Gluten-free Peach and Blueberry Pie

Gluten-free Peach and Blueberry Pie

Gluten-free Peach and Blueberry Pie

Just in case you’re looking for an excuse to consumer obscene amounts of whipped cream or French Vanilla Ice Cream… just in case.  Here we are!

The days are long and warming and I’m pretty sure I can smell peaches and berries in the air.  It’s intoxicating and has me daydreaming about fruit pie combinations while lingering in the produce section at the grocery.  

Today we peach and blueberry. Soon I’m thinking a strawberry raspberry pie is in order.  Don’t even get me started on apricots.  

It’s about to be a great summer! 

Gluten-free Peach and Blueberry Pie

You know how I feel about pie crust.  I’ve never been shy about coaxing large amounts of butter into perfectly flakey pie crusts.  

Sidenote:  Five Tips For The Best All-Butter Pie Crust From Scratch.  

This version of pie perfection is made with gluten-free flour.  I love the King Arthur Flour variety and the only amendment I made was to add an egg yolk to the buttermilk.  The yolk helps with binding the crust but let me be honest, the crust was still a bit crumbly.  

Here’s the nitty gritty.   

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Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

Every good baker has a lot of secrets.  

They have a secret stash of chocolate hidden in the back of the pantry (usually behind the garbanzo beans).  They have an amazing recipe for the very best Peach Pie that they share with exactly zero people.  They have a secret cookie scooper they don’t let anyone else use.  There’s the vintage church cookbook they like to keep all to themselves, the stack of good puff pastry hidden under the ice packs in the freezer, and the secret spell they cast over all of their batters before they go in the oven… because bakers are actual wizards with magical powers and everyone knows it.  

Olive Oil Raspberry and Sea Salt Brownies

The secret to these dark and fudge brownies… because I try to share all of my best secrets… is Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil.  It’s perfect for baking!  We get all of the good, cholesterol-free fats from olive oil without the overwhelming olive oil taste that we might not want in our sweet baked goods.  Oh!  Pro-tip: this olive oil is also great for frying.  It has a super high smoke-point and can withstand high temperature for frying up treats.  Win!

Now… to celebrate Bertolli’s 150th (!!!) anniversary, let’s treat ourselves to the best brownies!  

To celebrate this stellar anniversary, join me in entering the Taste of Tradition Recipe Contest! Submit your favorite family or original recipe using Bertolli Olive Oils and/or Vinegars to BertolliOliveOil.Tumblr.com for a chance to win a stellar prize:  a trip for 2 to Tuscany!  You have until July 31,2015 but don’t delay!  This is just too good not to celebrate! 

This post is sponsored by Bertolli Olive Oil.  All opinions are my own.  

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Dominique Ansel’s Chocolate Mousse

Dominique Ansel's Creamy Chocolate Mousse

Dominique Ansel's Creamy Chocolate Mousse

I still get kitchen-intimidated.  It happens when I least expect it… like when I’m trying to satisfy a chocolate mousse craving and I stumble upon a seemingly approachable Food & Wine recipe.  

This recipe for extra-creamy Chocolate Mousse is from cronut innovator Dominique Ansel… pastry genius.  

Here’s the thing about pastry innovators:  they tend to make challenging things look really easy, god bless ’em.  

It’s not that mousse is impossible.  It’s mostly approachable and 100% delicious but does require some a candy thermometer, egg whites beaten just-so, and well… some self-confidence and guts.  

No guts, no chocolate mousse glory.  

Dominique Ansel's Creamy Chocolate Mousse

First we hold our breaths and make the meringue.  

Here’s how that goes down in the kitchen:  

Egg whites are beaten in a stand mixer at medium speed.  Feel free to stand there and zone-out as the egg whites become foamy and frothy.  Mark this zone-out as your one and only while making this mousse.  

We can’t dilly-dally for too long because we need to make a hot sugar syrup while the egg whites get frothy.  Water and sugar are boiled to precisely 240 degrees F while our eggs beat to precisely soft peaks.  Yup.  Two forms of kitchen science at once.  Stay present.  Stay in the game.  We’ve only just begun.  

The hot sugar syrup is drizzled into the soft-peaked eggs and with the mixer on high, our two forms of kitchen science form one glossy, light mound of perfect meringue.  Deep breath.  We are successful.  

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Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake

Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake

Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake

With every trip to the grocery store, I run these few thoughts through my mind.  

•  GAH!  I forgot my grocery list.  Do I need lemons?  I probably need lemons.  •  Why is it so cold in here?  •  Do I have my wallet, where’s my wallet, who stole my wallet, oh here’s my wallet.  •  Is that baby sitting in that stroller staring at me or do babies just stare?  •  Would it be weird if I start eating this baguette right now?    •  I hate scallops  •  No, you don’t need a bag of chocolate sandwich cookies… don’t even look at those Oreos… no no no.  •  Wait, didn’t you want to make a recipe with a cookies and cream whipped cream?  Better get the cookies.  Two bags, just to be sure.  

