Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Chocolate Birthday Cake {grain-free}

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.


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