Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Chocolate Birthday Cake {grain-free}

Has anyone seen the price of almonds lately?  A jar of good almond butter is almost $20!  And the almond flour I like to use has gone up by at least half in the past year.  An employee at Frankferd Farm Foods told me the prices have gone up because of the drought in California.  I sure hope they get some rain and the prices come back down, because almond flour makes up a good part of this delicious cake!  (Although the price might keep me from indulging too often!)

You absolutely cannot tell that this cake is made without any flour or refined sugars.  It is a wonderful option for anyone who cannot have gluten or grains.  There are recipes for frosting out there that have no refined sugar, but I opted to go with my standard Swiss meringue icing.  I'm sure I'll be trying out those other icing recipes before too long!  If you make this cake, please let me know if you like it as much as I did!

Wanna bite?  I know you do!!

Grain-free Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
adapted from Deliciously Organic
makes 2 9-inch rounds

8 ounces dark chocolate (I use Callebaut dark chocolate)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil or 4 more tablespoons butter
2/3 cup maple syrup
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville brand)
2 teaspoons coconut flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon baking powder (grain free)

Preheat oven to 350 ºF and adjust rack to middle position. Place the chocolate, butter and coconut oil in the bowl of a double boiler. Melt, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool (the mixture needs to cool for at least 10 minutes before adding the egg mixture below). 

Place the maple syrup and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk for 5-6 minutes until pale yellow and fluffy.  Slowly whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture.

Sift almond flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder over egg mixture. Gently fold to incorporate. Divide batter between two buttered 9-inch cake pans lined with a round piece of parchment paper. Bake cakes for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool cakes for 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges and then remove the cakes from the pans. Cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream
6 ounces egg whites
12 ounces granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 sticks or one pound butter at cool room temperature 
1 teaspoon vanilla
4  ounces melted and cooled dark chocolate

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs whites, sugar and salt.  Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water.  The bowl should not touch the water.   Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the heat and place the bowl onto your stand mixer and whisk at med-high speed until the mixture comes to room temperature (feel the outside of the bowl to gauge the temp).   Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment and reduce the speed to medium.  Add butter one tablespoon at a time. When all of the butter is added, turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl (at this point the buttercream might look curdled, but don’t worry, it will turn creamy). Whisk the mixture on high until light and fluffy. Reduce speed again and slowly pour in the melted chocolate and the vanilla, and mix until incorporated.

To assemble:
Place one cake layer on a cake stand and top with one third of the frosting. Spread frosting evenly on the cake. Place second cake layer on top and use remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Zucchini bread with currants {grain-free}

This is not your traditional zucchini bread, heavy on cinnamon and oil.  This zucchini bread is grain-free, slightly sweet from the currants, and a delicious treat.  It's light in your stomach and is wonderful toasted with a bit of butter.  It reminds me more of irish soda bread than zucchini bread actually.  The recipe comes from Hayley Mason and Bill Staley, two Pittsburghers who have written 3 great cookbooks:  Gather, The Art of Paleo Entertaining, Make it Paleo I, and Make it Paleo II.  They are wonderful photographers and have photographed other cookbooks as well.

Zucchini Bread with Currants {Grain-free}
from Gather by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley
makes 2 mini loaves

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 T arrowroot flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup zucchini, shredded and squeezed of excess water
1/2 cup currants

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter two mini loaf pans.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, arrowroot flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, maple syrup, and melted butter and mix well.  Add the almond flour mixture and mix until smooth.  Stir in the zucchini and currants until evenly combined.

Pour batter into two mini loaf pans.  Bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool before slicing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Homemade Mayonnaise

I've tried homemade mayo in the past, and while it tasted pretty good, it wasn't thick and spreadable.  So I gave up on homemade mayo and went back to store bought.  Well yesterday, when I went to make my son's lunch for school, I realized I was completely out of mayonnaise, so I tried again with a different recipe and different technique.  I couldn't believe how fast and easy it was, and how thick the mayo was!  It was perfect.  I may never buy store bought mayo again!

