Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"C"is for Cookie, and for Coconut, too: Shortbread for the Rest of Us

While I was baking a pie crust from coconut flour, I began to wonder if I could make a tasty shortbread cookie from it, as well.

Long story short, it seems that I can. 

So can you.

A word of advice, though: if you have to refrigerate some of the dough for any reason, you will need to warm it back up on low power in a microwave oven before you can work it into balls. The shortening (butter or coconut oil recommended) needs to be pretty much liquified in the dough in order for the dough to hold together.

Also, they don't keep well. Eat or freeze within an hour or so of baking.

Coconut Shortbread Cookies


3/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted
3 to 4 Tablespoons honey (to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh finely grated lime (or lemon) zest
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350º F. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick silicone liner.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, stir until it reaches a thick, pasty consistency.

Shape into approximately 1-inch diameter balls and set on lined baking sheet. With a fork, press down gently on the tops of the dough balls to flatten a bit. 

Bake about 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned – keep an eye on them, they will go from golden to dark brown very quickly! 

Allow to cool completely before removing from cookie sheet (handling the cookies while they're still hot will cause them to crumble).

Makes about 40 one-bite cookies.

Serve with light brunch of fruit compote and cacao nib "tea". Or whatever food and beverage floats your boat.

A Peach of a Pie... Peach Curd in a Coconutty Shell, and THEN Some

In case anybody had failed to figure this out, yet…I like food. I like to eat it, I like to look at it, I like to read about it, I like to photograph and paint it and I like to talk (and write) about it. But most of all,  I like to prepare it. Of course, nine times out of ten, when I prepare something, I'm expected to eat it, since I don't work for a professional kitchen (and, no, I have no real desire to do so, since I enjoy the freedom that a private home kitchen affords me).

Now is the season of birthdays in our circle, and this, of course, grants me the excuse to bake unabashedly, and with great variety, with fewer concerns about my own personal girth. The treats get shared, or even given away.

In this case, one of my long-time friends, like me, is on a restricted regimen…she's on an allergy- and celiac-diet – gluten free – and her daughter-in-law has been encouraging her to try, as much as possible, a paleo diet. Well, this isn't exactly paleo, except that the crust could get there, if one wanted to do so, but the entire dish is without gluten, and without other chemicals she has had allergies to. Plus, her husband is a fan of peaches and pies, so there is that. 

The crust is made using coconut flour (yes, there are recipes which use it as the primary flour!), shortening (in this case, butter, so, not exactly paleo, but ultra nibble-worthy, so I made two crusts & popped one in the freezer for later in the week), and eggs (with a little honey, just for the heck of it, but that's not essential to the structure). In essence, it's a pre-baked cookie crust.

The filling is a bigger project. I made a peach curd from peach nectar cooked way down, plus some flash-frozen peaches (thawed and pureed), some egg yolks, and a great honkin' amount of sugar… hey, it's a birthday pie! It's supposed to be decadent!

It was topped with more raw peaches steeped overnight in lime juice, then drained and coated with honey, and, finally, decorated with my favorite stabilized whipped cream topping. One could, I suppose, make it a peach meringue pie if one wanted, since the curd uses yolks and not the albumen, but I'm reserving the egg whites for next week's birthday chocolate sponge cake. Whippy cream it is, this time.

I made a double batch of everything, though, so one went home with the birthday girl, and the other is going on the table Friday evening for our weekly supper. I recommend you do the same, just because.

Coconut flour pie crust (single crust)
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted 
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey (optional if this crust is for a savory pie)
3/4 cup coconut flour 
Set rack in oven to near the bottom. Preheat oven to 400º F.
Heavily grease a 9" pie pan. 
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat the butter or coconut oil at low power until almost completely melted (about 1 minute. If it's not near melting point, continue to heat in 20-second increments until all but a few lumps of solid remain. Remove from the microwave and allow the solids to gradually melt, and the shortening to cool slightly. 
Add eggs, salt, and honey and thoroughly mix. Add coconut flour and stir until dough holds together. 
Gather dough into a ball and pat into greased 9" pie pan, and prick the dough with a fork. 

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool before filling. 

