Creme Fraiche Spice Cookies

A soft, cake-like cookie.

Preheat oven to 350’F.

In a large bowl sift together: 1 cup tapioca flour, 1/2 cup buckwheat flour, 1/2 cup coconut flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp ground cardamom, 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg.

In an electric mixer, using a beater attachment, combine 1 cup coconut sugar and 4 oz butter until blended. Add 4 oz creme fraiche and 2 oz soft white goat cheese. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Mix in 2 large eggs and blend until smooth, another minute.

Combine wet and dry ingredients. The mixture will be very soft.

Scoop rounded spoonfuls, about two teaspoonfuls of dough, onto a Silpat or baking parchment. Bake 10 minutes.

Whole Curry Roasted Cauliflower

This recipe makes a firm-to-crispy cauliflower. Try parsteaming the cauliflower for 10 minutes prior to roasting for a softer texture.

1 medium cauliflower
1 cup fullfat coconut milk
1 tsp each turmeric, garam masala, sumac, cayenne pepper, paprika, coconut flour
1 tbsp ground hazelnuts (or almonds)

Preheat oven to 400’F and grease a lipped baking tray.

Remove excess leaves from cauliflower and trim stem so cauliflower sits flat.

In a bowl that will fit the cauliflower, mix together coconut milk, nut flours, and spices until well combined.

Dunk the cauliflower into the bowl and spoon the sauce all over, including the underside, leaving no florets exposed.

Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven, spoon sauce back over cauliflower (it will run across pan).

Bake a further 15-20 minutes, spooning sauce as a golden crust forms, being careful not to knock off the existing crust.

Remove from oven when cauliflower is a golden chestnut color.

Serve warm, in wedges.

Banana Pumpkin Muffins

4 oz butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup cooked butternut squash
1.5 large bananas (2/3 cup)
5 oz chocolate or carob chips
2/3 cup coconut flour
2/3 cup ground almond meal
2/3 cup tapioca flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 375’F. Line muffin pans with 14 paper cases.

Combine sugar and butter in mixer until soft. Add eggs and mix well. Add squash and bananas and mix until well combined. Add chocolate/carob chips.

In a separate bowl sift together flours, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. WIth a spatula, stir into banana mixture until just combined.

Spoon mixture into muffin pans. Bake 20-24 minutes or until top is browned and muffins are springy. Do not overbake. Check at 20 minutes.

Flourless Spiced Biscuits

These are tasty enough to pass muster for the blog, but open to improvement… test and adjust to your liking. As with any biscuit, these are best eaten the same day they’re made. I tweaked the flours in each recipe, based on the, ahem, very scientific consideration of what was in the cupboard at the time.

Version I

3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup hazelnut flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 oz cold butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 eggs

Blend dry ingredients well and rub in butter with fingertips — or pulse gently in food processor. The mixture should resemble breadcrumbs.

Whisk eggs until smooth, then add maple syrup. Whisk.

Mix together dry and wet mixtures until just combined. The mixture will be fairly moist.

Shape into 12 biscuits and place on a cold baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350’F for 15-20 minutes, or until base of biscuits is browned.

Version II

3/4 cup fresh ground almond flour
3/4 cup hazelnut flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 oz cold butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 large eggs

Blend dry ingredients well and rub in butter with fingertips — or pulse gently in food processor. The mixture should resemble breadcrumbs.

Whisk eggs until smooth then blend in maple syrup. Whisk.

Mix together dry and wet mixtures until just combined. The mixture will be fairly moist.

Shape into 10 biscuits and place on a cold baking tray lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350’F for 12-16 minutes, or until base of biscuits is browned.

Sweet Red Bean Chili

Rich and filling. Best with dark beans and dark chocolate. I’ve tried four or five different varieties of bean from Rancho Gordo, and the tiny, dark red sangre de toro are hands down the best bean for this recipe.

Beans

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound dried beans, soaked overnight in plenty of water
Optional: 1/2 cup finely chopped celery or carrots
Optional: 1 medium clove garlic

In a very large pot, bring beans, soaking water, onion, and optional ingredients to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 3 hours.

Meat

1 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 whole ancho chili
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons ground paprika
4 pounds ground beef
28 oz crushed tomatoes
8-10 oz dark chocolate chips

In an electric grinder, combine cumin seeds, garlic, and chili until finely ground. Gently fry all spices in olive oil for 1 minute. Do not burn. Add beef. Stir about 10 minutes, breaking up the chunks of beef, until the meat is browned all over and in pieces no larger than quarters.

Add tomatoes and cook 10 minutes.

Chili

Combine meat and beans well.

Add chocolate chips and simmer until melted.

Simmer at low heat, partially covered, for around 45 minutes.

