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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Homemade Gluten-Free Puff Pastry - made easy!

This recipe is easy AND requires little clean-up!  I'm quite pleased with the outcome of this puff pastry.  Will I still try to locate higher quality butter so it doesn't turn scaly in appearance during rolling? Yes. Will it likely make a difference in the end product? Yes. Does this recipe still work wonderfully despite this? Yes!  I've added a pinch of baking powder into the dough, and also used instant yeast.  Both seem to help facilitate the ease in which the dough reacts to the rise during baking.   According to the wonderful book "Baking by Hand" by the owners of the Salem, MA based bakery A&J King Artisan Bakers (SO not gluten-free, but absolutely wonderful - so if you can eat gluten, go there and eat some for me, please!) - they actually use a bit of quick yeast AND baking powder in their puff pastry dough, to give it a bit of extra rise.  I figure if they can do it, I can do it.  It definitely adds a bit of extra rise to the dough, while still maintaining the flakiness from all the folded layers.  Win-win! Good luck and enjoy!
A puff pastry danish topped with vanilla peach jam (from my friend Julie - Thanks Julie!). Yum!
A picture of the flakiness of the homemade puff pastry

Homemade Gluten-Free Puff Pastry!
Makes enough for ~12-20 pastries (size dependent)

In a large bowl, combine by hand:
1 cup sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 1/4 tsp instant/quick yeast
6 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Mix in using a large spoon, just until thoroughly combined:
3/4 cup warm milk
1 egg, RT
1 egg yolk, RT
4 Tbsp coconut oil 

Roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap to ~10"x18"
On 2/3 of the dough, put thin slices of
~2/3 cup high quality butter, chilled & thinly sliced.

Fold the bare side of dough in on top of the middle of the dough.  Then fold in the other side on top of that.  You have what I will call "Letter 1".  Wrap your dough packet/letter in the 2 sheets of plastic wrap.  Put in the freezer for 15 minutes.

This begins your folding/chilling/rolling portion of your recipe.  You will fold and chill 4 times.  I like to think of this like follows:  You will make FOUR letters out of your dough.  A letter is when you fold the dough up in thirds, like you would fold a piece of paper or a letter into thirds to put it in the envelope.   I used the same two pieces of plastic wrap the entire time.

After 15 minutes, remove Letter 1 from the freezer.  Unwrap, and place on plastic wrap, as shown below. Roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap to create a rectangle of the same size as your initial rectangle. Be gentle and slow as you roll out the dough, giving the dough and butter time to stretch.  Fold in one side, then the other so you create "Letter 2".  Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze 15 minutes.
1. Letter ready to roll, 2. Rolled slowly to ~10"x18" size, 3. Folded over 1/3 to create a "Letter"

After 15 minutes, remove Letter 2 from the freezer.  Roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap.  Slowly and gently.  Fold in thirds to create "Letter 3".  Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove Letter 3 from the freezer.  Roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap. Slowly and gently. Fold in thirds to create "Letter 4".  Wrap in plastic wrap.

You now have TWO options:
1. Freeze Letter 4 20-25 minutes, then proceed to preparing your puff pastry danishes, or whatever else you were hoping to make.
2. Place Letter 4 in the refrigerator to use sometime in the next couple days.

To create danishes OR tarts from Letter 4, do the following:
Roll Letter 4 between plastic wrap - try to get a slightly larger and wider rectangle than previously.   Work slowly, giving the dough time to stretch along with the butter.  Fold the dough over on itself long-wise down the middle, giving a very long skinny rectangle.  Flatten a bit so the rectangle is even.  Using a pizza cutter, slice off pieces that are slightly smaller than the final danish you want to create.

Roll the small piece between two pieces of plastic wrap.  Using the plastic wrap, fold up the sides to create an edge to your pastry.  Place dough carefully on parchment paper (It should transfer to your hand and then to the parchment paper easily.  (Or you can flip it onto the parchment paper, and fold up the sides using the parchment paper. This is helpful if you're making a larger tart).  Fill with jam or your choice of filling.  You can use sweet or savory, but top lightly so the filling is not too heavy for the pastry dough.
If desired, you can sprinkle the edges with a bit of sugar before baking.
Danish ~6"x6" topped with vanilla peach jam and ready to bake.

