Lemon Poppyseed Muffins: Sweetness and Light

December 1, 2014 - 11:23 am

Sometimes things work out so much better than expected. The muffins I made this weekend were one of those things:


It has been very cold for Seattle in November, and there was snow!

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Our home turned into a winter wonderland. I love being up here in the “treehouse.”

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I decided I wanted to make muffins for board gaming, and on a whim decided to try for lemon poppyseed. I love these, but it’s not something I’ve made for ages, and I’ve never developed a solid recipe. I’ve made a couple batches that were ok, but none of them were memorable. This time, I decided to riff from this recipe by Karen Butler. The result was delightful.

I am not one who believes in moderation when it comes to flavors, and these muffins fit my preferences. They hit your mouth with a “ka-WOW that’s lemony,” and the density of poppyseed adds a delightful crunch. I also halved the recommended sugar, so they aren’t terribly sweet. The bitter-tart flavor of the lemons is definitely strongest.

I see comments in the recipe on allrecipes.com about reducing the lemon-ness or reducing the poppyseed. By all means, if that’s your preference. But I assure you these were devoured by all the folks at gaming this week, with moans of delight and not much else going along with the nomming. Perhaps try them as-is and see what you think.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins


Preheat to 375 degrees. makes 24 servings

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 C corn flour
  • 1/2 C sorghum flour
  • 1/2 C tapioca starch
  • 2 t xanthan gum
  • 3/4 C white sugar 
  • 1/2 C poppy seeds 
  • 1 T plus 1 t baking powder 
  • 2 t baking soda 
  • 1 t salt 

wet ingredients:

  • 4 eggs 
  • 2 C yogurt 
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil 
  • 2 T grated lemon zest (zest from two large or three small lemons)


  • 2/3 cup lemon juice (juice from two large or three small lemons)
  • 3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare muffin tins. This made 12 large muffins, or would make 24 normal size ones if you prefer. I like using papers, and always give them a quick spray of canola oil so they don’t stick TOO well to the muffins.

Prepare a stand mixer with a whisk if you have one, or choose a large bowl to combine wet and dry ingredients.

Combine dry ingredients in another bowl, using a whisk to blend them thoroughly. This is extremely important in gluten free cooking, because the xanthan gum must be evenly distributed for things to come out well. If not it will create gummy lumps in an otherwise dry and fragile baked good- not at all the desired effect!

Crack eggs into mixer and blend on high to a froth. Add oil slowly, then add yogurt. Add the zest and blend on low- it will clump up on the beater and spatter the mix out of the bowl otherwise. (Just guess how I know this.)

Add the dry mix slowly with the mixer on low, and stir till just combined. The lemon zest and baking soda will start reacting immediately to make the batter fluffy; too much beating will collapse that and the muffins will be flat.

Gently spoon the batter into the muffin pan and pop it in the oven. 

Cook for about 20 minutes. I found the recipe got alarmingly brown on top while still being goopy in the center of the muffins, so I’m recommending 25 degrees cooler than the parent recipe. That means it may take a little longer to cook, but there will be less risk of scorching the tops.


WHILE IT’S COOKING prepare the sauce/glaze:

Combine lemon juice and sugar in a microwave safe container. I used a Pyrex measuring cup. The sugar won’t want to dissolve- that’s ok.

Place in the microwave on high for 30s. Stir. Repeat this, watching the sauce, until it starts to boil. TADA- lemon flavored Simple Syrup. 

Pull the muffins from the oven when done. Let cool about 5 minutes or until they can be handled, and move to a tray or plate(s) for saucing.

Use a skewer, chopstick, or some other pokey tool to make three or four holes in the top of each muffin.

Slowly spoon the simple syrup mixture (which will still be very hot and able to cause a nasty burn- be careful!) over the tops, trying to get the syrup into and onto the muffins rather than pooling on the plate(s). 

Let stand another 5 minutes. I know it’s hard, but some things are worth the wait. The sweetness and lemon juice need a chance to suffuse the muffins. Patience.


Ok, now try them, and tell me what you think!


Food Intolerance

May 13, 2013 - 3:55 pm

I have a recipe I’ve made and re-made for years. I found it originally for a birthday cake for my vegan foster daughter. The print-out was made on a dot-matrix printer with clean perf pages, if that tells the older folks something of when it was printed; I’m guessing 1995. It’s from a recipe posted to rec.food.recipes in 1991 by Eileen Kupstas. Wow, the Internet is forever.

Here is the original:

Chocolate Cake (adapted form Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Book)

  • 1-1/2 C sifted flour
  • 3 T cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 5 T cooking oil
  • 1 T vinegar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 C cold water

sized for 9×9 square pan

Mix dry ingredients. (This can be done in the baking pan itself.) Add wet ingredients and mix until nearly smooth. Bake at 350oF for 1/2 hour.

The cake is leavened by the baking soda and vinegar reacting. It may seem to be an odd way to bake a cake, but that’s how twinkies are made, and any number of other ready to eat pastries. It makes a dense devil’s food-like cake.

NOTE: stirring this batter too much causes the reaction to happen in the bowl instead of the oven and results in a flat cake, so “Mix until just combined” would be a better instruction than “Mix until nearly smooth.” Mixing the dry ingredients first is absolutely essential, as is the COLD water for the liquids.

My first notes double it.  Next notes half the sugar and double the cocoa powder. Then I have notes making it GF with 1.5C rice flour and 2T arrowroot, which was one of my first substitute flour blends.

I am revising it for a teacher of Zack’s who is intolerant or allergic to corn, wheat gluten, eggs, and dairy. She told the class she hasn’t had cake for something like 12 years, and we need to fix that. NEED, I say. She’s been an awesome teacher for Z for two years, and she should have cake!

The noted GF version of the recipe above would actually work just fine, but I want to update the flour blend. Rice flour can be gritty and dry, and arrowroot doesn’t really address the problem adequately. These days I generally use 1:1:1 corn flour : sorghum flour : tapioca starch when I try revising a non-GF recipe, but no corn allowed! So we’ll stick with part rice, but add the sorghum, which promotes a moister feel and nicer crumb, and tapioca, which is a lighter flour and tends to make a fluffier cake.

This is the recipe we’re going to try:

Cake for the Cakeless

  • 1 C rice flour
  • 1 C sorghum flour
  • 1 C tapioca flour
  • 12 T cocoa (close to 3/4 C)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 10 T cooking oil (close to 2/3 C)
  • 2 T vinegar
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 C cold water

Grease two 9×9 square pans with canola oil spray and dust with tapioca starch.

Bake for 1/2 hr. Cool well on wire racks.

We’re going to make it into a layer cake, adding a nutella-orange frosting:

Nutella frosting:

  • 1 C Nutella (or other chocolate hazelnut spread)
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 t orange oil
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • tapioca starch as needed to thicken ( about 2 T – 1/2 C, as needed)

Combine Nutella and oils in stand mixer, and beat with the paddle attachment until they are fluffy; at least 5 minutes.

Turn mixer down to slowest speed and add sugar slowly.

Turn mixer up to middle speed and beat until well combined and starting to fluff again.

Check to see if it has the right consistency; it will almost certainly be too soft to spread well.

