Monday, March 21, 2011

how to become addicted to caramel in 5 easy steps!

One of the things that has been hardest for Leslie is butter and cream. She adores ice cream, sundaes, whipped cream, etc. So I made chai coconut milk ice cream from Amy Green and while it was chilling in the ice box, I had a eureka moment-if I can do ice cream with coconut milk, why can't I do caramel?? The whipped coconut cream turned out pretty darn good. After all, a good caramel sauce is sugar, cream and butter-simple, right? So I decided to experiment, and let me tell you that is step 1 in becoming addicted. The sauce turns out beautifully brown, you could smell that unique almost-but-not-quite burned sugar and pours like a dream over ice cream. I ate several spoonfuls before I ever got any ice cream, and then, of course, when I did get ice cream, drizzling some over is a must! There are, I am sure, a trazillion caramel sauce recipes out there, but Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes does an excellent one and has great pictures! My next step would be to see if I can do this with palm sugar or coconut sugar-we were out of both this weekend. There was a chopped episode on the food network (speaking of addictions)and one of the chefs made a caramel sauce with piloncillo sugar and it was gorgeous dark, nutty brown! So there will be update with the palm sugar, if I can get it to work, but to feed addictions in the meantime, there is dairy free caramel sauce.

this post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Allergy Friendly Friday

Dairy Free Caramel Sauce

1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of coconut cream (from a can that was chilled for at least 24 hours in ice box)
6 tablespoon of Earth Balance (we use the soy free)

Ok get the heaviest saucepan that you own, 2 or 3 quart size. You are going to be heating up sugar, and you don't want it splashing back on you. Take your chilled can of coconut milk and use the pointy end your bottle opener to open two small triangles on the bottom of the can so all of the coconut water can come rushing out. (you can save this for a smoothie or discard, as you wish) Now using your can opener, open the top of the can and scoop out the cream into your measuring cup(or honestly, I eyeballed it, went that looks like 1/2 a cup, and got on with the sugar cooking). Measure out the tablespoons of the Earth Balance into another cup. Now that you have all you need laid out, you can begin; otherwise, trying to measure stuff while your sugar is heating up is a good way to get 2nd degree burns upon your person and even worse-completely burn the sugar to inedibility.
Heat the sugar in the saucepan over med/high heat. DO NOT TOUCH THE SUGAR NOW. Otherwise, your caramel sauce will be grainy; no, just allow the heat to do the job and melt the sugar. When the sugar has started to melt-you will see several small brown patches interspersed within the white sugar, take the pan off the heat and swirl the saucepan like mad woman! Keep hold of the handle and keep the hot sugar inside going in a circular motion. Keep swirling til all of the sugar is that beautiful caramelized brown. Now return pan to the heat and add in the Earth Balance, whisking like a dervish til the Earth balance has melted. Take the pan off the heat again, and slowly whisk in the coconut cream-it WILL foam up and look like it is about to take over your kitchen!(this is why the heaviest pan your own) Never fear, that is why you took it off the heat and why it is important that you whisk CONSTANTLY at this point. Keep whisking til it is smooth and creamy and pours evenly, no lumps! When it has cooled enough to touch, but is still warm enough to pour, go ahead and pour it into whatever jar or tupperware container you keep your caramel in. Or just pour it all right onto your ice cream. Makes about 1 cup of caramel sauce.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How I learned to stop worrying &love the algae

6 months ago, in a happy lemon fog, I told Iris that I would accept her challenge to make her gfree lemon bars vegan! In the midst of a move. Uhuh. We all saw how well I posted on that, mmm? However, the actual process of figuring out how to replace 2 eggs did take a few trys and some quelling of hostile oven takeovers. At first, I thought coconut or almond milk yogurt could work, and wouldn't it be great if they had it in lemon? Sadly, they only had lemon yogurt in soy yogurt. So if you can have soy, mayhap you can play with this, but the plain yogurt dulled the tart lemon that I prefer in my lemon bars. Finally, a eureka moment while I was packing my cookbooks-Veganomicon! This is a great cookbook even if you are not vegan and has been great for someone with Leslie's needs. Surely they have lemon bars, I thought-and they did! They used agar agar to jell the filling-genius! Agar agar is derived from algae and many vegans use it in place of gelatin for jelling and thickening. They also suggested tumeric for color, but I didn't use it, since I was using palm sugar, which is brown-as you can see. They used white sugar, so if you use a whiter sugar or sugar substitute, that would be the way to go. Let me say algae is my new favorite thing and I bow in the direction of Isa Chandra-Moskowitz, murmuring I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy.

submitted to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Gluten Free Wednesdays

