Friday, November 28, 2008

November's Daring Bakers Challenge: Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting


This month caramel!!!!!!! Woo-woo! I'm a huge fan of caramel and I was pumped when we got this challenge. I have never used caramel in anything, except as a topping for ice cream (and I think that was imitation caramel.

So, our gracious hostesses chose a caramel cake with caramelized butter frosting. The recipe is from Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater.

This month's challenge is hosted by Delores at Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex at Blondie & Brownie, and Jenny at Foray into Food with some gluten-free help from our very own Sheltie Girl, Natalie, at Gluten A Go Go.

I opted to make cupcakes and had a blast making them. From making caramel sauce to browning butter, I had a lot of firsts. I brought them into work to have my co-workers taste test them. They not only loved the cupcakes - they were moist, fluffy, and tasty - they were on a sugar high for the rest of the day. They never guessed they were gluten-free! One of my co-workers just wanted the icing and the syrup....to eat at home....with no cake.

Even though they took a lot of time, I recommend one and all to make them this holiday season! Also, I recommend having a husband who knows how to ice cakes. Before I met my husband, he took a lot of Wilton classes with an ex. She didn't learn anything, he learned everything, and I landed him. A win-win!

Caramel Cupcakes with Caramelized Butter Frosting

Ingredients

  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • splash vanilla extract
  • 2 Cups gluten-free flour (I used Jill's at Hey! That Tastes Good - since I was making her cake, too)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of Guar Gum
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Place cupcake liners in your cupcake pan
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth.
  4. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
  5. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl.
  6. Scrape down bowl and increase speed.
  7. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  8. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
  9. Sift flour and baking powder.
  10. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients.
  11. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time.
  12. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients.
  13. Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform.
  14. Turn batter into prepared cupcake pan.
  15. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean.
  16. Cool cupcake completely before icing it. Cupcakes will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.
CARAMEL SYRUP


Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
Directions


  1. In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand.
  2. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush.
  3. Turn on heat to highest flame.
  4. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
  5. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.
  6. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers.
CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING


Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
Directions


  1. Cook butter until brown.
  2. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
  3. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time.
  5. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup.
  6. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated.
  7. Add salt to taste.

Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: Gingerbread Cake with Orange Double Cream Frosting


This holiday, I wanted to give thanks...give thanks to all the wonderful gluten-free bloggers out there who have helped me on my journey. Last Adopt-a-Gluten-Free-Blogger event, I adopted Kate at Gluten-Free Gobsmacked. This time around I adopted Jill at Hey! This Tastes Good. I look forward to reading her new posts as soon as they hit my Google Reader. Her recipes are easy to follow and her photography is something to aspire to. And, she's a Daring Baker, like me!

For this event, I decided to make her Gingerbread Cake with Orange Double Cream Frosting. Why did I choose this cake? I had everything on hand to make the cake (except for the oranges), I own a zester, and I was missing the taste of gingerbread cookies! The only change I made with the cake was that I used 1/2 xanthan and 1/2 guar instead of all xanthan in the recipe.

The cake tasted like the holidays - spicy, yet sweet. My son dipped his spoon in the icing to get to the orangey goodness. It was the perfect complement to our Turkey dinner. Even the gluten eaters enjoyed it! Thanks, Jill for the wonderful dessert.

Coconut & Pumpkin Pie


My mother-in-law loves pumpkin and coconut pies during the holidays. When I saw this month's Living Without. I thought I found the perfect dessert. I was wrong. I only tasted coconut. Ant thought it was bland and need a lot more spices. My mother-in-law didn't like it at all. The only positive part was that the pie crust came out beautifully. I think I may use the crust with a traditional pumpkin pie filling for Christmas....

Whiskey-Glazed Carrots

My husband's family loves sweet potatoes and mushrooms on Thanksgiving. I can't stand either. So I wanted to make sure that there was something more than turkey and mashed potatoes for me at the table. And I found this recipe from the Pioneer Woman. I LOVED THEM. I am planning on making them again...and again!

Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients
  • White Mushrooms
  • Italian-style Bread Crumbs
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Olive oil
  • water or chicken broth

Directions

  1. Clean and de-stem mushrooms;
  2. Combine bread crumbs, cheese, and olive oil. The mixture should be clumpy, not drippy;
  3. Stuff mushrooms with the bread crumb mixture and place into a shallow baking pan;
  4. Pour just enough water or broth to cover the bottom of the baking pan;
  5. Cook at 375 for 20 minutes

Sweet Potato "Cutlets"

Another holiday favorite of my inlaws is what I like to call Sweet Potato Cutlets.

