30 August 2013

Jammy Rye Scones

Last week, I decided I needed to re-attend to a bag of beloved rye flour in the freezer and realized I'd never made a scone with rye in it. So after a tiny bit of research/adaption, I concocted a half-batch of raspberry rye scones and baked them off one morning as I would any scone: a high temp, for 20 minutes or so. A buttery half-rye dough was kissed with lemon, slightly smashed berries were folded in and they baked up pretty stately: lightly browned atop with strands of red berry drizzled throughout. The outside, once cooled (though I probably should have waited even longer) was delightful, even a bit sweeter than I'd expected. But it was a Wednesday morning: did I really expect these would be aces?

When I slashed it in half to dollop on some jam I was perturbed. It looked a bit too damp, like it had needed more time or I'd added a tad too much cream. Well, those extra five minutes in the oven were long gone and the measuring cups put away. So I just ate around the center, which felt, kinda depressing. I needed to do better... for you, and for me! So I froze the other three and rewarmed them over the next few days in the hopes of drying them out which was a bandaid but not the cure, then one day I stuck one under the broiler while I was doing something else and burned the entire thing to black in about ten seconds. Luckily, one of these was sitting around as a replacement breakfast.

Now maybe I'm alone here but I don't like a scone with an under-set center. Nevermind all the advice to let them set for a few minutes which is directly contradicted by the often "enjoy warm from the oven..." So where do you stop cooling a scone? A crumb should be moist but not too moist. They should be eaten slightly warm but not piping hot. But with these raspberry ryes, since some chemistry was already off involving the bake time or moisture content, I would have been waiting in vain no matter what.

It's ok. This is how you grow. 

There is something to rye dough paired with berries. I just love it. So I stepped back and reconsidered: I was working with a 1:1 whole grain to all purpose flour mix. Hm...maybe I should have baked it at a lower temperature, for longer! Well what do you know,  a quick glance back at Good to the Grain indeed endorsed this theory. Nearly all of her recipes that include half a whole grain flour are cooked for longer and lower temperatures. So what was I doing popping these massive (albeit feathery) triangles of creamy buttery rye dough into a hot oven for a short time? Flailing, I guess.

So I started again, with this Kim Boyce recipe which is not in her book but one that she sells at her shop in Oregon. I did a little comparison with the popular figgy buckwheat scones in the book and decided on a hybrid. I'd made some quick stovetop blueberry jam a few days earlier so I slathered that on the rye dough and topped it with a bit of crushed toasted almonds I had already, and rolled it up like a pinwheel. Which was fun. I stuck it in the freezer for a few minutes, sliced them and baked them. And since I wasn't convinced they'd bake at 350, I set the temp around 370--and at 40 minutes (the time in the book for the fig scones), I pulled them. Yes, they took that long, but they weren't tiny and were cooked through just how I liked them. And the blueberry and rye? A star sign match.

Jammy Rye Scones 
Makes 6
Inspired by Kim Boyce here and here

Notes: I used salted butter (!) so I used just a pinch (scant 1/8 tsp) salt in the dough

  • 3/4 cups (84 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups (85 g) light rye flour
  • Scant 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar + an extra 2 pinches for the end
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ½ stick (2 oz) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 an egg
  • Grated zest of 1/2 a lemon 
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup berry jam of your choice
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted slivered almonds

Oven to 375. Line a pan with parchment.

Cube butter and set it in the freezer. Mix and weigh your flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and half the nuts, then set the bowl in the freezer. Measure your cream and egg, stir in vanilla, and set in the fridge. Measure out your jam.

Toss butter into dry mix and rub butter with your fingers until you get pea size clumps. Stir in the cream mix gently, until dough is just moistened. There will be dry patches, it is ok.

Dump it all onto a piece of plastic wrap and use another piece atop to flatten dough with the heel of your hand into a loose rectangle. Fold it like a letter over itself at least twice and up to four times flattening and rotating dough each time. Use a pastry scraper to push the sides into rectangle shape and roll with a pin lightly to about 5 x 7 inches and 1/2 inch thick.

Spread on jam, remaining nuts and one pinch sugar. Now starting with the long side closest to you, begin to roll the dough into a log. Place it into the freezer for a moment or two. Slice the log into 6 equal pieces (I was a bit scant on the last two!) and place on baking sheet. Brush with any remaining cream in your wet bowl and pinch on last pinch sugar.