Homemade Mayonnaise
adapted from Nourished Kitchen

3 fresh egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground sea salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cups avocado oil*

Place the egg yolks in the bottom of a blender, then add salt, lemon juice, vinegar, dry mustard and water.  Pulse the mixture to combine, then turn the blender on low to med-low speed.  In a very slow but steady stream, add the avocado oil to the egg mixture while the blender is running continuously.  This should take 2-3 minutes before all the oil is added.  The mixture should be thick and ready for use.  Transfer the mayo to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in the fridge and use within about a week.

*I use avocado oil because the flavor is mild.  You could also use olive oil, or light olive oil.  Avoid using inflammatory vegetable oils such as canola, corn, and soybean oils.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Roasted Tomato Soup

I grew some tomatoes in my garden this year, and while I got enough to freeze, I still wanted to make marinara sauce and this tomato soup.  So I ordered a half peck (big box) of organic paste tomatoes from Kretschmann Farm, one of the CSA's I belong to.  Look at these beautiful tomatoes!

This tomato soup is quite easy to make - quarter enough tomatoes to fill a pan, throw on some shallots or onions, garlic cloves, chopped fresh herbs, spices and olive oil and roast in the oven.  When the shallots are golden and the tomatoes are soft, place everything into a blender, add stock and blend into soup.  A dollop of heavy cream is a nice addition, as would be a drizzling of basil pesto.  Freeze leftovers and enjoy it all winter long.

Roasted Tomato Soup
adapted from Honey and Jam

2 pounds fresh tomatoes, any variety, cut into wedges
4 shallots, peeled and quartered 
3 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs; I used thyme, oregano,  and basil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
basil pesto for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.   Arrange tomatoes, shallots and garlic on a rimmed cookie sheet or other large pan.  Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and herbs, gently toss. Roast for 30- 45 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and shallots have browned and caramelized.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Pour all of the pan's contents into a food processor and blend until smooth. Slowly add in stock while blending. 

Pour contents into a large stock pot, add heavy cream and adjust seasonings and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread {Grain Free}

This banana bread is seriously good.  No grains, no sugar, no gluten - it's hard to believe.  You'll need coconut flour and almond butter, but the rest of the ingredients are common pantry items.

The cinnamon chocolate swirl is fantastic.  The bread is sweetened only by the bananas and a little honey in the swirl.  I think you should give this bread a try if you are needing a little treat without the guilt!

Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread {Grain free, Sugar free}
adapted from The Paleo Kitchen by Juli Bauer and George Bryant

Coconut oil, to grease pan
For the bread:
4 medium bananas, or one pound peeled
4 large eggs
1/4 cup unsalted grass-fed butter, such as Kerrygold, melted
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the swirl:
2 tablespoons unsalted grass-fed butter
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (I used one tablespoon)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x5" loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

Combine the bananas, eggs, butter, and almond butter in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add the remaining bread ingredients and process until well mixed.

In a double boiler, melt the swirl ingredients until fully melted and smooth.  Pour the bread batter into the prepared pan, then pour the chocolate swirl on top.  Use a knife to swirl the chocolate into the bread batter.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.  Allow to cool 15 minutes in the pan, then remove from the pan and allow to cool completely before cutting.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Garden Party Teacher's Luncheon Recipes

Happy Spring!  I am organizing a teacher appreciation luncheon at my kids' school and the theme is "A Garden Party!".  It is completely run by parents and the food is all donated by parent volunteers.  (Thank you parents!)  

We invite about 150 faculty to have lunch in a small theater which has been decorated for the occasion.  The teachers always love it as they have a chance to eat without distraction and to know they are appreciated.

I came up with a simple menu and one which I think will satisfy the teachers' appetites, will be easy to serve without a kitchen, and will have choices for those who are gluten-free, dairy free or vegetarian.  I am posting a few recipes here so that the generous parents who choose to cook these items from scratch will have a place online to find the recipes.  Scroll down below the menu to see the recipes.  Parents, if something is not clear in the recipe, please email me at clouse91@me.com.

