Paleo Honey Almond Cacao Cake

So, this is where I normally insert some clever anecdote or cooking tip. I’ve been busy though, so between the choices of making an abridged post with no additional narrative or not making a post at all, well, this is what you get. Please, by all means, feel free to post a clever anecdote in the comments. 🙂

And with no further ado at all, here is a yummy recipe I made up yesterday…

IMG_6298Paleo Honey Almond Cacao Cake

  • 2 ½ c almond flour
  • ½ t sea salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 ½ t cinnamon
  • Surface dusting of freshly ground nutmeg (probably about 1/2 t)
  • ½ c honey (plus some for garnish)
  • ¼ c tahini
  • ¼ c coconut oil
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cacao nibs (plus some for garnish) OR Enjoy Life brand mini chocolate chips… I used nibs in the cake, and then garnished with mini chips
  • ½ c toasted diced almonds: toss almonds with 1 T honey and 1 T coconut oil and toast 2 additional minutes at 325 degrees, for garnish
  1. Grease an 8- or 9- inch round cake pan with coconut oil and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper that you have cut to the size of the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine honey, tahini, coconut oil, and eggs. You may have to whisk it a bit to get the tahini to incorporate, but that’s okay… you’re tough, right? (If you’re not, go ahead and use your food processor. Sigh.)
  4. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then stir in the cacao nibs.
  5. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake is nicely browned around the edges.
  6. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Obviously, you should remove the parchment paper at that point.
  7. Top the cake with honey toasted almonds, some additional cacao nibs, and then drizzle with a little additional honey. Enjoy!
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Apple-Carrot-Pumpkin Paleo Magic Muffins

So, goodness, I rambled on a bit in that last post of mine. I’m going to try to make this post more recipe, less chat. Well, okay, a little bit of chat, but hopefully not too much.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been exploring not only the basics of Paleo cooking, but also of Paleo baking. I’ve been beyond surprised at just how delicious these treats can be! Now, I’m not new to gluten-free baking: almost all the the desserts we make where I work are vegan and gluten free, and we make them well. Oh, yes, they’re delicious, and I have often enjoyed eating them with gusto… but (dessert snob that I am) they’re still noticeably butterless and gluten-free to me. So I was completely astonished when the Paleo baked goods that I made, which are not only gluten-free but also entirely grain-free, dairy free, and sweetened with nothing other than honey and/or maple syrup, turned out so good I didn’t feel like anything was lacking.

Take, for instance, these muffins, which I made yesterday:

Paleo_magic_muffins

These beauties are made with almond and coconut flours: they get their sweetness from the fruit and a bit of honey and their moistness from eggs, coconut milk, and pumpkin puree.

I haven’t tried this yet since, you know, I only developed this recipe yesterday, but I imagine that it could easily be made vegan-friendly by substituting vegan yogurt for the eggs and maple syrup for the honey… if any of my vegan followers give that a try, let me know how it turns out!

And although the muffins may look dense, the truth is that they are some of the moistest, most tender, and well-textured muffins that I’ve had. I will definitely be making this recipe again… possibly soon! They are a great way to end any meal, or to just have as a snack along with some fruit or veggies or a handful of nuts. And the best part is, my body feels happy and nourished after I indulge!

Baking with coconut flour can be a little strange to adjust to for people who are used to the proportions of regular flour: it kinda has magical moisure-absorbing qualities. Now, this recipe only uses a small amount of coconut flour, so this fact isn’t as apparent when making these muffins, but you all will definitely see some counter-intuitive baking proportions in some of my later recipes that will use more coconut flour and less almond flour than this recipe does. Here’s a handy chart that I saw on Pinterest that illustrates the different proportions required when substituting coconut flour for all-purpose grain-based flours:

using_coconut_flourWowza, right?! That’s some difference!

These also take longer to bake than wheat-based muffins, largely due to the high proportion of moisture used to account for the coconut flour. So, although these don’t take much time in which you’re actively shredding and mixing, there will be a lot of passive time when they’re in the oven, so make sure you have a good book around, or a friend with whom you can laugh and plan a peaceful revolution.

With all of that said, this recipe is pretty self-explanatory. Basically, all the same rules of baking apply for Paleo baking as for non-Paleo baking: the best texture will result if your ingredients are at room temperature, careful measuring makes a difference, and it’s important to pay attention during the last several minutes of baking time to ensure that you don’t over-bake them.