Bake at 400F ~12-15 minutes.  Cook until a nice golden brown.  Remove from oven and place tray on cooling rack.  When danish/tarts are cooled enough, carefully transfer parchment paper to a cooling rack to avoid having too much moisture on the bottom of your tart.  Enjoy!
Fresh from the oven! 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Delicious Hearty Bread w/ 3 add-in options

One hearty bread, with three wonderfully delicious options.  There's a spicy jalapeno cheddar, a hearty five seed-filled bread, or a cinnamon raisin bread.  It may be a bit tricky to find sweet potato flour, but if you can locate it, it adds a depth to the taste.  I find it's pricey, but can be stored in the freezer and since the flavor is strong, you just want to use small amounts per recipe, so it goes far.  If you don't have sweet potato flour, you can replace it with extra brown rice or sorghum flour.  This has been a hit with everyone who's tried it.  I had to get it typed up quickly for our good friends who requested the recipe after I brought some to dinner.  p.s. It's great with butter. Enjoy!
Hearty Bread w/ Jalapeno, Cheddar & Cilantro

Delicious Hearty Bread w/ 3 add-in options
Makes 3 mini loaves or 1 large loaf

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter 3 mini loaf pans or 1 large loaf pan.

In a mixer combine:
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup sweet potato flour
1/3 cup arrowroot starch/flour
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp rapid yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt

Add and beat 3-4 minutes:
1 cup warm water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp oil 
2 Tbsp honey 
2 Tbsp maple syrup
3 eggs

Fold in ONE of the following options:
1. Jalapeno Cheddar Bread
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped & loosely packed
1-2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1/2 - 2/3 cup old cheddar, finely chopped (you can use shredded cheese, but I like the larger pieces)
2. Five Seed Bread
2-3 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1 1/2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1-2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
1/2-1 Tbsp poppy seeds
3. Cinnamon-Raisin Bread
Mix together in a small bowl before folding into bread dough:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 tsp water
1/4 - 1/3 cup raisins 

Spread bread into pans, filling them ~2/3 full.  Let bread rise in a warm location ~30 minutes, until the dough is even with the top of the pan.  Bake at 350F for 25 minutes for mini loaves or 40-45 minutes for the large loaf, until nicely browned.

Remove from pan to cool on wire rack.  Slice thin or thick.  Enjoy!
Hearty Five Seed Bread, fresh out of the oven
Tasty Hearty Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Friday, 19 September 2014

Kale or Spinach Pesto Pizza - on the BBQ (or oven) *nut free!

I think I may have a new favorite pizza - topped with homemade pesto of some sort, a bit of mozzarella, ricotta and fresh sauteed veggies.  Yum!  I've made this a number of times now and it's always a big hit - although the kids still seem to prefer normal pizza to one topped with veggies.
Fresh off the grill and ready to eat!  I used flaxseed & chia seeds in these particular crusts.

Kale Pesto Pizza
Serves 4 - makes 2 small/medium sized pizzas

Preheat BBQ to medium-low (~400F) or oven to 425F.

Put 2 small/medium sized homemade pizza crusts on a cooling rack.  Prepare toppings as below.

Sauteed zucchini & onion
In a frying pan over medium heat, saute until just tender:
1-2 Tbsp olive oil 
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
~1/2 - 3/4 cup fresh zucchini or summer squash, thinly sliced
salt & pepper

Set onions/zucchini aside.

Ricotta cheese
In a small bowl, combine:
1/3 cup fresh ricotta cheese
salt & pepper

Spread on each small pizza crust with the following:
homemade kale pesto OR homemade spinach-basil pesto (~3 Tbsp per pizza)
ricotta cheese, small dollops around pizzas
freshly sliced mozzarella, spread lightly
sauteed zucchini & onions
grated Parmesan cheese

Cook on BBQ low to medium-low ~5-7 minutes, checking regularly. When toppings are looking close to being done, increase heat to get the bottoms nice and crispy.
Cook in oven at 425F ~7 minutes or until it's melted/crisped as you prefer.

Top with fresh basil, thinly sliced
BBQ'd, sliced, topped with fresh basil and ready to eat! 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Small Pizza Crusts - perfect for the BBQ or Oven

I love pizza. It can be fancy or simple.  I also love having homemade crusts ready to use in the freezer.  However, in general they can be difficult to actually pack up in the freezer since they tend to be too large.  By making smaller crusts, they can be lined between parchment paper (the same you use to bake them on!) and frozen for later use in large ziploc bags.  I just pop them on a wire rack straight from the freezer and by the time I've got all my toppings together, they're defrosted and ready to go!  I find one pizza is typically good for 2 people to share with a salad on the side.  Enjoy!
Topped with homemade sauce, fresh mozzarella, ricotta & colorful cherry tomatoes

Small Pizza Crusts - perfect for the BBQ or Oven
Makes 4 smaller pizza crusts (serves ~6-8)

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper OR silicon mat.  
Preheat oven to 425F. 

In a mixer, combine: 
4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
4 tsp rapid rise yeast (quick-rise yeast)
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)

Add and beat 2-3 minutes, scraping regularly:
2 heaping tsp honey
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 eggs (OR 2 Tbsp chia seeds soaked in 6 Tbsp water for a few minutes)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

You'll be making 2 crusts per cookie sheet. Divide dough onto pan in 4 even amounts onto 2 pans lined with parchment paper.  Wet your hands with water and use wet hands to spread the dough over the sheet.  Keep getting more water on hands, as needed. 

