January 29, 2011

Flaxseed Brownies

Alex has been snacking on lots of soaked/dried almonds this week, as well as corn chips and salsa and rice krispie/marshmallow bowls.  But I thought he needed a homebaked treat and "chewy" brownies were his request.  I sent him out in the snow this morning and made a batch of flax seed brownies and hot cocoa.  They turned out so good!!   Really moist, on that edge between chewy and almost gooey and though they were super sweet for me since I'm not eating sugar all week they aren't sickeningly sweet.  After Alex nibbled on another two this evening I stashed them in the freezer so that he can have all the rest without them tempting me.  He loves gnawing on frozen baked goods and they'd be perfect rewarmed in the microwave and served hot with ice cream!

Update: I couldn't resist making a second batch sweetened with honey.  I used 1/4 cup of honey in place of the brown sugar and left out the water.  They needed to be baked a little longer (28-30 minutes) but were wonderful.   Ideally, I'll try these in the future using unsweetened chocolate and with a little more honey to make them completely refined sugar free. -Maggie (1-30-11)

Flaxseed Brownies
Based on a recipe I made ages ago and can't find online anymore and these brownies, which are made with buckwheat and sweetened with honey. I would love to try this recipe with honey.  When I do I plan on trying it with only 1/4 cup of honey in place of the 1/3 cup brown sugar. Maybe next week...
Makes one 9-inch square pan (9-12 brownies)

3 ounces (~6 tablespoons) coconut oil
4 ounces (~2/3 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup almond meal
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and line a 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper (or grease and dust the pan with almond meal.)
-Microwave the coconut oil and chocolate together for 30 second increments (1:30 usually does it) until the chocolate is melted.  Or you could get out a double boiler and melt the two together that way.  Mix the oil and chocolate together and set aside to cool slightly.
-Mix together the flax meal, almond meal, cocoa, salt, and baking soda, a whisk is the best tool for this job.  Set aside.
-Add the brown sugar to the oil/chocolate and whisk in.  Add in the eggs one at a time and mix well.  Add the vanilla and hot water and whisk until smooth.
-Add your dry ingredients to your wet and stir until combined.  Pour into the prepped pan.
-Bake for 22-28, until a toothpick test gives you just a few crumbs clinging.
-Cool 10 minutes, slice and serve.


Wheat free, week four

Week four was ridiculously easy to do wheat free.  After my minor sugar indulgence last Sunday I found it very easy to resist the rice and sweets during this week and bread barely crossed my mind.  At every meal I've tried to increase the amount of vegetables so I felt full and I ate some 85% dark chocolate most days.  The big problem with the chocolate is that it may be too much caffeine for me to handle in the evenings.  At least one night this week I could not fall asleep!  So yesterday I made up a batch of these Magic Lemon Bars to give myself a lower sugar alternative treat without any caffeine.  They were delicious and I slept quite well!  The matching Magic Lemon Puddings are next on my agenda.

Big this week were egg foo young omelets.  With the seed catalogs filling my mailbox and dreams, I'm itching to plant something-- anything!!  And the best thing to grow this time of year is sprouts.  Mung bean sprouts with pink shrimp and local eggs make the best egg foo young.  I forgo the guilt-inducing gravy and instead add a splash of wheat-free tamari on top.  I'd like to post the recipe but as tasty as these are there isn't much I've found I can do to make them not look like something my cat threw up.  I do have a treat made today to post but we'll just have to see how long this nap of Penny's lasts.  Until then, here are some pictures from this week.
 It's been cold here and everyone needs to snuggle together, Fritz and Perfect
And Nelson and Penny
I found the cutest bibs on Etsy, went to take a picture of Penny in one and she made such a face!
Alex said it was her "Queen Elizabeth face" which had us cracking up.  At least some history is sinking in!
A much more flattering shot

January 27, 2011

DB Entremets with Patterned Biscuit Joconde

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

This month's Daring Baker challenge was an exceptionally fun one.  I've wanted to try making patterned joconde, almond sponge cake, since I saw this Love Cake last year.  How cool is it to decorate a cake, WITH cake!  Alas with the wheat free restriction I put myself on for this month and the fact that I was generally steering clear of all grains and sugars, I couldn't revel in the challenge as much as I'd like.

