Miz Chef

Food Is Sexy—Therefore, I Cook


Leave a comment

Sweet Potato Flour Scones

IMG_3807

For those of you who don’t know, I took all my own photos for Vegetarian Italian: Traditions, volumes 1 and 2 (volume 1 is available now from all online retailers, and volume 2 is due out some time next year). I am taking photos for my upcoming cookbooks as well. What this means for me is that I’m in a constant testing/shooting mode. Which in turn means that I don’t often have a chance to cook just for the pleasure of it or to randomly experiment. Between a full-time job, my fiction writing, and my cooking/writing, I just don’t have the time.VegItalCover FINAL_Page_1

Lately, though, I’ve been in a bit of a slump in my fiction writing, so I’ve been able to devote a little bit more time to my cooking/writing. The following recipe is one result.

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I go out all the time to the specialty and ethnic markets near where I work and buy something new to try. The Asian markets have sweet potato flour, which I’d never seen before, so I picked up a bag and finally got to use it. It’s great for gluten-free baking, and I decided to try out a scone. I started with a standard gluten-free flour combination and incorporated the sweet potato flour. It turned out very well.IMG_3792

You can alter the recipe any way you like. I prefer dried cranberries, blueberries, or other dried fruit, but if you prefer to go traditional and stick with raisins, go right ahead. For added moisture, you can soak the fruit for an hour or so before adding them to the batter. Or omit them altogether. You can add nuts or change the flavor profile by adding orange or lemon zest, or your favorite flavor extract. And if you like scones on the sweeter side, add a bit more sugar.

Gluten-free scones tend to dry out faster than regular scones, so they’re best eaten fresh. Store leftovers in a plastic bag at room temperature for the first couple of days (unless it’s very hot and humid, then put it in the refrigerator). If you have any longer than that, then put it in the refrigerator. You can freeze it up to 3 months as well. I shaped mine flat to mimic some of “gourmet” scones I’ve seen, but it actually might come out better if you mound it in the traditional dome shape.

As much as I love warm scones, gluten-free baked goods tend to have a weaker structure and often crumble easily. This is one of those, so it’s best if you let it cool completely before cutting into it. But if you want it warm, go ahead and dig in right away, just be aware that it will crumble. But, then, you may like that! Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Flour Scones

Makes one 9-inch round scone.

1 cup sweet potato flour
1 cup rice flour
½ cup almond flour
¼ cup tapioca starch
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon maple crystals

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sweet potato flour, rice flour, almond flour, tapioca starch, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.

IMG_3793

Cut the butter into little pieces and add to bowl. Using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers, blend the butter into the flour until you have coarse crumbs.

IMG_3794

Stir in cranberries. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk and add the rest to the bowl, along with the egg and honey.

IMG_3799

Gently combine just until all dry ingredients are moistened and you have a soft dough.

IMG_3800

Transfer to the baking sheet and shape it into a round loaf. Brush with some of the reserved buttermilk and sprinkle maple crystals on top. Score the top with a knife (optional).

IMG_3803Bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 375 and bake another 15 minutes, or until golden brown and top feels firm (but not hard!). Transfer with parchment to a rack and let cool completely.

IMG_3814


3 Comments

Apple Corn Muffins

You know me—always picking up some odd thing or another in the plethora of ethnic markets throughout New York City.IMG_2510

This time, it was canned apples in sugar syrup from my favorite Indian market in Jackson Heights, Queens. Normally, I don’t buy canned fruit, much less anything in sugar syrup. But it just caught my attention on the shelf and I was curious about what they tasted like and what their appeal was. So, I bought a can.

Okay, now I know that it states right there on the can that they’re packed in sugar syrup. But I was not prepared for the cloying sweetness that almost put me into a diabetic coma. Yowza.

