gluten free/ snacks/ vegan

Chickpea Cookie Dough Cups

Ingredients~

Chocolate cups:
1/3 cup (71.94 g/2.54 oz) cocoa butter, melted (or use coconut oil, but know that it has a slightly lower room-temperature melting point)
1/3 cup cacao powder
2 tbsps brown rice syrup, maple syrup, or other liquid sweetener of choice
Pinch or two of flaky salt to top the final layer

Cookie dough:
1 (425 g) can chickpeas, drained and thoroughly rinsed (you can save the chickpea water for aquafaba!)
1/4 cup brown rice syrup or other liquid sweetener of choice
3 soft and gooey medjool dates*, roughly chopped
3 heaped tbsps natural peanut butter, almond butter, or other nut butter of choice
2 tbsps coconut butter, softened (or coconut oil or more nut butter)
1-2 tbsps milk of choice (add as needed for a less thick consistency)
1 1/4 tsps vanilla extract
Generous pinch of salt
Dash or two of cinnamon
3-5 tbsps cacao nibs, mini chocolate chips, or roughly chopped chocolate of choice

*deglet noor dates will also work, but you will probably need closer to 5 (since medjool are much larger), plus, it may help to soak them in warm water for 10-15 minutes before blending if they are on the dry side!

Instructions~

1. In a non-stick pan or double boiler set-up over low-medium heat, melt the cocoa butter (or, if using coconut oil, melt it over the stove or simply use the microwave~ aha). Once melted, pour it into a large bowl and whisk in the cacao powder and liquid sweetener of choice. Prepare the cupcake liners (I recommend using silicone/reusable cups to make it easier to remove them) on a plate and pour 1-2 spoonfuls of chocolate into each cup (be sure to save about half of the chocolate for topping the cups later); place the plate in the freezer to harden up.
2. Next, make the cookie dough by blending the chickpeas, rice syrup (or other liquid sweetener), dates, peanut butter, coconut butter, vanilla extract, and a pinch or two of salt and cinnamon in a food processor or in an immersion blender cup. Add milk 1 tbsp at a time if you feel the cookie dough is too thick for your liking! Stir in the cacao nibs or chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
3. Drop a spoonful of cookie dough in the center of each cup, making sure that there is a little bit of space between the cookie dough and cupcake liner, so that the chocolate can trickle down and create a wall around the center! Allow the cups to continue to harden in the freezer for ~20 minutes or the fridge for ~45-60 minutes, until the chocolate has fully hardened and your finger doesn’t leave an imprint when pressed into it.

mains

Homemade Garlic Croutons

I’m an avid salad eater; I practically eat them by the bucket-full, and sometimes I find myself daydreaming about new salad dressing combinations at work when I’m supposed to be focusing on the task at hand. Sometimes. The salads I eat are not little mounds of shredded iceberg lettuce topped with a few drizzles of bottled ranch dressing. I’m not hating if that’s your favorite, go-to salad; go for it and enjoy it, but, if I can be perhaps a little unnecessarily honest for a moment, those kind of salads just don’t cut it for me anymore. In all honesty, bottled ranch dressing is what made it possible for me to eat, and unassuredly enjoy, any actual vegetables in said salads back in the day. Sometimes a few cherry tomatoes would be thrown into the mix, and maybe some sliced cucumber, but usually, a “salad” was a pile of off-green, nearly grey or translucent, lettuce, doused with a creamy white dressing. I’m a big pizza-dipped-in-ranch fan, so it’s not that I dislike ranch dressing; instead, think of this off-topic (‘wtf are you saying meg’) post as my ode to vibrant, lustrous salads, sans the bottled-stuff and sickly lettuce, the way they are (or at least I think they are) meant to be!

So I really, really like salads, so what? You know what else I like? Bread. I really, really like bread. And sometimes, bread in my salads. Perhaps if those grey mountains of lettuce had been decorated with generous handfuls of homemade garlic croutons, I would have a better salad-eating track record in the books (or maybe I’m just making lame excuses for not eating my greens back in the day). Said salads wouldn’t be any healthier with the bread-topping improvement, but they would be just that: an improvement. And a noteworthy one at that (or so I think, hence, -> me, here, writing this for you, mysterious person on the internet).

