Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Coconut Butter Macaroons will make...

....you swoon from the first bite to the last. They are gluten free, too!!!


I got this recipe off the back of a package of Trader Joe's Coconut Flour. Like a virgin for the very first time using it. (to borrow from Madonna a little). Also, I have modified the recipe slightly. I have to tell you, the first time I made these cookies, they tasted great, but they were a bit flat. I attribute that to not sifting the flour. That is all I can think of that I did differently, because when I did sift the flour the cookies puffed up nicely. Well, I also used bigger globs of dough. Oh gosh, just know that these are some good tasting cookies.

Coconut Butter Macaroons

1/2 cup butter, softened (I used unsalted, the recipe doesn't call for it, but I normally cook/bake with unsalted butter.
1 cup sugar (granulated cane sugar, I wonder what coconut sugar would be like with this recipe)
4 eggs (I bring them a bit toward room temperature.)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sifted Trader Joe's Coconut Flour (plus a few pinches more)
2 cups Trader Joe's Shredded Coconut (the recipe calls for sweetened, but I find the cookies are sweet enough with the sugar)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix together butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the coconut flour and coconut; mix well. Drop tablespoon size mounds two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes-until golden. Remove from baking sheet immediately and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about a dozen cookies.
Add just a bit more coconut flour. 

The batter thickens up when the flour is added.


A bit blurry, but you can see the globs and spacing.

Put on cooling rack immediately upon removal from the oven.


Quote of the day:
"I happen to love coconut, particularly for that sweet and crunchy texture it adds to any dish." Marcus Samuelsson 

My friend Taavi loved these cookies. This is what he had to say about them: "Thank you for those DEEEElicious coconut cookies! Stephen is normally not a big fan of coconut and said he'd have just a taste but he ate the whole cookie because it was so good! I accompanied mine with a piece of dark chocolate and had an out of body experience." 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pumpkin Carrot Spice Muffins are...

...the bomb.com according to the adorable, food savvy Alaska Jones Girls. They are the daughters of my dear friends Brian and Colleen. The whole family is food savvy with a need for good flavor with a dash of fun. I was glad to get their approval.

The recipe was adopted from The Lovely Little Kitchen by Julie. She in turn got the recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction. Julie modified Sally's recipe and I modified Julie's. The main modification that I made is the adding of shredded carrot. See what you think.
Remove two large tablespoons of pumpkin from the can. It will yield about 1/14 cups. My dogs, Izzy and Mouse, gladly eat the scoops of pumpkin.

One carrot grated.

Spices are nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

Please note that this batter is very very thick. My spoon was captured by it.

Pumpkin Carrot Spice Muffins

·      1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar 
·       1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I used 1 1/2 cups loosely packed brown sugar (not the dark). In fact the next time that I make them I think I will reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup)
·       1 teaspoon baking soda
·       1/2 teaspoon salt
·       2 teaspoons cinnamon
·       1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
·       1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
·       ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (added to the recipe)
·       2 eggs
·       1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree (Remove 2 heaping tablespoons from the can. This allows for the added carrot. The scooped out pumpkin goes to  my dogs Izzy and Mouse. They love pumpkin and it is so good for them, too.) 
·       1 carrot grated
·       1/2 cup coconut oil (Melting before putting in the mixture is a good idea)
·       1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1.     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place 12 paper liners into each well of your standard size muffin baking pan.
2.     Measure out the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
3.     In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut oil and vanilla extract.
4.     Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together. Do not over mix, just stir until everything is incorporated into the batter.
5.     It is helpful to use a large scoop (like an ice cream scoop) to evenly distribute the batter into each well. They will be nearly full. This will help give your muffins a nice puffy dome.
6.     Bake your muffins for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
   
     Quote of the Day: "Have you come to sing pumpkin carols?" Linus 
Fill the cup a little past full.

Beautiful, moist, dense muffins. Also, depending on the weather or the Great Pumpkin these vary in baking time.

