Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Eggnog Do(ugh)nuts.

Whether you spell them donut or doughnut, they're delicious!

After making the Apple Cider Donuts this Halloween, I had little people requesting something special for the holidays.  This time I set out to make an eggnog based donut, modifying the original cider recipe just a tad.  Here's what we came up with:

1/4 cup of soy-free earth balance (or butter-ish substance of your choosing)
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups So Delicious Coconut Nog (or eggnog of choice)

4 cups Pamela's Gluten Free Bread Mix/Flour (plus enough for dusting)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (or 1 tsp of the pre-ground stuff)

Mix it all up.  

Dough will be incredibly sticky, just hang in there.

Scrape it out onto a well-floured surface.  I actually use a layer of flour on my silpat for extra protection.

Dust with yet another layer of flour and roll until about a half inch thick.

Cut out into desired shape (we use a circle cutter and a piping gun tip for the centers).

Lay out the donuts on a silpat-lined sheet pan and refrigerate for at least a half hour.

I use a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan by Cuisinart for my frying.   It takes about an inch of neutral oil.

Heat to around 350° - you can always toss a donut hole in there and when it floats right back up to the top, sizzling at the edge, the oil is ready.

They go QUICKLY so make sure you have a landing pad ready.  I use a cooling rack over a layer of paper towels on my sheet pan.

A spider like this is what I use for fishing mine back out.

They should only take a few minutes per side.  Don't be worried if they look flat, like a big washer, when they're raw.  They puff like mad in that oil!

Let cool a bit, then roll in powdered sugar or glaze them to your heart's desire.

My glaze consists of: 
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg
1 tsp light corn syrup
warm water to make a pourable fondant consistency
then thin with extra nog, if need be, for dipping consistency

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gluten Free Gingerbread (for houses and men!)

A few weeks ago, my 11 year old mentioned that she'd never had a gingerbread man.  Around the same time, my 7 year old asked if we could make a gingerbread house - a task I'd never completed successfully.

Sure, we've bought the kits.  And failed at them.  Roofs collapsed.  Tears ensued (and the kids were bummed, too).  So, my nerves were fried as I set out to make (of all things) a gingerbread house that was gluten free!

I mean, come on.  Gluten free baking can be tricky.  Mistakes are expensive.  I couldn't even assemble graham cracker houses, what on earth made me think I was capable of gluten free, homemade, gingerbread!?  From scratch?!

My friends were pretty convinced I had lost my mind.  "Buy the kit, just let them decorate it."  "Make a gluten-free door and they can eat that part."  

cross contamination.  contact ingestion.  but... but... they can't EAT that!

So, I watched videos.  I read blogs.  I scoured pinterest. 

Then I mustered up the courage, took a deep breath, and tried it.

They came out of the oven fragile.  I slid the silpat onto a cooling rack without breathing, silently invoking all the holiest members of the holidays I could think of.  Dear Frosty... Please Rudolph... Oh, Santa... 

And guess what?

It worked!

They firmed up so beautifully.  We made royal icing.  It worked.  It all was going so smoothly.

Until I got cocky.  

I made one crucial mistake.  I didn't let the construction royal icing set up entirely.  Introducing the runnier color flow type royal icing into the equation caused a major structural issue.  Luckily one of the kids spotted our sliding roof top and we were able to salvage it.  

Note:  Typically, on my blog, I avoid all things with artificial food coloring.  Because of this, I went with Necco wafers for shingles.  Well, guess who changed their formula within the last month?  Yup.  So these ARE artificially colored - but who eats those nasty little flat antacid things anyway? :)

Without further ado...  the gingerbread!

1 1/2 cups of molasses
2 eggs
1/2 cup of Spectrum non-hydrogenated shortening
1 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt

Cinnamon or flour for dusting your rolling pin and counter top

Cream together the molasses, eggs, shortening, and brown sugar until smooth.  It took a little bit for my paddle to break down the shortening, but it's important.  The good thing is, you can see when it's worked in evenly due to the dark molasses color.

Combine the dry ingredients and add a couple cups at a time, working slowly.  This will be a SERIOUSLY thick dough.  Mix until all the white is gone and the dough is sticky and uniform.

Remove the dough from the ball, pressing out as much of the air as you can. 
Pat into a slab, wrap in saran wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.


While that rests, print out your template.  You can use whatever you'd like.  
Note: the roof should be 2 pieces of 6 1/2 x 7 1/2 pieces.  You have to measure those. 
She didn't include that in the template. 

Preheat the oven to 350°

Dust your surface and rolling pin with cinnamon (or flour).

