coconut macaroons

IMG_7233

An amazing thing happened last week.  I had a Saturday off, I had a fresh batch of coconut macaroons and there was light.  The macaroons were a result of a Thursday night gluten-free cooking class (best present ever).  Since Jon and I both participated in the class we ended up with about 60 coconut macaroons.  I took a batch to work where they were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone from residents to social workers to administrators.  A few were enjoyed by guests we had visiting for the weekend and the rest – well – let’s just say that my lunches were pretty sweet last week.

coconut macaroons
yield: about 24 cookies

recipe notes:  The original recipe calls for a 250 degree oven, however we baked ours at 300.  This gave them a crispier shell.  The recipe recommends baking 25 to 30 minutes.  We started checking them around 25 min.  If you want softer cookies, take them out when they’re soft but if you want them crispier on the exterior, keep them in & turn down the oven temp to 250 for another 5 or so minutes.

2 egg whites
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups sweetened shredded dried coconut
1/2 – 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
chocolate, for dipping (optional)

1.  Preheat an oven to 300°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

2.  In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they just barely hold soft peaks. Beat in the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, stir together the 3 cups coconut and just enough of the condensed milk to make a sticky batter. Fold in the egg white mixture.

4.  Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Dip the spoon into cold water every once in a while to prevent the batter from sticking.

5.  Bake until the cookies are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn the oven off. Prop the oven door ajar and leave the cookies in the oven for 10 minutes more. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool completely on the pans, then remove the cookies from the pans.

6.  Optional:  Melt some chocolate in a double broiler.  Dip cookies, cool on baking sheet.

Source: Williams-Sonoma

Joyful

photo (5)

I’ve been working quite a bit recently and although it’s a bit sad to miss out on holiday festivities, I don’t mind it too much either.  It may seem weird to some, but overall I’m just grateful to have a job that I love and be able to work (especially since I wasn’t last year).  Working 12+ hours a day 6 days a week doesn’t leave much time for anything, but last Saturday we did carve out a day for holiday things – tree shopping, time with family, a dinner out on the town.  Joy to you & yours.

And, a few things of note (because I don’t have any new recipes to share):

- Some good evidence to keep snacking on nuts.

- I love picking out our holiday cards each year.

- A batch of these quinoa patties will cover lunch for at least a couple days (I added spinach + feta this time and dipped in greek yogurt – yum).

- I usually check out books at the library, but decided this one was worth buying.

- Do you have a favorite holiday movie?  I hope to find time to watch this one.

- A lovely poem, makes me want to grow paper whites.

- On my Christmas wish-list: new pair of slippers.

- If I have time, will be trying out some new cookies.

- A dish I plan to make soon.

chocolate glazed chocolate donuts {gluten-free}

photo (3)

Slowly but surely I’m becoming more excited about gluten-free baked goods.  Seeing gluten-free donut recipes pop up all over the blogosphere from Ashley’s new book is definitely partly to blame.  Are you guys familiar with Ashley’s blog?  It’s one of my newest favorites, since being diagnosed with Celiac and all. I’ve been ooh-ing and ahh-ing over every one of her donut creations and finally made some last weekend.  Wow, these are good.  And not good in the its-gluten-free-but-still-ok kind of good, they’re actually good.  Jon ate one to try and then packed two for himself to take to work the next day.  I took the rest to work and they disappeared quickly.  There’s only two (!) flours necessary, only measuring cups & teaspoons (no scales) involved and they come together so quickly.  Which means you have no excuses – get baking!  

chocolate glazed chocolate donuts {gluten-free}
yield: 6-8 donuts depending on the size of your pan

recipe notes: I adapted the donuts by leaving out the chocolate chips and like them better as all one texture.  I used a recipe for the glaze from Joy the Baker and cut it down, but still had some left-over.  The below measurements are approximately what you’ll need for these.  And if there’s leftover, well, you’ll have to find a way to use it.  Topping ice cream is one of many…

for the donuts:

1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp GF oat flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp sweet rice flour
3 Tbsp sunflour oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup + 3T milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

for the glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
sprinkles (optional, but not really)

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease your donut pan.

2.  Combine the oat flour, sweet rice flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt & baking powder in a medium sized bowl.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, oil & applesauce.

4.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, just until combined.  Mixture may be a bit lumpy & that’s ok.  Do not overmix.

