Chestnut Cake

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Hello chestnut cake. Who knew? Why don’t I see this everywhere, all the time? Talk about a lovely and naturally gluten free flour.

My mother frequents a tiny, hole-in-the-wall, amazing Italian import store in Los Angeles called Guidi Marcello. Sometime ago she discovered several naturally gluten free items like corn pasta, flours, and the usual meats and cheeses.

One such treat was chestnut flour. I have been experimenting now with a variety of recipes. This favorite is a cake adapted from Gourmet, 2004. Top with whipped cream or greek yogurt as I did or chestnut spread.

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Chestnut Cake
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped*
1/2 cup olive oil
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup chestnut flour + some for dusting
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour (using chestnut flour) a 9-inch springform pan.

Toast hazelnuts until slightly browned. Rub nuts in a kitchen towel to remove any loose skins (some skins may not come off). Chop hazelnuts.

Beat together egg yolks, oil, honey, and 2 tablespoons sugar until thick and pale- several minutes. Sift together the chestnut flour, almond flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Fold in nuts. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and beat until just combined.

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt at medium-high speed until they form soft peaks. Add remaining sugar a little at a time, while beating the whites. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

Fold egg whites into the batter one third at a time. Pour into prepared pan and drop from 6 inches to break up any air bubbles.

Bake 30 minutes, then loosely cover with foil and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 10 to 15 minutes more.

Cool 30 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool completely.

*The structure of the cake will not alter if you do not use the hazelnuts. One version I opted to keep the hazelnuts out and use them as a topping instead.

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Creamy Green Gazpacho with Queso Fresco and Toasted Pepitos

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When I was 13 my mother took my sister to visit colleges. That was also the week of Spanish class presentations at my high school. With my mother and sister away from home, I came home with a “recipe” from a friend for gazpacho. I had always loved cold soup, but this one was spectacular. She told me the recipe: 1 tomato, 1 onion, 1 cucumber. Blend. So I did. My father kindly slurped the onion water down while my brother refused and poured himself a bowl of cereal. The next day I approached my friend and asked her about the recipe. Oh yeah, my mom made it. I don’t really know what was in it. I’m sorry Pa. I will never make that gazpacho again.

It’s been some years since the “gazpacho incident” and I’ve made dozens of variations over the years. This is one of my favorites. It’s incredibly creamy because of the avocado while still refreshing and light.

Creamy Green Gazpacho
1 1/2 pounds tomatillo
2 small avocados
2 small cucumbers (persian or other low-seed cucumber)
2 small cloves garlic
1/2 small yellow onion
1 hatch chili, optional (seeded)
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2-1 cup water
hefty handful of cilantro
garnish with queso fresco, olive oil, toasted pepitos, and salt

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil the tomatillos whole for 2-3 minutes. Remove and place under cold water to stop the cooking.

Place all ingredients in a blender (start with 1/2 cup of water). Blend until completely smooth, adding more water and salt if needed.

Chill for at least 1 hour. Place garnish atop each bowl of gazpacho.

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Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbread

IMG_9984I created these a long while back and brought them along to a picnic. I forgot all about them but my 3rd base-playing friend, LB, did not. She reminded me of how much she loved those cookies several times over the last year. So when it was time for her going-away party I figured I’d make them again. I went through all of my files, notes, pictures, but found no trace of how I made them. So I tried again…. at midnight before the party. I made some crumbly (but tasty) something that sort of resembled a cookie. Nope.

And then I remembered I’d created an espresso shortbread that had all the right texture and bite. So I woke up early and made a new batch based on these guys in a snap. They are vegan and gluten free but will satisfy anyone’s sweet (but not too sweet) tooth. They travel well and keep in the freezer for some time too.

Salt and Pepper Cocoa Cookies
2 cups blanched almonds
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave
1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
6-8 green peppercorns
1-2 teaspoons flake salt (like Maldon Sea Salt)

Place the almonds and toasted walnuts in a food processor and blend until a fine powder. Add the cocoa and baking soda.