Cut to:  home from the grocery store eating Oreos for dinner.

Could one of you please call an adult and ask them to come live with me? 

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Spinach and Blue Cheese Biscuits

Spinach and Blue Cheese Biscuits

Spinach and Blue Cheese Biscuits

I have an idea!  Spoiler alert:  it’s about biscuits.  

Actually, I’ll just keep this short and sweet.  Let’s make biscuits!  Extra savory, baked with greens and stinky cheese, served with generous amounts of soft butter.  

Our biscuit game just got tangy and spicy, aaand spinach is definitely a vegetable so these biscuits are dang-near healthy.  

It’s time.  

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Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I banged my head against the wall one good time.  I wanted cheesecake, like a really big slice of cold creamy cheesecake, and I wanted to do anything anything anything at all NOT to make a cheesecake.   Headbang.  How can I get to cheesecake into my face without leaving my house…  without having to make an actual cheesecake?    The last time I foil-wrapped and water-bathed a cheesecake was probably 1997.  It ended in a tragically soggy crust and I’ll never do it again.  

One good bang against the wall and presto!  Ice cream is the answer.  Cream cheesy and rich to mimic cheesecake flavors,  berries because they’re purple and delicious, and chunks of graham cracker crumbs to simulate the all-important crust.  Dreams:  realized.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Basically, I’ll do anything not to get all the cheesecake flavor I can without actually making a cheesecake.  Ice cream is my latest cheesecake hack.  Past cheesecake hacks involve using a pie plate instead of a springform pan.  I’m nothing if not clever in the kitchen.  Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie.  

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Malo’s Beef and Pickle Tacos

Malo's Beef and Pickle Tacos

Malo's Beef and Pickle Tacos

There’s a place in Los Angeles where you can drink feisty margaritas made by half-rude actor/bartenders, munch on half-bad chips and salsa, and watch awkward Tinder dates buzz around you.  It’s happy hour, half-dark at your table, and there is tequila, so… most anything is tolerable.  

The bright spot, the salvation from the meh bartenders and awkward dates around you, the comfort supreme:  Beef and Pickle Tacos!    Crunchy, salty, and cheesy.  Simple flavors and textures combine to make everything right in the world.  Well.. not everything, but most things.  The wonders a pickle can provide.  

See:  Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich

Malo's Beef and Pickle Tacos

Here’s what we’ll need for taco dinner, at home, where it’s cozy.  

Ground beef:  lean is cool.  

A big ol’ boiled Russet Potato:  help extend the meat with cheap potato starch.  

Sharp cheddar cheese: finely shredded  

Kosher dill pickles:  sliced and snacked on.  

Spices:  cumin, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, and smokey paprika.  It’s like making your own taco seasoning.  Extra delicious.  

Tequila:  a sip for us and for good measure.

While you’re at it… maybe make a full jar of taco seasoning for future taco adventures?  Yes:  Taco Seasoning + Charred Corn Tacos.  

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Marakesh Carrots

Marrakesh Carrots

Marrakesh Carrots

Someone in my family (I forget exactly who to blame for these memories), was very fond of adding grated carrots to the bottom of their Jell-o molds for holiday dessert.  Come to think of it, there were grated carrots and a can of fruit cocktail at the bottom of the red Jell-o mold dessert.  Criminal.  At least the Jell-o was red. 

There are things better things to do with shredded carrots.  Things that are less jiggly, and frankly, less rude.  This carrot salad fits the bill.  It’s hearty, sweet and spicy, salty and crunchy, durable enough to last a few days in the refrigerator, and just generally polite… not rude at all.  

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This recipe comes from Sara Forte’s brilliant salad-brain. You know Sprouted Kitchen? Beautiful, whole, and healthy food (and a really cute baby, too). The new Sprouted Kitchen book Bowl + Spoon is a tasty collections of breakfast bowls, salads, and sides that are elevated, healthful, but still totally comforting.

Tracy made Beet + Avocado Poke Bowls from the book.  The beets are gorgeous.  

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Kiwi Mint Mojitos

Kiwi Mint Mojitos

Kiwi Mint Mojitos

It’s time we start perfecting our Porch Sit game.  

A Porch Sit is a late-afternoon gathering of friends, neighbors, a dog or two, a guitar or harmonica (optional), overlapping conversations, and sweet cold cocktails.  

A Porch Sit is vital to summer, happy relationships, and good health.  They stretch on into the evening and usually coincide with snacks, some sort of pasta salad, and a small dose of half-whispered gossip.

Cocktails are only part of the equation.  Part but essential.   

