Sunday, September 25, 2011

Good Ways To Eat Nice Grains

Let's say this recipe was crafted in August. Now let's say it wasn't. Okay, it was. But it's good (any)ways. And it's just you and your kitchen (na-na-na-na-na-nice nothin' like quinoa 'n' rice).

We are time-traveling back to cooking and basking in the August California sunlight. So what is happenin'? Tell a friend: we're cooking chilled grain salads that suit your allergies. I made two versions side-by-side: one with quinoa, and one with rice (since quinoa doesn't agree with one of my dinner guests).

It's officially time to turn up some music, stir up your salad, and keep on smiling (with Michigan & Smiley).

Stirred-it-up Grain Salad (vegan & gf)

I used frozen, but canned hearts are great too.

The Bulk: 
3-4 cups cooked grain (rice & quinoa depicted. Cooked amount is whatever 1 cup dry grain expands to. Delicious served warm or chilled!)
handful of fresh thyme (or 2-3 Tablespoons dry)
half an apple, chopped
1/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans)
1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or another type of vinegar)
2 Tablespoons olive oil (or other oil)
3 Tablespoons apple juice
3 pinches of salt
3 grinds of black pepper


Mix all "The Bulk" ingredients together in a bowl, then pour the vinegrette over it evenly, stir again, and voilĂ ! You may serve it warm if the grains were just out of the rice cooker or pot, or you may place the dishes in the fridge in favor of a chilled dish.

You have a Stirred-it-up, lil' darlin'! Now dish it up and eat it up.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gonna Get Me Some of That Ol' Sweet (Potato) (Cinnamon) Roll

Song lyrics are notoriously difficult to decipher, oh-so perilous to parse. Termed mondegreens (origins from a misheard line: ". . . And Lady Mondegreen. The actual fourth line is And laid him on the green") these funny mixed-ups happen to me. In order to write this title, I had to look up the lyrics online to the Blood, Sweat & Tears song (Ha! I wrote "Sweet & Tears," which required correction yet divulges the all-encompassing and indulgent deliciousness of these rolls!).

One question for you, my treasured, precious, ol' Internet: why-oh-why must all lyrics databases be rife with pop-ups, gauche ads, and mistakes, perpetuating mondegreens and annoying all decent lyric-hunters? And, as for you, my dear Wikipedia: why, pray tell, can't you create a legit lyrics wiki? (Or have you, behind my back, you rascal!?)

And why, Julia, are you talking about this song? I happed upon it while baking these cinnfully cashew-money rolls. And it's a catchy oldies song.

Ol' Sweet Potato Cinnamon Roll (Gluten-free & Vegan)
Thanks to permission from the authors, I adapted from this recipe. I made up my own original frosting, which is sweet, and used my own filling concoction and flour substitutes for the dough, which is soft and tender. Just about the best treat ever, and the saturated fat in the coconut oil is actually beneficial.

Dry Ingredients:
3 cups (plus more for flouring the board to roll it) white rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour (tapioca, teff, wheat flour, etc., should all work just as well. I substituted different flours from the original recipe and it worked great!)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Wet Ingredients:
2 cup minus 3 Tablespoons cooked, mashed sweet potato (mine were canned from Trader Joe's. This is how much I had on hand, plus the difference made up with apple sauce. However, any combo with varying amounts of mashed sweet potato, apple sauce, pureed fresh or dried fruit, mashed bananas, canned pumpkin, etc., totaling 2 cups, would be cool to try out and should work fine!)
3 Tablespoons apple sauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup melted virgin coconut oil or grapeseed oil (or whatever you have on hand: butter, even olive oil, etc.) plus some to seal the rolled-out dough on the edges
1 Tablespoon vanilla

2-3 Tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4-1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup currants
(raisins or chopped dates would also be great)
(didn't add extra salt)

1 Tablespoon raw cashew butter (could try almond butter, sunflower seed butter, or experiment with other flavors, like peanut butter, plus using a bit of banana instead of all sweet potato in the dough! Nothing like PB & Bananas. Ooo! Also, you could use less or no cinnamon and use unsweetened cocoa powder instead . . .)
1/4 cup vanilla So Delicious coconut yogurt (I like this stuff, but whatever yogurt you have on hand. If it's unsweetened, I'd use at least a Tablespoon of maple syrup instead of just a teaspoon)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon coconut oil
(or your other oil, or just skip this. I don't think it's super vital to the consistency)
dash of cinnamon

While the oven is preheating to 350 degrees, use about 1 teaspoon of coconut (or other) oil in two 8 or 9-inch cake pans. Stir the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well combined. 