Roll to about 1/4" thickness.

With a board scraper (which I used) or a knife, cut out the shape of your house.

Transfer the pieces (you should have six) to a silpat (or parchment) lined sheet pan.

Bake for 25 minutes.

VERY carefully remove them from the oven, leaving them to cool on the baking sheet if possible.

Cool several hours until hard to the touch.

With the remaining dough, roll out again and cut out gingerbread men or other shapes.  This recipe yielded one Martha-sized house, 7 large gingerbread men, and 42 tiny gingerbread hearts (two of which I cut out of the peaked sides of the Martha house as a little window).


To assemble:

Make a batch of royal icing according to label directions.  
I used the Wilton meringue powder and their icing recipe enclosed in the lid.

Fill a piping gun or pastry bag with the thick icing.

Lay down a 1/2" or so of the icing on your assembly surface as your foundation.
(I wrapped a piece of cardboard in freezer paper here, but you can use a cake board, available at Walmart and craft stores).

Working slowly, assemble the four walls of your house with a thick layer of royal icing.

LET.  IT.  DRY. 

Trust me.

The roof was a little trickier, because it has to lay across the top peaks.  With a thick layer of icing on all connecting surfaces, I laid one peak on at a time, placing additional icing to the backside of the roof where possible.  Let it dry.  Did I say that?  Do it.  Seriously.

Also, royal icing dries hard, so don't leave it sitting out.  Put a wet towel over it or keep it in a container.

Once the house's structure is built, let it dry.  Again.  I know.  But do it.

We let it sit overnight.

With a thinner recipe of royal icing, you can go back in and glue your decorations.  I recommend a wilton squeeze bottle for this. I think they were $2 at Michael's 
and they have a cap so your icing doesn't dry out between sections.

Try something you've never dared before this holiday season!  You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.  And don't forget to invoke Frosty!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry Apple Chutney

Do you remember last year's post about this burst of fall flavor?

Cranberry Apple Chutney has to be one of my all-time favorite condiments.  It is Exhibit A for gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan food being utterly delicious.  And while you can put it on just about anything, it really shines on turkey.  Okay, I realize that completely contradicts that whole vegan thing, but hey - you can put it on tofurkey, too, right?

The house smells like bright, sunshiny fall, heavy with spice.  So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to re-blog the recipe for you all and show you the adorable spoons my friend makes.  She's one of those uber-crafty types and, let me tell you, you want to grab these while you can.  After recent media attention, and celebrity party planners scooping them up, they're hot! hot! hot!

I'm a tad obsessed with them and have a few projects planned over the next few weeks.  I can't wait to share them with you all.  She can put darn near anything on a spoon, but her in stock designs are to-die-for cute.  Knowing I am enamored with all things Alice, she sent me a nice set:

3 cups of fresh cranberries
3 cups of peeled, diced apples (I used honeycrisps and granny smith that were too bruised for my kids to possibly eat)
1 cups of sugar
1 1/3 cups of apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp good cinnamon (I like Penzey's vietnamese)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (dried stuff is fine)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (please)

Dump it all in a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot.  (The BEST stock pot ever - not too big, not too small, steams veggies, drains pasta, all in all great pot.  I've had it for years and we use it 3-5 times a week.)

This isn't a baking recipe, order doesn't really matter.

Stir occasionally to make sure the sugar is getting mixed in and not burning on the bottom of your pan.  Also, I realized that cranberries are loaded with pectin, the stuff that makes jelly and jam stick together.  As they burst, they will sort of fall to the bottom and can get goopy down there.  Don't worry if that happens, it mixes right back in.  (not that I know from experience or anything)

This needs to simmer for about 25 minutes.  It will thicken, reduce, and all the cranberries will pop.  You can encourage them by smooshing them against the side of the pot.  Your house will smell like heavenly fall goodness at this point (and yes, the vinegar smells STRONG in the beginning, but trust me. It's right.  And it mellows out.)

When it's done, it will be thick, almost the consistency of applesauce.
See how thick it is here?

And, of course, it makes a ton and would be an awesome hostess gift.  Here's an itty bitty "ice cream spoon" from Sucre and Spice tied on a tiny jar for gifting:

Happy Eating!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Apple Cider Donuts (doughnuts? deaux knuts?)

Any way you spell it, apple cider donuts are a delicious part of fall.  The local apple orchards have a corner spot at the farmer's market where they sell everything from strawberry-rhubarb pie to slushy cider.  While pregnant (many, many years ago) I happened upon a small package of apple cider donuts at the stand and couldn't resist.

