Little Cherry Cake

Cherry pie…yes, I’m still obsessing on cherries.  The other week I did make something with the few sour cherries I still had in the freezer.  A small six inch cherry cake. It was so easy; a basic cake batter made with my portable mixer and you sink some sour cherries into the batter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake.  The batter swallows up the cherries and they bake in the cake creating a wonderful, sweet, little treat.  I know… trying to eat less sugar but I really wanted a smaller cake to share with my mom and it was wildly successful.  Subtle cherry flavor in a tender golden blanket of cake.  Totally yummy and really not that much sugar.

The recipe is by Annalise Roberts and the original can be found on her blog.  I changed it a bit for my small cake version. She uses sweet cherries and I prefer sour.  This little cake serves four.  It goes together quickly and makes a great dessert for a small group.  Guessing vanilla ice cream would be fantastic on it but never got to that!

Little Cherry Cake

Heaping 1/3 cup c. sugar

¼ c. butter, room temperature

½ brown rice flour mix

¾ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. xanthan gum

Pinch of salt

1 large egg, room temperature

½ tsp. almond extract

¼ tsp. vanilla extract

¾ to 1 cup pitted sour cherries (if frozen do not fully defrost)

1-2 tsp. cinnamon sugar

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Put rack in center to lower center of oven.  Spray a six inch cake pan with cooking spray.

Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl using an electric hand held mixer, not a standing mixer as that is too powerful.  Blend until smooth. Add the eggs, dry ingredients and extracts, beat 2 min at medium speed.  Pour batter into pan.  Place cherries evenly around the top; push them in a bit so they are not just laying on the surface. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Bake for about 35 minutes; test to see if the batter is set.  Cool on rack before cutting. Store leftover cake tightly wrapped (if there is any!)

cherry torte 001

Not the prettiest cake slice; a quarter of it.  It tasted better than it looks here!

Brown Rice Flour Mix  (Same as King Arthur GF blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

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Pickles Without the Heat

Some of us adore pickles and some dislike them.  If you are a pickle fan read on.  If not, read anyway as these are far better than the tired flabby canned pickles found at the grocery store.  A good gardening friend gave me this recipe.  It is really easy and rather fun to construct.  Even better is that you can pickle most any veggies. I have tried zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, green peppers, cabbage and red peppers.  Of course, cucumbers are in there too!  Debating beets….hummm. Plus there is no heating up the kitchen with canning equipment which has real appeal in this endless heat wave. sausage and beans, beets 006.JPG

You do need a couple grape leaves.  You might be able to find a neighbor with a grape vine.  I am sure you could use wild grape leaves from a state park or along a country road.   They really add to the authenticity of it so snag a few from somewhere.

Also needed are 3 dill heads (the flowers of a dill plant).  This might be more problematic but if you know a real gardener, aka someone like me, you can beg the dill heads as frankly they are not used much for cooking and I was happy to give some to the friend who gave me this recipe.  Grow your own dill for next summer; it is so easy to do and it does reseed and come back year after year.  Dill is lovely in potato salad and in other salads like my stuffed tomatoes, see that blog post… pickle jar

Refrigerator Pickles

2 cups white vinegar

¼ cup salt, I used kosher salt in mine

4 cups water (I used 3)

¾ cup sugar

3 garlic cloves cut up

3 dill heads

2 grape leaves

Bring the first four ingredients to a boil in a sauce pan and let cool fully.  Put the other three ingredients in the bottom of a gallon jar.  Cut up your veggies and pile in the jar.  Top with the vinegar mixture. Put on the lid. Put in the fridge and let marinate for 3 days before trying it.

I have pickled cucumbers, short zucchini spears, broken up cauliflower heads, thin slices of white turnip, peppers, broccoli spears, and celery chunks.

My grandson Aiden who is almost five clamors for the pickle jar to come out when he eats meals here.  I say, eat your food and you can have some pickles! He gobbles up his food and waits expectantly for me to fish out a pickle or two.

I like how fresh they are and how crunchy the pieces still are. Plus they have no additives or preservatives.  You can keep adding veggies as you use them up.  I think the tough part is fishing them out of the jar.  The other day I lost a fork in there but luckily it didn’t go to the bottom of the jar; a cuke round stopped its descent! Now, go pickle fresh veggies and have some fun with it….

Originally posted by me late last summer 2014.

