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Saturday
Sep172011

Cinnamon Pear Pancakes with Spiced Honey

Earthy, bold flavors are what come to mind when I think of Autumn. Toasty hazelnuts, spices, pumpkin, beets, and fennel are a few favorites, not to mention fruits like figs, persimmons and apples. I was home last weekend to find my mom’s tree overflowing with pears, so I gathered as many as I could carry to bring with me back to the city. I let them sit in the fruit basket for the week to ripen some more, and come Saturday morning they were ready to be devoured.

 

Instead of maple syrup, I topped the cakes with a spiced honey that was so good I could barely contain myself. I actually don’t think you should make these pancakes unless you’re going to serve them with the spiced honey! The gluten and grain-free batter uses almond flour, which adds a heartiness and buttery flavor that satisfy much more than the refined flour and sugar-filled breakfast of stomach-pains past. 

 

CINNAMON PEAR PANCAKES WITH SPICED HONEY :: Makes about 10

Be sure to use pears that are not overripe, otherwise they’ll turn to mush when you try and grate them. If you have some super soft pears that you’re just dying to use, puree them in a blender with the eggs before mixing with dry ingredients. You may need to add less water or milk to the final batter. 

2 cups almond flour 2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 ripe but firm pears, cored and grated 3 eggs water or milk to thin the batter, as needed 1/2 cup honey 1/8 tsp. each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves 1 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil more butter or coconut oil, for the pan

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add grated pears (about 2 cups). 

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir until moistened. Add water by 1/4 cup until desired consistency is reached– not too thin, but not too sticky.

Heat a griddle or nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Add a tablespoon of butter or coconut oil. Scoop batter by 1/4 cup onto the griddle, and gently shape with the back of the spoon to help them spread. 

Cook for 3-4 minutes each side– you want to wait for bubbles to form before flipping them. They burn easily, so keep the heat lower than you think you need to, and be patient with them.

Meanwhile, combine honey, spices, and butter or coconut oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. Stirring occasionally, warm until honey is smooth and resembles the consistency of maple syrup. Keep warm until ready to serve.

When pancakes are finished cooking, pile onto a plate and drizzle with warm spiced honey. Accompaniments: broiled pears and a slice of bacon.

Saturday
Jul022011

Peaches, berries and summer fare

It’s our last morning of a week-long retreat in the mountains of Lake Tahoe. As I type, sitting in front of a wide, sun-lit window, I am gazing out over the calm, glassy lake and marveling in the stillness of nature. 

I have had plenty of time to cook and bake this week. Somehow, whenever I’m on “vacation,” I am not only hungrier but I crave sweet treats much more often. I am definitely not one to ever skip dessert, but since my family is so active I wanted to make something that wouldn’t weigh us down. 

This had me grabbing peaches and berries by the armful. Fruit makes such a wonderful dessert. Inherently sweet, and you don’t need much to dress it up. I used the fruit all week long in so many ways!

Juicy peaches and blackberries made a quick cobbler. A great topping is the one here, or you could simply toss some oats with maple syrup and butter (or coconut oil) and sprinkle over.

Baked oatmeal always tastes so indulgent for breakfast. Like cold pie on the day after Thanksgiving. This one, based on the recipe here, used peaches, blueberries and almonds.

Plump and delicate raspberries were the stars of these unbelievable bars. The crust is based on the one I use for Pecan Pie Squares, only with maple syrup instead of brown sugar. With only a handful of ingredients necessary to throw them together, along with their ability to be served warm, at room temperature, or cold, I’ll be making these all summer long. 

Stay tuned for recipes in the coming posts. With the holiday weekend upon us, these next few days are sure to find me feasting some more. I’m anxious to know: What summer fare will grace your tables?

Friday
Apr292011

Banana Walnut Fudge

Growing up, Easter morning meant we were each greeted with a basket of jelly beans, chocolates, candies galore and a little toy or two. This breakfast of champions was followed by brunch or egg-hunting with friends, more sweets, and an afternoon sugar crash. 

I have nothing but fond and fun memories of my childhood Easters. But nowadays, if I tried to duplicate a day like that, I’d be on the floor by 10:30am in a sugar-induced coma. Nonetheless, the spirit of Easter persisted this year and a craving for something smooth and chocolaty had me whipping out the mixing bowls. 

 

Since I do my best to avoid sugar these days, this fudge is sweetened entirely with ripe bananas. The fruit puree is held together with walnuts and a bit of cocoa, and… that’s it. Three ingredients for a quick and delectable treat. Keeping with the tradition of years’ past, I ate most of it myself.

 

Banana Walnut Fudge :: Makes 24 squares

2 1/2 cups raw walnuts 3 ripe bananas 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

– Line an 8×8 glass baking dish with plastic wrap, and set aside.

– In a food processor, pulse 2 cups walnuts until a fine crumb is formed. Add the bananas and process until completely smooth. Add cocoa powder and process again until incorporated. Add remaining 1/2 cup walnuts and pulse a few times, just to chop. Leave them a bit chunky. 

– Spread mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish. Place in the freezer for 3-4 hours, until firm. Slice and serve immediately. Store in an airtight container, or wrapped tightly in plastic, in the freezer.

