Just Rhubarb.

It’s rhubarb season!  And so I’ve gone and made some rhubarb treats.  They’re nothing original, but they are simple, tasty, and fresh from the garden!!!

The first was adapted from a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine.  It can be found here.  The original recipe calls for raspberries, but I left those out.  The other change I added was sprinkle the top with chopped almonds and raw sugar before baking.  This was a delicious and fresh sweet treat!

The second thing I made was very, very similar.  But individual, aaaaaaand gluten-free.  Though I’m not gluten-free, I have attempted to begin baking at times gluten-free.  I have found that gluten-free baked goods do NOT taste good raw….but once they are cooked, they are deeeee-licious!

I used a gluten-free pie crust recipe found on epicurious.  And then for the compote, just boiled down some rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, and citrus juice until it was thick.  Then made little pies from my imagination.  Let’s just call them mini, gluten-free, rustic, rhubarb tarts.  For a spring-time, Montana potluck, with local vanilla bean ice cream they were quite the hit!

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Carrots+Cookies=Carrot Cookies!

Yummmmm!!  I’m not gonna brag about how tasty these are.  Buuuuuuuuut, I’m going to, because they are!!!  Carrots, and cookies, and slightly sweet goodness!! Eat these up! And enjoy their health benefits (while getting your veggies)! 🙂

Here’s the recipe I came up with one bored, experimental day:

Carrot Cookies

1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 stick butter (softened)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
juice from 1/2  an orange
1 cup shredded carrots
2/3 cup raisins

Mix the dry ingredients (through the cinnamon) in a bowl. Stir well with a whisk.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, add the honey, vanilla, egg, orange juice, shredded carrots, and raisins.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.  Mix until no dry ingredients remain.

Drop by tablespoonfuls on a greased baking sheet.  Place in 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

ENJOYYYYY!!!


On Cupcakes

Cuuuuuuuupcaaaaaaaaaaaakes!

Who doesn’t love them?!?!

In the past few years there has been a huge influx of cupcake-only bakeries where those delectable, trendy, perfect little servings of cake with a perfect size dollop of frosting on top are the main feature behind pretty glass cases.  It’s almost like they are works of art waiting to be devoured by serious gourmands and Betty Crocker mix lovers alike.  Google the terms ‘cupcake bakery’ and it yields nearly 12 million results of places where cupcakes are the main feature.  This place in Portland, Oregon for example serves up such flavors as malt ball, pumpkin spice, and peanut butter cookie.  In Beverly Hills flavors such as chai latte, lemon coconut, cinnamon sugar, ginger lemon, mocha, and red velvet are featured at this place.  Not only has the craze taken to cupcake-only bakeries, but also exist thousands of websites and blogs devoted just to those who are fanatic about cupcakes.  Even SIGG has picked up on this recent craze, offering this in their new product line.

I mean, how could you not love cupcakes?  They come in all flavors and different sizes, and It’s your own perfect little size piece of cake!  I’m sure wherever you live, there is a cupcake bakery somewhere close.  Look it up and go buy a cupcake.  Right now!

These are some of my latest creations (though I do not claim to be a cupcake artist nor strive to create works of art like those in the cupcake bakeries, and my seriously gourmand sister would probably claim I have no idea how to make red velvet cupcakes).


That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles

It’s not very often food bloggers write a post about a failure – a recipe gone awry, a kitchen disaster of sorts.  But I am going to do it.  Go ahead, judge me, and my baking skills.  But I’m sure even the greatest of cooks had many failures before creating that perfect recipe.  And since lately I have been getting into creating my own recipes and adapting from others, this is one lesson learned.  So here it is. Okay so maybe it’s not thaaaaat bad. in fact it was quite good.  Just not perfect.

I attempted to make a chocolate-dipped lemon almond cookie (inspired by Cannelle et Vanille’s Lemon and Almond Meltaways), which also happens to be gluten free.  And for me there’s nothing more delectable than the combination of almond and chocolate (hence why I made them chocolate-dipped).  That’s where I think I went awry, an unexperienced gluten-free baker attempting to fuss over new recipes…what was I thinking!?  But I’m not going to lie – although these cookies still taste delicious, they wouldn’t pass any beauty contest nor texture contest.