And, with no further ado, the recipe:

Apple-Carrot-Pumpkin Paleo Magic Muffins

  • 2-1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/3 c coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ t nutmeg (freshly grated is always preferable!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ½ c raisins
  • 1/3 c dried cranberries
  • 1/3 c dried cherries
  • 3 eggs (vegan alternative: coconut yogurt)
  • ½ c pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 c coconut milk
  • 1/3 c honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line two muffin tins with paper liners (Trust me, with Paleo baking, the little paper liners usually used for cupcakes make getting the muffins out of the pans a LOT easier. You could just grease the tins with a bit of coconut oil, but if you can easily get the liners, I suggest you do!)
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add carrot, apple, coconut and dried fruits and mix gently, but well.
  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.
  5. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and combine well.
  6. Portion the batter out into the muffin tins and bake for 40-45 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. You will know they’re done when a toothpick inserted into one of the muffins towards the center of the pan comes out clean.
  7. Cool muffins in the pan for 10 or 15 minutes, and then remove to a rack to finish cooling.
  8. Makes about 2 dozen muffins.

You-Won’t-Believe-They’re-Vegan Turtle Brownies

Okay, I have a confession to make: I’ve never been a huge fan of vegan baking. Oh, sure, I’ve done a lot of it, especially while living at the Zen Center, preparing foods for special events, or entertaining at home and wanting to provide a menu that is welcoming to all my friends. But I have never had much of a desire to actually eat vegan desserts or baked goods myself: in fact, I have often prepared a non-vegan version of most of the vegan desserts I’ve made so that I could enjoy the “real” version.

Because, you see, I love butter. And cream. And cheese. And some more butter, just in case. My attachment to dairy is the major sticking-point in my otherwise mindfully-healthy diet. (Well, okay, dairy and sweets.)

But now I am a cook at the almost-exclusively vegan and gluten-free deli at Lori’s Natural Foods: you can check out the deli’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lorisnaturaldeli. It seems prudent to become as deeply familiar with all of our food as possible: as a result, I have eaten more vegan desserts and baked goods in the last couple of weeks than ever before. And I have learned that I have been unfairly maligning vegan desserts all along.

And so it was that I went to my favorite used book store’s website, http://www.betterworldbooks.com/, and ordered a few new cookbooks. One of my selections was Sinfully Vegan by Lois Dieterly. The night after it was delivered, I flipped through the pages and salivated at the many delightful-sounding recipes contained therein.

Yesterday night, I gave the first of these recipes a try. I have posted it below almost exactly as it appears in the book (except for the title: Lois calls it “Heavenly Brownie Torte”), with only a few clarifications in the directions, because the recipe is pretty much flawless.

In fact, I must confess that these are probably the best brownies I have ever had in my life. They are so decadent, so rich, so moist, so delicious, that I wouldn’t change a thing about them. They are everything I have ever wanted from a brownie and more. The fact that they are vegan goes completely without notice to my taste buds. They are positively divine.

Because I am posting this recipe pretty much unaltered, I would like to counter the possible copyright infringement with a strong suggestion that you consider acquiring a copy of Sinfully Vegan to call your own. Given the resounding success of this recipe, I am looking forward to trying the other recipes in the book.

I have a handy square cake pan with a removable bottom that came very much in handy while assembling these brownies. If you have a similar pan, I suggest employing it on this recipe.

I do recommend preparing the different components for the brownies in the order that they are listed. You want to give the caramel sauce maximum time to cool (and thereby thicken) while you prepare the brownies.

And now, with no further ado…

You-Won’t-Believe-They’re-Vegan Turtle Brownies

The caramel sauce:

  • 1/3 c light corn syrup
  • 1/3 c dark brown sugar
  • 2 t alcohol-free vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3  1/2  T vegan milk (I suggest almond or coconut-almond)
  • 1 c whole pecans

The brownies:

  • 1  1/3 c sugar
  • 3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c plus 2 T almond milk
  • 2 t flax powder
  • 2 t alcohol-free vanilla extract
  • 1  1/3 c unbleached all-purpose flour (or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour)
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 c vegan chocolate chips

The chocolate candy topping:

  • 1/2 t alcohol-free vanilla extract
  • 1/2 vegan creamer (I suggest Silk brand)
  • 2 cups (12-oz.) vegan chocolate chips

Caramel Sauce:

  1. Place the corn syrup and brown sugar in a small, heavy-bottomed pan. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling. Simmer without stirring until it reaches the soft-ball stage (240 degrees F).
  2. Add the vanilla, salt, and milk, and stir just until combined thoroughly. Remove from heat.
  3. Allow the mixture to cool completely at room temperature: d not refrigerate before assembling the brownies.
  4. Reserve the pecans for assembling the torte.