The cinnamon sugar melted against my tongue as I bit into the crisp exterior.  The inside was reminiscent of an old fashioned buttermilk donut with the faintest hint of apple-y goodness.

That was the beginning of a love affair with cider donuts.

Fast forward to this fall.  At the point that my beloved donuts were available, I had realized my sensitivity to dairy was pretty severe.  I knew I would have to end things, but my heart would pang as we drove near the market.  Something had to be done.

Today, I think I have not only replicated the recipe - I may have even improved it.

The kids occasionally ask for the frozen gluten-free donuts at the grocery store, but they're a tad expensive and a tad... not great.

After my first batch of donuts, I can safely say that I will never, ever buy them again!  They were remarkably easy and taste amazing warm.  I think you'll find that it's worth the bit of effort involved in making them from scratch.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Apple Cider Donuts 
(pictured with maple glaze)

1 cup apple cider* 
1 cinnamon stick
a few grates of fresh nutmeg

(*Sam's has honeycrisp cider - which, of course, is what I used!)


1/4 cup of soy-free earth balance
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
 1 cup original almond milk


4 cups Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Mix / Flour (plus enough for dusting)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of ground allspice
dash of ground cloves
a few grates of fresh nutmeg


neutral oil for frying

Topping options:
cinnamon sugar
powdered sugar
maple glaze 

Simmer the apple cider and spices until reduced by half.  Your house will smell amazing now.  
You're welcome.

Mix together all the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a mixer, cream together the earth balance and sugar, then add eggs.

Slowly pour in the reduced spiced cider, apple cider vinegar, and almond milk.

Add a the dry ingredients about a cup at a time until incorporated.

The final batter will be very sticky.  
A silpat-lined baking sheet dusted with flour will make your life easier.

Pat or roll out the dough to about a 3/4" thickness.

Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator, if possible, for a half hour.

Cut to desired shape, roll, cut, roll, cut until all the bits and pieces are used.

Bring an inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan up to about 350°
(that candy thermometer helps here)

Carefully lower 4-5 donuts into the hot oil, flipping once they are GBD*
*golden brown delicious ™Alton Brown

Remove to a cooling rack and let cool until you can handle them.

Top any way your heart desires.  I made a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice since I had them out from the recipe.  We rolled donut holes in that and they were delicious.  

But, when I think of donuts - and I mean good donuts - I think maple bars.  They're not popular in my area, and I didn't even taste a maple bar until well into my twenties.  
But, they are, in my opinion, the best donut on earth.  

And what could be more delicious than apples and maple together?  bacon and maple

Maybe next time.

I threw together a quick maple glaze for the rest. 
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp karo light syrup
1 tsp maple extract
1/2 tsp vanilla

Add enough hot water to reach a pourable fondant consistency and you're done.

Whisk to be sure you have all those lumps out!

Dip.  Drizzle.  Devour

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Caramel Dip for Your Apples!

Remember how I waxed poetic about the lusciousness of Bourbon Caramel Apple Dip?

That's because I have a confession...

I don't like chocolate.  I can totally live without it.  I could go every day for the rest of my years on this planet without ever having it on my tongue again.

But caramel?

Buttery, gooey, rich, softening against the tongue caramel?  Be.  Still.  My.  Heart.

Add fleur de sel and I'm done.  Done.  There is nothing better.

So, when I realized that the source of my (five years worth of!) abdominal pain may be related to dairy, my heart cracked a little at the thought of never having the amber nectar of the gods again.

Now, let me tell you - this was no small feat.  I'm a caramel snob.  Melted waxy squares from a bag will not do.  It has to be right.

I adapted my recipe and found it opaque and creamy with a slightly coconutty taste.  Bad?  Not really.  But it wasn't perfect caramel.

So, I tried another recipe from another blogger.  Utter and complete fail.  It was gritty, separated, and runny.  That one ended up in the trash after cooling in the fridge overnight and yielding nothing worth salvaging.

This morning, I decided it was worth it to try one last time.  I could have used the creamy caramel above for the kids' apple dip, but really?  I would have been disappointed in me.  I don't do disappointment well.

I came back to my original recipe with a little tweak and VOILA!  It's perfect!

Thick.  Gooey.  Luscious.  Buttery.  Tasting of burnt sugar and creme brulee and vanilla and delicious.

May this bring back your faith in dairy-free cooking and put a smile on your face:

1 Cup Soy-Free Earth Balance 
2 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups karo light syrup
(you may be able to sub agave, if you're avoiding corn.  I haven't tested it, but I don't see why not.)