Add 1 T tapioca starch at a time, mixing between additions, until it gets to a good spreading consistency.

Zack needs the recipe now so he can calculate the ingredients prices and know what to charge for the finished portions. It’s for a sale on June 5th, if I recall correctly. I’ll let you know how it comes out!

We’re making donuts!

May 12, 2013 - 10:00 am

Zack has gotten into the “Bakers Guild” at his school, and wants to make donuts to take to class tomorrow. We have made donuts before once from the Choux Pastry recipe, but Zack pointed out I never wrote up the Donut instructions.  So here they are!


Make one or more batches of the Choux Pastry recipe. Z is making a 4x batch- one for us and three for the school.


  • pastry bag with large piping tip
  • wax paper or parchment paper
  • scissors
  • large flat bottomed skillet or shallow pan
  • slotted spoon


  • Melting chocolate for chocolate donuts
  • Cinnamon sugar for cinnamon sugar donuts
  • Powdered sugar for sugared or glazed donuts
  • Oil for frying


Cut wax or parchment paper into 3-4″ squares, and pipe dough onto paper squares in small circles

Heat about an inch of oil in the flat bottomed pan.

Once oil is hot (test with a scrap of dough- it should bubble and brown when it hits the oil) slide the wax paper squares with dough into the oil.

As the donuts cook they will release from the paper, which can be used again for the next batch. It works well to have one person piping donuts and one person tending the oil.
Be sure each donut is turned at least once using the slotted spoon so both sides brown.

When donuts are golden brown remove to a draining rack or plate with paper towels to cool.
Once cool they can be flavored however you like.

For chocolate glazed:

Melt chocolate in a small heat safe dish in the microwave, stirring every 15 seconds until it is smooth.

Dip donut carefully into glaze without burning fingers! If the glaze starts to harden it can be microwaved again.

Set donuts on a wire rack or plate for the glaze to harden. Expect them to drip.

For cinnamon or powdered sugar:

Put a couple tablespoons of the desired flavor into a bag (small paper bags work best), and add several donuts.

Fold over the top leaving lots of air space. Hold the bag closed and shake until donuts are well covered.

For plain glazed:

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Put a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add water a tablespoon at a time and sir after each addition until it makes a thick but smooth slurry.

Dip donuts and set on a wire rack or plate for the glaze to harden. Expect them to drip.

Tuscan Kale and White Beans

March 14, 2013 - 2:22 pm

This is one of my favorite spring foods. I love it when the hardiest of the greens start leafing out in the spring.  There’s nothing like the flavor of the first flush of new Kale from roots that overwintered.  Yum.

It also barely counts as a recipe- it’s more a casual list of ingredients and an idea that can be thrown together into a nutritious meal in about half an hour, leaving time in brief spring evenings for a bit of outdoor time after dinner in the daylight.

It can be made more simply with a box of frozen spinach as the greens at other times of the year.  I don’t recommend this with late season greens; it doesn’t cook long enough to mitigate the toughness and bitterness the summer sun develops in the plants.

I’m generally lazy and use canned beans.  I’ve never been good at setting beans to soak the day before i want them. Fresh are tastier, though, if you’re more motivated and/or better organized than me. 🙂


  • Fresh Kale; I have two bundles today.
  • 1-2 cans White Beans (Cannellini or Navy work well)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 – 2 T chopped garlic
  • 1 – 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 T Italian Seasoning blend
  • optional: red pepper flakes to taste

Special Equipment:

You need to use a big pan. I have a pan that’s a cross between a skillet and a saucepan that’s perfect. I’ve made this in a large skillet, but I had to cook it down in stages.


Wash the kale, then strip the heavy middle stem out of each kale leaf and discard them. I hold the stem and slide my fingers towards the tip of the leaf, stripping off the green parts.

Heat the pan with the oil.

Add pepper until it starts to sizzle, then add garlic and stir around

When the garlic starts to brown turn the heat down to medium and add the greens. Cook them down until they begin to soften. I help this process along by covering them with a stockpot lid for a minute or two.

Once the greens have wilted, turn the heat back up and add the tomato sauce, paste, and Italian seasoning.

Add the beans.

Stir it all up, and cook it for another 10 minutes or so until the sauce thickens and the greens soften a bit more.

Sometimes I add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to the top when I serve it, or set the cheese out for others to garnish with if they wish.


Gluten Free Beet Cake, revisited

February 23, 2013 - 2:52 pm

We went to our friend Greg’s house for dinner last night, and made my GF Red Velvet Cake recipe to take with us. Which means we finally got pictures.


Did I mention the vanilla bean cream cheese icing?



French Onion Soup

November 24, 2012 - 4:24 pm

This year David was on call for Thanksgiving, so we’re delaying the bird roasting and trimmings until we have time to relax and enjoy cooking. We did want to have a nice meal, though, so we made a big batch of French onion soup. I looked at several recipes including Julia Child’s onion soup from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but in the end closed the books and did it my way. 

We generally stockpile bones from de-boning roasts and remains from lamb chops and other bony cuts in the freezer.  We keep two BIG freezer bags in the freezer, one for poultry bones and one for beef & lamb. When one of the bags is full, it’s time to make stock.

I’m not including explicit directions for making lamb stock.  This recipe from Marilou Suszko in Mother Earth Living seems most similar to my ingredients and prep after a cursory search on the internet, but because our stock is more or less always made from the leavings of other meal prep and bones that were left after meals, the ingredients vary from batch to batch.

In our stock there are always marrow bones, always a bit of raw meat. We’ve tried roasting the bones, and I personally don’t find that adds anything but time and fuss to the end result, so now we don’t bother. Sometimes we have organ meat, always carrots and onions and celery. Generally garlic, sometimes fragrant herbs, particularly rosemary and thyme. Usually pepper. I don’t generally add much, if any, salt, since the stock will be concentrated and it’s easy to make it overly salty.

Stock is a step in the process, not an end result, so I try not to add much in the way of seasonings besides the meat and the veggies. The rest of the flavor will be developed in the final recipe, and too much tampering with the stock can restrict its eventual use.

One thing I do differently from the cited recipe is simmer covered overnight on very low heat, then strain in the morning and reduce the resulting broth to about 1/4 the original volume.  This makes a very strong soup base that can be closer to a gel than a liquid.

Our stock is generally frozen straight out of the pot into two cup and one quart containers for later use. The French Onion Soup we made this year for Thanksgiving was made from three batches, and became three gallons of soup.


Note: I’m giving the recipe for about a gallon of soup. We made three times this much, so I’m fudging and working from memory, but soups are forgiving. I recommend using this as a stepping off place for your own soup experiment.


  • 2 quarts of stock
  • 1 bottle of chardonnay white wine
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp nutmeg, or grate one medium nut
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • salt to taste

Put the stock and wine in a big pot on medium heat, cover it, and start warming it. When it starts to simmer, turn heat down to keep it just barely bubbling.

Skin the paper off the onions and trim the ends, discarding the trimmings. Cut them in half from top to root, then finely slice each half so you end up with long, narrow strings of onion.

Melt butter and oil in a pan.  

Add the peppers, and cook til the butter browns, then add the onions.

Cook them over high heat until they start to soften.