Now, like I said, I’m no gluten-free baker, so perhaps AAANNNNNYYYYONE out there who knows anything about gluten-free baking would be so kind to enlighten me.  The problem with these cookies is that they were a little too dry and crumbly, and I think that may be due to the rice flour combined with the almond meal.  When attempted to be chocolate-dipped, they nearly fell apart, in the chocolate.  However, after they had cooled a bit in the fridge, they seemed a bit more substantial, but still dry when bit into.

I know it appears that half of these cookies have had a bite taken out of them.  Well, they haven’t, that’s just my baking mistake of crumbly cookies.   A few strong survivors made it….far enough from the oven to the chocolate to the plate to someone’s mouth.

So there you have it – I learned my lesson in gluten-free baking.

Inexperience of gluten-free baking+creating and adapting recipes=dry cookies.

I guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

I’m going to post the recipe anyway for those brave souls out there that want to try and alter it to make it a tiny bit better.  And like I said, they are quite delicious!  If I were to make these again (and I may one day to perfect them), I would just cut out all the gluten-free stuff and substitute regular flour (it’s not like I need gluten-free).  Perhaps this recipe also needed an egg??

Chocolate-dipped Lemon Almond Cookies

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
Zest of 2 large lemons
2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup very finely ground almonds
1 1/3 cups rice flour (more if needed)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup finely chopped, good quality chocolate
2 Tbsp butter

Cream together the butter, powdered sugar and lemon zest. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Mix well.  Place almonds in food processor and ground until a very fine powder. Combine all the dry ingredients (including the almonds) and add them to the mixer. Cream until all comes together to a semi-hard dough that no longer sticks to the bowl.  If not hard enough, add more rice flour.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of parchment and shape it into a log that is about 2 inches in diameter. Use the parchment to tighten the log and form a long cylinder.

Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours until firm.

Cut the log into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake at 350F for about 16-18 minutes until firm and not quite golden brown. Let them cool on the baking sheet.

Melt chocolate over a double broiler with butter, until smooth and creamy.  Dipped cooled cookies in chocolate halfway and place on parchment paper until hardened and cool.


Cinnamon Apple and Blackberry Upside-Down Buttermilk Cake

The best thing about living in Costa Rica is the abundance of fruit year-round. And in this zone, more so than in other parts of Costa Rica. Apples, peaches, plums, blackberries, avocados, tomatoes – you name it, they’re almost always available.

As I was out tromping around my property this morning, I came across a previously undiscovered blackberry bush, chock full of large, plump, juicy blackberries just waiting to be picked – screaming to be picked, in fact. And so I did. The thorns poked my hands and arms as I reached in deeper to get the hidden ones, and I came away with violet-stained fingers. But I didn’t mind. It was worth it.

On the way in I quickly grabbed a few ‘limón acidas‘ or limes to garnish a salad.

Earlier that morning I passed by my neighbors’ house who own Las Manzanas Cabins to purchase a bag of organic apples, some avocados, and some anonas all for only two dollars.

Upon returning home, it wasn’t too long before I was enjoying this cinnamon apple and blackberry upside down buttermilk cake.

Pure goodness with fresh, local ingredients.

Happy 2010 to you all! May many healthy meals come your way!

Cinnamon Apple and Blackberry Upside Down Cake

* 1 cup fresh blackberries
* 2-3 small apples, thinly sliced
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon mixture
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
* 1 large egg
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Line bottom of a buttered 8- by 2-inch round cake pan with 2 rounds of parchment paper, then butter parchment. Dust pan with some flour, knocking out excess.

Arrange blackberries and apples in 1 layer in cake pan. Sprinkle fruit with 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar/cinnamon mixture and shake pan to help distribute sugar.

Whisk together 1 cup flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and mix at low speed until just incorporated. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 batches, mixing at low speed until just incorporated.

Spoon batter evenly over berries, smoothing top, and bake in middle of oven until top is golden and a tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Run a thin knife around edge of pan, then invert a large plate over pan and, using pot holders to hold plate and pan together tightly, flip cake onto plate. Peel off parchment and serve cake warm and/or with ice cream.