Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cumin steak with balsamic onions

I made this last night for our (belated) Beltaine feast.  It was so yummy I had to record the recipe so I can make it again!
I don't have exact amounts, mostly because that's not the way I cook, but also because it's a very casual recipe.  The amounts are completely adjustable so you can serve as many or as few as you need.

Begin by rubbing thinnish sirloin steaks with ground cumin, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Flip and rub both sides.  Let sit for 30-45 minutes.  Cut sweet and red onions in half and julienne them.  Set aside so they are ready for the pan when the steaks are done.
Wipe or spray a heavy frying pan with oil and fry steaks over medium heat, flipping until cooked to medium.  Remove steaks to a cutting board, add olive oil to the pan and cook onions until soft.  Slice the steak into thin strips while onions cook.  When onions are soft, drizzle them with honey and balsamic vinegar.  Season lightly with sea salt.  For 2 large onions, I probably used 1/4 cup vinegar and 2 tbsp honey.  When this has reduced slightly to a thick, rich sauce, add the steak back to the pan.  Turn off heat and toss to coat.  Serve the steak and onions with a spring green salad.
I also made up the biscuit recipe I have here but added a small handful of mixed herbs from my garden.  Just chop up and add to the dry ingredients.  I had rosemary, thyme and sage.  It was a fabulous meal.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


When you are dealing with corn allergies, frosting is hard.  If you add dairy, nut, and soy allergies and refuse to use hydrogenated stuff, it's nearly impossible.  I found out that  powdered sugar in the UK is made with rice or tapioca starch and imported some.  Yay!  But, it's not all that practical really.  Once in awhile, someone will have Miss Roben's powdered sugar in stock.  But that  stuff is nearly $6 a pound.  Yikes!  So, we haven't had much frosting around here that is of the white, fluffy variety.
A couple of months ago, I was at a function, eating yummy cupcakes and discussing frosting.  The frosting on these cupcakes was amazing.  So light, and creamy and not overly sweet.  Turns out, there is a little-known frosting called "roux frosting".  Who knew??
I looked in my cookbooks and didn't see anything like it.  I meant to Google it and just never got around to it.  Then a friend asked for a dairy-free, not too sweet frosting and I started looking.  This blog had a recipe I could work from!  It turned out great.  Wonderful!  I'm so excited!  Beautiful, fluffy frosting that doesn't used powdered sugar.  Here's how I did it:

2 Tbsp brown rice flour
dash salt
1/2 Cup coconut milk (or other milk alternative I assume)

Wisk these together until nice and smooth and cook over medium heat.  Don't stop stiring.  It will get super thick like a goopy paste or too-soft playdough.  Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool. DO NOT try to rush it.  And don't think you can use it because it should be "cool enough".  Get it to room temperature.  I stirred mine frequently to keep the heat transfer going.  Putting it in the fridge will lead to failure in your frosting.
When your roux is pretty  much cooled, you can start the next step.  In a larger bowl or the bowl of  your mixer, combine:

1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup coconut oil or Spectrum shortening

Note on the sugar:  I used plain old white  sugar, but I can't think of why you couldn't use rapadura.  You would have to run it through a food processor or blender first though to make it fine enough to work.

Beat it until it is fluffy.  This is critical.  Not just combined, or sorta fluffy, but light as  clouds.  This took me about 4 or 5 minutes of mixing with my hand mixer.  You'll know when it gets there because you'll be all, "wow!  Look at the fluffy sugar!"
At this point and ONLY if your roux is cool, scoop all the roux in there.  Start beating.  It will look like a total mess a few minutes into this process.  Don't give up and just keep going.  Suddenly, your frosting will start looking creamy and fluffy and wonderful.  At this point you can add flavoring.  Vanilla, lemon,  peppermint-- whatever floats your boat.
This frosting is really light.  I did not pipe it, but I think it would do very well.  My only word of caution is this:  Most recipes for this frosting recommend refrigerating it to bring out that butter flavor.  If you have any experience with coconut oil, you should be able predict the outcome of this.  So, keeping it cool is important since coconut oil melts so easily, but refrigerating it is not advised.
Piling it high on cupcakes and cookies is advised though.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Little Plumb Cakes

