2014-12-19 Fabulous Friday Finds

Maine. Seacoast. I cannot remember which city/town, but surely someone will tell me.

Maine. Seacoast. I cannot remember which city/town, but surely someone will tell me.

Because spice mixes sometimes have anti-caking agents that might be a problem or have cross contamination issues, here’s a nice recipe for Chinese Five Spice Powder you can make up yourself. And if you’re as crazy about your spice collection as I (Denise) am, and have Penzey’s on speed dial, you probably already have all the ingredients. 

Also, I’ve been making fritter-y, hash brown-like, savory pancake-y things because I’ve got to use up some stuff in my freezer. So when I saw this recipe for a Cauliflower and Cabbage Rosti, it looked like some of the stuff I’ve been making, but it also looks yummy. The only thing I would probably substitute is the macadamia oil. I think olive or grape seed would be fine, and I bet the macadamia is a tad expensive, beside the obvious issue for those with nut allergies. Also, I bet they’d be really good with that Chinese Five Spice Powder. 

Still looking for last-minute gifts? Seems like buying food for anyone with food allergies might be a minefield, but high quality ingredients are expensive. A gift certificate might be appreciated, and if you buy it online, you can really procrastinate. The local co-op, natural food store, or someplace online (I’m a fan of Vitacost for ordering gluten-free flours) are all possibilities.

And if you’re looking for a nice way to warm up a party, what about the Kitchn’s round-up of warm drinks done in the slow cooker? They’re not specifically allergy-friendly, but I think all but #3 would easily accommodate most allergies.

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Gum Drops

Gum Drops

Gum Drops – Photo by J. Andrews

So it’s that holiday time of year. And I like my sweets on holidays, so Mary Kate and I got together to make some candy a couple of weeks ago. (I burned and ruined one pot that day, so you’re not getting a recipe for caramels, until I get a new pot and try it again.) One of the things we tried that was a hit was the gum drops. I actually made them ahead of time because there’s some processing time between steps (AT LEAST 3 DAYS, please read the whole recipe), and we wanted to use them for a construction project (teaser for next week’s post). The recipe I started with was located here at Bakerella. If you can use commercial extracts and commercial food coloring, you can use the recipe as it is. But I can’t. So I used Cara Reed’s ideas from her book, Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking (see Mary Kate’s review here) for food coloring for the green, and then extended her idea and used carrots for the orange. I also used the homemade extracts that I’ve made and some lemon essential oil.  You’ll see four colors of gum drops in the picture, but the best were the lime and orange and the other flavors still need more work before they are blog-worthy.

Gum Drops

The recipe for the gum drops makes one batch of one flavor. To make both flavors, either double the amounts for the gum drop and put the ingredients for one flavor in each half of the batch, or use the amounts below for the batch, and use half of the amounts for the flavors in each half of the batch.

To make Orange Flavor:

  • 2 teaspoons of Orange Food Coloring (To make orange food coloring, take 1/2 cup of peeled, chopped carrots, and cook over medium heat in water in a small sauce pan until tender. Drain the water, saving 1/4 of a cup aside. Place drained carrots and 1/4 cup of reserved cooking water in a blender and process until smooth. Place in a storage container and keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks). 
  • 4 drops of Lemon Essential Oil (make sure it’s pure and not cosmetic grade)
  • 2 Tablespoons of homemade orange extract (I used orange peels as described here and I use either Vikingfjord  or Luksusowa Vodka because they are made only from potatoes, where some vodkas may also use grain or corn.)

To make Lime Flavor:

  • 2 teaspoons of Green Food Coloring (To make green food coloring, take 1 cup of fresh spinach and boil in 3 Tablespoons of water for 5 minutes while covered. Pour spinach and water in a blender and process until smooth. Place in a storage container and keep it in the fridge for up to two weeks). 
  • 4 drops of Lemon Essential Oil (make sure it’s pure and not cosmetic grade)
  • 2 Tablespoons of homemade lime extract (I used lime peels as described here and I use either Vikingfjord  or Luksusowa Vodka because they are made only from potatoes, where some vodkas may also use grain or corn.)

Gum Drops:

  • 2 Tablespoons of unflavored gelatin powder (Knox or Great Lakes are generally regarded as being okay if you’re not super sensitive to corn, again no affiliation with Amazon, just linking for reference)
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • 3/4 cup of boiling water
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • extra sugar for coating the gum drops
  • a bit of safe for you oil to coat the container in which you’ll cool your gum drops
  • a container about 4 inches by 8 inches in which to cool your gum drops (I used two sandwich sized Rubbermaid food storage containers so my gum drops were a little thinner than normal.) 

