A Unique Granola that’s worth a try

Granola

Though oats are completely gluten free—they often get a bad rap in the gluten free world because they are processed in the same plant as wheat. If you get certified gluten free oats though, they are a great grain to cook with {I like the gluten free oats by Trader Joes}. This recipe by Nigella Lawson caught my eye because of the use of a couple different seeds and the ginger. I also thought it was interesting that she used apple sauce. I had never seen this before, but the claim was that it would make the oats really crispy. I think it worked! This granola was delicious.  One other change I made was to use agave syrup instead of honey.  FYI: this recipe makes a HUGE batch so package a couple cups up and give it to friends!

4 ½ cups rolled oats

1 cup sunflower seeds

¾ cup white sesame seeds

¾ cup apple sauce (or apple compote)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¾ cup agave

¾ cup soft light brown sugar

2 cups whole natural almonds

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups raisins

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients, except the raisins, in a large bowl. I used 2 large spatulas to get this stick concoctions completely mixed in.
  3. Spread the mixture out on 2 baking sheets.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 50 miunutes- or until nice and golden all over. Stir the oats a couple times during the baking to ensure an even toasting throughout.
  5. Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool complexly before tossing in the raisins.

 

 

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

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I have recently been on the search for the perfect “healthy” muffin that I can snack on for breakfast with out feeling like I have just had birthday cake for breakfast. This is NOT that muffin. This is your classic, all the way, over the top, indulgent blueberry muffin.

I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record when I say “you would never know this muffin is gluten free.” So I’m going to stop using that phrase. Instead, I’m just going to pronounce this an awesome blueberry muffin recipe (perfect for anyone avoiding gluten). These came out moist and delicious– just as you would expect from a blueberry muffin recipe. The yogurt and lemon give these muffins a zesty flavor that keeps you wanting more.

Enjoy!

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

INGREDIENTS

Muffin Batter:
2 1/4 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Mix (see Below)
heaping 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp loosely packed lemon zest
3 tsp lemon juice (wishing I had put more)
1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
1 cup fresh blueberries

Muffin Topping:
3/4 cup GF all purpose mix
pinch of salt
3 TBSP brown sugar
1 TBSP granulated sugar
4 TBSP butter, softened

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Sift gluten free flour mix, salt, and baking soda together in a bowl and set aside.
3. Beat together the butter, eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and Greek Yogurt. Gently fold in the dry ingredients- being sure not to over-mix.
4. Toss your blueberries with a pinch of the flour mixture and then gently fold them into the batter.
5. Scoop into prepared muffin pan or baking cups. { I used these decorative paper cups to make 6-8 large muffins. I think this batter would be enough for 12 regular sized muffins. Tip: The batter was pretty thick, so after scooping out the batter into the cups, wet your finger and smooth out the batter in the cups so that it is evenly distributed. This will ensure an even rise.}
6. In a separate bowl, use your hands to mix together your topping. This shouldn’t be too uniformly mixed, there should be clumps of butter. Place a heaping spoonful directly on top of each muffin- pressing down just a tiny bit.
7. Bake in a 350 degree oven. Large muffins take about 30 minutes, but regular sized will take about 15-20 minutes (test with a cake tester at about 15 min). The tops should be slightly golden and the topping is nice and crisp.

GLUTEN FREE ALL PURPOSE FLOUR MIX
(this will be enough for this recipe and you will have a little extra left over)

8.25 ounces brown rice flour, approximately 1 1/2 cups
8.25 ounces sorghum flour, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1.8 ounces cornstarch, approximately 6 TBSP
3/4 ounce tapioca flour, approximately 3 tablespoons
1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

Recent Dining Out Desserts

Macaron Cake, web large

A couple months ago I attended the Annual Houston Food Bank’s Chef Dinner.  Chefs from around Houston prepared dishes for this evenings 6 course dinner.  To my surprise, the dessert was gluten free. This Chocolate & Raspberry Mini Macaron “Cake” was made by the pastry chef of Olivette, Catherine Roderiguez. I loved the chocolate macaron and,of course, devoured the whole thing.

banana split

I don’t generally like banana’s, but when it’s the only dessert on the menu that’s gluten free, I make an exception. This banana split had vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and salted caramelized nuts. I avoided the banana (the one healthy item in the mason jar), but loved the rest of the salty-sweet dish. The mason jar was also a nice touch.

tea and macaron

I recently traveled to Vietnam with my sister on a whirlwind food tour of the country. The food was, in a word, amazing. The desserts were, in a word, strange.  The desserts generally had some type of green jelly layered under a non-descriptive custard-consistency goop. Needless to say, I avoided all of them. To my delight though, my favorite dessert,  French macarons, happened to be peppered throughout the country. This  was just one example that of the French influence that still remains in Vietnam from their time of occupation (from 1887-1940).   This photo is taken from high tea at our hotel in Hanoi… where the just gave away macarons for free! Best hotel ever, right??