Bake *30-40 minutes. This is a wide range but I encourage you to keep checking after it's getting close to 30 minutes. The tops, sides and bottoms need to be golden and a toothpick come out clean but since rye is a denser flour it needs the extra time. Cool on the tray at least 10 minutes. Cover with a tea cloth if not eating right away.

29 August 2013

Late Summer Roasted Vegetable Salad with Stovetop Chicken

As the summer comes to a close I find myself trying to hold onto experiences, time and colorful ingredients. This little almond flour baking spree has turned my world in an interesting direction. While I did manage to mix up a batch of rye and raspberry scones last week (I need to tweak it just a tad more before sharing--but hold onto your seats, they will rock!) I have been caught up making batch upon batch of paleo blueberry muffins usually with extra toasted almonds instead of walnuts, and turning to them nearly everyday for breakfast. This almond flour muffin is not a joke. They are so delicious and moist, and store well in the fridge for a few days which makes them convenient to make some night after dinner when I have time. So if I've been neglecting the savory on here for a bit, I want to make up for it now with a typical hearty weekday salad doable for lunch or dinner. Actually, we had them for a "linner" one day last week.

You'll roast a few varieties of vegetables, ideally rainbow colored : ) I had orange pepper, beets, and yellow squash. Then, garnish it with some herbs and greens with bite like arugula, and round it out with some fresh halved cherry tomatoes and avocado. I top it with some sliced chicken made the only way I'll make chicken breasts (without the flour-it actually is not necessary), and dollop some creamy yogurt-parsley dressing on top. I think there's a bit of feta and pickled onion nestled in there too, but that's it. I could have thrown a bunch more stuff into this but lately with salads I've been sticking to minimalism. Good things come in threes after all. Enjoy. 

Late Summer Roasted Vegetable Salad with Stovetop Chicken

For the Salad

About 2 cups your choice late summer veggies, sliced, mixed with olive oil and salt, and roasted at 425 degrees  for 20 minutes on baking sheets (except beets!) Roast those whole, in foil, for 1-2 hours, cool completely, peel and slice.

2 handfuls arugula + herbs

Additional sea salt, lemon juice and olive oil to taste

For the Chicken

2 organic chicken breasts cooked as per method linked to in body (without flour, just seasoning), slightly cooled and sliced.

Add ins: Pickled red onions, crumbled feta, avocado slices, fresh halved cherry tomatoes

For the Dressing
In a food processor combine:

1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt or sour cream
1 clove garlic
A few slices cucumber, peeled, no seeds (optional but cooling)
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste (start w/ 1/4 tsp salt)


Take a handful of greens/herbs, toss with just a tad salt, squeeze lemon and drizzle oil. Add in a handful or two of roasted veg, half the feta + avocado (if using beets add last so as not to turn the whole thing pink) and toss lightly. Add chicken breast and additional feta, onion, tomatoes + avocado. Top with dollops of the dressing and pinch coarse salt.

21 August 2013

Five Minute Peach Froyo

I sometimes get on these benders where I have to clean. It's not obsessive or scrubbing-related...I happen to hate cleaning products, sponges and deciding whether to throw out sponges or wash them in the dishwasher. It's more just..stuff. Vacuuming. Clearing. When that's set I feel more set. If life were exactly ideal I'd have a completely zengineered Japanese storage system with a hidden place for everything utilizing height and width. For now all I can say is we try, and we don't do too bad. It's a summer thing too, because cleaning makes you realize you are really hot, but clean spaces feel so good in summer, not like winter when you can deal with a little bundled coziness and papers and books and unfolded sweaters hanging around. But summer. Equals Ease. This is something I have to remind myself of more frequently.

I've been making this frozen yogurt. It's kind of ridiculous. No, it doesn't involve a maker, churning or frequent stirring, or much yogurt for that matter. It has no sugar, just a little honey. Although it takes 5 minutes to decide you want it and execute it, you do have to have done a step in advance: have chopped frozen peaches on hand (or I suspect any fruit would work but peach is especially dreamy as now is the time of the Peach). This is key. Grab those peaches from the farmer's market, Now, chop and skin them, freeze on a parchment-lined baking sheet for an hour, then transfer to a freezer bag. You can have this froyo at your service then. I will say that I suspect this recipe works best with peaches that haven't been frozen for super long (it is easier on your food processor, too). If they are really frozen or you want to freeze peaches now and do this in December (but I consider that loaf bread season central) I suspect a just letting them soften a bit would work. Enough about frozen things.

