Archive for January, 2012
I’m back to baking again! This time with scones, and they just happen to be grain free for another one of my Valentine’s Day bake-off entries. I got a little carried away with my Valentine’s day goodies – scones, bars, panna cotta — and that doesn’t count the multiple vegan cheesecakes, scones and donuts I attempted to make but wasn’t satisfied with.
The following is an example of one unfortunate failure: dark chocolate and pink peppercorn scones. I thought I would be creative with the “pink” theme but they tasted awful! The scone base needed tweaking and the pink peppercorn was so overwhelming that I couldn’t bare to try another batch with the same flavor profile. I think they looked pretty…but they definitely didn’t taste pretty.
I must say, I have great respect for vegan, gluten free bakers; my past posts of baked vegan recipes have usually been unintentional and this bake-off has been more challenging than I anticipated!
I did have success was with these almond rose petal scones though! I was aiming at a girly pink color and I enjoyed experimenting with edible dried rose petals for the first time. The rose flavor isn’t pronounced at all like I had expected (I think I was scarred from the peppercorns) so the petals are for more aesthetics and a festive Valentine’s Day spin. For a more prominent flavor, I think I would need to soak the petals in warmed non-dairy milk and then add to the batter. That being said, you could eliminate the rose petals altogether with yummy results that won’t affect the flavor; add in chopped dried fruit, cinnamon or chocolate/carob chips to make different variations.
Lightly sweetened with a hint of almond and coconut, these scones are tender in the middle and with a slightly crisp exterior straight out of the oven. I drizzled the tops with melted coconut butter mixed with a dash of agave and a few drops of almond extract. You could eliminate the agave altogether and just use melted coconut butter if preferred as well
Almond Rose Petal Scones (Grain-Free)
1 cup almond flour (I grind my own, see below*)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp edible rose petals, slightly crushed when rubbed between your fingers
1 tsp beet powder, optional for pink color
1/4 cup coconut/palm sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (might be able to eliminate but will be more crumbly)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup non dairy milk, room temperature (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
3 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil or Earth Balance, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 Tbsp coconut butter, melted**
1 tsp agave
a couple drops of almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (almond flour through salt). In a small bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Add to dry and stir to combine until it forms a soft dough that sticks together in a ball. If the mixture is too wet, add in a little bit more almond flour and if it’s too dry, add a drizzle of milk.
3. Press together in a ball and flatten into a circle onto parchment paper lined baking sheet (mine were about 3/4 to 1 inch thick). Cut into 8 wedges and gently spread them apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden on top.
4. For drizzle, combine all ingredients and stir. Spoon over scones and enjoy!
Variations: Add 1/4 cup of your favorite mix-ins to this batter along with the dry ingredients (dried cherries, cranberries, goji or strawberries would be great additions to fit with the pink theme) – chocolate chips or carob chips, ground cinnamon, or flaked coconut would also be delicious. The rose petals and beet powder didn’t affect the taste like I had hoped so this is a good base recipe for grain free and egg free scones to build on!
*Homemade Almond Flour: To make your own almond flour, add 1/2 to 1 cup of blanched almonds (I used the blanched slices) to a cup of your Magic Bullet fitted with a “S” blade (or a food processor) and pulse several times until you achieve a flour consistency. Do not over process or will turn into a crumbly butter! Sift to eliminate any chunks you may have missed and there you have it!
**To melt coconut butter, I place the butter in a oven safe ramekin in a preheated 200F oven and let melt for a few minutes.
It snowed a whole bunch this week and has been quite chilly to say the least (my phone said -15 on Wednesday). In turn, I’ve been craving comfort meals, chocolate and carbs – go figure! Besides loading up on my chocolate covered cherry bars, I’ve been in the mood for Indian food, specifically my mind immediately went to saag paneer.
A couple months ago, I went to an Indian restaurant in Portland while flying out for a design meeting for our yogurt store. We went to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and they had incredible saag paneer. It was rich, creamy and comforting. I dreamt about the dish and came home thinking about it for weeks after…must have more of this spinach goodness! Needless to say, I was on a mission to recreate a version, but I aimed at making a little lighter dish that could eaten more often sans the heavy cream.
