Thursday, February 20, 2014

Teff Banana Pancakes (a/k/a Simplest, Tastiest Vegan Gluten-Free Pancakes)

On Monday night, MC and I had a bulk breakfast cooking party! I know. Marriage is so hot.


We made and froze twenty blender batter waffles (kind of like these carrot pancakes, but without carrots, and using an iron instead of a griddle)...


and about the same number of banana-teff pancakes.

Sometime soon I'll post about the waffles, which are a little involved. Today, however, I post to (1) encourage you to enhance the seamlessness of your no-doubt-already-fabulous morning routine by making bulk breakfasts with someone you love (a bottle of wine makes this quite enjoyable, and House of Cards helps you pass the time as your bounty cools before being packed for its freezer stay), and (2) share a recipe with you that has been loved by a good 3-4 dozen people who've attended a gluten free class of mine. I should have shared this with you ages ago in fact. My bad.

So! My blurb: These cinnamon-spiked pancakes are gluten-free yet simple (just one grain), delicious (teff has a unique, malty-grahamy flavor that pairs quite nicely with foster-style bananas), and infinitely adaptable (try subbing amaranth or quinoa flour for the teff or sliced peaches or grated pear for the bananas).


Not the best picture. It was a gloomy morning, we were in a rush, and Sadie wanted to EAT!

Banana-Teff Pancakes
Yields ~ a dozen 4" pancakes

2 cups teff flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon or other baking spice (optional)
2 tablespoons melted, cooled butter or oil (plus more for griddle)
2 cups water or milk/non-dairy beverage of choice
2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
1-2 eggs, or both the following: 2-3 tablespoons ground flax seeds + 1 additional tablespoon oil*
1 banana, thinly sliced

Mix everything but bananas together. Add a little more milk/water to get desired consistency, if necessary. Spice it up with some cinnamon if you’d like. Preheat griddle, grease with butter or oil, scoop 2-3 tablespoons of batter onto griddle, scatter bananas on top of pancakes and flip after 2-3 minutes, once lightly browned. Cook on other side for 2 minutes, or until lightly browned. 

Serve warm with butter or Earth Balance and syrup. 

These are sturdy and freeze well, but they dry out within a day or two stored at room temp or refrigerated. Allow to cool on racks and freeze them in bags, each layer separated by waxed paper; thaw in toaster or microwave.

* Eggs do really make for a better pancake, texturally, when you're not using gluten. That said, I make these without eggs at home and with eggs in my classes, and in both locations they get devoured enthusiastically.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day! 10 Things to Make For Someone You Love (who totally can be yourself).

Valentine's Day is almost here! So here are ten super decadent oldies that will give your Friday a lovely sense of occasion. Go make one of these for someone you love. Or just for yourself. I won't tell. Ready for a lot of chocolate? Sweet. Let's do this! 

pudding close up

1. Salty-Sweet Chocolate Mousse. Heavenly. And incidentally vegan.

whole tart

2. Triple Chocolate Mousse Tart. (Jen, I know you have it under control, but if you are doing your Valentine's Day dinner for several again this year, you might want to consider this tart. It is a CROWD. PLEASER. And easily made ahead. Just sayin.)

slice o cake

3. Flourless Chocolate Cake. Maybe the object of your affection is more of a purest and wants straight-up rich dark chocolate, uncluttered with flour or - horror! - that impostor known as white "chocolate". In that case, you should make the absolute perfection that is this flourless chocolate cake. (But! I'm not gonna lie: the Triple Chocolate Mousse Tart is prettier.)

Food duh

4. Cherry Smoothie. I'm serving these tangy-sweet, beautifully pink smoothies alongside some Vegan with a Vengeance double chocolate pancakes for my three main squeezes on Friday morning. Jealous?

vegan chocolate muffins

5. If I weren't short a couple ingredients, I might be serving those pink lovelies with some Mocha Chocolate Chip Muffins instead of pancakes. They are so delicious and simple. And did you know chocolate = love?

trio of cookies

6. Hearts! The v. best kind of hearts: Whole Wheat Butter Cookies. Use any kind of jam on the inside. (Hearts elsewhere: Joy the Baker's Pie Hearts and My New Roots' Raw Chocolate Caramel Hearts. The latter makes me want to go buy a heart candy mold yesterday.)

finished shakshuka in pan

7. If you've got more than just yourself + 1 to feed, you might consider a beautiful, aromatic one-pot meal like this Shakshuka, a/k/a Eggs in Purgatory. Love on a budget.


8. Or... Chicken with Cardamom Rice. Chicken thighs might not sound sexy, but when you simmer them with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and juicy currants for a while - I assure you - they really are. And your house will smell good for days.

ribeye close up

9. Spiced Ribeye with Caper and Chive Vinaigrette. I said "sense of occasion" and I meant it. What's more occasiony than steak?