Grease your container to cool your gum drops with your safe oil.

In a large pot, add the gelatin and cold water.  Whisk them together until the gelatin is completely moistened. Let the gelatin and water mixture sit for five minutes.

Add the boiling water and whisk until the gelatin dissolves.  Add the sugar and stir it into the gelatin mixture.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 25 minutes.

Pour the mixture into your greased container and mix in the food coloring, extract and essential oil, until it is thoroughly combined.

Cover the container and put it in the fridge overnight to set.

Take out the container and use a knife dipped in hot water to cut 3/4 inch squares. I found it easiest to take the whole gum drop sheet out of the container (which is no small feat) and place it on a greased plastic cutting board and cut them on the board.

Roll the cubes in sugar on all sides and place them on waxed paper or parchment paper (whatever is safest for you, those allergic to corn may have trouble with waxed paper), and let them dry at room temperature for two days to let the sugar dry and the gum drop harden a bit.

Enjoy!

Gum Drops

Gum Drops – Photo by J. Andrews

 

2014-12-12 Fabulous Friday Finds

Pottery at the Arizona State Museum

Pottery at the Arizona State Museum

So Mary Kate’s been holding the fort for us lately on the link posts because I’ve been slacking due to further extended craziness in my life right now. But if things work out the way I’m hoping, there will be all sorts of interesting blog posts as a result, so you’ll all benefit too. With the added stress, I’ve been craving sweets. Allyson Kramer posted this yummy Devil’s Food Cake from her new book. There’s a few things I’ll have to sub out, but I think I can get close.  

Many of you might have meant to get around to starting your own safe vanilla extract, but didn’t quite get around to it. If you need some vanilla for holiday baking, try making your own Toasted Vanilla Powder as a substitute for the extract as it takes a lot less time to do. (This sounds so good. — MK)

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Why do your potatoes turn green? And are they safe? SCIENCE. (Short answer: peel away the green, but throw them away if they taste bitter. I’ve only thrown out potatoes for bad taste after peeling once. It was a very sad occasion. Store your potatoes in the dark.)

If it’s cold where you are, you are looking for comfort food. If it’s not cold where you are, well, shut up. No one wants to hear about your weather right now. Anyway, up here, whenever lunch talk turns to comfort food, one of my New England native co-workers will bring up “American Chop Suey.” Nevermind that it bears little relationship to Chop Suey, “Americanized” already, but American Chop Suey is pretty much the original homemade hamburger helper. Still, it’s a hearty giant meal to feed a crowd (or large family), and it’s pretty allergy friendly to start with. Enjoy.

Have a great week everyone!

Gluten-free, vegan Apple Fritters

Glorious apple fritters with powdered sugar snow

Glorious apple fritters with powdered sugar snow

I have to admit, I spend a lot of fall jealous of people eating cider doughnuts and apple treats of all sorts. It’s part of a day out in the fall — stop at an orchard, get some fried appley things, eat bliss. Nowadays, I get cider, which is great, but somehow not as filling. Lucky for me, I think apple crisp is the pinnacle of baked apple dishes, as that’s super easy to take the gluten out of — it’s not meant to hold together. It’s meant to go in a bowl with ice cream and just be brilliant. But it’s not a fried apple treat of any kind, and I missed those.

So when Denise and I decided to have another day of frying everything, apple fritters were on my mind. I think it’s been years and years since I had one, so I’m not entirely sure these are “traditional,” but they were tasty, and they kept well in the oven (set down at 170ºF) while we made the rest of the fried things. I’d love to tell you how they did a day later or frozen, but I can’t. We ate them all. I’m not big on food guilt anyway, but I can say that if you fry things maybe three times a year, you can’t really feel bad about eating everything.

How many fritters you get will depend on how big you make them, and there’s really not a lot of measuring the mess into the oil. Just try to make them similar sizes so that they can be done about the same time. I’m not sure an exact count would be possible anyway — you’ll be eating them as soon as they are cool enough, way too fast to count, anyway, unless you have inhuman strength. The recipe is loosely based on the Chai-Spiced Pancakes recipe on The Canary Files, which is my go-to pancake recipe (my favorite thing about it is that you need to make it the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. I LOVE that. I don’t really do mornings so much as mornings happen to me.) For a fritter batter, though, I’ve altered it quite a bit, and then dunked it in hot oil; I’m just saying don’t expect health food.

