darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
I think I've perfected this recipe. Thought I'd take some pictures and share them.

Oatcakes

Illustrated. )
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
Thanks to an excellent recipe from [personal profile] highlyeccentric over on [community profile] omnomnom, I have made a cake this evening.

I don't bake much any more--just not enough room in the diet for having actual baked goods in the house to tempt me, and not enough other people around to take them off my hands--but this evening was just a convergence of craving and ingredients and the urge, so I did it.

Jaffa cake with orange tinged white chocolate ganache frosting )
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
I found Garam Masala Chocolate Ginger Cookies via this post by [personal profile] aquinasprime in [community profile] omnomnom, and instantly changed my office party potluck plans from Crack Pie to these little darlings.

(For those who don't know, as I didn't know: The composition of garam masala differs regionally, with wide variety across India. Some common ingredients are black & white peppercorns, cloves, malabar leaves, long pepper (also known as pippali), black cumin (known as shahi jeera), cumin seeds, cinnamon, black, brown, & green cardamom, nutmeg, star anise and coriander seeds. Thank you, Wikipedia. I sent a donation.)

Oh my lord, they're good. Spicy, warm, dark, crisp... I made up the dough last night and baked a trial of four cookies, two snowflakes and two teddy bears. The snowflake I ate was excellent.

Like most gingerbread-style cookies, these aren't super rich (and would probably be just as good with a third less butter), so the calorie count per cookie is reasonably low--100 or so, not counting frosting, which I haven't added yet. I made them gluten-free with excellent results.
darkemeralds: Manga-style avatar of DarkEm with caption Hee (cartoony me)
The barometer is, evidently, skyrocketing and the shower scene music from Psycho is a fairly apt representation of the way my inner ears feel right now.

And speaking of the shower scene music from Psycho, is anyone else loving Scott Caan in Hawaii 5-0? He's just such a banty rooster. I like the show way better than I thought I would, mostly because of him. Which is strange because little stocky blond cock-of-the-walk attitude guys usually aren't at all to my taste.

And speaking of taste, I made a gluten-free lime pound cake yesterday, mostly while listening (again) to [personal profile] pandarus' fabulous The Student Prince. (Really, some of the most stand-up-and-cheer fiction I've ever read, fan- or otherwise! Highly, highly recommended.) The cake came out yum, and now the limey deliciousness reminds me of the terrific payoff scene where Arthur grants the interview, which I was listening to while applying lime glaze.

And speaking of payoffs: I just watched episode 12 of Rubicon. Wow. Just, wow. That show! I've never encountered that kind of slow-building, totally controlled long-arc story on television before, and holy crap, did it ever pay off in this latest ep! It was a brilliant, dark climax to the arc, and will be the starting point for a scary and exciting new arc. Amazing writing and acting.

And speaking of writing, Restraint chapter 39 is almost done at last.
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
My nephew and I made Napoleons last night. See what I did there with the subject line?

I have conquered gluten-free puff pastry, you see. I had half a batch in the fridge (the first half having gone to make little test crackers), and I wanted to use it up before it went off. So I told my nephew, who's getting to that always-hungry age, that I was going to make Napoleons, and would he like to help out and then eat them?

"What're Napoleons?"

"They are delicious stacks of puff pastry layered with rich vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate-striped fondant."

Nephew, being a sensible boy who has been raised on good food, a) actually knew what I was talking about in that description and b) instantly perceived its appeal.

We ran to the store for a few things, then came back and he read me the recipe and measured stuff (in between playing with his iPhone and talking to me about Halo Reach), and by and by we had these sort-of Napoleons.

The pastry cream was too thin--more of a crème anglaise, really. We could not be bothered with fondant, so settled for powdered-sugar icing. The chocolate stripes were more like little blobs ("polka dots," we decided), and the result was incredibly messy and the portion had to be served in a bowl, with more custard spooned over the top to make up for what smooshed out upon cutting.

It was not photogenic, so I didn't photograph it.

But oh sweet mother of Jesus, it was delicious. The puff pastry (made from rice and tapioca flours, mostly) was absolutely perfectly croustillant--it crackled between the teeth with the most delicious crunch, and stayed crisp even in the face of the too-thin pastry cream. The pastry cream was rich and sweet and vanilla and cold. Eating this thing was dessert heaven.