To not tempt myself too much, I made a third of a batch for just a few small individual entremets.  There is so little wheat flour in both the decor paste and the joconde especially in proportion to the amount of eggs involved so I didn't worry too much about the type of flour I replaced it with.  For the joconde I used 2/3 tapioca starch and 1/3 sweet rice flour and I used all tapioca starch for the decor paste.  In place of the melted butter, I used a little Earth Balance margarine. Otherwise these recipes didn't need to be messed with.  To make my pattern I cut a few notches in a piece of cardboard and used it to create diagonal stripes.  I ended up with enough decor paste to prep two sheet pans but only enough joconde batter for one pan.  Well, it turns the decor paste out is pretty much the same as tuile batter so I baked off the second pan to make cookie sticks for decoration.  Both the joconde and the tuile sticks needed significantly less time than the recipe calls for, ~ 5 minutes for the joconde and a little less for the tuiles.  I think I spread it thinner than it was supposed to be and that would account for my altered baking time.

For my fillings, I wanted to go as nutrient dense as possible to not completely blow my plan for the month.  I made this avocado pudding and combined it with soaked cashew creme sweetened with maple syrup. For some texture I soaked/dehydrated/toasted pecans and coated them in chocolate.  I couldn't quite sell Alex on the pudding, though Penny liked it.  So I filled one of the entremets with Alex's new favorite ice cream and a couple of layers of chocolate coated pecans.

In all, this was a fun technique to try out.  Even though I felt a little heady from the sugar in the joconde it was a very tasty cake and so easy to work with.  The possiblities for decorating full sized cakes and making little entremets are endless!  And Alex especially liked the chocolate tuile sticks I made from the decor paste-- perhaps some chocolate ice cream cones should be in his future.  Thanks for the great challenge Astheroshe!
-Check out our host Astheroshe on her blog, accro.  She has the complete recipe along with her spumoni inspired fillings, HERE.  See above for my wheat-free/dairy-free adaptations.
-I filled my entremets with this avocado pudding from Jenn, The Leftover Queen
-I didn't use a recipe for the cashew creme.  I just took well soaked cashews and blended them with a little water and a touch of maple syrup and vanilla extract until they were whipped.
-For a fun example of this technique see Gesine Bullock-Prado's Love Cake.  I really loved her book, Confections of a Closet Master Baker.  It's a must read for food lit lovers of the baking persuasion.  And she has a new cookbook called Sugar Baby due out in April, which looks very cool.
-As always, if you'd like to join in the baking fun visit the Daring Kitchen and look to the Daring Baker Blogroll for other examples of this technique.

The decor paste, decor covered in joconde batter, baked patterned joconde before flipping to reveil the pattern and after
Patterned joconde lined molds
Alex's ice cream filled entremet
His new favorite ice cream, Almond Dream Praline Crunch

January 22, 2011

Wheat free, week three

Another week went by and not only did I resist wheat's siren song but I also found it much easier to limit my other grains, rice and oats.  Big this week were kale snackers, more soaked and dehydrated nuts, smoothies combining coconut milk and coconut milk kefir and the favorite for this week-- this celery soup.   I feel that soup had a doctrine of signatures like association with the snowy weather that was very soothing to my soul.  I snatched up a couple more celeriac roots at the co-op this morning to make more and this time I'm getting my share before John gets to it.

But in spite of those triumphs, this week will henceforth be renamed "The Backlash of the Dried Pineapple" because of how sore my mouth was all week after overindulging in the fruit last weekend.  By Monday I was regretting it greatly and it took all week to feel completely better.  I've portioned out the rest of the bag and vacuum sealed them to protect myself.