Brownies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, cutting a slit down to corners to ensure a smooth fit.
  2. Stir together the sugar, applesauce, and 2 T of the almond milk in a medium-sized bowl. In a small cup, mix the flax powder with the remaining almond milk. Add to the applesauce mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. In another medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Whisk together to fully combine. Add the applesauce mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until combined (if using gluten-free flour, stir a bit longer, as you obviously don’t need to worry about over-processing the gluten). Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 40 minutes for chewy brownies or 45-47 minutes for more cakelike brownies.
  5. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing from the pan. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before assembling.

Before making the chocolate topping, begin to assemble the brownies:

  1. Place the completely cooled, unsliced brownie upside down on a wire rack placed atop a plate that has a diameter larger than that of the brownie.
  2. Gently pour the caramel sauce over the brownie, leaving about a 1/2-inch margin without caramel around the edge of the brownie. Reserve some of the caramel to drizzle on the plates when you serve the brownies.
  3. Place the pecans in an evenly-spaced pattern around the top of the brownie on the caramel, spacing them close together so that all the caramel is covered.
  4. Refrigerate to harden the caramel while you heat the chocolate.

Chocolate Candy Topping:

  1. Heat the vanilla and vegan creamer in a small pan over medium heat until hot but not boiling.
  2. Slowly stir in the chocolate chips. Stir until the chips are completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. While the mixture is hot, gently pour over the brownie, nuts, and caramel, being careful not to dislodge the nuts or caramel. Allow the excess chocolate to drip onto the plate under the brownie.
  4. When the brownie is completely covered with chocolate, place the plate, wire rack, and brownie in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens.
  5. Remove from the refrigerator and remove any hard drips of chocolate that formed when the chocolate ran off the brownie through the wire rack (kitchen shears work well for this). Carefully move the brownie from the wire rack and onto a serving platter.
  6. When serving, drizzle some of the reserved caramel on each individual serving plate and place a slice of the brownie on top.

Oatmeal Cake

Last month, my dear friend Anna and her husband Josh came over to my humble abode for dinner. This was a particular treat, because Anna is one of my best friends from college, but I hadn’t seen her since I graduated several years ago. Oh, sure, we keep up to date with each other through Facebook and occasional phone calls, but nothing beats face-to-face conversations. Plus, I hadn’t yet met her husband, which I was very much looking forward to getting to do.

They had been on the road for a while doing the holiday family visitation circuit: they were able to visit because Rochester is conveniently located between Syracuse, where Anna has family, and Pittsburgh, where she and Josh currently reside. Knowing that they had been away from home for a while and had been stuffed to the gills with restaurant food, I offered to make them a homemade meal, an offer which they gratefully accepted.

I made more recipes that I am going to post tonight, but the rundown of the meal was: tomato and fennel soup with vegan “sausage,” potato& rutabega au gratin, garlic bread, and oatmeal cake. Sure, a starch-heavy meal, but sometimes that’s just what sounds good in the dead of winter. It was all wonderfully delicious, and the conversation was lively and laughter-filled. I was delighted to discover that I liked her husband greatly, and that the tenderness between them was immediately obvious. And their dog was absolutely adorable.

I made a specific promise to Anna to send her the recipe for the cake, a promise that has until now gone unfulfilled. Anna sent me a very kind reminder earlier today, and I figured since I’ll be typing it up anyway, I might as well turn it into another post.

The downside of the time that has elapsed since our dinner is that I do not have a picture of the cake. However, this is a recipe I make fairly regularly, and I will be sure to upload a picture the next time I make this moist, flavorful pan of deliciousness.

