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Puffy Pumpkin Pinwheels

23 Nov

Do you need an appetizer in a pinch? These will get gobbled up at any Thanksgiving gathering! Slice them frozen and bake them off at the party or make just as you are heading out so they stay warm, best eaten warm.

Also for a cute and speedy floral arrangement, hollow out a mini pumpkin, line with foil. Add a few florets and there you have it!

1 can pumpkin purée
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened (fat-free or light is okay)
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed but still cold (see note)
2 Tbsp. all-purpose seasoning blend see below*
Salt and pepper, optional
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° F Line a cookie sheet with parchment or non stick foil.

In a medium bowl, stir together the pumpkin purée and cream cheese, set aside.

Unwrap puff pastry , if it comes rolled in parchment just un roll it on the parchment or place on a clean, lightly floured counter or work surface.

Spread pumpkin and cream cheese mixture over the puff pastry, leaving a half-inch margin on all sides.

Sprinkle seasoning blend evenly over the top.

Sprinkle with a small amount of salt.

Evenly sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.

Roll up the puff pastry in an as-tightly-wound cylinder (log) as possible.
Wrap log with plastic wrap and freeze until almost frozen.

Unwrap log with a very sharp knife slice the log into 12 equal-size pieces. Let thaw on cookies sheet until very cold but not totally frozen.

In a small bowl, lightly beat together the egg and water to create an egg-wash. Brush egg-wash over pastry slices, distribute evenly until it’s gone.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until puffs are golden, puffed, set and done.

Allow puffs to cool in pan for about 5 to 10 minutes before removing. Serve immediately.

*All purpose seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon black pepper

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Chocolate and Coconut Heaven (and almost healthy)

22 Mar

20140322-143037.jpgNews Flash, I love brownies. I really can’t get enough of the gooey chocolate deliciousness. We grew up on Betty Crocker boxed brownie mix.  Seriously, back then those were the bomb, all fudge with that extra fudge pack you’d add just in to really make sure thy were fudge-y enough. Times have changed and we try to stick to a healthier diet of wholesome ingredients so when I crave chocolate I scour the internet in search of the perfect treat. I stumbled upon Paleo Grub and a particular recipe by  jumped right out at me. Yes it is a brownie recipe and yes I made them twice in two days, and yes I ate most of them!

the cool thing about these is that they have no grain, the star of these is almond butter, who knew? They don’t taste like almonds and the texture is very brownie like. As good as these are I needed a bit of sweet on top so I went a step further, yes I did. The brownies were so delicious but I needed more, I was having a bad sweet tooth. I created this dairy free recipe for icing using the Kelapo Oil. It does have sugar so it is not entirely Paleo but you can create your own from this base recipe, go for it!

Recently I received a bunch of Kelapo Coconut oil and I’d been thinking of using it but hadn’t quite put my finger on anything. (lightbulb moment coming) Frosting for these healthy brownies, what a great way to test out the new coconut oil. We use a lot of coconut oil on our house from skin and hair moisturizer to sweet and savory recipes. The Kelapo oil is so coconut-y, it is very delicious and I can’t wait to use it again in another recipe.

All I can tell you is beware because this icing is way too easy to just eat by the spoonful!


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Dairy Free Coconut Icing

Makes approximately  1 1/2 cups

2 Tbs Kelapo Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil

2 Tbs room temperature Earth Balance or Butter (if you are not dairy free)

3 Tbs coconut butter

pinch salt

2 Tbs almond milk or milk (if you are not dairy free)

1 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar

 

Mix the butters and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until very smooth. Add sugar a half cup at a time mixing until smooth.

Use immediately. To store chill for up to a week. To use from refrigerator let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to soften and stir vigorously for easy spreading.

 

 

 

Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies

23 Dec

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I just started working on a Gingerbread cookbook and Kit, something I have always wanted to do.  I want to have a great alternative Gluten Free dough. This is one of my first attempts, it’s a modified version I have used in the past. I just love it. It works fantastically for cookies, they hold their shape. I haven’t tried a whole house from this dough yet but as for cookies it is perfect. I used Cup 4 Cup flour from Whole Foods it has xanthum gum added already.
Pair these with my delicious almond milk for an allergy free treat.