2 cups of original almond milk


2 tsp high quality gluten-free vanilla

(I skipped the booze - for shame - but you're welcome to drop that to 1 tsp of vanilla 
and add 2 tbsp of maker's mark or knob creek, should your boozy heart desire)

In a small pot, pour the almond milk and bring to a simmer, 
allowing it to thicken and reduce while the sugar cooks.
(There's no magic timeline for this, just let it bubble away)

In a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pan (think stainless steel stock pot) 
combine the first four ingredients, stirring regularly as the butter melts.
Insert a candy thermometer.

Continue to stir as it comes up to temperature.  
Sugar will burn, and not in a yummy caramel-y way, so don't walk away.  

Safety note: boiling sugar will burn you in ways you can't even imagine.  This isn't one for the kids, folks.  Stay safe and make sure you use a long-handled silicone spoonula.

When the sugar mixture comes up to 230°, add the vanilla (and bourbon, if desired)... slowly!
It will cause the sugar to expand, so be particularly careful during the next two steps.

Pour your reduced almond milk into the bubbling caramel... did I mention to do this slowly?  

Bring the entire mix up to 240°

Ladle into clean jars and set on the counter to cool, then refrigerate.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Cinnamon No-Rolls

Home with the kids this weekend, I found myself mourning the lack of oats.  I never remember to buy these kinds of things.  (That would be why I've been out of powdered sugar for a month.)

Six cans of fire roasted tomatoes?  Of course.  Seventeen thousand pounds of dried beans?  Shelved neatly in the freezer.  But, nooo, I can never remember things like powdered sugar. 

Or oats.

Darn oats.

But, when you think about it, it really isn't about the oats.  It's not about the apples, either.  

For me...

it is all about the cinnamon.

I adore cinnamon.  Vietnamese cinnamon, to be precise.  Don't have a favorite cinnamon?  For shame.  Go to Penzey's as soon as you can and smell the little jars.  You'll be able to pick a favorite.  (One of my friends is my Penzey's Partner - her favorite is korintje cinnamon - another good one and it's readily available.  I have a jar from the supermarket here in town.)

My nine year old's love of cinnamon pretty much only extends to cinnamon rolls.  Cinnamon rolls were my Everest for the longest time and I've finally found a recipe that we love.  That said - I may have a new favorite.

Gluten-Free dough is sticky, by nature.  It's workable, don't get me wrong, and when you adjust to wetting your hands and utilizing parchment or a silpat, it's much easier.  But, it's still a pain.  Heck, it was a pain to make regular cinnamon rolls.  It's a labor of love.  I'm willing to do it... twice a year.  But, it isn't something I really enjoy doing.  

I mean, how do you think Cinnabon got so popular?  Because a good cinnamon roll is rare enough.  But even if you have an amazing recipe, you still have to do all that work - in all those steps.  

So, I set out to eliminate some of that.  Udi's has a pretty good little product that they call a cinnamon roll, but the textures not quite right.  It's more of a cinnamon muffin.  And when you're all about the cinnamon, there's a significant lack of gooey, sweet, buttery cinnamon swirl.

Let's see if we can fix that!

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Cinnamon No-Rolls

Base layer
3 Cups Flour (as always, I use Pamela's
1 cup sugar
4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt

1 1/2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk of your choice (we like Silk coconut milk)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable/canola oil
(you could technically use an equal amount of applesauce, but we're about to get butter loco)

Top layer:
1 cup of Earth Balance (or nondairy margarine or butter)
1 cup of brown sugar, packed
2TBSP flour
1 TBSP cinnamon

Optional: 1/2 cup chopped pecans or a diced green apple 
(I added the latter since my daughter doesn't care for pecans.)

You can figure this part out, right?  Mix stuff until it's dough.  Awesome.  Good job.

Spread it in a 9x13.  You can use a spatula/spoonula or just moistened, clean hands.

Make the top layer by combining the earth balance, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Drop by spoonfuls on top of your base layer, or spread.  Whatever makes you happy.

With the side of a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon, swirl spirals into the dough to give it that cinnamon roll look.  (I mean, let's be honest, you don't have to.  It's going to taste just as good.)

It will look something like this (minus the green, if you don't have apples in yours.)

Yum, right?

Preheat the oven to 350° and bake for about 40 minutes.  It will puff all the way to the top of the pan, then fall a bit as it cools.  Don't sweat it.

You can top with a cream cheese frosting (nondairy for our crew) or an easy powdered sugar glaze (just thin out some powdered sugar with a few teaspoons of "milk" and drizzle over the top)

Sorry I had to zoom in on one swirl.  I swear it's not because the corner was missing at this point.