And this is my latest choice for filling:

Peach Curd 

4 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fresh peach puree (or frozen, thawed)*
1 Tablespoon lime juice (or lemon, if you must)
6 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, beat yolks with sugar, peach purée and lime juice. Simmer, stirring constantly, until it becomes thickened. 
Remove from heat, begin whisking in butter a few small pieces at a time. Stir in vanilla, then strain curd through a fine sieve. 
Pour into pre-baked cookie-type (sweet) pie shell or tart shells. Or, refrigerate it in a covered container and later you can spread it on your waffles, toast, etc. 

 *I actually started with a liter of high-quality peach nectar, and set it to simmer until it reduced to just over 1 1/2 cups (it took about 90 minutes on medium-low heat), and, since I was doubling the recipe, filled in by running a handful of frozen peaches (after thawing) through the food processor. But that's because I had time and curiosity. Using fresh or thawed peaches, you're likely to have a brighter color to the puree. The nectar darkened with some interesting near-caramelization as it cooked down. The flavor was darned spiffy.

It's too bad I don't have a good excuse to make a dozen of these for the family…just so I can keep licking the bowls, if nothing more.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Stabilized Whippy Cream Frosting, or Cool Whip™ Upgrade

This has all the texture of whipped cream, but, where plain whipped cream returns to liquid after only a few minutes to an hour, even in the refrigerator, this combination holds its whipped form for a very long time, even at room temperature. 

In fact, if you have a recipe which calls for "frozen whipped dairy (or non-dairy) topping, thawed," (aka Cool Whip™ or its knock-offs) use this, instead. You won't get all those peculiar preservatives, emollients, and other unpronounceable chemicals, but you will get everything else the recipe calls for. Plus, you can sweeten it to your own tastes, rather than let somebody else decide how much sugar is right for you.

But even more important for me, it made a magnificently light, not-too-sweet frosting for an anniversary cake of angel food and lemon. There was just enough tang to balance out the sweetness of the cake and the tartness of the filling. Plus, it held its own as a very pretty, fluffy frosting.

There's a Devo song in here, somewhere…

Stabilized Whippy Cream 


2 cups whipping cream
2 (8oz.) bricks cream cheese brought to room temperature
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (or less, to taste)
4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup)  confectioner's (powdered) sugar, or more, to taste
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract


Be sure your cream cheese is at room temperature by setting it out on the counter at least one hour before you are ready to begin whipping process. Also, chill large mixing bowl and its beater(s).

In a small-ish mixing bowl, combine lemon juice and cream cheese. Whip until fluffy and well-aerated. Set aside.

In the large chilled mixing bowl, on medium speed, whip cream until soft peaks (ones which will not remain upright) begin to form.

Add in the cream cheese.

Whip together on high until firm peaks are formed.

Add confectioner's sugar and vanilla, mix until combined.

Apply generously to sides and top of cake using icing bag and decorative tips, or just go wild with a spatula or spoon.* 

It's fluffy, not stuffy!

*As you can see, I couldn't decide which to do, so I went with both spatula and bag with star point. I'm a rank amateur with those bags, though, so…well, it was fun).

Update: I tried another variation on this theme, to go with a fluffy soufflé cheesecake: cut the cream cheese to only 4 ounces, and mix in with 1 1/2 cups of sour cream. Mix well, chill until slightly set up again (about a half hour). Whip the cream until foamy, add in the sour cream, and continue to beat until light and whippy. Serve immediately or keep chilled until serving.

The Anniversary Cake, with Tangy Lemon Cream Syrup and Candied Lemon Peel

It's a challenge, sometimes, for a rookie gluten-free cook to find enough variety in desserts that others will also enjoy. There's too big a temptation to, after discovering one treat which is a success, not mess with it any more, and just do small (or no) variations on it, ever after.

I probably could have done that with the chocolate sponge cake.  But this month marks the golden anniversary of the marriage of two very special people our family chose to include (and, more importantly, they chose to include us in theirs). Therefore, I needed to go a little outside my comfort zone.

Besides, we're also having the lemon meringue pie as a birthday cake for Pop at the same dinner, and a chocolate cake for another birthday in a couple more weeks, so I feel more than justified in making a nice, light, citrus-y cake.