Gluten Free Gingerbread Dough

Combine the following dry ingredients in a bowl and set them aside:

2 1/4 cups All-Purpose gluten free flour (with xanthum gum added)
Or
2 1/4 cups All-Purpose gluten free flour plus a 1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum)
Or
(I used 1 1/4 cups Cup for Cup flour plus a pinch of xanthum gum)
1 cup cashew meal (Trader Joe’s now has cashew meal)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch salt

6 tbs butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add
softened butter and brown sugar in the bowl of your mixer beat on medium speed until
very light and fluffy.
Add egg, molasses and vanilla, and beat briefly on medium-low speed. You don’t want to incorporate too much air in them, they hold their shape better the less you beat them.
Add dry ingredients, mix until just incorporated

The dough will be soft but will firm up once it’s chilled. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and wrap them separately in plastic, then flatten each package into a disk for easier rolling. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight for best results.
When you’re ready to roll and cut the dough, remove it from the refrigerator and preheat your oven to 350°F.
Roll the dough about 1/4″ thick and use the gluten free flour to help the dough release. Choose the cutters and cut  your cookies, transfer to a foil or parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. They’ll firm up on the edges, but should still be soft in the middle. Cool completely before decorating.

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Gluten Free – Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Box Cake

11 Dec

betty

Last week I went to Florida to surprise my mom, I literally just flew across the US and walked into her house at 7 pm. She was shocked to say the least! We had a lovely time just doing nothing!

On the flight home I sat next to a really sweet gal named Camron, we started joking immediatly and I knew the long flight would be less dreadful than usual. We struck up a conversation about gluten because the snack packs on the flight were less than desirable for gluten low gals, especially for a person with Celiac. She let me know that she had been involved in the Betty Crocker® Gluten Free baking contest. I am always looking for Gluten Free items that are more mainstream that anyone can make, this one fits the bill. So if you are experimenting with gluten free, try this one! Thanks to my new friend Cameron for making the flight way more fun than it usually is!

GLUTEN FREE

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Box Cake

1 box Betty Crocker® Gluten Free chocolate chip cookie mix 1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla
1 egg

2 cups whipping cream
12 oz gluten-free mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa Chocolate shavings or miniature chocolate chips

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, mix cookie mix, butter, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and the egg until soft dough forms.
  2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets to make 36 cookies.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. In large bowl, beat whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar, cocoa and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form.
  5. To assemble cake, arrange 7 cookies in bottom of 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Break 1 additional cookie apart to fill in spaces. Spread 1 cup of the whipped cream mixture evenly over cookies. Arrange 7 more cookies over whipped cream layer; top with additional 1 cup whipped cream mixture. Repeat 3 more times with remaining cookies and whipped cream mixture. Spread the top smooth; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 12 hours.

         6. To serve, run a sharp knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove side of pan. Place cake on serving plate. Garnish with chocolate. Cut into wedges. Store covered in refrigerator.

Nutrition Information
Calories:370; Calories from Fat:210; Carbohydrate Choice:2 1/2; Cholesterol:75mg; Fat:4 1/2; Other Carbohydrate:1 1/2; Potassium:45mg; Sodium:220mg; Starch:1; Total Carbohydrate:38g; Total Fat:23g; Monounsaturated Fat:4 1/2g; Polyunsaturated Fat:1/2g; Protein:3g; Saturated Fat:14g; Sugars:25g; Trans Fat:1/2g; Fats & Oils:2tsp;

Artisan Bread at Home for Real!!

14 Feb

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Wondering where I have been? Wow, I can’t believe that it is a whole new year! I have been working on my new cookbook, writing articles, shooting other cookbooks with my husband and working in our

new Art Gallery!

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In most places in the Northern Hemisphere it’s winter, but here in Northern California it’s only “kind” of winter. We moan and groan about the 39 degree mornings but it warms up to 60 plus by noon. The sky is blue and the air is crisp, I imagine it’s what Spring feels like everywhere else. I know some of you are digging out, so we really have nothing to complain about, do we? I have been making stews, soups and slow cooked braised turkey and it’s time for a change.

I just felt like making bread, it is warm, comforting and I knew my family would love it! Half the joy of bread making is the smell of it baking, and this one smells really good!

I know some of you are saying to yourselves that you can’t make bread, but you can. Whenever I need to reference a recipe I have two places I go, The old tattered Joy of Cooking cookbook and America’s Test Kitchen. Sometimes I just need an idea on a measurement to a method and these two sources can be so helpful. This time I wanted a fast easy bread recipe so I went to AMT and there it was….easy bread.

My Dutch Oven needed a change from all the stew-y things it has been churning out! Bread, I never thought of making bread in it, I assumed it was meant to hold soup-y, sloppy, slow cooked meats….not bread. What flavors would you add to this bread? Lemon zest and rosemary was our plan but we got distracted and forgot.

Oh, let me tell you from now on it IS my bread oven, not my Dutch Oven. It turned out a gorgeous loaf of golden, crackl-y  artisan bread. So dust yours off and get out the flour because you are going to want to make this recipe.

