Gluten-Free (Flourless!) Salted Choloclate Peanut Butter Cookies!

If someone tells you “you get used to being gluten free” they’re either lying or they’re so hungry they’re delusional. Sure, it gets easier and you get used to learning how to eat – but you never really stop wanting that chewy, crunchy, crusty, crispy, doughy texture of true gluten filled products. Sandwiches, pizza, bagels, pasta; I want it all! There are some decent gluten free breads out there (Mariposa Bakery, I thank you) , but left untoasted, the majority of them are just so dry it’s not even worth it.

And dessert? Well that’s the worst! It didn’t matter to much until recently when I developed a sweet tooth. I always prefer ice cream to anything else, but if that’s not available I want something lovely, fresh, and beautiful to share with my other half. Too bad, forget about it. Summer berry tart? No way. Mmmm blackberry pie? I don’t think so. A cookie from one of those gorgeous new bakeries that keeps opening? They’re beautiful, but never ever, ever. Fairly often, here in the Bay Area, there will be a wacky cupcake shop or dessert bar that will offer gluten free options – but it’s usually grainy, chalky, pasty and just not worth it at all.

Finally, though – I think I figured it out!

donecookies

And, coming from one who is not a super baker – they’re so simple!

I use half almond butter/half peanut butter in this recipe, but it’s a fairly flexible recipe. You can use all almond butter, all peanut butter….heck — you can probably use half cashew and half macadamia nut butters if you really want. Or all of one. Or a mix. Get crazy if you want – just stick to nut butters, and keep the ratios the same.

Gluten-Free Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • handful of chocolate chips (app. 30 or so)
  • Super coarse sea salt or a lovely finishing salt for sprinkling (suggested: cypress black salt for great texture and it’s so pretty!)cypress salt

Mix it all (except salt and chocolate chips) togetherdough

Spoon small amounts onto a Silpat or waxpaper lined baking sheet, and sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of salt and press 2-3 chocolate chips into the center.editedcookies

Bake at 350 for approximately 10 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and the center is just set, making sure to turn the tray half way through.

Tips

❧ You MUST let these guys cool well before taking them off the tray.

❧ I strongly recommend using a silpat for these cookies; because they are flourless,       they can tend to be a little delicate and any stickiness can tear them apart.

Oh, yeah, and don’t forget to enjoy them! (Ice cream on top, anyone????)

 

 

 

Stuffed Crescent Rolls: The Best Way To Clean Out Your Fridge

doneplated

Usually this would be offered to you with a recipe for the most beautiful crescent roll dough, especially with my new Kitchenaid in tow. However, I recently ended up with a tube of one of those pre-made pop-open crescent roll tubes – and a fridge full of food.

We all know homemade is better, but we also sometimes have to admit – those pop-open canister crescent rolls are mighty tasty (and so fun to open!). Definitely good enough on their own, they’re also awesome with some chicken, dipped in soup, or like a friend made – as a topping for savory meat pie.  But with a fridge full of cheese, meat, veggies and the tiniest bit of left over fruit – I figured, “how about stuffing them?”

And so, after tearing through the fridge, pulling out most of what was in there and staring at it, I put together the following fillings and combinations: (in no particular order)

1. rasberries (with a pinch of sugar on the dough)

2. salami, fresh mozzarella, a tiny dose of the best horseradish mustard around

3. roasted red beets, black pepper, and Cypress Grove fresh goat cheese

4. roasted potatoes and the remnants of some red pepper and eggplant spread

5. roasted mushrooms and Taleggio cheese (with the tiniest brush of truffle butter on the crust)

6. roasted broccoli and Beemster mild cheddar

7. fresh mozzarella and last night’s anchovy pizza sauce

8. roasted jalapenos and smoked gouda

Roasting all the veggies before putting them in the rolls really makes a difference; because the crescent rolls don’t cook for more than 7-ish minutes, any vegetables inside will stay mostly raw. Raw potatoes, raw jalapenos, raw beets (certainly no good)– the mushrooms and broccoli could work raw, but I recommend making them better by roasting.