So here I am, doing a variation on fridge cakes.

It starts, of course, with cake. The recipe I chose to do a riff on calls for a couple of store-bought pound cakes, which, of course, as a wheat-intolerant individual, I can not do. And, since my last project, only a week ago, involved a basic GF yellow cake, I was loath to go there again so soon. But I did have a very nice GF angel food cake recipe, and a couple dozen fresh large eggs in the kitchen, so, there, indeed, I went. Due to another of my peculiar allergies, though, where the linked recipe calls for cream of tartar, I needed to substitute a teaspoon of cider vinegar early in the whipping process, and add  a little extra lemon juice, as well. I also used the full amount of vanilla extract (powdered rather than the liquid.  I didn't want to wet the batter too much), since I like the combination of lemon and vanilla… just because.

When the cake was baked, completely cooled, and removed from its tube pan, I popped it in the freezer overnight, because it's easier to slice into layers when it's frozen (I suppose one could make angel food layers, and not worry about slicing a cake before frosting it, but the shallower the pan, the less light and airy the angel food seems to turn out, so, at minimum, bake it as deep loaves and turn this into a trifle by cutting it into chunks before slathering on the filling).

Gluten-free and fluffy as a nimbus cloud.
Once the cake is prepared, stage two – the garnish and the filling – must commence.

I include them both in the same stage, because they both involve lemons, and you will likely need the juice from one to complete the other, so plan accordingly.

Begin a day ahead, by making candied lemon peels:


Candied Lemon Peels 
4 lemons, washed carefully
2 cups water, plus more for blanching
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cups extra fine (bartender's) sugar* 
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons in wide strips, being careful to avoid taking off the bitter white pith at the same time (if you do get pith'd on, you can take a sharp knife and slice or scrape it off when you're done peeling all the lemons). 
With a sharp knife, slice the zest lengthwise, in narrow julienne strips, about 1/8 inch across – or thinner.  
Fill a 2-quart saucepan HALFWAY with water, put the peels into the water, and bring to a boil on medium heat, reduce temperature and simmer 15 minutes. 
Drain peel in a sieve and rinse thoroughly. Carefully rinse out the saucepan to remove residue, return to stove containing 2 cups water, 2 cups granulated sugar, and bring to a boil at high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. When syrup boils, reduce heat to simmer and add lemon peels. Continue to simmer 15 minutes, or until peels turn translucent. 
While peels simmer, line a jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides) with nonstick parchment (or waxed paper, if that's what you have). 
When peel is cooked to transparency, remove peel from syrup using a slotted spoon, so the syrup will drain back into the pan. Arrange peel in a single layer across the parchment. Allow to cool to room temperature. 
Cover with extra fine sugar, turning with a fork (or, if you're like me, with the nearest set of chopsticks) until all sides of each strip of zest is completely sugar-coated. Transfer to a clean sheet of parchment and allow to dry about an hour, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Then start making the Tangy Lemon Cream Syrup.

The lemon cream syrup was fairly simple: lemon juice, lemon zest, and sweetened condensed milk. I made my own sweetened condensed milk,

so it came out a little darker, an odder color than if I'd used the store-boughten cans, but it also had a slightly richer flavor and texture to start. But if you don't have all afternoon to simmer a pot of milk and sugar down to a thick goo, just go get a couple of cans of the stuff. Then collect the zest of at least a couple of lemons before you cut and juice them. And, you're going to need a few lemons – I made a double batch, and ended up needing six medium-large, very juicy lemons to make my pint-and-change of lemony syrup.

Tangy Lemon Cream Syrup 
1 cup sweetened condensed milk†
1/2 cup lemon juice, strained well
1 Tablespoon fresh very finely grated lemon zest

Stir ingredients together. Cover tightly, place in refrigerator at least an hour (best if allowed to stand overnight). 
Stir. Pour over cake, waffles, pancakes, or spoon. 
Top with whipped cream topping (optional)

Once the syrup was made, I sliced the cake in half crosswise, so I had two giant angel food doughnuts, and I slathered a very generous amount of the syrup between the layers (thicker toward the center hole), then restacked the cake, covered it with my Stabilized Whipped Cream frosting, and packed it to go to our feast.

