Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting {gluten-free, vegan}

Cupcakes aren’t usually my first pick for dessert. Most often I hanker for fruit filled pastries and the like, but every now and then a girl just wants something cloying, decadent and over the top. Cupcakes fit the bill swimmingly.

VANILLA CUPCAKES WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING {GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN}
This cupcake recipe itself is a great find. The batter rises beautifully to create perfectly domed, lightly sweetened vanilla cakes. If you don’t have any dietary restrictions these are still great cupcakes!  Especially when you’re out of eggs.  Just substitute 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour for the gluten free flours and omit the xanthan gum.

Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
3/4 cups rice, soy or almond milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with liners.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flours through salt.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients: milk through vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until thoroughly incorporated. Divide the batter evenly amongst the muffin cups, filling them about 2/3 full.
  5. Bake 350 degrees 20-22 minutes until lighly browned and springy to the touch.  You can also use a toothpick to test for doneness.  Don’t overcook or the cupcakes will be tough and chewy.

Chocolate Frosting:
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine or Spectrum organic shortening (or about 5 tablespoons room temperature coconut oil)
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Using a stand mixer beat the first five ingredients together until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.

Everyday Bread

Bread – one of life’s simplest pleasures – requires no long-winded introduction. It has its place as a staple in various forms through most cultures, be it a French baguette, India’s naan or Ethiopia’s injera. I can think of no other food that is so humble. It rarely takes a leading role, but would be sorely missed if absent. Consider it for moment: hamburgers without a bun, panzanella sans the croutons, or roast beef with no side of Yorkshire Pudding!

However, for the Celiac or gluten intolerant it can become a swift and crashing reality, at least at first.

I have spent the last three years searching, testing, substituting, trying and trying some more to find a suitable gluten free bread. The worst recipes yeilded flavorless bricks destined for the trash; the best recipes were decent fresh from the oven, but, within hours, turned to a dry, crumbly mess. This irked me to my core. I was also continually perplexed by the odd and, what seemed to me, uneccessary additions to make gluten free bread “work”: vinegar, eggs, yogurt, baking powder? I am a firm believer that good bread requires little other than flour, yeast, water and a touch of sugar, to perhaps feed the yeast.

At last someone proved my hypothesis for me.

This brings me to today’s post: my favorite homemade bread recipe, ideal for tearing and dipping in olive oil, building sandwiches, or toasting with a smear of jam for afternoon tea. So good, you’ll forget it’s gluten free.

Sincerely, you might shed a tear.  I know I did.

MARK ENGELBERG’S MULTI-GRAIN BREAD
from Aprovechar’s post “Bread for the First Time in a Long Time”

I have googled this Mr. Engelberg with nary a result other than this recipe. I have no idea who this gentleman is, but he is surely a saint, for this bread is delicious: pliable, pleasantly chewy, perfectly moist and it stays this way for days; not to mention the flavor: subtle whole grain complexity with a pleasantly sour tang from the yeast. Please do study the perfectly irregular air holes, the crispy outer crust. Most cherishing of all, this bread is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free and vegan.

I bake the suggested two loaves at a time, feel free to halve the ingredients, if you wish. I store one loaf in an air tight container at room temperature and freeze the other for future use.

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups millet flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup potato starch (not potato flour!)
1 cup cornstarch (or more potato starch)
1 cup tapioca flour
4 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (not instant)

Wet Ingredients:
4 teaspoons olive oil
3  1/4 cups warm (not hot) water

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the dry ingredients: millet flour through yeast.  Add the wet ingredients
  • Using the paddle attachment, add the wet ingredients (water and olive oil) and beat until thoroughly mixed, scraping down the sides if necesary. There’s no gluten, so you can’t over do it.
  • Evenly distribute the dough between two oiled loaf pans.
  • Allow dough to rise until doubled in size or until it climbs a little over the edge of the pans, 30-60 minutes. Here are three ways to do this:

Option 1: Set loaves, covered, in any warm location.
Option 2: Preheat your oven to 200 degrees while mixing the dough, turn the oven off and allow the bread to rise in the warmed oven.
Option 3: Per Sally at Aprovechar, heat a glass of water in your microwave until it boils. Set the glass to the back and enclose the loaves in the steamy microwave to rise.