Sunday
Apr102011

Almond flax flapjacks

This week was spent trying to adapt to a new schedule and carving out a routine. We acquired furniture, made daily trips to the grocery store, and I think I still have boxes and bags to unpack. We scouted for the best deals, negotiated closet space, tried to be organized, and spent a great deal of time stumbling into each other on dark weekday mornings as Elliott started the coffee pot and I got the tea water boiling.

What I’ve done twice now is take the 20-minute walk to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning. I’m making it a tradition. I’m so glad we’re close enough to do this, as I like nothing more than fresh produce, eggs and flowers from local growers. For me, it’s the perfect way to start the weekend. Last week I found a small thyme plant that now sits on the kitchen windowsill; yesterday I splurged on some impossibly fragrant lavender salt and rich, decadent olive oil, both of which topped last night’s roasted baby artichokes. But that’s another post.

 

My mom was nice enough to come up on Tuesday to take me kitchen shopping. Without the basic necessities like sharp knives and saucepans, our meals for the first few nights included garlic smashed with the back of a spoon, and whole vegetables roasted with fish in my beloved cast-iron pan. And with only one fork in our silverware drawer, we took turns between stabbing and scooping until our collection was complete.

There have been a few noteworthy meals this week that I can’t wait to share, but I think I’ll start with some high protein pancakes I threw together on Thursday afternoon (and again Saturday morning). Besides peeling myself off the couch to make this quick snack, I didn’t do much that day in between popping vitamin C pills and napping. I’m not the best at adapting to new situations, and I guess my immune system took a hard hit with the stress of it all. Despite this, my appetite was still intact and a few of these dense-but-light cakes were delicious mid-afternoon. Smeared with a little almond butter or coconut cream, they’re perfect.

 

Almond Flax Flapjacks :: Makes 6 

3 eggs 1 tablespoon water + 1/3 cup or so a few liberal shakes of ground cinnamon and ginger 1 tablespoon raw honey (or more to taste) 1 cup almond meal (you can use store-bought almond flour, but I used a coarse meal that I had ground myself) 1/2 cup finely-ground flaxseed meal generous pinch of sea salt 1/4 teaspoon baking soda coconut oil for cooking

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with 1 tablespoon water, the spices and honey. Add almond meal, flaxseed, salt and baking soda and stir to combine. At this point, start adding water in modest splashes until your desired consistency is reached. The flax will absorb quite a bit of liquid, but you also don’t want to go overboard. My batter was thick enough so that they didn’t spread much in the pan, but thin enough so that they weren’t too dense. 

On a large, flat griddle (cast-iron pan didn’t work well for me on Saturday; uneven browning), melt a tablespoon or two of coconut oil over medium heat. Drop batter by the 1/4 cup and cook until bubbles start to form and you can see browning around the edges. Flip and cook a few minutes more. 

Serve with nut butter, coconut cream, or a drizzle of honey.

Sunday
Mar272011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

When it’s been raining for weeks, your mind is exhausted, you barely have time to think and you’ve just signed the lease on your first apartment, there’s really only one thing to do: bake cookies. 

How does one preface the chocolate chip cookie? There’s no real way that hasn’t been done before, so I’ll just jump right in and say that the occasion for these cookies is that I’m in need of some good, old-fashioned comfort food. The past few weeks have been pure insanity, and like I said before, I’m in the middle of a few rather monumental transitions. I need all the help I can get, and what better place to find it than in the kitchen?

 

Show me a childhood that isn’t accented by the sweet, chewy crumb of a perfect chocolate chip cookie and I’ll be baffled. Whether store-bought or lovingly homemade, they have soothed and comforted me in times of distress, come oatmeal-flecked and wrapped in shoeboxes to my Freshman dorm to remind me I have a mother who cares, replaced birthday cake when baked into squares, and somehow taste just as magical no matter how many culinary spins put on them (cranberries, white chocolate, walnuts…).

But because I’m slightly nostalgic for simpler times, the simplest version of cookie it was. The recipe for these cookies came about after I took a cruise around Elana’s Pantry in search of almond flour recipes. Mine is entirely different than hers, but she provided the inspiration I needed to dive into baking with almond flour. Full of protein, healthy fat, vitamins and minerals, blanched almond flour will not only please grain-haters, but will keep you satisfied with fewer cookies. 

At once strong and sweet and delicate, I doubt you’ll miss the all-purpose flour in these gooey treats. Once again, I find solace in the chocolate chip cookie… At least until Monday.

 

Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies :: Makes 24

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)  1/2 teaspoon sea salt  1/2 teaspoon baking soda  1/2 cup melted coconut oil (measure after melting. Do not use microwave; double-boiler method does the trick)  1/2 teaspoon almond extract  3 Tablespoons raw honey  1/3 cup water  1 bar dark chocolate, chopped  2 Tablespoons milled golden flaxseed 

  1. Preheat oven to 350’. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine almond flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. Stir together the melted oil, almond extract, honey and water until thoroughly combined.
  4. Mix wet ingredients and chocolate chunks into the dry ingredients, folding a few times with a spatula. Batter will slightly runny.
  5. Add milled flaxseed and incorporate. I did this to get the batter to thicken up a bit, so if 2 tablespoons isn’t enough for you, just keep adding a little at a time until batter has reached desired consistency.
  6. Drop by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes or more, until cookies have spread slightly and are golden on top. Bake longer than you think you need to! Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then serve. Please store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (I actually liked them better after they firmed up in the fridge).