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How To Make The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Im not one for secrets.  Especially where chocolate is involved. 

I always have a few tricks up my sleeve and I can never keep them secrets for long.  Brown sugar baked bacon is one secret.  Sweet, salty, crisp, and perfect.  Adding that bacon to biscuits,  completely over the top good!  Brown butter in everything, most especially chocolate chip cookies…. another secret I just couldn’t keep to myself.  

Today another secret comes out.  We’re talking about the most perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  Soft, glossy, light and spreadable… and the secret ingredients are Rich Chocolate Ovaltine and heavy cream!  Malted chocolate milk powder and cream to add extra body, and a light whipped texture to our frosting.  It’s unexpected and perfect!  

I hope there is cake (and waaaay too much buttercream) in your future.  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Here’s what you’ll need:

• Three sticks (1 1/2 cups or 12 ounces) softened, unsalted butter.  I think it’s best to leave the butter out overnight to softened to room temperature through and through.  Softening butter in the microwave makes the butter more melty than soft and can break our perfect buttercream,  

•  Unsweetened cocoa powder, and lots of it.

•  Salt, to balance the mountain of powdered sugar.

•  A mountain of powdered sugar. 

•  Milk for moisture and softness.

•  Rich Chocolate Ovaltine, the chocolate malted milk powder adds a creamy softness to this buttercream and makes it extra rich, glossy, and luscious.  

•  Heavy cream because, always.  

•  Extra credit:  pure vanilla extract.  

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Maple Tamari Roasted Almonds

Maple Tamari Roasted Almonds

Maple Tamari Roasted Almonds

I have to find clever ways to NOT buy a bag of potato chips at the grocery store.  By ‘clever’ I mean I just don’t go down the chip aisle.  It’s my danger zone.  I know that if I do, I’ll likely eat potato chips for lunch and dinner that day, and repeat that same process for probably three days straight.  

I like salt and crunch.  I really like potato chips.  More than most.  More than many.  

I have to find creative ways to satiate my salt-tooth (like a sweet-tooth but different), and that means making my own gobble-able snack.  

These salty tamari and maple roasted almonds are all the spicy, salt, sweet, and crunch I need.  They’re not potato chips but… well, not even close but dang good, healthy and satisfying.  

Did I mention that I really like potato chips?  Just checking… 

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Strawberry Lattice Pie

Strawberry Lattice Pie

Strawberry Lattice Pie

It’s Summer Pie Practice Season.  Isn’t that what you call Spring?  

Beautiful strawberries are starting to hit the markets, and they’re a bit early for super sweetness, but not too early to start experimenting with pies and practicing our lattice technique!  

I hope this coming weekend finds you in the kitchen baking away.  Maybe throw some blueberries in this pie, or a handful of raspberries.  It’s the perfect time to get our Summer frame of mind right.  Also, doesn’t everyone want a pie in their house come Sunday night?  

Strawberry Lattice Pie

These strawberries are big, beautiful, and not quite sweet enough for pie.  Not to worry… nothing a little brown sugar can’t fix right up.  

For more in pie adventures, see:  Gluten-Free Strawberry Ginger Pie or Peach and Blueberry Pie… though it’s a little soon for peaches.  I suppose we just need to be more patient before we get all Summer-pie-happy.  

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Crispy Avocado Fries with Melty Cheese Dip

Avocado Fries

Avocado Fries with melty chess dip

It’s starting to look like I moved to New Orleans as an excuse to deep fry my California vegetables, make melty cheese dip, live off Red Beans and Rice, and plate after plate of fresh beignets.  That’s to say nothing of the sazeracs and oysters.

Truth is, I moved to New Orleans for the suffocating humidity alone.  

Not true at all.  No one has ever ever done that.  

We’ve entered into the 12 most beautiful days of the year here in New Orleans.  After living here for one year, I’m talking like I know…

These are the 12 days when it’s perfectly warm with pleasantly bearable humidity, long pink sunsets, and almost cool evenings.  It’s the perfection before the wrath of summer.  It’s… well, it’s what California is like ALL THE TIME.  

Let’s not talk about it anymore… let’s just fry these avocados. 

Avocado Fries with melty chess dip

Can I tell you a secret about free avocados?  

If you’re in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans or Brooklyn you can place an order with the awesome people of Good Eggs and receive a free bag of avocados!  Seems like the very best idea. 

Photographs by the lovely Gabrielle Geiselman with styling (aka throwing food around) by me.  Gabrielle is my friend, neighbor, and fellow avocado fiend.  

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Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

Buttery + Salty Marshmallow Popcorn Crunch

What if there could be a treat that was like Rice Krispie treats, but also like a bowl of kettle corn, and then also salty, but then dotted with an obnoxious amount of sprinkles?  That would be good news.  Actually, that would be what’s happening here!

