Tuesday, April 24, 2012

gouda and roasted pepper dip

What can I say about this lovely little dip?

Perhaps that it is thick and very well-behaved at a party, so you don't have to worry about it dripping off your chip and on to your new acquaintance's shoes?

Perhaps that you can make it ahead of time, pull it out of the fridge, swirl in some cilantro and you're good to go?

Perhaps that it's full of Gouda cheese and I can't think of another cheese that I like better in a dip?

Would that do?

Oh, right.

Well, perhaps I should also mention that it's just a tad expensive? (I find this happens when you have to buy three dairy products for one dip. But once you taste this dip, I do believe you won't mind pinching your pennies and eating beans for the rest of the week.)

Now, I hope that is enough information to help you make an informed decision. To dip or not to dip?

I will just add a few notes.

If you like kick, add two jalapeño peppers. (If you're feeling especially wild, try three! Yes, I understand that you might not have pictured jalapeños and Gouda as BFFs, but they really do like each other.)

Don't – I repeat, don't – misread your recipe and only add half a cup of Gouda cheese. By the time you realize your mistake, you will have started soaking the food processor in hot soapy water and then you'll have to wash it and dry it all over again and grate more cheese and whirl it all up again. And wash it and dry it all over again. (I might be speaking from experience here.)

Finally, you may be a sucker for hot dips. You may think you live for a chip covered in gooey cheesy hot dip goodness. But, people, some dips are better cold. Some dips may have a hot dip option, but are still best cold. This is one of those dips. I know you like options, so I leave it for you to decide. 

One year ago: a baked banana revelation
Two years ago: chocolate cheesecake and tom yum pak soup

gouda and roasted pepper dip
barely adapted from chatelaine

1 red pepper, stem and seeds cut out
1 – 2 green jalapeño peppers, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 c. (625 ml) Gouda cheese, grated
1 c. (250 ml) regular sour cream
1/2 c. (125 ml) feta cheese, crumbled or chopped
2 tbsp. cilantro, coarsely chopped

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the pieces of red pepper in/on an oven-safe dish and into the oven. Roast for about 15 minutes, until the pepper is a little wrinkly and looks like it's roasted. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Once the red pepper is cool, take off the skin if it seems easy. If it doesn't, don't worry about it. Chop it roughly and put it in the food processor with the jalapeño. Throw on the Gouda, sour cream and feta. Whirl until the pepper is as fine as you would like it.

You may stir in the cilantro (saving a bit to garnish) and serve right away. If you'd like to wait up to two days, store it in the fridge, bring it to room temperature, and stir in the cilantro just before serving.

hot dip option*

Replace the sour cream with 1 c. (250 g.) regular cream cheese. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until it's hot and starts to brown, about 10 – 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro before serving. Serve with toasted baguette or pita triangles.

* But the cold dip is truly the best option. (And I'm usually a hot dip person, so you know I'm serious about that!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

zeppelin pancakes

The sun streamed in last weekend and I was surprised to think that one day soon I too would be walking around in short sleeves.

My Easter weekend could be summed up like this: three glorious days when life could lift up, up and away from the workaday world.

These light-as-air pancakes for breakfast certainly helped.

They are called "zeppelin pancakes."

Do you know what a zeppelin is? I mean, do you really know what a zeppelin is?

I had vague notions of something kind of round and floaty. After a little help from a friend, I can now tell you with authority that a zeppelin is a "rigid airship." So it seems I was on the right track.

In any case, these pancakes are definitely on the right track.

As long as you have buttermilk and sour cream around, you can whip them up almost before you can say, "Did we take out the bacon to defrost last night?"

The recipe comes from a bewitching little book called "The Breakfast Book" by Marion Cunningham. There are no photos, but there are lots of recipes and little drawings: of spoons, of bananas, of breakfast trays. It was published in 1987 and I send all my gratitude to the lovely Molly for bringing it to my attention last year.

Marion Cunningham says this recipe comes from Don Chappellet, who perfected it while making Sunday morning pancakes for his six kids. Which just shows that you can make this recipe pretty quickly and without a lot of fuss.

But, oh, the pancakes themselves are something to fuss about. So light they almost lift off the plate, held together with a crispy golden filigree of butter, and full of the tang of buttermilk – just asking for a pat of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup . . .

Don't wait until the next long weekend to try them. Because, you never know, they might turn a regular weekend into something that feels like a long weekend. Zeppelins will do that.