    Website for The Lovely Kitchen by Julie:  lovelylittlekitchen.com
    and for Sally's Baking Addiction:  sallysbakingaddiction.com
    Both of these sites have great recipes. I highly recommend checking them out!!!!




Monday, May 18, 2015

A pork roast and a cast iron dutch oven.....

what a wonderful pairing.  Let me share this extraordinary recipe. It is so easy even a first time pork roast maker, like me can have a stellar meal.  I did some hunting on the internet for the best way to make roast pork.  I ran across this recipe using a cast iron dutch oven (seemed a match made in heaven), because I have one. A big one. I call it the beast, because I have to get my muscles in shape before I use it. It is heavy on its own, but add makings for a meal and wowser, it gets really heavy. I adore it, though.

The Beast. An honored guest!!
This is a 6.23 pound bone-in Boston butt roast.

This recipe was retrieved from food.com. Modifications were made and you may want to make your own. I will put the recipe down on this page as I found it with my notes in italics.

Ingredients

Servings 4-5

4-5 lb pork roast (I used a 6.23 lb bone-in Boston butt pork roast)
5 gloves garlic (make it six)
1 small onion thinly sliced (medium onion)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet (I used 2 cups beef broth instead of the water and Kitchen Bouquet)
2 teaspoons black pepper (just a pinch of black pepper and a pinch of red pepper)
1 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon lard (used the grease from five pieces of bacon)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water


Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Serves 4-5 (the bigger roast served more, of course)
(Pat dry your roast with paper towels)
Melt lard (bacon grease)
Salt and pepper all sides of the roast (rub it in)
When lard just begins to give off the smell of being hot, place roast in pot. (when smoke just begins to rise)
Do not move it for a minute or so, then rotate it to brown all sides.
Lay garlic cloves and onion slices around the roast and stir to brown them a bit. (I sopped up some of the bacon grease with paper towels before I did the next step.)
Mix the Kitchen Bouquet into the 2 cups of water. (I used beef broth instead)
Pour the water mixture into the pot.
Bring it to a boil.
Cover tightly and place in lower portion of the oven.
Roast 1 hour for boneless roast; 1-3/4 hours for bone-in roast. (since my roast weighed more, I roasted it for 3 hours total)
Half way through the roasting time turn the roast over.
Finish roasting.
Remove roast from pan and cover it to keep it hot.
Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch into 1/2 cup water (I used 1 cup of water)
Using a whisk, stir the cornstarch moisture into the pot drippings (there is a goodly amount of drippings) breaking up the garlic cloves as you mix.
Bring to a boil, taste and season as needed with salt and pepper (I didn't use any additional seasoning)

The web site says "pork roast made this way is always tender." And lip smacking good, if I may add.
I served this roast with yukon gold mashed potatoes, bourbon pecan smashed sweet potatoes and fresh asparagus.
I used beef broth instead of the Kitchen Bouquet and 2 cups of water.

Medium onion and six cloves of garlic.

Brown on all sides.


I invited friends to take part in this experiment. I had laid aside extra chips and what nots just in case this meal was a bust. Thankfully, I didn't have to resort to fillers. Stephen Lejeune, one of the willing participants, texted me the next morning "Thank you so much for the incredible dinner last night. It made me feel like I was at home." Another guest asked for the recipe. I must say, for my first time cooking pork roast, I couldn't have been more pleased. It was moist, tender, flavorful. Worthy of seconds by all. The gravy is spectacular. It made me want to pull out a straw and slurp it right up. It makes a lot of gravy, too.

Here is the link to food.com. You can see a beautiful picture of a cooked pork roast. You will have to trust me that mine looked equally as sumptuous.
http://www.food.com/recipe/pork-roast-the-old-fashion-way-cast-iron-dutch-oven-44278

Here is the link to the bourbon pecan smashed sweet potatoes.
http://www.rachaelray.com/recipes/bourbon-pecan-smashed-sweet-potatoes

Quote of the Day (I couldn't agree more)


"Cooking certain dishes, like roast pork, reminds me of my mother."