Cherry Berry Pie in July

Just cause it is hot doesn’t mean I can’t bake a pie.  Ran my exhaust fan to carry off some of the excess heat.  Worth it for the yummy pie to share with friends and family. I was out of town and missed sour cherry season in late June. Bummer.  So…cherry pie; want it but didn’t want canned pie filling.  No sour cherries in the farm stand, no frozen ones in my grocery store.  What to do.  I decided to make a cherry berry pie with a four berry blend from the grocery store’s frozen case. I have used this blend before to make muffins and it did pretty well.  One other options is jarred sour cherries, maybe next cherry pie attempt will be with them.

If you prefer a lattice it can be made by doubling this pie crust and some careful construction work.  I tend to go the easy route of the crumb as everyone loves it. You could make a smaller 8 inch pie; use a cup less fruit and cut the sugar some, ditto for the tapioca. This pie is fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. cherry berry pie 005

This recipe is a blending of my own pie filling and the pie crust and crumb recipes from Annalise Robert’s cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking Classics.  I used a touch less sugar a a bit more fruit, and the frozen fruit blend to create my own special pie.  That cookbook is a fabulous resource and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone trying to bake gluten free for a family member.  There is nothing like the classic dessert of a pie to comfort a celiac who can’t eat what they used to.

cherry berry pie 004Angie’s GF Cherry Berry Crumb Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

———————–

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you ready the crumb crust and the fruit.

Filling:

6 cups fresh or frozen sweet cherry, blackberry, blueberry and raspberry mix   (two plastic 12 oz packages)

Mix the following in a small bowl and pour over the cherries:

1/3 to ½ cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp. tapioca granules

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Roll out pie crust between two sheets of wax paper or in a pie bag; try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  Fill with sweetened fruit mix.  Sprinkle the crumb topping (1 to 1½ cup) evenly over this mixture.  The more crumbs the thicker the crust they will form; for a really thick crust use all the crumbs from the recipe below.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes with a piece of aluminum foil on top of the pie, then 25-30 more minutes at 375 degrees uncovered until bubbly and the crust is light brown.  If you use frozen berries like I did, don’t defrost them more than half way; make sure it is bubbling and light brown before taking it out of the oven. Cool at least 2 hours before serving at room temperature.

Note: I bake pies in my bottom heat pizza oven and it gives me a great browned crust.  If your oven isn’t bottom heat you might want to pre-bake the crust 10 minutes before filling and topping the fruit.

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form. Don’t over mix or you will get a soft dough instead of crumbs; not a good thing…done it and not happy with myself…

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Brown Rice Flour Mix  (Same as King Arthur GF blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Eating Out GF in Boston: Yummy!

Traveling again; in search of great gluten free food…in the Boston area. I ate at Legal Seafood, two different locations, two great meals.  I had mussels in wine sauce followed by a steamed lobster for supper one night.  It came with two gf rolls, warm and tasty…side of brown rice which was a bit drab: I think they left off the seasoning in a probably cautious decision (seasonings can be problematic due to flour in spice blends).  And my second side was sautéed fresh spinach.  Everything was tasty. The gf food arrives at the same time as everyone else’s but via a different waiter who is tasked with making sure you eat safely.  I had a dark chocolate mousse for dessert that was incredibly rich; couldn’t finish it! You should know that the owners of this chain have celiac family members so they really try hard to give you a great and safe gf eating experience.

Legallegal lobster

For lunch a couple days later my sister and I ate at a different Legals as the Thai restaurant we planned to go to was closed. I had some Portuguese seafood chowder full of perfectly cooked white fish, mussels, clams, chorizo sausage and tomato based broth.  It also came with those tasty gf rolls. I had a side of coleslaw, very fresh and crunchy. So nice to feel I can eat food that is safe for me and really tasty.  seafood chowder

There are three Legals in the Phila. and south Jersey area; check out the one at King of Prussia mall: http://www.legalseafoods.com/restaurants/king-of-prussia-king-of-prussia-mall.  So you can eat great gf seafood right here in PA.

myers

I also ate at a hipster kinda of Thai/Chinese restaurant in the Back Bay area of Boston: Chang and Myers… http://www.myersandchang.com/.  My shredded pea pod salad with green goddess dressing and sunflower seeds was simply amazing.  I had salmon with rice and soy sauce, all gluten free.  Perfectly done salmon.  I could have done with less sauce; not used to much of that salty stuff.  I enjoyed a wonderful baby bok choy stir fry with scallions and fresh ginger.  My only issue was the disjointed service; lots of gaps there….plus my companions’ food and mine were off synch and that took away from the wonderful flavor of my food.  I hadn’t eaten in an oriental restaurant in over three years, since going gluten free so it was a great treat to eat there. Small gf menu but everything I ate was wonderful.  I took no pictures there and couldn’t find any on line of the gf foods I ate.  You will have to trust me on the wonderfulness of my gf foods there.

the cottagecrab and shrimp salad

Ladies luncheon out at The Cottage was as great as ever. I had crab and shrimp salad with hearts of palm and a delicate lemon dressing.  It was refreshing, filling and so fresh and just beautiful to look at.  Hot gf rolls were a very nice touch.  We three ladies shared our traditional flourless chocolate torte with vanilla ice cream.  Not a scrap of that delicious dessert was left on the plate! chocolate tort

 

Finally, I had a super gf ice cream cone in Lexington at a small ice cream shop; they only charged 25 cents for a gf sugar cone.  Marvelous homemade dark chocolate topped with coffee ice cream.  Mmmmm.