Sweet Potato Cutlets

Ingredients
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Butter
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Maple or Pancake Syrup

Directions

  1. Clean and boil Sweet Potatoes;
  2. Once softened, peel sweet potatoes;
  3. Cut each sweet potato into three cutlets;
  4. Lay sweet potatoes out onto a cassarole dish;
  5. Place one to two pats of butter per cutlet;
  6. Season with brown sugar and cinnamon;
  7. Cover entire dish with maple or pancake syrup;
  8. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes

Crustless Sweet Potato Pie

Crustless Sweet Potato Pie is a favorite at my inlaws. This is a must at all family get-togethers.

Crustless Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients:
  • 2 or more pounds of Sweet Potatoes
  • Maple or Pancake Syrup
  • 1 bag of mini marshmellows
  • 1 1/2 sticks or butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Clean & boil sweet potatoes;
  2. Once the sweet potatoes have softened, let them cool - once cooled, peel them;
  3. Mash sweet potatoes - we prefer with a ricer or a masher;
  4. Add butter & brown sugar;
  5. Add cinnamon, to taste
  6. Add maple or pancake syrup to taste;
  7. Put the mashed sweet potatoes into a cassarole dish and top with marshmellows;
  8. Bake at 375 till the marshmellow is browned

Thanksgiving Roundup 2008

Thanksgiving is finally over! Between the shopping, cooking, baking, and cleaning, Ant and I are too wiped out to put up the tree today. We shopped in Whole Foods, Wegmans, Costco, and BJs for the big day - with an emergency trip to both Kmart and King Kullen on Turkey Day. Over the course of this week, we made (and ate) three different desserts, one turkey, two types of sweet potatoes, mushrooms, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots, and spinach. This isn't counting the anti-pasta we noshed on while cooking. And everything was gluten-free.

Our Menu (all recipes coming soon):



Saturday, November 22, 2008

Product Review Part 3: Cinderella Sweets/Shabtai Gourmet Meltaway Cookies


As part of my on going review of Cinderella Sweets/Shabtai Gourmet products, I brought some to work - the Meltaway Cookies. With all the sweets they sent, I was afraid I'd go into a diabetic coma, so work was an obvious taste-testing situation.

Meltaway cookies are crisp, square chocolate chip cookies with pecans. They came in a box, but the actual cookies were shrinkwrapped onto a tray in the box. Within five minutes of opening, the box looked like this:


It shot around work like wildfire that I had cookies - specifically, I was giving away cookies. As you can tell, they went quick. 99% of my co-workers loved these. Comments ranged from "The perfect cookie to have with morning coffee" to "better than store bought" (this person thought I baked them - I guess they also thought I printed my own boxes). The one person who didn't like them said "They tasted like Passover." I'm not sure if that is a negative comment.

The next day, my co-workers were annoyed that I didn't bring more of them. They thought I was going to starting bringing them for morning coffee.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ant's Famous Chicken Cutlets


I have an awesome fear of frying. I don't fry. Ant on the other hand can fry like a champ. Chicken cutlets are our go-to meal. We haven't had any guest go away hungry when they have Ant's cutlets.

Ingredients


  • Chicken cutlets, trimmed and pounded thin;
  • Flour (we used BH's Featherlight, since it was on the counter - but any flour/starch would do)
  • Eggs
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Frying Oil (we used Canola)

Directions


  1. After you trim and pound the cutlets, soak them in a saltwater solution;
  2. While your chicken is soaking, take out three containers - each container needs to be large enough to lay one of your cutlets flat;
  3. In the first container, add your flour/starch;
  4. In the second container, crack three eggs and beat their yokes;
  5. In the third container, add your seasoned bread crumbs;
  6. Pat dry your cutlets;
  7. Place the cutlets in the flour and dredge - tap off any loose flour;
  8. Next, take the floured cutlet and place in the eggs. Make sure the cutlet is evenly coated in egg;
  9. Then, take the floured, egged cutlet and dredge in the bread crumbs. Repeat with all cutlets.
  10. On your stove, heat up some oil in a high-sided pan. Once your oil reaches it's proper frying temperature, its time to start;
  11. Place one to two cutlets at a time in the fry at a time - making sure that each side gets evenly cooked. Every time Ant fries he always uses a splatter guard. Safety first;
  12. When each cutlet is done, place them on a plate with a paper towel on them to drain;
  13. Serve with fresh mozzarella and roasted peppers

By doing the flour-egg-breadcrumb technique, your cutlet will have a nice crisp coating with a moist bird underneath.

Product Review Pt. 2: Cinderella Sweets/Shabtai Gourmet: Pread Crumbs

Yeah, I said Pread Crumbs. Got a problem with that? Our newest review in the Cinderella Sweets/Shabtai Gourmet series are an unflavored bread crumb replacement called Pread Crumbs. At first, Ant & I thought it was a typo. But, there isn't any bread involved - just potato starch, eggs, and cottonseed oil. Since the box said "ideal for southern fried chicken," we opted to make Ant's Famous Chicken Cutlets (recipe to follow).

