Monday, November 23, 2009

Gluten-Free Cashew Gingersnaps

This recipe is basically a tuile batter: an egg-white based cookie that uses a little flour or ground nuts for structure. They harden as they cool, so they're sometimes spread thin, then rolled up like a cigar fresh out of the oven and filled with a ganache after they cool, or sometimes they're made into squiggly designs and stuck vertically in a mousse or ice cream, restaurant-style.

I'm not much of an artist, but I can write fairly well with tuile batter.

Recipe: Gluten-Free Cashew Gingersnaps
There's not a whole lot of ginger in this recipe, but there's no flour to mute it so the flavor is pretty pronounced. The cashews offer a neutral buttery flavor that goes well with the ginger, but almonds would work well, too. The batter can be stored in the fridge for a few days, but after baking they'll soften to the point of chewiness after a few days.

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cashews
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp salt

Sesame seeds, to garnish

Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and puree until mixture is mostly uniform and frothy in appearance with small nut chunks. Transfer to a quart-sized zipper-seal bag. Snip one corner and pipe into desired shapes, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake ~10 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. [The cookies will harden as they cool.] Transfer paper with cookies to a cooling rack -- do not attempt to remove cookies until cool. If they're still flexible at that point, you can put them back in the [off]oven and the residual heat should dry them out.

Store in an air tight container.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What next?

The fall colors have fallen. I have to give the Yankees some credit -- it was quite pretty... and now I know that dry leaves on smooth brick sidewalks can be very slippery under foot or bike tire.

I just have to wonder: What happens next here in Yankee Land?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peanut Butter Shortbread for Grandpa Ed

My paternal grandfather passed away recently. He was a great lover of peanut butter before his doctor cut it from his diet, so I've created a new peanut butter cookie recipe in his honor. I did a shortbread because he considered people over 5'5" to be abnormally tall.
He switched to refried bean and mustard sandwiches once the peanut butter was banned. I'm still working on how to turn that into a cookie.

Recipe: Peanut Butter Shortbread for Grandpa Ed

These actually hold together a little better if you use at least part wheat flour, but a few relatives will be avoiding gluten at the memorial, so I adapted. I like to use the grind-it-yourself peanut butter, it's nice and thick and the oil doesn't separate.

yield ~4 dozen

2 cups oat flour
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocktail peanuts (or cashews)
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), browned or simply melted
1/4 cup amaretto
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla

[up to 4 Tbsp water, as needed]

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine dry ingredients and nuts in a food processor and pulse until nuts are roughly chopped. Add all remaining ingredients and process until well-combined, stopping at least once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mixture may look crumbly but should cohere when pinched together -- add water a tablespoon at a time until it does.

Transfer dough to a mixing bowl. Pinch off walnut-sized pieces [cookie scoop #60] and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a small cut-glass vase or candy bowl to press the dough into a 1/8" disk, repeat until the sheet is full, then trim up the edges with an offset spatula or pizza cutter. [I obviously turned them into squares.]

Bake ~12 minutes or until cookies are golden brown.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

1 Year of Blogging

Today is the 1 year anniversary of my first post, the unintentionally anatomical pita bread.Maybe this year I'll get around sharing my weekly bread recipes. We'll see.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin risotto is an excellent use for one of those small pumpkins or winter squashes laying around everywhere right now... maybe even on your front porch. Each variety has a slightly different flavor, but they'll all work.In keeping with my "Components Matter" bent: Short-grain brown rice is much better in this recipe as it releases starches like the arborio rice does. It's usually the only type I keep in my pantry but I recently bought a popular long grain variety and now understand why so many people think brown rice is dry and unpleasantly healthy-tasting. I've found the Nishiki brand here in Yankee Land and back in Texas in the international aisle of the grocery store (Shaw's, Market Basket, and Fiesta) or in bulk at places like Whole Foods or Central Market.

Recipe: Pumpkin Risotto

You can roast the pumpkin at a higher heat if you're using a pressure cooker for the rice and want the gourd done faster, just be sure to check on it frequently so it doesn't burn. You could even use those tiny decorative gourds -- just slice in half and scoop the seeds -- but you may need more salt because they tend to be more bitter. Including the roasted skin gives a nice texture and extra fiber. Try it!

1 recipe, Brown Rice Risotto
1 small pumpkin or winter squash [2+ lbs]
spray oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Before you begin the risotto, preheat your oven to 350. [I used my toaster oven.]
Cut your pumpkin in half through the middle, scoop out the seeds, and quarter each half. Spray the chunks with a little cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast for about 45 minutes -- while you make the risotto -- until edges darken and the flesh doesn't yield any resistance when pokes with a fork. Set aside to cool until risotto is almost finished, then tear the chunks apart [I keep about half of the skins and discard the rest] and stir them into the rice at the very end and adjust the salt to taste.