It’s success and celebration, all in a popcorn bowl.  

Happy Monday!  Just go for it: sprinkle and marshmallow everything today.   

Related:  I’m really into aggressively-flavored popcorn… Roy Choi’s Furikake Kettle Corn

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Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings

The days really are warming.  There are the prettiest strawberries in the market.  It might almost be time to daydream about watermelon wedges.  But… I still need soup.  The unapologetically comforting kind of soup with soft carrots, big bites of chicken, almost too much thyme, and the fluffiest floating dumplings.  

It’s Winter comforts in Spring.  Let’s bridge the gap.  You know… like wearing a light scarf or shoes with no socks… except this is food and way way delicious.    

Chicken and Dumplings

Boneless and skinless chicken thighs to start.  I like chicken thighs because they’re more fatty and flavorful than chicken breast.  Always go for flavor!  

The meat is seasoned well and browned in hot hot olive oil.  This is where the layers of flavor begin.  

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Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate Cookies

Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate

Peanut Butter Bacon and Dark Chocolate

These cookies are asking for your attention.  Not so much begging or pleading, but asking nicely for you to pay attention.  

They’re here to tell you that they’re a little to big, a little too sweet, have a little too much bacon, and yea… too much chocolate, too.  They’re crisp and they don’t care about your affection for chewy.  They’re gluten-free, but really… they never needed gluten in the first place.  They’re the boss.  They know it.  Don’t play.

Peanut Butter.

Bacon.  

Dark Chocolate.  

Get on the bandwagon before these cookies raise their voice.  Nobody wants that. 

See also:  Peanut Butter Bacon Pancakes.  Sorry.  Also, not sorry. 

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Cheddar Croissant Donuts with Honey Mustard

Cheddar Croissant Donuts

Cheddar Croissant Donuts

Can you even remember who you were before you knew that we could turn donuts into croissants and croissants into donuts?  I can’t remember either.  None of that time must have been important.  It’s like life before Instagram… can we even call that life?  

 What if we add cheese to croissant donuts?  What kind of maniacs would we be?  Like mad scientists with cheese on our lips and honey mustard in our hair.  

Well… here’s how!  

Cheddar Croissant Donuts

Golden brown.  Melty cheddar.  Not a care in the world… well, fewer cares at least.

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Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet Cake

Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet

Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet

I was looking for rainbow carrots.  I was thinking we’d roast some carrots… you know, sit around a plate of carrots and just chat.

And then, nope.  

Turns out strawberries are in season!  Now.  Already.  It’s time!

Maybe still a little too soon for the white jeans and the flip flops (shut up California and Florida), but strawberries are here and we have major reason to celebrate (with dumplings).  

Come with it! 

Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet

 Strawberries have yet to reach their peek in sweetness and extreme loveliness.  When in doubt: ROAST! And there better be butter and a little bit of sugar.

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New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

It’s taken me entirely too long to get to soak my red beans.  A year!  I’ve lived in New Orleans a year and I’ve never soaked my red beans to make a pot of Red Beans and Rice.  Some nerve, really.  

Red Beans and Rice is a Monday night New Orleans tradition.  I thought Monday nights were reserved for red wine, salty popcorn, and M&M dinner… turns out I was totally mistaken.  All the way wrong.  

Red Beans and Rice is a Monday tradition because Monday was considered the “wash-day”…. laundry.  Red Beans could cook on the stove, mostly unattended, all day while the laundry was done.  Also, Red Beans could be made with the precious ham hock reserved from Sunday supper.  In other words, everything makes sense.  Ham, red beans, Monday laundry.  New Orleans is doing it right and I need to get my act (and my laundry) together.  

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

Let’s get this pot on the stove!  

Classic Camellia Red Beans, dried but soaked.  

Major soup flavors like onion, garlic, celery, pepper, and pancetta.  

Parsley and thyme for fresh herb notes.  Bay leaf for base flavors. Good chicken stock for roundness.  

Lastly, smoked sausage, sliced, for that perfect layer of salty smoky pork.  

Rice too!  And it’s almost dinner! 

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Gluten-Free and Gluten-Full Zucchini Pistachio Bread

Gluten-Free and Gluten-Full Zucchini Pistachio Bread

Gluten-Free and Gluten-Full Zucchini Pistachio Bread

First things first when moving into a new kitchen:  figure out where to put your silverware and your stand mixer.  Second things second when moving into a new kitchen:  make some sort of spiced quick-bread to make the whole house smell exactly like home.  

I’m a strong believer in this theory.  It’s important to make a house smell like a home, and no amount of banana bread scented candles will do the trick.  They would do the opposite of the trick.  

Last time I moved:  banana bread.  

This go’round:  zucchini bread two ways, gluten-free and waaay gluten-full.  Experiments and good smells all up in this new kitchen!

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