Gfree, Vegan Lemon Bars

1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup potato starch (you could also use tapioca)
1/4 cup cornstartch (ditto)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/8 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 cup palm sugar (you could also use honey-Zoe did, but I was out of honey, having subsisted on tea for my throat for a good 2 weeks)
1 cup shortening-I like spectrum's palm oil (Zoe used Earth balance spread, if you prefer)
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (or if you are avoiding coconut, veg oil of your choice)

Whisk all flours, starches, sugar, salt and gums together. Add the shortening and cream into the dry ingriedents- I use my Kitchenaid mixer with a paddle attachment. Add in the coconut oil and continue mixing until it is incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse meal and holds together when pressed. Press into a 9x 13 pan-as you can see I used my trusty Pyrex. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 min til the crust smells great and has browned slightly. Cool completely on wire rack, 30 min or so.

1 1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons agar agar
1 1/2 cup palm sugar (you could try 1 cup of honey too)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons softened-not melted-coconut oil.

Fill a heavy saucepan with the water. Add the agar agar and let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, get on with zesting and juicing the lemons! When you have 2/3 cup of juice, add the arrowroot powder, whisking heartily to help distribute the powder evenly and help it to dissolve. After the 15 min for agar agar is up, turn up the heat to med/high and boil for 10 minutes, or until the agar agar is dissolved. Add palm sugar, stir til everything looks caramelesque and smells great. Whisk coconut oil in. Add the arrowroot thickened lemon juice and zest and whisk constantly til thickened, about 5 minutes. Don't let this boil rapidly! A few slow lazy bubbles is what you are aiming for. This will thicken into a very gelatinous substance to pour into your crust. I say pour into crust, but really it is more like you upend your pot over the crust and the filling falls out with a ploomph sound and you spread it evenly over the crust with a spatula. Let cool at room temprature for 20 minutes or so, then stick in your ice box for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Et voila! Lemon bars that look like apricot bars but taste deliciously, tartly of lemon.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

inadvertant hiatus

Ok. I was never the most reliable blog writer, let's just get that out there. And then I moved. Next, I went on vacation to New York-which was fabulous! And really, who expects anyone to keep up their blog while on vacation? (unless of course yours is a vacation blog-by all means carry on.) Then there was a flight out to see family. Then I was invited out for a long weekend in San Francisco-who says no to that? Especially since I found a fantastic bakery& bought their cookbook: Tartine. And then I got the most wicked case of strep throat necessitating 12 days of antibiotics. For a good 3 to 4 of those days, I did nothing more active than trying to down chicken soup so that I could down my meds. The rest of my convelesance was a trade off of reading books and reading blogs. Which of course made me think about my blog and how I have sadly neglected it. This post by Dianne Jacob especially made me ponder exactly why I have a blog and how I interact with the other blog people out there. It is my hobby, I'm not making money off of this, nor will I ever. And yet, it is in the public 'verse. How these two facts intersect with eatch other has many viewpoints and I am still processing these as to how they apply to me& mine. Dianne's book is a great resource for how to write about food-and how not to. So I am trying to not use passive voice when writing down recipe directions (which is hard!!), being clear in my instructions, and trying to be inventive in my word choice. Which means, of course, that now I am actually writing things out on paper first and editing! Now you understand fully why the inadverdant hiatus. My sister and I still cook for her dietary needs and I have been taking pictures so that I can post them. You know, eventually... There will be a lemon bar recipe posted soon, I promise-it was orginally from Iris who had Zoe help her convert it to sugar free, gluten free and dairy free dessert. She then issued a challenge to make it vegan, which in a lemon scented deliruim, I accepted! While moving. Yes I know, I too am shaking my head at this bit of lunacy. However, I think I did a pretty good job of converting the recipe itself (Leslie said wow!) but the posting pictures and updating everybody-not so much. But I will be strict! I will post the recipe with pictures this weekend! I have been working on other things too; a mashed potato recipe with hemp milk, coconut cream caramel, and vanilla cupcakes(still!). I have also been cooking up a storm with Amy's new cookbook and trying out recipes from Gluten Free Girl& the Chef that are dairy free or that we can make dairy free. I might post some of these or I might just post the changes I made. In one of the posts on Dianne Jacob's blog, they discussed proper etiquette when adapting a recipe and making sure credit is given. Now, I have always given credit to whomever's recipe I adapted, but it never occured to me that posting a recipe that had no need of adaptation is considered a huge oh-hell-no in many parts of the blogosphere, even when credit is given. I had no idea my little hobby would have rules (it's not baseball or baccarat for crying out loud!), but apparently now that more people than my mom& sister read my little hobby, is important for me to respect the populace that has so helped us. However, I am honestly curious, what are your thoughts are on this subject- how have you decided between posting an adapted recipe or just detailing your changes and linking to the original recipe?