Tag Archives: vegan

{gluten-free, vegan} Dark Chocolate Lace Cookies

Every year I say I’m not gonna do any baking events during the holidays.

And then every year I do a few anyway. Because, like today, sometimes you can’t say “no” to making something sweet for a good cause. Continue reading

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, Vegan} Pumpkin Spice Donuts

 

Hello bloggereaders! I’ve missed the CRAP outta yah.  So much so that, yes, there as a “h” on the end of “ya” to prolong the sound of the word and therefore encapsulate my joy at getting to blog right now.

In a nutshell: sourcing for magazine, writing for diff magazine, shooting DB show, hanging with Meals on Wheels, managing family business, going to Chocolate Show.

Okay forget that, I’m tired after waiting for my internet to decide to work while watching Pan Am (it’s like a bad car crash, I just can’t look away… or plane crash, as it were).

Let’s just say I’ve missed blogging.  Because while I’ve been baking away I haven’t had any time to take photos (with my new lens – which now makes my camera completely old and completely manual and completely ah-MAZ-ing) or write up the recipes.

But I have still enjoyed reading YOUR blogs! And if there’s one thing I’m learning from the holidays approaching it’s to sit and have a breather now and then, to drink more water, watch my sweets, and to enjoy the little moments.  To give thanks.  Gracias to my life coach, Lindsay at Rosemarried and the murder-sprees on American Horror Story and Boardwalk Empire for reminding me of this lately.

Now, end of the rambling and onto the donuts.

Sometimes 1st time is a charm.  I didn’t quite believe that when making these so tried two more times, concluding that my first go was by far my favorite.  In each recipe I adjusted a bit here and there – kind and quantities of flours, amount of leveners etc.  I knew that:

  • I wanted them to be high in fiber / whole grain
  • I wanted them to be vegan
  • Obviously gluten free
  • Easy to assemble
  • I wanted them to be moist

Check, check, check, check, check.

I brought the batch upstairs to some neighbors: we all have dogs and now and then gather for walks, a glass of wine or some delicious food.  One is a private chef and the other is just really good with food, so they’re great to run recipes by.  The chef remarked that the flavor was “perfect, perfect, perfect”.  But he had no advice as to how to get them to taste chewier, like a real donut.  Because while these do taste amazing, the texture is more like a moist cake than a donut.  Making them gluten free and vegan… gonna be hard to get the chew.  I’m still working on it, but let’s just say that these are a delicious take on a classic donut.  Their guests noted that the pumpkin flavor was full throttle, the texture was soft, the flavor balance was perfect and they might even fare well after a day or two of drying out a bit.  I didn’t take any home with me – so they were a hit.

For this recipe:

I recommend having all ingredients at room temperature or slightly warm.  Like a basic cake recipe, you want the ingredients to meld slowly and not be shocked into expanding and then collapsing.

This recipe does NOT use xanthan gum.  I usually do, in everything.  But with this I found the absence of it made for a better texture given the amount of starch in the recipe already, as well as the flax, which also binds things together.

Teff is wonderfully high in protein and fiber and the world’s smallest grain so it’s extremely fine and works well in this kind of recipe.  If you can’t find teff flour, I’d suggest amaranth or quinoa – because of the moist pumpkin and spices, the flavors get absorbed well and give you all the punch-packing nutrients.

I tossed some in cinnamon and sugar, made quick glaze for others with almond milk, powdered sugar and nutmeg, brushed some with melted coconut oil and then dunked them in sugar… have fun.

Let me know what you think.  What’s your favorite gluten free donut recipe? I want to try it!

This pumpkin at my family’s home made me happy…

So I STOLE and MADE DONUTS OUTTA IT! Just kidding… I used the kind in a can… organic…

Pumpkin Spice Donuts

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 325°.  Lightly grease donut pan.

Whisk together in a small bowl:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch (or tapioca starch)
  • 1/4 cup teff flour
  • 1 Tbsp sweet rice flour (or sticky rice flour)
  • 1 Tbsp flax meal
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice

Whisk together in a large bowl:

  • 1/2 cup palm sugar (or white sugar)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil or canola oil
  • 3/4 cup almond milk, warm, with 1 1/2 tsp white vinegar

Whisk dry ingredients into wet until thoroughly combined.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until springy to the touch.