Nephew and I each had a portion, then my 17 year old niece came over and she and I split what was left. She agreed that this was one of the greater family pâtisserie achievements ever.

Then I went to bed, and oh the dreams I had. The tossing and turning. The noise of my brain. I awoke this morning with a genuine, honest-to-badness hangover from the sugar. It took me two quarts of water, two ibuprofen, and two large cups of black coffee to begin to feel like a real girl again.

It's been a long time since I sugared out like that. Makes me realize how far I've come, because I used to be in that state, like, most of the time.

So will I be making gluten free Napoleons again? Oh hell yes. But I'll make them presentable, so that I can present them to others before they kill me.
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
I followed the recipe for Gluten Free Puff Pastry pretty faithfully, but sadly, it did not result in puff pastry.

More like crispy critters. )

Pie!

May. 3rd, 2010 04:07 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
The sheer bliss of a Monday off--the third day in a three day weekend--is exceeded only by the sheer bliss of HAVING TUESDAY OFF TOO! \o/

The training schedule from hell last week took a larger chunk out of me than I anticipated: it was like jet lag without the jet, for five days in a row. Even though I went to bed early and got as many hours' sleep as I generally get, they were the wrong hours, and I was all out of whack.

I'm rested up now and doing some wonderful writing (I mean, I'm feeling wonderful about it--haven't read it yet to know whether it's crap), and in the breaks, I've made little gluten-free chicken pies.

Pie! Warning: SO not vegetarian. )

Cake

Apr. 21st, 2010 10:02 pm
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
I'm having mixed success with gluten-free baking (though so far, I'm having no trouble in general staying gluten-free). Scones and biscuits have been mediocre at best, and I've had some fair cookies. I haven't even TRIED yeast bread yet. But I think I've just about conquered the loaf cake.

This evening I decided to make a chocolate one, more or less based on the GF pound cake recipe I've been testing. It's fairly dense (but by no means a Tempur-Pedic mattress like the last one), fairly moist, sturdy enough to slice without falling apart, and it's good and chocolatey with no need for frosting.

It's a simple cake. )
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
Inspired by the possibilities that my teff-flour pancake last night laid before me, I cranked out a batch of Everything muffins this afternoon--everything but the wheat gluten, anyway.

My original recipe calls for whole wheat flour and wheat bran--I subbed teff flour and oat bran--and makes a dozen rather heavy, hearty, filling breakfast muffins.

Recipe! Picture of food! )
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
I just made some gluten-free crackers. They aren't bad. They contain, on a foundation of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Flour (which is mostly garbanzo and fava bean flour):
  • toasted white sesame seeds
  • brown rice flour
  • toasted black sesame seeds
  • poppy seeds (caraway seeds would be good too)
  • almond flour
  • coconut flour
  • potato starch
  • parmesan cheese
  • a little butter (coconut oil next time, I think)
  • a little flaxseed oil (maybe some flaxseeds next time?)
  • an egg
  • a little curry powder
  • a spoonful of Marmite
  • baking soda
  • black pepper
  • xanthan gum
I sort of threw dry things in the bowl, then added fats and egg and water till it all stuck together.

Rolled out thin, cut into circles, and baked slowly till dry, they're pretty tasty, and they have a nice crunch. The texture is a bit sandy, but I'm beginning to realize that that's just a hazard of GF baking, because the flours that have any body at all are highly fibrous. I don't love the distinctly beany flavor of the bean-based flours, but I don't hate it, and using the much tastier coconut and almond flours would be too expensive.

I'd post a picture of them but they're just beige circles with black speckles. They taste good with sharp cheddar cheese on 'em, and I bet they'll be good with tuna, too.
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
I'm on a new adventure. The oft-repeated advice from any number of healthcare practitioners to consider giving up wheat finally sank in. I think it was a comment from [personal profile] lamentables about whether my fabulous and delicious Elvis Cake could be recreated in a gluten-free version that tipped the balance.

"Gluten-free," like "no wheat", has always evoked for me such a dismal and joyless foodscape that I've tried for years to pretend that wheat is just fine and not a problem for me, when it seems clearly to be. I don't meet the symptom profile for celiac disease, or even for wheat intolerance, and yet, being wheat-free for the past week or so has left me feeling so much better that I might as well just keep doing it.