5.  With a spoon, spatula or piping bag, fill the donut pan.  The mixing bowl I used has a spout so I just poured into the pan directly from the bowl.

6.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  The donuts are done when testing with a toothpick reveals a slightly moist toothpick.

7.  Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

8.  To make the glaze, combine everything but the sprinkles and whisk (with a fork is fine) until smooth.  When the donuts have cooled, turn upside down, dunk in icing.  Sprinkle the tops with sprinkles and let the glaze set.

source: donuts adapted from edible perspective, glaze from Joy the Baker

thankful for {fall}

photo (4)This past Saturday morning I woke up to the sun streaming through the window, quickly laced up my running shoes and ran straight to the Farmer’s Market.  I bought my fair share of fall produce – brussels sprouts, parsnips & carrots, acorn squash, honey crisp apples.  Produce in hand, I walked home slowly, enjoying the beautiful fall morning, stopping every now and then to take a quick picture.  Seriously, could that sky be more blue?  Or those leaves more lovely?  I think not.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, recently, about what it is I do here in this space I share with you.  I enjoy taking pictures of food and sharing good recipes with you.  But it’s more than that.  I believe in food because I believe in sustainability.  I believe that what we eat and how we eat and who we share our food with is so much more than a pretty picture.  So much more than a list of ingredients and instructions.  Listening to the radio the other day, I heard a story about a woman who asked Escoffier for a recipe for a dish she enjoyed at his restaurant.  She came back days later and said “The dish tasted nothing like yours!”  He said to her, “Ma’am, I gave you a recipe, I did not teach you to cook.”

I have been so inspired recently – by local farmer’s I’ve gotten to know at our market, by the work of people like Ron Finley, by my favorite America’s Test Kitchen Podcasts and by fellow food-bloggers out there who bring so much more to this shared internet space that just pretty pictures and recipes.  As the holidays near and Thanksgiving madness ensues, my hope is that I can remain grounded in simplicity and enjoy cooking as a lesson in sustainability and gratitude, not as a means to a picture-perfect ending.

Happy Fall, friends.  And as always, thanks for reading.

living gluten-free: dining at senza

image (1)

Dining out gluten-free can be a pain.  Since being diagnosed with Celiac about a year ago we’ve established a pretty good base of good restaurants with gluten-free options in the neighborhood, places where I could eat and not worry about anything being contaminated or accidentally prepared with gluten.  And I can almost always relax at those placed and generally enjoy eating out.  But there’s still the bread basket I can’t eat, the fact that I have to say “no, I can’t” when someone offers that I try their delicious dish (which is inevitably pasta or breaded or dredged in flour or marinated in soy sauce or the bacon crumbles on the top are fried in a deep fryer that also fries breaded items…).  I can’t try any of the fancy locally brewed beers and I worry about ordering cocktails.  In the end, it’s not so bad that I have to stick to wine and whatever gluten-free meat/veggie option there it, but mostly I just don’t like being the annoying person at the table.

So, as part of our birthday celebration this year, I booked a table at Senza, a restaurant I’ve heard about from many people whenever the fact that I have Celiac comes up (and it always comes up ;) ).  The restaurant is entirely gluten-free but it doesn’t advertise itself as such.  Instead, the experience at Senza centers around Executive Chef Noah Sandoval’s unique take on new American cuisine, focusing on fresh, local ingredients and a blend of modern and classic techniques.”  He just happens to not use gluten in anything.

It was a truly wonderful experience and a really great birthday present for me.  I started the evening with an amazing cocktail that included a combination of tequila, mole and rosemary.  Since there were two of us, we opted for the four course menu and decided to taste a bit of what each other ordered.  I wouldn’t be able to describe each course in detail, but can say that the experience overall was so delicious and so much fun.  The service was absolutely incredible and each course brought out to us was fun, creative and deliciously complex in flavor and texture.  And for those that are wondering – there was bread served – and it was really good – a small loaf for the two of use to share, sliced and grilled just for a moment to warm it.  But the best part of the whole experience – even if you take out the delicious food – was the fact that I didn’t feel different and I didn’t have to ask for anything special.  I just sat – and drank & ate & enjoyed a fancy dinner out without a worry in my mind.

If you’re in the Chicago area, gluten-free or not, Senza is a restaurant worth trying.