Sticky Toffee Pudding (Gluten-Free!)

 

One of my favorite desserts of all time is Sticky Toffee Pudding. The first time I had it was in Galway, Ireland. But once I developed a taste for it, I had it every chance I could get, which considering where I live, is not very often, and since I had to stop eating gluten, not at all! To my good fortune, this has all recently changed!

For those of you who have not been bewitched by this amazing treat, I’ll give you a run-down of what it actually is. What it is not, is a pudding in the American sense of the word, but a tender, moist cake- a true pudding in the British sense of the word.

Now everyone knows that British/ Scottish/ Irish cuisine does not get its due credit in the world of gastronomy. In fact it is often looked down upon. But there is really no need for it – if you actually have the good fortune to try it first hand, I guarantee you will find much to write home about. The foods of these small northern European islands are quite good, lots of fresh vegetables, wild game, wonderful sausages and unexpectedly – dessert. I fell in love with the desserts when I traveled to Ireland and Scotland- cranachan, treacle pudding, Victoria sponge, custards and of course the queen of them all, Sticky Toffee Pudding (that’s why it is all in Caps, it is that good!).

Sticky Toffee Pudding is a moist, rich cake made with dates (sometimes prunes) and topped with a wonderful toffee sauce. Many times puddings are served with a topping of thin custard, like crème anglaise. I have seen Sticky Toffee Pudding served with both together. There is some mystery to the origins of this special dessert, some say it was developed in the south of England, and others say it was being served and enjoyed in Aberdeenshire, Scotland many years before if became popular in England. I think we should give this one to the Scots. I mean the English have laid claim to much that has belonged to the Scots these many long years, and why quibble over a dessert?

I digress, so for Burns Night I was looking for a festive dessert and I remembered Sticky Toffee Pudding. I started by searching on line for gluten-free recipes. I found a few, but none of them alone felt like it was going to yield a classic. So I forged out on my own. I must say that the one ingredient that makes the recipe is Lyle’s Golden Syrup - cane sugar syrup that has been made the same way for over 125 years (and another Scottish invention!) and a good substitute for evil corn syrup. Once I tasted it, I knew that it was this beautiful amber syrup that really lends the magical element that makes a classic Sticky Toffee Pudding taste.

So if you are gluten-free and want to try a new delicious and simple to prepare dessert, or are already a lover of Sticky Toffee Pudding, you will love this recipe! It was a huge hit at our Burns Supper!

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of organic chopped dates
1 ¼ cup water
1TBS pure vanilla extract
2 TBS whiskey
1 cup gluten free flour mix
1 cup almond flour/meal
¼ cup arrowroot
2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
¼ cup softened butter
¼ cup Greek yogurt
2 eggs
¼ cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup Lyle’s Golden syrup
¼ cup coconut palm sugar

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 325 F
Simmer chopped dates in water for about 10 minutes. Drain the dates and place into a food processor, add the vanilla and whiskey and pulse a few times, until you have a chunky paste.
In a separate bowl whisk dry ingredients together: GF flour mix, almond flour, salt, and baking soda.
In another small bowl, beat together the butter, yogurt and eggs. Then combine all the dry and wet ingredients together and add ¼ cup of Lyle’s while mixing.

I used a muffin tin to bake my puddings, but you could use ramekins or a large baking dish to make a large pudding (cooking times will vary). I filled my muffin tin to the top with the batter – creating a large muffin sized pudding.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. In the meantime you can make the toffee sauce. Just heat the heavy cream, sugar and Lyle’s until it boils, then lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, while stirring often.
*Tip: Since I wanted to serve my puddings warm, but make them ahead of time, I made them, and then baked them for 10 minutes. Then I took them out of the oven. When I was ready to serve dessert later that night, I popped them back in the oven for another 10 minutes while I made the sauce!
Serve warm, serves 6.

Irish Stout Lamb Stew and Colcannon

 

 

I keep posting the last of my winter recipes in the hopes that I get them in before they are irrelevant. I think this is my last one! If you live in New England, this post will most likely hit the spot on a day like today. We woke up this morning to more snow, but now it has changed to rain. Mamma Nature sure is temperamental this time of year! She is as old as the dawn of time, so I imagine she has the right to her own ways of doing things!

