Grain Free Almond Raspberry Muffins

I am just going to ignore the fact that I haven’t updated this poor blog in over a month, as I would just bore you to tears with excuses and reasons why I haven’t been around. ‘Tis the season to be outside, working on gardens, doing homesteading chores… I mean how can you say no to this face?

(for more of my homesteading activities see my blog Got Goats?)

(and catching up with the rest of the world by reading The Hunger Games and watching the first season of Game of Thrones).
I’ll leave it at that.

I can’t even take credit for this recipe I am going to share with you, even though I did modify it a bit. But they were too good not to share with you. The recipe comes from one of my very favorite baking cookbooks – The Spunky Coconut Grain-Free Baked Goods and Desserts: Gluten Free, Casein Free, and Often Egg Free – this book is terrific. In fact, this one cookbook has really changed my life since going gluten-free 3 years ago. I love it because I can make and eat every single recipe in it without tweaking. If that weren’t enough, all of the recipes I have made from it, which are constantly increasing in numbers, are perfect – they always work, always taste divine and even fool those who don’t have to worry about gluten or grains. Did I mention that the recipes are also very simple to make? I mean what more could you possibly want? What can I say, I am an enormous fan.

These muffins are light and flavorful. They are perfect for breakfast, as an afternoon snack with tea or a nice way to end dinner. Once you finish your first batch, I bet you’ll be whipping up another soon after! They go fast!

Grain Free Almond Raspberry Muffins (adapted from The Spunky Coconut’s Aspen Almond Muffins)

INGREDIENTS:

¼ cup of applesauce
1/3 cup honey
3 eggs at room temperature
½ cup coconut oil, liquefied
2 cups almond meal
½ cup buckwheat flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup fresh raspberries

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Then add to it the rest (except the berries), then mix with a hand mixer or food processor until incorporated. Then fold in the berries (The Spunky Coconut recommends strawberries). Spoon into muffin wrappers or a silicone muffin tray and bake for 25 minutes.

Veal and White Bean Stew with Buckwheat Spätzle

 

(Veal and White Bean Stew with Buckwheat Spätzle)

Normally, when I cook I just take stock of what I have around to concoct something and rarely use recipes. But like any foodie I have a ton of cookbooks. Cookbooks for me are a bit like inspiration, it gives me general ideas, but I find I usually need to augment the recipes – either to make them gluten-free or to our tastes.

That is the story of this buckwheat spätzle, a dish I made some time back in the height of winter. One of my favorite cookbooks is Black Forest Cuisine by Walter Staib the executive chef at the historic and famed City Tavern in Philadelphia. I have always liked German cuisine, but never made it at home. With this cookbook that all changed. The recipes range from simple home cooked meals, to comforting gastropub fare and fancier hotel restaurant fare with more international influences. I got this cookbook as a way to explore another ancestral cuisine, although my ancestors hail from Bavaria, there is a lot of crossover, including spätzle which is considered a classic Bavarian dish.

(Buckwheat Spätzle – in Italian we would call my spätzle, Spätzle-one, or giant spätzle )

The flavors of the Black Forest are homey and delicious, the ingredients, simple and flavorful.  The chef in the introduction talks a lot about traditional German fare, about abundant family gardens, food preservation skills and my favorite story of all – that it is common for German families to take a walk through the woods on the weekend to get to a specific restaurant, pub or café serving some specialty – maybe a confection or cake or perhaps a home-style hearty meal to enjoy. I just love the idea of that. We did something similar in Italy, taking the Via Francigena to San Gimignano and enjoying a lovely meal of gnocchi with truffle sauce and stewed wild boar. One of the best meals of my life. Food tastes so amazing when it is well deserved.

It was this romantic thought that inspired this meal. I imagined myself taking an invigorating walk through the black forest, coming out of the forest, with a scent of something savory cooking in the air and following my nose to a cozy warm gastropub to enjoy a hearty meal.

The veal and white bean stew is entirely of my creation. The buckwheat spätzle is based on the original spätzle recipe in the cookbook.  We had originally made the spätzle to accompany a recipe for kielbasa and lentils from the same cookbook, being its traditional accompaniment.

(Kielbasa and lentils with buckwheat Spätzle )

We used some homemade kielbasa and it was good, but not nearly as outstanding as this combination!

