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Muffins! A gf-pastry-lover’s dream. What other breakfast delectable comes in so many endless varieties? And what other gluten-free treatsie can you pass off to your wheat-eating friends as “normal” (meaning wacky-flour free)? Today’s muffin magic: zucchini walnut.

Gluten-Free Zucchini Walnut Muffins

Gluten-Free Zucchini Walnut Muffins

Zucchini Walnut Muffins (GF, of course!)

  • 3 cups GF flour (I use 3/4 cup each: tapioca, sweet rice, teff & sorghum)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup veggie oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a muffin tin with paper wrappers. In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients except for the walnuts. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar together. Add zucchini. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add walnuts. Spoon into muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of each muffin comes out clean. Makes 12-18 muffins, depending on how enthusiastic you are about filling your muffin cups.

Part of this complete breakfast!

Part of this complete breakfast!

Pop quiz:

Since having a baby, I have
A) burned no fewer than 5 meals
B) stopped this food-blogging nonsense
C) gained a whole new appreciation for the ability of my toes to grab objects when my hands are otherwise occupied
D) come up with delightful new ways to snack in the 2-minute windows of freedom a newborn baby affords its poor mama
E) B,C&D
F) A,C&D

Let’s consider A. Pre-baby burned-meal tally? One case of beets left to boil on the stove while we went shopping comes to mind… yowsahs. T’weren’t pretty. Now, post-baby? Let’s see… there was the quinoa, then the polenta. Then the sweet potato fries. Oh yeah – the wild rice. Then the gf cookies. Hmm. A is a definite possibility. Now, B. The answer is clearly not B. Whutchyou thought this is, bwa?! This here’s a BLOG POST! So. B is right out. That leaves C, D, and F. I have indeed wished I had a second set of arms many a time since having this babe. Although I envy our chimpy relatives and the rest of the great apes for having opposable big toes, I have found my own forward-facing big toe pretty dern handy when it comes to picking stuff up off the floor. Heck yah. Which brings me to the point of this post (the correct answer to the quiz is F, by the way): putting together meals with a newborn glued to your chest is mighty hard for a gluten-free veghead who’s used to cooking everything from scratch. Despite my best attempts to carry on as normal, I have burned many a meal and resorted to even weirder snacks than my usual bag of frozen peas (highly recommend, btw). But with a little determination, a few short-cuts, a buttload of pasta and leftovers, I am managing to get by… nay, prosper. Biggest and most entertaining success to date: cookie cereal!!

Cookie cereal. Savor the words. A terrible treat if ever there was one, and JUST what a new mom needs to soothe frayed nerves and hormonal monsoons. Breakfast of champignons, saysme. hee hee! Oh, Calvin would be proud!

First, overcook a batch of relatively expensive gf cookies. Get really annoyed at yourself. Stare at the overly brown lumps in disgust and curse gluten for cornering the market on chewy chocolate chip cookies. Walk away. Change some diapers and remark how much lighter milk poo is than those damn burned cookies. Milk… hmmm. Return with freshly diapered babe and newfound clarity. Get bowl. Spoon. Milk. Stack two cookies in bowl. Drown in milk. Stab. Stab. Stab. Voila. Cookie cereal. The heavens sing!

YOWSAHS! Sorry for the hiatus. Had a baby. Wasn’t cooking. Back now, although only in 20-minute intervals. We’ll see how it goes.

My number-one, all-time favorite cookie? Easy. Melomakarona. Melo-ma-kwhoo? It’s a Greek treatsie made with the stuff of the Gods: olive oil, walnuts and honey. Aside from being ridonkulously delicious, if anyone gets on your tail about eating too many cookies, you can tell them that they’re made with olive oil, so they’re cleeeeearly healthy. Puh-lease.

I have wonderful memories of my grandmother making piles of these when she came to visit. The hilarious thing about trying to replicate her recipes is the inexact measurements she’d provide. For example, “one glass olive oil.” A glass? Which glass, Yiayia? To which she’d shrug and reply, “enh…” as she reached for the nearest glass and filled it to whatever arbitrary height she needed… Ah, yes. Sixty-five years in the kitchen’ll do that to ya.

Anywhooooo, I’ve longed for melomakarona since going GF. Finally got up the gumption to try. And how did the first attempt go? Very respectable! A bit more delicate than their gluteny cousins, but I don’t know that I’d change a thing. So here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Melomakarona!!

Gluten-Free Melomakarona!!

Gluten-Free Melomakarona

For the cookies

  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. grated orange peel
  • 1/2 c. ground walnuts
  • 2 2/3 c. oat flour
  • 1 1/3 c. potato starch
  • 2/3 c. tapioca starch
  • 1 T ground chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 T brandy

For the syrup

  • 2 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 c. water
  • 4-5 whole cloves
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks

For the topping

  • 1 c. finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 T sugar

Cook them cookies: Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the olive oil and beat until smooth-ish. Add O.J., egg, baking soda, and orange peel and beat. Stir in ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and brandy. Dough should be softer than your average cookie dough, but not sticky.

Form into oblong logs (turds? Not so appetizing, but, hey – it’s a good way to describe them…) and with a fork, gently press a grid into the top of each cookie. (Alternatively, my yiayia used to press them gently against the textured side of a meat tenderizer. Needless to say, we don’t have one of those in our veggie kitchen.) Bake on the top rack of a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until very lightly browned. The cookies will be rather dry and pretty delicate – don’t pick them up with a vice grip or you’ll have melomakarona dust. But the syrup is the antidote to said problem. Onward.

Finishing touches: Combine honey, 1/2 c. sugar, water, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan and heat over med. low heat until sugar dissolves. When cookies come out of the oven, dip each one in the hot syrupy goodness for a second or two, making sure each one is completely submerged. With a slotted spoon, transfer the freshly bathed cookie to a plate and sprinkle with a mixture of chopped walnuts, sugar and cinnamon. Serve with Greek coffee. Try not to eat all at once.