I made this dish a couple months ago and again this week when my Indian food craving hit, just what I needed to procrastinate shoveling snow
I adapted this recipe from my favorite Indian cook Aarti on Food Network whom I have mentioned several times before. I decreased the amount of oil, used refined coconut instead of canola, added one bunch of chard for more greens, increased the amount of garlic and onion, and used blended cottage cheese in place of the yogurt since that is what I had on hand.
Just a heads-up, this recipe is not a quick weeknight meal that pulls together in 20 minutes. I wish it was because I would make this on a weekly basis. The cooking time isn’t the problem, it’s the chopping and prepping of ingredients that takes the longest –fair warning but I think it’s completely worth it! If you used pre-chopped onion, chard, ginger and garlic, this would significantly cut down on prep time.
Saag Paneer (adapted from Aarti’s Saag Paneer)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp refined coconut oil (no coconut flavor), grapeseed oil or other neutral oil, divided
12 oz paneer, (Indian cheese), cut into 1-inch cubes*, OR extra firm tofu drained and cubed for vegan (will be different taste)
1 (16-oz package) frozen chopped spinach
1 bunch green swiss chard, deveined, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 large red or white onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced (1 inch)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 green serrano or jalapeno chile, finely chopped (seeds removed if you don’t like it spicy!)
1 tsp store-bought or homemade garam masala (Indian spice mixture)
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup of 2 % cottage cheese, blended until smooth or plain yogurt (plain dairy free yogurt for vegan or even cashew cream)
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
cooked brown rice for serving
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the turmeric, cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt. Add cubes of paneer/tofu and gently toss. Let the cubes marinate while you get the rest of your ingredients together and prepped.
2. Thaw the spinach in the microwave in a microwave-safe dish, 5 minutes on high. Add to bowl of a food processor along with the swiss chard and blend until smooth. Alternatively, you can chop it up very finely with your knife.
3. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat with 1 1/2 Tbsp of oil, and add the paneer/tofu as the pan warms. In a couple of minutes give the pan a toss; each piece of paneer/tofu should be browned on one side. Saute another minute or so, and then remove the paneer from the pan onto a plate.
4. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and pepper. Now here’s the important part: saute the mixture until it’s evenly toffee-coloured, which should take about 15 minutes. Don’t skip this step – this is the foundation of the dish! If you feel like the mixture is drying out and burning, add a couple of tablespoons of water.
5. Add the garam masala, coriander and cumin. If you haven’t already, sprinkle a little water to keep the spices from burning. Cook, stirring often, until the raw scent of the spices cook out, and it all smells a bit more melodious, 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Add the spinach and chard and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the green. Add a little salt and 1/2 cup of water, stir, and cook about 5 minutes with the lid off.
7. Turn the heat off. Add the cottage cheese or yogurt, a little at a time to keep it from curdling. Once the yogurt is well mixed into the spinach, add the paneer. Turn the heat back on, cover and cook until everything is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice, stir and serve over rice. Enjoy!
*Note: Paneer is very easy to make at home according to Aarti – click here for her quick and easy homemade paneer. I am definitely going to try this one day! If you’d like to buy it, this cheese is available in better supermarkets as well as specialty Asian markets.
When thinking up fun dessert ideas for Cara’s gluten free and vegan Valentine’s day bake-off, I thought about romantic dessert ideas such as chopped dipped strawberries. While chocolate dipped strawberries are delicious, they have been done over and over — not creative enough for the bake off! They did however inspire these chocolate covered cherry bars
I found a package of crunchy freeze dried cherries at the grocery store, being red/pink I wanted to use them in one way or another. I ground them into a flour like consistency along with oats and cashews to make a no-bake cherry bar topped with a chocolate layer that is delicious and easy!
I understand that not everyone has the urge to run out a buy freeze dried fruit but I wanted to be inventive and creative with a different ingredient. If you would like to make your own version at home, dried cherries (or strawberries) would be a good substitute and easier to find but the amount of liquid needed will most likely need to be reduced. Hold off on adding the milk until after all the ingredients are added then use small amounts if needed.