If you’re getting a little sad looking at your bare salad everyday, or your overcome with fatigue even thinking about the whole ‘eat-your-greens everyday’ mantra, I have some serious advice for you: turn some of that recently abandoned french bread (or buy a loaf and ‘forget about it’ for a couple days, as I did) into crunchy little garlic croutons and whisk them into your bowl of green vegetables. That’s what I did the other day and I ate a ridiculous amount of leafy lettuce in the process, it was hilarious and awesome (it was a truly inordinate amount of greens). Some people think bread is unhealthy and should never (they really mean never) be consumed (even by those of us with zero, zip, ZILCH intolerance for gluten). I say we dismiss their opinions for the extent of this post. I will happily listen to their side of things after I eat my bigger-than-my-face bowl of Caesar salad topped with my delicious crunchy ass garlic croutons (sorry if that was a little rude; to all of the lovely, truly gluten-intolerant people out there, depending on where you live, you may be able to find a grain-free baguette to chop up in place of a white flour one!) Happing eating and crunching, everyone!!


Ingredients~
Enough for about 3-4 large side salads!

5 heaping cups french bread cubes (preferably 2-3 day-old bread)
3 tbsps unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (add to taste)

Instructions~

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Cut bread into roughly inch-thick cubes (or smaller, if you’d like), and add to a large bowl; toss with butter and olive oil before topping with the minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
3. Evenly spread out croutons on a baking tray and bake for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown! Be sure not to overcook them and burn the garlic. Allow to cool (and gain more crunch) before storing in glass tupperware or serving over a large bed of creamy Caesar salad.

baked sweets/ breakfast

Strawberry Banana Bread

In an effort to satisfy my sugary-sweet cake craving I baked banana bread in a cake tin. It did the trick; my longing for unnatural sweetness? Satisfied. Bananas are seriously magical; sometimes I can’t believe how sweet they are, and have to remind myself all over again that they are a fruit and they do contain a plentiful amount of vitamins and nutrients. They are nature’s candy and I couldn’t be more happy about their prevalence and affordability (scoot over, $3 dollar hit-or-miss imported mango).

Now, what to do with all of this naturally occurring sweetness? Eat it in it’s whole form, sure (with a generous drizzle of almond/peanut butter, please). Freeze it and blend it into a thick-as-ice-cream smoothie? Yes, most definitely. Turn it into a healthy bread-cake? Ah, my interest is piqued….

Sweetness is so desired (and addictive) that it’s no surprise people’s body fat percentages are going up and, tacked on to all that weight, are a host of health problems and diseases. Isn’t it wild to think that some of those issues, *some*, may be diet and lifestyle related? I’m blown away by that idea every time I mull over it, even if just for a minute a day. I like to think that I have my hands in a pocket packed with choices, and I ultimately get to decide how to distribute those choices in my life; will they benefit me in the short and long run, or will they only be churned out to satisfy my moment-to-moment cravings? To be honest, sometimes it’s the latter, and I try to laugh a little when I think about how I used to be overcome with shame to admit that. Thick ice-cream sandwiches are still a rare friend, but they are now genuinely welcomed when they do make an appearance; my smile gets big and toothy and my belly, excited. And on most days, when I know better than to give into the voice that could eat slice after slice of fudgy cake or a pint of heavily-creamed ice-cream in one sitting, I make strawberry banana bread (try it!).

Ingredients~
Fills one 9-inch cake tin (alternatively, turn it into a loaf cake)

1 1/2 cups wholegrain spelt flour (or white spelt flour)
1 heaping cup mashed banana (~3 ripe and spotty bananas )
4 tbsps maple syrup
4 tbsps melted unsalted butter (or ghee)
1 egg, at room temperature and lightly beaten
3 tbsps milk of choice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 heaping cup sliced strawberries

Chocolate sauce:
3 tbsps cocoa butter (or coconut oil)
3 tbsps cacao powder
1-2 tbsps maple syrup or other liquid sweetener of choice (add based on desired sweetness)
Splash of heavy cream or milk (~1 tbsp)