Add the oil and agave and blend until just combined. Add the pecans and pulse a few times. Place the dough in plastic wrap and roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour, until just firm.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. While the oven is preheating, prepare the pepper and salt. Smash the peppercorns using a mortar and pestle or the dull side of a heavy knife. Place in a small bowl. Place a teaspoon of flake salt in another small bowl.

Remove the cookie dough from the freezer and slice into ovals about 1/2 inch thick. Place about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper onto each cookie. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Let cool completely before handling. They will firm up a bit more out of the oven as well.

Posted in A Little Spicy, Dietary Restrictions, Recipes, Salty, Sweet | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

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I have friends eating their way through their last week in Austin before a big move overseas. Some of their favorite things include dessert: particularly Lick Ice Cream. While I do love Lick, I can’t sample some of the favorites. I decided to try my hand at a Dark Chocolate with Olive Oil and Sea Salt ice cream for these ice cream connoisseurs. This version I can eat and so can they. It might be my favorite of all chocolate ice creams. It’s the texture that does it for me. To finish, add a sprinkle of sea salt and a little more olive oil if you desire and you’re golden.

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Olive Oil and Sea Salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 pinches sea salt, plus extra for garnish
1 scant cup sugar
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
3 Tablespoons full-bodied extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish

Mix the cocoa, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Add the boiling water and stir into a paste. Add the coconut milk and simmer until the mixture comes to a light boil. Remove from heat. Whisk in the olive oil.

I decided to use a still freeze for this one. Place hot mixture in a heat proof bowl/tupperware with a lid. Leave uncovered in the freezer until chilled- about an hour. After the initial hour, mix with a wooden spoon every 20-30 minutes to even out the frozen crystals. When mixture is starting to feel frozen (about 2-3) hours, place in a blender or use handheld immersion blender and break up frozen parts. Freeze until ready to eat.

Drizzle with olive oil and additional sea salt if desired.

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Blackberry Lime Sour Cream Sherbet

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This is my new favorite ice cream. I’ve mentioned the lactose free sour cream from Green Valley Organics before and how wonderful it is to cook with, right? It’s great because it’s not a “fake” substitute but rather the real thing sans lactose. Now think blackberry season. Now combine them. Yum. Refreshing. Light. Airy texture even after freezing over night. It’s also significantly lighter on the calorie side than cream and this doesn’t have a ton of sugar compared to store-bought ice creams.

Blackberry Lime Sour Cream Sherbet
3 cups blackberries
1 scant cup sugar
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
juice of 3 limes (about 4-5 Tablespoons juice)
zest of 3 limes

Place the berries, sugars, water, and lime juice in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cover the pot and simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring infrequently. Blend the berry mixture in a blender or handheld immersion blender.

Strain the berry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof container with a lid.Push lightly so you get all of the juice. Toss out the seeds. Blend the strained berry mixture with the zest and sour cream. Chill. Follow ice cream maker instructions.

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Honey Ginger Almond Butter Stuffed Dates

I came across this recipe for Honey Ginger Almond Butter on Food52 and have made it several times already.

I have a hefty jar of it in my fridge and my favorite thing to do is stuff the almond butter into dates. It makes for a great sugar-free and chock full of protein snack. And so far everyone of all ages has enjoyed it too.

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Vegan Vanilla Frosting

For the chocolate sheet cake I wanted a simple white frosting. This is great for decorating with: food coloring, coconut, nuts, sprinkles… It’s simple enough to host each of those and it’s tasty enough to stand on its own. This is THE best vegan frosting recipe I have found. It’s also incredibly simple as a ratio- 1:1:1. I doubled this for the 9×13 sheet cake.

Simple Vegan Vanilla Frosting
1 cup shortening, at room temperature
1 cup butter (earth balance), at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar*
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Beat the shortening and butter until whipped. Fold in the sugar, vanilla, and salt so as not to have a powdered sugar explosion. Once folded, beat the frosting until whipped and very smooth. Spread at room temperature and then chill until ready to eat. This can also be made 2-3 days ahead and stuck in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before frosting cakes. If you’re in a hurry, add 1 Tablespoon of hot water and beat again.

*Use under a cup of powdered sugar if you prefer it less sweet.

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