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Posts Tagged ‘gluten-free’

Portland is an awesome place to live. It’s like the land of beer and vino, with a lot of funky, slow driving, alternative lifestyle loving, vulgar doughnut eating, striped sock wearing people thrown in the mix. There are more food and bar establishments here (not to mention strip clubs) than you can ever possibly visit. Most of the big names in music make a pit stop here, and of course if you want to be disappointed you can always catch a Blazers game. I mean, where else can you drink a pint and play Dr. Mario Brothers or BurgerTime?

But all this awesomeness doesn’t come for free. Portland seems to have a knack for attracting tons of mid-20’s/ 30-something’s that all arrive without jobs. This means that those of us already here have an ever growing amount of competition. And while it used to be the cheapest city of the west coast to live, and perhaps still is, it’s quickly growing up. Though it’s not on par with San Francisco yet, it’s trying its damnedest to get there. So while it’s truly a fantastic city with a wonderful climate and superb amenities, the hubs and I have decided to move it on down the line.

So where are we bound? To a city both of use said we’d never move to. Dallas. Texas. The Big D. Did you know it’s been over a 100 degrees there lately? Did you know my husband practically melts in the heat? Yeah, it’s gonna be interesting! My sister pretty much sealed our fate when she moved there in February. Plus the job market is supposedly not quite the ferocious beast it is here, but we’ll be the judge of that I guess.

So having said all that, the posting here will be a bit sparse over the next few weeks as we pack and clean and load and drive and drive and drive and unload and unpack and etc, etc. But I’ll leave you now with a tasty little summer treat, and hopefully there will be some cookies up here before we begin our trek across country.

Almond Amaretto Ice Cream

  • 6oz extra-firm silken tofu
  • 1 can coconut milk (full fat is better than light)
  • 3/4 C organic sugar
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 5 T Amaretto liqueur
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 C sugared or candied almonds, roughly chopped

Puree the tofu in a blender with just enough milk to help it along. Once it’s completely smooth, add the rest of the ingredients, except the nuts, and puree again. Place it in the fridge for a bit to cool back down.

Now regarding those nuts, they’ll get all soggy and mushy if you just place them straight into the ice cream without doing anything to them, and nobody wants soggy nuts do they? The best way to avoid this is to candy them, but that typically involves egg whites and we obviously don’t do that here. You can sugar them however, and that’s super easy to do.

Generally you do not chop nuts before sugaring and toasting but if you chop them after you’ll break the barrier you just created and all will be for not. So, roughly chop the almonds. Bring a solution of equal parts sugar and water to boil (also known as simple syrup). Toss the nuts in the boiling simple syrup and stir them around for about 15 seconds. Now drain them, reserving the simple syrup if you like for another use, and spread them out on a sheet pan lined with parchment or a Silpat. Toast the nuts in a 350 degree oven until they’re no longer sticky. And since you can’t tell if they’re sticky while they’re still hot, pull an almond out of the oven and set it on the counter for a minute and then test. If it’s not sticky and has a good crunch, you’re done!

So when you’re ready, spin your ice cream in your ice cream maker. Add the cooled almonds towards the end of the spinning process, or fold them in after it’s spun. Cover tightly and freeze for several hours to allow it to setup completely.

Well I guess I’ll see you on the other side, but hopefully before. If you live or have lived in Dallas and have some vegan tips for me (i.e. restaurants) please share!

Cheers!

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I don’t usually worry too much about sending my husband to the store for me. I know some women cringe when their husbands say, “I can go to the store…,” but Gary’s pretty good about knowing what I’m referring to and not coming back with a whole bunch of unnecessary items, unless it’s a Take 5 candy bar of course. Though he did come back with a Nerf basketball hoop once…

Well last week I was going to make tzatziki sauce (I really should post that recipe sometime) but I was low on dill. I meant dry dill but I wasn’t very explicit about it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fresh herbs, but they’re too expensive for most occasions. So Gary, who’s getting very familiar with all my chef-like idiosyncrasies at this point, went straight for the fresh dill. Never even thought about the dried stuff. Both work just fine in a recipe of course but damn, what do I do with all this fresh dill now? I only needed like a tablespoon for my tzatziki.