I also swear I didn't burn my fingers on hot sugar.  Or something.

With glaze added (honestly?  Unnecessary and a tad too sweet with glaze, for my liking.  But that gooey cinnamon butter stuff you see right there at the top?  Oh yeah. You need to taste that.)

Cinnabon, who?!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Apple Crisp For You & Me

A friend of mine posted recently that she was making an apple crisp.  I, of course, couldn't keep my big mouth shut and started yapping about how I had a great recipe.  there goes the diet

So, of course, I had to make one. Let's be reasonable here.  It's what a good friend would do.  The topic also led me to wax poetic about the joys of an apple peeler/corer/slicer.  Seriously, it's a gem of a gadget. But, you can absolutely peel and cut them to your heart's content.

8-9 apples
1/2 cup granulated sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup rolled oats*
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp good quality cinnamon (seriously, splurge on some vietnamese one day)
1/2 C Earth Balance (or butter)

*note: some oats can be cross contaminated with gluten.  If you are sensitive, definitely buy a designated Gluten Free rolled oat from a manufacturer like Bob's Red Mill

**all purpose flour for wheat-eaters

Peel and slice your apples.  The thinner you go, the better they cook.  Try to be even in your slicing.  
I only cook with granny smith, personally (some apples are for saucing, some are for eating, some are for baking, grannies are for baking).  Lay them out in a 9x13 (or dump 'em in and call it good).

Juice the lemon and pour over the top of your apples.

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

In another bowl, mix the oats, brown sugar, flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Add the margarine/butter and mix quickly by hand or with a pastry cutter.  You will want a crumb texture where you can no longer see the white of the flour and no longer see the pats of butter.  

You can also do this in a cuisinart, on pulse.   

Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top.


Smells like fall.

Bake in a 375° oven for about a half hour, depending on how your apples were cut.

When it looks like this, it's finished.  See those toasty oats and crispy crumbly bits?  Yep.  We're there.

Apples are soft, but not mushy.  Crisp is crispy.  Corners are... wait... we need a better look:

Oh yeah.  That's the stuff. 

This counts as dinner, right?

Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Ooey Gooey Jack Skellington Cookie Cake

This isn't really a recipe as much as a method of decoration, but I'm putting it up for a friend.

I've just discovered Earth Balance Baking Sticks.  They're as awesome as my favorite earth balance, but they have a lower melting point (or some other scientific semantics that I won't bore you with).  Bottom line is - they make DELICIOUS cookies.  And dream cheese frosting (I totally just made that up.  It's vegan, made with tofutti "cream cheese.")

My oldest turned 14 last week and is a lover of all things cookie cake.  She asks for one every year, and it's something I'm always happy to do. (hey, no rolling out fondant or icing two dozen cupcakes?  I'm down!)

I set out to find some way to decorate her cookie cake so that it felt - festive.  I considered stacking, layering, icing in between, cookie sandwiches, decorating on top, you name it.  Ultimately, I decided to "decorate" with nondairy chocolate chips.

I made a double batch of my favorite cookie dough, sans chips.  Spread about a quarter of the batter into an 8" cake pan.  (It helps to have oiled or moistened hands, as is usually the case with gluten free batters/doughs)  Smooth it out.  Then press the chips in however your heart desires.  My heart desired Jack Skellington.  (the mouth got a little distorted as it rose in the pan, so you might want to not get so close to the edge).

The result?  Outstandingly delicious, ooey, gooey, soft, delicious mall-quality cookies.  I'm not kidding.  And not a bit of dairy or gluten.  You would never have known!

Ooey Gooey Cookie Cake

3 sticks Earth Balance Baking Sticks
1/4 cup Earth Balance 
(or four sticks of butter if you can do dairy)
4 eggs
1.5 cups brown sugar
1.5 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla
(or all purpose flour for you wheat-eaters)

2 bags of chocolate chips (whatever brand you like - we are using the Trader Joe's brand here)

Cream together the "butters" and the sugars.

Add eggs and vanilla.

Mix the dry ingredients, then add gradually until incorporated.

Remove 1/4 of the dough and press into an 8" cake pan 
(I used disposable here - oooh - livin' on the edge!) 

Press chocolate chips into the dough however you'd like.

Divide the rest of the dough into three more baking pans.  

