Tag Archives: gluten-free

The best thing I ever made, or, pavlova

10 Sep

For Valentine’s Day last year I surprised my boyfriend with one of these fluffy, beautiful meringue-cakes named after a Russian ballerina.  It was, we both agree, the best thing I’ve ever made.  Light as air, crisp on the outside, slightly sweet on the inside with a teeny hint of tartness from the lemon, and a gorgeous marshmallow texture unlike anything you’ve had before (well, it’s sort of like marshmallow.  But better.)

The lore is that this dessert was created in either Australia or New Zealand after Anna Pavlova toured there, and it’s now pretty much the national dessert of both places.  My adviser told me that if I say it’s from New Zealand rather than Australia, I should find a new adviser.  But he doesn’t read my blog (so far as I know, or if he does it’s probably just the math bits), so I’ll tell you now: per the latest research, it’s from New Zealand (I totally want a copy of this book).

Anyways, let’s get on to baking it, shall we?  It didn’t work out as well this week because of the humidity (it sort of melted down a bit) but it’s still SO TASTY- the crispy sweet meringue, the soft tart fruits, the airy whipped cream.  So.  So.  Good.

This dessert will bowl you over

This dessert will bowl you over

The addition of cornstarch is what makes the outside of the meringue crispy and inside fluffy versus most meringues you get at the bakery which look so good but are chalky sadness inside.

SEPARATING EGG WHITES: they sell egg separators.  This is silly.  The eggs come with their own separator- it’s called an egg shell.  Carefully crack your egg over the bowl you want your whites in…

Can't get enough of your yolk, babe - Eggy White.

I’ve had it in my shell before, ’cause of a lust for life, ’cause of a lust for life- Eggy Pop.

Then hold one half of it with the yolk inside, letting the white drip away from the yolk.  If you’re real adventurous you can play some hot potato with that yolk and the two shell sides.

IF YOU MESS THIS UP YOU WILL DIE.  I'm just yolking.

IF YOU MESS THIS UP YOU WILL DIE. I’m just yolking.

I couldn’t take a picture of me using both hands for the passing method, but here’s a picture from wikihow:

Image:Separate an Egg Step 10.jpg

Once you’ve got all your whites in one spot and your yolks in your tupperware, throw the yolks in the fridge or freezer (I used them later that day for a flourless chocolate cake so I put them in the fridge).

Then start beating those whites!  You can add a pinch of salt at the beginning to help it out, but it’ll take a good 2-3 minutes on a low speed until it gets nice and foamy with teeny tiny uniform bubbles”

If I get a dog, maybe a could of small greyhounds- I always seem to need two whippet(s)

If I get a dog, maybe a could of small greyhounds- I always seem to need two whippet(s)

I mixed my sugar and cornstarch together with a fork before this next step (you can see them in the green bowl above).  Increase the speed to medium/medium-high while gradually pouring in that sugar/cornstarch.  Keep beating until there are “soft peaks” and medium-strong trails- so when you lift a beater, you leave behind a droopy peak.  In my picture you can see the whites are hugging the beaters a bit.

Best kind of swirly!

Best kind of swirly!

Splash in the vanilla and vinegar and whip it for several minutes.  Total it’s maybe 10-15 minutes of beating, until the mixture is super glossy and a bit more stiff.

There's no booze here but it sure does (s)peak easy

There’s no booze here but it sure does (s)peak easy

Keep beating…

This must've slept wrong the other night... so stiff!

This must’ve slept wrong the other night… so stiff!

If you have parchment paper, crumple it up and lay it out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle some cornstarch on it.  I just put some cornstarch on my silpat, but it didn’t work as well.

Then carefully spatula out your mound of pavlova!

The fourth stage: depression (in the middle, to hold the filling)

The fourth stage: depression (in the middle, to hold the filling)

Bake it very low (250-300) for an hour, then turn off the oven and leave it in there to cool for a few hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to serve, whip up some cream with powdered sugar and vanilla.

