Thursday, June 5, 2014

Gluten-free Shortbread Cookies

New experiment! I found a recipe here that looked worth trying, but couldn't resist tweaking it by adding in some almond butter. Since I was a little skeptical, I planned to make a 1/3 batch. In fact, I added the butter as if it were a 1/3 batch. And just realized that I only halved the rest of it... I should know better than to not write it all down! So now I understand why I had to add more moisture.

I also was skeptical of the cook temp/time. She says 300º for 20-30 minutes, but that surprised me. Since we had lasagna in the oven at the same time, I did half of them at the typical 350º for 20 minutes, and the other half at 300º for 25 minutes.

And good news! They turned out! The temperature really didn't seem to matter and there wasn't even a coffee flavor from my chosen milk substitute. In my opinion, they were VERY dry. Too dry. I guess because of all of the corn starch, so if I experiment again I will be sure not to use such a starchy recipe. They might be good with tea or coffee, I'll try that tomorrow.

Here's what I did in full batch amounts, in case you are feeling adventurous, too:

Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies
Makes 32 cookies. 10 minutes to blend, 60 to chill, 20 to cook

1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup brown rice flour (you can make your own!)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
6 Tbs butter, room temperature
2 Tbs almond butter
3 Tbs milk/replacement (approximate! I used a protein-enriched coffee dairy drink)

1. Sift together the cornstarch, rice flour and powdered sugar.
2. Cut in the butter and almond butter with a pastry blender (or knife and fork, that's what I had) at first, then mix with a big fork or a spoon.
3. Add in liquid about  teaspoon at a time and stir well between additions. You want JUST enough liquid to make it stick together.
4. Make a 'log' of cookie dough down the center of a piece of plastic wrap and roll up. Chill for AT LEAST an hour. These don't get as firm as typical shortbread cookies because of the lower butter content. They are a bit lower in fat, though!
5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Parchment paper makes them easier to remove from the pan.
6. Let cool at least 10 minutes and enjoy!

Nutrition info per 3 cookies: 116 Calories, 5.8g Fat, 15.4g Carbs, 1.3g protein

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The bounty of the CSA!

When I was in Morocco I ate loads of really fresh, really local produce. Local produce is cheaper and better quality there, so there is no good reason to go to the grocery store and pay more for an inferior product. Unless you really don't feel like talking to someone that day, then it's understandable. Or you can skip the produce all together.

I missed all of that deliciousness after I got home and decided to seriously splurge on food: I got a CSA subscription. Ours delivers for only $3 extra per box, which is totally worth it to forgetful me and Mr. More Calories. I love opening the box and seeing what I am going to try to incorporate into our meals. Sometimes I really don't know and I give stuff away. It's super fun to me! So this week I cleaned off the counter and laid out our beautiful bounty before using any of it.

Mr. More Calories accused me of using too much flash. I pointed out that it is NOT flash, it's the reflection of our lights!

If you're curious, starting in the top row we have:
"Summer mix" squash (I like the fun green-tipped yellow ones!)
(Row Two:) Slicing cucumber, green beans, rainbow chard
(Row Three:) Leeks, banana peppers, orange and red carrots, flat parsley.

Actually, I should go throw some of that parsley into the lasagna MMC is making...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Baba a l'orange - Or an easy, fancy-seeming French dessert

Last week I was watching a French competition show, "Who will be the next great pastry chef." I *love* it, it's a Top Chef kind of set up, with 15 or so people competing to be a master chef. I forget what the prize is, they don't repeat it ten trillion times. I happen to like the French version better because each episode is 2.5 hours, giving them time to really describe what's going on. They are also much less bitchy and dramatic, which is a nice change. With YouTube's 'watch later' function, I can easily pause when I have to do Real Things and then come back when I have time again.

The classic of this is Baba au rhum, which is a cake that is allowed to sponge up a rum and simple syrup mixture. And I didn't have any rum. I like it well enough, but apparently I am more likely to buy tequila and vodka. Luckily, I also had orange liqueur, purchased to go with that tequila in a delicious margarita. Ah, summer!

This is a good dessert to make because it's simple, yet impressive-sounding. Plus the alcohol is added to a syrup that the cake is soaked in once everything is a bit cool, leaving it very noticeable! You could also use maple syrup if you prefer, I just wouldn't use so much. Oooooh, or coffee! Or coffee with kahlua and Bailey's.... I may need to make this again next week.

It was very simple to make, but at stages it was very surprising, too. The 'dough' at one point looked like Gak - that stretchy putty/clay stuff they sold on Nickelodeon when I was a kid. But it turned out delicious, so do not worry! Check out the original in the book for how to make it in a stand mixer, I used a hand mixer and detail that below.