Alternately, you can use a larger pan (like a 9X13) for the rest.  
I did three pans total and a sheet of cookie dough balls, which I froze to bake later on.  
The kids had them last night after dinner and they worked perfectly.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.  They will NOT look done when you take them out, but trust me.  
They'll be perfect once they cool.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bread and Butter Pickles Take Two

We had a great time eating the bread and butter pickles over the last two weeks.  So much so that they were gone in a matter of days.  When I found pickling cucumbers at the farm stand again, I couldn't resist their siren song.

However, this time I wanted to try something new.  The turmeric left stains on our counters and the refrigerated pickles at the grocery store aren't day-glo yellow.  So, here is our second attempt with a few adjustments.

5 pounds of cucumbers
2 large white onions
1 cup of kosher salt

Pickling liquid:
3 3/4 cups of white vinegar
3 cups apple cider vinegar
6 3/4 cups sugar
3TBSP mustard seeds
2 1/4 tsp celery seeds
3 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp whole allspice berries
2 tsp cloves

Slice the cucumbers and onions to desired thickness.

Coat liberally with salt (you're going to rinse this - don't panic).

Cover with a tea towel, then a layer of ice, before refrigerating overnight (at least 6 hours).

Rinse WELL with cold water.  Think you're done?  Rinse again with fresh water.  

Pack the cucumbers and onions into jars and set aside.

Place all pickling liquid ingredients in a heavy bottomed non-reactive saucepan (think stainless steel).

Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.  

Carefully ladle the hot pickling liquid over your cucumbers.  
(A canning funnel is worth the $3 investment, trust me)

Place the lids on and stick in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Yum! (And no yellow fingers!)

*note: the other jars are giardiniera / giardinera

Monday, August 22, 2011

Queen of Knots - Gluten Free Chewy Soft Pretzels

I have a confession...

More recipes are flops than successes.  A lot of them are edible, but don't make it to the blog because I'm also neurotic a bit of a perfectionist.  And, as the cliche says, we are our worst critics.  So, when my almond pound cake didn't work out quite as beautifully as I hoped, it ended up in bellies instead of blogs.

But, I have another confession.  When things work out... really, really work out?  I am downright giddy.

Today - it worked out. 

It really worked.

We've been planning a massive road trip.  For those of us who have to be conscious of allergens, that often means two things.  1: research.  research.  research.  2: planning, and packing, a ton of food.

Fortunately, we've found several restaurants that will meet our family's needs.  But, we will also be planning, and packing, many of our meals.  While brainstorming recently, my 7 year old asked if we could bring pretzels.  "Not the crunchy kind, mom.  You know, the smooooooshy soft kind with the salt on the outside?"

I told her I'd try.

Recipe development can be an expensive thing.  Gluten Free flours are not cheap.  But, through Amazon subscribe and save, I can get my favorite for about $10 a bag.  That's not bad.  

We received a shipment last week and I've gone through a bag and a half already.  (See aforementioned pound cake)  Today made it all worthwhile.

Queen of Knots Gluten Free Smoooooshy Soft Pretzels
for Piper

1 tsp kosher salt
2 packets of yeast
2 TBSP sugar
2/3 cup water
2 eggs
2 packets unflavored gelatin, softened in 1/2 cup of cold water

2 TBSP olive oil

2/3 c baking soda
10 cups of water

Mix 2/3 C water, both packages of yeast, and 2 TBSP sugar and set aside to proof.

Place the dough hook on your stand mixer (or a dough blade on a cuisinart).  

In the bowl, mix together flour, salt, gelatin, yeast, and eggs. 

"Knead" with the mixer until the dough is combined and smooth.

Take dough by the handful and smooth into a uniform ball.  Lightly dust the surface with flour and roll out into about a 10" length, half an inch around.  (Think play-doh snakes).

Twist the ends and press them back down in a pretzel shape or leave them as sticks.  (You can "glue" the ends down with a little beaten egg or water).  

 Lay the finished pretzels on a silpat (or parchment) lined sheet pan.  Once all the pretzels are formed, brush the surfaces with olive oil.  Cover with damp towel and let rise (approximately 30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 325°

Mix 10 cups of water with 2/3 cup baking soda and bring to a simmer.

Carefully drop each pretzel into the soda bath for a minute, turning halfway.

Remove to the lined baking sheet.  Complete until all are par-boiled.

Sprinkle with salt, sesame, or poppy seeds (I used kosher salt).

Bake for 12 minutes.  

Try not to burn your mouth!

**gluten adaptation for Brooke:
Substitute 3 cups all-purpose flour and omit gelatin/water mixture.  :)


We re-made the recipe today and I decided to do a little troubleshooting, to see what could have gone wrong with Charlotte's batch.  Here is what I learned:

It is essential to add enough flour so that the dough is no longer sticky.  It's raining today, and it wasn't the first time, so humidity plays a role.  Additionally, you may need to add up to a cup to your dough to get it to a point where you can "snake" the dough.  A heavy dusting on the board/counter is important.

