This is why I don’t make sugar cookies

I spent the last hour looking for my cookie cutters. I know I had several. After going through most of the boxes of stuff that we packed up when the house was on the market, I could find none. Before packing I knew right where they were. I can’t remember when I had last used the cookie cutters, if ever. Somehow one would find it’s way in my stocking every couple of years. Now, an hour later I am pretty sure I had a conversation last July that went something like this: “Cookie cutters? I don’t ever plan on making sugar cookies, I don’t even like sugar cookies, I might as well take these to Goodwill.” Of course. Could I remember that before going downstairs and ripping through 20 boxes, of course not.

Strangely enough, for Christmas one of my dear friends got me some St Patrick’s Day kitchen towels and they came with a shamrock cookie cutter. I adore St Patrick’s Day and love anything shamrockie, but thought, when am I ever going to use this cookie cutter, but it is a really cool cookie cutter. Strangely enough my mom, who loves sugar cookies and would bake and decorate them for almost any holiday when I was growing up gave me a bag of Gluten Free Sugar Cookie mix in my stocking this year. This time I thought, that is probably the only way I will ever make sugar cookies and told her, what a coincidence as I had just received a shamrock cookie cutter.

I was thinking about what I could get my sweetie for Valentine’s Day and since the smoking jackets on Amazon were all party costumes (he smokes a pipe while roasting coffee and drinking homebrew outside) and pretty sleezey looking, I thought a very stupid thought: “I will make him some sugar cookies shaped like hearts drizzled with white chocolate that is turned red or pink from food coloring.”

Since I couldn’t find the heart cookie cutter I know I had, I diligently cut out three cardboard hearts to use as a tracer. I did heavily debate just using the shamrock with the pink white chocolate (that sounds a bit odd, pink white chocolate). I may still do that if the cutouts don’t perform.

So, I have had a very busy week this week, but happen to have a couple of hours that I could take off this afternoon since I worked last night and thought, I must make the sugar cookies while he isn’t home so it is a surprise when he gets home this eve.

I loaded the butter into the KitchenAid and set it to cream. The bag said to pour the mix in slowly to the bowl while mixing, so I opened the bag and it wouldn’t come out. I so I opened it wider and gave it a shake and then another shake and all of a sudden the whole mix comes out in a plastic bag. In the blink of an eye I reached to turn the mixer off and ppooooofff ! The mixer caught the bag and it exploded all over everything. My face was white, my sweatshirt and tee shirt coated, all over the floor and counter, it even went down my bra and up my nose. I paused and then all i could do was laugh. I think you would have been on the floor laughing if you had seen me and the shock on my white powdered face. Luckily the camera was near by on the counter and I snapped a pic before going to wash my face, change shirts and then begin the cleaning. Oddly enough we finally ordered a dust buster for the kitchen as the kitchen floor gets messy quite fast when I cook and bake, how handy was that to have in the next room?

This is why i should never make sugar cookies. So, I had no idea how much mix I lost to adjust my ingredients! There was quite a bit of butter on the exploded bag, so perhaps I decided to just follow the recipe with the remaining ingredient amounts. It is now chilling in the fridge.

I never thought there was a bag within the bag! He he he, I will check from now on though!

i’m out and I am rolling cookie dough.

 

Triple chocolate brownies with raspberry

Vote for me in the Death by Chocolate contest

Jan 08 food and brewing 128

Oh, sometimes the chocolate gods are smiling down on me. Today was such a day. The honest truth is, before I was diagnosed with Celiac (2 years next month) I rarely made brownies that did not come from a package. Those were just so quick and easy and tasted pretty good to me! Since being on a gluten free diet, I still have only used GF brownie mixes (with my alterations of course) and have been somewhat pleased with the results. I mentioned that my boyfriend whipped up a batch the other day and those were tasty, but when I want chocolate, I want it to be gooey and heavy and all out dense. The recipe he used was on the cakey side and (horrors!) I have never been a fan of cake, not ever (ok, maybe when I was two).

I had this idea of raspberries in my head all week and kept asking him when he was going to make the raspberry cake (which didn’t sound cakey to me). I realized that it probably wouldn’t happen until the weekend and there was chocolate sitting around. So, I decided to whip up a batch. I went to go for my Rebecca Riley GF cook book and realized that I loaned out all of my GF cookbooks to some friends with a recently diagnosed Celiac son. So, I reached for the chocolate cook book that my mom gave me a couple of years ago. I hate to say it, but I had not made a single recipe out of that book and it is a book about chocolate! I don’t normally have much of a sweet tooth. The whole 8×8 pan only called for 1/2 of self rising flour – well that was easily replaced with coconut flour, for extra denseness and flavor. In fact, I altered the recipe quite a bit in order to create my chocolate raspberry fantasy brownie.

