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I look forward to the one day J. and I can sit down for breakfast. I am usually up early, running around while sleepy sounds are heard far from the kitchen. What will it be this morning? Coffee and croissants? Eggs with braised lentils and vegetables?

Perhaps something on the sweeter side…

 

 

I feel great excitement during the summer when I can make my way out to the herb garden and pluck a few fresh herbs to work into breakfast. Fresh thyme or rosemary for the scones or a mixture of sweet herbs for the scrambled eggs.

Such decisions… so early in the morning…

 

 

After the clanking, mixing and cracking of eggs, we can sit down to enjoy breakfast for some unhurried conversation before the day takes off. Since I rarely sleep in on the weekend, this quick pace early in the morning energizes me after a long restful night and sets the mood for a good day to come.

 

 

As with most recipes that have gluten in them, the conversion is pretty simple for gluten-free. Sometimes there are ones that need a little tweaking to have them turn out properly. Various gluten-free flours all have different reactions, but can easily be overcome if any issues arise.  I like to think the gluten-free mix I make at home will work every time, but there are recipes I use this mix for poorly resemble the real thing. But not to worry, a few alterations and were back on track.

 

For these good morning muffins, I added just a bit more mix to have them looking and tasting like traditional muffins.

 

“Delicious,” J. replied as the final test muffins were inhaled.

Bingo! Mission accomplished.

 

 

If you are not going gluten free, I encourage you to give these muffins a try. I thank all of the wonderful creative gluten-free bakers out there who have paved the way for us to enjoy a better gluten free life!

Enjoy!

 

Coconut Apple Carrot Muffin Recipe [makes 12 small muffins]

 

1 ½ cups gluten-free baking mix*

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

½ cup dark brown sugar

2 large whole eggs

 

½ cup buttermilk

6 Tablespoons sunflower oil

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

 

1/3 cup flaked coconut

1/3 cup apples, diced

1/3 cup carrots, peeled & diced

1/3 cup currants

 

½ cup flaked coconut [optional topping]

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

 

1. Whisk g/f mix, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt together. Set aside.

2. Mix together buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract together and set aside.

3. Whisk eggs and sugar together until pale and airy.

4. Mix wet ingredients and sugar mixture into the dry ingredient just until smooth.

5. Fold in coconut flakes, apples, carrots and currants.

6. Place one #20 scoop of batter in each baking cup.

7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until centers are done when tested with a toothpick.

*note: You can sprinkle the optional flaked coconut on the batter before baking or sprinkle a little sugar for a nice sugar crust.

 

I wasn’t planning on posting this recipe. However, I thought it looked rather delicious and I went ahead and arranged the chicken in my favorite copper pot and took this photo. Then right back to the table with dinner.

Most days in the kitchen, it’s just walking in and cooking. No recipes to follow, no precise measurements, just good clean cooking. Recipes are great as guidelines, but the fun part of cooking is adjusting, tasting and enjoying what comes to mind. Its excitement, a balancing act and I don’t think trying has ever hurt an impromptu meal.

 

We all find a particular style of cooking, preferring one method over the others. Braising is my top choice for cooking at home. Anything that has to do with infusing subtle flavors interests me. Fresh herbs, dried herbs, bundles, sachets and stocks all have a pleasant impact when braising.

 

Just about anything can be braised and any combinations can be tried, but the end result is always the same…tender.

 

So there you have it! Life is busy, braise with desire.

 

 

Braised Chicken w/ Chilies & Tomato Recipe [Serves 4]

 

4 chicken legs

2 Tablespoons sunflower oil -or- olive oil

 

½ medium onion, diced

1 large poblano pepper, diced

2 whole cloves

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 large garlic cloves, peeled & minced

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon crushed red chilies

 

¼ – ½ cup chicken stock

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

2-4 Tablespoons crème fraîche [optional enrichment]

1 cup cilantro leaves

 

1. Heat oil in a braising pan or large pot on low.

2. Place chicken in pan and lightly brown chicken on all sides.* Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Sauté onions and poblanos with cloves until tender.

4. Add garlic and spices and continue to cook for a few moments.

5. Add stock, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.

6. Return chicken to the pan and cover, simmer for 45 minutes or until tender.

7. Stir in crème fraîche and serve with cilantro.

 

*note: I prefer to gently sear chicken for braising as it keeps the chicken from falling apart towards the end. Then I remove the skin and discard. For a deeper flavor, brown the chicken well on all sides and continue with the recipe. Serve with potatoes or rice.

As it is with baking in the kitchen here at home I am always trying new ideas. This gluten free chocolate cake was a big hit back in September. So I changed things up a bit and worked in some fresh pears and pistachios. The cake again was really nice, but I didn’t want to revisit my failed attempt at making a Swiss buttercream just yet, to frost and decorate. The next best thing…trifles!