Add remaining ingredients except the salt, then reduce the heat to low and cover.  Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, until the onions are extremely soft and starting to brown.

Add the onions to the soup and allow it to keep simmering on low for several hours.  We left ours overnight.

To serve:

The soup will get ladled into individual servings, have a slice of toast floated on each, which is covered in Gruyere cheese and then melted under a broiler.


  • 1/4 lb Gruyere cheese, grated or sliced
  • One slice of toast for each serving


  • Single serving oven safe bowls or ramekins
  • Cookie sheet to transfer bowls into and out of the oven (and catch melted cheese)

Turn on broiler.

Ladle soup into bowls and place them on cookie sheet.

Float a piece of toast on each, and cover with cheese.

Place under broiler until cheese begins to brown

Serve immediately.

Gluten Free Light and Fluffy Pancakes

April 28, 2012 - 9:06 am


Last week we were in Hawaii and went to a breakfast place with amazing looking big white fluffy pancakes. I adore my buckwheat buttermilk pancakes, and they are certainly fluffy, but they are more hearty than light. Those Hawaiian ones put me in the mood for something Softer and more neutral in flavor. I started with this:



  • 1/4 C sorghum flour
  • 1/4 C corn flour (masa)
  • 1/4 C sweet rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 t xanthan gum
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T baking powder


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 &1/2 C milk
  • 3 T plain Greek yogurt
  • a couple T butter for cooking

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk.

Beat eggs in a second bowl until fluffy.

Add milk and yogurt to eggs and beat until there’s a nice foam on top.

Add wet to dry and stir gently until just combined.

Let the batter sit for at least half an hour. This is important to get the flours (particularly the rice, which can be gritty) to absorb enough liquid to soften.

Melt butter in a skillet, spoon batter into pan, and spread gently with the back of a spoon. It will be too thick and fluffy to pour.

Turn heat down to low and cook until the edges are firm enough to flip, and cook second side.

Serve and enjoy!

Makes 2 – 3 servings of pancakes


Gluten Free Choux Pastry for Doughnuts and Cream Puffs

December 3, 2011 - 12:58 pm

I published a teaser for this some months ago when we made the first batch of cream puffs.  It’s taken a few tries- oh, ok, quite a few tries- to get this down to a simple and repeatable experience anyone in the house can make.

The biggest issue was a procedure problem with the starter recipe, which had us use a food processor instead of a stand mixer for the final mixing.  This inevitably ended with batter going into the center hole of the food processor and making an icky mess that was devilish to clean up.  In frustration we tried working the whole thing in the stand mixer, and it worked fine!  One less appliance to clean, and an icky mess averted.

The base recipe here is for something called a choux pastry.  It’s one of the oldest recipes for a pastry dough, dating back to 1840.  This pastry is the basis for many sweet pastries, including cream puffs, profiteroles, beignets, crueller style doughnuts, eclairs, and churros.

The dough itself isn’t sweet however, and can be used for many applications.  It can be wrapped around cheese to melt in the baking, used as buns for sandwiches of various sorts, and David has all sorts of ideas for savory applications.

Today I’m publishing the cream puff shells.  I’ll add the doughnuts in a day or so.


Recipe for Choux Pastry, baked into shells


  • Large baking sheet
  • Slipat mat or parchment paper
  • Stand mixer

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon sorghum flour
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Egg Mixture:

  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg white (or more, for 3/4 c.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Heated Wet Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons half n’ half


  • Preheat oven to 425ºF, and line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
  • Set up Stand Mixer with paddle or dough hook.  Leave standing ready with lid removed in a place convenient to the stove.


In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix well.

Break eggs into a measuring cup, adding whites until 3/4C egg, then whisk them.  Add baking powder, and whisk some more.  The egg will develop weird lumps; it’s supposed to do that.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter, water, half n’ half, sugar and salt over a medium-low flame until the butter has melted completely and the mixture has just come to a gentle boil.

Add the dry ingredients and stir, scraping bottom and sides, until the dough has collected into a single lump.

Immediately transfer dough to the stand mixer, and pulse for at least 20 seconds to cool.

Pour egg mixture slowly into the stand mixer while it’s running.  Continue blending until you have a thick, smooth sticky paste: a minute or so.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet; the recipe should make about 12.  Flatten and smooth the puffs into the shape you want.  Long and skinny for éclairs, or round for puffs.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425ºF, then lower oven temperature to 375ºF and bake for 10 minutes more.  NOTE: opening the door to the oven will cause the puffs to collapse.  Resist the temptation.

Makes 12 large cream puffs.


Gluten Free Pie Crust

November 18, 2011 - 12:31 pm

So it’s Thanksgiving next week.  For me and for a lot of people, Thanksgiving means two things: turkey and pie.  For the gluten free folks, pie is a problem.  But it doesn’t have to be; I have a fantastic pie crust recipe.  I haven’t changed a thing about this recipe since I found it the year I learned I needed to eat gluten free.  I’ve tried other recipes, but come back to this one.  It’s the best I’ve found.

The only thing I ever modify is to split the butter into half butter and half shortening for a flakier crust, since oils with different melting temps help make crust layers.  I’m sharing it the way I found it, though, with attribution.  I believe the original web site is long since defunct, but this recipe was a source of hope for me in a dark time.  I’m forever grateful.

This picture here is that recipe, with a butterscotch crumb apple pie in it, but it works for any sort of pie you like.  I’ve used it pre-baked and unbaked, for sweet and savory pies, and it’s never disappointed.  I have pre-made and frozen the dough, packed it in a suitcase, and rolled it out at my destination.




Pie Crust

  • 1/3 cup brown or white rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup (5 Tablespoon) butter
  • 1-½ Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Have eggs and butter cold for best results. Combine flours, starches, salt, xanthan gum, and sugar into a mixing bowl. Cut cold butter into slices and then work it into the flour mixture with hands or a pastry cutter until the dough feels slightly moist and begins to hold together.

Add the beaten egg and vinegar to the flour mixture and stir with a spoon or fork until it begins to stiffen. The dough will be quite soft at first but will firm up. As it firms up, form it into a ball and work it a little with your hands. Use a little tapioca flour if necessary to keep your hands from getting sticky.

Roll the dough out between two pieces of wax paper, turning and peeling off paper as necessary to smooth out wrinkles. Leave the paper on the pie dough to turn it. When it is ready for a pie pan, peel the top layer of paper off, hold the lightly greased pan over the dough, and slip your other hand under the bottom paper and dough. Lift it into the pan as you flip it all over.

Smooth the dough into the pan before removing the wax paper. Again peel it off; dont lift it off. Crimp edges as desired. Prick with a fork if a baked pie shell is desired and bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.

Double the ingredients for a two-crust pie. Dont attempt to fold the top pie crust. A two-crust pie will bake one hour or a bit longer.

This recipe comes from Lifeline, Summer 1996, pg. 5. It is Lily Mae Pattens recipe.