I was better enough to enjoy a mystery package that arrived Friday from Alexia Foods and Foodbuzz.  The box contained a cute black apron and a coupon for a free Alexia product.  Though I do make my own sweet potato fries, Alex especially likes the crisp, thin-cut version Alexia makes and they are wheat-free to boot.  So today we had them for lunch with some almond crusted baked cod nuggets.  A delicious combo, thanks Alexia!

Almond-crusted Cod Nuggets
Makes 3 generous servings

Heat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, spray or grease with oil.  Take two pie plates.  Fill one with ~1 1/2 cups whole almond meal + 2 teaspoons dried lemon thyme and 1 teaspoon salt and stir to mix.  Beat 1 egg in the other pie plate.  Separate and cut into equal sized pieces, 1 pound Alaskan cod (or other firm white fish), toss the pieces in the egg and then coat each piece in almond meal.  Lay out the pieces on the baking sheet, spaced evenly.  Bake for 10-15 minutes and remove when cooked through.

Alex in the Alexia apron, it says "I rewrite the recipe book"
Visit Alexia on their Facebook page, like them and vote on the newest fry to get a $1 off coupon

January 20, 2011

Kale Snackers

Here's my take on Cheezy Earth Chips.  The orginal is great but I knew they could be easy to make and I thought it could use a little less coating and less intense yeast flavor.  I playing with the ingredient list, tweaked and found the flavor I liked best.

I used Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos to make them soy free but soy sauce or wheat-free tamari would work as well.  You may have to adjust the amount because I find the coconut aminos are less salty than even low sodium soy sauce.  Really I suggest tasting the coating before you dress your kale and adjusting to your taste.  This is a guideline recipe nothing hard and fast.  I just wish I had these back in college when I did awful things to industrial sized containers of goldfish crackers.  *shudder*

Kale Snackers
Makes 2-4 servings

2 bunches kale (lacinato/dinosaur works best)
4 tablespoons raw cashew butter
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or slightly less soy sauce or tamari)
1/4 teaspoon dehydrated garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or a good pinch of cayenne pepper)
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt

-Remove the thick part of the stems from the kale and tear into large pieces.  Rinse well and spin or pat as dry as possible.
-In a large mixing bowl stir together the cashew butter, yeast, aminos, garlic, tumeric and pepper.
-Add the dried kale leaves and scrunch around with your hands to get them evenly coated.  Don't worry about crushing the kale too much.  It'll smash down some but dehydrate fine.
-Spread the coated kale on your dehydrator sheets in a fairly thin layer.  If you let it double up it will be fine but produce a thicker chip and take longer to dry.  Sprinkle over the flaky sea salt. 
-Dehydrate at 112 degrees F for 7 hours or 125 degrees F for 2-3 hours.  I haven't yet tried these in the oven, let me know if you do. 

I'm going to try a honey mustard version next.  Or maybe since I have the dehydrator out I'll whip up some BBQ Flax Crackers.

January 18, 2011

Maple-Rosemary Fried Apples

The jar of dried rosemary was still next to cutting board when I went to fry up some apples for dessert that came in my 9 Bean Rows CSA share today.  Then a miracle happened and Penny fell asleep early, let's pray that she stays down for the night.  So here's another entry for this month's Spice Rack Challenge from Mother's Kitchen.

Maple-Rosemary Fried Apples
Makes ~ 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)
2 large apples, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks (my apples were Ida Reds)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon maple syrup
pinch salt

-Heat a cast iron skillet and after it is good and hot melt the coconut oil (or butter) in it.  Add the apples and toss to coat with the oil.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until they start to get golden brown.
-Add the cinnamon, crumbled dried rosemary, maple syrup and a tiny pinch of salt.  Toss to coat and continue heating until you get the fragrance of the cinnamon and rosemary and the apples are done to your likeness.
-Good served alone but could be better sprinkled with almonds or as a side with pork or chicken.  Obviously ice cream would be a perfect accompaniment. 

