Wednesday, June 19, 2013

For Your Next Picnic: Grandma Cameron's Coleslaw

Though my siblings, my mother and her siblings, and certain in-laws of my father (see here) all have mad skills in the kitchen that have informed my own palate and culinary style, neither of my grandmothers - wonderful and talented as they were in other ways - was known for her kitchen exploits. My maternal grandmother made traditional Colombian food on occasion, but she wasn't much of an eater, frankly, unless that which was being eaten was deep-fried and heavily coated in sugar, so she probably didn't have much personal motivation where food preparation was concerned (I find my love for all things food is the greatest motivator for me in the kitchen), plus she was pretty busy using her brighter talents (she was an amazing seamstress). My paternal grandmother - well, I guess it wasn't quite accurate to say she wasn't known for her kitchen exploits. She was known for them. They were worthy of much teasing, in fact. She was a rather dreadful cook but a good baker, mostly of cookies and of course, as she was a native Minnesotan, bars. I did so like her cookies and bars.

Anyway. Until I got married, I didn't have "grandma's recipe for [fill in the blank]." Grandma's recipe for chocolate chip cookies was probably the one on the back of the Tollhouse bag (no shame in that though).

Cole slaw and cakeCole slaw and cake

My husband's paternal grandmother, however, is a rather inspired cook. She raised five boys on a farm and cooked the way all the latest cookbooks with catchwords like locavore, farmer's market, "farm to table", seasonal, et cetera, tell you to cook. She gardens and cans and pickles and bakes and saves bones and stalks and rinds to throw in her soups. She uses what she grows and sends the rest home with whoever stops by. And her food is really good. It's v. typically midwestern -  a nice blend of novel and comforting to me, even after 11 years as a Minnesota resident - but a little richer in some ways. She doesn't ever skimp on sugar or seasoning.

This cole slaw recipe is one of my favorites. I never liked cole slaw growing up because I hate mayonnaise and I didn't think you could make cole slaw without it. Grandma Cameron corrected me. I love cole slaw the way she makes it - it's creamy despite absence of mayo or dairy, and it usually has twice as much sugar as is written into the recipe below - but, over the years, I've reduced the sugar a little more each time until I figured how little I could get away with while still loving the dressing.

The addition of dried cranberries is inspired by the fish fry down the road from my friend Lindsey's cabin. I miss that fish fry. Grandma Alice sure would have liked their sugar-dusted fry bread.


Grandma Cameron's Coleslaw
Yields: about 1.5 cups dressing + 8 cups slaw (enough to share at a big potluck)

For dressing
1/2 cup mild-flavored oil (I use sunflower or grapeseed usually, but mild olive oil would be fine)
1/4 cup sugar (you could use up to 1/4 cup more sugar if you want it super sweet)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 an onion, chopped into a few chunks
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard seeds (could sub 1 teaspoon yellow mustard)
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (I sometimes use the ground ones from Penzey's)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For slaw
1 small purple or green cabbage or a mix, sliced as thinly as you can manage
2 carrots, shredded or ribboned with a vegetable peeler
1 cup dried cranberries

Blend all the dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth. Toss vegetables with half the dressing, add more as you see fit and serve the rest on the side.

If you want an even creamier dressing, you could use 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream + 1/4 cup oil instead of 1/2 cup oil.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Many Ingredient Peach-Rhubarb Pie

The good news is this: I made an amazing pie. Twice.

The bad news is this: sometimes to get a gluten-, chickpea- and nut-free blend of flours to work as magnificently as good old all-purpose flour does, and to get it to actually taste like something other than "weird" or "chalky" or "off", you have to use a daunting number of ingredients. Some of these ingredients have the consistency of powdered sugar and will leave your hands, your clothes, and many surfaces in your kitchen coated in white. Some of these ingredients are super expensive. All of them are highly processed, highly perishable, tricky to store, and rather unsavory on their own.

Sometimes when I open my freezer full of these items, I just sigh wistfully, missing the days when 101 Cookbooks and Smitten Kitchen provided my uncomplicated dinner inspiration and Joy the Baker was my main squeeze for sweets.

Sometimes I suck it up and experiment.