Veal and White Bean Stew:

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of cannellini beans, cooked (I use dry beans, soaked overnight in warm water and a TBS of apple cider vinegar and then cooked until tender)

1 lb of veal stew meat browned in 1 TBS butter

2 onions, caramelized (cooked down with red wine vinegar and a little water to prevent burning)

2 cups beef stock – homemade is preferable

1 cup of water

Bay leaf

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 TBS tomato paste

2 carrots, chopped

2 cups green cabbage, shredded

Season with salt, pepper and thyme

METHOD: The day before, cook the beans, or you can use canned. You might also want to caramelize the onions, brown the veal and make the spätzle. The day of cooking place all the ingredients in a crock pot, except for the spätzle . Cook on the high setting until it comes to a boil (about 2-3 hours). Then add the spätzle and cook on low for another 5-6 hours until everything is heated through. You could put the spätzle in at the start and just cook on low for 10-12 hours, but it might become a little more mushy.

(Making Spätzle  using the “cutting board method”)

Buckwheat Spätzle

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of buckwheat flour

4 large eggs

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1 cup cold water

METHOD:  Combine the flour, eggs, salt and nutmeg in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I don’t have an electric mixer and make the dough using my hands). Mix on medium until combined and slowly pour in the water until the batter is smooth, mix for five minutes more until the dough is elastic.

Bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Scrape dough into a potato ricer or colander with large holes and press dough into boiling water. Alternately, place dough on a cutting board and scrape dough into the boiling water. Cook until they are tender but still firm, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes, they will rise to the surface when done. Lift the spätzle out of the water with a large slotted spoon, shake off the water and place in a bowl, mix with some butter or olive oil to prevent sticking together. Spätzle is also very good, reheated by sautéing in butter until golden.

*Note, I used the cutting board method, and as this was my first time making spätzle, they were a bit bigger than what is traditional, but I think they were the perfect size for my slow cooked stew, if they had been smaller, I would not have allowed them to cook with the stew, but stirred them in at the end before serving.

Oladyi : Russian Yogurt Pancakes

 

(Oladyi topped with currants)

Yes, I realize that I missed International Pancake Day, but then again, I am not usually one to follow the herd. In fact, I have been meaning to post about these pancakes for a while because we have been enjoying them more times than not on Pancake Sunday- so I thought posting them on a Friday could get you thinking about making these for a wonderful weekend breakfast!

Pancake Sunday is a tradition in our house. It came from those dark days when I was both gluten and egg free for a time and ended up crying over pancakes. Yes, crying, and this folks is why I will never give up eggs again. But what I was so upset about was missing pancakes, the girl who grew up never liking pancakes, but went to live in Norway and fell in love with them. It is funny the things you miss the most when you can’t have them. This is when I realized pancakes needed to be celebrated on a weekly basis and not a Sunday has gone by without them since.

So in my journey to find amazing, delicious gluten free pancakes, we have tried many kinds and have found some favorites: Buckwheat Pancakes, Coconut Flour Pancakes, Norske Pannekakker  (grain free) and for those of you who are not gluten-free I suggest Sourdough Crepes and Aebelskiver.

Recently we have added Oladyi to our list and currently these are the reigning favorites! I got this recipe from my friend Sofya, who blogs over at The Girl’s Guide to Guns and Butter . I made a few changes to her recipe to make them gluten free, so you can feel free to do them either way, depending on your dietary needs. These pancakes are referred to in this house as “the pancakes that eat themselves” – they are light, airy and disappear quickly! They are also good if you make more than you will eat and put the extras in the freezer to have later in the week. This way they can also be a quick and easy mid-week breakfast.

Sofya says that these pancakes are great to make when your yogurt is starting to go bad. So if you are thinking it is time to use up some old yogurt, these are a perfect way to enjoy it!

Oladyi: The Russian Yogurt Pancakes (adapted from A Girl’s Guide to Guns and Butter )

INGREDIENTS:

2 C plain yogurt (going bad OK) – I usually use up my filmjölk before it is time to make another batch
enough flour to make a medium-thick batter (one that holds its shape but is still a liquid rather than a paste) – I usually use about 1 ½ cups of freshly ground buckwheat flour.
2 eggs
2 TBS honey, maple or even molasses
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
butter for frying

METHOD:
Mix flour and yogurt together and let rest overnight (I leave it out on the counter). Next morning preheat cast iron skillet or pancake grill. Mix in the rest of the ingredients (add more flour if needed). Heat butter in the skillet and spoon the batter in. I usually use 1/3 cup for each pancake. Cook until you see bubbles and flip. When I make pancakes, I usually preheat my oven to 200-250 F and place cooked pancakes on a cookie sheet in the oven to keep warm while the others cook. Serves 4 or 2 people with leftovers. Recipe is easily doubled!