Time to cop a powder(ed sugar)!

Time to cop a powder(ed sugar)!

Whip it real good

Whip it real good

Until it looks like the stuff from the can

Until it looks like the stuff from the can

Then take out your pavlova and layer it with fresh whipped cream and fresh fruit.  Kiwi is traditional but I’m allergic to it, so we just did berries.  Also I had had a few beers by this point so I layered it incorrectly- it should be whipped cream first, then fruit.

P1010309 P1010310

Recipe cobbled together from simply recipes and allrecipes:

Ingredients:

6 egg whites

1 1/4 c sugar

4 tsp cornstarch

2 tsp white vinegar

2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300.  Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl.  Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on low until small uniform bubbles appear (2-3 minutes).  Then gradually beat in the sugar-cornstarch mixture on medium until glossy.  Then fold in the vinegar and vanilla and beat on medium-high until stiff and glossy.

Stick in the oven either in small meringues for individual servings or in one big one to share. If individual ones, lower heat to 250.  If a big one, lower to 275.  In either case, bake for one hour, then turn off oven and leave pavlova in it until ready to serve (or stick it in an airtight tupperware and leave it in a cool dark place).

Top with sweetened whipped cream, and then cut up fresh fruit (I used raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries).  Serve immediately or else it’ll absorb the moisture from the fruit/cream and be less crisp.

Whipped cream: beat a cup of heavy whipping cream until thick.  Then beat in 1 TB sugar (I used 1/4 c powdered because I ran out of sugar) and a splash of vanilla.

Raw vegan key lime pie, or on failure, part II

4 Aug

My friend pointed out a while back that raw recipes really shouldn’t count as baking.  This surprises me because she was there when I made the turducken and it was 84 degrees outside my house and hotter inside when the oven was on.  You guys, it’s August in Chicago.  I’m not turning on the oven and if I could I would just have gazpacho and salad for all my meals.So!  Key lime pie!  I’ve never made it and I’ve only had it once before.  This is more of an avocado-lime pie (it doesn’t even use the key ingredient of key lime pie).  Whenever I don’t feel like schlepping over to the gym I do a few pilates youtube videos from Cassey Ho, and today two days ago I accidentally clicked on one of her food videos instead of the ab video I wanted.  So I thought I’d try it out, with a few modifications.  Also, since I’m not that experienced with making raw food (the brownies were my first time), I didn’t realize you’re supposed to soak the cashews overnight.  Thank  you, internet, for telling me what I could do instead!

OK so raw recipes?  You really have to plan them ahead.  This is not my forte, if you couldn’t tell from the way I throw things together for baking.  So this post and pie turned from baking to failure.  I think it’s a sign.  Within a year after I graduated from college, several people and an animal close to me all died (separately), and someone told me that it seemed like the universe was trying to tell me something.  Since then I’ve focused more time on things I love (this blog, the people dear to me, traveling, reading) and less time on other stuff (stressing about how little work I’m getting done in grad school or what I’ll do with my life/future).  Similarly, this is the FIRST TIME I have ever had to throw out something I made because it was so bad.  I think I’m telling me (through my willful negligence of the recipe and thoughtfulness) that I shouldn’t become a raw foodist.  I’m OK with that, given the first sentence in this post.

Previous paragraph aside, I want to emphasize that failure is not a sign that you should give up, but a sign that you should learn.  There’s no way to learn without failure, and since I’m in the business of learning, I’m pretty much destined to fail.  Over and over again.  And in the face of much, much failure, and very few milestones (none for the next few years, and then I’ll suddenly have a dissertation), it will seem easier to quit and switch to something else than keep going.  But this connects back to that other life lesson I had from all the deaths- do what you love.  This is what I love, so I’ll do it, and keep accumulating failures on my path to success.  This is true for anyone who is ambitious, because anyone ambitious should have learning be a major part of their life.