Rice Krispie Ice Cream Sandwich

Rice Krispie Ice Cream Sandwiches

During the summer, ice cream desserts just seem to hit the spot. These Rice Krispie Ice Cream Sandwich couldn’t be easier and fun to make. Unfortunately, the first time I made these I didn’t allow enough time for the ice cream to harden so we just scooped it into bowls and ate it with a spoon. Even though they weren’t exactly “sandwiches”, the spooned out version was still delicious (can’t go wrong with toasted rice krispies, coconut, brown sugar, and butter).

RICE KRISPIE ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

2 1/2 cups Gluten Free Rice Krispie Cereal
1 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
3/4 cups brown sugar
8 tablespoons real butter (1 stick), melted
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened to the consistency of soft serve

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil, extending a little over the edges of pan.
  2. Place Rice Krispies, pecans, coconut, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle melted butter over mixture and combine well.  Spread mixture out onto a sheet tray and toast until crispy and golden brown, stirring once or twice during cooking time.  Remove from oven and allow mixture to cool completely.
  3. Spread half of crispy mixture on the bottom of the 9 x 13 pan.  Gently spoon softened ice cream on top of mixture.  Use a spoon or a small offset spatula to spread the ice cream, being careful to not lift up crisp from bottom of pan.  Top ice cream with remaining crisp mixture.  Gently press top crisp into ice cream with hands.  Cover pan with plastic or foil and chill until firm (preferably overnight.)  When ready to serve, use foil to completely remove ice cream from pan and slice into squares.

Next time I think I’ll go a little more crisp and a slightly thinner ice cream section. Also, it would be fun to mix up the flavors; use walnuts instead of pecans, add a little maple syrup to the crisp, change up the ice cream flavor, add chocolate chips. So many possibility. Enjoy!

Italian Amaretti

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A couple months ago I made, what I thought were, the easiest gluten free cookie in the book- peanut butter cookies. I think I have found a recipe that is actually EVEN easier. The Italian Amaretti cookie has just 3 ingredients: almond paste, sugar, and egg whites. You pulse all the ingredients in a food processor then pipe it out onto parchment paper lined sheet trays. Bake for 15-18 minutes and you have a delightful almond cookie that is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. These cookies are great on their own, but sandwiching 2 together with some ganache made for a wonderful sweet. It is a lot like a French macaron, but with fewer steps. Another blogger recommend putting a jam or preserve in the middle- that sounds like a great idea too.

ITALIAN AMARETTI

1 (7-ounce) tube pure almond paste (not marzipan; 3/4 cup)
1 cup sugar
Pinch of Kosher salt
2 large egg whites at room temperature for at least 30 minutes

1. Preheat oven to 300°F and place racks in the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper.

2. Pulse almond paste, sugar and salt in a food processor until broken up, then add egg whites and puree until smooth. Transfer batter to pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch tip and pipe 3/4-inch rounds (1/3 inch high) about 1-inch apart in pans. Dip a fingertip in water and gently tamp down any peaks.

3. Bake, rotating and switching position of pans halfway through, until golden and puffed, 15 to 18 minutes.

4. Let cookies cool almost completely in their pans. Once cool, they’re much easier to cleanly remove from the parchment. You can make them into sandwich cookies but spreading some ganache (3 ounces of semi-sweet chips melted with 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream, then left to thicken a bit would be enough to sandwich the whole batch).

{Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two or frozen up to one month.}

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I accidentally over baked one of the trays, so half came out a little crisper than I would have liked (they were perfect for dipping in coffee).

There’s Something About Meringue

Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Cake

There’s something about meringue that just makes me smile. Whether it’s a cookie , a cake , or an icing….I absolutely love making meringues. I don’t know if it’s the moment when the egg whites double, then triple, then quadruple in size that makes me happier or the part where you fold all the fun ingredients into the shiny {and sugary} egg whites.

I made this cake for my mother’s recent birthday party and I was surprised by how much people liked it. Generally, I don’t think people love meringue as much as I do, but this combination of hazelnut, chocolate, and whipped cream seemed to be a real crowd pleaser.