This is the title from my sweet little cookbook from Williamsburg.  It's called "The Williamsburg Art of Cookery" and is such a gem!
We've just started a unit to learn about Christmas around the world from this lesson plan. The first place is Colonial America.  We made colonial flags, colored maps and talked about Christmas back then.  I wanted to make a traditional cake to put a bean in for a  king/queen for a day thing.  So I looked in my cookbook.  I wasn't paying very close attention to the recipe obviously because it made cookies instead of cakes.  But WOW!  They are quintisential Christmas taste.  So glad I goofed and made them.  I did use the dough that was left after 2 pans of cookies to make a cake from.  I just blended in some coconut milk until it was cake-batter consistency.  It's still in the oven, so we'll see how it turns out.  :-)

Little Plumb Cakes
The note reads (Mrs. Randolf's recipe, 1831. Adapted Blair Kitchen, 1938)

Cream together:
1 C shortening
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten  ( use your standard egg replacement here if you like--I used to just use baking powder and up the liquid a bit)
I added 1 tsp of vanilla as well since I like it

Sift together and add to shortening mixture:
3 C flour (I used 1 rice flour, 1 millet flour, 1 tapioca starch)
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each of allspice and ginger
I also added 2 tsp of guar gum since I used gf flour

Add 1 c raisins and 2 Tbsp chopped candied orange peel (I'll tell you how in just a minute)

Drop by spoonfulls onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.

Now, to make candied orange peel!
Use a vegetable peeler to take the orange part of the peel off the orange.  Holding a paring knife blade perpendicular to the peel, scrape the white pith off the back of the peel.  While you are doing this, have a pan heating with equal parts water and sugar.  Or honey.  I used 3/4 water and sugar for 2 oranges worth of peels.  Put the peels in the boiling water and boil for about five minutes.  A little longer is great too.  Turn off the heat and let the peels cool with the syrup.  Remove the peels and chop them up however you like.  The amazing thing is, you get a bonus of flavored syrup to use however you like!  Put it in your water/soda/coffee/tea.  Put it over ice cream.  Use it instead of sugar syrup somewhere.  Make "orange-aid" by putting it in some cold water.
But don't stop with oranges.  Please!  Lemons, limes and other citrus of course can be substituted.  But I also have made candied chili peppers.  Oh My!  That is good stuff.  Just chop chilies like you would for cooking and candy them using this method.  Try that syrup in a hot cocoa.  mmmmmm

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I have always been a big fan of Mexican, or Tex-mex food. What's not to love? Fresh ingredients, lots of veggies, spicy meat in moderation, beans, and tortillas. Yum. Tortillas. Trouble is, if you're allergic to wheat and corn, that pretty much eliminates tortillas from the diet. Sure, you can find a couple of substitutes, such as Food for Life. But with nut cross-contamination and running close to $4 for 6 tortillas, they are out of the running around here!

Wanting to make real tacos for dinner one night, (or was it fajitas? I don't remember), I was flipping through my cookbooks looking for a recipe to tweak. I found one in The Encyclopedia of Country Living. I played with it a bit and came up with the following recipe. It has served me well for at least 3 years now. I thought I'd shared it here already, but I guess not. Sorry about that!

Nothin' Tortillas

1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup millet flour
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp guar gum
1 cup boiling water

Put everything in a stand mixer--I haven't been able to make this work by hand. Mix it really well. Then let it sit covered for about 5 minutes. Heat a cast iron pan or a griddle a little hotter than you would for pancakes. Do not grease it! Then using a tortilla press*, make your tortillas. Cook them about 30 seconds on each side and transfer to a platter to sit while you make the res.
When you've made them all, cover to "cure" for a little while. If you can wait.
Like many GF foods, these really don't keep well. Which could explain why the store-bought stuff is so gross. But you could try freezing some. I haven't--they never last that long! I do know that you definitely DON'T want to store them in the fridge, as they will get crumbly.
These don't roll very well-about as well as a cooled corn tortilla, but if you use them fresh, you could manage enchiladas okay.
They also fry up pretty well. Tortilla chips anyone?

