Thursday, September 13, 2012

Almost Paleo Peach Pie for One or Two

Excuse the Instagrammed photos in this post. This blog has obviously been neglected since I started grad school. Last week my husband brought home a box containing sixteen pounds of Colorado peaches. SIXTEEN POUNDS! 

Initially, I felt overwhelmed. I'm actually not a big peach person. I never buy them at the grocery store. As soon as I bit into one of these, I changed my tune. How have I been living this long without them? I started searching my favorite blogs to find recipes to use them up. I found a great recipe for single-serving peach cobbler on Joy the Baker and changed it up a bit to make it paleo-friendly and also less topping-heavy. I didn't cut out all the sugar though, because brown sugar & peaches are a match made in heaven. I also left in some of the oats because...well, I felt like it. It ended up making the perfect amount of pie topping and I served it with a small spoonful of peach ice cream (I said almooost paleo!) and whipped cream, slightly sweetened with honey. If you find yourself with sixteen pounds of peaches, or even just one, give this a try and you'll have two perfectly sized portions of peach pie in about 30 minutes. 

(Almost) Paleo Peach Pie for One or Two
Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 peach
2 tbsp almond flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1.5 tbsp gluten free oats (you can skip these, but add 1.5 tbsp more almond flour or coconut if you do)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp butter or coconut oil
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven heats up, cut the peach in half and scoop out just a little bit of the inside to make room for the topping. Feel free to deposit these spoonfuls directly into your mouth. Put one half, cut-side up into a small ramekin (or you can put both halves in a small baking dish). Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix using your fingers. Divide the mixture in two and top each half of the peach. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve (almost) immediately. Don't burn your tongue.

If you don't have a friend to share with and can resist eating both halves at once, you can put one in the refrigerator and reheat it the next day. It will be just as good. It might keep longer, but I haven't been able to resist eating them long enough to find out.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Easiest Chocolate Cake


It has been almost one year since I posted in this blog. What have I been up to? Mostly running back and forth between two jobs, while somehow finding the time to successfully complete two semesters of graduate school. Things are less busy now. I just have two jobs, an internship, and two online summer classes.

Okay, so maybe not really less busy. But I'm here anyway.

Recently it was a friend of mine's birthday. That friend likes his chocolate, so I brought this cake to his party. People I'd never met asked if I was some sort of gourmet baker. It got tons and tons of compliments. So many that I was almost embarrassed. Why? Because this is the easiest chocolate cake to make. Ever.

The Easiest Chocolate Cake Adapted from Orangette

7oz dark chocolate or chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa)
7oz butter
1 cup plus 2 T sugar
5 eggs
1 T flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Chop the chocolate (if using bars) and butter and microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring, until completely melted. Stir in the sugar. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the eggs one at a time. Finally, add the flour and pour into a greased 8-inch round pan. Bake for 25 minutes. The middle of the cake should barely jiggle.

You can serve it with a dusting of powdered sugar or some whipped cream. It's super chocolatey on it's own, but if you want to get crazy....

Ganache Glaze
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
8oz dark chocolate (at least 60%)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Chop the chocolate and set aside. Combine the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the chocolate and let sit for two minutes, then stir until smooth.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Simple Vegan Cheesecake

Vegan Cheesecake

Hey there, long time, no see. My hiatus was partly laziness, partly technical difficulties, but I'm back with a new computer and new photo editing software and hopefully it will be better than ever?

This week was my friend Derek's birthday. He recently went vegan and wanted some cheesecake. I took the challenge and scoured the internet for recipes, eventually settling on the first one that comes up when you google "vegan cheesecake." It seemed to have good reviews and didn't require any fancy, expensive ingredients so I was all for it.

I started this morning by making vegan graham crackers because all the ones at the store contained honey. I was afraid they wouldn't crisp up properly and some of the thicker ones didn't, but that was mostly my fault for not rolling the dough thin enough. Most of them crisped up perfectly though.

Vegan Graham Crackers

I was a little nervous about the cheesecake base setting, but it turned out perfectly. Turns out, vegan cheesecake isn't so scary after all! Give it a try for the lovely vegans in your life.

Vegan Cheesecake

Vegan Cheesecake

Part One: Crust

About 10 graham crackers (store bought or from recipe posted above)
1/4 cup evaporated cane juice
1/3 cup Earth Balance, melted

Put the the graham crackers in a zip lock bag and pound them with a meat hammer (ironic, no?) or a rolling pin until broken up into fine crumbs. In a bowl, combine the crumbs with the sugar, then add the Earth Balance and mix well. Press into a pie plate and chill until ready to use.

