Monday, October 27, 2014

Gingerbread Waffles

Life has been a little hectic around my house this week/end, and by the end of it, I was totally out of cope. Unfortunately, we'd eaten all the leftovers, and already ordered pizza, so my option last night was cook something.

And because I was totally out of energy, we fell back on the fine family tradition of breakfast for dinner.

These are not mildly gingerbready waffles. I tweaked the recipe some, because the flavors that make it feel like gingerbread are important to me - I don't want waffles with a hint of ginger. They need to be bold and deep and sweet with enough ginger to be noticeable.

I'd made these waffles once before, using my house gluten free all purpose flour (2x sorgum, 1.5x brown rice, 1x tapioca, 1x potato starch). Of course, I've run out, and haven't had time to make up a new batch. However, I did have a package of Bob's Red Mill GF AP in the pantry. Yes, the recipe still works. Thankfully.

If you have a four-square waffle iron, this makes 4 sets. If you're using a Belgian, it makes 5.

Gingerbread Waffles:
as adapted from The Baking Beuties

    2 cups all purpose gluten-free flour
    1 teaspoon xanthan gum
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 cup milk
    1/2 cup molasses
    1/4 cup oil
    2 large eggs

Preheat waffle iron to medium high, or following manufacturer's instructions. Mix dry ingredients. Separately, mix wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry, mix well. Grease your waffle iron, even if it's non-stick - the molasses makes the batter really sticky. Follow your instructions on how to make waffles (for both my 4-square & belgian, pour on batter, close, wait for the light to go off, remove waffle). Eat, with butter, and/or maple syrup, molasses, or salted caramel.
dog, underfoot, wanting batter

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkin Almond Scones with (dead easy) Salted Caramel Sauce

I, like much of my mother and grandmothers before me, stress-bake.

I currently have no hot water heater.

There is only one picture of these, since I was busy not strangling the person theoretically installing the new hot water heater that is still sitting, prettily, disconnected, in my basement rather than taking pictures of my baking.

I wanted non-complex comfort food again, and I wanted something that tasted of fall. I'd been meaning to make another batch of Vanilla Almond Scones, but they weren't enough. I needed spices. I also needed to use a partial can of pumpkin. (Hey, I'd picked up a dozen cans of pumpkin at the store at 25c a piece since they're all dented. Oops. I'm using a lot of pumpkin.)

On the other hand, one of my critiques of the previous version is that they were a bit dry, and not very sweet. Pumpkin usually helps with both of those things, retaining moisture and giving just a little bit more sugar to the mix. Now they're pretty good without the caramel sauce, but it was the spirit of using leftover ingredients! Really! And they're 5x better with caramel. Isn't everything?

Pumpkin Almond Scones with Salted Caramel Sauce

3 cups of almond meal/ground almonds/almond flour
2 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder (or ¾ teaspoon of baking soda)
1/4 cup (60g) of butter, soft
1 heaped tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/4 t clove, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t allspice, 1/2 t ginger)
2 eggs

Salted Caramel Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 half and half
1/8 teaspoon sea salt (or a 1/4 teaspoon table salt)

Preheat oven to 325F. Mix almond flour and baking powder, then add butter, honey, vanilla, pumpkin, spices, and eggs. Mix well into a soft dough, and take the mass and place it on a greased baking sheet or seasoned stone. Pat into a round an inch to an inch and a half thick. Cut into eighths and separate slightly. Bake for 30-40 min, or until just coming brown at the edges. Remove from pan and let cool.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium low heat, add in the brown sugar, stirring constantly. When the sugar has dissolved, add in the half and half and salt. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over scones, and put the rest in a container for later use. There will be later use...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Beef Mushroom Stroganoff over Smashed Potatoes

My mother always made me stroganoff, and didn't mind too much when I pulled the mushrooms out. Her recipe is from the old Betty Crocker cookbook, and was always served over buttered egg noodles. I remember the first time we went out to eat Russian and they had it in the menu over mashed potatoes, it offended my sense of the universe.

Of course I ordered it. I was 8, not stupid. ; ) I picked the mushrooms out of that one, too. Mom was happy -she got more mushrooms.

Somewhere along the line I decided that mushrooms weren't too bad. My friend Aaron added red wine to his - I could see that. Something or another suggested parmesan cheese for umami, under the sour cream - sounds good to me! And gradually, the recipe has changed significantly from what Mom still makes into my own version. When I went gluten-free, I had to give up my buttered egg noodles, and no, there are no good rice substitutes. But I remembered long ago, a Real Russian Restaurant served it over potatoes...

This is a good weeknight dinner - it comes together quickly, and I usually have everything but the beef and mushrooms on hand, and it uses one pan and a bowl. As always, all measurements are approximate, and if it doesn't seem to be coming together right, there are several points to adjust. Use any kind of steak - this round, I used thin cut breakfast steaks, because they're on sale. But I've used flank, or round, or chuck. Since everything cooks for a while, you don't need uber-fancy grades of beef. It doesn't hurt, mind you, but it's not necessary for a good meal.