Also, when you first grab a handful of dough to form it into shape, press out any extra air.  The longer the dough sat, the more yeast reacted, the more airy it was.  This will make the pretzels fall apart as well.

In the soda bath stage, using a big spatula with holes or a spider (for frying foods) helps to flip them more gently without pulling.  They are very delicate, so be careful.  Something that keeps them flat is great.  That said, I did it today without flipping at all.  The soda bath bubbles up and over the pretzels and seems to work just fine.  30 seconds seems to work as well as one minute, so you can also cut the boil time.

After placing on the cookie sheet for baking, brush with an egg yolk, beaten with about a teaspoon of water.  Then add the salt.  This makes it brown beautifully.

I hope this helps!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Giant Gluten Free Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 Cup dates, pitted (fresh, not dried)
1/3 Cup water
1/2 cup Spectrum non-hydrogenated shortening or Earth Balance (or butter)
1 egg
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, blended in a food processor (or ninja) into a course meal

Puree dates and water in a food processor (I used my Ninja blender).  Scrape contents into a mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until flour is incorporated.

Form into patties by hand.  Place on a silpat (or parchment) lined baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 275°

Bake for 28-32 minutes.  (I put both sheets in the oven and rotated every 10 minutes for even distribution)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bread & Butter Pickles

While at the farm last weekend, I spied some pickling cucumbers.  Believe me, the temptation of the premade bread and butter pickles was strong.  But, for $4.65 a jar, I instead opted for the cucumbers.

I've never made real pickles before.  Pickled beets?  Yes.  Refrigerator pickles?  Sure.  Marinated cucumber salad?  You betcha.  But, it can't be that hard, right?

Apparently it's a long process.  But, no, it isn't hard.

First, wash and slice your cucumbers and a large white onion.  I started with about 8 cups of sliced cucumbers.  I could tell you how many pounds or how many cucumbers, but they are so varied in size and weight it wouldn't be very helpful.  Don't worry, it's not an exact science.  You can have a little extra pickling liquid.

Toss them together in a big bowl and cover with a quarter cup of kosher salt.  Lay a towel over the top (you want a tea towel not terry cloth) or a cloth napkin.  Top with ice and place in the refrigerator for four hours.  Why?  Beats me, but I read it everywhere while researching, so I did it.

These sat overnight.  

Remove the ice and the towel, then drain the salt water.  I gave them a good rinse because I made the mistake of eating one like this.  

Make your pickling liquid.

2 Cups of Sugar
1 Cups of Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Cup of White Vinegar
2 TBSP mustard seeds 
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp celery salt
1 cinnamon stick
10 cloves 

Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Place the cucumbers and onions in a jar (again, you can repurpose a jar for this - save a spaghetti sauce jar or one from artichoke hearts, like I do.  Since we're not actually canning it to be preserved, you just want something glass to let these sit in the fridge for a few days).

Ladle the hot liquid over the top until all the cucumbers are covered.

Place in the fridge for a few days.  Eat.  These last a while, too, because of the vinegar. 

I added some leftover beet juice to the center jar to see if we could get pink pickles.  I read a story about kool-aid pickles years ago and wanted to give it a try.  I'll let you know how that works out.

Pickled Beets

I have a confession.  I have always thought beets taste like blood and dirt.  I don't know why, since I don't make it a habit to consume either of these things.  But, that's the best description my eight year old mind could come up with and I stuck to it.

For a few years, we belonged to a CSA.  CSAs (or Community Supported Agriculture) are generally farms that you buy into.  We paid for several months of vegetables (and occasionally flowers and herbs).  The only catch was, we had to go pick it up.  Sometimes there were more tomatoes than we could eat (and we'd roast them), other times it was strange vegetables we'd never seen before (kohlrabi, anyone?).

Our first summer there, my children discovered that they loved sugar snap peas.  They devoured quarts of them on the drive home and happily plucked yellow pear tomatoes off the vine.  My oldest decided her favorite vegetable was flat leaf kale (more tender than its curly cousin) and I discovered that I tolerate okay, LOVE beets.  But they have to be my beets.  I still think canned beets are vile.

Saturday, a friend brought me to her favorite farm stand where they had beets for $1.50 a bunch.  She looked surprised to see me selecting all four bunches to take home.  "I thought you hated beets?"  So did I.  Until I learned to cook them.