Pie Crust
•1/3 cup brown or white rice flour
•1 teaspoon xanthan gum
•1/3 cup tapioca flour
•1 Tablespoon sugar
•1/3 cup potato starch
•1/3 cup (5 Tablespoon) butter
•1-½ Tablespoon corn starch
•1 egg, beaten
•1/3 teaspoon salt
•½ to 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Have eggs and butter cold for best results. Combine flours, starches, salt, xanthan gum, and sugar into a mixing bowl. Cut cold butter into slices and then work it into the flour mixture with hands or a pastry cutter until the dough feels slightly moist and begins to hold together.
Add the beaten egg and vinegar to the flour mixture and stir with a spoon or fork until it begins to stiffen. The dough will be quite soft at first but will firm up. Is it firms up, form it into a ball and work it a little with your hands. Use a little tapioca flour if necessary to keep your hands from getting sticky.
Roll the dough out between two pieces of wax paper, turning and peeling off paper as necessary to smooth out wrinkles. Leave the paper on the pie dough to turn it. When it is ready for a pie pan, peel the top layer of paper off, hold the lightly greased pan over the dough, and slip your other hand under the bottom paper and dough. Lift it into the pan as you flip it all over.
Smooth the dough into the pan before removing the wax paper. Again peel it off; dont lift it off. Crimp edges as desired. Prick with a fork if a baked pie shell is desired and bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.
Double the ingredients for a two-crust pie. Dont attempt to fold the top pie crust. A two-crust pie will bake one hour or a bit longer.
This recipe comes from Lifeline, Summer 1996, pg. 5. It is Lily Mae Pattens recipe.

Gluten Free Blueberry Coffee Cake Recipe

October 30, 2011 - 12:28 pm

At the end of the summer, Zachary and I spent an afternoon at Heather’s house picking apples, plums and blackberries.  The plums and blackberries were frozen and the apples became apple sauce.

The apple sauce is long since consumed, and the plums are being saved for trifles in mid-winter when we need a taste of summer so badly.  I’ve been saving the blackberries as well, but today it was cold.  Cold cold cold.  And I wanted to taste summer, in a warm coffee cake.  I took a blueberry coffeecake recipe I’ve used in the past, subbed in blackberries, and this is what I got:

Blackberry Coffee Cake

Let’s look at that a bit more closely, shall we?

IMG 3905

When I cut into it, the berries oozed out and the crumb was perfect.  It was every bit as delicious as I imagined.

IMG 3911

Look at the crumb and the berries:

IMG 3910




  • 1/2 C sorghum flour
  • 1/2 C oat flour
  • 1/2 C arrowroot flour
  • 1/2 C corn flour
  • 1t xanthan gum
  • 2T buttermilk powder (optional)
  • 1/2 t salt


  • 2/3 C sucanat
  • 1/2 stick of softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 1/2 C berries

crumb topping:

  • 5 T cold butter, sliced
  • 1/2 C rice flour
  • 2/3 C brown sugar
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt

optional: powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8×8 square pan or bundt pan with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients.  Whisk together so they are well blended.

In a medium mixing bowl or stand mixer cream sucanat and butter for 3 – 4 minutes until light colored and fluffy.

Add egg and vanilla, and cream for 2 more minutes.

Add dry ingredients and mi on low to just combine.

Add half the milk in a steady stream, and mix on low to combine.  Continue adding small amounts and mixing until a thick batter is formed.  Turn up mixer speed and beat until fluffy.

Switch to the paddle attachment or use a large spoon to fold in the blackberries until they are well distributed.  Transfer batter to the prepared pan.

In a food processor or by hand mix the crumb topping ingredients.  This will be a lumpy mix; combine until the butter is well distributed in the dry ingredients.

If using a bundt pan, depress a trench in the middle of the dough and spoon the crumb topping into it.  It’s easier to remove the coffee cake if the crumb topping doesn’t contact the edges of the pan.  If using a square pan distribute the crumb evenly over the surface.

Bake for approximately 60 minutes, checking at 45 minutes and every 5 – 10 minutes after.  It can be hard to determine doneness because the berries will coat a knife.  If the center appears solid when the pan is shaken the cake is done.  If you are concerned, insert a knife in the center and gently pull back to look at the texture of the cake; you should see cake crumb and not batter.

Remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes, then turn the bundt pan out on a plate, or serve the square pan out in cubes.  Garnish with sifted powdered sugar, and enjoy!

Strawberry Shortcake

July 11, 2011 - 5:57 am


We harvested our first strawberries this past week, and wanted to make strawberry shortcake.  I’d never gone looking for a shortcake recipe before.  This came out with a texture between those cheesy cakes we used to get in the grocery store next to the strawberries and angel food cake, but so much better than either one!

Strawberry Shortcake

dry ingredients:

  • 1 C corn starch
  • 1/4 t xanthum gum
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

wet ingredients:

  • 1 C butter (one stick) slightly softened
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 and grease muffin tins.  I used tins that were shaped like small bundt cakes.

Combine dry ingredients, mix well, and set aside.  (not the sugar.)

Beat butter until fluffy.  I used a stand mixer, but a hand mixer would also work.

Add vanilla and sugar, and beat til fluffy again, starting with the mixer on low so you don’t make a mess.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until fluffy between each.  At the end the mixture may separate a little; this is ok.

Add the dry ingredients and … Yep!  You guessed it!  Beat til fluffy!!

Divide the batter between the cups.  It will be thick, but that won’t matter; they will cook into a nice shape even through they don’t start with a smooth surface.

Bake for about 15 minutes.  Less will give a softer, wetter texture, more will give a firmer, dryer consistency and a darker color.


I also made a cinnamon whipped topping while the cakes were cooking:

  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 C 2% milk
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 2 T powdered sugar

Beat cream until it starts to thicken.

Add milk, a little at a time, beating between additions, diluting the cream as mich as you can without making soup.  Depending on the cream and the milk and the day, you may not be able to use it all.

Add cinnamon and powdered sugar, and beat some more.

I plated it up, sprinkled with some shaved chocolate, and it was delicious!  Wonderful accompaniment to a game of Carcassonne!


Gluten free Buckwheat Pancakes

June 27, 2011 - 10:15 am


Gluten-Free Buttermilk Pancakes

(feeds about 4)


  • 1 C buckwheat
  • 1/2 C masa harina (fine ground corn flour)
  • 1/4 C sorghum flour
  • 2 T sucanat (brown sugar will work)
  • 2 T buttermilk powder (optional)
  • 1/4 t xanthan gum
  • 1.5 T baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 C milk (goats milk works fine, and water can be subbed for the dairy free.)
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 large or 2 small apples, or a cup of blueberries


Combine dry ingredients.

Beat eggs, then add milk & oil.

Combine dry & wet until fairly smooth, then leave it sit for at least 15, probably 20 minutes. The waiting is important, I promise, or they won’t be fluffy.

If you’re adding apples, peel them and slice it into very thin slices– as thin as you can.  If you’re adding blueberries wash them and set them close to where you’re cooking.

Stir up the batter after its rested.  If it seems thick, add water, a little at a time, until it is thick but will pour.

Heat a skillet and brown butter in it. Add a little cooking spray, maybe, to make sure the pan is coated with oil.

Drop some batter in the pan and smooth it out a little– it will be too thick to spread on its own.

If you wish, you can lay apple slices into the batter to mostly cover it, or scatter some blueberries over the top.