No-Bake Chocolate Covered Cherry Bars
For Cherry Bar
3/4 cup of freeze dried cherries (strawberries or raspberries would work too) -I used Just Cherries brand*
1 1/4 cup raw cashews
2/3 cup gluten free oats
4 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut (or 2 Tbsp coconut flour other gluten free flour could be subbed)
1/2 tsp beet powder (optional for additional red/pink color)
dash of sea salt
2-3 Tbsp agave (or 5-6 soaked medjool dates could probably be subbed) or to taste
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp coconut oil or Earth balance or coconut butter for more coconut taste, melted**
non dairy milk as needed (I used unsweetened rice milk)
For Chocolate Topping
2 Tbsp raw cacao powder, cocoa powder or raw carob powder for caffeine free
1 tbsp agave
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted (use refined if you don’t like to coconut taste)
tiny pinch of sea salt, optional
1. Line a loaf pan with parchment or wax paper and set aside.
2. In a food processor (a vitamix might work), pulse together freeze dried cherries, oats, cashews, coconut/coconut flour, beet powder and salt until a flour mixture forms. If you want a chunkier bar, then you can process less – just make sure not to overprocess and turn it into a nut butter!
3. Add in remaining ingredients and pulse until a ball forms. Add a small drizzle of non-dairy milk as needed just until a ball forms or the mixture holds together (you don’t want them too moist). Start with a 1/2 tbsp and increase as needed.
4. Press into loaf pan evenly and chill while preparing the chocolate topping.
5. For the topping, mix all ingredients in a small bowl until well incorporated and smooth. Spoon the chocolate topping over the cherry bars and refrigerate until hardened. (I also had a few chopped cashew pieces leftover that I threw into the topping so I didn’t waste them…those are the little chunks you may see in the topping).
6. Cut into squares and enjoy!
*if you can not find freeze dried cherries, dried cherries could be subbed but you will find you may need less liquid.
**TIP: To melt coconut oil and coconut butter, I add the oil/butter to a small oven-safe ramekin and let sit in a 180 – 200F heated toaster oven for several minutes until it’s melted.
I stored these bars in the refrigerator…but they didn’t last long at all!
I finally bought a donut pan! After seeing (and drooling over) recipe after recipe for donuts, I gave in. While I know I can make the same recipes in a muffin tin, I was still itching for a cute pan – it’s about the shape and the hole in the middle I guess.
I’ve had this pan for a week and have baked batches of donuts – both savory and sweet. I had an idea for a certain Valentine’s themed dessert donut for Fork and Bean’s vegan and gluten free bake-off but I can’t seem to master the batter…I hope to have a recipe coming to you soon if I can figure out the funky texture I’m getting!
Instead of a more familiar sweet variety, I thought I’d shared my first savory version in case you need a break from the sugar rush! How about a cheesy and garlicky (is that a word?) broccoli donut. Sounds
interesting strange, right? Well if you are thinking of a typical sweet donut then yes, it would be a bit bizarre. But, this veggie packed version is more like a savory muffin in terms of texture. This was my first attempt at a non-sweet donut and I was very pleased with the results, not to mention it was a nice change from all the sugar I’ve been consuming lately. I ate two for lunch the other day with a cup of tomato soup and Chris and I enjoyed these again for dinner that evening along side our dinner.
The photos didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped since these “donuts” stuck to the pan pretty well; I learned to grease my pan a little better the next time around and let them cool before removing them. My excitement to taste/lack of patience got the best of these little guys! I ate the broken ones for lunch that didn’t make the photo but they were still delicious! You could easily make these in muffin form and cook them a few minutes longer if you don’t have a donut pan, should be about 4-5 muffins
Cheesy Garlic and Broccoli “Donuts”
2 Tbsp coconut flour
6 Tbsp brown rice flour (buckwheat, oat, millet or other gluten free flour could probably be subbed)
1/2 cup millet flour (buckwheat, oat, brown rice or other gluten free flour could probably be subbed)
2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 to 1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric, optional for color
1/2 cup finely chopped raw broccoli florets
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or non-dairy Daiya shreds for vegan)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 to 1 tsp minced garlic (depends on how much you want the garlic to come through)
1 egg, whisked (use Energy egg replacer for vegan)
3 Tbsp olive oil (melted butter, ghee or earth balance could be subbed)
2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened plain rice milk)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease your donut pan well and set aside.
2. In a small microwave bowl, add broccoli and 1 tbsp water. Cover and cook for 1 minute, remove from microwave, drain and let cool completely.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, add dry ingredients (flours through turmeric) and whisk to combine. Add in cooled broccoli and shredded cheese and stir.
4. In a small bowl, mix wet ingredients (vinegar though milk) and whisk to combine. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.
5. Spoon batter into prepared grease pan and bake for 13-15 minutes. Let cool completely and remove from pan, enjoy!