And so one day we were trying to figure out what to have for dinner. We’ve been eating at home a lot these days. We eat at home at lot normally I guess, but we’ve not even been going out on weekends lately (… $$$). So we’re getting a little tired of our usual pasta-stir fry-tacos-pizza standbys. We even had paninis one night (the only thing a George Foreman grill is actually good for). Well, it was about time for pasta again in our dinner rotation and I thought the dill might make for an interesting sauce. You never know until you try right?

Well I freaking loved it!

It’s super fragrant, hot and spicy, but not in a sriracha-thai food-makes you sweat way; in a pungent-peppery-this isn’t your grandma’s pasta way. I served it with gluten-free noodles, mushrooms and broccoli. I think leeks would have been great but I didn’t have any on hand.

This would probably go well as a sauce for a main item like broiled tofu, or salmon if you swim that way. Maybe even a dip for crudités (just use less liquid). If you aren’t a big dill fan I would probably keep on walkin, but if you are a dill dabbler you should definitely give this a go. We’ll certainly be making it again, and my husband even said he’d eat it again (sometimes he likes something but only for that evening :)).

Dill Cream Sauce

  • 12 oz extra firm silken tofu (Mori-Nu)
  • ~ 10 sprigs fresh dill, more or less to preference
  • 1 cup veggie stock or bean juice
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • Juice from 1 lemon, or 2 if they’re dry
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper, or to taste

Pull the little dill fronds off the stems. Place the tofu, dill fronds, soy milk and garlic in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and puree again. Take it easy on the salt and pepper and taste as you go. I like a lot of salt and pepper, but you may not have such a high tolerance for it. Pour the sauce into a small pot and gently warm it up. Pour over cooked pasta or whatever your heart desires. Enjoy!

I think that was possibly the shortest recipe I’ve ever typed out! If you want to make this but aren’t sure what goes with dill, you should check out the Flavor Bible book. I absolutely love this thing. It’s not all-inclusive of course but it’s a wonderful springboard for your imagination.

I wasn’t planning on this dish turning out so I didn’t have a photo op setup so the pictures are fairly mediocre. But you can still see the colors well. I think the light minty green hue of the cream sauce is nice. 🙂

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It’s odd sometimes, the way I associate things. Or rather when things remind me of other things that are in no way connected and for some reason the connection remains strong enough for me to remember it for an unhealthy length of time.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Christmas. And obviously since it’s June I shouldn’t be talking about Christmas anyway. But growing up we watched the movie White Christmas every single year, and it became one of my favorite movies. I still watch it, and not necessarily around or even close to December. There’s a scene in the movie where Danny Kaye is trying to “clumsily entangle” Bing Crosby with some dumb blonde dancer in their show. The idea is that if Bing gets a family then Danny will finally have some time to himself – they’ve been super busy producing their show and what not. Later that evening they go to a club to check out a sister act and Bing ends up entranced by one of the sisters, Rosemary Clooney. The girls, of course, end up in a bit if trouble and Danny insists on helping them out. When one sister asks what’s in it for them – as they are practically strangers – he says, “45 minutes, all to myself.”

The other day I was sitting on my bar stool, hunched over my kitchen sink, peeling the skins off a big basket of cooked chickpeas. I looked at the clock when I was done and the first thought I had was, “45 minutes, all to myself.” That’s how long I was sitting there shucking the skins off my chickpeas. My second thought was, “This hummus better #*%$^@*! taste good.”

Lately I’ve been on a quest to replicate the Sabra hummus. I absolutely love the stuff! It’s super smooth and creamy, yet not too airy. But there’s also this tang in it that’s not coming from the lemon juice. I couldn’t figure it out. But one day I looked at the ingredients and saw it contains citric acid, and this little lightbulb finally went off in my head. In pastry class we made these sour jelly candies and the main souring ingredient we used was citric acid. Of course! How could I be so dim?!