Instructions~

1. Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C.
2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until creamy, and add the maple syrup, melted butter, milk, vanilla extract, and egg, whisking until just combined.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined (don’t over-stir! doing so can overwork the spelt and result in a tougher crumb!)
4. Lightly grease an 8-9 inch cake tin with oil and spoon about half of the batter into the pan. Add a layer of strawberries (about half) to the top of the batter before spooning the remainder of the batter on top and topping with the final strawberries slices. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes (I recommend checking on it at 50 minutes), until an inserted toothpick/chopstick comes out clean!
5. As the banana bread bakes, make the (optional, but decadently delicious) chocolate sauce by melting the cocoa butter in a nonstick pan over low-medium heat. Once melted, pour it into a bowl and whisk in the cacao and maple syrup. Add a splash of heavy cream or milk for a more ganache-like sauce and allow to cool slightly (until no longer scalding hot!) while the banana bread finishes baking up.
6. Finally, drizzle the chocolate over the cooled (ahem, *slightly* cooled if you’re at all like me) bread, slice, and enjoy! Note that the sauce hardens into a lovely crunchy chocolate once refrigerated, if that at all tickles your fancy.

snacks

Cheese-less Cheez Its!

I have a sweet tooth, yes, a nearly monstrous one, but I also have a savory tooth, and a great big one at that. So big that I may have once powered my way through an entire box of Cheez Its in a single sitting (I may have also been up in the wee, pitch-black hours of the morning working on an English essay). If you’ve never tasted a Cheez It before, let me give you a little de-briefing about the (nearly notorious) savory cracker: salty + cheesy + crisp/crunchy = the best goddamn cracker around that doesn’t try to tote it’s dismal health benefits or myriad processed ingredients as something they aren’t; Cheez Its are essentially the devil’s handiwork, but in the best way possible. If you’ve ever had Flaming Hot Cheetos you may understand what I’m getting at… so savory and unnatural, but so satisfying (psychologically addictive? eeep) that you allow yourself an indulgent nibble once in a while, and subsequently throw your hands in the air when asked why you’re eating such obviously unhealthy junk, ‘who cares? not me right now.’ 

The truth is that I do care a little bit right now, or at least more than I used to. I’ll definitely never outgrow my sweet and savory mammoth-sized teeth, but I no longer have as much of an allowance to spend on processed junk like Cheez Its (cue the figurative tears). Having said that, however, and as I’ve come to realize, you can take the Cheez Its out of the girl’s life, but you can’t take the Cheez Its out of the girl. And so, here we are, with a wagon-load of homemade Cheez Its (cheese-less Cheez Its at that).


Ingredients~
Makes two large batches (each batch = one baking-pan-sized sheet of crackers)

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups wholegrain spelt flour (or sub with more all-purpose or white spelt flour)
1/4 cup cornmeal
6 tbsps unsalted butter, cold and cubed (swap out for non-dairy butter to make it totally vegan-friendly!)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
Dash or two of turmeric (for a deeper yellow hue)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt, plus generous sprinkles for the top
4-7 tbsps cold water

Instructions~

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine both flours, cornmeal, nutritional yeast, turmeric, baking powder, and salt. Cube the cold butter if you haven’t already, and toss the pieces into the flour mixture, using your hands and/or a fork to cut up the butter until the resulting mixture resembles ~roughly~ pea-sized buttery-flour pebbles.
2. Drizzle 4 tbsps of cold water (to start) over the mixture and stir to combine. Add one more tbsp at a time until the mixture just comes together into a ball; it may still seem a little scraggly, but that’s okay, drizzle extra water sparingly).
3. Separate the ball of dough into two and wrap one and set it aside. Lightly flour a sheet of parchment paper and the top of the dough before beginning to roll it out into a rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick; you’ll probably have to continue to dust the dough with flour as you roll, but that’s alright. Once rolled and (mostly) even in thickness, use a sharp knife or pizza cutter if you happen to have one, to cut the dough into squares. Finally, use a chopstick to dot holes in the center of each cracker (if you feel like it).
4. Carefully transfer the sheet of crackers to a baking tray and bake for about 10-13 minutes, checking on them at the 8-9 minute mark to make sure they aren’t too dark; you want the cheez-its to be borderline too-golden as this means they will be sufficiently crunchy, but 20 seconds too long and they can easily take on a burnt flavor. Allow the crackers to fully (i.e. mostly) cool and crisp up before digging in! (You’ll be glad you have a second ball of dough to roll out)

Note: recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker’s recipe!

baked sweets

Buckwheat Jam-Swirl Scones

These are called scones, but they really don’t scream scone, do they? (Scones are those three-sided things that Starbucks likes to make as sweet as cake!) I think these are more of a scone-muffin hybrid that I can’t quite put my finger on but am very, very on board with. I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate wholegrain flours into my sweet-pastry mixes without compromising on flavor or texture, and this recipe does it!! (Thanks, Kim Boyce!) The dough is part buckwheat and part all-purpose and the filling is the simplest thing around: jam. I used store-bought wild blueberry jam and added some gooey medjool dates (mashed, of course), along with ground cinnamon and cloves, and a dash of lemon juice. If you don’t feel like going beyond spooning jam out of a jar, by all means skip the extra ingredients and enjoy this buckwheat jam-swirl in all it’s sweet and simple glory.