Burns Night: Haggis

“Thus bold, independent, unconquer’d, and free,
Her bright course of glory for ever shall run,
For brave Caledonia immortal must be,”
~Robert Burns, Caledonia

Last night we celebrated Burns Night , the 25th of January, the birthdate of the famed Scottish poet, Robert Burns. It is a night when Scots all over the world celebrate his life, poetry and all things Scottish by hosting a traditional Burns Supper – haggis, neeps, tatties, and a whisky toast!
This is a treat I look forward to every year. Living across the pond, in the US, haggis is not readily available, but I have been lucky to find Scottish Gourmet USA an online retailer of not only some of the best haggis in the US, but many other delicious Scottish products as well, like honey, cheese, smoked salmon, teas, etc. If you love Scottish food, I suggest you check them out!

We started the night off with homemade oat cakes, slices of Dubliner and chunks of Bergenost . I figured since I didn’t have any Scottish cheese lying about, I would seek close relatives, so we went with Irish and Norwegian (learn about the relationship between the Vikings and the Scots in regards to cheese here). We washed the first course down with some Thistly Cross Hard Scottish Cider.

Then it was time for the main course, haggis, neeps (mashed rutabaga) and tatties (mashed potatoes).

Looks innocent enough, doesn’t it?

Now before you all start in with that “yuck” or “ick” word again, like when I talked about my love for black pudding , let me tell you that haggis is really nothing more than a wonderfully spiced sausage. The haggis by Scottish Gourmet USA, contains lamb, liver, oats and spices, nothing else…and YES, I have had the “real deal” in Scotland, and honestly it tastes very much the same. It has a wonderful creamy texture and the aroma is tantalizing. This is real, hardy, stick to your bones kind of food, for real, hardy people! This is traditional, ancestral food at its best! Burns makes this quite clear in his famous address and I must concur! :

“But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his ample fist a blade,
He will make it whistle;
And legs, and arms, and heads will crop
Like tops of thistle.
You powers, who make mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland want no watery ware,
That splashes in small wooden dishes;
But is you wish her grateful prayer,
Give her a Haggis!”
~Robert Burns, Address to a Haggis (standard English translation)

(Me with friends Bob and Suzanne, all enraptured by The Address)

Of course before eating, the haggis must be addressed (to see the whole address performed excellently, I suggest checking out this one performed by Andrew of Scottish Gourmet USA) and then toasted with whisky. This year we toasted with a 15 year Dalwhinnie. It was a good one.

As always it was a wonderful evening full of joking, sharing memories of trips to Scotland, etc, such a great yearly tradition. I suggest to all of you, especially if you are Scottish, love Scotland or just love ‘Ol Rabbie Burns, to join us next year in celebrating his life!

Want to know what to do with Haggis Leftovers? Try Balmoral Chicken.

Next UP: Sticky Toffee Pudding!

Buckwheat Shortbread

I love shortbread.  I know some are less enamored with the dry, crumbly texture but when using great quality butter, the key ingredient; it brings this Scottish specialty to a new level.  Served with tea, its natural accompaniment, it is pure bliss.

I think now is a good time to discuss butter, we eat a lot of it in this house (and have very good cholesterol reports and excellent blood pressure), but it is of the highest quality – grassfed, organic, artisanal butter. Yes, it is more expensive, but if you spend the extra money, it turns into a virtual health food and you can eat more of it without getting sick!

I know some of you are probably shaking your heads right now in dis-belief, but you see, butter has gotten a bad rap over recent years because the quality of butter found in most grocery stores is dismal.  A lot of you may have seen the news that Paula Deen, known for her butter laden foods has finally come forward being diagnosed with Type II diabetes, many of you are probably not surprised and many of you might think butter is the culprit, or even fat for that matter. But really, it is all about quality. Just think about our great-grandparents who cooked with a lot of butter and were in good health.

Most “butter” these days has canola or other oils on the ingredient list, or “natural flavoring” (code word for MSG) – especially when you get into the realm of “light” “lowfat” or “spreadable butter”.  Just look at the ingredient list for Land O’ Lakes “light” butter: Ingredients: Butter (Cream, Salt), Water*, Buttermilk*, Contains Less Than 2% of Food Starch-Modified*, Tapioca Maltodextrin*, Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides*, Lactic Acid*, Potassium Sorbate* and Sodium Benzoate* (Preservatives), PGPR* (emulsifier), Natural Flavor*, Xanthan Gum*, Vitamin A Palmitate*, Beta Carotene* (color).  Sorry but that isn’t butter anymore, it is a chem lab.

Even if your butter just contains cream and salt, it is likely from cows fed on grain and pumped with hormones, probably living in terrible conditions and that really makes all the difference in terms of your health and your arteries. If you eat grassfed butter, you are basically eating a nutritious, body boosting food, made up of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats coming from healthy animals eating nutritious grass.