Sunday, March 29, 2015

What does Jack Daniels have to do with Buckwheat Pancakes....

...not much but a little added flavor.


This Sunday morning, after a walk down by the bayou with my sweet puppygirls, I decided breakfast was in order. So, I turned on the oven to cook the last of the jalapeno bacon and heated up my cast iron skillet to make some buckwheat pancakes. I rummaged around to find the pancake ingredients only to discover I was out of milk and thought water would due, until I opened my cupboard, finding a can of Native Forest unsweetened coconut milk.

With this find I made some modifications to my recipe. The recipe calls for 1 cup milk and 2 tablespoons melted butter. If you have never opened a can of this wonderful stuff, you probably have not seen the layer of cream that sits on top of the coconut milk. I scooped two tablespoons of cream off the top and mixed the rest of it into the can. The two scooped tablespoons I used instead of the melted butter. Not melting necessary, just throw it into the batter.

Here is the recipe from Hodgson Mill 100% Stone Ground Buckwheat Flour with my
modifications.


Buckwheat Pancakes
1 cup buckwheat
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar (I used loose packed brown sugar and only 1/12 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten
1 cup milk (1 cup organic canned coconut milk)
2 Tbsp. melted butter (2 tablespoons cream off the top of the can of coconut milk, no melting.
Added 1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. Jack Daniels


Put all of your dry ingredients in a bowl, mix them up really good. Mix in egg, milk, butter, & Jack Daniels or any other flavoring you have handy and mix them in with the dry ingredients. If the mixture is too thick add a little water or more milk. You can use a whisk or a fork to stir things up. Don't over mix. Just make sure everything is blended.

Heat griddle until bubbles form when water is sprinkled on the surface. A med. slightly high heat. Pour the batter in the pan. I keep my pancakes kind of small. It makes it easier to flip the. Watch for the edges to look cooked and there are bubbles all over the top of the pancake.  Cook them for another minute or so on the flip side.

The Puppygirls!!
Quote of the day:
"Just play, have fun, enjoy the game." Michael Jordan

I think this quote definitely applies to the kitchen.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bacon's on my mind...

again.....

Yes, that meat candy wonder of the world is still a favorite. And even more so now that I have learned a new way of cooking it. It is so easy, I wonder how I missed doing it before.

It requires an oven, parchment paper, a pan with some sort of raised edge and bacon, of course.


This is a before and after shot of the pan.

My new best friend.

This is my new favorite find. HEB's Jalapeno Bacon. It adds a bit of a kick to your day.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Lay parchment paper in a pan with a raised edge. It can be a baking sheet or a pan. I guess it depends on how much bacon you want to cook. Put the bacon in the pan. The pieces can be close, but not touching. Set the pan on the middle rack and let it cook for 15 to 18 minutes. The bacon doesn't curl up. It remains flat. Take it out when it is too your liking of doneness.


The bacon remains flat. No curling.

I still lay it on a paper towel to sop up any residual greasiness. Of course, there is always going to be some. 


It looks beautiful plated.

The next great thing about this whole process is the lack of a greasy splattered mess on your stove top. And clean up is snap.
Snap!

Quote of the Day: "In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present."
Francis Bacon

It seems I like all things Bacon!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake a borrowed recipe....

from Sally's Baking Addiction. I am so glad Sally has a baking addiction, because I sure do like this cake!!!!

My friend Flora recently had an August birthday and I wanted to make a cake with her in mind. She is a chocolate fan, but she also likes tart lemon flavors and she loves blueberries and it is summer and lemon and blueberries seemed like a refreshing choice.  I did some online searching and came across this delightful, moist pucker-up lemon blueberry cake. I made a few modifications, but very slight. Flora had a gathering of friends at a great little dim sum place called Yum Yum Cha Cafe, which I need to write about, soon. It is an excellent place for brunch, lunch and dinner. Fresh well prepared dim sum, with daily specials that delight the palette. I took the cake along to share, the restaurant was very gracious and supplied plates and forks.