As the cake was cut, each serving then received another generous drizzling of the tangy syrup, then was garnished with several curls of the candied lemon zest.
I will likely assemble this combination again, sometime soon. I suppose I could also pair it up with some fresh berries, instead of the candied zest (or alongside it. I am the sort to be greedy).

*If you don't have extra-fine sugar, you can make your own by running regular granulated sugar through the food processor for 3 to 5 minutes, until it's really fine. Don't take the lid off the processor until the dust settles, though.

† Because I have several projects coming due this next two weeks, I made several batches of sweetened condensed milk, including this one, using coconut milk.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

How Waffle For You! GF Raised (Sourdough Yeast) Waffles

Waffles, sunshine. What more could a person want?
The Bat made waffles for us, tonight. And when I say "us", I am including our extended-family member, longtime friend Bill, while his wife is away for the day, at the opera. And, when I say "waffles", I mean those tender and crispy, slightly tangy treats with holes designed for maximum containment of melted butter and syrup in violation of all known sensible diets.

While many people hear "waffle" and think "so what?" or something even less polite, I've spent the past few years missing them terribly. Until now.
You see, The Bat has always made the classic Fannie Farmer raised (yeast) waffles, which take all day to prepare, and I'm not generally an early riser (unless you're one of the few who think the crack of noon is too early to pour oneself out of bed). This means that, in my version of the wee hours, as I continue to saw wood, she mixes up what is, essentially, a sourdough starter… using regular flour. The stuff from the wheat grain. The stuff which gives me migraines and other health issues.

So, normally, when she makes waffles, I get scrambled eggs. NTTATWWT*, but I missed those waffles, and watching Pop drown his in butter and syrup while I nibbled at an eggy fluff...well, I think there's something about it in the Geneva Conventions.

So, a little over a month ago, I planted a seed of an idea, that we could experiment with my many different Gluten-Free flours, and have a family feast on the experiment. After all, most batters using rice and/or bean flours are better if they're allowed to stand and steep in their juices a bit before cooking or baking, and they often give an even more certain crispness than the temperamental wheat why not?

Then, last week, I took out of the freezer and left on the counter my most commonly-used flour mixture, my Bob's Red Mill GF AP flour, and waited.

This morning (well, midday, really) when I arose, she already had the starter going. (This is but one of the many reasons I love my mommy.)

Halfway through the afternoon, we could both see that the recipe needed a little tweaking.  She upped the amount of yeast to double, and I added some xanthan gum (it's not crucial, but it helps build the necessary bonds for a tender, porous core). In another hour, the starter was bubbling and ripening nicely.

By half an hour before supper time, the batter was perfect.

There was also a pound of bacon stretched across a rack on a baking pan in the oven, turning crispy. It was a nice, simple, Sunday supper.

One last bite or two, to sop up the remaining maple syrup. Waste not, want not…
I was in heaven.

Too bad for the dog, we aren't going to share with him.

Hope, soon to be dashed
I get the leftovers. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Raised (Sourdough Yeast) Waffles


1/4 cup lukewarm water
4 1/2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast (or 2 packets)

2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups GF all-purpose flour (you may need to add 1/8 teaspoon or so of xanthan gum, if your flour blend doesn't already have it)

2 eggs
pinch baking soda


In a large mixing bowl, combine the water and yeast. Allow to stand 5 minutes, then add the milk, melted butter, salt and sugar.

Beat in the 2 cups flour. Cover, and let stand in a warm place 8 hours or overnight.

Prepare and heat the waffle iron.

Add in the 2 eggs and pinch of baking soda. Beat well. The batter will be very thin. Cook according to your waffle iron's directions.

Batter UP! (The ladle is navy surplus. The Bat really likes using it.)

Serve hot, with melted butter and your favorite syrup, fresh berries, or warmed jams/preserves (to make them more easily spreadable, and to avoid unnecessarily cooling the lovely, lovely hot, fresh waffles).

Serves 5-6.

The first little round one stuck to the iron, so it got kind of crumbled & bent. Tasted like a waffle, though, so, no complaints. 

*NTTATWWT:  Not That There's Any Thing Wrong With That