I found the original recipe on Food & Wine magazine’s website and followed it closely, only making a couple changes. One thing that is very important when making this dessert is to chop the hazelnuts by hand; this makes a huge difference. It was nice to have the  slightly varied sizes of hazelnut pieces throughout the meringue (you can kind of see that in this photo below).

folding meringue

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT MERINGUE CAKE

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (7 ounces)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, roughly chopped {the size of a mini chocolate chips}
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 8-inch rounds on one sheet of the parchment and one 8-inch round on the other.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts on a third baking sheet and toast for 12 to 14 minutes, until browned. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a towel and rub to remove the skins. Chop the nuts. Lower the oven temperature to 225°.
  3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar at high speed until stiff. Beat in the vanilla extracts. Fold in the hazelnuts and semi sweet chocolate. Pour the melted chocolate down the side of the bowl and gently fold until the meringue is lightly marbled. Don’t fold too much! The more marbled, the cooler.
  4. Spread the meringue in the drawn circles and bake for 2 hours and 30 minutes, until crisp; rotate the pans halfway through baking. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the meringues cool completely.
  5. In the bowl of the standing mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar until firm. Remove the meringues from the parchment paper. Spread the whipped cream on the layers and stack them. Refrigerate or freeze the cake overnight. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature. Garnish with chocolate shavings before serving {to make the chocolate shavings: use a vegetable peeler on a large/thick bar of chocolate}.

Buttery Biscuits by the Bay

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On the weekends, my favorite treat is a vanilla latte from Blacksmith Coffee. When I’m in there on Saturdays, though, I can’t help but drool over the amazing biscuits that are coming out of the kitchen. Unfortunately, I’ve never had one (because they are gluten-full) but I have have been itching to make some gluten free biscuits for weeks!

A chef I work with stumbled upon this Rice Shortcake recipe and passed it along. This recipe is for a sweet shortcake; I was interested in a savory biscuit, so I cut back on the sugar and upped the salt. Here is the original recipe- adjust to your needs. White rice flour can sometimes be gritty in baked desserts. This  Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice Flour, however, was not gritty at all and the recipe makes a wonderfully flaky and buttery biscuit.  I was actually shocked by how great they turned out; my biscuit making history is full of dense, heavy, pellets of bread.

Biscuits

Shortcakes

12.5 ounces (2½ cups) Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice Flour, plus additional for coating and cutting 
tablespoons sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt
ounces (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted European-style butter, cut into 8 pieces

8 to 10 ounces (1 to 1¼ cups) whole milk, plus 1 tablespoon for brushing the biscuits
  1. Adjust the oven racks to the lower-middle and uppermost positions and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place it in a second baking sheet for insulation.
  2. Place the rice flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor bowl and pulse to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the dry ingredients and process to a coarse meal, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add 8 ounces (1 cup) of milk. Blend lightly but evenly with a rubber spatula. Add more milk—up to 2 ounces (¼ cup)—if the dough feels dry. (The dough should be fairly wet.) Allow the dough to rest briefly, about 2 minutes.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out or pat into a 7-inch disk, about ¾ inch thick. Using the back of a chef’s knife or a bench knife, score the disk lightly into 8 wedges (fig. 5.1). Dipping the knife or bench knife into flour to prevent sticking, cut along the scored lines all the way through the dough, and then carefully (this dough is delicate!) lift the wedges one by one with a spatula and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Score the back of each wedge with a paring knife (fig. 5.2); this will make the shortcakes easier to halve once they’re baked. Brush the wedges with the 1 tablespoon milk and sprinkle them with sugar.
  4. Set the baking sheet on the lower oven rack and bake 10 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through. Transfer the baking sheet to the upper rack and bake 10 minutes more, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through. Let the shortcakes cool completely on the baking sheet.

Notes: I didn’t have my food processor available, so I cut the butter into the flour the old school way with 2 knives and a strong whisk.

Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies

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Peanut Butter cookies are officially the easiest gluten free cookie to make.  The first recipe I posted makes the perfect chewy chocolate chip peanut butter cookie.  This recipe, however, produces one pretty perfect CRISPY peanut butter cookie.  They come out just like the cross hatched peanut butter cookies your mom used to make.  What’s also fun is that this recipe is super easy to jazz up. I added a couple tablespoons of Nutella to make them Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies. Then, I didn’t stop there there. I topped them off  with a couple tablespoons of marshmallow fluff.

Hint: These are great cookies to bake for your gluten free friends!

