April 14, 2014

Easter Cake Pops

some recipes deserve a repost...

i love these little guys. 

click here for the recipe.

April 9, 2014

Fig & Plum Tart

grandma jody, my dad's mom, had a very prolific fig tree in her back yard.

i don't know that i really ever appreciated the years of fig preserves she made until now. i'm suddenly a little obsessed with the stuff. i think i need to ask my dad if he has her recipe...

this super simple tart was a quick, thrown-together weekend breakfast addition. a buttery pecan-shortbread crust, fig preserves and fresh, ripe lemon plums.

Fig & Plum Tart

1        tablespoon golden flaxmeal
2        tablespoon very hot water
1/2     cup pecan halves
140    grams (about 1 cup) kumquat's gluten-free all-purpose flour or other gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/4     cup brown sugar
1/4     teaspoon salt
 6       tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
2/3     cup fig preserves
3        plums, pitted and cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine flaxmeal and water; stir to form a slurry.

Add pecan halves to the container of a medium-sized food processor. Pulse until the form a coarse meal; be careful not to make pecan butter. Add flour, sugar, and salt; pulse until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to a bowl; stir in flaxmeal.

Press mixture into the sides and bottom of rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom. Press firmly on mixture with the bottom of a measuring cup. Spread fig preserves evenly over crust. Place plums on top of preserves. Spoon a portion of fig preserves on top of plums, if desired. 

Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden. Cool completely; remove tart pan sides before serving. Also delicious served cold. Yield: 1 tart.

April 3, 2014

Pumpkin Empanadas

be still my texas heart.

it has been years, years!, since i have had a pumpkin empanada. 

from 2007 to 2009 we lived in fort worth, just down the way from state-famous esperanza's, joe t. garcia's bakery. this place was brimming with all of the mexican pastries one should find in a mexican bakery, most importantly, pumpkin empanadas. 

i once stopped in to buy a box full for my extended family. sniffing deeply into the mound of empanadas and choking back tears that the smell was the extent of my enjoyment of the half-moon shaped pastries, filled with spice scented pumpkin purée. these things... really, they're heavenly. texas monthly even featured the recipe several years back, which i've adapted here.

you see, i grew up eating them, always hoping my dad would bring them home from a trip to a mexican bakery instead of the flavorless pan dulce. my pops was raised in "the valley" (rio grande) in edinburg, so he knows his stuff. 

it's funny the things that warm your heart. these totally did for me.

(and for you too, i hope, pops.)

Pumpkin Empanadas

Pumpkin Filling:
1   (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

350    grams (about 2 1/2 cups) kumquat's gluten-free all-purpose flour or other gluten-free flour, divided
1       (1/4-ounce) package dry yeast*
1/3    cup sugar
1/3    cup water
1       teaspoon salt
1       teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4    teaspoon baking powder
1/8    teaspoon cinnamon
3/4    cup butter, room temperature

Egg for egg wash

For Filling:
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.

For Dough:
Combine 210 grams (about 1 1/2 cups) flour, yeast, sugar, water, salt, xanthan gum, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Stir butter into mixture with a wooden spoon. Add remaining 140 grams (1 cup) flour to mixture. Stir flour into dough; knead with hands to fully incorporate flour, if needed. Form a ball with dough.

To Assemble:
Preheat oven to 350°.

Divide ball of dough into 4 parts. Divide each part into halves to yield 8 pieces. Roll a ball between two pieces of parchment into 1/8-inch thickness, about 6-7 inches in diameter. (Keep other portions of dough under a wet paper towel to keep from drying out.) Remove parchment from dough circle. Spoon almost 2 tablespoons filling onto half of dough circle, leaving about a 1/2-inch border around edges of circle. 

Fold sides together to make a half-moon. Press dough together on the edges to seal; press with a fork to seal completely. Trim edges a bit, if desired.  Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. 

Brush tops of empanadas with beaten egg. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until tops are golden. Allow to cool before eating. 
Yield: 8 amazing gluten-free empanadas.