 

There are times I leave out the frosting and go for glazes or creams. With a few easy ingredients and some cute glasses, these trifles assemble quickly, sadly they disappear too fast.  I now realize I should have spooned some chocolate glaze on them. With extra cake always around, there will definitely be some next time.

 

Soft whipped cream, tender chocolate cake and ripe pears… yum.

This chocolate cake recipe can be used for whole cakes, cupcakes, mini chocolate loaves, etc. It is very versatile, moist, and has beautiful texture. I think you will just love this recipe.

Have a great start to your week!

 

Chocolate Pear Cake Recipe [makes one 8 inch round]

 

¾ cup g/f baking mix*

1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted

¼ cup pistachio flour [-or- use more g/f mix]

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

½ cup dark brown sugar

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

 

2 eggs

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

2 large firm pears, peeled, cored and grated

 

Preheat oven to 350°F

Butter and line an eight inch cake pan.

 

1. Whisk together g/f baking mix, cocoa powder, pistachio flour, spices, baking soda and sea salt. Set Aside.

2. Cream together butter and sugar together until light, approximately 5 minutes.

3. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.

4. Alternately mix in dry mixture and wet mixture into the creamed butter until fully incorporated.

5. Fold in grated pears and spread into prepared pan.

6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan and invert onto a cooling rack to completely cool.

7. Cut or break cake into bite sized pieces.

*note: If your pears are ripe and very juicy, drain or squeeze out the moisture. This will help the cake from becoming soggy.

 

 

Spiced Pear Recipe

 

4 firm ripe pears

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

1 Tablespoons cane sugar -or- honey
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

1. Peel, core and chop pears.

2. Melt butter on medium-low heat and add remaining ingredients.

3. Gently sauté until pear are just tender. Cool.

 

to complete trifles:

 

2 cups cream

4 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

¼ – ½ cup pistachios, roughly chopped

 

1. Whip cream with sugar until just soft peaks.

2. Layer ingredients: sautéed pears, whipped cream, pistachios, cake.

3. Repeat step 2 until the serving vessel is full then top with whipped cream and pistachios.

Serves 8 portions.

 

Last weekend I was working on a few recipes and one of them was for this sweet treat. In the midst of tackling the weekly dust buffalos at home, I managed to come up with a nice recipe for gluten free galettes.

 

As un-romantic as cleaning sounds, these galettes were perfect for the two of us. Forgive me as I find myself lost in these galettes. Sometimes it’s just the way it goes.

 

As we sat enjoying the galettes, my mind starts to wander off dreaming of new house projects, a new coat of paint for the office, one for the bathroom, a few new furnishings, and of course some new kitchen essentials. I am definitely ready for some bright new kitchen towels, updating some cookware and more baking supplies… where to start?

 

 

Spring is on the way and approaching fast, lists need to be made; paint needs to be bought, projects checked off before gardening and outdoor fun can begin. January and February are still times of nestling away and daydreaming of spring. Certainly a great time to refresh the home where time is still a bit relaxed.

 

Cleaning continues, unfortunately. Each time I passed the galettes, dustpan in hand, I smiled, sneaking another bite. When you’re alone in the kitchen, who’s to see!

 

 

Do you have any favorite desserts for two? I would love to hear about them!

 

Pear-Berry galette Recipe [serves 4]

 

1 cup millet flour

½ cup tapioca flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

6 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

2 egg yolks

1 whole egg

½ teaspoon sea salt

 

2 large firm, ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

 

1 large egg, beaten

2 Tablespoons granular sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

 

1 Tablespoon finely chopped pistachios

½ cup fresh raspberries

 

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

preparing the galette dough:

1. Combine millet flour and tapioca flour together, set aside.

2. Cream the butter with the salt and whip in confectioner’s sugar until smooth.

3. Beat in egg yolks and whole egg.

4. Add flour mixture and mix until smooth and dough forms.

5. Press into a flat disc and chill for 4 hours.

 

preparing the fruit filling:

1. Core and slice pears.

2. Combine the granular sugar and cornstarch and toss with pears. Set aside.

 

assembling & baking the galettes:

1. Divide dough into four equal pieces.

2. Roll out each dough piece on a millet floured parchment paper into a rustic circle shape.

3. Place one-fourth of the pears in the center and gather up edges; place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

4. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. Combine the remaining sugar with cinnamon.

5. Brush the dough with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until galettes are lightly golden.

7. Garnish galettes with fresh raspberries and finely chopped pistachios.

 

*note: When working with this gluten-free galette dough, allow the dough to warm up a bit before rolling, as cold dough will crack. Keep the rolling surface well-floured so the dough will not stick to the parchment. This dough is rather soft at room temperature, so if it needs a quick chill down, throw them in the refrigerator for a few minutes and continue. Once you have the time limit down you will enjoy making these as much as I do!

 

*note: If you are not going gluten-free then try this galette dough recipe.

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