Here is the cake recipe taken from Sally's blog with modifications in bold.

Ingredients:

CAKE

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar (not packed)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature*
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk* (I used low-fat buttermilk, because it came in a smaller container, less waste on my part.)
  • zest + juice of 3 medium lemons* (I had to use five small lemons)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh (258g) or non-thawed frozen (275g) (I used fresh organic blueberries)
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 8 ounces (224g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) heavy cream* (I used coconut milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt (I did not use salt)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray three 9x2 inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Set aside. (I did the old method of buttering the pan and dusting with flour.  The cakes came out of the pan perfectly intact.)
Make the cake. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until creamy - about 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside. (My mixer does not have a paddle attachment, so I used beaters and it worked fine.)
In a large sized bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on low speed for 5 seconds, then add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Remove from the mixer and stir lightly until everything is just combined. Toss the blueberries in 1 Tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. Batter is extremely thick. Do not overmix at any point. Overmixing will lend a tough, dense textured crumb.
Spoon batter evenly into 3 prepared cake pans. If only using 2 cake pans, your bake time will be longer. Bake the three layers for about 21-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine took 21 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting. (I used two cake pans and the bake time was 35 minutes)
Make the frosting. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until no lumps remain, about 3 full minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 Tablespoon cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more Tablespoon of cream to thin out, if desired.
Assemble and frost. First, using a large serrated knife, trim the tops off the cake layers to create a flat surface. (I did not trim the top of the cake layers. I kind of like leaving things as they are, flaws and all.) Place 1 layer on your cake stand. Evenly cover the top with cream cheese frosting. Top with 2nd layer, more frosting, then the third layer. Top with frosting and spread around the sides. The recipe doesn't make a ton of frosting, just enough for a light frost. Top with blueberries or lemon garnish if desired. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting or else the cake may fall apart as you cut.
Make 1 day in advance if you'd like. Extras keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3days.
Helpful notes:
*This batter will fit into a 9×13 pan. Fill 2/3 full. If there’s extra batter, you can make a few cupcakes. I’m unsure of the baking time since I only typically make it as a layer cake.
*VERY careful not to overmeasure your flour. This will result in a heavy, dense crumb. You want a precise 375g.
*Please use buttermilk in this recipe. See note in post about how to make your own at home. 
*1 medium-size lemon = approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest = 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
*Room temperature eggs preferred for even distribution among batter. Simply set into a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes before using or set out when you set out your cream cheese/butter for the recipe. 
*Heavy cream with 30% or more milk fat preferred in frosting for creamiest texture. For a less creamy texture, milk would be fine.
The recipe called for 3 med. lemons, the store only had small, so I used 5 lemons. 

With two layers, the cake takes approximately 35 minutes to bake.

Cooling before frosting.

Sally's Baking Addiction link
http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/02/09/lemon-blueberry-layer-cake/
Yum Yum Cha Cafe
2435 Times Blvd.
Houston, TX 77005
www.yumyumchacafe.com


Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/berries.html#CvbxFYFehAdqGoOe.99

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Luna Pizzeria and a dog named Barnaby, what do they have in common...

... an owner.
Mushroom pizza sans cheese


Jeff Gale, owner of Barnaby’s Cafe and Brown Bag Deli, has opened a pizzeria in a strip mall on Richmond at Kirby.  