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Once risen, bake both loaves for 10 minutes then cover with foil and bake an additional 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool 10 minutes or so before removing from the pan.  This slices better once completely cool.  However, I never have the patience to wait that long before digging into it.

 

*** TROUBLESHOOTING OR SUBSTITUTIONS ***
If you have any trouble with this recipe or have questions about ingredient substitutions click over to Aprovechar’s original post and read through her comment section.  She has over 250 comments regarding troubleshooting and substitutions.  I make her recipe exactly as written and I’ve never had any trouble with it, so I can’t speak from experience about using any ingredients other than those listed above.

Summer Strawberry Tart {gluten-free}

Strawberry Tart {gluten-free}Strawberry Tart {gluten-free}

At last Spring has sprung. The snow is melting. Our daytime high is reaching the mid-fifties.

Ahhhhh.

We had fresh strawberries for dessert with friends the other night (thank you, Andrea!) and they were some of the best I can remember. Turns out they were $1 per pound at my grocery, too. So, I snatched up 5 pounds with this very tart in mind. I stumbled upon this recipe years ago in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine and it’s been burning a hole in my overflowing recipe to-do file ever since.

Much to Adam’s annoyance, I didn’t get started until 9:00 pm last night and didn’t finish until 11:15 pm.  Such working hours can put a strain on any relationship, especially when you live in a 500 SF studio apartment. Needless to say there was grumbling and growling from the general direction of our bedroom when I removed the tart from the oven, set it to cool, etc, etc.  I’m happy to report that serving the tart for breakfast, no less on a ho-hum Thursday morning, smoothed things over quickly.

So, my marriage is fine and the tart?  Well, the tart is quite good. Labor intensive, but worth it. I will definitely make this again.

STRAWBERRY TART
Adapted from Martha Stewart

I decreased the sugar content by half because I thought my berries were plenty sweet on their own and I hate when fruit desserts are ruined with too much sugar.  However, next time I will use the full amount of sugar called for because this filling should be sweet, almost like jam, but with more texture.  The crust is buttery and not too rich and I just feel that the full amount of sugar would have balanced things out nicely.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t adjust a thing.

Pate Brisee (tart dough/crust)

  • 3/4 cup sorghum flour *
  • 2/3 cup white or brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup potato starch (not flour!)
  • 1/3 cup tapioca or arrowroot starch
  • 1/3 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 15 tablespoons clarified butter (0r regular butter, or Spectrum organic shortening) chilled and cut into small pieces **
  • 1/4 cup ice water

Pulse flours, sugar, salt in food processor. Add clarified butter pieces and pulse a few times until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running add water until dough just comes together.

Alternatively, mix flours, sugar, and salt with whisk. Cut in butter using two knives or a pastry cutter until mix resembles coarse meal (butter is the size of peas). Add water and mix with a spatula or spoon until dough just comes together.

Divide dough in half, wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour (when I’m in a rush, I’ll freeze the dough for 10 minutes or so to speed up the process).

Strawberry Tart

  • 3 pounds strawberries (about 8 cups), hulled and sliced
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch or arrowroot starch
  • 1 batch of Pate Brisee (above)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • turbinado or sanding sugar for dusting

Soak strawberries and sugar for 1 hour.  Drain off liquid and discard (or keep!  it makes a great simple syrup for iced tea!). Add cornstarch to berries and stir.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out half of dough on lightly floured surface to approximately 10″ in diameter, or approximately 1″ overhang.  Gently lay dough in 9″ removable bottom tart pan, gently press dough into sides. Prick the bottom with a fork.  Pour strawberry mixture over dough. Refrigerate to keep dough firm.

Roll out second half of dough on lightly floured surface to approximately 10″ round. Remove tart from refrigerator and carefully lay the top layer of dough over the filling and press edges to seal.

Using a paring knife, make decorative slits in tart top. Mix oil and water and brush the top of the dough. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Place tart on baking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and continue to bake an additional 30-35 minutes until top is brown and filling is bubbling. Cover with foil if to begins to brown too quickly.  Remove from oven and cool completely before serving.

* If you’re not gluten-free simply substitute the mix of flours with 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
** If you’re not casein-free substitute real butter for the ghee or shortening.