Sometimes I experiment and I whip out a fabulous, fabulous, breathtaking, unbelievably better-than-normal-tasting, delectable gem. This coffee cake was a recent one. But - friends! - it pales in comparison to the pie I made yesterday. (The fact that I made it yesterday and am posting about it today should be proof enough of that point. When was the last time that happened?) (Full disclosure: I made this on Wednesday, which was "yesterday" when I started this post on Thursday. And then I made it again on Saturday, the new "today".)


I know this pie won't be for everyone. So:

(a) If you and your family can eat wheat, just head on over to Joy the Baker's site for the recipe that inspired my own pie. Swap in peaches for strawberries and you'll have a less fussy version of what's below.

(b) If you are appalled by the number of ingredients I call for in my pie crust flour blend (SIX!), you can modify it based on the Living Without template I provide following the recipe, or you could try using a purchased high-protein gluten free baking blend. It will likely include one or more of the following as the first ingredient: soy, fava, or chickpea flour (besan). (Example: Bob's Red Mill makes a gluten free all-purpose baking blend starring chickpea flour and it gets rave reviews and is the primary blend used in the vegan, gluten-free Babycakes bakeries (according to their cookbooks).)

(c) You could skip the crust and just make a crumble. It will be comparably delicious and much easier.

For those of you in my situation, though - those of you in my situation who want to make a pie, anyway - I am so happy to share this with you! It's A-MAY-ZING. Come try some for yourself. You have five minutes.

Are you ready for the recipe?

I bet you are, but I have more to say. Here's the deal. There are no eggs, no dairy, no wheat, no nuts, no besan in this recipe. You know what it's not free of, though? SUGAR. Sugar is bad for you but it tastes good. Pie is bad for you but it tastes good. I made this same pie crust a few weeks back and used it for a plum galette. I was so impressed with how manageable the dough was and it ended up looking and tasting like a real pie - of course I was going to make it again, before I even tried it!


Wouldn't you?

But then we ate it. And it wasn't bad; no crumb went to waste. It was super tart though. I had tried to go the healthier route (might as well go all out, eh? - vegan! gf! no refined sugar! 7 minute workout!), so I used date sugar instead of regular sugar. And I used plums and apricots, neither of which are super sweet. The tartness of it all was a little much for us (thank heavens for ice cream), so I vowed that next time I messed around with this pie crust, a high level of sweetness was not something to be compromised.

I think I am done now. Pardon my amateur "fluting". Enjoy!


Vegan, Gluten Free Peach Rhubarb Pie
With some help from Living Without and Joy the Baker
Yield: 3 8 servings 

Note: Make the filling before the crust. Make the crumble after the crust, in the same bowl.

For filling
1 pound rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 to 1" pieces
2-3 white peaches, pitted, sliced and cut into 1/2 to 1" pieces (don't bother peeling)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 heaping teaspoons cinnamon (or apple pie spice if you want more spice)
1/4 cup corn starch

For crust
1 1/2 cups gluten-free high-protein flour blend (recipe following pie recipe)
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons coconut oil (= 1/3 cup, if that is easier for you to measure)
1/3 cup cold water 
3 teaspoons cider vinegar

For crumble
3/4 cup gluten free flour
3/4 cup oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons coconut oil (= 1/4 cup) (soft or melted, it really doesn't make a difference)

Make your filling by gently tossing the rhubarb, peaches, and other filling ingredients in a large bowl until the fruit is all covered with sugar and cornstarch and spice. Set aside.

Prep for crust, as you need to work quickly so it doesn't dry out: Grease your 9 or 10" pie plate liberally. (I used coconut oil and this worked fine.) Have a large surface available and clean (ideally a large cutting board), cover it with a large sheet of parchment paper, and dust it with some flour. Have your rolling pin available and dust it with a little flour too. Clean your hands so that you can get them messy. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, xanthan gum, salt, and sugar. Melt the coconut oil in a measuring cup until just liquid. Whisk coconut oil, water, and vinegar together. Pour wet ingredients into dry and combine with your hands until you have a sticky but workable dough. Form a ball with the dough and place it in the center of your floured parchment paper. Dust the top of the dough with a little more flour. Roll the dough into a circle about 12-13" in diameter. Invert your pie plate into center of rolled dough. Now, either flip whole cutting board over while holding pie plate on top (so that at the end the pie plate will be on the bottom with the dough on top), or very carefully use the parchment paper to flip crust into pan. Gently coax the dough into the pie plate and use any extras that hang over the sides to patch holes or thicken thin spots. 