Smooth each pizza crust dough into large ovals, taking care they don't run into each other.  Try to shape the crusts with slightly higher edges around the outside.  

Let rest 10-15 minutes.  Bake at 425F ~ 15 minutes, until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.  You can use immediately, store on the counter, layered between parchment paper in a plastic bag for a couple days, or freeze, layering between parchment paper in large ziploc bags to use later.
Fresh out of the oven. They tend to shrink down a little as they cool.

BBQ cooking: 
When ready to use, top with desired toppings. Cook directly on the BBQ rack over low to medium heat.  I find cooking at a lower heat initially helps allow the toppings to cook/melt and then you an increase the heat to let the bottom crisp up a bit more.  Place on a wire rack when done.  You can put on a cutting board to quickly slice, then return to wire rack to serve.


Oven cooking: 
Top pizzas and cook directly on rack at 425F ~7-8 minutes, until done.  Place on a wire rack when done. You can put on a cutting board to quickly slice, then return to a wire rack to serve.

Fresh off the grill, sliced and ready to eat!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Baby Back Ribs on the BBQ

These ribs are amazing and SO easy.  I've made them several times now and am constantly amazed by a couple things, 1. how fast they are to BBQ, and 2. how delicious they are.  I based them off a Weber recipe, but I don't bother with the wood chips.  And yet, they are still fantastic! Yay!  You can use whatever your favorite BBQ sauce is, or I've included a recipe for one you can whip together while the ribs are doing their 1 hour cooking time.
Cooking these wrapped in foil eliminates burning and gives a tender meat, but watch closely once you remove from the foil and add the BBQ sauce - the sugars in the sauce on top of the flame are what can burn quickly.

Baby Back Ribs on the BBQ
Based off this recipe by  Takes ~1 hour 20 minutes start to finish.
Serves 4-6

You can use whatever BBQ sauce you like, or you can whip up your own while the ribs are doing their 1 hour cook on the BBQ.  I've put my version of an easy BBQ recipe below.*

Preheat your BBQ to medium heat. I aim to ~400F.

Mix together the following to dry rub on the front and back of the ribs:
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp ground pepper

Remove the membrane from the back of 2 racks of baby back ribs (~2 lbs).  These are great, clear picture of how to remove the membrane.

Rub the front and backs of the ribs generously with the dry rub.

Wrap each rack of ribs in their own foil packet.  Then, wrap them again in another foil packet, so they have a good double wrap on them.

Cook the packets on the BBQ directly over the medium heat (with the lid closed) for 1 hour total, turning the rib packets over every 15 minutes so they cook evenly.   Remove from heat.  Take the ribs out of the foil packets, brush with BBQ sauce and return to the grill for 10 minutes.   I like to turn them every 2-3 minutes, basting with extra BBQ sauce for each turn.

Remove from the grill, let rest 5 minutes and ENJOY!!!!

BBQ Sauce Recipe

In a small pot, combine the following over medium heat.  Simmer ~25 minutes.
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp hot sauce (I use a locally made habanero sauce, which adds a nice kick - adjust depending on how spicy you want your sauce).  
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp GF soy sauce (Bragg's works well)
1 Tbsp dark molasses
2 tsp dry mustard
1/3 cup sucanat sugar OR brown sugar
ground pepper, to taste (optional)

Use for any BBQ sauce needs.  You can store the extra in a tupperware in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Homemade Blueberry Fritters! (with plain OR cream cheese glaze)

We love fresh blueberries here, particularly the tiny, sweet low-bush blueberries.  They're delicious in all sorts of recipes - blueberry pie, jams, blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry bagels.  But, there's something fun about eating blueberries in blueberry fritters.  I was inspired to whip some up when my sister told me she happily enjoyed a tasty blueberry fritter (not GF) at a new donut place near her in Texas.  It seemed appropriate to whip up some myself so we, too, could enjoy blueberry fritters! Enjoy!

Fresh blueberry fritters with a cream cheese glaze
Fresh blueberry fritters with plain glaze

Homemade Blueberry Fritters! (with plain OR cream cheese glaze)
Makes ~24 small fritters

Mix together in mixer:
2 cups Kristin's Gluten-Free Flour Mix
1 1/2 tsp quick (rapid-rise) yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix in a beat 3-4 minutes:
1 cup buttermilk *see note below to make your own (lactose-free, even!)
1 egg (or 2 medium-sized eggs, for a bit richer consistency)
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Fold in:
1-2 cups fresh blueberries (small, sweet berries are best)

Cover bowl and let rise in a warm location ~1 hour.