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Really Really Good Bread Recipe (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

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The recipe calls for a mild lager but I used a medium/darker one. I liked the depth of the flavor a lot in the finished product.
The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface

1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

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2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside the empty bowl (no need to clean it between steps) and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined bowl and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

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3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

 

Chicken Little Hand Pies

22 Sep

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Chicken pot pie is not nearly as daunting a project as you may think. I know it sounds fussy with all that dough, sauce making, chicken cooking, chopping and so on. It is really just a matter of tossing everything in a pan and adding some kind of doughy top.  I got all excited one night while I was cooking some chicken and though these would be a prefect thing to make the next night for dinner.  Because I’d already cooked the chicken and would use the leftovers for the pies, it would be so easy. Then I remembered I don’t have those cute little pots that are  special for making individual chicken pot pie in. I have a million small dishes, but like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, none were just right, some were too small and some were too large. Then I thought who needs those stinkin’ mini pots anyway, I’ll make hand pies and then I won’t even have to wash forks after dinner because you eat these with your hands! Brilliant.

Then I realized that I had scheduled a very busy day the next day so… home-made pie dough wasn’t going to happen. Ok, I cheated, call me Semi Homemade (it’s ok I don’t mind, I know I can make pie dough if I really needed to) 

So I made the filling that evening after dinner and snuggled it right in the fridge for the next day. I was lucky enough to have some homemade chicken stock on hand. I was unlucky because I had a house of sick people, precisely why I had chicken stock.  The next day I had to grab some stuff at the store anyway so I tossed in a pre made pie dough, you can get fairly healthy ones at a natural market. You could use puff dough If you can’t find pie dough. I enlisted the help of my daughter in making these, she picked the size and shapes for the pies. We cut out the dough with cookie cutters, brushed them with egg, filled them and sealed them. Chilling the mixture makes easy work of filling the little pies when it’s time. We assembled them around 3 o’clock and put them back in the refrigerator until it was time to bake them before dinner. You could also freeze them raw for another day.  They baked up really pretty and were equally as tasty. You can try adding anything, make them vegetarian even, just use your creative genius. Serve alongside a colorful salad.

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Chicken Little Hand Pies

These little suckers stay very hot inside for a long time, be careful when serving little kids.

If using raw chicken, cut it up very small and add it after the broth, simmer until it is cooked through.

Tip: Slicing semi frozen chicken is easier than trying to slice raw chicken. Place your raw chicken in the freezer for 10 minutes and then slice away.

Adapted from Epicurious

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, quartered lengthwise and diced
1 small potato, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 celery rib, halved lengthwise and diced

1/4 cup thawed corn kernels

1/2 cup ounces cooked shredded chicken

Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme

Squeeze of lemon juice about a 1/2 tsp

2 unbaked pie crusts, either store-bought or homemade (not pie shells)
1 egg, beaten

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the carrot,potato and celery and season with salt and pepper to taste, raise the heat to medium-high. Cook until the vegetables are softened , add the corn and pre-cooked chicken.

Sprinkle the flour over everything in the pan, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the broth,  thyme and lemon juice,  and simmer for 5 minutes more or until thickened.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cool and refrigerate until cold, about to 30 minutes. Remove the pie crusts from the refrigerator so they can soften slightly.

When the filling is cool, preheat oven to 4oo°F  Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment.

Lay the crust out on a cutting board.   Use cookie cutter to cut as many shapes as you can. Re-roll the dough and cut more until you have no more crust left.

Place about 1 Tbs.  of filling in the center of dough, brush beaten egg around the outside of the crust,  then place another matching shape in top. Crimp the edges together with a fork, and prick the top a few times for steam to escape. Carefully transfer pie to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining pie crust and filling. Just before baking brush all the pies with egg wash.

Bake until golden brown, 20 30 minutes.

Hamantashen, to fold or to pinch? (that is the question)

5 Mar

Hamantashen Cookie

Making cookies is always fun for kids but for us, these are especially exciting to make.  The familiar shape of the triangular cookies shows itself every March, it is the official cookie of Purim, a Jewish holiday geared toward the kiddos. (You definantly don’t have to be Jewish to make these!) We first tried a recipe that seemed to have good reviews but they came out too cakey, I needed another try and I knew exactly where to look for the perfect recipe.

I went straight to Claire’s old Preschool, the ECE Preschool at the Marin Osher JCC  A place where baking and kids is perfectly natural! They use tried and true recipes passed down from Bubi to Bubi and they really work.  If 100 preschoolers can make Challah or Hamantashen taste good then I know the recipes work! When I visited, the Director handed me an adorable colorful printout of the Hamantashen recipe. Let’s back up a minute, I know you are wondering what’s up with that weird name and why is the cookie shaped like a triangle?