*yeast is purely for flavor, as these pastries aren't made from a risen dough. follow the method without fear that i missed a rising time. :)

March 28, 2014

Oat, Nut & Fruit Bread

ever since i surrendered to using gums (just a little), the list of recipes i'd like to make has grown quite a bit.

there's a BIG texas challenge to come that i've been wanting to tackle successfully. i think i'm trying it today, so cross your fingers for me...

but for now, i wanted to share this recipe... for the easiest bread ever. it is hearty and filled with crunchy and chewy bits here and there. mostly importantly, it requires no fancy equipment, skills, or ingredients.

i ate the majority of it with a simple slab of butter. a few times i added a slice of cheddar on top on that slab of butter. it was heavenly.

Oat, Nut & Fruit Bread

245    grams (about 1 3/4 cups) gluten-free oat flour
100    grams (about 3/4 cups)  kumquat's gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 1/2  teaspoons salt
1        teaspoon baking soda
1/2     teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4     cup golden raisins
1/4     cup sunflower seeds
1/4     cup pepitas
1/3     cup chopped raw almonds
1        cup buttermilk
3        tablespoons olive oil
2        tablespoons honey  

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine flours, salt, baking soda, xanthan gum, raisins, seeds, and almonds in a medium bowl. Combine buttermilk, olive oil, and honey. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Use hands to form a large ball of well-combined dough.

Spray top of dough with cooking spray and press rolled oats onto surface of dough, if desired. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until dough sounds hollow when it is tapped on.

March 22, 2014

Falafel with Lemon-Mint Raita

being a military family and living all over the world has its ups and downs.

as a foodie, i'm always on the hunt for the best local spots to eat. heck, i even like some big chains. we have, at times, hit the restaurant jack-pot with our assignments. it seems, unfortunately, that so far that we lost the lottery in our most recent location. i'm hoping i'm currently only affected by the feeling we've moved to the north pole, and that some delicious (gluten-free!) stomps will miraculously appear when the snow melts. i'll keep you posted.

for now, at least i have my memories of some awesome eats.

one is from my hometown of houston. my little family of four visited last october. because it had been so long since i'd been in town, i texted my best friend who knows all things houston and all things good food and asked where to go. her recommendation was niko niko's. as always, she didn't steer us wrong! (they even note their gluten-free items... massive bonus.)

their falafel was amazing. the kind you think about later and wish you could teleport onto your kitchen table.

this month, the recipe redux has asked us to make patties. (apparently they're trendy right now, which i wasn't aware of... but these ladies know.)

i was a little shocked by how quickly these came together. they're practically a 10-minute meal. perfect crunch on the outside and creamy center. and so crazy delicious... why haven't i made them before?!

so now, i'm dreaming of houston.  all i'm missing is a big square of feta, a ripe tomato, an incredible greek dressing, and a lot less snow.

Falafel with Lemon-Mint Raita

1     (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3     cloves garlic
2     tablespoons parsley
2     tablespoons cilantro
2     tablespoons mint
1     teaspoon baking powder
1     teaspoon cumin
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/4  teaspoon cayenne pepper
3     tablespoons kumquat's gluten-free all-purpose flour or other gluten-free all-purpose flour
Olive oil

1/2   cup full-fat Greek yogurt
2      tablespoons lemon juice
1      tablespoon chopped mint
1      clove garlic, minced
1/4   teaspoon salt

To make Falafel:
Combine all ingredients but olive oil in the container of a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Do not process until mixture forms a paste. Allow mixture to remain slightly chunky. 

Form patties with about 1/3 cup mixture each. Heat enough oil to cover a large skillet (about 1/3 cup). When oil is hot, add patties and cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned.

To make Raita:
Combine all ingredients. Serve with Falafel. 
Yield: 2-3 servings.

March 21, 2014

Grain-Free Cheese Pizza Crackers

are your kids gluten-free? 

mine have been for a handful of months now... it's going well, but i know sometimes my boy feels a bit odd-man-out at school. in about an hour i'm taking in hot gluten-free pizza for him to eat at his classroom's pizza party. 

we do what we can to soften the blow and make them feel like it's all worth it. 

these crackers definitely helped! so do these and these.

for the recipe, click over to my post today on healthy aperture's blog.