Wish us luck!
Garden Party Menu

Creamy Tomato Soup (recipe below)

Chicken Salad on Croissants (recipe below)
Italian Sandwiches

Tomato Feta Pasta Salad (recipe below)
Fresh Garden Salad
Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with lime dressing (recipe below)
Fruit Salad Cups
Assorted Rolls

Iced Teas, Pellegrino, Water

Plenty of Assorted Homemade Desserts

Creamy Tomato Soup

6 tablespoons olive oil
8 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon dried basil, crushed
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
6 28-ounce cans whole peeled Roma tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon coarse salt or sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add carrots and onion and lightly salt and pepper the vegetables. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes, then add garlic, basil, and oregano and cook about a minute more.

Add tomatoes, broth, cayenne, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.

After allowing soup to cool somewhat, purée in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Please blend carefully - Do not fill the blender more that half full and make sure that the steam has a way of escaping.
Stir in cream and heat over low heat until the soup is just heated through. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Chicken Salad – to be placed on croissants on site

8 cups diced chicken - see note below
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
6 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
2 cups Hellman’s mayonnaise
2 tablespoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a mixing bowl, toss together the chicken, celery, scallions and parsley. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the chicken and mix gently until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTE:  The chicken can come from 8 roasted bone-in and skin-on chicken breasts (see below) or from the white and dark meat from 2 large or 3 small purchased rotisserie chickens.  

To roast the chicken breasts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, about 175 degrees internal temperature. Set aside to cool.

When the chicken is cool, remove and discard the skin and bones and cut the chicken into 3/4-inch dice.

Tomato Feta Pasta Salad
From Ina Garten

1 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
Kosher salt
Good olive oil
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
1 1/2 cups good kalamata olives, pitted and diced
1 pound good feta cheese, medium-diced
12 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:
10 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
12 tablespoons good olive oil
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 teaspoon capers, drained
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1 ½ cups packed flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, feta and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and parsley, and toss well.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

4 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (from 2 cups uncooked), cook according to package directions
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp ground cumin
4 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 red bell peppers, chopped
8 green onions, white and light green part only, thinly sliced
large handful chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cumin, lime juice, salt, and pepper.  Add the cooked quinoa, beans, peppers, and green onions and fold together gently.  Add the cilantro and gently toss.  Taste for seasoning.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

North African Butternut Squash Soup

I have found that my tastebuds are getting more adventurous as I get older.  I have my basic butternut squash soup recipe which is delicious but sometimes it's fun to switch things up a little.  I'm so glad I tried this recipe.  It is a treat to the eyes as well as the tastebuds - colorful and delicious and provides lots of healthy vegetables (some kale or lentils might be good additions too).

A note about the ingredients:  The small cinnamon stick gives it just a hint of cinnamon flavor without overpowering.  The harissa is a chili paste that can be found in middle eastern markets and gives a nice depth of flavor.  This soup also has ground turmeric.  Hopefully you've heard about the health benefits of turmeric.  It's a superfood spice that's getting a lot of press lately.  It can reduce inflammation and has many other health-protecting properties.

Feeling adventurous in the kitchen?  Give this soup a try - your body will thank you!

North African Butternut Squash Soup
from The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Makes 6 servings

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 to 1 tsp harissa, or 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
6 cups cubed butternut squash or pumpkin (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 14.5 ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped with their juice
2 bay leaves
1 short piece of cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups water or chicken stock
1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, optional

Combine the olive oil, carrots, celery, and garlic in a heavy-duty stock pot set over medium-low heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft but not brown, about 10 minutes.  Add the chopped pepper,  the harissa or crushed red pepper, and the butternut squash and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, cinnamon, turmeric, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 cups of water or chicken stock.  Bring to a simmer and cover the pan.  Let simmer about 20-30 minutes or until the squash is very soft.  If desired, blend the soup with a blender or a stick blender (I left mine chunky).  Add lemon and cilantro and adjust seasoning if needed.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin