Sunday, August 16, 2015

Gluten-Free Banana Buckwheat Muffins

It has occurred to me that has become a gluten-free blog.
While this is in no way a bad thing, it just kind of happened and I’m relatively bad at change. But it’s okay…I’m okay…

The truth of the matter is that I am a chef. I make food for people to eat it, and enjoy it. Currently, as I am pursuing other goals in life and because my culinary career has taken me to working just outside of the heat of the professional kitchen, my constant customer is my wife. Whether I am cooking for her, or a group of guests that include her at my dining room table, or just working on a version of something that I am craving (like Chicken and Waffles), I make it gluten-free.

This has actually become quite a good system. I think, “How do I make [insert yummy gluten-filled dish here] gluten-free?” and I get to work combining my mad-scientist food knowledge to get the desired product. It doesn’t always work [insert rock-hard chickpea crepes here] but when it does, I serve it and get a magical response from my wife that is something along the lines of, “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had…?”

Today, it’s Buckwheat Banana Muffins…Gluten-Free Buckwheat Banana Muffins.

This recipe is incredibly moist, and does not get rock hard the following day. Start the baking process at a high heat, then turn it down to complete. This is what will get you the ‘domed’ muffin.

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Banana Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins

¾ cup sweet rice flour
¼ cup potato starch
cup buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp sweet sorghum flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
¼ cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup macadamia nuts, chopped
Preheat-oven to 375°

In a large bowl, combine the flours and remaining dry ingredients and stir with a wire whisk to break up any chunks of sugar or flour. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine the remaining ingredients and whisk gently to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Drop the batter into the wells of a muffin pan lined with papers or sprayed well with non-stick cooking spray. Top with macadamia nuts and place the tray into the oven and turn the heat up to 385°. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are fully set, then turn the heat back down to 375° and cook for 5 more minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick.
Cool for at least 15 minutes.

Adapted from The Bojon Gourmet

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Polvorones Rosas-Gluten Free Pan Dulce

I recently attended a poetry reading inside a panadería, a Mexican bakery, in the Mission District of San Francisco. As a source of after-work, mid-week adventure and to support a friend who was reading, we drove into the city. We were introduced to poets who feel so deeply for their culture, and they told stories about the lives they lead that fit into in the mile and a half of the city. The bakery, one of many along 24th street was simple, and not unlike the other eight that were on the next few blocks. The usual custom is for patrons to walk in, pick up a set of metal tongs and a tray, and make their careful selections from rows of conchas, galletas, and coronitas, flecked with sugar and sprinkles. Trays become heavy with brightly colored cookies and yeasted breads, then taken up to the front counter, which is usually adorned with statuettes of the Virgin Mary and other deities. The signature white bag of a panadería is then rolled at the top, and handed back to the eager-bellied man, woman or child who will bring their bread home to share, or eat on the go.

Pan dulce is usually eaten with company, and served with a cup of coffee, un cafecito, delicately spiced with cinnamon, or simply with cream and sugar. Stories are told around a big plate of pan at the center of the table, and the crumbs hold laughter and memories. It is a sacred ritual, a task that is taken seriously when you know you will have late conversations with loved ones and are going to need something tasty, or as something to have on-hand to offer unexpected guests.
Considering all of the routine that occurs within the bakery on a daily basis, on this particular night patrons were surprised, and even confused by the rows of chairs, the amplifier, and the microphone situated on top of a zarape that was draped over a paleta cart, bells and all. It was such a lovely evening in San Francisco, warm and pleasant. This almost never happens, and when the reading began, we were treated to words, flour, butter, and sugar—my most precious combination.

That evening, the pleasant aroma of sugar and flour permeated the air, and infiltrated my olfactory senses, taking me back to a panadería in Mexico I had gone to while visiting my grandmother as a teenager. It smelled exactly the same.

I had to reverse engineer this cookie, making it gluten-free. It is my wife’s favorite pan dulce and she hasn’t had one since becoming gluten-free.