5-minute 5 Ingredient Summer Peach Froyo

Serves One or Two if you're nice...or just double it

1 cup frozen chopped peaches
1 T honey
1 T lemon juice
1/8 t vanilla
2 Tablespoons full fat yogurt (I used a T each Greek and regular)
Pinch chopped toasted sliced almonds (optional)

Place honey, yogurt, vanilla and lemon in a small bowl and stir together. Place peaches in food processor and pluse a few times to break them down. Start pulsing a little longer, then pour in wet ingredients. Blend until peaches are broken down into a soft serve consistency and all yogurt is incorporated. If things got a little warm, place bowl of processor in freezer or transfer to a container before scooping if it needs to firm up more. Scoop!

19 August 2013


What's sweet, salty, peanut-y, chocolaty and caramelly all at once and doesn't need to be baked? These amazing little two-bite "snicks." Because they are like Snickers. Except not really nougat-y. Except yes, very similar! Except, way more healthy and free of preservatives and actually satisfying (look at those whole peanuts). Snicks, like Bit Coins, are simply a muffin tin-ized form of Bark (chocolate bark, that is). They are meant to be made when you've got nuts and baking chocolate in the house and didn't buy a Chocolove or Theo bar from the store.

And yet, the fact that I've been resorting to making Snicks lately and continually "forgetting" to buy bars when I could easily do so at the market across the street, compelled me to share these with you. 

I've been making these two different ways and have varied the ways within the ways a bit too in terms of size and amount, and I'm happy to say it's pretty freestyle in that regard. It all just depends on preference but the formula is the same. Firstly let me say that the mini muffin tin is a really great tool here. Being the one nonstick baking item I own, they release the set snicks rather easily. Also, it helps set and shape them. You could, of course make snickers "bark" on a parchment-lined sheet pan, or if you have candy molds, use those. But I like the muffin tin size and shape and facility for layering.

The first way I made these incorporated milk jam. I liked that a lot and it was a great way to use up the last two spoonfuls. The peanuts get stirred into some milk jam and nestled between two layers of melted chocolate (that's in the pictures here). They set up fine after some time in the freezer and/or fridge. You do of course, for this method, need to have made a batch of milk jam (which I highly suggest you do!)

But in all fairness, I said the point of these are the quickness. So if you do not have milk jam on hand or don't want to make it just for this, resort to this second method which I like equally well and have repeated several times. No corn syrup necessary. Honey and butter (see recipe for proportions) are simply heated to bubbling, peanuts, salt and vanilla stirred in off the heat, and the mixture is scooped into the tins, chilled a bit, then melted chocolate is poured atop, along with a sprinkle of coarse salt and it's chilled again. That's it.

You can store them in the fridge once they're set. Enjoy!


Note: Below is the stovetop method. If using milk jam, simply mix the peanuts with the jam and use that as the filling instead. The yield and setting time will depend on how big/thick you make your snicks. Quantity below fills at least 4 mini muffin wells, more if you are more scant in your filling of the tins! Try it both ways : )

2-4 squares Bittersweet or Semi-sweet baking chocolate (I used this.)
2 slightly heaping Tablespoons dry roasted peanuts
Pinch sea salt
1/8 t vanilla
1/8 t coconut oil (optional but helps with emulsion) 
1 slightly heaping Tablespoon honey
1/2-1 teaspoon butter
Coarse salt

Start by making the peanut filling. On the stovetop under a medium-low flame, melt butter, honey, vanilla salt, until bubbling and getting a shade darker-it only takes a moment. Take it off the heat, stir in the peanuts. Set aside to cool a moment. Now take your muffin tin and evenly distribute the peanut mixture, pressing down with the back of a tablespoon or pinching if needed to stick together. Place in the freezer for a bit- maybe 10 minutes. You just want it set and cooled. Take it out of the freezer while you melt chocolate. Over a double boiler, melt chocolate and coconut oil, take off the heat and stir, cool for a second, then drip evenly atop the peanut mix in the wells. Pinch on a few grains coarse salt. Shake the pan a bit to even the chocolate batter in each well. Return to the freezer. I like to keep it in there for maybe 15 minutes, then move it to the fridge to harden further. After about an hour or so, release them from the pan and store in a container in the fridge.