The Best Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup natural peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place racks in the upper and lower third of the oven
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until well combined. {If you want to add nutella or marshmallow fluff, add it here. Just don’t stir too much; the swirls and the big clumps of marshmallow fluff look cool}. 
  3. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mix about 1 inch apart onto un-greased baking sheets; flatten mounds with the tines of a fork, making a cross-hatch pattern on the cookies
  4. Bake until golden around edges (approx. 10 mins), switching the position of the pans halfway through baking; transfer to racks to cool; repeat with the remaining dough

Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

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A couple weeks ago, I was itching to make a Salted Butter Caramel sauce (the real french style). After scouring a handful of my favorite blogs, I finally found a recipe I wanted to try. I made the sauce, tried it myself, and was immediately addicted. The salted caramel, however, has a very distinct  and rich caramel taste that comes from bringing it to the brink of a burn. I like that flavor.. but  wasn’t sure of other people would. I live alone, so over a week went by with out any other tasters. In my haste to make dinner for my brothers one night, I realized I hadn’t planned anything for dessert {which is very unlike me}. So I picked up vanilla and coffee ice cream and decided to serve it with my caramel sauce { I felt like my grandmother and mother; they always seemed to have fudge sauce- or some dessert- that’s ready at a moment’s notice if guests arrive}. I served my brothers ice cream with salted butter caramel sauce that night and I’m proud to say it was a huge success. My brother, Michael, liked it so much he took a jar home; I hear he eats a little every night.

This caramel sauce is salted only with the salt of the butter that is used to make it and I think that’s what makes this so addicting!  It is easy to make (if you follow the instructions carefully) and so satisfying– making it a great item to have in your refrigerator.

I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen She goes into some wonderful depth about making caramels in her post. She recommends getting the best European butter you can find for this recipe; I used the best I could find at Central Market and it definitely made a difference. My advice is to read everything she has to say… caramel can be tricky!

Deep, Dark Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

[Sauce au Caramel au Beurre Salé]

Makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 cup sugar
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) salted butter, the better you can get, the better it will taste
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature

Melt the sugar over medium to moderately high heat in a larger pot than you think you’ll need–at least two or three quarts, whisking or stirring the sugar as it melts to ensure it heats evenly. Cook the liquefied sugar to a nice, dark copper color. Add the butter all at once and stir it in, before turning off the stove and pour in the heavy cream (The sauce will foam up quite a bit when you add it; this is why you want the larger pot.), whisking it until you get a smooth sauce.

You use it right away or pour it into a jar and store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. When you take it out, it will likely have thickened a bit but 60 seconds in the microwave brings it right back to pouring consistency.

Serve over everything.

Hazelnut Brown Butter Brownies

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If I could trace back to a single recipe that made me realize that gluten free baking wasn’t going to be all that bad… I would say it was this recipe by Stella Parks.  After many many failed attempts to make cakes, muffins, and other baked goods, I came across this recipe in Food and Wine Magazine.  I remember being on the brink of giving up all hope that I could make a great baked good without fluffy gluten-full flour. I even considered getting rid of all of my baking cookbooks because I was so frustrated.  But when I saw this recipe and photo I knew I had to give it one more attempt. This brownie looked and sounded too good to be true.  Lucky for me… it was a great recipe. I took them to work the next day and no one would have ever known they were gluten free. They were extremely chocolaty and delightfully moist– Just as a brownie should be.   After making the brownies I actually wrote the chef an email because I was so elated with the way they turned out. She wrote back to me saying  “ Many chefs see gluten free baking as a “restriction” but I think the person who commits to a lifetime of baking with only one kind of flour is the one with the restriction…” How very well said!

Stella has a great website named bravetart.com  Check it out!

Hazelnut Brown Butter Brownies

7 ounces hazelnuts

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups sugar

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 percent), chopped

6 large eggs

1 tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water

1.      Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, pressing it into the corners and leaving overhang on the 2 short sides.

2.     Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for 15 minutes, until fragrant and the skins blister; transfer to a kitchen towel to cool slightly, then rub off the skins. Let cool completely. Transfer the nuts to a food processor. Add the cocoa, salt and 1/2 cup of the sugar and pulse until finely ground.

3.     In a large saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until nutty-smelling and golden and the foam subsides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate; let stand until melted, about 2 minutes. Whisk the butter and chocolate until smooth, scraping up any browned butter solids from the bottom of the pan. Let cool slightly.

4.     In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the remaining 2 1/2 cups of sugar and the coffee until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Beat in the chocolate-butter mixture. Add the cocoa-hazelnut mixture and beat to combine, scraping down the bowl. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until the top is glossy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the brownie cool completely on a rack, then refrigerate until chilled.

5.      Lift the brownie out of the pan and peel off the foil. Cut into 20 pieces and serve.

SERVE WITH Ice cream.