This is yet another recipe that is adapted from The Joy of Cooking, which as you can tell from this post and the previous one is a book I refer to often. If you don’t have a copy, I strongly suggest picking up this classic cookbook the next time you’re at your neighborhood bookstore.

One gentle reminder: in order for the texture of the cake to turn out as good as possible, it is important that the ingredients be at room temperature (unless otherwise specified: good luck trying to get water to boil at room temperature!).

Also, you will notice that I do not suggest using parchment paper to line the baking pan, despite my previously-expressed fondness for the stuff. The thing is, the frosting for this cake is broiled, and the last thing you want to put under the broiler is paper. So, yeah, just this once, do NOT line the pan with parchment paper.

While many cakes are best the day they are baked, this is one cake that is actually better the next day. By all means, have a piece once the cake has cooled if you must, but I strongly suggest making sure a good amount gets saved for later. This is a trait that actually makes this an ideal dessert when entertaining, because it is optimal to prepare it ahead of time, making the day of the event that much saner and stress-free.

One more thing: there is a huge difference in the quality of flavor from freshly grated nutmeg and the pre-ground stuff you can get in a little plastic bottle. In my opinion, it is totally worth the initial investment to get whole nutmeg and a microplane on which to grate it. Feel free to disregard this suggestion and use the pre-ground nutmeg, but I can promise you it won’t be quite as good. 

Oatmeal Cake

The cake:

  • 1 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1-1/2 c boiling water
  • 1-1/3 c unbleached white whole wheat flour (King Arthur brand is commonly available at most grocery stores)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 t vanilla

The frosting:

  • 1 c raw turbinado sugar
  • 5 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 T heavy cream or half-and-half (or you can substitute Silk creamer)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 c shredded coconut
  • 1/3 c chopped nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ by 13″ baking pan. 
  2. Combine the oats and the boiling water in a bowl, and let stand for 20 minutes. 
  3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk to combine thoroughly. 
  4. Beat the butter and the sugars in a large mixing bowl on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (really, let it take that long: when you cream the butter and sugar together well, the cake will end up fluffier and happier. And everyone likes a happy cake.). 
  5. Beat the eggs into the butter and sugar, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. On slow speed, beat in the oat mixture. Then, beat in the flour mixture in three parts, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Scrape the batter in to the pan and spread evenly.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean: begin testing the cake after it has baked for 30 minutes, but it can take almost an hour. Make sure the toothpick comes out clean, but don’t overbake or allow the edges to burn.
  8. Let cool briefly in the pan while you pre-heat the broiler and make the frosting.

Frosting:

  • Combine all the ingredients. Spread on the slightly cooled cake and broil 3″-5″ below the heating element: check it after 3 minutes, and then check it every minute until the icing is bubbly all over the surface. Take care that it does not burn!
  • Cool before serving.

Legen-(wait for it)-dary Banana Bread

So, it has been a long time since my last post. Over a month. I am not going to bore or insult you with a long enumeration of reasons why this was, but trust me, I’ve been busy doing very worthwhile, necessary things. I apologize, and hope you will all be able to forgive me.

One of things I did was spend a week in Indiana, visiting various friends and family members. It was a precious and enjoyable trip: I feel as though I connected with my family on a deeper and more authentic level than ever before, and it was a complete joy. *cue the kittens and rainbows* *audience gagging from the overly sweet aftertaste of my sentimentality*

But seriously, it was that good. So, there.

Of the many people I spent time with while in the Hoosier state, there was one friend who I was particularly excited to see, Cherrie. You see, she and I were like soul-siblings for several years.

For example: nine years ago, when I got back from a month on the Appalachian Trail, her home was the first place I went to when I got back to Indiana. One of my favorite pictures of me of all time was taken that day. It shows me, sweaty and buff and clothed in dirty forest gear, lifting all three of her daughters at once: one on my back and one in each arm. My hair was dreadlocked, my knees were scuffed and scabbed, and I was smiling the dorkiest, most delighted smile you can imagine. She and her family were like home for me.

Then, sadly, Cherrie and I had a parting of the ways. It was over everything and nothing, and the long and short of it is that we didn’t speak for over 3 years. By the time our feelings had settled, our phone numbers and email addresses had changed, and both of us had moved. Sigh. Although I wanted to, I had no way to reach her.