***

Old & Confusing Version…

Okay, not jam, and not even dessert. But this was such a hit I have to write it down somewhere before I forget what I did. It doesn’t have to be a three-day process — it doesn’t even have to be stretched out over two days, and obviously the two stages of meat can be combined — I added the additional meat because the first version was too spicy for my kids. Regardless, cooking unsoaked beans takes time, and cooking ground beef so it breaks down and is tender also takes time. Plan accordingly…

Day 1

Prepare 1 pound Rancho Gordo sangre de toro beans: Saute in olive oil 1 medium onion, finely chopped, add beans, stir. In a spice or coffee grinder process 1 whole ancho chile, about 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, and about 1 teaspoon dried epazote. Add ground spices and about 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon to onions and fry lightly, being careful not to burn the spices. Add beans and water to generously cover the beans, bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer around 3 hours, or until beans are very soft. Check every now and then to be sure there is sufficient water to cook the beans. Put the cooled beans, including the thickened bean water, in the refrigerator.

Day 2

To about 2 tablespoons olive oil on a medium-high stove add 2 pounds lean ground beef. Stir about 10 minutes, breaking up the chunks of beef, until the meat is browned all over and in pieces no larger than quarters. Stir in the cooked beans, a 14 oz jar crushed tomatoes, and around 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips. Simmer at low heat, partially covered, for around 45 minutes.

Stir in around 1 tablespoon peanut butter and around 4 oz chocolate chips. Mix well and cook together over medium heat for another 2 minutes. Put the cooled chili in the refrigerator.

Day 3

To about 2 tablespoons olive oil on a medium-high stove add 2 pounds lean ground beef. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons ground paprika and about 2 teaspoons freshly ground cumin. Stir constantly over medium heat, breaking up the chunks of beef and pressing the spices and onions into the beef, about 3 minutes. Add 2 crushed cloves garlic and stir another 3 minutes, until the meat is browned all over and in pieces no larger than quarters. Add a 14 oz jar of plain prepared pasta sauce (e.g. marinara).

Simmer, partially covered, over a low heat for around 30 minutes.

Add the cooled chili from Day 2. Simmer for a further 5 minutes. Serve with skillet-baked corn bread, grated cheese, and sour cream.

This chili freezes well. Two pounds of chili will serve two adults and two children.

*Note, for the skillet bread, I substituted 1 cup warm milk clabbered with 1 tablespoon rice vinegar for 15 minutes for the buttermilk.

Pluot & Rose Jam

A perfect marriage of sweet pluots and the delicate, fragrant flavor of rose.

2 kg pluots (plumcots)
1800 g white sugar
450 ml water
1/3 cup dried pink rose petals

Chop fruit roughly, removing pits. Reserve 8-10 pits. Put fruit and water in a large, wide preserving pan.

Crack open pits to reveal kernels, saving 4-5 firm, large kernels and discarding any small, wrinkled, or soft ones. Put kernels in a bowl or mug and pour over boiling water, leave for one minute, and drain. Rub off skin with fingers and add to plums.

Shuck the hard calyx from the base of the rose buds and tap to release any dried pollen. Measure the petals and firmer buds (no need to loosen all the petals from firm buds) into a fabric spice bag and tie the bag to the handle of the preserving pan so that the bag dangles in the fruit mixture.

Bring plums and water to a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook 30-40 minutes, or until the mixture has reduced by about a third. The plums and skins will have softened into a coarse mush.

Remove from heat and transfer to a non-metallic bowl. Carefully remove the spice bag and dangle it in the fruit mixture. Cool, cover, and store overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, warm the fruit in the preserving pan. Separately, warm the sugar in a lasagne dish at 300’F for around 15 minutes. Tip warmed sugar into the warmed fruit and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until fruit is thickened and jam reaches 220’F or passes the wrinkle test.

Let jam cool slightly then pour into sterilized jars, seal, and can for 10 minutes in a rolling water bath.

Apricot & Nut Cobbler

This went fast at home. A light, crumbly cake topping and sweet scented apricots underneath, it was inspired by a handful of lemon verbena I’d picked a day earlier and a David Lebowitz recipe for the topping; it was a distant cousin to the latter by the time I was done.

The cobblers and crumbles that make it to our dinner table are usually thrown together after last-minute pantry raids, and so all measurements are unfortunately best guesses. Now if only I discovered bags of Frog Hollow apricots every time I dug around in the freezer…

12-14 Blenheim apricots, halved and pitted
10-12 medium lemon verbena leaves (no more than 2 inches in length)
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon ground rice flour
1 teaspoon butter

2-3 oz marzipan
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
2/3 cup white sugar
2 oz butter
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2-2/3 cup milk

Soften the frozen apricots in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit in a 10-inch straight-sided ceramic pie dish for around 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and toss in a bowl with the sugar, lemon verbena leaves, rice flour. Wipe the butter around the pie dish and return the apricots, spreading in a single layer across the dish. Lower the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a food processor pulse marzipan, hazelnuts, and sugar to a fine crumb. Add chopped chunks of butter and pulse again. Add egg and blend until smooth. Continue to add ingredients, grinding at each addition until just blended: 1/2 cup flour, followed by the vanilla and 1/4 cup milk; 1/2 cup flour and then enough milk to create a batter that is sloppy rather than stiff, but not so much milk that the mixture could be easily poured. Drop the batter in spoonfuls on the fruit and bake for 40 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Aprium & Raspberry Jam

Image

Apriums, a plum-apricot hybrid, have the sweetness of apricots with some of the tart piquancy of plums. In this recipe, the Meyer lemon provides the pectin needed to set the low-pectin apriums and raspberries, and the fresh apriums added at the end add some variety in texture to the silky cooked fruit.