This post is long overdue. In fact the meal graced our tables in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day or All Snakes Day, if you are of the Pagan persuasion. But there were some things I needed to get off my chest before I posted any more recipes. I am still really interested in people’s thoughts on sustainability, local foods, etc. So please feel free to get your two cents in on the comments on that post.

Anyway, for me March 17 is not a religious holiday at all. It is just a day where I can celebrate Irish culture and food, with millions of others of Irish decent all over the world! I love the picture above. In fact it makes me laugh. In the photo most of my ancestries are accounted for: Irish stout, served in a stein made in Germany that says Scotland on it! Pretty funny, right!?

Anyway, this was a really hearty and delicious meal. The stew was easy to put together. I browned the lamb cubes in coconut oil (my favorite oil to brown meat in, as it has a high smoke point and it seems to brown more evenly) in my cast iron skillet. I then deglazed the pan with about 1/3 cup of stout and cooked until the liquid evaporated. Then I drank the rest of it, while I cooked! I used Murphy’s Irish Stout. I am of the opinion that it is better than Guinness. I threw the meat in my tagine along with cubed turnips, chunks of carrots, onion and some garlic. I spiced it with salt and pepper, thyme and beau monde seasoning. I added a little more stout and put a few pats of butter on top. Then I cooked it at 350 F for about 2 hours. It came out super tender and extremely flavorful.

For the colcannon, I sautéed thinly sliced green cabbage in my cast iron skillet. I then added some cider vinegar, and put the lid on. I let it cook down for about for about 15 minutes over low heat. I had boiled 2 large potatoes earlier, which I mashed and stirred in with the cabbage along with a splash of cream and a nice healthy portion of butter, salt and pepper to taste, and serve. It was a wonderful side dish, which we really enjoyed.

The leftovers were even better the next day!

Best Shepard’s Pie for Saint Patrick’s Day!

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to everyone out there! This year I want to share with you my best Shepard’s Pie recipe to date. This dish is common in Ireland as well as Scotland and England, and it is very quick to throw together. So if you want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but didn’t really plan for it, a Shepard’s Pie is perfect!

I have been working on this recipe for a while. Shepard’s Pie is one of the easiest dishes to make, and it is that very simplicity that makes it such a lure to me to perfect to our tastes. With such a short list of ingredients, the quality of those ingredients makes all the difference. The pie I made before this one was when I really understood that point. Since then, I have added a few other subtle flavors that really add something to the dish, without taking away from its intrinsic simplicity and classic taste.

This past fall Roberto and I butchered a lamb for our own consumption. I wish I had taken some pictures because I so wanted to post about the experience. But I was up to my elbows in the work at hand, and taking photos wasn’t too convenient. It was a wonderful experience and one I plan to do over and over again. I am a firm believer in educating oneself about where you r food comes from. This is why we grow our own, and buy from local farms. Butchering your own meat is about as close you can get to this philosophy.

The lamb and kidney that was used in this recipe is from that lamb we butchered. I know for me, it is hard to come by lamb kidneys, so you can omit this ingredient, but if you can find lamb kidney, I suggest you use it. It adds an amazing richness and earthiness to the pie, but it doesn’t scream OFFAL to your taste buds.

If you are looking for more recipes to celebrate St. Patrick ’s Day, please check out my Real Food St. Patrick’s Day Feast from last year, featuring Guinness Stew, Sautéed Cabbage in a Mustard Glaze, Brown Soda Bread and Guinness Ice Cream!

Slàinte Mhòr!

 

INGREDIENTS:

5 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks – I used Idahos
butter
cream
salt and pepper

2 TBS olive oil
¾ lbs ground lamb
¼ lb ground beef
1 lamb kidney, finely chopped
1 cup sautéed onions and shallot, mixed
1 clove garlic minced
1 cup chopped pickled carrots (you can use un-pickled as well)
1 tsp each dried sage, thyme and rosemary
1 tsp of beau monde seasoning http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-beau-monde-seasoning.htm
salt & pepper
1 ½ cup cup homemade gravy – beef or poultry (heat 1 1/4 cup of stock, add ¼ cup of stout beer or red wine and whisk in 3 TBS of arrowroot powder to thicken. Season with salt and pepper).
handful of corn
handful of peas
malt vinegar
extra butter to put in top before baking