You will need:

  • 1 canister pre-made crescent rolls
  • a few veggies from your fridge (anything you have laying around)
  • fresh berries (anything you have laying around)
  • a few tablespoons of a few different cheeses
  • a few slices of tasty meat: salami, prosciutto, ham
  • one egg

To roast the vegetables:

  1. pre-heat your oven to 425
  2. clean and dice each 1/2 beet, 1/2 potato (or anything you are using) very small; clean any cauliflower or broccoli into 4-5 tiny florets; quarter 3-4 mushrooms; half 1 jalapeno down the middle and pull as many seeds out as possible
  3. leaving out red beets, toss and coat all veggies together with olive oil, salt and pepper; toss beets with olive oil, salt and pepper separately to keep from bleeding onto the others
  4. spread veggies evenly onto a sheet tray and roast until slightly browned and cooked through
  5. if some veggies cook first, take them off of the sheet tray and begin cooling

Once the jalapeno is done, try to peel it as best as possible, get the seeds out and very finely chop it:

jalapenoschopped

Once each of the veggies are done, turn the oven down to 375.

While the oven cools, make sure you have all your fillings (berries are cleaned and raw) out and ready and have laid out your little triangles of dough like so:

unrolledunfilled

Now, you can go ahead and start putting the filling on top of the triangles, taking care not to be too generous, as it will squish out the sides as it bakes.

unrolledfilledbetter

Next, roll them up gently and set them aside for a quick second.

Separate one egg, discard the white and use a fork to lightly scramble the yolk.

Finishing Touches

Use a pastry brush to put a thin coat of egg yolk on both sides of each roll (unless you are using any flavored butter, in which case see below).

If using any butter, melt it gently just enough to be able to brush it on, but not enough for it to be hot, and brush it on in place of the egg wash.

Sprinkle the top of the berry roll with a pinch of sugar, and the beets/goat cheese with a pinch of black pepper, the mozzarella and pizza sauce with a pinch of crushed red pepper.

rolleduncooked

Place the rolls gently on a baking sheet (I recommend using a Silpat or parchment paper beneath for easy clean up if the cheese or anything else melts out) and get them in the oven, baking until golden brown.

donerollsunplated

Let cool to the bite and dive in!

Search through your own fridge and see what you can find to fill a few rolls – I guarantee you’ll find plenty of treats and combinations to play with!

halfeaten

 Have fun and enjoy!

Choose Your Own Baking Adventure: Banana Walnut, Carrot, or Blackberry Cardamom Bread


I’m no master baker by any means; without a sweet tooth to call my own I generally stay on the savory end of the kitchen. Baking also requires a certain kind of attention to detail and scientific organization that after the daily patience my day job requires, I just can’t hang with. But I’ll tell you – you could be missing an arm and think a whisk is is some kind of sex toy and still be able to make this bread awesome! You can even get creative with it and use your savory skills to combine flavors without opening your oven door to yet another baking catasrophe.

Apart from being a quick simple recipe, the delicious secret to it is FRESH spices. If you’re using cinnamon and nutmeg, don’t use the janky stale powdered stuff that’s been sitting in your cabinet since three Thanksgiving’s ago when you made pumpkin pie. Get a zester or fine grater, some cinnamon sticks, and a hard nutmeg nut and make yourself sneeze with the freshness.
If you’re using cardamom, toast the fresh seeds quickly on the stovetop (not pods, but for extra freshness, you can get pods and crush them to extract the seeds) and grind them in a spice grinder (which you have already, right? It’s just a little coffee grinder that you use for spices instead of coffee….)

