Tuesday, July 23, 2013

(Double) Iced Coffee

You know that little bit of leftover coffee in your French press or coffee pot? Summertime suggestion: dilute it a bit (to stretch it out) and pour it into an ice cube tray! 12 or so hours later, you have coffee iced cubes for your iced coffee. You can feel secretly thrifty and refreshed by your non-watery (coffee) iced coffee!

I'm maybe sipping on one now...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Almond Apple Berry Crumble

It's been so nice here (summer - finally!) that I've not really wanted to turn the oven on quite as much as I usually do. I made an exception last night though, because crumble, like cobbler, makes for an excellently fruity summertime dessert. Especially when paired with a scoop of ice cream or sorbet!

Finished apple crumble ramekin - a little bit messy, but that's the style.

What you'll need for the Crumble Topping:

  • 300g almond flour 
  • 160g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 80g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

What you'll need for the filling:

  • 4-5 Bramley apples (or other available cooking apples - I used Granny Smith this time)
  • 150-200g blackberries
  • 2 tbsp almond flour

What to do:

Roughly cube the apples, then place in a mixing bowl. Not too small, or you will get applesauce!

Apple pieces about this size are good.

Toss the apple pieces in the 2 tablespoons of almond flour. Add blackberries and repeat. You may choose to sprinkle a tablespoon of light brown sugar over this mixture, but I honestly find that it is sweet enough from the fruit and almond.

All ready to mingle with the apple pieces.

Dump the apple berry filling into your baking dish, or divide evenly into ramekins.

Now it's time to prepare the crumble topping. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the 300g almond flour, light brown sugar, and cinnamon.  I have also made this crumble with half almond flour, half all-purpose flour (gluten free and regular varieties) - so 150g of each. The crumble topping works out well both ways.

Once you've mixed the dry ingredients, cube the room temperature butter and add to mixture. You may use a fork to blend in the butter, but I've found that kneading by hand works best. You should be able to form one big dough ball from the crumble topping once the butter is mixed in thoroughly. 

If using a single baking dish, spread the crumble topping over the filling, breaking the crumble up a bit as you go. Make sure to cover the filling completely. If using ramekins, divide the dough ball into roughly equal parts before crumbling over the filling. I sometimes like to pat the crumble down a bit, to ensure complete coverage.

Ready to go in the oven

If using a large dish, bake 160C/320F for 40-45 minutes. If using ramekins (makes 8), bake 160C/320F for approximately 25 minutes.  

Allow to cool slightly. You may want to serve with ice cream. Or sorbet - raspberry was good!


What's your go-to summertime dessert? Do you stick strictly to the frozen variety, or do you occasionally brave the heat of the oven?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Perfect Lemon & Coconut Bars

Aptly named recipe, Green Kitchen Stories, aptly named.

I am a big fan of pretty much all things coconut. These lemon and coconut bars made for a refreshing, summery treat! I added a bit more lemon juice to mine, and enjoyed them the most once cut into small squares after being refrigerated overnight. Not going to lie, I also tried them straight from the oven. Gooey, but good. Head over to Green Kitchen Stories for the official recipe.

I wish I had a pretty picture of my attempt to share, but I sadly only took a quick iPhoto of it:

My apologies for the iPicture quality here - this is admittedly not my finest culinary photograph. I promise this looks much much more aesthetically pleasing and appetizing cut into little bite-size squares.

On this warm summer morning, I kind of wish I still had some of these left in my refrigerator. Will you try some for your next picnic or barbecue? I'll definitely be making some again soon! (Maybe not today though, it's already so warm that my jar of coconut oil is in liquid form this morning! Ha!)

Monday, July 15, 2013

I Tried It: The Three Ingredient Brownie

Gratuitous closeup of Nutella

Have you been as curious about the myth of the 3 ingredient Nutella Brownie as I have? Seeing it all of the internet, thinking "Hmm...I wonder if that really works?" and then letting your mind carry you away to a lovely daydream about Nutella? I mean, erm. What?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you good news: It works! Not only does it work, but these may also be my favorite brownies of Brownie Quest 2013 (aka The Quest for the Perfect Brownie).

Here's my spin, which technically includes five ingredients, but 2 are optional.

What you'll need:

(Makes 12-16 brownies)
  • 300g Nutella
  • 65g Self Raising flour (I used Dove's Farm GF blend)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla (Technically optional, but highly recommended. I think it nicely added to the flavor!)
  • hazelnut pieces (to sprinkle over the top, if so desired)

The Brownie Triumvirate.