 

METHOD:

Boil the potatoes until tender. Hand mash potatoes with butter and cream, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Prepare the gravy. Then set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place ground lamb and beef, kidney, carrots, onion and garlic in a cast iron skillet. Cook over medium heat until eat begins to brown, and veggies start to soften. Then add your carrots, corn, peas, and spices. Mix together. Pour gravy over top, and stir. Dollop the mashed potatoes on top and spread evenly over the top of the other ingredients, dab with butter and sprinkle a hearty bit of malt vinegar over top for that real pub taste!

Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until warmed through and potatoes become golden.

This post was contributed to Simple Lives Thursday.

Real Food Irish Feast for St. Patrick’s Day…Better Late Than Never!

IrGreenFlag

United Irishmen Flag

Well it’s better late than never, I say. Just think of this post as a jump start to next year’s celebration!

These last few months have been very exciting for me. I recently discovered that along with my new found English ancestry (and a few other Northern European ancestries) and in the company of millions of other Americans, I may have some ancestral roots in Ireland. I am still learning about where it comes from, which has been a very fun process for me and has revived in me my love of anthropology and population migrations. I am not sure how much I will ever really know about my heritage, being adopted with no ancestry history, but it looks like there is a strong Northern Irish connection from all my research so far. So this year, I decided that I want to explore these cultures in my ancestral line through the foods of these lands, and St. Patrick’s day seemed like a good place to start, in good company.

I am not Christian, so for me, my St. Patrick’s celebration is not religious or political, but more of a general Celtic heritage and cultural celebration. It should be no surprise that I have Celtic ancestry, as I have always loved Celtic music (even teaching myself to play the fiddle) and culture, and Scottish and Irish desserts have been among my favorites for years. So I felt like even with its religious roots, this would be a good a time as any to celebrate the rich culture and heritage of Ireland with so many others!

pattys-day_ingredients

Some Irish Feast Ingredients: Fresh Organic Eggs, Organic Cream and Guinness plus Homemade Buttermilk and Whiskey and Aquavit Soaked Raisins

I wanted to celebrate by cooking some semi- “traditional” dishes, and to challenge myself by cooking with Guinness! So the menu is as follows :

*Guinness Stew
*Sautéed Cabbage in a Mustard Glaze
*Brown Soda Bread
*Guinness Ice Cream

Everything is made from scratch, including the buttermilk in the soda bread. The meal turned out great, and I would certainly make any of these dishes again, for St. Pat’s or any other day.

pattys-day_bread-and-stew_500

Brown Soda Bread

I was inspired by several different recipes for this meal, and it all started with Jenny’s Brown Soda Bread Recipe .

As many who follow this blog know, I have been tweaking various bread recipes these past many months, so that the flour can be soaked for at least 12 hours before baking ( to find out why click here ). Jenny is a master at this kind of cooking, even recently being featured on CNN for her Real Food Challenge . When I saw her soda bread recipe, I knew I had to make it.

pattys-day_stew

Guinness Stew

From there, the idea for an Irish feast began. I didn’t have a lot of time this year to research “corning” my own beef brisket , so to speak (maybe next year). So I decided to go with something a bit more in my comfort zone – beef stew with a beef and Guinness broth.

I love sautéed cabbage, and since it was on sale at the grocery store, I decided to grab a head and figure out what to do with it later. As I was cooking the stew, an idea for a delicious spicy mustard and honey glaze was concocted in my mind! I will definitely be making cabbage this way again!

pattys-day_guiness-ice-cream

Creamy Guinness Ice Cream without white sugar

I had also been wanting to try this recipe for Guinness Ice Cream for about 2 years. However, I did modify it, to make it more healthy by omitting the 2 cups of sugar called for in the original recipe and using date sugar and maple syrup to sweeten it, instead. I also omitted the brown bread, however I may have to add it in the future, because it sounds yummy!

This was a wonderful celebration to begin to connect with some of my ancestral roots and share it with my awesome and supportive family. Thanks Guys! :) Hope my readers enjoy this menu as much as we did! Recipes under the cut…

slainte

Read the rest of this entry »