Mix the ingredients with a fork. No need to heat in the microwave or anything. Now it's ready to spread into the dough once that's rolled out like butter scraped over too much bread (sayeth Bilbo Baggins).
Using a large spoon, stir vigorously until smooth, or use a kitchen mixer or blender. Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl of the dry, and mix, stirring in more flour, about a 2 Tablespoons to a quarter-cup at a time until the dough is ballin' up, but still a tad sticky and not too floury.
Sprinkle flour on a clean counter or a large cutting board using your flour of choice, and place the dough on it. If your dough looks exceedingly wet and your flour-coated rolling pin (or you could use your floured hands if you don't have a rolling pin) keeps getting stuck, sprinkle a touch more flour onto the top of the dough, about a Tablespoon at a time. Be careful to not use too much flour; this risks making the finished roll product much too dense.

Form or roll the dough into a big rectangle. Spread the two ends that will begin and end the roll with a Tablespoon or two of softened coconut oil to seal it. Then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon or your filling (the one I created, or even some tasty jam would be delicious).


Begin to roll from one of the long ends (one of the ends with the oil to seal it). A large, thin spatula (aka rubber scraper) coated with flour can help you pry the stubborn dough off the board if that's an issue. Also, if pieces of dough come loose, push them back into the loaf and continue, or try attaching at the end.


Once the dough has been rolled into a tight spiral, use a piece of thick thread or dental floss to slide underneath the spiral, then pull up, criss-crossing your hands and the two ends of the thread to slice. Situate the rolls into your oiled pans with about a cm circumference of personal space per roll. Bake for approx. 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a roll in the center of the pan comes out clean.

Heat frosting ingredients on high in microwave for about 30 seconds then stir well with a fork
(my version didn't need additional salt. My cashew butter was unsalted, but I'd suggest adding to taste). Then drape warm frosting over rolls, which just popped out of the oven (on their own accord! They are yodeling, screaming (in a screamo sort of way?), begging to be devoured! But don't let them catch you off guard. You might just damage your jaw if you're reaching under the cupboards).

Enjoy this taste of the sky, or, rather, of cinn-ful heaven!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fe-fe-fe-fe-Feeny . . . & Zucchiny!

An ode to the nineties sitcom is in order! Whether we chant, sing, dance, drive, or play to the beat, the pre-Y2K television lineup has indelibly traced riffs and lines into our hearts. Granted these lines may be circular, and through trite repetition our arteries are crafted into Swiss cheese. 

From my limited perspective, the ultimate years of the millennium drew a line in the sand, set the bar high, and a myriad of other idioms (which may or may not be true idioms from a linguistic perspective).

Well, with cooking supplies in hand, zucchini in the garden, no cheese in the fridge, and Stefan (as well as Urkel today) in mind . . . off to the muffin man with ya!

Feeny Zucchiny Sesamy Muffins (gf & vg, but can make it neither with alternate ingredient options.)

Dry ingredients
3.5 cups of flour (I used 1.5 cups teff, 1/4 cup arrowroot starch, 3/4 cup brown rice, & 1.25 cups sorghum. It would work to just use 3.5 cups of whole wheat flour instead, but I was being gf & using up the flours sitting in my freezer!)
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
Wet ingredients
4 cups shredded zucchini (I fed mine through a food processor, but hand-shredding on a cheese grater works just grate!) 
1 ripe banana, mashed (approx. 1/2 cup, so apple sauce or another pureed fruit could be sub.)
3/4 cup oil (I used 3 types: 1/4 cup each of grapeseed, coconut, & sesame, which adds to the sesame flavor)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup maple syrup (this 1/2 cup of sweetening could be altered to be 1/2 cup of honey or normal sugar too) 
2 teaspoons vanilla
1.5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
To mix in
1/2 to 1 cup sesame seeds 
1 cup chocolate chips
(plus I garnished with a walnut on top of each as a nod to the traditional zucchini faire.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Stir all dry ingredients together until well-incorporated.