Yukon gold potatoes are highly suggested for this recipe for a couple of reasons. 1) they tend to have a nice, buttery flavor off the bat 2) they're very thin skinned. As I don't bother to peel them before smashing them to chunks,  this means I'm not picking out rough portions of skin. I cook my potatoes in the microwave - it's fast, easy, and involves a lot less mess than most cooking methods. Your needs may vary. Yukons usually come in two sizes - small and large. My measurements here are for small - 10 happens to be the number left in the bag when I started making dinner, and 9 or 12 would both have been fine.

My preferred broth is Better than Boullion paste + water. It usually has a higher flavor content and less salt content than the cubes, and I have finer control over the quantity of paste to water and the resulting flavor profile. If I use the veggie, it comes flavored with the herbs I usually put in my stock, so I call it a win. If I have beef, I often add a sprig of thyme or sage for some herbiness.

I usually use tapioca starch as my thickener, but if you prefer corn starch or arrowroot, I know both work, as does white/sweet rice flour. Over the years, I've used just about anything that seems like it might do the job. Just make sure you add and boil it before putting in the dairy.

Beef Mushroom Stroganoff over Smashed Potatoes

.5 lb steak
12 oz fresh mushrooms
1 onion, diced
2 cloves diced garlic or 2 T minced garlic
1 cup red wine
1 c veggie or beef broth
1 T worcestershire sauce
1T tapioca starch or corn starch
2 T water
1 c sour cream
1/2 c grated parmesan

Smashed Potatoes
10 small Yukon gold potatoes
3 T butter
1/2 c milk or half and half

Cube/cut steak into bit sized pieces. Do the same with the mushrooms, esp if you're using fresh. Canned, it's not as much of a problem. Saute steak, mushrooms, onion, and garlic until the meat is browned. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, add the broth and the worchestershire sauce. In a small bowl (or leftover measuring cup) mix tapioca and water until smooth. Add back into pan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Drop it to a simmer or low heat and add sour cream and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wash potatoes well, the poke at least once with a fork. Put in microwave for 10 min, or until fork tender. They should be done about the same time as waiting for the main dish to come to a simmer - if not, the main dish flavors will just be getting happier for having more time to meld. Don't sweat it. Throw the hot potatoes in a large bowl. Use a fork, or a pair of forks, or a knife, to open up the potatoes and start smashing. Add milk and butter, then go back to smashing the potatoes into the side of the bowl until you have something resembling really lumpy mashed potatoes. It shouldn't take more than 2-3 min of smashing, and is fabulous after a bad day. Add salt to taste.

Ladle strognaoff over potatoes in a bowl, eat.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Chai Masala

I like chai. I like I nice steaming cup on cool to cold days, and if I'm feeling indulgent, I'll make it from scratch. My neighbor growing up used to make it for me and she taught me how. She was from Bangalore, and I know that my idea of "what chai should taste like" comes from those afternoons after school, and her flavors of home.

Then there are the days when I'm not quite insane enough to make it from whole spices or scratch, or when I want those specific flavors in some dish that isn't tea. I could use the spice mill - or I could get into the jar I keep in the cabinet of ground masala. This is the cheater's version, and scales well. I throw about a teaspoon into a simmering cup of milk and a cup of water with a black tea bag - usually keemun, but sometimes an assam. Simmer for 5 min, then pull the tea bag and serve.

Chai Masala
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cardemon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
(added if I have them to hand - ground fennel or anise, allspice. There is no 'right' recipe, or one true way.)

Grain free almond scones with chai glaze

According to the forecast, there's a 100% chance of it raining today. *looks outside* Yep. Rain.

We must have hit October and the fall rains. Sandy-the-boxer, my sometimes dog, is with me this week. She hates storms, so I'm working from home today. Because of the rain and the cool and the fact I'm so rarely working from home these days, it really feels like it's Saturday, and thus the theoretical day of "fancy" breakfast foods and baked goods.

But I wanted something simple. No sorting of various flour types. Mix & bake, and from items in my pantry, since I can't leave the dogs. My pinterest revealed these Grain Free Vanilla Almond Scones, and I thought "aha!"

I can't leave well enough alone, though. One of the recipes I looked at and discarded was for chai scones, but it was much too fiddly. But those flavors, with vanilla and almond...

I'm really happy to say they're tasty. And very simple to put together. 

Grain Free Vanilla Almond Scones with Chai Glaze
barely adapted from Dish By Dish

1) 3 cups of almond meal/ground almonds/almond flour
2) 2 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder (or ¾ teaspoon of baking soda)
3) ¼ cup (60g) of butter, soft
4) 1 heaped tablespoon of honey
5) 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
6) 2 eggs

Chai Glaze
1) 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3) 1 teaspoon milk
4) 1/2 teaspoon chai masala*
5) dash of salt

Preheat oven to 300F. Mix almond flour and baking powder, then add butter, honey, vanilla, and eggs. Mix well into a soft dough, and take the mass and place it on a greased baking sheet or seasoned stone. Pat into a round an inch to an inch and a half thick. Cut into eighths and separate slightly. Bake for 20-30 min, or until just coming brown at the edges. Mix glaze elements, being careful of your milk - the glaze should be about the consistency of glue. Remove from oven & pan and let cool. Drizzle with glaze.

*Chai masala in this case is the powdered spice mix used with tea to make chai. It is commercially available, but I make my own. Recipe here