I made this several weeks ago using the citric acid and everyone loved it. Five of us went through a very large tub of it in just a few days. The texture wasn’t quite there yet, however, and this is where those 45 minutes come into play.

It’s been a super long time since I’ve bought canned chickpeas so I don’t rightly remember, but I’m thinking the skins have already been removed (that’s probably why they cost so much – it’s a pain in the ass). When you cook dry chickpeas you’ll notice near the end of their cooking time these clearish-white shells coming off the beans – those are the skins. Typically I just throw the whole mess into the food processor and don’t think twice about it. But my hummus is never as smooth as I want it to be. So I sacrificed my time, and my posture, and separated the beans from their shields. And I think it made a HUGE difference.

And one more thing, there isn’t any tahini in this hummus. I love tahini, I do, but I hate shelling out the money for it. It’s usually at least $7 for a jar and that’s fine if you’re going to use it all but who really makes that much hummus at home? It’s just a lot of money to spend all at once for hummus. So since tahini is only just ground up sesame seeds mixed with oil, I see no reason why I can’t do it myself. Feel free to replace the sesame seeds in this recipe with tahini if you already have it, but if you don’t, my method works just fine.

Hummus

  • 2 C dry chickpeas, cooked and shelled (or 2 cans)
  • 1/3 C sesame seeds, toasted and ground
  • 6 T olive oil
  • 4 – 6 T cooking liquid or water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic (more if you like it garlicky)
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t citric acid

So typically they say you need to soak dry beans over night before cooking them. It does help to soak them but you can cheat and skip that part if you forgot. However, chickpeas probably take the longest time of all the beans to cook, whether you soaked them or not, so don’t plan on cooking your beans off in one hour and being on your merry way. Plus with hummus, you want the beans as soft as possible – so you gotta cook the crap out of them. I put mine in a big pot, cover them with a ton of water, place it on the stove with a lid and turn the fire on med/ med-low and just walk away. It takes hours, but you aren’t involved in any of it. You can, obviously, just buy canned chickpeas… but then you miss out on the 45 minutes of shelling fun!

If you do go the DIY route, when the beans are very soft drain them, but save the liquid. When they’re cool start rubbing those skins off. It takes some time, but it definitely produces a smoother product. Put the liquid in the fridge while you’re shelling the beans.

For the sesame seeds, toss them in a small pan and turn the heat on medium. They’ll toast quickly so don’t walk away and get a manicure or anything. You need to hang around and toss them frequently. When the majority of them are toasty brown, remove it from the heat, let it cool a few minutes and then grind them up in a small coffee grinder (preferably one that you don’t use for coffee).

Once your beans are shelled and seeds are toasted, you’re ready to go! Dump the chickpeas, sesame seeds and garlic in the food processor. Add just enough liquid or olive oil to help process them but don’t pour it all in. Pulse it for 30 seconds or so until everything is getting pureed finely. Now add everything else, except the liquid, and process.

Whether you’re using the cooking liquid or just water, add it in small increments as you don’t want to end up with hummus soup. If you use the cooking liquid, the amount you’ll need will vary depending on how long your beans cooked and how much the liquid reduced. Bean juice (that’s what I call it) absorbs some of the protein from the beans (at least I assume it does) and can thicken and congeal almost like there’s gelatin in it, so you may need more or less liquid depending on how goopy the bean juice is.

When you’ve reached your desired consistency, transfer the hummus to a tub and refrigerate for awhile so the flavors can get a chance to know each other. I’m never satisfied with my hummus straight out of the processor but it always tastes way better once it’s gotten a chance to mingle. And if you want to get all fancy, make a little well in the middle of it and add some paprika and olive oil before serving it.

