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creativecalligraphy

Spicy love

Wow, February has been busy in my house!  It's Valentine's Day already... can you believe that?!  Yikes!  Well, Valentines day seems to me to be about sweet treats and indulgence and expressing love with fun foods.  My kids are certainly not strangers to treats, but we definitely don't do refined sugar in the way that we used to.  Today I made cinnamon rolls my way and loved them! A couple things make my cinnamon rolls different from the massive cinnabon style buns.  First, my guys aren't sickly sweet.  They are citrus spiced and subtly sweetened with dates.  Oranges, whole, juicy oranges provide the liquid mass for this dough.  It's whole food goodness with no milk or oil fillers and fat to cloud the flavor of the ingredients.  The gluten free flours tend to lend an earthier quality than white wheat flour, but teff, sorghum and amaranth are among the earthier alternative flours out there.  These are not rolls that will leave you feeling gluttonous, rather, these are treats that are meant to be enjoyed as a component of a healthy breakfast... not as breakfast alone.  I'm talking about having one cinnamon roll alongside a fruit salad and a cup of tea.  The rolls are balanced... and that may be why I love them. Here are two variations on the same basic roll.  I've made this recipe with a few different flour combinations to show you how you can change things up to suit your taste and also to work with what's in your pantry.  The first is a roll roll, and is great with a meal or with a cup of tea.  The second is the cinnamon roll.  It is versatile and lightly sweet and also makes a great biscuit/cookie!
[caption id="attachment_238" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Spiced Orange Rolls"]Spiced Orange Rolls[/caption]   Spiced Orange Rolls Ingredients 1 Tbsp Yeast 3 cups Sorghum flour ¾  cup Teff flour ¼ cup Tapioca flour 2 Tbsp chai spice or 2 tsp Cardamom, ground 12-oz orange puree (from about 3 oranges) 1 tsp. Lecithin 4 dates, pitted ½ cup Water (use if needed to get a moist but not sticky dough) ½  cup Raisins Preheat oven to 345 degrees.  Put oranges and dates into the food processor and process until smooth.  [caption id="attachment_239" align="alignright" width="300" caption="orange and date blend"]orange and date blend[/caption] You’ll have a pulpy juice mixture and the dates should be well incorporated.  Keeping your raisins aside, add the remaining ingredients and pulse until a dough forms.  Add a bit of water as you go if your dough seems dry.  We don’t want a wet or sticky dough, but it shouldn’t be crumbly either. Let’s turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.  I used Sorghum flour since it’s lighter than the teff.  Put the raisins on top of the dough and knead them in.  Once they are relatively uniformly distributed pat the dough out into a rectangle that is about 12 inches long and 6 inches wide.  [caption id="attachment_240" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Spiced Orange Dough studded with Raisins"]Spiced Orange Dough[/caption] Using a knife, score the dough in half lengthwise and then make 6 cuts spanning the width so we have 12 equal pieces.  Take each piece and roll it into a ball in your hands, then make flatten the bottom for a cute roll shape.  Place your formed rolls onto a parchment lined baking sheet or onto preheated baking stones in the oven. [caption id="attachment_241" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="heading into the oven"]heading into the oven[/caption] Bake for about 25 minutes.   