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!

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!

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!


Wheat-Free Pumpkin Oat Bread

A delicious gluten-free addition to your Thanksgiving Table, would also make a great bread base for stuffing.

 

Back when I was eating wheat, I had a great time making bread. My bible in this regard was Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. It really is an amazing bread baking book. I have tried many recipes in the book, and all turn out beautifully!
Once I found out I had was allergic to wheat, I had to start all over, and it was hard. I had gotten into sourdough bread baking, but once I had no gluten to work with, the bread I made became briquettes. It was a sad time in our house. My husband who is from Italy and eats bread with every single meal had to rely on local suppliers. So, I developed some standbys that we both enjoyed (I eat so little bread, it doesn’t make sense to make a loaf all for myself), like Scottish Oat Cakes, Scones and Buckwheat-Quinoa Biscuits, items that could easily be frozen if we didn’t eat them fast enough.
But sometimes, I missed sandwiches and wanted a loaf bread that fit the bill. Imagine my excitement when Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients came out, featuring some gluten-free recipes. But I was disappointed to see that all the recipes contained various gums and GF additives that I don’t keep around the house.
After struggling with this for about a year or so, it dawned on me, why not try some of my favorite bread recipes from the original Artisan Bread book, and just use GF flours? So that is what I did, and it worked out beautifully.
I describe this bread as wheat-free and not gluten-free because I know some GF folks can’t do oats. So far, I have been fine with oats (must be my Scottish blood) and I also get a certified GF Oat flour (See recipe for sources) from Bob’s Red Mill. I really like baking bread with oat flour. It has the most similar consistency to wheat that I have found, with buckwheat coming in second place. So those are the two flours I have used for this recipe.

The bread is super flavorful and has a beautiful crumb. You really don’t taste the pumpkin in it, the pumpkin mostly gives it a lot of moisture. My favorite way to eat it is with a nice slather of butter, absolutely delicious!
I have struggled with trying not to use yeast when baking, but I have come back around and decided to start using it again. I have not found a technique to make delicious fluffy (think, not brick hard) bread items without the use of either yeast or baking soda. Sourdough just doesn’t work for me, much as I have tried with buying cultures and with trying to catch my own wild…they just never, ever bubble.

INGREDIENTS:
2 C. lukewarm water
1 ½ TBS yeast
1 TBS salt
2 TBS warmed honey

5 TBS warmed coconut oil or olive oil or melted butter
1 C pumpkin puree
3 cups buckwheat flour
½ cup Bob’s Red Mill Organic Scottish Oatmeal, 20-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4)

3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain Oat Flour — 22 oz

 

METHOD:
Mix water, yeast, salt and honey in a large non-reactive bowl, stir gently and allow the yeast to bloom for about 1-2 minutes. Then mix all the other ingredients, in the order listed, adding the flour one cup at a time to incorporate evenly. Cover with a towel and allow to sit for 8 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare a loaf pan by smearing it with butter or oil and scrape the dough into the prepared pan. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until an inserted fork comes out clean.
Makes one 3 1/2 lb loaf *

*Variation – also makes great rolls. You can see what the rolls look like on my Autumn Bisque Post.

The BEST Gluten-Free Pancakes EVER!

 

Many of my regular readers and Facebook followers will know that I have been trying to find the perfect pancake recipe for a while with many disasters. When I was still eating wheat, I was trying to find a good sourdough version, and did with my Sourdough Crêpes. Then, once I became gluten-free, I managed the perfect Coconut Pancakes -wheat-free, grain free pancakes using coconut flour. But these yeasted buckwheat pancakes that ferment overnight are absolutely incredible. They are the best pancakes I have actually ever tasted, restrictions aside. Plus they are gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free – perfect for people with multiple intolerances/allergies.

My dear readers, these pancakes were so good, that I almost cried. Seriously. When you have food intolerances, it is the simple foods that are the hardest to find substitutes for – things like pancakes, pizza crust, pie crust, and bread etc – all the quick and easy go-to foods. Plus for us, Sunday morning pancakes and Friday evening pizza had become traditions that we shared and looked forward to every week. So losing the tradition aspect is really hard.

When you don’t have a substitute you experience many frustrating moments in the kitchen. These are not recipes you can just come up with in the moment either. Learning to bake without wheat, grains, eggs or dairy for that matter means you can’t use the old techniques that you are used to. You have to learn how the new flours work, which leavening agents to use, how to thicken without eggs, etc. Many on-the-fly experiences end in disaster, leading to more frustration.

Sometimes all you want is a regular ‘ol grilled cheese sandwich, or a plate of pancakes with butter and maple syrup.

These pancakes answer the call.

 

I cannot take the credit though; these pancakes are the recipe of my gluten-free guru and good friend Amy Green from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. Based on a recipe she got from Beard On Bread by James Beard. I love her recipes because I know that I can eat them. There is no gluten or refined sugars in her recipes which means I don’t have to think about substitutions. She really is quite an amazing cook and well educated in the culinary arts – she is currently going to culinary school a lifelong dream she thought she would never realize because of her gluten issues. But she is there learning, and then comes home and applies her learning to figuring out gluten free versions to the most prized baked goods – things like croissants and cream puffs. Can’t wait for those!

Whether it is her mission or not, she takes the guesswork out of it for people like me who are just learning to live a life without gluten and who has a spouse that loves his breads and pastries. I think what makes Amy’s style so appealing is that her husband is not gluten-free either and yet they eat the same meals, so in her quest to feed him the foods he loves, she has to come up with gluten-free versions that are close to the real deal! Which is exactly what I need!

 

So if you are gluten-free or thinking about going that route, I strongly suggest you get her newly released cookbook Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free: 180 Easy and Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less, it is full of delicious recipes that even your non-gluten-free friends and family will enjoy! If you purchase it through my link, I will get a small kickback.
Now that I know how much I love these pancakes, I will likely make 2 batches and freeze one. If you are a small family, you might even have leftovers from the initial batch. This will make quick breakfasts nutritious and delicious!

*TIP: I always preheat my oven to 200F, and as each batch of pancakes finishes, I put them on a cookie sheet in the oven to keep them warm. Once all the pancakes are cooked, the cast iron skillet is nice and clean and hot to cook bacon or sausage.

Now for the recipe

Yeasted Buckwheat Pancakes


makes about 20 (3-inch) pancakes

INGREDIENTS:

1 package (7 grams) instant dry yeast
2 cups (500 grams) warm water (about 100°F)
1 teaspoon (4 grams) kosher salt
2 cups (260 grams) buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons (42 grams) blackstrap molasses ( I used date syrup)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, melted

I also added 1 tsp of ground cinnamon

METHOD:
Combine the yeast, warm water, salt, and buckwheat flour in a large bowl. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel and let it sit overnight.
The next day, mix in the molasses or date syrup, baking soda, and melted butter. The batter will be relatively thin. Heat a large pan or griddle over medium heat. Lightly butter the surface and drop 1/4 cup of the batter onto the hot surface. Let it cook until the surface bubbles, then flip it and let it cook all the way through, about 30 seconds. Serve hot with butter and warm honey (we did butter and maple).