Part Two: Filling
Adapted from All Recipes

12 oz. silken firm tofu
1/2 cup almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Scrapings from one vanilla bean (optional, I used one from an old jar of homemade vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until well combined. That's it. I almost forgot the maple syrup and tried the filling before hand it and it was definitely sweet enough on it's own. I added half the amount the original recipe called for and end result did have a subtle maple flavor. If you aren't a maple fan or want a plainer flavored cake, try adding even less or skipping it completely.

Vegan Cheesecake

Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake for 40 minutes or until the middle is just barely jiggly.

Put in the fridge and allow to chill completely. Garnish with fresh berries, chocolate, or whatever else you can come up with!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Perfect Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Remember when I told you about my plan to bake a loaf of bread from scratch every week?

Well, I thought you should know that I have definitely kept that promise. Every single week my kitchen fills with aroma of bread dough rising and then baking. I've made dozens of different kinds and now consider myself a master bread baker.


I made that one loaf, and another the next week...and this one in February. I haven't bought any bread at the store though, so it's not like I'm cheating. We just don't eat a lot of bread around here. Maybe I should give it another go and aim for once a month. That seems much more reasonable.

Anyway, the title really says it all here folks. The people at Cook's Illustrated know what they are talking about. There are a lot of steps (I broke it into two days), but the work is worth it. This bread is light but sturdy, with a crispy crust and soft interior. The recipe makes two loaves. I froze one and used it a week or two later. The crust wasn't as crisp, it was softer, more like the crust of the bread you would buy at the grocery store. If you prefer that texture, freeze the loaves for a few days and let thaw out before using. Otherwise, eat them as fast as you can!

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Perfect Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Day One- Make Biga and Soaker:

2 cups bread flour
1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
1/2 tsp instant yeast

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until mixed well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave out on the counter for 8-24 hours.

3 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 cups whole milk

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon for about one minute. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Put it back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in refrigerator for 8-24 hours.

Day 2- Rise and Bake:

1/4 cup honey
4 tsp table salt
2 tbsp instant yeast
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Take the soaker out of the fridge and tear into small, gumball sized pieces and put in the bowl a stand mixer. Clean the bowl it was in. Add the biga, honey, salt, eyast, butter and oil and mix using the dough hook for about 2 minutes. Then up the speed to medium and mix until dough is elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Roll the dough into a ball with your hands and put it into the clean (and lightly greased) bowl the soaker was in earlier. Let rise for 45 minutes.

Press the air out of the dough lightly and then hold the edge the dough and fold it over. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat 7 more times. Cover and let rise for 45 more minutes.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease two loaf pans.

Divide the dough into two equally sized pieces and, using your hands, form each one into about an 8 by 17 inch rectangle. Then roll it from the short side, making a cylinder, pinch the ends close and place it seam side down in the loaf pan. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Cover the loaves with plastic wrap and rise let them sit and rise for another 60-90 minutes, until they are about 1 inch taller than the bread pan.

After the loaves have risen, make a shallow slash down the loaf lengthwise and put them in the oven. Put an empty loaf pan on the lowest oven rack and add two cups of boiling water (I just microwaved some), then close the door and put the temperature down to 350 degrees. Bake about 40-50 minutes and rotate halfway through.

Allow the loaves to cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before cutting, if you can resist the smell of freshly baked bread (I couldn't).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Creamy Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

Creamy Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

I'm not going to lie to you. This dish is not very attractive (It looks just like this one specific thing that I won't mention here or else you will be totally turned off from ever giving it a shot). It is all brown. And blah. Normally I try to avoid such monochrome things, but there are veggies hidden in here (well, one veggie), so I give it a pass. You might want to serve it with something colorful though. Just sayin'.

This is a healthy macaroni and cheese recipe by Mark Bittman (I saw it linked to recently on Carrots 'N Cake). It may not be ooey, gooey, or overly cheese like the mac and cheese that you may love, but it is pretty darn good and the fact that it is good for you? That is also good. Good, good, good. Believe me. I am kind of a mac & cheese snob. My mother used to make the kind that came in a blue box with the thick liquid cheese sauce in a shiny silver packet. At some point, this grossed me out (Adult Laura is proud of you, former tiny self). The first time I ever had mac & cheese I liked was at Michael Jordan's restaurant in Chicago. It was made with real cheese. Nothing from a silver packet. It was good.