One year ago: gumdrop cookies and chocolate tomato juice cake: bad idea
Two years ago: butterscotch pudding and chocolate cheesecake

don chappellet's zeppelin pancakes
from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham
gluten-free adaption from me

fries about 25 30 pancakes

2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 c. wheat flour
     Or gluten-free:
     46 g. brown rice flour
     46 g. tapioca starch
     46 g. potato starch
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat your griddle to medium-high – this recipe will come together in no time.

Mix the egg yolks, buttermilk and sour cream together. Stir in the melted butter. Set aside.

Stir the flour(s), baking soda and salt together. Stir into the buttermilk mixture and beat until smooth. Try not to worry that it's still quite runny. Set aside.

Beat the reserved egg whites until stiff but still moist. Carefully fold them into the batter.

Butter your griddle and make your pancakes. Turn when you see bubbles opening. Fry briefly on the other side.

If you don't think you can eat all the pancakes at once, you have two options.

Option 1: Fry them all up. Save the extras in the fridge. Reheat by placing on a cookie sheet and in the oven set to 350 degree Fahrenheit for about 6 minutes.

Option 2: Save the batter in the fridge. It will lose a bit of its oompf but still make delicious pancakes; you can always stir in another beaten egg white before cooking, if you like.

Friday, April 6, 2012

paska for easter

Scott tells me he remembers eating paska at his Mennonite grandma's house for Easter.

At first, he (like me) was dubious: icing and sprinkles on bread.

But then he tried it, and my half-Mennonite boy was smitten. (I'm sure the icing and sprinkles helped lure the children in.)

When we got married, he hadn't eaten paska for years because it relies on wheat flour and eggs to make a rich, soft dough – sort of like a Mennonite brioche. Scott was diagnosed as a celiac in his late 20s and that made the wheat flour a no-go.

Then he told me about paska . . . and seeing as one of my main goals in life is to recreate our grandmother's recipes, I knew I had to find a way to make it gluten-free.

I thought it would be crazy hard . . . and then I found Mennonite Girls Can Cook. Lucky for me, one of the Mennonite girls is a very good gluten-free baker and offers this version of paska.

Scott was a bit wary at first because it didn't come in the traditional free-form shape – which would be impossible with a loose, gluten-free dough that needs to be contained as it bakes. But it did have the icing and sprinkles, so he was willing to try it.

Turns out, this is one of those too-rare gluten-free breads that tastes good (i.e., not like sand – hallelujah!) and stays fresh for days.

Now that it's Easter weekend, I'm so pleased to have this pretty Easter bread around. Ever since we took a chocolate class last year with David Mincey and learned about the child slavery involved in cacao production, we're only eating fair-trade chocolate from small producers. But it tends to come in plain bars – not the shiny, foil-wrapped eggs I like to decorate with (and, uh, eat). I finally found this little bunny and it will do nicely next to the paska.

Happy Easter to you!

Last year: gumdrop cookies
Two years ago:  butterscotch pudding

If you're looking for a regular paska recipe, I'd try this.

gluten-free paska
barely adapted from mennonite girls can cook

1 tsp. + 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. milk, heated to lukewarm
1 tbsp. yeast
2 large eggs
1/4 c. butter, melted
finely-grated peel of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon
finely-grated peel of 1 orange
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder 
1/2 heaping tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 heaping tsp. guar gum
3/4 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1/4 c. potato starch
1/4 c. almond flour

Grease an 8" cake pan or something similar. Set aside.

Mix 1 tsp. sugar into lukewarm milk. Add yeast to proof for about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat the eggs. Add the 1/2 c. sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the butter. Stir in the lemon peel, lemon juice and orange peel. Add the yeast mixture and mix well. Set aside.

In another bowl, blend the salt, baking powder, xanthan gum, guar gum, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch and almond flour until well mixed. Add to the liquid ingredients and beat on high for 1 minute.

Spoon into the pan. Let rise until doubled in bulk, which should take about an hour.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes – adjust time for differently-sized pans. For the 8" pan, keep an eye on it after 15 minutes: it should be nicely browned (don't underbake).

Let cool. Remove from pan and ice. Decorate with multi-coloured sprinkles. Once the icing has set, slice like bread to eat. Store in a tightly-sealed container at room temperature.


3 tbsp. butter
2 c. icing or powdered sugar
a sprinkle of kosher salt
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat the butter until fluffy. Beat in the icing sugar and salt. Add most of the milk (because you might not need it all). Beat in the vanilla. You are looking for an icing that is easy to spread and slightly loose so it will "set" over the cake. Ice the cake and sprinkle with mulit-coloured sprinkles.