Cook pancake on medium heat until bubbles form and then break on the surface.

Flip the pancake and cook until done.

Serve and enjoy!

Note: If you have leftover batter, it will keep nicely in the fridge.

Cream Puffs

May 4, 2011 - 2:30 pm

I have just made gluten-free cream puff shells for the first time ever. This is a choux pastry, which is something I’ve never tried to make previously; apparently this is how eclairs and profiteroles are made as well.

I’m not sure I’ve ever baked something so beautiful. And I haven’t filled them with the chocolate pastry cream yet.


here, let’s zoom in:


Now don’t you want to come to knit night at my house tonight?

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

March 31, 2011 - 2:17 pm

Question to Zachary: “What should I make for brunch?”

Answer: “Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread!”

Question to David: “What would you like for dessert?”

Answer: “Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread!”

Question to Heather: “What would you like me to bake for the retreat at La Push?”

Answer: “Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread!”

It seems like there’s only one answer to any question I ask these days about baking.  This is the new universal favorite baked good in the house. Pumpkin pie’s spicy sweetness mixes with chocolate into a rich warm flavor.   The moist crumble of a perfect banana bread combines with a little bit of texture given by the chips and oat bran.  Delicious!

The best part for me is it’s also full of nutrition, with lots of pumpkin and oat bran, and very little sugar other than what the chips impart.  Sometimes I just sprinkle a few on the top without mixing them into the batter, and they are not missed.  It’s dairy free and gluten free.

I got the foundation for the recipe from gfreecuisine.com, but it’s morphed substantially from their base recipe.  And so without further ado, I give you:

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread


  • 3 loaf pans, 8 x 4 inches.  I recommend glass, because it will be easier to clean the melted chips.
  • Stand mixer recommended.

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 C pureed pumpkin, or canned pumpkin.  (Don’t get the pie mix! 🙂
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 1/3 or more C water, added at the end to make a good batter.
  • 4 large eggs, beaten well.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C oat bran or Scottish Oats for a bit more texture.
  • 1 C masa or corn flour (not corn meal)
  • 1 C tapioca flour or starch
  • 1 C sorghum flour
  • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 T pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 t nutmeg
  • 1 T xanthan gum
  • 1 & 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 & 1/2 t salt


  • 1 & 1/2 C chocolate chips; I prefer the miniature ones, and remember to look for dairy free, if needed.
  • 1/2 C nuts and or dried fruit, if you like them.  I do not.


Preheat oven to 350

Grease and flour the three loaf pans, using tapioca or corn flour.

In a stand mixer or large bowl, combine the wet ingredients and beat until smooth and somewhat frothy.  Adding air at this stage makes the bread fluffier.

In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk to thoroughly mix.  If you don’t mix well enough, the bread will have an uneven consistency.

Add the flour gradually while the stand mixer is going on its lowest speed, or in small batches if you are mixing by hand.  Stir until just combined, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.  The mixture should look like a heavy cake batter.  If it gets so thick that the bottom of the bowl is visible, add water as needed to smooth it out.  How much is needed varies with how wet the pumpkin is; use your judgement.  I have added as much as a cup and a half, and as little as 1/3 C.

Fold in most of the chocolate chips, nuts, or fruit, if adding.  Retain some to sprinkle on top of the loaves.

Divide the batter between the three pans, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  The center of the bread should stay firm when you shake the pan, not jiggle like jello.  You can also test for doneness by inserting a knife.  It may come back with melted chocolate chip, but shouldn’t have batter on it.

Turn out the loaves immediately, preferably on a wire rack.  Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.  This bread freezes well; I always freeze one or two of the loaves.


Candy Brandy Pears

March 26, 2011 - 9:02 am

This is right after the fruit went into the butter, before the oj was added.

This is one of my favorite desserts. The one I always want after a good meal. Just the right amount of sweetness, and warm, satisfying flavors.

Candy Brandy Pears


  • 3 – 4 pears sliced in half and cored
  • 3 – 4 T butter
  • 1 C orange juice
  • Spices; I use apple pie spice and a little ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and whatever else smells right
  • Optionally, brandy or other alcohol, to taste


Put the butter in a skillet large enough to place all of the pears face down in.

Brown butter.

Add pears, and sprinkle spices over them.

When the pears start to stick, add orange juice, 1/4 C at a time. Pour it over the pears to wash the spices into the butter.

As the liquid cooks off, keep adding the oj, and baste pears in the developing sauce regularly as they cook.

If the oj is gone and the pears are still not soft enough to eat with a spoon, start adding water in 1/4C amounts and continue basting until they soften.

Remove pears to plate, cut side up.

Add alcohol to complete the caramelization of the oj & spices into a sauce.  If you prefer not to add alcohol, a little water will also help lift any sticky bits.

Pour over pears, and serve immediately. Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream go well with this dessert.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

September 17, 2010 - 9:57 am

Oh, my, I just realized the cake has not been written up. I’ll need to get a photo the next time I bake it, but here’s the recipe.

EDIT 2/23/13: Pictures! 


This is *the* cake. Friends request it for special occasions. They discuss it among themselves and with other people in hushed voices. They rave about it, and marvel that it is so delicious.  Because, you see, the main ingredient is beets.

I went on a kick trying to make a traditional red velvet cake that was actually red without adding food coloring. I never quite succeeded, because I always want it too chocolatey.  I expect if I reduced the cocoa and used unprocessed (not “Dutch” or “Dutched”) cocoa I would get there.  But this is too good as is to really go mucking about.

The cocoa I use and recommend for this recipe is from World Spice Merchants here in Seattle, and is called Mayan Cocoa. It has chili and ginger and cinnamon and other stuff in it, and compliments the recipe enormously.

It is possible to use canned beets with this recipe.  I choose not to most of the time because I try to avoid the can whenever possible. Boiling down the beets takes a good long time, though, so when I want to make this on short notice I’ll generally use canned. Do what’s right for you.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 2/3 C cocoa
  • 2 & 1/2 C cooked mashed dark-colored beets (supplement with apple sauce if you end up with less)
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C sorghum flour
  • 1/2 C corn flour
  • 1/2 C tapioca flour
  • 1/4 C potato starch
  • 1 & 1/4 t xanthan gum
  • 1 & 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten

Chop the beets into small-ish pieces, and put into a food processor or blender until pureed.  Then dump out into a saucepan. Add a little water, initially, if the beets seem too dry at the start; you will boil it off at the end. Simmer covered over low heat for about 3 hours, or until the mix is the consistency of applesauce. Remove the lid and cook off some of the remaining liquid until you can see the bottom of the pot when stirring with a spatula. Allow to cool enough so that it won’t cook the eggs when added.

Preheat oven to 350. Coat two 9″ circular cake pans, or a 9×13 rectangular pan, with cooking spray and cornstarch or tapioca flour.

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer combine beets, cocoa, and vanilla until well mixed.

If you are using the recommended cocoa mix, put it through a spice grinder or coffee grinder, and then sift, so that all the little chunks of spices are chopped up fine or removed from the blend.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Add the dry ingredients to cocoa mixture, a little at a time. Blend in eggs. If the batter seems too thick, add enough water to make a good cake batter. Beat two minutes with an electric mixer.

