Recently I noticed a new addition to the freeze dried foods selection at my local market: tangerines. While I enjoy fresh tangerines, they are rarely available where I live, and the texture of canned tangerines is a little slimy for my liking. Imagine my delight for this new storable tangerine option! Crisp and filled with air like a cheese puff, though incredibly light and flavorful, I immediately thought of making bittersweet and bright, dark chocolate snacks with these freeze dried fruits. Simple to do; the small tiger-striped bites melt in your mouth without the dense chewiness of dried fruit or over the saturated syrupy taste of a jelly. Fun for a party! Next I ground the remaining freeze dried tangerines in my coffee grinder to add an unexpected citrus twist atop dark chocolate chunk brownies. Make your favorite brownie recipe, bake, sprinkle with powdered sugar, then let the tangerine dust work it’s magic at the very last minute. The tangerine and dark chocolate air is an added bonus.
At the end of my rainbow at the moment are little pots of golden raisins. Usually I just eat them by the handful and add them to Cream of Rice hot cereal, but since a holiday is coming up, I currently have a batch of the little tart wrinkly white grapes soaking in a bath of bourbon. Today they have been busy plumping up and spiking up before being baked in a batch of Irish Oatmeal cookies for Saint Patrick’s Day. I also just liked how they were glowing in the sunshine yesterday. May the wind be at your back, dear friends.
Update: cookie success!
These cookies are not the prettiest. Or are they? At first glance they remind me of homemade purple Playdoh (which is always tempting to eat, though the grape smell unfortunately misguides the actually unsavory ball of pliable salt dough), but the more I look at them I see edible moon rocks. Maybe even robot food? They also seem prettier the more I eat them; soft, sweet butter cookies with a hint of blueberry flavor are perfect with a cup of afternoon tea.
Drawing from one of my favorites, The Minimalist and “Everything” guy Mr. Mark Bittman, I made a gluten free blueberry butter cookie recipe based on “One dough, endless cookies.” I love his approach: start with the basics, keep it pure, and create small change-ups for new big flavors. The basic recipe appears in a few of his cookbooks and also on his website here. The final intergalactic touch was a spray of Duff’s cake graffiti in metallic silver. In the future I plan to make this recipe in smaller scone-like bites, drizzled with a lemon glaze.
Gluten Free Blueberry Butter Cookies Adapted from Mark Bittman
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour (2 cups Bob’s Gluten Free Shortbread Mix)
1/4 cup blueberry powder (grind 1/2 cup freeze-dried blueberries)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk, plus more if needed.
1. Heat the oven to 375. Use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar; add the vanilla and egg and beat until well blended.
2. Combine the flour, blueberry powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add half the dry ingredients to the dough, beat for a moment, then add the milk. Beat for about 10 seconds, then add the remaining dry ingredients and a little more milk, if necessary, to make a soft dough.
3. Scoop onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes. Let cool.
From decorations and music to food and drink, I get all sorts of sentimental feelings during the holiday season. You may remember last year when I shared one of my favorite tree-gazing beverages, the pink snow float. This year I put together a more tart beverage with pink grapefruit and lime, more for tree-rocking and sushi eating than lazy lights gazing. Adjust the amounts based on your taste. Begin with pink grapefruit juice, add gin if you wish, then drop in sweet scoops of lime sherbet (I used my melon baller for the little glasses). Top off the drink with club soda or another fizzy liquid and watch the bright green bubbles grow to the top of your glass.
“Rocking around the Christmas tree, have a happy holiday! Everyone dancing merrily in the new old-fashioned way.”
I get giddy when people think of me when they discover a new recipe, so you can imagine my delight when my friend Jillian wrote to me about her experience in the kitchen making October Apple Cake. We agreed that the possibilities for variations on this recipe were ripe, and this is how the November Golden Pear Cake came to be.
I changed up the modest ingredient list to make my own perfectly sweet & gluten free autumnal cake with pears, substituting oat flour with rice flour and swapping out the chocolate chunks with cubes of buttery caramel. Can I describe a dessert cake as both delicate and hearty? I hope so, because this recipe seems to fit those descriptions, and when sliced in wedges, it radiates like the golden November sunshine.
Enjoy, serve, or gift the November Golden Pear Cake at any time of day. It’s amiable to eat with a fork and cup of tea at the breakfast table, as a handheld treat on a fall forest potluck picnic, or as appetizer pick-ed mini bites preceding a festive night’s cheese course. Happy Novembering.
1 cup rice flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
3 pears (I used D’Anjou)
optional: 1/2 cup caramel bits or 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Grease a pan with olive oil and dust with flour, set aside (I also lined the bottom with a circle of parchment paper).
2. In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs for 10 minutes.
4. Peel the pears and chop them into chunks. Chop up caramel or chocolate into chunks.
5. Add the brown sugar and olive oil to the fluffy, fluffy eggs and continue to whip for another minute. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until combined.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then nestle the pear and caramel chunks until they are nice and snug in the batter.
7. Bake for about an hour, then if you can stand the wait, let it cool. Turn out the cake onto a plate and serve hot with drizzled caramel and sprinkled with sea salt, or cold with freshly whipped vanilla cream on top.