Elderflower Liqueur Cocktail 1

10. St. Germaine-Pineapple Martini. I don't think anything says "do me" quite like Elderflower Liqueur and steak. 

Godspeed, lovers. And many more!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Because I Can't Wait for Two Rises: Shortcut Chocolate Babka

When I was a child, I grew up occasionally going to Noah's Bagels at the Capitola Mall. I like a bagel okay, and that was in the pre-meat days so I'd generally order one with hummus and a stack of fresh vegetables and pat myself on the back for being "healthy". While that meal sounds simple and fabulous right now because of the sheer nostalgia the memory of it conjures - it was fairly forgettable, and the primary reason I ordered it repeatedly was because, raised in a finish-your-dinner-before-you-can-have-dessert home, upon completing my veggie bagelwich, I'd feel as though I'd earned what I really went to Noah's Bagels for: chocolate babka. I have no idea if they still offer those individually-wrapped slices of crazy delicious ooey gooey cinnamon-chocolate nirvana, but I can still taste them as if I had one yesterday. Chocolate babka = unforgettable. Lover of superlatives that I am, I think I'm going to go ahead and get bold here. Because, it's true: Noah's Bagels' chocolate babka is (was?) one of the best foods ever. In my top 5 for sure.

Marbled Perfection

So, remember in my last post when I raved about Jerusalem? Well, if you haven't yet, you should go make that chicken with cardamom rice right now. But I'm not bringing up Jerusalem just to remind you to make chicken. I'm bringing it up because it's got a recipe for a Jewish form of chocolate babka called Chocolate Krantz Cake, that looks in the pictures an awful lot like Noah's Bagels' chocolate babka. It also looks in the pictures like I want to stuff my face with both loaves stat. (You could do a photo search of "Jerusalem Krantz Cake" real quick to get us on the same page, if you'd like.) Krantz cake (and babka, generally) is basically a rich yeasted white flour dough, filled with a chocolate-sugar paste and some nuts, and rolled. All kinds of shaping gymnastics can ensue, depending on what you're game for. This is a case of hard work paying off. The more deliberation you put into it, the more impressive the cakes tend to turn out.

The one word in the above paragraph you should have noticed (I italicized it for you) was "stat". I want to eat babka whenever I think about babka. But babka takes some time, what with two rises, one of them an overnighter. Also, I generally leave the yeast in this household to my husband. While I'm no longer afraid of it, I just feel like it should be his thing. He's super skilled at it, he missed it during the gluten-free years, and he really does want to make a yeasted babka one of these days. (Although he is leaning towards Peter Reinhart's recipe rather than Ottolenghi's because, well, why fix something that isn't broken, eh? Peter Reinhart's never let him down.)

Enter: my yeast-free dough for everything. You've seen it before on this blog, in some classes, at my brunches. It's the dough I use to make cinnamon rolls, poppyseed-prune pull-aparts, and - omitting sugar, opting for olive oil, considerably reducing amount of baking powder - adorable pizzette. It's made in the food processor, benefits from a rest/chilling time but doesn't require it, and is absolutely delicious and decadent, even sans eggs. It's like a super elastic scone or biscuit dough. Cottage cheese makes it creamy, yogurt gives it a tang. It's a revelation, really, over and over again. Once I accepted that I couldn't afford two rises, I knew this dough would have to do. And it did. So. Flipping. Good. This babka is insanely addictive. Imagine a buttermilk pancake meets glazed donut meets chocolate fudge. It's something like that but better than all three. It is almost - almost - as good as the Noah's Bagels version. It is also almost gone. 

You should give it a whirl. (Get it? Like in your food processor? Ha!)

Filled!Shaping instrcutionsShaped!Simple syrup glazeBaked!

P.S. Here's what "Best Quality" cocoa powder looks like. MC got it for me for Christmas.

"High Quality Chocolate"

Shortcut Chocolate Babka
Yield: 1 standard loaf (perhaps 8 servings)
Filling and folding technique from Jerusalem

For dough
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup more for kneading/dusting/rolling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cottage cheese
1/3 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil or unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For filling
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons / 2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
2.5 ounces good dark chocolate (I used 80%), melted
2 heaping tablespoons best quality chocolate powder (Askinosie!)
2 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For glaze
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, making sure everything gets mixed thoroughly. In the bowl of your food processor, fitted with the S-blade, place cottage cheese, yogurt, olive oil or melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Process until the mixture has the consistency of a cream cheese glaze (no cottage cheese curds left). (If you don't have a food processor, you could also do this part in a blender. Once you've blended wet ingredients so that they are thoroughly mixed, pour them into bowl with dry ingredients and stir with a spatula or spoon until a tacky dough forms.) Add dry ingredients to food processor and pulse until a tacky dough forms. Spread a large sheet of Saran wrap on a flat surface and carefully remove all the dough from the food processor and center it onto plastic wrap. Shape it into a 8 X 5" rectangle, wrap it tightly, and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes, up to a couple days. A very cold dough will be easier to work with.