Laughing Penny with a Rice Krispy on her nose

Creamless Celery Soup with Rosemary

I usually kill rosemary plants when I try to overwinter them and have in past few years chosen not to fight it and treat the plant in the garden like an annual.  I do try and remember to dry a big bunch so that it doesn't go to waste so I was all ready for this month's Spice Rack Challenge from Mother's Kitchen.

The weather combined with going lower carb and wheat free has me craving soup.  In addition, the local chickens at our co-op Oryana are HUGE, +7lbs!! and I have been butchering the whole birds I buy myself to make them stretch into at least three meals.  This creates a lot of chicken carcasses that are helping me replenish my freezer stash of stock.

Celery soup with rosemary seemed a great pair since celery is a vegetable that has an assertive enough flavor to stand up to the resinous quality of rosemary.  No real cow's milk cream in our house right now so I "creamed" my soup with celeriac, the tasty root version of celery.  I thought it was fantastic and John (a noted celery hater) liked it a lot, which must be due to the Mediterranean influence of the rosemary.  Penny liked it as well but Alex was on the fence.  He's getting to be quite the picky one lately.

Creamless Celery Soup with Rosemary
Makes 4-6 servings

1 large leek
1 large celery root (celeriac)
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons crumbled dried rosemary, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
6-8 cups good stock (chicken or vegetable)
6 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
salt and pepper (white pepper preferably) 

-Remove the greens from the leeks and save for stock making.  Dice the leeks and rinse and drain.  If the leek is especially sandy then repeat the rinsing a few times.  Peel and slice the garlic.  Peel and dice the celeriac into 1/2 inch cubes.
-Cook the leek, garlic and celeriac in the olive oil along with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the rosemary over medium heat in a medium soup pot.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the leeks are limp.
-Add 6 cups of the stock to the vegetables and bring to a strong simmer.  Simmer for around 20 minutes until the celery root is cooked through.
-Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth.  Use caution when pureeing hot liquids, this will probably need to be done in at least two batches.  If you own a immersion blender, you can puree the soup in the pot. 
-Return the soup to the pot and add the chopped celery and celery leaves.   Add more stock if needed to get your desired thickness.   Bring to a simmer and cook for around 10 minutes until the celery is tender. 
-Crumble the final 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary into the soup and check for seasoning, add more salt and pepper as needed.  Serve hot.

Anyone else notice that there have been way too many dog pictures here lately?
Abbie is on house arrest after disappearing for 10 days before Thanksgiving.  We were sure she had been gobbled up by a coyote!  So far she hasn't protested too much but will probably give us trouble when the snow is gone.

January 15, 2011

Wheat free, week two

Week two of my wheat free January went smoothly.  I haven't done any baking yet this week but did indulge some of my starch cravings and had some homemade fried rice and some oatmeal.  So I ate some grains but only at a few meals.  The big success this week was coconut curry beef from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook.  Since I can't do chiles while nursing I left out the chili flakes and tripled the fresh ginger.  I also didn't have carrots and instead added sweet potatoes from our 9 Bean Rows share.  It was fantastic!

For snacking, I made a couple batches of soaked, rinsed and dehydrated walnuts and pecans.  I can't decide if I like a final soak in salted water or not.  I also got two new ingredients to play with: unsweetened dried pineapple, which taste crazy sweet after having almost no sugar for these past two weeks and some date paste, which I'm interested in trying out as a sweetener in baked goods.  Will date paste work better than date sugar?

Since we're getting a fresh load of snow this weekend here are some kid picts.  This past week Penny has been really liking turnips.  She ate them eagerly from beef soup as well as some plain boiled ones.  So I decided to take my chances with my cloth diapers and made her some beet cubes to eat.  They weren't quite the hit the turnips were but still well received.  She's getting teeth all over the place now.  She has a lower incisor fully sprouted and it's adjacent tooth broken through.  Then I noticed on top she has both her lateral incisors broken through even though the central ones aren't coming in yet.
Penny showing off her tooth
Alex consented to a haircut this week.  I had no luck getting him to smile nicely for the camera though.