That is, until we found each other in the virtual ether of Facebook. After the apologies, we exchanged messages, pleasantries and links in the way that all good Facebook friends do. Which was a perfect delight, except for the way that it made me miss her and her family even more than I had.

So, of course I made it a priority to spend some time with her while I was in the area. It was such a joy to sit down with Cherrie over a cup of coffee, talking about everything and nothing while her daughters and husband chatted, played, and watched television in the next room. We made dinner together, laughing and catching up on how our lives have shifted and changed.

One thing that particularly tickled me was the way they all remembered my banana bread. In fact, when I was on the phone with Cherrie, before I even got to their home, I could here the young voices in the background asking if I would be able to make banana bread while I was there. I knew that they always loved it, but I honestly didn’t expect that, years later, they’d still be raving about it.

Sadly, I didn’t have the time to make bread while I was there, but I made them a promise: upon my return to Rochester, I would make a few loaves of the banana bread recipe that they so fondly remembered and send it on to them. I also promised that my first blog post after my more-than-a-month-long hiatus would be the recipe.

I did as I promised, and sent two loaves on to them: I just got a call a few hours ago from Cherrie that the loaves arrived. She thanked me, we chatted a bit about the general stresses and joys of life, and when I finally hung up, I had a big smile on my face. It is truly one of the blessings of life to be able to share our gifts, talents, and food with loved ones.

So, now there’s nothing left to do but post the recipe.

Just so you know, this isn’t the world’s healthiest bread recipe: it actually exists somewhere on the border between bread and cake. But it is beyond delicious, and should be made and enjoyed often, despite the butter and sugar within.

If you do want to boost the nutritional value a bit, be sure to use a whole grain flour or oat flour, and add the optional nuts and dried fruits. You can also substitute 1/2 c wheat germ for 1/2 c of the flour. Even if you do none of these things, at least there’s a plethora of banana in the recipe to ensure that there are some vitamins and minerals to go along with the sweet indulgence.

This recipe has two ingredients that make it different than most other banana breads, and it is these two items that make it such a moist, memorable bread: yogurt and maple syrup. They are such simple, commonplace ingredients, but they do wonders towards improving the texture of the finished loaves.

One quick tip: I find that it really helps to grease the measuring cup lightly with canola oil when measuring viscous, sweet liquids such as maple syrup, honey and molasses. I mean, why waste the gooey sweetness because it’s stuck on the side of the measuring cup and all along your rubber spatula, when you could easily just pour it all in with no trouble?

Whenever you bake with bananas, you want them to be really ripe. Like, almost completely brown and kinda gross and slimy on the inside. Also, whenever you have some bananas that are going overripe but not the time to make bread, feel free to freeze them in an airtight baggie until you have the opportunity to bake. After all, why waste the most important ingredient of this delicious recipe??

Making this recipe takes some time, patience and attention: there are quite a few steps, and all of them are important. That’s why I make a big enough batch of batter to make several loaves at once: even if it’s too much bread, these loaves freeze well and can make some pretty transcendent french toast. And as long as you follow the directions and avoid over-baking it, it is guaranteed to be the most legendary banana bread you’ve ever had.

Legen-(wait for it)-dary Banana Bread

(Makes three 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 loaves)
(Have all ingredients at room temperature)

  •  4 1/2 c sifted flour (Yes, it really makes a difference if you don’t sift it. Just do it.)
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 c mashed ripe bananas 
  • 1/2 c plain yogurt
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1/2 c maple syrup
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 c chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 c chopped dried apricots or other dried fruit (optional)
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Combine the mashed bananas, yogurt, and vanilla. 
  3. Beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the maple syrup. Then, gradually add the sugars and lemon zest (if using): beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternately with the banana mixture in two parts, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the nuts and dried fruit, if using. 
  5. Scrape the batter into lightly greased bread pans. Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon or spatula. 
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out nearly clean, about 45 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time (unless you’re lucky enough to have a kickass convection oven, in which case you can skip this step and know that I am very, very jealous of you).
  7. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then gently slide a thin knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the loaves. Invert the pan to remove the bread from the pans. Allow to cool at least another 15 minutes before slicing.

Roasted Poblano Corn Muffins

Okay, so I decided that black bean soup (http://bit.ly/fimd0P) was a great idea… but that it would be an even better idea if it was served next to some cornmeal muffins. Argue with me if you dare: I’m pretty sure I’m right.