Divide mix evenly between the pans. Spin the pans to spread batter up the sides– this prevents the cake from ending up domed on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from oven. Cool in the pan for a couple minutes or until the cake starts pulling away from the sides of the pan. Flip out onto a cooling rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting



  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
  • 2 – 3 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 C corn starch (maybe)
  • 1 T of vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1 t orange oil

This is going to sound like a lot of mixing, but really, trust me. Adding all the air by beating these FOREVER is what makes it good.

Cream the butter in the stand mixer with a paddle or with a hand beater for 2 minutes. Add half the cream cheese, 2 more minutes. Add the other half, 2 more minutes. Add the orange oil and vanilla bean paste, and, you guessed it, 2 more minutes. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Fold in the powdered sugar a little at a time, until the mixture thickens to the right consistency for a spreadable icing. If you get much past 2 C of sugar, you may find it works better to add a little corn starch to thicken it up the last bit. This is particularly a good idea in warmer weather, where butter cream frosting tends to melt on the cake. The corn starch helps it stand a little more heat.

Beat on high another minute.

Let stand at least 15 minutes or until the cake is COMPLETELY cool before frosting.

Waffles, reprise

February 6, 2010 - 1:23 pm

I had to try them again.And because I’m me, I had to try to make them better.  I used more or less the flour blend from Gluten Free Girl’s cinnamon rolls and this is what I got:

And this is how I made them:

Waffles, reprise

  • 1 oz almond flour
  • 1/2 oz tapioca flour
  • 1/2 oz corn flour
  • 1/2 oz white rice flour
  • 1/2 oz potato flour
  • 1 T sucanat
  • 1 T buttermilk powder
  • 1/4 t xanthan gum
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 C water

whisk together the dry ingredients, then add the wet and whisk to combine.  Cook until uniformly golden and crispy.

I’m makin’ waffles!

January 31, 2010 - 10:51 am

I woke up this morning to a kitchen disaster.  I’m usually the sort of cook who leaves the kitchen cleaner when I’m done than when I start cooking, so this is not something I’m used to dealing with.  Last night, though, since the chicken took SO LONG and Z & I wanted to get to the gaming night, I did the minimum job of putting away the leftovers, and left the pots and pans on the counter.  Of course, they were delightful this morning.

So after cleaning the kitchen, I wanted a simple breakfast.  I’ve been working on waffle recipes for a while, and I think I came up with a good one this morning.  One worth noting, anyway.  Most of the GF waffles I’ve tried come out either gritty or chewy, neither of which are what I want in a waffle.  I like them fluffy inside and crispy outside.  These were not *quite* as crispy as I would have liked.  I think the liquid was too much, and there might be a need for some extra fat in the batter.  But these will do.

GF Almond Waffles

  • 1/2 C almond flour
  • 1/2 C tapioca flour
  • 2 T sucanat
  • 1T buttermilk powder
  • 1/4 t xanthan gum
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 C water

whisk together the dry ingredients, then add the wet and whisk to combine.  Cook until uniformly golden and crispy.

I would half the sucanat and the water next time, and add 2T melted butter.

Rav love & Lasagna

January 29, 2010 - 6:22 pm

Goodness, people.  All the Ravelry love is going to go to my head!  I just published a preview of my Anam Cara Kilt Hose, and it’s being queued like mad and generating dozens of comments.  I have been turning away test knitters because I already accepted three, and got talked into 5 or 6, and decided I *really* had to cut it off there.  Thank you.  You’ve all made my week.  I’m so inspired!  The pattern will be out just as soon as I’m happy that it’s clear and in a clean draft.  I may have it up in beta late next week, and hope to have it finished by the end of the month.  I want to wait for someone to have knit through the whole thing besides me.

And that brings me to the other point of this post– Lasagna!  I have a lovely dish bubbling away in the oven, and thought I would write up the recipe.

No Boil Lasagna

I don’t know about you, but I hate boiling lasagna noodles.  Especially the rice noodles that I have to eat.  They rip and stick together and are generally, well, like wet noodles.  I learned a while ago that I could bake lasagna, and let the sauce and ingredients soften the noodles while they cook!  It’s a miracle.  I forget who taught me this trick, but it’s a good one.  So, with no further ado:

yum yum yum tomatoes and cheese YUM.


  • A box of lasagna noodles.  I love Tinkyada.
  • Two big 28 oz cans of your favorite crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 lb spinach
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 1/2 lb spicy italian sausage
  • 1.5 lb ground turkey
  • 3 T crushed garlic
  • 2 T italian seasoning plus a little for a garnish
  • 1 T white pepper
  • 2 C ricotta cheese
  • 1 C cottage cheese
  • 1/2 lb blended Italian cheese, or 1/4 lb mozzarella and 1/4 lb parmesan, or your favorite mix of cheeses
  • 1/4 lb parmesan or asiago for the top


Chop the onions into small (1/4 – 1/2″) squares.  Chop the spinach as well, into fork sized pieces.  I frequently use the pre-chopped frozen stuff, but I’m lazy that way.

Remove the casing from the Italian sausage, and brown thoroughly in a large sauce pan, chopping as you go.  Add the ground turkey, and brown that as well.  Lift from the pan with a slotted spoon, and set aside in a bowl, leaving the juice in the pan.

Add the onions to the pan, and cook until they are translucent and golden.  Add the spinach, and continue sauteing until they are thoroughly wilted and well mixed with the onions.  Remove to a bowl and set aside, leaving juice and even some onions and spinach in the pan.

Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste to the pan, and bring to a simmer.  Add garlic and italian seasoning.  Leave sauce at a low simmer.

Mix cheeses, other than what is reserved for the garnish, in a bowl with the white pepper.  Stir them together thoroughly.

You now have three bowls of stuff, and a simmering pot of sauce.

Preheat oven to 375°


Spoon a generous amount of sauce into the bottom of the pan– enough to easily cover the bottom.  Add a layer of noodles.  You will need at least three layers of noodles.  In my pan, I do three layers of three, and have three left over.

Spoon 1/2 or 1/3 (depending on if you want 3 or 4 layer lasagna) of the meat mixture over the noodles.  Spoon 1/2 or 1/3 of the veggies, and then 1/2 or 1/3 of the cheese.  Add another layer of noodles.

Repeat all of that: meat, veggies, cheese, noodles one or two times more, ending with noodles on top.

Pour the remaining sauce over the layers.  You may have too much to fit in the pan; if so it will be a lovely pasta sauce for another time.  Enjoy the leftovers!

Add the garnish cheese on top of the sauce, and add the garnishing Italian seasoning on top of that.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the cheese is brown and the sauce is bubbly.  I put an old baking sheet on the shelf below the pan, because that’s easier to clean than the bottom of my oven.  😉


Nummy Eggies

January 15, 2010 - 11:02 pm

We do a breakfast dish that’s known at home as “nummy eggies.” also mostly a breakfast souffle, and easy-peasy. Really not worth freezing because it’s so damned simple.

To make 4 eggies:

pre-heat oven to 450°. 475° is better than 425° here, kiddos, because you want these to cook FAST.