March 15, 2014

Maple, Pepita & Buttermilk Fudge

by posting this recipe i am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the california milk advisory board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. i was not compensated for my time.

once again, the recipe redux has challenged us to lighten up a favorite.

this time we're cooking with milk... california milk. did you know that california is the #1 dairy producing state in the US. they produce more milk and butter than any other state. those california dairy products are available statewide. just look for the seals to know it's from the golden state.

i'm a sucker for fudge. i'm always drawn into those fudge stores, that smell like sugar, and have slabs of varieties of fudge under glass to drool over. there's something awesome and old school about fudge.

this delicious batch i decided to make purely with maple syrup, cutting out the refined sugars entirely. there's a bit of tang from the buttermilk, crunch from pepitas, and a taste of salt right at the end. it reminded me a lot of the leche quemada i grew up eating as a girl.... mouth-watering.

Maple, Pepita & Buttermilk Fudge

2    cups grade b maple syrup
1    cup California buttermilk
4    tablespoons California butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1    teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Coarse salt for garnish

Line an 8-inch loaf pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on both long sides.

Combine maple syrup, buttermilk, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Begin cooking over medium-high heat to bring to a boil. Cook until a candy thermometer reaches soft ball (240°), stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.

Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat mixture on medium-high speed until mixture thickens, cools, and becomes more matte in color. Stir in vanilla and pepitas. Transfer mixture to prepared pan, pressing top to smooth. Sprinkle with coarse salt; allow to cool completely before cutting. Yield: 16 servings.

March 13, 2014

The Dietitian Speaks: Part 4

okay... i'll admit... the poor dietitian hasn't had a chance to speak in a long, looong time.

not that she has nothing to say, it's just that the bossy cook takes over too much. and this time the dietitian has something to clear up for the cook. 

if you know much about gluten-free baking, you know that some kind of binder is required. if you don't know what i'm talking about, read this post to learn more.

for three years i have posted gluten-free recipes on this site and even wrote a gluten-free cookbook full of recipes that were all created without using gums as binders. instead, i've most frequently used golden flaxmeal to add some structural support to my gluten-free goodies. i've been thrilled with the results. and i've also been satisfied with the nutritional profile flaxmeal added to my recipes.

however..... there is an entire category of baked goods that i have never felt confident making with only the structural assistance of flax. things like yeasted breads, many pastries, and biscuits.

i've tried. i've failed. i've added other healthy, good things, like whey, egg yolks, and more but never with great success.

though i've never been a fan of baking with xanthan gum, i have consumed it for years in almost every store-bought gluten-free product out there. some have issues with it, as it can cause GI distress. thankfully, i do not seem to be one of them. but because i do seem to consume a lot of it through the products we buy, i wanted to limit consumption by not including it in the things i made at home too.

the purpose of this dietitian's speech is to say i have surrendered.

not whole-heartedly, though. i do not plan to include it in the things i don't feel need it. but i will throw it in for the success of some otherwise unreachable recipes. you may have already noticed my soul-feeding salted soft pretzels and my no-lie best-ever gluten-free biscuits. they are both made possible by the help of the previously forbidden binder.

i hope this isn't a grave disappointment to any of you readers. i promise to use it responsibly and only when deemed necessary.

and i'm also really excited about the door of recipe possibilities that seems to have just opened wide!

March 8, 2014

{Year Three Celebration} Grapefruit-Kumquat Scones

happy birthday, kumquat! 

hard to believe it's been three years... how does the time go so quickly? 

for the second blogoversary(?), i shared with you my chicken saltimbocca recipe from my book. the year before i posted this fancy chocolate cake with kumquat marmalade frosting.

for the third birthday of this blog, i thought is totally fitting to post a pretty little combination of some of my favorites... kumquats (clearly), scones (my love affair with scones is no secret), and grapefruit (one of my newest flavor obsessions).

i have noticed that in these past celebratory posts, i gush and gush about how grateful i am. but it is true. i am. 

for the relationships, opportunities, sounding board, and creative outlet this little space has brought into my life, i am thankful. so thank you for reading, reaching out, dropping by. 

here's to another year, in anticipation of more to be grateful for.