Get this together:

1 cup smashed banana, ¾ cup toasted chopped walnuts (or)
1 cup grated carrots (or)
1 cup semi-smashed blackberries , 3/4 cup oats

      (or….):

1 cup any fruit, veggie, etc (wet ingredient that you choose and up to 3/4 cup any nuts, oats, small chopped dried fruit, coconut, choco/butterscotch/peanut butter chip or combination thereof that your heart desires

And here’s how to do it:


1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease 9×5 pan or (2) 6×3 pans

2. Mix 1 ¾ flour ¾ c sugar 1t each baking powder and salt and ½ t baking soda cinnamon nutmeg in large bowl (except blackberry bread, replace with a couple pinches cardamom), add dry ingredients (nuts, oats, dried fruit, coconut etc)

3. In separate bowl whisk 2 eggs, 1/2 c cooled melted butter or vegetable oil, ½ c. yogurt or sour cream, 1t vanilla, stir in wet stuff and fold into dry mixture until nicely combined.

4. Spread batter in pans and bake until tooth pick comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack bout 30 min, then pop out to cool the rest of the way, on a rack.

5. Eat it!

Candy Lollipops – with (or without) Booze!

You can get lollipops anywhere; big ones the size of your head at the carnival, semi-questionable corn-syrupy ones from Walgreens, germ ridden 6 month old freebies from the receptionists desk at work (my personal favorite) – but did you realize you can make your own!? You can make them tasty, you can make them pretty, you can make them big, or you can make them small. And you can make them with booze, which is what this little post is all about. It’s not too difficult, and it’s definitely fun as shit!

The inspiration for this came from Argentina. The last time we were in Buenos Aires, we went to La Vineria De Gualterio Bolivar. The chef from La Vineria is from Spain and built his career at El Bulli with Ferran Adria – the pope of molecular gastronomy. (If you don’t know Ferran Adria or El Bulli, take a peep at this video of Ferran Adria explaining some of what he does. The translator is one of my favorite chefs, Jose Andres, who was the sous chef there at El Bulli before he moved to the US and opened his own mindblowing restaurants in Washington D.C.) Needless to say, I was somewhere between “hyped” and “hysterically enthralled” to be eating food from a guy who learned to cook there, at what is recognized as the best restaurant in the world.

The meal was somewhere around 14 courses with wine pairings (which is why I can’t remember exactly how many courses it was). Three dessert courses and one of ’em was a big huge spun sugar looking lollipop. Though it wasn’t the tastiest part of the meal, it was the prettiest and most playful part – I fell in food love with this gorgeous lolli!

Yes, I fell in with a piece of candy – and had to made it happen with my own hands. Unlike the rest of the meal at La Vineria, making some lollipops at home is really no feat of molecular gastronomy. But you do have to pay some close attention and I hope you have a strong dishwasher.

Take a peek, there’s a decent instructional video on making lollies on Howcast.

You could do it their boring way, with plastic forms that you can get fairly cheap at Sur la Table – but just so you know, they don’t work very well. So instead, why not have some fun and try some playful artsy free forms:

You will need:

    Silpat (silicone cooking sheet) or wax paper coated with non-stick spray. I strongly suggest getting a silpat, though. They’re magical, nothing works quite like one. You’ll thank me.

    Lollipop sticks

    Candythermometer that goes up to 300 degrees

As well as:

    2/3C. water
    2C. white sugar
    1/4t. cream of tartar

    1. Mix the ingredients together and bring to a boil.

    2. Boil for about 10 minutes without stirring until it turns an amber color. It should reach 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can spoon a bit out and dip it into an ice bath; if it solidifies real quick, it’s ready.

    3. Remove it from heat and add the booze you choose (also color, if you like). Add 1-2 ounces of alcohol, depending on the strength and flavor of your choice. Fun ones to try are peppermint or other flavored Schnapps, Sambuca, Fernet, Cointreau, Red Stagg Black Cherry Whiskey, just to name a few. These ones that I did are with peppermint Schnapps.

    4. Make sure your sticks are laid out on your silpat or wax paper ahead of time, and right away start spooning the thick sugar water on top of them with some pizzazz! If the lollipop syrup starts to thicken or harden too much, put it back on the heat for a minute to loosen it up.