 

So, if you are heading to the Boston area; there are a lot of great restaurants which have gluten free options.

Fruit & Veggie Bars: Refreshing

 

Hot, yeap it is July and it is HOT in Pennsylvania and most of the USA.  Sometimes a chilly treat is in order.  I found these fruit and veggie pops in my grocery store; made by Outside, part of Nestle.  Not a lot to them, mostly fruit and veggie puree or juice reconstituted from concentrate, some sugar, not much else.  Flavors are Strawberry rhubarb, Tangerine medley and Blueberry medley. They have from 34 to 40 calories and from 5-15 mg of sodium.  The ingredients vary so the amount of vitamins varies too from 4-20 percent of daily need for vitamin A, 15% of vitamin C and the tangerine has 10 % of your daily vitamin K.  There is a small amount of fiber; 2-3% of daily requirement. 9 g of sugar.  Not much else in there: no fat or cholesterol. The juice/puree includes: apple, pear, strawberry, rhubarb, blueberry, pear, tangerine, sweet potato, pumpkin, passion fruit, carrot, beet, lemon and raspberry.

fruit and veggie bars

I find them refreshing, light, and vastly better than a sugary fruit pop that often contains minimal fruit juice.  They are not too sweet but not sour either. Not really tasting like any vegetables.  The puree doesn’t taste thick or heavy; blends in perfectly.  Adds a slightly different flavor to the fruit. Guilt free in my book.  Twelve to a box for about $4 which is a great deal to my thinking.  They also have a version that is just fruit; no veggies.  Bet they are tasty too! fruit bars

Cherry Crumb Pie Delights

Pie is a classic American dessert, what guy doesn’t like a fat slice of juicy pie? Cherry pie is perfect for the weeks before and after the Fourth of July or anytime you can get frozen sour cherries.  My sister sometimes uses jarred cherries but I prefer fresh or frozen sours.  You can make it gf easily with this recipe – my crust is really tasty; my family practically cheers when I serve homemade pie and the rest of my family does not eat gluten free.

Fresh tasting, locally sourced fruits are exactly in the spirit of summer.  I have picked mine at an orchard down in Bucks County near the Turnpike along Limekiln Pike, about 20 minutes from Hellertown.  This year they were not selling hand pick and I missed the very short season. No matter; I can use frozen ones for sure!

The sugar, cinnamon and almond extract create an intense cherry flavor.  If you prefer a lattice it can be made by doubling this pie crust and some careful construction work.  I tend to go the easy route of the crumb as everyone loves it. You could make a smaller 8 inch pie; use a cup less fruit and cut the sugar some, ditto for the tapioca. This pie is fantastic with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

This recipe is a blending of my own pie filling and the pie crust and crumb recipes from Annalise Robert’s cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking Classics.  I used a touch less sugar, more fruit, and made a few other changes to create my own special pie.  Her cookbook is a fabulous resource and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone trying to bake gluten free for a family member.  There is nothing like the classic desserts that we used to enjoy seasonally to comfort a celiac who can’t eat what they used to.

Angie’s GF Cherry Crumb Pie

Crust:

1 c plus 2 tbsp brown rice flour mix (at bottom of recipe)

2 tbsp sweet rice flour

1 Tbps. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbps. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Spray 9 inch metal pie pan with cooking spray, dust with white rice flour.

Mix dry ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and juice.  Mix until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 15-20 minutes while you pit the fruit.

Filling:

6 cups pitted fresh sour cherries: place in medium bowl (If frozen do not defrost and bake the pie maybe ten extra minutes until good and bubbly)

Mix the following in a small bowl and pour over the cherries:

¾ cup granulated sugar

3-4 tbsp. tapioca flour

1/4 to ½ tsp. cinnamon

Roll out pie crust between two sheets of wax paper or in a pie bag; try to get the thickness even, no thick middle! Peel off one side of paper and place in pie pan, centered.  Remove other slice of wax paper.  Crimp edges all around.  Fill with sweetened fruit mix.  Sprinkle the crumb topping (1 to 1½ cup) evenly over this mixture.  The more crumbs the thicker the crust they will form; for a really thick crust use all the crumbs from the recipe below.

If you love your pie really sweet add another ¼ cup granulated sugar to the dry mix part of the filling.  I found the pie to be plenty sweet but everyone has their own sweetness level.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes with a piece of aluminum foil on top of the pie, then 15-20 more minutes uncovered until bubbly and the crust is light brown.  If you use frozen berries, don’t defrost them more than half way and you might have to cook the pie up to 15 extra minutes; make sure it is bubbling and light brown before taking it out of the oven. Cool at least 2 hours before serving at room temperature.

Note: I bake pies in my bottom heat pizza oven and it gives me a great browned crust.  If your oven isn’t bottom heat you might want to pre-bake the crust 10 minutes before filling and topping the fruit.

Crumb topping

Put all four ingredients in the same mixing bowl you made the bottom crust in and mix well with mixer paddle until crumbs form. Don’t over mix or you will get a soft dough; not a good thing…done it and not happy with myself…

¾ c brown rice flour mix

½ c granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

1/3 c cold butter cut into six chunks

Brown Rice Flour Mix  (Same as King Arthur GF blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

 

Summer Roast Chicken Minus Oven

Hot days of late, too hot to roast a fricken chicken.  Not that many gluten free rotisserie chickens around here that I know of, although I here Wegmans has them.  What to do if we crave roast chicken and don’t want to heat the house too?  It’s Super Slow Cooker to the rescue!  So easy too, make a dry rub of spices, sprinkle all over the bird and stick some under the skin.  Plop it in the pot and let er rip for 4 plus hours!  How did it turn out? Great! Mildly spicy, flavorful, moist and tasty.  Best of all: no hot kitchen.  I ate it that night with some leftover potato salad and some veggies.  The next night I created a big salad of many veggie things with my homemade rotisserie chicken breast as the star ingredient.  A few nights later another salad with different veggies and more of the fabulous chicken topping it.  Then a day later I made a simple stir fry with pad Thai noodles, broccoli florets, fresh ginger in thin strips, zuke half moons, fresh pea pods from the garden, onion and a diagonally sliced carrot.  Oh and I used the rest of the chicken breast for the protein in it. The rest of the stir fry: cold Thai salad for lunch the next day: I just added a bit of sesame oil and it was ready! Awesome!  No oven needed. Or wanted!

It is from my slow cooker cookbook by Carla Forbes. I know you will be pleased with how cool your kitchen stays and that it is safe for us gluten intolerant types.  For some reason most stores that sell rotisserie chicken add some gluten in the process.  I am guessing it is in the spice blend as is often the case with such flavor blends.  In any case, your homemade rotisserie chicken will be safe and succulent! And for anyone who doesn’t worry on gluten; well, this is a tasty dish you will love to have in your arsenal of hot weather entrée choices.

Hot Summer Rotisserie Chicken

1 four pound whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry

2 tbsp. olive oil

Spice blend: mix in a small dish

1 ½ tsp sat

2 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. dried thyme

½ tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. white pepper

½ tsp. cayenne pepper or hot chili powder

½ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. garlic powder

Directions: Remove any giblets and dispose of them how ever you like.  Just not gonna use them in this recipe! Or any I provide.  Ick!  Rinse the bird or not as you prefer: just be sure to pat dry with a couple paper towels.  Rub the spice mix all over the bird, pull back some breast skin and sprinkle the mix in there.  Sprinkle any extra inside the bird.  Place bird breast up in your six quart oval (not so good in round one!) slow cooker.  Drizzle the olive oil on top of your bird; all over it.  Cover and cook 4-5 hours on low or 3.5 on high.  I did 4 on low and turned it up to high for 45 minutes at the end. My bird was close to 5 pounds so I felt it needed a bit more cooking.

My recipe said you could make gravy: what I did was remove the bird and add 1/3 cup brown rice mixture flour and stir well to blend it into the pan juices and naturally created chicken broth.  Add salt and pepper to taste; cook on high for 10-15 minutes.

I ate some hot with potato salad that night and put the rest of it into a big batter bowl that has a lid.  Once it was cooled somewhat the bird went into the refrigerator to keep fresh and flavorful.  The broth soaks in and adds even more flavor as it rests in the cold fridge.

I have no picture of the done bird whole.  I was so hungry the first night I dug in and totally forgot to take one; next time I made it I will snap a few and upload to this post.  It looks like your regular rotisserie chicken if not as dry or dark skinned.

Originally posted July 2015. Minor changes to text made.