Pink Cookies (Polvorones Rosas)
Makes 15 cookies

¼ cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
4 oz. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
Rainbow nonpareils
Preheat oven to 350°
*If you are using a different gluten-free flour blend, make sure that there is a higher ratio of cornstarch in it, or adjust the recipe to include more cornstarch. This creates the soft, crumbly texture in the polvorones.

1.  Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl and whisk to combine.
2.  Place the rainbow nonpareils in a small, flat dish and set aside.
3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar, with the salt until smooth. Do not over-mix.
4.  Add both yolks to the butter and sugar and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula, pour in the vanilla extract, 4-5 drops of food coloring and stir to combine.
5.  Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix just until a soft dough forms.
6.  Using a 2oz. ice cream scoop, portion the dough into balls and press firmly into the nonpareils to flatten the cookie to approximately ½ inch width.
7.  Place the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and set them in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. Letting the dough rest overnight will give the cookie the proper crumbly texture.
8.  Bake for 12-14 minutes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, 3x3. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooking rack.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Raspberry-Vanilla Marshmallow Easter Eggs

Easter has the BEST candy. 
Seriously, I count the days in February until Valentine's day is over. Not only because Valentine's day is my birthday, not just because in early March, we celebrate our Half-iversary, and not even because Spring is steadily approaching...
It's 'cause of the candy. There is insta-joy when I see the purple bags of Cadbury Mini Eggs in the store next to the clearance $.99 chocolate hearts. I'm on my 4th package of them right now, no joke.

Easter, like most Holidays has lost its childhood luster, and I no longer get a new dress for church, I no longer get a basket filled with goodies, and instead of sprinting to find the most eggs, I help the kiddies find them and witness their joy when they find the egg with the twenty dollar bill in it.
Can I get in on that twenty? No, really...

This year I wanted to make something pretty, and tasty, and sparkly!  They don't take long, but they take some finesse. Anyone can make them, and putting the sparkles (sprinkles) on is so much fun, and kids would love it!! Step by step, here's the recipe and method.

Raspberry-Vanilla Marshmallows (Makes 12 eggs)
Special equipment:
Stand mixer
candy thermometer
12 standard size plastic eggs, washed, dried and coated lightly with cooking spray
18" plastic piping bag
#805 Ateco round plain tip (about 1cm)
Empty egg carton

1/3 cup raspberry juice*
1 tablespoon water
3/8 oz. unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
Non-stick cooking spray (high-quality)
Sugar crystal sprinkles
Nonpareils (the tiny, round sprinkles)
Jimmies (the long and soft sprinkles)

* Thaw frozen raspberries overnight in the refrigerator and strain the juice from the fruit. Bonus: stir the excess fruit into a big tub of plain yogurt, or pancakes for a yummy treat.

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Place the raspberry juice, and water in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over top and let it stand.

Meanwhile in a small sauce pot, and combine the sugar, corn syrup, honey, and 2 ounces of water. Stir gently and attach a candy thermometer to the pot. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil without stirring and cook the sugar until the thermometer registers 248°.

With the stand mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin.

Once all of the cooked sugar is added, turn the speed and continue beating until the 'mallow is light and fluffy.
 You are gonna wanna stop here, but beating just a little longer will create a really fluffy 'mallow. At this point, add the scraped vanilla bean and continue beating.
Until it looks like this. If you beat it any longer, it will be too firm to pipe. You want it to be light, but not too cool.

Set the prepared egg shells on a large sheet pan. Fill the piping bag with half of the marshmallow and scrape everything as close to the tip as possible.
Pipe marshmallow into each half of the egg, squeezing from the very top of the bag. In the short half, leave a bit of a dome, and in the tall half, pipe only almost to the top. Be careful not to get any cooking spray on the mallow as it will prevent it from sticking together once it is set.

Pro tip: keep the piping tip just barely submerged in the marshmallow, slowly moving it up as you are piping it into the egg. This will keep the 'mallow evenly distributed through the whole egg.
Close the egg and let the excess come out of the tiny hole in the tall end. Most plastic eggs have this, so make sure yours does. Clean up the outside of the egg as much as possible, and place in the egg carton. Leave the eggs to sit out at room temperature for at least an hour or two. 

