Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Prune Cake with Crumb Topping

Since moving to Tornado Alley, I have kept emergency supplies in one of the central closets of the house.  I go through them every spring, rotating nonperishables and batteries to keep them fresh.  Friends laugh at me, but it makes me feel better to be prepared for the "just in case".  Last week I did the annual rotation and came upon a tub of prunes.  I don't know what I was thinking, throwing prunes in with the emergency supplies.  Goodness knows the girls would not touch them even in case of  emergency.  So what do do with an excess of prunes?  Make prune cake, of course.  I modified Pioneer Woman's recipe here to be gluten free and vegan.  I topped it with a crumb topping and served it as coffeecake for breakfast.  It was delicious, so I promptly made some more.  We had prune cake for breakfast for two weeks in a row, and the girls are none the wiser.  In fact, they asked for more.  I've considered telling them exactly what it is but...I have concluded that what they don't know, they can't freak out over.  The subversive in me just loves being a mom.

 (This piece was made with a sorghum based all-purpose flour blend, although a rice based one would work well too.)

Prune Cake
1 cup prunes
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. cider vinegar plus enough dairy-free milk to equal 1/2 cup

1 1/2 cups GF flour blend
3 tbsp. flax meal
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon

Crumb Topping
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup dairy free, soy free margarine
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease one glass 8x11 inch baking dish with grapeseed oil, set aside.  

Prepare the crumb topping.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon with a fork until well blended.  Cut in the margarine until the mixture clumps together in the size of peas.  Set aside.

Put the prunes in a small saucepan and cover them with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 8 minutes, or until they are soft and mashable.  Drain and mash with a fork.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and grapeseed oil until smooth.   Add the applesauce and vanilla and stir to combine.  Add the cider vinegar milk and stir.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour through the cinnamon.  Pour the flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir to blend well.  Add the prunes and stir to combine.  Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly into the pan.  Evenly scatter the crumb topping over the batter.  Place the baking dish in the oven and bake 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool before cutting into squares to serve.

(This piece is made with a multi-grain flour blend - this was my favorite.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blackberry Apple Upside Down Cake

Spring break is here!  And it actually feels like spring!  I'm so exited about being able to take a breather that over the weekend I took a nap.  I never slow down enough to take a nap.  Thus recharged, I've been knocking things off my list, one by one.  Spring break usually finds me cleaning out and organizing the garage, which sounds really boring, but it's very cathartic for me to get a grip on the clutter.  I have also made time to bake, which is creative catharsis.  Today's selection is Blackberry Apple Upside Down cake.  I love upside down cakes, they are simple enough for a weekday after dinner treat, or even a special breakfast treat.  This recipe originally comes from Cooking Light, modified to be gluten free and vegan, of course!

Blackberry Apple Upside Down Cake

2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
3 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 pint fresh blackberries, rinsed and patted dry
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour Blend (sorghum or rice)
1 tbsp. flax meal
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper.  Spread 2 tbsp. coconut oil over the parchement paper and sprinkle with the brown sugar.  Top with blackberries and chopped apples, set aside.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour through the cinnamon, set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and 2 tbsp. coconut oil.  Add the applesauce, lemon juice and lemon extract until well blended.  Add the coconut milk and stir to combine.  Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir well.  Pour the batter over the blackberry topping, spreading to cover completely.

Bake the cake 35 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comesout clean.  Cool cake in the pan 5 minutes.  Loosen the edges of the cake with a knife.  Place a plate upside down on top of the cake pan, then flip  and invert the cake onto the plate.  Lift off the cake pan and peel off the parchment paper from the top of the cake.  Let cool completely before slicing into wedges to serve.

Monday, March 3, 2014

White Bean Soup with Kabocha Squash

Another winter storm, another day off school.  And so it goes.  It was 80 degrees on Saturday before it dropped to below freezing yesterday morning.  First the skies started spitting sleet, and then we got squalls of alternating heavy sleet and hail that made a lot of noise bouncing around outside.  We even got treated to some thunder sleet/hail.  In all, we got enough accumulation to cover the grass outside.  Of course the roads are all one sheet of ice.  Since yesterday afternoon, we have not heard any traffic on the roads, save for regular intervals of emergency sirens as they respond to accidents.  It is very quiet and very cold, the temperature dipping down to 15 degrees last night - a 60 degree swing from Saturday.  Our weather lately has been crazy, warm enough for shorts on the weekends and cold enough for wool during the week.  It's a wonder we are not all sick.

Thankfully I got all our shopping and errands done on Saturday, so yesterday I was in the kitchen cooking and baking all day.  On a cold day when you have the time and nowhere to be, this bean and squash soup really hits the spot.  Kabocha squash takes some time to prepare, but it is so worth it.  Its texture is a cross between pumpkin and sweet potato and its flavor is sweeter than both.  It tastes fabulous roasted all by itself but it is also great in any number of dishes, including curries, pilafs and soups.  Besides roasted plain as "fries", this soup is my favorite way to feature kabocha squash.  Serve this soup with Tomato Rosemary Muffins or French Bread for a hearty meal.

White Bean Soup with Kabocha Squash

1 pound dried white beans, soaked in cold water overnight
1 kabocha squash, 2 - 3 pounds
6 - 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 tbsp. lemon juice, if desired

After soaking the dried beans overnight, drain and rinse.  Place in a large pot and cover with water by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, simmer 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse again.  Return to the pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, skimming foam from the top as needed.  Turn down heat to a simmer and cook about 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender.  Drain and set aside.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the squash.  The way I like to do it is to cut the squash into four pieces, leaving the middle part with the seeds intact, like you'd cut an apple around its core.  Then place each of the squash pieces flat side down and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Then slice out the seeds and gunk from each slice with a knife (peeling the inside) and then turn your knife to peeling  the skin off the outer part.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place each squash piece flat on a baking sheet.  Brush squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Turn squash pieces over and repeat.  Bake about 20 minutes or until the squash slices start to brown on the bottom.  Turn the slices over and continue baking until fork tender.  Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle.

While the squash is cooking, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium - low heat in a dutch oven.  Add the onion, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften.  Turn down the heat to low and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a couple of minutes more.  Add 6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.

Puree about half the cooked beans with a cup or so of chicken or vegetable broth in a blender until smooth.  Add the pureed beans to the pot.  Add the remaining beans and enough broth to thicken the soup to your desired consistency.  Bring to a simmer.  Chop the cooked squash and add to the soup.  Simmer 10 minutes more.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding lemon juice if desired.  Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf and stir in the parsley.  Serve hot.