So please, use good quality, healthy butter when cooking. I recommend Kerrygold – which can actually be found in most grocery stores (usually in the gourmet cheese section, but ask your store’s customer service for more info). I also like Organic Valley’s Pasture butter (green package) and Vermont Butter & Cheese’s European style butter, in that order. In a pinch, go for Cabot – found in groceries all over the country! If you can’t afford good quality butter, use less of it and substitute in olive oil.

Now onto the shortbread- since we are celebrating all things Scottish in January , shortbread is a perfect addition to the subject. A traditional shortbread is nothing more than sugar, butter and flour- in a one to two to three ratio, respectively. That is it. Traditionally it was made with oat flour, but most modern versions are made with white flour.

This time I opted for buckwheat flour. I had some delicious buckwheat shortbread this past summer and decided to try my hand at making my own version! It is virtually the same taste as “normal” shortbread, although a bit nuttier – which just compliments the butter- and gives the shortbread a darker color.

 

 INGREDIENTS:

2 cups buckwheat flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup pure maple syrup (honey works also)

1 stick of cold butter, cut into small pieces

 

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 300 F.  Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then pour maple over top, using your hands, a pastry cutter or a fork, mix in the butter, a little at a time until you have a crumbly dough.

Press the dough into a prepared (greased with butter) 9-inch round pan. If you have a shortbread pan, even better! Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden in color. Let cool about 10 minutes, then flip pan over onto a dish and remove the shortbread. Cut into wedges while still warm. Serve with tea or coffee!

Black Pudding Stew and Bannocks

 

January is a big month for those of us with Scottish heritage. We start the month off with the celebration of Hogmany or Scottish New Year. This tradition comes from the intermixing between the Norse and the Scottish in Scotland. The 12 Days of Christmas, actually comes from the original 12 days of Yule , and Hogmany is the end of that celebratory time, as the new Gregorian year was rung in.

Then January 25th is Burn’s Night when Scots and those of Scottish ancestry the world over celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns by celebrating Burns Night and hosting a Burns Supper. I hosted my first proper Burns Supper in a long time last year and plan to do it again this year.

So in the meantime I would like to share with you this dish inspired by one of my favorite foods that I don’t get a chance to eat very often- black pudding, or blood pudding/sausage. I know a lot of you are probably gagging right now. But blood pudding is truly a sacred food. As the name implies it is made from the blood of a slaughtered animal. Usually sheep, sometimes pigs but it can also be made from cattle, duck and goat. This food really exemplifies nose to tail eating and as a farmer, I believe in using the entire animal, and that includes its blood. I have not had a chance to make it yet, but I do plan to in the future.

I must admit, the first time I had black pudding, I didn’t know what it was. I think that helped my taste buds truly enjoy it without thinking that I was supposed to think it was gross. I am so glad no one told me and just let me enjoy it.

The making of blood sausage is common the world over and can be found in nearly every culture. Generally it is made of the blood, some kind of fat and fillers depending on the culture – in France it is known as Boudin Noir, made with chestnut flour and cream, it was made on the Navajo reservation where I lived, prepared by the women with blue cornmeal, in Norway I ate Blodpølse as part of Christmas Eve traditional fare where it is served with other cured meats and Rømmegrøt. So although it might not be very popular in certain places and have a high “yuck” factor among many, it is part of the traditional diet of probably all of our ancestors and to be respected.

Last year when I ordered my Haggis from Scottish Gourmet USA for our Burns Supper, I also bought some of their black pudding or Marag Dubh. It can be eaten fried up for breakfast and served with eggs, or used in dishes, like this stew I made with beans and mushrooms, creating a wonderfully flavorful dish with a certain je ne sais quoi coming from the addition of the black pudding. It is just like anchovies in Italian Puttanesca sauce, if you don’t tell people it is in there, they will love it, licking their dish, while swearing how much they hate anchovies.

I served the stew with another traditional Scottish favorite, gluten free Oat Bannocks to sop up all the delicious sauce.

Open your mind and be adventurous this new year! Join us for a Burns Night celebration and try some black pudding!

Black Pudding Stew

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBS of butter
2 slices of bacon
¼ large onion diced
1 clove garlic
½ cup re-constituted dried mushrooms (save the water)
½ lb black pudding, crumbled
¼ cup red wine
½ cup mushroom water
1 TBS Flowers of Scotland
¾ lb Christmas Limas, cooked
1 cooked potato diced

METHOD:

Be sure to cook your potato and beans ahead of time. Melt the butter in a hot skillet (preferably cast iron). Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook with the onion, garlic, mushrooms and black pudding. Once the bacon is browned and the onions soft, add the wine, mushroom water and cooked beans. Simmer on low for 25 minutes over low heat, covered. Take off lid and add the flowers of Scotland and cubed potatoes. Reduce liquid until the stew is nice and thick. Serve with bannocks. Serves 4.