I have eaten there twice. The first time, I went there, I met my two favorite tasty lunching pals, Lisa and Chibi. Lisa recommended the place. She and her husband, Chris discovered it a few weeks ago and they have made several visits since. On my first visit I had a salad. Excellent. Their salads are generous. They come in two sizes small and large. $5 & $7 respectively.  I had the small Chopped Salad which is ample for a fair sized appetite with grilled chicken added.  It is a nice combination of iceberg and romain lettuce, red cabbage, carrots, artichoke, Kalmata olives, provolone (I nixed the cheese, lactose intolerant dag nabbit) sopressata, grape tomatoes, cucumber all tossed in a very fresh zingy house vinaigrette. I think Lisa had the Italian sausage, roasted pepper sandwich served in a toasted hoagie bun. It looked delicious, she said it was. Chibi had the pepperoni sausage pizza, irresistibly tempting.  I am a huge bread fan, but it doesn’t always set well with me. No, I’m not a celiac, (TMI), but wheat does seem to be a bit bothersome to my system.  That being said, the pizza crust looked so good. Golden, bubbled appropriately, I begged Chibi for a taste. He relented. My, my, my it was good. Which brings me to my second trip to Luna Pizzeria. I just had to have a pizza.
Chibi's favorite, pepperoni and sweet Italian sausage 
I settled on the Mushroom pizza with baby portabellas, shitake, oyster and button mushrooms combined with spinach, rosemary topped of with whipped ricotta (nixed the ricotta and mozzarella-lactose intolerant, oh my). I was very pleased with my choice. Nicely seasoned  tomato sauce that has a great flavor but doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients.  The veggies were baked with the dough, so they are not over done or dried out, allowing the freshness to speak in loud whispers. 

But, it is the crust that is the thing that holds all the tastes together. It is the best dang crust I think I’ve had in Houston and I’ve had some good crust. I asked the manager about it. He said that it comes from a family owned bakery in the Heights called Angela’s Oven. This is what their Web site says about their bake goods.

“All of our bread and pastries and are handcrafted without the use of  preservatives or dough conditioners. We use only unbleached, unbromated bread flours.” Angela’s Oven

No wonder this crust is so good. I also noticed the pizzas are baked in an electric oven. Of course, the big thing is to boast that you are baking the pizza in wood burning or gas ovens and trust me that is a most wonderful way to bake your pizza, but I was trying to get a handle on why this crust was so great without that, so I asked why they didn’t use gas or wood ovens.  The manager told me that the building management does not allow gas or wood burning ovens, only electric. Angela’s Oven has made allowances in the dough to accommodate the electric oven. Impressive. It is great crust. I think, I have said that a couple of times. I like the fact that the dough/electric oven problem worked out so great, because it is a collaborative effort between an artisan bread maker and an artisan restaurateur. Problem solving at its best.

The other thing I noticed today was a gorgeous turquoise Le Creuset Dutch Oven on the counter where the orders are taken. It was sitting on an electric (of course) hot plate. It was warm to the touch. I asked the manager about it (he was very patient with me, I do ask a lot of questions). He told me it was full of individually wrapped made-fresh-daily chocolate chip cookies. I just about swooned, but passed on trying one, because I had had my quota of wheat for the week.
Hiding inside are warm chocolate chip cookies. OMG
(Blog Update: Here is the good news, I went back to Luna Pizzeria today for a birthday lunch and I was treated to one of the cookies hiding inside that beautiful pot. Excellent. The dark chocolate chips where already melting, blending inside the cookie, making it extra moist. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Make note this is a goodly sized cookie and could easily be shared, but I ate the whole thing. It's my birthday after all.  I found out the cookies are made by The Dessert Gallery. There is one catty-corner across the street from Luna Pizzeria. Thank you David and Emily.) 

There was one other sweet detail about how things are served. The pizza condiments of parmesan cheese, chopped dried hot pepper and spice are served on a saucer. The cheese is sliced and the spice is a fresh sprig of oregano. It’s a nice touch.
Condiments


The menu is small in items, but huge on flavor.
The menu in its entirety.


Quote of the Day: “This is extremely tasty pizza.” Chibi Yaqi

Luna Pizzeria
3435 Kirby
Houston, TX 77098
832-767-6338
www.lunapizzeria.com

Angela's Oven
204 Aurora St.
Houston, TX 77008
832-239-0437
www.angelasoven.com

The Dessert Gallery
3600 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098
(713) 522-9999
dessertgallery.com