food, good booze and the company of our lovely friends.

This year I’m doing a bit of experimenting with gluten-and-dairy-free recipes to include with the traditional ones I’ll be presenting.  For this  I found the most traditional Irish Soda Bread recipe I could find, having discarded anything fancy and landing on one with thorough directions and a bit of history.

So, the Irish are famous for soda bread for two reasons: the abundance of soft wheat with a lower gluten content and the availability of fuel for home fires and therefore the ability to bake bread at whim.  Simple ingredients (flour, milk, salt and baking soda) create a quick bread that’s delicious with a bowl of thick stew or layered around cold meat.  Since you don’t want the gluten to develop (as you would with a harder wheat and yeast combo), this makes this bread perfect for a gluten-free version.  I tried to approximate the taste of flour I remember from my glutenous soda-bread days, so threw in some oat and quinoa flour with the bulky rice flour and starches.  And I soured unsweetened almond milk, hoping that the vinegar would produce the proper chemical reaction with the baking soda.

The result?  This bread is delicious!  Deceptively sweet, especially as it contains NO SUGAR.  And popping warm, it’s perfect with a touch of Irish butter.  I gave some to my friend Lynn and her boyfriend Griff, who’s from Ireland.  His response: “this is a very close approximation of the bread of my people”.  They gobbled them up.

For this go around I made 8 mini loafs from the recipe to cut down the baking time dramatically.  For St. Pat’s I’ll be making two full loaves along with a wheat-flour version.  I have a feeling the recipe is equally successful either way.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free whole-grain oat flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour / starch
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (optional – I did not use)
  • 8-10 oz buttermilk or soured milk of choice at room temperature (directions below)
  • 1/2 cup dried currants (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 45o degrees.  It should be fully preheated and nice and hot before you put the bread in.
  • Lightly flour a heavy baking sheet with gluten-free flour.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, sugar and baking soda.  Gather and sift again, so that the baking soda is fully dispersed.  Make a well in the center.
  • If using regular milk or milk alternative: measure one Tbsp white or red wine vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup.  Add enough milk to make 10 oz.  Use a fork to mix thoroughly.
  • Slowly pour about 8 oz of the milk into the well of flour, and quickly start blending with fork until it starts to pull together.  The mixture should be rather lumpy and on the drier side, but pulled together.  Add currants and fold in gently.  If too dry, add remaining milk until mixture pulls together.
  • Turn onto a slightly floured board and knead just until the dough is one, about 15 seconds / 6 kneads.  Don’t over knead.
  • Break dough into 8 balls, and press into slightly flat disks.  Using a sharp knife, cut a cross in each loaf about 1/3 into the dough.
  • Place in hot oven and bake 13 minutes, or until the tops are slightly brown.  If you tap on the bottom of  a loaf, it should sound hollow.  The dough in the center should be slightly soft though.
  • Cool before eating or enjoy warm with melted butter.

One-loaf Option: Shape into one loaf, slice the cross in, and bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then decrease heat to 400 degrees and bake for 25 minutes longer or until crisp on top and sounding hollow with a tap on the bottom.

Note: This recipe is dedicated to my lovely roommate, Erika.  She’s been working so much lately that she hasn’t been able to (in her opinion) contribute to the upkeep of our generally clean apartment.  So she paid someone to come in and wash and scrub everything, and we lounged in our immaculate living room, catching up.  And less than an hour later, I was in the kitchen… and it got a bit dusty.

Coriander Cinnamon Carob Candy

Coriander Cinnamon Carob Candy

Rustic.

That’s a word I’ve been throwing around my kitchen lately.  My ambitions with allergy-alternative baking are to make gorgeous treats just as delectable for those without sensitivities as those with, that are as appealing to the eyes as they are to the tastebuds.

But sometimes things just look…rustic.  They taste delicious but look a bit like the ugly duckling pre-swan-age.

This recipe is one such recipe.  I’m playing with molding carob powder with spices and fat into a hard candy that is satisfying and palatable for even the most sensitive stomachs.  Once again, this combination tastes delicious – with citrusy tangs of coriander and a cinnamon spice – but it took a while to get them to release easily from the molds.  Like the little engine, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can… but for now I’ll enjoy my “rustic” treats.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter) or unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground decaffinated coffee
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup coconut creme
  • 1 cup carob powder

Directions

  • Lightly grease mini-cupcake tins and dust heavily with cinnamon
  • Place a small pot on low heat and melt ghee or butter
  • Add 2 Tbsp cinnamon, coffee and coriander, and whisk to combine
  • Let sit on low heat for about 5 minutes to infuse
  • Slowly whisk in coconut creme, doing so until thoroughly combined and the mixture is a light brown with all the butter absorbed
  • Add carob, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking thoroughly with each addition.  By the second addition, the ghee may separate from the creme and start to lump with the carob: don’t sweat this.  It should absorb back into the final mixture, which should be rather lumpy.  The mixture should not be smooth like chocolate, but almost look like a big pile of used coffee grounds.
  • Use a scant tablespoon to fill each mold, and pat the tops down flat.
  • Heavily dust with two coats of cinnamon.
  • Refrigerate until hard, about 1 hour, then let sit for about five minutes to soften a tad.  Use a very thin knife to work around the mold and slowly ease candies from pan.  Dust with cinnamon.
  • Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
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