So things I learned from this poison pie:

  • Make sure your avocados are ripe.  Generally I throw avocados in a paper bag with some bread to get them to ripen faster.   Below I’ll tell you how I poisoned us with the avocado.
  • Read your recipe ahead of time.  Apparently you’re supposed to soak cashews overnight for cashew cream.  I asked the internet and did the quick soak method for the cashews (you bring them to a boil, then cover and let them steam for an hour) but I don’t think it turned out as well (also I didn’t wait for the full hour).
  • Follow directions exactly.   I don’t think this can be on my list because I didn’t learn it, in the face of much evidence.  Man I’m like a climate change denialist in this aspect of my life.  Luckily it doesn’t affect anyone but me (and whomever I’m feeding).
  • My blender sucks.  Use the food processor or immersion blender instead.
  • DON’T POISON YOURSELF.  I mean it’s not like we all died or anything because I’m writing this to you.  I cut open the avocados and realized they were not ripe, so I put them in a plastic bag (this was the big problem) and closed it and left it out.  A day later it was full of gases from the avocado respiring, and the fats in the avocado had gone rancid (I think, I’m not sure).  I didn’t notice until much later, after making and tasting the pie.

Crust: Food process all your stuff!  I used walnuts, dates, coconut, and almond.  Then press it into a pie pan.

I was driving my date nuts with talk of my interests.  I don't see what's wrong with cocoa and walls.

I was driving my date nuts with talk of my interests. I don’t see what’s wrong with cocoa and walls.

This is a little crazy: apparently almonds aren't nuts!

This is a little crazy: apparently almonds aren’t nuts!

Of coarse, the internet could've told you that (besides this blog)

Of coarse, the internet could’ve told you that (besides this blog)

And you probably weren't whirr-ied about it anyway.

And you probably weren’t whirr-ied about it anyway.

But if you were, just apply a little pressure and everything will be fine

But if you were, just apply a little pressure and everything will be fine

Then throw that crust in the freezer.  I actually kept my crust after throwing out the rest of the pie because it was so tasty!  And I think this pie would be yummy if you didn’t use rancid, unripe avocados.

Next you take your soaked overnight cashews and drain them.   I meant you throw your cashews in a pot with some water, bring it to a boil, turn off the heat and let it steam for an hour (so cover it and don’t peek!)  Then blend those cashews up into cashew cream.

I'm a pot!  I'm holding cashews!  The kettle is super black right now!

I’m a pot! I’m holding cashews! The kettle is super black right now!

cASHEWS!  (bless you!)

cASHEWS! (bless you!)

Next add your avocado, zest and juice of two limes, and whatever else (I did honey and vanilla).  Blend that up!
If you squeezed lime juice in your eyes you'd probably be temporarily blinded.  Maybe that's the source of the exclamation "blimey!"

If you squeezed lime juice in your eyes you’d probably be temporarily blinded. Maybe that’s the source of the exclamation “blimey!”

If two limes from the same tree grated against each other, would that be incest? (inzest)

If two limes from the same tree grated against each other, would that be incest? (inzest)

Deep into the belly of the beast (The Blender)

Deep into the belly of the beast (The Blender)

If your blender isn’t stupid, you’ll have a beautiful, fluffy lightly green cream filling that you can spread on your crust and chuck in the fridge.  Top with some additional lime and shredded coconut.

Covering up the crust's indecency with some PASTE-ies

Covering up the crust’s indecency with some PASTE-ies

P1000955

But really I think this pie would be great without rancid avocado.  I’ll probably make the non-raw, non-vegan version first, but if I make this again I’ll let you know!

Raw vegan key lime pie (inspired by blogilates)

Crust:

1 c walnuts

1/2 c almonds

1/2 c shredded coconut

8-10 dates (about a cup)

Use a food processor to grind up the nuts, then add the other ingredients and process until fine and crumbly.  Use your clean hands to press into a pie pan, then throw in the freezer.

