Category Archives: Gluten Free

Day 2: Toffee

Today’s treat is one of my favorite things. From Heath bars to Almond Roca to English Toffee, anything that combines crunchy caramelized sugar with nuts and chocolate is a favorite treat of mine. There are quite a few recipes out there and I considered many of them, but I went back to a tried and true favorite: the Chocolate-Almond Buttercrunch Toffee by David Lebovitz.

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It’s easy and pretty quick. You throw everything in a pot and boil until it is 300 degrees. Watch carefully! I looked away for literally one second when the thermometer registered about 290 and when I looked back, it was almost 310! (p.s. read about my favorite candy thermometer here)

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From there, you do a quick pour over some chopped almonds (wear really good mitts to hold the pot; it’s really hot!) and then toss on a bunch of chocolate chips.

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After the chocolate melts and gets spread around, the rest of the chopped nuts and a sprinkling of salt is added.

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It yields a recipe that is one sided in terms of chocolate, but that’s ok by me. I consider the toffee to be the star and the chocolate plays a supporting role. I made a double batch so that we could give some away as gifts and still feel like we had enough to keep for ourselves.

Don’t forget to leave a comment today to be entered into the giveaway! Do you have a favorite DIY gift idea? Share it in the comments so we can all benefit!

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GF Triple Treat Cookies

The last time I talked about cookies, I was moaning about the fact that I could not seem to find a small chocolate chip cookie recipe that I liked well enough to put on our fund raising list. Eventually, I gave up and decided that our giant chocolate chip cookie recipe really is quite good and would satisfy anyone’s chocolate chip cookie craving.

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So, I moved on and made this cookie. We call it the Triple Treat cookie. It is based on a recipe from Baking, from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan for a cookie called Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters. We didn’t change it much except to add peanut butter chips, change the spice profile, and substitute out the flour for an all purpose gluten free one.

Oh, didn’t I tell you these are gluten free? Oh yes, and they are good. On our fund raiser list, we will have them with gluten as well, but I originally made these as GF, and they are just as tasty as the original. Really, there are just not enough GF recipes in the baking world that are good and easy to make and don’t require a crazy number of expensive ingredients.

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Except for the GF flour and xanthum gum (which is optional), you probably have all this stuff in your pantry already. Be careful with oatmeal, though. To make these truly GF, you will have to search out GF oatmeal. I got mine at Trader Joe’s. Their GF oatmeal seems to be thicker than others, which contributes a chewier texture to the cookie.

We call these the Triple Treat cookies because they have all the traits of three popular cookies: peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate. Eating one of these is like eating three of you favorite cookies in one!

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TRIPLE TREAT GF COOKIES
adapted from Baking, from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
makes 24-30 cookies

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (make sure they are GF)
1/2 cup GF flour (I used King Arthur brand)
1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum, optional
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 Tablespoons or 1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky, but not natural
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup gf peanut butter chips
1/2 cup gf chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together in a medium sized bowl the oatmeal, gf flour, xanthum gum, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Reduce the speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients just until blended. Mix in the chips.

Scoop the dough into rounded tablespoons and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets.

If you do not want to bake them at once, the dough can be refrigerated for a day or frozen for several months. To freeze, scoop the dough onto a baking sheet (you can place them closer together since you will not bake them right away), cover with plastic wrap, press down on each ball to form a 1/2 inch disk, and place the whole pan in the freezer for a few hours. When the dough is frozen, you can transfer the dough discs into a freezer bag until you are ready to bake. Then, proceed with the recipe, adding a couple minutes to the baking time.

Bake each pan for 13-15 minutes or until the cookies are golden and firm around the edges. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack with a spatula. Repeat this with any remaining dough. Enjoy!

Strawberry Love

This has been a great year for strawberries. Since they have come onto the scene in late spring, we have bought strawberries every chance we could. Maybe it is because we have been buying organic strawberries almost exclusively, but they have been really flavorful and sweet. The four of us can easily eat a pound in a sitting and it would probably be more, but that’s all I make available at a time. Last week, when there was a sale on organic strawberries at the store, we sorta went crazy and bought 11 quarts.

We ate a lot of them and I froze a lot of them. I also made some Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream.

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It was delicious. The balsamic is very subtle, but adds a little savoriness that compliments the strawberries perfectly.

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This is the first strawberry ice cream recipe I have tried that cooks the strawberries a bit up front. It releases the juices from the strawberries. I took it a step further by scooping out the strawberries and boiling down the juice a little to concentrate the flavors even more.

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This recipe only uses up 1 quart of strawberries. I was contemplating making another gallon of it to store up in the freezer, but jam called to me instead. I’ll show you the jam another. Today, I think you should try making this ice cream. It might change your idea of what strawberry ice cream should be.

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones

1 pound (quart) fresh, preferably organic strawberries, stemmed and cut up into 1 inch chunks
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

In a medium sized frying pan, warm the strawberries, sugar, and vinegar over medium heat until the sugar melts. Stir often and simmer for about 5 minutes until the strawberries are very small and there is a lot of juice in the pan. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the berries into a blender. Return the pan with its juices to the stove. Over medium low heat, simmer the juices until syrupy and reduced to 2-3tablespoons. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Then, add the strawberry juice to the blender with the strawberries and pulse a few times to blend and puree.