I know it sounds like a lot of work but it really isn’t. Once the beans are cooked it only takes about 10 – 15 minutes to throw it all together, assuming you’ve mise en placed (gotten everything you need ready).

There’s almost always a tub of hummus or pesto or some sort of dip in my house as it comes in handy. It’s good to snack on, make naan sandwiches with, thinned out for salad dressing, or tossed with pasta – endless possibilities!

Do you have a favorite hummus or hummus recipe? Please share if so!

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It’s official. The fact that the first “hot” day in Portland renders me wishing it was cooler is surely a tell-tale sign that I’m a… wait for it… Portlander.

Of course I’ve gone through several of the iconic Portlander initiations already. Converting to a hop head and shunning all other beer that once I knew and loved. Wearing socks with my flip flops. Thinking McMenamins is cool. Figuring out that McMenamins actually kind of sucks. Except for the spicy tots of course. And yelling at a car from my bicycle, while forgetting that I don’t have any car windows to shield the public from my traffic tourettes.

Not that I hate the sun or warm weather or anything, I’m all about it being warm enough to wear flip flops (without the socks of course), but the hotness made my afternoon run total crap. You get so used to running in mild temperatures that 73 is just unbearable.

But, there is something that goes quite nicely with this summer weather; ice cream! I’m always fiddling around with my ice cream machine. I love having random ideas and being able to actually turn them into reality, even if reality turns out a tad different than what had originally transpired inside my head. #alwayshappens

I had some black mission figs slowly dying in my pantry. Initially I thought fig and honey ice cream, but honey’s technically not vegan and you just can’t get the same flavor from agave. Then I thought figs and madeira, but I, of course, didn’t have any madeira lying around. But I did have about half a bottle of marsala being neglected so I figure it was time to put it to use.

Fig & Marsala Ice Cream

  • 9 oz extra firm silken tofu (Mori-Nu)
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used light)
  • 1 & 1/4 C organic sugar
  • 6 T marsala (or to taste)
  • 1 T olive oil (optional)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C figs (fresh or dried)

So this is where I tell you how I did it, and then advise you to do it a different way (I’m a work in progress).

This ice cream turned out pretty soft; not yogurty-soft-serve-soft but definitely not ice creamy-heat-the-scoop-up-first-hard. The culprit? All that damn marsala. I may be a lush but I like to taste my booze, so I kept adding more marsala to the ice cream base. What I should have done is reduced a cup or so of marsala on the stove by more than half. This way you get a lot of flavor but not so much liquid (and alcohol which also affects the freezing properties). It’s up to you, but I advise going the route of the reduction.

Once you’ve decided how to handle your marsala, toss everything in a blender, except the figs, and puree until smooth. You can chill it down more before freezing, or just pour it straight into your ice cream maker.

If you’re using dried figs you’ll need to bring them back to life. I roughly chopped mine into small pieces, covered them with hot marsala and let them rehydrate for a bit. Drain off the marsala before adding the figs to your ice cream (add either during the last few minutes of freezing or mix them in by hand afterward).

I didn’t stop here of course. I still thought the ice cream wasn’t marsala-y enough, so I dumped the rest of the bottle into a sauce pan – probably about 1 cup – and reduced it until it was a thick syrup. You won’t be able to tell the consistency of the syrup until you cool it, so reduce it for a bit and then cool it in a stainless steel (or something conductive) bowl that’s sitting in an ice bath so you can find out quickly if it’s reduced enough. I drizzled the syrup over the ice cream in layers when transferring from maker to tupperware. In my opinion, the syrup did the trick in making the ice cream flavorful, but you might be able to skip this step if you reduce the marsala before adding it to the ice cream base.

Well today’s supposed to be another scorcher (high of 80… eek!). I think I’ll play it smarter though and not go for a run right smack dab in the middle of the hottest part of the day (I may be slow sometimes but I’m not completely daft). Hope you’re enjoying some nice spring weather, wherever you are. Cheers!