    5. Let them cool like this for 20 minutes, or until solid, then peel carefully off and wrap in pretty little wrappers that you can get at Sur la Table. If they seem a little soft, keep them in the fridge. Depending on the amount of sugar in the alcohol you use, it will sometimes keep the syrup for fully hardening.

    And now you have pretty little homemade lollies!

Deconstructed Apple Pie (Apple Sauce and Ice Cream)

Somehow, my parents have managed to turn a one story, suburban Orange County home into a beach town mini-farm. Citrus trees, apple trees, a garden of herbs and veggies, a bay leaf tree bigger than my stupid city apartment, flowers, homemade sausage, vinegars and beautiful handcraftedfurniture that my dad makes in the garage. Whenever I visit, I spend a lot of time sitting the back patio, staring at their small pond and sighing to myself about my dirty white carpet, electric stove and monthly rent that is higher than their mortgage. I do, however, also get to reap a few benefits from their luscious harvests, including a few pounds of these beautiful apples:
Look at the varied colors and stripes. So pretty!

Last weekend, they sent me home with a couple pounds of these ladies. I was undecided about what I wanted to do – first I was going to make a jalapeno-mint-apple jelly, but I don’t really use jelly. I could make one or two pieces of toast, use it to experiment with an apple glaze for pork, can it and use it for x-mas gifts and thanksgiving din-din (uh, now that I think about it, actually, I have more uses than I though. Dammit!) I also thought of pies and crisps and having a pie party, or giving apple butter a try. In the end though, I decided on apple sauce. I’m not big into eating apple sauce, but I’d never made it before and I’m always up for something new. My parents have so many apples they don’t know what to do with them, so my dad makes apple sauce a couple times a month (seriously, they have that many) and gave me his recipe; I don’t know what they do with it all. I followed his instructions, but added vanilla and butter and used lemon zest instead of orange juice. I think the orange juice would be super yummy, but I didn’t have any oranges on hand. If you want to do it with orange, leave out the lemon zest and substitute with the juice of half a large orange just toward the end of cooking (no seeds, please). Another option for adding orange is to zest a bit on top of the finished dessert. The crumbled cookies are meant to replace the crust, so treat them as such, distributing it so you get a little bit in every bite and by all means, don’t be afraid to put some under the sauce and ice cream itself.

The absolute worst part of this recipe is that you most definitely have to peel and core the apples. I know it sucks, but just turn on an episode of Real Housewives or some other bullshit garbage and you’ll be done before the drunken bitch slapping turns into Teresa cutting her children with shards of broken martini glasses for the life insurance money. If you don’t have an apple corer, just cut the meat of it off the core into cubed chunks.

Deconstructed Apple Pie


For the sauce, you will need:

    this many apples

    (that’s about two lbs, peeled, cored and diced large)

    a little water in the bottom of the pot
    2.5 sticks of cinnamon, broken in half
    1/3 cup brown sugar
    bout a heaping T of butter
    cap full o f vanilla
    heavy handed pinch of salt
    zest of one limon

    1. Put about 1/3 cup of water in the bottom of a decent sized pot and add all the peeled, cored, and diced apples; place over medium-high heat, cover tightly.

    2. When the apples start to soften (5-7 minutes) add broken cinnamon sticks, vanilla, salt and butter, stir often to keep the bottom from burning, keeping covered when you’re not stirring.

    3. Toward the end of cooking (15 minutes) when the apples are really soft, add lemon zest and start smashing with a potato masher.

    4. Take it off heat and continue smashing til it reaches the desired consistency (I recommend fairly lumpy).

For the rest of the dessert, you will need:

    Delicious vanilla ice cream                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cinnamon graham crackers or some other kind of thin, crunchy, crispy wafer-like cookie

    Serve the sauce warm off the stove with a scoop of cold ice cream, crumble some cookie over top, and one or two whole cookie/cracker.

*note: you can easily substitute butter for earth balance (not margarine!) to make the apple sauce vegan, and substitute the ice cream for vegan ice cream.