Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 19

I’ve had a real hankering after macaroons recently, so I decided to fulfill my craving.  And if you’re looking for good, easy, light and airy dessert ideas (gluten-free, too!) for Passover or Easter, this one (with any modifications you like, such as kosher ingredients) would probably do in a pinch.  And it’s a cinch.

Separate 3 large eggs.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 1

Bring the whites to room temperature by setting the bowl they’re in into another bowl of hot water — just make sure not to get the water where it shouldn’t be.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 3

Press plastic wrap into the surface of the spare yolks, seal them in an airtight container, and put them in the fridge to use in something else.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 2

Preheat your oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, plop your 3 room-temperature egg whites, 1/2 cup sugar, a sprinkle of salt and 2 teaspoons pure almond extract.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 4

Whisk those together until it’s all glossy and frothy and the sugar is mostly dissolved.  The frothier you get it, the better your macaroons will stick together and the fluffier they will be.  You won’t get a meringue out of this because you added the sugar at the beginning but you can get this lovely white stuff that works really well.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 5

Fold in 4 cups sweetened shredded/flaked coconut and 1 cup blanched sliced almonds.  Make sure the egg mixture is fully combined with the dry ingredients.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 7

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 8

I used a soup spoon to scoop these onto the baking sheets and ended up with about 20 cookies.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 10

Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until they’re a nice golden brown. Allow them to cool completely.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 12

For a bit more pizzazz, I melted a hunk of white chocolate and another of milk chocolate and dipped half the cookies in white chocolate, and the other in the milk and put them back on the parchment to dry.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 15

Deadly.

Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroons 16

New Potatos au Gratin

New Potatoes Gratin

Au gratin dishes are the ultimate in comfort food to me.  If you were wondering, “gratin” is of French etymology, coming from a combination of the words “gratter” (to scrape or to grate) and “gratiné” (having a crust or skin).  So it’s any baked dish with a nice crust on top, usually made with bread crumbs or melted cheese.  So much cheese.

For Easter dinner I bought some new potatoes in homage to spring.  And then I wanted to cover them with cheese, in homage to the fact that the weather is still miserable here and it might as well be winter yet.  This recipe is in essence the same as the one I made with Jerusalem artichokes last year, but with a few tweaks to reflect the season.

New Potatoes Gratin

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Start with your potatoes, however many will fit in the dish you wish to use.  Use a mandolin to slice them super thin.  I prefer them thin over thick, because they cook faster, and it means I don’t have to let them cook in the pan first before putting on the cheese crust.  I can put the cheese on before I bung it in the oven and I don’t have to worry about it burning.  I like to give them a rinse in cold water, too, to get rid of some of the starch.

New Potatoes Gratin

In a measuring cup, pour about 2/3 cup heavy cream.  Obviously if you’re just making a small dish you can use less.

New Potatoes Gratin

Fill it to about the 1 1/2 cup mark with milk and liberally add ground black pepper.  Give that a stir.

New Potatoes Gratin

Grate a whole heckuva lotta cheese.  I have a mix here of gruyère and aged cheddar.

New Potatoes Gratin

While you’re at it, chop up a bunch of Italian parsley.

New Potatoes Gratin

Generously butter the dish you want to serve your potatoes in.  Line the bottom with a layer of potatoes.

New Potatoes Gratin

Sprinkle on some parsley, then some cheese.

New Potatoes Gratin

Repeat that until you get to the top layer.  Sprinkle on your parsley, then pour your milk mixture all over the whole thing.

New Potatoes Gratin

THEN cover it with the rest of the cheese.

New Potatoes Gratin

Pop that baby in the oven and bake until the top is crusty and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Enjoy!

New Potatoes Gratin

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Gluten-Free Cake Batter

Everybody needs a basic cake batter recipe to work from, even those who have a low tolerance for gluten.  Fussellette was coming for Easter and I wanted to serve a cake for dessert.  So I needed to come up with a cake that she could enjoy along with the rest of our guests.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Easy Cake Batter.  I replaced the flour in the recipe with a gluten-free mix I came up with myself, with a little bit of help from Ellen’s Kitchen.  If you are curious as to the right proportions when combining gluten-free flours, check out her suggestions — they are very useful.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

First we want to bring all our liquid ingredients to room temperature: 1 cup butter, 4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, and 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or soured milk). If you want to warm up your ingredients a little faster, try placing them in a warm water bath.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

In a bowl, whisk together 2 cups white rice flour, 2/3 cup almond meal (I find that the coarseness of the almond meal gives the cake crumb a springy, solid texture, with no fear of it falling if handled too roughly), 1/3 cup tapioca starch/flour, and1 tablespoon baking powder.  So the final result of this particular combination tastes like a sweet, more tender version of cornbread — it has a finer texture but that’s the best analogy I can come up with.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together your butter with 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, until it’s light and fluffy and creamy.  Don’t rush this process.  Let your mixer go on high for about 6 minutes, and you will see the difference between butter and sugar that are just well-combined versus butter and sugar that are well and truly creamed together. This is the just-combined stuff.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

This is the truly creamed stuff.  It makes all the difference in a cake, especially one where you need all the help you can get to keep the structure light and fluffy.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Mix in your eggs, one at a time, until they are well-combined.  Again, you add the eggs a bit at a time so that the mixer paddle will have a chance to properly emulsify all of it.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Add in at this point 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

Flip the mixer to its lowest setting and mix in about a third of your flour mixture.  Pour in half the buttermilk and let that get mixed in as well.  Then another third of your flour, mix that in, and the rest of the buttermilk.  When that’s mixed in, add the last of the flour and mix until just combined.  You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl. This picture is blurry because I like to cook in motion.

Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Batter

Now you have a basic batter with which you can do pretty much anything.  You can turn it into a layer cake, or mix it with other flavours like chocolate or fruit.  Or you can make it into cupcakes, like I did here (the frosting is a package of cream cheese mixed with a cup of icing sugar and some coconut).

Gluten-Free Cake Batter

This cake here I wrapped up and froze for a future event.

Gluten-Free Cake Batter

For Easter I poured the batter into two pans and then layered the cake with whipped cream mixed with raspberries.  DIVINE.

Spicy Spring Carrot Soup

Happy Easter!

Spicy Spring Carrot Soup

It’s spring.  Well, I shouldn’t say that.  It’s spring in some parts of Canada.  Here in Newfoundland we are still clearing up snow from our blizzard last week.  In most parts of the country the markets are full to bursting with new spring vegetables: tender carrots, tiny potatoes, fresh peas.  Here in St. John’s it’s time to clean out the dregs of our winter supply, and most produce around here is either flaccid or unripe.  So we make soup.

This soup will be served as a starter at our Easter dinner on Sunday.  If a soup could be considered to be light and fluffy, it would be this one.  In fact (and I may have texted this to the Pie when I made it), I bet if you put the Easter Bunny in a blender and heated him up he would taste a lot like this soup: sweet, a little bit spicy, a hint of ginger, and chock-full of carrots.

Spicy Spring Carrot Soup
This recipe is simple, and takes very little time.

I have here 2 bunches of “new” carrots (which in reality were bendy and dried-out), 4 Bosc pears (which I unsuccessfully tried to ripen for three days), a handful of mildly hot peppers, and 2 onions.

Spicy Spring Carrot Soup

Chop those puppies up and toss them in a pot.  Add a whole carton of chicken broth (about 4 cups, or a litre), and top the rest up with water.

Spicy Spring Carrot Soup

Chuck in as well a few teaspoons of minced ginger (two will probably do it, as the minced stuff is wicked strong) and a healthy dollop of dijon mustard.

Spicy Spring Carrot Soup

Add in a few tablespoons of sweet chili sauce as well.

Spicy Spring Carrot Soup

Simmer that like crazy until all the vegetables are tender.

Spicy Spring Carrot Soup

Remove it from the heat and use an immersion blender (or a regular blender) to turn it all into an orange pulp.

Spicy Spring Carrot Soup

If you’ve picked a really hot pepper for your soup, you might want to serve it with a dollop of sour cream, or maybe some green onions for garnish.  It’s also lovely just as it is.  You can freeze it easily and bring it out whenever you need a taste of spring.

Spicy Spring Carrot Soup

Blue Egg Group

Happy Friday the 13th!

Blue Egg Group

I do not suffer from triscadecaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th.  Normally it’s an extremely lucky day for me.

And true to form, what do I get but some fresh St. Phillips BLUE eggs, a gift from Miss Awesome?  It’s always my lucky day.

Blue Egg Group

Aren’t these beautiful?

Blue Egg Group

I don’t want to waste them on something banal, so stay tuned for the amazingness I plan to create with them.

Blue Egg Group

I have a number of project ideas lined up for the next few weeks, but they all take a bit of time, so please be patient with me if the posts you’ve been seeing are a little simpler than you are used to.  As Blackadder would say, it’s all part of my cunning plan …

Maple-Glazed Ham

The Pie and I took Easter easy this year, and it was just the two of us, so we kept Easter dinner simple.  We had a maple-glazed ham, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, crisp mashed rutabaga, and roasted asparagus with cheese and bread crumbs.

The Pie and I like ham, and we’ve featured it here before.  Because we’re lazy, we always go with a pre-cooked ham, but this year we thought we’d try something a little different in the glaze department.

So, take your ham and take a knife and score the ham all over in one direction, then another, to make diamond-shaped cuts everywhere.  I just scored along the string lines, and that worked fine.

Stud the ham with cloves.

Mix together 2/3 cup brown sugar, 3 tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff, please), and 1 tablespoon mustard (I went with an organic dijon).

Grab yourself a pastry brush, a very handy item.  Ours are made of silicone, which makes cleanup so much less of a pain in the bum.

Plaster that ham with your glaze. Bake according to your instructions, adding more glaze as you see fit.  If you bake it at 350°F for an hour or so, you should be good.  You are looking for an internal temperature of about 140°F.

Let it rest for a few minutes, then slice it up.

TADA!

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

The Pie and I took Easter easy this year, and it was just the two of us, so we kept Easter dinner simple.  We had a maple-glazed ham, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, crisp mashed rutabaga, and roasted asparagus with cheese and bread crumbs.

These mashed potatoes are super easy, and really not all that healthy.  But honestly, I don’t really think “healthy” and “mashed potato” should be used in the same sentence.  But that’s just me.

Gather yourself a selection of potatoes and peel those suckers.  Or don’t peel them.  I prefer my mashed potatoes with skins, but I was making this for the Pie and he prefers them without, so there you go.  Cut off all the spots and things.

Cube ’em up.

Boil the rawness out of them.  Drain them.

Mash them silly.  Add in lots of butter.  More than you think sane.

Some minced garlic.  Use your judgment here.  I don’t want to try to force my ideals of garlic amounts on you.  That’s just not my way.  I am not a proselytic garlic lover.

Some cream cheese.  Again with the judgment.  And some herbs of your choice.  Today we used dill.  Other days we use basil or oregano.

Eat.  Tell your arteries to pipe down and go back for seconds.