April 22, 2014

{Recipe Redux} Dark Chocolate Popovers

this month the recipe redux girls have asked us to post something made with some classic cookware that has been lovingly passed to us.

i only have a few things given to me by loved ones. considering my kitchen is a bit like my office, most people probably assume i have almost everything i could need. and i probably almost do. almost.

one of my favorites handed down to me is one i've posted about before. a couple years ago i posted these strawberry cream cheese popovers and even told my story there.

it's the story of marga... an amazing, artistic, and animated woman who loved my husband as a son...
i am lucky enough to have a popover pan and was excited to use it this month. my husband's music teacher and dear family friend, marga, gave it to me. marga was one of the first people my husband wanted to introduce me to when we met and realized this might just be "it". despite scarring disabilities as a result of childhood polio, marga was so incredibly full of life. she and her dear, kind husband, dan, never had children of their own, so she would handpick students to "adopt". my husband and his brother were two of those. lunch at marga's was always thrilling... she loved to cook, feverishly supported arts and music, beamed while telling quirky, silly jokes or discussing politics, and gushed with pride over those boys that she loved. i was thrilled when marga gave me an enormous boxful of odd kitchen gadgets that were hers for our wedding gift. she said she knew i'd use them and adore them as she did. several years ago, marga lost a brave battle against cancer. we so miss her, but she will certainly never allow us to forget her.
i adore these popovers. they scratch an itch for me of cravings for a chocolate brioche or croissant. though they aren't a grand slam in the nutrition department, they don't have added sugar except for the chunk of dark chocolate. and the batter is a large part egg, so i can justify them there too. 

why i don't make these more often, i don't know. they are the simplest, most delectable pastries. i honestly think it would make marga happy if i used her pan more... so i shall.

Dark Chocolate Popovers

2       tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
2       large eggs (room temperature)
1       cup milk (room temperature)
1/4    teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2    teaspoon salt
2       ounces dark chocolate (60% cocoa bittersweet), cut into 6 pieces

Preheat oven to 400°. Drop a piece of butter in each cup of a popover tin or muffin tin.
In a small bowl, beat eggs until pale. Add milk; stir to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, xanthan gum, and salt. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and whisk until almost smooth.

Place popover tin and baking sheet in the oven for 2 minutes, or until butter melts and pan is hot. Remove tin from oven and evenly divide batter between cups. Submerge a piece of chocolate down into the center of the batter. Bake for 25 minutes or until popovers are puffy, with brown crusts and hollow centers. Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 popovers.

April 21, 2014

Gramercy Monday

with carrie on the edge of ngorongoro crater (september 2000)

gra·mer·cy  [gr-uh-mur-see]
archaic. (interjection) - used to express gratitude or surprise 


 i've decided to start something new. well, new to this site. 

 i believe strongly in the power of gratitude. of being thankful for what we have. of expressing appreciation. 

it keeps our souls healthy and it brings joy to the front.

so on mondays, the dreaded return to the grind day, i plan to begin with an attitude of gratitude. (yes, that did rhyme). not always food-related, but sometimes. maybe a product i love. possibly a place i miss. today, a person i'm thankful for... but always gramercy!


carrie has been my friend since we were 9.

we were recently running through a list of life experiences, travels, and insanity we've shared...
same private school for 8 years and tiny graduating class of 58 students.
my hobo-costumed rollerskating birthday party in 5th grade.
an en vogue/r. kelly concert in highschool. (whaaa...?)
same college.
an impromptu baseball game on a beach in california.
a random frisbee game on the berkley campus.
a cross country drive to new mexico.
spending the night at julia roberts' house (yes, the.)
countless bridemaid events at multiple friend's weddings.
countless baby shower events for said friends.
  a cross country drive to florida.
too many hurricanes and muffalettas in new orleans.
lots of chicken salad eaten, prop closet drooled over and bad movies watched in birmingham.
atlanta. i don't even remember.
trips to florida and nashville to visit our third limb.
running through castle gardens in germany.
breaking into golf club showers, gorging on high tea and tiki bar fare in hawaii.
squeezing in leicester square and pret a manger in london.
sleeping in the serengeti, watching lions play, staring at kilimanjaro and roughing it through tanzania.
a vodka-fueled weekend in snow in a cabin-full of russians in new york.
another crazy russian-style weekend in boston.
babies and birthday parties in charlottesville and dc.
birthdays and spas at the homestead.
and just last week, entertaining our 5 kiddos in upstate new york and hauling them to niagara falls.

this list hardly begins to complete the list of our times together. these are merely the highlights that stick out the brightest. but in this life of moves, changes, new friends, and lots of transition i am always grateful for the people in my life that will always remain. carrie is one of those. like a tether to the center as everything else whirls around. it was fun running through this list with her, remembering all we had done and reminding each other of things we'd almost forgotten. amazing how much of the globe we've covered together...

now our kids get to be friends. another generation of fun. and i can't wait to see where the next 30 years takes us!

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!