In a separate large bowl, stir together all wet ingredients.
Gradually add in the dry ingredients a cupful at a time.
Once the dough no longer has any dry flour wads in it, pour in your sesame seeds and chocolate chips and stir in.
Pour into 2 muffin tins (12-count each, with paper or tin liners. If no liners, the batter should be oily enough so that no muffin papers are necessary) plus an extra loaf-like pan for any excess dough (makes a shallow, brownie-like bread!). Top each with a walnut (walnuts are delicious when roasted for a bit in the over like this). 

Slide those muffins into the oven to meet their maker. Bake until a toothpick comes out of the center of the muffin without wet dough attached, about 30 minutes. For a bread loaf, it will take approximately an additional quarter to half an hour.

Enjoy the goodness of vegan baking, which allows batter-eating without fear of egg-borne salmonella.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Let's Talk About Teff

Let's talk about all the good things (since I'm unaware of any bad things) teff can bring. Teff is a delicious, ancient grain (though ubiquitous in Ethiopia, it's new-fangled under the star-spangled banner) reminiscent of whole wheat with a touch of its subtle sweetness. In my experience, teff has worked great for baking with sweets (chocolate, cinnamon, berries, fruit, etc. . . .) or pairing with meats (lamb, chicken . . .).

Why try teff? Bottom line: it tastes good, and our culture is hooked on wheat flour. Why not try something exotic? I don't mean to push it, but I like a healthy challenge to try something new & nourishing for you ("you" as in "one" or people in general. Who will courageously join the fight to reinstate "thou" & "one"? Life would be so much easier. "Y'all" works for disambiguating "you" too . . .). Tasting teff is akin to trying out a touch of cayenne pepper & pink Himalayan salt in lieu of the iodized girl-in-a-rain-slicker granules & powdery grey-black McCormick.

According to my doctor, by switching up what foods I eat on a rotational diet, I can avoid exacerbating allergies to foods that I am already prone to having (as my detrimental almond addiction, which I began as an alternative to mold-prone peanut butter, may have illustrated). In general I just ask myself: what have I been eating almost every day? Then I stop eating that item (rice, soy, cashews, corn, etc.) for a day or two to give myself a change of pace. It's sorta like a food safari (or, even better: an exotic excursion to New England!).

According to me, Teff is a fun way to eat something gluten-free. Cook accordingly and griddle that darling grain to fashion a fantastic farewell to summer in a fond fall foodie fashion!

Teffkin Pancakes (gluten-free, webkin-free & vegan)

1 cup teff flour (other types of flours would work fine too) 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon-ish/a dash allspice
1/8 teaspoon-ish/a dash cloves
(could use cinnamon or nutmeg if you don't have these spices on hand)

1 cup pumpkin 
1/3 cup light coconut milk, unsweetened (or other milk, sweetened or not, here I come)
1 Tablespoon of maple syrup
2 or 3 Tablespoons oil (I used grapeseed. Canola, coconut, or another oil would also work. I started with 2 T and added a bit more to get the batter to be a bit less thick.)  

oil for greasing griddle (I used about a 1/2 Tablespoon of grapeseed oil, which has a relatively high smoke point . . . coconut oil made my first pan smoke!)

1/4 cup pecans (or other nut or seed. Entirely optional)
3 dates, sliced (or 1/4 cup raisins. Utterly optional but wholeheartedly suggested)

Take the 1 cup flour and, if possible, sift it to make it fluffier, but it's no big deal (I haven't tried it unsifted, but I wanted to use a sifter since I had one on hand). 

Add all dry ingredients together in one big bowl: spices, baking soda, salt, flour.


Put all wet ingredients together (milk, pumpkin, maple syrup, & oil) in a different bowl. 

Once that's stirred well, incorporate the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Then stir in the optional nuts and dried fruit.


Cook over medium high heat on the pre-oiled griddle. It's ready when you shake water from your fingertips onto it and the droplets sizzle.

I used a rubber scraper/spatula to even out the pancake depth once it rested on the griddle, making the cakes a bit thinner. 

Top with some maple syrup, and sink your teeth into some warm, doughy goodness.