If you’re not a Portland (Oregon) resident, or at least familiar with the spots to get the best pastries in Portland, you may not have heard of Bakeshop. I hadn’t either, until I moved here last year and tried my first buckwheat scone, and then… (oh yes), I tried an almond-custard filled (only lightly filled, this isn’t a donut) croissant dusted with powdered sugar, blanched sliced almonds, and an exciting amount of buttery pastry flake and was transported to a crazy place. Kim Boyce is the pastry master behind the Portland bakery, and her cookbook features these figgy buckwheat scones, as she calls them. I altered the recipe a decent amount, just doing my usual things like reducing the sugar a tad and, because I’m a simpleton, taking shortcuts with the jam (i.e. spooning it out of a jar and doing a little dance as I sprinkle some spices in it). Her homemade fig jam recipe features butter and wine, so if you’re really looking to jazz these scones up, flip on over to her recipe for the real deal. If, however, you’re anything like me, you will be undoubtedly pleased by the magic of jarred jam 🙂

One day I’d like to try and make a croissant as obscenely flaky and insanely delicious as hers, but for right now I am, quite honestly, a little proud of myself for rolling up and slicing these scones without accidentally turning them inside out in the process. Ha. Baby steps, right?

 Ingredients~
Makes 12 scones
 
1 cup (135 g) wholegrain buckwheat flour
1 1/4 cups (160 g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (70 g) unrefined cane sugar (or regular granulated sugar)
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
3/4 cup plus 1-2 tbsps milk (dairy or high-protein plant milk such as soy or pea)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling:
1/2 heaping cup blueberry jam (or fig, cherry,…)
4 soft and gooey medjool dates
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions~

1. Begin by whisking together the two flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Dice the butter into roughly 1/4-inch cubes and toss the pieces in the flour mixture. Use your fingers to pinch the butter pieces flat and, using a fork or pastry cutter, continue to combine until the result is pea and dime-sized dough pieces. Stir in 3/4 cup of the cold milk until the dough mostly comes together; it will be slightly sticky to the touch. Dump it out onto a generously floured surface and use the palm of your hand to gently press the dough together, sparingly sprinkling 1-2 tbsps more milk as needed. Fold one half of the dough over onto the other half (like a book) and press down, cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Make the filling by tearing up the dates and adding them to the food processor, along with the jam, spices, and lemon juice. Blend until there are no large chunks of date left. Add a few pinches of sugar to taste if you’d like a sweeter filling (I prefer it without the extra sugar).
3. Once the 30 minutes are up, set the dough on a generously floured surface and gently roll out into a roughly 16-inch long and 8-inch wide rectangle. Moving quickly, evenly spread the jam over the surface, leave about an inch of empty space between the filling and long edge on the far side (where the seal will be). Beginning with the long side closest to you, tightly roll up the dough, and gently pinch together the dough at the end to form a seal. Allow the log to rest seal-side down and gently cut it in half with a sharp knife. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
4. While the logs chill, preheat the oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Once the 30 minutes are up, place each log on a pan and cut into 6 pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches thick. Bake for 30 minutes until the bottoms are crisp and golden brown. Eat warm and store in a plastic/glass container to keep from drying out!

Note: recipe adapted from Kim Boyce’s (@Portland’s Bakeshop) insane buckwheat figgy scone recipe!

baked sweets

Brown Butter Rhubarb Loaf

The sun is shining bright and radiating its energy down on Portland today. It feels so good. I think I feel more alive when the sun is out and the clouds are scarce. I wonder why that is; is it in our nature to feel happier when that fiery ball is above us in the sky? Maybe it’s simply our bodies yearning for vitamin D? It almost feels as though some unseen power or magic is being transmitted through the suns rays; when I have the time to sit outside in the sun with my cup of morning coffee, or fit a sun-filled walk or run into my afternoon, I always return back indoors feeling a little changed. It’s only a little change, but it’s a positive one, and, in that sense, it’s monumental.