Batter, Frying, Draining (and absorbing sugar)

Batter, Frying, Draining (and absorbing sugar)

Gluten-free, Vegan Apple Fritters

  • 3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour, blend of your choice (THIS is my go-to)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder (corn-free, if you need it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups rice milk, DIVIDED (if you make this by hand, add slightly less water than called for, about a 1:1 ratio of cooked rice to water, and strain it really well for a thicker texture that is so much better for baking)
  • 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds, ground, mixed with 3 Tablespoons warm water to form a chia egg
  • 1 scraped vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 2 Tablespoons light olive oil (regular will be fine, you just might taste it a bit)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground psyllium husk
  • 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and shredded (medium=baseball-sized)
  • powdered sugar for dusting. Really, don’t even bother to mention this, just sift or sprinkle it on.

Mix the dry ingredients (AP flour to nutmeg) together well. Add 1 1/2 cups rice milk, chia egg, vanilla bean, olive oil, and psyllium. Mix well, adding more rice milk if needed. Then put in the fridge for an hour. It will thicken considerably. Add the rest of the rice milk and stir in the apples. You want a thick dough, sort of like regular gluten-containing muffin batter would be, so pay attention as you add the liquids.

Heat a pot of oil to 370ºF. Drop the fritter batter in by spoonfuls, making sure not to crowd the fritters. If you use two spoons, you can sort of flatten or spread the fritters as you form them, making them more UFO saucer shape than rounds, and this will mean the insides cook better. They WILL stick together or stick to the sides of the pot, so bounce them around enough to make sure they don’t. Flip a few times, and see how they brown. You may have to test a few — I’m not giving you a cooking time as it varies widely based on how thick each fritter is, but after 3 or 4, you’ll have the hang of it.

When they are nicely golden brown, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate or tray to drain. Let the oil return to 370ºF, if need be, before doing the next batch. An oven turned down as low as it goes (170ºF on my oven) will keep them nicely warm until you’ve finished all of them.

Dust liberally with powdered sugar and no longer feel left out.

 

2014-12-05 Fabulous Friday Finds

Pittsburg, NH

Pittsburg, NH

Happy December, everyone. Welcome to the holidays. At least now the incessant Christmas music isn’t stepping on any other holidays, right? Sorry. I (Mary Kate) am a bit of a grinch until about early holiday celebrations.

This list of weird things mustard can do is kind of cool. Mustard is awesome.

Also awesome, at least to me, mushrooms. I make a mushroom gravy somewhat regularly, but I’m willing to try this one from oh she glows. It’ll also give me something else to do with the chickpea miso that has been languishing in the fridge.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Pumpkin (or Butternut Squash) Bisque

Pumpkin Bisque

Pumpkin Bisque

We hope you all made it through Thanksgiving okay. Mary Kate and I only set two smallish fires on her stove, but no harm, no foul. There will be more posted about the “Fry-Day” Thanksgiving later on.

The reason I developed this recipe is because I had a pumpkin from the Community Supported Agriculture share I split with Mary Kate. I’m not a huge fan of pumpkin, I hated pumpkin pie in the long, long ago when I could still eat whatever I wanted. And I never eat pumpkin spice anything when the seasonal pumpkin spice everything starts. But I do like pumpkin bisque with a bit of onion, rosemary and sage. You could also do this with your left over butternut squash from Thanksgiving if you have any. I finished this soup just before the power went out on Wednesday the night before Thanksgiving, and the power did not return until Friday evening.  It warmed up really well in my Jetboil camp stove set up on my dining room table while we had no power and no heat. Yeah, I know I’m not supposed to use them inside, and I’m not advocating that anyone else follow my poor example (don’t sue me if you do something dumb just because I did).

Pumpkin (or Butternut Squash) Bisque

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil (or other safe for you oil)
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock (I used homemade, here’s a link on how to make vegetable stock, or if you can buy safe commercial stock, have at it)
  • 4 cups of cooked pumpkin or butternut squash (here’s a link on how to roast and make puree, also if you’re using pumpkin, make sure you use pie pumpkins or your bisque might be a little blah)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sage
  • 2 Tablespoons of non-dairy safe for you margarine (I make my own margarine due to the corn thing, but if you can use Earth Balance, go for it)
  • 1/2 cup of cashew milk (or other safe for you non-dairy milk, I make my own from this recipe but I skip the added ingredients other than water and cashews)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar (optional – you might not need it if you’re using butternut squash)
  • A couple of squirts of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
  • A bit of minced parsley as a garnish (optional)

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, saute your onions in the olive oil until they have some color, and they are softer, as shown below.