Unlike many baked items, the batter for corn muffins can be altered in any number of ways and still turn out perfectly. Feel free to fold in chopped veggies, bacon, or ham (be sure to cook these ingredients first!). When corn is back in season next summer, add some diced fresh corn. Add a teaspoon or two of diced fresh herbs, or (if you want your muffins to be particularly zesty) 2 t of chili powder and 1/2 t of cumin. And, of course, some grated cheese also works well in this recipe. For any of these variations, just substitute whatever addition(s) you’ve decided upon for the poblano pepper and fold them in during step 3.

However, I decided to keep it fairly simple tonight, since the black bean soup is already hearty and flavorful. So, I roasted one poblano pepper (for info on roasting peppers, visit my previous post on “Spinach, Mushroom, Kalamata and Roasted Pepper White Pizza,” http://bit.ly/ghDRsq).

One warning: this recipe makes a batter that is thinner than many muffin batters. Don’t worry. It will be okay. 🙂

All other hints and tips are worked right into the recipe. And that’s that: enjoy!

Roasted Poblano Corn Muffins

  • 1 1/4 c yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 c sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 heaping t salt
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 c milk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 roasted poblano pepper, diced
  1. Combine the dry ingredients with a whisk.
  2. Mix together the sour cream, milk, eggs and butter. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
  3. Fold in the poblano pepper.
  4. Portion into a greased muffin tin, filling approximately two-thirds full.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F until done, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Bread Pudding

Today, I am going to not one, but TWO Thanksgiving meals: one with a friend’s wonderful family, and one with the sangha at the Zen Center.

Seriously: there are so many things for which I am grateful.  Not only do I have the ability to cook, but I have the physical capability to do it (no small thing, when we’re humbly honest with ourselves), food to cook with, and so many incredible people with whom to break bread and share water.

Just for today, I am going to set aside my righteous indignation regarding the injustices in the world and my frustrations about the genocidal roots of the historical holiday, and just be grateful. After all, if even Noam Chomsky can take a day off (http://bitURL.net/auac), then I can too.

Each of the two meals is a potluck: after all, Thanksgiving is a lot saner when everyone chips in. I am going to make two Beet, Potato and Wild Mushroom Casseroles (http://bitURL.net/auae), the subject of one of my previous blog posts. I am also going to make the following recipe for Bread Pudding, just because.

This recipe is deceptive: for as layered and exquisite as the flavor is, it is surprisingly easy to make. It is also a great recipe to help prevent food waste: whenever I get a few too many bagels, or if a loaf of bread isn’t getting eaten as quickly as it usually does, I save them in the freezer rather than discarding them. Of course, it is important to wrap the bread well, so that it doesn’t get freezer-burnt, and to thaw it thoroughly before using. After thawing, go ahead and double-check the flavor, just to ascertain that there is no freezer-burn taste. It’s better to check now than to wish you had later.

Because I am taking this recipe to two different celebrations, I will be baking it in two separate pie pans instead of in a 13-by-9 inch baking pan. You, too, can choose to bake it in bread pans or a Bundt pan: just be sure to be EXTRA attentive to the cooking time if you do so, because it can change quite dramatically when differently-sized pans are used.

Bread Pudding

  • 1/2 cup (slightly heaping) golden raisins
  • 1/4 c amaretto (OR substitute 1 t almond extract and 3 T orange juice)
  • 4 T butter, melted
  • 12 oz. (approx. 4-5 cups, depending on the density of the baked goods) bread, bagels, or pastries, day-old
  • 1 qt. light cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 2/3 c sugar
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  1. Combine the raisins and the amaretto in a small saucepan. Heat just to a simmer, cover, and set aside.
  2. Use a portion of the butter to thoroughly coat a 13-by-9 inch baking pan or two 9-inch pie pans. Reserve the remaining butter.
  3. Tear the bread into chunks and place in a large bowl. Pour the cream over the bread and set aside until soft.
  4. Beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and thick. Add the vanilla, the remaining melted butter, and the raisins and amaretto.
  5. Toss the eegg mixture with the bread gently to blend. Pour into the pan(s) and bake at 350 degrees F until browned and almost set, approximately 45 minutes.
  6. Serve warm.