While this city (Portland, Oregon) is amazing, the weather is where it is lacking; a grey blanket of clouds is almost perpetually in the sky, and drizzle showers are always looming on the horizon, but the closer it inches to Summer, the more the sun reveals itself, and the bees, and flowers, follow suit (and so do the people, too). This rhubarb loaf is one way I celebrate the beaming new weather. I brought it along on a hike up to a waterfall and couldn’t have been happier that I did; maybe I’m a little too food-oriented, but I think anticipating eating a slice of this sweet rhubarb bread propelled me up the mountain more than my own two feet did. Perhaps you need some sweet energy because the sun is hiding in your part of the world, or maybe you’re looking to celebrate the fact that the sun can in fact be seen in your sky today; either way, this loaf can be a converging place for both scenarios. Make it to eat indoors, or make it to eat outdoors; make it because you need some excitement, or make it because you have excitement to expend. To me, this loaf comes close to conveying the same brightness as the sun; rhubarb is literally bright in color, sure, but it is also bright in flavor, and, when combined with sugar, lemon zest, and browned butter (along with a few other things), it leaves me beaming from the inside out, whether the sun is around or not.

Ingredients~
Fills one 9×5 inch loaf

1 cup wholegrain spelt flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar, plus more for sprinkling (or regular granulated sugar)
1/3 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
7 tbsps unsalted butter
2 eggs, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped rhubarb, sliced into roughly 1/4-inch-thick pieces (about 3-4 stalks, plus 1-2 more sliced stalks if opting for a decorative top!

Instructions~

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat, stirring frequently as it begins to bubble/foam. Once you can notice brown specks at the bottom of the pan and a noticeable change in hue from yellow to golden brown, take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool until no longer hot to the touch (your finger doesn’t retract when touching it). As the butter cools down, chop the rhubarb into roughly 1/4-inch-thick pieces and toss in a bowl with the lemon zest, vanilla extract, and both sugars. Set aside.
2. Whisk together the spelt, all-purpose, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Lightly beat the eggs with a fork in a small bowl before adding to the dry mixture, along with the cooled melted butter and the sugar rhubarb mixture (if the butter is still very hot, be sure to continue cooling it! You don’t want to scramble the eggs at this point). Know that the butter will be quite thick. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper (the safest option in my opinion) or thoroughly oil it before pouring in the batter. Generously sprinkle granulated sugar over the top and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until deeply golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the loaf to cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan and allowing to continue to cool before slicing (or nab a slice while it’s warm, but be careful as it is fragile while hot!)

Note: recipe is loosely adapted from king arthur’s rhubarb quick bread recipe!

baked sweets

Wholegrain Spelt Profiteroles

Can you tell that the above profiteroles are homemade? And, more astutely put, amateur-baker-crafted? (Yes, you can) They are a little bit on the wonky side, that’s for sure, but my shaky hands are to blame, not the wholegrain spelt flour! I would happily dig into a tower of white-flour profiteroles any (most) days, but the thrill of incorporating wholegrain flour into the mix (a deliciously nutty and hardly-heavy flour at that!) tugged me in the direction of these spelt profiteroles. Much to my relief, someone else had documented their spelt profiterole making experience on the internet and I more than happily gave their recipe a shot. I can safely (and very enthusiastically!!) say that these spelt profiteroles are no shot in the dark; instead, they crisp and puff up like their white-flour counterpart, while also containing heaps more fiber, vitamins (iron & magnesium!), protein (25 g VS. 13 g in all-purpose), and, of course, flavor. There’s nothing not to love about this antique flour! I say we ought to embrace it by letting it into our bellies in the form of perfectly puffed French pastry (that has first been stuffed with whipped cream and topped with chocolate sauce, of course).

Ingredients~

Pastry:
124 g milk (dairy or high-protein plant milk such as soy or pea)
56 g wholegrain spelt flour
56 g unsalted butter
2 eggs, at room temperature
1.6 g salt (=0.28 of 1 tsp, so about one slightly heaped 1/4 tsp of salt)

Chocolate sauce:
Heaping 1/2 cup (about 4 oz) roughly chopped dark chocolate or chips
3 tbsps heavy cream (or milk for a lighter sauce)
2 tbsps coconut oil (or butter/ghee/vegetable oil)
Optional: 1-2 tsps corn syrup for shine (I omitted this)

Cream filling:
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream (depending on how stuffed you want them)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsps powdered sugar (or more) for a sweeter cream filling