Since these come unflavored, Ant had to flavor them up with different spices and herbs. They felt different then bread crumbs - not hard or crisp, but clumpier than starch. And yes, there is a slightly yellowish color. When he fried the cutlets up, they coating had more of a fried chicken look and mouthfeel versus fried bread crumbs. The taste? Ant liked them. As a gluten-eater, he found no difference between Pread Crumbs (seasoned) and regular gluteny bread crumbs. I find most products that are made primarily with potato starch heavy - and this was no exception. This wasn't a problem, though. If I was going to have 5 or so cutlets, it would be an issue. But, I only eat one - so I just felt full faster.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Product Review Part 1: Shabtai Gourmet/Cinderella Sweets


Last week, I received an email from Andrew, the Director of Sales from Cinderella Sweets - the makers of the Shabtai Gourmet line baked goods asking if I would review their products. After reading the email, I was up in the air on whether I should do it. I spoke with Ant about it, and he pointed out that it was a good idea for the following reasons:
  1. It's a local company. That there aren't that many manufacturers left in New York City. Plus, we try to eat local produce and meats/poultry, so we should eat local processed foods;
  2. It's a Kosher company, specifically the products are Kosher for Passover & Kosher Parve. Neither Ant and I are Jewish, but we live and work in areas that have large Jewish populations. When Passover comes around, all of our supermarkets become a playground for the gluten-free. Last year, I was able to get a huge variety of pastas, starches, cake mixes, and baked goods at my local Stop and Shop during the holidays. Both Anthony and I remember Shabtai Gourmet boxes in the bakery area of the Kosher for Passover section of our Stop and Shop. Plus, as a wee one, I wasn't able to have any dairy products and my mom looked and bought baked goods based on the Kosher Parve (certified Kosher non-dairy) symbol.
  3. Their foods are Gluten Free, Casein Free, Lactose Free, Soy Free, and Dairy Free.

So, I decided to email back Andrew to do the review since the products are both local and convenient! Andrew sent me over a variety of goods:

  • Ring Tings;
  • Brownie Bites;
  • Meltaway Cookies;
  • Florentine Lace Cookies;
  • Lady Fingers;
  • Jelly Roll;
  • Pread Crumbs

Oh, what do we try first?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mango Chicken in (Boston) Lettuce Leaves

Yesterday, was quite the whirlwind day for us. We did a little bit of shopping at BJ's and then went shopping for a bed for the wee one. Let me tell you, an almost 3 year old can wear you out at a furniture sore - especially when the salesmen encourage your little guy to "test" all of the mattresses. The time at the furniture store sent him into "overtired" mode and napping wasn't in his vocabulary. He ended up crashing for the night at around 6PM.

With the little one sacked out, Ant and I had decidedly adult conversation. What we are making for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. This year - my first year without gluten - will also be our first year hosting all three. We got so involved in discussing plans for the various days, we never talked about dinner.

I have a bunch a recipes bookmarked on our computers that I have wanted to try - this was one of them. To be exact, I just have the Planet Green/Emeril Green website bookmarked. I was watching a rerun of his Light for Life episode and this recipe caught my eye. It didn't take too long to make - even though we had to substitute Boston Lettuce for Endive since my supermarket stinks for produce (AGAIN ANOTHER REASON WHY I NEED A WHOLE FOODS ON STATEN ISLAND). It tasted wonderful and reminded us of a warm summer day, versus our cold, rainy New York City evening.

Mango Chicken in Lettuce Leaves
courtesy of Emeril Green

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless, chicken breast, cooked and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup mango, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeƱo, finely minced
  • Endive
  • Whole cilantro leaves for garnish

Directions

  1. Mix together the chicken breast, mango, red onion, red bell pepper, cilantro, lime zest and juice, and jalapeno. Set aside.
  2. Cut the bottom from each endive, separate the leaves, rinse and pat dry. Trim each leaf to make it 2 inches long from the tip. Place a teaspoon of the chicken mixture onto each leaf and garnish with whole cilantro leaves

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Frogmore Stew....a Low Country Boil


I was in the mood for stew today. I feel the nip in the New York City air and wanted something to warm my bones. But, I ended up making a stew, which by all means, was not a stew - but warmed me right up - Frogmore Stew.
While looking through cookbooks and blogs, I kept seeing mentions of seafood boils. It seems that from New England to Louisiana, each ocean area has its own seafood boil. Each boil centered around shellfish with a variety of sides. I settled on a South Carolina Low Country Boil...otherwise known as Frogmore Stew.
This boil took no time to make and was extremely hardy. Even though this is technically a summer dish - since you are supposed to dump out the contents on a newspaper covered picnic table, this is a dish we will make year around....
Frogmore Stew/SC Low Country Boil
Ingredients
  • 12 cups water
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 pound new red potatoes
  • 1 pound Kielbasa or another smoked sausage (we used a mix of Kielbasa and a chicken/turkey smoked sausage)
  • 6 ears corn - husked, cleaned and quartered
  • 2 pounds large fresh shrimp, unpeeled
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1/2 head of garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle of beer (we used Redbridge)
Directions
  1. Bring water, onions, garlic, and Old Bay Seasoning to boil in a large stockpot.
  2. Add potatoes and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Add sausage and beer. Cook for 5 minutes more.
  4. Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink.
  6. Drain immediately and serve with butter, ketchup, and sour cream.