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This past month has totally flown by! School’s been keeping me so busy; I still haven’t had any time to get in my own kitchen and make anything. And on top of all my school stuff, both my computer and cell phone decided to die on me, so I’ve had lots of fun and expensive things to deal with lately.

I have, however, found time to make lunch and dinner, of course. I know I usually (lately) only post dessert stuff, but something’s better than nothing right?

My husband and I are members of a local CSA (community supported agriculture) so I never know what veggies I’ll have to cook with until we go pick up our share every Sunday. Eating seasonally can be challenging, but once you figure out some basics and get creative with what’s available in your fridge it can be a lot of fun. And sometimes very pretty!

Some last-minute randomness a few weeks ago turned into this gorgeous combination of kale-cilantro pesto, roasted red beets, patty pan squash and turnips. Just look at how beautiful it is! I absolutely love the colors mother nature gives us.

Any random combination of veggies could go together to make this dish, so I won’t get all specific about the veggies. Just select what you want and cut them in half, lightly oil the cut sides, place them cut-side down in a baking dish and roast them at 375 until you can pierce them easily with a fork. Keep in mind that different veggies cook at different rates so not everything will be done at the same time.

Once they’ve cooled enough to touch, peel them if necessary, slice into 1/4 inch wedges or so. Place them in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and some minced cilantro. Try adding a little bit of olive oil and a splash of sweet white wine.

For the pasta I used gluten-free macaroni, but any type of pasta will do. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the noodles until al dente; drain and keep warm.

Kale-Cilantro Pesto

  • 4 C kale
  • 1/2 – 3/4 C cilantro
  • 1/4 C roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 3 T water (or more olive oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 t black pepper

Typically pesto is made from uncooked ingredients, but I decided to blanch the kale for a minute before making the sauce. Blanching tends to help tone down some of the bitterness in leafy greens. If you decide to blanch, bring a pot of water to boil, toss in the kale and let it cook for about a minute. Plunge the kale into an ice bath once that minute it over to stop the cooking and then drain it.

Toss the cashews into a coffee grinder, preferably one not used to grind coffee or you’re gonna get some off flavors. Grind up the cashews.

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until everything is evenly combined. Toss the pasta with the pesto and then add the veggies and tuck in!

Well, there you have it. I have about five more weeks of school left, so hopefully this blogging dry spell will end soon. Until then, happy eating!

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Can you call this multi-tasking? Making 4 desserts out of 1? Or maybe it’s just plain craziness. Or creative boredom put to work. Whatever it is it tastes good, and now I have a whole bunch of sweets begging to be eaten.

I wasn’t out of school more than 2 days before I started thinking of something I could bake. We’ve been on a cupcake spree the last few weeks in my house so I thought it was time for some cookies. Peanut butter chocolate chippers happen to be one of my husband’s favorites. But I thought as long as I’m making cookie dough I might as well make cookie dough ice cream. During my run on Tuesday I thought I could also make cookie dough stuffed cake balls (of course!). Then when I was making the ice cream it occurred to me that ice cream sandwiches would be a great idea (it is summer after all). I thought about putting icing in the ice cream sandwiches as well, and then maybe dipping the whole thing in chocolate, but something told me to stop while I was ahead. =)

I’m actually going to save the cake ball part for another post, otherwise this sucker will be forever long and nobody will read it all. But ice cream and cookies are simple enough.

The cookie dough needs to be frozen before you can make the ice cream, but the ice cream for the sandwiches needs to be really frozen before they can be made so perhaps it’s best to start with the ice cream.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Ice Cream (vegan)

  • 6oz extra firm silk tofu (Mori-Nu)
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 3/4 C organic sugar
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 shot (3 T) light rum
  • Cookie dough (below)

Toss everything except the cookie dough in your blender and puree until super smooth. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze accordingly.

Once frozen, put about 2/3rds of the ice cream in one container and the other 1/3rd in another. Place both containers in the freezer. We’ll add the cookie dough later.