Instructions~

Note: this awesome pastry recipe is from Publican Quality Bread!

baked sweets

Strawberry and Rhubarb Summer Galette

Making this strawberry and rhubarb galette reinvigorated my (not simply figurative) appetite for flaky pastry. This is my first pastry crust of the summer, but it shant be my last! It is a little bit silly that I’m getting into crust-making right as the cold weather winds down and the sun makes its bold (and much needed) appearance here in Portland. While making this galette I re-learned some of the steadfast rules about pastry-making; i.e., don’t attempt to make a flaky crust with clammy hands and a warm countertop! Or do, but don’t be surprised if said galette is lacking in flaky, buttery galore. I’ve always had a problem being patient with pastry dough; I used to loom over my chilling dough, expecting it to speed up in the fridge and harden those butter shards already. Not surprisingly, my pie crusts always fell on the tough and gummy side of the pie-making spectrum. But not this time. No, no. This crust was made with patient hands and controlled with care, rather than by my thoughtless desire to rush to the finish line.

This galette is full of wholegrain spelt flour, though you could totally swap it out for all-purpose and possibly add a bit less water (since spelt is more water absorbant). If you haven’t already noticed, I’m a big spelt fan. It adds a touch more wholegrainy-ness without tasting and feeling as heavy as whole wheat or buckwheat. Plus, it just so happens to be strewn with a significant amount of vitamins and minerals (hoorah for nutrient-packed pies and cakes!). Spelt flour does still contain gluten, but, as I have recently learned, gluten proteins are not all created equal, and the protein in spelt is far easier for the stomach to digest (regardless, I don’t have a gluten intolerance, and welcome bread into my life with open arms). Spelt or no spelt, the real star of this show is the rhubarb. And the strawberries, but mostly the rhubarb. I was blown away by how little I had to do to make something so gaspingly-delicious; toss the rhubarb in a little lemon zest, sugar, and vanilla, bake it, and voila (!), a magical matrix of flavors are now yours to enjoy. I seriously need to get back to the shops and stock up on rhubarb while it’s fresh and in season… a rhubarb loaf next, perhaps? Or a rhubarb crumble topped with embarrassingly generous dollops of cream? I’m thinking pretty much anything that combines the unique tanginess of rhubarb with the almightiness of flour and cold butter.


Ingredients~
Makes one 10-inch galette

Crust:
1/2 cup wholegrain spelt flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (plus a couple more pinches for dusting the surface of your workspace)
6 tbsps unsalted butter, cold and cubed
3-4 tbsps ice cold water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Scant 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Filling and assembly:
300 g (~3 cups) rhubarb, cut into inch-thick pieces or left longer and sliced in half lengthwise (or into thirds/quarters depending on thickness of stalks)
100 g (~2/3 cup) fresh strawberries, halved or quartered depending on size
Finely grated zest from half a large lemon (or most of one regular-sized lemon)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsps cornstarch
Optional: 1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water for brushing the crust (promotes a shinier finish; but know that the above galette was not brushed with a wash)

For serving:
Powdered sugar for dusting
Freshly-whipped heavy cream or vanilla-bean ice cream!

Instructions~

1. In a large bowl, toss together the flours and salt. In a separate, small bowl, stir together 3 tbsps of cold water with the apple cider vinegar and set aside. Add the cubed (and very cold) butter to the flour mixture and use your fingers to toss the butter in the flour and pinch the pieces between your thumb and forefinger into flat shards. Continue tossing and pinching the butter and flour until the pieces are roughly the size of peas (about 1/4-inch; some slightly larger pieces here and there are okay). If at anytime the butter begins to feel too soft and easily squishes between your fingers, immediately put the bowl in the fridge or freezer to chill for several minutes before continuing; cold, cold everything is essential here.
2. Add the water-vinegar mixture and use a fork to gently combine it with the buttery flour. The dough should come together slightly, but needs to be dumped onto a clean (and preferably cool) countertop to be put together. Very lightly flour your workspace, and, using your hands, as well as a bench scraper if you have one, fold the right half of the dough mess onto the left half, creating a little stack, and use your palm to press the two stacks of dough together, slightly combining them. Use a rolling pin to roll them out slightly (only so that they gain length and can be folded over again), gently pressing together the sheets of buttery dough in the process, and repeat the previous steps again, folding, pressing, and rolling, at least 1-2 more times until the dough can just be formed into a roughly disc-shaped mass. This will all be very messy at first, with loose crumbs running amuck, but trust in the process and drizzle water sparingly (up to 1 more tbsp) until the dough can just hold together and be wrapped in plastic wrapped; you should be able to see streaks of butter running through the dough, and it shouldn’t feel dry to the touch. Allow it to chill in the fridge for at least one hour but preferably 2.
3. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the chopped rhubarb and strawberries in a large bowl with the lemon zest, sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch. Set aside.  Prepare a lined baking sheet for the galette before beginning to roll out the dough. Roll out the dough into a roughly 10-inch wide circle. Carefully transfer the sheet of dough to the baking pan before adding the fruity filling to the center (scraping out all of the sugar-lemon-cornstarch from the bottom of the bowl!). Be sure to leave at least 1 1/2-2 inches of dough around the circumference. Arrange the strips of rhubarb and strawberries as you desire before folding the outer bit of dough over the filling, overlapping slightly as you go. Lightly brush the crust with egg wash if using, and generously sprinkle sugar over the top of the filling and crust. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the crust is thoroughly browned and the rhubarb is soft to the touch. Allow to cool slightly before serving with whipped cream or ice-cream!