Grapefruit-Kumquat Scones

2       teaspoons golden flaxmeal
4       teaspoons hot water
280   grams (about 2 cups) kumquat's all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/2    cup sugar
1       tablespoon baking powder
1/2    teaspoon salt
1/2    cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1       cup heavy cream
2       tablespoons grapefruit juice
2       teaspoons zested grapefruit rind
3/4    cup thinly sliced fresh kumquats
powdered sugar and additional grapefruit juice

Combine flaxmeal and water in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut butter into mixture with a pastry cutter or with fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal. 

Add cream and flax slurry to to mixture and stir till just combined. Add grapefruit juice, rind, and kumquats; mix until well combined. Transfer mixture to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Pat dough into a circle, about 1 1/2-inches thick. Freeze dough for 20 minutes. 

Cut dough into 8 wedges, leaving room between to spread while baking. Freeze again for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°. Bake scones for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

Combine powdered sugar and grapefruit juice to make an icing to your desired consistency. Spread evenly over cooled scones. Top with a slice of kumquat, if desired. Yield: 8 scones.

March 5, 2014

No-Lie Best-Ever Gluten-Free Biscuits

biscuits will forever make me think of my grandmother.

minnie was truly the best. such a lovely woman. impeccably dressed, even though she lived in a tiny texas town full of cows and tamales, without anyone high-brow to impress. her closet was filled with beautiful shoes, handbags, and clothing. she was repeatedly asked by the local women's dress shop to model their clothes in fashion shows. and she always smelled like some delightful perfume. i can almost smell her now. 

she was that rare breed though who, even in her fanciness, was quick to kill a copperhead with a shovel or take on a wasps nest. she was always ready with a tender hug, a smile, and a little giggle to let you know how much she loved you. 

she was ever on the side of her grandkids and let us win every card game with her. always had a glass of iced tea during the day and a glass of white wine at night. she had a mutual love affair with babies and animals, and fought for their rights and protection in her county.

the home she made with grampy was every kid's dream. i have such sweet memories of times there with them and the whole crazy family.

every morning i spent with her, we would have fried eggs with runny yolks and biscuits with a buffet of jams, jellies, fruit butters, and honey. i remember going to town with her to buy frozen biscuits by the dozens from a tiny local market. most certainly she passed on the biscuit obsession to her daughter, my mom.

mom recently cracked the code on the perfect gluten-free biscuit. and now i can share it with you!

i wish i could share one with minnie. (who, by the way, was diagnosed late in life with celiac disease in addition to lifelong type 1 diabetes, tipping me off to my own issues with gluten.)

next monday marks 4 years since minnie passed away. i think of her often. when i think of how much she would adore my kids. when i make a pot of pinto beans. when i smell chanel no. 5. when i hear "amazing grace".

and always when i eat a biscuit with honey.

No-Lie Best-Ever Gluten-Free Biscuits

330   grams (about 2 2/3 cups) kumquat's gluten-free all-purpose flour
27     grams (about 1/3 cup) unflavored whey protein
1       tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1       teaspoon xanthan gum
2       tablespoons sugar
6       tablespoons butter, softened
1       cup heavy cream
1/3    cup milk
additional cream and sugar for top

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine flour, whey protein, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and sugar in a large bowl. Cut butter in with a pastry cutter, two knives, or fingers until it resembles coarse meal. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour in heavy cream and milk. Stir until mixture comes together.

Turn dough out onto the counter; knead a few times just to incorporate everything if needed. Gently pat the dough out to 1-inch thickness. Dip a 2 1/2-inch round cutter in additional flour and cut dough. Gather scraps together and reroll to cut and use as much dough as possible. (the beauty of gluten-free flour means no tough biscuits!) Place dough rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 1/4-inch space between them. Brush tops of biscuits with a little additional cream and sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

Bake biscuits at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and flaky. Yield: 9 biscuits.

* recipe inspired by flying biscuit cafe "flying biscuits".