Test the egg to see if it is ready, carefully pop open the egg and see if it stays in tact as you try to remove it. Once it is easy to remove from the egg, they are ready to dip into the sprinkles.

Sugar crystal sprinkles stick best, but if you want to use jimmies, make a combination of crystal, and nonpareils with the jimmies.

Wrap the eggs in the carton with plastic wrap and let them sit overnight. They are ready to eat (so you can if you want), but the sprinkles will stick best when they sit long enough to dry a bit.

Package them in plastic bags, and adorn your Easter baskets with beautiful, delicious, sparkly eggs!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Jam

Check it, y'all,
Onion and Bacon jam is magic.
It is the combination of bacon, onions and time. By adding some cheese, maybe some bread, you've got something just...well, amazing.

What this recipe will take is patience; love and sweet patience. Which anyone who knows me will tell you I have very little patience for anything, but I do, I swear...especially when it makes my burger taste bonkers! Yeah, I said bonkers.

Now what people don't tell you about caramelizing onions is that it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get the color and flavor really deep and caramelized. TV magic just makes them appear in like 10 minutes tops. But you gotta keep 'em on low heat, slowly cooking, and stirring the onions without burning them. Just be patient, control your heat and keep stirring.

Caramelized Onion and Bacon Jam
1/2 pound smoked thick-cut bacon
2 medium-sized onions,
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1.  Cut the onions in half so that both pieces have the root end attached. Cut the ends off of both pieces and remove the skin. Place the onion cut-side-down on your cutting board and slice them into 1/2-inch crescents. To do this, cut slices starting 1/2 inch from the bottom of the onion, at a 45 degree angle, working your way up the onion until your knife is at 90 degrees, then back down the other side.
2.  Cut the bacon into 1/4 inch strips. In a large stainless steel skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, then drain on a paper towel, leaving the fat in the pan.
3.  Add the onions and stir quickly to coat each piece in the bacon fat. Once the onions are hot, turn the heat down to medium, and keep stirring until the heat has stabilized.
4.  Over the next few minutes, slow down the stirring and turn the heat down a little more so that the pan is still hot, but the onions will not burn. You want to completely avoid browned pieces. This whole process will take about 10 minutes.
5.  Cook the onions over medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes for the next 30-40 minutes. Once the onions are soft, and starting to caramelize, turn the heat back up to medium, stir in the butter, and let it melt before stirring in. Add the mustard powder to the butter and stir until combined, then add the brown sugar, and stir to gently combine everything.
6.  Season with the salt and pepper, then stir the bacon back in. By now, you will have a lovely, caramelized mixture of bacon and onions. Taste, then add the apple cider vinegar. Adjust the seasoning as desired, maybe adding some cayenne pepper, or chili powder for a little heat.  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Corn Flour Madeleines

First off, let me say that calling these Madeleines may be, well, not PC.
Classically, true Madelines are made by beating air into eggs and sugar very rapidly to create a light and fluffy cloud to hold melted butter, and flour. Well made Madeleine cakes also have a signature bump; a characteristic my French chef told me is only found in "exquisitely made cakes".

Since I had a bag of corn flour just sitting on my shelf, I thought to make these little cakes. Problem is that the coarseness of the corn flour, could deflate my batter and make me say rude things, so I opted for the "muffin method". Super easy too. Just combine your dry ingredients, then your wet ingredients, then mix everything together!
I could probably call these "Corn Flour Maddies", as to not offend anyone but, eh, I won't.

These are gluten-free and quite nice for dipping into tea or Mexican hot chocolate!

Corn Flour Madeleines:
1 cup corn flour
1 tsp baking powder 
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg 
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients, except for the vanilla bean in a 2-cup measuring cup and whisk until thoroughly combined.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter comes together. Let the batter stand for 2 minutes to thicken. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the batter and whisk.
4. Lightly spray a Madeleine pan with cooking spray and fill the molds with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter. I used my two-ounce cookie scoop for this and I got exactly 12 portions.
5. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the Madeleine cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

These cookies are best served warm from the oven or within a few hours.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Gluten-free Spanish Benedict

Gluten-free cooking has been difficult to explain to those who don't have dietary restrictions. 
To my wife, who cannot have gluten in her diet, it is often frustrating when we go somewhere and there are no gluten-free options. Luckily, if we go to our family's house, there is usually rice, beans, salsa and tortillas. But when we go out to brunch for example, options are limited to piecing together a meal from the "sides" menu that is hopefully not cooked on the same griddle as the pancakes. 