Note: adapted from Bon Appetit’s buckwheat galette recipe!

baked sweets

Whole Wheat Buttery Garlic Knots

Ingredients~
Makes 10 knots

Dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water (think baby bottle warm)
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tsps (1 standard sachet) active dry yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp kosher salt

Garlic butter mixture: 
4-5 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsps unsalted butter, melted (or more olive oil as a dairy-free alternative)
1/4-1/3 cup fresh parsley, very finely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt (or add to taste pinch by pinch)

Instructions~

1. Dissolve the sugar in the cup of warm water before gently stirring in the yeast. Allow the yeast to bubble (come to life!) for about 5-8 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the flours and salt in a larger bowl. Pour the yeasty mixture into the center of the flour mixture and stir to combine. If the dough is too dry, add more water, tsp or tbsp at a time; if the dough is too wet to handle, sprinkle over some flour until the dough is slightly sticky and smooth, but not coating your fingers with goop.
3. Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes on a lightly floured surface. It should be silky smooth, not scraggly or breaking apart, so add more water if needed and allow it to sit for a minute or two to soak up the moisture before continuing to knead. Place the ball of dough in the bottom of a large lightly-oiled bowl. Cover with a clean and slightly damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or more/less, until it has doubled in size (don’t stick it in a super hot pre-heated oven!)
4. After the dough has doubled, form the knots by rolling out the dough into a (roughly!) 10 by 10 inch square (as you can see in the pic above, I totally rolled it out into an uneven rectangle, but alas). Use a sharp knife to cut 10 long strips. Tie a knot in the center of each strip and curl each end under and around the knot (again, have fun with it). Cover knots with a towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes or less/more until doubled in size; they will be noticeably puffier! As the knots rise, preheat the oven to 400 F.
5. Lightly coat the knots with olive oil (optional, but promotes more browning) and bake the knots on a lined baking sheet for 15-18 minutes, until nicely browned. As the knots bake, whisk together the melted butter, olive oil, minced garlic and parsley, and salt.
6. As soon as the knots come out, use a brush (if you have one) to coat them with the garlic mixture or simply toss them in the bowl. I found it easiest to use my hands and gently rub the butter and garlic/parsley into the knots; make sure the crevices fill up with bits of parsley and garlic! Serve warm alongside lasagna or soup, and simply warm up in the oven for 5-10 minutes if serving as leftovers.

Note: this whole wheat dough recipe has been adapted from Joy the Baker’s garlic knot recipe and credit should be duly given!

breakfast/ gluten free

Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Pancakes!

These pancakes are so darn easy to make, it’s baffling; easy, and incredibly spectacular, it’s almost too good to be true.