17 August 2013

Paleo Blueberry Scones

I wouldn't post a gluten/grain-free scone on a not specifically gluten/grain-free blog if I didn't think it was worth noting. There are several baked non-GF goods on here I like very much. But as I've said in the last few posts, I'm experimenting with almond flour at the moment for my boyfriend's paleo trial, and having some successful results. It was just last week that I posted an almond-flour scone with chopped chocolate that while not the same texturally as a flour scone, stands up by itself as something to talk about. Now with blueberry season coming to its close, I can't help but throw those berries into muffins (If you are looking for a great blueberry almond flour muffin click here) and scones. This is basically the same recipe as last week's scone, modified just a tad. I used blueberries and lemon zest for the additions instead of cinnamon and dark chocolate, and subbed lemon juice for the apple cider vinegar.

What emerged was a lightly crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside scone scattered with berries and kissed with lemon. We spread strawberry jam and a little butter on them. A few baking notes: subbing the cider vinegar with lemon juice was actually because I had no cider vinegar left. I had a feeling it would have the same effect acid-wise, and it did. What I'm most impressed with though is the workability of this dough, thanks to the cold butter, tested proportions (again, thanks to Nom) and proper acidity and leavening to make them rise. If you mix just enough and chill it here and there through the process (up to you but that's how I roll with scones), you have a very cooperative dough that should not be too sticky. The bottom line is, even if they're made of almond flour, I want my scones and muffins to rise as their stately selves. Have a great weekend everyone. I'll catch up with something savory next week! xo MN

Paleo Lemon Blueberry Scones

Adapted from Nom Nom Paleo. Makes 4 scones

1 1/2 cups Blanched Almond Flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons butter (frozen overnight, grated on a box grater)
1 large organic egg
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 c fresh blueberries (I don't recommend using more)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, zest. Grate in your frozen butter, toss with your fingers a bit and work it in just a touch by rubbing (but having grated it allows you to do less of that). Set the bowl in the freezer.

In a small bowl, combine egg, honey, vanilla, lemon juice and mix very well. Set that in the freezer for a second too while you line a sheet pan with parchment, set it aside.

Add half the blueberries and mix a tad. Make a well in the center of the dry bowl, pour in the wet slowly while working from the outside to the center, moistening the dough with your fingers. Throw in the rest of the berries and mix with your hand until a nice chunky dough forms that holds together. Don't spend too long on this.

Dump it onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use a bench scraper to push the sides of the dough in to form a rectangle and the heel of your hand to flatten a bit into a rectangle. Now fold it in half over itself. Repeat, flatten, fold. If things get sticky, use plastic on top of the dough as well as a barrier between your hand and the dough. Shape into a rectangle again 3/4 inch thick, then place in freezer for a few moments (I cleaned out my bowls during this time : )) Now place the dough on the parchment, cut into four equal slices. If you want you can put the tray into the freezer again. I did so for just a minute.

Bake in the oven 22-25 minutes. They should be brown on top and bottom, have risen a bit and a toothpick should come out clean. Cool a few minutes on the tray, then a few more minutes on a wire rack. Enjoy split with a bit of spread or jam/butter (they are just lightly sweet on their own)

14 August 2013

Bran Muffins

It's beautiful over here in the NJ/NYC area today. A hint of chill and a light breeze signifying my favorite month's impending appearance: September. Perhaps it is the muscle memories of school starting, and time off wrapping up, the butterflies that signal beginnings, or simply the cooler weather, but this time of year always strikes me as energizing and bringing forth newness. It's no coincidence that it's around this time when I met Ed four years ago.

There are little girls riding a Barbie car in the driveway visible from my bedroom window right now. Their father is playing a guitar on their back doorstep while they fight over petty trifles at 10 am. These sounds fill my morning with little blurts of entertainment during the work-from-home hours while not thankfully being too distracting. That, and the cool breeze has set me into a nice lull that carries through the day. And with the mornings not being as sweltering this week, I've found myself forgoing my favorite yogurt, granola, honey and heap of farm berries bowl for a warm cup of joe and toasted morning muffin. Simple as can be, yet fulfilling. I just have to share it with you.