Filling:

2 avocados

2 limes, zested and juiced

1 c cashews, soaked overnight

1 tsp vanilla

2 TB raw honey

optional: more shredded coconut

First blend or food process the cashews until very fine.  Then add the other ingredients and blend until smooth.  Spread over crust, top with shredded coconut and/or more lime, and chill in freezer.

Gluten-free vegan three-ingredient peanut butter cookies

18 Jul

I had a gluten-free friend visiting Chicago for a few days last week, and my roommate actually went vegan (vs. her vegetarian/sort of veganism before).  I also came home from a two week trip to France and was itching to bake, but had very few things in the pantry.  BUT I did have these things:

  • Peanut butter (I love the natural Jif stuff, but you can use whatever you want, chunky or smooth)
  • White sugar
  • Flaxseed (You can also use an egg if you aren’t vegan)
These cookies won't make you slim, but the photo is real shady

These cookies won’t make you slim, but the photo is real shady

The recipe for this is just about the easiest.  It’s one of very very few recipes that I’ve completely memorized, and it takes maybe 5 minutes to put together.  That’s a lie because it takes a few minutes for the flax gel to set, but if you have an egg it takes 5 minutes, with flaxseed maybe 7.

So mix your flaxseed gel, 1 TB flaxseed to 2 TB warm water, and let it sit.

I'm running out of puns.  I need to start being systematic and stop being so FLAXadaisical about these captions

I’m running out of puns. I need to start being systematic and stop being so FLAXadaisical about these captions

Then mix your peanut butter, sugar, and flaxseed in a bowl.

These cookies will be really POURtable

These cookies will be really POURtable

A one-bowl recipe?  Sign me up!  (I realize I used two bowls but you don’t need to).

I wish I could have Anthony Ray over to help me back sometime.  Then his stage name would make even more sense.

I wish I could have Anthony Ray over to help me back sometime. Then his stage name would make even more sense.

Scoop by tablespoons onto your silpat (I love these!), and flatten them with a fork to get that peanut-butter cookie-criss cross shape.  Sprinkle with extra sugar, and/or if you want, press a chocolate chip into the top (still with the non-vegan chocolate chips so roommate didn’t eat those).

Baking is so, so baller.

Baking is so, so baller.

These cookies definitely make a good imPRESSion

These cookies definitely make a good imPRESSion

Bake at 350 for however long you want, until it smells good.  My first batch were in for 8 minutes, and then I started washing dishes and cleaning the house and I forgot about the second batch which was in for maybe 16?  18?  and they were still delicious.

You kids have it so good nowadays.  Back in my day, I had to walk upchill both ways to cool off my cookies, none of this wire-rack gadgetry.

You kids have it so good nowadays. Back in my day, I had to walk upchill both ways to cool off my cookies, none of this wire-rack gadgetry.

P1000463

Recipe (from various sources on the internet, once)

1 c peanut butter (pick your fave)

1 c white sugar

1 TB flaxseed OR 1 egg

optional: splash of vanilla, chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix 1 TB flaxseed with 2 TB warm water and let sit for a few minutes until thickened.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheets.

Press with a fork to flatten (these won’t flatten otherwise and then middle will be far less cooked)

Bake 6-18 minutes, your preference.  Let cool on sheets for a little bit before transferring to wire racks, if you do that.

Pudding it all together…

22 Apr

I’ve been traveling for the past several weekends, and this most recent weekend I ran my first-ever conference!  Which means that I haven’t been too consistent on this blog; I apologize for that.  I need to start making backup posts and posting them during the busy weeks.

It also means that I have very few ingredients at home.  You might’ve noticed we’ve been baking egg-free for the past several weeks.  I LOVE eggs.  And not just because they’re eggstremely amenable to puns (well, not eggsactly).  When I went to the store last week, I basically only got eggs and zucchini.  And hence last week’s baking adventure: rice pudding! (Also roasted veggies).