How could combining banana (preferably one that’s yelling out ‘eat me, I’m getting too freckly!!‘), flour, milk, an egg, and a few pinches and drops of some other ingredients, result in a breakfast that is the-opposite-of-marginally-better-than the weekday breakfasts I usually only have time for? I’m beginning to think these pancakes could definitely be fit into a busy monday-friday schedule, if you are willing to skip the berry compote and lush whipped cream topping, of course. Sometimes you just don’t have time for all the extraneous (though incredibly enjoyable when enjoyed) toppings that dazzle the pancakes featured on most food blogs. If I’m being honest with you, a stack of pancakes with a drizzle (or douse…) of real maple syrup does the trick for me; sure, the blueberry-orange compote I added to these pancakes was delicious and thoroughly enjoyed (I may have said ‘omg, omg‘ one too many times while eating it), but, at the heart of a good pancake-eating experience (in my mind, or heart, or whatever, at least), is simply this:

a thick stack of fluffy, flour-filled flapjacks
a sizable stream (waterfall) of 100% maple syrup (although the maple-flavored stuff is still golden in my pancake book!!!)
a swab or two (or three, four…) of slightly softened, unsalted butter

No peaks of whipped cream; no ice-cream (*shivers* is that actually a thing though?); and definitely no edible flours, are needed take your buckwheat pancakes to extraordinary heights.

And now, for some odd reason unbeknownst to me, I may have just talked you out of even wanting to make the blueberry compote featured in this post. Maybe that’s because I’m so excited about the actual pancakes. If that’s not telling enough of their splendor, I don’t know what else is! (besides me, telling you, over and over again, about them? aha.) Whether you’re a gluten-free peep or not (which I totally am not!), I think these buckwheat pancakes will sit well with you and your belly. Or at least I hope they will. I don’t even feel the need to cross my fingers and hope to die, I have that much faith in them. Although, maybe go easy on the heavy-whipped-cream topping if you’re a pancake lightweight 😉


Ingredients~
Serves 2

3/4 cup wholegrain buckwheat flour
1 medium-large ripe and spotty banana, mashed
1/2 cup & 2-5 tbsps milk of choice (add based on desired pancake consistency)
1 egg (a chia/flax egg may work as a binder replacement for the egg, but it may contribute to a more gummy/wet and less light-and-fluffy texture in the final pancakes)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Scant 1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2-3/4 tsp pure acai powder (optional, adds more berry flavor)

Berry compote:
1 heaping cup fresh or frozen wild blueberries (or regular bluebs)
3-4 tbsps fresh orange juice (~one medium-large orange)
Finely grated zest of half an orange (~1 packed tsp)
Dash of cinnamon

For serving:
Generous drizzles of maple syrup
2 fat orange wedges (squeeze them over the pancakes!)
Freshly whipped cream~ simply add a drop or two of vanilla extract to 1/4 cup heavy cream and whisk away!

Instructions~

1. To start, make the compote. In a nonstick pan on medium heat, stir together the blueberries, OJ, orange zest, and dash of cinnamon. Keep an eye on the mixture and stir it occasionally, especially as it begins to bubble and foam, in order to prevent it from sticking and burning. Once the compote has been consistently bubbling for about 2-3 minutes, turn it down to a lower heat to continue to reduce. Once it has thickened up to your liking take it off the heat (I like to make the pancake batter as the compote cooks). 
2. In a large bowl, mash the banana until only a little pulpy and no particularly large chunks remain. Whisk in the egg (using a fork if you don’t own a whisk) until just combined, before also adding the milk and vanilla extract; start with 1/2 cup of milk and add up to another 1/4 cup or so until the pancake batter if thick/thin enough for you. I like my pancake batter on the thicker side and added an additional ~3 tbsps of milk!
3. At this point, I recommend heating up your pan/skillet (I like to use a nonstick pan). Next, add the buckwheat flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, and acai powder (if using), to the bowl of wet ingredients, and toss the mound of dry ingredients together a little with a fork before completely stirring into the wet ingredients (only stir until just combined, you don’t want to over-mix).
4. Once the pan is hot enough (a drop of water sizzles and quickly disappears when dropped onto the pan), use a large serving spoon, 1/4 measuring cup, or liquid measuring cup, to pour the batter into the pan, making as many pancakes at a time as you are comfortable flipping. I find that the first batch always takes the longest to cook through~ be sure not to flip the pancakes until they are almost completely speckled (crowded!) with bubbles; you can also gently peek underneath one to check if it is lightly/noticeably browned and ready for flipping.
5. While the first batch of pancakes cook, whip up your heavy cream (if opting for a seriously divine and decadent pancake breakfast), and slice up another orange (if that’s what you’re feeling, of course) to enjoy alongside your soon-to-be stack of gorgeous buckwheat pancakes! (Oh, and don’t forget about that compote).

Note: my love for buckwheat pancakes was recently re-invigorated by The Almond Eater’s recent blood orange buckwheat pancakes recipe!