Cinnamon Orange Rolls Ingredients Filling 1 cup pecans 6 dates 1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon 1 tsp vanilla powder Dough 12-oz orange puree (from about 3 oranges) 4 dates, pitted 1 Tbsp Yeast 2 cups Amaranth flour 1 cup Arrowroot flour ½  cup Teff flour 1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon 1 Tbsp vanilla powder 1 tsp. Lecithin Equipment you’ll need: 2 bowls food processor rolling pin Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  First things first, we need to make the filling.  Dump all of the filling ingredients into the bowl of your food processor and pulse it until everything is combined and you've got a sticky paste.  Tip the mixture out into a bowl and give the food processor a quick swish with water so we can get going on the dough. [caption id="attachment_245" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="date nut filling"]date nut filling[/caption] Down to business: put your 3 oranges and 4 pitted dates into the food processor and process until smooth.  [caption id="attachment_242" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="We start with whole foods"]Oranges and dates[/caption] You’ll have a pulpy juice mixture and the dates should be well incorporated.  Add the remaining dough ingredients and pulse until a dough forms.  You will likely need to scrape the sides of your food processor several times during the process to ensure uniform mixing. [caption id="attachment_243" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="amaranth dough"]amaranth dough[/caption] Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  I used Amaranth flour since it’s the main flour in this dough.  Knead the dough a turn or two and then grab your rolling pin.  Make sure that your work surface is well floured or this dough will stick!  Roll out a rectangle about 24 inches long and 12 inches wide.   [caption id="attachment_244" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Even though it's a tender dough, it rolls out beautifully."]rolled out[/caption] Scoop the filling out its bowl and drop it in clumps down the center of the rolled out dough.  Using a spatula or flat knife spread out the filling until the surface of the dough is covered.  You will have a thin coating of the nut mixture. spread out the filling Now it’s time to roll this guy.  Starting at the long edge that is closest to you, begin to roll the dough.  Think jelly roll, think rolling a sleeping bag… we are rolling the dough over onto itself until it is one long rolled log.  Mission accomplished with the roll, so we’re going to use a serrated knife to slice 1.5 inch pieces of dough.  I ended up with 16 equal pieces.     [caption id="attachment_247" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="snug as a bug!"]cinnamon rolls[/caption] Place your sliced rolls in the pan of your choice.  They don’t rise very much so you need not leave a ton of room between them… in fact, you can pack them in like snug little bugs.  The only real prerequisite  is that you lightly oil your pan or line it with parchment. Bake for about 35 minutes. [caption id="attachment_248" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="fresh from the oven"]fresh from the oven[/caption]   Alternative: Slice the roll into cookie thickness, about ¼ inch thick and bake on a hot baking stone or parchment lined cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes.  Super, super crunchy and tasty treats.  Heck, make some into cinnamon rolls and some into cookies.  These are great with a cup of tea.