I already posted a delicious bran muffin recipe on here a few months ago that I've repeatedly made and even given to relatives. They are moist and delicious and hold up well over a few days (which makes them good giveaways). Butter and sour cream is what makes them shine. I love those and plan to keep them in my arsenal but I had also heard great things about the La Brea Bakery bran muffins from Nancy Silverton, where she toasts the bran before mixing it into the batter and purees the raisins for extra moisture. She also does a few other fancy things involving orange juice and separating eggs while omitting molasses. I only skimmed the recipe once online before bookmarking it and promising to return to it when I wanted to use up the last cup of miller's bran in my freezer and felt like fussing a bit. Then the almond flour arrived at my doorstep and my attention went there.

But in the meantime, I had stumbled upon Seattle-area Chef Greg Atkinson's rendition on Nancy's bran muffins, which seemed a bit more streamlined in ingredients. He discussed how he used her process but fiddled a bit and eliminated some particulars so I didn't have to. Well that was enough to remind me it was time to make them. It felt like I was on the same page as Greg, so on Sunday morning, after making another batch of these, (Ed goes through them quite fast so after having one, I made use of the uncleaned muffin tin) I dove into Greg's recipe--so that I could have a little box of muffins for me the week.

Greg added the molasses back into the Nancy-adaptation. But what was new to me was the raisin puree. I was interested in this different kind of way to make the muffins moist- rather than relying on sour cream and butter, raisin puree and oil would donate the moisture. And so these muffins are technically dairy-free with just a tad of egg. I also resisted the temptation to add nuts. I think they stand alone best as they are, and are a palate for any fruit jam. I go for apricot or strawberry as I think it compliments the raisin flavor. 

Greg noted that he dislikes bran muffins wherein chunks of raisins are surrounded awkwardly by muffin crumbs on the inside of the muffin. I stepped back a second, smiled and thought, hm, is that picky or true? I think I could take it either way, but perhaps it would be nice to have a smooth inside for a change and see how that affects texture. He was right!

These bran muffins are delicious. They are branny (the proportion of bran to flour is greater) and breakfasty, and even a bit rich while still being a somewhat blank slate for a nice swipe of jam and a quite healthy start to the day. Just one of them packs a nice dose of heartiness and not too much sweetness, and alongside some juice and coffee, spread with a hint of butter and strawberry jam, keeps me full all morning.

Greg Atkinson's Molasses and Raisin Bran Muffins
Makes 6 generous muffins

Greg's Note: Simmering the raisins in water then puréeing them in the food processor provides a rich, satisfying foundation that elevates these bran muffins above the commonplace. They are crisp on the surface, light and sweet on the inside.

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup grapeseed/olive oil mix (about half of each)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 a large egg (whisk and dole out about 3 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup wheat bran*

1. Brush muffin tins with a bit of oil or butter, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the raisins and water. When the water begins to boil, reduce heat to low and let the raisins simmer until they are plumped and soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer the raisins and their cooking liquid to the work bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture becomes a rough purée. (Note, I left this to cool for a few minutes before the next step)

3. Stream the oil, the sugar, the molasses and the egg into the food processor along with the puree.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then stir in the wheat bran. Add the raisin mixture to the dry mix, and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.

4. Distribute the batter evenly in the prepared muffin cups and bake until the muffins are browned on top and springy to the touch, about 20-22 minutes.

5. Cool the muffins on a rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. Note: these can be stored overnight a few days wrapped in plastic or frozen.

*I used Bob's. I also toasted it, spread on a sheet pan for just 5 minutes or so before using.

10 August 2013

Paleo Scones (with Dark Chocolate)

Let me back up a second and offer a bit of explanation as to why the past few baked good recipes on here have been designated "Paleo." No- I'm not turning into a cavewoman and I'm not suddenly against grain. But I'm sure you're wondering why,  just a few months after I posted super flaky, floury currant scones on here and rye tart dough a few weeks ago, almond flour has been dominating the baked goods on here the past two posts.

It's because of love...
It's because of a guy...
Isn't it always? 

My boyfriend has been experimenting with a predominantly grain-free, low sugar diet the past few weeks to address gut flora balance and inflammation through diet. While many come to the Paleo and Specific Carbohydrate diets through fitness inclination alone, many use it as a means to heal intestinal and internal medical problems without medicine. It isn't clear whether gluten intolerance or allergies contribute to these issues but many find symptomatic relief through starving the yeast in the gut by avoiding ingesting it. It does seem to calm things down, and it's not so radical when you think about it.