Product Review: Galbusera ZeroGrano Plus Con Gocce Di Cioccolato Senza Glutine

When I moved from Dirty Jersey to New York City, I settled into an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, Bensonhurst. You know the neighborhood, the one where Tony Manero lived and worked in Saturday Night Fever? Living there opened the door to the fantastic world of real Italian food (i.e. not Chicken Parm). I shopped in salumerias and the regular grocery stores that had an "Italian slant." My local grocery store, which was affiliated with a national chain, made its own cheeses and cured its own meats.

Then I met my husband, who is from a large Italian family. I'd be invited over for dinner of traditional peasant foods like potatoes and macaroni (yes, together). When we got married, we settled in Staten Island, which, for all intensive purposes is a large Italian/Irish neighborhood. All of the supermarkets and groceries carry Italian specialities - not counting salumerias. There are multiple places to purchase fresh macaroni (granted not gluten-free) and hundreds of pizzerias and Italian restaurants.

So, I wasn't surprised that I found these cookies at my local HFS - Family Health Foods. Even though the package was in Italian, I noticed the words "gluten free" on the importer's label. Gluten-free chocolate chip cookies imported from Italy made with corn starch, rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch. When I got home, I put them away and forgot about them until today.

I was in the mood for something chocolate for breakfast this morning. I popped these out of the pantry. When I opened the container, the cookies were already in packaged in individual portions of eight cookies each. The cookies reminded me a biscuits over traditional American-style chocolate chip cookies. And the taste? Heavenly. They reminded me of a thinner, Chips Ahoy. So, I had to have my husband hide them.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Product Review: DeBoles Gluten Free Multigrain Spaghetti Style Pasta

Last night, we were walking around King Kullen and looked at their little gluten-free section. Lo and behold we found a new product (at least to us) DeBoles' Gluten Free MultiGrain Spaghetti Style Pasta. It is made with Quinoa, Corn, and Amaranth. We were intrigued so we bought it.
Tonight, we opted to make it. But, it fell apart in the water. We didn't even get the pasta anywhere near al dente and it shattered in the warm water. So, it was tossed and we put the Tinkyada. Pasta perfection.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mondale's Got the Beef



So, I took the wee one voting today. HE LOVES VOTING. He went with my mother-in-law and brother-in-law earlier. He knew how to use the lever and the little switches. Scary. Just like mom...

When I was a little lass I hung on every last word of my grandfather. Pop-Pop was a diehard Democrat. Diehard. I used to campaign with him for the democratic party. During the '84 election, he got me a pin that said "Mondale Got the Beef" - a play on the old Wendy's ads. I wore that pin as proudly as my brownie uniform. My brother and I went with my parents to vote that year - duh, he was 10, I was 8. I was in the booth with my mom....when she selected Reagan, I flipped out. I started yelling at her - demanding why she was voting for Reagan. I was "telling" her that another four years with Reagan was going to ruin our future and his economic policies weren't sound. We were asked to leave. I was grounded. I love voting.



Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Vote for the Worst "Beverage" in the World...


As election day comes near, I am casting my vote. I'm casting my vote for the worst "beverage" in the world. Well, it isn't a beverage per se, but you drink it. It's Phospho-Soda - which is such a misleading name.

As some of you know, I've been having some medical issues for the past two years or so. Removing my gallbladder and going gluten-free has helped, but not 100%. So, this weekend my gastro had me in for a colonoscopy. My gastro rocks, so the actual procedure was painless and carefree, but the prep was horrific - the phospho-soda.

Phospho-soda is the most common colonoscopy prep. 1.5 fluid ounces of phospho-soda is combined with clear liquid and is consumed twice in one day (3 oz all together) to "clean you out." This stuff was the nastiest liquid I have ever consumed. This stuff was grosser than the glucose challenge liquid when you're pregnant. Even in Ginger Ale, I was trying my hardest not to vomit. I ended up laying down, not moving so I wouldn't get sick. The worst part was seeing my son partake in his Halloween bounty, while drinking this stuff.

The best part was that while I was waiting in the waiting room for my turn, I noticed a pamphlet for a pill prep. I almost screamed. When and if you have to have a colonoscopy, please ask your gastro for the pill prep. For the love of god, ask for the pill.