*You can purchase a cheap tortilla press at any Mexican grocery, international grocery or even a store that caters to a large Hispanic population. I've even seen them in Asian groceries. Go figure. I think I paid less than $10 for mine.
If you don't want to go find one, you can use 2 pieces of plastic wrap with a blob of dough sandwiched inside. Roll out a thin tortilla and proceed as directed.
Either way, cover your tortilla press with plastic wrap and brush/spray it with some oil. This is a soft, sticky dough

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

Looks tasty doesn't it?

I know, I know, it's been forever since I did anything with this poor blog. We switched diets around so my recipes were in such flux. My baby became a very active toddler and I had a baby. I'm just getting back to cooking in a creative sense. Hopefully I'll have some time here and there to tweak my recipes some more and share what successes I have in the kitchen. My big struggle is just with writing down amounts.
I'm trying though. Especially when my husband reminds me that if I keep all that information up in my head, no one else can access it. Which leaves me with 100% of the cooking duty. LOL

So, one of the traditional foods I used to make for Christmas was cinnamon rolls. I'd make batch to enjoy right after Thanksgiving, and then give a pan to all the neighbors close to Christmas. My husband is a HUGE fan of cinnamon rolls. What husband isn't? I've never been able to really get them to work though. Then, as I was trying to make sourdough, I stumbled upon a neat trick with millet. It gets rather pliable when you let it sit for awhile! I started wondering if I could maybe, just maybe get it to roll up.
I can!!
This recipe uses lots of dairy. And I've only made it twice. So, like all my recipes--it's a work in progress. I make no claims other than it worked for me. My plan is to try and make a dairy free version. As always, if you try this, let me know what happens.

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

3 Cups millet flour
2 Cups tapioca flour
1 Tbsp GF instant yeast
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 stick butter-melted
3/4 milk
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon, brown sugar and very soft butter

Mix dry ingredients and add the eggs, butter, milk and vanilla. Beat in an electric/stand mixer for about 2 minutes. Then cover and let rest for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate at least 4 hours--overnight is best. Let warm up to room temperature and soften.
Lay out a sheet of wax paper and dust liberallly with flour. Roll out 1/2 the dough to a large rectangle--about 12x18, but you want it pretty thin. Then spread with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and roll up tightly. Cut into sections approx 1-2 inches. Place in a well greased baking pan and repeat. I had 16 rolls, so enough for my 9x13 plus some extra for a small dish.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about an hour. They won't get as fluffy as the wheat kind, but they should get close to doubled and look soft.
Bake in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes. Watch for browning. Like any cinnamon roll, you don't want them over done. I actually baked mine at 34o for 25 minutes on convect. It may have been just a teeny bit too long. So I'm guessing that 350 for 30 will be about right.
I did mix up a little powdered sugar and milk for a glaze on mine. Just for more sugar. Y'know.
Hubby said these were pretty good. He ate the small dish and I gave away the large pan. I'm curious to hear back. I'm really just excited that I got as far as something that looks like cinnamon rolls!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

White Cake

I had a request for white cake, so here's mine. This turns out really yummy. We "frost" with berries, but sometimes I make a frosting out of honey or rice syrup whipped with palm shortening. It works alright, but it doesn't work as a buttercream substitute very well. I also frosted a cake for my son's birthday last year by thinning the marshmallow creme with some extra water.

Cream 1/2 butter or shortening with 1 1/3 C sugar. I used rapadura or turbinado. Date sugar or maple sugar would work too.
Add 2 tsp vanilla

sift together:
1 1/2 C brown rice flour
1 C tapioca starch
1/2 C arrowroot powder
1/3 C sorghum flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp guar gum
3 tsp baking powder

Add flour mixture to creamed butter/sugar mixture in scoops alternating with 2 C water. Yes, you really do want to do it this way--it makes the cake lighter.
Bake in well greased and floured 9x13 pan in 350F oven for 30-35 minutes. Or in 2 8" round pans for 20-25 minutes. Check center of cake with a toothpick for done-ness.