In a large, frying pan w/ high sides heat 1 - 1 1/2" frying oil of your choice over medium-high heat.  Once oil is heated (you can check by dropping in a tiny piece of dough - it should start bubbling and start browning within ~1 min), use a medium-sized cookie-scoop to drop 2 Tbsp size scoops into the oil.  Scoop gently so you don't deflate the dough.
Cook ~6-8 fritters at a time so you don't cool the oil.  They should cook ~2 minutes per side (~4 minutes total) until nicely browned.  Remove from heat and place on a wire rack.  Glaze (2 recipes below) while still hot.  Glaze can be applied with a spoonful over each fritter or by quickly dipping the fritters. (I prefer to just spoon it on).

Plain Glaze:
Mix together:
1 oz hot water
1 cup powdered sugar (more, if you want a thicker glaze)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)


Cream Cheese Glaze:
2 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
pinch salt
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
milk, to desired consistency
A fresh blueberry fritter, packed with delicious tiny blueberries

*To make 1 cup buttermilk: 
In a 1 cup measuring cup add 2-3 tsp white vinegar OR fresh lemon juice.  Add milk (lactose-free works) up to 1 cup.  Let rest 3-5 minutes.  

Friday, 5 September 2014

Fresh Kale & Basil Pesto - Nut Free!

Our organic veggies CSA (community supported agriculture) has been growing several varieties of kale for us this summer.  They also regularly have been providing us with fresh basil (in addition to the plants they gave us to plant at home at the start of the season). I just can't bring myself to like the kale chips so many rave about, but I find kale is great sauteed with some onion.  It mellows the flavor.  I have been using it like I would spinach.  I've used in quiche, mixed in with pasta sauce, pesto pasta salad, or as a topping for twice-baked potatoes.   One of my absolute favorite dishes we've been making this summer is pizza on the BBQ topped with pesto, fresh mozzarella and a few additional sauteed veggies thrown on top (generally red onion and a little zucchini).  I decided to try tweaking the spinach basil pesto I'd been making and use kale instead.  The best part is - no one noticed!  They loved it and just figured it was the same pesto they've been enjoying all summer! Best part is, it's nut-free, so you can eat it, mom! Enjoy!
Freshly made Kale & Basil Pesto

Fresh Kale & Basil Pesto - Nut Free!

Blend together in a food processor:
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh Kale
3/4 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 - 2 tsp dried basil (optional, but adds a little more emphasis on the basil flavor)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup grated romano cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp ground pepper
1/3 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (adjust as desired, since it tends to depend on how you packed/measured your kale & basil leaves)

Store in the refrigerator 1 - 2 weeks - add a dollop of extra olive oil on top so it's fully coated on top. Or, freeze up to a month (mine never lasts longer than that).  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Fresh Summer Tomato & Basil Soup

We've had SO many wonderfully beautiful tomatoes lately, courtesy of our veggie CSA Heartbeet Organics. They grow all these amazing varieties.  This soup was just lovely, filled with plenty of fresh tomato taste.  You can even freeze leftovers, too! My friend Julie suggested freezing soups and broths in glass canning jars - leaving a bit of room at the top for expansion. Such a great idea, and it makes it easy to defrost soups or broths in your refrigerator, too!   I prefer tomato soup with fresh grilled cheese - here we used extra old cheddar from COWS (a PEI ice cream & cheese place) and some homemade white sourdough bread. Enjoy!
Beautiful tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and colours! 

Fresh summer tomato & basil soup, served with a hot grilled cheese. Yum! 

Fresh Summer Tomato & Basil Soup
Based on a recipe from Best Ever Comfort Food edited by Bridget Jones
Makes ~7 cups of soup

In a large pot, heat until bubbling:
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp butter

Add and cook until just softened,
1 medium to large onion, finely chopped

Stir in, letting cook 1 minute:
2 lbs ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Fresh tomatoes, garlic cloves & onions
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (or use Asian mushroom seasoning + water)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 - 1/2 tsp harissa paste *see below
salt & pepper

Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Cover the pot halfway with your lid so you don't have too much evaporation.  

Remove from heat.  Add:
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves.

Puree the soup with a stick blender to desired consistency.

Add and stir in:
1/2 - 2/3 cup thick part of canned coconut milk (OR 1/2 - 2/3 cup heavy cream)

Taste & season with additional salt & pepper, adding a touch more harissa if you want a bit more spice.

Serve hot with fresh ground pepper & grilled cheese sandwiches! Enjoy!

*A bit more about Harissa: This amount will add just a touch of depth to the taste, but not spiciness - add a bit more if you want more spice. Harissa is a hot chili paste that incorporate a few others spices as well. It tends to come in small containers, like a small jar.  If you don't have harissa, you can add a small pinch of cayenne powder, or