On the non-sweet front lately, we've been having a lot of fish, eggs, veggies, some fruit, chicken, lentils, yogurt, nuts, seeds and good cheeses. Ed also eats red meat but I don't. Thankfully, this wasn't a huge change for either of us to commit to as I've never been quite into the bread basket, but find small doses of grain to be good for me. Thanks to a great many other blogs out there like Roost, Comfy Belly, Tasty Yummies, Elana's Pantry and Nom Nom Paleo, from where these scones were inspired, I am happy to say that I am on board to experiment as a baker and turn out some tasty treats. Have no fear, I'm still a sucker for a good bran muffin, (in fact I'm planning to post another one soon) but I'm pretty impressed with how almond flour fares in the mix so far. So, by all means, if you're up for a change or Paleo and craving a good scone that that rises and tastes delicious, read on and give these a go.

Scones. Where to start. I'd say this year I finessed a good wheat flour scone and now I had given myself the challenge to use no wheat or grains at all and still turn out something worth it. So, from a baking-nerd perspective, I spent the day before I made these doing a bit of net-surfing and struggled to lift myself out of a deep Pinterest hole, before deciding on a recipe, and then spent morning after I made them, quite curious. I was pleasantly surprised. You'd think, with no flour or gluten, that a scone would fall apart. But this is where technique comes in. Yes, ingredients matter but when you're working with grain/gluten free flours, you still have to employ technique. And what it came down to here, was using the same technique I'd use in a regular scone. Not melted butter or oil, but very cold (frozen and grated) grass-fed butter. And I thank Nom Nom Paleo for that tip.While I was too preoccupied to take photos during the mixing process, Nom has some of the dough coming together if you're interested.

I made a few changes to Nom's recipe but not anything major. I skipped the dried cherries and just used (a little less) chopped dark chocolate. I added a pinch of cinnamon and I halved it. That's it. The dough comes together like this: Almond flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon are mixed. Frozen butter grated in and tossed a bit. An egg, some honey and apple cider vinegar are mixed and poured in, the two are combined and the chocolate is thrown in. At this point I employed a bit of flattening and stacking of the dough in the shaping process and threw them in the freezer for 5 minutes before baking them off which gives them height like I would a flour scone. It's important as always to cool them for about ten good minutes before digging in. They are ever so slightly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. And yes, once split, we spread milk jam on these. I'll be making them again.

Paleo Almond Flour Scones with Dark Chocolate

Adapted from Nom Nom Paleo. Makes 4 scones

1 1/2 cups Blanched Almond Flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter (frozen overnight, grated on a box grater)
1 large organic egg
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce chopped good dark chocolate (note: I chopped the night before and kept in fridge so it stayed solid as it's hot here)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon. Grate in your frozen butter, toss with your fingers a bit and work it in just a touch by rubbing (but having grated it allows you to do less of that). Set the bowl in the freezer.

In a small bowl, combine egg, honey, vanilla, vinegar and mix very well. Set that in the freezer for a second too while you line a sheet pan with parchment, set it aside.

Make a well in the center of the dry bowl, pour in the wet slowly while working from the outside to the center, moistening the dough with your fingers. Throw in the chocolate, and mix with your hand until a nice chunky dough forms that holds together. Don't spend too long on this.

Dump it onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use a bench scraper to push the sides of the dough in to form a rectangle and the heel of your hand to flatten a bit. Now cut it in half and stack one piece on top of the other. Repeat. If things get sticky, use plastic on top of the dough as well. Shape into a rectangle again 3/4 inch thick, then place in freezer for a few moments (I cleaned out my bowls during this time : )) Now place the dough on the parchment, cut into four equal slices. If you want you can put the tray into the freezer again. I did so for just a minute.

Bake in the oven 20-25 minutes. They should be brown on top and bottom, have risen a bit and a toothpick should come out clean. Cool a few minutes on the tray, then a few more minutes on a wire rack. Enjoy split with a bit of spread or jam/butter (they are just lightly sweet on their own)

08 August 2013

Linkage + Minimalist Dulce De Leche

Oh, hello. Can you believe it's August already?  There's been a lot on the table lately (see above), namely ripe cantaloupe I prefer to scoop with a cookie scoop. I'm just finishing up the Pollan book and after being fascinated by the fermenting chapter, I took a stab at some saurkraut on Saturday. I'm looking at it right now. It's a few days old, resting, slightly hidden on the floor in the corner as I continually try and find the coolest place for it in the apartment. Supposedly... it's alive! I am anxious to try it at the end of the week. A few things to link to today, and then I'm going to share my new favorite way to use up two cups of milk.