So, this is what I did. I drained the apples from the syrup and threw together a quick cornbread mix and made muffins. I found that the cornbread balanced out some of that sweetness. Keep the syrup for another recipe (for example, poke holes in a cake and pour the syrup over the top, or strain it and use it for a cocktail).IMG_2512

Here’s my recipe. It’s really easy and quick and a great way to use those canned apples that everyone has lying around. I mean, don’t you have them in your pantry?

Do not add sugar to the cornbread mix—it will make the muffins over-the-top sweet. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!IMG_2522

Apple Corn Muffins

1 cup fine cornmeal
¼ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt ¼ cup milk
1 egg
1 container apples in syrup, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 6-cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk together.

IMG_2513

Add milk and egg and whisk in. Fold in apples just until all apples incorporated.

IMG_2514IMG_2515

Divide batter into cups of muffin tin.

IMG_2516

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes; turn out onto wire rack.

Makes 6 muffins.IMG_2523

 

 

 


Leave a comment

Chocolate Cake with Avocado Mousse

This week, I wanted to offer my recipe for Chocolate Cake with Avocado Mousse. It received raves when I made it and I’m finally getting around to posting it.

The first ingredients is a chocolate sheet cake. You can certainly make it from scratch, but if you’re pressed for time, you can go and buy one from the store.

Rich chocolate cake paired with a zesty avocado mousse makes a luscious sweet-tart flavor combo. The white chocolate chips give it a gratifying chewy element without competing with the cake. Besides, with antioxidants in chocolate and omega-3 fatty acids in avocado, who can argue that this is a decadent dessert with health benefits? And it’s vegan!

Chocolate Cake with Avocado Mousse

1 chocolate sheet cake (9×13”)
2 Haas avocados
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon citrus zest (orange, lemon, lime or a combo)
1 teaspoon maple crystals
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

1. Trim off about 1 inch from each end of the cake. Split the cake in half, lift off the top half, and set aside.

DSCF0016

2. Combine avocados, lime juice, vanilla, honey, citrus zest, and maple crystals in a food processor and process until completely smooth. (Stop the machine and push down the mixture with a rubber spatula, if necessary.)

3. Spread the avocado mixture evenly over the bottom half of the cake. Sprinkle the chips evenly over the avocado. Replace the top half of the cake.

DSCF0022

4. Cut into 12 squares, or use a 2 1/2-inch ring mold to cut out circles. Serve as is or sprinkle powdered sugar over the top.

Makes 12.

DSCF0026DSCF0027

 


4 Comments

Chestnut-Chocolate-Bourbon Brownies

chestnut chocolate bourbon brownies

If you’re still looking for something to bring to the family meal for the holidays, try this one. It’s Chestnut-Chocolate-Bourbon Brownies. What gives them a seasonal touch is the chestnut spread, which is flavored with vanilla and sugar, so additional sugar is unnecessary.IMG_1840

These are the perfect party treat. Chestnut is a classic holiday ingredient, and who doesn’t love brownies? As for the bourbon…well, let’s just say it makes the holidays go down easier.

You can find the chestnut spread at gourmet shops (I found mine at Dean & Deluca in Manhattan).

For those of you who celebrate, I hope that you have a wonderful, joyous Christmas, or a bountiful, happy Kwanzaa.

Chestnut-Chocolate-Bourbon Brownies

Makes 16 servings

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate or 1 cup bittersweet chips
1 can chestnut spread
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan and line it with parchment.

IMG_1839

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or an aluminum bowl set over a pot of simmering water.

IMG_1842

In a medium bowl, combine the chestnut spread and butter. Stir to break up butter. Stir in egg, then bourbon and melted chocolate. Add flour and baking powder and stir just until blended.

IMG_1845

Transfer batter to baking pan. Bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out fairly clean. If top get dark before cake is done, cover with aluminum foil.

IMG_1850

Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then lift cake out of pan using parchment and place on rack. Let cool completely. Cut into 2-inch squares.


Leave a comment

Persimmon Tea Cake

IMG_1857

It’s the season for persimmons! This is the time of year when persimmon lovers rejoice because persimmons are a sumptuous fruit, sweet and soft (or crunchy, depending on which you get).