It’s getting to be sweater weather around here, and though I don’t knit, I do keep this colorful variegated yarn on hand called “schoolyard.” The colors in this yarn remind me of a basic box of Crayolas, and I like to use it for tying up brown paper packages and cellophane bags of goodies. The other day I brought it into the kitchen and used it to cozy up some naked lolli sticks for this year’s festive candied apples.
Last year I bookmarked this Brooklyn Brew Shop recipe on The Mash and thought it was prime time to try it for myself and cozy up some bare apples! I followed the outlined recipe with the exceptions of subbing light brown sugar I had in the cupboard for the dark brown sugar and the always cozy double chocolate stout (stout = “porter on steroids” as once described by a beer shop guy) for the maple chocolate porter listed. I had difficulty actually biting into the candied apple, so I ended up slicing the apples and serving them that way. The look of the toffee is sinister and the flavor is slightly sweet with hints roasted coffee. I think I will make another batch of toffee and form a few porter candy spiderweb toppers for the weekend (cinnamon/molasses gelato sundaes, anyone?).
To make your own sweatery sticks, glue the beginning of the yarn at one end of the stick with a dot of liquid glue and overlap to cover the glued piece. Continue wrapping the stick with yarn to desired length and secure the end with another dot of liquid glue.
Monkey bread for all seasons is what I’m talking about. And while we’re at it, let’s add a few extra food groups to the mix and make them in individual servings. Of course you can make your own bread dough, but I went the quick route and used canned biscuits. I find it most satisfying to cut through the buttery biscuit dough with kitchen shears.
Once the dough is divided, coat the pieces generously in cinnamon and sugar (shake ‘em in a bag!). Chunk up a few apples (I used Gala this time) and break apart baked bacon pieces. Load up the popover tins in layers of cinnamon sugar dough, apples, and bacon, then spoon about 2 teaspoons of melted butter and brown sugar over the tops. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350-degrees. These monkey bread packages are most delicious straight from the oven.
The flavors were inspired by one of my favorite autumn meal pairings of pork barbecue sandwiches and cinnamon apple cobbler. The little bakers twine bow and parchment paper package was inspired by these brown paper (CAKE) packages tied up with string. Happy Fall, All!
For the party we had for my folks last week, we wanted to send our guests home with something cozy and fallish. What says that more than a pouch of fragrant mulling spices nestled inside of a fabric apple? My sister sewed the apples while my niece and I measured out spices into cheesecloth pouches (the apple template came from a Gooseberry Patch Christmas book). We finished them off by tucking in a recipe for spiced cider and a cinnamon stick for the stem. After the spices are used, the apple pouch can be stuffed with anything and tied up for decoration. I don’t know about you, but I could smell some mulled cider or wine everyday for the next four months.
Over the weekend I bought a whopper of a watermelon from a nearby farmer for four bucks. I thought it looked like a cucumber on steroids, as it must have been over twice the size of my melon (head)! The farmer’s son offered to carry it to my car, but I figured a little melon-style weight lifting would be good for me (no, I did not do squats but merely an isometric bicep exercise for a few blocks).
I strapped the melon in the backseat of my car and continued the morning’s shopping. As luck would have it, I found a small set of French knives on the clearance table at Williams-Sonoma and snatched them up as well. I would be embarrassed to show anyone the knife I used on a daily basis for food prep. Let’s just say that I am lucky to have all digits intact.
Left alone with that melon, a cutting board, and my new upgraded tools, I was a happy and well-hydrated sweet chopping fool. I didn’t know how glorious it could be to cut things with proper knives (in infomercial voice, “it was a breeze!”). Juicy red chunks for snacks and smoothies, circle and straw cut-outs to freeze as flavorful ice cubes, and the (often sadly discarded) rind to put in a pie, a strawberry-watermelon rind custard pie. The slight rue on the edges of the pale rind visually reminded me of rhubarb, so I treated it as such, following my grandma’s rhubarb custard pie recipe, using rind in place of rhubarb and adding some chopped strawberries to the mix of watermelon rind, nutmeg, and eggy custard, mmmmm.
Currently finishing the last slice of pie with some cold milk and drying the dark green skin of the watermelon in the 80-degree sun. Soon it will be pulverized to a powder state and used as a colorant in some handmade paper for another small project of mine. Whoppermelon, you obliged me well.
Here’s another recipe where the measurements are up to you. Ingredients: fresh peaches, brown sugar, wonton wrappers, butter, and whiskey. Once the peaches are sliced (or diced), sprinkle them with brown sugar (I used smoked demerara sugar, but brown sugar is also good). Place the peach mix on top of wonton wrappers. Fold over and pinch edges together using water or egg white as adhesive. Fry one minute on each side in hot oil. Drain and cover with powdered sugar or browned butter whiskey sauce. To make the sauce, brown some butter on the stovetop, then whisk in some whiskey and brown sugar. Cook till it reduces to a near caramel state and pour over tops of fried peach wontons. Voilà: crunchy dough, spiked glaze, sweet steam, and warm August peaches, intersecting in one juicy wonton bite.