Typically I use a mixture of soy and coconut milk when making ice cream, but I wanted to see how coconut would do on its own. And it did way better than the combination has ever done. Even though I used light coconut this ice cream is very creamy, especially compared to my typical soy milk based ice creams. Plus it simplifies everything as I always end up freezing a portion of the coconut milk, which I forget is in the freezer the next time I need it and open up another can, which also ends up in the freezer (you see where I’m going with this).

Enough babble, onto the cookies!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (vegan)

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

  • 1/2 C vegan butter (stick or tub will work)
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C organic sugar
  • 1 T ground flax seed
  • 3 T hot water

Whisk the flax seed and hot water in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars together in a large bowl, then mix in the flax mixture.

Blend the flour, baking powder, soda and salt together then add them to the wet ingredients and mix briefly. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Go ahead and make the cookie dough balls or the ice cream. You want about 3/4 C worth of balls, or enough to about cover the surface area in one of those square plastic containers that sandwiches fit in. You want to keep the dough balls small so my way of doing this was to only use enough dough to enclose 1 chocolate chip per ball. Roll them up in your hands and stick them in the freezer.

Now, line two 1/2 sheet pans with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Scoop the dough into 1 or so inch mounds and plop them on the pans about an inch apart. These cookies don’t spread much during baking so if you want a flatter, crisper cookie smash it down a bit before baking. And you can always make them much larger than an inch of course.

Bake for about 11 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let them rest about 5 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack.

The cookie dough should freeze up enough within an hour, so once that time has passed take them and the larger portion of ice cream out of the freezer. Chop about half of the dough balls up to make them smaller and allow more opportunity for cookie dough in every bite! Mix them into the ice cream, distributing as thoroughly as possible and put it back in the freezer.

There. You’re done.

Oh but wait, there’s more! Those ice cream sandwiches won’t make themselves!

Ice Cream Sandwiches (vegan)

  • Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate for dipping (optional)
  • Plastic wrap

Grab as many cookies as you’d like for sandwiches. Retrieve the plain vanilla ice cream from the freezer. Tear off roughly 12 square inch sheets of plastic wrap – one for each sandwich – and lay them on a table or work surface. You can get about 5 – 6 sandwiches out of the ice cream, but that depends on how much ice cream you put in each sandwich…

Take a scoop of ice cream and plop it on top of a cookie. Place another cookie on top and press it down so that the ice cream reaches the edges of the cookies; use the back of a spoon to help guide and smooth it. Now, place the sandwich on the plastic wrap so that the ice cream is touching the plastic. Roll the plastic wrap up with the sandwich and then twist the ends of the plastic. This is kind of what you’re going for, just not so long, and obviously not butter. Place them in the freezer to set.

Once they are set, you can roll them in crushed up chocolate, peanuts, coconut, what have you. I decided to dip mine in chocolate, which turned out to be problematic as the chocolate did not want to stick to the ice cream. It turned out alright in the end though, just a tad bumpy. If you decide to dip them in chocolate you’ll need about half of what Bakerella has in this recipe.

Well, I guess that does it. The cake balls will be appearing at some point in the near future (promise). And on a side note, you can make all this gluten-free simply by using a gluten-free flour mixture. Bob’s Red Mill sells one but the following will also do the job.

Gluten-free flour mixture (equal to 1 cup of normal flour)

  • 1/3 C quinoa or millet flour
  • 1/4 C almond meal
  • 1/3 C brown or white rice flour
  • 3 T potato or tapioca starch
  • 1 T ground flaxseed

Do keep in mind that GF flours tend to have a grainy texture before being baked, so this could affect your cookie dough ice cream slightly.

Well I didn’t intend for this post to be 4th of July centric but my backdrop in the photos is somewhat patriotic. That was an accident honestly, even though Independence Day is around the corner. It’s actually one of my grandmother’s old shirts. Yes, I use clothing for backdrops. And sometimes even covers from my couch pillows. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

But never mind that, what kind of shenanigans are you baking up this 4th of July weekend?