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creativecalligraphy

Pot Pie Perfection

Chicken pot pie was one of my favorite meals as a child.  My father made a tasty version… so did Stouffers!  We had both from time to time.  I remember the smell that filled the house when pot pie was on the dinner menu.  I remember being served individual size pies in all of their steaming glory and the sound that my fork made as I broke into the crust.  These memories were enough to make me want to share pot pie with my family.  I also like the idea of a kid friendly family meal that can use basically any veg I have on hand.  The sauce is what seals the deal on the kid friendly factor.  My kids like a creamy sauce, so I improvised and employed coconut crème concentrate.  You can use coconut milk or any milk of your choice.  Since we’re dairy free its coconut, almond or cashew milk for us when we’re looking for creamy!  Recreating pot pie with my twists means that we’re not using chicken.  We’re not talking about using fancy fake meats here either.  You can if you want, but I don’t think you’ll miss anything if you don’t.  If you want a toothsome bite try adding a few cups of shitake mushrooms that you’re just going to chunk rather than dice. Good gluten free crust isn’t a hard thing.  Actually, gluten free vegan crust is a real cinch.  Not what you’d expect since gluten crusts are a royal pain in the you know what!  But I wouldn’t lie to you.  The crust I made tonight incorporates teff flour for a hearty, almost whole wheat flavor.  What you’re going to get when all is said and done is a nice crust that is a bit flaky.  It’s a crust that will crack when you whack it with the back of your fork and that’s a satisfying thing.  Almost more satifying is the simple fact that this crust will take you about 2 minutes to pull together.  Yupper! Drop me a comment when you try this for yourself.  Remember to adapt the veg to your liking.  If you feed meat eaters you can always add in a cup of diced whatever once the sauce is done.  Mushrooms, quorn or beans would also be fine add-ins. Vegetables 1 onion, diced, about 1 cup 4 carrots, diced, about 2 cups 1 bunch organic celery, sliced or diced, about 2 cups 1 tsp olive oil 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced ½ lb corn kernels, fresh or frozen ½ lb green peas, fresh or frozen (not canned… canned peas are criminal!) Sauce 4 cups water, hot 4 Tbsp broth powder ½ cup tapioca starch in ½ cup water 4 Tbsp coconut milk (or coconut crème if possible) Several grinds of pepper Crust 1 cup GF flour blend (I use Bob’s Red Mill but you can use your favorite) ½ cup teff flour ½ tsp xanthan gum 3 Tbsp vegan margarine (like Earth Balance) ½ cup cold water Turn on your oven and get the thing headed to 425 degrees. We’re going to start by prepping our veg, so dice the onion, carrots and celery and mince the garlic.  Heat your olive oil over medium high heat in a large sauté pan.  Throw in the onion, carrots and celery and stir them up to coat with the oil.  It’s important to move the veg around every few minutes so nothing burns.  We’re looking for the onions to soften, lose their edgy bite and gain a hint of golden color.  The celery and carrots are in the pot to soften a hint but not turn to mush.  After 6 minutes stir in your garlic and let it sauté with the other veg.  Top to bottom on this step, 8 minutes.  Spoon the cooked veg into a bowl and set aside. Okay, add 4 cups of hot water to the sauté pan that the veg came out of.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate any browned bits.  Sprinkle your broth powder over the water and whisk it in until it’s well incorporated.  If you have homemade vegetable stock or another prepared broth you can substitute it.  While the broth is coming up to a simmer let’s prep our thickener.  Put the tapioca starch into a small bowl and pour ½ cup of cold water over it.  Stir or whisk until the starch dissolves in the water.  Set this bowl aside until your broth is boiling.  When you see your broth boiling go ahead and grab your whisk and begin to whisk the broth as you pour in the starch water.  The broth will sauce with lots of vegthicken quickly.  As soon as it does take it off the heat.  Tapioca starch is great, but it will lose its hold if you boil it for too long.  Add the coconut milk and stir it into the hot mixture.  If you have coconut crème concentrate I recommend using it because you’ll end up with a creamier sauce. Take those cooked veg that you set aside earlier and mix them into the sauce.  Last step in the prep is to toss in the corn and peas and stir to combine. Time to work on the crust.  A stand mixer makes quick work of this step, so let’s dust yours off and bang it out!  Gluten free crust is much easier to manage than gluten crusts, in my opinion.  You’ll see why in a minute… I mean that!  Add all of the ingredients into the mixer, hook in your paddle attachment and lock everything down.  Set your paddle on low speed for a few seconds to work in the Earth balance and then increase the speed for about a minute.  You’ll watch the mixture change from something dry to something crumbly and then something that looks like a regular old dough.  If whats in your mixer is too dry add a tablespoon of water and mix again.  If your mixture is too wet add a tablespoon or two of teff.  Your dough won’t be sticky or dry… it will be perfect!finished teff dough Lightly flour your work surface with rice flour or teff flour.  Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick.  If you are making one big pot pie then roll the dough out to your pan dimensions.  If you are making individual pot pies just cut the dough into circles to fit your ramekins. I made individual pot pies in 1 cup ramekins.  If you’re following my lead go on and spoon about ¾ cup of veg/sauce into each ramekin and top with a round of dough.  You’re going to bake the little guys off for about 18 minutes or until the crust is firm.  I’ll say that I didn’t notice any browning, but the dough is dark due to the teff.  Give the tops a tap and when they’re firm and sound dry you’re ready to take them out.  Making one big pan?  Okay.  Spoon the filling into the baking dish of your choice and top it with the dough.  This guy will go into the oven for anywhere between 25 and 40 minutes depending on the size of your baking dish.  Again, your rule of thumb for when its done is going to be tapping it. ready for the ovenhot out of the oven Whatever size you make, let it cool for a few minutes before serving. If you have leftover dough you can make empanadas or turnovers or just bake extra rounds and eat them with hummus  or use them as a pizza crust base. extra dough