Sauteed Onions

Sauteed Onions

Once your onions are ready, add the vegetable stock. Make sure to mix in all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan into the stock to get all the flavor you can.

Vegetable stock and onions

Vegetable stock and onions

Add the pumpkin puree (you’ll note mine wasn’t that pureed), the sage and the rosemary.

Pumpkin, vegetable stock and onions

Pumpkin, vegetable stock and onions

I simmered mine for a bit to make sure my roasted pumpkin was tender, and for the onions to cook and soften further.  Once I thought the pumpkin and onions were tender enough, I used my immersion/hand/stick blender to puree everything nicely.

Pureed Pumpkin Bisque

Pureed Pumpkin Bisque

Now add your margarine, and cashew milk, and stir well to incorporate.  Taste your soup and add the salt, pepper, brown sugar, and hot sauce as needed. Ladle some into a bowl, sprinkle with your parsley, and bask in the warmth of the soup.

Pumpkin Bisque

Pumpkin Bisque

 

2014-11-28 Fabulous Friday Finds

Saucy.

Saucy.

In honor of the many traditions celebrated yesterday, as well as a thought in favor of celebrating the new, something we often do when food allergies take away beloved family traditions, does your tradition include celery and olives? No? How un-traditional of you! Traditions change. I hope however you celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, you did it safely. Denise and Mary Kate only set two fires — no photos!

We’re working on more recipes for the winter season. Stay tuned, and stay warm.

Vegetable Lentil Chestnut Soup

Vegetable Lentil Chestnut Soup

Vegetable Lentil Chestnut Soup

Looking in my fridge and freezer, apparently all I’ve made for weeks are soups and stews and chilis. It’s getting cold (maybe it just IS cold?) and soup is warming. This soup is based on a recipe title I read a year or so ago, possibly on a can. I can’t remember where, and I never could find it again. All I had was “lentil chestnut” and it sounded good.

I figured this would be a quick and easy soup if I used canned lentils and packaged chestnuts, both of which I usually have on hand, and my standard trio of soup vegetables: onions, carrots, and celery. I also used homemade stock, as I try to do, because frankly, mine tastes better.

This soup is hearty because of the lentils, a bit sweet because of the chestnuts, and full of vegetables for flavor, texture, and, hey, nutrition. I even had a lentil naysayer taste the soup, and it got a general approval. My vegetables were rather giant in relation to the chopped chestnuts and tiny lentils, and if that will bother you, consider chopping everything more finely. I kind of liked it, and it made for more interesting photographs (so did having a better camera to play with).

Vegetable Lentil Chestnut Soup

Vegetable Lentil Chestnut Soup

Vegetable Lentil Chestnut Soup

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 onion)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped carrot (three small carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (2 larger stalks)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 5 oz cooked and shelled chestnuts, chopped (this is the size of package I can buy around here — cook and shell your own, if you like, but be warned, it’s more work than you think it will be!)
  • 2 cups cooked lentils — any type you like except red, which will not hold their shape. I used black.
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth, preferably unsalted. Add your own salt.

In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, add the oil to a hot pan. When the oil is shimmering hot, add the onion and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Do the same with the celery.

Now season: Add the garlic and stir well. Then add the spices and stir again. Give it a minute to heat up — this seems to let the garlic really permeate this base of the soup.

Add the chestnuts and lentils, stir, and then add the vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. There are two ways to do this. If you’re feeling patient, leave the heat at medium and let it come up to a boil slowly. This is great for flavor, but honestly, not enough to insist that this is the right way to do it. You can also just turn the heat up to boil it fast. Either way, after you’ve had a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Enjoy soup.

Vegetable Lentil Chestnut Soup

Vegetable Lentil Chestnut Soup

2014-11-21 Fabulous Friday Finds

 

Onion Rings!

Onion Rings!