I wanted to make a special eggs Benedict that was just as crafted and put together like anything we would find in a restaurant. This recipe for my Spanish Benedict has several components that layer flavor. It is completely delicious on its own, piled high on a Portobello mushroom, leaving the gluten completely out. Serve it with a simple hash of red onions and potatoes, and love its gluten-free-goodness.

Call me old-fashioned, but the first I ever learned of "food science" was from Alton Brown. So now I use his recipe for Hollandaise, and watch this video every time I make poached eggs. They never fail me.

Spanish Benedict 
4 Portobello mushroom caps, cleaned with stems removed.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

1 pound Spanish Chorizo-style links, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Roasted piquillo peppers, packed in water, and at room temperature.
4 poached eggs
Classic hollandaise recipe, kept warm.
Smoked paprika
12-month aged manchego cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, and place the cleaned mushroom caps on top of a baking rack on the sheet.
2. Combine the oil, garlic, and parsley in a small bowl, and with a small pastry brush, apply the mixture to the mushroom caps evenly. Gently sprinkle the vinegar among each, gill side up, season with salt and pepper, and set on the baking rack, gill side down.
3. Bake the mushrooms for 10 minutes on one side, flip and bake for another 10 minutes. You want the mushroom to hold its shape, so make sure not to overbake.
4. While the mushrooms are baking, pulse the chorizo in a food processor, or chop into small chunks. Over medium high heat with a pat of butter, heat the chorizo bits until hot and set aside.
5. By now, the mushrooms should be done. Remove from the oven and set the caps on four plates, sill side up. Warm the poached eggs gently in simmering water and stir the hollandaise to make sure it is still emulsified.

To assemble: 
Fill the mushrooms with half of the chorizo, top with a roasted piquillopepper, then the egg. Pour the hollandaise over, then sprinkle with smoked paprika. Shave thin pieces of manchego over the top, sprinkle with more smoked paprika, and garnish with Italian parsley if desired. Divide the other half of the chorizo over top and onto the plate.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Bananas

I LOVE frozen chocolate bananas (in theory), but the thing I hate about them is that they're fucking frozen.
Seriously, they are way too hard, and if I wait until they soften a bit, well, I'll just be holding a frozen banana for longer than I feel comfortable with. In addition, chocolate covered bananas are just too delicious to wait for. 

Don't freeze it! Dip a very cold banana, one that's been sitting in the freezer for long enough that it has started to freeze, in a bath of chocolate a little coconut oil and you'll get an incredible, delightfully textured treat decorated with nuts, shaved coconut, sprinkles or anything your little heart desires. I'll never freeze another banana ever again. Truth.

Chocolate Dipped Bananas

4 bananas
8 popsicle sticks
3 cups 60% chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons coconut oil
Topping Ideas
Chopped toasted nuts, toasted coconut, cookie crumbs, chocolate chips, sprinkles, white chocolate drizzle or multi-chocolate drizzle, just to name a few.

Peel and cut the bananas in half crosswise, so that you have 8 pieces and place the posicle sticks in deep enough so that it wont come out when you dip them.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place bananas in the freezer on the sheet pan for at least 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the chopped chocolate in a double boiler with the coconut oil, stirring occasionally until shiny and not too hot. Transfer to a large measuring cup or tall mason jar with enough room for dipping. Let it cool slightly while you prepare your toppings.

Remove the tray from the freezer and carefully, but quickly dip the bananas into the chocolate, letting the excess drip off before they are rolled or sprinkled with toppings. Place them back on the sheet tray and back in the freezer for at least another 15-20 minutes. They can stay in the freezer for up to an hour after dipping before they become too hard.