We happened to have two bags of frozen raspberries in the freezer. I took one out and started cooking it down. Once it had cooked a bit, I strained it and then took the puree and cooked it down some more adding about 1Tbs of sugar. I reduced it to about 1/8 of tart raspberry goodness and then drizzled it over the brownie batter and then ran a knife through it to swirl it a bit.

It worked. Every bite is loaded with chocolate (almost too much for me, not too much for the dear BF) and a nice tart raspberry punch. Perfect combo and super quick and easy to throw together.

Here’s the recipe:

Triple Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry

5 oz of dark chocolate (bittersweet) chopped into small pieces ( a task that I find is better accomplished by purchasing bars of chocolate instead of blocks of chocolate – those take some muscle!)

1/2 cup oil (just not olive oil) next time I will see if subbing melted butter will work

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar packed down

2 eggs

1 tsp VANILLA (for vanilla week) extract

1/2 coconut flour (you can sub any kind here of your fav GF mix)

1/4 cocoa powder

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 bag of frozen raspberries

1 Tbs of sugar (or agave nectar)

Preheat your oven to 350F and grease an 8×8 pan.

Slowly melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler (on a simmer) or I just use a glass bowl over a small pot with water.

Combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a med/large bowl. Stir in the melted chocolate, mix well until smooth.

Add coconut flour and cocoa powder to the bowl and fold it in, then add your chocolate chips. I used a 1/2 cup, more might be too much I think, but go with what you like. Pour it all into your baking pan.

Raspberry puree: pour the whole bag into a small pot and slowly bring it up to a boil, do not add water. Pour the raspberries into a strainer of some sort (and over a bowl) and rub your spoon around and push all the juices and some pulp, just not the seeds, through. Make sure you get all the raspberry goods that are hanging on the outside of the strainer into that bowl. Pour this back into the pot. Toss the raspberry seed mixture into your compost. Add about 1 tbs of sugar to take the full edge of the tartness away, then cook it down until you have between 1/4 and 1/8th of a cup. This should be pretty thick and almost jammy. In lines, pour/spoon the raspberry mixture over the brownie mixture in the pan, if you have some left, pour in lines the other direction (like a checkerboard). Take a butter knife and go against the lines and drawn the raspberry paste into the brownie mix. Then pop it in the oven, for at least 30 min, maybe 35 (mine was pretty loosey goosey still in the middle – next time I will bake for 35 min). Let them cool as long as you can, cut into 16 squares and then dig in. The flash (I have a very dark house) really makes the brownies look lighter than they are. The flashless photo gives you the true color and chocolatelyness of these brownies.

Jan 08 food and brewing 133 Jan 08 food and brewing 129

Make sure you have some coffee nearby to bring you out of your chocolate coma.

i’m out

Singapore street noodles and sunday brunch

Ok, I know I am a day late here with my menu of the week (see the next post), but I have a good excuse.

Saturday afternoon, my boyfriend decided that he wanted to cook brunch for everyone (8 of us) on Sunday. He started picking up my recipe books and started making a grocery list. Then, we went shopping. Mind you, I did not know what we were shopping for except for the items on my list. I only knew that he was going to make some wheat free bagels. So of course I had to make some nifty cream cheese spread to go with the smoked salmon I had on store just for that moment. Apparently we purchased groceries for about 15 different items, as there were other things that he wanted to make during the week. When your boyfriend gets a baking and cooking bug, you go with it. You do anything you can to encourage it. Be the lovely sous chef and make him coffee or cocktails, whatever he wants, just to keep him in the kitchen. It feels so great to have someone cook and bake for you!

While I was in the shower (so that we could go to the store) he made a batch of brownies. That quick folks, from scratch. So, while he was focused on what to make for our friends, I focused on what to make for dinner.

Singapore street noodles with shrimp and chicken. Thankfully PF Changs is in the habit of listing their main ingredients and these were the noodles I wanted to replicate, but not the ones with the GF sauce, rather the curry sauce (it had been several years, but I had that curry memory in my head….). So that I had to wing, my winging needs a bit of tweaking but it was pretty good.