The Origin of Hamantaschen
“Hamantaschen” is a Yiddish word meaning “Haman’s pockets.” Haman is the villain in the Purim story, which appears in the Biblical Book of Esther. In the story, Haman is the Grand Vizier of Persia and a rabid anti-Semite. When Mordechai, a Jewish member of the king’s court and relative of Queen Esther, refuses to bow down to Haman, the Grand Vizier plots to have all the Jews in the kingdom massacred. However, Queen Esther and Mordechai discover Haman’s plot and are able to foil it. In the end, Haman is executed on the gallows he planned to use on Mordechai.
Jews eat hamantaschen on Purim as part of the celebration of the holiday, which commemorates how Jews escaped Haman’s dastardly plans. One explanation for the triangular shape of these pastries is that Haman wore a three-cornered hat. (excerpt from http://judaism.about.com )
There are some other facts about Purim that the kids really love one is

There are four good deeds that people try to carry out at Purim time.

1) To hear the reading of the Megillot Ester (Book of Esther) at a group gathering. This developed into a custom several hundred years after the real event took place.

2) To enjoy an atmosphere that encourages celebration with food and drink.

3) Helping out at least two people who are less fortunate than we are (charity) by giving them gifts on the 14th of Adar.

It has also become a tradition (Machatzit Hashekel) to give 3 half-dollar coins to charity to commemorate the half-shekel given by each Jew in the time of the Holy Temple. This good deed is usually done in the synagogue.

4) Giving gifts to a friend who is not necessarily poor. These ready-to-eat gifts might take the form of a fruit basket (Shalach Monot), pastry or beverage.

The best part of Purim is the dress up, the kids dress as Esther, Hamen or any royal. Purple is often used in decoration because it is the color connected to royalty.  The celebration is kind of like Mardi Gras and Halloween all wrapped up in one, lots of sweets and lots of fun!

Now that the history part is out of the way we can get on to sweeter things..

This recipe was great to use, a parent form the school made it, I have no clue who, but thanks because it is so handy!

The traditional filling of the Hamantashen is poppy-seed but we love strawberry or apricot preserves. I also sliced up fresh strawberries and added a slice to each one for a fresh taste.  The method is much like making sugar cookies, you roll out the buttery dough and chill. The triangle starts with a circle, imagine that, stay in school kids, the wonders of math never cease! Use a cup or a round cookie cutter to cut circles, drop a bit of filling in and then from your triangle (recipe below)

Raw chocolate chip dough

I butter

There is a debate in the land of Hamantashen about the correct way to seal up the Hamantashen, to fold or to pinch. I was always a pincher but I recently tried a recipe from Cupcake Project, while her tashen looked and tasted good, her suggestion of folding was intregiung to me. Folding the dough can produce a beautiful cookie but we had problems. Our dough was cracking with each fold although our cookies came out pretty we were discouraged by the cracking.

When we used the recipe below we pinched, you may have to use some water on the dough to make it stick but the pinched ones came out perfectly! So I say, depending on the recipe, your oven and your skill level pinching may be the way to go. **Note- for gluten free see bottom of post.

Lizet’s Hamatashen Recipe

preheat oven to 350˚ƒ
4 1⁄2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together in a large bowl

3 sticks butter (1 1/2 c).
soften in a bowl
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
beat eggs in a bowl, stir in vanilla.
add eggs to flour mixture, add butter, stir, then dump on clean surface, knead briefly until sticky.divide dough in quarters.  ( I wrap and chill at this point)
roll to 1/4 inch thick on floured board.
Cut circles using a cutter or cup.
Place 1 tsp filling in center of dough.
Fold or pinch 3 sides to make a triangle.
Leave some filling showing in center. 
Bake on cookie sheet about 15 minutes.

Filling: use jam, or mix 1⁄2 lb. Prunes with 1⁄4 c. strawberry jam in a food processor. Or try making your own poppy seed filling…

Mohn (Poppy seed filling)

2 c. poppy seed, finely ground

1 egg

1/3 c. honey or sugar

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1⁄4 c. chopped nuts

Wash the seeds well, them grind them in a food processor or place the seeds in a cloth and pound them with a mallet. Mix with the remaining ingredients. chill.

                                                                                  
 

Folding the dough on a cookie sheet avoids the transfer disaster.

**NOTE

When we made these goodies with for our third grade class we needed a gluten free recipe. I tried a pie dough mix and it was terribly unsuccessful. As you can see it the photo they were like sand and not folded or pinched, we just dug out a space for the jam..

One of the moms made up a batch of GF cookie dough from Pure Pantry sugar cookie mix and it worked really well for the Hamantashen. I only have a photo of our ugly ones because the better ones got gobbled right up!

Ugly duckling gluten free cookies

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