Transfer to a container and put in the fridge until you are ready to put the ice cream into the machine.

5 large egg yolks
2 cups (16 ounces) heavy cream
1/2 cup (4 ounces) whole milk
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Have ready: a large bowl of ice water with another, smaller bowl inside it that will hold at least a quart and a strainer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 sugar until blended.

Heat the cream, milk, salt, and remaining sugar in a medium saucepan until it is quite steamy and the sugar is all dissolved.

Whisking all the while, add the hot milk to the egg yolks one ladleful at a time until all the milk is combined with the yolks. Return the milk mixture to the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula until slightly thickened. You should be able to draw a path through the mixture on the back of a spoon. This will take just a few minutes, so stir and check often.

Pour the cream through the strainer into the bowl inside the ice-water bath. Using a clean spatula, stir the cream every once in awhile until it is cool. Remove the bowl from the water bath, cover, and place in the fridge until thoroughly cold, at least 6 hours and up to 24.

When you are ready to make the ice cream, pour the cream mixture and the strawberry puree into the bowl of your ice cream maker. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to its directions. Transfer to a container and freeze for an hour or so to let the ice cream firm up further. Enjoy!

Pulled Pork to Feed a Crowd

Every summer in recent memory, we have been making pulled pork. It’s a relatively simple thing to do and it makes enough to feed at least 30 people for one meal or a family of four for 6-8 meals or a vacation house full of framily for 2-3 meals.

It can be cooked the day before a party, or weeks before a vacation and frozen. This week, we made it, even though we had no party or framily vacation coming up because it just didn’t seem like summer without pulled pork.

We froze some, ate some right away, and gave some away.

The recipe is so simple, it’s hardly wirth writing it out, so how about I just give it to you in pictures?

First, get a large piece of bone-in pork butt or shoulder. Ours was the biggest one at the store at 10 pounds. Rub it all over with your favorite meat rub. We use a recipe by Emeril Lagasse called Rustic Rub, recipe can be found here. The amount is up to you. For our hunk-o-pork, we probably used a generous half cup.

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Second, get your grill ready. Light up your coals in a chimney starter and let them get all grey and ashy. Then, dump them all on one side of your grill. If you have a gas grill, I don’t know how to advise you. Maybe light one set of burners and not the other? Place your hunk-o-pork on the side with no coals. Put the lid on with the vents over the meat.

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Roast for about an hour. Then turn the hunk.

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Roast for another hour. At this point, you can either keep turning the meat every hour until the coals burn out or, if, like us, you waited until after sunset when it was cooler to light up the grill, it will probably be dark now, and you’ll want to finish the pork in the oven. If you keep grilling, just do it for one or two more hours or you might dry it out too much. Take your hunk off the grill and put it in the largest pot you have that will fit in the oven, preferably a dutch oven.

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Cover the pot with foil and a lid. Then, put it into a 200 degree oven for 6-8 hours, or overnight, if you’ve started late.

In the morning, turn the oven off, remove the pot and let it cool for awhile until you can handle it comfortably. This will be at least an hour or two. I waited several hours until it was room temperature, but only because I had to go off to VBS for the morning. Take out all of the meat and pile it into a big bowl, leaving the bones and juice behind.

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With your hands, shred the meat and mix it up well with at least a cup of juice/drippings from the pot until your are satisfied with the texture. It should not be wet, but should be moist. At this point, we divided out our portions to freeze and eat.

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When you are ready to eat, toast some buns, heat up the meat (we just use the microwave, nothing fancy here), pile it on a bun, add your favorite bbq sauce or not, and top with coleslaw or, new for us this time, a yummy shredded veggie pickle. Eat over a disposable plate if your dishwasher is broken or if you just want to. It’s summer on a plate.

Triple Chocolate Threat

Last night, despite the fact that the dishwasher is still broken, I had a hankering to bake something, anything. The past couple of days have been exhausting and I felt the need to do something that had nothing to do with crafty things, since most of my waking thoughts this weeks so far have been devoted to VBS crafts. I love crafting, but one can only take so much and it just has to be said that kids crafts, while great for them, does not always hit the same level of satisfaction for me as sewing or knitting. One can only take so much foamy shapes and magic markers.

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Anyway, I hit the kitchen last night and made chocolate chocolate chip cookies from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. I only made one change. I made them gluten free using the cup-4-cup flour that I talked about awhile back.

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These cookies hit all the chocolate buttons. Chocolate chunks from your favorite chocolate bar are added, along with chocolate chips, and a heavy dose of dutch-processed cocoa powder. They are dark, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside, with enough bits of chocolate to make one swoon.

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With all this chocolate, it’s really difficult to tell that they are gluten free. The husband said if I hadn’t told him they were gf, he never would have guessed. I agree. This makes me happy for my gluten free friends because I feel that I can serve these and be confident that I am not presenting a second class item. They are fabulous and just right for taking the edge off of a stressful day of crafting with 120 kids.

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Also, in case you are inspired to go buy the book and makes these, I made the cookies quite a bit smaller using a #50 scoop, which is probably a heaping tablespoon. At that rate, I was able to get about 2 and a half dozen cookies, instead of 6, which just means you can share them with more people and share the joy.