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Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baking. Show all posts

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Chewy Vegan Gluten-Free Brownies


Last night after a full day of surfing and our weekly family grill night, Rich said he was craving brownies. I love having a stocked pantry that allows me to whip up whatever sounds yummy at the moment. Good quality cocoa powder is a must. My favorite is Equal Exchange Baking Cocoa, which is fair trade and has such a profound impact on all of my baked goods. A baking cupboard full of gluten-free flours is helpful, too.

The foundation for this recipe came from my much loved (and smeared with lots of chocolate) copy of Babycakes by Erin McKenna. However, I changed the recipe substantially, skipping the applesauce, chocolate chips, and xanthan gum. I also used palm shortening instead of coconut oil and used brown sugar in place of white sugar because the complexity of brown sugar complements chocolate so beautifully, which I learned about 10 years ago from Nigella Lawson in How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

These brownies are crispy on the edges and decadently chewy on the inside. We ate them straight out of the pan while they were still so hot they burned our mouths and crumbled everywhere. Hey, surfing burns a lot of calories. We were hungry! They are even better once they cool off a bit.

Yields 15 small squares 
1 cup garbanzo (chickpea) flour
1/4 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
3/4 cup brown sugar* or coconut palm sugar  
2 teaspoons double-acting, aluminum free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 scant teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup palm shortening
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon powdered sugar* (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a 6x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper. 
  2. Combine the garbanzo flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. 
  3. Add the palm shortening, vanilla extract, and hot water and stir until just combined. 
  4. Spread the mixture into the baking dish and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 27 minutes. The top will still be slightly jiggly. 
  5. Allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before sifting powdered sugar over the top, slicing and serving. 

*Note: If you are vegan, look for a vegan brown sugar and powdered sugar. Alternately, use coconut palm sugar and skip the powdered sugar.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Paleo Vegetarian Pot Pie




Chicken pot pie combines everything wonderful about fall and winter into one dish – thick and savory broth, moist dark meat chicken, and sweet peas and carrots enveloped in a buttery pastry. For my family, however, it combines all of the things we cannot or choose not to eat, wheat, dairy, and meat (Rich has been a vegetarian since before I met him). 

For years, I’ve looked at chicken pot pie longingly, wishing I could adapt it to all of our dietary preferences. I finally decided to tackle it an am so glad I did. Here’s what I learned:

First, individual serving dishes allow you to tailor each one to suit each person’s taste. Chicken for me and the kids. Freshly ground pepper for me and Rich. 

Second, the best thing about many meaty dishes is the sauce or other flavors you add to it. Chicken pot pie is no different. Capture the essence of the dish and it’s a win! 


This version is both paleo and can be vegetarian (simply leave out the chicken or replace it with diced mushrooms), which means it’s also dairy free (use palm shortening instead of butter) and gluten free.

Serves 4 

2 cups blanched almond flour
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 medium egg, whisked
1 tablespoon ice water
2 tablespoons butter or palm shortening 

1 cup vegetable broth
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
3 carrots, sliced
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken, optional
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
½ teaspoon sea salt 

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Coat the interior of four 2-cup ramekins with butter or palm shortening. 

2. To make the pastry, combine the almond flour, tapioca starch, and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times just to combine. Add the egg and ice water and process until thoroughly integrated. Add the butter or palm shortening and pulse a few times, allowing small bits to remain. 

3. Remove the dough, place on a sheet of parchment paper and top with a second sheet. Roll the dough out between the sheets. Fold the dough in thirds, as if folding a business letter, and roll out again. If it seems sticky, slide it onto a sheet pan and place in the freezer for 5 minutes. 


4. Turn a ramekin upside down on the pastry dough to trace a circle around it with a sharp knife. You will need to re-roll the dough for the final circle. Allow the pastry to rest in the refrigerator while you get on with the filling. 

5. Combine the tapioca starch and 3 tablespoons of the vegetable broth in a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining vegetable broth. Add the vegetables, thyme, and sea salt. If using chicken, add it now. Divide the mixture between the ramekins. 


6. If you have little ones, use two 6-ounce ramekins instead of one of the larger ones so each kiddo gets his or her own portion.


7. Top each ramekin with pastry and press the edges down to create a seal. Pierce the top with a sharp knife a few times to allow steam to escape. 

8. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Brunch Tart with Roasted Garlic and Tomato, Kalamata, Orange Salad


Do you remember Christmas morning as a child? I remember my mom making cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve and letting them rise all night. When we awoke, she popped them in the oven, so by the time we finished plowing through our loot, we had some real sustenance. They were the highlight of our year.

Unfortunately, after we had nibbled through all of the chocolate, oranges, candy canes and nuts filling our stockings, we needed sugar about as much as an alcoholic needs another drink. That didn't stop us. By 11AM we were all blissfully sick with a stomach ache.

Now that I'm all grown up, I like to think about how food will make me feel before I shove it into my face. So, when I made this tart a few nights ago, I realized immediately its potential for a perfect Christmas morning breakfast. The best part, at least as far as I see it, is that you can stumble through preparation in the morning with about as much effort as it takes to start coffee. Happy Christmas!

serves 4-6 

1 head garlic, roasted
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
sea salt and white pepper, to taste

1 prepared tart shell (I made mine from Annalise Roberts' Gluten Free Baking Classics)

1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
zest from one orange
1 tablespoon olive oil

Blind bake the tart shell for about 7-10 minutes.