Persimmons are a rather expensive fruit, so when I get my hands on some, I usually just eat them as fruit. However, recently a co-worker brought in a huge bag of persimmons from her own tree (how I wish I had one!). So, with that opportunity, I decided to try baking something with them.

So here now is my Persimmon Tea Cake. This is a dense but moist loaf that doesn’t IMG_1838need any embellishment. It’s great for an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee or tea.

Make sure that you use the larger Hachiya persimmons and not the smaller Fuyu. Fuyu are delicious to eat out of hand, but it remains somewhat hard and the pulp isn’t as soft and creamy when pureed. You can puree a bunch of persimmons and keep it tightly sealed in the freezer until you need it.

IMG_1824

Fully ripe persimmons

And while Fuyus can be eaten hard, Hachiyas most certainly cannot. Hachiyas are ready to be eaten when they are extremely soft and look like they’re on the verge of rotting. No, really. Hachiyas are astringent and if you eat them before they’re ready, I guarantee you that you will regret it and remember it as long as you live. Every drop of moisture in your mouth will dry up. I jokingly tell people that an unripe persimmon will dry up their whole head. Believe me, it will feel that way.

But once they’re soft and ready, their flavor and sweetness are sublime. Unfortunately, their flavor is also delicate and won’t come out strongly in cake. Rather, the cake will have an unusual, undefinable flavor, but absolutely pleasing. I’m working on a gluten-free version, so one of these days, I’ll post that recipe.

In the meantime, enjoy this one.

Persimmon Tea Cake

Makes 1 loaf.

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ tablespoons orange zest
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, preferably organic
2 large eggs
1 cup persimmon pulp (from about 3 medium-large persimmons)

IMG_1822

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan, or line it with parchment paper (I like to do both for easy removal).

IMG_1829

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Using an electric mixer or food processor, puree pulp until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in buttermilk and zests.

IMG_1825

With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add one egg and beat it in, then add the other one and beat it in.

IMG_1830

Mix in the persimmon pulp. Add the flour mixture in a little at a time and mix just until blended.

IMG_1831IMG_1836

Transfer to loaf pan and bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan and let cool completely.

IMG_1837


Leave a comment

Bourbon-Coconut-Pumpkin Cake

I love having leftover pumpkin in the refrigerator because it prompts me to bake something new with it, and that’s one of the best things about the holidays. I’m not much of a pumpkin pie fan, but I love other baked goodies made with pumpkin.IMG_1820

This started off as a basic pumpkin cake, but I veered off a little and added a couple of items that I thought really brought it up a notch (or two): bourbon and coconut. The flavor and texture made it a huge hit. My only regret is that I didn’t get a shot of the cake after I’d iced it. I hope you all like it.

Enjoy!

Bourbon-Coconut-Pumpkin Cake

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup organic sugar or coconut sugar
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons bourbon or whiskey

Icing

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Grease an 8-inch square or round cake pan (or line with parchment).

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.

In a large bowl, whip butter and sugar until fluffy (the consistency should be sort of like wet sand). IMG_1812

Gently mix in the pumpkin, coconut, eggs, and bourbon.

IMG_1813

Fold in the flour mixture.

IMG_1814

Spoon into pan and smooth out the top.

IMG_1816

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out fairly dry (a couple of crumbs is okay), about 1 hour.

IMG_1818

Move to a wire rack and let cook 5 minutes. Invert it onto the rack, then invert it again to be top-up. (If you used parchment paper, you can just lift it right out of the pan.) Let cook completely.

Make icing: Combine sugar and 1 tablespoon bourbon in a small bowl and stir until smooth. If too thick, add a little more bourbon; if too thick, add more sugar. Pour over top, spreading it out so that it falls over the sides. Sprinkle coconut over the top.

Makes 1 10-inch cake.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 333 other followers