Once you are ready to make your cake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan. Melt chocolate and butter and stir together all your filling ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup until there are no lumps. 

Generously flour a work surface. Have a rolling pin ready to go, as well as a bench scraper or metal spatula to help work the dough if it sticks to your work space (it is v. tacky). Unwrap the dough, discard the plastic wrap, and place dough on your floured work surface. Knead it a bit to get rid of any air pockets that have formed and flatten it into a slightly larger rectangle. Dust top of dough with flour, dust rolling pin with flour, and roll dough into 12 X 15" rectangle, ideally about 1/4" thick. Pour chocolate filling into center of rolled dough and spread it so that it evenly coats the dough, leaving an inch on the far end of your rectangle. Roll the dough tightly, starting with side closest to you and rolling towards the far side, using a spatula or bench scraper to help get any sticky bits off counter. Pinch the ends when you're done. Massage it a bit so it's uniformly thick. Use a sharp knife to slice it down the center lengthwise, so you end up with two long cords. Press the two cords together at one end, then gently twist them, about 3-4 times. Press the cords together at the other end. Carefully lift the twist and place it into loaf pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating pan 180 degrees after 15 minutes so that it bakes evenly. It will be light brown when it's done and a knife inserted in the center should come out with no crumbs (although it will probably have some ooey gooey chocolate filling on it).

While loaf is baking, place sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to boil. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved and the glaze is clear, about 3-4 minutes. When the loaf is done, remove it from oven and drizzle half the glaze over the cake. Use a pastry brush to spread the glaze into bumps and crevices. Repeat with remaining half of glaze. Allow to cool in pan until just warm, then run a knife along the sides of the pan to loosen the loaf before removing it. Allow it to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Best Homemade Meal We've Had in YEARS: Jerusalem's Chicken with Cardamom Rice

In honor of my mother's recent visit, I made a proper dinner. Not a tried-and-true standby, not the latest thing I do at class, not even something from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook that I haven't made yet but I'm sure will be great because everything in her cookbooks is great. No way man. My mom deserves the best. So I decided to recognize the occasion of her arrival for what it was: the best reason ever to finally try my hand at something brilliant from Jerusalem, a cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi that I've had for over a year but haven't really tackled with the gusto and precision it warrants. You can tell from the long, sexy ingredient lists that everything in the cookbook will turn out complex and fragrant, you can tell from the pictures that everything will be gorgeous, and you can tell from the warm, detailed recipes themselves that these guys are foolproof. How to choose then? Well, you see, I've got these children underfoot most hours of the day, so I needed to try something that was simple, with decent amounts of inactive time, once I'd gotten everything assembled and prepped. I also wanted something that wasn't too spicy, and probably it would have to be chicken, so as to please the whole (picky yet chicken-loving) family. Lastly, I wanted something that, without requiring too much of that active time I was avoiding, would teach me a thing or two. So I chose Chicken with Cardamom Rice, and it did not disappoint, on any front. It tastes fancy and complicated but it isn't. And I learned how to make luscious chicken thighs that were perfectly crisp on the outside and perfectly moist on the inside, as well as how to make rice like my Colombian grandmother used to: with a dry tea towel.


The tea towel absorbs the last bit of moisture from the rice, making it everything you hoped for but had trouble getting without a tea towel.


My mom loved it. You will too. Make this tomorrow.

Since I'm not altering a thing about this recipe (why would I? it is EXQUISITE exactly as written!) and I'm not contacting Mr. Ottolenghi for permission to reprint his brilliant recipe (which would be the decidedly polite thing to do), I'm not posting it here. Conveniently for you (it's your lucky day, folks), the New York Times posted it a while back when it was featured in their Recipe Lab. So... here you go... (with a few notes from me below)...

E-N's Notes: (1) I omitted the sugar and used currants rather than barberries. Currants are delicious and, you know, readily available at an American grocery store. (2) I caramelized my onions for closer to 40 minutes than the stated 10-15 minutes, at a lower temp, because I wanted them as sweet and juicy as possible. I'm so glad I did this - they were a perfect sweet complement to the spices and currants. (3) This makes a lot of rice for 2 1/4 lbs chicken thighs. I'd go with as many thighs as you can fit into your pan - maybe up to 3 lbs (6+ thighs). (4) The combination of dill, cilantro, and parsley is nice and if you want to buy three fresh herbs even when you happen to make this in the dead of winter, go for it (I certainly did, for the love of Mom of course), but I'm fairly certain it would be just as good with straight up cilantro (or dill or parsley). (5) Finally, and really, most importantly, the children super loved this as much as the grown-ups! Hooray!