Singapore Street Noodles for 4

Purple cabbage, shredded (probably 1.5 cups worth); julienned carrots (one carrot); chopped green onions (a bunch and 1/2) (whites and greens separated); one tomato de-seeded and sliced; shallots (4), cilantro (a good large handful); and marinated thinly sliced chicken(two small breasts) and shrimp (I used 14, don’t know why). I used brown rice vermicelli and soaked it for 5 minutes in cold water and then drained it. The purple cabbage was so striking in the stir fry, I highly recommend using it, but if you have green on hand, then use that up. I marinated the chicken and shrimp in garlic, ginger, GF tamari and a dash of curry powder (Penzey’s sweet curry would work great here, if I had the forethought to get some.). For the sauce I used GF tamari, toasted sesame oil, a dash of rice vinegar, lime, freshly grated ginger and garlic, szechuan peppercorns, some curry powder and chicken broth.

In a wok, I sauteed the chicken, then shrimp and set aside and sauteed the cabbage, shallots and carrots, and set those aside. I then tossed the noodles in and gave them a go around. Add the white parts of the green onion and the tomato for a few seconds. Then back in with the previously cooked ingredients, sauce, and add the dark green parts of the green onion and the cilantro, toss, toss again and then serve. It came pretty close, and I will keep experimenting to get that curry taste down pat.

Since blood oranges seem to be cheaper than ever, I have been stocking up. The blood orangeito was tasty. When I ran low on blood oranges, I began squeezing tangerines to mix with vodka:

blood orange and vodka blood orange and tangerine juice

So that was dinner. By this time, my bf was ready to offer up what he had planned for Sunday morn and prepping began in earnest. Here is the list of what we had all wheat free/gluten free of course:

Wheat free water bagels (from whole spelt) with plain cream cheese or my spread with fresh dill, red onion, lemon, capers and black pepper (all things that go great with smoked salmon) and pepper smoked salmon. Can I just say how great it was to eat a somewhat normal bagel? It was chewy and flavorful and they were fun to make.

water bagels from spelt dough spelt bagels after roasting

Ginger Daddies – giant ginger molasses cookies that tasted just like lebkuchen in Germany

Irish Soda bread

Build your own burrito with corn or spelt tortillas, cheese, breakfast sausage, eggs, oven roasted hash browns and New Mex red chile sauce.

Candied bacon – wow, is this a treat. We coated some of our own bacon with brown sugar and three types of red chile and baked it. Spicy, sweet, smoky, salty. Need I say more?

Maple Sausage links

Wheat free beignets with powdered sugar

Fruit cobbler made in a dutch oven on a charcoal grill

Mimosas with orange or grapefruit juice

Home roasted free trade coffee

And the brownies can’t forget about those…

Do you notice the lack of fresh fruit or vegetables? That is because he was in charge and he has a big sweet tooth. I was in charge of the bagel spread, potatoes, candied bacon, red chile sauce and frying up the sausage for burritos. He did the rest.

Did I mention this was a brunch? Guests did not leave until 7:30 pm! That’s right, by then it was dinner time. When I started to throw together some vegetable beef soup with lots of tomatoes (canned from the garden) after all those carbs, they went running. My sweetie collapsed on the couch. It is hard to drink home brew all day long! Once we finished one bottle of champagne off with mimosas, I wisely stopped drinking. They all powered through!

So my menu of the week is late due to the fact that we are entertaining fiends! I forgot to take any pictures! Now, to work on my menu…

i’m out

Cheesecake with ganache and kinnikitoos and fluffy

For a baby shower I co-hosted last weekend I was asked to make something for dessert. Now a lot of you might cringe, but I rarely think about desserts because I usually can’t eat them unless I make them and it is enough to cook dinner most of the time. But apparently others think about desserts/sweets with some frequency. I hadn’t made a GF cheese cake yet, mostly because I only find occasion to make a cheesecake about every two years. Somehow, I decided that I wanted an Oreo style cheesecake, even though I don’t recall ever eating one. Mostly I wanted the chocolate cookie crust. So I made one. And, if I am going to make a dessert, well, I want to be sure it will be delish and what makes everything delish? Ganache. It conveniently covers up any blemishes that may occur while baking too. Here is the cheesecake framed by my partial spice rack:

cheesecake<br /> with ganache

Looking back over the last 3 months blogs, I noticed that I haven’t included very many food photos. It doesn’t mean I haven’t been taking them. They all get loaded on Flickr.com. So today is photo day. After digging into the long awaited cheesecake (well it was about 24 hours after making it) I regretted crushing up the extra cookies and mixing them into the batter. They were soggy and actually took away from the cheesecake flavor I think. The ganache made up for it.