P.S. Is anyone else as tremendously thrilled that Carla is doing so well on Top Chef? I thought I'd be rooting for Richard or maybe even Marcel just to be contrary but I'm completely on Team Carla now. This lettuce wrap recipe is so brillant, Hooty Hoo!

Sausage and Greens Soup

Sausage and Greens Soup
I started making this variation on quick sausage soup last fall. I think it is best with turnip greens but kale, collards, Chinese cabbage and even radish tops all work well.  The key is freshly crushed anise seed that you toast in the fat rendered from the sausage.
Makes 4-6 servings

1 to 1 1/2 pounds pork sausage, I use the links from Gallagher's Centennial Farm
2 teaspoons crushed anise seed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 bunches (~1/2 pound) greens, chopped
2 quarts vegetable stock (or water and two vegetable bouillon cubes)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

-Heat up a medium soup pot.
-Use a clean pair of kitchen scissors and snip the sausage into 1/2 inch slices directly into the hot pot.  Brown the sausage well.
-Add the anise seed and a few grinds of black pepper, I crush whole seeds in a mortar and pestle right before using. Stir to toast until the anise is fragrant.
-Add the crumbled sage, onion, celery and a good pinch of salt.  Cook until the vegetables have softened.
-Add the greens and stir until they wilt down some.
-Add the stock or water and bouillon and bring to a simmer.  Before you walk away taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.  
-Simmer 30-45 minutes and serve.

January 9, 2011

Wheat free, week one

I couldn't lose pass up the opportunity to catch a few precious rays of Michigan winter sunshine this morning so the whole family went for a hike through the neighboring orchards.  We saw lots of interesting animal tracks and a noisy pilated woodpecker, maybe the same one that occasionally visits my suet feeder?   

Week one of my recent wheat free adventure has gone well.  I went most of the week focusing on meats, sprouted beans, vegetables and fruit but then yesterday got the urge to do a little baking.  For Alex and some visiting friends I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and then this morning I made some chocolate chip muffins.  I also made lemon muffins for Alex earlier in the week but didn't have more than a nibble myself.  All of these were wheat free and not bad but not terribly noteworthy either.  I think it will take a little more practice to feel like my baked goods are "blog worthy" but I do feel capable of making things to curb a craving and feed the hungry boy.

In lieu of a recipe today I have a few snack recommendations I've been meaning to pass along.  These are completely uncompensated plugs for products that I know I could make myself but just find it a relief that someone is out there making them.  Everything in moderation and all, including laziness!  Here are my recent favorite convenience foods:

Earth Chips   I ordered some of these after reading Alisa of Go Dairy Free's review of their chocolate flavor.  Alisa was right, the chocolate ones are really good and a HIT with Alex!  He also likes the vanilla flavor.  I crave salty things and love the Cheezy Nutty version.  They also sell sprouted nuts that are to die for!!

Sea's Gift Korean Seaweed Snack   Another fix for salty snack cravings, Alex and I love the satisfying crunch of these seasoned nori sheets.  The shredded version is great for topping vegetable dishes or on diced avocado.  I used them a while back on these savory tuiles.

Chocolate Chia Goodness I mix up chia puddings on my own but for lazy breakfasts this combination is spot on. It's good mixed with unsweetened almond or hemp milk but even better stirred into So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt.

Penny and me
Alex sledding
New year = new puppy
Presenting Perfect our new border collie, I personally can't stand the name but John and Alex love it and I haven't convinced them anything is better suited to her.
Here she is wrestling with Fritz
Fritz is still the "baby" of the family though.  His small size and cuteness get him privileges no other dog would get.  Here he is napping on my lap with Penny.