Bannocks

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup GF oat flour
½ cup coconut flour
¼ cup tapioca flour/starch
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup of yogurt/kefir/buttermilk
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder

METHOD:

Mix first 5 ingredients together and allow to sit on the countertop for 8 hours, or overnight. Next day place it in a food processor and add the rest of the ingredients, pulsing until the dough is nice and crumbly. Preheat oven to 400F.
On a floured surface press dough into an eight-inch circle about ¾ inch thick. Bake at 400F for 12- 15 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Buckwheat Noodles with Mushrooms and Sour Cream

 

Now that the hub-bub of the holidays is winding down, I know I am looking forward to more simplicity when it comes to meal times and I am craving earthy dishes to offset the sweets I have been eating. Although I love the holiday season and all of its indulgences, after several weeks of big celebratory meals, it is nice to get back to basics.

This dish has become one of our favorites, we eat it about once a week. It is a quick and easy go-to kind of meal when you are tired and just don’t know what to cook! We came up with it during the holiday season, when we were busy and/or tired of cooking. It is perfect now also for winding down and simplicity.

I must admit I am not a huge fan of pasta…my guess is because my body knew I was gluten intolerant long before I did, and so subconsciously it dreaded that king of all gluten-ey dishes…the big bowl of pasta. But I am seriously addicted to this bowl of soba noodles mixed with sweet leeks fried in brown butter, deeply earthy mushrooms and thick and creamy sour cream. So so good, you will love it.

A note of caution, if you are gluten-intolerant make sure that the package of Soba or Buckwheat noodles you throw in your basket is in fact gluten-free. Oftentimes, I find packages that also contain wheat.

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBS of browned butter (to make browned butter, place butter in a small saucepan and melt, keep cooking past melting until the butter begins to brown, once is smells sweet and delicious, take it off the burner, it is ready to use)
1 cup of reconstituted dried mushrooms, squeezed dry (keep the water to make mushroom stock or use in other recipes) – chop if the pieces are really big
½ cup sliced leeks (you could also use caramelized onions)
1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
1- 8 oz. package of Soba Noodles (I use King Soba Organic Sweet Potato and Buckwheat Noodles)
½ cup organic full-fat Sour Cream (Greek yogurt would work beautifully as well)
Grated parmesan cheese to taste
1-2 more TBS of butter to mix in your pasta

METHOD:

Start your pasta water. Make the browned butter, then sautee the mushrooms over medium heat in the butter for about 5 minutes, or until nice and soft, then add the leeks and garlic, sautee another 5 minutes. Now cook your pasta – it only takes about 3-5 minutes. Once it is finished cooking, drain the noodles and add them to the skillet with the vegetables. Add the sour cream, parmesan cheese and extra butter, mix and serve.

Your Favorite Posts of 2011

 

I really want to take a moment to thank all of my readers and blogging friends for your support this year, both on this blog, as well as through Facebook and Twitter! As social media grows, it seems more of our interactions together take place on other websites, for example my Facebook page and Twitter account has amassed so many followers, I am just astounded and overwhelmed. I have really enjoyed getting to know many of you this way! Thank you!

It is hard to believe another year of blogging has gone by! Getting these posts together every year is always a great look back on all the wonderful food we have enjoyed. I hope all of you reading this also had a great 2011 and are all looking forward to 2012! Here are the top 10 posts from this year. If you enjoy something that I post, please click the “like” button at the top, to “like” it on facebook, also feel free to tweet about it or leave me a comment. This is very helpful to me to know what kinds of posts you all want to see!

Please leave a comment and let me know what kinds of posts you would like to see on this blog in 2012! Happy New Year!

 

NUMBER 10: Breakfast of Champions and my First YouTube!


 

Number 9: The BEST Gluten-Free Pancakes EVER

 

Number 8: Drying Apples For Winter Storage

 

Number 7: Raw Avocado Chocolate Pudding

 

Number 6: Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Parfaits

 

Number 5: Musings on Homesteading

 

Number 4: How to Make Kefir at Home…and Why You Should!

 

Number 3: DIY Holiday Gift Series: Dairy-Free Decadent Chocolate Truffles

 

Number 2: Making Yogurt at Home: Filmjölk

 

And your favorite post of 2011: Number 1: Got Raw Milk? Food Freedom Fighters!