Mix together:

  • 1/3 C flour (or 1/3 C rice flour + 1T arrowroot for the gluten intolerant)
  • 1/3 C heavy cream*
  • 1/3 C sour cream*
  • 1/3 C milk
  • 4 eggs, or 1 egg + 7 egg whites to make it a bit less of a fat bomb

* You really do have to use full-fat cream and sour cream, or else they don’t rise

pre-heat 4 10oz ramekins in the oven with 1/4T butter in each one until the butter browns. Best to stand all 4 on a cookie sheet– contains drips and makes them easy to handle when they’re HOT.

pull them out of the oven, and CLOSE THE DOOR. Spray the inside of the cups quickly with a shot of canola oil spray, so the eggies don’t stick. Divide the batter between the 4 cups, swirl them around a little so that the batter coats the sides of the cups, and toss them back in. The swirling usually happens naturally as I’m navigating the tray into the oven, and makes for nice pretty crunchy bits on the edges of the eggies. Not strictly necessary, but recommended. 🙂


Wait 12-15 minutes, until you can smell the eggies browning. Then wait another minute. Then crack the oven to make sure they’ve risen and are sufficiently browned. This will make you want an oven with a window, if you don’t already. Kids LOVE watching the eggies rise– they grow out of the cups to about twice the height of the cups, generally. Serve immediately. They are easy to pop out of the cups with two forks. Be sure to soak the cups before putting them in the dishwasher, because the batter sticks like mad, but I let the pyrex cool on the stove before putting them in water.

We serve these in lots of ways. With powdered sugar and berries. With maple syrup. With cinnamon sugar, which I make using the raw crystal sugar, so that it’s a little crunchy. Most decadently I sometimes make a sauce of 1/2C orange marmalade and 1/2 C cream cheese, melted together.

They also make a nice pudding to serve with meat. 🙂

Magic Stew

- 10:21 pm

While I was uploading recipes, I thought I would add several more of the house classics.  This is one that I learned from a wiccan friend in the Bay many, many years ago.  I have no idea of the original derivation of the recipe, and I’ve cooked it literally hundreds of times, so it’s certainly morphed along the way.

It’s one that always gets that amazed look when people first taste it, frequently associated with groans of pleasure.  The house smells wonderful for days after I’ve cooked it.  I try to have some always as leftovers in the freezer.  This defines comfort food for me, especially when I’m feeling a bit under the weather.  Healthy never tasted so good.

In its original incarnation it was vegan, but when I started eating meat, I re-worked it as a beef stew.  I still frequently make the vegan version, however.

Magic Stew Recipe

First off, you’re going to need a big pot.  I have one of those ginormous pasta pots I use, and it’s frequently filled 3/4 full.  Add to the pot:

  • one can each of red, black, and white beans.   Add the liquid that the beans have been canned in as well, because most of the soluble fiber from the beans is in that liquid.  If you would prefer to start with fresh beans by all means, but I’m rarely organized enough to remember to soak mine the day before I want to make stew.
  • two large cans of tomato sauce, or crushed tomatoes
  • one each of white, yellow, and red onions, chopped to 1/2″ square-ish pieces
  • 2 C or more of chopped carrots, chopped to fork sized pieces
  • 2 C or more of celery, chopped like the carrots
  • in season I add yellow beets (washed, peeled, and sliced into 1/4 rounds, and quartered.)
  • sometimes I also add bell peppers in various colors, or whatever other veggies look like they want to be stew.
  • 1 lb spinach, pureed in a food processor
  • 2 T pureed basil- I use the stuff in the jar unless I have it fresh in the garden
  • 4 T chopped garlic
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 T parsley, or 3 T fresh chopped
  • 1 t sage, or a few fresh leaves
  • 1 T rosemary, or a similar amount fresh, chopped fine
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 T coriander (your guest will thank you for this.  It works like Bean-o.)

Once you get everything in the pot and simmering, it may be that you need to add some water to get all the veggies covered.  Do what seems right.  Sometimes I add 2-3 cups, sometimes none.

While the stew is simmering, take out  a large skillet if you’re using beef, or a small one if you’re making the vegan version.  You’re going to burn the peppers and paprika just a little, which makes them more flavorful.  This can be a bit dangerous at worst and unpleasant at best if it’s not done correctly, because you don’t want to breath in the smoke from the peppers.  Trust me.  Inhaling capsaicin- the chemical that makes your mouth catch on fire- can do real damage to your airway.  The stew will still be tasty if you chicken out and just dump the peppers into the pot, but it will be better if you burn them.  🙂

Prepare stew beef by trimming off the fat and cutting into 1/2″ cubes. Have on a plate next to the stove top.  If I’m using beef, I’ll add two or three pounds.

Put about 2-3T of olive oil in the skillet, and heat the pan until the oil spits if you flick drops of water into it.  Be careful with this trick though.  If you use too much water the oil will splatter you, and can burn you badly.  If you have a stove hood, turn it on high.


  • 3T of paprika
  • 2t of cayenne
  • 2t black pepper
  • 2t white pepper

Stir the spices into the oil, keep stirring constantly, and allow to heat until they start to darken and  JUST start to smoke.

IMMEDIATELY add the meat, or a couple ladles of stew to quench the skillet.

Brown the meat, or stir the spices around in the stew you added to the skillet until the spices have all been incorporated.

Add back into to the stew, and simmer until done!

This is a recipe that *really* improves after resting for a day or two and then getting reheated.  I serve it with cheese bread, or garlic toast, or sometimes ladled over garlic mashed potatoes.

Lamb Roast

- 12:39 pm

A friend just asked– ok, begged– for my lamb roast recipe. It’s very easy, and completely delicious.   When I ask Zack what he would like me to cook for dinner, lamb is always top of the list.  I’ll try to get a photo the next time I cook it. In the mean time, here are the directions:


  • boneless leg of lamb; this is sized for about a 4 lb one.
  • 3/4 C good quality mustard.  I like the kind with seeds.
  • 1/4 C crushed or chopped garlic.  I’m the lazy sort who buys the big jar.
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 – 3 T ground black pepper, depending on your taste
  • 3 – 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary about the length of your roast.
  • 1 C carrots, chopped
  • 1 C celery, chopped
  • 1/2 C onion, chopped
  • 1 C red wine
  • 1 T arrowroot powder


Preheat the oven to 450°

Make the marinade by combine the mustard, garlic, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl.

Prepare the roasting pan by tossing the carrots, onions, and celery together on the bottom.  These veggies will help season your gravy, and will keep the roast from burning and sticking on the bottom of the pan.

Most of these roasts as you find them in the grocery come rolled up in an elastic net tube.  This is great!  Roll it off the roast and set it aside; you will put the roast back in its tube when it’s been marinated, and the tube will hold the roast together for cooking.  If it didn’t come with a bag, or you have to cut it to get the roast out, you will need to use skewers or kitchen twine instead.

Examine the roast, and remove extra fat, to taste.  Leave some of the fat for flavor, but generally there are great gobs you can just pull off and discard.  I generally do this by hand without a knife, and leave anything I can’t remove easily.

Using about 1/3 of the marinade, coat the inside of the roast.

Lay the rosemary inside, and roll the roast back up around it.

Put the roast back in the bag, or tie it up, or skewer it back together.