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 180C/360F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, and flour. I used my handheld electric mixer on low for about 30 seconds. Then add in the Nutella, blending thoroughly. This should take about a minute.

Butter an 8 x 8 inch baking dish (or an approximately sized round dish, as you see below), and pour in the batter (mine was pretty thick - almost between batter and dough in consistency - so don't be alarmed if yours is too. Particularly if you are using gluten free flour.).

Sprinkle the top with a handful of chopped hazelnut pieces (or not, up to you! I just had some leftovers from these Nutella cookies I made a little while ago.)

Pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Whole pan of brownies cooling

Let cool for at least 5 minutes before attempting to cut if you want your brownies to resemble any actual geometric shape. If you're not so picky about aesthetics, let cool for 3 minutes before digging in.

So pretty and full of Nutella.

And in case you're wondering, these are not overpoweringly hazelnutty. There is definitely a taste of Nutella, but it's not as strong as you would expect given that it is one of the main ingredients. These are just super tasty brownies with a really good consistency (on the fudge-y side, not cake-like or dry).

Have you tried these yet? If not, will you now?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

GF Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Cocoa nibs optional, but highly recommended!

Since reading about Averie Cooks over on A Cup of Joe back in May, I've been meaning to try a peanut butter cookie made with coconut oil. I have adapted the following cookie recipe from this peanut butter cookie recipe from Averie Cooks. I suspect mine are not as fluffy, due to some ingredient changes, but I wanted to try out a gluten free and lower sugar version, and I'm happy with the dome-shaped results. I hope you will be too! (Sidenote: I totally plan on baking the to-the-letter averiecooks-version soon too; I just need to hunt down some JIF!)

What you'll need:

125g light brown sugar
175g natural crunchy peanut butter (I used Meridian's no salt or sugar added variety)
90g coconut oil
140g GF self-raising flour (I used Dove's Farm)
75g GF oats (Alara Gluten Free Pure Oats)
1 egg
1 tbls vanilla extract
1.5 tsp baking soda (Dove's Farm GF)
pinch of salt
cocoa nibs (optional and to taste)

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.

The coconut oil should be room temperature, and somewhere in between solid and liquid in terms of consistency. Think of yourself as the Goldilocks of coconut oil consistency.

Combine the light brown sugar, peanut butter, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. A handheld mixer on medium for a minute or two should do the trick.

Next, combine the flour, baking soda, and pinch of salt in a separate bowl. Gradually blend this into the wet mixture. Save the oats to mix in last (unless you're going to add cocoa nibs too, in which case, the oats will be second-to-last).

Will you be adding cocoa nibs to your cookies? I had an open pouch from naturya waiting to be used again, so I did half my batch with and half without. If you do want to add cocoa nibs, toss in as many as you'd like. Aim for a similar distribution to chocolate chips in a chocolate chip cookie dough; keep in mind these will not be as sweet though! (If you prefer a sweeter cookie, add in a bit more sugar - 20g or so.) 

A tasty addition.

Roll the cookie dough into balls and place evenly on a cookie sheet. 

Bake for about 8 minutes. After removing from the oven, leave the cookies to cool for about 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing.

Cooling on the cookie sheet.
Which did you like better? Would you prefer these with smooth peanut butter, or did you like the crunchy peanut bits? I almost always use crunchy peanut butter when I bake!

Half of this batch of GF Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookies had Cocoa Nibs - my favorite half.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Reading

View from my reading spot in the sand (my paperback possibly disintegrated a little bit, but so worth it!)

Hello all! I'm back from a little holiday with the family - more on that later. I read David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas at the beach. It took a few false starts for me to really get into it - something about the language used in the first chapter of the book was just not clicking with me at first - but I'm really glad I summoned my powers of concentration, because I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book! I particularly love the shifts in narrative and the connections that come to light. Overall, the style kind of reminded me of books by Haruki Murakami and Kazuo Ishiguro. Apparently Mitchell has a connection with Japan too - I wonder if that's what is infiltrating the style. Have you read Cloud Atlas? Or seen the film? What did you think?

I left The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared for my sister and mom to share. Also a good read (and a bit lighter than Cloud Atlas) if you're looking for one.

I also finally finished Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy over the weekend. I'm ready for a lighter read now. Any recommendations?

New GF cookie recipe to appear soon, please check back tomorrow!