For a chocolate cake, replace the arrowroot powder with 2/3 C cocoa powder and add 2 tbsp oil. Bake the same.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chicken Curry

We had this tonight and it was yummy. I didn't really measure--but it's dinner. Close enough is good enough, right? If there is a flaw, let me know. Just as with any recipe on here!

2 tbsp coconut oil or other vegetable oil of choice
1" knob ginger-grated
1 clove garlic
1/2 medium onion diced (or 3-4 green onions, sliced thin)
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cumin
1# cubed chicken
2 sliced bell peppers
1 can (2 cups) coconut milk
1 bunch or 1 package clean baby spinach

Heat oil in pan. Add ginger, garlic and onion. Saute for a few minutes, until onion is tender. Add spices and heat until you can smell it well above the pan. Add chicken and cook until done, stirring often. When chicken is just done, add the peppers and coconut milk. Simmer until milk is reduced somewhat and peppers are tender.
In a steamer, pile the spinach and steam for 1 or 2 minutes--until just wilted. You don't want mush, just lots of soft green leaves. Arrange a layer of spinach in each person's bowl and spoon chicken curry over the top. We stirred ours up in our bowls, but you could also do it in the kitchen and serve as a 1 dish meal.
This serves around 4 people.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Quick pork chops

I am always thinking up dinner at the last minute. Not always a good thing for someone who is so limited in ingredient options! But I discovered a new friend in my vacuum sealer. I use the mason jar attachment.

1# pork cutlets
1/2 C tamari-wheat free
3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1# mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp olive oil

Place pork cutlets in a large mason jar. Pour tamari, vinegar, and honey over the top. Seal with the vacuum sealer according to manufacturer's directions. Shake jar well and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
Slice mushrooms and saute in large skillet with oil. When mushrooms have begun to wilt, push to the sides and place pork and marinade in pan. Add additional oil if necessary. I cook on high 3 minutes per side and then reduce heat. Cook until chops reach a temperature of 155-160F, or are a pale pink inside. Serve with mushrooms and pan drippings spooned over the top.

Coconut cookies

2/3 C honey
1/2C Spectrum palm shortening
3/4C millet flour
1/3C coconut flour
2 Tbsp tapioca starch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp quar gum

Cream honey and shortening. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. If the dough is not mixing together or seems too dry, add a little water. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 10-12 minutes. Cool on pan for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.
You can add chocolate chips or flaked coconut if desired (1/3C each) or both! We have also been playing with putting raw cocoa nibs in our cookies and are very pleased with the results.


2/3 c cold water (divided)
2 envelopes (2 tbsp) unflavored gelatin
1 1/3 granulated sugar or rapadura
1/2 cane syrup or brown rice syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
vegetable oil for the pan

If making marshmallows, line a 9x13 pan with foil and brush with oil

Place 1/3 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle gelatin over the surface. Put the sugar, syrup, salt and remaining 1/3 cup water in a heavy saucepan with a tight fitting lid, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cover the pan and place on moderately low heat. Remove the cover after 4 to 5 minutes. The steam will have caused any sugar crystals to dissolve and the syrup will be bubbling lightly. Increase the heat to high, insert a candy thermometer and boil the syrup without stirring until it reaches 240 degrees F. Immediately remove from the heat.
Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Slowly and carefully pour the syrup into the gelatin while the mixer is beating constantly at medium speed. When all of the syrup has been added increase the speed to high and whip for about 10 minutes. The mixture should be lukewarm, white and creamy. Add the vanilla at the end of mixing. At this point you have marshmallow creme. Good for using in all those classic marshmallow creme recipes.
If you want marshmallows, pour into the prepared pan, sprinkle with sugar, and let set out until dry to the touch. Cut to desired shape/size and toss with more sugar. I toss with tapioca starch instead of sugar.

I plan to experiment with this recipe when I get a chance. I haven't used it since my son developed a sensitivity to cane. My plan to to make it out of rice/agave or something else. We'll see what I come up with and I'll update later.