Use the rest of the marinade to coat the outside of the roast.

Put the roast in the pan on top of the bed of carrots, onions, and celery, and pop it in the oven.

Cook for 10 minutes, then drop the temp to 350°.  Continue cooking until it’s done to your liking.  I advise a meat thermometer, and I cook mine to 125-130°. This is rather rare, which is how I like it.  The FDA recommends 140°.  To my taste, that’s medium well done.  I expect it to take about an hour, but start checking after 45 minutes, and sometimes it goes an hour and a half.

If you’re winging it, watch for dark juices to start collecting in the pan, and take the roast out.  Slice into the center of it, and see if it looks almost done.  The roast will continue to cook a bit after you take it out of the oven.

Turn off the oven, set the roast on a plate to rest, and scoop the veggies into a strainer over the roasting pan.  Allow the juices to drain back into the pan for a minute or two, pressing them with a spoon to encourage the juicing.

Some juices will have collected on the roast’s plate by now, so add that to the roasting pan as well.  Cut the netting off the roast and discard somewhere safe from pets.

Discard the veggies.  They have done their job.

Put the roasting pan onto the stove top, and set the burner to medium heat.  Use a spatula to scrape any crispy bits off if you can.  Let the juices start to simmer, and cook them down if there seems to be too much.

Once the juices are good and hot, and reduced if necessary, add the red wine.  It will bubble vigorously as the alcohol boils away, and help to remove anything left stuck on the pan.

Turn the heat down to low.

Add any remaining juices from the resting roast, and examine the gravy.  If it seems watery, remove a couple T, and mix it with the arrowroot until you have an even paste.  Spoon the paste a little at a time into the gravy and stir well between each addition.  Too much arrowroot will give you tasty jelly instead of gravy.  🙂

Turn off the stove top, and serve!

I like to make sour cream-garlic mashed potatoes and peas to accompany the roast, along with a tart jelly.  My favorite is a red currant, but I also like the Ikea lingonberry and have had a few others that worked well.  I don’t like mint jelly much, but many people do.

Working from home

February 23, 2009 - 8:36 pm

Zach is home sick with the flu. Poor miserable little boy, he is.  I have a couple important meetings, so I’m working from home rather than taking a sick day too.  I’m also a bit under the weather, but I’ll soldier through.

I decided what I needed to get the morning started right was a reprise of the oatmeal creme brulee from yesterday, except in an apple cinnamon flavor.  It was delish!

Here’s what I did:

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Creme Brulee equipment I used:

  • sauce pan with lid, small skillet and a small glass lid that will fit inside the skillet, rubber spatula, paring knife, kitchen torch

ingredients per serving:

  • 1/3 C steel cut oats
  • 1/3 C cream
  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into small cubes
  • 1 t apple pie spice, or season to taste
  • 1T butter
  • 1T brown sugar


  • Set water and cream to boil in the sauce pan.
  • Prep the apple.
  • Brown butter in skillet by heating it on medium high until it’s brown and stops spitting, which means the water has cooked out, and you’re down to the fat.  Add the spices, which will also hiss a little, and toss them in the butter, then immediately add the apples.  If you burn the butter you should start again.  Toss the apples in the butter until thoroughly coated, then push them into the center of the skillet and cover with the lid.  Turn the heat down to simmer/low.
  • By now the liquid in the sauce pan should be boiling.  Add the oats, replace the lid, and reduce the heat to medium/low, or whatever keeps it simmering happily without boiling over.

You now have about 10 minutes to wait until the next step.  I did some kitchen puttering, emptied the dishwasher and refilled it, cleaned the counters, made tea, etc.  🙂  It’s a good idea to use the spatula to swirl both the apples and the oats to make sure they’re not burning a couple times during this.  Use your nose- if it starts to smell something burning, stop with the puttering immediately and address the problem.  🙂

  • Remove the lids from the oats and the apples.  The apples should be tender now, and have a light sauce.  If there is a lot of moisture, cook them down slightly.  If not, just turn off the heat and set aside.
  • Stirring frequently, turn the heat up on the oatmeal.  Cook it until it has a custardy consistency, so the when you scrape the bottom of the pan it oozes back together rather than flowing.
  • Once it’s cooked, turn off heat.  Add the apples, reserving a bit for a garnish if you like.  Stir them together.
  • Pour into serving bowl(s).
  • Sprinkle brown sugar evenly across the surface, and use the torch to melt it.  Be patient, so that you don’t catch the sugar on fire.
  • Garnish, if you’d like.


So now I’m set up to work at hte dining room table today.  I have a perfectly good office, but on a chilly morning I sometimes prefer to spread out on the table with my laptops.  Here’s the obligate dorking picture:

working from home

Why two laptops?  I prefer generally to keep my distractions on one screen and my work on a different one.  The work laptop has my mail and office chat client and whatever project I’m working on open.  Today, it’s a lot of excel fun!  The home laptop is my web client and twitter client and personal chat client.  I just focus better this way.

Breakfast plans

February 22, 2009 - 8:35 pm

Decided to mention Charlie found a wonderful idea for breakfast: Creme Brulee oatmeal.  Here’s a beauty pic:

Here’s the recipe ganked from Eating Out Loud:

The recipe below makes four ramekins and which quite honestly could pass for dessert. It’s creamy and sweet with bursts of flavor from the berries.

Creme Brulee Oatmeal 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal 3 cups milk 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon pinch of salt berries of choice 1 tablespoon white sugar 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Normally, I cook my oatmeal in a pan on the stove and always use old-fashioned oatmeal (not the instant kind). I’ve heard you can use a rice cooker for oatmeal and decided try this method for cooking. To my rice cooker, I added the oatmeal, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. I set it to cook and walked away. Within 15-20 minutes, the cooker turned off and it was done.

It worked! The oatmeal was fully cooked and creamy. There was a slight crust on the bottom of the rice cooker bowl but it wasn’t too bad (hey, I didn’t have to stir anything so it was totally worth it). Depending on how thin or thick you like your oatmeal, you can adjust the amount of liquid. This version makes a semi-thick oatmeal which I prefer.

I filled each ramekin about half full, then added a few raspberries and blueberries to each one. I then covered with the remaining oatmeal and leveled off each one to create a flat surface on the top.

I allowed the ramekins to cool for 15 minutes then refrigerated until ready to use. Preheat your oven broiler (and make sure it’s ready to go before moving on to next step). Mix together the two sugars until combined, then divide evenly over the four ramekins. Put the ramekins on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler for about 1 minute or until sugar is melted and golden brown. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Top with a few extra berries and enjoy.

My oven failed me and my broiler didn’t turn on. I had already sprinkled my sugar and when I returned to them about 10 minutes later, the sugar had soaked into the oatmeal and it didn’t develop a nice crust. Fortunately, I still had another ramekin in the refrigerator so I attempted it one more time with success.

This oatmeal is so delicious. I like it better than the version I had at Catal. You’ll notice that I didn’t add any sugar to the oatmeal as it cooked. The sugar topping adds plenty of sweetness and the berries inside become soft and supple from the heat of the oatmeal. The milk, vanilla and cinnamon elevate the flavor and give it the taste of creme brulee without all of the calories and fat.