Since then, I only eat that fancy old-fashioned mac and cheese. None of that powdered microwave garbage.

Anyway, that had very little to do with this recipe, because it won't make you forget about the gooey cheesey goodness that is gourmet macaroni and cheese. There is no cream, no butter, and a modest amount of cheese. The bulk of the sauce is made up of pureed cauliflower. It tastes fantastic and won't make you feel like you are going to have a heart attack as its creamy, cheesy cousins might. In fact, it makes you feel great, like you are going to live a very long time and you can go off and run a 5K in a few hours. (which is actually what I'm going to go do).

If you're craving mac and cheese, this might not satisfy you. If you are craving a healthy, filling, vegetarian, protein-packed dish, then this is a winner (20 grams of protein if you're curious).

Creamy Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Mark Bittman

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
8 oz. whole wheat elbow macaroni
1/2 cup cheese (I used gruyere & emmantal, Bittman also suggests sharp cheddar)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup whole grain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Preheat the oven and get a pot of salted water boiling. In a small saucepan, heat the vegetable stock with the bay leaves for 5 minutes, then remove the bay leaves and set aside.


Cook the cauliflower in the water for 25 minutes. Remove the cauliflower from the water. If you haven't read through this recipe well beforehand, you might just get out a colander and dump the cauliflower into it and the water down the drain. Don't do that. Use a spoon or tongs and put it into a food processor. It may be slightly annoying, but then you already have boiling water to cook the pasta in. How nifty. If there is a little bit of cauliflower still floating in the water, don't worry. It's cool.

Cook the pasta for 5 minutes. You can totally dump that in a colander when you're done and rinse it in cold water. Then put it into a greased pan. I used a 7x11 pyrex dish. Bittman suggests a 9 inch square pan. I don't have one of those.

Add the vegetable broth to the cauliflower and process until combined. Then add oil, cheese, mustard, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to the food processor and pulse a few more times.

Creamy Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Pour the sauce over the macaroni and stir a little. Be careful, the dish will be very full. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parmesan on top and bake for 20 mintues. If you only have 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, then look into your pantry and the perfect substitue might be staring you in the face.

Matzo Meal

Makes four very large and very filling servings.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Damn Good Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter

Earlier this year, Adam and I decided to stop by Hell's Kitchen for their famous brunch. I had the lemon ricotta pancakes, which were delicious, but that is not what we are going to talk about today.

Today we're here to discuss....peanut butter.

I had read something on the menu about their peanut butter, but didn't give it much thought. They brought some out with Adam's toast, but I didn't give it a second look until I was done with my pancakes and waiting for him to finish, a frequent occurrence, as I am married to the world's slowest eater. I was bored and I put a tiny scoop on my plate, wiped it up with my finger, and put it in my mouth.

My life changed.

I'm not sure if it was for better or worse. Better maybe, because I had just tasted the best peanut butter in the entire world. Worse maybe, because I cannot eat any other peanut butter again. I bough a small jar for $6 and it disappeared way to fast for it to become my new go-to peanut butter. I decided I would have to recreate it myself. Then I remembered that the Internet exists and just looked it up. I made myself a batch and it tastes just like the real thing. It is a little bit thicker and it doesn't spread as easily, so you just have to use a little more. Once you taste it though, you won't be complaining about that one bit.

Damn Good Peanut Butter
Adapted from Village Voice

3 cups raw salted spanish peanuts, skins on (I bought mine at NutsOnline)*
6 tbsp honey
5 tbsp light brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
7 tbsp peanut oil
5 tbsp unsalted butter

*You can also skip the first step and buy pre-roasted nuts if you are lazy. I won't judge you.

Preheat the oven to 375. Spread the peanuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 50 minutes, rotating the sheet 180 degrees at the half-way point.
Raw Peanuts

When they are done, they should look like this:
Roasted Peanuts

According the Mitch Omer, the chef, "If they look like espresso coffee beans, well, you fucked up. Start over." Hopefully you don't have to start over. Let them cool before proceeding.

Put the cooled peanuts into a food processor and process for just about 30 seconds. The consistency should be like really chunky sand. Transfer them to the bowl of a stand mixer (but keep the food processor handy) and mix in the honey, brown sugar, and salt with the paddle attachement for about one minute.

In the food processor, mix the butter and peanut oil for about 10 seconds, until emulsified. Then add this to the stand mixer bowl and stir on low until well-mixed.

The recipe says it will keep in a jar for 4 weeks, but I doubt it will be around that long.

Peanut Butter