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creativecalligraphy

Teff Pancakes

A thing of beautyGood gluten free vegan pancakes are elusive.  It’s no lie.  There have been many Sunday mornings when I’ve thought that my griddle full of golden circles would be more than impressive… would be perfect and tender and scrumptious and no one at the table would give me the look that I’ve come to expect from this sort of experiment.  Perhaps you know the look. It’s a cross between sorrow and sympathy with a solid dash of compassion thrown in.  Accompanying the look is the pity nod and the whole thing usually comes together with a slight “ummm” sound while one of the first few bites is being actively chewed.  It’s not that most gluten free pancakes are horrible it’s that they’re different.  And different, despite what your momma told you, ain’t always good!  Something as iconic as a full stack of pancakes drizzled in New England Maple Syrup is a challenge to pull off in GFV form.  But I think I’ve finally got a contender!  Full StackFluffy texture with air pockets Teff Pancakes (makes 36 5 inch pancakes) 2 cups gluten free flour blend (try Bob’s Red Mill or use your own blend) ¾ cup white rice flour ¾ cup teff flour (Bob’s Red Mill) 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed 2 Tbsp baking powder 2 Tbsp lemon juice or 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 5 cups coconut milk 1 cup coconut milk, almond milk or water (this will be used to thin the batter if needed) 10 pitted medool dates Getting started: If you’re using a griddle, start preheating it now.  If you’re using a sauté pan you will put it on the heat after we’ve made the batter. Making the batter: Put all of the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Put your wet ingredients into a bowl and set aside for a few minutes.  The lemon juice or vinegar will slightly curdle the coconut milk.  We want this to happen.  We want the bit of sour that will be reminiscent of buttermilk.  We want the tenderness that the acid will impart when the batter is mixed.  Don’t be afraid… Take your pitted dates and about 1 cup of the coconut milk and whiz in your Vitamix or other blender until the date is blitzed and no bits remain.  If you don’t have a blender that is capable of doing this you can try using a food processor and pulverizing the dates with some of the dry mix.  If you have neither piece of equipment you can grind the date into a paste using a mortar and pestle or resort to ¼ cup of honey or sugar instead of the dates. Pour the 1 cup of coconut date milk back into your dry ingredient bowl.  With a wooden spoon, stir the milk and flours together.  Add one cup of coconut milk at a time now, stirring and combining the wet and dry ingredients.  If your mix is too thick when you’ve added the 5th cup of coconut milk consider adding ½ cup of the extra liquid of your choice until you get a thickish batter that’s stiff but not stiff enough to hold up your wooden spoon. Making magic: Make sure that your cooking surface is hot and well oiled.  Because I used coconut milk in this recipe I decided to use coconut oil on my griddle.  You should use your favorite mild oil. Ladle out 1/3 cup portions of batter onto your hot griddle and wait for bbubblesubbles to form, burst and leave open holes in the top surface, usually about 2-3 minutes.  The edges of your pancakes will start to look a little dry.  Flip and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes.  Your pancakes should be a dark golden brown because of the teff.  These are not as light as traditional wheat pancakes.  When you test one you should notice a fluffy center that is not gluey or mushy.  If yours is either you haven’t cooked the pancake long enough or you added too much liquid.  on the hot top Serve: Serve hot with maple syrup and fresh berries. Note:  This makes a large batch of pancakes.  3 of us were eating these pancakes and we each had 2 pancakes along with a fruit salad and sunshine smoothie shot (carrot, orange, pineapple whizzed in Vitamix).  We had 30 leftover.  I froze 12 and put the remaining 18 in the fridge.  The ones we had as leftovers from the fridge were a bit dry compared to when they were fresh.  For the best flavor and texture consider making a half batch so you are eating the majority of these fresh.  While leftover pancakes are uber convenient they were not as good as the fresh hot goodies!

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