Pour the filling into the pie crust and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make crumble by combining all ingredients in a large bowl with your hands, squeezing it in little handfuls until you get a nice mix of big and small sticky crumbs. 

After pie has chilled for 30 minutes, top rhubarb mixture with crumble and spread it out over top of filling. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, then rotate pie 180 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes more, until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Allow to cool for 2 hours before slicing and serving.


My high-protein blend, which made about 4-5 cups of flour and which I will make again:

 cups soy flour
1 cup tapioca starch/flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour


Living Without's template for a High-Protein Flour Blend, which the magazine specifies "works best in baked goods that require elasticity, such as wraps and pie crusts."

1¼ cups bean flour (your choice), chickpea flour or soy flour
1 cup arrowroot starch, cornstarch or potato starch
1 cup tapioca starch/flour
1 cup white or brown rice flour

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Putting the Cake Back in Cake and Edith: Apricot-Cardamom Crumb Cake For All!

I am so out of practice. Lost my voice a bit, if you will. I have so many recipes to share with you though so I want to just dive in and not care too much about all the areas in which I fall short. (Like - am I seriously still using Hipstamatic to photographically document all my food? And grammar? What is grammar? I do not know what that word means.) Anyway, I have a few things to tell you NOW and the first is this:

I can't stop eating this cake. Did you hear that? CAKE. Like the good old days! CAKE!!! BUT FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY.

Coffee cake for everyone!

I'm just going to ramble like a madwoman for a while now because I am so excited and pleased with how this turned out and, if you lived nearer, I'd invite you to check out my girthy waistline to prove it. Because, in case you missed previous paragraph, I can't stop eating this cake.

So, obviously, this cake is pretty tasty, or else it won't be quite so irresistible. And it's summery (apricots!) and versatile (good for dessert AND breakfast!) and fairly attractive (sliced fruit: works every time!), particularly given all the obstacles it faced coming into existence.

Obstacles? you might wonder. What do you mean, exactly?

Well, friends, the obstacles are called "dietary restrictions". You see, cake is traditionally made with flour, eggs, and butter. These three ingredients, along with varying amounts of baking powder, sugar or sweetener of some sort, spices, fruit, chocolate, nuts, what have you, are the fundamental ingredients for pretty much every cake you've ever had in your entire life. They are fabulously popular ingredients because they are reliable and yummy and when you mix them up and put them in the oven they transform from batter to moist, crumby perfection. For some reason, and I suggest that the reason is a global addiction to and glorification of all things sweet and crumbly, we hypoallergenic preparers of food always get a little surprised, sad, and frustrated when we don't end up quite making "cake" out of a bunch of ingredients that do not include flour, eggs, and butter. This is sometimes amusing to me, as I wouldn't ever try to make carnitas out of apples and then be surprised, sad, and frustrated that it didn't work. And I definitely wouldn't give it a second go. Yet. I bake a lot. Sans flour, eggs, and butter. I fail often, but my success-to-failure ratio is improving all the time, and now, not only do I have some reliable recipes for brownies, a few kinds of cookies, several muffins and quick breads, pancakes, and cupcakes, but I also can improvise a bit - something I historically haven't felt comfortable doing with the allergen-free baking. Despite said progress, cake has been particularly daunting, because, well, cakes are hard. Even when you use the ingredients typically found in cake. (Ask Nicole. She's been with me the whole way.)

This cake is BECKETT SAFE. In case you are not as on top of my family's allergies, this means it is gluten-free (we can't do wheat or barley) and vegan (no eggs or milk). There are no nuts or chickpeas in it (you might think nuts and chickpeas are easy enough to avoid, but they make frequent appearances in gluten free flour blends so we have to be picky about what flour and starch combos we use, and we're deprived of some of the more flavorful ones). Because I've got allergies and food is always on my mind and my goal is to make treats for everyone who might come round to enjoy, these are also soy free for one of my besties and her allergic baby. Woo hoo!

Coffee cake for everyone!Flax eggDiced apricotsCake batter!Crumble + Sliced Apricots = Glamming it Up a BitBaked!