Well, Denise and I aren’t doing a traditional Thanksgiving (more on that when we post some of the recipes), but for anyone looking for Thanksgiving tips for the traditional, they are everywhere. The only ones that really matter, to me, are the mashed potato tips. I’m going to try some of these out this weekend, because the best thing about mashed potatoes is that there is never a bad time for them. Mashed potatoes are always right, but there is no excuse for doing them poorly.

For the days after (or before?) the holiday, this roasted parsnip and spinach salad sounds amazing. Parsnips are a most excellent food.

Next week is a holiday, so here’s a bonus link — a way to use up used coffee grounds to repair/enhance furniture. I’m going to try this out on my ancient (ha, it’s about my age) coffee table. I keep meaning to refinish it, but never get around to it.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

WW: Cookbook Review, “Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking” by Cara Reed

Baked goods. I crave them.

Baked goods. I crave them.

I bought Cara Reed’s cookbook Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking a few months ago. Cara is the genius/madwoman behind the Fork and Beans blog (the woman made her own Cheerios, seriously). I bought the cookbook because I’ve made a few of the recipes on her blog (starting with these adorable ghosts, although I made a lot of weird shapes instead), and I knew that they worked, so I was excited by the cookbook. I am not being compensated for this review — I bought the cookbook with my own hard-earned money, and then I spent the rest of it on gluten-free flours to bake with.

This is, hands-down, one of my top 5 cookbooks I’ve ever purchased. Only a few cookbooks capture my kitchen this way, where I keep picking them up and picking out something new to make from them. I love cookbooks, and I enjoy just reading them. But for the majority of cookbooks, they sit on my shelf a lot and I think about making things from them. This one? I’m baking from, nearly weekly.

THIS IS NOT A HEALTH FOOD COOKBOOK. For anyone who thinks “gluten-free” and “vegan” both mean some weird definition of “healthy,” um, yeah, this isn’t it. This cookbook is cookies and cakes and pastries and sugar and then some more sugar. It is awesome. Cara Reed’s goal in food seems to be bringing us all the cookies and things that we miss, living with food restrictions (chosen or not). She makes pop tarts.

Reed’s recipes are all based on one of her two flour blends. I’ve only made the standard one, and I’ve been through 3 recipes of it (it makes 9 cups. NINE CUPS.) I’m sure I’ll get to the second blend; I keep meaning to. But making flour blends is one of the *sigh* *so much work* BAH parts of gluten-free baking, so the fact that I have one on hand means I’m more likely to bake. The fact that this one is half sorghum was also a selling point for me; so far, I’ve had more luck with sorghum than any other gluten-free flour.

The one and only “problem” I’ve had with any of these recipes is that, in my oven, the cooking times are too short, by anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. At the moment I’ve misplaced my oven thermometer, but it was good 6 months ago. Regardless, this is a pretty easy issue to fix. It is consistent enough that I’m adding 5 minutes of time to every recipe and then going from there, though. Different ovens.

So far, I’ve made the following recipes:

  • Chocolate Cloud cookies, which were quick, easy, and chocolate
  • Brown Sugar donuts
  • Cracked Pepper and Herb Drop Biscuits (but I made them plain)
  • Gingerbread cupcakes
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes
  • Blackout cake
  • Whiteout cake
  • Chocolate “Soufflés” Individual cakes (more like lava cakes)
  • Cinnamon Streusel Coffee cake
  • Pumpkin Streusel bread
  • Dark Chocolate Quick bread
  • and several frostings for this

High on the list of things to try:

  • the Samoas
  • Cheese-Its
  • cheesecakes (Key Lime Bars, and strawberry cheesecake)
  • Chocolate Indulgence biscuits
  • the almond croissants and danish squares
  • Cinnamon Raisin loaf

Okay, does that list make you drool? If not, really? I’d offer photos, but it turns out that I’ve not remembered to photograph a single one of these recipes. They are *that good.*

When I had to start gluten-free baking, along with the vegan side (the egg allergy was new at the same time, but I was so good at vegan cake already that it didn’t matter), I failed so much. I made brownies that no one wanted to eat. The experiments that weren’t inedible just weren’t very good. I tried a few cookbooks, but honestly, I was disappointed, overall, with the results. Gluten-free failures are expensive, too! I have been a baker since I was 10 years old. I have always loved baking, especially cakes. I’ve gone through several obsessive baking phases — first Bundt cakes and then for a while vegan cupcakes. This is a less thematic baking cookbook to be obsessed with, which is nice. But the other thing that’s nice is that these recipes all work.

HIGHLY, highly, highly recommended. Check it out.

 

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