But to face an indefinite wheat-free future, I will need pound cake. )

Elvis cake

Jan. 27th, 2010 09:41 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Do you like pound cake? )

I glazed mine with some lemon-powdered-sugar glaze while it was still warm from the oven.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
A couple of weeks ago, [livejournal.com profile] emungere posted a link to this Chocolate Coffee Gingerbread Cake, and I tried it. The results were intriguing enough that I tried it again today with a few modifications.

OMG this might be the best cake I've ever made.

Have a look! )

Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] emungere, for the inspiration!

Cake

Jan. 2nd, 2010 10:58 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
There's something about January that makes me want cake. Simple, not-too-sweet, unfrosted cake. The kind you slice thin and eat with coffee in the morning.

So I made the classic pound cake recipe from my favorite cookbook, Cooks Illustrated's Baking, with the addition of ground hazelnuts and nutmeg, two ingredients that make many things better.

It's almost baked... )
Man, this is tasty.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
This may be the one. A tentative OMGsquee for the latest test of the chocolate-filled shortbread pillows--now tentatively named Pandoras. (My mom came up with that. I like it.)

The secret ingredient: Italian hazelnut paste.

Holy moley that stuff is good. It's hazelnuts, ground between steel rollers to the smooth, liquid consistency of heavy cream. The flavor is dark and deep. I mixed a tablespoon of it with two tablespoons of melted Belgian milk chocolate, and used the result (kind of an uber-Nutella) to fill my test cookie.

I got the dough just right this time by adding an extra handful of rice flour, and rolling it a tiny bit thicker than last time. The result was crisp and golden, and sturdy without being tough. The filling didn't shrink or seep out or burn during baking, and it had enough body not to moosh out messily when I cut into the finished cookie.

Yes, cookie. I just made one. I ate it or I'd post a picture. It was delicious.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Ganache-filled shortbread pillows, Trial Number Three, was a tiny batch of eight cookies, which kind of fell apart before I could photograph them. (The crumbs were tasty, though).

Trial Number Four is approaching the goal. I used 1/16"guide strips to roll the dough, and 1/4" strips to roll the ganache (yes, I rolled it out and cut it--used cocoa powder to dust the rolling pin), and everything came out much nicer.

Big improvements )

I think I'm ready for human trials.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Trial number two of my chocolate-filled shortbread pillows, though not beautiful, was popular with my teenaged nephew. I admit that I managed to choke down most one or two of them myself.

I just made the ganache for trial number three. I think my cream-to-chocolate ratio was a little high--the stuff is cooling and not getting very firm. It's shiny and dark, though, and of course it tastes fantastic, because what's not to like in Valrhona dark chocolate + cream?

If it fails to set up, I shall be left with no choice but to use it as sauce on coffee ice cream. Damn.

Cookies!

Apr. 26th, 2009 02:52 pm
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
There's the serious stuff in life, and then there's inventing cookies.

I'm trying to invent bite-sized chocolate-filled shortbread pillows. (Why? Because I bought this silicone mold and I wanted to use it for something.) I think I'll call them "coussins ganâchés" because yes, I can totally invent French words.

I've tried sealing ground-up milk chocolate inside the dough, but it got a little burnt in baking. Then I tried Scharffen-Berger chocolate-hazelnut ganache. It held up much better to the heat, but my dough was too thin for it.

Here's a picture of trial number two. )

Round three will be whenever I recover from the chocolate OD and get the urge again.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Meet my new bloghome! Politicook: Food for the Progressive Soul. I've been asked to be an editor there! Go me. (Here's one of my posts.)

The decluttering of my life and my diet has revolutionized me, and I've been doing a great deal of thinking (and blogging) about food--about its pleasures and powers, and about how simple and rich my life is becoming as a result of spending more time at the market, in my garden, in my kitchen, and at the table.

The transformation has happened so quickly, and so unexpectedly, that I'm still not able to quantify it. I keep trying to write about it, so far without much success.

So I'll just say this: in contrast to my normal, dreary Sunday evening of yore--a.k.a. The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul--this Sunday evening [livejournal.com profile] avventura1234 and two of her kids came over joined me in eating spinach salad and fresh chicken soup with homemade noodles out in the back yard, while we talked about gardens, politics, and the possibility of living without a car.

And I just took two loaves of whole wheat bread in the oven. My house smells like heaven.

Yum )

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