Blackcurrant Cream Cheese Frosting (vegan)

Vegan Blackcurrant "Cream Cheese" Frosting

I love this frosting.  I want to roll around in it.  I want to put it on steak, eggs, green vegetables and toast.  I want to give it a national holiday.

OK, those are all going way to far.  But it’s good.  It’s really good.

Smooth, creamy, pungent with currant, it’s my new favorite thing.

It’s not fluffy and not pipeable.  It makes a mess.  But I love it so much I don’t care.

Slather it on all things sweet, especially if they contain chocolate or heavy spice.

Maybe don’t put it on steak, eggs, green vegetables or toast.  Other than that, go batty.

Ingredients:

  • 1 8oz container Tofutti “cream cheese”
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter flavored Earth Balance
  • 2 Tbsp Toffuti “sour cream”
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted, plus more to taste
  • 3 Tbsp blackcurrant jam

Directions:

  • Beat “cream cheese” and Earth Balance until blended.
  • Add “sour cream” and beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add powdered sugar and beat until creamy and slightly fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add jam and continue to beat to desired consistency.

Variations:

  • Use strawberry or raspberry jam instead of currant.
  • If you don’t need to go vegan, use regular cream cheese and butter just colder than room temperature.
  • Instead of the sour cream, use milk (soy, almond or cow), or omit completely, depending on the consistency you desire.

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.

Fluffy Vegan Frosting


“I’m the most delicious gluten-and-dairy-free Red Velvet cupcake you’ll ever eat.  And now that I’m topped with light and fluffy vegan frosting, that’s so spreadable and pipeable, you’ll never wanna stop making me.  Kisses.”

– Cupake

I swear the cupcake insisted that I write that – I was completely at its mercy.  Maybe because I ate several of his fellows before changing frosting tips to see if I could pipe letters, which I did with ease.

The cake in this cupcake is truly divine – both moist but light, full of cocoa flavor but not too chocolatey.  Several friends who have no gluten or dairy problems could not tell that they are both, one even suggesting I match it up with a gluten-full cake and blind taste test some people for the fun of it.

Please try it, and tell me what you think.  I dubbed it Little Red Velvet Riding Hood Cupcake.  But if you just wanna call it Mmmmm, that’s okay too.  Recently I’ve been calling it “Oh my Dog!”, while it’s still in my mouth.

Now, the only reason I’m reposing this cupcake is because of the frosting issue.  The first I tried was lovely – a sweet vegan “cream cheese” frosting – but it came out more like a glaze, and no amount of whipping or refrigerating gave it a stiff enough consistency for me to pipe or even pile high.

So I tried a Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and BOY-OH was I happy!  Insanely easy and amazingly fluffy, the frosting stayed stiff enough to pipe with several different tips long after I had colored it and bagged it.  Because it’s made with vegan butter and shortening – which are obviously both vegetable-oil based – it whipped easily at any temperature and functioned well.

And the taste!  Like a classic butter-cream it tastes primarily like sugar and vanilla.  But unlike butter-cream it didn’t taste overpoweringly so.  The shortening gave it enough body so that the sugar content was slightly lower.  Don’t get me wrong – this is very sweet.  As someone who struggles with hypoglycemia, I did a decent job at staying away (after one cupcake of course!)  But it’s not going to overwhelm your taste buds nor distract from the cupcake you put it on.  And because of the light and fluffy consistency, it particularly matched the classy cake underneath it and would do as well with a rich chocolate – ooh, or banana!

Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

The recipe is from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  Click on the title above for their recipe.

This frosting is fluffy and easy to work with

This frosting is fluffy and easy to work with

Having fun with frosting

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.

Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes (Perfect Roasted Potatoes)

Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes

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

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Eat the crap out of them.

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe.

Ingredients

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

Directions

Plain old asparagus, sorta green and full of potential

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

The vibrant green after boiling

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

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

Enjoy!

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

 

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.

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