June 27, 2011

Blondies: Gluten-Free, grain-free

It’s so much fun to find recipes that taste like the real thing. It’s even more fun when they compete with the real thing.

I’ve been recently turned on to a site called Food52. Gorgeous photography, and plenty of dishes that I can modify for our needs, or make as-is. Last week, I made these Blondies.They are rich, carmelly, and purely decadent with good texture to boot. I didn’t even get to take a picture of the finished product because half the pan was gone before it had cooled off. Below is the original recipe from Food52, with my modifications noted.

Serves 20-25

    1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 9×13 pan with parchment. Make sure your eggs are out of the fridge/not-too-cold. Start by melting your butter (microwave is fine, but browning it on the stove is even better if that’s your thing). Let it sit off the heat to come to room temp while you do the following: Prep your mix-ins: Chop up your chocolate; toast your hazelnuts by heating them in a skillet until fragrant (5 minutes or so).
    2. Now mix your no-longer-hot butter and brown sugar vigorously with a whisk or spoon until evenly caramel-colored and smooth.
    3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing them in thoroughly. Stir in vanilla.
    4. Stir in both flours and the salt. I like to quickly blend the flours with each other at
    5. the top of the bowl before mixing them in to the wet ingredients below. Overmixing isn’t too much of an issue, but there’s no reason to go overboard. Once combined, dump in the chocolate, cherries, and hazelnuts and fold in to the batter until evenly distributed.
    6. Spread your thick batter evenly into your prepared pan, tapping it against the counter to get out any air bubbles. Now in to the oven for 30-40 minutes (depending on your desired gooeyness factor).Remove from oven and cool in pan. I like to pop the pan in the fridge if I need to cut them neatly. Slice yourself a square and enjoy!
May 3, 2011

Quick Spring Salad

Spring is not here in the Pacific Northwest. The calendar says it’s spring, and Whole Foods had a sale on organic strawberries ($1.99/lb!) from California. But spring, in the sense of the word, is not here.

I did pick up 4 pounds of strawberries from the sale though. And that means I had to figure out what to do with all of them. That wasn’t hard. At least half are eaten straight out of the container. The rest?

Salad. Yum.


Strawberry & Baby Romaine Spring Salad

  • Baby romaine (if you have lettuce beds that need thinning, these super baby thinnings work beautifully)
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Crumbled goat cheese
  • Blanched slivered almonds
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar (I used blackberry balsamic vinegar–your favorite balsamic will do)

I like to prepare this on individual salad plates for presentation (as you can see below, it’s a little less fancy in a bowl). Top salad with strawberries, cheese and almonds. Drizzle oil and vinegar for your dressing. Enjoy. Then have another, because it’s that good.

Strawberry & Baby Romaine Spring Salad

April 3, 2011

Gluten Free Samoas (Girl Scout Cookies)

I’m really excited about these cookies. They are out of this world good.

Gluten-Free Samoas

I can’t compare them to the real thing for you. My cookie of choice was the tagalong. My best comparison? Like a twix with coconut. Really, really good. And for the record, they were dairy-free too!

I’m fine with using various flours instead of a blend, but I really love Gluten Free Mama’s flour blends when I want something that tastes gluten-y and not the slightest bit healthy. The almond blend is my favorite.

This is her post on her blog for the Samoas recipe.

Below is her recipe with my tweaks.

Gluten Free Samoas

Basic Butter Cookie (You can use the recipe as a base for many cookies!)

2 cups Mama’s Almond or Coconut Blend Flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum

¾ cup butter, dairy free margarine, or Spectrum shortening, room temp
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg white (I haven’t tried this with egg replacer. Since it is only one egg white, I am tempted to try it.)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and xanthan gum.

In a mixing bowl (or stand mixer!), cream butter with sugar. Add vanilla and egg white. Mix well. With mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in flour mixture. Mix well.

Roll out dough on generously floured pastry mat to about ¼ inch thickness. Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter and cut out circles. (I used the rim of a cup–they were probably 3.5″) Cut out small circles about ½ inch diameter in the center of each round. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Allow to rest on baking sheet for 1 minute, then remove to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough.

GFM Tips: If you do not have a 2 inch round cookie cutter, look in your cupboards to find a glass cup that has a rim that is about 2 inches in diameter. Not everyone has a ½ inch cookie cutter, I am one of them. I used the round part of a icing tip to cut out perfect centers from my cookie rounds. Look around your kitchen and see what you can use.

Caramel and Coconut Topping:

3 cups coconut
Toast coconut in a 350 degree oven until evenly browned. Be sure to stir often to prevent burning. Using a food processor or coffee grinder, gently pulsate the coconut to make it ground into small pieces. Don’t over process.
(I bought a bag of organic unsweetened coconut that was already finely shredded for baking. Didn’t need to bother grinding. PS, the coconut browns quickly–either that, or I am easily sidetracked. When you forget it in the oven and start smelling a nutty flavor, run and take out your coconut. It will probably be perfect.)
Make a batch of your favorite caramel recipe

I made a mixture of maple syrup, water, and brown sugar and added 2T earth balance and soy milk. I need to hunt for the recipe I went off of for that…

Or…

1 bag of caramels (14-16oz)
2 Tbsp. milk or dairy free milk

Melt caramel with milk in microwave over 50% power for 1 minute at a time until caramel is melted and smooth. Add more milk if necessary.

Assembling the Cookie

Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

Carefully dip the top of the cookie into the caramel. Be careful not to burn the tips of your fingers. (I had little red finger tips after this. It was worth it.) Then proceed to press the caramel side of the cookie into the ground coconut. Place the cookie caramel side up onto the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookies. Allow cookies to rest until the caramel has set. Meanwhile, prepare the chocolate.