Whiz the garlic, eggs, and half and half in a blender until thoroughly combined.

(At this point, you can put the shell and filling in the refrigerator until the morning.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the tart pan on a larger cookie sheet. Pour the filling into the shell. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the tart is set and top begins to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Toss the salad ingredients together and serve atop the tart.

(adapted from Tyler Florence, who else)


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Savory I'itoi Onion Tart


The i'itoi onion is not native to Arizona, having hitched a ride to the so-called new world with Jesuit missionaries in the late 17th century. Nevertheless, we have adopted it as our own, and no one more so than the folks at Crooked Sky Farms, who possess an evangelical zeal about this amazing little onion. It multiplies rapidly, from one small bulb to as many as 140 in just one season. And, it grows about 11 months out of the year here. That's a big deal in a place with an annual rainfall of about eight inches. 

So, when Frank at Crooked Sky sent me home with a huge bunch of these onions, I was eager to see whether their flavor equaled their agricultural chops. They're somewhere between shallots and scallions, however, their green tops are more fibrous than scallions'. They stood up well to a brief saute and baking in this simple supper or brunch tart. 


serves four

olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small bunch i'itoi onions

4 large, cage-free eggs
1 pint organic half and half 
4 ounces grated hard cheese, such as asiago, romano and parmigiano reggiano 
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

prepared 10" tart shell, blind baked 

Remove the top half of the onions and split them lengthwise. Saute them for about two to four minutes in olive oil and butter. Remove them to the tart shell.

In a large measuring cup, whisk the eggs until smooth, then add the half and half and grated cheese. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Pour the mixture over the onions in the tart shell and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and mostly set. Allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Green Chile Enchiladas


You know I don't normally care about making things easy, unless of course we're talking about all of the screw-top wines out of Britain, in which case--I'm sorry the puns are too easy here--let's toast to another year behind us.

Tonight I made these awesome green chile enchiladas with queso fresco and scallions. Seriously, I don't even need to give you the recipe; that's it. But, I will anyway.

Serves 4

1  package queso fresco
1 package corn tortillas
28 ounces chile verde enchilada sauce
3 green onions, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Ladle about 1 cup of enchilada sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish.

Crumble the queso fresco and combine with the green onions and cilantro. Fill each tortilla with the cheese mixture and snuggle them down into the casserole dish, with the seam side down.

Top with the remaining sauce and a few tablespoons of queso fresco. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Enjoy.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Vegan Baking Failure




I knew it was a disaster long before Rich began making Jabba the Hut noises as the frosting fell languorously on itself like a melting snowman. But his blubbering sealed the deal. So sad. At least the frosting tasted good, which is more than I can say for the cake.

"Don't worry, hon! It's light as a feather," Rich said. "A feather wrapped in a brick."


I am coming to the conclusion that I am not a baker. Last night I tried to make a vegan white cake with vegan frosting. My purpose was twofold. First, Rich--the man behind many of the wonderful photographs on this blog--just signed an agreement to be an exclusive photographer with iStock photo. (See his portfolio here) We celebrated with a bottle of champagne and...  well, cake.



Second, I'm hosting a baby shower in one month. I'm going all in. They're having a girl, so I'm giving full vent to an obsession with pink. The invitations are in pink envelopes, with handmade pink paper, an excessive, pink, script font, even tulle. I'm planning to hang paper lanterns and make those tissue-paper poufs to hang from the ceiling of my conservatory. The menu will feature a mini garden patch display of vegetables, crackers with cherry-jalepeno preserves and cream cheese, pink lemonade and a seven-layer pink ombre cake. I know, I'm getting a little carried away.

I got to thinking, perhaps I could get away with serving a vegan, gluten-free cake at the shower without anyone noticing. That should have been my warning right there. I imagined my smug satisfaction. A gorgeous cake. Secretly vegan. With varying shades of raspberry-hued frosting. A stunning victory.

For all of these to take place, I knew I needed practice. I've never baked a vegan cake before. Sure, I make a great vegan apple-cinnamon swirl bread, from the cookbook Babycakes, but it's not the same as white cake.

I made the cake with coconut oil, a gluten-free flour blend, apple sauce, agave and plenty of leavening. I had hoped to create an ombre effect in the actual layers of the cake, but without the use of artificial colors, that was challenging. Pomegranate juice creates more of a grayish hue than pink when baked. As for the frosting, I used icing sugar, coconut oil, almond milk, a pinch of salt and raspberry puree to color it.


I've never thought so highly of dough conditioners as I do now. All of the franken-science and engineering and marketing that goes into boxed cake mixes make them fluffy and light and everything wonderful you expect in a cake. Oh yeah, and I'm sure eggs don't hurt either.

Most of the cake ended up in the bin. So also did my ambition to pass off a vegan cake at the baby shower. Furthermore, Brad just walked into the living room and said, "I thought you were going to save me a piece of cake, but I didn't see any on the counter, so I tasted it out of the garbage." Nice. I'm sure I'll try again sometime, but for now, I'm going to run right out to the store and pick up some BHT-laced cake mix and red-dye-#3-colored frosting. 
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