A few notes before you dive into making this badboy:

1. If you're not using eggs OR wheat, you pretty much have to accept that you aren't going to end up with a light, airy baked good. C'est la vie. This cake is moist and dense in a decidedly coffee cake way. Both the batter and the finished baked good are more reminiscent of a muffin or banana bread in texture than of a Betty Crocker yellow cake. Allow to cool for at least an hour for best texture.

Day 1, not quite cooled because we were super eager:

Not quite cooled...

Day 3, still super moist and much more sliceable:

Cole slaw and cake

2. You can use a mixer or a wooden spoon or whatever. I highly recommend using a spring form pan for easy removal of cake. If you use a regular round cake pan (9" minimum) or Bundt cake pan, I suggest putting the crumb topping in the middle of the cake, like a streusel filling, if you don't want any of those crumbs to go to waste. If you want the crumb topping but don't have a spring form pan, I suggest using a 11-X-7" or 9" square pan and serving it directly from the pan in squares.

3. Theoretically, you could use 2 eggs in place of flaxseed mixture and/or three cups of any gluten free all-purpose baking mix that you know and trust in place of brown rice flour and starches. I have tried neither of these substitutions, however, so cannot vouch for their workability. 

4. You could increase the sugar by up to 1/2 cup if you'd like, particularly if you're using apricots or another semi-tart fruit (e.g., shredded granny smith apples, raspberries, blackberries). I felt the lesser amount of sugar was fine since it had the brown sugary topping, and I didn't want to feel super guilty about giving this to my children for breakfast. That said, my recipe as written does not produce a terribly sweet cake.

5. This cake comes together quickly and has lasted beautifully in an air-tight container on my counter for four days. It's texture improves as it cools - it doesn't dry out, it just firms up, becoming less crumbly. The flavors also get better rather than worse - the blend of flours and starches I used is mild and does not go rancid quickly like some gluten free ingredients do (e.g. millet flour, quinoa flour, chickpea flour), even at room temp. I have not frozen this but I suspect it would freeze v. well: allow to cool for several hours and then wrap in plastic wrap, then tin foil, then place in a freezer bag.

Highly recommended for easy cake removal and aesthetic integrity: Spring Form Pan

Apricot Cardamom Crumb Cake
From me! ... with some help from Living Without's Special Spring/Summer Edition 2013: Gluten Free Baking Recipes and How To's. (This magazine was a gift from my friend Lisa (thank you so much!) and it is hands down the best resource I've come across for gluten-free recipes, with excellent advice on gluten-free baking without eggs, nuts, and dairy. E-book edition can be purchased HERE.)
Yield: 10-12 servings

Dry ingredients
2 cups superfine brown rice flour (I used Authentic Foods brand)
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 cup sugar (or more, to taste, see note above)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
6 tablespoons hot water
1 1/2 cups rice milk
1/2 cup olive oil*
1-2 cups barely ripe apricots or other chopped fruit + 1/4 to 1/2 cup more, thinly sliced, for top (optional)
1 teaspoon cardamom extract**

Crumb topping
4 tablespoons gluten-free flour blend or ground oats
7 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Spectrum shortening (or butter or margarine) (plus more for greasing pan)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together ground flaxseeds and hot water and set aside to thicken for 5 minutes or so. Liberally grease a 10" springform pan (see notes above for alternatives).

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, ideally your stand mixer bowl. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, whisk together rice milk, olive oil, and flax-water mixture. Add cardamom extract.

Add wet ingredients to dry and blend with a rubber spatula, wooden spoon, or the paddle blade on your stand mixer. Stir in chopped apricots. Transfer batter to greased springform pan.

In a large bowl (perhaps the large bowl that you just used to make your cake batter? save yourself a dish to wash!), pour all topping ingredients and combine them using your fingers. You want some little crumbs and some big chunky crumbs. Pour crumbs evenly on top of cake batter. Place sliced apricots on top like in my picture above.

Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate pan 180 degrees and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or knife in the center and seeing if it comes out clean (a few dry-ish crumbs are okay). When done, allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in the pan. Before slicing and serving, allow to cool at least one hour more.

Cake will last in air tight container at room temperature for at least five days. Its consistency actually improves after a day.

* The olive oil doesn't impart much flavor, so you could use a less expensive, mild flavored oil if you'd like. 

** You could add 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom in with dry ingredients in place of cardamom extract, or you could go with a different flavor profile and through in 1 teaspoon almond extract or 2 teaspoons vanilla.