I have been on a huge “eat as much seafood as I possibly can” kick and this happens to me every January. So to satisfy my craving I made my own sushi rolls one day:

spicy tuna roll with flying fish roe

and some miso soup with sizzling rice (I know they traditionally don’t go together, but it sounded good):

Jan 08 031

I am always in the mood for Vietnamese food and lately I have been experimenting with ban xeoh and dipping sauce:

pdrworkdrinkshizzle 120 ban xeoh or vietnamese crepes ban xeoh or vietnamese crepes

These are so fresh, tasty and easy to make. The crepe consists of rice flour mixed with turmeric, coconut milk and water and then you make the crepe and add bean sprouts, pork, and loads of fresh asian herbs and cut a piece off, wrap it in a lettuce leaf and then dip it! The dipping sauce is shredded carrots, fish sauce, green onion, a bit of sugar and maybe some rice wine (I will have to check). I marinate my pork in GF tamari, ginger, garlic and red chile before frying. This dish is so satisfying as it is crunchy, salty and porky (new adjective) with coconut overtones.

Now, on to fluffy the killer squirrel.
Fluffy was very quiet today, so quiet that I thought I had better make sure that Fluffy was not in the trap. We expected to hear lots of noise and protesting if the trap went off. Wrong. Quiet as a mouse. I opened the door and there he was, in the haveaheart trap. So I picked him up and set him down in the hallway and he promptly pee’d on the floor. I grabbed some tissue to soak it up and then picked him up again (in the trap) and he pee’d again. So, we moved a little more quickly this time. Down the stairs and into the sunroom – but before you are free you must pose for a picture:

Fluffy the killer squirrel is trapped!

I hope he learned his lesson, but I am guessing he will be back in the roof tomorrow as they have been working on destroying the foam we put in the hole. 

fluffy is outside now

I am off to a hard cider tasting!

Update on fluffy:  Fluffy was indeed sealed in the roof for 5 days as there have been no attempts to return to the hole in the roof.  I think fluffy’s partner was running around on the roof and trying to tell fluffy what corner to try to break out of and it was also ripping up the foam on the outside in an attempt to rescue it’s friend.  Both squirrels are back to playing happily in the backyard.

i’m out

journey

Today’s the day. I am getting another endoscope and biopsy to see what, if anything, spelt consumption has done to my body. Nervous? No, not until I got up this morning. Up until I had been looking forward to it. Now the truth is coming. Last year I already knew what the results were going to say about Celiac, the scope was just solid confirmation. This time, I do not know and am scared to be too hopeful. Wouldn’t you be hopeful to at some chance of normalcy in baking? Ease in your friends cooking ingredients ( I will buy them all small bags of spelt to use for cooking dishes that I might be eating too)? Going out to eat will always be the same on the GF diet. But my inner kingdom, my kitchen could be very different. Of course this means whenever I want a bagel, a loaf of bread, pita bread or muffin, I will bake it myself. I already do, except bagels. It means no conversion to GF ingredients and bread that will rise and bake with ease.

I actually went online to look for a recipe to cook for this eve since I took a sick day and have some time to waste between now and 3 pm. However it was making me too hungry and since I can’t eat or drink anything until after the procedure, I decided to blog instead.

I realized when I put myself on the Spelt Challenge, that I really have taken most breads out of my diet over the last year and knew that for anything to show up that I had to bump up the carb consumption. So I have been making no knead sourdough bread, kneaded sourdough bread (as it is just as easy), muffins, cookies (dried cherry chocolate chip with oatmeal), pancakes, and finally yesterday, noodles – ok, my brother was in town and he made those for some pheasant soup. I haven’t blogged about most of the spelt baked goods I have made, since this is a gluten free blog, but I have been baking. Even though it has been in the 90’s here with high humidity.

I have realized that the convenience of simple to put together bread eases up on the busyness of life. It is sometimes hard to do it all with grace. Cook all the time, work all the time, travel often, clean the house, entertain friends, bake whatever baked good I want (store bought ones just taste like cardboard to me – except those frozen waffles), garden in the evenings and weekends. Sometimes you want a break. Spelt has been a bit of one for me. Today I will know. I am not looking for sympathy, I am looking for a light. Apparently some celiacs can eat spelt and others can’t. I have to admit, I hope that I am one of the ones who can eat it.

If I can’t, well, I can’t and I will go back to my GF cookbooks and keep doing it all as I was doing it before. If I can, well, I might encourage you to try it too. Take the plunge, take a risk and we might all be pleasantly surprised. Everything about spelt says “shouldn’t” or that it might be bad for Celiacs or that it is like a sister to wheat and that they are very similar, yet, they are very different and no one has said shall not. I haven’t had a reaction yet. When I get some cross contamination from wheat, it is within an hour that I know about it.

Threw the window I go. In 3 hours I will know. I imagine I will be too drugged up to blog about it. Drugged up blogging could be a bad idea.

Wish me luck, don’t be jealous, just be happy for me if it works out. I would be happy for you. See you on the other side of the window.

UpNorth 013

i’m out