First step?  Roast them.  Like every other vegetable, roasting is nearly the best way to get the best flavor. It concentrates, caramelizes, and deepens flavors.  It also makes things sweet (have you ever had a roasted carrot?  Try that sometime!)

I trimmed the greens off and discarded them.  Yes, you can eat them.  I'm not a fan of beet greens.  And I had let these sit on the counter for too long, so they were wilted.  Into the trash they went.  I left about an inch of stem on them.  I also trimmed off the long root tails.  My 11 year old daughter scrubbed with our veg hog.  Yep.  That's a real thing.  And he's cute.

Get all the dirt and mud off.  These grow in the ground, so yeah, they're dirty.

You can use a baking sheet, but mine was dirty.  So, I foil-lined my 9x13 pan.  You'll need to fully encapsulate these in foil, so make sure you leave enough around the edges to make a pocket.

Lay the clean beets in the middle.  Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle salt, and crack some pepper.  Because I knew I was going to use tarragon vinegar, I added about a half teaspoon of dried french tarragon to them before sealing it up.  (Orange zest would have been amazing, but I didn't have any.)

Seal the sides and top and place in a 400° oven for about 45 minutes.  Check them with a paring knife to make sure they're soft.  Guess what?  Mine weren't.  So, they went back into the oven for about 20 more minutes.

Let them cool.  Trust me.   It's not worth it.  I roasted mine last night.

This morning, they were tender and soft and the skin peeled right off.  I just ran cool water over them and rubbed them between my fingers.  Easy, easy.  I was even talking on the phone while I did it!

Now, for the pickled part of pickled beets.  My harvest was about 16 beets.  You can absolutely halve that, if no one else in your family likes them.  (Or even quarter that)  But I'll tell you this - my kids ALL love them now, so be prepared to share.

Approximately 16 roasted beets
1 large red onion
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of tarragon vinegar
1 cup of red wine vinegar
3 tsp kosher salt

Slice the beets as thin or as thick as you like.  You could absolutely shred them (gently) and make a sort of beet slaw or dice them into matchsticks.  I like them very, very thinly sliced (almost shaved).  I also like my onion very thinly sliced.  A mandoline would be handy here.  

Layer the beets and onions in jars.  I alternated them, but really?  It doesn't matter.  You can just toss them into a jar.  Heck you can even use a re-purposed jar because we're not canning these.  They're just going into the fridge.  (I wouldn't use plastic, though.  The acidity in the vinegar is not going to be a good match for plastic.)

In a pot, combine your pickling ingredients:

2 cups of sugar
1 cup of tarragon vinegar
1 cup of red wine vinegar
3 tsp kosher salt

Bring to a simmer.  Your house will smell like pickles, but the kids asked, "What is that delicious smell?"

Once the sugar has melted into the vinegars, you can remove it from the stove.  Carefully pour it over the beets and onions.  Put a lid on it.  Refrigerate it.  Wait a few days.  Eat it.  

Seriously, you want a minimum of 3 days.  I'd say a week is even better.  

Gluten Free Peach Spoonbread

Over a decade ago, I was given a recipe for peach cobbler.  And while I know that cobblers are generally interpreted in many ways, I've come to realize that this is not a cobbler.  Some people seem to think a cobbler is an upside-down pie.  I'm a believer in sweet biscuity dough with cooked fruit. Either way, this batter is more of a pancake than a biscuit.  So, after a brief conversation last night, I've declared this a spoonbread.

"Spoonbread or Spoon Bread is a pudding-like bread generally eaten with a spoon or fork."  That sounds right to me.  Yes, I realize it's usually cornbread or corn meal.  But, it's the best I've got, so bear with me.

1 stick of butter (or earth balance equivalent, as seen here)

3 cups of peeled, sliced peaches
1 cup of sugar

Combine in a bowl and set aside.  This is "macerating" your fruit.

1 cup of sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4ths of a cup of milk (soy, coconut, almond, dairy, all work)

Whisk until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 350°.  The original recipe called for a dutch oven.  To be honest, I think a cast iron skillet is the way to go here, but mine was donated last year.  

So, I went with a stoneware 9x13 and doubled the recipe.

When the oven is hot, place the butter or margarine in your pan and set it back into the oven until melted.

Remove the hot pan from the oven (carefully!) and slowly pour the batter into the preheated pan.

Now gently spoon the peaches (and their juice) atop the batter.

Return to the oven and bake for about an hour.  

Mine took about an hour and a half because it was doubled.

Serve when the edges are golden brown and crispy.  

I highly recommend frozen custard, if you can find it.  Otherwise, vanilla ice cream will do.