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I’ve been a little, oh I don’t know, swamped lately – as is totally obvious by the date of my last post (when was that again?…). Culinary school is nothing like Audrey Hepburn portrayed in Sabrina. It’s not all excitable French chef instructors and unbaked souffles. And I still don’t know the correct way to crack ze egg.  It is, however, full of reading, homework assignments, recipe analysis, quizzes and potato chopping, which has kept me less in the kitchen and more at my desk, except for the potato part of course (that would be messy). So instead of letting my poor little blog lay dormant any longer, I’m reaching into the not so distant archives to talk about a friend of mine: the coconut.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of coconut. I was one of those kids who didn’t like anything growing up; though I also never tried any of the things I didn’t like… Coconut happened to be one of these things, though I did probably end up with some of it in my mouth from time to time, unbeknownst to me of course – the likely culprit being unmarked, heart shaped boxes of chocolate truffle candies.

I wasn’t alone in my non-coconutness though, it seems a lot of people have an aversion to coconut. I was turned the other way however when we were tasting cake for our wedding. We were at the Sweetpea Baking Co. here in Portland and one of the cupcakes Lisa brought out was Toasted Coconut. I immediately told myself I would not like that cupcake, but one bite of it had me hooked. Crunchy coconut flakes on top of creamy buttercream frosting on top of decadent coconutty cake? Freaking delicious!

We did end up getting coconut for one layer of our cake, but we got two other flavors for the other layers since, as I already said, a lot of people don’t like coconut. We sadly didn’t get to eat any of that layer though, so we indulged in a little toasted coconut when I made these cupcakes sometime last month. They’re really quite easy and your kitchen will smell fantastic when you toast the shredded coconut (provided you don’t burn it, of course).

Toasted Coconut Cupcakes (vegan)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Cupcake

  • 1 & 1/4 C organic AP flour
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt

Sift the ingredients above into a small bowl and set aside.

  • 1 C coconut milk, canned (I used light)
  • 1/3 C canola oil (non-GMO preferably)
  • 3/4 C organic sugar (agave can be used to, but use less as it’s sweeter)
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t coconut extract

Combine all the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly; you can use a hand blender or Kitchen Stand Mixer of course. Add the dry ingredients (feel free to sift again) and mix until there aren’t many lumps. Pour the batter to the lined muffin pan and bake for 20 – 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer the baked cupcakes to a cooling rack about 5 minutes after removing them from the oven.

Coconut

  • About 1/2 C shredded coconut

Take a small sauce pot and put it on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the coconut and stir. You don’t need to stir it relentlessly, but you do need to hover over it quite closely. Frequently stir and move the coconut around. When it starts to brown it will do so quickly so keep an eye on it and remove, if necessary, those pieces already toasted if the others are taking too long. When in doubt, a little under-toasted coconut is better than charred coconut. Set it aside on a plate and make the frosting.

Frosting

  • 1/2 C vegan stick margarine
  • 1/2 C non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (or more margarine)
  • 1 – 2 t coconut extract, depending on how coconutty you want it
  • 1/4 C coconut milk
  • 3 – 4 C powdered sugar (plus more if needed)

Cream the margarine and shortening together in a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, extract and some of the powdered sugar and start mixing. Add powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency; I think I typically use at least 4 cups.

Now you can get all fancy and whip out the ole pastry bag here, or just plop a big dollop of frosting on top of the cupcakes and smooth it out a bit with a spoon or icing knife. Then grab the plate of coconut and spread it out a bit so it’s not in one big glob. Take the cupcake on its side and roll it in the coconut. Voila!

Even if you aren’t typically a fan of coconut, these cupcakes are quite tasty. They can also be made gluten-free simply by using a GF flour blend (and some agave instead of all sugar). If you’d like to do that and don’t already have a good flour mixture please contact me and I’ll give you some pointers.

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