The "in" crowd can be very finicky (no one likes that second egg, but don't tell her that.  She's getting kicked out later.  We just needed an eggstra for the shoot.)

The “in” crowd can be very finicky (no one likes that second egg, but don’t tell her that. She’s getting kicked out later. We just needed an eggstra for the shoot.)

It’s very nice having a rice cooker to make your rice.  Every rice pudding recipe I’ve seen uses precooked rice, rather than cooking the rice directly in the custard.  I think this dessert is for leftover rice, just like bread pudding is for leftover bread, but sometimes you just make some rice/bread for the pudding because it’s delicious.

I wish it was this easy to turn anyone... I meant thing on.

I wish it was this easy to turn anyone… I meant thing on.

This was my first time baking rice pudding rather than making it on the stove.  I did it just for you guys!

First step: butter your pan.  I’ve done this with paper towels and a pat of butter or oil, and I’ve also done it with my hand.  The paper towels absorb too much fat, while I don’t like the oil on my hands (wash them beforehand if you do this of course.  Or just generally, wash your hands before cooking.)  So I’ve started using a piece of parchment paper instead.  See picture.

She's got beautiful surfaces, but her size leaves something to be desired.  Just kidding this pan is perfect.

She’s got beautiful surfaces, but her size leaves something to be desired. Just kidding this pan is perfect.

Next you need to do your custard.  Beat your eggs…

I wonder if the BEATles did a lot of baking

I wonder if the BEATles did a lot of baking

Then add your sugar, splash of vanilla, spices, and melted butter, and mix well

The seven deadly cinnamons: cassia, Vietnamese, Ceylan, and Indonesion.  Okay there's four so sue me, mon.

The seven deadly cinnamons: cassia, Vietnamese, Ceylan, and Indonesion. Okay there’s four I lied. So sue me, mon.

Now add your milk, carefully (I always need bigger bowls)

Geez milk is such a drama queen.  She's always milking pictures for all she's worth.  I guess she can't help it...

Geez milk is such a drama queen. She’s always milking pictures for all she’s worth. I guess she can’t help it…

And mix that custard well.  Then add your cooled, cooked rice.

Check out the fork while my baker revolves it, rice rice baby vanilla.  I've done this one before but guys I LOVE THIS SONG

Check out the fork while my baker revolves it, rice rice baby vanilla. I’ve done this one before but guys I LOVE THIS SONG

Personally I think rice pudding is best with cinnamon and raisins but guess what I didn’t have raisins so it’s banana chocolate chip rice pudding!

If Orange County were in the tropics would they call them the Santa Banana winds?

If Orange County were in the tropics would they call them the Santa Banana winds?

Now throw your whole mix (it should be like very thin oatmeal, thinner than you’d like to eat) into you buttered dish, and bake for an episode of TNG, or about 45 minutes.

"We're ready for lunch captain." "Did you mean launch?" "That's what I said, sir."

“We’re ready for lunch captain.”
“Did you mean launch?”
“That’s what I said, sir.”

The custard should be set but still soft.  I actually overbaked mine because I forgot about it.  Yours should not be as brown as below.  And to be honest, I think you should do yours on the stove rather than the oven.

2013-04-17_21-57-13_799

Rice pudding recipe (taken from my head):

Beat:

1 egg

Add:

1/4 c white sugar

1 TB melted butter

1-2 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice to your taste

Mix in:

1 c milk

And add

1.5 c cooked rice

Throw the whole thing in a small buttered pan for 45 mins at 350 or until set.  You can then stir in some more milk (up to 1 c) for creaminess, OR

Throw the whole thing on the stovetop and simmer for 20 minutes or so.  Have another 1 c of milk to stir in a few tablespoons at a time until it hits the milky creamy consistency you want.

 

 

 

Gluten free egg free coconut-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies

4 Apr

I moderated a panel on Work-Life balance yesterday, so when I got home I thought I’d make some cookies.  (Yes, that is the reasoning.)  One of the professors eats gluten-free, so these are made with coconut flour.  I didn’t have any eggs and i was too lazy to go to the store, so these are also egg free and made with flax.