Chocolate Coating

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 1 cup semi-sweet and 1 cup bittersweet)
1 Tbsp. Spectrum shortening, optional (I used 2T Spectrum. If I had to do it again, I’d use probably 4T and see if that gave me a less gloppy consistency. I was looking for smoother. This has a lot to do with what kind of chocolate chips you are using though. We use a bulk dairy-free chocolate chip from PCC.)

Melt chocolate in a double boiler (I translated this to microwave :D). Stir often.

Gently dip the cookie side of the cookie into the chocolate. Place the cookie, caramel side down onto the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookies. Place cookies in refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes until chocolate is set. Turn cookies over. Fill a pastry bag with chocolate (Or be a lazy bum and convince yourself that it’s “artsy” to drizzle with a spoon so you don’t have to wash a pastry bag). Pipe chocolate strips across the top of the cookies, (caramel side up). Place in refrigerator to set the chocolate for about 15-20 minutes. Then enjoy

I think I got through the whole post without referring to these lovelies as Samosas, you know, the fried goodness that you order up as an appetizer at an Indian restaurant. Not a cookie. :)

March 19, 2011

Gluten Free Bread

If you’ve spent any amount of time searching through gluten free food blogs, you’ve no doubt read over at  Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. Up until now, I’ve read, drooled a little, and kicked around this idea about getting a food scale. I’m not sure why it is a big deal. Maybe I was hesitant because it might be another mediocre endeavor.

I already love this scale. It’s small and can be tucked away easily. I am certain she won’t be neglected.

The idea is brilliant and quite simple at the same time. Bake by weight not volume. This gives 1) accuracy and 2) ease of substitutions–which is an important thing in this allergy-ridden household. My scale was $14 dollars on Amazon. I further justified this endeavor by recognizing it’s dual calling as a postage scale–at least for the smaller stuff.

I’ve never been the accurate type when it comes to baking. It’s always usually worked out for me to wing it. I’m not sure if gluten free baking is just that finicky, or if I just don’t have the feel for what I should be looking for yet–but accuracy makes a difference. I’ve read in multiple books to never dip your measuring cup into a gluten free flour (they compact too much). Spoon them in. I never listened, unless a scoop happened to be in that flour jar already. If you weigh your flour instead, it doesn’t matter if you scoop or spoon. You can do whatever works best–today, that was a mixture of pouring, scooping, spooning and plopping (I was baking with a two year old after all).

I had to modify the process a little bit because this awesome toddler loves to dump ingredients, but without a helper I could have done this in warp speed. Digital scales have that lovely “tare” button, which means after I dump in one flour, I can press “tare” to zero it and measure the next flour right in that same bowl. I’m sold.

Today we made bread. Crusty bread.

.

It really does make a difference to let your yeast sit with the warm water and sugar. I always get better results than if I throw it in dry.


We decided on rolls. they bake faster. At that, I didn’t even have the patience to let them brown.

March 17, 2011

Odosketch

The Big is sick today. He has a yucky stomach virus that has been going around. I got some cuddle time in when he fell asleep on my lap while I was at the computer. He hasn’t napped (besides the random nap every month or so) for probably 9 months, so it’s clear he isn’t feeling well.

shoreline

What else am I going to do while “stuck” at the computer (totally torture, right?) besides browse blogs and pin stuff. I read a post about a virtual sketch site called Odosketch. Funny, I had just been lamenting about it being so long since I’ve painted. There’s nothing like working with the real stuff–that comfortable (read: toxic) smell of burnt umber and mineral spirits cannot be replaced. But this is better tn nothing. And it’s free! It’s hardly inspired not a masterpiece by any stretch, but it was fun. Click here to see how the drawing progressed (flash).

March 9, 2011

Kid-Friendly Tablecloth

I love our kitchen table. I’ve resisted covering it for a long time, but last week I had enough. The wood is porous and loves toddler messes. I don’t. I was at odds with my table.

Off to the craft store I went–straight to the back where they hide the oilcloth. The designs weren’t awesome, but I was going to do this now. Function over fashion. I’ll call it vintage.

I laid the oilcloth wrong side up on my circular table with some heavy items on top for weighting. Using a sharpie marker (nothing else would really take well to the backing) I traced the edges of the table. I cut the circle out about a half-inch out from my markings to give myself a seam allowance and some give. The last thing I wanted was for this to not fit.

Next I cut 3″ wide strips of oilcloth for the edges to turn this into a “cap.” I sewed these end to end until I had enough to go all the way around. Next step was pinning (right sides together, of course). And then seam ripping, because really the right sides were not together after all. And repining and sewing. Seam ripping is bad enough, but on oilcloth it punches little holes that you are trying to sew on top of so they don’t show through.

End Result:

It’s not perfect, but it works. And it wasn’t expensive. Maybe $12 in oilcloth (not on sale, this was an emergency!) and I have scraps left to play with. The best part is that it doesn’t slide around and can’t be pulled off from below.

March 7, 2011

Sweet & Sour Chicken

There must be a million gluten free cooking blogs out there. I can easily spend hours browsing recipes and go nowhere. When I find something new that works (and that I can get on the table), it’s a big deal in this house.

This week, I found Sweet & Sour Chicken over at Ginger Lemon Girl.  And yes, it’s breaded.

Sweet & Sour Chicken (gluten, dairy, egg, corn-free)

It’s not what you would get from a Chinese restaurant, but it’s good–and adaptable. For a corn-free version, I substituted tapioca starch in place of corn starch. It worked just fine.

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