This list should be handy for travelers!
This of course. For the ladies. Well, and the guys too.
I made Heidi's Gin-Marinated Olives (below) last night and LOVED them. What a nice use for the Junipero Gin in our apartment which, with the exception of me making pomegranate gin sparklers on New Years Eve doesn't really get much swigging on a regular basis : ) The Castelvetrano olives combined with the lemon peel, gin and garlic are heavenly when warm. At the end of the short trip to the oven, you toss in cubed feta which softens delectably when nestled in with the warm olive mixture. A super summer side that should be on everyone's list.

The other day I realized I had to use up milk. There was at least 2 or maybe three cups in the bottle and in just a few days I knew it would turn. I thought of what to do. Bechamel? Too hot and heavy right now. Caramel? I don't know where to start and probably need cream not milk, and I don't stock corn syrup. But luckliy, thanks to Tartelette I have discovered the wonders of milk jam, a dulce de leche relative that is just a bit simpler to make. All you need is milk, sugar, a pinch baking soda, vanilla and salt if you wish, a heavy pot and, well, a little time some afternoon to stir and walk away from and then back toward, the pot. What you get at the end is a spreadable caramely jam. It keeps for several days in the fridge and takes well to being spread on a brownie.

Kitchen Alchemy. Directions for Milk Jam can be found on Tartelette's blog. See you soon with a new recipe using the jam unless these summer tomatoes possess me first! xo MN

03 August 2013

Paleo Blueberry Muffins

I'm newish to the flourless baking terrain, but it seems to me there's a bit of disparity on how to make a grainless muffin. Do a simple Pinterest search on "paleo blueberry muffins" (and do pin this one while you're at it, if you're into it--I think you will be!) and you'll see a staggering range of results. Some recipes with lots of eggs, some with coconut flour, some with tapioca starch, etc, etc. But in the end, I'm failing to understand why it needs to be complicated. I am all about getting the best result from a strategic and short, good-quality ingredient list. And I don't want to use up all my eggs in a simple muffin recipe. Did you know that using too many eggs also can cause issues with rising? Another reason to stick to simple/traditional measurements. Across the board for almond flour muffins, After trying these based off of the ratios on the wonderful blog Tasty Yummies (I changed out cherries for blueberries/walnuts), I've come to intuit the most successful results stem from a 1 to 1 ratio of flour to egg, with honey and a liquid fat as the moisturizers. Baking soda is typically all that's needed for leavening. We're into keeping it simple, and we're into these.

An almond flour, honey and olive oil batter is smacked with lemon zest, a pinch cinnamon and a good dash of vanilla. Fresh blueberries and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts are folded in, just as you would make a normal muffin. Blanched almond flour is light and yet high in protein and nutrients. While not interchangeable with all purpose, it works in slightly similar ratios as a grain flour would. And yet its natural moistness lets you use less fat ratios than you normally would! I slipped in some walnuts because they are high in Omega 3 fats and blueberries are a superfood as is olive oil. That's why I combined them all for a delicious gluten-free breakfast bite. The muffins are baked and cooled split to reveal a nice, moist crumb. In humid weather, they keep best wrapped in the refrigerator (after being cooled). Yum.

 Paleo Blueberry-Walnut Muffins
Inspired by Tasty Yummies

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 farm eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil (I used about 75% olive and 25% grape)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup blueberries
2 T chopped toasted walnuts

Oven to 350 degrees.

Mix almond flour, salt, baking soda, zest and cinnamon in a large bowl, breaking up any clumps of flour with your fingers. Set aside.

Whisk eggs then add oil, honey and vanilla. Whisk well.

A bit at a time, add wet to dry, mixing carefully until just incorporated, then stir in berries and 3/4 of the nuts. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups. For me this yielded 7 normal sized muffins. Pinch the reserved nuts atop and bake for about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the tops are getting a little color.

Cool in the pan 5 long minutes, then release and cool completely on a wire rack.