3 lbs 4 oz apriums (3 lbs pitted) + about 1 lb (3/4 lb pitted) apriums
2 Meyer lemons
6 1/2 oz raspberries
2 lbs white sugar

1. Halve, then quarter and pit the first batch (3 lbs) of apriums.

2. In a large preserving pot, bring apriums, raspberries, juice of one lemon, and sugar to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then take off the heat, cool, and refrigerate fruit and syrup in a non-metallic bowl, covered, overnight.

3. The next day, return mixture to the preserving pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool and strain juice from fruit pulp. Reserve the softened fruit. Grind one whole lemon in a food processor with 1/2 cup white sugar until you have a smooth, thick pulp. Add lemon mixture to the syrup and boil a further 10-15 minutes or until syrup thickens but does not darken noticeably (watch the heat carefully).

4. Return the cooked fruit to the syrup along with 3/4 pound fresh, quartered apriums. Simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.

5. Remove jam from heat, pour into sterilized preserving jars, can and seal in a water bath.

Meyer Lemon & Rose Petal Jam

A flavor combination inspired by Liana Krisoff‘s recipe, who in turns says she based her recipe on June Taylor’s technique. June Taylor’s marmalades aren’t sweet enough for my taste — but even with additional sugar and a few other tweaks, this is still one very, very tart marmalade! Not sure I’d make this again…

Ingredients

2 lbs Meyer lemons
1.5 cups Meyer lemon juice
2 cups water
1/4 cup dried, separated, untreated rose petals
5 cups white sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp rose water

Day 1

Trim the bumpy top and bottom of the lemons. Score the lemons into sixths and carefully peel off the segments of peel.

Gently pull off the excess pith from the peeled lemons and reserve the pith and lemons separately.

With a sharp paring knife, scrape the white pith from the inside of each lemon sixth and reserve pith separately. Slice the depithed segments into very fine strips. This will take some time.

Cut the reserved, peeled lemons widthwise, removing and saving the seeds and the pithy ends and center. Chop the rings into pieces about as large as an almond.

Put the seeds and pith into a spice bag and tie to the handle of a preserving pan. Add the finely chopped peel, lemon pieces, juice, and water. Boil for 45 minutes and let cool completely.

Add the 5 cups sugar to the cooled fruit mixture and bring to a boil until sugar has dissolved. Add rose petals and simmer another minute or two. Let cool completely and then remove to a ceramic or glass bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2

Pour mixture into preserving pan and bring to a boil. Boil 12 minutes. Temperature should reach 220’F on a candy thermometer and the mixture should not yet pass the wrinkle test. Turn off the heat and add the additional 1/2 cup white sugar and the rose water. Let rest 10 minutes and then bring to the boil again until marmalade reaches 221’F and passes the wrinkle test.

Pour into sterilized jars, seal with clean lids and rings and can for 10 minutes.

***

Photo courtesy Chiot’s Run/Flickr CC

Figgy Pudding

More labor, more love than the version I’ve made for years… Make the peel (both kinds), blanch your own almonds, render your own suet (stinky!), create your own spice blend. Necessity has turned me into some sort of version of an 18th-century cook. I kind of enjoy it — once a year. Specific varieties in parentheses are what I used in 2011; try other varieties if you like, but keep the balance of light and dark raisins.

6 oz dark raisins (Flame)
6 oz golden raisins (Monukka)
6 oz currants
8 oz blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
4 oz white figs, finely chopped
2 oz candied orange peel
2 oz candied Buddha’s Hand citron
2 oz candied quince
8 oz brown sugar
8 oz fresh suet
5 eggs
5 oz Cognac
4 oz plain white flour
5 oz freshly make whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Soak fruit and almonds overnight in brandy.

Cream suet and sugar, then add beaten eggs. Stir in fruit and nuts, sifted flour, breadcrumbs, baking soda and spices.

Put mixture in greased ceramic or glass bowls, cover with brown paper and tie string around the sides of the bowl to secure the paper. Trim edges of paper under string.

Steam 4 hours on a simmer with water coming halfway up the sides of the bowl. Refresh water regularly (use a jug to pour water down the inside of the pot).

Pudding can be cooled, stored in the refrigerator and reheated — steam again for 2 hours before serving, or microwave gently one slice at a time.

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