Sunday, April 24, 2011

Welcome Spring!

Fresh Strawberry Cake
I know this is the second recipe in a row I have linked to from Two Peas and Their Pod, but when I saw this recipe I knew I'd make it the very first time I had my hand on local strawberries. Saturday, we went hiking a bit around the waterfalls of North Carolina around Brevard, and drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville. People were selling boiled peanuts and strawberries everywhere, so we were happy to buy some of each!

This cake is simple, lovely, and flavorful. It is amazing what an hour in the oven does for strawberries. I used almond extract instead of vanilla, and I read in the comments on the blog the recipe comes from that adding orange or lemon zest was also tasty. Also, we ate this for breakfast. We have no shame. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Candy Cookies

Vanilla Pudding Cookies
I follow a bunch of blogs, and Two Peas and Their Pod posted a chocolate pudding cookie the other day with mini robin eggs in them. It linked back to their vanilla pudding cookie recipe. I went searching for mini robins eggs and when I couldn't find any, bought a bag each of Reeses milk chocolate peanut butter eggs and Hershey milk chocolate eggs with candy shells. I decided to make the vanilla pudding cookies with the Hershey. The first few sheets had just the eggs but I was worried they weren't chocolatey enough, and added chocolate chips.

My student workers loved these cookies! They are soft and sweet and the big candy coated hunks of chocolate certainly didn't hurt! I have (not-so-secret) plans to make the chocolate version with the peanut butter eggs inside.

Speaking of pudding. Has everyone been watching Top Chef Masters? This last episode had Celina Tio and her chocolate "puddin'" and everyone kept saying "puddin'" without the "g" and it was making me crazy. Is there a technical difference between "puddin'" and "pudding?" Is "pudding" somehow trademarked? I wanted to strangle her. She should have been sent home just for using that word alone. Phew, okay, I feel better now.

Pudding isn't always bad. It is amazing in these cookies. Make them, add something interesting, and eat!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pumpkin Gingerbread Pancakes

Pumpkin Gingerbread Pancakes (vegan, gluten free)
I started out intending to make one of the vegan, gluten-free recipes from BabyCakes Covers the Classics, but it was a lazy, rainy, weekend morning and I didn't have all the ingredients for any of the recipes. Vegan baking is challenge enough; gluten-free baking is crazy as far as what you need in your pantry. I had xantham gum a while back when I was experimenting with vegetarian marshmallows, but it had gone bad and got thrown out. I've never owned rice flour or arrowroot powder. I had sent N- to the store for gluten free flour mix and ended up with Bob's Red Mill GF Biscuit Mix, so I needed to do some experimenting.

I felt like I was pretty close to what the Gingerbread Pancakes recipe was going after, although I didn't have xantham gum, applesauce, or agave nectar. I read online that for simple baked goods like pancakes, the xantham gum wasn't really needed, but then realized it was in the biscuit mix. So, check! Applesauce was more of a mystery. I knew people often substituted applesauce for fat in recipes, but didn't want to add more fat, as the recipe already called for a 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil. After a little hunting around online, I found a site that said you could use pumpkin and applesauce interchangeably. I had pumpkin, so check! I didn't have agave nectar, but knew that you could sub agave nectar for granulated sugar at about a 2/3 ratio. There was already molasses in the recipe, so I used sugar less than was quite right, knowing we'd be putting maple syrup on top!

The pancakes I ended up making were absolutely delicious, once I had thinned the batter down enough that I was making pancakes instead of dough balls on the griddle. The bean flour in the biscuit mix added a nice hearty flavor to the fall flavors, and the pumpkin paired incredibly with the gingerbread flavors. With 1 tbsp ground ginger and 2 tbsp vanilla, these are high in flavor, just missing all the disagreeable ingredients that some people can't enjoy.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Pancakes
based loosely on BabyCakes' recipe for Gingerbread Pancakes

2 cups Bob's Red Mill GF Biscuit Mix
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup melted refined coconut oil, plus more for the pan
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 1/3 cup rice milk (started with 2/3 cup and kept adding)
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Whisk together dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients (and pumpkin) and stir until batter is smooth. On a griddle over medium heat, grease with coconut oil. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup batter into the pan for each pancake. Cook for 2 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Cook

I came across this poem and loved it, this is just the first half. The National Book Foundation has been doing features during National Poetry Month of the poets who have won the award in the past. Lisel Mueller won in 1981.

The Cook
After Vermeer

No wonder she thinks there's more
where everything came from

a girl as round as the jug
that never runs dry

her arms thick cream, her yellow bodice
filled with anticipation

the bread before her risen
in the same light in which she stands

(Lisel Mueller, from The Need to Hold Still)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dairy Free Strawberry Soup

Strawberry Soup
I've had David Leibovitz's "Vegan" Strawberry Ice Cream recipe bookmarked since last summer. I liked all the experimenting he had done, and was interested to try his non-dairy, pretty much non-fat strawberry ice cream recipe. At that point, strawberry season was long past in the south, and it seemed to deserve fresh berries.

Lately strawberries from Florida have started to show up in abundance in the stores. Local fruit is still a month away or so, but I couldn't wait. I bought the rice milk, decided to add 2 tbsp of the Kirsch to try to keep it from freezing too solid, and made it in one night. I did use the honey, so I won't call it vegan, since most vegans I know don't eat honey. So let's just be happy with calling it dairy-free!

It was delicious right out of the ice cream freezer, but was still ridiculously hard out of the freezer. This is just going to be a problem with homemade ice cream of all varieties until I start figuring out how to add additives (which I'd rather not). This recipe is probably more likely to get hard because there is no fat in it.

But then something miraculous happened. I had left it out to thaw, and ten minutes later it was still hard as a rock, so I kind of forgot about it. A few hours later, half of it was still a soft solid, but the rest was a beautiful soupy texture. Why throw it out? Strawberries, rice milk, sugar, honey, and kirsch make for pretty amazing strawberry soup. Plus it is getting warm but isn't quite ice cream weather. A chilled soup is just about perfect for the start of our strawberry season.