Baba à l'orange (based on Dorie Greenspan's "Paris Sweets" recipe)
Makes 12 mini cakes     Bake time: 30 minutes      Prep time: 30 minutes    Wait time:  30 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes or less

1/3 cup water, room temperature
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

- Butter a 12-muffin muffin tin and set it aside. Melt butter and allow to cool while you do the next few steps.
- Stir water, yeast and sugar together in a deep bowl, that is unlikely to let things be 'thrown' by your mixer. (I ended up with dough all over!) Once the yeast is dissolved, add the flour and salt. Use the dough attachments to beat on medium low for two minutes, until the ingredients look like they are holding together more than falling apart. Mine varied in size from peas to tablespoons.
- Switch to the regular beater attachments. Add two eggs and beat on low for 3 minutes. Add the other two eggs and beat on low until they are incorporated, and turn up to medium for as long as you can. The dough was really climbing my beaters at this point, so even with pushing it down it only lasted about 1 1/2 minutes.
- Add the cooled butter and beat for as long as you can stand, up to five minutes. I probably lasted 1 minute here because the dough climbed the beaters almost into the motor!

This is when the dough was gak-like. The picture below is not an action shot, it really held together like that! It was hard to even separate some to put into the tin.

- Divide the gak 'batter' among the muffin tins, which will be 1/3-1/2 full. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 25-30 minutes.
- When almost risen, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
- Uncover the tin, and place in the oven. Prop the oven door open with a then wooden spatula or other heat-proof utensil. Bake for 23-28 minutes, or until golden brown. (Make the booze syrup while they bake!)
- When done, place tin on cooling rack. Let cool in tin for 5 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.

1 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur (Make sure you like the way it tastes! I used good stuff) (Of course, you could replace this with a lower amount of any flavoring you like.)

- Bring the water and sugar to a low boil in a saucepan. Pour the syrup into a deep bowl and allow to cool until just before you want to soak the cakes. The deep bowl is important to make soaking the cakes easier.
- Right before soaking, add the liqueur to the syrup and stir well.

To soak:
- Poke each cake 5-10 times with a toothpick, to help it absorb the syrup.
- Put each cake into the syrup and flip a few times, letting soak for about a minute each.
- Repeat with all of the cakes. If there is any syrup left, spoon it over the top of them!

Extra syrup spooned over the top, in a pan to help it all stay in
That's it! You can fill them with whipped cream if you like, but we enjoyed them as-is. Mr. More Calories was surprised at how different they are from things he's had before. I admit that they were time consuming, but very easy!

Monday, April 7, 2014

However you want' em brownies!

I love the cocoa brownie recipe from Smitten Kitchen, most of all because it's so flexible. I've done loads of adjusting to this recipe for different reasons, but here's the way I made it tonight that has be excited again. The texture turned out pretty darn great - thick and fudgy - even though I used whey protein, which can make baked goods too cakey. I added some ground chia to combat that, since it absorbs water, and I think it worked!

However you want 'em cocoa brownies
Serves 16-25

1/4 c brewed coffee
5 T butter, melted
5 T applesauce (or yogurt, mashed banana, or pumpkin - each gives a slightly different texture and flavor)
3/4 plus 2 T cocoa
1/4 t salt
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c honey
2 T chia seeds, ground
2 eggs
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder (27-30g)
3 T white whole wheat flour

Pre-heat oven to 325º F. Grease 8x8 pan
Melt butter. Grind chia seeds (in blender or coffee grinder). Mix first 8 ingredients (to chia.)
Add eggs, blend.
Add whey protein and flour and mix JUST until combined.
Bake at 325ºF for 35 (30-40) minutes until a toothpick inserted center keeps the brownie color, but doesn't look wet.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Chocolate Beet Brownies with extra protein!

Since I mostly put these up for me (notice there aren't any ads?) and I'm spending way too much time in front of a computer lately, I figured that I will put things up without pretty writing around it.

Goal: Treats that are food, not sugar and empty calories. More 'real' food and protein here.
Ingredients to use: Beets and chocolate

Inspiration recipes:

Chocolate Beet Brownies (cakey!)
Serves: 12-16

130g beets (3 small beets, about 1.5 cups of my shred)
1/2c unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
2T olive oil
1/4 c maple syrup
2 scoops (54 g) vanilla whey protein
1/2c cocoa
1/2t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/4c white whole wheat flour
1/4 c mini chocolate chips

1. Grate the beets. Mine were finely grated. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a baking pan (8x8, 9x9 or 11x7 should all work)
2. Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
4. Add dry to wet, mix to combine.
5. Bake at 350 for 25 min (or til toothpick is clean!)

Nutrition facts for bar 1/12th of recipe: Cal - 97     Fat - 4.2g      Carbs - 11.7g     Protein - 5.5g