Monday, September 28, 2015

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pancakes (lower carb, low-sugar, gluten-free)

This is a version of the recipe that we have almost every Saturday. We vary it by making it as crepes and filling it with fruit, as pancakes and adding berries or sugar-free chocolate chips or nuts to the batter, or baking it in the oven with apples or stone fruit for another texture. Nathaniel was craving Mexican hot chocolate, so I added a few ingredients to our standard recipe.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pancakes 
For two thick 6" pancakes or 4-6 thinner crepes:

4 large eggs
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Splenda packets or equivalent sweetener (we don't like ours too sweet so you should find what works for you)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Sugar-free chocolate chips or super dark chocolate chips (optional)

Blend everything except chocolate chips together. (I use an immersion blender.) Heat small skillet pan to medium heat. Add about half the batter if you're making two thick pancakes, sprinkling chocolate chips in the pan if you choose to use them. Cook until set and flip.

We ate our pancakes with bananas, sugar-free maple syrup and sugar-free whipped cream. It would have been nice with pecans too!

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Visit to Vortex Doughnuts in Asheville, NC

Asheville has always been the Appalachian brother of Portland, OR, so it was no surprise to see a doughnut shop open there. Vortex Doughnuts opened in October 2014 and is going strong, with freshly made doughnuts, including vegan doughnut and drink options, locally sourced ingredients, and business choices such as paying employees a living wage. Oh Asheville, you complete me.

On Labor Day, with the day to myself and seeing in Instagram that they'd still be open, I decided to journey up there to see what they had going on. I joined the Ashevillians in line for doughnuts and ordered a box of four plus one of the interesting drinks. I ended up with three cake and one yeast raised doughnut - one apple cider, one Black Mountain Chocolate ganache, one blood orange (and chocolate drizzle), and the yeast doughnut was topped with a raspberry and matcha glaze. I chose a Thai Eye Opener for a drink - two shots of espresso, lemongrass syrup, and coconut milk (so a vegan option by default.)

It seemed like the flavor options were available as either cake or yeast, and I saw something on the board about chocolate cake, but during the minutes I was ordering, there wasn't a chocolate cake doughnut in sight. I know their flavors change frequently, and following them on Instagram can be quite alluring.  

The yeast doughnut was fine, but these are not my favorite kinds of doughnuts. I always judge a doughnut place on its cake doughnut and I have to say that their cake doughnuts were impressive. The one topped with Black Mountain ganache may have been the most perfect cake doughnut of all cake doughnuts. It had a slight chew instead of being stale or crumbly. It had been freshly topped, unlike a certain unnamed local donutier who makes her doughnuts the night before she sells them, which is doughnut blasphemy.  They are creative with flavor but start with a good base. It isn't just cleverness; it's backed up with quality. I feel I have to clarify after a disappointing trip to Portland's Voodoo Doughnuts, which long ago traded quality for kitsch. 

I try not to eat a lot of sugar but I would probably return to Vortex just to try another creative drink. They have a few details that they would benefit from sorting out - the one public bathroom had a line the entire time I was there, and most of the people there had parked illegally since there aren't enough spaces in the immediate vicinity.  These are practicalities that I hope the business will attend to as they grow their customer base.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Palacsintas (Hungarian Crepes)

 Palacsintas with Apricot Jam and Powdered Sugar

1 cup whole milk
1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 extra large eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter
¾ cup apricot jam*
⅓ cup confectioners sugar

Blend the milk, flour, sugar, eggs, and a pinch of salt in a blender. Melt 2 tbsp of the butter and add to the blender. Blend until smooth.

Melt 1 tsp butter in an 8-inch skillet. Coat the bottom of the pan with a very thin layer of batter. Basically make crepes, don’jt feel like typing it all. After flipping and cooking 30 seconds, while still in pan, put a heaping tablespoon of jam down the center of the crepe and roll up, pressing slightly. Transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Repeat to make 8, adding butter as you go. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar pushed through a sieve.

*I used raspberry!

This recipe comes from Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease: 325 Inspiring Recipes from Award-Winning Chef Rozanne Gold 

Like pancakes? I seem to make them from around the world! Check out the Finnish pannukakku, Icelandic pönnukökur, Papua New Guinean banana pancakes, the Danish ebleskiver, and what we call the German oven apple pancake. I also made ratio pancakes from Michael Ruhlman's book, which we can call American.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Coffee Cake Banana Bread (low-sugar, low-carb, paleo)

PaleOMG remains one of my go-to websites particularly for weekend breakfasts, and this coffee cake banana bread is no exception. Since I now keep almond flour, coconut sugar, and coconut flour on hand, I had all the ingredients I needed. I did substitute coconut flour for maple syrup in the cake part and found it to definitely be sweet and moist enough with that substitution.

I'm even including a picture of the full loaf because I love how the streusel looks. 

  • 3 brown bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (or coconut sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup almond butter (or other nut/seed butter)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
For the toppings
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) grass fed butter, at room temperature (or coconut oil)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup pecans, crushed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8.5×4.5 baking dish with oil then line the middle with parchment paper. It will make it easier to remove from the pan without it coming apart.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together bananas, maple syrup, vanilla extract, eggs, and almond butter.
  3. Then add coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix well.
  4. Pour batter into baking dish. Place on a baking sheet.
  5. In a small bowl, add butter, coconut sugar, almond flour, cinnamon, and pecans. Use your hands to mix the toppings together.
  6. Place chunks of the toppings all around the top of the banana bread mixture.
  7. Place in oven to bake for 50 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, place on cooling rack and let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.