Apple Fritters {gluten-free, vegan}

A little over a fortnight ago I was bewitched by a certain volume of books. Not cookbooks, either. Nonfiction, actually. I have since neglected every duty in life and given myself completely over to this force. We’ve gone many a night without dinner, laundry is piled high, and my personal hygiene has begun to suffer. However, who can resist a doomed love story? Star-crossed lovers? The dreamiest, most selfless vampire in history?

 

Twilight.

Don’t you dare snicker!

Sure, I was where you were once. I used to cringe at every advertisement, roll my eyes in apathy at the teeny bopper posters, all the silly hype for some pubescent, and I was sure, poorly written high school romance.

I am no longer ashamed. Instead I dote on the novels with brazen abandon. I’m seriously considering hanging a poster of Robert Pattinson in our bedroom.  I have been so engrossed in the tale that I’ve consumed each book in 24 hours.  Of course, I had to take a fews days off in-between to ponder every detail, catch up on sleep, eat, bathe, etc.

What does this have to do with apple fritters? Well, nothing directly. I’m just waiting, rather impatiently, for the last book in the Twilight Series from the library. Until then, I thought it might be nice to surface from my obsession and live in the real world for a few days.

So, without further ado, I give you apple fritters.

APPLE FRITTERS
Loosely adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

These would no doubt impress anyone. We had them for breakfast this morning. And like a stingy little kid on Halloween I over indulged. These are like funnel-cake doughnut hybrids, with a sliver of apple in the middle to put the health conscious at ease.

  • 1 cup gluten-free flour mix (I use 2/3 cup brown rice flour, 3 tablespoons potato starch, 2 tablespoons tapioca starch)*
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces sparkling water
  • 2-3 crisp, sweet apples
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add the seltzer/sparking water and mix to achieve a smooth batter. Set aside.

Peel and core the apples, slice into 2″ long and 1/4″ thick strips, much like french fries. Add apples to batter and gently stir to cover.

Heat 1 1/2″ – 2″ of oil in a wide, shallow pan over medium heat. When a drop of water crackles in the oil it is ready, 2-3 minutes. Using two forks lift up 4-5 apple matchsticks from the batter, allowing the excess batter to drip back into the bowl. Gently lower the irregularly shaped wad into the hot oil. Let cook until crisp and lightly browned, flipping a few times throughout, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool slightly. Repeat, cooking 2-3 batches at a time. Don’t crowd the pan.

Serve immediately with a generous sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar.

* Swap out all purpose flour if you’re not gluten-free

** Next time I will lightly dredge the fritters with a mix of regular sugar and a pinch of cinnamon before dusting with the powdered sugar. I thought they needed just a hint more sweetness.

Carrot, Kale and Nori Salad with Sesame Dressing

Sometimes I don’t particularly enjoy the writing portion of this whole bloggy blog thing, especially after a long (debatable), hard (even more debatable) week of work. 

So, I’ll be breif. 

I’m longing for Spring: light, bright, fresh, FRUIT, strawberries, asparagus.

Helloooo! Let’s get on with it already.

CARROT, KALE AND NORI SALAD WITH SESAME DRESSING
This was a surprisingly successful clean-out-the-fridge lunch.  So good, in fact, I made the same exact salad for dinner served along side perfectly grilled salmon.  Adam made no complaints.

Because this is a salad and not, say, cupcakes, the recipe is quite loose. By all means improvise. Also, I like tricking myself into eating raw kale. I love kale any way it is cooked, but in its raw state it is very bitter and harsh for my tastes. 

Salad:

  • 1 verdant (lush/green) head of romaine lettuce, rinsed, dryed, and thinly chopped into strands
  • 2-4 sturdy leaves of kale, prepped like the romaine lettuce
  • 6 carrots, grated by hand or in a food processor
  • green onions, sliced on a bias
  • 1/2 sheet of nori seaweed, sliced or crumbled
  • 1-2 tablespoons lightly toasted sesame seeds
  • Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup sesame seed oil
  • juice of 1 lemon (approx. 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1- 2 teaspoons honey, agave nectar, or sugar
  • pinch of red pepper
  • Mix the romaine and kale together and place on a plate.  Top with grated carrot.  Then garnish with green onion, nori strips and lastly, the toasted sesame seed.

    Whisk the dressing together in a seperate bowl and drizzle over the top of the salad.  Serve immediately.