Hey ya!  The kast of characters.  If I put them outside, I could call them the Outkast.

Hey ya! The kast of characters. If I put them outside, I could call them the Outkast.

Then just for funsies I threw in some ginger too.  KEY TIP for when you’re baking egg free: the flaxseed takes awhile to react with the water.  I’ve seen various ratios (the Bob’s Red Mill says 3 TB water to 1 TB flaxseed) but I use 2 TB of water and 1 Tb of flaxseed.  Just stir them up (I ended up using 3 of these, one for each egg) and let it sit for 5-10 minutes while you do the other stuff.

In the kitchen, where I spend most of my days, chillin out, flaxing, relaxing all cool, and all mixing some fake eggs outside of school

In the kitchen, where I spend most of my days, chillin out, flaxing, relaxing all cool, and all mixing some fake eggs outside of school

Meanwhile you can mix up your coconut flour with baking soda and baking powder and ginger.  I didn’t use salt this time because there’s salt in the butter.

I'm cuckoo for coco-nut flour- Sonny's separated from birth twin, who became a baker and contributed to society unlike his bum friend.

I’m cuckoo for coco-nut flour- Sonny’s separated from birth twin, who became a baker and contributed to society unlike his bum friend.

Then cream your stick of butter with 1/3 c of sugar and some vanilla.  Another KEY TIP: don’t microwave your butter for 15 seconds to soften it.  Just don’t do it.  Maybe 8-10 seconds will work.

There are neither peanuts nor chocolate in this picture, but there are definitely some butterfingers

There are neither peanuts nor chocolate in this picture, but there are definitely some butterfingers

Then stir in your thickened flaxseed mix.  Don’t be afraid if this is super watery- coconut flour absorbs all.

Nonpun caption: the flaxseed almost makes a vector field diagram

Nonpun caption: the flaxseed almost makes a vector field diagram

Then mix in your coconut flour, some oats, and a handful of chocolate chips.  The coconut flour will just absorb all of that liquid.  To be safe, I added a few tablespoons of water until it was more of a normal cookie dough texture.  You really have to be a bit careful with coconut flour.

Bake bake bake, bake bake bake, bake your coooookie.  Bake your cookie!  (apparently there are other lyrics to that song too.  who knew?)

Bake bake bake, bake bake bake, bake your coooookie. Bake your cookie! (apparently there are other lyrics to that song too. who knew?)

Again because of the flour, these cookies don’t spread or change shape much when baking, so I recommend (as did the original recipe) pressing down on each cookie lightly:

Patty-cookie, patty-cookie, bakers man.  Bake me a cookie as fast as you can.  That's all of that song that I know.

Patty-cookie, patty-cookie, bakers man. Bake me a cookie as fast as you can. That’s all of that song that I know.

Bake until lightly browned.  The texture is OUT OF THIS WORLD.  It’s so different from other cookies: almost cakey, crumbly like a scone but still moist, with coconut flavor and a teensy hint of ginger.  The flaxseed makes it seem healthy too.  Did you know oats have protein?

2013-04-03 20.29.02

Adapted from a recipe here: http://purelytwins.com/2012/10/22/perfect-soft-thick-coconut-flour-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Mix:

3 TB ground flaxseed

6 TB water

and let sit.  Meanwhile, whisk:

2/3 c coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ginger

Separately, stir:

1 stick (1/4 c) softened butter

1/3 c white sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Then add your flaxseed to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Dump in your dry ingredients and mix.  Add in:

2/3 c oats

1/2 c chocolate chips.

Now mix the batter: it will be thick!  This next part is subjective and changes due to weather, humidity, how old your flour is, etc.  But stir in

1-4 TB water

until your batter feels like cookie dough.

Drop by TB onto a cookie sheet, and bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool on the pan rather than on a wire rack because these babies will fall apart.

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